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    MONTREAL—Police believe they have found the body of an elderly man whose car was used as a getaway vehicle in a murder-kidnapping case that stretched across a vast area of western Quebec and eastern Ontario.

    Yvon Lacasse, 71, was the owner of a 2006 Honda CRV that was allegedly used by a man, who is charged with the killing of his spouse last Thursday evening in St-Eustache, Que., and the kidnapping of his six-year-old son.

    A spokesperson with the Sûreté du Québec, Stephane Tremblay, said that a search team discovered a dead body in the village of Arundel, Que., Wednesday.

    “Everything leads us to believe that it is the body of Mr. Lacasse, but we have to wait for a formal identification to be made by the coroner,” Tremblay said.

    The body was found about 50 kilometres north of Lachute, Que., where police have said they believe that the alleged kidnapper abandoned the pick-up truck he had been using and took Lacasse’s Honda CR-V.

    Early Friday morning, police have said that the man checked in briefly to a hotel in Rouyn-Noranda, about 600 kilometres northwest of Lachute. He appears to have doubled back on his tracks and was spotted early Friday morning in the town of Maniwaki.

    At around 2:15 p.m. the man was spotted at a bank machine in Napanee, Ont. He was captured a few hours later by Ontario Provincial Police in the town of Griffith, Ont.

    The suspect made a brief court appearance Saturday, but was taken to hospital in Ottawa after reportedly harming himself in his jail cell. On Wednesday, a scheduled bail hearing was postponed because he was still in hospital.

    Police find body in Quebec murder-kidnapping casePolice find body in Quebec murder-kidnapping case

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    MEXICO CITY—Gustavo Lopez recognized the boy’s clothes first.

    His tiny frame, pulled from the wreckage, lay over the jagged pieces of what remained of the school. It was his 7-year-old son.

    He sat in shock for hours, quietly trying to maintain strength for his 9-year-old daughter, who had escaped the school unharmed. He wondered how to tell her that her younger brother, also named Gustavo, was dead — one of at least 30 children who perished at the Enrique Rebsamen school after it collapsed in the earthquake that devastated Mexico on Tuesday, killing at least 230 people.

    Lopez waited there for his cousin, Mauricio, who loved the boy and often took him on bike rides and to the movies. By the time Mauricio arrived a few hours later, hundreds of medical personnel, rescuers, volunteers and families were racing around, trying to unearth students still buried in the rubble.

    “He was my son, too,” Mauricio screamed when he heard the news, collapsing onto the upturned earth as Lopez tried to console him. “I can’t bear this, I can’t!”

    Such screams of anguish rose above the clamour at the school overnight, markers of loss in the chaotic crowd. Parents climbed trees and playground equipment to get a better vantage of the rescue effort, clinging to the hope that their children would emerge unscathed.

    Many did, having rushed out before tumbling walls could trap them. Passersby had also raced to the school immediately after the quake to pluck students from the cavities and openings of the buckled structure.

    But as the day and night wore on, mostly lifeless bodies were pulled from the wreckage, their names recorded by an army of volunteers keeping lists of the dead. By Wednesday morning, 30 students were still missing, and officials held dwindling hopes that any more children would be found alive.

    “To see a parent carry their own dead baby is something I will never forget,” said Elena Villasenor, a volunteer whose own home was badly damaged.

    Her own daughter was safe, she said, having been at a different school that did not collapse. But she could not sit idle while others suffered, and so she raced to this school to help however she could.

    The death toll across the country — in Morelos, Mexico state, Puebla and Mexico City — climbed to at least 230 people. The number is expected to rise even higher, as the rescue efforts slowly transition into recovery efforts, and more of the missing are marked as dead.

    Watching that number climb, hour by hour across the city and the broader earthquake zone, is a nation already in mourning. Two weeks earlier, the largest earthquake in a century hit Mexico, killing at least 90 people in the south of the country and offering a grim foreshadowing of the hardship still to come from this one.

    Perhaps nowhere was the suffering more concentrated than at the collapsed school. The smell of gas, sweat and earth filled the air overnight as people yelled their messages into megaphones. At first, the lights from police cars and emergency vehicles lit the rescue. Later, a generator was brought to the scene to power floodlights.

    Of the 400 students who attend the school, it was unclear exactly how many were there when the earthquake struck on Tuesday afternoon and made it out of the building. The injured, more than 60 of them, were sent to area hospitals, while traumatized parents whisked others to safety.

    At least three parents at the site of Enrique Rebsamen, a Mexico City private school had been communicating with their children trapped inside. They managed to reach them through the messaging service WhatsApp, begging their children to give them details, like how far from the main door they were when the building collapsed, to help the search efforts.

    One of the many volunteers, seated at a makeshift desk on Tuesday night, helped keep a list of the injured and the dead; it included at least five adults. Residents donned red vests and formed human chains to remove the chunks of concrete from the school’s broken edifice. Giant piles of water, medicine, blankets and even baby formula hugged the periphery, brought by neighbours who carted it in by the armful.

    The solidarity in the aftermath of the quake has been repeated at collapsed buildings across Mexico, a quiet but resolute determination to help. Strangers spending hours clearing debris, medics and construction workers plunging into the bowels of broken buildings, students and even children bringing water and food.

    At the school, the blitz of activity continued all night and into morning. Someone yelled for medicine: “We need clonazepam, insulin, anesthetics, antihistamines and oxygen tanks.” Workers wore helmets and face masks. Bulldozers and excavation machines went in and out of the disaster site.

    Everyone found something to do, passing water, coffee or medicine to those who needed it. Volunteers called for baby bottles to feed the children still trapped in the wreckage.

    Every so often, amid the piercing noise of raised voices, grumbling machinery and the whine of ambulances, someone would raise their arm up in the air and others would follow.

    In the frantic confusion of the rescue operation, the cross-currents of hundreds of well-meaning personnel sometimes led to frightening miscommunication.

    After toiling for hours sifting through the rubble, Florentino Rodriguez Garcia was given a sudden ray of hope: his 9-year-old grandson, Jose Eduardo Huerta Rodríguez, was supposedly fine.

    A medic told him that the boy had been taken to a hospital for injuries. But after hours of hunting, Rodriguez could find no trace of the boy.

    He headed back to the school and was approached by a nurse this time. She took him by the hand. She told him the medic had been mistaken. Jose, she said, was still trapped inside.

    “Please don’t tell me that,” Rodriguez screamed, collapsing into hysterics. “They told me he was out! This can’t be true!”

    And then, an hour later, an arm was raised, followed by others. Silence.

    “Jose Eduardo Huerta Rodriguez,” the crowd began to chant.

    The boy had been pulled out. He was still alive.

    Read more:

    Mexico’s deadliest earthquake in decades leaves at least 225 dead

    Death toll rises in Mexico after powerful earthquake: ‘The disaster is potentially widespread’

    Anguish, agony and elation fill the air as Mexican rescuers dig frantically into quake rubbleAnguish, agony and elation fill the air as Mexican rescuers dig frantically into quake rubble

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    A silver SUV accelerated before hitting Jayesh Prajapati, its driver showing no attempt to brake, an eyewitness testified Tuesday at the trial of Max Tutiven, accused of second-degree murder.

    Prajapati, a North York Shell station attendant who died in 2012 while trying to stop the theft of $112.85 worth of gas, was dragged and then run over by one of the SUV’s front wheels, Fernando Aspiazu told the court.

    Prajapati was then caught and dragged by one of the SUV’s rear wheels as the vehicle pulled out of the gas station and headed down Roselawn Ave., Aspiazu said.

    Prajapati was dragged a total of 78 metres before his body was dislodged and the SUV sped off on the night Sept. 15, 2012, the Crown has said.

    Aspiazu testified that he had just paid for gas and was in his car at the station, putting on some music when he saw shadows moving behind him.

    He turned to see Prajapati dash behind his car and in front of an SUV with his hands extended as if to say “Stop,” Aspiazu said.

    The SUV sped up as soon as Prajapati was standing in front of it, Aspiazu testified.

    Prajapati, a 44-year-old husband and father, went under the vehicle “right away,” the witness added.

    Aspiazu said he did not see the driver of the SUV, and acknowledged while being cross-examined by Tutiven’s lawyer, Edward Sapiano, that it is possible he did not see the first point of contact between the SUV and Prajapati.

    He became heated when Sapiano pressed him about the first point of contact.

    “I know what I saw and I saw an innocent person getting run over by a vehicle,” Aspiazu said.

    Read more:

    Hard-working immigrant from India died brutal death — over $113: DiManno

    Gas station attendant was dragged along Roselawn Ave., murder trial hears

    The Crown presented video on Monday showing a stocky man with dark hair and a beard pull up to the Shell station near Eglinton Ave. W. and Allen Rd., pump gas into his silver SUV and two jerry cans, and drive away without paying.

    The Crown alleges Tutiven is the man in that video, and claims that he committed six gas thefts in the year leading up to Prajapati’s death.

    None of the allegations against Tutiven have been proven in court. He has pleaded not guilty.

    He became a suspect when an officer reviewing security footage from the gas station recognized him from a previous “gas and dash” case, Toronto homicide Det. Robert North told the court.

    Tutiven was arrested in Montreal in 2015.

    Driver accelerated before hitting gas station worker, murder trial hearsDriver accelerated before hitting gas station worker, murder trial hears

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    Less than two weeks before Donald Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination, his campaign chairman offered to provide briefings on the race to a Russian billionaire closely aligned with the Kremlin, according to people familiar with the discussions.

