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    The Canadian government sent a cargo plane loaded with humanitarian supplies to Texas on Sunday as part of a relief effort following the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey.

    The plane, filled with supplies including baby formula, blankets and cribs, departed the Canadian Forces base in Trenton, Ont., for the Lackland Airforce base near San Antonio.

    In a statement, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said that Canada and the U.S. are there for each other in times of crisis, “like all good neighbours.”

    The Ontario and Quebec governments are also chipping into to help with relief aid.

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with U.S. President Donald Trump Thursday about the floods and relief efforts, and the American embassy in Ottawa expressed gratitude for Canada’s offer of support.

    Hurricane Harvey forced about 750,000 people out of their homes, and over one million others are under a voluntary evacuation order along the Gulf Coast.

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    Two men are in hospital after a shooting in North York in the Black Creek neighbourhood Sunday afternoon.

    Toronto police said they received calls for sounds of gunshots at Shoreham Dr. and Shoreham Ct. near Jane St. and Steeles Ave. W. around 3 p.m.

    When they arrived on scene they found a man suffering from gunshot wounds but he was conscious and breathing.

    Paramedics said the man is in his 40s and he was taken to a trauma centre in serious but non-life threatening condition.

    Around 3:30 p.m. police said a second male victim walked into hospital with gunshot wounds that are considered non-life threatening.

    Const. Allyson Douglas-Cook said the only suspect information is that a vehicle was seen leaving the area that is described by witnesses as a white SUV.

    This is the fifth shooting in the North York area since Aug. 30. when two teenagers were shot.

    On Aug. 31 Jovane Clarke was shot dead inside Sheridan Mall and the next day a man was seriously injured after being shot near Lotherton Pathway and Caledonia Rd., south of Lawrence Ave. W.

    On Saturday night 34-year-old Awad Hurre was found dead after being shot near an Etobicoke daycare centre not far from the previous North York shootings.

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    Motorists are getting some relief at the pumps after gas prices saw an average two-cent decrease on Sunday.

    As of Sunday afternoon, the average gas price in Toronto is at $1.297, down from $1.329 on Saturday. Drivers saw a nine-cent increase a litre on Saturday due to the continuing price surge in the wake of Hurricane Harvery.

    Prices are expected to hover around the $1.30 until Thursday, said petroleum analyst Dan McTeague.

    Major gasoline refineries in the U.S. were shut down by Harvey, which also caused the temporary shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline — what McTeague calls the “aortic artery” of gasoline transportation for the U.S. Atlantic Coast.

    In Canada, prices are also affected by a lack of competition among gasoline wholesalers and taxes, McTeague said. It could be two to three weeks before refineries are up and running again.

    As of 2:30 a.m., here are the Toronto pumps with the cheapest gas, according to

    • Go-Go Gas Bar, 483 Sammon Ave. — $1.089

    • Global 331 Sammon Ave. — $1.159

    • Costco, Taymall Ave. near The Queensway — $1.209

    <bullet>Costco, 1411 Warden Ave. — $1.209

    • 3 Valleys, 58 Three Valleys Dr. — $1.219

    With files from Emily Fearon and Laura Howells

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    From Queen’s Park, they face outwards down University Ave.

    Elevated above the path walked daily by Ontario politicians, the historic statues look down with steely eyes. They have done so for decades. Down the road, at city hall, there are even more of the figures.

    The impact of such statues has been the subject of growing debate in recent weeks. An argument over Confederate statues in the United States took a bloody turn in Charlottesville, Va., recently, when a white nationalist drove into a crowd of counter-protestors, killing one of them, 32-year-old Heather Heyer.

    Closer to home came a call from the Ontario teachers union to remove the name of John A. Macdonald, the first prime minister of Canada, from schools.

    On a recent afternoon, Adam Bunch, who is writing a book about Toronto’s history, sat on the steps of Queen’s Park to talk about some of the complex legacies the city’s statues immortalize in metal and stone.

    (Bunch penned a string of tweets that garnered substantial attention, as he provided commentary on the historical context of some of the city’s monuments.)

    “Their stories are more complicated than just putting a person on a pedestal and adding a little plaque with a date would suggest,” he said.

    John Graves Simcoe

    “John Graves Simcoe is over there behind the trees,” said Bunch as he gestured from Queen’s Park’s front steps. Tucked behind foliage, the inaugural lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada and founder of Toronto leans jauntily on a walking stick, a sash around his waist and hat tucked under-arm.

    Simcoe, to Bunch, is “a good example of how complicated things get when you start to dig (into things).”

    Although Simcoe was an abolitionist who worked tirelessly to eliminate slavery in the province, he later took command of British troops in Haiti, fighting against the slave uprising of the Haitian Revolution.

    Simcoe didn’t free any existing slaves with his Act Against Slavery. It prohibited new slaves being brought into Upper Canada, but also kept existing slaves in captivity for the remainder of their lives, with their children enslaved until they reached age 25.

    Shannon McDeez, the organizer of the Toronto Unity Rally and a fellow at the University of Toronto, pointed out that Simcoe’s contributions certainly have a place in Canadian history.

    But she believes the monument is better suited to a museum than a public space.

    “Art or statues in a public space should be non-partisan for the benefit of all of the community,” said McDeez, who added that giving citizens the chance to learn about figures of Canada’s political past on their own time would avoid hurtful histories being forced upon minority groups on a daily basis.

    Historical figures aren’t either heroes or villains, she said, they have nuances, and can be capable of both beautiful and terrible acts. “What if someone wanted to erect a statue of (Stephen) Harper? What if someone wanted to erect a statue of Rob Ford?”

    “Public space is not the place for partisan art.”

    George Brown

    On a tall, dowel-like platform by the Queen’s Park front steps, George Brown reaches out his hand and steps forward, just inching off his pedestal.

    “Father of Confederation, founder of the Globe newspaper,” Bunch said. “He passionately supported and did work on behalf of turning Toronto into a relatively safe haven at the end of the Underground Railroad.”

    Although Brown fought for Black rights, he espoused hatred towards Irish Catholics.

    “He said horrible things about them, and used the Globe as a propaganda machine to incite hatred against Irish Catholics,” Bunch said. One column from the time read that “Irish beggars are to be met everywhere, and they are ignorant and vicious as they are poor.”

    Notwithstanding his prejudice, some members of Toronto’s present-day Irish community do not object to the statue.

    “I think he was a product of his time,” said Sandra McKeown, who emigrated from Ireland in 2002 and is the founder of the Irish Association of Toronto. Given Brown’s involvement in Canadian politics, a commemoration of his work belongs at Queen’s Park, she said.

    “You cannot rewrite history by removing statues. We should remember history and learn from it, instead of pretending it never happened.

    “True progress is being able to accept the past.”

    James Whitney

    “That’s James Whitney,” said Bunch, pointing to an imposing statue to the right of the steps. As if to steady himself, Whitney leans on a cloth-draped pedestal to one side, and reaches out a hand in front of him.

    Whitney, the sixth premier of Ontario, came into office in 1905 and stayed for nearly 10 years. His work in securing the public ownership of hydro utilities was a “very big moment,” Bunch said.

    But Whitney’s legacy, too, is tinged by prejudice; in 1912, he passed a regulation prohibiting teachers in elementary schools from speaking to students in French beyond Grade 2.

    In 2016, Kathleen Wynne issued a formal apology for the decision, which she called a “wound” on Ontario’s francophone community.

    Michel Prévost, chief archivist for the University of Ottawa, called Whitney’s actions “traumatic” for the Franco-Ontarian community.

    But he doesn’t believe the statue should be moved.

    “People know less about history if it’s in museums,” he said, explaining that passing a monument on a daily commute piques curiosity and conversation.

    “He is part of the history of Ontario.”

    In February this year, the Ontario government announced a monument dedicated to the francophone community will appear alongside Whitney as a feature of the Queen’s Park grounds in early 2018.

    Winston Churchill

    “Churchill is down at city hall, and he’s a pretty good example,” Bunch said. The British prime minister is revered as a great political leader and vanquisher of Nazis during the Second World War.

    Churchill also had a vested affection for Canada, which he declared freely.

    “He’s celebrated for good reason,” Bunch said.

    “But his story is deeply woven into colonialism and the empire and fighting wars against Indigenous people around the world, which he certainly revelled in.”

    Churchill once went so far as to state his strong favour towards using “poisoned gas against uncivilized tribes.”

    He also called the inhabitants of India, then a British colony, a “beastly people with a beastly religion.”

    The bronze installation outside city hall depicts a scowling Churchill, and was moved in 2014 from the south to the north side of Nathan Phillips Square. McDeez also spoke to Churchill’s contribution to colonialism, but reaffirmed that the debate shouldn’t be around statues or their merit.

    “What I do care about is if their presence is hurting fellow citizens of the city,” she said. “Then? Yeah, we should have a discussion about it.”

