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TOPSTORIES

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    I like Hillary. I really do.

    Pretty much always have liked Hillary Rodham Clinton. Except maybe during that impossible-to-pull-off 60 Minutes interview in 1992 — right after the Super Bowl game — in which she indisputably rescued her horndog husband’s presidential ambitions but damaged herself with women across the ideological spectrum.

    A lounge singer by the name of Gennifer Flowers had just gone public about her long-standing affair with Bill: 12 years a mistress.

    “You know, I’m not sitting here, some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette. I’m sitting here because I love him and I respect him, and I honour what he’s been through and what we’ve been through together. And you know, if that’s not enough for people, then heck — don’t vote for him.”

    As a Politico feature from exactly a year ago observed, Clinton’s job in that sit-down being “strong enough to help him but not so strong as to hurt him.”

    Ah well, ancient history now. As is, 10 months later, a U.S. election that rocked the world.

    Read more:

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

    Hillary Clinton book tour stopping in Toronto in September

    We’ve all become a little too #blessed: Timson

    One way or the other, Hillary Clinton has been walking that fine line — with Bill and without Bill — for the entirety of her public life. She displeases too easily. Too hard and she’s shrill; too soft and she’s phoney.

    A deplorable woman who — twice — reached too high, as her legion of haters would have it. As even a sizable contingent of Democrats would have it, blaming Clinton for the fact that Donald Trump now occupies the White House.

    “(I) have come to terms with the fact that a lot of people — millions and millions of people — decided they just didn’t like me,” she writes in her election post-mortem, What Happened, the memoir which Clinton came to Toronto on Thursday to promote. “It hurts. And it’s a hard thing to accept. But there’s no getting around it.”

    It should be noted that, when she resigned as secretary of state, Clinton was polling as the most popular and admired woman on the planet. What happened, indeed.

    Well, Trumpism happened. And tribal populism. And unprecedented filthiness on the hustings, misanthropy meets misogyny. And Russian hacking happened. And alt-right fake news happened. And, 11 days before Americans went to the polls, Jim Comey happened — an astounding intrusion on the political landscape, with the then-FBI director telling Congress he was reopening the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server (three months after announcing there was no basis for criminal charges), but saying not a word about the ongoing investigation into whether some of Trump’s closest associates had colluded with Russia.

    Days later, Comey revealed nothing had been found in the additional emails examined.

    Too little too late.

    It was oxygen for the worst of Trump’s “Crooked Hillary” attacks and his braying LOCK HER UP! mobs.

    The record shows that Comey’s tacit criminal implication of Clinton — take-back notwithstanding — was the lead story in the country’s new cycle in six out of seven mornings from Oct. 29 to November 4, as the Republicans dumped upwards of $17 million into Comey-related ads in battleground states.

    Clinton’s lead in the polls collapsed, dropping by three points in the following week. The extent of the erosion, would not truly be realized until election day — and despite the fact she won the popular vote by nearly three million.

    Emails. For the love of God, those damn inconsequential emails. A fart in a mitten, a scandal without substance, and so clearly incomprehensible as an issue to most Americans. Except, with media banging that drum relentlessly — led by the New York Times (Trump should get down on his knees and thank the “The Gray Lady” rather than endlessly excoriating the paper) — those trivial emails, that nugatory transgression of not using a secure server while at the State Department, were elevated into a monumental controversy. A fortnight before the election, network newscasts spent 32 minutes nightly on Clinton’s policies versus 100 minutes devoted to her emails.

    It is to laugh, now. Or to cry.

    A false equivalency, as media mishmashed Clinton’s puny indiscretion with Trump’s outrageous calumnies, from bragging about sexual assault to the chicanery of Trump University to the bromance with Vladimir Putin etc. etc. etc.

    “If it’s all my fault, then the media doesn’t need to do any soul searching,” Clinton writes.

    We’re still blaming Hillary, vilifying her even more from the left than the right.

    A recent review of What Happened in the Guardian, that most sanctimonious of left-wing newspapers, slams Clinton for blaming everyone else but herself, “with no twinge of remorse.” We must have read different books because Clinton blames herself on almost every page. She wears all of it, revisiting her mistakes, admitting that her policy wonkery often didn’t play well, regretting that she hadn’t gone down ’n‘ dirtier with Trump — although she won all of their debates.

    But the bar was set so stupidly high for Clinton, with that surname and that gender and that public resume.

