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Wynne plays it cool about upcoming battle with Ford over premiership

Momin Qureshi | posted Tuesday, Mar 13th, 2018

If Kathleen Wynne is worried about competing with Doug Ford for votes in the upcoming provincial election, she’s not letting on.

The Premier seems to be trying to play it cool now that she knows she’ll be facing off with the newly chosen Progressive Conservative leader.

“No matter who we’re fighting against, it is always about who we’re fighting for and what we are fighting for. From my perspective, it didn’t matter who the leader of the Conservatives is going to be,” Wynne said.

“Our policies are about investing in people, investing in the care of people in this province.”

On Saturday, after a very tight race, it was announced that Ford had beat Christine Elliott to take the helm of the party following Patrick Brown’s departure earlier this year amid sexual misconduct allegations.

Wynne acknowledged that she doesn’t see eye-to-eye with Ford, but “that’s not news to anyone.”

“Doug Ford and I disagree on a lot of things, that’s a reality,” she said.

“What we are putting forward as a platform is very different than any of the Conservatives would have put forward.”

Wynne said she’s sticking to her plan and wants to keep focused on her government’s record and plans for the future.

But when pressed on how the campaign may take on a different tone with Ford as a candidate, Wynne said the election may be about more than just the issues.

“We shouldn’t minimize the importance of this and boil it down to a political horse race,” she explained.

“This is about the fundamentals of what government exists to do and I look forward to a serious debate with the other party leaders.”

Air Canada check-in counters back online after massive outage

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Mar 13th, 2018

Air Canada’s check-in counters were back online Monday after a massive network outage snarled travellers who were trying to board their flights.

It is not yet known what time the outage occurred, but travellers were tweeting about the delays caused by the outage just before noon.

“We’re currently experiencing an interruption at our customer contact centres and http://www.aircanada.com. We apologize for any inconvenience and are working towards restoring our service as quickly as possible. Thank you for your patience,” Air Canada said in a tweet.

Air Canada customers in Canada and around the world were unable to check in or book a flight after a malfunction in the company’s system.

There were long lines reported at airports, including at Pearson International Airport, as well as in Vancouver, Montreal, and Calgary.

“Air Canada is experiencing a network outage nationwide, and departing passengers are being checked in manually, which is causing a bit of congestion in the terminal,” Calgary International Airport said in a tweet.

Departing passengers were being checked in manually, with some people tweeting pictures of their handwritten boarding passes.

At first, it appeared the outage was only in Canada, but check-in counters around the world were also impacted.

In Toronto and elsewhere in Canada, the system issues came as travellers were heading out of town for March break.

Vasudha Sharma, a digital broadcast journalist, tweeted that around 100 or more passengers were waiting to get checked in at Pearson.

One traveller told CityNews flights could not depart since crews could not access the weight of the plane. Some planes reportedly unloaded passengers.

Measles confirmed on recent Air Canada flight from Zurich to Toronto

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Mar 13th, 2018

Toronto Public Health says passengers on a flight originating in Switzerland may have been exposed to measles.

TPH is looking into a lab-confirmed case of measles in a passenger travelling on Air Canada flight AC 0879 from Zurich to Toronto on Mar. 6. The flight departed from Zurich Airport at 9:25 a.m. and arrived at Toronto Pearson International Airport at 12:07 p.m.

This is the second such incident in less than a month.

Public health officials confirmed a case of measles in an infant on a Feb. 12 Air Canada flight, also going from Zurich to Toronto.

Measles is highly contagious, and babies, pregnant women and people with weak immune systems are most vulnerable.

While the risk of contracting the virus is low, TPH is asking anyone who may have been exposed to ensure that their measles vaccinations (MMR or MMRV) are up-to-date. Further, even if your vaccinations are current, they advise to watch for symptoms which include high-fever, cough, sensitivity to light and a red rash lasting for four to seven days.

Anyone experiencing symptoms should avoid going to work or school. Before you go to see your healthcare provider, inform them that you may have been in contact with someone who has measles.

More information about measles can be found here.

With files from The Canadian Press

‘The party is over with taxpayers’ money’: Ford promises change

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Mar 13th, 2018

Doug Ford’s path to the Progressive Conservative party leadership may have been fraught with delays and confusion, but he doesn’t see any room for doubt when Ontarians head to the polls to crown the next premier.

“We are going to sweep this province,” Ford boldly told CityNews on Monday morning. “I’m predicting right now this is going to be the biggest majority this province has ever seen. We are going to win more seats than anyone ever has.”

“Everyone in the province is frustrated,” he stressed. “They do not want Kathleen Wynne back … They want a change. We are going to bring a change and make this province the most prosperous province in the entire country.”

Ford also maintained that the PC party is newly-united after a tumultuous stretch that saw the resignation of former leader Patrick Brown amid sexual misconduct allegations coupled with a disastrous leadership vote Saturday that saw lengthy delays and a decent dose of ambiguity regarding the results.