    Paul Manafort made the offer in an email to an overseas intermediary, asking that a message be sent to Oleg Deripaska, an aluminum magnate with whom Manafort had done business in the past, these people said.

    “If he needs private briefings we can accommodate,” Manafort wrote in the July 7, 2016, email, portions of which were read to The Washington Post along with other Manafort correspondence from that time.

    Read more:

    Special counsel Mueller questions deputy AG, asks for documents on Trump’s firing of Comey

    FBI conducted a pre-dawn raid of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s home

    Special counsel Robert Mueller using grand jury to help probe Russian meddling

    The emails are among tens of thousands of documents that have been turned over to congressional investigators and special counsel Robert Mueller III’s team as they probe whether Trump associates co-ordinated with Russia as part of Moscow’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election.

    There is no evidence in the documents showing that Deripaska received Manafort’s offer or that any briefings took place. And a spokesperson for Deripaska dismissed the email exchanges as scheming by “consultants in the notorious ‘beltway bandit’ industry.”

    Nonetheless, investigators believe that the exchanges, which reflect Manafort’s willingness to profit from his prominent role alongside Trump, created a potential opening for Russian interests at the highest level of a U.S. presidential campaign, according to people familiar with the probe. Those people, like others interviewed for this story, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss matters under investigation.

    Several of the exchanges, which took place between Manafort and a Kiev-based employee of his international political consulting practice, focused on money that Manafort believed he was owed by Eastern European clients.

    The notes appear to be written in deliberately vague terms, with Manafort and his longtime employee, Konstantin Kilimnik, never explicitly mentioning Deripaska by name. But investigators believe that key passages refer to Deripaska, who is referenced in some places by his initials, “OVD,” according to people familiar with the emails. One email uses “black caviar,” a Russian delicacy, in what investigators believe is a veiled reference to payments Manafort hoped to receive from former clients.

    In one April exchange days after Trump named Manafort as a campaign strategist, Manafort referred to his positive press and growing reputation and asked, “How do we use to get whole?”

    Manafort spokesperson Jason Maloni said Wednesday that the email exchanges reflected an “innocuous” effort to collect past debts.

    “It’s no secret Mr. Manafort was owed money by past clients,” Maloni said.

    Maloni said that no briefings with Deripaska ever took place but that, in his email, Manafort was offering what would have been a “routine” briefing on the state of the campaign.

    Vera Kurochkina, a spokesperson for Rusal, the company led by Deripaska, on Wednesday derided inquiries from The Post that she said “veer into manufactured questions so grossly false and insinuating that I am concerned even responding to these fake connotations provides them the patina of reality.”

    Collectively, the thousands of emails present a complex picture. For example, an email exchange from May shows Manafort rejecting a proposal from an unpaid campaign adviser that Trump travel abroad to meet with top Russian leaders. “We need someone to communicate that DT is not doing these trips,” Manafort wrote, according to an email read to The Post.

    The email exchanges with Kilimnik add to an already perilous legal situation for Manafort, whose real estate dealings and overseas bank accounts are of intense interest for Mueller and congressional investigators as part of their examination of Russia’s 2016 efforts. People close to Manafort believe Mueller’s goal is to force the former campaign chairman to flip on his former Trump associates and provide information.

    In August, Mueller’s office executed a search warrant during an early-morning raid of Manafort’s Alexandria, Virginia, condominium, an unusually aggressive step in a white-collar criminal matter.

    Mueller has also summoned Maloni, the Manafort spokesperson, and Manafort’s former lawyer to answer questions in front of a grand jury. Last month, Mueller’s team told Manafort and his attorneys that they believed they could pursue criminal charges against him and urged him to co-operate in the probe by providing information about other members of the campaign. The New York Times reported this week that prosecutors had threatened Manafort with indictment.

    The emails now under review by investigators and described to The Post could provide prosecutors with additional leverage.

    Kilimnik did not respond to requests for comment. A spokesperson for Mueller declined to comment.

    Deripaska, one of Russia’s richest men, is widely seen as an important ally of President Vladimir Putin. A U.S. diplomatic cable from 2006, published by WikiLeaks, referred to Deripaska as “among the 2-3 oligarchs Putin turns to on a regular basis.”

    The billionaire has struggled to get visas to travel to the United States because of concerns he might have ties to organized crime in Russia, according to the Wall Street Journal. He has vigorously denied any criminal ties.

    Russian officials have frequently raised the visa matter over the years with U.S. diplomats, according to former U.S. officials familiar with the appeals.

    Manafort and Deripaska have both confirmed that they had a business relationship in which Manafort was paid as an investment consultant. In 2014, Deripaska accused Manafort in a Cayman Islands court of taking nearly $19 million (U.S.) intended for investments and then failing to account for the funds, return them or respond to numerous inquiries about exactly how the money was used. There are no signs in court documents that the case has been closed.

    The emails under review by investigators also show that Manafort waved off questions within the campaign about his international dealings, according to people familiar with the correspondence.

    Manafort wrote in an April 2016 email to Trump press aide Hope Hicks that she should disregard a list of questions from The Post about his relationships with Deripaska and a Ukrainian businessman, according to people familiar with the email.

    When another news organization asked questions in June, Manafort wrote Hicks that he never had any ties to the Russian government, according to people familiar with the email.

    Hicks, now the White House communications director, declined to comment.

    Former campaign officials said that Manafort frequently told his campaign colleagues that assertions made about him by the press were specious. They also privately shared concerns about whether Manafort was always putting the candidate’s interests first.

    The emails turned over to investigators show that Manafort remained in regular contact with Kilimnik, his longtime employee in Kyiv, throughout his five-month tenure at the Trump campaign.

    Kilimnik, a Soviet army veteran, had worked for Manafort in his Kyiv political consulting operation since 2005. Kilimnik began as an office manager and translator and attained a larger role with Manafort, working as a liaison to Deripaska and others, people familiar with his work have said.

    People close to Manafort told The Post that he and Kilimnik used coded language as a precaution because they were transmitting sensitive information internationally.

    In late July, eight days after Trump delivered his GOP nomination acceptance speech in Cleveland, Kilimnik wrote Manafort with an update, according to people familiar with the email exchange.

    Kilimnik wrote in the July 29 email that he had met that day with the person “who gave you the biggest black caviar jar several years ago,” according to the people familiar with the exchange. Kilimnik said it would take some time to discuss the “long caviar story,” and the two agreed to meet in New York.

    Investigators believe that the reference to the pricey Russian luxury item may have been a reference to Manafort’s past lucrative relationship with Deripaska, according to people familiar with the probe. Others familiar with the exchange say it may be a reference to Ukrainian business titans with whom Manafort had done business.

    Kilimnik and Manafort have previously confirmed that they were in contact during the campaign, including meeting twice in person — once in May 2016, as Manafort’s role in Trump’s campaign was expanding, and again in August, about two weeks before Manafort resigned amid questions about his work in Ukraine.

    The August meeting is the one the two men arranged during the emails now under examination by investigators.

    That encounter took place at the Grand Havana Club, an upscale cigar bar in Manhattan. Kilimnik has said the two discussed “unpaid bills” and “current news.” But he said the sessions were “private visits” that were “in no way related to politics or the presidential campaign in the U.S.”

    Trump’s former campaign chairman Manafort offered to brief Russian billionaire on 2016 raceTrump’s former campaign chairman Manafort offered to brief Russian billionaire on 2016 race

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    Just hours before Hurricane Maria struck, hunkered between mattresses, Sara Ouellette Subero listened anxiously to the rumbling noise outside the walls of her resort on the island of Dominica. Her baby was asleep and her 5-year-old daughter, wide awake, thought they were having a sleepover adventure, unaware of the tremendous danger coming their way.

    Her last post on Facebook to her family and friends said that she and her seven guests were well-prepared and equipped with all the basic necessities. She wrote that as the gusts of wind got stronger their hearts pounded faster. In a phone call, she told her mother in Sturgeon Falls, Ont. on Monday evening that they would stay hunkered until the storm passed through.

    No one has heard from Subero or her guests since. The Category 5 hurricane, with sustained winds above 160 mph, wreaked havoc across the tiny Caribbean island late Monday.

    Dominica lost all communication and reception with the outside world – leaving parents and family members in the dark for days.

    “No one has heard from anyone on the island, there is no communication whatsoever,” said Lynn Cockburn-Ouellette, Subero’s mother. “I have gone to everyone’s Facebook page that I can think of to see if there is any post or anything and there is nothing, there is nothing there.”

    Dominica was Hurricane Maria’s first major victim as it paved its deadly path through the Caribbean. It has since moved into Puerto Rico, where it has cut off all power and damaged homes. The hurricane followed two other deadly storms, Irma and Jose.

    Officials estimated that up to 90 per cent of Dominica’s buildings and homes were damaged by the storm – ranging from ripped-off roofs to near-total destruction. Aerial footage show debris fields spread across the island, roads washed out and upended water pipelines. At least seven people were reported dead.

    Subero, 30, and her husband Stephan Ricardo Subero, 33, moved from Sturgeon Falls, northwest of Algonquin Provincial Park, to Dominica in 2014. Their small resort offers a simple, natural environment to travellers passing through the island. Cockburn-Ouellette said the resort is a 50-minute drive from the capital city named Rouseau, adding that she is unaware of its current state.

