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Unedited video and transcript of PC Leader Patrick Brown’s news conference

CityNews | posted Thursday, Jan 25th, 2018

 

The following is a transcript of PC Leader Patrick Brown’s news conference delivered at Queen’s Park on Jan. 23, 2018.

Ladies and gentlemen,

A couple hours ago I learned about troubling allegations about my conduct and character and I’m here tonight to address them.

First, I want to say these allegations are false – categorically untrue – every one of them.

I will defend myself as hard as I can with all means at my disposal.

It’s never ok, it’s never ok, for anyone to feel they’ve been a victim of sexual harassment or feel threatened in any way.

Let me make this clear: a safe and respectful society is what we expect and deserve and no one appreciates that more than I do. I’ve got two younger sisters who are my best friends. I’ve grown up in a family that has taught me good values.

My values and beliefs are those that we need to move forward to eradicate sexual violence and harassment across the province, across the country, everywhere.

I know the court of public opinion moves fast. I’ve instructed my attorneys to ensure that these allegations are addressed where they should be: in the court of law.

In short, I reject these accusations in the strongest possible terms. It’s not my values, it’s not how I was raised, it’s not who I am.

Cara ready for U.S., Canadian expansion after buying The Keg

Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Jan 24th, 2018

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Cara Operations Ltd. is beefing up its already large presence in the Canadian restaurant business with a $200-million acquisition of Keg Restaurants Ltd., a move that could help take a bigger bite out of the U.S market.
The acquisition announced Tuesday adds 106 steakhouses to the Vaughan, Ont. company’s empire of 1,259 restaurants, which are mostly in Canada.

Cara’s brands include Swiss Chalet and St-Hubert chicken restaurants, the Harvey’s, Burger’s Priest and New York Fries quick service chains, Milestones, Montana’s, Kelsey’s, and East Side Mario’s casual dining restaurants, as well as Prime Pubs, Elephant & Castle and Bier Markt.

Only a small fraction of those restaurants have seeped across the border to the U.S. and other countries, but Cara and KRL’s CEOs said at a press conference Tuesday that they see potential for international growth.

“At some point, we will run out of room in Canada and The Keg already has a foothold in the U.S.,” Cara CEO Bill Gregson said.

He thinks more of Cara’s brands will cross the border and the 10 American Keg steakhouse and handful of U.S. Elephant and Castle pubs will act as “a beachhead for expansion” without “risking the farm” as it grows.

“We will figure out what the pace will be over time (but) there is still opportunity in mid-size markets in Canada,” Gregson said.

KRL’s CEO David Aisenstat will remain in charge of the Keg operations and assume oversight of Cara’s higher-end casual brands Bier Markt, the Landing Group and Milestones restaurants. He said KRL is already bigger than American steakhouse competitors Flemings and Del Frisco’s.

“The potential for us to make a dent there and really grow our brand there is pretty severe,” he said. “We have a lot of room in Quebec and three (Kegs) slotted for Alberta for a couple of years, so we have some growth here.”

However, Aisenstat admitted he could see The Keg growing to 120 restaurants in Canada, but probably not 150.

In recent years, Canada’s restaurant industry has rapidly expanded and become increasingly consolidated.

In December, MTY Food Group added Baton Rouge-owner Imvescor to its roster of dozens of quick-serve food chains, including Country Style, Mr. Sub, ManchuWOK, Extreme Pita, Pinkberry and Villa Madina.

At the start of 2017, Restaurant Brands International, which owns Tim Hortons and Burger King, nabbed Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen for US $1.8 billion.

Cara’s latest buy was the Toronto-based Pickle Barrel chain in September 2017.

“We have always been opportunistic,” said Gregson, adding most of Cara’s acquisition targets have approached the company rather than it pursuing them.

However, the KRL and Cara deal stemmed from an ongoing relationship of their CEOs, which Gregson said often involves “the odd round of golf” and “a basketball game here and there.” Gregson has also sat on KRL’s board for the past four years.

They started mulling over a partnership shortly after Cara launched its Kellys Landing restaurant in Toronto last fall and Gregson invited Aisenstat for a meal there to grab some advice on the spot from his pal.

Aisenstat, who rose through the ranks at his father’s Hy’s Steakhouse chain in Toronto, said the deal was particularly exciting because Cara has expanded so much in the last four years and he admitted he probably eats at Cara’s Swiss Chalet restaurants just as much as he dines at The Keg.

The Competition Bureau said Tuesday the Cara-Keg deal will be subject to its review, but wouldn’t comment further.

Under terms of the deal, Cara has agreed to pay KRL’s shareholders — Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. and Aisenstat — $105 million in cash and 3.8 million Cara subordinate voting shares.

