CALGARY – Penn West Petroleum Ltd. has agreed to sell its properties in the Greater Mitsue area of central Alberta for $192.5 million cash.

Money from the sale will be used to reduce the Calgary-based company’s debt.

It’s the first major sale of non-core assets for Penn West since it announced two weeks ago that it was cutting its workforce by 400 full-time employees and contractors, suspending its dividend and cutting compensation for its directors.

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It also announced on Sept. 1 that it would sell a number of non-core assets, including the Mitsue properties, to reduce overhead costs. It said at the time that the Mitsue properties produced the equivalent of 4,500 barrels per day.

Penn West didn’t disclose the buyer but a second company announced about the same time that it has acquired properties in the same area that produce 3,300 barrels per day of crude oil and liquids.

Cardinal Energy Ltd said it would pay $129 million for its acquisition of light oil producing properties in the Mitsue area. It said CIBC and RBC would lead a syndicate of underwriters to provide $100 million towards funding the purchase, with the remainder coming from its credit agreements.

Penn West has said it’s aiming to keep its capital spending within cash flow generated from operations, despite the dramatic decline in oil and gas prices since the end of 2014.

It says the sale of the Mitsue properties will raise total proceeds from asset sales since June to $605 million.

Rock-bottom interest rates combined with sustained exuberance among buyers and an assist from a steady flow of foreign cash, according to experts, propelled the Vancouver and Toronto housing markets to new heights in August.

The country’s real estate association said Tuesday benchmark prices in those centres jumped 12 per cent and 10 per cent respectively, posting “by far” the biggest price increases among housing markets across the country.

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Aided by low rates, a shortage of detached homes in those regions compared to the number of interested buyers is driving the rapid price inflation, the Canadian Real Estate Association said.

“Prices continue to rise in Ontario and British Columbia, where listings are either in short supply or heading in that direction,” Gregory Klump, CREA’s chief economist, said.

Subdued elsewhere

Price growth was more subdued in other markets, notably in areas hit by lower commodity prices. In Calgary, which continues to feel the effects of sharply lower oil, benchmark home prices were flat – the first time index prices have notched zero growth in four years.

Other markets outside the Vancouver and Toronto areas are also responding in kind to a mild slowdown in the economy, which has registered back-to-back quarters of contraction, or a technical recession.

MORE: ‘Best. Recession. Ever.’

The health of the country’s housing market has become a talking point in the federal election, the leaders from the three major parties promising reforms if elected.

MORE: Complete 2015 federal election coverage 

But outside of the country’s two biggest and priciest regions, sales data shows a balanced market, experts say.

Excluding the Vancouver and Toronto markets, the jump in national average prices would be cut in half, CREA said. “The national average price continues to be pulled upward by sales activity in Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto.

Click here to view data »

Bubble behaviour?

“Overall, while most markets are responding logically to softening domestic economic conditions, Vancouver and Toronto continue to exhibit bubble behaviour,” David Madani, economist at Capital Economics said in a research note this week.

Several media reports in recent months have suggested a steady and rising tide of foreign cash is propping up price growth in big markets. Madani said that is only part of the story, while much of the demand remains from local buyers.

“While foreign investors are no doubt playing some role, we think this explanation is overblown,” the economist said. “Low interest rates and self-fulfilling expectations of higher prices continue to inflate actual prices independently of fundamentals,” he said.

“Over the longer-term, we still believe that these housing markets will experience major price reversals.”

WATCH: Liberal leader Justin Trudeau suggests ‘potential tools’ the federal government has to step in and help regulate runaway housing prices.

©2015

TORONTO – The information commissioner is taking the Prime Minister’s Office to court, accusing it of refusing to release documents about four senators embroiled in scandal.

filed an access-to-information request to the Privy Council Office, the central bureaucracy serving the prime minister and cabinet, in August of 2013 asking for any records created since March relating to senators Mike Duffy, Mac Harb, Patrick Brazeau or Pamela Wallin.

