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Morning Brew: social media and the mayoral race, contraband cigarettes, road tolls coming?, Toronto's 20-minute makeover, a ticketing blitz on Front Street

Posted by Derek Flack / April 9, 2010

rain torontoNewsflash! Social media will play a prominent role in the 2010 mayoralty race! Thanks goes to David Rider at the Toronto Star for this nugget of novel information. Kidding aside, it is interesting to track each candidate's social media acumen and to wonder why George Smitherman is doing so little of anything at this point in the campaign.

When not on Facebook or Twitter, it would seem as though a significant chunk of teenagers are smoking contraband cigarettes. With roughly 60,000 Ontario students purchasing illegal smokes, health organizations are pressuring the federal and provincial governments to take preventative measures more seriously. Where to start? With the First Nations, of course. Because they sell cheap cigarettes by the bagful on reserves outside of Toronto, much of the blame for the popularity of these cigarettes is being laid at their door. The problem with this theory, however, is that it disregards the complexity of the problem. Kids buy cigarettes at corner stores and coffee shops, not on reserves. As such, the owners of these establishments have to be held accountable as well.

Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion isn't about to please many commuters with her contention that road tolls or other taxes are likely necessary to fund transit expansion. "The money has got to come from somewhere. So you have to look at all the sources of revenue and then choose the one that will give the best result and the least impact on the citizens....So tolls have got to be looked at," conceded McCallion yesterday. Although no concrete plans to institute tolls are in the works, Toronto mayoral candidates Sarah Thomson and George Smitherman have hinted at their willingness to consider them.

Should you lament the proliferation of litter that always seems so visible in the Spring, you might consider taking part in the City's annual 20-minute makeover, which takes place on April 23. But I tend to wonder if this program isn't just one big PR stunt with the Home Depot, McDonald's, Glad Canada and the Toronto Sun all taking the opportunity to preach "green" values without actually doing much of anything. Am I wrong? Is this actually an altruistic and effective initiative?

Oh, and if you're planning on picking someone up at Union Station in the near future, you'll want to be careful where you (double) park. Citing traffic congestion on Front Street, Toronto Police started a ticketing blitz yesterday which saw 36 tickets handed out to cabs in the area. Not a cabbie? Well, with all the complaining about being targeted, it wouldn't be a surprise to see others get ticketed for the same infractions over the coming days.

Photo: "Caught in the headlights..." by chewie008~, member of the blogTO Flickr pool.



Xavier / April 9, 2010 at 09:26 am
The entire green movement is a big PR stunt. It was nice seeing David Miler say its time to clean up the city. Hopefully we can start with City Hall
Walter / April 9, 2010 at 09:33 am
Smitherman is saying nothing so he doesn't screw up his lead.

If he opens his mouth, people with start questioning him about his lousy record - starting with eHealth.

DS / April 9, 2010 at 09:36 am
I guess you could make something useful of the 20 minute makeover by participating in it yourself.

Daniel / April 9, 2010 at 10:14 am
I have heard the Indian tobacco sales called "illegal" but they are not, they are discounted. The province caused this they (Native Indians) are selling a legal product which is untaxed for them by the Ontario Government/Canada. Don't blame the Indians they are just selling products they have a right to sell, just because the government is getting greedy and missing out on all the taxes they are losing, that's their problem. Best price get's my business. And I don't mind helping out the Native people they have had a rough go here in Canada and I am not an Indian.

Daniel ...... Toronto
TheVok / April 9, 2010 at 10:59 am
"Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion isn't about to please many commuters with her contention that road tolls or other taxes are likely necessary to fund transit expansion."

Um, actually, wouldn't that please A LOT of commuters who use public transit?

Just sayin'.
jamesmallon / April 9, 2010 at 12:01 pm
Good old Hazel McCallion sure knows how to shift with the wind. She was the queen of Mississauga when it ballooned into the freeway suburb it now is, and is still reigning when the writing is on the wall for that culture. Can she be held liable?
j-rock / April 9, 2010 at 12:11 pm
I agree with Walter's comment from upthread.

"Smitherman has said he is open to discussing road tolls, but is neither in favour nor against them". That's the typical Liberal approach to politics. They exist solely to win elections. Not to advance any type of agenda or vision. I disagree with most of what the Conservatives stand for, but at least you get the idea that they believe in something. Pick a side George!

