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Province expected to announce new GO station near Woodbine

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Mar 6th, 2019

The province and Metrolinx are set to announce plans to go ahead with a new GO station next to Woodbine Racetrack.

Transportation Minister Jeff Yurek and Metrolinx officials are expected to make the announcement on Wednesday.

According to a Metrolinx report from November, the new station — which would be located west of Highway 27 near the racetrack — would be part of a major GO service expansion that could replace the existing Etobicoke North Station a couple of couple of kilometres to the east.

An estimated 625 riders use Etobicoke North daily, but that number is expected to jump significantly at the new station because of plans to build an integrated entertainment complex at the site.

The 700-acre entertainment complex is expected to include an expanded casino, a performance venue, retail and commercial spaces, restaurants, and hotels.

Close to 800 parking spots will be available at the new GO station, as well as pick-up and drop-off sites that could accommodate 45 vehicles.

The Metrolinx report also indicated that the Woodbine station could be serve as a stop on the UP Express and potentially extend to the Finch West LRT. It could also lead to the implementation of a high-speed rail on the Kitchener GO corridor.

The report also estimates the total cost of building the new station would be between $95-120 million.

Last of 13 players injured in Humboldt Broncos bus crash released from hospital

The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Mar 5th, 2019

The final Humboldt Broncos player who was injured in a bus crash last spring has been released from hospital.

The family of Morgan Gobeil says in a statement that the 19-year-old spent 333 days in hospital since the team bus and a transport truck collided at a highway crossing on April 6.

Sixteen people, including 10 players, were killed and 13 players were injured.

Gobeil’s family has said he suffered a significant brain injury.

In the statement, his family says he endured many medical procedures and hours of physical, occupational and speech therapy.

The family says Gobeil has not yet regained his ability to walk or talk, but his loved ones remain hopeful he will someday experience those milestones.

“Morgan now begins the next phase of his journey,” the family said  Monday. “He will have the privilege of working as an outpatient with an excellent therapy team at Saskatoon City Hospital.

“The road is long and challenging, but we are confident Morgan’s work ethic and determination will be the cornerstone of his recovery.”

Suspect arrested, man wanted in Pickering homicide

The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Mar 5th, 2019

One man has been arrested and another is wanted after a man was found dead in a wooded area in Pickering earlier this year.

Durham regional police say the body of 24-year-old Nicholas Samaroo was found behind a school on Jan. 25.

They say the body was found by a woman out walking her two dogs.

Police say Kyeree Reynolds, 20, of Pickering has turned himself in and now faces a charge of first-degree murder in the case.

They say they believe a second male suspect was involved, but have not provided any details.

Anyone with information is being urged to come forward.

Police warn of alleged fraudulent auto insurance scam, make one arrest

The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Mar 5th, 2019

Provincial police are issuing a warning after arresting a man for allegedly selling fake auto insurance.

They say they arrested 38-year-old Sherif Aly in February and charged him with two counts each of fraud under $5,000 and false documentation.

They allege the North York man was selling fraudulent insurance through a company called Reef Car Insurance.

Police say they believe there are victims who do not know that their insurance is not valid.

They’re urging people to check the validity of their car insurance and contact police if they have any concerns.

Aly is due to appear in a Toronto courtroom later this month.

Ford government to consult on gender wage gap law

ALLISON JONES, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Mar 4th, 2019

Ontario is gathering feedback on legislation aimed at eliminating the gender wage gap, including asking businesses how onerous pay transparency reporting would be.

The Progressive Conservative government paused implementation last year of a law from the previous Liberal government that would require all publicly advertised job postings to include a salary rate or range, bar employers from asking about past compensation, prohibit reprisal against employees who discuss compensation and require large employers to track and report compensation gaps.

Based on the most recent data from Statistics Canada, the gender wage gap accounting for the annual earnings of all workers is 29.3 per cent, meaning that women earn about 71 cents for every dollar that men earn. The gap for annual earnings of full-year, full-time workers is 22.6 per cent, as more women than men are in part-time work. And when using hourly wage rates, the gap is 11.3 per cent.

Labour Minister Laurie Scott said the Liberals passed the legislation right before the election without any consultations, and she said people affected by the law wanted an opportunity to be heard.

“We’re committed to closing the gender wage gap,” she said in an interview. “I think taking the time and listening to the many stakeholders about how to do it properly – and how to have, in some cases, interesting ideas that we haven’t heard of on how to address the gender wage gap – is valuable.”

Under the law, employers with 100 or more employees would have to calculate their wage gaps and report that information.