    The island, with a population of 72,000, is famous for its 365 rivers. Cockburn-Ouellette, who visited her daughter often, said that people go to the island for the nature and lush landscapes.

    “I’ve heard that many of the roads are now not passable, and that one area has been completely devastated,” she said. “My daughter was scared before it hit, she kept saying there were butterflies in her stomach just thinking about what they might go through.”

    The mother said that she could hear the rain pouring during the last phone call, adding that her daughter said it was dark and the winds were starting to pick up. Since then, families of the guests and Subero’s family have made a Facebook group to coordinate rescue efforts.

    Cockburn-Ouellette said families of the guests, who are from Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago, are organizing rescue and evacuation efforts with their home countries. They have said, she added, that her daughter and family will be evacuated as well if need be.

    “I don’t know whether they (her family) will but it depends on the situation they are in, if they are okay and depending on the damage to the property,” she said. “We just don’t know at this point. We’re at the mercy of Wi-Fi signals and cell services picking up.”

    Mother desperate for news of daughter after Hurricane Maria strikes Caribbean islandsMother desperate for news of daughter after Hurricane Maria strikes Caribbean islands

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    “Maybe the gods are listening,” says the second-floor resident of an apartment tower near Yonge St. and St. Clair Ave. as a breeze blows in from her sliding glass door.

    It is little respite in her 274-unit building at 44 Jackes Ave. during an unseasonably warm September after management shut off the air conditioning earlier this month.

    “They don’t even tell you where to go to talk to somebody because they don’t want to talk to us,” said the woman, who is retired and not in good health. She, like other residents, declined to give her name. “It’s not very nice here at all . . . . This is the way it’s always been.”

    Councillors say tenants across the city are currently living in “intolerable” conditions, with some residents reporting temperatures in their units as high as 30 C.

    At a press conference Wednesday, tenant issues committee chair Councillor Josh Matlow and board of health chair Councillor Joe Mihevc urged landlords of buildings with air conditioning to keep it on through the heat wave.

    “There are a significant number of people who are baking in their homes right now,” said Matlow (Ward 22 St. Paul’s). He called on landlords to “use common sense.”

    Landlords genuinely wanting to be compliant with a city bylaw governing rented units are misunderstanding the rules, the councillors said.

    The bylaw dictates a minimum temperature of 21 C between Sept. 15 and June 1st. But the bylaw does not say air conditioning must be turned off, or that the heating system must be turned on starting Sept. 15, Matlow said.

    “There’s nothing in there that says flip the switch,” he said. “So, if Mother Nature isn’t taking care of it, yes, flip the switch, get the boiler going, get the heat on. But in this case, everyone in Toronto knows that Mother Nature is working overtime. So, she’s taking care of the heat. I want landlords to take care of their tenants.”

    Mihevc said his Ward 21 (St. Paul’s) office has been “inundated” with calls from those in hot buildings. In some older towers, the councillors said, centralized heating and cooling systems act as ventilation as well. And rules restricting how much apartment windows can open have exacerbated the problem.

    “One of the residents in one of these three buildings actually had to be hospitalized because of the lack of ventilation,” Mihevc said.

    The councillors said landlords worried about the time it takes to switch over from air conditioning to heating if temperatures drop quickly won’t be prosecuted by the city’s bylaw enforcement for using their best judgment and doing their due diligence to comply with the rules.

    Management at 44 Jackes Ave. did not immediately return requests for comment.

    In the long-term, Matlow said Mayor John Tory is supportive of a review of the bylaw to allow for greater clarity and nuance to better protect tenants’ health. Matlow said he hopes changes will come this spring.

    People are ‘baking in their homes right now’: Councillors urge landlords to keep the A/C onPeople are ‘baking in their homes right now’: Councillors urge landlords to keep the A/C on

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    The SIU is investigating after a crash involving a Peel Regional Police cruiser and a taxi cab Wednesday afternoon.

    Both the cruiser and the taxi entered the intersection of Bovaird Dr. and Bramalea Rd. at the same time, said SIU spokesperson Jason Gennaro. A 30-year-old man — a passenger in the taxi at the time of the collision — was taken to hospital with serious injuries.

    An investigator, two forensic investigators, and a collision reconstructionist have been assigned to assist with the investigation. The incident happened around 2 p.m. Wednesday.

    SIU takes over an investigation whenever a death, serious injury, or allegations of sexual assault occur.

    The intersection was closed for several hours after collision, but police confirmed it has since reopened.

    Any witnesses that may have seen the incident are urged to come forward.

    SIU investigating after crash involving taxi cab and Peel Police cruiserSIU investigating after crash involving taxi cab and Peel Police cruiser

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    WALTON, ONT.—Most big city journalists barely know their way around a plowing match, but they sure know what they’re looking for.

    A good story. Even better, a bad story.

    Typically, that entails the usual tall tales about which politician plowed the straightest furrow in the annual competition. But that’s just the surface story.

    Most scribes dig down, not with their pens but divining rods. Seeking the answer to a deeper question:

    Who best to till the rich soil of rural Ontario, harvesting votes ahead of their rivals on the campaign trail? The classic barometer, beyond the plowing, is the applauding.

    With an election looming, will Premier Kathleen Wynne once again be bogged down by boos? Will Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown gain ground? Will the NDP’s Andrea Horwath make a mark?

    The gods gave mixed signals this week, leaving me and my divining rod at sea. On cue, as the politicians convened, the heavens opened up to unleash torrents of rain on a farmer’s field where they were poised to parade, persuade and plow.

    The downpours churned the rich soil of West Perth into acres of abundant mud for the politicians to sling at one another. But the only furrowing was of my brow, for the plowing match was soon scrubbed and the parade cancelled.

    How then to judge the politicians’ performances? A crowd of country folk and city journalists gathered beneath the big tent, in the soggy fields west of Stratford, but there was precious little mud wrestling or wallowing in muck.

    Perhaps it was the shared torment of the weather that prompted the huddled masses in the audience to be uncharacteristically kind-hearted to all. Polite applause for the premier drowned out a few grudging boos from the back.

    That’s a big improvement from last year when, under sunny skies, a chorus of disapproval rained down on her, matching her plunging approval ratings. Perhaps mindful of that hostility, Wynne rushed through her prepared remarks as if to get it over with this time.

    “Thank you all for what you do every single day,” she gushed from the lectern, ditching her trademark spectacles for a sleeker look — straw Stetson and jeans accented with tartan rain boots and Liberal red top.

    As added thanks, she cited the $26 million in relief allocated for those summer rains.

    Wynne, who took on the agricultural portfolio during her first year as premier in hopes of winning the hearts of fickle farmers, now knows they’ll keep breaking hers. And yet, despite the chill in the air, a prominent local PC in the crowd confided — off the record, lest he be strung up in the fields — that the premier’s popularity is recovering after a slew of good news announcements.

    Next up, Brown won lusty cheers, as one would expect in Tory country (the local riding is held by the PCs, as are most rural seats), when he stressed that farmers deserve a fair hearing at Queen’s Park. Admirably clad in jeans and shirt sleeves, he wound up with a crowd favourite:

    “You didn’t come here to listen to a politician.”

    Another local Tory, seated beside me, piped up that Brown was a changed man from the year before, when he’d uttered only a few words and seemed out of his element. “Much improved,” she noted approvingly.

    Horwath, suited up in NDP orange, also got her fair share of applause when she excoriated Wynne for local school closings.

    But as political barometers go, the plowing match applause meter seems of questionable value after 100 years of rural celebrations and defenestrations.

    To its credit, the venerable Ontario Plowmen’s Association is finally led by a woman this year. An estimated 100,000 people attend the sprawling event over its five days, but its membership remains trapped in another demographic era that predates diversity.

    An Anishnaabe representative addressed the crowd, politely reminding the farmers that Indigenous people are seeking compensation over disputed treaties. The only other specks of colour in a sea of white faces were visible on the faces of a few visiting politicians, journalists, and Queen’s Park staff.

    It’s not the fault of stalwart agricultural families that diversity has been delayed in their midst, immigrants seemingly reluctant to transplant themselves to farmers’ fields in such challenging times. But the turnout serves as yet another reminder of the growing demographic and geographic divide across rural and urban Ontario.

    And how hard it is to extrapolate from the bucolic setting of the fairgrounds to the breathless tempo of the campaign trail. As much as journalists revel in the charms of a country fair, searching for their proverbial local colour, farmers know better.

    Like forecasting the weather, predicting the harvest — electoral or agricultural — requires more than applause meters and divining rods. Or opinion polls.

    Martin Regg Cohn's political column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday., Twitter: @reggcohn

    What voters — and the gods — really think of our politicians: CohnWhat voters — and the gods — really think of our politicians: Cohn

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    A skyrocketing backlog is pushing the wait time for refugee hearings dramatically beyond the federally stipulated 60 days, with recent asylum seekers now waiting 16 months to have their claims determined.

    According to the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB), the backlog has been growing at a rate of approximately 1,400 cases a month since January, with the largest increase so far in August with a sudden surge of 3,000 claims.

    As of Aug. 31, the pending inventory of refugee claims is about 34,000 cases, including 29,000 claims filed after December 2012, when the then-Conservative government revamped the process by imposing statutory timelines to process claims and expedite removals of failed claimants. The rest are so-called “legacy claims” that have been waiting for five years or longer for a hearing date.

