Articles on this Page
- 02/04/14--14:10: _Juno nominations fa...
- 02/04/14--16:50: _Union Station name ...
- 02/04/14--17:08: _Ms. Marvel fights f...
- 02/04/14--17:31: _Bill would allow re...
- 02/04/14--17:41: _GO rail constructio...
- 02/04/14--05:22: _Senate scandal: Mac...
- 02/04/14--14:57: _Rogers unveils plan...
- 02/04/14--12:32: _Quebec premier livi...
- 02/04/14--18:20: _Provinces urge Jaso...
- 02/04/14--06:01: _Cause of death a my...
- 02/04/14--09:20: _Jeffrey Baldwin inq...
- 02/04/14--18:44: _Teacher chronicles ...
- 02/04/14--17:00: _Use budget to boost...
- 02/04/14--09:51: _Dead boy’s grandfat...
- 02/04/14--18:06: _Star seeks unsealin...
- 02/04/14--19:10: _Scotties Tournament...
- 02/04/14--07:22: _Ombudsman to probe ...
- 02/04/14--19:30: _Ellie Chat Feb. 5: ...
- 02/04/14--19:27: _With their dads wat...
- 02/04/14--19:03: _Man without vital s...
- 02/04/14--16:50: Union Station name change proposal rankles historians
- 02/04/14--17:08: Ms. Marvel fights foes and preconceptions
- 02/04/14--17:31: Bill would allow reporting results before B.C. polls close
- 02/04/14--17:41: GO rail construction for Union Pearson Express keeps residents awake
- 02/04/14--14:57: Rogers unveils plans for NHL broadcasts next season
- Hockey Night in Canada, the brand that began on CBC and continues there on a four-year deal, will expand to all other Sportsnet properties for all Saturday games. That means City could broadcast the Canadiens, Sportsnet the Senators and CBC the Maple Leafs, all at the same time nationally and all under the umbrella of HNIC.
- CBC’s future with Rogers: “We don’t know where the television system will be in four years,” said Moore. “If the CBC continues to be the most widely distributed conventional network and still alive and well, I would suspect we would renew that deal. If in four years conventional TV has disappeared . . . we’re going go to where the audience is.”
- Don Cherry and Ron McLean. Reading between the lines, they sound secure.
- Pay Per View is not in the equation, at least not right now.
- New cameras. Moore said he’s looking at installing more wired-up over-ice cameras (like the NFL), or cameras that roll along the top of the side glass to offer viewers new angles.
- FX Channel. The lightly watched drama channel has within its licence the ability to show live sports up to 10 per cent of the time. It will show some hockey even though it’s not available in all homes. “We could have left FX out of it, but then there’s one less game that would be available nationally,” said Moore.
- 02/04/14--12:32: Quebec premier livid at calls to drag husband before committee
- 02/04/14--18:20: Provinces urge Jason Kenney to rethink Canada Jobs Grant
- 02/04/14--09:20: Jeffrey Baldwin inquest hears dozens of recommendations
- 02/04/14--18:44: Teacher chronicles kindergarten year of student with cerebral palsy
- 02/04/14--17:00: Use budget to boost economy, help consumers, says NDP
- 02/04/14--09:51: Dead boy’s grandfather testifies: ‘I could tell he was lifeless’
- 02/04/14--18:06: Star seeks unsealing of Lev Tahor warrant
- 02/04/14--19:10: Scotties Tournament of Hearts: Teams dealing with illness
- 02/04/14--07:22: Ombudsman to probe Hydro One's ‘baffling’ billing practices
- 02/04/14--19:30: Ellie Chat Feb. 5: After the Affair
- 02/04/14--19:27: With their dads watching, Leafs put on ugly display in Florida: Cox
A year and a half ago Shaw took a huge gamble, leaving school and his hometown of Vancouver to make a music career in Toronto.
“This is pretty cool, I’m pretty excited about it,” said Shaw, radiating enthusiasm in the crowded media scrum following Tuesday’s announcement of this year’s Juno nominees. He calls his music “organic pop,” relying on instruments rather than studio pyrotechnics for his sound on songs such as “Kiss Goodnight.”
Brett Kissel, Florence K, Tim Hicks and Wake Owl were the other breakthrough nominees in the passel of names announced Tuesday.
Arcade Fire whose Haitian-inspired fourth album Reflektor was one of the most critically acclaimed releases of the year, raked in six nominations.
Michael Bublé (who won a Grammy last week) and “Stompa” singer Serena Ryder were close behind with five nominations apiece.
Céline Dion, Drake, Hedley and Tegan and Sara had four each.
Arcade Fire will compete in the Album of the Year category against Céline Dion’s Loved Me Back to Life , Drake’s Nothing Was the Same , Bublé’s To Be Loved and Ryder’s Harmony .
“Blurred Lines” singer Robin Thicke, who pulled in three Juno nominations, was announced as a performer at the show, as were Tegan and Sara, and Ryder.
The host has yet to be announced.
Progressive-house music producer and performer Deadmau5 (Joel Thomas Zimmerman) was at a loss for words following his Dance Recording of the Year nomination.
“I have no smart answers,” said the tattooed, slender performer wearing one yellow and one blue sneaker. “I’m not a very good interview.”
He won three Juno Awards for Dance Recording of the Year in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
When pressed about his next project, he said he is working on a music score “just for the sake of it” and there is no movie in the offing.
Dru, who is nominated for Reggae Recording of the Year for Love Collision , was a little surprised by the category as he considers himself an R&B artist.
However, he did work closely with Jamaican artists on Love Collision so the Canadian-born son of Jamaican immigrants says he’s happy with the nomination. This is his second solo nomination after having won in 2004 with The Master Plan when part of the R&B group In Essence.
He called the Juno Awards events “a great experience” and, like most of those attending the news conference Tuesday, plans to be in attendance in Winnipeg for events during the last week of March that culminate in the awards ceremony on March. 30.
Alysha Brilla , nominated for Best Adult Contemporary Album for In My Head , says the roster of nominees is strong.
“This is a lot of talent,” said the Tasmanian-Canadian singer and producer, who also plays the guitar and piano. She produced the nominated album and collaborated with Mike Jones (a Juno winner) and Tom Coyne (a Grammy winner).
“Some of the songs are six and seven years old, that’s how long I’ve been working on this.” She is up against Dion, for Loved Me Back to Life .
Del Barber entertained the crowd assembled to hear the Juno announcements, which included Bachman Turner Overdrive getting a lifetime achievement award and a request for fans to record their own version of “Taking Care of Business” for Juno organizers to play at the event.
When classical pianist Stewart Goodyear heard that he was nominated for Classical Album of the Year: Solo or Chamber Ensemble, he immediately got a congratulatory text from fellow nominee, Matt Dusk. Dusk is nominated in the Vocal Jazz Album of the Year for My Funny Valentine — The Chet Baker Songbook .
They may have different music styles, but the two have a long history: they attended the same classes at St. Michael’s Choir School and are good friends.
