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Ontario surveys university and college students on sexual violence

Peter Goffin, The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Mar 26th, 2018

Students at post-secondary institutions across Ontario are taking part in a survey on sexual violence as part of the province’s efforts to combat sexual assault and harassment on campus.

The online survey is made up of over 50 questions that gauge respondents’ perceptions of consent and rape myths, their experiences with sexual violence, and how well they think their school responds to reports of sexual violence.

Ontario’s minister of advanced education and skills development said the province commissioned the survey to improve how the issue is dealt with.

“Research shows that sexual violence is consistently under-reported and really lacks consistent data,” Mitzie Hunter said in an interview.

“This survey is one component of a multifaceted strategy that we’ve developed here at the province to better understand and respond to sexual violence and harassment on campus, and frankly to change the culture and the climate around this issue.”

Legislation that came into effect Jan. 1, 2017, made it mandatory for all universities and colleges in the province to have policies that lay out rules and guidelines for reporting, investigating and disciplining sexual violence.

“We are doing the survey to get better data and equip institutions with the information they need to make changes,” Hunter explained. “We know there is more work to be done for sure and we are committed to doing that work.”

The Student Voices on Sexual Violence Survey is open to undergraduate and graduate students at universities, colleges and private post-secondary vocational schools. Eligible respondents were emailed an invitation to the survey.

University students have access to the survey until Monday, while college students have until April 2 to send in their responses. Students at private vocational colleges completed the survey between Feb. 16 and March 16.

The results will be compiled, analysed and shared with post-secondary school administrations in the summer, Hunter said. Some of the data will be made public, though the government has not yet determined which parts that will include, the minister added.

At least one advocacy group is criticizing the survey, however, saying it does not address certain issues and may be difficult for some students to understand.

“There was a lot of confusion (among students) when filling out the survey,” said Jade Cooligan Pang, a Carleton University student and one of the organizers of Our Turn, a Canada-wide organization that works to prevent sexual violence on campus

“There was a significant lack of definitions — for example the definition of consent is not part of the survey. The survey does not necessarily discuss institutional harms that might have taken place, or any retraumatization a survivor may have experienced when reporting to their post-secondary institution.”

Cooligan Pang said she and other Our Turn leaders met with Hunter on March 20 to discuss the roadblocks survivors often face when trying to tell university or college officials about a sexual assault.

“We know for a fact that some students are being told they are unable to file a formal complaint with their post-secondary institution,” Cooligan Pang said. “These numbers are not reported because an investigation never takes place.”

Our Turn has called on the province to create a set of “minimum standards” for supports and services related to dealing with sexual violence and assault, and an oversight mechanism for the way schools handle such reports.

It is also important to give survivors of sexual violence a means of reporting their experiences anonymously, Cooligan Pang said.

“Anonymous reporting provides survivors who are not ready to go through a formal compliant or police investigation with a way of reporting so that people are aware what is happening in the community without having to go through the taxing process of a formal report,” she said.

Sharing a story of sexual assault or harassment in an anonymous forum can be therapeutic for survivors, noted Karen Kelsky, a U.S. anthropologist who created and circulated a survey for post-secondary students, researchers and instructors to anonymously report recent and historical allegations of sexual violence perpetrated by faculty members.

“The #MeToo movement prompted women to begin to tell their stories anonymously,” she said. “As they told their stories anonymously, they said, ‘I’ve never told this story to anyone and it is such a relief and so healing to me to tell it even though I’m not naming names.’”

Wrong-way driver triggers 3-vehicle crash on Gardiner

BT Toronto | posted Monday, Mar 26th, 2018

A driver heading the wrong way on the Gardiner Expressway triggered a three-vehicle crash that shut down part the expressway for more than two hours.

The crash happened in the westbound lanes near the South Kingsway exit around 2:30 a.m. on Monday.

The driver, a 67-year-old man, was eastbound in the westbound lanes when he crashed into a truck, and then struck a concrete barrier.

The driver and another person were taken to hospital with minor injuries.

So far, there is no word if any charges will be laid.

