Archive | August, 2017

Why Kathleen Wynne just won’t quit: Cohn

Posted on 24 August 2017 by admin

The premier isn’t abandoning the Liberal ship because, suddenly, it’s not necessarily sinking.

 Sign of the times:

Journalists get a heads up that the premier will address her MPPs at a normally closed caucus meeting the next day. Immediately, reflexively, every editor in town assumes it’s a resignation story, sending reporters into a feeding frenzy.

Proof, as ever, that people don’t pay attention to Queen’s Park.

Despite endless speculation from the opposition Progressive Conservatives that Kathleen Wynne would soon quit as premier — forced out by dismal ratings — it turns out that rumours of her death spiral are political spin. She is rising from the political dead at the very time that Ontario’s Tories are losing altitude.

Any death watch has a magical effect on the media, who love a moribund politician when they see one. A phalanx of cameras tracked Wynne on her supposed death march from the premier’s office to the government caucus room (112 steps according to my fitness tracker, though I counted it out for good measure) where Liberal loyalists awaited word on their collective future.

Now, with a provincial election campaign less than nine months away, time for an update: Wynne isn’t abandoning ship because, suddenly, it’s not necessarily sinking.

As photographers rushed into position to record her exit strategy, she offered a recovery strategy. Instead of a departure speech, a pep talk.

Not the end of the road but the beginning of the campaign trail as she tries out the beginnings of a stump speech. Leaving journalists without a news story — nothing to see here.

But we may all be missing the story.

Conventional wisdom long ago anointed the little-known Patrick Brown as premier-in-waiting. He came from out of nowhere — years of backbench obscurity in Stephen Harper’s Conservative government — to capture the provincial leadership in 2015.

Today he remains a political unknown, because voters have no idea what his ideas are. With Brown vacillating on public policy, he is oscillating in public opinion polls.

It’s not that Wynne is invincible, he’s just invisible.

Groggily and angrily, voters are awakening and focusing — slowly. By all accounts this will be a change election, but the electorate has already shown a remarkable propensity to change its mind.

What did Wynne have on her mind as she walked in, wired with a clip-on mic, speaking without notes for a heart-to-heart with a nervous caucus? If it is to be a change election, then the premier will reposition herself as a change agent.

Changing economic times and financial uncertainty? Change is coming, and the government will grapple with it, she argued:

A $15 minimum wage. Free pharmacare up to age 25. Free tuition for many college kids. Smoothing out hydro rates. All of which are proving remarkably popular in recent polls.

Behind the pep talk was policy talk, and a promise to drive yet more change: “We can’t pretend that either we’re there, or when we finish implementing this plan we’ll be there. There is more to do.”

By contrast, the Tories are just politicians clinging to the past, who “think that if we could just go back, if we could just go back to the way it was…”

It’s an attempt to get out in front of the change train without being run over by it. And a recognition that her unprecedented unpopularity need not be politically fatal if the campaign can be framed as a contest of policies, not personalities.

Monthly polling by Campaign Research shows that two thirds of Ontarians believe the government should be changed. Even voters who think the government has done a good job are yearning for a change in power.

But in politics, as in life, the only certainty is uncertainty. Earlier polling by Campaign Research showed Brown’s Tories with a commanding 50 per cent share of the vote last January, with the Liberals languishing at 28 per cent and the NDP at 15 per cent.

By May, Wynne’s Liberals had recovered the lead with 37 per cent, as the Tories tumbled to 34 per cent and the NDP recovered to 22. A summer sounding in July found the PCs at 38 per cent and the Liberals at 30, with the NDP parked at 24.

Given the 3 to 4 per cent margin of error in their polling, that suggests a statistical tie between Liberals and Tories for the moment. All of which tells the tale of why there was no resignation story this month.

Wynne personal ratings are irredeemable yet irrelevant. It matters little that NDP Leader Andrea Horwath enjoys the highest personal support, given that her party attracts the least votes. As for Brown, he can no longer depend on anonymity for popularity.

