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Police to crack down on those who don’t buckle up

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Sep 30th, 2015

Toronto police, along with officers across Ontario, are sending out a very simple message: that you are more likely to survive a major crash if you’re buckled up.

The annual fall seatbelt campaign starts Wednesday and runs until Oct. 9.

The focus of this year’s campaign will be on passengers in the back seat, car seats and children in booster seats.

“Do the back-seat buckle. Back-seat passengers, always wear your seat belt,” police said in a release. And that booster seats fill “the gap between a child car seat and a seat belt.”

Recent inspection clinics have shown that over 80 per cent of car seats carrying children are not used properly or installed correctly.

Police say wearing your seatbelt is the single most effective way to reduce vehicle-related injuries and fatalities.

The law stipulates that everyone riding in a vehicle must wear a seatbelt.

Police estimate that five lives are saved in Ontario each year for every one per cent increase in seatbelt use.

With files from Kevin Misener

She’s having a baby! Toronto Zoo panda is pregnant

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Sep 30th, 2015

Break out the champagne! A panda at the Toronto Zoo is pregnant.

Two heartbeats can be seen on Er Shun’s ultrasound, the Zoo said on Wednesday.

It is the first time in Canada a giant panda has been artificially inseminated, Zoo officials said earlier this year.

The first fetal heartbeat was seen on Friday. The second heartbeat was seen in an ultrasound on Tuesday.

“While this is a positive sign, the following three to four weeks are very critical,” the Zoo said in a statement, adding they were “cautiously hopeful.”

It was the second time the zoo had tried artificial insemination.A 2014 attempt was unsuccessful.

Pandas only have one chance per year when they can breed – a window lasting one to three days – and the zoo has been keeping an eye on Er Shun to see when her next cycle would begin.

Zoo staff tried again in April and it appears it was successful.

Dr. Gabby Mastromonaco, curator of reproductive programs and research at the Toronto Zoo, said they resorted to the procedure for six-year-old Er Shun because her partner, five-year-old Da Mao, didn’t show any interest when she went into heat.

The two much-celebrated, and furry, Chinese ambassadors arrived in Toronto last spring.

The buildup to their arrival, via a FedEx plane, began in February of last year, when Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in China for a three-day tour.

After more than a decade of negotiations with zoo officials, the Chinese agreed to loan Canada the pandas for 10 years – splitting the visit equally between Toronto and Calgary, unless the pair manages to breed.

The pandas will be at the Toronto Zoo until 2018, when they’ll move to the Calgary Zoo for another five years.

This or that? Figure out where you stand in this election

Maclean's | posted Tuesday, Sep 29th, 2015

A federal vote is around the corner. It’s decision time, Canada, and you’ll soon ask yourself: How will I vote? That’s a tough question, and there’s so much to consider. That’s why we’ve built our Policy Face-off Machine, which introduces you to some of the campaign’s biggest and most contentious issues.

What is a Policy Face-off Machine?

It’s an entertaining and educational tool, and a jumping-off point for your own conversations about the ideas that will decide the coming federal vote. The tool doesn’t offer any opinion about the merits of each idea and won’t offer advice about which political party deserves your support.

How does it work?

The Policy Face-off Machine pits two policies against each other at random, and you’re asked to choose which you prefer. The parties pitching the policies are not identified when you make your pick, but every party has the same number of policies in the machine. Sometimes, you’ll be forced to choose between two policies offered by the same party. That’s okay. It’s all part of the fun. When you have no opinion about both policies in front of you, simply hit the “pass” button and we’ll randomly generate a new face-off. Pick at least 20 policies and we’ll present you with some analysis of your choices. But you don’t have to stop there. The more you pick, the more refined your policy profile.

Try our Policy Face-Off Machine today. Make the tough choices now, so your toughest choice of all—whom to vote for on election day—will be a little bit easier.

Click HERE to try it out.

Toronto city hall? More like city mall

Erin Criger | posted Tuesday, Sep 29th, 2015

Toronto’s former city hall could become a mall, according to a city staff report.

The city’s Government Management Committee is considering what to do with Old City Hall once the provincial and municipal courts move out. They’re scheduled to leave no later than Dec. 31, 2021.

After that, the historic Queen Street building just steps away from the Eaton Centre could be turned into a mall.

The city hired real estate brokerage firm Avison Young to analyze both the space and the market.

“The results of the analysis concluded that the highest and best use for Old City Hall would be conversion to a retail centre that contains a mix of food service, leisure, event and civic uses,” the report states.

