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No injuries reported in Parkdale apartment fire

BT Toronto | posted Friday, Mar 22nd, 2019

An early-morning fire in Parkdale forced as many as 30 people out of their homes early Friday morning.

Emergency crews were called to a four-storey apartment building on King Street West near Dufferin Street around 4:30 a.m.

Officials said the fire started in a bedroom on the third floor of the building

“When (the) first crews arrived, they had light smoke in the stairwell and when they gained access to the third floor there was thick black smoke and heat and flames,” Platoon chief Dan Sell explained.

The building was evacuated as crews worked to extinguish the fire.

Sell said the building’s smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors were working at the time of the fire.

No injuries were reported.

“The crews did an excellent job of isolating that area and extinguishing the fire and were able to conduct primary and secondary searches of the area and everyone was safe,” Sell said.

TTC buses were called to the scene to temporarily house the tenants.

There has been no word on what exactly caused the fire. Officials will continue to investigate.

King Street was closed in both directions from Elm Grove Avenue to Dufferin but has since reopened.

‘Ring of peace’ events in GTA mark one week since New Zealand shooting

News Staff and The Associated Press | posted Friday, Mar 22nd, 2019

A number of community groups in GTA and beyond are planning to gather at mosques Friday afternoon, in a show of solidarity for the Muslim community.

The peace gatherings come one week after an Islamophobic gunman killed 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Christian and Jewish communities are inviting everyone to create a “ring of peace” outside the Islamic Information and Dawah Centre on Bloor Street as people arrive for afternoon prayers.

Around the same time, other interfaith gatherings will also be held at Madinah Masjid on the Danforth and at the Baitul Islam Mosque in Vaughan. People are invited to form a “ring of peace” around the mosques.

Elsewhere in Hamilton, a vigil will be held at the Hamilton Mountain Mosque, where everyone will form a solidarity circle around the mosque.

In New Zealand, people observed the Muslim call to prayer on Friday — a day that also saw the mass funeral for 26 of the victims of the rampage, including the youngest victim, three-year-old Mucaad Ibrahim.

While some congregated in Hagley Park opposite the Al Noor mosque to reflect and pray, thousands more were listening in on the radio or watching on television as the event was broadcast live. The prayer was followed by two minutes of silence.

The observance comes the day after the government announced a ban on “military-style” semi-automatic firearms and high-capacity magazines like the weapons that were used in last Friday’s attacks.

Chicken nuggets recalled over possible salmonella contamination

The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Mar 22nd, 2019

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has announced a recall of a frozen breaded chicken product over fears of salmonella contamination.

The agency says Sofina Foods Inc. is recalling Janes brand Pub Style Chicken Nuggets from the marketplace.

The recall affects 800-gram packages with a best before date of December 15th, 2019 and a UPC code: 0 69299 12490 3.

The CFIA says there have been “illnesses associated with the consumption of this product,” but it doesn’t offer any more details.

It’s the third time this year the agency has announced a recall on frozen chicken nuggets, after previous notices affecting Compliments brand and Crisp & Delicious brand products.

It also follows the recall of Janes brand Pub Style Chicken Burgers last October and Pub Style Chicken Strips in November.

Anti-discrimination organization wants to map offenders with hate atlas

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Mar 22nd, 2019

VANCOUVER — An advocacy organization says it wants to map hatred and discrimination across Canada in a move that is prompting warnings of caution from one civil liberties group.

The Vancouver-based Morgane Oger Foundation has issued a call for volunteers to help build the Canadian Atlas of Populist Extremism, to be known as CAPE.

Founder Morgane Oger said the mapping tool would tie together extremist groups and people regularly associated with them, and also map incidents involving hate across Canada.

The idea is to shed light on how hatred is propagated, she said, while being mindful that allegations can’t be tossed out willy-nilly.

“We can’t say someone is a murderer unless they are in fact a murderer, but maybe it would be interesting to see it’s always the same dozen people who are doing anti-trans advocacy in the (B.C.) Interior or the white supremacy groups are working with each other,” said Oger, a former provincial NDP candidate and a member of the party’s executive.

Oger said the project is in its infancy and the foundation has not yet determined exactly what types of actions, groups or individuals would be documented, but it believes the data could be useful to academics, law enforcement and others.

It could include a rating system to categorize incidents by severity, she said, giving hate-motivated murders and discriminatory graffiti as examples that would receive different grades.

Other groups have tackled similar projects. The Canadian Anti-Hate Network, based in Toronto, says its mandate is to monitor, research and counter hate groups by providing education and information on them to the public, media, researchers, courts, law enforcement and community groups.

