Newsstand: March 26, 2013




Newsstand: March 26, 2013

No fuzzy pandas to report on today. Sorry. In the news: Toronto's Police Chief has harsh words for his force; a senior fire official is facing serious charges; engineering students apologize; the TTC adds more spending for streetcar prep; and new taxes and tolls could help pay to fix Ontario's roads.

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Toronto’s police chief urged the city’s forces not to engage in behaviour that could undermine the public’s trust in them, via a video sent to the 8,000 Toronto Police members last night. Bill Blair criticized force members for “totally unacceptable behaviour” like racist remarks and being untruthful in court in the video, which was shown to the Toronto Star by a police source, and reportedly was even stronger in his wording in a meeting with senior officers. “If you want to be an idiot, you don’t get to be an idiot in our uniform, you don’t get to be an idiot diminishing our organization, and you cannot hide behind the badge to abuse the authority so carefully earned and so carefully used by all of us,” Blair said in the video.

Toronto District Fire Chief Peter Konoplicky is facing serious accusations, including sexual assault and criminal harassment, something the fire department and the City did not inform the public of after his arrest in November. Konoplicky has been charged with sexual assault and criminal harassment, and also faces Human Rights Code complaints of sexual harassment, sexual solicitation, reprisal, and discrimination with respect to employment on the basis of sex and sexual orientation. All the complaints come from a single woman and the incidents are alleged to have taken place at several points between 2008 and 2010. A Toronto Police spokeswoman told the National Post that her office was unaware of the charges until it received a phone call from the paper to inquire about them.

Ryerson engineering students have apologized to the university for an event where junior students crawled through slush in minimal clothing, saying the “tradition” won’t happen again. The students were criticized by the university after a video of the event was posted on YouTube, with Ryerson president calling it “completely unacceptable.” There will be no punishment for the students involved.

It will cost the City nearly $700 million to get its infrastructure ready for the new Toronto streetcars, which are set to start entering the fleet next year. The Toronto Transit Commission just earmarked $58 million for platform and curb modifications and $110 million for new overhead wiring, adding to more than $400 million for a storage and repair yard at Lake Shore Boulevard and Leslie Street, $17 million on electrical for street ticket-vending machines, and $75 million to modify existing carhouses.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne hinted that tolls and taxes could be coming to help pay for repair on the province’s roads and maintenance. “The fact is whether we find those dedicated funds within the revenue that exists right now or whether there’s a new revenue stream as I’m talking about vis-a-vis transit, I’m very aware that infrastructure is a challenge for us,” Wynne said. She gave no further details on what the levies could be, or where in the province they would be seen.