Goodyear’s nomination is for Beethoven: The Complete Piano Sonatas . The project began in the winter of 2010 and ended on Valentine’s Day in 2012 and was a massive undertaking, said Goodyear.
When he looked around the room at all of the artists present, a smile spread over his face. “I belong here,” he said.
Go to junoawards.ca for a complete list of nominees.
What’s in a train station name?
That is the somewhat existential question set to be examined at city hall in coming months, as Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong pursues a campaign to rename Union Station after Sir John A. Macdonald.
“(He) is known for his National Policy, for building a railway from coast to coast,” Minnan-Wong said in announcing the proposal on Tuesday. “What better place in terms of recognition of Sir John A. than Union Station, probably the most important railway station in the country?”
Not everyone agrees. In a star.com poll, readers roundly rejected the idea, with more than 90 per cent (as of Tuesday evening) voting to leave the station’s name untouched.
Perhaps it is no surprise that railway historians, too, expressed strong disdain for a move they say would sever a vital tie to the city’s past.
“I don’t think Union Station is just some generic name that doesn’t mean anything,” said Derek Boles, chief historian of the Toronto Railway Museum. “It means a lot to Toronto.”
The story of how Toronto’s Union Station got its name is fairly straightforward, and hardly unique. But it is also a tale that speaks volumes about the tradition of naming what were at the time North America’s most important transportation hubs.
Here’s the gist: Completed in 1927, the grand rail hub in the heart of downtown was built to unite railway lines operated by different companies under one roof, like two earlier Toronto stations also called Union. It was a popular concept, sprouting Union stations in cities across North America, from Chicago to Los Angeles.
Back then, stations with single lines were often named after the street where they were located, such as Montreal’s Windsor Station, or for the rail company that built them, like the Grand Trunk Railway Station in Detroit.
“I’m not aware of any transportation facility that was named after anybody,” Boles said.
However, if Toronto does proceed in renaming Union Station, Macdonald, whose railway efforts had no direct connection with the station, may not be the most appropriate choice, historians say.
A better option, said Ed Levy, a transportation consultant who has written extensively about Toronto’s transit plans, might be Horatio Hocken, who adopted “Tubes for the People” as his 1910 mayoral campaign slogan.
Rail consultant Greg Gormick, meanwhile, suggested a more recent, rail-friendly mayor: “How about David Miller Union Station? That, I could go for.”
With files from Paul Moloney
Whom do you think Union Station should be named after? Share your suggestions on twitter with the hashtag #renameunion.
Kamala Khan’s story is one that many teenage girls in Toronto could relate to. She’s a bit of a geek. Her parents are immigrants. She’s learning how to express her faith in a secular world.
Oh, and she has superpowers.
Kamala is taking up the mantle of Ms. Marvel , becoming the first Muslim woman to star in her own comic book series. The first issue — written by acclaimed graphic novelist G. Willow Wilson and illustrated by Toronto artist Adrian Alphona — comes out Wednesday.
While she might be a superhero, Kamala is not that different from many of the young Muslim women Wilson meets.
“I have just been consistently amazed by the strides that young, American Muslim women are making,” says Wilson, a 31-year-old convert to Islam. “It meant a lot to me, especially as a mother of two young girls, to be able to reflect that in comics, and to give voice to their particular struggle and their particular journey.”
Kamala is a 16-year-old who lives in New Jersey with her Pakistani-immigrant parents and conservative older brother. She forgoes a head scarf and writes fan fiction, and while she doesn’t eat bacon, she will drool over it.
When she suddenly develops the ability to shape-shift — for instance, she can grow her hand to bash rivals with an enormous fist, or shrink her body to escape pursuit — we see her going through the same kind of challenges other superheroes face in their origin stories. She eventually becomes the new Ms. Marvel, inheriting the title from a 1970s-era superhero named Carol Danvers, who has since moved on to a new gig as Captain Marvel .
But as she comes to grips with her new powers, Kamala’s heritage and religion influence her choices in a way Peter Parker never experienced, Wilson says.
“It makes her ask a lot of questions about whether or not she can be out in the open as a superhero,” she says. “One of the things she’s going to worry about is, are people going to be afraid of a Muslim with superpowers?
“And on the other hand, will my parents and my family accept me with these new powers?”
Keeping the story grounded in a realistic world is the illustration from Alphona, who is known for his naturalistic style and deft portrayal of young people, particularly with his work on The Runaways series.
“He is someone who can realistically and effectively illustrate a cast of young people of various races, and have it sort of be cartoony and identifiable, but not caricaturish,” says Peter Birkemoe, owner of The Beguiling book and comic store in The Annex.
Ms. Marvel isn’t the first comic series to have a woman or person of colour as its hero. In recent years, the big publishing companies such as Marvel and DC Comics have turned to such new characters to rebrand earlier series.
Birkemoe admits he takes a skeptical view of the tactic: it creates buzz and sometimes a sales bump, he says, but if the focus is on a token character rather than an interesting story, such series rarely endure.
The issue, he says, is that most readers of mainstream superhero comics gravitate to the kind of traditional heroes that have been around for decades — and those are often white men. People who want to see more diversity tend to turn away from Marvel and DC and toward manga and other types of stories.
“Time and time again these companies will try to do something, but these companies are inherently built to sell superhero comics of the type that they’ve been selling for 40 to 80 years,” Birkemoe says.
He thinks Ms. Marvel ’s best chance isn’t Kamala’s ethnicity but the skill and reputation of Alphona and Wilson, who has been nominated for the Eisner Award (considered the Oscars of comics) for her previous series, Air and Mystic .
Wilson acknowledges that it’s difficult to market unconventional heroes to a conventional audience: “They’ll be a core group of hardcore fans, but the book just doesn’t sell in the kinds of numbers that, you know, Wolverine Issue 1,695 sells.”
That’s why she thinks Marvel’s choice to introduce Kamala was brave and important. She feels that the world of comics needs to “make room at the table for as many people as possible.”
“Everybody who’s into comics now grew up with Superman and Batman and Spider-Man, and nobody wants those characters to change,” she says. “The point of this is not to have a political agenda. It’s to reflect the fact that the audience is changing.”
Alice Quinn, founder of online comics community TdotComics , was looking forward to reading Ms. Marvel as soon as it came out.
“It’s nice to have female characters and have them handle things differently than a man would,” she says. “I’d love to see more of it.”
She’s optimistic that a comic told from the perspective of a young woman like Kamala will have staying power.
“They’re always going to try new things and not all of it will work, but it’s really good that they’re trying these things,” she says.
Wilson said the response has been overwhelmingly positive so far. Fans have already been creating fan art and established a hashtag to share the Ms. Marvel love online ( #KamalaKorps ).
“I’ve just been consistently floored by how welcoming fans have been of this character,” she says.
OTTAWA–The Conservatives are proposing to do away with a 76-year old prohibition against reporting election results before polls on the West Coast close.
The Fair Elections Act introduced in the House of Commons Tuesday would repeal Section 329 of the Elections Act, which prohibited the “premature transmission” of election results before polls close on the west coast.