    In my travels across the U.S., especially during this election campaign but also in her 2008 bid for the nomination, I’ve never understood the vehemence, the virulence, Clinton provoked. I wanted Clinton to win that first run at the nomination over Barack Obama because it was her time more than his. Yet she became a tireless and praiseworthy secretary of state, doing so much of Barack’s heavy lifting in the complex dimension of diplomacy. And I say that even while unsatisfied with Clinton’s non-mea culpa for the debacle of the 2012 attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, a ghastly event she barely touches on in her book apart from reminding that she spent 11 hours answering questions about it before House and Senate committees.

    Many Democrats apparently didn’t want Clinton to write this election memoir, just as they disapprove of the interviews she’s given in recent months. A New York Daily News columnist actually wrote: “Hey, Hillary Clinton, shut the f--- up and go away already.”

    I found the book deeply poignant in places, bewildered in others and humanizing in its behind the scenes detail. All of us wondered, on the morning of Nov. 9, how she could bear it, when just about everybody — certainly including the Clintons — had pretty much assumed victory. And losing to . . . that man.

    “A lot of people have asked me, ‘How did you even get out of bed?’ Reading the news every morning was like ripping off a scab . . . There are times when all I want to do is scream into a pillow.”

    Her personal motto is simple: Keep going.

    With a husband she loves, a daughter she adores, two grandchildren who give her endless pleasure and the knowledge that 65,844,954 Americans cast their ballots for her.

    She would have made a damn fine president. Look what they got instead.

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


    Amid endless vilification, Hillary Clinton keeps on going: DiMannoAmid endless vilification, Hillary Clinton keeps on going: DiManno

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    Mother told she was being put on a long-term waitlist at a time municipality was putting out a call for families to apply. Region says parent was sent an outdated letter, but situation being rectified.

    York Region parent questions daycare subsidy driveYork Region parent questions daycare subsidy drive

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    The revelation comes amid a bitter and escalating dogfight between U.S. aerospace giant Boeing and Montreal-based Bombardier.

    Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says Canada considered buying Kuwaiti jetsDefence Minister Harjit Sajjan says Canada considered buying Kuwaiti jets

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    Two people are dead after being struck by a vehicle in separate collisions in Scarborough Thursday.

    The first collision happened in the area of Birchmount Rd. and St. Clair Ave. E. around 4:30 p.m, Toronto police Const. Jenifferjit Sidhu said. Police were called for reports of a pedestrian hit by a truck.

    Sidhu said initial reports from the scene say the pedestrian was pinned underneath the truck.

    When emergency services arrived, they found a man believed to be in his 50s unconscious and not breathing. He was pronounced dead on scene, paramedics said.

    Two other people were taken to hospital with minor injuries. Sidhu said there are reports that the truck also hit a telephone pole and another car.

    Police have one person in custody. Birchmount Rd. is closed in both directions between St. Clair Ave. E. and Danforth Rd. for police investigation.

    The second collision happened around 9:40 p.m. in the area of Steeles Ave. E. and McCowan Rd. Police were called for reports of another pedestrian hit by a vehicle.

    Paramedics said a person was found without vital signs. He was later pronounced dead on scene.

    McCowan Rd. is closed in both directions between Alton Towers Circle and Steeles Ave. E. for police investigation.

    It’s the fourth pedestrian fatality in the city in the last 24 hours. On Wednesday, around 9:30 p.m., a mother and her 5-year-old daughter were struck and killed while crossing Warden Ave. and Continental Pl., near Ellesmere Rd.


    Two people struck and killed in two Scarborough collisionsTwo people struck and killed in two Scarborough collisions

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    Burma’s authorities came under intensifying pressure Thursday over the Rohingya refugee crisis, with the United Nations secretary-general calling it a “human rights nightmare” that has driven more than a half-million civilians into Bangladesh in the past month.

    The remarks by the secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, came at a UN Security Council meeting devoted to the crisis, which has escalated into what he described as “the world’s fastest developing refugee emergency.”

    The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki R. Haley, demanded that Burma’s authorities punish those in the military who have killed and abused members of the Rohingya, a long-persecuted Muslim group in Burma, a Buddhist-majority country. Haley also called for a halt to the shipment of foreign arms to Burma’s security forces.

    Read more: Burma officials blame insurgents for killing 45 Hindu villagers found in mass graves

    “We cannot be afraid to call the actions of the Burmese authorities what they appear to be: a brutal, sustained campaign to cleanse the country of an ethnic minority,” Haley said.

    The 15-member Security Council took no immediate action, but diplomats called it a starting point and noted that the council had not discussed Burma publicly since 2009.

    Haley’s remarks were the strongest she has yet made on the crisis, and raised the possibility that the United States might reimpose sanctions on Burma that were rescinded under the Obama administration.

