Canada Newswatch

The CKA Canada Newswatch is a companion to our in-house Canada News system.
The Newswatch is a collection of various Canadian news feeds in one convenient location.


CKA members can use the Canada newswatch to promote stories from the newswatch to the CKA News Links.

Click the Submit News-link to CKA News button to quickly submit news.

Daily Canada Newswatch

Submit News to CKA News All Tyee?s Email Editions Going Mobile Responsive? How Refreshing! (in Tyee News)
Sat, 29 Aug 2015 07:10:00Z
Subscribe to our phone-friendly daily, weekly or national version today.
Submit News to CKA News Review: New Pornographers light up the PNE
Sat, 29 Aug 2015 06:49:34 Z
No matter who headlines the PNE Summer Night Concerts, your preferred opening act should always be the SuperDogs.
Submit News to CKA News VPD warns against 'evil spirit scam'
Sat, 29 Aug 2015 06:49:26 Z
It is ill advised to hand your valuables to a stranger, even when you are being followed by an evil spirit.
Submit News to CKA News Aboriginal perspectives help shape new B.C. school curriculum
Sat, 29 Aug 2015 05:37:42 Z
With the new curriculum comes one notable and significant shift: There is a new focus on aboriginal learning. Not only will students in B.C. be learning about the history of residential schools, starting in Grade 5, but they will also have aboriginal perspectives embedded into all parts of the curriculum in what the government hopes will be a meaningful and authentic manner.
Submit News to CKA News Ambulance service must communicate better: Port Coquitlam fire chief
Sat, 29 Aug 2015 04:48:01 Z
An incident in which the family of a Port Coquitlam toddler with a head injury had to drive him to hospital after an ambulance failed to arrive is far from an unusual occurrence, the city’s fire chief said Friday.
Submit News to CKA News Chaos on the coast: How drought and fire ravaged North America?s West Coast
Sat, 29 Aug 2015 04:30:32 +0000
The recipe for drought is simple: mix extended hot weather with a lack of precipitation. Add in a carelessly tossed cigarette or a flash of lightning and you get wildfires
Submit News to CKA News Former Ontario PC leadership candidate Christine Elliott resigns as MPP for Whitby-Oshawa
Sat, 29 Aug 2015 03:38:26 Z
A statement from Elliott says her decision to resign, which is effective immediately, was not easy
Submit News to CKA News Residents told to leave home as wildfire near Oliver flares up
Sat, 29 Aug 2015 03:26:56 Z
The Testalinden fire near Oliver shifted direction Friday, forcing residents from 27 homes and properties to evacuate.
Submit News to CKA News Health clinics reach out to aboriginal women
Sat, 29 Aug 2015 02:54:20 Z
First Nations women facing health issues in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside now have a new, unconventional option for help: traditional Chinese medicine. Tzu Chi Canada, the local branch of the Buddhist non-profit based in Taiwan, opened the first clinic focusing on the First Nations community about two years ago. Officials this week said the response has been so positive that two more Downtown Eastside locations are now operating, and doctors with the program will visit the Sumas First Nation in Abbotsford next month to provide community health consultations.
Submit News to CKA News Beetle pest found in B.C. bee hive
Sat, 29 Aug 2015 02:54:15 Z
An invasive pest that has caused economic damage to commercial beekeepers in the U.S. has been discovered in a single hive in Abbotsford. An adult male small hive beetle, a sub-Saharan insect, was found in a honey bee colony close to the U.S. border. As a result, the provincial apiculture division said Friday it will begin inspections next week of every hive within a five kilometre radius of the infected hive, and then expand the inspection area to other beekeepers along the border.
Submit News to CKA News THIS WEEK IN HISTORY: John Tanner retiring from H.R. MacMillan Space Centre after almost half a century
Sat, 29 Aug 2015 02:53:37 Z
Monday will be John Tanner’s last show at the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, after 47 years. “I did the very first show in 1968,” recounts Tanner, 72. “It was called the Way of All Stars.”
Submit News to CKA News Courts deny First Nations' Site C stop-work order and dismiss judicial review
Sat, 29 Aug 2015 02:53:26 Z
VANCOUVER - Two courts have rejected attempts by a pair of British Columbia First Nations to halt the construction of the Site C hydroelectric dam.
Submit News to CKA News Rain won?t slow riders on a mission to conquer cancer
Sat, 29 Aug 2015 02:52:54 Z
There won’t be a kilometre in the 240 he will pedal this weekend to Seattle and back that Paul Balfour won’t be thinking of his late wife, Pam, and his son, Alex. Pam died in 2005 after a six-year struggle against brain cancer. Five years later, Alex — 12 at the time — was diagnosed with leukemia.
Submit News to CKA News Regulator orders Nexen Energy to suspend operation of 95 pipelines in Alberta
Fri, 28 Aug 2015 22:41:00 -0400
Alberta's energy regulator has ordered Nexen Energy to immediately cease operations of 95 pipelines in northeastern Alberta.
Submit News to CKA News Andrew Coyne: Spend all that money, Mr. Trudeau? Why and on what?
Sat, 29 Aug 2015 02:11:16 Z
There may be a case for fiscal stimulus in a recession. There is none whatever for pulling a lever marked ‘deficit’ any time the economy is growing a little slower than we might like
Submit News to CKA News Andrew Coyne: Spend all that money, Mr. Trudeau? Why and on what?
Sat, 29 Aug 2015 02:11:15 +0000
There may be a case for fiscal stimulus in a recession. There is none whatever for pulling a lever marked ?deficit? any time the economy is growing a little slower than we might like
Submit News to CKA News It seems anything is possible for Stroman the optimist: DiManno
Fri, 28 Aug 2015 22:10:58 EDT

“Morning World!”

Marcus Stroman rolls out of bed every morning and bounces into his life, at least six inches off the ground.

(Which would still make him, oh, 5-foot-8½, as per official stats data.)

The perpetual, seemingly cockeyed optimist — except there’s nothing cockeyed or cuckoo about it anymore — threw 51 pitches in a simulated game on Friday afternoon, as he continues his astonishingly quick-step rehab from ACL surgery on his left knee in mid-March.

Envision the stud of the starting rotation, who was put out to pasture for a year to recover from the ghastly consequences of a lower hinge blown out during a fielding drill for pitchers. Pop went the penciled-in Opening Day moundsman.

If there were tears and crushed spirits, Stroman allowed himself only moments of dejection. Since then — as reflected on his ultra-active Twitter account, a jibber-jabber stream of consciousness tattooed with exclamation marks — there has been an irrepressible high-spiritedness.

“Doing everything they said I couldn’t. With a smile and a chip on my shoulder.”

Unwavering self-confidence is encrypted in the guy’s DNA.

But it now seems Stroman merely got to the inevitable ta-da moment ahead of everyone else. A couple of hours after his ersatz effort in Dunedin (all fine, according to initial dispatches), Blue Jays manager John Gibbons startled a roomful of scribes by coming this close to designating the 24-year-old righty part of his September starting rotation.

“I think the way he’s going now, he might come up and start for us, get a start or two, see how he’s doing.’’

Somewhere in Florida, Stroman is jumping over the moon.

There are no plans, continued the skipper, to expand the starter cadre to a six-pack, with Drew Hutchison now restored to the parent club following his temporary demotion to Buffalo — due to “circumstances,” as Gibbons reminded, which is euphemism-speak for keeping the away-games pushover off Toronto’s recent road swing, and his hill colleagues accommodated around multiple off-days.

“Beyond excited to be on my starting routine. Physically and mentally strong. Progressing perfectly!”

Gibbons marvelled: “At first I didn’t think he was going to be back, period. Then he was starting to look like, well, he would be back. I thought, he’s probably going to come out of the pen.”

That would be the more cautious scenario. Except Stroman has forced the club to consider the more audacious alternative — assuming no setbacks in a scheduled Class-A Lansing assignment on Wednesday, a real game, followed by a Sept. 7 start for Triple-A Buffalo.

“So he’ll get two starts. If things go well, he’d come up here to start, I would think.”

A pat-self-on-back told-you-so for Stroman. He only tossed off the mound for the first time since early spring training on Aug. 5, for goodness sake, and saw his first live hitters on Aug. 20.

Spot starts seem to be what Gibbons is considering, which wouldn’t bump Hutchison out of the rotation; rather, any of the other starters could be given a day off down the stretch with Stroman inserted once or twice. Or, perchance, something bolder than that.

“I might give everybody else a breather. I mean, if he comes back and he’s really good, he could turn some things upside-down, I guess you could say.”

It’s an intriguing situation — Stroman the seductive starter — for the suddenly pitching-rich Jays. The creative mind jumps ahead to what the club might do, moving around these mound pieces in a post-season, determining who would go into the bullpen and who might possibly lose their role if the rotation shrinks. Could there be an odd-man-out starter or a reversal — say, returning Marco Estrada to the relief corps? Do they want a knuckleballer starting in the playoffs? Last night, with the Tigers in town to begin a weekend series, R.A. Dickey surrendered a first-inning homer to Ian Kinsler and departed in the seventh with a 5-3 lead — getting his sixth win in eight starts — and thus it remained, Toronto long-bombing again.

Whoa, whoa, whoa, Gibbons interjected.

“He hasn’t made a start yet, even in the minor leagues.” Still, conceding: “Alex was always wanting me to try to start him, where I thought he was going to be in the bullpen, realistically. But, wrong again,”

That’s more definitive than Alex Anthopoulos has been with the media in recent days about whither-Stroman. “We haven’t got that far,” the GM said the other day about Stroman’s starter prospects for September. “Right now he’s been stretched out to start because at least it gives us more options, more flexibility. We’re not committing to anything because we just don’t know how his stuff’s going to be, how his command’s going to be.”

The plan: Upping the pitch-count to 70-75 by the time the Bisons game rolls around in Pawtucket. “He has to continue to pass every test.”

Yes, but if he does pass those tests, and he spot-starts, and nothing feels awry — then, might he be in the playoff starting picture?

“I didn’t know we were in the post-season yet,” Gibbons observed dryly.

“I don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves. We’ve got a whole month left. It’s pretty cool it’s even thought that (Stroman) could make it back, but he’s doing it. If he comes back and his knee’s healthy . . . his arm was never an issue, everybody knows how good his arm is, what kind of a pitcher he is.

“Might end up being a difference-maker down the stretch where we need it.”

Just remember, Stroman is precious chattel for the Jays. “He’s a priority around here. He was really coming into being our No. 1 guy this year before he got hurt. You still have to keep in mind, it’s really been a year since he faced hitters in the big leagues. It’s not that easy.”

But maybe, might he be a starter, you know (whisper here), in the unmentionables?

“Well, yeah, if great things happen, yeah, I could see him doing that. If there’s anybody who could do that, it’s him.”

“W for the boys. Night night!”

Submit News to CKA News Christine Elliott quits as Progressive Conservative MPP - Toronto Star
Sat, 29 Aug 2015 01:57:57 GMT

Toronto Star

Christine Elliott quits as Progressive Conservative MPP
Toronto Star
Christine Elliott, runner-up to Patrick Brown in the May 9 Progressive Conservative leadership election, has quit provincial politics. ?Today, I am resigning as the MPP for Whitby-Oshawa, effective immediately,? Elliott said in a 123-word statement ...
Ontario MPP Christine Elliott resignsDaily Xtra
Deputy Ontario PC leader Christine Elliott resigns as MPPThe Globe and Mail

all 39 news articles »
Submit News to CKA News Promises, promises: Breaking down the pledge?s Canada?s political parties have made so far
Sat, 29 Aug 2015 01:57:38 Z
The federal election is more than six weeks away, but the major parties have already rolled out dozens of promises. We review the highlights and crunch the numbers
Submit News to CKA News Promises, promises: Breaking down the pledge?s Canada?s political parties have made so far
Sat, 29 Aug 2015 01:57:38 +0000
The federal election is more than six weeks away, but the major parties have already rolled out dozens of promises. We review the highlights and crunch the numbers
Submit News to CKA News Union says suspended 'Harperman' scientist has same charter rights as all Canadians
Sat, 29 Aug 2015 01:56:55 Z
The controversial video performance of Harperman trended on Twitter and gained thousands of plays on YouTube on Friday.
Submit News to CKA News Vehicles fall into Victoria harbour: Ministry of Environment
Fri, 28 Aug 2015 21:40:34 -0400

.Vehicles fall into Victoria harbour: Ministry of Environment
Submit News to CKA News Attempts by Ashley Madison to sell company failed before hack
Fri, 28 Aug 2015 21:30:06 -0400
Avid Life, the owner of the adultery website, courted prospective buyers for Ashley Madison to no avail and struggled to raise funds for several years leading up to data release
Submit News to CKA News Air Canada not honouring 'glitch' that sold flight packages for 90% off
Fri, 28 Aug 2015 21:30:00 -0400
It seemed like a chance to travel the world at bargain prices, but Air Canada?s offer of a 10-pack of flight passes for $800 was too good to be true.
Submit News to CKA News Vancouver starts reviewing 176 applications for pot shops - CBC.ca
Sat, 29 Aug 2015 01:20:24 GMT

CBC.ca

Vancouver starts reviewing 176 applications for pot shops
CBC.ca
The City of Vancouver will let 176 applicants for pot shops know within two months whether they need to close their businesses, or if they can proceed to the next stage to qualify for a licence. The city introduced zoning and business licence ...
Almost 200 applications filed for Vancouver's pot dispensary licenceThe Globe and Mail
Many apply but few will get license to sell potVancouver Sun
City of Vancouver flooded with applications to set up medical pot dispensariesNews1130
Vancouver Courier -The Province -Straight.com (blog)
all 11 news articles »
Submit News to CKA News Harper uses speech to Muslim conference to stress fight against terror - Toronto Star
Sat, 29 Aug 2015 01:17:59 GMT