The PCO identified 28 pages of responsive records, but withheld 27 of those pages, releasing just two emails in which its staff discussed similar access-to-information requests.

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PCO claimed every single word on every single one of those 27 pages might jeopardize solicitor-client privilege, or reveal personal information, or third-party information, or details on secret deliberations.

went to the federal information commissioner, who found the complaint well-founded and recommended the prime minister release “a significant amount” of additional information.

But the Prime Minister’s Office withheld the “vast majority” of the records and the information commissioner is now asking Federal Court to order the prime minister to disclose any records that don’t warrant being withheld under certain sections of the Access to Information Act.

In-Depth: Federal Election 2015

The Prime Minister’s Office “erred in fact and in law” in relying on the aforementioned sections of the act to withhold the records, the information commissioner said in the court application.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper deferred comment to the PCO, but a spokesperson there was not immediately available to respond on Monday evening.

Brazeau, Wallin and Duffy were suspended over their expense claims while Harb resigned.

Duffy, Brazeau and Harb have been charged with fraud and breach of trust. Duffy pleaded not guilty to 31 counts of fraud, breach of trust and bribery at his trial, which is set to resume in November.

Brazeau’s trial is scheduled to begin March 29, 2016. He has already pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Brazeau is also facing a separate set of charges – assault and sexual assault – arising from an alleged incident two years ago in the western Quebec city of Gatineau and has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

That trial resumes Tuesday when he is expected to testify in his own defence.

Wallin has been under lengthy RCMP investigation but has not been charged.

©2015

As U.S. officials raise concerns about an increased Russian military presence in Syria, a Nobel Peace Prize-winning conflict negotiator claims western leaders “ignored” a Russian plan that might have seen Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad resign three years ago.

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The U.S., France and U.K. brushed aside the plan, the Guardian reported former Finnish president and 2008 Nobel laureate Martti Ahtisaari saying in an exclusive interview, even as the country’s civil war grew more brutal and millions of people were forced to flee their homes — contributing to what is now the greatest refugee crisis the world has seen in decades.

“It was an opportunity lost in 2012,” Ahtisaari said of the plan laid out by Russian ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin, who also served as Russia’s ambassador to Canada from 1998 to 2003.

READ MORE: Russian forces expanding major airport in Syrian province: monitoring group

Ahtisaari said Churkin had a three-point plan to strike a peace deal between the Assad regime and opposition groups to end the civil war that has, since 2011, claimed the lives of more than 220,000 Syrians.

“He said three things: One – we should not give arms to the opposition. Two – we should get a dialogue going between the opposition and Assad straight away. Three – we should find an elegant way for Assad to step aside,” the Guardian reported him saying.

Ahtisaari claimed the U.S., U.K and France — all permanent members of the U.N Security Council along with Russia and China — weren’t interested because they felt Assad’s days were numbered.

“Nothing happened because I think all these, and many others, were convinced that Assad would be thrown out of office in a few weeks so there was no need to do anything.”

Ahtisaari’s claims were refuted by another European diplomat, whom the Guardian did not name, and by Sir John Jenkins, the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ executive director for the Middle East.

Jenkins questioned whether Churkin “was speaking with Moscow’s authority” and that he would have “wanted to hear it from [President Vladimir] Putin…

“And even then I’d have wanted to be sure it wasn’t a Putin trick to draw us into a process that ultimately preserved Assad’s state under a different leader but with the same outcome.”

READ MORE: Israeli defence chief: Russian troops already in Syria

It’s unknown whether a purported Russian plan could have ended the war and prevented the displacement of more than half of Syria’s population — more than 4 million refugees who’ve fled to other countries and approximately 7.6 million displaced internally — and prevented the rise of ISIS in Syria. Other attempts at a peace deal have fallen apart.

But on Tuesday Putin reaffirmed Russia’s military aid to the Assad regime, and its fight against rebel groups and extremists like ISIS, would continue.

Speaking in Tajikistan on, he said the situation in Syria would be “worse than Libya” without his country’s military assistance.

