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Newsstand: July 29, 2014

As July wanes we quickly approach the August long weekend, or Simcoe Day as we Torontonians call it. Our Hamilton neighbours call it George Hamilton Day, which is either to honour the city’s “official” founder, or the perfectly bronzed character actor from the show Dynasty. In the news: Mayor Rob Ford’s campaign team clashes with East York debate organizers; plagiarism accusations surround a city council hopeful; and Etobicoke neighbours argue over home redesigns.

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It was a different setting, but yesterday’s mayoral debate in East York’s Presteign-Woodbine United Church was a rehash of regularly scheduled programming for the five candidates who participated, who debated issues like transit and youth unemployment. Mayor Rob Ford filled the sports analogy quota when he was asked hypothetically whether he would ever endorse another candidate: “Stanley Cup winners don’t hand back the Stanley Cup. We’re in first place, our team is on top,” he said. Although one could argue that the hockey analogies began much earlier in the evening when the mayor’s enforcers—otherwise known as his campaign staff—got into a shoving match with event organizers. Tempers flared when Mayor Ford arrived at the venue with two members of his campaign team, campaign manager Councillor Doug Ford (Ward 2, Etobicoke North) and communications person Amin Massoudi, and were told by event hosts that only one member from each candidate’s campaign office would be permitted to attend. According to the Parkview Hills Community Association, who hosted the event, this policy was communicated to all candidates in advance, in an effort to save the limited seats for area residents. Mayor Ford’s team did not seem to care. Organizers refused and so a not-at-all-childish shoving match ensued. Councillor Ford naturally accused the event organizers of being biased towards John Tory, because Parkview president Justin Van Dette has voiced his support of Tory in the past. Van Dette’s admitted support of Tory didn’t seem to sully the opinions of other candidates, who all seemed capable of following the rule. Eventually both Councillor Ford and Massoudi pushed their way into the event, and Mayor Ford complained the event was “biased.”

A Toronto City Council hopeful who is vying for a seat in Ward 41, Scarborough-Rouge River is being accused of plagiarizing information on his website from other council candidates. Sandeep Srivastava’s campaign website contains passages that were allegedly copied and pasted directly from that of Jason Colterman, who is running in Ward 43, Scarborough East. On Sunday, Colterman noticed that no fewer than 10 paragraphs somehow magically appeared word-for-word on Srivastava’s site. He contacted Srivastava and asked to have the content removed, and it was replaced by a series of bullet points. Adding to the mystery, another seemingly plagiarized passage from Srivastava’s site also appears on the sites of two other candidates from different wards. Several sentences also appear on Ward 9, York Centre candidate Danny Quattrociocchi’s site, as well as that of Ward 1, Etobicoke North hopeful Avtar Minhas.

Anna Craig is a 37-year-old architect who has terminal cancer. Her hope is to renovate her family’s bungalow near Etobicoke’s Colonel Sam Smith Park into a modernized two-story home as a legacy she leaves behind for the son and daughter she shares with husband Ian Ricci. Planned renovations seemed to be going smoothly, until they stalled without warning when a neighbour complained that the designs may depreciate their home value and block sunlight from their upper floors. According to Craig, the letter of complaint to the Etobicoke Committee of Adjustment came on behalf of next-door neighbour Joan Janes. Janes claims to have no knowledge of it, saying it was written and submitted by her son-in-law, a builder named Gary Burtch. Burtch—who doesn’t appear to live at Janes’s residence—says that he doesn’t oppose creative design, but thinks that the plans will have a negative impact on the value of neighbouring homes.

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