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TOPSTORIES

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    Alan Doucette’s father spent two years less a day in jail for union activity.

    As member of the Canadian Seaman’s Union, he was part of the 1946 strike at England’s London Harbour, fighting for worker’s rights after the Second World War.

    It’s a story his son has never forgotten.

    “He was very proud of that because he did it on principle,” said Doucette, a member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Local 873.

    “That’s why I belong to union and that’s why I’m marching today.”

    Doucette is just one of thousands of people who gathered in downtown Toronto to support the labour movement Monday morning.

    “The Labour Day parade is a celebration of all the things we are accomplishing together and a reminder about why we fight,” said Tracy McMaster, a member of OPSEU, which represents 130,000 public service workers across the province.

    For Francesco Luberto, who spent decades working in road construction, on water mains and sewers, and bridges, the parade was a chance to celebrate his retirement five years ago.

    “It gave me the opportunity and the chance to enjoy my retirement. It’s the best thing that ever happened to my life after my wife,” he said of his union, Laborers' International Union of North America, Local 183, which represents construction workers.

    Jagmeet Singh, an Ontario NDP MPP running for leadership of the federal party, said the parade is an opportunity to celebrate the victories of the labour movement — everything from weekends to workers’ safety.

    But an ongoing strike by about 700 ground crew workers at Pearson International Airport is a reminder there’s more work to do.

    “It just highlights how important it is to continue to fight for rights,” he said.

    It’s a sentiment Premier Kathleen Wynne echoed in a statement Monday morning.

    “I have spent the summer travelling around our province, and what I am hearing is that people are worried.”

    “We need to do all we can to ensure that people are given every chance to get ahead during this period of change,” she said, adding that’s why the government is raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.


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    As Ontario's 2 million students head back to class on Tuesday, Canada's second-largest school board is pledging to remove barriers for those who feel excluded or are struggling with mental health issues.

    Peel District School Board's new education director, Peter Joshua, was greeted with cheers as he stepped up to the podium and delivered that message to the hundreds of staff who filled a Brampton conference centre last week.

    “Teaching is very much about meeting students halfway through understanding and empathy,” he said. “And some of our students need more from us. They need us to identify, understand, minimize and eliminate the marginalization they experience so they can rise.”

    That includes Black, LGBTQ and Indigenous students, and those who live in poverty, he said.

    It was Joshua’s first opportunity to introduce himself at the annual back-to-school kickoff held by the Peel board. But it wasn’t long before he was sharing the stage.

    First came a Grade 12 student who spoke about her years struggling with anxiety and depression, and dreading school.

    “Sound familiar? Students like me are in your schools right now,” she told the crowd last week, before delivering a stirring vocal performance.

    She was followed by a Grade 11 pupil who used spoken word to describe how, as a Black student, he had felt labelled, judged and discouraged from his goal of becoming a veterinarian. At one point “I stopped trying,” he said, adding that he is now determined to set his own path.

    “If you as educators want to do better, reconsider judging,” he urged staff. “Reconsider judging my looks or my friends . . . encourage never discourage. Care not because it’s your job, but because we matter.”

    Joshua said the students’ messages needed to be delivered without being “watered down.”

    The voices of students who are struggling or feel marginalized “are sometimes difficult to hear,” he said in his remarks. “Our backs go up. We think, ‘have I said this to a student?’ Our discomfort should lead to self-reflection.”

    Those voices also underscore the need for more training to help staff meet the diverse needs of the children and youth they teach. In a survey last year, mental health was an area staff requested more help with, he noted. And additional training will be provided to help equip them with strategies to support students with anxiety and other conditions.

    In the past year, the board has announced initiatives to address the needs of Black students after surveys revealed many felt excluded, subject to suspicion and harsher discipline, and that they faced lower expectations for careers and university and were streamed into courses below their abilities.

    In response, the board presented a plan starting with mandatory bias and anti-racism training for all staff, which begins this fall. It also pledged to revise curriculum to include the history and experiences of Black Canadians throughout, and to create mentoring programs aimed at getting more Black students involved in taking on leadership roles.

    It committed to collecting race-based statistics at a time when boards across the province are being encouraged to take that step.

    Peel’s first student census to provide that information is expected to be completed by December 2018.

    Its first workforce census earlier this year found that while visible minorities make up more than half of Peel Region, only about a quarter of staff and teachers at the board identify as “racialized.”

    Joshua says Peel’s 153,000 students need to see themselves reflected in the people who teach them and what they learn in their classrooms.

    “If students see themselves reflected in the curriculum, if they believe their identities are validated and their narratives are included they will be engaged,” he told staff last week.

    He said the board will be working with York University professor Carl James to measure the impact of the steps it is taking and what more should be done.

    “I’m encouraged with the conversations we’ve had, and the fact the board has had these discussions with the community,” said James, who last spring published a major study on the barriers faced by Black students in the GTA.

    “They’ve put in place a number of processes that I think should bode well,” he said in an interview, adding that it has the potential to become a model for other boards.

    The population of Peel has changed dramatically since Joshua, 53, was a young student and one of the few non-white faces in his class photos.

    Raised in Mississauga by parents who immigrated from Pakistan and India, he attended Peel schools until he left for McMaster University in Hamilton, where he earned a degree in biology followed by a master’s degree in molecular virology and immunology and studied with a leading HIV-AIDS researcher.

    His stint as a teaching assistant made him realize he wanted to pursue a career in education.

    After attending teachers college at Western University in London, he returned to the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board to teach high school biology and chemistry for eight years before moving into administration.

    His most recent role was executive superintendent of leadership and learning, which included exploring non-traditional teaching, programs and classrooms.

    Joshua lived, worked and raised two daughters in Hamilton with his wife before returning after 28 years to take the helm at a board three times larger than his previous one.

    In an interview earlier this summer, he said he plans to stay the course with the ground laid by predecessor Tony Pontes and put student experience front and centre.

    “Ultimately if I’m not listening to our students, why are we doing what we’re doing?”


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    Locals and tourists alike marvel at the Toronto skyline for its great heights and compelling shapes glittered with lights. On Labour Day weekend, it is projecting a message in the sky: “LESS IS MORE OR.”

    The TD Centre, Toronto’s original set of skyscrapers, is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a message created with the light from its windows. Artist Aude Moreau produced “Less is More Or” as a tribute to Mies van der Rohe, the TD Centre’s architect, who embodied the phrase “less is more” with his minimalist esthetic.

    “It was my chance to reflect on Mies van der Rohe's emblematic statement on architecture and minimalism in the context of our time,” Moreau said. “In this site-specific intervention, I am adding the least possible, using what is already present. That is minimalism.”

    After months of planning and collaboration with electrical contractors, the piece debuted on Saturday night, with volunteers and staff working the blinds on the five TD Centre towers to form the words.

    “By playing with these superstructures’ typical, squared luminous emanations, I engage with architecture from within,” said Moreau, who has done similar projects in Montreal and Los Angeles, “but nothing this complex, ambitious and at this scale.”

    “I think big ideas shown in artwork cannot be overstated,” said David Hoffman, general manager of the TD Centre. “The meaning of this artwork is significant, “less is more” and the principles of minimalism certainly apply today and definitely in the future.”

    The “Or” in the piece is open to interpretation, according to Moreau.

    “I wanted to revisit the interpretation of the evolution of modernism and the possibilities of what is to come . . . to say ‘what now’.”

    Moreau approached the TD Centre to do the project, a complex that Hoffman calls a “symbol of leading Canadian business” and design excellence.

    The TD Centre is undergoing a $200 million renewal, including repainting the towers and replacing the windows.

    From ground-level, the best place to see the project is Roundhouse Park, where viewers are surrounded by the CN Tower and the Rogers Centre, some of the most iconic parts of the city’s skyline.

    Monday night is the final night to see the project.


