Ride-hailing not coming to British Columbia until fall of 2019

Written by admin on 13/07/2019 Categories: 上海夜网

British Columbia will not have ride-hailing until at least the fall of 2019. The B.C. provincial government had previously committed to having the services in place by Christmas 2017.

“People need to be able to get around safely and reliably,” said Transportation Minister Claire Trevena. “That’s why we’re putting more taxis on the streets, and laying the groundwork for new services to enter the market.”

WATCH: NDP’s move on taxis helps them in ridings where the industry’s power reigns 

“I know that people are looking for expanded transportation options to be available very soon and I want to re insure them that a lot of work is being done to have this accomplished but we need to get this right.”

LISTEN: Taxi industry’s plan to take over ride-hailing in Vancouver, keep Uber out

The provincial government released a report on Thursday by Dan Hara that looked into modernizing British Columbia’s taxi industry.

READ MORE:
Taxi companies pitch plan to keep ride-hailing companies out of Metro Vancouver

The report recommends getting rid of municipal boundaries for taxis, increasing the number of taxis on the road by 15 per cent and allowing discounted pricing for taxi trips ordered by smartphone app.

But Hara did recommend the province could consider regional boundaries that would continue to restrict where drivers could pick up passengers.

WATCH: NDP government delays ride sharing again

“At the heart of consumer and business concerns over B.C. taxi service is supply,” reads the Hara report. “Non-industry stakeholders stated clearly that they want more and better vehicle-for-hire service.”

“Smaller communities and First Nations want their communities better served, especially where present service is spotty or non-existent. Large urban communities experience shortages during peak hours, especially on weekend nights or during special events.”

WATCH HERE: New report highlights the economic benefits of ridesharing

The province has promised to quickly start working with the Passenger Transportation Safety Board to get more cabs on the road. The goal is to hit the recommended target of a 15 per cent increases, which would mean 300 new cabs in Metro Vancouver and 200 in the rest of the province.

LISTEN: How Uber feels about the Hara report

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The government will then introduce amended legislation in the fall that would ‘lay the ground work for new companies to enter the market’. Trevena said once that legislation was passed, ride hailing companies could start applying to work in British Columbia. The province’s public insurer, ICBC, also must wait until legislation is done to create a new package for ride-hailing drivers.

READ MORE:
Enderby believes ride-hailing would help rural B.C.

“One of the last pieces will be working with ICBC to provide insurance models for the industry,” said Trevena. “We need the insurance in place. Once ICBC has done that the doors will be open to ride hailing companies to come to B.C. if they so choose.”

The province is also adopting the recommendation to give the taxi industry the ability to provide discount fare when trips are booked through smartphone apps. The idea of charging ride-hailing drivers a fee to enter the B.C. market is also being considered, an additional cost that other jurisdictions that have ride-hailing does not have.

LISTEN: Keith Baldrey chimes in on the ride-hailing report

“You can be fair without giving them the exact same rules,” said Uber Western Canada General Manager Michael van Hemmen. “Other jurisdictions in Canada have done that. When you look at Brampton, Ontario. They were the most recent jurisdiction to release data from ride sharing and what happened with the taxi industry. What it found was taxi ridership was flat. Ride sharing is bigger than the taxi industry and public transit went up 17 per cent. It is absolutely possible to find a way to make all modes grow.”

READ MORE:
The illegal Richmond ride-hailing app that allegedly won’t take non-Chinese fares

The B.C. Green Party has been advocating for ride sharing and is frustrated that the government is not implementing new services at the same time as updating the taxi industry. Critic Adam Olsen said that both the NDP, and before that the B.C. Liberals, have been playing politics with the industry.

“The foot dragging on this has been about winning or losing swing ridings during elections,” said Olsen. “We have been putting this issue forward. We believe British Columbians should be able to access the rides that they need. I want to be very clear what is going on here is partisan games and that is what needs to end.”

The Vancouver Taxi Association is pitching a plan to help keep ride-hailing companies like Uber out of Metro Vancouver.

The association has a tentative agreement in place to develop a ride-for-hire app called Kater. The deal would leave 20 per cent of the profits with taxi companies and calls for provincial licensing of 200 “Kater Cabs,” which would operate like typical ride-hailing cars that companies like Uber and Lyft have operating in other cities.

READ MORE:
‘Pay now or get out’: Vancouver man says cab dumped him, sped off with door open

Hara’s report cautioned against providing a monopoly to the taxi industry in providing ride-hailing services.

Ridesharing Now for BC, a group advocating for new services in B.C., initially called Thursday’s announcement a ‘positive’ step. But the group later went on social media to express frustration with the province.

“We are extremely disappointed in today’s announcement that ridesharing is going to take at least 18 months,” posted the group online. “BC deserve the same services that are available across Canada reducing impaired driving and increasing access to affordable, reliable service and they deserve it this year.”

READ MORE:
Uber app in B.C. drew half a million visitors over the last two years

Numbers provided by Uber show that more than 500,000 have opened the companies app in the last two years. The Greater Vancouver Board of Trade produced a report in February 2016, entitled Innovative Transportation Options for Metro Vancouver, which outlined specific steps that the provincial government could take to immediately begin modernizing our traditional taxi industry while paving the way for ride-hailing.

“For years, our province has been spinning its wheels on ridesharing and the modernization of the taxi industry,” said GVBOT President Iain Black. “Today’s announcement perpetuates the taxi monopoly while only partially addressing the underlying problems that the industry requires to be fixed, with no firm timelines in place.”

