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IOC meets to decide on Russia’s Olympic participation

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Dec 5th, 2017

The IOC executive board is meeting to decide if Russian athletes can compete at the upcoming Pyeongchang Olympics despite evidence that the country ran an orchestrated doping program at the 2014 Sochi Games.

The International Olympic Committee did not bar Russia from the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The IOC instead asked sports governing bodies to decide which athletes could compete.

The IOC could now impose a stricter sanction by allowing Russians to compete only as neutral athletes without a national flag or anthem.

IOC President Thomas Bach is scheduled to announce the 14-member board’s decision at 1:30 p.m. ET.

Trudeau says trade with China an answer to rising populism

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Dec 5th, 2017

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China, on Dec. 5, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Pursuing free trade with China and preserving the North American Free Trade Agreement are part of Canada’s international mission to combat the rising tide of populism, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday.

Trudeau capped the first leg of his China trip in Beijing on Tuesday meeting the country’s powerful president as talks continued to formally kickstart free trade negotiations between the two countries.

Xi Jinping welcomed Trudeau with a handshake and noted the prime minister had been having busy and productive meetings in Beijing.

“I know that as we look to building a better future for the entire world the friendship between Canada and China will play an important role in setting the tone and the approach that will characterize the 21st century,” Trudeau replied.

The prime minister remained hopeful that Canada and China could forge ahead with a full-fledged trade deal that he said would benefit working people in both countries.

Trudeau characterized his trade ambitions with China, NAFTA and pursuing other deals in Asia, including a new version of Trans-Pacific Partnership, as part of Canada’s fight against the protectionist tide most closely associated with the Donald Trump administration in Washington.

“It’s a time where there is much political space given up in various countries for populism or resurgent nationalism. And Canada stands strongly as a country that is making a case for international trade that benefits everyone. We will continue to do that,” he told reporters before his meeting with Xi.

Canada’s tough NAFTA renegotiation was a big part of his dinner conversation Monday night with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, said Trudeau.

“We take very seriously the responsibility we have to improve NAFTA to benefit both Canada, the United States and Mexico,” Trudeau said.

“Canada is not in the business of trying to create a zero sum game or create winners or losers in trade deals.”

After his Beijing meeting with Xi, Trudeau flew south to the city of Guangzhou for the Fortune Global Forum, a major conference of international business leaders.

Trudeau said he would not hesitate to raise human rights concerns with Xi, who has become China’s most powerful leader in decades.

“The nature of the very strong and constructive relationship between Canada and China right now means that we can have strong and frank discussions about issues that we see differently without endangering the positive relationship we have,” Trudeau said.

He said he’s raised specific consular cases, and the inability of Canadian diplomats to visit some Canadians in prison.

The meeting with Xi follows Trudeau’s talks on Monday with Li, where they were not able to announce the start of formal free trade talks that would move beyond the current phase of exploratory discussions.

International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne was noticeably absent from at least two public events that three fellow cabinet ministers attended with Trudeau on Tuesday because he was continuing the trade talks with Chinese counterparts.

Trudeau said there wasn’t one particular issue that held up movement to the next phase but he wants a progressive trade deal that includes addressing issues such as gender, the environment and labour.

Trudeau touted the lower-level agreements the two countries inked Monday on energy and the environment, agriculture and education as ways of incrementally moving relations forward as part of his new annual leaders’ dialogue.

“Whether there are formal negotiations or simply exploratory talks, we are constantly engaged with our Chinese counterparts.”

The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association said the agreement reached Monday could generate $125 million in new beef exports to China in the next five years, while the exploratory free trade talks continue.

“We know that they’re working on it. Things haven’t stopped,” John Masswohl, the association’s international relations director, told reporters in Beijing.

China imposes a 12-per cent tariff on Canadian beef, while Australia faces a seven per cent tariff that is gradually being phased out through their free trade agreement with China, he said.

The agriculture sector’s enthusiasm for free trade with China contrasts with some other 600 businesses, academics and civil society groups who took part in government consultations.

Some expressed fears that a free trade pact with China could kill Canadian jobs and reduce their ability to compete against China’s lax labour standards, lower environmental requirements and state subsidies.

Masswohl said opening new markets for Canadian beef in China is crucial. “Right now our biggest risk is we ship 270,000 tonnes of beef to the United States, and possibly facing losing that NAFTA agreement with the United States, which I think is a possibility.”

Trudeau told a large boardroom of three-dozen business leaders on Tuesday morning that China and Canada are continuing their exploratory discussions on a comprehensive trade deal.

The government wants to establish a framework with China that would broaden the talks to include the environment, governance, labour and gender issues before deciding to formally begin trade negotiations.

