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Vaughan parent charged after sending child to daycare with COVID-19 symptoms

MICHAEL RANGER | posted Tuesday, Aug 17th, 2021

A parent in Vaughan has been hit with hundreds in fines after they allegedly sent their child to daycare while the child was experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

A spokesperson for York Region’s public health department says the incident occurred at a child care centre in the region on Aug. 3.

The parent has been charged $770 for non-compliance with the region’s Sec. 22 order, and an additional victim surcharge fee, for a total of $880 in fines.

The region says that 17 children at the daycare have now tested positive for the virus. One adult also has the virus, they said.

Under the Sec. 22 order, anyone who tests positive for COVID-19, or has signs or symptoms, must isolate until they receive a negative COVID-19 test. According to York Region, the child would not have passed daily COVID screening.

“If you or anyone in your household is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, you must stay home until a negative test is received and symptoms are improving for at least 24 hours,” says the region in a statement.

“If the individual is not tested, then individuals must isolate for 10 days.”

The region says York Region Public Health inspectors have laid 18 charges for non-compliance since the order went into effect in March.

Canadians head to the polls in pandemic federal election set for September

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Aug 16th, 2021

Canadians are headed to the polls after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called a federal election for next month.

The Prime Minister arrived at Rideau Hall on Sunday morning to visit with Governor General Mary Simon, kickstarting a 36 day campaign that will culminate with a vote on September 20.

Trudeau is opting for one of the shortest election campaigns, less than two years since the Liberals were reduced to a minority government.

Speaking after meeting with Simon, Trudeau said that his government did not expect COVID-19 but it focused on supporting Canadians and small businesses throughout the pandemic, delivering the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and wage subsidy for those hard-hit by the crisis.

Canadians need to choose how the country finishes the fight against COVID-19, he said.

“In this pivotal, consequential moment, who wouldn’t want a say? Who wouldn’t want their chance to decide where our country goes from here?” Trudeau asked.

“As much as we’ve done over the past many, many months, we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us. …You deserve a say, because this is your moment.”

The Liberals have also maintained that a minority Parliament had become toxic and dysfunctional and that they need a strong majority mandate in order to implement the recovery plan.

Opposition parties dismiss these claims, pointing out that the government has not lost any confidence votes, including on its spring budget, and arguing that holding an election during a pandemic is irresponsible and dangerous.

Even so, opposition leaders have been criss-crossing the country making campaign-style announcements in recent weeks.

On Sunday, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole accused Trudeau of risking the progress that Canada has made on COVID-19. Canadians can finally see their loved ones, friends and neighbours again, and Trudeau shouldn’t risk all their hard work for “political gains,” he said.

At the same time, the Tory leader declined to say whether he would require his candidates to be vaccinated. On the question of mandatory vaccinations in general, he said he respects Canadians’ right to make their own health choices.

He said Trudeau’s government has left too many Canadians struggling to pay the bills or cover the costs of housing, food and heating, and yet the Liberal leader is asking them to reward his party with another four years.

The Conservatives’ recovery plan will ensure the economy is firing on all cylinders and get Canada’s finances under control, O’Toole said, while securing a million new jobs and ensuring more Canadian-made medical supplies.

“Canadians deserve to know what their politicians will deliver. They deserve to know that there’s a plan, and they deserve a government that will keep its word,” O’Toole said.

“Twelve years in the military have taught me to always have a plan. Canada’s Recovery Plan will unite our country and secure the future.”

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh launched his campaign in Montreal, criticizing Trudeau’s early election call as “selfish.”

The Liberal leader’s decision to call an election two years early, in a pandemic, shows that he doesn’t want to follow through on his promises and Canadians will pay the price, Singh said.

Singh told his supporters he’ll fight for working people to make the ultrarich and big corporations pay their fair share and to build a recovery from the pandemic that works for everyone.

Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet added his voice to the chorus of federal leaders blasting Trudeau for the election call, describing it as very irresponsible and accusing him of acting out of personal ambition.

Green Leader Annamie Paul launched her campaign in the riding of Toronto Centre, where she is hoping to win a seat in the House of Commons. Her speech emphasized the climate crisis and the need for urgent action.

At the time of dissolution, the Liberals have 155 seats, the Conservatives 119, the Bloc Quebecois 32, the NDP 24 and the Greens two. There are also four Independents and one vacancy.

Elections Canada says it is prepared to conduct a safe election during the pandemic, with British Columbia, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador all having successfully held provincial votes in the past two years.

However, Canada’s chief electoral officer Stephane Perrault warns it may take two to five days after election day to determine winners in some tightly-contested ridings due to the sheer increase of mail-in ballots expected this time around. While the agency still expects the majority of Canadians will choose to vote in person, it anticipates upwards of five million Canadians to vote by mail, compared to fewer than 50,000 in the 2019 election.

The extra COVID protocols to safely conduct a campaign is also expected to add millions more to the election bill, which could top $610 million, or $110 million more than it cost to run the last two elections.

