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Daily Canada Newswatch

Submit News to CKA News Bystander just minding her business when stray bullet hits her
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 21:33:32 EDT

Suzan Zreik had dreamed of one day becoming a police officer. But after being hit by a stray bullet during a police shooting outside her Mississauga home, she’s not so sure.

Two officers were wounded and a 30-year-old man was killed after police responded to a shooting call on March 20 outside a townhouse complex on Queen Frederica Dr. near Dixie Rd. and Dundas St. E.

Before the bullets flew, Zreik had gone to the door to let her cat in about 10 p.m. The 21-year-old student, who is studying police foundations at Humber College, noticed a heated altercation between her female neighbour, her neighbour’s son and police out on the street.

“I’m gonna mind my business,” she recalls thinking at the time.

She shut the door and went into the kitchen, where she began cutting up a lime. Then she heard gunshots, and before she knew it a stray bullet hit her in the back.

“It’s kind of like an instant impact,” she says. “You feel that instant pain. It’s a shock to your body.”

While Zreik applied pressure to the wound to staunch the bleeding, her mother ran outside.

“You shot my daughter!” Zreik heard her mom shout.

“No, we didn’t. No, we didn’t,” someone shouted back.

Still clutching her back, Zreik went outside, where an officer helped apply pressure until an ambulance came to take her to Trillium Health Partners. Doctors at the hospital told her the bullet was close to her spine. She is now waiting for surgery.

Const. George Tudos, a spokesman for Peel Regional Police, said both officers involved were stabbed in the confrontation, and one was also shot. Both have since been released from hospital and are “expected to make a full recovery.”

The neighbour’s son was fatally shot and pronounced dead on the scene, according to the Special Investigations Unit, the provincial watchdog that looks into police-related incidents that end in death or serious injury.

The SIU is investigating how the neighbour’s son died, but is not looking into Zreik’s injury.

“The injury sustained by the civilian was not considered to be serious in nature,” SIU spokesperson Monica Hudon said in an email.

Police have since charged the man’s mother, Boketsu Boekwa, 50, with two counts of conspiring to commit murder, assault with a deadly weapon and uttering threats to cause serious injury, said Const. Thomas Ruttan of the Peel police.

Zreik said the shootings have left her shaken and questioning her career path. She thinks the confrontation got out of hand and police should have been more cautious in the dense residential complex.

“It’s not even just the pain. It’s that what you feel like as home no longer feels like your home. It’s a place where you’re scared,” she said.

Peel police would not provide further comment because the matter is under investigation by the SIU.

With files from Lauren Pelley

Submit News to CKA News Wave of ?religious freedom? bills raises fears of anti-gay discrimination
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 21:11:00 EDT

WASHINGTON—They can’t stop same-sex marriage. They can make it hard for two grooms to buy a wedding cake.

As the gay rights movement steams toward a final victory in the U.S. marriage wars, social conservatives around the country are fighting back with a wave of “religious freedom” bills that may allow the devout to deny certain services to gays and lesbians.

“I think this is the last-ditch effort to quote-unquote ‘do something’ before the Supreme Court rules on marriage equality this summer,” said David Bachman, 26, a gay Republican small-business owner in Atlanta who calls the Georgia bill “a bunch of crap.”

The Indiana bill is now law. Republican Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act on Thursday, saying “many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action.”

The law doesn’t single out any group, and Pence said “this bill is not about discrimination,” but the law’s Christian backers made their intentions unmistakable. One of the people Pence let stand behind him for his bill-signing ceremony was Eric Miller, the leader of the influential conservative group Advance America.

“Christian bakers, florists and photographers should not be punished for refusing to participate in a homosexual marriage!” Advance America said in its web page on the bill. “A Christian business should not be punished for refusing to allow a man to use the women’s restroom!”

Bill Liskow, a married gay Navy veteran near South Bend, said he is so dismayed he is thinking about buying a state flag and flying it upside down. His husband, also a veteran, broached the subject of moving to Canada.

“What if we go to eat at a restaurant,” said Liskow, 45. “They put two and two together when they see two guys and two young kids. They come and ask us to leave. ‘We don’t want you to eat at our establishment.’ How is that going to look to my boys? I’m so fired up, I just can’t — is it not 2015? I don’t understand.”

Religious freedom laws are not new. President Bill Clinton approved one in the early 1990s, long before the marriage fight came to the fore, and more than 15 states followed. The new bills, though, are more expansive: they would apply to disputes between private individuals, not just cases where the government is directly involved.

Arizona’s governor vetoed a bill there last year. Proposals in West Virginia and Oklahoma have died. Bills are still being debated in Montana, Arkansas, North Carolina and elsewhere.

The actual consequences of the bills are not yet obvious. The Indiana law, for example, doesn’t legalize discrimination against gays and lesbians. It does say the government can’t “substantially burden” someone’s right to exercise their religion unless the government’s action is essential to achieving a “compelling government interest.”

Under the new law, a religious Indiana baker could file a legal challenge of a city anti-discrimination law that would force him to make a cake for a gay wedding. But the baker could lose the case if the court decided that preventing such discrimination was a compelling government interest.

Daniel Conkle, an Indiana University law professor who supports same-sex marriage but also supports the new law, said no court has ruled in favour of a religious objector even in a case over wedding services — “the most sympathetic” religious-rights situation related to gays and lesbians.

“If you have a religious objector, say a restaurant owner, who simply says, ‘I don’t serve gays and lesbians because that offends my religion’ — if that’s the argument, I can tell you they lose,” Conkle said. “The religious objector will lose if the discrimination is simply discriminating against people because of who they are.”

The gay community is not so certain. Under the Montana bill, “individuals could lose their jobs or be evicted from their homes simply because of who they are,” said Kim Leighton, a Pride Foundation organizer in the state.

The Indiana bill may cost the state millions. Salesforce, the technology company, announced Thursday that it is cancelling all programs that require employees “to travel to Indiana to face discrimination.” And two conventions are threatening to move.

Submit News to CKA News Sandro Lisi drug trial: Court hears about alleged drug deal on audio recording
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 20:31:59 EDT

On behalf of Rob Ford (open Rob Ford's policard)’s friend and former driver Alexander “Sandro” Lisi, the owner of an Etobicoke dry cleaners allegedly sold an undercover officer 226 grams of marijuana, according to audio recordings played in court Thursday.

In recordings secretly taken by the undercover officer Ross Fernandes on Oct. 1, 2013, Jamshid Bahrami calls Lisi to confirm that the lower price of $900 or “nine shirts” will be acceptable.

Bahrami made Fernandes put the money into a sealed envelope because Lisi doesn’t trust him, the court heard.

The officer made efforts to meet Lisi for six weeks through Bahrami. The dry cleaner testified that he never meets or speaks to Lisi himself.

“No, no he says he doesn’t want to meet anybody,” Bahrami tells Fernandes. “Right now because of this heat on him he says he doesn’t wanna get… get anybody else involved in this sh--t.”

The “heat” stemmed from reports of a video of Rob Ford appearing to smoke crack cocaine that emerged in May.

Both Lisi and Bahrami have pleaded not guilty to marijuana trafficking and possession of the proceeds of crime.

During cross examination of Fernandes, Bahrami’s lawyer suggested it was Lisi who was the target of the drug investigation, not his client.

“The whole purpose…was to get Lisi involved in a drug deal,” Jacob Stilman told the court.

Fernandes replied: “The whole point was to follow the information we received which was Bahrami was a suspected marijuana drug dealer at the dry cleaners. He led us to (another supplier) and Mr. Lisi.”

Fernandes repeatedly testified that he only learned that Lisi was also a target of the investigation days after it had begun. He said he did not know about any link the investigation had with the former mayor.

Stilman suggested that Bahrami was not selling drugs, he was buying small amounts of marijuana for personal use. Fernandes agreed that he did not witness anyone else attempt to buy drugs from Bahrami in the time he spent at the dry cleaners.

Stilman also asked whether Fernandes knew the police were aware Bahrami had a medical marijuana licence months before commencing the operation.

Fernandes said he was not aware of this.

Stilman suggested it was unusual that the police would spend six weeks on an investigation that yielded only 1.5 pounds (680 grams) of marijuana at a cost of $3,100.

He questioned Fernandes about the unusual size and scope of the police investigation, which included an aerial surveillance plane and pole cameras.

Two top homicide investigators and officers from the Professional Standards unit were also involved in overseeing the operation, Stilman said.

“It’s not an ordinary opportunity drug buy operation when you have that kind of brass in the briefing room,” said Stilman.

Fernandes agreed that this was not usual on straightforward drug buys.

Should Bahrami be convicted, Stilman is expected to argue that the officer entrapped his client, constituting an abuse of process.

Lisi’s lawyer Domenic Basile is expected to argue none of the conversations between the officer and Bahrami are admissible as evidence against Lisi.

The trial continues.

Submit News to CKA News Joe Oliver avoiding Question Period so he can prepare the federal budget: spokeswoman
Fri, 27 Mar 2015 00:24:40 +0000
Oliver is under pressure because he has delayed the budget ? his first ? citing uncertainty over oil prices. But when Opposition MPs complain, he is not there to hear them
Submit News to CKA News Joe Oliver avoiding Question Period so he can prepare the federal budget: spokeswoman
Fri, 27 Mar 2015 00:24:40 Z
Oliver is under pressure because he has delayed the budget — his first — citing uncertainty over oil prices. But when Opposition MPs complain, he is not there to hear them
Submit News to CKA News 'Best weapon' against ISIL is 'political solution,' Foreign Affairs says
Fri, 27 Mar 2015 00:24:10 Z
Canadian diplomats have quietly warned members of Parliament that the “best weapon” for fighting the Islamic State is diplomacy and finding a “political solution” — a message that appears to run counter to the Conservative government’s emphasis on military action. Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced earlier this week that the government would extend its military […]
Submit News to CKA News U of T strike over as teaching assistants vote to enter arbitration
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 20:20:49 EDT

The strike at the University of Toronto may be over now that teaching assistants have agreed to binding arbitration, but for students, “it’s bittersweet; we’ve essentially lost a month of term,” said the head of the 20,000-member Arts and Science Students’ Union.

“It’s a messy situation; I hope the TAs get a deal that satisfies their demands, but it’s a tense time now for students who have to try to salvage whatever they can,” said ASSU President Abdullah Shihipar.