“Free speech is the lifeblood of democracy. The government is following through on its commitment to repeal the ban on premature transmission of election results, which infringes freedom of expression,” Democratic Reform Minister Pierre Poilievre said Tuesday morning. “The Fair Elections Act upholds freedom of expression and repeals that ban.”
It’s likely to be one of the only provisions in the 242-page election reform bill that will provoke little debate.
The ban essentially kept western Canada voters in the dark as eastern voters watched riding-by-riding returns roll in. While newly elected MPs celebrated in Nova Scotia, voters in Vancouver were to remain unaware of the results.
It was a more manageable rule when it required compliance from only television networks and radio stations. But with the advent of the Internet and ubiquitous, up-to-the-second social networking services, it proved very difficult to enforce.
As late as the 2011 election, Elections Canada was reminding reporters and the general public from abstaining from Twitter or updating Facebook while the polls remained open.
Some actively resisted the ban, reporting election results in Atlantic Canada as they came in. Elections Canada did not pursue charges.
He admits it was a dumb move.
But photojournalist Nick Kozak says he was so exhausted he didn’t care. He hopped a fence in the middle of the night with his camera and confronted the construction crew working on the $1.2-billion Georgetown South rail corridor expansion near his apartment.
There was swearing. But eventually a weary Kozak, whose clients include the Toronto Star, retreated, frustrated that he would face a Saturday assignment with no sleep.
He went back to his home on Dundas St. West near Glenlake Ave., and complained to any city department that would pick up the phone about the noise and thumping that rattled his apartment all night on Friday.
It was the latest skirmish involving residents along the train tracks and Metrolinx, the provincial agency in charge of expanding the rail corridor. They are the tracks where the Union Pearson Express train will run next year, and eventually, they will carry all-day, two-way GO service to Brampton and Georgetown.
The overnight construction was necessary to keep the project on its timetable, said Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins.
“We have lost time due to the severe weather we’ve had and we are committed to keeping this very important project on schedule,” she said.
Kozak, who has lived near the tracks for three years, says he knows noise is part of the bargain. Metrolinx has been good at keeping residents informed. But in this case his landlord failed to deliver a flyer warning of the work.
Even so, it wouldn’t have conveyed the severity of the noise and vibration that occurred overnight Friday.
“I’ve felt aftershocks in earthquake zones and that’s what it felt like. We’re talking 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. — insane,” he said.
It won’t be the last time residents along the tracks have to put up with construction disruption either, said Aikins.
“We will need to do two to four more weekends between March and August though we aren’t anticipating overnight grading work, so it will be less noisy, especially since the ground won’t be frozen,” she said.
That comes as some relief, said Kozak.
“I think it’s a basic human right to expect to be able to sleep at home without avoidable disturbance. The construction was causing manmade mini earthquakes. When a party goes on for too long, the police come to shut it down. Along with other beeping and movement of materials, it resulted in a situation that made it impossible to even sit at home comfortably, let alone sleep,” he said.
Councillor Gord Perks says Kozak’s problem isn’t new. “There have been all kinds of issues,” he said, citing residents’ concerns about enormous noise walls, pile driving, construction dust and tree cutting along the tracks.
That’s the price of building these kinds of massive infrastructure projects, he said.
“There are going to be problems,” said Perks.
OTTAWA —The Senate spending scandal deepened Tuesday with criminal charges against former Conservative senator Patrick Brazeau and former Liberal senator Mac Harb, prompting the prime minister to hail an RCMP probe that may well cause him more political damage.
Assistant RCMP Commissioner Gilles Michaud said the Mounties have charged Brazeau (a Harper appointee, now suspended) and Harb (now retired) separately with one count of breach of trust and fraud. He said the charges arise out of the year-long investigation into their housing and living expenses, but didn’t elaborate.
The RCMP says it did not have enough evidence to pursue charges related to allegations it previously outlined that Harb may have committed mortgage fraud.
Michaud said the RCMP continues to investigate “other significant files” — signalling the criminal probe into expenses claimed by two other high-profile Stephen Harper appointees, Pamela Wallin and Mike Duffy, is ongoing.
An RCMP inquiry continues into circumstances surrounding a gift by Nigel Wright, the prime minister’s former chief of staff, to Duffy of $90,000 to cover Duffy’s inappropriately claimed expenses. The RCMP has said it is looking at whether this amounted to fraud, breach of trust and bribery — an explosive theory that has not yet led to charges.
Wright resigned when the payment became public, and stated his actions were intended to ensure the taxpayer was not on the hook for Duffy expenses.
Nevertheless, the formal filing of Criminal Code charges was a significant shift in the Senate story that has dominated the federal political scene for more than a year. Hours after the news broke, a somber Harper offered “congratulations” to the RCMP in the House of Commons.
“We expect all parliamentarians to respect the rules and respect the law and if they do not, there will be consequences,” Harper said. “We obviously salute and acknowledge the work of the RCMP on these particular cases.”
The official Opposition traced the scandal to the prime minister’s political judgment in “naming senators from places where they didn’t even live,” in the words of NDP Leader Tom Mulcair.
Mulcair reveled in news that now touched both Liberal and Conservative parties, saying it “concentrated Canadians’ mind on the wisdom of the NDP approach: get rid of the Senate, abolish it.”
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau downplayed his original suggestion last year that Harb might one day return to caucus, arguing he had urged the RCMP to investigate, and pointing to the move last week to eject senators from the Liberal caucus in a bid to eliminate partisanship in the upper chamber.
But long before that, Harb — a Jean Chrétien appointee — had quit the Liberals. After first denying wrongdoing, Harb repaid more than $230,000 — the amount of overpayments he’d received from the Senate in the past eight years — and abruptly retired in August, retaining his pension.
Tuesday, Harb’s lawyer Sean May said the retired senator was pleased a mortgage fraud allegation was dropped, but “disappointed” any charges were laid. Harb, he said, would plead not guilty. “It’s always been our position that there’s no illegality, period.”
Brazeau, a one-time high-profile aboriginal leader and darling of the Conservative’s push on aboriginal files, issued no statement immediately. He remains a senator but was suspended along with Wallin and Duffy by a vote last November that stripped them of their salaries and Senate resources, leaving them only with health and life insurance, for now. Brazeau also faces sexual assault charges in connection with an incident last year at his Gatineau, Que., home.
As for the RCMP’s move Tuesday to lay charges, it is not clear whether the Crown will proceed by way of summary conviction or indictment, but penalties could range up to a maximum of five years in jail. The detailed documents known as an “information” to swear out charges were not publicly available Tuesday at the Ottawa courthouse.
Michaud said Harb and Brazeau would appear in court “at a later date.”
In previously sworn documents, the RCMP pointed to Senate rules that say living expenses for a “secondary residence” in Ottawa may be claimed only if a senator’s primary residence is more than 100 km outside the national capital region. An audit by Deloitte concluded neither Harb nor Brazeau lived primarily outside Ottawa but suggested Senate rules were “ambiguous.”
A Senate committee disagreed and declared them ineligible to make the expense claims.
Cpl. Greg Horton stated in affidavits he believes neither Harb nor Brazeau were entitled to submit claims for reimbursement by the Senate.
