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Published: Wed, 28 Jun 2017 19:10:30 EDT

Last Build Date: Wed, 28 Jun 2017 19:10:30 EDT

Copyright: Copyright Toronto Star 1996-2013 ,

Toronto waterfront receives $1.25 billion to clean up and protect the Port Lands

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 17:04:09 EDT

The three levels of governments will spend $1.25 billion over seven years to clean up Toronto’s Port Lands, considered one of North America’s largest under-used and under-developed urban areas.The funding will flood-proof the southeastern downtown area, making possible the long-sought after dream of transforming the polluted, industrial area into a mixed-use community surrounded by parks and green space. “This project will create a better quality of life for the people of Toronto,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said standing on a raised podium on Polson St. with the city skyline — and flooded Toronto Islands — as a backdrop.He was joined by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, Mayor John Tory and Will Fleissig, CEO of Waterfront Toronto, the agency in charge of overseeing the renewal of the waterfront.The federal government is kicking in up to $384 million for the project. The province and city will each contribute more than $400 million. “By doing this work, we’re unlocking the potential of this amazing piece of land to build a community where people will live, where they’ll work, where they’ll shop, where they’ll play and where the land will be healthier,” Wynne said.The project will also be another step in restoring the Don River, “one of Toronto’s natural treasures,” she added. She noted the location of the news conference, on a helicopter pad next to a parking lot, was once Ontario’s largest wetland.But about 100 years ago, as the Don Valley became heavily industrialized, the river was re-routed to enter the lake into a concrete channel, Wynne said. The project will create a new mouth for the Don between the Ship Channel and Keating Channel.“Now, as part of this project, the mouth of the river will be turned back into a natural valley and I think that is awesome — to rip up a parking lot and create a wetland, to create a green space,” Wynne said.The three leaders all emphasized that the co-operation demonstrates what happens when different orders of government sit down and work together.Mayor John Tory said the project will prime the investment pump, lead to the creation of a new transit hub and allow for the building of new communities, including those with affordable housing units.The project will also mitigate the impact of climate change on the city, Tory added.“It took a long time to get here but we’re here doing something important,” he said.“While it’s not always popular to say so, Canada as a whole, not just Toronto, will benefit from the investment and the thousands of jobs which will come about because of today’s sensible, necessary investment.”John Wilson, who chaired a now-defunct city council advisory committee on the Don River, was all smiles after attending Wednesday’s announcement. He called it a culmination of decades of work.“I can retire happy now,” Wilson said. “The whole area has just been underappreciated, it’s been trashed, it’s been misused and abused and people like me, we love our waterfront, and we love our river. This is turning a corner.”The transformation will take a lot of work and investment but “for the future of our city, this is where the future of the city is.” Toronto Mayor John Tory, left, and PM Justin Trudeau applaud Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne's words concerning the development of Toronto's Port Lands on June 28, 2017.[...]An artist rendering looking northwest at the restored and naturalized mouth of the Don River.An artist rendering looking west across a restored Keating Channel.

Media Files:

Presto’s TTC installation to cost $385 million

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 06:00:00 EDT

Installing the Presto fare card system on the TTC is expected to cost the province 50 per cent more than originally estimated, with the budget ballooning to $385 million.The new figure, which was provided by the provincial transportation minister’s office and is expected to be discussed at a Metrolinx board meeting on Wednesday, is $130 million greater than a 2012 estimate of $255 million.The additional cost helps push the province’s total anticipated spending on Presto infrastructure across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) and Ottawa to $916.2 million over roughly a decade.Asked in an interview why equipping the TTC with the fare card system has gone so far over budget, Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca said the original estimate was produced before Metrolinx, the provincial transit agency for the GTHA, had signed a formal agreement with the TTC for the Presto program. Over the course of hammering out the deal and implementing the program, Metrolinx discovered “some additional complexities” that led to increased costs, Del Duca said. “We’re always cognizant that we’re investing taxpayers’ dollars wisely and effectively,” said Del Duca, the Liberal MPP for Vaughan. “From my perspective, the most important thing is that we continue to deploy this successfully on the TTC, so that customers … have that reliability and that accessibility that they need to make their commute easier and more straightforward.” New Democrat MPP Cheri DiNovo, the party’s urban transit critic, called the cost overrun “shocking” and described Metrolinx as a “rogue agency” that racks up bills at the public’s expense while being opaque about its finances. “The concern is that they seem as if they answer to no one, except the Liberal cabinet,” said DiNovo, who represents Parkdale—High Park.She argued that “the books need to be opened for that agency.”“Ultimately, the buck stops at Steven Del Duca. And he needs to be held responsible for the errors of Metrolinx,” DiNovo said.As one example of the project’s unforeseen complexities, Del Duca stated that Metrolinx needed to deploy Presto readers on more of the TTC’s old-model “legacy” streetcars than expected, as a result of Bombardier’s failure to deliver a fleet of new vehicles on time.The TTC pushed back against that assertion Tuesday, with a spokesperson saying it’s the agency’s position that the majority of the costs Metrolinx has incurred were within the original scope of the project.The TTC and Metrolinx entered into a master agreement for Presto in November 2012. The system allows transit users to pay for their trips by tapping prepaid fare cards on readers located on transit vehicles and in stations. It will eventually replace older forms of payment on the TTC, and is currently available on 10 transit services within the GTHA, including the TTC, GO Transit, Mississauga’s MiWay, and the Union Pearson Express. It’s also used on Ottawa’s OC Transpo.Presto’s deployment on the TTC has not been totally smooth: card readers and other devices suffered persistent technical problems last year. Metrolinx says the issues have mostly been rectified. Michael Harris, transportation critic for the Progressive Conservatives, questioned how a system that cost so much could have so many significant problems.“We don’t even have a perfect system and we paid 50 per cent more, $130 million more. For what?” asked Harris, MPP for Kitchener-Conestoga. “Only a project ultimately overseen by (Premier) Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals … could see a project go over by 50 per cent.” Despite the cost increases, Minister Del Duca described the Presto program as an operational success. He noted that more than 2.8 million people now use the fare card in all of its jurisdictio[...]

Media Files:

This teen leaped to her death after her bungee instructor said ‘no jump.’ Now he could face charges for his bad English

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 12:41:38 EDT

Vera Mol, a 17-year-old from the Netherlands, was standing on a 40-metre-high bridge on Spain’s northern coast, bracing for her first bungee jump.It was 8:30 p.m., and she was the last in a group of 13 teenagers to go, when the instructor gave a command.“No jump, it’s important, no jump,” he said in English, according to court documents. But Mol, apparently misunderstanding his pronunciation, heard, “Now jump.” She threw herself from the ledge — and plunged to her death. The harness she was wearing had not yet been secured to the bridge.This month, an appeals court in Cantabria, in northern Spain, upheld a ruling that the instructor for Aqua21 Aventura, the company that had organized the bungee jump in August 2015, could face criminal charges, including accidental homicide, should prosecutors decide to proceed with the case.The company appealed last year, arguing that the teenager had jumped prematurely, and that her death was an accident.In its ruling, the appeals court said that the instructor, who has not been publicly identified, had spoken in broken English, and it blamed his linguistic shortcomings in part for Mol’s death.The instructor should have said, “Don’t jump,” the court said. The ruling added that the instructor’s English had not been sufficient to instruct foreigners in “something as precarious as jumping into the void from an elevated point.”The court said the misunderstanding was the result of “the incorrect use and pronunciation of English,” noting that the instructor had acknowledged that he spoke the language only at a basic level.At the time of the accident, the local authorities for the village of Cabezon de la Sal in Cantabria, near where Mol died, told the newspaper El Pais that the bridge was “extremely risky,” that tour operators had no right to use it for bungee jumping, and that they had not known that such activities were taking place.In its ruling, issued on June 7 but made public only recently, the court also took the company to task for failing to determine whether the victim was underage and therefore also failing to get the necessary consent from Mol’s parents.The court also found that the company did not have the proper security measures in place and did not have a permit to allow bungee jumping from the spot where the teenager plunged to her death.The group of teenagers had waited “on the edge of the abyss,” the court said.Flowtrack, a company based in Belgium that organized the students’ trip to Spain and that hired Aqua21 Aventura to handle the excursion where the bungee jump took place, said the Spanish company had failed to abide by regulations.Reached by phone, Aqua21 Aventura said it had no comment. The man who answered, who declined to give his name, said it was “ridiculous that an international newspaper is interested in this story.”The first bungee jump using modern equipment took place on April 1, 1979, when a group of Oxford University students, who were members of the Dangerous Sports Club, jumped from the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol, in the southwest of England.One of the students, David Kirke, wearing a top hat and tails, jumped with a glass of champagne in hand. The students were immediately arrested. But they helped to spread the activity globally, and eventually also jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.Injuries from bungee jumping have included rope burn, dislocations, eye damage and trauma. Accidents can occur, among other things, if the cord is too long or the jumper is not properly secured. [...]A Facebook picture of Vera Mol.

