Connect with us
[bsa_pro_ad_space id=12]

National

Fans delirious as Raptors best Warriors to win NBA championship

Published

6 minute read

TORONTO — The Toronto Raptors, a team whose magical playoff run sparked civic pride and raucous enthusiasm across Canada, sent fans into fits of unbridled joy on Thursday as they beat the reigning champ Golden State Warriors in a see-saw thriller to win the NBA championship.

Thousands of spectators who jammed Jurassic Park, the fan zone outside the team’s empty downtown arena, to watch Game 6 of the finals on big screens erupted in gleeful pandemonium as the final buzzer sounded.

“This is the best day of my life!” said John Cooke, 35, of Toronto.

The crowd sang Queen’s “We Are the Champions” as they streamed into clogged streets. Some climbed poles and waved shirts, car horns blared in a triumphant cacophony.

“I’ve never been a part of something like this,” said Jocelyn Campbell, 23, of Toronto. “It’s magical.”

“And that’s how we do it in the North,” Prime Minister Trudeau tweeted above a photo of him, two of his children and a dog watching the game.

Fans had gathered both indoors and at dozens of outdoor venues across the country to cheer on a team from a city many Canadians love to hate, their enthusiasm measured by unusually jammed bars.

“It’s difficult to put into words what this means to me, but my love for my son — and the Raptors — is off the charts,” said John Drzazga, 41, of Grimsby, Ont., whose 10-year-old Dustin roamed the zone in an inflatable dinosaur suit with a two-metre tail.

Renowned Toronto rapper and Raptor global ambassador Drake said the team played with heart.

“We did this off of love,” Drake said after the game. “We willed this into existence.”

While most of the massive crowds in Toronto were boisterous but well behaved, some damaged two police cruisers trapped on one street and a transit bus on another. There were no immediate reports of any injuries or arrests.

Dozens of cities across Ontario also held packed viewing events as did many other places from coast to coast, such as Halifax, which threw a massive outdoor block party.

Montreal shut down two city blocks to allow the improbable: people cheering a team from Toronto. Thousands braved the rain, forming a red tide, as organizers handing out “We the North” T-shirts.

One man was booed when he arrived in a blue Warriors T-shirt. But he ripped it off to reveal a Raptors jersey. The Warriors shirt was set on fire, burning until police doused it. Fans in Regina, as they did on Monday, watched on the massive screen at the Roughriders’ home stadium, while Edmontonians headed to the Expo Centre.

Even in Rockford, Ill., hometown to Raptors star Fred VanVleet, fans began a party at 6 p.m. at the newly created Jurassic Park RKFD to watch their local hero perform.

“Fred is an amazing basketball player and a genuinely good person both on and off the court,” Mayor Tom McNamara said.

In Oakland, Calif., where the Warriors hosted the Raptors, cheers erupted in Oracle Stadium as Canadian singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan performed O Canada and Pat Monahan, of pop-rock act Train, sang The Star Spangled Banner before the tip-off.

Outside Christchurch, New Zealand, a Canadian flag hung on a suburban fence emblazoned, “Let’s Go Raptors” and “We the North.”

The win by the Raptors marked the first NBA team outside the U.S. to go all the way. Toronto Mayor John Tory said the city will have “the best parade ever” but offered no details. Media reported it would be held Monday, but police did not confirm that.

The win was also the first for a Canadian team in one of the big four professional sports since the Toronto Blue Jays won the 1993 World Series and

“I remember coming here as an immigrant from Sri Lanka in 1989 and we watched Joe Carter hit that home run for the Jays,” said Subi Mahan, 37, of Pickering, Ont., who was with his two boys, Kiyan, 6, and Kishan, 9. “(So) to be here and share this with my boys is amazing. This is what love is.”

According to latest figures from payments firm Moneris, spending in bars nationally jumped 63 per on Monday from the same day a year ago, when the Raptors lost a Game 5 nail-biter by a single point. Edmonton saw the biggest increase with spending jumping a whopping 279 per cent. Spending in Toronto area bars almost doubled.

Love of the Raptors, with their best performance in their 24 seasons, prompted Tory to don his now-signature black-and-gold blazer to visit the gathering crowd Thursday.

“It is beyond comprehension that people could be down here, huddled under these makeshift tents, for hours on end, more than a day, overnight,” Tory said. “It’s cold, it’s rainy, it’s been such a terrible spring, but they’ve been here week after week, day after day, and they’re the greatest fans in sports.”

-With files from Ugo Giguere in Montreal

Colin Perkel, Liam Casey, Paola Loriggio, , The Canadian Press


Storytelling is in our DNA. We provide credible, compelling multimedia storytelling and services in English and French to help captivate your digital, broadcast and print audiences. As Canada’s national news agency for 100 years, we give Canadians an unbiased news source, driven by truth, accuracy and timeliness.

Follow Author

Business

Allow unvaccinated Canadians to cross U.S. border, Poilievre asks President Joe Biden

Published on

U.S. President Joe Biden shakes hands with Conservative Party of Canada Leader Pierre Poilievre, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on, during a welcoming ceremony on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Friday, March 24, 2023. Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre says allowing Canadians who are unvaccinated against COVID-19 to cross into the United States was among issues he raised with President Joe Biden. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

By Stephanie Taylor in Ottawa

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said Friday he asked President Joe Biden to remove the U.S. government’s requirement that Canadians be vaccinated for COVID-19 before crossing the border.

He told reporters after their meeting that American citizens are no longer required to have their shots and Canada allows unvaccinated Americans to visit.

