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TOPSTORIES

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    My nanny never dealt me dope.

    That’s why I’m flummoxed by the flurry of protests against Premier Kathleen Wynne, accused of being Ontario’s nanny-in-chief in the matter of marijuana sales.

    Pushing dope isn’t in the job description for normal nannies. And yet our premier is prepared to serve it up.

    Seems nanny is now a dirty word in our ideological wars, hurled at any hint of government regulation or red tape: Seatbelt laws, motorcycle helmets, gun registries, booze controls, drug restrictions — all evidence of the nanny state repressing and dressing us down, conspiring to inhibit our presumed right to imbibe and inhale in a haze.

    Read more:

    Liberals accused of using marijuana plan as smoke screen

    Ottawa signals it won’t step in as provinces devise marijuana regulations

    LCBO to run 150 marijuana stores

    How to fathom the fog that has fallen over opposition politicians, pundits, hipsters, humorists and potheads taking potshots at our putative nanny premier for being so dopey about dope? Let us deconstruct the inanity of the nanny narrative, and get down in the weeds on weed:

    Wynne’s government is apparently under fire for spelling out how one might visit a government marijuana joint for a joint or two starting next summer. For the first time in Canadian history, one will be able to procure competitively-priced cannabis without risk of arrest, rip-offs, contamination, dilution, distortion or extortion.

    Wynne has promised to open 40 new government owned and operated marijuana stores to meet the July 1, 2018 deadline set by Ottawa for national sales, doubling that number by 2019 and reaching 150 outlets within two years. Online sales will also let you get spaced out via cyberspace starting next summer.

    Yet a clamour has erupted on behalf of corner stores and dispensaries getting their fair share. Even the small business lobby over at the CFIB is squawking about our meddling nanny premier.

    Incidentally, this isn’t so much incipient sexism as it is conventional name-calling: The terminology predates her, first sticking to Dalton McGuinty, a.k.a. Premier Dad, for supposedly presiding over a nanny state.

    Full disclosure: I never had a nanny. Nor did I get far with toking or smoking dope (not that I deny inhaling — I just kept exhaling involuntarily in a fit of uncontrolled coughing).

    I’m not much of a beer drinker or boozer either. But that hasn’t disqualified me from pronouncing, as a political columnist, on our bogus Beer Store framework, or the ups and downs of the LCBO.

    Critics who compare the new marijuana framework to the ossified oligopoly of the Beer Store are comparing apples and oranges — akin to conflating hemp and hops. The Beer Store was revealed as a privately-run anachronism, a consortium of big multinational brewers profiting from a government license to print money — unlike the LCBO, a reasonably efficient, publicly owned entity whose revenues accrue to the treasury.

    Another allegation is that the province will gouge dope smokers while greedily cashing in. Yet why wouldn’t the government seek to maximize revenues in the same way that it profits from alcohol and tobacco sales, especially given the obligation for costly new public education campaigns to counter abuse?

    Yes, the future price of marijuana must remain competitive with the underground market. But most Ontarians don’t pine for a dramatic expansion in dope sales, let alone a free-for-all.

    That any government, of any political stripe, would suddenly turn on the tap for tokers is a stretch. Allowing the private sector to muscle in on the marijuana trade would require a far greater regulatory bureaucracy to licence and inspect small outlets.

    By retaining sole control, at least initially, the government can slowly roll out its retail channel for tokers to roll their own. It can determine precisely where and when to situate those stores, measuring market demand while testing the tolerance of local neighbourhoods.

    Where privatization requires costly and clunky regulation, publicly owned distribution benefits from stronger responsibility, accountability and transparency, with well-trained, unionized employees. The LCBO also has the advantage of being a trusted supplier, which explains why a Nanos Research poll commissioned by the OPSEU union last year showed it was the preferred choice of Ontarians as a retail outlet.

    To those who dream of dope distribution on demand, be careful what you wish for. You can have too much of a good thing.

    Ontarians tend to moderation in all things, not least marijuana. When the haze settles, critics might discover that people no more pine for a dope dispensary on every doorstep than they welcome a pusher on every corner.

    Martin Regg Cohn’s political column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. mcohn@thestar.ca , Twitter: @reggcohn


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    WASHINGTON—Veteran Republicans are bailing on Congress in growing numbers, as GOP control of Washington fails to produce the unity or legislative successes party leaders wish for. With President Donald Trump willing, if not eager, to buck fellow Republicans and even directly attack them, a number of lawmakers no longer wish to be involved.

    The latest was two-term Rep. Dave Trott of Michigan, who said in a statement Monday that he’d decided after careful consideration that the best course for him was to spend more time with his family and return to the private sector.

    In contrast to those diplomatic words was Trott’s most recent tweet, sent in mid-August: “I think America needs more unity and less divisiveness...meaning @realDonaldTrump should focus more on golf & have less press conferences.”

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

    Trott joins a string of moderate Republicans, including Reps. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, Dave Reichert of Washington state and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, who are not seeking re-election.

    Each of these seats will be heavily contested by Democrats eager to take back control of the House, and rumours abound of other GOP retirements still to come. Michigan Republican, Rep. Fred Upton, is mulling a campaign for U.S. Senate, according to party operatives who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private deliberations.

    Also Monday a senior GOP senator, Bob Corker of Tennessee, issued a statement indicating indecision about his future following a CNN report stating that the influential chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee had not yet decided whether to seek re-election next year.

    “It’s not an automatic for me. It just isn’t,” Corker told reporters, although he added that as chairman he has “a lot of impact without passing legislation. I can influence things. This is more about just what I believe to be the right thing to do.”

    Read more: Steve Bannon says Comey firing maybe biggest mistake in modern political history

    Trump administration urges Congress to renew surveillance tool set to expire at end of the year

    All 576 false claims Donald Trump has made as president

    Although Republicans are hopeful Corker ultimately will decide to run — he already has $7.5 million in his campaign account — the senator was in Trump’s Twitter crosshairs in August after criticizing the president’s response to the racially motivated protests in Charlottesville.

    “Tennessee not happy!” the president declared after claiming that Corker was “constantly” asking him whether or not he should run again next year.

    The developments have alarmed GOP operatives concerned that the trickle of retirements could turn into a flood unless congressional Republicans and Trump can come together and produce on their promises, particularly by overhauling the tax code. And, with Trump bypassing Republicans to make deals with Democrats, and encouraging primary challenges against sitting GOP senators, the retirement decisions also reflect concerns among some about whether they will get party support when they need it, especially with former Trump adviser Steve Bannon threatening all-out war on congressional leadership.

    “There are some stability concerns in the party about whose team everyone is on,” said Josh Holmes, a GOP consultant and former chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “Concerns about whether your party is really with you.”

    It all illustrates that, far from producing unity within the Republican Party, the Trump era appears to be exacerbating existing GOP divisions while creating new ones. The familiar divide between pragmatic and ideologically driven Republicans has been heightened, while Trump’s deal-making with top Democrats last week is forcing elected Republicans to choose sides between Trump and GOP leaders McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan.

    “The party never united around Trump as it would another nominee, let alone president, and Trump is not a limited government conservative,” said Alex Conant, a former top aide to Sen. Marco Rubio. “And so he is not a traditional Republican and as a result is going to clash with the traditional Republicans that fill the ranks of Congress.”

    The chaos and uncertainty produced by Trump and his orbit would be more acceptable to congressional Republicans if the party was achieving legislative success. Instead, its long-standing promise to repeal and replace Barack Obama’s health care law collapsed on the Senate floor in July, while other priorities are moving slowly. As a result, a number of Republicans on and off Capitol Hill have come to view tax reform of some kind as a must-pass priority, without which the dam would likely break on retirements and Republicans would be in serious jeopardy of losing control of the House.

    “Republicans need to put points on the board, to deliver and show they are getting something done,” said Tom Reynolds, a former New York congressman who once chaired the National Republican Congressional Committee and is now a lobbyist.

    Yet despite enthusiasm among Republicans, any final tax plan is a long way off, and many analysts are already predicting that Republicans will end up settling for some tax cuts that add to the deficit rather than full-blown reform.