Media Files:

Low interest rates have ‘done their job,’ Bank of Canada governor says

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 13:45:05 EDT


OTTAWA—With the Bank of Canada nearing its next policy decision, governor Stephen Poloz is reiterating the message that his 2015 interest-rate cuts appear to have done their job.

Poloz said in an interview broadcast on business news channel CNBC that the Canadian economy enjoyed “surprisingly” strong growth in the first three months of 2017 and he expected the pace to stay above potential.

The comments fed speculation about a Bank of Canada rate hike as early as its next scheduled announcement in two weeks. If the central bank increases its key rate, the big Canadian banks will raise their prime rates, driving up the cost of variable rate mortgages, other loans and lines of credit tied to the benchmark rate.

Poloz credited the two rate cuts introduced by the bank in 2015 for helping the economy counteract the effects of the oil-price slump, which began in late 2014. The reductions also helped increase the speed of the adjustment, Poloz added.

“It does look as though those cuts have done their job,” said Poloz, who was in Portugal on Wednesday to participate in a forum hosted by the European Central Bank.

“But we’re just approaching a new interest rate decision so I don’t want to prejudge. But certainly we need to be at least considering that whole situation now that the capacity, excess capacity, is being used up steadily.”

More “hawkish” statements in recent weeks by Poloz and the bank’s senior deputy governor, Carolyn Wilkins, have suggested the bank is moving closer to its first rate increase in nearly seven years.

A softer-than-expected inflation report last Friday led some analysts to believe the bank might wait until the fall or later before introducing a rate increase.

But economists interpreted Poloz’s latest remarks Wednesday as a signal the bank may even hike the benchmark as early as its next announcement on July 12.

“He’s not going to give it away, but that’s a pretty solid signal that a July rate hike is very much on the table,” BMO chief economist Doug Porter wrote in a research note to clients.

Porter added that Poloz’s comments also indicate the governor is “comfortable” with oil in its current range of USD$40 to USD$50 per barrel.

Desjardins senior economist Jimmy Jean wrote: “This does not sound like a central banker who was profoundly shaken by the weaker-than-expected (consumer price index) numbers of last Friday.”

The bank lowered its rate twice in 2015 to the very low level of 0.5 per cent to help offset the effects of the oil-price shock.

Poloz said the drop in oil prices set Canada’s economy back — causing the central bank to compensate by lowering interest rates — but that growth has rebounded with an “encouraging” pace in recent months.

While he said he expects growth to moderate to a more normal level, he predicted it would remain “above potential.”

Poloz, who participated in a panel with Bank of England governor Mark Carney, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi and Bank of Japan governor Haruhiko Kuroda, also said virtually every major area of the world seems to be gaining economic momentum — with the United States “way out in front.”

Statements in recent weeks by Stephen Poloz, governor of the Bank of Canada, above, and the bank's senior depute governor, Carolyn Wilkins, have suggested the bank is moving closer to its first rate increase in nearly seven years.

Media Files:

Police searching for suspect in alleged sexual assault on TTC bus

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 17:28:28 EDT


Toronto police are trying to track down a man who allegedly sexually assaulted a woman on a city bus.

Investigators say the incident occurred on Tuesday night as the woman was riding a Toronto Transit Commission bus on Dufferin Street near Eglinton Avenue West.

It’s alleged the man stood beside her on the bus and sexually assaulted her.

Police say the suspect got off the bus at Dufferin station and took the subway going east about 20 minutes later.

The suspect is described as in his 20s, about five-foot-six with a slim build and a moustache.

Police have released a security image of the man and are asking the public for assistance in identifying the suspect.

Police have released a security image of the man and are asking the public for assistance in identifying the suspect.

