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Benefit concert to take place at Danforth Music Hall for victims of shooting

Billy Talent and a collection of other musicians are banding together to perform a concert at the Danforth Music Hall on August 11 in support of the #TorontoStrong fund following the Danforth shooting.

A benefit concert called Toronto Together will feature musicians such as Billy Talent, Pup, City and Colour, and other currently unannounced artists to raise money for the #TorontoStrong fund. The fund was started by the city of Toronto and Toronto Foundation to raise money for those affected by the April 23rd van attack and the July 22nd Danforth shooting.

The concert will also be taking place during Taste of the Danforth festival.

“What has happened in Toronto this summer and what happened on the Danforth a few blocks from our studio, has not only hit close to home, this has hit home,” Billy Talent said in a statement. “All we know is that we can’t just sit here. We don’t know what we want but we want to do something. We want to throw a concert to show the world and more importantly our community that Toronto is a place of love, of community, of kindness and compassion. The violence that has happened here this summer does not represent the majority.”

The Danforth Music Hall is only metres away from where the deadly July 22 shooting took place. 29-year-old gunman Faisal Hussain approached civilians in Toronto’s Greektown neighbourhood and open-fired, taking the lives of 10-year-old Julianna Kozis and 18-year-old Reese Fallon.

The Toronto Foundation wrote about how Mayor John Tory and the city of Toronto partnered with their foundation to establish the #TorontoStrong fund, which has gained over $3.5 million in donations for those affected by the van and Danforth attacks. “Serving as the Fund’s pro bono Fund Administrator, former Toronto Mayor Barbara Hall is working to disburse the entirety of funds to the victims in a timely fashion. Contributions will continue to be received up to August 31 with final disbursements made by September 30, 2018,” they wrote.

After the funds are distributed to the victims, the volunteer steering committee of the Toronto Foundation will generate further ideas to prevent future violence in the city and “long-term strategies related to city-wide impacts of mass acts of violence.”

Doug Ford receives backlash for plan to cut city council

After Premier Doug Ford announced that he would be introducing a bill to slash Toronto’s city council from 47 members to 25, NDP leader Andrea Horwath and Mayor John Tory are criticizing the decision.

On Monday Ford introduced the Better Local Government Act at the provincial legislature. The plan would be to cut city council nearly in half, a move that brought forth criticism from city council, John Tory, and opposing leader Andrea Horwath.

The Premier’s office released further information last Friday on why they’re choosing to introduce such a controversial bill. “At 44 seats, growing to 47 seats, Toronto City Council has become increasingly dysfunctional and inefficient through a combination of entrenched incumbency and established special interests,” they wrote. A streamlined Toronto City Council would empower Toronto’s mayor and help ensure that Toronto taxpayers can count on an efficient and effective municipal government.” They added that the bill could help save Toronto taxpayers over $25.5 million over the next four years but didn’t provide any specifics.

The bill will also extend the nomination period for city council candidates to September 14, 2018, though the deadline for Mayor would remain the same.

Mayor John Tory told reporters that the bill was “absolutely not right” to introduce without consulting with Torontonians. “I’m angry at the process because I think it is disrespectful of the people, most of all, in that I think people, when there’s a major change being made to their civic democracy, deserve to be consulted in one way, shape or form,” he said. “It wasn’t put on the basis that he was planning to do it. He said that he’s talked about it before and I actually sort of dismissed it on the basis of saying, ‘Well, that’s not something that could be done. We’re in the middle of an election campaign,’” he added. “The matter dropped at that stage because I didn’t have the sense he was pursuing it, either.”

Tory also called for a referendum, which was approved by city council. “I will continue to advocate that the province pushes the pause button on this process and let the municipal election already underway proceed,” he added in a Twitter thread on July 30.

Ford received further criticism from opposing leader Andrea Horwath, who released a statement about the bill, saying that he didn’t announce these plans on the campaign trail or consult people. “It’s clear that Mr. Ford wants a smaller number of councillors to have more power, fewer checks and balances, and less accountability. This is obviously a move to make it easier for the premier to control Toronto City Hall. The actions we hear Mr. Ford plans to take not only mean less accountability and transparency at City Hall, but that each Torontonian will have less help and less access to their city councillor,” she said.

