Tilt shift Toronto

Morning Brew: Ford vs. Smitherman: Election showdown?, Toronto hosts first ever 'bedbug summit', Toronto dominatrix defeats prostitution laws, City deemed "grossly negligent" in snow removal, 200 birds at 200 Wellesley

George Smitherman is urging Toronto voters to see the race for mayor as a one-on-one duel (one almost wishes it was to the death) between him and Rob Ford. With Sarah Thomson having dissolved her campaign yesterday and thrown her support behind Smitherman, and a poll that showed him making gains on Ford's comfy lead, the current runner-up is convinced that he's going to "beat" Ford in a head-to-head race, and says he "needs" voters to see it that way. It certainly seems as though the race is headed that direction - do Pantalone or Rossi really pose a significant threat to either leading candidate? Probably not, though that hardly means they'll have no impact on the election. Even Thomson will still garner some votes, since she cannot officially withdraw her name from the ballot. It also remains to be seen what effect, if any, Thomson's talks with other candidates about supporting a Ford-less Toronto will have.

Toronto plays host today to Canada's first ever bedbug summit. The summit, organized by MPP Michael Colle and being held across the street from the Ontario legislature, is being attended by a full house (close to 100 who wanted to attend were turned away) of some 120 people. It is intended as a forum for developing a "co-ordinated national approach" to the bedbug problem spreading across the country. The event will host experts, as well as those with first-hand infection experience, and has attracted representatives from public health units, Canada Border Services, Health Canada's pest division, the Canadian Mental Health Association, legal clinics - the list goes on - not to mention the cabinet ministers and politicians who'll be in attendance. A bedbug sniffing dog will also attend.

Further bedbug reading: the Star has a rather humorous article on archaic bedbug battling methods, and don't forget our time line of the breakout.

A Toronto dominatrix who challenged Canada's prostitution laws in Ontario Superior Court has won, with local Judge Susan Himel ruling that laws intended to protect women actually force prostitutes to put themselves in danger in conducting their trade. The laws, which target related activities instead of outlawing prostitution itself, make it illegal for sex trade workers to hire bodyguards or conduct their business in their homes. "The law presents them with a perverse choice," Himel said in her ruling. "The applicants can safeguard their security, but only at the expense of another's liberty." Valerie Scott, one of the prostitutes who brought the case against the federal and provincial governments, said the decision will mean that sex trade workers can stop "[worrying] about being raped, robbed or murdered." The federal government is considering appealing the decision.

A Court of Appeal panel has upheld a December 2009 ruling saying the city of Toronto was "grossly negligent" when it failed to clear a heavily trafficked pedestrian lane near Greenwood subway station. The case, brought by lawyer Alan Preyra on behalf of Veir Guy, a woman who slipped and fell in the lane in 1999, argued that the city's responsibility for snow clearing does not stop at roads and sidewalks. Preyra says the city ignores its responsibilities to minimize costs and "that just doesn't cut the mustard anymore." Perhaps a cost-benefit analysis is due at City Hall: stop clearing sidewalks, issue snowshoes to all residents.

An investigation is underway by the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals after 200 canaries and a cat were found in an apartment in the Wellesley St. building that caught fire last week. The OSPCA says the animals were found in very poor health after staff, alongside Toronto Animal Services investigators, combed the building for animals left behind. The cat was examined by a vet due to its poor condition. No word on the owner, who ought to be punished simply for making the cat live with two-hundred freakin' birds.

Photo by Neil Ta | I am Bidong in the blogTO Flickr pool.

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