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Toronto Month in Review - January part 2

Recapping news from the Toronto area

by Toronto Media Co-op members


 

++ send an email to torontomonthinreview@gmail.com to regularly receive an email version of the Month in Review ++ 

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) says people will take 11 million fewer rides this year due to their recent fare hike, dropping the annual ridership to 462 million. Even with fewer riders, the fare hike is expected to raise $36 million in revenue. The TTC also voted to establish a "blue ribbon panel" and hire a private consultant to help deal with the bitter sentiment of riders that has emerged due to the fare hike and sub-par customer service.

The organizers of Toronto's Gay Pride festivities are consulting the public on how to deal with an anticipated controversy surrounding Queers Against Israeli Apartheid's participation in the parade. According to the National Post, the group's website says it "was formed to work in solidarity with queers in Palestine and Palestinian resistance movements around the world" but a member of the group Citizens Reclaiming Our Pride believes "the inclusion of a group that brands Israel as an apartheid state creates a hateful and exclusionary environment."
 
A series of unconnected traffic accidents across the GTA have led to at least 14 pedestrian deaths so far this year. The deaths have prompted police to issue dozens of tickets to pedestrians. 
 
Legal battles are ongoing against men alleged to have planned terrorist attacks in Toronto, as part of a group dubbed the Toronto 18. A man who infiltrated their group on behalf of the police told a Brampton court he was motivated by morals, not the $4.1 million he was paid to act as an informant. He initially asked the RCMP to pay him $15 million. His testimony was critical in some of the guilty verdicts of some of the men. One received a life sentence. Another man who was found guilty has asked to have the case stayed, claiming he was a victim of entrapment
 
An advertisement opposing a plan to have the City of Markham protect 2,000 hectares of agricultural land from a high-rise development may have secretly have been paid for by a man who bought some of the land that would be protected. The name of a construction company owned by the man appeared on a proof for the ad but the company denies financial involvement.
 
Five Toronto police drug squad officers who are accused of corruption are calling on the Supreme Court to throw out their charges due to lengthy delays by the Crown in bring them to trial. They were arrested in 2002. In October, the Ontario Court of Appeals overturned a ruling by a lower court that threw out the charges.
 
In a rare move, an investor being probed for fraudulent conduct was sentenced to four month in jail after he refused to appear at a hearing of the Ontario Securities Commission.
 
The Ontario Court of Appeals has ruled that 70 per cent of the profits from Casino Rama should be shared with the other 133 band councils in Ontario, in addition to the Mnjikaning First Nation, which hosts the Casino. Previously, 35 per cent of the earnings were shared with the other band councils.
 
Thousands of people gathered in Toronto and other cities across Canada to oppose Prime Minister Steven Harper's suspension of Parliament. After listening to speeches and singing the national anthem, the Toronto crowd marched through the streets. It is widely believed Harper prorogued Parliament in hopes of having the Vancouver Olympic Games distract Canadians from the Afghan detainee scandal in which his government is embroiled. 
 
Fiona Crean, Toronto's city ombudsman, issued her first major report highlighting numerous problems with city divisions including Revenue Services, Municipal Licensing and Standards and Toronto Community Housing Corporation. A lack of complaints processes, lack of returning calls and problems calculating rent were the main issues she highlighted. Crean also asked for more money, saying her $1.2 million is not enough to "look at the systemic fix" and manage more than 1,000 individual complaints she received. 

Toronto's mayoral race is heating up: Adam Giambrone is set to announce his candidacy on Feb. 1, George Smitherman gained the endorsement of the Carpenters' District Council of Ontario and Rocco Rossi vowed to ban bike lanes and halt light-rail transit lines. Rossi and Joe Pantalone, another mayoral candidate, both suggested that they would sell off City of Toronto assets as a short-term solution to the City's long-term financial deficit.  

Toronto Star columnist Joe Fiorito released a series of articles focused on the abhorrent practices of Toronto Community Housing Corporation in the eviction of 82-year-old Al Gosling. Mr. Gosling was evicted from Toronto Community Housing due to a paperwork error; he then became sick and died. According to a source from the Toronto Inter-clinic Public Housing Working Group, a group of legal aid lawyers in Toronto, Toronto Community Housing Corporation asked the Star's editors to stop Fiorito from writing articles about the situation.
Citytv stations across the country laid off 60 employees this month. In Toronto, three news programs were cut due to the layoffs. In another case of media layoffs, the Toronto Star reached a deal with its union that reduced 78 planned layoffs to only 43 layoffs, and agreed not to outsource work. 
 
The Federal Government has offered the Mississaugas of the New Credit band council $145 million to settle to two outstanding land claim disputes, including the Toronto Purchase of 1805. The band council has made clear that it is only interested in money, not in becoming owners of the disputed land along the Toronto lakeshore.
 
The Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police, Julian Fantino, received a summons to appear in court for a case surrounding whether he unfairly influenced municipal politicians in Caledonia in regards to native land reclamation. The charges against Fantino were brought by Gary McHale, who the media has been referring to simply as an activist. However, McHale has also been accused of being a racist with ties to white supremacist organizations. McHale denies these accusations.
 
City councillor Adrian Heaps withdrew his claim on $36,000 council agreed to give him to cover legal costs for a lawsuit filed against him before he became a city councillor. The suit was filed by another candidate for his council seat. He withdrew the claim after the councillors who voted for his reimbursement were sued by a group of citizens. The announcement came just before the matter was set to be debated in a council meeting.
 
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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