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Income assistance changes welcome but far from complete say advocates

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A slew of programs are being rolled out by the provincial government to help Nova Scotians on income assistance, but many say the added funds dedicated to the most vulnerable are far from enough to adequately address the challenge.

READ MORE: Affordable housing options ‘not meeting demand,’ says Halifax deputy mayor

Advising of recently-implemented and some soon-to-come programs, Community Services Minister Kelly Regan made the announcement in Halifax Thursday.

Among them is the Personal Items Allowance which gives those living in homeless shelters and transition houses $101 per month.

An amount provided to ensure essential items can be purchased, not funding meant to alleviate the difficulties of those currently in the system.

“The fact of the matter is we’re making improvements, we’ll continue to make improvements,” said Regan. “We’re not done yet but these are a good step along the way.”

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Moving toward better support for the most vulnerable population is being received warmly, although advocates stop short of indicating it’s going to completely fix the challenges many are facing.

“Is it adequate? Absolutely not,” said Miia Suokonautio, executive director for the YWCA.

“It’s to take that hard edge off your situation of poverty,” she said. “No Nova Scotian can be fooled to think that $100 a month is what’s going to make the difference between being poor and not being poor, But it is exactly that, a comfort allowance.”

Additionally, deducting child support payment amounts from income assistance cheques will no longer take place. It’s a move the YWCA says will go a long way in helping single-parent families upgrade their living situation.

“The average benefit to a family is $275 to those who receive child support benefits,” explained Suokonautio. “92.4 per cent of income assistance families that are single parents are mother led. It will make an enormous impact on those families.”

READ MORE: ‘No place to go’: An inside look at the affordable housing crunch in Halifax

Despite the numerous changes geared toward helping income assistance recipients, Fergus Dearden says the province is missing a key element to solving the problem.

“I’m a little disappointed to be honest,” said Dearden.

He said that providing a small amount of money to a population of people doesn’t help address the underlying issues of why someone is in the situation they’re in, nor does it make significant progress toward getting them back on their feet.

“We have the belief that everyone should understand financial value and that’s part of the problem,” he explained. “This kind of thing isn’t taught in schools or families and you’re just expected to know how it works and this kind of ideology needs to stop.”

“DCS (Department of Community Services) isn’t making it any easier for somebody like me,” he said. “Just because you throw more money at me and I can get my basic needs met doesn’t mean it’s actually what I need.”

As an entrepreneur, Dearden was hoping to discuss with Minister Regan how the government could help people like him prosper in the business world.

His attempt to begin those talks wasn’t fruitful at the funding announcement, nor was it in the recent past either, he says.

“I wanted to ask Mrs. Regan to basically look at those policies and help make changes,” Dearden explained. “I tried to get her attention, I even wrote her last year.”

“It’s kind of disappointing to see that she wouldn’t talk to me.”

Follow @Jeremy_Keefe

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Saskatchewan posts smaller deficit than forecast, still $303M in the red

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Stronger that expected resource revenue helped the Saskatchewan government finish the last fiscal year with a deficit almost $400 million smaller than initially forecast.

The province finished 2017-18 with revenue of $14.02 billion and total expense of $14.32 billion — leaving a deficit of $303 million.

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    But that’s $393 million better than what was projected in last year’s budget.

    Revenue for the year was down $146 million, or one per cent, from the budget, while expenses were $489 million, or 3.3 per cent, lower than projected.

    Finance Minister Donna Harpauer said a stronger performance in the oil and potash sectors helped.

    Other factors included an increase in provincial sales tax to six per cent from five per cent, and lower-than-anticipated agriculture insurance claims.

    Harpauer said her government is on track to return the province to a balanced budget by 2019-20.

    “Each fiscal year is unique and while we are on the right path, unanticipated challenges or at times good fortune —; like the better-than-anticipated crop year —; can occur,” she said in a statement Thursday.

    “To ensure we remain on track, our government will continue to manage spending carefully, invest in priorities for Saskatchewan people, shift from our reliance on volatile resource revenue and help to keep our economy strong.”

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    The new budget released in April projects a deficit of $365 million this year and a thin surplus of $6 million in 2019-20.

    -With files from Thomas Piller

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Portage and Main question coming to civic election ballot

Written by admin on 14/08/2019 Categories: 上海夜网

Winnipeg’s city council has passed a motion to include a question about opening Portage and Main on the October civic election ballot.

Coun. Jenny Gerbasi was the lone vote against, meaning the motion passed 14-1.

North Kildonan City Coun. Jeff Browaty introduced a motion at city hall a few weeks ago calling for an additional question on the Oct. 24 civic election ballot:

“Do you support the opening of Portage & Main to pedestrian crossings? YES/NO”.

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READ MORE:
Winnipeg mayor Brian Bowman says he’ll support plebiscite vote on Portage and Main, will honour results

The question was debated at Thursday’s meeting.

Coun. Browaty, who does not support opening the intersection to pedestrians, argued the public has not had a chance to have their say.

“I believe having a plebiscite will allow Winnipeggers to hear the facts on both sides and give proper consideration on both sides,” he told council. 

Browaty dismissed notions that having a plebiscite meant councillors were abdicating their responsibility.

Coun. Janice Lukes echoed Browaty’s message, calling Mayor Brian Bowman and the office of public engagement to the carpet.

