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TOPSTORIES

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    Equifax Inc. has yet to disclose how many Canadians were affected by a massive cyberattack on about 143 million of the credit reporting agency’s customers.

    Hackers targeted names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and driver’s licence numbers, Equifax said in a statement. “Limited personal information” from residents in Canada and the U.K. was also accessed, it said.

    But David Harrison, a former physics professor at the University of Toronto, received a suspicious letter claiming to be from Equifax and believes his information may have been hit by the breach.

    “I thought it was some sort of a scam, so I’ve been checking my bank account every day online,” Harrison said.

    The letter indicated there was “new activity” in Harrison’s credit file and a suspicious charge of $88. It provided a www.creditalert.ca link to a websitethat his web browser automatically blocked.

    “If some mysterious charges appearing on my bank account, I’m going to start screaming loudly at my credit union,” Harrison said. “I don’t know what more I can do.”

    The letter was dated Aug. 24 but Harrison received it on Tuesday, about a week after he decided to cancel his $20 monthly Equifax subscription, billed on their website as a “comprehensive credit monitoring and identity theft protection product.”

    “This is clearly a disappointing event for our company, and one that strikes at the heart of who we are and what we do,” Equifax CEO Richard Smith said in a statement. “I apologize to consumers and our business customers for the concern and frustration this causes.”

    Credit card numbers for about 209,000 consumers were also accessed in the breach, the company said. Equifax shares dropped more than 8 per cent in after-hours trading.

    According to Bloomberg, three Equifax executives, including the chief financial officer John Gamble, sold shares a few days before the hack was announced.

    Equifax organizes, assimilates and analyzes data on more than 820 million consumers and more than 91 million businesses worldwide, according to a Sept. 5 press release. Its database includes employee data contributed from more than 7,100 employers.

    Equifax discovered the hack July 29, but waited until Thursday to warn consumers. The Atlanta-based company declined to comment on the delay, but it’s not unusual for U.S. authorities to request a delay in public notice for the purposes of their investigation.

    Intruders took advantage of a “U.S. website application vulnerability to gain access to certain files” from mid-May through July of this year, Equifax said.

    “It’s a huge deal,” said Tim Crosby, senior consultant with security-assessment firm Spohn. “You would expect these guys to have compartmentalized this data far enough away from a web server — that there would not be any way to directly access it.”

    Equifax Canada spokesperson Tom Carroll said the company is not providing any further information on the impact of the hack in Canada. Carroll said updates on the breach will be posted on www.equifaxsecurity2017.com .

    The website allows users verify if their information was potentially affected, and how to sign up for the free credit-file monitoring and identify-theft protection offered by Equifax in light of the breach.

    With files from Bloomberg


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    Mayfield “To strive. To seek. To find” Secondary School in Caledon, a pretty town just northwest of Toronto, is testing getting rid of grades throughout the year. Students in four Grade 9 subjects will consult with the teacher at year’s end and negotiate the grades they feel they deserve.

    On the one hand, this is a bit adorable and gives stroppy teenagers a head start on years of arguing, bursting into tears and stomping off. On the other hand, it’s the end of the civilization of which we once dreamed.

    I sit in the middle, with one caveat. I deserve an A+ for this column, as soon as I finish writing it, which I will because of a “deadline,” which is another thing Mayfield students don’t have. The teacher can give them a temporary zero during the school year but must justify retaining the mark, which cannot “distort or misrepresent a student’s actual or overall achievement.”

    This column is great and getting greater by the word is my way of thinking. Readers might not agree. Neither might my editor. But they are wrong.

    Also, I worked like a fire ant on this.

    Recall the now-dismissed education theory that children shouldn’t be praised for their results, but for the hard work they put into being lousy at things. “Good work!” we say to the toddler who can’t quite blow bubbles.

    This column blows bubbles, and I didn’t even work hard. My best columns are the ones I’m on fire for. Flames are engulfing me now.

    As students settle back into class this week — I still honour this by buying myself a classic back-to-school shoe — the adults are unsettled. Ontario has decided to collect education stats based on race (a blow to multiculturalism and those who think it’s nobody’s business), some schools are postponing Grade 9 streaming into academic or applied, students are bad at math (perhaps because teachers are ill-prepared), rural schools are closing, buses are late and so on.

    Ontario should have stuck with Grade 13, I say, one more year to help kids figure out their personalities and paths, but that is a particularly dead horse and I won’t try to haul the thing upright.

    What lies behind all this? Education is more fraught now because everything seems frightful. People are more competitive, fearing imaginary stigma, poor marks, unemployment, the gig economy, falling behind, inadvertent drug addiction, early death, late death.

    But basically, what people fear is poorer life chances. This is reasonable. Fearful people make bad choices, and this writhing over high school rules is one example. If students fear standards, as they always have, that’s no reason to tear them down.

    The new plan, at Mayfield and other schools, will mean students in four subjects will be given constant feedback throughout the year — but were they not already? — and then sit down with teachers and negotiate on the mark.

    This will be a learning experience in itself, apparently. As one university dean of education told the Star, “That dialogue then, is another chance for them to engage in the learning process itself, because they’re learning to advocate for themselves, they’re learning to articulate the learning that has taken place within themselves.” OK, then.

    If students don’t like the marks they’re given, they can appeal. Universities allow this. I hear howls of derisive laughter from university professors and adjuncts under the student gun. It’s trickling down, they say.

    Mayfield has an eccentric history. In 2010 students came to school as minstrels in blackface for Halloween. Mayfield’s vice-principal showed up in blackface in 2013. Both he and the principal were later transferred.

    The new principal, James Kardash, a former CFL player, has new ideas. As the school’s Mayfield Without Marks website link reports, the self-grading scheme will be “supported” by a New York state teacher and blogger named Starr Sackstein. The website includes American teachers’ blogs, articles, U.S. TEDx local talks and videos.

    The U.S. education system lies in wreckage. Why are Canadians adopting their failures?

    The website offers no data on no-grading beyond one photocopied link to a 1988 Israeli study. The writing is anecdotal, with one Canadian podcast about Cabbagetown students’ feelings.

    There is also what Mayfield calls “a fantastic video” from Sal Khan of the Khan Academy, a huge, controversial U.S. company offering MOOCs (massive open online courses) around the world, or at least supplements to them. There are no teachers as such, perfect for a class without marks.

    Is it even permissible in Ontario to add this nonsense to an official school website? Does the union know? No wonder smart Caledon parents are bemused.

    Seen from the most generous point of view, perhaps Mayfield is trying to be an “incubator” of new ideas, as they say, a “hub” of progressive learning, the Oberlin University of Ontario high schools in bucolic Caledon.

    But I suspect it is taking educational shortcuts and hoping for the best. Mayfield parents will not see it this way. Solid supporters of their 1,900 much-loved fretful teenagers, they won’t tolerate them being shortchanged.

    hmallick@thestar.ca


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    SUDBURY—A one-time Liberal candidate rejected by Premier Kathleen Wynne for a 2015 byelection says he’s not certain he was being offered paid jobs to step aside from the Liberal party’s nomination race.

    “I wasn’t sure they were monetary or not,” Andrew Olivier said Friday in the Election Act bribery trial of former Wynne deputy chief of staff Patricia Sorbara and Sudbury Liberal organizer Gerry Lougheed.

    The two are accused of offering jobs or appointments to Olivier to make way for defecting Sudbury New Democrat MP Glenn Thibeault, who Wynne chose as the best bet to win the riding back.

    Olivier, the Liberal candidate for Sudbury in the 2014 provincial election, had hoped to reprise that role after the ‎surprise resignation of New Democrat MPP Joe Cimino five months into his term, setting the stage for the byelection in February 2015.

    Lougheed’s lawyer Michael Lacy put it to Olivier during cross-examination that “he was offered an opportunity to continue to have a role in the party” as opposed to government appointments.

    Read more:

    Bribery charges against ex-Wynne staffer, Liberal organizer unfounded, defence says

    Thibeault will testify in Sudbury byelection bribery trial

    Kathleen Wynne to testify in Sudbury byelection trial

    “I wasn’t 100 per cent‎ sure,” Olivier replied.

    Lacy went back at Olivier, flashing on courtroom television screens a transcript of an interview with Ontario Provincial Police investigators in which he was asked if he felt he had been offered rewards or benefits not to exit the nomination race.

    According to the transcript from the interview about nine days after the alleged offers were made by Sorbara and Lougheed on Dec. 11 and 12 of 2014, Olivier told police “it was an opportunity to be in the party. I had no interest in finding out if these were paid positions.”

    ‎Lacy also revealed an email memo showing a Sudbury Liberal riding association executive, Andre Bisson, was working behind-the-scenes to convince the Toronto party hierarchy to have Olivier acclaimed or appointed the byelection candidate before Thibeault came into the picture.

    “‎I know that he was lobbying for me,” said Olivier.

    “It’s starting to ring a bell for me now that you’re saying it,” he told Lacy.

    Lacy drew a parallel between Bisson’s actions on behalf of Olivier and the later push by Wynne and the central party to have Thibeault acclaimed or appointed as the candidate.

    “They ‎were lobbying for the very same thing the Liberal party wanted for Mr. Thibeault.”

    Lacy and Sorbara’s lawyer Brian Greenspan have argued the charges against their clients have no merit because Thibeault had decided to accept the premier’s imprimatur as the candidate ‎before the conversations with Lougheed and Sorbara took place.

    “Wouldn’t you agree, sir, he was attempting to soften the blow?” Lacy asked Olivier about the offer from Lougheed.

    “I didn’t know that was his intention,” Olivier replied.

    In the conversation Olivier held with Lougheed after Thibeault accepted the candidacy, Lougheed said: “The premier wants to talk. They would like to present you options in terms of appointments, jobs, whatever, that you and her and Pat Sorbara could talk about.”

    A tape of the conversation was replayed in court as the trial began Thursday.

    Olivier, a quadriplegic mortgage broker, records some calls and conversations because he cannot take notes.

