Category Archives: Canada

Ontario May Close 146 Schools in The Next 2 Years

Across Ontario 146 schools may lock their doors for good over the next two years. Those closings would effect more than 150,000 students according to a report by People for Education.
Low enrollment is the force before the proposed school closings. In the larger cities students get still be close to another school but in rural areas those closings could have a devastating impact and not just for the children.

The Globe and Mail reports:

“It can become an accelerating issue, where a small town loses people and services and if it loses its schools, fewer families want to move there,” said Annie Kidder.

“Do we say to a small town, ‘No, sorry, it’s just too expensive?”’

School enrollments have decreased since 2002 by 14 per cent.

In 2008 16 schools were closed. This will be the last year for another 34 schools slated to be closed.

The closing of a school often means another school will be getting more programs. The smallest schools do not have the funding that they need to have extra programs. This is a difficult issue for school boards.

Some northern Ontario schools have to deal with so little funding that science departments haven’t enough. Some areas are eliminating middle schools sending their Grade 7 students straight into a high school environment or putting the students back into a elementary school setting.

According to the report by People for Education 145 schools in Ontario are undergoing Accommodation reviews.

The most northern schools in Ontario have the smallest school populations. The optimal school size according to researchers is between 600 to 700 students in secondary schools and under 400 in primary schools. While schools with larger populations appear on paper to have more success by economical standards research has shown that graduation rates are higher when school populations are smaller. Students are also more engaged and tend to participate in activities more often at the smaller sized schools.

People for Education is an independent parent-led organization. The group researches and provides information about Ontario schools to the public. In a phone interview with Executive Director Annie Kidder Digital Journal asked about the group’s concerns.

“The school closings have an effect across the board. We need to think about the total community that is effected. The Providence understands that there is an issue. They are doing a lot of talking about it. They understand the importance that schools should act as their community’s hub.”

The largest number of school closings are in the rural areas of the province. The closings are affecting both the elementary and secondary schools in Ontario.


Search continues for Ontario teen Shane Fair

Shane Fair, 19, is missing. On May 16, 2009, the York University student attended a dinner and dance at Ontario Place in Toronto. He was last seen at 12:30 a.m. in the Lakeshore Boulevard West and British Columbia Road area.
Shane was supposed to leave the Calumet Formal at the Atlantis Pavilion on a bus returning to York University. He never made it. The police have interviewed Shane’s roommates.

On Friday a search party was unsuccessful at Ontario Place.

On Sunday his friends and family will search again starting at 1 p.m. at Parliament and Front Street.

The search tomorrow will focus on parks, homeless shelters, construction sites and areas common for “nightly activity” east of Yonge since there is a higher concentration of them and would be in line with the direction might have been heading in should he have been trying to walk home.

Shane is a reserve of the Canadian Armed Forces. He is white, about 5’11”, 170 lbs., with brown hair and a short Mohawk. When he went missing he was wearing a blue suit, blue shirt and blue tie.


Toronto Now a Star in Film, TV Productions

Toronto has long been a spot for film, turning the shots into whatever city is needed. New York, Chicago, Berlin – Toronto has been crafted into them. The tide is changing and now dramas are not only being shot in Toronto but the city is starring as well.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is being filmed in Toronto at the moment. Stars Michael Cera, Chris Evans and Brandon Routh can be spotted around town. A Starbucks on Spadina has served the young Cera a few times. One server who wishes not to be named told Digital Journal that the young star is friendly. While the spotting of the stars is nice for the city what’s more impressive is that Toronto is becoming the focus of many films.

Pizza Pizza can be seen as it really is. Casa Loma is featured as a real place in a battle scene. The spots that mean something to Torontonians are getting filmed as they are really known. Scott Pilgrim is a graphic novel set in Toronto.

Toronto can thank Hollywood writers for the nod to the city. Had it not been for the writer’s strike in 2007 Toronto may not be getting the recognition that it is now. When the writers in the States were striking Canadian shows started filtering onto US screens.