Toronto Star

Harper uses speech to Muslim conference to stress fight against terror
Toronto Star
MISSISSAUGA?Stephen Harper's speech to a large Muslim conference on Friday was billed as prime ministerial, not political, but he still managed to squeeze in some Conservative messaging on Canada's fight against terrorism. The Conservative leader did ...
Harper to trumpet economic report in speechSimcoe.com
Thousands expected to gather for country's largest Islamic conventionCTV News
Off trail, Harper still gets in partisan shotsHamilton Spectator

all 21 news articles »
Submit News to CKA News NDP?s Tom Mulcair too right, says left wing of his own party
Sat, 29 Aug 2015 01:17:26 +0000
Barry Weisleder stresses he wants to see Mulcair win the election, preferably with a majority, but his group wants to ?shape the agenda? and push the NDP to the left
Submit News to CKA News Kenney 'not made aware' of Iraq air strike allegations against Canadian ... - The Globe and Mail
Sat, 29 Aug 2015 01:16:17 GMT

The Globe and Mail

Kenney 'not made aware' of Iraq air strike allegations against Canadian ...
The Globe and Mail
Defence Minister Jason Kenney says the military never told him Canadian fighter pilots had been accused of killing civilians when they bombed an Islamic State fighting position on Jan. 21. It's a startling admission from the Conservative minister ...
Canadian Warplanes Accused of Killing Iraqi CiviliansAntiwar.com
Canadian fighter pilots accused of killing civilians, report saysHamilton Spectator
Canadian fighter pilots accused of killing civilians: Report 0London Free Press
MetroNews Canada
all 22 news articles »
Submit News to CKA News Environment Canada scientist placed on leave over 'Harperman' protest song
Fri, 28 Aug 2015 21:03:00 -0400
An Environment Canada researcher has been placed on administrative leave with pay, after he wrote and performed a protest song against Conservative Leader Stephen Harper.
Submit News to CKA News North Vancouver high school teacher charged with sexual assault, suspended without pay
Sat, 29 Aug 2015 00:54:17 Z
A 39-year-old high school teacher has been charged with sexually exploiting one of his female students in North Vancouver.RCMP say Chad Smith of Langley was arrested on Thursday.
Submit News to CKA News Rights group decries federal survey on doctor-assisted death
Fri, 28 Aug 2015 20:53:33 -0400
Online questionnaire is intended to respond to Supreme Court?s ruling on the matter, but Dying With Dignity group considers the tactic to be an attempt to ?manufacture fear?
Submit News to CKA News Mulcair must tax corporations, super-rich to fund agenda, says left wing NDP activist
Sat, 29 Aug 2015 00:52:33 Z
Tom Mulcair’s New Democrats won’t have the money to finance their own promises in government unless they’re willing to realistically increase revenues and properly tax corporations and the “super-rich”, says a spokesman for the party’s left wing.
Submit News to CKA News Maclean?s on the Hill: Balance budgets, Bob Rae?s new book
Sat, 29 Aug 2015 00:34:19 +0000

Also: looking back and looking ahead at #elxn42

The post Maclean’s on the Hill: Balance budgets, Bob Rae’s new book appeared first on Macleans.ca.

Submit News to CKA News It could backfire, but at least Liberals finally have a message to sell
Fri, 28 Aug 2015 20:25:01 -0400
After playing it safe instead of defining his agenda, Justin Trudeau is now swinging left of centre in an attempt to win back support with plans to run deficits to fund a massive infrastructure program
Submit News to CKA News It could backfire, but at least Liberals finally have a message to sell - The Globe and Mail
Sat, 29 Aug 2015 00:25:00 GMT

The Globe and Mail

It could backfire, but at least Liberals finally have a message to sell
The Globe and Mail
It may be the fuel for the campaign machine that Justin Trudeau's Liberals have spent the past several years constructing. Or it may be the dynamite that blows it up. When Mr. Trudeau set himself apart from other federal leaders by announcing on ...
Harper trumpets economic report on surplus but Liberals call claim 'phoney'CTV News
Andrew Coyne: Spend all that money, Mr. Trudeau? Why and on what?National Post
Michael Ignatieff's comments about Justin Trudeau turned into Conservative ...Toronto Sun
CBC.ca
all 183 news articles »
Submit News to CKA News BC high school teacher charged with sexual assault - Toronto Sun
Sat, 29 Aug 2015 00:24:53 GMT

Toronto Sun

BC high school teacher charged with sexual assault
Toronto Sun
VANCOUVER -- A 39-year-old high school teacher has been charged with sexually exploiting one of his female students in North Vancouver, B.C.. RCMP say Chad Smith of Langley was arrested on Thursday. Police say the charge applies to an authority ...
North Vancouver teacher, Chad Smith, charged with sexual exploitationCBC.ca
North Vancouver teacher charged with sexual assault of studentThe Province
North Vancouver teacher charged with sexually assaulting female student over ...Straight.com
MetroNews Canada
all 20 news articles »
Submit News to CKA News Rice farming in Ontario lake sparks fight over treaty and property rights
Fri, 28 Aug 2015 20:18:23 -0400
Growing of traditional grain on Pigeon Lake has resulted in a dispute between property owners and First Nations communities
Submit News to CKA News 'Harperman' singer investigated for alleged conflict of interest - The Globe and Mail
Sat, 29 Aug 2015 00:15:58 GMT

Toronto Star

'Harperman' singer investigated for alleged conflict of interest
The Globe and Mail
An Environment Canada scientist is under investigation for allegedly breaching the public service code of ethics by writing and performing a political song that criticizes the Harper government. Tony Turner, a physical scientist who most recently was ...
Environment Canada scientist placed on leave over 'Harperman' protest songCTV News
Union says suspended 'Harperman' scientist has same charter rights as all ...Ottawa Citizen
Canada government suspends scientist for folk song about prime ministerThe Guardian
New England Public Radio -Ottawa Sun -News Talk 650 CKOM
all 28 news articles »
Submit News to CKA News RCMP planning mass arrests at pipeline protest camp, northern BC chiefs fear - CBC.ca
Sat, 29 Aug 2015 00:15:30 GMT

CBC.ca

RCMP planning mass arrests at pipeline protest camp, northern BC chiefs fear
CBC.ca
A dispute over energy projects and aboriginal rights is heating up at a pipeline protest camp in northern B.C. where First Nations leaders fear police are planning mass arrests. Since 2009, Wet'suwet'en people, activists and environmentalists have been ...
Northern BC first nation believe police may crack down on protest campCKNW News Talk 980
RCMP say they have no intention of "taking down" Unist'ot'en CampThe Vancouver Observer
Unist'ot'en protest group fears police raid is imminentSmithers Interior News
Straight.com
all 9 news articles »
Submit News to CKA News Vancouver receives 176 applications for marijuana-related businesses in 'gold rush'
Sat, 29 Aug 2015 00:09:11 Z
A Vancouver city councillor says that when the dust settles, fewer than one in 10 people or groups who have applied for the city’s new coveted medical marijuana business licenses will be able to open.
Submit News to CKA News Sluggish commodities growth expected to weigh on Albertans? salaries
Fri, 28 Aug 2015 20:06:37 -0400
According to an annual survey by Morneau Shepell, Canadians will see a drop in salary increases, with the most dramatic change anticipated in Alberta
Submit News to CKA News Captain John?s coming apart at the last port: Keenan
Fri, 28 Aug 2015 20:00:00 EDT

On a sunny August afternoon, the mouth of the Welland Canal in Port Colborne at the shore of Lake Erie offers a picturesque lesson into the marine history of Ontario. In the waters where shipping traffic once travelled non-stop every day, a few children skinny dip off the steps of the pier; the impressive bulk and height of one of the canal’s few remaining lift bridges overlooks the fading footprint of the three earlier canals that flowed here and the stone abutments of retired bridges and locks; along West Street there are historical markers outlining the ongoing industrial history of the town straddling the now shuttered pilot’s cabin.

And from there, on the Promenade overlook, a familiar site becomes visible across the water: a red star on a white field, above the stylized seriffed letters “John’s Seafo.” Looking closer, there’s a familiar blue plank surrounded by light bulbs, with inoperable neon tubing spelling out “SEAFOOD.” It’s the old ship, alright, what’s left of it, the MS Jadran, which was anchored in the Toronto harbour at the foot of Yonge St. for 40 years, serving as Captain John’s restaurant. Before that it had spent two decades as a passenger ship in the Adriatic. Now it sits in pieces here, the recognizable upper half in pieces emerging from the earth and bush along the canal.

For a visitor from Toronto, it is a startling sight, like the sudden appearance of the beached tip of Statue of Liberty at the end of Planet of the Apes — the ruin of a familiar landmark in an unfamiliar place. What was for a couple generations an iconic fixture of Toronto’s waterfront has become, for the summer, a part of the view for Port Colborne’s residents and visitors.

“I was familiar with Captain John’s restaurant when it was moored in Toronto harbour,” says Port Colborne mayor John Maloney. “Certainly when it came down here, it gathered a lot of interest. Not just from local people, but also people were coming from quite a distance to see it,” he says, saying it served as “almost a tourist attraction” throughout the summer, and a conversation piece among local residents.

Maloney himself has visited the canal each day, watching the Jadran’s progress anchored to another, larger vessel at the edge of Marine Recycling Corporation’s marine salvage yard. “It’s being demolished rather quickly,” he says, disassembled in parts by a crew of a few dozen local labourers. What remains of the hull is still in the water, while the wheelhouse, cabin, and passenger compartments are disassembled onshore. “It’s actually sad to see these vessels that had an interesting history . . . it’s sad to see them demolished and disposed of.”

It’s not a novelty in Port Colborne, though. For more than 30 years, Marine Recycling has been operating as a recycler on the canal, a major — and growing — employer. Where once ships from all over the Great Lakes and from down the St. Lawrence moved through Port Colborne carrying freight, now they come here to die. Or to be reborn, their pieces sold off to be remade into other things.

Jordan Elliott of the Marine Recycling Corporation says he expects the Jadran to disappear entirely — for the recycling project to be complete — before the fall. At which point, it will be replaced on the canal by another ship destined for destruction and dismantling.

“When one is gone, there’s another one shortly after, it’s an ongoing operation 12 months a year,” Mayor Maloney says. “We’re sorry to see it happen, but the scrap is recycled, new boats come out, and they serve the country.” And old industrial shipping channel becomes the site of a new recycling facility, old materials become new products, old landmarks disappear, to be replaced by others. And the whole cycle is visible from the Promenade in Port Colborne, where a piece of Toronto’s own marine history slips slowly, piece by piece, into memory.

Edward Keenan writes on city issues ekeenan@thestar.ca . Follow: @thekeenanwire

Submit News to CKA News Would-be terrorist Chiheb Esseghaier is clearly insane, but should that even matter in court?
Fri, 28 Aug 2015 23:52:58 Z
That doesn’t mean he was necessarily unfit to stand trial or, for that matter, not criminally responsible for his actions. In Canadian law it’s not enough just to be crazy
Submit News to CKA News Would-be terrorist Chiheb Esseghaier is clearly insane, but should that even matter in court?
Fri, 28 Aug 2015 23:52:57 +0000
That doesn?t mean he was necessarily unfit to stand trial or, for that matter, not criminally responsible for his actions. In Canadian law it?s not enough just to be crazy
Submit News to CKA News TTC driver charged with sexually assaulting 15-year-old girl - Toronto Sun
Fri, 28 Aug 2015 23:52:18 GMT

Toronto Sun

TTC driver charged with sexually assaulting 15-year-old girl
Toronto Sun
A TTC operator known as Bus Driver Al is accused of luring and repeatedly sexually assaulting a teen girl. He allegedly befriended the 15-year-old on social media in November. The two eventually met in July on a TTC streetcar he was operating, police said.
TTC driver accused of luring and sexually assaulting 15-year-old girl on streetcarNational Post
TTC streetcar operator accused of sexually assaulting 15-year-oldCTV News
TTC employee 'Bus Driver Al' charged with sexual assault involving 15-year-oldCBC.ca
Toronto Star -680 News -durhamregion.com
all 10 news articles »
Submit News to CKA News Critics see problems with carding review
Fri, 28 Aug 2015 19:44:25 EDT

“It’s got to go.” “Ban it altogether.” “We need to stop carding.”

In consultation meetings now being held across the province on the controversial police practice of carding, the ministry has been getting answers to a question it has not been asking.

While Ontarians are being surveyed about the fine-grain aspects of street checks, better known as carding — Should there be limits on the information collected? What type of training should police officers receive about carding? Where should the data go? — some critics are saying the real question is absent: Should ‘street checks’ be banned altogether?

Carding, the police practice of stopping, questioning and documenting someone not suspected of a crime, has drawn mounting concerns about Charter violations and racial profiling. A series of Star investigations has shown carding disproportionately affects black and brown men.

Anyone stopped by police in a non-criminal investigation has the right to walk away. However, as noted in a 2009 Supreme Court ruling, visible minorities “may, because of their background and experience, feel especially unable to disregard police directions and feel that assertion of their right to walk away will itself be taken as evasive.”

In June, Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government announced plans to regulate the practice, launching a consultation process involving online feedback and meetings province-wide.

Some critics have pointed to what they consider the fundamental flaw in the Liberal government’s action on carding: Why try to fix a practice that should be tossed?

“Carding and street checks are a Charter of Rights violation; you cannot regulate a Charter violation,” said Toronto lawyer Howard Morton, an outspoken opponent of the practice and legal counsel for a new anti-street checks group in Peel.

Yasir Naqvi, minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, has defended the province’s review, saying it is guided by “two very important overarching principles.

“One, there’s zero tolerance for any kind of racial profiling or discrimination and two, that we, as government, stand opposed to any arbitrary or random police stops that take place without cause . . . simply to obtain (personal) information.”

In advance of Toronto’s consultation on Tuesday, a look at three concerns raised by critics about the province’s street checks review and responses from the ministry and police associations.

The definition of “street checks” is too broad

In an online form the ministry calls its “discussion document,” street checks are defined as a tool police use “to engage and record interactions with individuals whose activities and/or presence within their broader context (e.g., location, time, behaviour, etc.) seem out of the ordinary.”