In the end Ford was declared the winner, edging his main rival Christine Elliott. Elliott finally conceded on Sunday following a review of voting “irregularities” that briefly cast a shadow of doubt over the process.

“After completing my review, I am confident in the results,” Elliott wrote in a statement. “I extend my congratulations to Doug Ford on a hard-fought campaign.”

Ford maintains that under his leadership, the party is once again focused on a common goal.

“We are focused on Kathleen Wynne, we aren’t focused on each other anymore, we are going to move forward as a party,” he said.

“My main focus right now is Kathleen Wynne. I had an opportunity to speak to Kathleen today and make no mistake about it … I have a great deal of respect for Kathleen Wynne.

“It’s not personal,” he added. “It’s the way she’s destroyed this province under the McGunity-Wynne Liberals for 15 years. We’ve lost 300,000 jobs, we are the most indebted region in the entire world.”

Much like his late brother, former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, the newly-crowned PC party leader is intent on lowering taxes and respecting taxpayers while touting a tough-talking brand of social conservatism.

“We are going to reduce hydro rates when seniors and other people are deciding between heating and eating. Anyone (making) under $30,000 a year is paying zero per cent tax, that’s how you really help the most vulnerable people.”

“We aren’t budging on the carbon tax, we are going to repeal the sex-ed and consult with the parents. It’s not going to be up to Doug Ford, it will be up to the parents and the teachers.”

And while he maintains he’s softened since his years as a burly and boisterous Toronto city councillor locked in the perpetual defence of his controversial brother, Ford says one thing still stirs his fighting spirit.

“I become harsh and I start attacking when people start stealing off the taxpayers. I am their protector. I am going to put money back in their pockets.

“There’s billions of dollars being wasted,” he seethed. “The party is over with the taxpayers’ money.”

Watch the full, un-edited interview below.

 

Christine Elliott concedes Ontario Tory leadership to Doug Ford after a review

Paola Loriggio and Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Mar 12th, 2018

The newly crowned leader of Ontario’s beleaguered Opposition is no longer being challenged by his main rival, who refused to concede for nearly a day.

Christine Elliott met with Doug Ford on Sunday evening to congratulate him on his narrow win in the race to lead Ontario’s Progressive Conservative party.

In a statement acknowledging Ford’s victory, Elliott said she conducted a review and is confident in the results of the race.

“The pace of this Ontario PC leadership race has been rapid and there have been a number of unexpected turns along the way. That is why our team took the last twenty-four hours to review the results of an election that was incredibly close,” she said in the written statement.

“After completing my review, I am confident in the results. I extend my congratulations to Doug Ford on a hard-fought campaign.”

Elliott initially disputed Saturday’s results, alleging they stemmed from “serious irregularities” in the vote.

But Ford had brushed off her allegations, saying he was working on restoring unity within the party as it works to topple Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government in a spring general election.

“I’m worried about Kathleen Wynne, not Christine right now,” Ford told reporters as he walked in a St. Patrick’s Day parade in Toronto earlier Sunday.

“We’re going to defeat Kathleen Wynne and bring prosperity back to this great province … we’re uniting the team and we’re going to defeat Kathleen Wynne.”

Elliott previously said she won the popular vote and the majority of ridings, and said thousands of party members were assigned to incorrect ridings during the voting process.

The party sided with Ford, saying his win was definitive. It noted that there had been an issue with the allocation of certain electoral votes but the matter was reviewed and resolved.

“These results are definitive and provide a clear mandate to Doug Ford as outlined in our party constitution and the leadership election rules,” Hartley Lefton, chair of the party’s leadership election organizing committee, said Sunday.

But in spite of Elliott’s concession, uniting the party and making it appeal to a range of voters may prove a daunting task for Ford given his brash, often confrontational approach, which he displayed in his brief career in municipal politics and again in his leadership campaign, said Myer Siemiatycki, a political science professor at Toronto’s Ryerson University.

“One doesn’t exactly think of the Ford political brand involving bridge-building, reaching out to those who disagree with them to forge compromise or common ground,” he said.

“The leadership style is very alpha and alpha male, and it remains to be seen how that will go over,” he said, noting there is no reason to expect anything different now that Ford is at the helm.

Over the course of the campaign triggered by former Tory leader Patrick Brown’s departure amid sexual misconduct allegations, Ford repeatedly vowed wrest control of the party from elites and give a voice to the grassroots members.

He also touted his experience running the Ford family’s label-making business, saying it had prepared him to run an efficient government.

Ford further promised to scrap a proposed carbon tax that formed a key pillar of the party’s election platform introduced in November under Brown, criticized the Liberal government’s sex education curriculum and said he’d allow caucus members to vote with their conscience on policy matters.

