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    OTTAWA—Gerry Ritz, one of the longest serving Conservative members of Parliament, is offering no clues as to why he’s giving up his seat in the House of Commons.

    In a statement posted Thursday on social media, the Saskatchewan MP confirms he won’t be back when the House resumes next month.

    Ritz was first elected as a Reform Party member in 1997 and continued to hold the riding of Battlefords-Lloydminster for two decades.

    Between 2007 and 2015, he served as agriculture minister under former prime minister Stephen Harper, overseeing among other things the marquee Conservative promise to overhaul the Canadian Wheat Board.

    After the Liberals came to power and Harper stepped down as Conservative party leader, Ritz served as international trade critic under interim party leader Rona Ambrose.

    In his statement, Ritz extends his thanks to his colleagues as well as his constituents.

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    HALIFAX—No criminal charges will be laid against five so-called “Proud Boys” who disrupted a Mi’kmaq ceremony in downtown Halifax on Canada Day, the Royal Canadian Navy says.

    In a statement, Rear-Admiral John Newton says an investigation has wrapped up with no further actions taken against the members.

    The servicemen had been relieved of their duties and re-assigned to other jobs, pending the results of the military police investigation into the incident at a statue of Halifax’s controversial founder Edward Cornwallis.

    Read more: Two Navy members involved in confrontation at Indigenous ceremony on Canada Day

    Newton says one of the servicemen has since left the navy, but the others are being returned to their operational units and regular duties.

    He says they displayed “behaviour inconsistent with the values and ethics expected of those in uniform,” and the military has taken appropriate measures to address “individual shortcomings.”

    The navy has ensured the servicemen have a clear understanding of the expected ethical behaviours and standards of conduct within the Canadian Armed Forces, he says.

    “Any further inappropriate behaviour could result in their termination from the Canadian Armed Forces,” he says.

    The investigation began in early July, a few days after a group of “Proud Boys” confronted Indigenous people gathered in a park for what they described as a sacred rite.

    The Armed Forces confirmed five members of the military were involved, and apologized for their actions.

    Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and Gen. Jonathan Vance, chief of the defence staff, both condemned the actions of the men.

    The “Proud Boys” — known for matching black polo shirts often worn by members — was founded in the U.S. by Gavin McInnes, a Canadian who helped establish Vice Media and is now an outspoken, right-wing political pundit.

    The “Proud Boys” call themselves “Western chauvinists.”

    In a statement Thursday, the military said the Halifax incident has provided a leadership opportunity for military brass — and the best way to confront and defeat intolerance is through education and training.

    “Any action by a Canadian Armed Forces member (in uniform or not) that demonstrates intolerance or shows disrespect towards the people and cultures we value in Canada is completely unacceptable,” it said.

    “The Canadian Armed Forces celebrates the contributions that First Nations, Inuit and Métis people have made to Canada and its military.

    “The chain of command has taken appropriate measures to address individual shortcomings, intended to drive home a clear understanding of the ethical behaviour and standard of conduct that we demand all our members uphold and maintain.”

    It said the Armed Forces view diversity as a source of strength and flexibility.

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    EDMONTON—A hearing to determine whether bail conditions for former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr should be eased allowing him unsupervised visits with his controversial sister has been cancelled.

    The hearing did not take place as scheduled in Edmonton today with no immediate reason given.

    Court staff did not have a new date for the hearing.

    Khadr is seeking unrestricted internet access and more freedom to move around Canada while on bail pending the appeal of his conviction by a U.S. military commission for five purported war crimes.

    Khadr, now 30, has been free on bail for more than two years and notes no issues have arisen since his release.

    Read more: $134-million claim against Khadr is based on false information and should be thrown out, lawyer argues

    Omar Khadr fact check paints a clearer picture of the case and the incident underlying it

    Right now, he can only have contact with his sister Zaynab Khadr if one of his lawyers or bail supervisor is present.

    Several years ago, Zaynab and her mother infuriated many Canadians by expressing support for the Al Qaeda terrorist group.

    In 2005, Zaynab was investigated by RCMP for allegedly aiding Al Qaeda, but no charges were filed. She is now reportedly living in Sudan with her fourth husband, but is planning a visit to Canada. Khadr is arguing he wants to reconnect with his family and is old enough that he can’t be negatively swayed.

    Thursday’s hearing is the next phase in a 15-year legal journey for Khadr that has ignited sharp and divisive debate among Canadians over terrorism, human rights and the rule of law.

    The Toronto-born Khadr spent years in U.S. detention at Guantanamo Bay after he was caught when he was 15 and accused of tossing a grenade that killed special forces soldier Christopher Speer at an Al Qaeda compound in Afghanistan in 2002.

    In 2010, Khadr pleaded guilty to multiple charges before a U.S. military commission, including to killing Speer, but has since said he can’t remember if he tossed the fatal grenade. He has said he entered the plea to try to get out of Guantanamo, where he says he was mistreated, and into the Canadian justice system.

    He returned to Canada in 2012 to serve out the rest of the eight-year sentence he was given.

    Canada’s Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that Khadr’s charter rights were violated at Guantanamo and Canadian officials contributed to that violation.

    Khadr filed a $20-million lawsuit against the government and last month it was revealed he had settled the case for a reported $10.5 million. That set off a fierce debate.

    Khadr has said he wants to get on with his life. He recently married and plans to move to the city of Red Deer, halfway between Edmonton and Calgary, to begin studies to become a nurse.

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    EDMONTON—MacEwan University in Edmonton has been defrauded of $11.8 million in a so-called phishing attack.

    The university says workers were fooled by a series of fake emails asking them to change electronic banking information for one of the school’s major vendors.

    The change resulted in the transfer of nearly $12 million into a bank account staff thought belonged to the vendor, but on Wednesday, officials found out they had been scammed.

    University spokesman David Beharry says most of the funds have been traced to accounts in Canada and Hong Kong.

    Beharry says the university has conducted an interim audit of business processes and controls were put in place to prevent further incidents.

    He says the university’s computer systems have not been compromised, but a preliminary assessment has determined that controls around the process of changing vendor banking information were inadequate.

    He says a number of opportunities to identify the fraud were also missed.

    “There is never a good time for something like this to happen, but as our students come back to start the new academic year, we want to assure them and the community that our IT systems were not compromised during this incident,” Beharry said in a news release.

    “Personal and financial information, and all transactions made with the university are secure. We also want to emphasize that we are working to ensure that this incident will not impact our academic or business operations in any way.”

    MacEwan has informed both the minister of advanced education and the province’s auditor general, as well as other interested parties, Beharry said.

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    HALIFAX—The former CEO of Atlantic Canada’s biggest children’s hospital still owes more than $22,000 for “potentially personal” expenses charged to her corporate credit card before she resigned last week, an independent review has found.

    The review of Tracy Kitch’s expenses was ordered by the IWK Health Centre’s board of directors because of discrepancies. Kitch resigned Aug. 23 for what the chairwoman of the hospital’s board described as personal reasons.

