Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford to seek help for substance abuse, says his lawyer

TORONTO - Rob Ford will take a leave of absence from his re-election campaign to seek help for substance abuse, his lawyer said Wednesday.

Dennis Morris said the Toronto mayor "realizes he needs help for substance abuse," but would not say which substance his client is seeking treatment for or what steps he will take.

"In my eyes, he should announce those steps to the public in the near future," Morris said.

The Toronto Sun reports Ford will nonetheless remain on the ballot for the Oct. 27 mayoral election.

Ford has denied allegations that he is addicted to drugs or alcohol, though he has admitted having used crack cocaine while in a "drunken stupor" during his tenure.

Shortly afterward, city council voted to relieve Ford of many of his mayoral powers.

The mayor also admitted he had been drinking during an incident in which he was filmed using Jamaican swear words and other profanities at a Toronto restaurant.

He vowed last year that he had given up alcohol — part of a campaign to rehabilitate his image in light of his admission.

His family had previously backed up his assertions and his decision not to resign or take an official leave.

Media reports of a cellphone video on which Ford appears to smoke crack cocaine first appeared last May, and sparked a police probe dubbed Project Brazen 2.

But at that time, a guns, gangs and weapons probe called Project Traveller was already well underway. It included wiretaps that allegedly captured conversations about the video.

Police also believe that a widely published photo showing Ford posing with three men — one shot dead shortly after the photo was taken and the other two accused gang members — was taken outside an alleged crack house.
Please share this

Mayor Rob Ford 'ready to take a break'

TORONTO - Mayor Rob Ford tells the Toronto Sun that he is “ready to take a break” from the mayoral election campaign to “go get help.”

The decision to immediately step away from the campaign — while staying on the ballot — comes after the Toronto Sun exclusively obtained a new raunchy audio recording of Ford ranting and swearing in an Etobicoke bar.

Mayor Ford told the Sun columnist Joe Warmington that he realizes “it’s time” and that he “wants” to “deal with his issues.” He said he is being urged to not leave the mayoral race by people around him.

The recording, covertly taped by a patron of Sullie Gorman’s Monday night, captures the mayor being unruly as he’s ordering booze, complaining about his wife Renata and making lewd comments about mayoral contender Karen Stintz.

“I’d like to f-----g jam her (Stintz), but she doesn’t want ... I can’t talk like this ... I’m so sorry,” Ford says on the recording. “I forgot there’s a woman in the house.”

According to one witness, Ford was seen buying shooters and trying to fight with patrons in the Royal York Rd. bar Monday.

“He was really wasted,” said the witness. “And he was acting like a real ass.”

A bartender at the watering hole — located in a plaza near his mother, Diane Ford’s home and across from a park named in honour of his father, Doug Ford Sr. — described the mayor as being “in fine form.”

Ford was not seen at City Hall the following day.
Please share this

Monday, April 28, 2014

Legal expert doubts anti-immigration flyers could prompt criminal charges

TORONTO - An anti-immigration flyer has angered Ontario's premier and prompted calls for charges, but a successful prosecution under Canada's hate crime laws faces an uphill climb, a legal expert suggested Sunday.

The flyers targeted the Sikh community in Brampton, a city just west of Toronto. The flyers prompted the head of an Ontario Sikh group to call Sunday for criminal charges against those responsible for distributing them.

Ranjit Dulay said charges might deter others from distributing such literature in future.

"Otherwise... in the future other people are going to start doing that. And they're going to be hard to control," said Dulay, chairman of the Ontario Sikhs & Gurdwara Council.

Another Sikh group, the World Sikh Organization of Canada, also condemned the flyers but expressed doubt on whether they qualify as a hate crime.

The leaflets show a black and white picture of a group of Caucasians above a separate photograph of a group of Sikhs with captions that read "from this..." Underneath the two pictures is a caption: "Is This What You Want?"

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne railed against the flyers, calling them "hateful" in a statement issued late Saturday. She repeated her comments at a Sikh celebration in Toronto on Sunday.

"They can't be tolerated. That kind of divisive action really is not consistent with who we are as Canadians," Wynne said at the Sikh Khalsa day event.

She refused to speculate on whether the flyers could bring hate crime charges, saying she didn't want to interfere in a police investigation that is underway on the matter.

Employment Minister Jason Kenney, who also attended the Sikh celebration, said the flyers are far outside mainstream Canadian opinion.

"The fact that this is a story demonstrates how rare and how unacceptable such expressions are. I think this stuff is on the fringe of the fringe," he said, while also declining comment on their legality.

Brampton has a population of 521,000 people, about 200,000 of whom have a South Asian background, according to 2011 census data on the city's website.

Peel Region police, the force responsible for Brampton, said investigators are trying to determine if the flyers could be considered a hate crime of any sort.

"We've been given the information of their existence, we've seen them and we are looking into them but it's to determine whether or not there's any criminality to them," said Const. Fiona Thivierge.

But Richard Moon, a University of Windsor law professor who is an authority on freedom of expression issues, said it remains to be seen if the handouts are "extreme" enough to run afoul of Criminal Code provisions concerning communications that would incite hatred against an identifiable group.

"One of the challenges with considering this particular flyer to be hate speech under the Criminal Code is that it doesn't attribute anything to members of any group," Moon said in an interview.

"It says almost nothing, other than 'here's what our community once looked like, here’s what it looks like now, perhaps we should rethink immigration policy so we don't continue down that road.'"

"There is something there — a claim implicit being made about the members of a particular group but it's so unformed and so unclear it would be a challenge to make the argument that this rises to the level of extreme hate that the Criminal Code catches," he added.

A group calling itself Immigration Watch has acknowledged its supporters distributed the flyers. Spokesman Dan Murray expressed little concern about a police investigation.

”I suspect they’ll laugh,” he said in a phone interview on Sunday in which he also dismissed Wynne's comments, calling them "absolutely ridiculous."

"Kathleen Wynne got into her present position as a result of free speech and democracy, now she seems to think when she’s got her power that she can tell other people who have different opinions that they should shut up," he said in an interview Sunday.

Murray said "there will be other pamphlets," in the future and suggested a similar version may show up in the Vancouver suburb of Richmond, which has a large Chinese-Canadian population.

Please share this

Public Works Minister Diane Finley lost in wilds of Downsview Park

Maybe there was a time when we believed that those in control know what they were doing, but it’s getting harder.

The history of leadership, especially political leadership, gives us reason for skepticism. Everywhere we look, even up in Downsview Park, the lack of political intelligence is glaringly obvious.

A recent instance involves federal Public Works Minister Diane Finley who announced late last year that Ottawa was taking back the reins of Canada’s “first national urban park” from the organization set up to create it. Though there was not a lot to show for two decades of work, progress had been made; a park was built, development deals signed and a subway under construction.

But Stephen Harper’s regime has never liked the scheme and not even his late Toronto minister, Jim Flaherty, objected when the rug was pulled out from Parc Downsview Park.

Though Finley’s office insists it’s business as usual, that’s hard to believe. How can nothing have changed when the Tories have changed everything?

Meanwhile, the city has declared its interest in Downsview; leading the charge is Ward 9 Councillor Maria Augimeri. She has watched the project from the beginning and isn’t impressed.

“They have a proven history of hiding the truth from the citizens of Downsview,” Augimeri told the Star. “Who knows what’s in the works behind the scenes right now?”

That’s a good question. But as Finley’s spokeswoman, Alyson Queen, made clear last week, Toronto isn’t included.

“The federal government will not consider transferring responsibility of Downsview to the city,” she told the Star.

Mention Downsview to Finley and her cabinet colleagues and they see only dollar signs. They look at the 231-hectare site in the big city and think about all the money it’s worth.

This bottom-line mentality is so ingrained it overpowers any better judgment. There were no cooler heads on staff to sit the minister down and explain the nature of urban development. And from within the Tory bubble, Toronto is a long way away — so is Canada for that matter — and what do you do with real estate but sell it?

But not only is Downsview part of a city, it is surrounded by millions of people, many with strong feelings about what happens there. Because Ottawa has primacy, it can technically ignore the city and do what it wants. However, in a battle between the Tories and the NIMBYs, it’s the Tories who lose.

Already, Finley and her entourage look bad. Taken by surprise, their response has been a deadly mix of arrogance and ignorance. In the months and years ahead, the federal government will take a beating over Downsview, one brought on entirely by its own clumsiness.

Arm’s-length works both ways, don’t forget. Finley and her friends might want to study some successful Toronto revitalization efforts, projects implemented by intergovernmental agencies with local input, not administered by distant Tory apparatchiks who don’t have a clue what they’re doing.

Waterfront Toronto and Regent Park have achieved levels of excellence that would stand out anywhere. In neither case was land sold off for a quick buck; each site was planned, zoned and sold to developers ready to go. Many different players are involved, but their efforts all form part of a larger city-building exercise.

This sort of thinking is easily lost on a government as unsophisticated as Harper’s, or Toronto’s for that matter. Like Regent Park and the waterfront, Downsview needs government to approve the rules not to apply them. That’s best left to grownups.
Please share this

Maria Augimeri’s conspiracy theory on Downsview Park does not stand up

Is the Conservative government in Ottawa out to destroy Downsview Park? That is what local City Councillor Maria Augimeri is claiming.

At a public meeting on Wednesday, she took aim at Canada Lands, the federal agency in charge of Downsview. “You are selling our parkland,” she thundered. “You are selling the heritage for our children and our children’s children.”

