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Snow, freezing rain headed for the GTA

NEWS STAFF | posted Wednesday, Feb 20th, 2019

A special weather statement is in effect for the region, ahead of a system that’s expected to move in Wednesday afternoon.

Environment Canada said snow will arrive around noon and then change to freezing rain this evening.

“Freezing rain or freezing drizzle will then change to occasional rain or drizzle near midnight as temperatures rise above the zero degree mark,” the national weather agency said in its statement.

680 NEWS meteorologist Jill Taylor said snow will develop around 2 p.m. with around two centimetres expected to fall. The freezing rain will start at 7 p.m. and change to rain at 9 p.m.

As the temperature nears the 0 C mark, there could be times when the snow will mix with the freezing rain or rain.

Fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld dead at 85: reports

NEWS STAFF | posted Tuesday, Feb 19th, 2019

Fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld has died in Paris at the age of 85, French media is reporting.

Lagerfeld started his fashion career in 1955 as an assistant to Pierre Balmain.

Over the decades he became a staple in the fashion world, usually seen in his signature black and white attire and waving his white fan.

In 1974 Lagerfeld launched his own clothing line and in 1983 Chanel announced he would serve as creative director.

His designs were recently a focus of an episode of the Netflix show 7 Days Out, which looked at the days leading up to the Chanel Haute Couture Fashion Show during Paris Fashion Week.

Kids should avoid ingesting cough and cold products with opioids: Health Canada

NEWS STAFF | posted Tuesday, Feb 19th, 2019

Health Canada is recommending children stop ingesting ingredients used in some cold and cough medicine because of its potential links to problematic substance abuse.

Based on a new safety review, the agency says anyone under the age of 18 should not use over-the-counter products that contain codeine, hydrocodone and normethadone, as a precautionary measure.

The review found the early use of opioids could be a factor in problematic substance use later in life. It also detected limited evidence to support the effectiveness of the cough and cold medicines for children.

However, they did say there was no strong evidence linking cough and cold products that contain opioids with opioid use disorders.

They recommend parents should ask their health care professional about alternatives to cough and cold medicines that contain opioids.

Codeine products are already not recommended for children under 12 while hydrocodone and normethadone products were not recommended for children under six.

While most codeine products do require a prescription, however, there are some over-the counter products that contain a low dose of codeine.

Health Canada is asking manufacturers of the medicines to update their product safety information to make it clear the the products should not be taken by minors.

The agency also plans to consult with the Drug Safety and Effectiveness Network for additional studies on the links between opioid use disorder and the use of products that contain opioids.

Ontario legislature returns after winter break, policing legislation expected

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Feb 19th, 2019

Ontario’s legislature resumes today with the Progressive Conservative government expected to tackle several issues this session, including changes to policing oversight.

The Tories halted laws introduced by the previous Liberal regime to strengthen oversight of law enforcement and redefine officers’ duties, and a government source says legislation on policing is expected to be introduced today.

Legislation is also expected before the end of the month to create a health “super agency,” moving local health integration networks, Cancer Care Ontario, eHealth Ontario under one umbrella.

The government will also set the stage for its first budget with a stated goal of slashing a $13.5-billion deficit and providing a picture of how Ontario can get back into the black.

Finance Minister Vic Fedeli has said the budget will show a path to balance, though he hasn’t specified if the government will eliminate the deficit within its four-year mandate.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Federation of Students is expected to hold a demonstration at the legislature today to protest recently announced cuts to student grants.

After a week away, SNC-Lavalin questions await MPs returning to Parliament

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Feb 19th, 2019

OTTAWA — The opposition parties are charging back into the House of Commons today, loaded with questions for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about what his office did to try to help the embattled Montreal engineering company SNC-Lavalin in its corruption case.

Before MPs left for a week in their ridings, Jody Wilson-Raybould was veterans affairs minister and Gerald Butts was Trudeau’s principal secretary, his closest adviser.

