Articles on this Page
- 08/18/17--04:48: _One Canadian killed...
- 08/18/17--12:12: _Fleeing to Canada, ...
- 08/17/17--21:00: _TIFF sees less film...
- 08/18/17--19:21: _Distressed loon swi...
- 08/18/17--04:00: _Fundraiser launched...
- 08/18/17--10:11: _Back to the future:...
- 08/18/17--14:53: _For those fleeing t...
- 08/18/17--08:00: _Canadian victim of ...
- 08/18/17--21:00: _Refugees stuck in b...
- 08/19/17--05:53: _U.S. President Trum...
- 08/19/17--04:00: _Eaton Centre Uniqlo...
- 08/19/17--04:37: _Two men in serious ...
- 08/19/17--09:11: _The fall of Steve B...
- 08/19/17--08:35: _‘Free speech rally’...
- 08/19/17--07:01: _Canadian officials ...
- 08/18/17--11:12: _CNE beefs up securi...
- 08/19/17--04:50: _CNE cancels Youth D...
- 08/19/17--11:52: _Crumbling gangland ...
- 08/19/17--19:17: _Wreck of warship US...
- 08/19/17--18:35: _Arbitration gives T...
- 08/18/17--04:48: One Canadian killed, four injured in Barcelona attack
- 08/17/17--21:00: TIFF sees less film in its future: Howell
- Attendance at the September festival fell last year for the first time in recent memory, to 381,185 people from 383,970, a drop of nearly 2,800 people. Festival attendance used to regularly rise;
- There’s been a much steeper drop in attendance at film screenings at the seven-year-old Lightbox: 130,585 moviegoers at the building’s five screens in 2016, compared to 179,653 in 2015, a drop of more than 49,000 people in just one year;
- The festival has been forced to “hit the pause button,” Handling says, on shows in its main-floor exhibition space that have celebrated such pop-culture icons as James Bond, Andy Warhol, Stanley Kubrick, Grace Kelly and David Cronenberg. The exhibits are popular, but not enough to fully justify production and promotion costs exceeding $1 million per show.
- 08/19/17--05:53: U.S. President Trump, first lady to skip Kennedy Center arts awards
- 08/19/17--04:00: Eaton Centre Uniqlo workers seeking to unionize
- 08/19/17--04:37: Two men in serious condition after hotel shooting downtown
- 08/19/17--07:01: Canadian officials to mark 75th anniversary of Dieppe raid in France
- 08/18/17--11:12: CNE beefs up security in wake of Barcelona attack
- 08/19/17--04:50: CNE cancels Youth Day following safety concerns in 2016
- 08/19/17--11:52: Crumbling gangland partnership probed in two botched GTA murder bids
- 08/19/17--18:35: Arbitration gives Toronto firefighters a new collective agreement
One Canadian was killed, and four others were injured, after a van drove into crowds of tourists in Barcelona on Thursday, according to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
In a Facebook post, Staff Sergeant Fiona Wilson, a member of the Vancouver police department, wrote that her father, Ian Moore Wilson, was killed in the terrorist attack.
Wilson describes her father as “compassionate, generous, adventurous, and always game for a lively debate.”
“In the midst of this tragedy, my dad would want those around him to focus on the extraordinary acts of human kindness that our family has experienced over the past several days,” wrote Wilson.
She also thanked first responders and others who helped out in the aftermath of the attack, including “the people who assisted my dad in his final moments, and those who focused on my mum’s urgent medical attention and aftercare.”
Trudeau offered his condolences to the families and friends affected by the terrorist attack, calling it “a senseless loss of so many innocent people.”
“We must stand firm against the spread of hate and intolerance in all its forms. These violent acts that seek to divide us will only strengthen our resolve,” said Trudeau.
The identity of the person killed was not immediately released, nor were any details about those who were injured or their current condition. Canadian officials say they are in touch with the affected families.
In total, 13 people were killed in Barcelona and another in a separate attack in the nearby resort town of Cambrils, and as many as 100 were injured.
Spanish police intensified a manhunt Friday for suspects behind two deadly vehicle attacks on civilians, shooting and killing five people wearing fake bomb belts who attacked a seaside resort and arresting four others believed linked to the carnage wrought on a Barcelona promenade.
Spanish authorities said the back-to-back vehicle attacks Thursday afternoon and early Friday morning — as well as a deadly explosion earlier this week in a house elsewhere in Catalonia — were related and the work of a large terrorist group.
Daesh, also known as ISIS, quickly claimed responsibility for Europe’s latest bout of extremist violence, which left 13 dead and 100 wounded after a van roared down Barcelona’s historic Las Ramblas promenade on Thursday. Hours later, a blue Audi plowed into people in the popular seaside town of Cambrils, killing one person and injuring five others.
Read more: Deadly terror attack strikes the heart of Barcelona
Spanish authorities confirmed Canada is among the countries with citizens killed or injured in the Barcelona terrorist attack.
Local officials said on Twitter that the dead and injured from the attacks come from 34 countries.
Global Affairs spokesperson Austin Jean said the government is in contact with family members affected by the attacks and is trying to gather more information.
“Our thoughts are with the Canadians who were affected by the terrorist attack that occurred in Barcelona, Spain,” Global Affairs spokesperson Austin Jean. He added that the government is in contact with family members to provide assistance.
“For privacy reasons, we are not able to release any further details,” Jean said.
Jean said the federal government is communicating with local authorities to gather additional information.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy declared Friday that the fight against terrorism was a global battle and Europe’s main problem.
Police said they arrested two more people Friday, after an initial two were arrested Thursday — three Moroccans and one Spaniard, none with terror records. At least three of them were nabbed in the northern town of Ripoll. Another arrest was made in Alcanar, south of Barcelona, where a gas explosion in a house Wednesday that killed one person was also being investigated as a focus of the probe.
“There could be more people in Ripoll connected to the group,” regional Interior Ministry chief Joaquim Forn told TV3 television, adding that police were centring the investigation on identifying the five dead attackers in Cambrils as well as the driver of the Barcelona van.
Forn told local radio RAC1 that the Cambrils and Barcelona attack “follows the same trail. There is a connection.”
“We are not talking about a group of one or two people, but rather a numerous group,” he told Onda Cero radio.
Amid heavy security, Barcelona tried to move forward Friday, with its iconic Las Ramblas promenade quietly reopening to the public and King Felipe VI and Rajoy joining thousands of residents and visitors in observing a minute of silence in the city’s main square.
“I am not afraid! I am not afraid!” the crowd chanted in Catalan.
But the dual attacks unnerved a country that hasn’t seen an Islamic extremist attack since 2004, when Al Qaeda-inspired bombers killed 192 people in co-ordinated assaults on Madrid’s commuter trains. Unlike France, Britain, Sweden and Germany, Spain has largely been spared, thanks in part to a crackdown that has netted some 200 suspected jihadis in recent years.
Authorities were still reeling from the Barcelona van attack when police in the popular seaside town of Cambrils, 130 kilometres to the south, fatally shot five people near the town’s boardwalk who had plowed into tourists and locals with their car. Forn said the five were wearing fake bomb belts.
One woman died Friday from her injuries, Catalan police said. Five others were injured.
Cambrils Mayor Cami Mendoza said the town had taken precautions after the Barcelona attack, but that the suspects had focused their attack on the narrow path to the boardwalk, which is usually packed late into the evening.
“We were on a terrace, like many others,” said bystander Jose Antonio Saez. “We heard the crash and intense gun shots, then the dead bodies on the floor, shot by the police. They had what looked like explosive belts on.”
Others described scenes of panic, and found safety inside bars and restaurants until police had secured the area. Resident Markel Artabe was heading out to get an ice cream when he heard the shots.
“We began to run. We saw one person lying on the pavement with a shot in his head, then 20 to 30 metres farther on we saw two more people, who must have been terrorists as they had explosive belts around them. We were worried so we hid,” he said.
The Cambrils attack came hours after a white van veered onto Barcelona’s picturesque Las Ramblas promenade and mowed down pedestrians. That attack at the peak of Spain’s tourist season left victims sprawled across the street, spattered with blood and writhing in pain from broken limbs. Others were ushered inside shops by officers with their guns drawn or fled in panic, screaming and carrying young children in their arms.
“It was clearly a terror attack, intended to kill as many people as possible,” said Josep Lluis Trapero, a senior police official for Spain’s Catalonia region.
Forn also suggested a possible connection to an incident Thursday in which the driver of a Ford Focus plowed through a police checkpoint leaving Barcelona after the Las Ramblas attack, injuring two police officers. The driver was killed.