The federal auditor general has now undertaken a full audit of all other senators’ expense claims.
“I think that it’s up to Mr. Harper and Mr. Trudeau to tell us, are there other senators that they’re aware of?” asked MP Charlie Angus Angus, the NDP’s ethics critic, who also called on the federal auditor general to hand names to the police.
Rogers is banking on Canadians warming up to Hometown Hockey.
Rolling into small towns across Canada every week for stories about the grassroots of the game — think CBC’s Hockeyville— will be the backdrop to Sunday night hockey on City-TV.
That’s a new night of national hockey broadcasts, to go along with Saturday’s expanded Hockey Night in Canada and Wednesday night hockey on Sportsnet.
That was one of the innovations — there will be a ton of social media and second-screen “experiences” — as the bigwigs from Rogers and the NHL feted the Canadian advertising community in a launch of what Rogers has in mind starting in September, when its 12-year, $5.2 billion national broadcast deal with the league kicks in.
“We think we’re setting a new standard, but we only have eight months to do it,” said Sportsnet president Scott Moore.
It was an evening that was more sizzle than steak. But there were canapes and an open bar as a buzz began about what’s changing regarding the Canadian hockey viewing experience.
Rogers, for example, hammered home the theme that it was the only national broadcaster of hockey. And combined with regional deals with Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver, no NHL hockey would be seen west of Manitoba unless it was on a Rogers screen. (TSN has regional rights to Winnipeg, Ottawa and Montreal. The two companies share Leafs regional rights, a team they owned).
Some other tidbits:
That means an expansion of hockey on tablets and phones and whatever else is invented by 2026.
“I’m a big fan of both,” said Moore, a former Hockey Night producer himself. “They’re currently employed by the CBC. We’ve had some conversations, it’s a little early. We will be in a position to announce all our hockey commentators by early May. You can expect by end of April we’d have people under contract.”
“Pay per view has found its way out of the ecosystem,” said Moore. “While I would never say never, I think that would be a backwards step.”
MONTREAL—Premier Pauline Marois came out swinging on behalf of her husband Tuesday as opposition parties targeted his dealings with the province’s most powerful labour union.
Marois criticized Coalition Leader François Legault for calling on her husband, Claude Blanchet, to testify before a legislature committee.
After being silent on the issue in recent days, Marois, without any prompting from reporters, dismissed Legault’s call as a desperate political move.
“I’m inviting Mr. Legault to calm down,” she said. “Mr. Legault is launching personal attacks, and I don’t think it’s acceptable behaviour for someone who wants to be premier of Quebec and I believe it undermines his credibility.”
The controversy erupted after a 2009 wiretap, played recently at the Charbonneau Commission, suggested the then-president of the Quebec Federation of Labour was ready to enlist the aid of the Parti Québécois to help thwart a corruption probe. In the recording, Michel Arsenault is overheard saying the union has a “deal with Blanchet.”
Blanchet had business dealings with the labour federation’s Solidarity Fund through a company he owned.
The fund invested just under $3 million with Blanchet’s company, BLF Capital. The investment lost money over the next few years. Blanchet is no longer involved in BLF.
Arsenault was overheard saying the idea was to use Blanchet to persuade Marois to come out against the idea of holding any corruption inquiry.
Arsenault testified such a conversation never happened, and Marois has said the PQ was never asked to stop an inquiry from happening.
Blanchet has not spoken publicly about the deal but Marois reiterated Tuesday there was nothing illegal about the deal. Legault had said Blanchet should be made to answer questions about the so-called deal before any future election.
Marois invited Legault to look at the Charbonneau Commission’s own evidence and documents on her husband. The PQ’s lawyer spent more than an hour asking Arsenault questions about the Blanchet deal just last week.
Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard, meanwhile, rejected the idea of having Blanchet appear before a legislature committee.
“While the Charbonneau Commission is sitting, it’s not the role of the national assembly to transform into a parallel Charbonneau Commission,” Couillard said in Montreal.
“There’s one commissioner and she’ll decide who she wants to hear from.”
Canada’s provinces and territories are urging Ottawa to rethink its controversial new job training program.
Ontario Training Colleges and Universities Minister Brad Duguid said the counter-proposal to fix the Canada Jobs Grant that was put to federal Employment Minister Jason Kenney on Tuesday “is inherently reasonable.”
Behind closed doors, Kenney met in Toronto with ministers from Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and British Columbia, who are representing the Council of the Federation, at the talks.
Radio-Canada first reported the provinces and territories are appealing for a six-month delay in the start of the Canada Jobs Grant, which was supposed to be launched April 1, as well as a six-year phase-in instead of four years.
Duguid, who did not attend the talks with Kenney, said there is agreement across the country that the grant program as structured can be improved.
“It’ll be strengthened (and) some of the weaknesses in the original jobs grant corrected,” the Ontario minister said.
“It provides the flexibility that provinces and territories need to ensure that this new program is not funded on the backs of our most vulnerable workers, which has been our major concern from day one,” he said.
“What we’re proposing is that the funding for the Canada Jobs Grant come from one of three sources,” said Duguid, referring to the existing $500 million a year labour market agreement expiring March 31, the labour market development agreement, and “other sources” of federal transfers.
Under the proposed grant, the provinces would lose $300 million of the labour market agreement, he added.
That’s money used to train Ontarians who do not qualify for Employment Insurance benefits, including young people, the disabled, new Canadians, and First Nations workers.
Originally, businesses planning to train a worker were to receive a $15,000 grant, with the funding divided equally among the federal government, the employer and the province or territory where the firm was located.
But that didn’t pass muster so Kenney suggested $10,000 per worker in federal funds with the provinces and territories not forced to contribute.
In a statement late Tuesday, Kenney’s director of communication, Nick Koolsbergen, said the meeting was “productive.”
“The federal government will take the time to carefully review the provinces’ latest proposal,” said Koolsbergen.
“We are hopeful that an agreement can be reached on the Canada Job Grant to ensure skills training actually leads to a guaranteed job and employers are putting more money into equipping Canadians for available jobs.”
Friends and family are mourning a “boisterous” and “bright” kindergarten student as police continue to search for what caused her death after a post-mortem examination Tuesday.
The child, who police have not officially named, was identified Tuesday by neighbours as Evangeline Adotey. The 6-year-old had three siblings.
She was found in “obvious distress” at the Howard Johnson Inn & Suites on Metropolitan Rd., near Warden Ave. and Hwy. 401 Monday evening, police said. She was rushed to hospital, where she was pronounced dead. A man and another child were also taken to hospital.
Earlier in the day, around 4 p.m., police responded to the child’s family home in Scarborough, just over a kilometre away.
Police said Tuesday an autopsy was “inconclusive” and more tests were needed.
“It means that the examination could not determine a cause of death at this time,” said Const. Wendy Drummond. She said typically the next step is a toxicology test.
No charges have been laid and police have released few details as an investigation continues.
The death has been distressing to those who knew the young family.
