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Bruce McArthur to be sentenced Friday

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Feb 6th, 2019

Family and friends of men murdered by Bruce McArthur will find out in two days what the future hold for the Toronto serial killer — hope that he could live to apply for parole — or none at all.

Friday is when a judge will announce whether the 67-year-old landscaper will be able to apply in 25 years — or 50.

The Crown wants the latter, but the defence wants McArthur to serve life with a chance to apply for parole in 25 years.

Court heard in a two-day sentencing hearing this week that many of McArthur’s victims were immigrants and of South Asian or Middle Eastern descent.

Some lived parts of their life in secret because of their sexual orientation.

Police arrested McArthur in January 2018.

Last week he pleaded guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder.

He had a chance to address the court yesterday, but declined.

He had no reaction to the two days of victim impact statements and graphic details of his crimes.

Leafs sign Auston Matthews to lucrative 5-year contract extension

NEIL DAVIDSON, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Feb 6th, 2019

The Toronto Maple Leafs got their man and some salary cap certainty. Auston Matthews got rich.

The Leafs signed their 21-year-old star centre Tuesday to a US$58.17, five-year contract extension with an average annual value of $11.634 million.

Matthews will be 26 when the deal expires in 2023-24. Unless something untoward happens in between, an even bigger Brink’s truck will be needed then given he will be an unrestricted free agent.

“Regardless if I’m making $1 or $11 million, I’m not going to change who I am,” a relaxed Matthews told eight TV cameras and a phalanx of some three dozen media squeezed into in the Leafs dressing room.

“Nothing really changes for me,” he added. “I’m going to be myself every day. I’m going to have fun. I get to play hockey and do what I love. Now I’m fortunate to do it for a lot of money … I feel very fortunate and very lucky — especially to do it in a city of Toronto.”

Signing now gives Leafs GM Kyle Dubas a clearer picture of his salary cap ahead with the Feb. 25 trade deadline looming.

With William Nylander signing a six-year extension in December — with an average annual value of $10.2 million this season and $6.9 million in the next five — and veteran John Tavares on Year 1 of a seven-year, $77-million deal, the focus now switches to 21-year-old winger Mitch Marner.

Like Marner, Matthews was eligible to become a restricted free agent on July 1 after their three-year entry-level deals expire. Contract talks with Marner, however, have been put on hold until after the season at agent Darren Ferris’s request.

“We’re respecting the wishes of Darren,” said Dubas. “If they were to change their stance on it, then we’re open to that. But for right now, we’ll respect their wishes and we’ll carry on with the season here.”

Added Dubas: “When they’re ready to sit down, we’ll talk. He’s going to be a Toronto Maple Leaf for a long time, regardless of how we have to come to that.”

In addition to Marner, Toronto has some more loose ends. Forwards Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson and backup goalie Garret Sparks are eligible to become restricted free agents while defenceman Jake Gardiner and Ron Hainsey are headed towards unrestricted free agency.

Asked about Kapanen and Johnsson, Dubas said talks would probably start after the trade deadline.

The goal is to keep the Toronto talent together for as long as possible. Going into league play Tuesday, the Leafs ranked fourth in the league with a 32-17-3 record.

Dubas said talks over a new deal for Matthews started last July with Matthews adding they talked contracts with a range in terms from three years to eight. The Matthews camp initially wanted longer term, which carries a higher average annual value, but agreed on the five-year deal giving the Leafs more flexibility, Dubas suggested.

“We’re trying to build a team that can have sustained success, not just contend once,” Dubas said. “You look, there’s a litany of teams all across every professional sport, they’re very good teams for a long time but they can’t ever push it across the finish line. I think a lot of that is luck-related and luck-based.

“I think we want to give ourselves the maximum number of chances we can to make a real good go at it. In saying that, keeping the young core of our team together and then building out a program where they want to stay here on their subsequent contracts, I think that falls on us. It doesn’t fall on the players.”

Matthews is on board.

“(The fans) want a championship team and we want to give it to them,” he said. “This city deserves it.”

The 21-year-old Marner leads the Leafs in scoring this season with 63 points (20 goals and 43 assists). Tavares is second with 56 points (31 goals and 25 assists) with defenceman Morgan Rielly third with 52 (13 goals and 39 assists) and Matthews fourth with 46 (23 goals and 23 assists).

Matthews has only played 38 of Toronto’s 52 games due to injury, however.

“He’s a centre and he scores at an elite elite rate that few have matches in their first three years of hockey,” said Dubas.

The first overall draft pick in 2016, Matthews has 97 goals and 81 assists in 182 regular-season games with the Leafs.

His three-year entry-level deal called for him to make the maximum $925,000 a year.

The bulk of Matthews’s deal is in signing bonuses. He will make just $700,000 in salary each of the two years and then $750,000 for the next three while getting bonuses of $15.2 million, $15.2 million, $9.72 million, 7.2 million and $7.2 million.

The bonus route has been a growing trend in the league. Such contracts make it more difficult to buy out a player’s contract because the reduced salary numbers mean there is little salary cap relief in doing so.

The 34 at the end of the annual value of his new deal appears to be a nod to Matthews’ uniform number.

Tavares also went the bonus route with a salary listed at a mere $650,000 this season. Reportedly almost $71 million of his Toronto deal comes in the form of signing bonuses.

The former NHL rookie of the year from Scottsdale, Ariz., has represented Toronto at the NHL all-star game in each of his three seasons.

