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Oh deer... Deer caught in headlights at dealership
A deer came barrelling through the showroom of an Atlanta area car dealership after jumping through an open window.
Province: Ontario
Newspaper: Toronto Sun Region: Toronto and GTA
Feed: Weird Date: 2017-01-10 19:18:43



Donald Trump's 'first attempt to ignore the law': his son-in-law
President-elect Donald Trumpintends to name his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as a senior adviser to his White House — a move that would put to the test a 1967 anti-nepotism law and provide a Trump White House already rife with ethical questions a bona fide legal showdown.In fact, this amounts to Trump’s “first attempt to ignore the law,” according to Washington University government ethics expert Kathleen Clark. And she says it has huge implications not just for Kushner, but for the rest of the presidency.Clark speaks about anti-nepotism laws, why they exist, and how Kushner and Trump might get around this particular one. This interview has been edited for clarity and length.A casual observer may wonder why Trump’s son-in-law serving in his administration is a big deal. Why do such anti-nepotism laws exist, and why is nepotism a problem?The U.S. has anti-nepotism laws in the federal government and in lots of state governments, because the practice of hiring relatives undermines public confidence that the government official is actually finding best person for the job. What are the chances that the best person for the job just happens to be a relative, right? In addition to the problem of public confidence, hiring a relative also causes problems within the government organization. It can undermine the morale of government officials. It can cause confusion about what the lines of authority are; in other words, the relative may have a particular title, but many may perceive the relative’s role as even more important than the title would suggest. It may be very difficult to say, ‘That’s a bad idea’ to the president’s son-in-law, in a way it would be easier to say those things to someone whom the president hired but isn’t related to — someone who’s not the father of his grandchild or grandchildren.The anti-nepotism law on the books is supposedly a reaction to the Kennedys. But was there an era in politics in which nepotism was a particularly bad problem? What I can tell you is that the federal statute is by no means unique. Almost all states have anti-nepotism laws. A review of state anti-nepotism laws in 2000 found only seven states lacked such laws. So it’s widely perceived as a problem that needs to be addressed by prohibiting the hiring of relatives.The Trump team and Kushner believe a 1993 appeals court decision gives them a way to make this happen, but you’ve noted the section in question is “dicta.” Can you explain that? The crux of that decision was that the presidential spouse is a de facto officer or employee for purposes of the Federal Advisory Committee Act. And then, after (Judge Laurence) Silberman said that, he added dicta where he said, “We doubt Congress intended to include the White House under the anti-nepotism statute.” Judge (James L.) Buckley on the D.C. Circuit concurred in the judgment, but refused to concur in the opinion, and specifically called out that passage and objected to it. So that part of the opinion, on which I suspect the Trump advisers will be relying, is absolutely dicta, and it’s, as I said, rejected by Judge Buckley.So basically, it’s not the law?Judge Silberman, who has rarely found a limitation on executive power appropriate, who has rarely met an executive power of the president that he hasn’t embraced, used this case to assert that Congress’s anti-nepotism statute shouldn’t apply to the White House — even though the statute names the president. And Judge Buckley said the argument that the anti-nepotism act applies only to departments and not to the White House is a weak one. That’s probably one of the legal arguments the Trump team will rely upon, and it’s a very weak argument.From what you have seen of his efforts, do you think Kushner is going to be able to get around this law? In your question, you asked is Kushner going to be able to get around this. And I want reframe the question: Is Trump going to be able to get around this, because I see this as Trump’s first attempt to ignore the law, act in violation of the law, and he’s going to see if he can get away with it. We have a statute that names the president, that names the son-in-law relationship, that Congress identified a problem and enacted a statute prohibiting a president from hiring a son-in-law. President-elect Trump, in my view, is testing the waters to see if he can get away with violating what I would call this government ethics provision. And whether President-elect Trump gets away with this depends, it seems to me, in part on the public response as well as the congressional response ...We’ll see whether President Trump is required to follow the law or not. And so, I think this is enormously significant, because it’s an initial test of whether — we’ve seen as a candidate, Donald Trump has violated norms, and now we’re going to see whether he also plans to violate the law.a
Province: Ontario
Newspaper: Toronto Star Region: Toronto and GTA
Feed: Letters Date: 2017-01-10 18:57:32



Police arrest suspect in 'lunchtime bandit' bank robberies
A suspect police dubbed the “lunchtime bandit” who allegedly has an appetite for cash has been arrested. Police say the robberies occurred between Nov. 21 and Dec. 17 at banks located along Yonge St. between Lawrence Ave. and Davisville Ave.Four of the five robberies took place at around 12:30 p.m. said police. In each case, police say a man posed as a customer and then passed a note to bank tellers in which he politely demanded money and indicated he was armed with a gun.He would then flee with the cash.“He has a pattern of some sort, maybe he is on lunch break between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m., in that area,” Staff Insp. Mike Earl told media on Dec. 20.The undisguised “preppy punk” was seen on surveillance cameras of a nearby subway station police said. Social media users and critics had plenty to say about the suspect police dubbed the “lunchtime bandit.” “What a cute nickname for someone who is ‘putting the fear of God into bank employees’ ” Twitter user @mcsammer said.“Maybe the lunchtime bandit is leaving a trail of bread crumbs?” said Twitter user @TorontoBruce.Michael Lilly, 20, of Toronto, has been charged with five counts of robbery.He was scheduled to appear in court Tuesday morning.With files from Evelyn Kwong
Province: Ontario
Newspaper: Toronto Star Region: Toronto and GTA
Feed: Letters Date: 2017-01-10 18:57:31



Two men surrender in alleged kidnapping of downtown Toronto woman
Two suspects in an alleged kidnapping and sex trafficking attempt of their 25-year-old female victim in December have surrendered to police.Police say they responded to a call for a kidnapping on Dec. 19 after four men forced their way into the victim’s home in the Lake Shore Blvd. west and Bathurst St. area.The victim was kidnapped by the suspects “who were unknown to her,” Const. Jenifferjit Sidhu of Toronto Police told the Star on TuesdayThe men drove her to various hotels and held her captive in different hotel rooms for more than eight hours in an attempt to force her into the sex trade, according to Sidhu.The suspects also stole her identification, debit and credit cards. After holding the victim captive, the suspects decided to bring the victim back to her home, Sidhu said. The reason behind this decision remains unknown, she said. “I guess they had some sort of heart,” said Sidhu.“The victim did not suffer from any physical injuries but was traumatized by the incident.” After being returned to her home, the victim called police and notified them of the kidnapping. Shortly after the incident, Liam Durham, 26, and Alex Fredericks, 26, both from Toronto, were arrested and faced charges of kidnapping, forcible confinement, robbery, trafficking people and withholding documents.Two suspects remained at large.On Sunday, police say Kirk Hosten-Alexander, 23, surrendered to police. A day later, Rayan Graham, 26, also surrendered.Both men, who are also from Toronto, face charges of kidnapping, forcible confinement, robbery, trafficking people and withholding documents.Police is asking anyone with information to contact police at 416-808-1400 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477).
Province: Ontario
Newspaper: Toronto Star Region: Toronto and GTA
Feed: Letters Date: 2017-01-10 18:57:29



