5 Things To Know Today
Extreme cold weather and snow making another tough commute this morning. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird to resign today. Target liquidations could start Thursday. Mayor Tory ask TDSB to consult with city before selling school property. Trial begin for VIA Rail terror plot suspects.
EXTREME COLD AND SNOW MAKING ANOTHER TOUGH COMMUTE THIS MORNING
There’s no need to put the shovel away after digging out from yesterday’s blast of winter. Another round is coming tonight, although less than 5cm of snow is expected. Toronto is still under an extreme cold weather alert, with the windchill this morning at -22°C. The same storm system that battered us yesterday has hit the east coast and is headed for Newfoundland, where they’re expecting gale force winds of up to 130km/h. On the U.S. east coast, up to 45cm of snow is expected in parts of Maine by late this morning, after Boston already was hit with 50cm.
It’s not just the bitter winds making for a rough commute into work, as the slippery conditions are delaying trains, and in some cases, taking them off the tracks altogether. The TTC says shuttle buses are subbing in for the 502, 503 and 511 streetcar routes, while GO transit says riders should expect delays, as the aging equipment doesn’t fare well in the frigid cold. Temperatures are expected to hover around -15 during rush hour, but could feel cooler with the wind. The first train that to leave Aldershot GO station on Lakeshore West Tuesday morning operated as an express due to a “weather-related” problem on the track. However, GO says they don’t believe the ride in will be as rough as yesterday, where some trains were cancelled completely. In addition to their woe’s, GO transit’s website is also going through a glitch. Their “Service At-A-Glance” is also unavailable during the rush hour.
FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER JOHN BAIRD TO RESIGN TODAY
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, one of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s most trusted cabinet ministers, is expected to resign from his post. Many Conservative sources are telling the Canadian Press that Baird is not seeking re-election, but is instead looking for work in the public sector. “He’s had a successful career in both provincial and federal Parliaments, this was simply the right time to move on,” an anonymous source told the Canadian Press, “The minister is looking to turn the page on 20 years of public service, and like anyone in public office is looking for new opportunities at the young age of 45.” Baird has held many high-profile positions in Harper’s cabinet, including the transport and environment files. Most recently, he had been working to release Al Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy from a prison in Egypt and it looks like it will be a success. Fahmy’s family confirms that he could be let out of an Egyptian prison today. The 40-year-old was arrested with two colleagues 14-months ago. One of those men was freed and deported on Sunday. Reports suggest International Trade Minister Ed Fast could become Baird’s replacement. Baird is scheduled to make a statement in the House of Commons at 10am on Tuesday.
TARGET LIQUIDATIONS SALES COULD START THURSDAY
Bargain hunters will be happy to hear that Target’s liquidations sales could start as soon as Thursday. However, the retailer still needs court approval – which it will seek on Wednesday – before it can start selling off the merchandise. The U.S.-based retailer announced last month that it will be closing all 133 Canadian stores, laying off more than 17,000 employees, just two years after its highly anticipated launch north of the border.
MAYOR TORY ASKS TDSB TO CONSULT WITH CITY BEFORE SELLING SCHOOL PROPERTY
Mayor John Tory says he wants the city to be in the loop when it comes to the sales of underused schools in the Toronto District School Board. According to the Globe and Mail, his team sent a two-page letter to board chair Shaun Chen, saying Tory was critical of the “polarized” debate over the fate of Toronto schools. Earlier this month, the TDSB said the under-utilized schools were costing the province around $1 billion annually. “We want to make sure that rather than spending $1 billion on supporting empty space that we’re actually spending money on the kids that are there,” says Minister of Education, Liz Sandals. The report suggested 1 in 5 schools could close, with the board under pressure from the province to sell the surplus property. The city has no formal say in the future of the properties, but Tory believes they should be involved in the discussion, saying the spaces have a significant impact on residents and communities. The school board must decide the fate of the schools by the provincially-imposed deadline of Feb. 13th.
TRAIL BEGINS FOR VIA RAIL TERROR PLOT SUSPECTS
The trail will resume Tuesday in Toronto in the case of two men accused of planning a terrorist attack on a VIA Rail passenger train. Raed Jaser and Chiheb Esseghaier are both pleading not guilty to multiple charges against them. In their first day in court, Crown lawyer Croft Michaelson said the pair made up a terrorist group operating in Canada in 2012. They believe the two were motivated by Islamic extremism, and allegedly spent months plotting to murder as many people as they could as a way to ” instill fear in the community.” “Mr. Esseghaier and Mr. Jaser, motivated by Islamic extremism,” Michaelson said in his opening remarks, “They did this so that Canadians and Americans would remove their troops from Muslim lands.” He also believes Esseghaier met with people who were “carrying out Jihad for the sake of Allah” in Iran. It’s alleged the two plotted to attack a train running between Canada and the U.S. The plan was thwarted when the two traveled on a scouting trip in September 2012, when the two were approached by officers. The two were arrested in April 2013.