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Bank of Canada expected to hold interest rates in policy decision

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Jan 9th, 2019

The Bank of Canada is expected to hold its benchmark interest rate at 1.75 per cent Wednesday as it makes its first policy decision of 2019.

The central bank has been on a gradual rate-hiking trajectory for a year and a half — but after a series of disappointing developments many experts are predicting it could be a while before the next increase.

Governor Stephen Poloz has raised the benchmark five times since the summer of 2017 and he’s instructed Canadians to prepare for an eventual era of three per cent interest rates.

But the slow climb back up from rock-bottom rates to the so-called neutral range — estimated by the bank to be between 2.5 and 3.5 per cent — could take longer than expected.

Canada has enjoyed a strong run, but experts have pointed to factors such as the economic fallout from a sharp drop in oil prices, weak wage and inflation pressures, and lingering global trade uncertainty as key reasons why there’s no rate-hike urgency.

Analysts will scrutinize Poloz’s words for clues on what pieces of information the bank will focus on moving forward.

In explaining its decision last month to leave the rate untouched, the Bank of Canada said the timing of upcoming rate increases would depend on factors such as the extent of the crude-price slump, the ability of corporate investment to pick up its pace and how much room the overall economy still has left to grow without stoking inflation.

A day after the rate announcement, Poloz said “the current level of interest rates remains appropriate for the time being” and that the pace of future hikes would be data dependent.

On Wednesday, the Bank of Canada will also provide its updated quarterly projections in its latest monetary policy report.

Union head to discuss fate of GM Oshawa plant

THE CANADIAN PRESS AND NEWS STAFF | posted Tuesday, Jan 8th, 2019

A top union president representing auto workers with General Motors Canada will hold a news conference Tuesday afternoon about the fate of the assembly plant in Oshawa.

Unifor president Jerry Dias will update the media at the union hall in Windsor after a meeting with GM in Detroit on the future of the Oshawa assembly plant.

“Unifor presented General Motors with solid options to maintain production in Oshawa last month,” Dias said in a release.

“Our position is clear that we expect GM to allocate product and continue plant operations past 2019.”

In November, the automaker announced that the Oshawa plant was one of five facilities it would close, affecting more than 2,500 jobs at the plant. The four others to be closed are in the United States.

Production at the Oshawa plant began on Nov. 7, 1953, and in the 1980s the plant employed roughly 23,000 people.

Driver arrested after crashing into Porsche dealership

NEWS STAFF | posted Tuesday, Jan 8th, 2019

A driver has been arrested after crashing through the window of a Porsche dealership downtown Monday night.

Police were called to the car dealership at Front and Parliament streets just before 11 p.m.

Vehicles within the building were damaged, but no one was injured in the incident.

After the vehicle crashed into the dealership the driver revved the engine and spun the tires so hard that the showroom floor filled with smoke.

The driver was taken into custody. Police said the crash was deliberate.

An employee on the scene told CityNews the driver of the vehicle got out of the car following the crash and began allegedly writing on one of the cars with a permanent marker. When the employee asked the man what he was doing, the suspect reportedly said, “I’m just having a bad day.”

Walk Off the Earth announce tribute concert for Mike Taylor, known as ‘Beard Guy’

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jan 8th, 2019

Members of Walk Off the Earth will hold a public memorial concert on Sunday paying tribute to Mike Taylor, their late keyboardist and vocalist.

The Burlington, Ont.-based band say they plan to “celebrate Taylor’s life and legacy” after the musician, known affectionately as “Beard Guy,” died on Dec. 30.

The free event will feature acoustic performances from other Canadian musicians, including members of the Barenaked Ladies, pop singer Scott Helman, rock band Monster Truck, Toronto dance-rock duo USS and others.

The event begins at Civic Square in downtown Burlington at 4:30 p.m.

The band said portions of the concert will be live streamed on their Facebook page.

Walk Off the Earth shot to fame in 2012 when their YouTube cover of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” went viral. The video features all five members simultaneously playing a single guitar and singing in harmony.

The band was scheduled to launch a 2019 world tour with a New Year’s Eve show in Niagara Falls, Ont., but pulled out upon learning of Taylor’s death.