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    SALT LAKE CITY—Officials at a Utah hospital where a nurse was arrested after refusing to allow police to draw blood from an unconscious patient apologized that security officers didn’t intervene and said Monday that they have implemented policy changes to prevent it from happening again.

    The announcements mark the latest fallout from nurse Alex Wubbels’ release last week of July 26 video from a Salt Lake City police officer’s body camera showing him dragging her from University of Utah Hospital and handcuffing her. The officer has been put on leave, and his agency has apologized.

    Hospital CEO Gordon Crabtree said changes took effect in August that allow only senior nursing supervisors to speak with law enforcement and ban conversations with police in patient care areas.

    Officials spoke publicly for the first time to make it clear that the hospital took action long before Wubbels released the video, said Crabtree, who called the officer’s actions out of line.

    “There’s absolutely no tolerance for that kind of behaviour in our hospital,” Crabtree said. “Nurse Wubbels was placed in an unfair and unwarranted position . . . Her actions are nothing less than exemplary.”

    Read more:

    Utah officer handcuffs screaming nurse, on video, for refusing to draw blood from unconscious patient without consent

    Georgia cop fired after video captures him saying ‘we only shoot Black people’

    Police chiefs blast Trump for seeming to endorse ‘police brutality’

    Meanwhile, University of Utah Police Chief Dale Brophy said none of his officers at the hospital have been disciplined but will receive additional training in the wake of the arrest.

    Wubbels has said she released the video her attorneys received through a public records request partly because she was unhappy that university police didn’t help her. She wasn’t immediately available for comment on the hospital’s announcements.

    Brophy said that when he met with Wubbels and her attorney last Tuesday, he had not seen the video.

    “It’s like seeing a picture or actually visiting a place — it’s completely different,” the police chief said. “It was clear that the arrest was completely mishandled and was inappropriate and didn’t need to happen. She had done everything she possibly could to make that situation work and she wasn’t rewarded for that.”

    The video shows Wubbels, who works in the burn unit, calmly explaining that she could not take blood from a patient who had been injured in a car accident. A 2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling said a blood sample cannot be taken without patient consent or a warrant.

    Salt Lake City Det. Jeff Payne insisted, though police didn’t have a warrant and the unconscious patient was not a suspect.

    The dispute ended with Payne saying, “We’re done, you’re under arrest” and pulling her outside while she screamed, “I’ve done nothing wrong!”

    Wubbels, a former alpine skier who competed in the 1998 and 2002 Winter Olympics, told The Associated Press on Friday that she was grateful for support from her supervisors and hospital staff but disappointed she was left to defend herself with no help from university police.

    “This cop bullied me. He bullied me to the utmost extreme, and nobody stood in his way. And that should have originally been the job of security and the university police,” Wubbels said. “And they decided that when they showed up, they didn’t want to play for my team, and so they essentially put on the other guys’ jersey.”

    Criminal and internal affairs investigations are underway to review Payne’s actions.

    Payne hasn’t return messages left at publicly listed phone numbers. He wrote in a police report that he grabbed Wubbels and took her outside to avoid causing a “scene” in the emergency room.

    He said his boss, a lieutenant, told him to arrest Wubbels if she kept interfering. A second officer put on paid leave has not been officially identified, but officials have said they were reviewing the conduct of Payne’s boss.

    Wubbels, who was not charged, has not filed a lawsuit but her attorneys say that could change.


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    An Ontario Provincial Police officer has been released from hospital after suffering serious injuries from being dragged by a vehicle during a routine traffic stop in Mississauga.

    Peel Regional Police say the incident happened just before 9 a.m. at Hwy. 403 and Hurontario St., where an OPP officer and a car he had stopped were involved.

    “When he was conducting the traffic stop, the vehicle that he had pulled over had dragged him a (short) distance,” Peel police Const. Baljit Saini said.

    OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said Const. Patrick Chatelain left the hospital just before 6 p.m. and he is now recovering at home.

    He was initially rushed to Sunnybrook hospital with serious injuries but he is expected to make a full recovery.

    Chatelain has been with the service for four years and is part of the Port Credit detachment.

    Police say the suspect vehicle fled northbound on Hurontario St. and it was located around 1 p.m. at Hurontario St. and Tailwood Dr. which is about a 10 minute drive from the incident.

    Const. Mark Fischer said the car was unoccupied and it was in a parking lot of an apartment building.

    “The car has now been taken in for forensics,” he said.

    Saini said there were four people in the vehicle when it hit the officer. The car is described as a charcoal grey Chrysler 300 with black rims and a Quebec licence plate FLK8756.

    Anyone with information is asked to call Peel police or Crime Stoppers.

    Some Hwy. 403 on- and off-ramps in the areas were closed for the police investigation but have since reopened.


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    There will be no back-to-school selfies or binge-watching for students of the Toronto District School Board as a restriction on Instagram, Snapchat and Netflix will continue this year.

    In a statement released last week, the school board said there were unexpected delays in upgrading its Wi-Fi network during the summer.

    The school board announced in May that access to the popular image-sharing and streaming apps would be blocked until June 30.

    “As mobile device usage increases, so do the demands on this network, which was not designed to support this level of activity,” the board said at the time.

    Read more:TDSB students teaching themselves to work around website bans

    According to the board, almost half the schools in the system use an “older, slower network,” which cannot keep up with the growing traffic. The traffic overload has caused “slowness and lagging on the network.”

    The board was hoping to have installed faster, reliable internet network before the school year started.

    “In the spring, when these three sites were initially blocked, staff reported experiencing faster internet speeds as a result of the reduced traffic and were able to complete necessary operational tasks such as attendance,” the board said in a statement.

    “This continued measure will help alleviate congestion and boost network capacity while minimizing the impact on teaching and learning.”

    The board will revisit the policy in June 2018.

    With files from Star staff


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    Come the apocalypse, most Torontonians know exactly what they'd do: just hop in the car and head north for the cottage.

    Dream on. That fantasy would come to a screeching halt on the Don Valley Parkway somewhere well before the Bloor Viaduct.

    As Hurricane Harvey has made painfully clear in recent days, when disaster strikes a big city, there's no way out. Residents become prisoners. Either stuck in their homes or their vehicles; for many reasons, there's nowhere for them to go.

    Regardless, ever since a flood of biblical proportions laid waste to Houston, people have been demanding to know why no evacuation order was given. The answer is simple; it would only have piled one disaster on top of another.

    “You literally cannot put 6.5 million people on the road,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. “If you think the situation right now is bad, you give an order to evacuate, you are creating a nightmare.”

    This flies in the face of the basic human impulse to run away from catastrophe, but Turner was right. Though heavily criticized, he told a truth no one wanted to hear. Sitting in a car in shoulder-high floodwaters isn't exactly smart.

    When Hurricane Rita hit Houston in 2005, locals — about 3.7 million of them — decided to hit the highway. They had seen what unfolded in New Orleans and elsewhere during Hurricane Katrina, when some 1,800 people stayed home and were killed, and weren't inclined to hang around. What followed has been called the “largest evacuation in U.S. history.”

    Read more:

    Menacing Hurricane Harvey makes landfall in Texas with rain, heavy winds

    ‘Life threatening’ Hurricane Harvey strengthens as it surges toward Texas, Louisiana

    Harvey causes chaos in Houston, 6 family members feared dead after van swept away

    It was also a nightmare. As National Public Radio reported at the time: “In searing 100-degree heat . . . The traffic jam stretched for over 100 miles and has been going on for over a day and a half . . . Gasoline was not to be found along the interstate and cars that ran dry made the gridlock even worse. Abandoned vehicles littered the shoulder lanes.”

    Closer to home, an evacuation order was issued last year when devastating forest fires hit Fort McMurray, but not until buildings in the city were burning. Almost 90,000 people fled in their cars. Given that Fort McMurray is “a one-road-in, one-road-out city,” the inevitable result was chaos. Indeed, the only deaths connected to the fire came when a couple was killed in car crash during the evacuation.