“What’s happened on this file over the past four years is absolutely a textbook example of an epic public communications and leadership failure.”

There has been no meaningful consultation on the project, she argued, leading to Winnipeggers’ ignorance around the issue.

“Other conversations rise up. Conversations that say ‘Why change? Why? Why would we change? We don’t understand so let’s not change. And flames are fueled to stay the same.”

WATCH: Mayor Brian Bowman on Portage and Main vote.

Mayor Brian Bowman, who said Wednesday he would support the question on the ballot, said the debate around the intersection was interfering with more pressing issues.

“I agree that Winnipeggers should be given an opportunity to have a direct say on this matter.”

While the question isn’t legally binding, Bowman said for him, the result of the vote will be.”

Coun. Brian Mayes said he wasn’t sure he would vote for a plebiscite but said after “hearing the vitriol” directed by both sides of the debate, he changed his mind.

“If the challenge is education, we’re going to give people several months and in a very public way to educate the other side.”

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First responders remind Calgarians to not leave kids or pets in hot cars

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The Calgary Police Service (CPS), EMS and Calgary Fire Department (CFD) have joined the Calgary Parking Authority (CPA) for the third Child Safety Awareness Campaign.

First responders are warning the public to be aware of the health risks that occur when a child or pet is left in a hot vehicle.

According to a CPS news release, the first 30 minutes inside a closed car are when the temperature will increase the most. Children also experience heat differently than adults and will feel heat distress within a few minutes.

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    “In just minutes, temperatures inside a vehicle can rise significantly higher than the outside air temperature, even with the windows slightly ajar or cracked and the air conditioning on,” said Adam Loria, public education officer for EMS.

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    In addition to leaving children unattended in hot vehicles, the Calgary Humane Society reminds pet owners that animals, too, are vulnerable when left in the heat.

    Brad Nichols, manager of animal cruelty investigations with the Calgary Humane Society, wants pet owners to know that it is better to leave your pets at home while you run errands in the heat than to leave them in the car.

    He said many people think they are helping their animal by getting them out of the house and spending time with them, but Nichols warns that the risks of doing so are too high.

    “Just don’t do it,” Nichols said at a press conference on Thursday.

    Not only is leaving a child or animal alone in a car medically dangerous, but it can also result in legal charges, according to EMS.

    According to a news release, parents or caregivers who leave children in hot vehicles could face up to two years in prison among other charges, and pet owners could face up to 18 months imprisonment for the same offence.

    READ MORE:
    Don’t leave kids or pets in hot cars: Edmonton police warning

    If you see either a child or a pet in a closed vehicle, EMS and the Calgary Humane Society say to call 911.

    “It is an emergency, a child or animal left in a vehicle,” said CPS detective Shawna Baldwin. “They don’t cope with the heat well. It’s safest to call 911 and have one of our agencies attend and deal with it.”

    Baldwin offered a few tips to remember to keep your family safe, such as leaving something important in the back of your vehicle to remind yourself to check before you exit the car.

    “If you’re leaving the vehicle, your child and your animal are leaving the vehicle with you,” Baldwin said.

    A list of tips from Calgary first responders to stay safe in the heat can be found on the City of Calgary website.

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1 year after announcement, NDP reveals location, size of new Misericordia ER

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A year ago, the Alberta NDP announced $65 million over four years to upgrade Edmonton’s Misericordia Hospital. On Thursday, officials revealed where the new, larger emergency department will be built.

READ MORE: $65M for Misericordia Hospital will include new emergency department

The addition, which will be on the west side of the hospital will triple the size of the current ER, expanding from 1,700-square metres to 5,000-square metres.

The province said the update will also add 34 treatment spaces, two more ambulance bays and two X-ray suites.

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The existing emergency unit at the hospital was designed with a capacity of 25,000 but has served more than 50,000 patients over the past year, the NDP said.

The new department will be able to accommodate 60,000 visits a year.

The design and floor plan for the project is scheduled to be complete “in the coming months,” the province said in a news release.

Site preparation and demolition is slated to start before the end of 2018.

READ MORE: PC government under fire again for state of Edmonton’s Misericordia Hospital

In its April 2017 announcement, the province said the modernization would include a new ER.

The current ER was built in 1969 and it was renovated in 1989.

READ MORE: Misericordia Hospital opens new NICU: ‘This will dramatically improve care’ 

“The new emergency department will provide our care teams the opportunity to be and do their best in an expanded care environment based on best practice and modern standards and design,” Robert Black, the medical director for Covenant Health, said.

“We are excited to create a place of hope and healing for the people who depend on their Misericordia Hospital at some of the most vulnerable and challenging times in their lives.”

READ MORE: Edmonton’s Misericordia Hospital once again struck with flooding

The flood at the Misericordia in May 2013 forced more than 50 patients and more than 160 staff members to be transferred to the Royal Alexandra Hospital. Then in 2014, the hospital flooded twice in three weeks because of heavy rainfall.

Since then, there have been calls to replace the hospital, which was built in the 1960s. In 2014, the then-opposition Alberta NDP was among those calling for a replacement hospital.

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Montenegro responds with friendship after Trump suggests it is ‘very aggressive’

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World War III? Not us, say puzzled and concerned Montenegrins.