Daesh said on its Aamaq news agency that the Barcelona attack was carried out by “soldiers of the Islamic State” in response to the extremist group’s calls for followers to target countries participating in the coalition trying to drive it from Syria and Iraq.
Islamic extremists have nearly systematically targeted Europe’s major tourist attractions in recent years. Rented or hijacked vehicles have formed the backbone of a strategy to target the West and most notably its cultural symbols. Barcelona’s Las Ramblas is one of the most popular attractions in a city that swarms with foreign tourists in August.
The dead and wounded hailed from 34 countries, and previous attacks — in Nice, Paris, Berlin and London — have had similarly international victims.
Spanish public broadcaster RTVE and other news outlets named one of the detained in the Barcelona attack as Driss Oukabir, a French citizen of Moroccan origin. RTVE reported that Oukabir went to police in Ripoll to report that his identity documents had been stolen. Spanish media said documents with his name were found in the attack van and that he claimed his brother might have stolen them.
Citing police sources, Spain’s RTVE as well as El Pais and TV3 identified the brother, Moussa Oukabir, as the suspected driver of the van. Forn declined to respond to questions about him Friday.
“We don’t know if the driver is still in Barcelona or not, or what direction he fled in,” Forn told SER Radio.
Rajoy called the killings a “savage terrorist attack” and said Spaniards “are not just united in mourning, but especially in the firm determination to beat those who want to rob us of our values and our way of life.”
By Friday morning, Las Ramblas promenade had reopened to the public, albeit under heavy surveillance and an unusual quiet.
“It’s sad,” New York tourist John Lanza said, as the family stood outside the gated La Boqueria market. “You can tell it’s obviously quieter than it usually is, but I think people are trying to get on with their lives.”
At noon Friday, a minute of silence honouring the victims was observed at the Placa Catalunya, near the top of the Las Ramblas where the van attack started. The presence of Spain’s king and prime minister alongside Catalonia’s regional authorities marked a rare moment when the question of Catalonian independence — the subject of a proposed Oct. 1 referendum — didn’t divide its people.
Rajoy declared three days of national mourning.
Since the Madrid train bombings, the only deadly attacks in Spain had been bombings claimed by the Basque separatist group ETA that killed five people over the past decade. It declared a cease-fire in 2011.
“Unfortunately, Spaniards know the absurd and irrational pain that terrorism causes. We have received blows like this in recent years, but we also that terrorists can be beaten,” Rajoy said.
With files from Star staff and The Canadian Press
CHAMPLAIN, N.Y.—In the bushes at the end of Roxham Rd., just steps from Canada, lay a sheet of white paper that had been ripped from a notebook and soaked from the previous day’s rain.
It was torn into 11 pieces and tossed away, seemingly moments before its author followed in the steps of the nearly 7,000 others who have sought asylum in Canada so far in 2017 via this hole in the border with the U.S.
In handwritten French, it said: “I have come here to live in peace.”
The writer identified herself only as a Muslim woman from the African country of Djibouti. The intended recipient of her plea was also unnamed, but her audience was clearly Canadian.
She wrote of having moved to the United States with her husband and with hope. A victim of genital mutilation at the age of 7 and now suffering marital problems as a result, she said she was fleeing both an abusive marriage as well as a hostile nation.
“President Donald Trump detests Muslims. The people of this country insult us and even spit in our faces,” it reads. “It’s for this reason that I am coming to your country.”
Composed with care, abandoned in haste, the letter was the most personal piece of detritus recovered during a visit this week to the road that runs from Champlain, N.Y., to the Canadian border.
But it is not the only item testifying to the journey thousands of people have taken to get to Canada since the current migrant spike began in November 2016.
There were airplane boarding passes and luggage tags from Haiti, Florida, Ethiopia, Salt Lake City and New York; Greyhound bus tickets from Albany and Indianapolis; a Delaware driver’s licence and a U.S. Social Security number; Florida detention records; immigration documents from Orlando; and medical laboratory test records for a Delaware man.
Dampened by rain and dried by sun, the scraps of papers discarded while fleeing for a new life in Canada offer insight into the journeys made by asylum seekers. They may have been thrown away as simple garbage from a life abandoned or been purposefully left behind for fear of complicating an expected refugee claim in Canada.
Canadian officials said this week that there have been about 250 people crossing each day at Roxham Rd. in the past few weeks, with a one-day peak of 500 about a week ago.
About 85 per cent have been Haitian nationals worried that the U.S. government intends to get rid of a special immigration designation, known as a Temporary Protected Status, that prevents deportation back to Haiti and nine other countries.
Among them is the Baptiste family — mother Sophonie, father Michel and son Colby — who stepped off a Greyhound bus at 6 p.m. Wednesday along with an elderly grandfather, an aunt and a cousin after deciding to leave behind the life they had built over the past decade in Queens, N.Y.
In Haiti, they ran a successful home renovation business that was abandoned over fears of kidnapping. Colby Baptiste said he was employed by Honda and was a registered real estate agent in New York before the family decided to seek refuge in Canada.
Pushing them to take that decision was a letter they received from immigration authorities advising them to prepare for the expiration of their Temporary Protected Status and an eventual return to Haiti.
With tears welling in her eyes, Sophonie Baptiste said she saw Canada as a more generous and open country and was confident her family would be able to rebuild once again.
Colby Baptiste had an expensive camera around his neck and wore a baseball cap pulled low on his head. He looked like any other disoriented tourist arriving in a new town when he got off the bus in the parking lot of a Mountain Mart convenience store in Plattsburgh, N.Y., this week.
He was stoic upon hearing that his family’s first stop in Canada would be a 1,200-person army field camp erected at the nearby Lacolle border post to handle the wave of refugee claimants. Then he stepped away to negotiate the 30-minute taxi ride to Roxham Rd., settling on a price of $40-per-person and beginning the last leg of the family’s northern journey.
Some of the discarded papers testify to the mundane, everyday existences that have been interrupted: a paper ordering medical tests for one man’s apparent kidney problems; a 2016 report on a vehicle emission test in New Jersey; an employment information form for someone who worked as a chicken de-boner at a poultry farm.
But other documents demonstrate the lengths refugee claimants go to, the risks that they take and the threats they claim to be fleeing. The Star is withholding some information contained in the documents that could identify refugee claimants.
One person threw away a sheet of paper marked “Inmate Summary” that was dated this year. The document outlined five charges an individual was facing for violations of laws in the state of Florida, including possession of forged documents, fraudulent use of another person’s identification and making false statements to obtain a driver’s license. A trial was pending.
A discarded scrap of newsprint ripped from the weather section of the Dallas Morning News contained fragments of another individual’s story written in black pen in Amharic writing, the language spoken by Ethiopians: “In 92 it was started. In June 2013 he was killed. In 94 I was helping him and in Feb 2015 both my brother and father disappeared.”
The scraps of paper contain pieces of stories that Canadian law enforcement, border agents and immigration officials will also be challenged to document and assess as the refugee claims are being processed on this side of the border.
That process was already underway in the United States for one man, who appears to have tossed his entire 54-page immigration file, contained in a maroon folder, into a wooded area along Roxham Rd.
The man was originally from Haiti, according to a transcript of his December 2016 interview with a U.S. asylum officer.
Speaking through a Haitian Creole interpreter, the man said that he travelled from Brazil, where he had been working, through Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras to Mexico. From there, he crossed the U.S. border at San Luis, Ariz., in November and made an asylum claim.
He said he was an evangelical Christian and his life was at risk from his half-siblings, who practice voodoo. On one occasion in late 2012 or early 2013, the man said his half-brother attacked him with a stick and broke his finger because he was preaching the Bible.
Then, after a dispute about whether to give their father a Christian or voodoo funeral, the man said his half-siblings employed a criminal gang to harm him.
“I fear greatly for my life and the safety of my family. I know if we were to return to Haiti we would be tortured and killed. I fear I have no protection there,” the man wrote in his asylum application.
However, in an initial interview upon arrival in the United States, the man said he had no fears of persecution.
“My true intentions are to look for a better life,” he said, according to the Department of Homeland Security transcript. He later explained that he had not spoken of the threats to his life because of the stress and shock of being handcuffed and taken into custody at the border.
A U.S. immigration court judge ordered him released from detention several weeks ago after he posted bond.
It’s not clear when the man decided to continue north to Canada or when he tossed his American immigration records into the bush on Roxham Rd. But Canadian officials this week are warning would-be refugee claimants that their tales of persecution and requests for asylum do not mean they will be accepted into Canada.
