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    A judge will consider whether a Toronto woman facing terror-related charges needs a mental health assessment to determine if she’s fit to stand trial.

    Rehab Dughmosh was handcuffed and held at the wrists by a pair of guards wearing helmets, facemasks and padding in her court appearance via video Monday. Her face and head were uncovered, though she has worn a niqab at previous court appearances.

    The judge asked Dughmosh several questions through an interpreter, about her understanding of the court process.

    “You are all infidels. I do not worship what you worship,” Dughmosh responded each time, in Arabic, without looking directly into the camera.

    Later, while a Crown prosecutor attempted to speak, Dughmosh said in English, “Those people hurt me here,” appearing to nod toward the guards.

    Dughmosh was arrested in June for allegedly brandishing a golf club and knife at a Canadian Tire in Scarborough. She has pledged allegiance to Daesh in court, declared that she does not believe in the Canadian legal system and said that “if you release me, I will commit these actions again and again and again.”

    She has told the court she does not want legal counsel, and plans to plead guilty to her charges, which include one count of leaving Canada for the purpose of participating in a terrorist group and multiple counts each of attempted murder, assault with a weapon, carrying a dangerous weapon and carrying a concealed weapon, all “at the direction of, or in association with, a terrorist group.”

    Dughmosh refused to appear in person or by video at her last three scheduled court dates, and had to be brought before a video camera by force Monday.

    Dughmosh was judged mentally fit for trial at her early court appearances. She was responsive and demonstrated an understanding of the role of the court and its officials, federal prosecutor Bradley Reitz told the court.

    But statements by a family member, contained in the Crown’s evidence, suggest there is reason to believe Dughmosh has some form of mental illness, said Ingrid Grant, a lawyer appointed to the case as amicus— someone who assists the court by making sure all relevant evidence and arguments are properly presented, particularly when the accused represents themselves.

    Based on her actions Monday, Dughmosh should be assessed by a doctor to determine whether she is still fit, Grant told the court.

    The judge agreed there was enough evidence to consider an assessment, and will decide next Monday whether to order that an assessment take place.

    Dughmosh’s case is one of many raising concerns among lawyers about the way the courts handle an accused person’s mental health.

    “It’s so frustrating, because ever since funding cuts to hospitals, the criminal courts have become the (authority) that primarily deal with mental health,” former assistant Crown attorney Daniel Lerner said.

    “And you can tell the options that criminal courts have are not pretty and they’re mainly not that effective.”

    Being declared “fit” for trial requires only that the accused person has a basic understanding of the court process, what they are charged with, what it means to be under oath, who the judge, prosecutors and defence lawyers are and what they do.

    “It’s a very low standard to meet,” Lerner said. “It’s very basic. You might have serious mental illnesses, you might have irrational delusions, but you might still be able to answer all those (fitness requirement) questions properly, in which case you’re fit.”

    If, at any time, a judge has evidence that a person is unfit for trial, they can order that the accused undergo a formal fitness assessment by a doctor.

    The fact that Dughmosh refused for so long to come to court, and does not have a lawyer to appear in her place made it difficult for the court to determine whether enough evidence for an assessment existed, said lawyer Jessyca Greenwood, who specializes in mental health-related cases but is unconnected with the Dughmosh case.

    “I’ve been able to get a doctor to see my client at the jail before, when they were refusing to come to court in that case,” Greenwood said.

    “But I, as the defence lawyer, was in court and explained to the judge what was going on, and then based on the (client’s) repeated refusal to come to court and the information I gave, the judge made that order,” she added.

    If an accused person consents to a fitness assessment, the process can last up to 30 days, according to public information provided by Legal Aid Ontario. If they do not want to be assessed, the process is capped at five days, although in either case a judge can extend the assessment by an additional 30 days, as they deem necessary.

    If the doctor performing the assessment determines that the accused is not fit for trial, they can be sent for treatment, until they are well enough to be qualified as “fit.”

    That treatment could result in the accused being kept in a high-security hospital for years, Lerner said.

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    Every other year — going back to Jean Chrétien’s first mandate — I’ve tried to spend the last week of my summer vacation on Quebec’s Magdalen Islands, using part of the time to catch a glimpse of what makes some of the voters behind the polling numbers tick.

    The islands are a go-to destination for visitors from the other regions of the province, making them a good place to look for insights into Quebec’s political psyche. There are worse venues to chat about politics than a beachside café!

    My last visit dated back to the first weeks of the 2015 federal election at a time when the NDP was still riding high in voting intentions. I had found plenty of anecdotal evidence to support the polling data but also clear indications that Thomas Mulcair’s chances rested too heavily for comfort on his capacity to sustain the perception that he was best placed to beat Stephen Harper.

    If there has been one constant over all those end-of-summer visits it has been a general willingness to spontaneously vent about the prime minister of the day. To varying degrees that was true of Chrétien, Paul Martin and Harper.

    On that score, this summer’s listening tour was unlike any of the previous ones for no one seemed inclined to vent about Justin Trudeau. Quebecers are not raving about the prime minister; nor are they ranting about him in the way they did about his three predecessors.

    An Abacus poll published in late July pegged support for Trudeau’s Liberals in Quebec at 53 per cent. That’s well above their election showing and almost 30 points ahead of the Conservatives, the Bloc Québécois and the NDP.

    The Liberals owe part of that popularity to the low Quebec profile of the opposition parties. The Bloc Québécois’ latest leader, Martine Ouellet, moonlights as a member of the National Assembly. Incoming Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is relatively unknown outside his party’s modest Quebec circles, and the ongoing NDP leadership campaign is very much taking place under the radar.

    The potential re-emergence of a Liberal juggernaut in Quebec in the 2109 election would in itself be cause for concern for the other parties. But even more worrisome from the opposition’s perspective is the fact that the main trend underlying the high Liberal score is not Quebec-specific.

    Like other Canadians, Quebecers have Donald Trump on their minds, and with the American president as a baseline Trudeau enjoys a huge comparative edge.

    While the Liberals have reset their governing agenda to deal with a changed U.S. reality, the Conservatives and the New Democrats have so far failed to find a footing in the new Canada-U.S. universe.

    Over a summer break dominated by Trump-related developments, both main opposition parties have fallen well short of offering an effective critique of the government’s approach, let alone a constructive alternative.

    Calling on Trudeau’s principal secretary Gerald Butts to publicly disown his reported friendship with then-Trump adviser Steve Bannon as Mulcair did last week only raises more questions as to how an NDP government would manage the relationship with an unpredictable White House. At last check, building bridges — not burning them — was part of the brief of senior PMO officials.

    Meanwhile the Conservatives whose flirt with dog-whistle identity politics pre-dates Trump’s victory are scrambling to belatedly put much-needed distance between their party and the fallout from a toxic presidency.

    While the opposition fiddles the Liberals have acquired a lot of political cover for their handling of the Canada/U.S. file. On the Conservative front, former federal minister James Moore and Rona Ambrose, the party’s recent interim leader, have both joined an advisory group that acts as a sounding board for the government on NAFTA.

    Canada’s two NDP premiers as well as senior members of the Canadian labour movement are also in the trade renegotiation loop.

    Despite the breaking of signature election promises ranging from the size of budget deficits to electoral reform, mounting acrimony on the Indigenous front, concerns over a sudden abundance of border-crossing asylum seekers and a cabinet team whose learning curve is proving to be steep, Trudeau — as his government nears mid-mandate — is in better shape in national voting intentions than Mulroney, Chrétien and Harper were at the same juncture. He can thank Trump for part of that.

    Chantal Hébert is a national affairs writer. Her column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

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    Ambushed judge fires back in courthouse shootout

    An Ohio judge was shot Monday morning outside his courthouse in an ambush attack that ended when the judge and a probation officer returned fire, killing the attacker, authorities said.

    Police said a man apparently waiting for Judge Joseph Bruzzese, who sits on the Jefferson County Court of Common Pleas, ran up to the judge and began shooting when he approached the courthouse. Bruzzese drew a gun and fired at least five rounds at the shooter, possibly hitting the attacker, Jefferson County Sheriff Fred J. Abdalla told reporters during emotional remarks Monday morning.

    “This individual laid in wait for our judge,” Abdalla said, tearing up during his remarks. “It just hurts. First thing on Monday morning, you have a judge shot in front of his courthouse . . . This was an ambush and an attempted murder on our judge.”

    The shooting occurred in Steubenville, Ohio, a place best known for a high-profile rape case involving high school football players. In a bizarre twist, the shooter was identified by authorities on Monday afternoon as Nathaniel Richmond, father of one of the two teenage boys found delinquent — or guilty — in 2013 as part of that rape case.

    Jane Hanlin, prosecutor for Jefferson County, identified Richmond as the shooter and said authorities do not believe there was any connection whatsoever between the shooting and Richmond’s son, Ma’lik.

    Bruzzese had “nothing at all to do with that particular case,” Hanlin said during an afternoon briefing, noting that it was handled by a judge from another area.

    However, Hanlin said authorities still did not know what might have motivated Monday’s shooting. She said Nathaniel Richmond did have a criminal history and was involved in a pending case, but it was unclear if that case had anything to do with the shooting.

    Bruzzese was taken into surgery, authorities said, and was in stable condition, according to the local news station WTOV9.

    Richmond was struck three times and killed on Monday. Since a probation officer as well as the judge fired rounds at him, Abdalla said it was not clear whether one of Bruzzese’s bullets hit Richmond, who had fired five rounds.

    During remarks to reporters Monday afternoon, Abdalla described Bruzzese as an avid hunter and sportsman. The sheriff said that years earlier, he had urged Bruzzese to carry a weapon with him for protection due to all of the “nutcases” around the country.

    “With all the nuts running around, I encouraged him to get a weapon,” Abdalla said. “And he did.”

