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Morning Brew: Chrystia Freeland wins Toronto Centre, Ford cries "gravy" at budget meeting, city plans to hand Bixi to the parking authority, and a Ford parody porno

Liberal candidate Chrystia Freeland has won the Toronto Centre byelection, defeating the NDP's Linda McQuaig by almost 5,000 votes. The result means the federal Liberals retain the riding they have held for 20 years. Freeland, an author and journalist, says the result marks "the first act of the 2015 election."

Rob Ford came out swinging at yesterday's budget meeting, railing against a planned 2.5 per cent property tax rise recommended by city staff. The increase, part of which will cover the cost of the Ford-backed Scarborough subway, would amount to about $64 per household. In vintage form, Ford railed against the "gravy train" and demanded the increase be limited to 1.75 per cent.

The draft budget does not contain a 10 per cent cut to the land transfer tax also desired by Ford. City manager Joe Pennachetti said cutting the tax would have disastrous consequences for the city. "We could not have balanced our budgets over the last number of years without the land transfer tax," he said.

Some details are emerging about how Toronto plans to rescue the struggling Bixi program. Under a new deal agreed in part last week, the bike-share business would be handed to the Toronto Parking Authority and management duties given to a Portland-based company. The city plans to use money from Astral Media to pay off some of the company's debts but would still be forced to absorb the $3.9 million loan guarantee the city gave Bixi.

Cheer up, Rob Ford - Donald Trump still likes you. The U.S. billionaire tweeted he would rather see Toronto's mayor handle the current negotiations with Iran over President Barack Obama.

Toronto's fledgling food truck scene has many champions. From the chefs on the street to the councillors and organizers pushing for changes to the current rules governing mobile kitchens in Toronto, there are many people fighting for the right to chow down outside. Cindy McGlynn breaks down the stars of the Toronto scene.

There's a winter storm coming. Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement warning of between 2 and 10 cms of snow for the GTA starting this evening and continuing into Wednesday. Batten down the hatches.

Finally, just when you thought the Rob Ford scandal couldn't get any stranger, a parody porno surfaces and followers of Satan announce they are running a bus tour of Etobicoke. The 30-minute film, titled "The Rob Ford Sex Tape -- A Parody!," was released Monday and features actor Peter O'Tool as Ford. The tour, which the organizers insist is serious, will "honour" the mayor, Pastor Morgan Wilkes, an "evangelical prophet of Satan," says.


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

Image: AshtonPal/blogTO Flickr pool.

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