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Dog shot in Malvern expected to survive

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Jun 22nd, 2016

Police are investigating after a dog was shot in the city’s east end on Tuesday evening.

Officers arrived on scene shortly after 7 p.m. to reports of four to five gunshots heard on Empringham Drive near Sewells Road in Malvern.

A dog was rushed to an emergency vet as a result of this incident and is expected to survive. No one else was injured.

Police believe the dog was not the intended target.

“We believe there may also be a person that may have been struck, as people were seen fleeing the area,” Sgt. David Crampton said.

No suspect description has been released. Police are asking anyone with information to come forward.

Cup of urine tossed at driver on the Gardiner Expressway

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Jun 22nd, 2016

Toronto police are investigating a bizarre assault on the Gardiner Expressway.

Officers allege one driver pulled up beside another at Parkside Drive around 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

He then tossed a cup full of urine onto – and into – the victim’s car.

No suspect description is currently available, but police say they are investigating and treating the case as an assault at the point.

Trending: Is it time for city hall to overturn the ban on street hockey?

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Jun 21st, 2016

Long before kids somehow became entangled in municipal red tape, they were bulging the twine with red Titans, burning off enviable energy reserves while mimicking their heroes on Hockey Night in Canada.

There are few things more Canadian than road hockey. And in simpler times, bylaw officers weren’t required to prevent catastrophic collisions with menacing vehicles.

A simple holler of “Car!” was enough. The nets were temporarily removed. The car passed, and the frenzied pursuit of a raggedy tennis ball commenced.

Occasionally a ball soared into a carefully manicured garden. It was handled internally. A neighbourhood matter.

But the lame game of bureaucracy, fueled by overzealous nannying and lawsuit fears, has silenced the scurrying of sticks on many side-streets in Toronto.

While once-fit children slowly gained weight and found other pastimes, like smoking weed and joining gangs, the city plastered its glaring white notices, citing by-law 522-78.

It reads: Ball and Hockey Playing Prohibited.

Toronto bylaw sign, May 18, 2011. CITYNEWS.


Nintendo thumb would soon replace welted shins as the prominent childhood injury and future generations appeared doomed to lives of apathy and sloth.

Scattered groups of rebel road hockey players bravely defied the ban until a resident on Esgore Drive near Wilson Avenue and Avenue Road complained last September.

That led to a bylaw blitz, with up to 20 homes being sternly warned that they faced $90 fines if they continued their flagrant mockery of law and order.

But a voice of reason emerged.

Mayor John Tory, just over a year into his tenure, called BS on the bylaw.

“I don’t know who the people are who have the time to remove hockey nets from streets,” he said at the time. “Most kids and their parents are sensible enough to move the hockey net off the streets when they see cars coming along.

“What’s next?” Tory asked. “Are we gonna ban Halloween because kids are walking on the sidewalk in the dark?”

What came next was a request from the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee, asking the city to study “the feasibility of allowing basketball nets and hockey nets on the public right of way where no sidewalks are provided.”

The convoluted report that followed outlines several possible scenarios, but concludes that the best approach would be to keep the existing bylaw intact.

“Retaining the existing regulations allows Transportation Services and Toronto Police Services to undertake enforcement when these activities are causing a hazard, or as a result of a complaint,” it reads. “Enforcement of these regulations should remain complaint driven and discretionary.”

That report was debated Monday at city hall. The Public Works and Infrastructure Committee agreed to study the data and provide the information to council on July 12.

As usual, a lot of hot air and red tape for a problem that a kid could solve in seconds.

Just yell, “Car!” and get the game on.

Deal on Canada Pension Plan reform was swift in policy-making terms

Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Jun 21st, 2016

In two and a half years, Canadians will gradually start paying more premiums into the Canada Pension Plan.

In several decades, supporters say the “historic” CPP deal reached Monday between Ottawa and most provinces will boost retirement security for future generations.

But by policy-making standards, the agreement-in-principle — an unlikely outcome just a few months ago — happened in the blink of an eye.

Related stories:

Deal reached for CPP reform; premiums to increase in 2019
Five things to know about the Canada Pension Plan
As finance ministers gather, a by-the-numbers look at the Canada Pension Plan

Even the federal finance minister, a pension expert, had given himself until the end of the year to finish up negotiations.

Instead, the provinces are now being asked to finalize an agreement by July 15 that will eventually increase contributions and retirement benefits through the public plan.

Following weeks of talks and an all-day meeting in Vancouver on Monday, finance ministers emerged with the agreement-in-principle.

Even provinces such as Saskatchewan and British Columbia, which had expressed concerns about the timing of CPP reform, had signed on. Only Manitoba and Quebec declined to agree to the terms.

The agreement came together as pollsters pointed to overwhelming popular support for public pension reform amid concerns about the adequacy of retirement savings.

