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Tax credits, penalizing big polluters, key to Conservative climate plan

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Jun 20th, 2019

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says his climate plan will be “Canada’s best chance” to hit its targets under the Paris climate-change agreement and that it can happen without a carbon tax.

Scheer outlined his climate policy in the backyard of a private home in rural Chelsea, Que., Wednesday evening, not far from where flooding linked to climate change hit for the second time in three years this spring. Flies and mosquitoes swarmed and a handful of protesters gathered on the gravel road in front of the property.

“Conservatives fundamentally believe that you cannot tax your way to a cleaner environment,” Scheer said. “Instead, the answer lies in technology.”

The environment, and climate change in particular, are garnering the most attention ever heading into a federal campaign as Canadians in all parts of the country are dealing with more frequent forest fires, droughts, floods and storms.

The plan does not specify how much any of its 55 elements would cut emissions and suggests Canada’s path to meeting the targets would include using Canadian products to reduce emissions in other countries.

“Greenhouse-gas emissions do not recognize borders,” Scheer said. “Nor are the impacts of climate change proportional to any one country’s emissions. Whether emissions are reduced in Canada or in China, the scientific impact on global climate change is the exact same.”

His platform, dubbed A Real Plan to Protect Our Environment, looks at introducing a capital cost allowance for industries that show they are reducing emissions in other countries. He specifically mentions using Canadian liquefied natural gas to replace coal as a source of electricity and exporting more Canadian aluminum, which he says is made with fewer emissions than aluminum in other countries.

Canada’s commitment under the Paris climate-change agreement is to cut emissions to 70 per cent of what they were in 2005 before 2030. Canada needs to get to 513 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year to hit that target. In 2017, the most recent year for which statistics have been compiled, Canada’s emissions were 716 million tonnes.

There is an allowance in the Paris accord for “co-operative mechanisms,” which allow for reductions in one country to be counted towards the targets of another country as long as both countries agree. The rules for that allowance have not yet been set and the intention was for it to be used for countries to strengthen their targets beyond the original Paris commitments.

The targets in the Paris accord are not legally binding, however, so there is no monetary penalty if Canada misses them. In a question-and-answer session after the speech, Scheer refused to be drawn on how much his plan could be expected to reduce Canada’s emissions.

Canada’s existing climate plan under the Liberal government leaves the country about 80 million tonnes shy of its Paris targets in 2030. The national price on carbon, set at $20 a tonne this year, rising to $50 a tonne by 2022, will reduce emissions between 50 million and 60 million tonnes a year, an Environment Canada analysis says.

Scheer’s plan is to make scrapping that carbon tax one of his first actions as prime minister.

He also intends to replace the Liberals’ system for applying the carbon tax to major industrial emitters with one that requires them to invest in clean technology for their own companies.

Scheer promises to give companies a tax break on income earned from developing and patenting green technology in Canada. Homeowners will get a tax credit worth as much as $2,850 for making energy-efficiency upgrades to their homes, such as installing solar panels or putting in better-insulated windows.

He also intends to create a green-technology fund with $250 million in federal money to draw private investments in green technology that could repay the federal contributions when the technology is sold.

Liberal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna took to a microphone on Parliament Hill to scorn the Tory plan shortly after Scheer finished talking.

“I guess we now know why Andrew Scheer waited until the dying hours of this Parliament to shovel out his ideas to tackle climate change,” she said. “It’s because he has a fake plan. No numbers, no serious measures and no commitment to move the needle on climate action. He says we can save the planet but we don’t have to make any changes. Pollution can be free, we can burn coal, develop oil forever, build as many pipelines as oil lobbyists want. Just invent some technologies and sell them to other countries – that’ll do it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. The Paris agreement requires every country to do their part? You can’t export your way out of this problem.

The New Democrats’ Peter Julian called the Tory plan “a collection of boutique tax credits and a rebranding exercise … But I would say to the Conservatives, ‘Nice pictures, though.’ Because that’s the only benefit I see from the plan they presented today.”

Environment groups likewise panned the Scheer plan, saying it is similar to requests from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, which released a climate plan a few weeks ago.

“This is a plan only an oil lobbyist could love,” said Keith Stewart, a senior energy strategist at Greenpeace Canada.

Catherine Abreu, executive director of the Climate Action Network Canada, said the Scheer strategy is a research-and-development plan, not a climate-action policy.

“This might be a plan to cut other things but it is not a plan to cut emissions,” said Abreu. “Is Canada somehow going to save the world by increasing our own emissions?”

-With files from Joan Bryden and Teresa Wright

Wheel flies off truck onto SUV on Hwy. 400, no injuries

Mitch Burke and New Staff | posted Thursday, Jun 20th, 2019

A wheel of an eighteen-wheel truck flew off on Highway 400 just south of Highway 9 on Wednesday.

OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt tells CityNews they responded to a call around 2 p.m.

The whole set of the truck’s dual wheel assembly, along with the brake drum, flew off as a single unit, bounced over a lane and hit an SUV on the passenger side, smashing in its roof. Ten of the wheel’s 12 studs were still completely fastened in place.

Neither of the drivers were injured.

Schmidt says OPP traffic collision investigators are trying to understand why the wheel separated and how the wheel studs got pulled out from the hub directly and were able to pull through the metal.

The wheels on the truck were installed when it had its annual safety check at the end of May and investigators are checking to see if the correct studs were used and installed properly.

Charges have not been laid at this time, but an investigation is ongoing and when necessary, charges can be laid for wheel separation.

“The provision is there for charges to be laid. It is an absolute liability offence if a wheel becomes separated from a commercial vehicle … and the fines can go up to $50,000,” says Schmidt.

This is the third wheel separation accident over the past month and this latest incident comes a week after a similar one on Highway 400, near Highway 89.

In that instance, a tire came off a vehicle and crashed through the windshield of another, leaving a Barrie woman with multiple fractures.

Charges are expected to be laid in that incident. Schmidt says it will likely be a detached parts offence since it is not a commercial vehicle, but the driver is still liable for the maintenance and safety of the vehicle.

In May two people were injured, one of them seriously, after a wheel from an SUV struck a vehicle in the northbound lanes of Highway 400 at Highway 89.

Schmidt says there are typically 130 to 140 wheel separation incidents a year and there have been 60 so far in 2019.

 

He also sent a reminder to all drivers to be proactive in maintaining their vehicles and get their wheel fasteners torqued regularly.

RELATED: Ontario roads and highways have a long history of flying tire incidents

One week ago, a set of wheels came flying off an SUV in the same area, seriously injuring a driver after her car was hit.

Then back in May, two people were injured after an SUV traveling southbound lost a tire. The wheel bounced into the northbound lanes.

Imam arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting woman over several years

News Staff | posted Thursday, Jun 20th, 2019

Toronto police have arrested an Imam for sexually assaulting a woman after a lengthy investigation.

Investigators say the woman came forward in early 2019, accusing her Imam of sexual assault.

The woman met the Imam at a Mosque in 2008. Shortly after, he went to her home and convinced her she was possessed and he could help her.

She was brought back to his living quarters where the victim alleges she was sexually assaulted during what the Imam claimed was a religious ceremony.

Over the next several years, it’s alleged she was continually sexually assaulted and he threatened to harm her on numerous occasions. Police also allege he threatened to expose her to the community and congregation.

On Tuesday, Imam Syed Zaidi, 49, was arrested as he tried to board a plane to leave Canada at Pearson Airport.

He’s been charged with breach of trust, three counts of sexual assault, threatening death and criminal harassment.

Investigators believe there could be other alleged victims and anyone with information is asked to contact police.

2 boys, 4 men facing multiple charges after trying to sell stolen laptop online

News Staff | posted Thursday, Jun 20th, 2019

Toronto police have arrested two boys and four men in connection with the theft of a laptop and a firearm investigation.

Officers responded to a call for a person with a gun in the Queen Street West and Ossington Avenue area around 9 p.m. Monday.

Police say a 23-year-old woman had placed an ad on Kijiji to sell her laptop and made arrangements to meet a male who contacted her.

Two males arrived at the agreed location and allegedly took the laptop from the woman and fled. As they were fleeing, a black handgun fell from one of the males’ waistband.

The males then got into a silver Honda Civic which had been reported stolen.

The next day, a male tried to sell the woman’s laptop online. Officers arranged a meeting with him and then arrested him.

The suspect had the laptop, a large hunting knife, a credit card-style knife and a mini Glock airsoft pistol at the time of the arrest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thereafter, police say a number of other boys and men were also arrested and the stolen vehicle was located.

Marijuana, ski masks and a quantity of brand new cell phones in their original packaging were also found and seized during the investigation.

Two 17-year old boys were arrested and charged with possession of property obtained by crime over $5000. One of them is facing a number of additional charges including possession of a prohibited weapon, three counts of carrying a concealed weapon, three counts of weapons dangerous to public safety and unlawful possession of a Schedule III substance.

Four 18-year-old men are also facing one count each of possession of property obtained by crime over $5000. Police have identified them as Tajean Alexander-Smith, Matchushan Kamalakumaran and Mohsen Yahya, all from Toronto.

The fourth man, Laxsen Laxmikanthan, is also facing charges of possession of marijuana for the purposes of trafficking, possession of the proceeds of crime and possession of marijuana in a public place.

