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.


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.


From Sandra Bullock getting a male role rewritten for herself for Our Brand Is Crisis, director Denis Villeneuve fighting to cast a female (Emily Blunt) in the lead for Sicario, women taking charge has been a big theme at TIFF15.  Salma Hayek produced her new film, Septembers Of Shiraz, but she doesn’t think Hollywood is where it needs to be.

“We’re not getting there [yet], but we’re starting”, Salma told ET Canada on the red carpet.  The actress still things are moving “too slowly”.

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RELATED: 2015 TIFF Red Carpets

In Septembers Of Shiraz, an adaptation of the critically-acclaimed novel, Salma and Adrien Brody play a married Jewish couple, whose lives are torn apart when Brody’s character is accused of being a spy for Israel in the midst of the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

Salma’s co-star in the film, Oscar nominee Shohreh Aghdashloo, had high praise for the actress/producer. “She’s not only an amazing actress,” Shohreh explains. “She’s so generous”.

While he doesn’t appear in the film, Gerard Butler also served as a producer on the film.  The film’s director, Wayne Blair, says the 2 A-listers took their jobs as producers very seriously. “Gerard and Salma have been involved ever since I started 16 months ago to late last week,” Wayne says. “It was a dream project”.

RELATED: 2015 TIFF Red Carpets Part 2

You can see the interviews with Shohreh and Wayne below!

©2015Entertainment Tonight Canada

REGINA – Regina’s Darke Hall will not stand dark or empty this fall. Do It With Class Young People’s Theatre and the South Saskatchewan Youth Orchestra’s theatrical and musical seasons will be at the historic theatre.

There are a lot of benefits for these young singers to perform here.

“The one thing that they’ll be able to do here is learn to use a theatrical voice without the enhancement of amplification,” explained Rob Ursan, Do It With Class (DIWC) artistic director.

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This season, DIWC will be putting on four musicals, including Alice in Wonderland and The Threepenny Opera. Both will suit this historic setting.

“It is an incredible place. It is an incredible under-used place. It’s a place that I think should be used year round.”

“When you walk in here it looks like the 1920’s and 30’s – that kind of era. So it will be easier to get your mind in the time frame of the show,” said Charisma Taylor, 16 year-old DIWC senior performer.

Beyond that, performers like Taylor know they are helping to keep Darke Hall operating.

“Being young performers, when we get old, I’m sure many of us want to see young people have the same opportunities that we do. If we don’t have spaces like this than we can’t do that because they don’t have any places to perform,” Taylor said.

The University of Regina has begun its restoration of the College Avenue campus and Darke Hall, but there’s a way to go.

“We want to get feedback from potential future users, obviously they’re current users now too, but to ask the question: what does Darke Hall need?” said Brad Mahon, head of the University of Regina conservatory.

“Work needs to be done both on the stage with sight lines for the audience, a little better lighting, especially in the front here (and) a little better acoustics,” said Alan Denike, the South Saskatchewan Youth Orchestra music director.

Now that Do It With Class and the South Saskatchewan Youth Orchestra have made Darke Hall their permanent home, the hope is to also attract a bigger audience to this beloved space.

“It is an incredible place. It is an incredible under-used place. It’s a place that I think should be used year round,” said Ursan.

GAUTIER, Miss. — A university instructor told police he killed his girlfriend at a home they shared and investigators found a note there that said “I am so sorry I wish I could take it back” — but there was no hint he was headed a few hundred miles north to kill a colleague, police said Tuesday.

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Shannon Lamb called 911 on Monday, telling a dispatcher he had killed 41-year-old Amy Prentiss at the home they shared in Gautier along the Gulf coast. In the call, Lamb refuses to give his name but says that family contact information can be found on Prentiss’ phone. He says that their dog is still in the house, and “he’s a sweet dog and he’s not going to bother anybody but I’m sure he’s upset.”

When officers responded, the found the note written in all capital letters on a white, lined notepad, signed by Lamb: “I loved Amy and she is the only person who ever loved me.”

READ MORE: Suspect in Delta State University shooting dead from gunshot wound, say police

Police say Lamb attacked again about 45 minutes after that Monday morning 911 call, this time shooting Delta State University professor Ethan Schmidt, 39, inside his office.

