Canada’s annual inflation falls to 1.1% in February – National

OTTAWA – Consumer prices rose more in February than expected but not enough to keep annual inflation from dipping four-tenths of a point to 1.1 per cent – near the low end of the Bank of Canada’s target range.

Economists had anticipated Statistics Canada’s annual inflation rate would fall because a spike in gasoline prices in February 2013 didn’t happen again this year but the actual decline was less than expected.

Story continues below

HangZhou Night Net

Consumer prices also increased more than anticipated between January and February, pushing up last month’s consumer price index  0.8 per cent as travel tours, hotels, autos and gas were all higher.

Economists had generally estimated the month-month increase would be 0.6 per cent and that the annual inflation rate would fall below 1.0 per cent, the low end of the Bank of Canada’s acceptable range.

“The smaller year-over-year rise in the CPI in February compared with January was mainly attributable to gasoline prices, which fell 1.3 per cent in the 12 months to February, following a 4.6 per cent increase in January, ” Statistics Canada explained.

On a monthly basis, gasoline prices rose 2.3 per cent this February, a smaller increase than in the same month a year ago (8.4 per cent).”

Earlier in the week, Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz said he would discount this month’s reading because it did not present an accurate picture of inflationary pressures in Canada. He said he believes the trend rate of inflation is about 1.2 per cent, exactly the level for February’s core rate, which excludes volatile items such as energy and some fresh foods.

Poloz has expressed some relief of late that inflation has moved steadily up from single-digit territory, although it still remains well below the two-per-cent level the bank targets. Some analysts believe it could return to the level as early as this summer, however.

On a monthly basis, the big movers were gasoline, travel tours, hotels, women’s clothing and autos. As well, there was a 2.8 per cent increase in cigarettes, some of which may be due to a tax increase handed down in last month’s budget.

On an annual basis, electricity costs rose 4.7 per cent, property taxes 3.2 per cent, rent 1.5 per cent and fresh fruit 7.5 per cent. Food, a major contributor to the index, rose a modest 1.1 per cent, matching the increase in January.

Meanwhile gasoline, women’s clothing, digital computing devices, prescribed medicines and tools and other household equipment all cost less.

Regionally, inflation was strongest at 2.7 per cent in Prince Edward Island and weakest in British Columbia, where prices declined by 0.3 per cent.

©2014The Canadian Press

Top 10 memorable moments from Quebec election campaign

MONTREAL – Quebecers vote in a provincial election Monday and if the party leaders can agree on one thing, it’s that this has been the dirtiest of races.

READ MORE: Live coverage of the 2014 Quebec election

Here are ten key moments from the campaign. Have we missed any? Let us know in the comments below.

The PKP fist pump

When Pierre Karl Peladeau, one of Canada’s most-powerful media barons, was unveiled as a star Parti Quebecois candidate, he thrust his fist into the air and vowed to make Quebec a country.

“My joining the Parti Québécois is an adhesion to my deepest and most cherished values, making Quebec a sovereign nation!’’

The polarizing majority owner of the Quebecor empire had a clapping PQ leader Pauline Marois at his side — an image that has been shown throughout the campaign.

“Le Shove”

On Day 9 of the election campaign, Pauline Marois pushed Pierre Karl Peladeau away from a news conference microphone in an effort to regain control of the message of her unravelling campaign.

It happened only a few days after Peladeau’s introduction and pro-independence proclamation.

Marois cornered on referendum

In the first leaders’ debate, Coalition Leader Francois Legault cornered Marois on the thorny issue of Quebec independence by asking her whether she would hold a referendum in her next mandate. “No, there will be no referendum as long as Quebecers are not ready,” Marois replied.

Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois, leaves the stage after her post-debate news conference Thursday, March 20, 2014.

Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

Couillard blasted on bilingualism

During the second leaders’ debate, the presumed front-runner Couillard was ganged-up on by his rivals. He madecontroversial remarks about the importance of bilingualism, even for workers on factory floors. His opponents pummeled him with accusations that he is too soft when it comes to protecting the French language.

Watch: Leaders’ debate highlights

Story continues below

HangZhou Night Net

Bernard Drainville brings the Charter of Values back into the spotlight

Two weeks into the campaign and the word “charte” was finally uttered by the Parti Quebecois. Bernard Drainville made sure to draw attention to Bill 60 with his infamous line, “A vote for the PQ is a vote for the charter.” 

In another interesting twist, the PQ did not run a candidate in the riding of Lapinère so Independant MNA and supporter of the charter, Fatima Houda-Pepin had a better chance of winning.

Marois’s tax-cut Hail Mary

With the PQ struggling in the opinion polls, Marois made a sudden and surprising promise of future income-tax cuts, just days before the end of the campaign.

Asked why she has waited until Day 30 of the campaign to mention the commitment, Marois replied: “Not a lot of people asked me (about tax cuts).”

