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TOPSTORIES

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    Premier Kathleen Wynne insists the province will not let Ontario cities go to pot once the federal government legalizes marijuana next July.

    Wynne emerged from a meeting Tuesday with Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area mayors and regional chairs promising a clampdown on illegal storefront “dispensaries” and vowing to help municipalities cope with weed.

    “The federal government’s legalization of cannabis of course has implications for the province as we move to administer the rules,” the premier told reporters.

    “But the legalization of cannabis by the federal government also has implications for municipalities and that was the conversation today. We made it clear that we will work with municipalities.”

    Wynne admitted there are still many questions Ottawa must answer — including how marijuana will be taxed — before Queen’s Park can finalize any plan to aid cities with the new costs.

    “One of the mayors said … ‘will there be licensing fees that we’ll have access to?’ Will there be the opportunity for municipalities to raise their own revenues? What will be the resources that will flow from the provincial level to the municipal level?” she said.

    “And quite frankly those issues are not all worked out, but they raised them and so that’s an important piece of this. The issues around zoning were raised as well and so we need to work out exactly what those regimes will be.”

    It was the premier’s first meeting with the mayors and chairs since the province announced earlier this month that recreational marijuana would only be sold by the LCBO at up to 150 standalone stores or online.

    Attorney General Yasir Naqvi said he would be convening an “enforcement summit” with municipal leaders later this fall to discuss the outlaw shops.

    “We’ve been very clear from the very beginning that these pot shops are illegal today and they will remain illegal once legalization takes place,” said Naqvi.

    “We will bring our ministers, municipal partners, our law enforcement partners, our police services so that we can determine, as one, as to what is the best way to make sure that these illegal stores are not in our communities,” he said

    Brampton Mayor Linda Jeffrey said she was encouraged by what she heard from the province.

    “There’s a lot of moving pieces to this (federal) legislation,” said Jeffrey.

    “At the end of the day, the rubber hits the road at municipalities. Obviously the federal government is moving forward on it. We want to be responsible and thorough,” she said.

    “The premier is interested in our feedback on how to make this work in the future.”

    Vaughan Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua praised Wynne’s “measured approach” but cautioned the federal government will have to step up.

    “It’s obviously a cultural shift in our country. It’s going to require attention, but I think the premier has struck the right chord on this one,” said Bevilacqua.

    “There should be some costs attached … so they have to find ways to get that funding to the local municipalities because, as always, those are costs we bear.”


    Wynne promises to work with mayors on marijuana legalizationWynne promises to work with mayors on marijuana legalization

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    The provincial government says it will work with Toronto to create a new property tax category giving arts and culture hubs a break.

    It is now up to the city to make an official request to the province before any such changes could be implemented, said Trinity-Spadina MPP Han Dong in making the announcement at Queen’s Park on Tuesday.

    “This problem probably is more obvious now with the latest real estate spike,” he said. “The tenants — who often pay their share of property tax — are really feeling it right now. It’s been there for a long time, but adding the real estate pressure” has made the situation more urgent.

    His announcement came along with news that the building at the centre of the issue — 401 Richmond St. W.— was successful in appealing its tax bill, and will receive refunds back to 2013.

    Read more:

    Time running out for deal to save 401 Richmond

    Relief for 401 Richmond tenants on the way, city hopes

    City moves to save 401 Richmond and other cultural institutions

    The building was initially assessed at $57.6 million in 2016, which has now been reduced to $33.2 million.

    While the city already has the ability to grant tax reductions to charities and heritage properties, Dong says a unique classification is needed to support arts and culture facilities.

    “It’s important that the city moves fast to define this new tax class so culture hubs, like 401 Richmond, can continue to work without the worry of property tax assessments and uncertainties of whether they will continue to operate,” said Janice Solomon, who heads the Entertainment District Business Improvement Area.

    UrbanSpace, which owns 401 Richmond, blamed the hot real estate market for its skyrocketing tax bill, which had doubled since 2012. Before the settlement with Municipal Property Assessment Corporation, this year’s tax bill was expected to be more than $846,000.

    The site, an old factory, sits amidst pricey condos and office space and is home to a number of non-profit arts and culture groups. Over the years, the owner has shouldered much of the increased tax burden.

    Local Ward 20 Councillor Joe Cressy has been leading the push for the new tax category, and has worked at city hall to get 401 Richmond as many existing property tax breaks as possible.


    Toronto arts hub 401 Richmond getting property tax reliefToronto arts hub 401 Richmond getting property tax relief

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    MONTREAL—The ride-sharing company Uber says it will stop operating in Quebec on Oct. 14 unless the provincial government backs away from new training requirements sought as a condition for extending a pilot project that began last year.

    Jean-Nicolas Guillemette told reporters Tuesday in Montreal that requirements for drivers to complete 35 hours of training before they take to the streets were too onerous for the “vast majority” of the company's drivers, who drive part time, and would break the company's business model.

    He said the deal between Uber and Quebec to conduct a one-year pilot project already sets out rules that are “the most severe in North America.”

    Guillemette said he was hopeful that Uber and the Quebec Transport Ministry could meet before Oct. 14 to reach an agreement.

    Mathieu Gaudreault, a spokesman for Transport Minister Laurent Lessard, said before the ultimatum from Uber that the government had not been advised of any decision by the company to cease operations.

    The requirement that drivers submit to 35 hours of training, just like other taxi drivers in Quebec, and that the company have a police force conduct criminal background checks, rather than a private company, were announced last Friday.

    In announcing the more stringent rules, Lessard said: “They see it as a barrier to entry into the industry whereas we think they are the basic conditions to ensure that there is security for someone who wants to transport people who are not members of their family.”

    Gaudreault said Tuesday morning, when word of Uber's ultimatum began circulating in the media, that the government is open to discussing the way the mandatory training was delivered, but not the substance.

    “We're very open to it being training via the internet, or 35 hours of training by video, or some other way. We're very open,” he said in an interview.

    The conditions were proposed in negotiations for an extension of a one-year pilot project reached in September 2016.

    Under the deal, the Quebec government had granted Uber 300 operating licences and the company paid the government $0.90 for every ride up to 50,000 hours a week. Drivers were obliged to obtain a taxi license, but underwent training offered by the company. Background checks were to be performed by Uber, who used the services of a private company. Drivers were also prohibited from picking up passengers who had not requested a ride through the Uber application.

    In May 2016, the city of Toronto passed regulations in response to the popularity of Uber that eased the training requirements on taxi drivers and forced the company to pay $0.30 to the city.

    Edmonton, which was the first municipality to establish ride-sharing regulations, also left driver training up to individual companies, but demanded vehicle inspections, that drivers be insured and that Uber charge minimum prices that are identical to those of regular taxis.


    Uber says if Quebec stands by new rules, it'll cease operations in OctoberUber says if Quebec stands by new rules, it'll cease operations in October

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    WASHINGTON—The U.S. ramped up its response Monday to the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico, even as President Donald Trump brought up the island’s struggles before Hurricane Maria struck — including “billions of dollars” in debt to “Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with.”

    The Trump administration has tried to blunt criticism that its response to Hurricane Maria has fallen short of its efforts in Texas and Florida after the recent hurricanes there.

    Read more: Parts of Puerto Rico nearing desperation as food, water and fuel supplies begin to run out

    Days after the Category 4 storm slammed into Puerto Rico, many of the more than 3.4 million U.S. citizens in the territory were still without adequate food, water and fuel. Flights off the island were infrequent, communications were spotty and roads were clogged with debris. Officials said electrical power may not be fully restored for more than a month.

    Trump himself pointed out some differences between the two states and the island in a series of tweets Monday night.

    “Texas & Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble.”

    Trump also noted that the island’s electrical grid was already “in terrible shape.” Still, he promised, “Food, water and medical are top priorities—and doing well.”

    In Washington, officials said no armada of U.S. Navy ships was headed to the island because supplies could be carried in more efficiently by plane. The Trump administration ruled out temporarily setting aside federal restrictions on foreign ships’ transportation of cargo, saying it wasn’t needed. The government had waived those rules in Florida and Texas until last week.

    Though the administration said the focus on aid was strong, when two Cabinet secretaries spoke at a conference on another subject — including Energy Secretary Rick Perry, whose agency is helping restore the island’s power — neither made any mention of Puerto Rico or Hurricane Maria.

    Democratic lawmakers with large Puerto Rican constituencies back on the mainland characterized the response so far as too little and too slow. The confirmed death toll from Maria jumped to at least 49 on Monday, including 16 in Puerto Rico.

    “Puerto Ricans are Americans,” said Rep. Nydia Velazquez, D-N.Y., who travelled to Puerto Rico over the weekend to assess the damage. “We cannot and will not turn our backs on them.”

    Trump himself was expected at the end of last week to visit Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, after they had been ravaged by Hurricane Irma. But the trip was delayed after Maria set its sights on the islands.