Horwath also tweeted about the bill, calling it something Ford “cooked up in a backroom.”

Ford is defending his decision at City Hall and on social media since July 27. “I promised to reduce the size and cost of government, and end the culture of waste and mismanagement. More politicians are not the answer. These changes will dramatically improve the decision making process, and help restore accountability and trust in local governments,” he wrote on Friday.

Ford posted a video of him yesterday addressing the concerns of his bill. “We’re gonna create jobs. We’re gonna create transit. We’re gonna fix the infrastructure and we’re gonna take care of the billion dollars backlogged of housing. People are sleeping on the streets cause too much money’s going to politicians,” he said. He accompanied the 0: 15-second clip with a tweet saying, “We’re going to make government work for the people. We can’t allow political gridlock and dysfunction at City Hall to keep delaying progress on critical issues. By streamlining City Council, we will help Toronto move forward on transit, infrastructure and housing.”

Progress Toronto, an advocacy group supporting democracy, started a petition to stop Ford’s bill called “Stop Ford’s takeover of Toronto politics.” They wrote that Ford is “abusing his power as premier and he is messing with our political system in the middle of an election to try to control Toronto City Hall from Queen’s Park.”

Torontonians threaten to boycott conservative fast-food chain Chick-fil-A

The American conservative fast food chain Chick-fil-A is coming to Canada and the decision to migrate over is already causing an uproar with the LGBTQ2 community and Torontonians.

 The fast-food company has drawn controversy in the past for openly supporting homophobic views and referencing the bible in response to their views on family. In 2012, Chick-fil-A’s then-president Dan Cathy told The Ken Coleman Show I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.’ I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.”  

Though, in 2014, he stated that he regretted getting the company caught up in the politics of same-sex marriages. He didn’t, however, retract his statements and asked people to respect his opinion on the matter.

Chick-fil-A has also reportedly donated millions of dollars to organizations like Exodus International, an organization that was well-known for their gay conversion therapy. They also donated money to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a non-profit organization that openly supports homophobia. For example, their student leader application has a section titled “FCA’s Sexual Purity Statement,” which specifies that “God desires His children to lead pure lives of holiness. The Bible is clear in teaching on sexual sin including sex outside of marriage and homosexual acts. Neither heterosexual sex outside of marriage nor any homosexual act constitute an alternative lifestyle acceptable to God.”

It added that leaders would need to step down from their role if they were caught going against the outlined protocol. “This does not mean that I am a bad person and that the FCA does not love me and want me involved; this is in order to protect the integrity of the ministry and to protect the ones to which we are ministering,” it says. 

Currently, the chicken restaurant is set to make its first Canadian appearance in Toronto by next year. According to a letter from Chick-fil-A’s current president, Tim Tassopoulos, they also plan to expand their operations across the GTA with an additional 15 locations over the next five years. In light of the news, LGBTQ2 communities and Torontonians are speaking out against welcoming a restaurant with such a homophobic past.

People have taken to Twitter to voice their concerns and threats of a boycott. The hashtag #BoycottChickFilA has started on the social media platform and dozens of people are expressing their disinterest in the fast-food chain moving to Toronto.

 The decision to invest in Toronto as our first international Chick-fil-A market isn’t one we take lightly,” Tassopoulos said in his letter. “We’ve spent years researching cities across the world, and the more time we spent here, the more we knew Toronto was the perfect place to roost.”

Police release names of victims from Danforth shooting

Police released the names of the Danforth shooting suspect and victims following Sunday’s deadly attack.

Reese Fallon was identified as the 18-year-old Julianna Kozis was identified as the 10-year-old, both of whom lost their lives after a gunman open fired in Greektown over this past weekend. Fallon had recently graduated from the Malvern Collegiate Institute and was planning to attend McMaster for nursing.

Kozis, who was a Markham native, will be honored by flags flying half-mast. The mayor of Markham, Frank Scarpitti, released a statement on Twitter saying that “The City of Markham will lower flags in honour of her memory and in remembrance of all those affected by this unspeakable tragedy.”

