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Toronto Star
  • Conservative pollster has Tory ahead in Toronto mayoral race, Ford back in third

    John Tory holds a slight lead over Olivia Chow and a bigger lead over Rob Ford, a new poll by a prominent conservative pollster has found.

    The poll by Dimitri Pantazopoulos is the second in July to suggest Tory has risen to first place in Toronto’s mayoral campaign. Tory, the former Progressive Conservative leader, was one point behind Chow, the former NDP MP, in a third July poll.

    The new poll had Tory with 30 per cent of the vote, Chow with 26 per cent and incumbent Ford with 23 per cent. Councillor Karen Stintz and former councillor David Soknacki remained far out of contention, with three per cent each.

    When only “decided” voters were included, Tory had 35 per cent, Chow 31 per cent, Ford 27 per cent, Stintz and Soknacki four per cent each.

    Tory was in second or third place in every public poll until July. Voting day is Oct. 27, three months from now.

    See the Star’s Toronto Mayoral Election Poll Tracker

    Pantazopoulos is a former pollster for Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He has ties to both Ford and Tory: he conducted an early poll for Ford’s 2010 campaign and worked with senior Tory aide Nick Kouvalis on the 2013 campaign of British Columbia Premier Christy Clark, a Liberal.

    Pantazopoulos has also managed the (Preston) Manning Centre’s Municipal Government Project, which trains conservative council candidates. He is now a partner in the lobby firm Maple Leaf Strategies.

    Pantazopoulos polled 800 residents from Monday through Wednesday using live interviews. The poll is considered accurate within 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

    The winner of a three-contender race will probably need to have support in the mid-30s at least. Like most other election polls to date, this one suggests that Ford has alienated too many voters to rise that high.

    Only 23 per cent said Ford deserves re-election, while 67 per cent said it is time for someone new. Ford was the second choice of a mere 13 per cent of Tory supporters and a tiny 3 per cent of Chow supporters.

    By contrast, 36 per cent of Tory supporters said Chow was their second choice. Forty-four per cent of Chow supporters said Tory was their second choice.

    Pantazopoulos, playing off the phrase “Ford Nation,” said the poll shows “Ford Stagnation.”

    “There is simply no room for Rob Ford’s support to increase,” Pantazopoulos said in a statement. “He has what he has and he will need a game-changer to get into contention.”

    Ford led all candidates in Scarborough, by far his strongest area, with 35 per cent of the vote; Tory had 22 per cent, Chow 20. Tory was ahead in every other region, though he was in a statistical tie with Chow in the former Toronto and East York.

    Ford had only 12 per cent in the Toronto-East York region. Tory had 36 per cent, Chow 35 per cent.

    Pantazopoulos is the third pollster to enter the field in the Toronto election.

    Forum Research, the most frequent pollster, found Chow (29 per cent), Tory (28per cent), and Ford (27 per cent) in a three-way statistical tie on July 21. Nanos, in a poll paid for by the Ontario Convenience Stores Association, had Tory up six points over Chow and 17 points over Ford on July 5.

  • Fake teacher worked at five TDSB schools, police say

    A 27-year-old man impersonated a substitute teacher for more than two months in several Scarborough schools before he was discovered and arrested this week, police say.

    The man allegedly posed as a teacher in Toronto District School Board (TDSB) elementary and high schools, where he worked as a special-needs assistant and teacher’s aide.

    Police believe the alleged impersonation lasted from April 1 to June 5, and included the following schools: Inglewood Heights Junior Public School, H.A. Halbert Junior Public School, Ionview Public School, Birchmount Park Collegiate Institute and Centennial Road Junior Public School.

    The man may have also worked at other schools during that time, according to a police news release.

    Toronto resident Bayol Avah was arrested Wednesday. He is charged with five counts of personation to gain advantage.

    Police would not comment further on the investigation out of concern for affecting a future trial.

    Ryan Bird, spokesperson for the TDSB, said the man wasn’t hired by the school board, but rather is alleged to have assumed the identity of an existing employee on the substitute teacher’s list.