    Read more:

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    While the law requires claimants be scheduled for a hearing date in 60 days, it has provisions that allow the refugee board to get around the deadline if there are delays in border officials issuing security clearances, if there are “operational limitations,” or if interpreters or counsel are unavailable.

    “The current intake of claims for refugee protection is exceeding the IRB’s operational capacity, which is causing a growing inventory of pending cases,” said the board’s spokesperson, Anna Pape. “As a result, many cases must wait before they can be heard by an independent decision-maker.”

    With existing resources, Pape said the IRB can process only approximately 2,000 claims a month. At this rate, it will take 16 months for claims filed today before they will be heard by a refugee judge.

    Board chair Mario Dion has been unsuccessful in pleading to the federal government for additional resources to clear the legacy claims and to deal with the surge of asylum-seekers from the U.S. that began this year after President Donald Trump’s initial immigration and travel bans were announced. These asylum seekers are entering Canada through unauthorized points along the border.

    Although the board has struck a special task force to process all legacy claims within the next two years, the unanticipated increase in claims via the U.S. has set back the effort and further strained the board’s staffing.

    This week the Immigration Department started running a “dedicated service centre” at Montreal’s Guy Favreau Complex that operates seven days a week to help would-be refugees fill out forms and expedite eligibility interviews. This could add further to the refugee board’s workload.

    “The IRB continues to explore new and innovative ways to improve efficiency, with the objective of improving timeliness of decisions,” said Pape.

    So far, the Liberal government has played down the illicit border crossing and insisted it is under control. It has sent out MPs to tell Latino and Haitian migrant communities in the U.S. that Canada does not offer automatic acceptance of refugees.

    “What we are dealing with is definitely a very high, steady increase in numbers, and it is obviously taxing our agencies and our borders, but we are able to redeploy resources and personnel as needed and are able to deal with the situation as it unfolds,” Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen told the CBC in August.

    The Immigration Department didn’t respond Wednesday to a request for comment.

    Sending a message to discourage potential border-crossers, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also said last month, “You will not be at an advantage if you choose to enter Canada irregularly. You must follow the rules and there are many.”

    Toronto immigration lawyer Lorne Waldman, a co-founder of the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, said any delay in processing claims allows asylum seekers to stay and work in Canada longer, and would serve as another incentive for them to keep coming.

    “Sixteen months is too long and the government has to take steps to speed the process up. It is crucial the refugee determination process is run efficiently,” said Waldman.

    Lobat Sadrehashemi, vice-president of the refugee lawyers’ association, said she was not surprised by the wait time, and delay means further uncertainty and insecurity — as well as longer family separation — for refugee claimants.

    “The IRB is capable of dealing with the levels of refugee claims that we now have. They have done so in the past. There needs to be a concentrated effort at ensuring there are enough members to hear claims and that claims are processed as efficiently and fairly as possible,” said Sadrehashemi. “This may require more funding.”

    Canada's refugee backlog growing with no end in sightCanada's refugee backlog growing with no end in sight

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    MEXICO CITY—A delicate effort to reach a young girl buried in the rubble of her school stretched into a daylong vigil for Mexico, much of it broadcast across the nation as rescue workers still struggled in rain and darkness early Thursday trying to pick away unstable debris and reach her.

    The sight of her wiggling fingers early Wednesday became a symbol for the hope that drove thousands of professionals and volunteers to work frantically at dozens of wrecked buildings across the capital and nearby states looking for survivors of the magnitude 7.1 quake that killed at least 245 people in central Mexico and injured over 2,000.

    The death rose after Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said the number of confirmed dead in the capital had risen from 100 to 115. An earlier federal government statement had put the overall toll at 230, including 100 deaths in Mexico City.

    Read more: Anguish, agony and elation fill the air as Mexican rescuers dig frantically into quake rubble

    Mancera also said two women and a man had been pulled alive from a collapsed office building in the city’s centre Wednesday night, almost 36 hours after the quake.

    Even as President Enrique Pena Nieto declared three days of mourning, soldiers, police, firefighters and everyday citizens kept digging through rubble, at times with their hands gaining an inch at a time, at times with cranes and backhoes to lift heavy slabs of concrete.

    “There are still people groaning. There are three more floors to remove rubble from. And you still hear people in there,” said Evodio Dario Marcelino, a volunteer who was working with dozens of others at a collapsed apartment building.

    A man was pulled alive from a partly collapsed apartment building in northern Mexico City more than 24 hours after the Tuesday quake and taken away in a stretcher, apparently conscious

    In all, 52 people had been rescued alive since the quake, the city’s Social Development Department said, adding in a tweet: “We won’t stop.” It was a race against time, Pena Nieto warned in a tweet of his own saying that “every minute counts to save lives.”

    But the country’s attention focused on the collapsed Enrique Rebsamen school on the city’s south side, where 21 children and four adults had been confirmed dead.

    Hopes rose Wednesday when workers told local media they had detected signs that one girl was alive and she speaking to them through a hole dug in the rubble. Thermal imaging suggested several more people might be in the airspace around her.

    A volunteer rescue worker, Hector Mendez, said cameras lowered into the rubble suggested there might be four people still inside, but he added that it wasn’t clear if anyone beside the girl was alive.

    Dr. Alfredo Vega, who was working with the rescue team, said that a girl who he identified only as “Frida Sofia” had been located alive under the pancaked floor slabs.

    Vega said “she is alive, and she is telling us that there are five more children alive” in the same space.

    Education Secretary Aurelio Nuno confirmed that the girl was alive, but said it was still not confirmed if other children were also alive under the rubble. Strangely, Nuno said, no relatives of a girl named Frida could be found.

    While optimism ran strong for the girl’s rescue effort, only four corpses had been found in the wreckage during the day, Mendez said, and workers were still trying to get to the girl as the operation crossed into a new day.

    The debris removed from the school changed as crews worked their way deeper, from huge chunks of brick and concrete to pieces of wood that looked like remnants of desks and paneling to a load that contained a half dozen sparkly hula-hoops.

    Rescuers carried in lengths of wide steel pipe big enough for someone to crawl through, apparently trying to create a tunnel into the collapsed slabs of the three-story school building. But a heavy rain fell during the night, and the tottering pile of rubble had to be shored up with hundreds of wooden beams.

    People have rallied to help their neighbours in a huge volunteer effort that includes people from all walks of life in Mexico City, where social classes seldom mix. Doctors, dentists and lawyers stood alongside construction workers and street sweepers, handing buckets of debris or chunks of concrete hand-to-hand down the line.

    At a collapsed factory building closer to the city’s centre, giant cranes lifted huge slabs of concrete from the towering pile of rubble, like peeling layers from an onion. Workers with hand tools would quickly move in to look for signs of survivors and begin attacking the next layer.

    Government rescue worker Alejandro Herrera said three bodies had been found Wednesday afternoon at the factory.

    “There are sounds (beneath the rubble), but we don’t know if they are coming from inside or if it is the sound of the rubble,” Herrera said.

    Not only humans were pulled out.

    Mexico City police said rescue workers clearing wreckage from a collapsed medical laboratory in the Roma neighbourhood found and removed 40 lab rabbits and 13 lab rats used by the firm that had occupied the building, now a pile of beams and rubble.

    In addition to those killed in Mexico City, the federal civil defence agency said 69 died in Morelos state just south of the capital and 43 in Puebla state to the southeast, where the quake was centred. The rest of the deaths were in Mexico State, which borders Mexico City on three sides, Guerrero and Oaxaca states.

    In Atzala in Puebla state, villagers mourned 11 family members who died inside a church when it crumbled during a baptism for a 2-month-old girl. People at the wake said the only ones to survive were the baby’s father, the priest and the priest’s assistant.

    Power was being restored in some Mexico City neighbourhoods that already spent a day without power. The mayor said there were 38 collapsed buildings in the capital, down from the 44 he had announced previously.

    ‘Every minute counts to save lives’: Rescue workers in Mexico digging to try to reach survivors‘Every minute counts to save lives’: Rescue workers in Mexico digging to try to reach survivors

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    SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO—The strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in more than 80 years destroyed hundreds of homes, knocked out power across the entire island and turned some streets into raging rivers Wednesday in an onslaught that could plunge the U.S. territory deeper into financial crisis.

    Leaving at least nine people dead in its wake across the Caribbean, Hurricane Maria blew ashore in the morning near the southeast coastal town of Yabucoa as a Category 4 storm with winds of 250 km/h.

    It punished the island of 3.4 million people with life-threatening winds for several hours, the second time in two weeks that Puerto Rico has felt the wrath of a hurricane.

    “Once we’re able to go outside, we’re going to find our island destroyed,” warned Abner Gomez, Puerto Rico’s emergency management director. “The information we have received is not encouraging. It’s a system that has destroyed everything in its path.”

    Read more:

    Mother desperate for news of daughter after Hurricane Maria strikes Caribbean islands

    Caribbean medical schools were welcoming to U.S. and Canadian students. Then came the hurricanes

    As people waited in shelters or took cover inside stairwells, bathrooms and closets, Maria brought down cell towers and power lines, snapped trees, tore off roofs and unloaded at least 50 centimetres of rain.

    Widespread flooding was reported, with dozens of cars half-submerged in some neighbourhoods and many streets turned into rivers. People calling local radio stations reported that doors were being torn off their hinges and a water tank flew away.