    The review by Grant Thornton covers expenses reported between August 2014 — when she started at the IWK after a stint as an executive vice-president at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital — and June 2017.

    The accounting firm said its review of corporate credit card transactions, expense claims and other costs identified $47,273.32 of potentially personal expenses, of which $25,009.28 has been reimbursed.

    “In many instances, the support for these expenses was not sufficient for us to determine the business reason, or appropriate approval may not have been documented,” the report said.

    It said there were “significant delays” in the submission of claims, which limited the hospital’s ability to identify potential issues.

    The report found Kitch had been allotted 10 days annually for professional development but exceeded that by 14 days in 2015 and seven days in 2016.

    It found the IWK paid for membership fees beyond those contractually agreed to, including the Air Canada Maple Leaf Club Lounge and membership in the College of Registered Nurses of Ontario.

    The report found she performed a review of the Montreal Children’s Hospital, and was compensated with an honorarium and expense reimbursement. But travel expenses were charged to the IWK and not reimbursed upon receipt of payment.

    Among items seen as potentially personal, the report detailed $26,463.80 for flight pass usage; $4,636.55 for mobile data overages; $4,474.34 for taxis; $1,580.31 for hotel-related costs; $394.75 for meals; and $161.40 in iTunes charges.

    “Hotel costs include a hotel stay by a family member of the CEO during a visit to Halifax, as well as hotel charges related to a personal trip to the U.S. that were charged to the corporate credit card,” the report found.

    In a statement Thursday, the IWK said its board has endorsed all of the report’s findings and approved its 14 recommendations.

    “Members of the board take very seriously the trust placed in them as they oversee the Health Centre and ensure patients and families continue to receive the world-class care they expect from the IWK,” it said.

    The Grant Thornton review included 31 Visa statements, with a total of 560 individual transactions, seven expense claims, one cash advance, and direct billed expenses.

    It found the hospital board’s chair only reviews CEO credit card transactions and expense claims, and not travel and hospitality expenses that may be billed directly to “the CEO cost centre.”

    “As well, credit card expense reports provided to the board chair during the period of review were not supported with credit card statements and detailed receipts, reducing the ability of the chair to determine the appropriateness and completeness of the transactions reported.”

    Kitch was earning an annual salary of $296,289 at the time of her departure.

    Dr. Krista Jangaard, vice-president of medicine and academic affairs, has been named interim CEO.

    The Izaak Walton Killam Health Centre, known locally as the IWK, provides care for women, children, youth and families from the Maritimes and beyond.

    The charitable organization has more than 3,600 employees and an annual operating budget of about $289 million, with the province covering roughly 80 per cent of costs.

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    OTTAWA—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has spoken to U.S. President Donald Trump to offer condolences over the deaths and destruction in Texas and Louisiana caused by hurricane Harvey.

    The Prime Minister’s Office says the two men spoke by phone today.

    Trudeau also offered assistance with rescue and recovery efforts.

    The storm has killed at least 30 people and wrecked thousands of homes in Texas.

    Tens of thousands of people have taken refuge in shelters.

    Torrential rains have flooded vast swaths of Texas and rain continues in some areas as the storm, now reduced to a tropical depression, creeps inland.

    Read more:

    Harvey is moving on. These 23 photos show what the storm left behind

    Rescuers start block-by-block search of flooded Houston

    Drake donates $200,000 U.S. to Houston flood relief

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    With the school year approaching, an anti-binge drinking ad found in the women’s washroom of York University caused a stir on social media this week over accusations of sexism.

    The controversial poster depicts a woman looking at her phone in shock, viewing Instagram photos of young adults drinking alcohol, accompanied by the caption: “Don’t try to keep up with the guys.”

    The bottom of the poster reads, “It’s not just about keeping an eye on your drink, but how much you drink.”

    The ad, produced for a York Region campaign against substance abuse, was criticized for “victim blaming” women who are sexually assaulted.

    Rawan Habib, president of the York Federation of Students, was critical of the poster.

    “This advertisement plays into, and supports, rape culture, rape myths about women and sexual violence,” she said. “Promotion of responsible drinking should not be gendered.

    “When we’re discussing sexual violence, oftentimes the blame falls on women — they are held responsible for the violence that they experience.”

    York Region has ended the campaign, and will remove the poster. Ann Ramkay, a manager in York Region’s public health division, apologized for the poster.

    “As soon as we received some negative feedback, we immediately pulled the campaign,” she said.

    The campaign included two social media messages and the poster before it ended.

    “For anyone who did take offence to the campaign, we do offer our sincerest apologies,” Ramkay said, adding that women were involved in creating the poster.

    Ramkay said that the purpose of the campaign was to raise awareness about “the dangers associated with excessive alcohol consumption and binge drinking.”

    “It was primarily targeted to women because . . . even when women drink the same amounts as men, women absorb and metabolize alcohol differently,” she said. “Women are at greater risk for alcohol-related harm because they often weigh less, have more fat tissue, less water in their bodies, and lower levels of enzymes that break down alcohol.”

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    Put your campaign signs away for Jennifer Keesmaat — for now.

    The departing chief planner who has earned celebrity status amid a five-year push for a transit-oriented, cycling friendly city, says she has no interest in seeking political office in 2018.

    “It’s not something that I can imagine at this point,” Keesmaat said in an interview Thursday when asked about speculation she might be persuaded to run for the Liberal Party provincially.

    “I have no illusions about the demands of political life, because I’ve been so up close to it for the past five years,” she said the progressive bureaucrat, who calls the Yonge-Eglinton area home.

    And the mayor’s office?

    “That is not, in any way, my attention to run for mayor . . .

    “. . . in 2018,” she added.

    The city announced Keesmaat’s departure on Monday. It came as a surprise to her staff and has left a city that has become accustomed to her confident leadership style and prolific social media posts at something of a loss.

    As a mother whose time has been dominated these past years by city hall affairs, Keesmaat said she’s looking forward to spending more time at home in the coming months, especially as her daughter will leave for university in a year’s time.

    “This is my last year with her and that was a big part of the decision right now,” she said. “I actually need to make it home to dinner a few times in the week.”

    Keesmaat’s tenure at city hall ends Sept. 29.

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    ATLANTA—A white Cobb County police lieutenant has been moved to administrative duty for telling a white woman during a traffic stop, “Remember, we only shoot Black people.”

    The Cobb branch of the NAACP said Thursday the officer’s statements, captured on police video footage, were disturbing, but the branch president said she wanted to know more about the incident.

    Channel 2 Action News reported that its request for body camera footage of the traffic stop prompted an internal investigation of Lt. Greg Abbott, who has been on the Cobb force for 28 years.

    The footage shows the officer speaking through the car window to a female passenger in a vehicle that had been stopped for suspected DUI.

    The woman tells Abbott that she is afraid to reach for her cellphone because “I’ve just seen way too many videos of cops…”

    At that point, Abbott cuts her off.

    “But you’re not Black. Remember, we only shoot Black people,” the police veteran of nearly three decades can be heard saying. “Yeah. We only kill Black people, right? All the videos you’ve seen, have you seen the Black people get killed?”

