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PM Trudeau to address Canadians in primetime speech Wednesday

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Sep 23rd, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will take to the airwaves Wednesday night in a nationwide address where he’s expected to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic as many areas of the country experience a startling rise in positive cases.

The speech is scheduled to take place at 6:30 p.m. ET and it will be carried live on our multiple platforms: Citytv, 680 NEWS and citynews.ca

The prime minister’s address will be taking place hours after his government delivers its throne speech where the country can expect to hear an update to Canada’s pandemic response plan.

A response to Trudeau’s speech is expected from the opposition parties shortly following his address.

Refresh of Liberal government’s agenda comes amid new looming COVID-19 crisis

STEPHANIE LEVITZ, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Sep 23rd, 2020

How the Liberal government intends to ride the coming second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic will become clear Wednesday as it lays out a three-pronged approach in a hotly-anticipated speech from the throne certain to set the tone for the coming months in Parliament.

In what’s expected to be an address lasting as long as an hour,  Gov. Gen. Julie Payette will detail the government’s plans in three areas: dealing with the urgent crisis of the current surge in cases, continuing and changing support for Canadians and businesses still not back on their feet, and what will come once the economy is better able to stand on its own.

With national case counts rising, public federal health officials have made it clear that if further public health and personal action isn’t taken to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, the lockdowns which paralyzed the country for much of the first half of 2020 may be the only option.

Those lockdowns saw federal spending soar to historic levels in an effort to offset the pandemic’s crushing blow to Canadians’ lives and livelihoods.

Billions of dollars were pushed out the door to help cover salaries, rents, the purchase of life-saving equipment and other targeted supports.

It all came just months after the Liberals had won a minority government and forced them to rip up much of the policy playbook they’d put before Canadians during the election.

That was the justification Prime Minister Justin Trudeau used in August when he requested that Parliament be prorogued to allow for a reset of priorities.

Just ahead of that decision, his government had announced a massive new aid package creating new benefits, including paid sick leave, and expanded employment insurance as part of the phase out of an emergency benefit put into place in the early days of the pandemic. The measures require legislation that will be put before Parliament in the coming days.

But the throne speech is expected to signal more tweaks are coming to EI, and make substantial commitments in other areas, including child are. For post-pandemic growth, the Liberals will detail plans that connect economic recovery to projects that equally combat climate change.

Trudeau will reinforce those plans in a nationally-televised address scheduled for tonight, as he also urges Canadians to be resolute in their efforts to combat the pandemic.

Though in the early days of the crisis he’d addressed Canadians daily from outside his home, a pivot to an evening televised speech was made to underscore the threat Canadians currently face of a coming wave.

The waning days of summer have seen a surge in cases no longer linked to vulnerable populations like those in long-term care homes as they were in the spring.

Instead, it is younger Canadians beginning to congregate in ever larger numbers, something that chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam warned Tuesday must come to a quick stop.

“The challenge we face now is to stay the course no matter how weary we may feel,” Tam said.

Those cases have reached into the halls of power as well; after political staffers succumbed to infection, the leaders of both the Conservatives and Bloc Québécois, and their spouses, were infected and they are now in isolation.

Their parties will be given time to respond to Trudeau’s televised address, but  Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and the BQ”s Yves-Francois Blanchet will both be absent from Parliament Hill today for the throne speech.

Both are hoping to deliver their official replies on Sept. 29, when they’re both out of quarantine.

That arrangement is one of few details known so far about how the House of Commons may actually function in the days ahead, with negotiations ongoing around issues such as how a hybrid Parliament — some MPs attending in person, and some remotely — can allow votes to be cast in a transparent and accountable way.

Given the Liberals only have a minority government, those votes could mean the difference between their survival and an election; the vote on the speech from the throne itself is a confidence motion.

With the ongoing escalation of cases, a snap election is unlikely, though whatever the Liberals do put forward is sure to be a large part of a campaign platform when that election arrives.

Each of the opposition parties have already laid down some markers ahead of the speech that will determine their support.

The NDP’s Jagmeet Singh has already said he wants to see the promised legislation on EI changes, but is concerned too many people will still fall through the gaps, while Blanchet is looking for more money on health care for the provinces.

O’Toole — who has been Conservative Leader for just a month — has signalled he wants to see concrete action to address the concerns of the West, and for expanded support for businesses.

The pandemic will also make itself felt in a marked downscaling of the pageantry that normally accompanies a throne speech.

