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UK Parliament readies for new vote on EU divorce deal

The Associated Press | posted Friday, Mar 29th, 2019


LONDON — On the day that Britain was originally scheduled to leave the European Union, lawmakers are facing what Theresa May’s government describes as the “last chance to vote for Brexit.”

Friday’s parliamentary vote is on only part of the deal that Prime Minister Theresa May negotiated with the EU, in a bid by May to blunt the opposition that has already forced her to ask for an extension.

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox told the BBC that people will wonder why Parliament hasn’t lived up to its commitment to abide by voters’ decision to leave the EU.

Fox says: “It is, in fact, really, the last chance we have to vote for Brexit as we understood it today. … I think all MPs will have to reflect today who are the masters and who are the servants in our democratic process.”

The Associated Press

Jays’ Stroman overcomes nerves to shine in second Opening Day start

BT Toronto | posted Friday, Mar 29th, 2019

TORONTO – Minutes before taking the mound for the second Opening Day start of his career, Marcus Stroman began the familiar walk in from the Rogers Centre bullpen. At his side were pitching coach Pete Walker and catcher Danny Jansen. Over his jersey, he wore a vintage Blue Jays jacket that wouldn’t have looked out of place on Dave Stieb or Jimmy Key.

As he walked toward the Blue Jays’ third-base dugout, Stroman felt a mix of nerves and excitement.

“I don’t eat on days I pitch,” Stroman said. “I want to throw up from the second I wake up, but it lets you know that it’s game day. I love it. It gives me those exciting nerves that I need in my stomach.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Stroman’s first pitch of the afternoon missed the zone. His next three offerings weren’t much closer. Afterward, he acknowledged he was “a little too amped up” for the visiting Detroit Tigers.

But Stroman recovered from the leadoff walk with a couple of ground balls and just kept going from there. It wasn’t until the sixth inning that the Tigers even recorded a hit, and when Grayson Greiner whiffed on diving slider to end the top of the seventh inning, Detroit still hadn’t scored a run.

True to form, Stroman punctuated the strikeout with a roar and shoulder shimmy before returning to the third-base dugout for congratulations.

“I love these games,” Stroman said. “I love feeling the energy of the crowd from the second that I walk out there. I feel like as far as big-time games, there’s nobody I’d want out there more than me.”

Over the course of those seven scoreless innings, Stroman allowed two hits and four walks while striking out seven. All things considered, his season debut went about as well as the Blue Jays could have hoped. The Tigers won 2-0 Thursday, but just as importantly Stroman felt healthy and an injury-marred season receded a little further into the background.

Even setting aside his pitching line, Stroman felt physically capable of throwing all of his pitches. In that sense, Thursday’s start represented meaningful progress from 2018, when Stroman posted a 5.54 ERA while dealing with shoulder and blister issues.

“I had a pretty bad year last year,” Stroman said. “I did everything in my power to get right this off-season and I did. I’m just excited to toe the rubber every fifth day.”

When spring training began the Blue Jays had no way of knowing what to expect from Stroman, who ended last season on the sidelines because of a blister issue. Six weeks later, he’s where he wants to be physically.

“I’m back to throwing whatever pitch I want in whatever count,” Stroman said. “Last year I’d go into games and throw one pitch. Two pitches. I have six pitches.”

Granted, the Tigers project as a 90-loss team, so there’s risk in reading too closely into the results of any one game. But if Stroman can return to the level he pitched at in 2016 and 2017, when he averaged 200-plus innings per season, it would provide manager Charlie Montoyo with at least one stable arm in a rotation that includes plenty of uncertainty.

“Marcus was outstanding,” Montoyo said. “He had no room for error and he gave us a chance. That’s all you can ask from a pitcher. He was very good.”

For Stroman, the season-opening assignment was the second of his career along with 2016. Behind the plate, Jansen was experiencing the excitement and pageantry of a big-league Opening Day for the first time. Adding to the challenge, he had never caught Stroman in a big-league game.

Once some initial nerves subsided, Jansen worked well with Stroman, relying heavily on a breaking ball that generated 11 swinging strikes on its own. Afterward, Jansen called the pitch “a big weapon” for Stroman.

“It was just on,” Jansen said. “Any time we really needed it that was one we went to.”

The only pitch Jansen called more frequently was his two-seam fastball, a pitch that averaged 93 mph Thursday. Given the circumstances, the first pairing of Stroman and Jansen went smoothly.

“He’s still thinking out there and we’re still on the same page, but for the most part, he’s just going to roll with what I’ve got,” Jansen said. “A couple times he shook, but it’s pretty good so far. We’re going to keep building it.”

If Stroman sustains these results for long enough, contending teams will eventually restart trade talks with the Blue Jays. At that point, general manager Ross Atkins would have to seriously consider moving Stroman, who’s eligible for free agency after next season.

For now, those talks are likely still a ways off. In the meantime, the Blue Jays have a little more reason to believe that Stroman’s injuries truly are behind him.

