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Police carding will end by winter: province

CityNews | posted Friday, Oct 23rd, 2015

The controversial practice of carding will end by winter, the province said Thursday.

The issue came up during a debate at Queen’s Park, sparked by a private member’s bill from NDP MPP Jagmeet Singh.

Random and arbitrary stops will be illegal by the end of the fall, said Liberal MPP Yasir Naqvi, minister of community safety and correctional service.

Outside the legislature, Naqvi confirmed his statements, the Toronto Star reported. Naqvi told the newspaper that the Liberal government will “absolutely” end the practice.

“It’s unacceptable and we will put an end to it,” he said.

Statistics show that carding, which involves police stopping individuals and collecting their personal information, disproportionality targets minorities, especially black men.

Over the summer, the provincial government said it won’t get rid of “street checks” – or “carding” as it is commonly known in Toronto – by police, but will be putting in place a standardized system for police across Ontario, in order to ensure fairness and public confidence.

At the time, Naqvi said the status quo is not acceptable and cannot continue.

“Whether a black woman in downtown Toronto, a brown-skinned man in Brampton, or a teenaged First Nations boy in Thunder Bay, wherever people in this province are being treated differently solely because of the colour of their skin, I want you to know that we have heard you,” he said.

The government then launched a series of public consultations on the issue.

Last month, Ontario’s then-ombudsman Andre Marin said carding was “wrong and illegal” and it violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Study says fewer teens texting while driving because of danger, fines

The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Oct 23rd, 2015

A new study suggests teenagers are texting less while driving, in large part because they think it’s dangerous and irresponsible.

The study’s lead author, Sean Tucker, an associate professor at the University of Regina, says the number of teens who said they sometimes or almost always texted while driving fell to six per cent in 2014 from 27 per cent in 2012.

The findings are based on surveys of 6,133 teens in 2012 and 4,450 teens in 2014, mostly in Ontario.

Tucker and co-author Simon Pek from Simon Fraser University also asked the teens why they stopped texting and driving.

“The top reason for a significant decrease in texting while driving was the perceived danger and irresponsibility of the activity and 27 per cent of the people said that,” said Tucker.

The teens also cited laws and fines against texting while driving and seeing close calls or accidents by other drivers.

Texting while driving usually falls under the law for distracted driving.

Ontario implemented stiffer fines for distracted driving in September. The new penalties include an increased set fine of $490 and three demerit points upon conviction. As well, drivers without a full licence will receive a 30-day suspension for the first conviction for distracted driving.

In Saskatchewan, legislation banning the use of hand-held cellphones while driving became law in 2010. The province toughened the rules last year so that drivers caught breaking the law for the second time within one year will have their vehicles seized for up to seven days.

Distracted driving was the No. 1 factor in all crashes in Saskatchewan in 2012 and 2013, even ahead of impaired driving.

“It became socially unacceptable to engage in drinking and driving, more and more so, and we may be seeing that over time with texting while driving, that it’s increasingly being shunned, although we still see it all too often,” said Tucker.

The findings are published in the November edition of the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention.

He suggests the findings could be used to target awareness campaigns to young people.

Tucker could not say if the findings are indicative of what’s happening across Canada, noting different jurisdictions have different laws for distracted driving.

“I think it’s a tough question when it comes to young people — do laws make a difference for young people — because some of the driving rules are different too, but it does seem to be effective. The enforcement side of it is pretty important,” he said.

The researchers also started another similar survey this week in Saskatchewan.

Elementary teachers withdraw from extracurriculars amid stalled bargaining

The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Oct 22nd, 2015

Elementary teachers in Ontario are withdrawing from all voluntary extracurricular activities as of Wednesday.

The union representing the teachers says it’s a way of putting pressure on the government and the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association to return to the bargaining table.

The government has reached deals with the other major teachers’ unions, but talks with the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario are stalled.

Education Minister Liz Sandals said Wednesday that the government has been available to bargain and ready to go back to the table.

But the elementary teachers say the government and the school board association have “ignored all attempts” by the union to get them to return to bargaining, including an offer to refer one issue to binding arbitration.

The teachers were already staging a work-to-rule campaign that included no parent-teacher meetings and no class trips, but had warned they would expand it further if there was no bargaining progress.