Media Files:

Conditional discharge, community service for Blue Jays can tosser Ken Pagan

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 13:33:40 EDT

A Rogers Centre spectator who threw a beer can onto the field during a Blue Jays’ playoff game last fall has been spared a criminal record, if he complies with terms of his 12-month probation.Justice Robert Bigelow told Old City Hall court on Wednesday that former journalist Ken Pagan has already lost his job and suffered public humiliation after narrowly missing Baltimore Orioles outfielder Hyun Soo Kim with the tin on Oct. 4, 2016.Bigelow agreed with Pagan’s lawyer, Tyler Smith, that, “other than for a few seconds... [Pagan] has been a significantly contributing member of our society.”“He has suffered humiliation, harassment as a result of this incident,” the judge continued.Pagan’s voice gently trembled as he spoke of his love for baseball and apologized to the Blue Jays, Orioles, Kim, the city, and his family, friends and former colleagues.“I would first like to say how fortunate I am that nobody was injured in this incident and that the game was able to continue,” said Pagan, a former Postmedia sports copy editor, in a slightly trembling voice.“I do realize how lucky I am and the situation could have been worse,” said Pagan, who wore a white dress shirt and dark blue tie.“I have been a passionate baseball fan since getting hooked as an eight-year-old in the summer of 1983 and I am fully aware of the disgrace I brought to the game and the embarrassment this caused, particularly to the Toronto Blue Jays organization and the great fans of Toronto,” Pagan said.Court heard that Pagan lost his job as a result of the incident.Since then, he has delivered pizzas and worked as a janitor and has become a janitorial supervisor.Smith said that the publicity around the incident means Pagan may never get back into journalism.Pagan was given a conditional discharge, which means he will be spared a criminal record if he complies with his 12-month probation.The Crown had sought a criminal conviction, arguing it was needed to send a message of public deterrence.Under terms of his probation, Pagan must perform at least 10 hours of community service a month.He is also barred from attending any Major League Baseball games. The Blue Jays have already banned him from the Rogers Centre.The judge ordered Pagan to do 200 hours of community work, but noted that he has already done 100 hours this year.Court heard that Pagan is a longtime volunteer with youth in amateur sports. Smith argued that a criminal record could block Pagan from continuing as a sports volunteer.Pagan plead guilty last month to a charge of mischief under $5,000.Assistant Crown Attorney Rebecca Edward argued that a strong message and criminal conviction was needed to prevent similar incidents.“This is unsportmanslike and definitely non-Canadian,” Edward told court.“A lot of people were embarrassed by this behaviour... concerned that this reflected badly upon us,” Edward said.Pagan said he began drafting his apology the day after tossing the beer tin.“I am truly sorry and I am working to be the best person that I can be,” Pagan told court.In town for a game against the Blue Jays, Orioles outfielder Kim told reporters at the Rogers Centre through a translator that he has received and read the apology letter from Pagan.“I accept his apology. People make mistakes. I’m sure it’s not going to happen again,” he said.Because of the incident, the Jays’ stopped selling beer in tins for the remainder of last season.Smith suggested Pagan wasn’t the only one to blame in the incident.“Without a doubt, Mr. Pagan and many others that day were over-served,” Smith said. [...]Ken Pagan leaves Old City Hall court after being sentenced for mischief, June 28, 2017.Baltimore Orioles' Hyun Soo Kim gets under a fly ball as a beer can [...]

Media Files:

‘I bet she treats you well’: Trump interrupts call to compliment Irish reporter’s ‘nice smile’