Schmidt, a history professor, was shot three times in his neck, cheek and near the right eye in the doorway of his office with a book bag on his shoulder, an indication that he was either entering or leaving, Bolivar County Deputy Coroner Murray Roark said.

Lamb killed himself hours later as police closed in on him during a manhunt. At some point after shootings, he told family members he had no intention of going to jail. Relatives relayed that information to authorities.

Matt Hoggatt, a spokesman for Gautier police, said during a news conference Tuesday that Lamb had no criminal record, and there was no indication that he and Prentiss had a history of criminal domestic violence.

WATCH: Officials confirm Delta State University shooting suspect killed himself

Police have not released a motive for either shooting. University President William LaForge said he didn’t know of any conflict between Lamb and Schmidt but “obviously there was something in Mr. Lamb’s mind.”

A book published by Schmidt says in the acknowledgements that Schmidt considered himself “so lucky to have such wonderful people to share my academic life with,” including Lamb.

Lamb had earlier asked for a medical leave of absence, saying he had a health issue of some sort, but LaForge gave no further information about it.

This photo provided by Gautier, Miss., police at a news conference on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015, shows a hand-written note investigators found at the house where Amy Prentiss’s body was found on Monday. 

(Gautier, Miss Police via AP)

The shooting led to an hours-long lockdown at the college during which frightened students and faculty hid in classrooms and closets as authorities scoured the campus looking for Lamb. The campus was eventually cleared by police and authorities later found Lamb when a license plate reader picked up his plate as he crossed a bridge over the Mississippi River from Arkansas back into Mississippi, Cleveland police Chief Charles “Buster” Bingham said.

Lamb killed himself with a single .380 pistol shot to the forehead in the backyard of a home south of his parents’ home on the outskirts of Greenville, Mississippi, said Washington County Coroner Methel Johnson. He left his car still running in the driveway. It was not immediately clear why Lamb went to that home, though Johnson said she believes he knew the people who lived there.

Lamb started working at the university, which has 3,500 students in a city of about 12,000, in 2009 and taught geography and education classes. He received a doctorate in education in the spring. He was teaching two online classes this semester, but an in-person class had been cancelled, LaForge said.

Lamb’s career prospects at Delta State may have taken a turn because of a policy change.

After LaForge became president, he hired a new provost, Charles McAdams, who ended a practice whereby an instructor who earned a doctorate could automatically join the tenure track and become an assistant professor. LaForge said that practice violated state policy which requires an open search for new professor positions.

Brandon Beavers, an education major, said he had a class with Lamb last year.

“It was like that class you look forward to,” Beavers said. “It was just cool.”

However, he said Lamb seemed agitated.

“He was really jittery, like there was something wrong with him,” Beavers said. “He was never in a bad mood, but he was real shaky.”

One of Lamb’s longtime friends described him Tuesday as smart, charismatic and funny. Carla Hairston said she and Lamb both grew up in Greenville, Mississippi.

Hairston said she was 15 and Lamb was 20 when they met through mutual friends. She and her friends were in high school, and he was the cool older guy who tried for several years to teach her to play guitar. He was a good teacher but she was an uncoordinated student, she said.

“He was quite the heartthrob back then. All the girls would melt when he was around,” said Hairston, now 40 and living in the Jackson suburb of Brandon.

“He had the Elvis effect,” Hairston said. “His voice was just like velvet, and people just loved to hear him talk.”

Hairston said even when she wanted to be a rebellious teen and stay out late, Lamb made sure she and her friends went home by curfew. She said he was whip smart and would often quote song lyrics in conversation.

“He made corny and dorky look good,” Hairston said.

Lamb and Prentiss had apparently been dating for some time. In the 911 call, Lamb said “I killed my wife,” but there was no record of them ever marrying.

Prentiss’ ex-husband said they divorced 15 years ago but remained friends and had a daughter who’s now 19.

“She was completely devastated,” he said of his daughter. “She and her mother were absolutely best friends.”

Schmidt, the slain professor, directed the first-year seminar program and specialized in Native American and colonial history, said Don Allan Mitchell, an English professor at the school. He was married and had three young children.

Karen Manners Smith, a history professor at Emporia State University in Kansas, where Schmidt studied, called him “a super competent human being.”

