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Toronto diner makes cameo in Oscar-winning ‘The Shape of Water’

Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Mar 7th, 2018

Toronto’s historic Lakeview Restaurant is open to all kinds of characters, from a cocktail-slinging Tom Cruise to John Travolta in drag and Sally Hawkins as the mute paramour of an escaped merman.

Known to locals for its late-night comfort fare, the west-end diner has racked up an impressive number of film credits over more than 85 years of service, including a cameo in The Shape of Water, which was awarded the Oscar for best picture on Sunday.

Co-owner Fadi Hakim said film crews descend on the Lakeview Restaurant about once every month or two for movie, television and commercial shoots, temporarily shutting down the all-hours eatery.

“It is an iconic diner in the sense that it is a landmark in Toronto,” Hakim said in a phone interview this week. “A lot of film scouts really like it because … they don’t have to do a lot to it at all, except maybe rebrand it.”

Hakim said the diner’s wood-panelled decor and vinyl cushioning makes it a “no-brainer” destination for any production scouting locations for period pieces like The Shape of Water, which is set in the 1960s.

“The idea is when you walk in here, you’re instantly transported,” he said. “You can just feel the history of it.”

Academy Award-winning director Guillermo del Toro was so smitten with the diner’s art deco esthetic, he set extra scenes in the greasy spoon, according to Hakim, although it’s unclear how much of the footage made it into the film.

For the Cold War-era fantastical romance, the Lakeview Restaurant was retrofitted into a Dixie-themed pie shop in Baltimore, where one of the film’s characters buys a fridge full of highlighter-hued key lime pies.

Soon after the movie hit theatres, Hakim said the diner had to add key lime pie to its menu so patrons could re-enact the scene in which Hawkins’ mute janitor takes a bite of the dessert and sticks out her green-stained tongue.

He said other customers will jokingly order the dish featured in the 1988 bartending rom-com Cocktail starring Cruise, whose character gets an ample serving of chicken a la king dumped on his head.

Some cinephiles will come to the restaurant just to sit on the same stool where Travolta dined in a pink-sequined dress in the 2007 musical adaptation of Hairspray, or saunter through the doors with the deadly swagger of a mobster in Boondock Saints, Hakim said.

He said the diner has collected cinematic memorabilia from several productions, such as a shard of glass from the door Daniel Craig accidentally shattered while he was filming the 2011 psychological thriller Dream House.

But Hakim tried to distance the restaurant from other less appetizing props, like the lifeless rats that flew past Robert Pattinson’s head in the David Cronenberg-directed thriller Cosmopolis.

“Wasn’t our rat,” said Hakim.

Other stars that have graced the restaurant’s tiled floors on screen include Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Wahlberg, Willem Dafoe and Michelle Williams, and Hakim said many more celebrities have stopped by to eat when the cameras weren’t rolling.

While Toronto often serves as a cinematic stand-in for American cities, Hakim said he thinks the diner’s distinctly Toronto sensibility shines through on the big screen.

Established in 1932, the Lakeview Restaurant has changed hands several times over the decades, but the diner’s mission has stayed the same.

The neon sign out front reads “Always Open,” promising good grub at any hour to a broad cross-section of city-dwellers, Hakim said.

“There is no class separation to it. I think that that ultimately is what certain places in Toronto have,” he said. “It is a bit of a cultural icon that everybody can enjoy, and that’s what I think that diners distinctly can offer.”


AGO warns of possible ‘ticket scams’ for ‘Infinity Mirrors’ exhibit

The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Mar 7th, 2018

Toronto’s Art Gallery of Ontario is warning patrons to beware of possible ticket scams for its massively popular exhibit “Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors.”

In a post on its Twitter account, the AGO notes it’s “the only authorized seller of Infinity Mirrors tickets.”

It adds: “Visitors may be asked to show ID and risk being disappointed by ticket scams and being denied admittance to the exhibition, due to unauthorized duplication or sale of a ticket.”

The AGO is the only Canadian stop for the smash contemporary art show, which has become a sensation on Instagram.

The exhibit features mirror-lined rooms with kaleidoscopic environments alongside the artist’s works.

Timed-entry tickets first went on sale to the public in January and quickly sold out.

Ontario passes first of its kind concussion safety law

The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Mar 7th, 2018

Ontario has passed concussion safety legislation designed to protect amateur athletes and educate coaches about the dangers of head injuries, calling the law the first of its kind in the country.

The bill – named Rowan’s Law in memory of 17-year-old Rowan Stringer who died from rugby injuries – passed with rare all-party support Tuesday.

Rowan’s father, Gordon Stringer, said he hoped the Ontario legislation would lead to reform in other provinces.

“The heavy lifting has been done here in Ontario,” he said. “But this is not something that’s an Ontario issue. This is something that needs to be addressed across Canada.”

The law establishes removal-from-sport and return-to-sport protocols for players to ensure they are taken out of a game if they are suspected of having a concussion. Coaches and teachers will also be required to review online resources that help them identify and manage concussions in players.

The bill also includes a concussion code of conduct that would set out rules of behaviour to minimize concussions while playing sports.