Which is why, when journalists watched Wynne walk into that caucus meeting the other day, they didn’t get a resignation story. Instead of walking away from the next election, the premier isn’t going anywhere just yet.

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Trudeau should thank Trump for his continued popularity in Canada: Hébert

Posted on 24 August 2017 by admin

While the opposition dithers the Liberals have acquired a lot of political cover with their handling of the Canada/U.S. file.

Every other year — going back to Jean Chrétien’s first mandate — I’ve tried to spend the last week of my summer vacation on Quebec’s Magdalen Islands, using part of the time to catch a glimpse of what makes some of the voters behind the polling numbers tick.

The islands are a go-to destination for visitors from the other regions of the province, making them a good place to look for insights into Quebec’s political psyche. There are worse venues to chat about politics than a beachside café!

My last visit dated back to the first weeks of the 2015 federal election at a time when the NDP was still riding high in voting intentions. I had found plenty of anecdotal evidence to support the polling data but also clear indications that Thomas Mulcair’s chances rested too heavily for comfort on his capacity to sustain the perception that he was best placed to beat Stephen Harper.

If there has been one constant over all those end-of-summer visits it has been a general willingness to spontaneously vent about the prime minister of the day. To varying degrees that was true of Chrétien, Paul Martin and Harper.

On that score, this summer’s listening tour was unlike any of the previous ones for no one seemed inclined to vent about Justin Trudeau. Quebecers are not raving about the prime minister; nor are they ranting about him in the way they did about his three predecessors.

An Abacus poll published in late July pegged support for Trudeau’s Liberals in Quebec at 53 per cent. That’s well above their election showing and almost 30 points ahead of the Conservatives, the Bloc Québécois and the NDP.

The Liberals owe part of that popularity to the low Quebec profile of the opposition parties. The Bloc Québécois’ latest leader, Martine Ouellet, moonlights as a member of the National Assembly. Incoming Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is relatively unknown outside his party’s modest Quebec circles, and the ongoing NDP leadership campaign is very much taking place under the radar.

The potential re-emergence of a Liberal juggernaut in Quebec in the 2109 election would in itself be cause for concern for the other parties. But even more worrisome from the opposition’s perspective is the fact that the main trend underlying the high Liberal score is not Quebec-specific.

Like other Canadians, Quebecers have Donald Trump on their minds, and with the American president as a baseline Trudeau enjoys a huge comparative edge.

While the Liberals have reset their governing agenda to deal with a changed U.S. reality, the Conservatives and the New Democrats have so far failed to find a footing in the new Canada-U.S. universe.

Over a summer break dominated by Trump-related developments, both main opposition parties have fallen well short of offering an effective critique of the government’s approach, let alone a constructive alternative.

Calling on Trudeau’s principal secretary Gerald Butts to publicly disown his reported friendship with then-Trump adviser Steve Bannon as Mulcair did last week only raises more questions as to how an NDP government would manage the relationship with an unpredictable White House. At last check, building bridges — not burning them — was part of the brief of senior PMO officials.

Meanwhile the Conservatives whose flirt with dog-whistle identity politics pre-dates Trump’s victory are scrambling to belatedly put much-needed distance between their party and the fallout from a toxic presidency.

While the opposition fiddles the Liberals have acquired a lot of political cover for their handling of the Canada/U.S. file. On the Conservative front, former federal minister James Moore and Rona Ambrose, the party’s recent interim leader, have both joined an advisory group that acts as a sounding board for the government on NAFTA.

Canada’s two NDP premiers as well as senior members of the Canadian labour movement are also in the trade renegotiation loop.

Despite the breaking of signature election promises ranging from the size of budget deficits to electoral reform, mounting acrimony on the Indigenous front, concerns over a sudden abundance of border-crossing asylum seekers and a cabinet team whose learning curve is proving to be steep, Trudeau — as his government nears mid-mandate — is in better shape in national voting intentions than Mulroney, Chrétien and Harper were at the same juncture. He can thank Trump for part of that.

