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TOPSTORIES

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    OTTAWA—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has thrown cold water on suggestions the Liberal government wants to sign onto continental ballistic missile defence, or that it might send troops back into Afghanistan.

    The question over whether Canada should be part of the U.S.’s continental missile-defence shield has been rekindled in recent days amid concerns about North Korea’s growing nuclear arsenal.

    Canada opted out of ballistic missile defence in 2005 following a divisive national debate, but many defence experts and parliamentarians, including some Liberals, want the issue reopened.

    Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump’s plan to send thousands more troops to Afghanistan has also resurrected questions about whether Canada will be asked to follow suit.

    Speaking in Montreal on Wednesday, however, Trudeau appeared to close the door on both ideas.

    “On those cases, we will always take the decisions in terms of what is the best interests of Canadians,” Trudeau told reporters after a meeting with federal and provincial immigration officials.

    “And our long-standing positions on those two issues are not going to be changed any time soon.”

    The comments on ballistic missile defence were the strongest yet from the Liberal government, which had largely sidestepped questions about its intentions in recent weeks.

    Whether the prime minister has succeeded in finally putting the issue to rest is another question, however, particularly if tensions between Washington and Pyongyang continue to escalate.

    Read more:

    A look at 16 years of U.S. warfare in Afghanistan

    Trump’s plan to win in Afghanistan involves sending 3,900 more troops, officials say

    Trump’s warning to Pakistan could push it closer to Iran, China, Russia, analysts say

    Trudeau’s position on Afghanistan was less of a surprise, as he had previously ruled out a NATO request for Canada to send police trainers to the war-torn country.

    The last Canadian troops left Afghanistan in 2014, and despite concerns about a resurgent Taliban, the Liberals have instead emphasized Canada’s military contributions to Iraq and Latvia.

    Still, it’s unclear how the comments will be received by the Trump administration and NATO, both of which have called on allies to redouble their efforts and help end the 16-year-old conflict there.

    “We will ask our NATO allies and global partners to support our new strategy, with additional troop and funding increases in line with our own,” Trump said Monday. “We are confident they will.”


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    Toronto switches to a new parking ticket system on Monday. Instead of fighting fines in provincial court, disgruntled motorists will use a new city process they can trigger online or in person. The city hopes to avoid a repeat of 2015 when it cancelled 880,000 tickets, citing limited court capacity that caused delays in hearing the challenges. Susan Garossino, the city’s acting director of court services, walks us through the switch.

    For motorists who get parking tickets, how will the new system change what they do or what they pay?

    Disputes will be handled by the city, which will enable better customer service by offering a faster, easier and more convenient review process. Individuals will be able to dispute a parking violation online or in person with a city screening officer. In-person reviews can be booked ahead of time through the city's website, or by drop-in. As part of the review, individuals can explain why they believe the parking violation should be cancelled or varied, or why they need any additional time to pay. Screening officers review the request and can affirm, vary or cancel the penalty or any fees, or give people extra time to pay the penalty if required. Their decision is based on grounds set out in the administrative penalty bylaw. Parking violation penalty amounts are not changing.

    Since motorists can't try to get the ticket withdrawn or reduced, either with an assistant Crown attorney or a judge, what appeal options are there for ticketed motorists? Can they still be represented by a paralegal or lawyer?

    Individuals can still dispute and request a review of their parking violation. Reviews are conducted by city screening officers. If an individual is not satisfied with the decision of the screening review, they can request a second review at a hearing with an independent council-appointed hearing officer of the administrative penalty tribunal. The hearing officer’s decision is final. The vehicle owner can authorize someone else to act on their behalf, including a lawyer, a licensed paralegal or person authorized under the Law Society Act.

    Motorists who drive away while a parking enforcement officer is writing the ticket will now still get it, via the mail. Any other benefits as a result of the new system?

    The new process will allow the public to dispute a parking violation in a way that is faster, easier and more convenient for them — online or in-person, through scheduled appointments or by drop-in. This process will give individuals faster resolutions and free up the provincial court system to deal with more serious matters.

    The city has had to hire staff and set up a new system. How much will the administrative penalty system the city, both in terms of capital and operating expenses, versus the current system?

    The city is committed to delivering public service in a way that is efficient and effective. The new parking violation dispute process will be staffed with existing city resources at this time. However, 25 hearing officers for the independent administrative penalty tribunal were appointed by city council earlier this year. There will be a period where the city will be running both a court-based system to process tickets issued before Monday alongside the new system which will process all parking violations issued from Monday onwards. Based on initial projections in the staff report to council, upon full implementation of the new system, there are estimated potential savings of approximately $2.8 million annually. The city currently spends approximately $65.7 million annually on parking enforcement and the processing of parking tickets. Upon full implementation, the new APS system is projected to reduce this to $62.9 million.

    What is the expectation in terms of how many tickets will be written, and how much revenue earned from them by the city, once the new system is full in place?

    As the offence types and fine levels won’t change, it is not expected that the volume of tickets issued will change significantly. There are a number of factors that may influence how many tickets are issued, including driver behaviour, enforcement activity, etc. Based on initial projections, upon full implementation in 2018, the new system is expected to increase gross revenues from $102.4 million to $108.7 million, reflecting an increase of $6.3 million. The penalty amounts associated with parking offence types remain unaffected in the new system. However, there are additional fees which the city will be able to impose for individuals who do not pay their parking violation notices on-time as well as for individuals who fail to attend a booked screening review appointment with a city screening officer or a hearing review with an administrative penalty tribunal hearing officer.

    This interview was edited for clarity and brevity.


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    OTTAWA—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shrugged off blustery anti-free trade comments by Donald Trump, saying he’s heard it before and Canada would press ahead with talks “in good faith” no matter what.

    Trudeau, speaking in Montreal, said he’s had “a number” of private conversations with the U.S. president “where he talked about exiting the NAFTA agreement.”

    Yet Trudeau said “I have confidence in the substance of that agreement” and he remains “very positive” about the prospects of reaching a new deal that will improve and update the 23-year-old pact.

    “We’re negotiating in good faith and working hard to do just that, but we’re going to stay focused on the hard work we have ahead of us at the negotiation table and that’s how we’ve approached this from the very beginning, and I don’t see anything changing,” Trudeau said.

    Trudeau pushed the same keep-calm-and-carry-on approach adopted by Canadian and U.S. officials earlier Wednesday in reaction to Trump’s inflammatory speech in Phoenix, Ariz., the night before.

    He said the North American Free Trade Agreement has created both millions of jobs and economic growth on both sides of the border.

    Trump told an Arizona campaign-style said the U.S. would “probably” end up terminating the NAFTA, a threat that hangs over formal negotiations that began just last week.

    Trump suggested Canada and Mexico were the ones who negotiated great deals, while the U.S. was suckered. “Personally, I don’t think we can make a deal, because we have been so badly taken advantage of,” Trump said.

    Canada’s foreign affairs minister’s office dismissed the remarks as “heated rhetoric” and reacted coolly to Trump’s trash-talking NAFTA.

    Trudeau stressed that the agreement has been updated nearly a dozen times, since it set rules for tariff-free trilateral trade and investment in 1994. He said the current talks are an “opportunity to improve and update it.”

    “Nothing will distract us from that serious and positive approach we’re taking to those negotiations,” Trudeau said in French.

    On two other key foreign policy files, however, Trudeau drew a sharper contrast between his government and Trump’s, on its military approach toward North Korea and Afghanistan.

    Trudeau was asked if his government has shut the door on Canadian participation in the U.S. missile-shield program or on sending Canadian military and police officers back into Afghanistan.

    Trudeau said keeping citizens safe is “a responsibility that we take very seriously, but we also make sure that we are always standing up for Canadian sovereignty, for Canadians’ capacity to make decisions about our own national security.”

    “In those cases, we will always take the decisions in . . . what is (in) the best interests of Canadians, and our longstanding positions on those two issues are not going to be changed anytime soon.”

    Trudeau’s trade comments expanded on a statement from the office of his Foreign Affairs minister, Chrystia Freeland.