All the suspects are scheduled to appear in court on July 31.

Police say this is an ongoing investigation and anyone with information is asked to contact them or Crime Stoppers.

Girl injured after being struck by vehicle in Brampton

News Staff | posted Wednesday, Jun 19th, 2019

A girl is being taken to hospital after being struck by a vehicle in Brampton.

Peel police were called to MacKay Street South and Williams Parkway just after 2:30 pm near Williams Parkway Public School.

The victim suffered non-life-threatening injuries. There’s no word on the age of the girl or if she was a student at the school.

The driver of the vehicle involved remained on the scene.

More to come

Deputy in clash with Raptors President Masai Ujiri has concussion: attorney

The Associated Press | posted Wednesday, Jun 19th, 2019

An attorney for a deputy involved in an altercation with Toronto Raptors President Masai Ujiri as he tried to join his team on the court to celebrate their NBA championship said his client suffered a concussion and is on medical leave.

Attorney David Mastagni said Tuesday the 20-year-veteran of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office has a jaw injury and is considering filing a lawsuit.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Kelly says the deputy was checking court-access credentials after the game Thursday in Oakland against the Golden State Warriors when Ujiri allegedly shoved the deputy and Ujiri’s arm struck him in the side of the head.

A Warriors fan who witnessed the incident told The Associated Press that the sheriff’s deputy didn’t ask for any credentials before putting his hand on Ujiri’s chest and pushing him. Greg Wiener, a 61-year-old season ticket holder, said Ujiri then shoved the officer back before bystanders intervened.

Wiener said he was standing next to the officer when the encounter occurred but was not interviewed by authorities.

Kelly says investigators are questioning witnesses and the office hopes to file a report to prosecutors recommending a misdemeanour battery charge against Ujiri.

The team said last week it was co-operating with the investigation and gathering information on its own. It had no further comment Tuesday.

The name of the deputy has not been released.

Schools deemed safe, investigation continues following bomb threats

News Staff | posted Wednesday, Jun 19th, 2019

Toronto police responded to several bomb threats to post-secondary institutions around the city on Tuesday.

Police said they were first alerted to the situation at around 8:54 a.m.

“We’re investigating and working with schools to evacuate where necessary,” police said in a tweet.

Ryerson University said the Chang School was closed for a police investigation but has since reopened.

OCAD University evacuated all of its buildings but has been given the all-clear by police. The buildings will reopen on Wednesday morning for the regular summer schedule.

George Brown and Humber College also received threats, police said. They have since deemed both schools safe.

Humber college tweeted that “classes, services & operations are continuing as scheduled.”

Police say individual probes of each school have been completed but the investigation into the matter continues.

Autism treatment centre says over 100 people losing their jobs due to funding

The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Jun 19th, 2019

More than 100 people are being laid off at a treatment centre for children with disabilities — a move the centre says is a direct result of Ontario’s changes to autism funding.

The minister responsible said more “staffing changes” across the sector are likely.

ErinoakKids Centre for Treatment says in order to continue providing services to children with autism it is eliminating 291 full-time positions, which include front-line staff and management, and is bringing 178 people back on nine-month contracts, timed to when the centre’s funding will cease.

“In order for our organization to be able to continue to provide much needed services to children with autism and their families in this new environment, we have had to make some significant staffing reductions,” Erinoak said in a statement.

“These were very difficult decisions and we would like to thank all of our dedicated staff for the excellent care that they have provided to children during our time as a transfer payment agency for the delivery of autism services.”

Premier Doug Ford repeatedly promised during the election last year that not a single person would lose their job under his government.

The Progressive Conservative government is moving to give money directly to families to pay for autism therapy, instead of funding the service providers. Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod said in a statement Tuesday that will give families more options in accessing services.

“We understand the challenges that occur during a transition period can be unsettling, but our intended result is a system that provides more choice to families and parents,” she wrote.

“As these changes are implemented we anticipate further staffing changes. However, we know these changes will also mean an increased demand for autism-related services as funding is increased and more children come off the waitlist. As a result, we expect service providers to become re-employed across the sector as a result of demand from these families in the immediate future.”

The program as originally announced in February would have given each family on the wait list up to $20,000 a year until their child turns six, and $5,000 a year until age 18, but families protested, saying those amounts weren’t nearly enough, particularly for kids with severe needs, whose therapy can cost up to $80,000 a year.

MacLeod eventually backtracked, promising to double the program’s budget to roughly $600 million and look at how to add needs-based supports.

NDP critic Monique Taylor slammed the reduction in front-line staff who help kids with autism.

“We support an Ontario Autism Program that’s fully-funded, needs-based and evidence-based, and we believe that taking help away from children with autism is callous, and can have devastating long-term impacts,” she said in a statement.

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