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Gord Martineau signs off after 39 years at CityNews

CityNews | posted Monday, Feb 29th, 2016

After nearly four decades as the face of CityNews, Gord Martineau has signed off as anchor of the six o’clock broadcast.

A leading figure in Canadian news broadcasting and a Toronto television icon, the veteran news anchor stepped down from the position after a record 39 years in the newsroom.

“Gord is one of the most beloved anchors in the country,” said Dave Budge, General Manager of CityNews Toronto. “Gord has been a trusted face invited into the homes of our viewers for the past four decades and a leader in the vision of City.”

CityNews will pay homage to Martineau’s landmark career this week during the evening and late night newscasts, reflecting on his most memorable moments, ground-breaking interviews, and heartfelt moments from the past four decades.

“We look forward to working with Gord on the Herbie Fund, an organization that is dear to all of us and enriches the lives of children around the world,” Budge said.

CityNews anchor Gord Martineau in 1979.
CityNews anchor Gord Martineau in 1979.

Martineau began his career with City back in 1977 as anchor of CityPulse. A Montreal native, Martineau easily adapted to the Toronto environment and became an important part of the community, bringing a new brand of newscast to Torontonians.

Throughout the years, he led coverage of the biggest local stories of our time, from Terry Fox’s heroic marathon run, to international affairs including Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan and the events surrounding former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.

During his time at City, Martineau has received many respected awards honouring his work.

Most recently, Martineau was part of the team awarded the 2014 Canadian Screen Award for “Best Local Newscast” for CityNews at 6. In 2012, he was recognized with a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal.

Martineau has also been awarded with a Gemini Award for “Canada’s Best News Anchor”, a Gemini Humanitarian Award, and a RTNDA Canada Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.

Welcome back to reality: Snowy winter storm to hit Tuesday afternoon

CityNews | posted Monday, Feb 29th, 2016

Maybe hold off on planting those annuals.

After a balmy weekend of record-high temperatures, Toronto is going to be getting a blast of reality Tuesday, as a major winter storm is expected to blow into the region, dropping up to 25 centimetres of snow in its wake, according to Environment Canada.

March truly is going to be coming in like a lion.

680 NEWS meteorologist Jill Taylor said snow arrives around 5 p.m. and will be heavy at times during the evening and overnight hours, with the potential for around 20-30 centimetres of snow by early Wednesday morning.

The overnight hours is when the greatest accumulation is expected to occur, making for a messy drive Wednesday.

CityNews meteorologist Natasha Ramsahai said this could be the biggest snowfall Toronto’s experienced in two years.

Environment Canada has issued a winter storm warning for Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Milton, Halton-Hills, Vaughan, Richmond Hill, Markham, Burlington, and Oakville.

“Strong northeasterly winds will also give blowing snow, especially in exposed areas and along the Lake Ontario shoreline due to gusts of 70 km/h,” the warning reads. “As the wind shifts early Wednesday morning to northerly the snow will end. Regions near Lake Erie may also experience several hours of freezing rain especially Tuesday night.”

The bad weather already struck north of Toronto on Monday, as CityNews weather specialist Frank Ferragine tweeted a vicious windstorm outside of his home in Bradford.

Blowing snow was reported in Stouffville, Aurora, Newmarket and Richmond Hill as well. After a powerful wind blew through downtown Toronto just after 5 p.m., light snow began falling in the city.

Chris Rock brings diversity issue front and centre at Oscars

Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press | posted Monday, Feb 29th, 2016

Oscar host Chris Rock didn’t merely acknowledge the elephant in the room. He brought it stage front and centre, where it seemed likely to stay all night.


From his very first words in a hotly anticipated monologue that deftly blended humour and gravity, Rock addressed the diversity issue rocking this year’s Oscars.

“I counted at least 15 black people in that montage!” he said of the opening film clips.

He went on to call the Oscars the “White People’s Choice Awards,” and noted that if they had nominated potential hosts, “I wouldn’t have this job. You’d all be watching Neil Patrick Harris right now.” He was referring, of course, to the fact that every acting nominee this year was white, a development that led to the OscarsSoWhite backlash.

In some of his lighter comments, Rock joked about the people who’d urged him to boycott the awards show.

“How come it’s only unemployed people that tell you to quit something?” he asked, and also cracked a few barbs at the expense of Jada Pinkett Smith and her husband Will Smith, who opted not to attend the show. Maybe it wasn’t fair that Smith hadn’t been nominated for “Concussion,” he said, but it also wasn’t fair that he earned $20 million for “Wild Wild West.”

