First off, happy Canada Day! You’ll be wanting to know what’s closed and when things will explode, we expect. Grocery, liquor, and beer stores; government offices, banks, libraries, and post offices are all too Canadian to stay open today. The TTC and Go transit are on a holiday schedule, and the Eaton Centre is open. Fireworks start at 9:30 p.m. at Ashbridges Bay and 10:30 p.m. at Ontario Place. And, while we’re at it, a little Governor General told us that Michael J. Fox and Julie Payette will be among this year’s inductees to the Order of Canada.
A British comedian who attends political events as a member of the “Love Police” has been arrested for impersonating a police officer during the G20. This is true. In this incriminating video, twenty-nine-year-old Charlie Veitch strolls through Toronto dispensing such important public announcements as “You are not beautiful and unique snowflakes,” and “Do not point your camera at the building, because the building has feelings as well.” Veitch also tells a private security guard he is both an undercover British military intelligence operative and a Metropolitan Police officer “fully authorized at the highest levels,” which turns out not to have been fully accurate. According to a spokesperson, Toronto Police are taking the matter “extremely seriously.”
So, some of us might be a little on edge this Canada Day, as the city continues to clean up after the International Incident. Maybe the fireworks will cut some of the tension—if they haven’t been confiscated. Still, it’s a good time to reflect on the meaning of Canadian citizenship. Or, for that matter, the legal definition. Just look at what happened in the case of a sixty-six-year-old Toronto woman who applied for her pension only to learn that she is apparently not Canadian.
Beginning today, over one hundred Starbucks cafés in Toronto now offer free, unlimited wifi access with no password, no time limit, and no other hassles. A marketing expert interviewed by the Star said the move helps distinguish Starbucks as a “leisure destination” in contrast to beloved, blue-collar caffeine holes like Timmy’s. We’d go a step further and say that this move alone justifies daring citizen take-downs of anyone who tries to smash up a Starbucks window.
With a name like “the Commuter Pain Index,” you could probably guess that IBM’s annual report on urban commutes doesn’t focus on the sunny side of weekday mornings. Still, the sheer grimness of Toronto’s scores could surprise you. Our commutes are, in plain numbers, twice as painful as New York’s and 30% more agonizing than LA’s. To add some perspective, though, we are still three times less miserable than commuters in Beijing or Mexico City. The survey includes questions on driving and public transit. Of Torontonians polled, 40% said that commutes have grown worse over three years, nearly half had cut down on exercise and leisure time for commutes, and, when asked what could ease their travel stress, nearly a third said nothing could.
A Danforth neighborhood is under a different kind of commuter pain this week, after residents received a form letter notifying them that three homes on their street will be expropriated and demolished by the TTC to make room for more doors to the Donlands subway station. As if that news alone wasn’t upsetting enough, the residents then learned that the process had been underway for eight years, but they had not been consulted, or even informed, until June 17. For its part, the TTC says that the second exit is necessary to bring the station up to code. Councillor Adam Giambrone (Ward 18, Davenport) has offered assurances that that the TTC is “committed to working with residents.”
And we don’t want to end on a sad note, so consider this a tribute to Molek, the Toronto Zoo’s oldest orangutan, who has been euthanized after suffering kidney failure. Molek, who had just turned thirty-two, was the father of three orangutans—or, to put it differently, one in every 20,000 orangs alive today.