Away from podium, she told me: “These people would sell their grandmother if they could. These people are dollar hungry. That’s all they see out of their eyes: dollar signs.”

What could possibly justify such language? Ms. Augimeri might be forgiven if the threat she is warning about were real. It isn’t. Canada Lands executive Robert Howald assured the meeting that it has no intention of selling parkland or even of increasing densities in the parts of the sprawling Downsview lands that are designated for residential development.

Ms. Augimeri calls those assurances “lies.” Her supporters yelled “B.S.” and chanted “park, park, park.” Even Olivia Chow, attending as a candidate for mayor, told the crowd she is skeptical about the city-approved “secondary plan” for the lands. “My worry is that this secondary plan does not work,” she said. “It is now a housing development rather than a park.”

In fact, Downsview is meant to be much more than a simple tract of grass and park benches. In 1994, the government of Liberal prime minister Jean Chrétien announced a plan to create a national urban park at Downsview, long home to a military base and aircraft factories. The park was to be self-financing. In practice, that meant leasing or selling some of the land for development, with the remainder to remain public space. Blueprints envision a mix of public parkland, sports facilities, cultural uses, housing and commercial space. The secondary plan was approved by a vote of city council and upheld by the Ontario Municipal Board.

After a slow start, the plan has begun to take shape. Downsview has become a sports hub, hosting modern facilities for squash, soccer and other pursuits. It includes film studios and outdoor-concert grounds. The park opened in 2012 and boasts 70,000 new trees.

In the coming years, five new neighbourhoods are to rise on adjoining Downsview lands, each with extensive parklands of their own. Plans also call for a “cultural commons” with a public square and indoor community space. The planners take their inspiration from the Wychwood Barns, old streetcar sheds repurposed for community space, and the Evergreen Brick Works, an environmental centre in the Don Valley.

None of this impresses Ms. Augimeri. She suspects that the park “will be whittled away to nothingness. There will be very little useable park space.”

Her fears rest on the fact that Ottawa put Canada Lands in charge of the 232-hectare site. The fears gained fuel when the Toronto Star obtained a 2012 memo from a senior federal official saying that, as a real-estate company, Canada Lands “may be inclined” to dispose of some of the land. Both the government and Canada Lands insist they won’t do anything of the sort, and they would face an almighty storm if they did.

If, on the other hand, Canada Lands simply proceeds with the creative plan for the site, the city can only benefit. With a new subway stop going in and nearby highway access, Downsview is an ideal place to build a truly urban space, mixing traditional parkland – lawns, woods, bike paths, walking trails, sports fields – with athletic facilities and community spaces that attract people year-round. Adding attractive new neighbourhoods and new roads to link them will only bring more life to what might otherwise have become a vast, blank and underused space.

“We live in the biggest city in the country,” says Anthony Fernando, who is running against Ms. Augimeri in the October election in her district, Ward 9. “An ‘urban park’ is going to be … urban. The pluses far outweigh the minuses here.”

That is a far more sensible take on Downsview than Ms. Augimeri’s conspiracy theory.
Please share this

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Carmine Verduci — the man who exposed Mafia’s ‘Canadian cell’ — was gunned down near Toronto yesterday

The man shot and killed Thursday outside a cafe north of Toronto had the dubious underworld distinction of having accidentally alerted Italian police to the existence of a “Canadian cell” of the Mafia — about 40 mobsters who maintain close ties to colleagues in Italy.

Carmine Verduci, 56, was shot several times outside Regina Sports Café in Woodbridge. The gunman seemed to know what he was doing; police found the victim lying dead in the parking lot with no need for an ambulance.

Mr. Verduci’s downfall may be traced to Feb. 12, 2008, when Italian authorities noticed him in Italy at a meeting of the ’Ndrangheta, the formal name of the Mafia formed in the southern Italian region of Calabria. The presence of a Canadian there concerned authorities.

An investigation showed he was the ’Ndrangheta’s transatlantic messenger: He “had the task of travelling between Italy and Canada, acting as a carrier of news between the Italian group and the Canadians,” prosecutors said.

Following him, wiretapping his cellphone and tracing emails, authorities linked at least 40 people who were either Canadian citizens or current or former residents of Canada.

After a two-year probe codenamed Operazione Crimini, prosecutors in Italy unveiled sweeping arrest warrants for several of the men in 2010 which alleged there were seven dominant mob families in the Toronto area, each with a boss who sits on an influential board of control. The indictment made the names of the alleged bosses public for the first time.

On March 8, 2011, the National Post spoke with Mr. Verduci after Italian authorities issued an arrest warrant for him for Mafia association. When his friends around him in a café heard him say he was not involved in organized crime, they thought it was hilarious and spontaneously burst out laughing and guffawing.

He turned to them and curtly told them to shut up. Everyone instantly did.

Continuing the brief interview, he said he was not involved with the Mafia, had never heard of the ’Ndrangheta before and was not at all a bad man.

“I don’t know anything about this,” he said ending the conversation. “Bye, bye, bye.”

The charge against him in Italy meant he could not return there without arrest but did not bring any move for his extradition because Mafia association in not a crime in Canada.

But now, investigators will consider whether the embarrassing and damaging report became a death sentence from fellow mobsters.

The 2,656-page prosecutors’ report from 2010 revealed the ’Ndrangheta’s operations here.

“In the city of Toronto there existed seven crime families whose members were mostly of Calabrian origin,” says the prosecutors’ report, which was translated from Italian by the National Post.

“Each of these seven families in Canada would be active in drug trafficking; extortion, only among members of the Italian community; gambling; and the making and marketing of forged material. Many of them have reinvested the illegally obtained money in businesses, including bars and restaurants, not only in downtown Toronto but especially in Woodbridge, which is the new Italian quarter.”

The mobsters in Canada “alternate between attending meetings, travelling between Canada and Calabria, and, when they can’t attend, are kept informed,” prosecutors said.

The Italian report alleged the seven families were run by Vincenzo Tavernese of Thornhill; Cosimo Figliomeni of Vaughan; Antonio Coluccio of Richmond Hill; Cosimo Commisso of Toronto; Angelino Figliomeni of Woodbridge; Vincenzo “Jimmy” DeMaria of Mississauga; and Domenic Ruso of Brampton. The allegations have not been proven in court.

At the time, Mr. Commisso told the Post that the report was inaccurate, saying: “It is offensive to me to think that I would do anything like that… I’m not even boss of my house. My wife is the boss of my house.”

Mr. Verduci was born in Italy’s Calabria region on May 12, 1959, but became a Canadian citizen.

A large, barrel-chested man, he owned several properties, including a new-build suburban house in Woodbridge and a ramshackle farm in Caledon.

He also owned several social clubs and cafés in the Toronto area, opening and closing them frequently, moving them around the area. Police suspect illegal gambling, not coffee, was his cafes’ lifeblood. Many were semi-private or members only.

Mr. Verduci’s favourite saying was “everything alright,” but spoken as a statement rather than a question, said a man who did work – of the legal type – for Mr. Verduci.

“He was just arrogant to people, like he was better than everybody. Like, ‘I am the boss and you do what I want,’” the man said, asking his name not be published. “Once you got to know him he could act differently and joke around a bit. But for most of the time he had to play the part.”

Mr. Verduci’s longevity in the mob is signified by a secret police intelligence report from 1990: “The Mafia persons on the rise within their ranks and will be the Mafia men of the 1990s are,” it summarized, and then placed Mr. Verduci in the sixth spot.

More recently, photographs of Mr. Verduci — described as a “known offender” — meeting with alleged mob boss Jimmy DeMaria on Oct. 2, 2008, were used at DeMaria’s parole hearing to justify placing tighter parole restrictions on him.

And in 2010, Mr. Verduci was named as one of eight men in Canada “known to be members of traditional organized crime groups” who were linked with Antonio Coluccio at Mr. Coluccio’s deportation hearing. (Mr. Coluccio was one of three brothers from Italy, accused of being major mobsters running an enormous drug network there.) This year, his name also came up at the deportation hearings for Carmelo Bruzzese, a man accused of being an important mob leader in Italy who had relocated to Canada with his Canadian wife.

If the unintended fallout from Mr. Verduci’s trips to Italy is not behind his slaying, investigators will likely investigate whether his death might be a part of the war between the mob’s Calabrian faction, based in Toronto, and the Sicilian faction in Montreal.

The Sicilian faction was led, until his death in December, by Vito Rizzuto. The Rizzuto family suffered heavy losses in recent years, some of them likely by Calabrian rivals, police believe. When Mr. Rizzuto was released from a U.S. prison in 2012, police and gangsters alike braced for his revenge but instead of an aggressive assault against the rival faction, he seemed to focus on purging disloyal elements within his own.

Police will want to know if Mr. Verduci’s murder could be a sign of the Sicilian faction’s reorganizing and lashing out.

Mr. Verduci was well-connected to a long list of important and influential mobsters, not just in Toronto but also in Hamilton and Thunder Bay, according to authorities in Canada and Italy.

His position within the Calabrian clans of Toronto would make him an attractive target to Sicilian rivals in Montreal looking to make a stand, a police source said.

“We might find it was meant as a message to the Calabrians from the Sicilians, that ‘this ain’t over, we haven’t forgotten.’”

If that scenario is true, then hope of peace after Mr. Rizzuto’s death seems unlikely.

York regional police are looking for a grey or silver Honda Civic or similar car seen by witnesses leaving the scene of Mr. Verduci’s murder. Police say two white men are suspects, one short with a slim build and wearing a black or grey hoodie and dark-coloured baggy pants. There is no further description of the second.