    “As we said last week, trade negotiations often have moments of heated rhetoric,” said Adam Austen, a spokesman for Freeland. “Our priorities remain the same, and we will continue to work hard to modernize NAFTA, supporting millions of middle-class jobs.”

    Freeland’s Mexican counterpart, Luis Videgaray, tweeted in Spanish: “No surprises: we are already in a negotiation. Mexico will remain on the table with serenity and firmness and national interest ahead.”

    Even Trump’s own chief trade official tried to downplay the significance or newsworthiness of Trump’s latest remarks.

    U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement, “President Trump has been clear from the very beginning that, if the NAFTA renegotiation is unsuccessful, he will withdraw from the agreement.

    “Under the President’s direction,” Lighthizer said, the trade office “has begun renegotiating NAFTA to seek substantial changes that address its fundamental failures and create fair trade policy that benefits all Americans.”

    Read more: Trump: ‘We’ll end up probably terminating NAFTA’

    NAFTA countries agree to pursue ‘rapid pace’ for renegotiations

    NAFTA’s third-party arbitration system was Canada’s big prize . . . is it worth fighting for?

    Canada has carried out a full-court-press south of the border to woo allies in the U.S., even as it publicly says it welcomes a chance to “modernize” the deal.

    Canada lavished particular attention on 11 key U.S. states that have large populations, are large trading partners, or carry big political weight for the Trump administration, whether because they are Republican strongholds, or are states where the vote flipped to Trump in 2016: Texas, Wisconsin, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, Florida, Iowa, California and New York.

    On Tuesday, Trudeau once again touted the economic benefits that NAFTA has had for individual states, and for the U.S. business community that he said “understands” a border that allows freer trade brings economic growth to all.


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    MONTREAL—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau traveled to Montreal — ground zero of the intense media coverage of the asylum-seeking issue on Wednesday — to try to un-knit some of his own knitting.

    He met with the interprovincial task force set up to coordinate the logistics of the response to the influx of would-be asylum seekers that have been crossing the U.S. border into Quebec as well as with leaders of the Haitian community. In between the prime minister held a news conference.

    What Trudeau did not do was visit one of the many sites where many of those who have walked across the border are being temporarily housed. The last thing Canada’s government needs at this juncture is a picture of the prime minister hugging some aspiring asylum seekers.

    For if there was a central theme to Trudeau’s Montreal visit, it was that Canada is not in the business of rolling out a red carpet for anyone considering a stroll across the border in search of an alternative haven to the U.S.

    As initially articulated over the weekend, Trudeau’s core message was that prospective asylum seekers using an irregular route into Canada should expect no exemptions from the rigorous requirements put in place to deal with such requests.

    “Our number one job is to protect our citizens,” he stated in his opening statement, warning once again that all existing rules will apply to the border-crossing asylum seekers. Trudeau also pledged more resources to accelerate the screening process.

    That’s the same message the lead ministers on the file have consistently issued, albeit with limited effect, over the past few weeks. The calculation or at least the hope is that with the gravitas of the prime minister behind it the warning will have more weight.

    Trudeau’s cautionary body language, his emphasis on maintaining the integrity of Canada’s immigration system, may go some way to appease a rattled domestic public opinion.

    Indeed, in his efforts to address some Quebec concerns, Trudeau caught a break of sorts. La Meute — one of the province’s extreme-right fringe groups — has set out to get anti-immigration mileage out of the surge in asylum requests. No Quebec mainstream party wants to be associated with the group. If only temporarily, that has somewhat muted some of the leading critics of the federal government’s handling of the issue.

    But Trudeau is undoubtedly aware that for many Canadians the litmus test of his federal strategy will be whether it results in a tapering off of the traffic at the border. The sum total of would-be asylum seekers is not wildly out of line with past influxes but the unusual sight of temporary camps being set up to house a growing number of border-crossers suggests anything but business as usual.

    For now the prime minister is still banking on persuasion rather than on dissuasive measures to stem the flow.

    On that basis Trudeau’s tallest order on Wednesday and beyond was not to convince voters in Quebec or elsewhere in Canada that his government has matters in hand but rather to dispel the perception in some quarters in the U.S. that his government has an open-door immigration policy.

    It was less than a year ago that pictures of Trudeau personally greeting Syrian refugees to Canada circulated worldwide. And when President Donald Trump initially set out to ban visitors for half-a-dozen Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S., Trudeau famously tweeted: “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith.”

    It takes a leap — and a significant dose of bad faith — to translate those words into an invitation for all comers to head for Canada. They need to be read in the context of the time but they nevertheless struck a more immigration-friendly tone than anything that has come out of the White House since Trump’s swearing-in.

    By insisting that potential asylum seekers will be subject to a by-the-book process the prime minister may help dispel the myths that border-crossers will be welcomed to Canada with open arms and no questions asked. What he cannot do is change the contrasting political realities of the two countries.

    Notwithstanding Trudeau’s admonitions to would-be asylum seekers, it will be hard to convince many of them that their odds of finding a haven are not better in Canada than in Trump’s United States. What would you think if you were in their place?

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


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    Ottawa’s inaction on recommendations of a coroner’s inquest into the deaths of seven First Nations students who died in Thunder Bay was “the biggest disappointment” for the lawyers who represented six of the victims’ families.

    The federal government received the lowest grade — a D — in a report card compiled by Jonathan Rudin, a lawyer with Aboriginal Legal Services and his team, more than a year after the inquest issued its recommendations.

    The Thunder Bay Police Service, which has come under repeated criticism for its treatment of Indigenous people, received a B+.

    The highest mark — an A — went to Keewaytinook Okimakanak, a non-political Northern Chiefs Council serving six northern Ontario First Nations.

    The jury made 145 recommendations aimed at preventing future deaths of students, who attend high school outside their remote First Nation communities.

    The inquest called for increased funding to address health and education inequities in remote Indigenous communities, efforts to address racism in Thunder Bay and work to ensure students who travel from remote communities to attend school are both safe and supported.

    Though no action has been taken on 24 per cent of the 145 recommendations, 15 per cent have been completed and 61 per cent are in progress.

    Of the 81 recommendations that required federal action, however, Ottawa has done nothing on 43 per cent, 48 per cent are in progress and nine have been completed.

    A year after the inquest ended, Rudin said there are families who aren’t sending their teens to Thunder Bay because they’re concerned they won’t be safe.

    “That is not an irrational fear,” he said.

    A joint statement issued by federal Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett, Ontario Education Minister Mitzie Hunter and Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler said it is “unacceptable” that students are “having to choose between their education, their well-being and safety by remaining on-reserve.”

    In response, the federal and provincial governments have jointly committed $10 million towards a Nishnawbe Aski Nation plan to address the “student safety crisis” in Thunder Bay.

    The inquest investigated the deaths of seven First Nations youth, who died between 2000 and 2011.

    The five-person jury determined the deaths of three students — Curran Strang, Robyn Harper and Kyle Morrisseau — were accidents.

    The deaths of the remaining four students — Jordan Wabasse, Kyle Morrisseau and Jethro Anderson, whose bodies were found in the waterways of Thunder Bay, and Paul Panacheese, who died in his mother’s kitchen — were undetermined.

    All seven were between the ages of 15 and 21 when they died.

    Racism has been an ongoing issue in the northeastern Ontario city, and there are still concerns about the safety of First Nations students.

    The bodies of two more teens, Tammy Keeash and Josiah Begg, were found in Thunder Bay waterways in May. In July, 34-year-old Barbara Kentner died after she was hit with a trailer hitch while walking in Thunder Bay.

    It’s critical the recommendations are implemented so families can feel comfortable sending their kids to school in the short term, Rudin said, adding that other solutions are needed over the long term so kids don’t have to travel hundreds of kilometres from home for school.

    In a statement, the acting chief of the Thunder Bay Police Service, which has been under investigation for “systemic racism,” highlighted some of the work it has undertaken since the inquest, including daily patrols of the rivers and trails, adding the force wants to make further progress.

    “I want the Indigenous community to know that we are committed to working together to make Thunder Bay as safe as we can for the young people who are coming here,” Sylvie Hauth said in a statement.

    The City of Thunder Bay was given a C+, but Rudin was optimistic that it could complete the recommendations that required its action by next year.

