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May 2013

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Video surfaces of Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine

Rob Ford has had his low moments, like when it was uncovered that he is an alcoholic, or when he groped WP publisher Sarah Thomson’s behind at a party.

Now it has come to light that there is a video of Rob Ford smoking crack (yes, crack cocaine, that stuff) that was filmed in the last six months.

Gawker reported that they have viewed the video and he is “fucking hiiiiigh” on the tape. It is currently for sale for six figures by a group of Somali-Canadian drug dealers and Gawker is looking for a partner to purchase it with.

This comes with the revelation that his dealers service “Ford’s longtime friend, people on his staff, his brother, a prominent hockey analyst, and more.”

The video in question shows Rob Ford smoking a glass pipe:

The man in the video is Rob Ford. It is well-lit, clear. Ford is seated, in a room in a house. In one hand is a a clear, glass pipe. The kind with a big globe and two glass cylinders sticking out of it.

After the Gawker story was posted they were contacted by an attorney about the tape saying he represents Ford and that the mayor does not smoke crack.

The tipster who informed Gawker of the video sent a photo that shows Rob Ford apparently partying and drinking with a young man who was murdered in a gang-style  shooting on King Street in Toronto’s Entertainment District, Anthony Smith.

Apparently a Canadian news organisation has already offered the owner of the video $40,000 for the video.

Thomson famously suggested that the Mayor might have been under the influence of a drug like cocaine when he groped her.

UPDATE: The Toronto Star viewed the video in question on May 3 and did not release this information to the public until early Friday.

Follow Travis on Twitter: @travmyers

Business travel

This is the second time since March that Boyfriend and I have been separated by time zones and countries, but the first time was infinitely easier. The first time I was away at SXSW, a huge film, tech and music festival, and I was surrounded by friends from home so it was hard to miss him. This time I’m on my own and making one of the largest career changes of my life and I want him here.

Last night he stayed up late so that I could call him. We ended up talking until well past 2 a.m. his time even though he had to be at work today and I know he’ll be exhausted because he talked to me until he knew I felt better and more confident. Sometimes life moves so fast that you forget to pay attention and sometimes life moves so fast that all you can do is pay attention to every single moment; right now I’m in the latter description and I’m starting to be afraid of all the little changes, but Boyfriend does everything he can to make me feel better. His idea of making me feel better is telling me that I am “Incorrect” when I worry that I might have made the wrong choice. It’s his belief in me that makes me feel stronger.

Last night after we got off the phone, when my mind was feeling like it could stop spinning and questioning and doing the mental equivalent of loop-de-loops with my emotions, I put on a shirt I have of his and hugged a pillow until I fell asleep. I don’t know what it is about wearing Boyfriend’s clothes but it almost feels like a long distance hug when I do. I know it’s a girl thing, we steal sweaters and t-shirts and keep relationships with the clothes longer than we do with the man who used to wear them, but when you first steal that t-shirt it’s just because it smells like him, it feels like him and it’s the best thing you have to connect the two of you when you’re apart.

It’s funny how after an hour long conversation with Boyfriend everything suddenly seems easier to deal with; I made the right career choice, change is good and I need to stop being so afraid of my own.

I never thought I’d find someone who understood how to make me laugh and how to talk me off the ledge. Right now, three hours behind him, I feel as close to him as ever because I know all I need to do is call and he’ll be right there telling me I’m being an idiot and laughing at me over the phone. That’s a lot nicer than it sounds, but our relationship doesn’t make much sense because we’re both completely weird, in a totally charming way.

Why don’t people believe a man can be raped?

Not too long ago we saw that the people of Toronto have no sympathy for a male rape victim. In a disgusting display the Toronto Twitterverse summarily dismissed the idea of a male rape victim by telling him he should be so lucky as to be attacked by four women, that he was lying, that he was gay or a prostitute, and that his victimisation doesn’t matter.