    According to Abdalla, Richmond approached the courthouse early Monday morning in a car with another person before leaving and returning. When Richmond saw Bruzzese, Abdalla said, he “jumped out” of the car and ran over to begin shooting.

    The second person in the car is not considered an accomplice, Abdalla said, and told authorities that the shooter had only said he had to be in court Monday morning. This second person, who was not identified, did not get out of the car and was wounded by a possible bullet ricochet and taken to the hospital, the sheriff said.

    Abdalla said authorities have video of the shooting that they are working to have enhanced to show people what happened.

    “This man shoots a judge, could’ve killed him,” Abdalla said of Richmond.

    He added: “Thank God he’s not that good a shot.”

    Abdalla said authorities were investigating whether Richmond had any possible connections to the judge, saying only that the shooter had “been involved in different things in Steubenville.”

    Bruzzese’s work involves hearing criminal felonies as well as some civil cases, according to the court’s website.

    In a statement Monday, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said that the Steubenville Police Department asked the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation to investigate the shooting.

    DeWine said that the state agency assigned its special investigations, crime scene and cyber units to probe what happened.

    “Fran and I are praying for Judge Bruzzese and his family at this difficult time,” DeWine said.

    Rep. Bill Johnson, who represents Jefferson County, released a statement saying he was “very saddened and alarmed” by the shooting, noting that he had worked with Bruzzese, and he linked the incident to the attack on Republican members of Congress at a baseball practice in Virginia earlier this summer.

    “From the shootings at the congressional baseball practice, to today’s tragic shooting, public officials are increasingly under assault,” Johnson said. “Public service shouldn’t be a dangerous occupation, but it all too often is.”

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    Canada’s governor general designate, Julie Payette, has dropped her opposition to a group of major media outlets seeking access to recently sealed divorce records in a Maryland court.

    The media group, including the Toronto Star and CTV, went to court last month in the hope that the divorce records would shed light on Payette’s 2011 arrest on charges of assault against her then husband, Billie Flynn. The charges were withdrawn and those records, including a police report, were destroyed by court order, according to court officials.

    A Maryland judge recently ruled that the divorce records Payette had sealed in July when reporters started asking questions should be public. Payette appealed, pending a mid-November hearing. She takes up her post as governor general in early October.

    Read more:

    Future Governor General Julie Payette involved in fatal collision months before assault charge in Maryland

    Julie Payette controversy a lesson on power of digital memory: Delacourt

    Trust the public with full story on Julie Payette: Editorial

    On Monday afternoon, Payette issued a statement saying that she had decided to drop her appeal, paving the way for the court records to be released in the coming days.

    “Not wishing my family to revisit the difficult moments we have been through, it was my hope that our privacy would be preserved,” Payette wrote. “That is why I initially sought to keep our divorce proceedings under seal.”

    Read the full text of Julie Payette’s statement below

    Payette, in her statement, said it was out of concern for her son’s privacy that she initially wanted the records sealed.

    “In the past I have been blessed with opportunities few dream of,” said Payette, a former astronaut. “But of all the blessings I am grateful for, the most important blessing in my life is my son.”

    From the outset, the media group made it clear it was not interested in matters relating to the couple’s child.

    “The Star is seeking access to the court documents to determine if there is something in them of public interest in regards to Canada’s next governor general,” said Star editor Michael Cooke. “The Star has no interest in publishing private details of a child in this case. That was made very clear by the media’s lawyer in the hearing.”

    Payette said Monday that “for reasons of transparency and to leave no doubt,” she said she has agreed to drop her appeal.

    Other media outlets involved in the challenge include the Globe and Mail, CBC, iPolitics and the National Post.

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced in early July that Payette, a former Canadian astronaut, would be Canada’s next governor general, starting in October.

    The legal saga that has played out quietly in a Maryland courthouse for the past month began when political website iPolitics uncovered existence of Payette’s expunged assault charge by doing a routine search using an online record check service. Though official documents and transcripts were ordered destroyed by the court at Payette’s request in 2011, an electronic ghost of the charge remained. That sent the Star to Maryland looking for information that would shed light on the matter.

    The St. Mary’s County courthouse in Leonardtown, a small county seat, is an hour’s drive from where Payette and Flynn lived together for several years on the shore of a sprawling river. Chesapeake Bay is nearby. Flynn still lives there occasionally.

    Something happened on Nov. 24, 2011, that brought sheriff’s deputies to the house the couple purchased the previous year.

    Who called police and why has never been made public. Only Payette was charged. The sheriff’s department and state’s attorney say they are not allowed to discuss the case, since a court expunged the records at the request of Payette two weeks later, on Dec. 8, 2011.

    Her lawyer at the time, Dan Slade, told the Star that the charges had “absolutely no merit” but he would not provide details. The state’s attorney who agreed to the expungement order also would not discuss the matter.

    With Payette and Flynn not talking, the media group turned to the Maryland courts to see if divorce files contained any references to the expunged case.

    Payette went to court to have the divorce records sealed on an emergency basis on July 18, the day iPolitics broke the story.

    The media outlets joined together and hired a U.S. lawyer, arguing that given the importance of the role of governor general, the public should have access to records related to her past activities.

    In their challenge, the media group’s lawyer, Seth Berlin of Washington-based firm Levine Sullivan, said that in the United States under the First Amendment, and in Maryland under the Declaration of Rights, the “press and the public have a constitutional right to observe court proceedings and to access judicial records and documents.”

    When Payette filed for the sealing order, she stated in an affidavit that she wanted to protect the couple’s son, and herself. She stated that she has “reason to believe that (the media) may be trying to expose facts of this case to people in Canada in an attempt to publicly ridicule me and I believe these actions will cause irrevocable harm to not only myself but my son.”

    Judge David Densford of the Circuit Court for St. Mary’s County agreed with the media group, ruling that in Maryland court files are “presumed to be open to the public for inspection.” He ordered the files opened, pending appeal, except for specific sections that dealt with the couple’s son.

    A spokesperson for the Governor General’s Office told the Star that Payette was personally paying for the legal challenge.

    Payette’s former husband, Flynn, is a test pilot for Lockheed Martin and the F-35 jet. Previously, as a lieutenant-colonel in the Royal Canadian Air Force, he flew 25 combat missions over Kosovo and the former Republic of Yugoslavia. At the time of the 2011 incident, Payette had left the astronaut program and was in Washington at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The couple both travelled extensively. When they purchased the Maryland house in 2010, Flynn was out of town and he gave his power of attorney to Payette to effect the purchase, paying $616,000 (U.S.) for the remote, 4,000-square-foot house and property, records show.

    The Star earlier reported that a couple of months before the 2011 assault charge, Payette struck and killed a pedestrian while returning home from a trip. Police records show that after an extensive investigation, it was determined to be an accident, something the victim’s sister has told the Star she agrees with.

    Flynn and Payette’s marriage broke down over the next year and Flynn filed for separation in 2013. Payette followed up by filing for divorce and the case wound its way through court over the next two years. During this time, the case was public, including all testimony and documents. Ultimately, it was resolved, just before Payette was appointed governor general.

    Full text of Julie Payette’s statement to the media group:

    In the past, I have been blessed with opportunities few dream of. I have had the good fortune to work on exceptional science projects, to fly in international spaceships and to see our magnificent blue planet from orbit.

    But of all the blessings I am grateful for, the most important blessing in my life is my son.

    Given recent media interest regarding my private life, I wish to share the following thoughts.

    While I understand and appreciate the role of media in reporting on past events in the lives of Canadians in the public eye, as a mother, I need to be mindful of the impact on my family.

    Very few families are immune from difficult moments in life – mine included.

    Divorces are about fractured relationships and often, a sad parting of ways. This is particularly difficult when children are involved, thus the importance of protecting the ones we love and care about.

    Like many parents in the same situation, I have worked hard to put these difficult events behind me and move on with the best interest of my son in mind.

    Not wishing my family to revisit the difficult moments we have been through, it was my hope that our privacy would be preserved. That is why I initially sought to keep our divorce proceedings under seal in the US, consistent with the legal principles in the province of Quebec and in Canada that govern matrimonial and family matters.

    Though a Maryland court was currently considering an appeal to maintain our family’s privacy, for reasons of transparency and to leave no doubt, I have decided to voluntarily drop this appeal and release the divorce files. I trust Canadians and media will distinguish between matters of public interest and private life.

    As I move forward, it is my son I think of first. His relationship with both his parents is paramount and this is what I will continue to safeguard.

    I am deeply honoured to have been given the privilege of serving my country again and I look forward to contributing with all my energy and dedication to the advancement of a knowledge-based society that is open, tolerant, pragmatic and generous.

    Kevin Donovan can be reached at or 416-312-3503.

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    The Ontario Provincial Police have announced that their Criminal Investigation Branch will be investigating the death of Toronto teenager Jeremiah Perry in Algonquin Park last month.

    The 15-year-old boy, along with 14 of his fellow students, did not pass a required swimming test, but was still allowed to go on a school canoe trip to the provincial park. Perry went under the water during the trip on July 4 and his body was located the next day. His brother, Marion, was on the same trip.

    Perry was a student at C.W. Jefferys Collegiate, and the Toronto District School Board said on August 16 that it would be reviewing the rules for outdoor excursions in response to the tragedy.

    The OPP investigation is being conducted under Det. Insp. Peter Donnelly, but no other information about the investigation has been released.

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    Downsview Park is not so much a failure as it is a non-starter. It has achieved a degree of popularity but never entered the popular imagination. Though accessible it remains largely invisible.

    When the federal government launched an international design competition for Downsview Park back in 1999, hopes were high. And indeed, Canada's “first national urban park” became the object of global attention, attracting some of biggest names in landscape architecture from around the world.

    The winning entry, announced a year later, was submitted by an all-star team comprising Rem Koolhaas, Bruce Mau and Oleson Worland. Called Tree City, it envisioned a “matrix of circular tree clusters covering 25 per cent of the site . . . supplemented by meadows, playing fields and gardens.”

