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TOPSTORIES

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    As pre-game protests spread through the NFL on Sunday, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin thought he would focus on football by keeping his team in the locker room while the national anthem played in Chicago.

    Tomlin hoped to keep the Steelers out of a long-simmering conflict over race, patriotism and pro football that boiled over late last week when U.S. president Donald Trump urged NFL teams to cut players who demonstrated during the national anthem.

    Less than a day later Paul Smith, a volunteer fire chief in suburban Pittsburgh, posted his reaction on Facebook.

    “Tomlin just added to the list of no good N------,” he wrote. “Yes I said it.”

    Smith’s comments remind us that the backlash to African-American NFL players opting out of the pre-game anthem by sitting or taking a knee was never about respect for the military, or the idea that sports and politics shouldn’t mix.

    Like the protests themselves, opposition to demonstrations by players like Colin Kaepernick have always been about race.

    More accurately, they’re about racism, which is crucial to remember as player protests morph into all-inclusive demonstrations of unity and threaten to dilute the movement’s impact.

    Kaepernick, like WNBA players before him and NFLers who came afterward, specifically targeted systemic racism and police brutality against Black people in his initial protests last August. The concept of unity, reintroduced to the conversation this weekend, is the latest in a series of diversions seeking to derail the dialogue on racial justice Kaepernick and others hoped to trigger by demonstrating.

    Trump forced the issue back into headlines last Friday when, speaking at a campaign rally for a Republican primary candidate in Alabama, he energized the largely white crowd by telling them NFL team owners should fire “sons of bitches” who protest during the national anthem. In subsequent statements, Trump has insisted that the protests dishonoured the U.S. flag and military, and that his outburst was unrelated to race.

    Yet with Trump, race often ripples just below the surface.

    While he unequivocally trashed Black athletes who protest the anthem, Trump hesitated to disavow white supremacists like David Duke, who publicly supported his campaign for president. He also demurred rather than denounce deadly Neo-Nazi protesters in Charlottesville, Va., arguing the group contained “very fine people.”

    When ESPN anchor Jemele Hill, an African-American woman, described Trump as a white supremacist during Twitter conversation, the president and his aides demanded the network apologize and fire her. They urged no such action, however, when national magazines like Time and the New Yorker depicted him as a white supremacist on their covers.

    Trump’s blatant and subtle appeals to racial bias help explain how he garnered 58 per cent of the white vote in last November’s election, winning the support of both working class whites and the wealthy whites who compose the majority of the NFL’s ownership class. Eight of the league’s 32 team owners have donated to Trump.

    And if Trump had stopped after calling protesting players “SOBs” it’s not clear how many would have published statements disagreeing with him on players’ right to demonstrate. After all, they seem to share an obsession with policing Black athletes’ speech and a fixation with the performative patriotism of the pre-game anthem.

    But Trump’s tweet calling for a fan boycott over player protests prompted team owners to speak out in defence of free speech and “unity.” Ultra-rich NFL owners supported a “pro-business” president who figured to make them richer, but a boycott would cost them money.

    So first came the lukewarm rebukes of Trump’s proposed crackdown on free speech. Then came NFL owners, like Jaguars boss and Trump supporter Shad Khan, descending from luxury suites to stand with players, linking arms to show unity as the anthem played.

    And then came Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on Monday Night Football, taking a knee with players and coaches before the anthem, then standing arm-in-arm for “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

    If the goal was ambiguity, NFL team owners nailed it.

    The gestures showed enough support for protests to keep players onside, but by emphasizing amorphous concepts like unity they derailed yet another oncoming, uncomfortable confrontation with racism.

    They also positioned figures like Khan and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to lap up praise for appearing progressive in contrast to a recalcitrant president. This week’s Sports Illustrated cover features the men alongside athletes and coaches — like LeBron James, Steve Kerr and Candace Parker — who are vocal opponents of racism.

    Mysteriously, the cover photo excludes Kaepernick but includes the tagline, “A NATION DIVIDED. SPORTS UNITED.”

    But if the goal is to begin dismantling systemic racism, the pivot toward a poorly-defined vision of unity represents the opposite of progress.

    Rosa Parks didn’t seek unity with the white man who told her to give up her seat on a bus Birmingham in 1955. She stayed put and kicked off a crucial phase of the civil rights movement.

    Nor did Muhammad Ali try to unify with a U.S. government that tried to force him to join the army. He chose a side and risked his career rather than cross the line he had drawn.

    And when Tommie Smith and John Carlos accepted their medals at the 1968 Olympics, the U.S. sprinters didn’t link arms. They raised their fists in protest while the national anthem played.

    Silver medallist Peter Norman stood by, wearing a pin Smith and Carlos had given him, expressing unambiguous solidarity with a pair of African-American athletes engaged in a life-defining struggle against entrenched racism.

    It’s not clear if this weekend’s demonstrations will ever result in an NFL team owner showing similar unequivocal support for Black players who protest against racial inequality.

    But for now, all we have is unity dressed up as progress but protecting the business.


    NFL links arms to protect itself, not tackle racismNFL links arms to protect itself, not tackle racism

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    Ebrahim Toure, who has been locked since February 2013 despite not facing any criminal charges, is arguing that his detention is indefinite and arbitrary.

    Immigration detainee who has spent four years in jail says detention violates Canada’s charter of rightsImmigration detainee who has spent four years in jail says detention violates Canada’s charter of rights

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    Justin Altmann will also lose a month's pay after councillors accept penalties recommended in ethics report that found his CSI-style wall constituted ‘workplace harassment.’

    Stouffville mayor ordered to apologize for ‘disturbing’ behaviourStouffville mayor ordered to apologize for ‘disturbing’ behaviour

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    The prince returned to the skyscraper for an Invictus Games reception Tuesday night after a visit in 1991 as a seven-year-old.

    Prince Harry hits the CN Tower and the crowd goes wildPrince Harry hits the CN Tower and the crowd goes wild

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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.”


    Toronto arts hub 401 Richmond will get a reprieve from soaring property taxes. But what took so long?Toronto arts hub 401 Richmond will get a reprieve from soaring property taxes. But what took so long?

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    CALGARY—WestJet says that its new no-frills, lower-fare airline will be named Swoop.

    The Calgary-based company has been gradually revealing details of its new carrier since April.

    Last month, WestJet said the new airline would begin service next summer, rather than late this year as initially announced.

    The airline said on Aug. 1 that it didn’t expect to get regulatory certificates until the first quarter of 2018.

    It also said that the new carrier would reveal its schedule early next year and begin flights next June.

    Besides announcing the new name, WestJet said Wednesday it plans to start advance ticket sales in early 2018.


    WestJet names new no-frills carrier Swoop, says ticket order will begin in early 2018WestJet names new no-frills carrier Swoop, says ticket order will begin in early 2018

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    The boards of United Way of Toronto-York and United Way of Peel have voted in favour of solidifying a partnership, setting in motion an expanded mandate to better assist underserved communities.

