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Owner of Swiss Chalet buying St-Hubert for $537 million

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Mar 31st, 2016

St-Hubert logo. Photo via Facebook/StHubert.

The Quebec-based St-Hubert restaurant business has agreed to be acquired by the owner of the Swiss Chalet chain for $537 million.

In addition to 117 restaurants, Cara Operations Ltd. will acquire two food manufacturing plants, two distribution centres and a real estate portfolio.

Cara says St-Hubert will fit strategically with its business, which includes numerous restaurant brands including Swiss Chalet, Harvey’s and Milestones.

Cara currently has 1,010 franchised and corporate restaurants, including 37 located internationally.

The Toronto-area company, based in Vaughan, says it has a limited retail presence in Quebec and will use St-Hubert’s head office in Laval as its Quebec base.

Cara also sees St-Hubert’s food manufacturing business – which makes two-thirds of its sales through external customers such as Sobeys, Loblaw, Costco and Metro – as a major growth opportunity.

“The acquisition of St-Hubert is an excellent strategic fit for both companies,” Cara chair and CEO Bill Gregson said in a joint statement.

“This transaction gives St-Hubert the opportunity to drive its restaurant growth through the addition of Cara brands in Quebec and to drive a national retail food program for Cara, based in Québec, utilizing the existing manufacturing facilities and supplier base.”

Jean-Pierre Leger, St-Hubert chairman and CEO, said the will provides its employees with career opportunities in Quebec “since it will enable us to carry out major expansions of our food manufacturing programs and sales throughout Canada.”

Raptors hold off Hawks for franchise-best 50th win

Eric Koreen, The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Mar 31st, 2016

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Every time the Toronto Raptors have reached a new high during their improbable run over the last three seasons, DeMar DeRozan has been forced into reflection mode. He is the last major link with the Raptors’ previous run of futility, a five-year stretch outside of the playoffs. He was a Raptor for four of those years, and knew the pain of playing meaningless games in March and April all too well.

Another peak came on Wednesday night. Following their 105-97 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday, the Raptors reached 50 wins for the first time in franchise history. While some might see the accomplishment as merely an arbitrary round number, DeRozan could not possibly agree.

“It means everything to me,” DeRozan said. “This is where I’ve been my whole career. I’ve been through the tough times. Now to be, what do you call it, the winningest Raptor of all time and now to break the franchise record three years in a row, it definitely means a lot to me.

“You can never take that away. When (reporters) bring up things that I’ve done here, reality really hits me, honestly, because you really don’t think about all of the things you’ve (done) or things you’ve accomplished.”

DeRozan was stellar against the Hawks, scoring a game-high 26 points to go along with six assists and five rebounds. With the victory, the Raptors surpassed their previous high for wins in a season, set last season at 49.

It was DeRozan’s fellow all-star in the Raptors’ backcourt that was more in the spotlight, however. Despite a persistent elbow injury, Kyle Lowry played in Wednesday’s game. Lowry had his right elbow drained after Monday’s blowout loss against Oklahoma City, and had been enduring a shooting slump over the last few games. He played a game-high 40-minutes against Atlanta.

Lowry played most of the game with a protective sleeve on his elbow, before ditching it in the fourth quarter. He was moved to swearing when describing what it was like to play with the sleeve.

“Yeah, it’s really annoying,” Lowry said.

Lowry shot just 4 for 19 from the field, but improved from the free-throw line, where he made seven of his eight attempts.

“Anything you do to make a shot…hit your head, slap your butt, prayer hands, pray to God, anything,” Lowry said, describing his state of mind. ” At the end of the day, I’ll be all right. This is five games, whatever. I’ve been in a funk before earlier this season so I’m sure I’ll be fine.”

Lowry did manage 11 assists, many of which set up Jonas Valanciunas. The smaller Hawks did not seem to have an answer for Valanciunas, who scored 19 points on just 13 field-goal attempts.

“One thing about Kyle, he’s going to figure out a way, no matter what,” DeRozan said. “He can go 1 for 40, and it wouldn’t seem like it because he does everything else.”

It was the Raptors’ third win in as many games against Atlanta this season. While the Raptors are all but locked into second place in the Eastern Conference, every win seems to matter to the team.

“Pretty good progression,” said Lowry, after recounting the team’s journey during his four years in Toronto. ” I think everyone in this organization that’s been here has built it up to be a winning organization. I think we’ve been on the right track and continuing to grow. We’re not just satisfied with 50 wins. It’s a great benchmark to get, but at the end of the day we still want to be playing as long as possible: as close as possible to the end of the whole NBA season.”