    It was soon forgotten and nearly two decades later, Downsview is still searching for its identity, unsure whether it's “Toronto's Central Park” (one of several in the city) or a leftover green space surrounded by suburban housing. The circular tree clusters never materialized, but there are large swaths of lawn, an orchard, a large pond as well as a repurposed industrial infrastructure and two subway stations. It offers everything from indoor soccer pitches and a squash club to flea markets and movie studios.

    Most recently, it acquired a new subdivision, Stanley Greene, which, though unfinished, is already home to hundreds of residents. Not only are many unhappy, so are some of their neighbours from the area. They feel betrayed because the park they expected is being turned into housing.

    Occupants of the homes tell stories of flooded basements, black mould, blocked pipes, garbage-strewn streets, wobbly railings, leaky walls and ceilings, warped floors, missed construction deadlines . . . But when some of the garages turned out to be too shallow to accommodate a car, the spit hit the fan.

    “Residents have been forced into car culture, but given no place to park their cars,” declares local Councillor Maria Augimeri. “Shoddy doesn't come close to describing the situation. There are hazard issues. My office has had more than 500 complaints. Some residents are living in hotels because the city won't sign off on a certificate of completion.”

    The builder, Mattamy Homes — five-time winner of the Home Builder of the Year Award — says it’s aware of the complaints about the garage doors and other things and is committed to addressing “both individual and community issues.” The company says it’s made significant progress in the past few months and is “looking forward to working co-operatively with the city” to find solutions.

    David Anselmi, real estate director at Canada Lands Corporation, the federal agency that owns Downsview, insists “the majority of the feedback we have received has been positive. People are pleased that more families, younger families, are coming into the neighbourhood to live and enjoy the Park. It’s bringing new life to the area.”

    Then there's the issue — more worrisome perhaps — of the planning of Stanley Greene. It comes right out of the suburban playbook. As Augimeri points out, “There's no butcher shop, no florist, no sense of community, no place to walk . . . ” Adding insult to injury, she says, not even the new subway station is within “walking distance.”

    In other words, nothing about Stanley Greene quite adds up. Though both the city and the Ontario Municipal Board are implicated, Ottawa bears ultimate responsibility for what's happened. The optimism of the original vision for Downsview has been overwhelmed by mismanagement and pressure to make the project pay for itself. Even more disturbing, Stanley Greene is only the first of five development residential schemes.

    Meanwhile, on Milford Ave., not far from the mud and mould of Stanley Greene, an amazing transformation has taken place. A couple of years ago, a restaurant/butcher called Speducci unexpectedly appeared. Though its semi-industrial suburban surroundings are dreary and instantly forgettable, on a recent weekday afternoon, the place was bursting with happy customers chowing down on some of the best Italian cuisine in Toronto.

    Clearly, Downsview deserves to be taken seriously. Clearly, its urban potential is enormous. So why is it being buried in citified sprawl? Who in the federal government, the Canada Lands Corporation, the OMB or Toronto didn't get the memo that Downsview is part of a city. A city! Not a subdivision in some generic suburb with a different area code.

    While on one hand we're spending billions constructing subways to this part of Toronto and beyond, we allow developers to build the sort of housing that comes right out of a discredited past. One can't help but wonder what's the point of it all. Perhaps there isn't one.

    Christopher Hume’s column appears weekly. He can be reached at

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    The Glen Abbey golf course in Oakville is now on the path to becoming a heritage site.

    Oakville’s town council voted unanimously Monday night to issue a notice of intention to designate the course, designed by legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus, as a heritage site.

    Last week, the town’s heritage committee voted unanimously to recommend designating the entire 229-acre (93-hectare) property under the Ontario Heritage Act.

    “If Glen Abbey isn’t heritage, what is?” asked Mayor Rob Burton, echoing the words of a delegate who supported the designation at the meeting.

    Of the 21 scheduled delegates who addressed the council on Monday, all but one offered anecdotes that expressed the importance of Glen Abbey to them and their support of the decision to designate the course.

    The sole dissenting voice came from Mark Flowers, a lawyer for ClubLink Corp., Glen Abbey’s owner.

    Read more:

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    GTA housing developers targeting golf courses

    Flowers said that a report by the town’s heritage committee was “overreaching” in what it considered heritage attributes, and called the move to designate Glen Abbey a “rushed process.”

    Flowers said supporting the designation was an “attempt by the town to frustrate ClubLink’s development proposal” — a statement that was booed by the audience that filled the town hall.

    A heritage designation could make it difficult to undertake major developments on the property.

    In 2015, ClubLink Corp. proposed a plan to build 3,222 residential units and 122,000 square feet of commercial space on the site, leaving 124 acres for public green space.

    Flowers also expressed concern that the designation would affect the club’s ability to host future Canadian Opens, of which it has held 29. It is slated to host next year’s tournament.

    Burton asked delegates to focus on the heritage designation and not the ClubLink proposal, but the company faced criticism throughout the meeting.

    “It’s the citizens of this town who want ClubLink to do the right thing,” a delegate named Janet said, to loud applause.

    The club owners can appeal council’s decision through the Conservation Review Board.

    Glen Abbey is one of Canada’s most famous golf courses, and the site of Tiger Woods’ dramatic 18th-hole shot from a bunker to win the Canadian Open in 2000.

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    SASKATOON—An Indigenous woman says a dance performed by a Ukrainian group is “cultural appropriation” and “offensive.”

    Janelle Pewapsconias recorded a video of the performance Saturday night at Folkfest in Saskatoon and posted it on her Facebook page.

    It shows Ukrainian dancers, some wearing headdresses, performing a routine which includes parts similar to powwow dancing.

    The Pavlychenko Folklorique Ensemble said in a statement the piece, called “Canadian Kaleidoscope,” has been performed internationally and in Saskatoon since 2003.

    The dance group said the performance was meant to promote inclusivity, not disrespect Indigenous culture.

    But Pewapsconias says she’s offended because Indigenous dancers weren’t used and what the dancers wore was inappropriate.

    “In the city with one of the highest populations of Indigenous people, why weren’t our dancers being used?” she said. “How could their outfits look like that? I am confused as to why this still happens.”

    The Pavlychenko dance group said the piece “was created with gratitude, love, and respect to all of the cultures that make Canada so wonderfully diverse.

    “This montage has been performed locally, provincially, nationally, and internationally, and has been well received. The sequence of the cultural segments was taken into careful consideration. Knowing the Indigenous peoples were the first inhabitants of Canada, they are the first to be honoured within the piece.”

    Pewapsconias wants groups to do more consultation Indigenous people.

    “I don’t say this to offend or be offensive, but it is not up to white people to decide for us how we can be honoured,” she said.

    The dance group’s artistic director, Serhij Koroliuk, is in Ukraine until Friday but the statement said he will speak with reporters and elders when he returns to Saskatoon to create a more open dialogue.

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    OTTAWA—As the surge of migrants pouring into Quebec hit 4,500 people — mostly Haitians — in the first three weeks of August, the federal government scrambled Monday to stem the tide with a sterner message to would-be asylum seekers and to accommodate hundreds more in the nearby Ontario border town of Cornwall.

    The office of Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale acknowledged the RCMP had intercepted and arrested 4,500 irregular border crossers in Quebec so far this month — on top of 3,000 that crossed in July. They are mostly Haitian and found eligible to file a refugee claim.

    On Monday evening, Cornwall city councillors held a special meeting to demand answers of federal, provincial and municipal officials, saying citizens are worried about the impact of all the new arrivals, while many others want to help.

    At the Nav Centre conference and hotel facility now hosting 300 people — all Haitian families — is full, and manager Kim Coe-Turner said that with upcoming conferences it cannot accommodate more immediately.

    So the Canadian Forces are setting up a tent city on the Nav Centre grounds that will be an “interim lodging site” for up to 500 Haitians asylum seekers who will be directed there by border services authorities at Lacolle, Que., because Montreal’s shelters and services are overwhelmed, said Cornwall’s emergency management coordinator Bradley Nuttley.

    Nuttley assured councillors that the families can be well accommodated in tents with plywood flooring, electricity and heating, while nearby residents’ concerns will be met by low-noise electrical generators, and privacy fences up to 12 feet high to be erected on three sides. In part, he said, that’s to protect children — over 40 per cent of the refugee claimants now there are children under 7 — from “noxious weeds” on nearby land.

    Mayor Leslie O’Shaughnessy complained there is no lead federal agency to answer council’s or the public’s enquiries and that information “was changing by the hour.” He pressed federal officials to hold a public information meeting because “it is a federal project.”

    “Whoever the lead is, hopefully they’ll get the bills,” Councillor André Rivette said. He asked if Ottawa planned to set up a field hospital so that local residents wouldn’t find themselves waiting for health services.

    Stressing that no declaration of emergency had been issued because there are enough resources to meet the needs, Nuttley said almost all newcomers were quite healthy. There’d even been one birth of a “new Canadian citizen,” and a few more pregnant women are at the centre, he said, though officials see no need for anything more than a temporary clinic on the Nav Centre grounds.

    “I’ve not been requested to provide any services in this emergency – ‘er this event, sorry, a little Freudian slip there,” said Nuttley.

    Still, Louis Dumas, a senior federal immigration official, acknowledged “the current situation is a difficult one, we are seeing a spike” at Lacolle, Que. Refugee claimants are “entitled to due process” and the federal government’s goal “is to process people quickly,” he said.

    The hope is refugee claimants will within a week complete their applications and submit them for an assessment at a joint federal-provincial processing centre also set up at Cornwall’s Nav Centre before their claims are sent to the Immigration and Refugee Board for adjudication.

    But once their claims are submitted, the migrants are free to leave and most are expected to head back to Montreal where a large Haitian diaspora lives. Dumas said about 10 per cent will likely head elsewhere in Canada, mostly in Ontario.