But Knia Singh — who has launched a Charter challenge against police carding and says he has been stopped by police 30 times — says the ministry’s definition is does not capture the reality of street checks, which involve arbitrary detentions.

The majority of community members who are concerned about carding are not opposed to police having the ability to stop and question people for a legitimate investigative purpose.

“What we’ve always been fighting is the non-criminal investigation of people,” Singh said. “What they’re missing is the whole point of people just walking on the street, standing on the corner or minding their own business are getting stopped.”

“If they are going to use the word ‘street check,’ they have to define it correctly,” Singh said. “Then we can have a discussion.”

Jonathan Rose, spokesperson for Naqvi’s ministry, said it’s in the process of updating the content of its street-check document online “to reflect the feedback that we have heard from our public consultation and online channels,” though he did not specify what changes were being made.

“We intend to make these changes to the web page content in the coming days,” Rose said in an email.

It misses the root problem of racial discrimination

In a lengthy submission to the ministry, the Ontario Human Rights Commission states its central concern with the street checks review is that it does not go far enough to address the “systemic issue” underlying the overrepresentation of racialized people in street-check interactions.

Ruth Goba, the OHRC’s interim chief commissioner, says the ministry does not go far enough to define when it is appropriate to perform street checks.

The OHRC challenges the suggestion that police may perform street checks when individuals’ activities “seem out of the ordinary.” That is just simply too broad, Goba says — and unguided officer discretion to initiate street checks is “fertile ground for racial profiling,” the OHRC writes.

Also, the larger issue “of racial profiling is not explicitly mentioned,” Goba says, “and that is a significant gap given how the issue has manifested itself.”

Rose said Naqvi has made it clear the government “takes the protection of human rights very seriously and that we have zero tolerance for racism or marginalization.”

It is taken for granted that street checks solve crime

In its description of street checks, the province describes the practice as “a necessary and valuable tool for police” that helps solve and prevent crime.

Chris Williams, an outspoken carding opponent and member of the Toronto Police Accountability Coalition, says stating carding’s usefulness as fact is problematic. Numerous groups, including TPAC, the Law Union of Ontario and the OHRC have argued there is a dearth of objective evidence supporting the claim that street checks solve crime.

Police forces and associations across Ontario often cite the importance street checks can play in solving crime; Toronto Police Association

that because it would show the value of carding in solving crimes.

With files from San Grewal

Submit News to CKA News Ashley Madison founder Noel Biderman resigns after hack
Fri, 28 Aug 2015 19:43:12 EDT

The self-proclaimed “king of infidelity” was dethroned Friday in the latest victory for the hackers who left Toronto-based Ashley Madison embarrassingly exposed.

Noel Biderman, CEO of Avid Life Media since 2002 and founder of Ashley Madison.com, left the company “in mutual agreement,” it said in a brief statement. No successor was named.

“This change is in the best interest of the company and allows us to continue to provide support to our members and dedicated employees,” Avid Life said, declining further requests from the Star for comment.

The announcement was one of the few public statements Avid Life has made since a hacker group calling itself the Impact Team leaked private data of more than 30 million users and internal company documents, including what the group claimed was a cache of Biderman’s work emails.

Several class action lawsuits totalling more than half a billion dollars allege the company breached contracts and was negligent in protecting customer data.

Biderman’s exit was more likely an abdication than a coup d’état, said Richard Leblanc, associate professor of law, governance and ethics at York University.

Executives often resign from a company facing legal action in order to distance themselves from the aftermath, Leblanc said, but that does not shield them from lawsuits or punitive damages, and they are still accountable for all of their decisions leading up to their departure.

Avid Life is a private company. Most private companies do not have an independent board of directors to review decisions or suggest that a leader be pushed out, said Leblanc, a renowned corporate boardroom expert with no inside knowledge of the company.

There is no board of directors listed for the company on Bloomberg.

“The fact that it’s private means that (Biderman) has greater degrees of freedom, but he’s not going to limit his liability,” Leblanc said.

“His duty as a CEO is the same whether it’s a private company or a public company.”

Biderman is just the latest executive casualty of cyber attacks. However, “the fact that there wasn’t a replacement CEO announced is anomalous,” Leblanc said, adding that a successor is usually named immediately to reassure shareholders.

Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel resigned last year, saying he held himself “personally accountable” after criminals managed to steal account information from 40 million customers. And Amy Pascal, co-chair of Sony Pictures Entertainment and head of the film studio, stepped down after a damaging hack that revealed her personal emails.

Private companies are “minimally regulated” in Canada and usually have a small insider board of directors, LeBlanc said, but once they go public they must have a board comprised of a majority of independent directors.

In April, Avid Life announced plans to raise $200 million in an initial public offering in London and valued itself at $1 billion after a failed 2010 attempt to list on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The company blamed that failure on a lack of appetite among prudish Canadian investors.

Now, Avid Life’s survival is in jeopardy. It will face a barrage of lawyers asking questions over security and oversight at the company, which had boasted about its security and privacy measures before the Aug. 17 hack.

Biderman’s departure is a predictable step in crisis management 101, said Warren Weeks, principal at corporate communications firm Eleven PR.

“They seem to be hitting every branch on the way down the crisis-management tree,” he said. “This is just something to make that pressure go away, but it’s probably only temporary.”

New details continue to emerge. One analysis of the leaked data suggested only 15 per cent of users were actually female, while another allegedly found suggestions the company hacked rival dating site nerve.com.

Biderman held a 9.1 per cent stake in the company, while controlling shareholders the DeZwirek family held a combined 30.5 per cent, Reuters reported, citing documents released in the data dump. Phillip DeZwirek told Reuters he was not concerned about the costs associated with class action lawsuits that have been launched against the company.

“As an investor, I’d be more concerned with finding out who did this and having them punished by the criminal system,” he told the wire service.

DeZwirek, the former chief executive of CECO Environmental Corp., has been fined for insider trading in the U.S., though the settlement included no admission of guilt.

Submit News to CKA News Six key ridings to watch going into the federal election
Fri, 28 Aug 2015 19:28:00 EDT

OTTAWA—Personalities, party policies, local dynamics and the national tide.

Those are a few of the factors that will influence the election night outcome in the 338 ridings nationwide on Oct. 19. Some races will be decided on the strength of local candidates; others will swing on the tide of broader public opinion.

MORE AT THESTAR.COM

Canada’s federal electoral district map

The Star takes a look at some key races across the country, outside of Ontario. Interesting races in Ontario will be profiled in the coming weeks.

Whether it’s the fate of a Conservative cabinet minister in New Brunswick, Liberal and NDP aspirations in Alberta, or an arm-wrestle between Liberals and New Democrats in St. John’s, the ridings tell a tale of the ongoing campaign.

AHUNTSIC, Que.

Why it’s key:

This was one of the few ridings that resisted the NDP’s electoral sweep of Quebec in 2011, with the Bloc Québécois’ Maria Mourani winning re-election by just 708 votes. This time around, she has renounced sovereignty and is running for the New Democrats. Mourani changed political alliances after the BQ endorsed a proposed provincial Values Charter that would have banned public sector workers from wearing religious symbols.

She is facing Mélanie Joly, a Liberal candidate hand-picked by party leader Justin Trudeau. Joly seemed to emerge from nowhere during Montreal’s 2013 mayoral race to outstrip her more experienced competitors and finish a strong second. Among her team of supporters was Alexandre Trudeau, the brother of the Liberal party leader.

What the outcome could signal:

The result in this riding could give a good indication of the NDP’s true strength — and its staying power — in Quebec. The riding had no history of voting in large numbers for the left-of-centre party before nearly electing an unknown NDP candidate in the 2011 election. The result also will be a gauge of the true health of the Bloc Québécois, which was almost wiped out in the last election. Mourani has represented the riding for the BQ since 2006, before leaving the party to sit as an Independent in 2013. A Liberal party win may have more to do with the candidate than with the party. Liberals have come within 2,000 votes of victory in the last three elections.

Political history:

Ahuntsic-Cartierville covers a large swath of Montreal’s north shore. It is ethnically diverse with significant populations claiming Arabic, Creole, Greek, Italian and Spanish as their mother tongue. Going back to the 1993 election the riding has been a tight, two-horse race that has pitted the Liberals against the Bloc Québécois. That trend was turned on its head in 2011 when the NDP surge in the province nearly upset the Bloc. The sovereigntist party’s eventual victory here was the only Montreal seat that it managed to hold onto in the province.

Main contenders:

William Moughrabi is running for the Conservatives; Mélanie Joly for the Liberals; Maria Mourani for the NDP; Nicolas Bourdon running for the Bloc Québécois; and Gilles Mercier for the Green Party.

BRANDON-SOURIS, Man.

Why it’s key:

It’s unlikely that Manitoba will determine the next government since the province has only 14 federal ridings. But a collapse in the Prairie ridings would spell trouble for the Conservatives, who have dominated the region for years. And Brandon-Souris is one of the ridings where the party could have problems.

The recent byelection in this southern Manitoba riding gave the Conservatives a run for their money, with Liberal challenger Rolf Dinsdale finishing within two percentage points of Conservative Larry Maguire.

What the outcome could signal:

A loss, or even a narrow victory, for the Conservatives on Oct. 19 could indicate a weakening of support in the Prairies, especially in mostly urban ridings.

Even if the party holds their ridings in the Prairies, they’ll likely have to devote more resources than traditionally to do so, meaning fewer dollars for battleground provinces. In the byelection, Maguire’s campaign spent almost $90,000, more than double the amount the party spent in 2011.

If the riding were to swing either to the New Democrats or the Liberals, it could be a byproduct of the parties’ poll position — whoever has the momentum going into Oct. 19.

Political history:

Brandon-Souris has been a solidly Conservative riding since the separate ridings of Brandon and Souris were amalgamated in 1953. Since that time, the riding has returned only one MP from another party — Liberal MP Glen MacKinnon, elected when the Progressive Conservatives collapsed in 1993.

The largely white, English-speaking riding is concentrated around the town of Brandon. Sales and the service industry is the largest employer, followed by government, education and community services.

Main contenders:

Larry Maguire is running for the Conservatives; Jodi Wyman for the Liberals; Melissa Wastasecoot for the New Democrats; and David Neufeld for the Green Party.

EDMONTON GRIESBACH, Alta.

Why it’s key:

Rachel Notley led her provincial New Democrats to power in Alberta in May, a stunning victory that ended a four-decade long reign by the Progressive Conservatives.

The NDP’s success provincially has both the federal New Democrats and Liberals hoping they can break through into Alberta, which has been a fortress for the Tories, holding all but one seat. Indeed, the NDP fortunes nationally began rising after Notley’s win, suggesting that Canadians were taking a serious look at leader Thomas Mulcair and his party. In the last Parliament, New Democrat Linda Duncan was one of only two MPs from Alberta not in the Conservative party. Duncan’s riding abuts Edmonton Griesbach to the south.

What the outcome could signal:

An NDP win here would signal that Notley’s win was not a flash in the pan and that the political landscape in Alberta, long a bastion of conservatism federally and provincially, might be undergoing a deeper transformation. A similar dynamic is playing out in Calgary Centre, where Conservative Joan Crockatt is facing Liberal Kent Hehr.

Political history:

The riding was born of redistribution and includes parts of the former ridings Edmonton East, held by Conservative Peter Goldring, and Edmonton-St. Albert, held by Conservative-turned-Independent Brent Rathgeber.

Main contenders:

Kerry Diotte is running for the Conservatives; Brian Gold for the Liberals; Janis Irwin for the New Democrats; and Heather Workman for the Green Party.

MADAWASKA-RESTIGOUCHE, N.B.

Why it’s key:

Conservative fortunes have not exactly been high in Atlantic Canada, but the party has rewarded those ridings that went blue with some cabinet ministers. Bernard Valcourt, who most recently served as minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, is one of two of those cabinet ministers running again.

A defeat for Valcourt would likely come as part of a larger collapse of the Conservative vote in the region. While the Conservatives could manage a minority or even majority government without a single Atlantic Canadian seat, losing the veteran politician Valcourt and what little ground they have in the region would not be a great start to election night.

What the outcome could signal:

The Conservatives have lost regional cabinet ministers Peter Penashue to scandal and Peter MacKay to retirement, with only Valcourt and P.E.I.’s Gail Shea running for re-election in 2015. A loss of one or both of those ministers would leave the party with few experienced hands east of Quebec.A shift back to the Liberals would be the most likely outcome, but if the NDP were to steal the seat it could signal momentum for the New Democrats felt beyond Atlantic Canada.

Political history:

The Liberals have had more luck in the northern New Brunswick riding than the Conservatives. Created in 1997, the riding has sent Liberal MPs to Ottawa four times, a Progressive Conservative once, and Valcourt in 2011.

The two ridings that were amalgamated into Madawaska-Restigouche have also been solidly Liberal for most of their history.

Main contenders:

Bernard Valcourt is running for the Conservatives; René Arseneault for the Liberals; Rosaire L’Italien for the New Democrats. The Green party has yet to name a candidate in the riding.

SAKATOON WEST, Sask.

Why it’s key:

The federal New Democrats have been shut out of Saskatchewan since 2004, which is ironic because the Prairie province is the birthplace of the party. Yet the New Democrats had been hampered by riding boundaries that mixed urban neighbourhoods, where the NDP would poll strong, and surrounding rural areas, generally held by the Conservatives. The recent redrawing of the riding boundaries has more clearly defined urban and rural areas. Saskatoon West is now predominantly an urban riding, taking in the city neighbourhoods west of the South Saskatchewan River.

What the outcome could signal:

A win for the NDP here would be strategically and symbolically important. It would demonstrate that the riding redistribution was a winner for the party, allowing it to capitalize on its strength among urban voters. It would give the party a toehold in one of the two provinces where they didn’t previously hold a seat. (P.E.I. is the other.) And it would allow the party to replant a flag in the province where Tommy Douglas, the first leader of the NDP, was once premier.