    “This is a marathon, not sprint,” said Thunder Bay’s city manager, Norm Gale, who added he appreciates the feedback from Aboriginal Legal Services.

    With files from Tanya Talaga


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    Daniel Kammen, a renewable energy expert appointed last year as a science envoy to the State Department, resigned Wednesday, citing President Donald Trump’s response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, as the final straw that led to his departure.

    In a resignation letter posted to Twitter, Kammen wrote that Trump’s remarks about the racial violence in Virginia had attacked “core values of the United States” and that it would have “domestic and international ramifications.”

    Demonstrations by white supremacist groups on Aug. 12 turned deadly after a neo-Nazi plowed a car into a crowd, killing one counterprotester and injuring at least 19 other people in Charlottesville. Two police officers were also killed when their helicopter crashed.

    Read more: Trump blames media for Charlottesville response as tensions flare at Phoenix rally

    Protesters, police clash in Phoenix following Trump’s speech

    Trump’s initial response was widely criticized, even by some by members of his own political party, for being insufficient and vague. Though the president later condemned the hate groups, he went on to effectively undo his conciliatory remarks by giving an off-the-rails news conference days later in which he once again blamed “both sides” in Charlottesville.

    Kammen, who was appointed during Barack Obama’s presidency, said it would be unconscionable for him to continue serving the administration after those remarks. He said he stood with “the unequivocal and authoritative statements” of a slew of other public officials, both Democratic and Republican.

    “Acts and words matter,” Kammen wrote. “To continue in my role under your administration would be inconsistent with the principles of the United States Oath of Allegiance to which I adhere.”

    However, his most biting message may have come in the form of a hidden acrostic; the first letter of each paragraph spelled out “I-M-P-E-A-C-H.”

    The State Department appointed Kammen, an energy professor at the University of California, Berkeley, as one of five U.S. science envoys in March 2016. At the time, Kammen said he would be working on various global energy initiatives, as well as “the wider Paris Accord.”

    In his resignation letter, Kammen also cited other concerns that predated Trump’s Charlottesville comments, including the president’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord in June.

    “Particularly troubling to me is how your response to Charlottesville is consistent with a broader pattern of behaviour that enables sexism and racism, and disregards the welfare of all Americans, the global community and the planet,” Kammen wrote. “Your decision to abdicate the leadership opportunities and the job creation benefits of the Paris climate Accord, and to undermine energy and environmental research are not acceptable to me. . . . Your actions to date have, sadly, harmed the quality of life in the United States, our standing abroad, and the sustainability of the planet.”

    During his approximately 18 months as a science envoy, Kammen said, the United States had “built significant partnerships in North and East Africa, and in the Middle East, around shared visions of national security, job creation in the U.S. and sustainable energy.”

    According to his letter, Kammen has also served in various federal roles since 1996, including at the Energy Department and the Environmental Protection Agency.

    “Today, Dr. Daniel Kammen made a personal decision to resign. We appreciate his dedicated service to U.S. scientific diplomacy during his appointment working on energy efficiency and renewable energy in Africa as a Science Envoy,” a State Department representative said. “Margaret Leinen and Tom Lovejoy are current Science Envoys. The State Department’s Science Envoy program supports the establishment, strengthening, and mobilization of regional and global networks of scientists to advance U.S. science and technology priorities and solve real-world problems.”

    Kammen did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

    Kammen wrapped up his resignation letter with something of a warning for Trump, borrowing the words of President Dwight D. Eisenhower: “A people [or person] that values its privileges above principles soon loses both.”

    Trump’s response to Charlottesville has cost him the support of a slew of business leaders and Hollywood performers who resigned from various presidential advisory groups.

    Kenneth Frazier, the chief executive of Merck, was the first member to quit the president’s American Manufacturing Council, on Aug. 14, citing “a matter of personal conscience” and “a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.” Trump quickly rebuked him on Twitter.

    Over the next few days, several more executives followed Frazier’s lead, prompting Trump to lash out at them as “grandstanders” who could easily be replaced.

    Before the end of the week, both the manufacturing council and the president’s Strategy & Policy Forum had been disbanded. Though Trump announced publicly it was his decision to end both councils, those close to the process, including JPMorgan Chase chief executive Jamie Dimon, said the groups had already decided to disband.

    Last Friday, the members of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities announced they were resigning en masse in a fiery letter.

    “Ignoring your hateful rhetoric would have made us complicit in your words and actions . . .” the letter stated. “Supremacy, discrimination, and vitriol are not American values. Your values are not American values. We must be better than this. We are better than this. If this is not clear to you, then we call on you to resign your office, too.”

    That letter also contained a hidden message. The first letters in each of those paragraphs, taken together, spelled out: “R-E-S-I-S-T.”


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    The TTC will close eight downtown subway stations during evenings and weekends between September and December to install new PRESTO fare gates.

    In a statement released Wednesday, the transit authority said new paddle-style fare gates with PRESTO will be installed at the 25 stations and more than 50 entrances that still have turnstiles, some of which date back to the 50s and 60s.

    Forty-four stations and 75 entrances already have new gates, which the TTC said improves the flow of people. Many of the stations that are still waiting for the gates will remain open with ongoing construction, but the busiest stations need to be closed, the statement said.

    “The next wave of construction takes place in some of the TTC’s busiest stations where the fare lines are more physically constrained, necessitating some weekend closures, as well as early closures, both on weekends and week nights, where subway trains will pass through, and not stop, at the affected stations,” the statement said.

    Brad Ross, the TTC’s director of communications, said the work is necessary and because the downtown stations are so close together, customers will be able to walk one or two blocks to reach the next station.

    “We need to do this work and the reason we need early closures or one weekend, is to expedite the work, this heavy, dirty work,” Ross said. “Yanking out the turnstiles and cutting open the floor and doing all that work, it really helps to speed up things so we can get the station back to normal and get those fare gates up much more quickly.”

    Ross said the alternative is to keep the stations open and put up barriers, but that could become a problem in an emergency, and the construction would take longer to complete in that case.

    The last time the TTC closed an entire station for construction was three or four years ago, Ross said, when Pape station was shut down for 11 days.

    Locations, dates and times of station closures are as follows:

    Dundas Station:

    11 p.m. nightly, Sept. 10 to 14

    Weekend closure from 11 p.m. Sept. 15 until 6 a.m. Sept. 18

    11 p.m. nightly, from Sept. 18 until the middle of October

    King Station:

    10 p.m. nightly, Sept. 19 to 23

    Queen Station:

    11 p.m. nightly, Oct. 18 and 19

    Weekend closure from 11 p.m. Oct. 20 until 6 a.m. Oct. 23

    11 p.m. nightly, Oct. 23 until the end of November

    Museum Station:

    10 p.m. nightly, Nov. 1-2 and 6-7

    St Andrew Station:

    Weekend closure from 10 p.m. Nov. 10 until 6 a.m. Nov. 13

    College Station:

    10 p.m. nightly, Nov. 14 to 16, and Nov. 20

    Osgoode Station:

    Weekend closure from 10 p.m. Nov. 17 until 6 a.m. Nov. 20

    Queen’s Park Station:

    10 p.m. nightly, Dec. 6-7 and Dec. 11-12


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    The latest manifestations of white supremacy have reminded us that Jews, not just Blacks, are perennial targets at neo-Nazi rallies.

    Put another way, African Americans and Ashkenazi Americans are seen as equally un-American by the blue-eyed, red-blooded, all-American white nationalists who chanted in Charlottesville, “Jews will not replace us.”

    That shared demonization comes as no surprise to many Jews who know their history. And who have watched with apprehension the present-day tendency to lash out at so many other “others” — be they brown, Black, Indigenous or Muslim.

    But the resurgence of anti-Semitism is also an awkward reminder that “white privilege,” supposedly enjoyed by white Jews and all other white folks, offers little protection from persecution or privation. Now, as the casual invocation of white privilege gains greater currency, it’s worth examining some of the questionable assumptions that underpin it — and undermine it.