    The footage is from July 2016, before Mike Register took over as chief of Cobb police.

    He said that Abbott will remain on administrative duty pending the outcome of the investigation, for which he didn’t give a timeline.

    On Thursday, attorney Suri Chadha Jimenez, who represented the driver in the DUI case that resulted from the traffic stop, offered clarification of the incident.

    Chadha Jimenez said the woman was not the driver of the car but a passenger. He represented the male driver of the car, not the woman, but said he was familiar with the facts of the case.

    The driver was arrested for DUI and placed in the officer’s squad car. The woman was waiting for someone to pick her up from the scene. While she waited, the exchange with the officer occurred.

    “She does have a legitimate concern,” Chadha Jimenez said. “I think it was an honestly felt response but the officer’s response mocked her, which wasn’t professional. What bothers me is that he didn’t take her concern seriously.”

    The woman was arrested on charges related to the traffic stop, Chadha Jimenez said. Both her case and the driver’s DUI case were resolved months ago, the attorney said. He would not say if the driver and the woman are related.

    Neither his client nor the woman wants the media attention that has come with the revelations, Chadha Jimenez said.

    “She’s not trying to get paid,” he said. “She wants it to go away.”

    Also on Thursday, the president of the Cobb branch of the NAACP said she was reserving judgment on the matter until the officer’s case has been thoroughly investigated.

    “We know police officers get up every day and protect and serve, but this was so cavalier,” said Deane Bonner, the branch president. “(The) young lady ... never mentioned ‘Black.’ So, for him to take it to that level, it’s just very sad.”

    She continued: “I want to be fair to him and we believe in due process, but as the leader of an organization that deals with people who go through this every day, this strikes a real chord with us. Why bring up ‘Black’ and not just say ‘people’? ‘We don’t shoot people.’”

    Bonner also said the organization wanted to know what the officer’s professional record has been and whether he has had any other complaints brought against him.

    A statement Wednesday from the department said Chief Register found out about the recording Friday.

    “No matter what context it was said, it shouldn’t have been said,” Register told Channel 2.

    This was also before a study by the International Association of Chiefs of Police ordered the department to address public perceptions of racism and discriminatory policing.

    Chadha Jimenez, the attorney, said he thinks the officer was being sarcastic after the woman “gave him some lip.”

    “It makes you cringe when you hear it. It’s unacceptable,” Chadha Jimenez said.

    Lance LoRusso, Abbott’s attorney, gave the station this statement:

    “Lt. Greg Abbott is a highly respected 28-year veteran of the Cobb County Police Department. He is cooperating with the department’s internal investigation and will continue to do so. His comments must be observed in their totality to understand their context. He was attempting to de-escalate a situation involving an uncooperative passenger. In context, his comments were clearly aimed at attempting to gain compliance by using the passenger’s own statements and reasoning to avoid making an arrest.”

    In the police statement, Cobb County Commission Chairman Mike Boyce is quoted as saying: “I have seen the video and obviously have great concerns. I find the comments on the video repugnant and offensive beyond measure.”

    This comes a day after the department released information about an officer-involved shooting that injured a 16-year-old’s upper thigh. The shooting was deemed justifiable by a grand jury.

    “We are going to keep going forward to make sure we, as a police department, service the community in a most professional way. All segments of the community,” Register said.

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    Ontario’s human rights tribunal has ruled that a 9-year-old autistic boy can’t bring his service dog with him into class.

    The decision says Kenner Fee’s family failed to prove that having his black Labrador Ivy in the classroom would help him with his education.

    Adjudicator and tribunal vice-chair Laurie Letheren found that the Waterloo Catholic District School Board took all necessary steps to evaluate whether the dog was needed in the classroom, and supported the board’s decision not to allow the service animal to sit beside Kenner during lessons.

    Read more:Ontario family fights to have autistic son’s service dog in classroom

    The tribunal heard from Kenner’s family that his autism leaves him prone to agitation, emotional outbursts and even bolting from his surroundings, but that having Ivy beside him significantly helps regulate his behaviour.

    Letheren accepted that evidence, but also accepted testimony from school board staff suggesting Kenner was performing well in class without Ivy, and that any problems he was encountering would not necessarily be addressed by the dog’s presence.

    Fee’s lawyer Laura McKeen says the family is crushed by the decision and is considering their next steps, including Kenner’s future education plans. She says the Fees have the right to appeal the ruling, but have not yet decided if they will do so.

    “They truly believe that Kenner’s service animal Ivy is essential to his entire life, including and specifically his education,” she said. “The Fees are devastated by the impact that decision is going to have on Kenner going forward.”

    The Waterloo Catholic District School Board did not comment specifically on the decision other than to acknowledge the outcome in their favour.

    “We work alongside families to make student-centred, individualized decisions that we collectively believe will allow them to flourish,” Director of Education Loretta Notten said in a statement. “Student success is of paramount importance to us and we strive to bring each one to their fullest potential.”

    The Aug. 30 tribunal decision chronicles a fight Kenner’s family began in April 2014 to get Ivy into the boy’s class, something that has not been allowed to date.

    The tribunal heard that Kenner had been matched with Ivy after training with the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides, an internationally accredited school that provides service dogs to address a range of disabilities.

    Kenner’s father, Craig Fee, told the tribunal that Ivy’s presence had made a noticeable difference in Kenner’s life and helped regulate his behaviour. When he sought permission to bring Ivy into Kenner’s classroom, however, the request was denied.

    Board employees told the tribunal there were concerns that Ivy would set Kenner back in his independence, adding that he may rely too much on the dog rather than working directly with staff and peers.

    Kenner’s father and various professionals working with Kenner told the tribunal the boy’s anxiety got worse the longer he went without his service animal during school days.

    The decision said that assertion was not supported by testimony from board staff, who said Kenner was largely compliant with instructions and generally functioning fairly well academically.

    Behaviour tracking sheets submitted to the tribunal noted instances when Kenner allegedly tried to leave the school yard and even climb out a window, but a special education teacher downplayed the incidents in his testimony.

    He said in both cases Kenner threatened to go through with an escape, but stopped upon being prompted by a teacher. The teacher also denied an incident noted in a behaviour tracking sheet indicating Kenner threw a chair, saying the student had never intentionally done anything to endanger himself or others.

    The teacher testified that Kenner was not visibly upset in class, though he did tell the tribunal that Kenner would sometimes yell out for Ivy.

    Letheren said that while having Ivy there would eliminate that issue, she said the dog “could not provide indicators about why the applicant may be feeling so stressed at school.”

    Letheren also went on to note that Kenner is prone to “exaggerating his situation” according to testimony from both his father and a teacher.

    Letheren said the board had taken appropriate steps to put learning supports in place for Kenner and that Ivy’s presence was not necessary.

    “I find that the evidence demonstrates that the supports and strategies that the respondent has provided to accommodate his disability related needs are providing him the opportunity to realize (his) potential and develop into (a) highly skilled, knowledgeable, caring citizen who contribute(s) to (his) society,” she wrote.