    He placed second in the 2014 provincial election as the Liberals lost the riding held for the previous 18 years by veteran Liberal cabinet minister Rick Bartolucci.

    Olivier has repeatedly testified that he hoped the party hierarchy could be convinced to hold a nomination race even after he was told by Sorbara, Lougheed and Wynne that Thibeault would be the candidate, based on the premier’s power to name candidates under the Liberal constitution.

    “I thought there was still going to be a (nomination) process,” Olivier said Friday.

    In the byelection — which was won by Thibeault, now Wynne’s energy minister — Olivier ran ‎as an independent and placed third.


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    At eight years old, Julia Van Damme was like most other kids her age — going to school, playing sports and goofing around with her younger sister and older brother. But a routine eye exam turned up a baffling and unexpected finding — she was virtually blind in one eye.

    An MRI showed Julia had a golf ball-sized tumour in her brain, and the pressure it was exerting on her optic nerve was destroying the sight in her left eye.

    “I didn’t notice I was losing vision at all, because I was young,” said Julia, now 12. “I didn’t know what a brain tumour was. I didn’t know what cancer was then, so it was pretty hard for me to understand.”

    A biopsy of her tumour at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children determined Julia had what’s known as a low-grade glioma, a pediatric brain cancer that affects about 25,000 to 30,000 children worldwide.

    Because of its location in the centre of her brain, above the pituitary gland, the tumour couldn’t be removed surgically, and radiation in the area carried too high a risk of long-term effects. So Julia was started on standard chemotherapy, a gruelling 18-month course of weekly intravenous infusions, which in the end was ineffective in shrinking her tumour.

    But doctors at Sick Kids had another trick up their proverbial sleeves: tests they had developed to analyze the molecular makeup of individual brain tumours showed Julia’s cancer was being driven by a single genetic mutation called a BRAF V600E.

    Research had shown that pediatric gliomas with this genetic signature often respond well to a drug used to treat adults with malignant melanoma, a potentially deadly form of skin cancer.

    For almost two years, Julia has been able to keep her tumour from progressing by taking two pills in the morning and two at night — an oral regimen that was unheard of just a few years ago.

    “In the past, we used to treat kids with brain tumours just based on looking at the tumour, by how the cells looked (under a microscope) and by looking at the imaging,” said Dr. Uri Tabori, a neuro-oncologist at Sick Kids. “We did all tumour types sort of the same.”

    But in the last decade, researchers began to be able to delineate tumours into subtypes based on their genetic profile, allowing them to predict how each subtype was likely to behave given a specific treatment.

    “Then we realized that using these molecular tools, we can actually tailor treatment to some patients that’s different than others,” said Tabori, who treated Julia.

    “We can say for your tumour, it’s going to be very, very low-grade, slow-growing, and we should refrain from any toxic therapy. And for the other ones, we need to be more aggressive.

    “And the last part of that, which is amazing, is that some tumours will actually have pills that target the mutation. So instead of giving chemotherapy, radiation and aggressive surgery, you can just give the pill and the tumour will respond and the patient will get better.”

    Dr. Cynthia Hawkins, a neuropathologist at the hospital, has been at the forefront of developing the molecular tests to help doctors better diagnose and treat specific subtypes of childhood brain cancers, among them glioma and medulloblastoma, a fast-growing malignancy that accounts for about 20 per cent of all childhood brain tumours.

    “One of the issues that we run into with pediatric brain tumours, in particular, is that although some commercial entities have developed tests for adult brain tumours, most of them don’t do it for pediatrics because the numbers just aren’t big enough to make it financially viable,” Hawkins explained.

    “And most of these tests we had to develop from the ground up at Sick Kids,” she said, adding that hospitals across Canada, as well as from the U.S. and countries around the world now send tumour samples to the Toronto hospital for molecular analysis.

    While Julia is doing well — the oral medication Dabrafenib initially shrank her tumour by about 15 per cent and its size has since stabilized — her diagnosis sent the Mississauga, Ont., family on a journey they never expected to take.

    “We were shocked,” said her father, Dan Van Damme, especially since Julia had never indicated she was having trouble seeing, had an A average at school and had continued to play soccer and hockey, even sometimes taking a turn as a goalie.

    Even through her weekly rounds of chemo, Julia maintained an upbeat demeanour, said her mother Maureen. “She’s a trooper, she’s a tough kid and she never complained about ‘Why her, why do I have to do this?’

    “She was always smiling. We’d skip down the hallways to go get chemo,” she recalled. “She just has such a strong spirit and a great attitude.”

    Before Julia went into the hospital to have a biopsy of her tumour, her brother Dylan, now 14, and sister Clara, 9, went up to their rooms and each brought her a stuffed animal to take with her.

    “The bond the three of them made and the five of us made during this journey is ‘We’re in it together,’” said Maureen, a stay-at-home mom. “That was from Day 1 our motto: we’re in this together, you’re not alone.”

    “I think you realize when something like this happens to you what’s most important in life,” added Dan, who’s a salesman for LinkedIn. “We have a different outlook. Our family is this stronger unit, and we really focus on activities that we can do together as a family all the time.”

    As for their daughter, she has her sights set firmly on the future.

    “There’s always something to look forward to,” said Julia, who seems mature beyond her years. “When I’m going through something tough, I think about what’s going to happen in the future. And once I finish this (treatment), it’s done.

    “So it’s better for me to think about what’s going to happen later on after I do that,” she said, stressing that her long-term goal is to become an actress.

    Her advice to other kids going through cancer treatment?

    “What I try to do is stay positive. Be strong and just know that you can get through it . . . just have a positive mindset with what you’re going through, even though it’s really tough.

    “Think about what you can do in the future.”


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    “Well, we found one,” John Burzynski leader of the Raise the Arrow expedition told a news conference Friday morning before unveiling sonar images of a long-lost object that was a part of Canada’s most significant aviation program.

    Burzynski confirmed that the expedition’s engineers have located one of nine models of the Avro Arrow that have been sitting at the bottom of Lake Ontario since they were launched in test flights between 1954 and 1957.

    The Arrow was a fighter jet developed in the 1950s that was lauded as a groundbreaking technological achievement before the program’s controversial cancellation by the Diefenbaker government in 1959.

    The Arrow’s story, Burzynski said, was one of “the realization of dreams,” as well as the “bitter taste of defeat,” when the program was cancelled and the only existing planes destroyed.

    The Raise the Arrow expedition, he said, was not only about finding something that was lost. It was about the people who worked on the plane, and all the Canadians who held memories of the Arrow dear.

    The expedition spent a total of 12 days since the end of July searching the lake.

    The model, which remains on the floor of the lake, is about three metres long and two metres wide. Images show orange paint, a hallmark of the treasured Canadian technology, still intact and peeking through the zebra mussels that almost entirely cover its surface.

    “I think being able to showcase using cutting edge Canadian technology —being our sonar systems and underwater vehicles — to actually find and resurrect cutting edge Canadian technology… I think it’s an amazing example of what we can do as Canadians looking back at our history,” said David Shea, vice-president of engineering for Kraken Sonar.

    Shea remembers being fascinated by the Arrow as a child after reading his older brother’s history books on the aircraft.

    “I remember going through this book and looking at these jet fighters and I didn’t understand why they didn’t exist anymore,” he said. “Every since then, growing up and going into engineering, I’ve been fascinated with the fact that Canada had such a cutting edge technology and we were world leaders at one point in time.”

    The Avro Arrow program, Shea said, is unparalleled in the ability it had to inspire Canadian engineers. He hopes that the country is beginning to gain back some prestige in the field of science and technology — particularly as the advanced sonar technologies he uses proved successful in finding one Arrow model.

    He’s looking forward to going back out onto the water to find the other eight right away.

    An archaeological team led by Scarlett Janusas will now get to work on recovering the model. She said the team hopes to send divers down before the end of the season.

    The object will likely be retrieved next spring, at which point more information about its place in Arrow history is expected to come to light.

    Once all the models are removed from Lake Ontario, they will be housed at the Canada Aviation and Space museum in Ottawa and the National Air Force Museum of Canada in Trenton.


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    The absentee owners of three Cabbagetown row houses no longer face zoning bylaw charges after agreeing to stop renting the properties out for periods of less than 30 days.

    Toronto’s Municipal Licensing and Standards division laid the charges against the owners of 102, 104 and 106 Bleecker Street after neighbours complained of issues relating to parking, garbage and rowdy weekend parties.

    The three defendants were charged with permitting the homes to be rented out as a suite hotel, filling the rooms with paying guests who were using Airbnb and other short-term rental sites.

    The properties are zoned for residential uses, not commercial purposes, under the city’s zoning by-law.

    But since the charges were laid late last year, city staff have monitored the use of the properties and found that “there has been compliance and therefore … the city feels … (it) appropriate to resolve these charges,” prosecutor Geoff Uyeno told court on Friday.

    He presented to the court undertakings, signed by the defendants, who agreed that any rental shall be for a period of longer than 30 days.

    “The undertakings will apply unless the zoning bylaws in the city of Toronto are amended such that a suite hotel or a short-term rental use becomes a lawful permitted land use,” he said.

    “Each of the three defendants acknowledges they may be charged for future violations of the city’s zoning bylaw if there is an illegal short-term rental of properties.”

    The defendants, Roman Neyolov, Svetlana Neyolova and Alexander Tkachenko, were not in the courtroom when their charges were withdrawn. A maximum fine for a zoning violation is $25,000 for an individual and $50,000 for corporations.

    But their lawyer, David Genis, said his clients thought they were entitled to rent out the homes for brief stays after receiving erroneous advice from the city.

    “When the city started looking into it, and prosecuting it, they saw that my clients never had any bad intentions, in fact they had intentions to comply,” Genis said outside court.

    “City staff did not provide erroneous information to the defendants,” a city spokesman wrote in email. “The defendants may have misunderstood what were the lawful property uses of their residential property.”