    This is not an attempt to shoot down the important social analysis behind the theory of “white privilege” — the idea that most whites have “unearned” advantages notably in dealing with the police, employment and education. But relying on colour to confer privilege on people — an entire class of people — is conflating, confusing and counterproductive.

    When a phrase risks alienating potential allies in the quest for greater equality of opportunity, it’s time for better terminology. Much like “cultural appropriation,” the “white privilege” paradigm emerged from the academic world, which speaks in its own rarefied and coded jargon, often obscuring rather than clarifying real-world issues. Beyond the ivory tower, where colour analysis has superseded class analysis, the term “white privilege” is being used, misused and misunderstood.

    I hope I have a head start in understanding the obstacles others face. My grandparents didn’t just face discrimination but death in the 1940s. I still have a Montreal Gazette clipping about the landlord who wouldn’t rent to my father in the 1950s because of our Jewish surname (which made the stories about Donald Trump’s father rejecting Black tenants personal for me).

    Privilege is part of any society that stratifies itself along various lines — hierarchical, patriarchal, economical, geographical, political, religious. But when “white privilege” is appropriated as a proxy for societal unfairness, it too easily breeds resentment.

    It is a classic anti-Semitic trope to confer privilege and power on Jews — propagating the pre-Nazi, Nazi and neo-Nazi fiction that they control the media, the banks, the world (you might call it fake news . . .). We are not reliving the 1930s today, but whether in Hitler’s Germany or Trump’s America, the privileged can be persecuted in the blink of an eye.

    And not just Jews. Citizens of Japanese descent were unjustly incarcerated in Canada and the U.S. in the Second World War for fear they were fascist fifth columnists. Today, students of Asian descent are viewed skeptically for their disproportionate university enrolment. Talk of informal “Asian quotas” among college admissions officers has personal resonance given the formal Jewish quotas enforced at major universities in the 1950s.

    Beware white privilege, for class and cultural differences are no less critical.

    It is one of the great conceits of whites that we flagellate ourselves as the world’s most unrepentant racists. Go to Indonesia, where the majority has hounded an ethnic Chinese minority for decades as a “privileged” group of shopkeepers. Think of Vietnam, where so many boat people were ethnic Chinese fleeing persecution. Consider Hong Kong, where those of Indian descent are disparaged and whites are mocked as “gweilos” (ghosts). In East Africa, Ismailis of South Asia origin have been persecuted for decades. Entrenched homophobia across Africa conjures up Black heterosexual privilege. India’s caste system has long co-existed with a colour continuum that prompts marriage prospects to describe themselves as having “wheatish” complexions, as against less socially desirable “dusky.”

    The reality everywhere is that race and skin colour are clumsy proxies for social distinctions that matter at least as much: Ageism is a chronic affliction. The urban-rural in Ontario and across North America is deeply rooted. Postsecondary education is ever more accessible, yet driving more enduring disparities for those left behind.

    Yes, we need constant reminders of our blind spots, but white privilege is hardly the clearest prism for viewing the world. Whites assuredly have advantages — on average. But averages are just generalizations, which lend themselves to stereotypes, which can be skin deep. Averages disguise the individual variations underneath.

    We live in a world of competing victimhoods. But if everyone plays victim — even the billionaire President Donald Trump and the white nationalists he flirts with — then no one is a victim.

    When white Jews are targeted by so-called white nationalists, the notion of white privilege loses its colour palette. But it reminds everyone — not least Jews who joined the civil rights battles of the 1960s, in the wake of the Holocaust of the 1940s — that we must all stick together, even if we come at it from different life experiences.

    Which is why we need a better term than white privilege. Because prejudice and privilege come in all shades and colours.

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


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    After a sexual assault charge against a Niagara Region man was withdrawn, he went on to sue his accuser in small claims court — and won.

    After an eight day trial in Welland spread out over a year, where both parties were self-represented, a deputy judge concluded that the woman lied to the police about the sexual assault and awarded the man $18,842 to cover his legal fees from the criminal court case, as well as $5,000 in damages.

    Experts say such lawsuits, while unusual, may be becoming more common and could have a chilling effect on sexual assault reporting.

    The deputy judge in the civil case, David Black, found the woman’s testimony about her injuries, including cuts, scratches and bruises, was “completely contradicted” by her doctor who said she saw no indication of any such injuries when examining her at a physical on March 28, 2011, the day after the alleged sexual assault took place.

    Black found that the woman defamed the man by lying to police about a sexual assault to get revenge because she thought he was cheating on her. While making a statement to police about a suspected crime is often covered by a defence known as qualified privilege, it does not apply when the statements are made with “actual or express malice,” he wrote.

    However, Black did not find the man proved malicious prosecution because the woman did not initiate the prosecution — the police did.

    The September 2016 decision is now under appeal, with a hearing set for next month.

    The factum filed by the woman’s lawyer, Jonathan Collings, argues Black inappropriately relied on stereotypes about sexual assault victims when assessing the woman’s credibility and said the inconsistencies in her evidence are minor.

    The factum questions Black’s interpretation of email and text exchanges between the two parties following alleged instances of abuse and argues that Black inappropriately relied on the doctor’s assessment of the woman as someone who did not present like someone who had been sexually assaulted the day before.

    The factum argues the doctor noted that at the end of the appointment the woman told her that there had been a “confrontation” and she was forced into “un-consented sex” with her boyfriend but did not say when this happened.

    The woman made a police report in July 2011 and the man was charged with sexual assault. Black’s decision noted that the police did not contact the doctor, who was specifically mentioned by the complainant in a written statement, prior to laying the charge and first did so in November. The man spent five days in jail before being released on bail and the charge was withdrawn in March 2013.

    “There is medical evidence that completely contradicts the witness,” the man’s defence lawyer told the court following the complainant’s examination-in-chief at the preliminary inquiry. The Crown told the court he agreed with the defence “in broad strokes.”

    The small claims court lawsuit was launched in July 2014.

    The man is not being identified by the Star because of a publication ban on the identity of the woman. In an interview he said he brought the lawsuit because he was seeking “accountability” from the woman who he says ruined his life by falsely accusing him of sexual assault. He is opposing the appeal which he argued in a factum has been filed unfairly.

    They had consensual sex, he said.

    He said he hoped the lawsuit would clear his name but now believes that will never happen because of the stigma that comes with a sexual assault charge. He told the court he has been “blackballed” in his town, that he “lives like a hermit” and lost one job.

    “Because of the charge my innocence means nothing . . . having the charge alone is guilt,” he said when contacted by the Star. “I hope this nightmare doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

    According to the decision, he says he has suffered anxiety, depression and stress. He also cannot cross the border or apply for jobs requiring a vulnerable sector check, he said. Black found that the man had not proved loss of past or future income or that his employment has been impacted.

    The woman and her lawyer declined to comment.

    Lawyer Joanna Birenbaum, who has worked with hundreds of women considering reporting sexual assault, says she is regularly asked about the risks of being sued. “The chilling effect is extraordinary,’ said Birenbaum who is not involved in this case. “Sexual assault is the most underreported crime and the prospects of conviction where charges are laid is low. It is very troubling that fear of being sued is increasingly a barrier to women reporting rape.”

    Elizabeth Grace, a civil lawyer with experience in sexual assault and defamation law, says defamation concerns for accusers often come up when they share abuse allegations online. Just going to the police or starting a lawsuit isn’t usually enough for a successful defamation claim – but it can be if it’s found to be done for malicious purposes, which is a high bar to clear, she says.

    Grace, who is also not involved in the case, says there has been a shift in society’s sensitivity to wrongful convictions and the harm that can be done by criminal charges and criminal trials, which may have led to more malicious prosecution and defamation lawsuits. And in the rare exceptions in sexual assault cases where there is malice, there should be recourse, she said.

    However, these decisions always have the effect of deterring and intimidating victims, she said. “There are no winners.”


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    Punching a woman under his care in the face while she showered. Striking her with a hairbrush. Urinating while another woman was present in the same washroom, and then hitting her on the head.

    Over the course of 14 days, a St. Catharines nurse allegedly terrorized two women living in a group home for people with disabilities, a disciplinary committee at the College of Nurses of Ontario heard Wednesday.

