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Raccoon caught after reportedly biting man in Scarborough

The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Feb 12th, 2018

Toronto police and the city’s animal services department say multiple raccoons have been rounded up by officers amid what they believe is a viral outbreak among animals that could be carrying a rabies-like infection.

The latest incident, in the city’s Scarborough area, saw a man being chased down and bitten by a raccoon on the street Sunday morning, according to police.

The raccoon that bit the man, as well as others that have been seen acting erratically in the past few days, have been taken for testing by animal services officials.

The Scarborough man told officers he believed the raccoon might have rabies, but Toronto Animal Services say it’s more likely the animal had distemper.

“It’s a virus found within the raccoon population and is highly contagious,” said Nicola Ware, a spokesperson for Toronto Animal Services.

“Deceased raccoons are routinely sent for testing. And to date, no raccoon from the Toronto area has tested positive for rabies.”

She said the city’s protocol directs staff to euthanize and test any raccoons that bite a member of the public, so they will know soon whether the Scarborough raccoon had distemper.

While there haven’t been any cases of rabies in Toronto, the Hamilton area has seen a steady increase in rabies cases among various animals in the past three years.

Linda Jacobson, a veterinarian at the Toronto Humane Society, said the latest figures she had seen indicate a substantial increase, but there haven’t been any cases of a human being infected with rabies.

Toronto police are still warning residents to be careful around the animals.

Jacobson said that an animal infected with rabies would display sudden changes in behaviour, would stagger and fall, have trouble eating or drinking and would make unusual sounds.

“Those are things that make you think of rabies, but rabies isn’t the only thing that causes those things,” said Jacobson, who said she had once seen an erratic raccoon that looked like it had rabies, but later tested positive for distemper.

In the event of a bite, Jacobson said you should immediately call your local public health unit, which would then explain the best course of action.

In the case of the man who was bitten in Scarborough, staff from Toronto’s animal services will corroborate his story and then decide to euthanize and test the animal for any infections.

Ware said that raccoons that have distemper are always euthanized, as it’s a fatal infection that causes a painful death for the animal.

 

Snowboarder Laurie Blouin comes back from injury to win Olympic silver

Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Feb 12th, 2018

Laurie Blouin of Canada competes in the women's snowboard slopestyle final at the Phoenix Snow Park at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Monday, Feb. 12, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Canadian snowboarder Laurie Blouin has won a silver medal in the women’s slopestyle at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Sporting a black eye after a nasty crash in training a few days ago, Blouin overcame high winds to nail a clean second run for 76.33 points.

The reigning world champion from Stoneham, Que., Blouin was second behind American Jamie Anderson, who scored 83.00 on her first run.

Enni Rukajarvi of Finland took bronze with a score of 73.91.

Brooke Voigt of Fort McMurray, Alta., finished 21st and Spencer O’Brien of Courtenay, B.C., was 22nd.

The start of the competition was delayed for about 75 minutes due to the conditions at windswept Phoenix Park.

High winds forced the cancellation of the qualification on Sunday. Organizers decided to instead allow all competitors direct entry into the final.

Blouin took a hard fall Friday when her board got stuck in a crack after she landed a double jump. She resumed full training Sunday.

Canada won two medals in the men’s slopestyle competition on Sunday. Max Parrot of Bromont, Que., won silver and Regina’s Mark McMorris took the bronze.

Canada wins first gold medal at Winter Olympics

The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Feb 12th, 2018

Patrick Chan of Canada reacts with his teammates after receiving his score in the men's single skating free skating in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Monday, Feb. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Canada has secured its first gold medal of the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Gabrielle Daleman of Newmarket, Ont., clinched the top spot in the team figure skating competition after finishing third in the women’s free skate on Monday, before teammates Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir won the ice dance segment of the event.

Daleman’s 137.14-point performance added eight points to Canada’s cumulative score, bringing it up to 63.

Olympic Athletes from Russia were second at 58 and the United States was third with 53. Daleman’s performance clinched gold because neither Russia or the U.S. could catch the Canadians once Virtue and Moir stepped on the ice.

