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Morning Brew: Ford draws ire over Kachkar call, OLG adds Vaughan to casino list, pandas due, trouble over hazing video, TTC brass take a spill, and new area codes

Rob Ford is drawing criticism over a call to a Newstalk 1010 radio discussion on the weekend. Ford weighed in during a segment about the ongoing Richard Kachkar trial on the Closing Arguments with Steven Skurka show, outlining how he thought Kachkar should be punished for killing police Sgt. Ryan Russell. Criminal defence lawyer Leora Shemesh called Ford's views "politically incorrect."

OLG had added Vaughan to the list of cities that could be in line for a casino. Rob Ford says its a sign that if Toronto doesn't say yes to a major gaming facility another city will pick up the spoils. Staff at Woodbine racetrack and slots are nervous - a casino in that city could drain their business. Do you mind if OLG go elsewhere?

Pandas are coming to Toronto. I repeat, giant monochrome bears are heading to the city. Er Shun and Da Mao, two giant Chinese pandas, are arriving via FedEx later today and will be greeted by prime minister Stephen Harper and other dignitaries (the Toronto Star likens the welcome to the one rolled out for Barack Obama.) The pair are the first of their species to visit in 24 years.

Ryerson engineering students are in hot water over a hazing video on YouTube. The clip shows the apparently voluntary ritual of students crawling in their underwear through slushy water in order to become a frosh week leader. Local councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam called the ritual "demeaning." Should events like this be eliminated?

TTC CEO Andy Byford, TTC chair Karen Stintz, and coun. Mary Margaret McMahon took a spill this weekend during a ceremonial puck drop at a hockey game between TTC workers and NHL alumni. A player lost his footing and slid into the group who were standing on a red carpet, knocking them all the ice, along with two of Stintz's children, one of whom suffered a bloody nose. Whoops.

A Via Rail train that was trapped in a Saskatchewan blizzard for more than 24 hours has finally arrived in Toronto. The service from Vancouver got stuck behind broken-down CN freight trains on the line. A musician on the train wrote a song about the ordeal.

Finally, the 416, 905 and other GTA area codes are getting company today. The Telecommunications Alliance is adding telephone numbers starting 437 and 365 to the existing crop of Golden Horseshoe numbers because of a shortage.



Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Image: "Faceted Living (i)" by Jack Landau/blogTO Flickr pool.

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