    Guterres, who led UN refugee operations for 10 years, demanded an immediate halt to military operations by Burma’s security forces against Rohingya civilians and called for unfettered access by aid groups to areas that have been cut off.

    “We have received bone-chilling accounts from those who had fled — mainly women, children and the elderly,” he told the Security Council.

    Burma’s national security adviser, U Thaung Tun, who also attended the meeting, reiterated the government’s rejection of accusations that it has systematically persecuted the Rohingya. He described the military’s actions in Rakhine state, the centre of the crisis, as counterterrorism operations against Rohingya militants who killed members of the security forces on Aug. 25.

    He also asserted that Burma wanted friendly relations with Bangladesh, where the total population of Rohingya refugees is nearing a million. Burma’s outreach to Bangladesh, he said, “gives the lie to the assertion that there is a policy of ethnic cleansing on our part.”

    Hours before the Security Council meeting, officials in Burma abruptly postponed a planned visit by representatives of UN aid agencies and diplomats to Rakhine state.

    The hosts blamed bad weather and said the trip would be postponed until Oct. 2, even though the envoys had gathered at the airport in Rangoon, Burma’s commercial capital, to board their flight.

    Thousands of Rohingya refugees continue to flee into Bangladesh. A Bangladeshi diplomat said 20,000 had arrived on Wednesday alone.

    Some have walked for days in search of safety, others have made the dangerous journey by boat, made even more treacherous by the monsoon rains.

    At least 15 Rohingya people, including nine children, were killed Thursday when the trawler carrying them capsized in the Bay of Bengal. Their bodies washed up on the shore alongside some survivors.

    “The women and children couldn’t swim,” one survivor, Nuru Salam, 22, told reporters. He had tried to cross with his entire family, he said, when the boat tipped. His son drowned, and he was still searching for his wife.

    The International Organization for Migration, the UN agency that has been monitoring the influx of Rohingya into Bangladesh, said about 100 people had boarded the vessel a day earlier.

    A young woman who made it to shore said the captain had tried to anchor the boat in rough seas and lost control. Local residents saw the boat capsize from shore.

    “These people thought they had finally arrived to safety but died before even touching land,” said Abdullah Al Mamoun, an International Organization for Migration staff member.

    Nearly half of Burma’s Rohingya population has fled into Bangladesh since the government crackdown began. Survivors have recounted massacres in their villages in Rakhine state, both by government security forces and allied mobs.

    Those who reach Bangladesh face overcrowded, unsanitary conditions in the makeshift camps for the displaced. The UN refugee agency has expressed concern about a health crisis.

    “We are trying to prepare ourselves, but if not enough is done, and not done quickly enough, then there is a risk of a disaster within a disaster,” said Hervé Isambert, the refugee agency’s senior public health officer.

    Those Rohingya left behind in Burma have been cut off from aid.

    In a statement on Thursday, aid groups, including Oxfam and Save the Children, called on the Burma government to allow free access to Rakhine so they could “provide life-saving humanitarian assistance.”

    Officials associated with the office of Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s de facto leader, have accused international aid groups of abetting Rohingya militants. Aid groups have rejected the accusations.


    UN Security Council speaks out against Burma as Rohingya refugee crisis worsensUN Security Council speaks out against Burma as Rohingya refugee crisis worsens

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    REGINA—Police say no criminal charges will be laid after a man was physically removed from a Canadian Tire store in Regina this summer.

    On July 26, Kamao Cappo, who is 53, was forced out of the store after he was accused of theft.

    Cappo reported to police that he’d been assaulted and that he was targeted because he is Indigenous.

    Police say they consulted with Saskatchewan Justice, which recommended no charges be laid.

    Cappo’s video of the altercation has been viewed more than 1 million times online and the employee lost his job over the incident.

    He says he’s stunned and saddened by the decision.

    “It’s a really sad message for our people and our children,” Cappo said Thursday.

    “Indigenous people experience this on a regular basis and they do not report it...they just accept it. I wanted to show them they could succeed, so this is devastating.”

    Cappo says he has yet to receive an official apology from Canadian Tire officials.

    Read more:

    Indigenous man live-streams altercation with Canadian Tire employee

    Canadian Tire employee involved in altercation with customer no longer with company


    Regina police say no charges after man accused of theft thrown out of Canadian TireRegina police say no charges after man accused of theft thrown out of Canadian Tire

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    A family dinner out ended in tragedy on Wednesday night when a 5-year-old girl and her mother were struck and killed by vehicles on Warden Ave. as they attempted to cross it afterwards.