Police have also identified the shooter as being 29-year-old Faisal Hussain. Hussain was said to be suffering from mental health issues, a concern that was addressed in the statement released by his parents.

“We are at a terrible loss for words but we must speak out to express our deepest condolences to the families who are now suffering on account of our son’s horrific actions,” his family said. “We are utterly devastated by the incomprehensible news that our son was responsible for the senseless violence and loss of life that took place on the Danforth.”

“Our son had severe mental health challenges, struggling with psychosis and depression his entire life. The interventions of professionals were unsuccessful. Medications and therapy were unable to treat him. While we did our best to seek help for him throughout his life of struggle and pain, we could never imagine that this would be his devastating and destructive end,” the statement continued. “Our hearts are in pieces for the victims and for our city as we all come to grips with this terrible tragedy. We will mourn those who were lost for the rest of our lives.”

A GoFundMe page was created on July 23 by Julie Steel, whose husband taught Fallon at Malvern Collegiate. The page was created “to establish a scholarship fund to be distributed each year to a graduate of Malvern Collegiate entering a nursing program as a way to keep Reese’s memory alive.” Steel wrote that the money will be directly released to Fallon’s family who will then be in charge of the logistics regarding the creation of a scholarship. To date, the page has raised $31,680 of its $50,000 goal.

13 injured, 2 dead in Danforth shooting

Over a dozen people are injured and two victims have died following a Toronto shooting that took place on July 22 at approximately 10:00 p.m. in the Greektown neighbourhood.

An unnamed 29-year-old shooter was armed with a handgun and open fired on pedestrians in Toronto’s popular Danforth and Broadview area. The shooter was also pronounced dead in a nearby alleyway after an altercation with police, though reports have yet to confirm whether he died from police gunfire or if he took his own life.

Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders and Toronto Mayor John Tory spoke with reporters following the attack.

“Approximately 15 people have been hit with gunfire,” Saunders told reporters. “There are 15 in total. One is the alleged suspect, the other 14 are victims. I can tell you that one has succumb to their injuries at this point in time. A young girl is in critical state right now and the other 13 are in hospital and being treated.”

Regarding motive, Saunders told reporters that he’s keeping every option open. “I’m looking at absolutely every possible motive for this. When you have this many people that are struck by gunfire, it’s a grave concern. I certainly want to find out exactly what it is, so I’m not closing any doors or any chapters on this,” he said. “I certainly don’t want to speculate as well. Once we have a better concrete picture of exactly what happened and what the motivation was behind it, we definitely will be having a further conversation on that.”

He added that he didn’t believe the shooting was random. “I’m not calling it random. This person was here and he definitely shot. I don’t know why he did what he did,” he said.

Saunders also asked any witnesses to come forward, including those who may have dash cam footage.

Mayor Tory then spoke with reporters, saying that he wanted to reiterate a few points from Saunders. “First of all, people should not reach any conclusions because the police themselves have not drawn any conclusions as to exactly what happened here and why,” he said. He added that he also wanted to reiterate Saunders’ call for help from any witnesses who may have seen something.

“Please don’t draw any conclusions, please wait for the police to do their job,” he continued. “They have plenty of police resources here.”

He added that the families of the victims have the city’s thoughts and prayers.

The Danforth shooting comes just three months after Toronto’s deadly van attack. When reporters questioned what Tory had to say to those who were still recovering from the previous attack, he said, “It’s almost inconceivable these kinds of things can happen. We were too used to living in a city where these things didn’t happen and we saw them going on in the world around us we thought they didn’t happen here, or couldn’t, or shouldn’t.”

“I can just say to people that they should try to stay calm while the police do their job because we have to figure out what happened here. We don’t know.” he continued. “[…] Please just comfort your fellow Torontonian. These things, you can never brush them away and I’m angry about them. I’m angry when these kinds of things happen in the city and lots of people would be angry about it.”

Tory added that Toronto has a gun problem and that firearms are too readily available to people who aren’t the police. “We clearly have to do more about to because there are too many people who are carrying around guns and using them in whatever manner they use them in whatever connection,” he said. “That’s part of what we shouldn’t conclude, just that there was a gun used. We have a gun problem and I just hope every step is going to be taken by all those who have responsibility.”

