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Vigil in North York to honour victims of Pittsburgh synagogue shooting

THE CANADIAN PRESS AND NEWS STAFF | posted Monday, Oct 29th, 2018

A vigil will be held in North York on Monday night to honour the victims of a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

Joyce Fienberg was among the 11 people who were killed on Saturday when a gunman opened fire on worshipers at the Tree of Life Synagogue. Fienberg grew up in Toronto and was a member of the Holy Blossom Temple before moving to the U.S. with her husband.

The vigil takes place at 7 p.m. at Mel Lastman Square.

Over the weekend, vigils and rallies were organized in a number of Canadian cities, including Montreal, Ottawa, Halifax and Vancouver.

In Ottawa, more than 300 people packed into the Soloway Jewish Community Centre for a Sunday evening memorial service, lining the walls and taking every available chair — except 11, left vacant on the stage, each bearing the name of one of the victims.

Dena Libman, whose cousin Joyce Fienberg was among those killed, addressed the crowd of residents, religious leaders and politicians from all parties and levels of government.

She said that in the Jewish world, it feels like everyone is a member of the same family — it’s just that some are closer than others.

Afterwards, she said there is healing that comes from gathering as a community.

“I felt the collective grief, and the collective vision to go forward,” she said.

Several armed police officers stood sentry over the event, although Ottawa Police Chief Charles Bordeleau told the crowd there are no existing threats against the community.

Federal Liberal cabinet minister and local MP Catherine McKenna called it sad that such security was a fact of life for Jewish communities.

She pointed to Statistics Canada data showing that Jews were the most targeted minority for hate crimes, saying anti-Semitism is not just an issue for the United States.

“It is times like this that we stand together, that we are outraged together … and that we remember that we are better together,” McKenna said.

Montreal-based Rabbi Reuben Poupko, who is originally from Pittsburgh, said no Jewish community was left untouched by the shooting, which left 11 people dead and six injured, including four police officers.

A vigil set for Monday evening at Montreal’s Beth Israel Beth Aaron synagogue will be a chance for community members to draw hope and strength from each other, he said in a phone interview.

“All of us can relate to what happened,” Poupko said. “We go to synagogues that look just like (Tree of Life) synagogue. Our ties and bonds of history and of solidarity and our values are very strong.”

Poupko said Jewish people have always been targets of hate crimes, both in Canada and elsewhere, but he said they’ve never experienced anything like Saturday’s mass shooting.

“Eleven people murdered in a synagogue in an outrageous act of evil,” he said, becoming emotional as he spoke about 97-year-old Rose Mallinger, a Holocaust survivor who died in the Pittsburgh shooting.

“To survive the Holocaust and find refuge in a free country and lose your life doing what you’re supposed to do, going to synagogue on a Saturday morning … is not a thing that is easily understood,” he said.

Poupko said Montreal’s synagogues were remaining open and the community would continue to fight acts of hate in the only way they know how, “which is to lead lives of tolerance.”

OCS blames Canada Post for lack of cannabis deliveries

NEWS STAFF | posted Monday, Oct 29th, 2018

The Ontario Cannabis Store says it has shipped thousands of online orders to customers and the reason many haven’t recieved them yet is due to Canada Post.

OCS says in the first week of post-legalization, over 150,000 online orders were made. However, CityNews has been inundated with complaints from viewers about the delays in receiving their cannabis. In a statement released Sunday, OCS said while it has adequate product supply, the delays in shipping are “partially due to the mail and package backlog at Canada Post created by rotating work stoppages in the Greater Toronto Area.”

“With over 9,000 workers off the job last week, as well as Canada Post picking up a limited number of orders from OCS, delivery times have been impacted and many customers will continue to see delays,” the statement read. “OCS is working closely with Canada Post and distribution centre staff to ensure packages are moving as quickly as possible.”