With just five days left of class, striking teaching and graduate assistants and course instructors voted to return to work Friday in time for final assignments, classes and exams.

“I’m going to email my students Friday morning and tell them that as many catch-up sessions and review sessions as they need, they can have,” said teaching assistant Craig Smith, spokesperson for the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 3902, which walked off the job March 2. “The students know we care about them.”

Union members voted Thursday 942 to 318 in favour of binding arbitration.

“Achieving a new agreement through a bargaining process would have been preferable but we are proud of the light the strike has shed on the problems inherent in higher education,” said CUPE 3902 Chair Erin Black.

University President Meric Gertler, who asked the union Wednesday for binding arbitration, thanked students for their patience in enduring “uncertainty and anxiety at a crucial time in the year — especially those in the final year of their programs. We are enormously relieved that the strike is over and share a commitment to resolving all remaining complications caused by the strike as soon as possible.”

The sticking point has been the complex funding package that graduate students receive — a mix of research grants, tuition rebates, scholarships and, for CUPE members, wages for marking papers, doing research, teaching and running tutorials. The U of T’s latest offer would provide money to raise the minimum funding package for members to $17,500 a year from $15,000, where it has been since 2008.

But critics rejected the deal last weekend because it failed to enshrine the minimum funding package in the union contract, rather than have it set by academics as is common at Canadian universities. While universities do negotiate hourly rates of pay for grad students who work for them, not all grad students are in the union, and not all union members are grad students, which is why university officials say the overall funding package doesn’t belong in the collective agreement.

“No matter what the terms agreed upon through binding arbitration, some huge fissures in higher education have been exposed during the strike,” warned Professor Emily Gilbert. “We need to work towards fair and workable solutions that include discussions among graduate students, undergraduate students, faculty and staff to address the structural inequities that exist.”

Meanwhile at York University, bargaining was to resume Friday with the union representing its striking teaching assistants, who walked off the job March 3.

The U of T strike has affected undergraduates in different ways, because while the university chose not to cancel classes taught by non-CUPE members, some 5 to 6 per cent of courses run by CUPE course instructors did stop teaching, leaving hundreds of students with no instructor.

“Most of the language classes like French, German, Spanish aren’t happening because most are taught by course instructors who are CUPE members,” said Sandy Hudson, executive director of the University of Toronto Student Union. “One French major complained at a town hall that their instructor suggested they try to teach themselves by watching YouTube videos online.”

Second-year student Christina Rae Gorman said she hasn’t had an Italian class since the end of February “so we never got to learn the future tense. I want to take Italian next year, but I’ve never learned the future. At the end of the day I’ve missed a whole month of classes that I’ve paid for.”

In her Canada and Globalization class, Professor Emily Gilbert told students that if teaching assistants did not return by the beginning of May when marks are due, she would have given them a pass/fail on one assignment that TAs had not marked, which is worth about 25 per cent of the mark.

“We can’t actually mark work that our TAs would normally mark because that would be taking over work they have a contract to do,” said Gilbert.

Student Sean Stewart said in his German class, “we last met on Feb. 27. This was the last class before our midterm, which obviously hasn't happened. We have missed four weeks of instruction, amounting to about 16 hours as of tomorrow.

“The department has been giving us homework to do out of our textbook, but it's designed for a classroom and not for book learning, so it hasn't been going very well,” said Stewart. “And of course we have no opportunity to practise speaking German.

“The strike has severely affected my mastery of the language, more so because this is a first-year course for absolute beginners. At this stage in language acquisition you really need a teacher.”

These issues of missed material and tweaked marking schemes “raise issues of academic integrity – like hand-out credits,” noted ASSU President Abdullar Shihipar. While a simple pass/fail mark might seem appealing to students now, it might not carry enough clout to help the student get into grad school in future, for example.

While most tutorials and labs were cancelled, some union members opted to keep teaching, leaving some students with the benefit of their teaching assistants and others without.

Union bargaining committee chair Ryan Culpepper said earlier Thursday a deal hammered out at the bargaining table is “always preferable to one imposed by a third party,” but some union members said they felt there was little to gain on the picket line with students leaving soon for the summer.

Submit News to CKA News Shelley Fralic: The hidden treasure of B.C. dairy farmers
Fri, 27 Mar 2015 00:13:50 Z
The best thing about hidden treasures is when you realize that they weren’t so hidden after all, like when your great aunt discovered that gloomy little painting hanging by the piano all those years was an Emily Carr. And so it has been with three large murals, painted by the late U.S. illustrator and painter John Ford Clymer, that have quietly moved around Metro Vancouver since they were commissioned 90 years ago.
Submit News to CKA News Verdict in death of indigenous sex worker sparks rallies, calls for appeal
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 20:13:12 -0400
Court finds Ontario trucker not guilty of murdering First Nations sex worker in 2011, sparking protests and calls for appeal
Submit News to CKA News Ukrainian leader strikes blow against oligarchy
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 20:09:28 EDT

Guns, goons, and an ousted governor.

Ukraine’s past week was nothing if not dramatic.

As the removal of mega-rich Dnipropetrovsk governor Ihor Kolomoisky was followed by the realer-than-reality-TV arrest of two senior officials live on air, the questions were as thick as the thieves many Ukrainians say have been in charge of their economic destinies for far too long.

“It’s not every day that an oligarch gets forced from office and loses control of a company he never deserved to control in the first place,” says William Pomeranz, deputy director of the Washington-based Kennan Institute.

“But we’ll have to wait and see where it goes from here.”

Kolomoisky left office after a detail of armed and masked heavies briefly occupied the state-owned oil company UkrTransNafta, following the removal of its director, reportedly a crony of the billionaire governor.

The Emergency Situations Service officials were handcuffed and detained during a televised government session, on suspicion of corrupt dealings with offshore companies.

“This will happen to everyone who breaks the law and sneers at the Ukrainian state,” warned Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who tweeted images of the officials’ arrest.

But Ukrainians who have lived through decades of corruption may be less confident. Last year the country was ranked 142nd out of 175 countries on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, a rating on a par with Uganda.

Citizens are asking whether the moves are the beginning of a top-down campaign to eradicate Ukraine’s endemic corruption, or merely a visible show to impress voters and sharp-eyed international lenders to whom Kyiv owes billions of dollars.

But President Petro Poroshenko moved swiftly Thursday to answer questions about the repercussions of taking down a powerful governor who bankrolled volunteer units that bolstered the weakened army of Ukraine against pro-Russian separatists.

“There is no destabilization and there won’t be,” Poroshenko said in eastern Ukraine, according to Bloomberg. “Regarding Kolomoisky, I have no doubt about his patriotism.”

Part of the peaceful resolution, says Economistthe Economist, may be that “by defending Ukraine, Mr. Kolomoisky was also protecting his business empire. His bank, PrivatBank, offered rewards of $10,000 for captured separatists and equipped some of its armoured cars for military use.”

Last March Kolomoisky was awarded the governorship of Ukraine’s key industrial region, underscoring the close relationship of the oligarchs and government.

However, many who joined the Euromaidan Revolution that ousted then-president Viktor Yanukovych, felt betrayed by the lack of change in the corrupt system.

“It’s no exaggeration to suggest that the country’s prospects for long-term success and cohesion will be determined by its ability to pursue far-reaching reforms to modernize the state and check the power of the oligarchs,” wrote Balazs Jarabik of the Carnegie Endowment.

Some corruption indicators have improved in the past year and reforms have been launched, including a law that changed the rules to break the hold of too-muscular minority corporate shareholders like Kolomoisky, who had taken virtual control of the state oil company UkrNafta.

However, the pre-Euromaidan oligarchy is still a dominant force, said Oleksandr Bondar, former head of Ukraine’s State Property Fund.

“(Rinat) Akhmetov controls the energy sector, the metals industry and telecoms as well,” Bondar told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. “(Dmytro) Firtash controls the chemical industry. They continue to wield power and will continue to blackmail the government. Kolomoisky is not the only one doing this.”

Ironically, it’s Poroshenko, an oligarch known as the Chocolate King for his lucrative confectionary business, who has become a chocolate soldier against corruption.

How much farther he will go against his peers — whose influence stretches from finance to politics and the military — may depend on whether he fears their wrath less than that of the multitudes who turned out to push Yanukovych from power.

At a time of ongoing war, a refugee crisis, a 22 per cent decline in industrial output and falling wages, Poroshenko’s government will need all the solidarity it can get from a public whose nerves, wallets and patience are all but exhausted.

Submit News to CKA News Two Uber drivers plead guilty amid Ottawa crackdown
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 20:08:00 -0400
The City of Ottawa is continuing its crackdown on Uber cabs, as the company touts job creation in Ontario.
Submit News to CKA News Would-be immigrant investors decry ban on Iranian funds
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 20:07:28 -0400
After delays of up to two years, 100 applicants looking to build business here are threatening legal action to push cases forward
Submit News to CKA News MPs received $442,524 worth of free travel from third parties in 2014
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 20:06:04 EDT

OTTAWA—Sixty MPs declared 86 free trips — courtesy of advocacy organizations, business groups and foreign embassies — worth a total of $442,524 last year, according to a summary of sponsored travel reports released Thursday by Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson.

The most popular destinations for travel junkets in 2014 were Taiwan, which received 17 visits, and Israel, which was frequented 12 times.

MPs are required to disclose travel worth more than $500 — and paid for by someone other than the federal government, political parties, interparliamentary associations or the MPs themselves — to the commissioner within 60 days.

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair travelled to Las Vegas with his executive assistant George Smith to speak at the convention for the United Steelworkers International, from Aug. 11 to 12, 2014. The union covered $2,915 in travel costs.

Liberal MP Irwin Cotler travelled to Israel to address a counterterrorism conference in Herzliya from Sept. 4 to 12, 2014. The university IDC Herzliya covered $5,219 in travel costs.

NDP MP Paul Dewar attended the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons from Dec. 6 to 9, 2014. The Friedrich-Ebert Foundation covered $2,105 in travel costs.

Liberal MP Stéphane Dion travelled to Spain, visiting Barcelona, Madrid and Tarragona, to participate on multiple panels at a conference from Mar. 8 to 13, 2014. La Fundacion Canada and Federalistes d’Esquerres covered $2,947 in travel costs.

Conservative MP James Rajotte travelled to Ghana “to experience realities, opportunities and challenges” in the country from July 14 to 24, 2014. Engineers Without Borders Canada covered $3,629 in travel costs.

