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Striking workers are seen picketing at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Friday July 29, 2017.There were widely differing accounts Sunday on how Canada's busiest airport coped with the strike of 700 ground workers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov

Strike ends at Toronto’s Pearson airport

CityNews | posted Monday, Oct 16th, 2017

Striking ground crews at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport have accepted a tentative contract.

Employees at Swissport voted 63 per cent in favour of the new agreement reached earlier this month and will return to work on Wednesday.

The Teamsters, which represents the workers, says the three-year deal contains minor improvements on wages, benefits and scheduling.

The 700 ramp equipment operators, baggage handlers, cabin cleaners, and other ground crew workers went on strike July 27.

The workers had complained about pay and benefits cuts, scheduling issues, and what their union called a lack of respect from Swissport managers.

The company services 30 airlines at the airport, including Air Transat, Sunwing Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Air France, KLM and Lufthansa. Air Canada and WestJet are not serviced by the company.

Man manages to escape after hydro pole falls on car in Vaughan

CityNews | posted Monday, Oct 16th, 2017

A hydro pole damaged by gusty winds on Sunday afternoon struck a car on Rutherford road, south of Islington Avenue. CITYNEWS/Stefano Gallucci

A man says he does not remember how he escaped from his car after a hydro pole collapsed and fell on it due to heavy winds in Vaughan on Sunday afternoon.

The man, identified only as AJ, told CityNews he was driving slowly down Rutherford Road due to heavy rain and wind. He could see trees swaying back and forth and then spotted the pole starting to fall south of Islington Avenue. He tried avoiding it, but it landed on his car and smashed through the windshield.Pole-on-car-Stefano-Gallucci-Islington-and-Rutherford-e1508101003849-878x494

AJ says he “blacked out” and does not remember getting out of the car or how he escaped with live hydro wires surrounding his vehicle. He took himself to hospital for treatment of minor injuries.

Several damaged trees and hydro poles were reported across Toronto and the GTA after gusty winds blew through the city on Sunday afternoon. A wind warning previously issued by Environment Canada ended around 4:15 p.m.

Power restored to most customers after heavy winds hit Toronto on Sunday

CityNews | posted Monday, Oct 16th, 2017

A fallen tree on Browning Avenue following gusty winds in Toronto on Oct. 14, 2017. CITYNEWS/Adam Stiles

Power has been restored to the almost 25,000 customers left in the dark after a walloping wind storm blew through the city on Sunday.

Toronto Hydro said crews are still working to return power to about 650 customers. The power outages are spread out in small patches throughout the city.

Extra crews were brought in to help restore power overnight and will continue to work until power is restored to all customers.

The heavy winds knocked down trees and power lines across the city and prompted Environment Canada to issue a wind warning for most of Sunday afternoon.

 

Environment Canada predicted wind gusts of 70 to 80 — and even 90 — kilometres per hour in parts of northern and southwestern Ontario.

Very blustery winds moved through the city and the GTA during the afternoon hours, picking up speed around 3:30 p.m. The warning officially ended around 4:30 p.m.

CityNews viewers sent in photos and videos from their neighbourhoods as wind and rain began lashing Toronto on Sunday afternoon.

 

TTC again disappointed Bombardier will miss streetcar delivery target

CityNews | posted Friday, Oct 13th, 2017

New TTC streetcars in Toronto. CITYNEWS/Diana Pereira

Bombardier Transportation is reigniting disappointment in Toronto by notifying the city’s transit authority Thursday that it won’t meet this year’s target for delivering streetcars.

The Montreal-based company’s rail division says it informed the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) that because of supply chain issues it will deliver 65 vehicles by the end of the year, short of its original target of 70.

Bombardier says it has met every quarterly delivery commitment since launching its turnaround plan last year to get production back on track.

It expanded the production line in Thunder Bay, Ont., hired more employees, invested in developing its manufacturing sites and called upon the expertise of its global workforce.

“We own this challenge, and we fully intend to do everything necessary to mitigate the impacts,” said communications director Eric Prud`Homme.

Consequently, it will increase production by doing final assembly at two sites and adding additional suppliers.

TTC chairman Josh Colle and CEO Andy Byford called the delivery shortfall “extremely disappointing and frustrating.”

They said there should be 146 new streetcars in service, instead of just 45.