“There are millions of good, decent, honourable people who, through a personal medical decision, are discriminated against at the border,” Poilievre said.

“I encouraged the president to lift those restrictions to allow them freedom of mobility.”

Poilievre won the leadership of his party a little more than six months ago by mounting a vocal opposition to COVID-19 health restrictions, including mask and vaccine mandates, but he has since focused his message on cost-of-living issues.

He met with Biden on Parliament Hill Friday during the president’s 27-hour visit to the Canadian capital, and later shared a photo of the two online.

Michael Ignatieff was the last Opposition leader to have face time with a U.S president. The former Liberal leader met with former President Barack Obama in 2009. It happened at the airport.

Poilievre said Friday he found Biden wants to be a “friendly” and “decent” neighbour to Canada, and on a personal level, he said he told the president they share Irish heritage.

He said they discussed the need for Canada to bolster its defence systems and “bring fairness” to workers by seeing the U.S. exempt Canada from its Buy American policies.

The Tory leader also said he expressed a need for Biden to axe tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber, arguing that the long-standing dispute saw a brief reprieve under Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper.

“I don’t believe that Prime Minister (Justin) Trudeau has pushed and fought on behalf of Canadians,” he said.

Before the meeting, Poilievre had shared some unscripted moments with the leader of the free world.

As he stood in a receiving line of Canadian politicians from all parties who were greeting Biden upon his arrival at Parliament Hill, Poilievre introduced himself as the “Leader of His Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.”

That prompted Biden to question, still shaking Poilievre’s hand: “Loyal opposition?”

Poilievre assured him that yes, “we believe that opposition is an act of loyalty in our system.”

Biden chuckled, patting Poilievre on the arm.

“We do, too, unfortunately,” he said, chuckling.

Later, while addressing the House of Commons, Biden noted that both he and Trudeau appointed cabinets that were half women, making them the first in their respective countries to do so.

Many in the chamber broke out in applause.

Biden noticed that Poilievre and the Opposition Conservatives were not quick to rise, and quipped: “Even if you don’t agree, guys, I’d stand up,” which Poilievre and others then did.

Asked afterwards about that interaction, Poilievre said only: “We support gender equality for all Canadians.”

Poilievre was on the guestlist for a dinner with Biden Friday evening, along with other government ministers, officials and celebrities.

The invitation process came with a dash of partisanship.

Earlier in the day, staff in Poilievre’s office were left scratching their heads when they said it had not received an invite from Trudeau’s office to attend, and asserted that any suggestion he had refused the invitation was false.

The Prime Minister’s Office confirmed it had sent Poilievre notice of the dinner — but the invitation went to a personal email account that notifies senders it is not monitored.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 24, 2023.

Continue Reading

Federal Election 2021

Trudeau says he accepts MP’s choice to leave Liberal caucus amid meddling allegations

Published on

Then-Provincial Liberal candidate Han Dong celebrates with supporters while taking part in a nomination event, in Toronto, Thursday, May 22, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

By Stephanie Taylor in Ottawa

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he accepts Han Dong’s decision to leave the Liberal caucus after an allegation he spoke to a Chinese diplomat about delaying the release of two Canadians.

Trudeau sidestepped a question Friday about whether he believes the allegation, saying only that Canadians should watch Dong’s “strong” speech for themselves.

He said at a news conference alongside U.S. President Joe Biden, who was visiting Ottawa, that he fully accepts Dong left the Liberal caucus “to vigorously contest these allegations.”

The prime minister also added that he and Biden discussed foreign interference, and said it is “unacceptable,” whether from China or from other countries such as Russia and Iran.

Dong, a Toronto MP, announced he would sit as an Independent on Wednesday night, telling the House of Commons that he would defend himself against “absolutely untrue claims” regarding his alleged involvement in Chinese interference.

Global News published a report that night, citing unnamed security sources who alleged that Dong spoke about Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, who at that time had been detained in China for just over two years, with a Chinese diplomat in Toronto in February 2021.

The two Canadian men had been detained by China in December 2018, just over a week after the RCMP arrested Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver on a U.S. extradition warrant.

Global News alleged that Dong told China’s consul general in Toronto that releasing the men would benefit the Conservatives, but also that showing some “progress” in the case would help the Liberals.

The Canadian Press has not independently verified the allegations.

The MP said he met with the diplomat but disputes any suggestion he urged China to delay releasing Kovrig and Spavor, telling the House of Commons he did nothing to cause them harm.

Kovrig and Spavor were treated as honoured guests when Biden addressed the House of Commons on Friday.

Members of Parliament and others who packed the gallery gave the men no fewer than four standing ovations. It was their first time in public together since returning to Canada in September 2021.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre told reporters it was moving to see Kovrig and Spavor, whom he described as “two courageous men who survived unimaginable hell.”

Poilievre added: “I was very heartened that everyone in the chamber gave them such a warm welcome.”

The Tory leader declined to weigh in on the allegations against Dong, but repeated his position that holding a public inquiry is the only way to get to the bottom of China’s alleged meddling in Canadian affairs.

He noted that all opposition parties agree on that — and pointed out that even Dong himself voted in favour of a motion that called for a public inquiry, the day after he left the Liberal caucus.

“So for his sake and for everybody’s sake, and most importantly, for the sake of the truth, the prime minister has to end his cover up and call a full public inquiry,” Poilievre said.

Trudeau has not ruled out the possibility of calling a public inquiry, but he has said that any recommendation to do so will have to come from former governor general David Johnston, who was recently appointed to probe the issue as a special rapporteur.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 24, 2023.

Continue Reading

Trending

X