    The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Brock Long, and White House homeland security adviser Tom Bossert landed in San Juan on Monday, appearing with Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello at a news briefing. Though Rossello had urgently called for more emergency assistance over the weekend, he expressed his gratitude for the help so far.

    The governor said the presence of Long and Bossert was “a clear indication that the administration is committed with Puerto Rico’s recovery process.”

    Long said, “We’ve got a lot of work to do. We realize that.”

    Perry and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke made no mention of Puerto Rico or the hurricane during a joint appearance before the National Petroleum Council, a business-friendly federal advisory committee. News reporters were not allowed to ask questions.

    Perry had travelled with Trump to Texas and Florida following hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

    Energy Department crews are working in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, co-ordinating with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, FEMA and a team from the New York Power Authority, among others. An eight-member team from the Western Area Power Authority, an Energy Department agency, assisted with initial damage assessments in Puerto Rico and has been redeployed to St. Thomas. A spokeswoman said additional responders would go to Puerto Rico as soon as transportation to the hurricane-ravaged island could be arranged.

    Zinke’s department oversees the U.S. Virgin Islands, along with other territories.

    The federal response to Maria faces obvious logistical challenges beyond those in Texas or Florida. Supplies must be delivered by air or sea, rather than with convoys of trucks.

    FEMA said it had more than 700 staff on the ground in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. They were helping co-ordinate a federal response that now includes more than 10,000 federal personnel spread across the two Caribbean archipelagos.

    In Puerto Rico, federal workers supplied diesel to fuel generators at hospitals and delivered desperately needed food and water to hard-hit communities across the island. Cargo flights are bringing in additional supplies, and barges loaded with more goods are starting to arrive in the island’s ports.

    San Juan’s international airport handled nearly 100 arrivals and departures on Sunday, including military and relief operations, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. The Pentagon dispatched the Navy amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge, which provided helicopters and Marines to help with the relief effort onshore.

    However, the Trump administration said Monday it would not waive federal restrictions on foreign ships’ transportation of cargo as it had following Harvey and Irma. The administration said it will continue to enforce the Jones Act, which requires that goods transported between U.S. ports be carried on U.S.-flagged ships.

    Department of Homeland Security spokesman David Lapan said the agency had concluded there were already enough US-flagged vessels available.

    On Capitol Hill, congressional leaders were talking about how to pay for it all. Puerto Rico was already struggling from steep financial and economic challenges before Maria made landfall.

    Last year, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi joined with President Barack Obama to help recession-ravaged Puerto Rico deal with its debt crisis. After the devastating storm, Puerto Ricans will now be eligible to benefit from the same pots of federal emergency disaster aid and rebuilding funds available to residents in Texas and Florida.

    Lawmakers approved a $15-billion hurricane relief packaged after Harvey hit Texas, but billions more will likely now be needed to respond to Maria.

    Ryan said Monday that Congress will ensure the people of Puerto Rico “have what they need.”

    Singer Marc Anthony, meanwhile, had some scathing words for Trump, pleading with the president to forget about football and focus instead on hurricane-hammered Puerto Rico.

    Anthony tweeted on Monday night: “Mr. President shut the f--- up about NFL. Do something about our people in need in #PuertoRico. We are American Citizens too.”

    The 49-year-old singer was born in New York, but his parents are from Puerto Rico, which was hit hard by Hurricane Maria.

    Anthony is one of many entertainers with Puerto Rican roots trying to summon support. Hamilton star Lin-Manuel tweeted that he's “texting every famous Puerto Rican singer I know and several I don't.”


    As millions struggle for food, water and fuel after Hurricane Maria, Trump tweeted how Puerto Rico is billions in debtAs millions struggle for food, water and fuel after Hurricane Maria, Trump tweeted how Puerto Rico is billions in debt

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    On Tuesday morning, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) announced new legal action that called for an end to the practice of segregation in the Ontario prison system to protect the human rights of prisoners with mental health disabilities.

    The OHRC has filed for an expedited application with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO), alleging that the Ontario government breached the Chrstina Jahn v. Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (MCSCS) settlement -- a legally binding agreement made in September 2013.

    In it, the provincial government agreed to prohibit segregation for people with mental health disabilities, and increase inmate access to mental health services.

    The OHRC is requesting for the same reforms to be made now with a sense of urgency, said OHRC Chief Commissioner Renu Mandhane.

    “This is a matter of life or death,” said Mandhane, “We feel like another death in these circumstances is entirely predictable and could happen next week, next month.”

    “The government chose to enter the Jahn settlement,” she said. “Having made that choice, they need to be accountable for what they have chosen to agree to.”

    Yusuf Faqiri, brother of Soleiman Faqiri, who died after a violent encounter with a dozen correctional officers while in solitary confinement, was present at the announcement to support OHRC’s decision.

    “There has to be accountability for Soleiman’s needless death,” said Faqiri, “because we don’t want another Soleiman.”

    Ontario Senator Kim Pate was also at the announcement asking the government to act on the issue.

    “Segregation in this country has been in a state of being examined for more than 4 decades in my own lifetime,” said Pate. “Any attempts to reduce and monitor it have failed...we must end this practice and end it now.”

    Paul Champ, the lawyer who represented Jahn in the 2013 settlement, was also present to support the decision to apply for a tribunal into the issue. “[The government is] not disputing the facts,” he said, “the question is what are they going to do to try and fix it... there hasn’t been effective change.”

    In May 2017, Howard Sapers, the Independent Advisor on Corrections Reform to the Ontario government, released a report that found that segregation continues to be the default tool used to manage inmates with mental health disabilities. His recommendations to change this have not been implemented, said Mandhane.

    “Even the most well intentioned correctional officer will tell you they put them there because it’s the easiest place to watch them,” said Pate.

    Champ is representing Cleve Geddes, an inmate at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre who reportedly hanged himself in February. Geddes, reportedly diagnosed with schizophrenia, was waiting for a mental health assessment, similar to Soleiman Faqiri.

    If the expedited application is accepted, a human tribunal hearing is expected in the next 45 days--a process which normally takes 6 months to a year. The OHRC hopes to continue conversations with the government in the meantime.

    In a statement Minister Marie France Lalonde of the MCSCS also committed to continue working with the OHRC. The Minister said that the ministry had moved forward with some of the recommendations, including an inmate handout, screening tool and a report that provides advice on improving access to mental health services for female inmates.

    “However, we know that we have a lot more work to do,” said Lalonde. “We continue to take immediate and decisive action to ensure that we are both safeguarding human rights and ensuring the safety of those placed in our custody.”

    Mendhane, Pate, and Champ, however, question the government’s commitment to reform.

    “The Sapers report is a clear breach of the Jahn settlement,” said Mendhane. “We won’t be arguing about the facts [with the government], but what the settlement looks like.”


    Human Rights Commission calls on province to end segregation for prisoners with mental health disabilitiesHuman Rights Commission calls on province to end segregation for prisoners with mental health disabilities

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    The police sergeant charged with misconduct for allegedly using excessive force during a midday downtown arrest made a brief first appearance before a tribunal at police headquarters Tuesday morning.

    Dressed in his full police uniform, Sgt. Eduardo Miranda told a hearing officer he understood the Police Act charges against him, both stemming from a Jan. 24 incident where he was captured on video appearing to Taser and stomp on a man mid-arrest at the corner of Dundas St. E. and Church St.

    Police later said the man being arrested was biting one of the officers at the time, prompting them to deploy a Taser.

    In the video, Miranda can be heard instructing junior officers to stop a citizen, Waseem Khan, from video-recording the arrest. “Get that guy out of my face, please,” Miranda says, gesturing at Khan, who is recording the incident on his phone from approximately 6 metres (20 feet) away.

    Other officers on scene then proceed to tell Khan he must move away, one of them urging him to let police “do what they need to.”

    When Khan insists he has the right to record, two officers warn him that they are going to seize his phone as evidence, something they did not have the authority to do.

    Citizens have the right to record police performing their duties if they are not obstructing the officers.

    “I’m not obstructing your arrest. I’m not involved in the investigation,” Khan can be heard saying in the video, later posted on YouTube. “I’m not getting involved.”

    Miranda faces one count of excessive force against the man under arrest and one count of discreditable conduct for directing another officer to interfere with Khan’s lawful presence in the area and with his recording of the incident.

    The officer, who is represented by lawyers Peter Brauti and Lawrence Gridin, did not enter a plea. His case is back before the tribunal next month.

    The misconduct charges against Miranda result from Khan filing a formal complaint to the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD), the provincial police watchdog that probes complaints against officers.

    Khan’s lawyer, Selwyn Pieters, told reporters Tuesday his client hopes the hearing results in some accountability for the officer.

    “Certainly Mr. Khan has issues with the officer’s conduct and he will come here and give evidence as to what he saw, what he heard, and what was said to him that he found to be offensive,” Pieters said.

    Pieters stressed that a citizen’s right to record police is “crucial . . . particularly where the scale is tilted towards police officers.” In this case, he said, without the video appearing to show the alleged excessive force it would have been the word of the officers against the man who was being arrested.

