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Actors posed as Ford supporters at leaders debate, Ontario Tories confirm

News Staff | posted Wednesday, May 9th, 2018

 

 

Actors were brought in to pose as Doug Ford supporters at a leaders debate held at CityNews on Monday, the Ontario PC Party has confirmed.

“Doug Ford has attracted record crowds since entering the race for PC leader,” spokeswoman Melissa Lantsman said in a statement. “This has become even stronger since winning the leadership. A local candidate made a decision to engage a casting agency. This was unnecessary and a mistake. It will not happen again.”

The Castme background agency solicited people to stand outside the downtown studio to make it seem as if the PC leader had more admirers than he actually did. The job posting mentioned Toronto Centre candidate Meredith Cartwright.

castme-job-posting

While speaking to reporters earlier on Tuesday, Ford said he didn’t know anything about people being hired and didn’t think his team needed to boost the size of the crowd.

“That’s the first I’ve heard of that,” he said. “We don’t need to pay anyone. When we have events we’re packed. We have standing room only.”

 

He said he would be talking to Cartwright.

“I assure you I’ll be calling Meredith and ask what’s going on.”

Cartwright, who had shared posts on social media showing photos of the crowd outside the debate, said she had no comment when reached by phone on Tuesday.

The #CityVote debate Monday night was the first time all three main party leaders, including Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, squared off in a televised debate ahead of next month’s provincial election.

Ontario voters head to the polls June 7.

cityvote-cartwrightsign-1024x576

TTC now offering buttons to inform fellow riders of disability

News Staff | posted Wednesday, May 9th, 2018

 

The TTC has launched a new initiative which is aimed at making it easier for people with disabilities to get a seat on a bus, streetcar or train.

Starting Tuesday, staff at TTC stations will provide a blue button that says “Please offer me a seat” to anyone in need.

They’re meant to be a quick way to indicate that a person needs a seat without having to disclose long-term conditions or invisible disabilities, like HIV, fibromyalgia and chronic pain.

TTC spokesman Brad Ross said although the buttons are meant for people with both visible and invisible accessibility needs, no proof is required to get one.

Activist Kate Welsh created the original Equity Buttons that inspired the idea.

Welsh has lived with chronic illness and episodic disability since childhood. She was inspired to create the buttons when a friend expressed her frustration with riding the TTC as a young woman who appeared to be able-bodied, but suffered from episodic disability, which is often invisible.

She says while she’s glad her advocacy led to the initiative, neither she nor other disabilities advocates were consulted before the TTC launched their buttons.

“My thought initially was ‘wow this is so amazing, my activism has worked and become institutionalized’,” she says. “Also (I felt) a bit of frustration because I wasn’t acknowledged.”

“It’s a trend that people with disabilities do the activism and it gets taken … and people with disabilities don’t get credit.

Shortly after his original tweet, Ross acknowledged the role of Welsh’s advocacy on the issue, after several Twitter users pointed out the omission.

Accessibility advocate and former Lieutenant Governor David Onley says the initiative is a positive step.

“Torontonians and Canadians, we like to apologize for everything,” he says. “(But) people find it hard to ask point blank ‘could I have a seat, I’ve got a bad back or I’ve got arthritis.’”

However he adds the idea needs to be properly presented and explained to the public in order to prevent confusion and misuse.

“If anybody can just say ‘I want one’, or they make one that looks just like it, then there would be potential for misuse,” he says

“This is not necessarily for people with disabilities, it’s just a courtesy button,” he says. “I think they’d have to have a real promotional campaign to make it clear what it’s all about, otherwise it could be confusing.”

Glancing blows but no knock out punch in #CityVote: The Debate

News Staff and The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, May 8th, 2018

 

Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath wasted little time in taking aim at Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford in the #CityVote debate on Monday night.

If you missed the debate, watch it here.

Wynne and Horwath both landed glancing blows, warning that Ford will bring cuts to public services if he is elected premier while Ford continued to hammer home his key messages of finding efficiencies in the provincial budget and “respecting the taxpayers.”

However no one appeared to land that knock out punch and when it was all over, the consensus seemed to be that Ford did not do anything to blow it, Horwath may have swayed some Liberal voters who are thinking about strategic voting while Wynne still has an uphill battle.

The debate centered around issues and topics of importance to Toronto voters with questions on policing, carding, transit and real estate. While the debate was light on actual specifics, Ford did announce that he would commit $5-billion more than what has already been allocated to build a regional transportation system, including subways, relief lines, and two-way GO Transit to Niagara Falls.