    Brian Kellow, who lives across the street, said he doesn’t care that the charges were withdrawn, but is just relieved the “integrity of our street was restored.

    “My primary concern, and the concern of my neighbours, was that these houses were wrecking our street,” he said Friday. “What we wanted was neighbours. The idea that new families, or people will be moving in long-term to these houses, is great news. That’s all we ever wanted.”

    He added things were much quieter on Bleecker Street this summer, compared to 2016.

    Fairbnb, the union-led coalition fighting to have the home-rental business regulation, is disappointed the charges didn’t stick because, it says, no message of deterrence gets sent.

    “This is an example of why future short-term rental regulation needs to include real fines for those who violate city by-laws and short-term rental rules,” said Thorben Wieditz, a researcher with Unite Here Local 75.

    “Relying on the court system drags on for years and often doesn’t result in anything that deters people from breaking the rules. Fines are needed for both, hosts and platforms like Airbnb that are found to advertise, rent and profit from unlawful listings.”

    However, Wieditz called the end result fair.

    “The 30 days make it a long-term rental. It would mean that the rental agreements will be governed by Ontario’s Rental Tenancy Act, which is a good thing.”

    Earlier this year, a justice of the peace imposed a $10,000 fine on the owner of a Willowdale home who violated city bylaws by accepting short-term renters. The home had been the site of loud parties, including one where a young man was shot in the head, but survived.

    The city continues to hold public consultations around proposed regulations that would allow short-term rentals in any type of house in Toronto as long as it is a person’s principal residence, whether owned, rented or leased.

    City staff will submit a final set of proposals to council later this year.


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    OTTAWA—Aung San Suu Kyi rebuffed three fellow Nobel laureates who tried in a private meeting four years ago to persuade her to speak up for Burma’s persecuted Muslim minority, The Canadian Press has learned.

    The result of the closed-door meeting in New York City in September 2013 foreshadowed the worldwide outrage she now faces for not defending her country’s Rohingya Muslims.

    All three attendees, including American Peace Prize winner Jody Williams, who worked with the Canadian government to ban landmines, added their voices Friday to the global condemnation of Suu Kyi.

    An estimated 270,000 Rohingya have fled Burma for neighbouring Bangladesh, saying they are running from attacks by government troops and Buddhist mobs.

    Read more:

    ‘Alarming number’ of 270,000 Rohingya have fled Burma violence, UN says

    How Canada can act to ensure justice for Rohingya

    Fires in empty Rohingya village intensifies doubts about Burmese government claims

    Suu Kyi, who is an honorary Canadian citizen, has dismissed the complaints as misinformation and says the Burma government, which she now leads, is fighting a militant insurgency.

    But there have been widespread global calls for her 1991 Nobel Peace Prize to be rescinded and for world leaders to denounce her silence.

    Four years ago, three of her fellow female Peace Prize winners — Williams, Iran’s Shirin Ebadi and Liberia’s Leymah Gbowee — met her privately in what proved to be a futile effort to persuade her to recognize the Rohingya issue.

    “We were disappointed in her reaction behind the scenes,” said Rachel Vincent, the director of the Ottawa-based Nobel Women’s Initiative, who was also at the New York meeting.

    Suu Kyi was in the U.S. on a tour organized by the U.S. State Department. The meeting took place in office space provided by Human Rights Watch, Vincent said.

    “We felt the appropriate thing to do was to voice our concerns, first, privately. But it has become clear that it was necessary to become public in our concerns.”

    On Friday, Williams, Ebadi and Gbowee and four other female Nobel laureates sent Suu Kyi a letter telling her she had betrayed the values of the Nobel Peace Prize with her silence.

    “How many Rohingya have to die; how many Rohingya women will be raped; how many communities will be razed before you raise your voice in defence of those who have no voice?” said the letter.

    “Your silence today casts a dark and disturbing shadow on the prize and its values, which we are privileged to represent.”

    Vincent said Williams and her fellow Nobel laureates stood up for Suu Kyi during her years of house arrest in Burma, defending her in numerous public statements. Williams was one of the few who managed to win permission from Burma’s ruling military junta to visit Suu Kyi during her detention.

    “When she asked people around the world to use their freedom to support freedom for her and many Burma democrats in prison, she entered into an unwritten compact,” said Phil Robertson, the deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division.

    “But now it looks like she’s reneging on the deal ... and it’s a gut punch to the world community that supported her.”

    Suu Kyi visited Ottawa last spring and had a closed-door meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He raised concerns about the treatment of the Rohingya during the meeting, the Prime Minister’s Office said at the time. Trudeau reiterated that concern this week during the Liberal caucus retreat in Kelowna, B.C.

    “Prime Minister Trudeau needs to go further and make clear to Aung San Suu Kyi that unless her government ends the atrocities, Canada will do more than denounce abuses and needs to reassess Canada’s bilateral relationship with Burma,” said Farida Deif, the Canada director of Human Rights Watch.

    So far, government officials say privately there is no consideration being given to rescinding her honorary Canadian citizenship. Suu Kyi is one of six international figures to receive that honour.

    An online petition by Change.org has almost 390,000 signatures calling for Suu Kyi to be stripped of her Peace Prize. A Gatineau, Que. man has also launched a private petition calling on the government to revoke her Canadian citizenship.


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    Liberal MP Pablo Rodriguez spent a busy day in Los Angeles trying to head off a possible next wave of misguided asylum seekers who could be forced to leave the United States in the coming months.

    Canadian officials fear thousands of migrants could come streaming across the Canada-U.S. border when President Donald Trump makes a decision on the fate of a special immigration designation, known as a Temporary Protected Status, afforded to citizens of El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua.

    “We want to relay the message that there’s a whole bunch of misinformation that’s circulating and before folks decide to sell their homes and uproot their families and potentially make a really rash decision based on false information, we want these folks to have all the facts — the true facts about what lies ahead with the Canadian immigration system,” said a government spokesperson, speaking on background about the objectives of the L.A. trip.

    In total, more than 300,000 citizens of 10 countries that are suffering the effects of conflict or disaster are eligible for the TPS protection. More than 250,000 are from El Salvador and Honduras alone.

    On Aug. 30, Honduran newspaper La Prensa also published an article citing a Miami-based Honduran immigration activist as saying he had been contacted by the Canadian government about the possibility of welcoming desperate Hondurans to Canada. Canadian officials scrambled to deny the report the following day.

    Immigration anxiety also peak again this week when Trump decided to scrap a program known as DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, that provided work permits to people who were young children when they entered illegally into the U.S. with their parents. The program will formally expire in six months.

    Rodriguez’s L.A. trip is modelled on a similar visit to Miami in August by Haiti-born Liberal MP Emmanuel Dubourg. There, he met with members of Miami’s Haitian diaspora as well as local elected officials and groups working with new immigrants.

    Dubourg had a tough message — that those choosing to sneak across the border into Canada risk eventual deportation to their home country if their claim is not accepted. But Dubourg was chosen because he could deliver it in English, French and, most importantly, Haitian Creole.

    Similarly, Rodriguez gave Spanish-language interviews to La Opinion and the Univision television network Friday.

    Rodriguez also held a meeting with the consuls general for Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua.

    “They were very anxious to get all those facts so they can start to relay them to the folks that are coming in to see them and asking questions,” the Canadian government official said.

    The three countries, whose TPS designation expires between January and March 2018, have been lobbying the American government for an extension, arguing that the housing shortages, damage to infrastructure and the security challenges that have risen in the years since make it tough to resettle so many people all at once.

    Nicaragua and Honduras have had the designation since shortly after Hurricane Mitch ravaged the countries in 1998. El Salvador was designated as a TPS country after two major earthquakes in 2001 killed 1,000, injured about 8,000 and caused serious damage in 165 of the country’s 262 municipalities.


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    Trying to find any good that can come from the LCBO seizing control of the marijuana market is like trying to get high by smoking a rolled-up Bounty towel.

    It’s strange. Honestly, I can usually find something good in just about anything. The other night, my wife unilaterally imposed a new household budget and whipped up a dinner of “Greek tacos” that were hastily constructed with leftover souvlaki skewers and a mixture of spices few Mexicans would endorse and, though it was touch-and-go for a bit, I was not rushed to the ER.

    So that was good.

    But upon learning Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals plan to open 150 stand-alone marijuana stores — come for the 30 per cent markup of bundled excise taxes, stay for the glossy CCBO magazine with delightful Facewreck Haze garden-party recipes — the only feeling was one of a bad trip.

    And I don’t even use recreational drugs.

    On what future potheads will refer to as Black Friday, Ms. Wynne took a big hit off the nanny-state bong and announced plans for the provincial government to add “drug dealer” to its monopoly portfolio. At this rate, I give it six months before she decrees that all snow tires be purchased exclusively through a Service Ontario kiosk.

    As the Star’s Robert Benzie reported: “The stand-alone cannabis outlets — physically separate from existing provincial-owned liquor stores — and a government-controlled website will be the only place weed can lawfully be sold after Ottawa legalizes it on July 1.”

    Yes, after weed is legalized on July 1 — or given Justin Trudeau’s penchant for broken promises, perhaps that should read if weed is legalized — Wynne will bravely mutate into a cross between Metrolinx and El Chapo and aim to control the local supply of cannabis through Beer Store-style outlets where the “product” is hidden from view, circa 1962, and the surreal experience is decidedly at odds with the presumed preferences of marijuana enthusiasts who’ve been known to do some impulse buying outside of traditional retail hours, and who likely won’t be thrilled when their new dealer is closed for a holiday or is suddenly on strike.

    Then there is the issue of supply and demand. And here it is not clear if Wynne is trying to corner the market on marijuana or rare orchids.

    In a “Backgrounder” released on Black Friday, with the wildly exciting title, “Ontario’s Cannabis Retail and Distribution Model,” the government’s “proposed approach” is to open 80 stores by 2019, before that number climbs to 150 the following year.