    Pieters added that Khan has concerns about the hearing being overseen by a fellow Toronto police officer. Hearing officers are typically senior officers chosen by the chief of police.

    Pieters said Khan would prefer the case be heard by a retired judge, as has occurred occasionally at the tribunal. Former Toronto police chief Bill Blair, for instance, tapped a retired judge to hear the police misconduct cases stemming from the 2010 G20 summit.

    “We may move for someone else to hear the case,” Pieters said.

    The OIPRD investigation also found misconduct by two other police officers for their statements to Khan during the video recording. One officer told Khan the man police were arresting was “going to spit in your face, you’re going to get AIDS.”

    The widely condemned and inaccurate comments — HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is not spread through saliva — were among the most troubling aspects of the interaction, Khan told the Star earlier this year.

    The OIPRD investigation concluded that two officers made statements that “brought discredit” upon the Toronto police service, but that the misconduct was of a “less serious” nature, meaning it is to be resolved informally and without a hearing.

    According to police, the January incident began when Toronto police got a call indicating a man at Seaton House, a downtown homeless shelter, had spat on a staff member.

    Officers located the man near Dundas St. E. and Dalhousie St., and when a female officer approached, the man spat at her and punched her, prompting construction workers nearby to step in; one of the workers was then bitten by the man.

    After the man was placed in the back of a police car, he kicked out the back window, police said. “They tried to Taser him but the Taser didn’t work because he was wearing heavy clothing,” said Toronto police spokesperson Mark Pugash.

    Khan had been in the area with his wife when he says he saw Toronto police reach into the back of a police car, then bring a man out onto the ground. He began filming because he “saw a cop kick this guy in the head.”

    The encounter prompted a swift response from Toronto police, with Pugash calling the video a “teaching moment.”

    “Let me be clear: we have told our officers if somebody is videoing them and they are not obstructing and interfering, they have every right to film,” Pugash told the Star earlier this year, shortly after the video was posted online.

    Pugash said that while the vast majority of officers understand citizens have the right to record police, the video showed that “clearly there is more work that we have to do.”

    Wendy Gillis can be reached at wgillis@thestar.ca


    Toronto cop who allegedly Tasered and stomped on man mid-arrest makes first appearance before tribunalToronto cop who allegedly Tasered and stomped on man mid-arrest makes first appearance before tribunal

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    WASHINGTON—U.S. President Donald Trump says he’ll visit Puerto Rico next Tuesday to survey damage caused by Hurricane Maria.

    Trump announced the visit after the administration was criticized for the pace of its response to widespread damage on the Caribbean island that is home to more than 3.4 million U.S. citizens. Puerto Ricans have been coping with shortages of food, drinking water, electricity and various forms of communication ever since the Category 4 storm slammed into island last week.

    Trump said Tuesday is the earliest he can visit without disrupting recovery and relief operations.

    He pushed back against the notion that the administration wasn’t acting quickly enough to help, saying supplies could be delivered by truck to Texas and Florida after recent hurricanes in both states, but that Puerto Rico is unique because of its location.

    Read more: Trump tweets about ‘deep trouble’ in Puerto Rico, says island is billions in debt

    Parts of Puerto Rico nearing desperation as food, water and fuel supplies begin to run out

    “The difference is this is an island sitting in the middle of an ocean and it’s a big ocean, it’s a very big ocean,” Trump said Tuesday during a White House meeting with lawmakers about the tax plan he’s rolling out this week. “We’re doing a good job.”

    Trump said the administration has shipped “massive amounts” of food, water and other supplies to Puerto Rico.

    “We are continuing to do it on an hourly basis but that island was hit as hard as you can hit,” he said.

    FEMA Director Brock Long and Tom Bossert, Trump’s Homeland Security adviser, were in Puerto Rico on Monday to assess the situation and report back on the island’s needs, said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

    The president was also to be briefed later in the day on the administration’s hurricane recovery efforts.

    Trump said next week’s trip may include a stop in the U.S. Virgin Islands, which were also ravaged by recent hurricanes.

    Trump said Puerto Rico is important to him. He noted that he grew up in New York City, which has a large Puerto Rican population, and that he has Puerto Rican friends. “These are great people and we have to help them,” he said.

    Trump had planned to visit Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands earlier this month, but the trip was delayed after Hurricane Maria formed and became a threat to the region.


    LIVE: Trump holds press conference with Spanish prime ministerLIVE: Trump holds press conference with Spanish prime minister

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    BERN, SWITZERLAND—North Korean government officials have been quietly trying to arrange talks with Republican-linked analysts in Washington, in an apparent attempt to make sense of President Donald Trump and his confusing messages to Kim Jong Un’s regime.

    The outreach began before the current eruption of threats between the two leaders, but will likely become only more urgent as Trump and Kim have descended into name-calling that, many analysts worry, sharply increases the chances of potentially catastrophic misunderstandings.

    “Their No. 1 concern is Trump. They can’t figure him out,” said one person with direct knowledge of North Korea’s approach to Asia experts with Republican connections.

    Read more:

    Twitter explains why it won’t take down Trump’s tweet threatening North Korean leader

    North Korea probably doesn’t want to attack U.S. planes and probably can’t hit them anyway, experts say

    China urges North Korea, U.S. to cool it, adds there’s ‘no winner’ if war breaks out

    There is no suggestion that the North Koreans are interested in negotiations about their nuclear program — they instead seem to want forums for insisting on being recognized as a nuclear state — and the Trump administration has made clear it is not interested in talking right now.

    At a multilateral meeting here in Switzerland earlier this month, North Korea’s representatives were adamant about being recognized as a nuclear weapons state and showed no willingness to even talk about denuclearization.

    But to get a better understanding of American intentions, in the absence official diplomatic talks with the U.S. government, North Korea’s mission to the United Nations invited Bruce Klingner, a former CIA analyst who is now the Heritage Foundation’s top expert on North Korea, to visit Pyongyang for meetings.

    Trump has close ties to Heritage, a conservative think-tank which has influenced the president on everything from travel restrictions to defence spending, although not to Klingner personally.

    “They’re on a new binge of reaching out to American scholars and ex-officials,” said Klingner, who declined the North Korean invitation. “While such meetings are useful, if the regime wants to send a clear message, it should reach out directly to the U.S. government.”

    North Korean intermediaries have also approached Douglas Paal, who served as an Asia expert on the national security councils of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and is now vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

    They wanted Paal to arrange talks between North Korean officials and American experts with Republican ties in a neutral place such as Switzerland. He also declined the North Korean request.

    “The North Koreans are clearly eager to deliver a message. But I think they’re only interested in getting some travel, in getting out of the country for a bit,” Paal said.

    North Korea currently has about seven such invitations out to organizations that have hosted previous talks — a surprising number of requests for a country that is threatening to launch a nuclear strike on the United States.

    Over the past two years in particular, Pyongyang has sent officials from its foreign ministry to hold meetings with Americans — usually former diplomats and think-tankers — in neutral places such as Geneva, Singapore or Kuala Lumpur.

    They are referred to as “Track 1.5” talks because they are official (Track 1) on the North Korean side but unofficial (Track 2) on the American side, although the U.S. government is kept informed of the talks.

    But since Trump’s election in November, the North Korean representatives have been predominantly interested in figuring out the unconventional president’s strategy, according to almost a dozen people involved in the discussions. All asked for anonymity to talk about the sensitive meetings.

    Early in Trump’s term, the North Koreans had been asking broad questions: Is Trump serious about closing American military bases in South Korea and Japan, as he said on the campaign trail? Might he really send American nuclear weapons back to the southern half of the Korean Peninsula?

    But the questions have since become more specific. Why, for instance, are Trump’s top officials, notably Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, directly contradicting the president so often?

    “The North Koreans are reaching out through various channels and through various counterparts,” said Evans Revere, a former State Department official dealing with North Korea who is a frequent participant in such talks. There are a number of theories about why North Korea is doing this.

    “My own guess is that they are somewhat puzzled as to the direction in which the U.S. is going, so they’re trying to open up channels to take the pulse in Washington,” Revere said. “They haven’t seen the U.S. act like this before.”

    Revere attended a multilateral meeting with North Korean officials in the picturesque Swiss village of Glion earlier this month, together with Ralph Cossa, chairman of the Pacific Forum of the Center for Strategic and International Studies and another frequent interlocutor with Pyongyang’s representatives.

    The meeting is an annual event organized by the Geneva Center for Security Policy, a government linked think-tank. But it took on extra significance this year due to the sudden rise in tensions between North Korea and the United States.

    All the countries involved in the now-defunct six-party denuclearization talks — the U.S., China, Japan, Russia, and the two Koreas — were represented, as were Mongolia, the Swiss government and the European Union. The Swiss invited the U.S. government to send an official, but it did not.

