Articles on this Page
- 08/24/17--04:00: _Schools must collec...
- 08/24/17--07:16: _John A. Macdonald s...
- 08/24/17--14:27: _Orchestra shuts in ...
- 08/24/17--09:11: _Judy Foote resigns ...
- 08/24/17--15:37: _Police under fire f...
- 08/24/17--12:01: _Friends of missing ...
- 08/24/17--14:22: _Province urged to f...
- 08/24/17--09:34: _Metrolinx appoints ...
- 08/24/17--12:00: _Widow of U.S. soldi...
- 08/24/17--15:26: _Canada’s top politi...
- 08/24/17--16:06: _Cops in schools den...
- 08/24/17--10:23: _Mike Duffy suing th...
- 08/24/17--15:10: _Wife of accused in ...
- 08/26/17--09:09: _Man killed in Missi...
- 08/25/17--20:06: _Surviving again: Ho...
- 08/25/17--17:19: _Trump pardons contr...
- 08/25/17--16:03: _North Korea fails t...
- 08/25/17--09:47: _Peterborough GE pla...
- 08/25/17--15:03: _Toronto doctor accu...
- 08/26/17--04:00: _A condo party regis...
- 08/24/17--04:00: Schools must collect more race-based data on students, report urges
- 08/24/17--14:27: Orchestra shuts in response to reaction of ‘body-shaming’ email
- 08/24/17--09:11: Judy Foote resigns cabinet to help family face cancer
- 08/24/17--15:37: Police under fire for failing to notify SIU of Black man's injuries
- 08/24/17--12:01: Friends of missing Toronto man take search to Don Valley
- 08/24/17--09:34: Metrolinx appoints former head of Scottish rail firm as new CEO
- 08/24/17--16:06: Cops in schools denounced at raucous police board meeting
- 08/26/17--09:09: Man killed in Mississauga shooting
- 08/25/17--20:06: Surviving again: How needy Holocaust survivors cope with poverty
- 08/25/17--17:19: Trump pardons controversial ex-sheriff Joe Arpaio
- 08/25/17--09:47: Peterborough GE plant with lethal legacy closing down
School boards across Ontario should collect comprehensive data on their students’ race, ethnicity, religion and gender identity, a new report by York University urges.
This demographic data could help educators make learning more inclusive, from tackling systemic racism to designing lessons relevant to all students’ experiences, says the report, commissioned by the Ontario Ministry of Education.
“If you want to be able to work with particular groups of students, you should know who they are, otherwise you might be putting (resources) where they’re not addressing the issues directly, and that doesn’t help,” said Carl James, a York University education professor and co-author of the report.
The Toronto District School Boards collects information on student backgrounds through a census produced every five years.
Data collected in those surveys has helped show that Black students are twice as likely to be suspended from school and twice as likely to be enrolled in “non-academic” courses compared with other students.
The Peel District School Board has said it plans to collect race-based data through its own student census, expected to launch in 2018.
The York report’s call for improved data collection falls in line with the province’s three-year plan to battle systemic racism, unveiled in March.
Legislation expected to be tabled as part of this plan would make race-based data collection mandatory in Ontario’s education, child welfare, health and justice systems.
School boards across the province can improve upon the data they already have by requesting demographic information on students’ registration forms, James said.
“Right now, the long-form census does collect race data, so it’s not something that’s beyond what we collect in Canada,” he added.
The York report called for school boards to improve their demographic data collection no later than 2018-2019.
The tracking of racial, religious or ethnic information has garnered criticism in the past, from people concerned it can be used to profile or single out a particular race, particularly if the information is collected by police.
But race-based data can be an extremely positive step, as long as it is collected and used responsibly, said Anthony Morgan, a lawyer who specializes in issues of racial justice.
“(Data) has immense potential to be positive, but it has immense potential to be negative depending on who has access to the information, how it’s reported, who it’s reported to and what’s done to manipulate it — and that should be a valid concern,” Morgan said. “If the proper infrastructure is set up for the data to be collected that is fair, that is transparent . . . that is supported with parental involvement, I think we’re moving in the right direction.”
James acknowledged that the topic of race-based data could cause discomfort in some people. But race and other elements of a person’s background are an important part of who they are, he said.
“There’s a sense that we don’t see race, but, at the same time, we do see race,” James added. “Sometimes people think to see race is to be racist (but) to see race is . . . just to understand that it’s part of the person.”
The union representing Ontario’s public elementary school teachers wants the name of Canada’s first prime minister to be removed from schools in the province.
The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario passed a motion at its annual meeting last week calling on all school districts in Ontario to rename schools and buildings named after Sir John A. Macdonald.
The union says it wants the name change because of what it calls Macdonald’s role as the “architect of genocide against Indigenous Peoples.”
Macdonald was prime minister during the time the federal government approved the first residential schools in the country.
The ETFO’s call comes after a student-led campaign at Toronto’s Ryerson University last month pushed for the school to change its name out of respect for residential school survivors.
The downtown university is named for Egerton Ryerson, a pioneer of public education in Ontario who is widely believed to have helped shape residential school policy through his ideas on education for Indigenous children.
And in June, the name of founding father Hector-Louis Langevin was stripped from the building that houses the Prime Minister’s Office on Parliament Hill. Langevin argued for a separate school system with a specific mandate to assimilate Indigenous children.
A volunteer Toronto orchestra program will dissolve after members called the company out for body-shaming.
The management of Sheraton Cadwell, an organization that provides entertainment for weddings, corporate functions and events, forwarded an email to its members to the Star on Thursday stating that they had resigned, and that funding for the orchestra would cease. No names were attached to the email.
“We sincerely apologize for any embarrassment/harassment that you may experience from media representatives or other individuals/parties as a result of misconstrued/malicious allegations and extremely negative/destructive/evil intent,” part of the email states.
The announcement comes days after members received an email asking performers who are not “fit and slim” to dress more modestly.
“It has been brought to our attention that, although almost all of our vocalists are fit and slim, the way our boutique orchestras would like our front-line performing artists to be, two of our featured singers were not,” part of the email, also signed only “The Management,” reads.
The first email, sent Monday, asked the performers who do not fit their preferred physical description to wear “less physically accentuating” dresses.
“If you look good, we do, too,” the email reads.
The email goes on to say that, in the future, only physically fit singers would be showcased in their boutique orchestras.
Victoria Leone, a vocalist who received the email, quit as a volunteer for the organization after contacting the orchestra asking for an apology. Instead, she received the same email back with emphasis added to some paragraphs, and a short apology later.
Leone was surprised and disappointed to later learn that the organization would dissolve.
“Shutting down the organization was never the intent from any of the girls who’ve spoken out on the body-shaming email,” Leone told the Star. A sincere apology, she said, was all they were looking for.
“I think it is important for people in the community to understand that appearance does not define our worth or talent,” Leone said.
She said the email was especially disappointing as it was directed at singers who had volunteered their time to the organization, for events that were aimed at raising money for charity.
“It’s disappointing to hear that a charity would feel the need to shame any of their talented volunteers,” she said.
Sheraton Cadwell did not respond to questions about the intention of the original email.
OTTAWA—Judy Foote, a former broadcaster and provincial and federal politician, took short breaks from work for breast cancer treatment 20 years ago and again three years ago before the 2015 election.
“The reality is when something happens to you, you’re able to deal with it and you just keep going, and that’s what I did,” she said at a new conference in St. John’s to announce her resignation from Justin Trudeau’s cabinet.
“When it hits your children, it’s a totally different ball game.”
Foote, 65, revealed she is a carrier of BRCA-2, a breast cancer gene that she has passed onto her children and which makes one susceptible to other cancers as well.
She didn’t say which of the three now faces the same struggle, but her two daughters and son, along with husband Howard and several grandchildren surrounded her as she said: “I continue to be, as far as I know, cancer-free.” For now, she added, “my children are well. But it is an eye-opener and puts things in perspective.”
Foote had stepped aside temporarily in April to help her family deal with its latest health crisis. Since then, her sprawling departmental duties – which include massive computer problems with the federal pay system and overseeing beleaguered military procurement projects – have been handled by colleague Jim Carr, the natural resources minister. But her departure leaves a big vacancy and provides an opportunity for the government to refresh its ranks.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to make what several sources said would be a minor cabinet shuffle, probably next week. He is on the road to southern Ontario for the next two days and on Sunday, the prime minister and chief of defence staff, Gen. Jonathon Vance, are expected to march in Ottawa’s Pride Parade.