The federal Liberals ran on platform to upgrade the public pension system, as did their Ontario cousins. The result also means Ontario will abandon its project to go it alone with its own pension plan.

How did this all happen so quickly?

Sources familiar with the talks said doubters had concerns about the potential economic impact of boosting the CPP, even at the late stages of negotiations.

They said Ottawa made a major push in the final days and hours, which helped secure enough country-wide support to expand the CPP. To make the change, they needed consent of a minimum of seven provinces representing at least two-thirds of Canada’s population.

The sources also suggested Prime Minister Justin Trudeau himself was involved in the extra effort.

On top of that, Ontario, which had been moving forward its more-ambitious pension plan proposal, backed away from its earlier demands that CPP reform should be just as robust.

Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa said in an interview Monday after the announcement that the swift agreement was driven by several factors.

Sousa said all of his counterparts agreed there were “undersaving issues.” He also said that Ontario’s proposed pension plan — and its parameters — gave ministers around the table an example to examine.

And some provinces, especially those hit hard by the commodity-price shock, were looking for only a gradual implementation due to the fragile economy, Sousa added.

The agreement Monday states the CPP premium increases on workers and employees will only start to be phased in on Jan. 1, 2019. Ontario’s increase was set to begin in 2018.

British Columbia Finance Minister Michael de Jong said the deal was reached in part because of compromises and the desire to maintain a single, portable CPP across Canada.

“We think this strikes the right balance in that regard,” de Jong told reporters after the announcement.

The deal, however, wasn’t embraced by everyone.

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau said Manitoba needed more time to examine the deal since its government was only a few weeks old.

“This comes very fast and hard for them,” Morneau said of Manitoba, whose finance minister wasn’t present for the news conference.

Quebec refused to sign the deal out of concern a broad-based premium increase would have a negative impact of low-income earners, the province’s finance minister said in an interview.

The province operates its own sister program of the CPP — the Quebec Pension Plan. Quebec can adjust the QPP as it likes, but it has typically followed the CPP.

Quebec Finance Minister Carlos Leitao said in an interview he will raise QPP premiums according to the CPP deal. He said would also phase them in over the same period.

But unlike the broader-based CPP reform agreement, he said Quebec would only raise premiums on income earned above $27,500.

That’s why Quebec didn’t sign the agreement-in-principle, Leitao said.

“Those people already have a hard time saving, so their disposable income is pretty tight — and I think by taking the decision that we took, we will avoid an unfair tax on them and also on their employers,” he said.

“As we know, payroll taxes tend to be the most economically inefficient taxes.”

To help offset the effect on low-income earners of increased CPP premiums, Ottawa said would it enhance the federal Working Income Tax Benefit and provide a tax deduction.

Critics of CPP expansion have also said it would squeeze workers and employers by imposing additional contributions — and hurt the economy.

Dan Kelly, the president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, warned that the CPP expansion is “pretty devastating” for small businesses.

“The big question I ask myself is what was the size of the federal cheques that were written to some of these provinces to get them to the table?” Kelly said.

Others were thrilled by the announcement.

The head of an organization that has been campaigning for CPP reform for years said Monday’s deal would create the first benefits increase for the plan since it was created in 1966.

“It’s really historic — I never thought this moment would come,” said Hassan Yussuff, president of the Canadian Labour Congress.

— Follow @AndyBlatchford on Twitter

Woman calls 911 to tell police there isn’t enough cheese on her pizza

The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Jun 21st, 2016

An upset Newfoundlander called 911 to report her pizza didn’t have enough cheese, police say.

Const. Geoff Higdon said the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary took the call Friday from someone in the St. John’s area.

“The individual had an issue with the company she bought the pizza from, and there wasn’t enough cheese, and had approached the company and didn’t like whatever response they had given,” Higdon said Monday.

“I’m not sure if by calling us they assumed there was some sort of action we could take, or what the situation was, but of course we advised the individual they just needed to speak with the manager of the company and not the police.”

Higdon said an RNC communications technician described it as “THE call — that one call that will always stick with you as completely bizarre,” but the force has received many inappropriate inquiries over the years.

Emergency agencies the world over have struggled with them since adopting 911. Last month, a Las Vegas-area fire department held a news conference to ask people to not call over “stubbed toes and sore throats.” In February, police in Kentucky reportedly said people often called them to ask directions.

In December, British Columbia’s largest 911 call centre, E-Comm911, issued a list of the top 10 reasons not to call the emergency line, based on actual calls received in 2015.

Among them: Requesting the number for a local tire dealership; reporting an issue with a vending machine; asking for the non-emergency line; complaining a car was parked too close to theirs; reporting that a child wouldn’t put his seatbelt on; telling police about a coffee shop that refused to give a refill; asking if it’s OK to park on the street; reporting someone had used a roommate’s toothbrush; seeking help getting a basketball out of a tree; and complaining that their building’s noisy air system was keeping them awake.