Video footage of the shooter opening fire on civilians was posted to Twitter in a four-second clip.

Premier Doug Ford tweeted out as well saying that his heart went out to the victims and thanking the Toronto police for responding so quickly.

Confronting an eight-legged fear

“An arachnophobe walks into a spider exhibit” sounds like the beginning of a bad joke but stick with me.

I’ve battled arachnophobia ever since I was a kid. I hate spiders. I hate them. I don’t like all their legs or their quick little movements or how they invade my kitchen, forcing me to take my dinner elsewhere.

And it’s not just the hatred of them; my burning distaste is accompanied by an all-consuming fear that I’ve dealt with ever since I was a wee lass. Even at 25-years-old, the tips of my ears turn red, I want to cry, and I can feel them crawling all over me the second I even see a spider. I also can’t move and refuse to do so until someone removes it from my line of vision. True story: I came home one night at 11:30 p.m. and there was a spider dangling in front of my house’s door. So, I needed to literally stand there and watch it string down on its web and then back up again for five whole minutes before it eventually crawled far enough away. I actually contemplated sleeping outside just to avoid this one spider.

Anyway, that’s how bad my arachnophobia is. It’s senseless and consuming and exhausting. But, apparently, that’s not enough to stop me from seeing an entire exhibit of spiders at the Royal Ontario Museum.

I saw posters for it and advertisements in the theatres (I couldn’t even look at the big screen when a spider crawled across it). As soon as I saw the advertisements I knew I wouldn’t be going. Of course not!

But, my boyfriend suggested that I need to go. It would behoove me to confront my fears and I’d also have a killer article at the end of it. After much deliberation, I told him that I would only go if he accompanied me… mainly so I could squeeze his hand until I crushed it. He agreed.

As soon as I entered there were huge faux spiders to greet patrons. I immediately wanted to go home and hoped to hell they didn’t have live spiders (which they did). He and I kept moving in and there was a wide array of little displays to get lost in. You could learn about their webbing, what they eat, how their blood is blue, and how they hadn’t killed anyone in Canada in 2012. I mean, that wasn’t exactly comforting but kudos to the ROM for trying.

My boyfriend and I went to see the live spiders. There was a centipede, which didn’t freak me out as much, and a few tarantulas hanging around in their cages. Despite my initial fear that they would be sharpening knives and waiting for me, the spiders were really calm and weren’t moving around too much. Their lack of movement allowed a bunch of people to take photos of them, which I wanted to do.

He and I moved a bit closer and I handed the camera to my boyfriend to get some photos. But as I gave him my phone he went, “Wait. Why am I doing your job? You can do it. Go ahead.” I’m pretty sure I had a headache with how much side-eye I gave him. But, I approached the cage and gulped down the belief that this tarantula would gain Herculean strength, smash through the glass, and murder me. I snapped a few photos and quickly walked away.

My boyfriend and I walked around for about an hour exploring all the different live displays and learning facts about spiders. For example, I had no idea that they had blue blood. I also didn’t know how intricate their web designs could be. I also learned facts that re-affirmed my fears, like how some spiders can kill fish because they’re huge and gross and strong.

Towards the end, I started getting tingles on my legs that I kept mindlessly brushing away. Suffice to say, I had had enough. My urge to cry and run away was getting stronger the longer he and I stayed in there. But, eventually, he and I made it to the end, which included a wonderful Spider-Man display. I felt overwhelming relief seeing my favourite web-slinger. My boyfriend and I took photos inside a life-size comic book and I marvelled over first edition comics that were on display.

To be honest, as I walked out I didn’t feel any better. The exhibit stated how over 90% of people feel better once they confront their fears, but I think I fall into the minority. I can’t begin to express how happy I am to be out of there. Though I will admit that even if I still fear spiders as much as I used to, it was a heck of an experience.

Ontario minister wears bulletproof vest to Jane & Finch, causing backlash

Michael Tibollo, the Ontario PC Party’s minister of community safety and correctional services, said that he wore a bulletproof vest while visiting Jane and Finch, prompting leaders to call his remarks racist and ask for a comment withdrawal.

