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Mr. Toilet and the crusader of global sanitation

Kye Mack | posted Tuesday, Apr 30th, 2019

“Mr. Toilet: The World’s #2 Man.” premiered at Toronto’s Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, and tells the story of Jack Sim, a crusader for global sanitation.

It is no secret that improper sanitation is one of the leading causes of death in developing countries. With almost 40% of the world’s population still living without proper sanitation almost 1 million children die every year from diarrhea, that’s about 2,000 children a day.

Jack Sim founded The World Toilet Organization and has spent the last 13 years lobbying 193 counties to raise awareness for proper sanitation. Sim successfully lobbied the United Nations to create World Toilet Day – The first international celebration of the toilet. The WTO trains locals to build latrines toilets in places that do not have them. The goal is to not only create a healthy environment for the locals but to shift the social narrative and attitudes surrounding open defecation.

The problem is more tricky than it seems as resources are slim and organizations compete with one another for access. The challenge is also seen in the conversation. People are generally uncomfortable talking about toilets, urination, defecation, even the merits of toilet paper! Jack strives to forge a cultural awakening for a continued conversation surrounding the toilet.

UN watchdog critical of government delays with new corporate ethics ombud

The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Apr 30th, 2019

OTTAWA — A United Nations rights watchdog says Canada’s international reputation will be damaged if it doesn’t follow through and give real power to its new watchdog on responsible corporate conduct.

Surya Deva, the chair of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, is in Ottawa this week and will be seeking answers from the government on why it took 15 months to appoint its new “ombudsperson for responsible enterprise.”

Deva tells The Canadian Press he was disappointed that International Trade Minister Jim Carr commissioned a further legal review, due in June, to assess what the ombusdperson’s powers should be when he finally filled the new job three weeks ago.

That decision also drew condemnation from rights groups when Carr announced the appointment of Sheri Meyerhoffer, a lawyer with a long record in business and international development.

Deva says if the government settles on anything short of full power that to compel companies to supply witnesses and documents in Meyerhoffer’s investigations, it will hurt Canada’s reputation as a human-rights leader.

Deva says the government took too long to appoint Meyerhoffer because it has been on the government’s agenda for years.

The Liberals promised to create the position as part of their 2015 campaign platform, and announced the details of the new office in January 2018.

The Canadian Press

Canadian bill featuring Viola Desmond has been named the 2018 Bank Note of The Year.

Kye Mack | posted Tuesday, Apr 30th, 2019

Canada’s new $10 bill featuring human rights icon Viola Desmond has been named the 2018 Bank Note of The Year.

In a quote from the International Bank Note Society, “With over 150 new banknotes released worldwide during 2018, only 10% were of sufficiently new design to be nominated. Almost from the start, Canada’s new vertically oriented $10 bill dominated the voting, followed by Switzerland (200 Franc human hands), Norway (500 Kroner sailing ship), Russia (100 Ruble soccer) and the Solomon Islands (40 Dollar man blowing conch shell) banknotes. This is the fifth consecutive polymer containing note to win the coveted IBNS Bank Note of the Year Award.”

Canada is no stranger to the IGBS Bank Note of The Year award. Canada has won in 2004, placed second three years in a row (2011, 2012 & 2013) and finished in third place last year.

The bill showcases Viola Desmond on its front and the exterior of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights on its back. Viola Desmond is a civil rights hero. Desmond was arrested in 1946 for refusing to leave a whites-only theatre in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. This incident became one of the most high-profile cases of racial discrimination in Canadian history. Viola is the first woman, let alone first black woman, outside of the royal family to be featured on Canadian currency.

The $10 note is the first of its kind in Canada. Until the release, no Canadian banknote has ever had a vertical design. The Bank of Canada says that it now plans to release vertically oriented $5,$50, and $100 bills.

Sri Lanka lifts social media ban imposed after Easter blasts

The Associated Press | posted Tuesday, Apr 30th, 2019

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka’s president has lifted a nationwide social media ban that was imposed after Easter suicide bomb attacks that killed 253 people.

A government statement Tuesday said that President Maithripala Sirisena has lifted the ban that blocked Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube and other popular sites. It asked the public to “act in a responsible manner” on social media.

The government said it blocked social media in the wake of the bombings at churches and luxury hotels to curb the spread of misinformation.

The move comes a day after the Islamic State group’s shadowy leader claimed to appear for the first time in five years in video released by the extremist group’s propaganda arm. He claimed the bombings in Sri Lanka were “part of the revenge” that awaits the West.