Higdon said Monday inappropriate phone calls often come on the RNC’s non-emergency lines too.

“People call our communications centre to complain about stuff they hear about on the radio that has nothing to do with police or justice or law or anything. They call us to give an opinion. That one’s common. There are radio open line shows and sometimes people call us instead of there,” he said.

Higdon said the department has repeatedly made it clear: 911 is for emergencies only. And yet the calls keep coming.

“I think when people have a problem and they’re just completely stumped at who to call, they’ll call us,” he said.

“And oftentimes we’re able to provide assistance, or maybe direct them to the right person, or in some cases, it’s just a completely inappropriate thing to ask police, like in this instance.”

Heat warning continues for Toronto on first day of summer

CityNews | posted Monday, Jun 20th, 2016

The first day of summer arrived in Toronto exactly as advertised: with a heat warning.

Toronto’s medical officer of health issued a heat warning for the city of Toronto on Sunday while Environment Canada has a similar alert in effect for almost all of Southern Ontario. A smog advisory has also been issued as deteriorating air quality is possible due to the hot and sunny conditions.

A hot and humid day is forecast with temperatures set to climb to 33 C on Monday, and it will feel close to 40. The new season officially arrives at 6:34 p.m., 680 NEWS meteorologist Jill Taylor said.

With the heat, Toronto Public Health is asking everyone to be wary of the symptoms of heat related illness. People with illnesses, the elderly and infants and young children are at increased risk for heat related stress, which can include dizziness, nausea, fainting, headaches, rapid breathing and heartbeat.

People are asked to drink lots of water, go to an air conditioned place such as a mall or community centre, wear loose, light, breathable clothing and void long term exposure to the sun

Also, never leave a person or a pet inside a parked car for an extended period in direct sunlight.

‘Nothing’s official’ on replacing Stroumboulopoulos as HNIC host: Ron MacLean

Ryan McKenna, The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Jun 20th, 2016

Ron MacLean says “nothing’s official” following a Toronto Star report he is poised to replace George Stroumboulopoulos as host of “Hockey Night in Canada” next season.

The longtime broadcaster says “there’s a few balls in the air and things like that” but until Sportsnet executives Scott Moore or Rob Corte “says it’s official, it’s not official.”

Citing industry sources, the Star reported Sunday that MacLean would return to main host’s chair, a spot he occupied for nearly 30 years.

A Sportsnet spokeswoman declined comment on the report.

Stroumboulopoulos became the host of “Hockey Night in Canada” in 2014 after Rogers acquired the NHL rights in a 12-year, $5.2-billion deal.

MacLean saw his role reduced to being Don Cherry’s sidekick on Coach’s Corner and hosting the Sunday night show “Hometown Hockey.”

Related stories:

Ron MacLean could be big winner in ‘Hockey Night In Canada’ shakeup

Don Cherry agrees to multi-year deal to return to ‘Hockey Night in Canada’

In an interview Sunday night, MacLean said he remains focused on those roles for now.

“I love ‘Rogers Hometown Hockey’ and Coach’s Corner. I’ve got those jobs as it is now,” he said. “I’m kind of focused on that and I think there’s this feeling that we may do more or that I may do more going forward but I can guarantee that it’s not solid yet until Scott Moore says it is.”

Moore, the president of Sportsnet and NHL properties, hinted earlier this month that there could be changes coming following a low-rated playoff run.

“We’re all kind of just looking at next year and trying to figure out what’s happening,” said MacLean.

Audience levels fell below the million mark for many early-round playoff games, which didn’t feature a single Canadian team. While ratings improved for the Stanley Cup final, they were down on average from last season.

Rogers has revamped hockey coverage since taking the reins from CBC. The move to replace MacLean with Stroumboulopoulos has been controversial with Stroumboulopoulos seen by some fans as an outsider.

Stroumboulopoulos is on a five-year deal while MacLean is in the middle of a four-year contract.

Sportsnet announced earlier this month that Cherry had signed a new multi-year deal.

Cleveland wins NBA champions, Lebron named MVP

The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Jun 20th, 2016

The Cleveland Cavaliers are NBA champions.

Cleveland beat the Golden State Warriors 93-89 on Sunday in Game 7 of the NBA Finals to claim the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy.

LeBron James led the way for the Cavaliers with 27 points, 11 rebound sand 11 assists. Kyrie Irving added 26 points for Cleveland.

Draymond Green had 32 points for the defending-champion Warriors, who got 17 points from Stephen Curry.

The Cavaliers are the first team in NBA history to come back and win from a 3-1 deficit in the finals.

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