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Liberals to reveal new allegations against Doug Ford in membership controversy

News Staff | posted Thursday, May 24th, 2018

There are new allegations implicating Ontario PC leader Doug Ford in another nomination and membership controversy.

In a brief statement issued Wednesday night, the Ontario Liberals say they plan to release a recording Thursday morning of Ford and Etobicoke Centre PC candidate Kinga Surma. However, no further details were provided as to what is contained in the recording.

CityNews attempted to reach Surma for comment regarding the allegations but did not receive an answer.

According to her website, Surma’s association with Ford dates all the way back to 2010 while she was working on his Rob Ford’s mayoral election campaign.

After losing out to Justin Di Ciano in the 2014 municipal elections in Ward 5 Etobicoke-Lakeshore, Surma went to work for Christine Elliot as she ran for the leadership of the Ontario PC party. Following Patrick Brown’s victory in the leadership contest, she joined his office in the role of Caucus Relations.

Surma captured the PC nomination in Etobicoke Centre in November 2016, drawing praise from Brown for her experience working at all three levels of government and for “being a tireless conservative activist.”

Ford has been under attack since allegations surfaced last week that Tory candidates may have used stolen customer information obtained as part of a data breach from a toll highway operator.

The controversy has already resulted in Brampton East candidate Simmer Sandhu’s abrupt resignation shortly after 407 Express Toll Route issued a statement about what it called an “internal theft of customer data” affecting 60,000 people.

Sandu was a former employee of the company.

When asked if the stolen data was used by some candidates to win nomination races, Ford said the party was “looking into this” and that questions on other candidates would have to be directed to them.

“This goes back to Patrick Brown,” Ford said at a campaign event last weekend. “You want to get answers on this, Patrick Brown was the leader under this whole group of people.”

NDP, Tories tied at 37 per cent support, new poll suggests

Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, May 24th, 2018

The New Democrats have the same 37 per cent voter support as the Progressive Conservatives even though most people believe the Tories will win the Ontario election come June 7, a new poll suggests.

According to the Leger poll being released Thursday, the struggling Liberals trail with 21 per cent support.

While a sizable number of voter— more than one third of those asked — have yet to make a final decision about where their X will go come voting day, the survey indicates Andrew Horwath and her New Democrats are far and away the favoured second choice of voters.

The poll finds that 63 per cent of Liberals would vote NDP as second choice, while 40 per cent of Tories now led by Doug Ford said the same.

Leger executive vice-president Christian Bourque said that’s a reflection of the antipathy respondents feel toward the Liberals, led by Kathleen Wynne.

“You can move from right to left as long as you avoid the Liberals,” Bourque said in an interview. “What I’m seeing here is that if there is still movement between now and election day — or even over the last weekend — it should favour the NDP at this point in the game.”

Horwath also leads handily in terms of who voters think would make the best premier. In all, 28 per cent of those asked named her, while 23 per cent — most men — said Ford. Wynne earned the nod from a mere 12 per cent. Horwath’s approval rating crosses all age groups.

Additionally, asked which leader has run the best campaign, 34 per cent opted to name Horwath, while 23 per cent gave Ford the nod and only nine per cent chose Wynne. Even among Conservative supporters, 59 per cent said Ford had run the best campaign.

“That’s not a whopping number,” Bourque said. “If you look at the Liberals, only 39 per cent feel Kathleen Wynne has led the best campaign.”

Bourque says the belief the Conservatives will win — 40 per cent indicated as much while just 13 per cent said the same for the other two parties — is likely a reflection of a narrative in place for month.

“That’s what they’ve been told since the start of the campaign — that the Ontario PCs would win,” Bourque said. “It’s probably fuelled the NDP vote (and) it probably takes the Liberals out of the equation.”

Despite Horwath’s performance and her party’s favoured second-choice status among supporters of the other two parties, Bourque said it is still too unpredictable to predict the New Democrats will end up in first place — at least in terms of the popular vote.

“It’s all up for grabs,” Bourque said.

The online Leger survey of 1,008 people eligible to vote in the Ontario election was done May 18 to May 22. The company says it used 2016 census data to weight the results by age, sex, mother tongue, region and education to ensure what it says is a representative sample of the population.

However, the polling industry’s professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error as they are not a random sample and therefore are not necessarily representative of the whole population.

City to use two college dorms to help with refugee housing crisis

News Staff | posted Thursday, May 24th, 2018

The city of Toronto has activated an emergency plan to provide temporary housing for the increasing number of refugee claimants arriving in Toronto.

James Kilgour, the director of Emergency Management for the city, says they will turn dorms at two Toronto colleges into temporary housing until the beginning of August.

Starting on Thursday, 400 beds at Centennial College Residence and Conference Centre in Scarborough will be used to temporarily house refugee claimants and new arrivals. Then on June 1, another 400 beds will become available at Humber College in Etobicoke.

Once students return for the start of school in the fall, the city says it will turn to municipal facilites, including community centres, to accommodate new arrivals.

The provincial government says it will commit up to half of the $6.3-million total cost of operating the contingency sites for the next 75 days. Most of those funds will be put towards Red Cross staffing costs.

“Toronto has a long history of welcoming refugees but the City can no longer absorb the cost and impact of the increasing numbers of refugee claimants coming into the country,” Mayor John Tory said in a statement.