    The board is now reviewing how it calls in and hires substitute teachers, Bird said. He would not comment on how the TDSB found out what was going on, or what spurred the discovery of an alleged imposter in their midst.

    “We were made aware of this individual at one of the schools,” Bird said. “When we did become aware of it, Toronto police were notified immediately.”

    Bird declined to comment when asked whether the man arrested knew the substitute teacher who was being impersonated, and referred the question to police.

    Bird could not confirm whether the alleged impostor was getting paid. “I think it’s important to know that this is a very isolated incident. To our recollection this has never happened before at the TDSB,” Bird said.

    Avah is scheduled to appear in court Sept. 9.

  • Crash on bridge closes Toronto-bound lanes of QEW at least until the weekend

    A 34-year-old Brampton man has been charged with impaired driving in connection with a dump truck crash that shut down the Toronto-bound lanes of the Burlington Skyway bridge Thursday — and a former Transportation Ministry official says motorists should expect the bridge to remain closed for “several days” because of the crash.

    A long weekend and whatever extra traffic is brought by Caribana tourists are looming, but Will MacKenzie, who retired from the ministry in 2011 after nearly 20 years, says structural engineers will require time to declare the Toronto-bound bridge lanes ready for traffic again.

    “On a steel bridge like this one, they’ve got to get up there, climb up, take a look around, all very carefully,” he said Thursday night. “There’s a lot of work that has to be done and they’ve got to go and do all their calculations and run it through computers.”

    Astrid Poei, communications co-ordinator for the provincial Ministry of Transportation, confirmed late Thursday that the lanes will be closed “until the weekend.” She couldn’t say which day the bridge is expected to reopen, but the investigation will be complete by Friday afternoon and she’ll have a better idea then.

    The red dump truck, with its box open, struck the overhead truss of the bridge on the QEW around 3:40 p.m. Thursday, causing what OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt described as “significant damage” to the bridge structure and taking down wood scaffolding that is part of a three-year rehabilitation project.

    Another truck — a bread truck — and two cars were also damaged in the rush-hour crash, which a Burlington Fire Department spokesperson said happened “right in the centre of the bridge.”

    The dump truck driver, Sukhvinder Singh Rai, was not hurt. Schmidt said the other truck driver received minor injuries.

    Rai was charged with operating a motor vehicle while impaired and driving with a blood alcohol content exceeding 80 milligrams. He is expected to appear in court in late August.

    The bridge carries up to 80,000 vehicles a day and about $480 million of goods, by official estimates.

    Schmidt couldn’t say how long the westbound lanes of the bridge would be closed. Structural engineers were gathering at the accident scene Thursday night.

    “We don’t have any idea how long this will last,” Schmidt told the Spectator, adding, “It doesn’t look minor.”

    Keith James had a bad feeling about the dump truck that was travelling beside him in the Toronto-bound lanes of the Skyway.

    “The truck passed me and I noticed that his box was up,” the Burlington resident told The Spectator.

    “I thought ‘That doesn’t look right.’ As I saw him approach the bridge, I started backing off because I thought he was not going to make the bridge and then, sure enough, he hit.”

    James said about three or four girders were “ripped off” and came down on the other truck. He walked up to the crash scene, but did not get too close because he saw “stuff” dangling overhead and didn’t know what was going to fall.

    “I couldn’t believe what was happening in front of my eyes,” said James, who was heading home from his job at National Steel Car in Hamilton.

    Anne Marie Aikins, media relations manager with Metrolinx, said GO Transit buses that use that highway were being rerouted and up to 20 minutes travel time was added to those trips.

    “All the train and bus connection will be made at Aldershot rather than Burlington,” she added, and passengers should check GO Transit’s website for any changes.

    If there is an extended closure, it could have an impact on upcoming Civic Holiday weekend festivities, including the huge annual Caribbean Carnival festival in Toronto.

    With files from Kim Brown and Jonathan Forani

Arts & Letters
Trudy
Sunday, 12 August 2007