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.


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

Daily Canada Newswatch

Submit News to CKA News A gay utopia in Weimar-era Berlin: Book review
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 19:07:39 +0000

Author Robert Beachy explores Berlin's gay culture and sexually liberal history

The post A gay utopia in Weimar-era Berlin: Book review appeared first on Macleans.ca.

Submit News to CKA News Ontario man throws Christmas tree at wife during domestic dispute
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 13:50:00 -0500
A man has been charged after police say he threw a Christmas tree at his wife during a domestic dispute south of Barrie, Ont.
Submit News to CKA News Man arrested after three-year-old child hit in the face and abandoned at Surrey bus stop
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 18:45:01 Z
RCMP say they have made an arrest after receiving reports that a three-year-old boy was struck in the face and abandoned at a bus stop in Surrey.
Submit News to CKA News Canadian man shot after allegedly pointing handgun at U.S. border guards at Detroit-Windsor crossing
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 18:43:42 +0000
U.S. Customs and Border Protection says the man, who it hasn?t identified, was treated and released from hospital before being taken into custody
Submit News to CKA News Canadian convicted in major credit card scheme ordered to repay $1.5-million
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 13:16:45 -0500
Adekunle Adetiloye is appealing the ruling that was made earlier this month by a U.S. District judge
Submit News to CKA News Earthquakes detected off B.C. coast
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 18:10:15 Z
There was a 4.3 magnitude earthquake off the coast of B.C. on Saturday afternoon.
Submit News to CKA News BlackBerry looks to autos, connected homes on its road to recovery
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 13:08:28 -0500
BlackBerry is hoping not only to return to the hearts and minds of smartphone users but, starting next year, the company wants to get into their cars and homes too.
Submit News to CKA News 'Disgusting' scammer uses B.C. teen's cancer story to solicit donations
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 13:05:00 -0500
Police say a social media fraudster is using a B.C. teen's cancer story to scam people out of charitable donations online.
Submit News to CKA News Canadian shot by U.S. border guards at Ambassador Bridge crossing
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 13:04:04 EST

DETROIT—The U.S. border agency says a Canadian man was shot after allegedly pointing a handgun at guards at the Ambassador Bridge crossing between Windsor, Ont., and Detroit.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection says in a statement the man stopped his car before the U.S. inspection booth around 3 a.m. Sunday and starting walking towards border officers while waving a gun.

It says the officers ordered him to drop the weapon but that he then pointed it in the officers’ direction, prompting them to open fire.

The agency says the man, who it hasn’t identified, was treated and released from hospital before being arrested.

It says the man has had “previous encounters” with Canadian law enforcement.

The statement says border and Department of Homeland Security officials are investigating along with Detroit police.

Spokesman Kris Grogan says no additional information will be released at this time.

Submit News to CKA News Ooh la la: Victoria leads way on French immersion
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 17:58:59 Z
Enrolment in French immersion has been climbing at B.C. schools for the past 16 years, but nobody has taken to it like students in the Greater Victoria school district.
Submit News to CKA News Canadian man shot, wounded by U.S. border guards after allegedly pointing gun at them
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 12:38:07 -0500
U.S. Customs and Border Protection says in a statement officers ordered him to drop the weapon but he instead pointed it in the officers? direction
Submit News to CKA News Federal polls show race is tightening?but it?s not clear why
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 17:34:46 +0000

'In most cases the pollsters themselves don't have granular enough soundings of public opinion to be making those judgments'

The post Federal polls show race is tightening?but it’s not clear why appeared first on Macleans.ca.

Submit News to CKA News Canadian man shot by U.S. guards at Detroit border crossing
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 12:31:00 -0500
The U.S. border agency says a Canadian man was shot after allegedly pointing a handgun at guards at the Ambassador Bridge crossing between Windsor, Ont., and Detroit.
Submit News to CKA News North Vancouver Mounties seek hit-and-run driver after pedestrian struck
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 17:22:22 Z
North Vancouver Mounties are looking for a driver after a 55-year-old woman crossing the street in a crosswalk was hit by a van Saturday night.
Submit News to CKA News Year in Pictures: Conflict and protests
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 16:47:30 +0000

The best snaps of global conflict and protests from our Week in Pictures series

The post Year in Pictures: Conflict and protests appeared first on Macleans.ca.

Submit News to CKA News Pakistan makes arrests in school massacre
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 11:19:00 -0500
Pakistani authorities made several arrests in the case of the Taliban school attack that killed 148 in the northwestern city of Peshawar, officials said Sunday.
Submit News to CKA News Boy, 3, abandoned at bus stop in Surrey, B.C.
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 11:01:00 -0500
RCMP say a three-year-old boy was struck in the face and abandoned at a bus stop in Surrey, B.C.
Submit News to CKA News #VanSun360 Instagram winners: Decisive moment
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 15:59:09 Z
Legions of photographers have used the “decisive moment” as one of the foundation concepts for their work and the concept is alive and well in Vancouver. The great and famous French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson has been tagged with making it a popular concept.
Submit News to CKA News Agnes Cadieux: A society of frazzled givers
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 15:47:38 Z
It starts out the same every year, the excitement of the first evergreens and red ribbons adorning stores and streets and neighbourhoods. The wreaths on the doors are symbols of hope and life. But for many of us, the Christmas season has strayed from that to a hectic, stressful gift-giving competition. This identification of the season with […]
Submit News to CKA News The celebrity, the activist and the exile
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 15:39:30 Z
This holiday season, you could actually convince yourself you like books on politics – by starting with Justin Trudeau’s Common Ground; moving on to Elizabeth May’s Who We Are; and ending with Brent Rathgeber’s Irresponsible Government.
Submit News to CKA News Luka Magnotta trial jury deliberations: What's taking so long? - CBC.ca
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 15:32:24 GMT

CBC.ca

Luka Magnotta trial jury deliberations: What's taking so long?
CBC.ca
With the jury deliberations in the Luka Magnotta murder trial entering the sixth day, it's not clear whether jurors are taking their time parsing the complexities of determining whether the 32-year-old was in his right mind when he killed university student Jun Lin ...
Jurors in Magnotta trial spending sixth day trying to reach a verdictHumboldt Journal

all 256 news articles »
Submit News to CKA News Police officer shot and killed in Florida
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 10:25:57 EST

TARPON SPRINGS, FLA.—Florida authorities say a police officer was shot and killed in Tarpon Springs early Sunday.

The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said in a statement that the shooting occurred at around 3 a.m. in the Tampa Bay-area city and that a suspect has been arrested.

Authorities say the suspect fled the scene of the shooting in a vehicle and crashed into a pole and another vehicle. He was then apprehended by police at that location.

The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said the officer was a member of the Tarpon Springs Police Department, though no names have been released.

The statement says a news conference is to be held later today.

Submit News to CKA News Marijuana still preferred drug in Canadian army, while cocaine gains ground - CBC.ca
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 15:21:01 GMT

CBC.ca

Marijuana still preferred drug in Canadian army, while cocaine gains ground
CBC.ca
Marijuana remains the drug of choice for members of the Canadian army, based on the Force's latest blind drug testing report that also found cocaine is gaining popularity among some members. The report, done between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2013, found the ...

and more »
Submit News to CKA News Cabinet post for former Wildrose leader? No promises, says Prentice
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 10:07:00 -0500
Alberta Premier Jim Prentice says he has not promised former Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith a cabinet post, days after she led a historic floor crossing of Wildrose MLAs to the Progressive Conservatives.
Submit News to CKA News Florida police officer shot to death, suspect in custody
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 10:04:00 -0500
Florida authorities say a police officer was shot and killed in Tarpon Springs early Sunday.
Submit News to CKA News What we lost?and found?in 2014
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 14:55:09 +0000

Who disappeared, who reappeared, and who vanished without a trace

The post What we lost?and found?in 2014 appeared first on Macleans.ca.

Submit News to CKA News Newsmakers: animal edition
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 14:52:53 +0000

Which members of the wild kingdom made global headlines this year?

The post Newsmakers: animal edition appeared first on Macleans.ca.

Submit News to CKA News Lingo: The words and expressions that had us buzzing in 2014
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 14:49:29 +0000

What we were all saying this year

The post Lingo: The words and expressions that had us buzzing in 2014 appeared first on Macleans.ca.

Submit News to CKA News Looking back on a watershed year for women in pop music
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 14:48:58 +0000

How Taylor Swift and Beyonce took the zeitgeist and shifted it

The post Looking back on a watershed year for women in pop music appeared first on Macleans.ca.

Submit News to CKA News Bulletin came too late to warn 2 NYPD officers fatally shot in broad daylight
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 09:46:00 -0500
The warning came just moments too late: A man who had shot his ex-girlfriend a few hours earlier had travelled to New York City and vowed online to shoot two "pigs" in retaliation for the police chokehold death of Eric Garner.
Submit News to CKA News Elton John, David Furnish get married
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 09:36:23 EST

LONDON—Entertainer Elton John and longtime partner David Furnish have officially converted their civil partnership into a marriage.

The ceremony took place exactly nine years after they entered into a civil partnership.

The couple was able to marry under new laws that took effect in England earlier this year.

John had earlier tweeted about their plans and Sunday posted a photo on Instagram showing them getting ready to sign official papers.

“That’s the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!” the couple wrote on their posting.

They planned a celebration at their estate near Windsor Castle west of London. An A-list crowd is expected.

The singer has praised England for changing its laws to allow same-sex marriage. He said the wedding would be a joyous occasion shared with their children.

Submit News to CKA News Soldiers murdered on home soil chosen as Canada?s Newsmaker of the Year
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 09:36:06 -0500
Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Cpl. Nathan Cirillo?s senseless murders shook the country
Submit News to CKA News Garth Drabinsky prepares for Act 3
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 09:00:00 EST

Garth Drabinsky had spent his 63rd and 64th birthdays in jail. But for his 65th birthday this year, the mood was decidedly upbeat and festive.

On the last Sunday of October, about 45 of his nearest and dearest gathered for a lunch in his honour at the fashionable Soho Club in Toronto’s Entertainment District. Among them were his wife, Elizabeth Winford, other family members and loyal old friends who have stuck by him throughout the nightmare that began in 1998 with the shocking collapse of his theatre empire.

The theme of the party was “the best is yet to come.” That’s a reference to a spectacular comeback Drabinsky is determined to orchestrate, with plans to produce several Broadway musicals being crafted by award-winning New York writers.

Two well-connected allies have key roles in Drabinsky’s dream of making that slogan come true with a triumphant third act — meant to match his earlier peaks as CEO of Cineplex in the 1980s and founding boss of Livent in the 1990s.

One is Richard Stursberg, the controversial former head of the CBC’s English-language operations, who is expected to play a leadership role recruiting investors for new shows while Drabinsky takes the modest title of creative director.

The other key supporter is the birthday boy’s kid brother, Cyril, who has made a fortune in the film processing business and used it to enable Garth and his wife to continue living the high life in Forest Hill and Muskoka despite his troubles. Cyril flew in from New York, where he now lives and works, to attend the party.

Clearly, Garth — who served 17 months in prison after being convicted in 2009 of fraud and forgery in connection with the 1998 collapse of Livent — has no intention of living the rest of his life quietly on the sidelines.

Instead, he is reaching for the top of the showbiz heap again, after being expelled twice from the mogul club. His first term in power ended when he was exiled from his Cineplex movie empire in 1989 after losing boardroom battles. His second term, as a high-flying impresario in commercial theatre, ended with the 1998 collapse of Livent amid revelations of a financial meltdown.

Among the projects Drabinsky is currently pursuing:

  • A stage musical based on the 1988 movie Madame Sousatzka (which Drabinsky produced with Shirley MacLaine in the title role). It is being adapted for the stage by Richard Maltby, who earned a Tony nomination for directing Fosse (produced by Drabinsky just as Livent was collapsing). According to the New York Post’s Michael Riedel, Drabinsky has already booked Toronto’s Elgin Theatre for a pre-Broadway run.
  • Amelie, about the same charming and scheming young woman depicted in the 2001 French movie. To write the script, Drabinsky has chosen playwright Craig Lucas, who earned Tony nominations for Prelude to a Kiss and The Light in the Piazza. Drabinsky and Lucas are also said to be planning a show called Hard Times, inspired by the Stephen Foster song.
  • Throughout his career, Drabinsky was famous for his bombastic, self-promotional style. But now, even while talking to friends, writers, actors and business partners about his big plans, he is trying to avoid publicity. (He did not respond to a phone message asking for details of his current projects.)

    At the hearing that led to full parole, granted in February, Drabinsky said there was no chance to would ever again run a company, build an empire or handle other people’s money. Instead, he would limit his role to working on the creative side, which he told the Corrections Canada parole board he was doing as a consultant.

    Given Drabinsky’s combative style, explosive temper and aggressive conduct during his days at Cineplex and Livent, some may be surprised that in a new showbiz venture he would be content to stay on the sidelines concerning financial matters.