Investigators ask any witnesses to contact police or Crime Stoppers.

The Italian probe targeted the ’Ndrangheta as it has eclipsed Sicily’s Cosa Nostra as Italy’s most powerful and richest Mafia organization, dominating Europe’s drug trade.

The role of Canada is so pervasive within the ’Ndrangheta that when a mobster in Calabria speaks of “America,” he really means Canada, prosecutors said.
Please share this

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Striking fear in the heart of Ontario's Mob

It was a precise and planned strike into the heart of Ontario’s Mob underworld.

Outside a cafe frequented by ‘Ndrangheta members in Woodbridge, in broad daylight, 56-year-old Carmine Verduci was shot in the head and died in the parking lot of the Regina Rd. complex Thursday afternoon.

The city is where many of Ontario’s ‘Ndrangheta members feel safe. It’s their home turf. But the incursion by assassins, who police strongly believe were sent by those who have taken over Vito Rizzuto’s Montreal crime family, is sure to strike fear.

In a world often marked by symbolic maneuvers, the hit on Verduci is a significant move by the Montreal Mob.

It was Montreal’s reminder that Rizzuto’s vendetta — his quest for revenge in the murders of his father, his son and other family members in an attempted coup — didn’t end with the capo’s Dec. 23 death of natural causes.

Police sources say Verduci’s death could signal that the next targets could be higher in stature.

“This is basically putting it in their faces,” a police source said. “Verduci had huge influence” within the Calabrian underworld.

It’s the second recent venture by the Montreal mob into Woodbridge.

Calabrian mob assassin Salvatore “Sam” Calautti, a 41-year-old father of two who owned a Dufferin St. restaurant, was assassinated in an ambush last July 12 as he sat in his car outside a Vaughan banquet hall attending a stag. His killer or killers knew Calautti would be there.

The same seems to be true for Verduci. His killers knew where he would be and patiently waited for their moment.

The married father of a son and daughter had his own crew and had significant influence within ‘Ndrangheta circles.

“He wasn’t a leader, but he was pretty close,” the source said. “He was a hugely significant player. He was a central figure. (But) he’s not the boss. He’s a boss of his crew.”

The source said Verduci was a close associate of Carmelo Bruzzese and Italian authorities say he was the Canadian representative of Mob boss Antonio Coluccio. He also hosted functions attended by ‘Ndrangheta leaders.

Bruzzese is currently being held in custody while Canadian immigration authorities await evidence from Italian police. A removal order is being sought on allegations Bruzzese is an organized crime figure. Coluccio is another man who was kicked out of Canada in 2008 on the strength of information supplied by Italian anti-Mafia police.

Police sources say Verduci was involved in kidnapping, drug trafficking, gambling and is suspected in a number of murders, including an unsolved slaying in Woodbridge, and possibly in Italy.

“He was a violent man, a guy who was responsible for ... extortion to drug trafficking, to any type of violent criminal enterprise,” he said. “From prostitution, to smuggling, abduction. He was good for murder.”

Italian police discovered another strong link between Canada and Italy when a Project Crimini wiretap picked up Verduci, a Canadian citizen born in Oppido Mamertina in Calabria, speaking to crime family chieftain Giuseppe “The Master” Commisso, who ruled a global criminal empire from a laundromat. Italian police saw the Woodbridge resident as a messenger between the clans in the two countries.

Verduci was named on an Italian arrest warrant for Mafia association, a non-extraditable offence in Canada, but that 2011 warrant kept him home.

Verduci’s family tentacles spread around the world with relatives in Australia, the U.S., Italy and South America but his ability to travel was limited because he knew he would be arrested on the Italian warrant.

Woodbridge is the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta’s power base and “killing a guy like Verduci is like saying” that none among them is safe.

“Clearly, someone needed to be held to account and (Verduci) was on the vendetta list,” the source said, who believes the hits are expected to continue.

“He is a central figure in the power base,” the source said. “They know Verduci is a guy who gets things done for them.

The source said Verduci is known to carry a gun and if he suspected he was going to be a target of a hit, he most likely would have been armed and extremely cautious in his movements. While the source didn’t know if Verduci was armed when he was killed, the slaying shows how unprepared he was and how easily the assassins moved within the victim’s turf.

Daylight hits have been common in this war between the Ontario Calabrians and the Montreal Mob. Among those hit during the day include Nick Rizzuto Jr. and his grandfather Nicolo Rizzuto. Vito Rizzuto’s brother-in-law Paolo Renda was abducted during the day, and is presumed dead. Rizzuto associate Agostino Cuntrera was assassinated in daylight.

When the guns were turned on the Rizzuto clan, the Calabrians started by killing low-level members such as the street drug dealers. They slowly moved up the hierarchy until they reached Vito Rizzuto’s father Nicolo, his son Nick Jr., and other family members who were also senior level leaders.

“The same thing is happening here,” the source said. “I think this is the message we were waiting for, everyone was wondering what was happening after Vito was gone.

“There’s going to be a lot of nervous people.”
Please share this

Friday, April 25, 2014

Toronto's Gardiner Expwy. repairs comes 60 years after constructions began

TORONTO - You know it’s spring when daffodils begin poking their heads through winter weary soil or your next door neighbour starts washing his salt-covered car in his driveway or your wife hands you the bottle of Windex and a squeegee.

However, the most obvious sign of spring’s arrival here in Toronto is when city officials announce that the Gardiner Expwy. will be off limits to traffic while potholes are filled, overhead lighting refurbished, new information signs installed and directional and lane separation lines are re-painted on the road surface.

Interestingly, while the concept of a cross-waterfront highway to held alleviate the city’s increasing traffic congestion problem was proposed as early as 1947, what we know today as the Gardiner was actually born exactly 50 years ago this month. And although its west end was designed to connect with the Queen Elizabeth Highway at the Humber River, when work actually began on April 1, 1954 the east end of the expressway was still (pardon the expression) up in the air.

It would take years before that politically controversial part of the project would be settled and the hook-up with the Don Valley Parkway made.

It seems that our city has always had a traffic problem (city founder John Graves Simcoe’s narrow main streets saw to that.). As World War 2 came to an end one of the most serious traffic problems could be found at the western approach to the city.

Officials unanimously agreed that to help eliminate the long time traffic bottleneck at the Humber River a series of bridges over the river would be built. Traffic flow would improve thanks to the new bridges incorporated into the new expressway design.

Plus another bridge would result if Queen St. was to be extended westerly from Roncesvalles Ave. via a new right-of-way laid out across the south end of High Park and over the Humber River.

From there the new thoroughfare would connect with the existing Queensway in Etobicoke. The new Queen St. extension would also incorporate a protected streetcar right-of-way reminiscent of the light rail lines in Europe.

The first section of the new Lakeshore Expwy. (that connected the QEW at the Humber with Jameson Ave. and was built at a cost of $13 million) opened to traffic on Aug. 8, 1958.

However, by that time it had been renamed the Frederick Goldwin Gardiner Expwy. in honour of the first Chairman of Metropolitan Toronto and the unabashed champion of Toronto’s first expressway

Readers who might wish to visit the former Great Lakes cruise ship SS Keewatin now berthed in Port McNicoll can phone Gordon at 416 429 5278 for details about planned day trip to tour the historic 1907 vessel on June 17.
Please share this

Vaughan murder victim had mafia links

TORONTO - Mob boss Vito Rizzuto is dead but his vendetta lives on.

Carmine Verduci, 56, was gunned down outside a private Vaughan social club, police said Friday.

Verduci is a suspected Toronto-area ‘Ndrangheta clan mob hitman described as a “bona fide psycho-killer.”

It’s proof the Vito Rizzuto vendetta continues, sources believe.

“It’s not over,” a source said. “This is a direct result of Montreal. This is a message to the Calabrians. This is a settling of accounts.”

Verduci is known to be a very close associate of Carmelo Bruzzese, the man Canadian authorities say is a leader of the ‘Ndrangheta and is being held by immigration authorities as he fights deportation to Italy “on grounds of organized criminality.”

Verduci, a Canadian citizen who had homes in Woodbridge and Caledon, was also identified in Italy’s Project Crimini as a Canadian link to Calabria.

Verduci was born in Oppido Mamertina in Calabria, was charged with mafia association in the huge anti-Mob investigation in 2011. The Italian investigation unveiled the ‘Ndrangheta structure in Canada, naming the clans in Toronto and Thunder Bay, and Verduci was identified as a messenger between Canada and Italy.

In Project Crimini, Italian police picked up Verduci in 2009 wiretaps speaking with crime family chieftain Giuseppe “The Master” Commisso about who was elected as Capo Crimini, an honorary position who chairs an annual meeting of ‘Ndrangheta crime clan leaders. It was a link between Verduci and Italian organized crime figures that was unknown to police.

He was repeatedly shot outside the Regina Café around 2 p.m. Thursday. York Regional Police cordoned off the Regina Rd. café as forensic experts gathered what physical clues they could.

“We’re looking for two suspects in this case,” Sgt. Clint Whitney said.

He said two white men are sought in connection with the slaying.

One is described as short, with a slim build, wearing black or grey hoodie and dark baggy pants. No further details were immediately available on the second suspect.

“It’s believed they fled the area in silver or grey Honda Civic, or a vehicle of similar design,” Whitney said.

He said police have been “getting good co-operation from witnesses who were at the scene,” but they continue to appeal for others who saw the killing to come forward.

“We’re fortunate there are many businesses in the area with security cameras,” Whitney said. “Investigators have seized surveillance footage from those businesses and they are reviewing it, so we should be able to release better suspect descriptions later.”