    In January, David Little was found guilty of six counts of assault. Those convictions were included in evidence presented to the disciplinary panel.

    “I think the conduct must be denounced in the most strongest of terms, having regard to your capacity as a professional and your relationship to these two women,” said Judge J.G. Campbell, according to a transcript from the sentencing hearing.

    The college’s disciplinary committee must now decide whether to strip Little of his nursing licence.

    In addition to the cases presented at court, College lawyer Megan Shortreed detailed seven other allegations of abuse against the women, whose identities are protected by a publication ban.

    The alleged assaults and the assaults Little was convicted of happened at a care facility run by Community Living Essex County, a non-profit organization that operates about 55 small-group homes. Little was hired there as a personal support worker in May 2015.

    The abuse began about seven months later, the hearing heard.

    Little, 51, has been a nurse for two decades. He did not attend the hearing and was not represented.

    Corey Dalgleish, director of supports and services at the care organization, reported the incidents to police after reviewing video surveillance footage. The video was made available to the committee.

    Some of the alleged cases of abuse are subtle and harder to catch on video, Dalgleish told the committee. In one, Little seems to be helping a woman brush her teeth, and then he seems to jab the toothbrush in her mouth before abruptly returning to his duties.

    But some of the video footage is inescapably clear, he told the committee.

    Dalgleish told the committee about one incident that occurred on Dec. 12, 2015. Based on a video recording, Dalgleish said the woman was undressing, and Little took her pants and adult diaper and threw them on the floor. He motioned for her to pick them up, and when she did, Little punched her in the head. For this incident, Little was found guilty of assault.

    “She was fearful of what was about to come. It was most disturbing. You could see the fear in her,” Campbell said at Little’s sentencing hearing.

    Other allegations against Little include punching a woman and striking her in the face, forcing her head near a garbage pail, and urinating in her personal washroom while she was present.

    Little was found guilty of punching and striking the second woman in the head and face multiple times. One of those alleged incidents happened while a resident was in the shower, and Little is said to have used a hairbrush in another.

    Dalgleish reported the incidents to police after reviewing the video footage of the women’s living quarters, which films for a two-week period and tapes over itself.

    Earlier this year, Little was sentenced to 30 days in jail and two years’ probation, including being prohibited from providing “professional services to persons who are to receive the benefit of a trust relationship through personal care.”

    Now, the disciplinary committee panel of three nurses and two civilians will decide whether Little breached professional nursing standards, engaged in physical and emotional abuse of his clients, and displayed disgraceful and dishonourable conduct.

    The College was notified of the incidents by Community Living Essex County, and in a letter from one of the victim’s parents.

    In a victim impact statement read during Little’s criminal proceeding, the mother of one of the victims said making the decision to move her daughter to a care facility was “devastating.”

    “The fact that someone who was paid to keep her safe is assaulting her in her own home is a grievous breach of trust.”


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    SAN FRANCISCO—A lawyer of a Canadian man accused in a massive hack of Yahoo emails says his client has pleaded not guilty to all charges against him in a San Francisco courtroom on Wednesday.

    Karim Baratov was arrested in Hamilton in March under the Extradition Act after U.S. authorities indicted him and three others for computer hacking, economic espionage and other crimes.

    Baratov’s U.S.-based lawyer, Andrew Mancilla, says his next court appearance will be Tuesday.

    Last week, the 22-year-old decided to forgo his extradition hearing and face the charges in the United States in what his Canadian lawyer has called an effort to speed up the legal process.

    Read more:

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    The Hamilton man signed documents agreeing to waive the hearing before an Ontario judge on Friday, after weighing the decision for months.

    Baratov has been held without bail since his arrest because an Ontario Superior Court judge ruled that he was too much of a flight risk to be released prior to an extradition hearing.

    The judge also found that Baratov’s parents would not make appropriate sureties since they had not been suspicious of their son’s alleged activities while he lived under their roof.

    American authorities alleged in court documents that Baratov, who was born in Kazakhstan, posed an “extremely high flight risk” in part due to his alleged ties to Russian intelligence agents and his financial resources.

    He appealed the ruling that denied him bail but it was upheld in June.

    Yahoo said last September that information from at least 500 million user accounts had been stolen in a cyberattack two years earlier. Baratov is accused of hacking 80 Yahoo accounts and faces 20 years in prison in the U.S. if convicted.


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    OTTAWA—Judy Foote, a strong female voice in Justin Trudeau’s cabinet, will resign her position Thursday as public works minister and step down altogether as a Newfoundland and Labrador MP this fall, according to a report.

    Foote, a breast cancer survivor, had stepped aside temporarily with Trudeau’s blessing in April, citing family reasons. Although her ministerial duties had been covered off by cabinet colleague Jim Carr, who is natural resources minister, she had recently returned to work at a number of appearances at events in her constituency.

    Trudeau may use the occasion to re-set a number of other cabinet portfolios. He shuffled the cabinet more extensively than expected in January. He has committed himself to gender parity in his government’s executive ranks.

    The MP for Bonavista-Burin-Trinity, Foote entered federal politics in 2008 after several years a provincial cabinet minister and a past senior aide to former Newfoundland premier Clyde Wells. She was Trudeau’s caucus whip and deputy House leader when the Liberals were the third party on the opposition benches. Foote moved to Trudeau’s front bench and sat at his right hand in the Commons when the Liberals won the October 2015 election.

    Foote could not be reached for comment and the Prime Minister’s Office declined comment on a CBC News report late Wednesday that Foote will make her decision public in St. John’s on Thursday.

    Although not unexpected, the timing of Foote’s announcement leaves Trudeau time to shuffle portfolios and bring in a new face or two, a refresh of his cabinet files nearly two years after taking power just before a cabinet retreat where the fall parliamentary agenda will be discussed.

    Two other Newfoundlanders have been the subject of much speculation as likely candidates for a promotion into cabinet: Gudie Hutchings, MP for Long Range Mountains, on Newfoundland’s west coast, parliamentary secretary for small business and tourism, and a woman; or Seamus O’Reagan, a former broadcaster and friend of Trudeau’s and his top aide, Gerry Butts. Shortly after winning his first election in the Liberal sweep, O’Reagan admitted he had an alcohol problem and went into a recovery program. He continued to have Trudeau’s trust and went to the Aga Khan’s island in the Bahamas with Trudeau and his family last Christmas.


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    As Toronto’s increasingly young anti-abortion movement ramps up its graphic on-street displays, the city is fighting back.

    On Saturday, Councillor Sarah Doucette (Ward 13, Parkdale-High Park) joined concerned families in her neighbourhood of Swansea to counter-protest against what she calls “vulgar” signs imposed on people in her community against their will.

    After neighbourhood residents filed complaints with Toronto police about those carrying graphic billboards in their busiest intersections, they were told protesters weren’t breaking any laws.

    So long as they don’t block traffic or harass people, the posters aren’t technically illegal.

    Now Doucette, after talking to police several times, is taking her cause to city council to pass a bylaw that ban these types of signs.

    The group calls itself the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform. With an office in Mississauga, it hired 19 high school and university “interns” this summer to spend four months spreading its message on street corners.

    In Calgary (home to the group’s other office), bylaws like the one Doucette hopes this city will pass have already been enacted.

    “We’re not stopping them from standing on the street, talking to people or handing out flyers, but we’re just stopping them being in people’s faces. You really cannot get away from them. That’s where people are feeling it is harassment,” said Doucette, who insists they are a distraction to drivers.

    Parents in the Swansea area use a Facebook group to warn each other about the whereabouts of the signs.

    Sometimes, police will visit the protesters to tell them not to harass people. But that’s difficult when they frequently change intersections.

    “I don’t think anyone is against freedom of speech,” Doucette said. “Women find them very upsetting if you have lost a baby, this is very hard to see these sorts of images. Residents are just saying to me, ‘We don’t want to be going about our day-to-day lives and be confronted with these giant images.’ ”

    The protests target busy intersections during Toronto’s lunch-hour rush, leaning over their chest-high posters as crowds of people — and children — impatiently wait to cross the street.

    On Wednesday, nearly a dozen of the group’s interns stood on both of the south corners at Yonge St. and St. Clair Ave.

