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A police cruiser outside Duke of Connaught Junior and Senior Public School in Toronto on Sept. 28, 2017. The school was placed under a hold-and-secure after receiving a threat. CITYNEWS

Person of interest questioned in threat against Leslieville school

NEWS STAFF | posted Friday, Sep 29th, 2017

A police cruiser outside Duke of Connaught Junior and Senior Public School in Toronto on Sept. 28, 2017. The school was placed under a hold-and-secure after receiving a threat. CITYNEWS
 A person has been arrested after a possible threat put a Leslieville school under hold-and-secure for a second day in a row.

Police said the person of interest has been arrested on domestic charges and they are being questioned in relation to the threat.

No further details have been released.

Students at Duke of Connaught Junior and Senior Public School, near Queen Street East and Greenwood Avenue, weren’t able to leave the building for lunch, recess and other activities on Thursday.

“Police found nothing of concern after a search of the school was conducted just before the lunch period started,” the school said in a letter to parents.

At the end of the day, students left by the main doors. Some evening classes were cancelled and a Terry Fox run was postponed.

The move was a precaution to ensure students’ safety, police said. Officers will be at the school from about 7:30 a.m. and remain throughout the day.

They didn’t reveal what the threat was or how it was received.

Hillary Clinton thrills Toronto crowd with part feminist, part activist talk

CityNews | posted Friday, Sep 29th, 2017

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Former American presidential candidate Hillary Clinton told an appreciative crowd on Thursday that more women in politics is the way to overcome the sexism that pervades the political world, and that democracy is under assault.

The Democrat was in Toronto – part of a 15-city tour that will also include Montreal and Vancouver – to promote her new best-selling memoir, “What Happened,” in which she describes her stunning loss in last year’s election to political newcomer, Republican Donald Trump, a man often criticized as a misogynist.

“The only way to get sexism out of politics is to get more women into politics,” Clinton said. “I want more women in politics so our politics is more representative.”

Many reasons exist why politics can be a downright infuriating prospect for women, she said, citing the example a group of men sitting around a table deciding what health care women need.

At the same time, she said, politics can also be immensely rewarding by providing women a voice at the table and she praised Prime Minister Trudeau for appointing Canada’s first gender-balanced cabinet.

“I especially appreciate Canada’s commitment to an open and diverse society that welcomes immigrants,” she said to loud applause as she opened her speech.

In fact, she joked that she had received many suggestions to relocate to Canada. While she won’t be moving, she did enjoy her summer vacation in Quebec, she said.

Clinton said the Russian “misinformation campaign” during the election was largely successful because Americans are finding it increasingly difficult to distinguish between truth and reason.

“There is no such thing as an ‘alternative fact’ despite the war by some to wage a war on reason and evidence,” she said. “We can’t let that happen.”

Trump won’t condemn the Russian interference in American politics because there is growing evidence of “very tangled” financial relationships between the president, his associates and Russia, she said.

“Trump doesn’t just like (Russian President Vladimir) Putin,” she said, “He wants to be like Putin.”

Russian cyber-attacks on the Democratic National committee and emails stolen from her campaign, she said, warrant an independent commission to get to the bottom of the issue.

Although some seats were empty, organizers pegged the size of the crowd at above 5,000 – the majority of them women. They roared in delight as Clinton spoke about her trials and tribulations, interrupting her frequently to voice approval, laugh or clap.

Clinton’s publisher, publisher Simon and Schuster, had billed her speech as a “detailed and surprisingly funny” account of her past and plans for the future, and the former secretary of state did not disappoint her audience.

“She gave me confidence that there is a future and we can do something,” Jan Moore said afterward. “It was encouraging and uplifting.”

Clinton talked of the lost election and the difficult aftermath, adding at times she simply wanted to crawl under the covers until the distress eased.

As for her future, she said she intends to be an activist citizen agitating for human and women’s rights now that she is free of the constraints of being a politician in the glare of the public eye.

Clinton, through a moderator, answered several questions, taking shots at Trump as the “first reality TV candidate” who was offensive, “stalked” her, and was an all-round “creep.”

“What Happened” has already garnered huge international attention, reportedly having already sold more than 300,000 copies in all formats and the highest opening hardcover for non-fiction in five years since its official debut Sept. 12.

Some critics have praised it for its revealing honesty and poignancy; others have called it boring and self-serving.