    For their part, Democrats are projecting increased confidence about their prospects in next year’s mid-terms, especially in the House, where they must gain 24 seats to win the majority. Republicans have a 240-194 edge, with one vacancy. Democrats have their highest hopes pinned on the 23 districts where GOP House candidates won last year, as did Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi pointed to Trump’s overall approval rating nationally, which has dipped below 40 per cent.

    “There’s probably nothing more dispositive of who wins next year’s elections than where the president stands a year before,” Pelosi told reporters Friday. “The year is fraught with meaning because that’s when people decide whether to run or not, and that really is a timetable that’s very important to us, and very positive for us right now.”


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    More than 210,000 Ontario students are going to college or university tuition-free this school year — roughly one-third of those who study full-time — under a new provincial financial aid program that covers fees for those from lower-income families.

    And applications for OSAP, the provincial aid system, are up 10 per cent over last year — or more than 50,000 students.

    “This is far greater than we expected,” said Deb Matthews, minister of advanced education and skills development, in a telephone interview following a visit to Ottawa’s Algonquin College. “So we are absolutely thrilled to have 50,000 more applicants this year than last year at this time. We are very, very pleased with the increase.”

    While the government does not yet have a firm dollar figure on the final cost, “that is the commitment we made to students — it’s a great problem to have. Our commitment is that every student who is eligible will get the support they need,” she said. “We will figure out a way to make that happen.”

    When it was announced, the government said axing tax credits for tuition and education would save $145 million this year, enough to cover the expected costs for 2017-18.

    The free tuition grants are part of a number of changes to the student assistance program, which makes mature students eligible for the first time, and also requires repayment only after grads are earning $35,000 a year, up from the current $25,000.

    The government is now providing students with aid money up front, before tuition bills arrive, for families earning less than $50,000. Some 70 per cent of those students were expected to receive more in grants than average university tuition rates.

    About half of students from homes earning $83,000 were also to receive more than they’ll pay in tuition.

    The government is also opening OSAP applications for the 2018-19 school year early — in November — to help students to plan ahead for college and university.

    Critics have the said the Liberals aren’t putting any more money into post-secondary, but rather just moving funds around, and note that Ontario has the highest university tuition rates in the country.


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    Karen and Neno Vukosa left for a holiday to Turks and Caicos on Sept. 2.

    Two days later, they were frantically calling airlines, trying to get out of the island that they then knew was about to be hit by a catastrophic, Category 5 hurricane.

    “We tried and tried and tried to no avail,” Karen said.

    “There was no way to get off that island,” Neno said.

    Now they’re home.

    Two flights from Providenciales, Turks and Caicos, landed Monday evening in Toronto: one Air Canada flight, and one WestJet flight.

    The passengers described harrowing scenes of destruction from Hurricane Irma on that island.

    “I’ve never heard anything like that before,” Karen said of the winds during the peak of the hurricane’s impact on Turks and Caicos Thursday.

    The couple was in a safe room in a resort. They were not injured, but they were frightened.

    “The biggest fear,” Neno said, was not getting out before the oncoming Hurricane Jose struck.

    Read more:

    Canadians stranded across the Caribbean amid ‘pure anarchy’

    Lack of help from Ottawa riles Canadians stuck in Caribbean

    Photos: Hurricane Irma leaves trail of destruction in Caribbean, U.S.

    Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland was at Pearson airport to greet passengers of the Air Canada flight in Terminal 1.

    Freeland said tickets weren’t what got people on that plane. The priority was that they were Canadian or with Canadians.

    It was important to her, she said, to be at the airport to welcome them home.

    She lauded pilot Rex Vijayasingham, who passengers said was instrumental in returning them to Canada.

    The plane was supposed to come back Sunday. Freeland said Boris Johnson, the United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, helped assure her that the plane would come back Monday night, with Canadian passengers.

    That happened, and there were even extra seats on the two flights for 50 Americans to be able to get off the island.

    For those on the flight, getting home to Canada seemed shrouded in uncertainty since last Monday.

    Michael Rhude, another of the passengers, described his frustration with Air Canada, which he said never contacted him while he was out of the country.

    Rhude and the Vukosas received some updates from Global Affairs Canada, but felt more could have been done to help them out of a dire situation.

    “Everyone is coming after the fact,” said Neno, who described Freeland’s trip to the airport as an example.

    He felt that the government should have tried to get all Canadians out Monday and Tuesday, before Irma hit.

    Instead, they described hearing about this “phantom flight” through the grapevine, and were relieved to get on board.

    Now that they’re home, the Vukosa’s concerns are with the local islanders on Turks and Caicos.

    “They have a long road ahead of them,” Karen said. Their homes may have been destroyed but still “they helped us where they could,” she said.

    Freeland said now that the Canadians are on their ways home, it is time to focus on humanitarian efforts for the islands.


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    Durham police Chief Paul Martin announced Monday a new policy to ensure Ontario’s police watchdog is called in to investigate serious injuries caused by an officer in his region — regardless of whether the cop was from his force or off duty.

    The move comes in the wake of criticism over his force’s handling of what he calls the “disturbing” alleged assault on a Black teen by a Toronto cop in Whitby.

    “There may be criticism about what we are doing. That’s OK,” Martin said in a statement, which he read out at the civilian police board meeting in Whitby.

    “We’re not doing it to be popular. We are doing it because it is the right thing to do for our community.”

    Read more:

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

    Police under fire for failing to notify SIU of Black man’s injuries

    Family describes final days of 15-year-old shot by Peel police

    Calling the status quo “inadequate,” Martin said the new policy dictates that if a cop from another service is involved in an interaction in which a civilian was seriously injured, Durham will call in the watchdog — despite that task technically falling to the officer’s employer.

    “Let me be absolutely clear: From here on in, if a conflict between one of our citizens and a police officer takes place in our community, and the incident meets the criteria for calling in the (SIU), then I will do so,” Martin said. Up to 2,000 officers from other Ontario police services are believed to live in the Durham area.

    Martin said in cases where it’s not clear whether the injuries are severe enough to trigger the SIU’s mandate — the watchdog investigates only those injuries it deems serious — he will err on the side of caution and notify the watchdog regardless.

    Durham’s move comes amid controversy over police handling of the beating of 19-year-old Dafonte Miller, who is alleged to have been beaten by off-duty Toronto police officer Michael Theriault and his brother, Christian Theriault, in December. The teen suffered injuries, including such severe damage to an eye it will have to be surgically removed.

    Both Theriaults are charged with aggravated assault and assault with a weapon in connection to Miller’s injuries. They also both face public mischief charges for allegedly misleading investigators on the day of the incident.

    The criminal charges against the Theriault brothers were laid in July, eight months after the alleged assault. The delay was the result of both Toronto and Durham police failing to notify the SIU of Miller’s injuries.

    The police watchdog was notified of Miller’s injuries in April, only after the SIU was informed by Miller’s lawyer, Julian Falconer.

    Martin explained that Durham did not notify the SIU because it was Toronto’s job to do as Theriault’s employer, a decision he says was in line with established procedures but that failed to “ensure the public trust.”

    In fact, on the night of the incident, Durham investigators charged Miller with assault with a weapon, theft under $5,000 and possession of a small amount of marijuana, charges later withdrawn by the Crown.

    Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders has said that Toronto police did not contact the SIU because they did not believe there were grounds to do so because they understood that Michael Theriault had not identified himself as a police officer. (The SIU typically only investigates off-duty police officers if they invoke their status as officers during an interaction that resulted in serious injury, death, or allegations of sexual assault.)

    Falconer, however, alleges Michael Theriault identified himself as a police officer when he asked what Miller and his friends were doing right before the brothers’ alleged beating of Miller.

    In an interview Monday, Falconer said he was pleased by Martin’s change in policy, calling it an acknowledgement of the “serious disservice and injustice suffered by Dafonte at the hands of Durham police.”