In some of his edgier comments, Rock wondered why there hadn’t been protests back in the ’60s, when surely there were years with no black nominees. “Why? Because we had real things to protest,” he said. “We were too busy being raped and lynched to care about who won best cinematographer.”

And he quipped that this year’s in-memoriam package was “just going to be black people shot by the cops on the way to the movies.”

Turning more philosophical, he asked: “Is Hollywood racist? You’re damn right Hollywood is racist. But it’s not the racist you’ve grown accustomed to. Hollywood is sorority racist. It’s like, ‘We like you, Rhonda, but you’re not a Kappa.’” And he added: “We want opportunity. We want the black actors to get the same opportunities. Not just once. Leo (DiCaprio) gets a great part every year. All you guys get great parts all the time.”

The diversity issue wasn’t limited to Rock’s opening monologue. In one of several comic bits sprinkled through the first hour of the show, actress Angela Bassett offered a “Black History Month Minute” paying tribute to a “black” actor Jack Black.

And in a joke montage, gags were inserted into some of this year’s movies. In one, Rock himself was an astronaut left up on Mars, a la Matt Damon in “The Martian.” But this time, Jeff Daniels and Kristen Wiig at NASA debated bringing him back and decided not to, since it would cost 2,500 “white dollars.”

Hollywood diversity was an issue outside the Dolby Theatre as well. Before the telecast, Rev. Al Sharpton addressed a group of several dozen protesters nearby. He told the group he would organize larger protests if diversity complaints are not addressed.

“This will be the last night of an all-white Oscars,” Sharpton said.

All 20 actors nominated Sunday are white. Sharpton criticized the Oscars for failing to nominate films such as “Straight Outta Compton,” ”Creed“ or ”Concussion“ for any of its top honours.

Derrik J. Lang reporting from Los Angeles contributed to this story.

To see the complete list of 2016 Oscar Winners, click here.

‘Spotlight’ tops Oscars, spoiling ‘The Revenant’ but not DiCaprio

Jake Coyle, The Associated Press | posted Monday, Feb 29th, 2016

In an underdog win for a movie about an underdog profession, the newspaper drama ‘Spotlight’ took best picture at an Academy Awards driven by protest and outrage, and electrified by an unflinching Chris Rock.

Tom McCarthy’s film about the Boston Globe’s investigative reporting on sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests won over the favoured frontier epic ‘The Revenant.’ McCarthy’s well-crafted procedural, led by a strong ensemble cast, had lagged in the lead-up to the Oscars, losing ground to the flashier filmmaking of Alejandro Inarritu’s film.

But ‘Spotlight,’ an ode to the hard-nose, methodical work of a journalism increasingly seldom practiced, took the night’s top honour despite winning only one other Oscar for McCarthy and Josh Singer’s screenplay. Such a sparsely-awarded best picture winner hasn’t happened since 1952’s ‘The Greatest Show On Earth.’

“We would not be here today without the heroic efforts of our reporters,” said producer Blye Pagon Faust. “Not only do they effect global change, but they absolutely show us the necessity for investigative journalism.”

The night, however, belong to host Rock, who launched immediately into the uproar over the lack of diversity in this year’s nominees, and didn’t let up. “The White People’s Choice Awards,” he called the Oscars, which were protested beforehand outside the Dolby Theatre by the Rev. Al Sharpton, and saw some viewers boycotting the broadcast.

Rock insured that the topic remained at the forefront throughout the evening, usually finding hearty laughs in the process. In an award show traditionally known for song-and-dance routines and high doses of glamour, Rock gave the 88th Academy Awards a charged atmosphere, keeping with the outcry that followed a second straight year of all-white acting nominees.

“Is Hollywood racist? You’re damn right it’s racist,” said Rock. “Hollywood is sorority racist. It’s like: We like you Rhonda, but you’re not a Kappa.”

Host Chris Rock speaks at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Host Chris Rock speaks at the Oscars on Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP/Invision/Chris Pizzello.


Streaks, broken and extended, dominated much of the evening.

After going home empty-handed four times previously, Leonardo DiCaprio won his first Oscar, for a best actor in ‘The Revenant,’ a gruff, grunting performance that traded little on the actor’s youthful charisma. DiCaprio, greeted with a standing ovation, took the moment to talk about climate change.

“Let us not take our planet for granted,” he said. “I do not take tonight for granted.”

His director, Inarritu won back-to-back directing awards after the triumph last year of ‘Birdman.’ It’s a feat matched by only two other filmmakers: John Ford and Joseph L. Mankiewicz.