    What now?

    Bunch believes that a certain clenched-teeth approach to the statue debate comes from a feeling some people may have that their heritage is being eclipsed.

    “For a long time, only one side has had a voice and I imagine (they) feel threatened when anyone else wants to share the platform,” he said.

    A statue freezes time, and reflects the values a culture or government had at the time it was erected. Difficult conversations emerge when those values have changed.

    Taking a critical look at Toronto’s statues isn’t easy, he said, nor is it all bad. “This is a place that’s had failed revolutions and plagues and war, and brave figures doing good things, too,” he said.

    But to tell the full story of the city’s history, more voices need to be heard.

    “I think the most important thing is we need to do more listening to Indigenous voices, people of colour, women’s voices,” he said. “This is a house, a legislature that belongs to all Ontarians.”

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    A group of Ontario bikers is having second thoughts about calling themselves the new Satan’s Choice Club after a harsh Facebook condemnation of their club by a senior Hells Angel.

    The new club is taking a Facebook slamming by online friends of GTA Hells Angel Donny Petersen.

    “Those who take a patch from a respected club, one that has history, courage, who has paid their dues, died, done time and all the rest . . . like what are you thinking?” Petersen himself wrote.

    “You are pretenders,” Petersen wrote.

    Petersen’s comments received resounding approval from his Facebook friends.

    The old Satan’s Choice was on the road for four decades before it ceased to exist when it was absorbed by the Hells Angels in December 2000.

    They were once the world’s second largest outlaw motorcycle club, known for their grinning devil patch and their proud Oshawa roots.

    “We’re evaluating everything,” a spokesperson for the new club said on the condition of anonymity.

    That ranges from changing the name to pulling the club off the road, the spokesperson said. He maintained that the Facebook criticism isn’t a factor.

    The comments come a few days after the new club was ridiculed online by Petersen, a longtime GTA biker.

    The Hells Angels had previously been silent about the emergence of the new club, which sprouted up in early July in the Ottawa area, where the Hells Angels shut down their clubhouse last fall.


    Lorne Campbell, a longtime Satan’s Choice member, said he agreed with Petersen’s comments.

    Campbell predicted that members of the new club run the risk of public humiliation and beatings if they didn’t immediately fold and stop wearing their grinning devil patches.

    “They’ll be laughed at,” said Campbell, who was a member of the Satan’s Choice for 35 years. “They’ll be punched out. They’ll be jumped.”

    Campbell stressed that he was not threatening the new Satan’s Choice members himself — just warning them that they can expect a rocky ride from other members of the outlaw biker world if they appear in public wearing the patches.

    “It’s an insult,” Campbell said, adding that formation of the new Satan’s Choice is huge news in outlaw biker circles.

    The old club was known for frequent clashes with the law, which landed some members in prison.

    The new club planned to be law-abiding and participate in community-minded charity events, its spokesperson said.

    It has kept a low profile this summer, Det. Sgt. Len Isnor of the OPP biker squad said.

    “We’ve only had a few sightings of them,” Isnor said.

    Isnor earlier said police would be watching to make sure there isn’t a threat to the general public.

    The new club is made up of Durham- and Ottawa-area bikers.

    They moved into the Ottawa area last month and have 48 members and two “strikers” — or prospective members — the spokesperson said.

    Campbell said they can’t just put on patches modelled upon the old club. Members of the old Satan’s Choice fought — and sometimes died — because they cherished their patches and being a part of the club, he said.

    “I’ve been involved in shootings, stabbings, beatings, the whole gamut,” Campbell said.

    Campbell said he thinks the new club should hand in its patches to him and then apologize to the Hells Angels, whose members still include former Satan’s Choice members.

    “These guys can’t be proud of who they are,” Campbell said.

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    A dog that served with the Toronto police for seven years died following a police operation Saturday night.

    Toronto police Const. Allyson Douglas-Cook said Kash, a German shepherd, and his handler, Const. Matthew Butt, were responding to a call about a person with a gun around 5:30 p.m. in the area of the Don Valley Pkwy. and Wynford Dr.

    She said police received reports that someone had been seen tossing a gun into a bus. The police dog services unit was called when officers were unable to find the firearm.

    Kash found the gun, Douglas-Cook said. When they went back to their station, Butt realized the dog was in distress.

    “They took him to a local emergency vet service. Unfortunately, he did not make it. He passed away for medical reasons,” Douglas-Cook said.

    In a tweet, the Toronto police K9 unit announced the death of Kash.

    “I know the handler, as we all are, are grieving for the lost of this beautiful creature,” said Douglas-Cook.

    In February, Kash and Butt captured four males after an attempted carjacking in the Jane and Wilson area. Two days later, the duo captured a man who fled into a ravine after shots were fired in Thorncliffe Park.

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    A Mississauga imam who had his image used in a fake news article about mosques refusing to shelter victims of Hurricane Harvey says he’s never even been to Texas.

    A photo of Ibrahim Hindy of the Dar Al-Tawheed Islamic Centre was the main image of multiple hoax articles about an imam who refused to shelter non-Muslims displaced by Hurricane Harvey in their mosques.

    The article was shared by thousands on social media, with many expressing outrage at an event that did not happen. The Last Line of Defense, a conservative website where the post originated, says on its website that “everything on this site is a satirical work of fiction.”

    The image of Hindy that was used shows the logo for Global, a Canadian television network, in the bottom right corner.

    Hindy, who is in Saudi Arabia for Hajj, the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, was not available for comment.

    He told CityNews that the name of the mosque in the fake story “doesn’t make sense in any language” and he is concerned that fake stories can incite violence.

    Hindy addressed the fake story on social media, clarifying that he is not in Houston, but is praying for victims of the hurricane that has caused catastrophic damage in and around the city.

    He also encouraged people to donate to Islamic Relief USA, a charity that is raising funds to help those affected by the hurricane.

    “I pray that Allah brings aid and comfort to all the victims, whether Muslim or not,” Hindy wrote on Facebook.

    In April, Hindy received death threats for supporting Muslim prayer in schools within the Peel District School Board.

    The Last Line of Defense website didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

    Similar false articles also used an image of Ammar Shahin, a imam based in Davis, California. Shahin did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    The Houston area is home to over 250,000 Muslims, and many mosques and charitable organizations have been providing relief and shelter to those affected by the hurricane.

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    Ground crew workers on strike at Toronto Pearson International Airport are taking their demonstration to a new level by blocking access to Terminal 1 and 3 and causing traffic to backup coming in to the airport.

    Peel police said some of the demonstrators have made their way onto the roads causing traffic to backup on Hwy. 409 to Hwy. 427 and Hwy. 401.

    Const. Mark Fischer said the traffic started backing up around 1 p.m. and it had gotten increasingly worse around 5 p.m.

    “The problem is now that people are getting out of their cars and walking on the road to the airport.”

    The unionized workers are employed by Swissport, a company that services 30 airlines at Pearson including Sunwing, Air Transat, Air France and British Airways. They are represented by the Teamsters union and about 700 workers have been on strike since the end of July.

    The ground crew workers went on strike after citing scheduling issues, a wage freeze and a lack of respect from Swissport. They rejected a contract offer on Aug. 23

    Police and Toronto Pearson are asking people stuck in traffic to remain in their vehicles and for other drivers to avoid the area if possible.

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    Two days after Const. Michael Theriault was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, assault with a weapon, and public mischief in the violent beating of Whitby teen Dafonte Miller, he was supposed to take the stand in a Scarborough courtroom.

    As the sole witness in a routine impaired driving trial, his testimony could make or break the case. But, to the surprise of the Crown prosecutor, Theriault didn’t show up. That Crown also wasn’t notified of the charges and that a subpoena — not usually required for police witnesses since testifying is part of their job — might be needed given that Theriault has been suspended with pay.

    The trial was adjourned and the case is now in jeopardy over concerns the delay has been unconstitutionally long.

    In another impaired driving case in which Theriault is a central witness, a hearing was held last month because the defence lawyer wants the court to allow her access to information about the investigation into Theriault by the Special Investigations Unit, the province’s police watchdog. She also wants the court to permit her to cross-examine him about the mischief charge he faces for allegedly misleading the police.

    Read more: SIU director tells Toronto chief to ‘educate’ cops about their duty to the police watchdog

    Toronto, Durham police accused of covering up Dafonte Miller assault case

    Bail conditions relaxed for cop and brother accused in Whitby assault

    Theriault’s credibility is a critical issue since he will be testifying about observations he made about the driver, defence lawyer Tina Kaye argued at the hearing.

    “Especially when you are dealing with an allegation of dishonesty and one that is so important as here. This officer is alleged to have misled an investigation . . . it is serious,” she said. “I can’t imagine a judge not permitting cross-examination on that point.”