Daiene Vernile, Ontario’s minister of tourism, culture and sport, called the new law a “historic step” that balances the approach to concussion management in amateur sport.

“The Rowan’s Law Act will be a catalyst for longer-term culture change for concussion management and injury prevention in amateur sport and beyond,” she said.

The legislation was created following a coroner’s inquest into Rowan’s 2013 death, adopting its recommendations and the work of a legislative advisory committee on concussion management and prevention.

Rowan died from second impact syndrome after multiple concussions. During the coroner’s inquest her family learned that she had actually Googled “concussion” before she died.

Rowan’s Law was jointly introduced by Progressive Conservative, NDP and Liberal members.

Tory legislator Lisa MacLeod said she was thrilled to see the legislation pass but thought other provinces have been slow to follow Ontario’s lead. She remained hopeful that the federal government will help move concussion safety forward.

MacLeod also praised the Stringer family for their work on the issue and said the involvement of former NHLer Eric Lindros, talking about his experiences, further helped shine on concussion safety.

“We’re talking about concussions now,” she said. “There’s a great deal of awareness when you’re at the hockey rink or the soccer field or the rugby pitch compared to where it was before.”

Lindros called the new law a “blueprint for this entire nation” and said the culture around concussion treatment is changing compared to when he was playing professional hockey.

“It wasn’t spoken of,” he said. “I remember being sent to a migraine specialist and he turned around quickly and said ‘you don’t have migraines. You’ve sustained a concussion.’ … It just wasn’t heard of to take time off.”

Ontario to bring in ‘pay transparency’ bill aimed at closing wage gap

Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Mar 7th, 2018

It’s time to put an end to wage inequality between women and men, Ontario’s premier said Tuesday, as she announced legislation that aims to increase pay transparency in the province.

Kathleen Wynne, whose Liberals have been championing fairness as they bid for re-election this spring, said action was needed on the issue.

“We’ve got to pay attention to the reality of women’s lives,” she said while detailing legislation that was to be introduced Tuesday afternoon. “They still are not paid the same as men are paid. They still, at a very young age, have their horizons limited. We have got to stop doing that to them.”

The wage gap between women and men in Ontario, Wynne said, ranges anywhere between 12 per cent to 29 per cent depending on the workplace.

If passed, the government’s bill would require all publicly advertised job postings to include a salary rate or range, bar employers from asking about past compensation and prohibit reprisal against employees who do discuss or disclose compensation.

It would also create a framework that would require large employers to track and report compensation gaps based on gender and other diversity characteristics, and disclose the information to the province. If a company does not comply with the measures, it could face fines, Wynne said.

“Right now in workplaces there is resentment and hostility because information is not shared,” she said. “There’s suspicion about who is paid what. This policy is targeted exactly at that. I believe that people can deal with real information.”

The pay transparency measures will begin with the Ontario public service before applying to employers with more than 500 employees. It will later extend to those with more than 250 workers.

The proposed legislation is part of the government’s strategy for women’s economic empowerment, which includes up to $50 million in funding over three years.

It is in line with other measures from Wynne’s Liberals that have been centred on fairness and opportunity, such as the province’s increase to minimum wage and expansion of drug coverage for people under age 25.

“The phrase I always use is that government exists to do the things that people can’t do by themselves,” Wynne said. “It is quite clear that individual women are not able to make these changes themselves.”

Ontario Labour Minister Kevin Flynn said the government has looked to other jurisdictions for the basis of its pay transparency legislation, including existing laws in Germany, Australia and the United Kingdom.

“We’re trying to learn as much as we can from the process that’s been employed in other jurisdictions,” he said. “They obviously targeted the larger companies first and went to the medium-sized after that.”

Flynn said other jurisdictions have been able to cut their wage gap to half of Ontario’s levels in a short time using such an approach. For example, Iceland’s wage gap currently ranges from 6 to 18 per cent, according to the Ministry of Labour.

“We figure we can move that quickly and that far within a period of three or four years,” he said. “We’ll be making progress that simply hasn’t been made to date.”

Fay Faraday, co-chair of the Fair Pay Coalition, which has been advocating for pay transparency, said the measures announced Tuesday were “timid” and applied to too few workplaces to be effective.

Faraday said employers have had the legal obligation since the 1960s to pay non-discriminatory wages but “wide-spread non-compliance” with the laws has been allowed to exist because employees must come forward with complaints.

The legislation should be changed to ensure all employers, not just large companies, must prove to the government they’re paying fair wages to workers, she said.

“They’ve had five decades to get their wage structure in order to eliminate discrimination and time’s up,” Faraday said.

New Democrat Cindy Forster called the bill an attempt to shore up votes ahead of the election.

“The Liberal government has failed around pay gender issues for many, many years,” she said. “What I understand from just a first glance at the legislation on pay transparency is that it is a weak piece of legislation that isn’t really going to address the concerns for women.”

Sexual harassment on Parliament Hill long ignored, women say

Maclean's | posted Wednesday, Mar 7th, 2018

On Parliament Hill it’s called the whisper network — a constant murmur of white noise that, until now, has been all too easy to tune out.

