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Raptors advance to NBA conference finals after defeating the Heat

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press | posted Monday, May 16th, 2016

TORONTO – The Toronto Raptors have made history.

And now they head into uncharted territory — the Eastern Conference finals for the first time in 21 years.

Raptors’ all-star Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan combined for 63 points in a thorough 116-89 dismantling of the Miami Heat in Sunday’s thrilling do-or-die Game 7 of their conference semifinals.

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Lowry had 35 points while DeRozan chipped in with 28, playing with the heart and hustle Raptors fans had seen so many times in Toronto’s 56-win regular season. And they got plenty of help, as Bismack Biyombo had 16 rebounds to go with 17 points, DeMarre Carroll chipped in with 14 points, and Patrick Patterson had 11 points and 11 boards.

Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic scored 16 points apiece for Miami.

In a fierce back-and-forth series that saw three overtime games, and a slew of injuries, Sunday’s thrilling finale saw the Raptors lead most of the way. They battled hard on both ends of the floor with a ferocity they hadn’t shown in this series, and opened up a 17-point lead in a solid third quarter.

They went into the fourth ahead 86-78, and when Biyombo muscled his way in for a monstrous dunk — and Usain Bolt celebration — then Carroll drilled a three and the delirious Air Canada Centre crowd went nuts.

Things got heated when Biyombo and Josh McRoberts had to be separated, Biyombo furious after being clotheslined by the Heat forward. McRoberts was assessed a flagrant foul, and the incident only served to further fire up Toronto and its crowd.

Toronto could do little wrong down the stretch. By the time Patterson followed up a basket with a pair of free throws, the Raptors led by 20, and anxious Toronto fans could finally take a collective deep breath.

Lowry drilled a three with 3:23 to play that followed up a basket by DeRozan, and the Raptors went up by a whopping 25 points. When the Raptors’ all-stars left the game with two-and-a-half minutes to play, the crowd ushered them off the court with a standing ovation.

A chant of “We want Cleveland!” broke out in the dying seconds.

Now the Raptors face the well-rested Cleveland Cavaliers in a be-careful-what-you-wish-for scenario. The Cavs host Toronto in Game 1 on Tuesday after a nine-day break, while Toronto has played eight games in 15 days.

On Sunday, Toronto clobbered Miami on the boards 50-30, and outscored its opponent 27-9 in second-chance points.

The Raptors had made the second round just one other time, in 2001, when they were a missed Vince Carter jumper from making the conference finals in a loss to Philadelphia.

Toronto was the last NBA team to drop a Game 7 at home, in 2014, when Lowry’s last-second shot was blocked in a loss to Brooklyn.

The Raptors were one of four active NBA teams — the others are Charlotte, New Orleans and Los Angeles Clippers — to never play in the conference finals.

The raucous crowd also included Montreal Canadiens’ P.K. Subban, Toronto FC star striker Sebastian Giovinco, sprinter Andre De Grasse, and MMA fighter Michael (The Count) Bisping.

The Heat had forced a Game 7 with a 103-91 victory on Friday in Miami.

It was the second winner-takes-all game for Toronto in these playoffs, as they knocked out Indiana in a Game 7 in the opening round.

Thousands of fans braved the cold — and fittingly, lightly falling snow — to watch the game on the giant screen in Maple Leaf Square. Their cheers could be heard in nearby Union Station.

The line to get in several hours earlier had snaked around the Air Canada Centre.

Both teams looked tight to start, but sparked by 11 points from DeRozan, the Raptors took a 25-24 lead into the second quarter.

Joe Johnson’s personal 6-0 run put Miami up by a point midway through the second, but Lowry, with 12 points in the quarter, led the Raptors to a 53-47 lead at halftime.

Pregnant woman shot dead in Etobicoke, baby in critical condition

CityNews | posted Monday, May 16th, 2016

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A pregnant woman is dead and her baby is in critical but stable condition after a shooting in Etobicoke on Sunday night.

The woman was shot in the chest while she sat in a vehicle near John Garland Boulevard and Jamestown Crescent around 11 p.m.

Toronto police believe the shooter was in one vehicle and opened fire on the other.