“He was president of his fraternity, in student government. He was an absolutely delightful student,” she said.

At the campus of 3,500 students, the police blockades had been taken down, people were out cutting the grass and traffic moved normally, although there was not a lot of pedestrian traffic. A vigil was planned for Tuesday night, and classes resume Wednesday.

“We’re trying to get our students to come back,” LaForge said. “The crisis is over. This is a day of healing.”

Sophomore Robert Holcomb attended a counseling session with dozens of other students and faculty. He was worried some students wouldn’t return after the campus slaying.

“It was a chance to talk and share experiences,” said Holcomb, a 32-year-old international business major from Seattle. “Some people having a harder time than others.”


TORONTO — Kiru Kulendiren feels her constitutional right has been violated by vandals after a candidate’s sign she has on her property was damaged.

“Broad daylight, people are willing to commit a criminal offence — that is not right,” said Kulendiren, whose home security cameras caught the culprits in the act.

“This is not my Canada, destroying that sign is not my Canada.”

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The video show a blue car packed with what looks like young men, when one gets out and slowly walks up Kulendiren’s driveway in the Ninth Line and Derry Road Area in Mississauga.

The man then runs and dives head-first into the sign, knocking it down. He then does the same thing to the neighbours’ sign across the street.

“It’s a travesty of democracy, a travesty of civic engagement and it’s not a laughing matter,” said Kulendiren.

“For many people looking at the video it looks funny because it’s this rhinoceros move … but I could not laugh along because it’s a sad testament to the lack of seriousness around elections.”

There are some strict laws governing when and where homeowners can place election signs.

“They’re allowed to start displaying once the writ has been issued since August 4th,” says Mark Sraga, Director, Investigation Service at Toronto’s Municipal Licensing and Standards.

“And since that date, we’ve only had 158 complaints.”

The city of Mississauga has not received any formal complaints about damaged signs so far. Kulendiren says other homeowners may not take this as seriously as she is, but she feels the sign on her lawn is a her property.

“Obviously I can’t put up a huge billboard with a cut-out of Brad Pitt, that’s not going to happen, but this is civic engagement, it’s protected under Elections Canada and elections law.”

Under the Canada Elections Act, it’s an offence to remove, alter, cover up or deface a candidate’s sign. If caught and convicted, the vandal could face a fine of up to $5,000 and or six months in jail.

Kulendiren says putting up the sign was not a decision her family made lightly. She wants the vandals caught and has filed a report with police.

“If this is ok for society, then is it ok for someone to do a running jump [at] your windows or your shed or your house?” she said. “When is it not ok?”


WATCH ABOVE: All the billionaires are doing it and now Amazon found Jeff Bezos want to join fellow entrepreneurs getting into the space travel race. Bezo’s company, Blue Origin, will compete with other space start-ups backed by billionaires like Elon Musk and Richard Branson. Aarti Pole explains.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is shipping his space business to Florida.

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At a news conference Tuesday, Bezos announced that his Blue Origin space company will build rockets and launch them into orbit from Cape Canaveral.

He plans to send up satellites first, then people – including space tourists and even himself. He predicts the first launch will occur by the end of the decade; he declined to be more specific, saying more details would be forthcoming next year.

The as-yet-named rocket will launch and land vertically, the same method the company is testing for suborbital flights from remote West Texas. The first-stage boosters will be reusable to save money. The crew capsules will fly themselves and not require pilots.

Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Launch Complex 36 will serve as home base for Blue Origin’s orbital program. It’s been idle for the past decade following a rich history of interplanetary flights for NASA.

READ MORE: Liberals and NDP promise long-term space plan if elected

The Washington state-based company – extremely hush-hush regarding most of its work – is the latest to set up shop at America’s rocket-launching hub. Just 1 1/2 weeks ago, Boeing unveiled its new hub for the future Starliner fleet that is intended to transport astronauts to the space station for NASA beginning in 2017.

On a makeshift stage under a huge tent, Bezos told the VIP crowd of more than 100 that they were seated at the future site of the Blue Origin rocket processing facility. He pointed to where an engine test-firing stand will be located 4,000 feet away and, 2,000 feet in another direction, the new launch pad. The actual rockets will be built at a nearby location just outside the gates of Kennedy Space Center.