Another audience member, Linda Ford, said she planned to read the book. Ford said she was “disappointed” in the outcome of the election but pleased the ex-politician is using her experience for the common good.

On Oct. 23, the former eight-year senator is scheduled to speak in Montreal, and in Vancouver on Dec. 13.

Police investigating threat against Leslieville school

CityNews | posted Friday, Sep 29th, 2017

A police cruiser outside Duke of Connaught Junior and Senior Public School in Toronto on Sept. 28, 2017. The school was placed under a hold-and-secure after receiving a threat. CITYNEWS

A public school in Leslieville is expected remain under a hold-and-secure for a second day on Friday while police investigate a possible threat.

Students at Duke of Connaught Junior and Senior Public School, near Queen Street East and Greenwood Avenue, weren’t able to leave the building for lunch, recess and other activities on Thursday.

“Police found nothing of concern after a search of the school was conducted just before the lunch period started,” the school said in a letter to parents.

At the end of the day, students left by the main doors. Some evening classes were cancelled and a Terry Fox run was postponed.

The move was a precaution to ensure students’ safety, police said. Officers will be at the school from about 7:30 a.m. and remain throughout the day.

They didn’t reveal what the threat was or how it was received.

 

Elderly man 4th pedestrian struck and killed in Toronto in 24 hours

CityNews | posted Friday, Sep 29th, 2017

An elderly man died after he was hit by a car on McCowan Road near Steeles Avenue East on Sept. 28, 2017. CITYNEWS

An elderly man has been struck and killed in Toronto’s east-end – the fourth pedestrian fatality in the city since Wednesday evening.

Police were called to McCowan Road, near Steeles Avenue East, just before 10 p.m. on Thursday.

Paramedics say the victim, believed to be in his 70s, was without vital signs and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police say the man was crossing McCowan mid-block just south of Steeles when he was struck by a vehicle heading south in the curb lane.

The driver remained on the scene.

Police say alcohol or speed do not appear to be factors in the crash.

A mother and five-year-old daughter were struck and killed while crossing Warden Avenue in Scarborough late Wednesday night.

A man in his 50s was struck and killed in the area of Birchmount Road and St. Clair Avenue just after 4:30 p.m. on Thursday.

Netflix to invest $500M in Canadian programs as part of feds’ new cultural plan

CityNews | posted Thursday, Sep 28th, 2017

The company logo and view of Netflix headquarters in Los Gatos, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

An agreement that Netflix will invest at least $500 million in original productions in Canada is set to be part of a long-awaited reboot of Canada’s cultural policy.

Heritage Minister Melanie Joly will unveil the comprehensive overhaul Thursday that will look at everything from the CRTC to how best to sell and promote Canada’s creative work.

The plan is being dubbed a “creative economic strategy” designed to both update the approach the government takes to encouraging Canadian content production and the laws and organizations which govern it.

Getting companies like Netflix to play a bigger role financially is one of the government’s goals as traditional broadcasters have long complained about an uneven playing field.

Some had hoped to see the policy force the U.S. giants to charge sales tax for their subscriptions or contribute to the same content funds as Canadian broadcasters.

But a government source, not authorized to speak on the record, says Netflix has agreed to invest at least $500 million over the next five years in original productions here.

The government is eager to see Facebook and Google do the same; the search engine giant did recently launch a dedicated Canadian content channel on YouTube.

The goal is to make sure the government’s approach to Canadian content is not tied to arcane technology of the past, and is flexible enough to bolster content creators, be they musicians, artists, writers, architects or video game designers, while also helping them sell their wares abroad.

The policy is the product of months of consultations and will plot a course for a review of the Broadcasting Act and Telecommunications Act, which was promised in the 2017 federal budget.

Joly’s speech — scheduled to begin at noon ET Thursday at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier in downtown Ottawa, in the shadow of Parliament Hill — will cover three themes: investing in creators, helping their content get discovered and distributed and — a staple of any conversation on Canadian culture — a discussion on the future of public broadcasting.

There are some other announcements likely, including more robust funding to help Canadian film, television and music producers find an audience. Some money was allocated to two programs in the 2016 budget, but the expectation is that they’ll be supported with additional funds.

“As our economy changes in an information age, we need to support creative talent who will be critical in future economic growth,” said David Sparrow, president of ACTRA, the performers’ union.

CBC president Hubert Lacroix said ensuring that all of the players chip in to develop Canada’s cultural content will be essential to the survival of Canada’s relatively small marketplace.