A protester holds a sihn reading “We know where to Cut” with a photo of Quebec Premier Pauline Marois during a against anti-austerity measures Thursday, April 3, 2014 in Montreal.

Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

The CAQ gains momentum

Francois Legault’s campaign strategy remained constant throughout the election. He tried to stay focused on the economy and repeated that his party offers an alternative to those wary of another referendum under the PQ and the “worn-out” Liberals. As the latest polls suggest, he did gain popularity among Quebecers.

 “It’s better to have an accountant, an entrepreneur, a manager, rather than a social worker or a doctor.”

UPAC PQ Flip-Flop

In a sit-down interview with Global’s Jamie Orchard, PQ candidate Jean-Francois Lisee was adamant the PQ was never visited by UPAC, but the next day, PQ leader Pauline Marois said he simply didn’t know that corruption investigators had visited party offices.

PQ worried Ontario students would steal election

The Parti Quebecois Minister of Justice, Bernard St-Arnaud, along with former student leader Leo Bureau-Blouin demanded that Quebec’s chief electoral officer monitor the alleged wave of out-of-province student voters trying to register to vote.

“Will the Quebec election be stolen by people from Ontario? By people from the rest of Canada?” 

Frequently anglophones and members of immigrant communities, university students in Montreal have since reported issues when trying to register for the vote.

Watch: Quebec’s election threatened by out-of-province voters

Charter chat with Janette

Quebec celebrity Janette Bertrand, an outspoken defender of the Parti Quebecois’ secular charter, raised eyebrows when she tried to stir up support for the proposal at a public event.

To illustrate her point, the 89-year-old former actress told a bizarre, hypothetical story of men who were upset by the sight of women in the water at a swimming pool.

Prominent PQ candidate Jean-Francois Lisee later distanced himself from Bertrand’s comments.

“My reaction was that this was not the best quote of the campaign, this was not the best argument for the charter,” Lisee said.

“But the woman is 89, so I’m going to cut her some slack.”

What have we missed? What were your favourite election campaign moments? Let us know in the comments below.

-With Files from the Canadian Press

©2014The Canadian Press

Manitoba Museum’s new exhibit aims to solve Lake Winnipeg’s woes – Winnipeg

WINNIPEG — The Manitoba Museum has launched a $1-million exhibit highlighting the continuing problems of Lake Winnipeg.

The health of Lake Winnipeg, the 10th largest lake in the world, has been deteriorating for decades.

Part of the problem is the shallowness of the lake, but the bigger issue is the amount of land that drains into the lake.

Lake Winnipeg was listed as the most threatened lake in the world in 2013 by the Global Nature Fund, based on the increase in algal blooms that cover the water with a thick, greenish slime.

Story continues below

HangZhou Night Net

RELATED: Lake Winnipeg earns dubious distinction

The museum’s interactive permanent exhibit centres around a computer simulation of the watershed and allows visitors to make decisions that affect the health of the lake.

The catch is everyone is working as a unit, so if your neighbour makes poor choices, it affects the overall health of the lake, just as it would in real life.

“Every decision has a cost, both in terms of economic impacts but also in the social capital of the province,” said Scott Young, the Manitoba Museum’s manager of science communications and visitor experience. “Does the algae bloom get smaller or bigger, based on your decision? Saving the lake is a balancing act.”

Visitors can visit the live aquarium/terrarium that highlights some of the wildlife that live in the lake, a water table that explores the issues of water flow and flooding, and a number of historical images and videos to round out the learning experience.

The exhibit is slated to open on World Water Day, Saturday, March 22.

©2014Shaw Media

Bustle’s fall 2014 collection inspired by longshoremen

TORONTO – Bustle offered a tip of the cap to docker style in its upscale yet cosy range of separates for fall and winter.

“Last season, we were kind of inspired by the florals and we were in Mexico, and we kind of wanted to do something a little more rugged and a little darker – but still Bustle,” said creative director Shawn Hewson standing alongside his wife and label co-founder Ruth Promislow.

“We found these great quilting fabrics, and it took us in the direction of the Scandinavian longshoremen.”

Story continues below

HangZhou Night Net

Related

  • Top trends from Toronto fashion week, fall-winter 2014

  • Rudsak channels ‘cool rebel’ at 20th anniversary show

  • Farley Chatto shows luxury furs at Toronto fashion week

The soft, richly textured fabric served as a centrepiece in the line, with jackets and drawstring pants among the garments in the range fashioned from the material. The collection unveiled Thursday at Toronto’s World MasterCard Fashion Week also included dual-toned turtlenecks, denim jackets, shawl collar cardigans and slim-fitting cargo pants, each showcasing the label’s interpretation of casual seaport style.

Bustle dialled back on the use of ultra-bright hues, featuring a more muted palette encompassing black, grey and green.

No flashy patterns either, sticking largely to tried-and-true mainstays like plaid, with the print showcased on shirts, coats, pants and the inner lining of jackets.