    The impetus is to manage and address issues like income inequality and youth unemployment through a more regional approach, akin to the merger in 2015 between United Way’s Toronto and York chapters. The success of the reformed organization helped spur the recent decision, said Daniele Zanotti, CEO of United Way of Toronto and York Region — it raised $102 million in 2016, an increase of three per cent campaign growth.

    “We were able to now show we’ve driven more dollars into York,” he said, adding that research about issues like precarious employment were made possible. “All of this local work because we were able to provide a bigger, regional infrastructure.”

    This year, United Way of Toronto-York are working to raise $103 million; in Peel, United Way’s goal is $11.4 million.

    “The 905 neighbourhoods are growing at a faster clip with deepening poverty,” Zanotti said. “From a system approach, we need to be able to address poverty across the GTA.”

    Earlier this month, the Peel Region board unanimously agreed to amalgamate; and the Toronto-York chapter followed suit Tuesday. Formalization is dictated by United Way of Peel members, who are slated to vote on Oct. 26. If approved, the partnership will be effective April 1, 2018.

    There will be 273 combined social service agencies if the merger is successful.

    “This new opportunity really provides us with an ability to increase our scope, our scale, and, most importantly, our impact,” said Anita Stellinga, interim CEO of United Way of Peel Region. “Poverty does not know boundaries, it’s across our communities and we have that as priority across the region.”

    The poverty rate in the area, which encompasses Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon, is higher than provincial and national averages, Stellinga said.

    “In 1980, two per cent of our neighbourhoods were considered low-income and now that figure is 45 per cent,” she said. “We have extremely long waitlists for many services, such as mental health, for subsidized housing, programming for children and youth.”

    Big Brothers Big Sisters of Peel, which connects 1,800 youth with a range of mentorship programs, is celebrating 50 years of partnership with United Way. President and CEO Shari Lynn Ladanchuk said a merger would be proactive.

    “We believe strongly that it’s going to make a difference,” she said. “I think poverty is pocketed throughout Peel and the GTA. Mentoring is one of the tools that can help alleviate it in our communities. With United Way’s scaling up differently we’ll be able to do that deeper within our localized community.”

    Zanotti stressed United Way’s continued pledge of supporting local initiatives.

    “United Way began as the community chest, intimately connected to local issues and pressures,” he said.


    United Way Toronto-York announces merger with Peel United Way Toronto-York announces merger with PeelUnited Way Toronto-York announces merger with Peel United Way Toronto-York announces merger with Peel

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    Another day, another doom and gloom report about the impact of hiking the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

    The Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis says the number of jobs at risk would decrease by almost three-quarters if the $11.40 hourly rate is gradually increased over five years instead of the next 15 months.

    “While the proposed changes will see $11 billion in wage stimulus flow into the economy in the next two years, a remaining $12 billion problem exists which will lead to jobs lost, added costs, and general damage to the Ontario economy,” the report warned Wednesday.

    It was commissioned by the fledgling Keep Ontario Working coalition, which includes the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, Restaurants Canada, the Retail Council of Canada, and other business lobby groups.

    Karl Baldauf, the chamber’s vice president of policy and government, said the rapid rise in the wage “poses great risk to our economy and cannot be resolved through offsets alone.”

    The report came one day after TD Bank estimated that raising the wage to $14 in January and $15 in 2019 could cost the province up to 90,000 jobs.

    Labour Minister Kevin Flynn emphasized that “Ontario’s economy is strong right now” and can absorb higher wage costs.

    “We’re experiencing strong economic growth, manufacturing exports are up, and businesses are hiring as a result. Despite this growth, we know that not everyone is sharing in the benefits,” said Flynn.

    “This is why our government — after extensive consultations with businesses, organized labour and workers’ advocates — decided to take the bold steps needed to support workers and their families, and create more fairness and opportunity for all hard-working Ontarians,” he said.

    “Our economy created more than 30,000 jobs last month, and the unemployment rate is sitting at 5.7 per cent, the lowest level in more than a decade. Thanks to our strong economy, we’re now in a position to move forward with positive changes for workers in Ontario.”

    Flynn noted that studies by the OECD, the U.S. Center for Economic and Policy Research, and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives contradict such grim prognoses about the impact of higher wages.

    But the province’s independent Financial Accountability Office has claimed 50,000 jobs could be lost because businesses will have to lay off workers to cope with a rising payroll.


    Business groups urge slowdown on Ontario’s $15 minimum wage hikeBusiness groups urge slowdown on Ontario’s $15 minimum wage hike

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    Ontarians may soon know whether their doctor, dentist or pharmacist is getting money from Big Pharma.

    Health Minister Eric Hoskins is introducing new legislation Wednesday that will require drug companies and medical device makers to publicly report cash payments, free dinners and other benefits they’ve given to health-care professionals.

    “I know that Ontarians want and deserve more access to information that can help them make better decisions about their own health care,” Hoskins said.

    The payment information will be posted online in a searchable database and will be broken down by the name of the health-care professional who received it. Hoskins said the payment details will be for all 26 regulated health-care professions, from nurses to psychologists, as well as hospitals and other health-care organizations.

    Hoskins said he anticipates the data collection for public reporting will begin in 2019.

    If passed, the legislation will make Ontario the first jurisdiction in Canada to shine a light on the financial ties between the pharmaceutical industry and medical professionals.

    Critics of the payments say they raise the potential for conflicts of interest as they can influence doctors’ decisions on what drugs to prescribe.

    Right now, there is little known on how much money or gifts actually pass hands from drug companies to Ontario’s health professionals. These payments, known as “transfers of value,” can include grants for research, fees for speeches or participation on advisory committees and travel costs to attend far-flung conferences.

    “When these transfers of value take place they can have unintended consequences,” Hoskins said. “This isn’t suggesting at all the transfers are inappropriate. It’s important that the value and nature of those transfers . . . be made transparent.”

    News of the proposed law was met with broad approval, from a major pharma firm to a medical device industry group to nurses and doctors expressing their support.

    “I think there’s been a big blind spot in our health system for a long time. This helps address that,” said Dr. Andrew Boozary, who spearheaded a national Open Pharma campaign that called on the provincial and federal governments to require disclosure of payments from drug companies to doctors.

    “It allows us to gain insight into some of the interactions between the pharmaceutical industry and health-care professionals that we previously had no idea about.”

    Earlier this year, 10 major drug companies voluntarily released data showing they paid nearly $50 million to Canadian health-care professionals and organizations in 2016.

    Read more:

    Big Pharma marketing scheme banned by Ontario

    Health minister considering forcing drug companies to reveal payments to doctors

    Open Pharma wants public to know ties between MDs and pharmaceutical industry

    The disclosure did not reveal who received the payments, and several leading drug companies chose to not release any information at all.

