Monthly Archives: September 2019

Saint-Lambert residents support limited religious institutions: mayor

WATCH ABOVE: Raw footage of the municipal council in Saint-Lambert Wednesday night.

SAINT-LAMBERT – It seems there won’t be new religious institutions setting up in Saint-Lambert anytime soon.

The city’s municipal council met Wednesday night to consider their contentious zoning proposal to limit the number of religious institutions.

READ MORE: ‘Discriminatory and unconstitutional’: religious groups react to Saint-Lambert zoning decision

According to Mayor Alain Dépatie, the majority of citizens support the proposal, which would limit the number of zones open to religious institutions to nine – down from the previous 19.

WATCH: Saint-Lambert zoning laws hurt religious groups

Eight of those zones are already occupied by Christian institutions.

The mayor said the city is simply reviewing its zoning regulations and defended itself against accusations of discrimination.

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    Saint-Lambert zoning laws hurt religious groups


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Banks not ready to meet customer needs for mobile payments: report

TORONTO – A new report from CenturyLink suggests that some of the highest-level executives at Canadian banks believe their companies may not be ready to meet the mobile banking needs of their customers.

CenturyLink surveyed 50 high level or C-suite executives from financial services institutions about how customer needs are changing in light of the digital revolution.

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Nearly half – 46 per cent – of respondents said they did not think their company had the IT infrastructure, systems and processes in place to meet customer demands for mobile payments.

And 40 per cent said they didn’t think their companies had the IT infrastructure to satisfy client expectations even for core banking services.

CenturyLink, a global communications and technology company, conducted telephone interviews with the executives between May 1 and 13.

The entrance of technology companies into the financial services space has been the subject of heated discussion among banking executives in recent months.

Chief executives of some of Canada’s biggest banks have commented during their annual general meetings about the need to adapt or risk losing market share to new entrants.

Online peer-to-peer lenders threaten to snatch customers from the banks, while tech giants such as Apple and Google have launched mobile payment processors that could weaken the relationship between banks and their clients.

Royal Bank’s chief executive, Dave McKay, has stressed the need to work with early-stage financial technology companies in order to thrive in an increasingly digital world.

TD Bank CEO Bharat Masrani has urged financial regulators to introduce rules governing the new entrants, which are not subject to the same regulations that banks and other financial institutions must adhere to. That gives them an unfair advantage and could threaten the stability of the country’s financial system, Masrani said.

Meanwhile, CIBC CEO Victor Dodig has said that reports about technology companies snatching market share away from the banks are overblown.

“Will clients move in droves to these new technology platforms to do their lending? I don’t think so. It won’t happen that quickly,” Dodig said in an interview following his speech to the Empire Club of Canada in June.

Roji Oommen, managing director of financial services at CenturyLink, says mammoth institutions like banks tend to be slow to adapt to change.

“They’re very good at very carefully deploying technology, very slowly and risk adversely, over a multi-year program,” Oommen said.

“In the mobile space, you need to be able to move much quicker. Your customers are being spoiled by Google and Apple and the like, and the expectation is that you need to adapt very quickly.”

Oommen said that if banks don’t improve their online user experience, their ability to sell consumer credit products, car loans and mortgages may become diminished.

“To improve customer lifetime profitability, the art of cross-sell is really important,” Oommen said. “The risk is that they will be relegated to a segment of the industry where they’re handling savings and chequing accounts, which is the low margin stuff.”

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UN refugee agency chief in Jordan ties growing aid crisis to migration to Europe

AMMAN, Jordan – The influx of refugees to Europe was triggered in part by donors taking the “cheap option” and not giving enough aid to displaced Syrians in Middle Eastern asylum countries, the head of the U.N. refugee agency in Jordan said in an interview.

Andrew Harper also called on Jordan to speed up security vetting for Syrian refugees, who must wait for weeks in a remote desert area during the process. “It’s not a place where anyone should have to be,” he told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

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Harper’s comments reflected the growing frustration of those aiding more than 4 million Syrian refugees in host countries such as Jordan and Lebanon. Severely underfunded aid groups have had to slash food and cash support in recent months, leading to growing desperation.

Harper said refugees feel betrayed by the international community and the aid agencies. This, he said, “is a reason why we are seeing movement back into Syria, and in many cases, movements continue on into Europe and further afield.”

“The smartest move would have been for Europe and the Gulf states and everyone to provide more support to countries like Jordan and Lebanon two or three years ago when we were asking for it,” he said.