Trump asks leading anti-vaccine advocate to chair commission on 'vaccine safety'
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a vocal vaccination skeptic, says president-elect Donald Trump has asked him to chair a commission on vaccine safety.“President-elect Trump has some doubts about the current vaccine policy, and he has questions about it,” Kennedy said, speaking to reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower on Tuesday. “His opinion doesn’t matter, but the science does matter, and we ought to be reading the science, and we ought to be debating the science.”Kennedy is an advocate for the belief that trace amounts of minerals in vaccines cause autism — a claim for which there is no evidence.Spokesmen for the transition did not immediately provide additional details about the commission.Trump has also voiced doubts about vaccinations, notably expressed support for the theory at a Republican presidential debate in 2015.“You take this little beautiful baby, and you pump . . .” he said of vaccinating children. “We had so many instances, people that work for me, just the other day, 2 years old, a beautiful child, went to have the vaccine and came back and a week later got a tremendous fever, got very, very sick, now is autistic.”The comments were widely denounced by medical professionals who say that there is no evidence that vaccines lead to autism. In fact, the study that popularized the idea has been retracted and discredited as fraudulent. Multiple high-quality studies have found no link between vaccines and autism.Trump has tweeted in the past that he knew a child who developed autism after receiving immunizations. He did not supply evidence for that claim.He also has advocated for children to get smaller doses of vaccines spread out over time.Kennedy, son of former Attorney General and New York Sen. Robert Kennedy, has advocated for parents to be allowed to opt out of vaccinations for their children, arguing that mercury-based additives in vaccines explain the purported link to autism.“They get the shot. That night they have a fever of a hundred and three, they go to sleep, and three months later their brain is gone,” Kennedy said at the premier of an anti-vaccination film screening in California in 2015. “This is a holocaust, what this is doing to our country.”With files from Star wire services
Province: Ontario
Newspaper: Toronto Star Region: Toronto and GTA
Feed: Letters Date: 2017-01-10 18:57:29



OPG identifies most of Ontario as alternate 'location' to bury nuclear waste: Jennifer Wells
Ryden’s Border Store, located about 800 metres from the U.S./Canada border in Grand Portage, Minn., has been run by the Ryden clan since 1947 and still does a brisk business in currency exchange, parcel pickup, beer and T-shirt sales and such.Two years ago Larry Ryden’s daughter, Lori Boomer, took over the place. Everyone calls her Sam. Summertime is super busy with fishermen headed north to the “wild blue yonder,” she says. (Canadian beer is expensive, she notes.) Christmases are always crazy with thousands of parcels needing to be processed for pickup.Here’s a question Ms. Boomer is ill-equipped to handle: if Ontario were to ship 150,000 cubic metres of low level and intermediate level nuclear waste her way, would she have a place to bury it? “Well, one, I’m not going to accept it obviously. Two, my government’s not going to accept it. It’s absurd.”The hunt for an appropriate site for a Deep Geologic Repository (DGR) to house waste from Ontario’s nuclear facilities is not a subject to be taken lightly. Everything from mops to materials close to the reactor core, such as ion exchange resins that bear a “significant amount” of Carbon-14, a radionuclide that has a half life of more than 5,700 years, is slated for permanent burial.And let’s be clear — Ms. Boomer has not been contacted on a whim. A report recently released by OPG cites Ryden’s GPS co-ordinates as one of the plot points in one of two contemplated alternate locations for the DGR. Equally curious, the co-ordinates for the second alternate include a stately two story brick home in Chaplin Estates, near Yonge St. and Davisville Ave.This is worth digging into.On Dec. 28, Ontario Power Generation submitted the results of its federally mandated assignment to present technically and economically feasible alternate locations for the DGR — alternate, that is, to OPG’s preferred strategy to inter the waste from the Bruce, Darlington and Pickering nuclear power plants at Bruce Nuclear near Kincardine.The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency will take until Jan. 16 to determine “whether OPG’s information is complete and that it conforms to the Minister’s information request.” A 30-day public comment period will follow.When the federal Environment Ministry requested the study, 11 months ago, it sought details as to “specific reference to actual locations.” While OPG responded in April that it intended to assess two feasible “geological regions” in the province, “without providing specific reference to actual locations,” it says now that in this document and the main submission it is using specific references to actual locations.The common reader may see the word “location” to mean, as it is conventionally defined, a particular or exact place.OPG has provided something quite different and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna now must decide whether the power giant has come up with an evaluation that is good enough.Let’s remember that the proposed Bruce site will be dug nearly 700 metres deep in limestone host rock a distance of 1.2 km from Lake Huron. The town of Kincardine is on side. Opposition voices on both sides of the border have been loud, particularly as it concerns protecting the Great Lakes.The dominant question: is Bruce the best spot? And a corollary: wasn’t granite — the Canadian Shield in northern Ontario — discussed long ago as potentially the appropriate geology for toxic waste? The issue may pertain not just to low and intermediate waste, but ultimately the disposal of spent fuel rods, a headache for the generations that has yet to be effectively addressed.OPG has defined two alternate locations — one a “crystalline” rock location, which OPG has used interchangeably with granite, and the other a sedimentary rock location. Fourteen GPS co-ordinates, including Ryden’s Border Store and a spot in Lake Erie, have been provided to define the first of these. When mapped, the 14 form the perimeter of this so-called “crystalline alternate location.” Plotted by the Star’s Matthew Cole, the result is a 726,052-square-kilometre land mass covering roughly 73 per cent of the province.OPG makes the accurate assertion that taken to a finer decimal point, which is not noted in the report, the location perimeter moves just a titch this side of Canadian border. So Ryden’s is off the hook. What this should spur in McKenna’s office is an examination of how carefully OPG undertook the assignment and whether the vast result is of much use.Jerry Keto, the OPG vice-president who signed off on the reports, was unavailable for comment. In his stead, OPG spokesperson Kevin Powers responded to the question as to whether OPG has fulfilled its mandate. “We do believe we have met the minister’s expectations,” Powers says. “The minister asked for a study of the environmental effects of two technically and economically feasible alternate locations. We distinguish between sites and locations. A site would be identified through a multiyear, multiphase, consent based exercise, which would be the equivalent of starting over again to find a willing host community. Instead we approached this as we would as if this were the early screening step of a siting process, so what geological locations are technically and economically feasible. But ultimately it will be up to the minister to determine whether or not this has met her expectations.”In making its case for the Bruce site, the report estimates that it could take two decades to secure an alternate location, a process of marrying evidence-based science to a willing host community. It additionally projects increased costs should an alternate site be chosen, including transportation costs, depending on distance, of between $380 million and $1.4 billion.As to the geology, the report raises the possibility that a crystalline location could be more fractured and thereby more permeable than Bruce. This is of particular importance with the intermediate waste, concluding that a “likely” result would be sooner groundwater contact, releasing, by example, Carbon-14 “sooner than expected in sedimentary rock.”Yet a companion report on the potential environmental effects prepared by Golder Associates states that “the deep bedrock zones are expected to exhibit very low permeability.” Just like the Bruce site.Rod McLeod, provincial deputy environment minister in the David Peterson government and the province’s chief Crown prosecutor before that, is a director of SOS Great Lakes, the group that has been loudest in its opposition to the Bruce DGR. “OPG has never answered the question,” McLeod says of the years-long location discussion. He spools all the way back to 2003. “They didn’t answer it then, they didn’t answer it at the first hearing in 2013, they were given a second chance at a new hearing in 2014. They are simply stalling.”Will McKenna ultimately relieve OPG of the traditional requirement to identify, study, analyze and reject alternate options? And if so, on what basis, besides expediency?Rod McLeod’s view is that it’s “absolute madness” to “dig this hole beside the drinking water source for 40 million Canadians and Americans.”OPG insists that, at least according to its own social media analysis, Ontarians aren’t bothered. “The topic is not a popular one, nor is it generating large volumes of curiosity,” the report states, adding that interest in the DGR has “flatlined.”The public now has little more than a month to change that perception, should it care to.[email protected]
Province: Ontario
Newspaper: Toronto Star Region: Toronto and GTA
Feed: Letters Date: 2017-01-10 18:57:26