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 15:31:04 EDT

U.S. President Donald Trump was at his desk in the Oval Office and on the phone with the new prime minister of Ireland on Tuesday when a journalist for an Irish news organization caught his eye.“Well, we have a lot of your Irish press watching us,” Trump said to the prime minister, Leo Varadkar, as several reporters looked on.Then, interrupting his conversation with Varadkar, Trump pointed at the journalist, Caitriona Perry, and gestured for her to come to him.Read the latest news on U.S. President Donald Trump“And where are you from?” he said. “Go ahead. Come here, come here. Where are you from? We have all of this beautiful Irish press.”After she introduced herself, Trump told Varadkar, “She has a nice smile on her face so I bet she treats you well.”The exchange, which was captured on video and widely shared on social media, drew criticism about how Trump treats women and the message it sent about the attitude toward women as professionals in their fields.Elisa Lees Munoz, executive director of the International Women’s Media Foundation, said on Wednesday that she had heard about the episode in passing.After a transcript of the exchange was read to her over the phone, she said: “Oh, Lord. I wish I could say this is a surprise.”She said such occurrences were not limited to Trump, adding that female journalists are frequently called out for their appearance, their hair and the way they dress.Comments like the president’s detract from a woman’s value as a professional, she said.“We absolutely do not see that happening with male reporters,” she said. “I don’t know what the solution to this is. It does need to be called out. It does need to stop.”Kris Macomber, an assistant professor of sociology at Meredith College in Raleigh, North Carolina, said in an email that Trump’s comments reflect “textbook paternalistic sexism,” which is often couched in a “‘playful’ tone, as if she should feel flattered.”“Donald Trump’s track record for sexist remarks is well documented, and this particular case fits right in line with his previous remarks,” she wrote. “He didn’t say those things for Perry’s sake; rather he said those things to show all the people in the room (and the cameras) that he’s the kind of man who flirts with women he considers attractive.”Most notably, a month before the election, a 2005 recording surfaced of Trump talking to television personality Billy Bush of Access Hollywood and speaking in extraordinarily vulgar terms about women.In 2013, President Barack Obama apologized to Kamala Harris, who was then the attorney general of California and is now one of its senators, after telling a group of wealthy donors that she was “the best-looking attorney general in the country.” The comment drew accusations of sexism, which the White House at the time quickly sought to quiet.Perry, the Washington correspondent for Raidio Teilifis Eireann, could not be reached to comment on Wednesday. On Twitter, she posted a video of the exchange and described it as a “bizarre moment.”RTE had an article on its webpage under the entertainment category with the headline “Trump call! RTE’s Caitriona has Presidential moment.”Perry told RTE she expected to shoot footage from outside the window of the White House during the president’s call but that reporters were invited inside.“One minute we were outside the window and the next minute I’m meeting the president of the United States,” she said. “When we went in he was already on the phone but I must have caught his eye and he called me over.”The White House did not respond to an email requesting [...]

Media Files:

Ottawa urged to suspend refugee pact after U.S. court reinstates Trump’s travel ban

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 14:56:25 EDT

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court reinstating part of President Donald Trump’s travel ban, Canadian advocacy groups are calling on Ottawa to suspend a bilateral pact that bans refugees from seeking asylum in Canada if they’ve entered the country from the United States.“We are shocked and disappointed that the Canadian government continues to hold to the view that the U.S. is a safe partner for refugee protection,” said Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada.“That was not true before President Trump took office and it has become abundantly clear that his presidency is characterized by utter disregard for the safety and rights of refugees and migrants.”In a ruling Monday, America’s highest court gave the go-ahead for a 120-day ban on all refugee claimants entering the country who don’t have any “bona fide relationship” with an American individual or group.The court also granted a qualified permission for the White House to place a 90-day ban on visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, if they do not have credible connections in the U.S. The partial ban is expected to take effect as soon as Thursday.Those with a “bona fide relationship,” the court noted, include foreign nationals who wish to enter the U.S. to live with or visit family, students at American universities, employees of U.S. companies or visiting scholars.On Tuesday, Amnesty International and the Canadian Council for Refugees released a 52-page brief to Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale outlining the flaws of the U.S. asylum system and immigration detention regime that fail to meet international and Canadian standards.“While the U.S. asylum system has long suffered from significant failings, these deficiencies have been exacerbated under the Trump administration,” said the briefing.“Since assuming office, President Trump has taken steps to implement a number of policies likely to significantly erode already deficient protections for asylum seekers.”Introduced in 2004, the Safe Third Country Agreement, with limited exceptions, limits refugees to making an asylum claim in the first of the two countries they arrive in, in order to avoid duplicate asylum claims that would clog both systems.However, the agreement does not apply to those who cross “irregularly” at unguarded points along the border, a situation critics say encourages desperate asylum-seekers to risk their lives getting into Canada.A spokesperson for Hussen said the government hasn't changed it's stance on the U.S.-Canada pact.“Canada has carefully analyzed recent developments in the United States, including with respect to the recent Executive Orders related to border . . . and determined that the U.S. remains a safe country for asylum claimants,” wrote Bernie Derible in an email to the Star, noting the UN Refugee Agency shares that assessment.Between the time Trump took office in January and the end of May, Canada received 15,170 asylum claimants, according to the Canada Border Services Agency. Among the 5,620 claimants who came by land, some 3,461 were intercepted by the RCMP crossing illegally.Although the number of irregular border-crossers dropped slightly in May to 742 from the peak of 887 in March, the U.S. court decision could trigger another wave of refugees seeking asylum in Canada through the porous land border.To date, there has been one reported death among asylum-seekers risking their lives to cross the border. Mavis Otuteye, a 57-year-old Ghanaian, was found dead near Emerson, Man., in late May en route to Toronto to see her only daughter. The cause of death was hypothermia.“This agreement encourages desperate people to take desperate measures whi[...]