    Haitians are flooding across the border because the United States administration under President Donald Trump has indicated it will revoke a temporary protected status for Haitians, issued after the 2010 earthquake, starting in January.

    Dumas said Haitians should not expect Canada will automatically allow permanent entry. He noted that last year, the independent IRB turned down 50 per cent of asylum claims by Haitians, who were then ordered deported back to Haiti.

    Earlier Monday Immigration Minister Ahmad Hussen and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale went before cameras at Lacolle earlier to say there is “no fast track” to refugee status for those who cross illegally and to warn against “border-hopping.”

    “Trying to cross the border in an irregular fashion is not a free ticket to Canada,” Goodale said, sounding a frustrated note. “We have been making this point over and over and over again since last January and February when the, the circumstances began.”

    That line is to be echoed by Haitian-Canadian MP Emmanuel Dubourg who Canadian Press reports is being dispatched to Florida to do Creole-language interviews and meet community leaders among Miami's Haitian diaspora and to speak to a slew of influential media outlets.

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    Sign of the times:

    Journalists get a heads up that the premier will address her MPPs at a normally closed caucus meeting the next day. Immediately, reflexively, every editor in town assumes it’s a resignation story, sending reporters into a feeding frenzy.

    Proof, as ever, that people don’t pay attention to Queen’s Park.

    Despite endless speculation from the opposition Progressive Conservatives that Kathleen Wynne would soon quit as premier — forced out by dismal ratings — it turns out that rumours of her death spiral are political spin. She is rising from the political dead at the very time that Ontario’s Tories are losing altitude.

    Any death watch has a magical effect on the media, who love a moribund politician when they see one. A phalanx of cameras tracked Wynne on her supposed death march from the premier’s office to the government caucus room (112 steps according to my fitness tracker, though I counted it out for good measure) where Liberal loyalists awaited word on their collective future.

    Now, with a provincial election campaign less than nine months away, time for an update: Wynne isn’t abandoning ship because, suddenly, it’s not necessarily sinking.

    As photographers rushed into position to record her exit strategy, she offered a recovery strategy. Instead of a departure speech, a pep talk.

    Not the end of the road but the beginning of the campaign trail as she tries out the beginnings of a stump speech. Leaving journalists without a news story — nothing to see here.

    But we may all be missing the story.

    Conventional wisdom long ago anointed the little-known Patrick Brown as premier-in-waiting. He came from out of nowhere — years of backbench obscurity in Stephen Harper’s Conservative government — to capture the provincial leadership in 2015.

    Today he remains a political unknown, because voters have no idea what his ideas are. With Brown vacillating on public policy, he is oscillating in public opinion polls.

    It’s not that Wynne is invincible, he’s just invisible.

    Groggily and angrily, voters are awakening and focusing — slowly. By all accounts this will be a change election, but the electorate has already shown a remarkable propensity to change its mind.

    What did Wynne have on her mind as she walked in, wired with a clip-on mic, speaking without notes for a heart-to-heart with a nervous caucus? If it is to be a change election, then the premier will reposition herself as a change agent.

    Changing economic times and financial uncertainty? Change is coming, and the government will grapple with it, she argued:

    A $15 minimum wage. Free pharmacare up to age 25. Free tuition for many college kids. Smoothing out hydro rates. All of which are proving remarkably popular in recent polls.

    Behind the pep talk was policy talk, and a promise to drive yet more change: “We can’t pretend that either we’re there, or when we finish implementing this plan we’ll be there. There is more to do.”

    By contrast, the Tories are just politicians clinging to the past, who “think that if we could just go back, if we could just go back to the way it was...”

    It’s an attempt to get out in front of the change train without being run over by it. And a recognition that her unprecedented unpopularity need not be politically fatal if the campaign can be framed as a contest of policies, not personalities.

    Monthly polling by Campaign Research shows that two thirds of Ontarians believe the government should be changed. Even voters who think the government has done a good job are yearning for a change in power.

    But in politics, as in life, the only certainty is uncertainty. Earlier polling by Campaign Research showed Brown’s Tories with a commanding 50 per cent share of the vote last January, with the Liberals languishing at 28 per cent and the NDP at 15 per cent.

    By May, Wynne’s Liberals had recovered the lead with 37 per cent, as the Tories tumbled to 34 per cent and the NDP recovered to 22. A summer sounding in July found the PCs at 38 per cent and the Liberals at 30, with the NDP parked at 24.

    Given the 3 to 4 per cent margin of error in their polling, that suggests a statistical tie between Liberals and Tories for the moment. All of which tells the tale of why there was no resignation story this month.

    Wynne personal ratings are irredeemable yet irrelevant. It matters little that NDP Leader Andrea Horwath enjoys the highest personal support, given that her party attracts the least votes. As for Brown, he can no longer depend on anonymity for popularity.

    Which is why, when journalists watched Wynne walk into that caucus meeting the other day, they didn’t get a resignation story. Instead of walking away from the next election, the premier isn’t going anywhere just yet.

    Martin Regg Cohn’s political column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. , Twitter: @reggcohn

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    Pat Arato and Rose Devlin sip tea from china cups and contemplate their common interests in the cosy living room of Arato’s century-old home.

    “We both like watching documentaries,” Devlin, 63, says. “When we get Netflix, we’ll be crazy!”

    “Rose likes cooking and I like eating,” Arato, 78, offers.

    The ease of the women’s banter suggests they’ve been friends for years, though they just met recently. The two long-time residents of Cobourg, a town of 18,500 people about an hour and a half east of Toronto, were matched through a Northumberland County HomeShare project. The program strives to allow seniors to stay in their homes by matching them with a person who needs housing and is willing to help with household tasks in return for reduced rent. Companionship is another benefit.

    The Northumberland two-year pilot program is a joint effort of Cornerstone Family Violence Prevention Centre, The Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit and Northumberland County and is geared only to women. Halton Region also has launched a HomeShare program, open to both men and women, through Halton Housing Help, a service that connects people to housing supports. The Burlington Age-Friendly Council initiated the idea and works with the region to promote it. The program will serve Burlington, Halton Hills, Milton and Oakville and the first match is pending, with the goal to make 10 matches within a year. Northumberland hopes to make 10 matches in two years.

    Read more:

    Toronto’s seniors are at high risk of ending up homeless, report finds

    Devlin, 63, had been living with her son and his family in a rental house. But when they moved to a smaller house, there was no room for Devlin and her search for an affordable apartment proved futile. (The vacancy rate in Northumberland is 0.5 per cent and average rent for a one-bedroom suite is $900, plus utilities. Approximately 20 per cent of the county’s population is 65 years or older).

    Devlin, who is diabetic, heard about HomeShare from her nurse. Arato’s adult children were concerned about their 78-year-old mother living alone and urged her to try a six-month trial at a retirement home. It wasn’t to her liking and she yearned to be back in her own house.

    Arato founded the Aphasia Institute in Toronto, a centre that provides support for people affected by aphasia (loss of language) as a result of a stroke/brain injury after her estranged husband was affected. She moved to Cobourg 20 years ago. Devlin has lived in the area for 40 years and worked as a word press operator and typesetter. The women, both divorced and with two grandchildren each, were matched by HomeShare co-ordinator Taylor Collicott after a five-step screening and application process.

    “Cobourg and Port Hope are experiencing a housing crisis because of the low vacancy rate and with the cost of rents, there are people who can’t afford to live in the community,” Collicott says. Senior women lack affordable quality housing, she says.

    “I really liked the idea of having someone in the house for safety and companionship,” Arato says. “The program fit my needs. My family was very concerned about me being alone. I had to find a way to make them feel comfortable,” she says.

    “The most important thing for me was to be somewhere safe and be matched with someone who is easy to get along with,” says Devlin, who will pay Arato $400 a month in rent.

    HomeShare programs have been running successfully in other parts of Canada and around the world. Both Northumberland and Halton have taken cues from a successful 35-year program in Vermont as they both look to match people with common routines, lifestyles and expectations. They also provide followup monitoring and support. While Northumberland’s program is a two-year pilot, Halton’s is a long-term initiative.

    “Long-term care facilities used to be the go-to solution for seniors,” says Daryl Kaytor of Halton Region Housing Services. However, long wait lists and high cost mean they are no longer accessible to most Canadians.

    “Barring having new development — and there’s nowhere left to build in this area — we need to be creative to keep seniors in their homes,” Kaytor says.

    “Housing (for seniors) is a huge issue, not only in our community but across Canada and globally,” says Heather Thompson, co-chair of the housing committee of the Burlington Age Friendly Council and manager of Age-Friendly Initiatives, Community Development Halton.

    In Burlington, 19.3 per cent of the population is older adults. Many still live in their homes and want to stay there. Thompson says most homeowners expressing interest in the program are older women living alone, along with some senior couples who want to stay in their home but need some assistance to do so. Home seekers have included a young couple who want to help an older person and save money for their own future home and some single men with handymen skills. Most interest is from women in their 50s or 60s who still have to work and may be widowed or separated and still feel they can do a lot and want to give back.

    Collicott says in Northumberland, most home seekers are mature women.

    Devlin and Arato moved in together in late June and are adjusting to life as roommates. As Arato had been away for six months at the retirement home, they have some organizing to do and will work on the backyard gardens. Arato is also planning to get a cat.

    “We fit pretty well and haven’t had a fight so far,” Arato says. “There’s a comfort level.”

    “I’ll help Pat with whatever she needs and we will look out for each and make sure we take our medications,” Devlin says. “Pat wanted someone to be around in the evening and overnight, and I’m home a lot at night. We have similar bedtimes and we’re both flexible and adaptable.”

    While the women will spend a lot of time in each other’s company, they maintain their own circles of friends and much of the lives they had before. For example, Devlin will continue to care for her grandchildren on Mondays.

    Each HomeShare agreement is unique, with the participants working out the terms, such as splitting grocery costs, preparing and eating meals together, what tasks the home sharer will do around the house and how many hours of help the homeowner will receive.

