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Ontario could see a seismic political shift in today’s provincial election

Allison Jones, The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Jun 7th, 2018

Ontario goes to the polls today in an election that could see a seismic political shift if Doug Ford’s Tories beat out the NDP, their closest rival, and win a majority government, as the latest polls suggest.

Either way, the vote will bring an end to 15 years of Liberal government, as Premier Kathleen Wynne herself admitted last week in a stunning announcement.

The Progressive Conservatives and the NDP have polled neck and neck for most of the campaign, with the Tories giving up a strong lead they held at the beginning. But a tie in popular support could lead to the Tories winning a majority of seats, projections suggest.

As Tory leader, Ford rolled out several popular promises, from cutting gas prices by 10 cents a litre to introducing buck-a-beer to cutting hydro bills. But he was accused of failing to be transparent by dodging calls to release a fully costed platform.

With about one week left in the campaign, the party published a list of promises and their price tags, but didn’t indicate how they would pay for them, what size of deficits they would run or for exactly how long.

Then in the waning days of the campaign, Ford family drama — that had laid mostly dormant in the public sphere since the death of his brother, former Toronto mayor Rob Ford — burst onto the scene with a lawsuit from Rob Ford’s widow alleging Ford mishandled his brother’s estate and destroyed the value of the family business.

Late in the campaign, to soothe wary voters, Ford also began emphasizing the strength of his team,which includes former long-time legislator Christine Elliott, lawyer and businesswoman Caroline Mulroney and former Postmedia executive and Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. CEO Rod Phillips.

By contrast, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath consistently polled as the most popular of the three party leaders, so Ford repeatedly slammed her roster of candidates as radical and inexperienced.

The Liberals warned that the NDP’s plan was not practical, gleefully pointing out mathematical errors in their platform, including one that increased their proposed deficit by $1.4 billion annually. Wynne also frequently slammed Horwath’s opposition to back-to-work legislation, saying it would lead to indefinite strikes.

Horwath made a pitch to undecided voters Wednesday, framing the ballot as a “stark” choice between her positive plan to help families create better lives and the cost-cutting proposals of Ford.

The NDP has been relegated for the past several decades to holding pockets of seats in the north, southwestern Ontario and Toronto. But party insiders say their number crunching shows them poised to capture seats in broader swaths of the province, eyeing several Liberal strongholds.

The Liberals came to power in 2003 under Dalton McGuinty, and when he stepped down in 2013, Wynne took the reins. She led the party to a majority in 2014, despite the party already being bogged down by scandals at eHealth Ontario, air ambulance service Ornge and a price tag of up to $1.1 billion to cancel two gas plants.

But her popularity began to soon dip, and reached well below 20 per cent in 2016 and 2017, in large part due to anger over rising hydro prices.

The Liberals eventually cut bills by eight per cent, then another 17 per cent months later, but by her own admission, Wynne failed to recognize early enough the impacts that investments in the energy system were having on people’s wallets.

She also faced criticism over her partial privatization of Hydro One and her decision to plunge the province’s books back into the red after finally getting them to balance in 2017-18.

Wynne insisted that the billions it pumped into health care, child care and a drug and dental-care program was necessary spending.

Wynne spent the last few days of the campaign pleading with voters to at least elect some Liberals _ party insiders say they are worried they could win fewer than eight seats, which would mean a loss of official party status in the legislature.

What happens if the Liberals lose official party status

Amanda Ferguson | posted Thursday, Jun 7th, 2018

It could be a new dawn for the Liberal Party on June 8. And eight is the magic number.

If recent polls hold true, the Liberals look poised to go from governing party to losing their official party status. Any less than eight seats, and everything could change. Veteran political observer Bob Richardson says it would be like cutting off the party’s political oxygen.

“You don’t get to have a regular question period or be on legislative committees automatically,” says Richardson. “The media at Queen’s Park don’t necessarily follow what you’re saying. If you have eight members or above, you get money for research, you get stakeholder outreach and you have a caucus service bureau. If you don’t get eight members, you don’t get that.”

