Air Canada-led consortium to buy Aeroplan program from Aimia

A consortium led by Air Canada has reached a deal to acquire the Aeroplan loyalty program from Aimia Inc.

The group, which includes TD Bank, CIBC and Visa Canada Corp., has agreed to pay $450 million in cash and assume the approximately $1.9-billion liability associated with Aeroplan miles customers have accumulated.

“We are pleased to see that an agreement in principle has been reached as Aeroplan members can continue to earn and redeem with confidence,” Air Canada chief executive Calin Rovinescu said in a statement on behalf of the consortium Tuesday.

Read Air Canada’s complete statement here.

The price is up from an initial offer of $250 million in cash and the assumption of the reward point liability in July that was rejected by Aimia.

Aimia shares were up more than 11 per cent at $4.30 in mid-day trading, while Air Canada shares were up 7.36 per cent at $26.54.

“This transaction, if completed, should produce the best outcome for all stakeholders, including Aeroplan members, as it would allow for a smooth transition to Air Canada’s new loyalty program launching in 2020, safeguarding their miles and providing convenience and value for millions of Canadians,” said GMP Securities analyst Martin Landry.

National Bank Financial analyst Adam Shine said he was “left wondering how Aimia could trumpet its Plan B strategy with such optimism and yet set a seemingly low Aeroplan value.”

The Aeroplan deal is expected to close this fall.

The agreement, which is supported by Aimia’s board and Mittleman Brothers, Aimia’s largest shareholder, is subject to shareholder approval and other closing conditions.

Mittleman Brothers, which holds a 17.6-per-cent stake in Aimia, defended the investment firm’s “acquiescence” in the deal, calling it “the best available outcome for all Aimia stakeholders.”

The bid would leave Aimia with more than $1 billion in cash to invest elsewhere, the New York-based investment firm said in a statement Tuesday.

Christopher Mittleman, chief investment officer of the New York-based company, bristled earlier this month at a $325-million offer from the consortium, calling it “coercive” and “blatantly inadequate” in an open letter to Aimia’s board.

Mittleman had recommended that Aimia accept no less than $1 billion, “especially not with a gun held to its head by its key commercial partners.”

Aimia’s recent Aeroplan partnership agreements with Air Transat, Flair Airlines and Porter Airlines are now up in the air.

Aimia had also been in discussions with the Oneworld airline alliance, whose members include British Airways, American Airlines and Cathay Pacific.

Aimia management said in a conference call this month it has considered more asset sales and a wind-up of the company, analysts noted — one speculated it resembled a “holding company with limited assets.”

“With the sale of Aeroplan, the focus for Aimia investors will shift to actual net proceeds received from the sale and the company’s subsequent capital redeployment strategy,” RBC Dominion Securities analyst Drew McReynolds said.

The future of the program has faced questions since Air Canada announced last year that it planned to launch its own loyalty rewards plan in 2020 when its partnership with Aimia expires.

Air Canada created Aeroplan as in-house loyalty program, but it was spun off as an independent business as part of a court-supervised restructuring of the airline. At the time, CIBC was Aeroplan’s main bank partner.

Since 2014, TD has been Aeroplan’s main Visa card partner although CIBC continues to offer cards that earn Aeroplan points that can be redeemed for Air Canada flights and other rewards.

CANADA: Biological Man Files Human Rights Complaint For Having To Buy Breast Implants

Should the radical Left ever get its way in terms of what society classifies as a human “right” one day, then taxpayer dollars will go beyond funding abortions and into funding a transgender’s breast implants. Just take a peek up north in Canada.

According to LifeSiteNews, a man presenting himself as a woman “launched a human rights complaint against Nova Scotia’s health department for refusing to pay for his breast implants.” Canada currently does not pay for breast augmentation of any kind (male or female) that is for cosmetic surgery.

“Implants are not covered for any individuals who would prefer larger breasts,” health ministry spokeswoman Tracy Barron told Canadian Press. “Breast implants are covered in Nova Scotia for severe congenital or developmental asymmetries and also in breast cancer reconstruction.”

Barron added that men who wish to look more like women through enlarged breasts can do so via hormonal therapy, which taxpayers already fund. However, women who wish to look more like men can have their breasts removed with taxpayer dollars because that is the only way they can fully achieve their preferred gender identity.

The man, “Serina” Slaunwhite, says the policy violates his human rights and constitutes “gender discrimination.”

“This should be included along with the rest of the surgeries that are publicly funded by the province for sex reassignment surgery. … It’s gender discrimination,” Slaunwhite said in the filed claim.

Slaunwhite’s lawyer, Susanne Litke of Dalhousie Legal Aid Service, says the current policy discriminates because hormonal therapy typically does not enlarge the breasts enough. “When that breast development isn’t enough for the person to be comfortable in their body, then it’s a medical necessity,” she said.

Dutch psychiatrist Gerard van den Aardweg dismissed the claims as “wild nonsense” in an interview with LifeSiteNews.