Trudeau posted a statement to his Twitter account, hailing the woman who sat at his right hand in the House of Commons for the past two years and who served her province “with love and dedication.”
“We’ll all miss her immensely.”
While the Liberals were in Opposition, Trudeau had entrusted Foote, his caucus whip, with an internal investigation into sexual harassment allegations in 2014 made by two female NDP MPs against two male Liberal MPs. When the Liberals came to power, he handed her the unglamourous and onerous job of running a key central agency.
Foote said she was quitting now, two weeks before a cabinet retreat in advance of Parliament resuming next month because “the province needs representation in cabinet and to serve effectively requires being at the table.” She said Trudeau has a “soft spot” for Newfoundland and Labrador, suggesting the province would continue to have a seat at the table.
Two other Newfoundlanders who are often suggested as likely candidates for a promotion into cabinet, perhaps in a more junior role, are: 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.
One source said the prime minister is not looking at a major shuffle at this time because while there “may have been some communications issues here and there, at the end of the day everybody is doing a good job in terms of fulfilling their mandates.”
However, even a minor shift in roles could entail other cabinet movements or splits in unwieldy cabinet duties.
For now, Foote remains the Bonavista-Burin-Trinity MP. She intends to resign her seat within weeks after she says goodbye to constituents, which will trigger a by-election in what is a Liberal stronghold.
Foote entered federal politics in 2008 after several years as a provincial cabinet minister and a past senior aide to former Newfoundland premier Clyde Wells. She was a provincial cabinet minister in governments led by Brian Tobin and Roger Grimes.
“The jobs that I’ve had have required me to be on the road and I’ve done that despite having cancer twice,” she said.
Through those battles, her family never suggested “that I should give up jobs I love, the life that I love. But you know more than the jobs and the life, I love my family. So this decision is ours. It’s my decision to be with them, where I need to be and where they need me to be.”
For the second time in just over a month, the Toronto Police Service is under fire for failing to report a case of a seriously injured young Black man to Ontario’s police watchdog.
The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) announced Wednesday that it was charging Const. Joseph Dropuljic with assault in the case of a man in North York in November 2015. The man was 23 at the time. None of the allegations against Dropuljic has been proven in court. His first court appearance is Sept. 7.
The SIU also revealed it was only notified of the case nearly a year after the alleged assault — and not by police, despite the law being clear that police forces have a duty to report cases of serious injury to the SIU.
The young man is now 25 and asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals. He told reporters at a news conference on Thursday that he was getting into a taxi to visit a friend on a Saturday night when Toronto police officers dragged him out of the cab, kneed him in the back, beat him, illegally searched and groped him, and dragged him toward a police cruiser.
He said he lost consciousness at one point, and was left with a concussion and mental trauma.
The officers told him they were responding to a report of gunfire in the area, he said, but refused to take him up on his offer to follow him into his apartment building so he could retrieve his ID. He said they insisted on searching him for a firearm — he said Thursday he did not have one on him — without reading him his constitutional rights.
“It’s something I would say constantly plays over again in my mind,” he said, pausing at times. “It’s haunting . . . I just try to keep it all together, keep strong.”
Only when his mother came out, and eventually retrieved his ID, did the officers leave him alone, the man said. Although he was handcuffed, he was not charged with an offence. His mother called an ambulance and he was taken to the hospital.
In the months after the incident, the man said reports of Black men being beaten and killed by police made him want to be “proactive,” and he went to the African Canadian Legal Clinic to tell his story. They in turn reported it to another police oversight agency, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director.
The executive director of the legal clinic said Thursday that the OIPRD decided to notify the SIU, which has the power to lay criminal charges and investigates cases of police-involved death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault.
“When discussing the brutality that African Canadians experience at the hands of the Toronto Police Service, we are no longer alarmed, but angry,” clinic executive director Margaret Parsons said Thursday.
“The Black community is fed up with racial profiling, we’re fed up with police brutality, we’re fed up with police shootings, and we’re fed up with police violence.”
Neither Dropuljic nor the union president, Mike McCormack, responded to a request for comment Thursday.
The assault allegation follows charges of aggravated assault, assault with a weapon and public mischief laid by the SIU last month against Toronto police Const. Michael Theriault and his brother, Christian Theriault, in the beating of 19-year-old Dafonte Miller in Whitby in December 2016. Theriault was off-duty at the time.
Durham regional police had responded to the scene and ended up charging only Miller, but those charges were later withdrawn by the Crown. Like the Dropuljic case, the SIU was not notified immediately of Miller’s injuries, but only six months later when contacted by Miller’s lawyer.
That case sparked a back-and-forth between Toronto police and Durham police about the responsibility for SIU notification, and also raised questions about the duty to notify when the officer involved is off-duty.
It has led to ongoing internal reviews being conducted by both forces. The Toronto police review is being conducted by Waterloo regional police at the request of Chief Mark Saunders, while Durham’s police chief has not made clear if his force’s review will be made public.
Unlike the Miller case, the officers involved in the North York incident were on duty, and no other police force was involved. Saunders had little to say about it Thursday after a police services board meeting, where many members of the public attended with signs in support of Miller.
“You're talking about allegations right now and here you go with the court of public opinion again,” Saunders told reporters. “This officer is given his opportunity to be heard in the courtroom, with evidence, and in order for the integrity of that case to go before the courts properly, I have to be cautious about what I say at this point in time.”
He went on to say that “there are moments when things may come across as needing to be explored better,” and said this case is an example where a police oversight body “has obviously exercised their rights and authorities.”
“This young man was not known to the police, and had no criminal antecedents,” said clinic staff lawyer, Lavinia Latham.
The man “100 per cent believes” that he was racially profiled and told reporters he has been carded several times in the past — referring to the police practice of stopping individuals and asking them for their information without charging them with a crime, and which data show disproportionately affects Black men.
He said he was never told the reason for the officers’ attempt at arresting him that night in 2015, and that he was called a “f------ idiot” and told to “shut the f--- up” when he asked, according to a summary of the allegations provided by the clinic.
When his mother arrived with his passport, he said, Dropuljic searched his name in a police database, and when nothing came up, the man said he was told “Get the f--- out of my car,” according to the summary.
After the ambulance arrived, the man said he noticed the police officers going into the security office of his apartment building where the video surveillance is kept.
“It’s a feeling you can’t explain, I would say helplessness,” the man told reporters of his encounter with police. “I couldn’t do anything to stop what was transpiring. . . . Since that day, I can’t explain the emotions. A lot of sadness, a lot of pain.”
With files from Wendy Gillis
With files from Wendy Gillis
In the depths of the Don Valley runs an abandoned railway track.
Over a nearby hill on the west side of the Rosedale Ravine Lands and Riverdale Farm, which sprawl parallel to the valley and its parkway, once lived 49-year-old Andrew Kinsman, who hasn’t been seen since June and one of at least two missing men from Toronto’s LGBTQ community.
On Thursday, a group of seven of his friends and strangers took to the largely-uncharted corridor of the valley to continue his search.
They came up empty.
There are only two ways onto the section of the overgrown track they pushed through.
The first runs through an off-limits construction site along the active GO and Via rail lines. The second runs through a ripped-open slit in the fence and up a small hill from the bike paths of the valley.
It is secluded and high, running above the frequently trekked paths below.
Along it, the only sign of human activity is its old, crumbling graffiti.
The track is too densely forested for cyclists. When it runs over the river, it opens in foot-wide gaps to the water below.
The forest off of it is steep and without a path down to the valley trail. If someone were to find what’s left of the tracks and fall or twist an ankle, they’d be alone.
Greg Downer, an LGBTQ community organizer, found this part of the valley by accident when he noticed it was a dark spot on Google Earth’s street view.
“It’s completely independent in the middle of nowhere,” Downer said, a two-metre extendable pole in his hand to help clear away the brush. “I asked the folks who’d been doing other searches if this was an area that anyone was familiar with and like myself no one knew it existed because from down there nobody can see it.”