2 injured in drive-by shooting in Scarborough

BT Toronto | posted Monday, Aug 16th, 2021

Two people are in hospital after a drive-by shooting in Scarborough overnight.

Emergency crews were called to the area of Chester Le Boulevard and Morecambe Gate, near Victoria Park and Finch avenues, just before 12:30 a.m. Monday.

According to police, both victims were sitting inside a car that was parked in a school parking lot when another vehicle pulled up and multiple shots were fired.

The vehicle then fled the scene. No description of the vehicle or the shooter has been released.

A man and woman were rushed to hospital in serious but not life-threatening condition.

Investigators are asking anyone who may have any information pertaining to the shooting, including security or dashcam footage of the area at the time, to contact police.

Taliban sweep into Afghan capital after government collapses

AHMAD SEIR, RAHIM FAIEZ, TAMEEM AKHGAR AND JON GAMBRELL, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Monday, Aug 16th, 2021

KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban swept into Afghanistan’s capital Sunday after the government collapsed and the embattled president joined an exodus of his fellow citizens and foreigners, signaling the end of a costly two-decade U.S. campaign to remake the country.

Heavily armed Taliban fighters fanned out across the capital, and several entered Kabul’s abandoned presidential palace. Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban spokesman and negotiator, told The Associated Press that the militants would hold talks in the coming days aimed at forming an “open, inclusive Islamic government.”

Earlier, a Taliban official said the group would announce from the palace the restoration of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the formal name of the country under Taliban rule before the militants were ousted by U.S.-led forces in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, which were orchestrated by al-Qaida while it was being sheltered by the Taliban. But that plan appeared to be on hold.

Kabul was gripped by panic. Helicopters raced overhead throughout the day to evacuate personnel from the U.S. Embassy. Smoke rose near the compound as staff destroyed important documents, and the American flag was lowered. Several other Western missions also prepared to pull their people out.

Fearful that the Taliban could reimpose the kind of brutal rule that all but eliminated women’s rights, Afghans rushed to leave the country, lining up at cash machines to withdraw their life savings. The desperately poor — who had left homes in the countryside for the presumed safety of the capital — remained in parks and open spaces throughout the city.

Though the Taliban had promised a peaceful transition, the U.S. Embassy suspended operations and warned Americans late in the day to shelter in place and not try to get to the airport.

Commercial flights were suspended after sporadic gunfire erupted at the Kabul airport, according to two senior U.S. military officials. Evacuations continued on military flights, but the halt to commercial traffic closed off one of the last routes available for fleeing Afghans.

Many people watched in disbelief as helicopters landed in the U.S. Embassy compound to take diplomats to a new outpost at the airport. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken rejected comparisons to the U.S. pullout from Vietnam.

“This is manifestly not Saigon,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.”

The American ambassador was among those evacuated, officials said. He was asking to return to the embassy, but it was not clear if he would be allowed to. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing operations.

As the insurgents closed in, President Ashraf Ghani flew out of the country.

“The former president of Afghanistan left Afghanistan, leaving the country in this difficult situation,” said Abdullah Abdullah, the head of the Afghan National Reconciliation Council and a longtime rival of Ghani. “God should hold him accountable.”

Ghani later posted on Facebook that he left to avert bloodshed in the capital, without saying where he had gone.

As night fell, Taliban fighters deployed across Kabul, taking over abandoned police posts and pledging to maintain law and order during the transition. Residents reported looting in parts of the city, including in the upscale diplomatic district, and messages circulating on social media advised people to stay inside and lock their gates.

In a stunning rout, the Taliban seized nearly all of Afghanistan in just over a week, despite the billions of dollars spent by the U.S. and NATO over nearly 20 years to build up Afghan security forces. Just days earlier, an American military assessment estimated that the capital would not come under insurgent pressure for a month.

The fall of Kabul marks the final chapter of America’s longest war, which began after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. A U.S.-led invasion dislodged the Taliban and beat them back, but America lost focus on the conflict in the chaos of the Iraq war.

For years, the U.S. sought an exit from Afghanistan. Then-President Donald Trump signed a deal with the Taliban in February 2020 that limited direct military action against the insurgents. That allowed the fighters to gather strength and move quickly to seize key areas when President Joe Biden announced his plans to withdraw all American forces by the end of this month.

After the insurgents entered Kabul, Taliban negotiators discussed a transfer of power, said an Afghan official. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details of the closed-door negotiations, described them as “tense.”

It remained unclear when that transfer would take place and who among the Taliban was negotiating. The negotiators on the government side included former President Hamid Karzai, leader of Hizb-e-Islami political and paramilitary group Gulbudin Hekmatyar, and Abdullah, who has been a vocal critic of Ghani.

Karzai himself appeared in a video posted online, his three young daughters around him, saying he remained in Kabul.

“We are trying to solve the issue of Afghanistan with the Taliban leadership peacefully,” he said.

Afghanistan’s acting defence minister, Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, did not hold back his criticism of the fleeing president.