    Is that sufficient when the government is also shuttering every private dispensary? If you’ve ever tried to locate an LCBO outside a major urban pocket, you know the answer is “not bloody likely.” The weird part is the government is claiming it and only it can control cannabis at a time when it has ceded to public pressure and allowed beer and wine sales to seep into grocery aisles.

    This makes the claim of higher responsibility — “Ontario is proposing a safe and sensible approach to the retail of recreational cannabis, overseen by the LCBO through a subsidiary corporation,” reads the backgrounder — harder to reconcile with the revenue-grab reality. It’s like saying I trust my ex to take the kids on a skydiving vacation, but he’s strictly prohibited from picking them up after school.

    So the government is now in the process of expending a startling volume of tax dollars to: a) effectively kill competition, b) reduce the choice and convenience for citizens interested in buying a legalized product, c) inhibit entrepreneurship and small-business growth in an emerging sector and, d) do all of this under the dubious guise of control in the hope nobody will notice the blatant overreach.

    Again, I have no dog in this fight. I’m not a user. But if I were, I’m not sure I’d want to venture out to a Big Box mall, wander into an antiseptic store with a Walmart vibe and exchange pleasantries with a grumpy, on-the-clock employee who may not know a Champagne Kush from a Veuve Clicquot. I’m not sure I’d want to return to my car carrying a CCBO-branded paper bag after “browsing” theoretically and being made to feel like I was purchasing an AK-47 at a Toys “R” Us.

    Which is why the only thing Wynne is destined to achieve is breathe new life into the black market. This decision is a lump of coal in the vaporizer of users.

    As any drug dealer can tell you, territory is key. And on Black Friday, Wynne made it clear she believes the province is her street-corner and rival factions hoping to get a piece of this action will be wiped out by her gang of bureaucrats.

    vmenon@thestar.ca


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    When GarCon Building Group went bankrupt more than two years ago, Karim Hajee was one of several homeowners who collectively lost more than a million dollars in deposits on home renovation work.

    Court documents filed last week allege that the money — which hasn’t been returned — went partly toward the company owner’s personal expenses, including gambling debt, and bills for his former Toronto home.

    “Just that realization that ‘Wow, I trusted someone and now a big chunk of my finances are gone’ — that was devastating,” Hajee said in an interview Thursday with the Star.

    Eight families, including Hajee and his wife, launched a lawsuit in June 2015, against Adam Gardin, his wife Naomi and GarCon, collectively seeking $1.5 million in damages, plus $500,000 in punitive damages and their legal costs.

    They accused Gardin, who now lives in Michigan, of fraud, theft, conversion, breach of contract and unjust enrichment. None of their allegations have been proven in court.

    In a statement of defence from August 2015, Gardin denied wrongdoing, saying that increased costs forced GarCon to file for bankruptcy, that the company used advanced funds to pay for the work on the plaintiff’s homes, and that he acted in good faith.

    Last week, the plaintiffs filed new court documentsthrough their lawyer Ryan Wozniak, which included bank records they argue show “Adam and Naomi used the plaintiffs’ deposits to pay myriad personal expenses.”

    “Adam requested large deposits from the plaintiffs at a time when GarCon was hemorrhaging cash and on the brink of financial collapse,” a portion of the motion reads.

    They also allege that those expenses included hefty gambling debts. The bank records show $95,617.04 of credit card expenses incurred at Caesar’s Palace Windsor and Fallsview Casino between December 2013 and December 2014.

    The Star contacted Gardin asking him to respond to detailed allegations contained within the Aug. 31 motion. He declined to respond to the specific allegations, but emailed the following statement:

    “GarCon, the company I started from nothing in 2004, has now been closed for over two years now. Over this time, my family has suffered immensely by the closure of the company, and the subsequent negative media I have gotten, as well as the legal matters I am currently dealing with. Although I am deeply saddened by what has happened to the clients of GarCon, my main focus right now is my family and my health. I hope that we will all be able to put this behind us soon.”

    Wozniak declined to comment on this story.

    Hajee, his wife and four kids, now live in the home he hired GarCon to renovate back in 2015, but it’s taken a long time to get to that point. Even now the interior of his home isn’t completely finished, nor is his driveway.

    “Our home still isn’t completed because we’ve run out of funds,” he said.

    He said he paid GarCon $155,909 in deposits but the work was not completed; his home was only ever gutted, and a big hole was dug in the backyard before GarCon went bankrupt.

    He hopes homeowners see what he went through as a cautionary tale.

    “There’s no clear protection for you, the homeowner, once you pay the contractor any amount,” he said.


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    Metrolinx is proposing changes to its privacy policy after the Star revealed the provincial transit agency had quietly shared Presto fare card users’ travel data with the police.

    Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins said that the agency, which operates the Presto system used by the TTC and 10 other transit agencies in Ontario, has always complied with privacy legislation.

    But she acknowledged that there could be ways to improve its protocol around giving the data of its passengers to law enforcement.

    “We know that privacy and the protection of personal information are highly important to our customers and we share that concern,” said Aikins.

    “We felt it was important to conduct a thorough review and consultation to balance the need to protect the privacy of our customers and our efforts as a good community partner.”

    The proposed changes, which Metrolinx intends to post online next week for public consultation, reflect largely recommendations made by experts who warned that the existing policy could lead to violations of transit users’ privacy.

    According to Aikins, the proposals include: changing the written information provided to Presto users to explicitly state under what circumstances Metrolinx will share private information with law enforcement; requiring police officers to get their supervisors to sign off on requests for cardholders’ information; notifying cardholders when police have asked for their information, and tracking and publishing annual statistics about how many requests the agency received and how it responded.

    Aikins said Metrolinx came up with the proposed reforms after a review that included examining the privacy policies of other transit agencies, telecommunications companies and financial institutions.

    Former three-term Ontario privacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian said that the proposed reforms are “an improvement, but they don’t go far enough.”

    She said her main concern was that the reforms stop short of requiring police to provide a warrant to obtain Presto users’ information.

    While exceptions should be made in emergencies, such as missing persons cases, in all other instances “you need judicial oversight,” said Cavoukian, who is now the distinguished expert-in-residence at Ryerson University’s Privacy by Design Centre of Excellence.

    “You shouldn’t be giving customers’ personal information . . . to law enforcement unless there is a legitimate case. And if there is a legitimate case, you go to a judge and you get a warrant.”

    The agency couldn’t immediately provide updated statistics about how many requests for Presto users’ information it has received from law enforcement.

    However, the Star reported in June that, since the start of the year, the agency had received 26 requests for Presto usage data, which show where and when a passenger taps their fare card as part of a transit trip. The agency has said that it doesn’t share any other information that it collects from Presto users, such as email addresses, phone numbers, or financial details.

    The agency granted 12 of the 26 requests. Six of them were related to criminal investigations, and six were missing persons cases.

    In only two cases did police produce a warrant.

    In the 14 instances where requests weren’t granted, Metrolinx either turned down the application or it was withdrawn by police.

    At the time, the agency said that it did not always notify users police had asked for their data.

    The public will now have a chance to provide feedback about the potential reforms. Metrolinx also plans to consult with privacy experts, academics, law enforcement, and representatives from other transit agencies. The agency is expected to report back on potential changes to its privacy protocol at its December board meeting. After receiving input from the board, it will report to the provincial Information and Privacy Commissioner.

    Roughly 3 million transit riders in Ontario now use Presto, according to Metrolinx. The TTC intends to complete its move to the fare-card system sometime next year, and phase out older forms of payment such as tickets and tokens.


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    Canada is edging closer to the July 2018 target date for the legalization of marijuana in a haze of political smoke.

    With every new development, the gap between the political narrative attending the initiative and its actual implementation is harder to bridge.

    Take the federal government’s talking points. They have greatly evolved since Justin Trudeau was campaigning on university campuses in the last election campaign. Logic has not always benefited from that evolution.

    To hear the prime minister these days, the point of the policy is to make it harder for minors to buy marijuana. Clearly, Canada is making its peace with marijuana the better to fight it.

    According to Trudeau, that will be achieved by imposing stiffer penalties on those who sell weed illegally and/or drive under the influence. There is a commitment to government-funded public education campaigns to drive home the health risks associated with marijuana.

    Fair enough, but those are all measures a health-conscious federal government could have undertaken without jumping through the hoops of legalizing the substance.

    The oft-missing link in the Liberal talking points is how Trudeau’s stated goal ties in with the legal sale of marijuana.

    Proponents of the plan talk of the need to replace a thriving underground market with a regulated one. The calculation, or at least the hope, is that legal competition will accomplish what judicial repression has so far failed to achieve. But to do that one must be willing to use means on par with policy ambitions.

    In the federal/provincial division of labour, setting the legal marijuana business on a competitive footing is left to the discretion of individual provinces. It is a politically uncomfortable task for which none is particularly enthusiastic.

    Cue the government of Ontario.

    On Friday it became the first to come up with a template to sell marijuana.

    As Canada’s largest province, Ontario stands to set the tone for much of the rest of the country. Many of its sister provinces are still seeking advice from experts and/or sounding out constituents.

    Quebec, for instance, has yet to decide something as basic as whether to apply the legal age to buy alcohol to marijuana. Ontario is set to use age 19 for both categories.

    But the Ontario blueprint falls well short of the purported goal of driving out of business those who sell weed illegally.

    If anything over the next few years, it stands to fatten the golden goose that is the marijuana black market rather than kill it.

    The plan is to establish a government monopoly on the selling of marijuana. The LCBO would run the operation in stores distinct from its liquor outlets. Ontario would open 80 pot shops by July 1, 2019 and another 70 over the following year.

    It would take a lot more than 150 outlets and quite a bit longer than two years to flood the market with legal marijuana in a province the size of Ontario.

    For the sake of comparison, Colorado, with a population of less than six million people, initially opened 136 venues for the purpose of legally selling marijuana.