“It was kinda shocking,” said one neighbour, who asked not to be identified. She said the girls’ parents, Jason and Cheryl Adotey, lived at the home with their four children, including Evangeline’s older brother and infant twins.
Property records show the couple purchased the Cass Ave. townhome in 2009. A police cruiser remained on the street Tuesday evening. A man and woman who did not speak with the Star left with overnight bags.
The neighbour called the Adoteys a “happy, hunky-dory family.”
She said Evangeline was friends with her daughter, also 6, and the two had been in the same class at Lynngate Junior Public School down the road, before Evangeline transferred to Beverly Glen Public School, near Finch and Warden Aves.
Evangeline and her brother would often play together with the woman’s children in the quiet, sprawling complex. Evangeline was there for birthday parties and is seen in a photo from last summer wearing a tiara and pink princess outfit. The neighbour said it’s been difficult to explain to her daughter that her friend is gone.
There was no commotion Monday night that neighbours heard.
Rudy Gafur, who used to be on the complex’s property’s management board, said he’s known the family for four years. His grandson used to play with Evangeline and the children’s pet turtle.
“She would always come close, hug me, sit next to me,” Gafur said of Evangeline. “They’re very quiet and very loving children. If I talk too much about this, I’ll cry. It’s too hard.”
Two years ago, Gafur said Jason Adotey, who he described as “very quiet,” stayed with him for three nights.
“He (Jason) said Cheryl put him out and took away all the credit cards,” Gafur said. “Well, I didn’t ask beyond that . . . I am old enough to know that you don’t come between families.”
The couple came from Ottawa, once lived in Australia, both have master’s degrees and once had government jobs, Gafur said.
After the twins were born, Cheryl became a stay-at-home home mom, Gafur said. He hasn’t spoken to the couple much lately and said he didn’t detect any issues.
Even neighbours who didn’t know them well described the Adoteys as a nice family with well-behaved kids who often played in the shared courtyard.
“I’m very, very shocked,” said Norm Wasserman, who has lived in the complex for more than six years. “We have no problems here whatsoever.”
Wasserman said he had seen the family frequently and knew them just to say hello. He said he had seen police cars at the home before, about three weeks prior to Monday’s incident.
A letter was sent home Tuesday from Beverly Glen informing parents that a student had died.
“It is with great sadness that we inform you that the incident resulted in the death of one of our students,” wrote Principal Morag Killackey in a letter about the incident. “Today has been a sombre day for all of us at our school as we mourn this tragic loss of a young life.”
Officers remained stationed at the hotel where paramedics had rushed Evangeline and the two others to hospital.
A receptionist said roughly 80 people were currently staying at the two-storey hotel Monday night, where some guests stay one night at a time and others have resided for months.
The Jeffrey Baldwin inquest jury heard dozens of recommendations on Tuesday to improve the child welfare system, with a focus on the importance of reporting child abuse and better information-sharing among children’s aid agencies.
The coroner’s inquest is looking into the death of 5-year-old Jeffrey, who died of starvation at the hands of his maternal grandparents in 2002. Weighing just 21 pounds when he died, Jeffrey spent his final years locked in a cold bedroom with one of his sisters. They had almost no access to food or a toilet. His sister barely managed to survive.
Elva Bottineau and Norman Kidman were convicted of second-degree murder in 2006, but the inquest was only able to begin last September after Bottineau had exhausted all of her appeals.
Jeffrey had been placed in his grandparents’ care along with his three siblings by the Catholic Children’s Aid Society, which has admitted it did not check its own files on Kidman or Bottineau, who had separate convictions for assault on their own children.
“Jeffrey Baldwin received far more attention after his death than he ever did in his life,” coroner’s counsel Jill Witkin told the four jurors, before reading 74 recommendations approved by some or all parties represented at the inquest.
They include a publicly funded campaign to remind people of their duty to report child abuse or neglect along with a dedicated 1-800 number to facilitate reporting, and adding information about abuse and neglect to the school curriculum from kindergarten to Grade 12.
The recommendations also call for better information-sharing among children’s aid societies, including a provincial database on individuals involved with the child welfare system that societies could access.
“This is not about assigning blame or responsibility for a death, but about why that death occurred,” said Witkin. “You are a privileged jury. You can not only help prevent a death, you can help prevent a child’s death.”
The jurors can accept or reject the recommendations, as well as present their own. Some of the parties proposed additional recommendations. The Provincial Children and Youth Advocate is urging the premier to call a public inquiry into the protection of children in Ontario.
The group’s lawyer, Suzan Fraser, said a key reason for the inquest was to honour Jeffrey, about whom she said we know little aside from the “superficial”: his curly hair and love for toy cars and Superman.
“We know of his exceptional bravery to have faced that woman right there,” said Fraser, pointing at Bottineau on a TV screen.
Bottineau has standing at the inquest and has been watching the proceedings from Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener. She presented a list of handwritten recommendations, calling on authorities in the child welfare system to be more “honest” and to “show compassion and understanding.”
“I really don’t want to say anything out of line, but if you need this to stop, this is the only way I can think of,” Bottineau said from prison.
A few of the lawyers, who at times wept during their presentations, made note of the fact that while the Ministry of Children and Youth Services is ultimately responsible for child welfare, the ministry chose not to seek standing at the inquest.
The minister, Teresa Piruzza, was unable to attend the closing submissions, said spokesman Neil Zacharjewicz, adding the ministry felt “the parties with standing were well positioned to present the relevant information and explore all issues.” He said the ministry has had representatives in the audience each day.
“We will consider all inquest recommendations seriously and will continue to do whatever we can to support and strengthen the child welfare system,” he said.
When Hercules Stergiou started senior kindergarten at Bowmore public school, principal Thelma Sambrook saw his parents hug him goodbye on the first day. She could sense their apprehension.
It was his first year in school and for Hercules, who has cerebral palsy, the transition was all that more difficult. But as the days and weeks went by, Sambrook realized the family was becoming more and more at ease.
“I had watched the emails all summer between my vice-principal and his family about his transitioning to the school,” said Sambrook. “It was easy to sense the anxiety and nerves of the family.”
But after that first day “I watched many more hugs and I saw a family appear more comfortable with the school learning environment and develop trust in us. And I saw a little boy continue to smile every day, who continued to embrace the experience, who loves learning and who loves being with his peers.”
And with his parents’ permission and the help of teacher and part-time photographer Patrick Murtaugh, she chronicled his kindergarten year in a book published by the board, with all proceeds going to the Hospital for Sick Children.
The story, written in his voice, shows Hercules at school, at home, with friends, at weekly physiotherapy and doctor’s appointments to get fitted for leg braces. (The 6-year-old also goes to Sick Kids every six months for Botox injections to help his leg muscles.)
In some photos, he is using his walker — which is covered in orange tiger-stripe tape — or walking alone, or hand-in-hand with other students.
Hercules uses the walker, but lately has been taking a number of steps on his own. Up until recently, Sambrook had only seen him take 10 steps alone, and cried recalling how she saw him make his way down a long hallway without his walker, which she estimated at about 150 steps.
