This year has seen Torontonians bond over its baseball team, and become divided over Uber and taxis. Whether you were for Kanye performing at the Pan Am games, or secretly felt bad for Meek Mill, at least one item on this list caught your attention in 2015. In no particular order, here are some of the moments that had Toronto’s tongues wagging.
Liberals Paint the Town Red
In October, the Liberals formed government in the country’s 42nd election. Canadians weren’t expecting the red wave that swept across the nation, but what was even more surprising was the Liberals’ dominance in Toronto, a key battleground for votes in the country. The Liberals managed to win all 25 ridings in Toronto. They not only grabbed seats in areas that typically vote NDP, they even managed to oust formidable opponents like former Eglinton-Lawrence MP, Finance Minister Joe Oliver. The MP for Eglinton-Lawrence is now Marco Mendicino.
Kanye West Performs at the Pan Am Closing Ceremony
Pan Am organizers announced that Kanye West would be performing at the closing ceremony. Naturally, many Torontonians were excited about the rapper’s planned appearance, but there were also people who expressed displeasure about the choice. Their criticism stemmed from West’s controversial actions and the belief that the organizers should choose a Canadian performer. Torontonians were also concerned that taxpayers would foot the bill for the star, but organizers were quick to assure everyone that Live Nation covered the cost of performers, and dealt directly with them. At the end, West threw what seemed to be a faulty microphone and walked off the stage. We still don’t know for sure if that was genuine or planned.
The Installation of the Toronto Sign
Torontonians weren’t completely sure how they felt about the Pan Am games. Public opinion shifted back and forth between anticipation for Toronto’s hosting gig and condemnation of the spending, not to mention frustration about the HOV lanes. One thing city dwellers across the board loved was the installation of the Toronto sign in Nathan Phillips Square. We may have built new stadiums and swimming pools, but those colourful seven letters were the most delightful addition. The sign will remain up and serves as a nice photo background for Toronto natives and tourists alike.
The Taxi-Uber showdown
The taxi industry has been up in arms over Uber’s creep into the city. Uber’s lack of regulation allows it the luxury of cheaper prices while cab drivers have to follow city rules which prevent them from being as competitive as the new ride-sharing service. Uber’s refusal to cease operations until City Council can draft new regulations, and the city’s unwillingness to enforce existing bylaws in the meantime, has resulted in mounting frustration from the taxi industry leading to protests. Proponents of Uber rave about its lower costs, focus on customer satisfaction, and the ability to track your ride. Critics point to its illegal operations and the risk to passengers who would only be able to deal with a driver’s private insurance in the case of an accident.
Trudeau’s Welcoming of Refugees at Pearson Airport
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau personally welcomed Syrian refugees arriving at Pearson. He was joined by Ontario premier, Kathleen Wynne. The move drew international praise and media attention, and served as a refreshing contrast to the hateful and divisive rhetoric south of the border. Trudeau and the Liberals campaigned on the promise of bringing 25,000 refugees to Canada by the end of the year, but they have backtracked on that number saying they will only be able to bring in 10,000 by the end of December.
The City Finds a Father Figure in a Councillor
Councillor Norm Kelly waded into this summer’s feud between Drake and Meek Mill. Meek Mill accused the Toronto rapper of using a ghostwriter. Kelly came to Drizzy’s defence, famously tweeting that Meek Mill was no longer welcome in Toronto and consistently trolling the Philadelphia rapper over the next few weeks with everything from pithy jabs to Simpsons memes. His foray into hip-hop culture has earned him a younger audience that has taken to referring to the 74-year-old politician as “daddy”. Kelly regularly tweets helpful information about city services, important questions like “is white chocolate really chocolate?” and “what kind of monster buys half a pie?” Kelly even won the title of Canada’s Most Valuable Tweeter beating the likes of Justin Bieber and P.K. Subban.
The Blue Jays’ Wild Ride
The Blue Jays whipped the city into a frenzy with their successful season, securing their first playoff berth in 22 years. After months of crazy ticket prices and an increase in commuters sporting Jays merch, the boys in blue ended their season with a 4-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals in the ALCS. Nevertheless, it was still a terrific season and images like Jose Bautista’s triumphant bat flip will remain imprinted on the city’s heart for quite some time.
Opening of the Union Pearson Express Line
In June, the Union Pearson Express train officially opened for business. The line that runs from Union Station to Pearson gets travelers from the downtown core to the airport in 25 minutes. Though decidedly more comfortable than lugging your bags on the subway, many balked at the price: $27.50 or $19 for Presto cardholders. The train also boasts amenities like food services and free WiFi.
First Leaders’ Debate
The Maclean’s National Leaders’ Debate took place in Toronto at City’s downtown studio. It was notable not only for being the first debate of the campaign period, but also for the performance of the leaders. Harper was his usual collected self, working through his talking points. Trudeau, though also quite reliant on repetitive talking points, performed better than expected. The most talked about candidate was Mulcair due to his demeanour that came across at best amusing and at worst, uncomfortable. Whoever suggested he tone down the aggressive tactics he employed in Parliament and adopt a kindly uncle approach clearly miscalculated, leaving viewers a little weirded out by his wide eyes and constant smiling. Elizabeth May was the most knowledgeable and eloquent of the four presenting smart, interesting ideas, but she was shamefully excluded from future debates including the Globe and Mail debate on the economy.
In what was arguably the most cringe-worthy story of 2015, former Conservative candidate Jerry Bance left the Tory party in disgrace after a video of him urinating in a homeowner’s mug surfaced online causing confused Twitter users to click on the trending topic #peegate to figure out what the hell was going on. Bance, a service technician by trade, was caught on hidden camera in a 2012 episode of CBC’s Marketplace casually peeing into a cup and then rinsing it out sans soap. He was responding to a call to replace a leaky sink. As if the situation wasn’t comedic enough already. Bance, who was running in the riding of Scarborough-Rouge Park, released a statement saying the video “does not reflect who I am as a professional or a person.” One Twitter user responded by tweeting, “Sorry Jerry – if you pee in someone else’s mug, that is who you are.”