    What is happening in Theriault’s cases demonstrates the ripple effect that can occur when an officer is criminally charged or charged under the Police Services Act.

    When that happens Crowns may reassess cases involving those officers to ensure there is still a reasonable prospect of conviction. Sometimes charges are stayed, sometimes — as with these two cases involving Theriault — the Crown decides to proceed.

    It is unknown how many charges are stayed or how many acquittals occur because a police officer involved in the case faces charges in another. The Ministry of the Attorney General and the Public Prosecution Service of Canada said they do not monitor that information.

    Charges and even convictions don’t preclude an officer from testifying.

    In a highly unusual instance, James Forcillo testified in an impaired driving case after his conviction for the attempted murder of Sammy Yatim.

    (Strict limits were imposed on cross-examining Forcillo about the conviction, but the judge ended up with significant concerns about the reliability of his evidence. The judge found Forcillo almost immediately decided the accused was a drug addict based on what Forcillo described as “meth face” and that he “failed to take into account anything which might contradict his assumption, a perfect case of tunnel vision.”)

    A defence lawyer can seek to cross-examine police officers on the charges they are facing, but the resulting information may not be much help to a judge since the defence lawyer cannot try to prove the allegation in court in what would amount to a mini-trial, Theriault’s lawyer, Michael Lacy, told the court during the recent hearing.

    “Is (my client) supposed to wait until a finding is made?” Kaye responded in her final submissions.

    Both Lacy and the Crown opposed the application for the defence to get information about Theriault’s charges and for Theriault to be cross-examined about it.

    Lacy was permitted to make submissions because Theriault’s records were being sought.

    A decision on whether the defence will be able to obtain the records and cross-examine Theriault will be released on Thursday.

    A separate issue can arise if a judge rules that an officer lied or stole, but the officer is not charged.

    Those judicial findings are not admissible in other cases, defence lawyer Daniel Brown said. That means a finding by a judge that a police officer stole or lied in one case can’t be used in another case.

    “It’s troubling,” he said. “These officers are effectively shielded from their prior misconduct as long as a conviction against them isn’t registered for perjury or theft.”

    University of Windsor law professor David Tanovich has argued that the Court of Appeal decision establishing that rule should be revisited since in most cases where a police officer is found to have lied, no charges are laid.

    Take the case of a Peel Region officer who stole a statue of movie character Tony Montana while executing a search warrant and lied about it in court during a drug case, along with three other officers. A judge stayed the drug charges at the end of May as a result. An internal investigation is ongoing. No charges have been laid against the officers.

    Defence lawyer Kim Schofield, who represented the accused in that case, said she recently had a case where serious drug charges were stayed by the Crown because of the involvement of the same Peel officers. Anecdotally, she said, she is aware of at least a dozen similar stays and says it’s an example of the system working fairly.

    Sgt. Joshua Colley, a spokesperson for Peel Regional Police, said he was not aware of charges being stayed but said he would be surprised if that was happening based only on the findings of one judge.

    Schofield said the case is unique because the Peel officers were involved in obtaining search warrants — and if the person who swore the search warrant can’t be trusted, there is no case.

    “If they are liars and they are swearing out Informations to Obtain (search warrants) to get in the door of someone, those cases are gone,” she said.

    Brown said he has noticed judges at the Brampton courthouse are also being particularly attentive to cases involving those officers.

    Brown criticized how secretive the process is with decisions made behind closed doors. “How many cases are impacted by these officers’ actions?” he said. “The Crown attorneys won’t say which cases they are or aren’t prosecuting or the reasons justifying those positions. It becomes an extremely opaque process and no one is accounting for these officers’ actions.”

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    OTTAWA—In 1969, the Canadian government published a proposal on “Indian policy” that quickly achieved infamy. Dubbed “the White Paper,” its idea was basically the complete legal assimilation of Indigenous peoples. Ottawa would transform reserves into private property, scrap all treaties and eliminate the Indian Act, with its blood-based calculus for “Indian” status.

    The thinking at the time — propagated by the new prime minister, Pierre Trudeau, and his “Indian Affairs” minister, Jean Chrétien — was that this would finally achieve equality for Indigenous peoples. They would, legally speaking, become just like any other Canadian.

    Many Indigenous peoples saw things differently.

    The backlash was huge, predicated on the notion that the nations that pre-date European settlement have a right to exist; that even though the Indian Act was, and still is, a widely reviled law from the 19th century, to wipe the slate clean — reserves, treaties and all — would extinguish a principle of partnership that stretches back even further, to the earliest treaties between Indigenous peoples and newly arrived colonizers.

    One of the most prominent voices to condemn the White Paper was Cree writer and activist, Harold Cardinal, who summed up the opposition thinking in his 1969 book, The Unjust Society. “We would rather continue to live in bondage under the inequitable Indian Act than surrender our sacred rights,” he wrote. “Any time the government wants to honour its obligations to us we are more than ready to help devise new Indian legislation.”

    Almost 50 years later, that time may finally be near.

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has taken a different approach to Indigenous policy than his father. He wants to scrap the Indian Act, yes, but instead of killing the concept of Indigenous nationhood along with it, he has made much ado about his commitment to strengthen it — essentially the opposite of assimilation.

    This week, as he shuffled his cabinet ahead of the fall sitting of Parliament, Trudeau announced what he framed as a big step toward fulfilling that vision: the dissolution of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) into two new government ministries, Indigenous Services and Crown-Indigenous Relations, headed respectively by ministers Jane Philpott and Carolyn Bennett.

    Read more:

    Trudeau shuffles ministers, overhauls Indigenous Affairs, brings friend O’Regan into cabinet

    Trudeau’s Indigenous strategy looks to the past: Walkom

    Firefighters hopeful Indigenous Affairs shakeup will lead to better fire safety measures on reserves

    Trudeau said this would replace the long-standing “paternalistic, colonial way” of government enshrined in INAC and the Indian Act. In its place will rise a new “nation-to-nation” relationship, part of an as-yet undefined system where First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples have self-determining government entities with rights and abilities to provide services to their own members.

    “It’s a story that is about decolonizing,” said the new Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett last week. “It is about getting rid of the paternalism and being able to understand that we have to move to a new way of working together.”

    A new frontier, in other words — but what is to be found over the horizon is still very much shrouded in questions.

    And skepticism.

    Pamela Palmater, the chair in Indigenous governance at Ryerson University, dismissed the whole thing as a “distraction” from what she characterized as the government’s failure to fund Indigenous education, housing, water infrastructure, health and child services at adequate levels.

    She also noted that the idea to split Indigenous Affairs comes from the 1996 report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, in which it was one of 440 recommendations for repairing government Indigenous policy that over the decades has included residential schools and laws that restricted movement, cultural practices, use of languages and voting rights of Indigenous Canadians.

    Palmater said she’s wary of the move to pluck a single edict from the commission report 21 years later, and even more so given that many argue the Trudeau government has failed to follow through on recommendations from the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission report on residential schools, and the implementation of the United Nations Declaration for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

    Palmater also expressed concern that the split would simply add layers of bureaucracy without addressing core issues.

    “It’s another superficial act that does nothing for people on the ground,” she said. “The problem has always been a lack of political will to do what they’re legally and morally bound to do.”

    The government’s handling of key issues under the now-dismantled Indigenous Affairs Department has certainly been criticized. The inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls is delayed and has been attacked as insensitive and inefficient by Indigenous families. And the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal determined in 2016 that the government was discriminating against Indigenous children by failing to provide social services comparable to non-Indigenous kids, and has ruled three times since that Ottawa is failing to fix this.

    Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, said that she has run up against a “can’t do” attitude for years in INAC. She welcomed the move to split the department, but said she wouldn’t express hope for change unless new leadership is brought in.

    “The colonial bones of that organization are so entrenched that even when you have good people go in there, it’s very hard for them to move the systemic racism that is embodied in that department,” Blackstock said.

    She said that, in place of a potentially symbolic move, the parliamentary budget officer should tally the deficiencies in funding for Indigenous services. The government could then institute a sort of “Marshall Plan” spending blitz so that comparable services can be achieved as soon as possible, she said.

    The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples recommended a similar spending push in 1996, concluding that it would save money in the long run by mitigating entrenched problems in many Indigenous communities, such as higher rates of mortality, mental illness and substance abuse. Like many other recommendations — such as the creation of an Indigenous parliament and an Indigenous university — this never came to be.

    But others have been more hopeful of the INAC split. Perry Bellegarde, the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, said in a statement this week that it “signals a new approach” toward moving beyond the Indian Act and “reasserting our jurisdiction and sovereignty over our own lands, title and rights.”

    The government argued this week that this is one of “two tracks” for achieving reconciliation. The other is creating better services for Indigenous peoples, especially on reserves and in remote communities. The government pointed out its plan to spend $11.8 billion in the coming years to lift drinking water advisories, build and renovate schools and homes, among other commitments for Indigenous peoples.

