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Schedule for Councillor Rob Ford’s Memorial Ceremonies

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Mar 23rd, 2016

Councillor Rob Ford will lie in repose for two days at Toronto City Hall starting Mon. March 28 before a funeral service to be held at St. James Cathedral on Wed. March 30 at noon.

While the burial will not be open to the public, the Ford family says a celebration of his life will be held on Wednesday night at the Toronto Congress Centre on Dixon Road.

A complete schedule follows:

Monday, March 28, 2016

9:00 AM – Councillor Ford and his family will arrive at City Hall, where he will lie in repose
10:00 AM – City Hall will be open for members of the public to pay their respects to the Councillor and his family
6:00 PM – City Hall will close for the day

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

7:30 AM – City Hall will be open for members of the public to pay their respects to the Councillor and his family
9:30 PM – City Hall will close for the day, and Councillor Ford and his family will depart

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

10:30 AM – Procession starting at Toronto City Hall, and ending at St James Cathedral (65 Church St) where the funeral service will be held
– Route information to follow at a later time

12:00 – PM Funeral services at St James Cathedral

1:00 PM – Funeral services conclude, Councillor Ford and his family will depart to lay him to rest – Private Ceremony

6:30 PM – The Ford Family welcomes members of the public to join them at the Toronto Congress Centre (650 Dixon Rd) for a celebration of Councillor Ford’s life

9:00 PM – Celebration concludes

Councillor Ford’s family wishes to express their gratitude for the thousands of messages of support they have received from around the world. As difficult as it is to say goodbye, they would like to do so in the same manner in which he lived his life, by sharing it with the people.

The family wishes to also thank the Mayor for allowing Councillor Ford to lie in repose at City Hall.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in his honour to the Ford-Panov research panel at Mount Sinai Hospital

Two suspects in Brussels attacks were brothers, third man at-large

RAF CASERT AND LORNE COOK, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Wednesday, Mar 23rd, 2016

Several people who may be linked to the Brussels attacks were still on the loose and the country’s threat alert remained at its highest level, meaning there was danger of an imminent attack, said Paul Van Tigchelt, head of Belgium’s terrorism threat body. The attacks killed 34 people, including three suicide bombers, and injured 270 others, authorities said.

Belgium began three days of mourning, and government offices, schools and residents held a moment of silence to honour the dead, marking the moment in a mood of defiance mixed with anxiety that others involved in the attacks are still be at large.

Belgian prosecutor Federal Prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw identified two of the Brussels attackers as brothers – Ibrahim El Bakraoui, a suicide bomber at the airport, and Khalid El Bakraoui, who targeted the subway.

Related stories:

ISIS claims responsibility for deadly bombings in Brussels\

European airports increase security after Brussels attacks

Security beefed up at Union Station after Brussels explosions

Investigators raided the Brussels neighbourhood of Schaerbeek after the attacks and found a computer in a trash can on the street including a note from Ibrahim El Bakraoui saying he felt increasingly unsafe and feared landing in prison.

During a raid of the apartment where the brothers had stayed, investigators also found 15 kilograms of TATP explosives, nails, and other material for making explosives, the prosecutor said.

Van Leeuw said authorities do not know the identities of two other people pictured with Ibrahim El Bakraoui in a surveillance photo from the airport that police are circulating.

Three men who are suspected of taking part in the attacks at Belgium's Zaventem Airport on March 22, 2016. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Belgian Federal Police.
Three men who are suspected of taking part in the attacks at Belgium’s Zaventem Airport on March 22, 2016. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Belgian Federal Police.

Two were suicide bombers, the prosecutor said; the other was a man in a white jacket and black cap who fled before the bombs went off, leaving behind a bag full of explosives, authorities said. That bag later blew up, but no one was injured.

The Islamic State group, which was behind the Paris attacks, has also claimed responsibility for the Brussels bombings.

Belgian state broadcaster RTBF, citing sources it did not identify, said Khalid El Bakraoui had rented an apartment that was raided last week in an operation that led authorities to top Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam.

