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Premier Wynne vows more hydro relief before spring budget

The Canadian Press, News Staff | posted Thursday, Jan 19th, 2017

More hydro relief for Ontario ratepayers will be announced before the spring budget, Premier Kathleen Wynne said Wednesday as she met with a Windsor-area resident.

Libby Keenan, who has a farm with several horses in Amherstburg, Ont., wrote a Facebook post complaining about hydro rates that was shared more than 21,000 times. Though there’s no machinery in her stable area, Keenan said her most recent bill was for nearly $600.

“How much do I have to pay for the privilege of shovelling manure seven days a week?” she said.

The issue is top of mind for the Liberal government as anger among Ontarians over the rising rates shows no signs of abating, and as the party – Wynne in particular – sags in the polls with an election looming next year.

A government-commissioned survey last year found that 94 per cent of Ontarians were eager for electricity price relief.

Wynne met Wednesday with Keenan, and during a part of the meeting was open to the media, Wynne said she wouldn’t wait for the budget to announce more relief measures.

Keenan said Wynne told her she is specifically looking at rural customers’ delivery charges.

The government brought in an eight-per-cent rebate on electricity bills as of Jan. 1, but Keenan called that a drop in the bucket. Wynne has said high electricity prices are her “mistake” and has vowed to find more ways to lower rates and reduce the burden on consumers.

Auditor general Bonnie Lysyk has said the electricity portion of hydro bills for homes and small businesses rose 70 per cent between 2006 and 2014.

Before the meeting, Keenan said she wanted the government to stop the sell-off of Hydro One – 30 per cent has been sold but the government intends to sell 60 – and have the CEO take a pay cut, when so many of the company’s customers are struggling with bills.

“Do we not have any ability to say, ‘I don’t care who you are, I don’t care if you’re the pope, you don’t deserve $4M a year?”‘ Keenan said. “He’s not working as hard as I am. Send him to me for a week and I’ll show him.”

After the meeting, Keenan said it was a productive conversation.

“I was not being patted on the hand and being told, ‘Too bad for you.”‘

Also at the legislature Wednesday, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business presented a survey of 2,965 of its small business members and half said their electricity bills had risen more than 20 per cent in the past three years. More than half said those increases had led them to increase the prices of their products or services.

The vast majority – 86 per cent – said that it wasn’t possible for them to move their electricity consumption away from on-peak periods, when the cost is the highest.

Pride Toronto has no plans to backtrack on police parade ban

CityNews | posted Thursday, Jan 19th, 2017

Pride Toronto say it has no plans to backtrack on a vote Tuesday night that would ban all police participation from this year’s parade at the request of Black Lives Matter (BLM).

“What we don’t want to see and what the community made very clear last night was no advertent police presence during the Pride parade…and it’s our responsibility to adhere to that,” Pride Toronto board member Sarah Cooper told CityNews on Wednesday.

Cooper added that “queer police officers and trans police officers can march under the banner of community groups,” but won’t be able to have their own floats or contingents at the annual event.

The Pride Annual General Meeting was meant to focus on electing five new board members and finances but an item was added to address the list of demands BLM presented during an interruption of last year’s parade.

A majority of Pride Toronto members voted in favour of the full list of demands, including the ban on police participation.

They also agreed to hire more people from vulnerable communities and provide more funding for events aimed at minority groups.

Toronto police spokesperson Mark Pugash admitted to being confused by what the vote actually means. But he says there’s no confusion when it comes to how police will handle their duties.

“Our job to protect public safety operates irrespective of the whims of a particular organization,” he told CityNews. “It’s our most important job and we are never going to compromise that.”

“We are very actively involved in building relationships, we’ve come a long way,” he added. “We still have a lot more to do, but we think inclusion is much more important than exclusion.”

Black Lives Matter organizer, Hashim Yussuf, said the vote sends a clear message.

“Obviously there’s mandatory police for security and things like that…but we just didn’t want police inside the parade itself,” he said. “We believe the police as an organization, as an institution, have been very homophobic and racist to the community members within Pride Toronto.”

When asked if the ban goes against the principle of inclusion that seems to be at the epicentre of Pride, Yussuf scoffed.

“Banning the police is not being exclusive at all. The police are exclusive towards many different minority communities.”

Social media teemed with negative reaction to Tuesday’s vote, criticizing Pride Toronto for ostensibly abandoning its philosophy of inclusion by banning police.

Some referenced an open letter from Toronto Const. Chuck Krangle, who is openly gay and decried any move to leave his employer out of the parade.

“Police officers are significantly represented in the LGBTQ community and it would be unacceptable to alienate and discriminate against them and those who support them,” he wrote. “They too struggled to gain a place and workplace free from discrimination and bias.”

A petition on change.org is also asking that police be allowed to march and be present in uniform at the parade.