Conservative MP Barry Devolin travelled to Seoul, South Korea from March 9 to 22, 2014, first as part of the official delegation with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and then stayed on for work in his role as co-chair of the Canada-Korea Interparliamentary Friendship Group. Devolin declared $1,077 worth of hotel accommodations from Korean businesswoman Hoon Park and $658 worth of ground transportation from Korean businessman Byong Gil Suh. He paid his own way home.

Conservative MP Russ Hiebert travelled to Taipei, Taiwan with his wife, Andrea Heibert, for “economic and cultural education,” from April 12 to 26, 2014. The Chinese International Economic Co-operative Association covered $10,867, including $125 worth of gifts.

Conservative MP Terence Young travelled to Paris with his wife, Slawka (Gloria) Young, for a conference supporting democracy in Iran from June 26 to 28, 2014. The Iran Democratic Association and Ben Matin, president of Powerline Plus covered $2,994 in travel costs, including a $30 gift.

Data analysis by Andrew Bailey

Submit News to CKA News ?Serial entrepreneur? Philip Davis Sprung challenged convention
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 20:05:22 -0400
As the third-generation overseer of Sprung Instant Structures, he built a reputation on mixing humanity with business
Submit News to CKA News Manitoba researcher has a plan to make mosquitoes drop like flies
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 20:05:00 -0400
A University of Manitoba researcher is hatching a plan to control mosquito populations by chemically sterilizing a batch of males and releasing them into the wild.
Submit News to CKA News Changes needed to reverse apathy to earthquake preparedness in B.C.: report
Fri, 27 Mar 2015 00:02:28 Z
All levels of society must work to reverse a deep seated apathy to earthquake preparedness in B.C., according to a report for the province released Thursday.
Submit News to CKA News Alberta?s nightmare laid bare
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 19:43:03 -0400
The hype about Thursday?s budget was real ? the province is about to feel a pain the rest of the country has known for decades
Submit News to CKA News SUCCESS sets $500,000-fundraising goal for Saturday's gala
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 23:36:21 Z
The flagship fundraising event for Vancouver-based SUCCESS — one of Canada's largest non-profit community/immigrant-service organizations — is set to take centre stage on Saturday.
Submit News to CKA News B.C. legislature returns unused $8 million to provincial coffers
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 23:31:37 Z
The B.C. legislature is returning more than $8 million in unused money from its budget back to the provincial government.
Submit News to CKA News TTC signals it has learned from troubled Spadina subway
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 19:27:20 EDT

There were no good options, lamented TTC chair Josh Colle (open Josh Colle's policard).

In the end, the TTC had to find a way to complete the over-budget, late Spadina subway extension as soon as possible, he said. So the transit agency’s board approved on Thursday the hiring of an outside engineering firm to oversee the remaining 30 per cent of the project by the end of 2017.

The move will add $150 million to the subway’s $2.6 billion budget. But that is less than the $185 million that TTC CEO Andy Byford said it would cost if the TTC continued to manage the project on its own. That option, one of four that were put before the board, would also have the latest completion date – mid-2019.

Although some TTC commissioners wanted a competitive bidding process for the project management contract, the TTC will sole-source the deal and Byford confirmed he already has his eye on a company.

He will report back late this year on how the TTC proposes to better handle its next big build, the Scarborough subway.

By then though, a third-party review of all TTC capital projects – a move proposed by Colle – will also be complete.

Both he and Byford have publicly admitted that it might be time for the TTC to surrender big construction projects, given the enormous task of operating and modernizing the transit system.

One sign that the TTC has already learned from the mistakes on Spadina was the board’s approval of a recommendation to restructure another of the TTC’s mega-projects, the $562-million re-signaling of the Yonge-University-Spadina subway.

“We are indeed looking more closely at projects,” admitted Byford.

A review of the project by TTC deputy chief operating officer Mike Palmer, brought from England last year, confirmed that “the re-signaling scheme was overly complicated.

“There were too many contractors involved. We absolutely had to simplify that project in order to protect time and budget,” said Byford.

So the TTC has transferred a major piece of the automatic train control contract from Ansaldo-STS to Alstom Power Transport. The move won’t change the overall cost of the project but will reduce the number of contractors. Too many contractors have been cited as a key problem on Spadina.

The change will also mean 25 to 30 fewer weekend subway closures between now and the new signal system’s launch by 2020.

Meantime, York Region councillors approved an additional $60 million for Spadina – its share of the $150 million requirement.

“It is disappointing to us that this project has slipped off schedule and that it requires more budget funds,” said York CAO Bruce Macgregor, who was co-chair of the executive task force overseeing the Spadina project.

Files from Noor Javed

Submit News to CKA News B.C.'s Heiltsuk Nation mobilizes boats to protect herring fishery
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 23:26:53 Z
The Heiltsuk Nation is vowing to protect herring in its territory by any means necessary as it readies boats to defend a contentious fishery on B.C.'s Central Coast.
Submit News to CKA News Woman who planned to sneak drugs into Kamloops prison must attend rehab
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 23:26:48 Z
A woman who plotted to smuggle drugs into a Kamloops prison must serve 18 month's probation.
Submit News to CKA News Air Canada to require two people in cockpit after revelations about Germanwings co-pilot
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 23:26:45 Z
Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick said the policy change will be implemented 'without delay'
Submit News to CKA News Canada increases funding for share of NASA space telescope (with video)
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 23:22:08 Z
Canada will spend an extra $2.6 million to build the James Webb Space Telescope, NASA’s next great space-based observatory which is due to launch in 2018. The cash is on top of $160 million the government has already committed to the telescope, which has significant Canadian content. The huge Webb — larger than a school gymnasium […]
Submit News to CKA News High as a kite on cherry blossoms
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 23:21:26 Z
First, we need to set the record straight: there will be cherry blossoms, lots and lots of cherry blossoms.
Submit News to CKA News Glitter and 'food substance' prompt emergency response in Toronto
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 19:18:52 -0400

Firefighters and cops were greeted by glitter and a food substance after responding to two calls for a powdery substance in the mail on Thursday.
Submit News to CKA News Northwest Territories hands out iPads to new parents as part of experiment to boost childhood development
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 23:10:38 Z
New parents in the Northwest Territories will soon get free iPads from the government in a 'made in the north' experiment critics fear is a big waste of taxpayers' money
Submit News to CKA News Supreme Court to rule on Quebec?s bid to keep gun registry records
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 19:09:08 -0400
Ottawa claims it has the right to destroy the information collected for the now-abolished registry
Submit News to CKA News Killer whales in captivity: An idea whose time has passed?
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 22:48:32 +0000

As attitudes change, it may be time for animal advocates to change their focus from captive killer whales to wild ones

The post Killer whales in captivity: An idea whose time has passed? appeared first on Macleans.ca.

Submit News to CKA News Supreme Court to rule Friday on fate of gun-registry data
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 22:43:19 Z
The Supreme Court Friday will rule on whether the federal government has the right to destroy the remaining records of the now-defunct federal long-gun registry.
Submit News to CKA News Quebec budget is deficit-free for the first time in seven years ? ?but many great challenges still lie ahead?
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 22:35:08 Z
The spending cuts seen since the Liberals were elected last April, which have led to escalating street protests, were a taste of what is in store
Submit News to CKA News Q and A: Military Police complaints chief retires with unfinished business
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 22:29:30 Z
Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC) chairman Glenn Stannard retires this weekend after issuing the commission’s final report into the 2008 suicide of Cpl. Stuart Langridge.
Submit News to CKA News Michael Den Tandt: Stephen Harper shuns the progressive conservatism of his political hero
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 22:28:16 Z
The combination of free markets, fiscal conservatism and social idealism — all championed by John Diefenbaker — remains deeply appealing to many Canadians
Submit News to CKA News Canadian retailers move past the Target era
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 18:27:54 EDT

Canadian retailers aren’t celebrating Target’s retreat, but after four years of cut-throat competition, they are enjoying a little bit of breathing room.

“The exit of one of the big players (Target) – it’s good news for the industry that square footage is easing a bit,” said Eric La Flêche, president and chief executive officer of Metro Inc., speaking at the annual CIBC retail conference, held Thursday.

“We feel better about the market than we did a year ago.”

Target, which included pharmacy and grocery departments in its stores, is shuttering operations in Canada, following a disastrous attempt to expand outside the U.S. The closure of all 133 will put 17,600 people out of work by about mid-May.

The day-long CIBC retail conference included presentations by the leaders of some of Canada’s largest retailers, including Michael Medline, president and chief executive officer, Canadian Tire Corp. Ltd. and Marc Poulin, president and CEO, Empire Company Ltd., which includes the Sobeys and Safeway grocery banners.

“I think there is an element of pride,” said CIBC retail equity analyst Marc Petrie, of Canadian retailers that survived and even prospered during two years of intense competition.

“It’s a little early to be celebratory. The space is still out there. Some of it might go dark, but if a better retailer takes that space, it’s a net negative to the market,” Petrie added.

Still, the outlook for 2015 is more positive for retailers than it has been for a couple of years, said CIBC analyst Perry Caicco. Gas prices are down, putting more money into the pockets of consumers; a potentially strong competitor has left the market and the economy is faring well.

“Christmas went well and 2015 should be a pretty good time period for most of these companies,” said Caicco.

The grocery market remains competitive – Metro will spend $300 million on improving its network of stores in 2015, La Flêche said.

On Thursday, Metro opened the doors to a sleek new store at Humber Bay Park featuring 100 different varieties of cheese, 60 salad bar selections, a Starbucks with seating and a grill program offering customers the opportunity to choose from a wide selection of proteins to be grilled in-store.

Empire will launch Air Miles programs at Sobey’s and Foodland stores on Friday, becoming the largest Air Miles sponsor from coast-to-coast, Poulin said.

Medline said Canadian Tire is continuing to gain momentum, after emerging as one of the clear winners in the retail war that launched in 2011 with the announcement that Target would be coming to Canada.

“We sat here a year ago. I was quite confident in our ability to perform, but our confidence level now is much higher,” said Medline.

“Although we’re always going to be a weather-driven retailer, as many are, you can see that we’re taking some of that weather out of the business.”

Larry Rosen, chairman and CEO of Harry Rosen Inc., said there is a battle for good sales associates going on in the luxury market at the moment, now that Nordstrom has opened two stores in Canada and Holt Renfrew is in expansion and Saks is on the way.

