Archive | May, 2017

Jagmeet Singh, the social media star who wants to take over the NDP

Posted on 28 May 2017 by admin

The 38-year-old MPP has finally embarked on his quest to replace Tom Mulcair as NDP leader. Can he do it?

OTTAWA—Jagmeet Singh speaks to his phone, which captures video of his smiling face in front of the Gothic facade of Canada’s Parliament.

“Sup everybody?!” he asks, addressing his audience of 47,000 on Instagram.

“I can never get over how cool that looks right there in the background — Look at that! So nice!”

It was the Ontario politician’s debut on the Hill, the day after he declared his candidacy for the federal NDP leadership at a rally in Brampton, where he has held a seat at the provincial level since 2011. Through the day, Singh expounded the broad strokes of his vision in a series of interviews and periodically updated his online audience in the upbeat cadence that has become his trademark.

This is campaigning Singh-style: a mixture of millennial colloquialism and social media posturing with earnest appeals for justice and a more inclusive Canada.

Whether it can win him the mantle of NDP leader, or subsequently help him wrench power from Justin Trudeau, is an open question.

What’s clearer at this point is that his style, both sartorial and as a politician, has earned him some hype. Good luck finding an article about him that doesn’t mention his fancy menswear — his proclivity for tailored suits once landed him in the pages of GQ — or social media prowess.

“His team has been able to build a pre-campaign buzz,” said Karl Bélanger, a longtime activist who has worked for Jack Layton and current leader Thomas Mulcair, commenting on the months of speculation about Singh’s candidacy.

 “Every campaign was taking him seriously and waiting for him to make his move,” Bélanger said.

“(The race) is shifting into a third gear.”

With five months to go before New Democrats vote, Singh welcomes the early attention he’s received. The task now is to transform his lustre in some political circles into support from party members and later, if all goes according to plan, the Canadian electorate.

He sat down with the Star for a wide-ranging interview at the National Press Building in Ottawa. He wore one of his signature, bespoke suits and a pink turban, which he unwrapped and replaced with an orange one partway through the interview. Conveniently enough, Singh explained, orange is both the Sikh colour of celebration and the shade of choice for the party he wants to lead.

“If people see that I’m dynamic and exciting and approachable, that’s a good thing,” Singh said.

“But I want to get beyond that, to getting to the point where we don’t only talk about and campaign on progressive ideas, we actually implement them. … Not just that feel-good appearance, but we have that feel-good policy and substance that’s going to back it up.”

Singh, who is now 38, was born in Scarborough as the eldest of three children, but grew up in Windsor after a brief stint living in Newfoundland.

He entered public life in 2011, when he ran federally for Jack Layton’s NDP. But he wasn’t carried to Ottawa with the Orange Wave. Instead, Singh landed at Queen’s Park that year as part of an NDP caucus that held the balance of power in Dalton McGuinty’s minority Liberal government. He was the first MPP in Ontario to wear a turban and also the first NDP politician to win a seat in Peel Region.

Coupled with his re-election in 2014, when he grew his share of the vote even as several NDP seats in the Greater Toronto Area flipped to the Liberals under Premier Kathleen Wynne, Singh positions his breakthrough in Peel Region as a harbinger for what he believes he can do as federal NDP leader — win.

Singh also had thoughts on the 2015 campaign under Mulcair, in which the NDP appeared poised to jump from Official Opposition to government, only to crash back into third place. Singh said the frequently heard analysis that Trudeau outflanked the NDP and stole left-leaning voters highlights how his party’s progressive policies — national child care and pharmacare, for instance — weren’t properly communicated.

Mulcair simply didn’t “connect” with Canadians, he said.

“At the end of the day, there wasn’t an emotional connection.”

Singh said he’s demonstrated that his style of campaigning can fix that.

“We’ve used social media in a unique and interesting way. We’ve put forward content that’s interesting, that’s fun, but that’s also packed with substance and ideas and values,” he said.

“We’ll use the strategies we’ve already used, but use them on a larger scale.”

Singh’s pitch to the party membership is that he’s the sole candidate that can bring back voters who ditched the NDP for Trudeau’s Liberals in the last election and also broaden the party’s appeal to people who’ve never supported it before. He argued he can speak to everyone from urban cyclists and artists to new Canadians from diverse cultures and indigenous peoples.

Brad Lavigne, a longtime NDP strategist who was campaign manager for the Orange Wave election in 2011, told the Star that this is why he’s volunteering for Singh’s leadership.

“He’s got the ability to connect with a cross-section of Canadians,” he said.