Abdeslam was arrested Friday in the Brussels neighbourhood where he grew up, a rough place with links to several of the attackers who targeted a Paris stadium, rock concert and cafes on Nov. 13. Those attacks killed 130 people.

A Belgian official working on the investigation told the AP that it is a “plausible hypothesis” that Abdeslam was part of the cell linked to the Brussels attack. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss an ongoing investigation.

Authorities are also still looking for a suspected accomplice of Abdeslam, Najim Laachraoui, whom they have been searching for since last week. It’s not clear if he has any connection to the Brussels attack. Belgian newspaper DH initially reported he might be the man in the white jacket at the Brussels airport, but later removed that report from its website.

Laachraoui is believed to have made the suicide vests used in the Paris attacks, a French police official told The Associated Press, adding that Laachraoui’s DNA was found on all of the vests as well as in a Brussels apartment where they were made. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation.

French and Belgian authorities have said in recent days that the network behind the Paris attacks was much larger than initially thought, and developments this week suggest the same group could have staged both the Paris and Brussels attacks.

The airport and several Brussels metro stations remained closed Wednesday, and authorities said the airport would remain closed at least through Thursday, forcing the cancellation of 600 flights each day. Security forces stood guard around the neighbourhood housing the headquarters of European Union institutions, as nervous Brussels residents began returning to school and work.

As befits an international city like Brussels, the foreign minister said the dead collectively held at least 40 nationalities.

“It’s a war that terrorism has declared not only on France and on Europe, but on the world,” French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Wednesday on Europe-1 radio. Valls, who planned to visit Brussels later Wednesday, urged tougher controls of the EU’s external borders.

“We must be able to face the extension of radical Islamism … that spreads in some of our neighbourhoods and perverts our youth,” he said. The Paris attackers were mainly French and Belgian citizens of North African descent, some from neighbourhoods that struggle with discrimination, unemployment and alienation.

In its claim of responsibility, the Islamic State group said its members detonated suicide vests both at the airport and in the subway, where many passengers fled to safety down dark tunnels filled with hazy smoke from the explosion. IS warned of further attacks, issuing a statement promising “dark days” for countries taking part in the U.S.-led anti-IS coalition in Syria and Iraq.

European security officials have been bracing for a major attack for weeks and had warned that IS was actively preparing to strike.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Wednesday that big events, be they sports or cultural, must not be put on hold for fear of attacks. He said that includes the Euro2016 soccer tournament, a monthlong event being held in France that starts in June. Meanwhile, the Belgian football federation announced that it was calling off an international soccer friendly match against Portugal next week because of the attacks.

Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers John-Thor Dahlburg, Raphael Satter and Angela Charlton in Brussels, and Lori Hinnant and Elaine Ganley in Paris.

Toronto mayor John Tory and city councillors respond to the passing of Rob Ford

| posted Wednesday, Mar 23rd, 2016

The death of Toronto’s former mayor and city councillor Rob Ford shocked the city and the world when he passed away yesterday at 46 after battling pleomorphic liposarcoma, a rare form of cancer, since 2014.

“With heavy hearts and profound sadness, the Ford family announces the passing of their beloved son, brother, husband, and father, Councillor Rob Ford earlier today at the age of 46,” his family said in a statement released yesterday. Supporters and detractors alike have been responding to his death and legacy as a passionate and determined politician. Ford’s successor, Mayor John Tory released a statement yesterday describing Ford as “a profoundly human guy”.

“The city is willing to do whatever the family wishes with respect to making sure that this man’s public contribution is recognized.” Tory said.


Ford served for a decade as a councillor before becoming the city’s 64th mayor in October 2010 and represented Toronto for four years on an international scale.


Coun. Norm Kelly remembers Rob Ford as a man who “summed up the feelings and the sentiments and the emotions of a considerable amount of Torontonians,” and acted on them in his own way.

Ford’s ally and colleague coun. Giorgio Mammoliti, remembers his friend for his style of “grass-roots politics” and his close relationship with his supporters and says he would want to be remembered with the same type of gathering he was known for, something involving hamburgers, hot dogs, beer and soft drinks in a city park.