Ontario’s PC minister of community safety and correctional services visited the Jane and Finch area on July 7. He tweeted about the experience, saying, “I had the opportunity to travel around 31 Division and learn about the great work of our police force. We are committed to work with our Police to ensure safe neighborhoods free of guns and gang violence. Glad to have Premier Ford join me and hear his concerns as well.”

Premier Doug Ford also tweeted about the experience. “Enjoyed meeting with the great community members in the Driftwood neighbourhood yesterday along with Minister @MichaelTibollo and officers from 31 Division. We are focused on building strong connections between communities and our police services,” he wrote.

During a question period in Queen’s Park on July 18, Tibollo said that he wore a bulletproof vest before entering the Jane and Finch area in response to a question about carding (incidents where people – often minorities – are stopped by police for no reason). The question came from Brampton North NDP MPP Kevin Yarde.

Yarde asked, “Mr. Speaker. I personally have been carded. […] New Democrats have long been advocating for the end of carding as a first step in addressing systemic racism. […] Will you be making changes to allow even more carding to take place on Ontario streets or will you work to stamp out carding?”

Tibollo responded, “I went out to Jane and Finch, put on a bulletproof vest and spent 7:00 to 1:00 in the morning visiting sites that had previously had bullet-ridden people killed in the middle of the night.”

During a question period later in the day, Tibollo added, “They’re surrounded by drug deals, one of which I saw take place while I was there. It was absolutely horrifying.”

“The police need tools to work with, they are doing an incredible job ensuring that our streets are safe. And it’s our job — I’m not a police officer — but what I can tell you is they need skills, they need tools to work with,” he added. “Our work will be to ensure working with the communities to make sure we build trust and that we have those tools provided to them to be able to do their jobs properly.”

Opposing party leader, Andrea Horwath, tweeted about Tibollo’s comments, calling them racist. “Conservative minister Michael Tibollo’s comment this morning about wearing a bulletproof vest at Jane and Finch is inexcusably racist. Anyone who would say something so divisive has no credibility to continue to oversee Ontario’s Anti-Racism Directorate.”

Tibollo responded about an hour later writing, “Any attempt to spin my comments this morning, is petty partisan politics. I am proud to support our police, and I will continue to work with communities and front line officers to make sure our neighbourhoods are safe.”

However, Horwath isn’t the only opposing Ontario leader who criticized Tibollo’s actions. Yarde also called for a retraction of the comment. In response to reporters, he drew on personal experience, saying that he was pulled over seven years ago in Mississauga for no reason. “Depending on who you’re asking and as an African-Canadian, I thought it was a racist comment,” Yarde said. “It was a surprise to hear comments such as that coming from the minister of community safety and correctional services.”

Alok Mukherjee, the former chair of the Toronto Police Services Board also tweeted out that wearing a bulletproof vest during a ride-along is not standard. “Since when is this a standard procedure? I did not wear a vest in my ridealongs all over the city,” he tweeted.

Deputy Premier Christine Elliot defended Tibollo, saying that she didn’t think Tibollo intended on an offensive comment. “I think what he is speaking about is needing to go to communities to understand what’s happening, to understand how people have been hit by violence, gun violence in their neighbourhood,” she told reporters.

Ford’s sex-ed decision will hurt students

So, Ford officially nixed Ontario’s sexual education curriculum so he could appease pro-life, Christian groups and conservative parents who don’t want children to know about basic things. Big surprise.

When Ford was discussing his idiotic plans for the city on the campaign trail I already knew that I wasn’t going to vote for him. He was too quick to yank decisions out of thin air that only placated a small amount of misinformed, bigoted people. It’s obvious that this is what the next four years will look like now that he’s literally setting the province back 20 years.

In case you missed it, Ford announced on July 11 that he would be reverting the Liberal party’s curriculum and replacing it with the 1998 version. The reason for this was essentially so he could consult with parents on what they wanted their kids to learn at home versus the classroom.