    For the health minister, voluntary disclosure by the companies wasn’t sufficient.

    “We needed to go further to really, truly serve the needs of Ontarians in a responsible way,” Hoskins said.

    This proposed legislation brings Ontario in line with countries such as Australia, Japan, France and the United States, which have mandatory disclosures on financial relationships between industry and doctors.

    In the U.S., which began publicly releasing the payment details in September 2014, any cash or gift worth more than $10 must be disclosed.

    The newly proposed legislation is deliberately silent on a threshold dollar amount that would require public disclosure.

    “We want something that is meaningful and fair and not overly onerous. There are a lot of differing opinions in terms of what that threshold should be,” said Hoskins, adding that the issue would be addressed in further consultations.

    Dr. Joel Lexchin, a long-time advocate of transparency, said he hopes the government sets “a pretty low threshold,” noting that studies out of the United States show that meals worth less than $20 can have an impact on doctor’s prescribing practices.

    “The legislation in my view needs to be quite aggressive,” he said.

    There have been numerous controversies in Canada over perceived conflicts of interest because of payment relationships.

    In recent years, Toronto Star investigations have exposed a number of questionable relationships between big pharma and doctors.

    The Star found drug companies routinely host and bankroll dinners at upscale restaurants as training for family doctors. Critics of the dinners say they are just marketing tools under the guise of education.

    And there have been other controversies over perceived conflicts of interest because of drug company involvement, including alleged altering or ghostwriting of medical studies and physician endorsements of drugs.

    Toronto’s Dr. Nav Persaud supports the new legislation, adding that there was never a good reason to keep payment information secret.

    “A patient should know if the company selling a medication paid the doctor writing the prescription. Patients ultimately pay for this marketing so they have a right to know where the money is going,” he said.

    Theresa Agnew, head of the Nurse Practitioners’ Association of Ontario, said the group also supports Hoskins’ bill.

    “We think that the increased transparency will help to promote more evidence-based care getting through to not just clinicians but to patients as well,” she said.

    Hoskins said he will be encouraging the federal minister of health, as well as his provincial and territorial counterparts, to follow Ontario’s lead and pursue similar legislation.

    “I’m proud Ontario has demonstrated that leadership, but just as Ontarians want and deserve this information and greater transparency and accountability, Canadians deserve and want that, as well.”


    Ontario bill will reveal drug company payments to doctorsOntario bill will reveal drug company payments to doctors

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    The case of an Ontario man dying of liver disease will go to court Friday to challenge a rule that has kept him off the province’s list of potential transplant recipients.

    Cary Gallant argues that his constitutional rights are being violated by the Trillium Gift of Life Network, which bars alcoholics from the liver transplant list until they have been sober for six months.

    Gallant, 45, said he hasn’t had a drink since the beginning of July. Documents filed with the court say he has a 75 per cent chance of dying from liver failure before he reaches the half-year of sobriety demanded by the organ and tissue donation agency.

    “We are asking to have him assessed for transplant and, if he is otherwise a suitable candidate, that the six-month sobriety rule be suspended and he be listed like other people on the list,” said his lawyer, Michael Fenrick.

    Trillium has said it will launch a $3-million, three-year pilot program next August that will make almost 100 patients with alcohol disorders eligible for liver transplants without having to be sober for six months.

    But that could be too late for Gallant.

    “August is a long time away,” Gallant said from his home in Sault Ste. Marie. He’s exhausted and weak, and speaking takes effort.

    Gallant said after years of drinking regularly, he had “no idea” what alcohol was doing to his liver until he suddenly got sick.

    “As soon as I found out what my scenario was, I was done with drinking,” he said.

    “I just don’t know why it takes so long (to get on the transplant list). I’ve heard stories. A lot of people don’t even make it to get on the wait-list.”

    In the pilot program document, Trillium itself states there is insufficient evidence for the six-month sobriety policy as it stands.

    “There were no survival differences between problem drinking and non-drinkers,” said the document, referring to a Canadian study from 2009. “There is also no clear evidence that mandating a brief, arbitrary specific duration of sobriety is effective.”

    About 80 per cent of Canadian patients were still alive five years after a liver transplant, reported the Canadian Institute for Health Information, which analyzed data from 2004 to 2013. In 2014, more than 500 Canadians received livers, making it the most common organ transplant after kidneys.

    Debra Selkirk has been a vocal advocate for changing the six-month rule. In 2010 her husband, Mark, was told he’d die if he didn’t have a liver transplant — but was not eligible because he’d been sober for only a few weeks. He died three weeks later.

    In 2015, Selkirk filed a constitutional challenge against Trillium’s policy. This past summer, she reached a settlement that led to Trillium launching the pilot program.

    “The loss of Mark was devastating,” Selkirk said. “But I spent five years studying the law, researching and finding out that his death was unjust . . . needless and unfair. It’s brutal.”

    Gallant is bedridden and too weak to attend Friday’s hearing in Toronto.

    “I’m worried right now — his appetite isn’t great,” said his mother, Joanne. “I worry this problem with the liver is going to affect his other organs.

    “People should be on a list according to their needs.”

    Almost 1,500 Canadians — two-thirds of them men — die of alcoholism-related liver disease each year, according to Statistics Canada.

    In an email, spokesperson Jennifer Long said Trillium’s “research on liver listing criteria points to a six-month abstinence from alcohol . . . as the most commonly used protocol across Canada, the U.S. and other international jurisdictions.”

    A similar rule applies in Ontario to lung and heart transplants, for which patients must not smoke tobacco or other substances for six months before being listed.

    However, the six-month rule for liver transplants has come under scrutiny in recent years, with critics calling it discriminatory and arbitrary.

    Three studies between 2008 and 2016 that reviewed liver transplant patients with alcohol disorders in the U.S. and Europe concluded that patients being sober for more than six months and staying sober afterward had only a minor effect on transplant success.

    A European study found that patients with alcohol-related liver disease had a “significantly higher” success rate than those with other causes of liver failure. Of the one-third of patients who relapsed, 64 per cent consumed alcohol on occasion, the rest consumed alcohol heavily.

    A University of Pittsburgh study recommended three months of sobriety “may be more ideal than six months.”

    “The real issue has never been allowing alcoholics to jump to the top of the wait-list, but to have a level playing field not based on discriminatory attitudes,” Fenrick said.

    Meanwhile, the wait until the Ontario wait-list changes is frustrating to Selkirk.

    “There’s already success in liver transplant patients (with alcohol disorders) and others shouldn’t have to wait,” she said. “Why are people left dying between now and next summer?”


    Sober since July, this man must wait before he can join the list for a new liverSober since July, this man must wait before he can join the list for a new liver

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    OTTAWA—Top trade ministers from Mexico, Canada and the United States met Wednesday to close out the latest round of NAFTA talks while stakeholders warned it will take a “Hail Mary” to complete negotiations by year’s end.

