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Toronto Month in Review - November Part II

Recapping news from the Toronto area

by Toronto Media Co-op members

Protesters hold up signs outside the Sri Lankan consulate. Photo Credit: John Bonnar
Protesters hold up signs outside the Sri Lankan consulate. Photo Credit: John Bonnar

City council will vote on a package of election reforms on Dec. 2, reports the Toronto Star. They include a measure to ban candidates for mayor or councillor if they have received corporate or union donations. If passed, it will have a significant impact on the city's municipal election in the fall of 2010.  The Toronto Star says in another article that two of the expected candidates for mayor, John Tory and George Smitherman, who both come from the world of provincial politics, "have relied on such donations in the past."

Mayor David Miller has expressed outrage the the voters lists used by the City in municipal elections favours home owners over tenants. According to the Globe and Mail, the city cannot legally compile its own voters lists but must rely on the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC), which often overlooks tenants when monitoring properties across the province.

According to the Globe and Mail, councillor Joe Pantalone will run for Mayor.

About 600 protesters gathered outside the Sri Lankan consulate in Toronto calling for the release of Tamil civilians from refugee camps in Sri Lanka, and for NGO's and the media to be allowed into the camps, reported the Toronto Star. Liberal MP Bob Rae and NDP Leader Jack Layton were among those to address the crowd. According to CP24, 800 high school students protested the refugee camps the following week by vowing to be silent for a day and placing red tape over their mouths.  

The large Tamil population in Toronto and other Tamils outside of Sri Lanka may be able to vote in a December referendum on the future of the Tamil state, reports the CBC. Despite being defeated militarily in Sri Lanka and being a listed as a terrorist organization in Canada, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) hope to hire an independent firm to hold the vote on the future of their state, hoping to turn their military struggle into a political one.

A fire at a Buddhist temple is suspected to have been arson. The Temple is frequented by Sri Lankans of Sinhalese origin. According to the CBC, worshippers blamed a fire at the same building in May on local supporters of the Tamil Tigers.

The CEO of Torstar said that budget cuts will be made at the Toronto Star and staff may be laid off, reported CP24

A report jointly commissioned by the Toronto Police Service and the Toronto and Cat holic district school boards claims to show the success of the program placing police officers inside schools, reports the CBC. Nineteen fewer offenses in schools were reported last year than the year before, dropping the number of offenses to 70. Full-time officers now patrol 50 high schools across the city. Last month high school students protested the presence of armed officers inside their schools.

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) voted to increase transit fees in January. According to the Toronto Sun, the price of all tokens, tickets and Metropasses will go up. Starting in September, post-secondary students who use a Metropass will be able to receive a discount previously only available to high school students.
 

Sales of TTC tokens have been suspended, with temporary tickets being issued in their place, according to CP24. In order to save money after the upcoming TTC fare hike, people have been "hoarding" tokens and supplies are running low. 
 
Efforts are under way in Toronto to set up a transit riders union based of the L.A. transit riders union. The Toronto Star say the union is being organized by the anti-poverty group ACORN and the Toronto & York Region Labour Council. 
 
The TTC is spending more than $10 billion on new subway and streetcar lines, as well as subway trains and streetcars, even though they don't have the money to pay for the improvements, states the National Post. This month a $40-million project for a dedicated bus lane to York University from Downsview Station went into action and the TTC unveiled plans for a crosstown Eglinton LRT.
 

An audit in the City of Vaughn uncovered that the son of a city councillor received over $1 million in untendered contracts from the city, reported the Toronto Star.
 

Despite a judge declaring a law against street-racing unconstitutional, police will continue to lay charges. Under the law, charges lead to an automatic conviction and there is no option to mount a defense, reported the Toronto Star.   
 
The Globe and Mail claims that Steven Harper is making plans to have the G20 summit of world leaders held in the Toronto area in June 2010. It would be held after the G8 summit which is taking place north of the city in Huntsville, Ont. from June 25-27, 2010.
 
Toronto Public Health suspended some programs as they redeployed staff to work on the H1N1 influenza pandemic. The Toronto Star says the cut programs include "some sexual health clinics, home visits for new mothers and some food safety inspections."
 
The private consortium that runs the Highway 407 express toll road has been accused of unfair billing practices. Bills are sent years after the use of the road with 26.82% interest, sometimes totalling thousands of dollars. According to the Star, Minister of Transportation Jim Bradley said, "We, as a government, have no control over that, as a result of the (Mike) Harris government's deal." The 99-year contract forces the Ministry of Transportation to deny new plates to anyone who doesn't pay the 407 whatever it demands.
 

A fight broke out between prisoners at Millhaven Institution, near Kingston. According to CP24 it took five hours for staff to regain control of the situation, despite firing warning shots and using chemical weapons.

 

In Oakville, a gas-fired power station that is being billed as a cleaner alternative to coal is scheduled to open in 2013. The Globe and Mail says "the town's moneyed elite" who live nearby have mounted a campaign to stop the plant.

Canadian Business's 2009 lists of the richest Canadians shows that despite the economic crisis which has lead to 400,000 lost Canadian jobs, the rich in this country continue getting richer. Topping the list at $21.9 billion is the Toronto-based Thompsom Family, who own Thompson Reuters and Woodbridge Co. Ltd. 

Now Magazine has highlighted four area that could go wrong in the lead up to the Pan Am games, which Toronto will host in 2015. They listed cost overruns, the displacement of the homeless and other marginalized people, creating facilities that aren't accesible to the public and low attendance from visiting spectators.

The Toronto Star and the Dominion reported that Ontario Superior Courts found that Irshad Ahmed, a 25-year old Toronto man, was racially profiled twice last year and arrested for "driving while black." The courts also found that Toronto police officers lied to the court in both instances.

The Toronto Humane Society was raided by police and five of its officials were charged with cruelty to animals, reported the CBC.


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