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Pot-laced snacks brought to same elementary school twice

The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018

Durham police are hoping to educate parents after kids brought marijuana-laced snacks to the same elementary school on two separate occasions.

Police say on May 14, a Grade 6 student brought home-baked pot cookies to the Oshawa school as a treat.

They say that after eating the cookies, four young students — aged 11 and 12 — reported feeling “dizzy and euphoric.”

Investigators say they’ve learned that a parent had made the cookies for their spouse, who has a medical marijuana license and the cookies ended up in the student’s backpack by mistake.

The Children’s Aid Society was also called in to conduct a review as a part of the investigation

Police say that in a “completely separate incident involving other kids the week before,” THC-laced gummy bears were consumed in the same elementary school.

They say four kids in Grades 7 and 8 — aged 12 and 13 — reported feeling dizzy and euphoric after eating a gummy bear one of the students brought.

Investigators say they don’t yet know how the student got the gummy bears, as they were not made at home.

Police say they’re investigating the incidents, and have also taken the time to educate parents about “the dangers and risks of consuming psychoactive chemicals at such an early age.”

The Durham District School Board describes the incidents as “isolated” and said a police youth officer continues to monitor the situation.

The school board said Tuesday in a release that its schools “work proactively to educate students on the negative effects of drug use, misuse and abuse.”

“Drug use by students is a serious matter and is dealt with as such through progressive discipline and police intervention as necessary,” it said.

Canadian government spending tens of millions on Facebook ads, boosted posts

The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018

New figures tabled in Parliament show the federal government has been increasing its use of paid Facebook ads over the last three years, spending tens of millions of dollars on boosted posts, videos and ad campaigns.

From 2016 to March 2018, federal government departments and agencies spent more than $24.4 million on Facebook and Instagram ads, promotions and boosted posts and videos.

The data includes a breakdown of spending by each government department and agency, showcasing a growing government reliance on Facebook for promoting events and publicizing key government messages and policy initiatives.

Government justifies the expense, saying it needs to reach people where they are — and more than 20 million people in Canada use digital platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

But Bob Cox, chair of News Media Canada and publisher of the Winnipeg Free Press, wonders why the government is using Canadian taxpayer dollars to support non-Canadian digital companies like Facebook and Google.

Cox argues that doing so not only hurts Canadian media companies already suffering from dwindling subscribers and advertising revenues, but also means millions of dollars are leaving the Canadian economy.

Ontario party leaders campaign in the GTA on Tuesday

The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

With a little more than two weeks left before Ontario voters cast their ballots on June 7, all three major party leaders will stick close to the GTA on Tuesday.

Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne will make an announcement at a mental health hospital in Toronto before heading to a downtown variety store and an evening interview with TV network CP24.

Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford is scheduled to make announcements at a Toronto hotel and at a Royal Canadian Legion in Pickering, where he will also hold an evening rally.

New Democrat Leader Andrea Horwath will visit an apprenticeship program in Toronto’s west end in the morning, then hold a roundtable with young people at a downtown cafe.

On the campaign trail Monday, Horwath responded to calls from the Liberals to adjust the NDP platform, saying the party will stick with their platform even though it will cost $1.4 billion more per year than originally expected.

Wynne said Horwath has a responsibility to correct the error — in which the NDP counted a $700-million reserve fund as revenue rather than as an expense — as soon as possible. But Horwath said the party remains committed to it’s platform and will deliver on all promises.

WestJet provides labour action update in response to customer tweets

News Staff | posted Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

WestJet provided an unofficial update about a potential work disruption by pilots via Twitter on Monday.

The news was revealed in responses to tweets from concerned passengers inquiring about the looming strike.

In one tweet, the airline says it has not received any notification of labour action. In other responses it said it is confident an agreement would be reached and the airline is actively engaged in negotiations.

WestJet also said additional updates will be provided on social media should the situation change.

The strike deadline was officially May 12, but the union agreed to put off any potential action until after the long weekend to avoid leaving holiday travellers stranded.

Man arrested after 2 separate stabbings on the TTC

News Staff | posted Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

A 22-year-old man has been arrested after two separate stabbings on the TTC over the weekend.

In one incident, a TTC driver was stabbed in the face with a toothbrush around 3:45 a.m. on Islington Avenue south of Dixon Road near Winnipeg Road.

A male passenger and the driver got into an argument on a bus and the passenger punctured the driver’s cheek.

Toronto police say the driver had minor injuries and was taken to a hospital.

The driver was also involved in a bus crash, police say.

Police believe the suspect also stabbed a man with an unknown object in Spadina Station’s pedestrian tunnel around 4 p.m. on Sunday.

The suspect, Liam Mitchell McCallum, of no fixed address, was arrested without incident early Tuesday morning.

Police said McCallum is facing a number of charges.

Osuna’s administrative leave extended through May 28

The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

Osuna was put on administrative leave by MLB on May 8. The pitcher was charged with one count of assault, according to Toronto Police Constable Jenifferjit Sidhu. Osuna, who is from Mexico, is scheduled to appear in court June 18.

Osuna remains on the restricted list and continues to receive his $5.3 million salary but is ineligible to play. Administrative leave is not considered discipline.