“(The donors) sought the cheap option which was to provide us with peanuts in order to deal with the worst humanitarian situation for decades,” he added.

The U.N. refugee agency has a funding shortfall of 50 per cent, or $500 million, for the Syria crisis this year, he said.

Harper said resettlement in Europe will only make a small dent and the international community must do more to help the millions who remain in the Middle Eastern asylum countries and displaced inside Syria.

“It just makes sense, for no other reason than that it is more cost-effective to address humanitarian needs in countries of asylum, such as Jordan and Lebanon, than it is to deal with them once they get to Europe,” he said.

The agency chief said he believes migration from regional hotspots – Iraq, Yemen and Libya in addition to Syria – will only increase.

“No one in the world is going to be isolated (from) this,” he said. “When you’ve got millions of people who have been bombed, who have been impoverished and who have got no future, they will move to all corners of the world.”

The European Union is imploring member countries to better share the burden of refugees flooding the continent, but the numbers being discussed are small compared with the half-million who have already arrived and hundreds of thousands more on their way.

Many refugees hope to settle in wealthy nations like Germany and Sweden and the EU is struggling find a more equitable solution that would also send a fair share of refugees to less-desirable and less-welcoming places such as Slovakia and the Baltics.

Meanwhile, Harper noted that Jordan has increased restrictions for Syrians wanting to enter Jordan and called on authorities to speed up the entry process.

Jordan hosts about 630,000 Syrian refugees, who now make up about 10 per cent of the country’s population.

Jordan’s formal crossings with Syria are closed and it funnels refugees through informal passages in an eastern desert area. They are kept waiting, often for weeks, near a berm in a remote area just inside Jordan, and only several dozen per day are permitted to move deeper into the kingdom after security checks.

Harper said that while Jordan has legitimate security concerns about extremists, it should expedite the screening and move it from the desert to recognized refugee camps.

There are “hundreds, if not more, women, children, elderly and sick we need to prioritize,” he said, adding that those waiting lack proper shelter or sanitation.

Brig. Gen. Saber al-Mahayreh, the commander of Jordan’s Border Guard, said the military is allowing refugees to enter according to a set of priorities.

“They come in every day and we let them enter. Maybe we can’t let all of them come in at one time,” he told reporters in a briefing at his headquarters Thursday. He did not respond to questions about hundreds being forced to wait in the desert.

Harper also called on Jordan to consider issuing work permits for 50,000 to 100,000 Syrian refugees so they can be less dependent on aid.

Jordan has restricted labour rights for refugees, fearing a rise in high domestic unemployment. Harper noted that tens of thousands of Syrians already work illegally. The refugees, many of them skilled, are willing to do manual labour that is traditionally shunned by Jordanians and currently performed by migrant workers.

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Class action lawsuit launched against Hydro One alleging bad billing practices

TORONTO – A class action lawsuit has been launched against Hydro One claiming customers were victims of a new billing system brought in by the utility.

The statement of claim, filed Wednesday in Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice, alleges widespread billing problems after Hydro One introduced the new management system in May 2013.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Bill Bennett, a Gravenhurst, Ont., resident is the proposed plaintiff in the suit who allegedly experienced numerous billing issues including unexplained increases in cost.

The claim says Bennett, for example, received an envelope from Hydro One in April 2015 that contained nearly 40 revised bills for a four-year period that represented about a 185 per cent increase in the cost of his electricity bills.

Daffyd Roderick, the director of corporate affairs with Hydro One, says he cannot comment as the matter is before the courts. The suit is claiming damages for $125-million.

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10 ridings the Liberals need to win to get out of 3rd place

Over the past week, the polls have been kind to the Liberal Party.

The seat projections? Not quite as much.

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As the federal election campaign passes the halfway point, the Conservatives, NDP, and Liberals are still deadlocked in a three-way race. And while multiple polls now show the Liberals inching ahead of the Conservatives into second place nationally, most experts seem to think it wouldn’t guarantee them the second highest amount of seats.

Analysis by the Laurier Institute for the Study of Public Opinion and Policy (LISPOP) projects the Liberals to win 103 seats, compared to 106 for the Conservatives and 128 for the NDP.

See the LISPOP map below: 


Click to explore the latest seat projections in your riding

Leaning Conservative
Leaning Liberal
Leaning NDP
Bloc Québécois
Leaning Bloc Québécois
Too Close to Call

Note: “Leaning” indicates a 5% to 10% lead. “Too Close to Call” indicates a difference under 5%. Courtesy of Lispop杭州丝足.

