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Iconic ‘Toronto’ sign at Nathan Phillips Square vandalized

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Jun 30th, 2020

The iconic ‘Toronto’ sign at Nathan Phillips Square has been vandalized.

Most of the vandalism can be found on the back of the sign, expressing a variety of views on the current political situation in the country.  A blue tarp with various slogans has also been attached to the front part of the sign.

It is not known who defaced the sign or when it occurred.

The square has been the site of protests over the past month. More recently, a group of people have set up tents and other gear on the square.

“Afro Indigenous Rising” said on their Facebook page on June 20 they “are occupying Nathan Phillips Square in protest of the Police. For the abolition of the Police Force.”

A spokesperson for the city said they hope to repair the sign soon.

“The City is continuing to monitor the protest to ensure public safety – for the protestors and the public alike,” said Brad Ross, chief communications officer with the city. “We’ll be assessing vandalism and have any damage repaired as quickly as possible.” 

The sign was originally installed as part of the 2015 PanAm and ParaPam American Games.  It was only meant to be a temporary installation, but it soon became a popular spot for selfie-seekers and tourists alike. Much like the CN Tower, the sign has become part of the city’s visual identity.

In 2019, the city announced it would be upgrading the sign as years of exposure to the region’s climate had taken their toll.

Migrant farm workers are dying of COVID-19. What’s being done to stop the spread?

THE BIG STORY | posted Tuesday, Jun 30th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, hundreds of migrant farm workers in Ontario have tested positive for COVID-19 and three have died, leaving behind wives and children. Health officials say the workers arrived healthy and that the virus was spread locally. How do these outbreaks happen even with regular screening in place? What measures are now being put in place to control the spread? Are they enough?

Poll suggests COVID-19 not changing Canada Day for many Canadian

STEPHANIE LEVITZ, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jun 30th, 2020

COVID-19 means the true north is not entirely free this Canada Day, but a new survey suggests that’s not going to change how many people mark the holiday.

Leger Marketing and Association for Canadian Studies surveyed Canadians asking whether, given all that’s gone on in the last three months with the COVID-19 pandemic, they’ll be more or less likely to find a way to celebrate this year.

For 42 per cent of those polled, this Canada Day will be no different than any other.

Sixteen per cent overall of those surveyed are feeling that true patriot love — they say they’re more likely this year to find a way to celebrate, even if it’s just a small gathering.

The feeling is strongest in B.C., the province widely seen as weathering the COVID-19 storm better than others. There, 22 per cent say they’re more likely to party.

But 38 per cent overall in Canada are standing on guard, saying it’s actually less likely they’ll mark the holiday.

In Ontario, still struggling with pockets of oubtreaks, 44 per cent say they’re less likely to mark the occasion, and the figure is the same for those in Alberta.

In the U.S., where there is a surge of outbreaks and some states have even revised their opening plans, 39 per cent of those polled say it’s less likely they’ll mark their own national holiday, the Fourth of July.

For 35 per cent of Americans, their plans are unchanged, while 18 per cent say they’re more likely to celebrate.

The poll surveyed 1,524 Canadians and 1,002 Americans online between June 26 and June 28 and cannot assigned a margin of error because internet polls are not considered truly random.

As both countries get set to celebrate, there is more of a divide when it comes to how they’re feeling about their respective nations.

Of those polled, 90 per cent say they’re proud to be Canadian, compared to 74 per cent of Americans.

For Americans, it is a phrase rooted in the Declaration of Independence that gives them the most pride: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — 93 per cent said that was the thing that made them most proud to be American.

For Canadians, the slightly less cinematic slogan of “peace, order and good government” was also at the top of the list, as was universal health care, the natural landscape and equal rights.

Mid-way through the rankings? Political leadership. Fifty-five per cent of Canadians surveyed said it was Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who makes them proud, compared to 42 per cent who feel the same about U.S. President Donald Trump.

Ministry of Health says masks will not be mandatory on a provincial level

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Jun 30th, 2020

The province will not move to make masks mandatory in public spaces, despite an appeal from mayors in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area.

The Ministry of Health said Monday night that a provincial masking policy is not necessary.

Markham mayor Frank Scarpitti has been spearheading the campaign to make masks mandatory in Ontario.

He was joined by Toronto Mayor John Tory, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown, Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti and Vaughan Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua in a request to make face coverings mandatory indoors, provincially.

The mayors were hoping the province would put in a provincial order, rather than having each individual municipality have to create its own bylaws.

However, in a statement, ministry spokeswoman Alexandra Hilkene said local medical officers of health have the authority to institute the same policy.

“Doing so at a local level would ensure responsiveness to community needs without applying the same policy to regions with little to no COVID,” she said.

The province continues to urge people to wear masks if possible and continue to practice physical distancing.