Ontario French teachers' union second to ink tentative deal to extend contract
The union representing Ontario’s French teachers has become the second in three days to reach a tentative agreement with the province that would extend its current contract by two years — until after the next election.The news Tuesday about a deal with L’Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO) follows a similar tentative agreement struck Saturday between the government and CUPE, which represents 55,000 school support staff.Talks that preceded the current three-year contracts expiring this August were protracted and costly, resulting in work-to-rule job action and some local strikes. The new two-tiered bargaining process took so long that some contracts weren’t even settled until last summer.But if the proposed two-year extensions until 2019 are ratified, that would give the Liberal government a bigger shot at ensuring labour peace through the 2018 election.“We are in the process of confirming additional dates with other groups over the coming weeks to continue our discussions on remedy and the possibility of contract extensions,” Ministry of Education spokesperson Heather Irwin said in an email.“As discussions are ongoing with other unions, and until members have had an opportunity to review and vote, we are unable to provide specifics at this time.”In addition to CUPE and AEFO, the province has reached extension agreements with several locals in the Windsor and Stratford areas representing custodial, maintenance and school support staff, she said.Last fall, the province quietly broached the issue of contract extensions with several teacher unions, including the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation. However, talks with the OSSTF broke off in early November after two days and none have taken place since.At the time, a union bulletin to members said “we do not expect discussions to resume.”But the union representing elementary school teachers does anticipate having discussions with the government about a potential extension, a spokesperson for the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario said Tuesday, adding that “such talks will remain confidential.”Details of the tentative agreements with AEFO and CUPE have not been released.
Province: Ontario
Newspaper: Toronto Star Region: Toronto and GTA
Feed: Letters Date: 2017-01-10 18:57:26



Trudeau defends controversial vacation, calls Aga Khan 'longtime family friend'
OTTAWA—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s looking forward to answering questions from the federal ethics commissioner about his Christmas vacation to a Caribbean island owned by the Aga Khan.The prime minister and his family spent the holiday at the wealthy religious leader’s private retreat on Bell Island in the Bahamas.Conservative leadership candidate and Opposition MP Andrew Scheer has asked ethics commissioner Mary Dawson to look into the trip.Scheer says he wants to know if Dawson thinks it appropriate for the prime minister to accept the hospitality of someone whose foundation receives funds from the Canadian government.The Aga Khan Foundation has been the beneficiary of tens of millions of dollars in government contributions to international development projects.In his first public remarks on the controversy since media reports emerged last week, Trudeau characterizes the trip as a family vacation to spend time with an old family friend, but says he’s happy to discuss it with Dawson.“The Aga Khan has been a longtime family friend,” Trudeau told a news conference. “He was pallbearer at my father’s funeral, he has known me since I was a toddler and this was our family vacation.“As for the conflict of interest commissioner, the ethics commissioner, I look forward to answering any questions she may have.”Trudeau’s office said the prime minister and his family flew in a government jet to Nassau on their way to the island getaway and will reimburse the return airfare costs.The Aga Khan is the hereditary spiritual leader of the world’s approximately 15 million Ismaili Muslims and a renowned philanthropist.In 2009, then-prime minister Stephen Harper made him an honorary citizen of Canada.
Province: Ontario
Newspaper: Toronto Star Region: Toronto and GTA
Feed: Letters Date: 2017-01-10 18:57:25



Obama's farewell speech to be 'bigger than politics' and include Trump voters
WASHINGTON—Now an elder statesman, Barack Obama is returning to Chicago where he launched his unlikely political career to tell Americans not to lose faith in their future, no matter what they think about their next president.Obama’s final speech as president, before thousands who will gather at McCormick Place, is his last chance to try to define what his presidency meant for America. It’s a fitting bookend to what he started eight years ago. It was in Chicago in 2008 that the nation’s first black president declared victory, and where over the years he tried to cultivate his brand of optimism in American politics.“I’ll be thinking back to being a young community organizer, pretty much fresh out of school, and feeling as if my faith in America’s ability to bring about change in our democracy has been vindicated,” Obama said in a White House video previewing his speech.Obama said he’s leaving his eight years in office with two basic lessons: that Americans are fundamentally good, and that change can happen. “The system will respond to ordinary people coming together to try to move the country in a better direction,” he said.The system did respond, in November, to Americans who by and large rejected Obama’s policies by electing Republican Donald Trump.Obama and the Democrats had warned against a Trump presidency in apocalyptic terms. So now Obama’s daunting task — the closing act of his political career — is to explain how his vision of America remains relevant and achievable for Democrats in the Trump era.No stranger to high-stakes speeches, Obama rose to national prominence on the power of his oratory. But this speech is different, White House officials said.Determined not to simply recite a history of the last eight years, Obama directed his team to craft an address that would feel “bigger than politics” and speak to all Americans — including those who voted for Trump.His chief speechwriter, Cody Keenan, started writing it last month while Obama was vacationing in Hawaii, handing him the first draft on the flight home. By late Monday Obama was immersed in a fourth draft, with Keenan expected to stay at the White House all night to help perfect Obama’s final message.In his weekly address Saturday, Obama acknowledged that the chaos of Washington makes it easy to lose sight of the role American citizens play in democracy. He said that while he leaves office with his work unfinished, he believes his administration made the U.S. “a stronger place for the generations that follow ours.”Seeking inspiration, Obama’s speechwriters spent weeks poring over Obama’s other momentous speeches, including his 2004 keynote at the Democratic National Convention and his 2008 speech after losing the New Hampshire primary to Hillary Clinton. They also revisited his 2015 address in Selma, Alabama, that both honoured America’s exceptionalism and acknowledged its painful history on civil rights.Former aides were brought back to consult on the speech, including advisers David Axelrod and Robert Gibbs, and former speechwriter Jon Favreau, said the officials, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the private discussions.The president, first lady Michelle Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden will all travel to Chicago for the speech at McCormick Place, a sprawling convention centre along Lake Michigan. For Obama, it will be his final trip aboard Air Force One as president, though he’ll use the plane to depart Washington for an unspecified destination next week just after Trump is inaugurated.In his hometown of Chicago, the prospect of witnessing Obama’s last presidential address brought thousands out in single-digit temperatures over the weekend in hopes of securing tickets. They showed up well before sunrise and waited in lines that stretched for blocks.Though he and his party were dealt a devastating blow in November’s elections, Obama leaves office as a relatively popular president viewed favourably by 57 per cent of Americans, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll released the day before his speech. That puts Obama on par with former President Bill Clinton’s popularity as he left office.Yet Americans remain deeply divided over Obama’s legacy, with fewer than half saying they’re better off eight years later — or that Obama brought the country together. Two in three Americans said he didn’t keep his promises, though most of those Americans said he tried to, but could not.“He acted very presidential, but he just couldn’t get things done,” said Dale Plath, 86, a retired sales manager from Mason City, Iowa. He said he voted for Obama the first time, voted against him the second, and this year, Plath said: “I voted for change, frankly” — in the form of Trump.Follow Josh Lederman on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/joshledermanAP
Province: Ontario
Newspaper: Toronto Star Region: Toronto and GTA
Feed: Letters Date: 2017-01-10 10:58:59