“It’s always been a thing of ours to mix and match the patterns and textures,” said Hewson backstage following the show.

Models walk the runway in the Bustle show, part of Toronto Fashion Week in Toronto on Thursday March 20, 2014.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

“In this case, we didn’t have a ton of variety in terms of the colours and the prints; so we were all about texture, mixing the textures and making sure those kind of made for interesting outfits.”

In past seasons, Bustle has been among the select few menswear designers showing at Fashion Week. But their ranks are swelling, with Christopher Bates, Klaxon Howl, Thomas Balint and Hussein Dhalla of HD Homme among the labels also showing collections during the week.

Promislow called the surge in menswear representation on the runway “fantastic.”

“I think just more and more men are paying attention to how they look,” she said.

“Men’s fashion is becoming something that people are paying attention to in the fashion world, and men on the street are thinking about what they wear and what’s going on in fashion.”

“I think having that many menswear labels here at World MasterCard Fashion Week this season is a sign that guys are starting to embrace their esthetic even more,” Hewson added.

A model walks the runway in the Bustle show, part of Toronto Fashion Week in Toronto on Thursday March 20, 2014.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

©2014The Canadian Press

Harper adds sanctions; Putin signs bills completing Crimea annexation

ABOVE: (Mar. 21, 2014) As Vladimir Putin signs the law that completes the annexation of Crimea, Ukraine’s new government signed a trade deal with the European Union. Mike Armstrong has the details from Kyiv.

LATEST UPDATES:

Harper imposes additional sanctions against Russian officials, bankRussia agrees to sending of international monitors to UkraineRussian President Vladimir Putin signs bills completing annexation of CrimeaPutin says no need for further retaliation against U.S.Stephen Harper becomes first G7 leader to visit Ukraine since Russia moved to annex CrimeaNo need for further retaliation against U.S.Ukraine signs deal to align itself with Europe

MOSCOW – President Vladimir Putin has signed bills making Crimea part of Russia, completing the annexation from Ukraine.

Putin hailed the incorporation of Crimea into Russia as a “remarkable event” before he signed the bills into law in the Kremlin on Friday.

Russia rushed the annexation of the strategic Black Sea peninsula after Sunday’s hastily called referendum, in which its residents overwhelmingly backed breaking off from Ukraine and joining Russia. Ukraine and the West have rejected the vote, held two weeks after Russian troops had taken over Crimea.

The U.S. and the European Union have responded by slapping sanctions on Russia.

Putin: no need for further retaliation against U.S.

Story continues below

HangZhou Night Net

Related

  • Harper imposes further sanctions against Russian officials, Bank Rossiya

    Harper, Obama and the EU imposing new sanctions against Russia for its actions in Ukraine

  • Why Moldova, Estonia may feel uneasy about Russia’s actions

  • Harper leaves on European trip

  • Saskatchewan considers Russian booze ban in wake of violence in Ukraine

  • Russian economy, tycoons take hit in Crimea crisis

There is no need for Russia to further retaliate against U.S. sanctions, President Vladimir Putin said Friday as Russia’s upper house of parliament endorsed the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

Moscow made its first retaliatory shot on Thursday by banning nine U.S. officials and lawmakers from entering Russia, but Putin indicated that Russia would likely refrain from curtailing co-operation in areas such as Afghanistan.

MORE: Why Moldova, Estonia may feel uneasy about Russia’s actions

Moscow appears to hope to limit the damage from the latest U.S. and EU sanctions and avoid further Western blows.

Russia agrees to accept having international monitors sent to Ukraine

Russia has accepted sending an international monitoring team to Ukraine, following more than a week of stonewalling the push by all other members of the 57-nation Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to send such a mission.

The OSCE said the 200-strong team will gather information and report on the security situation “throughout the country.” It didn’t specify whether that included Crimea, which Russia has annexed, but the agreement could signal a slight de-escalation of tensions.

PM Harper makes additional sanctions during historic stop in Ukraine

Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited Ukraine Friday, to meet with that country’s prime minister and show support for Ukraine as it deals with a Russian incursion in the Crimean peninsula.

Harper imposed economic sanctions and travel bans Friday against 14 additional Russian officials and issued an economic sanction against Bank Rossiya, a financial institution that serves as the personal bank for senior officials of the Russian Federation.

Harper is the first leader of a G7 country to visit the eastern European nation since pro-Western demonstrators drove out its government last month.

Ukraine signs deal to align itself with Europe

Ukraine’s prime minister has pulled his nation closer into Europe’s orbit by signing a political association agreement with the EU at a summit of the bloc’s leaders.

Friday’s agreement between Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and the EU leaders was part of the pact that former President Viktor Yanukovych backed out of last November in favour of a $15 billion bailout from Russia.

That decision sparked the protests that ultimately led to his downfall and flight last month, setting off one of Europe’s worst political crises since the Cold War.

