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    A settlement agreement between the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario and the City of Mississauga is being hailed today as a victory for First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples across the country.

    Brad Grallant, a Mississauga resident of Mi'kmaq ancestry, first filed a complaint against his city in 2015 over its subsidization of youth sports teams with Indigenous names and logos.

    The resulting case caught the attention of Ontario's Human Rights Commission, which called the logos in question "insensitive to the ancestry of Indigenous people" and further worked to highlight the impacts of racism and cultural appropriation on Indigenous youth through the case.

    Five hockey organizations in particular were named by Gallant, whose children play hockey, in his complaint: The Mississauga Braves, the Mississauga Chiefs, the Mississaugua Reps, Lorne Park Ojibwa and the Meadowvale Mohawks (which now go more simply by 'The Hawks').

    At the time, there were at least 40 youth teams in Ontario with mascots derived from Indigenous culture.

    "Despite some of the progress we have made as a society, the reality is that every single day in this country, Indigenous people face discrimination," said Gallant in a statement this week announcing that the case had been resolved.

    "We need to work to tear down the structures of discrimination, and we can start with the continued use of Indigenous peoples as
    mascots for sports teams," he continued. "These types of images and mascots are harmful and have a negative effect on both Indigenous and non-Indigenous kids."

    Thanks to his efforts, the City of Mississauga has agreed to strip all sports facilities of any Indigenous-themed "mascots, symbols, names and imagery related to non-Indigenous sports organizations."

    The city has also pledged to expand its diversity training to address reconciliation and develop a policy related to the use of Indigenous images and themes at its sports facilities.

    Further to this, the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board school board has agreed to "end the use of Indigenous logos and mascots at its schools" as a result of Gallant's complaint.

    The School Board is also amending its dress codes to prohibit students from wearing Indigenous mascots on clothing or bags both at school and when attending school-related events.

    "I want to make sure that my daughters and other Indigenous kids won't have to be confronted by these hurtful images and logos when they go to school," said Gallant in a press release today.

    "In time, I hope that together these commitments by Mississauga's institutions can play a small role in helping Canadians reconcile themselves with our culture's tolerance of Indigenous racism, and seek to change."


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    It's currently more expensive to rent an apartment or condo in Toronto than anywhere else in Canada. Who'd havethought?

    The apartment hunting website Padmapper released its monthly cross-country rent analysis for December, 2018 on Thursday and, much to the delight of Vancouver, probably, the 6ix still reigns supreme as "most likely to eat your entire paycheque."

    One bedroom units are now going for $2,260, on average in the City of Toronto, up 1.8 per cent over the month previous.

    Two bedrooms are hanging at $2,850, which is only 0.7 per cent more expensive than what we saw in October, but a startling 15.9 per cent up over the same period of time last year.

    For comparison's sake, consider the cost-per-month of a two-bedroom place in Canada's fourth most-expensive city for renters, Montreal: $1,780.

    A one bedroom will run you $1,450 on average in that city, kind of like it would have in Toronto ten years ago.

    Here's Padmapper's full list of average rental prices across the country right now. Is Saskatoon nice? Asking for a friend...padmapper december 2018


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    The deadline to opt out of retail cannabis stores is fast approaching in Ontario, and Toronto just made a decision. 

    Unlike Mississauga, Markham, and potentially more to come, Toronto has decided to allow physical cannabis retail stores within the city's borders. 

    The provincial government gave a short, one-time deadline to municipalities to say "no" to cannabis stores. That deadline is January 22, mere months before the sale of weed at brick-and-mortar retail stores is legalized in April.

    Presently, customers can only legally purchase marijuana from the Ontario Cannabis Store website. 

    Today, Toronto City Council voted 20-4 to opt in. The result comes as Mayor John Tory says municipalities should have greater control over where stores are placed. City council also plans to push for that control.

    One city councillor asked that wards be able to make their own decisions separate from the city, but council gave a resounding "no." 

