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An antisemitic letter sent to a Toronto synagogue, Dec. 19, 2017. Image Credit: B'nai Brith Canada

2 more Canadian synagogues receive hate mail, bringing total to 12

CityNews | posted Thursday, Dec 21st, 2017

Two more synagogues reportedly received hate mail Wednesday, this time in Ottawa and Calgary, bringing the total number of synagogues receiving anti-Semitic letters to at least 12 across Canada, including four in Toronto.

Police in Calgary say they have a lead in the investigation as they believe the letter sent to the Calgary Jewish Federation was mailed from within southern Alberta because it was sorted at a Calgary distribution centre. Calgary’s hate crime unit is investigating in partnership with other police forces. Synagogues in Montreal, Kingston, Toronto, Hamilton, and Edmonton all received the same letter this week.

According to B’nai Brith Canada, Adath Israel Congregation and three other Toronto synagogues were sent a letter with the phrase “Jewry Must Perish” written around an image of a swastika inside a bleeding Star of David.

B’nai Brith Canada says Toronto police have launched an investigation as well.

Prime minister, other dignitaries set to attend Shermans’ memorial

CityNews | posted Thursday, Dec 21st, 2017

Barry and Honey Sherman are shown in a handout photo from the United Jewish Appeal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Handout/United Jewish Appeal

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be among thousands attending a memorial service Thursday for a billionaire philanthropist couple found dead in their Toronto home.

Police have released few details of the investigation into the deaths of Barry Sherman, 75, and his 70-year-old wife Honey last week.

They say autopsy results showed the couple died from ligature neck compression.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Toronto Mayor John Tory also are planning to attend the tribute to the Shermans at a Mississauga trade and convention centre.

Barry Sherman was the founder of pharmaceutical giant Apotex.

He started the company in 1974 and grew it into the largest Canadian-owned drug company.

Car rams into pedestrians in Melbourne; up to 19 injured

CityNews | posted Thursday, Dec 21st, 2017

A white SUV (C) sits in the middle of the road as police and emergency personnel work at the scene of where a car ran over pedestrians in Flinders Street in Melbourne on December 21, 2017.
The car ploughed into a crowd in Australia's second-largest city on December 21, injuring at least a dozen people, some of them seriously, officials said. / AFP PHOTO / Mal Fairclough        (Photo credit should read MAL FAIRCLOUGH/AFP/Getty Images)

Two men were arrested in Australia after the SUV in which they were travelling rammed into pedestrians on a busy central Melbourne street Thursday, leaving 14 people injured in what police believe was a deliberate act.

Victoria state police said the driver of the vehicle and a second man were in custody after the incident, which occurred on Flinders Street in the city’s central business district just after 4:45 p.m. when the area was busy with Christmas shoppers.

Commander Russell Barrett told media that while the motive of the incident was not immediately clear, “at this stage we believe it was a deliberate act.”

Asked if police had ruled out terrorism as motivation, Barrett said only: “At this stage it’s early days in the investigation and the motivation is unknown.”

Barrett confirmed 14 people had been injured in the attack. Several were taken to hospitals, and two were in critical condition, including a pre-school aged boy with head injuries. Earlier media reports said up to 19 people had been injured.

Witnesses described horrific scenes from the incident, which started when the SUV ran a red light outside Flinders Street train station and sped up to hit pedestrians, striking more than a dozen people before crashing into a traffic barrier by a cable car stop.

“I was crossing Flinders Street on the way to the train station. I heard an engine rev behind me and heard a thump,” one man identified only as David said on ABC TV. He said he turned around saw “people literally getting thrown into the air as it hit them.”

Witnesses said when the car crashed it was rushed by bystanders who started pulling the two men out before police arrived a few minutes later.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull sent a tweet calling the incident “shocking” and said his thoughts and prayers were with the victims and those treating them.

Police said officers have been deployed across the area and the site would be closed-off as a crime scene for some time.

“Police will continue to have a strong presence in the Melbourne CBD tonight,” Barrett said.

Woman struck and killed by car in Scarborough

CityNews | posted Thursday, Dec 21st, 2017

59-year-old woman was struck and killed by a car while crossing Passmore Ave. in Scarborough (Hugues Cormier / CityNews)
 A 59-year-old woman is dead after being struck by a car in Scarborough

Police say the woman was attempting to cross Passmore Avenue, west of Middlefield Road just after 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

Traffic services says the woman was pronounced dead at the scene.

The car involved in the fatal accident remained on the scene.

No word yet if any charges will be laid.

Thursday expected to be busiest for pre-holiday travel at Pearson: GTAA

CityNews | posted Thursday, Dec 21st, 2017

Travellers at Pearson International Airport on Dec. 12, 2017. CITYNEWS/Bertram Dandy

The Greater Toronto Airports Authority says Thursday is expected to be the busiest day for pre-holiday travel at Pearson International Airport.

The GTAA says more than 130,000 passengers are expected to go through the airport Thursday.

It also predicts nearly 2.7 million passengers will travel through the airport between Dec. 17 and Jan. 7.

The GTAA says holiday travellers can make their trip easier by reserving a parking spot, packing light and leaving holiday gifts unwrapped in carry-on luggage.

The GTAA says more than 44 million passengers travelled through Toronto Pearson in 2016, making it the second-busiest international airport in North America.

Quebec woman among 12 killed in bus crash in Mexico

CityNews | posted Thursday, Dec 21st, 2017

The Canadian who was among 12 people killed in a bus crash in Mexico has been identified as Stephanie Horwood of Gatineau, Que. (Facebook)

A bus crash in eastern Mexico that claimed the lives of 12 people, including a Canadian woman, has left families in two provinces in a state of shock.