Although the Canadian ice dancers could have taken it easy with gold a sure thing, Virtue and Moir put in a beautiful performance, taking the top spot in the free dance with 118.10 points. That brought the Canadians final score up to 73, well ahead of the competition.

Canada’s gold medal was set up by three-time world champion Patrick Chan earlier in the day. He placed first with a score of 179.75 in the men’s free program, keeping the veteran Canadian team in first place and setting the stage for Daleman.

 

Naloxone kits to be provided to Toronto high schools

Daniela Germano, The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Feb 9th, 2018

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Canada’s largest school board will be supplying naloxone kits to more than 100 of its high schools, as cities across the country continue to deal with overdose deaths linked to opioids.

Toronto District School Board spokesman Ryan Bird said that two or three staff members at each school will receive training next month to properly spot an overdose and administer the antidote.

“It’s not that there is any specific thing that happened that prompted this, but we do know that opioids are an increasing issue across the country,” Bird said Thursday. “So, it’s more of a preventative step that we’re taking to ensure that, on the off chance that something like this were to happen, we do have the training and the naloxone to help these students.”

The board will be covering the cost of the nasal spray, he said, adding that each kit costs between $150 and $200.

The move comes almost a year after the City of Toronto released an overdose action plan that included establishing three supervised injection sites.

Figures from Toronto Public Health indicate that in 2016, fentanyl replaced heroin and morphine as the most commonly present opioid in overdose deaths. The potent synthetic painkiller was present in 48 per cent of accidental opioid deaths in 2016, compared to 31 per cent in 2015. And, between August and the end of January, Toronto paramedics responded to more than 1,400 suspected overdose calls, 106 of which were fatal.

Statistics released by the Public Health Agency of Canada in December also show that at least 1,460 Canadians died from opioid-related overdoses in the first half of 2017, a number expected to rise, as not all provinces have reported final data for the period.

British Columbia is one of the regions hardest hit by fentanyl-related overdose deaths. Last week, the province’s coroner said illicit drug overdoses claimed 1,422 lives in B.C. in 2017 — with 81 per cent of those deaths linked to fentanyl.

“Throughout the progression of the fentanyl crisis in B.C., Vancouver School Board has been working closely with Vancouver Coastal Health to determine the appropriate actions for schools,” the board said in a statement to The Canadian Press late Thursday.

The kits are not in Vancouver schools in areas that are considered low-risk, the board said, as “a naloxone kit is unlikely to be of benefit, and may result in harm, if it delays calling 911, the most appropriate response to medical distress.”

But the board said where a “risk assessment has determined an elevated risk of opioid use,” kits will be available and, on a voluntary basis, staff can seek training to use them.

Meanwhile, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board has equipped all its high schools with kits that include two doses of naloxone nasal spray. Administrators received training from Ottawa Public Health in August, spokeswoman Sharlene Hunter said.

Peel District School Board, west of Toronto, said it doesn’t have the kits in its schools, but officials said they are reviewing the decision with Peel Public Health.

Bird and Hunter said their school boards don’t intend on supplying elementary schools with kits, adding that they were focusing on older students.

“We have EpiPens in our schools in case someone were to have a severe allergic reaction. We don’t want to have to use them, but they are there just in case,” Bird said.

“The same can be applied to naloxone as well.”

Police find remains of 6 people, including Andrew Kinsman, in McArthur case

Michelle McQuigge and Peter Goffin, The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Feb 9th, 2018

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An alleged serial killer accused of murdering five men is expected to face more charges after Toronto police announced the discovery of more human remains on Thursday.

Homicide Det. Sgt. Hank Idsinga said that the remains of six individuals have now been recovered from a residential property where Bruce McArthur, a 66-year-old self-employed landscaper, had worked.

“I do anticipate more charges,” Idsinga said outside 53 Mallory Crescent, where the remains had been discovered in several planters. “I don’t have a timetable for that, I don’t have a number for that, but I would expect more charges will eventually be laid.”

Idsinga said police have identified at least one set of remains as belonging to Andrew Kinsman, one of the men McArthur is accused of murdering, but said investigators are still working to determine who the other alleged victims are.