    Many stopped to argue with the protesters. Others shielded their children’s eyes or shut the front of their strollers. Some yelled at them to turn their boards around, or stopped their cars at red lights to yell profanities about the vulgarity of the images. While most bypassed them or ignored their handouts, some stopped to talk to them.

    “If you’re going to argue that this is a person, you can’t treat them like an object in the image,” said Sarah Hamilton, who is pro-life but still stopped to argue with the protesters over their tactics.

    “Using their image to display is objectifying them.”

    The protesters call abortion a human rights violation and claim “300 children are dismembered, decapitated and disemboweled” every day in Canada. They are ultra-polite in the face of anger and tell passersbys that if the images offend them, that they should be offended by abortion — not the signs.

    “I think it’s a lot worse to bring a child into the world that’s going to be unloved than to not bring it into the world,” said Shoshana Abramovitz, who stopped for nearly half an hour to talk with one of the protesters. “You should have the right to choose. It’s pretty hard (to look at).”

    On Wednesday, 22-year-old Oriyana Hrychyshyn was in charge of the interns and stood behind a sign of her own. The night before, on a phone call, her boss Devorah Gilman was reciting the same lines.

    “We want to put an end to abortion in our country,” Hrychyshyn said. “They’ve been trained to go out day-in-day-out on the street and expose the realty of abortion and what it does to pre-born children.”

    They are backed by Westminster Chapel at High Park’s senior pastor Rev. Joseph Boot, who calls the group one of Canada’s “most important educational organizations” and says they are re-educating the country on “the true nature of this hidden atrocity.”

    But Kathi Ziolkowski said the group doesn’t represent Christian values. A 47-year-old mother of two who grew up in a deeply religious family, and has tried to explain to the protesters the impact of their images on her community.

    “If they did want people to understand the sanctity of life, that might not be the way that’s going to win people over,” she said. “Maybe if there were other ways, rather than trying to use shock and sensationalism, they might be more successful.”


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    “Don’t try to change Donald Trump.” That’s the number one piece of advice the former chief of staff to former mayor Rob Ford can offer General John Kelly, the U.S. president’s new Chief of Staff.

    “He doesn’t fit the mold and that’s what his supporters love about him. Build a presidency around him that plays to his strengths,” wrote Towhey in an Aug. 23 BuzzFeed article.

    Towhey, author of Mayor Rob Ford: Uncontrollable, made parallels between the Canadian mayor and American president, calling them both “unconventional,” “black horse” candidates who were “eccentric and unpredictable.”

    There are similarities, wrote Towhey, in the ways both are equally loved and hated, and how both function as a regular punch line for comedians, and a common enemy for democratic institutions.

    In the Buzzfeed article, Towhey outlines 13 “entirely unsolicited observations” to serve as a guide for Kelly. These include how Kelly should keep his focus on the administration’s objectives (“help your boss do the same”), break the siege (“In their minds, the world outside the gates hates them, misunderstands them, and is actively conspiring to destroy them”), protect his staff (“[Your boss] may not know how to lead and care for them.”) and to “give Trump answers, not options.”

    “Your boss is a disrupter, but you’ll have to work within the establishment to change the establishment,” wrote Towhey, adding that Kelly should plan his exit, keep his resume updated, and make sure to not break the law.

    Towhey was fired from his position as a top mayoral aide by Ford, a week after the former mayor’s crack cocaine scandal broke in May 2013. Towhey had advised Ford to get help for his alcoholism and drug addiction. Ford died in March 2016.

    Towhey could not be reached for comment.

    Read more:

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    About a year ago, Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders, decided without much “deep thought” that the city’s white, red and blue patrol cars should be replaced with all-grey cruisers.

    A public backlash followed. Critics said the “stealth grey” was too militaristic and sent the wrong message to the public. Design and safety experts questioned why police would choose a color lacking visibility.

    After being scolded by city council and the civilian oversight board, which, unlike previous boards, wasn’t consulted on the design change — Saunders agreed to put the conversion on hold, clarify the reason for change, consult with the public and report back to the board.

    He is set to report to the board Thursday on a design and colour that’s already been decided.

    On Monday, Saunders rolled up to a press conference behind the wheel of a Ford Interceptor with a grey base and white doors, and its lights flashing. “Toronto Police Service unveils new police vehicle, listening to the community, listening to our members,” announced the TPS in a news release.

    An order has already been placed for 70 new grey and whites, in addition to the 74 all-grey cars ordered in 2016.

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    But Councillor Shelley Carroll, a member of the Toronto Police Services Board who first flagged public concern about all-grey cars, says Saunders and the service jumped the gun, and in so doing failed the public.

    The public wanted visibility, the police wanted “stealth,” and that’s what they got — without any input from the board, she said.

    “This is a simple matter. Release the design and bring it to the board for approval,” Carroll said this week at city hall. “We didn’t get a picture of the new design. We got a new car with the design already on it.”

    Nor did the board receive the answers to the questions it asked.

    The board also fell down on its oversight duties, she added.

    Board chair Andy Pringle, Mayor John Tory and other members should have “done better” and given clearer direction to the chief that the board first needed to sign off on a new design and color, she said.

    “If we’re not crystal clear, we’re leaving things open to interpretation, and we have a service that really just wants to do its own thing,” she said. “That’s disappointing. Nowhere else in municipal operations is there more trust in jeopardy than in the police service.”

    While the design of the police car is “not a life and death controversy… this is the place where we really could have demonstrated the fact that we’ve gone the extra mile. So I’m frustrated,” Carroll said.

    TPS spokeswoman Meaghan Gray responded Wednesday that the chief’s report to the board “clearly responds to the direction that was given to us, as noted in previous board minutes. We consulted with the community and chose a design that achieves a balance between the wishes of the public and our members.”

    Pringle did not respond to a request for comment.

    Mayor Tory is pleased Saunders sought feedback from the public and police service and worked with students “for this new visible and professional design,” his spokeswoman, Keerthana Kamalavasan, wrote in email.

    In the report, the police say the new design is based on the results of a 14-question survey which received 17,121 responses from the external community and 1,438 internal police staff — more than any other survey conducted by the service.

    Although the public agreed on 80 per cent of the design elements, the survey also showed “notable differences” on two key questions: the choice of base color and image, the report notes.

    Forty two per cent of the general public thought visibility was of paramount importance, while 15 per cent picked “authority.” Those respondents also favored a base color of white by a wide margin, 47 per cent compared with 16 for grey.

    In contrast, 37 per cent of police service employees thought authority more important than visibility, picked by 22 per cent, and 34 per cent preferred grey to white as the base color, chosen by 16 per cent.

    The online survey, which only offered five base color options: white, silver, dark blue, grey and black, essentially allowed the force to engineer the outcome, Carroll said.

    She’s also critical of the service for not providing any “real analysis” of the survey results, nor did the board get a chance to discuss why the service didn’t consider painting its fleet the bright colors seen on European emergency vehicles.

    “This was an opportunity to look at these things… especially in this age of terrorism. Don’t you want police cars that everyone can recognize and run to in that type of incident?”

    While Carroll said the moment for such a debate has likely passed — some social media commentators are still questioning the process and why grey remains the dominant color.

    “Seems a little low on the visibility scale. Why not yellow like Europe?” said one tweet.

    This week, Saunders said visibility was considered in the redesign and pointed to the involvement of the Ryerson School of Media, which he said took that into consideration.

    John Girardo, the Ryerson instructor who lead the redesign project, told the Star students prepared about two dozen photo-shopped mockups based on the results of the survey.

    No research was undertaken into emergency vehicle safety and which colors would improve visibility and reduce accidents.

    “We were only asked to execute based on the research that was done,” Girardo said. “If somebody wants a lime green vehicle, we would show them what that would look like.”

    Girardo said he likes the new design, which he thinks has a “strong” look and “retro” feel, while the stark contrast of grey and white makes the cars more visible on city streets.

    “Anytime you start dealing with a design or a look, it’s a subjective call, there are going to be people who have different opinions.”