The woman was identified by her family as Stephanie Horwood of Gatineau, Que.

Carole Pommet Reinthaler told The Canadian Press on Wednesday that her daughter-in-law was in Mexico with her husband and their two daughters aged nine and 11.

All three were injured.

Pommet Reinthaler said she was devastated when her son called to break the news of the tragedy.

“I still don’t believe she is dead,” she said. “It’s difficult to accept, but we have to no choice but to live with a pain like that.”

Pommet Reinthaler said her son will return to Ottawa with his two girls Thursday evening, but Horwood’s body will be transported to her family in Newfoundland-Labrador.

“Her father wants to see his daughter for a last time,” Pommet Reinthaler added.

She said there would be two funeral ceremonies: one in Horwood’s native St. John’s, N.L., and the other in Gatineau.

Horwood would have turned 42 next week on Dec. 27.

“For us to have something like that happen, it’s almost incredible . . . that she died so young and in another country where she was going to have so much fun with her family,” Pommet Reinthaler said.

She said the tragedy has been very hard on her son.

“He’s all in pieces, he’s left alone with his two daughters, no mother any more … he just wants to come home,” Pommet Reinthaler said.

lobal Affairs Canada confirmed that one Canadian was killed and three others were among the 20 injured in the incident.

The accident occurred when the bus carrying cruise ship passengers flipped over on a narrow highway in the state of Quintana Roo on Tuesday, Global Affairs said. The bus was headed toward Mayan ruins when the crash occurred.

“Consular officials in Ottawa and in Playa del Carmen, Mexico are in contact with affected Canadian citizens as well as family members and are providing consular assistance as required,” spokesman Philip Hannan said. “Due to privacy considerations, further details cannot be disclosed at this time.”

Mexican officials said eight Americans, two Swedes, and one Mexican were the others killed in the crash.

The injured bus driver was taken into custody, the state government said.

Miami-based Royal Caribbean Cruises confirmed that 27 passengers from two of its cruise ships were on the bus at the time of the crash.

“Our hearts go out to all those involved in the bus accident,” company spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez said in a statement. “We are doing all we can to care for our guests, including assisting with medical care and transportation.”

Some of the passengers injured in the crash were taken to local hospitals, while others were transported to the United States for treatment, Martinez said.

Video images from the scene show the bus on its side in vegetation off the two-lane highway. Some survivors could be seen lying on the pavement while others were able to walk.

Quintana Roo state authorities said 13 people remained in hospital.

Chris Brawley, of Haslet, Texas, was on one of the two cruise ships that had passengers on the crashed bus and was taking a different bus to the ruins. He said his bus passed by just minutes after the accident and he observed skid marks on the dry pavement.

Brawley said the ship he was sailing on, the Serenade of the Seas, sailed out of Mahahual Tuesday around 5:30 p.m., a couple hours after its scheduled departure. It was docked Wednesday up the coast in Cozumel.

“Captain informed us this morning one of our passengers passed overnight,” Brawley said.

The cause of the crash was under investigation.

With files from The Associated Press

Winter arrives Thursday, and right on cue, snow to follow

CityNews | posted Thursday, Dec 21st, 2017

A person makes their way to a streetcar as snow flies through the air during a squall in downtown Toronto, on Thursday, December 15, 2016. A major storm is expected to hit beginning Monday night. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy

Winter officially arrives Thursday and it is coming in like a lion.

A special weather statement is in effect for Toronto and the GTA, ahead of a potentially dicey drive home and an even worse Friday morning commute for the last day of work before the holidays.

Environment Canada said up to 15 centimetres of snow is possible for the GTA by Friday.

According to the weather agency, the snow will start Thursday afternoon. Around 5-10 centimetres is expected to be on the ground by Friday morning. Another five centimetres of snow is possible later in the day.

There is also a risk of freezing drizzle throughout the day.

Why is Santa ignoring Justin Trudeau’s texts?

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Dec 20th, 2017

Screengrab from government YouTube video.

His progressive policies and poster boy good looks may have connected with voters, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wasn’t so lucky when he tried to connect with Santa Claus via text message recently.

No, the PM isn’t on the naughty list and there’s nothing wrong with cellphone reception in Ottawa. Santa has simply received a more important message loud and clear: There’s no room for distracted driving, whether you’re behind the wheel of a sedan, an SUV, or a sleigh.

Trudeau’s playful and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to receive a response from Santa is the theme of new video released by Transport Canada that reminds Canadians to keep their eyes on the road this holiday season.

In the video, Trudeau is attempting to text Santa, but he’s getting a shoulder that’s colder than the North Pole. Dismayed, and unaccustomed to rejection, Trudeau contacts Minister of Transport, Marc Garneau, seeking an explanation.

“Hey Marc listen, where is Santa?” the peeved PM asks. “He usually responds to my text messages and I’m not hearing from him. Is everything under control?”

Garneau assures Trudeau that he hasn’t been ghosted by the jolly old elf.

“Mr. Prime Minister you have absolutely nothing to worry about,” Garneau responds. “We are closely watching Santa and he’s well on his way. I’ve reminded Santa to put down his cellphone so he’s not tempted to talk or text. I don’t want Santa to get distracted while he’s driving his sleigh.”

With the PM’s bruised ego finally comforted, Garneau reminds Canadians to mimic Santa’s steely focus.

“As you travel to see your family and friends keep your eyes on the road and avoid being distracted. It doesn’t matter whether you’re on a highway or stopped at a red light. When you’re not focused on the road things can happen very fast. Stay safe and happy holidays.”

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