Kinsman was last seen June 26 at 71 Winchester St., near Carlton and Parliament Sts., where he worked as the superintendant for the building. Police said a “dedicated team” is focused on finding Kinsman and another missing man Selim Esen, 44, who was last seen April 14.
“At least if we find (Kinsman) we can bring this to a conclusion,” Downer said. “I haven’t lost hope. That’s why I’m here. We need to be looking near wooded areas over water.”
Connie Crosby, who participates in Toronto’s People with AIDS Foundation bike rally every year, shared mutual friends with Kinsman, a frequent volunteer for the foundation.
“Everybody is very concerned about him and what’s happened to him and I felt quite compelled to come out and give a hand,” Crosby said.
She joined Downer with her friend Heather Williams, who wasn’t familiar with Kinsman’s story until she saw a Facebook post about his case.
They wore bug spray and pushed aside the brush with broomsticks.
“If it was me and it was my loved one I would certainly want to know that people were out there helping me know that someone isn’t in this particular area and just kind of moving that forward so that they have a little more confidence that everything has been done that could be done in terms of searching locally,” Williams said.
“I couldn’t really think of anything better to do with a few hours of my time today than to put them towards helping somebody who is looking for a lost loved one.”
By day’s end, they were unsuccessful. But they weren’t defeated.
Downer vows to continue his search down other sections of the old tracks that run off of the main Don Valley trail.
“Unfortunately we didn’t turn anything up today but more trails need to be searched,” he said.
A group of Toronto public officials petitioned the provincial government on Thursday to file an injunction to block the “disturbing anti-abortion images” that are increasingly appearing on posters and flyers in the city.
The letter is addressed to attorney general Yasir Naqvi, and backed by Toronto-Danforth MPP Peter Tabuns, Toronto District School Board trustee Jennifer Story, and city councillors Paula Fletcher and Mary Fragedakis.
In it, the quartet joined city councillor Sarah Doucette in criticizing the use of “horrifying images by an anti-abortion group, the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform.”
“I think it’s important because of the impact it’s having on my community. People are horrified, they’re traumatized, they’re worried about their children,” Tabuns said in an interview.
“We’re in a society where free speech is guaranteed and I’m very glad of that but putting out images that are so horrendous is not something that is responsible.”
CCBR spokesperson Devorah Gilman says the group has distributed hundreds of thousands of flyers to mailboxes in order to “answer questions and provide information.” The group also has members carry graphic billboards at busy intersections.
“We do this where there’s going to be foot traffic, where there are teenagers, adults, where we can be having conversations with those who might be considering abortion or know someone who might be considering abortion and we show the pictures,” Gilman said.
But Tabuns says enough’s enough.
“I think the attorney general has the power, the authority, and I think the responsibility, to protect the community from these really grisly, graphic images of chopped up fetuses,” he said. “People are just outraged that these images could be used in this way in what they perceive as an assault on them.”
The office of the attorney general did not immediately return a request for comment.
The attorney general can seek an injunction against “public nuisances” when they become so widespread that “it would not be reasonable to expect one person to take proceedings on his own responsibility to put a stop to it, but that it should be taken on the responsibility of the community at large,” according to Lori Sterling and Heather Mackay in the Queen’s Law Journal.
“Although we object to the message and the misleading information on the flyers we understand that freedom of speech is protected and we don’t ask for prohibition of the message,” Tabuns wrote, adding that many in his community have complained that children or pregnant women find the images in their mailboxes.
“Our concern is to protect children and adults who would be traumatized by distribution or display of these images.”
Metrolinx’s next president and CEO is the former managing director of a Scottish rail firm who resigned amid controversy earlier this year.
The provincial transit agency announced Phil Verster’s appointment at a scheduled news conference at its offices in Union Station on Thursday afternoon, shortly after the Star revealed that he’d been given the post.
Introducing Verster to the media, Metrolinx board chair Rob Prichard said that the 54-year-old South Africa native has the experience and skills necessary to take the helm of the agency as it undergoes a major shift from merely planning transit to consolidating itself as a major builder and operator of rail lines.
“There are few people in the transit and rail industry with the know-how, experience, and skills to drive transformation and maintain service at the same time. Phil Verster is one of them,” Prichard said.
“He has done exactly what Metrolinx needs to do now.”
Verster’s appointment is for a three-year, renewable term, which starts October 1. He will make an annual salary of $479,000.
He takes charge of Metrolinx as the agency is in the midst of a massive, $13.5-billion project to expand and electrify GO Transit, and quadruple the number of trips on the regional rail service to 6,000 a week by 2025.
The agency is also in charge of building new light rail lines in Toronto, Hamilton, and Mississauga.
“This is an exciting time to think about how we continue to change our organization,” said Verster, who is an engineer by training.
He said he considered the CEO job a “fantastic opportunity” to “help with something that is going to transform the transit works in our area for years to come.”
Media reports from Britain and Ireland, where Verster has spent more than a decade in leadership roles at various rail agencies, describe him as a respected figure in the industry.
In 2015, he became managing director of ScotRail Alliance, the operator of Scotland’s passenger rail service. While there he oversaw a $3-billion electrification of the agency’s network.
In January, however, he resigned after just 18 months on the job. The BBC reported that he had been “facing intense pressure” for the agency’s “failure to meet punctuality and reliability targets.”
Two months before his resignation, Network Rail, which oversees rail operation in Britain, hired an outside agency to probe allegations that he had improperly accepted gifts and hospitality from contractors.
On Thursday, Verster told reporters that the third party audit “found absolutely no evidence” to support the allegations, which were made by an anonymous whistleblower.
He acknowledged that ScotRail’s reliability had fallen below target, but said that he put a recovery plan in place that fixed the problem.
As head of Metrolinx, Verster will be taking charge of a less busy agency. ScotRail’s annual ridership is about 93.2 million, while GO Transit, Metrolinx’s main passenger service, carries 69.5 million a year.
He replaces Bruce McCuaig, who stepped down in April after nearly seven years at Metrolinx. McCuaig was a veteran bureaucrat who before becoming Merolinx CEO served three years as deputy transportation minister in Dalton McGuinty’s government.
Opposition MPs said Thursday they were encouraged that Metrolinx had selected a new leader who has experience running a rail agency and isn’t connected to Ontario’s governing party.
“I’m hopeful that this new CEO focuses on his mandate to deliver Metrolinx’s core objectives, and not (Premier) Kathleen Wynne’s political agenda,” said Michael Harris, transportation critic for the Ontario PC Party.
Harris declined to criticize Verster for past controversies at ScotRail, saying only that he hoped Verster had “learned from” the experience.
After resigning the Scottish agency, Verster spent several months overseeing the East West Rail project, a new line that will link Oxford and Cambridge.
Prior to his time at ScotRail, he served as the managing director of Network Rail’s London North East service for three-and-a-half years. Before that he was deputy CEO of Irish Rail.
Canadian lawyers acting for the widow of an American special forces soldier have filed an application in Alberta — essentially duplicating one filed earlier in Ontario — seeking enforcement of a massive U.S. damages award against former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr.
The claim calls on the Court of Queen’s Bench to recognize the judgment from Utah, and to issue a “corresponding” judgment in the amount of $173.88 million — the Canadian value of the $132.1-million American award made in June 2015.
“Given that Canada has substantially similar legislation in relation to civil actions for victims of terrorism, it is entirely consistent with the fundamental public policy of Canada to enforce the U.S. judgment,” the notice states. “There are no defences to enforcement and recognition that operate in favour of the defendant in this case.”
According to the notice, bringing the Alberta action in parallel with the Ontario case is proper “given the territorial limitations of the respective judgment-enforcement regimes.”
Calgary-based lawyer Dan Gilborn refused to discuss the proceedings on Thursday, saying his office was not authorized to comment.
While the Alberta action was filed in early July amid word that the federal government was paying Khadr $10.5 million to settle a civil lawsuit, the lawyers acting for the Americans said they were having trouble serving notice on him.
“We have thus far been unable to locate Mr. Khadr for personal service, although we are aware that he has been residing in Edmonton, Alta., for much of the past two years,” Gilborn wrote Aug. 14 in a letter to Khadr’s lawyers, a copy of which was obtained by The Canadian Press.