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Patrick Brown says he wants nothing to do with The Rebel

Posted on 24 August 2017 by admin

 “I deplore intolerance of any kind and in any place, including Rebel. That’s why they thoroughly detest me!” Brown tweeted.

Under pressure from the Ontario Liberal Party, Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown has distanced himself from the controversial far-right website The Rebel.

“I deplore intolerance of any kind and in any place, including Rebel. That’s why they thoroughly detest me!” Brown tweeted, with a link to a Rebel video critical of his party’s troubled nomination process.

His tweet, posted at 11:20 a.m. Saturday, followed one by the Ontario Liberals that was put on the social media site at 7:29 a.m. that day.

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“Call on Ontario Conservative Leader Patrick Brown to forcefully denounce Rebel Media, here,” the Liberal post said with a link to an online petition that said “Hatred And Bigotry Have No Place In Ontario.”

“Demand Patrick Brown and the Ontario Conservatives disavow The Rebel. Members of Rebel Media have voiced their support for the alt-right and neo-Nazi movement,” the Grits said.

“They were swiftly condemned by people across the political spectrum. But Ontario Conservative Leader Patrick Brown has remained silent, even though he’s appeared on Rebel Media multiple times. We are calling on him to denounce Rebel Media and say he will never appear on the station again.”

While Brown has indeed been interviewed by the controversial 2-year-old outlet, he has become a favourite target of Rebel pundits for moving the Ontario Tories to the political centre.

Since taking the helm of the party in May 2015, he has renounced social conservatives by embracing abortion rights, same-sex marriage, and Premier Kathleen Wynne’s updated sex-education curriculum.

As well, Brown has welcomed thousands of people from Ontario’s cultural communities into the fold.

But against the backdrop of the June 7, 2018 provincial election, the Liberals want to paint him as a politician from outside the mainstream.

Rebel, once a darling of conservatives in Canada, has been imploding in recent days, thanks in part to its coverage of the Charlottesville, Va. protest where an anti-Nazi demonstrator was killed. A white supremacist has been charged in her death.

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Wynne’s balanced budget plan relies on rosy projections for tax revenue growth: watchdog

Posted on 24 August 2017 by admin

Given the government’s spending plans, maintaining a balanced budget relies critically on an optimistic revenue forecast and, in particular, on very strong growth in tax revenues, sayd Ontario’s independent Financial Accountability Office.

Premier Kathleen Wynne’s balanced budget plan is based on rosy projections, says Ontario’s independent Financial Accountability Office, echoing concerns raised previously.

“Given the government’s spending plans, maintaining a balanced budget relies critically on an optimistic revenue forecast and, in particular, on very strong growth in tax revenues,” the office said in a report Thursday.

“There appears to be significant downside risk to the government’s forecast.”

The report from the FAO warns that maintaining balanced budgets after this fiscal year will require “additional fiscal policy measures” such as new sources of revenue or lower spending.

Wynne’s Liberal government, which has embarked on a multi-billion dollar plan to build new transit and is bringing in pharmacare for Ontarians under 25, has promised to balance the budget before next June’s election.

Finance Minister Charles Sousa’s office said the government is confident a strong pace of economic growth, which has seen Ontario outpace growth in other G7 countries for three years, will keep fuelling provincial coffers.

“Our government has a strong track record of beating our fiscal targets,” spokeswoman Jessica Martin said. “We do so by taking a prudent approach to fiscal planning.”

The Financial Accountability Office warned that the government is forecasting tax revenue growth in the next four years to average 5.5 per cent annually, higher than the average 4.4 per cent annually in the previous four years.

“If the government maintains the spending plans laid out in the 2017 budget, a large shortfall in future tax revenues…could lead to renewed deficits,” said the nine-page report.

About 70 per cent of the government’s tax revenue comes from the personal income tax, corporate taxes and the HST, which are all tied closely to the general health of the economy.

“The 2017 budget forecasts significantly stronger growth in these three tax revenue drivers than the FAO or the average of other economic forecasters,” the report added.

