Newsstand: June 10, 2014




Newsstand: June 10, 2014

Congratulations to Eugene Goostman from Odessa, Ukraine. He isn’t even a real person, but a chatterbot that maybe passed the Turing Test, proving (if you both put faith in the Turing Test and believe Eugene passed it) it is basically a human. Welcome to The Singularity. In the news: Elections Ontario says advance voter turnout is down 6 per cent, the OPP says gas plant scandal documents will not be ready until after the election, a union tells its media worker members not to vote for Tim Hudak, and fire hydrants.

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Elections Ontario says that 566,845 people voted during the seven days of advance polling last week, ahead of this Thursday’s Ontario general election. The number represents a 6 per cent drop from the 603,785 advance ballots that were cast before the 2011 provincial election. Granted, there were 10 days of advance polls in 2011, compared to just seven this year, but pollsters from Abacus Data say they are seeing patterns lately where more undecided voters are waiting to decide during this election campaign’s final days, which may explain the drop. Since we are already wearing our pessimist hats this morning, it could also signal more abysmal voter turnout. The 2011 election saw just 48.2 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot, and if the dip in advance polls is any indication of what overall voter participation will be like this Thursday, the downward trend will continue. Don’t let that happen, people! Have voting parties, and make it into a drinking game if you have to.

For any undecided voters who had hoped to get a glimpse of what is in the documents that the Ontario Provincial Police obtained from Queen’s Park staffers as part of their ongoing investigation into the gas plant cancellation email scandal before casting your ballot, you should be aware that isn’t going to happen. Media organizations that have been attempting to gain access to the information have been told that administrative hold-ups mean that the public will see them no earlier than June 19, a week after the election.

One thing is certain, though: Unifor Local 87-M—the union that represents 2,600 media workers at 35 workplaces in Ontario—does not want its members to vote for the Progressive Conservatives. In a controversial news release issued on Monday, the union says that PC Leader Tim Hudak’s support of American-style labour law reform is bad news for its membership. Unifor Local 87-M president Paul Morse realizes that it is a bold decision to enter into any political discussion, given the union’s strict policies against entering the election fray through candidate endorsements and financial support of election campaigns. The move has met with criticism on Twitter (where all modern public grievances are aired) by some Conservative MPs who lashed out. Federal Employment Minister Jason Kenney tweeted “Journalists’ union picks sides in ON election, but we’re told to believe there’s no such thing as liberal media bias.” Even some journalist members of Unifor were upset over the move, with the Globe and Mail‘s Boyd Erman tweeting, “Absolutely appalled by journalist union (i.e. mine) taking a (any) political stand. We should be bigger than this.” Well, Erman actually had an entire Twitter-feed of things to say about it.

It isn’t all election news, all the time. Nope, there are also fire hydrants to discuss. A new fire hydrant called the Sigelock Spartan—which resembles the top of a periscope, or some strange alien device—is said to be the first innovation in fire hydrant design in a century. Apparently it will never freeze or require maintenance, and it could also be the future for Toronto, where some of the 44,000 hydrants in the city are pushing 80-years-old. According to Toronto Water, current hydrants across the city are designed to drain off water to prevent freezing, but each winter inspections reveal that between 100-150 hydrants freeze and stop working anyway.