Over the last decade, the Liberals have lost support in suburban Ontario to the Conservatives, and support in Quebec and Toronto to the NDP. So while their vote is fairly evenly distributed across the country, there are few seats where they’re expected to win by a blowout.

So if the Liberals were to get out of third place this election, where would their wins be?

If you look at the polls, it wouldn’t come from seats in Quebec or rural Ontario that the party won in the Jean Chretien era.

Instead, it would come from dominating in Canada’s biggest cities—Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and others—which have become more valuable than ever after the addition of 30 new seats.

Here are 10 seats from coast to coast where a Liberal victory would likely be part of a bigger wave for the party.

1. Cumberland—Colchester

Riding boundaries for the electoral district of Cumberland-Colchester

Elections Canada

2011 result (based on current boundaries): 3rd place, 18.4%
Current LISPOP projection: Too close to call

Outside of Cape Breton Island and Scott Brison’s riding of Kings-Hants, it’s been a while since the Liberals were competitive in rural Nova Scotia, but they have their eyes set on Cumberland—Colchester, where they finished a distant third in 2011 to CPC MP Scott Armstrong.

The biggest reason for their high hopes? Their candidate, the popular former MP Bill Casey. He served as a Progressive Conservative MP in this area from 1988 to 1993 and again from 1997 to 2003. He was re-elected as a Conservative MP in 2004 and 2006, left the party in 2007—but still won in the 2008 election as independent.

He retired in 2009, and is now attempting a political comeback as a Liberal.

If Casey wins here, it likely means the party swept most of Atlantic Canada, giving them a large buffer when election results come in from the rest of the country.

2. Dorval—Lachine—LaSalle

Riding boundaries for the electoral district of Dorval-Lachine-LaSalle

Elections Canada

2011 result (new seat, but based on results in polling stations within the boundaries): 2nd place, 29.4%
Current LISPOP projection: Leaning NDP

The Liberals were only able to win seven seats on the island of Montreal last election, their worst result in modern Canadian history. Getting out of third place means restoring their historical dominance here, especially on the west side of the island, and it comes from wins in ridings like Dorval—Lachine—LaSalle.

It’s in an area the Liberals had only lost once in the last 50 years prior to 2011. Neither their candidate, lawyer Anju Dhillon, or the NDP incumbent, Isabelle Morin, is particularly high-profile.

If the polls hold, the NDP are expected to hold onto a vast majority of their newly-gained seats in Quebec, but Dorval—Lachine—LaSalle is one the Liberals believe they can take.

3. Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Soeurs

Riding boundaries for the electoral district of Ville-Marie-Le Sud-Ouest-Île-des-Soeurs

Elections Canada

2011 result (based on current boundaries): 2nd place, 27.5%
Current LISPOP projection: NDP

Another Montreal riding in an area the Liberals have traditionally dominated, this new riding combines bits of Jeanne-Le Ber, Westmount—Ville-Marie, Laurier—Sainte-Marie and Outremont. There is no incumbent in this riding, which will likely come down to a battle of the lawyers—Allison Turner for the NDP, and Marc Miller for the Liberals.

4. Brampton Centre

Riding boundaries for the electoral district of Brampton Centre

Elections Canada

2011 result (new seat, but based on results in polling stations within the boundaries): 2nd place, 25.4%
Current LISPOP projection: Too close to call

Between 1993 and 2008, the Liberals won every single seat contested in Brampton. In 2011, they lost all three seats.

Thanks to redistribution, Brampton now has five electoral districts, and the Liberals are optimistic they can win every one. Perhaps their biggest challenge will come in this new riding, where lawyer and immigration consultant Ramesh Sangha goes up against Conservative MP Bal Gosal.

Had this seat existed in the last election, the Conservatives would have taken it by 21 per cent more votes than the Liberals. Simply put, if the Liberals can pull off a victory here, it bodes well for their chances in the rest of Brampton, Mississauga, and scores of other ridings in the “905” belt.

5. Scarborough Southwest

Riding boundaries for the electoral district of Scarborough Southwest

Elections Canada

2011 result (based on current boundaries): 3rd place, 29.3%
Current LISPOP projection: Too close to call

Another GTA riding expected to be a close three-way race on election night.

Similar to Brampton, the Liberals won every single seat in Scarborough from 1993 to 2008, but came away with just two of five in the 2011 election.

They’re hoping for a sweep of the now-six ridings on election day, and perhaps the most hotly-contested of them is Southwest Scarborough.

The biggest wild card? Whether former Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair—perhaps the Liberals’ highest profile new candidate in Ontario this election—helps or hurts the party in this diverse, working-class riding.

