Happy holidays? Thousands of Canadians face cold, dark Christmas after ice storm


Susan Luxton was looking forward to her family’s annual viewing of It’s a Wonderful Life and planning Christmas dinner for 14 when the power went out three nights ago in Toronto’s tree-lined High Park neighbourhood.

Branches from the 100-year-old oak trees that line her street came crashing down, knocking out power lines in one of the worst ice storms to hit Canada’s biggest city. Luxton put her turkey in the trunk of her car to keep it cold, and fled to relatives to stay warm.

“We had no power to watch the movie and the house was slowly getting colder,” Luxton, a 46-year old writer, said at a coffee shop where she was keeping warm with her sons, Charlie, 13, and Nate, 10. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t have power for Christmas.”

With at least 200,000 homes and businesses still without power in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick, and temperatures forecast to dip to minus 14 degrees Celsius (7 degrees Fahrenheit), it will be a cold, dark Christmas for many in Eastern Canada.

Toronto has borne the brunt of the storm after freezing rain and snow on Dec. 21 collapsed icy tree limbs onto power lines and disabled transport networks. Crews will be brought in from as far as Michigan and Manitoba to help restore power as families try to salvage Christmas plans.

Outages have been reduced to about 90,000 for Toronto Hydro customers from a peak of about 300,000 as feeder lines have been restored. The last 50,000 homes will be the hardest as crews work house by house to repair downed cables. Some customers probably won’t have power before Christmas Day, Mayor Rob Ford said.

“We’d like to say this will be done tomorrow,” Ford told reporters at city hall today. “That’s not going to happen.”

Twenty-five “warming” halls at community centres and police stations have been opened up in the city offering food, a bed or warm showers as officials warned against using barbecues or outdoor generators inside.

“It won’t be the same as being at home, but we’re doing the best we can,” Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne told reporters today. Wynne is among the Toronto residents who lost power to her home.

About 774 people spent last night in the shelters, according to the city. One of the shelters is at The Dennis R. Timbrell Community Centre, at Eglinton and Don Mills. The centre has opened up its auditorium to the public.

On Tuesday, beds were set up in rows and some snacks, juice and coffee were available, along with Red Cross volunteers. Families had come with their kids to seek shelter from the cold.

The Wu family had gone to the shelter after losing power two days ago. They said they hoped they would not have to spend Christmas in the shelter.

“We are checking but we don’t have power back yet,” said Calvin Wu, adding that it has been fairly comfortable in the warming centre.

Volunteers provided meals at the centre. There was lasagna and soup for dinner last night, and toast, sandwiches and yogurt for breakfast this morning.

Two people in Ontario died after carbon monoxide from a gas generator entered their home while 110 calls were made to emergency services for carbon-related issues, city officials said at a press conference this morning.

The outages are forcing some residents to flock to hotels for food and shelter. Fadi Chamoun, a transportation analyst with Bank of Montreal, and his wife Karen wasted no time decamping their three children to a room at Toronto’s Fairmont Royal York hotel after they woke up without power three days before Christmas.

“We have a lot of trees on our street and it was like a warzone almost,” Karen Chamoun said in the hotel lobby. “It was a fire hazard and wires were everywhere.”

The family is on a waiting list for Christmas dinner at the hotel restaurant, whose 1,365 rooms are full today, and may have to use room service, she said. In the meantime, Lara, 4, Jaden, 2, and baby Kylie, have been taking many trips to the toy store on the hotel’s lower level and are looking to buy bathing suits for a trip to the hotel pool.

“For them it’s fine,” she said. “It’s an adventure. We’re going to go home and get the toys under our tree and then we’re coming back to this hotel.”

The Eaton Chelsea hotel, which claims to be Canada’s largest with 1,600 rooms, said it’s at capacity today after opening 200 rooms that were previously closed for renovations to accommodate the inflow of guests. Customers were lining up to check in with pillows in one hand and dogs in the other, said Ken Gruber, director of marketing of the hotel.

‘We’re going to go home and get the toys under our tree and then we’re coming back to this hotel’

The jump in business at hotels may help offset lost Christmas sales. Business dropped 18% at the downtown Eaton’s Centre on Dec. 22 while some Toronto malls were closed for lack of power on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

Stores have been extending hours to try and make up for lost business with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. opening to as late as 10 p.m on Christmas Eve at some Ontario locations.

