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Jingle all the way this weekend: Christmas Market opens, Santa in the GTA

Patricia D'Cunha and Amber LeBlanc | posted Friday, Nov 20th, 2015

Sipping mulled wine while relaxing next to a fire. Strolling along cobbled walkways as lights sparkle on the trees. The signs of holiday cheer are abundant at the Toronto Christmas Market, which opens at the Distillery Historic District on Friday.

Santa Claus will be everywhere this weekend, taking part in parades across the GTA.

As you make your weekend plans, take note: here are some road closures and a partial TTC shutdown.


Toronto Christmas Market
The European-Style Christmas market, one of the city’s most popular winter events, takes over the Distillery District for the next month.

Expect holiday cheer, mulled wine and amazing street food to help boost your spirits at the start of the holiday season. Friday’s grand opening will include a tree lighting ceremony to mark the start of what’s considered one of the world’s best holiday markets.

To help spread out the crowds, there will be a $5 charge per person on Saturdays and Sundays, but children under 12 are free before 2 p.m. this weekend. The market will be open until Dec. 20.

The Christmas Market at Toronto's Distillery Market, Dec. 2014. 680 NEWS/Diana Pereira.
The Christmas Market at Toronto’s Distillery Market, Dec. 2014. 680 NEWS/Diana Pereira.

Santa Claus parades

Jolly old St. Nick is a busy elf this weekend as he guides his sleigh through at least six different parades across the GTA. Santa Claus will need all the cookies and milk he can stomach to keep up with the busy schedule.

The Oakville Santa Claus Parade in 2014. Photo via Facebook.com/OakvilleSantaClausParade.
The Oakville Santa Claus Parade in 2014. Photo via Facebook.com/OakvilleSantaClausParade.

On Saturday, St. Nick makes stops at Santa Claus parades in OakvilleNewmarketOshawa andUxbridge. The parade in Oakville starts at 9 a.m., which gives him plenty of time to get to Newmarket and Uxbridge for two parades, both of which start at 11 a.m. How can he appear in two parades at one, you ask? He has a magic sleigh. Then, he heads off to Oshawa for a parade at 6 p.m.

On Sunday, Santa makes his way to the BeachesRichmond Hill and Vaughan for parades at 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m. and 2 p.m., respectively.

James Bond at the TSO
Bond, James Bond. It needed to be written.

It promises to be an action-packed two nights of music with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, who will be playing some of the memorable songs and film scores picked from 50 years of James Bond. It includes music from GoldfingerThunderballNobody Does it Better and Skyfall.

The performances run Friday and Saturday, at 7:30 p.m. at Roy Thomson Hall. Available at the bar: the classic Bond martini.

Pets love Christmas too
Your pets can’t talk, but if they could they would say: I have the Christmas spirit too! And they can be a part of the festive season at this weekend’s Toronto Xmas Pet Show.

Held indoors at Downsview Park, the event on Saturday and Sunday has more than 200 exhibitors and the chance for your pet to spend time with Santa. Children under five can attend the pet show for free.

A dog dressed up for the Christmas season. GETTY IMAGES/Kirsty Nichol.
A dog dressed up for the Christmas season. GETTY IMAGES/Kirsty Nichol.

And your dogs will be happy to know what Woofstock is not just a summer event. A winter edition with Christmas merriment is being held this weekend at Queen Elizabeth Exhibit Hall at Exhibition Place.

Your beloved pooches can check out the latest treats, toys, and winter gear to protect them from the cold during their walks. Click here for a list of vendors.

Toronto Comic Book Show
Get ready to check the comic book fan in your life off your shopping list!

Comic books on display at the Toronto Comic Book Show. Photo via Facebook.
Comic books on display at the Toronto Comic Book Show. Photo via Facebook.

The Toronto Comic Book Show features 45 highly specialized vendors carrying works from publishers like DC, Marvel, Valliant, Aspen, Image and Wildstorm. It includes all kinds of genres including the traditional superhero, along with Manga, sci-fi, horror, humour, romance and children’s works.

The show is set for Sunday at the Toronto Plaza Hotel at 1677 Wilson Ave.

TTC closure

Partial Line 2 closure
Yet another subway closure this weekend.

Track work means trains won’t run Saturday and Sunday between Keele and St. George stations on Line 2 (Bloor-Danforth). All trains will turn back westbound at Keele station and eastbound at St. George station.

