Morning Brew: OPP investigating provincial government, lightning triggers house fire, Indy back but attendance lacklustre, G20 inquiry rally smaller and more bubbly, Officer Flashlight, Ontario hospitals in the red, Caribana struggles
Later today we should get a little more clarity on what's going on with a high-profile OPP investigation. On Thursday, police raided provincial government ministries within the Macdonald Block on Bay Street near Queen's Park. What we know so far is that there is evidence of "irregular financial transactions" involving government ministries and outside vendors. Government sources say that MPPs and political staff are not involved in the investigation.
In the middle of night we had a brief but rather wild thunder storm. The roof of a house in Markham was ignited by a lightning strike and a firefighter who was part of the emergency response was injured when he fell from a ladder.
The Honda Indy was back in Toronto for the second time since a hiatus in 2008. The street course proved challenging, and after avoiding plenty of crashes Australian driver Will Power came out on top of the podium. Spectator attendance was nothing for vendors and organizers to get too excited about. Whether a lull in the economy or a demographic that has interests elsewhere are to blame is an interesting question to ponder.
For the third consecutive weekend, a rally calling for a full public inquiry into G20 policing took place at Queen's Park. The tone this Saturday was low-key, numbers were down (in the low hundreds rather than the thousands attending previous rallies), and face-painting, dancing, and bubble-blowing prevailed. With civil liberty-focused demonstrations slowly petering out after rejected calls for an inquiry from higher levels of government, it's likely just a matter of time before the weekend that forever changed Toronto is a mere blip on the news radar. To some this is a welcome trend, and to others it's a tragedy.
Last week the "Officer Bubbles" G20 video went viral after a G20 protester who was blowing bubbles was arrested following an awkward encounter with a police officer. This week, we're introduced to "Officer I Have The Right to Flash My Flashlight" whose purpose was to prevent the filming of a search that was being met with fair questions. He makes his appearance about 2 minutes in, and his behaviour reminds me of that of an obnoxious eight-year old child I know:
A significant number of Ontario hospitals are in the red for a second consecutive year. Money problems are more serious for hospitals in Northern Ontario, while just two hospitals in Toronto recorded deficits. Provincial funding isn't keeping pace with inflation, and since hospitals are not allowed to run deficits by law, we can expect to see continued cut backs in services, quicker patient releases, and the like.
Caribana organizers are scrambling to come up with much needed money, and have less than two weeks to do it. Big guts in government funding have been met with staff pay cuts and stronger fundraising pushes. Despite giving the Ontario economy a boost that's touted to be close to half a billion dollars, less and less money is being secured from federal and provincial coffers each year.
And here's what blogTO was up to this fine summer weekend:
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