But now evidence appears to be mounting, showing just how much Russia is intervening to support longtime ally Assad.

“We have seen indications in recent days that Russia has moved people and things into the area around Latakia, and the airbase there,” CNN reported Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis saying Monday.

READ MORE: Obama warns Russia on helping arm Syrian government to fight ISIS

Foreign Policy on Tuesday, however, published satellite images highlighting the construction of an apparent air base near the port city.

Columnist Jeffery Lewis wrote the developments point to not just a failure of U.S. (and Western) policy regarding the war in Syria but also the grim outlook for both the bloody conflict and the humanitarian crisis spreading far beyond its borders.

“What Russia has done, however, is make it clear that it will not let Assad fall. He can’t win, but Russia won’t let him lose. That dooms Syria to what looks like endless war, as Assad fights to the last man.”

International involvement in Syria has largely focused on combating ISIS, through U.S.-led airstrikes and support for Kurdish and so-called moderate opposition groups.

But it’s the Assad regime’s forces and allied armed groups who are blamed for thousands more deaths than those caused by ISIS.

Citing numbers from the U.K.-based Syrian Network for Human Rights, the Washington Post reported last week ISIS militants killed 1,131 people in Syria in the first seven months of 2015, while the Assad regime and “pro-government militias” killed 7,894 people.

Follow @nick_logan

©2015

Blair Dale, a Conservative candidate in the Newfoundland riding of Bonavista-Burin-Trinity, has been dropped from the party, Global News has confirmed.

He appears to have been dumped after a blogger outlined posts by Dale on various social media accounts. According to the blogger, some of these posts included questionable comments on women, sex and race.

Even Dale’s OkCupid dating profile was scoured for his views on different issues, including mentions that he was pro-choice but only in cases of rape, and that he was open to dating someone who took “soft” drugs, like marijuana.

However, while the blog states that while these posts appear to have been written by Dale, they could not confirm that they actually were. Either way, Dale is no longer a candidate.

Before entering politics himself, Dale was working as an assistant to MP LaVar Payne in Ottawa, according to a LinkedIn profile.

Screenshot from Blair Dale's LinkedIn profile.

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The Conservatives are not particularly competitive in Bonavista-Burin-Trinity. Although it is a new riding, all of the former ridings it is composed of leaned strongly Liberal – electing only one Conservative between them between 2004 and 2011.

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There’s whale-watching. And then there’s this U.K. couple’s close encounter with a humpback whale in Moss Landing, California.

Amazing video shows a fully grown humpback whale jump out of the water and land on top of a pair of kayakers in a tandem kayak.

Michael Sack, owner and captain of Sanctuary Cruises, was just a stone’s throw away when he and his passengers watched the enormous sea mammal leap.

“For them to jump out of water and land on somebody – that has never happened before as far I know. I would say it was just pure coincidence and the whale maybe didn’t know they were there,” Sack told Global News.

Sack’s vessel and about 20 kayakers had stopped to watch a group of whales playing and feeding on Saturday morning.

One of Sack’s passengers shot the whole thing. Sack posted the video on YouTube, where by Tuesday afternoon it had racked up more than 600,000 views.


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It looked like the whale’s pectoral fin slapped the two kayakers, knocking them out of their boat and into the water.

They emerged uninjured – just a little shaken.

“They said it was one of the scariest things that ever happened to them,” Sack said. “They were in shock all day.”

Sack said on his blog the couple’s kayak appeared to have bent under the impact.

For the record, Sack doesn’t advise whale-watching in the kayak.

“It’s pretty crazy that it happened, but somehow they were OK,” he said. “It could have been a very serious matter. It could have been a lot worse.”

©2015

A Canadian barred from voting in the Oct. 19 election because he has been abroad too long is planning to run as a candidate in a city he has never set foot in against none other than the incumbent prime minister, Stephen Harper.