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    MONTREAL—Canada is no automatic safe haven for those seeking quick entry into the country or fleeing the threat of imminent deportation from the United States, says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

    After a meeting of federal and provincial ministers charged with managing the recent influx of asylum seekers in Montreal, Trudeau told reporters that security and immigration officials are getting a handle on the thousands of refugee claimants — most of them Haitian — who have streamed into the country from the United States since July.

    And then he added one big condition to a now-famous Jan. 28, 2017, tweet that his critics have blamed for the fact that so many new arrivals believe Canada will be their future home.

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    “You will not be at an advantage if you choose to enter Canada irregularly. You must follow the rules and there are many,” Trudeau said.

    The prime minister’s Twitter posting, shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump took office, was in response to a proposed travel ban in the United States on people from predominately Muslim countries.

    “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength,” the tweet reads.

    But the tweet has since received a more liberal interpretation among asylum seekers and others who feel suddenly fearful living in Trump’s United States.

    More than 7,000 people have crossed from the U.S. into Canada at a breach in the border in Quebec this year, though a wave that began in July appears to have slowed in recent days, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said this week.

    Speaking in Ottawa Wednesday, Conservative MP Michelle Rempel said Trudeau’s approach has also filled those people with “false hope” that if they can somehow get to Canada, they will be accepted with open arms.

    “Our system now is in shambles, and I think a lot of this has to do with the messaging — the inconsistent messaging — that has been coming out of Justin Trudeau's personal communication shop,” she said.

    On Thursday, Haiti-born Liberal MP Emmanuel Dubourg is flying to Miami to speak to media about the flood of people coming to Canada and to correct some of the misconceptions that may exist among members of Florida’s Haitian community.

    But in this country too, the Liberal government is tweaking its message in an attempt to keep anti-immigrant sentiments at bay.

    “For someone to successfully seek asylum it’s not about economic migration. It’s about vulnerability, exposure to torture or death, or being stateless people. If they are seeking asylum we’ll evaluate them on the basis of what it is to be a refugee or asylum seeker,” Trudeau said.

    In addition to a camp capable of housing 1,200 people at the Lacolle border crossing in Quebec, federal officials have erected temporary emergency shelters in the Montreal area as well as another across the Quebec-Ontario border in Cornwall.

    Processing and treatment times for security and admissibility checks for potential asylum seekers has also been increasing and Trudeau said the government would like to also fast-track work permits to refugee claimants who are otherwise reliant on financial assistance from the government.

    The Liberal leader said he was conscious of walking a fine line in Canada when the U.S. and many countries in Europe have taken a decidedly harder line toward migrants sneaking across their borders.

    “We will continue to defend the integrity of our immigration system and remain careful stewards of an extraordinarily precious asset in this 21st-century world, which is to have a population positively inclined toward immigrants, toward refugees, understanding that being welcoming and open is a source of strength.”

    With files from Alex Ballingall in Ottawa


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    Jasmin Sheba had already sold her furniture in anticipation of moving this week when she learned the buyer of her house wanted $20,000 off the selling price to close the deal.

    He threatened to sue for the $10,000 deposit if he didn’t get the reduction, she said.

    But the stay-at-home mother was defiant.

    “I have a 2-year-old and, after all the house showings, the craziness, you’re going to try to back out? That’s not happening,” said Sheba.

    The real estate world is awash in buyer-beware warnings. But some homeowners and realtors are making a case for stronger seller protections — specifically, who gets to keep the deposit when a buyer backs out of an agreement.

    Until recently, it was rare for a buyer to try and exit a home transaction.

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    But a recent drop in Toronto region home prices — after months of frenzied buying — has caused a spike in buyers looking to exit or renegotiate purchase agreements. It’s widely considered to be part of the fallout from the Ontario Liberal government’s housing market cooling policies launched on April 20.

    The Toronto Star could not confirm that Sheba’s condo townhouse sale was among those cases. She refused to name the buyer for fear of endangering a successful resolution to the transaction.

    But, she said, she understands how a buyer’s attempt to renegotiate the terms of a sale can derail a seller’s finances and moving plans.

    “It feels like I’m in the passenger seat and they’re in the driver’s seat,” she said.

    In an unconditional agreement to purchase, the presumption is that the deposit goes to the seller if the deal goes south, said Toronto lawyer Neal Roth.

    But it’s not automatic. Both parties have to agree to that. If the seller wants the deposit and the buyer balks, the funds remain frozen in a real estate brokerage trust, sometimes for years.

    In the absence of an agreement, the deposit can only be released by a court order.

    The court will favour the seller for the deposit in a clean, unconditional agreement to purchase, said Roth.

    But if it’s a large deposit — and many deposits during heated bidding were unusually large — the judge can decide that the amount constitutes a penalty to the purchaser.

    “The question becomes: when is the loss of the deposit so large it effectively becomes a penalty rather than compensation for the vendor. That’s a tough question. We know when it’s really a penalty — 10 to 12 per cent of the purchase price. Something where it’s 3 or 4 per cent, it’s very unlikely it’s going to be regarded as a penalty,” he said.

    But Roth acknowledged that the court process can take months and money. Although the seller is presumably awarded damages, they have to consider whether they will realistically be able to collect from a buyer who couldn’t close a sale.

    Most agents recognize the legal process is “draining and expensive,” said Royal LePage agent Desmond Brown. They will encourage an agreement and get the seller’s house back on the market as soon as possible.

    In normal market conditions, these cases are disappointing but rare, said Brown.

    But soaring housing prices earlier this year, and the ensuing correction, has been anything but normal. The result, said Brown, is agents and sellers caught on the steep slope of the market.

    Raised in North York and Aurora, Sheba said she didn’t enjoy the Scarborough neighbourhood condo townhome her family bought for about $326,000 two years ago. When houses in the neighbourhood started selling for $550,000 in March, they saw an opportunity to move.

    They listed for $499,900 at the end of March. At the beginning of April there was an offer for $460,000. Sheba thought they could do better. But as the spring market fell, even a vastly reduced price of $399,000 failed to elicit any offers.

    Finally, about three weeks ago — long after Toronto’s slumping housing market was news — there were two offers. They took the higher bid, an unconditional offer of $420,000 with an Aug. 25 closing.

    It would be a scramble to move that quickly but the family hadn’t purchased another home. Because they plan to stay in a hotel in the short-term, Sheba says she sold most of their furniture rather than store it.

    Last week, Sheba claims the buyer contacted her requesting a price reduction in light of an issue he identified as the parking that went with the home.

    He said there should be two separate parking spaces, instead of one spot with enough room for two cars, she says.

    Sheba claims the parking was identified in a status certificate the buyer had in hand before he signed off on the agreement to purchase.

    The Star had no way of identifying and reaching the buyer for comment.

    After a week of negotiation, Sheba said she agreed to a $5,000 price reduction because the expense of going to court would have meant remortgaging the house. On Tuesday, she said she expected the sale would close Friday.

    While she was relieved the matter was settled, the experience was discouraging, she said.

    “I sold all my furniture. We’re sitting on the floor. We have nothing,” said Sheba.

    Purchase agreements on residential sales don’t generally contain a stipulation that the deposit is non-refundable or that it automatically reverts to the seller if the buyer backs out from an unconditional offer.

    That’s because agreements to purchase are predicated on a presumption of good faith by a motivated buyer and a motivated seller, said Kelvin Kucey of the Real Estate Council of Ontario.

    There is nothing preventing sellers from including that kind of contract language as long as the brokerages are signing on. But, he said, it’s not advisable.

    “The difficulty is that whenever one party introduces new controversial language to protect one interest, that sours the trade,” said Kucey.

    Still, he added, “It’s certainly a potential means through which sellers give themselves some comfort that at least the deposit will be paid to them if in fact the buyer with a firm agreement for whatever reason decides to renege.”

    The real estate council has seen a “small spike” in calls from buyers looking to get out of their purchase agreements, said Kucey.

    “These are difficult conversations because contractually they need to close the trade. If you step away from it you are potentially opening yourself up to a lawsuit,” he said.

    The province doesn’t know how many sellers have been stranded or vexed by the fallout from the changing market in the wake of its housing plan.

    “Transactions between buyers and sellers are considered private transactions and as such are not required to be reported into government,” said a spokesperson for Housing Minister Peter Milczyn.