Public officials in the tiny Balkan nation in southeastern Europe didn’t know what to say initially when U.S. President Donald Trump suggested Montenegro could set off a global Armageddon with a military of fewer than 2,000 members.

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That the leader of the world’s dominant superpower would characterize the country’s population of about 620,000 as “very strong” and “very aggressive people” first rendered their government speechless. It found its voice Thursday, and what came out was less a battle cry than a chorus of “Kumbaya.”

READ MORE:
Man lobs grenade at U.S. embassy in Montenegro before blowing himself up

“We build friendships, and we have not lost a single one,” read a statement issued in the capital Podgorica in response to the media’s clamoring for comment.

“It does not matter how big or small you are, but to what extent you cherish the values of freedom, solidarity and democracy.”

Living in a region that has seen more than its share of volatile conflicts, Montenegrins say they are much more interested in tourism than war. Montenegro, a former Yugoslav republic like Slovenia, the home country of U.S. first lady Melania Trump, is known for its long Adriatic Sea beaches.

“I laughed when I heard that and figured it could be a good advertisement,” retiree Slavka Kovacevic, 58, said of Trump’s depiction while taking a break from her morning shopping.

Trump ventured his thoughts on Montenegro during an interview with Fox News host Tucker Carlson conducted Monday after the summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. They were discussing NATO’s mutual defense pact.

If the military alliance’s newest and smallest member were provoked, having NATO behind it could embolden “a tiny country with very strong people” to engage, the president said of Montenegro.

“They are very strong people. They are very aggressive people, they may get aggressive, and congratulations, you are in World War III,” he added.

The comment was not the first time that Trump had taken notice of Montenegro in a way that attracted oversized attention. At a NATO summit last year, his first as president, Trump shoved Montenegrin Prime Minister Dusko Markovic out of the way while trying to get in front for a leaders’ group photo.

WATCH: Did President Trump shove his way to the front of NATO’s group photo?

Back then, Markovic refused to make a fuss over the American president’s manners. Markovic also took the high road regarding Trump’s comments this week, noting in a parliamentary debate on Wednesday that they were made within the context of questioning NATO financing and not intended to insult a particular ally.

“Therefore, the friendship and the alliance of Montenegro and the United States of America is strong and permanent,” Markovic’s government said in its statement Thursday.

Trump’s views have some basis in history. Montenegro, which means “Black Mountain,” does boast of a heroic warring tradition forged over centuries of conquest and contemporary conflicts in the troubled Balkans.

Montenegro was a rare country in the region to retain a level of autonomy during the Turkish Ottoman Empire. Its past ties to Russia, with whom Montenegro shared a predominantly Slavic and Orthodox Christian culture, were so strong that its leaders were said to have declared a war on Japan in 1904 just to support Russia.

Montenegro became part of Yugoslavia after World War I. During the breakup of Yugoslavia, Montenegro was bombed by NATO forces in 1999 before it split from Serbia in 2006.

“I just want to remind all the American public opinion and President Trump that Montenegro was an ally with American soldiers in two wars, in the first world war and the second world war,” former parliament speaker Ranko Krivokapic told The Associated Press.

“Montenegrins are not aggressive … but the nation of brave warriors,” he said.

A man hits a heavy bag during training at a gym in Montenegro’s capital Podgorica, Thursday, July 19, 2018. U.S. President Donald Trump suggested Montenegro may start World War III, but the government on Thursday issued a statement saying it was proud of the country‚Äôs ‚Äúhistory and tradition and peaceful politics”. (AP Photo/Risto Bozovic)

AP Photo/Risto Bozovic

As it happens, Maine Gov. Paul LePage was visiting Montenegro in hopes of strengthening ties with business and political leaders when the president’s interview aired. Maine and Montenegro have had a partnership since 2006 that LePage says originally focused on disaster relief, emergency management and border security.

The Balkans have a difficult history, but “everybody likes Montenegro,” the governor said in a video the U.S. Embassy in Montenegro posted Tuesday. The embassy followed up with a statement Thursday in which it said “the United States is proud to call Montenegro an ally.”

Although its land mass and military are small, Montenegro was seen as an important addition to NATO when it defied Russia and joined last year. Along with having been a Russian ally in the Balkans, the country sits on a southern stretch of the Adriatic Sea that Moscow has been keen to control.

READ MORE:
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Montenegrin authorities accused Russia of being behind a foiled coup in 2016 that was intended to kill the country’s pro-NATO prime minister. Russia has denied the allegation. Given the recent tensions, some Montenegrin observers worried Trump’s comments might need to be taken seriously.

Former parliament speak Krivokapic described Trump’s remark as “very strange.”

“I hope (it was) just a mistake, nothing else,” Krivokapic said. “And I hope that Montenegro was not part of (the) Helsinki talks.”

The reaction of Miljan Kovacevic, 34, a lawyer in Montenegro, was more akin to his prime minister’s post-shove aplomb.

“He is the president of America, but he has not done too well with his statements lately,” Kovacevic shrugged.

___

Jovana Gec contributed from Belgrade.

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Severe summer weather causes more damage in Alberta than all other provinces: AMA

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Summer storms cause more damage in Alberta than all other Canadian provinces combined, according to new numbers released by the Alberta Motor Association.

More than $5 billion in insured damage related to severe summer weather has occurred in Alberta between 2010 and 2017. The wind, hail and rain-related flooding accounts for more than 61 per cent of all storm-related insured damage done in Canada during the same time period, the AMA said Thursday.

