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1 person seriously injured in Eglinton West fire

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Apr 3rd, 2018

One person is in hospital following a fire at a residence in the Eglinton West area.

Toronto Fire responded to a call around 4:20 a.m. Monday near Eglinton Avenue West and Keele Street.

Paramedics transported one person to a burn centre with serious injuries to the hand.

Officials said the fire began in the basement and was quickly extinguished.

There has been no word on what caused the fire.

More to come

Kremlin: Trump invited Putin to White House, but no date set

The Associated Press | posted Tuesday, Apr 3rd, 2018

An aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday that U.S. President Donald Trump invited the Russian leader to the White House when they spoke by telephone last month, but the two countries haven’t started any preparations for such a visit.

Trump and Putin had a telephone conversation on March 20 in which Trump congratulated Putin on winning the Russian presidential election two days earlier. The White House and the Kremlin said at the time the two presidents discussed meeting in person.

Trump specifically invited Putin to the White House during the call, Putin aide Yuri Ushakov told Russian news agencies Monday.

However, their governments didn’t have time to start arranging a meeting before the United States joined Britain and more than two dozen allies in sanctioning Russia over the nerve-agent poisoning of a Russian ex-spy in England, Ushakov said.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed that Trump invited Putin to Washington during the call, but said the White House was among “a number of potential venues” the two leaders discussed for a bilateral meeting.

“As the President himself confirmed on March 20, hours after his last call with President Putin, the two had discussed a bilateral meeting in the ‘not-too-distant future’ at a number of potential venues, including the White House,” Sanders said, adding that the administration had no further comment on the matter.

Some Republican lawmakers criticized Trump for making the congratulatory call to Putin. Trump defended his decision on Twitter, saying President Barack Obama did the same in 2012.
During the call, Trump didn’t raise Russia’s meddling in U.S. elections or its suspected involvement in the poisoning of the former spy and his daughter in Britain.

Pride Toronto requests Toronto Police withdraw parade application

News Staff and Daniela Germano, The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Apr 3rd, 2018

Pride Toronto is calling on the Toronto police to withdraw their application to participate in the 2018 Pride Parade at the end of June.

A statement was released on their Twitter Monday evening, citing the investigation that resulted in Bruce MacArthur being charged as one of the main reasons for their request this year.

It was co-signed by the executive directors of The 519, Toronto People With AIDS Foundation, Sherbourne Health Centre, ASAAP, Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention (Black CAP).

Toronto police confirmed that it had submitted an application to participate in this summer’s parade at the end of March.

Police spokesperson Meaghan Gray told CityNews in an email that she’s hopeful police will be back after their controversial absence last summer.

The Pride Toronto statement says they recognize steps have been taken to work in collaboration, but, “the relationship cannot be mended through a parade. Marching won’t contribute towards solving these issues.”

In recent months, relations between the police and the city’s LGBTQ community have become strained over the handling of the case involving accused serial killer Bruce McArthur.

The 66-year-old landscaper has been charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of six men, some of whom have been connected to Toronto’s gay village.

In the statement, Pride Toronto says the investigations into the men’s disappearances were “insufficient” and community fears that a serial killer was targeting men in the gay village area were “dismissed” by police, adding that the “disappearances and deaths of Alloura Wells and Tess Ritchie also speak to the marginalization of our communities and the silencing of our concerns.”

The statement says the community’s trust in Toronto police “cannot be mended through a parade.”

Last month, the Toronto Police Services Board approved an external review on how police handled the cases of missing men in the gay village.

“We recognize steps have been taken to work in collaboration and consultation to understand what we need to be safe. This will not be accomplished in one day,” the Toronto Pride statement said. “Marching won’t contribute towards solving these issues; they are beyond the reach of symbolic gestures.”

Meanwhile, LGBTQ advocates have said that locals who tried to share information with police about some of the missing men in the gay village were not necessarily taken seriously by officers.

“The individual stories and lived experiences of each of these people were unique. But what they did share was that the investigations into their disappearances were insufficient, community knowledge and expertise was not accessed and despite the fact that many of us felt and voiced our concerns, we were dismissed,” the Toronto Pride statement said.

“We feel more vulnerable than ever.”

McArthur was arrested in January and charged with the murders of Andrew Kinsman and Selim Esen, who went missing in 2017. Since then, he was charged with the first-degree murder of Majeed Kayhan, Soroush Mahmudi, Dean Lisowick and Skandaraj Navaratnam.

