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Raptors fans far from home adjust plans to watch pivotal playoff game

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Toronto Raptors fans were delayed entry into Jurassic Park, the NBA team’s outdoor fan zone, after a thunderstorm rolled into the city Saturday evening.

Game 6 of the NBA Eastern Conference final between the Raptors and the Milwaukee Bucks saw fans lining up to pack the space on the west side of Scotiabank Arena.

But a severe thunderstorm warning and heavy rain prompted Toronto police to post on Twitter just after 6 p.m. that they wouldn’t open Jurassic Park on schedule because of safety concerns.

That ban was lifted just before 7 p.m., after the rain let up. Toronto police tweeted that they had assessed the situation and decided it was safe to open the square.

By then, a long lineup of fans had snaked around Scotiabank Arena and past neighbouring Union Station in downtown Toronto.

Earlier in the day social media was abuzz with talk of organizing viewing parties, blowing off long-held plans to tune in the game, and finding ways to modify previously scheduled events to include their favourite team.

The Raptors currently lead the best-of-seven playoff series 3-2, and a win on Saturday night would vault the team into the NBA finals for the first time in franchise history.

Calgary native Braden Lunn is hoping his friend’s birthday festivities can turn into a Raptors victory party instead.

The 26-year-old software developer says he and his Ontario-born girlfriend will be the only Raptors fans at the party, held in honour of an avid Bucks booster.

Lunn says he intends to make sure the game is aired at the Seattle-based winery where the party is taking place, adding the drinks expected to flow would make the perfect celebratory touch.

“We’re going to roll it into a Raptors win,” he said.

But Lunn’s confidence is tempered by what happened the last time he and his girlfriend spent time with the birthday girl and her partner. The two couples got together to indulge their friendly rivalry during the first two games of the Raptors-Bucks series, both Toronto losses.

“I’m pretty superstitious, so I’m worried that now that I’m watching games with them again the Raptors are going to lose,” he said. “So we’ll see how that goes.”

Closer to the Raptors’ home base, fans were already laying plans to flock to Jurassic Park.

Others mused on Twitter about ways they could alter their previous engagements to accommodate what they hope will be a date with destiny.

“My daughter’s wedding is Saturday, do you think she would mind if I missed it?” quipped one Twitter user.

“Gonna be streaming Raptors game while DJing Saturday’s wedding,” wrote another.

Others are getting ready for the game by placing bets on the prospective antics of Drake, the Toronto rapper who’s become a vocal and polarizing ambassador for his home team.

SportsBetting.ag began taking bets on Friday over the Drake-related shenanigans that could unfold during Game 6.

Possible options included whether Drake touches Raptors head coach Nick Nurse like he did in Game 4, and whether Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo will speak to Drake.

Other wagers on offer include: Will Drake step onto the court? Will the NBA publicly warn Drake regarding his on-court behaviour? Will Drake be removed from Game 6 by security?

Michelle McQuigge and Alanna Rizza, The Canadian Press


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Ethics commissioner ready to testify to committee today: NDP critic

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Mario Dion

OTTAWA — The NDP’s Charlie Angus says he expects ethics commissioner Mario Dion to be in a position to testify today before a parliamentary committee about his findings on the prime minister’s breach of the Conflict of Interest Act.

But whether the House of Commons ethics committee moves ahead with the study of Dion’s report rests in the hands of the Liberal MPs who hold the majority of seats.

Dion released a scathing report last week that concluded Prime Minister Justin Trudeau breached a section of the ethics code by improperly pressuring former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to end criminal proceedings on corruption charges against a Montreal engineering giant, SNC-Lavalin.

Trudeau has said he disagrees with, but accepts, the report’s findings and was just acting to protect Canadian jobs.

Dion also disclosed that he couldn’t properly get to the all the information he required, as potential witnesses and Trudeau’s office claimed cabinet confidence stopped from them from sharing everything they knew.

Angus, who serves as his party’s ethics critic, said Dion should be allowed to testify because that’s part of his job, adding it would be “extraordinary” for the Liberals to refuse to hear from him.

“This is a very important report, it is a very damning report and it also raises questions about the fundamental powers of the ethics commissioner in terms of the interference and obstruction that was laid in his path by the Prime Minister’s Office and the Privy Council,” he said.

Trudeau has shown a complete disregard for the rule of law, Angus added, noting that’s what got him into trouble.

“His disregard for the findings of guilt are equally troublesome,” he said. “I think he needs to really grow up and assume the role of prime minister here and not just a public figure who thinks he’s impervious to accountability.”

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer reiterated his call for the Liberals to put partisan interests ahead of their own and let the study proceed.

“We will learn today whether or not scandal and corruption is limited to just the Liberal party’s leader in the form of Justin Trudeau, or whether or not this rot has infected the entire Liberal caucus and the entire Liberal party,” Scheer said at an event in Richmond Hill, Ont.

Scheer said that if the study fails to go ahead, he hopes to be able to convince voters to hold Trudeau accountable on voting day this October.

“We cannot have a lawmaker who is a lawbreaker.”

Trudeau has suggested voters want to move on.

A new poll suggests Dion’s report hasn’t so far hurt the Liberals’ chances of re-election this fall, nor has it helped the Conservatives.

Indeed, the Leger poll suggests the two parties were locked in a dead heat, with the support of 33 per cent of voters, as they jockey for position at the starting gate for the Oct. 21 vote.

Liberal support was unchanged from last month, despite Dion’s report, and Conservative support was down three percentage points from last month, despite the party’s best efforts to re-ignite public outrage over the affair.

The online survey of 1,535 eligible voters was conducted Aug. 16-19 for The Canadian Press and weighted to reflect the makeup of Canada’s population; it cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples.

Angus said he thinks it is unhelpful to apply the frame of a political horse race to a question of the rule of law.

“I’m less concerned about whether Mr. Trudeau is up one point or down one point,” he said. “My concern is if he interfered with a prosecution and we have to have some manner of accountability, whether it is him or for future prime ministers. Otherwise, we don’t have the rule of law in this country.”

The Canadian Press

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Country music star George Canyon to run for Tories in Nova Scotia

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George Canyon

OTTAWA — One of Nova Scotia’s best-known country music stars is walking on to the political stage.

George Canyon has announced he’s running as a Conservative candidate in the riding of Central Nova in the upcoming federal election.

His name was added to the Tory roster after existing candidate Roger MacKay dropped out this week, for what he said were “personal reasons.”

Canyon has won several Juno and Canadian Country Music Association awards for his work, and currently sings the national anthem at Calgary Flames games.

While his star is sure to add to the Conservative shine for this election, the riding is well acquainted with being a home for political stars.

Brian Mulroney ran from there to get a seat in the House of Commons after becoming leader of the Progressive Conservatives in the 1980s, and for over a decade it was home to Peter MacKay, who served as a cabinet minister in Stephen Harper’s Conservative government.

Green party Leader Elizabeth May also attempted a run for the seat in 2008, but lost to MacKay.

He held the riding until stepping down ahead of the 2015 election, and the seat fell into the hands of Liberals as part of a red sweep of the Atlantic provinces.

But the Tories count Central Nova among the seats they intend to recapture this fall, thanks in part to what they say are candidates with strong ties to the area, including three local members of the Nova Scotia legislature.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has made multiple stops in the Atlantic provinces already this summer, and for his part, Canyon said he’s eager to get going.

“Over the next nine weeks, I’m going to wear the soles out of my boots as I work hard to show people here the type of representative and advocate I will be for them.”

The federal election takes place on Oct. 21.

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press

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