Not that Nicolas Duchastel de Montrouge has any illusions about his chances of upending Harper, who has much bigger fish to fry, in Calgary Heritage.

Instead, his Independent candidacy aims to make a serious point: Every Canadian citizen should have the right to vote, regardless of where they live, but many don’t.

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“I’m kind of making a show out of it, but that’s exactly the goal,” Duchastel de Montrouge, 43, told . “I’m not expecting to win.”

Like 1.4 million other expatriate Canadians, Duchastel de Montrouge was stripped of the right to vote by mail because he has lived abroad for more than five years under a law that has only been enforced under Harper’s Conservative government.

However, he said an electoral official in Calgary confirmed that the Canada Elections Act does allow any citizen to run as a candidate in any riding – as long as they meet the usual basic criteria, which include that they be at least 18 years old and not in prison.

They also need 100 signatures from people who do live in the riding.

“That’s taking a little bit longer than I thought,” said Duchastel de Montrouge, who lives in suburban Seattle.

READ MORE: Seat projections show a tight race but one thing’s (almost) certain – a minority government

Earlier this year, the Conservative government successfully appealed a court ruling that had thrown out the five-year expat rule as unconstitutional. One of the two Canadians who launched the charter challenge, Gill Frank, of Princeton, N.J., is now trying to raise money to take the case to the Supreme Court of Canada.

So far, his crowd-funding campaign has yielded $10,500. Those who have donated expressed anger or resentment at being stripped of the right to cast a ballot.

“I feel completely disenfranchised as I have no right to vote anywhere,” said Carolyn Luce, who lives in France.

Duchastel de Montrouge said he has no plans to campaign in Calgary Heritage once his candidacy is formalized. In fact, he is actively dissuading anyone from voting for him, instead encouraging them via his website and social media to back a party that will restore the right of Canadians like him to vote.

In-Depth: Federal Election 2015

In the meantime, the engineer has taken on an auditor, appointed an official agent and opened a candidacy bank account. He’ll also have to put up a $1,000 deposit, which he said he hopes to get back.

His campaign budget, so far, is $30 – $20 from him and $10 from his official agent.

“We’re trying not to spend anything,” he said.

Still, he said he might have to spend several hundred dollars of his own to make his candidacy official – something he hopes to do this week. That may mean getting on one of the recently implemented direct flights between Seattle and Calgary to go drum up signatures for his candidacy and file his papers in person.

Spending the money will be worth it, he said, to raise awareness of what he sees as a technicality related to where he lives that has trumped his constitutional rights. Plus, he said, it’s a bit of an adventure.

“I’ve never been to Calgary,” he said. “That’s sort of the allure of it.”

©2015

MONTREAL – Lunch hour is usually a time when students are free from their teachers – a time when they get to chat with their friends, grab a bite to eat and talk.

But Westmount High School students did something a little different on Tuesday.

A group of about 40 students gathered in front of the school in support of their teachers, saying work-to-rule action is not allowing teachers to properly do their jobs.

READ MORE: #LiftTheBan: Student video asks Quebec government to reconsider budget cuts 

“Right now, we’re fighting the work-to-rule that’s going on across Quebec,” said Nilani Uthayakumar, a Grade 11 student.

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“They can only work their 32 hour contract – so no sports, no tutoring, all that is gone.”

Students who organized the protest said the pressure tactics are negatively affecting everyone.

“Not only is it affecting us as individuals and people who are currently at the school, it’s also affecting the future generations to come,” said student Sage Goodleaf.

READ MORE: Work-to-rule action forces Ballet Ouest de Montreal to cancel Nutcracker shows

Students weren’t the only ones protesting – teachers came out to join as well.

“I just had to come out here and tell them that this was incredibly moving for us,” said social science teacher, Robert Green.

“Our staff room window is just up there and they have come out here to support us, to support public education.”

Westmount High students were originally going to walk out of class at 10:30 a.m., but had to change their plans when their principal got wind of the protest.

“A lot of the teachers were blocking the way from us going out,” said Uthayakumar.