“We have triggered our emergency protocol to help these families in their time of need, with some support from the Government of Ontario, but require the federal government to take immediate steps to permanently relieve this unprecedented pressure on the City’s shelter system.”

The city says as of April 19, 368 refugee claimants have entered the City’s shelter system and at the current rate of arrivals, the city projects that refugee claimants will represent more than 54 per cent of the City’s shelter population by November.

OPP lays over 11,000 driving charges in the week leading up to Victoria Day

The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, May 24th, 2018

Provincial police say they laid more than 11,000 charges on Ontario highways during the week ending in the Victoria Day long weekend.

Officers say that total includes more than 10,600 speeding charges, about 175 of which were for driving 50 km/h or more over the speed limit.

They say both those figures are higher than in the same period last year.

Police say they also laid 726 seat belt charges, 424 distracted driving charges, and 124 impaired driving charges over the course of Canada Road Safety Week, which ran from May 15 to 21.

They say a road death that occurred in western Ontario last week is still under investigation.

Two more people died in an incident involving an off-road vehicle in northeastern Ontario.

Leaders campaigning for June 7 election in north, southwest and Toronto Wednesday

The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018

The major party leaders are spreading out across the province today as they campaign for the June 7 election in the face of polls indicating the New Democrats are on the rise as the governing Liberals falter.

Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne is to make an announcement in Toronto this morning, then head to Sudbury for an event at a distillery, and meet with supporters this evening in Thunder Bay.

Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford will be campaigning in the southwest, making an announcement in Woodslee and then heading to Kingsville for a meet and greet before attending a rally this evening in Chatham.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is in Toronto today where she’ll tour Seneca College this morning and then attend a town hall with young people this evening.

Two recent polls suggest the New Democrats now have the most support, along with the Progressive Conservatives. In the months before the campaign, polls had shown the Tories with a hefty lead, followed by the Liberals and the NDP.

Wynne — whose Liberals have fallen to third place in the polls — said at a campaign stop in Toronto on Tuesday that she was “not under any illusion that this is not a challenging election” for her party.

Pot-laced snacks brought to same elementary school twice

The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018

Durham police are hoping to educate parents after kids brought marijuana-laced snacks to the same elementary school on two separate occasions.

Police say on May 14, a Grade 6 student brought home-baked pot cookies to the Oshawa school as a treat.

They say that after eating the cookies, four young students — aged 11 and 12 — reported feeling “dizzy and euphoric.”

Investigators say they’ve learned that a parent had made the cookies for their spouse, who has a medical marijuana license and the cookies ended up in the student’s backpack by mistake.

The Children’s Aid Society was also called in to conduct a review as a part of the investigation

Police say that in a “completely separate incident involving other kids the week before,” THC-laced gummy bears were consumed in the same elementary school.

They say four kids in Grades 7 and 8 — aged 12 and 13 — reported feeling dizzy and euphoric after eating a gummy bear one of the students brought.

Investigators say they don’t yet know how the student got the gummy bears, as they were not made at home.

Police say they’re investigating the incidents, and have also taken the time to educate parents about “the dangers and risks of consuming psychoactive chemicals at such an early age.”

The Durham District School Board describes the incidents as “isolated” and said a police youth officer continues to monitor the situation.

The school board said Tuesday in a release that its schools “work proactively to educate students on the negative effects of drug use, misuse and abuse.”

“Drug use by students is a serious matter and is dealt with as such through progressive discipline and police intervention as necessary,” it said.

Canadian government spending tens of millions on Facebook ads, boosted posts

The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018

New figures tabled in Parliament show the federal government has been increasing its use of paid Facebook ads over the last three years, spending tens of millions of dollars on boosted posts, videos and ad campaigns.

From 2016 to March 2018, federal government departments and agencies spent more than $24.4 million on Facebook and Instagram ads, promotions and boosted posts and videos.

The data includes a breakdown of spending by each government department and agency, showcasing a growing government reliance on Facebook for promoting events and publicizing key government messages and policy initiatives.

Government justifies the expense, saying it needs to reach people where they are — and more than 20 million people in Canada use digital platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

But Bob Cox, chair of News Media Canada and publisher of the Winnipeg Free Press, wonders why the government is using Canadian taxpayer dollars to support non-Canadian digital companies like Facebook and Google.

Cox argues that doing so not only hurts Canadian media companies already suffering from dwindling subscribers and advertising revenues, but also means millions of dollars are leaving the Canadian economy.

Ontario party leaders campaign in the GTA on Tuesday

The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

With a little more than two weeks left before Ontario voters cast their ballots on June 7, all three major party leaders will stick close to the GTA on Tuesday.

Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne will make an announcement at a mental health hospital in Toronto before heading to a downtown variety store and an evening interview with TV network CP24.

Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford is scheduled to make announcements at a Toronto hotel and at a Royal Canadian Legion in Pickering, where he will also hold an evening rally.

New Democrat Leader Andrea Horwath will visit an apprenticeship program in Toronto’s west end in the morning, then hold a roundtable with young people at a downtown cafe.

On the campaign trail Monday, Horwath responded to calls from the Liberals to adjust the NDP platform, saying the party will stick with their platform even though it will cost $1.4 billion more per year than originally expected.

Wynne said Horwath has a responsibility to correct the error — in which the NDP counted a $700-million reserve fund as revenue rather than as an expense — as soon as possible. But Horwath said the party remains committed to it’s platform and will deliver on all promises.

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