    Felix Delgado, mayor of the northern coastal city of Catano, told The Associated Press that 80 per cent of the 454 homes in a neighbourhood known as Juana Matos were destroyed. The fishing community near San Juan Bay was hit with a storm surge of more than 1.2 metres, he said.

    “Months and months and months and months are going to pass before we can recover from this,” he said.

    Gov. Ricardo Rossello imposed a curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily until Saturday to allow rescue crews and officials to respond to the hurricane’s aftermath.

    “We are at a critical moment in the effort to help thousands of Puerto Ricans that urgently need aid and to assess the great damage caused by Hurricane Maria,” he said. “Maintaining public order will be essential.”

    Rossello said in an interview on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” that one fatality has been reported but because communications were knocked out in some areas, the total casualty count wasn’t known.

    Maria weakened to a Category 2 storm later in the day but re-strengthened to Category 3 status early Thursday with winds of 185 km/h. It was centred about 90 kilometres north of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, and moving northwest.

    Even before the storm, Puerto Rico’s electrical grid was crumbling and the island was in dire condition financially.

    Puerto Rico is struggling to restructure a portion of its $73 billion debt, and the government has warned it is running out of money as it fights against furloughs and other austerity measures imposed by a federal board overseeing the island’s finances.

    Rossello urged people to have faith: “We are stronger than any hurricane. Together, we will rebuild.”

    He asked President Donald Trump to declare the island a disaster zone, a step that would open the way to federal aid.

    Late Wednesday night, Trump tweeted: “Governor @ricardorossello- We are with you and the people of Puerto Rico. Stay safe! #PRStrong.”

    Many people feared extended power outages would further sink businesses struggling amid a recession that has lasted more than a decade.

    “This is going to be a disaster,” said Jean Robert Auguste, who owns two French restaurants and sought shelter at a San Juan hotel. “We haven’t made any money this month.”

    More than 11,000 people — and more than 580 pets — were in shelters, authorities said.

    Along the island’s northern coast, an emergency medical station in the town of Arecibo lost its roof, while communication was severed with several emergency management posts. A hospital and a police station reported broken windows, and a tree fell on an ambulance.

    As the storm closed in on the Dominican Republic, about 4,000 tourists in the Bavara-Punta Cana area on the eastern tip of the island were moved to hotels in Santo Domingo, the capital. About 100 flights were cancelled and the government suspended school and sent workers home.

    “The government has prepared itself for the worst case scenario and so should the people,” presidential administrative secretary Jose Ramon Peralta said.

    Maria posed no immediate threat to the U.S. mainland. The long-range forecast showed the storm out in the Atlantic Ocean hundreds of miles off the Georgia-South Carolina coast by Monday morning.

    Previously a Category 5 with 281 km/h winds, Maria hit Puerto Rico as the third-strongest storm to make landfall in the U.S., based on its central pressure. It was even stronger than Hurricane Irma when Irma roared into the Florida Keys earlier this month.

    Irma sideswiped Puerto Rico on Sept. 6, causing no deaths or widespread damage on the island but leaving more than 1 million people without electricity. More than 70,000 still had no power as Maria approached.

    As Maria closed in, Trump offered his support via Twitter: “Puerto Rico being hit hard by new monster Hurricane. Be careful, our hearts are with you—will be there to help!”

    The storm’s centre passed near or over St. Croix overnight Tuesday, prompting U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Kenneth Mapp to warn people to sleep in their street clothes and shoes just in case. St. Croix was largely spared by Irma.

    There were no immediate reports of deaths or injuries on St. Croix, but it was still too dangerous Wednesday to venture out and conduct a thorough check, said Nykole Tyson, a spokeswoman at the U.S. Virgin Islands Emergency Operations Center.

    On the island of Dominica, which got slammed late Monday, Hartley Henry, an adviser to the prime minister, reported at least seven deaths and a “tremendous loss of housing and public buildings.” He said the country was “in a daze,” with no electricity and little to no communications.

    Dominica’s airport and seaports remained closed, and authorities used helicopters to carry emergency food, water and shelter materials to the island, said Ronald Jackson, head of the Caribbean Disaster and Emergency Management Agency.

    Hurricane Maria heads for Dominican Republic after destruction in Puerto RicoHurricane Maria heads for Dominican Republic after destruction in Puerto RicoHurricane Maria heads for Dominican Republic after destruction in Puerto RicoHurricane Maria heads for Dominican Republic after destruction in Puerto RicoHurricane Maria heads for Dominican Republic after destruction in Puerto RicoHurricane Maria heads for Dominican Republic after destruction in Puerto Rico

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    If a social debate is based on fuzzy ideas accumulated from something read somewhere, sometime, an academically published view is the antithesis of it, based on rigorous research, citations and knowledge. Before being published, it is peer-reviewed, or tested for accuracy and integrity by someone with subject matter expertise.

    This process is at the heart of a controversy roiling the academic community after the Third World Quarterly, a reputable British journal on global politics, published a piece earlier this month titled “The case for colonialism” by Bruce Gilley, a Princeton University Ph.D and Portland State University professor.

    (Although “third world” is now considered a derogatory term, the 40-year-old journal’s name derived from the non-aligned movement of countries who did not want to support either side of the Cold War.)

    In his article, Gilley says colonialism has been unjustly vilified, that it was legitimate and its “civilizing mission” was in fact beneficial. He also writes that it is time to re-colonize parts of the world and create “new Western colonies from scratch” because developing countries are failing at self-governance and anti-colonial ideology was harmful to native populations.

    The reaction was explosive, targeted at both the article and the journal’s decision to publish it. A petition calling for the article’s retraction gathered more than 10,000 signatures. On Tuesday, roughly half of the journal’s 34 editorial board members resigned in protest.

    Two researchers writing for a London School of Economics blog called the piece“a travesty, the academic equivalent of a Trump tweet, clickbait with footnotes.”

    That it appeared in a respected journal devoted to anti-colonial politics, made it “the equivalent of a journal devoted to Holocaust studies publishing that the Holocaust didn’t happen,” according to Ilan Kapoor, a York University professor at the Faculty of Environmental Studies, who was one of the board members who quit.

    The primary problem, though, revolved around whether the piece published under the label “Viewpoint” passed the scholarship test for publication.

    “As with all articles in the journal, this Viewpoint did undergo double-blind peer review and was subsequently published,” said Shahid Qadir, editor-in-chief of the quarterly in a statement.

    In a double-blind review, the author’s and reviewer’s identities are withheld from each other.

    The editorial board members say they asked for but didn’t get copies of the review. They also say the article was not passed, but rejected by three reviewers. (Qadir did not respond to my requests for comment on this.)

    “The piece in question was rejected by two peers who were editors of a special issue on ‘Whatever happened to the idea of imperialism?’ and then it was further rejected by another peer,” said Lisa Ann Richey, a scholar from Denmark currently at Duke University in the U.S.

    “There was a remedy available last week — to retract the piece and apologize for the gross error — and this remedy was not implemented by the editor. After this disappointing outcome, the only option available for anyone sitting on the Board who wanted to stand for academic integrity was to resign.”

    Kapoor said, “This discrepancy between what the editor has told us and what we have found is highly problematic.”.

    Meanwhile, the piece is being torn apart by academics on factual grounds.

    “Gilley says he is simply asking for an unbiased assessment of the facts, that he just wants us to take off our ideological blinders and examine colonialism from an empirical perspective,” writes Nathan Robinson in a scathing piece in Current Affairs.

    “But this is not what he has done. Instead … (he has concealed) evidence of gross crimes against humanity.”

    For instance, he omits any mention of the first 300 years of Western colonization because it’s “impossible to spin it,” as beneficial to native populations, says Robinson. Or he quotes a Congolese man saying, “Maybe the Belgians should come back” and entirely bypasses Belgian King Leopold’s reign of terror in the Congo that scandalized the world.

    In the think tank Cato Institute’s blog, Sahar Khan gives five examples of how the piece is “empirically and historically inaccurate.”

    For instance, “Gilley attributes the abolition of slave-trading to colonialism, which in addition to being ridiculous, is factually incorrect … Systematic decolonization and subsequent wars of independence eventually ended the slave trade.”

    The unexplained publication of a piece that does not meet academic standards of quality should sound alarm bells for those of us outside the ivory towers, too.

    The desire to appear even-handed under pressure from faux free-speech defenders has created a damaging false equivalency model in mainstream media, where the compulsion to get “the other side” means unfounded ideas are given the same weight as sound reasoning.

    Despite the imperfections of academia, academically credited facts established with rigour, empirical evidence and scholarship remain a credible tool to fight climate change deniers, racism deniers, anti-vaxxers or any one floating in the universe of “alternative facts.”

    Not condemning this attempt to Breitbart-ize academia will effectively wipe out the role of accountability in fact-gathering and remove any barriers to revisiting lasting atrocities of our past.

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

    How an article defending colonialism was ever published is a mystery roiling academia: ParadkarHow an article defending colonialism was ever published is a mystery roiling academia: Paradkar

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    The four NDP leadership candidates each recently met with the Star’s editorial board to discuss the campaign and defend their policies. The following are edited transcripts of those meetings.


    ‘Power can never come at the cost of principles’

    How is the campaign going so far?

    One of the key things we wanted to do in the campaign was to grow the party and to excite and inspire new people. It was my proposition that one of the key aspects of value that I could bring to the party and to the campaign was that ability to inspire people and bring people in. Most of our fundraising was from new members and we were able to sign up a host of new members from across the country, including significantly from Quebec.