Late-night hosts mock Trump for calling Meryl Streep 'overrated' on Twitter
As you may have heard, Meryl Streep called out Donald Trump in her Golden Globes acceptance speech on Sunday night for the Cecil B. DeMille Award — and the president-elect responded with a series of tweets calling her “one of the most overrated actresses in Hollywood” and “a Hillary flunky who lost big.”On Monday night, late-night hosts did not miss an opportunity to mercilessly mock Trump for this tweet. Here’s how they handled it:1. Made fun of the idea that Streep, one of Hollywood’s most celebrated actresses, is overrated.Stephen Colbert: “Wait a second, I’m sorry, what? What? What did you just say? Meryl Streep, overrated? Have you seen Sophie’s Choice? Have you seen The French Lieutenant’s Woman? Have you seen that one with the dead people, that she’s even funny in that one? Look, Mr. Trump. You can refuse to release your taxes. You can call to ban an entire religion. You can play footsie with a dictator. But calling Meryl Streep overrated? No! No! Too far!”Seth Meyers: “Overrated? She’s so good, people use her to compliment people in other professions. Like LeBron James is the Meryl Streep of basketball. Or Donald Trump is the Meryl Streep of having thin skin.”James Corden: “Truth is, this was actually good news for Meryl — because ‘most overrated actress in Hollywood’ was literally the only award she hadn’t won yet.”And then there was this exchange on Jimmy Kimmel Live.Ben Affleck: “If there’s one thing truly in the world that we know it’s not true, it’s that Meryl Streep is overrated. If you look up in the encyclopedia ‘great actress,’ it’s a picture of Meryl Streep. It’s like ‘Gandhi, terrible leader!’”Kimmel: “In fairness to Donald Trump though, the nicest insult he can give someone is that they’re overrated, you know, in a way.”Affleck: “I guess. But pick a better shot rather than the person whose photograph actually companies ‘great actress’ in the dictionary.”2. Pointed out that Trump could be focused on more pressing issues.Colbert: “Of course, President-elect Trump was too focused on defeating ISIS and creating jobs to pick a fight with a celebrity. Just kidding! He tweeted, ‘Meryl Streep, one of the most overrated actresses in Hollywood ...’”Corden: “In a tense exchange yesterday, a U.S. navy destroyer fired warning shots at fast-approaching Iranian naval ships. So, of course, our president-elect tweeted about how overrated Meryl Streep is.”Meyers: “Now, whether these tweets are calculated distractions or just the ramblings of an unhinged narcissist, it’s clear Trump would much rather talk about his feud with Meryl Streep than, say, the fact that intelligence officials believe Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign to help Trump win the election.”Kimmel: “This must have been tough for Donald Trump. This must have been a Sophie’s Choice. Because he could do the presidential thing and ignore this. Or — he could go on Twitter.”3. Assumed Trump is a fan of ... other actors.Corden: “I mean, sure, she’s no Scott Baio.”On Conan, during a bit that had a fake phone call between President Obama and Trump:Voice of fake Trump: “You see my tweet about Meryl Streep?”Voice of fake Obama: “Yes, it was ridiculous. She’s a beloved figure and an incredibly talented actress.”Voice of fake Trump: “She’s no Tara Reid.”4. Brought up that Trump tweeted a denial that he made fun of a disabled reporter, which Streep mentioned in her speech.Trevor Noah: “Well, Donald Trump says he didn’t do it, but we have him doing it on tape. I guess we’ll never know the truth ... You know, one thing we’re all going to have to get used to over the next four years is Donald Trump and his people saying that things we saw with our own eyes didn’t happen. And not, like, in a cool way — you know, how gangsters are like, ‘Hey, you didn’t see nothin’, you hear?’ That would be cool because if Trump gave us $50 (U.S.) each every time, we would be, like, ‘Yeah, yeah, we didn’t see anything.’ But he didn’t do that.”Colbert: “This morning, Trump spokeswoman — and future award-winning Meryl Streep role — Kellyanne Conway weighed in on the reporter controversy, by explaining we shouldn’t get hung up on little things like what Donald Trump says and does. (Clip of Conway saying, “You always want to go by what’s come out of his mouth rather than look at what’s in his heart.”) Yes, stop listening to his mouth and stop making fun of what’s in his heart. It would be cruel because his heart is severely disabled. It is medically incapable of empathy.”Meyers: “Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway said today that the media should not focus on what Donald Trump says, and instead report on what is in his heart. Although, really, how much is there to report about chicken grease?”
Province: Ontario
Newspaper: Toronto Star Region: Toronto and GTA
Feed: Letters Date: 2017-01-10 10:58:57



A moo-ving rescue: Stranded cow winched across frozen pond
A cow stranded on ice in western Oregon experienced what might be called a moo-ving rescue.
Province: Ontario
Newspaper: Toronto Sun Region: Toronto and GTA
Feed: Weird Date: 2017-01-10 07:22:33



Tory MP calls for ethics probe of Trudeau's Aga Khan island trip
Conservative leadership candidate Andrew Scheer has asked Parliament’s ethics commissioner to decide whether Justin Trudeau’s secret family vacation to the Aga Khan’s private island was an improper “gift” that constitutes a conflict of interest for the prime minister. In a letter dated Sunday, the Saskatchewan MP pointed out that the Aga Khan’s foundation in Canada has received tens of millions of dollars in international development contracts from the federal government, as well as funds for the organization’s headquarters in Ottawa. Scheer wrote that the family vacation was a “private gift” from the billionaire religious leader — who is listed in charity returns as the foundation’s chairman — that may have breached the Conflict of Interest Act. Fellow Tory leadership hopeful Kellie Leitch also called for an investigation on Twitter. “The prime minister of Canada must be held to the highest standard,” Scheer said in a statement on Monday. “We need to know if it is appropriate for Trudeau to accept gifts from someone whose foundation receives funds from the Government of Canada.” Last week, after days of public pressure to reveal where Trudeau was vacationing, the Prime Minister’s Office admitted he, his family and a few friends had accepted an invitation to stay at the Aga Khan’s private Bell Island in the Bahamas during the holidays. The PMO defended the trip’s secrecy, stating it was necessary to protect the Trudeau family’s privacy. The office also put out a statement describing the Aga Khan, the 80-year-old Ismaili Muslim leader, as a longtime Trudeau family friend.That same day, the PMO announced that Trudeau had cancelled plans to attend the World Economic Forum this month, an annual gathering of global financial elites in Davos, Switzerland. The prime minister will instead embark on a tour over the next three weeks, stopping in at coffee shops and church basements to meet with the public in Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec and the Prairies, Trudeau’s communications director told The Canadian Press. On Monday, Dawson’s office confirmed they had received the request for an investigation from Scheer, who is vying for the Conservative leadership in a crowded field that could soon include celebrity business man Kevin O’Leary. Margot Booth, communications manager for the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, declined to provide more details on when or if an investigation would take place. Since 2004, Aga Khan Foundation Canada has signed 16 international development contracts with Global Affairs. In total, the aid work in African and Asian countries is worth more than $300 million, according to the department’s website — including $46.8 million received in the most recent financial year. Foundation representatives have also met with public officials more than 100 times since 2011, according to the lobbying commissioner’s online registry. Trudeau’s island getaway comes on the heels of a months-long controversy over the Liberal party’s routine cash-for-access fundraisers, where wealthy businesspeople have reportedly paid $1,500 — the legal maximum for a party donation by an individual — to go to an event and meet the prime minister. In early December, Conservative interim leader Rona Ambrose asked both the ethics and lobbying commissioners to investigate whether the fundraisers are illegal. In his own rules delivered to cabinet ministers after the 2015 election, Trudeau spelled out that even the “appearance” of a conflict of interest or preferential access is unacceptable.
Province: Ontario
Newspaper: Toronto Star Region: Toronto and GTA
Feed: Letters Date: 2017-01-10 07:00:58