    Stursberg could give Drabinsky’s projects a needed boost. During his stints running Telefilm Canada and the CBC’s English TV and radio networks, Stursberg acquired some powerful and wealthy allies. And in the eyes of potential backers, he could provide a measure of credibility, especially if he is investing his own money.

    Stursberg has worked with Drabinsky before. When he was at CBC, Stursberg took a chance by putting Drabinsky’s entertaining talent-contest show Triple Sensation on TV in prime time — and was pleased with the results. In 2008, Triple Sensation was nominated for a Gemini Award. Later, in The Tower of Babble, his provocative 2012 memoir about the CBC, Stursberg referred to Drabinsky as “a great mogul.”

    (Stursberg refused to be interviewed for this article.)

    Some veteran Garth-watchers will find in Drabinsky’s future plans alarming echoes of a recent misadventure: the ill-fated Capital One BlackCreek Summer Music Festival at the Rexall Centre, which arrived with fanfare in the summer of 2011. BlackCreek had all the features of a classic Drabinsky phenomenon: huge ambition, high risk, big-name stars and alarming costs.

    Drabinsky was modestly billed as the program director, while Kevin Albrecht was identified as the boss of the operation.

    Plagued by many problems, including stormy weather, big prices, empty seats, parking chaos and its location in a tennis facility, BlackCreek crashed within months of being launched. Its sudden death, like that of Livent years earlier, came as a stunning blow to suppliers, performers and technicians who had a stake in it.

    Only weeks later, Drabinsky landed in jail.

    It had taken 13 years for Drabinsky to pay the price for the Livent fiasco. Then in September 2011, there was an unforgettable weekend that took him from the sublime to the horrendous. On Saturday he and his wife quaffed champagne at an exclusive lunch followed by the world premiere of his movie Barrymore at TIFF. On Monday, he went to jail.

    After serving less than 30 per cent his five-year sentence, he was released in February 2013 on day parole, which meant he had to sleep nightly at a halfway house. In January 2014, he was granted full parole and will continue to be on parole until the fall of 2016.

    Since emerging from jail, Drabinsky has been fighting on many fronts to salvage whatever trappings of prestige he can. After being notified he was being stripped of his Order of Canada, he is continuing the legal fight, even after a federal court ruled against him. He is also appealing the decision of the Law Society of Upper Canada to disbar him and facing a battle with the Ontario Securities Commission as well.

    Considering all the crushing blows he has had, it’s amazing Drabinsky has the strength, self-confidence, optimism and determination to carry on.

    How does he keep going? The answer appears to be: with more than a little help from his friends, especially affluent and prominent figures who bonded with him back when he was riding high.

    One telling detail that emerged during his parole hearings was that Drabinsky had received loans of more than $7 million from friends: none of whom, he assured the parole board, is looking for repayment anytime soon.

    The fallen mogul’s most important benefactor throughout his troubles has been his brother, Cyril, whose showbiz fortunes rose spectacularly even while his older brother’s were spiralling down.

    How did Cyril acquire wealth and power while Garth was losing both? When Garth was CEO of Cineplex Odeon in the 1980s, he chose Cyril to run Film House laboratories, its wholly owned film-processing subsidiary in Toronto. In 1990, the year after Garth was forced out of Cineplex, the Rank Organization purchased both Film House and the prestigious Hollywood film processing company Deluxe Laboratories (formerly a division of 20th Century Fox).

    At that point Cyril segued into Deluxe.

    In 2006, Deluxe was acquired by MacAndrews & Forbes. Its chair and CEO, New York tycoon Ronald O. Perelman, who controls many other companies including Revlon, named Cyril Drabinsky president and CEO of Deluxe Entertainment Services Group. Under his watch the company has been hugely successful, using digital technology to manage and distribute for film and TV companies. Cyril was recently promoted to chair of Deluxe.

    Along the way, the tale of the Drabinsky brothers and their role reversal is as gripping as the one told in the current hit movie Foxcatcher. Cyril has made it possible for Garth to launch a comeback while continuing to enjoy the lifestyle of the rich and famous, which includes such perks as a luxury car and a lavish country retreat not far from the Corrections Canada cell he occupied at Gravenhurst.

    Last weekend Drabinsky was a guest at another glittery lunch. The occasion was a reunion of the cast of Livent’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, which opened in 1992 at Toronto’s Elgin Theatre and toured North America for years. The reunion was triggered by the fact that Donny Osmond, the original star, was in Toronto appearing in a show with his sister, Marie Osmond.

    The performers were abuzz with hopes that Drabinsky’s return to the front lines of showbiz would mean lots of work for them in the near future. There was even talk of a hoped-for new concert version of Joseph that Drabinsky might stage for one week in Toronto, with Donny Osmond back in the starring role.

    In the epic tale of Garth Drabinsky’s ups and downs, this season marked not only the relentless mogul’s 65th birthday but another major anniversary. It’s 25 years since he unveiled the magnificently restored Pantages Theatre (now renamed the Ed Mirvish Theatre) with the Canadian premiere of The Phantom of the Opera, which went on to run for a record 10 years. For almost a decade, Phantom and Joseph were enough to make up for Livent’s many failures — until they weren’t.

    Three years later he has re-emerged, as determined as ever to fly (to quote the title of his 1995 autobiography) closer to the sun. And it’s safe to say that no matter what happens, the third act of this saga won’t be boring.

    mknelman@thestar.ca

    Submit News to CKA News Elton John and David Furnish marry in England
    Sun, 21 Dec 2014 13:59:46 +0000

    A-list crowd expected to celebrate at couple's estate near Windsor castle

    The post Elton John and David Furnish marry in England appeared first on Macleans.ca.

    Submit News to CKA News U.S. considers returning North Korea to state sponsors of terrorism list
    Sun, 21 Dec 2014 08:58:31 EST

    HONOLULU—The United States is reviewing whether to put North Korea back onto its list of state sponsors of terrorism, President Barack Obama said as the U.S. decides how to respond to the cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment that law enforcement has blamed on the communist nation.

    Obama described the hacking case as a “very costly, very expensive” example of cybervandalism, but did not call it an act of war. In trying to fashion a proportionate response, the president said the U.S. would examine the facts to determine whether North Korea should find itself back on the terrorism sponsors list.

    “We’re going to review those through a process that’s already in place,” Obama told CNN’s “State of the Union” in an interview to air Sunday. “I’ll wait to review what the findings are.”

    North Korea spent two decades on the list until the Bush administration removed it in 2008 during nuclear negotiations. Some lawmakers have called for the designation to be restored following the hack that led Sony to cancel the release of a big-budget film that North Korea found offensive.

    Only Iran, Sudan, Syria and Cuba remain on the list, which triggers sanctions that limit U.S. aid, defence exports and certain financial transactions.

    But adding North Korea back could be difficult. To meet the criteria, the State Department must determine that a country has repeatedly supported acts of international terrorism, a definition that traditionally has referred to violent, physical attacks rather than hacking.

    Obama also levelled fresh criticism against Sony over its decision to shelve “The Interview,” despite the company’s insistence that its hand was forced after movie theatres refused to show it.

    While professing sympathy for Sony’s situation, Obama suggested he might have been able to help address the problem if given the chance.

    “You know, had they talked to me directly about this decision, I might have called the movie theatre chains and distributors and asked them what that story was,” Obama said.

    Sony’s CEO has disputed that the company never reached out, saying he spoke to a senior White House adviser about the situation before Sony announced the decision. White House officials said Sony did discuss cybersecurity with the federal government, but that the White House was never consulted on the decision not to distribute the film.

    “Sometimes this is a matter of setting a tone and being very clear that we’re not going to be intimidated by some, you know, cyberhackers,” Obama said. “And I expect all of us to remember that and operate on that basis going forward.”

    North Korea has denied hacking the studio, and on Saturday proposed a joint investigation with the U.S. to determine the true culprit. The White House rejected the idea and said it was confident North Korea was responsible.

    But the next decision — how to respond — is hanging over the president as he vacations with his family in Hawaii.

    Obama’s options are limited. The U.S. already has trade penalties in place and there is no appetite for military action.

    Submit News to CKA News ?Flashlight baby? thriving after birth during ice storm
    Sun, 21 Dec 2014 08:18:19 EST

    Baby Pearson took one look at the GTA’s wicked winter last year and seemingly decided to hibernate.

    The baby born by flashlight during last December’s crippling ice storm, now a healthy 1-year-old, spent the first three months of his life sleeping up to 21 hours a day, according to his mom, Paula Mbonda.

    “Pearson went into a bit of hibernation for the first three months,” said Mbonda. “He was among the sleepiest babies my midwife has ever seen. We were sort of wondering what’s going on. He slept for 21 hours a day for the first three months. But he kept meeting all the milestones.”

    The infant would snooze anywhere — at home in his mother’s arms, in his cradle, and even at the hockey arena while his older brothers played.

    “We always joke that maybe the cold arena was what felt like home to him so he could easily fall asleep there,” said Mbonda. “We wondered if his personality would be quieter or more passive in any way, but it’s not, he’s active and fun.”

    Pearson’s entry into the world — one of many stories of triumph and tragedy to emerge from the ice storm —was far from the bucolic, sleepy-baby calm that characterized his first months.

    Mbonda woke up around 3:15 a.m. on Dec. 22 experiencing contractions.

    It was the peak of the devastating storm that paralyzed the GTA and would see more than a million people without power, including large buildings and institutions like the hospital where Mbonda planned to deliver her baby.

    She and her husband, Al, phoned their midwife, who told them the hospital had been hit by the blackout. All of the roads had been coated in a thick layer of ice as 20-30 mm of freezing rain fell on the GTA.

    They left their Pickering home and slowly, carefully got Mbonda to Rouge Valley Ajax and Pickering Hospital, where staff would deliver Pearson by flashlight.

    “The drive itself was so, so scary,” said Mbonda in an interview with the Star.

    Looking back, Mbonda says she wishes she had considered home birth more seriously in the event of an emergency.

    “That’s the lesson — that I believe in midwifery and I wonder if I should have considered home birth to not have the risk of that drive,” said Mbonda.

    Pearson’s pedigree has made him a bit of a celebrity in the parenting groups that Mbonda attends. She said for many, the news of a baby being born during the ice storm gave them hope. She just needs to give them his birth date and they recall their time in the dark.

    “A lot of people identify with that time and heard our story when they got power,” said Mbonda. “Then they start retelling me their story. It seems like his birth initiates the stories that they went through.”

    A neighbour gave Mbonda a gift to commemorate how Pearson came into the world — a small Lego baby Velcroed to a flashlight.

    “It’s a nice little reminder as he’s the flashlight baby,” said Mbonda.

    Submit News to CKA News Slain soldiers Cirillo, Vincent voted CP Newsmaker of the Year - CTV News
    Sun, 21 Dec 2014 13:12:01 GMT

    CTV News

    Slain soldiers Cirillo, Vincent voted CP Newsmaker of the Year
    CTV News
    TORONTO -- Two Canadians killed in cold blood on home soil for simply wearing a soldier's uniform have been selected the country's Newsmaker of the Year for 2014. Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, whose senseless murders in ...
    Cpl. Cirillo, Warrant Officer Vincent named CP's newsmakers of the yearCP24 Toronto's Breaking News
    YEAR-Newsmaker-QuotesBay Today
    Canadian Press names slayings of soldiers 'Newsmaker of 2014'Newstalk 1010

    all 10 news articles »
    Submit News to CKA News Obama weighs returning North Korea to list of terror sponsors over 'cybervandalism'
    Sun, 21 Dec 2014 07:36:00 -0500
    President Barack Obama says the United States is reviewing whether to put North Korea back on its list of state sponsors of terrorism as Washington decides how to respond to what he calls an "act of cybervandalism."
    Submit News to CKA News Oswald Kicks Off Leadership Campaign - CJOB
    Sun, 21 Dec 2014 11:57:07 GMT

    CJOB

    Oswald Kicks Off Leadership Campaign
    CJOB
    Theresa Oswald's bid to take the title of Premier away from Greg Selinger has begun. The former Health Minister officially launches her NDP leadership campaign Sunday afternoon at the Jonathan Toews Community Centre after she submitted her nomination ...
    Theresa Oswald announces bid for NDP leadershipWinnipeg Free Press
    Former Education Minister backs Oswald in NDP raceCTV News
    Rebel Five did right: 52% of ManitobansWinnipeg Sun
    CBC.ca
    all 123 news articles »
    Submit News to CKA News Photos: Canucks beat Flames
    Sun, 21 Dec 2014 06:04:16 Z
    It took them more than 60 minutes -- 60 minutes and 18 seconds, to be exact -- but the Canucks finally ended their losing skid with a 3-2 overtime win over the Calgary Flames.
    Submit News to CKA News A new reality for Toronto?s bathhouses
    Sun, 21 Dec 2014 00:01:00 EST

    Come New Year’s Eve, 250 men will gather for a hot meal and celebration at Spa Excess, one of the city’s foremost bathhouses.