    The Burlington Age-Friendly Council has created a HomeShare Toolkit for people to work through to determine if it’s the right fit for them.

    “It’s good for many, but it’s not for everyone,” Thompson says. “It’s nice for people to have different options to think about.”

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    Joss Whedon, the writer and producer who brought us the 90’s television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer is under fire for allegedly failing to uphold the feminism in his personal life that is a staple in his work. Whedon isn’t purported to have sexually harassed or assaulted anyone, nor is he being accused of underpaying female stars — claims that, if true, would understandably disqualify him as a feminist (however, some fans are convinced he had an actress written off the 2000s show Angel when she became pregnant).

    Related: My wife has cheated on me four times: Ellie

    No. Strangely enough, the writer’s outspoken support of gender equality and his commitment to writing strong female leads is being called into question because he may be a serial adulterer. According to Whedon’s ex-wife and longtime collaborator, Kai Cole, writing in a now viral blog post published on the entertainment site the Wrap this weekend, Cole’s 16-year marriage to Whedon was rife with cheating. Cole claims that unbeknownst to her, Whedon slept with friends, co-workers, fans and actresses while the couple was married. And now she wants the world to know.

    In Cole’s own words: “I want the people who worship him to know he is human, and the organizations giving him awards for his feminist work, to think twice in the future about honouring a man who does not practice what he preaches … When he walked out of our marriage, and was trying to make ‘things seem less bewildering’ to help me understand how he could have lied to me for so long, he said, ‘In many ways I was the HEIGHT of normal, in this culture. We’re taught to be providers and companions and at the same time, to conquer and acquire — specifically sexually — and I was pulling off both!’ ”

    Since Cole’s post went viral, a major Joss Whedon fan site has announced it will stop publishing content and numerous feminist writers and activists have denounced Whedon online as a hypocrite and pretender; a typical “nice guy abuser.” As one Twitter user put it, Whedon’s alleged poor treatment of his ex-wife is “proof that ‘male feminists’ are just tools looking to use the nice guy card to abuse women.”

    I don’t really want to go to bat for a guy who may have cheated on his wife more times than the Hellmouth opened up in Sunnydale (Buffy reference), but I think the backlash here is more than a little overblown. Don’t get me wrong: the nice guy abuser is not a thing of legend. He’s real. Jian Ghomeshi is the textbook example of this. But Joss Whedon as adulterer doesn’t fit the bill.

    That Whedon may have attempted to pin the blame for his infidelity not on his own personal failings as a human being but rather on “this culture” is proof he’s a master bull-----er and a lousy husband. But I don’t think it’s proof that his feminism is BS, nor that he is a hypocrite for supporting women’s causes and publicly denouncing sexism. Unless of course, we’ve officially entered territory where fidelity is a prerequisite to being a feminist — in which case a lot of feminists, men and women both, are screwed.

    What’s shocking about this incident is not so much that a wronged spouse is dissing an unfaithful one in the press, but that so many otherwise serious feminists are taking Cole’s bait and piling on Whedon as though his alleged screwing around is tantamount to abuse. With the massive amount of energy some have expended denouncing Whedon as a misogynist online, you’d think the guy was Director of the United Nations Development Fund for Women. But Whedon is a writer for heaven sakes. What did anyone honestly expect? A healthy, well-adjusted person? It’s ludicrous to demand that artists and writers occupy the same moral high ground as religious leaders and politicians. But it’s also ludicrous to treat adultery, even when committed by a powerful man, as a sin up there with abuse or harassment. To do so not only robs the women with whom Whedon allegedly slept — even the young impressionable actresses — agency to make their own choices. It implies that in order to be a feminist, you must never hurt the feelings of the woman you are married to. Because that’s what adultery amounts to: hurt feelings and, potentially, broken families. These are bad things, but the source of them is not always bad people. It is possible to strive for a better world even though your relationship with your spouse is a mess.

    No wonder so many people — across the gender spectrum — are reluctant to take up the feminist label. Moral purity is a tall order.

    Emma Teitel is a national affairs columnist.

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    Once again, Barron Trump has become the target of online criticism. And once again, political figures, celebrities and others on social media are standing up for the 11-year-old, imploring the media to keep the youngest Trump out of the negative limelight.

    On Monday night, conservative news outlet the Daily Caller published a story attacking Barron for the T-shirt and shorts he wore while boarding Air Force One on Sunday. The headline read, “It’s High Time Barron Trump Starts Dressing Like He’s In the White House.”

    Read the latest news on U.S. President Donald Trump

    In a barrage of angry tweets, many described the story as “mean spirited,” “shameful,” intrusive and irrelevant. The reactions shared a common understanding that the president’s children are supposed to be off-limits.

    Read more: ‘Don’t look!’ yells White House staffer as Trump looks at solar eclipse without glasses

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    And former first daughter Chelsea Clinton, who has previously come to Barron’s defense, weighed in with a tweet: “It’s high time the media & everyone leave Barron Trump alone & let him have the private childhood he deserves.”

    In Monday’s Daily Caller story, entertainment reporter Ford Springer wrote that “while the president and first lady travelled in their Sunday best, young Barron looked like he was hopping on Air Force One for a trip to the movie theatre.”

    As U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump departed from Morristown, New Jersey, to Washington on Sunday, Barron joined them wearing khaki shorts, loafers and a bright red T-shirt with the words, “On your mark tiger shark.”

    “What am I missing here? Is Barron just better than I ever was at rebelling against my parents?” Springer wrote. “His dad is always looking dapper and his mom has become a worldwide fashion icon since becoming first lady. The youngest Trump doesn’t have any responsibilities as the president’s son, but the least he could do is dress the part when he steps out in public.”

    It wasn’t the first time Chelsea Clinton has come to Barron’s defense in light of insensitive media attention about him. In January, a slew of unflattering jokes circulated on social media about the boy’s appearance at his father’s inauguration ceremony. “Saturday Night Live” writer Katie Rich was suspended indefinitely after a tweet she posted about Barron received angry backlash and calls for her firing.

    In response to the earlier attacks against Barron, Clinton wrote a Facebook post that was praised and shared widely:

    “Barron Trump deserves the chance every child does — to be a kid,” Clinton wrote. “Standing up for every kid also means opposing POTUS policies that hurt kids.”

    On Monday afternoon and evening, Twitter users questioned why the Daily Caller writer, and the public, should care about “what an 11-year-old boy wears,” as journalist Yashar Ali tweeted. “How is it your business?” he added.

    “Poor Barron,” tweeted comedian Chelsea Handler.

    Some complimented the first son’s outfit: “Barron was rockin a good look today,” tweeted Jesse Lee, who served as a special assistant under former president Obama.

    And others tracked down Barron’s shirt, apparently a $24.50 boy’s T-shirt from J. Crew. A similar shirt in lime green on J. Crew’s website included a note: “We’re sorry. This item has been so popular, it has sold out.”

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    Cheryl Hookimaw didn’t want to file a complaint. But after experiencing what she alleges was harassment and abusive behaviour from a veteran Ontario Provincial Police sergeant working in her isolated James Bay community, she decided she’d had enough.

    In 2014, Hookimaw turned to the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD), Ontario’s police watchdog, filing a formal complaint against an officer she knew she’d still see all over Moosonee, her largely Cree community policed by the OPP.

    “I thought it was the right thing to do,” Hookimaw told the Star in an email. “I thought my family would be protected.”

    The resulting investigation by the OPP’s professional standards bureau alleges Sgt. Randy Cota engaged in “numerous inappropriate behaviours” involving Hookimaw and her husband, each of which constituted misconduct, according to the police investigative report into Hookimaw’s complaint.

    That included allegations the officer threatened Hookimaw, made disparaging comments about her “of a sexual nature,” obtained her personal information in a police database, and was “less than forthright” with investigators probing the complaint, among other allegations contained in Cota’s notice of hearing, a police document outlining his alleged misconduct.

    In January 2015, Cota was charged with one count of corrupt practice under Ontario’s Police Services Act, a charge laid when an officer is accused of improperly using his character or influence as a police officer for private advantage. The allegations have not been tested at a tribunal.

    Indeed, three years after filing the complaint, Cota’s misconduct hearing has been repeatedly delayed with little explanation, according to Hookimaw and her lawyer, Cara Valiquette.

    Staff Sgt. Carolle Dionne, a spokesperson for the OPP, confirmed to the Star that Cota’s next hearing date is in November. Asked why the hearing has been delayed, Dionne said Cota has been on an approved paid absence and the hearing cannot proceed as a result.

    “The hearing will take place if Sgt. Cota returns from his approved absence. If not, it may be deferred to a later date,” she said in an email.

    Dionne could not say why Cota is on approved absence.

    Meanwhile Hookimaw and her husband Xavier Hookimaw see Cota “all the time” in the community and claim his behaviour has continued while the misconduct case moves at a sluggish pace.

    Alleging ongoing harassment, intimidation and abusive conduct, late last year the Hookimaws filed a $1.5 million lawsuit against the OPP and Cota. Among the lawsuit’s claims is that Cota had been driving slowly past their residence and workplace and staring at them and that, in late 2015, a close friend of Cota’s went to the Hookimaws’ home and asked them to drop the OIPRD complaint.

    Valiquette says her clients feel their formal complaint has “only caused more damages in terms of increased stress and pain.”

    Both Cota and the Crown — which is responsible for the conduct of OPP officers, and is being sued by the Hookimaws alongside Cota — have filed separate statements of defence denying the allegations.

    In emails to the Star, Norman Groot, Cota’s lawyer, said his client has both a “substantive and procedural defence,” including that too much time has passed since some of the alleged conduct for it to be heard in court.

    “I understand that the officer is a native Canadian himself, has served the OPP and the citizens of Ontario well for many years, has worked in undercover capacity for a while, which also caused stress to his personal life,” Groot said in an email, adding he did not know why the disciplinary process has “not progressed quicker than it has.”