    The ruling was met with shock and dismay by some members of the autism community.

    Laura Kirby-McIntosh, vice-president of the Ontario Autism Coalition, said the decision represents a setback for education in the province since school boards can apply provincial accessibility guidelines according to their own discretion.

    “The injustice here is that whether or not service dogs enter a school is going to be completely left to the discretion of 72 different individual school boards. To me, your rights should not change depending on your postal code.”

    Currently, Ontario’s education act does not treat schools as spaces that are open to the public, which is what permits boards to bar service animals from the premises if they wish.

    Kirby-McIntosh said there’s a pressing need for a provincewide education standard on all accessibility issues, including service animal access.

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    One man is dead following a shooting in a North York mall Thursday afternoon.

    Toronto police Const. Caroline de Kloet said officers rushed to the North York Sheridan mall on Jane St. and Wilson Ave. around 5:20 p.m. after reports of a shooting.

    A man in his 20s was found suffering from gunshot wounds to the head, paramedics said. He was later pronounced dead on the scene.

    De Kloet said police are looking for four suspects. One suspect is described as wearing dark clothing with a hoody and white sneakers and having his or her face covered.

    The three other suspects are described as male, black, and wearing dark clothing and masks.

    Police are investigating. They are asking for anyone with information to contact them or Crime Stoppers. They have not revealed the identity of the victim.

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    WASHINGTON—The Trump administration on Thursday announced it has chosen four companies to build concrete prototypes of the president’s much-touted border wall.

    Construction of the prototypes, to take place in San Diego, is the first step in fulfilling Trump’s campaign promise of building a “big, beautiful” wall stretching along the 3,200-kilometre Mexico border.

    “Today we mark a significant milestone,” said Ronald Vitiello, acting deputy commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “This is the first tangible result of the action planning that has gone on. This is the use of the resources we had available for this year.” There appears to be a lack of political will to fund a continuous barrier. Congress has set aside $20 million in the current budget to build the prototypes but has not appropriated any other money for the wall. Each of the four contracts are worth between just under $400,000 and $500,000, Vitiello said.

    The companies chosen are: Caddell Construction in Montgomery, Ala.; Fisher Sand & Gravel/DBA Fisher Industries in Tempe, Ariz.; Texas Sterling Construction in Houston, Texas; and W.G. Yates & Sons Construction in Philadelphia, Miss.

    Read more:Companies bidding to design Trump’s border wall brace for hostile site

    Construction is expected to begin on the concrete prototypes in two weeks, Vitiello said, and should be complete this fall within 30 days after breaking ground. Each prototype will be nine metres long and up to nine metres high, and will be located within close proximity of each other, he said. They will act as a secondary barrier in a border enforcement zone that already has a fence.

    Homeland Security officials will then spend 30 to 60 days using small hand tools to test the prototypes to see how resistant they are to tampering and penetration, Vitiello said. Officials will consider esthetics as well as anti-climb features and how technology could be used to complement the physical barrier.

    “We are not just asking for a physical structure,” Vitiello said. “We’re asking for all the tools that help secure the border.”

    The administration was originally expected to announce its decision on prototypes in June, but the contracting process was delayed after protests from two companies that had not made the list of finalists.

    The Government Accountability Office dismissed the protests last Friday, but unsuccessful bidders now have another opportunity to file new protests, which could further delay construction.

    During his visit last week to Phoenix, Trump threatened to shut down the government if Congress does not agree to fund his wall in September.

    “Believe me, if we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall,” Trump said during his Arizona rally. “The American people voted for immigration control. That’s one of the reasons I’m here, and that is what the American people deserve, and they’re going to get it.”

    Eleven hundred kilometres of fencing has already been built in the most critical areas, following the 2006 Secure Fence Act under President George W. Bush. And there’s been a significant decrease in the number of illegal border crossers since Trump took office.

    The government in March asked for design submissions for two types of wall: a reinforced concrete barrier wall as well as one made of an alternative material with see-through capability. The government specified that the wall must be insurmountable and “esthetically pleasing in colour,” at least from the United States side.

    More than 200 companies responded with proposals. The contenders were winnowed down to a secret list of about 20 finalists.

    Thursday’s announcement by U.S. Customs and Border Protection did not include the winners of the non-concrete wall prototype. Trump earlier this summer had floated the possibility of a solar-paneled wall, between 12 and 15 metres high, as a way to help pay for construction.

    But with less than 2 per cent of the U.S. population living within 65 kilometres of the Mexico border, most of the electricity generated by the wall would be useless — without the construction of costly transmission lines to channel the electricity to other parts of the country.

    Vitiello said the agency expects to award up to four contracts for the non-concrete prototypes next week. The prototypes will allow the agency to learn about what type of structure would work best along the border. They could function as permanent barriers in San Diego, or be removed or relocated elsewhere, he said.

    The firms selected to build the prototypes are not necessarily the ones that would be picked to build the wall, an agency official said. Another bidding process would ensue if funding is approved for the wall itself.

    “This is not a competition to build the rest of the wall,” the official said.

    Trump’s 2018 budget calls for $2.6 billion for “high-priority tactical infrastructure and border security technology.” Of that amount, $1.6 billion is for “bricks and mortar construction” and $1 billion is for infrastructure and technology, such as roads needed to access construction sites and surveillance equipment.

    Since the campaign, Trump has scaled back his wall ambitions, admitting that a continuous barrier would not be possible — nor necessary — given natural barriers such as lakes, rivers, and mountains. A seamless wall is also unrealistic because of international treaty and flood zone requirements.

    The administration had hoped to add more than 160 new kilometres of wall over the next two years, according to a Department of Homeland Security planning document. Among the “high priority” locations would be the border sectors of the Rio Grande Valley in the southern tip of Texas as well as El Paso; Tucson, Ariz.; and San Diego, Calif.

    Of the more than 400,000 illegal immigrants apprehended along the southern border in 2016, nearly half were stopped in the Rio Grande Valley, according to data compiled by the U.S. Border Patrol.

    Customs and Border Protection said in June that it would be installing 35 new gates in the Rio Grande Valley to cover existing gaps, as well as begin replacing fencing in San Diego and vehicle barriers in El Paso. Trump has pointed to these repairs as a sign that his wall promise was coming to life.

    Customs and Border Protection had initially planned to award contracts by June 12, with construction beginning by July 21, according to a June Homeland Security Inspector General’s report.

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    Indigenous firefighting experts are hopeful that the federal government’s recent cabinet shuffle will help improve fire safety and prevention on reserves.

    “I don’t fear change. I fear increased levels of bureaucracy. Hopefully that’s not the direction we’re going in,” said Six Nations fire Chief Matthew Miller, who is also president of the Ontario Native Fire Fighters Society.

    “Overall, I’m cautiously optimistic,” Miller said.

    On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a shakeup at Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), splitting the department in two and handing responsibility for the delivery of services for Indigenous people to former federal health minister Jane Philpott.

    Minister Carolyn Bennett, who had previously been responsible for the sprawling INAC department, will now lead the government’s effort to replace the Indian Act and improve Crown-Indigenous relations.