One of Khadr’s Edmonton-based lawyers, Nate Whitling, said on Thursday that it would be a waste of time and money to try two identical actions at once.
“It’s two duplicative actions and there’s no point in proceeding with both of them,” Whitling said from Edmonton.
He also said the Alberta action had been filed too late.
Both actions — the Ontario one was filed June 8 — are on behalf of relatives of U.S. special forces Sgt. Chris Speer, who was killed in Afghanistan in July 2002.
Speer had been part of a massive American assault on an insurgent compound, where Khadr, then 15 years old, was captured badly wounded. Retired U.S. sergeant Layne Morris, who was blinded in one eye during the same operation, is a co-applicant.
The applications — like the uncontested civil suit in Utah — lean heavily on Khadr’s guilty plea before a widely discredited military commission in Guantanamo Bay in 2010 to having thrown the grenades that killed Speer and blinded Morris. Khadr later said his confession to five purported war crimes was his only way out of the infamous prison and to return to Canada.
Khadr, 30, who recently got married, has been on bail in Edmonton for the past two years pending his appeal in the U.S. of his commission convictions.
The Americans failed last month to get an injunction freezing Khadr’s assets — including the $10.5-million sources said the federal government paid him — pending outcome of the Ontario enforcement action.
However, in previous Ontario filings, Whitling argued against enforcement of the Utah judgment given its reliance on the military commission. Canadian courts are statute barred from enforcing foreign judgments that offend Canada’s public policy, he noted, and the Supreme Court has found the Guantanamo system contrary to Canadians’ concept of justice.
“Officials at the highest levels of the Canadian government have already stated . . . that (Khadr’s) detention and prosecution in GTMO offended our most basic values and principles,” Whitling said in court filings.
Canada’s political summer is ending as it began — with talk of multimillion-dollar payouts to highly controversial characters.
Mike Duffy is not Omar Khadr, but the senator and former journalist also wants to be compensated for how he was treated by his own government and let down by the Canadian legal system.
He’s suing the Senate and RCMP for $7.8 million in lost income and damages and, like Khadr, is making a case — quite possibly a convincing one — that his basic rights as a citizen were trampled by base, crass politics.
Get ready, then, for another polarizing, national argument over the price of politicizing the country’s justice system. Such debates have been the bookends for the summer of 2017, and probably should leave us with lingering questions about where political interference has played havoc with law and order. This isn’t happening in some other country — it happened in Canada.
At the beginning of July, Canadians were locked in fierce debate over whether Khadr, the former child soldier and prisoner at Guantanamo, was owed a $10-million settlement for successive, Liberal and Conservative governments’ failure to protect his legal rights.
As August winds down, the public can now argue over whether Duffy is owed compensation for his descent into political infamy, which started in 2013 and carried on right to his total exoneration in April 2016.
In both cases, the men have powerful court rulings on their side, which may not quiet the critics, but definitely tilt the balance in their favour.
Duffy, according to Justice Charles Vaillancourt’s ruling 18 months ago, was the victim of a “mind-boggling and shocking” abuse in the democratic system. The abuse started at the top, specifically Stephen Harper’s PMO, which appears to have turned Duffy into political roadkill — with the help of a spineless RCMP and Senate — to quell a fuss over expenses in the red chamber. The whole sorry tale is recapped in the 50-page statement of claim filed with Ontario Superior Court on Thursday, with colourful descriptions of political treachery: “forced scenario” and “mistake-repay strategy,” for instance.
The Prime Minister’s Office, under new management since late 2015, is not being sued by Duffy, but the Senate and the RCMP are. The lawsuit, and Duffy’s lawyer, Lawrence Greenspon, mince no words in alleging that the national police force went after a Canadian citizen to suit a political agenda. That’s not a trifling accusation; we tend to assume that this is the kind of thing that happens in political thrillers or banana republics.
But Greenspon was pretty clear at his press conference on Thursday. “When the RCMP are perceived to have been taking their marching orders from the Prime Minister’s Office and/or the Senate, that’s a very dangerous road for the RCMP to be going down.”
Duffy, the journalist, was not known for his discretion. But in his more recent role as disgraced-then-vindicated senator, he has been extremely and uncharacteristically quiet since his trial ended in 2016. No whispered asides to his old journalist friends; no big leaks of his plans for revenge.
The longer he remained silent, in fact, the more that people suspected that something was up; that the “ol’ Duff,” as he liked to call himself, was amassing a case against those who had wronged him.
“It also took me a long time to draft up a 50-page statement of claim. My goodness, it’s one of the longer ones I’ve ever done, I’ve got to say,” Greenspon told reporters.
Apart from everything else, that statement is also the first real, personal glimpse we’ve had into how Duffy has been doing since his legal troubles began.
His former lawyer, Donald Bayne, had said he feared for his client’s life throughout the legal ordeal. The statement lays out the medical details: a second round of open-heart surgery (which the statement describes as “extensive and significant”); depression; severe anxiety; insomnia; and a worsening of his diabetes, specifically, a loss of vision.
As Duffy’s new lawyer put it at the press conference on Thursday, his client “near died” from the stress. Being an enemy of the state is a dangerous condition.
There is one big difference between Duffy and Khadr: Duffy’s troubles began when he got too friendly with the government; Khadr when he got involved with an enemy abroad. But both found out what happens when a citizen becomes politically inconvenient to the PMO.
It’s said that the real test of commitment to basic rights is whether we can defend them for people we don’t like. In the case of Khadr and Duffy, the top politicians in Canada failed the test, but that doesn’t mean citizens have to do the same.
As activists and members of the public crammed into the Toronto police auditorium and into an overflow room, the Toronto police board met Thursday amidst raucous chants and calls for board members to resign — including over the divisive question of police officer presence in some city high schools.
Toronto police’s three dozen School Resource Officers (SROs) are poised to return to class alongside students in the coming weeks, something vocal members of the public gallery denounced as the civilian board opted to keep cops in schools during a proposed yearlong review.
Police Chief Mark Saunders presented a plan to the board to have Ryerson University perform an $80,000 review of the nearly decade-old program, following recent heated controversy over the presence of armed, uniform officers in schools.
Despite a board motion in June to conduct a review by year’s end, Saunders’ proposed Ryerson review would not be completed for another academic school year.
Critics of the program, which was instituted after the 2007 school shooting death of Jordan Manners, say the presence of police in schools has a significant detrimental effect on students and must be halted immediately.
Opponents say racialized youth in particular feel harassed and surveilled, that the involvement of police creates a “school to prison pipeline,” and that undocumented students are threatened by officers inquiring about their citizenship status, in contravention of both Toronto school boards’ “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy.
Proponents, meanwhile, say the officers make a positive impact coaching basketball, co-ordinating extracurricular events, and preventing incidents between students.
Gita Madan, with the group Education Not Incarceration, criticized the police participation in a process intended to be arms-length. She noted Chief Mark Saunders, board chair Andy Pringle and another board member will form a steering committee to oversee the review.
“To be clear, this is not an independent review, as you state. This is police investigating police. And everyone in this room knows what happens when you have police evaluating police,” Madan said in a deputation to the board.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Saunders said the goal of the SRO program is relationship-building, not enforcement — “my men and women don’t go in there lurking the hallways, looking to apprehend people,” he said.
The chief said he would “refocus” with his officers before they go back into the schools next month — “all eyes are on them” — and stress that they should not be conducting immigration status checks, though he denied that has been happening outside of a criminal investigation.
Asked about the increasingly adversarial nature of the board meetings — recent months have seen frequent disruptions and shouting matches between the public and board members — Saunders said: “You know, just because you scream loud doesn’t mean you’re accurate.”
Mayor John Tory, too, commented on recent divisiveness.
“It is certainly an awkward position and one I find very puzzling when people will come to a meeting and absolutely no point of view, no perspective other than their own is acceptable to them. And they question the legitimacy of reviewing something — you should ‘just abolish it.’”
In the wake of raucous meetings, armed Toronto police officers have been stationed inside the police auditorium and outside its doors. As of last month, members of the public have also had to pass through security to enter police headquarters at 40 College St., undergoing a bag search and metal detector.