The 33-year-old woman was the only person who was shot. It’s not yet known if she was the target. There were three other people in the vehicle with her.

She was five months pregnant at the time. Her baby was delivered via an emergency C-section.

Police say some shell casings have been found on the street. No arrests have been made.

City weighing 24/7 construction projects, but are residents ready?

CityNews | posted Friday, May 13th, 2016

toronto construction

A construction crew works at the intersection of College Street and Spadina Avenue in Toronto in an image posted online on April 26, 2015. TWITTER/@TTCnotices

The City of Toronto might be ready to introduce 24/7 construction projects, but whether Torontonians are ready for it is another question.

According to Mike D’Andrea, the city’s executive director of engineering and construction services, round-the-clock construction is being considered for 7 sites in Toronto, with 29 other sites looking at extended hours.

“At the end of the day we want to get in and out as quickly as possible,” D’Andrea told CBC. “We have 270 projects planned across the city. We’re spending $550 million in renewing our aging infrastructure.”

Accelerating public-sector construction was part of John Tory’s election platform in 2014. He proposed allowing construction hours to expand from the current 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. timeframe to 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. would reduce the number of road closures. He also proposed offering financial incentives to contractors who finished projects early.

The city already does major highway work during overnight hours in order to limit the disruption to rush hour traffic. And overnight construction has long been used in southern U.S. cities where it’s simply too hot to work during the daytime hours.

But the big question is whether residents in construction areas will be willing to accept the noise and shaking that comes with fixing roads and water mains during traditional sleep hours.

Since construction began on the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, CityNews has been flooded with complaints from homeowners in the area complaining about everything from noise and rattling to exhaust fumes coming from trucks waiting to take away dirt from the excavation area.

“You may be interested in knowing that the construction crew was operating at 5 a.m. this morning,” one resident says. “It is unacceptable and this is harmful to the well-being of the nearby residents.”

“There’s construction 24/7,” another homeowner on Eglinton writes. “It is non-stop. The floor, walk, TV, computers, cups … everything is shaking plus the noise. Mayor’s office, Metrolinx and their contractors are ignoring us. I understand this will be great for the city but they should have offered relocation options to the residents.”

But D’Andrea insists the city will be sensitive to neighbourhoods, minimizing disruptions whenever possible.

“We are not intending in anyway to look at jackhammering through the night at those intersections,” D’Andrea said. “We get enough complaints as it is.”

Want to skip vaccines? Ontario wants you to take a science class

CityNews | posted Friday, May 13th, 2016

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A student nurse practices the flu vaccination procedure in Montreal, Que., Feb. 26, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Lee Brown.

The province introduced legislation on Thursday that would, if passed, strengthen the requirements to obtain exemptions for mandatory school vaccines in Ontario.

The amendments to the Immunization of School Pupils Act would require parents and guardians who are considering not immunizing their children for non-medical reasons, to participate in an education session delivered by their local public health unit.

Parents or guardians would have to complete the session before getting the exemption.

Under the current act, children in Ontario must have proof of immunization against certain diseases to attend school unless they have a valid exemption. These diseases include diphtheria, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough, meningococcal disease, and for children born in 2010 or later, chickenpox.

However, with the new legislation, the act would also be amended to require health care providers to report any vaccines they administer to children, that are needed to attend school in the province, to their local public health unit directly.

The exemption requirements are part of Immunization 2020, which Health Minister Eric Hoskins proposed last December as part of the province’s five-year strategy to improve its publicly-funded immunization program.

At the time, Hoskins said it’s time to update Ontario’s 1982 law – the first of its kind in Canada – that required children be vaccinated against certain diseases in order to be able to attend school, unless they had a valid exemption.

 

Breakfast Television’s Melanie Ng opens up about infertility battle

CityNews | posted Thursday, May 12th, 2016

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Breakfast Television anchor and reporter Melanie Ng recently welcomed a baby son, named Josh, and brought him in to the studio on Thursday.

They laughed, cooed, and yes, sneezed, as the cameras rolled. But it wasn’t an easy journey to motherhood for Ng, who struggled with infertility for years.

“The stats are astounding. It’s like one in six. But you don’t think you’re going to be that one,” Ng said.

