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Canada Evening Update: Vancouver moves to expropriate Sahota buildings; Zimbabwe’s first post-Mugabe election

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Vancouver is moving to expropriate two Sahota-owned rental buildings

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The city has filed notice with the Sahota family that it is beginning to take steps to seize ownership of the Balmoral and Regent single-room occupancy hotels in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Both properties were shuttered by the city in the past year after decades of mismanagement and underinvestment. The move comes after the city’s purchase proposal was met with no response from the Sahotas, who own a local real estate empire of rundown rental units estimated at over $200-million. A recent Globe and Mail investigation highlighted the miserable living conditions in the Regent and Balmoral.

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Ontario’s PC government has introduced legislation to cut the size of Toronto city council

The bill would cut council seats from 47 to 25, matching Toronto municipal wards with provincial and federal ridings. It would also extend the nomination period for those seeking a council seat to mid-September, and cancel a number of regional chair elections in the province. Toronto city council, meanwhile, is weighing whether to mount a legal challenge to Premier Doug Ford’s move. Mayor John Tory said he’s open to “examining and pursuing” all legal options.

Lawyer David Butt argues that the city should go to court over Ford’s proposal: “Democracy is the guiding principle animating our constitution, and the government of Ontario’s proposal to truncate democracy for three million souls without prior consultation is a dangerous blow to that guiding principle. Toronto should launch a court challenge against the proposal. Courts have recognized the duty to consult before, and will do so again. Independent judges, sworn to uphold the constitution, must rule on the provincial plan, because the vibrancy of Canadian democracy is at stake.”

Funerals were held today for the two young victims killed in the Toronto mass shooting

Eighteen-year-old Reese Fallon and 10-year-old Julianna Kozis were laid to rest in separate services. Kozis, an outgoing and athletic child, was on a family outing on Danforth Avenue when she was caught in the gunfire. Fallon was killed while enjoying a night out with friends, just months before she was set to start studying nursing at McMaster University.

Among those in attendance at Fallon’s funeral were Ontario Deputy Premier Christine Elliott and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “I just wanted to tell those young people, and everyone who is grieving and mourning that our loved ones, particularly extraordinary, beautiful ones like the two girls we lost, will be with us forever,” Trudeau said after laying flowers at a makeshift memorial, following the funeral.

Vote counting is under way in Zimbabwe’s first election since Robert Mugabe’s ouster

The two main contenders vying to lead the country after 37 years of Mugabe rule are 75-year-old Emmerson Mnangagwa and 40-year-old Nelson Chamisa. Mnangagwa, a former intelligence chief, took over as president following the military’s removal of Mugabe in November of last year. But while Mnangagwa was a long-time Mugabe ally, the former president said he would vote for the opposition. A credible vote process will be key as the country looks to get international sanctions lifted to help kickstart its weakened economy.


A broad sell-off of technology stocks pushed all three major U.S. stock indexes lower on Monday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 144.23 points, or 0.57 per cent, to 25,306.83, the S&P 500 lost 16.21 points, or 0.58 per cent, to 2,802.61 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 107.42 points, or 1.39 per cent, to 7,630.00. This was the Nasdaq Composite’s third consecutive loss of more than 1 per cent for the first time in three years just days after hitting a record high. In Toronto, the S&P/TSX composite index closed down 0.3 per cent, or 48.48 points, to 16,345.47 despite a 0.6-per-cent rise in energy stocks.

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Jarome Iginla has announced his retirement from the NHL

Iginla announced his retirement in Calgary, the city where he spent 16 of his 20 seasons in the league. He’s the Flames’ all-time leader in goals, points and games played, and was the team captain for his last decade in Calgary. While he never won the cup, the 41-year-old became a fan-favourite in Calgary and also assisted in the legendary gold-medal-winning goal by Sidney Crosby in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.


Should we make drug use illegal, or make it safer?

“In recent years, there has actually been a rollback of harm reduction measures as more countries embrace criminalization and repression. Yet we know that prohibition is a costly failure. People like to get high for a variety of reasons – to relax, to self-medicate, for ritualistic purposes. They always have and always will. The war on drugs has always been about trade and politics, trying to control and contain a lucrative market, and an excuse for political interference. We need to stop treating drug users like commodities to be controlled and contained, and start treating them like people who need to be supported and informed. The war on people has gone on long enough.” – André Picard

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The Blue Jays are being run more like a political party than a baseball franchise

“As we stagger toward the end of another lost season, it’s becoming clear that the Jays' leadership operates with one goal in mind — maintaining the leadership. The team is run more like a political party in power than a baseball franchise. You might call it the Parliament Hill-style of sports management. (This is quite distinct from the current Queen’s Park style, which would involve eliminating the half of the roster you don’t like and fielding a team of five players.) Full credit to two Americans – club president Mark Shapiro and general manager Ross Atkins — for mastering local customs so adeptly.” – Cathal Kelly

Trump’s toxic lies are quickly poisoning us all

“At a critical moment in Elf, the greatest Christmas movie ever made, the titular elf played by Will Ferrell confronts a department-store Santa who is clearly not the real Santa: “You sit on a throne of lies,” Buddy hisses, before ersatz Santa tackles him and proves his unsuitability for the job. At this moment, all of America – at least the part that hasn’t drunk the tribal Kool-Aid – is Buddy, and the throne of lies is occupied by a man who was the first Republican since Dwight Eisenhower to win the state of Wisconsin in a presidential election. Except, wait: Donald Trump wasn’t the first Republican since Dwight Eisenhower to win the state of Wisconsin. It’s just a lie he likes to tell, over and over. Trump lies so frequently, and with such gusto, that there are now lexicographical debates about how to classify his lies.” – Elizabeth Renzetti (for subscribers)


Leslie Beck’s summer fruit smackdown: Sweet vs. tart cherries

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It’s the best time of year to buy locally grown cherries, whether you’re fond of the sweet or tart variety. Studies have found both kinds may help prevent attacks of gout, a form of arthritis. Both sweet and tart cherries are excellent sources of anthocyanins, but sweet cherries contain more than tart cherries. Sweet cherries are also a good source of fibre, while tart cherries have a very low glycemic index value — a measure that indicates they can leave you feeling energized longer.


Syrian refugee, fisherman’s friend: How a retiring couple found a new heir to their Lake Ontario business

Less than a year ago, Slieman al-Jasem had never cleaned a fish. Now, he’s the protégé of a veteran Great Lakes fisherman trying to keep a Prince Edward County processing operation alive. “It has never been a conventional employer-employee relationship,” Kendall Dewey says. “It’s like having another son.”

The U.S. economy is on a tear. How long can it last?

Unemployment across the country hovers around 4 per cent, near its lowest level since the turn of the century. While the prosperity surge is great news for Americans, it’s a particularly sweet development for Donald Trump. As the U.S. heads toward crucial mid-term elections in November, Trump and other Republicans are pointing to galloping growth and a drum-tight jobs market as proof of their skill in managing the economy. But is that really true? Independent, non-partisan observers such as the Congressional Budget Office are skeptical the current boom will endure. (for subscribers)

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