    The North Koreans at the meeting displayed an “encyclopedic” knowledge of Trump’s tweets, to the extent that they were able to quote them back to the Americans present.

    Pyongyang’s delegation was headed by Choe Kang Il, deputy director of the Americas division in the foreign ministry, and he was accompanied by three officials in their late 20s who wowed the other participants with their intellectual analysis and their perfect, American-accented English. One even explained to the other delegates how the U.S. Congress works.

    “They were as self-confident as I’ve ever seen them,” said Cossa. Revere added: “They may be puzzled about our intentions but they have a very clear set of intentions of their own.”

    The participants declined to divulge the contents of the discussions as they were off the record.

    But others familiar with the talks said the North Koreans completely ruled out the “freeze for freeze” idea being promoted by China and Russia, in which Pyongyang would freeze its nuclear and missile activities if the United States stopped conducting military exercises in South Korea. The United States, Japan and South Korea also outright reject the idea.

    Participants left the day-and-a-half-long meeting with little hope for any improvement any time soon.

    “I’m very pessimistic,” said Shin Beom-chul, a North Korea expert at the South’s Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security, after participating in the meeting in Glion. “They want to keep their nuclear weapons and they will only return to dialogue after the United States nullifies its ‘hostile policy.’ They want the U.S. to stop all military exercises and lift all sanctions on them.”

    Ken Jimbo, who teaches at Keio University in Japan and was also at the meeting, said that North Korea may still be interested in dialogue, but it on terms that are unacceptable to the other side.

    “North Korea wants to be recognized as a nuclear weapons state,” Jimbo said. “But when is North Korea ready for talks? This is what I kept asking the North Koreans: How much is enough?”


    What’s up with Trump? Confused, North Korea is reaching out to Republican analysts for answersWhat’s up with Trump? Confused, North Korea is reaching out to Republican analysts for answers

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    WASHINGTON—The U.S. ramped up its response Monday to the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico, even as President Donald Trump brought up the island’s struggles before Hurricane Maria struck — including “billions of dollars” in debt to “Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with.”

    The Trump administration has tried to blunt criticism that its response to Hurricane Maria has fallen short of its efforts in Texas and Florida after the recent hurricanes there.

    Read more: Parts of Puerto Rico nearing desperation as food, water and fuel supplies begin to run out

    Days after the Category 4 storm slammed into Puerto Rico, many of the more than 3.4 million U.S. citizens in the territory were still without adequate food, water and fuel. Flights off the island were infrequent, communications were spotty and roads were clogged with debris. Officials said electrical power may not be fully restored for more than a month.

    Trump himself pointed out some differences between the two states and the island in a series of tweets Monday night.

    “Texas & Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble.”

    Trump also noted that the island’s electrical grid was already “in terrible shape.” Still, he promised, “Food, water and medical are top priorities—and doing well.”

    In Washington, officials said no armada of U.S. Navy ships was headed to the island because supplies could be carried in more efficiently by plane. The Trump administration ruled out temporarily setting aside federal restrictions on foreign ships’ transportation of cargo, saying it wasn’t needed. The government had waived those rules in Florida and Texas until last week.

    Though the administration said the focus on aid was strong, when two Cabinet secretaries spoke at a conference on another subject — including Energy Secretary Rick Perry, whose agency is helping restore the island’s power — neither made any mention of Puerto Rico or Hurricane Maria.

    Democratic lawmakers with large Puerto Rican constituencies back on the mainland characterized the response so far as too little and too slow. The confirmed death toll from Maria jumped to at least 49 on Monday, including 16 in Puerto Rico.

    “Puerto Ricans are Americans,” said Rep. Nydia Velazquez, D-N.Y., who travelled to Puerto Rico over the weekend to assess the damage. “We cannot and will not turn our backs on them.”

    Trump himself was expected at the end of last week to visit Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, after they had been ravaged by Hurricane Irma. But the trip was delayed after Maria set its sights on the islands.

    The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Brock Long, and White House homeland security adviser Tom Bossert landed in San Juan on Monday, appearing with Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello at a news briefing. Though Rossello had urgently called for more emergency assistance over the weekend, he expressed his gratitude for the help so far.

    The governor said the presence of Long and Bossert was “a clear indication that the administration is committed with Puerto Rico’s recovery process.”

    Long said, “We’ve got a lot of work to do. We realize that.”

    Perry and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke made no mention of Puerto Rico or the hurricane during a joint appearance before the National Petroleum Council, a business-friendly federal advisory committee. News reporters were not allowed to ask questions.

    Perry had travelled with Trump to Texas and Florida following hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

    Energy Department crews are working in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, co-ordinating with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, FEMA and a team from the New York Power Authority, among others. An eight-member team from the Western Area Power Authority, an Energy Department agency, assisted with initial damage assessments in Puerto Rico and has been redeployed to St. Thomas. A spokeswoman said additional responders would go to Puerto Rico as soon as transportation to the hurricane-ravaged island could be arranged.

    Zinke’s department oversees the U.S. Virgin Islands, along with other territories.

    The federal response to Maria faces obvious logistical challenges beyond those in Texas or Florida. Supplies must be delivered by air or sea, rather than with convoys of trucks.

    FEMA said it had more than 700 staff on the ground in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. They were helping co-ordinate a federal response that now includes more than 10,000 federal personnel spread across the two Caribbean archipelagos.

    In Puerto Rico, federal workers supplied diesel to fuel generators at hospitals and delivered desperately needed food and water to hard-hit communities across the island. Cargo flights are bringing in additional supplies, and barges loaded with more goods are starting to arrive in the island’s ports.

    San Juan’s international airport handled nearly 100 arrivals and departures on Sunday, including military and relief operations, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. The Pentagon dispatched the Navy amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge, which provided helicopters and Marines to help with the relief effort onshore.

    However, the Trump administration said Monday it would not waive federal restrictions on foreign ships’ transportation of cargo as it had following Harvey and Irma. The administration said it will continue to enforce the Jones Act, which requires that goods transported between U.S. ports be carried on U.S.-flagged ships.

    Department of Homeland Security spokesman David Lapan said the agency had concluded there were already enough US-flagged vessels available.

    On Capitol Hill, congressional leaders were talking about how to pay for it all. Puerto Rico was already struggling from steep financial and economic challenges before Maria made landfall.

    Last year, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi joined with President Barack Obama to help recession-ravaged Puerto Rico deal with its debt crisis. After the devastating storm, Puerto Ricans will now be eligible to benefit from the same pots of federal emergency disaster aid and rebuilding funds available to residents in Texas and Florida.

    Lawmakers approved a $15-billion hurricane relief packaged after Harvey hit Texas, but billions more will likely now be needed to respond to Maria.

    Ryan said Monday that Congress will ensure the people of Puerto Rico “have what they need.”

    Singer Marc Anthony, meanwhile, had some scathing words for Trump, pleading with the president to forget about football and focus instead on hurricane-hammered Puerto Rico.

    Anthony tweeted on Monday night: “Mr. President shut the f--- up about NFL. Do something about our people in need in #PuertoRico. We are American Citizens too.”

    The 49-year-old singer was born in New York, but his parents are from Puerto Rico, which was hit hard by Hurricane Maria.

    Anthony is one of many entertainers with Puerto Rican roots trying to summon support. Hamilton star Lin-Manuel tweeted that he's “texting every famous Puerto Rican singer I know and several I don't.”


    As millions struggle for basic necessities after Hurricane Maria, Trump tweeted about Puerto Rico's debtAs millions struggle for basic necessities after Hurricane Maria, Trump tweeted about Puerto Rico's debt

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    The company that owns Glen Abbey Golf Course announced Monday that it has filed an application to demolish the site.

    In a letter sent to the Town of Oakville, ClubLink lawyer Mark Flowers said the company “will be proceeding with an application to the Town under section 34 of the Ontario Heritage Act to remove the golf course and demolish all buildings on the lands other than those that are proposed to be retained under ClubLink’s redevelopment proposal.

    The RayDor Estate House, which is currently leased to Golf Canada for its offices, the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame and Museum, and the Stables would be spared.

    The golf giant is hoping to build 3,222 residential units including nine nine-to-12 storey apartment buildings on the Glen Abbey Golf Course property at 1333 Dorval Dr.

    This proposal has created a great deal of concern among area residents, who fear what the development will do to traffic levels in the area.

    Others worry about the loss of green space, some have a problem with the proposed development’s density levels while others do not want to see a world-class golf course leave Oakville.

    Flowers said the demolition application was in response to the Aug. 21 decision by Oakville’s Planning and Development Council to pass a notice of intention to designate the entire 92-hectacre property under the Ontario Heritage Act.

    Experts cited the fact the course was designed by golf superstar Jack Nicklaus and its “spoke-and-wheel” design as evidence of cultural significance worth preserving.

    ClubLink officials called the council decision extremely broad and overreaching.

    They also noted they would not be appealing that decision because recommendations by the Conservation Review Board, which would hear the matter, are not binding on the Town.