“We had trouble conceiving,” she said bluntly.

“There’s a happy ending for me and there isn’t a happy ending for everyone.”

Thursday wasn’t just any Thursday. May 12 marked Canadian Infertility Awareness Day, the reason behind Ng’s visit. Ng detailed her experiences – four years of treatment at multiple clinics – in the latest issue of Today’s Parent magazine.

Today’s Parent is planning to discuss infertility online all day, and in the upcoming issue of their magazine. Follow them onTwitter and Facebook.

Rogers is the parent company of Breakfast Television, Today’s Parent, and this website.

DeRozan, Lowry come up big as Raptors defeat Heat

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, May 12th, 2016

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For the first time in perhaps the entire post-season, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan both played like all-stars.

And now the Toronto Raptors are one victory away from the NBA Eastern Conference final.

DeRozan scored 34 points, while Lowry had 25 to lift the Raptors 99-91 over the Heat on Wednesday. They head back to Miami with a 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinals.

A win in Friday’s Game 6 and the Raptors will play in the Conference finals for the first time in the team’s 21-year history.

Dwyane Wade led Miami with 20.

Bizmack Biyombo added 10 points for the Raptors, who played without defensive specialist DeMarre Carroll for the fourth quarter.

Carroll fell hard on his left wrist, and was helped to the locker-room in considerable pain. X-rays were negative for what the team called a “wrist contusion.”

In what’s turned into a series of attrition, the Raptors are without Jonas Valanciunas for the series (ankle), and DeRozan is battling a thumb injury. The Heat are missing starting centre Hassan Whiteside (knee).

Lowry and DeRozan’s solid shooting sparked an early 20-point Raptors lead, before the Heat cut it to 10 with a 16-2 run that straddled the second and third quarter.

The Raptors headed into the fourth up 75-62, but back-to-back three-pointers from Josh Richardson cut the lead to seven points. DeRozan took a hard hit to his bad thumb, and made a beeline for the locker-room. But he returned with four minutes to play, to a warm ovation, and was huge in his return.

Without Carroll’s defence down the stretch, Wade scored Miami’s final eight points, and cut the Raptors’ lead to one point with two minutes to play.

But DeRozan scored 13 of the Raptors’ fourth-quarter points, while Lowry had seven, including a three-point dagger with 53 seconds left that he followed up with another long jumper that had the Air Canada Centre crowd roaring.

Derozan’s final two free throws with nine seconds left were just icing by that point.

The raucous ACC crowd included Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder and Jeff Ament, NFL superstar Terrell Owens and Montreal Canadiens’ P.K. Subban – who has become a regular fixture at Raptors games in the post-season.

The backdrop of black and white T-shirts spelled “YYZ” – both a city nickname and its airport code.

Wade, who sparked outrage on social media when he took shots during “O Canada” in Game 3, was loudly booed every time he handled the ball.

The Cleveland Cavaliers await the series winner after sweeping the Atlanta Hawks.

The Raptors raced out to a 16-points before the game was 10 minutes old. DeRozan and Lowry combined for 19 first-quarter points and the Raptors led 28-18 heading into the second.

Lowry’s reverse layup put Toronto up by 20 points just three-and-a-half minutes before halftime, but with Lowry on the bench for a breather, the Heat ended the quarter on a 10-0 run, cutting the Raptors’ lead to 55-45 at halftime.

Wynne leaves door open to changing implementation of autism program

Allison Jones, The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, May 12th, 2016

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TORONTO – Premier Kathleen Wynne is leaving the door slightly open to changing the way the Ontario government implements its controversial new autism program.

The Liberal government recently announced a new Ontario Autism Program with $333 million in funding, which will ultimately integrate Intensive Behavioural Intervention and Applied Behavioural Analysis therapies, currently in two separate streams, into a flexible service they’re calling enhanced ABA.

But the changes include limiting IBI to children between two and four, as the government says expert advice is to focus on children in that developmental window.

Parents of kids who are removed from the IBI wait list because of those changes are getting $8,000 to pay for private treatment ahead of the new program’s full roll-out in 2018, but parents say that will only pay for, at most, a few months of intensive therapy. The government has said $8,000 figure would pay for 36 weeks of moderate-level therapy.