“Right now there is a war going on for people,” he said, adding that his company has reviewed remuneration, benefits, pension and made significant changes to be competitive.

“We had to take the view that we were the top of the market and we had to reward better than anyone else.”

Rosen said a deep knowledge of the Canadian marketplace is an important factor when it comes to succeeding here.

When it comes to U.S. retailers, he said: “They don’t get that we look alike, we sound alike, but we’re a very different culture. It takes them a while to learn.”

Still, he said, the main reason Target failed is not that it didn’t understand Canadians, but that it tried to do too much at once, opening 124 stores across the country in one year.

Josh Kobza, chief financial officer of Restaurant Brands International, Inc., which owns Burger King and Tim Horton’s, said the company plans to aggressively expand internationally, especially in the U.S., with strong regional partners who know the local markets well.

Submit News to CKA News Quebec budget is deficit-free for the first time in seven years ? ?but many great challenges still lie ahead?
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 22:26:18 +0000
The spending cuts seen since the Liberals were elected last April, which have led to escalating street protests, were a taste of what is in store
Submit News to CKA News Michael Den Tandt: Stephen Harper shuns the progressive conservatism of his political hero
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 22:26:14 +0000
The combination of free markets, fiscal conservatism and social idealism ? all championed by John Diefenbaker ? remains deeply appealing to many Canadians
Submit News to CKA News Reevely: The province treats hydro like a plaything, with predictable results (with video)
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 22:25:40 Z
The provincial government is giving poorer households a break on their electricity costs, further confusing what the heck our energy system is for. The exact discount depends on how many people live in a place and what their collective income is, but it would max out at $50 a month for a family of seven living […]
Submit News to CKA News Moody?s upgrades B.C.?s credit outlook
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 22:23:09 Z
The bond-rating agency Moody’s Investor Service confirmed its Aaa credit rating on British Columbia’s bonds and raised its outlook to stable from negative in acknowledgment of the provincial government’s efforts to balance the budget. However, the agency remains “highly attentive to (B.C.’s) high debt burden,” said Moody’s vice-president Michael Yake.
Submit News to CKA News Ottawa courthouse braces for Mike Duffy trial
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 22:07:44 Z
The Ottawa courthouse is preparing for hundreds of people to show up next month looking for a seat for the criminal trial of Sen. Mike Duffy.
Submit News to CKA News Vancouver park board launches transgender awareness campaign
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 22:06:20 Z
The Vancouver park board has launched a transgender public awareness campaign designed to make its facilities more friendly to all people. Park board chairman John Coupar revealed the plans Thursday.
Submit News to CKA News Lilydale chicken product sold in B.C. is being recalled due to contamination concerns
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 22:04:37 Z
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says a chicken product is being recalled due to concerns about possible Listeria contamination.
Submit News to CKA News Quebec Liberals cut spending, table first balanced budget in six years
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 18:03:09 -0400

QUEBEC CITY — Quebec Liberals cut $729 million in spending to table the province's first balanced budget in six years on Thursday.
Submit News to CKA News Cat-killing sexual sadist back in jail for allegedly accessing social media sites - The Province
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 21:59:26 GMT

The Province

Cat-killing sexual sadist back in jail for allegedly accessing social media sites
The Province
A "sexual sadist" known for killing family pets and fantasizing about kiling the homeless is back behind bars. Kayla Bourque, 25, has been arrested in Vancouver for allegedly breaching the conditions of her probation. Bourque was charged with three counts of ...
Pet killer Kayla Bourque arrested for breaching probationVancouver Sun
Woman who slaughtered pets arrested for probation breachCTV News

all 7 news articles »
Submit News to CKA News Bombs away! Vandals use small explosive to blow up toilet at construction site - Edmonton Sun
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 21:56:52 GMT

Edmonton Sun

Bombs away! Vandals use small explosive to blow up toilet at construction site
Edmonton Sun
Port (REUTERS/Sergio Moraes) ? Change text size for the story; Print this story. Report an error. FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. ? Mounties in Wood Buffalo, Atla., are sniffing around for the perpetrators of a crappy crime. Construction workers found a portable ...
Explosive device "obliterated" portable toilet at ParsonsFort McMurray Today

all 5 news articles »
Submit News to CKA News Alberta budget includes largest spate of tax hikes in a generation: ?It?s going to feel like we?re in a recession?
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 21:45:25 +0000
Higher income tax, a health levy, and increased taxes on alcohol, tobacco and gasoline have all been written into Alberta?s fiscal plan this year
Submit News to CKA News Alberta Conservatives risking their four-decade dynasty
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 17:35:42 -0400
Tories will have to be much more responsive to the people after raising taxes
Submit News to CKA News John Ivison: Executive tipped as Trudeau?s pick for Finance would target wealthy to boost middle class
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 21:33:52 +0000
The policies described by Bill Morneau suggest if voters do back Trudeau, they will swap a moderately right of centre government for a moderately left of centre alternative
Submit News to CKA News Quebec budget gives relief to taxpayers, but not for a while - The Globe and Mail
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 21:32:31 GMT

The Globe and Mail

Quebec budget gives relief to taxpayers, but not for a while
The Globe and Mail
A balanced Quebec budget has opened the door to reducing the burden on heavily taxed Quebeckers, but they will have to wait a long time to put any extra money in their pockets. Finance Minister Carlos Leitao announced Thursday that Quebec will break ...
Analysis: Quebec budget unkind to health care and education spendingMontreal Gazette
The Quebec budget starts the structural reform the province needsMacleans.ca
Quebec Budget 2015: government balances books with no tax hikeCBC.ca
Winnipeg Free Press -Reuters
all 63 news articles »
Submit News to CKA News Alberta budget reveals record $5-billion deficit over next year
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 17:26:44 -0400
After decades of using energy royalties to pay its bills, Alberta is finally getting off the boom-and-bust cyle of the oil industry
Submit News to CKA News Liberals propose oversight, time limits on new spy powers - Toronto Star
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 21:21:47 GMT

Toronto Sun

Liberals propose oversight, time limits on new spy powers
Toronto Star
OTTAWA?The Liberals on Thursday released 10 ?fundamental? amendments to the Conservatives' new terror laws, including the creation of a parliamentary committee to oversee national security agencies. The amendments came just hours after one ...
Proposed Liberal amendments to the government's anti-terrorism bill580 CFRA Radio
Liberals want amendments to anti-terror billBrantford Expositor

all 12 news articles »

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 Sandro Lisi drug trial: Court hears about alleged drug deal on audio recording
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 20:31:59 EDT

On behalf of Rob Ford (open Rob Ford's policard)’s friend and former driver Alexander “Sandro” Lisi, the owner of an Etobicoke dry cleaners allegedly sold an undercover officer 226 grams of marijuana, according to audio recordings played in court Thursday.

In recordings secretly taken by the undercover officer Ross Fernandes on Oct. 1, 2013, Jamshid Bahrami calls Lisi to confirm that the lower price of $900 or “nine shirts” will be acceptable.

Bahrami made Fernandes put the money into a sealed envelope because Lisi doesn’t trust him, the court heard.

The officer made efforts to meet Lisi for six weeks through Bahrami. The dry cleaner testified that he never meets or speaks to Lisi himself.

“No, no he says he doesn’t want to meet anybody,” Bahrami tells Fernandes. “Right now because of this heat on him he says he doesn’t wanna get… get anybody else involved in this sh--t.”

The “heat” stemmed from reports of a video of Rob Ford appearing to smoke crack cocaine that emerged in May.

Both Lisi and Bahrami have pleaded not guilty to marijuana trafficking and possession of the proceeds of crime.

During cross examination of Fernandes, Bahrami’s lawyer suggested it was Lisi who was the target of the drug investigation, not his client.

“The whole purpose…was to get Lisi involved in a drug deal,” Jacob Stilman told the court.

Fernandes replied: “The whole point was to follow the information we received which was Bahrami was a suspected marijuana drug dealer at the dry cleaners. He led us to (another supplier) and Mr. Lisi.”

Fernandes repeatedly testified that he only learned that Lisi was also a target of the investigation days after it had begun. He said he did not know about any link the investigation had with the former mayor.

Stilman suggested that Bahrami was not selling drugs, he was buying small amounts of marijuana for personal use. Fernandes agreed that he did not witness anyone else attempt to buy drugs from Bahrami in the time he spent at the dry cleaners.

Stilman also asked whether Fernandes knew the police were aware Bahrami had a medical marijuana licence months before commencing the operation.

Fernandes said he was not aware of this.

Stilman suggested it was unusual that the police would spend six weeks on an investigation that yielded only 1.5 pounds (680 grams) of marijuana at a cost of $3,100.

He questioned Fernandes about the unusual size and scope of the police investigation, which included an aerial surveillance plane and pole cameras.

Two top homicide investigators and officers from the Professional Standards unit were also involved in overseeing the operation, Stilman said.

“It’s not an ordinary opportunity drug buy operation when you have that kind of brass in the briefing room,” said Stilman.

Fernandes agreed that this was not usual on straightforward drug buys.

Should Bahrami be convicted, Stilman is expected to argue that the officer entrapped his client, constituting an abuse of process.

Lisi’s lawyer Domenic Basile is expected to argue none of the conversations between the officer and Bahrami are admissible as evidence against Lisi.

The trial continues.

Submit News to CKA News U of T strike over as teaching assistants vote to enter arbitration
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 20:20:49 EDT

The strike at the University of Toronto is over after teaching assistants agreed Thursday to the university’s call to hand the labour stalemate to an arbitrator to resolve.

With just five days left of class, striking teaching assistants, graduate assistants, markers and course instructors voted to return to work first thing Friday, in time for final assignments, classes and exams.

“I’m going to email my students Friday morning and tell them that as many catch-up sessions and review sessions as they need, they can have,” said teaching assistant Craig Smith, spokesperson for the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 3902, which walked off the job March 2. “The students know we care about them.”

Union members voted 942 to 318 in favour of binding arbitration.

“Achieving a new agreement through a bargaining process would have been preferable but we are proud of the light the strike has shed on the problems inherent in higher education,” said CUPE 3902 Chair Erin Black.

University President Meric Gertler, who asked the union Wednesday for binding arbitration, thanked students for their patience in enduring “uncertainty and anxiety at a crucial time in the year — and especially those who are in the final year of their programs. We are enormously relieved that the strike is over and we share a commitment to resolving all remaining complications caused by the strike as soon as possible.”