There is no special protected designation for Haitian migrants in Canada and immigration officials said this week that about half of all Haitian citizens who sought asylum in this country in 2016 were refused.
But that message isn’t getting out to the Haitian diaspora in the United States, said Mathieu Eugène, a Haitian-born New York City councillor who conducted a fact-finding mission to Montreal this week.
“Every time that I’m in the streets, my constituents, the Haitian people, stop me to tell me of their intention to come to Canada,” he said.
“I don’t think it’s because they want to come over here. They would like to stay in the United States. Canada is a great country, but they would like to stay.”
Once upon a time, the Toronto International Film Festival was about showing movies. It’s time for a reboot.
“Our main product used to be film,” it says in a new five-year strategic plan, presented this week to TIFF board members. “Now, our main service must be transformative experiences through film.”
Used to be film? Isn’t that like the Toronto Blue Jays saying their main product used to be baseball?
What this means, say TIFF’s director/CEO Piers Handling and artistic director Cameron Bailey, is that in a diverse world rapidly moving online, it’s no longer enough to simply show movies at the fest’s September showcase and in its TIFF Bell Lightbox HQ at King and John Sts.
Facing an industry-wide decline in traditional movie attendance, TIFF hopes to find new ways to engage people, especially millennials, in the digital as well as physical realms. Grabbing eyeballs for the art house and independent productions that are a big part of TIFF’s offerings gets harder by the day as the world spins at the speed of smartphones and social media.
“It’s becoming increasingly more difficult,” Handling says, in an interview in his sunlit Lightbox office, which is decorated with his beloved collection of old movie posters.
“I just think that people’s viewing habits change. You’ve got a physical building here, but of course younger audiences are used to seeing things on tablets and phones.”
Adds Bailey: “There are so many more things calling our attention these days, whether it’s gaming, the rise of premium TV — all kinds of things.”
The “transformative experiences” TIFF refers to in its makeover manifesto, which is entitled Audience First: TIFF Strategic Plan 2018-2022, include boosting the emphasis on educational programs for all ages — from digiPlaySpace to adult learning — and expanding online services that fully exploit the festival’s vast curatorial expertise.
There’s urgency to this effort because, even though TIFF can boast of total attendance of 2.89 million people last year through paid, free and digital offerings, some crucial numbers have dipped:
These numbers are worrisome, but nobody’s panicking — and TIFF’s not alone in its audience and revenue concerns.
Major movie studios and exhibitors are having a bad summer this year with a slate of underperforming blockbuster films. The Hollywood Reporter said this week the summer box office decline might hit 15 per cent below the 2015 take, making the 2017 season among the worst in modern history.
TIFF can take pride in a lot of other numbers. The 2.89 million attendance total for 2016 primarily breaks down to 1.1 million paid admissions (local and global) and 989,000 free attendance (which includes pedestrians traversing the temporary Festival Street closure of King St.). The remaining 801,000 people came through increasing global take-up of TIFF’s online efforts, which including podcasts, video series and newsletters.
There has also been significant growth in attendance to such immersive TIFF endeavours as the digiPlaySpace for kids (which now tours globally), Next Wave for teens and learning courses for adults. And despite a drop in total Lightbox admissions, many of the films screening there have been popular, drawing big crowds for the recent Oscar winner Moonlight, the 3D dance documentary Pina, the cultural-history doc I Am Not Your Negro and a Hitchcock film series featuring director and scholar Guillermo del Toro.
In a larger context, the festival brings in $189 million annually in economic benefits to the Toronto, according to the most recent impact study in 2012. So TIFF is a force that’s here to stay, in a city that’s grown to become the world’s most diverse community of sophisticated film buffs.
But what does TIFF really mean by the phrase “transformative experiences,” the key initiative identified by the Audience First plan?
Bailey says the concept springs from TIFF’s long-held mission to “transform the way people see the world through film.” The line that has become a slogan, part of TIFF’s advertising, and Bailey says it requires scrutiny:
“We actually challenged ourselves. We said, ‘What do we mean by that? How do you transform?’ . . . Film is still the prime object. That’s the art form that we love, that’s what we present to our audience.
“But what is the process of transformation? It’s when you learn more when you come out of the experience of the film with more knowledge, more interest, more curiosity, more passion, more empathy, than you went in. And that is the transformative experience.”
An example of this in practice came in June when TIFF screened the environmental thriller Okja at TIFF Bell Lightbox, by South Korean auteur Bong Joon-ho. The Lightbox was the only theatre in Canada showing Okja, which screened simultaneously on Netflix.
TIFF helped make this even more of a unique experience by having a live Skype audience Q&A with director Bong, and by selling food and merchandise inspired by the film.
Q&As have long been a popular feature of TIFF festival screenings, and Skype and similar technology allows TIFF to stage such events more often, and for less cost than flying a director into Toronto.
And speaking of money, TIFF is keenly aware that ticket prices are always a concern for moviegoers, especially the millennials whom the fest wants to see more of. Regular tickets for evening and weekend showings of hot films at next month’s festival range from $28 to $35, with premium ducats running $52 to $59 — although there’s a variety of passes and packages that can make the per-ticket price much lower.
TIFF this year is introducing a new weekday ticket rate ($10-$18) during the daytime for people 25 and under, a deal that “took a lot of math to make that work, because we still have to be sustainable,” Bailey says.
Part of the Audience First initiative will be demonstrating to people that TIFF is great value for the money.
“We’re still a cheap ticket,” Handling says. “I go to Soulpepper, to the theatre, and I spend $80 to go a see a play one night. We’re bringing major international talent to the festival, they’re present at virtually every single screening . . . We think the festival provides an incredibly unique experience.”
Peter Howell is the Star’s movie critic. His column usually runs Fridays.
Peter Howell is the Star’s movie critic. His column usually runs Fridays.
NORDEGG, ALTA.—This is a story about one lucky loon.
Don Gibson was standing with his family on a dock in Fish Lake Provincial Park in west-central Alberta last weekend when he noticed a normally standoffish loon — one of a group of five that call the lake home — swimming toward them.
“I said, ‘There’s no way that’s a real loon because they don’t come that close,’” Gibson recalled Friday from his home in Sundre, northwest of Calgary.
“I said, ‘Somebody’s out in the woods playing a trick on us. They’ve got a remote-control bird or something.’”
But as the loon got closer, Gibson could tell it needed help.
A piece of fishing gear with wire leaders and multiple hooks, often referred to as a pickerel rig, had become tangled around the bird’s bill, neck and leg.
Loons are sleek and rely on their diving ability to catch fish, frogs and other water creatures. Seeing the way this one was tangled, it was clear to Gibson that it couldn’t hunt.
The bird kept looking up at the campers on the dock and moved to a shallow area along the shore.
“This one just knew he only had another day and he was going to die. He was just right pooped I think.”
Gibson turned to his 12-year-old son.
“I said, ‘We’ve got to go over there. This thing just sent us a sign that he’s in distress and he wants us to help him.’”
Gibson was leery about the loon’s sharp beak, but the bird lowered its head and allowed him to give it a stroke.
“When he allowed me to pat his head, I said, ‘That’s it. I am taking my shoes off and I’m going in and I am going to help this guy, because he was obviously not afraid of me.’”
Gibson’s wife enlisted the help of a park attendant who had some scissors and they started cutting away the tackle. A hook caught in the back of the bird’s neck came out easily. Gibson then picked up the bird and unwound the line that was wrapped three or four times around its leg.
By then, a fairly large crowd had gathered to watch the rescue.
Gibson put the freed bird back in the water.
As it swam out from shore to rejoin its buddies, it turned back, lifted itself up in the water and gave a flap of its wings as if to say thank you, he said.
“You couldn’t write a fiction novel so perfect.”
Gibson said he saw the five loons feeding on minnows in the lake the next day, so he figures everything worked out fine.
“I wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t see it myself. He knew exactly what he was doing. It was incredible.”
At first glance, there are the visible signs marking the presence of a happy kid. A large height-marker with a cartoon giraffe plastered on a wall. Fourth, fifth and sixth birthday cards mounted side-by-side. Dozens of photographs of a young boy’s many silly faces, everywhere you look.
Then there are the signs of loss you’d have to be looking for to notice. A bicycle with the training wheels still on. The pristine white floor that he used as his dry-erase-marker canvas. His most prized possessions — two paper models of TTC vehicles and a stack of identical transit route maps — packed in a plastic grocery bag.