As Richardson suggests, losing official party status could mean major financial troubles for the Liberals. They are the ones that introduced a new annual subsidy to the parties in 2016, worth $2.71 per vote they received in the last election. The annual amount each party receives will change in 2019 based on the results of Thursday’s vote.

If they receive 20 per cent of the vote as pollsters predict, their funding would be cut in half to $2.5 million from about $5 million annually. It’s a loss that Richardson says would put them in precarious financial situation.

“That may be something if it’s a minority parliament,” he says. “You can bet that will be on the agenda for discussion because it’s important for the Liberals’ survival that they get that money.”

The Ontario Liberals wouldn’t be the first to go from governing party to having no official party status. In the 1993 federal election, the governing Progressive Conservatives dropped to just two seats from 154 with Kim Campbell.

They, of course, took 13 years to rebuild with Stephen Harper at the helm.

Party leaders make final-day pitch to undecided Ontario voters

The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Jun 7th, 2018

Ontario’s main party leaders used the final day of the provincial election campaign to make a last pitch to those voters still sitting on the fence.

They warned of the economic perils of voting for their rivals, while playing up the social and fiscal advantages of voting for their parties.

True to much of her campaign, the NDP’s Andrea Horwath framed the ballot as a “stark” choice between her positive plan to help families create better lives and the cost-cutting proposals of Doug Ford and his Progressive Conservatives.

“Mr Ford’s plan is one that makes the rich even richer, will cut our public services and cause families to struggle even more,” Horwath said Wednesday in east-end Toronto, where the NDP hopes to nab some seats. “What I would say to folks is this: We can change our province for the better.”

Ford echoed Horwath’s message that voters have clear options in front of them, though he urged Ontarians to opt for his party.

“They’re going to have a very clear choice here,” he said in Burlington, Ont. “They’re either going to vote for the NDP that will destroy our economy, or they will vote for a PC government that will create prosperity in this province.”

The most recent polls suggest Horwath and Ford are running in a virtual tie, although vote distribution could favour the Tories. The Liberals, in office since 2003, have been lagging badly, surveys suggest.

Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne, who has already acknowledged her party won’t return to power, has been urging voters to deny either Horwath or Ford a majority by electing at least some members of her own party.

In an interview with 680 NEWS political affairs specialist John Stall on Wednesday morning, Wynne said she will continue to warn voters against giving either of the other two parties a majority. Stall also asked Wynne if she will resign on Thursday, should things end up bleak for her and her party.

“My hope is, my sincere hope is, that I will retain my seat and that I’ll be able to continue to represent the people of Don Valley West. I’ve worked hard for them and I want to continue to do that. In terms of the leadership, I really need to see the numbers tomorrow, think about the timing, but I will have more to say about that tomorrow night,” Wynne said.

Wynne has taken some fierce shots at the NDP by portraying them as rigid left-wing ideologues, and at the Tories for being hell-bent on slashing services while refusing to put out a proper election platform.

“There has been such a disruptive influence by having a leader of the Conservatives that really hasn’t laid out what he would do,” Wynne said. “People are still trying to decide.”

Ford’s lack of platform clarity and the sharp attacks from both Wynne and Horwath on one another has left some voters wondering whether it’s worth even casting a ballot.

Sean Evans, who lives in downtown Toronto, said he might simply abstain from voting. Despite being a life-long Conservative, Evans said he had little time for Ford, but no more time for either Horwath or Wynne.

“(Ford) makes a lot of statements about what he’s going to do without the facts to back it up or a plan to get there without making pretty severe cuts, (but) the NDP are the Liberals in terms of spending their way out of everything,” Evans said.

“I would like to see an option come up where if the majority says, ‘do it over again because we don’t want any of them,’ then that’s what I would select.”