    The conversation has clearly changed since the elder Trudeau’s 1969 White Paper, and Blackstock said a new approach is indeed welcome. But she’s holding back on endorsing the government’s move until she sees what comes next.

    “What matters to me is when I see children on the ground be able to get a clean glass of water, go to a school that’s safe, get good quality education and get a fair chance of growing up in their homes,” she said.

    “I’ll be optimistic when I see the action.”

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    Ask the owner of an outdoor cat why they let their pet come and go and they’re likely to tell you they have no other choice — the cat makes the rules, and they simply comply.

    But that convention might be changing in the wake of consistently troubling city of Toronto data about the number of cats that are found dead every month. Some owners are convinced they’ve found the perfect solution to keeping their furry family members both safe and outdoors.

    It’s called, ahem, a catio.

    The basic idea is to build a frame-and-wire enclosure that opens to a window or door in a home. From there, cats can let themselves in and out, but will not be able to roam beyond the enclosure boundaries.

    Catios come in all shapes and sizes depending on the space owners have available — from backyard playgrounds to balcony hideouts.

    In August, the city of Toronto reported finding 93 dead animals across the city. Of those, 89 were cats.

    And that doesn’t include the number of cats that are lost in the city.

    “We get over 100 emails a week asking for help with cats that are found,” said Kasey Dunn, who runs Angel Arms Rescue. “The problem is out of control.”

    Owners from the Beach community have been quick to draw connections between their lost or killed pets and recent sightings of “coywolves” (half coyote, half wolf).

    Seemingly menacing predators are only a small part of the problem, though. Mary Lou Leiher, program manager of Toronto Animal Services, said that the August numbers are not unusual — outdoor cats are regularly killed by cars, toxins and disease picked up from other animals (the City doesn’t analyze the cause of death of each animal).

    “We always advocate that people keep their cats supervised,” Leiher said. “There are so many things that are dangerous to cats.”

    Dunn, who has foster cats coming in and out of her home as well as four cats of her own, built a catio two years ago. She wasn’t aware of any other such structures at the time.

    “I used to take them on walks on leashes which was tough, they weren’t really into it,” she said of her cats’ lives, pre-catio.

    But when she went to look at the Riverdale house where she now lives, she was instantly sold by the dugout in the front that allowed the basement to have full-sized windows. It was practically a catio waiting to happen.

    “I think it’s responsible pet ownership, the same way that I wouldn’t just let my dog go, you have a fenced yard,” she said as three of her furry loved ones (Cobalt, Eeny and Felix) gazed through the rabbit wiring used to construct her catio. “This is their equivalent of their fenced yard.”

    Early adopters of the catio are welcoming the fact that the idea is catching on.

    Kris Kischer, a former prop leader at the National Ballet who founded the catio company Habitat Haven, might be considered a veteran of the enclosures.

    She started building them in 2003, and now sells modular versions of the product from her Toronto head office across the continent.

    She’s not sure why, but Kischer said that her clients report happier cats after they’ve installed a catio.

    “I hear the difference from my clients who say the kitten has come back in my cat,” she said.

    “The main point is you can design it so that you’re happy with it and you’re giving your cats a more well-rounded, healthy life.”

    For Dunn’s part, she chose dark red siding that matches her house for the walls of her catio — plus plenty of cat toys and furniture.

    It’s a combination that seems to suit Cobalt, Eeny and Felix just fine.

    0 0

    Four suspects are wanted in separate fatal shootings within three days, leaving two men dead in North York.

    But one thing police haven’t ruled out is a connection between the brazen shootings.

    “We can’t overlook the fact that there are similarities between the two,” said homicide investigator Det. Sgt. Paul Worden at a Sunday press conference. So far, police have no physical evidence connecting the crimes.

    Among the most chilling observations from police in the fatal shootings — of Jovane Clarke, 22, on Thursday and Awad Hurre, 34, on Saturday — is the manner in which the men were killed.

    “They went right up over top of them and fired numerous shots into the victims,” Worden said, describing the similar position the four suspects in each case took over the two dead men.

    The suspects towered above the victims once they were lying helpless on the ground and fired more gunshots into their bodies, Worden said.

    There were dozens of people outdoors, including kids playing at the basketball court behind the apartment building at 75 Tandridge Cres. when Awad Hurre was killed.

    Police were called to the building, next to Braeburn Woods Day Care Centre at Tandridge Cres. and Arcot Blvd., on Saturday night at 8:45 p.m.

    They found three different types of firearm casings on the scene, one of which was from a rifle.

    “We do not have a motive for why he was targeted. For this level of violence and this type of overkill, there has to be a reason,” Worden said.

    And Hurre’s family members cannot come up with a reason yet either. His older brother told the Star Hurre, the youngest of 12 siblings, was not involved in gang activity and had never had trouble with the law before.

    Yusuf Ismail, Hurre’s nephew, also didn’t know his uncle to be wilfully involved in gang activity, but suspects he may have wound up associating with a dangerous crowd.

    “He was always a more trusting person and that’s what most likely got him in this position, trusting the wrong people,” Ismail said.

    Police are asking for people in the community who may have witnessed the incident to come forward to officers who will be stationed in the area.

    “For the amount of people that were in the area, I would have expected more information to have come in at this point,” Worden said.

    Ismail said he doesn’t feel police presence in the community is consistent or involved enough.

    “Yeah the police do show up, but I don’t really think they stick around to follow up,” he said.

    “If the community thinks you just come in here and do your job and you go back home, they wouldn’t jeopardize themselves to talk.”

    Hurre was pronounced dead at the scene of his apartment building, a building he incidentally shared with the victim of Thursday’s shooting, Jovane Clarke.

    Clarke was shot and killed following a foot-pursuit from gunmen inside Sheridan Mall on Thursday.

    Police say Clarke got out of his car at the mall’s southern parking lot, near Jane St. and Wilson Ave., and was targeted by four people. One of the suspects chased Clarke into the mall and continued to shoot at him.

    Hosai Balouch, a longtime employee of a shoe store in the mall, heard about five or six gunshots while on her shift. The call to emergency crews came in at around 6:30 p.m.

    “It was so loud, you could feel it vibrate through your body” Balouch told the Star Saturday.

    Paramedics who responded to the call said the victim was suffering from gunshot wounds to the head.

    Police are searching for four black males in their mid-20s in connection to Clarke’s case.

    In Hurre’s death, police are looking for four men seen in a silver vehicle parked near the area 20 minutes before the incident. According to surveillance video, police said the suspects ambushed Hurre after he passed by them the second time.

    There have been about five shootings in the North York area since Wednesday, the latest leaving two men with injuries in the Black Creek neighbourhood Sunday afternoon.

    With files from Bryan Aguilar, Emily Fearon, and Alex McKeen

    0 0

    U.S. President Donald Trump is strongly considering a plan that would end the Obama-era program that shields young unauthorized immigrants from deportation, but only after giving Congress six months to come up with a potential replacement for the popular initiative, according to three administration officials briefed on the discussions.

    Officials working on the plan stressed that Trump could still change his mind, and some key details had not yet been resolved. Among them: whether beneficiaries of the program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, would be allowed to renew their protected status during the six-month period.

    It is also unclear what would happen if Congress does not come up with a solution — a possibility that administration aides concede is likely, given the headwinds that previous legislation has run into for years.

    The president is scheduled to receive more counsel on the matter Monday, before an announcement the White House has said will be made Tuesday. The plan was first reported Sunday night by Politico.

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    One official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said Trump was sympathetic to the young immigrants known as Dreamers — many have known life only in the United States and have few connections to the countries of their birth — but had been told by administration officials that his predecessor’s program would not survive a court challenge.

    Last week, John F. Kelly, the president’s chief of staff, told associates he did not see how Texas, which has led the charge against the DACA policy, could proceed with a lawsuit while parts of the state are still underwater from Hurricane Harvey. Democrats and Republicans, including the House speaker, Paul Ryan, as well as corporate leaders, have urged Trump to preserve the program.

    But Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his former aide, Stephen Miller, who is now the president’s top national policy adviser, have been pushing Trump to end the program. Both are immigration hard-liners who see ending DACA as a core campaign promise the president must adhere to.

    0 0

    DADAAB, KENYA — It was time to go. Ayan Abdi slipped on a long black headscarf, grabbed her refugee ID and set out for the interview that could save her life.

    Since she was 2, Ayan had lived in the world’s largest refugee camp, a constellation of tents and huts stretching across the red desert near the Somali border. Now, a few miles from her shack built of sticks and cardboard, three examiners with a Canadian university foundation were sitting at a wooden table, deciding which students were worthy of a way out.

    Ayan hurried along the sandy road. Past the piles of burning trash surrounded by giant scavenging birds. Past the girls no older than her, at 20, who balanced firewood on their heads, trailed by barefoot children. Past the group of men who stared at her — a small figure in a flowing black robe and bright red shoes — and hissed in Somali, “Where are you going, girl?”

