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Toronto Month in Review - December

Recapping news from the Toronto area

by Toronto Media Co-op members

Mothers occupy Metro Hall. Photo by: ANDREW MINDSZENTHY
Mothers occupy Metro Hall. Photo by: ANDREW MINDSZENTHY

Seven climate change activists were arrested for occupying the riding office of federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, the Toronto Sun reported. The action was part of a series of occupations that took place in cities across Canada in the lead up to climate negotiations in Copenhagen. The activists were demanding Canada take greater action to reduce climate change. 

 
Climate changes activists in Toronto marched through the malls under Toronto's financial district, reported the Toronto Media Co-op. They said they were acting in solidarity with activists protesting the Tar Sands outside the Canadian embassy in Copenhagen.  
 
The Toronto Humane Society (THS) was raided by police and their boards of directors and top paid staff were arrested on charges of cruelty to animals. An ideological battle has broiled for years between the two organizations over their philosophies on euthanizing animals. The THS is reluctant to euthanize, while the OSPCA says leaving suffering and unwanted animals alive is cruel. The THS has hired a lawyer and the battle has moved to the courts. Most recently the THS filed papers to sue the OSPCA for $15 million.
 
Toronto city council voted 29 to 12 in favour of a ban on corporations and unions donating money to candidates in next year's municipal elections, said the Toronto Star. Last month, the Star said two of the expected candidates for mayor, John Tory and George Smitherman, "have relied on such donations in the past." Both men come from the world of provincial politics.
 

Rocco Rossi has declared himself a candidate for mayor. He is a backroom Liberal who brands himself as a fiscal conservative. According to the Toronto Star, he says he would sell off Toronto Hydro if elected in order to pay the city's $2.4-billion deficit.

Glen Murray
, a former mayor of Winnipeg, will be running for provincial office in the seat vacated by George Smitherman. Earlier this year, Murray considered running against Smitherman to become mayor of Toronto. The CBC reports Smitherman has given Murray his blessing to run in his vacated seat.  

Long time City Coun. Kyle Rae announced he will not be running for re-election next fall, reports spacing.ca.
 
Parts of Metro Hall were occupied by 200 protesters after the city's welfare department stopped recognizing doctor-signed forms that would allow for extra social assistance to pay for healthy food, reported CP24 and the Toronto Media Co-op. The protesters were mostly Somali mothers on social assistance.

Fifty anti-poverty activists stormed a streetcar using protest “transfers” made by the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP). They were protesting the impending rise in cost of tokens and metro passes, reported Linchpin and Rabble.
 
The Toronto Women's Bookstore found itself in financial troubles and was forced to send out a call to supporters to ask for donations in order to stay afloat, reported CP24
 
First Nations protesters snarled downtown traffic to demonstrate against the proposed Harmonized Sales Tax. The new tax would combine the PST and GST. Currently natives are exempt from PST and pay GST only while on reserve, the HST would repeal these exemptions. The Toronto Star quoted one protester saying, "We have an inherent right not to pay it," because "we're allies of the Queen, not subjects."
 
The city's executive committee is proposing to change how it repays a quarter of the city's debt. Instead of a 10-year term for repayment, it is considering a 30-year term. If passed, the proposal would save $67 million from next year's budget but require an extra $1 billion in interest over the loan's full term.
 
While most city departments have been asked to slash their budgets by five per cent, the Police Services Board has recommended to council that the police budget receive a 4.8 per cent increase in funding for 2010, reported the Toronto Star. The additional $41 million would bring the total budget to $896.2 million.  
 
If the city's executive committee gets its way, $25.7 billion will be spent over the next 10 years on new capital projects. According to the National Post, the money would be spent on "police stations, child-care centres, libraries and a pool for the Pan Am Games, among other investments."
 
A few hundred activists gathered outside Immigration Minister Jason Kenney's office tower to oppose his proposed changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and the failures of the immigration system, reported Rabble. Under the plan, after Temporary Foreign Workers spend four years working in Canada, they will not be eligible to work in Canada for the following six years. 
 

Hundreds rallied in support of embattled Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion, reported the National Post. She is facing a judicial inquiry into allegations of using her position to help her son make a business deal.

After a long campaign by public space activists, the City of Toronto passed a tax on billboardsThe CBC reported that the new tax is expected to raise $10.4 million, part of which will pay for arts programs in the city. The tax will come into effect in April 2010.

Igor Kenk, who was accused of selling stolen bikes from his Queen Street shop, reached a settlement and pleaded guilty to stealing ten bicycles, reported the Toronto Star. The deal also saw Kenk plead guilty to several drug-related charges. He was sentenced to 30 months in jail. The province will sell his property and keep the proceeds.

About 200 protesters chanting “No Olympics on stolen native land” disrupted and delayed the Olympic torch relay as it made its way to Nathan Phillips Square, according to the Toronto Media Co-op. A few days later, protesters at Six Nations were successful in forcing organizers to divert the route so it not pass through their territory.

Opponents of Canadian-owned mines were assassinated in Guatemala, El Salvador and Mexico in three separate incidents. A vigil was held outside the TSX, where two of the companies are listed.

Construction workers plunged 13 storeys when the platform they were standing on collapsed. Four men died and fifth was in critical condition, reported the CBC. Police and the Ministry of Labour are investigating the incident.
 
Toronto Month in Review is a project of the Toronto Media Co-op, a recently started initiative project to write about under-reported issues in Toronto. You can visit our site at toronto.mediacoop.ca. To find out more information, or to get involved you can email toronto@mediacoop.ca  
 

 


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