    In the aftermath, officials were criticized for not ordering the evacuation sooner. No surprise there; but call it too soon, you're overreacting; wait too long, you're risking lives. Damned if you, damned if you don't.

    The only thing these disaster-stricken cities have in common was their lack of preparation. Whether it's even possible to prepare for catastrophe is doubtful, but some cities seem better at it than others. Vulnerability accumulates over decades through series of seemingly unrelated decisions. At the urging of Mayor John Tory, for example, Toronto recently opted to kill a plan that would have included a special levy to fund the costs of stormwater management. At the time council made its decision, much of the Toronto Islands was under water. Lake Ontario was at its highest level in a century, a full metre above the average of 2016.

    In July 2013, when a month's worth of rain fell in less than 24 hours, the subway was brought to a standstill, GO trains were stranded in water, power was cut to 300,000 and hundreds of cars abandoned, many on the parkway, which would be a major evacuation route in a disaster. Yet even at the best of times, the DVP, the Gardiner Expressway and the whole regional highway system are overwhelmed with traffic; their usefulness in a Hurricane Harvey-type situation would be limited.

    In other words, we're stuck — all 2.8 million of us. And indications are that the outcome wouldn't be pretty. Consider, for example, the small but telling fact that the city forks out about $70 million annually through its basement protection scheme. Rather than confront the causes of flooding, it prefers to pay homeowners to bail out. As civic bureaucrats know only too well, in tough economic times — pretty well permanent in these parts — stormwater management budgets are among the first to be affected.

    Clearly, city officials believe climate change measures can always be put off for another day. Though the effects of global warming are apparent, there is no collective sense of urgency. Toronto's unspoken policy remains the same as always — it won't happen here. If only.

    Christopher Hume’s column appears weekly. He can be reached at jcwhume4@gmail.com


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    OTTAWA—Boeing Co. has no plans to back down in its trade dispute with Canadian rival Bombardier — a high-stakes, cross-border conflict that the U.S. transportation giant says could have long-term ramifications for the future of the entire aerospace sector.

    The potential consequences of the Boeing-Bombardier standoff extend beyond any single deal — especially for Boeing itself, said Marc Allen, president of Boeing’s international division.

    “In Canada, we face a situation with a competitor, an emerging competitor, that has, yes, long received government support — but that just went beyond the pale in 2016,” Allen said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

    “That aggressive move had to be addressed if we really believe in establishing a global architecture that will create the greatest prosperity for our industry and for us as a company in the long term.”

    Boeing triggered the dispute earlier this year when it complained that Montreal-based Bombardier was selling its CSeries passengers jets to U.S.-based Delta Air Lines at an unfairly low price, thanks to loans and grants from both the province of Quebec and the federal government.

    When the U.S. Commerce Department and its associated International Trade Commission agreed in May to investigate the complaint, the Trudeau government fired a warning shot, threatening to scrap its multibillion-dollar “interim” plan to buy 18 of Boeing’s “interim” Super Hornet fighter jets.

    Read more:

    Boeing asks U.S. government to delay decision on Bombardier CSeries duties

    Fighter jet talks ‘suspended’ with Boeing amid its trade spat with Bombardier, Ottawa says

    Harjit Sajjan lashes out at Boeing over trade spat with Bombardier

    “The interim (fighter) procurement requires a trusted industry partner,” Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said on May 31, in what amounted to the government’s strongest public words on the dispute to date.

    “Our government is of the view their action against Bombardier is unfounded. It is not the behaviour we expect of a trusted partner and we call on Boeing to withdraw it.”

    Boeing initially hoped to resolve the dispute through diplomacy, Allen said, and convinced the U.S. government last year to send an official note to Canada, known as a demarche.

    “There was just no response,” Allen said. “It was clear that no progress was going to be made, and that if any progress was going to be had, it would have to be through some form of enforcement action.”

    Boeing knew the dispute would spark a strong reaction from Ottawa, Allen continued, but company executives decided that it needed to take action in order to protect the firm’s broader interests.

    And while the American aerospace titan — which also happens to employs thousands of people across Canada — would still prefer finding a resolution through more amicable means, Allen said it is singularly focused on achieving its objectives.

    “There’s certainly no desire to do something that any one of our customers or any one of our sovereign-state partners would take offence at,” he said. “But the effort to enforce our interests in an even playing field in aerospace is a very large interest.”

    Some have questioned why Boeing is being so aggressive; the CSeries planes manufactured by Bombardier do not directly compete with the U.S. company’s existing passenger jets.

    But Allen said the situation has echoes of the rapid ascent of Airbus, the European consortium that was formed in the 1970s and has since grown to become the second largest aerospace company in the world, and Boeing’s most formidable rival.

    “We watched another competitor come up and enter the market in a very similar fashion,” he said. “And in retrospect, I think that you find across the board in U.S. aerospace, people . . . who would have said they wish they had confronted the uneven playing field.”

    Boeing and Airbus have been locked in their own trade dispute at the World Trade Organization for more than a decade.

    Many defence officials and industry representatives have circled Sept. 25 on their calendars; that’s the date the U.S. Commerce Department is scheduled to release the preliminary findings of its investigation into Bombardier.

    But Allen said he expects the dispute to drag into next year, as U.S. officials finalize their findings and decide whether to level fines or tariffs against the Canadian manufacturer.

    That could force the federal Liberal government into making a decision about whether to move ahead with the Super Hornet purchase, or abandon it before a final decision is reached.

    The Trudeau government announced in November its plan to purchase the planes to temporarily fill a critical shortage of fighter jets until a full competition can be run to replace the aging CF-18s.

    The government said at the time that the Super Hornet was the only aircraft able to meet its immediate requirements, including being a mature design compatible with U.S. fighters.

    Since the Boeing-Bombardier spat erupted, however, it has largely cut off direct contact with the U.S. company and says that all options for filling the fighter-jet shortage are on the table.

    Many defence experts, including 13 retired air force commanders, have criticized the plan to purchase interim Super Hornets and called for an immediate competition to replace the CF-18s.


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    MEXICO CITY—Negotiators have run into a series of early sticking points on nearly every major element considered key to achieving a new NAFTA deal, The Canadian Press has learned.

    A recurring pattern involves one country raising a prized priority only to have other parties systematically refuse to engage in the conversation, said one source with knowledge of how the talks are unfolding in Mexico City.

    “The tone is negative,” said the source, who made sure to add that it’s still early. He said he remains hopeful a deal can be reached this year, and that obstinacy is to be expected in initial bargaining.

    Read more:

    Trump’s NAFTA hatred may do Canada a favour: Walkom

    Tories will support Liberals on NAFTA talks if they keep focus on economics, party critic says

    In defending NAFTA, Mexican president takes aim at Trump

    The source cited two examples.

    One is the Canadians asking for greater access to professional visas. It’s a priority not just for the Canadians, but also for businesses that struggle to send staff across the border. NAFTA’s visa list is outdated and doesn’t include modern digital jobs. The Americans have pushed off that conversation, which risks bumping into the country’s sensitive immigration politics.

    Canada has returned the favour. The second example cited by the source involves Canada’s supply management system. The U.S. has started to raise it as an issue. While the U.S. has not yet tabled a formal request, with numbers, it has declared its interest in loosening Canada’s import controls on dairy and poultry.

    He said the Canadians refused to open the discussion on two grounds: that Canada opposes the changes on principle, and that the U.S. has its own agricultural protections, such as tight controls on sugar imports and myriad programs to help struggling farmers.

    These are just two examples of an emerging pattern.

    “That’s literally the conversation playing out at every table,” said the source, who asked not to be named given the sensitivity of the discussions. “Almost everything has been raised (even if formal proposal papers have not yet been presented). People respond, ‘We have no mandate. We can’t discuss it.’”

    The negotiators broached additional difficult topics on Monday. A schedule obtained by The Canadian Press showed that the 12 negotiating tables meeting included the groups responsible for working on auto parts rules, government procurement and Buy American rules, and intellectual property.