©2014The Canadian Press

Harper’s high-court appointment Marc Nadon ineligible, Supreme Court rules

ABOVE: (Mar. 21, 2014) In a historic ruling on Friday, Supreme Court of Canada justices ruled, in a 6-1 decision, to reject Stephen Harper’s nominee for the top bench. Vassy Kapelos explains.

OTTAWA – Stephen Harper has come almost full circle.

The Conservative prime minister who came to office in 2006 cautioning against the power of the courts suffered a political body blow Friday from the highest court in the land – a Supreme Court stacked with Harper appointees.

Story continues below

HangZhou Night Net

By rejecting Justice Marc Nadon, Harper’s sixth and most recent pick for the nine-member bench, the remaining Supremes laid down constitutional markers that could proscribe the government’s future plans for Senate reform, electoral changes and the appointment of judges.

Not only was Nadon, a semi-retired Federal Court of Appeal justice, found to not have the proper qualifications laid out in the Supreme Court Act for a Quebec nominee to the top bench, but the government’s efforts to rewrite the rules were thwarted.

The government does not have the authority to amend the Act, wrote six of seven judges, saying “the unanimous consent of Parliament and all provincial legislatures is required for amendments to the Constitution relating to the ‘composition of the Supreme Court.”‘

The government appeared to be caught flat-footed by the twin rebukes.

A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said it was “genuinely surprised” and would review its options, all the while stressing Nadon’s appointment had been vetted by two former Supreme Court justices and a committee of MPs.

“At no time did any (committee) members, including from the Opposition, object to appointing a member of the Federal Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court,” it said – a claim hotly disputed Friday by one NDP MP on the committee who accused the PMO of “talking through its hat.”

As for the government’s options, legal scholars were left scratching their heads.

Carissima Mathen, a University of Ottawa law professor and constitutional lawyer who followed the Nadon reference closely, said the government was “pretty cavalier” in how it appointed him.

“Will they accept defeat, or will they look for other ways to get around this?” she wondered. “I think it’s really important for public confidence that they actually accept when they have been defeated.”

It was the second muscular reminder from the high court in as many days that the Constitution reigns supreme.

On Thursday, a retroactive element in the Conservative tough-on-crime agenda dealing with parole eligibility was struck down, with the court reminding the government that passing unconstitutional laws brings the justice system into disrepute.

Their week’s work will have implications for a number of high-profile Conservative government agenda items, notably Senate reform.

“It’s quite easy to extrapolate today’s decision to the Senate reference,” said Sebastien Grammond, a constitutional law expert at the University of Ottawa who also argued the case on behalf of an interveners group that represented provincial court judges.

“I think it would be relevant to the issue of the abolition of the Senate. You can make the argument that it requires unanimity because it has a central importance in our political institutions.”

Federal parties weigh in on Nadon decision

Green party Leader Elizabeth May issued a release that drew the next obvious inference – a constitutional challenge to the government’s deeply controversial “Fair Elections Act” that rewrites the way Canadian elections are conducted and, some argue, tilts the field in the Conservative party’s favour.

May urged the government to “stop wasting Parliament’s time and stop clogging the courts with legislation that was, on its face, unlikely to survive a court challenge, but which the House keeps passing in blind disregard of the consequences.”

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said the government has some big decisions ahead, such as Senate reform and assisted suicide.

“These are big deals and the prime minister has failed in one of his fundamental responsibilities,” he said. “Now we’re going to start over again, and the prime minister will hopefully get the appointment right this time.”

Trudeau said the ruling is an affirmation that Canadian federalism works, and it comes “at a convenient time for people who believe in the strength and functioning of Canada.”

WATCH: NDP “very, very satisfied” with Supreme Court decision on Nadon

Others saw little to praise in a messy process that tarred everyone from the government to the court to Nadon himself. The 64-year-old may now be on the hook to repay the hefty Supreme Court salary he’s been collecting for five idle months.

Adam Dodek, a constitutional law professor at the University of Ottawa, said the court reference “really blows the lid off the federal government’s claim that their way of appointing Supreme Court judges is open and transparent and accountable.”

The ruling also resonated on the Quebec election trail, where questions linger about whether the Parti Quebecois would hold another referendum.

“It demonstrates that when Quebec stands up, we can succeed,” leader Pauline Marois said of the decision during a campaign stop in Quebec City.

“In this case, there was no other choice: Mr. Harper erred in seeking to appoint Judge Nadon.”

Marois also interpreted the ruling as vindication of Quebec’s decision to intervene in the case.

“There are people who said … that it was a bit exaggerated, appearing before the Supreme Court to defend such a point of view,” she said. “We defended our point of view. And we won. And I’m very happy.”

Rocco Galati, the Toronto lawyer who first challenged the Nadon appointment, welcomed the court’s decision, but said it shouldn’t have fallen to an ordinary citizen to raise the issue.