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Toronto police unveil new cruiser design

Posted on 24 August 2017 by admin

Last November, city council passed a motion asking the Toronto Police Services Board to retain the current color scheme of its patrol cars “pending further view.” The motion said “stealth grey” was too militaristic and sent the wrong message to the public.

After criticism over plans to switch the force’s frontline fleet from white to dark grey, Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders unveiled a new prototype Monday that retains the grey base but adds white doors.

The new design was done after the service conducted a survey that presented members of the public and police employees with a narrow choice of base colours: white, silver, dark blue and black.

The results were tabulated and Ryerson University’s RTA School of Media created the design, Saunders said, after driving the latest version up to the back of police headquarters on Grenville St.

The vehicles were designed with visibility and professionalism in mind, Saunders told reporters.

Last November, following a backlash, city council passed a motion asking the Toronto Police Services Board to retain the current color scheme of its patrol cars “pending further view.” The motion said “stealth grey” was too militaristic and sent the wrong message to the public.

Safety experts were also critical of grey for not being “on the visibility pyramid of paint color.”

Saunders halted the design after police board members asked him to “clarify” the reasons for the change, since they were not consulted. The board, which includes Mayor John Tory, also asked that community consultations be undertaken and requested that if a new design was warranted, it “reflect diversity, inclusiveness and mutual respect.”

Saunders said Monday he believes the new design meets those criteria though he continues to disagree with critics who believed the all-grey forerunner was too militarized and not visible enough.

 “I was very, very confident that if we used fluorescent white that would not be an issue, but you know, once again we have to listen to the public and sometimes they’ll interpret things differently,” he said.

“I’m equally happy with this vehicle and the way it looks and looking forward to seeing how the public feels about it.”

Saunders said as far as he’s concerned the matter is closed — though he is due to present the new design to the board at its monthly meeting on Thursday.

“I’m going to focus on keeping the community safe, if I invest too much time in figuring out the color of the police vehicle then I’m doing something wrong.”

Toronto police officers have been patrolling city streets in the white, red and blue design since 2006.

A Toronto Police Service news release said the new design “achieves a balance between visibility, with white doors, reflective letter and emergency lights, and professionalism, with a sleek, simple design that focuses on the word “POLICE.”

The first newly designed cars will be on the road by November, the release said. It will take five years to replace the entire fleet of vehicles.

 

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Woman refuses to appear in court for third time on terrorism charges

Posted on 24 August 2017 by admin

Rehab Dughmosh will now be brought to a hearing scheduled for Monday by force if necessary, judge rules.

A Scarborough woman facing numerous terrorism-related charges will be forced to appear before an Ontario court Monday if she refuses to appear voluntarily one more time.

Rehab Dughmosh, 32, didn’t appear by video from the Milton detention centre Thursday morning after refusing to leave the centre for two previous court appearances.

At Thursday’s hearing, Justice Kimberly Crosbie ordered Dughmosh brought before the court by force if she refuses to attend again Monday.

Dughmosh, who will be warned of Crosbie’s order, is accused of swinging a golf club and knife at Canadian Tire employees and customers on June 3. In her first court appearance she pledged her allegiance to Daesh, also known as ISIS.

She has refused legal representation and has expressed her intention to plead guilty to the charges.

 

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Year-over-year, average price for homes fell in July: CREA

Posted on 24 August 2017 by admin

The association says the average price for a home sold last month was $478,696, down 0.3 per cent from July 2016.

The plunge in Toronto-region home sales helped push down the average Canadian home price by 0.3 per cent to $478,696 in July — the first year-over-year decline since 2013.

The number of homes sold on the Multiple Listings Service (MLS) also dropped for a fourth consecutive month by 2.1 per cent between June and July, the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) reported on Tuesday.

But the Toronto region and local markets in the nearby Greater Golden Horseshoe saw the least precipitous drop since the Ontario government announced its 16-point Fair Housing Plan in April.

That could be because a July rise in interest rates pushed some pre-approved buyers into action, said the association.