The Southern Poverty Law Center in the United States has a “hate map,” which lists 1,020 groups. They include 51 Ku Klux Klan chapters, 49 anti-LGBT groups, 11 radical traditional Catholic groups and a combined 412 black and white nationalist groups.

The centre doesn’t list individuals, only organizations, and uses a similar definition to the FBI for them. The law centre defines a hate group as “an organization that — based on its official statements or principles, the statements of its leaders, or its activities — has beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”

Micheal Vonn of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association said the CAPE project may be helpful, legal and serve as a positive research tool.

But she warned that there could be privacy issues involved in posting individuals’ information online and said it’s important to distinguish between actual hate from differing opinions on certain topics.

“All kinds of things that people think are hateful constitute genuine political speech,” she said, adding that knowing if someone is against an immigration policy isn’t enough information to conclude they are racist, for example.

Until the foundation lands on a specific model, it’s unclear if there would be any issues around rights, she said.

But she said it’s also worth asking if a map would contribute to healthy political discourse and warned against too loose of a definition of “association.” In a healthy democracy, groups with opposing views should be able to attend one another’s events without being painted with the same brush because it could help build dialogue and understanding.

While governments and governing players are expected to be transparent, we have different standards for individual citizens, she said.

“We don’t ask citizens to be transparent because we’re sovereign. It’s the state that is supposed to be transparent to us,” she said.

Oger said the mapping project is still in its infancy and the organization has not yet decided how much information to make public but it does not want to encourage violence in any form.

She pointed to Statistics Canada figures that show a rise in police-reported hate crimes. After steady but relatively small increases since 2014, hate crime reported by police rose sharply in 2017 to 2,073, up 47 per cent over the previous year and largely due to an increase in hate-related property crimes, StatCan says.

Higher numbers were seen across most types of hate crime, with incidents targeting the Muslim, Jewish and black populations accounting for most of the national increase. The increases were seen largely in Ontario and Quebec.

Police-reported hate crimes refer to criminal incidents that police investigations conclude were motivated by hatred toward an identifiable group.

According to a 2014 StatCan survey, Canadians self-reported being the victim of more than 330,000 criminal incidents that they perceived as being motivated by hate but two thirds were not reported to police.

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press

TTC bus crashes into Scarborough home

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, Mar 21st, 2019

A family is safe after a TTC bus crashed into the front of their home in Scarborough early Thursday morning.

Emergency crews were called to the scene on Oasis Boulevard, near Morningside and McNicoll avenues, just after 1:30 a.m.

The bus veered off the road, across a lawn and crashed into the front of a home. A second home was also damaged in the crash.

Police said there were no passengers on the bus at the time of the crash.

The driver was taken to hospital as a precaution.

Police said both houses were evacuated and the families will not be allowed back home until the buildings have been deemed safe.

“We’re concerned that there may be some structural damage with the house so the engineer will be attending the address tomorrow morning to determine what the damage to the house is and is it safe to reoccupy at this point in time,” Insp. Jim Gotell explained.

The bus has since been towed away from the scene as part of the investigation.

Voting marathon continues as Tories protest shutdown of Wilson-Raybould motion

The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Mar 21st, 2019

Members of Parliament are continuing their marathon voting session as opposition parties protest the Trudeau government’s efforts to shut down any further investigation into the SNC-Lavalin affair.

The Liberal majority shot down a Conservative motion calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to let former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould testify more fully about her allegation that she was improperly pressured to drop a criminal prosecution of Montreal engineering giant SNC-Lavalin.

The motion was defeated by a vote of 161-134.

That set the stage for a Conservative-sponsored filibuster Wednesday night, requiring 257 separate votes on items in the government’s spending estimates.

Since any vote involving government spending is automatically considered a confidence vote, Liberals were required to be out in force to avoid potential defeat of the government.

The voting could theoretically last 36 hours, but the Conservatives have only to keep it going until just after 10 a.m. Thursday to scrub the remainder of the parliamentary day.

Floods, destruction from cyclone continue in Mozambique

The Associated Press | posted Thursday, Mar 21st, 2019

CHIMANIMANI, Zimbabwe — A week after Cyclone Idai hit coastal Mozambique and swept across the country to Zimbabwe, the storm’s aftermath of flooding, destruction and death continues in southern Africa, making it one of the most destructive natural disasters in the region’s recent history.

Floodwaters are rushing across the plains of central Mozambique, submerging homes, villages and entire towns. The flooding has created a muddy inland ocean 50 kilometres (31 miles) wide where there used to be farms and villages, giving credence to Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi’s estimate that 1,000 may have been killed.

Mozambique reports that 200 have died and Zimbabwe reports a similar number but emergency workers say the death toll will continue to rise.

Rains stopped, at least temporarily, Thursday and floodwaters have begun to recede, according to aid groups.

Associated Press, The Associated Press

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