Surprises abound in upbeat Junos Awards show

The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Mar 26th, 2018

It was a night of positivity and resilience at the Juno Awards as the stars of Canadian music focused on celebrating the upsides of life.

Host Michael Buble set the tone early on Sunday night by announcing his wife’s third pregnancy – but other performers were quick to grab the tide of optimism during their own stage moments.

“I just hope that we can all rise above negativity in our lives and just do what we believe in,” said Arcade Fire’s Win Butler as the accepted the band’s album award for “Everything Now.”

“Speak your truth and don’t be afraid to just do whatever the hell you want.”

Gord Downie’s brothers Mike and Patrick accepted a posthumous award for the singer, who died last October of brain cancer.

“If we’ve learned anything from Gord it was the value of taking care of each other,” said Patrick.

“This is Gord’s award. It’s artist of the year, but he was our man of a lifetime. I’d like to believe we’re all better artists and people because of him. We love you Gord and we’re all taking good care of each other.”

Buble later returned alongside Diana Krall on the piano to sing the upbeat Nat King Cole classic “L-O-V-E.”

Daniel Caesar grabbed R&B/soul recording for his album “Freudian” while Jessie Reyez scored breakthrough artist. She offered an emotional acceptance speech reflecting on her sudden rise to fame.

“It means so much to get this love out at home,” she said. “Hell ya, to be Canadian say ‘Yah.”’

Both performers reappeared later to duet on Reyez’s song “Figures.”

It was a number of surprises throughout the show.

Buble used his hosting spot to announce he’s expecting another child with his wife, actress Luisana Lopilato. He told the audience it was the second time her pregnancy has been linked to the Junos.

Five years ago when he hosted in Regina she was expecting their first child.

“Oops you did it again!” Buble said as the audience cheered the revelation.

Grimes and Buffy St. Marie introduced pop artist Lights with an impassioned speech led by the Indigenous folk singer.

“It’s time for change, it’s time for women to be recognized for our accomplishments and our value to this industry,” St. Marie said with powerful delivery.
“We need to build a foundation upon which we can support an environment that actually encourages success for women… because it’s not here yet.”

Barenaked Ladies and former bandmate Steven Page were inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. The band reuinted with Page to perform together for the first time since Page went solo nearly a decade ago. They sang a brief tune when accepting their award, then closed the show with a performance of their hits.

A posthumous tribute to Gord Downie was led by Sarah Harmer and Dallas Green, alongside Barenaked Ladies keyboardist Kevin Hearn.

Though the main event is tonight, many awards were handed out at a gala on Saturday.

Full list of winners:

R&B/Soul Recording of the Year: Freudian by Daniel Caesar

Breakthrough Artist of the Year: Jessie Reyez

Rap Recording of the Year: Shooters by Tory Lanez

Canadian Music Hall of Fame: Barenaked Ladies

Album of the Year: Everything Now by Arcade Fire

Juno Fan Choice: Shawn Mendes

Artist of the Year: Gord Downie

Air Canada flight from Toronto makes emergency landing in Washington

The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Mar 26th, 2018

An Air Canada flight from Toronto to Washington was forced to make an emergency landing Sunday evening after smoke was discovered in the cockpit.

Flight 7618 was headed for Ronald Reagan airport when pilots discovered the smoke and diverted to Washington’s Dulles International Airport.

Sky Regional, which operates Air Canada Express, says 63 passengers and four crew members were unharmed after exiting the plane on the tarmac at Dulles.

Images posted online show emergency vehicles parked on the tarmac as passengers gather nearby.

Andrew Trull, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, says passengers were evacuated via an emergency slide and taken to the main terminal.

He says there were no delays as a result of the incident, and all runways are now back up and running normally.

Smoke detectors that might not detect smoke are recalled

News Staff and The Associated Press | posted Friday, Mar 23rd, 2018

North Carolina-based company Kidde, along with Health Canada and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, have recalled nearly 500,000 smoke detectors that might not be able to detect smoke.

This recall involves two models — PI2010CA and PI9010CA — of Kidde dual-sensor photoelectric and ionization smoke alarms manufactured between Sept. 10, 2016, and Oct. 13, 2017. Model numbers can be found on the back of the units.

