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Will Sobeys’ ‘intelligent’ shopping cart lead to job cuts?

Richard Southern and Mike Visser | posted Thursday, Oct 24th, 2019

Sobeys is pilot-testing a high-tech shopping cart that allows shoppers to skip the checkout line, but the grocery chain insists the ‘intelligent’ cart isn’t intended to replace cashiers.

“What we’re seeing so far is this allows our employees to be more on the floor, to be able to engage with our customers,” explained Mathieu Lacoursiere, Vice President of Retail Support at Sobeys Inc.

“This is actually freeing up some people to be able to engage with our customers and help them with their grocery shopping.”

The smart cart is the first of its kind in Canada. It has a built-in scanner and computer that keeps track of every item placed in the cart. A scale is also included, allowing shoppers to weigh their own vegetables and produce.

A digital screen provides a running tally of the bill, including tax. That same screen can also prompt shoppers to check out similar items throughout the store.

“Maybe I scan spaghetti. The cart can tell me, hey, there’s a particular sale on spaghetti sauce down the way,” said Ahmed Beshry, co-founder of Caper, the technology used in the smart carts.

The cart is also equipped with three cameras capable of capturing 120 images per second. As technology improves, the cart will eventually be able to automatically detect what’s being placed in it, meaning shoppers will no longer need to scan their items.

Sobeys says other features are also on the way, including the ability to upload your shopping list, allowing the cart to direct you to a specific aisle in the grocery store.

Lacoursiere declined to reveal how much each cart costs, but said the technology is an ongoing investment.

“We want to continue investing in this cart to make it a seamless customer experience.”

The pilot project is running at Sobeys’ Glen Abbey location in Oakville. If the testing goes smoothly, the company says the carts could eventually be rolled out across the country.

GO Transit’s canine unit ready to sniff out danger at Union Station

Kevin Misener and News Staff | posted Thursday, Oct 24th, 2019

The newest members of GO Transit’s safety team are furry, have wet noses, and don’t wear pants.

Dash — the first of three GO canine officers — graduated from his training and will begin his first shift around 7:30 a.m. Thursday in the York Concourse Hall at Union Station.

“Dash, our first #K9 has passed his tests with flying colours and earned his badge and special treats,” Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins said in a tweet.

The canine unit will be on-call 24 hours a day to investigate suspicious objects on GO Transit and UP Express.

Metrolinx used to rely on Toronto police’s canine unit to investigate suspicious packages, but launching its own three-member canine team means that GO can respond to potential threats a lot faster and reduce disruptions for transit riders.

Dash will be wearing a transit safety vest and a collar, both with “Do not pet” in bold yellow lettering on them — a reminder that he and his canine colleagues are on the job sniffing out potential trouble.


AG’s Presto recommendations to be discussed at TTC board meeting

News Staff | posted Thursday, Oct 24th, 2019

Presto will be top of mind at Thursday’s TTC board meeting at city hall.

Board members will be discussing the 34 recommendations from a scathing auditor general’s report outlining ongoing problems with the Presto rollout.

The second phase of the report was released earlier this week, outlining high rates of failure, and “information gaps” between Metrolinx and the Toronto Transit Commission.

Board chair and Coun. Jaye Robinson told the Toronto Star the findings are “not acceptable” — saying the TTC is losing revenue “desperately needed to run a cash-strapped system.”

On Wednesday, the TTC also announced it will stop the sale of tickets and tokens at the end of November, which is another step toward a full switchover to Presto fares.

The meeting is set to begin around 1 p.m.

39 people found dead in truck container in southeast England

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Wednesday, Oct 23rd, 2019

Police in southeastern England said that 39 people were found dead Wednesday inside a truck container believed to have come from Bulgaria.

The truck, which is said to have entered the country on Saturday, was found by ambulance workers at Waterglade Industrial Park, Grays.

“This is a tragic incident where a large number of people have lost their lives. Our enquiries are ongoing to establish what has happened,” Chief Supt. Andrew Mariner said. “We are in the process of identifying the victims, however I anticipate that this could be a lengthy process.”

A 25-year-old-man from Northern Ireland has been arrested on suspicion of murder. He remains in custody.

A cordon has been put in place and access to and from the Waterglade Industrial Park remains closed.

“We are working with Thurrock Council to mitigate against any impact our investigation scene will have locally.” Mariner said.

