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Jagmeet Singh wants opioid addiction declared a national crisis

CityNews | posted Monday, Nov 6th, 2017

Jagmeet Singh says he’s witnessed the devastation of British Columbia’s opioid overdose epidemic and it breaks his heart.

The federal New Democrat Party leader said he visited an overdose prevention site in Vancouver this week where he saw people struggling with addiction and learned how to administer the overdose-busting medication Naloxone.

Singh told about two thousand delegates attending the B.C. NDP convention on Saturday that Canada’s drug laws should reflect that drug addiction is a social justice issue and not a criminal justice matter. He called on the federal government to declare opioid addiction a national crisis.

Singh drew a standing ovation when he said the New Democrats would decriminalize personal possession of all drugs, not just marijuana.

“I saw that people’s lives are being destroyed while the federal government does little or nothing and it breaks my heart,” he said. “I saw with my own eyes the devastation of the opioid crisis.”

Singh said addiction is rooted in issues of poverty and mental health.

“To me poverty, mental health and addictions don’t sound like criminal justice problems,” he said. “They sound to me like a social justice problem. That’s why I’m calling for the decriminalization of all personal possession offences when it comes to drugs to make a difference in the lives of people and actually bring real change.”

Singh, elected NDP leader last month, said the federal New Democrats must become the party that represents the lives and hopes of Canadians.

“We get it,” he said. “We are the party that hears the stories of people, the struggles. We must again be the party that inspires Canadians. That makes their hearts beat faster.”

Earlier, B.C. Premier John Horgan told delegates the provincial party is celebrating forming government after 16 years of Liberal administrations, but serious decisions about the Site C dam and Kinder Morgan pipeline are ahead.

Toronto FC loses but advances to Eastern Final on away goals rule

CityNews | posted Monday, Nov 6th, 2017

Toronto FC lost 1-0 to the New York Red Bulls in an abrasive, ill-tempered game Sunday but still advanced to the MLS Eastern Conference final on the away goals rule after the series ended in a 2-2 tie on aggregate.

It was a feisty affair that saw Toronto striker Jozy Altidore and Red Bulls captain Sacha Kljestan sent off after a tunnel melee at halftime. And things got worse after that with the game threatening to spiral out of control from referee Chris Penso, who issued eight yellows in addition to the two reds.

League-leading Toronto will be without its other star striker next time out after Sebastian Giovinco received his second yellow in as many games.

TFC will play the Columbus Crew, who advanced 3-4 on aggregate against NYCFC.

Bradley Wright-Phillips, notching his 100th career goal for the sixth-seeded Red Bulls when a long-range shot deflected in off him, scored the game’s lone goal in the 53rd minute to give the visitors hope.

A Toronto goal by Jonathan Osorio in the 78th minute was called off due to a foul, apparently for what was considered a shove to a Red Bulls player.

Who’s responsible for scooping the taxi scoopers at Pearson

CityNews | posted Monday, Nov 6th, 2017

When it comes to putting the brakes on taxi scoopers, it seems there isn’t much anyone can do.

CityNews first brought you the story of “Taxi Bandits”, drivers who solicit passengers from the arrival area of Pearson International Airport before they make their way outside. These passengers are then lured toward the parkade, are charged more than what they should pay for a ride and often asked to pay with cash only.

The airport has a private security firm to deal with scoopers but as one commissionaire told us, it’s easier said than done.

“It can be frustrating because they know the law,” says Wayne Jeffrey, a commissionaire at Toronto Pearson International Airport.

“They are non-compliant with us, as commissionaires we can ticket their vehicles if they leave them unattended but that doesn’t seem to bother them.”

Jeffrey says all commissionaires can do is warn passengers when they see them with these taxi bandits. They don’t have the authority to stop them. That is up to law enforcement, but even they have very little influence.

“They’re providing a service,” said Constable Mark Fischer of Peel Regional Police.

“The difference is that the service that they are providing is not regulated under the licensing of the airport.”

Fischer added the most these drivers can be charged with is trespassing. While Peel police are still part of law enforcement in regards to illegal taxi services, hiring security units rests with the Greater Toronto Airport Authority

In a statement to CityNews the GTAA said, “The safety of our passengers is Toronto Pearson’s first priority. We engage private security and public education to protect our passengers against unlicensed taxis. We also cooperate with our partners at Peel Regional Police to deter unlicensed taxi drivers from operating at Toronto Pearson.”

“We recommend that passengers ask an airport employee if they are uncertain of where to go for legitimate taxi and limo service. Licensed drivers will not approach passengers in the public areas of the arrivals halls. Also, passengers should look for signage throughout the terminals to identify the verified taxi and limo stand areas. These stands are clearly marked at the curbs of both terminals’ arrivals areas.”