“First, the transgender’s (transsexual’s) urge to be operated upon is an expression of a serious mental disorder,” Aardweg told the outlet. “Second, the fake-therapy of surgery etc., does nothing except mutilate him/her for life and aggravate his/her mental alienation.”

Toronto Zoo welcomes new addition — a baby pygmy hippopotamus

The Toronto Zoo is celebrating the birth of a rare and endangered pygmy hippopotamus.

Kindia, a 12-year-old female, gave birth to a female calf late Friday night.

The zoo says the species is endangered and there are only about 2,000 to 3,000 left in the wild in West Africa, mostly in Liberia. Small numbers also found in neighbouring Sierra Leone, Guinea and the Ivory Coast.

Over the past 100 years, the pygmy hippo’s habitat has declined dramatically due to logging, farming and human settlement.

While the calf appears healthy and is feeding well, the zoo says the first 30 days are critical for both mother and calf.

Kindia arrived at the Toronto Zoo from a zoo in France in June 2016 as part of a global breeding program. This is Kindia’s first surviving calf and the seventh birth of a pygmy hippopotamus in the Toronto Zoo’s history.

Drunk man tried to open emergency door during international flight

A drunk passenger spent two days in lock-up but escaped a jail sentence after he tried to open a plane’s emergency exit door mid-flight.

New Zealand restaurant manager Harry Frazer Cranwell, 32, was flying from Auckland to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, when a Malaysia Airlines flight attendant spotted him trying to open the handle of the emergency door, the New Zealand Herald reported.

She made him move to another seat away from the door and informed the head of the cabin crew and the captain of the plane, who notified security at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Cranwell was flying with friends and had drunk several glasses of beer and spirits during the flight.

They were on their way to go on holiday in Vietnam, via Kuala Lumpur, but Cranwell’s journey ended prematurely at Kuala Lumpur.

He was later fined $2000 after pleading guilty to endangering an aircraft and the lives of those on board in court.

On border with Karnataka, a Goa village wants bars shut against drunk tourists

Claiming harassment and molestation of women and sightings of semi-naked drunk men relieving themselves in public, residents of border village Surla in Goa have threatened to lock their homes and stage a roadblock with their children and belongings, asking the government to pay heed to a “possible law and order situation” that is “waiting to explode”.

The residents are demanding cancellation of liquor licences of the eight bars that operate within Surla’s limits. The village, with its 94 homes and an official population of 460 adults, have managed to get a temporary ban on these bars until September 20, but now wants them permanently closed.

This is the first time a village in tourist state Goa is resisting alcohol tourism with efforts of this scale. Residents say because of Goa’s low excise rates, tourists from neighbouring Karnataka flock to its eight liquor vends for prices that are half the prevailing rate in Karnataka. A scenic village, Surla also offers a panoramic view of the Western Ghats and its gushing waterfalls, hosts an old Portugese outpost, and is one of the access points into the Mhadhei wildlife sanctuary.

Says Ganu Gaonkar, a part of the Surla ‘Action Committee’, “We have reached a point of no return. We ask the government, who will take responsibility for our response when our women are molested? We are not against decent tourists or families, but only those who visit for cheap liquor.”

The local village temple is serving as the movement’s headquarters, and on the access road to Surla are huge banners asking visitors “not to urinate” and to drink only within the bar premises.

Revenue Minister Rohan Khaunte admits the “problem”. “It is a concern since it involves law and order. The village is affected due to cheap liquor and easy proximity to a neighbouring state. We are looking into their demands,” he says.

Satyavan Bhivshet, Assistant Commissioner, Excise, says they earn around Rs 6,000 from each of the eight bars as licence fee. “We understand the situation and are willing to look into the matter. But for now, this is a law and order situation.”

Santosh Gaonkar, a 39-year-old Surla resident, says incidents of molestation are on the rise. “Two years ago, we carried out a signature campaign after the collector asked us to show the scale of the menace. The incidents have reached a level that we are afraid for our women.” He adds that the problem is magnified as the men are often away in the fields, while women are harassed when they go into the jungle to collect firewood.

Santosh’s wife Sonia, 34, says she was once accosted by drunk tourists. Other women talk of being groped by tourists, and clashes with local men who try to intervene. “They knock on our doors late at night asking for food. When we say no, they misbehave,” says Subadra Gaonkar, 60. The village head, 90-year-old Gangu Gaonkar, says many of them relieve themselves around the temple premises.

With the liquor vends located near the government school, in violation of excise rules, villagers claim attendance is going down, with parents from neighbouring villages reluctant to send their children. “During recess, we ensure students do not step out,” says Poonam Gaonkar, a Marathi language teacher at the school.

At the nearby Mhadhei sanctuary, range attendants accuse drunk tourists of breaking locks and windows on the premises. “Every day we have over a hundred bikers crossing this gate. If we say anything, they start attacking. In the evening, the forest gates have to be shut at 5.30, but they refuse to leave,” says Gopal Gawas, deployed at the checkpost.

An ancestral temple located inside the sanctuary is now boarded up after some tourists defaced its walls.