    But he noted it did not explain why, on the night of the incident, Durham officers “blindly accepted” the Theriault brothers’ version of events and charged Miller. That includes what Falconer alleges was Durham police’s failure to interview two witnesses about how Miller came to be injured. “Something was seriously rotten in this case,” Falconer said.

    Martin said he could not comment on the specifics of the incident because of the ongoing court case.

    Durham is believed to be the first police service to formally develop a procedure to notify the SIU about cases involving a police officer from another service, Martin told reporters Monday. The chief said he has informed other police chiefs in the province and acknowledged there “may be criticism.”

    Joe Couto, a spokesperson for the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, said Martin briefed its president, Waterloo police chief Bryan Larkin, on the new policy and said it will be discussed at an executive meeting next week.

    Couto noted that new provincial legislation expected this fall — stemming from the review on police oversight by Court of Appeal Justice Michael Tulloch — “will help our services be effective and consistent in dealing with these types of unfortunate incidents.”

    Among Tulloch’s recommendations is that the province clarify the rules around when police services must notify the SIU and officers’ duty to co-operate with the investigation.

    “So the real need here is for the province to clarify so we can better serve,” Couto said.

    Asked if Saunders would consider adopting Durham’s police policy in Toronto, spokesperson Mark Pugash said the chief “will consider anything that enhances transparency and accountability.”

    Toronto police chair Andy Pringle told the Star on Monday that he’d already asked Saunders to adopt a similar procedure, a request made “almost right away” upon learning about the Miller case. Pringle said any time there’s doubt about whether the SIU should be called in, he believes Toronto should “just do it.”

    Pringle said the ball is now in Saunders’s court and “it’s up to him to come back with a policy.”

    “I don’t know when he’s going to come back, maybe at the next board meeting — I haven’t asked him when he’s going to come back on that,” Pringle said Monday.

    Asked about the status of the independent review of Toronto police actions in the case, Pringle told the Star that the Waterloo Regional Police — called in to perform the mandatory internal review conducted after every SIU investigation — has been temporarily stopped.

    Instead, Pringle said the Ministry of the Attorney General recently called Saunders asking him to “put that on hold, because they want to take it over.”

    Pringle said he doesn’t know how this development will affect the time frame on the internal review, the results of which are supposed to be brought to the police board within 30 days of the SIU notifying Toronto of the results of its probe.

    No further information about the ministry investigation was available by deadline Monday night.


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    MONTREAL—Canada’s chess federation has filed a formal complaint over the treatment of a Canadian grandmaster at a signature event just minutes before he was to play one of the biggest matches of his career.

    Anton Kovalyov, 25, said in a Facebook post he pulled out of the World Cup in Republic of Georgia last weekend because an organizer complained to him about his shorts and called him a gypsy.

    The Chess Federation of Canada has protested against Kovalyov’s treatment to FIDE, the World Chess Federation, as well as to the organizers of the $1.6-million event.

    Kovalyov said an organizer berated him about his shorts just minutes before his third-round match.

    The Ukrainian-born Montrealer, currently a university student in Texas, had worn the shorts in previous rounds without incident.

    “The issue were not the shorts, but how I was treated,” he wrote.

    He went on to explain that organizer Zurab Azmaiparashvili was hostile and aggressive and used the “gypsy” slur as an insult. The grandmaster said he was subjected to bullying and racial taunts and decided to leave instead of doing something stupid.

    He forfeited his prize money in the process and, in a later Facebook post, said his family was out $3,000 because of his decision.

    Azmaiparashvili said after the tournament that Kovalyov had been warned earlier in the day about his shorts and given the option to change into long pants. Azmaiparashvili said he only got involved when Kovalyov refused ahead of the tournament’s third round of games.

    “I don’t care how he played previous World Cups,” Azmaiparashvili told ChessBase.com, confirming he did threaten to lodge a formal complaint to FIDE about Kovalyov if the player still refused to comply.

    “He don’t like this, and he left, but really I was thinking that he finally understood me and he went to his room to change the pants,” Azmaiparashvili said, adding the two argued about other issues during their altercation as well, including what side of the board Kovalyov was assigned.

    The Chess Federation of Canada representative said it is seeking a diplomatic solution, given the Olympiad, a team chess championship, will be put on next year by the same organizers.

    “Our player has definitely been wronged and our federation is very angry about it,” said Hal Bond, a member of the group’s executive. “I’m hoping that an apology will be forthcoming from the organizers.”

    Kovalyov had a solid shot of making the next round, said the chess federation president, Vlad Drkulec, adding Kovalyov is arguably Canada’s best player right now.

    “He’s probably Canada’s best chance for a super grandmaster,” Drkulec said, noting that Kovalyov knocked off a previous world champion from India in an earlier round.

    Kovalyov didn’t return a message seeking comment, but did address the shorts issue in his post. He said he didn’t bring any pants with him to the tournament because they no longer fit. If told or asked sooner, he would have bought some.

    “But instead I was treated like garbage,” he wrote. “I was too stressed out by the way I was treated and the threats of being punished by FIDE no matter what I do, so I choose to leave before I do anything stupid.”

    While there is a dress code in chess, Bond said those rules aren’t spelled out.

    “They want the players to appear camera-friendly and photogenic and not dress in a manner that brings the game into disrepute, or dress in a manner that does elevate its status to where we’d like it to be seen,” Bond said. “But the code isn’t well written and some of the codes are vague.”

    The outcome is a shame, Drkulec said, because Kovalyov’s run could have been a good-news story for chess, particularly in North America.

    “It’s a very frustrating situation and instead of talking about a Disney-like situation where someone’s beating the top players, we’re talking about shorts,” Drkulec said.

    With files from Washington Post


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    Durham police said they’re treating the discovery of a woman’s torso – found floating near Oshawa Harbour last night – as suspicious.

    Const. George Tudos said the torso was found in Lake Ontario by a fisherman at around 8:30 p.m. Monday evening.

    Police said in a release on Tuesday that officers found “signs of trauma” on the torso at the scene.

    Tudos added that the homicide unit has been called in to investigate.

    The Coroner’s office has been called in.

    According to police, the torso will undergo a post-mortem examination in Toronto on Tuesday.


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    A man who said he was frustrated at frequent movie shootings at a neighbouring house in Riverdale was arrested Monday afternoon after loud music blaring from his radio disrupted the latest production there.

    Two speakers and an amplifier was set up in his backyard where a radio was blasting in the direction of 450 Pape Ave. during the production of the HBO movie Fahrenheit 451, starring Michael B. Jordan and Scarborough-born YouTube star Lilly Singh.

    Nick Shcherban was charged with mischief — interfere with property, public mischief, criminal harassment and causing a disturbance. He will have a bail hearing Tuesday morning.

    Shcherban said in an interview earlier on Monday that 450 Pape is exclusively and constantly used for filming movies, commercials, and having photo shoots, causing disruptions like excessive noise and blocking access to a TTC bus stop.

    Shcherban said he has twice been offered to be put up in a hotel during production as compensation but rejected it both times. He said the offers were short notice, and on one occasion he needed his daughter to stay at home after surgery.

    Originally built by William Harris in the 1880s, the majestic-looking home at 450 Pape Ave. was bought by the Salvation Army in 1930 and used as a home for single mothers for 75 years. In 2010, the building received heritage designation.

    The property is owned by Riverdale Mansion Ltd. and Eracon Holdings (Pape) Ltd. It was purchased by Eracon Holdings (Pape) Ltd. in May 2015 for $2,300,000.

    Alex Marrero, a partner in Eracon Holdings, forwarded to the Star emails showing that Shcherban has asked for thousands of dollars in compensation for filming next door.

    “I feel very bad that this happened to him,” said Marrero, who said his company uses the profits from renting out 450 Pape to film companies to pay taxes on the place which is currently unoccupied.

    “He says we’ve filmed 25 movies (this past year). I wish, the city would never give the permits.”

    In the past year, Marrero said three films and one commercial were shot on the property.

    Shcherban contacted the Star to complain about the latest production after he also protested the filming of It, a horror film based on a Stephen King novel that was on location for 42 days at that house last year.

    Both the Star and Toronto police received complaints during the audible protest from his backyard.