They plan to continue touring in February.

Taylor passed away in his sleep from “natural causes,” the band said at the time.

GO bus service to York U has officially stopped

NEWS STAFF | posted Tuesday, Jan 8th, 2019

A controversial decision to move GO buses off of York University’s Keele campus kicked in this week.

Students using GO buses to travel to the university from around the GTA will now have to get off at the new Highway 407 station, and then head into campus by subway.

Students were dismayed when the change was first announced in November 2018. They circulated a petition calling for service to be preserved as is.

Monday was the first day of class with the new route in effect, and students’ reactions were mixed.

“In all honesty it’s been a lot faster,” says student Dane Austin. “I know the commute, I timed it down to a tee. Before it was 30 minutes, it’s cut down at least 10 minutes.”

Other students estimate it will take longer to get to school, but regardless of the time it takes, there’s also an additional cost.

Riders must pay an extra fare to transfer from the GO bus to the TTC. To offset the cost, GO Transit has introduced a fare discount of $1.50 per ride in cooperation with the TTC. However in order to take advantage of the discounted fare, a Presto card is required. The university has said online that it will “continue to advocate for a full fare integration.”

“It’s going to be an extra $60 a month,” says Seneca at York student Will Shore. “I’m deciding whether I should just buy a parking pass and drive down, but that’s more expensive. Pretty much every option is getting more and more expensive.”

Shore added that it would take him about 40 minutes to walk from the station to his classes at the far side of campus, so walking is not a practical option either.

The GO changes come on the heels of the suspension of York Regional Transit’s Viva bus service to the campus back in September 2018. Since then, the Viva buses were redirected to the Pioneer Village stop and students have to either walk 15 to 20 minutes to campus or take the TTC subway one stop to York University station.

The GO bus service was initially supposed to run till the end of the school term in early spring.

CityNews received several tips from concerned viewers about the service change citing five main problems:

  • Added travel time
  • Added expense
  • Mandatory purchase of a Presto card for the double discounted fare
  • Added inconvenience to those with disabilities
  • Safety of walking at night or in adverse weather conditions

 

Metrolinx and York University are at odds over the reason for service cancellation.

The service was supposed to run till the end of the school term in early spring but in November, a source told CityNews the President of York University, Rhonda Lenton, specifically asked Metrolinx to remove their buses from campus sooner than planned.

A letter from Metrolinx to York University that was sent in the fall says that the school asked the transit agency to end bus service so that York could create a pedestrian zone on campus.

However, York University said in a statement in November, and again Monday, that it was Metrolinx’s decision.

“York U would welcome the return of GO bus service to our Keele Campus. We have made this clear to the Ministry of Transportation, Metrolinx and the York community. At this time, Metrolinx has advised the University that it will not consider reversing its decision,” said Yanni Dagonas York University’s deputy spokesperson, in a statement.

Parking rates increasing in Green P lots across Toronto

NEWS STAFF | posted Tuesday, Jan 8th, 2019

Monthly and hourly rates will be increasing at Green P parking lots across Toronto starting next Monday.

The rate increases will vary based on location at 160 different parking lots.

Monthly rates are going up from $5 to 30$ while the half-hour rates are increasing on average of 25 to 50 cents.

Some of the parking lots have gotten rid of the daily maximum option, leaving drivers to pay for parking by the half-hour in the 14 lots.

Toronto Parking Authority said the lots were daily maximums have been removed, “have a high occupancy and/or a large number of long-stay packers.”

TPA add this will benefit short-stay parkers and deter all-day parkers.

A full list of the parking lots affected with the specific rate changes can be found on Green P’s website.

Canadian Sandra Oh, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ ‘Green Book’ win at Globes

JAKE COYLE, HE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Monday, Jan 7th, 2019

In a Golden Globes chock full of upsets, the Freddie Mercury biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” took best picture, drama, over Bradley Cooper’s heavily favoured “A Star is Born” and Glenn Close bested Lady Gaga for best actress.

