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Morning Brew: Groundhog Day, Rob Ford's Poll, Giambrone Parties, Smitherman Attacks, College Strike Looms, Developing York University

Photo: "vertical horizontal" by jentse, member of the blogTO Flickr pool.

What's happening in the GTA (and sometimes beyond):

It's Groundhog Day! Later today we'll find out how much winter we have left by monitoring whether or not Wiarton Willie sees his shadow. Nova Scotia's groundhog predictor Shubenacadie Sam caught a glimpse of his earlier today, thus calling for six more weeks of winter. But, so the legend goes, Wiarton Willie is a far more accurate prognosticator because he was born on exactly the 45th parallel, midway between the Equator and the North Pole. Update: Wille awoke to see his shadow, so that's six more weeks of winter for us, too.

Councillor Rob Ford has commissioned his own poll to decide whether or not he should enter the mayoral race. Although the details are suspiciously sketchy, he has himself in third position behind George Smitherman (46 per cent of the vote) and Adam Giambrone (17 per cent). Based on a sample of 500 people who voted in the last election, Ford claims the margin of error is plus or minus 4 points, 19 times out of 20 -- the key word being "claims."

Speaking of Smitherman and Giambrone, both were in the headlines yesterday. Giambrone (who it seems I can't stop picking on) had a small number of protesters from his Davenport ward greet his campaign launch party with repeated chants of "Adam Sucks!" Those inside were, of course, far more supportive.

Smitherman, however, did his best to spoil the party before it even started by calling for Giambrone to step down as Chair of the TTC. He also discussed how he would lead the city, including statements about road tolls, bike lanes on arterial roads, and how he would apply his "bulldog" toughness to the city's finances.

The potential that Ontario's college faculty will go on strike increased significantly yesterday when OPSEU issued college management a February 11 deadline to accept its proposal to send outstanding labour issues to binding arbitration. Students are already nervous at the prospect of a strike and anti-union sentiment is increasing, but the request for such arbitration may save the union from the perception that it's making outrageous demands.

Sticking with academic affairs, the city has revealed a new plan for the area surrounding York University that includes high density housing, office towers, and a research park. Key to the plan, of course, is the arrival of the Spadina subway line, which, when built, will warrant this type of intensive development around the campus. I wonder what type of guarantees, if any, developers will require of the subway's completetion date before breaking ground.

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