“We know that creating a strong framework in which investments and businesses and the rules that surround the operations of Canadian companies in China, and Chinese companies in Canada will be laid out, and predictable, is something that everyone is looking for,” Trudeau told the business leader off the top of their one-hour closed door meeting.

“I know how important predictability and smooth understanding of the context in which we are, is important for business decisions.”

The two-dozen participants included Bombardier, Shopify, Manulife, SNC Lavalin, Bank of Montreal and Scotiabank.

“The formal free trade talk is a critical point that this mission’s about. We’re optimistic that eventually we’ll get to where we need to, to move forward,” said Preston Swafford, the chief nuclear officer for SNC Lavalin, which is vying for a slice of the clean energy market in China.

“They’re still working. The term is: the cake is not baked yet.”

Two pedestrians struck and killed in GTA on Monday

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Dec 5th, 2017

Police at the scene after a pedestrian was struck and killed in Mississauga. Peel Regional Police Twitter.

Two pedestrians have been struck and killed in the GTA on Monday night in separate incidents.

The OPP’s Kerry Schmidt tells CityNews a woman in her 50s was struck and killed in the northbound collector’s lane of Highway 427 at Dundas Street West in Etobicoke.

It’s not yet clear why she was on the highway at the time.

When emergency crews arrived she was found without vital signs and died shortly after.

In a separate incident, a 41-year-old man was struck and killed by a vehicle at Hurontario Street and Brunel Road in Mississauga just after 5:30 p.m.

Peel regional police have cordoned off the area for an investigation.

1 dead, 2 critically injured after fire at TCH building in Lawrence Heights

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Dec 5th, 2017

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One person has died and two people are fighting for their lives in hospital after a two-alarm fire at a Toronto Community Housing apartment building in Lawrence Heights.

Toronto police and firefighters were called to the building in the Flemington Road and Allen Road area around 9:40 p.m. on Monday.

Paramedics told 680 NEWS two males aged 16 and 18 and a woman in her 40s were rushed to hospital in life-threatening condition. One person died in hospital.

It is not yet known which person was pronounced dead in hospital.

The Ontario Fire Marshal’s office has been called in to investigate.

Liberal Sherry Romanado says Tory MP James Bezan made sexual comments

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Dec 5th, 2017

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Members of Parliament were shocked when Liberal MP Sherry Romanado stood in the House of Commons on Monday and revealed that Conservative defence critic James Bezan had made “unwanted comments” to her “that were sexual in nature.”

Earlier in the day, Bezan had made a vague apology saying he had made “an inappropriate and insensitive comment” at a public event earlier in the year.

He has since released a statement explaining that the incident happened in May during a photo op at Ottawa city hall. He says he made a flippant remark by saying  “this isn’t my idea of a threesome.”

Bezan says it was meant to be a partisan comment about being in a photo with a Liberal member of caucus. He claims he realized his comments were inappropriate and attempted to apologize to Romanado the next day but “was not afforded that opportunity.”

A formal complaint was made to the House of Commons Human Resources and a review was launched into his comments by the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO).

Bezan says the CHRO found that this was not a case of sexual harassment and no disciplinary action was recommended. He claims to have undergone sensitivity training and that he has apologized to Romanado both in person and in writing.

Romanado is not making any further comments.

Supreme Court allows full enforcement of Trump travel ban

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Dec 5th, 2017

FILE - In this Oct. 18, 2017, file photo, protesters gather at a rally in Washington. The Supreme Court is allowing the Trump administration to fully enforce a ban on travel to the United States by residents of six mostly Muslim countries. The justices say in an order on Dec. 4, that the policy can take full effect even as legal challenges against it make their way through the courts. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

The Supreme Court is allowing the Trump administration to fully enforce a ban on travel to the United States by residents of six mostly Muslim countries.

The justices, with two dissenting votes, said Monday that the policy can take full effect even as legal challenges against it make their way through the courts. The action suggests the high court could uphold the latest version of the ban that Trump announced in September.

The ban applies to travellers from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. Lower courts had said people from those nations with a claim of a “bona fide” relationship with someone in the United States could not be kept out of the country. Grandparents, cousins and other relatives were among those courts said could not be excluded.

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor would have left the lower court orders in place.

The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, will be holding arguments on the legality of the ban this week.

Both courts are dealing with the issue on an accelerated basis, and the Supreme Court noted it expects those courts to reach decisions “with appropriate dispatch.”

Quick resolution by appellate courts would allow the Supreme Court to hear and decide the issue this term, by the end of June.