    Your platform is quite strong on anti-poverty measures but contains less specifically aimed at inequality, what would you do to address that?

    There is policy we put forward towards poverty reduction focused around those who are the most unequal in society: seniors in poverty, the working poor and Canadians with disabilities. We also coupled that with the Better Work Agenda focusing on people who are in precarious work, as well as how we can build better work. We also want to end unpaid internships with no exceptions and to reinstate the Fair Wages and Hours of Labour Act to ensure there are high standards of labour rights protections for workers at the federal level — which would encourage more equity and fairness for workers.


    The four candidates who would lead the NDP

    Jack Layton led the NDP to a breakthrough, but can any of the four leadership candidates recreate the Orange Wave?

    What role do you see for universal programs by the federal government?

    I am absolutely committed to not only maintaining universal, publically delivered, one-tiered, social programs but expanding them. As New Democrats we already agree on universal daycare; we already agree on universal pharmacare, and so the policies I put forward are ones that I can add my own personal angle or touch. I wanted to bring forward policy agendas — like in the crime agenda or in the criminal justice agenda — that are unique to my personal work experiences and life experiences.

    Are you in favour of any of the current pipeline proposals?

    I have said no to Energy East and Kinder Morgan and most recently Keystone XL.

    Are there any circumstances under which you could support a pipeline?

    For energy projects there are three criteria that I rely on in terms of informing my decisions: Respect for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which entails that there must be prior informed consent from Indigenous communities on a project; any energy project that we invest in or allow has to comply with our climate change targets; local jobs and opportunities must be considered, as opposed to strictly focusing on exporting raw goods or raw petroleum.

    If an Indigenous community was opposed to an energy project should they have an absolute veto right?

    If we truly want a nation-to-nation relationship, then we can’t have projects on the land of another nation without that nation’s consent. It’s pretty fundamental, there really isn’t any way around that; it’s a real step towards reconciliation.

    What went wrong for the NDP in the last election?

    There was a great platform that was very progressive and included very meaningful advancements for society, but there was also something lacking between this objective platform and the campaign. The campaign lacked emotion and didn’t connect with people. I think that it didn’t feel like the party was progressive. The one concrete problem was the saying that the NDP would have a balanced budget. The problem with that message is that it has been used by conservatives to advocate cuts or austerity, very contrary to New Democratic values.

    One of the big debates in the campaign is the eternal tug of war between power and principles. How do you balance this perpetual tension in the NDP?

    There is no question that we need power to influence change but for me there is no doubt that power can never come at the cost of principles. There is an absolute way to pursue both your principles and the pursuit of power and that is what I have been committed to doing.

    What is your Quebec strategy and what is your experience been like campaigning there?

    We have signed up more members than any other candidate in Quebec. We are going to grow in Quebec. We are going to reach out to people who never considered voting for NDP before and we will inspire them to vote for us. We will have new fertile ground in Montréal for ridings that are diverse that were not thought of as NDP ridings before. I am confident that the values that the New Democrats have and the ones that I will put forward are values that resonate with people in the province.

    How important is it to have personality over policy in this election when facing Justin Trudeau?

    You need both — there is no question about it. You need to have an ability to get your message out to people and that requires personality and to be able to convince people. People have to feel a certain trust and a certain affinity towards the person that is delivering the message. So I think we can’t ignore the reality that it is something really important and I can go toe-in-toe on personality with Trudeau.

    Will you go back to Queen’s Park if your message doesn’t resonate with federal New Democrats?

    I ran to win and we are running a campaign to win and my only plan is to be the federal leader and running for a federal seat.


    The Liberals ‘better mobilized my generation, the millennials’

    Where’s your campaign at right now and what’s at stake in this leadership campaign?

    From the beginning we’ve made it very clear that “progressive politics” is “smart politics” and that this race is an opportunity for us to reconnect with our roots and our principles as New Democrats — and also reflect on why we lost significant ground in the 2015 election, especially in Quebec, Atlantic Canada and the GTA. We allowed the Liberals to “out-left” us, permitting them to come across as more progressive and inspiring. They certainly better mobilized my generation, the millennials, so going forward we need to better engage young people and that will be accomplished with ideas that attack the two biggest issues of our time: growing inequality and climate change.

    Do you risk losing support with the broader electorate by focusing too much on movement activists on the left?

    In the last election we talked a lot about “winning” — about “winning government.” But I think we played it too safe taking positions that weren’t reflective of strong NDP principles such as the commitment to balance the budget at all costs. As inequality increases and more people are pushed to the margins you see people looking for a bolder kind of politics. And that’s what our campaign is about. We’re absolutely interested in working with movements — building a movement — but it has to be based on ideas that are salient to the challenges the millennial generation faces. They will be the largest voting block in the next election — 37 per cent of eligible voters — and it’s a generation at risk of living lives much worse than their parents. It’s also a generation more open to progressive politics and challenging the status quo whether it’s free tuition, or public ownership, or progressive global policies on the environment.

    What would you say to folks sympathetic to your radical progressive approach who believe it makes you unelectable because you’re too radical?

    I believe “principles” are compatible with “power.” I’ve seen it from where I come from. The NDP achieved power in Manitoba by being very clear about whose side they were on: working people and those on the margins. I believe you saw a similar dynamic in Alberta and more recently in B.C. And I would add that Canada is changing. That was apparent to me on my precarious employment tour. It showed that inequality is rising and the degree to which the millennial generation is rejecting the status quo. Two years ago I may have been hesitant about whether the politics of Bernie Sanders or Jeremy Corbyn would resonate here in Canada. But what I experienced then was a real appetite for a much bolder kind of politics — and a bolder pushback against the rise of the right, which is not only extremely divisive but also really dangerous.

    Could you expand on the importance of precarious work to you?

    The rise of precarious work clearly indicates this country’s increasing inequality. Let me share just one story that touched me. A young woman I met on the tour had just moved back in with her parents so she could pursue a third degree because the first two didn’t result in full-time employment. But she also mentioned she’d likely never have children because she wouldn’t be able to give them the life her parents gave her. That story spoke to me about the dysfunctional breakdown caused by precarity and growing inequality.

    On a more immediate public policy issue, is there any pipeline policy that you support?

    Our campaign opposes the proposed pipelines — Kinder Morgan, Keystone, Energy East — based on certain key principles, including first, the need to respect the UN Declaration on the Rights on Indigenous People. It is critical that governments prioritize not just consultation but consent, and we know these pipelines do not have the consent of many First Nations across the country.

    Second question: Do they meet our climate change targets? They don’t.

    I believe we need to move away from the current energy model and instead look at investing in clean renewable energy, and I have proposed creating a new crown corporation that will direct federal funding towards helping create a carbon-free economy.

    As prime minister, you’d be called upon to decide what’s in the national interest. How does that apply with energy projects?

    What’s in the national interest is confronting climate change and building new pipelines won’t help meet those commitments. Renewable energy will create thousands of much more sustainable jobs than those in the boom-and-bust energy and resource sectors.


    ‘I don’t want to make everyone equal but you want to level the playing field’

    Where is the race right now?

    My first task was to get myself better known by putting forward policies that would be seen as out-of-the-ordinary and I think my Basic Income Proposal achieved that goal. My second task was becoming a “competitor.” With my new endorsements and the positive response to my performances in debates, I’m where I want to be.

    You’re the only Quebecer in the race but we’re a long way now from the Orange Wave. You got into politics because of Jack Layton’s belief the party’s success ran through Quebec. What happens if you don’t win?

    Well, we still have 35 per cent of the vote in the province and we were neck-and-neck in the last election; 2019 will strengthen the party in Quebec and our path to forming government in Canada still runs through the province. But challenges remain: we had 12,000 members in the province; now it’s down to 5,000. To be a force in Quebec, you have to understand Quebecers and their politics.

    There are many interesting ideas in your platform. Your tax plan is very ambitious and your signature proposal — a Basic Annual Income — is very bold, indeed, but there are no new universal programs that have been for decades the bread-and-butter of social-democratic electoral platforms. Why?

    I wanted to move in a slightly different direction. It strikes me that the NDP has had the same platform for two or three elections and, as you know, universal daycare, a provincial jurisdiction, was a proposal of ours in 2015, and Premier (Kathleen) Wynne said she wouldn’t work with an NDP government on it. The beauty of my proposals is that we can execute them without the support of the provinces.

    But aren’t you breaking with a long-standing NDP belief that Ottawa should be the leader? Isn’t this a radical shift?

    Well I do believe that Ottawa can play a leadership role in health care, for instance, but not by imposing programs — and for a good reason. Initially, it paid half the bill for public health care, now it’s less than 25 per cent. It’s hard to impose a “national vision” when the provinces are picking up most of the tab.

    But your signature social program is a case where Ottawa can act alone and arguably it will likely define your run for NDP leader. Your Basic Income Plan guarantees people living below the “low-income cutoff” an annual income. Curiously, this very innovative policy has split the left: people like you believe it will eliminate poverty but others are suspicious that it will provide cover for politicians to slash existing safety-net programs. Will it?

    Basic Income provides for basic needs like food, lodging and clothing and I believe it will have a huge impact reducing poverty. But it won’t work if a province uses it as an excuse to off-load their responsibilities. If that happens there will be a way of taking them off the program. Basic Income will have a huge impact on minimizing income insecurity in the face of rapid changes already underway in the workplace.

