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Ontario government introduces legislation that would end York University strike

The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, May 8th, 2018

Ontario’s governing Liberals have introduced legislation that would end a two-month strike at Toronto’s York University, but acknowledge there is little chance it will pass before the upcoming election.

If passed, the legislation would refer any outstanding issues between the university and some 3,000 graduate teaching assistants, contract faculty and graduate research assistants to binding mediation-arbitration.

The two sides would have five days to agree on a mediator-arbitrator before one is appointed by the minister of labour, the province said.

The strike, which began March 5, has affected tens of thousands of students.

The government had launched a commission to look into the dispute and said Monday the decision to introduce legislation comes on the heels of a report by commissioner William Kaplan, which found the parties had reached an impasse.

Bills must go through three readings in the legislature before becoming law, with debates and often referral to a committee for further consideration, unless all parties agree to support the legislation and skip to what is called a unanimous consent vote.

The New Democrats said Monday they won’t agree to such a vote, and said the Liberal move does nothing to help students or striking faculty.

“This is really a final insult to anyone who fights for students, and anyone who has ever organized for better working conditions,” NDP legislator and labour critic Cindy Forster said in a statement.

Beckie Codd-Downey, spokeswoman for the Government House Leader’s office, said the government reached out to the opposition parties before introducing the legislation.

“Given the time constraints, we will not be able pass this legislation without unanimous consent from the entire legislature, including the NDP,” she said in an email.

“It is disappointing that the NDP is not willing to work with us to find a path forward through which this disruption can be ended and students can be returned to the classroom.”

Tuesday is the last day the House will sit before the start of the provincial election campaign. The province heads to the polls June 7.

The Liberals have been under increasing pressure to intervene in the strike. Close to 40,000 students have seen at least one of their courses affected, according to the province.

York is offering a tuition credit for those who have felt the impact of the work stoppage.

Students who drop out of their fall-winter program can get a credit allowing them to retake the same course, or take a different one, before the end of 2019 without incurring any additional costs.

Toronto Raptors’ season of promise ends in ugly blowout in Cleveland

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, May 8th, 2018



CLEVELAND — After a season to remember, the Toronto Raptors disappeared Monday in a playoff series to forget — put to the sword yet again by the Cleveland Cavaliers.

In a must-win game with their season on the line, the Raptors were eviscerated. LeBron James and the Cavaliers had their way in a 128-93 blowout win to complete a four-game sweep in the Eastern Conference semifinal.

Toronto coach Dwane Casey, who has somehow become both a candidate for coach of the year and one facing the firing line, described his team as drained and “emotionally drunk” after close losses in Games 1 and 3.

When push came to shove Monday, the Cavaliers “played the way a championship team needs to play. And we didn’t after the first quarter,” he added.

Casey’s post-game words were damning.

“I thought our guys would come in and compete harder,” he said.

“It’s disappointing,” he added. “Because you want to go out fighting, scratching, clawing with your best effort … But you don’t want to go down that way, let go of the rope.”

It was an embarrassing ending to a series in which Toronto had its chances despite its short time span.

While the Raptors were blown out 128-110 in Game 2, they had plenty of chances to win Game 1 — a 113-12 overtime loss during which the Cavaliers never led in regulation time. And in Game 3, they rallied to tie the game at 103-103 before James’ memorable off-balance buzzer-beater.

There was no drama Monday as Cleveland led by four after the first quarter, 16 at the half and 28 after three.

A dour DeMar DeRozan, who had just eight points in Game 3 and was benched in the fourth quarter, took no solace from the slender margins of playoff basketball.

“It’s life,” said the Raptors guard. “You dwell on what should have happened, what could have happened in life, you’ll drive yourself crazy. The fact of the matter is we’re out, we’re done. We’ve got to get back to reality, come tomorrow, work our butt off this summer and get ready for the next stage.”

Fellow all-star Kyle Lowry offered little from the podium, a baseball cap jammed low over his eyes as DeRozan fielded questions.