    The festive meal comes complete with all the trimmings you’d expect of a celebratory feast over the holiday season: white and dark turkey, mashed and roast potatoes, cranberry sauce, salad, cookies, white and chocolate cake.

    And, at midnight, champagne.

    After 16 years in business, it’s tradition, said president and director Robert Knight.

    “It’s so popular and so wonderful an evening, because a lot of people are alone and not many people come as a couple,” said Knight, who co-owns Spa Excess with his treasurer, secretary and life partner, Michael Dorman. “It’s become like one big, huge family.”

    But the meal isn’t just an opportunity to gather and break bread; it’s a small sign of more significant changes that today’s bathhouses have had to make to remain relevant.

    Bathhouses date back to the Roman Empire, initially built to maintain hygiene in major cities. By the late 1950s and ’60s, as the need for a public place to wash up declined, bathhouses began drawing crowds by offering a discreet place for gay men to meet and have sex in a time when sodomy was still a crime. Bathhouses saw their heyday in the 1970s, before being vilified in the 1980s during the AIDS epidemic.

    Today, bathhouses face new challenges. The rising acceptance of homosexuality and the growing number of gay dating websites and hook-up apps are endangering the once-booming businesses.

    The Associated Press reported earlier this year that Damron, the publisher of an annual gay travel guide, found the number of bathhouses across the U.S. dropped from nearly 200 in the late 1970s to about 90 by 1990. In the last decade, the number of bathhouses nationwide dropped to 70 following closures in San Diego, Syracuse, Seattle and San Antonio.

    In Canada, bathhouses are concentrated in Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto. The industry in Toronto has been tested more than once, most notably on Feb. 5, 1981, when police raided four of the city’s biggest operations. Close to 300 men were rounded up and herded into bathhouse lobbies, with the majority being apprehended in one of the country’s largest mass arrests.

    The raids prompted thousands to take to the city’s streets in protest that winter; the following spring, the city held its first Pride parade. Toronto was the first North American city to host WorldPride this year, more than three decades after the raids.

    At Spa Excess, Knight said business is still going strong. “We’ve always been a bathhouse city, for years and years and years,” he said.

    Spa Excess welcomes 9,000 to 10,000 men a month, mostly middle aged and older, but age groups overlap, Knight said. “That doesn’t mean there are not young people, but the majority of people fall into the older demographic.”

    Knight said he’s seen a handful of bathhouses — The Barracks, the Spa on Maitland, Club Toronto, St. Marc Spa and Bijou — go out of business in Toronto since he opened Spa Excess in late 1998. But others have also moved to the city, namely two chains: Steamworks Baths and Central Spa.

    The city’s big-name bathhouses, he said, still see a lot of business, as do locations in other Canadians cities. The difference between bathhouses in Toronto and some of the ones facing closure in the United States is hospitality, Knight said.

    “Typically, (American) owners put just enough money in to take money out. It’s not every bathhouse, but many don’t offer decent customer service,” Knight said. “A lot of them are seedy. A lot of them have been taken over by drug dealers and users.”

    At Spa Excess, Knight, Dorman and their late partner Peter Bochove have always focused on keeping their bathhouse upscale. Their location on Carlton St. offers free WiFi, clean towels, a licensed lounge, a pool table, tanning beds, a sundeck, a whirlpool and massages.

    “It’s a retreat. We encourage our guests to come here and get away from the real world,” Knight said. “You have to accommodate all of the customers and what their needs are.”

    Growing hospitality in the bathhouse industry is the same trend seen in coffee shops, hotels and gyms, said Chris Srnicek, owner of the bathhouse chain Central Spa and the president of the North American Bathhouse Association’s board.

    The majority of bathhouses now offer free WiFi, extra linens, towel swaps and cheap tanning, he said. At Central Spa, which has four locations across Ontario including one in Hamilton and another on Dundas St. W, Srnicek follows the lead of night clubs by offering theme and specialty nights.

    “Our stronger establishments partner with local sports organizations, DJs and party promoters to create new ideas all the time. We also offer discounted entry fees at different times of the week,” he wrote in an email to the Star.

    The U.S. bathhouse business was antagonized by governments, public health officials and local politicians in the late 1980 and early ’90s, which made it tough for any bathhouse to operate, Srnicek said. The U.S. industry did decline, he agreed.

    In Canada during the same period, officials were more cautious, he said. Fewer clients passed through the doors, but owners were still able to invest in their facilities.

    “Toronto has been able to maintain so many bathhouse since it’s a large city, and pretty open-minded,” Srnicek said.

    Still, like businesses in almost every sector, technology is creating strong new competition, in this case from apps such as Grindr and online dating sites such as gay.com.

    John Brodhagen, general manager of Steamworks, said they see thousands of clients a month but apps have still affected business. He encourages clients use his bathhouse on Church St. for get-togethers, so they don’t have to give out their home address. “Our platform is that we have staff here 24 hours a day,” he said. “Even if you’re going to cruise online, it’s still the safest place for you to meet up.”

    Bathhouses are part of the entertainment industry, a business that always takes a hit during recessions, he said.

    “There has been a slight decline, but it’s going back up again,” Brodhagen said. “Overall, we haven’t really noticed a huge dip. It hasn’t been as bad as the bars” in Toronto’s gay village.

    Steamworks openly advertises, including through a billboard featuring two men on Church St. It’s something that never would have been done years ago, Brodhagen said.

    “Our clients love it, because it’s big and bold,” he said.

    With files from The Associated Press and Star staff

    Submit News to CKA News Rainfall warning leads BC Ferries to cancel some sailings - Times Colonist
    Sun, 21 Dec 2014 05:00:23 GMT

    Times Colonist

    Rainfall warning leads BC Ferries to cancel some sailings
    Times Colonist
    B.C. Ferries cancelled some sailings Saturday due to weather. Photograph By ARNOLD LIM, Times Colonist. Previous Next. B.C. Ferries cancelled some sailings Saturday due to weather. Photograph By ARNOLD LIM, Times Colonist. Torrential rain and ...
    BC Ferries cancels some sailings ahead of heavy rainfallToronto Star
    BC Ferries cancels some sailings due to weatherCBC.ca
    Rainfall warning continues on B.C. coast as ferry sailings cancelledThe Province

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    Submit News to CKA News SkyTrain in Richmond resumes service after electrical fault
    Sun, 21 Dec 2014 03:32:07 Z
    SkyTrain service was disrupted between two busy stations in the Metro Vancouver area by what transit officials believe was an electrical fault.
    Submit News to CKA News Mother ?devastated? that daughter hit by TTC bus died ?alone on the ground?
    Sat, 20 Dec 2014 22:26:14 EST

    Crystal Diljohn was supposed to take her daughter, Amaria, Christmas shopping Saturday. Instead, she’s planning her funeral.

    The 14-year-old Scarborough girl was killed Friday evening after she was hit by a TTC bus. Toronto Police are calling it a hit-and-run. The driver, a 27-year-old male, has since turned himself in. He has not been charged.

    Speaking to the Star from her mother’s home Saturday evening, Diljohn, 32, said she was devastated that her only child, affectionately dubbed Momo, had died just steps from her home.

    “My child is not trash. How could you hit her and leave her?” she said. “I’m angry that’s how she died — alone on the ground.”

    Police were called to Finch Ave. and Neilson Rd. around 5:30 p.m. Friday where they found Amaria without vital signs. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

    Amaria was trying to cross Neilson Rd. from east to west when she was hit, according to police. At the time, the 133 Neilson bus had been driving north on Neilson Rd. and was making a right turn on Finch Ave. East.

    The bus failed to remain at the scene of the crash.

    Diljohn described her daughter as fearless, ambitious and “very girly.”

    “Hair, makeup, nails — her outfit had to be on point,” she said. A freshman at Woburn Collegiate Institute, Amaria was involved in many extracurricular activities, including band, volleyball and track. Diljohn said her aspirations over the years varied widely, from becoming a teacher, to becoming the next Beyoncé, but she always set her goals high.

    “Once she put her mind to it, she did it.”

    The mother and daughter, who lived alone, were incredibly close. Most nights, Diljohn said Amaria would sneak into her bed to cuddle and sleep.

    Diljohn said she laid awake in that bed all night Friday, her hands occasionally reaching out to touch the spot normally occupied by her daughter.

    “I died with her,” she said, her voice hollow. “That was my best friend. My world.”

    When Amaria, who had gone to the mall after school, didn’t show up at home Friday evening, Diljohn began making increasingly frantic phone calls to her daughter’s cellphone. Eventually, a Toronto police officer answered and a pair of detectives later delivered the news.

    “I can’t believe it,” said Diljohn, who identified her daughter at the coroner’s office Saturday.

    “I just wanted to pick her up and take her home.”

    Friends have set up a memorial page on Facebook for Amaria and are planning a vigil 5 p.m. Sunday at the Neilson Rd. and Finch Ave. intersection.

    Police are looking for eyewitnesses and passengers who were on the bus between 5:15 and 6 p.m.

    In a statement issued Saturday afternoon, the TTC said it is co-operating fully with the investigation and that video from the bus has been submitted to police.

    “The operator of the bus has also been identified and is being interviewed by police.”

    The Toronto Transit Union, Amalgamated Transit Workers Local 113, also released a statement expressing condolences.

    “We are shocked and devastated by this grievous tragedy and our hearts go out as one to this young girl’s family and friends. No words can express the depth of our sadness for those who knew and loved her and no circumstances surrounding what happened can lessen their overwhelming sorrow,” it said.

    “Our 10,000 members are of many faiths and each of us extends our personal prayer that her loved ones will be given the immeasurable strength and courage that will be needed to carry on in the face of this profound loss.”

    This incident is the latest in a string of collisions involving the TTC over the last few years. According Star report in July, TTC vehicles have been involved in 18,000 collisions since 2009. Nearly 5,000 of those were deemed preventable by transit commission investigators.

    The database obtained by the Star, which only includes number up to 2013, shows an average of 3,564 collisions a year.

    In the last few months alone, the Star has reported on a number of collisions involving serious to fatal injuries. The most recent incidents involved a woman who was struck by a TTC bus on Yonge St. and Eglinton Ave. Tuesday afternoon and another female pedestrian who was pinned underneath a TTC bus near York University earlier in December. The latter suffered “multi-system-trauma,” according to city paramedics.

    In September, two people died of injuries caused by St. Clair Ave. streetcars. The first was a woman who got stuck under the streetcar near Keele St. and the second was a 79-year-old man who was hit near Yonge St.

    Brad Ross, head of communications for the TTC, said the TTC investigates each one of “these tragedies” thoroughly.

    “Safety is, and always will be, the number one priority for the TTC,” Ross told the Star. “The entire TTC family is shaken by this. We take pride in being able to deliver a safe transit system to the people of Toronto and we will continue to do that.”

    With files from Eric Andrew-Gee

    Submit News to CKA News Wynne expects Pan Am spending rules to be followed - Toronto Sun
    Sun, 21 Dec 2014 03:01:44 GMT

    Toronto Sun

    Wynne expects Pan Am spending rules to be followed
    Toronto Sun
    Kathleen Wynne Pan Am Premier Kathleen Wynne at Nathan Phillips Square for a Pan Am Games ceremony on July 11, 2014. (Stan Behal/Toronto Sun). Article. Change text size for the story; Print this story. Report an error. More Coverage. Documents show ...
    CANDICE MALCOLMSun News Network
    It's time for the GTA to come together, Wynne saysToronto Star

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    Submit News to CKA News Luka Magnotta jury fails to come to a verdict on Day 5
    Sun, 21 Dec 2014 03:00:16 Z
    MONTREAL — Jurors deciding the fate of Luka Rocco Magnotta ended Day 5 of their deliberations on Saturday without reaching a verdict. They will return on Sunday. Magnotta, 32, is charged with first-degree murder and four other offences in the […]
    Submit News to CKA News Woman charged with eight counts of murder in Cairns, Australia
    Sat, 20 Dec 2014 22:00:00 EST

    An Australian woman was charged with murder on Sunday in the deaths of seven of her children and her niece, whose bodies were found inside her home, police said.

    Mersane Warria, 37, was charged with eight counts of murder in a bedside hearing at a hospital in the northern city of Cairns where she is recovering from stab wounds, Queensland state police said.

    Police were called to the home in the Cairns suburb of Manoora on Friday morning after receiving a report of a woman with serious injuries. When they got to the house, they found the bodies, along with Warria, who was suffering from stab wounds to the chest.

    Police haven't said how the children died, but Queensland Police Detective Inspector Bruno Asnicar said they're examining several knives in the home that may have been the weapon used to kill them. Suffocation was also a possible cause of death, he said.

    "We are considering that and that's why it's taking a bit of time," he said. "It could be a range of things, from suffocation to 1,000 other things."

    A coroner was conducting autopsies to officially determine the causes of death.