Anyone with information in this murder is urged to call York Regional Police’s homicide unit at 1-866-876-5423, ext. 7865, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

Police in Ontario and Quebec were uncertain as to how the settling of accounts stood after Montreal mafia chieftain Vito Rizzuto died of natural causes on Dec. 23, 2013.

The 67-year-old Mob boss was on a rampage, seeking revenge for the assault on his family that began in 2009 with the deaths of his son, his father, and family members and friends who were senior members of this crime clan.

It’s believed a confederation of Ontario ‘Ndrangheta clans and turncoat Quebec mobsters launched the assault while Rizzuto was in a Colorado jail serving a 10-year sentence for his role in the 1981 murders of three Bonanno captains who were apparently planning a coup.

But shortly after his release and return to Canada, Rizzuto began his vendetta.

He reached out to Italy in the slaying of his former Ontario captain Juan Fernandez, known as Joe Bravo, to Mexico to kill Moreno Galo, and to the GTA with the shooting murder of hitman Salvatore “Sam” Calautti. They were but three who were eliminated.

Rizzuto, however, ran out of time as he died of natural causes in December and Ontario-based ‘Ndrangheta clan members thought they didn’t have to look over their shoulders. They body guards that travelled with them and their family members were set aside.

Police knew his vendetta wasn’t complete but investigators were unsure if it would continue past his death or if a balance of power would be reached. Thursday’s assassination of Verduci shows the vendetta continues, a police source said.

Police were waiting to determine if the Rizzuto vendetta had stopped and it appeared to be quiet on the Mob front.

“This is the big drop,” the source said. “This is a big message. It ain’t over.”
Please share this

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Vaughan slaying eyed as targeted hit

VAUGHAN - A man shot dead outside a Vaughan cafe Thursday was the target of a hit, sources have told the Toronto Sun.

Witnesses told police they heard multiple gunshots outside of Regina Cafe at 140 Regina Rd., an industrial and retail plaza complex in the Hwy. 7 and Martin Grove Rd. area after 2 p.m. A man in his late 50s was pronounced dead at the scene.

However, police are saying it is “too early to tell” whether the victim was targeted.

“We don’t have any suspect information at this point,” York Regional Police Const. Andy Pattenden at the scene. “All that we basically have is we’re looking for at least one male. It’s quite vague at this point.”

Police are looking for a grey compact vehicle that may have fled the scene “at a high rate of speed,” but Pattenden wouldn’t call the homicide a drive-by shooting.

The body was removed from the scene just before 7 p.m.

According to the source, the victim is known to police, as is the cafe that was often frequented by people “of questionable character.” Organized crime figures have been seen at the cafe in the past.

Nico Rosano, the owner of the adjacent Regina Auto Centre, said the Regina Cafe used to be Kappa Sports Bar and Grill, a family-run social club until two or three years ago.

“I would imagine now is the same thing, but I haven’t been here in years. Probably now members only,” he said. “I was very surprised, I was shocked when I heard.”

A man named Enrico at ECP Precision inside the plaza said he didn’t hear any gunfire, but that particular cafe had changed owners several times over the past few years.

“I have no idea what goes on in there,” he said. “It’s just like all the other hangouts in the area. It’s a social gathering place.”

An orange tarp covered the body throughout the early afternoon, and then later a blue tarp was put up as forensics and the coroner performed their investigation.

Workers from surrounding businesses had to give their identification to police before being allowed to leave the area.

The area will be closed for “about a day while evidence is gathered and the scene is processed,” Pattenden said.

Anyone with information can contact Homicide detectives at 1-866-876-5423 ext. 7865, or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.

Check below for updates from the scene.
Please share this

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Feds say no to giving Downsview Park to Toronto

Ottawa has flatly rejected the idea of giving the city of Toronto control of Downsview Park.

“The federal government will not consider transferring responsibility of Downsview to the city,” Alyson Queen, spokeswoman for Public Works Minister Diane Finley, told the Star in an email on Tuesday.

The response comes less than 24 hours after Councillor Maria Augimeri launched a bid for municipal control of the 231-hectare property at Keele St. and Sheppard Ave. W.

Augimeri kicked off the initiative after the Star’s report on a secret memo from December 2012, just weeks after the public works department gave a Crown land management company control of Downsview.

In the memo, Deputy Minister Michelle d’Auray expressed concern that without direction from the minister, the commercially focused Canada Lands Co. could be inclined to propose selling off the parkland.

As d’Auray observed, the commercial focus of Canada Lands Co. was at odds with the mandate of Parc Downsview Park, which previously oversaw the property. Parc Downsview Park was dedicated to managing “the Downsview lands as a national urban park for all Canadians,” she said.

Augimeri said Tuesday that she would continue her campaign, adding that the government had “botched the Downsview Park file.”

“They have a proven history of hiding the truth from the citizens of Downsview,” she said. “Who knows what’s in the works behind the scenes right now?”

The memo was obtained through a freedom of information request, along with a “secret” scoping study of the parent company Canada Lands Co. Ltd. and its three subsidiaries — Canada Lands Co., Parc Downsview Park and Old Port of Montreal — presented to public works in January 2012.

Queen did not say why the minister would not entertain the idea of giving Downsview to the city, but the study obtained by the Star may offer some insight.

In the study, consulting group Sussex Circle advised the federal government against handing over Downsview to the City of Toronto because it would mean giving away a valuable asset.

“One consideration militating against this option is that government policy is not to give away assets, especially assets as valuable as Downsview,” states the study, labelled “secret.”

“While this is possible, there is no guarantee that the city of Toronto would wish to take over responsibility for the park, even with the revenue potential from development of the five neighbourhoods,” the study said.

Giving the city control of the surplus army base — which the federal government declared “Canada’s first urban national park” in 1999 — was one of several options presented in the study.

The city was never consulted about this option, according to a public works spokesman.

Another idea, described in the study as “fairly far-fetched,” was to transfer responsibility for Downsview to the province.

In an email on Tuesday, Andrea Arbuthnot, a spokeswoman for Ontario’s Ministry of Infrastructure, told the Star the province “would be open to discussing the future of the land” at Downsview Park, but had not yet been involved in such discussions.

The future of development in Downsview has long been the subject of fierce debate, and some observers questioned the federal government’s decision to give control of the park to a Crown company with expertise in selling land just as it seemed progress was being made on the park’s development.

Augimeri said Monday she had received information that Canada Lands Co. was planning to revisit the secondary plan, which governs future land use in the area, although she refused to reveal her source.

Both Canada Lands Co. and the federal government have repeatedly denied that any such plans are in the works — a sentiment Queen reiterated on Tuesday.

“The federal government has no intention of selling the parkland,” she said.

Canada Lands Co. is holding a public meeting on the future of Downsview at the Warehouse Event Venue on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.
Please share this

Toronto Cop accused of Sammy Yatim murder on TTC back on job

TORONTO - The Toronto cop accused of murdering Sammy Yatim on a TTC streetcar last summer has quietly returned to work.

The decision to have Const. James Forcillo return to duty — after a seven-month suspension with pay — was made by Chief Bill Blair.

Although the 14 Division officer’s second-degree murder charge in the 18-year-old’s death is still before the courts, Toronto Police say Blair decided to bring Forcillo back to work in an administrative role with Crime Stoppers several months ago.

“The chief, using his discretion, made the decision to lift his suspension and since February he has been assigned to administrative duties here at headquarters,” spokesman Meaghan Gray confirmed Wednesday. “He is not in uniform and his job does not require any use-of-force options.”

She said returning suspended officers to work in a reduced capacity while they still face criminal charges is “not an anomaly,” but she was unable to say exactly how often it happens.

“The chief does have discretion in these types of situations,” Gray explained. “All aspects are considered thoroughly and a decision is made in the best interest of the service, the public and the officer in question.”

She wasn’t able to elaborate on why the decision was made in Forcillo’s case.

But the accused officer’s lawyer, Peter Brauti, said new information came to light that led management to return him to administrative duties.

Yatim was shot shortly after midnight July 27, 2013, as he stood on a Dundas St. W. streetcar waving a knife around — just minutes after he allegedly threatened TTC passengers.

An officer, allegedly Forcillo, repeatedly ordered Yatim to drop his weapon, then warned him not to take another step forward before firing three shots that dropped the teen to the floor.

Several seconds later, another six rounds were fired at Yatim. It’s believed eight of the nine bullets struck their mark.

The shooting was captured on video and posted online, prompting public outrage.

Even the chief seemed troubled by the footage when he spoke to media a few days after the shooting.

“I am very aware that the public is very concerned about this tragic event,” Blair said at the time. “They have every right to be concerned.”

The chief also promised Yatim’s family — and all of Toronto — he would get answers to their many questions.

“As a father, I can only imagine their terrible grief and their need for answers,” Blair said. “We will commit to doing our best to ensure that those answers are provided.”

A close friend, who spoke for the family in the wake of the shooting, tried unsuccessfully to reach the Yatims for reaction Wednesday.

Joseph Nazar was out of the country and had just returned to the city, so he didn’t know if the family was aware Forcillo is back at work.

But he was stunned by the news and said it didn’t matter that Forcillo was not currently in uniform or armed.

“This is a betrayal by the police chief,” Nazar said. “This officer is charged with murder and he’s working in a police station?

“If this is true, we’re not going to sit quiet about it,” he added.

It was Blair who actually decided to suspend Forcillo three days after the shooting, several weeks before Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit charged the officer.