Mayor John Tory expressed his disappointment with the vote on Wednesday and said he’s hopeful a compromise can be reached.

“I hope they can find a way to respect the fact that police have made a positive contribution to improve relations and have been building bridges, and that’s a two-way street…”

“I hope (both sides) can sit down and resolve this issue in the coming weeks so that we can continue to build those bridges.”

Plan to privatize Scarborough garbage collection goes before city council

CityNews | posted Thursday, Jan 19th, 2017

The public works committee have voted in favour of privatizing garbage collection east of Yonge Street.

After lengthy debate at City Hall, the committee deciding to take the idea to a full council vote in two weeks time where private companies, and the city’s own collectors – CUPE Local 416 – would all be asked to make a pitch to collect trash.

The union hasn’t decided if it will take part in the bidding process, insisting they’re still under contract for several more years.

Dozens of city waste collectors, wearing shirts with “Kicked to the Curb” written across the chest, were present for the meeting. Officials estimated that the privatization of garbage collection could result in the loss of 200 to 250 unionized jobs.

Wednesday’s decision came after a number of people had their say about the issue, including former premier Bob Rae, who called it was a bad idea. Rae says just because privatization worked in the west end doesn’t mean it is right for the east end.

While a city report insists millions could be saved, several councillors spoke out against the mayor, saying there are conflicting reports on whether or not this will actually save money. A three year old staff report – the latest to be made public – compared Etobicoke’s private garbage collection at $142 dollars per household to the City’s unionized garbage collection in Scarborough at $126 dollars per household.

Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, who supported privatization in the west end when Rob Ford was mayor, says monopolizing the service will eliminate competition and lead to higher costs.

“We should not give the private sector a monopoly over our services, especially when the 2015 staff report said that the current mix provides the best value and lowest risk to the city,” he said. “So if there is no cost savings, why would we do it?”

Another argument surfacing Wednesday says privatizing garbage collection is having an effect on the environment. Based on city data compiled by the Toronto Environmental Alliance, there is less recycling happening in Etobicoke compared to Scarborough.

Canadian travellers appear undeterred by fatal shooting in Mexico

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Jan 18th, 2017

Canadian travellers and expats appear undeterred by a fatal shooting at the popular Mexican resort town of Playa del Carmen this week, saying the area remains safe despite what they consider an isolated tragedy.

A spokesman for the Quebec-Riviera Maya Chamber of Commerce says the Canadian expats and business owners he has spoken to are saddened by the attack that killed five people, including an Ontario security guard, but are not concerned for their own safety.

Michel Bédard says the shooting at the Blue Parrot nightclub was the first such incident at the 10-year-old venue, which he described as a cultural hub in the area.

He says Canadian snowbirds and tourists are unlikely to change their habits as a result of the attack.

The editor of a local English-language newspaper in Playa del Carmen says shootings are “very, very rare” in the Riviera Maya and almost never involve tourists.

Rebecca Page, who is American, says the general feeling among expats she has spoken to is that the shooting was “an isolated event and they have no plans to leave or change the way they are living their day to day lives here.”

“I feel no less safe today than I did before this happened,” she added in a Facebook message.

Maggie Bearden lives in Saskatoon and travels to Mexico once or twice a year, and says she feels as safe there as she does at home.

She sees no reason to change her plans to travel to Playa del Carmen in March, saying tourists are rarely the targets of crime.

“The people largely are warm and welcoming and so friendly, and it’s such an easy and economical destination, I will continue to go there, with no qualms,” she said in an email.

Mexican authorities said Tuesday they were investigating whether extortion, street-level drug sales or a murder plot was the motive behind the shooting at the nightclub where an electronic music festival’s closing party was being held.

The five people who died included 49-year-old Kirk Wilson, of Hamilton, one American, one Italian and two Mexicans. Fifteen people suffered injuries, including at least two Canadians and two Americans.

Kevin O’Leary to enter federal Conservative leadership race

The Canadian Press, News Staff | posted Wednesday, Jan 18th, 2017

Kevin O’Leary has announced he is running for the Conservative leadership, suggesting that as a businessman, he is better qualified than Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to work with president-elect Donald Trump.

O’Leary said he intended to run in a video posted to his Facebook page Wednesday morning, moments before making the official announcement on a Toronto television station.

In a statement, O’Leary said Canadians need a prime minister who will kickstart the economy and support business – particularly in light of political changes in the United States.

“Now, with the election of Donald Trump to our south, Canada’s largest trading partner is headed by a businessman with an aggressive strategy that could hurt the Canadian economy. Trudeau doesn’t stand a chance, and we deserve better,” he said.

“Canadians are looking for a prime minister who is not a career politician; a prime minister who will fight for them, and is not afraid to tell them how it is. They also want a prime minister who will be inclusive and not lower themselves to use divisive politics,” he said.