Now they’ve both quit and it’s still not clear what Butts or anyone else in the Prime Minister’s Office might have done to push Wilson-Raybould on SNC-Lavalin when she was attorney general and had a say over the charges the company faces.

In the afternoon, the Commons justice committee is holding a closed-door meeting to discuss how its probe of the affair should go.

Opposition members want to call at least nine witnesses, including Butts, other top Trudeau aides and Wilson-Raybould, but Liberals on the committee have so far used their majority to keep the witness list to three.

For now, the committee is planning to look only at the political and legal roles of the justice minister as well as the inner workings of a so-called remediation agreement — the alternative to prosecution sought by SNC-Lavalin.

The Canadian Press

Family Day long weekend: fun events, what’s open and closed Monday

SAMANTHA KNIGHT AND NEWS STAFF | posted Friday, Feb 15th, 2019

The Family Day long weekend is finally here, so enjoy your three days off. Scroll below for some fun events taking place over the weekend and for a list of what’s open and closed.


What’s open and closed on Family Day

Open

  • Most tourist attractions and museums: Art Gallery of Ontario (10:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.), Royal Ontario Museum (10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.), CN Tower (9 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.), Casa Loma (9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.), the Toronto Zoo (9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.), and Hockey Hall of Fame (10 a.m. – 5 p.m.)
  • TTC runs on a holiday schedule
  • GO Transit operates on a Saturday schedule
  • Some malls: Bramalea City Centre (11 a.m. – 6 p.m.), Eaton Centre (11 a.m. – 7 p.m.), Promenade (11 a.m. – 6 p.m.), Square One (11 a.m. – 6 p.m.), and Toronto Premium Outlets (10 a.m. – 9 p.m.)
  • Some grocery stores, but call ahead for hours
  • Most city-run ice rinks and arenas
  • Federal government offices; mail will be delivered

 

Closed

  • LCBO and Beer stores
  • Municipal buildings and banks
  • Public libraries

Weekend events

There are several events taking place over the weekend, including the Toronto Marlies taking on the Syracuse Crunch at the Scotiabank Arena at 3 p.m. on Monday. Below are some more events.

Family Day Weekend at Ontario Place
Get outdoorsy this Family Day weekend at Ontario Place. The West Island is offering tons of activities and to top it all off, admission is free. There will be skate parties, community bonfires and a winter light exhibition. But, if you prefer to keep warm inside, there are painting lessons, special effect make-up classes, a YMCA pop-up camp and movies at Cinesphere. For a full list of Family Day weekend programming, click here.

ROM Family Day Weekend
The Royal Ontario Museum will be celebrating our rich multicultural landscape with musical performances and activities this long weekend. The event will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday through Monday. It features historical dances, including Renaissance and Baroque, 19th century Character Dance and excerpts from the Romantic ballet. There will also be Flamenco dancing and songs by Mozart. The programming is free with Museum admission.

DUKE on Ice Family Winterfest
North York is holding its first-ever DUKE on Ice Family Winterfest this Family Day. The festival includes indoor skating, maple syrup snow taffy, face painting, games, free books for every child to take home, food and craft vendors. It’s taking place at the Champagne Centre from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday. Admission and parking are free.

Family Day at the Legislature
Explore Queen’s Park this Saturday, during a special two-hour Family Day program. Families will get the opportunity to tour the historic legislative building, do a scavenger hunt, learn about how Parliament works and make crafts. The sessions run from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. Pre-registration is required. For more information, click here.

Brewer’s Backyard Family Day
Brewer’s Backyard is celebrating Family Day with a “tap takeover” at Evergreen Brick Works. It will feature South Etobicoke Brewers, including Big Rock Brewery, Black Oak Brewing and Great Lakes Brewery. There will also be food from Delight Bite, Los Vietnamitas and Heirloom Toronto. The event runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Young Welcome Centre and BMO Atrium. All ages are welcome.