Wilson-Raybould’s submission on SNC-Lavalin could be released Friday

BT Toronto | posted Friday, Mar 29th, 2019

The SNC-Lavalin affair will once again take centre stage on Parliament Hill, as new evidence into the scandal could be released as early as Friday.

Earlier this week, former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould filed a written submission with the Justice Committee that she said would contain text messages, email, as well as additional facts and evidence from her original testimony.

The documents had to be translated and redacted of personal information before being released, and that work could wrap up as early as this afternoon.

During her initial testimony, Wilson-Raybould accused the Prime Minister’s Office of improperly pressuring her over the SNC-Lavalin case. The Liberals have disputed her claims and used their majority to end the committee investigation, prompting this written submission.

It is not clear if there will be any further bombshell details in those yet-to-be-released documents.

The Justice Committee hearings into this controversy were shut down by the Liberal majority; however, the ethics commissioner is investigating.

Wilson-Raybould said the written submission would be “within the confines of the waiver of cabinet confidence and solicitor-client privilege” she was granted before testifying orally. That waiver covers up until Jan. 14, when she was shuffled out of her dual role as justice minister and attorney general.

Wintry weather expected for the GTA this weekend

BT Toronto | posted Friday, Mar 29th, 2019

It will feel like spring in the city on Friday — as it should — but wintry weather is expected for parts of the GTA this weekend.

According to 680 NEWS meteorologist Jill Taylor, rain will be in store for Toronto and most of the GTA on Saturday morning, but wet snow could hit the northern York and Durham regions.

For the areas getting rain, around 12 millimetres of precipitation is expected to fall. But for the northern GTA, that area could get around 3-8 centimetres of snow.

Although it will be dry on Sunday with sunshine, the cold front will linger with a windchill of -6.

On the bright side, enjoy the sunshine and high of 9 C on Friday.

Chicago seeking reimbursement from Jussie Smollett

Kyle Mack | posted Friday, Mar 29th, 2019

It was reported on Tuesday that prosecutors have dropped their charges against Empire actor Jussie Smollett.

Chicago Mayor, Rahm Emanuel, has said that he is seeking reimbursement from Smollett. A spokesperson for the city’s legal department has said that Chicago is seeking $130,000 to cover the cost of the investigation.

Smollett, who is black and gay said that two men attacked him in January while making homophobic and racist remarks. The men allegedly continued the harassment by putting a noose around Smollett’s neck. Investigators later charged Smollett with staging the confrontation and paying two men to pretend to attack him as a means to gain public sympathy.

Smollett has denied any involvement in the attack.

Worker rescued from Scarborough trench

Kyle Mack | posted Thursday, Mar 28th, 2019

Emergency crews rescued a worker from a 2.4-meter trench in Scarborough on Wednesday night.

Between Generation Boulevard and Rainbow Ridge Avenue, near Sheppard and Meadowvale, firefighters, police, and paramedics were called after a man working at the location became trapped.

It was a race with time as concrete and sand began filling up the trench.

Using special equipment, the worker was pulled from the trench at 8:30 PM.

The workers as taken to the hospital, but police have said that his injuries are not life-threatening.

17 Jackson works to be auctioned this spring as AGO aims to diversify collection

The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Mar 28th, 2019

TORONTO — Art collectors will have a chance to bid on works by the Group of Seven’s A.Y. Jackson as the Art Gallery of Ontario culls its collection to make room for underrepresented artists.

The Heffel Fine Art Auction House estimates the selection of paintings and oil sketches will fetch a total of more than $660,000, with 17 canvases set to go up for sale this spring.

The profits from the deaccessioned works will go towards purchasing new acquisitions with the aim of diversifying its Indigenous and Canadian collection, an AGO spokeswoman said.

“One of the AGO’s key collecting priorities is to buy works by artists who have traditionally been underrepresented in art museums, allowing us to redress historical gaps and better reflect the people who live here,” Caitlin Coull said in an email.

Art collections are “dynamic” and need to be refined over time Julian Cox, AGO deputy director and chief curator, said in a statement.

The AGO boasts an extensive collection of works by the Group of Seven, and will continue to hold a robust representation of Jackson’s career as a landscape artist, Cox said. For every Jackson piece slated for sale, a comparable work will remain in the AGO’s holdings, according to the statement.

“We are most honoured to … assist with the thoughtful divestment of these very special Jackson paintings,” David Heffel, president of Heffel Fine Art Auction House, said in a statement.F

“This is a unique opportunity for passionate collectors to bring home a piece of Canadian history.”

The Jackson paintings will be offered in a series of auctions kicking off with Heffel’s online and live sales in May.

Among the highlights are “Laurentian Hills,” a winter scene valued between $250,000 and $350,000.

The works will be previewed prior to Heffel’s spring live auction on May 29.

The Canadian Press

Multiple homes evacuated after house fire in Mississauga

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, Mar 28th, 2019

Multiple homes were evacuated Wednesday night after fire broke out at a home near Derry Road and Professional Court in Mississauga.

Firefighters were called to the home around 9 p.m. Peel police say no one was injured in the fire.

Firefighters extinguished the blaze by 10:30 p.m.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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