“What you are seeing in this room today,” activist and freelance journalist Desmond Cole said in a deputation to the board, “is the militarization of a public space so that you and I will not come here and talk about police in our schools.”
Some members of the public attending Thursday’s meeting held up signs saying “We’re here for Dafonte,” in reference to the severe beating of Black teen Dafonte Miller.
Miller, 19, suffered severe facial injuries after he was allegedly beaten by off-duty Toronto police officer Michael Theriault and his brother, Christian, during the December 2016 incident. The brothers are now charged with aggravated assault, assault with a weapon and public mischief.
The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), which probes deaths and serious injuries involving police, was not notified until months later — and then only by Miller’s lawyer — prompting accusations of a deliberate coverup by police to protect the Theriault brothers, whose father is a long-time Toronto police officer.
Saunders has denied allegations of a coverup.
Madan, one of the speakers against the SRO program, said what happened to Miller is “directly related to why we refuse the presence of police officers in our schools.”
“It is this context in which the SRO program exists. It does not exist in a bubble separate from what’s going on in the street.”
Wendy Gillis can be reached at email@example.com
OTTAWA—Mike Duffy, the Senate and the RCMP are heading back to court with the senator seeking more than $7.8 million in damages stemming from the high-profile investigation, suspension and court case about his expenses.
Duffy filed a claim in Ontario Superior Court on Thursday that alleges his 2013 suspension by the Senate was unconstitutional and a violation of his charter rights and that the federal government is liable for the RCMP’s alleged negligence in its investigation.
The claim alleges the combined actions almost brought Duffy to the brink of death and inflicted irreparable harm to his reputation, which will forever be linked to the Senate spending scandal and the political coverup that accompanied questions about his spending.
In a statement, Duffy said he, his family, and other senators who were “unfairly targeted” have suffered stress and serious financial damage and the Senate has shown no interest in correcting what he called its unjustified actions against him.
“My civil action raises questions which go to the heart of our democracy,” the 71-year-old said in his statement.
“If this action succeeds in bringing charter protections to all who work on Parliament Hill, this will be my greatest contribution to public life.”
The Prince Edward Island senator landed in trouble in late 2012 when questions were first raised about housing expenses claimed against a home he had lived in for years before he was appointed to the Senate.
In October 2013, the Senate suspended him without pay for two years. Duffy’s claim calls the decision “an unprecedented abuse of power” taken in the absence of any criminal charges. Those charges wouldn’t arrive until July 2014, when the RCMP filed 31 counts of fraud, breach of trust and bribery against him.
In April 2016, Ontario Court Justice Charles Vaillancourt dismissed all the charges in a lengthy and dramatic ruling that said Duffy’s claims weren’t illegal,and that Duffy was forced to take a $90,000 payment from Nigel Wright, Stephen Harper’s then chief of staff, to pay off his politically problematic housing expenses, even though Duffy contended he had done nothing wrong.
References to Wright, Harper and the previous Conservative government pepper Duffy’s 50-page claim, but they are not targets of his lawsuit. Duffy’s lawyer Lawrence Greenspon said it was the decision of the Senate to suspend Duffy that caused the ultimate harm, even if the Prime Minister’s Office influenced the outcome.
“If the people of Canada want to put some blame for why this is happening, I think they should direct it to the top,” Greenspon said.
Greenspon said RCMP investigators failed to give Duffy a chance to respond to the allegations he faced and appeared to ignore evidence that would have proved his innocence. The claim also alleges that the force decided to go after Duffy because he was a higher-profile target than Wright and that charging Wright could have weakened the case against Duffy.
Greenspon said Duffy should have never been charged and that the actions of the RCMP and the Senate “ruined his life.”
Since then, the Senate has denied Duffy’s requests for help covering legal fees or refunding the approximately $300,000 in salary he lost during his suspension. The Senate also clawed back $16,995 from his salary for seven expense claims Senate officials decided after trial shouldn’t have approved in the first place.
“We have someone who has been through the public grinder and been through the criminal courts and despite all of that, the Senate still refuses to try in any way to make this man whole,” said Greenspon.
The Senate and government must now file a statement of defence to respond to Duffy’s claims as part of a legal process that could take from two to five years, depending on whether the case goes to trial or is settled out of court.
The Senate’s interim law clerk Jacqueline Kuehl said the upper chamber will not be commenting on the case until it is appropriate to do so.
“As this is a matter before the courts, we will respect the process,” she said.
The government has yet to respond to a request for comment.
PETERBOROUGH, ONT.—The wife of a man in a dramatic video that showed a 74-year-old cyclist being beaten with a club before bystanders intervened to stop the bloody altercation said, “it’s not what it looks like at all.”
David Fox, 65, is charged with aggravated assault and assault with a weapon. Fox did not appear Thursday when the matter was addressed for the first time in court. He was represented by his lawyer John Whelton.
The case was put over until Sept. 22.
A video taken by a bystander on July 18 shows the cyclist on the ground with his attacker on top of him, striking him over and over in the head and torso. It shows the attacker stopping when witnesses approached and intervened.
The victim was bleeding profusely from his head after he got up.
When the woman who recorded the video approached the attacker, he said in his defence that “I tried to walk away.”
The victim’s bike was lying on the street, beside the attacker’s truck.
Additional witnesses tried to keep the driver in the area until police arrived but he drove off in his truck.
The victim was treated and released from Peterborough Regional Hospital. Police said the two men did not know each other.
“I’ll tell you one thing, it’s not what it looks like at all,” said Fox’s wife, Sandra, outside her house, when approached by the Star. “All everybody caught was the last two minutes of it, not how it started or why it started.”
A man in his 20s is dead following a shooting at an apartment complex in Mississauga Saturday morning as police continue to hunt for two suspects.
Peel Regional officers responded to the scene near The Collegeway and Ridgeway Dr. shortly before 8 a.m. with several units, including police dogs, where they found one victim suffering from gunshot wounds.
He was pronounced dead at the scene by Emergency Medical Services.
Const. Bancroft Wright said police are now looking for two suspects — a man and a woman — last seen in a white SUV heading east on The Collegeway.
The victim was not the only one in the immediate area when the man was shot, but no one else was hurt, said Wright. Those witnesses are being interviewed.
Officers are working on contacting the victim’s next-of-kin before releasing his name.
Wright said it is “tough to say,” if the shooting was targeted, or if the victim and suspects knew each other, but “it doesn’t appear to be a random-type act.”
Incidents like these are “something that shakes the community deeply,” said Wright, adding he is very familiar with the area and has personally attended back-to-school festivities they hold around this time of year in the complex.
Despite the shooting, he said improvements are being made in the community to “make the environment better for everyone.”
“It’s been a 10-fold increase as far as residents coming out and sharing information with the community and with the police,” Wright said. “I can speak from my own testimony that I’ve seen the difference in the community the last, say, six to seven years.”
Homicide officers are now investigating the fatal shooting. Anyone with information is asked to contact police.
Naum Shagas doesn’t have much.
His studio apartment in North York, no more than 20-by-18 feet, is where he spends most of his time alone. It’s furnished entirely through donations and he sometimes has to put up with cockroaches.
Four hot meals are delivered to the 82-year-old’s door throughout the week and he picks up three additional meals, prepared for him free of charge, at the Bernard Betel Centre, a non-profit community centre for the elderly. Sometimes he’ll eat a slice of bread he bought on his own or drink a cup of tea to supplement his diet.
His wardrobe consists mainly of clothing he purchased decades ago in Minsk, where he worked as a physician for 36 years. But with no pension, he lives on just $400 a month.
It’s not the first time Shagas has had to struggle survive.
“I still have flashbacks, especially coming back now, of how my mother and older sister were running away and trying to escape the Germans,” Shagas said through a translator in his native Russian.
Shagas is a Holocaust survivor who lives in poverty in Toronto.
And while his situation is far from unique in Canada, it’s a problem few have heard about, even in the Jewish community.
Of roughly 17,000 Holocaust survivors living in Canada, about one quarter live in poverty, including more than 2,000 in Toronto. Survivors are twice as likely as other Canadian seniors to be poor, according to a 2016 study.