“They threatened for us to go back to class or else we could have suspended.”

Principal Michael Cristofaro said although students have the right to protest, they cannot leave during class time.

He said if they want to express an opinion on the protests, they are free to do so on their own time – during lunch or recess.

READ MORE: Parents, teachers protest provincial cuts to public education 

The students told Global News this won’t be their only action.

“We have a Facebook page of our group for Westmount,” said Uthayakumar.

“We’ll be communicating over there and work out a time and schedule on when to meet and when to do this.”

©2015

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has accused the Harper government of slashing funding to seniors, veterans and Aboriginal Affairs last year in order to balance the books just in time for Canadians to head to the polls.

“We are in deficit right now, Mr. Harper has put us into deficit this year,” Trudeau said Monday. “As for last year’s numbers, we know, and we saw Mr. Harper under-spending and making cuts to Veterans Affairs, Aboriginal Affairs, to seniors, in the billions of dollars so that he could balance the books in time for his election.”

WATCH: Trudeau accuses Stephen Harper of making billions of dollars in cuts last year so he could have a balanced budget in time for the election

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But Trudeau’s statements don’t add up, according to the official 2014-2015 fiscal report from the Finance Department released the same day he made the claims. The books were balanced, and even showed a surprise surplus, but no deep cuts in the areas Trudeau claimed.

The report showed spending increased for Aboriginal Affairs by $2 billion, to $8.78 billion from $6.794 billion the year before.

In-Depth: Federal Election 2015

Spending increased for Veterans Affairs by $121 million, up to $1.018 billion from $897 million in the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

Spending for elderly benefits increased as well, to a total of $2.3 billion, up 5.5 per cent.

The $1.9 billion surplus certainly came as good news for Harper, breaking a painful streak of six-straight years in the red.

“This is incredibly good news,” Harper said Monday. “In spite of all the problems of the world, this country has a balanced budget, has had it all along. And the other parties are going to have to explain why they think now would be a good time to throw us into deficit.”

Trudeau has said he plans to run a deficit until 2019, in order to invest in infrastructure and boost the economy. NDP Leader Tom Mulcair has pledged to not run a deficit as prime minister, even if he has to cut Conservative initiatives to do it.

The Liberals say Trudeau’s accusation was based on Monday’s fiscal report which said program spending was down, in part because of a “higher-than-expected lapse of departmental spending authorities.”

READ MORE: Budget surplus good news, but doesn’t predict the future: economists

Budget numbers indicated government departments spent $1.6 billion less than projected.

When asked about his claims, Trudeau on Tuesday called the report Harper’s “paper budget,” full of dollars pledged but not delivered.

“He makes commitments to veterans, and First Nations, and others, and then doesn’t keep those promises,” said Trudeau. “We know from years past, a billion dollars unspent in commitments made to our veterans, a billion dollars unspent in commitments made to First Nations.”

It has been documented that billions of federal dollars have gone unspent in many departments; in late 2014 it came to light that $1.13 billion from Veterans Affairs had gone unspent since the Conservatives come to power in 2006.

The departments in which the funds went unspent will not be clear until after the federal election on October 19.

With a file from

©2015

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said if elected, he would scrap the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

“I would never bring this deal to the Canadian Parliament,” he told Global’s Liza Fromer and Jeff McArthur on The Morning Show on Thursday.

READ MORE: Harper to tout TPP today, Justin Trudeau in Montreal, Mulcair in BC

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Though the details of the TPP aren’t public, the NDP leader said he has been “more than briefed enough on it to know it’ll cost tens of thousands of Canadian families their jobs.”

He told Global News the deal will increase prescription drug prices, affecting seniors across the country.

“They (seniors) already have to decide between buying their prescription drugs and putting food on the table and that’s not on as far as the NDP is concerned.”

Mulcair also praised US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for opposing the deal as well.

When asked about his recent drop in the polls, Mulcair remained optimistic about his chances to win the election.