    Cota’s detailed statement of defence, filed in court in July, specifically denied inflicting emotional suffering, misconduct and harassment, including the allegations he’d been driving slowly past the Hookimaw’s residence and staring.

    “In fact, there were incidents in which Mr. Hookimaw behaved in a threatening and harassing way towards Cota,” it reads.

    The legal battle comes months after Ontario Court of Appeal Justice Michael Tulloch highlighted the problems with the public complaint process specific to Indigenous communities in his review of police oversight in the province.

    In a chapter dedicated to Indigenous communities and police oversight, Tulloch summarized his findings from public consultations, saying many Indigenous people “felt targeted by law enforcement and subjected to negative stereotypes.”

    Few Indigenous peoples knew they could file a complaint with the OIPRD, Tulloch said — and those who did told him they feared retribution if they took that step.

    “This concern was particularly acute for First Nations communities served by the OPP,” Tulloch wrote. “Members of these communities told me that if they raised their concerns about the OPP, then their communities may suffer.”

    Rosemary Parker, spokesperson for the OIPRD, said in an email that in the Hookimaw case, the complaint process was expedient, the investigation completed by the OPP’s professional standards bureau “well within the target of 120 days,” despite legislation allowing for six months.

    Parker noted that the OIPRD is not responsible for disciplinary hearings. Under Ontario’s Police Act, hearings are the purview of the police chief or the OPP commissioner.

    Parker added the OIPRD recognizes that complainants may fear retribution from police for making a complaint and that special provisions under the watchdog’s legislation make it punishable, by fine or jail time, to harass, coerce or intimidate someone in connection to a complaint.

    According to Cheryl Hookimaw’s lawsuit, the dispute stems from Cota’s failed attempts to initiate a romantic relationship after they first met at a children’s Halloween party in 2012, while Cheryl was an employee of Child and Family Services. After their meeting, Cota began contacting her by phone and email, telling her he had found her information by searching her name in his police system, according to her statement of claim.

    Cota’s notice of hearing alleges the officer conducted a query “unrelated” to his duties on November 1, 2012. Cota’s response to the lawsuit, however, claims he did not do the search to obtain personal information but to make inquiries into a complaint she’d made about a previous interaction with another OPP officer.

    The Hookimaws’ lawsuit alleges that after their meeting, Cota spent the next year trying to have a relationship and gave Cheryl Hookimaw numerous gifts, including $2,000 cash. In 2014, when she began dating Xavier, Cota — who was then on an extended absence from the OPP — told her he disapproved and would “go after” Xavier when he was back on duty, according to the Hookimaws’ claim.

    Tensions peaked in July, 2014 when Cota became involved in an assault investigation stemming from a party attended by Cheryl and Xavier Hookimaw. According to the Hookimaws’ lawsuit, neither Cheryl nor Xavier were involved in the assault, but the incident set off a series of alarming actions by Cota, including “intimidating and threatening witnesses” in an attempt to pressure them into incriminating Xavier Hookimaw in the assault.

    The Hookimaw lawsuit also alleges Cota came to their residence and, “shouting and swearing,” demanded Cheryl Hookimaw give back the gifts he’d provided to her or he would remove Xavier Hookimaw from their house. He also demanded to know details of an “alleged sexual interaction” she had with a witness at the house party, according to the lawsuit.

    The OPP’s notice of hearing alleges a series of misconduct in connection to the fallout from the assault, including: failing to declare a conflict of interest when working on the investigation; “unnecessarily” taking over the investigation from a colleague; misleading a senior officer about the nature of the investigation; threatening to charge a witness if he did not provide information that Xavier Hookimaw had committed a criminal offence; and making inaccurate and/or misleading notes about an interaction with Xavier Hookimaw.

    In his statement of defence, Cota denies the Hookimaw’s allegations of misconduct in connection to the assault investigation. Specifically, he denies conducting the investigation “in an attempt to target Mr. Hookimaw as a suspect, or that he used the threat of charging Mr. Hookimaw in an attempt to extort property from Mrs. Hookimaw.”

    The statement of defence also says Cota and Cheryl Hookimaw had developed a friendship, which included frequent emails from Cheryl to his work address, and that the gifts she alleges he gave her were in fact loans. That included the $2,000, which he says was to help her pay for a lawyer in “a legal matter before the Courts,” according to his statement of defence.

    The officer also denies the allegations of ongoing harassment since he has been charged with misconduct. Instead, he alleges he was over at a friend’s house when Xavier Hookimaw “aggressively” drove his truck toward him, skidded to a stop, then yelled obscenities at him, and demanding that Cota “stop looking” at him all over town.

    Cota’s statement of defence also alleges a second incident of harassment by Xavier Hookimaw, saying that while he was standing on the street corner in conversation with another man, Xavier Hookimaw drove up to him and began yelling insults.

    “Mr. Hookimaw demanded that Cota ‘leave them alone,’ and that he ‘stop looking’ at them,” reads the statement of defence.

    Tulloch’s wide ranging report on police oversight makes 129 recommendations, some of which are geared toward improving police oversight in Indigenous communities. Among them are recommendations that Ontario’s police oversight bodies develop and deliver, in partnership with Indigenous communities, mandatory Indigenous cultural competency training for staff.

    Following the release of Tulloch’s report, Attorney General Yasir Naqvi committed to working with police oversight bodies to “increase cultural competency through staff training and targeted recruitment, including Indigenous cultural competence.”

    In a news conference at Queen’s Park last week, Caitlyn Kasper, lawyer with Aboriginal Legal Services, urged the Ontario government and its police watchdogs to form “meaningful and equitable partnerships with Indigenous people, communities and organizations.

    “Then the development of social and cultural competency training can occur,” she said.

    Tulloch’s report also states that for the police complaint system to be effective and accountable, the process complaints must be “resolved in a transparent, timely, and fair manner.”

    Had the complaint process in this case been expedient and transparent, the Hookimaws may not have sued, said Valiquette, their lawyer. Instead, the system “failed the clients and the tax paying public.”

    Wendy Gillis can be reached at

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    The TTC agreed to let Bombardier ship unfinished streetcars to Toronto and complete them on the transit agency’s property in order to successfully meet 2016 delivery targets, the Star has learned.

    The Quebec-based rail manufacturer has famously struggled to fill the $1-billion, 204-vehicle order for the TTC’s new streetcar fleet. Under the schedule, the company was to have delivered more than 100 cars by end of last year, but as of this week the TTC has just 41in service.

    There was a welcome spot of positive news just before last Christmas however when, with 10 days to spare, Bombardier announced that it had made good on a revised target it had set earlier that year: delivering the 30th streetcar by the end of 2016.

    “Bombardier meets its 2016 delivery commitment to the TTC,” the company trumpeted in a Dec. 21 press release, which was accompanied by a photo of smiling Bombardier workers holding a “Just arrived!” sign in front of the vehicle at the TTC’s Hillcrest Complex on Bathurst St.

    There was a catch, however — the streetcar wasn’t fully finished. In fact, all four of the cars that Bombardier delivered last December were not complete when they arrived on TTC property.

    Minutes of meetings between the TTC and Bombardier that the Star obtained through an access to information request reveal that in order to meet the 2016 target, the TTC agreed to deviate from the detailed vehicle acceptance process spelled out in the streetcar contract.

    In subsequent interviews, the TTC confirmed that the company shipped four mostly finished cars to Toronto, and then Bombardier workers completed them at the TTC’s Leslie Barns streetcar maintenance and storage facility.

    The gambit paid off — Bombardier finished all four cars in Toronto and they went into service before the New Year as planned.

    But the deviation from the normal process reveals the extent to which Bombardier had to improvise to meet the year-end target, and the concessions the TTC agreed to in order to make it happen.

    Both Bombardier and the TTC maintain the strategy was necessary in order to get the new streetcars delivered as soon as possible, and that the outcome benefitted the city’s transit users.

    Bombardier spokesperson Marc-André Lefebvre called it a “positive story.”

    “This is work that we are very proud of … The 2016 deliveries are a great example of the positive outcome of the turnaround plan we introduced last year, which has effectively made it that Bombardier has met every single quarterly delivery commitment in the past 12 months,” he said.

    TTC CEO Andy Byford said that he was willing to be “flexible” with the delivery process as long as it didn’t mean compromising on safety or vehicle quality. He said the TTC’s only motivation was getting the streetcars quickly, not helping Bombardier protect its reputation.

    “I’m not out to do Bombardier favours. But I am out to get the best possible outcome for my customer,” Byford said.

    “This isn’t being nice to Bombardier, it’s doing the right thing by the people that ride our service.”

    Lefebvre said that Bombardier came up with the plan near the end of 2016 after it identified “potential bottlenecks in rail shipments availability” that could have delayed delivery of the cars, which are shipped to Toronto from Bombardier’s plant in Thunder Bay by the Canadian Pacific Railway.

    He described the work that was completed in Toronto as “very minor esthetic items” like interior panels that required adjustments and paint touch-ups. The TTC said that outstanding work included “final assembly of panelling and interior components.”

    TTC spokesperson Stuart Green told the Star that if the transit agency hadn’t agreed to deviate from the normal process, “it is most likely that Bombardier would not have been able to deliver these four cars by year end.”

    Lefebvre declined to speculate on whether the company would have met the 2016 target if the TTC hadn’t agreed to modify the acceptance plan.

    The streetcar contract, which the TTC and Bombardier signed in 2009, spells out in detail the process by which each $5-million vehicle is supposed to change hands.

    Following Bombardier’s “completion of the manufacture and assembly” of each car, the vehicle is to undergo pre-delivery tests and an “in-plant inspection.”

    If it passes, the TTC’s engineer issues a preliminary acceptance certificate (PAC) “verifying the date on which the (streetcar) has been so completed … and is ready for delivery” to Hillcrest.