When asked about potential delays in delivery back on Oct. 18, Finance Minister Vic Fedeli insisted a postal strike would not derail deliveries and that the government had a “backup plan” but failed to provide any details at that time.

OCS indicated that customers should see an improvement in delivery this week as tens of thousands of packages were picked up by Canada Post this weekend.

OCS says it has also increased its capacity to speak respond to customers following complaints of long wait times on the phone with customer service reps.

“Our staff continues to work around the clock to fulfill customer orders, and respond to customer inquiries from calls and emails.”


Indonesia Lion Air flight with 189 on board crashes into sea


A Lion Air plane carrying 189 people crashed into the sea just minutes after taking off from Indonesia’s capital on Monday in a blow to the country’s aviation safety record after the lifting of bans on its airlines by the European Union and U.S.

Indonesia’s disaster agency posted photos online of a crushed smartphone, books, bags and parts of the aircraft fuselage that had been collected by search and rescue vessels.

President Joko Widodo ordered the transport safety commission to investigate and urged Indonesians to “keep on praying” as rescuers search for victims. A transport official said the flight requested to return shortly after takeoff from Jakarta. Weather conditions were normal but the brand new aircraft had experienced a technical issue on its previous flight.

Lion Air said the jet, on a 1 hour and 10 minute flight to Pangkal Pinang on an island chain off Sumatra, was carrying 181 passengers, including one child and two babies, and eight crew members.

Distraught friends and relatives prayed and hugged each other as they waited at Pangkal Pinang’s airport and at a crisis centre set up at Jakarta’s airport. Indonesian TV broadcast pictures of a fuel slick and debris field in the ocean.

The National Search and Rescue Agency’s deputy chief, Nugroho Budi Wiryanto, said about 300 people including soldiers, police and local fishermen were involved in the search and that so far it has recovered no bodies — only ID cards, personal belongings and aircraft debris.

“We are waiting for the miracle from God,” said Wiryanto, when asked if there were any hope of survivors.

At the agency’s headquarters in Jakarta, family members waited desperately for news.

Feni, who uses a single name, said her soon to be married sister was on the flight, planning to meet relatives in Pangkal Pinang.

“We are here to find any information about my younger sister, her fiance, her in-law to be and a friend of them,” said Feni.

“We don’t have any information,” she said, as her father wiped tears from reddened eyes. “No one provided us with any information that we need. We’re confused. We hope that our family is still alive.”

Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani also arrived at the agency and met with its chief, seeking information about 20 ministry staff who were on the flight after attending a ministry event in Jakarta.

The search and rescue agency said the flight ended in waters off West Java that are 30 to 35 metres (98 to 115 feet) deep.

The agency’s chief, Muhammad Syaugi, told a news conference that divers are trying to locate the wreckage.

Weather conditions for the flight were safe, according to the Indonesian meteorology agency. It said the type of clouds associated with turbulence was not present and winds were weak.

The Boeing 737 Max 8 was delivered to Lion Air in mid-August and put in use within days, according to aviation website Flightradar24. Malindo Air, a Malaysian subsidiary of Jakarta-based Lion Air, was the first airline to being using the 737 Max 8 last year. The Max 8 replaced the similar 800 in the Chicago-based plane maker’s product line.

Lion Air president-director Edward Sirait said the plane had a “technical problem” on its previous flight from Bali to Jakarta but it had been fully remedied. He didn’t know specifics of the problem when asked in a TV interview. The pilot of Flight 610 had more than 6,000 flying hours while the co-pilot had more than 5,000 hours, according to the airline.

“Indeed there were reports about a technical problem, and the technical problem has been resolved in accordance with the procedures released by the plane manufacturer,” he said. “I did not know exactly but let it be investigated by the authorities.”

Boeing Co. said it was “deeply saddened” by the crash and was prepared to provide technical assistance to Indonesia’s crash probe.

In a statement, the Chicago-based manufacturer expressed its concern for the 189 people onboard and offered “heartfelt sympathies to their families and loved ones.”