    The 34-year-old woman and her daughter died when they were struck just before 9:30 p.m. after eating at Silver Spoon restaurant.

    The two were taken to hospital in critical condition, where they were later pronounced dead.

    Police said it was a family of four that crossed Warden Ave. and Continental Pl. near Ellesmere Rd. The father and another child, 2, crossed the street safely while the mother and daughter were struck.

    The two were first hit by a car that remained at the scene. The mother was then struck by a second vehicle in the southbound lane and the driver fled, said Toronto Police Const. Joe McDougall.

    Local restaurateur Ronald Tyrell, whose restaurant is in the same plaza as Silver Spoon, said he could see the father pacing back and forth between the two bodies with his 2-year-old child.

    “I saw the guy walking with the kid,” he said. “He was walking back and forth seeming a bit confused.”

    Despite the two nearest streetlights being roughly a four-minute walk away, there was no crosswalk in the area where the family crossed.

    “I think it’s probably one of the most dangerous, if not the most dangerous road in Scarborough,” said Tyrell, who has been operating My Father’s Place on Warden Ave. for six years. “People who come to buy lunch here are always complaining about the danger.”

    Wednesday’s incident was the third reported fatal incident in the area. According to police data, a pedestrian was killed over a kilometre away in 2007, while another suffered serious injuries in 2015.

    Safe-street advocate Maureen Coyle said the area is a “trouble spot,” as drivers on wide suburban roads often treat them as they would highways instead of streets where people could be crossing.

    “This is not built with pedestrians in mind, at all,” said Coyle, co-founder of pedestrian advocacy group Walk Toronto.

    On Thursday afternoon, numerous pedestrians continued to run across the busy street filled with trucks and cars to catch buses on both sides of the road. Many seemed oblivious to the devastating scene that had unfolded on Wednesday night.

    Julie Deng ran hurriedly across the road to get to the bus stop on the other side. She said she was shocked at how far the street lights were, adding that it was even stranger that there was no sign at least to tell vehicles to be cautious.

    “There are bus stops on either side, but no cross walk, it seems very dangerous,” she said Thursday afternoon.

    Seven months ago, a resident called the City of Toronto to complain about the intersection, said Toronto councillor Norm Kelly, who acknowledged that Warden Ave. is one of the busiest streets in Scarborough.

    He said the resident called his office in February asking for a crosswalk. Kelly was told by the city’s transportation staff that the spot wasn’t a good fit for a crosswalk, so instead, he asked for a report to assess whether or not a traffic light might be necessary. Such reports usually take eight or nine months, he added.

    “Today, as a result of the tragedy, we contacted staff to see where that report was,” he said. “I think it’s going to be coming out shortly.”

    Kelly said accidents happen even when there are crosswalks and traffic lights, adding that he wants to wait until he sees the staff report before making any decisions, despite the emotions surrounding the incident.

    “Any solution has to be well-thought out and sensitive,” he said. “It’s a young family. It’s tragic, and it’s devastating.”

    Kelly said he isn’t sure yet if the family lived in his ward, but that he’s trying to get in touch with them.

    The results of a pedestrian crossing protection study for Warden and Sylla Aves. should be available by mid-November, city spokesperson Bruce Hawkins said in an e-mail. The study is considering traffic lights, as the road is too wide with too many lanes for a crosswalk.

    Twenty-four pedestrians and cyclists have been killed on Toronto’s roads so far this year. Last year, the total was 28, according to Toronto police spokesperson Clint Stibbe.

    Police are still looking for the vehicle that fled the scene. It is described as a 2006 or 2011 black Honda Civic.

    With files from May Warren, Metro


    Family dinner out ends in tragedy after mom and 5-year-old daughter struck and killed in ScarboroughFamily dinner out ends in tragedy after mom and 5-year-old daughter struck and killed in Scarborough

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    Two years after the impaired driving crash that claimed the lives of three children and their grandfather, Marco Muzzo has reportedly been moved to a minimum security prison and is likely to apply for unattended day release in October.

    On Sept. 26, Jennifer Neville-Lake wrote a tribute to all three of her children — Daniel, 9, Harry, 5, and Milly, 2 — on Facebook in a post shared more than 2,000 times.

    “Another year is dead and gone,” she wrote. “Another year and I’m still here. Another year of every day hearing how many others have joined this gruesome family I was forced into, made up of victims of impaired driving.”

    Also killed during the 2015 crash in Vaughan was Neville-Lake’s father, Gary Neville, 69. Badly injured were her mother, Neriza Neville, and grandmother Josefina Frias.