    Upon delivery, the car undergoes additional trials, including a 600-km “burn-in” test run. Only after those tests are complete does the TTC engineer issue a final acceptance certificate (FAC) that means the transit agency has taken ownership of the vehicle.

    Under the modified delivery process, the TTC agreed that the four cars would be shipped to Toronto without the agency first verifying they were complete, and would undergo both the PAC and FAC processes here.

    The TTC spokesperson said that the four cars were subjected to the “same rigorous final approval testing” as all other vehicles, and that there was no cost to the transit agency.

    The documents the Star obtained are minutes of meetings that TTC and Bombardier hold each month about the streetcar order. The minutes from the end of 2016 indicate that TTC officials were not fully convinced the plan would work.

    At a November meeting, a TTC official told Bombardier that the transit agency couldn’t guarantee the acceptance process could be carried out in Toronto in time because with just six weeks before the year’s end, the company had yet to provide a detailed delivery schedule. The TTC needed one to ensure it had enough operators, inspectors, and maintenance workers on hand to conduct testing once the cars arrived.

    “There will be a big effort for everyone to co-ordinate this during the holidays,” read the minutes, which were written by the TTC.

    At the same meeting the TTC warned that if it looked like Bombardier would miss the year-end target, the transit agency would pull out of the modified approval process.

    “TTC will stop the PAC process in Toronto if schedule slips (sic) and the 16 cars delivery becomes at risk,” read the minutes.

    The meeting minutes also indicate that in late 2016 and early 2017, more than two years after the first new streetcar was delivered, the TTC was still expressing serious concerns about problems with Bombardier’s manufacturing process, including failing control switches, collapsed rubber on the bellows that connect streetcar segments, cracked bonnets, leaking windows, incorrect parts being installed, and deficient welding jobs.

    Lefebvre said Monday the company has made “significant progress” on welding problems, which have plagued the order since the beginning. He said any other production issues “should be resolved in the very near future.”

    Under the latest revised schedule, the company is supposed to deliver a cumulative total of 70 cars by the end of the year. In July the company admitted that the schedule was at risk.

    Lefebvre said that doesn’t mean Bombardier will miss the 2017 target and stated that the company is “deploying extraordinary resources ... to meet our deadlines.”

    “Our overall focus firmly remains to deliver the entire fleet of 204 streetcars by the original contract deadline of 2019.”

    0 0

    Few people would have the nerve to straddle a steel beam hanging near the top of the CN Tower, or to shout “Hey, Queen!” in the presence of royalty.

    Nothing could stop Boris Spremo from getting his million-dollar photo.

    The retired Star photographer made it his business to document history, whether he was shooting a war, or capturing a Canadian prime minister during a lighter moment.

    Spremo has died at the age of 81. He had been diagnosed with cancer in February. He took a turn for the worse last week, according to his family.

    “He was the light of everyone’s life,” said his granddaughter Jessica Spremo. “He was constantly cracking jokes. He never took anything too seriously. (He was) always looking for an adventure.”

    Spremo was born in Yugoslavia and came to Canada in 1957 after a stop in Paris. Following four years at The Globe and Mail, he joined the Star in 1966, where he spent 34 years as a photojournalist. He retired in 2000.

    A member of the Order of Canada who was inducted into the Canadian News Hall of Fame, Spremo received 285 national and international photojournalism awards in a lifetime of photography.

    His work took him to conflict zones including Vietnam, Grenada, Northern Ireland, Israel, Gaza and Iraq. He documented famine and drought in Central Africa in 1983 and the plight of Kurdish refugees in 1991.

    “He never lost sight of where he came from,” Jessica said. “Having that perspective, he could relate to people . . . and have them, kind of, be comfortable, if only for a few minutes, in the situations that they were in.

    “He treated everyone the same.”

    Photos he took in Canada stood out. Known for his dogged pursuit to find the perfect shot, Spremo developed a rapport with politicians, including prime ministers Pierre Trudeau and John Diefenbaker.

    In 1976, he captured Diefenbaker in silhouette working on his post-retirement memoirs while at a summer cottage in Barbados. The photo of Canada’s prime minister, resting in a lounge chair as the sun peaked out from the clouds following a rainfall, secured Spremo one of his many National Newspaper Awards.

    Spremo was lauded for his photo of Trudeau the day after the latter won the 1980 federal election. It was one of the most recognizable photos of the former prime minister.

    Camped outside Trudeau’s office until his staff finally let Spremo in, the photographer urged him, “Do something for me! Give me a picture!”

    Trudeau decided to fire off an elastic from a paperclip.

    “That to me is the quintessential Boris picture, right there, because it sums up his personality, his style,” said Star photographer Richard Lautens.

    “Who else is going to get a sitting prime minister to sit there behind the desk on Parliament Hill firing elastics?

    “He was willing to talk anybody into anything.”

    Having known Spremo for 40 years, Lautens considered him a mentor. He was a “mythic figure, this larger-than-life character” with a personality “you could barely fit in a room,” he said.

    “He had this personality, this drive. He would get in anywhere. He would never take ‘no’ for an answer,” Lautens said. “He would step on his own mom for a picture, especially an exclusive. I always figured he’d be around as long as Mt. Rushmore.

    “His face should be up there somewhere.”

    Said former Star photographer and senior editor Fred Ross: “He worked his ass off” to get the right shot.

    It was important to Spremo to get his photo on the Star’s front page the following day.

    Ross recalled how the photographer would keep track of all his front-page pictures and how he’d grow restless, even to the point of nudging Ross for better assignments, when he went a while without one.

    “He never took any pictures. He made pictures. Big difference,” Ross said. “First class is probably not a definitive enough term for him. He lived and loved to make pictures.

    “That was his whole being.”

    Lautens said Spremo “would just kind of own the paper whenever he was working.

    “He would see me or anybody else in this place as much competition as anybody else,” he said. “Then he’d give you that big smile and everyone would go, ‘Well, that’s Boris.’ ”

    Torstar chair and former Star publisher John Honderich referred to Spremo as a “giant” – although “I’m not sure that even ‘giant’ does justice to his career,” Honderich said.

    “Boris definitely knew what he wanted in life and the chain of command was not something he felt was particularly relevant. He would just come and knock on my door all the time and say this is what he wanted to do. He was full of stories, full of life, vivacious.

    “This man lived every inch of his life and every inch of his career.”

    Spremo’s photographic style differed from many of the techniques used by his competitors, according to Lautens.

    To him, it was about capturing a moment from the perfect spot at the perfect time.

    “Most of the stuff you see of his has got a humorous little twist to it, but extremely personal,” he said. “The style he shot in is very much kind of the way your eye might see things, whereas most photographers would always try and do something visually different, use certain lenses or certain lighting. He was willing to put himself in the line of fire. He was willing to risk pretty much everything to get himself in that position to make that image.

    “It was that kind of intimate approach that, kind of, sold the deal.”

    Spremo was not afraid to take readers to the highest of heights. On one occasion, he shot a CN Tower ironworker at 440 metres above ground.

    “He was very famous for climbing up on skyscrapers and doing crazy stunts to get the best angle,” said Ken Faught, a former Star photographer and photo editor. “He was just a bulldog. It was his way or the highway.”

    His sense of humour also had an edge.

    Tasked with covering a Papal visit in 1984, Spremo was on Pope John Paul II’s train, which ran from Sherbrooke to Trois-Rivières, Que.

    As the pope sat in the fourth car of the train by a window, with a light on him so that people at the stations could see him as the train passed by, media set up camp in the first car.

    But they grew bored during the long trip, prompting Spremo, partially as a result of some egging on from fellow media, to fold up one of the blow-up cushions into a shape similar to the pope’s mitre, throw on a table cloth and hold a monopod as a staff. The impression was complete with a papal wave.

    “People started taking photos of him instead of the actual pope,” said Jessica Spremo. “When the pope actually went by, all these people were walking away.”

    The stunt landed him in hot water and some media picked up the story.

    In another instance, legend has it that Spremo, in attempt to get the attention of a wayward-looking Queen Elizabeth II on a visit to Canada, shouted, “Hey Queen! Look over here!”

    “All the protocol guys were, like, ‘You can’t talk to the Queen like that,’ ” Lautens laughed.

    When Spremo retired from the Star, it was obvious to everyone that he wasn’t ready to stop shooting.

    “It’s inspiring, not just for journalists everywhere, but for anybody in any occupation, to see a guy who has that fire in his belly his entire life,” said Lautens. “Even to this day, I’m still in awe of the guy.

    “For the longest time, he was photojournalism in Canada.”

    Spremo remained active in retirement, playing tennis five times a week and spending time at his Lake Simcoe cottage, where he loved to be on a boat.

    He also got tremendous joy out of his 1959 Cadillac, “my baby,” as he liked to call it, according to his granddaughter.

    In retirement, he kept shooting photos.

    “He never went anywhere without a camera, whether to the store or on a trip,” Jessica said. “He always said, ‘You never know where you’re going to get that million-dollar photo.’ ”

    Spremo is survived by his wife Ika, their four daughters and seven grandchildren.

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    The union representing striking ground crew workers at Canada’s busiest airport says it has received a new contract offer that will be voted on tomorrow.

    About 700 baggage handlers, cabin cleaners, and other ground crew employed by Swissport at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport have been on strike since late July.

    Read more: 700 baggage handlers, ground crew at Pearson Airport on strike

    Swissport services several major airlines at the airport, including Air Transat, Sunwing Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Air France, KLM and Lufthansa.

    Christopher Monette, a spokesman for the union representing the workers, says Swissport extended the offer on Monday night after a week of negotiations.

    The ground crew strike will end if the Swissport workers vote to approve the new deal.

    Monette says details of the latest offer won’t be released until union members finish voting.

    Workers have complained of scheduling issues, a wage freeze, and a lack of respect from Swissport for their work.