The Globe and Mail reports:

“Bathurst Street is practically the cerebral cortex of Scott Pilgrim,” said Miles Dale, one of the film’s producers, who stood at the back of the set wearing the de rigueur producer’s uniform of jeans, baseball cap and chin stubble. He also produced, among others, Hollywoodland (shot in Toronto but set in Los Angeles) and Talk to Me (shot in Toronto but set in Washington, D.C.). Mr. Dale calls Scott Pilgrim vs. the World – based on a series of graphic novels by Toronto writer Bryan Lee O’Malley – “the biggest movie ever identifiably set in Toronto. The books are super-specific in their local details, and Edgar Wright, from the beginning, was set on using images from the books. Universal never suggested setting it anywhere else.”

Atom Egoyan’s next film, Chloe, was meant to take place in San Francisco while being filmed in Toronto. The director convinced his French backers to switch the setting to Toronto. Because of that switch stars Julianne Moore, Liam Neeson and Amanda Seyfried are being filmed on McCaul Street, College Street, at the University of Toronto and other places around the city.

Flashpoint is a new hit TV show and also being filmed with Toronto as its backdrop. The Eaton Centre has been featured as well as other downtown spots.

Toronto has arrived. Being one of the Queen Bee’s for setting gives the city Hollywood clout.


Tara McDonald wants daugther’s killers to die

Tara McDonald, mother of the 8-year-old Tori Stafford who went missing, is speaking out about the arrests of two people in connection to her daughter’s abduction and murder. She says the police were too focused on her and not enough on the real culprits.
In an interview with The London Free Press newspaper, McDonald said, “My daughter’s not coming home. I want the killers dead. I know there are sick and twisted people in the world but I had no idea. I don’t want to sound selfish and I wish this on no one, but I sometimes think, why did it have to be my daughter?

“To think someone took my daughter and then … I can’t even think about it,” she said.

McDonald is angry about the treatment she says she and her son, 11, received from the police. At one point in the investigation, she said she was informed she was the prime suspect. She states that Daryn, her son, was interviewed without a parent or family member present.

McDonald’s ‘cool’ behaviour during the ordeal leading up to the arrests this week had critics pointing fingers at her. Local media and police questioned if the mother was the one behind Tori’s disappearance.

She faced the news cameras dry eyed, begging for her daughter’s return. The public wanted to see her tears. She fought them off until behind closed doors.

As she hoped for the safe return of her daughter, McDonald had to battle the public about everything from looking like the police composite to being in a biker gang. Both of those were false.

She also recently admitted she’s using methadone to fight her addiction to Oxycontin.

The Edmonton Sun reports:

“People have asked many times, ‘Why aren’t you crying, why aren’t you showing emotion?’ ” she said to counter the oft-mentioned criticism. “I don’t do it out here. I do it in there with my friends and family, with people who can console me.”

McDonald said she knew the mother of Terry-Lynne McClintic, 18, because of dog breeding. She had visited Carol McClintic at her home three times to discuss the subject. McDonald said she was high on drugs the one time that Terry-Lynne was in the apartment.

After two people were arrested in connection with young Tori’s disappearance, questions are now emerging about two previous attempted abductions in the Fergus, ON area. The two people arrested in connection with Tori’s disappearance were found in this area.

School children in Fergus were sent home with a note warning parents about a dark-coloured van after the two attempts.


Girl,5, shot in latest Toronto gun violence

Yesterday a little five-year-old girl in Toronto became the latest victim of gun violence. A gunman sprayed bullets on Bellevue Crescent with at least one traveling through the girl’s door and into her back exiting out of her chest.
The little girl was playing inside her family’s townhouse near near Lawrence and Weston Rd. when one man fired at a group of people sitting on an apartment patio early Thursday evening.

The child was rushed to Humber Regional Hospital by her parents. She was then transported by ambulance to Toronto’s Sick Children’s Hospital. Doctors have removed the bullet that struck her lung. She is now listed in stable condition at the children’s hospital.

Her pregnant mother, Sharlene Reynolds was escorted to Sick Kids Hospital by the police after 9:45 p.m. last night.

The police are looking for witnesses to the attack. They believe that two others were wounded in the attack and ask for those victims to come forward.

One person has been taken into custody as a person of interest. Police are looking for the gunman. Two firearms were used in the attack.

CBC reports:

“We’re going to leave no stone unturned until we find who has done this,” said Staff Sgt. Karen Smythe. “This is horrific.”