At the time, Toronto Police Association president Mike McCormack criticized the suspension prior to charges as “not ordinary.”

But the police union boss “fully” supports the chief’s decision to lift Forcillo’s suspension.

“We encourage management to find meaningful work for suspended officers when possible, as long as any risk has been mitigated,” McCormack said. “And it actually happens quite frequently.”

He said it’s good for the officers, the service and taxpayers.

“Don’t forget he hasn’t been convicted of any offences,” McCormack said. “These are unproven allegations for an incident that occurred in the performance of his duties.”

Forcillo will be back in court Thursday for the continuation of his preliminary hearing, which will determine if he stands trial. If so, he would be the first Toronto cop to ever stand trial for an on-duty murder charge.

McCormack pointed out another officer who was accused of murder in 2012, Const. David Cavanaugh, had his charge “kicked out at the prelim.”
Please share this

End Toronto city council chaos by slicing it in half

TORONTO - Oh, the sweet irony.

Millions of dollars worth of city politicians wasting most of Wednesday morning — squabbling over their wasteful spending!

Alice, welcome to Plunderland. And pass the opium.

There’s only one solution. Cut this mad tea party in half.

Wasn’t Rob Ford supposed to do that?

Unless you’ve been dead or trying to get a pothole fixed, you know that we in Hogtown are blessed with 44 councillors and one mayor. A total of 45 succulents.

How’d we get so lucky, you ask?

Vancouver has but 10 councillors, Calgary 14, Philadelphia 17, Washington, 13.

Even sprawling Los Angeles limps along with 15 councillors.

New York City has slightly more than us — 51 — but they serve 8.5 million people.

True, some cities have large councils, but they are usually a mess. Montreal’s, for instance, has a whopping 65 members, but they need that many to rotate through bribery trials and the mayor’s chair.

I think 22 is a nice number. In fact, that’s how many federal ridings we have — but each divided into two city wards.

If we drop one succulent per riding, we won’t even have to change the map.

And right off the bat, we’ll save $8.2 million. Here’s how:

The fine print of Wednesday’s executive committee session listed costs of each councillor last year.

The average is about $372,000, including salary, staff and expenses. For all 44, that’s $16.4 million.

Surely, City Hall can meddle in our lives and drive us nuts for half of that.

One mayor, 22 councillors. You’ll be able to remember their names, corral them.

With 44, we’re herding cats.

No sensible operation is run by 44 equal partners, all caterwauling and trying to get their piece. It’s surefire chaos — and paralysis.

No wonder our transit system is medieval. Those 44 succulents flip-flop like hooked fish. Subway, no subway, subway, no subway.

Common sense says a council of 22 is efficient, cheaper and less noisy.

Frankly, I’d cut it to 10, plus mayor, but I doubt we could bear all the weeping and squealing.

So how do we get to 22?

It could be fun. Put each riding’s two councillors in a cage and let them duke it out.

I’d pay to see Frances Nunziata versus Frank Di Giorgio, 12 rounds for the undisputed York South-Weston crown. Who wants it most to ride that gravy train?

Mayor Rob Ford has long touted a tighter council — but lately the only one getting tight has been the mayor.

It would not be easy. A gravy addiction is hard to kick. Worse than crack, I hear.

You’d call for a council cull, too, if you sat in on the expenses and salaries debate Wednesday.

Councillors have traversed the world, from Taiwan to Uganda to Vietnam to Sao Paulo, $154,459 in all.

This pales beside travel by our beloved bureaucrats, which Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti announced is close to $6 million a year. I thought Rob Ford was going to have a stroke.

I’m hardly shocked the executive committee nixed a nearly 13% raise for councillors and the mayor, to bring them in line with other Canadian cities.

No, it was not my Wednesday column that turned the tide, but a classic case of political suicide prevention. It’s an election year.

But, really, it’s the old bait-and-switch in reverse. We get outraged about 13%, so it seems a bargain when they approve Option B, a cost of living raise, which at least Mammoliti had the decency to vote against.

He was the only one who picked Option C, which was BLOW IT OUT YOUR EAR!

Otherwise, these Alices in Plunderland spent three hours sniping at each other about assorted office expenses and trips and who paid for what — including liberal use of the bottomless “general” council fund. This is basically a slush bucket set up to skirt the $30,000-per-councillor limit Ford imposed when he still had any power.

You will be thrilled to hear we spent $60,000 to send 19 councillors — 19?! — to Vancouver for a Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference.

Which would be find and dandy …

… if they’d all stayed there.
Please share this

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ford stands by TCHC CEO after scathing ombud report

TORONTO - Mayor Rob Ford stood by Toronto Community Housing CEO Gene Jones Tuesday while the board itself has yet to decide how to deal with the embattled boss.

Ford’s staunch support for Jones came the same day ombudsman Fiona Crean released her report alleging senior staff at the affordable housing provider broke the rules when it came to hiring and firing non-union and management staff, created an environment of “chaos,” and ran the organization “like their own personal fiefdom.”

Crean’s report, entitled ‘Unrule(y) Behaviour,’ immediately put Jones — who was stripped of his 2013 bonus by the board in February — on the hot seat yet again.

“This is a story about the failure of leadership from the top,” Crean said.

Ford argued there may be “more to it than meets the eye” and says he’s waiting to hear from Jones.

“I support Eugene Jones, I know he’s done a great job at Toronto Community Housing but obviously some of the stuff in that I read, I want to hear his side of the story,” Ford said.

“It’s more of an HR thing if you ask me ... I like Eugene, I’ve seen a huge change at (TCHC).”

The mayor said he didn’t see anything “scathing” in the report.

“He had to clean house — Toronto Community Housing was a mess for years,” Ford said. “I think they are picking on him or singling him out.”

Rob Ford reacts to Ombudsman Fiona Crean's report on TCHC from Don Peat on Vimeo.

But Crean argued that TCHC’s “house is not in order.”

“There is an abject failure of leadership,” she said.

In her report, Crean finds in the first 18 months Jones was on the job, 88 staff left the corporation, “most of them involuntarily,” and 96 staff were hired. Of the 88 that left, 45 were fired (41 without cause), 32 resigned and 11 retired.

While Crean couldn’t provide an exact amount for the severance payments, she said they would have been “significant.”

“All these changes created chaos,” Crean states.

She goes on to argue some TCHC wage levels were arbitrarily determined.

“It could very well have wasted taxpayer money,” she said.

In another example outlined in the report, Jones hired Lisa-Joan Overholt as a manager and promoted her six months later to a senior director with a $30,000 raise without a process, job description, evaluation or competition.

Ford said the raises don’t bother him.

“I always like to pay on performance,” he said. “You can’t pay anyone the some, some people get big increases.”

TCHC board members met in closed session for three hours on Tuesday to discuss the report and hear from Jones.

After the meeting, chairman Bud Purves acknowledged the report “identifies a number of serious issues, these are issues of leadership, improper management practices and insufficient oversight.”

“The board acknowledges the need to address these issues,” Purves said.

“We’ve made progress, but we agreed that more time is needed to further study.”

The board will be meet to discuss the report on Friday.

A TCHC spokesman confirmed Jones remains employed as the CEO.

Councillor Paula Fletcher said she wants to know the cost of these TCHC human resources decisions and whether it is “more than the $5 box of chocolates” that led to the last shake-up at TCHC.

“I’d certainly like to know the cost of cleaning house to the corporation and ultimately to the city,” Fletcher said.

“Not following the rules is a hallmark of our mayor, so I hope that Mr. Jones and others didn’t think that they don’t have to follow the rules either.”

Councillor Cesar Palacio — a TCHC board member — says Jones still has his confidence.

“These are allegations at the moment,” Palacio said. “I can assure you I’m going to be asking very tough questions.”

Councillor Doug Ford said he believes in Jones.

“I believe (that) a CEO has the right to make changes that are required,” Ford said.

Here are some of the Toronto Community Housing human resources issues outlined by ombudsman Fiona Crean in her report on Tuesday:

    A day after Gene Jones was hired, he promoted a director to become interim vice-president of human resources with no resumes or applications. One month later, the acting assignment became permanent with no competition.
    Senior executives failed to declare a conflict of interest when hiring people they knew personally.
    Jones hired a manager and promoted her six months later to a senior director with a $30,000 raise without a process, job description, evaluation or competition.
    Jones hired the interim vice-president facilities management as the vice-president of asset management four days before the competition for the job closed and without him actually applying for the job.
    Jones put his executive assistant into a management-level category but still allowed her to claim paid overtime — something not permitted by the rules.
    Changes to employment contracts altered fundamental terms of employment for non-union staff.
    Of the 88 staff that left TCHC between June 2012 and October 2013, 45 were fired (41 of the 45 were fired without cause), 32 resigned and 11 retired. The ombudsman didn’t have a cost estimate for the severances.
Please share this

Maple Leaf Gardens perv Gordon Stuckless pleads guilty to 100 new charges

TORONTO - It was only after kicking drug addiction and getting counselling that Donald Bond was finally able to tell police what convicted pedophile Gordon Stuckless did to him as a child.

Bond was one of a group of complainants who jammed a downtown Toronto courtroom Tuesday as Stuckless, 65, pleaded guilty to 100 new charges stemming from the sexual abuse of 18 victims between 1965 and 1985.

The charges include sexual assault, indecent assault and gross indecency. Stuckless, who was convicted in 1997 of sexually abusing 24 boys inside Maple Leaf Gardens between 1969 and 1988, is pleading not guilty to eight other charges.