The consultation questions ask the best way to calculate the wage gap, including if bonuses, overtime pay and commissions should be involved, what the reporting periods should be, and how much time and money it would take to meet reporting requirements.

“If you are an employer with 100 or more employees, how much do you estimate the cost of pay transparency reporting will be,” such as IT, software and personnel costs, the consultation paper asks.

“How many hours do you anticipate pay transparency reporting will take in total?”

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said she is insulted by the questions, and all women should be, too.

“What the message is with that kind of a survey and that kind of a question is that I guess this government believes that pay equity for women is red tape and there’s no need to ensure that women have pay equity,” she said.

“If we’re ever going to get to a place where we have pay equity we need to know what the numbers are.”

Scott defended the questions, saying she wants companies to be able to report their wage gap numbers.

“I don’t want it to be onerous, but we want as much participation as we can get,” she said.

Ashley Challinor, the vice-president of policy at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, said the organization recognizes the gender wage gap as a challenge and is looking forward to giving feedback.

“Our concern is that this legislation does not interact with the Pay Equity Act, the existing legislation that seeks to address the pay gap,” she said in a statement. “This is, unfortunately, an example of layering on of regulation instead of modernizing and streamlining it – which negatively impacts compliance and the effectiveness of the regulation.”

Comments on the public consultation are open until April 5.

Liberals seek to change channel from SNC-Lavalin, focus on climate plan

JOAN BRYDEN , THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Mar 4th, 2019

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will try to shift the focus from the SNC-Lavalin affair to his preferred campaign battleground — climate change — with the release this week of the Liberal party’s first election-year ads.

Radio ads will air in the four provinces where the federal government is imposing a carbon tax after their conservative provincial governments refused to levy their own price on carbon: Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick.

The ads stress that the money raised from the tax will be rebated directly to residents in those provinces.

Trudeau will set the stage for the ad campaign with a “climate action” rally in Toronto on Monday night.

The ads will then begin airing Tuesday morning, aimed at commuters.

The message, delivered by Trudeau, is identical for the four provinces — aside from the amount of money to be rebated to residents, which varies depending on the amount of carbon emissions to be taxed in each province.

According to the ads, an average family of four will receive more than $600 this year in Saskatchewan, more than $300 in Ontario and Manitoba and more than $250 in New Brunswick.

“Climate change is a real and serious problem,” Trudeau says in the ads.

“We have a strong plan to fight it, one that leading scientists and economists support. It makes polluters pay and gives the money back to people.”

In a jab at the federal Conservatives and their provincial cousins, Trudeau concludes: “Now, some politicians want to go back to the Harper years when pollution was free. We have to do better than that. Our kids are counting on us.”

The Trudeau government is requiring provinces to impose a price on carbon emissions, starting at $20 per tonne this year and rising by $10 per tonne annually until it hits $50 in 2022. It is imposing its own tax on those provinces that have refused to meet the federal threshold.

The first payments will be visible to residents in the four provinces when they file their taxes this spring — in plenty of time to register with voters before they head to the polls in October.

Trudeau is also scheduled to visit Monday with a Mississauga family to “highlight the climate action incentive payment.”

Liberal party spokesman Braeden Caley says the rally and the radio ads have been planned for months — long before the SNC-Lavalin affair engulfed Trudeau’s government this month with allegations of political interference in the justice system. But the timing is felicitous as the Liberals seek to change the channel from the controversy.

In bombshell testimony before the House of Commons justice committee last week, former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould said she was improperly pressured last fall by the Prime Minister’s Office, the finance minister’s office and the country’s top public servant to prevent a criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.

Trudeau has insisted that he and others only wanted Wilson-Raybould to consider the impact of a prosecution on the viability of the Montreal engineering giant and its 9,000 Canadian employees, but they were always clear that it was up to her alone, as attorney general, to decide whether to intervene.

The director of public prosecutions, Kathleen Roussel, decided last September not to negotiate a remediation agreement with SNC-Lavalin, a legal option that would force the company to pay stiff penalties without the risk of a criminal conviction that could cripple it financially.

It is legally permissible for the attorney general to override the director of public prosecutions. Wilson-Raybould has said she considered the pressure on her to do so “inappropriate,” although she concedes it was not illegal.

Until the SNC-Lavalin affair exploded last month, climate change was anticipated to be the pivotal issue in the looming federal election campaign.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has warned that the carbon tax will drive up the cost of everything for consumers. He has yet to unveil his own plan for battling climate change — a fact which Liberals have ridiculed on a party-sponsored website that professes to be about the Conservative leader’s climate plan.