In addition, Cara may have to fork over another $30 million in cash if certain financial milestones are attained within the first three fiscal years after the deal closes.

Cara will change its corporate name “to reflect the new business composition” once the deal closes. Gregson and Aisenstat joked that they were floating “Bill and David’s Bar and Grill” as a possibility, but aren’t sure it will make the cut.

But they were sure that Cara brands won’t start selling Keg menu items and the Keg’s relationship with the Keg Royalties Income Fund, a publicly traded entity that receives royalties from Keg restaurants operated by KRL, won’t change.

Gregson said, “We had no conversations with the fund about buying the fund portion” and “it is not on the radar” in part because the yield of the fund means Cara would need “a huge multiple” to buy out the fund.

KRL was founded as the Keg and Cleaver in 1971 by British Columbian entrepreneur George Tidball, who was also involved with the Spaghetti Factory, A&W, and Apex ski resort.

Meanwhile, Cara was founded in 1883 as the Canada Railway News Company, specializing in the sale of newspapers, magazines and sweet treats at rail hubs. It later transitioned towards catering and eventually, turned its attention to restaurants.

Bell Canada alerts customers who may be affected by data breach

David Paddon, The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Jan 24th, 2018

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The RCMP has launched an investigation into a data breach at Bell Canada that appears to have compromised customer names and email addresses, but no credit card or banking information.

Bell Canada spokesman Nathan Gibson told The Canadian Press that “fewer than 100,00 customers were affected.”

RCMP spokeswoman Stephanie Dumoulin, at the police force’s national division in Ottawa, and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner said they couldn’t disclose details.

“We are following up with Bell to obtain information regarding what took place and what they are doing to mitigate the situation, and to determine follow up actions,” said the federal privacy watchdog’s spokeswoman Tobi Cohen.

Bell Canada has alerted customers who were affected, and also informed them that additional security, authentication and identification requirements have been implemented.

“When discussing your account with our service representatives, you will be asked for this additional information to verify your identity,” its emailed notice to customers said.

Katy Anderson, a Calgary-based digital rights advocate with OpenMedia, said she’s glad Bell is implementing additional security checks.

“However, this is the second time the company has been hit by hackers in eight months,” Anderson said in a phone interview.

Bell Canada revealed in May that an anonymous hacker had obtained access to about 1.9 million active email addresses and about 1,700 customer names and active phone numbers.

Anderson said that the public should realize that centralized data is vulnerable, by its nature.

“When a breach like this happens, which we’re seeing more and more, it’s always a good reminder to change your passwords, update your security questions with things only you would know, and consider using a password manager,” Anderson said.

Bell’s latest data breach follows several other high-profile hacks, including at credit monitoring company Equifax and car-hailing service Uber, though those companies did not immediately disclose the breaches.

The federal government is in the process of reviewing changes to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act that would require companies to notify people in the event of a serious data breach.

But until those come into force, Alberta is the only province in Canada that has mandatory reporting requirements for private-sector companies.

 

Man dies after fall at Mississauga construction site

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Jan 24th, 2018

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The Ministry of Labour is investigating after a 59-year-old man fell to his death at a Mississauga construction site on Tuesday.

Peel police say it happened at a site on Lakeshore Road West, just west of Johnsons Lane.

The man was declared dead at the scene.

No further details have been released.

 

Metrolinx targeted by North Korean cyberattack

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Jan 24th, 2018

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North Korea has been linked to a cyberattack launched against Metrolinx, spokeswoman Anne Marie Aikins confirmed to CityNews on Tuesday.

At no time was any customer information compromised, she said.

The attackers used malware in their attempt to penetrate Metrolinx’s security.

The hack was channelled through Russia, Aikins said.

“At no time was any customer information or card information – nothing related to our customers – was ever compromised, so there was no breach of that information,” she said. “There was also no breach to our safety system so at no time was anybody at risk.”

North Korea has been implicated in recent hacks, including the WannaCry ransomware attack that infected hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide and crippled parts of Britain’s National Health Service in May.

U.S. Homeland security adviser Tom Bossert wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed last month that North Korea was “directly responsible” for the WannaCry ransomware attack and that Pyongyang would be held accountable for it.

Bossert said the U.S. administration’s finding of responsibility is based on evidence and confirmed by other governments and private companies, including the U.K. and Microsoft.

American officials have also said that North Korea is responsible for the Sony cyberattack in 2014 that dumped personal information of tens of thousands of current and former workers online.

North Korea has denied involvement in both cases.