    When Shcherban concluded his interview with the Star, a police officer approached him to discuss a noise complaint against him. Shcherban told the officer that they would need a warrant to do anything about it, and within 30 minutes, three detectives appeared at his door, warrant in hand.

    It took more than 15 minutes for Shcherban to respond to the detectives after receiving multiple warnings that his door would be broken down if necessary.

    He was escorted out of his home and into a police car, as the film crew watched the dramatic scene.

    “Serves him right,” said a film crew member who witnessed the arrest. “We’ve put billions into the Toronto film industry in the last decade.”

    In March, Eracon Holdings’ proposal to convert the heritage building into a 28-unit apartment building was approved.

    “Last year, it was horrendous,” said Vida Jan, a Riverdale resident referring to the filming of It.

    Jan said that large air conditioning units caused significant noise pollution.

    “It’s kind of a blight on the neighbourhood,” Jan said, adding that “squirrels and raccoons use it as a refuge.”

    While Jan supports Shcherban’s cause, she said the Fahrenheit 451 crew has been “extremely quiet” so far.

    “I had to leave today,” Jan said of the audio protest. “I’m looking after my granddaughter, and it wasn’t the film crew that was making the noise. I had to leave, I said ‘I can’t put her down for a nap here.’ ”

    Shcherban said his complaints have been ignored by Mayor John Tory and Ward 30 councillor Paula Fletcher.

    Tory’s office released a statement late Monday night.

    “The mayor has worked hard to make sure the growth of Toronto’s film and television industry happens in a way that is respectful of our neighbourhoods and residents. City staff confirm that in this particular case the film company did engage the local community to get support/approval for the late night filming. Staff inform us that all production activity and parking is confined to private property and all filming was interior filming.”


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    Emergency department wait times hit record levels this summer, according to the umbrella organization representing Ontario hospitals, prompting it to warn that the health-care system is headed for a “crisis” this winter unless the province takes quick action.

    With weeks to go before flu season strikes, conditions strongly point to a capacity crunch this winter without further action, the Ontario Hospital Association said in a statement issued Monday.

    “Many hospitals have operated through the summer under very unusual and worrying surge conditions,” OHA president Anthony Dale said. “The evidence strongly suggests that . . . further investments are urgently needed this fiscal year in order to ensure timely access to services for patients.”

    This past July, 10 per cent of patients waited longer than the provincial average of 30.4 hours to be placed in an inpatient bed from the emergency department, according to the association. This is the longest that patients have ever had to wait in the month of July since the province began measuring these waits nine years ago, the OHA said.

    Hospital activity normally slows down in the summer, but over the last few months, many of the province’s largest hospitals were more than 100 per cent full, the organization said.

    The OHA’s statement called for “rapid and aggressive new investment in hospital services, and services across the (health system), to avoid a possible capacity crisis within Ontario’s health-care system this winter.”

    The organization is hoping that the provincial government will include extra funding for hospitals in the fall economic statement, as it did last year.

    Health Minister Eric Hoskins said that while he is aware there is always more work to be done, health care is a top priority for his government. That’s why the province hiked operating funding for hospitals by 3.1 per cent this year, for an increase of $518 million, he said.

    Hoskins also pointed out that his government is spending more than $20 billion on hospital infrastructure over the next decade.

    The OHA is worried about a repeat of last winter, which saw many hospitals create “unconventional spaces” for patients because they were so full. Hospitals were forced to convert lounges, classrooms, offices and even storage rooms into patient rooms.

    “The root of today’s capacity challenge is that far too many frail elderly patients can’t get access to the care they really need outside of the hospital setting,” Dale said, adding that the province has a good plan to reform the system but needs to pick up the pace.

    Frail seniors often find themselves stuck in hospital beds even though they no longer need acute care. There is not enough space for them in long-term care homes or they are not frail enough to require such care. At the same time, they are too frail to return home, even with home-care supports.

    There is a big push on in Ontario for the creation of affordable, subsidized congregate living arrangements for seniors where they could get regular help from personal support workers and health-care professionals.

    New Democratic Leader Andrea Horwath said the mandate of the upcoming public inquiry into the murder of long-term care home residents should be expanded to address such issues.

    The inquiry will look into the circumstances surrounding eight murders to which nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer pleaded guilty in June.

    Horwath called on the government to reverse decade of cuts to the health system.

    “The last Conservative government fired 6,000 nurses, eliminated 7,000 beds and shuttered dozens of hospitals. When the Liberals came to power, instead of reversing those cuts, they froze health care spending, slashed more front-line jobs, and continued to worsen the health-care crisis across the province,” she said.


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    There’s nothing quite like Nicolas Cage operating at full enthusiasm, and when it comes to his pitch-black new horror-satire Mom and Dad— about adults suddenly becoming overwhelmed with murderous rage towards their offspring — he’s beaming with appropriately manic parental pride.

    Breezing into a Toronto cafe this week in a cowboy hat the morning after a triumphant Midnight Madness premiere— during which a vocal crowd of his worshippers whooped every time he popped onscreen — Cage was in an infectiously ebullient mood. Today was going to be a great day, he predicted, “because I get to talk about a movie I actually love.”

    Indeed, 12 hours after his film’s midnight debut, Cage was still moonstruck.

    In fact, the moment he sat down he turned to co-star Selma Blair and began bombarding her with kudos — “I can’t take my eyes off of her. True story. Bacall but beyond. Iconic. I’m scared of her right now. I’m being honest.”

    When writer-director Brian Taylor joins the table, he isn’t spared such praise either. He could only shake his head gratefully as Cage said he deserved a place alongside filmmaking greats Martin Scorsese, the Coen brothers and Francis Ford Coppola.

    “He’s in the hierarchy,” Cage raved. “Can I be so bold? I’m his (Toshiro) Mifune, he’s my (Akira) Kurosawa. I would do anything for that motherf---er. He’s a genius. He knows where to put the camera.”

    Improbably, Cage’s enthusiasm was equalled the night before by a raucous Toronto International Film Festival crowd that couldn’t have been more ideally suited for Taylor’s gleefully unhinged roller-coaster of an ash-black comedy, in which Cage and Blair’s loveless suburban stasis is suddenly interrupted by a worldwide hysteria that inexplicably renders parents singularly obsessed with murdering their children.

    Before long, they’re descending upon their teen daughter and adolescent son (Anne Winters and Zackary Arthur) wielding electric handsaws and meat tenderizers.

    Before the film’s Toronto International Film Festival debut, Cage had only seen a rough cut about a year ago.

    “I liked it, but I thought it needed work. Then I saw it last night and I was like: ‘F--- yeah.’ It was badass. S--- was off the hook,” raved Cage, who first worked with Taylor on what he calls the “misunderstood” Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. “I told (Taylor): You did it. You broke ground. We had Blair Witch, that broke ground, you just broke ground. There’s never been a movie like this.

    “Top three movies I’ve made in the last 10 years,” he continued, unprompted. “1. Mom and Dad. 2. Drive Angry. 3. Joe. OK? He comes first.”

    Taylor introduced the film by telling the crowd that “this movie has mental problems, and if you’re seeing it, then you also have mental problems.” And the director, who presided over the stylish Crank films with longtime partner Mark Neveldine, concedes he couldn’t really trust himself to know where the line should be in a film about adults brutalizing kids.

    “There were some times watching the movie back where we were like: we should’ve killed more kids there,” he said with a laugh.

    “Is it so weird that I don’t think it’s mental?” wondered Blair, who had only the most fleeting concerns about the film. “Not much shocks me. I’m totally past it but you do go: ‘Ooh, I’m a mom in this.’ I’m always thought of as a little odd anyhow, and I try to put on a conservative front in my life because I’m so spooky to people.”

    “You might get a few dirty looks from the other moms at school,” Taylor said.

    “Or looks of acknowledgment,” she replied wryly.

    Cage, of course, had no concerns at all about throwing himself into the gonzo flick with wild-hearted commitment. He recalls Taylor telling him at some point that the film might piss people off. Cage’s response? “It had better.”