However, Ford didn’t provide specifics on a number of other issues including a promise to cut four per cent from the budget.

The liveliest portions of the debate came during the three leader-to-leader questions. Both Andrea Horwath and Kathleen Wynne directed their questions towards Ford. Both questioned the PC leader on specifics of where the cuts were going to come from in order to find $6-billion in efficiencies.

Horwath wanted to know what Ford was going to privatizeand how many hospitals he would close in order to meet his $6-billion goal.

“I believe there is a better way of delivering services. The differences between myself and my two opponents, they’ve never found a penny of savings,” said Ford. “We’ve found over a billion dollars of savings for the taxpayers,” trotting out the familiar line about saving the taxpayers of Toronto $1-billion when his brother Rob was the mayor — a claim that has been hotly contested.

Questioned further by Horwath to “have the guts to tell people what your cuts are going to look like,” Ford assured “all the teachers, all the nurses – no one single person is getting laid off under our administration. Not one person.”

If there was a misstep by Ford, it was during his leader-to-leader question to Wynne. After saying he truly believed she got into politics for the right reasons, he left her with an open ended question: When did you lose your way? That enabled the premier to highlight some of the successes of the past four years rather than be on the defensive.

Coming into the debate, polls suggested Ford was the front-runner and he likely didn’t do anything to hurt his standing.

However at the end of the #CityVote debate, an unscientific Twitter poll found 43 per cent would vote for Andrea Horwath with Doug Ford drawing 39 per cent support. Kathleen Wynne was well back with 14 per cent support.

Ontario government introduces legislation that would end York University strike

The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, May 8th, 2018

Ontario’s governing Liberals have introduced legislation that would end a two-month strike at Toronto’s York University, but acknowledge there is little chance it will pass before the upcoming election.

If passed, the legislation would refer any outstanding issues between the university and some 3,000 graduate teaching assistants, contract faculty and graduate research assistants to binding mediation-arbitration.

The two sides would have five days to agree on a mediator-arbitrator before one is appointed by the minister of labour, the province said.

The strike, which began March 5, has affected tens of thousands of students.

The government had launched a commission to look into the dispute and said Monday the decision to introduce legislation comes on the heels of a report by commissioner William Kaplan, which found the parties had reached an impasse.

Bills must go through three readings in the legislature before becoming law, with debates and often referral to a committee for further consideration, unless all parties agree to support the legislation and skip to what is called a unanimous consent vote.

The New Democrats said Monday they won’t agree to such a vote, and said the Liberal move does nothing to help students or striking faculty.

“This is really a final insult to anyone who fights for students, and anyone who has ever organized for better working conditions,” NDP legislator and labour critic Cindy Forster said in a statement.

Beckie Codd-Downey, spokeswoman for the Government House Leader’s office, said the government reached out to the opposition parties before introducing the legislation.

“Given the time constraints, we will not be able pass this legislation without unanimous consent from the entire legislature, including the NDP,” she said in an email.

“It is disappointing that the NDP is not willing to work with us to find a path forward through which this disruption can be ended and students can be returned to the classroom.”

Tuesday is the last day the House will sit before the start of the provincial election campaign. The province heads to the polls June 7.

The Liberals have been under increasing pressure to intervene in the strike. Close to 40,000 students have seen at least one of their courses affected, according to the province.

York is offering a tuition credit for those who have felt the impact of the work stoppage.

Students who drop out of their fall-winter program can get a credit allowing them to retake the same course, or take a different one, before the end of 2019 without incurring any additional costs.

Toronto Raptors’ season of promise ends in ugly blowout in Cleveland

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, May 8th, 2018

 

 

CLEVELAND — After a season to remember, the Toronto Raptors disappeared Monday in a playoff series to forget — put to the sword yet again by the Cleveland Cavaliers.

In a must-win game with their season on the line, the Raptors were eviscerated. LeBron James and the Cavaliers had their way in a 128-93 blowout win to complete a four-game sweep in the Eastern Conference semifinal.

Toronto coach Dwane Casey, who has somehow become both a candidate for coach of the year and one facing the firing line, described his team as drained and “emotionally drunk” after close losses in Games 1 and 3.

When push came to shove Monday, the Cavaliers “played the way a championship team needs to play. And we didn’t after the first quarter,” he added.

Casey’s post-game words were damning.