    When Ayan finally found a taxi, it was already full. She squeezed in, her whole body tense, dots of sweat on her forehead.

    “I’m in a rush,” she told the driver, who didn’t ask why but careened a little faster from pothole to pothole.

    A year ago, Ayan was one of about 5,000 students who jammed into classrooms across the Dadaab refugee camp for a two-hour exam, the first step in seeking perhaps the most generous scholarship anywhere. The World University Service of Canada, or WUSC, would award 16 of those students not just a college education but a new life, with the Canadian government providing them with citizenship and a chance to sponsor their families.

    Now Ayan was one of 29 finalists, heading for the interview that would determine whether she won.

    Her other options were being snuffed out. Kenyan authorities were trying to close Dadaab, which for a quarter-century had sheltered the victims of Somalia’s endless war and hunger crises. In the United States, which had resettled more than 100,000 Somalis since 2000, President Donald Trump had ordered a temporary ban on accepting refugees. Around the world, countries were shutting their doors to people like Ayan, even as the number of refugees surged past 22 million in 2017, the highest in recorded history.

    What was left was the WUSC scholarship — a chance for the bright young refugees of Dadaab to earn their way out.

    “It’s life or death,” said Joseph Mutua, a program officer with the scholarship foundation in Dadaab. “That’s how it’s seen.”

    In the taxi, Ayan was drumming her fingers against her knee. A printed verse from the Quran swung from the rearview mirror. On the bumper, a sticker read, “Succeed.”

    The cab pulled up to a walled compound. “Is this the right place for the scholarship interview?” Ayan asked a security guard.

    In her hand, which trembled, was a brown envelope with her documents. The white food-ration card that said “Family size: 1” because Ayan’s parents and siblings had returned to Somalia years ago without her. The report cards she had earned since primary school. The recommendations from a Dadaab school where she was now teaching biology.

    She carried the envelope to the cinder-block building where the interviews were taking place and sat under a tree, waiting her turn. “I’m getting a headache,” she told one of the other applicants.

    She looked down at the cracked screen of her white cell phone, where she had written notes reminding her what to tell the interviewers.

    “This scholarship is my only way out,” it said.

    “I’m the best girl in the camp based on merit,” it said.

    “Here I cannot awaken my dreams,” it said.

    She took a deep breath.

    A middle-aged woman stepped outside and called her name.

    Ayan walked inside.

    The afternoon before the interview, Ayan had pulled two lawn chairs into the sandy expanse in front of her hut. Her best friend, Maryan Hassan, sat across from her, with a list of mock interview questions ready.

    “Describe yourself,” said Maryan, 20, a tiny girl with a high-pitched voice who was also a finalist for the scholarship.

    “I was born in a refugee camp in 1997,” Ayan began, in the careful English she had studied in school. “My parents are in Somalia.”

    “Don’t forget to tell them what you want to do for your country,” Maryan interrupted.

    Ayan nodded.

    They were trying to figure out how to distinguish themselves from the other refugees. But on the Internet, all they could find were generic interview questions, so that’s what they studied.

    “What are your strengths?” Maryan asked.

    “My ability to collaborate,” Ayan answered, a little unsure of herself, trying to remember what she had read online. “What are yours?

    “I don’t give up,” piped Maryan.

    A cloud of flies hovered around their faces. The goats living nearby yapped. In both directions were rows of hundreds of huts made of whatever people could find — tin cans, tree branches, plastic sheets bleached by the sun. There were 250,000 refugees in all, surrounded by police checkpoints.

    “If I get out of here,” Ayan said under her breath, “I’m never coming back.”

    For years, Ayan and Maryan had watched their friends disappear, dropping out of school as they were forced to marry older men, in accordance with old Somali cultural traditions. Fatima left when Ayan was 11. Mahado when she was 13. Farhiya when she was 14. They would re-emerge, sometimes years later, balancing babies in their arms, sullen and tired.

    What was the point of school anyway, some of Ayan’s friends scoffed. You could finish high school, but there was little work in the camp. And refugees were not allowed to hold jobs in Kenyan cities.

    Ayan was 12 when she learned of the WUSC scholarship, advertised in fliers taped to the sheet-metal walls of classrooms. It turned her from a good student who loved adventure novels into someone whose grades were part of a grand strategy of escape.

    She and Maryan taught themselves to type at the camp in a market stall called Bukhara Computer School, with a row of old IBM desktops. In 2012, both girls received scholarships to attend top high schools hundreds of miles from the camp, with college-educated teachers and new textbooks. On their phones, they would enter in the search bar: “Best Universities in Canada.”

    In 2015, when Ayan was away at high school, her mother and two siblings left Dadaab and returned to Somalia. They were sick of life in the camp and worried about Kenya’s threat to deport the refugees.

    Come back to Somalia, her mom said by phone from a town outside Mogadishu, the capital.

    Ayan knew what that meant. No schools. Few jobs. And a constant threat from al-Shabab, the Islamist extremists who controlled nearby villages.

    In Dadaab, at least there was the WUSC.

    I am going to disobey you for the first time, Ayan replied.

    She graduated near the top of her class and then moved back to Dadaab, into a stick hut next to the home of family friends. She covered the dirt floor with a red bedsheet and surrounded the hovel with a pile of thorny branches, to keep out the men who knew she was unmarried and alone.

    “The harsh realities of life here are traumatizing,” she wrote in her personal essay for the WUSC scholarship. Women were raped when they went out to collect firewood for cooking. Children died of chronic diarrhea during cholera outbreaks. When she was filling her water bucket one morning, Ayan was stung by a scorpion.

    Ayan and Maryan talked about their lives in Canada, how they would walk across green college campuses, how they would get their families to safety.

    “When I see her,” Ayan said, nodding toward her friend, “I see WUSC.” Maryan smiled.

    Around the world, fewer than 1 per cent of registered refugees are resettled each year, and most have little or no control over the process. They are selected by U.N. agencies and approved by host governments, their fate determined by luck and charity, with the sickest and most vulnerable put at the front of the line.

    The WUSC scholarship represented something different. It was about merit.

    “Make sure you’re smiling,” Maryan had told Ayan as they prepared for their interviews.

    Ayan was determined not to become emotional.

    “It’s not professional,” she had said. “You need to show them that you’re confident.”

    Five minutes had passed since Ayan climbed the steps into the cinder-block building. Then 10.

    Through the screened window, the other students waiting their turn outside could see her silhouette in front of the three interviewers.

    It was the middle of the afternoon, the sun slicing through sparse trees.

    “It’s taking a long time,” said Mohammed Abdi, one of the applicants, looking at the building.

    Finally, Ayan emerged, glancing at the students waiting in a cluster of plastic chairs.

    “I think I said the right things,” she said. “I think.”

    But in the next hours and days, she would replay her performance in her head, over and over.

    She had walked into the cinder-block room. The three women welcomed her. Ayan remembered to shake the interviewers’ hands, even though she was so nervous she could hardly focus. One woman told her to relax, and that had helped. She sat at a wooden desk.

    They asked her when she had arrived in the camp, what she remembered about the journey. Ayan told them that she had been born in another camp in Kenya but that her family had to leave after it was damaged by fire, and that was how they had wound up at Dadaab.

    “I told them the name of the road we took. I told them I was just a baby.”

    They asked about the importance of education.

    “I told them it had shaped me emotionally.”

    Then one of the administrators asked about the challenges she had faced as a refugee. And suddenly, the weight of it all hit her.

    “I told them: ‘I’m here alone. My family has left. Without this scholarship, I have no other options.’”

    And Ayan began to cry.

    “I couldn’t stop the tears.”

    The women waited.

    “They handed me a tissue. I tried to get back under control.”

    The questions continued. They asked what she wanted to study, and she said nursing.

    They asked how she would adjust to Canada.

    “I told them I would wear more clothes in the winter. I told them I would get used to the food.”

    Ayan tried to hold back her tears. She didn’t want to look desperate. Finally she managed to focus on the words she had prepared.

    “I said, ‘I am the best girl in the camp based on merit.’”

    The day after the interview, Ayan walked to Hagadera Secondary School in the camp, where she teaches biology, sending most of her $80 monthly salary to her mother.

    In the classroom, there were 21 boys and two girls in their mid-teens sitting on opposite sides of the room. A bell rang and class began.

    “What is the difference between a plant cell and an animal cell?” she asked.

    No one answered.

    Ayan tried her best to push her thoughts about the scholarship to the side. It was early June, and she would have to wait about a month for the results.

    “I’m 50-50,” she said one day of her chances. But a few days later she had reassessed, thinking about the caliber of the other candidates.

    “I’m 20-80.”

    She thought: “Maryan will get it, but I won’t. I’m going to be stuck here forever.”

