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Viola Desmond takes her place as Canadian civil rights icon with new $10 bill

Brett Bundale, The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Mar 9th, 2018

Viola Desmond’s trailblazing act of defiance – overlooked for decades by most Canadians – was honoured Thursday in a Halifax ceremony that cemented her new status as a civil rights icon.

A new $10 bill featuring Desmond was unveiled by Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz.

The purple polymer bill – the first vertically oriented bank note issued in Canada – includes a portrait of Desmond and a historic map of north end Halifax on one side and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg on the other.

“It was long past time for a bank note to feature an iconic Canadian woman,” Poloz told the large crowd that had gathered at the Halifax Central Library on International Women’s Day despite a blustery snowstorm and flickering power.

Morneau said the deck was “doubly stacked” against Desmond because of her gender and the colour of her skin. He said she stood up for what she believed in and helped make the country a better place.

Desmond becomes the first black person – and the first non-royal woman – on a regularly circulating Canadian bank note.

“It’s a long-awaited sense of belonging for the African Canadian community,” said Russell Grosse, executive director of the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia.

“The launch of the bill sends people of African descent the message that Canada is finally accepting us. We belong.”

The bill marks a growing recognition of Desmond’s refusal to leave the whites-only section of a Nova Scotia movie theatre on Nov. 8, 1946 – nearly a decade before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus in Alabama – and the seminal role it played in Canada’s civil rights movement.

While her civil disobedience was remarkable, Grosse said racial segregation and systemic discrimination was once commonplace in Nova Scotia.

“It’s a familiar story,” he said. “It’s something that a lot of African Canadians once experienced, so they can sympathize and they can connect with it.”

That’s what makes the new $10 bill such a powerful act of acceptance, Grosse said.

“It’s a remarkable story. It really shows the progression of society, and that’s one of the reasons why it seems to have gained this groundswell of interest over the last couple years,” he said.

Grosse said fear of differences and diversity remains, but those issues can now be discussed openly, and people are able to openly discuss problems.

“It shows that society has come a long way from where it was. A lot of the times those things would have happened in shadows and they would have been ignored in the past,” he said. “Now we’re having frank discussions about what we can do about it. That’s a step in the right direction.”

Desmond’s story went largely untold for a half-century, but in recent years she has been featured on a stamp, and her name graces a Halifax harbour ferry. There are plans for a park in Toronto and streets in Montreal and Halifax to bear her name.

Chelsea Clinton tweeted Tuesday about her story after the Bank of Canada shared a short video earlier this month of Desmond’s sister, Wanda Robson, reacting emotionally to a sneak peek of the bill.

“This is beyond lovely,” Clinton tweeted on Tuesday. “Thank you Wanda Robson. Honored to share Viola Desmond’s story in #ShePersistedAroundTheWorld & can’t wait to see the new Canadian $10 bill on my visit to Toronto next month!”

Isaac Saney, a senior instructor of black studies at Dalhousie University, said many Canadians are unaware that slavery and segregation existed here, and often know more about U.S. civil rights icons than those in Canada.

“We know more about Rosa Parks than Viola Desmond,” he said. “We know more about Martin Luther King than perhaps we know about W.P. Oliver,” he said referring to social justice advocate and reverend Dr. William Pearly Oliver.

But the new bank note could change that, helping Canadians learn about civil rights north of the border, he said.

“When young people see Viola Desmond they’ll be able to ask ‘Who is this particular person,’ so it becomes a teachable moment,” Saney said.

Desmond’s story started with a business trip 71 years ago. Desmond, a beautician and entrepreneur from north end Halifax who sold her own line of cosmetics, was headed to Sydney, N.S., when her car broke down. Stuck in New Glasgow overnight, she decided to watch a movie at the Roseland Theatre.

The segregated theatre relegated black patrons to the balcony, while floor seating was reserved for whites. Desmond, who was shortsighted and could not see properly from the back, sat in the floor section and refused to leave.

She was dragged out of the theatre by police, arrested, thrown in jail for 12 hours and fined.