    On Wednesday, the final day of the third round of negotiations, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland met with Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal, Mexico’s Secretary of Economy, and Ambassador Robert Lighthizer, United States Trade Representative.

    The three were scheduled to speak to reporters Wednesday afternoon on the progress of the talks so far.

    But stakeholders — business leaders, unions and organizations with a stake in trade — cautioned that with three rounds of talks complete, much work — and the most contentious issues still lie ahead.

    Read more: Mexico appears willing to improve conditions for workers

    NAFTA talks not focusing on Canada’s call for an Indigenous chapter

    U.S. fails to deliver demands for next round of NAFTA talks

    And some warned that the U.S. decision Tuesday to slap a hefty duty on Bombardier commercial jets — sparking a trade war in aerospace — could chill goodwill at the NAFTA negotiating table.

    “This is very disappointing for Canada,” said Perrin Beatty, president and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

    “Inevitably any of these side issues runs the risk of contaminating the negotiations. That’s not good,” Beatty said.

    Moises Kalach, head of trade for the Mexican national business council which is in close consultation with Mexico’s negotiating team, said he would be watching closely on how the arrival of the three ministers in charge of the NAFTA file would prod things at the negotiating table.

    “A lot of things can really advance when the ministers join. I do think some issues have to go to the ministers.”

    Rules of origin for made-in-North America content, dispute settlement and labour standards are big bones of contention right now.

    Kalach said on the “technical side, the (negotiating) tables are advancing” especially since more specific proposals were laid out in certain areas. “Those are signs the process is moving forward.”

    Canada’s Chrystia Freeland told reporters Monday that negotiators made progress “on a number of bread-and-butter trade issues which matter to Canadian businesses” such as electronic forms at the border, simplified origin declarations and regulatory harmonization.

    The U.S. drive to change the rules of origin — requiring more U.S. content in goods — has sparked broad concern among business leaders who fear it could upset established supply chains across North America.

    “A stand-alone U.S. domestic content rule is a concern . . . Given the amount of commerce that flows over both borders, any disruption to that would be problematic,” said Alex Russ, of U.S.-based Association of Equipment Manufacturers, which represents 950 companies worldwide that manufacture heavy off-road equipment for the construction, agricultural, forestry and mining industries.

    There were concerns expressed too, that on many substantive positions, the U.S. government has yet to table its position.

    “This is bit of hurry up and wait,” said Eric Miller, of the Rideau Potomac Strategy Group.

    “From everything we’re hearing, on very significant areas, we’re not seeing the text. It’s as if you have partners lined up on the dance floor but the music hasn’t started yet,” said Miller, a Washington-based consultant that represents Canadian entities.

    He attributed that delay to the fact that U.S. negotiators are trying to “work through” how President Donald Trump’s protectionist campaign talk “translates into actual language in the negotiation.”

    “What we are watching here in fact is a fundamental shaping of the Trump-era policy,” Miller said.

    Dan Ujczo, a lawyer with the Detroit firm Dickinson Wright and advisor to companies on border issues said much work lies ahead.

    “I think we’re getting to the point where it’s going to take a Hail Mary to get this done before the end of the year,” Ujczo said.

    One clear sign of movement was a signal by Mexico’s negotiating team, in its consultations with Mexican business leaders as well as Canadian union leaders, that it was prepared to agree to inclusion of a enforceable chapter on labour standards in the main text of a re-negotiated NAFTA.

    As the Star reported Tuesday night, Kalach said Mexico’s view is that it signed onto “modern labour standards” in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which the U.S. has ditched.

    He said if the American proposal is similar to what Mexico worked on within the TPP deal, “we feel that’s something we agree on.” That agreement required countries to comply with their own laws, he said, and “it also has its own dispute settlements for labour and environmental (standards) that we also agreed to when we were looking at TPP.”

    Canadian unions say that doesn’t go far enough.

    Mexico’s move aligns it more closely with American interests on labour standards, and pits it against a proposal by the Canadian team.

    Canada, according to Unifor president Jerry Dias, wants tougher language that would take aim at so-called “right to work” laws in the United States, where states have passed laws that have effectively starved unions of money, by requiring the benefits of collective bargaining to be shared by workers who refuse to pay union fees.


    NAFTA talks wrap in Ottawa but contentious issues still lie aheadNAFTA talks wrap in Ottawa but contentious issues still lie ahead

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    WASHINGTON—U.S. President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans are proposing a far-reaching, $5 trillion plan Wednesday that would cut taxes for corporations and potentially for individuals, simplify the tax system and nearly double the standard deduction used by most Americans.

    The plan is sweeping in scope but omits critical, controversial details that are likely to take months to work out in a bitterly divided, GOP-led Congress. The political stakes are high for Republicans and for Trump, whose agenda has largely stalled as the GOP abandoned efforts to repeal the Obama-era health law. Republicans see tax overhaul as a once-in-a-generation opportunity that could produce a large political payoff, though some polls show the public is skeptical that average Americans will benefit much.

    “Too many in our country are shut out of the dynamism of the U.S. economy, which has led to the justifiable feeling that the system is rigged against hardworking Americans,” says the blueprint, obtained by The Associated Press. “With significant and meaningful tax reform and relief, we will create a fairer system that levels the playing field and extends economic opportunities to American workers, small businesses and middle-income families.”

    Read more: Trump pitches his tax cut plan, says he wants to ‘bring back Main Street’

    Trump, Republicans appear to fail again as third senator comes out against Obamacare repeal

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

    There are no details on how much it would cost, though back-of-the-envelope estimates by outside experts put the tax cuts in the range of $5 trillion over the next 10 years. The net cost to the federal debt would be far less — probably in the range of $1.5 trillion under deal put together by Senate Budget Committee Republicans — and the real battles will come as lawmakers quarrel over which tax breaks might be eliminated to help pay the balance.

    The plan would collapse the number of personal tax brackets from seven to three.

    The individual tax rates would be 12 per cent, 25 per cent and 35 per cent — and the plan recommends a surcharge for the very wealthy. But it doesn’t set the income levels at which the rates would apply, so it’s unclear just how much of a tax change there might be for a typical family, and whether its taxes would be reduced.

    “This is our once-in-a-generation opportunity to fundamentally rethink our tax code. We can unleash the economy — promoting growth, attracting jobs, and improving American competitiveness in the global market,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

    But Democrats swiftly condemned the plan.

    “Each of these proposals would result in a massive windfall for the wealthiest Americans and provide almost no relief to middle-class taxpayers who need it most,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said at the Capitol. “It seems that President Trump and Republicans have designed their plan to be cheered in the country clubs and the corporate boardrooms.”

    The plan would nearly double the standard deduction to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for families. This basically would increase the amount of personal income that is tax-free.

    Deductions for mortgage interest and charitable giving would remain, but the plan seeks to end most other itemized deductions that can reduce how much affluent families pay.