As for the city’s role, councillor Giorgio Mammoliti says there’s not much they can do either.

“This is federal jurisdiction,” said Mammoliti. “They need to change legislation so that municipalities can work in their bylaws to remove the cars of these drivers if they continue their illegal activities.”

Who owns your Twitter account when it comes to your employment?

CityNews | posted Monday, Nov 6th, 2017

A popular Toronto Parking Enforcement Officer is currently the talk of twitter, after his account was suspended following his employers claims there were concerns about his posts.

Kyle Ashley is described as a passionate and outspoken bike cop, who isn’t too shy to call out violators parked in bike lanes on Twitter. However, since Friday, his account @TPS_ParkingPal is no longer active on the social media site, and many, including city councillors took notice.

“As one Councillor voice, I so appreciated Kyle’s tweets. He is exactly what enforcement needs,” Councillor Joe Mihevc tweeted.

Cycle Toronto, a bike advocacy group, tweeted Toronto Police and John Tory asking why the account was removed.

Ashley tells CityNews he’s the one who decided to suspend his account, after he says Toronto Police showed up at his door demanding his twitter credentials.

“I chose to deactivate it at that point,” he said. “I received no advisement on what the tweets were of concern. Other than brief allusion to interactions with people in Montreal.”

He adds as of now, he is expected at work on Monday.

The Toronto Police Service did not tell CityNews which posts were deemed ‘concerning’.

“While he has done some excellent work highlighting bike lanes, there have been some ongoing concerns about some of the postings on his account. Those concerns have escalated,” said Mark Pugash, Director of Corporate Communications with TPS. “We felt the most appropriate thing to do was to suspend, temporarily, his Twitter account while we look into those concerns.”

CityNews reached out to Twitter Canada and a spokesperson said social media policies are defined by individual employees. Though the site advises users to post content they are comfortable sharing with others, as it is their sole responsibility.

“Any use or reliance on any Content or materials posted via the Services or obtained by you through the Services is at your own risk,” reads Twitter’s Terms of Service. “We do not endorse, support, represent or guarantee the completeness, truthfulness, accuracy, or reliability of any Content or communications posted via the Services or endorse any opinions expressed via the Services.”

However, there are instances where the site may disclose personal information, if it believes “it is reasonably necessary to comply with a law, regulation, legal process, or governmental request.” The site states non-personal information that can be disclosed include things like the number of tweet engagements, how many users click on particular links or voted on polls, or trending topics.

“Obtaining non-public information, such as an email address used to sign-up for an account or IP login information, requires valid legal process like subpoena, court order, or other local legal process, depending on the country that issues the request,” Twitter Canada says.

There are also non-public requests, like direct messages, that may delve deeper and require a search warrants. Twitter Canada says it doesn’t always provide information when it receives legal requests.

“Twitter may seek to narrow requests that are overly broad, request additional context if the nature of the investigation is not clear, or push back on the request for other reasons,” said Twitter Canada.

Weekend time change brings about pedestrian safety initiative

CityNews | posted Monday, Nov 6th, 2017

This past weekend’s time change comes with a Toronto Police pedestrian safety initiative.

The week-long Step Up and Be Safe campaign starts Monday with police officers paying particular attention to motorists, cyclists and pedestrians committing offences near crosswalks, intersections and school zones.

Pedestrians are also being encouraged to avoid using distracting electronic devices when approaching intersections.

Police say the number of pedestrian-related traffic injuries typically increases during the month of November, due in part to the time change.

A total of 28 pedestrians have lost their lives so far this year, which represents over 57 per cent of the total of all traffic fatalities in Toronto.

Last Friday, eight pedestrians were struck by vehicles across the city – five of them within one hour.

Const. Clint Stibbe said all collisions, including ones involving pedestrians, are preventable.

“We have to pay attention to what’s happening around us. Put down those devices. Make sure you are focusing on the task at hand which is either operating the car or even crossing the street,” he said.

Officials consider the day after the time change – whether it is fall back or spring forward – as one of the most dangerous days on the streets for pedestrians.

Texas church attack leaves 26 dead, small community reeling

CityNews | posted Monday, Nov 6th, 2017

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas — A gunman dressed in black tactical-style gear and armed with an assault rifle opened fire inside a small South Texas church, killing 26 people in an attack that claimed tight-knit neighbours and multiple family members ranging in age from 5 to 72 years old.

Once the shooting started Sunday at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, there was likely “no way” for congregants to escape, said Wilson County Sheriff Joe D. Tackitt Jr. Officials said about 20 others were wounded.