“I thought our guys would come in and compete harder,” he said.

“It’s disappointing,” he added. “Because you want to go out fighting, scratching, clawing with your best effort … But you don’t want to go down that way, let go of the rope.”

It was an embarrassing ending to a series in which Toronto had its chances despite its short time span.

While the Raptors were blown out 128-110 in Game 2, they had plenty of chances to win Game 1 — a 113-12 overtime loss during which the Cavaliers never led in regulation time. And in Game 3, they rallied to tie the game at 103-103 before James’ memorable off-balance buzzer-beater.

There was no drama Monday as Cleveland led by four after the first quarter, 16 at the half and 28 after three.

A dour DeMar DeRozan, who had just eight points in Game 3 and was benched in the fourth quarter, took no solace from the slender margins of playoff basketball.

“It’s life,” said the Raptors guard. “You dwell on what should have happened, what could have happened in life, you’ll drive yourself crazy. The fact of the matter is we’re out, we’re done. We’ve got to get back to reality, come tomorrow, work our butt off this summer and get ready for the next stage.”

Fellow all-star Kyle Lowry offered little from the podium, a baseball cap jammed low over his eyes as DeRozan fielded questions.

DeRozan’s miserable series continued Monday as he was ejected for a flagrant foul-2 with 23 seconds left in the third for catching Jordan Clarkson, who was soaring to the basket, on the head with his arm. He finished with 13 points on five-of-11 shooting.

“We wanted to take away DeRozan and we wanted to take away their bench,” said Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue. “I think we did that in this series.”

Lue said playing James with the Cavs’ second unit helped negate the Toronto bench.

James had 29 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds and showed off more than few party tricks with Cleveland turning the screw on the Raptors as the game wore on. He had 15 points in the third quarter to hammer the nail into the Toronto coffin. Kevin Love added 23.

Jonas Valanciunas led Toronto with 18 points. C.J. Miles had 13 while Lowry had five.

The Raptors defence was shredded with the Cavaliers racking up 100 points in the first three quarters on 63.9 per cent shooting. All five Raptors starters and four of the Cavs starters watched from the bench in the final quarter, the outcome never in doubt. James was the only starter to see action, playing 4:22.

The fans at Quicken Loans Arena celebrated to the sounds of Drake’s “God’s Plan” during a timeout midway through the fourth.

Cleveland shot 59.5 per cent on the night, tying a franchise post-season record. James was good on 12-of-19 shots while fellow starters Love, J.R. Smith, Kyle Korver and George Hill combined for 66 points on 25-of-35 shooting.

Toronto becomes the first top seed to be swept prior to the conference finals since the NBA switched to a 16-team playoff format in 1984.

The Raptors’ so-called culture reset — sharing the ball and firing three-pointers — resulted in a franchise record 59 wins, second only to Houston’s 65. But it was the same old story in the post-season with no answers for James and the Cavaliers.

Cleveland swept Toronto in the Eastern semifinals last season and 4-2 in the East final in 2016.

The Cavs advance to the Eastern Conference final for the fourth straight season and the eighth time in franchise history (1976, 1992, 2007, 2009, 2015, 2016, 2017). They will face either Boston or Philadelphia.

While Cleveland was up by just four after the first quarter, Toronto came back and led 38-36 — only to see the Cavs pull ahead and keep their foot on the accelerator.

For the second game in a row, Casey changed his starting lineup. Serge Ibaka, who gave way to Fred VanVleet in Game 3, returned to start at centre in place of Valanciunas. Miles also slotted into the starting five with VanVleet back on the bench.

While Ibaka had five early points, Cleveland had success going straight through the heart of the Toronto defence — often unimpeded. Two early fouls forced Miles to the bench before the quarter was halfway over.

Cleveland was good on 12 of its first 15 shots, mixing in some good defence to pull ahead as the first quarter wore on.

James did not figure in the Cavs’ first 15 points, with his teammates taking up the slack. DeRozan had seven in the first quarter.

Cleveland scored 18 of its first 26 points in the paint, prompting the introduction of Valanciunas, and led 29-19. DeRozan finished the quarter with a dunk to cap a 7-1 Toronto run that cut the Cavs’ lead to 30-26.

With Valanciunas acting as enforcer at one end and scoring at the other, Toronto closed the gap and went ahead 38-36 after a 19-7 run. But an 11-2 Cleveland run orchestrated by James and Korver got the crowd back in it and gave the Cavs a seven-point lead.