Cretins like Rosie DiManno came forward to say that “one man’s sexual assault is another man’s fantasy come true” and display a fundamentally flawed understanding of the very basic understanding of what rape is. Rape is forced, unwanted sexual interaction. You cannot want to be raped, because if you wanted it, it wouldn’t be rape.

The man, who decided (for what seems to be good reason considering the amount of ridicule he received) to stay anonymous, was a laughing stock to his peers, men and women who thought simply that a man can’t be raped. This reaction leaves me wondering just how many male rape victims have refused to step forward or seek police intervention or even counselling simply because they have been told time and time again that a man cannot be a rape victim, that they should have enjoyed it, or that in the stereotype of a man always wanting sex they were asking for it simply by being male.

With all of the time, energy, funding, and attention that is given to preventing rape why is it that the average Joe or Jane still can’t wrap their head around this?

Well first let’s take a quick look at the definition of rape. Until recently this was what Google returned:

 

Google’s victims are gender neutral; however, their aggressors are male.

A Google Image search for “how to stop rape” also brings up countless images where men who might otherwise be aggressors are told not to rape or are congratulated on stopping when told.

What is surprising is the heteronormative gender binary approach to rape as a topic. Men rape, women are raped. There is very little discussion in between for men who are raped by men, women who are raped by women, and men who are raped by women, like the victim in Toronto.

The response I’ve heard is that because the number of rapes that is reported in these scenarios is lower that it isn’t worth the time. I can think of one young man whose experience and entire existence was deemed worthless by the internet who might disagree. This notion may also be a beast that feeds itself: if no attention is given to these matters because they are reported less, when it does occur victims might be less likely to report it because they have no concept of a precedent.

If we want to do right by victims like Toronto’s John Doe we need to break away from this male vs. female conversation. In schools, posters, and awareness campaigns we need to stop addressing men as aggressors and potential aggressors and women as victims or potential victims. Instead we need to think about it simply as rapists and victims outside of their genders.

You’ve heard a thousand times before that rape isn’t about sex (sexual intercourse in this sense) but instead about power. Power isn’t limited to one sex or gender. The idea that “we need to teach men not to rape” ignores scores of victims who don’t fit into that construct and encourages the mentality that men and boys can’t also be victims like what we saw happen in the aftermath of the Toronto gang rape victim.

My heart goes out to this poor soul in the hopes that someday in the future a man can come forward as a victim without being victimised continually through social media and the press for simply being the wrong gender to feel sorry for.

Until then we need to teach people that rape is a genderless crime.

12 reasons you know you are a Toronto gay

Every city has certain unique characteristics that define it and help set it apart from other cities.  In Toronto, we have much to be proud of: a diverse multicultural population; a booming television and film industry; two of North America’s largest annual festivals, Pride and Caribana; a world famous film festival; and let’s not forget, one of the biggest phallic symbols on the planet.

Also proudly home to one of the largest gay populations in North America, here are some of things we think are specific when it comes to defining the gay Torontonian:

1. You’ve ravenously eaten a Superfresh ham and cheese croissant at 3am.

2. To you, a Business Women’s Special isn’t necessarily two burgers, some fries, and Diet Cokes.

3. You dress like you’re going clubbing when shopping at Loblaws on a Sunday afternoon.

4. You’re Facebook friends with Sofonda Cox.

5. You’ve slept with at least one cast member of 1 Girl 5 Gays and it definitely wasn’t Aliya Jasmine.

6. Queen West?  More like Queer West.

7. When someone says they live in Vaseline Tower you know what they mean and kinda judge them — but only a little, because their Grindr pic is hot.

8. Hanlan’s Point Beach is referred to by you and your friends as simply Gay Beach.

9. You’ve sprinted from Woody’s to Crews at 1:55am after watching some drunk guys from out of town drop their drawers in an attempt to win some cash.

10. You know where to find Gay Pizza.

11. You’ve never mistaken the door for Steamworks as the door to the underground parking garage.  Ahem.

12. You got tagged along with six other homos when your friend posted this on Facebook because this is so totally about you.