Shuttle buses will be running and stopping at all stations. Regular train service resumes at 6 a.m. on Monday.

Road closures

Dowling and Dunn bridge removal

Several lane and ramp closures will be effect this weekend as road crews remove the bridges over the Metrolinx rail corridor at Dowling and Dunn avenues.

The Dowling Bridge over the rail corridor in Toronto. CITY OF TORONTO.
The Dowling Bridge over the rail corridor in Toronto. CITY OF TORONTO.

The following closures will take place from 9 p.m. on Friday to 5 a.m. on Monday:

  • Ramps from the westbound Gardiner Expressway to Dunn and Jameson avenues
  • Ramp from Jameson Avenue to the westbound Gardiner
  • Westbound right turn lane on Lake Shore Boulevard between Dunn and Jameson
  • Westbound traffic restricted to two lanes near the Dowling bridge

Motorists, pedestrians and cyclists won’t be able to access the bridges during the road work. As well,GO train service on the Lakeshore West line will be affected.

A temporary bridge at Dowling will open in December for pedestrians and cyclists, while a temporary one will open at Dunn for vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists in March.

Santa Claus parade in the Beaches

Santa will be in the Beaches area on Sunday afternoon – the star attraction of a parade held in his honour.

The following road closures will be effect from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.:

  • Westbound Kingston Road from Victoria Park Avenue to Walter Street
  • Eastbound Kingston Road will be open but in a limited capacity
  • Walter Street will be closed from Kingston Road to Swanwick Avenue at around 1:30 p.m.

At least three dead in Mali hotel attack: official

Harouna Traore and Baba Ahmed, The Associated Press | posted Friday, Nov 20th, 2015

Islamic extremists armed with guns and throwing grenades stormed the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali’s capital Friday morning, killing at least three people and initially taking numerous hostages, authorities said.

The Brussels-based Rezidor Hotel group that operates the hotel said the assailants had “locked in” 140 guests and 30 employees.

Malian troops reacted quickly. As people ran for their lives near the hotel along a dirt road, the soldiers in full combat gear pointed the way to safety. Within hours, local TV images showed heavily armed troops in what appeared to be a lobby area.

Malian state TV reported that 80 people in the hotel when the assault began have been freed. At least one Canadian man was reportedly among them.

Malian special forces were freeing hostages “floor by floor,” Malian army commander Modibo Nama Traore told The Associated Press. Still, Rezidor Hotel group put out a new statement saying 125 guests and 13 employees were still in the hotel.

Traore said at least one guest earlier reported that the attackers instructed him to recite verses from the Qur’an before he was allowed to leave the hotel.

It was not immediately clear which Muslim extremist groups might be behind the attack, which unfolded one week after the attacks on Paris that killed 129 people. A handful of jihadi groups seized the northern half of Mali – a former French colony – in 2012 and were ousted from cities and towns by a French military intervention.

French President Francois Hollande said: “We should yet again stand firm and show our solidarity with a friendly country, Mali.”

Traore said 10 gunmen had stormed the hotel shouting “Allahu Akbar,” or “God is great,” in Arabic before firing on the guards. A staffer at the hotel who gave his name as Tamba Diarra said over the phone that the attackers used grenades in the assault.

The U.S. Embassy in Mali told citizens to shelter in place amid reports of an “ongoing active shooter operation” at the hotel in Bamako.

Monique Kouame Affoue Ekonde, from Ivory Coast, said she and six other people, including a Turkish woman, were escorted out by security forces as the gunmen rushed “toward the fifth or sixth floor.”

“I think they are still there. I’ve left the hotel and I don’t know where to go. I’m tired and in a state of shock,” she said.

A top official at the French presidency said French citizens were in the hotel but could not give more. The official spoke anonymously in line with presidency policy.

Belgian foreign minister Didier Reynders said that four Belgians were registered at the hotel but their whereabouts were unknown.

Citing Chinese diplomats in Mali, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reported that about 10 Chinese citizens were sheltering inside their hotel rooms. The embassy was in phone contact with them and all were reported safe, according to the report. All are employees of Chinese companies working in Mali.

Five Turkish Airlines personnel were among the freed hostages, Turkey’s state-run news agency said.

The website of the official China Daily newspaper also cited an unidentified witness as saying one Chinese citizen had been rescued.

The U.N. mission said it was sending security reinforcements and medical aid to the scene. Ambulances were seen rushing to the hotel as a military helicopter flew overhead.