Constable Wendy Drummond of the Toronto Police told Digital Journal that the person of interest was released last night. At this time there have been no arrests or additional victims.

The area is becoming known for violence. Saron Ghebressellassie, 22, is quoted about the neighbourhood by the National Post:

“For every woman who has to walk home at night, it’s disgusting, an utter catastrophe. I fear for my life.

“It’s absolutely gut-wrenching to hear that it was a child. It’s become a social norm to come home and have, like, 10 police cruisers outside. I’m shaking right now. There’s a crisis in the neighbourhood. That could have been my brother and my sister. It’s devastating.”

In recent months there have been nine murders and many incidents where gunfire was involved. Neighbours blame gang wars for the gun violence, pleading for the police to end the blood being spilled.

Suzanne Gold, spokesperson from Sick Kids told Digital Journal that at this time they are unable to release any information about the little girl’s status.


Toronto Learning Center in Lockdown After Training Drill

An adult learning center in Toronto is in lockdown after people reported armed gunmen entering the building, ordering students to the ground. It turned out to be a training drill.

Police have responded to the Bickford Centre at Bloor and Christie Streets at 10:47 am Thursday morning. Police responded after a citizen called in to report that armed gunmen had stormed the building.

Police have no confirmation of anyone with a gun.

Later it was reveal that the school was in the middle of a drill. The police had not been informed of the drill.

For more than two hours the police had stopped traffic in the area.

EFT officers set up a command post on the northwest corner of the campus. They are ready for possible hand offs.

The Vancouver Sun reports:

“We’re trying to work out the legitimacy of the call,” said Const. Tony Vela early Thursday. “The area has been blocked off and emergency crews are on scene. We are going to assume this is a real call just to be safe.”

The area has been blocked off.

The center is holds English as a second language courses and citizen classes. It is part of the Toronto School System.

When Digital Journal called the Toronto School Board the media contact Terry said he had no information other than a report of a lockdown at the school.

Digital Journal talked with Tony Vela, spokesman for Toronto Police about the situation. “At this time the police are clearing the school.”

It is still unclear as to how many men entered the building or how many students have been taken hostage.

The TTC is affected in the area, but the subway station at Christie has not been closed.


Art Gallery of Ontario Announces Opening of Two New Exhibitions

This weekend the AGO in Toronto will open the Angelika Hoerle: The Comet of Cologne Dada and Painting as a Weapon: Progressive Cologne 1920–33.
These exhibits are to complement the current Surreal Things exhibition that explores art as a catalyst of social and political change.

The Angelika Hoerie exhibit is being presented by guest curator Angie Littlefield, grandniece of the artist. The exhibit shows the personal side of Hoerle.

Hoerle’s work from 1919 until her death in 1923 shows her political conscience. Even though her family, social conventions, personal tragedies and tuberculosis could not stop the passionate artist from her work of World War I Germany.

Most of Hoerle’s known works are on display on loan from the Yale University Art Gallery and Museum Ludwig Cologne. Following the showing at AGO the collection will travel to Museum Ludwig.

“Angelika Hoerle had a desire to change the world through political engagement,” says Michael Parke-Taylor, the AGO’s acting curator of European art. “She was deeply committed to left-wing politics and, in fact, her first prints were of Socialist political martyrs. She also explored the place of female artists in the male-dominated art scene in Cologne.”

The exhibit will be shown from May 23 until August 30.

Also opening on May 23 is Painting as a Weapon:Progressive Cologne 1920–33 / Seiwert – Hoerle – Arntz. The collection organized by Museum Ludwig examines the works of Franz W. Seiwert, Heinrich Hoerle and Gerd Arntz. Curator Lynette Roth will document the artists activities until their work was condemned as ‘degenerate’ in 1933 by the Nazi regime.

The exhibition shows how the Progressives used painting as a weapon during the hard years in Germany prior to the rise of Hitler.

“The rallying cry for Surrealism was ‘we must change life,’” says Parke-Taylor. “A desire to change themselves and the world drove the Surrealists to explore mysteries of the self and to value the irrational over the orderly. Angelika Hoerle’s works are harbingers of surrealism, while the Cologne Progressives seized painting as a tool for change in the midst of post-war economic and social crisis.”

The exhibit will continue until August 30.