DeRozan’s miserable series continued Monday as he was ejected for a flagrant foul-2 with 23 seconds left in the third for catching Jordan Clarkson, who was soaring to the basket, on the head with his arm. He finished with 13 points on five-of-11 shooting.

“We wanted to take away DeRozan and we wanted to take away their bench,” said Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue. “I think we did that in this series.”

Lue said playing James with the Cavs’ second unit helped negate the Toronto bench.

James had 29 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds and showed off more than few party tricks with Cleveland turning the screw on the Raptors as the game wore on. He had 15 points in the third quarter to hammer the nail into the Toronto coffin. Kevin Love added 23.

Jonas Valanciunas led Toronto with 18 points. C.J. Miles had 13 while Lowry had five.

The Raptors defence was shredded with the Cavaliers racking up 100 points in the first three quarters on 63.9 per cent shooting. All five Raptors starters and four of the Cavs starters watched from the bench in the final quarter, the outcome never in doubt. James was the only starter to see action, playing 4:22.

The fans at Quicken Loans Arena celebrated to the sounds of Drake’s “God’s Plan” during a timeout midway through the fourth.

Cleveland shot 59.5 per cent on the night, tying a franchise post-season record. James was good on 12-of-19 shots while fellow starters Love, J.R. Smith, Kyle Korver and George Hill combined for 66 points on 25-of-35 shooting.

Toronto becomes the first top seed to be swept prior to the conference finals since the NBA switched to a 16-team playoff format in 1984.

The Raptors’ so-called culture reset — sharing the ball and firing three-pointers — resulted in a franchise record 59 wins, second only to Houston’s 65. But it was the same old story in the post-season with no answers for James and the Cavaliers.

Cleveland swept Toronto in the Eastern semifinals last season and 4-2 in the East final in 2016.

The Cavs advance to the Eastern Conference final for the fourth straight season and the eighth time in franchise history (1976, 1992, 2007, 2009, 2015, 2016, 2017). They will face either Boston or Philadelphia.

While Cleveland was up by just four after the first quarter, Toronto came back and led 38-36 — only to see the Cavs pull ahead and keep their foot on the accelerator.

For the second game in a row, Casey changed his starting lineup. Serge Ibaka, who gave way to Fred VanVleet in Game 3, returned to start at centre in place of Valanciunas. Miles also slotted into the starting five with VanVleet back on the bench.

While Ibaka had five early points, Cleveland had success going straight through the heart of the Toronto defence — often unimpeded. Two early fouls forced Miles to the bench before the quarter was halfway over.

Cleveland was good on 12 of its first 15 shots, mixing in some good defence to pull ahead as the first quarter wore on.

James did not figure in the Cavs’ first 15 points, with his teammates taking up the slack. DeRozan had seven in the first quarter.

Cleveland scored 18 of its first 26 points in the paint, prompting the introduction of Valanciunas, and led 29-19. DeRozan finished the quarter with a dunk to cap a 7-1 Toronto run that cut the Cavs’ lead to 30-26.

With Valanciunas acting as enforcer at one end and scoring at the other, Toronto closed the gap and went ahead 38-36 after a 19-7 run. But an 11-2 Cleveland run orchestrated by James and Korver got the crowd back in it and gave the Cavs a seven-point lead.

An Ibaka three-pointer cut the lead to 49-45 only to have the Cavaliers grab the game by the scruff of its neck. James played provider, feeding Love with an audacious behind-the-back pass, as Cleveland went on a 14-2 run to lead 63-47 at the half.

Then it got ugly. Gliding in the air, James increased the lead to 20 at 75-55 early in the third with a double-pump bank shot that had the crowd oohing. There was more to cheer before Cleveland finished with the fourth-highest in points total in franchise playoff history.

History was not on Toronto’s side. Teams that trail 3-0 in a best-of-seven series are now 0-130 in the NBA.

Cleveland has won 10 straight playoff games — and 15 of its last 17 games (regular and post-season) — against Toronto. Cleveland is also 12-1 against Toronto at Quicken Loans Arena since December 2014.