Even after the French-led military intervention in early 2013 that forced the extremists from northern towns and cities, the north remains insecure and militant attacks have extended farther south this year, including the capital. In March masked gunmen shot up a restaurant in Bamako that is popular with foreigners, killing five people.

About 1,000 French troops remain in the country. The Netherlands also has troops working with the UN mission in Mali. According to the Dutch defence ministry, some 450 Dutch military personnel are taking part in the mission along with four Apache and three Chinook helicopters. Most of the Dutch force is based in Gao, but there are a few officers at the U.N. mission headquarters in Bamako.

Jays Josh Donaldson named American League MVP

The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Nov 20th, 2015

Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson has been named the American League MVP.

Donaldson hit .297 with a league-best 123 runs batted in to help the Blue Jays to their first AL East title — and first playoff appearance — since 1993.

The 29-year-old beat Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout for the honours and joined 1987 winner George Bell as the only Blue Jays players to be named AL MVP.

“Enjoy the club, man,” Bell said in a video message sent out by the Blue Jays. “I’m glad for you, for your family and for Toronto Blue Jays fans.”

What was characterized as a close race leading up to Thursday’s announcement turned out to be an easy win for Donaldson, who took 23 first-place votes and seven second-place votes.

Toronto leaders sleep outside to raise awareness for homeless youth

CityNews | posted Friday, Nov 20th, 2015

It was a cold and sleepless night for some of the city’s top business and community leaders, but it was all for a good cause.

About 70 of Toronto’s top business and community leaders spent Thursday night sleeping outside Covenant House, near Yonge and Gerrard streets, with only sleeping bags and cardboard for comfort.

Now in its fourth year, the executive sleepout raises awareness and money for homeless youth at Covenant House.

This year’s goal was to raise $1 million. The total from Thursday night is not yet known but to date, the event has raised more than $2.5 million.

Among the people who took part were Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders, CFL commissioner Jeffrey Orridge, and Purolator president Patrick Nangle.

Covenant House is Canada’s largest homeless youth agency and serves as many as 250 youth a day. It has an annual operating budget of almost $23 million and relies on donations to cover about 80 per cent of that budget.

The toxic effects of workplace stress

Kathryn Hayward | posted Thursday, Nov 19th, 2015

There’s a particularly cold prickle of fear that pops up when work leaves you feeling overtired, overwhelmed and under siege. It might seep in during a meeting, when your left eyeball starts to throb, or it might hit you later, when it takes far too long to realize your work pass will not open the door to your house. It lurks in the back of your mind when you’re wondering where exactly your short-term memory went, and it most definitely trickles in during the loneliest moment of your third consecutive night of insomnia.

With this nagging sense of dread comes a question you don’t want to answer: What is your job actually doing to you?

Most likely, you brush it off and get back to work. A roiling gut, a racing heart, that weird knot of pain in your shoulder — aren’t they just the price of admission to being employed in this sluggish, recessionary economy? “People think that stress is a normal part of work and everybody experiences stress, so theyjust have to suck it up and get over it,” says Mark Henick, a program manager with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), who works with supervisors and employees across the country.

But as new research suggests, concerns that the modern workplace may be harmful to our health are well-founded. As dramatic as it may sound, work and the chronic stress that can come with it may be slowly killing us.

Related: Is your workplace killing you?

In a meta-analysis done earlier this year of 228 workplace studies, researchers from Harvard and Stanford found that workplace stress can be as toxic to the body as second-hand smoke. High job demands increase your odds of being diagnosed with a medical condition by 35 percent, and if you consistently work more than 40 hours a week (perhaps to meet those high demands), you are almost 20 percent more likely to die a premature death. Constant worry about losing your job, the meta-analysis found, raises the risk of developing poor health by 50 percent.

That’s not all: A review published in the Lancet in August showed if you work more than 55 hours a week, you are 33 percent more likely to have a stroke, while several studies confirm that long hours put you at a heightened risk of cardiovascular problems. And here’s some disconcerting news for anyone who checks email during meetings: High levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is created when we multi-task, can cause the dendrites in the brain’s nerve cells to atrophy, leading to memory problems. Then there are the proven elevated risks of diabetes, anxiety and depression. And let’s not even talk about the dangers of a sedentary workday.