    She wrote a text message to a friend: “I’m not sure I convinced the interviewers.”

    The WUSC committee didn’t say exactly when the announcement would come. She checked her phone obsessively.

    It buzzed and buzzed, often with messages from Maryan, who lived in another part of the camp.

    “We still have to wait,” Maryan wrote in the middle of the month.

    The school was a reminder of all the limitations of Dadaab. The boys often ignored commands from female teachers. Islamic clerics shut down the girls’ debate team, saying it gave women the wrong idea.

    More female students dropped out every week, disappearing into marriage, often by force. Ayan had tried to intervene with one of the girls’ mothers, who responded with an old Somali proverb: “A woman should be at home or in the grave.”

    In late June, the Muslim holy month of Ramadan began, with its long, hot days of fasting. Ayan was desperate to get away.

    She walked to the police station and applied for a temporary pass to leave the camp. She explained that she wanted to visit the family that had hosted her while she attended the private high school in Nakuru, in western Kenya.

    Ayan was given a white piece of paper that allowed her two weeks outside the camp.

    “I feel free here,” she said in the living room of the Abdirahman family’s home, on the bottom floor of a concrete apartment building, with a light bulb hanging from the ceiling and a gate that opened onto a paved road and passing cars.

    She wore a pale yellow headscarf, shorter than the ones that women wore outside in Dadaab. She blared songs from her phone: Nigerian pop, American hip-hop, traditional Somali music.

    It was easier to forget about the scholarship here, visiting her high school friends. But occasionally they would bring it up.

    “We just hope you get it,” Anisa Abdirahman, 21, said one morning.

    “Dadaab is not a place for a person to live,” said Anisa’s 23-year-old brother, Mohammed.

    Ayan was looking at her phone.

    The scholarship finalists had created a group on the WhatsApp messaging service where they shared rumours, news — anything at all about the WUSC program. But it was silent.

    “Still nothing,” Ayan said the following morning, sitting on a couch in the living room.

    She threw her phone down on the cushion and went to the kitchen to make tea.

    She crushed cinnamon and leaves.

    “All of us, we are qualified. All of us, we are refugees,” she told Anisa as the water boiled. “Maybe it’s just luck.”

    In the other room, her phone started buzzing. The screen flashed.

    From the kitchen, Ayan couldn’t see it.

    “Ayan, I think your phone is ringing,” Mohammed said.

    Ayan cleaned her hands, picked up the phone and saw the message.


    Her eyes widened.

    “WUSC? Is it a prank?”

    Then she saw a list on the WhatsApp group: “The Successful Candidates for 2018 WUSC scholarships.” Her name was Number 4.

    She burst into tears.

    “Thank God! Thank God!” she yelled.

    Her friend Farhiya ran into the room. She grabbed Ayan’s hands and they danced in circles, tears rolling off Ayan’s cheeks.

    “You can stop crying now,” Farhiya said.

    Ayan looked again at the list for Maryan’s name. It wasn’t there. “Oh,” she groaned.

    But her phone was ringing nonstop now. There were calls from other winners. Calls from her teachers. Calls from numbers she didn’t recognize.

    “Alhamdulillah,” she told one friend. Praise be to God.

    “It is the beginning of a new life,” she told another.

    Then Maryan’s number popped up on the screen.

    “Congratulations,” said the voice on the other end of the line. It sounded as if she had been crying.

    “Maryan, I’m very sorry,” Ayan said.

    They would have another year together. Ayan would be applying to universities in Canada, practising her English and getting an introduction to Canadian culture. Maryan would have one more chance to apply for the scholarship — albeit with poor odds after being rejected already.

    “Goodbye, sister,” Maryan said.

    Ayan lowered the white phone from her ear and stared at it. More congratulatory texts were popping up. But Maryan had hung up and was gone.

    0 0

    Harvey’s filthy floodwaters pose significant dangers to human safety and the environment even after water levels drop far enough that Southeast Texas residents no longer fear for their lives, according to experts.

    Houston already was notorious for sewer overflows following rainstorms. Now the system, with 40 waste water treatment plants across the far-flung metropolis, faces an unprecedented challenge.

    State officials said several dozen sewer overflows had been reported in areas affected by the hurricane, including Corpus Christi. Private septic systems in rural areas could fail as well.

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    Also stirred into the noxious brew are spilled fuel, runoff from waste sites, lawn pesticides and pollutants from the region’s many petroleum refineries and chemical plants.

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported Sunday that of the 2,300 water systems contacted by federal and state regulators, 1,514 were fully operational. More than 160 systems issued notices advising people to boil water before drinking it, and 50 were shut down.

    The public works department in Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest city, said its water was safe. The system has not experienced the kind of pressure drop that makes it easier for contaminants to slip into the system and is usually the reason for a boil-water order, spokesperson Gary Norman said.

    In a statement Thursday, federal and state environmental officials said their primary concerns were the availability of healthy drinking water and “ensuring waste water systems are being monitored, tested for safety and managed appropriately.”

    About 85 per cent of Houston’s drinking water is drawn from surface sources — rivers and reservoirs, said Robin Autenrieth, head of Texas A&M University’s civil engineering department. The rest comes from the city’s 107 groundwater wells.

    “I would be concerned about what’s in the water that people will be drinking,” she said.

    The city met federal and state drinking water standards as well as requirements for monitoring and reporting, said Andrew Keese, spokesperson for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

    Keeping it that way will require stepped-up chemical treatments because of the flooding, Norman said.

    It’s prudent to pump more chlorine and other disinfectants into drinking water systems in emergencies like this, to prevent outbreaks of diseases such as cholera and dysentery, said David Andrews, senior scientist with the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization. But doing so poses its own risks, he said.

    There’s often more organic matter — sewage, plants, farm runoff — in reservoirs or other freshwater sources during heavy rains. When chlorine reacts with those substances, it forms chemicals called trihalomethanes, which can boost the risk of cancer and miscarriages, Andrews said.

    “Right now it’s a tough time to deal with that, when you’re just trying to clean the water up and make sure it’s not passing illnesses through the system,” he said. “But we should do better at keeping contamination out of source water in the first place.”

    Federal and state officials said about two-thirds of approximately 2,400 waste water treatment plants in counties affected by Harvey were fully operational. They said they were monitoring facilities with reported spills and would send teams to help operators restart systems.

    Sewage plants are particularly vulnerable during severe storms because they are located near waterways into which they can discharge treated water, said Autenrieth of Texas A&M. When they are flooded, raw or partially treated sewage can spill from pipes, open-air basins and tanks.

    A report by the non-profit research group Climate Central said more than 10 billion gallons of sewage was released along the East Coast during Superstorm Sandy.

    The Houston Chronicle reported last year that Houston averages more than 800 sewage overflows a year and is negotiating an agreement with the EPA that would require system improvements.

    Norman said Houston didn’t have a running tally of overflows during Harvey.

    “Anytime you have wet weather of this magnitude, there’s going to be a certain amount of sanitary sewage that escapes the system,” he said. “That’s one reason why we advise people to stay out of floodwaters.”

    A Texas A&M analysis of floodwater samples from the Houston area revealed levels of E. coli — bacteria that signal the presence of fecal matter — 125 times higher than is safe for swimming. Even wading through such tainted water could cause infections and sickness, said Terry Gentry, an associate professor and specialist in detecting tiny disease-producing organisms.

    “Precautions should be taken by anyone involved in cleanup activities or any others who may be exposed to floodwaters,” said a statement from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state environmental quality commission.

    They said they were developing a plan to sample residential wells.

    Hazards will remain as waters gradually recede. Puddles, tires and other spots for standing water will attract mosquitoes, which can spread viruses such as West Nile and Zika, Autenrieth said.

    Much of the dirty water will flow through rivers, creeks and bayous into Galveston Bay, renowned for its oyster reefs, abundant wildlife and seagrass meadows. Officials will need to monitor shellfish for signs of bacterial contamination, said Doug Rader, chief ocean scientist for the Environmental Defence Fund.

    The waters also may be rich with nitrogen and phosphorus, which feed algae blooms. When algae die and rot, oxygen gets sucked from the water, creating “dead zones” where large numbers of fish can suffocate.

    “You have a potential for localized dead zones in Galveston Bay for months or maybe even longer,” Rader said.

    The bay opens into the Gulf of Mexico, where a gigantic dead zone forms in summer, powered by nutrients from the Mississippi River. This year’s was the largest on record, said oceanographer Nancy Rabalais of Louisiana State University.

    Ironically, Hurricane Harvey may have done the environment at least one favour by churning the Gulf’s waters and sending an influx of oxygen from the surface to the depths. “A temporary silver lining,” Rabalais said.

    But that also happened after 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, she added. “And within a week, the low-oxygen area had redeveloped.”

    0 0

    Diana, Princess of Wales, was a good person. And look what happened to her.

