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Toronto In Review: December

more Ford, jails, cops and surveillance; less transit, occupations and community radio

by Toronto Media Co-op

Toronto In Review: December
Toronto In Review: December

Revelations have emerged of the existence of an RCMP unit which conducted surveillance on First Nations communities. The so-called Aboriginal JIG, formed in 2007 under the Conservative government, was run by the RCMP Criminal Intelligence branch and the RCMP’s National Security Criminal Investigations (NSCI). The JIG was focused on eighteen “communities of concern,” in five provinces across the country, where indigenous resistance to colonialsim had “escalated to civil disobedience and unrest in the form of protest actions.” The unit was apparently dismantled last year, but the Mounties have refused to confirm whether a similar program is continuing in the field under a different designation.

Occupy Toronto was hanging tough in December after being evicted from St James Park. Squatting empty buildings, as Toronto activists have done in the past, is one among a myriad of strategies that has been considered for the future of the fledgling social movement.

Six of the defendants in the G20 'conspiracy' case, who pled guilty in order to ensure charges were dropped against others, have begun entering prison, with Peter Hopperton, Erik Lankin and Adam Lewis in Penetanguishene and Leah Henderson in the Vanier women's prison in Milton. Alex Hundert and Mandy Hiscocks will be sentenced next week. Both Peter and Alex are frequent contributers to the Toronto Media Co-op.

Ryan Rainville, who pled guilty to hitting a police car with a stick during the G20 protests, received a sentence of time served and 4 months of continued 'house' arrest. Toronto Media Co-op had previously reported on his very severe bail conditions, which amounted to imprisonment in Na-Me-Res men's shelter. Meanwhile, Guelph activist Julian Ichim faces charges for a blog posting which included the pseudonym of an undercover police officer who had befriended him prior to the G20. Julian, who is dealing with health problems, has threatened a hunger strike if he is imprisoned.
 
While the Ford brothers have had their hands full with trying to grapple The Toronto Star, Toronto’s Fighting Ford tag team came out swinging in early December as Doug Ford sent an email to an Toronto District School Board trustee calling for the UFC(Ultimate Fighting Championship) to be promoted in the school system via the UFC Community Works programme. The call to arms, for Toronto’s school children to join in the mixed martial arts sport, came a day after Ontario’s Premier announced new anti-bullying legislation.
 
Just before Christmas, lawyers for Mayor Rob Ford filed a motion aimed at halting an investigation into his campaign expenses prior to his election last year. The Mayor, who famously campaigned on pro-taxpayer, anti-expense (a.k.a. 'gravy') platform, is accused of financial corruption by accepting in-kind corporate donations - which are not allowed under municipal election rules.
 
The Ontario Ombudsperson issued a damning report detailing the Attorney General's complicity in protecting police from prosecution for acts of violence. The 63-page document accuses the AG's office of 'actively undermining' the province's Special Investigations Unit; the SIU, already a horribly ineffectual police watchdog, has in its 20 year history failed to find justice for thousands of victims of police violence.
 
Christmas Day saw yet another instance of police showing up at Rob Ford's residence for a domestic call. Ford, whose aggressive, drunken outbursts were well documented during his decade long stint as a city councillor, has been involved in a string of domestic calls in recent months, according to reports and sources within Toronto's emergency services. One incident occured just hours after Ford famously called 911 on CBC satire outlet This Hour Has 22 Minutes.
 
Two RIM employees were suspended after causing a drunken ruckus on an Air Canada flight headed from Toronto to Beijing. The embattled company, which has had a bad year for publicity with multiple privacy scandals, a massive drop in share prices and huge layoffs, acted quickly to can the executives involved after it emerged that it took multiple crew and passengers to restrain them during a disturbance mid-flight. Both men pled guilty to criminal mischief.
 
2012 is shaping up to be a bad year for transit. With the LRT line set to close, Transit City cancelled, and a new subway just a Rob Ford election promise receding into the past, a 10 to 15-cent fare hike is in the works for the TTC to delay cuts on 62 bus and streetcar routes by one year, due to an ongoing capital budget shortfall (which is a lie, by the way).  Meanwhile, intimidating advertisements on TTC vehicles and stations warn of fines of $195 "plus applicable fees" for fare evasion.
 
The Toronto Raptors took militarism in sports to a new level by being the only NBA team to sport a camouflage jersey that will be worn during the game on “Canadian Forces Night” on March 21st. The NBA also recently ended their lockout of players, as play resumed on Dec. 25th.
 
A couple were charged after a TTC employee removed them from a subway train for having sex. A video of the encounter, which was circulated widely on the web, shows the pair finishing on the Spadina station subway platform, refusing verbal admonitions by the TTC worker to leave. The two were later taken to hospital, apparently to be treated for extreme inebriation. NOW magazine raised the point that cellphone camera footage of the incident was uploaded to a site ('World Star Hip Hop') which also hosts videos of random violence, including the vicious beating of a woman outside of the Yonge St. Burger King.
 
The CKLN radio station, whose campus-community license was pulled by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission this past January, has an unlikely successor. A group known as New Ryerson Radio is bidding for a license for the 88.1 FM frequency, claiming that they will be entirely different from their predecessors. Two other commercial stations are also vying for the spot. Trust Communications Ministries operates a Christian radio station in Barrie, Ont and Dufferin Communications Inc. operates 103.9 PROUD, a station that serves an LGBT audience.

 


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