Two potential obstacles for Singh include his status as an outsider in the parliamentary precinct, as well as what Bélanger said was his lack of notoriety in Quebec, a key province in any federal election that provided the bulk of Layton’s breakthrough in 2011.

Singh also said he hasn’t decided when or where he’ll run federally if he wins the leadership, and whether he’ll still try to come to Ottawa as an NDP MP if he loses.

On the caucus front, Singh said he will win support by showing he can draw in people who’ve never voted NDP before. Essentially: build it and they will come. Plus, as Lavigne pointed out, Layton didn’t have significant caucus support when he won the leadership in 2003.

Asked how he would win votes in Quebec, Singh expanded on a story he told at his campaign launch rally. In Grade 7 or 8, he realized there were parallels between the experiences of French Quebecers and his Punjabi-speaking parents in India, before they emigrated to Canada.

“They faced a scenario where their language wasn’t respected,” he said. “Understanding my parents helped me understand Quebec, and understanding Quebec helped me understand my parents.

“You can’t help but be compelled by that.”

Singh acknowledged that his narrative might not be enough, and said he will roll out the specifics of his policy platform in the coming months. For now, he would only highlight broad areas of focus: electoral reform; climate change; reconciliation with indigenous peoples; and inequality.

He accused the Liberals of unjustifiably accepting precarious work as the new status quo, breaking their vows to change the electoral system and treat indigenous peoples with respect and of showing a lack of leadership by maintaining the previous government’s greenhouse gas reduction targets.

“They sold something that looked good and sounded good, and at the end of the day it wasn’t actually what (voters) were told it would be,” he said.

“That’s the sense of dissatisfaction that people have, and I think it’s going to grow.”

In other words, the path to power for Singh’s NDP will be to convince enough people who voted Liberal in 2015 that Trudeau has betrayed them.

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Kathleen Wynne is all aboard $21B high-speed-rail Toronto-Windsor project

Posted on 28 May 2017 by admin

The provincial government has committed $15 million for a “comprehensive environmental assessment” for high-speed rail between Toronto and Windsor.

High-speed rail is finally picking up steam in Ontario.

After years of talk, Queen’s Park is spending $15 million on a “comprehensive environmental assessment” for a rail line on new and existing track to handle 250 km/h trains running between Toronto and Windsor.

The estimated $21-billion project would slash the travel time from four hours to two.

“This is an idea that has been around a very long time. This has been talked about for decades. The best time to have built high speed rail was 40 years ago. The second best time is today,” Premier Kathleen Wynne said Friday in London, Ont.

“We need to get moving on this. We’ve got to do it this time, folks,” said Wynne, adding people want “action,” not more “excuses” by politicians for not building fast trains.

The premier announced a new governing body to oversee the design and implementation of a line with planned stops at Union Station, Pearson International Airport, Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph London, Chatham and Windsor.

A first phase between Toronto and London could be up and running within eight years and the London to Windsor stage could be ready for 2031.

At $60 million per kilometre, the 350-km line would be a relative bargain compared to the planned one-stop 6.2-km Scarborough subway extension that has ballooned to $3.4 billion.

 “Building high speed rail along the Toronto-Windsor corridor isn’t just a game-changer for southwestern Ontario; it’s going to deliver benefits all along the line,” Wynne told reporters.

“The Toronto-Windsor corridor is home to over seven million people and 60 per cent of Ontario’s economy. At its centre is London. We’re outgrowing our current transportation network,” said the premier, noting young people are especially keen on low-carbon transportation alternatives.

Wynne said 10 million passengers a year could be using the line by 2041.

It may usher in radical changes to urban planning in southern Ontario because the fastest VIA trains have a maximum speed of 160 km/h, which limits realistic daily commuting distances.

“Whether it means accepting a job that previously seemed too far away, visiting family more often or having ready access to the innovators who can take your business growth to the next level — high-speed rail will make a real difference in people’s lives and drive economic growth and jobs.”

Toronto Mayor John Tory said he would be “very happy” if Toronto could be better connected with Waterloo’s booming high-tech sector.

“We’ve seen probably 10 provincial studies over the years, under all parties going back decades, and it looks like this one (is) maybe something that’s a little more on the front burner,” the mayor said during a tour of flooding on Ward’s Island.

Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca noted an extensive provincial report released Friday concluded there is a business case for high-speed rail along the Toronto-Windsor corridor.

“This is a precedent-setting project. We want to make sure fundamentally that we get this right,” said Del Duca, predicting commuters could travel between London and Union Station in 73 minutes, a trip that can take three hours now.

The report, prepared by former federal transport minister David Collenette, Ontario’s special advisor on high-speed rail, suggested the private sector could help finance and build the massive project.