Canadian International Autoshow
Car buffs will be taking over the Metro Toronto Convention Centre for the next week and a half, for the annual Canadian International Autoshow. The show kicks off on Friday and runs until Sunday February 24th. It features exotic cars, Second Word War-era vehicles, classics, EV test-drives, Lexus test-drives, a Barrett-Jackson showcase of some of the most prized cars in collections from across Canada, and more! The Canadian International Autoshow welcomes an average of 300,000 visitors each year. It’s been held in Toronto since 1974.

GTA Home & Reno Show
Looking to re-do your bathroom or update your kitchen? If so, the GTA Home & Reno Show is the place to be this weekend. The show is taking place at the International Centre in Mississauga Friday through Monday. Guests can take part in hands-on workshops at the Handyman’s Corner, get inspired by touring the show’s feature home, get design advice and learn the ins and outs of renovations from various experts. There’s also kids programming on Family Day, including the Little Green Thumb’s Make it & Take it Garden, creative colouring, planting activities and mini putting.

Winter Stations
The beach is not just a place to enjoy during the summertime but it can also be a happy place in the winter. Starting Friday and until April 1, head to Woodbine Beach and check out the art installations that celebrates the city’s waterfront landscape during winter. This year’s theme is “Migration.” Lifeguard stands will be used as part of each installation.

WinterRouge
The winter season is not all gloom and doom, so make the best of the season on Family Day. The Rouge National Urban Park is hosting a day of free, family-friendly winter fun from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Some of the activities include bird watching, building a bird feeder, testing your hockey skills, snowshoeing, and sipping on hot chocolate like they would have made it in the 18th century.

Amazon dumps New York City as new headquarters site

JOSEPH PISANI, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Friday, Feb 15th, 2019

Amazon abruptly dropped plans Thursday for a big new headquarters in New York that would have brought 25,000 jobs to the city, reversing course after politicians and activists objected to the nearly $3 billion in tax breaks promised to what is already one of the world’s richest, most powerful companies.

“We are disappointed to have reached this conclusion – we love New York,” the online giant from Seattle said in a blog post announcing its withdrawal.

The stunning move was a serious blow to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, who had lobbied intensely to land the project, competing against more than 200 other metropolitan areas across the continent that were practically tripping over each other to offer incentives to Amazon in a bidding war the company stoked.

Cuomo lashed out at fellow New York politicians over Amazon’s change of heart, saying the project would have helped diversify the city’s economy, cement its status as an emerging tech hub and generate money for schools, housing and transit.

“A small group politicians put their own narrow political interests above their community,” he said.

But Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York City’s new liberal firebrand, exulted over Amazon’s pullout.

“Today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers and their neighbours defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world,” she tweeted, referring to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

The swift unraveling of the project reflected growing antipathy toward large technology companies among liberals and populists who accuse big business of holding down wages and wielding too much political clout, analysts said.

“This all of a sudden became a perfect test case for all those arguments,” said Joe Parilla, a fellow at the Brooking Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program.

Amazon ultimately decided it did not want to be drawn into that battle.

Amazon announced in November that it had chosen the Long Island City section of Queens for one of two new headquarters, with the other in Arlington, Virginia. Both would get 25,000 jobs. A third site in Nashville, Tennessee, would get 5,000.

The company planned to spend $2.5 billion building the New York office, choosing the area in part because of its large pool of tech talent. The governor and the mayor had argued that the project would spur economic growth that would pay for the $2.8 billion in state and city incentives many times over.

After Amazon backed out, De Blasio, who according to his press secretary learned of the decision an hour before it was announced, criticized the company for not doing more to try to win over New Yorkers, saying: “You have to be tough to make it in New York City.”

In pulling out, Amazon said it isn’t looking for a replacement location “at this time.” It said it plans to spread the technology jobs that were slated for New York to other offices around the U.S. and Canada, including Chicago, Toronto and Austin, Texas. It will also expand its existing New York offices, which already have about 5,000 employees.

Amazon faced fierce opposition over the tax breaks, with critics complaining that the project was an extravagant giveaway – or worse, a shakedown – and that it wouldn’t provide much direct benefit to most New Yorkers.