Those who have conditions like asthma or other respiratory illnesses and cannot tolerate a mask are being asked to follow other measures like staying home as much as possible, frequently wash hands and maintain physical distance from those outside their social bubble.

Blue Jays continue prepping for Toronto camp while awaiting government OK

SHI DAVIDI, SPORTSNET | posted Monday, Jun 29th, 2020

The Toronto Blue Jays continue to prepare for a training camp at Rogers Centre as they await official approval from the Canadian government, planning a charter flight from Dunedin this week while loading up a shipping truck at the club’s Florida facility.

Some players had flights north booked for Sunday and Monday, but were told to stay put until final word comes in, as expected, early in the week. Steps like booking a charter, likely for the Wednesday report day, indicate the Blue Jays are confident their modified cohort quarantine plan built around the dome and the attached hotel will convince public health officials to work around the border restrictions in place, as well as the mandatory 14-day quarantine for arriving travellers.

As Sportsnet colleague Hazel Mae pointed out, such a set-up will allow the Blue Jays to satisfy those requirements while also beginning to work out.

The push to shift camp from Florida to Toronto came after a COVID-19 outbreak at the club’s Dunedin facility a week and a half ago, amid a spike in spread of the coronavirus across the state, as well as elsewhere in the U.S.

The Blue Jays had hoped to play their 30 regular-season home games in the city all along, but added camp to their request from the government as the situation deteriorated in Florida. They continue to prepare for a camp in Dunedin, as well, just in case.

Though club president and CEO Mark Shapiro was in contact with all three levels of government throughout the shutdown, he could not submit a formal proposal until Major League Baseball and the players union settled on details of the season last week.

An ensuing time crunch followed — Shapiro said Friday that players would be told where to go this weekend – creating uncertainty even as signs point toward spring in Toronto.

The Blue Jays, meanwhile, submitted their player pool to MLB ahead of Sunday’s deadline, including a handful of top prospects from the lower levels of the minor-leagues.

Shortstop Jordan Groshans, 2019 first-round pick Alex Manoah, right-hander Simeon Woods Richardson — part of the return in the Marcus Stroman deal with the New York Mets last summer — and catchers Riley Adams and Alejandro Kirk were all included on the 58-man list.

Leaving two spots open gives the Blue Jays flexibility to add players down the road, including potentially 2020 first-round pick Austin Martin, should he sign as expected.

Notable absences from the list include non-roster invitee Marc Rzepczynsk and right-hander Yennsy Diaz, who was placed on the 60-day injured list in March with a right lat strain when infielder Joe Panik was added to the 40-man roster.

Toronto police lay more sexual assault charges against neurologist

THE CANADIAN PRESS AND NEWS STAFF | posted Monday, Jun 29th, 2020

Police say they’ve laid several new sexual assault charges against a Toronto neurologist.

Toronto police say the 75-year-old man was already charged with five counts of sexual assault in December.

Investigators allege the man sexually assaulted five patients at the Wasser Pain Management Clinic between 2002 and 2016.

The man is now facing another 14 counts of sexual assault and one charge of sexual assault with a weapon.

Police say the accused was the director of neurology at the downtown clinic, and first worked as a neurologist in Toronto in 1975.

Investigators are asking anyone with information to come forward. Tips can also be left anonymously with Crime Stoppers.

Man charged after boy abducted, setting off Amber Alert

BT Toronto | posted Monday, Jun 29th, 2020

A 44-year-old man is facing charges in the abduction of a six-year-old boy, which set off an Amber Alert across southern Ontario on Sunday.

Niagara Regional Police first issued the alert around 12:30 p.m. Sunday for what they termed as a “possible parental abduction.”

Police said the boy was believed to be with his father and that the pair were last seen in the Hamilton area around 9 a.m.

The situation came to an end approximately 40 minutes later when police announced that the boy had been found and was safe.

“At approximately 1:10 p.m., as a direct result of the Amber Alert issued at 12:30 p.m., …the suspect surrendered himself to officers and was arrested without incident,” police said in a brief statement. “The child is safe and uninjured.”

Police say a 44-year-old Hamilton man is facing a charge of abduction in contravention of custody or parenting order and disobeying a court order.

The man is scheduled to have video bail hearing on Monday in St. Catharines.

Internet Folklore: The case of the heart-shaped honeycomb

THE BIG STORY | posted Monday, Jun 29th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, you may have seen the picture during one of its many trips around the internet over the past seven years. It’s a honeycomb shaped like a heart, allegedly made by the bees themselves, freeform, when their keeper forgot to put the frame in their hive.

It’s a lovely story, and that’s why it sticks around. Is it true? Not entirely. Does that matter? Maybe. But the case of the heart-shaped honeycomb provides a look inside a rapidly developing field called Internet Folklore, and can teach us a lot about the stories we tell and why some of them endure.

GUEST: Steve Bryne, Folklorist

You can subscribe to The Big Story podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle and Spotify

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

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