An Ibaka three-pointer cut the lead to 49-45 only to have the Cavaliers grab the game by the scruff of its neck. James played provider, feeding Love with an audacious behind-the-back pass, as Cleveland went on a 14-2 run to lead 63-47 at the half.

Then it got ugly. Gliding in the air, James increased the lead to 20 at 75-55 early in the third with a double-pump bank shot that had the crowd oohing. There was more to cheer before Cleveland finished with the fourth-highest in points total in franchise playoff history.

History was not on Toronto’s side. Teams that trail 3-0 in a best-of-seven series are now 0-130 in the NBA.

Cleveland has won 10 straight playoff games — and 15 of its last 17 games (regular and post-season) — against Toronto. Cleveland is also 12-1 against Toronto at Quicken Loans Arena since December 2014.

Despite the record regular-season showing, Casey knew tougher times lay ahead.

“It’s gratification but you’re not satisfied, that’s the way I like to put it,” he said when the Raptors clinched first place in the East with three games remaining. “We haven’t got to where our ultimate goal is.”

They still haven’t, which means a harsh spotlight may shine on Casey.

Asked about Casey’s job security before the game, Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said any talk it might be in jeopardy was absurd.

James was also kind in victory, saying the Raptors were “a very well-balanced, put-together team this year.”

But not this series.

 

New emergency alert system fails first test in Quebec, spotty in Ontario

Peter Rakobowchuk, Terry Pedwell, The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, May 8th, 2018

A test of Canada’s new national public alert system for mobile devices misfired in Quebec on Monday and was hit and miss in Ontario.

Shortly after the test was scheduled to reach mobile devices in Ontario, at 1:55 p.m. ET, social media was flooded with messages from people confirming they had received the signal, others who had not and still others who appeared startled or even surprised by it.

“I forgot that we were getting that emergency alert testing on our phones,” wrote one Twitter user, going only by Mary.

“But I got forcibly reminded, all right. And there is not enough hot chocolate in the world to calm me down right now.”

Another Twitter user, Brent Morris, wrote that some people at his office got the alert on their phones, but he didn’t.

“I guess if the world ends, I’m the last to know,” he quipped.

For those who did receive it the message read, in part, “This is a test of Ontario’s Alert Ready System. There is no danger to your health or safety.”

In Quebec, where the test did not go as planned shortly before 10 a.m., the problem did not originate with cellphone service providers but appears to have occurred between emergency management in the province and Pelmorex Corp., which operates the system, said Patricia Valladao, a spokesperson for the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

“The alerts are actually coming from the emergency management in the region and then it goes to Pelmorex,” Valladao said.

In an email to The Canadian Press, Pelmorex issued a statement explaining what happened.

“A space incorrectly included in the coding prevented the Alert Ready System from sending the Quebec test message to compatible wireless devices earlier this morning,” it read, adding the misconfiguration was quickly corrected.

The statement also pointed out the Quebec test “did broadcast successfully on TV and radio.”

In Ontario, the test alerts were also expected to be broadcast across TV and radio airwaves, but in some cases no messages were seen on TV screens.

Valladao pointed out at least it was just a test and not a real emergency. “That’s why they were running tests — to see if something went wrong.”

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said he expects federal, provincial and private sector experts behind the warning system to learn from Monday’s “serious glitches” and correct the problems quickly.

“That consortium of experts has to learn from this experience and make sure that whatever went wrong today in the coding or in the launch, that all of that is corrected and that we have a system up and running as fast as possible,” Goodale said.

“That’s what a test is for, to determine if the system works. Today, it didn’t. We need to make sure it’s fixed and that it is available to Canadians at the earliest possible moment.”

Depending on settings, users with compatible devices connected to an LTE network were expected to hear a tone similar to an ambulance siren or feel a vibration for eight seconds. Devices that were turned off would not receive the signal but phone users receiving the alerts would have heard their conversations interrupted by a sound similar to a call-waiting tone.

The tests were being conducted after the CRTC ordered wireless providers to implement the system to distribute warnings of imminent safety threats, such as tornadoes, floods, Amber Alerts or terrorist threats.

A similar system is already used in the United States and made headlines earlier this year when an emergency official in Hawaii mistakenly sent an alert about a potential incoming ballistic missile.

A report issued last month by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission said the false alarm, which went uncorrected for 38 minutes after being transmitted and caused widespread panic across the Pacific islands state, was a result of human error and inadequate safeguards.