    “When I read it — I’ve always been a punk rocker, Vampire’s Kiss, punk rock, I’ve always been a fan of the Sex Pistols,” said Cage, whose left hand was decorated with thick, colourful rings. “I’m always looking to break that envelope, tear the space-time envelope — how can I rock you? How can I shock you? That’s who I am. And I read this script, I said: Brian, we’re making this movie.”

    Where Blair grounds the movie with a nuanced but still demented-when-necessary portrayal, Cage — not renowned for his restraint — lets completely loose in a performance that seems winkingly designed to be the stuff dream memes are made of.

    “To get really geeky, Cage is — you know Cyclops in the X-Men, he’s got that visor he puts on and when he takes it off, he’ll take out 10 buildings? That’s trying to direct Nick,” Taylor said. “You always know that power’s there.”

    Well, it’s not easy to steer a conversation with an energized Cage either, but it’s exhilarating to be along for the ride. He drops juicy nuggets of detail then briskly moves on without further explanation. Asked whether he and Blair had crossed paths over the years, he turns to her in a conciliatory manner.

    “Selma and I . . . what do you want to say?” he asks her as she laughs. “She lived in my house. Is that OK?”

    “Many moons ago, yes,” she agrees, noting that they’d nevertheless gotten to know each other only recently. “We’ll leave it at that.”

    Later, he finishes another rave review of Blair’s performance with a gloriously unexpected non-sequitur.

    “She’s bringing the Golden Age back,” he said. “I’m serious. And I am wearing Charles Bronson’s hat.”

    Really?

    “Dude. Oh my God.”

    He pops his hat off and offers it across the table, pointing to the inscription: “Inspired by Charles Bronson’s hat in Once Upon a Time in the West, custom-made for Nicolas Cage.”

    “So this is the first time Charlie and I have been together. We should have made a movie together,” he mused. “Anyway, I’m getting a little verklempt. What else can we talk about?”


    0 0


    On Sunday night, during the NDP’s eighth and final debate in the campaign to replace Tom Mulcair, leadership hopeful Jagmeet Singh introduced to many Canadians the concept of chardi kala.

    Chardi kala is an important principle in Sikhism, which Singh learned from his mother. “It’s the idea of maintaining optimism in the face of adversity,” he said.

    That certainly came in handy the previous night when a heckler confronted him at a campaign rally accusing him of supporting Sharia law and the Muslim Brotherhood.

    The woman, Jennifer Bush, a supporter of the anti-Islamic group Rise Canada (no surprise), claimed later at an annual Ford fest (no surprise) that – surprise! — she knew Singh was not Muslim but was questioning his policies. She also claimed: “I’m not racist.”

    Excuse me while I barf.

    Now that’s pretty far from chardi kala. Then again, I am not on a stage trying to set an example for my supporters.

    Singh was.

    His “love and courage” reaction has since gone viral. He has been heaped with praise for taking the moral high ground, for inspiring people, and for showing his true mettle.

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    The reality is what choice did Singh have?

    Imagine if he’d asked for her to be taken off stage.

    Imagine if he’d challenged her (surely leading to a shouting match).

    Imagine if he had used humour to defuse the situation.

    Imagine if he did what a Canadian journalist suggested, and said, “I’m not Muslim.”

    He would have been castigated for being high-handed, aggressive, not taking racism seriously or tacitly agreeing that the attack was warranted on Muslims.

    Singh stated he didn’t clarify that he was not Muslim because he rejected the premise of the argument. “I didn’t answer the question because my response to Islamophobia has never been ‘I’m not Muslim.’ It has always been and will be that ‘hate is wrong,’ ” he said in a statement released on social media on Saturday.

    We’ve seen this before.

    Back in 2008, when Barack Obama was a presidential hopeful, the Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell lamented to NBC his party members’ suggestions that Obama was Muslim, as if it was a smear, because of his middle name, Hussein.

    “Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian,” Powell said. “But the really right answer is: ‘What if he is?’ ”

    Turning the other cheek is supposed to be the Christian, or in this case, Sikh, thing to do. Yet, it’s an expectation unfailingly placed on racialized and Indigenous people who face the dual burden of facing the attack and then having their reaction unduly scrutinized with any perceived slight used to indict their communities.

    Were a Justin Trudeau or Stephen Harper in Singh’s place, their reactions, too, would be dissected, but they would not be seen as reflective of all white people.

    The heckling incident was not Singh’s first brush with overt racism.

    “You know, growing up as a brown-skinned, turbanned man, I’ve faced things like this before,” he said. Yet, his reaction has to pass standards set by those who’ve never experienced racism.

    For eight years, Obama balanced a tight rope of not appearing weak but also not showing anger lest he be branded with the ‘angry Black man’ stereotype. Donald Trump, meanwhile, can go off the rails and not worry about representing all white people.

    Anger expressed by white people is passion. The same emotion from a Black man or a turbaned man is a threat.

    The position that calm forgiveness occupies on the moral high ground is indisputable. Some people may find it helps them heal and move forward.

    But it’s important to acknowledge that it does nothing to end racism; on the contrary, it is the reaction that placates white comfort by leaving undisrupted the self-image of niceness and innocence.

    All that the automatic expectation of forgiveness does is draw a tight boundary around expressions of pain and stifle the voices of those struggling to be heard.

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


    0 0


    Calling the rise in temporary work “alarming,” Ontario’s labour minister is promising changes to legislation that will encourage companies “to return to the day when they hired people full time.”

    “We looked at a number of avenues … to change” the reliance on temporary workers, Kevin Flynn said at Queen’s Park on Monday, following revelations in a Star investigation showing how temporary agencies have proliferated across the province, giving workers no job security and little training. Statistics show temp workers are also more likely to be injured in the workplace.

    “People in Ontario expect to have full-time work if they want it … what we are saying is that if you are doing the same job in the province of Ontario, there is no justification for any differential you should be paid by the company.”

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    The Ontario government’s Bill 148, which has passed first reading and gone out for consultation this summer, addresses some concerns around temporary work, including pay, scheduling and unionization.

    One area left unaddressed by the proposed legislation is the fact that if a temp worker is injured on the job, their agency, not the workplace where they were actually injured, is liable to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. This, critics argue, is one of the biggest incentives for companies to use temporary help agencies in the first place.

    Flynn said his ministry is looking into the issue.

    One option that was considered — but dismissed — was to limit the number of such employees in any one workplace because it “seemed like it would be a bureaucratic nightmare. We figure we’d get right to where the issue is — that we take away the incentive to use temporary help agencies, to stop the flourishing of this business. We believe that is far more effective.”

    If workers hired by a company or brought in temporarily are making the same hourly rate, “there is no incentive … to go through an agency.”

    “Right now, you’ll have somebody that is making $20 an hour standing next to somebody who is making $12 an hour, doing essentially the same work. We just say that’s not on in the province of Ontario, and the way we plan to address that is by the equal pay provisions.”

    Research commissioned by the Ontario government found that temp workers are vulnerable and among the most “precariously employed of all workers.”

    The Star’s Sara Mojtehedzadeh went undercover at Fiera Foods, an industrial bakery in North York that has racked up numerous health and safety infractions and where a worker died last year.

    She and investigative reporter Brendan Kennedy found that temporary agencies have increased by 20 per cent in Ontario in just the past 10 years — with 1,700 now in Greater Toronto. Companies use them to lower costs and reduce their responsibilities for employees. Firms also avoid full liability — and cut their insurance premiums — at the workers’ compensation board for accidents that occur on the job because the responsibility is transferred to the temp agency.

    It is unclear how equal pay provisions would change things at Fiera Foods, where Mojtehedzadeh found almost every worker she met on an assembly line was temporary and had been brought in through an agency.

    Temporary agencies themselves are not the problem, Flynn said, as “they’ve existed for years and some of them do an incredible job and some people make an awful lot of money working for temp agencies. What we are concerned about is the proliferation of temporary help agencies taking the place of what is essentially full-time employment.”

    He said the Star’s investigation “was a clear indication that there’s a problem out there that needs to be solved.”