Few winners were seen as more certain than Lady Gaga as best actress in a drama at Sunday’s ceremony at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. But the veteran actress Close pulled off the shocker for her performance in “The Wife,” as the spouse of a Nobel Prize-winning author. Close said she was thinking of her mother, “who really sublimated herself to my father for her whole life.”

“We have to find personal fulfilment. We have to follow our dreams,” said Close, drawing a standing ovation. “We have to say I can do that and I should be allowed to do that.”

Minutes later, the surprise was even greater when “Bohemian Rhapsody” won the night’s top award, shortly after Rami Malek won best actor for his prosthetic teeth-aided performance as Mercury.

“Thank you to Freddie Mercury for giving me the joy of a lifetime,” said Malek. “This is for you, gorgeous.”

Politics were largely absent from the ceremony before Christian Bale took the stage for winning best actor in a musical or comedy for his lead performance in Adam McKay’s “Vice.”

“What do you think? Mitch McConnell next?” joked the Welsh-born actor, referring to the Senate’s majority leader. “Thank you to Satan for giving me inspiration for this role.”

Oh and Andy Samberg opened the Globes, put on by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, on a note of congeniality, including a mock roast of attendees and a string of jokes that playfully commented on critiques of Hollywood. Oh performed an impression of a sexist caveman film executive who casts like the title of Damien Chazelle’s Neil Armstrong drama: “First … man!”

Noting the success of “Crazy Rich Asians,” Oh alluded to films with white stars in Asian roles like “Ghost in the Shell” and “Aloha,” the latter of which prompted Emma Stone, who starred in “Aloha,” to shout out “I’m sorry!” from the crowd.

But Ottawa-born Oh, who later also won for her performance on the BBC America drama series “Killing Eve,” and Samberg closed their opening monologue on a serious note explaining why she was hosting.

“I wanted to be here to look out at this audience and witness this moment of change,” said Oh, tearing up and gazing at minority nominees in attendance. “Right now, this moment is real. Trust me, this is real. Because I see you. And I see you. All of these faces of change. And now, so will everyone else.”

Some of those faces Oh alluded to won. Mahershala Ali, whom the foreign press association overlooked for his Oscar-winning performance in “Moonlight,” won best supporting actor for “Green Book.” While the Globes, decided by 88 voting members of the HFPA, have little relation to the Academy Awards, they can supply some awards-season momentum when it matters most. Oscar nomination voting begins Monday.

The biggest boost went to “Green Book,” Peter Farrelly’s interracial road trip through the early ’60s Deep South, which has struggled to catch on at the box office while coming under substantial criticism for relying on racial tropes. It won best film, comedy or musical, and best screenplay. “If Don Shirley and Tony Vallelonga can find common ground, we all can,” said Farrelly, the director best known for broader comedies like “There’s Something About Mary.”

As expected, Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando and Andrew Wyatt won best song for the signature tune from “A Star Is Born,” the film most expected to dominate the Globes.

“Can I just say that as a woman in music, it’s really hard to be taken seriously as a musician and as songwriter and these three incredible men, they lifted me up,” Gaga said.

Though the Globes are put on by foreign journalists, they don’t including foreign language films in their two best picture categories (for drama and musical/comedy). That left Netflix’s Oscar hopeful, Alfonso Cuaron’s memory-drenched masterwork “Roma” out of the top category. Cuaron still won as best director and the Mexican-born filmmaker’s movie won best foreign language film.

“Cinema at its best tears down walls and builds bridges to other cultures. As we cross these bridges, these experiences and these new shapes and these new faces, we begin to realize that while they may seem strange, they are not unfamiliar,” Cuaron said accepting the foreign language Globe. “This film would not have been possible without the specific colours that made me who I am. Gracias, familia. Gracias, Mexico.”

Netflix also won numerous awards for the series “The Kominsky Method,” which won both best actor in a comedy series for Michael Douglas (he dedicated the honour to this 102-year-old father, Kirk Douglas) and for best comedy series over favoured nominees like “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (whose star, Rachel Brosnahan still won) and “Barry.”

“Netflix, Netflix, Netflix,” said series creator Chuck Lorre.