    She was a wonderful parent, and beautiful, and athletic, with an esthetic sense that changed the look of an era and a talent for ambassadorship that served Great Britain well. Everything she touched she made better.

    Twenty years ago, she died horribly at age 36. Wednesday will be the anniversary of her burial.

    Diana was something of a disappointment when she was born. Since girls couldn’t inherit the estate, her parents needed a boy. Prince Charles didn’t want her after she gave birth to his male heirs. Her in-laws removed her full royal title after her divorce.

    And then there was nowhere to bury her. Her body couldn’t be placed in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle with the rest of the royals because she had been cast out. It was a blessing. It seemed too grisly to imagine her among those who had mistreated her.

    As for her birth family, the Spencer vault in a church near Althorp was too open and vulnerable for someone of her fame. So out of love and a duty of care, they put her body on a tiny island in a lake on the Althorp estate so no one could ever violate her privacy again.

    And there this dear good loving person lies, in a lead-lined coffin in an unmarked grave, never to see her children grow up, never to know her laughing grandchildren, George and Charlotte.

    Women who stick their head above the parapet should expect to lose it. It’s as true today as it was in 1997.

    Diana’s life was beautiful in some ways, nightmarish in others. Despite doing so much good — campaigning against land mines, helping change attitudes toward people with HIV — she was trapped in a horror movie.

    The 2017 American drama Get Out, about a young Black man invited for a weekend with his white girlfriend’s parents, is about a young person picking up clues, bit by bit, that he is in terrible danger. The servants are haunted and semi-frozen. It’s an echo of Diana’s experience with the royal family, full of unexplained tears, blank stares, strange tastes, imponderables.

    Did anyone whisper “get out” to Diana? Her marriage had become a trap. Her children were hostages. She feared that leaving the powerful, secretive and massively funded royal corporation would mean losing her boys.

    Monarchy seems unnatural to Canadians, and it is, post-Diana. But look at what’s on offer. Prince Charles is an awkward, stilted man whose country gave him almost unimaginable luxury but who sacrificed nothing in exchange, nothing. How did Mrs. Parker Bowles, whose virtues elude everyone but him, create this mess?

    Diana said in a filmed conversation that the Queen had been unsparing when she went to her for help after Charles returned to his mistress. “Charles is hopeless,” the Queen had told her.

    If we must have a monarchy, let’s make way for Prince William. Great Britain might get back what it lost with Diana. Never underestimate soft power. Canada has it. We have landscape to spare, a reputation for fairness, a habit of apologizing, and then the magic personal bit, which is basically Hadrien Trudeau, 3, cheerfully hopping around with his hands in his pockets.

    People matter. Temperament matters. Human warmth matters. Consider Trump. There, I’ve made my case.

    Great Britain, clumsily Brexiting, is a shadow of its former self, by which I mean the nation that saved the planet from tyranny in the Second World War.

    The core institutions, the NHS and the BBC, are starved of funds. Universities degrade and journalism withers as the EU tries to contain its laughter. Towers burn. Prime Minister Theresa May looks foolish and Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn lives in a distant era.

    It is a nation in rapid decline. Britain is the United States writ small. There is no central figure in British life once the Queen reaches her end. Diana could have been that person but she was destroyed.

    Rewatching her funeral brings the same shock I felt in 1997, with the singing of “Libera me” (“Deliver me”) from Verdi’s Requiem sounding eerily like a young woman screaming in pain.

    I’m trying to choose which particular aspect of Diana’s nature sent her to her bloody end in a Paris tunnel, almost pre-buried, with paparazzi touching her and photographing her as her torn heart flooded her with blood.

    It was her relentless hopefulness, her belief that the people who surrounded her were good. They were not.

    Her last words were, “My God, what has happened?”

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    MIAMI—Salvador Sanabria was discussing the news about Haitian refugees crossing the border into Canada when he was reminded of the early 1980s, when prime minister Pierre Trudeau opened the door to thousands of Salvadorans in the United States to avoid expulsion to their war-ravaged country.

    “I was talking with my friend, and we said, ‘What an irony! Now, we have Justin Trudeau in Canada, the son of the man,” said Sanabria, executive director of the Los Angeles-based immigration advocacy group El Rescate.

    He now wonders if history will be repeated.

    “How is the Canadian government going to respond in the event that the Salvadorans and Hondurans, and probably some Nicaraguans, with no alternative but to look for refuge in another nation, instead of going back to their lands of origin, cross the border into Canada?”

    The question is increasingly relevant as a deadline approaches for the renewal or expiration of those groups’ special immigration designation, known as Temporary Protected Status, or TPS. The protections are afforded to citizens of 10 countries that have been ravaged by conflict or natural disaster.

    The U.S. Department of Homeland Security told 58,000 Haitians in late May that they should prepare to return home when their TPS expires in January. That advisory coincided with a wave of thousands of Haitian migrants crossing into Canada, most in July and August.

    But 195,000 Salvadorans, 60,000 Hondurans and 2,500 Nicaraguans are also awaiting word on their status. The current designations are set to expire in January for Hondurans and Nicaraguans, and in March for Salvadorans.

    “We’re preparing for the worst … because we have not gotten the best signals from this administration,” said Daniella Burgi-Palomino, a senior associate with the Washington-based Latin America Working Group, which is lobbying U.S. lawmakers for a TPS extension.

    The problem, she said, is that the decision to extend or rescind protections for TPS nations lies solely with President Donald Trump and his secretaries of homeland security and state, not with the U.S. Congress.

    “I think the Haiti precedent is very likely for the three countries,” Burgi-Palomino said.

    The campaign to rally support for extended protections is gathering steam across the United States.

    In North Miami, which is home to the largest population of Haitian expatriates, city council passed a resolution in April urging the Trump administration to grant Haitians with TPS the usual 18-month extension. It was ultimately unsuccessful.

    There have been other campaigns to encourage local and state lawmakers to put pressure on the Trump administration. Reports this week said nearly 100 Democratic and Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives have signed a petition urging extended protections for Salvadorans and Hondurans.

    “We’ve got Republicans and Democrats. It’s a humanitarian issue,” said North Miami Councilman Alix Desulme, who was born in Haiti and who travelled to the country this summer on a TPS fact-finding mission.

    “Haiti is not ready for anything. I don’t think Haiti is ready for the Haitians who are there now, so imagine 58,000 folks heading back to Haiti!” Desulme said.

    Conditions are not much better in the three Central American countries seeking TPS extensions, Sanabria said.

    “(El) Salvador and Honduras have demonstrated that they do not offer the best conditions for deportees or returning expats,” he said. “Those economies and societies are facing the same challenges that they did before civil war erupted there. The conditions of forced migration remain in those societies.”

    After a 12-year civil war broke out in El Salvador in 1979, pitting left-wing revolutionaries against U.S.-backed government forces, hundreds of thousands of Salvadorans sought refuge in other countries.

    Many were welcomed to Canada, which had more permissive policies specifically designed for Salvadoran refugees. In 1982, the Trudeau government allowed into Canada many of those Salvadorans who had been denied asylum in the U.S. and were facing deportation.

    According to a 1986 report by the Library of Parliament, Canada took in 2,000 Latin American refugees in 1983, 75 per cent of them from El Salvador.

    But there was a change in government and, later, a change in immigration policy when thousands of Salvadoran asylum-seekers arrived in Canada between 1986 and 1987, resulting in emergency shelters being erected in churches, Salvation Army buildings and even on the CNE grounds in downtown Toronto.

    In 1987, the Conservative government of Brian Mulroney passed immigration changes requiring Salvadorans to obtain a visa before entering Canada and forcing refugee claimants to wait in the United States for their asylum hearings.

    Activists across the U.S. are fighting to head off the next, potentially larger, wave of migrants coming to Canada. Some are appealing to employers in the hope that Trump will listen to the economic arguments for allowing housekeepers, hospitality workers and other, often low-wage, workers to remain in their jobs.

    “No employer wants to start again, to have to hire and train new workers,” said Wendi Walsh, president of Unite Here local 355, which represents hospitality workers in the Miami area.

    “This isn’t a partisan issue … This isn’t the Republican party standing unified. This is President Trump appealing to his most ardent supporters.”

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    Labour Day always feels like the pressure is on to squeeze every last bit out of summer. It’s a most laborious way to “end” summer, with a dark cloud looming over the long weekend like being on the beach on an overcast day. The usual Sunday doldrums — or dread, depending on your situation — shift to Monday and this Tuesday becomes the Mother of all Mondays. Monday, the holiday, is a little ruined in the mix.

    What a strange and terribly confused long weekend we’ve collectively created. All that pressure distracts from the reason for the long weekend itself: to celebrate workers, the eight-hour workday and the notion of the “weekend” itself.