“There have been thorough market soundings with the private sector, organized by Infrastructure Ontario,” wrote Collenette, referring to the government agency that oversees the financing and construction of hospitals, court houses, and the Eglinton Crosstown LRT.

“All of this work has led me to the conclusion that a business case exists for HSR (high speed rail) in the corridor, which would connect Toronto, Pearson Airport, Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Chatham and Windsor,” he continued.

“I have also concluded that there are opportunities to engage the private sector in financing and delivering the project.”

Funding could come via the new federal Canada Infrastructure Bank as well as major private investors such as pension funds.

Collenette pointed out the line could effectively pay for itself in improving efficiencies for Ontarians over the next few generations.

“Overall, HSR will yield over $20 billion in economic benefits over 60 years from passenger travel time savings, automobile operating cost savings, GHG (greenhouse gas) reduction benefits, benefits from reduced congestion on roads and other, wider economic benefits,” he wrote.

The scheme would also help the Liberals politically.

With an election set for June 7, 2018, the governing party is desperate to hold its one southwestern Ontario seat, London North Centre, which is represented by Deputy Premier Deb Matthews.

Matthews, who Wynne praised for championing the project at cabinet, said the announcement is “good news” for London’s economy.

High speed rail would also be popular in Kitchener and could be helpful to MPP Daiene Vernile (Kitchener Centre) and Natural Resources Minister Kathryn McGarry (Cambridge).

Premiers have long promised high speed rail, which is commonplace in France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Japan, and China.

Even the U.S. now has the Acela Express that can exceed 200 km/h.

In 2008, former premiers Dalton McGuinty of Ontario and Jean Charest of Quebec commissioned a joint feasibility study of a line from Quebec City to Windsor.

Progressive Conservative MPP Michael Harris (Kitchener-Conestoga) said voters should be wary.

“Southwestern Ontario has been waiting on high-speed rail for years. Now, a year out from the election, the Wynne Liberals have shown up in London to re-announce another transit project they will never deliver on,” said Harris.

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Brown blames nomination problems on ‘energized’ Tories

Posted on 28 May 2017 by admin

Tory Leader Patrick Brown says he had to hire private-sector auditors to oversee PC nominations because the party is growing so fast.

Even bandwagons need brakes and airbags.

Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown says he hired private-sector auditors PwC to oversee his party’s candidate nominating elections because so many people are vying to run for him in the June 7, 2018 election.

As first disclosed by the Star, party activists in Newmarket-Aurora and Ottawa West-Nepean are formally challenging the results of their nominations after irregularities such as ballot stuffing.

With public-opinion polls suggesting the Conservatives could unseat Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals next year, newly minted Tories have been climbing aboard the Brown bandwagon.

“We’ve never seen so many memberships being sold. There is this massive appetite for change in Ontario and because of that we’ve never had so many candidates, so many contested nominations,” the PC leader said in an interview Monday.

“For me, given the fact that we’re seeing nominations that are more energized than ever before I thought engaging PwC would help let anyone know that there’s a neutral arbiter there,” he said.

Auditors from the firm that is also known as PricewaterhouseCoopers began monitoring Tory nominations this past weekend.

“We had three nominations, heard no complaints,” said Brown.

 

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Homicide unit investigating after woman found dead in Mississauga home

Posted on 28 May 2017 by admin

The body of a 50-year-old woman was found on Sunday night in a home on Ceremonial Dr., at Hurontario St.

 Homicide officers are investigating after the body of a 50-year-old woman was found in a Mississauga apartment Sunday night.

Police responded to a call around 6:30 p.m. Sunday where they found the body of a woman inside her home on the 10th floor of an apartment on Ceremonial Dr., at Hurontario St.

Police first tweeted that the death had “suspicious circumstances” and early Monday morning it was deemed a homicide.

The homicide bureau has since taken over the investigation and they say it is an isolated incident.

At the apartment building on Monday, two police officers sat outside the door of the residence.

“Our officers are canvassing the floors, speaking to residences just to see what transpired today and through the night,” said Const. Bally Saini, media relations officer with Peel police.

A woman who lives next to the victim’s apartment said she didn’t hear anything. She also said she hadn’t had much contact with the woman, nor had she seen her around much.

Police did not provide further details about the victim or possible suspects. The woman’s name has not yet been released, pending notification of next of kin.

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Canada ‘very prepared’ for NAFTA renegotiation talks with U.S., trade minister says

Posted on 28 May 2017 by admin

Francois-Philippe Champagne said he had a “good first meeting,” with U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer in Vietnam during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum gathering.

HANOI, VIETNAM—Canada is prepared to start talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement and is confident it will get a successful outcome, Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said Sunday.