    So, whether municipalities gain more control is a debate for further down the road, but for now, at least, Torontonians will soon be able to buy their weed in peace without shipping delay headaches

    Sorry, Mississauga.


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    Friday is here and there's more than a few great things happening during events in Toronto today. A stellar group of DJs are spinning tracks at Rejuvenated Frequencies, while a free screening of Love Actually is on and the city's newest arts hub is hosting a market.

    Events you might want to check out:

    Love Actually (December 14 @ Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema)
    Hot Docs for the Holidays kicks off a month of free flicks with a screening of romantic comedy Love Actually. Don't forget to bring a donation!
    Hernan Cattaneo (December 14 @ The Opera House)
    Get ready for a night of Argentinian progressive house beats courtesy of ‘El Maestro' Hernan Cattaneo to get you into the groove for the weekend.
    Rejuvenated Frequencies (December 14 @ Music Gallery)
    Get to know the women leading Toronto's new music scene with a night of tunes by VHVL, Korea Town Acid, YourHomieNaomi and curated by Obuxum.
    Jessica Moss (December 14 @ Burdock)
    Montreal's Jessica Moss has taken her talent solo to present a new body of work that incorporates classical violin elements with electro sounds.
    Slay Belles (December 14 @ The Rec Room)
    A holiday slay is in order with Drag Race's Phi Phi O'Hara arriving to host an epic night of fierce hits, hot dance, and drag performances all night long.
    A Very Superkick'd Christmas Special (December 14 @ The Great Hall)
    Christmas is for wrestling and this show is jam-packed with sweaty slams from Santa, Luchadores and even Krampus all wrapped up into one.
    Showdown (December 14 @ Lee's Palace)
    Six party games and five burlesque performers make up this show that's a burlesque show within a gameshow within a burlesque show.
    Withrow's Winter Market (December 14-15 @ Crow's Theatre)
    Two days of local shopping is on at the Crowsnest featuring handcrafted goods, artisanal foods and farmers themselves, plus food, drink and music.
    Artscape Daniels Launchpad Holiday Market (December 14-15 @ Artscape Daniels Launchpad)
    This huge, brand new space is opening up for a makers market with over 30 vendors selling all kinds of handmade goods over two days.
    The Fifth Element (December 14-16 @ Cinesphere)
    Another Bruce Willis classic, this futurist sci-fi thriller centres around good and evil in a world beyond the stars.

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    This award-winning home is stunning. The New-York style semi-detached Victorian townhouse offers big rooms, high ceilings and luxurious details.

    41 heath street w torontoAs is typical with old Victorian homes, the living, dining and kitchen areas are all on the main floor. They’re beautiful with marble columns and a cozy fireplace.

    41 heath street w torontoOff the living room is a sunny solarium with French doors that walk out into the private yard. The yard is a stone patio and there’s lots of shrubbery, which I’m sure come summer is lovely.

    41 heath street w torontoBack inside, the kitchen has been renovated and, while narrow, has enough room to be an eat-in kitchen. The big windows at the back give tons of natural light.

    41 heath street w torontoMy favourite room in the entire house is on the second floor and is a library built into a bedroom. It reminds me of old university study rooms in Europe with the dark wood, custom bookshelves and old windows.

    41 heath street w torontoThe master bedroom is bright, airy and has a gas fireplace.

    41 heath street w torontoThe master suite also has a spectacular 6-piece en suite bathroom with high ceilings and skylights which let natural light flood the room.

    41 heath street w torontoOn the third floor there’s a family room and another bedroom.41 heath street w toronto

    The Essentials
    Why it sold for what it did?

    The size of the property, combined with the locale, renovations and luxurious details. This home is on the same level as some of the Rosedale homes.  41 heath street w toronto

    Was it worth it?

    While I have feeling that the art in the house is worth more than the actual home, I still think the house is worth it. The place is cozy, bright and beautiful. It’s also in a great neighbourhood, next to some pretty prestigious schools.41 heath street w toronto


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    Food events in Toronto this week bring on the festive cheer with a gingerbread making competition and Caribbean Christmas Market. A traditional rijsttafel is on and there's a stout, cider and beer festival to look forward to this winter.