Despite the record regular-season showing, Casey knew tougher times lay ahead.

“It’s gratification but you’re not satisfied, that’s the way I like to put it,” he said when the Raptors clinched first place in the East with three games remaining. “We haven’t got to where our ultimate goal is.”

They still haven’t, which means a harsh spotlight may shine on Casey.

Asked about Casey’s job security before the game, Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said any talk it might be in jeopardy was absurd.

James was also kind in victory, saying the Raptors were “a very well-balanced, put-together team this year.”

But not this series.


New emergency alert system fails first test in Quebec, spotty in Ontario

Peter Rakobowchuk, Terry Pedwell, The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, May 8th, 2018

A test of Canada’s new national public alert system for mobile devices misfired in Quebec on Monday and was hit and miss in Ontario.

Shortly after the test was scheduled to reach mobile devices in Ontario, at 1:55 p.m. ET, social media was flooded with messages from people confirming they had received the signal, others who had not and still others who appeared startled or even surprised by it.

“I forgot that we were getting that emergency alert testing on our phones,” wrote one Twitter user, going only by Mary.

“But I got forcibly reminded, all right. And there is not enough hot chocolate in the world to calm me down right now.”

Another Twitter user, Brent Morris, wrote that some people at his office got the alert on their phones, but he didn’t.

“I guess if the world ends, I’m the last to know,” he quipped.

For those who did receive it the message read, in part, “This is a test of Ontario’s Alert Ready System. There is no danger to your health or safety.”

In Quebec, where the test did not go as planned shortly before 10 a.m., the problem did not originate with cellphone service providers but appears to have occurred between emergency management in the province and Pelmorex Corp., which operates the system, said Patricia Valladao, a spokesperson for the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

“The alerts are actually coming from the emergency management in the region and then it goes to Pelmorex,” Valladao said.

In an email to The Canadian Press, Pelmorex issued a statement explaining what happened.

“A space incorrectly included in the coding prevented the Alert Ready System from sending the Quebec test message to compatible wireless devices earlier this morning,” it read, adding the misconfiguration was quickly corrected.

The statement also pointed out the Quebec test “did broadcast successfully on TV and radio.”

In Ontario, the test alerts were also expected to be broadcast across TV and radio airwaves, but in some cases no messages were seen on TV screens.

Valladao pointed out at least it was just a test and not a real emergency. “That’s why they were running tests — to see if something went wrong.”

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said he expects federal, provincial and private sector experts behind the warning system to learn from Monday’s “serious glitches” and correct the problems quickly.

“That consortium of experts has to learn from this experience and make sure that whatever went wrong today in the coding or in the launch, that all of that is corrected and that we have a system up and running as fast as possible,” Goodale said.

“That’s what a test is for, to determine if the system works. Today, it didn’t. We need to make sure it’s fixed and that it is available to Canadians at the earliest possible moment.”

Depending on settings, users with compatible devices connected to an LTE network were expected to hear a tone similar to an ambulance siren or feel a vibration for eight seconds. Devices that were turned off would not receive the signal but phone users receiving the alerts would have heard their conversations interrupted by a sound similar to a call-waiting tone.

The tests were being conducted after the CRTC ordered wireless providers to implement the system to distribute warnings of imminent safety threats, such as tornadoes, floods, Amber Alerts or terrorist threats.

A similar system is already used in the United States and made headlines earlier this year when an emergency official in Hawaii mistakenly sent an alert about a potential incoming ballistic missile.

A report issued last month by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission said the false alarm, which went uncorrected for 38 minutes after being transmitted and caused widespread panic across the Pacific islands state, was a result of human error and inadequate safeguards.

“The CRTC has no insights with respect to what occurred in Hawaii, other than what has been reported in the media,” the regulator said.

But it added that Canada has safeguards in place to prevent false signals from being distributed to mobile devices.

Unlike wireless emergency alerts issued in the United States, Canada’s system requires a specific vibration cadence, alert tone and banner to notify users of an emergency.