Political history:

Saskatoon West was represented in the House of Commons from 1979 to 1988, represented by Progressive Conservative MP Ray Hnatyshyn, who was appointed Governor General in 1990. The riding has been resurrected, formed from portions of Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar and Saskatoon-Wanuskewin, both held by Conservatives in the last Parliament.

Main contenders:

Randy Donauer is running for the Conservatives; Lisa Abbott for the Liberals; Sheri Benson for the New Democrats; and Glendon Toews for the Green Party.

ST. JOHN’S SOUTH-MOUNT PEARL, N.L.

Why it’s key:

Newfoundland and Labrador is a dead zone for the Conservatives with just one candidate named in the province’s seven ridings. This could be the continuing fallout, perhaps, of former premier Danny Williams’ “Anyone But Conservative” campaign launched in 2008 during a fight over equalization.

Whatever the reason, it’s left the Liberals and New Democrats fighting over the spoils. This riding is a good example of the arm-wrestling going on across Atlantic Canada between the two parties in those ridings where the Conservatives are not competitive. This particular riding is a fight between two journalists: Liberal Seamus O’Regan is best known as the former host of CTV’s Canada AM morning show, and New Democrat Ryan Cleary worked as a print and radio journalist before making the leap into politics.

What the outcome could signal:

O’Regan is one of several high-profile candidates running for the Liberals. This vote will be a test of star power over incumbency and whether the Liberals can tighten their hold on this Atlantic province.

Political history:

This riding has done the merry-go-around in recent elections, from Conservative Loyola Hearn in 2006 to Liberal Siobhan Coady in 2008 to New Democrat Ryan Cleary in 2011.

Main contenders:

Seamus O’Regan is running for the Liberals and Ryan Cleary for the NDP. The Conservatives and the Green Party haven’t yet named their candidates for the riding.

Submit News to CKA News Activist seeks help for stranded SkyGreece passengers
Fri, 28 Aug 2015 19:22:14 -0400
Passenger-rights advocate Gabor Lukacs says Canadian Transportation Agency should order SkyGreece to rebook its stranded passengers in wake of flight cancellations
Submit News to CKA News Drivers seem confused over what distracted driving entails as stiff new penalties set to start in Ontario
Fri, 28 Aug 2015 23:18:19 +0000
The law will increase fines and introduce demerit points for drivers holding phones in their hands ? even if they're below the dashboard and sim cards have been removed

Canadian Editorial/Opinion Newswatch

Warning: MagpieRSS: Failed to parse RSS file. (Undeclared entity error at line 61, column 54) in D:\Hosted Sites\canadaka.net\www\includes\rss_fetch\rss_fetch.inc on line 238 Submit News to CKA News It seems anything is possible for Stroman the optimist: DiManno
Fri, 28 Aug 2015 22:10:58 EDT

“Morning World!”

Marcus Stroman rolls out of bed every morning and bounces into his life, at least six inches off the ground.

(Which would still make him, oh, 5-foot-8½, as per official stats data.)

The perpetual, seemingly cockeyed optimist — except there’s nothing cockeyed or cuckoo about it anymore — threw 51 pitches in a simulated game on Friday afternoon, as he continues his astonishingly quick-step rehab from ACL surgery on his left knee in mid-March.

Envision the stud of the starting rotation, who was put out to pasture for a year to recover from the ghastly consequences of a lower hinge blown out during a fielding drill for pitchers. Pop went the penciled-in Opening Day moundsman.

If there were tears and crushed spirits, Stroman allowed himself only moments of dejection. Since then — as reflected on his ultra-active Twitter account, a jibber-jabber stream of consciousness tattooed with exclamation marks — there has been an irrepressible high-spiritedness.

“Doing everything they said I couldn’t. With a smile and a chip on my shoulder.”

Unwavering self-confidence is encrypted in the guy’s DNA.

But it now seems Stroman merely got to the inevitable ta-da moment ahead of everyone else. A couple of hours after his ersatz effort in Dunedin (all fine, according to initial dispatches), Blue Jays manager John Gibbons startled a roomful of scribes by coming this close to designating the 24-year-old righty part of his September starting rotation.

“I think the way he’s going now, he might come up and start for us, get a start or two, see how he’s doing.’’

Somewhere in Florida, Stroman is jumping over the moon.

There are no plans, continued the skipper, to expand the starter cadre to a six-pack, with Drew Hutchison now restored to the parent club following his temporary demotion to Buffalo — due to “circumstances,” as Gibbons reminded, which is euphemism-speak for keeping the away-games pushover off Toronto’s recent road swing, and his hill colleagues accommodated around multiple off-days.

“Beyond excited to be on my starting routine. Physically and mentally strong. Progressing perfectly!”

Gibbons marvelled: “At first I didn’t think he was going to be back, period. Then he was starting to look like, well, he would be back. I thought, he’s probably going to come out of the pen.”

That would be the more cautious scenario. Except Stroman has forced the club to consider the more audacious alternative — assuming no setbacks in a scheduled Class-A Lansing assignment on Wednesday, a real game, followed by a Sept. 7 start for Triple-A Buffalo.

“So he’ll get two starts. If things go well, he’d come up here to start, I would think.”

A pat-self-on-back told-you-so for Stroman. He only tossed off the mound for the first time since early spring training on Aug. 5, for goodness sake, and saw his first live hitters on Aug. 20.

Spot starts seem to be what Gibbons is considering, which wouldn’t bump Hutchison out of the rotation; rather, any of the other starters could be given a day off down the stretch with Stroman inserted once or twice. Or, perchance, something bolder than that.

“I might give everybody else a breather. I mean, if he comes back and he’s really good, he could turn some things upside-down, I guess you could say.”

It’s an intriguing situation — Stroman the seductive starter — for the suddenly pitching-rich Jays. The creative mind jumps ahead to what the club might do, moving around these mound pieces in a post-season, determining who would go into the bullpen and who might possibly lose their role if the rotation shrinks. Could there be an odd-man-out starter or a reversal — say, returning Marco Estrada to the relief corps? Do they want a knuckleballer starting in the playoffs? Last night, with the Tigers in town to begin a weekend series, R.A. Dickey surrendered a first-inning homer to Ian Kinsler and departed in the seventh with a 5-3 lead — getting his sixth win in eight starts — and thus it remained, Toronto long-bombing again.

Whoa, whoa, whoa, Gibbons interjected.

“He hasn’t made a start yet, even in the minor leagues.” Still, conceding: “Alex was always wanting me to try to start him, where I thought he was going to be in the bullpen, realistically. But, wrong again,”

That’s more definitive than Alex Anthopoulos has been with the media in recent days about whither-Stroman. “We haven’t got that far,” the GM said the other day about Stroman’s starter prospects for September. “Right now he’s been stretched out to start because at least it gives us more options, more flexibility. We’re not committing to anything because we just don’t know how his stuff’s going to be, how his command’s going to be.”

The plan: Upping the pitch-count to 70-75 by the time the Bisons game rolls around in Pawtucket. “He has to continue to pass every test.”

Yes, but if he does pass those tests, and he spot-starts, and nothing feels awry — then, might he be in the playoff starting picture?

“I didn’t know we were in the post-season yet,” Gibbons observed dryly.

“I don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves. We’ve got a whole month left. It’s pretty cool it’s even thought that (Stroman) could make it back, but he’s doing it. If he comes back and his knee’s healthy . . . his arm was never an issue, everybody knows how good his arm is, what kind of a pitcher he is.

“Might end up being a difference-maker down the stretch where we need it.”

Just remember, Stroman is precious chattel for the Jays. “He’s a priority around here. He was really coming into being our No. 1 guy this year before he got hurt. You still have to keep in mind, it’s really been a year since he faced hitters in the big leagues. It’s not that easy.”

But maybe, might he be a starter, you know (whisper here), in the unmentionables?

“Well, yeah, if great things happen, yeah, I could see him doing that. If there’s anybody who could do that, it’s him.”

“W for the boys. Night night!”

Submit News to CKA News Captain John?s coming apart at the last port: Keenan
Fri, 28 Aug 2015 20:00:00 EDT

On a sunny August afternoon, the mouth of the Welland Canal in Port Colborne at the shore of Lake Erie offers a picturesque lesson into the marine history of Ontario. In the waters where shipping traffic once travelled non-stop every day, a few children skinny dip off the steps of the pier; the impressive bulk and height of one of the canal’s few remaining lift bridges overlooks the fading footprint of the three earlier canals that flowed here and the stone abutments of retired bridges and locks; along West Street there are historical markers outlining the ongoing industrial history of the town straddling the now shuttered pilot’s cabin.

And from there, on the Promenade overlook, a familiar site becomes visible across the water: a red star on a white field, above the stylized seriffed letters “John’s Seafo.” Looking closer, there’s a familiar blue plank surrounded by light bulbs, with inoperable neon tubing spelling out “SEAFOOD.” It’s the old ship, alright, what’s left of it, the MS Jadran, which was anchored in the Toronto harbour at the foot of Yonge St. for 40 years, serving as Captain John’s restaurant. Before that it had spent two decades as a passenger ship in the Adriatic. Now it sits in pieces here, the recognizable upper half in pieces emerging from the earth and bush along the canal.

For a visitor from Toronto, it is a startling sight, like the sudden appearance of the beached tip of Statue of Liberty at the end of Planet of the Apes — the ruin of a familiar landmark in an unfamiliar place. What was for a couple generations an iconic fixture of Toronto’s waterfront has become, for the summer, a part of the view for Port Colborne’s residents and visitors.

“I was familiar with Captain John’s restaurant when it was moored in Toronto harbour,” says Port Colborne mayor John Maloney. “Certainly when it came down here, it gathered a lot of interest. Not just from local people, but also people were coming from quite a distance to see it,” he says, saying it served as “almost a tourist attraction” throughout the summer, and a conversation piece among local residents.

Maloney himself has visited the canal each day, watching the Jadran’s progress anchored to another, larger vessel at the edge of Marine Recycling Corporation’s marine salvage yard. “It’s being demolished rather quickly,” he says, disassembled in parts by a crew of a few dozen local labourers. What remains of the hull is still in the water, while the wheelhouse, cabin, and passenger compartments are disassembled onshore. “It’s actually sad to see these vessels that had an interesting history . . . it’s sad to see them demolished and disposed of.”

It’s not a novelty in Port Colborne, though. For more than 30 years, Marine Recycling has been operating as a recycler on the canal, a major — and growing — employer. Where once ships from all over the Great Lakes and from down the St. Lawrence moved through Port Colborne carrying freight, now they come here to die. Or to be reborn, their pieces sold off to be remade into other things.

Jordan Elliott of the Marine Recycling Corporation says he expects the Jadran to disappear entirely — for the recycling project to be complete — before the fall. At which point, it will be replaced on the canal by another ship destined for destruction and dismantling.

“When one is gone, there’s another one shortly after, it’s an ongoing operation 12 months a year,” Mayor Maloney says. “We’re sorry to see it happen, but the scrap is recycled, new boats come out, and they serve the country.” And old industrial shipping channel becomes the site of a new recycling facility, old materials become new products, old landmarks disappear, to be replaced by others. And the whole cycle is visible from the Promenade in Port Colborne, where a piece of Toronto’s own marine history slips slowly, piece by piece, into memory.

Edward Keenan writes on city issues ekeenan@thestar.ca . Follow: @thekeenanwire

Submit News to CKA News Critics see problems with carding review
Fri, 28 Aug 2015 19:44:25 EDT

“It’s got to go.” “Ban it altogether.” “We need to stop carding.”

In consultation meetings now being held across the province on the controversial police practice of carding, the ministry has been getting answers to a question it has not been asking.

While Ontarians are being surveyed about the fine-grain aspects of street checks, better known as carding — Should there be limits on the information collected? What type of training should police officers receive about carding? Where should the data go? — some critics are saying the real question is absent: Should ‘street checks’ be banned altogether?

Carding, the police practice of stopping, questioning and documenting someone not suspected of a crime, has drawn mounting concerns about Charter violations and racial profiling. A series of Star investigations has shown carding disproportionately affects black and brown men.

Anyone stopped by police in a non-criminal investigation has the right to walk away. However, as noted in a 2009 Supreme Court ruling, visible minorities “may, because of their background and experience, feel especially unable to disregard police directions and feel that assertion of their right to walk away will itself be taken as evasive.”

In June, Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government announced plans to regulate the practice, launching a consultation process involving online feedback and meetings province-wide.

Some critics have pointed to what they consider the fundamental flaw in the Liberal government’s action on carding: Why try to fix a practice that should be tossed?

“Carding and street checks are a Charter of Rights violation; you cannot regulate a Charter violation,” said Toronto lawyer Howard Morton, an outspoken opponent of the practice and legal counsel for a new anti-street checks group in Peel.

Yasir Naqvi, minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, has defended the province’s review, saying it is guided by “two very important overarching principles.

“One, there’s zero tolerance for any kind of racial profiling or discrimination and two, that we, as government, stand opposed to any arbitrary or random police stops that take place without cause . . . simply to obtain (personal) information.”

In advance of Toronto’s consultation on Tuesday, a look at three concerns raised by critics about the province’s street checks review and responses from the ministry and police associations.

The definition of “street checks” is too broad

In an online form the ministry calls its “discussion document,” street checks are defined as a tool police use “to engage and record interactions with individuals whose activities and/or presence within their broader context (e.g., location, time, behaviour, etc.) seem out of the ordinary.”

But Knia Singh — who has launched a Charter challenge against police carding and says he has been stopped by police 30 times — says the ministry’s definition is does not capture the reality of street checks, which involve arbitrary detentions.

The majority of community members who are concerned about carding are not opposed to police having the ability to stop and question people for a legitimate investigative purpose.

“What we’ve always been fighting is the non-criminal investigation of people,” Singh said. “What they’re missing is the whole point of people just walking on the street, standing on the corner or minding their own business are getting stopped.”

“If they are going to use the word ‘street check,’ they have to define it correctly,” Singh said. “Then we can have a discussion.”