    Events you might want to check out:

    Coffee Cupping (December 14 @ Tucana Coffee)
    Coffee and its many nuances gets explored during this tasting session with brews from all over the world and talks on their unique attributes.
    Caribbean Christmas Market (December 15 @ Ralph Thornton Community Centre)
    All kinds of traditional Caribbean goodies are on at this holiday market with food and huge local makers market with gifts and accessories.
    Extreme Home Makeover Gingerbread Edition (December 15 @ Big Rock Brewery)
    Try out your gingerbread house making skills at this building competition with prizes for the winners and a beer included in the ticket price.
    Babes Who Brunch (December 15 @ Joe Bird)
    Boss babes are gathering for two-course brunch and inspiring speakers on hand from including fitness owner Sarah Taylor.
    Champagne Christmas (December 15 @ Spaces Queen West)
    A stylish Christmas affair is going down during this annual champagne party featuring drinks, activities, entertainment and gorgeous rooftop views.
    Hogtown Holiday Party (December 15 @ People's Pint Brewing Company)
    A gift exchange, nerdy fun and a whole lotta craft beer are all part of this holiday party at this DIY brewery.
    December Rijsttafel (December 16 @ Borrel)
    Dutch-Indonesian food and lots of it are on at this monthly feast, with a rice table filled with different kinds of traditional flavours, meats and veggies.
    Holiday Fundraiser and Brunch (December 16 @ Dominion Pub & Kitchen)
    A huge holiday party is on in support of Red Door Family Shelter with tons of festivities including food, drinks, activities and lots more.
    Festival of Stouts (December 21 @ Indie Alehouse Barrel House)
    Stout lovers can have a taste of tons of different stouts from all over Ontario (and one from Quebec) during this festival dedicated to the strong brew.
    Robbie Burns Dinner (January 25 @ The National Club)
    Famed Scottish poet Robbie Burns is once again celebrated with a day in his honour with food, drinks and traditional festivities.
    Lady Beer Fest Winter Warm Up (February 9 @ Henderson Brewery Parking Lot)
    The Society of Beer Drinking Ladies is celebrating five years of beer with a festival featuring drinks, women-owned food vendors and a marketplace.
    Wassail Cider Festival (February 9 @ Brickworks Ciderhouse)
    Ten local Ontario cideries will be on hand for this festival with a day of samples, food, a toasting of the trees, live music and more festive fun.
    Recipe for Change (February 21 @ The Globe and Mail Centre)
    A celebration of women chefs is on with a huge feast with over 30 chefs serving up food, drinks and challenging barriers in the industry.

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    Toronto seems to constantly be at war with the provincial government, and today is no different. 

    While opting in to allowing cannabis stores in Toronto, City Council also moved a motion to demand more control over them from the province. 

    Currently, one of the only location rules for cannabis shops is that they must be a minimum of 150 metres from the nearest school. 

    But, according to the city council vote, and Mayor John Tory's comments earlier this week, that's not enough. 

    "While today's vote on cannabis will see Toronto become a part of a regulatory regime and allow cannabis retail stores, I do not believe it provides adequate ability for the City of Toronto to protect people and neighbourhoods," Tory said in a statement on Thursday. 

    Other councillors expressed support for the regulation of cannabis store locations, especially where it concerns preventing them from popping up near sensitive neighbouring institutions.

    Councillor Mike Colle voiced worry over dispensaries opening near libraries, playgrounds, mental health facilities, and other locations where they may be damaging.

    Meanwhile, Councillor Jim Karygiannis made an attempt to pass a motion to allow individual wards to opt out of the stores. 

    The physical locations of cannabis stores are set to open April, 2019. However, that has now changed to a lottery system, where only 25 stores can open at first, with more in the future. 

    I'm sure one day all of this mess will settle. Maybe. 


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    Last night, less than one hour after Toronto voted in favour of allowing physical pot shops within city limits, Doug Ford's PC government announced yet another surprise change to the rules: There can only be 25.