“These people have suffered,” said Pinchas Gutter, a Holocaust survivor and chair of Jewish Family and Child Service’s Holocaust Advisory Committee, which looks after “needy survivors” in the community.
“Now in their later years, they have to come and put their hands out and say ‘please.’ It hurts me.”
Shagas moved to Canada in 2009 when he was 74. Born in the former Soviet Union, he was six years old in 1941 when the Nazis came for the Jews in his hometown of Klintsy, which is today located in western Russia. His father was drafted to the army just before the war began and he never saw him again.
The Nazis forced Shagas, his mother and older sister onto a packed cattle car that took them to a Shadrinsk, a village where they spent the rest of the war. His mother fell ill during those years and Shagas and his sister lived in an orphanage, where they and other children were always starving.
He recalled a woman once giving him a cup of milk and piece of bread, “the most delicious food I ever had.”
Today, Shagas’s living conditions remind him of his suffering as a child. He says he’s getting used to life in poverty, but never imagined he’d have to relive that hunger.
“I didn’t think it would come to it,” Shagas said. “It’s actually really painful to go through this. I often think about the past when we were starving.”
His family moved back home after the war ended and Shagas overcame lingering anti-Semitism to get into a medical school. He married, had a daughter and became head of his department at a local hospital.
Shagas settled in Israel in 1997 when he was 62, two years after his wife died of cancer. He spent 12 years there working as a personal support worker.
He then joined his daughter in Canada, who sponsored him, and lived with her family. But wanting to live independently, Shagas moved out three years later, and was accepted into Toronto Community Housing.
Now he survives on $400 a month from his daughter. His rent is $150, and the rest goes to over-the-counter medications, internet, the occasional TTC trip to see his doctor and whatever remaining groceries he can afford.
Shagas won’t be eligible for Old Age Security benefits until he reaches the 10-year mark in Canada, which is still two years away. He received social assistance in Israel, but his part-time job didn’t earn him a pension. Despite his 36 years of work as a physician, he says he gets nothing from Belarus.
“In the same way that poverty is multi-factorial and very complex, so have been the lives of Holocaust survivors who have suffered incredible trauma,” said Sandi Pelly, United Jewish Appeal Federation of Greater Toronto’s director of capacity building for the social services.
“Many of them have immigrated two, three or more times and they face many challenges. While some Holocaust survivors fared very well if they immigrated early, others not so well, and have varying health challenges, physical challenges, emotional challenges.”
In other countries, like Israel, about 25 per cent of survivors also live in poverty. In the U.S., that number is about one-third.
“When the survivors came to Canada, we were about 45,000,” said Hank Rosenbaum, co-president of Canadian Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants. “Some Holocaust survivors were affected badly from the war. They came here, a strange country, they went to work and they were not successful. They’re hardworking people, however they did not accumulate any wealth for their senior years.”
It’s an issue that’s only come to the attention of some Jewish organizations in the last few years, according to Nancy Singer, executive director of the Kehilla Residential Programme, the UJA Federation’s housing agency.
“We were in shock. We didn’t know that,” Singer said. “Our first reaction was ‘we have to do something, now, immediately, because the clock is ticking.’”
Kehilla, which operates a rent-assistance program for the Jewish community, launched a new program earlier this year specifically catered to survivors. Backed by an $800,000 donation by the Azrieli Foundation for three years, Kehilla will provide up to $300 per month in rent assistance for 100 survivors.
“Survivors are precious, they are the keepers of memories that will be lost forever when they’re gone,” said Naomi Azrieli, chair and CEO of the foundation. “After the experiences they’ve had, they deserve to be treated with dignity.”
Azrieli said her foundation is working with community organizations across the country to help to offset funding shortfalls, and cover expenses like dental and medical fees, rent and food. The foundation donated close to $400,000 last year to cover these services for survivors in Toronto and Montreal alone.
Some survivors receive aid through a fund known as the “Claims Conference,” which helps agencies serving aging Holocaust survivors around the world. The German government is the main source of funding.
Shagas, for instance, receives meals-on-wheels, which are funded by the grant. He’s eligible for medical assistance once a year for costs not covered by OHIP, such as dental fees.
“If it weren’t for the Claims Conference support, I wouldn’t be able to make it,” he said.
A grant of $18,000 was allocated for Toronto’s survivor community in 1996. This year, that allocation is more than $12.5 million.
The fund is divided among various local agencies, including Circle of Care, which provides kosher food, homecare support and transportation to 1,500 survivors.
“The most difficult thing for some of the concentration camp survivors is they relied on their ability to be independent and their health in order to survive,” said Arnold Foss, the agency’s director of Holocaust Survivor Services Funds. “As they age and they’re losing some of this independence and they’re losing their good health, it’s very difficult for them to accept that, and in turn accept having any care.”
For many, the prospect of living in any kind of institution, such as a retirement home, is too daunting.
“It’s very reminiscent of the camps and being told when to eat and sleep,” Foss said.
UJA provides matching funds to agencies funded by the Claims Conference. Last year, it also raised $1.5 million to support Jewish seniors in poverty.
“It’s never going to be enough funding in terms of the number of hours that survivors will need as they age,” Pelly said.
Through the Claims Conference grant, Jewish Family and Child Service provides emergency funding to 650 low-income survivors in Toronto to cover medical and dental expenses, and prevent rent shortfalls or utility shutoff.
“Some of them suffered losses that left them without family to surround them as they got older,” said Brian Prousky, executive director of the agency. “A number live in isolation, without familial support that other seniors might not just enjoy but require.”
About 20-30 applications for assistance come in each month from the GTA alone, according to Gutter, whose committee processes each request.
“One gentleman came to me and said the money he gets, it’s either going to eating, or he’s going to buy diapers for his wife,” Gutter said. “It was heartbreaking for me to hear that.”
While the organization tries to help everyone it can, so many still fall between the cracks, according to Gutter.
“Very few people like asking for charity,” he said. “A lot of people are hidden, are too shy to ask, so you don’t see them and they just slowly wither away and you never know what happens until they pass away.”
For Shagas, his isolation is often agonizing.
“It gets very lonely. Sometimes I just want to bang my head against the wall,” he said.
More like Shagas are learning to cope with similar conditions, due in part to an “unusual” trend, according to UJA. Unlike most cities, where the survivor population is on the decline, Toronto’s has been growing due to immigration of Jews from the former Soviet Union.
“It’s obvious that it would be great if we get more help, but at the same time I understand that why should anyone help us? We don’t deserve it,” said Shagas.
“It’s just really painful. I deal with the cards I have.”
PHOENIX—U.S. President Donald Trump spared former Sheriff Joe Arpaio a possible jail sentence on Friday by pardoning the recent federal conviction stemming from his immigration patrols, reversing what critics saw as a long-awaited comeuppance for a lawman who escaped accountability for headline-grabbing tactics during his tenure as metropolitan Phoenix’s top law enforcer.
The White House said the 85-year-old ex-sheriff was a “worthy candidate” for a presidential pardon. It was Trump’s first pardon as president.
“Throughout his time as Sheriff, Arpaio continued his life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration,” the White House statement said.
The announcement to pardon Arpaio came three days after a rally in Phoenix at which the president signalled his willingness to absolve the misdemeanour contempt-of-court conviction.
Arpaio was in a celebratory mood after the pardon, eating dinner at an Italian restaurant as someone in his party ordered champagne. He told The Associated Press he’s thankful for the pardon.
“I appreciate what the president did,” he said. “I have to put it out there: Pardon, no pardon — I’ll be with him as long as he’s president.”
The pardon drew a swift and harsh denunciation from Latinos and political leaders in Arizona and beyond. They said the action amounted to an endorsement of racism by wiping away the conviction of a man who has been found by the courts to have racially profiled Latinos in his immigration patrols.
“Pardoning Joe Arpaio is a slap in the face to the people of Maricopa County, especially the Latino community and those he victimized as he systematically and illegally violated their civil rights,” Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said.
The White House announced the pardon late Friday after Trump fleshed out the details of his ban on transgender individuals serving in the military, a policy that will cheer his conservative base, and as a powerful Category 4 hurricane threatened to batter Texas with heavy winds and severe flooding.