Dr. David Posen, a physician based in Oakville, Ont., who began to specialize in stress management 30 years ago, has catalogued a list of more than 125 early warning signs of chronic stress. In addition to headaches and chest pain, they include cold hands, compulsive shopping, even excessive sarcasm. “We weren’t designed to have ongoing stress,” he says. “It’s like driving your car in fifth gear all the time — it’s just not going to be good for the motor.”

stressed workplace

It’s not that we’ve become lazier, less able to meet demands or more emotionally fragile than previous generations; workplace culture has changed, and when it comes to our health, not for the better. Posen has seen an uptick of stress in patients ever since the recession in the early ’90s, when, he says, “companies basically kept hiving off people and telling the so-called lucky survivors to do more with less, pick up the amount of work that other people had been doing.”

Demands have only increased since then, as companies try to keep up with the pace of technology and the pressures of globalization. And as more boomers retire, workplaces are experiencing catalyzing shifts in culture and values. A 2012 study from Carleton and Western Universities confirms that the feeling of work-hour creep is real, reporting that 60 percent of white-collar workers in Canada log more than 45 hours a week. (And 54 percent of them say they take home more work, amounting to another seven hours a week.) The study also found that 56 percent of respondents who work long hours at demanding jobs have partners who do the same. And if you’ve ever had to negotiate who will handle the daycare pickup or conjure up dinner, you know that two busy people means twice as much stress.

The very modern conveniences that were supposed to make our jobs easier have, of course, made it easier to work any time of day or night. It’s liberating to take care of some tasks from the cottage or send work emails while at the dog park — unless, that is, you’re no longer getting satisfaction from completing those extra tasks, and the stress is outweighing the benefits.

It’s easy to blame the boss, and it’s true that some could benefit from having a bit more compassion alongside their strategic vision and unrelenting drive. But we shoulder some of the responsibility too. Even in the absence of explicit expectations that you will check email or monitor social media on weekends, people will “fall into that because of their own desire,” says Dorothy Kudla, founder of a training and development company, Full Circle Connections, who has worked with hundreds of managers at companies from BlackBerry to Cineplex Odeon.

Related: How to be healthier at work with five easy tips

Human beings, by their very nature, want to be successful and add value, Kudla says. But in a workplace that is constantly changing and where the goalposts keep moving, resentment and burnout can easily set in. And that, in turn, can lead to anxiety, depression and, if employees have poor coping strategies, addiction issues. It may also increase employees’ risk of developing lifestyle-related illnesses such as diabetes or angina.

For employers, it’s a bit of a Catch-22. They want to drive innovation and productivity, but to do so, they may need to ask employees to do less or at least change the way they work, says Joel Goh, an assistant professor of business administration at Harvard Business School and one of the co-authors of the second-hand smoke study. “We need to think very carefully [about] not just what employers can do, what programs they can offer to mitigate stress, but what employers are doing to their employees in terms of stress.”

So what do you do? We’re told to prioritize and delegate. Work efficiently. Set goals. These are the motivational slogans of an autocratic boss who is herself a workaholic. But the thing is, no flextime policy will alleviate your tension headaches if you don’t solve the underlying issues of how you work.

You have to learn to “control your controllables,” says the CMHA’s Henick. “You can’t control how other people think or what other people do or the workload that other people are putting on you, but that’s that. You are in absolute control of your reactions.” (Tellingly, several of the experts consulted for this story requested that the interviews happen during regular hours, and they have a policy of not checking their email after 5 p.m.)

Posen exercises every day, and while he doesn’t expect his patients to adhere to his fitness routine, he does advise them to take better care of themselves. “When people are stressed out, they reach for something that will comfort them. The first things that they can think of are things like smoking, drinking, drugs and foods that are high in fat and sugar,” he says.

There is a big difference, however, between knowing your behaviour isn’t healthy and adopting better habits. Corporations have been trying to bridge that gap more aggressively in recent years by implementing wellness programs. While they are a positive step, these programs don’t address the root problems, Goh says. “With wellness programs, we are shifting everything to the employees. It’s like, ‘Well, if you are stressed, we’ll offer you counselling classes, we’ll give you free gym memberships and yoga classes so that you can deal with your stress and your unhealthy lifestyle on your own.’ ”

Despite the seemingly intractable problems in balancing what is good for business with what is good for our health, there is cause for optimism for the next generation. Workplaces are on the cusp of a major shift as boomers retire, and Kudla says she’s already seeing major changes in workplaces with younger staff. Unlike boomers, who tend to respect hierarchy and crave prestige, millennials prefer collaboration and seek out valuable experiences. And in the next few years, they will make up the majority of the workforce. Whereas boomers “were not necessarily willing to sacrifice promotion, millennials are not willing to sacrifice fulfillment,” Kudla says.