“I still keep on my desk in Ottawa the polls from the last election campaign that showed that the NDP was in fourth place in Quebec, and as you know it didn’t quite turn out that way,” he said. “There’s still 10 days left in this campaign.”

Zunera Ishaq talks to reporters outside the Federal Court of Appeal after her case was heard on whether she can wear a niqab while taking her citizenship oath, in Ottawa on Tuesday, September 15, 2015.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle

Mulcair: The Niqab is a distraction

Another hot-button issue during the campaign is whether or not the niqab should be worn during citizenship ceremonies. Mulcair remained firm in his stance that the niqab is merely a distraction.

“I’m not going to let Stephen Harper to use that … to hide his record,” he said.

The Conservatives have pushed for a ban on wearing the niqab in citizenship ceremonies, and Stephen Harper said if re-elected, he would look at legislation to ban niqabs or face coverings in the public service. Like Mulcair, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has also argued that the tories are using the issue to “distract and deflect” Canadians from economic issues.

REALITY CHECK: Zunera Ishaq says niqab should not be an election issue

Mulcair said he won’t change his opinion despite a loss of support in Quebec because of the issue.

“That’s the politics of principle, as opposed to the politics of fear,” he argued.

©2015

With the launch of its new audio service, ReadSpeaker, Global News is bringing content to a wider audience while providing people with a more customized experience.

Global News online visitors will not only be able to read up on and watch the latest news — but can now listen to any print story with the click of a button.

The new tool allows users to simply click the “Listen” icon, and, well, listen. Nothing needs to be downloaded or installed to your computer or device.

Simply click on the “Listen” icon.

Global News

When activated, ReadSpeaker Enterprise Highlighting opens the player and starts reading the content from the page. The text is also magnified and highlighted while it is being read, reinforcing a better understanding of the text. The service can be paused or stopped at any time.

Global News is the first news organization in Canada to offer the text-to-speech technology tool.

READ MORE: Take our survey on Readspeaker

ReadSpeaker will help provide a vital news service to those with poor vision, a reading disability, and those who may be learning English.

It can also be a convenient way for people to multitask while getting their news fix. It’s a simple, efficient way for people on the go to catch up on the day’s biggest stories, totally hands-free.

The service works on all devices, on all browsers, across all operating systems.

WATCH BELOW: Accessibility and inclusion specialist Frederic Fovet tries out the new text-to-speech function on the Global News website

Let us know what you think! Please take our survey on Readspeaker.

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©2015

While some shoppers may struggle to locate garments in a specific style or colour, Ashlie Callender faces an even greater obstacle: finding clothes that will fit her curvy frame.

“Regular stores, they go up to extra large sometimes, and that’s really like a (size) 10 maybe. So if it’s a stretchy material, I can get away with it,” said the college student, 24.

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“I actually would like shopping, but all of my options are either for people who are really, really old, wearing dress pants all the time – and that’s pretty much it. So I wish there was more.”

READ MORE: Plus-size Old Navy shopper’s selfie goes viral

Callender joined dozens of shoppers who jammed Torrid’s new location in Toronto Eaton Centre for the grand opening of its first store outside of the U.S.

Three more Torrid stores are set to open in the Toronto area this fall, joining homegrown plus-size retailers Addition Elle and Penningtons, both under the banner of Montreal-based Reitmans Canada Ltd.

The plus-size brand is already familiar to Canadians, who account for more than half of Torrid’s international business online, said CEO Lisa Harper.

Torrid CEO Lisa Harper is seen in this undated handout photo. Plus-size retailer Torrid recently announces plans for expansion beyond the U.S. with the opening of its first location in Toronto on September 1, 2015.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Torrid, Chad Sengstock

The retailer has more than 280 stores across the U.S. and ships to more than 150 countries. Torrid is a full-service apparel and accessories shop offering separates, denim, handbags and footwear.

Harper said the company expects to open about 10 stores in Canada in 2016, and has been eyeing British Columbia, Calgary and Edmonton as potential expansion sites.