    0 0

    The Prime Rib’s website boasts that it is one of the top five romantic restaurants in America. But a couple who recently dined at the restaurant’s Washington location disagrees: After the man and his partner asked to split an ice cream sundae, they say their server told them two men eating out of the same bowl “doesn’t go with the ambience of the restaurant.”

    Ron Gage, 55, and his partner, Henry McKinnon, 58, didn’t see it coming. They were properly attired in blazers, which the restaurant requires, for their 8:30 reservation. They had been joking around with their server Thursday evening, in what Gage said had been a nice evening until dessert.

    “When it came time for dessert, we asked for one sundae with two spoons,” Gage said. Their server “said he would bring it in two separate dishes. He said ‘It wouldn’t look right with two gentlemen eating out of the same sundae. It doesn’t go with the ambience of the restaurant.’”

    The pair didn’t know how to react.

    “We were speechless, we nodded,” Gage said. “We weren’t expecting it.”

    Read more:

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    Stunned, they kept their conversation with the server to a minimum for the rest of the meal, and tipped him 15 per cent — they usually tip 20 — and left the restaurant without addressing it with a manager.

    “I’m kind of embarrassed to say we didn’t say anything,” McKinnon said. “It just took us back to such a shameful place, in a way.”

    But after they had slept on it, they were angry about the encounter and posted about it on Facebook and Yelp.

    When contacted by The Washington Post, the Prime Rib’s general manager, James MacLeod, said he was still trying to piece together the situation and hadn’t had a chance to speak to the server in depth yet.

    “The waiter in question is Bulgarian, and he does speak four different languages,” said MacLeod, noting that English is not the server’s first language. “I am not sure if he got confused as to what he was saying, or how he was saying it.”

    He said he planned to reach out to Gage and McKinnon.

    “I cannot believe that a waiter would have ever said anything like that,” MacLeod said. “There’s no way we would condone anything remotely like this.”

    Other restaurants — even in liberal Washington — have been publicly shamed for slinging homophobic and transphobic remarks, often directed at LGBTQ patrons who show affection in public. In London in 2014, a lesbian couple was asked to stop kissing because they were in a “family restaurant.” When a gay couple gave each other a peck on the lips before entering an Ohio pizzeria, they were accosted by a staff member, who told them, “You better get used to this, this is Trump’s America.” (He was later fired.) A gay couple reported that they were asked to leave a Dublin restaurant for holding hands. Incidents like these make LGBTQ couples believe, as Eleanor Margolis wrote in the New Republic, that they should put the “kibosh on sexuality until after dessert. . . . Same-sex couples are still forced to be careful about where they choose to kiss or even hold hands.”

    Even if the restaurant tries to make amends, Gage and McKinnon don’t think they’ll be back.

    “It was so humiliating,” McKinnon said. “It was unbelievable how it made us feel.”

    0 0

    WASHINGTON—U.S. President Donald Trump’s plan to end the stalemate in America’s longest war and eliminate Afghanistan’s rising extremist threat involves sending up to 3,900 additional U.S. forces, senior officials said Tuesday. The first deployments could take place within days.

    In a national address Monday night, Trump reversed his past calls for a speedy exit and recommitted the United States to the 16-year conflict, saying U.S. troops must “fight to win.” He warned against the mistakes made in Iraq, where an American military withdrawal led to a vacuum that Daesh, also known as ISIS, quickly filled.

    Read the latest news on U.S. President Donald Trump

    Trump would not confirm how many more service members he plans to send to Afghanistan, which may be the public’s most pressing question about his strategy. In interviews with television networks Tuesday, Vice-President Mike Pence similarly wouldn’t give any clear answer. Instead, he cited Pentagon plans from June calling for 3,900 more troops.

    “The troop levels are significant, and we’ll listen to our military commanders about that,” Pence said. “And the president will make that decision in the days ahead.”

    U.S. officials said there was no fixed number. But they said the Pentagon has told Trump it needs that many fresh forces in addition to the roughly 8,400 Americans in the country to accomplish Trump’s objectives of “obliterating ISIS, crushing Al Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan and stopping mass terror attacks against America before they emerge.”

    The 3,900 figure includes a combination of trainers, security forces and other support troops, according to the officials, who weren’t authorized to publicly discuss details about the military planning and spoke on condition of anonymity. The exact number of arriving forces can vary as conditions change.

    Read more:

    ‘In the end, we will win’: Trump vows to prolong war in Afghanistan in TV address

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    U.S. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis says Daesh ‘is on the run’

    Defence Secretary Jim Mattis also declined to confirm an exact number Tuesday, saying he was waiting for more input from Gen. Joseph Dunford, America’s top military official. Mattis said he will “reorganize” some U.S. troops in Afghanistan to reflect the new strategy.

    The top U.S. commander for the Middle East said he expects the first reinforcements to arrive “pretty quickly,” within days or weeks.

    “What’s most important for us now is to get some capabilities in to have an impact on the current fighting season,” Gen. Joseph Votel, who spent last weekend in Afghanistan, told reporters travelling with him to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.

    Before he was a presidential candidate, Trump ardently argued for a quick withdrawal from Afghanistan and called the war a massive waste of U.S. “blood and treasure.” On Monday, he suggested an open-ended commitment rather than a “time-based” approach.

    “Conditions on the ground — not arbitrary timetables — will guide our strategy from now on,” Trump said.

    At its peak involvement in 2010-2011, the U.S. had roughly 100,000 troops in Afghanistan. President Barack Obama then started bringing them home, drawing criticism for the advance timetables he provided for his planned drawdown and ultimate withdrawal of forces.

    Trump was among those who argued that Obama was aiding the enemy by telegraphing U.S. intentions. On Monday, Trump said he wouldn’t discuss troop numbers, military tactics or timetables. “America’s enemies must never know our plans or believe they can wait us out,” he said.

    While such reticence may have a military rationale, the American public may insist that it has a right to know how many of its citizens are waging a war overseas in its name.

    The administration invariably will have to provide updates to Congress, which pays the military’s bills, and to key U.S. allies, whose troop contributions it seeks, on the changing level of American manpower in Afghanistan.

    Obama reversed himself on withdrawing from Afghanistan as security worsened. Taliban militants have made gains across the country, and the fractious Afghan government currently controls about half the country.

    Afghanistan’s U.S.-backed government welcomed Trump’s strategy, with President Ashraf Ghani saying it will help stabilize the region.

    Allies responded positively, too.

    Germany, which contributes 950 troops in northern Afghanistan, approved the U.S. readiness for a “long-term commitment” and agreed the military’s continued deployment should be “linked to the conditions on the ground.”

    The last Canadian troops left Afghanistan in 2014 and earlier this year Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he has no intentions of rejoining the mission.

    “There are absolutely no plans to send any troops back to Afghanistan,” Trudeau said on June 29.

    Trump offered few specifics of how his strategy would be implemented. He didn’t say how the U.S. would get Pakistan to crack down on militant sanctuaries on its soil — long a point of contention that has led Washington to restrict aid to the country.

    Insisting that the U.S. was intent on “killing terrorists” rather than “nation building,” Trump gave little indication of how the U.S. would use other instruments of American power to end the conflict.

    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that after an effective military effort, a political settlement including some Taliban might be possible, echoing language of the Obama years. He said the U.S. would support peace talks with the Taliban “without preconditions.”

    U.S. lawmakers reflected the division among Americans about whether to press on with the conflict or pull back.

    Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman who’d criticized Trump for delays in presenting a plan, said Trump was “now moving us well beyond the prior administration’s failed strategy of merely postponing defeat.”

    Maryland’s Ben Cardin, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s top Democrat, said he failed to see how another “surge” of forces in Afghanistan would turn the tide on the insurgency. He expressed concern that Trump was ceding significant responsibility to his defence secretary.

    0 0

    OTTAWA—A small crowd of veterans, dignitaries and invited guests marked a final, drenched ceremony in Ottawa today in remembrance of the 75th anniversary of the raid on Dieppe in France.

    The ceremony was held in the pouring rain at the National War Memorial, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took note of the weather as he paid tribute to the soldiers killed, wounded and captured during Canada’s bloodiest Second World War battle.

    It was the final acknowledgment of the sacrifices made by the soldiers who landed at Dieppe on August 19, 1942.

    Trudeau joined the Canadian delegation, including Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr, who had just returned from a service held in France on Saturday, where a new monument was unveiled to honour members of the King’s Own Calgary Regiment who fought at Dieppe.

    Read more: Bitterness lingers 75 years after Dieppe: ‘My father always felt that they had been sacrificed’

    Of the nearly 5,000 Canadians who took part in the raid, nearly 2,000 were taken prisoner and only about 2,200 made it back to England.

    Another 900 were killed.

    “Today, we honour those who fought with such grit and valour on the beaches of France,” Trudeau said as he stood beside the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the foot of the memorial.

    The prime minister called it appropriate that the skies had opened up during the ceremony, giving those in attendance a small feeling of sacrifice in remembrance of those who fought.

    “As we sit here in the rain, thinking how uncomfortable we must be these minutes as our suits get wet and our hair gets wet and our shoes get wet, I think it’s all the more fitting that we remember on that day, in Dieppe, the rain wasn’t rain — it was bullets,” Trudeau said as he lowered his own umbrella.

    The Dieppe raid began before dawn on that bloody August day in 1942 and was intended to test the German defences along the shore of the occupied French port. But tanks that were supposed to provide armoured cover for the soldiers were late in arriving and the infantry battalions were met with heavy machine-gun fire from the fortified cliffs overlooking the beach.

    Despite the bloodshed, the raid provided valuable intelligence that would later be used in Allied amphibious assaults on Normandy and in Africa and Italy.

    Trudeau said he hoped the remembrance would serve as a reminder of the terrible price paid in armed conflict.

    “Today, and every day, we recommit ourselves to the pursuit of peace and justice for all,” the prime minister said.

    “Today, and all days, we remember.”

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