Newsstand: February 11, 2014


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Newsstand: February 11, 2014

Figure skating is like politics, apparently. Scandals flying around everywhere. In the news: distracted drivers in the city get a wakeup call…from a police hearse, Toronto convenience stores really like selling tobacco to minors, a Toronto journalism student creates a Twitter account to document quirky problems at the Olympic Games, and new extreme weather practices are coming to the GTAA this April.

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Well, now this is a first. A hearse has been added to the fleet of Toronto Police vehicles and will be targeting distracted driving on Toronto roads as part of a safety awareness campaign. Complete with a coffin and police lights, the hearse will be stopping drivers as part of the “That Text or Call Could End It All’” safety push that launched yesterday and will run through Sunday. The campaign aims to impress upon Torontonians the dangers of texting and talking while driving. Constable Clint Stibbe says that in the past 24 months, there have been three road fatalities that can be directly linked to cellphone use. Since 2011, there have been over 55,000 charges for distracted driving–related offences in Toronto, which is pretty concerning to say the least. Apparently, there are a lot of people who are so massively important that they cannot wait to check their email or Instagram selfies until after their cars are safely parked.

An Ipsos Reid study sponsored by Canada’s National Brewers revealed that Toronto convenience stores are the worst in Ontario for selling tobacco products to minors. Of the Toronto-area stores that were visited in the study, 56 per cent let minors buy tobacco products without asking for identification, while the province-wide average was closer to 21 per cent. So. Is the lobby group that represents the owners of The Beer Store genuinely concerned that these retailers are selling cigarettes to minors? Or is this an attempt to damage their public credibility as the conversation over allowing convenience stores to sell beer continues? While the research appears sound and certainly isn’t the most encouraging information for concerned parents, it seems you can go forth and call a little bit of shenanigans on this one.

Are you stuck in an elevator? Have you recently summoned your inner Hulk to bust your way out of a bathroom door that will not unlock? If you answered no to these questions, you are probably not reading this from the Olympic Games in Sochi. However, just so you don’t miss out on all the fun, a Twitter account was started by Centennial College journalism student Alex Broad to document the daily hilarity of the technical snafus at the Sochi Olympics. Aptly handled @SochiProblems, the feed includes witty tweets from athletes, event volunteers, and average Joe travellers. It started out as a joke but quickly gained steam—it’s attracted over 345,000 followers since the games began. Cue the countdown to this kid getting his own coffee-table book deal.

Finally, the Greater Toronto Airports Authority announced that it will be making overhauls to extreme weather practices in the wake of controversy over the shutdown of Toronto Pearson International Airport during a cold snap this past January. This April, the GTAA says it will be implementing a series of improvements to operations and communications during extreme weather to avoid future ground stops. Recommendations are set to be vetted by a panel assembled by the GTAA; it will include the former CEO of Winnipeg’s airport authority and the current chief operating officer of London Heathrow Airport in England. The deadline for public feedback and recommendations has been extended to February 21.