“This is completely unacceptable,” they said in a news release. “The TTC is having to continue to use buses on streetcar routes to meet ridership demand.”

The transit agency launched a $50-million lawsuit against Bombardier in 2015 for its ongoing inability to meet delivery targets. It also issued a request for information last month from potential suppliers who can deliver 100 streetcars that are part of the options in the Bombardier contract.

Bombardier maintains that it remains on track to deliver the entire order of 204 streetcars by the original contract deadline of 2019.

There is still fun to be had the weekend after Thanksgiving

CityNews | posted Friday, Oct 13th, 2017

World Poutine Eating Championship at Yonge-Dundas Square. Photo credit: Facebook/Poutinerie

It is the weekend after Thanksgiving and you may still be cleaning up after having your family and friends over for festivities. If you are looking to take a break from housework, there are plenty of things to do around Toronto and beyond to keep you entertained.


World Poutine Eating Championship
This festival is all about fries covered in cheese curds and brown gravy– poutine! The dish originated in Quebec in the late 50s, and has since become a Canadian staple. Smoke’s Poutinerie 8th annual World Poutine Eating Championship is on this weekend. Described as the largest poutine eating competition and coming in as the second largest eating competition in the globe, officials are promising free poutine, interactive games and live entertainment. There are three competitive categories for participants, which include: amateur, charity challenge and professional. The event takes place Saturday at Yonge-Dundas Square.

Elvis impersonators
If Elvis Presley were alive today, what would he think of his impersonators? I’m sure he would be “all shook up.” Elvis tribute artists will be competing at Flaming Star Festival, which is being held at the Crowne Plaza Toronto Airport from Friday to Sunday. The first and second rounds of competition take place on Friday and Saturday, along with open mic sessions. Previous champions will perform in a ‘showcase of champions’ on Saturday. The finals, including a gospel competition, are on Sunday afternoon. The event is poised to be “a hunk, a hunk of burning love.”

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Zombie Walk
Halloween is less than three weeks away, but the zombies cannot wait. Their time to walk among the living is now. Zombies will swarm the streets of Kitchener on Saturday afternoon, and you can join them. All you have to do dress up like one. Zombies who are 16 years old or younger need to have written consent from their parents to attend the walk, while teens aged 15 or younger need to be accompanied by a parent of guardian. There is no cost to attend the Zombie Walk, but walkers are asked to bring a non-perishable food item.

Free movies
If you love movies and free things, then this is for you. Cineplex is showing a selection of movies from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturday, and you can watch them for free. Some of the movies include “Trolls” and “Ice Age: Collision Course.” Movie-goers can munch on popcorn, select candy and soft drinks for $2.50. You can also purchase motivational bracelets for $2. Doors open at 9 a.m. and the movies start at 9:30 a.m. Tickets are available on a first-come first-serve basis. Money raised from the community day event will go to WE Charity.

2XU Toronto Women’s 8k/5k
An autumn race to keep you in top shape throughout the fall months. This weekend women will be lacing up for the 2XU Toronto Women’s 8K/5K – being put on by GoodLife Fitness for Women. Organizers say this race is also a good way to celebrate another great season of running. Family and friends of runners are being encouraged to come out and support them on race day. Toronto Firefighters will be on hand at the water stations, and there will even be a post-run party with chocolate and fun activities planned. The women’s run is on Saturday at Sunnybrook Park, located at 1132 Leslie St. Runners can pick up their race kits, starting at 7:45 a.m. The 8k run begins at 9 a.m., while the the 5k is at 9:15 a.m.

Hot Docs Podcast Festival
The second annual Hot Docs Podcast Festival returns this weekend. People will get the opportunity to see their favourite podcast hosts brings parts of their audio shows to life on stage. Hosts will also be chatting about their craft, and fans who attend will have the opportunity to network with some of them. The festival began on Thursday and runs until Sunday at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema at Bloor and Bathurst streets.

 

Leaders of Canada, Mexico say they’re not walking away from NAFTA

CityNews | posted Friday, Oct 13th, 2017

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto shakes hands during a meeting at the Palacio Nacional in Mexico City on Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

The leaders of Canada and Mexico joined forces Thursday to combat the idea that an aggressive U.S. demand during the NAFTA negotiations could tank the deal.

