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Ottawa Citizen rejects Senators’ request to take down players’ Uber video

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  • A major Canadian newspaper said Wednesday it has no intention of taking down a secretly recorded video of several Ottawa Senators players despite a legal notice insisting leaving it online violates provincial privacy laws.

    The Ottawa Citizen flatly rejected the legal notice from the National Hockey League team, saying the video shot surreptitiously by an Uber driver was circulating on social media when the paper decided to report on it.

    Editor-in-Chief Michelle Richardson also countered allegations contained in the notice signed by team lawyers, which asserted the footage of players badmouthing the club and a member of its coaching staff violated their privacy under provincial law and did not contain information of public interest.

    “The public interest in the Senators as an organization extends beyond the team’s performance on the ice,” Richardson said in a statement, adding that the paper did not view the sharing of the video as a privacy violation.

    “The organization is involved in one of the biggest development projects in Ottawa’s history, a project that hinges on the Senators being here to play in a downtown arena. On-ice performance, ticket sales, attendance, discord in the locker room and public support of the organization are all relevant when it comes to discussing the overall health of the team.”

    In the legal notice sent to Richardson on Wednesday, lawyers blasted the newspaper for its decision to share the surreptitiously shot video on its website.

    The five-minute clip, which shows seven Senators players ridiculing Senators assistant coach Martin Raymond and scornfully discussing the team’s penalty-killing performance, was shot without the players’ knowledge by the driver of the Uber vehicle they were riding in while on the road in Phoenix, Ariz. The video shared by the Citizen also appeared on websites of other publications owned by Postmedia Network Inc., the paper’s parent company.

    “The Citizen’s mass publication of the video is a clear and obvious violation of the rights of the Senators players involved under Ontario law and has damaged the Ottawa Senators,” the letter reads. “The Ottawa Senators demand that the Citizen immediately remove the video from the Internet.”

    The notice also asserts that the newspaper published the video while fully aware that it had been shot without consent, arguing that the contents were of no “genuine public interest.”

    The players captured in the video released a statement Monday apologizing for their remarks, while also clearly stating that the footage was both shot and shared without their permission. Individual players have since spoken out affirming their support for Raymond and saying they’re trying to put the saga behind them.

    An Uber spokesperson said the recording was a “clear violation” of the company’s community guidelines, adding that Uber had helped to have the video taken down.

    The notice to the Citizen noted that the video had already been pulled from YouTube on the grounds that it was shot in secret.

    Scholars and industry observers voiced concern about the incident, calling it a clear violation of the players’ privacy.

    Senators Chief Operating Officer Nicolas Ruszkowski agreed, saying the legal notice to the Citizen was meant to protect the team’s best interests.

    “Martin Raymond and our players have earned our support through years of hard work, leadership and devotion to their community,” Ruszkowski said in a statement. “Privacy is paramount, and we won’t allow a precedent to be set in which peoples’ reputations can be impaired by voyeuristic journalism.”

    Ruszkowski declined to comment on the Citizen’s intention to keep the video online.

     

     

     

    Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press

    Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version described Nicolas Ruszkowski as the Senators’ CEO


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    Online real estate auctions try to shake up sales with novel approach

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  • An online auction for a luxury home in Abbotsford, B.C., is drawing attention for its novel approach, which some observers say has potential to inspire new sales even if it doesn’t have any notable impact on the housing landscape.

    Bidding opens Tuesday on the 12-bedroom, 10-bath restored train power station known as the “Sumas Powerhouse,” which was previously listed for $5 million and has an assessed value of $2.2 million on B.C. Assessment.

    It’s one of three properties in Canada listed on global firm Concierge Auction’s website. A news release says it’s targeting Chinese buyers and will be sold in co-operation with Re/Max.

    Scott Pate, a project sales manager with Concierge, said luxury real estate has been a buyers market for quite some time in both the United States and Canada and auctions are a way to give sellers more certainty.

    “We’ll bring the market to this sale instead of the normal way of selling real estate, which is putting it on the market and waiting for an offer, which could take years and years,” he said.

    “The market is motivated because there’s a fear of missing out. This auction is going to end on a certain day … so it creates a lot of interest.”

    Real estate auctions are typical in Australia and New Zealand, but the model is less common in Canada. 

    A real estate agent in Victoria tried the in-person auction approach in 2016 with a property in the city’s upscale Rockland neighbourhood, holding a public auction featuring a pianist playing a grand piano in the ballroom at the event.