While they don’t yet have a Canadian-specific e-commerce site, Harper said they’ll have an option for shoppers to ship items to stores at no additional cost.

Canadian prices will also initially be slightly higher to offset the exchange rate, she added.

“We are very cautious about that, and it is not an across-the-board decision. It’s really on an item-by-item basis….

“Obviously, we would hope that it would be for the short term,” she added.

READ MORE: Plus-size model Tess Holliday leads body-positive movement

Torrid is seeking to help fill a sizable void in Canadian retail for full-figured consumers.

A 2013 report from the NPD Group found that plus sizes represent 32 per cent of the “special size” clothing category, which also includes tall, petite and junior.

Two-thirds of plus-size women reported shopping for larger clothes was more stressful than shopping for traditional sizes, with limited merchandise cited among the main causes.

“Coming from the wholesale side of the fashion business, you do have to pay a premium for clothes that are either plus-sized or petite,” said Sandy Silva, director of fashion and beauty at the NPD Group.

“Oftentimes you have to make a minimum order to have the garment produced, and I think that is a huge barrier to entry for this market in Canada.”

Most national retailers which offer extending sizing have a “fairly basic assortment,” she noted.

“They don’t really have the wealth or array of fun, fashionable, sexy styles that plus-size women want as well as a regular-size woman.”

Prior to launching her plus-size lifestyle blog KillerKurves杭州桑拿 in 2012, Karyn Johnson fielded countless inquiries about where she found clothes and boots to fit her legs.

“If you had a certain look in your mind, like ‘I want a cute summer dress,’ you had to go online, you had to Google it and really go on a search to find what you were looking for,” said Johnson.

“It’s been difficult to find the options that you want, and not to be able to go to a mall and just shop at every single store. A lot of malls don’t even have plus-sized options.”

Torrid brand ambassador Georgina Burke said it’s been eye-opening to observe the reaction among plus-size women when they’re able to find clothes that fit.

“I would give them an outfit to put on and it’s crazy how they won’t show their arms, their legs, parts of their bodies they don’t like,” said the plus-size Australian model. “It’s so exciting to break down those barriers and let them embrace their bodies.”

Two of Hollywood’s hottest comic actresses have made a foray into plus-size fashion.

Pitch Perfect star Rebel Wilson will design a limited-edition holiday line for Torrid. Emmy winner Melissa McCarthy of Mike & Molly and Bridesmaids fame recently launched her own collection, which is carried at Penningtons.

“It’s great because she’s including all shapes and sizes,” said Diana Di Poce, editor-in-chief of Dare Magazine, a Canadian online magazine focused on plus-size fashion.

“I think that that’s something I’d like to see more of.”

©2015

TORONTO – Ontario’s Liberals are being forced to explain why they want to sell Hydro One after condemning the previous Progressive Conservative government for proposing a similar privatization plan.

The Conservatives dug up a 2002 motion from veteran Liberal Jim Bradley, now the chair of cabinet, that said Hydro One “is best kept in public ownership and public hands.”

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  • PC Leader Patrick Brown takes oath of office as legislature resumes

  • Hydro One contract includes shares, raises, but government says it’s ‘net zero’

Bradley cited cabinet confidentiality Tuesday when asked if he had ever spoken against Premier Kathleen Wynne’s plans to sell 60 per cent of the giant transmission utility to raise an estimated $9 billion.

READ MORE: Opposition parties warn Hydro One sale will raise electricity rates

Wynne says she would use $4 billion from the sale to help pay for a $130-billion, 10-year infrastructure and public transit program, and $5 billion to pay down hydro debt.

Bradley insists he supports all government policies, and says he opposed the Conservatives’ plan to sell Hydro One 13 years ago because they wanted to sell 100 per cent of the utility.

PC Leader Patrick Brown explains his opposition to the sale by saying he won’t be tied to positions taken by previous Conservative leaders, and warns that privatizing Hydro One will drive up electricity rates.

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