Limited space could also be used for “management, smaller tenancies and perhaps city offices.”

File photo of Old City Hall. CITY OF TORONTO.
File photo of Old City Hall. CITY OF TORONTO

The city could charge $41 per square foot, plus maintenance costs, Avison Young said.

Some space, including the building’s courtyard, could be used for the City of Toronto Museum.However, Avison Young suggested that the city might make more money by leasing the courtyard space to a different tenant. Avison Young also suggested that artifacts from the museum could be “integrated” into the building as a whole.

The report goes before committee on Monday.

Old City Hall – actually Toronto’s third city hall – was completed in 1899 at a cost of $2.5 million, and was nearly demolished for the Eaton Centre. However, a group known as Friends of Old City Hall convinced the city to preserve the historic building.

Toronto’s fourth and current city hall opened at the Viljo Revell-designed building in 1965. After that, Old City Hall became a courthouse for the Ontario government.

What do you think of the proposal? What would you like to see at Old City Hall?

No photocopying or sweeping as Ontario school support staff step up job action

Erin Criger | posted Tuesday, Sep 29th, 2015

Ontario’s school support staff have begun phase two of their job after negotiations with the province failed to produce a deal.

As of Tuesday, 55,000 members of CUPE Education Workers are refusing to attend unpaid meetings and training.

That includes educational assistants, early child educators, custodians, librarians, secretaries, and IT staff.

Janitors will not clean the grounds or sweep the hallways. Educational assistants and early childhood educators were told “do not photocopy.” Instructors, meanwhile, are allowed to photocopy, but only on paid time.

Support staff have been without a contract for more than a year.

Meanwhile, members of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) union have also been without a contract since last year, and are also stepping up their job action.

Teachers held their first ‘Wynne Wednesday’ last week and that job action, including not working outside the classroom, is expected to continue. Teachers won’t participate in extracurricular activities. They will, however, picket, rally, and participate in letter-writing campaigns; and wear ETFO T-shirts, buttons, and hats.

Earlier this month, education minister Liz Sandals said talks broke down after ETFO rejected an offerthat was on par with the one that the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) agreed to.

The Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) has also reached an agreement, andratified their agreement with Queen’s Park.

Both OECTA and OSSTF received raises of 1.5 per cent plus another one-per-cent bonus.

The province has also reached an agreement with the Francophone teachers’ union.

Watch out for this Facebook status: It’s a hoax

Winston Sih | posted Tuesday, Sep 29th, 2015

Yet another Facebook hoax is making its rounds again.

The message, when posted, alleges to protect you against copyright.

“As of September 28th , 2015 at 10:50p.m. Eastern standard time, I do not give Facebook or any entities associated with Facebook permission to use my pictures, information, or posts, both past and future. By this statement, I give notice to Facebook it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, or take any other action against me based on this profile and/or its contents. The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of privacy can be punished by law (UCC 1-308- 1 1 308-103 and the Rome Statute). NOTE: Facebook is now a public entity. All members must post a note like this. If you prefer, you can copy and paste this version. If you do not publish a statement at least once it will be tactically allowing the use of your photos, as well as the information contained in the profile status updates.”

Another post purports to ensure Facebook posts stay private by paying a monthly subscription fee.

“Now it’s official! It has been published in the media. Facebook has just released the entry price: £5.99 ($9.10) to keep the subscription of your status to be set to “private.” If you paste this message on your page, it will be offered free (I said paste not share) if not tomorrow, all your posts can become public. Even the messages that have been deleted or the photos not allowed. After all, it does not cost anything for a simple copy and paste.”

Facebook addressed the posts by saying, “Anyone who uses Facebook owns and controls the content and information they post, as stated in our terms. They control how that content and information is shared. That is our policy, and it always has been.”

Canadian tenor Michael Burgess dead at age 70 after battle with cancer: friend

The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Sep 28th, 2015

A family friend says Canadian tenor Michael Burgess has died at age 70.

Bruce Bowser says Burgess died in a Toronto hospice on Monday evening surrounded by members of his family.

Burgess had been battling cancer for a number of years and was best known for his portrayal of Jean Valjean in the Toronto production of “Les Miserables.”

He also took the role across Canada on the first national tour of the production as well as appearing for the 10th anniversary concert at Royal Albert Hall in London.

Burgess was also known to hockey fans for singing the national anthem for many years at Toronto Maple Leafs home games and was the first person to sing “O Canada” at a World Series baseball game.

Bowser says a funeral for Burgess is planned for Oct. 5.

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