    The Canadian holiday can be traced back to 1872 and the Toronto Typographical Union’s printers strike that fought for a nine-hour workday. In April of that year, there was a march and 10,000 people gathered at Queen’s Park. The workers won and eventually, in 1894, Labour Day became official each September in Canada.

    Since there isn’t a particularly strong reason to celebrate labour in September, perhaps it would be better to celebrate all of what it represents on May 1 — International Workers Day — as so many other countries around the world do. Since many precarious workers work more than nine hours a day, maybe it’ll kick-start a new call for workers’ rights, without the distraction of the arbitrary and false end of summer that Labour Day currently represents. Oh, and make May 1 a holiday, too.

    Instead let’s call this fine weekend the “Two-Thirds-or-Thereabouts-Way-Through-Summer” holiday. It would be a reminder to everyone to embrace the weeks of summer to come, and respect, for once, the long-suffering autumnal equinox. How must that equinox feel on its special day, Sept. 22, when everybody is all “Oh hey, autumnal, we celebrated you three weeks ago. Sorry you weren’t there.” By its nature, the equinox is quite even-handed, so it doesn’t put up a fuss, but let’s not let it down again.

    Fall is good and great, and it will come in time. But September’s summer days are wonderful: a kinder, gentler summer without the scorching heat waves. (For now, at least. Climate change could make September the new August soon enough.) There’s less sweating, so the city smells better, transit rides are more pleasant, and we can sleep with the windows open and hear the city rather than the hum of an air conditioner. September is full of surprises too. Sometimes the temperature will dip into the teens on sunny afternoons, and people will declare Winter Is Coming! But then it’ll go back up again.

    The lake doesn’t care about any of this. It retains warmth the way subway tunnels hold heat and humidity days after a heat wave is over, and so it’s the nicest time to go for a swim. A decade or so ago, during a particularly warm Thanksgiving Day, we swam in the near-bathtub-warm lake at Hanlan’s Point as the leaves were changing colour, perhaps the most wonderful cognitive dissonance I’ve ever experienced. Somebody even brought a roast turkey to the beach.

    September summer is also summer when the city is at full force again. So much of the middle classes depart for cottages or vacations during July and August that parts of the city can feel downright deserted. But everybody’s back in town this week.

    Forget talk of the end; join the beginning of the One-Third-More-Summer movement this weekend and throughout September. Show your support by continuing not to wear socks in your shoes, leaving your coats at home even if you’re the only one and keeping your pastel-coloured clothes in rotation even if you stick out like a chalk-covered thumb. Defy the crowd. Embrace the whole season. Most of us worked through the summer so there’s no reason Tuesday should be any kind of harsher Monday. But it’s telling how impressionable the rigid school year is on us that that old-school September feeling lasts our entire lives.

    More people are remaining single and the millennials are said to be putting off having children, so there are more people unshackled from the rigour of the school year anyway.

    “Do not go gentle into that good night,” wrote Dylan Thomas. “Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

    Embrace each summer day we’ve got left, hold it tight, and then go gently into the fall when it decides to come around.

    Shawn Micallef writes weekly about where and how we live in the GTA. Wander the streets with him on Twitter @shawnmicallef

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    LONDON—Prince William and his wife Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, are expecting their third child, Kensington Palace said Monday.

    Kensington Palace made the pregnancy announcement as they said that the former Kate Middleton was not feeling well enough to attend an engagement later in the day. As with her other two pregnancies, the duchess is suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum, or acute morning sickness. Kate is being cared for at her Kensington Palace home in London.

    “The queen and members of both families are delighted with the news,” the palace said in a statement.

    William and Kate, both 35, already have two children: Prince George, 4, and Princess Charlotte, 2.

    The announcement came at a time when the royal couple is due to mark a milestone in the life of their young family: They are set to send George to school for the first time on Thursday.

    Their choice of Thomas’s Battersea in south London indicated that the Cambridges were settling into their Kensington Palace apartment, having moved recently from their Norfolk home Anmer Hall.

    No details were immediately available about when the third baby is due, but betting agencies were quick to start offering odds on possible names for the soon-to-be-born child in the House of Windsor.

    Paddy Power offered 8-to-1 odds on Alice. Also popular was Diana, after Prince William’s mother, particularly given the timing of the announcement.

    Together with Prince Harry, William and Kate have taken a leading role in marking the 20th anniversary of Diana’s death. Last week the royals toured the garden of their Kensington Palace home to remember the princes’ mother and celebrate her contributions to their family and to the monarchy.

    “Given the recent anniversary, there’ll be plenty of interest in the name Diana if the baby is a girl,” the agency said.

    The royals have said from the time of their engagement that they wanted to have a family — the only question was how many children they wished for. Royal watchers recorded every aside for clues as to what the plans might be.

    When asked on a royal tour in Singapore in 2012 about how many children he wanted, William said he was “thinking about having two.”

    More recently, during a royal tour of Poland, Kate joked about a third child when given a cuddly toy designed to soothe tiny babies.

    Kate thanked the well-wisher for the present and turned to William. “We will just have to have more babies,” she said laughing.

    Kate is the eldest of three siblings, and reportedly had a very happy childhood. William has a younger brother, Prince Harry.

    The royal couple can also be seen as following in the footsteps of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, who have four children.

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    For every Canadian broadcaster that experiences success in the U.S. like John (J.D.) Roberts, Ali Velshi and the late Peter Jennings, there are several that make the leap but flounder in that country’s bigger pool.

    That said, it is arguable that none have had a softer landing than Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole. After being lured away by Fox Sports 1 and spending the last four years in California, the pair are back where their many fans think they belong, manning the highlights and offering up their cracked brand of sports comedy with Monday’s launch of SC with Jay and Dan on TSN.

    Of their American adventures, which featured a switch of the executive regime, multiple format changes to their show, and a point where they weren’t allowed to show highlights, the pair have no regrets at all.

    “You can point to a bunch of things, but in the end, we went to L.A., got paid really well and got to live in California for four years, so nobody should feel bad for us,” Onrait says.

    “They paid us to essentially go to four years of American broadcast school,” O’Toole says. “We became better broadcasters.”

    Onrait interrupts, making a disagreeing sound. “You’re really setting us up with that.”

    “Now we know different TV terms,” O’Toole says. “So that makes us better, right?”

    TSN’s plan is for Onrait and O’Toole to tape their show at midnight, which will then be followed by a more traditional SportsCentre with current hosts Kate Beirness and Natasha Staniszewski. Then the two shows will repeat on a loop on the various TSN feeds.

    “TSN is now, what, 60 feeds?” says Onrait. “No, five feeds, so the thing about Kate and Natasha’s show is that it’s so different from ours, and the complaint about TSN’s five feeds is what’s the point when four of them have the same thing on? Well, now you’re going to get a little variety if you want it, which is the way that content is going.”

    For TSN, it is a bit of a no-brainer, as it opens up another show with advertising opportunities, and Canadian companies want to be in the Jay and Dan business. Tim Horton’s has signed on as a title sponsor for their new show, while Coors Light will be sponsoring the pair’s returning podcast.

    As for what to expect, the boys are happy to be able to say it will be what you expect, with some new additions.

    “We’ve been doing rehearsals all week, so that’s different. And the first one, it was like we had never left,” O’Toole says. “It was the show that we love doing. The show that has highlights, the show that has our personalities, and it was just like . . . deep sigh. It felt like putting on an old comfortable sweater.

    “We also have some segments from our Fox show — our last incarnation, there were about seven — but we’re going to be bringing some of that too.

    They plan to incorporate some more casual, chatty segments, and hope to have fun with their colleagues, who may want to get their goof on.

    “We want to have Bobby Mack (NHL insider Bob McKenzie) on all the time, and I guess we’ll have (James) Duthie on. We want to have people on and get some more out of them,” Onrait says. “Like we were just talking about Ryan Rishaug, TSN’s Edmonton-based reporter, he is so different on the air than he is off, so we would like to show some of that.”

    There has been a huge outpouring of support from their fan base, and they say everywhere they go, they have been met with people saying, ‘We’re so happy you are back.’ They are surprised by the lack of negative comments, but say they feel no pressure because the show is exactly what they want to do.

    That said, they do admit they will miss some things about their time in Lalaland.

    “The people. Americans are underrated. Not Trump, but the other ones,” Onrait says. “Even though the network itself was a bit of a work in progress, to put it kindly, the day-to-day going to work was really enjoyable, which made the other stuff not matter.”

    “Driving onto the Fox lot in L.A. everyday, it was like, this is Hollywood,” O’Toole says. “There are palm trees, a street called New York Street they use to film commercials and sitcoms. Bones used to film there all the time. So you really got the sense that this is TV in America, so that drive into work, I’m going to miss.”

    “It’s a similar situation now,” cracks Onrait. “Where we drive into work in Scarborough, at 9 Channel Nine Court, (it) has the remnants of where they used to shoot The Littlest Hobo in the parking lot.”

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