    In March, Bennett committed the government to creating new legislation that applies a basic fire and building code on reserves, and putting in place a national Indigenous fire marshal’s office to oversee the resumption of fire-related data collection on reserves, something the government had abandoned altogether in 2010.

    Those promises came on the heels of a Star investigation that found at least 175 people have died in house fires in Indigenous communities since the federal government stopped tracking the death toll. At least 25 of the dead are children.

    Now Philpott’s department will be responsible for following through on Bennett’s promises, something she and her staff take seriously, according to a statement from her office.

    “Minister Philpott is committed to continuing the work that Minister Bennett has advanced over the past two years, including work on the fire safety file,” the statement said.

    “Over the coming days and weeks she looks forward to receiving detailed briefings in her new roles as Indigenous Services minister,” Philpott’s office said.

    Miller said he sees the splitting of Indigenous Affairs into two departments as a positive step towards solving not just the house fires crisis, but many of the larger issues plaguing Canada’s Indigenous communities.

    “There’s been a lot of reconciliation rhetoric thrown around” by this government, Miller said. “This is potentially the first time I’ve seen a significant move in that direction.”

    Blaine Wiggins, director of the Aboriginal Firefighters Association of Canada, agrees with him.

    Having Philpott handle service delivery while Bennett tackles the self-government negotiations and the eventual dismantling of the Indian Act is a smart move, he said.

    “We feel that the recent announcement will not hinder our projected plans and outcomes but may in fact expedite them,” Wiggins said.

    Minister Bennett’s office said in a statement that work on the file has been progressing well over the summer. The working group is currently trying to hash out costing and timelines for the new legislation and the fire marshal’s office. That work will continue through the fall and winter, Bennett’s office said.

    Miller said the months since Bennett’s promises have seen significant progress, but there have been some hiccups along the way.

    The federal government has struck a working group on the issue that includes the Aboriginal Firefighters Association, the Ontario Native Fire Fighters Society and the Assembly of First Nations.

    Earlier this summer, Indigenous Affairs’ team leader on that working group left for another position, Miller said, which meant time was lost bringing the replacement up to speed.

    That’s left Miller also worried about the time it may take to get a whole new department caught up.

    With fall around the corner, many Indigenous communities will soon have to start relying on the dangerous wood stoves, stoves that are known to cause many fatal house fires.

    In an attempt to head that off, Miller and the Ontario Native Firefighter’s Society has spent the summer trying to get as many smoke alarms installed in as many First Nations homes as possible.

    “We have an ambitious plan to have smoke detectors in every First Nation home in Ontario,” he said.

    Miller said he doesn’t yet have updated statistics on how many smoke detectors got installed over the summer, but anecdotally he said the work has so far gone well.

    “We’ve been working to support the Be Fire Safe program, which exists because of the federal partnership,” Miller said. “Coming into the tail end of August, we’re doing another push. It’s a lot of work.”

    0 0

    OTTAWA—Embattled Liberal MP Darshan Kang resigned from caucus Thursday night, releasing a statement that said he will focus on clearing his name in the face of accusations of sexual harassment.

    The Calgary MP has previously declared his innocence as a parliamentary investigation continues into his alleged conduct toward a young female staffer who worked in his constituency office.

    The Hill Times, which revealed the harassment investigation on Aug. 11, reported Thursday that a second woman who worked for Kang when he was an Alberta MLA has come forward with allegations against him.

    The Star was unable to reach the woman for comment.

    Charles-Eric Lépine, chief of staff to the Liberal government whip, confirmed in an email Thursday that his office received allegations from a second woman. He said they were forwarded to the House of Commons chief human resources officer, Pierre Parent, who is carrying out the investigation into Kang’s conduct.

    Lépine noted that the allegations occurred when Kang was an Alberta MLA and said his office “suggested that, if (the woman) feels comfortable doing so, she should share her story with the local police.”

    The Hill Times reported that the second woman claimed Kang repeatedly groped and kissed her against her will when she worked for him in 2011 and 2012.

    The Star could not independently verify the allegations.

    Earlier this week, the father of another woman who worked in Kang’s office told the Star that the MP offered her $100,000 to keep allegations of sexual harassment from her parents. These allegations included unwelcome hugs and hand-holding, as well as an incident in June when Kang allegedly tried to give the 24-year-old wine, take off her jacket, and then force his way into her hotel room to talk, the father said.

    The father said the Liberal party’s deputy whip in the House of Commons, Hamilton MP Filomena Tassi, travelled to Calgary in June to interview his daughter about her allegations — suggesting the government has known about the accusations against Kang for two months.

    Tassi has not responded to interview requests from the Star this week.

    None of the allegations against Kang has been proven.

    In his statement Thursday, Kang said he appreciates that the parliamentary process under which he’s being investigated allows him to give his “perspective” on the allegations.

    “However, I do not wish my present circumstances to further distract from any of the good work being carried out by my colleagues in the government,” Kang said. “I wish to focus my efforts at this time on clearing my name.”

    The resignation came two days after Kang proclaimed his innocence and said he would defend himself at all costs. Kang also said that he was placed on medical leave for stress related to the allegations.

    He did not respond to a request for comment from the Star on Thursday.

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was criticized this week by the NDP for failing to suspend Kang from the Liberal caucus while he’s being investigated for sexual harassment. Earlier instances of alleged harassment and assault resulted in caucus expulsions, such as in 2015 when two Liberal MPs were accused of harassing female members from the NDP.

    Trudeau told reporters this week that a new process that was put in place in 2014 is being followed, and declined to comment further.

    “The whip’s office is very much engaged, as it must be in this process, and we will allow this process to unfold as it should,” he said.

    The human resources office investigates claims of harassment, abuse of authority, misconduct and sexual harassment among MPs and parliamentary employees, including workers in constituency offices.

    During the 2016-17 fiscal year, the office received 19 cases and deemed two serious enough for investigation, according to its most recent annual report. Both cases were found to be “not substantiated.”

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    The provincial agency that assesses property values has agreed to lower the value of some Yonge St. properties hit with exorbitant tax increases, but says it’s up to Queen’s Park to change how such calculations are made.

    “The affected small businesses have already been made aware of the reduction and MPAC (Municipal Property Assessment Corp.) will issue official reduced property assessment notices in September,” an MPAC spokeswoman wrote in an email.

    Mayor John Tory this week wrote to Finance Minister Charles Sousa asking the province to fix the methodology to allow for a “more realistic” appraisal of the downtown commercial properties.

    Recent property tax reassessments by MPAC left business owners with “sticker shock,” that led many to close or consider closing their doors, Tory wrote in his letter.

    MPAC calculates properties’ current value assessment (CVA) based on a comparison of nearby land sales, which have spiked due to land speculation for condo development.

    “MPAC is using the direct sales comparison of Yorkville’s 1 Bloor West development project at the corner of Yonge St. to forecast the highest and best use for every other commercial building on Yonge St.,” Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam wrote in an opinion piece in last weekend’s Star.