    But a battle is already brewing among Republicans over a move to eliminate the deduction for state and local taxes, which is especially valuable to people in high-tax states such as New York New Jersey and California. Republicans from those states are vowing to fight it.

    The plan would retain existing tax benefits for college and retirement savings such as 401(k) contribution plans.

    It would seek to help families by calling for an increased child tax credit and opening it to families with higher incomes. The credit currently is $1,000 per child.

    Also proposed is a new tax credit of $500 to help pay for the care of the elderly and the sick who are claimed as dependants by the taxpayer.

    The estate tax — which is paid by those with multimillion-inheritances — would be eliminated, a boon for wealthy individuals who inherit businesses, investments and real estate. Also slated for elimination is the alternative minimum tax, a supplemental tax for certain individuals, corporations and estates that enjoy exemptions lowering their income tax bills.

    Companies would find themselves paying substantially lower tax rates, part of an effort to make U.S. businesses more competitive globally. The plan would impose a new, lower tax on corporate profits stashed overseas, and create a new tax structure for overseas business operations of U.S. companies.

    Corporations would see their top tax rate cut from 35 per cent to 20 per cent. For a period of five years, companies could further reduce how much they pay by immediately writing off their investments.

    New benefits would be given to firms in which the profits double as the owners’ personal income. They would pay at a 25 per cent rate, down 39.6 per cent. This creates a possible loophole for rich investors, lawyers, doctors and others, but administration officials say they will design measures to prevent any abuses.

    The administration says the tax plan is focused on helping middle class families. But — despite six months of talks with congressional leaders — the outline still lacks vital details about how middle class families would fare. There are also signs that the wealthiest sliver of Americans could still reap tremendous benefits from the proposed changes, even though Trump has suggested that rich will not be better off.


    Trump, Republicans propose $5-trillion tax plan, cuts to individual and corporate ratesTrump, Republicans propose $5-trillion tax plan, cuts to individual and corporate rates

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    The province is considering a plan to re-open the closed Finch Avenue site of the old Humber River hospital, creating up to 150 beds for patients who don’t need to be in overcrowded acute-care hospitals.

    Health Minister Eric Hoskins said the measure, for patients waiting for beds in nursing homes, rehab facilities or home care, presents a “tremendous opportunity” and similar moves are being examined elsewhere in Ontario.

    “We’re having a number of conversations with other hospitals across the province,” said Hoskins, noting that proposals are coming from hospital officials themselves.

    The patients who could be moved out of acute-care hospitals such as Toronto General, are in so-called “alternate level of care” beds and do not require acute care, Hoskins told reporters.

    New Democrat MPP Peter Tabuns raised concerns that the government is planning a scheme to “warehouse seniors waiting for long-term care” and complained about poor treatment of patients as the Liberal government has cut growth in hospital funding.

    “Hospitals are desperately overcrowded. Patients are being left in hallways for days. People are waiting in emergency rooms for 12 hours or more. Wait lists for long-term care are now years long,” he said in the Legislature’s daily question period.

    Hoskins said he was bewildered at the NDP response about the old Humber site, which closed after the new, state-of-the-art $4-billion Humber River hospital opened near Keele and Hwy. 401 in October 2015.

    “I can’t for the life of me understand why the member would oppose this,” said Hoskins, a physician. “Only the NDP would demand more (hospital) capacity and then complain about us creating capacity.”

    Alternate level of care beds in acute-care hospitals have long been considered a barrier to getting patients out of emergency rooms and into proper hospital rooms.

    The government set aside $24 million in last spring’s budget to look at ways of freeing up acute-care hospital beds to account for a growing and aging population in the province.

    Hoskins pledged any patients moved from acute-care hospitals to alternative sites such as the old Humber Finch campus would get “highly specialized, expert care that’s specifically focused at their individual needs.”

    He called it “the right kind of care in the right place.”

    Using older hospitals shut down when replacement facilities have opened could create “a significant number” of beds, the minister added.

    Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown said the proposal suggests the government, which is up for re-election next June 7, is in “damage-control” mode from years of short-changing the health system.

    “We have hallway medicine . . . ; people are being cared for in inappropriate places.”

    Brown said alternative level of care beds account for as many as one-fifth of beds in some hospitals.

    “The government has not invested adequately in home care and in long-term care . . . . We have a crisis in our hospitals and the government has been asleep at the switch.”


    Will Finch Ave. site of old Humber River hospital reopen?Will Finch Ave. site of old Humber River hospital reopen?

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    Hillary Clinton is coming to town and she will fall in love with Toronto.

    When you live here, it’s easy to get lost in the daily grind, easy to forget just how enchanting and hospitable this city can feel to visitors. It’s clean. It’s safe. It’s friendly. Toronto is a big city, but not so big that it can’t amp up the small-town charm and dazzle passersby.

    It is a place where daily irritants such as cost of living or traffic gridlock — by the way, what genius decided to tear up every road at the same time this summer? — remain invisible to travellers. They are too busy staring up at the CN Tower and basking in a sentiment the rest of us take for granted: Toronto can make anyone feel welcome.

    So when Clinton’s motorcade pulls into the Enercare Centre on Thursday, the latest stop in her wildly lucrative What Happened book tour, it will feel like she just entered a haven, a refuge, a Xanadu, a sanctuary city in which her demons are banned and her ego is tickled.

    Clinton will be greeted with thundering ovations and, amid a sea of moist eyes and sensible pantsuits, no one will address her as “Crooked.” There will be no spitting chorus of “Lock her up!” There will just be sustained applause.

    Compared to life in her homeland, where to millions “Hillary Rodham Clinton” remains the long way of saying “Satan,” this will be a revelation. She will be so struck by the love, she will tell everyone she knows.

    And this is why the city should brace for an influx of polarizing luminaries.

    It’s no coincidence, I’d argue, that Melania Trump chose Toronto this past weekend for her first solo trip as the U.S. First Lady. Similar in vibe to her beloved New York City, Toronto allowed Mrs. Trump to breathe freely for a change.

    The paparazzi risk here is not Code Red. The public is not as bold or as rude. She could dine on caviar or shop for new heels in relative peace. As an added bonus, Melania now has first-hand experience in a city that might one day become home when she is granted asylum after immigration officials conclude that years of being forced to see Donald Trump rage-tweet while naked violated her human rights.

    What’s interesting about the pictures of Melania in Toronto is how relaxed she looked. She was smiling, but not in the startled gazelle manner we are used to seeing when she flanks her husband at a deranged rally or disaster zone. This time, her painted-on grin did not crack at the seams. Her eyes did not blink out mayday.

    For one weekend, Toronto liberated Melania Trump from the worst parts of her life.

    A few days later, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle selected Nathan Phillips Square as the backdrop for their first public appearance as a couple and detonated global pandemonium. That they, too, chose Toronto says much about the city’s ability to soothe jangled nerves while smothering the fears famous people secretly harbour elsewhere in the world.