“A yellow cap left on during the manufacturing process can cover one of the two smoke sensors and compromise the smoke alarm’s ability to detect smoke,” Health Canada says.

Around 40,000 units of the affected products were sold in Canada, while around 452,000 units were sold in in the U.S. The alarms were sold from Nov. 1, 2016, to Jan. 25, 2018.

Kiddle says that as of March 7, they haven’t received any reports of incidents or injuries related to the defected smoke alarms.

Click here for instructions on how to find out if your smoke alarm has the yellow cap.

Anyone with the affected smoke alarms can register for replacements online or by by calling 833-551-7739.

Kidde also recalled 38 million fire extinguishers last year. They had a design flaw that could have prevented them from working and parts of the extinguisher could detach with enough force to pose an impact hazard.

Canadians joining #DeleteFacebook amid fears about electoral meddling: experts

Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Mar 23rd, 2018

Many Canadians are pledging to delete their Facebook accounts as part of an online campaign #DeleteFacebook. The pledge encourages people to permanently log off the site amid mounting concerns that the social media giant is inappropriately sharing users’ information beyond their circle of friends.

Canadian data scientist Christopher Wylie has accused a voter-profiling company of improperly obtaining private Facebook data from some 50 million users in an effort to tip the scales in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign and the U.K.’s Brexit referendum.

Former Ontario privacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian said a data leak of that scale was an “unthinkable proposition” for many Canadians who have long harboured frustrations about Facebook’s apparent lack of safeguards to protect user data from being shared with dubious actors.

“People are very concerned and they feel they’ve lost control, and this just confirms that,” said Cavoukian, who is an expert-in-residence at Ryerson University’s Privacy by Design Centre in Toronto.

In an interview with CityNews, University of Toronto marketing professor David Soberman said this movement will change the way people use the social platform.

“There’s going to be a change in attitude towards Facebook and I think that’s what this is indicative of. You are going to have a lot of people that start thinking twice or three times before they post certain information on Facebook,” says David Soberman.

Social media expert, Wade Sorochen, believes the movement may scare a few, but studies show the majority of facebook users will continue to use the platform.

“Studies show that the majority of people are addicted to social media and Facebook and I don’t think they will delete it at all.

It was meant to be a social platform, but people have taken it so far now. They’ve given so much information about themselves and their children and where they work and where their children go to school, that’s problematic.”

With files from The Associated Press

Toronto’s respite services will remain open beyond April 15

BT Toronto | posted Friday, Mar 23rd, 2018

Due to overwhelming demand, Toronto’s respite services and three Out of the Cold sites will not be closing on their scheduled dates.

Respite services were scheduled to close on April 15 but, according to City of Toronto officials, will be continuing on.

As well, three Out of the Cold sites will extend their programs by one month — until April 30.

Officials say this is a response to the “unprecedented cold winter season and increased demand for emergency shelter services.”

The bitter cold snap this winter left the shelter system in crisis, which left some of the city’s most vulnerable people falling through the cracks.

Shelters were consistently at over capacity and people were even being turned away from the winter respite centres.

Some of the city’s homeless told CityNews at the time that conditions inside the respite shelters were substandard and would lead to people getting sick.

This comes one day after Toronto’s ombudsman says the city gave the homeless and the public outdated, inaccurate and inconsistent information last winter about critically important services.

Susan Opler concluded staff gave two people incorrect information about capacity and turned them away from the respite centres, and that it likely happened more.

She also found unacceptable disparity in the services at the respite centres and at one location it was only 11 C to 14 C. Some locations had no showers and most were not accessible.

Respite centres were supposed to be a Band-Aid for the city’s shelter system but have become a permanent part of the system.

Opler made nine recommendations which included developing a new system to track the occupancy inside winter respites and called on the city to consult with those using the respites to see how they can be improved.

For more information on the city’s homeless services, click here.

With files from Cynthia Mulligan

Senate gives approval in principle to bill to legalize recreational marijuana

Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Mar 23rd, 2018

The Senate gave approval in principle Thursday evening to the federal government’s bill to legalize recreational marijuana, after a tense few days of manoeuvring by Conservative senators hoping to derail one of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s signature election promises.