According to an agreed statement of facts, the complainants from the latest charges were between ages 8 and 14 when they met Stuckless. The assaults occurred in places such as an arena locker room, car, school washroom, movie theatre, dentist’s office, children’s homes, and, once again, Maple Leaf Gardens.

“It changed my whole life,” Bond, 49, said outside court. “I was a very young age, there was no way I could deal with it. The first thing it did was I never trusted to be with a male adult alone, and here I was having to deal with the world around me after what happened.

“As I got older, I started using drugs and alcohol to ... deal with the pain.”

Gary Kruze, whose brother Martin Kruze blew the lid off the Gardens sex abuse scandal by coming forward in 1997, was on hand Tuesday for Stuckless’s guilty plea.

His brother committed suicide two days after Stuckless was jailed for the Gardens assaults.

“The root of the problem is (Stuckless) is a dangerous perpetrator,” Kruze said, pointing out his brother would have turned 52 on Tuesday. “I feel his spirit is here, and he would be so proud (of those who have come forward).”

Stuckless’ lawyer, Ari Goldkind, insisted his client has remained “law abiding” since being paroled in 2001, and continues to receive “intense counselling and chemical castration.”

The Crown is looking to have Stuckless labelled a dangerous offender, which could see him imprisoned indefinitely.
Please share this

Toronto Sun readership rising, NADbank numbers show

TORONTO - Toronto Sun readers are loyal — and they are growing in number.

The Newspaper Audience Databank (NADbank) 2013 survey shows that the Sun was the only daily in Toronto whose weekday readership actually grew last year.

The Sun’s print edition saw a 3.7% increase in the number of readers Monday through Friday.

By comparison, the Toronto Star saw a 6.5% drop in readership, while the Globe and Mail lost 3.9% and the National Post 5.5% of their audience.

Daily readership of the Toronto Sun newspaper was pegged at 595,000, up 21,000 readers, and the combined print and digital audience jumped by 7.6% to 776,000, according to a comparison of the NADbank 2013 and 2012 Studies of Toronto Sun Readership Markets.

The Toronto Sun’s efforts to produce a strong online package also paid off, as NADbank confirms its daily website-only viewership is up 33% over the previous year.

Mike Power, publisher of the Toronto Sun, said: “I am very pleased that our readership remains strong.”

NADbank’s study of Canadian reader habits found that more than three in four people read newspaper content each week, almost six in 10 readers will only read print editions, and more than one in three read online newspaper content each week.
Please share this

Monday, April 21, 2014

Downsview Park should be given to Toronto: Councillor

TORONTO - A Toronto councillor is calling for the federal government to stop the “secret schemes” around the future of Downsview Park and hand it over to the city.

Ward 9-North York councillor Maria Augimeri said Monday she has learned through a source that Canada Lands Company (CLC), a real estate arm of the federal government that has held stewardship of Downsview since November 2012, has asked city officials to revisit the park’s “official plan” reached two years ago of allowing for 10,000 residential units to be built there.

Augimeri says she and her constituents are concerned this could lead to even more development in the space, something she insisted would threaten keeping a large portion of Downsview Park as just that — a park.

She urged the federal government to “set Downsview free” and hand it over to “the people” of Toronto.

“Today we learned that Canada Lands has been asking if the city is prepared to revisit the official plan passed by the Ontario Municipal Board,” said Augimeri, who called Downsview Park “the last remaining large space in Toronto, made up of mature woodlots, open green space, (and) recreational areas.”

She said the feds area seeing “dollar signs” and Downsview Park “should not be for sale.”

“Stop selling our parkland. The fate of Downsview (Park) should not be decided in a back room in Ottawa. It should be given to the people of Toronto. We can create the vision that Downsview deserves, inclusive of community concerns, and build this park for everyone.”

Augimeri couldn’t say how Toronto would manage or pay for the upkeep of such a large piece of land.

She also pointed to a recent news report around an internal memo from a Ministry of Public Works official expressing concern over the future of the park.

The local councillor was joined by mayoral candidate David Soknacki, a former Downsview Park chairman.

“The mandate of … Downsview Park has always been more than a real estate transaction,” Soknacki said, adding the park needs to be for citizens — both young and old — who visit it for its natural features.

“We’ve been here to deliver a park in perpetuity ... to make sure that the seniors who are surrounding us here have places where they can actually enjoy the park,” he said.
Please share this

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Toronto Politicians hop clear of Beaches Easter Parade

TORONTO - Nothing says Easter like Stormtroopers handing out eggs.

The Beaches Lions Club Easter Parade drew thousands of people Sunday to a two-kilometre stretch of Queen St. E., where they lined sidewalks with blankets and chairs on a cold but sunny spring day for the annual tradition.

Floats and participants included Toronto Police, Toronto Fire, Toronto EMS, Toronto Transit Commission – which rolled out four generations of streetcars, including a brand new one not yet on the road, local businesses, Olympians, bands, and even the Canadian Garrison, a Star Wars costuming fan club.

Chocolate eggs were handed out to gleeful kids dressed in bunny ears as parents sipped away on coffee from nearby independent cafes.

And despite being an election year, there were no politicians shaking hands or passing out cards and campaign buttons.

The parade made headlines earlier this month when it declared the event a “political-free zone” focused on being family-friendly.

Parade director Keith Begley told the Toronto Sun’s Jenny Yuen at the beginning of April that politicians “don’t adhere to our rules.”

“They raise their colours and signs when we ask them not to,” he said, adding 10 mayoral candidates had received a “No” in response to inquiries.

Lions Club president Nolly Haverhoek said the ban on elected officials went “just fine.”

“We were getting lots of queries from people running, we just thought it was all too much. We don’t have a lot of manpower anyhow to run this parade, so we made the decision to have none,” she said.

While local politicians were “disappointed,” they understood and respected the club’s decision, she added.

When Mayor Rob Ford heard of the ban, he said he would respect it, despite having purchased 10,000 chocolate eggs to give away at the event.

“If they don’t want us there, they don’t want us there. I respect their decision,” he said earlier in April.

Haverhoek said the parade did receive some of those eggs.

“We got some of them, a few, they’re being handed out here today,” she said Sunday.

Long-time Beach resident Sandra Hyndman was glad politicians were not using the event to promote themselves.

“I don’t mind our own constituency being at the parade representing us, because they work hard for us, but as far as making it a political campaign issue, it takes away from the focus of the parade and the children and the fun,” the 64-year-old said.
Please share this

Where Toronto councillors travelled in 2013

TORONTO - Toronto city councillors spent $154,459 on travel and conferences last year.

Here’s the rundown of who travelled where in 2013, how much it cost and who paid for it:

Councillor Ana Bailao

Total travel: $4,996

1) Groundwork for establishing an economic project-based relationship with the City of Rio de Janeiro

Where: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

When: Oct. 21-26, 2013

Cost: $3,940

Who paid: Economic Development and Culture, City of Toronto

2) Federation of Canadian Municipalities National Housing Campaign launch

Where: Ottawa

When: Oct. 27-28, 2013

Cost: $1,056

Who paid: Affordable Housing Office, City of Toronto

Councillor Shelley Carroll

Total travel: $10,898

1) FCM Sustainable Communities Conference and Trade Show

Where: Windsor

When: Feb. 13-15, 2013

Cost: $1,724

Who paid: Council business travel budget

2) 2nd International Conference on Participatory Budgeting

Where: Chicago

When: May 3-5, 2013

Cost: $107 (trip was cancelled and this was the non-refundable registration fee)

Who paid: Council office budget

3) FCM Annual Conference

Where: Vancouver

When: May 30-June 4, 2013

Cost: $3,536

Who paid: Council business travel budget/office budget

4) FCM national board of directors Meeting

Where: St. John’s, NL

When: Sept. 3-7, 2013

Cost: $2,236

Who paid: Council business travel budget

5) FCM 2013 Zero Waste Conference

Where: Vancouver

When: Oct. 14-17, 2013

Cost: $1,256

Who paid: Council business travel budget

6) FCM national board of directors meeting

Where: Ottawa

When: Nov. 25-29, 2013

Cost: $2,039

Who paid: Council business travel budget/office budget

Councillor Josh Colle

Total travel: $5,393

1) FCM Annual Conference

Where: Vancouver

When: May 31-June 3, 2013

Cost: $2,664

Who paid: Council business travel budget

2) Toronto-Austin Music City Alliance business mission

Where: Austin, Tx.

When: Oct. 3-6, 2013

Cost: $2,729

Who paid: Invest Toronto/council office budget

Councillor Gary Crawford

Total travel: $5,271

1) South-by-Southwest music conference

Where: Austin, Tx.

When: March 12-15, 2013

Cost: $2,431

Who paid: Council office budget/Invest Toronto

2) Toronto-Austin Music City Alliance business mission

Where: Austin, Tx.

When: Oct. 3-6, 2013

Cost: $2,840

Who paid: Invest Toronto/council office budget

Councillor Mike Del Grande

Total conference costs: $743

1) Ontario Association of Police Services Board annual spring conference

Where: Toronto

When: May 30, 2013

Cost: $204

Who paid: Toronto Police Services Board

2) Ontario Association of Police Services Board labour seminar

Where: Toronto

When: November 4-5, 2013

Cost: $539

Who paid: Toronto Police Services Board

Councillor Sarah Doucette

Total travel: $3,212

1) Women Transforming Cities conference

Where: Vancouver

When: May 30, 2013

Cost: $395

Who paid: Council office budget

2) FCM Annual Conference

Where: Vancouver

When: May 31-June 3, 2013

Cost: $2,817

Who paid: Council business travel budget

Councillor John Filion

Total travel: $3,269

1) FCM Annual Conference

Where: Vancouver

When: May 31-June 3, 2013

Cost: $3,269

Who paid: Council business travel budget

Councillor Paula Fletcher

Total travel: $3,075

1) FCM Annual Conference

Where: Vancouver

When: May 31-June 3, 2013

Cost: $3,075

Who paid: Council business travel budget

Councillor Doug Ford

Total travel: $0

1) Toronto-Austin Music City Alliance business mission

Where: Austin, Tx.