“When I started this I was very, very clear and convinced that I was right and that this was as clear as a bell to me,” Galati said in an interview from Karachi, Pakistan, where he is travelling.

Galati said he’s spent a huge amount of time, energy and his own money “to clean up the mess of the subversive government that doesn’t want to respect the Constitution.”

“Why should a private citizen have to do that, quite frankly?”

There’s also the matter of a Supreme Court that has been short a Quebec justice now for the better part of a year, and an opaque appointment process that clearly has flaws.

The government went to the extraordinary length of getting a legal opinion on Nadon’s status last summer, paying retired Supreme Court judge Ian Binnie $7,463.65 to write an opinion that was then approved by another former Supreme, Louise Charron, who was paid $4,325.00 for her efforts and Osgoode Hall professor emeritus Peter Hogg, who earned $1,045.25.

The government’s $12,833.90 investment did not pay off.

Nadon was declared ineligible because he came from the Federal Court and did not meet the criteria of either coming from the Quebec Superior Court, the Quebec Court of Appeal, or being a current member of the Quebec bar.

©2014The Canadian Press

How high was security at the Kabul Serena Hotel? – National

ABOVE: (Mar. 21, 2014) Global’s Chief Political Correspondent Tom Clark was at the Serena Hotel, in Kabul, just a week before Thursday’s deadly attack. As he explains, security there was taken very seriously.

The deadly attack at a luxury hotel in Kabul favoured by foreigners was a surprise, but not entirely unexpected.

Story continues below

HangZhou Night Net

Afghanistan‘s capital has been the site of recent attacks in the lead-up to elections early next month and the Kabul Serena Hotel, which opened in 2005, was considered a safe place to stay.

Thursday night’s attack, which left nine people dead, including two Canadians, was a result of a lapse in security measures, not infrastructure.

READ MORE: Vancouver doctor killed in Taliban attack in Afghanistan

The Kabul Serena Hotel was constructed with security in mind.

Romesh Khosla, a Montreal-based architect with Arcop Architecture Inc., designed the five-star hotel – a collaboration with the Aga Khan Development Network, an Ismaili aid and business development organization that has a close relationship with the Canadian government.

Khosal was tasked with designing the $25-million, 177-room facility at the site of a former hotel built in 1945.

The exterior of the Kabul Serena Hotel.

Via Arcop Architecture Inc.

He said the pre-existing building had been bombed, but Aga Khan wanted to ensure the historical structure remained.

“That facade became a problem from a security point of view,” Khosal said, describing how the design for the Serena would need to be adjusted to ensure the safety of future guests.

“This particular facade was on the main road facing a bank building on the other side and part of the presidential palace.”

Khosal explained there is a two-story wall around much of the complex and the lobby, which is in the old building, was set back from the road.

The hotel complex itself is surrounded by roads on three sides.

“We kept the buildings away from the main roads because there are roads on three sides of the buildings. The fourth side [was] an abandoned building but none of the rooms are opening [onto] that side. The other two sides, there were no rooms opening onto the main roads,” he said.

The courtyards surrounding the hotel – a large one in front and linear ones along the sides – also served to keep the guest areas a safe distance away from the roads.

A courtyard at the Kabul Serena Hotel.

Via Acrop Architecture Inc.

The buildings themselves were constructed with reinforced concrete, both for security reasons and to deal with Afghanistan’s hot summer weather and freezing winter cold.

“From an external attack point of view, I think we [were] reasonably successful,” Khosal said.

Thursday’s attack happened after four gunmen entered the hotel, passing through security checks with small pistols in their socks. They then sat in the restaurant, where many people were enjoying a special dinner for Norwuz – the Persian New Year – for three hours before opening fire on hotel guests.

Four men with pistols stuffed in their socks attacked the hotel in Kabul on Thursday, opening fire in a restaurant killing at least nine people, including four foreigners, officials said.

Anja Niedringhaus/AP Photo

There were security measures in place that were supposed to prevent such an attack from happening. But, Khosal said, because of the hotel’s high profile, it was always expected to be a target.

Those that stayed there, despite it being considered safer than other establishments, were well aware there would always be some risk.

READ MORE: Calgarian among 2 Canadians killed in Taliban attack on Kabul hotel

The Serena’s guests were subject to strict security checks. Clients included foreign diplomats, aid workers, international delegations – such as those in the country to observe the April 5 election – and journalists.

A crew from Global’s The West Block with Tom Clark stayed at the hotel earlier this month while covering the official end of Canada’s 12-year military mission in the country.

The West Block‘s executive producer Jennifer Madigan said there was always “a mixed message” about the Serena.

“The Serena is the safest hotel, but it’s a permanent target,” she said Friday.

She said to even get into the hotel, guests travelling in a vehicle are subjected to three levels of checks.