His populist message and critique of the political establishment will likely win him some supporters, Siemiatycki said. But there is little to back up Ford’s assurances that running the family business has prepared him for provincial politics, he said.

“If you go into government thinking that you’re running just another business like your family business, that can really, really be problematic,” in part because governments can’t charge for services, he said.

The governing Liberals and the New Democrats have panned Ford as a step backwards for the Tories, accusing him of currying favour with the party’s socially conservative elements.

“With the selection of Doug Ford, Ontario Conservatives have chosen corporate interests over workers, religious extremism over the rights of women, and cuts at the expense of our healthcare and education,” the Liberals said after his victory was announced.

Ontario heads to the polls June 7.

British officials urge public to wash clothes after nerve agent attack

Gregory Katz and Frank Griffiths, The Associated Press | posted Monday, Mar 12th, 2018

British health authorities on Sunday urged people to wash their clothing and possessions as a precaution if they visited a restaurant and pub in the English city of Salisbury, where a Russian ex-spy and his daughter were poisoned with a nerve agent.

The official statement was the first time British officials have urged the public to take specific actions as a result of the attack. Officials still say the risk is low as investigators in hazard gear combed key sites for clues.

Public Health England issued advice for anyone who went to either the Zizzi restaurant or The Mill pub at certain hours of March 4 and 5. Ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia reportedly ate at Zizzi before falling critically ill on March 4.

“While there is no immediate health risk to anyone who may have been in either of these locations, it is possible, but unlikely, that any of the substance which has come into contact with clothing or belongings could still be present in minute amounts and therefore contaminate your skin,” the statement said. “Over time, repeated skin contact with contaminated items may pose a small risk to health.”

The health agency added that any clothing should be washed in “an ordinary washing machine using your regular detergent at the temperature recommended for the clothing.”

It also said to “wipe personal items such as phones, handbags and other electronic items with cleansing or baby wipes and dispose of the wipes in the bin.”

Health officials say that up to 500 people may have to take these precautions. The government, meanwhile, hasn’t revealed what nerve agent was used in the attack.

A large-scale police investigation is underway in Salisbury as forensics experts wearing protective gear search for clues. Among the sites they are searching are the Zizzi restaurant, which is closed to the public, and the gravesites where Skripal’s wife and son are buried. Skripal’s house has also been extensively searched for clues and traces of the nerve agent.

Authorities haven’t revealed how or where the Skripals were exposed to the nerve agent. It’s not known if it happened in a restaurant, a pub, Skripal’s house or elsewhere.

Wiltshire police planned to hold a news conference Sunday afternoon to release further details about the widening investigation.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said Saturday evening it is still “too early” to determine who is to blame for the attack. Senior government officials have vowed to respond robustly if the Russian government is found to be responsible.

Rudd said more than 250 counterterrorism officers are on the scene evaluating more than 240 pieces of evidence and interviewing about 200 witnesses.

They are backed by roughly 180 military personnel providing logistical support, including the removal of ambulances feared to possibly be contaminated by the nerve agent.

Police are looking for precise clues to what sickened Skripal, 66, a Russian ex-military intelligence specialist who in 2006 was convicted in Russia of spying for Britain, and his 33-year-old daughter, Yulia.

Investigators hope they can pinpoint where the nerve agent was made, which could help determine who was behind the attack.

Skripal was imprisoned inside Russia until he was freed in a 2010 spy swap and settled in England. He had stayed out of the public eye since then.

The father and daughter were found unconscious March 4 on a bench in Salisbury. Skripal lived in the town, located 90 miles (140 kilometres) southwest of London.

Authorities haven’t said whether they expect the pair to recover.

Some British lawmakers have asked for a high-level investigation of a string of serious mishaps involving former Russia spies and foes of Russian President Vladimir Putin who have taken up residence in Britain.

Man dies from injuries sustained in Etobicoke shooting

BT Toronto | posted Monday, Mar 12th, 2018

A man has succumbed to his injuries following a shooting in Etobicoke on Saturday night.

Police and paramedics responded to a call in the Mount Olive and Silverstone Drives area around 5:45 p.m.

Paramedics say a man in his 30s was taken to hospital via emergency run in critical condition.

Police reported Sunday morning that the victim had died in hospital.

Police say multiple shell casings were found at the scene and they are looking for a male suspect, described as black and between five-feet-nine to six-feet tall. He was wearing a black hoodie and had his face covered.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police.

Early morning crash knocks out power to High Park neighbourhood

BT Toronto | posted Monday, Mar 12th, 2018

Two people suffered serious injuries following an early morning crash in the city’s west end.

Paramedics say a car crashed into a hydro pole near Bloor Street and Parkside Drive just before 5 a.m. Sunday morning.

Two female victims – a teenager and a woman in her 20s – were rushed to hospital in serious condition.

As a result of the crash, power to some houses on the east side of Parkside was affected. Toronto Hydro says restoration efforts could take the majority of the day.

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