As well, the emergency alerts are not text — or SMS — messages, but are distributed using what’s known as cell broadcast technology. The messages can’t be tracked by service providers so they can’t tell who has or has not received the alert, the CRTC said.

Here are the times for tests scheduled for Wednesday outside Ontario and Quebec. All times are local:

  • Yukon 1:30 p.m.
  • Northwest Territories 1:55 p.m.
  • Alberta 1:55 p.m.
  • British-Columbia 1:55 p.m.
  • Saskatchewan 1:55 p.m.
  • Manitoba 1:55 p.m.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador 1:55 p.m.
  • Nova Scotia 1:55 p.m.
  • Prince Edward Island 1:55 p.m.
  • New-Brunswick 6:55 p.m.

Provincial leaders set to square off in highly anticipated #CityVote debate

News Staff | posted Monday, May 7th, 2018

One month before Ontarians go to the polls, the major provincial party leaders will make their pitch directly to voters on Monday in #CityVote: The Debate.

The debate marks the first opportunity in which Premier Kathleen Wynne and PC Leader Doug Ford will square off face-to-face since the former Toronto councillor assumed the conservative leadership back on March 10.

Pre-election polls have the Conservatives as the clear front-runners and suggest the Liberals are most vulnerable in the 416, placing greater importance on Monday’s debate which will focus entirely on issues relevant to those who live and work in Toronto.

While Ford has managed to play to an anger among voters towards the governing Liberals, his policy announcements have been short on specifics and he has yet to provide a fully costed platform. Observers are also keen to see how he handles the minefield of an election campaign as a first-time leader.

Wynne is going into her second election campaign as Liberal leader, having led the party to a majority victory in 2014. Polls suggest she is facing an angry electorate this time around. Despite introducing policies that are resonating with voters, that does not appear to be translating into support for a return to power.

Andrea Horwath is going into her third election campaign as NDP leader. After leading the party to official opposition status in 2011, it gave up that balance of power four years ago in the Liberal majority. An experienced debater, she could be key in determining the balance between a Conservative majority or minority at Queen’s Park.

Where to watch?

Commercial-free coverage begins at 6 p.m. live on:
CityNews Facebook page
@citynews Twitter page
CityNews YouTube channel
Live 360-degree studio view
Listen on 570 NEWS in Kitchener
Listen on 1310 NEWS in Ottawa

Live commentary from issue advocates including Desmond Cole, Jodie Emery and Murtaza Haider on Facebook and Citynews.ca

The debate will also be broadcast on OMNI2 at 6 p.m. in Punjabi and at 10 p.m. in Mandarin

Who is moderating?

CityNews political specialist Cynthia Mulligan will referee the debate.

What’s the format for the debate?

Each candidate will have the opportunity to answer six audience questions on the following topics: policing, drugs, transit, education and real estate. As well, each candidate will get the chance to ask an additional question to another candidate.

How can I get involved?

Throughout the broadcast viewers will have the opportunity to join a live moderated chat on Facebook and participate in live polling on Twitter using the hashtag #CityVote.

Testing begins Monday for Canada’s new emergency alert system

The Canadian Press | posted Monday, May 7th, 2018

Mobile devices across Canada will be buzzing a little more than usual this week as emergency management officials test a new national public alert system.

Test signals are to be sent to millions of mobile users in Quebec around mid-morning today (9:55 AM EDT) and across Ontario in mid-afternoon (1:55 PM EDT).

Cellphones, tablets and other devices will receive the signal in most of the rest of the country on Wednesday.

Depending on settings, users with compatible devices connected to an L-T-E network will hear a tone similar to an ambulance alarm or feel a vibration for eight seconds.

Devices that are turned off won’t receive the signal but phone users will hear their conversations interrupted by a sound similar to a call waiting tone.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission ordered wireless providers to implement the system to distribute warnings of imminent safety threats such as tornadoes, floods, Amber Alerts or terrorist threats.

Radio and TV stations will also run the tests.