But much like a win in Brampton Centre over Gosal will mean a very good night for the Liberals throughout Brampton and Mississauga, a win in Scarborough Southwest over Harris will mean a good night in Scarborough.

6. Toronto Centre

Riding boundaries for the electoral district of Toronto Centre

Elections Canada

2011 result (based on current boundaries): 1st place, 39.4%
Current LISPOP projection: Too close to call

Both the NDP and Liberals will put considerable expenses into taking this prominent riding.

The southern half of Toronto has slowly moved from a Liberal to NDP stronghold in the last decade, but the Liberal party retains considerable strength in the area.

In Toronto Centre, they’re running Bill Morneau, a former chairman of the C.D. Howe Institute. The NDP are countering with Linda McQuaig, a high-profile author and journalist who lost here to Liberal MP Chrystia Freeland in a 2013 byelection.

However, the riding’s boundaries have shrunk and are now much more friendly to the NDP than before—had they been in effect in 2011, the Liberals would have won with 39.7 per cent, followed closely by the NDP with 36.5 per cent.

7. University-Rosedale

Riding boundaries for the electoral district of University-Rosedale

Elections Canada

2011 result (based on current boundaries): 2nd place, 30.6%
Current LISPOP projection: Leaning NDP

The other high-profile NDP-Liberal battle in the heart of Toronto is in University-Rosedale. Liberal MP Chrystia Freeland decided to run here rather than Toronto Centre after redistribution. She goes up against the NDP’s Jennifer Hollett, a former  journalist with a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard.

The riding includes both university students in the areas surrounding the University of Toronto, and some of Canada’s wealthiest families in Rosedale.

But between the new boundaries, the Liberals’ improved fortunes in Ontario (if you believe the polls), and the significant media attention Freeland has received in the last two years, it’s anyone’s guess who should be considered the favourite in University-Rosedale.

8. Calgary Centre

Riding boundaries for the electoral district of Calgary Centre

Elections Canada

2011 result (based on current boundaries): 2nd place, 17.5%
Current LISPOP projection: Leaning Conservative

With the NDP’s strength in Quebec and the Conservative’s strength in rural Ontario, it becomes most imperative for the Liberals to pick up some seats in western Canada, where they won just three ridings in 2011.

Their best chances will come in the centre of large cities. In Calgary Centre, the party is running former provincial MLA Kent Hehr, who was elected by comfortable margins in Calgary-Buffalo in both 2008 and 2011.

He goes up against Conservative MP Joan Crockatt, who eked out a tight 2012 byelection victory over the Liberals and Green Party.

A Liberal hasn’t won in Calgary since 1968, but the demographics of the city’s centre are rapidly changing, and this could be a riding where strategic voting plays a factor.

9. Edmonton Centre

Riding boundaries for the electoral district of Edmonton Centre

Elections Canada

2011 result (based on current boundaries): 3rd place, 22.4%
Current LISPOP projection: Leaning NDP

Popular Conservative MP Laurie Hawn is retiring, and all signs point to this being a tight three-way race on election day.

Anne McLellan held this riding for the Liberals from 1993 to 2004, and the party would like it back with Randy Boissonnault, a consultant and former journalist.

But it won’t come easy: the NDP dominated in Edmonton in this year’s provincial election, and are running a strong candidate in Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour. And the Conservatives are running a strong candidate as well in James Cumming, the former President & CEO of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce.

10. Vancouver Granville

Riding boundaries for the electoral district of Vancouver Granville

Elections Canada

2011 result (new seat, but based on results in polling stations within the boundaries): 2nd place, 30.1%
Current LISPOP projection: Leaning Liberal

A new riding in the centre of Vancouver, this is a difficult riding to project because of the many diverse neighbourhoods it includes, from the working-class Mt. Pleasant to the wealthy Shaughnessy.

The Liberals have been targeting this seat for some time, nominating former Assembly of First Nations B.C. regional chief Jody Wilson-Raybould last year.

The candidates she is up against are no pushovers: the Conservatives have nominated Erinn Broshko, managing director at Rand Investments, while the NDP have chosen Mira Oreck, director of public engagement at the Broadbent Institute, and someone who has been campaigning with NDP leader Tom Mulcair in high-profile events in Toronto.

But some analysts are projecting over 10 seats for the Liberals in British Columbia, which would be the most they’ve won in this province since 1968. If they’re to do that, they have to win in places like Vancouver-Granville, where they’ve had some traditional strength.

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