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Toronto Etiquette Project Targets TTC Commuters, Cellphone Blabbers, Sidewalk Spitters

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TORONTO - Call him Mr. Manners.

A Toronto man is doing his part to try making Canada's most populous city a little more polite.

Christopher Rouleau, 29, has designed colourful cards that can be downloaded from his website, printed and handed out as necessary.

The free cards have boxes that can be ticked off to remind people of the proper etiquette for cellphones, transit use and smoking, among many other things.

"It's meant to be used in good fun and good taste," said Rouleau, a Saskatchewan native who moved to Toronto in 2009.

While he loves his adopted city, Rouleau said he sometimes finds people rude and inconsiderate.

"I think people sometimes just forget that there are other people around them. And it's funny in a city as big as Toronto, as populated as Toronto, that we forget that."

So the graphic designer decided to use his talents to launch the Toronto Etiquette Project as a way to get people thinking and talking about courtesy.

For instance, one card reads: "Dear fellow transit user, just a friendly reminder that you probably shouldn't ... play loud music, eat smelly food, over-perfume, hog seats/poles, barge/hold doors, preach, trim your nails, floss your teeth, leave your litter ... on the TTC."

Other cards deal with pedestrians, cellphone users and general lapses of courtesy and respect such as swearing, spitting and being nasty to elderly or homeless people.

The idea for the project came after Rouleau noticed situations where people didn't seem to realize how rude they were being.

Standing in line at a grocery checkout, for instance, he watched a person gabbing on a cellphone while a cashier was trying to hand over change.

"The person who's helping you here ... they're trying to converse with you. Turn off your cellphone for two seconds," Rouleau said Thursday.

So far, he's heard from people who say the cards are long overdue and there's been interest in having similar cards for other cities. There have also been suggestions for a cycling etiquette card.

But Rouleau said those might not work as well since the card-giver would have to catch the cyclist first.

Not everyone has been receptive, however.

Some online comments take Rouleau to task for coming to Toronto from out West and telling people how to behave.

That's OK, he said, adding he's just trying to remind people to think about kindness and respect.

Rouleau advises the cards be handed out discreetly so as not to embarrass anyone. They aren't meant to be a "violation ticket," he said.

People also should use their good judgment and not put their personal safety at risk just to make a point, he added.

Roleau's etiquette cards can be found on his website, http://torontoetiquetteproject.blogspot.com, where he also reminds everyone to "above all, be kind."

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