The sticking point in the first strike by U of T teaching assistants in 15 years has been the complex funding package that graduate students receive — a mix of research grants, tuition rebates, scholarships and, for CUPE members, wages for marking papers, doing research, teaching and running tutorials.

The U of T’s latest offer, narrowly rejected by members last weekend, provides the money to raise the minimum funding package for members to $17,500 a year from $15,000 a year, where it has been since 2008.

But critics opposed the deal because it failed to enshrine the minimum funding package in the union contract, rather than have it set by academics as is typical at Canadian universities. While universities do negotiate hourly rates of pay and workloads for graduate students who work for them, not all grad students are in the union, and not all union members are grad students, which is why university officials say the overall funding package doesn’t belong in the collective agreement.

“The overall funding package gets set in a university-wide conversation every few years and involves graduate students, faculty supervisors and the department chairs and deans who often pay for graduate support,” said Gertler, “so it’s appropriate that it takes place between these stakeholders” rather than the bargaining table.

Meanwhile at York University, bargaining was to resume Friday with the union representing its striking teaching assistants, who walked off the job March 3.

The U of T strike has affected undergraduates differently, because while the university chose not to cancel classes taught by non-CUPE members, some 5 to 6 per cent of courses taught by CUPE course instructors did stop, leaving hundreds of students with no instructor.

“Most of the language classes aren’t happening, like French, German, Spanish, because most are taught by course instructors who are CUPE members,” said Sandy Hudson, executive director of the University of Toronto Student Union. “One French major complained at a town hall that their instructor suggested they try to teach themselves by watching YouTube videos online.”

Second-year student Christina Rae Gorman said she hasn’t had an Italian class since the end of February “so we never got to learn the future tense. I want to take Italian next year, but I’ve never learned the future. At the end of the day I’ve missed a whole month of classes that I’ve paid for.”

In her Canada and Globalization class, Professor Emily Gilbert told students that if teaching assistants did not return by the beginning of May when marks are due, she would have given them a pass/fail on one assignment that TAs had not marked, which is worth about 25 per cent of the mark.

“We can’t actually mark work that our TAs would normally mark because that would be taking over work they have a contract to do,” said Gilbert.

Student Sean Stewart said in his German class, “we last met on Feb. 27. This was the last class before our midterm, which obviously hasn't happened. We have missed four weeks of instruction, amounting to about 16 hours as of tomorrow.

“The department has been giving us homework to do out of our textbook, but it's designed for a classroom and not for book learning, so it hasn't been going very well,” said Stewart. “And of course we have no opportunity to practise speaking German.

“The strike has severely affected my mastery of the language, more so because this is a first-year course for absolute beginners. At this stage in language acquisition you really need a teacher.”

While most tutorials and labs were cancelled, some union members opted to keep teaching, leaving some students with the benefit of their teaching assistants and others without.

Union bargaining committee chair Ryan Culpepper said earlier Thursday a deal hammered out at the bargaining table is “always preferable to one imposed by a third party,” but some union members said they felt there was little to gain on the picket line with students leaving soon for the summer.

Submit News to CKA News Ukrainian leader strikes blow against oligarchy
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 20:09:28 EDT

Guns, goons, and an ousted governor.

Ukraine’s past week was nothing if not dramatic.

As the removal of mega-rich Dnipropetrovsk governor Ihor Kolomoisky was followed by the realer-than-reality-TV arrest of two senior officials live on air, the questions were as thick as the thieves many Ukrainians say have been in charge of their economic destinies for far too long.

“It’s not every day that an oligarch gets forced from office and loses control of a company he never deserved to control in the first place,” says William Pomeranz, deputy director of the Washington-based Kennan Institute.

“But we’ll have to wait and see where it goes from here.”

Kolomoisky left office after a detail of armed and masked heavies briefly occupied the state-owned oil company UkrTransNafta, following the removal of its director, reportedly a crony of the billionaire governor.

The Emergency Situations Service officials were handcuffed and detained during a televised government session, on suspicion of corrupt dealings with offshore companies.

“This will happen to everyone who breaks the law and sneers at the Ukrainian state,” warned Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who tweeted images of the officials’ arrest.

But Ukrainians who have lived through decades of corruption may be less confident. Last year the country was ranked 142nd out of 175 countries on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, a rating on a par with Uganda.

Citizens are asking whether the moves are the beginning of a top-down campaign to eradicate Ukraine’s endemic corruption, or merely a visible show to impress voters and sharp-eyed international lenders to whom Kyiv owes billions of dollars.

But President Petro Poroshenko moved swiftly Thursday to answer questions about the repercussions of taking down a powerful governor who bankrolled volunteer units that bolstered the weakened army of Ukraine against pro-Russian separatists.

“There is no destabilization and there won’t be,” Poroshenko said in eastern Ukraine, according to Bloomberg. “Regarding Kolomoisky, I have no doubt about his patriotism.”

Part of the peaceful resolution, says Economistthe Economist, may be that “by defending Ukraine, Mr. Kolomoisky was also protecting his business empire. His bank, PrivatBank, offered rewards of $10,000 for captured separatists and equipped some of its armoured cars for military use.”

Last March Kolomoisky was awarded the governorship of Ukraine’s key industrial region, underscoring the close relationship of the oligarchs and government.

However, many who joined the Euromaidan Revolution that ousted then-president Viktor Yanukovych, felt betrayed by the lack of change in the corrupt system.

“It’s no exaggeration to suggest that the country’s prospects for long-term success and cohesion will be determined by its ability to pursue far-reaching reforms to modernize the state and check the power of the oligarchs,” wrote Balazs Jarabik of the Carnegie Endowment.

Some corruption indicators have improved in the past year and reforms have been launched, including a law that changed the rules to break the hold of too-muscular minority corporate shareholders like Kolomoisky, who had taken virtual control of the state oil company UkrNafta.

However, the pre-Euromaidan oligarchy is still a dominant force, said Oleksandr Bondar, former head of Ukraine’s State Property Fund.

“(Rinat) Akhmetov controls the energy sector, the metals industry and telecoms as well,” Bondar told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. “(Dmytro) Firtash controls the chemical industry. They continue to wield power and will continue to blackmail the government. Kolomoisky is not the only one doing this.”

Ironically, it’s Poroshenko, an oligarch known as the Chocolate King for his lucrative confectionary business, who has become a chocolate soldier against corruption.

How much farther he will go against his peers — whose influence stretches from finance to politics and the military — may depend on whether he fears their wrath less than that of the multitudes who turned out to push Yanukovych from power.

At a time of ongoing war, a refugee crisis, a 22 per cent decline in industrial output and falling wages, Poroshenko’s government will need all the solidarity it can get from a public whose nerves, wallets and patience are all but exhausted.

Submit News to CKA News MPs received $442,524 worth of free travel from third parties in 2014
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 20:06:04 EDT

OTTAWA—Sixty MPs declared 86 free trips — courtesy of advocacy organizations, business groups and foreign embassies — worth a total of $442,524 last year, according to a summary of sponsored travel reports released Thursday by Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson.

The most popular destinations for travel junkets in 2014 were Taiwan, which received 17 visits, and Israel, which was frequented 12 times.

MPs are required to disclose travel worth more than $500 — and paid for by someone other than the federal government, political parties, interparliamentary associations or the MPs themselves — to the commissioner within 60 days.

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair travelled to Las Vegas with his executive assistant George Smith to speak at the convention for the United Steelworkers International, from Aug. 11 to 12, 2014. The union covered $2,915 in travel costs.

Liberal MP Irwin Cotler travelled to Israel to address a counterterrorism conference in Herzliya from Sept. 4 to 12, 2014. The university IDC Herzliya covered $5,219 in travel costs.

NDP MP Paul Dewar attended the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons from Dec. 6 to 9, 2014. The Friedrich-Ebert Foundation covered $2,105 in travel costs.

Liberal MP Stéphane Dion travelled to Spain, visiting Barcelona, Madrid and Tarragona, to participate on multiple panels at a conference from Mar. 8 to 13, 2014. La Fundacion Canada and Federalistes d’Esquerres covered $2,947 in travel costs.

Conservative MP James Rajotte travelled to Ghana “to experience realities, opportunities and challenges” in the country from July 14 to 24, 2014. Engineers Without Borders Canada covered $3,629 in travel costs.

Conservative MP Barry Devolin travelled to Seoul, South Korea from March 9 to 22, 2014, first as part of the official delegation with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and then stayed on for work in his role as co-chair of the Canada-Korea Interparliamentary Friendship Group. Devolin declared $1,077 worth of hotel accommodations from Korean businesswoman Hoon Park and $658 worth of ground transportation from Korean businessman Byong Gil Suh. He paid his own way home.

Conservative MP Russ Hiebert travelled to Taipei, Taiwan with his wife, Andrea Heibert, for “economic and cultural education,” from April 12 to 26, 2014. The Chinese International Economic Co-operative Association covered $10,867, including $125 worth of gifts.

Conservative MP Terence Young travelled to Paris with his wife, Slawka (Gloria) Young, for a conference supporting democracy in Iran from June 26 to 28, 2014. The Iran Democratic Association and Ben Matin, president of Powerline Plus covered $2,994 in travel costs, including a $30 gift.

Data analysis by Andrew Bailey

Submit News to CKA News TTC signals it has learned from troubled Spadina subway
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 19:27:20 EDT

There were no good options, lamented TTC chair Josh Colle (open Josh Colle's policard).

In the end, the TTC had to find a way to complete the over-budget, late Spadina subway extension as soon as possible, he said. So the transit agency’s board approved on Thursday the hiring of an outside engineering firm to oversee the remaining 30 per cent of the project by the end of 2017.

The move will add $150 million to the subway’s $2.6 billion budget. But that is less than the $185 million that TTC CEO Andy Byford said it would cost if the TTC continued to manage the project on its own. That option, one of four that were put before the board, would also have the latest completion date – mid-2019.

Although some TTC commissioners wanted a competitive bidding process for the project management contract, the TTC will sole-source the deal and Byford confirmed he already has his eye on a company.

He will report back late this year on how the TTC proposes to better handle its next big build, the Scarborough subway.

By then though, a third-party review of all TTC capital projects – a move proposed by Colle – will also be complete.

Both he and Byford have publicly admitted that it might be time for the TTC to surrender big construction projects, given the enormous task of operating and modernizing the transit system.