The latest potential poison pill came in the form of a U.S. proposal for a sunset clause, that would see any new North American Free Trade Agreement terminated after just five years.

The current deal has been in place for over two decades.

But both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said the proposal remains just that, an idea, and it will be discussed just like everything else on the table.

“We will continue to take very seriously the work we do and we will not be walking away from the table based on proposals put forward,” Trudeau said at a joint news conference with Pena Nieto in Mexico City’s stately National Palace.

“We will discuss those proposals, we will counter those proposals and we will take seriously these negotiations.”

Trudeau and Pena Nieto talked with their aides and then their foreign affairs and trade teams for close to two hours Thursday afternoon, and while the two sides were discussing a range of issues, the ongoing talks to rework NAFTA were top of mind.

Pena Nieto suggested that while observers have made predictions that certain proposals could tank the talks, that’s only speculation.

“I would not pay much attention to any statements other than that which happens (at) the negotiation tables,” he said, according to an English translation of his remarks.

Pena Nieto indicated he was paying attention to a suggestion from U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday that should NAFTA talks fail, bilateral deals could be negotiated instead.

Trudeau didn’t rule out the notion, and Pena Nieto said he did discuss it with the prime minister during their talks.

But he said he also heard Trump say that the three countries could find a creative way to negotiate a new trilateral pact.

“I think that Canada and Mexico share the idea that the NAFTA agreement is a good mechanism, it’s not the only one but it’s a good mechanism to potentialize the development of the North American region and to turn it into the most competitive one.”

Efforts by Canada and Mexico to deepen their own bilateral connections, however, were on full display Thursday.

In the room during the news conference were dozens of Mexican firefighters who assisted in combating wildfires in B.C., while prior to their meeting, Pena Nieto took Trudeau past a photo display of Canadian relief efforts in the wake of devastating earthquakes in Mexico last month.

Trudeau had stopped by a Red Cross aid distribution centre earlier Thursday as part of his government’s approach of engaging in more public diplomacy events to encourage foreign relations.

But the formal side is equally important. Trudeau will address the Mexican Senate on Friday, one of only a handful of foreign leaders to have ever done so.

Toronto doctor facing sex-related charges involving teen girl

CityNews | posted Friday, Oct 13th, 2017

ernest-chiu-10122017

A 32-year-old Toronto doctor is facing several sex-related charges in connection with a human trafficking investigation.

Police say the man answered an ad on Backpage.com for an escort in December 2016.

It’s alleged he met with a 15-year-old girl at several different hotels in Toronto and had unprotected sex with her. After each encounter, he gave her birth control prescriptions and would inject her with the medication.

It’s also alleged that the man had unprotected sex with the teen in his office at Toronto General Hospital. Again, he prescribed and administered birth control medication.

Ernest Chiu has been arrested and charged with Sexual Interference, Invitation to Sexual Touching, Obtaining Sexual Services from a person under 18 and Sexual Assault.

Police say he was a doctor of Nephrology and aside from Toronto General Hospital he has also worked at St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto Western Hospital, Princess Margaret Hospital and Toronto Rehab and Sinai Health System.

According to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, Chiu is no longer certified to practice in the province as of a few months ago.

Boy Scouts to admit girls into Cub Scouts, Eagle Scouts ranks

CityNews | posted Thursday, Oct 12th, 2017

FILE- In this June 25, 2016, file photo, Cub Scouts watch a race during the Second Annual World Championship Pinewood Derby in New York's Times Square.  The Boy Scouts of America announced Monday, June 25, 2016, that it will allow transgender children who identify as boys to enroll in its boys only programs. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

In its latest momentous policy shift, the Boy Scouts of America will admit girls into the Cub Scouts starting next year and establish a new program for older girls based on the Boy Scout curriculum that enables them to aspire to the coveted Eagle Scout rank.

Founded in 1910 and long considered a bastion of tradition, the Boy Scouts have undergone major changes in the past five years, agreeing to accept openly gay youth members and adult volunteers, as well as transgender boys.

The expansion of girls’ participation, announced Wednesday after unanimous approval by the organization’s board of directors, is arguably the biggest change yet, potentially opening the way for hundreds of thousands of girls to join.

The Girl Scouts of the USA, which had sought unsuccessfully to dissuade the Boys Scouts from making this move, said they remained committed to their single-gender mission.

