DAVE AGAR

February 13th Commentary

Posted By: Dave Agar · 2/13/2014 9:42:00 AM



Drinking hours

There's a move afoot to get Toronto city council to change the drinking hours in bars and restaurants so residents can have a beer watching the Canadian men's and women's hockey teams in the final four days of the Winter Olympics.

Councillor Mike Layton will table a resolution at next week's city council meeting and he figures that while some will object, the motion stands a good chance of passing.

He's talking about allowing alcohol service at 6am on the assumption that the Canadian hockey teams will each win a medal of some sort.

Toronto allowed bars to start serving at 10am for the World Cup 4 years ago. The Ontario Government quickly moved to do the same thing province-wide....but that was only a one-hour difference. This would be an additional 5 hours of service. Two would be school days. Two would be weekends.

I don't have any particular opposition to the idea but I just wonder whether it would be worth it. How many people are going to show up to drink in a bar before they go to work?

Byelections

Thousands of voters in Thornhill and Niagara Falls have already cast their ballots. Thousands more are expected at the polling stations today to choose a new member of the Ontario Legislature.

Thornhill was held by Progressive Conservative Peter Shurman who resigned after a run-in with party leader Tim Hudak.

Niagara Falls was held by the Liberals. This is a riding that has largely voted Liberal and Conservative for nearly the past 1-hundred years...although the NDP did hold it from 1990 to 95. Insiders are saying New Democrat Wayne Gates has a good shot at it because the labour movement has poured everything into the NDP hopeful.

Progressive Conservative MPP Monte McNaughton says:

"We're seeing this in Niagara Falls where the special interests are taking over. Sid Ryan has been very clear that they've sent over 700 special interest union members to the province to defeat Tim Hudak and the PCs. Families in Niagara Falls damn well deserve to know who's on their side and it's not the NDP."

Thornhill...could go either Liberal or PC.

The outcome of the two byelections will have no bearing the balance of power at Queen's Park but if the PC's are shut out again, there would be tremendous pressure on Tim Hudak to either change the way he's doing things or step aside. I can't see him quitting. Not this close to a general election. What you might see is the PC's parking their promise to kill the Rand Formula which requires anyone in a unionized workplace to pay union dues.

City hall service

If you look at Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's biography on the city website you'll see that his stated "top priority" is customer service excellence.

Another promise made. Another promise broken...thus far.

City Ombudsman Fiona Crean says that complaints from the public have soared 28 percent in the last year.

"We've done a lot in three years," said Rob Ford. "In the next five years or ten years, as long as Mayor, it's going to become perfect, but we're far from it now. I think people are going to get pink slips if they don't start responding to the taxpayers when they call."

Ford does have a point that the culture has to change but it is difficult to see how you can possibly provide customer service excellence when the mayor has allowed nearly 26-hundred job openings to go vacant....in the name of saving money.

Chief Blair

There's grumbling at the Toronto Police Services Board about chief Bill Blair.

From chairman Alok Mukarjee to vice-chair Michael Thompson to board member Mike Del Grande.

It's about the level of staffing. Chief Blair wants nearly 2-hundred more officers hired to close the gap in staffing needed for such a big city.

The board asked an outside consulting firm to report back on ways to reduce staffing levels. The firm came back with a recommendation to hire 1-hundred-78 new officers.

To Del Grande, and l suspect Thompson and Mukarjee, this so-called independent report smells like Chief Blair had his hands on it and they're not happy.

Thompson, on NewsTalk 1010's Live Drive with John Tory made it clear that while the Chief has done a good job, he would not support extending his contract beyond the April 2015 expiration.

For his part, Chief Blair is saying nothing publicly about whether he even wants a contract extension. I suspect he does but there's no point saying anything publicly. Let's wait to see how the tea leaves settle in the October municipal election because if Rob Ford gets re-elected, Blair is probably done in any event

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