This quest for fulfillment may be the key. As Posen says, “When people are stressed, they don’t create as well, they don’t feel as engaged, they are distractible, they’re tired, and it’s costing the bottom line.” And the inverse is also true. If we are motivated, challenged and supported, not only will we be more productive — we’ll be healthier too.

Dr. David Posen’s tips for reducing job stress

1. Leave work an hour earlier. “Never in 30 years have I had a patient who couldn’t get the same amount of work done in less time when they took better care of themselves.”
2. Spend that extra hour after work wisely. Book time for exercise, seeing friends, napping or even just sitting near something you find beautiful.
3. Take a micro-break every 90 minutes. Research shows that’s the longest we can concentrate intensely on something. “The best thing you can do is get up and walk away.”
4. Get a better night’s rest. To do this, Posen advises patients to slowly wean themselves off caffeine.
5. Work out. Every bit helps. Exercise drains off excess stress energy, so it lowers cortisol in the body, which can help reduce anxiety.
6. Change the way you think. Modify unrealistic expectations and try to identify problematic patterns. “Type A people need to slow down, and people pleasers need to learn how to say no occasionally.” 

Suspected mastermind of Paris attacks killed in police raid

The Associated Press | posted Thursday, Nov 19th, 2015

The Belgian jihadi suspected of masterminding deadly attacks in Paris died along with his cousin in a police raid on a suburban apartment building, officials said Thursday.

Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins’ office said 27-year-old Abdelhamid Abaaoud was identified based on skin samples, but authorities did not know how he died.

His body was found in the apartment building targeted in the chaotic and bloody raid in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis on Wednesday.

Three police officials say a woman who died in the raid was Abaaoud’s cousin. One said Hasna Aitboulahcen is believed to have detonated a suicide vest after a brief conversation with police officers.

The official confirmed an audio recording, punctuated by gunshots, in which an officer asks: “Where is your boyfriend?” and she responded angrily: “He’s not my boyfriend!” Then loud bangs are heard.

The exact relationship between Abaaoud and Aitboulahcen was not clear.

The bodies recovered in the raid were badly mangled, with a part of Aitboulahcen’s spine landing on a police car, complicating formal identification, according to one of the officials.

The officials all spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not permitted to divulge details of the investigation.

Police launched the operation after receiving information from tapped phone calls, surveillance and tipoffs suggesting that Abaaoud was holed up there. Eight people were arrested in the raid.

Canada will do ‘more than its part’ to defeat ISIL, Trudeau says

Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Nov 19th, 2015

U.S. President Barack Obama said Thursday at the APEC summit that the United States and Canada will “both soon to be signatories to the TPP.”

The 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership signed Oct. 5 was one of several topics Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Obama discussed during their first formal meeting since Trudeau took office earlier this month.

Obama’s comment to reporters following their meeting came a day after he made an impassioned pitch to the 12 TPP leaders – including Trudeau – to ratify the deal as quickly as possible.

The Liberal government has promised to consult with Canadians on the massive trade pact and put it to a vote in Parliament.

Trudeau and Obama also said they discussed terrorism, ISIL, the economy, the border, energy, climate, Syria, and refugees during their conversation.

Regarding ISIL, Trudeau told reporters that Canada will do “more than its part” and remain a strong member of the campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Trudeau reiterated that Canada intends to withdraw its CF-18 fighter jets from the U.S.-led coalition bombing militants in Syria and Iraq and replace them with a more robust force of military trainers on the ground in Iraq.

The two leaders also discussed energy in the wake of the Obama’s rejection of Keystone XL pipeline earlier this month, saying he had environmental concerns about approving the transport of dirty oil from Alberta across the United States.

Asked how he might convince the United States to accept more of what Obama termed “dirty oil,” Trudeau replied that Canada’s environmental record “was not good in the past and we need to do better.”

Trudeau said he wanted to “reassure Canadians and others that we are serious about meeting our emissions reductions targets.”

Obama added that both countries will need to “rethink how we do energy.”

“Canada and U.S. are both important oil and gas producers, and we make no apologies but we need to shift from carbon intensive energy to other sources,” he said.