At Tuesday’s book launch, Dad Dimitrios Stergiou said it was a struggle to find a school for his son, given the one across the street from their East York home is not accessible.
But Bowmore, about 10 minutes from their place, has proved to be a place his son can’t wait to get to each day.
“The first month we were wondering if he’d have a hard transition but he’d come back home smiling and wouldn’t complain,” said Stergiou. “The biggest worry was bullying and there was none of that. He was comfortable.
“I thought coming to school would make things more difficult for him — he’d see kids able to walk. But for him? He sees it as ‘I’m going to walk like them too.’ ”
All About Me – Hercules: My Year in Kindergarten is available at tdsb.on.ca for $10.
OTTAWA—The NDP is urging the Harper government to use the Feb. 11 budget to help consumers, tackle cities’ needs, and bring back a popular green renovation program.
Peggy Nash, the party’s finance critic, says Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s focus on deficit-reduction is wrong-headed at a time when unemployment is at 7.2 per cent and the economy is still operating below potential.
Flaherty has said that instead of bringing in new spending measures to stimulate growth, his 2014 economic blueprint will concentrate on tightening Ottawa’s purse strings to eliminate the Conservatives’ $17.9-billion budget deficit by 2015.
“The Conservatives are signalling it will be a do-nothing budget,” Nash told the Star. “If they are going to wait another year or more to do anything, they are really abandoning the unemployed and abandoning all the families that are feeling so squeezed economically.
“They have a responsibility to act on behalf of Canadians and not just position themselves for the next federal election.”
Harper is expected to call an election and has promised tax breaks once the budget is balanced.
The NDP says Ottawa should use its spending and tax powers to strengthen the economy and help the country’s 1.4 million unemployed find jobs.
The party’s budget requests, being made public Wednesday, include several measures to make life “more affordable” for Canadians. Nash said her party wants the government to transform its throne speech promises in October into action. The NDP would like to see a cap on ATM fees, a limit on credit card interest rates, a crackdown on payday lenders and an end to the practice of companies charging consumers for printed monthly bills.
The NDP wants corporate tax cuts, worth an estimated $10 billion annually to business, tied directly to job creation. And the NDP also favours enhancement of the small business hiring tax credit and the creation of a similar tax credit for companies that hire youths.
The popular ecoENERGY home retrofit program, which helped homeowners pay for energy improvements, should be reinstated, the NDP says.
Nash noted that Ottawa has committed to long-term spending to help cities build sewers, bridges, transport and other infrastructure. But she said the distribution of money under the Building Canada Fund doesn’t grow rapidly until 2017. It should be increased this year and next, the NDP says.
In another pre-budget release, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) released its annual “alternative” economic and fiscal strategy.
The CCPA, which is often critical of the government, says the current tax structure favours business and upper-income Canadians and should be reformed. It suggests a reversal of corporate income tax cuts, a new tax bracket for anyone making more than $250,000 annually and a carbon tax. The CCPA also favours a reduction in defence spending.
Through these and other fiscal measures, Ottawa would have the money to improve health care, bring in a national child-care plan, adequately address poverty, deal with immigrant problems and address a wide range of other social issues, the CCPA says.
The Harper government stresses that Canada weathered the 2008-09 recession better than many countries and, on job-creation and economic expansion, has outperformed other industrialized nations in recent years.
“It is important that we continue to build on our successes and remain focused on the drivers of growth and job creation — innovation, investment, education, skills and communities — underpinned by our commitment to lower taxes and returning to a balanced budget in 2015,” Flaherty said as he prepared this year’s budget.
The grandfather of Shakeil Boothe, the 10-year-old boy beaten, chained and starved to death in his Brampton home, said the boy’s father complained Shakeil was “giving him problems.”
Burke Boodthe took the stand Tuesday. It was he who pulled back the bedsheets on May 27, 2011, to discover Shakeil lifeless, his body bruised and stiff.
“Something cold just ran down my back,” Boodthe, a former Jamaican police officer, told the court. “I could tell he was lifeless.”
He then told his son to call 911, Boodthe said.
Garfield Boothe, 34, and Nichelle Boothe-Rowe, Shakeil’s stepmother, are charged with second-degree murder. They both pleaded not guilty.
Shakeil’s behaviour had become a problem in the house, Boodthe said. He had no idea his grandson was dead when he was called to the house.
Boothe’s defence lawyer, John Rosen, argued that Boodthe had lied to police and was, in fact, responsible for cleaning up the crime scene before police arrived to investigate.
“As an ex-police officer, a security man, would you have any idea how to clean up at a crime scene and stage the death of a little boy?” Rosen asked.
Silence fell over the courtroom for 10 long seconds.
“You’re something else,” Boodthe finally said, looking to the glass-enclosed prisoners’ box. “Garfield should come up and speak the truth.”
Rosen also questioned the grandfather’s mixed testimony. Boodthe first told police he saw Shakeil “over a year ago,” but later at a birthday party in March, two months before his death.
Boodthe claimed he was still in shock when police interviewed him hours after finding Shakeil’s body.
A Crown prosecutor previously told the court that Boothe-Rowe fled Canada with her 2-year-old baby on May 26, the day she found Shakeil’s lifeless body.
Boothe-Rowe was arrested at the Peace Bridge in Fort Erie on May 30.
Hours after Shakeil was found, Boothe-Rowe took a bus to the U.S. with her baby, the accused woman apparently told CAS. She hoped to find a family member to take her baby, Crown prosecutor Kelly Slate said.
“Once she was safely in the United States they would then call 911,” Slate said.
Photos of Shakeil’s body were projected on a courtroom screen Tuesday. In all 13 pictures — close-ups of Shakeil’s legs, arms, neck — a police detective found evidence of bruises, cuts and old scars.
Shakeil was chained to his bed every day while his father was at work, the Crown alleged. Boothe-Rowe would sometimes unchain him while the father was away, but Shakeil was told to lock himself back up before Boothe came home, Slate said.
The trial continues.
The Toronto Star, along with several other media organizations, applied to unseal search warrants and information used to obtain them in connection with a January search of homes that belong to members of the ultra-orthodox Lev Tahor community.
Homes in Chatham, Ont., and Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Que., were searched in January by Quebec police. In Chatham, floorboards were removed as police spent hours searching the homes. Authorities in Quebec and Chatham have refused to disclose any information about the search warrants as they are under a sealing order. The Star and others are fighting that order in the public interest.
“The Supreme Court has decided time and time again that these proceedings are presumed to be public,” said Sébastien Pierre-Roy, a lawyer with the Quebec-based Chenette Litigation Boutique Inc. and lead counsel representing the group of media outlets.
The application notes that the media outlets provide “coast-to-coast reporting on matters of public interest” and notes the broad coverage of the Lev Tahor community. It says the onus is on the court to justify the order, not on the media to justify its right to access the information.
“Such proceedings are presumed to be public unless strong evidence is entered into the record to convince a judge that there’s a necessity to keep it sealed from public view,” said Pierre-Roy.
About 200 members of the controversial sect fled Quebec for Chatham ahead of a child protection order calling for the removal of 14 children. An Ontario court judge upheld that order this week, with a 30-day grace period for appeal. One child, who is 17 and also a mother, will not be subject to the Ontario order.
