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Downtown Toronto streets fill with revelers, rainbow flags for city’s Pride parade

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TORONTO – The streets of downtown Toronto are teeming with rainbow regalia this afternoon as thousands take part in one of the country’s largest Pride events.

The Toronto Pride Parade marks the culmination of a month’s worth of events intended to celebrate the city’s LGBTQ+ community.

Thousands of people flooded the streets along the parade route through the downtown core, smiling broadly as they waved rainbow flags, pompoms and umbrellas.

Pride Toronto says the parade will start off on Bloor Street and Church Street before winding down Yonge Street and then ending at Nathan Phillips Square.

The march is slated to feature several LGBTQ+ newcomers to Canada who are celebrating their first Pride events in their new city.

Many say they see Pride is a symbol of hope and belonging after fleeing persecution elsewhere in the world.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 30, 2024.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

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Trudeau’s hand-picked candidate for Montreal byelection riles aspiring contenders

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OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to hand-pick a candidate for a riding in an upcoming Montreal byelection isn’t being well-received by three aspiring contenders who spent months campaigning only to be shunted aside.

The Liberals announced Montreal city Coun. Laura Palestini last Friday as the party’s candidate in a byelection whose date has yet to be announced for the riding of LaSalle—Émard—Verdun. The byelection must be called by July 30.

Three aspiring candidates — local school commissioner Lori Morrison; entrepreneur Christopher Baenninger; and former Quebec Liberal party organizer Eddy Kara — denounced the decision, with Morrison calling it “anti-democratic, 100 per cent.”

Morrison said she couldn’t believe the party let her knock on doors and sign up memberships only to ultimately abandon plans for a nomination meeting.

The nomination to become candidate in LaSalle—Émard—Verdun, Morrison said, was hotly contested because the riding “has been a Liberal stronghold for a very, very long time.”

Liberal campaign co-chair Soraya Martinez Ferrada has said it was Trudeau’s decision to prevent party members from choosing the candidate and to instead select Palestini, who represents the LaSalle borough on Montreal city council. Ferrada was on vacation and unavailable for comment Monday, her office said. The party declined to make anyone else available and instead provided a statement.

The Liberals have won the riding in all three elections since it was created, with former justice minister David Lametti re-elected with 42.9 per cent of the vote in 2021. The Bloc Québécois candidate received almost half as many votes — 22.1 per cent — while the New Democratic Party and the Conservatives picked up 19.4 per cent and 7.5 per cent of the vote, respectively.

Lametti resigned on Jan. 31, after he was excluded from Trudeau’s cabinet in last summer’s reshuffle.

Baenninger said he was “in shock” at Trudeau’s decision to forgo the nomination process and hand-pick a candidate, saying it was “not right” and “demotivating.”

Morrison refused to say whether the party is respecting its values by disregarding a nomination vote; Baenninger, meanwhile, said the decision falls within the rules. The party’s vetting committee, he explained, can reject any candidates in the best interest of the party.

However, Baenninger said, the party didn’t do itself any favours by pushing three candidates aside in favour of Palestini. “I’m going to be shrewd: we didn’t improve our chances. I’ll leave it at that.”

Trudeau’s leadership has been under scrutiny since the party failed to retain the riding of Toronto—St. Paul’s, a longtime Liberal bastion for more than three decades, that was won by the Conservatives on June 24. Nationally, the Liberals have been polling roughly 20 points behind the Tories led by Pierre Poilievre for more than one year.

Both Baenninger and Morrison said that before Palestini was announced by the party, they had never heard her name before.

Kara, a filmmaker and former provincial Liberal organizer, had the support of former Quebec finance minister Carlos Leitão and ex-MP Jean-Claude Poissant. He said it’s “really shocking” that Trudeau interrupted the nomination process, adding that the party sent signals that members would choose the candidate, including by publishing a nomination kit.

He said he learned that the Liberals wanted someone of Italian origin to “ensure we get the Italian vote.” Kara said three members of the Liberal Party executive confirmed to him that they were also considering appointing Daniela Romano, another municipal councillor in LaSalle.

According to 2016 census data, 8.2 per cent of the riding’s residents are of Italian origin.