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    “Alberta suffers more damage from storms than all the other provinces combined,” the AMA said.

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    Two out of three major hail storms in Canada occur in Alberta, according to the AMA. The two most damaging storms in Canadian history have happened in Calgary. On July 12, 2010, a storm caused more than $400 million in damage. Back in 1991, another Calgary storm resulted in about $340 million in insurance claims.

    “Albertans are being affected more and more by storms, but we’re not sure that they’re always aware of how much risk there is for their properties or vehicles to be damaged,” said Ted Koleff, vice president of claims for the AMA.

    “We want people to understand how much damage severe weather causes in Alberta so they can take steps to make sure it doesn’t happen to them.”

    READ MORE: Initial damages in Red Deer storm pegged at $150,000 

    The AMA said the average hail claim on a vehicle in Alberta costs about $5,000 to fix.

    Ways to prevent summer storm damage include parking your vehicle in a garage or under a covered structure and tying down lawn furniture. The most important thing, according to the the AMA, is to know when severe weather is on the way.

    “We’re encouraging our friends across the province to take steps to get weather alerts on your phones, through your apps or in your email, so you can be prepared when a storm is on the way,” Koleff said.

    READ MORE: Thunderstorms drop massive hail on parts of central Alberta

    The AMA said the amount of insured damage done between 2010 and 2017 is more than four times the amount of damage done from 2002 to 2009, and that takes into account inflation.

    Watch below: Global News coverage of wild weather throughout Alberta in 2017 and 2018

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    Want your weather on the go? Download the Global News Skytracker weather app for iOS and Android.

    Follow @CaleyRamsay

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Police investigating after Innisfil man confined during alleged break-and-enter – Barrie

Written by admin on 13/07/2019 Categories: 上海夜网

Police are investigating after a man was confined to the basement of his home during an alleged break-and-enter in Innisfil.

According to South Simcoe police, on July 18 at around 8 a.m., officers were called to a home in the Big Bay Point Road and 20th Sideroad area after receiving reports of a break-in.

Police say a 43-year-old man told officers two suspects had entered his home around 5 a.m. The man said he was confined to his basement while the suspects were upstairs.

Police say that after the suspects left, the man went to a neighbour’s house to call police.

According to police, the man was not physically hurt as a result of the incident.

Officers are now searching for two suspects who fled the scene.

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Police have described the first suspect as a man about 35 years old and clean-shaven with dark, buzzed hair. He was seen wearing a grey t-shirt, blue jeans and black leather gloves.

Police say the second suspect is also a man around 35 years old, with dark hair that is slightly longer than the first suspect’s. He was seen wearing a red t-shirt, blue jeans and spoke English without an accent.

According to police, the investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to please contact South Simcoe police at 705-436-2141 or 905-775-3311. Information can also be provided anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

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Who will sell legal marijuana in Ontario, and where? It’s no longer clear

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With 89 days to go until legal recreational marijuana is a reality on Oct. 17, it’s no longer clear how many legal cannabis stores Ontario is planning to open, or who will run them.

An FAQ published by the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) still says the agency plans to open 40 bricks-and-mortar stores in 2018.

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    However, a spokesperson for the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, the OCS’s parent agency, would not say if it still planned to meet that target, writing that “updates on OCS retail openings will be provided in the near future.”

    The OCS last made a public announcement in early April.

    At that time, it named four addresses for retail stores, in Guelph, Kingston, Toronto and Thunder Bay, and announced that senior civil servant Nancy Kennedy had been named to lead the agency.

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    Ontario Cannabis Store locations announced in Toronto, Guelph, Kingston and Thunder Bay

    However, Kennedy moved to a job in Ontario’s cabinet office in late June. Former Alcohol and Gaming Commission official David Phillips is the OCS’s acting head, according to his LinkedIn profile.

    The change in leadership was not publicly announced. LCBO spokesperson Nicole Laoutaris would not answer questions about the context of Kennedy’s departure, or plans for a permanent replacement.

    Asked directly whether Ontario was still committed to the public-sector model that the previous Liberal government decided on, finance ministry spokesperson Scott Blodgett would say only that “the government has been working to launch a cannabis retail and distribution system to meet the federal legalization timeline of Oct. 17, 2018. Ontario will be ready with a system in place that meets the objectives of protecting youth and eliminating the illegal market.”

    READ MORE:
    With the clock ticking, we have many questions, few answers on Ontario’s marijuana plan

    Blodgett would not comment on a report in a cannabis industry newsletter on Thursday that the OCS had stopped signing store leases.

    The lack of much visible activity at the store sites until recently, coupled with a lack of communication, naturally raises questions about whether the PCs plan a change in direction away from the government-run, union-staffed model the Liberals chose and handed on to them.

    WATCH: Doctor says Canada not prepared for marijuana legalization

    “I don’t think there’s going to be a change in model,” says Warren (Smokey) Thomas, who heads Ontario’s government employees’ union.

    The then-Liberal government and the Ontario Public Sector Employees Union agreed last year that cannabis store workers would be members of OPSEU.

    “I’m not Doug Ford, and I’m not in his brain, but from what we’re hearing right now, cannabis isn’t top of mind to them.”

    “So far, we’ve not been served notice, or told that he’s changing anything. Last we heard, they’re just going to leave it alone and let it develop and see how it goes.”

    WATCH: Should people with pot convictions be pardoned?