    Yes, only 25 recreational Cannabis retail stores will now be allowed to open on April 1, 2019, according to Ontario finance minister Vic Fedeli, on account of "national supply shortages."

    That's not 25 stores in Toronto, mind you—it's 25 stores across the entire province, each to be chosen by the AGCO in a lottery system next month.

    Previous to this, Ontario had promised there would be no cap on the number of licenses issued to businesses that wished to sell marijuana when brick-and-mortar cannabis stores became legal in April (though any one operator could only have 75 locations accross the province, maximum).

    "It is the federal government's responsibility to oversee cannabis production and to provide a viable alternative to the illegal market by ensuring there is sufficient supply to meet consumer demand," reads a statement from Fedeli and Attorney General Caroline Mulroney issued Thursday night.

    "Yet, we continue to see severe supply shortages across the country in legal, licensed recreational cannabis stores," it continues.

    Thus, says the government, it "cannot in good conscience issue an unlimited number of licences to businesses in the face of such shortages."

    Fedeli and Mulroney blame the federal government for failing "to provide certainty around future supply" and say that the issue "demands an immediate response from Justin Trudeau."

    Once Ford's government is certain that supply levels are adequate, it will "communicate next steps for additional private retail stores."

    No expected date for that to happen is given, but the government does assure that its lottery for issuing a private retail licence is a "temporary model."

    In the meantime, Torontonians can still legally purchase weed online from the government's own Ontario Cannabis Store... or, you know, purchase it from whoever has already been supplying the country in spades for decades. 


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    The Toronto area is losing another spot for cheap buys, as Bobby's Liquidation Outlet in Markham has announced that it is closing. 

    The huge warehouse on Steeles Avenue announced today that it will be having a gigantic store closing sale, with huge discounts on everything in stock—some of it by as much as 80 per cent. 

    After the liquidation outlet, well, liquidates, it will close on January 20. The owner, Ari Starr, plans to shutter the warehouse and redevelop it. What will become of it is not currently known. 

    Bobby's has everything, from furniture, to clothing, to large appliances, and more. So, if you're looking for that post-Christmas purchase of whatever you wanted but didn't receive, this could be the time to buy it.


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    New cheap eats in the Annex have lots to contend with. A student hub, it’s one of Toronto’s capitals for a quick and reasonably priced nosh. These new places, however, are already making their mark in the neighbourhood.

    Here are my picks for the top new cheap eats in the Annex.

    Zaad

    Shawarma made the way it is back in the Middle East, cooked on a rotating spit with lamb fat, now has a home at Spadina and Bloor. Ali Baba’s, meet your maker. 

    Bang Bang Burrito

    Late night poutine burritos are now on offer at this place conveniently located near Spadina, steps from St. George station and the U of T campus.

    Santouka

    Ramen is always good for a low-priced filling meal, and now the area has this new spot for the Japanese noodle soup near Bathurst.

    Miya Bhai

    Indian meets Chipotle at this spot on Bathurst just north of Bloor that puts the emphasis on customization, with items like vegan butter chicken tacos and tandoori salmon salad. 

    Bombay Roti

    It’s impossible to be hungry after a meal of roti, and this new place on Bloor near Bathurst is serving it up on the cheap.


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    One of Toronto's popular seafood joints is closing.

    It's only been two years since Lbs., the sustainable seafood restaurant pronounced "Pounds', moved into the ground floor of the office building at Yonge and Adelaide. 

    Lobster lovers have until the end of this year to order the restaurant's massive Poseidon seafood tower with wine pairings until they close forever.

    According to Lbs.'s Chef Jonathan Jonathan Williams, their New Year's Eve service will be the last dinner. No details on why the restaurant is closing have been given. 


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    For every one dollar of disposable income, the average Toronto resident now owes $2.08 to the bank, mortgage lender, credit card company or wherever else they've been borrowing from (*cough* OSAP). 

    This, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, puts the debt-to-income ratio for those living in Toronto at a whopping 208 per cent—the highest recorded ratio in the city during the same time period since 2015.

