Newsstand: June 23, 2014




Newsstand: June 23, 2014

Hearing about the 30-degree heat and 80-per-cent humidity that World Cup players are dealing with really puts local weather into perspective, doesn't it? Anyway, here's some Monday news for you. City officials were unhappy about the province's plan to provide food aid to citizens during last winter's ice storm, a U of T student has been arrested in Tajikistan, and WorldPride is an economic boon to Toronto businesses.

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City officials were skeptical of the province’s push to distribute aid during last winter’s ice storm, the Globe and Mail reports. Documents and emails obtained via access-to-information requests show Toronto city manager Joe Pennachetti was especially concerned; Pennachetti emailed provincial official Barney Owens to complain that the city’s Ontario Works offices were “being inundated as we feared.” He also noted that food-aid programs like the one the province wound up implementing are typically left to private insurers to put in place. The food program was somewhat disorderly; many citizens waited hours for grocery gift certificates only to find they had all been given out.

University of Toronto PhD student Alexander Sodiqov has been arrested in Tajikistan. The political science student is a Tajik citizen who had returned to conduct research. He was arrested on suspicion of treason and espionage during a meeting with civil-society activists. Sodiqov was conducting field research on conflict resolution, looking into the Tajik civil war (a taboo subject) for a British professor at the University of Exeter. Because Sodiqov is not a Canadian citizen the federal government here is under no legal obligation to fight for his release. A Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development spokesperson told the National Post that the government is “aware of reports that a citizen from Tajikistan, studying in Canada has been arrested in Khorugh, Tajikistan.”

Pride is always a big affair, but this year it’s especially so: Toronto is hosting WorldPride, and is expecting a 66-per-cent increase in attendance. Businesses both in the city’s gay district and elsewhere have come to rely on the 10 days of Pride festivities for a good chunk of their revenue. “Pride Week represents our profit for the year,” Cafe California owner Vince Moneva told the Globe and Mail. “If it wasn’t for Pride, we wouldn’t be able to survive.” The festival’s organizer, Pride Toronto, estimates that the economic impact of the 2013 festival on the city was $286 million. This year, with the added boost of WorldPride, the impact is expected to be much bigger.