Quebec child protection authorities have documented what they say is evidence of abuse, neglect and a sub-standard education regime within the community. The province’s child protection authority had concerns about underage marriages and feared a mass suicide among the group.
A sect leader, Nachman Helbrans, suggested that the raids may have been an attempt to find evidence of illegal child marriages.
“The timing may be connected to our advice to the (Children’s Aid Society) that after six months of humiliating investigation of the innocent mothers, boys and girls, it is time to draw (a) conclusion rather than paralyzing the innocent families,” he told the Star earlier.
The application calls on the Quebec court, which issued the warrant, to make the information that led to the search warrant public. It also requests a list of seized property.
The motion, which could take months to address, will first be heard in Quebec court Feb. 7.
With files from Star archives
MONTREAL—Kesa Van Osch’s British Columbia team feels good now about their choice of veteran Patti Knezevic to serve as alternate at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
With Van Osch out with a flu bug that has been rampaging through the tournament, Knezevic stepped in to lead B.C. (4-3) to a pair of victories on Tuesday before 1,131 at the Maurice Richard Arena.
B.C. downed Allison Flaxey’s Ontario (1-4) team 7-3 in the morning draw and then saw Knezevic draw to the button with her final stone to beat Sarah Koltun (1-5) of Yukon in the afternoon.
“We wanted someone with a lot of experience as our fifth player because we’ve watched the Scotties for years and this happens (often) that the flu goes around,” said B.C. third Stephanie Baier. “We wanted someone who could come in at any position so we wouldn’t have to shuffle around and we’d stay at our comfort level.”
The illness kept six players out of the morning draw, when Saskatchewan’s Stefanie Lawton (4-1) downed Quebec (1-6) 8-4 with only three players on her team.
Van Osch was the lone player missing in the afternoon, but then her lead Carley Sandwith had to quit after two ends, leaving them with only three.
Quebec was missing second Brittany O’Rourke in the morning. They got her back for the afternoon session, only to see her leave again after eight ends.
“She threw up in the third and the sixth ends, and finally got off the ice,” Ross said of her teammate. “We’re in contamination mode.”
Heather Smith and Nova Scotia (2-4), whose coach Peter Gallant was off sick, downed Quebec (1-6) by 10-5, while a battle of healthy squads saw Alberta’s Val Sweeting (5-2) top P.E.I.’s Kim Dolan (2-4) by 8-5. New Brunswick’s Andrea Crawford (3-3) put up an 8-6 win over Newfoundland’s Heather Strong (4-3).
The last time a Scotties was disrupted by a flu bug was in 2012 in Red Deer, Alta. This time, the sickness is striking players, coaches and officials at random with an illness that seems to last about 24 hours.
B.C.’s young squad from Victoria looked to be in trouble when they started the tournament at 2-3 and it only looked worse when Van Osch went down.
But gritty work by a relatively healthy Baier and second Jessie Sanderson and Knezevic’s steady hand put the team back in the hunt for a playoff spot.
When Team Van Osch won the B.C. provincial championships last month to earn their first trip to the Scotties, they immediately asked Knezevic to be their fifth player.
“It was an unexpected call, for sure,” said Knezevic, who made it to the B.C. final three times but had never got to the Scotties. “I was very honoured.
“I was just hoping that I could bring a bit of experience and support and be able to step in if needed.”
Baier said that if Van Osch is able to play Wednesday she will return as the skip and that Knezevic would go back to being the alternate. If Sandwith can’t play, Knezevic will play lead.
“We decided as a team that I would play wherever a player stepped out, so no situation would be a surprise to us,” Knezevic said. “We knew going in that Carley was not well and she’d give it her best shot. Then we just had to make the transition. The girls have been great. We were trying to be as positive as we could and work together with what we had. I think that was the ticket.”
When a team has only three players, the first two throw three stones each and the skip throws two. It means that most of time, only one player can sweep.
It wasn’t easy for B.C., as 20-year-old Koltun scored two in the ninth to take a 7-6 lead, then left Knezevic with a tricky draw for two in the 10th. Baier jumped in at the end to help Sanderson in some furious sweeping to get the winning rock to the button.
Saskatchewan was in the same boat when second Sherri Singler and third Sherry Anderson were unable to play.
Lawton got an early morning call from coach Rick Folk to say that Singler was sick, and later learned Anderson was down as well.
“You plan for the worst, but this scenario of having two players out didn’t come up, so we just had to go with it,” said Lawton. “The girls jumped right in and felt comfortable with the positions they were thrown into.”
Marliese Kasner moved up from lead to play third, while alternate Dailene Sivertson stepped in to lead and do most of the sweeping.
“The girls did a great job,” said Lawton. “It’s different when you only have one sweeper.
“You want to give it a bit more so they don’t have to work too hard, but we managed to pull through and come through with a win. The girls played great in positions they’re not used to.”
Kasner said she played third on Lawton’s teams at the 2005 and 2009 Scotties, so it was a quick adjustment.
“It was different,” she said. “We knew there would be just one sweeper so we joked that the second sweeper doesn’t do much anyhow. We threw like we would in any other game and didn’t think about having one less sweeper. We just went shot by shot.”
A nervy moment came in the seventh end, when Lawton made a clever draw into three Quebec stones to prevent a steal.
In other morning matches, Canada improved to 5-0 as Rachel Homan’s Ottawa rink downed Alberta 10-5. Canada’s alternate Stephanie LeDrew was out sick. Manitoba’s Chelsea Carey (4-1) put up a 5-3 win over Newfoundland.
The third draw of the day was set for Tuesday evening.
Ontario Ombudsman André Marin says long-suffering Hydro One customers are victims of “egregious errors and baffling bills” inflicted on them by an uncaring Crown corporation.
Marin announced Tuesday he is launching an investigation into Hydro One’s billing practices that result in cases of customers being billed thousands of dollars for unclear reasons.
“(There) are stories of huge unexplained catch-up bills, multiple bills or estimated bills with no rhyme or reason. And when customers try to get answers from Hydro One they are stymied just as my office has often been stymied when we intervened,” Marin told a Queen’s Park news conference.
“With Hydro One . . . we feel we get the runaround. Sometimes it’s like wrestling with a slippery pig and that’s why my heart goes out to those average citizens that try to take on the Goliath that is Hydro One,” he said.
Hydro One spokesperson Tiziana Baccega Rosa, acknowledged the level of service — the result of a $153.7-million customer system changeover in May — is “unacceptable.”
“We know we need to fix the mess and those plans are in place,” she said.
Hydro One is Ontario’s largest electricity company with about 1.3 million customers.
Jim and Lynn Ellis from Southgate Township, near Shelburne told the Star they know exactly what Marin is talking about.
After complaining in May about not getting bills, more than six months later they received a notice that they owed $3,477.57, due by Dec. 3. Two weeks later another arrived for $1,097.27.
Jim Ellis said his normal bill is $200 to $300 a month.