    “This approach contributes to a speculative real estate market where projected future values appear to be reported by MPAC as current values.”

    Officials at Queen’s Park directed all inquiries to MPAC.

    “MPAC’s role is to administer the property assessment system in Ontario, while the methodology itself is defined by the government of Ontario under the Assessment Act,” an emailed statement said.

    The vast majority of the Yonge St. businesses are tenants, not building owners, so many are trapped in leases in which their contracts force them to pay any additional annual taxes, according the Yonge Street Small Business Association’s web site.

    Some of the storefronts, facing increases of up to 500 per cent, have hung signs in the windows declaring a “tax revolt” and blaming the mayor, though he had no control over the increases.

    On Thursday, Wong-Tam said while she welcomes MPAC’s “willingness to reassess the properties on Yonge St.,” it is a “short-term solution.”

    “The necessary change in policy goes beyond MPAC,” she stated.

    The mayor “sees MPAC’s statement today as a good first step,” said Don Peat, director of communications.

    “As his letter stated, he looks forward to working with Minister Sousa to find a way to fix the provincial assessment system.”

    0 0

    Call it the Ford conundrum.

    As Doug Ford promises to finally reveal his political plans for next year, some Progressive Conservatives are quietly looking for a way to talk the controversial ex-councillor out of running for them.

    The Tories view Ford as a double-edged sword: they know he is their only hope of winning Liberal-held Etobicoke North, but worry that his shoot-from-the-lip style could undermine leader Patrick Brown’s province-wide campaign in many other ridings next spring.

    “We don’t need him talking about how great Donald Trump is in the middle of the campaign; that’s not what Patrick is about,” said one wary PC insider, speaking on condition of anonymity in order to discuss internal deliberations.

    Ford said he finds it “comical” that anyone would think the Tories don’t want him to run provincially.

    “Never once. Total opposite. (Brown) has encouraged me to run. So has Walied (Soliman, the PC campaign chair) encouraged me to run. I’m welcome to run. They’re encouraging me to run,” he told the Star on Thursday.

    “They wouldn’t be doing that, asking me to go out to Sault Ste. Marie with them and door-knock and go out to all these events and speak on behalf of the MPPs and show up at events that he calls me to.”

    However, sources say Brown’s inner circle has been quietly working on a strategy that would allow the former one-term city councillor to bow out of a provincial run and still save face so he could take another shot at the Toronto mayoralty next year.

    Insiders say a senior Conservative emissary, such as a former premier or cabinet minister, could be asked to approach Ford to explain the problems his candidacy could cause for the rookie PC leader, who plans on running a centrist campaign.

    Tories admit the matter is delicate because of the egos involved and the fact they don’t want to alienate Ford, whose late father and namesake was a Tory MPP from 1995 to ’99.

    “Doug has been a good soldier; he was in Sault Ste. Marie pulling votes (for the June 1 byelection victory) and helped Raymond (Cho win Scarborough Rouge River byelection last Sept. 1),” said another top PC source.

    Political adviser Nick Kouvalis, who helped put both Doug’s late brother, Rob Ford, and Tory in the mayor’s office, tweeted this week that he expects Doug will announce he’s not running as an MPP.

    “I hear the PCs have rejected Doug Ford as a candidate and that is why Doug is rushing to save face before they publicly disallow him,” he said on Twitter.

    The two men are not on good terms despite their history together on Rob Ford’s victorious 2010 campaign.

    “Ford plays all for fools,” Kouvalis said in another tweet. “Announcing that he’s not running for MPP allows media to speculate for months about mayoralty. He craves attention.”

    Asked about that, Ford said: “That’s just Nick playing political games.”

    “I don’t buy all the Tory insider crap. I can guarantee you one thing: I have great respect for Patrick. I’ve been working my back off for him and the public ever since he’s been elected. And he’s going to be the next premier,” Ford said.

    Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals are hoping the outspoken Ford runs provincially, because they will use any of his pro-Trump statements, or other outrageous claims, to taint Brown.

    A cornerstone of Wynne’s June 7, 2018 re-election bid is to tie the Conservatives to the increasingly unpopular U.S. president.

    “We think it’s only fair to remind voters of what change for the sake of change can look like,” said one Liberal insider, speaking on background to discuss the party’s plans.

    Wynne, herself, outlined that Trump-centric strategy in a major speech Apr. 24.

    “We cannot simply assume that President Trump will do the right thing or make the right choices,” she warned.

    However, linking Brown to Trump in the minds of Ontarians is easier for the Liberals if a candidate such as Ford is on the ticket.

    Agriculture Minister Jeff Leal beamed when asked at Queen’s Park of Thursday about that prospect.

    “I know the leader of the opposition will expect Mr. Ford to abide by whatever platform elements that the leader of the opposition wants to talk about during an election campaign,” said Leal.

    “You’re always, every day, responsible for the comments you make during a campaign; it’s a team game,” he said.

    Health Minister Eric Hoskins noted that Brown may have enough challenges already since he has yet to tell Ontarians what he would do if elected.

    “Patrick has sufficient deficiencies in terms of his lack of policy that he’s been able to articulate,” said Hoskins, suggesting Ford could have an impact on this perceived challenge.

    “There may be other individuals that, if he can attract (them) to his campaign, that may sway things one way or the other.”

    Ford, 52, has always said his other option was an attempt to return to Toronto City Hall.

    But political observers believe Ford would face an uphill battle in a rematch against the still popular incumbent, who is seeking a second term.

    Ford, naturally, doesn’t see it that way.

    “I’m the only guy in the entire country who can give him a run for his money.”

    Tory has brushed aside any threat Ford’s candidacy may pose.

    In 2014, Tory captured 394,775 votes compared to Ford’s 330,610.

    That year, Doug Ford spent $558,724 of his own money to run for mayor after his brother Rob’s cancer diagnosis forced him to drop out in September. Doug Ford raised $356,167 in donations.

    Tory, 63, didn’t spend a nickel of his own money to get elected. He received $2.8 million from more than 5,000 donors, including many prominent names in the business world who donated the maximum $2,500.

    In 2015, Ford told the Toronto Sun he would drop a half million dollars “in a heartbeat” to run for public office at any level, municipal, provincially or federally.

    But the campaign finance rules have changed for 2018, and the maximum contribution a candidate can make to his or her own election campaign is $25,000.

    Previously, there was no limit on what a candidate could spend as long as he or she didn’t exceed the overall spending limit, which was $1.36 million in 2014.

    Ford played down the new spending cap, noting he had only “four weeks to raise money and put a campaign together” in 2014.

    “I don’t see a problem either way if I run provincially or if I run municipally about raising money.”

    Ford says he’ll announce his future plans at his family’s semi-regular Ford Fest barbeque next Friday in Etobicoke.

    0 0

    On the 11th floor of 890 Yonge St. lies wunderdog Iggy. He’s sleepy but still eager to show off his toys, begging for belly rubs and rolling onto his back with an orange plush fox in his mouth.

    At two years old Iggy — a Labrador-Bernese Mountain Dog cross — is not like most dogs.