The Associated Press

Swearing in: Jason Kenney’s United Conservatives take over Alberta government

The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Apr 30th, 2019

EDMONTON — Former federal cabinet minister Jason Kenney and his United Conservative Party are to officially take control of Alberta’s government today.

Kenney is to become Alberta’s 18th premier and his cabinet members are to be sworn in during a ceremony at Government House in Edmonton.

They are expected to get right to work with their first meeting immediately after.

It will be the formal end of the four-year NDP government under Premier Rachel Notley.

Kenney’s UCP defeated the New Democrats in the provincial election April 16 when the party won 63 seats to the NDP’s 24.

Notley has promised to stay on as Opposition leader and will have an experienced caucus that includes 12 former cabinet ministers.

A new session of the legislature is to begin later in May.

Kenney has promised his government’s first piece of legislation will be to repeal a carbon tax the NDP brought in.

He has said that there will be a new department and minister tasked to working with stakeholders and other departments to cut administrative red tape by one-third over the next four years.

The Canadian Press

School bus strike could start on Thursday, TDSB warns

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Apr 30th, 2019

The Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) and Toronto District School Board (TDSB) are warning that a school bus strike could begin on Thursday if a deal can’t be reached between Stock Transportation and two of its unionized school bus divisions (North and East Divisions).

The divisions, which voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike mandates, would be in a legal strike position as of Thursday, May 2, 2019.

“As this point in time, a strike is not guaranteed, however it is possible should an agreement not be reached by this date. In the meantime, negotiations are continuing between Stock Transportation and its unions,” the TDSB said in a release.

A strike would impact around 4235 TCDSB students and 4105 in the TDSB, with the majority of affected schools east of Yonge Street.

“In the event of a strike, families are encouraged to make alternative arrangements for their child(ren) to get safely to and from school, and to report any absences in the usual manner,” the TDSB added.

The drivers, represented by Unifor Local 4268, are seeking better work conditions and pay.

“Drivers are expected to fulfill various unpaid tasks before, between and even after their routes. This practice has become so widespread that driving a school bus is now partially volunteer work – instead of regular paid employment,” said Unifor Local 4268 President Debbie Montgomery.

“I don’t think this is a reasonable way to treat the people with whom we entrust our children. We endeavor to have each school bus driver paid for their working time.”

In Full Bloom – The Toronto Cherry Blossoms

Kye Mack | posted Tuesday, Apr 30th, 2019

Nothing screams spring in Toronto like the blooming cherry blossoms, the go-to spot for Torontonians, Instagrammers, and plant connoisseurs alike. Every year, thousands of people travel around the city to check out the pink blooms. The observation of the cherry blossoms originates from Hanami, a Japanese term for flower viewing.

An important note on tree etiquette:

Climbing the trees, pulling on branches, or plucking the blooms is a huge no-go.
Enjoy the splendor of the trees and let them live on for others.

Check out the cherry blossoms at the following locations:

Birkdale Ravine 1100 Brimley Rd.

  • Cherry trees are planted as a tree tunnel near the Pomeroy Street and Lyon Heights Road entrance
  • 45 trees were donated by Sagamihara, Toronto’s sister city in Japan, and planted in 2015 and 2016

Birkdale Ravine is close to Thomson Memorial Park.


  • There are sloped, paved paths from the north end at Birkdale Community Centre and from the parking lot off Brimley Road to the trees
  • There is a level paved pathway from the Pomeroy Street and Lyon Heights Road entrance
  • TTC has service along Ellesmere/Brimley
Broadacres Park 35 Crendon Dr.

  • Cherry trees are located in rows near the southwest corner of the park near Elderfield Crescent
  • 100 trees were planted in November 2002

Find out what facilities are at Broadacres Park.


  • There are no paved pathways to the trees
  • Trees can be seen from the road
  • TTC has bus service along Burnhamthorpe Road and along The West Mall
Cedar Ridge Park 225 Confederation Dr.

  • Cherry trees are located north of the Cedar Ridge Creative Centre
  • Five trees are planted in this location

Find out what facilities are at Cedar Ridge Park.


  • There is an interlock driveway from the parking lot to the tree location
Cedarvale Park 443 Arlington Ave.
YorkFind out what facilities are at Cedarvale Park.Accessibility

  • There are paved paths near the trees
  • There is free parking at Phil White Arena
Centennial Park 151 Elmcrest Rd.