The storm will decrease monthly gross domestic by less than a tenth of 1%, Paul Ferley, assistant chief economist at Royal Bank of Canada, the country’ second-largest lender by assets, said in a phone interview.

Aside from Toronto Hydro, regional utilities in the province are reporting about 70,000 customers without power while Hydro Quebec has about 22,000 without power and New Brunswick about 42,000, according to their websites.

David Edwards, a 61-year-old cantor at Toronto’s Beth Emeth Bais Yehuda synagogue had already booked a Christmas stay at the Royal York with his wife when their power came back on after a night. He stayed at the hotel and invited friends to use his house.

“We had already packed our car and were ready to drive away,” he said. “We called a friend of ours who was still in an outage situation, so there were three people sleeping in our house last night.”

Nathalin Moy, an engineering science student at the University of Toronto, says she’s been fine in the university’s residence, but her parents have left their home at Leslie and Sheppard in favour of a hotel.

“I honestly don’t know what we’re doing tonight” she said, “We’re expecting relatives from Ottawa but we clearly have nowhere to house them.”

Moy said this morning she’s still not sure what their plan is, but says as far as she knows her relatives are still planning to come in.

For others without power in the city, it’s a great excuse for some alone time.

Writer Sue Maynard says for her, Christmas in the dark means “candles with my cats.” She’s charging her e-reader at work right now for some entertainment later on, and hopefully light. Maynard posted a picture of her hallway at home this morning — a black square with a minuscule dot of light in the centre.

Maynard’s home just off Yonge north of Eglinton has been in the dark since about 7 p.m. Sunday. She says it’s strange seeing lights on Yonge so close, but having no power herself.

“It’s like two different worlds,” she said

She says that usually she works a lot of the holidays, so Christmas itself is usually just a day off. This year, she’s going to try to stay warm and conserve her cell phone battery. “And force my cats to snuggle with me” she said, “because they can be like little heaters.”

Bloomberg News, with files from Sarah Spitz and Inayat Singh, National Post

Source National Post

Our view

In Ontario December 25, 2013 is a time when thousands of young children are incarcerated, most needlessly and due to fabrication of evidence by Ontario's
secretive unaccountable 48 private corporations called "The Children's Aid Society of Ontario".

Ontario lawyers call them "The Gestapo". Ryerson University have a video called "Powerful as God" at www.Blakout.ca It's a must view for any parent in Ontario or thinking of immigrating to Ontario.

Every day, literally hundreds of parents are forced to flee Ontario to avoid having their children apprehended by "The Gestapo", or "The Baby Snatchers" who are professional criminals engaged in the habitual practice of Fabricating Evidence for funding purposes and of course their own jobs.

Here are some examples.
Marguerite Isobel Lewis is a lawyer for the Children's Aid Society of Ottawa who personally fabricates evidence in a judicial proceeding, that is directly knowingly makes false statements to a judge in order to keep children in care of the CAS to, cover for fabrication of evidence and obstruction of justice by a Child Protection Worker, Phillip Hiltz-Laforge.

If you go to court in Ottawa and ask a judge for an order to have your child returned because the CAS don't have any evidence to justify the arrest of your child or keeping your child incarcerated, you end up with a Former CAS lawyer who after many years of working for that criminal organization, became a judge where they

decide to exclusively hear cases involving their former employee.

Normally ethical judges do NOT hear cases involving their old law firm however, if you work for the CAS, you have no accountability you are above the law and therefore the law does not apply to you.

Every day in Ontario, justice is denied to thousands of children who are kept incarcerated because we have dead beat corrupt former CAS lawyers turned judge who "rubber stamp" CAS requests which insult the intelligence of the community.

It gets worse, without fail, in Ottawa Ontario, every single judge of the Ontario Superior Court turns a blind eye to criminal offences by Marguerite Isobel Lewis apparently because she is next in line to be "anointed" to the Judiciary as is the corrupt custom in Ontario to anoint judges because they worked for the Corrupt Children's Aid Society of Ontario.

The Ontario Judiciary is riddled with judges who were former CAS lawyers and it is for this reason, that Child Protection in Ontario has turned into a Billion Dollar Fraud and Ontario Taxpayers can thank our Judiciary who give the "Power of God" to

the corrupt Child Abusers of Ontario.

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