Jonathan Rose, spokesperson for Naqvi’s ministry, said it’s in the process of updating the content of its street-check document online “to reflect the feedback that we have heard from our public consultation and online channels,” though he did not specify what changes were being made.

“We intend to make these changes to the web page content in the coming days,” Rose said in an email.

It misses the root problem of racial discrimination

In a lengthy submission to the ministry, the Ontario Human Rights Commission states its central concern with the street checks review is that it does not go far enough to address the “systemic issue” underlying the overrepresentation of racialized people in street-check interactions.

Ruth Goba, the OHRC’s interim chief commissioner, says the ministry does not go far enough to define when it is appropriate to perform street checks.

The OHRC challenges the suggestion that police may perform street checks when individuals’ activities “seem out of the ordinary.” That is just simply too broad, Goba says — and unguided officer discretion to initiate street checks is “fertile ground for racial profiling,” the OHRC writes.

Also, the larger issue “of racial profiling is not explicitly mentioned,” Goba says, “and that is a significant gap given how the issue has manifested itself.”

Rose said Naqvi has made it clear the government “takes the protection of human rights very seriously and that we have zero tolerance for racism or marginalization.”

It is taken for granted that street checks solve crime

In its description of street checks, the province describes the practice as “a necessary and valuable tool for police” that helps solve and prevent crime.

Chris Williams, an outspoken carding opponent and member of the Toronto Police Accountability Coalition, says stating carding’s usefulness as fact is problematic. Numerous groups, including TPAC, the Law Union of Ontario and the OHRC have argued there is a dearth of objective evidence supporting the claim that street checks solve crime.

Police forces and associations across Ontario often cite the importance street checks can play in solving crime; Toronto Police Association

that because it would show the value of carding in solving crimes.

With files from San Grewal

Submit News to CKA News Ashley Madison founder Noel Biderman resigns after hack
Fri, 28 Aug 2015 19:43:12 EDT

The self-proclaimed “king of infidelity” was dethroned Friday in the latest victory for the hackers who left Toronto-based Ashley Madison embarrassingly exposed.

Noel Biderman, CEO of Avid Life Media since 2002 and founder of Ashley Madison.com, left the company “in mutual agreement,” it said in a brief statement. No successor was named.

“This change is in the best interest of the company and allows us to continue to provide support to our members and dedicated employees,” Avid Life said, declining further requests from the Star for comment.

The announcement was one of the few public statements Avid Life has made since a hacker group calling itself the Impact Team leaked private data of more than 30 million users and internal company documents, including what the group claimed was a cache of Biderman’s work emails.

Several class action lawsuits totalling more than half a billion dollars allege the company breached contracts and was negligent in protecting customer data.

Biderman’s exit was more likely an abdication than a coup d’état, said Richard Leblanc, associate professor of law, governance and ethics at York University.

Executives often resign from a company facing legal action in order to distance themselves from the aftermath, Leblanc said, but that does not shield them from lawsuits or punitive damages, and they are still accountable for all of their decisions leading up to their departure.

Avid Life is a private company. Most private companies do not have an independent board of directors to review decisions or suggest that a leader be pushed out, said Leblanc, a renowned corporate boardroom expert with no inside knowledge of the company.

There is no board of directors listed for the company on Bloomberg.

“The fact that it’s private means that (Biderman) has greater degrees of freedom, but he’s not going to limit his liability,” Leblanc said.

“His duty as a CEO is the same whether it’s a private company or a public company.”

Biderman is just the latest executive casualty of cyber attacks. However, “the fact that there wasn’t a replacement CEO announced is anomalous,” Leblanc said, adding that a successor is usually named immediately to reassure shareholders.

Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel resigned last year, saying he held himself “personally accountable” after criminals managed to steal account information from 40 million customers. And Amy Pascal, co-chair of Sony Pictures Entertainment and head of the film studio, stepped down after a damaging hack that revealed her personal emails.

Private companies are “minimally regulated” in Canada and usually have a small insider board of directors, LeBlanc said, but once they go public they must have a board comprised of a majority of independent directors.

In April, Avid Life announced plans to raise $200 million in an initial public offering in London and valued itself at $1 billion after a failed 2010 attempt to list on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The company blamed that failure on a lack of appetite among prudish Canadian investors.

Now, Avid Life’s survival is in jeopardy. It will face a barrage of lawyers asking questions over security and oversight at the company, which had boasted about its security and privacy measures before the Aug. 17 hack.

Biderman’s departure is a predictable step in crisis management 101, said Warren Weeks, principal at corporate communications firm Eleven PR.

“They seem to be hitting every branch on the way down the crisis-management tree,” he said. “This is just something to make that pressure go away, but it’s probably only temporary.”

New details continue to emerge. One analysis of the leaked data suggested only 15 per cent of users were actually female, while another allegedly found suggestions the company hacked rival dating site nerve.com.

Biderman held a 9.1 per cent stake in the company, while controlling shareholders the DeZwirek family held a combined 30.5 per cent, Reuters reported, citing documents released in the data dump. Phillip DeZwirek told Reuters he was not concerned about the costs associated with class action lawsuits that have been launched against the company.

“As an investor, I’d be more concerned with finding out who did this and having them punished by the criminal system,” he told the wire service.

DeZwirek, the former chief executive of CECO Environmental Corp., has been fined for insider trading in the U.S., though the settlement included no admission of guilt.

Submit News to CKA News Six key ridings to watch going into the federal election
Fri, 28 Aug 2015 19:28:00 EDT

OTTAWA—Personalities, party policies, local dynamics and the national tide.

Those are a few of the factors that will influence the election night outcome in the 338 ridings nationwide on Oct. 19. Some races will be decided on the strength of local candidates; others will swing on the tide of broader public opinion.

MORE AT THESTAR.COM

Canada’s federal electoral district map

The Star takes a look at some key races across the country, outside of Ontario. Interesting races in Ontario will be profiled in the coming weeks.

Whether it’s the fate of a Conservative cabinet minister in New Brunswick, Liberal and NDP aspirations in Alberta, or an arm-wrestle between Liberals and New Democrats in St. John’s, the ridings tell a tale of the ongoing campaign.

AHUNTSIC, Que.

Why it’s key:

This was one of the few ridings that resisted the NDP’s electoral sweep of Quebec in 2011, with the Bloc Québécois’ Maria Mourani winning re-election by just 708 votes. This time around, she has renounced sovereignty and is running for the New Democrats. Mourani changed political alliances after the BQ endorsed a proposed provincial Values Charter that would have banned public sector workers from wearing religious symbols.

She is facing Mélanie Joly, a Liberal candidate hand-picked by party leader Justin Trudeau. Joly seemed to emerge from nowhere during Montreal’s 2013 mayoral race to outstrip her more experienced competitors and finish a strong second. Among her team of supporters was Alexandre Trudeau, the brother of the Liberal party leader.

What the outcome could signal:

The result in this riding could give a good indication of the NDP’s true strength — and its staying power — in Quebec. The riding had no history of voting in large numbers for the left-of-centre party before nearly electing an unknown NDP candidate in the 2011 election. The result also will be a gauge of the true health of the Bloc Québécois, which was almost wiped out in the last election. Mourani has represented the riding for the BQ since 2006, before leaving the party to sit as an Independent in 2013. A Liberal party win may have more to do with the candidate than with the party. Liberals have come within 2,000 votes of victory in the last three elections.

Political history:

Ahuntsic-Cartierville covers a large swath of Montreal’s north shore. It is ethnically diverse with significant populations claiming Arabic, Creole, Greek, Italian and Spanish as their mother tongue. Going back to the 1993 election the riding has been a tight, two-horse race that has pitted the Liberals against the Bloc Québécois. That trend was turned on its head in 2011 when the NDP surge in the province nearly upset the Bloc. The sovereigntist party’s eventual victory here was the only Montreal seat that it managed to hold onto in the province.

Main contenders:

William Moughrabi is running for the Conservatives; Mélanie Joly for the Liberals; Maria Mourani for the NDP; Nicolas Bourdon running for the Bloc Québécois; and Gilles Mercier for the Green Party.

BRANDON-SOURIS, Man.

Why it’s key:

It’s unlikely that Manitoba will determine the next government since the province has only 14 federal ridings. But a collapse in the Prairie ridings would spell trouble for the Conservatives, who have dominated the region for years. And Brandon-Souris is one of the ridings where the party could have problems.

The recent byelection in this southern Manitoba riding gave the Conservatives a run for their money, with Liberal challenger Rolf Dinsdale finishing within two percentage points of Conservative Larry Maguire.

What the outcome could signal:

A loss, or even a narrow victory, for the Conservatives on Oct. 19 could indicate a weakening of support in the Prairies, especially in mostly urban ridings.

Even if the party holds their ridings in the Prairies, they’ll likely have to devote more resources than traditionally to do so, meaning fewer dollars for battleground provinces. In the byelection, Maguire’s campaign spent almost $90,000, more than double the amount the party spent in 2011.

If the riding were to swing either to the New Democrats or the Liberals, it could be a byproduct of the parties’ poll position — whoever has the momentum going into Oct. 19.

Political history:

Brandon-Souris has been a solidly Conservative riding since the separate ridings of Brandon and Souris were amalgamated in 1953. Since that time, the riding has returned only one MP from another party — Liberal MP Glen MacKinnon, elected when the Progressive Conservatives collapsed in 1993.

The largely white, English-speaking riding is concentrated around the town of Brandon. Sales and the service industry is the largest employer, followed by government, education and community services.

Main contenders:

Larry Maguire is running for the Conservatives; Jodi Wyman for the Liberals; Melissa Wastasecoot for the New Democrats; and David Neufeld for the Green Party.

EDMONTON GRIESBACH, Alta.

Why it’s key:

Rachel Notley led her provincial New Democrats to power in Alberta in May, a stunning victory that ended a four-decade long reign by the Progressive Conservatives.

The NDP’s success provincially has both the federal New Democrats and Liberals hoping they can break through into Alberta, which has been a fortress for the Tories, holding all but one seat. Indeed, the NDP fortunes nationally began rising after Notley’s win, suggesting that Canadians were taking a serious look at leader Thomas Mulcair and his party. In the last Parliament, New Democrat Linda Duncan was one of only two MPs from Alberta not in the Conservative party. Duncan’s riding abuts Edmonton Griesbach to the south.

What the outcome could signal:

An NDP win here would signal that Notley’s win was not a flash in the pan and that the political landscape in Alberta, long a bastion of conservatism federally and provincially, might be undergoing a deeper transformation. A similar dynamic is playing out in Calgary Centre, where Conservative Joan Crockatt is facing Liberal Kent Hehr.

Political history:

The riding was born of redistribution and includes parts of the former ridings Edmonton East, held by Conservative Peter Goldring, and Edmonton-St. Albert, held by Conservative-turned-Independent Brent Rathgeber.

Main contenders:

Kerry Diotte is running for the Conservatives; Brian Gold for the Liberals; Janis Irwin for the New Democrats; and Heather Workman for the Green Party.

MADAWASKA-RESTIGOUCHE, N.B.

Why it’s key:

Conservative fortunes have not exactly been high in Atlantic Canada, but the party has rewarded those ridings that went blue with some cabinet ministers. Bernard Valcourt, who most recently served as minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, is one of two of those cabinet ministers running again.

A defeat for Valcourt would likely come as part of a larger collapse of the Conservative vote in the region. While the Conservatives could manage a minority or even majority government without a single Atlantic Canadian seat, losing the veteran politician Valcourt and what little ground they have in the region would not be a great start to election night.

What the outcome could signal:

The Conservatives have lost regional cabinet ministers Peter Penashue to scandal and Peter MacKay to retirement, with only Valcourt and P.E.I.’s Gail Shea running for re-election in 2015. A loss of one or both of those ministers would leave the party with few experienced hands east of Quebec.A shift back to the Liberals would be the most likely outcome, but if the NDP were to steal the seat it could signal momentum for the New Democrats felt beyond Atlantic Canada.

Political history:

The Liberals have had more luck in the northern New Brunswick riding than the Conservatives. Created in 1997, the riding has sent Liberal MPs to Ottawa four times, a Progressive Conservative once, and Valcourt in 2011.

The two ridings that were amalgamated into Madawaska-Restigouche have also been solidly Liberal for most of their history.

Main contenders:

Bernard Valcourt is running for the Conservatives; René Arseneault for the Liberals; Rosaire L’Italien for the New Democrats. The Green party has yet to name a candidate in the riding.

SAKATOON WEST, Sask.

Why it’s key:

The federal New Democrats have been shut out of Saskatchewan since 2004, which is ironic because the Prairie province is the birthplace of the party. Yet the New Democrats had been hampered by riding boundaries that mixed urban neighbourhoods, where the NDP would poll strong, and surrounding rural areas, generally held by the Conservatives. The recent redrawing of the riding boundaries has more clearly defined urban and rural areas. Saskatoon West is now predominantly an urban riding, taking in the city neighbourhoods west of the South Saskatchewan River.

What the outcome could signal:

A win for the NDP here would be strategically and symbolically important. It would demonstrate that the riding redistribution was a winner for the party, allowing it to capitalize on its strength among urban voters. It would give the party a toehold in one of the two provinces where they didn’t previously hold a seat. (P.E.I. is the other.) And it would allow the party to replant a flag in the province where Tommy Douglas, the first leader of the NDP, was once premier.

Political history:

Saskatoon West was represented in the House of Commons from 1979 to 1988, represented by Progressive Conservative MP Ray Hnatyshyn, who was appointed Governor General in 1990. The riding has been resurrected, formed from portions of Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar and Saskatoon-Wanuskewin, both held by Conservatives in the last Parliament.

Main contenders:

Randy Donauer is running for the Conservatives; Lisa Abbott for the Liberals; Sheri Benson for the New Democrats; and Glendon Toews for the Green Party.

ST. JOHN’S SOUTH-MOUNT PEARL, N.L.

Why it’s key:

Newfoundland and Labrador is a dead zone for the Conservatives with just one candidate named in the province’s seven ridings. This could be the continuing fallout, perhaps, of former premier Danny Williams’ “Anyone But Conservative” campaign launched in 2008 during a fight over equalization.