Media Files:

Free speech advocates shocked after Supreme Court orders Google to block websites of company accused of stealing trade secrets

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 10:15:57 EDT

OTTAWA— It’s a global ban that has stunned free speech advocates.The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled Google is barred from displaying anywhere in the world the websites of a company accused of counterfeiting a Canadian technology company’s products.The 7-2 ruling has broad implications for freedom of expression, the reach of courts to protect intellectual property and other rights, and for the operations of Internet-based businesses. In upholding a sweeping B.C. lower court injunction against Google’s ability to display commercial content that was at the heart of a court battle over trade secrets, the country’s top court may make Google a more powerful player in the information marketplace worldwide, said University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist.“The decision will ultimately grant Google more power, not less,” Geist wrote in an online analysis of the decision. “What happens if a Chinese court orders it to remove Taiwanese sites from the index? Or if an Iranian court orders it to remove gay and lesbian sites from the index? Since local content laws differ from country to country, there is a great likelihood of conflicts. That leaves two possible problematic outcomes: local courts deciding what others can access online or companies such as Google selectively deciding which rules they wish to follow. “The Supreme Court of Canada did not address the broader implications of the decision,” Geist said, content to base its reasoning on the need to address the commercial harm sustained by a Canadian company, the limited burden on Google, and the ease with which any global takedown order could be adjusted if Google could bring back evidence an order violated another country’s laws.In the end, the ruling “invites more global takedowns without requiring those seeking takedowns to identify potential conflicts or assess the implications in other countries,” he said.It’s the second hard-hitting ruling against Google in two days. On Tuesday, European authorities hammered Google for using its dominance in online searches to direct customers to its own businesses and fined the tech giant about $3.6 billion Canadian.On Wednesday, Google said little in response to the Canadian high court ruling.“We are carefully reviewing the court’s findings and evaluating our next steps,” said Google spokesman Aaron Brindle.The judgment is the “first global de-indexing order” and will be “extremely important” worldwide because it gives a remedy against third-parties such as Google or Internet service providers who are the “gatekeepers” of information, said McCarthy Tetreault lawyer Barry Sookman, who intervened on behalf of six groups representing music composers and publishers.Other intervenors were dismayed by the ruling.Dinah PoKempner, general counsel of Human Rights Watch, warned the Supreme Court “put access to information at risk by trying to enforce Canadian law in every country on Earth.”“Other countries may soon follow this example, in ways that more obviously force Google to become the world’s censor. If every country tries to enforce its own idea of what is proper to put on the Internet globally, we will soon have a race to the bottom where human rights will be the loser.”Wednesday’s ruling involved Equustek Solutions Inc., a Vancouver-based manufacturer of networking devices that allow complex industrial equipment made by one manufacturer to communicate with the equipment of another, a kind of inter-linking technology. In 2011 it got into a messy dispute when its distributor, Datalink Technologies Gateways Inc., headed by Morgan Jack, began to re-label one of the products and passed it off as its[...]

Media Files:

Seattle’s $15 minimum wage is costing jobs, new study says

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 13:43:48 EDT

Seattle’s $15-an-hour minimum wage ($19 Canadian) law has cost the city jobs, according to a study that contradicted another new study published last week.A University of Washington team studying the law’s effects found that the law has boosted pay in low-wage jobs since it took effect in 2015, but that it also caused a 9 per cent reduction in hours worked, The Seattle Times reported. For an average low-wage Seattle worker, that’s a loss of about $125 per month, the study said.“If you’re a low-skilled worker with one of those jobs, $125 a month is a sizable amount of money,” said Mark Long, one of the authors. “It can be the difference between being able to pay your rent and not being able to pay your rent.”There would be about 5,000 more low-wage jobs in the city without the law, the study estimated.Seattle was one of the first U.S. cities to adopt a $15 minimum wage law, and its experience is being closely watched as other cities have followed suit and as advocates push for a higher federal minimum wage.The city’s law is raising the minimum to $15 for all businesses by 2021.In Ontario, Premier Kathleen Wynne announced last month the government’s plan to raise the hourly minimum wage from $11.40 to $15 within the next 18 months.The wage will rise to $14 an hour on Jan. 1, 2018 — six months before what is expected to be a hotly contested Ontario election — and then to the $15 mark that labour groups have long demanded on Jan. 1, 2019.Read more:Ontario’s minimum wage jumping to $15 in 2019 The current minimum wage in Seattle ranges from $11 to $15, and unemployment is at a historically low 2.6 per cent, thanks in part to the booming tech sector. Seattle has added about 40,000 jobs overall in the last few years.Last week, a review by University of California at Berkeley economists found the law raised pay without hurting jobs in the restaurant industry. An author of that report, Michael Reich, criticized the University of Washington team’s methodology.The University of Washington effort compared economic data from Seattle with economic data from other parts of Washington state — a statistical model referred to as “synthetic Seattle” — for which economic trend lines were previously similar to Seattle. By comparing the “synthetic Seattle” where no minimum wage increase took effect with Seattle itself, the researchers tried to figure out the minimum wage law’s effect on Seattle’s economy.But Reich took issue with how University of Washington team compiled its “synthetic Seattle.” It was based on areas that “do not at all resemble Seattle,” Reich warned in a letter to the city Monday.By contrast, the Berkeley study compared Seattle to a statistical model based on areas around the country — not just within the state — and was thus a “more representative” comparison, he said.The University of Washington report excludes “multi-site businesses,” such as large corporations, restaurants and retail stores that own their branches directly. Single-site businesses, though — which are counted in the report — could include franchise locations that are owned separately from their corporate headquarters.Reich said multi-site businesses employ a large percentage of Seattle’s low-paid workers. That meant workers who left single-site businesses to work at multi-site businesses were counted as job losses, not job gains in the UW study, he said.Jacob Vigdor, a public policy professor and one of the authors of the new report, stood by the team’s findings. He noted that his team’s study actually corroborated Berkeley’s con[...]

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Trudeau’s popularity reveals more about the lacklustre standing of Canada’s premiers and the opposition he faces: Hébert

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 14:02:29 EDT

As Justin Trudeau’s government approaches mid-mandate, he remains the most popular government leader in the country. But that says as much if not more about the lacklustre standing of the current set of premiers as about the staying power of the popularity of the prime minister.In three of the four larger provinces for instance, the incumbents face uncertain re-election prospects. And in British Columbia voters recently failed to make a definitive choice between the wannabe premiers on offer.Even as he leads a largely unloved first ministers’ pack Trudeau’s approval rating has steadily declined over his second year in office.Yet, in contrast with premiers such as Kathleen Wynne, Philippe Couillard and Rachel Notley, the prime minister has not until very recently had opposition rivals to be compared with.Most Canadians do not yet know what to make of incoming Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and none of the five NDP leadership contenders has so far made a big impression on the electorate.All of which is to say that the hits Trudeau and his party have taken over the past year have essentially been self-inflicted. Take the prime minister’s broken promise of a new voting system. Most Canadians do not wake up at night to fret about the first-past-the-post voting formula but they do care about whether their political leaders can be trusted to say what they mean and mean what they say.On that score, the episode was a defining moment for Trudeau. Going forward there will be a check-on-delivery asterisk attached to his commitments.On Tuesday, the prime minister again tried to dress up his decision to abandon the centrepiece of his electoral reform agenda as something other than a breach of his word — suggesting among other arguments that he was actually sticking to the fine print of his campaign promise.According to Trudeau, the opposition parties — had they paid more attention — would apparently have divined that he was only going through the motions of consulting Canadians on the way forward as his mind was already made up that a ranked ballot was the only acceptable destination.Watching the prime minister over the course of his end-of-sitting news conference dig himself a little bit deeper in a hole of his own making one could not but be struck by the singular political bipolarity of his government.On the one hand, Trudeau leads a team that deserves full credits for hitting the ground running in the wake of the American presidential election. Faced with the biggest shift in the tectonic plates of the Canada/U.S. relationship in decades, he and his government orchestrated a multi-faceted strategy that makes intelligent use of the talent pool at the country’s disposal.It is testimony to the professionalism that has so far gone into the federal approach to the Trump White House that six months in, Canada’s political leadership — provincial and federal — is mostly still singing from the same hymnbook. False notes so far have been the exception rather than the rule.On the other hand, the same government cannot seem to acquit itself of some of its most basic duties. Filling vacancies on agencies, boards, tribunals and courts to ensure that the machinery of government functions on all cylinders is the governance equivalent of tying one’s shoelaces. Yet, so far the Liberal government has mostly managed to trip over its shoelaces with crippling results for many of the institutions it oversees.That has been compounded — as in most notably but not exclusively the case of electoral reform — by talking points that insult the intelligence of anyone keeping track of the narrative.On too many policy issues, an unbridgeable gap between rhetoric and actual[...]