“He just walked down the centre aisle, turned around and my understanding was shooting on his way back out,” said Tackitt, who said the gunman also carried a handgun but that he didn’t know if it was fired. Tackitt described the scene as “terrible.”

“It’s unbelievable to see children, men and women, laying there. Defenceless people,” he said.

Authorities didn’t identify the attacker during a news conference Sunday night. But two other officials — one a U.S. official and one in law enforcement — identified him as Devin Kelley. They spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the investigation.

The U.S. official said Kelley lived in a San Antonio suburb and didn’t appear to be linked to organized terrorist groups. Investigators were looking at social media posts Kelley made in the days before the attack, including one that appeared to show an AR-15 semiautomatic weapon.

Kelley received a bad conduct discharge from the Air Force for assaulting his spouse and child, and was sentenced to 12 months’ confinement after a 2012 court-martial. Kelley served in Logistics Readiness at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico from 2010 until his 2014 discharge, Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said.

At the news conference, the attacker was described only as a white man in his 20s who was wearing black tactical gear and a ballistic vest when he pulled into a gas station across from the church, about 30 miles (48.28 kilometres) southeast of San Antonio, around 11:20 a.m.

The gunman crossed the street and started firing the rifle at the church, said Freeman Martin, a regional director of the Texas Department of Safety, then continued firing after entering the white wood-frame building, where an 11 a.m. service was scheduled.

As he left, the shooter was confronted by an armed resident who “grabbed his rifle and engaged that suspect,” Martin said. A short time later, the suspect was found dead in his vehicle at the county line.

Federal agents, including ATF investigators and the FBI’s evidence collection team, swarmed the small rural community of just hundreds of residents.

Several weapons were found inside the vehicle and Martin said it was unclear if the attacker died of a self-inflicted wound or if he was shot by the resident who confronted him. He said investigators weren’t ready to discuss a possible motive.

Martin said 23 of the dead were found in the church, two were found outside and one died after being taken to a hospital.

The man who confronted Kelley had help from another local resident, Johnnie Langendorff, who told KSAT TV that he was driving past the church as the shooting happened. He didn’t identify the armed resident but said the man exchanged gunfire with the gunman, then asked to get in Langendorff’s truck and the pair followed as the gunman drove away.

Langendorff said the gunman eventually lost control of his vehicle and crashed. He said the other man walked up to the vehicle with his gun drawn and the suspect did not move. He stayed there for at least five minutes, until police arrived.

“I was strictly just acting on what’s the right thing to do,” Langendorff said.

Among those killed was the church pastor’s 14-year-old daughter, Annabelle Pomeroy. Pastor Frank Pomeroy and his wife, Sherri, were both out of town when the attack occurred, Sherri Pomeroy wrote in a text message.

“We lost our 14-year-old daughter today and many friends,” she wrote. “Neither of us has made it back into town yet to personally see the devastation. I am at the charlotte airport trying to get home as soon as I can.”


Church member Nick Uhlig, 34, who wasn’t at Sunday’s service, told the AP that his cousin, who was 8 months pregnant, and her in-laws were among those killed. He later told the Houston Chronicle that three of his cousin’s children also were slain.

President Donald Trump, who was in Japan, called the shooting an “act of evil,” later calling the gunman “a very deranged individual.”

Sunday evening, two sheriff’s vans were parked outside the gate of a cattle fence surrounding the address listed for Kelley on the rural, western outskirts of New Braunfels, north of San Antonio.

Ryan Albers, 16, who lives across the road, said he heard intensifying gunfire coming from that direction in recent days.

“It was definitely not just a shotgun or someone hunting,” Albers said. “It was someone using automatic weapon fire.”

The church has posted videos of its Sunday services on a YouTube channel, raising the possibility that the shooting was captured on video.

In a video of its Oct. 8 service, a congregant who spoke and read Scripture pointed to the Oct. 1 Las Vegas shooting a week earlier as evidence of the “wicked nature” of man. That shooting left 58 dead and more than 500 injured.

Gov. Greg Abbott called Sunday’s attack the worst mass shooting in Texas history. It came on the eighth anniversary of a shooting at the Texas’ Fort Hood, where 13 people were killed and 31 others wounded by a former U.S. Army major.

The previous deadliest mass shooting in Texas had been a 1991 attack in Killeen, when a mentally disturbed man crashed his pickup truck through a restaurant window at lunchtime and started shooting people, killing 23 and injuring more than 20 others.

The University of Texas was the site of one of the most infamous mass shootings in modern American history, when U.S. Marine sniper Charles Whitman climbed the Austin campus’ clock tower in 1966 and began firing on stunned people below, killing 13 and wounding nearly three dozen others. He had killed his wife and mother before heading to the tower, one victim died a week later and medical examiners eventually attributed a 17th death to Whitman in 2001.