Whatever the reason, it’s left the Liberals and New Democrats fighting over the spoils. This riding is a good example of the arm-wrestling going on across Atlantic Canada between the two parties in those ridings where the Conservatives are not competitive. This particular riding is a fight between two journalists: Liberal Seamus O’Regan is best known as the former host of CTV’s Canada AM morning show, and New Democrat Ryan Cleary worked as a print and radio journalist before making the leap into politics.

What the outcome could signal:

O’Regan is one of several high-profile candidates running for the Liberals. This vote will be a test of star power over incumbency and whether the Liberals can tighten their hold on this Atlantic province.

Political history:

This riding has done the merry-go-around in recent elections, from Conservative Loyola Hearn in 2006 to Liberal Siobhan Coady in 2008 to New Democrat Ryan Cleary in 2011.

Main contenders:

Seamus O’Regan is running for the Liberals and Ryan Cleary for the NDP. The Conservatives and the Green Party haven’t yet named their candidates for the riding.

Submit News to CKA News This time, Bay St. joins Toronto?s anti-Olympics team
Fri, 28 Aug 2015 18:46:33 EDT

Almost 30 years after Bread Not Circuses, Bay St. is getting behind Toronto’s latest anti-Olympic movement.

Ahead of a potential bid, opponents are gathering under the banner NoTO2024. For many of the group’s core leadership, it’s their first time carrying a banner.

“There’s no full-time activists or anything on this. There’s no professional protester here, this is just, you know, taxpayers and citizens,” said David Wilson, who directs operations for the group.

Wilson, who works in finance (for what he calls a large downtown institution, but declined to offer a name), is one of a dozen volunteers, by his estimate, currently working daily to get the group going and spread their message.

They range from “Bay Street professionals to social welfare advocates to retirees,” he said. “It’s a mix of everybody.”

The big tent approach is a departure from the city’s past anti-Olympic movements.

The Bread Not Circuses Coalition, started in 1988 to oppose Toronto’s bid for the 1996 Summer Games, was led by union leaders, human-rights lawyers, and activists.

They celebrated the failed bid in the Regent Park living room of leader and affordable housing advocate Michael Shapcott.

Then-city councillor Jack Layton also had ties to the group.

“If to win you need a socially irresponsible bid, then perhaps it’s better to lose,” Layton told Royson James after Toronto lost to Atlanta in a 1990 vote.

This time around the opposition is less about social justice, and more about sound business practices.

“It’s not the same argument as 1996,” Wilson said. “We’ve got 20 more years of proof that the Olympics don’t make sense. This is a business deal that’s a bad deal for the cities.”

The group argues that the costs will outweigh the benefits to the city, onerous contracts will leave taxpayers on the hook for any overruns, and the process is being held behind closed doors.

“It’s not a left-right issue. It’s a transparency issue,” he said. “(Council) voted no on this and all of a sudden this is slipping in through the back door. The entire thing is being run in the best interest of bid promoters and not in the best interest of Torontonians.”

The Games would do little for the city’s needs, according to the group.

“It’s right in the contract that not a single penny of Olympic revenue is allowed to be spent on infrastructure,” he said, citing Beijing’s contract for the 2022 Winter Games.

“We shouldn’t be held hostage by saying you can only get money for subways if you host an Olympic Games.”

Though the current leadership for NoTO2024 doesn’t include vocal anti-Olympics organizers of the past, they are coming into the fold.

Academic Helen Lenskyj counts herself as a Bread Not Circuses activist. She has joined anti-Olympic movements from Toronto to Boston to Vancouver since 1998, and is mobilized for this fight.

For her the social-justice issues still resonate, but the purely economic argument has been gaining steam across the globe, according the researcher and former University of Toronto professor.

Questions started in the early 2000s, she said, and spiked when the budget for Sochi (a record $51 billion in U.S. dollars) was revealed.

“When you see very conservative business sources coming out with these recommendations like ‘Don’t touch the Olympics with a 10-foot pole,’ you know that it’s not the sort of golden egg that it used to be, or that it was perceived to be in the past,” Lenskyj told the Star.

For his part, Mayor John Tory still has not made any decisions about Toronto’s bid ahead of the Sept. 15 deadline to declare interest.

The mayor’s office echoed comments made earlier this week when asked about the progress.

“Toronto just finished hosting the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games, the largest sporting event in Canadian history. We are now in the process of analyzing how the Games went, collecting information on the Olympic bid process, and consulting members of Council, the business community, the public and both levels of government.”

Ultimately a broad base of support is better for a strong opposition, Lenskyj said.

“We had several influential business people who were extremely supportive who moved in their own circles to join in solidarity with the sort of more radical lefties amongst us,” she said.

“Some situations create strange bedfellows.”

Submit News to CKA News Last-ditch bid to save Markham daycare fails
Fri, 28 Aug 2015 18:19:37 EDT

Toronto’s recently retired deputy city manager is shocked Markham is not renewing the lease of a civic centre daycare, built with public money 25 years ago.

“It’s devastating to everybody,” says Brenda Patterson, who joined parents and staff from TLC Daycare in a meeting with Markham city officials earlier this month in a last-ditch effort to save the 57-space centre.

As the Star reported in July, the non-profit centre’s lease expires in October and the daycare has been unable to secure new space.

Patterson, whose responsibilities included oversight of Toronto’s 64,000-space child care system before she retired last year, says daycares are crucial pieces of municipal infrastructure that cities should nurture and support.

In Toronto, for example, daycares get free rent in municipal buildings and the city covers their rent in schools, she notes.

In Markham, however, the city is evicting the daycare and converting the space to offices for municipal staff.

“This is why we need a rational child care policy in this country,” Patterson says. “At the very least, we need a policy where child care centres are not constantly at risk of losing their space.”

TLC Daycare was first notified in January that the city needed the space. City staff have said they worked closely with TLC to find another municipal or privately owned location, but that none were acceptable to the daycare.

Daycare staff and parents, however, say the city played hardball from the outset and even told them not to contact the mayor or councillors during the search.

“I can assure you that any direct communication with councillors or any other city staff member will have a detrimental effect on ongoing negotiations,” wrote the city’s real estate manager David Pearce in a letter to the daycare’s director Anna Iacono, dated April 2015.

As a result, daycare staff advised parents not to petition their elected officials during this crucial period.

A month later, council made the decision to not accept a proposal from the daycare during an in-camera meeting closed to the public.

Councillor Alan Ho, whose ward includes the daycare, never met with concerned parents or daycare officials, they said. Instead, his assistant said the liaison person for the daycare was Dennis Flaherty, the director of communications for the city.

Parent Elise Ho-Foong says she and others now wonder if the outcome would have been different if they had made their case directly to their elected officials earlier in the process.

Neither Flaherty nor Pearce responded to emails about why they advised parents and daycare staff not to contact their elected officials. Mayor Frank Scarpitti also did not respond to questions from the Star about why he never made time to hear the concerns of daycare officials or worried parents who say they have since made repeated requests for a meeting.

In an email Thursday, city staff refused to budge on the daycare’s plea for a lease extension or to re-open discussions on moving to Warden House, a city-owned heritage building nearby.

“I am just so disappointed,” says Ho-Foong, who is also a member of the daycare board. “It’s such an excellent daycare, and it’s absolutely a shame that the city has made it impossible for us to continue operating.”

Submit News to CKA News More GTA homeowners turning to artificial grass
Fri, 28 Aug 2015 18:00:00 EDT

 

 

In the spring, Adrienne Harris?s backyard was a pool of mud. In the summer, the shady yard was pockmarked with bald patches, weeds and grass stained brown from dog pee.

Now Harris?s backyard is her oasis, a carpet of indestructible green that never needs mowing or watering. Kids sprawl on her artificial grass to play with the dog, and Harris proudly throws backyard parties.

?It?s like having another living room,? says Harris, 43.

Across the GTA, synthetic lawns are gradually sprouting as frustrated homeowners give up on the natural stuff, especially in hard-to-keep-green back yards. ?It?s becoming a little more popular because the product is more natural-looking,? says Vlad Apanovitch, president of GTA Landscaping, which does five to 10 artificial installations a year in private yards.

Fake is new again

Today?s artificial turf is a distant cousin to the indoor-outdoor carpet look of past decades. ?It?s like comparing today?s cellphone to one from 10 years ago,? says Rob Mislan, owner of Versatile Grass. His blades are three-dimensional, not flat, and are UV-resistant.

But it?s still plastic, which raises environmental concerns. The city of Toronto, prompted by the improved artificial grass products, is reviewing its bylaws and looking at the permeability of synthetic turf and drainage issues, the potential impact on ecosystems and the heat-emitting effect.

Presently the city considers artificial grass as ?hard landscaping,? similar to pavement, as opposed to ?soft landscaping,? such as real grass. Bylaws set minimum percentages for soft landscaping.

Also the bylaws don?t permit synthetic turf in the parts of yards where the city has a right-of-way, often to deal with underground infrastructure or sidewalks. About 20 violation notices have been issued to property owners this year.

Pro faux

Whatever the city decides, plastic grass has already taken root, creating fans among some homeowners and foes among others. ?People are very passionate around the issue of natural versus artificial grass,? says landscape architect Robert Wright, a professor at the University of Toronto. ?They either love it or hate it.?

Count Harris, who rolled out her new lawn this spring, solidly in the pro camp.

?I?m always on the road. I don?t have time to take care of a yard,? says Harris, an East York mother of two who works in business communications management. Now all she needs to do, she says, is a good raking in the spring and fall. She gave away her lawn mower.

Her basset hound, Hank, sniffs along the grass and lies in the sun. ?One of the best things is that the dog can?t destroy it.? The grass requires only a rare hosing to clean up after the dog, she says.

Cost to pocketbook

Harris paid $7,000 for the grass, installation and finishing touches on her small back lawn. Artificial grass ranges from about $8 to $12 a square foot installed.

?If you think of it as amortizing over 15 years, that?s a good investment,? says Harris. Company warranties usually run for eight to 10 years, but the lawns are expected to do well for 20 or 25 years, says Mislan of Versatile Grass.

Harris also expects to save on her water bills.

Real vs. plastic

While less water usage is good, Tim Gray, executive director of Environmental Defence Canada, says consumers need to consider the entire life cycle of the synthetic product ? where it came from, where it will end up and what it?s doing on the ground. The grass blades are made of polyethylene, a common plastic, and woven into a plastic backing. ?Almost all plastic products leach components,? says Gray.

Mislan insists the polyethylene grass doesn?t leach, that it?s the same material as many children?s toys. Many of the new varieties are recyclable, he says.

All a drain?

To install it, the existing grass and some topsoil are removed and a layer of crushed stone is put down as a base and compacted. Sheets of synthetic grass are rolled on top and usually secured with staples or spikes, not ground-up rubber. That rubber crumb infill is still prominent on large sports fields, explains Mislan, but not common any longer on residential lawns.

Rain water ? and pet urine ? drain through the holes in the grass?s backing and through the crushed stone. ?We never heavily compact as we are trying to mimic the draining of the natural ground that we are turfing,? explains Jerome Keays, owner of Design Turf.

Environmentalist Gray worries that heavy rain storms would create more run-off on plastic grass than on a natural surface. Mislan says most synthetic grasses are rated to pass 30 inches of water per hour per square yard, a massive downpour.

Birds and bugs

Maurice Nelischer, professor emeritus of landscape architecture at the University of Guelph, is impressed by the realistic look of the new grass, some products even have brown thatch woven in. ?I?ve gone up to some and had to put my hand on it to confirm it was plastic,? he says.

On the pro side, he points out, children and pets don?t track mud and dirt through the house.

But there are ecological concerns. Synthetic grass and its base stifle organisms in the dirt. ?Birds won?t find worms there,? says Nelischer.

The worms exist, just further down, explains Keays of Design Turf. ?Natural life goes on, but not on the surface.?

Feeling the heat

On a steamy day, plastic grass will feel hot, not cool like Mother Nature?s variety, whose roots pull up water. With concerns about urban heat buildup, grass and trees are our saviours, Nelischer says. Everything else is hard surface.

A few synthetic lawns won?t have a broad impact, he says, but the individual yards may be hotter.

?I spray it with water and it cools down,? says Amy Bell, whose back yard in Vaughan is artificial turf. ?I?d take two months of hot grass in the afternoon over weeding and mowing.?

It?s not different than having a wood deck or pavement, says Keays. This year, his company offers a new grass with reflective blades that stay cooler, he adds.

Against the grain

Overall, from a purely ecological point of view, how would Environmental Defence executive director Gray rank yard coverings?

At rock-bottom, he rates asphalt, followed by artificial turf, then real grass, and ? the best ? native trees, shrubs, flowers. ?Take your cues from nature instead of perpetuating the battle by increasing the armaments,? says Gray.

But in her East York backyard, her artificial lawn spread before her, Harris grins at a familiar sound. On the other side of the fence, her neighbour is mowing the grass. ?I?m so glad that?s not me anymore,? says Harris with a laugh.

Submit News to CKA News CanJet staff await news of airline?s fate
Fri, 28 Aug 2015 17:26:26 EDT

CanJet Airlines’ flight and cabin crew are awaiting word on their fate after a scheduling bulletin Thursday suggested tour provider Air Transat will no longer operate the charter’s vacation flights starting next month.

“We have no plane,” said a source, who asked not to be named. “They are not planning to operate aircraft using our crew.”

She said the bulletin likely means the CanJet Boeing 737 aircraft is being “dry leased” to Air Transat, without CanJet personnel, which means the plane is available to be rented to another company.

Air Transat would not confirm or comment on low-cost carrier CanJet’s “actions or intentions.” CanJet president Stephen Rowe did not respond to a request for comment.

Audrey Tam, president of the CUPE local that represents CanJet flight attendants, said Rowe in an email to the union said the membership will be updated next week.

