Morning Brew: Flaherty for Ford, Thomson denies that she's dropping out, government gives G20 "glowing" reviews, BIXI bike share in jeopardy, Smitherman says tax cuts for tenants

Jim Flaherty, Canada's Finance Minister, surprised some yesterday by publicly endorsing Rob Ford's candidacy for mayor of Toronto. Flaherty has long been a family friend of the Fords, and delivered the eulogy at the funeral of Rob Ford's father, Doug Ford Sr., but he also says his support of Ford's campaign is not only based in friendship: "[Ford] values taxpayers' money. That matters to me," Flaherty said at a fundraiser barbecue for Ford in August. Experts are divided on whether the relationship would have a positive effect on the city given a Ford victory; some say that relations between Toronto and Ottawa have been strained and that the federal and provincial governments would welcome Ford's conservative agenda, while others believe that the province might not look kindly on a political alliance between the city and the feds. Looks like we might find out...

Sarah Thomson is denying reports that she plans to drop out of the mayoral race. It was reported yesterday that Thomson was considering ending her campaign in order to support another candidate in a bid to prevent Rob Ford from being elected. But she says "That's ridiculous. Well, today it is anyway." Thomson maintains that she believes it makes sense for candidates behind second place to drop out before the 25th - her campaign has met with other candidates' teams to discuss a "clear alternative to Rob Ford", having reached out to Pantalone, Rossi and Smitherman. But Thomson remains optimistic and dedicated to her campaign: "The next two weeks will determine if one of us can rise up or not." Do you think a concerted effort by the other candidates could prevent Ford's election? Do you support such an action?

John Baird, Government House leader, says the Harper government is proud of its accomplishments at the G20 and G8 summits this year. A query by an MP resulted in some $200-million in expenses being disclosed on Thursday, and the response has been harsh, with critics blasting the government for spending exorbitant sums on things like binoculars ($60,000) and glow sticks ($14,000). Baird fired back, saying "We are proud...the summit...produced significant results for both the economy and...the Third World," adding that "we are also very proud that the security worked so well." Opposition parties are demanding that the details of the remaining $1-billion in expenses be disclosed as well. Baird says he can't explain the glow sticks.

As we wrote earlier in the week, Toronto's proposed bike-share system may be in jeopardy: BIXI Toronto's launch is dependent on its ability to get 1000 subscribers by November 30, and it's currently 350 subscriptions short. If the service does get off the ground, it will launch with 80 docking stations and 1000 bikes in an initial zone between Spadina and Jarvis, south of Bloor; docking stations will be located about 300 metres apart. Additional stations would be added should the system be successful. Promotional teams are doing demos on the street to try to garner more attention for the system; demos are happening today from 7 to 5:30 at 550 Bayview, and tomorrow from 12 to 7 at 191 Augusta. A year long subscription to the bike-share costs $95 and it is scheduled to launch in May 2011.

George Smitherman announced yesterday that, if elected, he would give renters a 2 per cent tax break that would amount to around $50 a year for most renters. He couldn't explain how the city would make certain landlords were passing the savings along to tenants, but said it would be "through a combination of strategies". He said the cut would cost the city $11-million a year. Smitherman's plan was well-received by the Greater Toronto Apartment Association, but a tenants' rights group says rent reductions like the ones mandates by significant tax cuts (where notices are mailed to tenants telling them they are entitled to reduce their rent) are not always enforced and landlords have been more and more resistant to them, in some cases fighting rent cuts in court. The group says more enforcement is needed.

Photo by PLTam in the blogTO Flickr pool.

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