READ MORE: Afghanistan could slip back into Taliban control if global support drops: ambassador

“First of all, if you go in by vehicle you have to have your vehicle registered with the hotel – make, model and licence plate,” she explained. “They do a mirror check underneath your vehicle. You then have to get out, they open the hood and they get a bomb-sniffing dog to go through your vehicle. [Then] you go into this other area… an enclosed area with big steel doors on either side, where they check your vehicle by infrared.”

That’s not all. Guests then have to take all of their belongings out of the vehicle and put it through an X-ray machine, then pass through a metal detector and get a pat down.

Madigan said this was the process each time you went into the hotel.

But, she said colleagues have told her the pat downs weren’t always thorough or consistent.

There were additional armed security officials inside the hotel and snipers that patrolled the roof of the structure.

“Other than that, it was a regular hotel,” Madigan said. “[But] it’s not like staying at any hotel necessarily.

“We picked garden facing rooms, so that if there was a suicide blast on the outside we were that much safer. I’ve never picked a room like that.”

Madigan said it was “chilling” to hear the news of Thursday’s assault, having been there just last week, but it didn’t come as a total shock.

She said the security measures were impressive, but it only took one lapse or someone letting their guard down for something terrible to happen.

©2014Shaw Media

Toronto Morning: What you need to know today – Toronto

TORONTO – Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement for much of Southern Ontario including the Greater Toronto Area as a mix of snow and rain makes its way through the area Friday.

The weather service says the City of Toronto could see as much as 2 to 4 centimetres of snow by this evening.

Story continues below

HangZhou Night Net

Current indications suggest that precipitation for most regions extending from southern Lake Huron to the Golden Horseshoe would begin tonight with snow or freezing rain mixed with ice pellets.

WEATHER

Clearing this morning. Wind west 20 km/h becoming light this morning. High 6. UV index 4 or moderate.

More on current weather conditions and a 7-day forecast. 

To get real-time weather for your area, download the Global News Skytracker weather app.

TRAFFIC AND TRANSIT

Roads: Click for the latest Toronto traffic.

Mass Transit: Click for TTC and GO Transit Updates.

Sports:

March Madness:

Tyler Ennis of Brampton, Ont. led the Syracuse Orange to a 77-53 victory over Western Michigan in their opening game of March Madness on Thursday.

IN THE NEWS…

A man is fighting to survive after a crash in Scarborough overnight.

Don’t worry Ontario voters: you’re in safe hands with the All-State Liberal government. That’s seems to be the message Premier Kathleen Wynne is sending ahead of a possible spring election: stick to the status quo.

Search planes flying deep into the southern Indian Ocean have found nothing so far that could be from the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, Australia’s acting prime minister said Friday.

Four men with pistols stuffed in their socks attacked a luxury hotel in Kabul, opening fire in a restaurant and killing nine people, including four foreigners, officials said Friday.

Global News’ Carolyn MacKenzie will be honoured by District 60 Toastmasters International for her achievement in the field of Communication and Leadership.

ALSO COMING UP TODAY…

Gary Goodyear, minister of State (FedDev Ontario) participates in an announcement on Ottawa’s commitment to invest in the Canadian Armed Forces and bolster economic growth. (10 a.m. at Kodiak Group Holdings Company, 415 Thompson Dr.)

Superheroes Superman, Spider-man and Wolverine will clean the windows of Lakeridge Health. (11 a.m. at 1 Hospital Court, Oshawa)

Social justice activist and Stephen Lewis Foundation Senior Advisor Joe Cressy will be joined by City Councillor Mike Layton and NDP Federal Council women’s representative Ausma Malik, to launch his campaign seeking the federal NDP nomination for Trinity-Spadina. (6 p.m. at Paupers Pub, 539 Bloor St. W.)

The 2014 Ontario Liberal Party annual general meeting. Through March 23. (Metro Toronto Convention Centre, 255 Front St. W.)

Do you have any suggestions for our Toronto morning roundup? Reach us via email at [email protected]杭州夜网, on 桑拿会所 or on Facebook.

Wynne to voters: you’re in safe hands with the All-State Liberal government – Toronto

TORONTO – Don’t worry Ontario voters: you’re in safe hands with the All-State Liberal government.

That seems to be the message Premier Kathleen Wynne is sending ahead of a possible spring election: stick to the status quo.

“Safe hands and a steady balance” is the phrase she’s using – a slogan perhaps better suited for an insurance company than a government fighting for its life.

Story continues below

HangZhou Night Net

But Wynne gets more fired up when it comes to attacking her opponents, saying Ontario can’t afford to experiment with the “reckless” and “radical” right-wing Tories or the “untested,” anti-business New Democrats when the economic recovery is still fragile.

The Liberals are painting an apocalyptic picture of the province under the Tories’ rule – an all-out war with labour unions and workers with no retirement income security or fair wages.

The NDP have no plan on any of the issues and “are just relying on some bumper-sticker slogans,” Labour Minister Yasir Naqvi, a former party president, said Friday.