    The Liberals have run into trouble “selling” a loophole elimination that nets just $200-million in new revenue. Your tax plan is much bigger, generating $31 billion in new revenue, correct?

    That’s about right.

    You’re talking about netting $2 billion from an inheritance tax and $12 billion from a wealth tax. Won’t you have to bring in the army to sell it? Is it too ambitious?

    Canada needs to reform a tax system that hasn’t changed in decades. This is a vision that’s ambitious and bold but these are not taxes on labour income but on unproductive capital. We need to address economic inequality. We are one of the few advance countries without an inheritance tax. I don’t want to make everyone equal but you want to level the playing field and the tax system is not playing its role. My plan proposes a reasonable increase in corporate taxes, but otherwise I’ve been careful not to tax money intended for investment in the productive real economy.

    Here’s another hot-button issue. Is there any pipeline proposal you support?

    Nope. Any interprovincial pipeline goes through the National Energy Board, and the NEB has no credibility. An NDP government would reform it, so the consultation process doesn’t exclude 90 per cent of those keen to be heard. And we need a separate process seeking First Nations’ consent.

    Do First Nations have veto rights on pipelines, etc.?

    Yes, if it’s a nation-to-nation relationship, we can only proceed with their consent.

    How much time would you spend in Ottawa if you win?

    I’ll be in the House two days a week; otherwise I’ll be out there reconnecting with Canadians.


    ‘Class is a fundamental issue in this country’

    To start, do you want to give us a sense of how the campaign is going?

    I see a growing sense of economic uncertainty. I have a sense that people don’t believe the politicians speak for them. I think people of all political parties have become more disconnected. And I think that the role of a social democratic party in 2017 is to say: ‘We have to restore some level of believability for people who are [being] left out of the game.’ And that’s been my approach.

    I think the issue of class is a fundamental issue in this country. The fundamental divide in this country is economic. And that divide is cutting across a different kind of class strata. It’s no longer the traditional blue-collar class. The new working class is white collar.

    The day I launched I met a university professor that I know. And she started to cry when I was asking about her work. I mean, she’s on perpetual contracts, she can’t pay her bills. Our kids pay enormous amounts of money to universities that are more like corporations, and they treat their faculty more like Tim Hortons workers. Fifteen years ago, that was the cream of the middle class, and that’s gone. And so we’ve got to start calling this out: the issue of class.

    But despite this emphasis on class, you don’t have much of a tax plan, in terms of tax reform, and tax surely is a major tool for redressing inequalities. Where’s your tax plan?

    We need a proper tax plan in order to address the fact that corporate Canada doesn’t pay their share anymore. We were told this myth — this was Paul Martin’s myth, this was Jean Chrétien’s myth, this was Stephen Harper’s myth: You keep giving them corporate tax breaks, and they’ll reinvest, and create good jobs, and we’ll have a great new economy. And [instead] we’ve got the KPMG scandals. They don’t pay their pension benefits anymore. We’ve got them walking away on Sears. And so, tax overhaul is crucial.

    Coming up with a coherent tax policy is something I do with the party, with our electoral team. Not as a leadership candidate trying to say I’m going to get this point versus that point raised. It has to be a coherent strategy. So I’ve talked about the general principles, which I think is what a leader does in a leadership race. You talk about your values and your principles, but I go back to the party and say ‘OK, how do we make this credible?’ That’s my focus.

    Are you in favour of any of the current pipeline proposals?

    Right now, no. I got into politics to fight the Adams Mine. And I got involved in that because that was such a bogus, broken, fraudulent system for review. And when I look at what happened with the National Energy Board, it is much more bogus and fraudulent than even Mike Harris’s Ontario system was…So if you’re going to have a mega-project, you have to have a credible process for public input.

    Are there any circumstances under which you could support new pipelines?

    In a low-carbon future, we need copper, we need aluminum … and we will need oil. So we have to talk about transportation. Certainly trains are a very, I think, unwise way to move heavy bitumen, particularly since they move through so many urban areas. So we have to look at a review process.

    If a First Nation is opposed to a resource project, should they have an absolute veto right?

    That’s complicated, but the fact is without social licence, projects are not going to go ahead. But I’ll tell you, when I was working for the Algonquin nation before I was elected, we were having to run blockades all the time because nobody was coming in to talk to a First Nation. Now they do … If government was at the table the way industry has been at the table, we would probably be in a much different position than we are right now. Industry understands that they need social licence on the ground.

    I’m just wondering if you think that splitting Indigenous Affairs into two is going to solve the problems, or what would you be doing?

    I don’t care how many ministers you put in that broken system. When you have an attitude that it’s up to the federal government to decide what money they need to spend, and how to spend it, it is a black hole of in-accountability.

    This is a system that was built to destroy the Indian people, it has done a damn good job for 150 years, and it has to be dismantled.

    All of the stories you tell, on Indigenous, NAFTA, losing all our jobs, unaffordable housing, why aren’t Canadians revolting? Why isn’t there a revolution? Why aren’t they flocking to the NDP?

    Canadians are very patient. They’re enormously resourceful, but more and more are working full out. They’re just trying to get by. … I think what you need to do is offer a vision where we say it doesn’t have to be this way.

    Your notion of class: how is it different from Justin Trudeau’s notion of supporting the middle class and those attempting to join it?

    I think Justin and I grew up in a different middle class. Because, I mean, look at his middle-class tax credit, right? If you make $40,000 a year and less you get nothing, and if you make between $150,000 and $250,000 you get the whole bang for your buck.

    The middle class that Justin Trudeau’s talking about, it’s disappearing. And I find it really insidious to say, “and those wanting to join it.”

    My notion of the working class is that it is blue collar and white collar. There are people who’ve been downsized, professors, people who are working for the federal government on perpetual contracts at 12 bucks an hour when they have masters and PhDs in international development and can’t pay their bills. That to me is the new working class.

    It’s shame on us that we are not being the voice for those communities, and if we’re not being the voice for those communities, political arsonists like Donald Trump step in. And I am not, on my watch, seeing the Andrew Scheer’s of the world pretend that they represent working people. I don’t believe they do. So that’s my mission.

    NDP leadership candidates sound off on policies, power and principles NDP leadership candidates sound off on policies, power and principlesNDP leadership candidates sound off on policies, power and principles NDP leadership candidates sound off on policies, power and principles

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    Two GTA municipalities have a child-care problem on their hands, but not the one that normally comes to mind in the world of daycare woes.

    The region’s of York and Peel say they have no one on their wait lists for child-care subsidies, and a recent boost in millions of dollars in provincial and federal funding means they actually have more money than there seems to be an immediate need for.

    York Region received $14 millon in additional funds in 2017 to spend on its child-care program. Peel says it received a $21 million cash injection in additional federal-provincial funding to put towards making child care more accessible this year.

    Now they just need to find families who need the help.

    That’s why both municipalities are planning to launch campaigns to try to get the word out — specifically aimed at those middle-income earners who may not even know that they qualify for help with daycare costs.

    “I think there are a number of people who automatically disqualify themselves because they don’t know what the income levels might be. They think it’s for people who are very poor or very low-income, and that’s not the case,” said Cordelia Abankwa, the General Manager of Social Services for York Region.

    “There are people who are working on very moderate salaries, who would be able to benefit and who need it,” Abankwa said.

    “People think that if they own their home they might not be eligible, but that’s not always the case,” she said.

    For years, much of the child-care discussion has focused on Toronto, where notoriously high child-care fees, and lower-incomes households have kept the city’s wait list hovering around 15,000 children. Durham Region says they have 2,586 children on their wait list, although a number of kids can’t receive subsidies, as their parents are not working or in school — a necessary criteria for a family to receive support. But both York and Peel say their immediate wait lists were reduced, due to a combination of provincial funding and strategies to target the wait list — including getting out of directly delivering child care.

    In 2016, 14,726 children in Peel received subsidies. In Toronto, the number is 28,975, according to the city’s website. In York Region today, currently 8,300 children receive child-care subsidies.

    Abankwa believes the low demand is not about a lack of need but is simply a lack of awareness.

    “I think the surplus comes down to a lack of knowledge,” she said. “This region has seen a lot of growth and a lot of change. And people don’t necessarily know automatically about our fee subsidy…and for a long time, we did have a wait list,” she said. “People often hear about wait lists in other areas, and I think people tend to assume that in every single area it’s the same. These ideas die hard,” she said.

    Currently, in Peel, only 21 per cent of children use licensed child care, according to Suzanne Finn, the director of Early Years & Child Care Services for Peel. “Some people might have grandparents or a spouse at home…we know licensed child care is not for everybody, but we want to make sure that anyone who wants it, can afford it,” she said.

    Both municipalities say their campaign includes advertising, putting up posters in child-care centres, and engaging directly with child-care providers.

    The province sets out who is eligible for a subsidy using a sliding income scale which is loosely calculated by looking at both household income and the cost of care. For example, a family whose income is around $70,000, could be offered a subsidy to reduce child-care costs to $42 a day per child. Infant care in York Region averages around $1,400 a month, which amounts to $63 a day.

    The province announced a major child-care expansion plan in September 2016 to create licensed child care for 100,000 more children under age 4 over the next five years. Then this spring, municipalities received additional federal money under the Canada-Ontario Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) agreement, a multi-year initiative aimed at helping families access child care and invest in “local priorities.”