Arpaio became a nationally known political figure over the past dozen years as he took aggressive action to arrest immigrants in the country illegally. But years of legal issues and costs stemming from his immigration efforts began to take a toll on his political power at home, and he was handily defeated by a Democrat in the 2016 election.
It coincided with Trump winning the White House based in large part on his immigration rhetoric, with Arpaio campaigning for him around the country.
Trump has been plagued by poor job approval ratings that currently stand at 34 per cent, the lowest mark ever for a president in his first year. His decision on the former sheriff may serve to energize Trump supporters dispirited over the president’s decision a week ago to dismiss chief strategist Steve Bannon, a favourite on the far right wing of the Republican Party. But it has angered his opponents even more.
The pardon contradicts a key theme in the movement for tougher immigration enforcement — that all people, no matter who they are, aren’t above the law. Arizona politicians have invoked the “rule of law” for more than a decade as the guiding principle in pushing for tougher immigration laws.
The pardon also marked a devastating defeat for critics who believed the lawman sowed divisions by making hundreds of arrests in crackdowns that separated immigrant families and promoted a culture of cruelty by housing inmates in outdoor tents during triple-digit heat and forcing them to wear pink underwear.
They say it removed the last chance at holding Arpaio legally accountable for what they say is a long history of misconduct, including a 2013 civil verdict in which the sheriff’s officers were found to have racially profiled Latinos in his immigration patrols.
Arpaio was accused of prolonging the patrols for 17 months after a judge had ordered them stopped so that he could promote his immigration enforcement efforts in a bid to boost his successful 2012 re-election campaign.
Arpaio acknowledged extending the patrols, but insisted it wasn’t intentional, blaming one of his former attorneys for not properly explaining the importance of the court order and brushing off the conviction as a “petty crime.”
He accused then-president Barack Obama of trying to influence the 2016 sheriff’s race by announcing in court weeks before Election Day that it was willing to prosecute Arpaio.
But the charge itself wasn’t filed by prosecutors. It was recommended by the judge who presided over the profiling case. Lawyers in Trump’s Justice Department prosecuted the case at a five-day trial in late June and early July.
The TV interviews and news releases that media-savvy lawman used over the years to help promote his immigration crackdowns and win re-election came back to bite him when the judge who found him guilty cited comments the sheriff made about keeping up the patrols, even though he knew he wasn’t allowed.
The criminal case sprang from the profiling lawsuit that ultimately discredited Arpaio’s immigration patrols and is expected to cost taxpayers $92 million by next summer.
Arpaio’s office was accused in other instances of wrongdoing in the profiling case, though none led to criminal charges.
The alliance between Trump and Arpaio centres heavily on immigration enforcement, such as getting local police officers to take part in immigration enforcement. They also have questioned the authenticity of Obama’s birth certificate and have a similar history in sparring with judges.
During the presidential campaign, Arpaio showered Trump with support. He appeared for Trump at rallies in Iowa, Nevada and Arizona, including a huge gathering in the affluent Phoenix suburb where the sheriff lives. Arpaio also gave a speech at the Republican National Convention.
“So Sheriff Joe was convicted for doing his job?” Trump asked supporters at Tuesday’s rally. “I’ll make a prediction. I think he’s going to be just fine, OK.”
Trump issued the pardon seven months after taking office, though it is not unprecedented for a president to issue a pardon in their first year in office.
The most recent president to issue a pardon so early in his term was George H.W. Bush, who granted clemency after seven months as president, said Jeffrey Crouch, a professor of politics at American University who has written a book on presidential pardons.
Arpaio said he’ll discuss more about his case next week, but says he’ll remain active politically now that he’s no longer facing jail time.
“I don’t fish,” Arpaio said. “I’ll be very active.”
SEOUL—Three North Korea short-range ballistic missiles failed on Saturday, U.S. military officials said, which, if true, would be a temporary setback to Pyongyang’s rapid nuclear and missile expansion.
The U.S. Pacific Command said in a statement that two of the North’s missiles failed in flight after an unspecified distance, and another appeared to have blown up immediately. It added that the missile posed no threat to the U.S. territory of Guam, which the North had previously warned it would fire missiles toward.
Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said that the projectiles fired from the North’s eastern coast flew about 250 kilometres, though it did not mention any failures. It said South Korea and U.S. militaries were analyzing the launch and didn’t immediately provide more details.
South Korea’s presidential office said the U.S. and South Korean militaries will proceed with their ongoing war games “even more thoroughly” in response to the latest launch. They are the first known missile firings since July, when the North successfully flight tested a pair of intercontinental ballistic missiles that analysts say could reach deep into the U.S. mainland when perfected.
The White House said that U.S. President Donald Trump— who has warned that he would unleash “fire and fury” if the North continued its threats — was briefed on the latest North Korean activity and “we are monitoring the situation.”
The rival Koreas recently saw their always testy relationship get worse after Trump traded warlike threats. Saturday’s launch comes during an annual joint military exercise between the United States and South Korea that the North condemns as an invasion rehearsal, and weeks after Pyongyang threatened to lob missiles toward Guam.
North Korea had walked back from the threat to lob missiles toward Guam, but there had been concerns that hostility will flare up again during the Ulchi-Freedom Guardian drills between the allies that run through Aug. 31.
However, some experts say North Korea is now mainly focused on the bigger picture of testing its bargaining power against the United States with its new long-range missiles and likely has no interest in letting things get too tense during the drills. They say the North may limit its reactions to low-level provocations like artillery and short-range missile launches.
Early assessments from the U.S. and South Korean militaries suggest that the North Korean launches could be short-range Scud-B or solid-fuel KN-02 missiles, said Kim Dong-yub, a former South Korean military official who is now an analyst at Seoul’s Institute for Far Eastern Studies.
While the missile that supposedly blew up immediately after launch was clearly a failure, Kim said it’s too early to judge the flights of the other two missiles, since the North could have been experimenting with developmental technologies or deliberately detonated the warheads at certain heights and locations.
North Korea’s state media earlier Saturday said that leader Kim Jong Un inspected a special operation forces training of the country’s army that simulated attacks on South Korean islands along the countries’ western sea border in what appeared to be in response to the ongoing U.S.-South Korea war games.
Kim reportedly told his troops that they “should think of mercilessly wiping out the enemy with arms only and occupying Seoul at one go and the southern half of Korea.”
The Korean Central News Agency said that the “target striking contest” involved war planes, multiple-rocket launchers and self-propelled guns that attacked targets meant to represent South Korea’s Baengnyeong and Yeonpyeong islands before special operation combatants “landed by surprise” on rubber boats.
The border islands have occasionally seen military skirmishes between the rivals, including a North Korean artillery barrage on Yeonpyeong in 2010 that left two South Korean marines and two civilians dead.
In response to North Korea’s expanding nuclear weapons program, South Korea has been moving to strengthen its own capabilities, planning talks with the United States on raising the warhead limits on its missiles and taking steps to place additional launchers to a U.S. anti-missile defence system in the country’s southeast.
South Korea has also been testing new missiles of its own, including the 800-kilometre-range Hyunmoo-2. Although the missile has not been operationally deployed yet, it is considered a key component to the so-called “kill chain” pre-emptive strike capability the South is pursuing to cope with the North’s growing nuclear and missile threat.
General Electric Peterborough, which employed tens of thousands of workers over its 125-year history and once made some of the world’s biggest motors, is slated to close.
More than 350 employees of the factory, founded in 1892 by Thomas Edison, the inventor of electric lightbulbs, will lose their jobs by the fall of 2018.
“We grew up there. Our parents worked there. Those memories are huge,” said Sue James, who worked at the plant for 30 years, as did her father before her.
James’s father Gord died of lung and spinal cancer, diseases his family believes were caused by the toxic substances he worked with.
A Star investigation last year highlighted the plight of former employees who say years of exposure to chemicals in the factory led to hundreds of cases of cancer or other illnesses.
GE maintains that health and safety have always been its “number one priority” and that the company has “always followed the best health and safety practices based on the best knowledge available to us at the time.”
It was reduced demand for products that drove the decision to close the Peterborough plant, according to Kim Warburton, vice-president of communications and public affairs for GE Canada. The plant will cease manufacturing, but will retain about 50 engineers onsite, she added.