    The children, four girls and four boys, ranged in age from 2 to 14, Asnicar said. Warria is the mother of seven of them; the eighth is her niece.

    Police were not looking for any other suspects, Asnicar said.

    Dozens of weeping mourners visited a makeshift memorial of flowers, stuffed animals and candles set up in a park next to the family's home. "My babies, my babies," one man wailed.

    A church service was held on Sunday morning to honour the children and a candlelight vigil was scheduled for the evening.

    The tragedy comes as Australia is still reeling from the shock of a deadly siege in a Sydney cafe. A gunman burst into the cafe in the heart of the city last week and took 18 hostages, two of whom were killed along with the gunman after police stormed in 16 hours later in a bid to end the standoff. Police had earlier said there were 17 hostages in the cafe, but revised the number after a new count.

    "The news out of Cairns is heartbreaking," Prime Minister Tony Abbott said in a statement. "All parents would feel a gut-wrenching sadness at what has happened. This is an unspeakable crime. These are trying days for our country."

    Submit News to CKA News Harper thanks police for ?swift? arrest of man who allegedly tied up and robbed 101-year-old D-Day veteran
    Sun, 21 Dec 2014 01:19:57 +0000
    Police say a man posing as a city employee forced his way into the veteran?s condo on Thursday morning before making off with undisclosed items
    Submit News to CKA News Amaria Diljohn, 14, struck and killed by TTC bus - Toronto Sun
    Sun, 21 Dec 2014 01:06:06 GMT

    Toronto Sun

    Amaria Diljohn, 14, struck and killed by TTC bus
    Toronto Sun
    TORONTO -. The 14-year-old girl killed in an alleged hit and run involving a TTC bus is being described by friends as ?beautiful, kind and intelligent.? Amaria Diljohn, 14, was struck and killed by a bus on the southeast corner of Finch Ave. E. and Neilson Rd.
    Girl, 14, killed in alleged hit and run with Toronto busCANOE
    Toronto girl, 14, killed by transit busWilliams Lake Tribune
    Toronto police question TTC driver who fatally struck 14-year-old girl, and then ...National Post

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    Submit News to CKA News B.C. poultry suppliers bring in turkeys to meet holiday demand
    Sun, 21 Dec 2014 00:49:46 Z
    VANCOUVER - Poultry producers are assuring B.C. residents there will be plenty of turkeys on store shelves during the holidays despite an avian flu outbreak that has killed thousands of animals.

    Canadian Editorial/Opinion Newswatch

    Warning: MagpieRSS: Failed to parse RSS file. (Undeclared entity error at line 56, column 54) in D:\Hosted Sites\canadaka.net\www\includes\rss_fetch\rss_fetch.inc on line 238 Submit News to CKA News Canadian shot by U.S. border guards at Ambassador Bridge crossing
    Sun, 21 Dec 2014 13:04:04 EST

    DETROIT—The U.S. border agency says a Canadian man was shot after allegedly pointing a handgun at guards at the Ambassador Bridge crossing between Windsor, Ont., and Detroit.

    U.S. Customs and Border Protection says in a statement the man stopped his car before the U.S. inspection booth around 3 a.m. Sunday and starting walking towards border officers while waving a gun.

    It says the officers ordered him to drop the weapon but that he then pointed it in the officers’ direction, prompting them to open fire.

    The agency says the man, who it hasn’t identified, was treated and released from hospital before being arrested.

    It says the man has had “previous encounters” with Canadian law enforcement.

    The statement says border and Department of Homeland Security officials are investigating along with Detroit police.

    Spokesman Kris Grogan says no additional information will be released at this time.

    Submit News to CKA News Police officer shot and killed in Florida
    Sun, 21 Dec 2014 10:25:57 EST

    TARPON SPRINGS, FLA.—Florida authorities say a police officer was shot and killed in Tarpon Springs early Sunday.

    The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said in a statement that the shooting occurred at around 3 a.m. in the Tampa Bay-area city and that a suspect has been arrested.

    Authorities say the suspect fled the scene of the shooting in a vehicle and crashed into a pole and another vehicle. He was then apprehended by police at that location.

    The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said the officer was a member of the Tarpon Springs Police Department, though no names have been released.

    The statement says a news conference is to be held later today.

    Submit News to CKA News Elton John, David Furnish get married
    Sun, 21 Dec 2014 09:36:23 EST

    LONDON—Entertainer Elton John and longtime partner David Furnish have officially converted their civil partnership into a marriage.

    The ceremony took place exactly nine years after they entered into a civil partnership.

    The couple was able to marry under new laws that took effect in England earlier this year.

    John had earlier tweeted about their plans and Sunday posted a photo on Instagram showing them getting ready to sign official papers.

    “That’s the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!” the couple wrote on their posting.

    They planned a celebration at their estate near Windsor Castle west of London. An A-list crowd is expected.

    The singer has praised England for changing its laws to allow same-sex marriage. He said the wedding would be a joyous occasion shared with their children.

    Submit News to CKA News Garth Drabinsky prepares for Act 3
    Sun, 21 Dec 2014 09:00:00 EST

    Garth Drabinsky had spent his 63rd and 64th birthdays in jail. But for his 65th birthday this year, the mood was decidedly upbeat and festive.

    On the last Sunday of October, about 45 of his nearest and dearest gathered for a lunch in his honour at the fashionable Soho Club in Toronto’s Entertainment District. Among them were his wife, Elizabeth Winford, other family members and loyal old friends who have stuck by him throughout the nightmare that began in 1998 with the shocking collapse of his theatre empire.

    The theme of the party was “the best is yet to come.” That’s a reference to a spectacular comeback Drabinsky is determined to orchestrate, with plans to produce several Broadway musicals being crafted by award-winning New York writers.

    Two well-connected allies have key roles in Drabinsky’s dream of making that slogan come true with a triumphant third act — meant to match his earlier peaks as CEO of Cineplex in the 1980s and founding boss of Livent in the 1990s.

    One is Richard Stursberg, the controversial former head of the CBC’s English-language operations, who is expected to play a leadership role recruiting investors for new shows while Drabinsky takes the modest title of creative director.

    The other key supporter is the birthday boy’s kid brother, Cyril, who has made a fortune in the film processing business and used it to enable Garth and his wife to continue living the high life in Forest Hill and Muskoka despite his troubles. Cyril flew in from New York, where he now lives and works, to attend the party.

    Clearly, Garth — who served 17 months in prison after being convicted in 2009 of fraud and forgery in connection with the 1998 collapse of Livent — has no intention of living the rest of his life quietly on the sidelines.

    Instead, he is reaching for the top of the showbiz heap again, after being expelled twice from the mogul club. His first term in power ended when he was exiled from his Cineplex movie empire in 1989 after losing boardroom battles. His second term, as a high-flying impresario in commercial theatre, ended with the 1998 collapse of Livent amid revelations of a financial meltdown.

    Among the projects Drabinsky is currently pursuing:

  • A stage musical based on the 1988 movie Madame Sousatzka (which Drabinsky produced with Shirley MacLaine in the title role). It is being adapted for the stage by Richard Maltby, who earned a Tony nomination for directing Fosse (produced by Drabinsky just as Livent was collapsing). According to the New York Post’s Michael Riedel, Drabinsky has already booked Toronto’s Elgin Theatre for a pre-Broadway run.
  • Amelie, about the same charming and scheming young woman depicted in the 2001 French movie. To write the script, Drabinsky has chosen playwright Craig Lucas, who earned Tony nominations for Prelude to a Kiss and The Light in the Piazza. Drabinsky and Lucas are also said to be planning a show called Hard Times, inspired by the Stephen Foster song.
  • Throughout his career, Drabinsky was famous for his bombastic, self-promotional style. But now, even while talking to friends, writers, actors and business partners about his big plans, he is trying to avoid publicity. (He did not respond to a phone message asking for details of his current projects.)

    At the hearing that led to full parole, granted in February, Drabinsky said there was no chance to would ever again run a company, build an empire or handle other people’s money. Instead, he would limit his role to working on the creative side, which he told the Corrections Canada parole board he was doing as a consultant.

    Given Drabinsky’s combative style, explosive temper and aggressive conduct during his days at Cineplex and Livent, some may be surprised that in a new showbiz venture he would be content to stay on the sidelines concerning financial matters.

    Stursberg could give Drabinsky’s projects a needed boost. During his stints running Telefilm Canada and the CBC’s English TV and radio networks, Stursberg acquired some powerful and wealthy allies. And in the eyes of potential backers, he could provide a measure of credibility, especially if he is investing his own money.

    Stursberg has worked with Drabinsky before. When he was at CBC, Stursberg took a chance by putting Drabinsky’s entertaining talent-contest show Triple Sensation on TV in prime time — and was pleased with the results. In 2008, Triple Sensation was nominated for a Gemini Award. Later, in The Tower of Babble, his provocative 2012 memoir about the CBC, Stursberg referred to Drabinsky as “a great mogul.”

    (Stursberg refused to be interviewed for this article.)

    Some veteran Garth-watchers will find in Drabinsky’s future plans alarming echoes of a recent misadventure: the ill-fated Capital One BlackCreek Summer Music Festival at the Rexall Centre, which arrived with fanfare in the summer of 2011. BlackCreek had all the features of a classic Drabinsky phenomenon: huge ambition, high risk, big-name stars and alarming costs.

    Drabinsky was modestly billed as the program director, while Kevin Albrecht was identified as the boss of the operation.

    Plagued by many problems, including stormy weather, big prices, empty seats, parking chaos and its location in a tennis facility, BlackCreek crashed within months of being launched. Its sudden death, like that of Livent years earlier, came as a stunning blow to suppliers, performers and technicians who had a stake in it.

    Only weeks later, Drabinsky landed in jail.

    It had taken 13 years for Drabinsky to pay the price for the Livent fiasco. Then in September 2011, there was an unforgettable weekend that took him from the sublime to the horrendous. On Saturday he and his wife quaffed champagne at an exclusive lunch followed by the world premiere of his movie Barrymore at TIFF. On Monday, he went to jail.

    After serving less than 30 per cent his five-year sentence, he was released in February 2013 on day parole, which meant he had to sleep nightly at a halfway house. In January 2014, he was granted full parole and will continue to be on parole until the fall of 2016.

    Since emerging from jail, Drabinsky has been fighting on many fronts to salvage whatever trappings of prestige he can. After being notified he was being stripped of his Order of Canada, he is continuing the legal fight, even after a federal court ruled against him. He is also appealing the decision of the Law Society of Upper Canada to disbar him and facing a battle with the Ontario Securities Commission as well.

    Considering all the crushing blows he has had, it’s amazing Drabinsky has the strength, self-confidence, optimism and determination to carry on.

    How does he keep going? The answer appears to be: with more than a little help from his friends, especially affluent and prominent figures who bonded with him back when he was riding high.

    One telling detail that emerged during his parole hearings was that Drabinsky had received loans of more than $7 million from friends: none of whom, he assured the parole board, is looking for repayment anytime soon.

    The fallen mogul’s most important benefactor throughout his troubles has been his brother, Cyril, whose showbiz fortunes rose spectacularly even while his older brother’s were spiralling down.

    How did Cyril acquire wealth and power while Garth was losing both? When Garth was CEO of Cineplex Odeon in the 1980s, he chose Cyril to run Film House laboratories, its wholly owned film-processing subsidiary in Toronto. In 1990, the year after Garth was forced out of Cineplex, the Rank Organization purchased both Film House and the prestigious Hollywood film processing company Deluxe Laboratories (formerly a division of 20th Century Fox).

    At that point Cyril segued into Deluxe.

    In 2006, Deluxe was acquired by MacAndrews & Forbes. Its chair and CEO, New York tycoon Ronald O. Perelman, who controls many other companies including Revlon, named Cyril Drabinsky president and CEO of Deluxe Entertainment Services Group. Under his watch the company has been hugely successful, using digital technology to manage and distribute for film and TV companies. Cyril was recently promoted to chair of Deluxe.

    Along the way, the tale of the Drabinsky brothers and their role reversal is as gripping as the one told in the current hit movie Foxcatcher. Cyril has made it possible for Garth to launch a comeback while continuing to enjoy the lifestyle of the rich and famous, which includes such perks as a luxury car and a lavish country retreat not far from the Corrections Canada cell he occupied at Gravenhurst.

    Last weekend Drabinsky was a guest at another glittery lunch. The occasion was a reunion of the cast of Livent’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, which opened in 1992 at Toronto’s Elgin Theatre and toured North America for years. The reunion was triggered by the fact that Donny Osmond, the original star, was in Toronto appearing in a show with his sister, Marie Osmond.

    The performers were abuzz with hopes that Drabinsky’s return to the front lines of showbiz would mean lots of work for them in the near future. There was even talk of a hoped-for new concert version of Joseph that Drabinsky might stage for one week in Toronto, with Donny Osmond back in the starring role.