    Ontario, with more than double that population and a larger territory, is planning to offer little more than the same number. It is as if a cheese artisan set out to drive Kraft out of business by setting up a stall at the St. Lawrence market in Toronto.

    At the same time Ontario would clamp down on illegal storefront dispensaries.

    Under the guise of creating a state-run monopoly, the province is running the risk of creating more demand for the services of the very people it purports to drive out of business.

    I have never tried marijuana. Not even in high school when everyone else seemed to be partaking in the weed experience. But that was not for lack of availability.

    I cannot think of a time at any point in my adult life when I could not have easily procured a joint. That is particularly true of the period over which I was raising teenagers.

    Unless they have been living on another planet, the provincial and federal politicians who are debating the upcoming legalization of marijuana must be familiar with the omnipresence and the reach of the underground market. And they must know that half-hearted measures tend to yield costly failures.


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    With Harvey’s floodwaters rapidly flowing into the Houston hotel where she worked, Jill Renick reportedly made a frantic cellphone call to a fellow employee: “I’m in an elevator. The water is rushing in. Please help me!”

    Those words were among the few clues Renick’s family and friends had to go on for a week and a half, when repeated searches of the Omni Houston Hotel failed to turn up any sign of her and desperate calls to shelters and hospitals were similarly fruitless.

    Worst fears were confirmed with the discovery of a body in the ceiling of the hotel basement near elevators Thursday, and police say they believe it to be that of the 48-year-old Renick.

    Read more:

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    ‘This is the face of Houston’: Flood cleanup marked by friendliness, lack of crime

    “We are heartbroken. To know Jill is to have loved her,” her sister, Pam Eslinger, said in a statement issued on behalf of the family. “She could light up a room just by walking in and adored life.”

    Renick’s disappearance had been among the most baffling mysteries in the wake of Harvey, which has killed at least 74 people after hitting the Texas coast Aug. 25 and dropping more than 129 centimetres of rain. At least 22 people in Houston remain missing.

    Renick, who was director of spa services at the four-star hotel, was last heard from Aug. 27, police said, when she made the call to a co-worker saying she was stuck in a service elevator that was rapidly filling with water. Eslinger, who has said she spoke with employees, detailed the call to Dallas television station KTVT.

    Renick had stayed the night with her dog in a fourth-floor room at the hotel but left to help guests evacuate as water poured into the lobby and basement. After her cellphone call, there was no sign of Renick. Her dog was found in the hotel room and her car in the parking lot.

    Attempts by the police dive team and the Houston Fire Department to locate Renick were unsuccessful because of the severe flooding. A hotel employee finally spotted the body early Thursday.

    “She was loved by so many people,” said the family statement, “and we will feel the impact of her absence in our hearts forever.”


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    Alex McKeenTamar HarrisSamantha BeattieStaff Reporters

    Worried Canadians are frantically trying to get in touch with friends and relatives trapped in the wake of Hurricane Irma, after it hit the Leeward Islands in the West Indies.

    A Category 5, the strongest hurricane there is, Irma has cut a swath through the Caribbean for several days, killing at least 22 people, downing power, destroying buildings and causing massive flooding.

    Irma flattened Barbuda, to the north of Antigua, and both the French-Dutch island of St. Martin/St. Maarten and Anguilla, which lie to the east of the Virgin Islands.

    Morvarid Sanandaji, a 24-year-old medical student from Toronto, is trapped in St. Maarten where she studies.

    “Right now, honestly, there is no island of St. Maarten,” Sanandaji told the Star on Friday. “There is no structure on this island right now that you would be able to live in.”

    Read more:

    Canadian couple stranded on Caribbean island pleads for help, evacuation

    Miami is rounding up homeless people against their will ahead of Hurricane Irma

    Donald Trump’s ‘Winter White House’ Mar-a-Lago Club told to evacuate before Irma hits

    She’s keeping shelter along with around 600 students, faculty and their families at the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine, awaiting evacuation.

    When the hurricane went through the island Wednesday, Sanandaji described a scene of “sheer terror.”

    “Not a lot of people were talking . . . . Everybody was waiting for it to pass. I know there were people who were panicking,” she said.

    Injuries range from cuts from shattered glass to sprained ankles to broken legs, and people are still missing, Sanandaji said.

    Sanandaji resorted to using a rental car she and some others found to go out and secure provisions. Its windows were blown in, and the doors had caved, but it had to do.

    “As much stuff as we could fit in the car, we were just trying to get back to the building,” she said.

    “We’re lucky because we can go somewhere else, but the people who have been born here, raised here . . . they have nowhere else to go.”

    Geeta Wadehra can’t stop calling the Global Affairs Canada crisis line out of concern for three friends, who are trapped in a St. Maarten condo, unsure how to get food or water.

    “The one time they tried to leave the apartment they witnessed a robbery,” said Wadehra, who has been able to reach her friends over the phone intermittently.

    Wadehra’s friends noticed a Dutch military presence, but told her they haven’t received guidance about how to get out of the destroyed island.

    In Brewers Bay, Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands, about 150 kilometres to the east of Puerto Rico, 59-year-old Anita Gulliver is safe, but her exact whereabouts are unknown, her daughter Natalie told the Star.

    “The most that I know is that I got a text message with a photograph of a note that someone had written saying that she was safe,” Natalie said. “I have no further information; I’m hoping that she’s safe.”

    The last time Natalie talked to Gulliver, a Toronto expat now living in the Caribbean, her mother was sheltered in a shower.

    “It was a very emotional phone call,” Natalie said. “A lot of goodbyes. We weren’t sure that we were going to ever see each other again.

    “At that point, the wind was already blowing and they were already terrified. And we were still, like, six hours away from the eye of the storm actually hitting them,” Natalie said.

    Michael Moriarty and his wife, Meryl Zacitz, were vacationing in St. Maarten when the storm hit, and have only been able to contact family intermittently.

    “Please contact the Canadian consulate and tell them we’re stuck in Simpson Bay Resort and that we are stranded and they need to rescue us,” Moriarty wrote in a text message to his sister, Monique Balmforth.

    “We are very frightened right now and don’t know what’s going on or what’s happened,” Balmforth said.

    Natasha Nystrom, a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada, said in a statement that the government is updating its travel advisories page, and sending affected Canadians messages over email, text and social media.

    The storm raged past Cuba’s northern coast Friday toward the Bahamas and Florida, threatening the state with destruction not seen in a generation. The crush to leave Florida had millions of people on the move. Highways were jammed, gas was scarce, airports were packed and mandatory evacuations began to roll out as the first official hurricane watches were issued for the region, which could face destruction not seen since Category 5 Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

    “I can guarantee you that I don’t know anybody in Florida that’s ever experienced what’s about to hit South Florida,” William “Brock” Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said at a briefing on Friday.

    “They need to get out and listen and heed the warnings.”

    Toronto resident Gail Rutherford was stranded in Ft. Lauderdale Friday after her flight back to Toronto was cancelled.

    The area where she had been staying was evacuated, so when she spoke to The Star Friday she was staying in her mom’s hospital room, unable to leave, she said, because she wouldn’t be allowed to reenter the closed hospital.

    “For the next four days, I am going to sleep in a chair and eat bananas and apples I cleaned out from the cafeteria,” she said.

    She thought about the scores of people she saw at the airport, just trying to get out safely before Irma hits.

    “There are lineups outside the airport of people standing with their suitcases.”

    Those on islands already devastated by Irma hope for safety and to rebuild their houses.

    But some are grieving over the loss of loved ones.

    On Barbuda, a coral island rising a mere 38 metres above sea level, authorities ordered an evacuation of all 1,400 people to neighbouring Antigua, where Stevet Jeremiah was reunited with one son and made plans to bury another.

    Jeremiah, who sells lobster and crab to tourists, was huddled in her wooden home on Barbuda early Wednesday with her partner and their 2- and 4-year-old boys, as Irma ripped open their metal roof and sent the ocean surging into the house.

    Her younger son, Carl Junior Francis, was swept away.

    Neighbours found his body after sunrise.

    “Two years old. He just turned 2, the 17th, last month. Just turned 2,” she repeated. Her first task, she said, would be to organize his funeral.

    “That’s all I can do. There is nothing else I can do.”

    With files from The Washington Post, The Canadian Press and Orlando Sentinel


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    Doug Ford, ex-city councillor and brother of the late Rob Ford, has confirmed he wants a mayoral rematch with John Tory next year.

    “Robbie, this one is going to be for you,” Ford told a huge crowd at the annual “Ford Fest” party in their mother’s sprawling Etobicoke backyard.

    “I will be running for mayor of Toronto,” he said to deafening cheers from “Ford Nation” fans.

    Tory “is all talk and no action and broken promises,” said Ford, 52, after speeches by councillors nephew Michael Ford, Vince Crisanti and Giorgio Mammoliti, and Progressive Conservative MPP Monte McNaughton.

    Ford accused Tory of letting city spending “skyrocket” and vowed as mayor he would give Toronto the lowest taxes in North America and end the “war on the car.”

    Tory said Friday he welcomes a rematch and holding up his record to Ford’s in the scandal-filled 2010-2014 council term in which Doug was Ward 2 councillor and Rob was mayor.

    “The council was dysfunctional. The relationship with the other levels of government (was) in tatters. The reputation of the city was being challenged every day in media around the world.

    “I think people will have to think long and hard about whether they want to go back to the old way and to the chaos that we saw just three short years ago.”

    The actual campaign for the Oct. 22, 2018 election does not start until May 1, so Ford is a sort of shadow candidate until then. He can talk about his intention to run but cannot fundraise, buy ads, post election signs or otherwise spend money on his mayoral quest.

    Ford had been toying with running for Patrick Brown’s Progressive Conservatives in the June 7, 2018 provincial election.

    Sources have told the Star that Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals were keen to have Ford as an opponent they could accuse of wanting to bring the right-wing politics of U.S. President Donald Trump to Ontario, and that some PCs were keen for him to choose a rematch with Tory instead. Ford denied those allegations.