Palestini will face another municipal councillor in the byelection, as the NDP have named Craig Sauvé, who represents the nearby Sud-Ouest borough on city council. The Conservatives will run Louis Ialenti, who the party describes as “a common-sense small business owner.” The Bloc has not revealed its candidate.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 23, 2024.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.



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Adventure-seeking B.C. couple were victims found on Nova Scotia island: relative

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HALIFAX – The British Columbia couple whose remains recently washed ashore on Nova Scotia’s remote Sable Island have been identified as 70-year-old James Brett Clibbery and his 54-year-old wife, Sarah Packwood.

Clibbery’s sister, Lynda Spielman, said today the RCMP have confirmed their identities.

Spielman, a Calgary resident, says she’s heard many theories about what happened to the adventurous couple after June 11 when they left Halifax harbour in a 13-metre sailboat en route to the Azores — a 3,200-kilometre journey.

Spielman declined to speculate on what went wrong, and the Mounties have said they are still investigating.

On Monday, the RCMP confirmed they had identified Clibbery’s body with the help of the province’s medical examiner’s office, but they declined to release his name, citing privacy legislation.

The Mounties previously confirmed the couple’s sailboat, Theros, was reported missing on June 18, and it wasn’t until July 10 that their bodies were found in a three-metre inflatable boat on Sable Island, about 280 kilometres southeast of Halifax.

Clibbery and Packwood, who lived on B.C.’s Salt Spring Island, described themselves as adventure travellers and posted details of their voyages on a YouTube channel called Theros Adventures.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 23, 2024.

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LCBO stores reopen across Ontario after two-week strike by workers

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TORONTO – Hundreds of Ontario’s liquor stores reopened Tuesday following a strike that lasted more than two weeks, but the fighting between the union representing workers and the government dragged on.

About 10,000 Liquor Control Board of Ontario workers had returned Monday to prepare for the opening of nearly 700 stores after they walked off the job on July 5.

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union, which represents LCBO workers, had said the labour dispute was largely about Premier Doug Ford’s plan to allow convenience and grocery stores to sell ready-to-drink cocktails. The expanded sales, it said, was an existential threat to the workers’ future.

The sniping continued Tuesday as the union took umbrage with Ford’s comments from Monday, when he said the strike should never have happened.

The union said it made “significant gains” as a direct result of the strike.

“LCBO workers are proud of what they achieved in this contract, which wouldn’t have been possible without the strike,” said Colleen MacLeod, chair of the union’s LCBO bargaining unit. “They’re also happy to get back to work serving their communities again.”

The three-year deal, which the LCBO workers ratified over the weekend, sees an eight per cent wage increase over three years, the conversion of about 1,000 casual employees to permanent part-time positions and no store closures over the course of the agreement.

The union said converting those casual positions into 1,000 permanent part-time jobs and the guarantee of no closures for the duration of the contract was not on the table before the strike.

As part of the reopening, the LCBO said there will no longer be limits placed on online orders, but those orders could take up to three weeks for delivery.

Outside one LCBO in Toronto’s west end, Jay Brafman lambasted both sides for the strike.

“I think (the union) basically held hostage Ontarians and that’s not the right way to get more out of your job,” he said.

Brafman, a fan of the government’s plan to expand alcohol sales into convenience stores, also criticized Ford.

“If he really wanted to show some courage, he would have liquidated the LCBO,” he said.

Brafman, a vodka drinker, was put out during the strike as the LCBO is the main seller of spirits across the province.

“It cost me a ton of money having to go out to bars if I wanted to drink,” he said, adding that he’s happy the stores are open again.

Ford’s previous plan was to get beer, wine and ready-to-drink cocktails in convenience stores and all grocery stores by 2026, completing a 2018 election campaign promise. But in May he announced that would instead happen this year, capping speculation of an early election that Ford did not outright deny.

Convenience stores will be allowed to sell beer, wine and coolers starting Sept. 5 while newly licensed grocery stores can do so starting Oct. 31.

An “early implementation agreement” with The Beer Store involves the province paying the company up to $225 million to help it keep stores open and workers employed. The province is also giving brewers a rebate on an LCBO fee that normally brings in $45 million a year, and it is giving retailers a 10 per cent wholesale discount.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 23, 2024.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.



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