    In the epic tale of Garth Drabinsky’s ups and downs, this season marked not only the relentless mogul’s 65th birthday but another major anniversary. It’s 25 years since he unveiled the magnificently restored Pantages Theatre (now renamed the Ed Mirvish Theatre) with the Canadian premiere of The Phantom of the Opera, which went on to run for a record 10 years. For almost a decade, Phantom and Joseph were enough to make up for Livent’s many failures — until they weren’t.

    Three years later he has re-emerged, as determined as ever to fly (to quote the title of his 1995 autobiography) closer to the sun. And it’s safe to say that no matter what happens, the third act of this saga won’t be boring.

    mknelman@thestar.ca

    Submit News to CKA News U.S. considers returning North Korea to state sponsors of terrorism list
    Sun, 21 Dec 2014 08:58:31 EST

    HONOLULU—The United States is reviewing whether to put North Korea back onto its list of state sponsors of terrorism, President Barack Obama said as the U.S. decides how to respond to the cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment that law enforcement has blamed on the communist nation.

    Obama described the hacking case as a “very costly, very expensive” example of cybervandalism, but did not call it an act of war. In trying to fashion a proportionate response, the president said the U.S. would examine the facts to determine whether North Korea should find itself back on the terrorism sponsors list.

    “We’re going to review those through a process that’s already in place,” Obama told CNN’s “State of the Union” in an interview to air Sunday. “I’ll wait to review what the findings are.”

    North Korea spent two decades on the list until the Bush administration removed it in 2008 during nuclear negotiations. Some lawmakers have called for the designation to be restored following the hack that led Sony to cancel the release of a big-budget film that North Korea found offensive.

    Only Iran, Sudan, Syria and Cuba remain on the list, which triggers sanctions that limit U.S. aid, defence exports and certain financial transactions.

    But adding North Korea back could be difficult. To meet the criteria, the State Department must determine that a country has repeatedly supported acts of international terrorism, a definition that traditionally has referred to violent, physical attacks rather than hacking.

    Obama also levelled fresh criticism against Sony over its decision to shelve “The Interview,” despite the company’s insistence that its hand was forced after movie theatres refused to show it.

    While professing sympathy for Sony’s situation, Obama suggested he might have been able to help address the problem if given the chance.

    “You know, had they talked to me directly about this decision, I might have called the movie theatre chains and distributors and asked them what that story was,” Obama said.

    Sony’s CEO has disputed that the company never reached out, saying he spoke to a senior White House adviser about the situation before Sony announced the decision. White House officials said Sony did discuss cybersecurity with the federal government, but that the White House was never consulted on the decision not to distribute the film.

    “Sometimes this is a matter of setting a tone and being very clear that we’re not going to be intimidated by some, you know, cyberhackers,” Obama said. “And I expect all of us to remember that and operate on that basis going forward.”

    North Korea has denied hacking the studio, and on Saturday proposed a joint investigation with the U.S. to determine the true culprit. The White House rejected the idea and said it was confident North Korea was responsible.

    But the next decision — how to respond — is hanging over the president as he vacations with his family in Hawaii.

    Obama’s options are limited. The U.S. already has trade penalties in place and there is no appetite for military action.

    Submit News to CKA News ?Flashlight baby? thriving after birth during ice storm
    Sun, 21 Dec 2014 08:18:19 EST

    Baby Pearson took one look at the GTA’s wicked winter last year and seemingly decided to hibernate.

    The baby born by flashlight during last December’s crippling ice storm, now a healthy 1-year-old, spent the first three months of his life sleeping up to 21 hours a day, according to his mom, Paula Mbonda.

    “Pearson went into a bit of hibernation for the first three months,” said Mbonda. “He was among the sleepiest babies my midwife has ever seen. We were sort of wondering what’s going on. He slept for 21 hours a day for the first three months. But he kept meeting all the milestones.”

    The infant would snooze anywhere — at home in his mother’s arms, in his cradle, and even at the hockey arena while his older brothers played.

    “We always joke that maybe the cold arena was what felt like home to him so he could easily fall asleep there,” said Mbonda. “We wondered if his personality would be quieter or more passive in any way, but it’s not, he’s active and fun.”

    Pearson’s entry into the world — one of many stories of triumph and tragedy to emerge from the ice storm —was far from the bucolic, sleepy-baby calm that characterized his first months.

    Mbonda woke up around 3:15 a.m. on Dec. 22 experiencing contractions.

    It was the peak of the devastating storm that paralyzed the GTA and would see more than a million people without power, including large buildings and institutions like the hospital where Mbonda planned to deliver her baby.

    She and her husband, Al, phoned their midwife, who told them the hospital had been hit by the blackout. All of the roads had been coated in a thick layer of ice as 20-30 mm of freezing rain fell on the GTA.

    They left their Pickering home and slowly, carefully got Mbonda to Rouge Valley Ajax and Pickering Hospital, where staff would deliver Pearson by flashlight.

    “The drive itself was so, so scary,” said Mbonda in an interview with the Star.

    Looking back, Mbonda says she wishes she had considered home birth more seriously in the event of an emergency.

    “That’s the lesson — that I believe in midwifery and I wonder if I should have considered home birth to not have the risk of that drive,” said Mbonda.

    Pearson’s pedigree has made him a bit of a celebrity in the parenting groups that Mbonda attends. She said for many, the news of a baby being born during the ice storm gave them hope. She just needs to give them his birth date and they recall their time in the dark.

    “A lot of people identify with that time and heard our story when they got power,” said Mbonda. “Then they start retelling me their story. It seems like his birth initiates the stories that they went through.”

    A neighbour gave Mbonda a gift to commemorate how Pearson came into the world — a small Lego baby Velcroed to a flashlight.

    “It’s a nice little reminder as he’s the flashlight baby,” said Mbonda.

    Submit News to CKA News A new reality for Toronto?s bathhouses
    Sun, 21 Dec 2014 00:01:00 EST

    Come New Year’s Eve, 250 men will gather for a hot meal and celebration at Spa Excess, one of the city’s foremost bathhouses.

    The festive meal comes complete with all the trimmings you’d expect of a celebratory feast over the holiday season: white and dark turkey, mashed and roast potatoes, cranberry sauce, salad, cookies, white and chocolate cake.

    And, at midnight, champagne.

    After 16 years in business, it’s tradition, said president and director Robert Knight.

    “It’s so popular and so wonderful an evening, because a lot of people are alone and not many people come as a couple,” said Knight, who co-owns Spa Excess with his treasurer, secretary and life partner, Michael Dorman. “It’s become like one big, huge family.”

    But the meal isn’t just an opportunity to gather and break bread; it’s a small sign of more significant changes that today’s bathhouses have had to make to remain relevant.

    Bathhouses date back to the Roman Empire, initially built to maintain hygiene in major cities. By the late 1950s and ’60s, as the need for a public place to wash up declined, bathhouses began drawing crowds by offering a discreet place for gay men to meet and have sex in a time when sodomy was still a crime. Bathhouses saw their heyday in the 1970s, before being vilified in the 1980s during the AIDS epidemic.

    Today, bathhouses face new challenges. The rising acceptance of homosexuality and the growing number of gay dating websites and hook-up apps are endangering the once-booming businesses.

    The Associated Press reported earlier this year that Damron, the publisher of an annual gay travel guide, found the number of bathhouses across the U.S. dropped from nearly 200 in the late 1970s to about 90 by 1990. In the last decade, the number of bathhouses nationwide dropped to 70 following closures in San Diego, Syracuse, Seattle and San Antonio.

    In Canada, bathhouses are concentrated in Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto. The industry in Toronto has been tested more than once, most notably on Feb. 5, 1981, when police raided four of the city’s biggest operations. Close to 300 men were rounded up and herded into bathhouse lobbies, with the majority being apprehended in one of the country’s largest mass arrests.

    The raids prompted thousands to take to the city’s streets in protest that winter; the following spring, the city held its first Pride parade. Toronto was the first North American city to host WorldPride this year, more than three decades after the raids.

    At Spa Excess, Knight said business is still going strong. “We’ve always been a bathhouse city, for years and years and years,” he said.

    Spa Excess welcomes 9,000 to 10,000 men a month, mostly middle aged and older, but age groups overlap, Knight said. “That doesn’t mean there are not young people, but the majority of people fall into the older demographic.”

    Knight said he’s seen a handful of bathhouses — The Barracks, the Spa on Maitland, Club Toronto, St. Marc Spa and Bijou — go out of business in Toronto since he opened Spa Excess in late 1998. But others have also moved to the city, namely two chains: Steamworks Baths and Central Spa.

    The city’s big-name bathhouses, he said, still see a lot of business, as do locations in other Canadians cities. The difference between bathhouses in Toronto and some of the ones facing closure in the United States is hospitality, Knight said.

    “Typically, (American) owners put just enough money in to take money out. It’s not every bathhouse, but many don’t offer decent customer service,” Knight said. “A lot of them are seedy. A lot of them have been taken over by drug dealers and users.”

    At Spa Excess, Knight, Dorman and their late partner Peter Bochove have always focused on keeping their bathhouse upscale. Their location on Carlton St. offers free WiFi, clean towels, a licensed lounge, a pool table, tanning beds, a sundeck, a whirlpool and massages.

    “It’s a retreat. We encourage our guests to come here and get away from the real world,” Knight said. “You have to accommodate all of the customers and what their needs are.”

    Growing hospitality in the bathhouse industry is the same trend seen in coffee shops, hotels and gyms, said Chris Srnicek, owner of the bathhouse chain Central Spa and the president of the North American Bathhouse Association’s board.

    The majority of bathhouses now offer free WiFi, extra linens, towel swaps and cheap tanning, he said. At Central Spa, which has four locations across Ontario including one in Hamilton and another on Dundas St. W, Srnicek follows the lead of night clubs by offering theme and specialty nights.

    “Our stronger establishments partner with local sports organizations, DJs and party promoters to create new ideas all the time. We also offer discounted entry fees at different times of the week,” he wrote in an email to the Star.

    The U.S. bathhouse business was antagonized by governments, public health officials and local politicians in the late 1980 and early ’90s, which made it tough for any bathhouse to operate, Srnicek said. The U.S. industry did decline, he agreed.

    In Canada during the same period, officials were more cautious, he said. Fewer clients passed through the doors, but owners were still able to invest in their facilities.

    “Toronto has been able to maintain so many bathhouse since it’s a large city, and pretty open-minded,” Srnicek said.

    Still, like businesses in almost every sector, technology is creating strong new competition, in this case from apps such as Grindr and online dating sites such as gay.com.

    John Brodhagen, general manager of Steamworks, said they see thousands of clients a month but apps have still affected business. He encourages clients use his bathhouse on Church St. for get-togethers, so they don’t have to give out their home address. “Our platform is that we have staff here 24 hours a day,” he said. “Even if you’re going to cruise online, it’s still the safest place for you to meet up.”

    Bathhouses are part of the entertainment industry, a business that always takes a hit during recessions, he said.

    “There has been a slight decline, but it’s going back up again,” Brodhagen said. “Overall, we haven’t really noticed a huge dip. It hasn’t been as bad as the bars” in Toronto’s gay village.

    Steamworks openly advertises, including through a billboard featuring two men on Church St. It’s something that never would have been done years ago, Brodhagen said.

    “Our clients love it, because it’s big and bold,” he said.

    With files from The Associated Press and Star staff

    Submit News to CKA News Mother ?devastated? that daughter hit by TTC bus died ?alone on the ground?
    Sat, 20 Dec 2014 22:26:14 EST

    Crystal Diljohn was supposed to take her daughter, Amaria, Christmas shopping Saturday. Instead, she’s planning her funeral.

    The 14-year-old Scarborough girl was killed Friday evening after she was hit by a TTC bus. Toronto Police are calling it a hit-and-run. The driver, a 27-year-old male, has since turned himself in. He has not been charged.

    Speaking to the Star from her mother’s home Saturday evening, Diljohn, 32, said she was devastated that her only child, affectionately dubbed Momo, had died just steps from her home.

    “My child is not trash. How could you hit her and leave her?” she said. “I’m angry that’s how she died — alone on the ground.”

    Police were called to Finch Ave. and Neilson Rd. around 5:30 p.m. Friday where they found Amaria without vital signs. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

    Amaria was trying to cross Neilson Rd. from east to west when she was hit, according to police. At the time, the 133 Neilson bus had been driving north on Neilson Rd. and was making a right turn on Finch Ave. East.

    The bus failed to remain at the scene of the crash.

    Diljohn described her daughter as fearless, ambitious and “very girly.”

    “Hair, makeup, nails — her outfit had to be on point,” she said. A freshman at Woburn Collegiate Institute, Amaria was involved in many extracurricular activities, including band, volleyball and track. Diljohn said her aspirations over the years varied widely, from becoming a teacher, to becoming the next Beyoncé, but she always set her goals high.

    “Once she put her mind to it, she did it.”

