Weekend Newsstand: January 14, 2012
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Weekend Newsstand: January 14, 2012

I wonder, if I take you home, would you still be in love with me? In love with me? I honestly doubt it after you read today’s phunked-up news: Cheap beer to be slightly less cheap, McGuinty knew about ORNGE last year, outside workers offer to take a pay freeze, and the mayor may be called to the stand.

First, we shall get the most important and devastating news out of the way. Liquor and beer prices are going up in March. There. We said it. Please don’t shoot the messengers. We are tender in places you may not expect. (Actually, it’s not that bad unless you like super-cheap booze. And since you are likely a downtown elitist if you are reading this, we suspect you do not. Jokes, right? Jokes!)

What was once a ho-hum afternoon at Queen’s Park has become one of those days of legend and lore. The Toronto Star has uncovered documents that show Premier Dalton McGuinty and Health Minister Deb Matthews were briefed last January about the shady side-businesses being run by Ontario’s air ambulance service, and that McGuinty actually met with them to discuss it. An ORNGE executive who was at a meeting said the documents were well received, even though they showed that high-level company staffers stood to make a lot of extra money from what was being portrayed to the public as a non-profit, government-funded service. ORNGE has been in the news lately after its web of for-profit companies and huge salaries paid to its executives was exposed. Its CEO, Chris Mazza, is paid $1.4 million, and is currently on a medical leave that mysteriously began as soon as the proverbial shit hit the helicopter blades. It took the province nearly a year after that briefing to swoop in and shake things up. Efficiency: government style!

In a move that could make city council seem really quite silly, Toronto’s outside workers have offered to accept a three-year wage freeze, sort of out of nowhere. (Remember, Mayor Rob Ford hates unions because they always want to go on strike all the time! That’s why we need to privatize everything!) CUPE Local 416 President Mark Ferguson announced the proposal yesterday, a move he’s hoping will prevent the City from pushing to gut the workers’ job security provisions and help avoid a potential lock-out. Ferguson said the wage freeze would save the city $8.5 million a year—a big carrot at a time when City services are on the chopping block. It’s hard to fathom what council can do now other than accept, even though conciliatory behaviour hasn’t exactly been its strength. So what now? Torontoist suggests: lock ‘em out anyway! You’ll show them! (Seriously, though, don’t!)

If there’s one thing we haven’t seen enough of lately, it’s our mayor being put on the spot and saying awkward things. But we already know he’s lovable, and that he’s great at taking cherished institutions seriously, so it will be a real lark to see him in court. That could happen in April as part of the mayor’s continued refusal to allow a compliance audit on his campaign spending, despite repeatedly saying he’d open his books. City residents Max Reed and Adam Chaleff-Freudenthaler, who are behind the case, released a statement Friday saying the mayor could be forced to testify if he continues his fight against a forensic audit. Seems like as good a day as any to swing by the courthouse, we daresay.