    In March, during the provincial election campaign, Ford said he was open to letting the private sector sell marijuana.

    READ MORE:
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    Asked about marijuana sales in June, Ford said that ” … what I said is I’d be focusing on the LCBO. I’m private sector. I don’t believe government should stick their nose into everything … .we’re going to make a decision after we talk to caucus. But I also said we’d keep it in the LCBOs because they have the structure already put together.”

    Ontario cannabis laws passed last year give the Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation a monopoly on sales, but also give the finance minister broad authority to create exceptions.

    Global News visited three of the publicly announced sites this week. Progress varied:

    In Kingston, Global News reporter Alexandra Mazur found an empty store with papered windows and a ‘For Lease’ sign.

    READ MORE:
    Kingston will open one of Ontario’s first four recreational cannabis shops

    No building permits are displayed, and the inside is empty:

    The Guelph store was silent and empty until late June, but is now an active work site with a fence around it, says Global editor Brian McKechnie.

    The Toronto store attracted controversy this spring when it turned out to be about 400 metres from an elementary school. (Minors won’t be allowed into cannabis stores, and someone will be posted at the entrance to check ID. Quebec will allow cannabis stores to be 250 metres from schools, or 150 metres in Montreal.)

    In June, incoming Ontario Premier Doug Ford seemed to refer to the site when he said that “my priority is to make sure that we protect our children, we don’t make the mistakes of the previous Liberal government by putting a pot store right beside a school, which is absolutely ridiculous and it won’t happen under our administration.”

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    Like the Guelph site, the Toronto location was quiet until mid-June.

    However, when Global News visited this week, active renovation work was happening, and four building permits were displayed that City of Toronto records show had been granted to OCS. Construction workers confirmed that the location was a future cannabis store. However, the building permits were only issued in mid-July.

    READ MORE: Pot … or not? Small provinces much more prepared for Day 1 of legalization

    Other provinces show signs of much more activity on the cannabis legalization file.

    New Brunswick, for example, will have 20 government-operated stores open on Day 1. On Thursday, Newfoundland and Labrador released a list of 29 private-sector cannabis store locations that are being screened by the government. And Nova Scotia, where marijuana will be sold from some liquor stores, was showing off the arrangements in Halifax this week:

    WATCH: What a retail cannabis outlet looks like in Halifax


    Are you involved with the Ontario Cannabis Store? Do you want to contact a reporter? Use the form below:

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Federal Court rules CSIS cannot get warrants to intercept data physically located outside of Canada

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Canadian spies at CSIS cannot get warrants to intercept communications from foreign nationals in Canada if doing so would involve things like accessing data stored on servers outside the country.

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In a ruling released late Wednesday afternoon, the Federal Court‘s Justice Simon Noël determined he did not have the authority to grant a request by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service for a warrant authorizing intelligence officers to intercept foreign intelligence if doing so has “extraterritorial effect.”

READ MORE: Trust in intelligence agencies is up, but a third of Canadians have never heard of CSIS: poll

That’s because under existing laws, CSIS is only authorized to collect foreign intelligence from “within Canada.”

The case in question is heavily redacted and does not indicate clearly exactly what, who or why CSIS sought a warrant to conduct foreign intelligence operations that could stretch beyond Canadian borders.

What it appears to centre on, however, is the question of what exactly counts as “within Canada” when it comes to what spies can and cannot intercept.

WATCH BELOW: CSIS’s extremist probe ended months before shooting

In the past, for example, such a request might have taken the form of CSIS asking the court for a warrant to wiretap the phone conversations of two foreign diplomats having a conversation via phone in Ottawa.

These days, that same communication might take place instead via a foreign national sitting in their living room in Ottawa and communicating with another foreign national through draft messages created and saved on an email platform whose data is all stored in a server located overseas.

“The issue of that is, if you’re running down the communication outside of Canada, is that still within Canada?” said Craig Forcese, a law professor at the University of Ottawa focusing on national security.

“Reading between the lines — or skipping over the dark parts — the answer from the Federal Court is no.”

The CSIS Act, which governs what the domestic spy agency can and cannot do, was created in 1984.

Its requirement that activities aimed at finding out what foreigners are doing be based only “within Canada” has remained on the books ever since.

WATCH BELOW: Exclusive: Did Google Street View breach security at CSIS?

Meanwhile, rapid technological change and increasingly interconnected threats raise the question of how that requirement should be interpreted.

According to the court documents, Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould had made the argument that the Federal Court should grant leeway for the warrant to be granted even if some parts of the activities it might authorize could take place abroad.

READ MORE: When criminals become terrorists: declassified CSIS report lays out how Canadians move to terrorism

“The Attorney General argues that the Court must adopt a purposive interpretation of section 16 that supports the presence of an extraterritorial dimension when providing assistance from ‘within Canada,’” she argued in the records.

“Accordingly, a strict and literal interpretation would lead to absurd results since it would prevent the collection of any information with a foreign dimension, such as in this case, where the Service seeks to [redacted].”

However, Justice Noel ruled that while he recognizes technological change poses a challenge for CSIS, the wording of the current rules mean he could not grant the warrant the spies had requested.

“The correct interpretation of the expression ‘within Canada’ is ‘only in Canada’; anything else would amount to the Court legislatively rewriting this section,” he wrote in his conclusion, and suggested officials ask the government to amend the law if it wants its powers changed.