Asked whether the campaign has been nastier than usual, Horwath side-stepped by insisting her NDP is offering a message of hope to Ontario families, better health care, better child care, better prospects for working people.

“There’s been a lot of lies, there’s been that negative, negative tone, lots of accusations being flung my way,” said the veteran Hamilton politician now on her third campaign as NDP leader. “I’m trying to stay focused on people … I’m a tough cookie, a Steeltown Scrapper, so I can handle it.”

Wynne called elections partisan by nature. But even as she has denounced her rivals, she said she hoped the province would pull together after what has been a divisive campaign. However, she conceded that might prove difficult.

“Some of the tone and tenor of this campaign, which has been pretty negative at many points, makes it harder to get to that place where in between elections we actually think about the broader issues,” Wynne said.

Kevin Lee, another Toronto resident, said he definitely planned on voting but would likely make his choice at the polling station.

“I’ll make up my mind by then for sure”

– with files from Nicole Thompson, Paola Loriggio and Shawn Jeffords.

12 things you need to know from Apple’s WWDC keynote announcement

Winston Sih | posted Monday, Jun 4th, 2018

Apple held their annual Worldwide Developers’ Conference in San Jose, Calif. Monday, where a slew of software updates were announced. While there was no new hardware announced at their annual keynote address by CEO Tim Cook and team, developers were left with new features to sink their teeth into.  Here’s a brief recap:

iOS 12

Augmented Reality
The tech giant is doubling down on performance with the latest iteration of its mobile operating system for iPhone and iPad. On iOS 12, the next generation of its augmented reality tool set, ARKit 2, was introduced, alongside a new ‘Measure’ app that enables users to get measurements of real-world items—all without a ruler or tape measure.
APPLE

APPLE

Screen Time/Down Time

Screen Time will offer users a way to see how actively they use their device. Through a central dashboard, insights like device use time, time spent in specific apps, and regular reports sent out means users can see how much time they really spend on Instagram. This will be something that appeals to parents. Down Time will introduce the ability for device managers (like mom and dad) to limit access to specific apps, category of apps, or the entire device from certain periods of the day, or once a set threshold is reached. Sorry, kids!
APPLE

APPLE

Animojis become more personal
Remember those animoji characters announced back in September? They are emojis brought to life using AR technology on iPhone X. The next step brings—ready for it?—Memoji to your repertoire. Users will design their own animated version of themselves—almost like a Bitmoji—and using iPhone’s front-facing camera, you’ll see the character come to life, mimicking your facial expressions, including tongue movements.
Group FaceTime
The video chatting service brings multiple parties together in a group video chat—up to 32 people to be specific. Active speakers’ tiles are made larger and smaller, while quiet participants are shelved. Chats can then utilize the Memoji effects, as well as a whole host of stickers and filters.
APPLE

APPLE

watchOS 5

Automatic workout detection
In the new operating system for Apple Watch, for those who use it to work out, technology including the built-in heart rate sensor will automatically detect when you start a work out. It will alert you, and once accepted will retroactively record the fitness data.  This is powerful for people like me who forget to activate a new workout more often than not.
Walkie-Talkie
Yes, it’s back—and it’s cool again. But it’s the 21st-century watch version. Once you accept the connection with your desired family and friends, you can tap to record a short audio message, and it is transmitted to their device. A fun way to tell your kids, “Dinner’s ready!”
APPLE

APPLE

No more “Hey Siri”
With the improved Siri Apple Watch face, users can now raise to activate Siri, without saying the words “Hey Siri.”
tvOS 12
Dolby Atmos surround sound support
Apple announced they are rolling out improvements to sound quality on Apple TV 4K, with integration of Dolby Atmos surround sound. Users with an enabled sound bar or speaker system will see an improvement, with upgraded media like movies to be pushed through iTunes automatically.