“You can’t govern a province or grow an economy that way.”

The Liberals’ approach to economic and job growth is guided by “fairness, balance and stability,” he added.

Wynne’s message echoes the successful slogans of her predecessor Dalton McGuinty, whose steady-hand-at-the-tiller message saw him through three election victories.

Yet Wynne has also been trying to distance herself from McGuinty and the scandals that plagued his government since she became premier just over a year ago.

The Liberals say their policies offer security, but they want voters to pay sky-high premiums, say the opposition parties.

Their “safe hands” are the ones that are driving up energy prices and saddled ratepayers with the estimated $1-billion cost of cancelling two unpopular gas plants – one in the dying days of the 2011 election campaign, said the NDP.

There are two criminal investigations underway, one into deleted emails related to the gas plants and another into the suspicious business activities of Ornge, the province’s publicly funded air ambulance service.

“If that’s the steady hand of who you want running this province, God help us all,” said Progressive Conservative Jane McKenna.

The Liberals are making every effort this weekend to prepare for a tight race that may be just around the corner if they can’t secure support for their spring budget.

The convention, which started Friday and will wind down on Sunday, is focused on getting the party faithful ready for a campaign.

The Liberals’ campaign leaders are expected to talk to an estimated 1,000 delegates about their strategy for the next election battle. They’ll also get an update about consultations on the party’s platform.

The training workshops will focus on routine tasks such as planning for election day, fundraising effectively, communications, organizing and recruiting volunteers and rural campaign strategies.

The latter will be important, as Wynne has been making every effort to erase the perception that her party is too Toronto-centric.

The proposed selloff of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission and the slow development of the potentially lucrative Ring of Fire chromite deposit has turned off voters in northern Ontario.

Closed factories, layoffs at embattled BlackBerry, government cuts to the horse-racing industry and anger over wind turbines have also fuelled discontent in the south.

Wynne’s determination to find billions of dollars to pay for a massive public transit expansion in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area hasn’t helped either, raising fears in small communities that the much-needed cash for bridges and roads will be diverted to subways they don’t use.

They’re also facing troubles in urban ridings, with the New Democrats breaking Liberal strongholds in Niagara Falls and London West in byelections.

The Liberals say Wynne’s leadership style will win out in the end. But the Tories say voters won’t forgive those Liberal mistakes.

Wynne can’t wash her hands of the scandals when she was sitting at the cabinet table at the time, said Progressive Conservative Vic Fedeli.

“This is a government that’s plagued by scandal, brought on by themselves,” he said.

©2014The Canadian Press

Brampton’s Ennis leads Syracuse past Western Michigan in March Madness opener – Toronto

BUFFALO, N.Y. – The mini basketball nets that hang all over Tyler Ennis’s home in Brampton, Ont., have taken a beating over the years.

In a family of six athletic kids, everything becomes a competition.

The 19-year-old Ennis led the Syracuse Orange to a 77-53 victory over Western Michigan in their opening game of March Madness on Thursday, running the offence with a quiet confidence developed over years of playing alongside two bruising older brothers.

Story continues below

HangZhou Night Net

“Very competitive,” dad Tony McIntyre said of his kids. “Those Fisher Price nets, and the ones you hang on the door, they’d break those off. Then you’d hammer them into the ceiling in the basement. They’d break those.

“It would get heated. You’d have to break up fights. Out on the street when they’d play two-on-two or one-on-one, someone would always end up upset and kicking the ball down the street.”

Ennis, who led Syracuse to a No. 3 seed and the school’s 37th berth in the NCAA tournament, scored 16 points and doled out six assists in Thursday’s resounding victory at First Niagara Center.

Ennis’s 22-year-old brother Dylan – a sophomore guard at Villanova – was scheduled to play later Thursday in Buffalo when the Wildcats took on Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Tyler Ennis, one of a crop of rising Canadian stars playing in March Madness, led the Orange to a 25-0 start to this season and the No. 1 ranking in the NCAA for three consecutive weeks, before the Orange lost five of seven games down the regular-season stretch.

But with the rookie Canadian point guard running the offence, the Orange dominated from the outset in their tournament opener versus No. 14 Western Michigan. Eighty seconds after tipoff, Ennis stole the ball and fed Jerami Grant for a massive dunk for Syracuse’s first points, serving notice of the carnage to come.

“We had great energy and that’s a key for us going forward,” Ennis said. “We’ve got to play intense and play a full 40 minutes, and everybody was kind of locked in for that.”

Ennis wasn’t the only Canadian to figure prominently on a day that began with the playing of both the U.S. and Canadian anthems (a few puzzled journalists grumbled openly about the latter).

Dyshawn Pierre of Whitby, Ont., scored 12 points and grabbed a game-high eight rebounds to lift Dayton to a 60-59 win, setting up a third-round meeting between Ennis and Pierre, former club teammates.

