For the people against $29.99 Lysol wipes

DoFo disinfects the pandemic racket

Ontario’s premier put all COVID-19 price gougers on notice, but specifically called out Pusateri’s, sighted charging significantly more than the typical cost of Lysol disinfecting wipes. The high-end Toronto grocer apologized, claiming its pricing was “incorrect” due to stress. And so, Doug Ford has become a bigger hero in these times.

Essentially absurd resistance

Peter MacKay continued to argue that choosing a permanent opposition leader was an “essential service” amidst the pandemic—at least until the Conservative leadership race was officially put on pause. Team MacKay kept on fighting the inevitable to the brink via memes: a rotary phone as an insurgent symbol, and an island in California.

Sussexit has forsaken Vancouver Island for a house in Hollywood. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle reportedly picked the U.S. to hunker down in a secluded compound. The Duchess of Sussex will virtually resurface as narrator of a Disney documentary, Elephants.

The stars are simmering down

After the initial blasts of celebrity isolation content, the inanity seems to have waned, or pivoted to reflect corporate interests. The earlier COVID-19 concerns brought us a declaration of independence from Evangeline Lilly. But after laying low for 10 days, the Canadian actress returned to Instagram to say she’s now staying inside:

Quibi still expects to start streaming despite all the complications. The Hollywood Reporter probes a new reality for the $2-billion mobile video platform, whose planned April 6 launch is tethered to Bell Canada. But the screen distractions keep on coming, like TIFF and Crave debuting a Stay-at-Home Cinema series with The Princess Bride.

Finally, seeing trees in a forest

Sakura Watch, created by graphic designer Steven Joniak to track the progress of Toronto’s blooming cherry trees, started the spring with shots of buds as a sign of something to anticipate. But with that section of High Park now officially closed, and John Tory saying the blossoms may have to be televised, it’s entirely up in the air:

COVID-19’s bright side for the housing supply

Airbnbs are falling faster than chairs

Ice Condos, the Toronto building that had the most complaints regarding short-term renters, took a lead in banning Airbnb accommodations amidst the coronavirus crisis. The move was followed at Residences of Maple Leaf Square—which brought us Chair Girl—amidst more downtown condos being offered for longer-term leases now.

Toronto’s vacant infrastructure

Gerry Flahive’s salute to Toronto subway collector booths, in which he once worked for a summer, comes right before the already planned vacancy of the 45 that remain occupied. Ironically, it will happen while the contentious TTC fare-checking system is thrown into chaos. But shuttered city infrastructure is the interim standard.

Sixteen tonnes and what do you get? The federal government is facing fresh fire for the decision to send that much personal protective equipment to China in early February. The global affairs department defends the shipment as a move to stop the global spread of COVID-19. But the face mask shortage in Canada has led to wishing for some kind of donation reciprocation.

More stump-at-home politics

Andrew Scheer participated in the Conservative opposition to COVID-19’s Liberal “power grab.” But his front-running leadership replacement was left to agitate from the sidelines. Peter MacKay continues to push for the race to continue, if not have its June 27 vote moved up virtually, lest a window for a federal campaign be missed:

Burton Cummings is the most honestly self-isolated live music streamer. From his home in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, the Guess Who legend prides himself on giving truly impromptu shut-in performances. By comparison, David Foster and Katharine McPhee provide a window into what married life is like when you’re 35 years apart.

Finally, taking off to nowhere

SCTV had its most glorious days of taping in the isolation of Edmonton. As a result, talk of a public monument to the series in Alberta’s capital commenced long ago. So, while everyone else was social distancing, artist Ritchie Velthuis installed his Great White North piece at 103 Avenue and 103 Street, after sculpting it for more than a year:

Six feet of separation can’t stop a face-off

Politics in the time of a coronavirus

A parliamentary session ending at 5:52 a.m. resulted in the passage of Bill C-13, an emergency legislation to bring $82 billion worth of relief to Canadians affected by COVID-19. The extra time was due to opposition parties pushing back on the Liberal spending authority, in what Conservative MP Scott Reid branded a “Henry VIII Bill,” which he sought to fix.

Lights out for these roommates

Its overnight live feeds going dark was a pretty good clue that Big Brother Canada wasn’t going to claim essential media service status. And so, the reality show ordered all the houseguests to sit in their own homes, and will air two wrap-up episodes that reveal what they plan to do with the $100,000 prize, as the season ends with no winner.

Doug Ford’s daughter reset her masked ambitions. While a pivot from bodybuilder bikinis to “Last Resort” coverings was offline for a time, Krista Haynes returned to explain her motivations for selling non-medical-grade masks, primarily to dissuade the touching of one’s own face. But she’s also hardly alone in making them for the fashion.

Reasons for the layoff season

Three weeks after Vancouver’s Georgia Straight officially changed hands, new owner Media Central dismissed some staffers via email, laying blame on COVID-19. The pandemic was also cited for the 12-week layoff of 250 employees from the Saltwire Network chain in Atlantic Canada, while consolidating some newspaper operations:

CBC News backpedals on its local TV show suspensions. A nightly segment on CBC News Network promises to temporarily appease viewers (and politicians) who saw national coronavirus coverage as an excuse to stop servicing specific markets. Local newscasts will be restored on the main stations over the course of the next week.