Everything about this simple, clean home points to the presence of an adored kid who should have grown many inches taller, celebrated many more birthdays and lived to express awe at the TTC subway.
Simon, a healthy six-year-old boy, was taken from his mother when he died in an apparent murder-suicide on July 31.
Simon and his father, Zlatan Cico, 58, were pronounced dead in Cico’s East York apartment last month. Though Simon’s parents were separated and he lived with his mom full time, he sometimes stayed with his father on weekends.
Police said the day after they were found that they were not looking for any other suspects in the case. Neighbours who knew the father and son were shocked by the event.
Simon’s mom, whose name the Star agreed not to publish to protect her privacy, dedicated every year of Simon’s too-short life to giving him every opportunity she could. Now she, with the support of her friend Glenn Watson, is trying to raise money to lay him to rest in a nice place.
The pair recently launched a campaign on GoFundMe with the goal of raising $20,000 that they say will go to Simon’s burial costs. As of Thursday afternoon, they have reached about 15 per cent of their goal.
“I just feel he is so innocent. I couldn’t protect him,” Simon’s mom told the Star in an interview this week at her dining table in the Scarborough home she shared with her son, while Watson sat beside her.
“So I want to try my best to give him a nice place to rest.”
Simon was his mom’s only family in Canada, and Watson described her devotion to the boy as absolute.
“Everything is for Simon,” Watson said. “And, as she says, it was hard to protect him from a threat that you wouldn’t think he needed protecting from.”
They want Simon to be remembered as the boy they knew: curious, sweet, and well-behaved.
His favourite thing in the world was the TTC.
“Every kid in his classroom, they all know Simon loves the subway, loves the TTC,” Simon’s mom said. He would pick up a new subway map whenever he could — no matter how many he already had — and used the floor in their living room to draw out the routes with dry-erase markers.
“Sometimes I tolerate and I let him do it, and sometimes I just mop that,” she said.
Simon’s memory for transit routes surprised even bus drivers, as he effortlessly rhymed off where each route was headed. His collection of route maps and paper TTC models will go with him in his coffin.
Simon’s mom described him as an exceptionally gentle, well-behaved kid.
“My friend had a little baby and the baby was five months, six months. Simon just like, touched the baby gently, looked at the baby,” she said.
Even when she asked him to do something he didn’t want to do, he’d agree without protest.
“Not like some children, who would say ‘no, I don’t want to do that.’ He just listened — he just understood.”
She believes that we can learn from Simon’s simple, happy nature.
“He’s happy easily,” she said. “Something — even just some small thing — can make him very happy. He’s not greedy.”
He also came up with the code word ‘toy’ to ask Glenn to take him for ice cream — a treat his mom seldom allowed. She was undeceived.
A meal from McDonald’s or a covert cup of ice cream was enough to put a huge smile on Simon’s face. The thought led the mom to think about life’s joys — large and small — that she wasn’t yet able to give Simon.
Top of the list was a long-anticipated trip to China, scheduled for next month. He began to ask his mom to take him when his other Chinese friends told him stories about travelling there.
“I said if you go to China, they have long trains — much faster much nicer,” Simon’s mom said. She and Simon would have made the long journey together, and visited her family for the first time since he was a baby.
His ticket will go unused, and now she just hopes to be able to bury him somewhere close enough to her home to visit on birthdays and holidays.
Ontario police can be forgiven for doing double takes this summer at the sight of bikers wearing the grinning devil patch of the Satan’s Choice Motorcycle Club on their backs.
Once the second largest outlaw motorcycle club in the world, the Satan’s Choice club folded in December 2000 when it was absorbed by the Hells Angels.
This summer, a group of Durham and Ottawa-area bikers have re-invented the Satan’s Choice club, which will likely upset Hells Angels bikers, said Det. Sgt. Len Isnor of the OPP Biker Enforcement Unit.
“It’s a bit shocking,” Isnor said. “By somebody bringing them back, there could be some problems. Yes, we’re going to watch.”
The Hells Angels had no immediate comment on the new club.
The old Satan’s Choice had well-publicized clashes with the law, but the new version of the club plans to stay out of jail and trouble, according to a spokesperson, who spoke to the Star on the condition that his name not be published.
“We want to keep the club alive but we’re all law-abiding citizens,” he said.
The new Satan’s Choice moved into the Ottawa area last month and has 48 members and two “strikers” — or prospective members — the spokesperson said.
The re-emergence of the Satan’s Choice in Eastern Ontario comes after the Hells Angels shut down its elite Nomads chapter outside Ottawa last September. That Hells Angels’ chapter was based in in a 0.92-acre, gated compound off Highway 417, just a 15-minute drive from downtown Ottawa.
The new Satan’s Choice spokesperson said his club has a clubhouse, although he declined to say where it’s located.
The move to re-establish the Satan’s Choice comes out of respect for older members and the tradition of an all-Canadian club, he said. The club was originally founded in the GTA as part of an auto club back in the late 1950s.
“We have talked to several of the original members and have had nothing but positive feedback from them,” said the new Satan’s Choice spokesperson.
The Satan’s Choice has always been an all-Canadian club. They folded briefly in the early 1960s and then re-emerged under former international boxer Bernie Guindon of Oshawa. It grew to more than 300 members by the early 1970s, making it the second largest outlaw motorcycle club in the world, behind only the Hells Angels.
There are currently 200 full Hells Angels in Ontario and 500 across Canada, Isnor said.
The Hells Angels are a U.S.-based, international club with members on five continents and in 56 countries, according to the club’s website.
The old Satan’s Choice had several well-publicized clashes with the law, including several members who became involved in drug trafficking. Former member Cecil Kirby disappeared into a witness protection program in the early 1980s after admitting he had been hired to do murders for the local mob.
Their former clubhouse on Kintyre Ave. in south Riverdale was hit with a rocket launcher attack in the mid-1990s.
We’ve all grown up with the story of living alongside the world’s longest undefended border. Here’s another chapter.
For the last few summers, we’ve vacationed on the Vermont side of the frontier with family friends from the U.S., perched a stone’s throw from the international boundary.
I get to jog past American border patrols, bicycle up to checkpoints (passport in hand), and hike alongside unguarded border markings. We browse for books at the Haskell Library that straddles the two countries, where a line along the floor marks the border (no fines for crossing over, just for late returns).
The stories of Stanstead (Canada) and Derby Line (USA) — twin towns whose intertwined sewer lines and bloodlines surmount the borderline — have always been too good to be true. For decades, their shared cross-border heritage withstood the transgressions of smugglers sneaking in booze, drugs and guns.
Then came 9/11 — and terrorist fears tightened up security while loosening interconnectedness. Today, a line of oversized flower pots has closed off the street alongside the historic library. A border patrol vehicle is a constant presence, with American agents reflexively reminding all bookworms not to worm their way into America.
Where once residents of the USA could casually cross the aptly named Canusa St. to use our sidewalk, they must now report to the border post. Homes that once offered the best of both worlds have plunged in price as prospective buyers feared double trouble.
Despite the strain, co-existence continued. This year, the frontier felt different.
Walking unchallenged through a wildlife sanctuary abutting the border — where the white markings of the International Boundary Commission dot the landscape — I couldn’t help thinking of the recent surge in migrants, who take the extra step of crossing onto Canadian soil. It must be odd for the ever-vigilant American patrols on the borderline, now watching from the sidelines, mindful less of infiltration than exfiltration.
Initially, many Canadians reacted to the news reports with customary smugness and superiority about our humane treatment of downtrodden refugees. But it bears repeating that the sudden increase — Haitians make up an estimated 85 per cent — isn’t as simple as a Donald Trump crackdown versus a Justin Trudeau haven.
In fact, the U.S. still gives sanctuary to Haitians in the wake of a 2010 earthquake, though it is under review. Ottawa quietly resumed deportations in 2014. That means they still have legal status in Trump’s America, but not in Trudeau’s Canada.
That’s not to say Ottawa was wrong to wrap up its program — the earthquake occurred seven years ago — just that it’s wrongheaded to view Canada as the good guy and America as the bad guy. Despite the obvious strains in U.S. immigration policy, its refugee system is still better than most, and Canada has been deporting Haitians while the U.S. hasn’t.
Most have crossed into Quebec, and many will soon be sent to temporary housing in eastern Ontario. They are exploiting a little-understood loophole in our carefully regulated but largely undefended frontier: refugee claimants are turned back at official border points if they already have safe haven in the U.S., yet are allowed to file new claims in Canada if they walk over in between crossings.