 “Sales may be starting to bottom out amid stabilizing housing market sentiment. Time will tell whether that’s indeed the case once the transitory boost by buyers with pre-approved mortgages fades,” said CREA chief economist Gregory Klump in a news release.

The supply of new listings has also slowed. Listings were up 5 per cent year-over-year in the Toronto area last month, compared to a 16 per cent increase in June and a jump of 49 per cent in May.

Listings were also down in Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal and northern British Columbia, which was affected by this summer’s wildfires, said CREA.

In the Toronto region, the number of sales was down 40 per cent year-over-year, although average prices rose 5 per cent in the same period. They were, however, down about 19 per cent between April and July of this year — from a peak of $919,449 to $746,216.

Excluding Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, the national average price was $381,297, up from $365,033 a year ago.

Sales were down in two-thirds of Canadian markets, including Calgary, Halifax and Ottawa, as well as the Toronto area.

Some Toronto-area realtors say they are cautiously optimistic that things will turn around in the fall. Showings are picking up, a positive sign that buyers could be set to jump off the fence where they have sat since the spring, said Toronto realtor John Pasalis, president of Realosophy Realty.

The big unknown, he said, is the volume of listings that will come on the fall market.

“That can skew the market significantly. If we see a significant increase in the number of listings sitting in the market relative to the increase in demand from buyers, we’re going to have a very slow market even if buyers are jumping back in.

“A lot of agents are predicting a very heavy volume of new listings both from the people who couldn’t sell in the summer, and a lot of move-up buyers (who) are probably inclined to sell first before they buy this time,” said Pasalis.

Broker Gurinder Sandhu says he is cautiously optimistic that the psychological pause homebuyers have exercised since the provincial housing announcement, which included a 15 per cent foreign buyers tax and expanded rent controls, will end in the fall and the market will return to normal.

“We haven’t had a normal market in a long time,” said the executive officer/owner of Re/MAX Realty Services.

Economic fundamentals support large-ticket purchases, including housing, he said.

“What we see is the Canadian consumer is still confident in the economy. The economy continues to grow in and around 2-plus per cent. Jobs continue to be created at a healthy rate and unemployment is probably among the healthiest rates we’ve seen in a long time,” said Sandhu.

The return to equilibrium is better for buyers and sellers, but those listing their homes need help recalibrating their expectations, he said.

“We are not in the market we had in the first four months of the year. That was a fantasyland. That was short-lived but now we’re back to a market where houses are not going to sell in a matter of hours,” said Sandhu.

It will take months or weeks in some cases.

Another small rise in interest rates won’t have much impact, he said.

But Pasalis said that a bigger question mark is the possibility that banks will expand mortgage stress testing, something Canada’s bank regulator, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, is considering.

“It would put a lot of buyers on hold as they adjust to these changes,” he said.

 

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Canadians and the Pakistani-Canadian Community joined together to celebrate 70th anniversary

Posted on 24 August 2017 by admin

Canadians and the Pakistani-Canadian Community joined together to celebrate 70th anniversary of Pakistan’s independence and Canada’s 150 anniversary at the Horticulture building Lansdowne Park. Thousands of Canadians visited the venue to join the two days celebrations.

Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Communities AmarjeetSohi, Mayor of Ottawa Jim Watson, Yasir Naqvi, Attorney General Ontario, Parliamentarians, officials, diplomats and a large number of Canadian-Pakistani Community attended the opening ceremony.

In his opening remarks Minister Sohi said that across Canada, he is witnessing Pakistani community progressing and their participation in all fields of life is a welcome sign for the diverse culture in the Country.  Ottawa City Mayor Jim Watson also appreciated efforts of the Pakistan High Commission to put up an impressive exhibition, first of its kind in Ottawa. The High Commissioner in his address thanked the City Government for making this event a great success and hoped that the exhibition of Pakistani products will help enhance our ever increasing trade ties with Canada.