    “We’ve known that for some time in the Ministry of Labour, these are the problems we go out an investigate on a daily basis, so I think (the stories) injected a bit of reality in the situation in a way we couldn’t do at the Ministry of Labour. Reading it on the front page of a large newspaper I think really did help.”

    The province’s ultimate goal is to “take any financial incentive to use a temporary help agency unless it’s a legitimate need,” he said.

    “We’re going to make it equal for somebody to hire somebody either through an agency or as a full-time employee.”

    NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the Liberal government has twice tried to improve the lives of temporary workers over the past 14 years “and they’ve failed miserably. So then we see the horror stories that we’ve heard about, the loss of life … this has been the regime in Ontario for 14 years now. It’s not acceptable and the New Democrats made commitments before the Liberals even brought Bill 148 forward around making sure that every worker in the province is paid the same.

    “So if temp agencies still exist, they’re going to have to exist in a different way than to utilize low wages as a way to incent employers to use their services.”

    Ontario PC finance critic Vic Fedeli said, “Everybody in Ontario wants to know that there are full-time opportunities available and that you can work in a safe environment,” he said. “I think everybody strives towards that.”


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    Increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour could cost 50,000 jobs, warns Ontario’s independent fiscal watchdog.

    The Financial Accountability Office on Tuesday released a six-page assessment of the Liberal government’s forthcoming hike to the $11.40-an-hour wage, which will jump to $14 in January and $15 in 2019.

    “On net, the FAO estimates that Ontario’s proposed minimum wage increase will result in a loss of approximately 50,000 jobs (0.7 per cent of total employment), with job losses concentrated among teens and young adults,” the office said.

    “The higher minimum wage will increase payroll costs for Ontario businesses, leading to some job losses for lower income workers,” it continued, echoing the concerns of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and other business groups.

    “At the same time, higher labour income and household spending will boost economic activity leading to some offsetting job gains.”

    The FAO estimates the number of minimum wage workers will climb from about 520,000 to 1.6 million by 2019.

    “As well, under a $15 minimum wage, adults and those with full-time jobs would represent the majority of minimum wage workers,” it said.

    “By comparison, under the current minimum wage of $11.40 per hour, teens and young adults and those with part-time jobs account for the majority of minimum wage workers.”

    The non-partisan office noted “there is evidence to suggest that the job losses could be larger” than 50,000.

    That’s because “Ontario’s proposed minimum wage increase is both larger and more rapid than past experience, providing businesses with a greater incentive to reduce costs more aggressively.”

    But the FAO cautioned that its analysis “did not consider other potential non-economic benefits of a minimum wage increase, including improving workers’ well-being and health outcomes.”

    In a statement, Labour Minister Kevin Flynn noted Ontario’s economy is growing and can absorb the higher wages.

    “Our economy created more than 30,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate is sitting at 5.7 per cent, the lowest level in more than a decade,” said Flynn.

    “Thanks to our strong economy, we’re now in a position to move forward with positive changes for workers in Ontario. We know the cost of doing nothing is simply too high — too high for workers and too high for our economy,” he said.

    “Many leading economists share this belief. Studies written over the past number of years — including work done by the OECD, the Center for Economic and Policy Research, and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives — lay out the long-term benefits of higher wages for low-income workers, as well as the economic benefits that come with alleviating this problem.”

    Flynn argued that “low wages are bad for the economy.”

    “We don’t believe that anyone in Ontario who works full time should be struggling to pay their rent, put food on their tables or care for their families — especially when the provincial economy is doing so well.”


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    WASHINGTON—Republican Sen. Ted Cruz says that “a staffing issue” led to his official Twitter account “liking” a pornographic image overnight.

    Cruz told reporters at the Capitol on Tuesday morning that “there are a number of people on the team who have access to the account. It appears that someone inadvertently hit the ‘like’ button and when we discovered the post, which was I guess an hour or two later, we pulled it down.”

    “It was a staffing issue and it was inadvertent, it was a mistake, it was not a deliberate action,” he said, adding later: “We’re dealing with it internally but it was a mistake, it was not malicious conduct.”

    Cruz would not say who the staffer was and what kind of discipline the person might face, and it is “still being discussed” whether that person still has access to his Twitter account.

    He also tried to make light of the issue.

    “This was not how I envisioned waking up this morning,” he said. “Although, I will say that if I had known that this would trend so quickly, that perhaps we should have posted something like this during the Indiana primary.”

    Cruz unsuccessfully ran for president in 2016.

    Cruz has watched porn on the internet. We know this for a certainty — regardless of whether he did so again last night, at approximately 12:39 a.m. Eastern time, when a clip of the actress Cory Chase and her fictitious nude stepdaughter and a very energetic young man somehow ended up in the senator’s Twitter stream.

    More on that in a minute.

    We know Cruz has viewed porn because he told us so in his book, A Time for Truth: Reigniting the Promise of America.

    It was all very proper, of course.

    Cruz was a 26-year-old Supreme Court law clerk at the time. The justices were deciding whether internet porn should be regulated, and some first decided they needed to see the stuff for themselves, and so young Cruz got an eyeful.

    “As we watched these graphic pictures fill our screens, wide-eyed, no one said a word,” he wrote. “Except for Justice O’Connor, who lowered her head, squinted slightly, and muttered, ‘Oh, my.’ ”

    Which is exactly the same thing @KieraGorden said 20-some years later, in the small hours of Tuesday morning, when she and what seems like half the conscious population of Twitter discovered that @tedcruz had just clicked “like” beneath that clip of Chase and “family” and sweaty male friend.

    “OH MY.”

    “The offensive tweet posted on @tedcruz account earlier has been removed by staff and reported to Twitter,” the senator’s spokesperson Catherine Frazier wrote on her own account, a little after 2 a.m.

    But that only raised more questions, including: Reported the tweet for what?

    And “removed?” Did the spokesperson mean that someone in Cruz’s office had logged into his account and un-clicked the little red heart beneath the porn that someone had clicked earlier that night, causing it to finally disappear from his page?

    And most urgently, as Cruz’s name trended to the top of Twitter on Monday morning: Who clicked the heart?

    The unanswered questions didn’t stop countless people online from assuming — with many assuming the mystery liker was Cruz himself.

    “Everyone on twitter after 1 a.m. on a Monday knows exactly how this whole thing works,” one wag wrote. “You’re foolin’ nobody.”

    Quipped another: “Liking a porn tweet is by far the least offensive, most normal thing Ted Cruz has ever done.”

    Prurience hasn’t been a major staple of Cruz’s political campaigns over the years. But he has intersected with public sexuality a few times.

    As the solicitor general for the state of Texas in 2004, Mother Jones reported, Cruz’s legal team tried to defend a law banning the sale of sex toys.

    His legal team drafted a 76-page brief that argued that the government had an interest in discouraging “autonomous sex,” Mother Jones wrote— and “there is no substantive-due-process right to stimulate one’s genitals for nonmedical purposes unrelated to procreation or outside of an interpersonal relationship.”

    When he was running for president in the Republican Primary last year, Cruz’s campaign inadvertently cast a former soft-core porn actress in an ad attacking his rival, Sen. Marco Rubio, of Florida.

    The campaign killed the ad after discovering Amy Lindsay’s film history, and the actress protested that she worked mainstream roles along with the occasional erotic film.

    “You guys have all painted me as this big porn star, which I am not,” she said at the time.

    On Tuesday, after calling the “like” heard ’round Washington a “staffing issue” and insisting that “it was inadvertent,” Cruz was asked by reporters, for a second time, if he had pressed the heart button on the offending tweet.

    “No,” he said quietly as he walked away.


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    A Hamilton judge who wore a pro-Donald Trump Make America Great Again hat to court has been suspended for 30 days without pay.

    A four-member discipline panel of the Ontario Judicial Council also ordered Tuesday that Ontario Court Justice Bernd Zabel be reprimanded.

    He has not been hearing cases since December.

    “He's looking forward to getting back to work, and serving his community and dealing with the backlog (of cases) in Hamilton," said Zabel's lawyer, Ricardo Federico.