It is an axiom of refugee policy that you shouldn’t shuttle from one safe haven to another in search of a better outcome. And as difficult as Haiti can be, economic migrants aren’t bona fide refugees.
“Unless you are being persecuted or fleeing terror or war, you would not qualify as a refugee,” Transport Minister Marc Garneau noted Thursday after the RCMP announced nearly 4,000 crossings so far this month — double the rate for July and five times the pace in June.
The rising tide of refugee claims is a reminder of the sometimes irresistible impulse that drives so many migrants to take risks — and try their chances elsewhere. Easy as it is for us here in Canada to criticize others (notably Europeans and Australians) for trying to stem the tide of boat people, the relatively modest surge in arrivals here puts the problem in perspective.
The only consolation for those crossing the Canada-U.S. border is that they are not risking their lives on unseaworthy vessels in the hands of human smugglers. The death rate among migrants crossing the Mediterranean has nearly doubled, with more than 1,500 lives lost so far this year.
Haitian arrivals deserve to be treated with humanity and dignity — and due process. Yet the surge is a recipe for refugee chaos and dashed hopes if it continues unabated.
And a reminder that the fantasy of open borders — the cornerstone of which is compliance — is usually a story without a happy ending.
Martin Regg Cohn's political column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. firstname.lastname@example.org , Twitter: @reggcohn
Martin Regg Cohn's political column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. email@example.com , Twitter: @reggcohn
A Canadian killed in a terrorist attack on a popular street in Barcelona was described by his family as a man who was “always game for a lively debate, a good book exploring new places, and a proper-sized pint.”
In a Facebook post, Staff Sergeant Fiona Wilson, a member of the Vancouver police department, confirmed that her father, Ian Moore Wilson, was among the 13 people killed in the terrorist attack.
“In the midst of this tragedy, my dad would want those around him to focus on the extraordinary acts of human kindness that our family has experienced over the past several days,” wrote Wilson.
She also thanked first responders and others who helped out in the aftermath of the attack, including “the people who assisted my dad in his final moments, and those who focused on my mum’s urgent medical attention and aftercare.”
Wilson is described as a loving husband to his wife Valerie Wilson of 53 years, a father, brother and grandfather.
The family said they intend on focusing on “the extraordinary acts of human kindness” they’ve experienced despite the tragedy because that’s what Wilson would have wanted.
They say they’ve received support from Vancouver police, the RCMP, airlines and emergency responders in Spain who helped Wilson in his final moments and provided urgent medical care to Valerie Wilson.
“These are the things we will choose to focus on when we endeavour to come to terms with the senseless violence and acts of hatred that have taken loved ones before their time,” the family statement said.
The family has asked that their privacy be respected.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday that in addition to Moore’s death, four other Canadians were injured in the terrorist attack.
“It was with great sadness that I learned today that one Canadian was killed and four others injured during (Thursday’s) cowardly terrorist attack in Barcelona," Trudeau said in a statement.
“Sophie and I offer our condolences to the families and friends in mourning, and hope for a speedy recovery for the injured Canadians,” Trudeau said.
"We join Spain and countries around the world in grieving the senseless loss of so many innocent people. We must stand firm against the spread of hate and intolerance in all its forms. These violent acts that seek to divide us will only strengthen our resolve."
The details about those who were injured or their current condition has not been released. Canadian officials say they are in touch with the affected families.
Here is a look at some of the other victims:
Francisco Lopez Rodriguez, Spain
One of his nieces, Raquel Baron Lopez, said on her Twitter account that Rodriguez, 60, died immediately when he was struck by the van. After the attack, Lopez posted pictures of her uncle on Twitter when his family was looking for him and trying to find out whether he was alive.
The mayor of Lanteira, the southern town in Spain where Rodriguez was born, confirmed his death to Spanish media.
Luca Russo, Italy
His death was confirmed in a tweet by Italian Premier Paolo Gentiloni.
Italian media reported that Russo was 25, held a university degree in engineering and lived in northern Italy. Italian officials said Russo’s girlfriend suffered fractures and remains hospitalized.
Bruno Gulotta, 35, Italy
The mayor in his town, Legnano in northern Italy, confirmed Gulotta’s death. One of his Gulotta’s work colleagues, Pino Bruno, told the Italian news agency ANSA that he saved the life of his two young children — Alessandro, 6, and Aria, 7 months — by throwing himself between them and the van that mowed people down.
Bruno said he spoke to Gulotta’s wife, Martina, and that she told him her husband had been holding the 6-year-old’s hand on the tourist-thronged avenue when “the van appeared suddenly.”
“Everyone knelt down, instinctively, as if to protect themselves,” Bruno said, adding that Gulotta put himself in front of his children and was fatally struck.
Elke Vanbockrijck, Belgium
Arnould Partoens, president of the KFC Heur Tongeren football team, said Vanbockrijck was at the club “nearly every day,” ferrying her 10- and 14-year-old boys back and forth to training and matches. He described her as very committed, often speaking her mind about the boys’ and their teams’ performances.
“She was not negative. She was always positive,” he said in a phone interview. He said the team would hold one minute of silence before every match and training session this weekend.
Partoens said the family was on vacation in Barcelona. The boys and their father, a policeman, were unhurt, he said.
“The mother was in the wrong moment and the wrong place,” he said.
Also, listed as missing:
Jared Tucker, U.S.
His sister, Tina Luke, told The Associated Press that Tucker and his wife, Heidi Nunes-Tucker, were celebrating their honeymoon in Barcelona. She said they married a year ago and then saved up for the trip. She said Tucker is listed as missing and hasn’t been found among the more than 100 injured.
San Francisco broadcaster ABC-7 News reported that Tucker, 43, is from Lafayette in California.
It said the Tuckers were in Barcelona after a two-week European vacation.
It quoted brother-in-law Kalani Kalanui as saying: “They were walking through downtown when he stopped to use the restroom, moments later all hell broke loose and Heidi was swept up in the terrified crowd and she lost sight of Jared.”
With files from the Associated Press
With files from the Associated Press
Refugee claimants stuck in Canada’s growing backlog have a chance to get their cases heard speedily — if they can afford to take the Immigration and Refugee Board to court.
The Star has learned that at least a dozen asylum cases in which claimants took the board to court, including some that have been in the queue since 2012 and earlier, have been scheduled for hearings by the board since July.
By giving the asylum-seekers their long-awaited hearings, the board avoided the possibility the Federal Court would make a ruling in relation to its handling of the backlog.
Critics say timely processing of asylum claims should not be available only to those who pursue legal action against the government.
“Those who have money can go to the expensive litigation and may be able to get a resolution for themselves,” said lawyer Raoul Boulakia, who represented two of these asylum claimants, a Sri Lankan man and a woman from Burundi.
“But this is not the answer for the vast majority of refugees in the backlog who don’t have the money or are too afraid to litigate against the Canadian government.”
There are some 5,500 so-called legacy asylum claims, those that were filed before 2012 reforms that required new cases to be heard within 60 days. While the refugee board has focused on the new claims, the legacy cases were put on the back-burner. Even some of the new cases have been delayed, meaning the backlog has continued to grow.
Exacerbating the situation is the surge of asylum seekers crossing the border via the United States since President Donald Trump came into power.
The board declined to comment on the litigation, saying it doesn’t comment on individual cases or private proceedings.
Board spokesperson Anna Pape said the refugee backlog stood at 25,365 in June 2017 and is currently growing at a rate of about 1,000 cases per month.
“Over the past 18 months, the (board) has been facing mounting workload pressures amid a rising intake of refugee claims and fixed output capacity. These pressures have led directly to lengthening processing times,” she said.
So far, Ottawa hasn’t provided additional funding to the board, which has the capacity to hear about 21,000 claims a year.
In 2015, some frustrated claimants in the backlog initiated what’s known as “mandamus” litigation with the Federal Court of Canada in an effort to challenge the inaction of the board on their files and order officials to adjudicate their cases.
The backlog has created tremendous hardship for some claimants, who are often separated from their families and cannot plan their lives without permanent status.
Legal Aid Ontario does not usually cover mandamus litigation, but it did fund some of the claimants — from Afghanistan, Burundi, Congo, Eritrea, Guinea, Namibia, Somalia, Sri Lanka and Turkey — represented by Boulakia and the Refugee Law Office in Toronto. There were also similar cases handled by other lawyers.
One of Boulakia’s clients, Ingrid Ntahigima, was a member of the Movement for Solidarity and Democracy, an opposition party in Burundi. She fled to Canada and made an asylum claim in October 2012 due to political persecution.