Minister Sohi and Mayor Watson visited all the stalls setup in the exhibition and appreciated the skills and artisan of the Pakistani manufacturers.

The main feature of the two days celebrations was to showcase Pakistan’s export products including handmade rugs, textiles, leather products, surgical instruments and handicrafts to the Canadians. It provided an opportunity for the Canadians to see the products made in Pakistan and the skills of the Pakistani artisan.

There was huge interest in exhibition of photography titled Pakistan, “A Cradle of Civilization” by photographers; Mr. Imran Choudhry and Mr. Bilal Javaid, depicting Pakistan’s landscape, heritage and culture. Pakistan is gifted with serene natural beauty and it is yet to be explored by the international tourists. Its ancient heritage and architecture was exhibited through the images.

There were queues for getting henna prints on the hands by ladies and to taste Pakistani cuisine including biryani, mutton karahi, seekh kabab and ghulabJamin.

Raffles were drawn on both the days for free gift of rugs, leather products, onyx marble, basmati rice and return air ticket to Pakistan.

The celebrations concluded with performances by the local Pakistani singers: Ms. WaniaJibranfrom Edmonton, “Saroor” musical group from Toronto and Sufi spiritual form of music; the Qawali from Ottawa. They enthralled the audience with Pakistani tunes, both classical and modern. A huge number of Canadians and music lovers enjoyed the musical evening and praised the performances by the local Pakistani singers and musicians.

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Kareena Kapoor Khan says it’s difficult to balance work and personal life since son Taimur is young

Posted on 24 August 2017 by admin

Kareena Kapoor Khan is happily enjoying her motherhood phase and pictures of her son Taimur Ali Khan never fail to break the internet. Like c’mon isn’t he the cutest of them all? Keeping things steady on the work front, Bebo is all geared up for her next Veere Di Wedding.

We all saw how she totally nailed her pregnancy and later lost all those extra kilos post the birth of her little munchkin. Her latest pictures looking like a million bucks is enough proof of the same. But wonder, how does the queen maintain this amazing professional and personal life balance.

Kareena, who recently got in a conversation with a leading daily, spoke about how happy she is seeing Bollywood filmmakers showing women in a progressive way today.  She stated, “One can definitely see a change in the way women have been portrayed on screen in the Hindi film industry. The roles are now written by young directors, who have been successful in highlighting the personality of women who are hardworking and successful. Films have now been portraying women in a more progressive manner.”

Further talking about balancing her professional and personal life, Bebo told, “I have always maintained a personal and professional life but now it’s more difficult as Taimur is too young. I try to strike a balance. I have a great support system with Saif and my family.”

Meanwhile we are too excited for Bebo to kick start shooting for Veere Di Wedding which also stars Sonam Kapoor, Swara Bhasker and Shikha Talsania.

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Priyanka Chopra trolled yet again

Posted on 24 August 2017 by admin

Priyanka Chopra is a global sensation. The diva is leaving no opportunity to rise and shine and lead India’s name to glory. But she’s also been trolled for her wardrobe choices in the past and  yet again PeeCee was found at the receiving end of internet trolling for her latest Independence Day video.

PeeCee took to her Instagram to share a boomerang of herself waving the Indian national flag tricolor dupatta while wearing a white tank tucked in denims. Instead of respecting her sentiments the naysayers trolled the diva for her inappropriate choice of clothes. They called it shameful and disrespectful towards the nation, here’s what some of the comments said…

“What’s is going on here Priyanka have some respect for national flag of India”

“She can wear whatever she wants but must choose some decent outfit according to occasion”

“You can’t defend this shameful lady who is destroying our country’s name globally.”

While the trolling continued, many fans came up in PeeCee’s defence saying…

What’s up with people… There is nothing wrong in showing love to your country in any way u feel like…”

“Love you PC… The look suits you! And stop being hypocrites guys… It’s her life, let her decide.”

PeeCee was  was earlier trolled for wearing a short dress when she met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Berlin. Looks like some people will always have a problem no matter what she wears and PeeCee should take care not to give in to those haters.

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