“I don’t think we were treated very well by the system at all,” he said, noting that whenever he tried to get answers he would have to deal with a different person at the Hydro One call centre.
Ellis said a Hydro One executive, who finally called at one point to apologize, told him there were “tens of thousands (of customers) in the same boat.”
“I’m angry that it’s a monopoly and you can’t seem to get (anywhere) with it,” he said.
“If there was an alternative, we’d be checking it out.”
Marin noted that complaints about Hydro One to his office have more than doubled since the fiscal year 2011-2012 when 232 complaints were received, which then grew to 328 in 2012-2013 and jumped to 600 between April 1, 2013 and now.
“This all points to a systemic problem that warrants an in-depth investigation by my special ombudsman’s response team,” he said, noting that the probe should take about nine months.
Toronto resident Jim MacLean, who owns a cottage north of Huntsville, said Hydro One installed a smart metre two years ago at his cottage and the provincially-owned utility has never once used it because there is no reliable cell connection.
“Why would they even put them in if they can’t use it,” he said, noting that he keep getting bills “estimating” what his power consumption is.
Baccega Rosa acknowledged there “are areas where the meters can’t communicate — the actual infrastructure is just not there” but insists Hydro One hopes to eventually hook them up.
She said that of Hydro One’s customers, 3.2 per cent are still receiving frequent estimated bills. Another 2 per cent haven’t received any bill at all for more then 90 days.
Marin said part of his office investigation is to look at the transparency and reliability of the billing system.
“We are hearing from the public that they are quite prepared to be socially re-engineered as electrical trained seals doing their laundry at certain times to avoid excessive billing but on the other hand they want to be able to understand their billing, they want accuracy in their billing,” he said.
The ombudsman said a common complaint from customers is that they don’t get bills for months and months and “suddenly because they have direct withdrawal from the bank account, they wake up and their bank account is depleted and into their overdraft by $10,000, $20,000 . . . and then they can’t get through to Hydro One.”
And he said then there are the customers who have that much money “skimmed” off their bank account by error. “And in that case Hydro One will simply say ‘we can’t return the money, we will simply give you a future credit.’”
Baccega Rosa disputed that assertion, saying the provincial utility will refund the money and any related overdraft bank charges.
Marin said the whole thing is leaving a “bad taste in the mouths of the citizens of Ontario and that why we are going to look at those two issues.”
He described Hydro One’s response to questions from his office as “anemic.”
“We will be looking at whether that culture of public service is there at Hydro One or not and taking it from there.”
SUNRISE, FLA.—There were a bunch of Maple Leafs pretty happy they didn’t have to take a long car ride home with dad after this one.
Their fathers were all there at the BB&T Center, part of the annual father-and-son trip most teams do now, but there was a team bus after a thoroughly awful team effort in an embarrassing 4-1 loss to the Florida Panthers, one of the Eastern Conference’s weaker squads.
So at least they got to face their dads as a group.
They did, on the other hand, have to face head coach Randy Carlyle, who had to have steam coming out of his ears from the first minute of the game onwards as his club, one of the NHL’s hottest outfits of late, simply never showed up for this one.
Perplexing, really. This was a really good opportunity for the Leafs to build on all their good efforts of late, but they spent the first three minutes — and much of the rest of the game — stuck in their own end.
For the 17th time this season, the Leafs surrendered more than 40 shots. Lucky for them they were playing the punchless Panthers, the NHL’s 27th best offence, or this one could have gone the way of ugly defeats to the Rangers and Stars last month.
It wasn’t until there were only about 12 minutes remaining in regulation that the visitors really started to play at all, but by then they were already trailing 2-0. They’d fought back from that same deficit against the same Florida team last week, but not this time.
Carlyle’s squad didn’t have much drive at all on the night, and didn’t draw a single Florida minor penalty on the evening.
At least David Clarkson, back for another attempt to get his rotten season rolling, was able to get on the board with his fourth of the season, which cut the Florida lead to 2-1 with 10:29 to play.
But that, and Jonathan Bernier’s stellar performance, was about it for good news out of the Toronto dressing room.
The Leafs flew to Tampa after the game for a game against the Lightning on Thursday.
Clarkson returned to the Leaf lineup for the first time since mid-January after missing a slate of games with a left elbow injury. To accommodate his return, Carter Ashton was placed on injured reserve, and Frazer McLaren found himself a healthy scratch.
Dion Phaneuf was hit in the corner of the Leaf zone late in the first period by Sean Bergenheim and appeared to be favouring his left arm as he went immediately to the dressing room. The Leaf captain was watching Aleksander Barkov as he cleared the puck up the boards and wasn’t aware of Bergenheim’s presence until the veteran winger hit him hard with a stiff shoulder check.
His absence was felt immediately in the second period. He wasn’t in his usual penalty killing spot beside Carl Gunnarsson when the Panthers scored the first goal of the game, with Clarkson off for a very marginal slashing call.
With Scottie Upshall providing a perfect screen in front, Tom Gilbert’s rising shot beat Bernier on the glove side. Shortly thereafter, Phaneuf did return to the game.
A few moments later, Bernier stopped Jonathan Huberdeau on a two-on-oh break, at which point the shots were 26-6 for the home team.
The Leafs, of course, have played this rope-a-dope game all season, and it looked like an ailing James van Riemsdyk was going to tie the game just past the four-minute mark off a feed from Tyler Bozak, but Tim Thomas came up with an aggressive save.
Van Riemsdyk, so sick with the flu on Monday they wouldn’t let him accompany the team on the charter, arrived on an early flight Tuesday morning. He had two more good chances in the second, with the first foiled by 37-year-old Ed Jovanovski and the second by 18-year-old freshman Barkov.
The Panthers crossed the 40-shot barrier early in the third period, but the Leafs were still within a shot of tying a game they had no business being close in. Instead, at 5:21, Scott Gomez dropped the puck to Brian Campbell cruising into the Leaf zone, and Campbell’s rising wrist shot beat a screened Bernier just under the crossbar for a 2-0 Florida lead.
A minute later, the Panthers celebrated a goal they thought they’d scored, but replays clearly showed the puck hit the crossbar and stayed out. That mattered a little more when Clarkson scored after Nazem Kadri stripped Tomas Kopecky at the Florida blue line and fed the hard-luck Leaf winger, who beat Thomas with a wrist shot.
But Cody Franson gave the puck away to Shawn Matthias in the neutral zone a few minutes later, and Matthias buried a wrist shot at 13:22 on Florida’s 46th shot of the night.
The plan for Wednesday was a quick morning practice, and then golf and fishing in the afternoon for fathers and their sons.
After that awful effort in South Florida on Tuesday night, nobody — including the dads — would blame Carlyle if he decides a full work day is a better idea.
A man was left without vital signs after being shot multiple times Tuesday night.
Toronto EMS said paramedics attended to the man shortly after 9:20 p.m. near Yonge St. and Lawrence Ave.
The man was found outside a building north of Lawrence Ave., and was transported to a nearby trauma centre, EMS said.
Toronto Police Service confirmed that they were investigating the shooting, but were not able to provide details Tuesday night.