For years the refugee board didn’t hear her case, despite her repeated pleas and a psychiatric report that showed she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder due to trauma in Burundi and severe depression as a result of the inability to get her asylum resolved.
“I didn’t have any option. I felt so powerless. I didn’t see any hope. I didn’t see any future,” said the 25-year-old from Bujumbura, who works as a customer service representative. She paid more than $3,000 for the litigation out of her own pocket.
“The wait wasn’t necessary. They wasted five years of my life. I understand there is a process, but this is people’s lives. Five years is a long time. It should not be that way. It is just unfair.”
In July, the refugee board agreed to schedule the asylum hearing for Ntahigima and the other litigants. After previewing the woman’s file before the hearing, a refugee judge decided to grant her asylum status immediately because she had such a strong claim. Once she was given a hearing date, her court case was over.
“The violence that reigns in Burundi includes acts of violence motivated by ethnic hatred against the Tutsi minority. Since the claimant is identified as being an opponent of the current regime, she risks being targeted, arrested and abused by the Burundian authorities,” wrote adjudicator Robert Riley in his asylum decision.
“The political opinion of the claimant, combined with her ethnicity, establishes a nexus to the (United Nations) Convention refugee definition.”
While Ntahigima is relieved that she can now move on with her life, she feels the delay was unnecessary.
“Justice delayed is justice denied,” said Ntahigima, who is trying to save up money to apply for permanent residency and continue her university education, hopefully pursuing a degree in international studies and business.
“I’m happy I was granted (refugee) status and can now move on with my life, but it is an injustice if you don’t have the money to sue or are too afraid to raise your voice.”
WASHINGTON—The White House has announced that U.S. President Donald Trump and the first lady have decided not to participate in events honouring recipients of this year’s Kennedy Center arts awards.
The statement says the decision to break with tradition was made to “allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction.”
Past presidents and first ladies have hosted a reception for honorees at the White House before the Kennedy Center gala and sat with them at the televised event.
The decision comes a day after the entire membership of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities resigned to protest Trump’s comments about last weekend’s violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Trump’s proposal to cut funding for the arts also had drawn into question whether he would be welcome at this year’s awards.
Trump also chose to skip the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner in April and instead attended a rally in Pennsylvania where he began with marks attacking the news media while dismissing the dinner and its participants.
“A large group of Hollywood actors and Washington media are consoling each other in a hotel ballroom in our nation’s capital right now,” Trump said. He added: “And I could not possibly be more thrilled than to be more than 100 miles away from Washington’s swamp, spending my evening with all of you and with a much, much larger crowd and much better people, right?”
Employees at the Uniqlo store at Toronto Eaton Centre have decided to hold a vote on whether to join a union to improve conditions at the Japanese apparel retailer’s first Canadian location.
Staff at the store are being scheduled for 9.5-hour workdays that include 90 minutes of unpaid breaks and they are often asked to work overtime on top of that, said Chicheng Wat, 35, who works on the sales floor and in the management office.
“People say: ‘It’s just retail, what do you expect,’ but we work hard, we deserve to be treated fairly,” said Wat.
Other employees have said that during peak periods, they are expected to work 12-hour days, said Tanya Ferguson, organizing co-ordinator for Workers United Canada Council.
“I think fundamentally what it comes down to is there just seems to be a lack of respect,” said Ferguson.
The 169 non-management Eaton Centre store employees are scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to join Workers United Canada, after more than 40 per cent of them signed union cards — the first step in the process toward union certification.
If 50 per cent plus one of the votes are in favour of a union, they can begin negotiating a contract with management.
Uniqlo, a division of Japan’s Fast Retailing Co. Ltd., opened two stores in the GTA last year, the first at the Eaton Centre, the second at Yorkdale. It sells casualwear for men, women and children. It is planning to open a third Canadian store in Burnaby, B.C.
Uniqlo has 837 stores in Japan, accounting for 6.5 per cent of the Japanese apparel market and it is now pursuing growth via global markets in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea the United Kingdom, where it began opening stores in 2001.
It has 51 stores in the U.S.
Uniqlo Canada said it could not make the deadline to comment for this story.
Workers first reached out to the union in July, after hearing of its success in organizing personal trainers at GoodLife Fitness.
“They felt the best way to improve the workplace and stem high turnover was to unionize,” said Ryan Hayes, communications and research, Workers United Canada Council.
“To our knowledge, this is the first unionization drive at a Uniqlo anywhere in the world.”
The union, which has its roots in the garment trade, represents 10,000 workers in Canada and is part of a North American union representing 100,000, said Hayes.
Two men are in serious condition following a shooting in a downtown hotel early Saturday.
Toronto police Const. Caroline de Kloet said two men were found with gunshot wounds in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency hotel at King St. W. and Peter St. near Spadina Ave. around 4:30 a.m.
“One man had a gunshot wound to his stomach and the other man had a gunshot wound to his leg,” she said.
Both were conscious and breathing when they were transported to hospital.
Toronto police were still on the scene as of Saturday morning continuing the investigation. There is currently no information on suspects.
Anyone with information is being asked to contact police at 416-808-5200 or Crime Stoppers at 416-222-8477.
Anyone with information is being asked to contact police at 416-808-5200 or Crime Stoppers at 416-222-8477.
Stephen Bannon’s ouster rids the White House of someone who fed off chaos, obsessed over his own image and sowed conflict among top aides to the president.
The problem is that many of Bannon’s most-damaging traits were merely an amplification of the man who continues to sit in the Oval Office.
Thirty weeks into his presidency, U.S. President Donald Trump has made clear that he’s unwilling or unable to abandon a management approach that pits staff against one another, openly antagonizes outside allies, and leaves little room for the painstaking work of governance.
In any other White House, Bannon’s departure as chief strategist on Friday would serve as a reset for the administration following a disastrous week dominated by the president’s combative insistence that “both sides” were to blame for the violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
It’s the boldest stroke in Chief of Staff John Kelly’s attempt to impose order on a White House divided into warring camps. And it would appear to give a boost to those within the White House who opposed Bannon’s hard-line anti-trade instincts, military isolationism and hostility to the federal bureaucracy.
But Bannon will now take his battle to the outside — where the president and his advisers will have no control over his message. Bannon has ample access to funding through his close relationships with conservative billionaire Bob Mercer and other major Republican donors.
Kurt Bardella, a Republican communications specialist who worked for Bannon at Breitbart but later denounced him, predicted the strategist would “feel liberated” by his departure.
“Now, he will be able to operate openly and freely to inflict as much damage as he possibly can on the ‘globalists’ that remain in the Trump Administration,” Bardella said.
Speaking in an interview with Bloomberg shortly after his departure, Bannon vowed to do just that.
“If there’s any confusion out there, let me clear it up: I’m leaving the White House and going to war for Trump against his opponents — on Capitol Hill, in the media, and in corporate America,” said Bannon, who returned to the job he left to join Trump’s campaign, executive chairman of the conservative website Breitbart News.
The same crisis that accelerated Bannon’s ouster also underscores why the reset is unlikely to be more than symbolic: the man at the top.
To his own detriment, the president resisted an unequivocal condemnation of white supremacists for the violence in Charlottesville, a position cheered on by Bannon.
The episode was an authentic representation of Trump. The president has made clear he’s naturally inclined to stake out politically incorrect positions and serially unwilling to apologize for missteps. His electoral victory despite a string of controversies that would have easily felled nearly any other politician has left Trump with the impression he’s unlikely to pay any political cost for stoking outrage.
He’s been unable to replicate his surprise electoral success in Washington, where the lawmakers and establishment interests he enjoys alienating control important levers of power. There’s little about Bannon’s departure that will help pass an Obamacare repeal, a tax overhaul or a $1 trillion infrastructure plan.
The strategist’s exit won’t repair relationships frayed by caustic attacks, a reflex on display again this week as he launched public tirades against corporate chief executives and Republican senators who dared to criticize him. Nor will the exit convince lawmakers to support the agenda of a president with historically low poll ratings.
In fact, the ouster severs a conduit to his populist base.
Bannon’s departure is also unlikely to satisfy critics who still want Trump to show remorse for his remarks. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement Friday that while the firing was “welcome news” that it “doesn’t disguise where President Trump himself stands on white supremacists and the bigoted beliefs they advance.”
Even Bannon’s departure was motivated in part with the president’s frustration that his aide was often depicted as a Svengali strategist in press accounts and on Saturday Night Live, betraying Trump’s intense fascination with his own media portrayal.
Others in the administration cautioned that the move could weaken the president’s ability to translate his ideas into policy.
