Bay Street Toronto

Morning Brew: Kerfuffles and kidney stones at budget meeting, TTC union slams essential service request, masked man is moving to Toronto, record first-day sale for UFC, and whatever happened to King West?

What a day of kerfuffles and kidney stones at Toronto City Hall yesterday. It was supposed to be a good day for Mayor Rob Ford with officials rubber stamping his maiden budget, largely devoid of deep cuts to city services. But by the end of it, anti-poverty activists had temporarily closed down the budget committee meeting, Councillor Doug Ford had told one of the demonstrators to "get a job" and the media learned that the Mayor had been hospitalized with kidney stones (he has since been released). Despite two protesters being arrested, the budget committee did what it needed to do and the budget will go now to the executive committee before it's approved by city council, and apparently it's then when the real heavy lifting begins. So what was this -- a warm-up? Yikes.

This isn't very surprising. The Toronto Transit Commission union is slamming the city's demand that it become an essential service. Shortly after TTC union head Bob Kinnear promised there would be no transit strike during the current round of contract talks, he now claims that the City wants a war with TTC workers. It was "an intentionally provocative demand that we short circuit the legislative process altogether and voluntarily sign away our collective bargaining rights forever, without an opportunity to make representations to the provincial government on the scope and parameters of any essential services bill," said a news release from the Amalgamated Transit Union. But Kinnear says he will stand by his no-strike promise to the public.

We didn't get the Snowmageddon we were promised last week, but Toronto did suffer a different kind of chill with consumer spending. Moneris Solutions, a company that processes debit and credit card transactions, crunched the numbers for approximately 5,000 businesses. They show an 11 per cent drop in money spent and 13 per cent fewer transactions on Feb. 2, compared with the same day a week before. However, sales were up for warm clothing and athletic equipment.

Remember that Chinese guy who boarded a Vancouver-bound airplane from Hong Kong wearing a "Mission: Impossible" old man mask? Well, he's been released after three months in detention and is moving to Toronto. Immigration and Refugee Board adjudicator Anita Merai-Schwartz ordered the migrant released Thursday on condition he post a $5,000 bond and report weekly to the Canada Border Services Agency. His lawyer Daniel McLeod said a Chinese-Canadian closely linked to the young man's family has agreed to post the bond and provide accommodation in Toronto.


Photo by Subjective Art in the blogTO Flickr pool.

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