    When ambulance sirens blare past below, he doesn’t flinch. He’s uniquely obedient, too. There’s the usual set of commands: up, off, sit, lie down.

    But there are others as well.

    He doesn’t walk until his dog-mom Karyn Kennedy says “forward.” When she says “visit,” he immediately rises and rests his head in her lap.

    These are the commands that make Iggy friend to even the most timid children.

    Iggy, trained by National Service Dogs, is the first dog approved to support children in Toronto courts.

    He’ll work with the Boost Child and Youth Advocacy Centre to guide victims through the court process’s interviews with police, medical exams and testimonies.

    Iggy has been trained to provide light pressure by putting his head in a child’s lap or deep pressure by lying across them. It’s his job to help boost a child’s sense of security and reduce anxiety through snuggles or reassuring nudges.

    The dogs that are picked for the Boost Accredited Reliable K9s (BARK) program are calm by nature, according to Danielle Forbes, the National Service Dogs’ executive director.

    “These children have suffered abuse and trauma. They can tend to be closed down, talking to adults especially if those adults seem big and scary and especially in a court situation that is very official,” Forbes said. “(Iggy’s) amazing at breaking down those barriers. (He’s) a non-judgmental ear so the children can tell their story to the dog.”

    Iggy’s behaviour acts as a model for the children to follow while in court.

    “If a dog is in there and they’re super chill, the children will tend to go there with them and feed off that low-energy, relaxed persona,” Forbes said.

    Interviewers can use Iggy to redirect a child’s attention too.

    “What I’ve seen personally is they’ll give the dog little kisses on the head and pet him and hug him. As they get more comfortable and more relaxed the story comes out,” Forbes added.

    Iggy is Boost’s second special canine. His friend Jersey recently began working out of their Peterborough office.

    The pair were bred by National Service Dogs, raised by volunteers from eight weeks to 18 months and then brought into kennels where they were trained by paid professionals. By two years old they were designated to Boost.

    Kennedy, who is also Boost’s CEO, has been Iggy’s handler since April. They ride the train to work together.

    Kennedy looks after Iggy’s busy schedule and makes sure he’s groomed and ready to go when Boost’s police officers (who work in the office on rotating shifts), children’s aid workers or court workers need him.

    All of the area judges have met Iggy and approved him for service in their courtrooms.

    “The kids love him, especially the adolescents, which we weren’t really expecting,” Kennedy said.

    Sponsored by the Canadian Pet Expo, Iggy will meet visitors as part of the Facility Dog Team at the Sept. 9-10 convention.

    A portion of the expo’s proceeds go to supporting both of Boost’s Ontario court dogs so that their services can be provided at no cost.

    “In today’s day and age whether it be stress, poor diets, poor sleeping, everybody needs that little bit of support,” said Grant Crossman, the expo’s director. “For kids, (Boost is) a phenomenal program for their PTSD.”

    On Sept. 11, Iggy will make his first of many appearances in court.

    “He’ll do this for the next 8-10 years and then he’ll retire,” Kennedy said, smiling. “He’s an amazing dog. I’ve had dogs my whole life, I’ve never had a dog like this before. He’s very, very intuitive. He seems to know what kids need. There’s something really special about him.”

    0 0

    OTTAWA—U.S. President Donald Trump, who threatened to walk away from NAFTA after complaining Canada and Mexico were being “difficult” at the negotiating table, now says he and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau agree on one thing: they both want a new NAFTA deal quickly.

    The White House released a statement saying Trump and Trudeau spoke Thursday about the North American Free Trade Agreement, and the two leaders “stressed their hope to reach an agreement by the end of this year.”

    Trudeau’s office made no mention of this in an official summary to Canadian media of the leaders’ conversation.

    The Prime Minister’s Office said only that Trudeau offered condolences and Canadian assistance for the recovery effort in flood-stricken zones in the southern U.S. (Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said the U.S. federal emergency management agency, FEMA, formally requested from Canada supplies such as hygiene kits and baby supplies for Hurricane Harvey victims.)

    Mexico has been pushing for a trade deal according to Trump’s timeline all along, ahead of presidential elections looming in Mexico next year.

    And it is Mexico that provided the clearest picture yet of how wide the gaps are as the second round of NAFTA talks begins Friday in Mexico City.

    Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo told Mexico’s Senate that failure at the NAFTA table is a real possibility, while the Canadians insist it’s early days yet.

    “We have to have an alternative plan perfectly prepared. A scenario without NAFTA is something we have to think about,” said Guajardo, according to an Associated Press report.

    Guajardo said key sticking points include U.S. demands to modify NAFTA’s dispute resolution process and tighten labour standards, and that about 15 of the 25 negotiating groups have run into differences after the first round of talks that ended Aug. 20 in Washington. Canadian officials won’t discuss this kind of detail.

    Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto dispatched top ministers to Washington to push back at Trump’s heated political rhetoric and to stress the need for serious negotiations, not threats. Mexico says it will work on a “Plan B” to diversify its trade options.

    In Montreal, Trudeau continued to project calm, telling the United Food and Commercial Workers Canada national convention on Thursday that his government is focused on increasing labour and environmental protections. “We’re going to get a fair deal for Canadian workers,” Trudeau said.

    Speaking on condition of anonymity, several senior Canadian officials told the Star that Trump’s threats are seen as “a negotiating tactic.” It was always known that this was “an arrow in their quiver,” said one official, although not one Canadians expected to be deployed at this early stage.

    Another senior official said nothing has materially changed, and it is hard to see “how that really affects the dynamics in Congress, which is where a deal has to be ratified if a new one is on the table.”

    However the Canadians believe John Kelly’s appointment as Trump’s chief of staff was a “good development” overall, because, while he hasn’t stopped the president from tweeting, the retired general knows Canada well. It’s said that during the state visit to Washington in February, at a meeting between Canadian ministers and Trump cabinet members, Kelly, then homeland security secretary, said “the only problem we have with the northern border is that it’s too slow.”

    Some stakeholders who are advising the Canadian negotiating team say Canada has nothing to fear from Trump’s rhetoric. They want Canada to toughen its own stand at the bargaining table in favour of strong labour and environmental protections.

    Read more:

    9 key terms you’ll need to know for the NAFTA negotiations

    Trump’s NAFTA bluster all about him, not us: Tim Harper

    Trump tweets threat to pull out of NAFTA talks, calling Canada ‘very difficult’

    Speaking from Mexico City, Jerry Dias — national president of Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union, representing more than 310,000 workers — called Trump’s threats “comical,” adding if the U.S. were to walk away now, it could hurt American autoworkers even more.

    Dias argues if NAFTA is terminated and no longer applied to the auto industry, the default would be a 2.5-per-cent tariff that the U.S. applies to imported vehicles. “At least in Canada, our tariff on imported vehicles is 6.1 per cent,” he said. Dias said American, German and Japanese auto companies would be happy to pay a 2.5-per-cent tariff and move even more production to Mexico, where labour and environmental protections are lax. Dias says if Trump is serious about raising labour standards to ensure a level playing field, he would have to insist on enforceability and significant penalties, which would, then, also mean taking on American states in the south that have right-to-work or anti-strike laws, and put up barriers to unionization or free collective bargaining.