A spokesman for the Air Line Pilots Association Canada representing the carrier’s 13 remaining pilots said the union is unclear on the airline’s plans, adding that he hopes Rowe “can find a way to reinvent.”

In 2009, CanJet began offering charter flights on behalf of Transat Tours Canada from Toronto and other Canadian cities to vacation destinations but the contract was not renewed in April 2014.

The subsidiary of Halifax-based IMP Group said it would park five of its six aircraft as a result of the lost business and due to slow holiday package sales.

Last year CanJet laid off 67 pilots and 68 permanent and seasonal flight attendants according to a report and eliminated its planned European operations.

The carrier is now operating only one aircraft for Air Transat year round employing 13 flight crew and 35 attendants based in Toronto, CUPE said. CanJet in 2007 had more than 570 employees.

Submit News to CKA News NDP launching blitz against Liberals over anti-terrorism law
Fri, 28 Aug 2015 16:27:38 EDT

The NDP is launching a national attack on Justin Trudeau’s Liberals over their support for Canada’s controversial anti-terrorism law.

The “T minus 51” blitz — 51 days from Saturday until the Oct. 19 election — will see dozens of NDP candidates in targeted ridings from coast to coast go door-to-door with special brochures attacking the Liberals on Bill C-51.

The weekend blitz will focus on ridings with incumbent Liberals who voted for the Conservatives’ “spy bill,” NDP sources say, including Toronto MPs Adam Vaughan and Chrystia Freeland.

Olivia Chow, the former MP and failed Toronto mayoral candidate, has gone a step further and created an online attack ad accusing Trudeau and Vaughan, her opponent in the new downtown riding of Spadina-Fort York, of “betraying” constituents by voting for a “dangerous and anti-democratic” law.

NDP leaders hope C-51, which they brand a threat to the civil liberties of peaceful protesters, journalists and anyone else who opposes the government, will be the wedge issue that convinces Canadians they are the real alternative to Harper’s Conservatives.

Liberals “said they were going to Ottawa to stand up to Stephen Harper and they didn’t,” an NDP organizer in Ottawa said on background Friday.

Trudeau has said voting in favour of C-51 was in the best interests of Canadians, but that, if elected, his government would repeal parts of it and add more oversight and scrutiny for security agencies.

Vaughan, the former city councillor elected to replace Chow in a byelection last year, has told the Star the Liberals and NDP essentially want to get to the same place with anti-terrorism protections, but the Liberals want to fix the bill, while the NDP wants to kill it and start over.

Chow’s ad, to be released on social media Saturday morning, but obtained by the Star on Friday, begins with the line: “We’ve all been let down when the Liberals voted with Stephen Harper on the spy bill.”

It shows both Trudeau and Vaughan standing in May to vote for C-51. “Activist” Elliot Loran tells the camera: “The Harper government with the help of the Liberals have betrayed our values.”

Loran, an actor whose Twitter account is rife with anti-C-51 tweets, adds: “MPs are supposed to stand up and protect our rights and freedoms. Instead they voted to pass Bill C-51.”

Lawyer James Lockyer, famed for his defence of the wrongly convicted, says in the ad that C-51 gives “government spy agencies massive new powers.

“It allows them to violate your Charter rights ’cause they don’t like what you’re saying. This doesn’t make us more secure; it makes us less free . . . Bill C-51 is dangerous and is anti-democratic.”

Chow does not mention Vaughan by name, saying only: “Yes, Canadians are so ready for change. Let’s replace fear and division with hope and optimism!”

The words are an echo of those of her late husband, former NDP leader Jack Layton, whose in 2011 included: “Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair.”

Submit News to CKA News Europe?s migrant crisis brings tragedy by land and sea
Fri, 28 Aug 2015 16:12:11 EDT

VIENNA—Death and desperation mounted in Europe’s migrant crisis Friday as Austrian police said 71 people appeared to have suffocated in the back of an abandoned truck, while an estimated 200 people were feared drowned off Libya when two overloaded boats capsized.

More than 300,000 people have sought to cross the Mediterranean Sea so far in 2015, up from 219,000 in all of last year, as European authorities grapple with the largest influx since the Second World War.

The death of 71 people locked in the truck on a highway south of Vienna shows “the desperation of people seeking protection or a new life in Europe,” said Melissa Fleming, spokeswoman for the UN refugee agency in Geneva.

The International Office of Migration has recorded 2,636 deaths linked to Mediterranean crossings this year, and more may have vanished beneath the waves out of sight of rescuers.

Each day, thousands are boarding flimsy boats for Italy or Greece, and many more are placing themselves and their families at the mercy of human traffickers by slogging for days or weeks through the western Balkans toward what they hope will be a brighter future. Most are fleeing war, conflict or persecution in countries including Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea.

Several factors are driving the surge of Syrian refugees, including worsening conditions in that country’s refugee centres, partly due to budget cuts, and the reluctance of neighbouring countries to take in more people, the UN said.

Two ships went down Thursday off the western Libyan city of Zuwara, where Hussein Asheini of the Red Crescent said at least 105 bodies had been recovered. About 100 people were rescued, according to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, with at least 100 more believed to be missing.

“A coast guard team is still diving in and checking inside to see if there’s anyone else,” Asheini added.

Workers pulled the dead from the water and placed them in orange-and-black body bags that were laid out on the waterfront in Zuwara, about 105 kilometres west of Tripoli. Several victims floated face-down in a flooded boat towed into the harbour. At least one of the dead wore a life vest.

Most of the people rescued came from Syria and sub-Saharan African countries, said Mohamed al-Misrati, the spokesman for the Red Crescent in Libya.

“You can imagine what they are going through. Some of them are still looking for their friends. We’re trying to speak to them but many of them are too traumatized to even talk about the incident,” he said.

Lawless Libya, which doesn’t have the resources to deal with the flow of migrants, is a prime starting point for many, with human traffickers filling boats they know cannot reach European shores but figuring that rescuers will pick up the passengers and take them to Italy.

Often, the smugglers force migrants below deck where their chances of survival are even dimmer. Rescuers who boarded one boat Wednesday counted 52 people who suffocated in the hold, according to the UN refugee agency. Survivors said the smugglers beat them with sticks to keep them below deck, and one said they demanded money to let the migrants come up for fresh air.

While the UN agency said more than 300,000 refugees crossed the Mediterranean so far this year, the International Office of Migration, an intergovernmental agency, put the number at 332,000 on Friday.

Hungarian police arrested four people overnight after the decomposing bodies of 71 migrants, including included eight women and four children, were found in the truck on Austria’s main highway.

The suspects, allegedly part of a larger Bulgarian-Hungarian smuggling ring, include an Afghan and three Bulgarians, one of whom owns the truck, Hungarian national police spokeswoman Viktoria Csiszer-Kovacs said. Police raided houses and questioned almost 20 others in the case.

Hans Peter Doskozil, chief of police in eastern Burgenland province, said the migrants probably suffocated. At least some of the dead were Syrian, travel documents indicated, though most of the partially decomposed bodies remained unidentified.

“One is basically at a loss for words in view of the extent of suffering there,” said Steffen Seibert, spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The tragedy “should serve as a wake-up call . . . for joint European action” in dealing with the torrent of migrants flocking to Europe, said Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner.

Added Fleming: “We believe this underscores the ruthlessness of people smugglers who have expanded their business from the Mediterranean Sea to the highways of Europe. It shows they have absolutely no regard for human life, and that they are only after profit.”

At Budapest’s Keleti train station, volunteers tending to migrants asked people to bring candles and flowers for a tribute there Friday in memory of the 71 victims.

The UN refugee agency urged authorities to crack down on smugglers and to expand safer, legal ways for refugees to reach Europe.

Hungarian police said they arrested 21 suspected human traffickers in Budapest: 16 Romanians, two Syrians, two Hungarians and a Russian citizen. Police said they confiscated 16 vehicles, which had been carrying 112 people, including several Syrians, travelling along the Balkans route into the European Union.

In Sicily, prosecutors detained 10 people on suspicion of smuggling and murder Friday for having allegedly crammed dozens of migrants into the airless hold of a boat where 52 bodies were found earlier this week.

The Swedish ship Poseidon rescued 439 people Wednesday but crew members made a grisly discovery when they looked in the hold. They ended up smashing the deck to reach the 52 corpses inside.

Palermo prosecutor Maurizio Scalia said the detained crew comprised seven Moroccans, two Syrians and a Libyan who was the “violent” enforcer of order on the ship. The migrants were mostly from sub-Saharan Africa: Sudan, Senegal, Nigeria but also Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The International Office of Migration said Greece has received more than 218,000 this year. It said up to 2,000 migrants are crossing every 24 hours from Greece into Macedonia and then into Serbia, with government resources under strain, and the office warned the flow could increase to over 3,000 daily.

Greece is a shorter sail from Turkey, with a nightly influx of hundreds of Syrian refugees. Thousands more make that trip daily in small, inflatable boats that aren’t designed for the open sea.

Greece’s coast guard said Friday it had rescued 665 people from 20 boats in the previous 24 hours. Hundreds more presumably made the trip.

Once in Greece or Italy, migrants still face long and dangerous journeys to their final destinations. From Greece, the primary route is by foot and train through Macedonia, Serbia and Hungary before heading to western Europe.

More than 1,000 people, including families with young children, gathered at Greece’s northern border with Macedonia on Friday, and scuffles broke out as they waited to cross. Several hundred had arrived the previous day and spent the chilly night in the open, lighting small fires to keep warm. Aid organizations were providing medical help, shelter, food and water, while volunteers had left clothes for those passing through. Most were from Syria and Afghanistan, while others were from Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Submit News to CKA News Singing federal civil servant placed on leave for scathing ?Harperman? song
Fri, 28 Aug 2015 15:18:09 EDT

An Environment Canada scientist who specializes in bird migrations has been placed on leave with pay after writing and performing a protest song calling for Stephen Harper to quit office.

Longtime federal employee Tony Turner was sent home last week after writing and performing “Harperman,” featured in a bouncy YouTube music video that accuses the Conservative leader of a litany of misdeeds and urges him to “get out of town.”

Harperman won an Ottawa-area folk song competition in the spring; the song was posted on YouTube in June.

The chorus of the song leaves no doubt about what Turner thinks of the Harper government.

It goes: “Time to move on, on, on/ Get out of town, town, town.”

Among other things, the lyrics of the hootenanny-style song accuse Harper of having a “smarmy smile,” being a “two-bit control freak,” muzzling scientists, suppressing press freedom, ignoring native people, disrespecting the environment, doling out “fat-cat jobs” to friends and ignoring “the cause of everything.”

Environment Canada spokesperson Mark Johnson said that it would be inappropriate to comment on any individual case “due to privacy and confidentiality concerns.”

“Compliance with the requirements of the ‘Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector’ is a condition of employment for every public servant in the federal public sector, regardless of their level or position,” Johnson added.

Supporters of the Harperman song are organizing a cross-Canada singalong of it Sept. 17, ahead of the federal election on Oct. 19.

They’re also selling souvenir T-shirts and bumper stickers.

As they prepare their singalong, the government is investigating whether Turner breached the public service’s ethics code for writing and performing the politically charged song.

Reached by email, Turner declined to comment, and referred all questions to the union representative.

Debi Daviau, president of The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, described Turner’s suspension as an attempt at “fear-mongering and intimidation” and a denial of his rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“This is par for the course for this government,” Daviau said.

“We are duly defending our member in the investigation,” she added.

Daviau noted that the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 1991 in Osborne vs. Treasury Board that civil servants can take part in political activity, if it doesn’t impede their ability to do their job impartially or leave a perception of compromise.

Daviau said she can’t see how Turner’s folk song impedes his impartiality in mapping bird migrations.

“It (the song) had no relation whatever to his duties as a public servant,” Daviau said.

“Our position is that we believe that Tony Turner hasn’t done anything wrong.

“He is simply expressing himself through a folk song like any other artist might do.”

In addition to his work as a scientist, Turner has been an Ottawa-area musician since 1994 when he joined Writers’ Bloc, an Ottawa songwriters’ collective.

Submit News to CKA News Alberta?s oilsands trade-off
Fri, 28 Aug 2015 15:00:00 EDT

It’s the biggest energy project in the world. Millions of barrels of thick tarry bitumen otherwise known as the Alberta oilsands are being dug up or melted with injected steam every day and shipped out as fast as a runaway train.

This is happening despite steep drops in the price of oil.

There have been significant layoffs in the past several months and, according to the Alberta government, the number of jobs could decline by 25 per cent if the oil price doesn’t recover soon. But thousands of workers have already moved to Alberta or commute across the country to get in on the high wages.

The industry is determined to ride out the storm and is convinced that prices will eventually recover.

“The view is that the market will rebalance in time,” Siren Fisekci, a vice-president for Canada Oil Sands, the major shareholder of longtime tarsands operator Syncrude, told the Star this week.

Pierre Marier, 48, is from the town of Hurkett just east of Thunder Bay in northern Ontario. For seven years he has been flying in to work as a welder or steamfitter for two-week stretches of 12-hour days. Then he flies home for two weeks.

“It’s easy to earn at least $100,000 a year,” he says.

Victor Sanchez, a 60-year-old pipefitter, has been working on the construction and maintenance of several immense oilsands projects for 17 years and earns $160,000 a year.

Megan Pashak, 30, has a psychology degree but she headed out two years ago as part of a passenger services team that flies hundreds of workers in and out of Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.’s (CNRL) private airstrip in northeastern Alberta every week.

She earns about $90,000 a year.

“I know this kind of job won’t go on forever,” she says. “But I am saving and that will help me a lot in the future.”

There’s no question that employment on the Alberta oilsands has been a magnet for thousands of people across the country, especially for regions with high unemployment such as Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. The Canadian Energy Research Institute estimates that this year alone, the oilsands will account for about 150,000 direct jobs.

And it’s those jobs, as well as the indirect employment such as manufacturing the mammoth trucks that prowl the mining sites, that have led to oilsands development becoming the key plank in the Harper government’s economic and industrial strategy.