    And you know who else is coming to town this week? That would be former U.S. president Barack Obama. He will deliver a lunchtime speech about global citizenship on Friday at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

    Then next week, Bill Clinton swings by to soak up the admiration — at a $5,000-per-table dinner at the Royal York Hotel.

    The pattern is clear: as America becomes increasingly polarized, Toronto will become more attractive to those yearning for a break from the madness. The culture wars south of the border show no signs of ending and this poisonous atmosphere will be a boon to Toronto’s standing as a safe zone.

    When someone like Roy Moore wins an election in Alabama, suddenly Toronto seems like an all-inclusive resort, an oasis of sanity in a churning sea of chaos. Moore wants to live in biblical times. If you listen to his views on immigration, gender equality, gay marriage or reproductive rights — and then swap out his Christianity for, say, Islam — Moore is basically a jihadist.

    It’s hard to find this grade of religious extremism in Toronto, which is just one more reason battle-scarred former politicians will flock here in the months ahead. In Toronto, even as visitors, people can be who they want to be without the constant threat of being told who and what they are.

    This should be a future tourism campaign: Give us your huddled masses of political refugees who are rich, less powerful than before and feeling under siege. Let Toronto be your sanctuary.

    vmenon@thestar.ca


    Toronto is becoming a sanctuary city for U.S. politicians: MenonToronto is becoming a sanctuary city for U.S. politicians: Menon

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    A Brampton family is fighting to keep their daughter on life support at Brampton Civic Hospital, even as her attending physician issued a death certificate declaring her brain dead last week.

    “She’s still alive,” said Stanley Stewart of his daughter Taquisha McKitty, 27, who is the mother of a 9-year-old girl. “She’s still in there.”

    Stewart and Taquisha’s mom Alyson McKitty believe the hospital acted too quickly in declaring their daughter dead, and doctors are ignoring what the family believes are responses to “stimulus” including squeezing their hands and moving her thumb when asked to do so.

    The family went to court on Sept. 21 and won an emergency injunction temporarily preventing the hospital from removing the respirator that is keeping her alive.

    That injunction expires on Thursday when the matter will be back before Superior Court Justice M.J. Lucille Shaw in Brampton.

    The injunction arrived last minute, said Bishop Wendell Brereton, who is helping the family and hoping to find a “legal team” willing to join the fight.

    “The injunction showed up 30 minutes before (the respirator was to be disconnected),” Brereton said. “It was like something out of a television show.”

    Dr. Omar Hayani had already signed a death certificate declaring Taquisha died the day before — at 12:55 p.m. on Sept. 20 — six days after she suffered a drug overdose.

    Taquisha’s parents say they just want to give her a chance to live.

    “The goal for us was to have some time and to be able to get an independent second opinion,” Stewart said.

    But they can’t transfer her to another hospital or have another doctor examine her without getting the death certificate cancelled.

    “It’s been crazy,” Stewart said. “You get a call that your daughter, her heart has stopped, so you think you’re going to lose her. Then, you come to the hospital, and they have resuscitated her.”

    Doctors used ice to treat the swelling of her brain, and she was breathing on her own and moving, although unconscious in ICU. But after 72 hours of observation, although her heart is still beating, her breathing stopped.

    “You sit there for three days and hope that the doctors are doing something to make her better,” Stewart said, but he didn’t see it.

    When the family asked, they were told there was no medicine and no treatment.

    She has never regained consciousness and remains in a coma.

    Justice Shaw ordered life support to remain connected until a decision by the Consent and Capacity Board, as per the Health Care Consent Act (HCCA).

    A spokesperson for Willaim Osler Health said the hospital could not speak to McKitty’s case due to privacy issues, but that “before health care decisions are made, there are a number of processes that physicians and care teams must follow in order to ensure decisions are made appropriately and that they are in the best interest of the patient,” Alineh Haidery said in an email to The Guardian.

    The hospital, she wrote, follows a “recognized standard of practice” and criteria for neurological determination of death.

    “At Osler, all neurological death determinations are determined by two experienced physicians in this field,” she wrote.


    ‘She’s still alive’: Brampton family goes to court to keep daughter on life support‘She’s still alive’: Brampton family goes to court to keep daughter on life support

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    OTTAWA—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has joined the chorus of condemnation over a U.S. government decision to slap a 220 per cent duty on the sale of Bombardier jets, stating Wednesday that he’s “disappointed” by the move and vowing to fight for Canadian jobs.

    In Quebec, where the Montreal-based company employs thousands of workers, Premier Philippe Couillard urged the federal government to take a strong stand against Boeing, the American aerospace giant whose complaint over Canadian subsidies to Bombardier sparked the U.S. decision to impose the punishing duty.

    “Not a bolt, not a part, (and) of course not a plane from Boeing (should be) entering Canada until this conflict is resolved in a satisfactory way,” Couillard said in Quebec City.

    Read more:

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    “Quebec has been attacked,” Couillard added. “But let me tell you, the war is far from over and we shall win.”

    The punishing duty was announced in a preliminary ruling from the U.S. Commerce Department on Tuesday evening. The move stems from a Boeing complaint about the sale of 125 Bombardier C-Series jets to the American airline, Delta. Boeing contends that the Montreal-based plane maker is propped up by Canadian government subsidies that allow it to offer the jets at unfair low prices in the U.S. market.

    The decision to impose the 219.6 per cent duty was quickly met with condemnation by union leaders, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and government ministers. Across the Atlantic, British Prime Minister Theresa May said she was “bitterly disappointed” in the ruling and pledged to protect the 4,000 Bombardier jobs in Northern Ireland.

    At the heart of Boeing’s case against Bombardier is its assertion that it receives improper government subsidies in Canada. Quebec has invested $1 billion in the aerospace and transportation firm, while Ottawa announced in February that it would give Bombardier $373 million in interest-free loans to support its aircraft projects over the next four years.

    Transport Minister Marc Garneau repeated his praise for Bombardier’s C-Series jet on Wednesday, claiming that “nothing can compare with this plane” and that Boeing feels threatened. He said that the government will do everything possible to protect Bombardier and the Canadian aerospace industry.

    He added that Boeing has received “tens of billions of dollars” in subsidies from the American government over several decades, and described the U.S. government decision to impose duties as “really surprising.”

    Last week, in response to Boeing’s complaint about Bombardier to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Trudeau threatened to block Canada’s proposed purchase of 18 Super Hornet fighter jets, which are made by Boeing.

    Speaking outside the House of Commons on Wednesday, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair ridiculed the threat to terminate a non-existent contract as weak, and called on the prime minister to take up the trade dispute directly with U.S. President Donald Trump.

    “It’s about time that we had a government that had enough backbone to stand up to the bullying of Boeing and of the U.S. government,” Mulcair said.

