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Morning Brew: mayoral candidates to gather in Scarborough, Pantalone and Mammoliti express interest in the UFC, Smitherman vows to create "signature parks," deadly fires in the GTA, Leafs and Raptors lose

Toronto's mayoral candidates will be in Scarborough tonight for a Q & A session with local residents at Mary Ward Catholic Secondary School on Kennedy Rd. The event marks the first time the six leading candidates -- George Smitherman, Rocco Rossi, Giorgio Mammoliti, Joe Pantalone, Sarah Thomson and Rob Ford -- will be together to debate the issues and sell their platforms. Organizers have expressed hope that the candidates won't stack the crowd with supporters drawn from outside of Scarborough, which would defeat the purpose of the proceedings. I'm interested to see if anyone will distinguish him or herself in this early "battle."

Speaking of "battles," candidates Joe Pantalone and Giorgio Mammoliti appear willing to take on the provincial government in order to bring the Ultimate Fighting Championship and mixed martial arts to Toronto. While other candidates were non-committal, Rob Ford agreed that any event that can bring 50, 000 or more people to the city would be good for local business. Premier Dalton McGuinty maintains that the UFC is not a priority for his government.

Sticking with the mayoral race, George Smitherman is promising that "he'll revitalize and beautify 15 'signature parks' across Toronto by giving citizen advisory councils a big role in running them." The parks would ultimately be selected by City council after citizens propose what they'd like to see improved about their local green spaces. It's a good idea in theory. Why not, after all, let those who use the parks decide what to do with them? But funding remains the big issue. According to the Star, "Toronto's auditor general warned that the $233 million backlog in park maintenance and repairs could grow to $600 million by 2018."

The weekend saw a tragic string of fires across the GTA, which have left two people dead and another two in critical condition. Although it's rare that to have three significant and deadly fires occur so close to one another, there's currently no reason to suggest that this is anything but an unfortunate coincidence.

If you're reading this before embarking on a commute that'll take you north on highway 400, you might want to think of an alternate route. A tractor trailer has crashed and caught fire just south of Finch Ave. and only one lane is getting through. It sounds as though this might be an extended delay.

In Sports:

The Leafs put in a valiant effort against the Penguins, but ultimately couldn't stop the Sidney Crosby show. Falling 5-4 in a shootout, they can at least take consolation in the fact that they gave the Stanley Cup defenders a run for their money.

News was worse for the Raptors, who utterly collapsed against the Miami Heat. Outscored 19-7 in the final six minutes or so, the Raps remain in a dog-fight with Chicago -- who beat Detroit last night -- for the last playoff berth in the East.

And here's what we got up to on the weekend:

Photo by andyscamera, member of the blogTO Flickr pool.


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