    The mother and daughter, who lived alone, were incredibly close. Most nights, Diljohn said Amaria would sneak into her bed to cuddle and sleep.

    Diljohn said she laid awake in that bed all night Friday, her hands occasionally reaching out to touch the spot normally occupied by her daughter.

    “I died with her,” she said, her voice hollow. “That was my best friend. My world.”

    When Amaria, who had gone to the mall after school, didn’t show up at home Friday evening, Diljohn began making increasingly frantic phone calls to her daughter’s cellphone. Eventually, a Toronto police officer answered and a pair of detectives later delivered the news.

    “I can’t believe it,” said Diljohn, who identified her daughter at the coroner’s office Saturday.

    “I just wanted to pick her up and take her home.”

    Friends have set up a memorial page on Facebook for Amaria and are planning a vigil 5 p.m. Sunday at the Neilson Rd. and Finch Ave. intersection.

    Police are looking for eyewitnesses and passengers who were on the bus between 5:15 and 6 p.m.

    In a statement issued Saturday afternoon, the TTC said it is co-operating fully with the investigation and that video from the bus has been submitted to police.

    “The operator of the bus has also been identified and is being interviewed by police.”

    The Toronto Transit Union, Amalgamated Transit Workers Local 113, also released a statement expressing condolences.

    “We are shocked and devastated by this grievous tragedy and our hearts go out as one to this young girl’s family and friends. No words can express the depth of our sadness for those who knew and loved her and no circumstances surrounding what happened can lessen their overwhelming sorrow,” it said.

    “Our 10,000 members are of many faiths and each of us extends our personal prayer that her loved ones will be given the immeasurable strength and courage that will be needed to carry on in the face of this profound loss.”

    This incident is the latest in a string of collisions involving the TTC over the last few years. According Star report in July, TTC vehicles have been involved in 18,000 collisions since 2009. Nearly 5,000 of those were deemed preventable by transit commission investigators.

    The database obtained by the Star, which only includes number up to 2013, shows an average of 3,564 collisions a year.

    In the last few months alone, the Star has reported on a number of collisions involving serious to fatal injuries. The most recent incidents involved a woman who was struck by a TTC bus on Yonge St. and Eglinton Ave. Tuesday afternoon and another female pedestrian who was pinned underneath a TTC bus near York University earlier in December. The latter suffered “multi-system-trauma,” according to city paramedics.

    In September, two people died of injuries caused by St. Clair Ave. streetcars. The first was a woman who got stuck under the streetcar near Keele St. and the second was a 79-year-old man who was hit near Yonge St.

    Brad Ross, head of communications for the TTC, said the TTC investigates each one of “these tragedies” thoroughly.

    “Safety is, and always will be, the number one priority for the TTC,” Ross told the Star. “The entire TTC family is shaken by this. We take pride in being able to deliver a safe transit system to the people of Toronto and we will continue to do that.”

    With files from Eric Andrew-Gee

    Submit News to CKA News Woman charged with eight counts of murder in Cairns, Australia
    Sat, 20 Dec 2014 22:00:00 EST

    An Australian woman was charged with murder on Sunday in the deaths of seven of her children and her niece, whose bodies were found inside her home, police said.

    Mersane Warria, 37, was charged with eight counts of murder in a bedside hearing at a hospital in the northern city of Cairns where she is recovering from stab wounds, Queensland state police said.

    Police were called to the home in the Cairns suburb of Manoora on Friday morning after receiving a report of a woman with serious injuries. When they got to the house, they found the bodies, along with Warria, who was suffering from stab wounds to the chest.

    Police haven't said how the children died, but Queensland Police Detective Inspector Bruno Asnicar said they're examining several knives in the home that may have been the weapon used to kill them. Suffocation was also a possible cause of death, he said.

    "We are considering that and that's why it's taking a bit of time," he said. "It could be a range of things, from suffocation to 1,000 other things."

    A coroner was conducting autopsies to officially determine the causes of death.

    The children, four girls and four boys, ranged in age from 2 to 14, Asnicar said. Warria is the mother of seven of them; the eighth is her niece.

    Police were not looking for any other suspects, Asnicar said.

    Dozens of weeping mourners visited a makeshift memorial of flowers, stuffed animals and candles set up in a park next to the family's home. "My babies, my babies," one man wailed.

    A church service was held on Sunday morning to honour the children and a candlelight vigil was scheduled for the evening.

    The tragedy comes as Australia is still reeling from the shock of a deadly siege in a Sydney cafe. A gunman burst into the cafe in the heart of the city last week and took 18 hostages, two of whom were killed along with the gunman after police stormed in 16 hours later in a bid to end the standoff. Police had earlier said there were 17 hostages in the cafe, but revised the number after a new count.

    "The news out of Cairns is heartbreaking," Prime Minister Tony Abbott said in a statement. "All parents would feel a gut-wrenching sadness at what has happened. This is an unspeakable crime. These are trying days for our country."

    Submit News to CKA News Raucous Raptors fans at home on road
    Sat, 20 Dec 2014 17:15:31 EST

    Was this how the Visigoths felt when they arrived in fifth-century Rome, flush with dreams of shocking a great city only to find the place sadly reduced, leaving their revelry tinged with pity?

    So it was when Raptors fans descended on Detroit — or, more precisely, Auburn Hills, Mich., the Oakville of Detroit — to see their team demolish the woeful Pistons 110-100 on Friday night.

    The invasion was planned methodically; the convoy was large and well provisioned.

    At least a half-dozen buses made the trip.

    They were inspired by the success of a similar experiment in late November, when a contingent of Toronto hoops fans needled and humiliated a home crowd in Cleveland, staying to applaud long after the mustard-and-maroon jerseys had left the building.

    Whereas Leafs fans have always been happy to hop in their cars and follow their boys to Buffalo or Detroit, long-time observers can’t remember a time when Raptors diehards exhibited such crusading zeal, not even at the height of Vinsanity.

    The Star bought a ticket on the MLSE coach, which took you to The Palace of Auburn Hills and back with a lower-bowl ticket for $99.99 plus tax — with snacks, bottled water and We The North T-shirts and toques thrown into the bargain.

    But at least two independent tour groups also brought fans from Toronto, and another hundred were reputed to have crossed the bridge from Windsor. There were also reports of buses hailing from Pickering and Brantford.

    The only American resistance came limply at the Sarnia-Port Huron border.

    “Don’t let them in — they’re wearing Raptors jerseys,” one guard grumbled.

    Official interference notwithstanding, Raptors fans were close to outnumbering Pistons fans by tipoff. The Detroit faithful were stunned by the turnout.

    “I ain’t never witnessed nothing like this,” said Troy Campbell, a Pistons fan in the Raptors-dominated section 119, where the Star also took in the game. “It feels like a home game for Toronto.

    “Y’all took over the Palace!” he exclaimed.

    So they did. With every Pistons free throw, Raptors fans leapt to their feet, waved red towels and jeered. Raptors buckets were often cheered more loudly than Pistons buckets. It was surreal.

    In the first quarter, with Kyle Lowry shooting free throws, the Toronto cadres began a thunderous “MVP!” chant for their star point guard.

    “That ain’t right, man,” groaned Campbell.

    There was little overt hostility between the northern invaders and the rather dejected locals. Pistons fan Leroy Dumars struck a familiar note of resignation. “We’d definitely rather have actual home-court advantage, but what are you gonna do?” he shrugged.

    Indeed, the peace was maintained much more through the graciousness of the hosts than the magnanimity of the visitors. An usher named Karen, wearing pink cutoff gloves, handed out candy canes and greeted fans in Raptors swag with a heartfelt, “Welcome to the Palace. Are you from Toronto?”

    It was a hard crowd to hate — glory days long gone, sad and beaten down, suffering with dignity and trying to rebuild. Much like Detroit itself.

    “This city’s been through a lot,” said Trisha Araya, an MLSE employee who organized the road trip, as she walked away from the court where less scrupulous Raptors fans continued posing for selfies after the game.

    It is safe to say that MLSE will try to replicate this odd inversion in Detroit, where a road game became a home away from home. And with the Eastern Conference in disarray, there are plenty of other stadiums that would allow for an injection of Raptors zeal. Brooklyn’s Barclays Center is one; so, possibly, is Madison Square Garden, which plays host to the virtually unwatchable New York Knicks — who invade the Air Canada Centre on Sunday.

    And, if Friday was any evidence, MLSE certainly knows how to throw a road trip. The master stroke came first, when general manager and minor cult figure Masai Ujiri climbed on board the company’s coach.

    “It’s Masai!” said one fan, wearing a Raptors Santa hat.

    “I’m tweeting this,” said his friend.

    Ujiri stayed on the bus until Auburn Hills, at one point standing and fielding questions for a good 15 minutes.

    The fans were smitten. “He can do no wrong,” murmured one.

    (As the bus ground west along the Gardiner, Araya asked fans to start a hashtag. Someone yelled out #rollingwithmasai. After some deliberation it was decided that the “g” would be dropped.)

    By the time the coach stopped at Wendy’s for lunch (paid for by Ujiri — a badly kept secret), there had been three snack courses, baskets full of Cheetos and salt-and-vinegar Lays, Kit Kats and Nature Valley bars, gingerbread cookies and Planters peanut clusters, Gatorade and Sprite.

    There was also, of course, a mandatory liability waiver for fans to sign. This gave MLSE the right to use footage of the trip “throughout the universe in perpetuity.”

    But if the corporate arm of the trip was carefully stage-managed, individual fans provided moments of spontaneous joy.

    Scarborough resident Hodan Hussein brought her son and daughter on one of the independent buses, and sang a soulful, pitch-perfect rendition of “O Canada” in the Auburn Hills parking lot in front of Ujiri, 90 minutes before the game

    “I’m an avid, avid fan,” she said afterward. “I’m a crazy fan. I just love my team.”

    When guard Landry Fields took a headfirst tumble onto the court while trying to block a shot and lay immobile for an unnerving stretch, Raptors fans picked him up with a roaring chant of “Landry! Landry!” Lowry and coach Dwane Casey both acknowledged the impact of their invading fans.

    “I thought our fans, the buses that came up, were unbelievable,” Casey said after the game. “I thought that got us going. Once we got our plays going, our energy going, our fans took over and gave us a huge boost of energy to close out starting in the third quarter.”

    Said Lowry, “It gives us the energy to say, ‘Look, hey, we can’t let our fans down. We’ve got to give them a reason to cheer.”

    With files from Doug Smith

    Submit News to CKA News NYPD commissioner IDs slain officers, says they were 'assassinated'
    Sat, 20 Dec 2014 16:38:55 EST

    A gunman who announced online that he was planning to shoot two "pigs" in retaliation for the chokehold death of Eric Garner ambushed two police officers in a patrol car and shot them to death in broad daylight Saturday before running to a subway station and killing himself, authorities said.

    The suspect, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28, wrote on an Instagram account: "I'm putting wings on pigs today. They take 1 of ours, let's take 2 of theirs," officials said. He used the hashtags Shootthepolice RIPErivGardner (sic) RIPMikeBrown.

    Police said he approached the passenger window of a marked police car and opened fire, striking Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu in the head. The officers were on special patrol in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn.

    "They were, quite simply, assassinated — targeted for their uniform. ... They were ambushed and murdered," said Police Commissioner William Bratton, who looked pale and shaken at a hospital news conference.

    Brinsley took off running and went down to a nearby subway station, where he shot himself. A silver handgun was recovered at the scene.

    "This may be my final post," he wrote in the Instagram post that included an image of a silver handgun.

    Bratton confirmed that Brinsley made very serious "anti-cop" statements online but did not get into specifics of the posts. He said they were looking at whether the suspect had attended any rallies or demonstrations. Two city officials with direct knowledge of the case confirmed the posts to The Associated Press. The officials, a senior city official and a law enforcement official, were not authorized to speak publicly on the topic and spoke on condition of anonymity,

    The Rev. Al Sharpton said the family of Garner, killed by a police chokehold this year, had no connection to the suspect and denounced the violence.

    "Any use of the names of Eric Garner and Michael Brown in connection with any violence or killing of police, is reprehensible and against the pursuit of justice in both cases," Sharpton said. "We have stressed at every rally and march that anyone engaged in any violence is an enemy to the pursuit of justice for Eric Garner and Michael Brown."

    The shootings come at a tense time. Police in New York are being criticized for their tactics following the death of Garner, who was stopped by police on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes. Amateur video captured an officer wrapping his arm around Garner's neck and wrestling him to the ground. Garner was heard gasping, "I can't breathe" before he lost consciousness and later died.

    "Our city is in mourning. Our hearts are heavy," said Mayor Bill de Blasio, who spoke softly with moist eyes. "It is an attack on all of us."

    Demonstrators around the country have staged die-ins and other protests since a grand jury decided Dec. 3 not to indict the officer in Garner's death, a decision that closely followed a Missouri grand jury's refusal to indict a white officer in the fatal shooting of Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old.