Home Secretary Priti Patel tweeted: “Shocked & saddened by this utterly tragic incident in Grays. Essex Police has arrested an individual and we must give them the space to conduct their investigations.”

Raptors celebrate 2019 NBA title before beating Pelicans in season opener

GREGORY STRONG, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Oct 23rd, 2019

The Toronto Raptors celebrated their 2019 championship in style Tuesday night.

The reigning champs also picked up where they left off last spring.

Toronto went on an 8-0 run in overtime for a 130-122 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans in the regular-season opener for both teams at Scotiabank Arena.

With the teams tied at 122, Kyle Lowry hit a pair of free throws before Fred VanVleet drained a three-pointer. Lowry iced it with a three-point shot of his own with 56 seconds left.

VanVleet had 34 points while Pascal Siakam had 34 points and 18 rebounds before fouling out in the final minute of regulation. Lowry finished with 22 points and Serge Ibaka chipped in with 13.

Brandon Ingram led the Pelicans with 22 points.

Before the game, with the Larry O’Brien championship trophy on display and the Raptors watching from courtside, a video highlight package from last spring’s playoff run was shown on the arena’s big screens.

It showcased top moments from the first three rounds before culminating in Toronto’s six-game NBA Finals win over the Golden State Warriors, the first title in franchise history.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver welcomed members of the Raptors’ front office and ownership group to the floor before the players were introduced to emphatic applause as they received their championship rings.

Lowry took a turn on the mic and thanked fans before gathering his teammates around him for a five-second countdown and unfurling of the championship banner. Queen’s “We Are The Champions” provided a triumphant soundtrack.

After the festivities, the Raptors got back to work. It wasn’t pretty in the early going.

The Raptors were a disorganized mess over the first few possessions. A J.J. Redick three-pointer capped a 13-4 start for the Pelicans, forcing Toronto to call a quick timeout.

The home side settled in after the break with Siakam and Lowry pulling the strings. A VanVleet layup cut the deficit to one and Siakam followed with two free throws to give Toronto a 20-19 lead.

VanVleet delivered a highlight moments later with a reverse layup, switching hands under the basket and converting the free throw for a three-point play. Nickeil Alexander-Walker — a Toronto native — responded with a three-pointer for the Pelicans, who led 30-27 after one quarter.

The absence of Kawhi Leonard, who signed with the Los Angeles Clippers in the off-season as a free agent, was noticeable. A force at both ends of the floor, Leonard’s skillset is not easily replaced.

Head coach Nick Nurse went with a starting five of OG Anunoby, Marc Gasol, Lowry, Siakam and VanVleet.

Ibaka and Norm Powell were first up off the bench and Terence Davis picked up his first basket as a Raptor with 3:37 left in the second quarter to trim the New Orleans lead to 49-46.

On paper, the season opener looked like a mismatch as the Raptors, who were 58-24 last season, faced a Pelicans squad coming off a 33-49 campaign and without No. 1 draft pick Zion Williamson (knee).

New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry made frequent substitutions with 12 different players seeing the court by the half. The Pelicans led 61-56 at the break.

The Raptors came out with renewed energy to start the second half.

An Anunoby dunk got the crowd back into it and gave Toronto a 73-70 lead. The Raptors led 88-86 after three quarters.

Siakam hit back-to-back three-pointers midway through the fourth quarter to give the Raptors a 103-99 advantage. The Pelicans responded with a 10-0 run before VanVleet hit a pair of free throws.

Siakam went back to work by converting a three-point play and adding a putback bucket to give Toronto a 110-109 lead with 2:37 left to play. The Toronto forward fouled out with 59.2 seconds left.

Anunoby played stifling defence on the Pelicans’ final possession of regulation time, forcing Jrue Holiday into a tough shot that Powell grabbed for a key rebound.

Powell missed a long three-point attempt at the buzzer and the teams played a five-minute OT session.


Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse and members of Hamilton rock band Arkells were in attendance.

Some 20,000 replica championship rings were given to fans before the game.

Toronto forwards Patrick McCaw (knee) and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (groin) sat out.

The Raptors have won their last seven regular-season openers.

Commuter chaos after contractor drills through subway tunnel

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Oct 23rd, 2019

The TTC says a private contractor working at street level has drilled through a concrete subway tunnel, causing damage and delays along Line 1 during the heart of rush hour.