Forcese said he can see both sides of the debate.

“I can see how the government would say, technically, the culminating data manipulation takes place overseas, but really, it commences in Canada and so really, can’t we say that geographically this takes place within Canada?” he said.

“I can also understand the Federal Court’s decision. The fact is, the data’s overseas — physically overseas on a foreign server — and the only way you get it is you sitting in Canada and reaching across the border. So the intercept itself takes place overseas if you’re hacking into that foreign server to get that message.”

READ MORE: CSIS may be illegally holding information about innocent people: spy watchdog

While the ruling could cause problems for CSIS in the future by leaving it dependent on allied agencies to feed back that kind of information, he stressed lawmakers must weigh any potential request to change the rules very carefully.

The reason that domestic requirement was put in place is because officials — not just in Canada but also in the U.S. and U.K. —  have been wary of blending the cultures that typically surround domestic security organizations like CSIS, the FBI and MI5 with those that are in place with the CIA and MI6.

“You don’t want a rule-of-law security intelligence organization [like CSIS, the FBI or MI5] to have James Bond,” he said.

“If we sort of eliminate any geographical restraint on its foreign intelligence, then we basically bundle MI5 and MI6 together and say, go to it.”

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Topsoil conditions continue to deteriorate: Saskatchewan Agriculture

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Wild weather brought much needed rain to some areas of the province, but crop land moisture levels continue to deteriorate.

Saskatchewan Agriculture said Thursday that crop land topsoil moisture is rated at two per cent surplus, 57 per cent adequate, 30 per cent short, and 11 per cent very short.

Last week, 62 per cent of topsoil was rated adequate or surplus, and 38 per cent short or very short.

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    Significant rainfall is needed in some areas in the west-central and southwest regions to help crops fill pods and heads.

    Officials said crop conditions varying from fair to excellent depending on moisture levels

    Between 76 and 80 per cent of fall and spring cereals, oilseeds, and pulses are at normal development stages for this time of year.

    The severe weather caused crop damage due to heavy hail, high winds, and localized. Heat also stressed crops and was a factor in heating blasting to flowering canola crops.

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    Haying operations continue, with 22 per cent cut and 47 per cent baled or put in silage.

    Producers said many swaths are smaller than normal and overall yields are below average. Pasture growth has been limited in areas where significant rainfall is need.

    Quality is rated at seven per cent excellent, 65 per cent good, 25 per cent fair, and three per cent poor.

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‘This is your life, you only have one of them to live’: Halifax woman shares her journey of transitioning

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Halifax resident Rae O’Neil says she began living as a trans woman in 2016, after being inspired by a friend’s similar decision a week beforehand.

She posts on social networking websites and also blogs about her experiences of settling into her gender identity.

One of her aims is to inspire others, O’Neil said.

She was interviewed on Thursday in Halifax about her journey. The transcript, including one question, has been edited for length and clarity.

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When did you decide to transition from expressing and identifying yourself to others as a man to a woman?

I decided in July 2016. A friend of mine who I had known for a number of years had come out to me, that they were beginning to transition, and it took me a bit by surprise. At first, I didn’t even believe them. I felt really bad in retrospect, but then they explained what they were doing, how they were doing, what the process was they were going through, and they had no idea when they were telling me this that we had that in common.

I was certain I could suppress this my whole life but, looking back, every single time I went into a massive depression over it, it got worse. It never gets better. You can’t win the war. It keeps coming back in eventually. For the longest time, my life was effectively forfeit to me. I didn’t care if I lived, but I didn’t want to die because I had friends and family who wanted me around, so I didn’t want to die and make them sad. That was the worth of my life.

I didn’t know, really, what the process was in Nova Scotia, how feasible it would be to go through it. It broke a lot of those doubts in my head. I ran into a massive existential crisis. My brain wouldn’t shut up for at least a week. Once I decided I’m not going to keep this secret anymore, I’m going to take steps, I knew I was going to go the distance.

READ MORE:
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What was that like to start transitioning at age 34?

Interesting. I often joke that I was a 30-something-year-old teenager. It’s really tricky. You realize how little life experience you have in living in your true identified gender. I had to learn how to put makeup on, and I had never put makeup on in my whole life. Clothing was its own havoc. I’m 6’2″, it’s not the easiest size to find. Looking through my old pictures, I basically went through the awkward teenage clothing phase that usually takes years, within the span of months. Growing up, my mom never taught me how to be a girl [she thought I was a boy].

It’s really tricky. Still worth it, but tricky.

You’ve written that you knew you were trans since you were a kid, why did it take you decades to take that next step?

When I was a kid, I didn’t know trans was a thing. They didn’t teach us this in school. TV and movies did a terrible job of conveying trans people existed. Throughout most of my childhood, I thought I was a freak or a strange pervert. I would pray every night, wishing that God would turn me into a girl or take these thoughts away, one or the other. I would do this every night. Every shooting star, I’d wish. Every birthday cake, I would wish.

Then, around my teen years, I started wondering if I should say something, or should approach someone, or should take some steps. I almost did decide to. I’m not sure if ‘coming out’ is the right [phrase], but I definitely was thinking I was going to talk to someone about this, and then [Ace Ventura: Pet Detective] came out. [The movie], was very popular at the time, and the major plot point at the end of the movie is that they reveal that villain had gotten a sex change. They show that this actor is tucking, AKA they have male genitalia, and then everyone proceeds to throw up. That was the conclusion, and that shoved me firmly right back in the closet.