  • Cherry trees are located along Rathburn Road, on Centennial Park Boulevard and northeast of Centennial Park Conservatory
  • 463 trees have been planted in this park: November 2002, June 2005, April 2009, April 2010, April and May 2011

Find out what facilities are at Centennial Park.


  • There are no paved pathways
  • Trees can be seen from the road
  • TTC has bus service along Rathburn Road
  • Free parking is available in Centennial Park and is within walking distance of the trees
Cherry Street and Villiers Street
  • Cherry trees are at the northeast corner of this intersection
  • 45 trees were planted in July 2006


  • There are paved pathways to the trees
  • The trees can be viewed from the road
Edwards Gardens 755 Lawrence Ave. E.
North York

  • 8 medium trees are located near the water fountain near the Edwards Garden courtyard
  • 2 mature trees are close to the bridal path entrance on the west side of the ravine

Find out what facilities are at Edwards Gardens.


  • There are paved pathways
  • There is a parking lot off Leslie Street at the Toronto Botanical Gardens
  • TTC service on Lawrence Avenue East and Leslie Street
High Park 1873 Bloor St. W.

  • Cherry trees are primarily located on the west side of Grenadier Pond
  • 50 trees were planted between 2017 and 2018

Find out what facilities are at High Park.

There is no vehicle or parking access to High Park during the cherry blossom peak bloom period. Only Wheel-Trans vehicles will be allowed into High Park during peak bloom.

The City is committed to a safe environment for all who use or visit City facilities or property. Due to safety concerns, all non-essential vehicle access to High Park and all vehicle parking in High Park and at Grenadier Café will be prohibited during the peak cherry blossom bloom days in late April or early May.

Check out the High Park Nature Centre Blossom Watch Opens in new window to see when the trees are in bloom.


  • Cherry Hill is not located close to paved pathways, and is a sloped area
  • Accessible portable washrooms will be provided on site during peak bloom days
Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre 6 Garamond Crt.
North York

  • Cherry trees are located on the north, south and east sides of the parking lot with more on the north side of the building
  • Trees were planted in September 2002, June 2004 and September 2012


John P. Robarts Research Library 130 St George St.

  • Cherry trees are at the corner of Huron Street and Harbord Street, lining the walking path
  • 70 trees were planted in October 2005

The John P. Robarts Research Library is close to Queen’s Park.

Construction in 2019: Due to construction, there may be limited or no access to cherry trees.

Toronto Island Park Take the ferry at 9 Queens Quay W.

  • Approximately 30 cherry trees are located on Centre Island beside William Meany Maze
  • Trees were planted in 2011

See what facilities are on Centre Island Opens in new window.


  • There are level paved pathways to the trees
  • Accessible washrooms are located nearby
Trinity Bellwoods Park 790 Queen St. W.

  • Cherry trees are along the walking path from Trinity Circle to the southeast corner of the park
  • 70 trees were planted in October 2005

Find out what facilities are at Trinity Bellwoods Park.


University of Toronto Scarborough Campus 1265 Military Tr.

  • Cherry trees are in front of the Humanities Wing
  • 50 trees are planted here

The U of T Scarborough Campus is close to Morningside Park.

Woodbine Park 1695 Queen St. E.

  • Cherry trees are planted as a tree tunnel along the curved path next to the pond
  • 20 trees are planted here
  • Trees are not mature

Find out what facilities are at Woodbine Park.


  • There are paved pathways to the trees
  • TTC service nearby
York University 4700 Keele St.
North York

  • Cherry trees are throughout the campus
  • 250 trees have been planted: May 2003, June 2004, May 2005 and June 2007


“Drag Kids”, a lesson on acceptance and identity

Kye Mack | posted Monday, Apr 29th, 2019

In a society where gender reveals and colour indicate identity, a new film challenges what it means to be a kid in 2019. Today on Breakfast Television, the cast, and director of DRAG KIDS stopped by to discuss what the documentary means for gender roles, and breaking barriers.

DRAG KIDS, directed by Megan Wennberg, is a Canadian film that follows the careers of four internationally-performing drag superstars. Aged 9 to 11, the teeny-queens come together for Montreal Pride to put on the ultimate show.

DRAG KIDS speaks to the lives of not only the kids, but the parents behind the divas.

Wennberg captures the beauty of parental understanding, the support of families that allow their children to find their own identity without enforcing gendered ‘expectations’.

DRAG KIDS invites a new frame of mind, a restructure of the normative and a revision of the social constructs that surround children on the daily. The film showcases a new wave of parenthood, one built on self-identity and the understanding that not everyone child subscribes to the archetype of what has been given to them.


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