    The fighting is internal as well. Canada’s push to include climate change action in a revamped agreement is turning into a heated domestic dispute just as it makes its debut at the official negotiating table. The NAFTA schedule obtained by CP showed the environment was on the schedule for seven hours of NAFTA talks on Monday and another seven hours on Tuesday.

    It could be one of the more contentious chapters, as significant differences of opinion about the environment exist between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump.

    Environment Minister Catherine McKenna launched an angry missive at Conservative foreign affairs critic Erin O’Toole on Sunday for suggesting the environment was a mere “trinket” better left to the sidelines to protect Canada’s economic well-being.

    She wrote a lengthy response on Facebook, noting it was O’Toole’s party under former prime minister Brian Mulroney that first included the environment in a Canadian trade deal with NAFTA’s parallel environment agreement.

    The history of international trade negotiations suggests it is best not to read too much into early intransigence.

    Former Canadian negotiator Gordon Ritchie, in his memoirs of the original 1980s Canada-U.S. trade talks, expressed frustration that the lead U.S. negotiator repeatedly refused to engage in discussions that were considered politically sensitive and that would ultimately be decided by his bosses in Washington.

    That’s what ended up happening in 1987: the thorniest issue involved a new international dispute settlement mechanism and it was settled in a final-night phone call between Mulroney and Ronald Reagan confidant James Baker.

    The source said he isn’t overly concerned about the early-round head-butting, which he says is expected. He said he still believes an agreement is possible by the end of the year: “I am not any more or less optimistic than I was going into this round.”

    The one irritant that has publicly surfaced is labour.

    Canada has several labour priorities, sources say: it wants the U.S. to sign a series of international labour agreements it has yet to approve, and it wants changes to labour laws in Mexico that would increase the salaries of autoworkers.

    Mexican business and labour leaders are resistant to any attempt by the United States to tighten labour standards or ensure that Mexican wages rise. Mexico has drawn plants and investments by capitalizing on low wages and weak union rules.

    Mexican and Canadian auto unions say in a report that Mexican autoworkers earn about $3.95 an hour, which is about one-ninth of average wages north of the border.

    Canadian union leader Jerry Dias said wages should be equalized, arguing that higher southern salaries are a win-win: Mexican workers would benefit, and Canadian and American workers might save some future jobs as more plants remain in the wealthier countries.

    But top Mexican union leader Carlos Aceves del Olmo says equalizing wages is “a pipe dream.”

    With files from The Associated Press


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    NEW YORK—North Korea’s leader is “begging for war,” the U.S. ambassador said Monday at an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council, as members called for punishing the country with even stronger sanctions for its powerful nuclear test.

    Ambassador Nikki Haley said the U.S. would look at countries doing business with the North — which include China — and planned to circulate a resolution this week with the goal of getting it approved Sept. 11.

    “Enough is enough. War is never something the United States wants. We don’t want it now. But our country’s patience is not unlimited,” Haley said.

    “The United States will look at every country that does business with North Korea as a country, that is giving aid to their reckless and dangerous nuclear intentions,” she said.

    The move came as South Korea said it was seeing preparations in the North for an ICBM test and fired missiles into the sea to simulate an attack on the North’s main nuclear test site.

    Also on Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump spoke by phone with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and agreed that Sunday’s underground nuclear test by North Korea was an unprecedented provocation. The two leaders also agreed to remove the limit on the payload of South Korean missiles.

    Read more:

    North Korean nuclear test poses familiar dilemma for U.S.

    Trudeau calls on UN to help constrain North Korea missile testing

    Nuclear-armed N. Korea a reality to deal with: Walkom

    The emergency UN session was scheduled after North Korea said it detonated the hydrogen bomb and came six days after the council strongly condemned what it called Pyongyang’s “outrageous” launch of a ballistic missile over Japan. Less than a month ago, the council imposed its stiffest sanctions yet on Kim Jong Un’s reclusive nation.

    Still, the U.S. resolution faces an uncertain future. Russia and China have both proposed a two-pronged approach: North Korea would suspend its nuclear and missile development, and the United States and South Korea would suspend their joint military exercises.

    Washington and Seoul say the manoeuvres are defensive, but Pyongyang views them as a rehearsal for invasion. The North recently requested a Security Council meeting about the war games.

    The U.S. says there is no comparison between its openly conducted, internationally monitored military drills and North Korea’s weapons programs, which the international community has banned.

    Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told reporters after the meeting that sanctions alone will not solve the issue and that negotiations are needed as well.

    “Resolutions aimed solely at sanctioning North Korea have not worked well before,” he said.

    Diplomats from France, Britain, Italy and other countries reiterated demands for the Kim regime to halt its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs and urged further sanctions.

    French Ambassador Francois Delattre said France was urging the adoption of new UN sanctions, swift implementation of existing ones and new, separate sanctions by the European Union.

    “Pyongyang poses a clear threat to international peace and security and is increasingly and seriously challenging the global nonproliferation regime,” said Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi of Italy, which heads the North Korea sanctions compliance committee. He noted that North Korea is the only country to have tested a nuclear device in the 21st century.

    The North trumpeted that its sixth nuclear test blast since 2006 was a “perfect success.”

    “We cannot waste any more time. And in order to do that, we need North Korea to feel the pressure, but if they go down this road there will be consequences,” Japanese Ambassador Koro Bessho told reporters before the meeting.

    Chinese Ambassador Liu Jieyi said the situation on the Korean peninsula “is deteriorating constantly as we speak, falling into a vicious circle.” He called for restarting talks and asked Washington and Seoul to suspend their exercises.

    The council aimed to take a big bite out of the North Korean economy earlier this month by banning the North from exporting coal, iron, lead and seafood. Together, those are worth about a third of the country’s $3 billion in exports last year.

    The council could look to sanction other profitable North Korean exports, such as textiles. Another possibility could be tighter limits on North Korean labourers abroad; the recent sanctions barred giving any new permits for such workers. The United States suggested other ideas earlier this summer, including air and maritime restrictions and restricting oil to North Korea’s military and weapons programs.


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    From last Wednesday to Monday, Toronto saw at least one shooting each day — a chilling series of events that included the deaths of two people: 22-year-old Jovane Clarke and 34-year-old Awad Hurre.

    Six of the seven shootings took place in an area of the city police call the northwest corridor — which includes a large part of North York and some parts of Etobicoke and York, bordered by Bayview Ave. to the east and the Humber river to the west. The seventh took place in Regent Park on Monday.

    The attacks have injured communities, roused advocates, and left police searching for answers.

    “When something like that happens, it shakes up the community,” said Keaton Austin, an Etobicoke pastor who advocates for safety of young people. “It makes the community get in more trouble; it’s more violated. The community is traumatized.”

    The string of events was particularly unnerving to police because of the public nature of some of the incidents.

    Read more:

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    Like the 2012 Eaton Centre shooting deaths of Ahmed Hassan and Nixon Nirmalendran, which drew the city’s attention toward gun violence, the shooting that killed Clarke took place inside a busy mall. Many shoppers and staff at Sheridan Mall in North York witnessed the attack, which took place around 6:30 p.m. on Thursday.

    The shooting death of Hurre just two days later bore similarities to Clarke’s death that police said they could not ignore.

    Both victims were targeted for unknown reasons. Both were killed in public spaces with lots of people around. The two victims lived in the same apartment building, where Hurre was found dead.

    In each case, police said they were looking for four suspects.

    On Saturday Const. Allyson Douglas-Cook called Clarke’s killing, along with two non-fatal shootings that occurred Wednesday and Friday, “concerning.”

    “I don’t want to say that it is a threat to public safety,” she said. “It is a concern.”

    Const. Caroline de Kloet said Monday the message is the same, and called on communities to assist with investigations.

    In the wake of the attacks, Austin thinks more must be done to improve the security and safety of the areas where the shootings took place.