macOS 10.14 Mojave

Your privacy, first
The tech giant announced their new operating system, macOS 10.14 Mojave. The California road trip continues. Apple was quick to highlight privacy is at the forefront of user data, from mail to messages. Surprisingly, on Safari, updates will shut down Facebook tracking and ad targeting, forcing users to opt-in before they can use share/like buttons—the traditional source of ad tracking.
Dark Mode
The audience ooh’d and ahh’d for this one. Dark Mode is coming to macOS 10.14 Mojave. It is an adaptive mode that can dim your user experience to make being productive easier on the eyes at night. This is similar to the ’Night mode’ experience on the Twitter app.
Clean up your desktop with organization tools
New organization tools will help keep the clutter off your desktop. You can finally reclaim your wallpaper! Using ’stacks,’ macOS will sort and group materials by type. Photos, documents, videos, etc. For those who have a method to their madness, there will be a way to customize this function accordingly.
Rebuild of Mac App Store
In an attempt to better integrate Mac applications with its successful App Store ecosystem, Apple has rebuilt their App Store from the ground up, breaking app discovery down by ‘Create,’ ‘Work,’ ‘Play,’ and ‘Develop.’

EXCLUSIVE: Was there a police shortage night of fatal Yonge-Dundas shooting?

BT Toronto | posted Friday, Jun 1st, 2018

At approximately 11:07 p.m. Wednesday, a man was gunned down at one of Toronto’s busiest intersections, Yonge-Dundas Square, and the suspects got away.

CityNews has exclusively obtained an email that purportedly shows a Toronto police officer from 51 division sounding the alarm over what they perceived to be a lack of police on city streets — less than one hour before the fatal shooting.

The email, purportedly written by a 30-year veteran of the Toronto police service, and allegedly sent to police chief Mark Saunders and the president of the Toronto Police Association Mike McCormack, addressed the “overwhelming amount of work that is just piling up… and so very few of us to do it.”

According to the email, allegedly sent shortly before 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday, all five police cruisers working in 51 Division were “tied up,” with 31 calls still pending.

In the email, the officer said they fear “a police officer is going to get hurt due to the lack of back-up.”

Less than an hour later, the call for a shooting in Yonge-Dundas Square came into 51 Division. The victim, identified as 18-year-old Israel Edwards of Pickering, later died in hospital.

The officer called the email “a plea for help, which seems to have fallen on deaf ears,” and asks for more police officers on the road immediately.

“I have never been so disillusioned with the lack of help offered by the Command of this Service,” the email said.

Neither Toronto police spokesman Mark Pugash nor Toronto Police Association President Mike McCormack would verify the authenticity of the email.

But McCormack said the email is indicative of the way their officers and civilian workers feel within Toronto police right now.

“The email that was sent out speaks to the frustration not only for response times to shootings, but response times in general and the amount of police officers available,” said McCormack.

McCormack said the staffing levels represented in the email are typical. “In our divisional staffing model, there’s generally less than 175 police officers patrolling the whole city at any given time.”

McCormack said they have lost around 174 police officers and new ones haven’t been hired. Over the last five years, they are down almost 600 officers.

“Our members are continually being asked to do more with less and it’s just not working.”

Toronto police spokesman Mark Pugash said the police chief is very aware of the concerns that were laid out in the email.

Pugash said the chief has been speaking with front line officers and are doing the best they can to ensure they have the resources they need.

“We are more nimble than we have ever been in being able to move resources around where we are seeing upticks in violence. They are looking to find other ways to enable our people to have the resources they need to do the job.”

He adds their analysts and intelligence people are looking at data in order to provide officers with proactive enforcement efforts, but there really is no predictability.

“We are very skilled at prioritizing and skilled at responding,” Pugash said.

Pugash said he did not have the response time available for the Yonge-Dundas Square shooting from Wednesday night, but he said they have seen an increase in violence over the last week and a half.

There have been four killings in public areas in the downtown core this year so far, including one earlier this week in Yorkville.

So far in 2018, gun violence alone in downtown Toronto has increased by over 150 per cent compared to this time last year.