Scary ride on the TTC: Woman sets passenger’s hair on fire

CityNews | posted Thursday, Mar 31st, 2016

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Two separate incidents turned the “better way” into a scary ride for TTC passengers on Wednesday.

In a tweet, police said one rider set another person’s hair on fire during the afternoon rush hour. The alleged incident happened in The Queensway and Southport Street area around 4 p.m.

“Passenger’s hair set on fire by another […] with a lighter,” police tweeted.

According to the Toronto Sun, the woman responsible fled the scene and eluded police.

No serious injuries were reported.

Around the same time, police said a woman riding a TTC bus in the Finch Avenue and Alness Street area was sprayed in the face with perfume.

Police were called to the scene, but in a tweet said the woman did not want to press charges.

Mississauga decides to rename Marco Muzzo Park

CityNews | posted Thursday, Mar 31st, 2016

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Mississauga city council has voted to rename Marco Muzzo Memorial Woods and Park, citing concerns from the community.

The park was named after Marco Muzzo Sr., who was responsible for building most of the community which now surrounds the recreation area. It was dedicated in 2007 by then-mayor Hazel McCallion, two years after the death of Muzzo Sr.

The motion, put forward by Ward 10 councilor Sue McFadden, calls for the park to be renamed “Marco Muzzo Senior Memorial Woods and Park” to avoid any confusion with Muzzo’s grandson, who was sentenced on Tuesday to 10 years in jail for killing four people, including three children, in a drunk driving crash.

The name change will take effect immediately, after council waived the required 30-day waiting period and community notification process.

#Fordfarewell: Live coverage of Rob Ford procession and funeral

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Mar 30th, 2016

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Members of the Toronto Police Chief’s Ceremonial Unit stand on guard by Rob Ford’s casket at City Hall on March 28, 2016. 680 NEWS/Momin Qureshi.

Reporters Momin Qureshi, Kevin Misener, Pam Seatle, and Cynthia Mulligan will attend the procession and funeral for former mayor and city councillor Rob Ford. See their tweets below as the day unfolds.

The Jian Ghomeshi verdict is in. But the story isn’t over

Anne Kingston | posted Wednesday, Mar 30th, 2016

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When Ontario Court Justice Horkins read his judgment in R. v Ghomeshi this morning—acquitting the former CBC radio host of four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcoming resistance-choking—he was speaking to an audience far beyond the jammed courtroom. Clearly his words were intended to reverberate publicly in that other court that runs parallel to (and usually at odds with) the jurisdiction over which he presides: the court of public opinion. And reverberate his words did, eliciting the inevitably Rorschach reactions that have accompanied the Ghomeshi trial from day 1.

The 25-page ruling—largely a recap of defence lawyer Marie Henein’s “greatest hits” during cross-examination (down to quoting her accusing one witness of “playing chicken” with the justice system)—is more stringent than nuanced. Its focus is squarely on the fact that a finding of “guilt beyond a reasonable doubt” was rendered moot by the three witnesses’ lack of “reliability” and “credibility”: “The success of this prosecution depended entirely on the Court being able to accept each complainant as a sincere, honest and accurate witness,” Justice Horkins stated. And, alas, they weren’t: “Each complainant was revealed at trial to be lacking in these important attributes.” He went on to clarify: “The evidence of each complainant suffered not just from inconsistencies and questionable behaviour, but was tainted by outright deception.” There were no dark nights of the soul for him, it appeared: “I have no hesitation in concluding that the quality of the evidence in this case is incapable of displacing the presumption of innocence.” As the verdict was read, a palpable relief was evident among Ghomeshi’s family sitting in the front row; Ghomeshi himself watched without expression.

It wasn’t the witnesses’ behaviour after the alleged attacks that was the problem, the judge ruled; it was the fact they omitted information, were inconsistent in their testimony and lied on the stand.  Yet he also questioned the fact that the complainants “engaged” with Ghomeshi after the assaults, which both Crown and defence defined as normal behaviour after a sexual assault. “Each complainant in this case engaged in conduct regarding Mr. Ghomeshi, after the fact, which seems out of harmony with the assaultive behaviour ascribed to him,” Horkins wrote. “In many instances, their conduct and comments were even inconsistent with the level of animus exhibited by each of them, both at the time and then years later. In a case that is entirely dependent on the reliability of their evidence standing alone, these are factors that cause me considerable difficulty when asked to accept their evidence at full value.”