How big brewers call the shots at Ontario Place: Cohn
Toronto, “This Bud’s for you.”Like it or not, drink it or not, you’ll soon hear it a lot. Not Budweiser’s old commercial jingle, but its commanding branding.Budweiser Stage is taking centre stage at Ontario Place — in place of the old Molson Canadian Amphitheatre.Two decades after Molson made its mark on the concert venue, it has been outbid — outliving its claim to waterfront fame. Too bad for Molson.Tough luck, too, for the rest of us. We must master a new corporate place name as Toronto loses another piece of its history, geography, memory.The winner of this corporate bidding war gains branding rights and bragging rights. The loser is not merely Molson, but all of us — disempowered by powerful corporate interests who can redraw the map of Toronto at will.Naming rights — and wrongs — are nothing new. The powerful have long imposed their dynastic names on important buildings, cast in stone as a quid pro quo for their munificence.The difference: Once upon a time, naming rights were timeless. Today they seem meaningless, because they are time-limited.Are we ready to rename the Eaton Centre, Massey Hall, or Roy Thomson Hall, merely because their namesake’s time has come and gone? Are these destinations not destined to endure?Perennial name changes minimize the importance of place, while magnifying the ambitions and pretensions of the bidder. Which brings us back to Budweiser versus Molson.When the beer fits, it doesn’t feel so bad. Molson had a storied history as a Canadian brewery, bankrolling the Montreal Canadiens and profiting from the nationalistic appeal of its “I Am Canadian” anthem in those corny commercials of decades past.Budweiser, by contrast, is as American as apple pie. For most of the 2016 presidential campaign year, its flagship beer was renamed “America” and its labels redesigned to include patriotic phrases from the Pledge of Allegiance.Both beers wrap themselves in their respective flags, but bear in mind that Budweiser’s ownership is now more Brazilian than American, while Molson is as much American as Canadian since becoming Molson Coors. Americana aside, Budweiser now boasts of being Canada’s best-selling brand, while Molson Canadian is going flat.Is the name change an inevitable sign of the times? Beers come and go, and the names can fizzle out with them. Carling O’Keefe was once a Canadian brewing powerhouse, but after Molson swallowed it up, the O’Keefe Centre marquee on Front St. soon faded to black. No longer a good fit, it flitted about briefly as the Hummingbird Centre before metamorphosing into the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts.Brace yourself for more confusion. If the proudly Canadian Four Seasons hotel chain is one day gobbled up by, say, the Marriott monolith, shall we endure the spectacle of its namesake Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts being transmogrified into the Marriot Music Suites?Good corporate citizens pay good money for naming rights. But if the objective is to convey a sense of corporate social responsibility, why not aspire to more corporate social sensitivity?Name it. Pay for it. And stick with it. Don’t stick it to us every few years by changing your mind with name changes that should remain on public places in perpetuity.After all, we didn’t change Queen’s Park to King’s Park when Queen Victoria died.Consider the SkyDome debacle. Built at public expense, it was rechristened the Rogers Centre — sparking enduring public resentment.As for Ontario Place, it is a public trust. True, the actual concert facility is owned by Live Nation Entertainment, which sealed the deal with Labatt (brewer of Budweiser and subsidiary of foreign-owned Anheuser-Busch InBev).But the land beneath it is leased from us, from Ontarians. When the deal was announced amid much public opprobrium, the provincial government tried to argue that it had nothing to do with it.“The re-naming of the amphitheatre was an independent business decision by Live Nation and Labatt Breweries Canada,” a spokesperson said last week.But it turns out that the government was in on the change. A spokesperson for Live Nation told me Monday they “informed Ontario Place of the new agreement with Labatt Breweries Canada with regards to the venue name changing.”Upon further questioning, a government spokesperson later provided confirmation: “The decision to re-name the venue was subject to the approval of Ontario Place Corporation in its capacity as landlord. Its board of directors, when consulted, acted reasonably and promptly to approve the re-name.”Given the government’s earlier evasions, the old Budweiser jingle has a certain resonance:“This Bud’s for you . . . . You know it isn’t only what you say, it’s what you do.”Despite what it said about the renamed suds at Ontario Place, we now know what our government did. This dud’s for us.Martin Regg Cohn's political column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. [email protected] , Twitter: @reggcohn
Province: Ontario
Newspaper: Toronto Star Region: Toronto and GTA
Feed: Letters Date: 2017-01-10 07:00:53



School fundraising has limited impact on student test scores: Study
School fundraising has sparked much controversy for creating have and have-not schools in Toronto, but has little impact on how students perform academically, says a new report.The paper from the C.D. Howe Institute measures the money raised by elementary schools in the Toronto District School Board against students’ standardized test scores in reading, math and writing administered by the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO).When the authors compared schools of similar backgrounds and grades, they found little difference in test results between students from big fundraisers and those with no capacity to raise extra money.“If those funds really mattered we would expect to see those resources generate better results, and they don’t,” said David Johnson, economics professor at Wilfrid Laurier University and co-author of the think-tank’s report, released Tuesday.In other words, they authors didn’t find an “unfair advantage.” Instead, they cite “a small but statistically significant” relationship between fundraising and test scores, with an extra $100 raised per student associated with a 1.5 percentage point increase in test pass rates by Grade 6.“When comparing similar schools there is only a weak association between funds raised and academic outcomes,” they conclude.The issue of fundraising by parent councils and school communities has been hotly debated, with many groups arguing it is dividing the city into have and have-not schools. While those dollars can’t be spent on essentials like staff, more affluent schools may use them for library books, playgrounds or extra music and art programs, while needy schools are barely able to support badly-needed meal programs.The difference in experiences for those students — and not their test results — is the reason for rising concern over the inequity created by fundraising, says Annie Kidder, executive director of the advocacy and research group People for Education.“I’m not sure anybody has ever said fundraising has an impact on EQAO scores,” she adds.The difference is seen “in overall quality of education rather than a score in one grade in reading, writing or math.”The C.D. Howe report shows that moving a student from a school with no extra funds to a similar school that raises roughly $300 per student would predict an improved test score of between 3 and 4.5 percentage points.While the authors call that minimal, Sean Meagher of Social Planning Toronto says the overall findings reinforce his belief that fundraising does play a significant role.And while the authors say $100 per student has a small impact on academics, Meagher noted that amount translates to an extra computer for every 10 kids, which would be a big deal in many inner-city schools.But Johnson said the research shows that while there is lots of inequity in the system and that fundraising can enrich education, that’s only half the story.He said rather than dwelling only on the disparity between schools, it’s important to look into why there are differences in academic outcomes for kids in schools of similar backgrounds that raise different amounts of money, and the potential causes.
Province: Ontario
Newspaper: Toronto Star Region: Toronto and GTA
Feed: Letters Date: 2017-01-10 07:00:52



Husband's death leads to widow's immigration snafu
Yulia Shifrin was thrilled when her parents received their immigration visa to join her in Canada from Israel after a five-year wait.The elderly couple was given six months to move to Canada but Alim Shifrin, a family doctor, was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and was too sick to travel, leaving his wife, Sofia, in limbo as a “dependant” applicant.When the family asked immigration officials to extend their immigration visa and replace the wife as the principal applicant, they were told no extension could be granted and advised getting in touch with the embassy in Tel Aviv with an update only after the man died.“While we sympathize with your situation, it is not possible to have your mother replace your father as principal applicant,” the Immigration Department said in an email to their daughter in Thornhill last March.“Your parents’ file is now closed and nothing can be done. We suggest that you contact us again after the loss of your father, and we will then review the case.”The processing times for parents’ sponsorship applications are much shorter nowadays anyway, the email added.After the senior Shifrin passed away at the end of August, officials sent the family an email stating that the widow’s file could not be reopened and they must reapply even though the information pertaining to the application would be the same.“As you can imagine, this is devastating news. The cruelty of the situation is mind-boggling. Not only were we repeatedly told to wait patiently for my father to die before anything can be done, we are now talking about a 70-year-old widow, who had been approved, having to go through the whole lengthy sponsorship process again,” said Yulia Shifrin, a researcher at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children.“Nothing changed in the paperwork. Her birth certificate is still the same. The place of work didn’t change because she is retired. The whole issue could’ve been resolved by simply reopening the file, asking my mother to undergo another medical examination and issuing her a new visa.”Immigration officials said visa officers can use their discretion when deciding if the principal applicant who has passed away may be replaced with the individual identified on the application as the accompanying spouse.“In this case, the application had been finalized and the permanent resident visas had already expired at the time of the sponsor’s request to reopen the file and the officer decided that the file would not be reopened,” department spokesperson Rémi Larivière explained in an email.The elderly couple’s permanent resident visa was issued in December 2015 and expired on August 1, 2016, and Shifrin’s father, the principal applicant, died on August 29, at 75. Approved applicants must arrive in Canada while their visa is still valid.Immigration officials do not have statistics on the number of requests they get on replacing a deceased principal applicant with his or her dependant.After the Star inquired into the matter, the Immigration Department contacted the family this month and agreed to process the application on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. However, they must fill out new forms to create a new application with the mother as the applicant. No new application fee is required.Yulia Shifrin said she still does not understand why officials couldn’t just replace her father with her mother as the principal in the first place but insisted on looking into the file only after the man’s death.“I am happy they are finally doing the right thing. They told me nothing could be done, but all they needed was to use some common sense,” said Shifrin. “We still need to file a new application. Immigration said they would do their best to expedite the process, but why more delay in bringing my widowed mother here? It is a waste of time and government resources.”
Province: Ontario
Newspaper: Toronto Star Region: Toronto and GTA
Feed: Letters Date: 2017-01-10 07:00:50