“The CRTC has no insights with respect to what occurred in Hawaii, other than what has been reported in the media,” the regulator said.

But it added that Canada has safeguards in place to prevent false signals from being distributed to mobile devices.

Unlike wireless emergency alerts issued in the United States, Canada’s system requires a specific vibration cadence, alert tone and banner to notify users of an emergency.

As well, the emergency alerts are not text — or SMS — messages, but are distributed using what’s known as cell broadcast technology. The messages can’t be tracked by service providers so they can’t tell who has or has not received the alert, the CRTC said.

Here are the times for tests scheduled for Wednesday outside Ontario and Quebec. All times are local:

  • Yukon 1:30 p.m.
  • Northwest Territories 1:55 p.m.
  • Alberta 1:55 p.m.
  • British-Columbia 1:55 p.m.
  • Saskatchewan 1:55 p.m.
  • Manitoba 1:55 p.m.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador 1:55 p.m.
  • Nova Scotia 1:55 p.m.
  • Prince Edward Island 1:55 p.m.
  • New-Brunswick 6:55 p.m.

Provincial leaders set to square off in highly anticipated #CityVote debate

News Staff | posted Monday, May 7th, 2018

One month before Ontarians go to the polls, the major provincial party leaders will make their pitch directly to voters on Monday in #CityVote: The Debate.

The debate marks the first opportunity in which Premier Kathleen Wynne and PC Leader Doug Ford will square off face-to-face since the former Toronto councillor assumed the conservative leadership back on March 10.

Pre-election polls have the Conservatives as the clear front-runners and suggest the Liberals are most vulnerable in the 416, placing greater importance on Monday’s debate which will focus entirely on issues relevant to those who live and work in Toronto.

While Ford has managed to play to an anger among voters towards the governing Liberals, his policy announcements have been short on specifics and he has yet to provide a fully costed platform. Observers are also keen to see how he handles the minefield of an election campaign as a first-time leader.

Wynne is going into her second election campaign as Liberal leader, having led the party to a majority victory in 2014. Polls suggest she is facing an angry electorate this time around. Despite introducing policies that are resonating with voters, that does not appear to be translating into support for a return to power.

Andrea Horwath is going into her third election campaign as NDP leader. After leading the party to official opposition status in 2011, it gave up that balance of power four years ago in the Liberal majority. An experienced debater, she could be key in determining the balance between a Conservative majority or minority at Queen’s Park.

Where to watch?

Commercial-free coverage begins at 6 p.m. live on:
City
CityNews.ca
CityNews Facebook page
@citynews Twitter page
CityNews YouTube channel
Live 360-degree studio view
680NEWS.com
Macleans.ca
Listen on 570 NEWS in Kitchener
Listen on 1310 NEWS in Ottawa

Live commentary from issue advocates including Desmond Cole, Jodie Emery and Murtaza Haider on Facebook and Citynews.ca

The debate will also be broadcast on OMNI2 at 6 p.m. in Punjabi and at 10 p.m. in Mandarin

Who is moderating?

CityNews political specialist Cynthia Mulligan will referee the debate.

What’s the format for the debate?

Each candidate will have the opportunity to answer six audience questions on the following topics: policing, drugs, transit, education and real estate. As well, each candidate will get the chance to ask an additional question to another candidate.

How can I get involved?

Throughout the broadcast viewers will have the opportunity to join a live moderated chat on Facebook and participate in live polling on Twitter using the hashtag #CityVote.

Testing begins Monday for Canada’s new emergency alert system

The Canadian Press | posted Monday, May 7th, 2018

Mobile devices across Canada will be buzzing a little more than usual this week as emergency management officials test a new national public alert system.

Test signals are to be sent to millions of mobile users in Quebec around mid-morning today (9:55 AM EDT) and across Ontario in mid-afternoon (1:55 PM EDT).

Cellphones, tablets and other devices will receive the signal in most of the rest of the country on Wednesday.

Depending on settings, users with compatible devices connected to an L-T-E network will hear a tone similar to an ambulance alarm or feel a vibration for eight seconds.

Devices that are turned off won’t receive the signal but phone users will hear their conversations interrupted by a sound similar to a call waiting tone.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission ordered wireless providers to implement the system to distribute warnings of imminent safety threats such as tornadoes, floods, Amber Alerts or terrorist threats.

Radio and TV stations will also run the tests.

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