Olivia Colman, expected to be Lady Gaga’s stiffest competition when the two presumably go head-to-head at the Oscars, won best actress in a comedy/musical for her Queen Anne in the royal romp “The Favourite.” “I ate constantly throughout the film,” said Colman. “It was brilliant.”

Best supporting actress in a motion picture went to the Oscar front-runner Regina King for her matriarch of Barry Jenkins’ James Baldwin adaptation “If Beale Street Could Talk.” King spoke about the Time’s Up movement and vowed that the crews of everything she produces in the next two years will be half women. She challenged others to do likewise.

“Stand with us in solidarity and do the same,” said King, who was also nominated for the TV series “Seven Seconds.”

A year after the Globes were awash in a sea of black and #MeToo discussion replaced fashion chatter, the red carpet largely returned to more typical colours and conversation. Some attendees wore ribbons that read TIMESUPx2, to highlight the second year of the gender equality campaign that last year organized the Globes black-clad demonstration. Alyssa Milano, the actress who was integral in making #MeToo go viral, said on the red carpet that in the past year a “really wonderful sisterhood has formed.”

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” won for best animated film. Ryan Murphy’s “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” won for both best limited series and Darren Criss’ lead performance.

For its sixth and final season, FX’s “The Americans” took best drama series over shows like Amazon’s conspiracy thriller “Homecoming” and Oh’s own “Killing Eve.” Richard Madden, the breakout star of the terrorism suspense series “Bodyguard,” won best actor in a drama series. Ben Wishaw took best supporting actor in a limited series for “A Very English Scandal.”

The press association typically likes having first crack at series that weren’t eligible for the prior Emmys. They did this year in not just “The Kominsky Method” and “Bodyguard” but also the Showtime prison drama “Escape at Dannemora.” Its star, Patricia Arquette, won for best actress in a limited series.

Usually the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s ceremony is known for its freewheeling frivolity and fun. The free-flowing booze helps. But the 2018 Globes were the first major televised awards in Hollywood following the downfall of Harvey Weinstein and the subsequent push for greater gender equality in the film industry.

Last year’s show, like a lot of recent awards shows, saw ratings decline. Some 19 million tuned in to the Seth Meyers-hosted broadcast, an 11-per cent decline in viewership. This year, NBC has one thing in its favour: an NFL lead in. Ahead of the Globes, NBC broadcast the late afternoon wild card game between the Chicago Bears and the Philadelphia Eagles, which proved to be a nail-bitingly close game – likely delivering the network a huge audience.

Jeff Bridges received the Globes’ honorary Cecil B. DeMille Award. In remarks about everything from Michael Cimino to Buckminster Fuller and, of course, to his “Big Lebowski” character the Dude, Bridges compared his life to a great game of tag. “We’ve all been tagged,” said Bridges. “We’re alive.” He ended by “tagging” everyone watching. “We can turn this ship in the way we want to go, man,” said Bridges.

A similar television achievement award was also launched this year, dubbed the Carol Burnett Award. Its first honoree was Burnett, herself.

“I’m kind of really gob-smacked by this,” said Burnett. “Does this mean that I get to accept it every year?”

–––

Kristin M. Hall in Nashville and Lindsey Bahr in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

Wintry weather for first day back to school after holidays

NEWS STAFF | posted Monday, Jan 7th, 2019

Wintry weather is back just in time for the post-holiday return to work and school for many in the GTA on Monday.

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement for several areas of the GTA including Toronto and Peel calling for a mix bag of weather that includes freezing rain.

“A weak band of light snow at times mixed with ice pellets may affect the area from midday into the afternoon,” the national weather agency said in its statement.

Some freezing rain is also possible early in the evening, which is then expected to change into rain.

A freezing rain warning is in effect for other areas of the GTA including parts of Peel and the York-Durham region.

Click here for a full list of areas affected by the weather statement and freezing rain warning.

680NEWS meteorologist Jill Taylor said flurries will start around noon and last around 2 p.m. Rain will start around 7 p.m. but there may be a brief period of freezing rain for Toronto.

Although the temperature will feel like a frigid -17 C with the windchill it will become milder through the day as the mercury rises to 4 C by the evening. Taylor said showers will continue overnight and the temperature will further rise to 7 C.

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