“When you start a discussion you start with saying, ‘Well, we’re the first client’,” Champagne said on the sidelines of a meeting of Asia-Pacific trade ministers in Hanoi. NAFTA, negotiated more than two decades ago, “has been amended about 11 times so we said we’re happy to sit at the table,” he said.

Robert Lighthizer, the new U.S. trade representative, has begun the process for renegotiating the three-way agreement with Canada and Mexico, issuing a 90-day notice to Congress.

During his election campaign, President Donald Trump called NAFTA a “disaster” that cost millions of U.S. jobs and crippled the U.S. manufacturing sector. A few weeks ago, he was considering whether to pull out of the agreement entirely.

Champagne said some parts of the deal could be modernized, citing e-commerce, but he wouldn’t say whether Canada had any limitations for the discussions.

“We are very prepared and we are taking that very seriously, but we’ll put things on the table when it comes to the time to negotiate,” he said. “I am confident, if history has been guiding us, that if we succeeded 11 times that we are likely to succeed again.”

Champagne said he had a “good first meeting,” with Lighthizer in Vietnam during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum gathering. “Whatever discussions you have start from the premise of a very fruitful relationship,” he said.

Champagne also met Sunday with the 11 remaining members of the trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal from which Trump the U.S. in one of his first acts as president. The TPP would have included 40 per cent of the global economy.

Some nations are pushing to continue with the TPP despite the loss of the U.S., arguing that too much effort went into negotiating it and that there are benefits for remaining countries, though some have been less committed.

In Hanoi, there was a sideline meeting on Sunday of TPP-member nations and ministers agreed to start a process to put it into force, according to a joint statement. They will ask senior trade officials to arrange how to take the continue the partnership and report back by the APEC leaders’ summit in November.

“Canada’s always been clear: we will look at whatever options would be to the net benefit of Canadians and Canadian workers,” Champagne said. “This is very much now at the stage of looking at options.”

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Maulana Tariq Jamil met with the High Commissioner Tariq Azim Khan

Posted on 28 May 2017 by admin

Pakistan’s renowned religious scholar Maulana Tariq Jamil, who is currently visiting Canada, met with the High Commissioner Tariq Azim Khan On Thursday May 19th 2017 at the High Commission. He exchanged views about the progress Pakistani community is making in Canadian society.

He also met with the officers and staff of the High Commission and emphasized on them to deliver their responsibilities honestly and serve the community

Maulana Tariq Jamil offered special prayers for the well-being of the Country.

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Mississauga – Largest Municipality to Achieve HIGH FIVE® Accreditation in Canada

Posted on 28 May 2017 by admin

Today at General Committee, staff from the City’s Recreation Division announced that the City of Mississauga received its HIGH FIVE® Accreditation from Parks and Recreation Ontario (PRO). HIGH FIVE is Canada’s only national accreditation framework that promotes quality standards for children’s sports and recreation. It offers a holistic approach to child development based on years of research and validated by experts in related fields.

“We’re very proud to be recognized as an accredited HIGH FIVE organization and to be the largest municipality in Canada to receive this designation,” said Shari Lichterman, Director, Recreation. “This accreditation validates our efforts and showcases our strength and commitment to providing the best possible experiences for children participating in our programs while promoting healthy child development.”

Receiving the HIGH FIVE Accreditation advances the City’s Strategic Pillar of Belong by promoting the benefits that children gain through participation in recreation programs. Through the HIGH FIVE Accreditation, the City has been recognized for:

• child-centred standards and procedures;

• HIGH FIVE certified staff; and

• quality assessment tools.

Lichterman added, “As a municipal leader in sports and recreation, Mississauga is regarded for its first-class programming that enhances the quality of life for residents. We’ve received accolades including the HIGH FIVE Accreditation, the Platinum Youth Friendly Community Status and are currently working towards receiving the Age-Friendly Community Status.”

To obtain the HIGH FIVE Accreditation, the City had to:

• provide training to 1,800 front line instructors in the principles of healthy child development, including all lifeguards and swimming instructors;

• provide training to 50 full-time supervisors and managers;

• assess approximately 2,000 existing, unique programs offered over a 24-month period; and

• review and develop processes, procedures and policies.

For more information about the City’s sports and recreational programs and activities, visit mississauga.ca/recreation.

 

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Sachin Tendulkar Receives Blessings From PM Narendra Modi. Here’s Why

Posted on 28 May 2017 by admin

Legendary cricketer Sachin Tendulkar on Friday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi to inform the latter about his upcoming film “Sachin: A Billion Dreams”. “Briefed our honorable PM Narendra Modi about the film and received his blessings,” tweeted Tendulkar after his meeting with PM Modi.