The Transport Ministry said the plane took off from Jakarta at about 6:20 a.m. and crashed just 13 minutes later. Data from FlightAware showed it had reached an altitude of only 5,200 feet (1,580 metres).

The crash is the worst airline disaster in Indonesia since an AirAsia flight from Surabaya to Singapore plunged into the sea in December 2014, killing all 162 on board.

Indonesian airlines were barred in 2007 from flying to Europe because of safety concerns, though several were allowed to resume services in the following decade. The ban was completely lifted in June this year. The U.S. lifted a decadelong ban in 2016.

Lion Air, a discount carrier, is one of Indonesia’s youngest and biggest airlines, flying to dozens of domestic and international destinations.

In 2013, one of its Boeing 737-800 jets missed the runway while landing on Bali, crashing into the sea without causing any fatalities among the 108 people on board.

Wright reported from Jakarta. AP writers Niniek Karmini and Ali Kotarumalos in Jakarta contributed to this report.

‘Twas the weekend before Halloween in Toronto

CHRISTINE CHUBB AND PATRICIA D'CUNHA | posted Friday, Oct 26th, 2018

‘Twas the weekend before Halloween, when all through the house, all the creatures were stirring and even a mouse. Okay, that is a bit dramatic, but c’mon it is Halloween!

This is not a trick, but a treat. The Gardiner Expressway was supposed to be shut down this weekend for annual fall maintenance, but with rain in the forecast, the closure will now take place next week.

To add to the fun, there are a bunch of events taking place this weekend — some Halloween in nature. Below are some suggestions.

If you planning to take the TTC this weekend, a portion of Line 1 will be closed and section of Line 2 will open late on Sunday.


“Day-o, day-o …” It is hard to believe that 30 years ago Michael Keaton scared and dazzled us with his portrayal of the ghoul Bettlejuice. The Tim Burton movie, with a superb soundtrack by Danny Elfman, was not only a cult classic but was one of the usual go-to movies during Halloween. If you haven’t seen it, or want to watch it again for the 100th time, “Jump in the Line” at the Revue Cinema, which will be screening the movie from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. Now everyone sing! “Shake, shake, shake, Senora … jump in the line, rock your body in time.”

Day of the Dead
Hallowe’en isn’t the only celebration quickly approaching. This Sunday, Evergreen Brickworks will be celebrating Dia de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, with food, music, live performances and family fun activities. The Artisan Market will incorporate traditional Latin celebrations, fun family activities and delicious food and drink. Tamales, carnitas, atole and churros will be among some of the yummy treats available. Kids can enjoy skull face painting as well as crafts. There will also be live music, dancing and storytelling. The event will he held on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Weed is legal in Canada so why not find out everything you can about cannabis this weekend at Weedstock — the Cannabis Living Expo. The Better Living Centre will host this three day event starting Friday, which will feature a marketplace with a full array of cannabis lifestyle products and services. Medical experts will be on hand to answer all your questions about the health benefits of cannabis. Seminars will be held through the day on such topics as learning to make edibles, how to grow your own plants and starting a small businesses in the cannabis industry. The event welcomes both the curious and the connoisseur.

Pedestrian Sundays
It is the last one until next spring, so head down to Kensington Market on Sunday for the street party. Enjoy the unique shops and vendors, while you soak up the live music and dance. Be sure to stop by the art fair as well. The event runs from noon to 7 p.m. Road closures will be in effect in the area.

Run to Quit 5k
Quitting smoking is extremely difficult so why not celebrate the accomplishment this weekend by giving your lungs a workout. The Break Free 5K is Walk or Run to Quit at Ashbridges Bay Park is a way to bring friends and family together to promote healthy and happy lifestyles. There will be areas to play along the way — in case the kids get a little bored. Register a family of 2-5 participants for $50, individual $25 and kids under 12 are free. For more details on the run, click here. The race takes place on Saturday and starts at 11 a.m.