Wynne said Wednesday that parents have told her they would benefit from more direct funding.

“Our response to that is well, the $8,000 is direct funding and could we look at whether once that $8K is spent, is there some opportunity to look at situations where families may actually benefit from more direct funding, as opposed to a direct service model?” she said.


Related stories:

Video: Parents protest cuts to autism treatments

Parents demand Ontario not cut five-year-old autistic kids off wait list

Changes in autism treatment program puts children at risk, critics say


“It’s very important that we get this right and so yes, absolutely, there is room to consider how we provide the best tailor-made service for students and young people because that’s the point of this.”

Brianne Brown, whose son has been in the IBI waiting list for about 2-1/2 years and will turn five in September, said Wynne’s comments are “definitely a backtrack.”

“She’s definitely softened her stance on it, it sounds like,” Brown said.

If Brown’s son gets IBI before he’s five, he will get some government-funded treatment, but will be transitioned to the new system at a six-month assessment and would not qualify for the $8,000.

“I look at her response as a step in the right direction,” she said.

Kristen Ellison, one of the many parents who has vocally opposed the program changes through a social media campaign as well as at rallies, said the pressure from parents will continue.

“Until she puts it in writing that there’s actually changes it doesn’t mean anything,” Ellison said.

“She’s giving you a glimmer of hope, but she didn’t promise to act on it. She just admitted she’s listening – which, great, she should have been listening for the last seven or eight weeks.”

The new age cut-off affects 1,377 children five and older who are already receiving IBI, 835 children in that age group who are on the wait list, and a further 1,331 younger kids who are expected to turn five while they are still on the wait list.

The government has said its new program will mean 16,000 more children will receive services – mostly ABA – and that IBI wait times will go from a current average of 2 1/2 years to six months by 2021.

Ghomeshi apologizes for “thoughtless and insensitive” behaviour

Colin Perkel and Diana Mehta, The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, May 12th, 2016

Former CBC radio star Jian Ghomeshi apologized in court Wednesday for his “thoughtless and insensitive” behaviour to a former colleague who had accused him of sexually assaulting her at work, but the woman savaged what he did to her and the broadcaster for enabling his lewd and offensive behaviour.

Speaking out for the first time since the scandal erupted in 2014, Ghomeshi cleared his throat and read what a judge said was not an admission of guilt in tones that once earned him international accolades.

“I’ve had to come to terms with my own deep regret and embarrassment,” Ghomeshi, 48, said in his two-minute statement to the court.

“I regret my behaviour at work with all of my heart and I hope that I can find forgiveness from those for whom my actions took such a toll.”

The former host of the acclaimed CBC show “Q” described his behaviour toward the complainant, Kathryn Borel, as thoughtless, sexually inappropriate, demeaning, and an abuse of his power as a famous star.

He said he now realizes he had failed to understand just how much his behaviour had hurt her.

After Ghomeshi signed a year-long peace bond, the prosecutor withdrew the single charge of sexual assault for which he had been due to stand trial next month.

The peace bond, valid for a year, which is not a finding of guilt, calls on Ghomeshi to stay away from Borel and not possess weapons.

The peace bond signed by Jian Ghomeshi on May 11, 2016. CITYNEWS.
The peace bond signed by Jian Ghomeshi on May 11, 2016. CITYNEWS.

A peace bond or recognizance, most commonly used in cases of domestic assaults, is a Criminal Code provision that allows authorities to impose conditions on someone and in which they promise to be of good behaviour.

According to the allegations, Ghomeshi grabbed Kathryn Borel, a former CBC employee, from behind at work in 2008 and ground his pelvis into her. Ghomeshi, 48, was charged one year ago in relation to the incident.

Borel consented to waiving a court-ordered ban on publicly identifying her.


Related stories:

Full text: Apology by Jian Ghomeshi to former CBC employee Kathryn Borel

Video: ‘He made it clear he could humiliate me’ ex-CBC staffer speaks out about Jian Ghomeshi

Full text: Statement by Ghomeshi’s lawyer, Marie Henein

Full text: CBC statement on Kathryn Borel and Ghomeshi scandal


Borel speaks out

Outside the courthouse, Borel pulled no punches in her assessment of Ghomeshi or the public broadcaster.