Among other things, no special guests or spectators will be allowed into the Senate chamber, and the number of MPs as well is being sharply curtailed.

Toronto Christmas Market cancelled due to COVID-19

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Sep 22nd, 2020

This year’s Christmas Market in Toronto’s Distillery District has been cancelled, Mayor John Tory says.

“In this case, as with most of the cancellations this year, the decision has been taken by the organization itself looking at the health situation and all the other circumstances they want to examine,” Tory said.

“It’s regrettable, extremely regrettable, because these are things that bring people joy and bring them outside even in the colder weather.”
– John Tory

“A lot of things have changed this year,” Tory added. “Let’s just hope we can get through a roster of events we will deal with in the next few days that probably won’t be held on a normal basis at all and get back to something more normal next year if we follow along, not only by cancelling these events, but by behaving in a way we have talked about for the last few days.”

Typically, thousands gather for the annual market, which usually starts in mid-November and runs through late December.

Restaurants and stores in the district are open and are currently following provincial guidelines but it’s not clear how the Christmas Market would be able to do the same given the social gathering limits.

This would have been the 11th version of Toronto’s Distillery District Christmas Market.

Crews battle overnight industrial fire in Whitchurch-Stouffville

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Sep 22nd, 2020

Fire crews battled a large industrial fire in Whitchurch-Stouffville overnight.

York Regional police say the flames broke out around 11 p.m. Monday night at a scrap metal yard on Woodbine Avenue, south of Stouffville Road.

Flames and smoke could be seen from Highway 404 and Woodbine was closed in both directions from Stouffville Road to 19th Avenue.

No injuries have been reported.

Ontario to announce fall COVID-19 plan today

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Sep 22nd, 2020

Ontario is expected to announce its COVID-19 fall preparedness plan today.

Premier Doug Ford has promised the plan will help the province grapple with a possible second wave of the novel coronavirus.

The strategy comes as daily virus case counts continue to climb to levels not seen for months in Ontario.

Ford has been under pressure to release the updated plan as opposition politicians say it should have come weeks earlier.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says parts of the plan are currently being implemented, including increased testing capacity.

The new plan comes as Ontario continues to struggle with long line ups at some of its 147 COVID-19 assessment centres.

Ford announced an Ontario-wide crackdown limiting the number of people permitted at social gatherings over the weekend.

Male seriously injured in North York stabbing

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Sep 22nd, 2020

A male suffered serious injuries after a stabbing in North York on Monday night.

Police and paramedics were called to the area of Valley Woods Road and Brookbanks Drive around 9:45 p.m. for reports of a person stabbed.

The victim was taken to hospital in serious condition.

No other details are available at this time.

An investigation is ongoing.

‘Schitt’s Creek’ sweeps comedy categories at Emmy Awards

LYNN ELBER, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Monday, Sep 21st, 2020

LOS ANGELES — “Schitt’s Creek,” the little Canadian show about a fish-out-of-water family, made history at Sunday’s Emmy Awards with a comedy awards sweep, something even TV greats including “Frasier” and “Modern Family” failed to achieve.

The Pop TV show’s awards included best comedy series and awards for its stars, including Catherine O’Hara, and father-son Eugene and Daniel Levy.

“Our show at its core is about the transformational effects of love and acceptance, and this is something we need more now than ever before,” said co-creator and star Daniel Levy, who encouraged people to register and vote to achieve that goal.

O’Hara accepted the award virtually in the pandemic-safe ceremony, which included a number of winners who made a point that the Nov. 3 general election was near.

“Though these are the strangest of days, may you have as much joy being holed up in a room or two with your family as I had with my dear Roses,” O’Hara said, surrounded in a decorated room in Toronto by mask-wearing co-stars who play the Rose family members.

Levy called it “ironical that the straightest role I ever played lands me an Emmy for a comedy performance. I have to seriously question what I’ve been doing” for the past 50 years.

Moments later, Levy’s son Daniel won the award for comedy writing for an episode of “Schitt’s Creek,” then shared a directing award and captured the supporting actor comedy trophy. The supporting actress trophy went to his co-star Annie Murphy.

Daniel Levy thanked his father and O’Hara for teaching an extended “master class” in comedy. The show’s sweep came for its much-acclaimed final season.

References to coronavirus were an ongoing part of the ceremony, with essential workers — including a teacher and a UPS deliveryman– presenting awards and Jason Sudeikis ostensibly getting a COVID-19 test onstage.