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Ontario proposes banning real estate agents from representing both seller and buyer

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 14:04:39 EDT


Ontario is proposing banning the practice of double ending, in which a real estate agent represents both a buyer and a seller in a transaction.

The province’s Liberal government announced a 16-point housing plan earlier this year, with centrepiece planks of a 15 per cent foreign buyer tax and expanded rent controls.

Another plank was reviewing the rules for real estate agents to ensure consumers are fairly represented. The government has now published several proposals for changes to real estate agent rules and penalties, and is seeking public consultation on them.

One of the proposals is to ban — with some limited exceptions — salespeople from representing both the buyer and seller or more than one potential buyer in a trade.

Read more: More first-time home buyers putting purchases on hold after Ontario introduces new measures

“The seller will want the highest possible price and most favourable terms they can get, and the buyer will want to pay the lowest price or negotiate the most favourable terms possible,” a government discussion paper says.

“These competing interests may make it challenging for registrants involved in these types of transactions to meet their obligations to their clients or to be able to advocate effectively on behalf of either party.”

Consumers have raised concerns that the financial incentives in double-ended deals might lead to agents engaging in unethical behaviour, the government says in its paper.

“This divided loyalty and the associated risks may leave some consumers vulnerable even when written consent is obtained and the necessary disclosures ... have been made.”

Currently, double ending is allowed if all of the clients the agent is representing give their consent to the arrangement in writing.

Under the government’s proposed changes, different agents from the same brokerage could represent the buyer and the seller in a transaction. The “limited exceptions” to the double-ending ban would be if there is a private arrangement between family members or in a small market where there are very few agents.

Read more: Where to turn when you have a problem with your real-estate agent

Ontario says its proposed new model is similar to how British Columbia, Alberta, Nova Scotia and Manitoba approach multiple representation in real estate deals. It is looking to those jurisdictions to learn best practices.

The government is also considering increasing the maximum fine for salespeople and brokers who violate a code of ethics from $25,000 to $50,000 and $100,000 for brokerages.

A second and broader phase of reviewing Ontario real estate rules will start in the spring of 2018.

The Ontario government is proposing banning salespeople from representing both the buyer and seller or more than one potential buyer in a trade, with some limited exceptions.

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Surgical blade mistakenly left inside Quebec woman after surgery

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 15:25:20 EDT


MONTREAL—Quebec’s health minister is blaming human error after a medical instrument 33 centimetres long was forgotten inside a woman who had a hysterectomy at a Montreal hospital last March.

But Gaetan Barrette urged patients Wednesday to not lose confidence in the province’s health system and the surgery performed in its operating rooms.

“There will never be zero mistakes and here you have a situation which proves there are never zero mistakes,” he told reporters in Quebec City.

But Barrette pointed out there’s a standard procedure that’s followed when it comes to an operation.

“When the surgery starts, everything that’s used is counted — everything — and at the end, there’s another count to make sure nothing is left inside a patient,” he said.

But in the operation involving Sylvie Dube, the team that did the checking “clearly made a mistake,” he said.

Dube told Radio-Canada she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer last October and underwent chemotherapy over the winter before the March 14 hysterectomy.

Dube complained of pain the day after the operation — not in the abdomen but in a shoulder.

“It was like being stabbed with a knife,” she said.

Her doctor and nurses at Notre-Dame Hospital told her it was normal a hysterectomy would cause pain elsewhere in her body.

She began taking anti-inflammatory medication but the pain increased.

Discouraged, she went to the hospital’s emergency room on May 22 and had a scan that revealed a metal object in her body.

“They told me, ‘We see a 30-centimetre metal plate in your stomach’,” Dube said. “I said, ‘I don’t have a metal plate in my abdomen.’ ”

The medical report indicated a “flexible blade”, 33 centimetres long, had been left inside her abdomen during her surgery in March.

The instrument was removed May 25.

“It’s an unfortunate event and no one is happy with that, but it’s impossible to have zero complications,” Barrette said.

After undergoing a hysterectomy in March, a Queubec woman visited an emergency room in May to find that a “flexible blade,” 33-centimetres long, had been left inside her abdomen during her surgery.

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