    This decision not to appeal didn’t stop ClubLink from lashing out about the notice to designate.

    “The Town’s insistence that the entire golf course has heritage value and that the removal of the golf course cannot conserve the heritage resource might mean that ClubLink would be required to operate and maintain the golf course in perpetuity,” said ClubLink Chair and CEO Rai Sahi in a press release.

    “That’s simply not how the Ontario Heritage Act works.”

    Oakville Mayor Rob Burton says he’s not surprised by ClubLink’s demolition application.

    “The lands are currently deemed to be designated under Section 33 of the Heritage Act,” he said. “The applicant appears to be following the prescribed procedure to begin the process to seek approval for demolition of a designated property. Council will give this new application the consideration it is due within the required timeframe of 90 days from completion of the requirements.”

    It should be noted that if council rules against ClubLink in the demolition matter, ClubLink would have the option of appealing to the Ontario Municipal Board.

    The application to demolish Glen Abbey comes as the Town prepares to consider ClubLink’s development plans for the site at its Tuesday special council meeting.

    Town staff has recommended council refuse this development request.

    In the same press release that ClubLink announced it had applied to demolish Glen Abbey Golf Course, the company also called on the Town to get on board with the development proposal.

    The developer again noted that 54 per cent of the overall site would be preserved as publicly accessible green space and that ClubLink would pay $126 million in development charges.

    “This is an incredible opportunity and an enormous public benefit for the people of Oakville and the surrounding regions,” Sahi said.

    “Oakville Council should not miss this opportunity to take ownership of these lands for the public benefit.”


    ClubLink applies to demolish Glen Abbey golf courseClubLink applies to demolish Glen Abbey golf course

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    A 27-year-old Kitchener man has been charged with tossing a Molotov cocktail into a Vaughan bakery last June, one of more than a dozen violent incidents investigated by GTA organized crime police this summer.

    A window of the Di Manno Bakery on Buttermill Avenue in the Jane Street and Highway 7 area was broken and York Regional Police reported finding a canister containing an accelerant inside at 1:30 a.m. on June 12.

    That same night, the front door of a home on Mellings Drive in Vaughan was fired upon.

    Then, just two months later on Aug. 7, the garage of the house was fired on.

    York Regional Police responded to the Mellings Drive residence that night to find bullet holes in the garage.

    And two weeks after that, arson investigators were called after it was fully engulfed in flames in late August.

    The house was unoccupied and under guard at the time of the fire and shootings, and there were no injuries in any of the attacks.

    Property records show the Mellings Drive house belongs to Maria Arevalo and Giuseppe Cuntrera. It was bought in May 2005 for $785,000.

    Police are also investigating an attempted arson at the home of Cuntrera’s uncle in August.

    The Caffe Corretto in Vaughan was destroyed by an explosion in late June.

    Days before that, the Hamilton home of baker Pasquale (Pat) Musitano was sprayed with bullets.

    On May 2, Musitano’s younger brother, Angelo Musitano, was shot to death in the driveway of his home in Waterdown while his wife and preschool-aged children were inside.

    The brothers pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder in the fatal shooting death of Niagara crime boss Carmen Barillaro in 1997.

    They were initially also accused of hiring a hitman to kill Hamilton Mob boss Johnny “Pops’ Papalia in 1997.

    Immediately after the Di Manno Bakery incident, police appealed for anyone with dashcam video from the area to come forward.

    Rustam Suleimanov is scheduled to appear in Newmarket court on Thursday to face charges of arson causing damage to property and break and enter.

    He was arrested in Kitchener with the assistance of Waterloo Regional Police officers.


    Kitchener man arrested in Vaughan bakery bombingKitchener man arrested in Vaughan bakery bombing

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    TD Bank estimates increasing Ontario’s hourly minimum wage to $15 could cost the province up to 90,000 jobs.

    “Ontario’s bold plan to raise the minimum wage by one-third over the next 18 months has fueled much debate about its potential impact on Canada’s largest economy,” the bank reports in its economic assessment released Tuesday.

    “Raising the minimum wage can potentially generate more benefits to society than costs in terms of any resulting job lost. However, the relatively rapid speed of the implementation and its timing within the economic cycle are two factors that will likely accentuate the negative hit to Ontario employment,” TD warned.

    “Our baseline job forecast builds in a net reduction in jobs of around 80,000 to 90,000 positions by the end of the decade,” said the bank, conceding the overall workforce would continue to rise after the $11.40 hourly rate jumps to $14 next year and $15 in 2019.

    “The estimated job impacts would still leave employment expanding over the next few years, but, at a tepid clip of around 0.5 per cent annually.”

    TD, which last month reported its quarterly profits skyrocketed by 17 per cent to $2.77 billion, to “extend the implementation period by at least two years, to 2021.”

    As well, it recommends “differentiated minimum wages across Ontario in order to alleviate adverse side effects.”

    That would say a $15 rate in Toronto, where the cost of living is higher, but “in Windsor, an $11-$12 level would be more appropriate.”

    Premier Kathleen Wynne dismissed the bank’s projections, which come after the province’s Financial Accountability Office estimated 50,000 jobs could be lost.

    “We have duelling economists on this issue,” said Wynne.

    “I have been very clear that in a province as wealthy as Ontario, to have people who are working full time at maybe two jobs and still having to go to the food bank . . . is unacceptable,” she said.

    “And that’s why we’re raising the minimum wage.”


    TD warns raising minimum wage could cost 90,000 jobsTD warns raising minimum wage could cost 90,000 jobs

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    Some city councillors are questioning the salary of Toronto Hydro’s million-dollar man.

    Hydro chief executive Anthony Haines earned, according to regulatory filings, a total of $1,041,138 last year, $522,286 of it in base salary plus performance bonuses and incentives worth $508,551, as well as $6,967 in benefits and $3,334 in perquisite expenses.

    The next highest paid executive at the city-owned electrical utility was Dino Priore, executive vice-president and chief engineering and construction officer, who earned $521,238, including $192,889 in performance bonuses and incentives. Total pay disclosed for three other executives ranged from $460,218 to $280,643.

    Haines’s pay packet dwarfs those of other big earners at the City of Toronto and its arm’s-length agencies. For comparison, Mayor John Tory last year earned $186,044.32; city manager Peter Wallace $362,877.11; TTC chief executive Andy Byford $354.809.70; and John Tracogna, chief executive of Toronto Zoo, $252,360.76.

    At executive committee Tuesday, Councillor David Shiner tore a strip off another Hydro executive vice-president, Chris Tyrrell, who went to city hall to answer questions about an agenda item on Hydro’s annual general meeting and 2016 audited financial statements.

    Shiner said Haines, himself, should have appeared before Mayor John Tory and his executive to answer questions.

    The councillor demanded to know when Hydro will respond to a July 2016 directive to give council a comparison of the salaries of the utility’s executives with those of other public sector equivalents and to explain why some bonuses and incentives are way over the council-directed bonus maximum of 25 per cent of base salary.

    “Why are the bonuses for senior executives almost 100 per cent, and some of the others 60 per cent, when we say 25 per cent, and where does that come from?” Shiner asked Tyrell, noting the city last year agreed to inject $200 million into Hydro to solve a cash crunch and protect the utility’s credit rating.

    Tyrrell said Hydro hired a consultant to examine the pay of the utility’s executive pay. The resulting report will go to Hydro’s annual general meeting and then to the city manager in November and then to city council.

    Asked by Shiner to provide the instructions given to the consultant so that he’ll know what questions to ask when the report lands, Tyrrell told him, “I’d have to take that back to the (Hydro) board.”

    Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, who sits on Hydro’s board, defended the utility for being slow in reporting back with financial information, saying, “They’re not the only ones,” and pointing a finger at Toronto Parking Authority and Build Toronto.

    Minnan-Wong continued, “Hydro salaries are very generous. They are the highest in any organization here at the city or any other agency, board or commission.

    “We have our first employee who makes over $1 million, and that’s certain to get attention . . . . I have made my views known on the (Hydro) board. Let’s have a vigorous discussion when (the consultant report) comes forward and not jump to conclusions.”

    Haines, who heads the province’s third-biggest electrical utility, is not the only Hydro executive in Ontario to face salary questions. Mayo Schmidt, the head of Hydro One, earned $4.4 million in salary and bonuses last year.

    In an interview, Shiner said taxpayers need to be assured that total pay for executives of city-owned agencies is “reasonable and appropriate for the work they are doing.”

    “When I sat on the board of Toronto Hydro (starting in the early 2000s), the senior staff were making half of what they are now, and I’m concerned it might be out of line,” Shiner said. “I don’t know why any of our staff should be making $1 million a year for running a regulated company that receives the power from the provincial grid and distributes it throughout the city.”

    Hydro spokesperson Brian Buchan said, in a statement, that the utility has been “very responsive” to council demands for information on executive pay and is ahead of a deadline to report back by the end of 2017.