    “There are rules of international trade. The U.S. is not respecting them, and we’ve got to say that loud and strong.”

    Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, meanwhile, said it’s up to the Liberal government to defend its loan to Bombardier.

    “Our thoughts and best wishes are always with the families affected by these decisions,” he told reporters Wednesday morning.

    “This is going to be a difficult day for many people that are in the workforce, but our position is always that the government should be focusing on making it easier for all companies to succeed, lowering barriers to investment, lowering payroll taxes, abandoning the idea of a carbon tax.”

    With files from The Canadian Press


    Trudeau ‘disappointed’ in U.S. decision to slap 220 per cent duty on Canada’s Bombardier jetsTrudeau ‘disappointed’ in U.S. decision to slap 220 per cent duty on Canada’s Bombardier jets

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    It may not feel that way now, but the high-pitched political debate over Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s tax changes to private corporations will likely end with proposals that could have both the Conservatives and the Liberals claiming victory.

    By all indications, the government will try to salvage enough of its current plan to say with a more or less straight face that it has fought the good fight for tax fairness while taking care to minimize unintended collateral damage.

    The Conservative opposition will likely be able to claim that it has saved Canada’s family farms or some other section of the economy from fiscal Armageddon.

    One way or another, the moment this issue is put to rest cannot come a day too soon for Morneau.

    Read more:

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    Win or lose, he will walk away wounded from his first real hand-to-hand parliamentary combat and not just as a result of opposition hits.

    The word “beleaguered” has come up in various independent depictions of Morneau’s parliamentary demeanour over the course of the fiscal reform storm and it does capture best the minister’s body language as he fends off opposition critics in question period.

    Since the House reopened, the talking points he has offered in (limp) defence of his reform could not be described as particularly combative. If anything, Morneau’s main mission seems to boil down to holding the line while the government regroups.

    And yet his plan does not lack for allies in civil society. They range from distinguished academics to entrepreneurs, progressive think-thanks and more than a few lawyers and doctors adamant that, on this matter, their professional associations are not reflecting their views.

    But one would never know of their existence based on the generic lines the minister has relied on in question period.

    Morneau’s tour of duty in the question period hot seat has been lonesome in more ways than one.

    Some time ago, the Liberals decided they would contribute to the decorum of question period by holding their applause. The Conservatives and the New Democrats have made no such commitment.

    For the past two weeks, question period watchers have been treated to the sight of pumped up Conservative MPs cheering on leader Andrew Scheer and others as they launch verbal grenades at the Liberals from the fiscal reform barricades.

    By comparison, Morneau’s answers, usually delivered amidst much opposition heckling, are punctuated by eerie silence from his own benches.

    If the Liberals were to resume applauding their own, it is an open question how many of them would do so in support of the finance minister.

    It is said that there are more government MPs who oppose the changes than the small number that have spoken out against them. Quoting anonymous sources, La Presse reported Thursday that some Liberals are covertly encouraging the Conservatives to keep putting the heat on their ministerial colleague.

    It was Jean Chrétien who coined the terms “nervous Nellies” to describe the tendency of a good many Liberal MPs to be spooked by the first sign of political adversity.

    At the time, he was referring to those who were questioning his leadership in the face of the pre-election polls that showed the Conservatives under Kim Campbell to have overtaken the Liberals in voting intentions. (That took place a few months before Chrétien reduced the Tories to two seats in the 1993 election.)

    This is the first time the 2015 class of Liberal MPs is getting some serious pushback on a fiscal policy. Some of its members are running for cover even as their leader remains far more popular than his rivals, when their party is as competitive in voting intentions as it was on the day of its majority victory two years ago.

    The tax reform they are distancing themselves from did not come out of left field; it was part of the last Liberal budget. Even in their current form, the changes would affect a small minority of taxpayers.

    Watching Trudeau’s Liberals squirm in their seats as Morneau comes under opposition fire, one can’t help but spare a thought for the fortitude of the Mulroney MPs who steadfastly stood by their unpopular Tory government at the time of the GST debate.

    Chantal Hébert is a national affairs writer. Her column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.


    Morneau’s discomfort over proposed tax changes an unnecessary spectacle: HébertMorneau’s discomfort over proposed tax changes an unnecessary spectacle: Hébert

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    KABUL—The Taliban unleashed a barrage of rockets at the Kabul international airport on Wednesday in a brazen attack that the insurgents said targeted the plane of visiting U.S. Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis. In response, the U.S. said it launched two missiles, one of which missed its intended target and killed at least one Afghan civilian.

    Afghan officials said one Afghan woman was killed and 11 civilians were wounded in the Taliban attack. Afghan special forces managed to repel the attackers, killing four in an ensuing gun battle, officials said.

    Later, the U.S. military issued a statement saying that it had responded with an airstrike.

    “Tragically, one of the missiles malfunctioned, causing several casualties,” the U.S. command said.

    Read more:

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    Navy Capt. William Salvin, spokesperson for the U.S.-led military coalition, said in a telephone interview that the U.S. fired two Hellfire missiles. One struck its intended target, a building from which the insurgents had launched their mortar attack. The other one was programmed to hit the same target but went astray for unknown reasons, Salvin said.

    At least one Afghan civilian was killed by the malfunctioning Hellfire and an undetermined number of other civilians were wounded, Salvin said.

    In its written statement, the U.S.-led coalition expressed regret for the civilian casualties.

    “We take every precaution to avoid civilian casualties, even as the enemies of Afghanistan continue to operate in locations that deliberately put civilians at very high risk,” it said. The statement said the original Taliban attackers had fired several rounds of high-explosive ammunition, including mortars, in the vicinity of the Kabul airport.

    The U.S. statement said the insurgents also detonated suicide vests, “endangering a great number of civilians.”

    Mattis was meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the time of the attack, along with visiting NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. Mattis’ plane was not hit.

    The attack — both its location, the Kabul airport, and the purported target, a visiting U.S. official’s plane — underscored the ability of the insurgents to still stage high-profile attacks despite Afghan security forces’ struggle to stem Taliban gains.

    Najib Danish, spokesperson for the Afghan Interior Ministry, said the Taliban fired up to about six projectiles at and near the airport, hitting both the international and the military sector of the sprawling hub and also two civilian houses nearby. The gun battle with Afghan special forces left “four of the terrorists dead,” he said.

    Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a tweet that the “military section of the Kabul airport was hit with missiles; target was plane of U.S. Defence Secretary Mattis” and that “losses (were) caused” in the attack.

    Ghani said during a joint press conference with Mattis and Stoltenberg that Afghan special forces troops quickly brought the assault under control. Mattis called the attack “a crime” during the news conference, which was broadcast live.

    Speaking to The Associated Press later Wednesday, Stoltenberg denounced that attack as a “terrorist act” that shows the militants’ “weakness.”