There are many problems with this decision. The 1998 curriculum didn’t include things that matter today like transgender people, same-sex marriage, consent, masturbation, homophobia, online bullying, and sexting. Back then these things were pretty much unheard of, so it wasn’t a big deal to sweep them under the rug.

But when students started entering a technology-driven society, things drastically changed. Kids were getting more open about their sex lives, sending photos to their partners, and had a new platform to bully other kids into suicide or changing schools. The internet is great for a lot of things, but it’s also a dangerous aid to children who weren’t educated in how to behave or protect themselves.

For those parents or conservatives out there who think this is a good move, let me tell you something. I went to high school in a Catholic school. Learning about Jesus for four years when you’re an atheist was already hell enough (please control your applause at these puns), but my class learned nothing about sex. Nothing. The teacher spent half a class once talking about how girls have a vagina and boys have a penis, everyone needs to refrain from having sex until couples were in love, and that everyone has to be safe. The end. But, what does safe mean? Ah, yes, my Catholic high school wanted to cover their butts by saying they technically told students to be safe, but they worked around it by not showing students what that meant. Kids in my school were never taught how to put on condoms or what diseases could be contracted through unprotected sex. This kind of “education” led to the school shutting down hallways because students were having sex too often in them and grade-10 girls walking around the cafeteria pregnant. So, maybe education is a good thing?

Though, it’s not just the Catholic groups out there who wanted Ontario’s sex-ed curriculum repealed. Enter Campaign Life Coalition. Let me stop sighing long enough to express my distaste in their backward views. They published an article talking about graphic lessons on body parts. Words like “penis” (oh no!), “vagina” (the horror!), “testicles” (the travesty!), and “vulva” (sound the alarm!) were all present.

I think I can understand where they were coming from. They don’t want little kids in grade one learning about their genitals because they’re much too young and need to be making macaroni art. However, kids get curious. It’s not unheard of for children that young to start exploring with other kids or even their own siblings. Look at the whole Lena Dunham debacle that happened a few years ago. Tons of people were quick to call her disgusting and a rapist, whereas several therapists actually stated that they didn’t think Dunham abused her sister at all. What happened was a case of curious children who weren’t properly educated by their parents or in schools.

It’s not just the genitals thing that irks me. It’s how the Coalition’s article also demonized same-sex households. A line from their article on grade 3 lessons reads: “Will normalize homosexual family structures and homosexual ‘marriage’ in the minds of 8-year-olds, without regard for the religious/moral beliefs of families.” What about the regard for the children coming from same-sex homes? That means they can be left out entirely so a homophobic agenda can continue being taught?

The article continues by saying, “It would be one thing to teach the fact that such alternative family structures exist, if the plan were to teach it at older ages, and if it were done in a way that respected the deeply held religious and moral beliefs of traditionally-principled families. However, the Kathleen Wynne government will certainly take an activist approach to these lessons and show no respect nor tolerance for traditionally-principled families.” Correct me if I’m wrong but it sounds like you’re upset that “traditional” homophobic, belittling views won’t see the light of day. Forgive me for not shedding tears.

I already knew that Ford promising to rid the new curriculum was going to be trouble. I believed him, and if you want to applaud him for keeping true to his promises then I guess I can give him that as well. I can’t deny that he did what he said he would. It just turns out that what he did was stupid, damaging, ill-informed, and not half as big a win as he thinks.

Regardless of whether or not Ford or the conservative parents out there believe it, kids masturbate. They’re going to have sex. Girls will get their periods. Boys will ask girls to send photos of their breasts. Girls will ask for photos of a boy’s genitals. Your kids are going to experiment. They’re most likely going to have sex in high school and be curious as children, so the least you could do for them is keep them educated.

Ford sets Ontario education back 20 years

After just a few short days in office, Doug Ford has already made good on his promise to remove the liberal’s sexual education program and replace it with one that was literally published decades ago.

When Ford was elected into office he told the public that he would be removing the current sex-ed program, which focussed on important issues such as masturbation, same-sex marriage, cyber safety, and transgender people. It also taught kids about issues more prominent with today’s youth: contraceptives, STIs, and the notion of consent.