TTC closures

Subway closures
If you are planning to take the TTC weekend, subway service will be affected on two lines. Trains won’t be running on Line 1 between Lawrence and St. Clair stations on Saturday and Sunday due to work on the Eglinton Crosstown LRT.

On Sunday, subway service on Line 2 from St. George to Broadview stations will start at 10 a.m. due to beam replacement work on the Prince Edward Viaduct. Shuttle buses will be running.

Fatal crash closes northbound Hwy. 404 at Aurora Road

NEWS STAFF | posted Friday, Oct 26th, 2018

One person is dead and a 37-year-old woman is in police custody after a two-vehicle crash on Highway 404 near Aurora Road early Friday morning.

Emergency crews were called to the scene around 2:30 a.m.

OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said a 41-year-old woman was pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver of one of the vehicles was arrested for impaired driving causing death, Schmidt said.

Both speed and alcohol are believed to be factors in collision.

The northbound lanes of the 404 are closed from Aurora Road to Mulock Drive while police investigate. The lanes are expected to be shutdown until around 8 a.m.

Tory begins second mayoralty by asking feds, province for housing help

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Oct 25th, 2018

Toronto’s newly re-elected mayor says he plans to ask both the province of Ontario and the federal government for help tackling the lack of affordable rental housing in the city.

John Tory named the housing issue as one of three key areas he intends to focus on now that he’s been voted back into the city’s top job for a second term.

Tory handily won Monday’s municipal election, defeating his chief competitor former city planner Jennifer Keesmaat.

He says he intends to request that both the province and the federal government free up land they own within city limits and make it available to Toronto as sites for new housing units.

Tory says he hopes to proceed with a previously announced plan to build 40,000 affordable housing units over the next 12 years.

He says transit and community safety are other key issues needing immediate attention, adding he plans to call a meeting with other municipal leaders in the Greater Toronto Area to see if there are ways they could work together.

Rotating Canada Post strikes Thursday in Calgary, Sherbrooke, and Kelowna

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Oct 25th, 2018

Canada Post employees are holding rotating strikes in Sherbrooke, Que., Calgary and Kelowna, B.C., ending two days of work stoppage in the Greater Toronto Area that forced the closure of the Crown Corporation’s largest sorting plants.

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers announced early Thursday that the Quebec city was the latest location for the strike, with workers walking off the job at 4 a.m. local time.

The Calgary walkout began Wednesday at 6 p.m. MT and in Kelowna at 6 a.m. PT, the union said.

Nearly 9,000 CUPW members walked off the job in the Toronto region early Tuesday as part of rotating strikes that began Monday to back contract demands.

The job action at the giant Gateway parcel facility in Mississauga, Ont., which processes roughly two-thirds of all parcels mailed in Canada, and the South Central mail plant in the Toronto’s east end, forced delays in shipments of tens of thousands of letters and parcels across the country.

GTA postal workers were back at work as of midnight Thursday, CUPW said.

“Our members would rather be doing their jobs than walking the picket line, but Canada Post has left us no choice,” Mike Palecek, the union’s national president, said in a statement.

“Canada Post needs to come to the bargaining table ready to talk about the issues that matter — health and safety, equality for (rural and suburban mail carriers) and an end to precarious work.”

CUPW and the postal service have been unable to reach new collective agreements for the two bargaining units in 10 months of negotiations.

Labour Minister Patty Hajdu has appointed special mediator Morton Mitchnick, a former chair of the Ontario Labour Relations Board, to help the two parties resolve their contract differences.

In a statement Wednesday evening, Canada Post spokesman Jon Hamilton said the Crown corporation has made “significant offers” to CUPW — which include increased wages, job security and improved benefits — and has not asked for any concessions in return.

He said Canada Post is working to restore service and eliminate any mail and parcel backlogs.

“Canada Post continues to operate across the rest of Canada and is accepting and delivering mail and parcels in all other locations,” Hamilton said.

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