“What is going to lift off from Launch Pad 36? Well, I want to give you a little sneak peek. Here it is: the new orbital vehicle,” he said, pulling a black cloth off a tall drawing of Blue Origins’ future rocket.

“One day – I don’t know how long this will take – but one day I look forward to having a press conference with you guys in space,” Bezos said to applause.

READ MORE: NASA plans to cultivate plants on Mars

Blue Origin has conducted one test flight of its suborbital rocket, back in April. It reached 307,000 feet, just shy of space. Bezos anticipates another test this year. The system is named New Shepard, a nod to the first American in space, the late Alan Shepard.

For now, Blue Origin is calling its future orbital rocket “Very Big Brother.” The engine that will be used to power the company’s orbital rocket already has an outside buyer: United Launch Alliance, which currently relies on Russian-made engines and wants an American-made product for its future Vulcan line.

Blue Origin already is collecting emails from prospective customers for a suborbital ride on New Shepard. Bezos has yet to set a pricetag or a timeline.

His goal is to put millions of people into space, with ultimate destinations of Mars and elsewhere. He calls it “a worthy challenge” that won’t be easy or quick.

Indeed, California-based SpaceX – another private aerospace company founded by a billionaire – remains grounded following a launch explosion in June. NASA is its biggest customer, buying supply runs to the International Space Station and eventual taxi flights for astronauts.

READ MORE: What went wrong with SpaceX rocket? Here’s how engineers will figure it out

Tuesday’s announcement drew Florida Gov. Rick Scott and other dignitaries excited about the prospect of more launches and jobs coming to Cape Canaveral, still recovering from the end of NASA’s shuttle program in 2011. Florida beat out four other states for Blue Origin.

Bezos, who grew up in Miami, made his fortune from Amazon苏州纹眉, which he founded in 1994. Blue Origin was born six years later.

“I always tell people, if my only goal were to make money, I would just open a new kind of snack food company,” he told reporters.

That would be easier, “But I don’t want to do that,” he said.


The City of Vancouver’s decision to part ways with their city manager Dr. Penny Ballem is coming at a hefty price — more than $500,000 in severance pay.

Ballem, who has been city manager since Vision Vancouver took power in 2008, was terminated after a vote by Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and city council. According to the announcement released today by the mayor’s office, the $556,000 in severance pay is in accordance with Ballem’s contract.

WATCH: At a press conference Tuesday, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson announced the termination of city manager Dr Penny Ballem

“Dr. Penny Ballem has been an exceptional city manager, driving transformative change across the organization over the past seven years and demonstrating outstanding commitment to the City of Vancouver and all of its residents,” said Robertson.

“As we look toward making continued progress on Vancouver’s most significant priorities, Council has decided that our city’s toughest challenges will benefit from a new approach and a fresh perspective.

Ballem helped oversee the 2010 Winter Olympics, the financial turnaround of the Olympic Village and the recent regulation of illegal marijuana dispensaries.

WATCH: Why is Penny Ballem out of a job?

The city said they will conduct an international search for a new city manager as well as ask for a compensation review for the position.

In the interim, Sadhu Johnston will serve as acting city manager. Sadhu has been the deputy city manager for six years.

Robertson said, “with an experienced staff team and new leadership in the City of Vancouver administration, I am very confident that we can expand Vancouver’s success as one of the greenest, most innovative, and most inclusive cities in the world.”

~ with files from Canadian Press


TORONTO — The Toronto Transit Commission’s budget committee is debating a possible fare hike for transit riders.

The fare increase would be used to make up a $95 million shortfall in the 2016 budget.

“The shortfall – basically put in simple terms – is the difference between what we know the cost would look like going forward as we add more service to accommodate evermore rising customer numbers and the amount of subsidy we think we are going to get,” said TTC CEO Andy Byford.

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“The key point to note is that that gap does not factor in –right now- any subsidy  or any fare increase.”

READ MORE: TTC welcomes its 30 billionth customer at Davisville Station

The report lists various fare scenarios, one of which would see a possible 25-cent increase on cash fares.

“No one wants fare increases. I would love to present a budget that doesn’t require a fare increase,” Byford said.