Justin Trudeau’s 2013 ‘Just watch me’ note up for auction on eBay

The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Oct 22nd, 2015

TORONTO – A 2013 note in which then-Liberal leadership contender Justin Trudeau predicted he would beat Prime Minister Stephen Harper is up for sale on eBay.

Michael Kydd was on Porter Airlines flight on March 20, 2013, and passed a note to Trudeau asking “Can you really beat Harper?”

Trudeau responded with a quote from his late father — former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau — “Just watch me.”

Trudeau, who was running for the Liberal leadership at the time, confirmed the note in a tweet on the same day saying, “Yup, it was me.”

Bidding on the note — which had attracted a top bid of $3,650 by early Thursday — ends Thursday afternoon.

Trudeau’s father replied “Well, just watch me!” on Oct. 13, 1970, when asked by a reporter how far he would go in limiting civil liberties to combat separatist terrorists during the October Crisis.

Three days later, Pierre Elliott Trudeau invoked the War Measures Act, giving police more power in response to the kidnapping of British diplomat James Cross and Quebec provincial cabinet minister Pierre Laporte by the FLQ.

Gunned-down soldier Cpl. Nathan Cirillo remembered at hilltop ceremony

CityNews | posted Thursday, Oct 22nd, 2015

Scores of people turned out under dark skies for a hilltop ceremony on Wednesday in honour of a soldier gunned down a year ago as he stood guard at the National War Memorial on Parliament Hill.

Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, 24, was shot fatally from behind by a lone gunman, who then raced into the House of Commons before he, too, was gunned down.

“It was cowardly, it was evil, and most of all, it was tragic,” Cirillo’s sister Nicole told the assembled crowd.

“When Nathan passed away, our family’s snowglobe was shaken and turned upside down, and now everything is falling in a new place. It is unrecognizable. There is sorrow and pain. All we want to do is go back to the world that we once knew.”

At the same time, Cirillo said, the tragedy had brought forward an outpouring of comfort and support for the family from all over the world.

Cirillo, a member of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders regiment, left a young son, Marcus Cirillo, who goofed around before the ceremony, as well as his mother, step-father and siblings who were in attendance.

The evening ceremony, in near darkness, included a marching on of the colours, a “monument of light,” and words from the regiment’s padre, Robert Fead.

“We gather to remember, ironically, because he lost his life at the very place where Canadians, particularly those of us who serve in the military, also gather to remember,” Fead said.

“May his life and death inspire all of us to work for greater peace in our nation and in our world.”

Cirillo was also being remembered for the love that he had for his family, for rescue dogs, his smile and his friendliness, Fead said.

The young corporal and his partner, Cpl. Branden Stevenson, were on ceremonial sentry duty at the war memorial when Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, 32, shot him in the back before storming into the Centre Block on Parliament Hill.

Days after the shooting, politicians, members of the military and friends and family packed a Hamilton church while thousands stood quietly in the streets and watched a the procession of an estimated 4,500 members of the armed forces and first responders marched through the city’s downtown.

Coming just 48 hours after Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, 53, was murdered in a hit-and-run by an Islamic-extremist in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., the assault on Canada’s Parliament sent shock waves through the country and prompted an outpouring of grief.

Lesya Dyk, whose son is in the military, said she remembers the shock after the killings.

“We felt such a sense of panic,” Dyk said after the Cirillo service on Wednesday. “The military supports their own.”

Following the ceremony at a waterside park, attended by some people with candles and others with the Maple Leaf, members of Cirillo’s regiment marched back to their local armoury for a final, private dispatch.

On Thursday morning at the War Memorial, Gov. Gen. David Johnston, outgoing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau will be part of a commemoration, along with members of Cirillo and Vincent’s families, soldiers from Cirillo’s reserve regiment, first responders and police.

There will also be a 21-gun salute and a flypast by four CF-18 fighter jets, similar to Remembrance Day ceremonies.

Jays force Game 6 in ALCS with 7-1 win over Royals

The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Oct 21st, 2015

Marco Estrada can count on striking it rich as a free agent in the off-season. Wherever he ends up, the Blue Jays will still owe him big-time.

For the second time in the post-season, the 32-year-old right-hander kept Toronto alive – this time with a gem of a pitching performance in a 7-1 win over Kansas City that forced a sixth game in their American League Championship Series.