Last year, members voted at a Pride Toronto’s annual general meeting to adopt Black Lives Matter demands, including the banning of police floats from Pride marches and parades.

Chief Mark Saunders later voluntarily bowed out.

“We understand the LGBTQ communities are divided,” he said in a statement. “To enable those differences to be addressed, I have decided the Toronto Police Service will not participate, this year, in the Pride parade.”

Toronto police have not responded to Pride Toronto’s request.

Shooting victim walks into Etobicoke hospital

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Apr 3rd, 2018

Police are investigating after a man walked into an Etobicoke hospital with a gunshot wound to the leg.

The man in his 30s arrived at the hospital around 5:30 a.m. Monday and is not cooperating with police.

Police from 23 division are working to determine the location of the shooting and the circumstances surrounding it.

More to come

TPH warns of possible needle contamination at Scarborough health fair

BT Toronto | posted Monday, Apr 2nd, 2018

Toronto Public Health officials are asking anyone who attended a health fair in Scarborough last weekend to follow up with their health care provider due to possible needle contamination.

TPH says it received a complaint that the needle / lancet used for blood glucose testing conducted at the Vision Infinite Foundation health fair at Scarborough Village Recreation Centre on March 25 was not consistently changed between patients.

“While certain viruses carried in the blood, such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and HIV can be passed through re-use of lancets, the chances of these viruses being passed are very low,” the agency said an email to CityNews. “As a precautionary measure, TPH recommended for those individuals to follow up with a health care provider.”

The city’s health agency says it called all those potentially affected as well as notifying them in writing. TPH did not give an exact number of how many people were at risk.

Beaches-East York MPP Arthur Potts and Scarborough-Guildwood MPP Mitzie Hunter both attended the event. Potts even tweeted a photo of himself being tested.

Anyone who attended the health fair and has questions can call Toronto Public Health at 416-338-8400 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, or 311 after business hours.

Niagara regional police investigate group sexual assault in downtown area

The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Apr 2nd, 2018

Police in southern Ontario are investigating an apparent group sexual assault in Niagara Falls.

The Niagara Regional Police Service says it happened in the early hours of Saturday morning in the city’s busy downtown, near the intersection of Clifton Hill and Victoria Ave.

Police say a woman was walking down a laneway in the area at about 3 a.m. when she was “accosted and sexually assaulted” by a group of five men.

The woman did not suffer any life-threatening injuries, but she was treated at a local hospital.

Police have released descriptions for all five suspects, all of whom are thought to be in their late 20s.

Four are described as black and the fifth as “Hispanic.” One of the suspects was wearing a black and red Toronto Raptors ball cap, while another wore a T-shirt with a logo resembling a horseshoe.

Anyone with information is asked to call Niagara regional police.

Teenager killed in Hamilton bus crash

The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Apr 2nd, 2018

Hamilton police say a 19-year-old man is dead after his car was struck by a city bus on Saturday.

Police say the incident happened just before midnight when the man’s Nissan crossed into the oncoming lane of traffic.

The driver of the vehicle was fatally injured and was pronounced dead in hospital.

Police say three passengers in the Nissan were taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

The bus driver and two passengers were uninjured.

Officers are still investigating the collision, and have asked any witnesses to contact the police service.

Female-centred ride-hailing apps on the rise in spite of hurdles, women say

Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Apr 2nd, 2018

The women behind the slowly growing number of ride-hailing apps catering to female passengers and drivers say the hurdles they’ve had to overcome to get their services on the road demonstrate exactly why they’re necessary in the first place.

Women from Halifax to Vancouver Island have tried to launch female-only alternatives to services such as Uber and Lyft, but most have run into barriers ranging from municipal regulations to societal attitudes.

The founders of the handful of such services currently operating say they’re experiencing incredible demand from women seeking a greater sense of safety in their daily travels.

They say it’s common for women to feel uncomfortable riding alone with strangers, but some recent high-profile cases involving sexual assault allegations against drivers have further highlighted the need to provide an alternative.

A female ride-hailing service got rolling in Toronto in mid March, while efforts are underway in at least three other cities to either get a similar service off the ground or expand the range of one that already exists.

The women say attitudes of city officials and local residents have made their efforts feel like an exhausting fight, but they’re determined to carry on.