    As for the base pay and bonuses, themselves, he said, “It is important to look at relevant comparators when considering what appropriate compensation is. That’s why the study is being done for the city manager and council . . . so the right analysis can be made.

    “The appropriateness of compensation for Mr. Haines and other executives are contained within the report, and it would not be appropriate for me to comment on that until the report has been approved, submitted, presented by the city manager and scrutinized through the process set by city council.”


    Toronto Hydro CEO faces questions over pay of more than $1 millionToronto Hydro CEO faces questions over pay of more than $1 million

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    OTTAWA—The U.S. Department of Commerce has clobbered aerospace giant Bombardier with a hefty 219 per cent duty on the sale of its CS100 commercial jets to a U.S. airline following a trade complaint from an American rival.

    The department ruled that Bombardier benefited from improper government subsidies, a finding that deals a blow to the Montreal-based company’s chances in its ongoing dispute with U.S. rival Boeing.

    Boeing had complained that Bombardier inked a deal with Delta Air Lines for up to 125 of the jets by offering the planes at below-market price.

    The financial penalties aren’t officially due until Bombardier delivers the first CS100 to Delta some time in the spring.

    The key will be whether U.S. officials find that the deal between Bombardier and Delta actually hurt Boeing’s business, an issue that’s not expected to yield a finding for at least six months.

    But today’s ruling does give Boeing momentum as the dispute drags on, and more leverage in any future talks between the Trudeau government and Boeing to reach a negotiated settlement.

    Meanwhile, European railway manufacturers Siemens Mobility and Alstom announced a merger Tuesday that leaves Montreal-based rail business Bombardier Transportation facing a substantially larger rival.

    The memorandum of understanding announced Tuesday is described as a merger of equals with each owning half the shares of the new company to be headquartered in Paris. The Mobility Solutions business will be run out of Berlin.

    The combined company to be called Siemens Alstom will have $18 billion (U.S.) in revenues and $1.4 billion in adjusted EBIT. Annual cost savings of $554.2 million are expected four years after closing.

    Alstom SA and Siemens AG said the two businesses are largely complementary in terms of activities and geographies.

    “We put the European idea to work and together with our friends at Alstom, we are creating a new European champion in the rail industry for the long-term,” stated Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser in a news release.

    “This will give our customers around the world a more innovative and more competitive portfolio.”

    He said the global market has changed with the creation of a dominant competitor in China and digitalization.

    However, analyst Cameron Doerksen of National Bank Financial said Bombardier Transportation can still succeed as a standalone company.

    In fact, John Zechner, chair of Toronto-based investment management firm J. Zechner Associates, says that the emergence of a new rail partnership gobbling up rail and light transit contracts across Europe could heighten the importance of the Toronto and other North American deals for Bombardier.

    Bombardier Transportation would be the world’s third-largest railway company with a strong presence in France, Germany and Britain. It has a four-year backlog of orders and is moving towards an eight per cent EBIT margin.

    While a trade war with Boeing and a bulked up Siemens/Alstom partnership creates new headwinds for Bombardier, the company has not indicated any further delays in its delivery schedule for low-floor Toronto Transit Commission streetcars as a result, said TTC spokesman Stuart Green.

    Bombardier Transportation communications head Marc-André Lefebvre reiterated that the company is on track to deliver the entire fleet of streetcars a deadline of the end of 2019, citing the deployment of extraordinary resources to the effort.

    “As we stated in July, in all transparency we’ve informed the TTC months ahead that there is a potential challenge to meeting the full target of 70 streetcars for 2017,” he said in an email.

    After delivery delays, the current contract between the TTC and Bombardier calls for delivery of 204 low-floor cars first ordered in 2009 to arrive by 2019, including 70 by the end of this year. The deal offers up an option to purchase another 60 cars at the same price per car as the original contract.

    The potential rail partnership and the Boeing complaint cast a shadow over Bombardier’s largest business units, although analysts say an immediate impact on operations and jobs is unlikely.

    Zechner also suggested that Bombardier could use other means to move C-Series jets into the U.S., with Macquarie analyst Konark Gupta saying in a note that the company might resort to offshore leases that are not subject to C-Series duties.

    Union representatives of Bombardier workers, meanwhile, said the Boeing case highlights flaws in Canada’s trade agreements and the ability of big companies to use trade rules and the complaint processes to control the market.

    “Who pays the price for these corporate fights? We do, the workers,” said Unifor Local 112 president Scott McIlmoyle during a rally last week at the Bombardier aerospace plant in Downsview.

    Bombardier employs more than 24,000 people in Canada directly and at supplier facilities, with an estimated 40,000 spin off jobs.

    “Boeing’s actions put good jobs, jobs that help to build our communities, at risk,” added Maryellen McIlmoyle, president of Unifor Local 673.

    With a file from Michael Lewis


    Commerce Department gives Bombardier 219% duty on sale of jets to U.S. airlineCommerce Department gives Bombardier 219% duty on sale of jets to U.S. airline

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    Max Tutiven killed Jayesh Prajapati while committing a “gas-and-dash” theft, but he did not intend to hurt anyone, a jury heard Tuesday, as Tutiven took the stand in his second-degree murder trial.

    During his testimony, Tutiven admitted to driving the SUV that hit Prajapati and dragged him for 78 metres on the night of Sept. 15, 2012.

    He admitted to stealing gas from the Shell station where Prajapati worked.

    But, Tutiven testified, he never saw Prajapati approach his SUV, and when he heard something being dragged under his vehicle, he assumed it was a road pylon.

    Prajapati was working in the kiosk of a Shell station near Eglinton Ave. W. and Allen Rd. when he saw the driver of a silver SUV pulling away from the pump without paying for $112.85 worth of gas, the Crown has said during the weeklong trial.

    Prajapati, a husband and father, ran out to try to stop the driver from getting away, but was hit by the SUV and dragged to his death.

    Tutiven, 44, has pleaded not guilty to the charge of second-degree murder, which requires that the accused person intended to kill their victim.

    On Tuesday, Tutiven laid out his version of the events leading to Prajapati’s death, as Prajapati’s wife listened with the help of an interpreter from her seat in the centre of the courtroom, and Tutiven’s mother looked on.

    “I’ve been waiting for this moment five years,” Tutiven said, composing his thoughts early in his testimony.

    Tutiven pulled up to the Shell station intending to steal gas, as he had done every three to four days, at various gas stations, since he was 16 years old, he said.

    After filling his SUV’s tank and two jerry cans, he looked up to see Prajapati in the gas station kiosk serving customers, and decided it was safe to drive off without being caught.

    But, when Tutiven tried to pull out, there was a black car parked at the pump in front of him, blocking his path, he told the court. Tutiven reversed his SUV and tried to drive around the black car, turning to look out his driver’s side window so he could make sure his left bumper hadn’t hit the other vehicle.

    At no time did he see Prajapati, Tutiven said.

    He thought he could hear someone yell, “Stop, stop,” but assumed it was the attendant calling through a window in the kiosk, he said.

    He did not think it was possible that Prajapati could have made it from the kiosk to his SUV in the short amount of time since he had seen the attendant dealing with customers, he said.

    As Tutiven pulled out of the gas station and onto Roselawn Ave. he heard a dragging sound under his car and assumed it was a pylon, though he had not seen a pylon at the gas station.

    Tutiven, who lived in Montreal but made frequent visits to his hometown of Toronto, then drove straight back to the room he had rented for the weekend in North York.

    Hours later he was woken up by a call from his father, who told him police and come by to look for him, but did not tell him why, Tutiven said.

    Tutiven only learned someone had been killed, and that he was a suspect, while at a friend’s house in Kingston two days later, he testified.

    He abandoned the SUV in Kingston and returned by bus to Montreal where he remained until his arrest in 2015, he said.

    “There (was) no point in me turning myself in, there is no benefit of me turning myself in . . . except that I spend more time in jail,” Tutiven told the court, adding that he believed his arrest was “inevitable.”

    Tutiven has about 40 criminal convictions to his name, for such crimes as assault, car theft and possession of stolen property, the court heard.

    His main source of income at the time involved defrauding cellphone companies to resell used phones, he said. He would also occasionally work with friends to steal cars from dealerships or break into warehouses to rob them, he testified.

    During cross-examination Tuesday, Crown attorney Joseph Callaghan argued Tutiven’s testimony could simply be a demonstration of his criminal ability to fool people.

    “You are quite successful at lying, deceiving, defrauding to get your way,” Callaghan told Tutiven.

    “You’re trying to make this jury your next sucker,” he added.

    Tutiven disagreed, saying his crimes were not an indication that he is untruthful.

    “Does stealing a car make me dishonest? Does it make me a liar?” Tutiven asked.

    The Crown will continue cross-examining Tutiven on Wednesday.


    Accused murderer admits he drove SUV that killed gas station worker in ‘gas-and-dash’ theftAccused murderer admits he drove SUV that killed gas station worker in ‘gas-and-dash’ theft

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    Four hundred and ninety-two American civilians shot and killed by law enforcement in the first six months of 2017.