The doctor on a mission to heal medicare
Her sense of social justice was nurtured during a privileged childhood, by parents who stressed the importance of giving back.But Dr. Danielle Martin’s focus on protecting and improving this country’s universal health-care system can be traced to an earlier generation — to her grandfather, who died a broken man for want of it, before she was even born.Martin’s stature as an eloquent advocate for Canadian medicare — which did not exist when her grandfather, Jacques Elie Shilton, had a heart attack in 1952 — has attracted invitations to join political parties of all stripes across Canada. This wooing became particularly ardent following her appearance before a U.S. congressional committee in March 2014 — a bravura turn viewed 1.5 million times on YouTube.Despite the political overtures and her agile oratory — honed as an undergrad debater at Montreal’s McGill University — elected office isn’t on Martin’s charts for the foreseeable future, the 41-year-old says.“I don’t have political ambitions.” Instead, she says, she’ll continue to concentrate on protecting and improving the country’s most valued asset — the health system she went to Washington to defend.“Ninety-two or 94 per cent of Canadians will say medicare is a source of personal pride … an expression of what it means to be a Canadian,” says Martin, a founder and past chair of Canadian Doctors for Medicare.Outside politics, Martin says, she can express herself unhindered by partisan stances.“I have come to a point in my own thinking where I believe I can have a greater impact on health policy by avoiding partisan electoral politics, and instead continuing to engage in non-partisan work and public advocacy.”A new book, Better Now, is Martin’s latest salvo.To be released Jan. 10 by Allen Lane, a division of Penguin Random House Canada, the book is subtitled Six Big Ideas to Improve Health Care for all Canadians. And the author is no Pollyanna about the country’s medicare apparatus.Martin sees a troubling disconnect between the pride Canadians feel in the provision of universal health care and their frustrations with its delivery. “Too often people who believe in the principles of the public health-care system end up backed into this corner of being apologists for every single thing” about it, she says.“And I can’t in good conscience as a physician working in that system defend everything about it.”Martin says Canadians criticizing any aspect of health care are often labelled as traitors to the entire sacrosanct system.“But the question is ‘that’s what we did yesterday, what are we going to do today to make it better?’ ”Martin says her spirited activism was instilled by her mother, Anita Shilton, a dean at Ryerson University, and her father, D’Arcy Martin, a labour activist. “I grew up being taught and therefore believing that everyone should be pitching in and doing what they can to make the world a better place,” she says. “There’s no way to say that that doesn’t sound cheesy, but it’s true.”She also grew up with a tragic story about the desolate health-care landscape that awaited her maternal grandfather when he arrived here from an erupting Egypt in 1951.In the book’s prologue, she recounts how Jacques Elie Shilton, a Renaissance man who spoke seven languages, was physically and financially ruined after his 1952 coronary. Breathing difficulties and crippling circulatory troubles followed. But in the pay-out-of-pocket medical system of the day, he often had to forgo needed drugs and treatments.Chronic health and financial troubles caused his marriage to dissolve, and his need to borrow money for surgery strained broader family relations for generations.“My mother found him dead at four o’clock in the morning on March 9, 1966 … he was 54 years old,” Martin writes. “My mother’s view is that the struggle to deal with the financial hardships — along with health problems — destroyed her family.”Her grandfather’s story gave Martin the health-care focus that’s guided her career — a career that reversed the path taken by most activist physicians.“For most physician leaders and physicians who are more active in system-level issues, the normal trajectory is that you begin” as a doctor, she says. “And (as a doctor) you come to understand and appreciate the importance of high-functioning systems and the social determinants of health and all of those larger issues as a result of one-to-one (patient) interactions.” Martin, instead, dove head first into those big-policy issues after earning a science degree from McGill in 1998, becoming an assistant to Liberal health critic Gerard Kennedy in the Ontario legislature.“I was passionate about improving the health-care system before I turned to medicine as a career,” she says. Martin’s interest in larger issues almost cost her a spot at the University of Western Ontario medical school, where she earned her MD in 2003.“I was sure I’d messed up my (admissions interview) because I went on a bit of a tirade about some systems issues,” she says. “I don’t even remember what they were anymore.”Martin, who is vice-president of medical affairs and health system solutions at Women’s College Hospital, also earned a master’s in public policy from the University of Toronto, where she is now an assistant professor in family and community medicine.After becoming a family physician in 2005, she practised on and off for six years in underserviced areas of northern Ontario. And Martin still combines her advocacy with an active family practice at Women’s College. That practice has earned commendation from colleagues and patients.“She’s a fabulous, fabulous doctor,” says Meg Luxton, a patient of eight years. “She pays attention, she knows how to listen,” says Luxton, a professor in York University’s School of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies.Luxton, who has had four bouts with cancer, says she knew she’d found the right doctor at her initial appointment with Martin “Just about the first question she asked me was ‘Tell me a little bit about your personal life,’ ” Luxton recalls. “She said ‘what do I need to know about you in order to have an understanding of your health context?’ No doctor had ever asked me that before.”Dr. Danyaal Raza, a staff physician at St. Michael’s Hospital, says Martin’s advocacy has inspired many young doctors across the country.“Danielle is an exemplar for many of us who are trying to integrate (health care) advocacy into our own careers,” says Raza, an assistant professor at U of T and a board member of Canadian Doctors for Medicare.“She is a well-respected and national voice on health-care reform,” he says, citing her frequent appearances on CBC and regular column for Chatelaine.Martin says her clinical practice has also put flesh, bones and faces on the medical policy issues she champions, and “connected my brain to my heart.”Martin’s star congressional turn in 2014 came during a committee session concerning the U.S. Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare.Invited to share her views to the Senate health committee as chair of Canadian Doctors for Medicare, Martin calmly defended universal care before a powerful group of politicians who were often and disdainfully dismissive of the concept. Her performance was praised in the media, and by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, the committee’s chair.(Asked sneeringly by one Republican senator if she knew how many Canadians died annually waiting for care under this country’s single-payer insurance system, Martin gave the withering response: “I don’t sir, but I know there are 45,000 in America who die waiting because they don’t have insurance at all.”)Today, Martin says the U.S. president-elect’s vow to dismantle Obamacare will not threaten Canada’s health system nearly as much as his potential trade decisions.“The thing that has the biggest implications on the Canadian health-care system actually isn’t so much what Donald Trump does or doesn’t do with respect to Obamacare,” she says. “It’s what happens with NAFTA.”She says that agreement has provisions built in that protect Canadian medicare from U.S. free-trade challenges.Martin lives in Toronto’s west end with her partner Steven Barrett, a prominent labour lawyer with Toronto’s Goldblatt Partners LLP. She says they lead fairly low-key lives outside their flashy professional careers.“I have a 7-year-old daughter (Isa) who’s obsessed with Harry Potter,” she says. “And I’m a cook, (so there’s) lots of food and wine consumed in my household.”Thus Martin laughs at the “power couple” label that many have ascribed to the pair.“Ha! It does not resonate!” she wrote in an email.“But I asked Steven and he wants to know if there is an application we can submit somewhere.”
Province: Ontario
Newspaper: Toronto Star Region: Toronto and GTA
Feed: Letters Date: 2017-01-09 19:00:40



Up to 10 cm of snow expected from overnight storm
Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement for Tuesday, warning of a storm moving into Toronto overnight that could drop up to 10 cm of snow.As a result, it says, “there may be a significant impact to the Tuesday morning commute” before the snow changes to rain later Tuesday.Environment Canada:24-hour forecastThe storm follows a rise in temperature that saw the city’s extreme cold weather alert called off Monday morning.Monday was only expected to see a high of -3 C, but the temperature is forecast to rise above freezing on Tuesday, peaking at 2 C.Following Tuesday’s snow, Torontonians are in for some warmer weather. Daily highs will stay above 0 C for the rest of the week, hitting 6 C on Thursday with periods of rain. The temperature is expected to dive back down to -7 C on Saturday.With files from Salmaan Farooqui and Vjosa Isai.
Province: Ontario
Newspaper: Toronto Star Region: Toronto and GTA
Feed: Letters Date: 2017-01-09 19:00:39