    The panel heard last month that 81 complaints had been filed against Zabel, who wore the hat briefly to court the morning after the U.S. election.

    He also said in court that it “pissed off the rest of the judges because they all voted for Hillary, so I was the only Trump supporter up there but that’s okay.”

    Zabel later apologized, saying the hat was an attempt at humour, and that he is not a Trump supporter.

    He told the discipline hearing last month that what he meant by his comments in court was that all the other judges thought Hillary Clinton would win the presidency, but he was the only one who correctly predicted Trump.

    More to come.


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    ST. JOHN’S, NL—As the federal cabinet sat down to work through priorities for the fall parliamentary sitting, it got an earful from Newfoundland and Labrador’s Liberal premier about a controversial tax proposal.

    Premier Dwight Ball, the provincial Liberal leader, told reporters the federal Liberal government needs to clearly explain its understanding of the “consequences” of its proposal to change the way incorporated small businesses and professionals can shift income around to lower their tax rate.

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    The proposal has outraged the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and many physician groups who view the tax advantages of incorporation as part of their compensation package, and a way to save for retirement.

    “What we’re asking for is consideration of the impacts of the changes to taxation. I’ve heard this from all provinces, I’ve heard it from small businesses, I’ve heard it from physicians throughout Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Ball.

    “I want to make sure that we have enough physicians, enough health care providers,” he said. “We need to have those professionals available to us to deliver health care services. We also need vibrant small businesses, companies that are strong to actually create employment throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.”

    This two-day gathering is the first cabinet meeting since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau heard similar concerns expressed by MPs across the country at last week’s caucus retreat in Kelowna, B.C.

    A source with knowledge of the caucus discussions said not all MPs who spoke out communicated opposition but several, in fact, supported the changes.

    Trudeau and his ministers have been billing the planned changes as part of a “tax fairness” agenda they campaigned on, and insist they are only targeting loopholes that high-income earners take advantage of—not middle-class small business owners and professionals.

    Finance Minister Bill Morneau declined to take questions on his way into hear Ball’s presentation. Morneau is expected to tout signs the Canadian economy is growing faster than expected, with strong economic output and employment creation numbers that will help the Liberal government tackle the deficit that ballooned beyond levels promised during the 2015 campaign.

    The other pressing agenda for the Liberal government is the status of negotiations to rewrite the North American free trade pact.

    U.S. Ambassador David MacNaughton briefed ministers on the NAFTA talks, and trade positions that are hardening in the U.S. including Boeing’s trade challenge to Canada’s Bombardier over the sale of its C-series planes to Delta Airlines.

    The U.S. Administration is investigating Boeing’s complaint that the Canadian and Quebec governments provide unfair subsidies to its aerospace rival Bombardier. MacNaughton told reporters here he doesn’t understand the Boeing’s beef given that Boeing wasn’t even in that competition.

    Commerce Secretary Wibur Ross is taking the Boeing complaint seriously, despite Canada’s hints that it jeopardizes Ottawa’s planned purchase of Super Hornet jets from Boeing.

    Canada’s approach to the NAFTA is the subject of a growing attack by the Conservatives, who suggest the Liberal government is wasting its time pressing for inclusion in the main deal of enforceable guarantees for gender equality and Indigenous rights.

    The NAFTA talks are to resume in Ottawa in late September with battle lines more clearly drawn after two rounds of negotiations concluded last week in Mexico City.

    Other issues bubbling on the government’s agenda include its handling of the influx of asylum seekers, and its efforts to toughen environmental assessments.

    TransCanada Corp. has asked to suspend for 30 days its application to build a proposed Energy East pipeline to transport crude oil from Alberta and Saskatchewan to refineries in Saint John, N.B. and other parts of eastern Canada. The company cited the government’s “significant” move to assess the impact of the project on upstream and downstream greenhouse gas emissions.

    The federal Liberal government is quick to point out that it has approved other energy projects even after assessing such rules, with one official suggesting the real factor in the company’s decision is market conditions.

    Four ministers will provide an update Tuesday on the status of relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Irma that struck the Caribbean and American coastal states.

    International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said Canada is still assessing the needs in the region. She admitted the government could have communicated better with Canadians “but I can assure you we were following the situation closely. We are in contact with the families, those who contacted us.”

    Bibeau said it’s up to Canadian travellers to check government websites before travelling, and “should always register for the government to know where we are in case of emergency.” And if they don’t, she said, it’s up to family members to let the government know where their relatives are.

    “This will help us to follow up.” In all, she said, “all the Canadians who wanted to come back” from Turks and Caicos and Saint-Martin island had returned on government-chartered commercial flights, with 691 arriving back in Toronto over the weekend and Monday.

    The cabinet retreat kicked off with an invitation-only event Monday on the 16th anniversary of the Sept. 11th terror attacks in the U.S.

    Trudeau celebrated the warm welcome Canadians gave stranded American plane passengers that day.

    But it was his government’s handling of stranded Canadians in the Caribbean that are dogging his government.

    Trudeau suggested his government has been all over the unfolding crisis, as he acknowledged the generosity of Canadians celebrated in the musical Come From Away now playing on Broadway.

    “We’re all glued to our phones and TV screens thinking about folks facing an awful lot of weather further south as Hurricane Irma barrels through up the Florida coast, and people have been struggling for the past week. I know the stories, and there are a number of them, of people reaching out helping each other through difficult times and saving each other in difficult situations, and we’re very much engaged as well.”

    “It’s these times...that we see what is in the core of each and every one of us,” said Trudeau. “It happened in Gander (on 9/11) and we’re celebrating it, and certainly in surrounding communities” as well, he said.


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    Just how much are you willing to pay for the latest iPhone? How does $1,000 sound?

    On Tuesday, Apple is expected to unveil a dramatically redesigned iPhone at the first product event it’s holding at its new spaceship-like headquarters in Cupertino, California. True to its secretive ways, Apple hasn’t confirmed what it will be announcing, though a financial forecast issued last month telegraphed something significant in the pipeline.

    The souped-up “anniversary” iPhone, which would come a decade after Apple’s late co-founder Steve Jobs unveiled the first version, could also cost twice what the original iPhone did. It would set a new price threshold for any smartphone intended to appeal to a mass market.

    WHAT A THOUSAND BUCKS WILL BUY

    Various leaks have indicated the new phone will feature a sharper display, a so-called OLED screen that will extend from edge to edge of the device, thus eliminating the exterior gap, or “bezel,” that currently surrounds most phone screens.

    It may also boast facial recognition technology for unlocking the phone and wireless charging. A better camera is a safe bet, too.

    All those features have been available on other smartphones that sold for less than $1,000, but Apple’s sense of design and marketing flair has a way of making them seem irresistible — and worth the extra expense.

    “Apple always seems to take what others have done and do it even better,” said Carolina Milanesi, an analyst with Creative Strategies.

    WHY PHONES COST MORE, NOT LESS

    Apple isn’t the only company driving up smartphone prices. Market leader Samsung Electronics just rolled out its Galaxy Note 8 with a starting price of $930.

    The trend reflects the increasing sophistication of smartphones, which have been evolving into status symbols akin to automobiles. In both cases, many consumers appear willing to pay a premium price for luxury models that take them where they want to go in style.

    “Calling it a smartphone doesn’t come close to how people use it, view it and embrace it in their lives,” said Debby Ruth, senior vice-president of the consumer research firm Magid. “It’s an extension of themselves, it’s their entry into the world, it’s their connection to their friends.”

    From that perspective, it’s easy to understand why some smartphones now cost more than many kinds of laptop computers, said technology analyst Patrick Moorhead.

    “People now value their phones more than any other device and, in some cases, even more than food and sex,” Moorhead said.

    THE LUXURY-GOOD CHALLENGE

    Longtime Apple expert Gene Munster, now managing partner at research and venture capital firm Loup Ventures, predicts 20 per cent of the iPhones sold during the next year will be the new $1,000 model.