    The CMHC, a federal crown corporation which assists in affordable housing development, just released its quarterly national report on Mortgage and Consumer Credit Trends for the second quarter of 2018.

    Overall, the picture isn't terrible, with a mortgages accounting for the lion's share of debt nation wide (though "growth in outstanding credit card balances" did accelerate to its highest level in seven years during Q2).

    The rising debt-to-income ratio in Canada has slowed down, according to the CMHC, but "remains near a record high" at around 170 per cent. Vancouver is the only city with a higher debt-to-income ratio than Toronto at approximately 242 per cent.

    debt to income toronto

    Data from Equifax, Statistics Canada and the Conference Board of Canada suggests that mortgages make up more than two thirds of all debt across the country. Image via CMHC.

    What concerns the CMHC is how vulnerable people living in both of Canada's biggest cities are to increasing interest rates.

    "With interest rates on the rise, highly indebted households could see their increased required payments exceed their budgets," reads a report released by the agency on Thursday.

    "The increased debt payment burden may come at the cost of reduced consumption, decreased savings or opting to make lower repayments on principal amounts."

    "Some households might even default on their loans if their incomes are not sufficient to cover higher expenses and credit charges," it warns, noting that such a trend could negatively impact other areas of the economy.

    It's a scary picture, given that the Bank of Canada has already raised its key interest rate five times since last July. Another hike is expected in 2019, says the Canadian Press, which will only make existing debts even harder to pay off.


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    The best late night poutine in Toronto will satisfy your craving for Canadian comfort food in the wee hours of the morning. Potatoes, gravy, and cheesy—gooey goodness always tastes better when the sun goes down.

    Here is the best late night poutine in Toronto.

    8 - W Burger Bar

    You can get large, gooey servings of classic Quebec-style poutine or fries with Canadian back bacon at this popular night-out eatery at Yonge and College. It's open until 2 a.m. from Thursday to Saturday.
    7 - 7 West

    The first floor of this restaurant on Charles Street is a 24/7 affair. Their thick cut fries are a straightforward, classic poutine, making it a perfect snack when you're craving something cheesy no matter the time of day.
    10 - ASAP City Church St.

    They may be known for sandwiches but this sammies chain with two more stores in <a href="https://www.blogto.com/restaurants/asap-city-scarborough-toronto/">Scarborough</a> and on <a href="https://www.blogto.com/restaurants/asap-city-church-toronto/">Church</a> also carries poutine you can order until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.They have a classic version, but the real killer is the ASAPoutine with tandoori and curry.
    3 - Poutini's (King West)

    Open until 3:30 a.m. on weekends, you can head to either of Poutini's locations on King West and <a href="https://www.blogto.com/restaurants/poutinis/">Queen Street.</a> There's nine delicious, gravy-drenched options for sale from this popular poutine purveyor.
    6 - Lou Dawg's (Gerrard East)

    Only one location remains of this student-friendly spot, making it more of a staple than ever. Located on Gerrard East just steps from Ryerson, this Southern BBQ spot serves its poutine until 4 a.m. daily.
    9 - Jumbo Burgers

    There's nothing like hitting up an old school burger joint to satisfy any type of late night greasy cravings. This classic destination is on Runnymede Road, and you can order their poutine until 2 a.m. every day except Sunday.
    4 - Smoke's Poutinerie (Adelaide)

    It may not be your go-to option during the day, but this poutine chain has several stores scattered across the city and they serve fries well into the night. Head in as late as 4 a.m. for most locations.
    5 - Lakeview Restaurant

    Head to this diner at Dundas and Ossington for a surprisingly delicious menu of poutines like the mix of sweet potato fries 'n' gravy, or the Disco Fries, which are as fun as they sound. You can grab them 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
    11 - Beerbistro

    Probably the most upscale spot to grab poutine on this list, Beerbistro in the Financial District serves a mean bowl of gravied fries. Their fries come with decadent toppings like beef cheek and chicken tenders, which work perfectly with their beers on tap. Eat here until 2 a.m. Thursday to Saturday.