When: Oct. 3-6, 2013

Cost: $0

Who paid: Airfare and all expenses paid by Doug Ford

Councillor Mary Fragedakis

Total travel: $3,715

1) FCM Annual Conference

Where: Vancouver

When: May 30-June 4, 2013

Cost: $3,715

Who paid: Council business travel budget

Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly

Total travel: $3,086

1) FCM Annual Conference

Where: Vancouver

When: May 29-June 1, 2013

Cost: $3,086

Who paid: Council business travel budget

Councillor Mike Layton

Total travel: $5,208

1) FCM Annual Conference

Where: Vancouver

When: May 30-June 3, 2013

Cost: $2,832

Who paid: Council business travel budget

2) FCM national board of directors meeting

Where: St. John’s, NL

When: Sept. 4-6, 2013

Cost: $1,304

Who paid: Council business travel budget

3) FCM national board of directors meeting

Where: Ottawa

When: Nov. 26-29, 2013

Cost: $1,072

Who paid: Council business travel budget

Councillor Gloria Lindsay Luby

Total travel: $7,069

1) FCM national board of directors meeting

Where: Prince George, B.C.

When: March 6-9, 2013

Cost: $1,782

Who paid: Council business travel budget

2) FCM Annual Conference

Where: Vancouver

When: May 30-June 4, 2013

Cost: $3,478

Who paid: Council business travel budget

3) FCM national board of directors meeting

Where: St. John’s, NL

When: Sept. 4-7, 2013

Cost: $1,809

Who paid: Council business travel budget

Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti

Total travel: $8,484

1) FCM Annual Conference

Where: Vancouver

When: May 31-June 3, 2013

Cost: $3,894

Who paid: Council business travel budget

2) FCM national board of directors meeting

Where: St. John’s, NL

When: Sept. 4-7, 2013

Cost: $2,818

Who paid: Council business travel budget

3) FCM national board of directors meeting

Where: Ottawa

When: Nov. 25-28, 2013

Cost: $1,772

Who paid: Council business travel budget

Councillor Pam McConnell

Total travel: $21,903

1) FCM national board of directors meeting

Where: Prince George, B.C.

When: March 5-10, 2013

Cost: $2,086

Who paid: Council business travel budget

2) Mission to Ukraine -- Gender Equality National Forum participant

Where: Kiev-Vinnitsa, Ukraine

When: March 10-16, 2013

Cost: $3,794

Who paid: FCM

3) United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), 5th World Forum on Human Rights

Where: Nantes, France

When: May 21-26, 2013

Cost: $821 (Airfare and hotel paid by UCLG)

Who paid: Council business travel budget

4) Women Transforming Cities conference

Where: Vancouver

When: May 30, 2013

Cost: $144

Who paid: Council office budget

5) FCM Annual Conference

Where: Vancouver

When: May 29-June 4, 2013

Cost: $4,022

Who paid: Council business travel budget

6) FCM national board of directors meeting

Where: St. John’s, NL

When: Sept. 3-7, 2013

Cost: $2,229

Who paid: Council business travel budget

7) UCLG World Summit of local and regional leaders

Where: Rabat, Morocco

When: Sept. 29-Oct. 6, 2013

Cost: $5,158

Who paid: Council business travel budget

8) FCM National Housing Campaign launch

Where: Ottawa

When: Oct. 27-28, 2013

Cost: $1,150

Who paid: Council business travel budget

9) FCM national board of directors meeting

Where: Ottawa

When: Nov. 25-30, 2013

Cost: $2,499

Who paid: Council business travel budget

Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon

Total travel: $2,556

1) FCM Annual Conference

Where: Vancouver

When: May 30-June 3, 2013

Cost: $2,556

Who paid: Council business travel budget/council office budget

Councillor Joe Mihevc

Total travel: $3,086

1) FCM Annual Conference

Where: Vancouver

When: May 30-June 3, 2013

Cost: $3,086

Who paid: Council business travel budget

Councillor Peter Milczyn

Total travel: $2,372

1) Intelligent Community Forum

Where: New York City

When: June 5-7, 2013

Cost: $1,668

Who paid: Economic Development and Culture, City of Toronto

2) Harvard University, Advanced Management Development Program in Real Estate

Where: Cambridge, Mass.

When: July 14-15, 2013

Cost: $704

Who paid: Council office budget

Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong

Total travel: $1,441

1) Business mission for friendship agreement between City of Toronto and Ho Chi Minh City

Where: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

When: Sept. 1-18, 2013

Cost: $1,265 (airfare and hotel paid by Canada-Vietnam Friendship Association)

Who paid: Council office budget

2) Attend to city business during ice storm

Where: Toronto

When: Dec. 29, 2013

Cost: $176 (airfare and mileage, return Toronto-New York City)

Who paid: Council office budget

Councillor Ron Moeser

Total travel: $3,072

1) FCM Annual Conference

Where: Vancouver

When: May 30-June 3, 2013

Cost: $3,072

Who paid: Council business travel budget

Councillor Anthony Perruzza

Total travel: $3,252

1) FCM Annual Conference

Where: Vancouver

When: May 30-June 4, 2013

Cost: $3,252

Who paid: Council business travel budget

Councillor Karen Stintz

Total travel: $4,550

1) Speaker at Alberta Professional Planners Institute

Where: Calgary

When: March 4-7, 2013

Cost: $360 (Per diem only. Airfare and other expenses paid by Alberta Professional Planners Institute)

Who paid: Toronto Transit Commission

2) New York City subway wireless launch, meeting with Metropolitan Transit Authority officials

Where: New York City

When: April 25-27, 2013

Cost: $1,403

Who paid: Toronto Transit Commission

3) FCM Annual Conference

Where: Vancouver

When: May 31-June 3, 2013

Cost: $2,787

Who paid: Council business travel budget

Councillor Michael Thompson

Total travel: $39,503

1) Toronto/Chicago culture exchange

Where: Chicago

When: Feb. 19, 2013

Cost: $270

Who paid: Economic Development and Culture, City of Toronto

2) FCM national board of directors meeting

Where: Prince George, B.C.

When: March 6-9, 2013

Cost: $1,775

Who paid: Council business travel budget

3) Council of the Great Lakes conference

Where: Cleveland

When: April 10-12, 2013

Cost: $2,708

Who paid: Economic Development and Culture, City of Toronto

4) Uganda Mission -- Commonwealth local government forum

Where: Entebbe and Kampala, Uganda

When: May 1-18, 2013

Cost: $3,647

Who paid: FCM

5) FCM Annual Conference

Where: Vancouver

When: May 30-June 3, 2013

Cost: $3,027

Who paid: Council business travel budget

6) Intelligent Community Forum

Where: New York City

When: June 5-7, 2013

Cost: $1,830

Who paid: Economic Development and Culture, City of Toronto

7) International Economic Forum of the Americas conference

Where: Montreal

When: June 9-11, 2013

Cost: $228 (airfare and hotel paid by conference organizer)

Who paid: Economic Development and Culture, City of Toronto

8) Renew Friendship Agreement with the City of Sagamihara, Japan

Where: Sagamihara and Tokyo, Japan

When: June 24-29, 2013

Cost: $7,385

Who paid: Economic Development and Culture/Invest Toronto

9) U.S. Embassy, July 4th celebration

Where: Ottawa

When: July 4, 2013

Cost: $523

Who paid: Council office budget

10) FCM national board of directors meeting

Where: St. John’s, NL

When: Sept. 3-6, 2013

Cost: $1,957

Who paid: Council business travel budget

11) Mission to Jamaica and Belize

Where: Kingston, Jamaica and Belize City, Belize

When: Sept. 25-Oct. 2, 2013

Cost: $4,178

Who paid: FCM

12) Toronto-Austin Music City Alliance business mission

Where: Austin, Tx.

When: Oct. 3-5, 2013

Cost: $2,598

Who paid: Council office budget/Invest Toronto

13) Greater Toronto Marketing Alliance mission, FutureCom 2013

Where: Sao Paulo, Porto Alegre and Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

When: Oct. 14-26, 2013

Cost: $7,590

Who paid: Council office budget/Invest Toronto

14) FCM national board of directors meeting

Where: Ottawa

When: Nov. 25-29, 2013

Cost: $1,787

Who paid: Council business travel budget

Councillor Adam Vaughan

Total travel: $5,467

1) Women Transforming Cities conference

Where: Vancouver

When: May 30, 2013

Cost: $434

Who paid: Council office budget

2) FCM Annual Conference

Where: Vancouver

When: May 31-June 3, 2013

Cost: $3,088

Who paid: Council business travel budget

3) Art, Place, Dislocation and the 21st Century, The Creative Time Summit

Where: New York City

When: Oct. 24-27, 2013

Cost: $1,945

Who paid: Council office budget

Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam

Total travel: $2,838

1) Women Transforming Cities conference

Where: Vancouver

When: May 30, 2013

Cost: $466

Who paid: Council office budget

2) FCM Annual Conference

Where: Vancouver

When: May 31-June 3, 2013

Cost: $2,372

Who paid: Council business travel budget

Mayor Rob Ford

Total travel: $0

1) Toronto-Austin Music City Alliance business mission

Where: Austin, Tx.