Bannon was the administration’s most effective advocate for delivering on the Trump campaign agenda, said one White House official opposed to the move who requested anonymity to discuss internal dynamics. The official predicted Bannon’s removal would isolate Stephen Miller, the president’s senior adviser who’s best known for his efforts to curtail immigration, and would leave the president vulnerable to so-called “globalist” who promote policies that could alienate elements of the president’s conservative base.
“Trump’s voters may get upset that America’s not being made great again,” said former Trump adviser Sam Nunberg. “We’ll find out.”
BOSTON—Thousands of demonstrators chanting anti-Nazi slogans converged Saturday on downtown Boston in a boisterous repudiation of white nationalism, dwarfing a small group of conservatives who cut short their planned “free speech rally” a week after a gathering of hate groups led to bloodshed in Virginia.
An estimated 15,000 counter-protesters marched through the city to historic Boston Common, where many gathered near a bandstand abandoned early by conservatives who had planned to deliver a series of speeches. Police vans later escorted the conservatives out of the area, and angry counter-protesters scuffled with armed officers trying to maintain order.
Organizers of the midday event, billed as a “Free Speech Rally,” have publicly distanced themselves from the neo-Nazis, white supremacists and others who fomented violence in Charlottesville on Aug. 12. A woman was killed at that Unite the Right rally, and scores of others were injured, when a car plowed into counterdemonstrators.
Opponents feared that white nationalists might show up in Boston anyway, raising the spectre of ugly confrontations in the first potentially large and racially charged gathering in a major U.S. city since Charlottesville. But only a few dozen conservatives turned out for the rally on historic Boston Common — in stark contrast to the estimated 15,000 counter-protesters — and the conservatives abruptly left early.
One of the planned speakers of the conservative activist rally said the event “fell apart.”
Congressional candidate Samson Racioppi, who was among several slated to speak, told WCVB-TV that he didn’t realize “how unplanned of an event it was going to be.”
Some counter-protesters dressed entirely in black and wore bandanas over their faces. They chanted anti-Nazi and anti-fascism slogans, and waved signs that said: “Make Nazis Afraid Again,” “Love your neighbour,” “Resist fascism” and “Hate never made U.S. great.” Others carried a large banner that read: “SMASH WHITE SUPREMACY.”
“I came out today to show support for the black community and for all minority communities,” said Rockeem Robinson, 21, a youth counsellor from Cambridge.
He said he wasn’t concerned about his personal safety because he felt more support on his side.
Katie Griffiths, 48, a social worker also from Cambridge, who works with members of poor and minority communities, said she finds the hate and violence happening “very scary.”
“I see poor people and people of colour being scapegoated,” she said. “Unlearned lessons can be repeated.”
TV cameras showed a group of boisterous counter-protesters on the Common chasing a man with a Trump campaign banner and cap, shouting and swearing at him. But other counter-protesters intervened and helped the man safely over a fence into the area where the conservative rally was to be staged. Black-clad counter-protesters also grabbed an American flag out of an elderly woman’s hands, and she stumbled and fell to the ground.
Yet Saturday’s showdown was mostly peaceable, and after demonstrators dispersed, a picnic atmosphere took over with stragglers tossing beach balls, banging on bongo drums and playing reggae music.
The Boston Free Speech Coalition, which organized the event, said it has nothing to do with white nationalism or racism and its group is not affiliated with the Charlottesville rally organizers in any way.
“We are strictly about free speech,” the group said on its Facebook page. “We denounce the politics of supremacy and violence.”
Dating to 1634, Boston Common is the nation’s oldest city park. The leafy downtown park is popular with locals and tourists and has been the scene of numerous rallies and protests for centuries.
Rallies also were planned in cities across the country, including Dallas, Atlanta and New Orleans.
Hundreds of people gathered at City Hall in Austin, Texas, Saturday morning, holding signs in support of racial equality. The Austin American-Statesmen reported organizers for the Rally Against White Supremacy estimated about 1,200 people were in attendance.
DIEPPE, FRANCE—Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr is leading a Canadian government delegation to France to mark the 75th anniversary of the Dieppe raid during the Second World War.
The raid, launched on Aug. 19, 1942, would prove to be the bloodiest single day for Canada’s military in the entire war.
The Prime Minister released a statement Saturday to honour the hundreds of Canadians who lost their lives in the battle.
Of the nearly 5,000 Canadian soldiers who took part in the ill-fated mission, more than half became casualties, and 916 would die on the rocky shore of Puys Beach on the northern coast of occupied France.
The beach landing was supposed to happen under the cover of darkness, but the Canadians, along with 1,000 British and 50 American soldiers, were late arriving on shore, and as the sun rose they were left exposed to withering fire from German troops on the cliffs above.
Justin Trudeau said the loss at Dieppe taught Allied forces valuable lessons, which he said helped “to turn the tide of the war on D-Day” less than two years later.
“As we commemorate the Dieppe Raid at events in Canada and France, I ask all Canadians to honour the people who gave so much at Dieppe, as well as their families at home who suffered the loss of their loved ones,” Trudeau says.
Governor General David Johnston noted that this year marks the centennial anniversary of two great victories for Canada — the battles at Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele in the First World War — but it’s equally important to remember the losses, like the one at Dieppe.
“We must never forget the terrible cost of armed conflict and ensure that future generations remember, lest we repeat the mistakes of the past,” Johnston said in a statement.
Ceremonies honouring the soldiers’ sacrifice are being held Saturday in Dieppe, Montreal, Calgary and on Sunday in Dieppe, New Brunswick.
Visitors to this year’s Canadian National Exhibition will notice enhanced security measures, including more police officers, in and around the grounds in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Spain.
“You can see the exterior of the park has been hardened somewhat with (concrete) barriers but there are other measures that aren’t seen to the eye,” CNE chief executive officer Virginia Ludy said Friday as the 139th annual fair opened for business.
“We have a very robust plan that we roll out for the two weeks of the event.”
On Thursday afternoon, a suspected terrorist drove a van into a crowd on the Las Ramblas tourist area in Barcelona, killing at least 13 people and injuring more than 100.
A second attack occurred in the resort town of Cambrils south of Barcelona eight hours later, leaving one woman dead.
Ludy said CNE organizers consulted with security officials before the CNE opened Friday morning.
“As part of our overall security plans we’re always monitoring what’s going on in the world and certainly when we see scenes like the tragic one we saw yesterday in Barcelona, it just re-emphasizes to us the importance of continuing to review those plans and making modifications where necessary,” she said.
“Clearly when you are inviting 1.6 million people to a community event, safety and security is always top of mind.”
Mayor John Tory joined Premier Kathleen Wynne and other dignitaries for the opening ceremony inside the entrance to the Princes’ Gates, blocked to incoming traffic with concrete blocks.
Tory said he has spoken to Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders who is satisfied with the security plan for the CNE’s two-week run.
It is the primary job of the police and civic officials to keep people in Toronto safe, “and I’m confident that everything is being done in cooperation with security intelligence agencies to do just that,” Tory said.
He also expressed condolences for the victims and horror at what unfolded in Spain.
“This is an attack on our way of life, because we share the way of life with the people of Spain and many other countries.”
The use of barriers to block entrances to the Exhibition grounds demonstrates there are steps that can be taken to prevent someone from driving a car into a crowd, a tactic terrorists used during attacks in Nice, Berlin and London.
“The CNE and many other organizations and public venues are taking the steps necessary to provide as much protection to people as possible and to make sure people in Toronto remain safe.”
The CNE has taken additional measures to keep thrill seekers on the midway safe.
The Fire Ball will not be operating after an 18-year-old man was killed and seven others injured while on the same attraction at the Ohio State Fair in July.
The ride malfunctioned and an entire row of seats broke apart and threw riders to the ground. The manufacturer found that “excessive corrosion” led to the “catastrophic failure.”
The CNE inspects of all of its rides daily during the fair, which runs until Sept. 4.
The Canadian National Exhibition has cancelled its popular Youth Day for this year’s exhibition, citing issues in 2016 when it was forced to shut down early due to safety concerns.
The CNE reviews its promotions yearly and last year’s incident was a factor in the decision, said media spokesperson Tran Nguyen.
Last year police were called to the fair grounds after multiple fights broke out during Youth Day, when admission prices drop to $6 before 3 p.m. and there are discounted rides.
Two 16-year-olds and a 17-year-old were arrested and, in a “proactive measure,” the exhibition closed nearly three hours early.
The CNE then said it would be re-evaluating the event, which they have had for six years.