Majority of Canadians back outright ban on guns in urban areas: Poll

CityNews | posted Monday, Dec 4th, 2017

OPP officers prepare to bag a firearm after Ontario Provincial Police host a news conference in Vaughan, Ont., on February 23, 2017. The majority of Canadians are in favour of a total ban on guns in urban areas, a new poll suggests. The EKOS/Canadian Press poll found 69 per cent of those surveyed agreed with the statement "I think that there should be a strict ban on guns in urban areas," with support highest in Quebec at 75 per cent and lowest in Alberta, at 47 per cent. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

The vast majority of Canadians favours a total ban on guns in urban areas, a new poll suggests.

According to the poll, conducted by Ekos Research Associates for The Canadian Press, 69 per cent of those surveyed agreed with the statement “I think that there should be a strict ban on guns in urban areas.”

Support was highest in Quebec at 76 per cent and lowest in Alberta at 48 per cent.

The federal Liberals are currently at work on legislation to follow through on campaign commitments to tighten up restrictions on guns, though an earlier suggestion a new bill could be introduced before the end of the year now seems unlikely.

The Liberal plans don’t involve any kind of total ban and, indeed, no political party has ever suggested the idea, noted Ekos president Frank Graves.

But widespread support for the concept suggests there’s room to simply stop tinkering with existing gun laws and put in place something more ambitious, he said.

“I’m not saying the operationalization wouldn’t be complex but this isn’t a moon shot and it’s been done in other jurisdictions,” Graves said.

“I think Canadians would settle for something close — it wouldn’t have to be a strict ban, but anything to move the needle here.”

Guns are not involved in the vast majority of crimes in Canada but there have been increases in gun-related violence.

Statistics released last month showed that 2016 was the first time since 2012 that shootings were the most common method of homicide in Canada. Statistics Canada also reported that 2016 was the third year in a row that the number of firearm-related homicides rose.

The agency also reported last month that 587 people took their own lives with the use of a firearm in 2014, up from 544 the year before.

A standard response to why government doesn’t go further to crack down on guns is politics and the perception that urban Canadians view the issue far differently than rural dwellers, who use guns to hunt for food or protect themselves in remote regions beyond the every-day reach of law enforcement.

The political divide has played itself out repeatedly during national debates on gun control. In 2011, two NDP MPs from Thunder Bay, Ont., were disciplined when they broke ranks and voted in favour of the Conservative government’s legislation to repeal the gun registry.

During the Conservative leadership race earlier this year, a clear position on firearms-related policy was a must-have for candidates, many of whom actively courted firearms enthusiasts.

But the Ekos survey suggests there’s support across the political spectrum for restrictions that are limited to urban areas — 86 per cent of respondents who identified themselves as Liberals, 56 per cent of Conservatives and 75 per cent of New Democrats backed an urban ban.

The automated land line and cell phone survey of 2,287 Canadians was carried out Nov. 10-30 and is considered accurate within 2.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

In 2015, the federal Liberals made several campaign commitments related to firearms. They’ve fulfilled some, including a revamp of a national advisory board and increased funding to the provinces to address gun violence.

That money was announced last month at an event in Surrey, B.C., where a federal by-election is underway in a community that has a long-standing issue with guns and gangs.

The Liberals also pledged to require enhanced background checks for anyone seeking to buy a gun, and prospective buyers must also show a license. Those who sell guns would, among other things, be required to keep an inventory of stock and sales.

Their platform also promised to get more weapons off the streets by strengthening controls on handguns and assault weapons.

A group that includes family members of women killed at a shooting at the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal in 1989, as well as survivors of a shooting at Montreal’s Dawson College in 2006 and one at a mosque in Quebec City last year gathered on Parliament Hill last week to press the Liberals to commit to a firm timeline for the changes.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said work is underway on related legislation.

“It is an important topic and efforts in the past in dealing with a topic that has the potential to, in some places, be controversial has ended up foundering,” he said.

“When I put forward the legislative package I want to make sure that it’s a package that will succeed. That’s my objective and we’ll get it done.”

People whose lives have been changed directly by gun violence say they’ve been waiting too long.

Fog blankets southern Ontario: Views from Toronto and the GTA

CityNews | posted Monday, Dec 4th, 2017

Photo courtesy: Jim Grace, Mississauga. Twitter.com/meesterjeem

The sky was a hazy shade of winter on Sunday morning, with Environment Canada issuing a fog warning for southern Ontario.

Toronto and the GTA as well as the cities of Cambridge, Hamilton and beyond are experiencing near zero visibility. The agency as well as police are advising drivers to be extra cautious – drive slow and maintain a safe following distance.

CityNews viewers from across the city and beyond shared what they saw or rather couldn’t see as they woke up in a literal haze:

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