 

Follow Simon on Twitter at @ScottishGuy.

An open letter to Mike Jeffries

Dear Mr. Jeffries,

My name is Andreea Hluscu, and it is fair to say we will never meet. I am writing to you because your latest comments about overweight, unattractive and not-so-cool kids affect me, and if you’re going to publically state that you look down on this group of individuals and refuse to sell your company’s clothing to them, I feel like I need to introduce myself.

I’m not really a cool or attractive kid by your definitions. I have a dry sense of humour, my eyebrows are usually uneven, I have a chipped front tooth that I’m too scared to get fixed, and I have a nervous habit of biting my nails. When I sit down, my thighs expand and I have a few rolls on my stomach that no amount of sit-ups can seem to fix. That being said, I also have a lot of really great qualities. I am educated, I am a kind person, I am loving and I am fortunate to be very loved in my life. I like my sense of humour and my ability to connect with others, and I work very hard because I have a lot of big dreams that I know I will accomplish. Unfortunately, Mr. Jeffries, I am not a size 4 and I probably will never be a size 4, but guess what? I’m still a good person.

Those people you’re putting down, the “not-so-cool” kids? Those happen to be some of the most interesting people I have ever met. They are the people with stories to tell. They are the ones who embrace their differences and are a better person because of all the struggles they have faced in their past. They are the ones with hearts as big as their brains, and if I were you I would be lucky to have those types of individuals wearing your brand.

Mike (I hope you don’t mind I’m calling you Mike!), I did a little bit of research on you and I discovered that you don’t have a child. I can’t say that surprised me. Maybe your comments wouldn’t be as harsh if you saw your own child cry to you after he/she got bullied for not being cool enough or attractive enough. Maybe you would be more accepting if you saw the struggles that young men and women face every day, or if you were aware of the rising rates of depression and eating disorders amongst youth. Maybe you would think twice about making hurtful comments towards human beings and let them decide whether or not they even want to wear your company’s clothing.

By the way, Mike, I own one thing from Abercrombie & Fitch and that’s a pair of sweatpants. In honour of you, I’m going to put them on and eat as much pizza in one sitting as I can.

Women of the Week: Alison Dalglish-Pottow

For Alison Dalglish-Pottow, FPI Gallery is a labour of love.

“Art has always been a passion of mine, fostered at a very young age by my parents who took me to important art galleries and museums around the world as part of our summer family vacations.”

The greatest sign that she was meant to enter the art field was when she was admitted into Sotheby’s  prestigious Works of Art course. Attending the course meant leaving Canada for England, but this would prove to be a wise decision.

“Studying in the historically, architecturally and culturally rich city of London gave me a heightened appreciation for pursuing art as a possible career,” she says. “The art scene was vibrant and thriving, far eclipsing what was happening in Canada.”

Although the next several years would see her pursuing other career opportunities, working for companies such as IMG and CANFAR, she would eventually find her way back to the art world.

“Sometimes we sideline what we enjoy in favor of more practical, and oftentimes more prudent choices in life. It’s nice to discover that it’s never too late to revisit what we enjoy if a better time to do so comes along. That time came for me and when it did, I didn’t hesitate to run with it.”

Her baby, FPI Gallery, is a gallery for the new digital world. The idea for the gallery was born from Alison’s interactions with an emerging artist, Dean West.

“Dean West’s images were so captivating and compelling that I immediately knew he was a rising star in his field. All he needed was a little help in getting in front of the right collectors.”

Thus, Alison decided to create a completely online gallery. Why online? “A bricks and mortar gallery can be territorially restrictive,” Alison says. By focusing on a digital gallery, her clients’ works can be seen by collectors worldwide and news of the emerging talents can spread much more easily.

The gallery focuses solely on contemporary fine-art photography “where collectors can find the world’s best emerging fine art contemporary photographers in one place, without getting lost in the volume of art available on other websites worldwide.” This makes her site easier to navigate and much less time-consuming than galleries with wider ranges.