    Brown's family later released a statement through its attorney condemning what it called the "senseless killing" of two law enforcement officers, saying "it cannot be tolerated" and "our thoughts and prayers go out to the officers' families during this incredibly difficult time."

    In a statement Saturday night, Attorney General Eric Holder condemned the shooting deaths as senseless and "an unspeakable act of barbarism."

    Earlier Saturday, Bratton said, Brinsley went to the home of a former girlfriend in the Baltimore area and shot and wounded her. Police there said they noticed Brinsley posting to the woman's Instagram account about a threat to New York officers. Baltimore-area officials sent a warning flier to New York City police, who received it around the time of the shooting, Bratton said.

    A block from the shooting site, a line of about eight police officers stood with a German shepherd blocking the taped-off street. Streets were blocked off even to pedestrians.

    The president of the police officers union, Patrick Lynch, and Blasio have been locked in a public battle over treatment of officers following the grand jury's decision. Just days ago, Lynch suggested police officers sign a petition that demanded the mayor not attend their funerals should they die on the job.

    The last shooting death of an NYPD officer came in December 2011, when 22-year veteran Peter Figoski responded to a report of a break-in at a Brooklyn apartment. He was shot in the face and killed by one of the suspects hiding in a side room when officers arrived. The triggerman, Lamont Pride, was convicted of murder and sentenced in 2013 to 45 years to life in prison.

    Submit News to CKA News Girl?s discredited story of sex assault cost dad chance at job
    Sat, 20 Dec 2014 05:00:00 EST

    It was a stunning allegation from the mouth of his little girl.

    Robert Ireland’s foster daughter, whom he cared for in his seaside B.C. home for nearly a decade, made allegations of sexual assault against him shortly after she left in 2012, when she was in her early teens.

    Her claim, investigated by police, never led to a charge or conviction. But it remains on his record, continues to undermine his ability to work and support his family and has changed the former police officer’s life for good.

    “I was devastated,” says Ireland, 64, a married father of one daughter, another adopted girl and former foster parent to several children over the years, including the accuser and her brother.

    “This was my daughter. I loved her. I never thought I’d ever be accused of anything by her. I was a basket case for six months after.

    “I’m close to all my kids. I’d take them on ski trips and to Disneyland. I loved bringing them up in the world and seeing a difference.

    “Her allegations are completely untrue.”

    Because the RCMP routinely release “non-conviction” records as part of employment background checks, Ireland’s recent application for a position with a provincial transit company suddenly ended after the unproven allegations appeared on his police check.

    The girl’s allegations in 2012 also led to Ireland and his wife losing their foster parenting contract, which removed the accuser’s brother and another foster child from their home. They have not been able to serve as foster parents since.

    A Star investigation has found three other men were similarly accused of sexual assault by the same girl.

    An ongoing Star investigation has detailed how the routine release of police-held information about innocent Canadianshas ended careers, undermined job prospects and forced students out of university and college programs.

    The information has also ended up in the country’s criminal records database, which is accessed by U.S. border officials, who have used it to restrict the travel of Canadians.

    In some cases, even mental health calls to 911 have appeared in police checks on people crossing the border or seeking employment in vulnerable sectors such as hospitals and daycares, the Star investigation found.

    Among the four men who have had their lives affected by sexual assault allegations from Ireland’s foster daughter is another former foster father. In 2005, B.C. Supreme Court heard allegations from her that the man “took her into his bedroom and sexually assaulted her” on two occasions between March and May of 2002, according to the court ruling.

    The man, who is identified in the court record only as M.B. to protect the identity of the girl, denied the allegations and “spoke of his love for her then and now,” the ruling reads.

    M.B. was found not guilty of the allegations.

    “It was a traumatic experience,” M.B. said in an interview this week. “It almost ruined my life. It hasn’t gone away after all of these years. And the worst part is that we lost communication with foster kids who had been in our home for years and we loved.”

    He says his regular trips to the U.S. for his job require him to carry documentation detailing the charges and acquittal.

    “It’s embarrassing to have to talk about what I was accused of. It never goes away.”

    His wife said in an interview the girl’s allegations “destroyed our lives. Ten years later, just talking about it leaves us shaking. We loved her and still love her. But whenever an allegation like that comes up, people assume you’re guilty.”

    Three years ago, while still in Ireland’s care, the girl made allegations of sexual improprieties against her school bus driver.

    “She accused him of inappropriate conduct, that he was coming on to her,” says Randy Gould, who runs the local school bus company where she attended school. “There were lots of other kids on the bus at the time.”

    Gould says he didn’t believe his driver, a man in his 50s, had assaulted the teen. But he had to fire him.

    “When someone gets accused, the guy is tainted. That’s the shame of it all. The truth did not matter when it came to him. For a school bus company, it’s a nail in the coffin.

    “I had to take him off the run. It cost him his job. It affected his marriage. The look on his face, it would make you cry. I was sick about it myself.”

    The girl also made similar allegations against a former boyfriend shortly after she left Ireland’s home, say Ireland and the girl’s brother, who spoke with the Star on the condition of anonymity.

    The man who was the target of those allegations declined comment.

    In Ireland’s case, the allegations landed with equal parts personal devastation and professional peril. He agreed to be interviewed by the local RCMP detachment following the allegations, and four months later, the case was closed.

    The girl’s brother, who also lived with Ireland and his wife, said he believes none of her allegations.

    “She is troubled,” he said in an interview, adding that his sister was happy in the Ireland home until the last several months, when she began causing arguments.

    “There’s no way the things she said actually happened. The dates and times make no sense. I was there. I never saw anything like this. And she has a pattern of doing this every time she feels like a she’s losing her connection with a man.”

    The brother returned to Ireland’s home, several months after he was removed by child protection services, to live informally with his foster family. He’s studying in Vancouver, but he still calls Ireland “Dad.”

    Last year, Ireland applied for a job as a bus driver with the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority. He took a driver’s exam, paid for a medical, had extensive interviews and provided several employment references.

    Those written references from his former employers are unanimously positive. One describes him as a hard worker with “good attention to detail” and concludes that Ireland was “committed to his job and to his foster children. I trust him.”

    Another is a “glowing review,” the transit authority recruiter noted. A third former employer described him as “very intelligent,” “good demeanour” and “good guy,” and a fourth described Ireland as “my right hand man.”

    Among the employment application forms he filled out was one that asks the question: “Do you have a Criminal Record for which you have not received a pardon?”

    Ireland circled “No.”

    “I used to be a police officer,” he told the Star. “I don’t have a criminal record at all. I’ve never had any problem with the police.”

    The final stage of the application, he was told, was a criminal record check.

    “Nobody ever told me I had this record. I was at the police station getting it and the clerk says, ‘You know you have a non-conviction record? You have to tell your employer about it.’ I said, ‘What? You’ve got to be kidding me.’ I was shocked.”

    He was then forced to hand the record over to the transit authority.

    “The whole mood of the employer changed, as I had to reveal what this meant and they had to contact the RCMP to confirm. I was shocked that I had to reveal the circumstances of this case to someone who I didn’t even know.”

    Shortly after that, Ireland says he was eliminated as a candidate for the job.

    A spokesperson with Trans Link refused to comment for this story.

    In response to his complaint about the record disclosure, a July 16 RCMP letter confirmed the force, as a matter of policy, discloses a wide range of records in police checks, including “dispositions of non-conviction.”

    The force has repeatedly refused to purge the record, Ireland says.

    RCMP officials did not reply to requests for comment.

    “This is quite outrageous as I am a good person, and have never been in trouble with the law before. This violates my Charter rights, human rights and privacy rights.”

    He has a complaint filed before the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal where he is representing himself because he can’t afford a lawyer. He is also considering representing himself in a civil suit.

    His finances have been hit because of his now limited employment options, he says.

    “I’m living on credit cards. We had our bill up to $50,000 and we had to pull out some money from the mortgage, which saved us,” says Ireland, who remains unemployed.

    Two weeks ago, Ontario’s provincial minister of community safety and correctional Services told the Star his government will table legislation in the new year detailing for the first time what information police can — and cannot — disclose to employers, volunteer agencies and academic institutions about Ontarians who have not been convicted of a crime.

    But that law will not affect the RCMP and police forces outside Ontario. There is a patchwork of policies and lots of discretion among individual forces about what they can release.

    “This is a national issue and police services across the country have radically different practices,” says Abby Deshman, a lawyer and director with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. “I’m hopeful that Ontario will set a leadership example, but it has to be followed through by the federal government or individual provinces.”

    Today, Ireland helps out with the soap business owned by his wife, who has multiple sclerosis. He says the unproven allegations have left his family financially ruined.

    Since May of 2012, the family has had no income except for his wife’s disability pension. They’re living on retirement savings.

    And they miss the rewards and challenges of raising foster children.

    “I’ve been devastated by this. Police should never have this power.”

    Submit News to CKA News How Toronto feeds a child
    Fri, 19 Dec 2014 18:00:00 EST

    This is a story about how a mother in Toronto gets some food to feed her son.

    It starts with a mother going to the grocery store and buying a can of tuna. It ends with a mother taking that can of tuna home. If this was a story about many families in Toronto, that would be the whole tale, without much to tell in between. But this is also a story about poverty and how we collectively attempt to deal with it in 2014, so there’s a bit more to it.

    In this story, over the course of two weeks, the can of tuna travels more than 50 kilometres, to one corner of the city and then to the other. More than a dozen people from different walks of life from all over the city play direct roles and the cast of supporting characters in the background numbers in the thousands.

    It’s not a unique story — in fact, it’s exactly the kind of story that millions of residents of the GTA have participated in, many without knowing exactly how it ends or what happens beyond their own small part.

    This is a story about how a single donation to the Daily Bread Food Bank gets from a shelf in the store to the cupboard of the person who will eat it.

    CHAPTER ONE: DONATION

    Laura Swan, a 40-year-old stay-at-home mother and founder of the Junction Project neighbourhood group, leaves her brick house near Keele and Dundas West to go to the grocery story on a Monday morning in November. About four or five times a year she donates to the food bank, “like most people,” she says, usually during Christmas or Thanksgiving food drives. “It’s a good opportunity for our family to express our values, that a community should take care of its other members.”

    Today she goes to No Frills on Pacific Avenue near Dundas West. Wandering the aisles, she gets beans, two tubs of peanut butter — she has been told that Daily Bread always needs proteins—and some Chips Ahoy cookies, a treat for someone she imagines can afford few luxuries.

    Swan has been on the other end . As a student at the University of Toronto, she visited the food bank. “It was the difference between eating and not eating, it’s as simple as that,” she says. She thinks about that when donating. “I think about how grateful I am for my greater financial stability, and how precarious my situation was then. I was just one person. I imagine that situation, if you had a family and children that you needed to help feed, how much more stressful that would be.”

    She picks up a can of Gold Seal Solid Light Tuna and adds it to her bag, then takes her purchases to the checkout.

    Toronto Fire Station 423 on Keele Street is a quick walk away. Walking past a toy fire engine hanging on the wall to an alcove where a filled-up plastic collection bin is surrounded by boxes of donations, Swan places her bag on the floor.

    Swan says she’s sometimes frustrated at recognizing “how minuscule my contribution is” to such an overwhelming problem as hunger and poverty. But she welcomes the opportunity to do something. “It is a good feeling to be part of something larger,” she says.

    CHAPTER TWO: FIRE HALL

    On Wednesday afternoon, the “Fighting Hunger” truck — one of five in Daily Bread’s fleet — backs up to the Fire Hall doors. The four firefighters on duty come to help out.

    The black bag carrying Swan’s donations, including the tuna can, is emptied into a box decorated with pink and blue construction paper by local schoolchildren. The truck driver sets up a wooden shipping pallet and begins unfolding large boxes on it, placing the smaller donation boxes inside.

    Timothy Green, a firefighter who lives in Mississauga, lifts the pink and blue box onto the skid.

    “We’re here to help out,” Green says . “It’s part of our community service, in addition to the community service we already perform as firefighters.”

    Green says the role he and his co-workers play is nothing much to talk about. “It’s very small. At various times of the year, trucks come by and we pitch in to load them, that’s our part. It’s always a good feeling to help out — as a firefighter, that’s our job anyways.”

    CHAPTER THREE: THE DRIVE

    Paul Huckvale uses the truck’s hydraulic lift to raise the two full pallets from Fire Hall 423 onto the truck, where they join the donations from the other eight stops he has already made that day. He was supposed to make a 10th, but the city’s first snowfall of the year is just beginning as the evening rush hour starts, so he drives straight back to the Daily Bread warehouse.

    Huckvale has worked full-time at Daily Bread since June, making four to six pickups and six to eight deliveries most days. “The company I worked for did pickups at fire halls on weekends, because we had these trucks. I’d suggested years ago it was something we could do, to bring our kids along and show them what giving some of your time back to the community was all about.” Earlier this year, the company where he had worked for decades moved to the U.S., and he was hired on as one of the agency’s five full-time drivers. Huckvale and his family live near Bloor West and Royal York, in normal circumstances, a fairly easy trip to the warehouse.