“Viola Desmond carried out a singular act of courage,” Saney said. “There was no movement behind her, she was ahead of the times.”

It would take 63 years for Nova Scotia to issue Desmond, who died in 1965, a posthumous apology and pardon.

Canada dodges tariff bullet for now; U.S. grants provisional exemption

Alexander Panetta, The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Mar 9th, 2018

Canada appears to have dodged a protectionist bullet, as one of only two countries to receive a provisional exemption from steel and aluminum tariffs set to rip into America’s trading relationships around the globe.

President Donald Trump signed proclamations Thursday slapping U.S. tariffs of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum from almost every country, with the penalties snapping into effect in 15 days.

After months of frantic lobbying, diplomatic arm-twisting and heated debates within his own administration, Trump made good on his tariff threat at the White House, surrounded by steelworkers.

The only two countries escaping tariffs were America’s neighbours: Canada and Mexico.

It’s not impossible they could be added later, but the president’s own language, the wording of the proclamations and comments from a White House official all went out of their way to avoid any explicit threats against Canada and Mexico, leaving dangling only the vague possibility.

Trump danced around the question of whether the tariff threat will be used to bully Canada and Mexico at the NAFTA bargaining table. He said only that the reprieve remains in place for now and that NAFTA is important to economic and national security.

“Due to the unique nature of our relationship with Canada and Mexico … we’re gonna hold off the tariff for those two countries,” Trump said during a signing ceremony.

“If we don’t make the deal on NAFTA, and if we terminate NAFTA … we’ll start all over again. Or we’ll just do it a different way. But we’ll terminate NAFTA, and that’ll be it. But I have a feeling we’re gonna make a deal on NAFTA. … If we do there won’t be any tariffs on Canada, and there won’t be any tariffs on Mexico.”

The actual formal documents specifically state that Canada and Mexico are a special case, given the continent’s shared commitment to mutual security, an integrated defence industry and the shared fight against dumped steel and that the best way to address U.S. concerns — “at least at this time” — is by continuing discussions.

The references to security are critical.

By law, the tariffs need to be described as a national security matter. A provision in a 1962 U.S. law allows the president to set emergency tariffs as a security issue. But the White House has repeatedly undermined its own legal case, including by intimating that the tariffs would be held over Canada and Mexico as some kind of negotiating tool to extract NAFTA concessions.

The White House is now clearly avoiding that kind of talk: “We will have ongoing discussions with Canada and Mexico,” a senior White House official said in a pre-announcement briefing.

The aide expressed frustration at the way the tariffs have been characterized, referring repeatedly to the “fake news,” the lobbyists and the “swamp things” that he said exaggerated the ill effects while fighting the measures.

Two polls released this week say the tariffs are unpopular.

But the same official said it truly is a matter of national security — with six U.S. aluminum smelters shutting down the last few years, and just five remaining, and only two operating at full capacity, he said that leaves the U.S. at risk of having to import all its aluminum eventually.

The White House adviser also pushed back against reports casting the process as arbitrary, sloppy and rife for successful legal challenges.

In one alleged example of haphazard policy-making, a report this week said the president raised the tariff rates for branding purposes, increasing them from the 24 and 7 per cent recommended by the Department of Commerce — because he wanted nice, round numbers.

The official insisted that was untrue. He said it was only upon careful calculation of import effects that the numbers landed at 25 per cent and 10 per cent. He did not explain how those round numbers managed to survive intact, even after the formula was later upended by the exclusion from tariffs of major suppliers.

Canada is the No. 1 seller of both steel and aluminum to the U.S.

The fact that Canada might be included on the initial hit list had become a political sore spot for the administration, as U.S. critics of the move ridiculed it by zeroing on the idea of national-security tariffs against a peaceful next-door neighbour and defence ally.

A full-court diplomatic press unfolded in recent days, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calling Trump earlier this week, and then speaking Thursday with the Republican leaders of both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Canada’s ambassador to Washington dined this week with U.S. national-security adviser H.R. McMaster; Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, and Transport Minister Marc Garneau all reached out to cabinet counterparts in recent days.