Their backs to the wall, Raptors say they will come out fighting

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press | posted Monday, May 7th, 2018

As the Raptors’ practice wound down Sunday, star guard DeMar DeRozan sat alone with his back to the wall and headphones clamped on his hoodie-clad head.

One could only imagine the torrent of emotions whirling inside.

After a nightmarish eight-point performance in the first three quarters, Toronto’s marquee man sat out the finale Saturday night when the Raptors were beaten at the buzzer by LeBron James.

DeRozan, by his own admission a poor sleeper at the best of times, endured another “extremely long” night.

“There’s really nothing much you can do, honestly, but watch the time go by,” he said. “And wait for the time to come to be able to get this feeling off you. And the only way to get that feeling off you is to go back out there, help your teammates and get a win.”

Time is running out for the Raptors, down 3-0 to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference semifinal. Game 4 goes Monday at Quicken Loans Arena.

One senses the Raptors have no answers. Except to come out swinging and hope something connects.

“You choose to continue to fight,” said coach Dwane Casey.

Casey recalled the 1995-1996 NBA final when his Seattle SuperSonics — he was an assistant coach — went down 3-0 to the Chicago Bulls.

“Everybody wrote us off …. but at that time guys just made up their mind — ‘We’re not going to quit. We’re not giving in, we’re not quitting. Because we’ve got too much sweat equity.’”

There was a bounce-back but no happy ending. The Sonics won Games 4 and 5 before the Bulls put them away in Game 6.

No NBA team has ever rallied from an 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series, with 129 trying and failing.

“The easy thing to do is just to write us off, write ourselves off and say ‘Hey, look we’re not worthy,’” Casey continued. “But you choose to be a warrior, you choose to continue to fight.”

Kyle Lowry echoed those fighting words.

“No matter what, you’ve got to just rumble,” he said.

Toronto, which compiled a record season to finish first in the East, has been unable to fire on all cylinders against the Cavaliers. Instead it has found different ways to lose.

The Raptors led all the way through regulation time in Game 1, only to lose in overtime. James put on a clinic in a Game 2 blowout. And James delivered the dagger with a majestic off-balance buzzer-beater in Game 3 as the Cavs held off one Raptor comeback after another.

Power forward Serge Ibaka has faded out of the starting lineup. DeRozan was reduced to a spectator. Lowry has been hot and cold.

Casey chose not to show his players film of Game 3 on Sunday. But he did speak to DeRozan before practice, downplaying the decision to bench his star by saying he didn’t want to break up the quintet he had on the court at the time.

While the Raptors have thrown up their hands at the officiating — with team president Masai Ujiri hit with a $25,000 fine for walking onto the court at halftime to berate the officials Saturday — James has simply dazzled.

He has lifted up his teammates while doing his best to break the Raptors’ spirit by dipping into a seemingly bottomless toolbox to get the job done.

The 33-year-old has trended on social media at Toronto’s expense, adding the word LeBronto to basketball’s vocabulary after having his way north of the border and earning kudos from fellow pros for the wonder-shot Saturday.

“Tough shot. Makes it look easy,” tweeted veteran Dallas Maverick Dirk Nowitzki.

“We really witnessing history,” added Brooklyn point guard D’Angelo Russell.

Rubbing salt in the wound, James’ latest heroics came right in front of the Toronto bench. A photo on the front of the Cleveland Plain Dealer sports section Sunday shows the stunned Raptors contingent as the ball is about to leave James’ right hand.

Ibaka stands hands on hip, with a look of near resignation. You could almost slip a cob of corn in the open mouth of assistant coach Jim Sann.

James has been nothing but classy off the floor. But he clearly chooses his words — and wardrobe — carefully.

After Game 2, James made a point of citing Casey for helping make him the player he is. The Cavs star said he learned from the defences drawn up by Casey, then a Dallas assistant coach, in the 2010-11 NBA final won by the Mavericks over James’ Miami Heat.