    Dead on pace to equal the nearly 1,000 killed in 2016. And 2015. Twice as many as ever previously recorded by the FBI.

    Black males account for 26 per cent of unarmed people killed by cops — 32 per cent last year — from January through June, despite comprising only six per cent of the U.S. population.

    Those dreadful statistics come from the Washington Post, which has been tracking fatal police shootings in an ongoing project. But they pretty much match figures documented by other media organizations, such as the Guardian, that have undertaken similar endeavours.

    And that is what quarterback Colin Kaepernick was protesting against when he balanced on one knee during a pre-game national anthem last season: police brutality, the tragically disproportionate loss of Black lives in cop shootings.

    Not the flag.

    Not the troops who fight — and die — under that flag.

    Not “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

    Not the president, the First Citizen of the U.S.A., as Donald Trump so ruinously became.

    It was a brave and virtuous gesture, aligning himself with — bringing attention to — the social injustices and systematic oppression suffered by Black Americans.

    Kaepernick had at first sat on the bench during the anthem and nobody noticed. Only after discussions with Nate Boyer, a retired Green Beret and former NFL player, did Kaepernick take a knee instead — specifically as a respectful, peaceful posture. As teammate Eric Reid, who joined Kaepernick in taking a knee, recently wrote for the New York Times: “I remember thinking our posture was like a flag flown at half-mast to mark a tragedy.”

    And now Kaepernick can’t get an NFL job.

    None of those team owners who actually and symbolically locked arms with some 200 protesting players on Sunday and Monday have seen fit to sign Kaepernick as either a backup or third-string QB.

    They are hypocrites.

    They are among NFL franchise owners who, with the league, donated at least $7.5 million of the $106 million raised for Trump’s inaugural festivities, according to public records. And hundreds of thousands more to Trump’s campaign.

    One million dollars, the record shows, was contributed by Shahid Kahn, Pakistani-American Muslim billionaire owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, who took the field in London arm-in-arm with his players. He voted for Trump, despite the candidate’s anti-Muslim bile on the campaign trail.

    If those owners, now in purported lock-step solidarity with their players, gave a fig about racial injustice, they would not have blackballed Kaepernick or waited until this most odious of commanders-in-chief challenged their own feudal sovereignty over football: “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now!” Trump bellowed at a rally in Huntsville, Alabama, last Friday, frothing in his directive of what owners should do with the kneelers. “Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!”

    The owners’ belated opposition doesn’t have a damn thing to do with civil rights, Black lives lost or freedom of speech, whatever they may say from their suddenly elevated plinth as righteous dissenters. They’re just infuriated that Trump should tell them how to run their antitrust business.

    Not a one of them — or, for that matter, millions of other Americans who were just fine with it — called out Trump for embracing ascendant neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

    For the NFL, this is also a long-simmering payback for the costly damage Trump caused when he bought the New Jersey Generals of the new United States Football League in 1984 and then tried to force a merger with the NFL, resulting in an antitrust law suit that the NFL actually lost.

    It’s business; a pissing contest among billionaires. It’s definitely not about principles.

    But Trump isn’t a stupid man. His tirade — and the 19 related presidential tweets (as of this writing) spewed since Friday — was a direct incitement to his angry white base, those who’ve either willingly or moronically bought into Trump’s viciously mutated rendering of the knee protests.

    It is a complete distortion of the facts, not that facts count for a hill of beans with this president. He’s transposed patriotism and respecting the flag with, you know, a bunch of rich uppity Black athletes who should be grateful for their fortunes. There’s no coincidence to Trump vilifying players in a predominantly Black sports league, the NFL, and then extending his smear to the NBA, the other predominantly Black sports league. While the NHL, via the Pittsburgh Penguins, plays mealy-mouthed nice. And just one major league ballplayer — a biracial backup catcher — has seen fit to follow his conscience. Major League Baseball, where, 70 years after Jackie Robinson broke the colour barrier, there were merely 58 African-American players on the 2017 Opening Day rosters, including the disabled list. In 1956, Robinson’s last year in the majors, African Americans constituted 6.7 per cent of roster players. This season, according to MLB, the figure is 7.7 per cent. Two clubs had none on opening day.

    America’s pastime.

    Conveniently, and no doubt cunningly, Trump took the news cycle hostage, distracting from all the bad news pouring out of his White House: collapse of the GOP health care bill to replace Obamacare; revelation that Ivanka Trump, husband Jared Kushner and at least three other Trump advisers have used personal email accounts to conduct government business — the essence of all that JAIL HER! pitchforking of Hillary Clinton; the appearance of long-time Trump confidante Roger Stone before the House intelligence committee investigating collusion with Russia interference in the 2016 election.

    Let’s play boost the flag jingoism instead, orchestrated by a president who took five draft deferments — four for college and one for bad feet.

    As if Old Glory was the exclusive purview of the military and not flying equally for 323.1 million Americans.

    Hand over heart, just as those valiant footballers did.

    “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

    Justice for all my son-of-a-bitch ass.

    Rosie DiManno usually appears Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.


    Trump takes the news cycle hostage with his tirade against NFL players: DiMannoTrump takes the news cycle hostage with his tirade against NFL players: DiManno

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    Two members of the Weeknd’s tour crew are reported to be under investigation for sexual assault while on tour with the R&B star in Columbus, Ohio.

    The alleged assault, TMZ reported Tuesday, occurred early on Sept. 20, after singer’s show Sept. 19 at the city’s Schottenstein Centre, on the campus of Ohio State University.

    The Weeknd — alias Toronto’s own Abel Tesfaye — had reportedly already left the area at the time of the assault, and is in no way implicated in the accusations.

    The victim of the assault reported the incident to OSU campus police the day after the concert, TMZ reported.

    The suspects are reportedly temporary members of the tour crew hired city by city, not formal members of the crew. Live Nation and a tour manager for the Weeknd’s label XO confirmed in a joint statement to TMZ that the staff members were terminated from their positions following the accusations.

    A police report posted by TMZ lists “hands, feet, and teeth” as “weapons” allegedly used in the assault.


    Members of the Weeknd’s tour crew investigated for sexual assaultMembers of the Weeknd’s tour crew investigated for sexual assault

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    A 22-year-old Toronto man is facing charges after police alleged he posed as a travel agent and scammed several travellers into buying fraudulent tickets from him last summer.

    Police said in a release on Tuesday that the travellers bought airline tickets ranging in price from $400 to $3,000, by Interac e-transfer from a travel agent between June and August.

    These travellers were able to check the airline website and confirm their bookings. But, police said, the fraudulent bookings would be cancelled days later because of issues with a credit card used to book them.

    Police said the fraudulent travel agent, who allegedly used several aliases, including Jack Chen and Jason Wang, was able to deposit the e-transfers for the tickets into his own bank account.

    Police said they’re concerned that there are other victims.

    Hangfeng Zhang, 22, was charged on Tuesday with two counts each of fraud under $5,000 and possession of property obtained by crime under $5,000.

    He is due in court on November 9.


    Toronto man charged in travel agent scamToronto man charged in travel agent scam

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    WASHINGTON—Iranian state television played a video of a missile launch. Donald Trump saw an opportunity to claim vindication.

    “Iran just test-fired a Ballistic Missile capable of reaching Israel,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Saturday. “They are also working with North Korea. Not much of an agreement we have!”

    Turns out the test never happened.

    Trump-friendly Fox News reported Monday that U.S. officials say the Iranian report was a fake, the launch footage from a failed test in January. CNN quickly confirmed with its own government sources: the U.S. president had been duped by an adversary.

    In some other era, such an error would have been a significant news story. In the Trump era, it barely registered.

    There is too much else going on.

    America is being buried in a White House news avalanche, much of it triggered by the president’s own explosions and missteps. The astonishing volume of Trump-related daily developments has obscured events that would previously have merited intense coverage, leaving Trump’s allies and foes alike scrambling to adjust to a media era unlike any other.

    “Controversies that used to take place over several weeks and occupy centre stage are now merely one storyline out of half a dozen that are washing through the daily or weekly news cycle. We’ve had days where a potential nuclear confrontation with North Korea is the second or third story in the news,” Kevin Madden, former top spokesperson for presidential candidate Mitt Romney, told the Star on Tuesday.

    One of those days was Monday.

    North Korea’s foreign minister announced that, in the regime’s view, Trump had “declared a war” by tweeting that the regime “won’t be around much longer” if it continues to speak the way dictator Kim Jong Un has spoken. He added that they now have the right to shoot down U.S. bombers even outside of North Korean airspace.

    This did not lead the evening news.

    CBS and ABC began with Trump’s ongoing attack on NFL players who kneel during the national anthem to protest racism and police misconduct. NBC began with the post-hurricane humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico, which has itself been obscured by the emotional battle over the protesters.