    Others have said the co-owner of Deco Labels & Tags was dissuaded from running provincially when PC officials told him that, if elected and elevated to cabinet, by law he would have to put his shares in the family company in a blind trust.

    Ford was elected as city councillor, serving as his brother’s sidekick and top adviser, promising to find billions of dollars in waste at city hall. At one point he wanted city staff to put a connecting door between the mayor’s office and his adjoining council office.

    When the Star in March 2013 revealed then-mayor Rob Ford had attended a naval gala incoherent, and had a substance abuse problem that worried those around him, Doug Ford branded the assertions lies meant to keep the “gravy train” running at city hall.

    Ford likewise dismissed as nonsense later allegations that his brother was caught on videotape smoking crack cocaine with gang members who sold drugs and guns. Doug Ford has said he became aware of his brother’s addictions only after Rob Ford confessed them in November 2013.

    As councillor Doug Ford could claim success in helping convince city council to pass austerity budgets, contract out garbage collection between the Humber River and Yonge St. and extract deep concessions from city workers in new contracts.

    However, his behind-the-scenes push for a remake of Toronto’s east waterfront with a ferris wheel and boat-in hotel dealt his brother his first major policy loss. Doug Ford’s “cut the waist” challenge, in which he and his brother publicly competed to lose weight, embarrassed the mayor who failed to shed pounds and was peppered with reporters’ questions about his scandals.

    Rob Ford successfully went to rehab but had to abandon his 2014 mayoral re-election campaign after being diagnosed with a rare aggressive cancer. Doug Ford took his brother’s place late in the campaign and received 330,610 votes to 394,775 votes for Tory. Rob Ford, who was re-elected to the council seat he had held for a decade, died in March 2016.

    With files from Jennifer Pagliaro and Betsy Powell


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    JUCHITAN, MEXICO—Slow-moving funeral processions converged on Juchitan’s cemeteries from all directions on Saturday, so many that they sometimes caused temporary gridlock when they met at intersections.

    A monster earthquake and a Gulf coast hurricane have combined to take at least 66 lives in Mexico, and no place suffered more than the Oaxaca state city of Juchitan, where 36 died as buildings collapsed in the magnitude 8.1 temblor.

    The graveyard swelled with mourners and blaring serenades for the dead — the sounds of snare drums, saxophones and sobbing. Pallbearers carried the caskets around rubble the quake had knocked from the simple concrete crypts. Jittery amid continued aftershocks, friends and relatives of the deceased had hushed conversations in the Zapotec language as they stood under umbrellas for shade from the beating sun.

    Read more: Hurricane Katia makes landfall in Mexico following earthquake that killed at least 61

    Paulo Cesar Escamilla Matus and his family held a memorial service for his mother, Reynalda Matus Martinez, in the living room of her home, where relatives quietly wept beside her body.

    The 64-year-old woman was working the night shift at a neighbourhood pharmacy when the quake struck Thursday night, collapsing the building.

    “All the weight of the second floor fell on top of her,” said her son, who rushed to the building and found her under rubble. He and neighbours tried to dig her out, but weren’t able to recover her body until the next morning when civil defence workers brought a backhoe that could lift what had trapped her.

    Fearful of crime, the pharmacy kept its doors locked, and Escamilla Matus wondered if that had cost his mother the time she needed to escape.

    Scenes of mourning were repeated over and over again in Juchitan, where a third of the city’s homes collapsed or were uninhabitable, President Enrique Pena Nieto said late Friday in an interview with the Televisa news network. Part of the city hall collapsed.

    The remains of brick walls and clay tile roofs cluttered streets as families dragged mattresses onto sidewalks to spend a second anxious night sleeping outdoors. Some were newly homeless, while others feared further aftershocks could topple their cracked adobe dwellings.

    Rescuers searched for survivors with sniffer dogs and used heavy machinery at the main square to pull rubble away from city hall, where a missing police officer was believed to be inside.

    The city’s civil defenceco-ordinator, Jose Antonio Marin Lopez, said similar searches had been going on all over the area.

    Teams found bodies in the rubble, but the highlight was pulling four people, including two children, alive from the completely collapsed Hotel Del Rio, where one woman died.

    “The priority continues to be the people,” Marin said.

    Larissa Garcia Ruiz was grateful to escape with only a broken arm when her house collapsed as she and her family slept.

    “I only woke up when I heard screaming,” said the 24-year-old cradling her wrapped arm.

    Her mother managed to push the daughters and her blind husband through the back doorway before a massive section of thick wall fell, trapping her. As Larissa tried to help rescue her mother, another piece of rubble fell, breaking her arm. Other relatives and friends finally managed to release the trapped woman.

    All around them people yelled for help that night. “Nobody helped us,” her sister Vicenta said. “Everybody got out as best they could.”

    In addition to the deaths in Juchitan, the quake killed nine other people in Oaxaca and 19 in neighbouring states. Two others died in a mudslide in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz after Hurricane Katia hit late Friday.

    Pena Nieto said authorities were working to re-establish supplies of water and food and provide medical attention to those who need it. He vowed the government would help rebuild.

    Power was cut at least briefly to more than 1.8 million people due to the quake, and authorities closed schools in at least 11 states to check them for safety.

    The Interior Department reported that 428 homes were destroyed and 1,700 were damaged just in Chiapas, the state closest to the epicentre.

    Just one day later, Hurricane Katia hit land north of Tecolutla in Veracruz state, pelting the region with intense rains and maximum sustained winds of 120 km/h.

    Veracruz Gov. Miguel Angel Yunes said two people died in a mudslide related to the storm, and he said some rivers had risen to near flood stage, but there were no reports of major damage.

    More than 4,000 people evacuated parts of Veracruz and neighbouring Puebla states ahead of the storm’s arrival.

    The Hurricane Center said Katia could still bring 7.5 to 15 centimetres of additional rain to a region with a history of deadly mudslides and flooding.


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    COX’S BAZAR, BANGLADESH—With Rohingya refugees still flooding across the border from Burma, those packed into camps and makeshift settlements in Bangladesh were becoming desperate Saturday for scant basic resources as hunger and illness soared.

    Fights were erupting over food and water. Women and children were tapping on car windows or tugging at the clothes of passing reporters while rubbing their bellies and begging for food. Health experts warned of the potential for outbreaks of disease.

    The UN said Saturday that an estimated 290,000 Rohingya Muslims have arrived in the border district of Cox’s Bazar in just the last two weeks, joining at least 100,000 who were already there after fleeing earlier riots or persecution in Buddhist-majority Burma. The number was expected to swell further, with thousands crossing the border each day.

    “More and more people are coming,” said UNHCR spokeswoman Vivian Tan. With camps already “more than full,” the new arrivals were setting up spontaneous settlements along roadsides or on any available patches of land.

    Read more:‘Alarming number’ of 270,000 Rohingya have fled Burma violence, UN says

    Fires in empty Rohingya village intensifies doubts about Burmese government claims

    Fellow Nobel Peace Prize winners tried to convince Burma’s Suu Kyi to defend Rohingya

    Within the camps “we are trying our best, but it is very difficult because every day we are seeing new arrivals” with nowhere to go.

    The exodus began Aug. 25 after Rohingya insurgents attacked police posts in Burma’s northern Rakhine state. The military responded with what it called “clearance operations” to root out any fighters it said might be hiding in villages. The Burmese government says nearly 400 people have been killed in fighting it blames on insurgents, though Rohingya say Burmese troops and Buddhist mobs attacked them and destroyed their villages.

    Many of the newly arrived were initially stunned and traumatized after fleeing the violence. They are now growing desperate in searching for food distribution points that appeared only in recent days, passing out packets of biscuits and 25-kilogram bags of rice.

    One aid worker who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to speak to the media said “stocks are running out” with the refugees’ needs far greater than what they had imagined. “It is impossible to keep up,” she said.

    At one food distribution point, women were volunteering to help keep order by tapping people with bamboo sticks to gently urge them back in line. Weary women carried infants in their arms while clutching other children to their sides, afraid they might be separated in the crowds.

    One 40-year-old man, faint with hunger, collapsed while waiting and could not stand again on his own strength when others tried to help him up. They drizzled water between his lips in an attempt to revive him, to no avail.

    At one camp, a mobile clinic set up for the first time Saturday had already seen 600 patients by the afternoon. Patients, mostly children, were coming in with severe diarrhea, fungal skin infections, ear infections and high fever, said Nasima Yasmin, the director of the clinic run by a well-known Bangladesh health group.

    Yasmin said their work was barely sufficient given the camp’s scale and requirements.

    “We need deep tube wells so that there is clean water and people can clean themselves. Also toilets are needed,” she said, adding that the sheer number of newcomers raised fears of a serious outbreak of disease.

    Refugee camps had already been filled to capacity before the influx. Makeshift settlements were quickly appearing and expanding along roadsides, and the city of Cox’s Bazar — built to accommodate only 500,000 — was bursting at its seams.

    There was an urgent need for more temporary shelters, Tan said. “We are seeing the mushrooming of these very flimsy shelters that will not be able to house people for too long,” she said.

    The UN has asked Bangladesh authorities to make more land available so they can build new relief camps.

    It’s not known how many Rohingya remain in Rakhine state. Previously the population had been thought to be roughly 1 million. Journalists in Rakhine state saw active fires in areas Rohingya had abandoned, adding to doubts over government claims that Rohingya themselves were responsible for setting them.

    Dozens of Rohingya have died in boat capsizings as they fled the violence. Those who trek days through the jungle to cross the land border face other dangers, including landmines.

    Landmines were planted years ago along parts of the border. Bangladeshi officials say Burmese soldiers have planted new explosives since the latest wave of violence began, though the Burmese military denies it.

    “It may not be landmines, but I know there have been isolated cases of Burmese soldiers planting explosives three to four days ago,” Lt. Col. S.M. Ariful Islam, commanding officer of the Bangladesh border guard in Teknaf, said Friday. He added that he was aware of at least three Rohingya injured in explosions.