In a year with a record number of Black nominees, 35, there was a notable lack of diversity in the show’s early going. With “Schitt’s Creek” gobbling up comedy awards, that left “Insecure” and creator Issa Rae empty-handed Sunday.

That was also true of Ramy Youssef, creator-star of the semi-autobiographical comedy “Ramy,” about a young Muslim American’s love and religious life. Yousef tweeted a video of a hazmat suit-wearing person clutching an Emmy and waving goodbye after he lost the lost the comedy actor category.

There was a sign of change with the drama awards, which came in the latter part of the ceremony.

The powerful series “Watchmen,” a graphic novel-adaptation steeped in racial pain, was voted best limited series and star Regina King won lead actress for her work on the HBO show. She was showered by confetti as she accepted in an armchair, wearing a T-shirt that honoured police shooting victim Breonna Taylor.

“This is so freaky and weird,” said King, who regained her composure and called on viewers to vote.

Her co-star, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, won the Emmy for best supporting actor in a limited series. Uzo Aduba won the counterpart actress award for her portrayal of Shirley Chisholm in “Mrs. America.”

Anthony Anderson, a nominee for “black-ish,” came on stage to make his disappointment vigorously known, saying the awards should have been “Howard University homecoming Black.”

“This isn’t what it should have been. … But Black stories, Black performances and Black Lives Matter,” he said, urging host Jimmy Kimmel to shout with him.

“Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” was again honoured as best variety-talk series, with David Letterman announcing the award after being abandoned roadside by an annoyed ride-share driver.

Oliver joined the ranks of winners calling for Americans to vote, as did Mark Ruffalo, who won the limited series acting trophy for “I Know This Much is True”

Kimmel opened the show with a monologue that appeared to be defiantly delivered in front of a packed, cheering theatre _ until it was revealed they were clips from past Emmy shows.

“Of course I’m here all alone. Of course, we don’t have an audience,” he said. “This isn’t a MAGA rally. It’s the Emmys.”

With more than 100 long-distance video feeds with nominees ahead, “what could possibly go right?”

A minor gaffe marred Saturday’s virtual Emmys for technical and other honours, when Jason Bateman’s name was announced for a guest acting award that belonged to Ron Cephas Jones of “This Is Us.” Other guest acting honours went to Eddie Murphy and Maya Rudolph for “Saturday Night Live” and Cherry Jones for “Succession.”

Bateman was one of the few people on hand at the Staples Center for Sunday’s show, sitting in the audience during Kimmel’s opening monologue. Bateman sat stone faced amid a collection of cardboard cutouts, trading jokes with Kimmel after the host pointed out he was there.

“Euphoria” star Zendaya could become the youngest winner in the drama actress category at age 24 (topping Jodie Comer, who was 26 when she won last year for “Killing Eve”).

The producers of Sunday’s broadcast have said gaffes could occur. Kimmel is on stage at downtown LA’s Staples Center, central command for camera feeds relayed from 130 nominees socially distanced at home or elsewhere in 10 countries and 20 cities.

Other recent awards shows, including the BET Awards and the Academy of Country Music Awards, bowed to the coronavirus with a mix of pre-taped and live segments. How the Emmys fare may influence Hollywood’s awards season.

The creative Emmys that were handed over five days, culminating Saturday, underscore the point: awards have been collected by 29 outlets representing cable channels, streaming services and broadcast networks. So far, longtime leader HBO and rising Netflix are tied with 19 awards each, followed by Disney+ and NBC with eight honours apiece.

“The Mandalorian,” home of the character dubbed “baby Yoda” by fans, earned the bulk of the Disney service’s honours, seven to date. “Watchmen” has a matching number, with “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” led among comedies with four awards going into Sunday’s ceremony.

First 2 COVID-19 cases reported at TCDSB schools

BT Toronto | posted Monday, Sep 21st, 2020

The Toronto Catholic District School Board is reporting its first two cases of COVID-19 in two different schools.

A staff member at St. Basil-the-Great College School and a student at ​St. Gerald Catholic School have tested positive for the virus.

The staff member at St. Basil was last at the school on Sept. 11, before school officially started.

Toronto Public Health (TPH) has informed the board that there is no risk of exposure to anyone that may have been present.

The student at St. Gerald last attended school on Sept. 17 and parents were notified on Saturday. The TCDSB says there were less than 20 students in the cohort. All students and staff in that particular cohort have received a letter from TPH about next steps and they are all isolating for 14 days.

Enhanced cleaning has taken place at both schools and they remain open.

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