Support for Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion grows in B.C.: new poll

The proposed expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline has the support of more than half of British Columbians, but with plenty of caveats, including the minimal impact of threats from Alberta, according to a new poll.

In an online survey conducted Monday and Tuesday of 2,125 Canadian adults — half from British Columbia — the Angus Reid Institute has found that support in B.C. for the project is up to 54 per cent, a considerable jump from the 48 per cent in a similar survey conducted in February.

This support runs through all part of the province, with 50 per cent of Metro Vancouver in favour, 54 per cent on Vancouver Island and 60 per cent of respondents in the rest of B.C.

But support for the idea of a pipeline doesn’t mean British Columbians aren’t worried about its related impacts, according to ARI’s data. When asked to say which potential risk or danger related to the project they were most worried about, 52 per cent of British Columbians listed an oil tanker spill or accident. Just 12 per cent said they weren’t worried about any of the options listed, including the impact of fossil fuels, risk of pipeline spills, the impact of pipeline construction and tanker traffic “detracting from natural beauty.”


Support for Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion grows in B.C.: new poll

Quebec Liberals narrow the gap, but CAQ still has the inside track on fall election


Recent polls suggest Philippe Couillard’s Liberals have pulled out of a dive in popular support — but that doesn’t mean the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) is no longer the favourite going into October’s provincial election in Quebec.

François Legault’s party still holds significant advantages over the Liberals and Jean-François Lisee’s Parti Québécois (PQ). But instead of a ‘change’ election that would sweep Couillard out of power and Legault into it, the landscape is shifting back toward a more competitive contest between the two parties.

Two polls published in the last week suggest that the margin between the CAQ and the Liberals has narrowed significantly. The surveys, conducted by Léger (Apr. 6-8) and Mainstreet Research (Apr. 7-9), put the CAQ at between 30 and 34 per cent support, followed by the Liberals at 29 to 30 per cent, the PQ at 16 to 21 per cent and Québec Solidaire at nine to 12 per cent.

Léger gives the CAQ a five-point edge. Mainstreet puts the CAQ and the Liberals in a tie.

Both firms were in the field previously in the last week of February. The two polls point to similar trend lines, with the CAQ down three points in the Léger poll and two points in the Mainstreet poll. In both cases, the Liberals have benefited by those amounts.

Neither of those shifts is statistically significant, although the fact that the trend is repeated across two surveys conducted with different methodologies (Léger does its polling online while Mainstreet uses automated telephone calls) suggests it could be pointing to something real.

Government probing franchisee complaints against Tim Hortons

The federal government is looking into concerns raised by Tim Hortons franchisees that the company has not lived up to promises made when it was taken over by the owner of Burger King in 2014.

“We just recently a few days ago received a letter from the franchisees talking about a range of issues and concerns,” Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains told the CBC News on Friday.

“I told my officials to look into the issues that have been raised and to see if those claims are true.”

On Thursday, the Globe and Mail reported that the government was investigating the company for not living up to promises made when Brazilian firm 3G Capital acquired the iconic coffee and doughnuts chain, merged it with its Burger King chain to form Restaurant Brands International (RBI), and set about an aggressive cost-cutting strategy that has drawn ire from franchisees.

Among the promises made — which some franchisees say have now been broken — were pledges to maintain franchisee relationships, rent and royalty structures for five years and to keep existing employment levels at Tims franchises across Canada.

Should any of those allegations prove to have merit, Bains says the government has many tools at its disposal including various court actions, or levying other unnamed penalties.

“But it’s premature at this stage,” Bains said. “We need to analyze all the facts and do our homework.”

For its part, Tim Hortons says it is not aware of any formal investigation. “Every year we have reported to the Government on meeting our undertakings, without complaint,” the company told CBC News in an email.

“We have always been and remain committed to doing good business in Canada.”

About half of Tims’ more than 4,700 franchises are members of a dissident group called the Great White North Franchise Association (GWNFA), who don’t like changes the corporate owners have been pushing.

Among other complaints, franchisees allege that the parent company has reduced the quality of equipment, while throwing added costs on to the backs of the restaurant operators to pay.

“Rome is burning,” a letter from GWNFA president David Hughes to Bains’ office says. “GWNFA has been the only group advocating for the Canadian franchisees and trying to salvage this great Canadian icon from the egregious management policies and practices that RBI has put in place.”

One Toronto-area franchisee and GWNFA member who has owned and operated his location for almost a decade is suing the company for $4.5 million, after Tims told him at the end of March that his franchise licence would be revoked when the contract expires in August, according to a statement of claim obtained by CBC News.

Quebec teen suspended for donning sports jersey in support of Humboldt victims

schools suck!


A Quebec high school student who wore a jersey to school to show support for the victims of the crash involving the Humboldt Broncos says he was kicked out of class for his gesture.

Philippe Volek, 14, decided to wear a red and blue soccer shirt to his high school in Sainte-Adèle, north of Montreal, on Thursday after hearing about a nationwide Jersey Day event to honour the 16 people killed in the Saskatchewan crash.

He said he was motivated to take part because he has a one-hour bus ride to school each day and realizes accidents can happen to anyone.

“If it [were to] happen here, they’d probably do a movement like this and I thought it was important to support the families,” Volek said in a phone interview with The Canadian Press.

But Volek said his teacher sent him to the principal’s office for violating the school’s dress code.

There, he was given a choice: either replace the jersey with a school-approved polo shirt or accept a suspension from class.

Volek chose to go home.

“I wanted to stay loyal to my beliefs and I want to support [Jersey Day],” he said.

“It’s for a good cause and I believe it makes a difference for the families.”