One sign that the TTC has already learned from the mistakes on Spadina was the board’s approval of a recommendation to restructure another of the TTC’s mega-projects, the $562-million re-signaling of the Yonge-University-Spadina subway.

“We are indeed looking more closely at projects,” admitted Byford.

A review of the project by TTC deputy chief operating officer Mike Palmer, brought from England last year, confirmed that “the re-signaling scheme was overly complicated.

“There were too many contractors involved. We absolutely had to simplify that project in order to protect time and budget,” said Byford.

So the TTC has transferred a major piece of the automatic train control contract from Ansaldo-STS to Alstom Power Transport. The move won’t change the overall cost of the project but will reduce the number of contractors. Too many contractors have been cited as a key problem on Spadina.

The change will also mean 25 to 30 fewer weekend subway closures between now and the new signal system’s launch by 2020.

Meantime, York Region councillors approved an additional $60 million for Spadina – its share of the $150 million requirement.

“It is disappointing to us that this project has slipped off schedule and that it requires more budget funds,” said York CAO Bruce Macgregor, who was co-chair of the executive task force overseeing the Spadina project.

Files from Noor Javed

Submit News to CKA News Canadian retailers move past the Target era
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 18:27:54 EDT

Canadian retailers aren’t celebrating Target’s retreat, but after four years of cut-throat competition, they are enjoying a little bit of breathing room.

“The exit of one of the big players (Target) – it’s good news for the industry that square footage is easing a bit,” said Eric La Flêche, president and chief executive officer of Metro Inc., speaking at the annual CIBC retail conference, held Thursday.

“We feel better about the market than we did a year ago.”

Target, which included pharmacy and grocery departments in its stores, is shuttering operations in Canada, following a disastrous attempt to expand outside the U.S. The closure of all 133 will put 17,600 people out of work by about mid-May.

The day-long CIBC retail conference included presentations by the leaders of some of Canada’s largest retailers, including Michael Medline, president and chief executive officer, Canadian Tire Corp. Ltd. and Marc Poulin, president and CEO, Empire Company Ltd., which includes the Sobeys and Safeway grocery banners.

“I think there is an element of pride,” said CIBC retail equity analyst Marc Petrie, of Canadian retailers that survived and even prospered during two years of intense competition.

“It’s a little early to be celebratory. The space is still out there. Some of it might go dark, but if a better retailer takes that space, it’s a net negative to the market,” Petrie added.

Still, the outlook for 2015 is more positive for retailers than it has been for a couple of years, said CIBC analyst Perry Caicco. Gas prices are down, putting more money into the pockets of consumers; a potentially strong competitor has left the market and the economy is faring well.

“Christmas went well and 2015 should be a pretty good time period for most of these companies,” said Caicco.

The grocery market remains competitive – Metro will spend $300 million on improving its network of stores in 2015, La Flêche said.

On Thursday, Metro opened the doors to a sleek new store at Humber Bay Park featuring 100 different varieties of cheese, 60 salad bar selections, a Starbucks with seating and a grill program offering customers the opportunity to choose from a wide selection of proteins to be grilled in-store.

Empire will launch Air Miles programs at Sobey’s and Foodland stores on Friday, becoming the largest Air Miles sponsor from coast-to-coast, Poulin said.

Medline said Canadian Tire is continuing to gain momentum, after emerging as one of the clear winners in the retail war that launched in 2011 with the announcement that Target would be coming to Canada.

“We sat here a year ago. I was quite confident in our ability to perform, but our confidence level now is much higher,” said Medline.

“Although we’re always going to be a weather-driven retailer, as many are, you can see that we’re taking some of that weather out of the business.”

Larry Rosen, chairman and CEO of Harry Rosen Inc., said there is a battle for good sales associates going on in the luxury market at the moment, now that Nordstrom has opened two stores in Canada and Holt Renfrew is in expansion and Saks is on the way.

“Right now there is a war going on for people,” he said, adding that his company has reviewed remuneration, benefits, pension and made significant changes to be competitive.

“We had to take the view that we were the top of the market and we had to reward better than anyone else.”

Rosen said a deep knowledge of the Canadian marketplace is an important factor when it comes to succeeding here.

When it comes to U.S. retailers, he said: “They don’t get that we look alike, we sound alike, but we’re a very different culture. It takes them a while to learn.”

Still, he said, the main reason Target failed is not that it didn’t understand Canadians, but that it tried to do too much at once, opening 124 stores across the country in one year.

Josh Kobza, chief financial officer of Restaurant Brands International, Inc., which owns Burger King and Tim Horton’s, said the company plans to aggressively expand internationally, especially in the U.S., with strong regional partners who know the local markets well.

Submit News to CKA News PM's Syrian decision rolled out with arrogance and laziness: Tim Harper
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 17:50:20 EDT

OTTAWA—Stephen Harper has the Parliamentary numbers to send Canadian fighter jets into Syria. Most evidence indicates he has public backing for the move.

He had months to prepare his case.

Sending Canadians into harm’s way is the most solemn decision a government can make, but Harper is doing this in the most arrogant, sloppiest and laziest way imaginable.

This is not to argue against the Islamic State threat, its barbarism, or this country’s international responsibility.

But Canadians — even those who slavishly back this mission — deserve more than a simplistic, ‘there are bad guys out there and we’re going to get them’ rationale, the product of either a tired, complacent government or one that values domestic politics over the inconveniences of international convention.

Here are four things a government respecting foreign policy should not be doing.

Treat international law as an afterthought:

When Harper initially laid out his motion, there was no mention of the legal justification for such a move. When questioned, essentially we were told the Americans are doing it, so it’s all right, or ISIS has “declared war” on Canada so we have a right to self-defence.

It was 24 hours before Defence Minister Jason Kenney rode in to provide a legal justification, citing Article 51 of the United Nations charter providing collective self-defence, specifically a request from Iraq to protect it from attacks launched from eastern Syria.

Kenney, properly warmed up, then proceeded to toss every rationale from his satchel against the wall to see what would stick, including our own self-defence, the fact ISIS was a criminal organization that did not respect borders, our commitments under the Convention on the Prevention of Genocide and the “spirit” of the UN Right to Protect. He stopped just short of invoking bylaws accusing ISIS of smoking in non-designated areas.

A government doing its homework would have laid out a legal justification in its motion.

When challenged, joke:

After establishing its legal justification, Harper was challenged by Opposition leader Tom Mulcair about what he had done about it — specifically, had he followed the American lead and proper process and informed the United Nations?

Harper mocked Mulcair, telling him he shouldn’t be worried about ISIS lawyers taking Canada to court, drawing guffaws from the government side.

After the laughter subsided, the government revealed later in the day it planned to inform the United Nations by letter before bombing missions began.

Keep changing the goal:

The motion being debated in the Commons refers to “degrading” ISIS, its operations and infrastructure wherever located, including Syria. Harper used the same term.

But on at least two occasions Kenney has referred to the coalition “defeating” ISIS. In this case, words matter. The coalition, by most accounts, is degrading the ISIS fighting capability, but talk of an ultimate defeat is something that could take years, perhaps the generational challenge of our time, as government ministers have told us.

In a moment of candour in a television interview, Kenney conceded he had no “crystal ball” and no idea how this will end.

Shut down, heckle, opposing voices:

When Green Party Leader Elizabeth May rose to seek unanimous consent to speak to the Syria motion Tuesday, she was denied by a small gaggle of Conservative backbenchers, none of whom came forward to take responsibility.

Given a chance to speak in debate Thursday, May brought a wealth of legitimate concerns over this mission to the Commons. A majority party, confident of its foreign policy, has no need for the pettiness shown May earlier in the week. Before she spoke Thursday, government MPs heckled opposition critics laying out their parties’ case.

In his book, ,Middle Power, Middle Kingdom, David Mulroney, Canada’s former ambassador to China, describes how domestic politics drives Canadian foreign policy under Harper.

He tells the story of a Harper staffer demanding a last-minute change to a joint Beijing-Ottawa statement during the prime minister’s visit to China because it did not fit where the Conservatives were “politically.’’

While Mulroney agrees foreign policy must be judged by its impact on Canadian voters, he writes that under this government there is a belief that Canadian politics can be universally applied.

“In other words,’’ he writes, “the view seems to be that you can massage a document with the Chinese as readily as you can do a last-minute edit to a press release for an announcement in Kitchener, Ontario.’’

There is the whiff of the politically expedient Kitchener press release to the major foreign policy initiative introduced this week.

Tim Harper is national affairs writer. His column appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday. tharper@thestar.ca Twitter:@nutgraf1

Submit News to CKA News John Tory and the power of decency: Hume
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 16:58:10 EDT

John Tory (open John Tory's policard)’s great gift to Toronto, his unswerving sense of decency, might well be enough to save the city from city council.

It won’t happen overnight, but watching the mayor deal with some of the worst behaved members of his city council this week, one couldn’t help but take heart.

Decency, a virtue not taken seriously in the 21st century, is no longer fashionable. Our feelings about it tend to be ambivalent. It’s as likely to be mocked as admired. The more people profess decency; the less we are inclined to believe them.

But the power of Tory’s decency is enough to shine a bright light on the sort of boorishness now associated with city council and reveal it for what it is. The mayor’s outrage is our outrage.

“All deputants,” he told Councillor Jim Karygiannis (open Jim Karygiannis's policard) at a Wednesday executive committee meeting, “no matter what their point of view will be treated with respect and I just won’t be putting up with anything that castigates people, regardless of what their opinion is, who’ve come before us and spent their time to come here and represent their views.”

Despite the long-windedness and grandmotherly tone, Tory’s words echoed throughout Toronto.

“This is the new city hall,” he reminded the councillor, “not the old one.”

With these few words, Tory struck a mighty blow for, well, decency. He also reminded councillors about citizenship, a concept often forgotten in the din of political warfare.

Responding to the mayor’s relentless positivity and his insistence that councillors show respect to one other as well as ordinary citizens, even the most brutish decided to make nice.

Giorgio Mammoliti (open Giorgio Mammoliti's policard), who once suggested turning Toronto Island into a red light district, sent Tory a Subway sandwich, a humorous reference to another of his (Mammoliti’s) hare-brained schemes, a Finch Ave. metro.

A Hero Burger would have been more in order, not that our eminently reasonable mayor would touch either.