Bill C-45 passed at second reading by a vote of 44-29.

That does not mean the bill is out of the Senate woods, however. It will now be scrutinized by five different Senate committees, which could recommend amendments, before returning it to the upper house for a final debate and vote by June 7.

Thursday’s vote came hours after Trudeau issued a veiled warning to senators that they should not attempt to thwart the will of Canadians or the government they elected on a platform that included legalization of cannabis.

His warning reflected concern among Liberals that the bill might not survive second reading — a concern triggered by Conservative senators, who were hoping to deliver a double-barrelled embarrassment to Trudeau: upending his promise to legalize marijuana while demonstrating the folly of his efforts to reform the Senate into a less partisan, more independent chamber.

Ordinarily, approval in principle, known as a second-reading vote, is not a big hurdle and is dispensed with on the basis of a quick voice vote so that a bill can be sent to committee.

But, in the case of C-45, the 33 Conservative senators vowed to vote as a bloc against the bill and signalled their intention to insist upon a standing vote, where each senator’s vote is counted.

Although the Conservatives no longer dominate the 105-seat upper house, they had evidently hoped a handful of independent senators would join them and that — combined with a large number of absent independents who were travelling on Senate committee business — would be enough to defeat the bill.

The leadership of the independent senators group scrambled to avoid that outcome, sending a memo Wednesday urging all of its absent members to return to Ottawa in time for the vote and warning that the Conservatives would blame the independents if the bill was defeated.

The vast majority of independents did make it back in time and all of them voted as a bloc, along with unaffiliated and Liberal independent senators, to send the bill to committee.

Conservative whip, Sen. Don Plett, said that proves the independents really make up a partisan caucus that’s whipped to do the government’s bidding, whereas he called the Conservatives “the most independent caucus” even though they too voted as a bloc.

That said, Plett also predicted that some of the independents will ultimately support amendments to the bill or even vote against it.

Sen. Yuen Pau Woo, the leader of the independent senators’ group, said it’s “not extraordinary at all” that all independents would vote to send the bill for thorough scrutiny by committees, which he characterized as doing their constitutional duty to give legislation sober second thought. But he too said that doesn’t mean they’ll all necessarily support the bill in the end, at least not as currently drafted.

“I fully expect that senators from different sides will discuss amendments and that these will be considered seriously by the various committees,” he said.

Sen. Peter Harder, the government’s representative in the Senate, also acknowledged that the bill still faces some potentially big hurdles.

“This is a bill of high interest to the Senate. There are many issues to be dealt with,” he said.

Prior to the vote, Conservative Senate leader Larry Smith said if the bill was defeated, it would be because Trudeau’s reforms mean the government can no longer rely on senators appointed by the prime minister to support government legislation; it wouldn’t be because of partisan games played by the Conservatives.

“It has nothing to do with partisanship,” Smith insisted.

“It has everything to do with Sen. Harder, as the government representative, trying to implement Prime Minister Trudeau’s new system, which has holes in it. … They have to get their troops organized to make sure they get the vote they want.”

Smith outlined five key areas of concern to Conservative senators about the cannabis bill: its impact on young people, public security and Indigenous people, the absence of a public education campaign and the lack of police preparedness to enforce a legalized pot regime, including the absence of a scientific test for drug impaired driving.

One Conservative senator, Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu, bluntly described the bill as a “piece of s—.” He later apologized for his choice of words.

Earlier in the day, Trudeau said he expects the unelected Senate to scrutinize and suggest improvements to bills passed by the House of Commons. But he reminded senators that Canadians voted to end the criminal prohibition on cannabis when they elected his Liberal government.

“It is very clear that this bill responds first to an electoral promise that we made very clearly during the election campaign and for which Canadians voted,” he said following an event in New Brunswick.

The criminal cannabis regime has not protected Canadian kids, who are among the highest under-age users of marijuana in developed countries, and has put up to $7 billion every year in the pockets of organized crime, Trudeau said.

“The current system does not work. … This is not something that Canadians want to see continued.”

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