The lobbying found a mostly receptive audience: the U.S. military strongly resisted tariffs against allies and 107 congressional Republicans released a letter this week to express alarm over the move.

“This has been a true Team Canada effort,” said Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, also crediting provincial premiers, businesses and labour leaders.

“This work continues and it will continue until the prospect of these duties is fully and permanently lifted.”

She said Canada planned to keep this issue separate from NAFTA negotiations, as it has done with disputes over softwood lumber, paper, and Bombardier.

Other countries have threatened reprisals, prompting fears of a global trade war. But Trump said other American allies can get exemptions later, in exchange for something in return. He said they need to contact U.S. trade czar Robert Lighthizer, and negotiate.

Ontario passes law overhauling policing rules in province

Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Mar 9th, 2018

The Ontario government has passed a bill overhauling policing regulations in the province, saying it will strengthen oversight of law enforcement and redefine officers’ duties.

Bill 175, dubbed the Safer Ontario Act, passed in the legislature Thursday and offers the first updates to the Police Services Act in more than 25 years.

One of the most significant changes involves expanding the mandates of the province’s three police oversight agencies, increasing the scope of what they can investigate and adding extra accountability measures.

The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services says it revised the bill to reflect concerns voiced by police associations when the legislation was tabled last year.

But some of those police associations say they still have qualms about the bill, arguing it opens the door for privatization down the road by strictly defining officer duties and referring others for outsourcing.

Attorney General Yasir Naqvi says the long-sought updates to the province’s policing laws — which go into effect in a few months — will give forces the tools they need to do their work in the modern era.

“This bill is very much about strengthening the trust and respect between the police and the communities they serve,” Naqvi said. “The legislation we have passed today … really sets the framework for modern policing in 21st-century Ontario.”

Many of the changes stem from Appeal Court Justice Michael Tulloch’s report on police oversight, which made 129 recommendations aimed at increasing transparency and accountability for the province’s forces and the bodies that oversee their conduct.

The new bill requires the Special Investigations Unit or SIU, one of Ontario’s three police oversight agencies, to report publicly on all of its investigations and release the names of officers charged.

The three agencies — the SIU, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) and the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC) — will also get expanded mandates.

The OIPRD will be renamed the Ontario Policing Complaints Agency and investigate all public complaints against police officers. The OCPC will be renamed the Ontario Policing Discipline Tribunal, dedicated solely to adjudicating police disciplinary matters, so that such matters are no longer handled internally.

An Inspector General will be established to oversee police services, with the power to investigate and audit them, and Ontario’s ombudsman will be able to investigate complaints against the police oversight bodies.

As well, the SIU will have expanded powers to investigate both current and former officers, volunteer members of police services, special constables, off-duty officers and members of First Nations police services.

Police officers who don’t comply with such investigations could be fined up to $50,000 and/or be sent to jail for up to one year, a departure from current rules that do not force officers to co-operate with an investigation.

Naqvi characterized the rules as good news for Ontario residents.

“This allows for a more robust conversation between the SIU and the police service they’re investigating and making sure they get all the evidence, but they’re getting it in a way that is legal in terms of what’s allowed under the law and also practical given the circumstances of the case,” he said.

The new legislation also allows suspensions without pay when an officer is in custody or when they are charged with a serious federal offence that wasn’t allegedly committed in the course of their duties, bringing Ontario in line with policies in the rest of the country.

The biggest sticking point in recent months was the law’s capacity to define police responsibilities. The new bill lays out duties that can only be carried out by an officer, meaning forces could look to outside companies to conduct other functions.

Major police associations said this would pave the way for privatization and lobbied for amendments, some of which were made.

A statement by the Police Association of Ontario, the Toronto Police Association and the Ontario Provincial Police Association said the government gave some ground on the issue of privatization, but didn’t go far enough.

“With the complexity of this bill and the density of the amendments, the rush by this government to pass a bill that remains deeply flawed is an affront to those who believe in parliamentary democracy and leads us to question whether this government has failed to act in the best interest of the public and members of the police sector,” Toronto Police Association President Mike McCormack said in a statement.

