Streetcar Morning Toronto

Morning Brew: Rossi supporters defect to Smitherman camp, Boardwalk Pub owner makes good on promise to sue Ford, Chen's employees ignored requests to call 911, human rights ruling against police, David Miller on the media

With many people jumping on the "anybody-but-Ford" train, signs of restlessness in the race for mayor are beginning to reveal themselves. Case in point: a press release from the George Smitherman campaign, released yesterday, announced the defection of six former Rocco Rossi campaign team members to Smitherman's camp. The loss of the defectors, which include Rossi's former campaign manager, was downplayed by Rossi's team, as they pointed out all but one had already left the campaign weeks ago. However, the news comes as only one part of a seemingly larger, growing movement. Smitherman seems to have managed to position himself as the Ford alternative in the race. Smitherman, for his part, insists he doesn't need to "bludgeon" voters by spelling things out: "I think they know what they're dealing with. You know, his mug shot was on the front of the Toronto Sun."

If an uppity runner-up doesn't quite spell doom yet for Rob Ford, it might just be the beginning of his worries: George Foulidis of Tuggs Inc., owners of the Boardwalk Pub, hasn't forgotten his promise to sue Ford for defamation. Foulidis, who threatened to sue the mayoral candidate for suggesting the Pub's new 20-year waterfront contract was a corrupt deal, claims two instances of slander and libel: one, during an interview with Newstalk 1010 during with Ford said of the deal, "Is someone getting money under the table? ... I truly believe they are." The second instance points to a Toronto Sun cover story accusing the council of corruption. Ford's campaign confirms that he was served yesterday with the $6-million lawsuit. That oughta pay that beachfront rent for a few years!

The trial of David Chen continues with testimony heard yesterday from two of his employees, who said they ignored repeated requests from Chen to call 911 after helping him to detain thief Anthony Bennett. Shun Xing Ye, Chen's delivery driver who is not charged in the case, testified that he returned in the midst of the chase and parked the van on the sidewalk in an attempt to block Bennett's escape. "I saw [Bennett] ... kicking David Chen," he said. "David Chen asked me to call police." Ye says he did not police at that time, because "the phone rang and I had to take an order." Qing Ping Li, also an employee of Lucky Moose Food Mart, testified through a Mandarin interpreter during cross-examination, saying, "I have never called police. I do not know how to call the police."

The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has ruled in the harassment case of a former Toronto police officer. Ivania Chuvalo, now 41, emigrated from El Salvador when she was 18 years old. She joined the Toronto police force in 2000 as a constable. In 2007, she made an official complaint to the force about sexual and racist treatment she was receiving from her boss, Sgt. Alfred Iannuccilli. She was called a "bimbo," mocked for her English proficiency and asked to share "her cookie." Her complaint didn't resolve anything, however; Iannuccilli argued that she was difficult to work with and Chuvalo received a warning for insubordination. Iannuccilli was subsequently cleared of the allegations in an internal review. The Tribunal has ruled that the force must pay the complainant $20,000 and implement better training for handling internal complaints, saying Chuvalo was "stripped of her dignity as a woman."

David Miller offered his take on the media last night as part of the Democracy and Journalism lecture series held by the Canadian Journalism Foundation. During his 45-minute lecture, he expressed concern that "because of this interest in personality and trivia...we treat what is trivial with the same seriousness as things that are not." Miller used a number of examples to underscore this dichotomy, including the photo of the sleeping TTC fare collector and the mayor's own hair.

Photo by matt-quinn in the blogTO Flickr pool.

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