There are some villagers, however, who want the liquor vends shut to prevent alcoholism among local youths. On Sunday, villagers from Surla as well as neighbouring villages in Karnataka took out an awareness rally against deaths caused by excessive drinking.


On border with Karnataka, a Goa village wants bars shut against drunk tourists

Drunk US man is arrested after allegedly peeing on a fellow passenger during flight to Japan

A US man has been arrested for allegedly getting drunk and peeing on a fellow passenger on a flight to Japan.

The incident happened on an All Nippon Airways flight from Chicago, US to Narita, reports Japan Today.

It’s claimed the US passenger had drunk “at least four glasses of champagne and one cup of sake”.

The victim was sitting two rows behind the 24-year-old American.


The passenger was restrained and arrested on arrival in Japan.

Earlier this year it was announced that the number of alcohol related incidents where passengers have to be “disembarked or refused carriage” from planes flying in New Zealand air space has more than doubled in the last five years, according to stats shared by the Civil Aviation Authority.

The largest share of booze-breathed travellers get blotto en route to New Zealand, with 65 of the 145 bad behaviour incidents reported to the CAA occurring on the flight in.

The problem is larger and never far from the headlines in the UK, with 417 abusive or violent traveller incidents occurring last year, also double the number five years ago

Ryanair calls AGAIN on airports to ban alcohol sales before 10am

RYANAIR has renewed their call for airports to ban alcoholic drinks being served before 10am, as flight disruptions from inebriated passengers continue to cause delays to airlines.


Ryanair has continued to reiterate the need for airports to end early morning boozing for passengers.

Airlines have suffered from a number of delays from intoxicated passengers who have to be removed from the flight.

Earlier this week, a drunk man dressed as Tinkerbell was removed from a Ryanair flight after being abusive to cabin crew while under the influence.


The budget airline is requesting airports do not sell alcohol before 10am in the terminals.


They also suggest a two-drink policy per passenger, which could be regulated by scanning boarding passes.

Airports are currently exempt from the Licensing Act which restricts the time people can be served alcohol.

Ryanair said in a statement: “Ryanair’s number one priority is the safety of our customers, crew and aircraft and we have a zero-tolerance policy towards alcohol and disruptive behaviour.”

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) confirmed drunk passenger incidents have risen to more than 400 since 2016.

Ryanair does not currently sell alcoholic drinks on a number of their flights due to the short journey times.

Toronto council to discuss lockout of some Exhibition Place workers

Members of city council will hold a special meeting today to receive an update on negotiations with locked out technical and staging staff at Exhibition Place.

Nearly 400 members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 58 have been locked out since July 20.

The workers are typically responsible for some of the set up for the annual CNE but this year temporary workers were brought in to do that job, a decision that the union claimed was made at the expense of safety.


“The likelihood of misjudgment and mistakes are high, especially from a hastily assembled group just brought in and who are racing around the clock to meet very tight deadlines,” the union said in a press release issued last week.

Today’s meeting is being held after a petition signed by 23 members of council was submitted to the city clerk, as required by the rules governing such meetings.

It is the second special meeting in as many days after a day-long debate on Monday over planned legal action over the province’s plans to slash the size of city council.

Former Nazi guard deported from New York worked at Trawniki labor camp, where thousands of Jews were massacred during WWII

A 95-year-old former Nazi concentration camp guard recently deported to Germany after living in Queens for years served at a slave labor camp in Trawniki, where thousands of prisoners held in Poland were massacred during the second World War.

Jakiw Palij was carried out of his New York apartment Monday morning and removed from the country — more than a decade after he was stripped of his United States citizenship in 2003 for “participating in acts against Jewish civilians” while he served as an armed guard at the SS camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.

At the end of 1941, a former sugar plant in the village of Trawniki — located about 25 miles south of Lubin — was converted into a training facility and labor camp for Soviet and Polish prisoners of war. Most them died as a result of poor living conditions while others were murdered. Those that remained continued to train at the old sugar factory and would go on to serve in the SS, “undertaking such work as guarding the ghettos, transport duty or taking the Jews to the Death camps,” according to the Holocaust Research Project.

By the following spring, Trawniki had become a transit camp for local Jews. Several hundred incapable of working in the nearby town of Piaski, located about six miles away, were scheduled for deportation to the Belzec killing center. They were held in a barn-like structure beforehand, where as many as 500 people suffocated.

During February 1943, the German firm Schultz, a fur and brushes production business was relocated from the Warsaw ghetto to Trawniki, along with its Jewish workers. Initially, the SS encouraged those who worked at the firm to move voluntarily, but Schultz was only able to persuade less than half of his 1,500 workers to do so.

“Losing patience, the SS decided to liquidate the Warsaw ghetto. At 3:00 a.m. in the morning of April 19, 1943 SS and police units, including a battalion of 350 Trawniki-trained guards, sealed off the ghetto, sparking the Warsaw ghetto uprising,” according to the Holocaust Encyclopedia.