“Everyday, over a three-year period, Mr. Ghomeshi made it clear to me that he could do what he wanted to me and my body,” Borel said. “He made it clear that he could humiliate me repeatedly and walk away with impunity.”

At least three documented incidents of inappropriate touching occurred, she said, including the one for which he was criminally charged. In that 2008 incident, Ghomeshi came up behind her, put his hands on her hips and “rammed his pelvis against my backside over and over, simulating sexual intercourse,” she said.

Borel reserved some of her harshest words for the public broadcaster, which would fire him years later, for failing to act on her complaints.

“When I went to the CBC for help, what I received was a directive that yes, he could do this, and yes, it was my job to let him,” Borel said, pausing to collect herself.

“The relentless message to me from my celebrity boss and the national institution we worked for were that his whims were more important than my humanity and my dignity.”

In a note to all staff, CBC president Hubert Lacroix expressed
regret
 that “this kind of behaviour ever happened” at the broadcaster.

“We also feel it’s important to not lose sight of the progress we’ve made to help build a safer and more respectful workplace.”

 

Borel, who left the CBC because of the abuse and now works in California, said she accepted Ghomeshi’s apology as the “clearest path to the truth” because a trial would have allowed him to continue denying guilt.

She noted he had only said sorry to her, not to any of the other women who have accused him of punching, choking and smothering them.

“We all want this to be over, but it won’t be until he admits to everything he’s done,” she said.

In March, Ghomeshi was acquitted on sexual assault and choking charges related to three other complainants for incidents that occurred in 2002 and 2003. The judge said he simply didn’t believe their testimony.

One of the three woman, Linda Redgrave, said after Wednesday’s hearing that she, too, wanted an apology.

“I would like to hear him say he was sorry. I would like to hear him admit that he did what he did to me, and I actually want to know why,” said Redgrave, who has also agreed to be identified.

“He’s admitting to wrongdoing only by force; he was forced into it with this peace bond. Where’s my apology?”

Unlike the acquittal in March which sparked a raucous courthouse protest and emotionally charged debate over how the justice system treats sexual-assault complainants, the scene Wednesday was far more subdued. A handful of demonstrators stood quietly with banners that read, “We believe survivors” and “Rape is rape.”

Resolution not an ‘admission’

Ghomeshi’s lawyer, Marie Henein, told Ontario court judge Timothy Lipson that the resolution was not an “admission.” Her client, she said, had been through 18 months of unprecedented public scrutiny and he had come through it with “dignity.”

“With this apology, Mr. Ghomeshi has done everything that the Crown and the courts have asked him to do,” Henein said.

Prosecutor Michael Callaghan said the apology shows Ghomeshi accepts responsibility for his actions and the harm done to Borel – something he called a “valuable consequence” of the resolution.

Lipson said he accepted the outcome knowing Borel had “significant” input into a resolution he called “entirely reasonable and appropriate” given the circumstances.

Letter from Jian Ghomeshi's therapist. CITYNEWS.
Letter from Jian Ghomeshi’s therapist. CITYNEWS.

Ghomeshi went silent after a Facebook posting in October 2014 in which he said he enjoyed “rough sex” but said it was always consensual. He did not speak after Wednesday’s hearing, but broke into a broad smile and hugged his lawyer and family members in the courtroom.

In November 2014, former CBC employee Roberto Veri said publicly he had witnessed the incident that led to the charge.

“She was leaning over her desk working. He came up behind her and humped her. He drove his pelvis into her buttocks and a big smile on his face,” Veri told the Canadaland website.

“These things happened so quickly. I didn’t know how the person reacted at the time. I didn’t do anything.”

In March, the former host of the CBC radio show “Q” was acquitted of sexual assault and choking charges related to incidents alleged to have occurred in 2002 and 2003.

In finding Ghomeshi not guilty, Judge William Horkins said he simply did not believe that the three complainants, who all had some kind of romantic encounters with the accused, were credible – sparking raucous protests outside the court from women activists decrying how the justice system treats sexual assault complainants.

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