McArthur was charged on Jan. 18 with 49-year-old Kinsman’s death, as well as the presumed death of 44-year-old Selim Esen. Both men went missing from Toronto’s gay village in 2017.

Late last month, police laid three more first-degree murder charges against McArthur related to the disappearances of Majeed Kayhan, 58, and Soroush Mahmudi, 50, as well as the death of Dean Lisowick, either 43 or 44, who had never been reported missing.

At that time, police had said skeletal remains belonging to three unidentified individuals had been discovered in planters in the backyard of the Mallory Crescent home. After working on the property for a week and a half, Idsinga said the number of remains recovered had doubled.

An extensive excavation of the home’s back yard under the guidance of a forensic anthropologist was expected to get underway later on Thursday. Idsinga said police had been thawing the frozen ground for a week to expedite the dig, adding they have already identified some areas of particular interest.

Idsinga said the investigation, which he previously described as unprecedented in scope, is proceeding on multiple fronts.

Once police are finished with the evidence so far, Idsigna said they will re-examine “literally hundreds” of missing persons cases in search of potential links to McArthur.

He also said police were taking a detailed look at McArthur’s extensive digital presence.

“We’re going through computers, we’re going through cellphones, we’re going through online applications and different apps,” he said. “We’ve prepared warrants on different providers, so that’s a very big part of this investigation.”

Police previously announced that they were searching at least 30 properties connected to McArthur. Idsinga said investigators were also sifting through the contents of at least 15 planters recovered from multiple properties, at least some of which had contained human remains.

 

Trudeau makes pitch to Silicon Valley, Amazon to invest in Canada

Jordan Press, The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Feb 9th, 2018

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau waves as he leaves the offices of Salesforce Thursday, February 8, 2018 in San Francisco.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Justin Trudeau made his prime ministerial pitch to Silicon Valley on Thursday, and had a chance to push Toronto specifically as a place for Amazon’s second headquarters during a private meeting with the company’s chief executive.

Before the meeting with Jeff Bezos, Trudeau said the project would be a boon for any city’s local economy. He said he hoped Canada’s largest city was the recipient of the expected US$5-billion project that could result in 50,000 jobs.

The prime minister didn’t say what his government was willing to offer to land the project, instead speaking of what he called the “Canadian advantage.

“We know that investing in Canada is a smart thing to do in this global economy. We have access to markets around the world with the trade deals we’re signing. We have an educated, diverse workforce that does incredibly great work,” Trudeau said.

“We’re going to continue to demonstrate why we know that Canada is such a great place to invest. I’m going to continue to make that case to every business leader I meet, including Jeff Bezos.”

Trudeau’s visit to San Francisco marked the first time in more than 70 years that a Canadian prime minister had come to the city, and his first in-person pitch to Silicon Valley.

The goal wasn’t to lure talent away from the region, but to sell Canada as a place to invest, said Rana Sarkar, Canada’s consul general in San Francisco.

“We are here not to steal jobs from Silicon Valley,” Sarkar said in an interview this week. “We are here to co-create with the tech sector here.”

Two years ago when Trudeau took office, Canadian expats who were veterans of Silicon Valley talked to The Canadian Press about the difficult sell their home country faced. In California, salaries, sunshine as well as venture capital were all abundant, and the professional culture more advanced, they said.

However, they also spoke longingly about bringing that culture back home to create the same kind of success in Canada that they experienced in California.

“The valley is great, but it’s actually not my number-one place where I’m trying to bring talent from,” said Ben Zifkin, who runs a Toronto-based social network for businesses called Hubba.

“It’s hard to pull people out of that.”

Donald Trump’s presidency has made the pitch a little easier: all the tough talk about trade deals and immigration has changed the political climate in the United States. JMarc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce, which provides customer-service cloud services to businesses, told Trudeau that “we connect with you on your values,” particularly diversity and openness.

“The political climate has obviously made Canada more attractive because we’re more diverse, we’re more welcoming and we’re more open,” said Lekan Olawoye, who leads the venture talent development division at the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto.