Estrada was near flawless in limiting the Royals to one hit over seven innings and three over 7 2/3 innings.

“Everything he threw up there was right where he wanted it,” said Toronto manager John Gibbons.

“He had everything going,” he added. “He’s sticking that fastball, nice little curveball, and his overpowering changeup. He shut down a good-hitting, hot team.”

Estrada retired the first nine Kansas City batters he faced. A single in the fourth – promptly erased by a double play – and a two-out walk in the seventh were the only blemishes on his pitching line in the first seven innings as he retired 21 of 22.

He exited in the eighth to a standing ovation after giving up a two-out solo homer to Salvador Perez followed by a single to Alex Gordon.

Marco Estrada of the Toronto Blue Jays reacts as he is relieved in the eighth inning against the Kansas City Royals during game five of the American League Championship Series at Rogers Centre on Oct. 21, 2015. GETTY IMAGES/Harry How
Marco Estrada of the Toronto Blue Jays reacts as he is relieved in the eighth inning against the Kansas City Royals during game five of the American League Championship Series at Rogers Centre on Oct. 21, 2015. GETTY IMAGES/Harry How

“Today he was absolutely dynamite,” said Royals manager Ned Yost. “He didn’t miss spots. His changeup was fantastic. He just didn’t give us anything to hit.”

The Royals still hold an edge going home, leading the best-of-seven series 3-2. The teams go at it Friday in Kauffman Stadium, with Toronto’s David Price likely facing Yordano Ventura in a rematch of Game 2, won 6-3 by the Royals.

Game 7 is Saturday, if needed.

Troy Tulowitzki drove in three runs in a four-run Toronto sixth and Chris Colabello contributed a solo homer in the second before a loud crowd of 49,325 under the dome at the Rogers Centre.

“It’s been a while since I pitched here, and I forgot how great our fans were,” said Estrada. “It was pretty loud today. I had a lot of adrenalin going.”

Estrada, who came to Toronto last November in a trade that send Adam Lind to Milwaukee, has delivered unexpected dividends for the Jays.

His spring training interrupted by a rolled ankle and with the focus on prospect Daniel Norris, the prognosis seemed a possible role in the bullpen. Instead Estrada, who is making US$3.9 million this season as he heads to free agency, became a key member of the rotation.

In June, he took no-hitters into the eighth inning in back-to-back starts. And he led the majors after the all-star break by limiting opposition hitters to batting .183.

“He’s pitched like that all year,” said Gibbons.

Estrada is the first Toronto pitcher to throw seven consecutive shutout innings in a post-season game since Jimmy Key in Game 4 of the 1992 World Series

Still, with the Royals having the edge going home, Yost said his team is feeling good.

“We knew it was going to be a tough series. But after winning the first two games, in reality your goal is to come to Toronto – kind of a foreign environment, a hostile environment – and at least win one. Then you get to go home and win one there and the series is over.

“Now we’re going back to a place where we’re completely comfortable. That’s why home-field advantage was so important to us.”

Toronto, outscored 33-16 in the first four games and coming off a 14-2 humiliation in Game 4, needed a stopper and they got it once again in Estrada.

Estrada rescued the Jays with a victory in Game 3 of the ALDS in Texas, limiting the Rangers to one run in 6 1/3 innings in the first of Toronto’s must-win games this post-season.

Royals starter Edinson Volquez, who had a fine outing in Game 1 to beat Estrada, was almost as good Wednesday – retiring 15 of the first 18 batters he faced. But he unravelled in the sixth, walking three Jays and hitting another with a pitch while unable to get an out.

Volquez dug himself a similar hole in the sixth in Game 1, with back-to-back walks to Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista, who both worked nine-pitch at bats. But he struck out Edwin Encarnacion, induced Colabello to fly out after an eight-pitch at bat, before needing seven deliveries to strike out Tulowitzki in a 37-pitch inning.

This time the Jays, once again showing great plate discipline, got the better of him in the inning.

Ben Revere led off the Toronto half of the sixth with a seven-pitch walk. Volquez then hit Donaldson – as he did in an ill-tempered game back in August – on the elbow protector. With the crowd on its feet, Bautista then loaded the bases with a 10-pitch walk.