The New Democrats also criticized the bill, saying they would like to see it repealed.

“(Ontario Premier) Kathleen Wynne is making the advancement of more robust police oversight and accountability — which we support — contingent on an agreement that they can contract out some public safety and policing to private sector security firms,” said NDP House Leader Gilles Bisson.

“New Democrats believe public safety should be delivered by public employees.”

Human rights complaint filed over treatment of Air Canada flight attendants

The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Mar 9th, 2018

The union representing Air Canada flight attendants says it has filed a human rights complaint alleging “systemic discrimination and harassment” of its members.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees says the airline’s policies on uniforms and makeup are discriminatory towards female flight attendants on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and race.

It adds the company’s new onboard service managers, who perform in-flight assessments of flight attendants, have made sexist, racist and homophobic remarks and have engaged in “inappropriate behaviour” towards flight attendants of both sexes.

The union that represents 8,500 flight attendants at Air Canada and Rouge is turning to the Canadian Human Rights Commission because the employer has failed to deal with members’ complaints, says CUPE section vice-president Beth Mahan.

It is asking the commission to order a review of Air Canada policies and eliminate the onboard service managers program.

Last month, WestJet Airlines Ltd. filed an appeal after the Supreme Court of British Columbia refused to throw out a proposed class-action lawsuit that accuses the company of fostering a corporate culture that tolerates harassment against female employees.

Former flight attendant Mandalena Lewis is suing WestJet over allegations of gender-based discrimination, accusing her former employer of breaking its promise to provide a harassment-free workplace for women.

Cases of canine influenza in Ontario linked to imported rescue dogs

Cristina Howorun | posted Friday, Mar 9th, 2018

Canine influenza — a relatively uncommon, yet potentially fatal respiratory disease — has been spreading through Ontario.

The infection is so rare in Ontario that most dogs aren’t vaccinated against it, which makes the recent outbreak even more troubling.

Ontario dogs haven’t been exposed to the strain and aren’t immunized against it, which has enabled it to spread quickly from a handful of dogs in central Ontario to an estimated 100 dogs.

The strain has now been found as far away as Grimsby, and has led to at least one dog’s death.

The source is believed to be mainland China.

Last month, several adult dogs were imported from China through a rescue group. They arrived with their vaccination records, but the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) does not require adult dogs to be quarantined or examined by a veterinarian upon arrival.

“When the dogs arrive at the airport, and I think this is a surprise for a lot of people, they aren’t looked over,” said Nicole Tryon, who picked up the dogs on Feb. 13.

“They come in as cargo, as commercial goods. [Customs checks] to make sure they have rabies vaccinations. They barely look into the kennels, nothing.”

According to the CFIA website and Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) guidelines, in most cases, imported pets do not require veterinary exams upon arrival or mandatory quarantine periods.

“We’ve had concerns about importing for quite a while,” said the Ontario Veterinary College’s Scott Weese, one of the authors of a 2016 report calling for tougher regulations.

“We know that when you move animals across big distances, they bring things with them and that can include a variety of diseases — and the flu has been one of those concerns. We could see this was likely to happen at some point as there are very little restrictions on how you move dogs between countries.”

Based on data collected from rescue groups, Weese believes about 6,200 rescue dogs entered Canada in 2014. But the CFIA doesn’t track all imported dogs; only very specific types require import licences.

Most of the group’s recommendations, including the accurate tracking of imported dogs, do not appear to have been adopted by the agency.

“We don’t have a lot of regulation for the animals that come in,” Weese said. “The main concern is rabies vaccination, and even that is fairly lax.”

Tryon expressed concerns about the dogs’ coughs almost immediately, but was assured by the rescue agency manager that they were suffering from the much less severe kennel cough.

The dogs spent several days in Tryon’s care with her dogs, before she took them into her home and they interacted with several other dogs.

Tryon said her dogs became ill, and oral swabs sent to a lab revealed they had contracted canine influzena. She quickly quarantined the dogs, which received antibiotics and care and are recovering.