“I think a lot of people recognize how much we have contributed to our teams. . . 25 guys in the tournament, that’s a big step for us going forward, to not only play on Division 1 teams, but also to contribute,” Ennis said.

If Thursday’s jam-packed border crossing was any indication, there were plenty of Canadian fans among the mostly orange-clad crowd of 19,260.

“Playing in Buffalo, this is probably the closest we could get,” Ennis said. “To have everybody here, to have Syracuse fans but also Canadians, it’s a great feeling to know everybody is behind you.”

Ennis, who’s on this week’s regional cover of Sports Illustrated, is the third oldest in a family full of basketball players. His oldest brother Brandon is graduating this year from the University of the District of Columbia.

McIntyre coached the boys on their AAU team – CIA Bounce – that included Kansas Jayhawks star Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett, last year’s No. 1 NBA draft pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“They’ve put a lot of work in,” McIntyre said of his sons. “We sat down when they were young and this was what they wanted to do. So as a parent, you have to let them chase their dream.”

Ennis, touted as a first-round NBA draft pick this season, has played most of his life with older players, and from the outset he loved being the facilitator on the floor, setting up plays, helping others score.

“It’s given him that quiet confidence that he can go even at a younger age and still be an integral part and get people involved,” McIntyre said.

He can also score. At the FIBA under-19 world championships last summer, Ennis was the tournament’s top scorer.

When he was left out of last year’s McDonald’s All American Game – the U.S. marquee high school all-star event that boasts a star-studded alumni including Michael Jordan and LeBron James – he famously went out and dropped 53 points for his St. Benedict’s Prep high school in New Jersey. He did that an hour after his coach learned of the snub.

“All the ability is there,” said Rowan Barrett, assistant GM of Canada’s men’s program. “And a competitive fire. And a ton of humility as well.”

The family, said McIntyre, is as tight as it is competitive. The kids watch each other’s games when they can. They try to speak every day.

McIntyre organizes family chats via instant messenger.

“We’re really close so, so we have a chat every single day. . . seeing when they practise and who’s doing what at school, and who played well. . . just trying to share experiences so they can help each other through,” McIntyre said.

The family was thrilled to see two teams play in one city after a winter spent traversing northeastern United States.

McIntyre and his wife Suzette Ennis-McIntyre attended most of the boys’ home games. Syracuse is about a four-hour drive from Brampton, and it’s also on the way to Villanova in Philadelphia.

“So there were times when I could take a couple of days off work, get a game in Syracuse, go to Villanova and get a game or two, and on the way back get a game in Syracuse again,” McIntyre said.

“Or I would go there and my wife would drop me off and she’d keep driving down to Philadelphia and go watch Dylan and then the next week I would drop her off in Syracuse and go down and watch Dylan.

“So we tried to split it evenly as much as we could in terms of getting out to both of their games, and making sure we were supporting them.”

There are two younger sisters – Brittany, who’s 15 and 10-year-old Dominique – who both play basketball.

And four-year-old Tyylon likes to think he does.

“He turns on the TV and sees his brothers on TV and he’ll go on the iPad and download videos off YouTube and watch those,” McIntyre said, laughing. “We have a net downstairs so whatever they do on the videos he does on the nets.

“We always ask him ‘Who do you play for?’ Every single days he says Villanova or Syracuse. Or he’s Anthony Bennett or Andrew Wiggins.”

Thursday’s game might as well have been a home affair for Syracuse. The packed arena was a sea of orange. Fans wore masks of legendary coach Jim Boeheim.

The Orange forced 11 turnovers in the opening half and scored 13 points off them in running out to a double-digit lead before the midpoint of the period against Western Michigan, which was making its first NCAA tournament appearance in a decade. Syracuse used an 18-4 spurt over 10 minutes to take control and led 40-21 at halftime.

“We ran into a buzz saw today,” WMU coach Steve Hawkins said.

Ennis is looking forward to facing Pierre, his former CIA Bounce teammate on Saturday.

“I think it’ going to be a really good game,” Ennis said. “They play hard, they’re deep and I think Dyshawn is one of the best players they have, so going forward we have to key in on him and keep him off the boards as much as possible.”

Ennis is a finalist for the Bob Cousy award as the best point guard in the country, and is one of 15 finalists for the Wooden Award for the NCAA’s top player, a list that includes Wiggins and Michigan sharpshooter Nik Stauskas of Mississauga, Ont.

While plenty has been made of a potential Ennis-Wiggins battle in the Sweet 16 in Memphis, Ennis downplayed the possibility Thursday.

“I try not to think too far, anything could happen, there could be upsets. . .,” he said. “It would be a great opportunity, and it’d be fun, but you can’t think that far ahead.”

Ennis averaged 12.7 points, 5.6 assists and 2.1 steals per game in the regular season, becoming the only freshman to ever lead the ACC in assists and steals. He was ninth in the NCAA in assist/turnover ratio.

©2014THE CANADIAN PRESS