    He backs the truck up to one of the 10 loading dock doors at the Daily Bread Warehouse on New Toronto Street in Etobicoke and unloads. The tuna can, the box it’s in, and the rest of the donations Huckvale brings into the large warehouse loading area are wheeled over to a weigh scale embedded in the floor. Huckvale notes on a form the origin of the load, its weight — 1,021 pounds on the pallet from the Junction fire hall — and affixes each individual box on the pallet with a bar code label to track its progress.

    CHAPTER FOUR: SORTING

    Production Assistant Tanya Gotman came to the Daily Bread food bank in 2011 through “Investing in Neighbourhoods,” a program that helps welfare recipients gain skills and experience . The single mom, who lives in Long Branch , got a contract through the program, and ended up being hired on full time.

    “This place is awesome because it’s like the hub of the wheel. This warehouse services so many agencies,” she says. She explains that Daily Bread is the brain and distribution system for the food banks all across the city that are run by non-profits, churches and community groups.

    On this Thursday morning, Gotman wheels the box containing the Gold Seal tuna from the loading dock , through a doorway over to the sorting floor. The best part of her job is seeing all the people who get involved. “There are really hardworking people who come here day in and day out, through blizzards some of them come in and show up . . . It’s incredible, you see so many people who are happy to come in, happy to give of themselves, they understand we’re all walking in this world together so we give of ourselves. I feel like I’m getting paid 10,000 times over when I encounter some of these guys.”

    This day, Gotman is co-ordinating students from Blythwood Junior Public School near Yonge and Eglinton — one of four school groups in the warehouse .

    The kids are laughing and running as they remove tins and packages from boxes at one end of an aisle to find the appropriate box along a row of tables. Some are for pasta sauce, others for canned vegetables, others for cereal.

    Reese Mencke, 10, picks up Swan’s can of tuna from the pink and blue box and examines its label. She walks down the aisle, eyeing the signs over the boxes.

    “I’ve learned they sort everything very specifically,” she says. “I feel really, really special being here. It’s a really good opportunity. I think I might come a lot more to help make the world a better place.” She comes to a box marked “canned fish” and places Swan’s tuna inside.

    CHAPTER FIVE: PALLETIZING

    Eventually the box of canned fish is full and Gotman asks “almost-10”-year-old Cole Dumanski, another Blythwood fifth grader, to help. He lifts the full box onto a cart, and they wheel it, with other boxes, over to a weigh scale. Cole records the weight — 168 pounds — and the two wheel it over to where the box will be placed on a pallet .

    “This is fun. It’s cool,” Cole says, turning his thoughts to the people who will get this food . “I think they’ll be happy that they get the food, and I think they’ll really enjoy it.”

    Once the pallet is full, Gotman uses a pump truck to move it to the “picking row,” where it is placed with other full skids of canned fish, ready to be selected .

    CHAPTER SIX: PICKING

    Kyle MacIntyre has a scanner gun with a digital display on it. Standing on picking on Tuesday morning , he shows placed by the Agincourt Community Services Food Bank — 15 cases of pasta sauce, 12 cases of canned beans, and so on. The order represents a wish list of what the agency needs to serve the clients it expects this week.

    MacIntyre and two volunteers wander the aisles piled high with pallets. MacIntyre will scan the label, automatically adjusting his digital shopping list and simultaneously the inventory tracked in Daily Bread’s system. A volunteer will lift the box onto the pallet of Agincourt’s order.

    MacIntyre, who lives in Malvern, has been a warehouse associate since January 2014 — beginning with a seven week placement arranged by Youth Employment Services, a non-profit agency that works with disadvantaged and vulnerable youth. Daily Bread, they kept him on, and he has been here on picking row ever since.

    “I knew coming in that it had a lot to do with helping feed hungry people. But as I started working here, you see how big it really is,” he says of both Daily Bread and the problem it aims to address. “I may have my bad days — everyone does — but at the end of the day, we do something really good here and I’m happy to be a part of it.”

    MacIntyre turns to a box of canned fish containing the tuna we have been following and scans it, and volunteer Al DeMatos picks it up and places it on the Agincourt pallet.

    DeMatos has been coming to Daily Bread from his home near Christie and Bloor to help out — often three times a week — for 12 years. He hasn’t worked since he left a job way back then in a print shop, and he says volunteering “breaks up the monotony of being at home.”

    DeMatos wheels the now full pallet to a rotating turntable embedded in the floor. The pallet starts spinning quickly , until it is entirely wrapped in cellophane.

    Then MacIntyre wheels the skid into the shipping area where it will be held until tomorrow. It is the first of 11 pallets that will make up Agincourt’s order.

    CHAPTER SEVEN: THE LONG DRIVE

    Bruce Robinson lives right around the corner from the Daily Bread Warehouse, and it’s a good thing, since his workday starts before the late November sun rises. “It’s not that early,” he says, “just 7 a.m.”

    For more than six years, he has been working at Daily Bread, driving a truck. “This is a little more than just a job,” he says. “If you don’t have the right attitude, you’re not going to do well. You never really know how many people need help until you’re out there helping. And there are thousands involved in helping. The people in Toronto are very generous.”

    Robinson double checks Agincourt’s order along with orders for the other agencies where he will deliver this morning, 9,396 pounds of food in total.

    A few small birds fly around inside the warehouse as Robinson hefts milk, Halal beef patties, fresh bread and buns, and the rest, packing it all onto his truck parked at Dock 7 . He uses expandable poles to try to secure a load stacked high with wooden crates of green beans that he’s certain will fall over. And he loads the pallet containing the box that contains that tin of Gold Seal tuna.

    At 9 a.m., Robinson’s truck is full.

    CHAPTER EIGHT: THE HUB’S HUMAN ASSEMBLY LINE

    The Dorset Park Community Hub — a sort of one-stop shop for community services — was established as part of the United Way’s priority neighbourhoods strategy almost a decade ago.

    For the past several years, it has also been home to the Agincourt Community Services Association Food Bank.

    Just after 10:30 a.m. on a Thursday morning, a crew of about 10 volunteers and staff are waiting when Robinson pulls up with the truck.

    Robinson lowers a pallet and, as while he returns for another, the volunteers carry boxes into the hallway for temporary storage until the items can be sorted. They stack fresh vegetables — including that intact tower of green beans — near the door of the kitchen, where volunteers will sort the bushels into smaller bags . Milk and meat immediately go into the fridges in the pantry . Canned and boxed non-perishables — granola bars, chocolate cake mix, Dole Squish ’Ems — are stacked along the walls down the hall for now.

    Brent Shakleton grabs one of the boxes of canned fish, containing the can of Gold Seal tuna, and marches it down the hall , past a classroom where women are taking a sewing class, and places it on the floor.

    Shackleton has been volunteering here three days a week for the past five years. He was homeless and using the drop-in program Agincourt Community Services runs on Sheppard Avenue. He had 11 years experience working as a cook, so when the program needed volunteers in the kitchen, he was happy to put his knife skills to use. That led to him helping with the food bank program.

    Today, he lives in Agincourt, though not employed, and continues to volunteer. . “The city of Toronto helped me out when I needed it so much, and I’m just returning the favour,” he says. He’s sometimes client of the food bank. “This is one of the best food banks I’ve seen. The people are so nice here. How can you go wrong? If I have a problem to be solved, they can help me out,” he says of the supportive Agincourt Community Services team. “If you can’t find help through this organization, you’re never gonna find it,” he says.

    CHAPTER NINE: SHELVING

    Pirrette Praden, a retired cheese importer who lives in Scarborough near the Hub, has come by the food bank once a week for the past eight years. She answered an ad in the Scarborough Mirror during a Christmas food drive, and has been helping ever since. “I might be a little drop in the ocean, but I think we need to return to society what society gave us — that makes me feel good, and it keeps me meeting people,” she says. “In a city as big and as rich as Toronto, there shouldn’t be a place like this, it’s unfortunate.”

    Praden takes the box of canned fish from the hallway into the pantry and puts the cans, including the Gold Seal can, one by one, onto a shelf.

    CHAPTER 10: BASKET MAKING

    Thursday is one of three days that the Agincourt Community Services food bank is open. At 10 a.m., clients begin arriving, so bright and early volunteers are buzzing around — bagging fresh food into individual servings, setting up tables where food will be picked up and where people can exchange items for others they prefer, and preparing baskets.

    Gemma Rodrigues works from a list of items every client will get in their basket . Rodrigues moves the box she’s filling in a circle , stopping every few feet to take cans off the shelf, checking items off the list.

    Rodrigues, a retired BMO IT worker who lives near Pharmacy and Huntingwood began volunteering a decade ago. She was simply walking past and wandered in to ask if they needed help. It keeps her active — “no need to go to the gym!” — and social.

    Rodrigues says that it can be sad to confront the level of need in Toronto, to see how many people are having trouble putting food on their tables, but that the work is good for her and helps put her life in perspective. “I have so much to be thankful for.”

    Rodrigues takes the can of Gold Seal tuna off the shelf and places it in the box. Completing the list, she takes the box into the hallway, and places it on a table just outside the door.

    Here, Alice Liu adds fresh items to the box. There’s milk, fruit, bread, and — this week — frozen meat patties. Liu has been volunteering for about four and a half years since retiring as a business analyst at IBM.

    She moves the now full box to the end of the table, ready for distribution.

    “There’s a great demand for the food bank, there’s quite a lot of families that need the food,” she says.

    CHAPTER 11: DELIVERY

    Christine Markwell, a lifelong Guildwood resident, is the staff co-ordinator of the Agincourt food bank. She walks the box over to the central hallway where food bank recipients are picking up provisions.

    After more than seven years at the job, Markwell says that she feels she’s in touch with the needs of some of the most disadvantaged people in the city. “What the work has really shown me is the appreciation people have for getting something like a food supplement. But also that we’re only able to reach certain members of society. For every person who uses a food bank, there might be three or four more who are food insecure.”

    She says there should be a bigger shift, to a better system to make food available to people — through schools or community events, or through better services to impoverished people. Her organization, drawing on vast resources of volunteer labour and charitable donations, is only able to provide emergency help. They can’t address the underlying problem.

    “The food bank system is not an effective system. It would be great if there were other government or corporate initiatives to provide better food at affordable prices to people.”

    She hands the box, containing that can of Gold Seal tuna, to Keema Roberts.

    CHAPTER 12: BRINGING IT HOME

    Keema Roberts is a 39-year-old single mother who lives in an apartment at Victoria Park and Sheppard with her 10-year-old son, Avery. She has a community work diploma from George Brown College that she completed in her 20s, and in 2012 she finished a bachelor’s degree in social work from York but she’s been working contract to contract throughout her adult life. She’s living on EI, but her benefits expire in a few months, and she may wind up in the social services system if she doesn’t land a job.

    She and her son have relied on the food bank periodically since he was a baby and she was a student at George Brown. Back then, she went to the student food bank at the college, and after she graduated she found Agincourt Community Services online.

    On Tuesday morning this week, she called Agincourt Community Services to make an appointment, and today a friend drove her to her 10:15 allotted time. After filling in a form on which she requested canned fish , she has been waiting in the line. .

    Now, she takes the box from Markwell and transfers the items from the box into reusable shopping bags she’s brought with her. She takes a can of tomato soup over to the trading station and exchanges it for a box of macaroni and cheese.

    When the particular can of Gold Seal tuna is pointed out to her, she smiles. To the person who donated it — and all those who donate to the food bank network — she says, “I’d just express a big thank you.”

    Roberts says that her situation, a mother who is educated with lots of work experience, but still fighting a lifelong struggle with poverty, may be more common than many people think. It’s a situation she’s studied in school, worked to deal with professionally, and continues to live first-hand.

    “It’s sad. We should be able to help out those in need in a better way than we do now. There are so many people in my position — if they get sick and lose their job, they could be literally living on the street. It’s really hard, it’s confusing, it’s sad that a better safety net hasn’t been developed.”

    Still, the safety net that does exist, in the form of the food bank, has made a huge difference in the lives of Roberts and her son.

    “Outside of just feeding us, it’s helped me to budget better. If I had to use money to buy food, I probably wouldn’t have a roof over my head. It’s a big deal. It helps feed us, but without it we’d lose other things that are really important. It’s a lifesaver.”

    She carries her bags out the front door to her friend’s car. At her home finally, this can of tuna will become filling for a sandwich for a mother and her son.

    That is the story of one ingredient for one meal for one family: Purchased in the Junction. Processed in Etobicoke. Handled by children from midtown, parents from Bloor West Village and retirees from Agincourt. Distributed in Scarborough. It is a story about how it takes a city to feed a child.

    It’s a story that’s repeated millions of times in Toronto every year, with millions of food items, tens of thousands of donors, many thousand more hungry recipients. It’s a story that involves all of us. And it goes on.

    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

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