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    MONTREAL—Simon Berube loves Quebec, its culture, French language and people, but he and his parents decided the best thing he could do for his future was to enrol in one of the province’s English-language junior colleges.

    Berube, 18, is a francophone and as such was not allowed to attend English primary or secondary school because of the province’s Bill 101 language law.

    But he and a growing number of his peers are choosing to attend Quebec’s pre-university English junior colleges, which are not subject to the law.

    “Some people want to travel, experience things in other parts of the world and English is the key,” Berube, who comes from Quebec’s Eastern Townships, said in an interview.

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    English junior colleges are in such a delicate position that some of them have an unwritten agreement with the Quebec government to avoid advertising their programs in francophone media or directly recruiting in French high schools unless specifically invited to do so.

    During a convention this weekend, Parti Quebecois delegates will debate and possibly vote on a resolution to cut funding to English colleges, known as CEGEPs, because they are attracting too many non-anglophones.

    If the PQ wins the fall 2018 election, further limiting access to English-language education could be part of its agenda.

    “Anglophone (colleges) shouldn’t be an open bar,” PQ leader Jean-Francois Lisee recently told reporters.

    It’s unclear whether Lisee supports the idea himself or brought it up in order to appease a restless base before Saturday’s confidence vote on his leadership.

    Quebec’s English community is used to having its institutions threatened by political parties trying to get votes, said Geoffrey Chambers, vice-president of an anglophone advocacy group.

    “It’s identity politics,” said Chambers, who is with the Quebec Community Groups Network. “I think it’s pandering to a very bad instinct.”

    Berube said he fully supports Quebec’s language laws, but doesn’t think they should extend to the CEGEP system.

    “French is part of Quebec,” said the second-year Dawson College student. “And if the French language is lost then the French culture in North America is basically lost and that’s something people have to understand.

    “But English is important to learn if you want to have a good job.”

    The CEGEP system was created in the late ‘60s and the schools offer two-year pre-university programs.

    In Quebec, high school ends after Grade 11 and students then enrol in a CEGEP. University programs for Quebecers are therefore three years instead of four as in the rest of the country.

    Government statistics reveal the percentage of CEGEP students from the French system enrolling in English colleges has doubled from five per cent in 1993 to 10 per cent in 2015.

    Those working for English CEGEPs know to lay low as not to attract attention.

    Marianopolis College, for instance, a private anglophone CEGEP in Montreal, refuses to say how many francophone students it has enrolled.

    Dawson, a CEGEP of 8,000 students located in downtown Montreal, wouldn’t give its number either.

    Donna Varrica, a spokeswoman for the college, said there is an “informal” agreement dating back 20 years that her institution won’t advertise its programs in francophone media or actively market to French high schools.

    Chambers said he’s not surprised.

    “There are lots of practices that are just conflict avoidance,” he said. “If you get a message from the minister saying this is not what they want you to do — don’t do it. It’s not like Dawson needs more students.”

    In fact, English schools like Dawson aren’t able to recruit as many students as they can because enrolment is capped, unlike in the French system, Chambers said.

    “Our (colleges) are already subject to a strangulation device. Enrolment should respond to the demand, but it doesn’t. Consequently, the acceptance threshold is creeping up.”

    Jana Abdul-Rahim, 17, is a newly accepted student at Dawson.

    Born in Quebec to Lebanese immigrants, she was also barred from attending English high school.

    “The first couple of years in high school I thought I would stick to French college,” she said. “Afterwards I realized I wanted to go to law school.

    “I plan on going into international law and when you’re working with the United Nations and similar organizations, English is more the language to use.”

    Chambers said if the PQ members don’t vote to cut funding to English CEGEPs over the weekend, they will likely keep trying to restrict access to English-language education.

    “They are creative,” he said about the PQ. “I think what you have to be worried about is the fact they want to do such a thing at all.”


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    Asad Aryubwal wanted a safe Afghanistan. When he was a boy in Kabul, his father’s family owned the biggest movie theatre in town, Aryub Cinema, and he remembers the young men and women dating in the open, blue jeans, religious freedom. After the Saur Revolution in 1978, his father was arrested and never seen again. Then the wars came in endless waves, forcing him to flee his home three times.

    By the time CBC journalist Carol Off came to Kabul, he was a married father of five and he was tired of the violence. He wanted the world to know that teaming up with warlords to fight the Taliban was not a good idea.

    Off was a journalist who could take his words to the world — and so in 2002, he helped her access different locations and agreed to an on-camera interview talking about life under Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum. He did it again when Off returned to film an update in 2006. There were consequences both times, but in 2007 he was ultimately told: leave Afghanistan or die.

    Off has always considered herself an old-fashioned journalist: you tell the story, you keep your distance. This is the story she couldn’t walk away from.

    In their Toronto home this summer, the Aryubwal family talk about their eight-year journey to Canada, which Off has written about in her book All We Leave Behind. Robina Aryubwal, the oldest child, now 29, says it was hard for everybody involved, including the journalist.

    “I didn’t suffer,” Off interjects, quietly, sitting on the floor.

    “She suffered more than our family,” Robina says.

    “No. No. There’s no comparing,” Off says in that forceful voice Canadians are used to hearing on the radio. “I was always secure. I was always safe. I was always OK. I lived a normal life.”


    The man who brought Carol Off and the Aryubwal family together is Abdul Rashid Dostum. The warlord turned Afghan vice-president is an ethnic Uzbek who holds great power in the north of Afghanistan and has been accused of human rights abuses. He is known for switching allegiances to survive — “more often than some people change socks,” as Off writes in her book. In the ’90s, when Afghanistan descended into civil war, he was one of the warlords battling for control.

    It was out of that chaos that the Taliban rose to power, and when it did, Dostum teamed up with some of his former enemies to form the Northern Alliance to fight the Taliban.

    The CIA put them on the payroll after 9/11, even though allegations of human rights abuses and violence were known, says Aisha Ahmad, an international security professor at the University of Toronto and author of Jihad & Co.

    It was “counter-insurgency on the cheap,” she explains — and the warlords “were very happy to take the sacks of cash and crates full of guns and then restart their bid for power that they lost during the civil war.”

    At the time, warlords were considered by U.S. officials to be the “expedient way to check the Taliban,” she says, “even though many analysts were screaming about the fact that you are going to set in motion forces that you can’t control.”

    Dostum’s forceswere accused of murdering hundreds or possibly thousands of Taliban prisoners of war in 2001, as reported in investigations by the New York Times and Newsweek, and Physicians for Human Rights, who discovered a mass grave in 2002. (Dostum, through a spokesperson, has said that any deaths in the prison transfer were unintentional, and the numbers were not as high as those in media reports.)

    Allegations like these were why Off came to Afghanistan in 2002 — to find out just who the U.S. had partnered with in fighting the Taliban.

    Asad Aryubwal and his family had lived in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif for a few years in the 1990s. Dostum’s northern stronghold was a relatively safe option during the civil war. Asad ran a wholesale business, but he says he had to join Dostum’s army to keep his family and property safe. He was named a general, but was a “glorified gofer,” as Off notes in her book. He worked in logistics, supervising construction sites and the like, but he told Off he never had a weapon, and “prayed that would never be ordered to do more.”

    His wife, Mobina, was worried it wasn’t safe to talk on camera, but she was proud of her husband. She was a teacher and they both believed in the power of education, equality and that he was doing the right thing.

    Asad travelled to the north with the CBC team, helping them gain access to Dostum’s fortress and people who might be useful to their story. Thanks to Aryubwal, “we had evidence that significant offences against human rights had occurred under General Dostum’s authority,” Off writes.

    When Off and her team (producer Heather Abbott and cameraman Brian Kelly) first met the Aryubwals, the family was living in Kabul, where life had improved since international forces had arrived. Schools reopened and the girls were star students. Women weren’t forced to wear the burka.

    “We had a good feeling,” Robina says. “We really loved these independent, strong women who came all the way from Canada to Afghanistan.”

    Off returned home, and later won a Gemini for In the Company of Warlords. Back in Afghanistan, the Aryubwals made the eight-hour drive for a summer vacation in Mazar-e-Sharif. It was here, she writes, that one of Dostum’s men found Asad, and told him he shouldn’t have spoken to the CBC.

    He didn’t tell Off about this warning. She had done her job, and he was hopeful that Afghanistan would improve. When she returned in 2006 to film an update, he spoke on camera again.

    Dostum’s people found out, and a commander visited the family’s home in Kabul: “Instead of execution, Asad’s punishment would be banishment,” Off writes.

    “I am actually astonished that this gentleman spoke out and got out alive,” says U of T’s Ahmad. “Dostum has publicly boasted about shocking acts of violence he has perpetrated against his opponents.”


    Back in Toronto, Off hadn’t heard from the Aryubwals. She knew Robina had started law school in Kabul and she imagined their lives were busy, as hers was. She had started a new job as co-host of CBC Radio’s As It Happens in the fall of 2007, when the phone call came from a stranger.

    The man was told to find Off when he arrived in Toronto and tell her Asad needed to speak to her.

    Off imagined it was about Robina. She had been in Paris to study for a month and perhaps she wanted to continue her schooling in Canada. Off emailed her, but didn’t hear back.

    In January 2008, Off was travelling to Pakistan to report on the election after Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. She had been in touch with the family, and knew they were living in Pakistan, but she didn’t know the details. In an Islamabad hotel room, she learned about the warnings in 2002, and the banishment. She asked Asad why he had spoken to her.

    As he spoke in Pashto, the faces around her crumpled into tears. She waited on Robina’s translation.

    “Because if I had not spoken up, if I had not told you the truth of what was happening, I would never be able to look into the eyes of my children again.”

    So many times in her career, she had thought: “Geez, I wish I could help you but you know I can’t really do anything … but I feel your pain.”

    There was always an invisible line separating her from her sources.