“Girl Scouts is, and will remain, the scouting program that truly benefits U.S. girls by providing a safe space for them to learn and lead,” the Girl Scouts said in a statement.

Many scouting organizations in other countries already allow both genders and use gender-free names such as Scouts Canada. But for now, the Boy Scout label will remain.

“There are no plans to change our name at this time,” spokeswoman Effie Delimarkos said in an email.

Under the new plan, Cub Scout dens – the smallest unit – will be single-gender, either all-boys or all-girls. The larger Cub Scout packs will have the option to remain single gender or welcome both genders. The program for older girls is expected to start in 2019 and will enable girls to earn the same Eagle Scout rank that has been attained by astronauts, admirals, senators and other luminaries.

Boy Scout leaders said the change was needed to provide more options for parents.

“The values of scouting – trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, brave and reverent, for example – are important for both young men and women,” said Michael Surbaugh, chief scout executive.

The announcement follows many months of outreach by the BSA, which distributed videos and held meetings to discuss possibility expanding girls’ participation beyond existing programs, such as Venturing, Exploring and Sea Scouts.

Surveys conducted by the Boy Scouts showed strong support for the change among parents not currently connected to the scouts, including Hispanic and Asian families that the BSA has been trying to attract. Among families already in the scouting community, the biggest worry, according to Surbaugh, was that the positive aspects of single-sex comradeship might be jeopardized.

“We’ll make sure those environments are protected,” he said. “What we’re presenting is a fairly unique hybrid model.”

During the outreach, some parents expressed concern about possible problems related to overnight camping trips. Surbaugh said there would continue to be a ban on mixed-gender overnight outings for scouts ages 11 to 14. Cub Scout camping trips, he noted, were usually family affairs with less need for rigid polices.

The Girl Scouts of the USA have criticized the initiative, saying it strains the century-old bond between the two organizations. Girl Scout officials have suggested the BSA’s move was driven partly by a need to boost revenue, and they contended there is fiscal stress in part because of past settlements paid by the BSA in sex-abuse cases.

In August, the president of the Girl Scouts, Kathy Hopinkah Hannan, accused the Boy Scouts of seeking to covertly recruit girls into their programs while disparaging the Girl Scouts’ operations. On Monday, Latino civic leader Charles Garcia, just days after being named to the Girl Scouts’ national board, wrote an opinion piece for the Huffington Post calling the BSA’s overture to girls “a terrible idea.”

“The Boy Scouts’ house is on fire,” Garcia wrote. “Instead of addressing systemic issues of continuing sexual assault, financial mismanagement and deficient programming, BSA’s senior management wants to add an accelerant to the house fire by recruiting girls.”

Instead of recruiting girls, Garcia said the BSA should focus on attracting more black, Latino and Asian boys – particularly those from low-income households.

The BSA recently increased its annual membership fee for youth members and adult volunteers from $24 to $33, but Surbaugh said the decision to expand programming for girls was not driven by financial factors. He expressed enthusiasm at the possibility that the changes could draw hundreds of thousands more girls into BSA ranks over the coming years.

The Girl Scouts, founded in 1912, and the BSA are among several major youth organizations in the U.S. experiencing sharp drops in membership in recent years. Reasons include competition from sports leagues, a perception by some families that they are old-fashioned and busy family schedules.

As of March, the Girl Scouts reported more than 1.5 million youth members and 749,000 adult members, down from just over 2 million youth members and about 800,000 adult members in 2014. The Boy Scouts say current youth participation is about 2.35 million, down from 2.6 million in 2013 and more than 4 million in peak years of the past.

Earlier this year, the National Organization for Women urged the Boy Scouts to allow girls to join. NOW said it was inspired by the efforts of a 15-year-old New York City girl, Sydney Ireland, to emulate her older brother, who is an Eagle Scout.

Unlike the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts have maintained girls-only status for all their programs. The empowerment of girls is at the core of its mission.

“We know that girls learn best in an all-girl, girl-led environment,” said Andrea Bastiani Archibald, a psychologist who provides expertise on development for the Girl Scouts’ national programming.

The Boy Scouts’ new policy on girls was hailed by Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout who played an active role in pressuring the BSA to end its ban on gays. However, he urged the Boy Scouts to take one more step and end its exclusion of atheists and non-believers who do not profess a “duty to God.”

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