Volquez walked Encarnacion to bring in a run and prompt Yost to call for reliever Kelvin Herrera. Volquez threw 24 pitches in the inning.

Herrera struck out Colabello but Tulowitzki cleared the bases with a double for a 5-0 lead. The Jays added single runs in the seventh and eighth.

Aaron Sanchez came in for Estrada, who struck out five and walked one, to get the final out in the eighth. Toronto closer Roberto Osuna worked a 1-2-3 ninth.

Volquez gave up five runs on three hits with four walks and two strikeouts in an 88-pitch outing.

Tulowitzki, whose once cold bat has warmed up nicely, accounted for most of the offence by clearing the bases with a double in a four-run sixth.

The Jays shortstop, still feeling the effects of a late-season shoulder injury, came into the game hitting just .194 (7-for-36) but he has been a game-changer with the bat in three of Toronto’s post-season outings. And despite playing in pain, he has been a big contributor to the defence.

Tulowitzki set a club record for most RBIs in a single ALCS (seven). And his 11 RBIs are second only to Paul Molitor (13 in 1993) among Jays in a single post-season.

It was Toronto’s fourth elimination game of the playoffs and the Jays went into the game confident they could take the series back to Kansas City. The players’ suitcases were stacked neatly outside the clubhouse hours before first pitch, ready for transport to the airport.

“It’s a lot of pressure and there’s not a lot of room for mistakes,” Bautista said. “Hopefully … when we get to the World Series, we have to take that experience to our advantage in the World Series.”

The Royals opened the series with 5-0 and 6-3 home wins. Back in Toronto, the Jays rallied to win 11-8 before falling 14-2 in Game 4 at the Rogers Centre.

Great Scott! It’s time for ‘Back to the Future’ Day

Derrik J. Lang, The Associated Press | posted Wednesday, Oct 21st, 2015

The future is today – if Back to the Future is to be believed.

The celebration of the so-called “Back to the Future Day” on Wednesday marks the date – Oct. 21, 2015 – that the characters Marty McFly, Emmett “Doc” Brown and Jennifer Parker famously journeyed from 1985 to 2015 in the sci-fi film trilogy’s second installment in 1989.

Back to The Future Part II envisioned a colorful 2015 with flying cars, hoverboards and self-tying shoelaces. While those doodads are hardly prevalent today, the film did accurately tease the rise of such technology as flatscreen televisions, biometric scanning and hands-free gaming. It also predicted the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series – an actual possibility with the Cubs contenders in the real-world playoffs, although maybe not for long.

“Back to the Future Day” is being celebrated Wednesday with an appearance by the original cast at a Lincoln Center screening in New York, as well as several fan-centric events and more than 1,700 theatres hosting screenings across the country.

Back to the Future filmmaker Robert Zemeckis’ trilogy has left a lasting impression on pop culture in the 30 years since the original film debuted, spawning a theme park attraction, video game and animated series.

Beginning on Wednesday, the town of Reston, Va., is ceremoniously changing its name to Hill Valley, McFly’s fictional hometown. The Washington West Film Festival will feature a marathon screening of the trilogy Wednesday and a Sunday screening of the original film, with appearances by stars Christopher Lloyd and Claudia Wells, as well as screenwriter-producer Bob Gale.

“Back to the Future Day will be celebrated in Southern California during the four-day “We’re Going Back” fan event. The festivities will occur at locations featured in the film series, including a tour of the Hill Valley town square on the Universal Studios lot, an “Enchantment Under the Sea” dance at the Hollywood United Methodist Church and a screening in the parking lot of the Puente Hills Mall, where McFly famously blasted off in Doc Brown’s time-travelling DeLorean.

The “We’re Going Back” fan event will also host the premiere of “Back in Time,” a documentary about the franchises’ legacy featuring interviews with such notables as Michael J. Fox and Steven Spielberg. The documentary will also be released digitally Wednesday.

Other celebrations include a re-creation of Hill Valley on Thursday in Fillmore, Calif., where part of the franchise was filmed, and Million McFly March, a gathering of fans dressed as McFly that will begin at the Burbank, Calif., location of Burger King depicted in Back to the Future.

For those who don’t want to leave home, the trilogy is exclusively streaming on Amazon Prime, and Universal is releasing a special edition trilogy box set in light-up packaging resembling Doc Brown’s flux capacitor.

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