    “Once I had looked over my shoulder and seen what the consequences had been of those interviews,” she says, “I knew I could never walk away from that either as a journalist or a human being.”

    She would help them come to Canada. Asad told her she was the family’s only hope. It was unusual for the self-reliant man to say something so dire to someone he hardly knew.

    Off thought: how hard could it be?


    Problems were quick to appear. Asad’s refugee application was rejected because the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees confused him with another man, Off writes. The application was soon back on track but the process was fraught.

    At the UNHCR office, Asad bristled when his name was called out, or when a security guard loudly asked about his situation in front of others. Strangers sometimes approached with schemes, money in exchange for influence with the application.

    Living in Peshawar, on the Afghan-Pakistani border, the family did not feel safe. Off sent money, and Asad and Mobina used it to send their children to school. If they were five minutes late, their father would call their mobiles. Where are you?

    In 2012, their oldest son, Muhammad, went to the market to buy tomatoes. He was stopped by police and asked for ID. He had forgotten his university card at home, and they took him to jail.

    “I spent three nights with people who were addicted to drugs and criminals and killers,” he says, now 26, wearing a Blue Jays hat as he sits on a stool in the kitchen.

    You were so young, says Off, who experienced these crises through phone calls and texts.

    The police threatened to deport Muhammad. Asad wondered if it was a plot to get him to follow his son back into the country.

    In 2014, their youngest child Hossna came home from school crying. The Army Public School in Peshawar had been attacked by Taliban gunmen, and her teacher told her: “It’s all because of you.”

    Robina felt that one of the biggest problems with the refugee process was corruption. Things moved so slowly. In Toronto, Off woke early to phone the other side of the world, to push the case along, asking for information from the UNHCR office or the Canadian High Commission in Pakistan. She saw it as part of her job. She knows other journalists might disagree. She might have, years ago.

    “I saw it definitely as something that was my responsibility … to help get them out of the mess that I put them in.”

    Robina had a hard time sleeping, and when Off’s emails came, sometimes in the middle of the night, she’d wake her parents tell them the latest news, occasionally embellishing to see the “glow” in their faces.

    In the kitchen, Mobina nods, tears in her eyes.

    “It was the only happiness for us,” says Hossai, 27.

    There were days when they felt like giving up. “Maybe one of our family members will be kidnapped, the other will get upset, get depression,” Robina says of the future she imagined. “One by one our family would be finished.”

    She says Off would tell them there would be light at the end of the tunnel.

    “We had no jobs, no money, but Carol sent us money to live,” she continues. “We went to school with that.”

    “It’s because of Carol we have our bachelors,” Hossai says.

    “It’s all because of Carol,” Robina says.

    “You were family,” Off says quietly. “You were my family.”

    Off has not heard them talk about her like this, and in some ways, it is painful, how concerned about her they have always been amid their own troubles. Later, on the phone, she explains that she had to push Asad into including the CBC documentary as the reason he had to flee Afghanistan when he was filling out his asylum application.

    “He didn’t want to get me in this trouble or cause me any grief,” she says. “Their feelings of concern for me, all the time … that’s who they are. There is nothing selfish in them.”

    In 2013, UNHCR recommended the Aryubwals as good candidates for settlement in Canada, and many people wanted to help. Two church groups had signed on to sponsor, but each had to change plans as time dragged on with no news. In 2014, the interview at the Canadian High Commission went well. Off sent the family encouraging emails, but privately worried she was giving false hope. Before Christmas, she thought about draining her bank account, sending it to the family, and walking away.

    In Peshawar, Asad also thought about walking away — returning to Afghanistan, to Dostum — telling him he could do whatever he wanted if his family would be safe.

    In 2015, Off brought immigration lawyer Lorne Waldman in to help. He found out the family’s security checks cleared in 2014. He filed an application in federal court to find out why the file was held up. Not long after, the family was approved as government-assisted refugees. Off sent Robina a text to check out a map.

    “We were laughing and crying together,” Hossai says.

    The process took eight painful years, or nine, depending on when you start your count.


    Asad goes to another room and returns with a framed photo of him and his sons at the Santa Claus parade in Hamilton in 2015, a few days after arriving in Canada. The family was sent to Hamilton because they didn’t have relatives in Toronto. They talk about how hard it was in those first months to shake the old feelings of insecurity. Robina remembers going for a walk, and telling her mother to slow down. No one was after them in Steeltown.

    In October 2016, the family moved to Toronto.

    Asad works as a dishwasher at the Carlu. Mobina started a business, making samosas and mantus (dumplings) which the family sells at the Wychwood market on Saturdays.

    Youngest daughter Hossna is in Grade 11. Mujeeb and Hossai work at O&B restaurant in Bayview village. Muhammad has applied to Ryerson for engineering, which he studied in Pakistan. He makes deliveries for a pharmacy, and enjoys driving around the city. Robina studies at U of T’s Mississauga campus. She hopes to one day go to law school.

    Both Muhammad and Mujeeb have their drivers’ licences, and everyone else in the family is in the process. They all look at Robina.

    “In Afghanistan I was wearing the chador,” Robina begins, as the room erupts in laughter. “In Pakistan I was . . .”

    “So why is Hossai doing so well?” Off asks.

    “Oh my God, she just gets frozen when she is turning the wheel,” her younger brother Mujeeb says. “You have to drive with her some time.”

    “No!” Off says. “I’m not going to.”

    Asad closes his eyes in laughter. He has always wanted security for Afghanistan. To find safety in Canada is bittersweet. He wants his children to go to school and change this country for the better.

    “We are Canadians, with no citizenship, but we will get that,” Mujeeb says. “This is our Afghanistan.”

    On a recent Friday, Mobina and her daughters Robina and Hossna were frying beef, cutting vegetables and making dough for their dumplings and samosas, at a commercial kitchen loaned to the family. Asad came in to help before a dishwashing shift downtown.

    “In Afghanistan, businessperson,” he said, smiling as he scraped onion skin. “Here, kitchen worker.”

    Mobina was a teacher in the years when the Taliban weren’t calling the shots. She taught high school literature.

    “Oh I miss,” she said, dreamily, stirring spices into the ground beef in the pan. Then she starts reciting some verses in Dari.

    “Whatever you want to do, it’s your own personal choice,” Robina translates. “But never bother anyone else.”


    The Aryubwal family closely follows the news in Afghanistan, which often involves Dostum.

    In 2013, he made a public apology to all who had suffered in Afghanistan’s wars, paving his way to run for vice-president on the same ticket as President Ashraf Ghani, who had only a few years earlier called his running mate a “known killer.”

    Romain Malejacq, a political scientist at the Centre for International Conflict Analysis and Management at Radboud University in the Netherlands, is writing a book about warlords.

    In Afghanistan, he says, many of these people with “a proven ability to organize violence,” are involved in politics, like Dostum.

    “If the state collapses or gets weaker and weaker, you will see that these men, I believe, will assert more autonomy in their previous territories, and might become what I call active warlords again,” he says.

    “Warlords exert power in different ways today but they remain warlords.”

    Dostum’s tenure as vice-president has been volatile. He is currently in Turkey, in what has been described as exile, amid allegations that he was behind the abduction and sexual torture of a political rival, former Jowzjan Province Gov. Ahmad Ishchi, last November. He has denied the charges, allegations that Amnesty International has called “stomach churning.”

    Off tried to interview Dostum when making the documentary, but once the family was in peril, she didn’t try, for fear it would endanger them.

    “I think that exposing him and what he did to the light of day kind of inoculates them to some extent,” Off says.

    When she wanted to write the book, the Aryubwals were on board. They wanted people to know what happened to them, and they wanted to highlight problems in their long journey to Canada in the hopes that life might be easier for refugees who don’t have a “Carol Off.”

    Off felt that as a result of telling the family’s story, people might understand “what others are going through out there.”

    The Aryubwals have mourned the death of Off’s father and celebrated the births of her granddaughters. She has celebrated their birthdays and milestones, and chided Asad for his smoking habit. They are friends.

    Before Off is sent out the door with a bag of leftovers, Robina says even though Off isn’t a blood relation, she is “more than a blood connection.”

    “Wait till I start making demands on you, wait and see,” Off says. “I’m the oldest, OK? So you have to take care of me when I’m an old lady.

    “That would be our pleasure,” Hossai says.

    “I will be a really miserable old lady,” Off says. “You will regret this. You’ll say, how do we get rid of this old lady who is so miserable?”

    “Never,” Hossai says.


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    LUXOR, EGYPT—Egypt on Saturday announced the discovery in the southern city of Luxor of a pharaonic tomb belonging to a royal goldsmith who lived more than 3,500 years ago and whose work was dedicated to the ancient Egyptian god Amun.

    The tomb, located on the west bank of the river Nile in a cemetery for noblemen and top officials, is a relatively modest discovery, but one that authorities have announced with a great deal of fanfare in a bid to boost the country’s slowly recovering tourism industry.

    “We want tomorrow’s newspapers to speak about Egypt and make people want to come to Egypt,” Antiquities Minister Khaled el-Anani told reporters, reflecting the country’s desperate need to revitalize tourism.

    El-Anani said the tomb was not in good condition, but contained a partially damaged sandstone statue of the goldsmith, named Amenemhat, and his wife. Between the couple stands a smaller figure of one of their sons.

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    The tomb has two burial shafts, one of which was likely dug to bury the mummies of the goldsmith and his wife. It also contained wooden funerary masks and a collection of statues of the couple, according to a ministry statement. Three mummies were found in the shaft.

    It said a second shaft contained a collection of sarcophagi from the 21st and 22nd dynasties.

    The tomb belonged to the 18th pharaonic dynasty when Amun was the most powerful deity. It was discovered by Egyptian archeologists, something that a senior official at the Antiquities Ministry hailed as evidence of their growing professionalism and expertise.

    “We used to escort foreign archeologists as observers, but that’s now in the past. We are the leaders now,” said Mustafa Waziri, the ministry’s chief archaeologist in Luxor.


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