    “The Sheridan Mall is not the Eaton Centre,” Austin said. “A bunch of community housing, a bunch of people who are not that well off live in that area. If it was downtown, there would be more outcry.”

    Part of that, he said, means prioritizing security guards in malls, apartment buildings, and other busy spaces in that area of the city. (Sheridan Mall management did not discuss security details but said there was security in place at the location.)

    Austin also called gun access a major problem.

    “How are they getting the firearms?” he said Monday. “I think it should be way more stiff penalties with the firearms.”

    Homicide data made public by Toronto police show that, while 26 per cent of total Toronto homicides occurred in the northwest corridor between 2007 and 2016, 34 per cent of shooting homicides occurred in that area over the same period of time — 110 shooting homicides out of 163 for the area.

    Toronto police were unable to immediately comment on the specific shooting homicide statistics for the northwest corridor on Monday.

    “We do know that area is a concern,” de Kloet said.


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    Alan Doucette’s father spent two years less a day in jail for union activity.

    As member of the Canadian Seaman’s Union, he was part of the 1946 strike at England’s London Harbour, fighting for worker’s rights after the Second World War.

    It’s a story his son has never forgotten.

    “He was very proud of that because he did it on principle,” said Doucette, a member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Local 873.

    “That’s why I belong to union and that’s why I’m marching today.”

    Doucette is just one of thousands of people who gathered in downtown Toronto to support the labour movement Monday morning.

    “The Labour Day parade is a celebration of all the things we are accomplishing together and a reminder about why we fight,” said Tracy McMaster, a member of OPSEU, which represents 130,000 public service workers across the province.

    For Francesco Luberto, who spent decades working in road construction, on water mains and sewers, and bridges, the parade was a chance to celebrate his retirement five years ago.

    “It gave me the opportunity and the chance to enjoy my retirement. It’s the best thing that ever happened to my life after my wife,” he said of his union, Laborers' International Union of North America, Local 183, which represents construction workers.

    Jagmeet Singh, an Ontario NDP MPP running for leadership of the federal party, said the parade is an opportunity to celebrate the victories of the labour movement — everything from weekends to workers’ safety.

    But an ongoing strike by about 700 ground crew workers at Pearson International Airport is a reminder there’s more work to do.

    “It just highlights how important it is to continue to fight for rights,” he said.

    It’s a sentiment Premier Kathleen Wynne echoed in a statement Monday morning.

    “I have spent the summer travelling around our province, and what I am hearing is that people are worried.”

    “We need to do all we can to ensure that people are given every chance to get ahead during this period of change,” she said, adding that’s why the government is raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.


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    TORONTO—Serina Manek has been living in Leslieville for seven years and has watched it go from a rough-around-the-edges area in Toronto’s east end, to one of the city’s most desirable neighbourhoods.

    The demand for Leslieville was always building, she says, but when the condos started going up, the boom of young families started to have an effect on the neighbourhood dynamic and, ultimately, the schools.

    “It was starting to burst at the seams with just the young families coming in at first,” said Manek, who has a 5-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter. “But with the addition of the condos, things are becoming unmanageable. It’s too much.”

    Toronto public schools in condo-heavy neighbourhoods are starting to feel the squeeze of a dense population. The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) has been warning new home buyers in certain neighbourhoods that not all children will be accommodated in their home school.

    TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird says the board has placed signs on the street level warning potential home buyers that a spot in a home school isn’t guaranteed and similar warnings are also included in the home buyer’s agreement. Bird says the most recent statistics show that there are 110 new developments in Toronto with those warnings.

    Leslieville is one of them and Manek says that she doesn’t know if her daughter will be able to go to the same school as her brother when she starts kindergarten.

    “It’s unsettling to walk around the neighbourhood and see that sign, and for that to be your form of communication,” Manek said. “I guess the frustration is the communication, but I don’t know where that communication would come from.”

    Sitting in a buzzing Leslieville park — one that Manek notes used to be empty a few years ago — she says that she doesn’t see the population boom as sustainable.

    Her friend, Holly Andruchuk, will be sending her son to his first year of kindergarten in the upcoming school year, but says that the implications of her crowded nearby school just keep piling up.

    Their school, Morse Park Junior Public School, is nestled on a small street just off of Leslieville’s main thoroughfare. In 2010, it was home to around 200 students, according to the TDSB. This year, it’s grown more than double that with over 500 students. Bird says the dramatic increase is due to changing demographics in the region, as well as the addition of French immersion at the school.

    Andruchuk says that the high number of students means that her son will be in a classroom with as many as 27 other students, and that is one of five kindergarten classes this year. And his classroom will be on the second floor, which she says is unusual for a kindergarten student.

    “Our teacher on orientation night actually said that, because we’re on the second floor, our kids don’t go outside as often,” Andruchuk said. “Because in winter time, trying to dress 4- and 5-year-olds (and then get them down the stairs) is a challenge on its own.”

    However, Andruchuk is optimistic that her son’s education won’t suffer. She believes that the community will have to step up to support their children in a way that a stressed school system might not be able to. Her friend Manek, however, is not so sure. She thinks that ultimately, some parents will give up on the Leslieville area and move on further away.

    Whether a community culture can save Leslieville or not, the problem isn’t isolated to the one Toronto neighbourhood. Bird says the housing development warnings are sprawled in locations all across the city.

    Next door in Mississauga, the Peel District School Board (PDSB) uses the same warning messages to prospective buyers in the crowded city centre area, where more families are living in condos than originally expected.

    “The numbers would bear out a trend that families are seeking a more affordable form of apartment condominiums,” said Randy Wright, a planning controller with the PDSB, who says that finding land for new schools for the incoming families is proving to be a difficult task.

    And across the country in Vancouver, the city’s public school board says it can’t always guarantee that students will be able to go to their home school and may have to be bussed out to further schools.

    In the meantime, Andruchuk and Manek are gearing up for the upcoming school year and plan to volunteer in the school system as much as possible.

    “I will always put my kids’ education first,” Manek said.


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    There’s sweetness to packing the children back to school for a fresh academic year. If your Facebook feeds are like mine, they popped up with photos of kids walking on sidewalks shouldering their backpacks, or standing on the front porch holding blackboards declaring their new grades.

    Much like time that continually draws curtains on a past less chronicled, social media feeds curated for cuteness obscure the yelling, the tears, the hustle-bustle of getting ready on school mornings.

    When our children go to school, we expect inventions and new discoveries in science and math to have changed the curriculum from the years we learned those subjects. But we view history as static, assuming our scholarship of it was reasoned, factual and complete.

    It’s no surprise then that the school system produces grown-ups intellectually incapable of reconciling the image of Canada’s first prime minister as astute statesman with that of a criminally flawed man.

    Instead, we end up with adults who feel personally affronted by any slight on John A. Macdonald — except if you call him a drunk. Then it’s a laughing nudge, nudge, wink, wink. (Alcoholism is only derided as a cultural failing when applied to Indigenous people, but that’s another story.)

    Why do we deify historical heroes and airbrush their complexities? I see historical stories as mythmaking vehicles created to foster a unified sense of national identity and pride in the past. In doing so, though, they sacrifice truth telling and integrity. This is true world over, but also in Canada, which prides itself on its exceptionally inclusive ways.

    Macdonald was by all accounts a visionary and a deft negotiator, but he was also an enforcer of Aryan supremacy, an implementer of genocide of the Indigenous peoples. If he is credited with building the railway, he should also be held accountable for starving Indigenous people and marching them off to “reserves” to clear land for those railways. Under his authority, abusive residential schools were created, and the practice of segregation ensured Black children received substandard or no education.

    For those who believe he should not be judged by today’s standards, historian Sean Carleton posted online newspaper cartoons from Macdonald’s era that showed he was considered racist even in his time.

    It’s because the past cannot be discussed with honesty that reassurances about the present and future such as “things are getting better,” or that the next generation won’t have the same prejudices, ring hollow.