Tributes have been pouring in on social media for Rob Ford with supporters sharing their memories for the man who was often called ‘the people’s mayor’. See the highlights from social media.


Share your memories with us in the comments below.

The top 8 plants in your home that could harm your pets

Frank Ferragine | posted Wednesday, Mar 23rd, 2016

With Easter coming up this weekend, you may be decorating your house with some indoor plants. However, some of those plants may be harmful to your pets. Gardening expert, Frankie Flowers, has a list of the top 8 poisonous plants for your pets.

Common Symptoms if ingested by animals:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Mouth irritation
  • Excessive salivation
  • Respiratory, breathing problems

NOTE:  If you pet eats a leaf of a plant that you don’t know about immediately call your vet.  Most importantly you should know all the name of the plants you have in your home.


www.frankieflowers.com | Twitter: @FrankFerragine

Former mayor Rob Ford has died

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Mar 23rd, 2016

Rob Ford, one of Toronto’s most prolific and polarizing mayors and councilors, has passed away at the age of 46.

Ford was pronounced dead at Mount Sinai Hospital Tuesday morning after battling a rare and aggressive form of cancer called pleomorphic liposarcoma since 2014.

“With heavy hearts and profound sadness, the Ford family announces the passing of their beloved son, brother, husband, and father, Councillor Rob Ford earlier today at the age of 46,” his family said in a release.

According to family, Ford was recovering after becoming “very weak” from previous treatment and was under 24-hour medical watch before his death.

“The family asks that you respect their privacy and join them in their grieving and their prayers,” the release states.

Rumours of his deteriorating condition caused many to report his passing early on social media in mid-March, but his office was quick to maintain in a statement that Ford was still alive and fighting with family by his side.

Toronto Mayor John Tory quickly made a statement about his former political adversary.

“The City is reeling with this news, and my thoughts are with his wife Renata and their two children, as well as Rob’s brothers Doug and Randy, his sister Kathy, his mother, Diane, and the rest of their tight-knit family, including TDSB Trustee Michael Ford,” Tory said.

“I have known Rob Ford for many years. He was a man who spoke his mind and who ran for office because of the deeply felt convictions that he had. As a councilor, mayor and private citizen, Rob Ford reached out directly to people across the city with a phone call, an offer of advice or support, and I know there are many who were affected by his gregarious nature and approach to public service.

“His time in City Hall included moments of kindness, of generosity to his council colleagues and real efforts to do what he thought was best for Toronto. He was, above all else, a profoundly human guy whose presence in our city will be missed.”

Kathleen Wynne issued a statement soon after the announcement was made.

“Rob Ford earned widespread respect for his unwavering persistence in the face of serious health concerns,” she said, “which he summed up in a statement released from his hospital bed during the 2014 campaign: ‘Be strong, stay positive and never, ever give up.’”

The Etobicoke-native has been a staple in Toronto politics since 2000.

Serving as councilor of Ward 2-Etobicoke North from 2000 to 2010, Ford established himself as a charismatic powerhouse with a catchy one-line slogans like “stopping the gravy train,” “respect for taxpayers” and “subways, subways, subways.”

After serving a decade as councilor, Ford was sworn in as the city’s 64th mayor and represented Toronto on an international scale for four years.

He was caught up in a whirlwind of controversy during his terms as councilor and mayor, but the most memorable is the crack scandal. In his last year as mayor, reports of a video of the former mayor smoking crack cocaine surfaced. Ford vehemently denied the allegations for months but after a year of investigation by local media and police, Ford admitted his crack use was real. The news was blasted all over Canadian and American media, and earned the former mayor an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel.

Despite all this — Rob refused to step down as mayor. Ford took a leave of absence and entered rehab instead until June 2014.

But before all the publicity, Ford was simply the youngest son of Deco Labels and Tags founder Doug Ford Sr. and had dreams of becoming a pro-football player. Ford returned to Etobicoke after a brief move to Ottawa, married his high-school sweetheart Renata and has never left since.

Rob Ford’s most unforgettable quotes

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Mar 23rd, 2016

There are too many to count, but here are some of Rob Ford’s most memorable quotes:

“You know, it’s over the top. You may not agree with my politics, don’t start taking pictures of my family. My wife’s home, my kids are home.”

