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Newsstand: July 8, 2014

Apparently deaths related to opioid painkillers in the province increased by a seriously alarming 250 per cent between 1991 and 2010. It looks like that early-'90s PSA in which the furry blue puppet ran around singing to not put drugs in your mouth didn’t have the intended effect. In the news: Ceta Ramkhalawansingh and James Maloney are the newest kids on the city council block, a former aide to Karen Stintz backs away from supporting the Scarborough subway, a park named after two (out of three) members of Rush, and beer marketing goes bad.

matt newsstand bikelane

Ceta Ramkhalawansingh and James Maloney, come on down! It is your turn on the never-ending gameshow that is municipal politics! Yesterday, Toronto City Council voted to appoint two new councillors to fill vacant seats. Congrats to James Maloney, who was appointed to Ward 5, Etobicoke-Lakeshore, and Ceta Ramkhalawansingh, to Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina. Maloney, a partner at law firm Hughes Amys LLP, defeated former Etobicoke city councillor Agnes Potts to win his seat, while Ramkhalawansingh—who was once the City of Toronto’s manager of diversity management and community engagement—beat out Robert Lunney, much to the chagrin of council’s right-leaning members who supported him. Both Maloney and Ramkhalawansingh have ruled out running for their seats in the election this fall.

It has been too long since someone tried to re-open the Scarborough subway extension debate. And so, enter Jean-Pierre Boutros, the former aide to Karen Stintz who is filling the gap for us by backing away from his support of the Scarborough subway extension. Calling it a fiscally irresponsible plan, Boutros—who is running to replace Stintz in Ward 16, Eglinton-Lawrence—says that light rails should win out in the end. He now hopes that Kathleen Wynne’s newly-elected majority government might put pressure on the municipal government to re-open the issue, which is a possibility. So far, no environmental assessment for the subway extension has commenced, and the 2012 deal for the originally planned LRT is still being renegotiated by the City, the Toronto Transit Commission, and Metrolinx.

If City Councillor John Fillion (Ward 23, Willowdale) has anything to say about it, a Willowdale green space will be named the Lee Lifeson Art Park, after musicians Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson of Rush. Fillion says the band’s Willowdale roots make them ideal candidates to be namesakes of the new park. “They are phenomenal musicians,” Fillion explains. “They formed in Willowdale, they grew up in Willowdale, they even have songs that speak to the suburban experience.” The community response has been positive so far, and a final vote on the future name of the park is set to take place on August 15. This is all fine, but what about poor Neil Peart? Why leave him out? Sure, technically he’s from Hamilton, but people from Hamilton have feelings too. Someone should start an online petition to get a park named after Peart and his massive drum kit, just for good measure.

Finally, it is unlikely that anyone really needed another reason to dislike Coors Light, but that didn’t stop them from giving you one. Yesterday, a marketing gimmick for the brand went completely awry, causing the intersection of Spadina Avenue and Dundas Street West to be closed for two hours during the height of evening rush hour. How did this happen? Well, a grey case was placed at a streetcar stop as part of an online promotional campaign, which prompted calls that a suspicious package had been left unattended. Police and crews descended to the scene to investigate, which required the area to be cordoned off to all traffic at around 5 PM. Coors Light took to Twitter to issue several canned apology tweets to frustrated commuters. Today’s forecast for the marketing brains trust behind this awful stunt seems cloudy with a slight chance of firings.

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