    Wireless carriers eager to connect with Apple’s generally affluent clientele are likely to either sell the iPhone at a discount or offer appealing subsidies that spread the cost of the device over two to three years to minimize the sticker shock, said analyst Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research.

    Even if Munster’s sales forecast holds true, it still shows most people either can’t afford or aren’t interested in paying that much for a smartphone.

    That’s one reason Apple also is expected to announce minor upgrades to the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. That will make it easier for Apple to create several different pricing tiers, with the oldest model possibly becoming available for free with a wireless contract.

    But the deluxe model virtually assures that the average price of the iPhone — now at $606 versus $561 three years ago — will keep climbing. That runs counter to the usual tech trajectory in which the price of electronics, whether televisions or computers, falls over time.

    “The iPhone has always had a way of defying the law of physics,” Munster said, “and I think it will do it in spades with this higher priced one.”


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    Fifteen people are facing charges after Toronto police raided a marijuana dispensary in Kensington Market on Monday.

    Police searched the Canna Clinic dispensary on Kensington Ave. at 6:30 p.m.

    According to a statement, officers found 168.7 kilos of marijuana, 14.5 kilos of marijuana oil, 4.9 kilos of shatter, and $14,410 in Canadian currency.

    Twelve of the 15 people facing charges are from Toronto, while the other three are from Mississauga, Richmond Hill, and Guelph. They range in age from 20 to 46.

    The raid comes days after the Ontario government unveiled a sales plan for legal marijuana once Ottawa legalizes the drug on July 1, 2018. Only the Liquor Control Board of Ontario will be allowed to sell weed.

    Private marijuana dispensaries, such as the one raided in Kensington Market, will remain illegal under Ontario’s plan – a move that marijuana industry activists say won’t end the existing black market.

    Calls and emails Tuesday to Canna Clinic were not immediately returned. However, the dispensary’s website said its Kensington location remained open for business.

    All 15 suspects are facing charges related to drug possession, drug trafficking, and possession of proceeds obtained by crime.

    The suspects are due in court at Old City Hall on Oct. 23.


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    One of John Tory’s deputy mayors has endorsed Tory’s rival Doug Ford in the 2018 mayoral race, leveling a major blow in a campaign that has not even officially begun.

    In an interview with the Etobicoke Guardian’s David Nickle, Deputy Mayor Vince Crisanti, who represents Ward 1 (Etobicoke North), said Tuesday he will support Ford.

    “My stripes ain’t no different. So next year, come election time, I’ll continue to do what I’ve done in the past and support Doug Ford,” Crisanti, a long-time Ford ally told the paper.

    “We still have a year and a bit left in this term. I’m confident I can continue doing my job supporting this administration without hesitation. But come election time, I don’t see why anything should change.”

    Crisanti did not immediately return the Star’s requests for comment.

    The councillor’s allegiances came under questioning after he appeared centre stage at the annual Ford family BBQ, dubbed “Ford Fest,” held at Ford’s mother’s home in Etobicoke on Friday.

    “Wow! Let me say this: if anyone doubts the power of Ford Nation, come here tonight,” Crisanti told the crowd Friday. “I’m honoured to be here tonight. I’m honoured to always support Ford Fest, and here we are supporting the Ford family any way we can. I was thinking to myself about Rob Ford. Rob Ford is with us. He is everywhere tonight. I had such a great, very close relationship with Rob. I was first elected in 2010 with the support of Rob Ford and I’m here today because of the Fords.”

    On Monday, Tory was asked whether a deputy mayor could support a different mayoral contender.

    “I would expect they wouldn’t, to be frank,” Tory told reporters. “When that appointment is made, I think it carries with it the expectation that you’re an important part of the team.”

    Tory wouldn’t say whether Crisanti would continue to be afforded the status of deputy mayor. His office did not immediately provide additional comment Tuesday.

    Tory named four deputy mayors in 2014. North York Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong weilds the official powers of deputy mayor, while the appointments of Crisanti, Scarborough Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker and the late downtown councillor Pam McConnell were largely symbolic. The appointments followed a campaign promise of uniting a city, often divided along urban and surburban lines, under the banner of “One Toronto.”

    As deputy mayors, the four have represented Tory at various functions and — with the exception of McConnell — have been largely loyal to Tory within the council chamber on major policy votes.

    Crisanti came to city hall under Rob Ford’s administration with the mayor’s support, beating incumbent Suzan Hall after two unsuccessful attempts in 2000 and 2003.

    He supported the Fords in important moves including ousting former TTC CEO Gary Webster when he opposed the push to extend the Sheppard subway and on failed votes such as the held on a downtown casino.

    The 2018 campaign does not start until May 1, when the nomination period begins.

    Ford declared his intentions to launch a rematch with Tory, who has always promised to run for a second term, at Ford Fest on Friday.

    With files from David Rider and Emily Mathieu


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    SUDBURY—It’s Premier Kathleen Wynne’s day in the hotseat.

    Fresh from being grilled in the Legislature over the Sudbury byelection bribery case, the premier testifies Wednesday at the Election Act trial of her former deputy chief of staff, Patricia Sorbara.

    Opposition leaders said it’s time Ontarians hear Wynne answer questions instead of evading them.

    “I would hope that, tomorrow, the premier starts coming clean for Ontarians to see exactly what role she played…in what has become a very odious scandal,” NDP Leader Andrea Horwath told reporters Tuesday.

    “I hope that the premier will give us answers — we’re not getting them in the Legislature,” Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown added.

    “We’ve got a sitting premier sitting in trial answering questions about these allegations of bribery. That in itself is astonishing about how far this government has fallen.”

    The Sudbury trial is one of two being closely watched with a provincial election looming next June 7.

    The second involves two former top aides to ex-premier Dalton McGuinty. The pair have pleaded not guilty to criminal charges of deleting documents related to the cancellation of gas-fired power plants before the 2011 election.

    Wynne has waived parliamentary privilege and will be the first premier in recent memory to testify in a court case when she takes the stand in Sudbury.

    She repeatedly deflected questions from opposition parties as MPPs returned for the Legislature’s fall session this week.

    “The matter is before the courts and we really need to let that process play out,” Wynne said after Horwath asked “how far the premier and the Liberal party were willing to go to win the 2015 Sudbury by-election?”

    Sorbara and Sudbury Liberal organizer Gerry Lougheed are charged with offering jobs or posts to the Liberals’ 2014 candidate — quadriplegic mortgage broker Andrew Olivier — to exit a 2015 byelection nomination race, clearing the decks for Wynne’s preferred choice — defecting New Democrat MP Glenn Thibeault, now her energy minister.

    In addition, Sorbara faces a second charge of trying to induce Thibeault into being the candidate. Crown prosecutors allege he demanded paid campaign jobs for two of his NDP staff.

    Both defendants have pleaded not guilty in the trial that began last Thursday and is slated to continue into October.

    “What did the premier know about the offers to Mr. Olivier, what did the premier know about the offers to Mr. Thibeault?” Horwath said.

    “What did she say or not say to her operatives both in the ground in Sudbury and her (deputy) chief of staff at the time, Pat Sorbara?”

    The Elections Act stipulates that “no person shall, directly or indirectly, give, procure or promise or agree to procure an office or employment to induce a person to become a candidate, refrain from becoming a candidate or withdraw his or her candidacy.”

    Defence lawyers have argued that Thibeault agreed to become the candidate before Olivier had conversations with Lougheed and Sorbara, which he taped and made public.

    Wynne has previously said such talks were aimed at keeping Olivier involved in the party. He eventually ran as an independent and placed third in the byelection.

    If convicted, Sorbara and Lougheed, a wealthy funeral home owner, face fines of up to $25,000 and maximum jail sentences of two years less a day.

    The charges are not under the Criminal Code but under a lesser category called provincial offences.

    Sorbara stepped down from her role as head of the Liberals’ 2018 re-election effort after being charged last fall. She was a key architect of Wynne’s 2014 majority election victory.

    The February 2015 byelection was called after New Democrat Joe Cimino — who won the long-time Liberal riding in the June 2014 provincial election — quit five months into his term for family reasons.

    With files from Robert Benzie


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