The work was unrelated to the TTC.

The drilling happened at Lawrence station and subway service was suspended between Lawrence and St. Clair stations. Full service has since resumed, but the TTC says subways will be running at reduced speeds northbound through the affected area.

TTC spokesman Stuart Green says engineers were on site to determine the extent of the damage and if there will be any long term structural impacts.

Around 90 shuttle buses were called in to deal with the afternoon rush hour.

The section of Line 1 will close early at 10 p.m. tonight for more permanent repair work, affecting travel options for the Raptors home opener.

1 dead, 2 critically injured in Mississauga shooting

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Oct 23rd, 2019

One person is dead and two others have been critically injured after a shooting in Mississauga on Tuesday night.

Officers were called to the Highway 401 northbound ramp to Derry Road area shortly before 10 p.m. for reports of a shooting.

Peel police initially said three victims were involved but the extent of injuries were unknown.

Paramedics later confirmed one man was pronounced dead and another man and one woman suffered life-threatening injuries.

On Wednesday, police said the two surviving victims are now listed in serious condition in hospital.

The circumstances surrounding the shooting are unknown at this time.

Trudeau has won the most seats — but not a majority. What happens next?

CHRISTIAN PAAS-LANG, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Oct 22nd, 2019

The Liberals have once more won the most seats in the House of Commons, but this time they do not have an outright majority. So what happens next?

With fewer than the 170 seats needed to command the House on their own, Justin Trudeau will need the support of at least one other party to pass legislation in Parliament — and survive a confidence vote on a speech from the throne laying out his plans for governing.

Before then, Trudeau will have to deal with some of the implications of Monday’s results.

Trudeau is still the prime minister and Canada is technically still in the same “ministry” — essentially, the same cabinet or administration — as before the election.

However, the first decision Trudeau makes will likely be to reshuffle his cabinet, considering Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi lost their seats.

Trudeau’s next decisions will be to set a time for Parliament to reconvene. Technically, the Governor General summons a new Parliament, but does so on the advice of the prime minister.

The timing of reconvening the House has varied throughout Canadian history. In 2015, it took over a month for MPs to be called back to Ottawa, though a new cabinet was sworn in far earlier than that. Given that there is less dramatic change than in that year, it’s possible we may see Parliament return sooner.

When the new Parliament sits, its very first order of business will be the election of a Speaker. Geoff Regan, the current Speaker, was re-elected to his Halifax-area seat Monday but isn’t automatically returned to the position.

The longest-serving MP in the House will preside over that election. Louis Plamondon, a Bloc MP, will oversee the proceedings for the fourth time — Plamondon has held his Quebec seat since 1984 and was comfortably re-elected.

And it’s after the election of the Speaker that the main event begins, with a speech from the throne. In the speech, the government will lay out its priorities and hint at what direction it will take in the new Parliament.

The speech from the throne is also the first opportunity for opposition parties to try to bring down the government in a confidence challenge. Since the Liberals have less than a majority of seats, they will need to make sure they can secure at least 170 votes to keep the confidence of the House and their grip on power.

Trudeau has a few options. For one, he might bet that no party will want to bring down the government and potentially force another election — or otherwise give the Conservatives the opportunity to form government.

In that case, Trudeau would not make any agreements with the opposition parties, bet that he would survive a potential confidence vote anyway, and from there see if he could secure support on an issue-to-issue basis.

But if he wants a more stable situation, Trudeau could make a more formal deal with another party to secure its support on confidence matters, an arrangement dubbed a “confidence and supply” agreement.

Such an deal is in place in British Columbia, where the NDP are in government and maintain a parliamentary majority thanks to support from the provincial Greens.

At the federal level, the most likely partner for such an agreement would be the NDP under Jagmeet Singh. During the campaign, Singh laid out six priorities for supporting another party in a minority, including pharmacare, investments in housing and action on climate change.

In exchange for maintaining the minority government, the NDP would expect to influence government policy on these files.

It’s possible that the Liberals could form a formal coalition with another party — in which members of the other party serve in cabinet — to maintain a majority, though this is unlikely.

The Bloc also has enough seats to sustain a Liberal government if it chooses to do so.

However they get there, the goal of the Liberals will be to make sure they have at least 170 votes for confidence challenges and pieces of major legislation.

Whether Trudeau wants to cut a deal with another party or take it vote by vote is up to him.

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