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    Why would today’s students be any different if they are learning the same things?

    The Ontario Curriculum instructs teachers to include age-appropriate Indigenous references and diverse perspectives in all subjects. A Scope and Sequence of Expectations released in 2016 says the aim is to foster “greater awareness of the distinct place and role of Indigenous peoples in our shared heritage and in the future of Ontario.”

    In Grade 3, for instance, it says, “Students will learn about the challenges faced by Indigenous peoples, including encroachment and racism during the late 1700s and early 1800s.”

    So far so good. How does this translate in reality?

    Not effectively.

    Teachers I spoke to from the TDSB were not even aware this document existed.

    Two recent studies, one published this summer, the other last year found teachers did not have the confidence to discuss Indigenous cultures at school.

    Why would they?

    Their assumptions, too, are shaped by colonial narratives. Only 45 per cent of those surveyed for the Canadian Teachers’ Federation last year felt “somewhat confident” about their knowledge of Indigenous culture, while 35 per cent felt “not confident at all.”

    That a majority of teachers are weaving in a small amount of Indigenous content in their teachings, suggests willingness. That they are doing so only occasionally indicates inadequacy of knowledge.

    Teachers say they are already overburdened by expectations piled on them — teach the three Rs, develop character, build relations with parents, deal with special needs students without more assistance, deal with staff cutbacks, now prioritize math and science, now include “diverse” perspectives.

    And oh, it’s not compulsory to do so.

    The social studies curriculum for Grade 3, for instance, states students will: “describe some of the similarities and differences in various aspects of everyday life … of selected groups living in Canada between 1780 and 1850 (e.g., First Nations, Métis, French, British, Black people; men and women; slaves, indentured servants, habitants, seigneurs, farmers; people from different classes)”

    Given a choice like that, you get no points for guessing which group teachers zero in on.

    Apart from knowledge, incorporating different perspectives would require that teachers introspect on their own assumptions, drop their biases, not be fragile about past misdeeds of white settlers, and not be intimidated by new knowledge.

    Teachers obviously care; it was their union that brought the John A. issue to the forefront.

    Progress championed by educators makes me optimistic.

    However, intention alone does not bring change. School boards will need to diversify teaching staff. They should provide teachers with a list of books for reference. Schools should have access to Indigenous Elders and consultants as well as Black educators. Teacher training on Indigenous knowledge should be made mandatory.

    Otherwise, the goal of an inclusive curriculum risks being relegated to a mere feel-good rhetorical attempt at reconciliation.

    Shree Paradkar writes about discrimination and identity. You can follow her @shreeparadkar


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    A man is in serious condition after he was stabbed while out for a jog late Monday night.

    Paramedics said a man in his 20s was taken to a trauma centre just after 11 p.m. According to police, he was stabbed in the back.

    Police described the man’s wound as small, and said Tuesday morning that his injuries are not life-threatening.

    The victim was found at Dupont St. and Manning Ave., near Christie St., but Toronto police believe he was stabbed elsewhere.

    At this point, police do not have a motive for the attack, and currently believe it to be “unprovoked,” according to Const. Allyson Douglas-Cook.

    Police are looking for a suspect described as a man between the ages of 55 and 60, with short grey hair and a stocky build. He was wearing a light-coloured shirt tucked into his pants. He was last seen holding a large hunting knife.

    No arrests have been made.

    With files from Alexandra Jones and Brennan Doherty


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    WASHINGTON—U.S. President Donald Trump suggested Tuesday it’s up to Congress to ultimately decide the fate of hundreds of thousands of young immigrants brought into the country illegally as children.

    He tweeted: “Congress, get ready to do your job—DACA!”

    Trump was referring to former president Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA program, which has provided nearly 800,000 young immigrants a reprieve from deportation and the ability to work legally in the U.S.

    The Trump administration was expected to announce termination of the program — but only after giving Congress six months to come up with a legislative solution to protect the immigrants, sometimes known as “dreamers.”

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

    “Make no mistake, we are going to put the interest of AMERICAN CITIZENS FIRST!” Trump added in a second, retweeted message. “The forgotten men & women will no longer be forgotten.”

    Trump has no announcement on his Tuesday schedule, but Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a harsh opponent of the program, scheduled a press briefing on the topic later Tuesday.

    Trump’s expected plan to take a hard line on young immigrants unless Congress intervenes threatens to expose deep divides among Republicans who have long struggled with the issue, with one conservative warning of a potential “civil war” within the party. The plan essentially hands a political hot potato to congressional Republicans, who have a long history of failing to act on immigration because of divisions in the party.

    Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., tweeted: “After teasing #Dreamers for months with talk of his ‘great heart,’ @POTUS slams door on them. Some ‘heart’..”

    Trump’s decision would come after a long and notably public deliberation. Despite campaigning as an immigration hard-liner, Trump has said he is sympathetic to the plight of the immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children and in some cases have no memories of the countries they were born in.

    But such an approach — essentially kicking the can down the road and letting Congress deal with it— is fraught with uncertainty and political perils that amount, according to one vocal opponent, to “Republican suicide.”

    Still other Republicans say they are ready to take on a topic that has proven a non-starter and career-breaker for decades.

    “If President Trump makes this decision we will work to find a legislative solution to their dilemma,” said Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham.

    Officials caution that Trump’s plan is not yet finalized, and the president, who has been grappling with the issue for months, has been known to change his mind at the last minute ahead of an announcement. It also remains unclear exactly how a six-month delay would work in practice, including whether the government would continue to process applications under the program, which has given nearly 800,000 young immigrants a reprieve from deportation and the ability to work legally in the country in the form of two-year, renewable permits.

    The Obama administration created the DACA program in 2012 as a stopgap as they pushed unsuccessfully for a broader immigration overhaul in Congress. Many Republicans say they opposed the program on the grounds that it was executive overreach.

    House Speaker Paul Ryan and a handful of other Republicans urged Trump last week to hold off on scrapping DACA to give lawmakers time to come up with a legislative fix.

    But Congress has repeatedly tried — and failed — to come together on immigration overhaul legislation, and it remains uncertain whether the House would succeed in passing anything on the divisive topic.

    One bill addressing the issue that has received the most attention, introduced by Sens. Graham, R-S.C., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., would grant permanent legal status to more than 1 million young people who arrived in the United States before they turned 18, passed security checks and met other criteria, including enrolling in college, joining the military or finding jobs.

    It’s unclear, however, whether the president would throw his support behind that or any other existing legislation. He could encourage the writing of a new bill — tied, perhaps, to funding for his promised border wall or other concessions like a reduction in legal immigration levels.

    But it’s unclear how much political capital the president would want to put on the line given his base’s strong opposition to illegal immigration, his campaign rhetoric blasting DACA as illegal “amnesty” and his reluctance to campaign hard for other priorities, like health care overhaul.

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    Graham said in a statement Monday that he would support the president if he decided ultimately to go through with the plan as outlined.

    “I have always believed DACA was a presidential overreach. However, I equally understand the plight of the Dream Act kids who — for all practical purposes — know no country other than America,” Graham said in a statement.

    Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., agreed, saying that it should be up to Congress, not the White House, to set immigration policy.

    “We must confront the nation’s out-of-date immigration policy and finally resolve the issues of strong border enforcement and merit immigration,” he said. “It is right for there to be consequences for those who intentionally entered this country illegally. However, we as Americans do not hold children legally accountable for the actions of their parents.”

    But Rep. Steve King, an Iowa Republican who believes that DACA is unconstitutional, warned that pushing the decision to Congress would be a big mistake.

    “That would cause a great big civil war among the Republicans,” he said last week. “We’ve got enough of never-Trumpers in Congress that are undermining the president’s agenda.”

    He added on Twitter late Sunday night: “Ending DACA now gives chance 2 restore Rule of Law. Delaying so R Leadership can push Amnesty is Republican suicide.”


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    Sarah Nicholl mixes strict precaution into any meal she makes.