The first witness, L.R., seemed “rational and balanced,” under examination by the Crown; under cross-examination by the defence, “the value of her evidence suffered irrefutable damage.” She claimed Ghomeshi was driving a yellow VW, the “Disney car,” when in fact he’d bought a similar model seven months later. She’d failed to mention her hair extensions to police and had uttered numerous inconsistencies in media interviews.

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Lucy DeCoutere leaves the Toronto courthouse following the reading of the verdict in the Jian Ghomeshi sexual assault trial on Thursday, March 24, 2016. DeCoutere was one three women who accused Ghomeshi of sexual assault, and the only one to go public with her accusations. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Lucy DeCoutere, the only complainant to waive the publication ban, was subject to the fiercest judicial scolding: she was criticized  for “deceptions maintained under oath,” “suppression of evidence” and “a wilful carelessness with the truth.” The high public profile she cultivated before the trial also came under fire, with reference to her hiring a publicist and conducting 19 media interviews, including one in which she “analogized her role in this whole matter to David Beckham’s role as a spokesperson with Armani.” The judge was not amused by DeCoutere referring to criminal court as “…theatre at its best,” and as a place where someone with her acting background could excel (“…Dude, with my background I literally feel like I was prepped to take this on, no s–t,” DeCoutere boasted to the third complainant). A swipe was also taken at the language employed by DeCoutere and the third witness in their 5,000 online exchanges which gave rise to accusations of possible collusion: “They expressed their top priority in the crude vernacular that they sometimes employed, to “sink the prick,… ‘cause he’s a f–king piece of s–t.’”

The judge went one step further to speculate whether DeCoutere’s testimony had been compromised by her high profile as a victims’ rights advocate which brought her “massive attention”: “the manner in which Ms. DeCoutere embraced and cultivated her role as an advocate for the cause of victims of sexual violence may explain some of her questionable conduct as a witness in these proceedings,” he ruled. “Ms. DeCoutere felt that she had invested so much in being a ‘heroine’ for the cause that this may have been additional motivation to suppress any information that, in her mind, might be interpreted negatively.” He admitted he had no grounds for the assertion: “I do not have sufficient evidence to conclude that this was in fact a reason for suppressing evidence, but in light of the amount of compromising information that she willfully attempted to suppress, it cannot be ignored as a live question.”

The fact the first witness contacted Ghomeshi after the alleged attack (she testified she didn’t remember doing so and that even hearing his voice traumatized her) elicited similar censure, even while acknowledging that it is not unusual for this to happen in sexual assault cases. “The expectation of how a victim of abuse will, or should, be expected to behave must not be assessed on the basis of stereotypical models,” the judge ruled. “Having said that, I have no hesitation in saying that the behaviour of this complainant is, at the very least, odd.”

The judgment also exists as a pointed response to the scene occurring Thursday morning outside of Toronto Old City Hall as protesters stood in freezing rain,chanting and brandishing #IBelieveSurvivors signs. Acknowledging that “the courts must be very cautious in assessing the evidence of complainants in sexual assault and abuse cases,” Justice Horkins warned that “[c]ourts must guard against applying false stereotypes concerning the expected conduct of complainants.” These stereotypes extend to believing that all sexual assault victims tell the truth, he said: “I have a firm understanding that the reasonableness of reactive human behaviour in the dynamics of a relationship can be variable and unpredictable. However, the twists and turns of the complainants’ evidence in this trial illustrate the need to be vigilant in avoiding the equally dangerous false assumption that sexual assault complainants are always truthful. Each individual and each unique factual scenario must be assessed according to their own particular circumstances.”

On its face, the remark is unassailable; if we reflexively believed everyone who came forward with an allegation of sexual assault, there would be no need for sexual assault trials. As in all criminal allegations, false statements of sexual assault occur, though the estimated number is somewhere between two and eight per cent, according to the FBI. Why the judge felt the need to highlight this point amid concerns that the Ghomeshi trial will have a chilling effect on victims not coming forward for fear of not being believed is unclear. Early in the trial, in fact, Justice Horkins proved himself sensitive to that very issue when he denied a media lawyer’s application for the court to make public a photograph sent by the first witness to Ghomeshi in which she’s wearing a bathing suit.

The fact the witnesses discredited themselves resulted in virtually no time spent on discrepancies in accounts of the alleged assaults or consent. Where the judge made three mentions of DeCoutere and Ghomeshi sharing a karaoke duet of “Hit Me Baby One More Time,” “consent” was only mentioned once when defining “sexual assault.” It was also noted that the third witness, S.D., lacked clarity in her description of Ghomeshi allegedly choking her: she “was not particularly precise or consistent in the details of the alleged assault,” he said, quoting her confusion remembering how long the assault took place. “Seconds. A few seconds. Ten seconds. I don’t even—I don’t—it’s hard to know. It’s hard to know.”