Commissioner Rob Manfred has the option of suspending Osuna either without pay or with pay pending the resolution of legal proceedings _ a penalty that later could be converted to without pay. Osuna could challenge any discipline before arbitrator Mark Irvings.

The 23-year-old Osuna is 0-0 with nine saves and a 2.93 ERA in 15 games this season. The righty was an All-Star last year, when he went 3-4 with 39 saves and a 3.38 ERA.

Prices at the pump headed higher as long weekend brings out Canadian drivers

Dan Healing and The Canadian Press | posted Friday, May 18th, 2018

Motorists in many parts of Canada are expected to see rising gasoline prices as they fire up their vehicles for road adventures on the Victoria Day long weekend.

But price direction will vary across the nation, said fuel market analyst Dan McTeague of GasBuddy.com, with prices rising in Ontario, the Maritimes, Manitoba and Saskatchewan but actually expected to fall from recent peaks in Alberta and Quebec.

He says prices for regular gasoline in Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa and most of the rest of Ontario are expected to rise by one cent per litre on Friday and another cent on Saturday, reaching an average of 140.9 cents per litre, the highest since June 29, 2014.

“We said this would be the highest price (in four years) … but honest to God, I never thought it would be this high,” said McTeague.

As of Thursday afternoon, GasBuddy.com showed the average Canadian gasoline price as 134.4 cents per litre, up 2.6 cents from a week ago and 26 cents from the average of 109.4 cents per litre last year.

The highest average price it has recorded in Canada was 142.4 cents in August 2008, it says.

Higher fuel prices at this time of year are to be expected because increased demand allows retailers to build in bigger profit margins, said Kent Group vice-president Jason Parent.

“We’re into the beginning of the summer driving season and demand’s on the rise and supply generally is a bit tighter,” he said. “The general trend at this time of year is upward.”

Manitoba and Saskatchewan, which had the cheapest gas prices in the country on Thursday, are expected to see price increases of five to seven cents over the weekend, McTeague said, adding many retailers in the two provinces have been losing money on gas sales.

“When you suddenly double the traffic with people heading out for the long weekend, you can’t afford to lose double what you’ve been losing,” he said.

“So it’s retailers that tend to drive these prices up regardless of what the (wholesale) market does.”

Gas prices in New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador went up Thursday by more than two cents, McTeague reported.

Quebec prices of about $1.48 per litre are expected to fall by as much as 10 cents over the weekend, while Alberta prices of around $1.35 are to slump by about four cents, in both cases due to local market pressures.

McTeague said Vancouver region prices could rise by a cent or two over the weekend from Thursday’s average of about $1.61 cents per litre but will fall back as the workweek dawns.

Parent said Vancouver prices are higher than anywhere else in North America because of logistical issues including the inability to transport more refined fuels from Alberta on the fully-booked Trans Mountain pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C.

“They can’t bring enough product from Alberta into the region so they have to go out and get imports and over the last while those have been higher priced because the import market is fairly competitive on the West Coast right now,” he said.

Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd. has threatened to abandon an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline by May 31 because of continued opposition from the B.C. government.

Gasoline prices are emerging as an issue in the Ontario provincial election.

Earlier this week, Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford promised to lower gas taxes by 10 cents per litre by cutting 5.7 cents in provincial taxes and another 4.3 cent from his pledge to eliminate the province’s cap-and-trade system.

Gas prices across the country and in parts of the United States have been hovering near record highs, with little relief in sight as the New York benchmark price of oil remains above US$71 a barrel.

Toronto subway accordion players learn new tune; TTC still unimpressed

The Canadian Press | posted Friday, May 18th, 2018

Two accordion players who have entertained and annoyed Toronto subway riders with their performances of Despacito have learned a new tune, but the city’s transit agency says the men are still breaking the law.

The pair, whose performances on subway cars have circulated online in recent weeks, had been warned to stop or risk being fined as busking on trains isn’t allowed.

Now, they are playing a different hit song on the subway: Havana by Camila Cabello.

The Toronto Transit Commission says it understands the men, believed to be brothers, are mixing up their set list.

But spokesman Stuart Green says that doesn’t make what they’re doing any more acceptable than when they were “subjecting our customers to that other musical abomination.”

Green says as of Thursday, the men have been issued one ticket with a set fine of $235 and two summonses compelling them to appear before a justice of the peace for a penalty.

He says the transit agency realizes the pair have their supporters and critics, but notes the bottom line is that their actions are against TTC bylaws and must stop.

“Not only is it disruptive to the expectation our customers have for a relatively peaceful ride, it can prevent those with sight loss, and who may rely on the audible stop announcements, from navigating the subway system,” Green said Thursday.

He said there is a legal way for musicians to perform on TTC property through the Underground Sounds program, but even then, “performing on vehicles is not permitted.”

He said if they continue, the TTC will escalate to what is called a Part 3 summons, which can carry increased fines and probation with conditions.

The first summons hearing is June 1, the second is scheduled for July 20, Green said.

Despacito, by Luis Fonsi, featuring Daddy Yankee, became the most viewed clip of all-time on YouTube last summer and the most-streamed track of all-time. However, the record-breaking video did not feature vocals by Canadian pop star Justin Bieber that appeared on a remix.

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