    “We are very careful to read the ingredients on everything that we buy,” says Nicholl, whose 9-year-old son, Luke, has a serious peanut allergy.

    “We read it in the store, then we check it when we’re through the lane, and then we read it again before we feed him,” the Aurora tech worker says.

    Such vigilance is commonplace for parents of the two in 100 Canadian children who suffer from allergies to the common legume.

    Yet as peanut-free lunches are being packed for returning schoolchildren across Canada this week, top allergy researchers are increasingly hopeful the condition can be cracked.

    “There is a lot of exciting stuff that’s coming out,” says Dr. Adelle Atkinson, a clinical immunologist at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children.

    “Now, every time we turn around somebody is starting to think about a new way of approaching the problem,” the allergy expert says.

    Atkinson — who calls progress in the field “explosive” — points to a recent study out of Melbourne, Australia, that has added to a growing list of promising treatments.

    Released in August, it found that children fed a probiotic bacterium — coupled with an offending peanut protein and mixed in a starchy powder — could gain sustained allergy suppression, lasting four years after the 18-month treatments were ceased.

    The study was published in the Lancet Child & Adolescent Healththe Lancet Child & Adolescent Health. While it was small — it enlisted some 56 children, half of whom were fed an inert placebo — it suggests yet another new direction in treatment, Atkinson says.

    The need for such advances has become much more acute over the past decades as the incidence of food allergies — those to peanuts being amongst the most lethal — has risen exponentially.

    Some 2.5 million Canadians now report having at least one food allergy. And on the peanut side alone, rates have risen by some 18 per cent in the past five years, Atkinson says.

    “When we went to school I don’t remember knowing anyone with a peanut allergy,” she says.

    “Now I have a (16-year-old) son with a peanut allergy and two of his best friends have a peanut allergy.”

    So why is that?

    Though not fully understood, the reasons could include the increasing practice of roasting peanuts before including them in food products like peanut butter, Atkinson says.

    “Roasting peanuts probably makes the (active) allergen … protein a little bit more allergic in nature,” she says.

    “The other thing is we used to give people what we now know to be the wrong advice, which was to avoid all these things until your child is 3. We now know that it’s the opposite.”

    Some also point to the so-called “let them eat dirt” hypothesis, which posits that modern kids are too clean and that their immune systems are not trained to tolerate substances they would commonly encounter in nature.

    Atkinson says the precise mechanisms that the promising probiotic treatment might employ to prevent reactions needs further study and that the method must be applied to a larger cohort of children.

    “So we’re probably a ways away from applying that broadly … in our practices,” she says.

    “But I think what it has shown us is (that it’s) probably possible that we can actually … take someone who has exhibited the allergy and cure that.”

    Dr. David Fischer, president of the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, says the study was the first to demonstrate an oral therapy having sustained allergy suppression after treatments stopped.

    But Fischer also cautions that the small sampling of Australian patients who appeared to be “cured” might have “just happened to do well” without the novel probiotic element of the therapy, and that more and larger studies are needed before it can be brought into widespread clinical use.

    Still, the study follows hard on the heels of new U.S. food guidelines released earlier this year that recommend infants be fed peanut products beginning at 6 months to help build up allergy resistance.

    The U.S. National Institutes of Health guidelines were created by an international panel and based on a 2015 British paper that involved some 640 babies.

    That so-called LEAP (Learning Early About Peanut Allergy) paper suggested that frequent peanut-product feedings from infancy through age 5 led to an 81-per-cent drop in allergy development.

    As well, Atkinson says, researchers at Sick Kids and elsewhere are exploring new treatments that look to block a small protein that is produced more profusely in allergy sufferers and is responsible for causing the most severe reactions.

    Animal studies have shown that interfering with the protein known as platelet activating factor — or PAF — may significantly reduce the severity of allergic reactions in those most vulnerable to them, she says.

    Testing for PAF levels could also help to stratify patients by severity risk, with those most vulnerable receiving some form of blocking medications.

    “We don’t know exactly yet, but (it would) probably be something you would ingest on a regular basis to reduce your risk of having a severe reaction should you be exposed accidentally,” Atkinson says.

    She says Sick Kids researchers are also working on new techniques that would more accurately assess the risks posed by allergy tests conducted by doctors in clinic.

    These would reduce the chance that children might have a severe reaction to a substance while being tested for their allergic susceptibility to it.

    “We’re kind of hitting it from all angles,” Atkinson says.

    “Prevention, cure, and if you can’t cure can you modify, can you come up with better testing” to manage the patient?

    Fischer, who practises in Barrie, also says cumulative advances in the field have many allergy specialists excited.

    “There are many different protocols that seem to be showing promise,” he says, mentioning new drug and skin-patch therapies that are showing early success.

    Functioning much like a nicotine patch, the latter idea would introduce peanut — or milk or eggs — into patients through the skin to help desensitize them to the allergens.

    Fischer cautions, however, that many of the novel therapy advances can be costly, hard to administer and even dangerous for patients.

    While the probiotic capsules used in the Australian study would be cheap to manufacture, for example, testing their effectiveness in a broader cohort of patients would be hugely expensive, he says. Such studies would involve hospital stays, round-the-clock surveys and multiple clinic visits, he says.

    “But we have much more excitement in terms of being able to help control things and make things less dangerous in general,” he says. “As opposed to just saying ‘strict avoidance,’ there may be other strategies that will fit in there as well.”

    All these developments are heartening to Nicholl, whose son also has severe — or anaphylactic — allergies to dairy, egg and tree-nut products. He carries two EpiPen injectors, which can administer epinephrine to ease breathing, at all times.

    “I’m really pleased with the research that’s going on,” Nicholl says. “The Australia study in particular looks very positive.”

    Luke became severely ill after eating a “minuscule bite” of icing from a purportedly allergen-free cupcake at a birthday party a few years ago.

    And Nicholl has made it a mission to police her son’s food intake and spread safety measures to his school and beyond.

    “We have plans with the school to ensure a safe environment around his food and no food sharing,” she says. “We take our food when we go out and we don’t tend to eat in restaurants, so we’re always careful, and have avoided using the EpiPens for a number of years now.”

    Nicholl is also a co-founder of the Toronto Anaphylactic Education Group, which offers information and support to some 300 families with allergic children around the GTA.

    Such “prepared but manageable” vigilance and attention have seemingly had little negative impact on her son.

    (When asked if his allergy precautions have made his social interactions more frightening or difficult than those of his friends, Luke answers: “Mmmmm, not really.”)

    Still, Atkinson cautions that a reappearance of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in lunch boxes is still a long way off.

    “It’s really difficult to say … how long it’s going to take,” she says. But the way things are moving, compared to five years ago, “we’re in a very different place than we were.”


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    Florida Gov. Rick Scott, R, has declared a statewide emergency in response to Hurricane Irma, a roiling storm that intensified into “an extremely dangerous Category 5 hurricane” while it churned toward the United States.

    Even as millions across Texas are reeling from the impact of Hurricane Harvey, which battered that region with record-setting rain and was blamed for at least 60 deaths, Irma continues to intensify and prompt increasingly alarming forecasts.

    The National Hurricane Center said Tuesday morning that Irma had become a Category 5 storm, with NOAA Hurricane Hunters reporting maximum wind speeds of 280 km/h — making it among the strongest hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean, according to the Post’s Capital Weather Gang. While the hurricane centre said Irma’s intensity may fluctuate, it is expected to remain a Category 4 or 5 storm over the coming days.

    The Capital Weather Gang said that Irma’s forecast track shifted to the south and west over the weekend, but warned of a probable impact in the United States: “It seems likely now that the storm will impact or strike the U.S. coast early next week, although meteorologists don’t know exactly where. Florida and the Gulf Coast continue to be at risk.”

    The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Irma had sustained winds of 280 km/h and was centred about 440 kilometres east of Antigua. It was moving west at 22 km/h.