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    Last year's outbreak of VR fever has been contained, it seems, prompting at least one major player in the entertainment industry to do an about-face midgame.

    IMAX has confirmed that it will be shutting down its relatively new, state-of-the-art virtual reality arcade at Toronto's Scotiabank Theatre in early 2019, barely more than a year after opening it in the first place.

    Launched in November of 2017, the IMAX VR Centre was the first of its kind in Canada and one of only four such venues worldwide (after New York, Los Angeles and Shanghai).

    The Mississauga-based cinema tech giant has since launched three more centres... and shut down four.

    Now, with only three locations remaining—one in Toronto, one in Bangkok and one in L.A.—IMAX plans to kill off its VR program entirely.

    "In connection with the company's previously-announced strategic review of its virtual reality pilot initiative, the company has decided to close its remaining VR locations and write-off certain VR content investments," reads an SEC filing uncovered by Variety earlier this week.

    A spokesperson for IMAX confirmed in a statement that all three of its locations would be closing sometime before this spring.

    "With the launch of the IMAX VR centre pilot program our intention was to test a variety of different concepts and locations to determine which approaches work well," reads the statement.

    "After a trial period with VR centres in multiplexes, we have decided to conclude the IMAX VR centre pilot program and close the remaining three locations in Q1 2019."

    IMAX CEO Richard Gelford had alluded to the fact that this might be coming in an earnings call earlier this year, telling investors that "consumer reaction was extremely positive, but the numbers just weren’t there."

    Now remains the question of what Cineplex plans to do with the recently-gutted first floor of its theatre on Richmond Street. Might I suggest a drug store? They're all the rage downtown.


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    Premier Doug Ford is certainly making good on his promise to "cut the fat," as they say, out of Ontario's budget as the province attempts to tackle its whopping $14.5 billion deficit.

    Too bad for all of that muscle, bone, and cartilage getting in the way.

    It's been just shy of six months since Ford's PC government took office, and in that time they've pulled funds from youth pharmacare, the basic income pilot, French-language education, French in generaleducation in general, Toronto in general, and more environmental protection programs than you can shake a fist at.

    Meanwhile, they've launched their own "North Korea-style" news channel and say they're expanding Toronto's subway line to Pickering.

    None of this has gone over particularly well with everybody in the province, nor is it even working. Moody's just downgraded the province of Ontario's credit rating, saying that the Ford government's moves to "reduce revenue levels" will put even more of a strain on our budget in the future.

    This week, the government announced cuts to the Ontario College of Midwives and the Ontario Arts Council's Indigenous Culture Fund.

    The Ontario College of Midwives is the regulatory body that oversees the province's nearly 1,000 registered midwives, who together deliver roughly 15 per cent of all babies in Ontario.

    "The College has been advised that the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care will no longer provide operational grants to the College," reads a statement published by the organization earlier this week.

    "We were also advised that this decision is retroactive to April 1, 2018," the statement continues. "This means that the funding we had anticipated for the current fiscal year [roughly $750,000] will not be received."

    The government also just cut base funding to the Ontario Arts Council by $5 million, with an additional $2.25 worth of cuts to the council's Indigenous Culture Fund.

    That fund, set up in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's Calls to Action, was established in 2017 "to support First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities, culture and way of life."

    The Ford government cut base funding to the Ontario Arts Council by $5 million, as well as a $2.25 million cut to the Indigenous Culture Fund (ICF), which commissions projects that "support First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities, culture and way of life."

    "Indigenous youth need every opportunity to learn about and embrace their proud heritage and cultural traditions — opportunities robbed from many of their parents and grandparents through the residential school system," reads a description of the program on the province's own website.

    "The Fund will support cultural activities in Ontario's Indigenous communities, including on-reserve and in urban centres, with the goals of revitalizing cultural practices, raising awareness of the vitality of Indigenous cultures in Ontario and promoting reconciliation."

    Not anymore, I guess.