Ford after confronting reporter Daniel Dale, whom he accused of trespassing on his front lawn, on May 3, 2012. Ford later admitted Dale never set foot on his property.

“I do not use crack cocaine, nor am I an addict of crack cocaine. As for a video, I cannot comment on a video that I have never seen or does not exist.”

Ford on allegations that he’s seen a video of himself smoking crack cocaine on May 24, 2013.

“I think everybody’s seen the allegations against me today. I wish I could come out and defend myself. Unfortunately I can’t because it’s before the courts and that’s all I can say right now. I have no reason to resign. I’m going to go back and return my phone calls. I’m going to be out doing what the people elected me to do and that’s save taxpayers money and run a great government.”

Ford on the crack allegations on May 24, 2013.

“I’ve run a fantastic city. I don’t want to toot my own horn here but I’m the best mayor this city has ever had.”

Ford on his run as mayor during a radio interview on Nov. 3, 2013.

“Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine… Probably in one of my drunken stupors, probably approximately about a year ago.”

Ford admitting to smoking crack cocaine and denying ever lying about it on Nov. 5, 2013.

“I’ve never said that in my life to her, I would never do that. I’m happily married, I’ve got more than enough to eat at home.”

Ford on allegations he made crude comments to a female assistant about performing oral sex on Nov. 14, 2013.

“The revelations yesterday of cocaine, escorts, prostitution has pushed me over the line and I used unforgivable language and again I apologize. These allegations are 100 per cent lies.”

Ford on more allegations on Nov. 14, 2013.

“This… reminds me of when I was watching with my brother when Saddam (Hussein) attacked Kuwait and (U.S.) President Bush said ‘I warn you, I warn you, I warn you, do not.’ Well folks, if you think American-style politics is nasty, you guys have just attacked Kuwait.”

Rob Ford before the council vote to strip him of his powers on Nov. 18, 2013.

“Bumbaclot, mon.”

Ford speaking Jamaican patois in a fast food restaurant during an odd rant captured on video on January 20, 2014.

“I have a problem with alcohol, and the choices I have made while under the influence. I have tried to deal with these issues by myself over the past year. I know that I need professional help and I am now 100 per cent committed to getting myself right.”

Ford said in a statement on April 30, 2014, after three Toronto newspapers published numerous reports, including another video of him allegedly smoking crack cocaine, an audio recording of the mayor drunk, spewing profanities and making lewd comments, and witness accounts of him snorting cocaine in a Toronto nightclub.

“It’s not just an addiction. Some people can drink, some people can casually use drugs. I have a disease. I have a chronic disease. I was born with blond hair and I’m going to die with blond hair. I was born with this disease. I’m going to die with this disease.”

Ford in July 2014.

“This is what I love to do. This is not causing the disease. I’ve had this disease before I even entered this office.”

Ford on whether stress from being mayor contributed to his alcohol and drug abuse in July 2014.

“I offended a lot of people and all I can do is apologize and say sorry. I cannot change the past.”

Ford in July 2014.

Freezing rain, snow and messy conditions ahead for GTA

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Mar 23rd, 2016

We are officially a few days into spring, but don’t put away your winter gear just yet.

Environment Canada issued a special weather statement on Tuesday morning for all of southern Ontario, warning about wet and messy conditions over the next couple of days.

CityNews Meteorologist Adam Stiles said this is going to be a high-impact storm system that is arriving on Wednesday and lasting through Thursday.

“We are going to see a wide range of precipitation types, so be prepared for changing conditions,” Stiles said. “I don’t think we will have to worry about shoveling in the most of the GTA, but there is still a possibility of some snow with this one.”

There is a chance that the extreme northern portions of the GTA could see 10-15 cm of snow.

“A weak disturbance is moving along the line of an arctic front draped across the region that will bring a coating of a few centimetres of snow to areas north and east of the Greater Toronto Area into Eastern Ontario on Tuesday,” Environment Canada said.

A low pressure system will give periods of snow or ice pellets through the day on Wednesday.