One of Alison’s major goals at FPI Gallery is to ensure the gallery is about the artists, not her. Unlike other online art websites, she keeps no standardized menu of dimension sizes and allows each artist to set his or her own price and edition size.

Knowing that many artists are uncomfortable with the typical gallery agreements, she designed a business model that would better suit their needs.  And by choosing to represent no more than 10 artists at a time, Alison ensures each will get the attention and promotion they deserve.

“At the end of the day, it’s about preserving value. I’m not going to permit profit to lead over sustainability of the artists and future appreciation of their work.”

This devotion to artists and their craft is clearly Alison’s greatest purpose. She stresses the need for people “to support the arts and the artists who dedicate themselves to pushing the frontiers of thought and influence.”

“Art is a living legacy of our history, politics and culture,” she says.

_____________________________________________________

Alison Dalglish-Pottow

President, Flash Photography Inc.

E: alison@fpigallery.com

www.fpigallery.com

Toronto City Council – rudderless, erratic and irresponsible

After spending the past week at city council I have come away disappointed and disgusted by some of the self-aggrandizing, weak-kneed opportunists the city has elected to council. Many councillors, who have claimed to support revenue tools for transit, withdrew their support, choosing to protect their political derrieres.

Here’s the background: Toronto has spent 40 years quibbling over subway and transit expansion – mostly due to the lack of funds to build anything. It’s easier for councillors to debate over the lines than to take a stand on funding tools. Over the past few years Mayor Ford has claimed that “efficiencies” and “developers” would pay for the subway expansion. However the efficiencies he found added up to very little and should properly go to balancing the budget with any surplus going to paying down the debt. Developers informed the Mayor that they could not sell condos above subway stations for the $4 to $5 million price tag required to cover the $200 million cost of building the subway stations below. The value of the “air rights” Mayor Ford claimed would more than pay for subway expansion was completely bogus.

Thank gracious we still have Metrolinx, the transit organization set up by the Province to build and expand transit across the GTHA. After years of consultation with transit experts, policy wonks and politicians, they created a 25 year transit expansion plan. But the plan needs to be funded and will cost approximately $50 billion – this works out to  $2 billion per year needed to get transit in the Toronto region caught up after 40 years of neglect. On May 27, Metrolinx will announce the funding tools they believe the Province should use.

This opened the door for Toronto to present direction on revenue tools to Metrolinx and so council instructed city manager, Joe Pennnachetti, to do extensive consultations with the public and create a report summing up what transit revenue tools Toronto residents wanted to support. The report was extensive and the top four revenue tools chosen through public consultations were:

  1. Sales Tax
  2. Fuel Tax
  3. Parking Levy
  4. Development Charges

However, the Mayor and his executive tried to block the city from submitting any revenue options to Metrolinx, in a bid to push responsibility for any “taxation” to the provincial level, where the Mayor’s brother Councillor Doug Ford is planning to run for the provincial Conservatives and could use the issue to further define his anti-tax campaign.

Council over-ruled the brothers Ford insisting a “mature” conversation was needed. Unfortunately nothing even coming close to a mature conversation could be found at last week’s debate, which saw councillors ignore all the research and instead fly off with their own funding ideas and digress into soap box campaign speeches on the need for particular subway lines in each of their wards.

Councillor Josh Matlow – one of the few brave councillors in the bunch – proposed Motion 1.b suggesting council support the revenue tools outlined in the city manager’s report. Unfortunately this led to heated debate that carried on for three days.

The debate was divisive and provided the perfect  opportunity for councillors vying for the Mayor’s chair to demonstrate their leadership skills. But leadership did not appear, and unfortunately the anti-tax chants coming from brothers Ford worked to eventually push councillors away from backing any of the funding tools the city manager put forward.

Councillor Glen De Baeremaeker tried to score points with his constituents by refusing to consent to any transit revenue tools if plans did not change to include a subway in his ward.