    Tumour Shah Hamedi, director of Kabul airport, said all flights were halted as a result of the attack.

    At the presser, both Mattis and Stoltenberg pledged continued support for Afghanistan and vowed to do everything possible so the country “doesn’t again become a safe haven for international terrorists.”

    Stoltenberg said NATO is aware of “the cost of staying in Afghanistan, but the cost of leaving would be even higher.”

    “If NATO forces leave too soon, there is a risk that Afghanistan may return to a state of chaos and once again become a safe haven for international terrorism,” he said.

    Stoltenberg also said NATO was committed to funding the Afghan security forces until at least 2020 and would continue to provide them almost a $1 billion each year.

    Ghani said the Taliban can choose either to align with international terrorism or renounce violence and join a peace process with the government.

    Mattis said Washington supports a negotiated settlement between the Taliban and Afghanistan. “The sooner the Taliban recognize they cannot win with bombs, the sooner the killing will end,” he said.

    Last month, U.S. President Donald Trump hinted he would embrace the Pentagon’s proposal to boost troop numbers by nearly 4,000, augmenting the roughly 8,400 Americans now in Afghanistan. The combined U.S. and NATO troop contingent currently in the country is about 13,500.

    The additional American forces would be deployed to expand training of the Afghan military and beef up U.S. counterterrorism operations against Al Qaeda and a growing Daesh affiliate in Afghanistan, as well as the Taliban and other extremist groups.

    In the interview with The Associated Press, Stoltenberg said the “attack on the airport is a sign of weakness, not the sign of strength” and added that to “attack a civilian airport is a criminal act, it is terrorist act and it just shows the importance of fighting these kind of organizations in Afghanistan.”

    He stressed the importance of fighting extremists as the best way to ensure “they are not able to expand and to go beyond Afghanistan and launch new attacks against other countries, including NATO countries.”

    The fight against extremists is “going on in many places in Syria, in Iraq, but also in the streets in Europe, in the United States and, therefore, we have to stand together. We have to work together and we need to be prepared for the long haul, because this is not easy, this will take time,” he added.

    The U.S. embassy in Kabul condemned the airport attack, saying it does “not diminish our and our partners’ resolve to stand with the people of Afghanistan in their quest for a more prosperous, stable, and secure future,”

    In other violence, hundreds of Taliban insurgents attacked a security post in Afghanistan’s western Farah province, killing at least 10 police officers and threatening to overrun the position.

    Hakim Noori, the governor of the Pusht Rod district, said almost 300 Taliban fighters took part in the attack, which began on Tuesday night. He said the insurgents mined the area around the base to prevent authorities from sending in reinforcements.

    Farid Bakhtawar, the head of the provincial council, confirmed the killing of the police officers and warned they would be overrun if reinforcements do not arrive soon.


    Taliban targets U.S. secretary of defence’s plane at Kabul airport attack, Americans respond with airstrikeTaliban targets U.S. secretary of defence’s plane at Kabul airport attack, Americans respond with airstrike

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    A mother and her young daughter have died after they were struck by a vehicle Wednesday night.

    Toronto police said they were hit just before 9:30 p.m. at Warden Ave. and Continental Pl. near Ellesmere Rd. The 34-year-old woman and her daughter were taken to hospital by emergency run in life-threatening condition, and they were later pronounced dead.

    Police at the scene said a family of four was crossing the street after eating dinner at a nearby restaurant. The father and another child crossed the street safely while the mother and toddler were struck. They were hit again by a second vehicle in the southbound lane and the driver fled the scene.

    Police are looking for the vehicle which is described as a 2006 or 2011 Black Honda Civic.

    Warden Ave. is closed in both directions between Lupin Dr. and Ellesmere Rd. The TTC 68 Warden Ave. route is diverting southbound via Lupin Dr., Crocus Dr. and Ellesmere Rd.


    Mother and two-year-old child dead after being hit by a vehicle in ScarboroughMother and two-year-old child dead after being hit by a vehicle in Scarborough

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    Billionaire Barry Sherman has come out victorious in a lawsuit brought by his cousins, who argued he owed them a share of his interest in Apotex, the generic drug company he founded in 1974.

    “The claimed interest in Apotex was wishful thinking, and beyond fanciful,” Superior Court Justice Kenneth Hood wrote in a decision released this month.

    “Nothing can now change these findings of fact.”

    Hood granted Sherman’s motion for summary judgment, finding there was no need to proceed to trial. He dismissed the lawsuit brought by Sherman’s cousins, the “Winter orphans,” four boys, three of them now grown men and one who has passed away and was represented in the lawsuit by his widow.

    Read more:Toronto billionaire’s orphaned cousins seek piece of Apotex fortune

    Their father, Louis Winter, was the founder of Empire Laboratories Ltd. and died in 1965, when the boys were still very young, just weeks before their mother, Beverley, also passed away. Cousin Barry would go on to acquire Empire in 1967 with some associates.

    The plaintiffs had alleged that Sherman owed them a “fiduciary duty,” in that he had promised the executors of their parents’ estate in an option that the Winter children would have the right to work for the company after the age of 21 and buy five per cent of the issued shares, according to their statement of claim.

    Instead, they alleged the founding of Apotex was made possible in 1974 through proceeds from Sherman’s eventual sale of Empire, but that no provision was made for the children to work at Apotex and become shareholders. In the recent lawsuit, they were seeking 20 per cent of Sherman’s interest in Apotex.

    But Hood wrote that the option was already null and void by the time Apotex was founded, and reiterated findings from a different judge in a previous unsuccessful lawsuit brought by the plaintiffs (assisted by a different lawyer) against their parents’ executors, Royal Trust.

    “As found by Justice (Paul) Perell and confirmed by the Court of Appeal, Apotex did not own or use any of the assets, goodwill, property of business of the Empire companies,” Hood wrote.

    The Winters’ lawyer, Brad Teplitsky, said they would be appealing, and declined to comment further. Lawyer Katherine Kay said neither Sherman nor his legal team would be commenting.

    Hood said the executors had wanted stronger terms in the option that would have “inhibited Sherman’s ability to resell the purchased business or take the Empire companies public. Sherman refused such terms.”

    After the 1967 purchase of Empire, the corporation that owned the drug company, Sherman & Ulster, entered into a share swap with shareholders from a different corporation in 1969. As a result, Sherman and his associates lost control of S & U, Hood said.

    The judge found the option agreement “arguably became null and void” at that time.

    “It is an abuse of process, in the circumstances of this case, to come to the court asking to proceed, even if against different parties, where the relief and issues arise from the same relationships and subject matter that have already been dealt with by Justice Perell and the Court of Appeal,” Hood wrote.


    Lawsuit seeking piece of Toronto billionaire Barry Sherman's fortune 'wishful thinking,' judge rulesLawsuit seeking piece of Toronto billionaire Barry Sherman's fortune 'wishful thinking,' judge rules

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