I then made excuses. Then it switched to — this is very dark — I’ll do it someday I no longer have any family to disappoint; that was the thought in my head. The excuses I gave myself altered. When my friend came out to me, and I saw how foolish some of those blockers I had given myself were, and they started tumbling and the wall cracked, that’s when I finally decided to come out. Many of those worries were unfounded. My family’s been enormously supportive. As much as I gave myself that blocker of ‘Oh, I don’t want to disappoint my family,’ they never really intoned that they would be, so it was a fiction that I had built up to reinforce my resolve in not to do it. It took a lot of years to get through those blockers, and it took a lot of years to get to the point where I think, societally, I felt safe enough to do it.

READ MORE:
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What are the some of the challenges you’re facing in this journey?

Some of the challenges have to do with the medical system, including the coverage of different surgeries and medications, and accessing mental health care. Another big challenge, of course, is just getting past some of my fears. Going out into the world as a woman and kind of owning it and not being afraid of being who I am required developing a fortitude for it, developing a confidence to it. My options for just clothing myself can be very difficult. Hair removal is a long, expensive thing. And just fitting in sometimes.

And the successes?

I’m out. I’m happy I’m out. I feel a lot happier with myself. I’m a lot less shy. I used to avoid being in pictures. I don’t avoid it as much anymore. I’m not ashamed of myself as much. I’ve rediscovered friendships, like being able to go [to] my friends as myself and not have this deep secret that I’m keeping from them. I’ve met new people on this. I’ve met such wonderful people; other trans women, other trans men. One of the funnest parts is rediscovering me. There was so much about me that I didn’t know because I didn’t want to venture into anything that might give me up.

You’ve written and posted about your transition on your blog and social media accounts. Why share those details?

When I was really early on [in transitioning], I had read an article [about] comic book writer Magdalene Visaggio. She was proud, and she was sharing parts about herself and some of the struggles she was going through in transition and such, and that meant a lot to me because it showed me someone else who’s, like, owning this.

They don’t teach you this in school. They don’t teach you what puberty two is like, right? They teach you about the first puberty you run into. There’s so much you’re not certain about. I started following a lot of trans women on 上海夜生活. We cheer each other on. It was very important to see. They’re showing some of their early transition stuff, and it’s like I was just as clumsy and weird and awkward and uncertain as you were. This is normal. You are going through this.

I originally was just going to journal my transition for myself. When I realized how much those helped me, I figured I was going to make a lot of this public, so that if someone else is going through this, or is thinking going through this, or has gone through this, [they’ll] know that some of these things are normal. Even if they don’t go through the same experiences I do, they can at least see of the experiences I went through and understand that, you know, like any puberty, it’s really awkward and really bizarre, and it takes a lot of figuring out.

READ MORE:
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Are there any misconceptions about trans people that you’ve encountered?

Yes. I’ve had people tell me that I should go on birth control. Spoiler alert: I’m not going to grow a uterus, so I can’t actually bear children. That was kind of a fun one. A lot of people, myself included when I first started, [assumed] that I was just going to look like old me in a dress, and that’s not the case. Even if you don’t go on hormones, you do change.

A lot of people assumed that my sexuality shifted; that’s a common misconception. I grew up attracted to women, and they assume that if I was transitioning into a woman, it was because I was attracted to men, and I’m not. Sorry, guys. I’m a lesbian, and sometimes that’s hard for people to understand.

People still assume I’m wearing prosthetic breasts and, two years into transition, they’re not prosthetic anymore, but people didn’t know that you can grow them at a later age.

I find there are still a lot of bad portrayals in the media of trans people. There’s still this perception that a trans woman is a man in drag. I’ve heard far too often someone say ‘transgenders.’ That’s not what we are. We are transgender, but we’re people.

Another misconception is my voice. They assume my voice is going to change magically and, God, I wish it did. But you can change your voice, and this was a misconception I had. I’m still in the process. I still have a lot of work to do, but I’ve been doing voice therapy.

For people in the same boat you were in before your transition, what advice would you give them?

Remember that it’s never too late. You’re never too old to transition. If that’s what’s holding you back, don’t let it. As hard as it seems, and everyone has their own battles to face, remember that this is your life, you only have one of them to live. If you truly believe that you’re living the wrong life, live the right one. It’s going to be hard, it’s going to be scary, but you’re not the only one who’s gone through it. There’s a community out there.

For people with friends, family members, or other loved ones transitioning, what should they keep in mind?

Remember that it’s very hard for them to even come out. It takes a lot to decide to do this, to make such a massive shift in their lives. I would ask them to be patient with them. You and them are going to mess up. If you accidentally misgender them, you use the wrong pronoun, don’t make a big deal of it. The less of a big deal you make about it, the less it will be awkward for everyone involved.

Give them help when they need it, if you can. They will, if they’re very early [into their transition], be super awkward. They’re going to be super nervous. You might even think they’re doing worse for a bit because they are under higher stress, but it’ll work out, and the person that comes out of this will be happier. You’ll likely enjoy them better for it. They probably need you if you’re close to them now. Friendship is enormously helpful. Family is enormously helpful. Honour their requests. Understand that they’re going to be going through some stuff. Just make them feel welcome.

They’re still your friend, they’re still your family. They’re just going through a bit of a thing.

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