‘The Revenant’ also won best cinematography for Emmanuel Lubezki, who became the first cinematographer to win three times in a row (following wins for ‘Gravity’ and ‘Birdman’), and only the seventh to three-peat in Oscar history.

Inarritu, whose win meant three straight years of Mexican filmmakers winning best director, was one of the few winners to remark passionately on diversity in his acceptance speech.

“What a great opportunity for our generation to really liberate ourselves from all prejudice and this tribal thinking and to make sure for once and forever that the colour of our skin becomes as irrelevant as the length of our hair,” said Inarritu.

'The Revenant' won big at the Oscars, with Leonardo DiCaprio claiming best actor and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu winning best director on Feb. 28, 2016. FILMMAGIC/Jeff Kravitz.
‘The Revenant’ won big at the Oscars, with Leonardo DiCaprio claiming best actor and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu winning best director on Feb. 28, 2016. FILMMAGIC/Jeff Kravitz.


The night’s most-awarded film, however, went to neither ‘Spotlight’ nor ‘The Revenant.’ George Miller’s post-apocalyptic chase film, ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ sped away with six awards in technical categories for editing, makeup, production design, sound editing, sound mixing and costume design. Roundly acclaimed for its old-school craft, Miller’s ‘Mad Max’ was assured of becoming the evening’s most awarded film.

“Us Mad Maxes are doing OK tonight,” said editor Margaret Sixel, who’s also Miller’s wife. The flurry of wins brought a parade of Australian craftsmen onstage, including sound editor Mark Mangini, who celebrated with a loud expletive.

Best actress went to Brie Larson, the 26-year-old breakout of the mother-son captive drama ‘Room.’ The Sweden-born Alicia Vikander took best supporting actress for the transgender pioneer tale ‘The Danish Girl.’

But the wins at times felt secondary to the sharp, unflinching host. Rock confessed that he deliberated over joining the Oscars boycott and bowing out as host, but concluded: “The last thing I need is to lose another job to Kevin Hart.”

There was another major surprise Sunday. The supporting actor win for Mark Rylance over Sylvester Stallone drew gasps. Stallone, nominated a second time 39 years later for the role of Rocky Balboa, had been expected to win his first acting Oscar for the ‘Rocky’ sequel ‘Creed.’ He instead lost to the famed stage actor who co-starred in Steven Spielberg’s ‘Bridge of Spies.’

Adam McKay and Charles Randolph took best adapted screenplay for their self-described “trauma-dy” about the mortgage meltdown of 2008. McKay thanked Paramount Pictures for taking a risk on a movie about “financial esoterica.” Best known for broader comedies like ‘Anchorman’ and ‘Step Brothers,’ McKay gave an election-year warning to power of ‘big money’ and ‘weirdo billionaires’ in the presidential campaign.

Talk of election was otherwise largely absent the ceremony, though Vice-President Joe Biden (whose presence added even greater security to the Dolby Theatre) was met by a standing ovation before talking about sexual assault on college campuses before introducing best-song nominee Lady Gaga.

The composer John Williams (‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’) came in with his 50th nod, but lost to Ennio Morricone, who, at 87,  landed his first competitive Oscar for Quentin Tarantino’s ‘The Hateful Eight.’ (He was given an honorary one in 2009.)

Sam Smith and song-writing partner Jimmy Napes picked up the Academy Award for best song for ‘Writing’s on the Wall,’ from the  James Bond film ‘Spectre.’

“I stand here tonight as a proud gay man and I hope we can all  stand together as equals one day,’ said Smith. Best animated feature film went to ‘Inside Out,’ Pixar’s eighth  win in the category since it was created in 2001. Asif Kapadia’s Amy Winehouse portrait, ‘Amy,’ took best documentary. Hungary scored its second best foreign language Oscar for Laszlo Nemes’ ‘Son of  Saul,’ a harrowing drama set within a concentration camp.

“Even in the darkest hours of mankind, there might be a voice within us that allows us to remain human,” said Nemes. “That’s the hope of this film.”

Down the street from the Dolby Theatre, Sharpton led several dozen demonstrators in protest against a second straight year of all-white acting nominees. “This will be the last night of an all-white Oscars,” Sharpton vowed at the rally.

The nominees restored the hashtag “OscarsSoWhite” to prominence  and led Spike Lee (an honorary Oscar winner this year) and Jada  Pinkett Smith to announce that they would not attend the show.

Several top African American filmmakers, Ryan Coogler (‘Creed’) and Ava DuVernay (‘Selma’) spent the evening not at the Oscars but in Flint, Mich., raising money for the water-contaminated city.