    But local media reported that although 60 people filled the room, only one was an interested buyer so the auction was cancelled. In 2017, the B.C. Supreme Court accepted a $1.8-million offer for the historic mansion in foreclosure.

    Tom Davidoff, director of the University of British Columbia’s Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate, said online auctions aren’t all that different from the way we buy and sell homes traditionally in Canada, especially in cases where there are multiple interested buyers and a bidding war.

    That could make it comfortable for Canadian buyers to transition to the model.

    “It certainly could be a direction the market could go. In segments where the market is slow today, people will try different approaches to move product, so it’s certainly possible,” he said.

    But beyond creating another way for potential buyers to bid, he said he doesn’t believe there will be an impact on the market in terms of housing prices or competition.

    “This will have no impact on the market overall,” Davidoff said.

    In Toronto, On the Block sells real estate both the traditional way and through its online auction platform but doesn’t focus on luxury sales.

    Co-founder Daniel Steinfeld said online auctions offer a way around some of the frustrations that come with silent bidding wars under the traditional system.

    As part of the company’s model, buyers must sign agreements to make the value of their bids public while their identities remain protected. Real estate board regulations otherwise prohibit real estate agents from disclosing the substance of competing bids.

    “Buyers, especially in the Toronto and Vancouver markets, have grown pretty frustrated with the blind bidding approach,” he said.

    The platform also allows the company to post more information than might be available through MLS listings, like copies of home inspections and agreements of purchase and sale, which makes it less likely for a sale to fall through.

    The most important factor in a successful real estate auction is the starting price, which can inspire competitive bids, Steinfeld said. So when identifying potential properties for auction, the company interviews the sellers to determine their objectives and market expectations.

    If the seller has unreasonable expectations about the market value of their property, it’s probably not the right fit for auction.

    Market conditions matter less, he said.

    “We have seen in both good and bad market conditions that it can work, it really just comes down to the appropriate pricing strategy,” Steinfeld said.

    Auction properties are typically first-time listings and the company sets a reserve price, which represents the minimum value at which the seller is obligated to sell.

    “Once bidding reaches that number, everyone knows for sure that property will sell,” he said.

    “Then everyone starts to bid quit a bit more because they know at that point that if they win, it’s theirs.”

     

    Amy Smart, The Canadian Press


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    A week on, vigil held for Christchurch victims in Prince Edward Island

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  • CHARLOTTETOWN — More than a week after the deadly shooting rampage at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, a vigil was held at the Charlottetown cenotaph in Prince Edward Island on Saturday to show solidarity with the victims.

    Sobia Ali-Faisal, a faculty member at the University of Prince Edward Island’s psychology department, said while the temperature was cold the atmosphere at the vigil was warm.

    “It was sombre, but the signs that people had were very, very supportive,” she said, adding that the hundreds of people who attended “really wanted to be there.”

    Ali-Faisal said it was particularly heartening to see support from outside the Muslim community.

    “It’s soothing because you can feel quite vulnerable after something like this happens,” she said.

    “It could happen here. You could be a target, and you just kind of become cautious and take a lot more precautions. So it’s nice when you see people come out and support you. It makes you feel safer.”

    Vigils can also be a starting point for challenging hate by allowing people of different faiths to connect, she added, but said it’s important to keep up the momentum they create.

    Shaukat Khan, the president of the Pakistan Canada Association in Vancouver, said it’s “amazing” to see Canadians standing with the Muslim community, adding that Canadians always come together in hard times and these vigils show that.

    There are a number of groups in British Columbia and other parts of the country meeting up and thinking of ways to sustain the dialogue following the attacks, he said.

    The gunman killed a total of 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch on March 15, in the nation’s worst terrorist attack.

    Australian national Brenton Tarrant, 28, has been charged with murder in the attacks and is scheduled to make his next court appearance on April 5.

    Alhadi Abusneena, the president of the Muslim Society of Prince Edward Island who was also at the Charlottetown vigil, echoed Ali-Faisal’s words.

    The people of Charlottetown and P.E.I. support the Muslim community and “we stand as one family,” he said.

    “I see in their eyes, I see the love and compassion,” he said.

    Such vigils show that in spite of the sorrow, people choose love over hatred, he said.

    Although the vigil on Saturday took place more than a week after the shooting, Abusneena said the timing is irrelevant since the victims’ families have to live with a lifetime of pain.

    —By Hina Alam in Vancouver, with files from The Associated Press

    The Canadian Press


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    march, 2019

    fri8mar - 30aprmar 85:30 pmapr 30Real Estate Dinner Theatre5:30 pm - (april 30) 10:00 pm

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