Longtime Willowdale councillor, David Shiner (open David Shiner's policard), was clearly irritated by this interloper chief magistrate who demands politeness. How dare he? Relearning how to behave is hard after so much time.

The sudden change in civic culture from loud confrontation to quiet consultation has exposed the Shiners, Mammolitis and Karygiannises for the graceless self-servers they are.

Tory, who would rather die than offend, operates in stark contrast to those who know no other way to conduct themselves or practise politics. To them, it is all war, all the time. The end justifies the means.

For old-hand Mammoliti and first-timer Karygiannis, comfortable in their arrogance, full of disdain and accustomed to being right, having to grow up so late in life won’t be easy.

Such behaviour has never been acceptable, but it has been the norm for so long Torontonians have come to expect it. That’s what Tory will eliminate from the civic culture. His ideas won’t all be worthy; mistakes will be made, but simply by being himself the mayor will raise the tone of local politics.

After a particularly nasty meeting of the licensing committee, Tory spoke about its member’s appalling manners.

“It was disrespectful to the public,” he declared, “and I don’t care what anybody’s view or their political stripe, or anything else about them, when they come here to city hall as citizens of this city and want to make a deputation provided they act in a civilized manner, they should be treated no differently.”

After the years of all-night deputations that were a cross between a circus and a show trial, Tory will have to be patient. Restoring dignity to a council and city that lost it long ago won’t be easy. But all Tory has to do is be himself.

Christopher Hume can be reached at chume@thestar.ca

Submit News to CKA News Memorial stone for slain homeless woman found near waste bins
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 16:58:00 EDT

Little is known about Casey Smith’s life, but one thing is clear: she was loved.

“In memory of Casey Smith. Home isn’t just where we live, it’s where we love,” reads an inscription professionally carved into a heavy, rectangular stone, not unlike those found in cemeteries.

It was discovered earlier this week in the melting snow near the recycling bins behind Laura Dobson’s apartment building at Queen St. W. and Roncesvalles Ave., raising a number of questions: How did it get there? Who commissioned it? And what to do with it now?

Dobson said she was horrified when she did an Internet search and learned that Smith, a homeless Toronto woman and mother of five, who went by the street name Cockeye, was murdered in 2000 in a drug deal gone wrong.

“I thought ‘Oh my God, in life it sounds like she was forgotten, and in death she’s still displaced,’” Dobson said. “It’s just not right that her stone is here. It shouldn’t be here.”

She said she called 311 and was told that the stone was not city property, but that someone might come by to see it.

“If it appeared that the stone had been placed there (and moved from its original location), then it should be reported to Toronto Police Service,” Tammy Robbinson, a spokeswoman with the city’s municipal licensing and standards department, told the Star in an email.

But what is the stone’s original location?

A picture from March 2008 posted on the photo-sharing website Flickr by a passerby identifies the stone’s home at that time as being somewhere on Queen St. W. between Niagara St. and Palmerston Ave.

It’s unclear if that was supposed to be the stone’s intended location. Smith was murdered behind an apartment building in Moss Park (near Shuter and Parliament Sts.) and, according to a friend, she rented a room for a number of years in the Beaches. It’s unknown if she was buried or cremated.

Brandi, who declined to give her last name, said she knew “Cockeye” for more than 10 years before she was killed. She said she was pleasantly surprised to learn someone had commissioned the stone.

“Wow, somebody really loved her,” she said. “That makes me happy that she had somebody else who loved her, because I really loved her, too.”

Brandi said she likely met Smith at a drop-in centre for the homeless.

“She was a nice woman. Really soft-spoken, really kind,” said Brandi. “She had a big heart … We didn’t only do drugs together. We went shopping together. We did normal things. If there was a show on at the theatre, we would go there.”

Brandi said she felt “lost” when she heard of Smith’s death. She remembers the day, May 28, 2000, all too well.

According to news reports and the subsequent trial of her murderer, Smith, 40, who had worked in the sex trade and had suffered from a brain tumour, was shot with a sawed-off shotgun at point blank range by Wayne Fairclough.

A crack cocaine dealer, Fairclough demanded three times that she drop $20 on the ground during a drug deal early that morning behind an apartment complex in Moss Park. She refused each time, and then he shot her.

Fairclough was convicted of second-degree murder by a jury and sentenced to life in prison in 2003 with no chance of parole for 22 years.

“Mr. Fairclough put a value on Casey Smith's life. He determined it was $20 ... He, in effect, executed her for $20,” Crown attorney Paul McDermott said at Fairclough’s sentencing hearing.

Dobson, who found the stone, said she would like for someone to come forward and claim it, or for it to be displayed in a public place like a park.

“It’s important for everyone to be remembered,” she said. “No one’s identity should be by my recycling bin.”

Brandi said she’s hoping the stone could be placed under a tree near where Smith died.

“And then we could do kind of a memorial for her. So that she knows that we love her.”

With files from Star staff

Jacques Gallant can be reached at 416-869-4194 or jgallant@thestar.ca .

Submit News to CKA News CBC eliminates 144 more jobs in new round of cuts
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 16:12:03 EDT

CBC says at least 144 more people will be out of work following yet another round of layoffs, with the West experiencing the brunt of the cuts.

Jennifer McGuire, editor-in-chief of CBC News, informed her staff in a letter Thursday that 144 positions would be eliminated across the country, possibly yielding even greater job losses as remaining positions are recategorized.

“We announced last summer these reductions were coming but it doesn’t make the details any easier to hear,” she wrote in the letter to staff.

McGuire categorized the layoffs as part of the public broadcaster’s commitment to be “more local at lower cost,” by slashing the operating budget of local services by $15 million.

Positions in the West were cut the deepest, with 37 cut from Alberta and 25 from British Columbia. Ontario lost 30 positions.

Most of the reductions will occur in TV programming, as local television broadcasts have been cut from 90 minutes to either 30 or 60 minutes.

McGuire also said in the letter that the company will be hiring 80 new digital positions over the next year as it grows its mobile offerings.

The spectre of unemployment has stalked the halls of the public broadcaster since 2012, when the federal government announced $115 million in cuts to its funding. Combined with declining ad revenues and the loss of Hockey Night in Canada, the financial state of the country’s biggest news broadcaster has been on the rocks for years.

Last year, after announcing it was cutting hundreds of positions, CBC CEO Hubert Lacroix noted that since assuming his position in January 2008, he has overseen three rounds of layoffs, totalling more than 2,100 positions.

In February, CBC announced it would look into selling its Toronto headquarters as a cost-cutting measure.

McGuire said that after layoffs, the company will have more than 1,100 staff across the country.

Submit News to CKA News At least 12 hurt after explosion, building collapse in Manhattan
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 15:58:29 EDT

NEW YORK— An apartment building collapsed in a fiery burst of rubble on Thursday and flames spread to nearby buildings in what officials said appeared to be a gas-related explosion, injuring at least a dozen people and scattering debris across surrounding streets in the heart of Manhattan's trendy East Village.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said the blast appeared to have been caused by plumbing and gas work inside one building. Inspectors from utility Con Edison had been there to check on a planned gas meter installation about an hour before the fire, but they decided the building wasn't ready for gas to be introduced, company President Craig Ivey said.

Orange flames billowed and smoke could be seen and smelled for miles after the blaze, in an area of old tenement buildings that are home to students and longtime residents in an area near New York University and Washington Square Park.

About 250 firefighters converged to fight the flames, and the fire department's commissioner said a second building was “in danger of possible collapse” and four buildings were affected in all.

Firefighters said at least 12 people were hurt, three critically, some with burns to their airways. De Blasio said it didn't appear that anyone was missing.

“We are praying that no other individuals are injured and that there are no fatalities,” he said.

The fire happened a little over a year after a gas explosion in a building in East Harlem killed eight people and injured about 50. De Blasio noted that no one had reported a gas leak to authorities before Thursday's blast.

The area was evacuated, and the city's health department advised residents to keep their windows closed because of the smoke.

Adil Choudhury, who lives a block away, ran outside when he heard “a huge boom.”

“Already there was smoke everywhere” when he saw the building, he said. “The flames were coming out from the roof. The fire was coming out of every window.”

Items from a ground-floor sushi restaurant were blown into a street, and the explosion was so forceful that it blew the door off a cafe across the avenue. Rubble, glass and debris littered sidewalks.

Con Ed crews planned to start investigating after firefighters got the blaze under control. The state Department of Public Service was monitoring Con Ed's response, Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

Area resident Paul Schoengold said he was walking about two blocks away when he heard an “incredibly loud” roar.

“Then the fire started. I could see the flames on the roof, and they kept getting higher,” shooting perhaps 50 feet (about 15 metres) into the air, he said.

As freelance photographer Michael Seto ran up to the buildings after hearing the explosion in his apartment a block and a half away, flames were spreading and engulfing one building's first floor.

Meanwhile, a man was climbing up the fire escape, not down, he said.

“People were calling to him that the building's on fire — he needs to get down,” and he did, Seto said.

Other witnesses said a woman scrambled down her fire escape in the moments after the explosion. She stopped on the second floor, afraid to go further, and passersby climbed up to help get her down.

In the aftermath, one person was lying on the ground, being attended to by two to three passersby who were holding his head still, Seto said. A woman was sitting on the curb with blood coming down her face, and another woman walked past him with blood on her face, he said.

Submit News to CKA News York Region votes to help pay for subway shortfall
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 15:35:51 EDT

York Region councillors say they are willing to commit an additional $60 million to the Toronto-York Spadina Subway extension into Vaughan, if it means the project can be up and running sooner than later.

“It is disappointing to us that this project has slipped off schedule and that it requires more budget funds,” said York CAO Bruce Macgregor, who was co-chair of the executive task force overseeing the Spadina project.

He presented councillors with recommendations to move forward, including: supporting TTC CEO Andy Byford in his efforts to minimize delay and control costs, ask the federal and provincial governments for increased funding, and approving an additional funding of $60 million. All were endorsed by council.

York Region is responsible for 40 per cent of the municipal funding for the subway extension and has already committed $351.6 million dollars to the project. The region has also agreed to a “capacity buy-in” of $30 million to the TTC to cover costs of infrastructure upgrades to Downsview station.

When questioned by Markham councillor Jim Jones, Macgregor admitted he was aware of the delay and cost overruns since last July when the TTC hired an outside consultant to review the status of the project.

He was waiting for the revised budget numbers to be confirmed before bringing it to council, he said in an interview Thursday.