“Precipitation will change over to freezing rain Wednesday night and continue until Thursday morning,” Environment Canada said. “Ice accretion on untreated surfaces of 5 to 10 millimeters is possible by Thursday morning.”

The slippery conditions may cause significant impact on transportation and these storms have caused power outages in the past.

“We will likely see ice accretion in the range of 5-15 mm across the GTA amd we will likely see some power outages if the freezing rain persists for as long as the forecast is hinting at,” said Stiles.

Areas from Toronto westward will see the freezing rain end Wednesday morning with a change to rain, and for areas east of Toronto the freezing rain will end later in the day Thursday.

“Surfaces such as highways, roads, walkways and parking lots will become icy, slippery and hazardous,” Environment Canada said.

Public Safety Canada encourages everyone to make an emergency plan and get an emergency kit with drinking water, food, medicine, a first-aid kit and a flashlight.

Highlights from the federal budget

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Mar 22nd, 2016

OTTAWA – Some of the highlights of the federal budget tabled Tuesday by Liberal Finance Minister Bill Morneau:

– A deficit of $29.4 billion in 2016-17, nearly three times the $10 billion promised during the fall election campaign, and a projected deficit of $17.7 billion in 2019-20 rather than the balanced budget that was promised in October.

– $10 billion more over two years for a new Canada child benefit, absorbing and replacing both the Canada child tax benefit and the universal child care benefit. Targeted to low and middle-income families, the government says the new benefit provides an average increase of nearly $2,300 in 2016-17.

– $2.5 billion over two years on a suite of changes to employment insurance, including reducing the required work experience for new entrants and re-entrants; halving the two-week waiting period; extending a pilot project to allow claimants to work while collecting benefits; simplifying job-search requirements; and extending the benefit eligibility window in specific regions with a higher unemployment rate.

– An end to income splitting for couples with children, the children’s fitness tax credit and the children’s arts tax credit.

– A promised cut to the 10.5 per cent small business tax rate has been deferred indefinitely.

– $2.6 billion over five years for primary and secondary education on First Nations reserves, including language and cultural programs, plus $969.4 million over five years for education infrastructure.

– $1.2 billion over five years for social infrastructure for Aboriginal Peoples, including First Nations, Inuit and northern communities.

– $10.4 million over three years for new women’s shelters in First Nations communities, and $33.6 million over five years and $8.3 million ongoing for support services.

– $5.6 billion more in benefits to veterans and their families over five years, including a disability award that increases to $360,000, retroactive to 2006, and an earnings loss benefit to injured vets of 90 per cent of pre-release salary. The government is also re-opening nine veterans’ service offices across the country and adding a 10th.

– Planned National Defence purchases worth $3.7 billion _ ships, planes and vehicles _ are being deferred indefinitely.

– $1.53 billion over five years to increase Canada student grants to $3,000 from $2,000 for low-income students, to $1,200 from $800 for middle-income students and to $1,800 from $1,200 for part-time students.

– $3.4 billion over five years to increase the guaranteed income supplement top-up benefit by up to $947 annually for single seniors, and restore the old age security eligibility age to 65 from 67.

– $2.2 billion over five years in water and wastewater treatment and waste management as part of a 10-year green infrastructure investment plan.

– $1.9 billion over five years to support Canadian arts and culture organizations and cultural infrastructure, including the CBC and national museums.

– $2 billion over three years for a new strategic investment fund for infrastructure improvements at colleges and universities, in partnership with provinces and territories.

– $2 billion over two years for a low-carbon economy fund, beginning in 2017-18;

– More than $1 billion over four years to support future clean technology investments, including in forestry, fisheries, mining, energy and agriculture, plus $130 million over five years to support clean technology research and development.

– $345.3 million over five years to Environment and Climate Change Canada, Health Canada and the National Research Council to take action to address air pollution.

– $40 million over two years for the inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls.

– Up to $178 million over two years for the provinces for urgent affordable housing needs.

– $38.5 million over two years to strengthen and modernize Canada’s food safety system.

– $142.3 million over five years to add new national parks and improve access during the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

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