Companies like Microsoft and Amazon have invested in staff in Canada to get around the American visa quotas for overseas workers, said Chris Sands, Director of the Center for Canadian Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

“Canada has been a safety valve for these big companies that are able to bring people from Asia and elsewhere into Canada.”

Trudeau said his government would continue to fast-track visas for skilled workers in the tech sector, because those companies want to bring more global talent to North America.

“We know that bringing in great talent from around the world is a tremendous benefit, not just to the companies that want to do that, but to Canadian jobs and to our country as a whole — so we’re going to continue to do that.”

Calgary mayor says 2026 Olympic bid decision will be made by summer

Arash Madani, Sportsnet | posted Friday, Feb 9th, 2018

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PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – Thirty years after watching the opening ceremony at McMahon Stadium as a teenager, Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi sat inside Olympic Stadium to watch the cauldron get lit here on Friday night.

But he’s not just here as a fan of Team Canada.

Nenshi is on a fact-finding mission in South Korea with a group that is publicly calling itself “an interested city” for the 2026 Winter Games – the formal International Committee nomenclature for those exploring their options to host, since bids are not yet open.

“The real idea here is to have a bunch of meetings with both IOC people, but also the local organizing committee,” Nenshi told Sportsnet, in a wide-ranging interview Friday. “They’ve been real generous with their time to show some of the innovative things they’ve done with their venues, what they’re thinking of their legacy post-Olympics, just to give us a sense of how the Olympics have changed in the 30 years since Calgary ’88.”

Calgary’s bid exploration committee forecasts the price tag for hosting both the 2026 Olympics and Paralympics to be $4.6 billion. Nenshi is here to get a first-hand look at how the PyeongChang Organizing Committee is executing its games, and to visit with the IOC on their commitment to keeping the endeavour financially feasible.

“It’s a really good opportunity for us to spend some time with the International Olympic Committee to understand their games management system, the changes that they’ve promised to make to bring the cost of the games down and to really see how far that goes and if it really matches what Calgary, Alberta and Canada can do,” Nenshi said.

It is expected the cost of just bidding to host an Olympics is in the $30 million range.

“We will have to make a real decision if we’re serious about this by this summer,” Nenshi said.

Earlier this week, in an address here in PyeongChang, IOC vice-president Juan Antonio Samaranch said the organization is in the “dialogue phase” with interested cities. It is not just Calgary that has serious questions about Olympic economics.

“We are based on maximum flexibility, reduced cost, maximum use of existing facilities, sustainability, legacy,” Samaranch said. “The new norm is critical.”

Which, in part, includes using – and renovating – existing venues, and finding ways to minimize capital costs for facilities. Prior to Friday’s opening ceremony, Nenshi attended Canada’s mixed doubles curling match and toured the multi-purpose facility that has been transformed into sheets of pebble for the next month. It’s a 3,500-seat arena that has practice sheets underneath.

“It’s helpful to see how different people are approaching very similar problems,” Nenshi said.

They were also studying PyeongChang’s transportation system, and how they shuttle thousands of people from the mountains to the coast – similar to how Calgary would have to get people to and from Banff and Canmore.

Kirsty Duncan, Canada’s Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, is here until Feb. 12. There is also a presence from the province of Alberta. Nenshi leaves next week.

“Then we go back to our respective councils, caucuses, cabinets with what we’ve learned and really try to figure out if there is a financial and operating model that makes sense,” Nenshi said. “We have to go back to our citizens and discuss, while we’re still working on the technical feasibility of whether we can do it.”

 

Canadian Olympic snowboarder Laurie Blouin carried off on stretcher

The Canadian Press and News Staff | posted Friday, Feb 9th, 2018

Pyeongchang-2018

Canadian snowboarder Laurie Blouin was carried off the Phoenix Park course on a stretcher after a nasty training fall on Friday at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

The reigning world champion in slopestyle fell heavily when her board got stuck in a crack after she landed a double jump.

In a statement, the Canadian Olympic Committee said Blouin “has been taken to the regional hospital as a precaution. She is conscious and alert and on her way back to the Village with a team doctor. Her condition will continue to be monitored.”

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