    “The emperor has no clothes,” said Dias.

    Dias says Canada has proposed adhering to international labour standards, but the U.S. is unlikely to agree, having signed only two of eight International Labour Organization conventions. “So they (the U.S.) are going to have to do a lot more than just talk tough, because it doesn’t scare anybody.”

    Dias wants Canada to insist on tougher rules for North American content in autos and auto parts. Dias says U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has indicated to him he wants a “significant” increase in American content, but Dias wouldn’t reveal the number Ross told him.

    With files from The Canadian Press

    0 0

    An 18-year-old woman is in critical condition after being shot in the face at a popular 24-hour restaurant in Mississauga early Friday morning, police say.

    Just before 1 a.m., Peel Regional Police were called to Zet’s Restaurant on Airport Rd., near Pearson airport, and found the young woman suffering from gunshot wounds. She was rushed to hospital in what paramedics describe as critical but not life-threatening condition.

    The restaurant was open at the time. No one else was harmed, but police say there were numerous witnesses in the area and that they are cooperating in the investigation.

    No suspect information has been released yet.

    0 0

    The 15-year-old boy who died after he was shot by Peel police in late July was an outgoing Mississauga high school student who recently came to Canada from Jamaica to start a new life.

    Ozama Shaw — among the youngest people killed by police in Ontario — died at the Hospital for Sick Children on Saturday, after undergoing 11 surgeries and procedures in 30 days to treat a gunshot wound to his abdomen. Crowded around his hospital bed when he died were his mother, stepfather and 17-year-old brother.

    “They allowed me to go on the bed with him, so I held him,” Kadene, his mother, said in an interview in her Mississauga home this week, tears running down her face. “I still refused to believe, because I didn’t want to let go of my baby. It was the hardest thing to do.”

    Shaw’s name and the details of his final days are available only because the family confirmed his identity to the Star.

    His death is under investigation by Ontario’s police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), which said earlier this week that it would not release the name of the young male. Jason Gennaro, a spokesperson for the SIU, told the Star in an email that the watchdog did not have family consent to release the name of the youth, which the family confirmed to the Star.

    Gennaro also said the SIU has a separate policy about naming youth, but did not provide the details by press time Thursday.

    Critics of the SIU naming policy argue the identities of the deceased in police shootings are critical to understanding and preventing such deaths.

    Shaw was shot in the early hours of July 27 in Mississauga’s Credit Valley Town Plaza, where Peel police had been called for a gas station robbery. According to police, the teen had been part of a trio trying to rob the station. The SIU said two of the males then fled in a car, while the third stayed behind, attempted to rob another business and tried to gain entry into three occupied vehicles.

    One witness told the Star that an armed male attempted to get into her car and pointed a gun at her, but that she scared him off and called 911.

    Surveillance footage obtained by CBC News also shows a young male armed with a gun attempting to rob a Pizza Pizza. In the video, which had no sound, the cashier reaches for the gun and grabs the barrel, then lets go and backs up, hands in the air. The SIU has not confirmed that Shaw was armed when he was shot.

    For Shaw’s family, the events of July 27 are difficult to reconcile with the outgoing student who would have been starting Grade 10, a teen who played offensive lineman on his football team and riddled family and strangers alike with questions.

    “He had a very curious mind. He just wanted to know things,” Kadene said.

    In their Mississauga home, Shaw smiles warmly in a large framed photo on the family’s dining room table, donning a cap and gown at his 2016 graduation from Tomken Road Middle School. A sympathy card from neighbours in the family’s tight-knit condo building is propped up next to it. Shaw’s prized BMX bike leans against the wall outside.

    Shaw’s older brother is upstairs, doing well considering the circumstances, Kadene said.

    She pulls out her phone and begins swiping through photos of Shaw, first as a boy in his native Jamaica, then as a young man in Canada. She stops at a picture of him sitting in the window seat of a plane on Sept. 14, 2015 — his first flight, on his way to Canada after obtaining permanent residency status. “That was a very exciting day for us,” Kadene said.

    “When the chance came up for him to socialize or do something that was adventurous, he just couldn’t resist,” said David, his stepfather, who bonded with Shaw on waterslides during his visits to Jamaica before Shaw’s move to Canada.

    Shaw’s family says he was doing well in his new home — he enjoyed his teachers and loved Canada, snow and all. But more recently, they say he had fallen into the wrong crowd and had friends Kadene didn’t approve of. He was a good kid, they said, but he had started acting out, coming home well after curfew or disappearing for days at a time.

    They believe that at the time of the shooting, Shaw may have been on the party drug “molly,” also known as MDMA, the active ingredient in ecstasy.

    David and Kadene also believe Shaw was carrying a toy or BB gun. David said he doesn’t understand why the three drivers Shaw allegedly approached wouldn’t have simply given up their cars if they believed the gun was real.

    In the days before the shooting, Shaw had barely been home. Kadene said she called Peel police to report that he was missing six days before the shooting.

    She said an officer came by the house a couple of days after she reported him missing and took a statement, but nothing came of it. David and Kadene also claim they asked the Children’s Aid Society if Shaw could be placed in temporary care, so he would be looked after when he refused to come home. “I begged for help,” Kadene said.

    Sgt. Josh Colley, spokesperson for Peel Regional Police, said in an email Thursday that because the SIU is involved, he had “minimal knowledge of the incident.”

    Two days before the shooting, Kadene said Shaw came home briefly for a shower. She said she tried to find out where he had been and what was happening, but he refused to answer and left.

    While watching the news early on July 27, she saw that a teen had been shot by police in Mississauga and instantly knew it was her son — “I could just feel it,” she said.

    The SIU contacted her on her cellphone as she was driving to the police station with Shaw’s identification, which he never carried. Watchdog investigators then took her to Sick Kids hospital, where she kept vigil until her son’s death.

    For the first few weeks, Shaw was conscious but could not talk, so he nodded his head, blinked his eyes and squeezed hands to answer questions. But he later lost consciousness, the family said.

    After he died, the family donated Shaw’s muscle and tissue; he had been too sick to donate organs.

    Asked how she felt about police actions, Kadene said she has been solely focusing on her son, but that her family in Jamaica are in disbelief that he was killed by police in Canada.

    “He deserved another chance. He had so much potential,” David said.

    David said he and his wife are “eternally grateful” for staff at Sick Kids and Ronald McDonald House, where Kadene stayed during her son’s hospitalization.

    The family is now attempting to raise money to take Shaw’s body back to Jamaica, where his father, grandparents, aunts and childhood friends are reeling over the death. They are expecting hundreds of people at his celebration of life. He was well loved by everyone back home, David said.

    “He always made sure everyone knew him,” he said.

    Shaw is believed to be the youngest person killed by police in Ontario, alongside 15-year-old Duane Christian, who was killed by Toronto police in Scarborough in 2006.

    Wendy Gillis can be reached at .

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