Councillor Stintz, who had originally claimed to want an “adult” conversation on revenue tools, yet again compromised her credibility by ignoring her prior support for the Big Move transit plan and endorsing Councillor De Baeremaeker’s demand for a subway line. Not only did she support a new transit map (that seemed to be drawn on the back of a napkin) but she also backed out of supporting the revenue tools that the City Manager, the Toronto Regional Board of Trade, Civic Action and the Toronto Transit Alliance have all endorsed.

At one point Councillor Ford announced to the press “that if subways required transit revenue tools then there wouldn’t be any subways for Toronto.”

Councillor Vaughn created a motion asking city council to support “a surcharge on vinyl labels as a new tax dedicated to fund subways.” This caused quite a reaction from Councillor Ford (who is also the CEO of Deco labels) and Vaughan eventually withdrew it.

But it was Councillor Josh Colle who announced the most conniving and devious motion of the week: to amend the original motion (supporting the city manager’s revenue tools recommendations) and delete all revenue tool recommendations.  On a side note I wonder if the arrival of MPP Mike Colle (father of Councillor Josh Colle) into city council chambers had anything to do with the younger Councillor’s subsequent motion to delete all revenue tool recommendations? His motion’s main agenda was to push responsibility for revenue tools up to the Provincial level, and it would seem that those who voted for it are more concerned about appearances than doing what is right for Toronto.

Such strategic political maneuvering allows Councillors who supported Councillor Colle’s motion to circumvent their duty to the city without being too suspect while at the same time allowing them to honestly claim they didn’t back any revenue tools for transit. So instead of directing the province with recommendations on the transit revenue tools the city manager compiled from weeks of consultations with the public, these councillors simply supplied the province with a list of tools each one of them personally would not support, ignoring the will of their constituents and the research provided to them by the city manager.

This pathetic political posturing was supported by:

Ana Bailåo, Michelle Berardinetti, Raymond Cho, Josh Colle, Gary Crawford, Vince Crisanti, Glen De Bearemaeker, Mike Del Grande, Fran Di Giorgio, Doug Ford, Rob Ford, Mark Grimes, Doug Holiday, Norm Kelly, Gloria Lindsay Luby, Giorgio Mammoliti, Peter Milczyn, Frances Nunziata (Chair), Cesar Palacio, James Pasternak, Anthony Perruzza, Jaye Robinson, David Shiner, Karen Stintz, Michael Thompson, Krystin Wong-Tam

The councillors who stood firm in their commitment to transit revenue tools were:

Paul Ainslie, Maria Augimeri, Shelley Carroll, Janet Davis, Sarah Doucette, John Fillion, Paula Fletcher, Mary Fragedakis, Mike Layton, Chin Lee, Josh Matlow, Pam McConnell, Mary-Margaret McMahon, Joe Mihevc, Ron Moser, John Parker, Gord Perks and Adam Vaughan

These councillors deserve a hefty pat on the back for not putting their political careers ahead of doing what is needed for the Toronto. I tip my hat to each and every one of them.

City Council debates new revenue tools

It should have been a simple discussion. Toronto City Councillors were asked to debate the validity of looking at implementing new revenue tools as a means to generate dedicated funding toward the expansion of Toronto’s transit system. However, councillors took the long road there. A three-day debate that required multiple votes is what ensued.

Let us be clear. Councillors were not debating whether or not to implement new taxes, or specific taxes, or what exactly would be built using this newly generated revenue. This debate was to settle a matter as to whether or not examining the use of transit tools would be advisable going forward. In the interest of democracy and public discourse this should have been a short debate. But the lack of leadership from Mayor Rob Ford (who did not attend the entire duration of the debate) and his inner circle took the debate in a direction that could only be described as school yard antics. However, it should be acknowledged that the lowest point of the marathon debate came from outside the Mayor’s circle when Adam Vaughan, Councillor for Ward 20 (Trinity-Spadina), put forward a childish motion proposing a new tax on vinyl labels to personally attack the Ford’s private business Deco Labels and Tags.