    “The housing market always fluctuates — that’s the nature of all investments. The reality is that earlier this year, prices in Toronto were increasing 33 per cent year over year and in the surrounding regions by 43 per cent. We knew that this was not sustainable, which is why we took action,” said Myriam Denis.

    The opposition says it’s another outcome of the government’s failure to research the effects of its new housing policies.

    As speculation grew in the spring that the government planned to act, people decided on short notice to sell, said Tory MPP and housing critic Ernie Hardeman (Oxford).

    “They weren’t ready to move out so they would be looking for a longer closing time. It’s that length of closing time that turned out to be the driver for the challenge they’re facing today,” he said.

    The problem with most contracts, said Kucey of the real estate council, is that they don’t necessarily give enough consideration to the potential negative impacts.

    “It’s not unlike marriage,” he said. “There’s no discussion of what happens when it falls apart.”


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    Striking ground crew workers at Canada’s busiest airport voted almost unanimously Wednesday evening to reject a new contract offer and continue their now four-week-long work stoppage.

    About 700 cabin cleaners, baggage handlers and other ground crew workers employed by Swissport at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport have been on strike since late July. Workers overwhelmingly rejected the company’s last offer in July, with 95 per cent supporting the decision that triggered the strike. This time, it was even louder, with 98 per cent of votes saying no.

    Members finished voting on the new offer around 10:30 p.m.

    Christopher Monette, a spokesman with the union representing the workers, said the offer they received from Swissport was “almost identical to the first offer,” calling it “insulting.”

    “The company is still attempting to impose a 3-year wage freeze on the majority of its workers, cut benefits, and gain the right to change schedules on short notice,” reads a statement on the union’s website.

    Monette sees the clear position of 98 per cent of the workers voting no as a “strong vote of confidence in the union and a rejection of the company’s attitude.”

    “They’re still refusing to address the issues that led to the strike in the first place,” Monette said.

    Their concerns have included pay and benefits cuts, scheduling issues and what their union calls a lack of respect from Swissport managers.

    “Our workers, when they show up to work everyday, they don’t feel respected by their employers and this was evident in the way Swissport’s basically submitted the same proposal and . . . expected different results,” Monette said.

    Swissport have been using temporary agency workers since the strike, and the union claimed on their website that these “strikebreakers” had caused “workplace injuries, accidents, damaged planes, delayed flights, and hundreds of cases of lost luggage” due to lack of sufficient training and inexperience.”

    Monette said these temporary workers were brought on “in an attempt to draw out a strike as long as possible to put financial pressure on their own employees” so that they could get them to agree to terms they’d rejected last July.

    Swissport services 30 airlines at the airport, including Air Transat, Sunwing Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Air France, KLM and Lufthansa. Air Canada and WestJet are not serviced by Swissport.

    The ground crew strike has not significantly affected passengers, although the airport has been warning travellers that the labour disruption could affect some flights.

    Earlier, Swissport had said that they were optimistic that workers would accept the deal.

    Monette said it’s time for Swissport to “get serious about negotiating.”

    “We want to hash out something that’s fair, that can allow us to go back to work with our head held high, but we’re not going to allow Swissport to continue disrespecting us in the way they’ve been for quite a long time now,” he said.

    “Our members are going to see this through to the end.”

    With wires from The Canadian Press


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    These are the things millennials spend most of their money on, as reported in our millennial-obsessed media: four-dollar lattes, music festivals in exotic locales, avocado toast, Ubers, electronic gadgets and the most expensive thrill of all: best friends’ weddings. The latter expense is not only the most detrimental to a person’s savings account (as anyone who has been a bridesmaid recently will tell you), it’s also the subject of a new report about the spending habits of Gen Y, entitled “Pre Wedding Bashes can Put a Dent in Saving for a Home Down Payment.” The report, published by real estate database Zillow Porchlight, suggests that millennials spend an exorbitant amount of money on wedding related stuff, from gifts to transportation to the reception itself, to destination bachelor and bachelorette trips.

    According to Zillow, “people who attend just nine of these [destination] bashes will have spent up to $13,788, or 35 per cent of a down payment on a median-price home.” Besides the stag parties, says the report, “On average, bridesmaids and groomsmen spend an additional $1,154 for things like wedding day attire, a gift for the bride and groom, as well as travel and accommodations for the wedding day. Guests not in the bridal party still spend $888, on average, to attend each wedding.”

    Cue the baby boomer finger wagging: “Spend less on your weekend debauchery and you’d have a house by now! Be sensible! Save your money!” All valid points and some of them true, but I’ve begun to wonder lately if blame for the millennial-wedding-industrial-complex rests not on the shoulders of Gen Y spenders themselves, but rather, on the shoulders of their boomer parents.

    After all, who loves a big black-tie bash complete with distant relatives, a Motown cover band and roving platters of cocktail shrimp more than people 50 plus?

    Research may indicate that millennials shell out a ton of money for their friends’ nuptials and their own, but it also runs counter to the fact that we are eloping in great numbers (NYC elopement service, Eloping is Fun, told Glamour this month that its millennial-catered business has doubled every year) and we are pioneers in getting married on the cheap. Pop-up style weddings where a handful of couples share their wedding day and the price of the venue are increasingly popular with the Gen Y demographic. Lynzie Kent, Toronto wedding planner and owner of Love By Lynzie Events + Design, says the recent pop up wedding she and her staff organized at the Drake Hotel, where 9 couples were married on the same day for a discount price of $600 per couple, was so successful she has a waiting list for her next shared wedding event in January 2018.

    Which brings me back to the boomers: If millennials love eloping and saving money on their big day, why are some of us spending so much to get hitched and watch our friends get hitched? My theory: maybe because our parents want us to.

    This at least was a possibility I began to toy with after speaking with a soon to be married woman I will call Rachel. Rachel is a med school graduate in her late twenties and a Toronto resident who is getting married next year. She asked that I not use her real name in this column because she’d rather not identify herself while criticizing her parents and her in-laws in a national newspaper (which anyone who has parents and in-laws, will, I’m sure, understand.) Rachel is in major student debt but she and her fiancé want to contribute financially to their wedding, alongside their parents, in order to maintain a little bit of control over a day that is in theory supposed to be about the couple tying the knot. She and her fiancé initially planned to contribute roughly 10 grand to their big day; they wanted to get married on the family cottage and invite 75 close friends and family. But no such luck. Both sets of parents, citing familial obligation to distant relatives, insisted on a wedding at a banquet hall with a guest list of 150 — in addition to an engagement party with a separate guest list of 150, a sort of consolation prize party for friends and family not invited to the wedding itself. Seventy-five grew to 300 and the engaged couple’s original contribution of 10 grand grew to more than 20. The wedding has not “only grown in size,” says Rachel, “it’s diluted in meaning.”

    Boomers like to pick on millennials for spending their savings on the small stuff — avocado toast, weekend getaways and gadgets. But the small stuff is what many of us can comfortably afford or hope to afford, particularly those saddled with student debt in an economy where internships and contract positions aren’t stepping-stones to a stable career but scattered stones leading nowhere clear.

    Rachel says she can imagine some of her friends feeling the need to buy more expensive gifts and shell out more money now that the wedding has become a massive, luxurious affair.

    “I would go to a big wedding and think this is not what I want,” she says. “But here I am having my arm twisted into having one.”

    Emma Teitel is a national affairs columnist.


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    A one-year-old boy has life-threatening injuries after a two-vehicle crash on Highway 404.

    The collision occurred north of Aurora Rd. at 12:09 a.m. when the vehicle with the two boys was rear ended by another car, said Ontario Provincial Police Const. Lauren Ball.

    A four-year old boy suffered a broken leg.

    Ball said the two adults in the front of the car with the children were not injured, and the male driver that rear ended them was also not injured. The four-year-old has since been released from hospital.

    “Preliminary investigation has found that the car with the two kids was stopped either on the side of the road or in a lane when it was rear ended,” said Ball.

    It is unknown why the car was stopped.

    Ball also said no charges have been laid but the investigation is ongoing.

    The roadway was closed for several hours but has since reopened.


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