“A few bad apples” won’t deter the CNE from welcoming youth, Nguyen said.
Security is “very comprehensive” and they factor in past years’ experiences into the security plan, Nguyen continued.
This year, in an effort to appeal to the younger demographic despite cancelling Youth Day, youth-oriented programming has been expanded for the whole fair, including concerts and things like Parkour demonstrations and laser shows, Nguyen said.
Tickets are being offered at $8 to all ages after 5 p.m. each Monday to Thursday, excluding Labour Day.
In 2015, the CNE closed an hour early due to overcrowding, when 20,000 more people than expected, including “large groups of youth” were counted at the Youth Day event. While they called the turn out a “positive response,” the decision was “simply to ensure the safety of our guests.”
With files from Emily Fearon
With files from Emily Fearon
Police are probing whether a dissolving business partnership involving the London, Ont., Hells Angels is behind two failed murder attempts in the GTA this month.
The latest shooting took place on Wednesday outside a coffee shop at Sherway Gardens near The West Mall and Evans Ave. around 7:30 p.m.
The shootings are the latest in a string of more than a dozen unsolved violent incidents this year in southern Ontario, including killings, explosions and arsons.
Organized crime experts say the GTA is undergoing a power struggle that pits old established criminals against younger, up-and-coming ones, often from outside the province.
They’re fighting for control of drug networks and online gambling dollars, experts say, adding they don’t expect the fighting to end anytime soon.
On the organized crime front, Several shots were fired in the Wednesday attack that left Mark Peretz of London, Ont., seriously injured.
A second male victim also suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
The suspects, who were wearing black masks and all-black clothing, fled in a black SUV, which was later located — burned and abandoned — in Mississauga near Hurontario St. and Queen Elizabeth Way, police said.
Peretz is one of four men who served prison time for a botched mob hit in 2004 that left an innocent mother-of-three paralyzed from the waist down.
In the other attack, a 35-year-old London, Ont., man was shot after he was approached by three men outside a Sunset Grill breakfast restaurant in an Oakville shopping plaza at Cornwall and Trafalgar Rds. around 9:30 a.m. on Aug. 4.
One male suspect was arrested after fleeing on foot while two other males are still being sought by police after fleeing in a black pickup truck.
A police source said that a dissolving business partnership that involves the London, Ont., Hells Angels and online gambling has contributed to recent underworld tensions.
Peretz was sentenced to 10 years in prison in April 2006 for his role in a driveby shooting attack at a California Sandwich shop on Chesswood Dr. in Etobicoke on April 21, 2004 that left innocent bystander Louise Russo paralyzed from the waist down.
Court heard that Peretz was the driver of a stolen van in the shooting and that the motive was an outstanding $240,000 online gambling debt owed to him.
Peretz took part in a controversial plea bargain that provided Russo with $2 million in restitution, along with Peter Scarcella of York Region, described by Corrections Canada as a mob figure; Paris Christoforou, who was then sergeant-at-arms for the London, Ont., Hells Angels; and gunman Antonio Borrelli.
Peretz, Scarcella and Christoforou each were sentenced to nine years in prison while Borrelli received a 10-year term. Opposition politicians in Queens Park slammed the deal as an attempt to buy lighter sentences.
Court heard that the target of the botched murder attempt was Michele Modica, who was in the restaurant at the time of the shooting but was not injured.
Court heard that Modica entered Canada on a forged passport and with an associate ran up online gambling debts of about $240,000 owed to Peretz.
Court heard that Christoforou was Peretz’s partner and head of collections.
Their associate, Raffaele Delle Donne, later became a police agent. He is quoted in the agreed statement of facts on the case as saying that Peretz and Christoforou met with Modica shortly before the shooting and left no doubt they expected payment in full.
“I didn’t see it but I heard that uh, Mark (Peretz) . . . and uh, his bodyguard (Christoforou) I guess . . . kicked (Modica) in the face and put a . . . gun in his mouth,” Delle Donne is reported as saying.
WASHINGTON—Civilian researchers say they have located the wreck of the USS Indianapolis, the Second World War heavy cruiser that played a critical role in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima before being struck by Japanese torpedoes.
The sinking of the Indianapolis remains the U.S. Navy’s single worst loss at sea. The fate of its crew — nearly 900 were killed, many by sharks, and just 316 survived — was one of the Pacific war’s more horrible and fascinating tales.
The expedition crew of Research Vessel Petrel, which is owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, says it located the wreckage of the Indianapolis on the floor of the North Pacific Ocean, more than 5,500 metres (18,000 feet) below the surface, the U.S. Navy said in a news release Saturday.
“To be able to honour the brave men of the USS Indianapolis and their families through the discovery of a ship that played such a significant role in ending World War II is truly humbling,” Allen said in the news release.
The Indianapolis, with 1,196 sailors and Marines on board, was sailing the Philippine Sea between Guam and Leyte Gulf when two torpedoes from a Japanese submarine struck just after midnight on July 30, 1945. It sank in 12 minutes, killing about 300. Survivors were left in the water, most of them with only life jackets.
There was no time to send a distress signal, and four days passed before a bomber on routine patrol happened to spot the survivors in the water. By the time rescuers arrived, a combination of exposure, dehydration, drowning and constant shark attacks had left only one-fourth of the ship’s original number alive.
Over the years numerous books recounted the ship’s disaster and its role in delivering key components of what would become the atomic bomb “Little Boy” to the island of Tinian, the takeoff point for the bomber Enola Gay’s mission to Hiroshima in August 1945. Documentaries and movies, most recently USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage (2016) starring Nicolas Cage, have recounted the crew’s horror-filled days at sea. The Indianapolis sinking also was a plot point in the Steven Spielberg blockbuster Jaws (1975), with the fictitious survivor Capt. Quint recounting the terror he felt waiting to be rescued.
The Navy news release issued Saturday said a key to finding the Indianapolis came in 2016 when Richard Hulver, a historian with the Naval History and Heritage Command, determined a new search area. Hulver’s research identified a naval landing craft that had recorded a sighting of the Indianapolis the day before it sank. The research team developed a new search area, although it was still 600 square miles of open ocean.
The Navy said the 13-person expedition team on the R/V Petrel was surveying the Indianapolis site. The team’s work has been compliant with U.S. law regarding a sunken warship as a military grave not to be disturbed, according to the Navy. The wrecked ship remains the property of the Navy and its location is both confidential and restricted, it said.
Toronto firefighters have a new collective agreement, cementing them as the highest-paid firefighters in the province in terms of base salary.
The decision, awarded on Friday after arbitration between the city and the Toronto Professional Firefighters’ Association, also maintains the long-standing practice of advancing firefighter wages in lock-step with police salaries.
“With arbitration you don’t get everything you want, but overall we feel the decision is balanced,” said Toronto Professional Fire Fighters’ Association president Frank Ramagnano.
“By 2018 we’ll be at the exact same level as Toronto police, we’re just taking a slightly different road to get there,” Ramangnano said.
The new deal covers 2015-18. The arbitration award represents a roughly 8.5-per-cent-increase over four years. Most of those increases are loaded on the front end of the four-year period. In 2018, salaries will increase by only about half a per cent that year.
As of July 2017, the base salary for a first-class firefighter will be $97,910 per year — about $8,000 per year more than under the previous collective agreement.
Retroactive wage increases will be paid out within 90 days to the city’s 3,000 plus firefighters, the arbitration ruling says. That means the majority of cost increases from the new agreement must be paid out in lump sums.
Toronto firefighters had been without a contract since 2014, when talks broke down between the association and the city.
While no other Ontario firefighters earn as high a base salary, Ramagnano said in terms of total compensation, including benefits like bankable sick days and paid-duty assignments, Toronto firefighters are the lowest-paid emergency services workers in the city.
“Our vacation isn’t as generous,” Ramagnano said. “We didn’t get any increase to our eye care packages, like other comparables did.”
Ramagnano also pointed to lower pay on statutory holidays, and a work week that’s two hours longer than that of Toronto police officers.
Given that the new deal covers up to only 2018, Ramagnano said he hopes the next collective agreement can be reached through negotiation, instead of going to arbitration.
The increased costs of the new deal will put more pressure on city coffers, even after city council voted in May to freeze all budgets at 2017 levels for a year.
After accounting for inflation, that’s the equivalent of cutting $11 million from the operating budget.
The city faces an initial budget shortfall of $343 million in 2018 unless property taxes are raised above the roughly 2-per-cent inflation mark.
With files from Betsy Powell
With files from Betsy Powell