Finally, a right honourable ratio

Adrienne Clarkson is 50 years past that time when, as the host of Take 30 on CBC, she discussed a virus from Hong Kong travelling across the planet. Now, she’s advising you to dress for the office each day and to not forget to make your bed. The blowback on those tweets was surely harsher than the former governor general expected to get:

When face masks became the new lingerie

Ontario’s first family shows restraint

Doug Ford’s eldest daughter, Krista Haynes, announced that she was getting into the face-mask fashion business, but deleted the offer soon after her dad laid down the law about which businesses will be considered essential enough to operate in Ontario for the next two weeks. The list includes the LCBO, the Beer Store, and cannabis retailers.

A tense tweet from the top

Emergency efforts to get money to Canadians impacted by COVID-19 brought on a partisan pushback: Liberals were pressured to modify what was assailed as a grab for extraordinary powers over taxes and spending. There’s also growing concern about digital location data being collected by governments in order to fight the pandemic.

Olympics leap into an odd-numbered year. Team Canada’s stand against proceeding with the 2020 games in Tokyo has been heeded with a postponement until 2021. But arguments for delaying the Conservative leadership race aren’t heeded by candidate Peter MacKay, who wants to accelerate the June 27 vote to be held sooner than later.

The stars are no longer out

Chief medical officers have been declared “a new breed of celebrity” by the Canadian Press, as the briefings provide material for memes. But the nation’s most famous self-isolated man won’t be left out: Drake’s account of a negative test for COVID-19 was followed by a walk through his closet:

Your newspaper astro advice has been officially declared bullshit. A note from the Toronto Star concedes that horoscopes contradicting public health advice continue to appear in its syndicated astrological forecasts, which were written weeks ago. (But the newspaper is still publishing them.)

Finally, reality bites everyone

Big Brother Canada has been a strange newsmaker amidst COVID-19: after contestants were belatedly told about the pandemic, Insight Productions issued an official statement about extra precautions for the already quarantined. Crew members were reportedly less confident. Live viewers could only guess everyone was evicted:

Not the cancel culture you signed up for

Life comes at everyone slower now

Hopes of the Tokyo Olympics being pushed back to 2021 were exacerbated by Canada and Australia saying that their participation is contingent upon a postponement. Calls for a delay to the Conservative leadership race are also getting louder. As for reopening all that’s now closed, Quebec is first among the provinces to plan for no sooner than May 1.

The rising price of COVID-19

Bloor-Yorkville Luxury Retail Area Abandoned Amid COVID-19 Pandemic [Photos] 🛍️🦠🏚️ #RetailInsider #Toronto #BloorYorkville #Luxury #covid19 #Abandoned #PandemkL0

The richest retailers in Toronto have conspicuously moved their merchandise out of sight as non-essential retailers were all but forced to close. An infamous holdout, EB Games, was widely named and shamed for hosting lineups. Starbucks and McDonald’s closed to walk-in customers, while supermarkets are providing pay raises.

CBC Television’s newscast suspensions are getting a reprimand. The decision to defer to national CBC News Network coverage over local shows provided a share of critical jabs at the decision and a Friends of Canadian Broadcasting petition asking parliament to intervene. But the CBC is sticking by what it calls a temporary pause.

The new masks of marketing

Doug Ford’s appeal to companies to produce medical items for fighting COVID-19 found a taker in Labatt, which is now producing hand sanitizer—something smaller breweries and distilleries were already doing. Meanwhile, notorious Montreal native Dov Charney is getting goodwill for making a line of masks, even if they fall short of hospital grade:

The FACEMASK3. That’s Los Angeles Apparel. Tatiana is shown here in the FACEMASK3, the SHR408 Half Zip Sherpa Pullover in Creme, the RNF304 Nylon Taffeta Short in Black, and the UNISOCK in White. Shot at our factory in South Central where all of our workers earn living wages #thatslosangeles #losangelesapparel #thatslosangelesapparel #sherpa #pullover #shorts #sport #unisock #madeinusa
March 18, 2020

It’s a feeling that’s very hard to describe. It feels like you’re serving your country.” Kraft Heinz plant manager Danielle Nguyen gave the Financial Post that money quote about how its Montreal plant is responding to a 35 per cent surge in demand for macaroni and cheese. Kraft Dinner and peanut butter are currently being produced 24/7.

Spun gold in tarnished times

While not promising the pandemic soundtrack of the Weeknd, a new album by Gordon Lightfoot started streaming on schedule, just before he was about to go back on tour after recovering from an injury. But the 81-year-old remains eager to explain how his Solo consists of 20-year-old demos, which got lost amidst personal chaos:

Kenny Rogers dead at 81. While his band, the First Edition, was debating whether or not to sound more country than rock ’n’ roll, they headlined the variety show Rollin’ on the River (later just Rollin’) via CTV in Toronto from 1971 to 1973. At least some clips from the series survived, including Rogers introducing Badfinger’s “Baby Blue.”

Finally, a word from Chair Girl

Marcella Zoia was the subject of a new report from the Toronto Sun, which inferred from a friend’s Instagram feed that she was partying the pandemic away, even though Chair Girl’s social media went into self-isolation prior to her still-pending final sentencing. Attention to what Zoia claimed was a throwback video led her to post this:

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