“The levelling of the playing field, so that everyone … contributes to the ecosystem, is key,” Lacroix said. “We’re too small in this world to be doing this by ourselves.”

Ontario to require disclosure of pharma payments to health professionals

CityNews | posted Thursday, Sep 28th, 2017

Bottles of prescription drugs as labeled Lipitor, TriCor, Plavix, Singulair, Lexapro and Avapro are displayed (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

Wide-ranging legislation introduced Wednesday by the Ontario government will require public disclosure of payments that pharmaceutical companies make to doctors, increase inspections for splash pads, barber shops and nail shops, and license medical device operators who use X-ray machines, CT scanners, and MRIs.

The bill was introduced Wednesday afternoon by Health Minister Eric Hoskins, who said it will make province’s health care system “more efficient and more transparent” for patients. If passed, the bill will modernize 10 pieces of legislation, the government said.

The bill would change existing rules for paramedics, who by law can only transport patients to hospital following a 911 call. The new rules, if passed, would allow paramedics to transport a patient to a non-hospital setting, like a mental health facility.

The legislation would change the safety inspection program for the province’s long-term care homes with new enforcement tolls that would include higher fines.

Public health regulations around recreational water facilities like splash pads and wading pools and rules for personal service settings like barber shops and nail salons, will be clarified under the regulations and make enforcement easier, the government said.

The bill would also tighten up rules and enhance enforcement around community health facilities which operate medical radiation devices like X-rays, CT scanners and ultrasound machines. Ultrasound operators would also be more strictly regulated.

The most high profile piece of the act introduces mandatory reporting from pharmaceautical companies and medical device manufacturers make to health care professionals.

“It gives them tools and information that they can then use to make more informed decisions about their own health care, so I believe it’s something Ontarians want and deserve,” Hoskins said in an interview Tuesday.

“We are the first jurisdiction in Canada to undertake this, so I think that that leadership by Ontario is important on an issue that I think resonates with all Canadians.”

The province consulted over the summer with patient groups, health-care providers and the pharmaceutical and medical device industries about payments such as speaking engagement fees, paid meals, and travel expenses.

The legislation would require disclosure of the payments and create an online, searchable database of that information.

Ten major pharmaceutical companies released data earlier this year showing they had paid nearly $50 million to Canadian health-care professionals and organizations last year.

Drug company GlaxoSmithKline – one of those 10 companies – is supportive of the legislation.

Ethics and compliance officer Annie Bourgault said the company may, for example, pay a doctor to participate in a consultation meeting to speak about patient needs when GSK is about to launch a new medication.

“At the end of the day it’s for the benefit of the patients, so there’s kind of no downside to being transparent,” she said.

Payments from pharmaceutical companies to health-care providers can raise concerns about conflicts of interest in the prescribing and promotion of certain drugs.

But Hoskins said introducing legislation shouldn’t imply that the government believes there are negative connotations to such payments.

“What we want to do is … present information so that patients and health providers and the industry can have a better understanding of the nature of the transactions that are taking place.”

There are already some restrictions in Ontario on the types of benefits that can be received, but disclosure isn’t always required.

A policy from the regulatory body for doctors in the province says physicians must not accept compensation from the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries in exchange for meeting with promotional representatives, and they must not accept personal gifts.

They can, however, accept items such as teaching aids that benefit patients, under the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario’s policy. They can also accept drug samples.

Doctors are allowed to accept compensation at “fair market value” for presenting at industry-supported continuing education events, sitting on advisory or consultation boards, and for participating in industry research.

The Ontario Medical Association has said it hoped any changes to disclosure rules would be applied to all health-care professionals to ensure doctors are on a level playing field. Hoskins said Tuesday it would apply to all regulated health professions in the province.

But many of the details, such as the minimum payment that would trigger the disclosure requirement, will be left out of the legislation and decided through regulations.

“We had a substantial consultation over the course of the summer and there was clear and broad support for the direction that we’re taking and the support for this proposed legislation,” Hoskins said.

“We’ll have that opportunity as we go forward … to continue the dialogue and continue the consultation and learn from other jurisdictions, but also hear from stakeholders.”

Patients in the United States, Australia and some European countries can already go online to see how much money their health-care providers have received from pharmaceutical companies.