    Trump’s ban on travellers from some Muslim-majority countries generated furious protest and a Supreme Court case when it was first introduced in January. The updated version issued on Sunday— which extended the ban from 90 days to indefinite — prompted just a single question at the White House press briefing on Monday, the day after it was introduced.

    There were three briefing questions about the travel habits of Trump’s health secretary, Tom Price, whom Politico reported has spent more than $400,000 on private jets after experiencing a single airport delay while flying commercial.

    The website Vox called it a “scandal,” but it wasn’t being widely treated as one yet. One New York Times article on the controversy ran on the 18th page of the printed paper. Others did not make print at all.

    Late Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Trump blasted Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a private meeting with conservative leaders. And the New York Times reported that senior Trump aides had used personal email accounts for official business.

    Both of these remarkable Trump stories appeared certain to be crowded out by all the other Trump stories.

    “Trump is a permanent political eclipse that blacks out good news, bad news and everything in between,” said Democratic strategist Craig Varoga. Varoga said Democrats should try to turn Trump’s chaos against Republican candidates in the 2018 midterm elections, making a “patriotic appeal to all voters, of all political persuasions, to restore calm and stability as a prerequisite to growing the economy, creating jobs and avoiding war.”

    But it has been hard for Democrats to drive home any kind of message since Trump’s emergence in 2015.

    In her new book, Hillary Clinton lamented that her campaign’s jobs message in 2016 was drowned out by Trump’s relentless feud-picking. On Twitter in 2017, average liberals complain daily that Trump is successfully distracting the public from damaging stories. And anti-Trump grassroots activists say they frequently feel overwhelmed by the pace of the news.

    “Every day. Every day. Don’t you? I mean, it’s just madness,” said Pat Fogg, founder of RESIST Central Maine.

    Some prominent Democrats say the concern about the short shelf life of Trump-era controversy is overblown. Despite a September uptick in support, he is hovering around the woeful first-year plateau of 40 per cent.

    “The challenge for the Democrats is to weave these stories into a coherent narrative about Trump and the Republicans. It’s a work in progress, but Trump’s abysmal approval ratings suggest that the public is not missing the forest for the trees,” said Dan Pfeiffer, former White House communications director for Barack Obama.

    It is not only Democrats fretting. Republican members of Congress gripe that the president’s impulsive musings and tirades are impeding the policy messages they are trying to communicate themselves. In the days leading up to Trump’s major Wednesday speech on the party’s tax reform plan, the president has relentlesslytalkedand tweeted about the NFL.

    Fogg said her Maine group focuses on the issues they think they can impact, knowing there is “not much we can do” about much of the rest. Ben Wikler, a Washington director for major progressive group MoveOn.org , said they too subscribe to “the political equivalent of the Serenity Prayer”: ignoring the “blizzard of outrages” they can’t change to choose the important fights where people power can matter.

    “Trump has demonstrated in his campaign, and continues to show, that his most powerful weapon is changing the subject to the topic of his choosing. But for people who believe the GOP agenda has to be stopped, our job is to cut through the noise and figure out where we can make a difference,” Wikler said.


    Donald Trump is burying America in an avalanche of news (and it’s all important)Donald Trump is burying America in an avalanche of news (and it’s all important)Donald Trump is burying America in an avalanche of news (and it’s all important)Donald Trump is burying America in an avalanche of news (and it’s all important)Donald Trump is burying America in an avalanche of news (and it’s all important)Donald Trump is burying America in an avalanche of news (and it’s all important)Donald Trump is burying America in an avalanche of news (and it’s all important)Donald Trump is burying America in an avalanche of news (and it’s all important)

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    Where on the emotional spectrum do relief and elation meet? On Tuesday it was at 401 Richmond, the much-loved arts and culture haven that’s been at the centre of a property tax snafu for almost a year.

    The provincial government announced Tuesday morning that it’s willing to work with the city to create a brand-new tax class for buildings like 401, which rents out studio spaces at well below market rates. It was hit with a massive property tax assessment last year that would have endangered its business strategy, one that’s grown increasingly alien in the red hot property market: nurturing community.

    That’s what 401 Richmond has always done. When UrbanSpace, the company formed to acquire and salvage the disused factory at the corner of Richmond St. W. and Spadina Ave. in 1992, took on the tumbledown building, it wasn’t an exercise in long-term property speculation. In time, it was repurposed as an artfully disheveled home for artists, non-profit cultural organizations, galleries and small craftspeople, the vision its owner, Margie Zeidler, had had all along.

    It quickly became a refuge for such tenants as property values elsewhere skyrocketed. As the building led an urban renaissance through the late 1990s and early 2000s, new condominiums and commercial spaces began to bloom all around it, pricing out their peers as one property after another was either demolished or changed hands.

    But 401 wouldn’t be immune to its own success. By 2012, the neighbourhood had become a thriving hub, and property values told the tale. 401, which had cruised along with tax increases of about 1 percent annually per year, saw its taxes balloon by 90 percent between 2012 and 2017, from $446,689 to $846,211 this year.

    UrbanSpace had absorbed most of the increases itself as it pleaded with the Municipal Property Tax Assessment corporation for relief, but little seemed forthcoming. This year, it began passing the weight of the burden onto tenants, many of whom saw their monthly tax bill immediately double (commercial tenants often pay property taxes apart from their rent).

    With taxes set to increase by another 50 percent, to $1,286,800, by 2020, 401’s status as the lone holdover from an era where the central core of the city could house anything other than corporate offices and high-end chain retail seemed unlikely.

    Read more:Toronto arts hub 401 Richmond getting property tax relief

    In a city where value has almost always been calculated by the hard measure of dollars, not the softer notion of kinship and community, 401 was always an anomaly. In the new world order of highest-and-best use — MPAC’s measure for tax assessment — it was a radical outlier, a sudden misfit in the vibrant sector of the city it had helped to create.

    Remarkably, in this era where the market has ruled every aspect of urban development — ask any developer about height restrictions, and they’ll tell you about the Ontario Municipal Board — the city saw the value of difference, and mobilized quickly to put in some stops. It re-designated portions of the building — its broad hallways, open gallery space, a courtyard, a garden — as a community benefit, offering some tax relief.

    But the brass ring was a new class of property tax, specifically for buildings where the landlord had put aside market rent in favour of incubating culture and community. To do this, it would need to be written into provincial tax code; laws would need to be changed.

    As of Tuesday morning, the province has signaled that it’s ready to do that, and the change could well be profound.

    “This is a game changer for tons of small cultural organizations,” said Karen Carter, the executive director of Myseum of Toronto, a non-profit organization focused on Toronto history, and a tenant at 401.

    “Something had to give. For us, it might have meant moving, and now that means out of the city centre, because there’s no way we could afford it. That means moving away from where you can be most effective. And then what? What this does is it stops the city from being gutted to its core.”

    It’s critical to note that this isn’t a law to benefit 401 Richmond. Under the current tax regime, building owners who weren’t maximizing profits through sky-high rents or redevelopment had a gun to their heads. They were being taxed for that building anyway, so why not sell and let someone build it? What that always means is an old building sacrificed for new, and eclectic use supplanted by homogenizing forces of market rates.

    With the new tax class — which the city must now formally request — owners of old buildings can ease their tax burden by having a say in how their buildings are used. Arts and culture hubs will get breaks proportionate to the revenue they choose to collect, at-market or not. It’s the argument 401 and its supporters have made all along.

    The tax class is yet to be written, of course, but it seems fair to hope that at the very least it will cease to be punitive to landlords with altruistic intentions. It will be province-wide, providing real alternatives to property owners where previously there had been none.

    A very real concern is the damage already done. Many buildings have faced mass evictions when tax burdens and market forces combined to make small creative tenants like artists unwanted burdens. A mass eviction last fall at 224 Wallace was simply the market taking its course; a similar purge at 213 Sterling Road last winter was another symptom of a larger affliction.

    If the city and the province had identified the problem sooner — and this is not a new thing, with gentrification and displacement having been a transformative wave over downtown for more than a decade — how many of these buildings might yet remain? And why did it take an emblematic building like 401 to move the province to action?

    Even there, a problem remains. Tax increases have already pushed many tenants near the breaking point. New tax law isn’t written overnight, and relief, for them, will be far from instant, if it comes at all.

    UrbanSpace successfully applied for reassessment from MPAC, reducing its assessed value from $57.6 million to $33.2 million, which will mean tax refunds for bills paid as far back as 2013. But the company had absorbed years of increases to that point, shielding tenants from the worst of it until it could bear no more.

    “We’re obviously thrilled but there’s still a lot of work to be done,” said Jennifer Bhogal, the executive director of Open Studio, 401’s largest tenant. “There may be a brighter future for buildings like these, but as tenants here and now, we’re in the same spot today as we were yesterday.”


    Tax relief is good news for 401 Richmond — but what took so long?Tax relief is good news for 401 Richmond — but what took so long?Tax relief is good news for 401 Richmond — but what took so long?Tax relief is good news for 401 Richmond — but what took so long?

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