Aside from pleading for more opportunity for black actors, Rock also sought to add perspective to the turmoil. Rock said this year didn’t differ much from Oscar history, but black people in earlier decades were “too busy being raped and lynched to worry about who won best cinematographer.”

In a quick response to the growing crisis, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, pushed ahead reforms to the academy intended to diversify its overwhelming white and male membership. But those changes (which included stripping older, out-of-work members of their voting privileges) precipitated a backlash, too. A chorus of academy members challenged the reforms.

In remarks during the show by the president, usually one of the sleepiest moments in the broadcast, Boone Isaacs strongly defended the changes, quoting Martin Luther King Jr. and urging each Oscar attendee to bring greater opportunity to the industry. She was received politely, if not enthusiastically, by the audience.

“It’s not enough to listen and agree,” said Boone Isaacs. “We  must take action.”

How the controversy will affect ratings for ABC was one of the night’s big questions. Last year’s telecast, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, slid 16 per cent to 36.6 million viewers, a six-year low.

Derrik J. Lang contributed to this report.

Polar Bear palooza, Toronto Oscar parties, round up weekend events

Patricia D'Cunha and Amber LeBlanc | posted Friday, Feb 26th, 2016

Weekends are made for relaxing after a stressful week, so if you want to stay home and do nothing, no one will judge you for it.

But if you want to head out, there are plenty of things to do. Do you want to meet the Toronto Zoo’s polar bear cub or take in an Oscar party? Read on! And if not, still read on: we have some other suggestions below.

Transit riders, please note, the Spadina streetcars will be diverting this weekend due to TTC work.

Have a happy weekend!


Polar Bear palooza
The sweet little polar bear cub will be the center of attention this weekend at the Toronto Zoo, as the public gets to meet her in-person for the first time.

Juno’s introduction to the public is taking place on International Polar Bear Day, amid the zoo’s Polar Bear Festival, which aims to raise awareness and support Canada’s threatened species.

The festival, being held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., features polar-bear themed activities for children and a chance to win a behind-the-scenes tour. You can also listen to stories shared by the zoo’s two polar bear keepers at the special presentation Conserving the Polar Bear.

Toronto Zoo's polar bear cub at three months old on Feb. 12, 2016. TORONTO ZOO.
Toronto Zoo’s polar bear cub at three months old on Feb. 12, 2016. TORONTO ZOO.

The event is free with the cost of zoo admission. There is an extra $5-8 cost for the special presentation, and you need to register in advance.

Toronto Camping and RV Show
Starting today through Sunday, you can channel summer by envisioning an epic road trip in a brand new RV.

A family hanging out near their RV. Photo via Facebook/TorontoSpringCampingRVShowandSale.
A family hanging out near their RV. Photo via Facebook/TorontoSpringCampingRVShowandSale.

The Toronto Camping and RV Show is at the International Centre, and along with hundreds of exhibitors also features an RV parts store. Show organizers say there will exclusive deals on RVs at the show with experts on hand to help you choose the right one.

Study and Go Abroad Fair
Students with wanderlust have the opportunity to discover the studying experience of a lifetime at this year’s Study and Go Abroad Fair at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

Trinity College in Ireland. Photo via Twitter/@studygoabroad.
Trinity College in Ireland. Photo via Twitter/@studygoabroad.

Top universities from around the world will be putting on seminars this Sunday after their programs and experiences in places like Australia, Europe and the Caribbean. Admission is free but registration is recommended.

Restaurant Show
Attention food lovers and those who’ve ever dreamed of owning their own restaurant.

The annual Restaurants Canada Show 2016 takes place this weekend at the Enercare Centre. It’s got something for everyone in the hospitality industry or those interested in owning a restaurant or bar.Click here to register.

Man Is Served Food At Table

With the spotlight on the 88th Academy Awards this weekend, host Chris Rock can be counted on tell it like it is.

For the second-straight year, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has been under scrutiny for not nominating minorities in the acting categories. Some actors are even planning to boycott the ceremony.

In the midst of all this controversy stands Rock, whose comments as host could change how ordinary people view the Oscars. How will he address the race issue? We just have to wait and see.

Before the awards show at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, celebrities will be strutting the red carpet. As usual, you can always watch the red carpet entrances and the show on television or follow it online. But, there are some events taking place in Toronto if you want to feel a part of the action.

A Oscar statue is seen on the red carpet before the 84th Academy Awards in Los Angeles on Feb. 25, 2012. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Matt Sayles.
A Oscar statue is seen on the red carpet before the 84th Academy Awards in Los Angeles on Feb. 25, 2012. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Matt Sayles.