“We do see spikes and they are taken extremely seriously. The service is devoting whatever resources are necessary to ensure that investigators get what they need to do the job.”

Pugash added “The command is aware of the pressures on front line officers and they are exploring urgent options to address those issues.”

Mayor John Tory said he has spoken with the chief and deputy police chief and said they have assured him they have deployed additional resources to try and address this wave of violence.

“The time for talk is over,” said McCormack. “We want to hear the action plans and how the chief is going to deal with this issue which we believe is a crises in policing.”

Teen identified after fatal Yonge-Dundas Square shooting

News Staff | posted Friday, Jun 1st, 2018

 

 

Toronto police have identified a Pickering teen who died after a shooting in Yonge-Dundas Square on Wednesday night.

Israel Edwards, 18, was shot around 11 p.m. and had life-threatening injuries. Paramedics took him to hospital, where was pronounced dead.

An off-duty supervisor with Toronto Paramedics heard the shots and was one of the first on the scene.

Police said there was some sort of dispute before the shooting, and three or four suspects fled afterwards. So far, no suspect descriptions have been released, and police are asking witnesses and local businesses to come forward with any security camera video or photos.

CityNews reporter Ginella Massa witnessed the aftermath of the shooting from CityNews headquarters and said she heard a series of shots that sounded like fireworks.

“We saw people running away from Yonge-Dundas Square and a few minutes later I saw security running towards the victim,” she said. “We saw a man on the ground and people started crowding around him. It looked like security guards were performing CPR on him before paramedics arrived.”

Emergency task force officers along with canine units were called to the scene and were seen walking north on Victoria Street.

Mayor John Tory called the incident “shocking” and said police Chief Mark Saunders is devoted to tracking down the suspects and has also deployed more officers to the area.

“There’s no question a police presence in the community actually helps to deter these things as well as the kind of excellent investigative work our police do in tracking down people who carry around guns and use them,” he told CityNews.

Tory also said Toronto police have hired more officers, who are being trained and will be on the job “very soon.”

“The objective is very simple, which is to make sure (Yonge-Dundas Square) remains safe,” he said. “It’s part of the core of the downtown of a great big city, and so there are going to be things that happen … but the objective is to keep it safe and I’m confident we can do that.”

Meanwhile, the company that owns the nearby Toronto Eaton Centre said it is monitoring the situation.

“While this incident was not directly related to our shopping centre, we monitor events and adjust protocols as required,” said Cadillac Fairview spokeswoman Janine Ramparas. “Our security team takes the safety and security of our guests, tenants and staff very seriously and is assisting the Toronto Police Services, as requested.”

 

 

 

 

 

EB Gardiner ramp at Park Lawn closed for emergency repairs

News Staff | posted Friday, Jun 1st, 2018

The exit ramp from the eastbound Gardiner Expressway to Park Lawn Road until Saturday for emergency watermain repairs.

The city shut down the ramp in Etobicoke on Thursday and it will reopen by the latest on Saturday.

he closure was causing major delays on Thursday for drivers on the eastbound Gardiner and Lake Shore Boulevard and The Queensway, according to 680 NEWS traffic reporter Darryl Dahmer.

For a full list of road closures and restrictions, visit the City of Toronto website.

Gun violence in downtown Toronto up 167% so far in 2018

News Staff | posted Friday, Jun 1st, 2018

There’s been a dramatic increase in gun violence in the downtown core in 2018 with the number of shootings up 167 per cent this year compared to the same time last year.

So far this year there have been 24 shootings within the area covered by Toronto’s two downtown police divisions, 51 Division and 52 Division. The most recent gun violence claimed the life of a man after he was shot in Yonge-Dundas Square Wednesday night.

In the first five months of 2017, there were nine shootings in the area covered by 51 and 52 divisions. Using data from Toronto police, CityNews has created graphs illustrating the upward trend in gun violence in recent years.

 

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