On Saturday night, there was perhaps another subtle dig as James wore a baseball cap with the Seagram’s 7s Canadian whisky logo to the post-game news conference.

Sidewalk Labs says ‘sketch’ of plan for Toronto coming in July

The Canadian Press | posted Friday, May 4th, 2018

The public will have to wait until late July to see “initial sketches” of a plan for a proposed high-tech community in the city, while a more detailed proposal is set to be released in October, Sidewalk Labs and Waterfront Toronto said Thursday at a consultation meeting that offered scant new information.

And it won’t be until sometime in the new year that citizens will see the full picture being envisioned by Sidewalk Labs, which is owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet.

In October, Waterfront Toronto announced it had chosen Sidewalk Labs to present a plan to design a brand new area of the city from scratch, with innovative technologies and infrastructure that’s expected to include roads designed for driverless cars.

Bianca Wylie, co-founder of Tech Reset Canada, said the new timetables given for releasing real details about the project will leave the public with little time to assess them.

“They’re going to have to have more public meetings or there’s no legitimacy,” Wylie said.

“You cannot assess something until you see it in its technical detail.”

While the public was originally promised a year of “extensive community and stakeholder consultation,” that could be extended, said Kristina Verner, vice president of innovation, sustainability and prosperity for Waterfront Toronto.

“That one year is not written in stone, it could be a little longer than a year, the reality is we need to take as much time as it’s going to take to make it right,” she said.

“It’s not a race to the finish, it’s a race to getting it right and, if it takes a little bit longer than what had been articulated ahead of time, there’s a commitment on both sides to make sure that time is taken to get the community’s voice to be heard and actually answer the questions that come forward as a part of the process.”

Molly Sauter said she came away from Thursday’s event feeling no more informed about the process and called the presentation “an exercise in salesmanship.”

“They’re very slick and practised in their marketing,” said the McGill University PhD candidate. “They are selling the project, they’re not particularly interested in what people have to say about the project.

“There’s no room for ‘how about you just don’t use (people’s) data, how about you just don’t collect the data?’ That’s not part of this discussion.”

Sidewalk Labs chief policy officer Rit Aggarwala told the crowd the company is “not interested in selling personal information” and will ultimately present a plan that will need to be approved by the government before proceeding.

“At the end of the day, this is all going to be a proposal,” he said. “There’s no decision we get to make.”

WestJet severs ties with Hopper app after ‘confusion’ about secret fares

The Canadian Press | posted Friday, May 4th, 2018

WestJet Airlines said it is severing ties with airfare finder app Hopper due to confusion over the developer’s announcement the airline would offer “secret fares” on its app.

Montreal-based Hopper announced Wednesday that WestJet and Air Canada were among its first global partners to unload some of their seats via “secret fares” at discounts of up to 35 per cent.

But both airlines have disputed the claim that they would offer secret fares with Hopper and said they were offering the same discounts available to their travel agencies partners.

“Due to the confusion this has created in the marketplace, WestJet is severing ties with Hopper,” company spokeswoman Lauren Stewart said late Thursday.

WestJet said Hopper will still be able to sell the company’s published fares, comparable to those available on its website, but that it will no longer provide the private, discounted fares it offers to travel agents and other partners.

Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick said Thursday the airline doesn’t offer fares with Hopper that are not provided to its other partners.

“From time-to-time we offer tactical fares on select markets to travel partners in the normal course of business and to remain competitive,” he said, adding that such fares offered by Hopper were not available in Canada.

The company did not say whether it would end its partnership with the app developer along with its rival.

In its release Wednesday, Hopper said other “secret fare” airline partners include LATAM, Turkish, Copa and Air China, adding they will be joined by other carriers in the coming weeks.

But the company clarified Thursday night that its “secret fares” were a “Hopper-specific marketing strategy and not a unique class of airfare.”

“Airlines offer distinct fares to specific types of agencies, in our case online travel agencies, and they are marketed under a range of different brand names,” Hopper spokeswoman Brianna Schneider said in an email. “We are currently contacting relevant parties to clear up any confusion.”

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