“I don’t think there’s anything like playing in this city,” Matthews said of his NHL home. “From our fans, the support we get day in and day out, walking around the street getting recognized, I mean that’s not something I imagined when I was a kid growing up in Arizona.”

Matthews was headed for a family dinner Tuesday to celebrate his new-found fortune. Toronto hosts the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday.

21 impaired drivers charged in York Region, including 1 in drive-thru

NEWS STAFF | posted Tuesday, Feb 5th, 2019

York police charged 21 impaired drivers this week, including one man caught in a restaurant drive-thru.

Dashcam footage captured police arresting the driver who had fallen asleep in the drive-thru.

Officers were called to the scene at 5 p.m. on Sunday to 304 Wellington Street East in Aurora.

The vehicle was pulled up the window, running with the driver asleep.

After knocking on the window several times, officers smashed the passenger window to enter the car.

The driver was woken up, reportedly smelled of alcohol and arrested. Police say he blew more than four times the legal limit.

This adds to the more than 100 impaired-related charges laid this year already.

Portion of daycare ceiling falls on 3 children in Roncesvalles

NEWS STAFF | posted Tuesday, Feb 5th, 2019

Three children suffered minor injuries after a portion of a ceiling fell on them at a Roncesvalles daycare centre.

Police were called to the Dundas Street West and Boustead Avenue around 12 p.m. Monday afternoon.

Ceiling tiles and plaster fell on the children while they were napping.

Crews evacuated 21 children and nine staff members from the building and the parents of the injured children were contacted.

One child was taken to hospital with minor injuries, while the other two were treated on the scene.

The building inspector was notified as Toronto Fire was concerned about the structure of building.

Toronto Fire Capt. Adrian Ratushniak told CityNews the engineer that assessed the scene suggested that the roof collapse was likely due to aging construction.

“They’ve determined that the ceiling had collapsed probably due to the age and construction — the old lath and plaster construction along with acoustic tiles on top,” he said

He added that the building itself was determined to be structurally sound.



Friends, relatives of victims to speak at McArthur sentencing hearing today

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Feb 5th, 2019

A sentencing hearing continues today for Bruce McArthur, a serial killer who preyed on men from Toronto’s gay village for years before he was arrested.

Friends and relatives of McArthur’s eight victims are expected to continue reading their victim impact statements.

Many wept in court Monday as prosecutors provided previously unheard details of the killings, which took place between 2010 and 2017.

Crown attorney Michael Cantlon told the court McArthur took photographs of his victims’ bodies posed in various states of undress and kept the images on his computer.

Court heard McArthur would then dismember his victims and dump their remains in planters around a residential property in midtown Toronto, where he stored his landscaping equipment, or in a ravine behind the home.

Police arrested McArthur in January 2018 and charged him for the murders of Andrew Kinsman and Selim Esen. They later charged McArthur for the murders of Majeed Kayhan, Dean Lisowick, Soroush Mahmudi, Skandaraj Navaratnam, Abdulbasir Faizi and Kirushna Kanagaratnam.

He pleaded guilty last week to eight counts of first-degree murder.

Toronto police have faced criticism for how they investigated the eight men’s disappearances, with some saying the force ignored the LGTBQ’s concerns about a possible serial killer.

Flooding caused issues on the DVP

NEWS STAFF | posted Tuesday, Feb 5th, 2019

Flooding in Toronto overnight created traffic problems for drivers who were trying to take the Don Valley Parkway.

The southbound DVP from Richmond Street to the Gardiner Expressway, as well as the ramps, were closed. But everything reopened just before 6:30 a.m. Tuesday.

The issue on the DVP started just before midnight on Monday, initially causing the parkway to be closed from Bloor to the Gardiner.

The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority issued a flood warning just after midnight, saying that the warm temperatures caused widespread melting of snow around the GTA watersheds.

“Due to the potential for further snowmelt caused by above freezing temperatures in the region, rivers within the GTA will be experiencing higher flows and water levels, resulting in hazardous conditions,” the warning said.

“Ice jamming was also observed at the mouth of the Don River.”

The flood warning will be in effect until noon.

680 NEWS meteorologist Jill Taylor said a high of 10 C was already reached on Tuesday but the temperature will fall to -2 C this afternoon.

Trudeau speaks with Venezuelan leader Guaido ahead of key meeting of allies

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Feb 4th, 2019

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office says he has spoken with the man Canada and many of its allies consider the legitimate leader of Venezuela.

Trudeau’s office says he spoke with Juan Guaido about the need for countries to send a clear message about what the PMO calls “the illegitimacy of the Maduro regime.”

A statement from the PMO says the two also discussed the need to respect Venezuela’s constitution and to have free and fair presidential elections.

The call comes a day before Canada and its allies in the so-called Lima Group are set to meet in Ottawa.

The gathering of more than a dozen of Canada’s Western Hemisphere allies is meant to find new ways to support the Venezuelan opposition and ease the refugee crisis in neighbouring Brazil and Colombia

The agenda was still being finalized on Friday, in part because of the speed at which the Venezuelan crisis is unfolding.

Canada has already contributed $2.2 million for the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela that has forced three million people from their homes.

Trudeau’s office says he told Guaido that Monday’s meeting will look at any ways countries can “can further support the people of Venezuela, including through immediate humanitarian assistance.

“The prime minister commended Juan Guaido for his courage and leadership in helping to return democracy to Venezuela and offered Canada’s continued support,” the statement says.

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