On July 11, Ford announced that schools would be reverting back to a 1998 curriculum that has no mention of the important issues highlighted in the current program. Education minister Lisa Thompson told reporters at Queen’s Park that “The sex-ed component is going to be reverted back to the manner in which it was prior to the changes that were introduced by the Liberal government.” She added that the party will be “moving very swiftly with our consultations and I will be sharing with you our process in the weeks to come.”

This decision came from Ford’s decision to consult parents on what they wanted to have taught to their children in schools and what they wanted to teach their young ones at home.

His opposition was quick to criticize the decision. NDP leader Andrea Horwath told reporters on July 11 that, “Going backwards in terms of keeping our kids safe and giving them the information they need to stay safe is not the right direction.” She added, “We worked hard to make sure that everyone in Ontario feels that they are respected, that they are able to be who they are, able to have opportunity, able to be free of violence and hate. And anything that starts to erode people’s ability to be themselves and be respected in this province is problematic.”

A petition is already in place to sway Ford into reverting his decision. The petition, called “Doug Ford: Keep Ontario’s Sex-Ed Curriculum, has already reached 54,283 signatures of their 75,000 goal to date. It reads: “The curriculum was designed and written by experts in child development, internet safety, police, and social workers, in consultation with roughly 4,000 parents. It emphasizes much-needed lessons of consent, acceptance for others and sexual health.”

While some are praising Ford for already living up to his promises, the ones that he’s put into effect will drastically alter the education of children and not the for the better.

Police resume normal operations after Toronto concerns

Normal police operations have resumed after Toronto’s force responded to threats of a van attack occurring at the CN Tower and surrounding areas.

On July 12, Toronto police received a threat suggesting that a copycat van attack would take place near the CN Tower and surrounding areas. Toronto was already struck with tragedy in April when Alek Minassian deliberately drove a rental truck into pedestrians near Yonge and Finch. He killed 10 people and injured another 16, making it one of the deadliest attacks in Canadian history.

The police report, which was obtained by several publications, stated that “On Wednesday, July 11th, 2018, the Toronto Police Service (TPS) received credible information regarding a potential vehicle ramming attack in the area of the CN Tower on Thursday, July 12th.” It continued that the TPS would increase the number of police patrolling the surrounding areas.

A tweet was published by Toronto police at 9:30 a.m. on July 12 stating: “We are responding to an unconfirmed, uncorroborated piece of information relating to the GTA. As a result of this information, you will see an increased number of police officers throughout the city and, specifically, in the downtown core ^sm”

Premier Doug Ford also released a statement on Twitter saying, “We are aware of the reported potential threat in the City of Toronto. While the information is unsubstantiated, the Premier has been briefed by the Provincial Security Advisor and is actively monitoring the situation.”

TPS added that a statement would be provided to reporters at 11:30 a.m. in Bobby Rosenfeld Park. Acting superintendent Mike Barksy spoke with reporters at the time.

“As such, we have increased what we call our ‘footprint of police presence’ in the downtown core,” he said. It was also said that police presence has already increased in the areas surrounding the CN Tower, Rogers Centre and Ripley’s Aquarium due to the playoffs.

When asked by reporters what specific buildings were targeted, police would not comment as it related to their investigation. “Whenever we have a report of a potential risk, we take that seriously. And because of that, we know that the downtown core of Toronto is a significant area for people who travel to the city, live in the city, and come to the visit the city,” Barsky told reporters. “And as such, we’ve called upon our partners from neighbouring police divisions to come and assist us in ensuring that people can continue to come down and enjoy those luxuries.”

They added that shops and hot spots were still open in the surrounding areas at the time and that one of the biggest events of the night, the Foo Fighters concert, was not cancelled. Hondo Indy Toronto also tweeted out that their event remained open and they were following a site and security plan.

Around the time of the press conference, Metrolinx also released a statement saying, “safety of our customers and staff is central to everything we do at Metrolinx.” Their statement also included reassurance that transit safety officers were deployed in “important areas of service to ensure passenger and staff safety.”

Late Thursday evening Toronto police released a statement saying that they were resuming normal police operations in the area. “We know this heightened security can be concerning for the public. Our goal is always to be as transparent as possible while protecting the integrity of our investigations,” it read.