Associated Press writers Sadie Gurman and Eric Tucker in Washington, Nomaan Merchant in Houston, Will Weissert in Austin, Diana Heidgerd in Dallas, Michael Balsamo in Los Angeles and Paul J. Weber in New Braunfels, Texas, contributed to this report.

Time after time: Clocks fall back, charity gaming marathon this weekend

CityNews | posted Friday, Nov 3rd, 2017

The weekend is here, which means you can finally relax after a long week. And you will have an extra hour to relax, as clocks fall back at 2 a.m. on Sunday.

There are lots of events taking place this weekend, if you are heading out. If you would rather snuggle up with a warm scarf and some hot cocoa at home, that sounds like a marvelous idea too.

On a sombre note, although Remembrance Day is next weekend, a ceremony will be held this weekend in the city’s east end.

As you make your weekend plans, keep in mind a portion of Line 1 (Yonge-University-Spadina) will be closed for TTC work.


Gaming marathon for SickKids
If you like video games and helping a worthwhile cause then the ExtraLife charity video gaming marathon is right up your alley. For 25 hours, from Saturday to Sunday, gamers across various cities in Canada and the U.S. will be raising money for children’s hospitals while playing their favourite video games. In Toronto, the marathon will be held at the Raiders E-Sports Centre at St. Clair Avenue East and Yonge Street, with a suggested $5 donation (or pay what you can) at the door. There will be Xbox Ones on site for free to play and gaming PCs equipped with popular games, hourly giveaways and raffle prizes. You can also take part in the marathon at home. Click here to register. If you are not into video games but would still like to donate, click here1102-extralifeforkids-1024x576

Remembrance Day ceremony
Next weekend, Canadians will be paying their respects to soldiers and military personnel who fought and died in wars and conflicts around the world. However, the Scarborough Civic Centre will be holding its ceremony at 2 p.m. on Saturday. Maeesha Biswas, a University of Toronto National Scholar, will read “In Flanders Fields,” while the Girl Guides of Canada will sing “Let There Be Peace on Earth.” The program is posted here.


Royal Winter Fair
The farm comes to the city for the annual Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. It’s the largest combined indoor agricultural fair and equestrian competition in the world. The Royal Horse show alone features more than 1,000 riders competing for almost $1 million in prize money. There are many new things at the show this year including a local food discovery zone, a daily demonstration about birds of prey and a country music showcase featuring emerging artists. There is truly something for everyone and you can check it out until Nov. 12.

Boots & Toques 5KM Walkathon
It’s a new fundraising walk that takes place along the Queensway Trail at night. All funds raised go to the Trillium Health Partners Foundation. The walk starts at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Huron Park Community Centre in Mississauga. Families are encouraged to take part. For more information and to make a donation, click here.

Canada Cooks, Toronto Eats
It’s all about the food this weekend in Toronto. Six Toronto museums will be hosting Canada Cooks, Toronto Eats on Saturday and Sunday between noon and 5 p.m. Participating sites include Fort York, Gibson House Museum, Mackenzie House, Montgomery’s Inn, Scarborough Museum, and the Todmorden Mills Heritage Site.  Each site will feature free live cooking demonstrations, food and drink samples and special guests.  Mayor Tory calls it a great way to learn about our city’s history through food. View the full schedule here.

TTC closures

Line 1 late opening
Subway service between Sheppard West and St George stations will start at noon on Saturday due to signal upgrades. Due to on-street construction, shuttle buses will only run between Sheppard West and Lawrence West stations. Wheel-Trans buses will be available between Sheppard West and St. George stations upon request.

Line 1 closure
Signal work will also force a subway subway closure between Sheppard West and Wilson stations this weekend. Shuttle buses will be running and Wheel-Trans service will be provided between Sheppard West and Lawrence West stations upon request.

Rogue employee responsible for deactivating Trump Twitter account

CityNews | posted Friday, Nov 3rd, 2017

Twitter says a rogue employee was responsible for deactivating President Donald Trump’s Twitter account on Thursday.

Shortly before 7 p.m. Thursday, social media reports surfaced that the president’s personal account, @RealDonaldTrump, was unavailable, providing the error message that the user “does not exist.” The account was restored by 7:03 p.m.

Originally, Twitter announced through its Twitter Government account that it was “human error” which led to the account being down. The company said it was taking steps to prevent this from happening again.

A short time later, the company said the account was deactivated by a customer support employee on his last day with the company.

A spokesperson for the White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

With files from The Associated Press

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