Investigation launched after sexual harassment allegations by body rub workers

Investigation launched after sexual harassment allegations by body rub workers


The city has launched an investigation into the conduct of some of its bylaw officers in relation to allegations from women working in the city’s holistic centres —  also known as body rub parlors.

The women reported being forced to take off their clothes to show officers their undergarments and have photos taken of them without their consent.

The allegations were brought forward Tuesday at the Licensing and Standards committee meeting by holistic centre staff and advocacy groups as part of a review into how the city regulates and enforces issues regarding these businesses.

Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam said she’s met with about 10 women working at the parlours who have brought forward allegations of sexual harassment and violence. She says many are from a Chinese background, speak little English and felt they are being racially targeted by the city.

“They felt that there was discrimination in the way that they are being treated. They felt that having an officer come in three to four times a week to physically inspect their business and being asked repeated questions of I.D. checks, they felt that was rather punitive,” Wong-Tam said. “It was very disruptive to their business and some of the more serious allegations would include bylaw officers asking the women, or holistic practitioners, to disrobe and show them their undergarments which I believe is completely inappropriate and it is a form of sexual violence.”

A recent petition launched by the Holistic Practitioners Alliance also alleges the women were forced to sing for the officer’s entertainment, told to stand as a form of punishment and barred from using the bathroom during an inspection.

Tracey Cook, executive director of Municipal Licensing and Standards (MLS), told CityNews in a statement Wednesday that the city has launched an investigation as a result of the complaints brought forward.

“The concerns raised through the deputations yesterday will be investigated,” Cook said in a statement. “We have met with and will continue to meet with some of the groups that spoke yesterday to get their feedback and hear their concerns. The City takes complaints of staff misconduct very seriously and have mechanisms in place for investigation once they are received. City staff are expected to conduct themselves professionally at all times.”

The city recently hired five new bylaw officers after the 2017 Auditor General’s report called for an increase in inspections on holistic centres. As of late 2016, there were 410 such licensed locations in Toronto. The City said as many as a quarter of those appeared to be offering unauthorized services such as erotic massages.

The Holistic Practitioners Alliance says in the past five years, MLS has increased the number of inspections conducted from 500 times in 2013 to more than 1,700 in 2016.

None of these allegations have been proven. The city will continue to enforce bylaws and inspect holistic centres while the allegations are being investigated.



Quebec’s lack of emergency air ambulance system ’embarrassing,’ renowned doctor says

In the wake of the fatal bus crash in rural Saskatchewan, a prominent Montreal doctor is imploring Quebec’s health ministry to develop an air ambulance system that could quickly transport trauma victims to hospital.

“I couldn’t sleep the night after I watched the sad story from Saskatchewan, a place where I grew up, a place where I played amateur hockey, where I travelled on the bus — probably a similar type of bus that was involved,”said Dr. David Mulder, a renowned trauma specialist and the team doctor for the Montreal Canadiens.

“I know the area well and it certainly tugged at my heart strings. It was a disaster that any parent couldn’t stand. So I thought, ‘What would happen in rural Quebec?'”

Quebec is one of the only provinces in Canada that does not have an organized, pre-hospital emergency air ambulance system, which could save lives if a tragedy were to happen in a rural part of the province, Mulder said.

“The single most important factor in trauma care is what they call the “golden hour.” In other words, the shorter the time from injury to definitive care, the better the results, the lower the mortality and the fewer the complications,” he told CBC’s Daybreak.

“Any distance from Montreal, the only way is road ambulance and, in this day and age, that doesn’t meet the requirements of the golden hour.… I have a lot of friends in the trauma world and I’m embarrassed that Montreal is the largest urban centre in North America that doesn’t have an organized helicopter program.”

Photo radar was supposed to bring Quebec revenue. Instead, it’s costing millions

The Quebec government was hoping that photo radars placed on major highways would earn them millions of dollars in revenue — instead, they have netted an $18.9-million budget shortfall.

Officials expected that costs related to the installation, maintenance and calibration of photo radar equipment would be covered once all the revenue from traffic tickets was tallied. They even expected a small surplus.

But contesting an automated photo radar ticket is easier than ever since a 2016 court judgment ruled that evidence collected by the current photo radar system is “inadmissible” and “illegal.”

Court of Quebec Judge Serge Cimon ruled in November 2016 that photo radar tickets don’t provide sufficient evidence if there’s no officer on site to witness the traffic incident, calling it “hearsay.”

An agent must be able to certify that the machine is working properly and that the required signage was clearly in place.

The judgment threw a wrench into the province’s projected revenue, and put a damper on the total number of tickets being given out.

In November 2016, the same month the judgment was passed down, drivers were slapped with more than 41,000 photo radar tickets. Four months later, in March 2017, that number dropped to 1,193 tickets.

Housing market slowdown a welcome shift in consumer psychology: RBC CEO

The chief executive of Royal Bank says the housing market slowdown is a welcome shift in consumer psychology toward more caution.

David McKay told shareholders at the company’s annual meeting Friday that the bank is seeing a more balanced pricing trend after tighter conditions last year.

The Vancouver and Toronto region real estate boards, representing the country’s hottest markets, reported double-digit annual sales declines in March earlier this week.

B.C. and Ontario have introduced a series of measures to cool the housing market, including taxes on non-residents.

Further cooling pressure came from the federal level, including a financial stress test for buyers implemented Jan. 1 for federally-regulated lenders.

Both variable and fixed-rate mortgage rates have also risen as a result of moves by the Bank of Canada and fluctuations in the bond markets.


Housing market slowdown a welcome shift in consumer psychology: RBC CEO