“The fact that you have a problem with this … proves that we cannot have anything for ourselves without getting shamed for it,” said Aisha Addo, founder of Toronto ride-hailing service DriveHer.

Addo said the idea for the service provided by and for women came to her one night while driving alone with a licensed male cab driver to a suburb west of the city.

She said the chatty driver began asking her increasingly personal questions, such as her dating status and whether or not she lived alone. She said his questions persisted even after she called a female friend in a bid to deflect his attention.

She asked the driver to drop her a block or two from home and eventually arrived safely, but said the experience alerted her to the need for more choice in the city’s transportation sector.

The eventual launch of DriveHer, which opened for business in mid-March, has persuaded Addo that she’s on the right track.

More than a hundred female drivers signed up to participate, she said, and the response among passengers has been even more striking — the app has been downloaded more than 3,000 times on Android and iOS in the past two weeks.

But the warm reception she’s received since the launch contrasted with the resistance she faced when trying to get the project off the ground.

Addo said the greatest challenge was convincing people that DriveHer was not discriminatory, and she had to engage a human rights lawyer to make that case to city officials before the service could launch.

That lawyer, Saron Gebresellassi, said in an email that DriveHer is “entirely compliant with provincial human rights legislation.”

In a statement sent to city officials and provided to The Canadian Press, Gebresellassi explained that the company helps promote “substantive equality” as it addresses inequities experienced by women accessing transportation services.

Gebresellassi also noted that the city of Toronto offers an array of activities and social services solely for women, including shelters and counselling.

But municipal officials weren’t the only ones who needed persuading, Addo said. She’s been confronted by men who insist the DriveHer app violates their rights — an argument that doesn’t hold water for Marcy Segal, a Toronto-based criminal lawyer and women’s rights advocate.

“There’s no prejudice to the men,” Segal said, adding that gender-designated services such as shelters and washrooms exist without controversy.

“They’re not going to be stranded. There’s other alternatives for them to get around…. Men aren’t being persecuted by not availing themselves of this taxi service.”

The website for DriveHer addresses the question of how it handles male passengers who are travelling with female companions.

A “Frequently Asked Questions” section says it’s up to the driver whether to take them or “refer them to another service,” such as Uber or a traditional taxi.

Some feminists, too, balk at the idea of gender-segregated transportation options, which have gained traction around the world.

Some countries, including China and Mexico, have gone so far as to designate women-only subway cars decked out in pink and intended to provide female passengers greater safety on public transit.

Julie Lalonde, director of the Ottawa chapter of anti-harassment group Hollaback, said many women feel gender-specific options do little to address the root causes of why women feel unsafe in their travels.

She said some feminists also fear they exacerbate the risk that victims of assault may be blamed for their ordeal if they opt to take the mainstream option instead of the gender-specific alternative.

Lalonde said she believes there’s room for both perspectives.

“Women should do whatever makes them feel safe, and so to me things like DriveHer are short-term solutions,” she said. “But I’m interested in that broader, long-term work of ensuring that all forms of transit are safe for everyone.”

Some of the ride-hailing services launched in Canada have proven to be short-term options for entirely different reasons.

The CabShe service in Kitchener, Ont. operated briefly before being shut down due to municipal licensing requirements. A post on the organization’s Facebook page indicates the women behind it are working to resolve the issue and hope to be up and running again by this spring.

Meantime, residents of Vancouver Island may soon have a female-only service available if the three women behind it can secure the necessary approvals.

Other services have launched successfully and are operating today. In Winnipeg, Ikwe Safe Ride offers a service geared towards Indigenous women and children.

And since June 2017, Lady DriveHer has been doing a booming business in Halifax. Earlier that year, a cab driver was acquitted of sexually assaulting a female passenger, despite police testimony that she was partially naked in the back of the vehicle and far from her home or pickup address. An appeal court ordered a new trial for the man earlier this year.

Lady DriveHer Founder Crissy McDow said city rules have kept her from serving the entire city, but she and her 11 fellow female drivers currently find work 24 hours a day taking passengers to and from the city airport.

She said “her ladies,” who are outnumbered more than 15 to one by male drivers, now face bullying and sabotage from the men with whom they used to peacefully share the road. But McDow said her phone is “ringing off the hook” with requests from men and women alike, strengthening her resolve to expand the service as soon as she can.

“I think it’s time the public knows there are women operating in a male-dominated industry,” she said. “You have a choice now.”

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