Childishness aside, this debate comes down one fact: Torontonians want subways. A longstanding refrain from the Mayor, his promises of new subways during the previous municipal general election has yet to be realized. Councillors from across the political spectrum must come around to the understanding that transit expansion requires funding.

Central to the debate was the rhetoric of ‘revenue tools’. The Mayor’s inner circle felt this was a misleading statement. To be fair, they are correct. These are taxes. That word has a tendency to scare some. But this is a discussion of either-or. Either the City accepts new methods of taxation or it sits on the status quo: the best transportation system 1980 can buy.

There are a number of options to fund the expansion of the subway system of which the City is in desperate need. However, I want to delve into the option that I believe is most appropriate. That would be the proposal of Sarah Thomson, publisher of Women’s Post and Chair of the Toronto Transit Authority, that Toronto implement a 1% regional sales tax. For what it is worth, Councillor Vaughan put forward his own motion that outlined the implementation of a similar province-wide sales tax of 1%.

Small regional sales taxes are widely used to fund regional transportation plans. For example, Seattle, Phoenix, San Diego, Los Angeles County and Denver have dedicated regional sales taxes. Many of these taxes were brought in by ballot referenda that clearly communicated the funds would be dedicated to build transit, including majority public support for these measures. Recent polling demonstrates there is public support in the GTA. A referendum in conjunction with the 2014 general election could settle this matter once and for all.

Transit-dedicated sales taxes in many United States cities of note had significant negative impact on local retail. Given that the 2008 GST reduction dropped total sales tax levels in the Greater Toronto-Hamilton Region, there is certainly room for an increase of as little as 1%. Such a low rate minimizes the impact on retailers and consumers.

When voting on the matter was decided, Councillor Vaughan’s motion was amended to include the following:

  • “That City Council support the extension of the Bloor Danforth Subway Line from Kennedy Station to the Scarborough Town Centre and north to Sheppard Avenue.” (Proposed by Councillor Glenn De Baermaeker, Ward 36 – Scarborough Centre.)
  • “That City Council request that the North York Relief Line (unfinished subway construction between Sheppard Avenue and Allen Road, and Yonge Street and Sheppard Avenue) be recognized as substantive project priority for Phase 2 Metrolinx funding. (Proposed by Councillor James Pasternak, Ward 10 – York Centre.)

It should be noted, however, that City Council quickly chose to not support the 1% sales tax on the very next vote on a motion by Josh Colle, Councillor for Ward 15 (Eglinton-Lawrence). That motion carried to reject seven different revenue tools, including a sales tax.

At the end of the day, this council dropped the proverbial ball. Torontonians have been waiting far too long for the transit system we so desperately need and deserve. For the time being it appears we will continue to wait.

NEW SUMMER TUNE: We love the new Jennifer Lopez/Pitbull summer song

We’re ready for summer, and what better way to say “hello sunshine” than to crank a new beach tune from Ms. Lopez and Pitbull. Throw in producer RedOne (you know, the guy who is responsible for every great Gaga hook) and you’ve got #LIVEITUP, an easily-to-hashtag summer dance party anthem we can certainly get into.

Be warned, there are a couple swears in the song.

If you need me I’ll be at the beach with my good friend JLo.

Hot New Things: Red

As the mercury rises, so does the vibrancy of the season’s clothing. Get ready to wear clothing red-hot enough to match the temperature outside.

 

Open-collar blazer

The perfect dash of colour to your late spring work wardrobe, this jacket will look great over a dress.

Available at Jacob.

Bold stripe scarf

It almost looks like a candy cane. So if (for some reason) you miss winter, you can wear this and think of Christmas.

Available at the Gap.

We Do I Do clutch

The name seems to suggest you are supposed to use this as a wedding clutch. And it is the season of weddings.

Available at Nine West.

Sleeveless maxi dress

You’ll be comfortable, classy and girly in this sweet number. And it goes anywhere, from work to dinner with your parents to a night on the town.

Available at H&M.