“It’s scary,” she said. “It spread so quickly and it forced my dog’s daycare centre to close for the past few weeks to stop it from spreading. It’s costing them lots of money to stay closed and to lose out on boarding clients, but it’s the only responsible thing to do.”

Weese recommends getting your dog vaccinated if you live in or visit affected areas, including Orillia, Bracebridge or Gravenhurst

An H3N2 canine influenza vaccine is available in Canada and efforts are underway to ensure an adequate vaccine supply is present, he said.

Staying in town for March Break? Top 10 things to do

Patricia D'Cunha and Amber LeBlanc | posted Thursday, Mar 8th, 2018

March is a busy month with the start of daylight time, the arrival of spring, saying goodbye to the Toronto Zoo pandas, and the Easter long weekend. And to top it off, March Break kicks off this weekend.

While some families will be heading out of town for March Break, others will be spending the week in the city. If you are looking for something to do, below are 10 suggestions. The City of Toronto is also offering various camps and programs, as well as indoor and outdoor skating, drop-in programs, swimming, and activities at historic sites and museums.

Need-to-know for planning

As you plan your staycation, keep in mind there is a subway closure the next two weekends for TTC work. This weekend, subways won’t be running in Line 1 between St. Clair West and Union stations. Shuttle buses will only be running between St. Clair West and Spadina stations. Then, the weekend of March 17 to 18, service will be shut down on Line 3 from Kennedy to McCowan stations. Shuttle buses will run between Scarborough Centre and Kennedy stations.

And a reminder that clocks spring forward at 2 a.m. Sunday, which means you lose an hour of sleep. But the good news is that spring is around the corner, arriving at 12:15 p.m. on March 20.

Top 10 things to do

Panda farewell at Toronto Zoo
If you haven’t seen the giant pandas yet, the week of March Break will be your last chance to do so before they move to the Calgary Zoo. Da Mao and Er Shun arrived in Canada on a 10-year loan from China in 2013. Two years later, Er Shun gave birth to Panpan and Jia Yueyue. The plan was for the pandas to stay for five years in Toronto and then live in Calgary for the next five. The giant panda exhibit closes at 6 p.m. on March 18, so make sure to say your goodbyes. While you are there, visit the one-horned rhino calf and Aldabra tortoises. If you are not too scared, check out the new Asian Carp exhibit. During March break, you can also get a behind-the-scenes look at what zoo workers do.

A day to be Irish
A week before St. Patrick’s Day, it’s a day for everyone to be Irish in spirit. The annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade starts at noon on March 10 from the corner of Bloor and St. George streets. It heads east on Bloor, south on Yonge and west on Queen, ending at Nathan Phillips Square. Spectators are asked to bring a non-perishable food item. The Toronto Paramedic Association and Toronto Paramedic Services will be collecting donations for Daily Bread Food Bank along the parade route.

Kids get their own TIFF
It’s a great March Break event for young film lovers. It’s the 2018 TIFF Kids International Film Festival with films designed for children aged three to 13. Organizers say the 10 days of programming are designed to inspire and empower kids through the discovery of filmmaking and animation. It runs from March 9 to 18 at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.

Beach getaway with paint
If you are not able to head to a warm destination for March Break, not to worry. Your child can have the beach come to them. All they need is paint and some imagination. At Paintlounge, they can paint their favourite things from the beach, like starfish, turtles, palm trees, and footprints in the sand, and incorporate them into one canvas. The young artists will also learn various painting techniques. The cost is $30 (HST not included) per 16-by-20-inch canvas. The paints, supplies and smocks will be provided. The workshop is recommended for children aged five to 12, and they must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Say it with music
Children soak up music everyday — whether we sing them to sleep, teach them nursery rhymes, have the radio or iPod on in the car or at home, or play a tune using wooden spoons in the kitchen. Most kids are inherently drawn to music, which is why the songwriting workshop at Todmorden Mills is right up their alley. The workshops, which start March 11, are tailored to children aged nine and up and are led by a songwriter-in-residence. They can also continue to develop their songwriting skills after March Break. The cost is included with regular admission to Todmorden Mills, and the admission is waived if they return for consecutive sessions. Space is limited, so register by calling 416-396-2819.