New citizenship oath to include reference to treaties with Indigenous Peoples

CityNews | posted Thursday, Sep 28th, 2017

Aboriginal drummers welcome premiers and National Aboriginal Organizational leaders to an event in Haines Junction, Yukon, on July, 20, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

A revised oath of citizenship that will require new Canadians to faithfully observe the country’s treaties with Indigenous Peoples is nearly complete.

The proposed new text was put to focus groups held by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada in March, following months of consultation by departmental officials.

It reads: “I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, her heirs and successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada including treaties with Indigenous Peoples, and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.”

The language comes from the 94th and final recommendation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which examined the legacy of Canada’s residential schools.

Implementing that recommendation was one of the tasks given to Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen when he was sworn into his portfolio in January 2017, but work on it began soon after the commission delivered its recommendations in late 2015, briefing notes for the minister suggest.

The notes, obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act, show the government also wants to modify the script delivered by those who preside over citizenship ceremonies. The proposed notes say the script should refer to ceremonies taking place on traditional territories, and include remarks on the history of Indigenous Peoples.

When it comes to the oath, the inclusion of a reference to treaties is the only proposed change.

Changing the wording requires a legislative amendment to the Citizenship Act. The Liberals are currently in the process of overhauling the act in a bid to make citizenship easier to obtain.

When the proposed text was put to focus groups composed of both recent immigrants and longtime Canadian residents, reaction was generally positive, according to a report posted online by the Immigration department this week.

But there was a caveat: “Participants only agreed with the modifications insofar as newcomers are adequately educated about Indigenous Peoples and the treaties,” the report said.

“Many felt that they themselves would struggle with this new formulation, given their own limited knowledge of the treaties.”

Some wondered about the need for changes at all.

“A few participants took it upon themselves to question the need to modify the oath and that it might represent a precedent whereby other groups in Canada will want to be represented in the oath,” the report said.

The new oath comes along with a major overhaul of the study guide used for the citizenship exam. A draft copy obtained by The Canadian Press earlier this year revealed it, too, will include extensive references to Indigenous history and culture.

The Liberals had originally been aiming to unveil both the new guide and oath around Canada Day, but work is ongoing.

Don Cherry calls media coverage of kneeling protests hypocritical

CityNews | posted Thursday, Sep 28th, 2017

Buffalo Bills players kneel during the American National anthem before an NFL game against the Denver Broncos at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York, on Sept. 24, 2017. GETTY IMAGES/Brett Carlsen

Hockey commentator Don Cherry believes media coverage of athletes kneeling during the playing of national anthems has been hypocritical.

The popular TV personality best known for his Coach’s Corner segment on Hockey Night in Canada posted a statement to his verified Twitter account on Wednesday night taking aim at “left wing media” and its coverage of National Football League players taking a knee during the American national anthem to protest the racist treatment of African Americans.

Cherry pointed out in his statement that former Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, a devout Christian, was mocked by the media for taking a knee to pray after scoring a touchdown in his breakout rookie season in 2010.

“The late night leftie talk shows made fun of Tim, to the cartoonists in the paper he was a joke and they made fun of him. It was brutal,” said Cherry in the 131-word document. “Yet the NFL players go on their knees to make a point and they are heroes.”

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began the kneeling phenomenon in 2016, refusing to stand during the anthem in the NFL’s pre-season. It has since become common across the league and has spread to Major League Baseball and the Canadian Football League. National Hockey League players Wayne Simmonds and Joel Ward have both entertained the idea of kneeling during the anthems during that sport’s pre-season.

The protests have drawn the ire of U.S. President Donald Trump, who had repeatedly criticized NFLers for the practice in interviews and on Twitter. In response to Trump’s demands to stop the kneeling, more athletes have begun to protest.

On Sunday, all but one of the Pittsburgh Steelers refused to take the field during the national anthem, while other teams linked arms or groups of players sat or took a knee. In response to Trump’s tweets, the National Basketball Association’s Golden State Warriors refused to visit the White House, a tradition among reigning championship teams.

Cherry believes that Tebow was mocked while Kaepernick and others have been praised because of religious persecution.

“The reason they can make fun and ridicule Tim getting on his knees and thanking the Lord is because he is a Christian,” said Cherry. “No other religion you can make fun of and ridicule … only Christianity. If you are Christian you are open season.”

Kaepernick is also open about his Christianity, with Biblical tattoos covering his torso and his own touchdown celebrations “thanking Him.”

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