“I spent a couple of days last week looking over the entire record of meetings to see if we could have anything different,” said Macgregor.

The funds will likely come from development charges, and the rest will come through a tax levy, said regional treasurer Bill Hughes.

“In the 2016 budget, we will be looking at whether we have enough in the development charge reserves or whether we need to issue development charge related debt,” said Hughes, adding that the region had built in some contingency in the budget for cost over runs.

The chance of a taxpayers bearing the cost is unlikely, said Macgregor.

In addition to the $60 million, the region may also be on the hook for an additional $32 million from a provincial funding shortfall, for a total of $92 million, said Hughes.

The province has committed over $1 billion to the project, and had put $890 million of the funds into the Move Ontario Trust, anticipating that investment earnings accrued would help to reach its funding goal. The revenue shortfall is currently estimated at $80 million to $85 million.

York will ask the province to cover the shortfall, not contribute to the cost overruns, said Macgregor.

Despite the ballooning costs, there was little of the drama seen in Toronto with most councillors saying the region should do whatever needs to be done to see the subway finally making its way into York.

“As you know the subway is an anchor, not only for the city of Vaughan, but for the region,” said Vaughan mayor Maurizio Bevilaqcua. “We need to show that we are fully engaged.”

Vaughan regional councillor Gino Rosati supported the motion, but pushed council to think why cost overruns on infrastructure projects have become the norm.

“Can these things be anticipated? If not, why not? We have seen it over the decades, there are always huge cost overruns,” he said.

“It’s very frustrating to go through this time and time again, and the public look at us and says you are the councillors, what did you do about it, why are there cost overruns, and why aren’t you managing it better?”

“We are accountable.”

Submit News to CKA News Ford family business client broke lobbying rules at city hall
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 15:19:25 EDT

A Ford family business client has been slapped on the wrist for improperly lobbying brothers Rob and Doug.

A report from the lobbyist registrar also says the political brothers were put in an “apparent” conflict of interest.

But a separate report on whether the former mayor and councillor improperly used their influence at city hall to help the client, Apollo Health and Beauty Care, has yet to be released.

Registrar Linda Gehrke said Apollo, whose employees are registered lobbyists, breached the rules when it invited the Fords to an August 2012 tennis match and dinner — but found that rule-breaking was “inadvertent and unintentional.”

Gehrke wrote in her 14-page decision that while Rob Ford (open Rob Ford's policard) did not attend the game, Doug Ford and mother Diane Ford did.

Rules for lobbyists prevent them from offering “gifts, meals, trips or favours of any kind.” They are also tasked with not putting politicians or bureaucrats in any conflict of interest situation.

“When lobbyists provide gifts and benefits to public office holders, this is a form of influence peddling and is improper conduct,” Gehrke’s report reads.

The investigation itself appears to pre-date reporting by Globe and Mail reporters, who in the midst of the 2014 election first found the Ford brothers intervened when Apollo was facing an investigation for a 2012 sewage spill. It was also reported the Fords lobbied senior bureaucrats at city hall to try to get Apollo a tax break.

According to the registrar’s report, the company was notified in March 2013 of the allegations. The investigation was later closed when the allegations could not be substantiated, but re-opened in January 2014 when new information came to light, Gehrke writes.

Both Fords cooperated with the investigation.

Apollo, according to Gehrke, claimed the Fords only attended the game briefly and that it was not connected to lobbying activities.

The registrar disagreed, saying it occurred around the time the company was seeking help at city hall.

“The invitation to dinner and tennis is reasonably seen as part of that lobbying effort, cementing the relationship of the lobbyists and the public officer holders whom they were lobbying,” Gehrke wrote.

City hall watchdogs have argued that the Fords, for their part, also clearly violated the city council’s code of conduct by trying to help a business client at city hall.

National group Democracy Watch filed a complaint with former integrity commissioner Janet Leiper last year to that effect and called it an “improper” use of political influence.

The Fords have denied any wrongdoing, with Rob Ford telling reporters last summer he would help “anyone that calls me.”

“What's wrong with helping people? Nothing wrong. I help out everybody,” Ford said in July.

Current integrity commissioner Valerie Jepson, who took carriage of ongoing investigations when Leiper left office, confirmed to the Star that the probe into the Fords concerning Apollo is ongoing.

“I can confirm that the inquiry is underway and I have not reported on that matter,” she wrote in an email.

The brothers were also accused of wrongly helping U.S.-based printing company RR Donnelley and Sons at city hall while they were courting them to do business with Deco.

Though Doug Ford is no longer a councillor and cannot face punishment, if Jepson finds misconduct on Rob Ford’s part he could face either a reprimand or up to a 90-day loss of pay.

Submit News to CKA News Canadian airlines must have two crew in cockpit at all times
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 13:46:52 EDT

The federal government has issued an emergency order requiring Canadian airlines to have two crew members in the cockpit at all times.

Transport Minister Lisa Raitt issued the directive Thursday in the wake of reports that the pilot of a German flight, alone in the cockpit, deliberately crashed his jet in France.

“In light of the reports this morning . . . I am issuing an order to require two members on the flight deck at all times on Canadian planes,” Raitt told reporters.

The order applies to all commercial flights carrying passengers and is effective immediately, she said.

“This order is seeking to fill a gap that is in the rules,” Raitt said. “Currently, there is not the requirement to have two members.”

She said the new rule would allow a member of the cabin crew to take the place of a pilot, who perhaps has left for a bathroom break.

“All we’re saying is that you have to have two crew members in the flight deck at all times. It doesn’t matter who it’s going to be. It could be a flight attendant, it could be a customer service person, but they have to be members of the cabin crew,” Raitt said.

Canada’s major airlines were already moving to implement the policy change. Air Canada, Westjet and Air Transat confirmed they would now require two crew in the cockpit. Porter said its policy has always been to have at least two crew members on the flight deck at all times during flight.

A spokesperson for Air Canada said the policy change is a direct result of reports that say one of the pilots on the fatal Germanwings Airbus flight was locked out of the cockpit during the plane’s deadly descent.

“We are implementing without delay a policy change to ensure that all flights have two people in the cockpit at all times,” Peter Fitzpatrick said in a statement.

Fitzpatrick said the airline is closely monitoring the investigation of the crash and will make further policy changes as warranted.

The French prosecutor in charge of investigating Andreas Lubitz, the plane’s co-pilot, said Lubitz deliberately crashed the plane and locked his fellow pilot out of the cockpit.

“The theory of suicide, an act of madness or the work of someone disordered” must be looked at, he said.

Fitzpatrick said Air Canada’s hiring process includes a behavioural assessment for new pilots, and that pilots receive a medical exam every year — twice a year after they turn 60.

“The investigation is underway and at this point the cause is unknown, therefore any conclusions are speculative,” he said.

Airlines in Europe are not required to have two people in the cockpit at all times. Europe’s third-largest budget airline, Norwegian Air Shuttle, said on Thursday it plans to adopt new rules requiring two crew members to always be present in the cockpit of a flying aircraft. The BBC is also reporting that easyJet, a budget airline out of the U.K., is also amending its policy.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, the standard U.S. operating procedure is that if one of the pilots leaves — for example to use the toilet — a flight attendant takes their spot in the cockpit.

Raitt expressed condolences to the families and friends of those lost in the Germanwings accident and said that Transport Canada was reviewing policies in the wake of the disaster.

“We are following this situation in Europe very closely. And I’ve asked my officials to take a look at all of our policies and procedures here in Canada that may be applicable to ensure that there is safety for the travelling public,” she said.

With files from Robin Levinson King, Vanessa Lu, The Canadian Press and The Associated Press.

Pilots intentionally crashing planes ‘very rare,’ says expert

Submit News to CKA News Germanwings crash: Pilots intentionally crashing planes ?very rare? says expert
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 13:40:00 EDT

A pilot deliberately crashing an airplane is “an oddity and very rare,” an expert in the field of aviation says, after reports that one of the pilots on the Germanwings Airbus that crashed into the French Alps earlier this week “intentionally” downed the aircraft.

John McKenna, president and CEO of the Air Transport Association of Canada (ATAC), which represents commercial airlines, flight schools, and other aviation stakeholders, said safety is the main concern of all pilots.

“There are thousands of planes up in the air at every moment of the day. The utmost concern for everybody flying a plane is safety,” McKenna said.

Pilots often work with the same colleagues since they are most often assigned to one type of plane and a usual route, he said, and if a pilot exhibits erratic behaviour, that would normally be reported immediately.

“There’s an evaluation that’s constantly done of a co-pilot’s work,” he said. “As a rule, the relationship between the captain and the co-pilot is usually one of strong co-operation.”

French investigators and airline officials said they believed Andreas Lubitz, the 28-year-old co-pilot on the Germanwings flight, deliberately crashed the plane, which was carrying 150 people.

“We must note that the plane was brought down deliberately,” said Carsten Spohr, director general of Lufthansa, the parent company of low-cost carrier Germanwings, in a press conference Thursday.

“The co-pilot, according to the recordings, took advantage of the moment the pilot left the cockpit,” he said.

Lubitz could have double-locked the cockpit door from the inside, which blocks crew members from using an access code to open the door from the plane’s cabin for a five-minute period, Spohr said.

After the 9/11 attacks in New York, all cockpit doors lock automatically from the inside.

“That’s a possibility,” Spohr said. “We need to wait until we get more information.”

The revelation that the plane was taken down intentionally has raised questions about Lubitz’s motives, including it being a possible suicide attempt. He was reportedly silent and breathing calmly as the plane went down.

“The theory of suicide, an act of madness or the work of someone disordered” must be looked at, said Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin Thursday.

McKenna of ATAC said while the motive behind the downing of the Germanwings plane remains unconfirmed, the crash could prompt a change in cockpit regulations.

“It’s going to shake up cockpit crew management because people are going to say, ‘Okay, are we going to ever leave one pilot alone in the cockpit again?’” McKenna said.

“I’m sure that the regulators around the world are saying, ‘Okay, what are we going to do now?’”

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) found that of 2,758 fatal aviation accidents between 2003 and 2012, eight were confirmed as “aircraft-assisted suicides,” the term used to designate the international crashing of a plane.

All the pilots involved in the accidents were male, and the pilot was the only person on the aircraft in seven out of the eight incidents. “Death by the intentional crashing of an aircraft is an infrequent and uncommon event and has declined compared to the previous 20 years,” the FAA said.

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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