The list of grievances against the project grew as the months wore on, with critics complaining about Amazon’s stance on unions and some Long Island City residents fretting that the company’s arrival would drive up rents and other costs.

Opposition to the deal was led in the Democrat-controlled state Senate by Michael Gianaris, the chamber’s No. 2 lawmaker, whose district includes Long Island City. Initially among the politicians who supported bringing an Amazon headquarters to the city, Gianaris did an about-face after the deal was announced, criticizing the secrecy surrounding the negotiations and the generous incentives.

Earlier this month, Gianaris was appointed to a little-known state panel that could have ultimately been asked to approve the subsidies.

The City Council probably would have had to file a lawsuit to scuttle the deal, which was structured to avoid the land use review process that most projects undergo.

In recent weeks, City Council members held hearings at which they grilled Amazon officials about such things as the company’s contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to provide facial recognition technology.

One City Council leader tried to get Amazon officials to agree to remain neutral in the face of any potential union drive. But an Amazon executive would not give such a commitment.

A Quinnipiac University poll released in December found New York City voters supported having an Amazon headquarters 57 per cent to 26 per cent. But they were divided over the incentives: 46 per cent in favour, 44 per cent against.

Construction industry groups and some local business leaders had urged the public and officials to get behind the plan.

Eric Benaim, a realty executive who gets most of his sales and rentals in Long Island City, had led a petition in support of Amazon, drawing 4,000 signatures.

“I woke up this morning and I had no clue this would happen. Zero. This news is a shock, and I’m devastated,” he said.

Andrew Ousley, a business owner who lives near the proposed site, said he had been considering moving out before Amazon moved in.

“Now that they’re not coming, I’m more likely to stay and see how the neighbourhood continues to grow and evolve in a more organic fashion,” he said.

Ford government promises ‘action’ if Hydro One doesn’t cut proposed CEO pay

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Feb 15th, 2019

Ontario’s energy minister says the government will take “any and all action necessary” if Hydro One doesn’t drastically cut its proposed CEO compensation, but the semi-private utility appears not to be budging.

In a letter sent to Hydro One board chair Tom Woods on Wednesday, Energy Minister Greg Rickford says the provincial cabinet was “profoundly disappointed” by the utility’s proposed compensation framework.

“As you are aware, our government was elected on the commitment that we will clean up the hydro mess and restore accountability and trust in the electricity sector,” says Rickford.

The framework, submitted to the province last week and made public on Thursday, lays out a proposed maximum compensation of $2,775,000 for the company’s next CEO.

Rickford says the government doesn’t want that number to exceed $1.5 million, calling the proposed framework “a significant divide.”

Rickford goes on to request that Hydro One get back to the government by “Thursday at 5 p.m.” with a proposal that meets the government’s requirements.

“I want to reiterate that the decision on who will serve as the next CEO remains the exclusive prerogative of the board and that our government will play no role in your hiring decision,” said Rickford. “As is clearly detailed in the Hydro One Accountability Act, cabinet retains the authority to approve your compensation framework.”

But on Thursday, the company released its proposed compensation framework to the public without the government’s requested cut to executive compensation.

“We have been listening carefully to our largest shareholder, the Province of Ontario, as well as other large shareholders, and have made a considerable effort to balance concerns around cost management with the need to attract, retain and motivate highly qualified leadership,” Woods said in a letter accompanying the framework.

When the Progressive Conservatives came to power last spring, one of the government’s first acts was to force the resignation of former Hydro One CEO Mayo Schmidt, whom Premier Doug Ford had dubbed “the six-million-dollar man.”

That move was followed by the resignation of the utility’s entire board, as well as downgrades and lower values of Hydro One shares.

Last month, Hydro One and American utility Avista Corp. announced they were cancelling a planned merger, after regulators in Washington state said the deal would not sufficiently safeguard customers from the whims of the Ontario government.

This summer the government passed legislation give it sweeping new powers over executive compensation at Hydro One.

The bill gives the government authority to approve executive compensation at the utility, and gives cabinet the ability to issue directives to restrict the total annual compensation payable to its CEO and directors.

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