“But realistically, I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

Councillor Shelley Carroll says fare hikes should be a multi-year approach, as suggested by commissioners.

“It’s safe to say that we are going to have a fare increase…it should be a minimum amount of an increase but it should happen every year for a few years.”

“People often think that if you add riders to the system that you get more money, but in fact, the city puts in more money into each ride than the rider does, despite what they are putting in the fare box,” she added

The TTC last hiked fares in 2010,  going to from $3 per ride from $2.75.

“We have added the services that the mayor thought it would be important to put back and we now have to pay for them in this year,” Carroll said.

TTC Riders, an advocacy group for Toronto commuters released a statement today saying “riders are sick of paying even more for sardine-level overcrowding, breakdowns, and spotty service.”

“We need fair funding from all levels of government so we can get great service and lower fares,” the statement said.


TORONTO — City staff have recommended not proceeding with the privatization of garbage collection east of Yonge Street.

Currently, garbage collection is privatized west of Yonge in districts one and two and east of Yonge, waste collection is provided in house by city staff.

The recommendations in the agenda said that “the best value and lowest risk to the City of Toronto at this time is to continue with the current model.”

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READ MORE: Tory won’t commit to contracting out garbage, despite campaign pledge

It also said that providing services as a mix of in-house and private sector services mitigates financial risk and provides flexibility to adapt to changes.

The recommendations will be brought before the Public Works and Infrastructure committee on Sept. 22.

“Privatizing garbage west of Yonge Street has been a huge success to the tune of $11 million a year in savings for tax payers,” said Ward 25 Councillor Jaye Robinson.

“It’s something I would definitely like to see east of Yonge Street and as the chair of Public Works I have a lot of questions for this report.”

Robinson said she will be “drilling down” into the report ahead of next week’s meeting, but added that she’s “not really comfortable with the numbers I am seeing.”

“I’m not comfortable with the recommendations I’m seeing. For me, we need to outsource east of Yonge to maximize – not only customer service – but also maximize cost savings,” she said.

“That’s going to be my goal to look at how we can deliver this service for the least cost  The mayor did talk about –throughout the whole election period – garbage was topical in many of the debates and he did make that  part of his key plank of his platform that he would pursue outsourcing.”

Ward 3 Councillor Stephen Holyday said that as the city gets closer to the end of the year contract negotiations cost becomes another major issue.

“We don’t know what wages would be. I’m starting to wonder if it’s time to send this report to the penalty box for a few months and … get some questions asked before we revisit a decision,” he said.

“The average person doesn’t worry about who collects their garbage. They want to come home and find their bin empty However it effects the city’s operations tremendously, it effects how we plan our workforce and it effects the bottom line.”

In the 2014 municipal election, Mayor John Tory touted privatizing garbage collection but now said he is assessing the report.

“The Mayor remains committed to providing Toronto residents the best service at the lowest cost,” said spokeswoman Amanda Galbraith.

“There are a number of unanswered questions in the report including private sector bid costs, which have been assumed and are not tested, and the impact, if any, [of] new collective bargaining agreements could have on the city’s cost figures. He looks forward to seeing the report considered at Committee.”

Robinson said she believes Tory is still committed to pursuing the idea and that councillors will spend the next week examining the issues surrounding cost.

“If there is a way to save money and deliver the service as effectively  from the public sector as the private, we need to pursue that,” she said.

“It’s been a huge success west of Yonge. Let’s do it across the city.”


HALIFAX – A local organization with players in the tourism and hospitality industries says a developer is ready to buy and fix Exhibition Park.

“I can tell you that this is a very reputable company of proven performance,” said Jim Gourlay, executive director of the Exposition Managers Society of Nova Scotia.

The identity of the developer, a local company, isn’t being revealed yet.

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The property, which requires millions of dollars of repairs and upgrades, is set to close in November. Subsequently, at least ten major events will not be held next year, including the Halifax International Boat Show, and Halifax RV Show.

“To make a major decision like this without understanding the economic ramifications is very concerning,” said Darleen Grant Fiander, Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia and member of the group, of the closure.

If Exhibition Park doesn’t reopen, it would lead to a local economic net loss of $12 million, according to the group.