Anyone visiting the website gets an error message — “No plan found” — and an updated count of the number of days that have gone by since Scheer promised a plan (308 as of Sunday).

Frigid temperatures for first week of March

NEWS STAFF | posted Monday, Mar 4th, 2019

Winter’s icy grip won’t let go, as well below seasonal temperatures are expected this week in the GTA.

680 NEWS meteorologist Jill Taylor said the high on Monday is forecast to reach -6 C but it will feel more like -14 with the wind.

“The average high is 2 C — we’ll be below that for the highs this week,” Taylor said.

Environment Canada’s senior meteorologist Mark Schuster said the cold can be blamed on a dome of Arctic Air that’s been lingering over Ontario and it is not expected to go away anytime soon.

“Normally at this time of year we expect a daytime high of 3 C and a low of -6 C. We are going to 10-15 C colder than that — so considerably below normal but by no means record breaking,” he said.

Schuster said the record for early March are in the -20 C range.

On Sunday, Toronto’s medical officer of health issued an extreme cold weather alert ahead of the temperature plunge.

Extreme cold weather alerts are issued when temperatures are estimated to reach -15 C or colder or when the windchill is forecast to hit -20 or colder.

The extreme cold weather alert also activates a number of local services, such as opening up warming centres and assisting in getting some of the city’s most vulnerable people off the street.

Huawei CFO suing Canada, its border agency and the RCMP

AMY SMART, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Mar 4th, 2019

The defence team for Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou has filed a notice of civil claim alleging “serious violations” of her constitutional rights, accusing officers of detaining and questioning her for three hours before notifying her of her arrest.

The suit filed with the B.C. Supreme Court on Friday is against members of the Canadian Border Services Agency, the RCMP and the federal government.

It seeks damages for false imprisonment based on multiple alleged failures of government officials to comply with the rule of law upon her detention, search and interrogation at the Vancouver airport on Dec. 1.

The allegations have not been proven in court and the RCMP and the attorney general’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A spokesman for the CBSA said the agency does not comment on matters before the courts.

“This case concerns a deliberate and pre-meditated effort on the part of the defendant officers to obtain evidence and information from the plaintiff in a manner which they knew constituted serious violations of the plaintiff’s rights,” the claim says.

It alleges that RCMP officers and/or representatives from the U.S. Department of Justice arranged for Canadian border officials to delay the immediate execution of the arrest warrant “under the guise of a routine border check.”

The court document says that when Meng exited her plane at Vancouver airport, border officials checked each passenger’s passport on the jetway and after identifying Meng, brought her to an inspection area.

It says border officers prohibited Meng from speaking with her travel companion or anyone else, including a lawyer.

The officers “did not promptly inform the plaintiff of the reason for her detention, afford her an opportunity to retain and instruct legal counsel without delay, or inform her of her right to do so under the charter,” the claim says.

Instead, they directed Meng to surrender all of her electronic devices and computers, as well as her passwords, “which the plaintiff provided, believing she had no choice as the CBSA officers had intentionally failed to advise her of the true reasons for her detention, her right to counsel, and her right to silence,” it says.

The claim alleges officers opened and viewed contents on her devices and also searched her luggage.

Border officers also questioned Meng and the claim alleges that the “specific nature of the questions” was informed by documentation or briefings from Canadian and/or American authorities familiar with the U.S. charges facing Meng.

Although the RCMP was aware of Meng’s scheduled arrival time at Vancouver airport, an RCMP officer did not enter the inspection area and present Meng with the provisional arrest warrant for three hours, it says.

The suit alleges that as officers of the peace, the border officials should have immediately presented Meng with the provisional arrest warrant instead of detaining, searching and interrogating her under the guise of a customs or immigration exam.

“This was both significant and deliberate,” the claim says.

On Friday, the Canadian Department of Justice gave the go-ahead for an extradition case against Meng, marking the formal start of the high-profile process that has put Canada in an uncomfortable position between the United States and China.

The U.S. Department of Justice has laid out 13 criminal counts of conspiracy, fraud and obstruction against Huawei and Meng, who is the daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei.

The Chinese Embassy in Ottawa said it is “utterly dissatisfied” with Friday’s decision, calling the case “a political persecution against a Chinese high-tech enterprise.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has repeatedly maintained Canada is simply following the rule of law.

Meng’s extradition case is scheduled to resume in the B.C. Supreme Court on Wednesday.

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