But what are the costs of this massive employment and extraction project? Is it a trade-off that Canada may come to regret?

Large swaths of land have been deforested. Toxic tailings ponds are swelling; greenhouse gases are mushrooming. Aboriginal people have been ambushed by huge industrial projects in what they thought was their backyard.

And now, with the price of oil so low, this heralded industrial strategy is looking a little dubious. Coupled with increasing global concern about climate change and the possibility of higher carbon taxes to thwart the industry’s soaring greenhouse gas emissions, bitumen becomes an even riskier investment.

As well, several energy experts, including ones at the International Energy Agency, have made it clear that all the oil in the ground cannot be burned if we are to prevent the global temperature rising more than two degrees Celsius.

Stranded assets — oil left in the ground — are simply not part of the industry’s future plans. Rather, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) is forecasting that while the increase in bitumen production will be slower than originally planned because of the drop in oil prices, total bitumen production will rise during the next three years. That’s because plants currently under construction will come on stream and because oilsands plants can’t simply be shut down, CAPP argues.

“These are big industrial operations,” says Greg Stringham, a vice-president of CAPP. “You can’t simply turn them off … They are like factories. They have to be kept in operation because it’s so difficult to get them up and running again.”

As the train races ahead, the federal and Alberta governments have been only too happy to act as conductors, assuring passengers that despite the train’s lurches and shudders, everything is OK. Just hang on, they urge. It will be good for us; it will all work out.

Maybe. But in the meantime, this project has had enormous influence on economic, environmental and social policies that have affected Canadians across the country. And it all seems to have happened without much discussion in either Parliament or the Alberta legislature and without much input from people directly affected by this feverish development of the world’s third largest oil reserve.

It was only when the industry needed extensive pipelines to move the thick oil to refineries and markets offshore that the oilsands became a subject of widespread discussion and protest.

The Keystone XL Pipeline, which would ship diluted bitumen from Alberta through the Midwestern U.S. to refineries on the Gulf Coast, provoked significant opposition from American climate change activists. A pipeline that would normally receive speedy approval from a U.S. president is still waiting for the green light seven years later.

First Nations and environmentalists protested fiercely when Enbridge proposed building the Northern Gateway pipeline from northern Alberta through northern B.C. to Kitimat, where the diluted bitumen would be loaded onto supertankers. They argued an offshore spill would be catastrophic for coastal wildlife and communities because the industry has yet to figure out how to clean up diluted bitumen, which is much heavier than other crude oils and can separate and sink.

According to Nigel Bankes, chair of natural resources law at the University of Calgary, the most glaring example of the Harper government’s single-mindedness came on the eve of the National Energy Board’s public hearings into the Northern Gateway, when then natural resources minister Joe Oliver accused “environmentalists and other radical groups” of trying to undermine the economy.

“This was a direct attempt to undermine a legitimate public participation process before it even got started,” says Bankes.

The NEB and the federal government eventually approved the project, but it is caught up in a tangle of court cases and may not proceed.


The rapid proliferation of oilsands projects began in 1999 after the federal and Alberta governments carved out an agreement with the oilsands industry, giving developers huge breaks on income tax and royalties.

Anne McLellan was minister of natural resources in the Liberal government of Jean Chrétien and actively involved in the negotiations.

“We had no idea at the time that oilsands development would take off like it did,” she says during an interview in her Edmonton law office. “We were looking for a way to kick-start it … we were taking a risk … because at that time Canada really needed a boost to the economy.”

The tax breaks and the rising price of oil got the enormous mechanical shovels digging into the black muck much faster than anyone had anticipated. It also hastened the development of in-situ extraction, which injects steam deep into the earth to loosen the puck-hard bitumen so it can be pumped to the surface.

As the price of crude oil edged up and beyond $100 a barrel, the money grew so that by mid-2014, the Alberta government had leased 92,000 square kilometres of land (65 per cent of the oilsands region and an area more than 10 times the size of Greater Toronto) in the far reaches of northern Alberta without environmental assessment or consultation with First Nations communities.

If those consultations happen, they happen after corporations have invested millions in leases and preliminary exploration of the geology. By then, they have become key stakeholders as far the government is concerned.

From 1999 to 2007, production of bitumen increased almost fivefold to 1.4 million barrels a day. It now stands at 2.2 million barrels a day and the industry predicts production could almost double by 2030.

Oilsands development has been a pet project of the Alberta government since Peter Lougheed began as premier in the 1970s. And it has paid off. The oilsands now provide more government revenue than traditional oil and gas wells. Over the past decade, energy revenue accounted for about 30 per cent of total government revenues.

But unlike Norway, which also has an oil- and gas-fuelled economy and has managed to build a sovereign fund of almost $1 trillion, Alberta has saved only about $17 billion in its Heritage Savings Trust Fund.

The federal government has also benefited from oilsands tax revenues, but not to the same extent as Alberta. Nevertheless, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been a huge booster of the development as an economic driver for the whole country — so much so that the oilsands became a driver for key federal policies. His government reworked environment legislation so it is more aligned with Alberta’s much looser regulatory regime.

The federal government has repeatedly stalled policies to curtail and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The oilsands are the largest emitter in the country, with emissions forecast to go so high that they threaten to erase advances made by other jurisdictions to reduce their carbon footprint.

Harper has also steadfastly refused to intercede with First Nations groups grappling with pipeline development, even though the federal government has a long-standing relationship with First Nations as well as a responsibility for their well-being.

“The federal government should be contributing in a way that assures First Nations have the capacity to respond for themselves to these major developments,” says Nigel Bankes of the University of Calgary law faculty. “But they simply weren’t there for First Nations.”

In response, First Nations have launched myriad court cases that cost both parties millions of dollars. Some First Nations say they are willing to do whatever it takes to protect their territory.

The furious pace of oilsands development has also changed the labour market in Canada.

Between 2012 and 2013, for example, 52,700 people — many of them welders, pipefitters and engineers — moved to Alberta from other provinces, with almost half arriving from Ontario.

In 2006, shortly after Harper formed his first minority government, the Temporary Foreign Worker Program was ramped up to allow oilsands and construction companies to more easily bring in skilled trades people.

“The government was doing what the oilsands industry wanted,” says Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour. “It wanted to bring in migrant labour so it wouldn’t have to pay union wages.”

Not long after, employers at restaurants, hotels and industrial laundries asked for the same fast-tracking for low-skilled workers.

Thousands arrived from Mexico, the Philippines, India and China to fill the jobs. But they couldn’t quit and get another job if their employer mistreated them, and in some cases they received lower pay than Canadian workers performing the same jobs.

By 2012, Alberta had 68,000 temporary foreign workers — more per capita than any other province.

So who has benefited the most from the federal and Alberta governments’ policies and regulations in support of the oilsands?

Oil company profits are down because of the slide in oil prices, but Suncor — the biggest, oldest oilsands producer and owner of Petro-Canada gas stations — still managed to post a $2.7-billion profit for 2014. The year before, Suncor posted $3.9 billion in profit. In 2013, another big player, Canadian Natural Resources, also posted a $3.9-billion profit. Imperial Oil posted a $3.8-billion profit.

Investors have seen their share value increase year after year.

Several companies, such as Sinopec, Nexen and Brion Energy, are wholly owned by China so never release their financial results, but their profits will be heading straight to China.

What about the long-term costs? Mushrooming greenhouse gas emissions? Land destroyed by massive toxic tailings ponds? Rivers polluted and running dry? The growing resentment of First Nations people, who would like to get in on the wealth instead of being treated as in the way? And what about the billions in corporate profits that have left the country while our own savings fund stagnates?

The oilsands train has been gathering steam for a long time. Should it be turned around? Slowed down? Stopped altogether?

Only one thing is certain: the oilsands are no longer just a hinterland resource project. They have become a polarizing, sticky issue for Canadians from one end of the country to the other.

Submit News to CKA News Christine Elliott quits as Progressive Conservative MPP
Fri, 28 Aug 2015 12:52:00 EDT

Christine Elliott, runner-up to Patrick Brown in the May 9 Progressive Conservative leadership election, has quit provincial politics.

“Today, I am resigning as the MPP for Whitby-Oshawa, effective immediately,” Elliott said in a 123-word statement emailed to reporters Friday by her son, Galen Flaherty.

“While I put my name forward to lead our party, party members made a different choice. I fully respect our members’ decision and I wish my colleagues and the party every success in the future,” her statement said.

“This decision was not easy. I entered public life in 2006 to advocate for the rights of vulnerable people and their families. Although my role will change, I remain committed to advocating for a fully inclusive Ontario where all people can live lives of purpose and dignity,” said the co-founder of Whitby’s Abilities Centre.

“It has been an honour to represent the people of Whitby-Oshawa. I would like to thank all the voters, colleagues, friends, and family who have supported me throughout the years.”

Elliott — widow of former federal finance minister Jim Flaherty, who died on April 10, 2014, and mother of grown triplet sons — is well-respected in all three caucuses at Queen’s Park.

Premier Kathleen Wynne said Elliott “acted in the best interests of the people she represented and would work with anyone, regardless of political stripe, to bring positive change to her community and province.

“In the legislature, Ms. Elliott could be the fiercest of adversaries in debate. She was passionate, but never personal. Her regard for Queen’s Park and its elected members made her one of the most respected MPPs in the house,” the premier said in a statement.

Wynne praised her “as a fervent defender of our strong public health-care and education systems, and an ardent advocate for persons with disabilities.”

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said she would “miss the presence of such a strong fellow female voice in the legislature.”

“Although we didn’t always agree on politics, I have tremendous respect for her efforts in the legislature and in her community, particularly to empower Ontarians with disabilities,” Horwath said in a statement.

“Christine always conducted herself with dignity and intelligence. By her example she inspired young women to get involved in politics.”

Elliott’s departure, however, is hardly a surprise. She finished third in the 2009 PC leadership won by Tim Hudak and was the heavy favourite going into last spring’s race.

And this spring, 37-year-old Brown won the leadership by a decisive margin of 61.8 per cent to 38.2 per cent — despite her having the overwhelming support of Tory MPPs in the divisive 10-month contest.

The 60-year-old never returned to the legislature after his victory.

“I am confident that Progressive Conservatives will unite behind Patrick’s leadership,” the centrist Elliott had said in a statement on May 9.

While Brown, seen as more right wing, had reached out to her numerous times this summer, sources said the two rivals communicated only by text or email, not in person or by phone.

Her exit comes as the former Barrie MP is hoping to win a seat in the legislature in Thursday’s Simcoe North byelection.

In a separate statement, Brown thanked Elliot “for her years of service to her constituents of Whitby-Oshawa and for her contributions to the party.”

“Christine has been a tireless advocate for her constituents and Ontario and an esteemed member of our caucus,” he said.

“We appreciate her well wishes and in turn wish her the best as she embarks on this next chapter of her life.”

Submit News to CKA News Canada?s wild digital frontier needs policing
Wed, 09 Feb 2011 03:08:26 Z
John Ivison: The copyright bill has a number of provisions that are far less favourable to Canada’s performers and creators, who are about to see take a big hit to their pocket-books
Submit News to CKA News Election buzz, stale rhetoric ? Parliament has deja vu all over again
Tue, 01 Feb 2011 11:42:28 Z
John Ivison: If you missed Question Period Monday, don’t worry — you have a golden opportunity to miss it again Tuesday
Submit News to CKA News Death of Personal Responsibility: Think outside the lunchbox
Thu, 27 Jan 2011 14:50:39 Z
Neil Seeman: So what should the role of the state be in combating obesity? It’s time to think outside of the lunchbox, and try a whole new idea: healthy living vouchers, or HLVs
Submit News to CKA News Don?t give Quebec a nickel
Wed, 26 Jan 2011 23:57:55 Z
Jonathan Kay: If Harper says no to the Bloc's demands, he will be going to the voters as a man of principle who stood his ground on a subject far more important to this country than corporate tax rates
Submit News to CKA News Stelmach more than a victim of changing attitudes
Wed, 26 Jan 2011 03:38:13 Z
Kevin Libin: Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach bet the fortune of his party’s unparalleled political dynasty on a leadership strategy that failed to pan out
Submit News to CKA News Dave Taylor a mixed blessing for fledgling Alberta Party
Tue, 25 Jan 2011 02:34:30 Z
Kevin Libin: The addition of former Liberal MLA Dave Taylor to the Alberta party gives it a legitimacy boost, but does the outspoken former radio personality fit with the party's post-partisan dreams?
Submit News to CKA News Playing by China's rules
Sun, 23 Jan 2011 19:21:17 Z
Rex Murphy: China has reached an agreement with the Newfoundland government to begin the importation of seal and seal products into its potentially vast market. This is both very good and rare news for Newfoundland sealers
Submit News to CKA News Canada: Nanny AND wimpy state?
Thu, 20 Jan 2011 20:08:14 Z
Before, there actually had to be a violent protest before public institutions caved in and cancelled controversial events. Now, a group of unhinged zealots make a couple of angry phone calls and – poof! – they silence free speech and free assembly
Submit News to CKA News Executives probably not swayed by Liberal tax plan
Tue, 18 Jan 2011 23:54:00 Z
Scott Stinson: It’s a safe bet that Mr. Ignatieff did not win many converts with his tax-increase sales pitch to Canadian executives on Tuesday. This is not a great surprise
Submit News to CKA News Conservatives missed the call for more civilized debate
Mon, 17 Jan 2011 19:58:11 Z
Kelly McParland: The federal Conservatives’ brain trust must have been somewhere else when President Barack Obama delivered his speech in Arizona last week, calling for greater civility in political debate.
Submit News to CKA News Harper's five years: Canadians better off, even if they don't feel it
Sat, 15 Jan 2011 13:21:36 Z
John Ivison: Jan. 23 marks the fifth anniversary of Stephen Harper’s 2006 election victory and in early February, he will pass Lester B. Pearson’s time in office to become Canada’s 11th longest-serving Prime Minister

Sources:

If you have a suggestions for additional news sources to be added to the CKA Canada Newswatch, please contact us.