The mystery developer, said to be able to get the repairs and upgrades completed cheaper than the government would be able to, has offered a bid at market value for a contract lasting at least eight years. Two letters about the plan have been sent to the provincial government.

“We are currently considering proposals for the property, and evaluation of those proposals is underway,” said Toby Koffman, Media Relations Advisor for Department of Business, adding that two proposals have been submitted so far.

There is no firm date set for when the decision will be made.

“We encourage all interested parties to get involved in the discussion, and a decision will be made in the best interest of Nova Scotians,” said Koffman.

The group would help the developer with administration and marketing, with the hope of doubling the number of events that can be held at the property.

“We’re not saying we’re going to do anything miraculous – simply put Halifax where it should be,” said Gourlay, who is also the president of Saltscapes Publishing Limited.

The group said it wants the government to make a decision within a week, and that if there is any hope for exhibition park to open by next spring, repairs need to be done before winter.

MEXICO CITY – Mexico’s Foreign Relations Department said Tuesday that embassy personnel in Egypt have identified six more bodies as those of Mexican citizens killed in air attack by Egyptian police and military forces.

The deaths of two Mexicans had earlier been confirmed, bringing the total number of Mexicans killed to eight.

Six other Mexicans were wounded in the attack. The department said Tuesday their condition is stable. There were 14 or 15 Mexicans who were travelling on a desert oasis tour at the time.

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Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi on Tuesday called Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto to offer his condolences and reiterate that Egypt will provide all necessary medical assistance for the injured, presidency spokesman Alaa Youssef said in a statement in Cairo.

READ MORE: Egyptian forces mistakenly fire on desert safari, killing 12

Egyptian forces hunting militants in the country’s western desert mistakenly opened fire on several vehicles used by Mexican tourists, killing 12 people on Sunday.

The other dead are believed to be Egyptians.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri said Tuesday evening the government is investigating “the precise details of this tragedy,” adding that “the chain of events is still confusing and unclear.”

“We still do not know if the convoy was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, or if some error was involved,” Shukri said.

Egyptian officials initially said on Monday the tourists did not have permission to be in the area.

He didn’t mention any new information on the death toll or casualties from the incident.

Mexico’s Foreign Relations Secretary Claudia Ruiz Massieu called the aerial attack “an unjustified aggression.”

The sister of one of the Mexican tourists killed said her brother, Luis Barajas Fernandez, 49, had been visiting Egypt for the first time.

“He had never gone to Egypt before,” said Ana Barajas, who lives in the northern Mexico state of Tamaulipas. “It was for pleasure,” she said of the trip.

The married 49-year-old had worked as a salesman in hospital and medical supplies.

“It is an unparalleled hurt,” she said of his death, adding the Mexican government was going to take care of the response to her brother’s death, and the repatriation of his remains.

Two other Mexican dead have been identified by name as Maria de Lourdes Fernandez Rubio and Rafael Bejarano.

The incident, among the deadliest involving tourists in Egypt, comes as the country is trying to revive its vital tourism industry after the turmoil following the 2011 uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak.

Egypt has mainly been battling insurgents in the northern Sinai Peninsula, on the other side of the country, where Islamic militants stepped up attacks on security forces after the military ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in 2013 amid massive protests against his rule.

But in recent months, militants loyal to the Islamic State group have carried out a series of attacks in more central parts of the country, including the bombing of the Italian Consulate in Cairo and the kidnapping and beheading of a Croatian oil surveyor who was working in the capital.

Egyptian officials initially claimed the safari convoy had wandered into a restricted area. The tour company involved “did not have permits and did not inform authorities,” Rasha Azazi, a spokeswoman for the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism, earlier told The Associated Press, adding that any trips to that area must be cleared by officials. “They were not supposed to be there,” she said, without providing further information about the incident.

Egypt’s western desert has long been a popular safari destination, with tourists flocking to its verdant oases, unique rock formations and white sand dunes.

In recent years, however, it has been the subject of security concerns because of the long, porous border with Libya. Egypt has been flooded with weapons, mostly from Libya, since the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi and plunged that country into turmoil.

Egyptian security forces frequently target smugglers in the western desert, and in July 2014, gunmen armed with rocket-propelled grenades attacked a border guard post, killing 21 troops.