When: Oct. 3-6, 2013

Cost: $0

Who paid: Airfare and expenses paid by Mayor Rob Ford

Please share this

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Four Toronto Fire trucks removed from service Monday

TORONTO - When flames tore through an east end townhouse Saturday morning, pumper 215 was among the first Toronto Fire trucks to arrive at the scene.

Frightened residents, some wearing pyjamas, were still scurrying from their homes at 167 Morrish Rd. as firefighters dragged out their hoses and began battling the blaze.

But thanks to the city’s budget cuts, the blaze was among the last the crew from that fire apparatus will respond to together.

“It’s unfortunate that we’re losing that truck as well as three others,” Toronto Professional Fire Fighters Association President Ed Kennedy said Saturday. “If that fire happened Monday, that truck wouldn’t be there.”

In an effort to save millions of dollars in its 2014 budget, the city is decommissioning pumper 215 — along with three other pumpers in Scarborough, Bloor West Village and Etobicoke — as of Easter Monday.

“It’s a sad day for the citizens of Toronto,” Kennedy said. “And it’s a day of concern.”

“It’s going to mean slower response times for those communities, so it will impact safety,” he added.

The fire trucks to be removed from service are pumpers from stations on Meadowvale Rd., north of Ellesmere; Lapsley Rd., near Sheppard Ave. E. and Markham Rd.; Albion Rd., near Finch Ave. W.; as well as Runnymede Rd., near Bloor St. W.

In fact, the Bloor West Village fire hall, Station 424, is slated to be closed entirely. And the 84 firefighters affected by the closure and decommissioning of the fire apparatus will be relocated, most into positions vacated by the 70 firefighters who retired in the first three months of 2014, Kennedy explained.

The union boss, who is among those being reassigned from the Scarborough fire halls to Station 235 on Bermondsey Rd., said a class of about 40 new recruits that was planned to start in January was also scrapped.

Kennedy said he believes Torontonians would be fired up about the fire service cuts but most are unaware, which is why the TPFFA has been on a mission to “educate” people.

“It would cost each citizen less than $8 a year, or about two cents a day, to keep these trucks on the road,” Kennedy said. “That’s all it would have been. I think most citizens, if they knew that, would say, ‘Are you kidding me?’”

Kennedy pointed out that the city’s population has swelled by several hundred thousand people since amalgamation 16 years ago and Toronto Fire, unlike other emergency services in the city, has not added staff.

“We’ve been doing more with less,” he said.

When the city amalgamated, Toronto Fire had 128 trucks and 80 stations, Kennedy said. Now 16 years later there are 128 trucks at 82 stations.

As of Monday, there will be 124 fire trucks at 81 stations, he said.

“The fire service is like an insurance policy,” Kennedy said. “Hopefully you don’t need us but when you do, let’s hope we’re there quickly and with enough firefighters.”

When it comes to fires, he pointed out that “every second counts.”

“It’s just not worth the risk,” Kennedy said, adding slower response times will put lives in jeopardy.

But the chair of the city’s budget committee says response times will be affected “negligibly” and there will be “just as many fire trucks available to fight fires.”

“The response time should just go up minimally, if at all,” Frank Di Giorgio said. “I really think the fire chief, who is responsible for managing all that kind of stuff, feels he has adequate resources to do the job.”

Di Giorgio said Toronto Fire plans to incorporate other “innovative techniques” to ensure service is maintained, such as adding fire prevention staff.

“When you put greater focus on fire prevention, theoretically you’ll have fewer fires to cope with,” he said.

Di Giorgio also said the four fire trucks in question “are not normally in service anyway.”

However, Kennedy said the councillor is misinformed.

“Pumper 215 responded to the fire in West Hill (Saturday), so clearly it is being used,” he said.

Kennedy said on average four trucks are pulled from the road daily due to manpower shortages, but the trucks are chosen randomly from across the city.

He said the city should have waited until the new fire prevention staff have been added and other changes made, then conducted a “risk analysis assessment” before considering any service cuts.

“I definitely think the city has made a serious mistake here,” Kennedy said. “They should reconsider this.”
Please share this

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mayor Rob Ford officially launches his re-election campaign

TORONTO - Mayor Rob Ford made it clear Thursday he “won’t back down” from this year’s election fight or standing up for his supporters.

The embattled mayor launched his re-election campaign in front of a supportive crowd at the Toronto Congress Centre.

“I’m running on my ideas of further cutting the cost of government, keeping taxes low and removing red tape,” Ford told the audience. “I won’t back down.”

Ford repeatedly touched on his refusal to “back down” throughout his speech and thanked his Ford Nation supporters for continuing to stick by his side.

“You’ve always had my back and I will always have yours,” he said.

Although the mayor made no direct mention of his crack cocaine scandal or the ongoing Toronto Police investigation focused on him, he acknowledged he’s had “some rocky moments over the past year” and invoked “the spirit of second chances.”

“None of us can go through life without making mistakes,” Ford said. “The people of Toronto know that I am just like them.”

Before the mayor entered the roughly half-full Dixon Rd. convention hall to bagpipes and supporters waving signs, Doug Ford introduced his brother by admitting Rob Ford has made “some mistakes in his personal life” but vowing he’s “committed to learning from those mistakes.”

“We are all human,” Doug Ford said. “You know Rob Ford returns phone calls, Rob Ford cuts spending, Rob Ford challenges the elites.”

Both Ford brothers trumpeted the mayor’s track record.

“Together we have derailed the gravy train,” Rob Ford told the cheering crowd. “They said it couldn’t be done ... we got it done.”

Supporters were lined up before the doors opened Thursday night — the first 1,000 people inside the building got a free T-shirt and flag. Other Rob Ford merchandise was also up for sale including mugs, foam fingers and buttons. The lineup for Rob Ford bobbleheads remained long throughout the night as people queued to buy several new dolls in the mayor’s likeness.

Ford campaign volunteer Johnny Cash said he’s confident the mayor will be re-elected.

“He’s a good guy, he’s a genuine guy,” Cash said. “(Are) there any skeletons in his closet? Well no, because they are all out for everyone to see. Only Jesus is the perfect one and he resurrects on Easter Sunday and you’re going to see our mayor … his powers are going to be resurrected on Oct. 27.”

Canadian boxing legend George Chuvalo was at the launch to show his support for Ford.

“He’s my kind of mayor,” Chuvalo told the crowd. “He’s a good-hearted guy, he’s a man of his word.”

Ahead of Ford’s campaign launch, rival candidate Olivia Chow said Ford’s track record is “you pay more, you get less.”

Candidate John Tory said people should “take a look at (Ford’s) ability to get things done or not.

“He’s been distracted by other matters and he seems to focus on how big his parties can be and he’s lost the ability to work with members of council and with the other governments so as a result this stuff doesn’t get done,” Tory said. “That’s the question people should be asking, not how big is his party but rather has he lost the ability to get things done?

“Has he lost his credibility? Can people be proud of him ever again as the mayor of this city?”

Candidate Karen Stintz dismissed the idea Ford is the lone candidate with a track record.

“The mayor is going to position himself as the only one with a track record and that is fundamentally untrue,” Stintz said. “I have a track record fighting for fiscal accountability and fighting for common sense at City Hall.”
Please share this

Toronto Councillor Adam Vaughan expected to run for Liberals in federal byelection

TORONTO - Councillor Adam Vaughan is ready to leave City Hall and head to Parliament Hill.

Vaughan announced Thursday he wants to run as a Liberal in the upcoming Trinity-Spadina federal byelection.

“I will be seeking the nomination,” Vaughan told the Toronto Sun Thursday. “I’ve spent most of my adult life fighting for two very important things for the city — one is a cities agenda that comes from Ottawa ... and I’ve been fighting to build housing — more housing, better housing, fix housing.

“I can go to Ottawa and I can get Ottawa to do it.”

The Trinity-Spadina (Ward 20) councillor — who was elected with almost 75% of the vote in 2010 — has been one of Mayor Rob Ford’s most vocal opponents at City Hall but he’s ready to give up his council seat for a chance to serve in Ottawa.

“When the byelection is called I will be stepping down from my council seat and I will not be seeking re-election at city council,” Vaughan said. “I’m not running with a default position of having a seat to fall back on.”

Vaughan met with Liberal leader Justin Trudeau on Wednesday to find out where he stood on housing.

“I want (Trudeau) to be the next prime minister of this country,” he said.

The byelection is needed to fill the seat left vacant when Olivia Chow jumped into the Toronto mayor’s race. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected to announce a date soon.

Vaughan would be facing NDP candidate Joe Cressy — a key Chow supporter.

“Good luck with the nomination, Adam Vaughan,” Cressy tweeted Thursday. “Perhaps I’ll see you on the doorsteps and at the debates soon enough.”

Vaughan dismissed the idea Chow’s old riding was a lock for the NDP.

“Last time the NDP tried to replace Olivia Chow with a staffer, I ran and won,” he said, referring to his municipal election in 2006.

“I have a record. I have strong support in this riding and I have a strong record in this riding,” he said.

Right-wing Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong bid Vaughan adieu via Twitter.

“Good luck, Adam! Our loss will be their loss,” Minnan-Wong tweeted.

Mayor Ford was a bit more diplomatic at the possible departure of his foe.

“I wish him the best of luck,” Ford said.
Please share this