Ottawa to study safety of 'driverless' cars
OTTAWA–The age of "driverless" vehicles has potential to bring environmental and economic benefits, but the federal government is concerned it could also bring new safety risks for drivers.Transport Canada is looking into ways to evaluate the safety of driver-vehicle interactions with “connected” and “automated” vehicles, as more and more car and truck dashboards feature computers screens.“(Automated vehicle) technologies have the potential to create new possibilities for the transportation sector by improving road safety, providing environmental benefits … and creating new economic opportunities for jobs and investments,” reads a document posted to the federal government’s purchasing website last month.“The potential for these technologies will ultimately depend on the extent to which (driver-vehicle) integration … (accounts) for safety, user needs, abilities and limitations.”The federal government has been working on regulations to address driverless cars for some time. Transport Minister Marc Garneau was briefed on the issue shortly after taking his cabinet post, the Canadian Press reported last year.Documents obtained by the news agency suggest Transport officials are concerned about drivers putting too much faith in their vehicles’ auto-pilot, taking their attention from the road to catch up on emails or read the morning paper. The documents posted last month cite “driver inattention, overload, confusion … (and) complacency” may represent an “increased risk” for drivers and pedestrians. Transport officials want a “systematic, objective and reliable” way of evaluating the safety of driver-vehicle interfaces, such as screens and voice control. Catherine Burns, a professor at the University of Waterloo’s Centre for Automotive Research, said automated vehicle functions need to address a range of users’ abilities and needs — from the tech-savvy teenager to the grandparent who has trouble setting up their DVR. “Right now, (companies) are working on making (automated vehicles) navigate the roads properly, but they’re not actually working very much on how that person tells the car where they want to go,” Burns said in an interview Monday.“It’s about having a computer-car communication, so that the person is aware of how well the car is doing, and the car is also communicating back to the driver saying conditions are changing, I may need you to take over, I need you to pay more attention. Get off your phone!” Transport Canada did not immediately return an interview request on Monday. In February, Garneau asked the Senate to study the issues around driverless cars, such as their impact on privacy, energy, and employment.Ontario became the first province to allow the testing of automated vehicles on public roads in 2015, with a 10-year pilot project to test the vehicles’ functions against Canada’s at-times difficult road and weather conditions. Three groups, including the Centre for Automotive Research, were approved to begin tests on Ontario roads last November. With files from the Canadian Press
Province: Ontario
Newspaper: Toronto Star Region: Toronto and GTA
Feed: Letters Date: 2017-01-09 19:00:38



Alleged drunk drivers may be named and shamed, York Regional Police say
York Regional Police say they’re at their wit’s end and are considering publicly identifying accused impaired drivers to shame them out of the offense.The possible policy change was announced in a tweet on Monday morning that reads, “@yrp 9 more drunk drivers taken off our roads this weekend. One of them was passed out at the wheel in the middle of Clark/Dufferin.”“We’ve been discussing posting the names of all charged with impaired driving,” the force tweeted. “More to follow on that one . . . .”“Despite repeated warnings by police and numerous tragedies on our roadways, drivers are not getting the message,” Const. Andy Pattenden said in a media release.“Impaired driving is the number one criminal cause of death in Canada,” Pattenden said.Toronto Police have a policy of only posting names of people charged with impaired driving if there’s a reason beyond public shaming, Const. Victor Kwong said.“There has to be another part,” Kwong said.That could include when officers are seeking witnesses after an accident, Kwong said.The frustrated comments from York police come after a driver was arrested at 1:40 am on Monday at Clark Ave. and Dufferin St. in Vaughan, slumped over the steering wheel of his car, which had stopped in the middle of the intersection.A strong odor of alcohol was detected on the driver, who was awakened by police and paramedics flashing bright lights and honking an air horn, police said.
Province: Ontario
Newspaper: Toronto Star Region: Toronto and GTA
Feed: Letters Date: 2017-01-09 19:00:37



Province backs -- and will fund -- supervised injection sites in Toronto
The provincial government has agreed to fund supervised injection services at three Toronto sites, a critical step towards their approval and opening.The announcement comes on the same day of a publicized meeting at city hall looking to coordinate a response to an ongoing drug overdose crisis in the city.It also follows pressure from city advocates on Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins, whose letter of support and commitment to funding had been holding up an application to the federal government.“The only way we’re going to effectively confront Toronto’s overdose crisis is with support of all levels of government,” said Councillor Joe Cressy, who chairs the city’s drug strategy implementation panel and has led the push at city hall for supervised injection services.“The news that the provincial government will in fact fund our supervised injection services is welcome and necessary.”Supervised injections services allow drug users to bring illicit drugs into an approved facility and be monitored by a nurse for infection and overdose, what was pioneered as standalone sites in Vancouver.The city has applied to build three sites within existing community health centres in neighbourhoods where injection drug use is most prevalent: The Toronto Public Health-operated The Works at Yonge and Dundas streets; the Queen West Central Toronto Community Health Centre on Bathurst St.; and the South Riverdale Community Health Centre near Carlaw Ave. Research specific to Toronto has shown such sites would effectively serve existing clients of the health centres and would prevent drug use in public areas — alleys, coffee shop bathrooms and parks — that are today home to the hazards of discarded needles.A statement from Hoskins’ office said he spoke with Mayor John Tory on Monday morning to both confirm his support and commit to fund the city’s plan. The city earlier estimated a requirement of $1.8 million for annual operating expenses as well as $350,000 in one-time funds for needed renovations.“As minister of health and as a physician, I support evidence-based policy making and any initiative around making our communities safer,” the statement from Hoskins reads. “I believe that community-supported and community-run supervised injection services will not only save lives, but also must be part of a larger strategy for harm reduction and supports for people struggling with addiction.”The statement said the province would be working to develop a provincial framework to respond to safe injection site proposals from Toronto, Ottawa and other municipalities. Those details are still pending, the statement said.In an open letter sent to Premier Kathleen Wynne and copied to Hoskins earlier Monday morning, Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath urged funding for the Toronto sites."I trust you will agree that this is a small price to pay to support a proven public health initiative that will save lives and reduce health system costs," she wrote. "It should not take six months, in the face of a national overdose crisis, for the provincial government to approve funding and issue letters of support for the City of Toronto's supervised injection sites."Following a plan led by Toronto Public Health, Toronto council backed the three sites in a near-unanimous vote in July. Under the previous Conservative government in Ottawa, legislation requires exemption be granted to any sites wishing to operate under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, but only after an onerous application process which has been challenged by health and community advocates. The Liberal government has promised to bring forward new legislation that would streamline the process.Under the existing requirements, a funding plan and letter of support from the province was previously missing from the Toronto applications, preventing federal sign-off on the plan.As the number of overdose deaths in Toronto continues to climb — reaching a record high 258 deaths in 2014 — Toronto Public Health had hoped to have the sites up and running this year if funding was secured.Toronto would be the second Canadian city — after Vancouver — and the first in Ontario to open such sites.With files from David Rider
Province: Ontario
Newspaper: Toronto Star Region: Toronto and GTA
Feed: Letters Date: 2017-01-09 19:00:34