On the Red Carpet: You may not be invited to the Oscars, but you can still get glammed up and walk the red carpet at Reitman Square on Sunday. Then, you can watch the broadcast at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. The event starts at 7 p.m. Public tickets are $125. The event benefits the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research and TIFF.

Bloor Broadcast: Looking to make a more casual ‘red carpet’ appearance? The Bloor Cinema is hosting an Oscars party where you can watch the show live on their screen. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are free.

Fox Theatre party: Who said the Oscars can’t be fun? Especially when there are prizes at stake for best dressed and the best celebrity impression. You can also play Oscar bingo and root for your nominations. The event kicks off at 7 p.m. The event is free but donations are requested to benefit the AIDS Committee of Toronto.

TTC work

Spadina streetcar diversion
Heads-up if you use 510 Spadina streetcars. Starting at 6 a.m. Saturday, the TTC is doing overhead and electrical work inside the Spadina Station streetcar tunnel.

During that time, the 510/317 streetcars will divert using College and Bathurst streets to Bathurst Station. A shuttle bus will run on Spadina Avenue between Queen Street West and Spadina Station.

Regular service resumes Sunday at 5 p.m.

What low-income families can expect from the Ontario budget

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Feb 25th, 2016

Ontario residents struggling to make ends meet will get some relief from the provincial government’s 2016 budget:


The province is scrapping its current tuition grants and funnelling the money into a single program that will provide free post-secondary tuition to students from families with incomes up to $50,000. The new Ontario Student Grant, set to take effect in the 2017-18 school year, will also award grants exceeding the average tuition to more than half of students with families with incomes of $83,000 or less.


An additional $178 million will be injected into affordable housing over three years, which the province says will provide subsidies and benefits to more households, though the exact number has yet to be determined. More details are expected in the coming months on changes to affordable housing, including plans to build an additional 1,500 units over an unspecified number of years.

A new $2.4 million one-year pilot project will also allow those fleeing domestic violence to access affordable housing benefits without having to wait for a unit to become available.


Those receiving assistance through the Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support programs will see their benefits increase by 1.5 per cent starting this fall.

The province is also planning to reduce clawbacks to social assistance for families also receiving child support, though it has not yet been determined how much more they will be able to keep.


More seniors will be eligible for cheaper drugs starting in August. Single seniors earning up to $19,300 per year will now qualify, compared with the previous threshold of $16,018. Couples with an income of up to $32,300 will also become eligible, where before only those earning $24,175 qualified.

The costs will be offset by raising deductibles and co-payments for seniors above the new income thresholds. Annual deductibles will rise to $170 from $100 and co-payments will increase by a dollar to $7.11.

Provincial budget: Free college & university tuition for low income families

The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Feb 25th, 2016

University and college will soon be free for students from low-income families in Ontario, but prices are going up on wine, tobacco, gasoline and heating for most homeowners.

In its latest budget, Ontario’s Liberal government says it is on track to eliminate a $5.7-billion deficit in the next fiscal year largely thanks to managing program spending and fighting the underground economy.

But the government is reluctant to acknowledge that revenue from the partial sale of Hydro One and $1.9 billion expected from a new carbon pricing system are major factors to getting into the black.

The showcase pledge in the government’s 2016-17 budget – its ninth consecutive in the red – is to introduce an Ontario Student Grant that would entirely pay for average college or university tuition for students from families with incomes of $50,000 or less.

Under the new program, half of students from families with incomes of $83,000 will qualify for non-repayable grants for tuition and no student will receive less than they can currently receive.

Taxes on cigarettes are rising $3 per carton and wine prices will also rise.

More to come

Kentucky man suffers burns as E-cigarette explodes in his pants

CityNews | posted Thursday, Feb 25th, 2016

E-cigarettes are said to be a less dangerous alternative for smokers than actually lighting up. But one Kentucky man begs to differ.

Josh Hamilton suffered second degree burns after his e-cigarette caught fire in his pants pocket.

Hamilton attempting to pay for some items after stopping at the Quality Quick gas station in Owensboro, about 120 km west of Louisville when his front pants pocket suddenly burst into flames. He quickly ran outside where gas station employee Jassie Singh used a fire extinguisher to douse the fire.

“Suddenly, there was a blast in his pocket and there was fire — big fire — and he was burning,” Singh told WFIE.

“I was like, what is going on, man?” Singh said.

Hamilton was taken to a local hospital and is expected to be okay. It appears the battery from his e-cigarette caught fire.

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