Tendulkar shared a photograph on Twitter in which he is seen shaking hands with PM Modi.

The former India cricket captain also thanked PM Modi for his special message ‘Jo khele, Wahi khile!’

“I was in Delhi so, I thought it would be nice to brief him about the movie. I told him what the movie is about and he was quite happy and gave me a positive feedback,” Tendulkar said.

“He told me that the film will not only inspire the next generation but through my highs and lows it will tell everyone that challenges are everywhere but that does not mean you surrender… you overcome those challenges and he said it applies to everyone in life,” he added.

“Sachin: A Billion Dreams”, directed by James Erskine, is about Tendulkar’s personal journey from a young boy to a cricketing icon.

The film has already been declared tax-free in Kerala and Chhattisgarh.

“Sachin: A Billion Dreams” is scheduled to release on May 26.

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Shilpa Shetty and Raj Kundra slap Rs 100 crore defamation case on businessman Ravi Bhalotia

Posted on 28 May 2017 by admin

Shilpa Shetty Kundra and her businessman husband Raj Kundra continue to stay in news over their business. It was earlier reported that Raj Kundra and Shilpa Shetty Kundra were sued for duping a textile firm owner.

Now, the celebrity couple has slapped a defamation notice on textile firm owner Ravi Mohanlal Bhalotia who had alleged the duo of cheating of Rs 24 lakh. The couple has sent Rs 100 crore defamation notice after Bhalotia publicly called the celebrity couple a cheat.

“Raj Kundra and Shilpa Shetty Kundra have slapped a defamation notice for Rs 100 crore on Ravi Mohanlal Bhalotia. A quashing petition has been filed in the Bombay High Court as they have tight contracts signed and have been responsibly following the laws of the land,” Raj Kundra’s spokesperson said in a statement.

Earlier, Raj Kundra had issued a statement for the media after the cheating claims were made by the vendor. “This is a civil matter and an abuse of the law. We have tight contracts signed and on the contrary, the vendor owes us money for not fulfilling orders. Big deal is, unfortunately, being wound up due to the business failing and we are following the laws of the land to close the various matters properly,” he asserted.

The firm named Big Deals was founded by the Kundras in March 2016. However, in December 2016, the firm had to temporarily suspend their operations as demonetization hit them hard. Later, Raj Kundra stepped down as the CEO.

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SHOCKING: Shraddha Kapoor demands Rs. 8 cr to co-star with Prabhas, Disha Patani demands Rs. 5 cr

Posted on 28 May 2017 by admin

Our Bollywood heroines need a reality check far more than a pay cheque. Their remunerative demands are not only staggering but also quite amusing in how ridiculous they appear considering their limited box office clout.

Think Shraddha Kapoor. When was the last time she had a hit? Her last two films have been box office disasters. And yet her price on Bollywood’s rate card is a staggering Rs 8 crores. Yes, you heard right. That’s how much this actress—of Rock On 2 and Ok Jaanu fame—wants as her fee to act opposite Bahubali star Prabhas.

This, the producers of Prabhas’ next project Saaho discovered when they approached Shraddha. Says a source very close to the development, “We wanted a Bollywood actress opposite Prabhas to give Saaho a pan-India look. The heroine has a fantastic role in Saaho. We wanted someone beautiful, Indian and emotive. Shraddha Kapoor was our first choice. She heard us out and was almost jumping with excitement during the narration.”

Then she quoted a price that had the Saaho team running out of Shraddha’s residence as fast as possible.

“She wanted Rs. 8 crores. We were shocked. We don’t pay that kind of money to actors in Telugu cinema. But she wouldn’t budge. She was like, ‘I love the script and I’d love to work with Prabhas. But the price remains unchanged.’ We fled.”

The producers then tried Disha Patani, who played Dhoni’s deceased beloved in the bio-pic with a career as dead as her character. “She had started her career in Telugu cinema. So we thought she would be keenly interested in the project as it stars Prabhas,” says the source.

To their surprise she not only played hard to get, she asked for a fee that had the producers reeling.

“Disha Patani who started her career in our Telugu cinema wouldn’t meet us. When she finally did she said she’d let us know. Later she had her team members inform us that she liked the script but would want Rs. 5 crores for her fee. We want to know which Bollywood producer pays Disha Patani that kind of money, and for what?’ says the irate source from Saaho, adding that they met several other Bollywood actresses including Kriti Sanon.

“But nothing worked out. We are now done with Bollywood actresses. With Prabhas in the project we don’t need them. We will cast a Telugu actress,” says the source.

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