With files from The Associated Press

Fire breaks out at Danforth area home

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Jan 24th, 2018

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No injuries have been reported after a house fire near Danforth and Coxwell avenues.

The fire broke out at a home on Hanson Street just after 3 a.m. on Wednesday.

One person was at home at the time of the fire but escaped without harm.

There has been no word on what caused the fire.

Ryerson University to teach Toronto cops about diversity, avoiding bias

The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Jan 23rd, 2018

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A university in Toronto will teach members of the city’s police service about diversity and how to avoid bias, the force announced Monday, saying the initiative was part of its efforts to modernize.

Toronto police said Ryerson University has designed a new course specifically for its officers, and members of the force will also be able to enrol in existing courses at the school.

The force said the new course on diversity and “bias avoidance” is not mandatory.

“As a service, we are driving towards furthering our professionalism and active accountability,” police Chief Mark Saunders said in a statement, noting that Ryerson would help “create new and relevant learning opportunities for the members of Toronto Police Service.”

The work with Ryerson comes after Ontario’s Human Rights Commission announced in late November that it was conducting a wide-ranging inquiry into Toronto police practices to see to what extent the force’s actions involved profiling and discrimination against the black community in a number of areas including stops, questioning and use of force.

The commission said the inquiry was prompted by decades of complaints about racial profiling and discrimination by city police officers.

At the time, Toronto police said the service welcomed the inquiry and viewed it as a chance to improve community relations.

The partnership with Ryerson will “augment,” not replace, the existing Toronto Police College, police said Monday.

“The Ryerson Partnership doesn’t have the capacity to enrol all members of the Toronto Police Service, but the courses offered allow registered members to explore concepts in greater depths,” said spokeswoman Sandra Buckler.

For the courses offered through the partnership, Buckler said nearly all slots were filled as soon as police service members were informed.

The Toronto Police Service provides “annual, mandatory training to all our uniform members that includes diversity and bias avoidance,” she said, adding that every course at the Toronto Police College has a component of diversity.

Police said the connection to Ryerson will ensure that existing police courses meet the standards of the “broader community” and facilitate research opportunities for both the university and the police service.

Officers will also be able to earn credits toward university certificates, diplomas and degrees through the program, which will be offered through Ryerson’s G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education.

“Our innovative programming, leading research, and use of cutting-edge technology will help support the modernization of police education and training,” Chang School Dean Marie Bountrogianni said.

Rodney Diverlus of Black Lives Matter said there is some skepticism surrounding the course in the black community.

“We’re way past the point of needing courses,” Diverlus said Monday evening. “We actually need to see some concrete changes, some concrete practical changes to the way that policing is being done in Toronto.”

Middle finger or thumbs up? Conflicting views on King Street pilot project

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Jan 23rd, 2018

Opposing social media campaigns over the King Street pilot project are ramping up about whether the controversial initiative should continue, and where patrons should spend their money.

 

Al Carbone, owner of the Kit Kat Italian Bar and Grill, held a news conference Monday morning across the street from his restaurant, calling on Mayor John Tory to end the pilot immediately.

“We’d like the mayor to reverse it immediately,” Carbone said. “It’s hurting too many businesses all at once.”

Carbone says some businesses along the busy stretch of King Street between Jarvis and Bathurst have experienced as much as 50 per cent declines since the pilot came into effect in mid-November.

His latest campaign, #EndKingCarBan, comes after his own controversial ice sculpture initiative, which saw large ice sculptures in the shape of a raised middle finger erected outside of businesses along King Street.

 

The icy cold finger raised the ire of some of the more than 70,000 transit users who use the King streetcar daily, many of whom saw it is a slight against them.

“You’ve been giving the middle finger to everyone passing by your restaurants,” said Trevor Dunseith, who heckled Carbone at the end of the press conference.

 

“I’m just angry,” he told reporters afterwards. “Angry every time I pass by this place and see the finger, I feel like they’re giving it directly to me.”

Other commuters used the ice sculpture campaign to create their own counter movement, #KingEatsPilot, where they encourage commuters to eat at locations in support of the pilot project, or transit users in general.

“We’re here to give a thumbs up to the King Street pilot, in response to another finger we’re seeing down the street,” said Norman Dipasquale.

 

The city launched the King Street Pilot project back in November — giving streetcars priority between Jarvis and Bathurst. Early city data shows it has sped up commutes by an average of 2.6 minutes.

Marketing expert Marc Gordon says any time a restaurant gets political, there’s the potential to leave a bad taste in the mouths of patrons.

“Any time businesses get political, they risk alienating their customers,” Gordon said. “Rule number one is customers hate conflict.”

The King Street pilot project is slated to run until November 2018.

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