“It’s really about global demand,” she said. “In the last four years, volume at this plant has been down 60 per cent.”
Peterborough Mayor Daryl Bennett said his “immediate concern is for the workers and the families” affected by the closure.
“It will be a difficult time for many residents who are connected with GE or who have historical ties to this company,” Bennett said in a statement.
He vowed to meet with the area’s MP and MPP to discuss government assistance to secure the community’s economic foundation.
Once the city’s single largest employer, GE Peterborough made everything from diesel locomotive engines to turbines to hydro generators. The plant was the major economic driver in a region where more than half the population once worked in manufacturing. Now about 10 per cent of the city’s workforce is in manufacturing.
“That is the last of manufacturing in Peterborough of any size,” James said. “GE was sort of the last one standing … It’s devastating news for the community and Peterborough, there’s no doubt about it.”
Since 2004, workers at the plant made some 660 compensation claims to Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board for a range of occupational diseases. Some 280 were accepted, but more than half were withdrawn, abandoned or rejected because of apparently insufficient evidence that the conditions were work-related.
A comprehensive report conducted by private-sector union Unifor later concluded that working conditions at the factory between 1945 and 2000 played a significant role in an “epidemic” of work-related illnesses among employees and retirees.
The Ontario government has since vowed to do the “right thing” for former workers, including additional funding for the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers, which is helping GE retirees compile compensation claims. The details of that funding have not yet been announced.
James says retirees are growing frustrated by the wait.
“People are getting to the point where they can’t take the stress anymore,” said James. “It’s just been such a long fight and a long struggle.”
Warburton said the decision to close is unrelated to compensation claims.
“These are two completely unrelated matters,” she told the Star. “The decision on the plant today is based on volumes and not having the work.”
“(It’s) an ongoing process with the health claims and legacy issues,” she added. “We’ve participated in that process for a number of years with WSIB and other agencies we will continue to do that.”
In line with manufacturing plants across Ontario, GE’s Peterborough operations have slimmed down significantly in recent years. In January, the company announced it was laying off 150 employees as a result of a drop in volume orders.
“I am saddened and disappointed to learn that GE will be ceasing manufacturing at its Peterborough facility. My thoughts are with the affected workers, their families and our community, and I am determined to work with GE to ensure employees are supported,” said MPP Jeff Leal, whose father worked at the plant for 40 years.
Warburton said the company does not currently have plans to sell its Peterborough site, which occupies several acres in the city.
The plant will operate for another year so the company can honour existing orders, she added, and will provide transitional support to departing employees such as skills, job training and retirement planning.
“Manufacturing has taken quite a hit in today’s day and age with robots and precarious work,” said James. “It’s just a changing world.”
A bail decision is expected next week following a two-day hearing for Mohmmed Shamji, a Toronto neurosurgeon charged with first-degree murder.
Shamji is accused of killing his wife and mother of their three children, Elana Fric-Shamji, after her body was found inside a suitcase next to the West Humber River in Vaughan.
Her body was discovered on Dec. 1, and police said around that time they believed Fric-Shamji had been strangled and had suffered from blunt force trauma.
A Superior Court judge will decide Wednesday whether the accused awaits his trial, expected to begin in the fall of 2018, out on bail or behind bars.
As the handcuffed Shamji was ushered into a 361 University Ave. courthouse prisoner’s box Friday morning, the former Toronto Western Hospital neurosurgeon wore a fitted charcoal-coloured suit and white dress shirt. He had a shadow of barely-there facial hair, and several people, who appeared to be family members, were in the courtroom.
Shamji smiled and mouthed a few words to them at the end of the day, but kept his gaze forward while Justice Michael Brown heard submissions from the Crown and his lawyers, Lisa Pomerant and Liam O’Connor.
The couple was married for 12 years, and Fric-Shamji, 40, had filed for divorce just days before she was reported missing, according to her friends.
As reported by the Star in December, Shamji was charged with uttering threats and assaulting Fric-Shamji in 2005, when the couple was newly married.
The charges were withdrawn after Shamji signed a peace bond.
Shamji is currently being held at Maplehurst Correctional Complex in Milton.
A news story went viral this week about a young Toronto family living the life of Cheech and Chong against their will.
According to the CBC, Toronto condo resident Paul Bradshaw, along with his wife and 7-year-old son, have had to put up with pot smoke seeping into their condo from their next-door neighbour’s unit for nearly five years. Bradshaw told the CBC the smoke seeps into the family’s condo unit not only through the front door, but also through windows and electrical sockets, and into his kid’s room.
“It wakes him up from a dead sleep,” Bradshaw said in an interview with the national broadcaster. “We have an air purifier but it has very little effect. It’s potent. It hits you.”
Unfortunately, little can be done to legally stop the stoner next door. Repairs to the condo unit’s walls haven’t prevented smoke from seeping into Bradshaw’s son’s room. The Smoke-Free Ontario Act prohibits smoking in common areas of condominiums, but not in individual units themselves. (Condos can create rules around smoking in individual units, but according to the CBC, Bradshaw’s has not.)
A terminal cynic might suggest, by way of consolation for the Bradshaws, that their son’s early exposure to pot smoke, as a companion bedtime ritual to brushing his teeth and putting on his pyjamas, might immunize him against marijuana’s cool factor. When he gets to high school and somebody passes him a joint, he can honestly say, “no thanks, I had my fill in the second grade.”
Joking aside, the Bradshaws’ dilemma brings to mind two major issues facing our city.
The first is the nation-wide legalization of marijuana. We are now less than a year away from legal pot, and it’s not unlikely, come July 1, 2018, that people who smoke up in their apartments may feel more entitled when neighbours complain about the telltale odour wafting in from next door. Why not? Legalization will validate their pot use and erode the social stigma around it.
But the Bradshaws’ problem impinges on an issue that’s far more mainstream than the legalization of marijuana: affordable housing.
Moving forward, I wouldn’t be surprised if complaints like Paul Bradshaw’s become more commonplace precisely because we’re facing an affordable housing crisis.
As things stand now, many young families can’t afford to buy homes, so they rent living accommodation instead. This means the apartments or condos in which they partied their twenties away now have to serve as starter family homes, especially if they choose to have kids. This would be OK (albeit a little cramped) if everyone in the city was the same age, or matured at the same rate, but obviously this isn’t the case.
Which means that many couples with new babies who can’t find afford to move, will end up staying put in downtown rental buildings, where few people go to bed before 10 o’clock, and where it isn’t uncommon for some residents to drink and crank up Spotify playlists with titles like “Songs for Drunk White Girls” on a Tuesday night. And, of course, smoke marijuana.
My wife and I are in this situation right now.
We live in a condo building that’s relatively young (most residents appear to be between 25 and 40). We moved into our unit when we were 24 and received regular noise complaints in response to our own weeknight partying. Now, on the cusp of 30, we’re the ones making the noise complaints.
Where our smoke used to seep out into the hallway, now our younger neighbour’s does. This may simply be the great circle of urban life, but it’s bound to become greater and more circular as the accelerating lack of affordable housing suited to families, and the increasing number of urban millennials with young children collide.
The question is, what can those of us who’d like to lead a quiet family life (in a city where only the rich can afford houses) do about it?
I propose a Toronto Condo Party Registry. Not unlike the Bed Bug registry, an online database of Toronto apartment buildings and hotels potentially infected with bed bugs, the Party Registry would inform Torontonians about apartment and condo buildings prone to weeknight bacchanals.
What’s more, it would alert you to the ambience of revelry specific to the rental accommodation being considered, from the type of tunes blasting within its walls, to the substances consumed.
If you were looking at a building close to the financial district, for instance, the registry might let you know you’d better get used to the smell of stale beer, discarded bounce tubes, and the eternal bro chant “Ole! Ole! Ole!”
If you were looking at a building in the hipper west, the registry might warn you about the e-cigarette smoke hazard. And if you were moving north, Avenue Road-ish say, you’d be alerted to the possibility of being woken up in the middle of the night by the voice of Mariska Hargitay of Law and Order SVU, the result of an elderly neighbour who’d left the TV on again at maximum volume, because they’re asleep, hard of hearing, or worse.
Marijuana to Mariska — as a renter and/or new parent, all you can do is to pick your poison.