Women have long dealt with systemic sexism and harassment on the Hill by ignoring it, downplaying it and by privately venting to confidantes and warning other women to be careful around certain men on elevators, at receptions and after too many drinks.

In 2014 a 19-year-old volunteer for two Liberal MPs recalls a prominent staffer tried to kiss her and bite her ear as she was walking with him up the stairs in Centre Block during working hours.

In another incident, a young tour guide recalls a security officer making a lewd gesture as they rode in an elevator together.

This year, the Hill has been rocked by a number of high profile allegations involving MPs.

Maclean’s spoke with more than 30 women working in various capacities in politics across Canada — including three cabinet ministers and MPs from four parties — about their experiences of verbal and physical sexual harassment in the sector. They all agree that sexual harassment and violence in politics has gone unchecked for too long.

They recounted incidents that span inappropriate comments, like requesting women staffers to wear high heels, to sexual assault. Some are indisputably more heinous than others and, indeed, should not be conflated. But all of it stands to diminish women’s value in politics, and none of it belongs in a workplace purported to be the centre of Canada’s democracy.

Now, as swaths of society demand a cultural correction — a reckoning — parliament is having its own #MeToo moment. “This isn’t anything new,” Labour Minister Patty Hajdu said. “But this is a boiling point.” In November, Hajdu tabled anti-harassment legislation promising to crack down on what she called a crisis of sexual harassment and violence on the Hill. While a positive step, many argue it’s far from the transformation that’s needed.

Read the entire piece on Macleans.ca.

Reports indicate Toronto police interviewed McArthur years before arrest

The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Mar 7th, 2018

Multiple media outlets report that Toronto police had interviewed and released an alleged serial killer years before he was arrested.

The Toronto Star reports that Bruce McArthur was brought in for questioning in 2014, while The Globe and Mail reports that it happened in 2013.

Both newspapers cite anonymous sources and report that McArthur was released without charges.

The 66-year-old self-employed landscaper was arrested in January and now faces six charges of first-degree murder.

Many of his alleged victims were men who disappeared from Toronto’s gay village.

Police began investigating the disappearances in 2012, but the force has been criticized for dismissing the community’s concerns about a possible serial killer.

Toronto nightclub accused of racism for Stir Fry party

Nitish Bissonauth | posted Tuesday, Mar 6th, 2018

Wildflower, an upscale venue inside the Thompson Hotel, is facing social media backlash after hosting an event called Stir Fry.

Some are calling Sunday night’s bash offensive, culturally inappropriate, and even racist, after pictures of an employee surfaced wearing a conical hat and squinting his eyes.

“Really? In 2018? On Oscar night where we are celebrating diversity and inclusiveness? Wow,” said Andrew Shortt, a Creative Strategist and Partner with the firm Radical Quo.

The event Sunday was conceptualized and themed after the latest track from Atlanta-based rap group Migos, called Stir Fry.

And while Stir Fry is doing well for the group, the same can’t be said for Wildflower.

“It’s past cultural appropriation…It’s trying to be fun and have humour, but it’s so racially charged that in 2018, it’s a silly thing to do,” said Shortt.

We reached out to Wildflower for an interview. They wouldn’t appear on camera, but in an email statement, told CityNews:

“We demonstrated poor judgement and we certainly lacked sensitivity … The event was conceptualized and themed after a popular song and was executed without thinking carefully of the repercussions … On behalf of Wildflower, we are sorry and regret our actions.”

They’ve also posted and deleted several apologies on their Instagram account. The latest one, however, still doesn’t have people convinced, with hundred of negative comments pouring in.

One user writes, “Poor judgement? how bout no judgement shame on you.”

Another wrote: “Racism is alive and well in Toronto’s club scene.”

A representative from Wildflower says appropriate action will be taken with the individuals responsible.

Halton police warning residents about distraction thefts

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Mar 6th, 2018

Halton police are reminding residents to keep a close eye on their belongings, after a series of distraction thefts in Burlington and Oakville.

Investigators are looking into at least 47 reports of multiple criminal groups targeting women and seniors at various grocery and retail stores since last November.

In some cases, multiple offenders worked in teams to distract victims, bump their carts or ask for their assistance in a store or parking lot.

Surveillance video released by Halton police shows others waiting for the perfect opportunity to remove items from a victim’s purse or wallet while it’s on a shopping cart.

Investigators have been working with area Loss Prevention Officers to identify the persons responsible which resulted in them being positively identified.

Shoppers are being urged to be aware of their surroundings and on alert of these tactics. If possible, leave items like SIN cards, birth certificates and passports securely at home. If you become a victim, Halton police wants you to contact your financial service providers, cancel your cards and file a criminal report.

So far, one suspect was arrested and released on bail in connection to multiple thefts: 20-year-old Brenda Stojkova of Brampton is facing three counts of theft under $5000, unauthorized use of a credit card and fraud under $5000.

She is scheduled to appear inside a Milton courthouse on April 3.

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