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Morning Brew: Rocco "in it to win it" Rossi unveils financial plan, advance polls open today, Chen trial delayed over language issues, Air Canada wins fight over Island airport, Toronto 18 convict receives lightest sentence yet

Speculation surrounding Rocco Rossi's plans to bow out of the mayoral race is entirely unfounded, according to the Rossi campaign. And to prove their point, Rocco's camp released a preview of his fiscal plan, in which he says he can balance the city's budget with the transit subsidization that Smitherman's plan requires. Rossi's budget would rely on attrition, control of discretionary spending and "expanding outsourcing" to drop $132-million from the city's spending next year. It does not include the tax cuts or freezes promised by his competition; instead his long-term plan is to reduce union salary increases and outsource garbage collection. Following rumours that Rossi's co-campaign chair might jump ship, speculation about Rossi bowing out of the campaign, a la Sarah Thomson, has increased. Rossi himself says "I'm not a quitter and I'm in it to win it and I'm putting my money and my organization where my mouth is." But wait - isn't that what Sarah said?

Speaking of the election, advance polls open all over the city and parts of the GTA (Oakville, Oshawa, Vaughan) today. Early voting runs through to Friday for voters who are already decided or who can't make it to the polls on October 25 during the election proper. Advance polls are also open next week on October 12 and 13, and again on the weekend of October 16-17. Stations are open 10am to 6pm. So who's voting early?

The trial of shopkeeper David Chen, the Toronto store owner charged with forcible confinement, kidnapping and assault for capturing and detaining a shoplifter, began earnestly yesterday but ground quickly to a halt. Plagued first by problems with audio-visual equipment, the trial was then delayed more significantly by the surprise decision of Justice Ramez Khawly that the Mandarin interpreter assigned to the trial lacked the proper credentials and, furthermore, that none of the Mandarin interpreters working in the courts in Ontario are fully accredited. The Attorney-General's office, which oversees court interpreters in Toronto, said only that a "lack of accreditation in and of itself does not mean that a person is not a qualified interpreter." Chen, who is charged alongside two of his employees, is challenging the law governing citizen's arrest.

The relatively short-lived battle between Porter Airlines and Air Canada over Porter's monopoly of Toronto's Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport has ended, with Air Canada announcing its plans to start offering flights between the Toronto Island airport and Montreal's Trudeau International Airport in February. The airline is planning to fly up to 15 times daily non-stop. Residents of the island and harbourfront, along with some city councillors, have criticized plans to expand the number of flights at the airport, citing an increase in noise and environmental effects, as well as concerns over the transparency of the port authority.

Asad Ansari, one of the adults convicted in the so-called "Toronto 18" terrorism plot, received the lightest sentence yet handed down by the Superior Court. From a possible maximum sentence of 10 years, Ansari received 6 years and 5 months, which is the equivalent of time served in his case based on the standard two-for-one credit for pretrial custody. Thus he will be released, though the judge also sentenced him to three years of probation. His lawyer told reporters that they will be appealing his conviction; Ansari maintains that his involvement with the group was "innocent", a claim the judge and jury largely rejected. Public Safety Minister Vic Toews issued a statement upon hearing of the ruling to state the government's commitment to ending the practice of two-for-one pretrial custody credit. "Canadians believe this is unacceptable, and our government will continue to put the rights of victims ahead of the rights of criminals," he said. Only three more members of the group still await sentencing.

Photo by syncros in the blogTO Flickr pool.


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