Marineland charged with six new counts of animal cruelty
Ontario’s animal welfare agency announced six new animal cruelty and neglect charges against Marineland on Monday as part of a continuing investigation into the care of land mammals at the theme park.The charges include one count each for permitting elk, red deer and fallow deer to be in distress. They also include one count each for failing to provide prescribed standards of care.“Essentially, animals being in distress can relate to not being provided with adequate care: food, water, shelter, necessary veterinary care in some cases,” said Jennifer Bluhm, deputy chief of the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.Bluhm said the new charges stem from the same investigation that resulted in the Niagara Falls, Ont. attraction being charged with five counts of animal cruelty in late November. Those charges were related to the treatment of peacocks, guinea hens and black bears.“This was a complex investigation and as our investigation proceeded and further evidence was gathered, it was appropriate to lay additional charges at this time,” she said.Marineland said in a statement Monday the OSPCA had laid its “strangest charges yet.”“The OSPCA charges fail to identify a specific animal they believe to be in distress or not receiving an appropriate level of care 61 days ago at our park, and failed to identify a specific animal in their charges today,” it stated.The company said it believes the OSPCA “is continuing a publicity campaign at the behest of a band of discredited activists with little relevant expertise or knowledge.” Marineland accused the association of trying “to avoid further embarrassment related to . . . the OSPCA’s perceived failure to protect animals.”Bluhm said the OSPCA began its investigation into the care of land mammals at Marineland on Nov. 10 after receiving information from a concerned member of the public. The association is not currently investigating the treatment of any marine mammals at theme park, she said.“The fact that we’ve laid an additional six counts as part of this investigation is a good example of the thoroughness that we’ve put into this investigation,” said Bluhm.The animals related to the new charges remain in Marineland’s care, according to Bluhm. She said the OSPCA can only remove animals under certain circumstances which were not present in this instance, such as when they are found to be in immediate distress, or upon the recommendation of a veterinarian.Adam Wilson, director of investigations at Last Chance for Animals, a vocal critic of Marineland, said the new charges are consistent with complaints the group brought forward to the OSPCA. “I think this new set of cruelty charges just again reinforces the fact that Marineland has no business breeding and keeping animals,” he said. “The real end result of all of these charges should be that Marineland faces a lifetime ban on the ownership of animals.”Marineland has denied previous allegations of animal cruelty, saying they came from an employee who was fired for poor performance and inappropriate behaviour.The company said it looked forward defending itself in court. All 11 counts will be part of Marineland’s next appearance on Jan. 26 in Niagara Falls.With files from Hina Alam and The Canadian PressMORE ON THESTAR.COMMarineland charged with animal crueltyMarineland animals suffering, former staffers say
Province: Ontario
Newspaper: Toronto Star Region: Toronto and GTA
Feed: Letters Date: 2017-01-09 19:00:33



Toronto man allowed to keep big ship-shaped treehouse
It turns out you can fight city hall, as long as you are trying to protect an elaborate ship-shaped treehouse in your Toronto backyard.Last June, a city committee ordered contractor John Alpeza to tear down the hulking $30,000 cedar playhouse he gradually built in his Swansea yard, over six years, for his boys Kristian and Mateas, who are now aged 11 and 9 respectively.A neighbour had complained it blocked her sunlight and infringed on her privacy. The local committee of adjustment agreed, saying the treetop ship, complete with hammock, hull, ship’s wheel and captain’s bell, is too tall and covers more of the lot than is allowed by Toronto’s zoning and bylaw restrictions.Tear it down, the city ordered, reducing one of Alpeza’s sons to tears at the end of a heated meeting.But Alpeza refused to see his lofty cedar dream sink, so he appealed the city order to the Ontario Municipal Board, a provincial planning appeal body that is more accustomed to disputes over plans for massive condo developments.And he won.Last Thursday, at the end of a mediation hearing at the OMB, Alpeza, lawyers for the city and his neighbour agreed to a compromise.Alpeza will move the treehouse a little further from the property line, lower it a little less than a metre and build a two-metre fence between the structure and his neighbour’s yard.“We’re very excited and happy that we get to keep the treehouse,” Alpeza said Monday, estimating it cost him an extra $15,000 in legal fees and will cost another $10,000 for the improvements he has to make by May.That will bring the total cost of the playhouse to about $55,000, but the owner says it is worth every penny.“When we came home and told my boys (aged 11 and 9) they were jumping up and down screaming they were so happy and excited. I wish we had it on video.”Alpeza and the neighbour had been to the OMB before, in 2008. That time he was prevented from building a third-storey addition on his home.His city councillor, Sarah Doucette, said she was pleased with the treehouse outcome, although she would have liked the boat to float a little lower.“I think it’s a fair compromise,” said Doucette (Ward 13 Parkdale-High Park).“I don’t think it sets a precedent. Normally people ask what bylaws allow them to build, and in this case a treehouse went beyond that. But people won’t have to (fight city hall) if they build within the guidelines.”
Province: Ontario
Newspaper: Toronto Star Region: Toronto and GTA
Feed: Letters Date: 2017-01-09 19:00:33



TTC blames service cuts on streetcar delays
The TTC says a shortage of vehicles has forced it to cut service on more than a dozen bus routes during the busiest time of day. Starting Monday, the transit agency has reduced morning rush hour service on 13 routes. The changes mean that buses will come less frequently, with customers on most of the affected lines facing wait times one or two minutes longer than usual. One route, the 51 Leslie, will also have service cut back during the afternoon rush hour.TTC spokesperson Brad Ross said the root cause of the service reductions is the delayed delivery of new streetcars from rail manufacturer Bombardier. He said that the shortage of new streetcars, combined with the need to run buses on portions of streetcar routes due to construction projects, has overstretched the bus fleet. “We simply don’t have the number of buses that we need,” he said. According to Ross, the TTC trimmed service on routes where doing so would have the least impact. “Our customers will notice minimal difference, if any,” he said. He conceded that less frequent service could mean some of the routes will exceed the TTC’s crowding standards, however.Some of the routes that will see less service are among the TTC’s busiest, including the 32 Eglinton West and 85 Sheppard East. The Eglinton West line will be served by about 27 bus trips an hour instead of about 28, while the Sheppard East will have its headways increased by one to two minutes. Jessica Bell, executive director of the TTCriders advocacy group, charged that the transit agency could have avoided the service cuts if it had moved more quickly to buy new buses. “The TTC’s capital budget has a chronic shortfall. If it was properly funded by the city, they should have and they could have bought more buses to deal with this ongoing issue with Bombardier. They’ve known about this issue for a long time,” she said.Bombardier delivered 30 new streetcars by the end of 2016, meeting a revised target that the company set after it repeatedly missed production deadlines. Under the terms of the original order, the company was to have delivered more than 100 cars by now. The TTC has 200 older model streetcars, but due to maintenance requirements and the need to hold some back as spares, only about 170 enter service on a daily basis. While it waits for the Bombardier vehicles, the agency has launched an expensive maintenance program to keep the older cars on the road for longer.Last month Mayor John Tory and TTC chair Councillor Josh Colle penned a letter to Bombardier warning of further legal action against the company and complaining that “we are no longer able to sustain our current service levels as a result” of the delays. Benoît Brossoit, the president of Bombardier Transportation, Americas Region wrote back acknowledging that the company “may have failed to meet your expectations.” But he said the company had doubled production and vowed to meet the original deadline of providing all 204 vehicles by 2019.The transit commission’s fleet of buses consists of close to 2,000 vehicles, which operate on about 140 routes. Last May the TTC board approved the $65-million purchase of 97 new 40-foot buses from Nova Bus, a Quebec-based subsidiary of the Volvo Group.The vehicles are scheduled to start arriving in July, but Ross said the service cuts introduced Monday will likely have to remain in place until the fall. That’s because the TTC will need additional buses to cope with disruptions caused by summer construction. Monday’s service cuts affect the following routes: 6 Bay 14 Glencairn16 McCowan32 Eglinton West38 Highland Creek46 Martin Grove51 Leslie85 Sheppard East102 Markham Rd.112 West Mall 123 Shorncliffe129 McCowan North190 Scarborough Rocket
Province: Ontario
Newspaper: Toronto Star Region: Toronto and GTA
Feed: Letters Date: 2017-01-09 19:00:32



Video: Heavy rain pummels the West Coast
Another half foot of rain is expected to pummel northern California and the Sierra Nevada mountains through early Tuesday. Colette Luke reports.
Province: Ontario
Newspaper: The Global and Mail Region: Toronto and GTA
Feed: Top Video stories Date: 2017-01-09 12:03:37



Moo-ve over: Michigan city takes another's ice cream record
Moo-ve over: One Michigan city has officially claimed another's ice cream world record.
Province: Ontario
Newspaper: Toronto Sun Region: Toronto and GTA
Feed: Weird Date: 2017-01-09 11:27:58




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