“They tied our hands from behind and sold the country,” he wrote on Twitter. “Curse Ghani and his gang.”

The Taliban earlier insisted that their fighters would not enter people’s homes or interfere with businesses and said they would offer “amnesty” to those who worked with the Afghan government or foreign forces.

But there have been reports of revenge killings and other brutal tactics in areas of the country the Taliban have seized in recent days. Reports of gunfire at the airport raised the spectre of more violence. One female journalist, weeping, sent voice messages to colleagues after armed men entered her apartment building and banged on her door.

“What should I do? Should I call the police or Taliban?” Getee Azami cried. It wasn’t clear what happened to her after that.

An Afghan university student described feeling betrayed as she watched the evacuation of the U.S. Embassy.

“You failed the younger generation of Afghanistan,” said Aisha Khurram, 22, who is now unsure of whether she will be able to graduate in two months. She said her generation was “hoping to build the country with their own hands. They put blood, efforts and sweat into whatever we had right now.”

Sunday began with the Taliban seizing Jalalabad, the last major city besides the capital not in their hands. Afghan officials said the militants also took the capitals of Maidan Wardak, Khost, Kapisa and Parwan provinces, as well as the country’s last government-held border post.

Later, Afghan forces at Bagram Air Base, home to a prison housing 5,000 inmates, surrendered to the Taliban, according to Bagram district chief Darwaish Raufi. The prison at the former U.S. base held both Taliban and Islamic State group fighters.

Man injured following stabbing at Victoria Park subway station

BT Toronto | posted Monday, Aug 16th, 2021

A man has been transported to the hospital following a stabbing at the Victoria Park subway station.

Police said they were called to the station late Sunday evening for a report that a person had been stabbed during a fight in the bus bay.

Two people are currently in custody, but the police did not provide any further details.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the police directly. Tips can also be left anonymously with Crime Stoppers.

Driver killed in crash on Hwy. 401 eastbound express lanes

BT Toronto | posted Friday, Aug 13th, 2021

One person is dead following an early morning crash in the eastbound lanes of Highway 401.

Provincial police say around 3:30 a.m. Friday a car travelling eastbound in the express lanes of the highway collided into the rear of a transport truck that was either stopped or disabled in a live lane near Dufferin Street and burst into flames.

The driver of the vehicle was pronounced dead at the scene.

No other injuries were reported.

All traffic is being forced into the collector lanes near Jane Street as police continue to investigate. The closure of the express lanes is expected to last until at least noon.

Canada sending forces to close Afghan embassy: official

ROB GILLIES, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Friday, Aug 13th, 2021

TORONTO (AP) — Canadian special forces will deploy to Afghanistan where Canadian embassy staff in Kabul will be evacuated before closing, a source familiar with the plan told The Associated Press.

The official, who was not authorized to talk publicly about the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity, did not say how many special forces would be sent.

Just weeks before the U.S. is scheduled to end its war in Afghanistan, the Biden administration is also rushing 3,000 fresh troops to the Kabul airport to help with a partial evacuation of the U.S. Embassy.

The moves highlight the stunning speed of a Taliban takeover of much of the country, including their capture on Thursday of Kandahar, the second-largest city and the birthplace of the Taliban movement.

Britain also said Thursday that it will send around 600 troops to Afghanistan to help U.K. nationals leave the country amid growing concerns about the security situation. And Danish lawmakers have agreed to evacuate 45 Afghan citizens who worked for Denmark’s government in Afghanistan and to offer them residency in the European country for two years.

Some 40,000 Canadian troops were deployed in Afghanistan over 13 years as part of the NATO mission before pulling out in 2014.

The first planeload of Afghan refugees who supported the Canadian military mission in Afghanistan arrived in Canada earlier this month. The Canadian government last month announced a special program to urgently resettle Afghans deemed to have been “integral” to the Canadian Armed Forces’ mission, including interpreters, cooks, drivers, cleaners, construction workers, security guards and embassy staff, as well as members of their families.

Canada men’s 4x100m relay could have medal upgraded to silver after British sprinter suspended

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Friday, Aug 13th, 2021

Canada could see their men’s 4×100-metre relay medal upgraded from bronze to silver after British sprinter Chijindu Ujah was provisionally suspended by the Athletics Integrity Unit for an alleged doping violation at the Tokyo Olympics.

The AIU announced Thursday that the doping control laboratory in Tokyo had notified the International Testing Agency of an “adverse analytical finding” in Ujah’s doping sample.

It said Ujah’s sample contained the prohibited substances ostarine and S-23, which are selective androgen receptor modulators (SARM) and help with building muscle.

Ujah was part of the British quartet, alongside Zharnel Hughes, Richard Kilty and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, who finished second to Italy in a close race.

If found guilty, Ujah and the British team could be stripped of the silver medal.

The Canadian team of Aaron Brown, Jerome Blake, Brendon Rodney and Andre De Grasse would then be named the silver medallist of the 4×100.

De Grasse has won six medals in his two Olympic games, one gold, one silver and four bonze.

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