The U.S. president predicted oil prices would stay low for a while and this presented an opportunity for producers to diversify their business and for consumers to not to use more gas. He said the transition would be “messy”

On the refugee issue, Trudeau and Obama are on the same page on bringing Syrian refugees to their countries despite security concerns that have surfaced since the attacks in France last week that killed 129 people.

Obama reiterated that tourists pose more of a threat than refugees in the United States and are “heavily screened.”

Trudeau pledged during the recent federal election campaign that Canada would accept 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the year

Obama also announced that Trudeau will pay his first visit to Washington, likely early in the new year, “so we can have a more extensive expanded bilateral.”

“I’m sure Michelle’s going to want to visit with Canada’s new first lady so we are going to be looking for a date for that to happen,” said Obama.

Trudeau said he looked forward to visiting the White House.

“I certainly know that my wife Sophie is going to very excited to hear about Michelle’s garden because she has started a vegetable garden as well in our backyard,” said Trudeau.

“It’s going to be a wonderful time of strengthening ties between our two countries both on the economic, on the security, on the engagement with the world and on the personal level.”

The 54-year-old president also told the story of his congratulatory phone call to Trudeau after his election win.

Obama told Trudeau he had no grey hair when he took office seven years ago.

“If you don’t want to grey like me you need to start dying it soon,” Obama recalled telling Trudeau.

Trudeau replied: “So young, and yet so cynical.”

Grocers Loblaw, Metro talk online shopping as both deliver stronger profits

David Friend, The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Nov 19th, 2015

Two of Canada’s largest grocers shed a little more light on their plans to make online shopping convenient, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they agree on the strategy.

Both Loblaw and Metro tackled the rising popularity of e-commerce shopping on Wednesday during their quarterly conference calls as the companies delivered stronger overall profits and revenues.

Pressure has been mounting for Canadian grocers to respond to evolving consumer habits that show more people are using their computers and smartphones to shop for lower prices and buy online.

With rare exceptions, grocery stores have been a laggard in this area, partly because for years consumer research showed minimal demand for online grocery options in Canada.

When Walmart and Amazon.ca charged into the largely untouched Canadian online grocery market, the priorities for big chains began to shift.

Loblaw has since rolled out its “click-and-collect” option at 30 stores in some regions of the country, including many parts of Ontario, as well as Edmonton, Vancouver and Kelowna, B.C.

The project lets customers order groceries online and then pick them up at the local store, similar to Walmart’s in-store “grab-and-go” lockers.

Loblaw president Galen Weston said he sees a chance to expand its pickup service beyond grocery stores and into the Shoppers Drug Mart chain, which the company also owns.

“I think it’s fair to say those points of convenience in the Shoppers Drug Mart network represent a meaningful opportunity for us,” he said.

But Weston isn’t as confident that store-to-door delivery is the future of his business at this point.

“Our conviction around click-and-collect is growing,” he added.

“The customer response … suggests this is a superior customer service proposition … but you know, there will be others with a different view and they can make their investment choices as they see fit.”

Next year, fellow grocer Metro Inc. will begin testing its own e-commerce project that could include in-store pickup or delivery. So far, the company has declined to offer any details.

In a call with analysts, Metro’s chief executive Eric La Fleche was reluctant to proclaim online shopping as the next step in how consumers buy their food.

“For a portion of the population, e-commerce might be the most convenient way to shop,” he said.

“We’ll see how big that demand is — and that market is — as it evolves. When the consumer is ready for that, we’ll be ready.”

On Wednesday, Loblaw and Metro posted higher quarterly results in what both companies characterized as a highly competitive market driven by discounts and promotions.

Loblaw Companies Ltd. (TSX:L) reported earnings rose nearly 17 per cent to $166 million, or 40 cents per share, for the third quarter.

Sales totalled $13.95 billion, up from $13.60 billion. Growth in same-store sales — stores that have been open more than a year — for the company’s food business was ahead 3.1 per cent, excluding its gas bar and the negative impact of a change in distribution model by a tobacco supplier.

Meanwhile, the company’s drug retail same-store sales growth, which includes Shoppers Drug Mart, was 4.9 per cent. Same-store pharmacy sales increased 3.5 per cent, while front store sales increased 6.2 per cent.

At Metro Inc. (TSX:MRU), earnings rose 14 per cent to $131.7 million or 52 cents per diluted share for what was its fourth quarter.

Sales grew to $2.83 billion from $2.71 billion in the same quarter last year. Same-store sales were up 3.4 per cent.

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