“Since the start of this leadership race I have looked for a candidate with these qualities, but it has become clear that I am the only one that can defeat Trudeau.”

O’Leary – an author and financial guru who became known to many Canadians as a judge on the CBC-TV show “Dragons’ Den” – will be competing against 13 other candidates, including MPs Kellie Leitch, Maxime Bernier and Steven Blaney.

Those already in the race faced off in a French-language debate Tuesday night in Quebec City.

O’Leary, who does not speak French but is now taking lessons, was not at the debate, since he had not officially registered at the time.

He has said the crowded field has reduced the debates, in his words, to “just a bunch of sound bites.”

Tuesday’s debate often saw Bernier the target of his rivals, with Leitch and Blaney in particular taking aim at the former cabinet minister on different topics.

The other participants were Lisa Raitt, Deepak Obhrai, Brad Trost, Chris Alexander, Michael Chong, Erin O’Toole, Andrew Scheer, Pierre Lemieux, Rick Peterson and Andrew Saxton.

5 household items you need to replace right now

Winston Sih | posted Wednesday, Jan 18th, 2017


Replace a pillow every 18 months. Your pillow collects a ton of bacteria through sweat, mould, and dust mites. The average pillow collects up to 350,000 bacteria.



Dish cloth

Replace a dirty dish cloth every week. People typically place a dish cloth on a kitchen counter when damp – perfect for germs to multiply. 89 per cent of dish towels are contaminated with E. coli, according to a study.  Wash them at 60 C to extend their life, but remember to replace them regularly.




Replace sponges weekly. More than 10 million germs per square inch are on a used sponge.



Contact lens case

Replace every three months. Studies have shown that cases collect bacteria through the moisture in the solution – not good as your eyes are the most sensitive part of your body.




Replace every two weeks. Moisture, hair residue, foam encourage mould and bacteria to multiply. Instead, replace regularly, store them in a container, and wash with alcohol after every use.

Report: Blue Jays agree to one-year deal with Jose Bautista

Sportsnet | posted Tuesday, Jan 17th, 2017

The Toronto Blue Jays have agreed to re-sign Jose Bautista to a one-year contract that includes a mutual option for 2018, according to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.

The deal, which has not been announced by the team, would complete a reunion that seemed highly unlikely as recently as last month. It’s valued above the $17.2 million qualifying that Bautista declined at the beginning of the off-season, according to Jon Heyman.

After joining the Blue Jays in a seemingly minor 2008 trade, Bautista became one of the game’s most feared power hitters. The 36-year-old ranks second in Blue Jays history with 265 home runs behind only Carlos Delgado and ninth in games played with 1,078.

Injuries limited Bautista to just 116 games in 2016, when he hit .234 with 22 home runs and an OPS of .817. He generated 1.4 Wins Above Replacement, his lowest total as a member of the Blue Jays.

A reunion provides a local boost for the Blue Jays after the loss of Edwin Encarnacion and an off-season that to this point is highlighted by the signings of Kendrys Morales and Steve Pearce.

Bautista’s return seemed highly unlikely through most of the off-season as the Blue Jays extended him a qualifying offer and then did very little other negotiating with him.

Being tied to draft pick compensation surely impacted his market given that he’s entering his age 36 season after a pair of DL stints limited his production last year. The Blue Jays, who gained a first-round selection when Encarnacion signed with Cleveland, surrender the pick Bautista would have fetched them as they try to maximize their current window of opportunity.

Bautista was by far the best offensive player left on the free agent market and offered a significant upgrade for several teams.

That the Blue Jays seem to have slow-played him before making him a leverage add weeks before spring training is also intriguing.

Rather than come out aggressively in an attempt to re-sign him the way they did with Encarnacion and Brett Cecil, they left Bautista to linger, creating the impression they weren’t all that interested in bringing back one of the top players in franchise history.

The Blue Jays are believed to have in the area of $160 million to spend, and still need a backup catcher and left-handed reliever.

— With files from Shi Davidi

Toronto senior who killed fellow nursing home resident sentenced to life in prison

The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Jan 17th, 2017

A Toronto senior who used his cane to kill a fellow long-term care home resident more than three years ago has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 10 years.

Peter Brooks, 76, was found guilty last month of second-degree murder in the death of 72-year-old Jocelyn Dickson.

He was also charged with the attempted murder of another fellow resident, 91-year-old Lourdes Missier, but was found not guilty on that charge.

Homicide Det. Sgt. Wayne Banks called the sentencing a “just decision.”

The judge in her decision “basically said that Mr. Brooks was a dangerous person to society a the time of the offence, he’s a dangerous person to society now,” Banks told a news conference.

“We can’t predict what the future will be but that will be up to the parole board to decide in 10 years’ time,” he said.

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