How is this guy the front-runner when nobody has any idea about anything he stands for? And why is he getting such a free ride from the media with regards to the e-Health debacle? Caplan fell on the sword, but it was Smitherman's mess. The only thing more disappointing than the incumbent mayor is the group of clowns vying to be next. Mammolitti, Rossi, Smitherman, and Ford? Is this really the best that Toronto could come up with?

gadfly replying to a comment from TheVok / April 9, 2010 at 12:45 pm
... and considering that is less than TWENTY PERCENT of those who do travel around the GTA, that's not really that much. Nice try, though.
gadfly replying to a comment from jamesmallon / April 9, 2010 at 12:48 pm
No more than the idiots that presided over Toronto in the '20s and '30s when 'the writing was on the wall' that the automobile was going to take over, yet they still left us with a hopeless network of 4 lane arterial roads...
Some may sneer at Mississauga, but as its density increases, it will have the ability to build dedicated streetcar lines everywhere AND accomodate vehicular traffic, something Toronto cannot do, in our 'build it right to the curb' mindset.
morga / April 9, 2010 at 01:04 pm
I always do the twenty minute cleanup in my neighborhood. The most common items I pick up,empty packs of cigarettes and Tim Hortons cups. Shocking I know. Laziness
Darcy K. / April 9, 2010 at 01:39 pm
Road tools? Please - if the TTC had a broad network and ran on time, I wouldn't take a car to work. A toll is a punishment for driving. I will still have to take a car to visit clients and to get to the office on time. So it's just pickpocketing me.

How about a commuter toll? How about current TTC customers paying the actual cost of their fare? Unless you've never traveled anywhere, you know that public transit is vastly more expensive in Spain, Germany, Britain, just to name a few countries. Why? People pay closer to the actual cost of their fare - not have half of it subsidized by everybody else (like it is in Toronto).
Eric S. Smith replying to a comment from Darcy K. / April 9, 2010 at 02:25 pm
"A toll is a punishment for driving." It's a cost, like gas, maintenance, and insurance.

"...half of it subsidized by everybody else (like it is in Toronto)."

You may want to check your figures regarding the TTC's fare subsidy. But why would you want to "punish" TTC riders, anyway? Don't they have to "visit clients and get to the office on time," too?
morga replying to a comment from Darcy K. / April 9, 2010 at 02:36 pm
All those places also have road tolls, and huge government subsidies for mass transit.
KL / April 9, 2010 at 03:17 pm
I'm sorry, but if you can afford to drive a car, you can afford to pay a toll. Getting to your meeting on time and listening to your own music and not having to smell someone's bagged lunch is a luxury.

Driving a car creating a huge dent in your budget? Take the TTC and leave home earlier, like hundreds of thousands of poor people do every day.
Fig / April 9, 2010 at 04:28 pm
The organization I work for encourages everyone to participate in the 20-minute makeover and quite a few of us do. I'm always appalled at how little difference this effort makes. Toronto needs a lot more than this - and not just once a year.
Dawn replying to a comment from KL / April 9, 2010 at 04:50 pm
100% agreed!
chris replying to a comment from Daniel / April 9, 2010 at 04:56 pm
Only poor people take the TTC? Thats educated.

Also, last time I checked I can get to my meeting on time and still listen to my music on the TTC. Mind you it is in the company of foul smelling poor people.
Gadfly / April 10, 2010 at 08:56 am
As usual, any discussion of the grossly inadequate transportation network degenerates into an 'us' versus 'them' mudslinging. Neither the roads or TTC in this city have kept up with growth in the past 2 decades, but it seems that our lazy politicians can only come up with ideas that either a) result in making driving as bad as the TTC, b) tax those who actually make a living and c) spew the customary socialist platitudes from our twice bombed-out friends in Europe. Maybe when we have 350 million people jammed into Ontario we can look at London/Berlin or Paris' solutions.
CityKid / April 10, 2010 at 11:28 pm
I don't understand how a cabbie can complain about being "targeted" - they are the source of the bottlenecking problem at Union Station. They spill well over their marked taxi stands into the drop/off zones and leave no space for others to get in.

Here's a tip - if you don't want to be "targeted" then don't break the law.
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