One line was drawn by Justice Horkins: “My conclusion that the evidence in this case raises a reasonable doubt is not the same as deciding in any positive way that these events never happened,” he ruled. “At the end of this trial, a reasonable doubt exists because it is impossible to determine, with any acceptable degree of certainty or comfort, what is true and what is false.” That sentence, no question, will be the basis of discussion surrounding the Ghomeshi trial in the weeks, months, even years to come.

Toronto parking fines tripling on Thursday

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Mar 30th, 2016

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Multiple signs attached to a post in Toronto indicating the times drivers can and cannot park on a city street. CITYNEWS

In some cases, fines will triple, all in an effort to keep Toronto’s streets moving, Mayor John Tory said.

As of Thursday, parking ticket fines will rise to $150 for the following infractions:

  • blocking sidewalks
  • engaging in double parking
  • standing in TTC zones
  • blocking high-occupancy/reserved vehicle lanes (HOV lanes)

 Right now, the penalties range from $40 to $60.

“By attaching a real price to blocking lanes of traffic with illegal parking, we will reduce congestion,” Tory said in a statement.

“This is just one more step that we are taking to keep Toronto moving and keep pedestrians safe.”

Tory has made cutting congestion one of his platforms.

However, last fall, the City said it had withdrawn over 880,000 parking tickets, because ticket-holders had been awaiting trial for more than a year.

These infractions are less than three per cent of all parking tickets issued between 2002 and 2014, and even include ones for which a trial request had been submitted or ones where a retrial had been ordered but not scheduled.

The tickets withdrawn represent an estimated $20 million in potential revenue for Toronto – but had trials been conducted for them, the cost to the city for hearing them in court would have exceeded $23 million.

Toronto says goodbye to former mayor Rob Ford

The Canadian Press and News staff | posted Wednesday, Mar 30th, 2016

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Mourners and the city will have one last chance to say goodbye to former Toronto mayor Rob Ford before he is laid to rest on Wednesday.

Ford’s casket will be taken in a procession from city hall to St. James Cathedral at King and Church streets downtown for a funeral service. Ford’s brother Doug has invited members of the public to walk along.

The procession begins at 11 a.m. at City Hall and the funeral is expected to start at noon. Both will be streamed live on CityNews.ca and 680NEWS.com. View a detailed timeline below.

The larger-than-life politician died from cancer last week at age 46, and has been lying in repose at City Hall – an honour only granted a few times in the past.


Related stories:

Video: Mourners gather at visitation to remember Rob Ford

Visitors line up around City Hall to pay respects to Rob Ford

Should the city erect a statue to memorialize Rob Ford?


Among those scheduled to attend Ford’s funeral are Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and current Toronto Mayor John Tory.

Rob Ford’s children, Doug Ford, and former Ontario premier Mike Harris are expected to speak at the funeral. The pallbearers are Doug, Randy Ford, Michael Ford, Dom Sgambelluri, Amin Massoudi and Dan Jacobs.

The family is planning a celebration in the evening at a west-end hall that has been the site of huge Ford rallies in the past.

On Tuesday, around 3,000 people lined up around City Hall for Ford’s visitation at City Hall, some waiting as long as two hours. Around 5,000 people are believed to have passed through the rotunda to pay their respects to the former mayor and his family at the two-day visitation.

Timeline and route details

  • Around 10 a.m. – Ford family will be received at City Hall
  • 11 a.m. – Ford’s casket will be taken from City Hall, accompanied by Honour Guard and ceremonial bagpipes
  • Around 11:15 a.m. – Procession from City Hall will begin on Queen Street and proceed east on Queen to Yonge Street, south on Yonge to King Street, and east on King to Church Street, stopping in front of the cathedral on King, east of Church
  • 11:30 a.m. – Final call for invited guests to enter the church, and members of the public will then be admitted based on availability
  • Around 11:35 a.m. – Procession to arrive at the cathedral, and honour guard to escort the casket into the cathedral
  • Noon – Funeral service to start and expected to last 90 minutes

Road closures

The following roads will be closed starting at 9 a.m. and are expected to last until around 3 p.m.

  • King Street East, from Jarvis to Church streets
  • Adelaide Street East, from Church to Jarvis streets
  • Church Street, from Wellington Street East to Adelaide Street east
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