Time travel to pioneer days
It’s a time-travel-tastic March Break at Black Creek Pioneer Village. The village is open between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday to Friday, and between 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the weekend. Children under 14 are free all week long (up to four children with the purchase of an adult ticket). Among the fun activities: solving mysteries, delving into the world of maple syrup, and checking out the heritage buildings and artifacts.

Light and reflection at AGO
Children will be dazzled with the magic of light at the Art Gallery of Toronto. They can make a lantern of light, play with light and shadow, create a futuristic city, and do other fun activities. The March Break extravaganza runs March 10 to 18 and is free with general admission. If you were planning to get tickets for the Infinity Mirrors exhibit, you may be out of luck since there is a long queue for tickets. But, a new batch of tickets will be released on March 27, so you can try again after March Break. The AGO is warning visitors to be aware of possible ticket scams for the exhibit.

The Last Jedi at Ontario Place
Star Wars lovers are invited to the Cinesphere at Ontario Place this March BreakStar Wars: The Last Jedi is screening on the Cinesphere’s 10-storey screen March 9 to 10. For those not into Star Wars, leave your favourite nerd at the Cinesphere and spend some time exploring the lakeside destination. Not only is there ice skating, but also snacks, an outdoor bonfire and 12 art installations created by local artists.

Vikings descend on the ROM
Travel back in time to the Viking era. Experience Norse life with re-enactments and talk with explorers, warriors, farmers, and artisans about their lives. You can also create your own jewelry like the skilled artisans. The ROM’s March Break programming runs March 10 to 18 and also includes other activities like scavenger hunts and learning to camp. All of the activities and live performances are included with the price of admission.

Casa Loma goes medieval
March Break is getting medieval at Toronto’s only castle. The theme of the week is Imagine Dragons and they’re not joking — visitors will be greeted by a huge, fire-breathing metal dragon sitting on the terrace. You can also travel down the 800-foot underground tunnel to the stables to visit medieval stallions. If the weather doesn’t co-operate, there is an indoor bouncy castle, arts and crafts and face-painting. Standard admission rates apply.

Tory calls for external independent review of missing persons cases

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, Mar 8th, 2018

Mayor John Tory is calling for an external independent review of how missing persons cases are handled in Toronto.

Tory says there are “many unanswered questions” and he will be making the formal request at the next Police Services Board meeting in March.

The comments were made at the guns and gangs summit in Ottawa after reports surfaced that alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur was once interviewed and released by Toronto police during an investigation years ago.

Toronto police have come under intense scrutiny over how the case was handled.

“This case is a tragic case. …There are many unanswered questions,” said Tory. “It’s why I’ve called for an external independent review of missing persons cases generally and how they’re handled and how we can do better.”

Tory says the results of the review should be made public as soon as possible and not wait for the McArthur investigation to run its course.

“I think the sooner we have answers to some of these unanswered questions that will be better for everybody.”

Tory adds he will also ask the Province to consider holding a public inquiry at the close of any criminal proceedings.

Police seek suspect in GoodLife gym thefts

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, Mar 8th, 2018

Some gym-goers looking to drop a few pounds ended up a little lighter in the wallet after a series of recent thefts at GoodLife Fitness Centres in Toronto.

Toronto police say the first incident took place at the GoodLife at 3280 on Bloor St. W. on Jan. 23 at around 5 p.m.

A 45-year-old man put his belongings in a locker and proceeded to work out. When he returned to the locker room he noticed that his credit cards had been stolen.

A similar incident took place on Feb. 4 at around 4 p.m. at the GoodLife at 185 The West Mall.

Police say a 30-year-old man returned from his workout to find his lock cut and his wallet and keys stolen from his locker.

In both instances, police say the stolen credit cards were used to make purchases at nearby businesses.

Police have released security images of the suspect. If you know anything, contact police.

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