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    Irma’s centre was expected to move near or over the northern Leeward Islands late Tuesday and early Wednesday, the hurricane centre said. The eye was then expected to pass about 80 kilometres from Puerto Rico late Wednesday.

    Authorities warned that the storm could dump up to 25 centimetres of rain, cause landslides and flash floods and generate waves of up to 23 feet (7 metres). Government officials began evacuations and urged people to finalize all preparations as shelves emptied out across islands including Puerto Rico.

    “The decisions that we make in the next couple of hours can make the difference between life and death,” Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello said. “This is an extremely dangerous storm.”

    While its exact path won’t be known for days, the hurricane’s growth has sent many Floridians into familiar pre-storm routines of preparing hurricane shutters, stocking up on supplies and nervously monitoring the news.

    “Everyone should continue to monitor, check supplies, and be ready to implement action plan,” the National Weather Service in Miami posted Tuesday morning on Twitter.

    Scott signed an executive order Monday declaring an emergency in each of Florida’s 67 counties, pointing to forecasts at the time warning that Irma could make landfall in the southern or southwestern parts of the state and “travel up the entire spine of Florida.”

    “Hurricane Irma is a major and life-threatening storm and Florida must be prepared,” Scott said in a statement accompanying the order.

    The warnings arrive not long after Florida marked the 25th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew’s devastating landfall there, and as residents of the state, like many others nationwide, have spent recent days glued to news reports documenting Harvey’s mammoth impact in Texas.

    Scott said Irma’s potential impact — which could include millions of people in Florida and beyond — warranted the emergency declaration, which ordered state officials to waive tolls on public highways, ready the Florida National Guard and prepare public facilities such as schools to be used as shelters.

    “In Florida, we always prepare for the worst and hope for the best and while the exact path of Irma is not absolutely known at this time, we cannot afford to not be prepared,” he said. “This state of emergency allows our emergency management officials to act swiftly in the best interest of Floridians without the burden of bureaucracy or red tape.”

    The National Hurricane Center said Tuesday there could be up to 30 centimetres of rain and winds of 60-80 km/h with gusts of up to 96 km/h across parts of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

    “Hurricane conditions are expected to begin within the hurricane warning area in the British and U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Wednesday, with tropical storm conditions beginning tonight,” the Hurricane Center said. “Hurricane and tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area in the Dominican Republic by early Thursday.”

    People in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico braced for blackouts after the director of the island’s power company predicted that storm damage could leave some areas without electricity for four to six months. But “some areas will have power (back) in less than a week,” Ricardo Ramos told radio station Notiuno 6:30 a.m.

    The utility’s infrastructure has deteriorated greatly during a decade-long recession, and Puerto Ricans experienced an islandwide outage last year.

    “This is not an opportunity to go outside and try to have fun with a hurricane,” U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Kenneth Mapp warned. “It’s not time to get on a surfboard.”

    With files from The Associated Press


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    MISSISSAUGA, ONT.—A 25-year-old Brampton, Ont., man is facing charges after he allegedly struck a provincial police officer with his car, dragging him along the road.

    Peel Regional Police say OPP Const. Patrick Chatelain was conducting a traffic stop in Mississauga, Ont., shortly before 9 a.m. Monday, when the driver tried to flee.

    They say the accused has been charged with obstructing a peace officer, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing injury, criminal negligence and failing to remain at the scene.

    Peel police initially said the officer’s injuries were considered life-threatening, but his condition improved and he was recovering at home.

    OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said in a tweet that Chatelain — a four-year veteran of the Port Credit detachment — was expected to make a full recovery.


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    The whiz of cars on Kennedy Rd. cuts through the sound of crickets singing and wind rustling through soy fields at Empringham Farms.

    The busy north-south corridor can be “dangerous” for farmers moving equipment between fields, said Kim Empringham, who farms 800 acres with her husband.

    They’re based on 10 acres in Stouffville, but they farm cash crops — corn, wheat, and soy — in fields from Markham to Newmarket. It can take an hour by tractor to travel between them.

    Some of their equipment is so wide, it crosses the yellow centre line on narrow commuter roads that weren’t built for farmers.

    At times, they have to stop what they’re doing and wait for rush hour to end, because “it’s just not safe,” she said.

    It’s a familiar challenge for farmers in the GTA, but things could change: Ontario is developing an agricultural system in the Greater Golden Horseshoe to enhance the area’s agri-food industry. The sector contributed $37.5 billion to Ontario’s GDP in 2016.

    The agricultural system will protect a continuous base of prime farmlands from development, support the services and communities critical to the farm and food industry and ensure farmers’ needs are considered in future infrastructure planning.

    “It’s about making sure that the sector, as a whole, can survive,” said Empringham, who also serves as the secretary-treasurer for the York Region Federation of Agriculture.

    For Janet Horner, the executive director of the Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Alliance, a simple rhetorical question almost says it all: “Don’t you want to eat?”

    “Protecting our land, so we are able to be somewhat self-sufficient and food secure is important. If we could eat houses, that’s fine, but we can’t,” she said.

    Protecting those prime lands for food productions becomes even more important as the population of the Greater Toronto Area is expected to grow by 42 per cent by 2041 and productive farmland is under threat from urban sprawl.

    Most of Canada’s prime agricultural lands have already been lost, said Keith Currie, the president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture.

    Just look out from the top of the CN Tower. “It’s all the best farmland that’s been developed. Essentially it’s entombed forever under asphalt and cement,” he said.

    While some agricultural lands are protected under current policies, even the Greenbelt Plan, which protected some farmland, including most of the land Empringham farms, left prime agricultural lands outside its bounds.

    The urban development spreading outward from Toronto’s core has left farmland fragmented, at its worst creating farm islands in a suburban sea.

    “When you’re surrounded by subdivisions, you can’t farm,” Empringham said.

    The further your farm is from the other services and businesses that support you, the less competitive you are, she explained.

    An agricultural system that ensures protection for a continuous tract of farmland creates an incentive for other agri-food businesses — vets, mills, equipment sellers and others — to expand or move into dense agricultural areas, boosting the economic outlook for farms.

    For farmers, protected land can also give them confidence to plan long-term, without fear they’ll be squeezed out by development.

    “We know we can stay here, so we can make improvements to the buildings, to the infrastructure that we’ve got here on our home base,” Empringham said.

    Even if they sell, they know they’ll be selling to farmers, making investments in the farm worthwhile.

    That’s not something she sees happening on the farms to the south, which fall outside the greenbelt in an area Empringham said is likely to become subdivisions at some point.

    Developers in the region have a very different outlook. They are concerned the ministry isn’t considering pre-existing infrastructure and development approvals as it moves through the process of establishing an agricultural system.

    “Remember 90 per cent of the housing that’s built is built by the private sector, so . . . if you want to provide that supply, the industry needs to have some certainty, not just in the future, but also some certainty with the approvals they currently have,” said Joe Vaccaro, CEO of the Ontario Home Builders’ Association.

    A spokesperson for the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said the government is committed to managing growth, while protecting Ontario’s farmland and supporting economic viability.

    The development of the agricultural system, which stems from the co-ordinated review of four land use plans and was recommended by the review panel chaired by David Crombie, is still in its early stages.

    The provincial government has developed a draft map of the agricultural system, showing proposed protection boundaries as well as existing infrastructure and services.

    The draft system map and implementation procedures are out for public consultation until Oct. 4. This concerns Empringham, who notes the summer and fall are a busy time for farmers.

    For those that can spare two-and-half hours, there’s an online webinar, provided by the ministry, on Sept. 6, on the mapping and implementation procedures, for members of the agricultural community.

    Once the public consultation is closed, the government will move forward with plans to update the map by the end of this year. Municipalities will have a couple years to refine it as part of their official plan reviews, which are required by July 2022.

    Down the road, Horner, who is also a Mulmur Township councillor, expects there could be challenges between municipalities and the province over which lands should be protected for agriculture and which should be open to development.


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