    The province also gave municipalities a hard deadline of spending or allocating most of the money by the end of this year — or risk losing it.

    In one York Region report to be discussed by local politicians on Thursday, staff say while money is good to have, it’s been difficult to deal with the influx so quickly.

    “The capacity of the many municipalities, including York Region, to absorb this amount of funding in a limited amount of time will be challenging for several reasons,” says the report. “It takes time to create new child spaces particularly if it involves a capital retrofit or capital expansion, as each space needs to undergo licensing inspection. It also takes time to reach new families who may be eligible for fee assistance through a media campaign and then place them into suitable and accessible child care,” the report says, suggesting the region request the province extend the deadline for expenditure from December 31, 2017 to December 31, 2018 to more effectively use the new funding.

    Heather Irwin, a spokeswoman with the Ministry of Education says “the ministry has been and continues to work very closing with all service system managers including Peel and York to support the planning and implementation of ELCC investments. The province is also monitoring expenditures and how funding is allocated as part of our expansion plan and ELCC to determine how to best target funding in the future,” she said in an email.

    But the timelines are still in place, said Irwin.

    Abankwa says she hopes the campaign encourages residents to reach out to their municipalities — even if they aren’t sure they can get help.

    “We are also hoping that people will take a chance to reach out to us,” she said. “This is an opportunity, where we have the ability to help our residents…and we want families to take advantage of it.”

    York and Peel regions have millions in daycare subsidies available but no one's on the waiting listYork and Peel regions have millions in daycare subsidies available but no one's on the waiting list

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    "(It will describe) hundreds of years of injustices to Canada's Indigenous peoples," says one official, describing the speech.

    Trudeau to use UN speech to address struggles of Canada's Indigenous peoplesTrudeau to use UN speech to address struggles of Canada's Indigenous peoples

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    The comments are the North’s first response to Trump’s debut speech at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, during which he vowed to “totally destroy North Korea” if provoked. Trump also called North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “Rocket man.”

    Trump’s threat like the ‘sound of dog barking,’ says North Korea’s foreign ministerTrump’s threat like the ‘sound of dog barking,’ says North Korea’s foreign minister

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    A 29-year-old woman with Down syndrome has filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario after two Toronto police officers were recorded mocking her during a traffic stop.

    Francie Munoz argues the behaviour displayed by Const. Sasa Sljivo and Const. Matthew Saris on Nov. 5, 2016 amounts to discrimination on the grounds of disability.

    She says in the complaint that she has suffered emotional trauma as a result of the incident, and that it has undermined her trust in law enforcement.

    Sljivo and Saris are facing a disciplinary hearing on charges under the Police Services Act, with the next hearing scheduled for Oct. 18.

    Police documents show Sljivo is charged with misconduct related to the use of profane, abusive or insulting language, while Saris is charged with misconduct related to the failure to report Sljivo’s comments.

    The officers have not said how they will plead, though they have issued a written apology for the incident, calling it a “lapse in judgment.”

    Munoz’s family has consistently asked for a public apology — a request repeated in the human rights complaint.

    In the document, Munoz says the officers offered through their union to apologize privately but have balked at doing so publicly. Their behaviour while appearing before the disciplinary hearing only compounded the issue, she alleges.

    “At no point did the officers greet or look at the applicant, let alone make any effort to say words of apology or regret. Being ignored by the officers when they had the opportunity to say or do something deepened the applicant’s feeling of injury,” the complaint says.

    Read more:

    Supporters of woman with Down syndrome pack hearing for police officers caught mocking her

    Toronto officers caught mocking woman with Down syndrome face Police Service Act charges

    Police bullying of woman with Down syndrome should not be tolerated: Editorial

    The officers’ lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    Munoz asks for an order to make Toronto’s police chief publicly apologize and express his commitment to ensure that all officers in the force undergo human rights training on working with people with disabilities.

    She also asks that the force be ordered to implement a more rigorous screening process for new officers “to identify pre-existing biases or prejudices, especially in regards to those with disabilities.”

    The complaint says the comments were made inside a police cruiser after the officers pulled over Munoz’s mother, Pamela Munoz, on allegations that she had run a red light. Francie Munoz was a passenger in the back seat.

    While preparing to fight the $325 ticket months later, Munoz’s mother requested the evidence against her and obtained an audio recording of the officers’ conversation.

    Sljivo can be heard describing Munoz as “disfigured” and a “half-person,” while Saris is heard laughing and agreeing, the complaint says.

    Munoz “was inconsolable for days after learning about the officers’ remarks and became anxious and withdrawn in the presence of first responders and other uniformed personnel,” it says.

    “As time passes, it has also become clear that Francie’s self-esteem, confidence and sense of self-worth have all been undermined by the derogatory comments directed at her by persons in a position of power and authority in society, whom she previously looked up to and viewed with respect.”

    Munoz is also seeking $25,000 in damages for harm to dignity and sense of self-worth, as well as $5,000 to cover her legal expenses.

    A hearing over her mother’s ticket has been pushed back to December, the complaint says.

    Woman with Down syndrome files human rights complaint after cops mock her during traffic stopWoman with Down syndrome files human rights complaint after cops mock her during traffic stop

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    The sounds of gas station attendant Jayesh Prajapati being dragged along Roselawn Ave. in the wheels of an SUV could be heard from the 18th floor of a nearby apartment building, a court heard on Thursday.

    It was a noise like a pylon caught under a car, witness Trevor Bell testified on the third day of Max Tutiven’s trial on charges of second-degree murder. Hours after Prajapati’s death, Bell told police the sound was “sickening,” he testified.

    The Crown has alleged that Tutiven fled a North York Shell station without paying for $112.85 worth of gas, hitting Prajapati with his silver SUV when the attendant tried to stop him.

    Prajapati was dragged 78 metres before his body was dislodged, the Crown said.

    Tutiven has pleaded not guilty.

    Bell was sitting in his apartment across the street from the gas station, with his balcony doors open when, around 9 p.m. on Sept. 15, 2012, he heard shouting, screeching tires, two instances of dragging sounds and a voice yelling “Call 911,” he told the court.

    He then went out on his balcony to see a vehicle speeding away, he said. Bell called 911 and reported a “hit and run” by a white jeep. He told the court that, he does not know much about cars and that, to his mind, a jeep and SUV are essentially the same thing.

    Joanne Dajao, another Crown witness, testified she was sitting in her friend’s car at the gas station, applying makeup, when she saw Prajapati run out of the station’s kiosk yelling, “Hey, hey.”

    Prajapati disappeared from her view but she saw a silver SUV driving “really fast” out of the gas station and realized the attendant was being dragged along, Dajao told the court.

    She estimated the SUV reached 80 km/h.

    A witness testified Wednesday that the SUV accelerated before hitting Prajapati and showed no signs of braking. Prajapati, a 44-year-old husband and father, was dragged and then run over by one of the SUV’s front wheels, then caught and dragged by one of the SUV’s rear wheels as the vehicle pulled out of the gas station, Fernando Aspiazu said.

    The Crown presented video Monday showing a stocky man with dark hair and a beard pull up to the Shell station near Eglinton Ave. W. and Allen Rd., pump gas into his silver SUV and two jerry cans, and drive away without paying.

    The Crown alleges Tutiven is the man in that video, and claims that he committed six gas thefts in the year leading up to Prajapati’s death.

    Witness heard ‘gas and dash’ death 18 floors up, trial hears Witness heard ‘gas and dash’ death 18 floors up, trial hearsWitness heard ‘gas and dash’ death 18 floors up, trial hears Witness heard ‘gas and dash’ death 18 floors up, trial hears

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    A child under the age of five died Thursday afternoon after being left in a car in Etobicoke amid a late-summer heat wave, Toronto police said.

    Police also said one person has been arrested.

    “We don’t know what happened here yet,” said Toronto police Const. David Hopkinson.

    Police, paramedics and Toronto firefighters were called to Burnhamthorpe and Mill Rds., in the Markland Wood area near the Mississauga border, at about 2 p.m.

    The child’s exact age and is unknown. It’s not clear how long the infant may have been in the car or what may have caused its death.

    The weather in Toronto on Thursday was sunny and hot, with temperatures as high as 26 C, according to Environment Canada.

    Hopkinson declined to provide a gender or age for the person in police custody, but said officers are still investigating.

    Child dies after being left in hot car in EtobicokeChild dies after being left in hot car in Etobicoke

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    Toronto police are searching for a man who they say pretended to be an officer, then caused a collision while directing traffic and dancing.

    The incident happened last Saturday at Bloor St. W. and Christie St. Police said the man, who wore a police uniform, was dancing as he attempted to direct traffic when two cars crashed.

    Police said Thursday they were called to the crash at 6:15 p.m. It doesn’t appear anyone was hurt, but investigators said the incident was caused by the fake officer’s attempt at directing traffic.

    Police said the man is about six feet tall with a thin build. He wore a police hat, a vest with ‘police’ written on the front and back, a gun belt, a dark-coloured, short-sleeved police uniform shirt, dark shorts, white socks and black dress shoes.

    Investigators are asking anyone who witnessed the incident to call 14 Division at 416-808-1400, or get in touch anonymously through Crime Stoppers.

    Fake cop causes accident while directing traffic and dancing, Toronto police sayFake cop causes accident while directing traffic and dancing, Toronto police say

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