    The anniversary and post came as Muzzo appears to be benefiting from prison rules designed to help inmates reintegrate into the community.

    Read more:

    ‘You killed all my babies,’ grieving mother tells Marco Muzzo

    Despite being sentenced in March 2016 to 10 years for impaired driving, Muzzo can apply for “unescorted temporary absences” on Oct. 18. They can be granted by the prison’s warden, according to Corrections Canada spokesman Kyle Lawlor.

    Global News reported that Muzzo was moved from medium security to a minimum security prison last week.

    But Corrections Canada would not confirm this or the name of the prison where he is being held.

    An inmate’s preparedness for a minimum security prison, which has no fences but does have boundaries, is decided based on three factors, according to Corrections Canada: an inmate’s risk to the public, their flight risk and their institutional behaviour.

    YorkRegion.com repeatedly asked Corrections Canada why the details of Muzzo’s imprisonment are being withheld from the public, but was told information could not be released under the Privacy Act.

    Corrections Canada did provide Muzzo’s schedule for release, including his eligibility for day parole, on Nov. 9, 2018; full parole eligibility, on May 9, 2019; his statutory release date, June 18, 2022; and his warrant expiry, June 28, 2025.

    York Regional Police say impaired driving charges remain high, despite having fallen somewhat from last year. From January 2017 to Sept. 12, there were 853 impaired charges in the region, down 47 from 2016.

    Meanwhile, the Facebook post from Jennifer Neville-Lake described her continued agony over her children’s death.

    “I’ve learned about how unfair, unjust and just downright cruel it is that I have to wait to be driven daily to visit my children and my dad at their forever bed, to sit at the foot of a tombstone that bears their beautiful photos and the dates of their individual sunrises and sunsets,” Lake’s post said. “The cold, lifeless monument that bears their names is a stark reminder of what happened to them and who took them away from me and put them in the cold ground.”


    Impaired driver Marco Muzzo moved to minimum security prison, reports sayImpaired driver Marco Muzzo moved to minimum security prison, reports say

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    Former U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton took to a Toronto stage Thursday night in front of a cheering audience of thousands, a scene reminiscent of the campaign trail she left behind on Nov. 8, 2016.

    Her electoral loss was almost a year old, but the sting is clearly still fresh.

    “There were times when I just wanted to pull the covers over my head,” Clinton said of her failed campaign.

    The appearance in Toronto was part of a 15-city tour to promote her newly released memoir, What Happened. And, like her memoir, the speech darted between reasons for her electoral loss — including individuals from former FBI director James Comey to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange — and the “phoney stories and hysterical appeals” of right-wing press outlets.

    The event itself was tightly locked down. Men and women in black suits, many with telltale earpieces snaking up their necks, led media to a cordoned-off area and audience members to their places.

    RCMP officers were embedded for Clinton’s protection, and maintained a low profile. Instead of their usual scarlet uniforms, they wore suits that blended easily with the crowd of about 5,000 — most of them women, who howled and applauded above Clinton’s comments, which ranged in topic from Donald Trump to HGTV.

    Read more:

    Amid endless vilification, Hillary Clinton keeps on going: DiManno

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

    We’ve all become a little too #blessed: Timson

    After a musical opener warmed up the crowd, playing songs such as “Sway” and “Hold On,” Clinton’s appearance began with a set of opening remarks, which brought the crowd to their feet.

    From the back of the room, one woman called out: “We love you!”

    The comment echoed through the room. Clinton beamed, telling the crowd her family had vacationed in Quebec just this year. Veering into politics, she singled out Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as “charismatic and compassionate.”

    “I remember when we had that in America,” she said, again delighting the crowd.

    After a preamble that expressed admiration for both Harriet Tubman and Kelly Clarkson, Clinton settled into a chair across from her moderator for the night — Caroline Codsi, president and founder of Women in Governance.

    She was ready, she said, for the “hard questions.”

    But the questions posed to Clinton were adoring. Recalling a televised debate between her and her opponent, Trump, the moderator described the latter as “like a big bad wolf in a business suit.” At one point, Codsi prompted the crowd to give Clinton a round of applause for her pre-candidacy accomplishments.

    “Why did he refuse to say anything?” Codsi asked of Comey and the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the presidential campaign. Why, it was also asked, did he choose to go public about the investigation into Clinton’s emails?

    “I don’t know why he did it,” Clinton responded. “I know it was the principal reason I lost the election.” She added that she had her doubts about whether the former director truly thought the allegations were “serious,” and that she didn’t blame voters for her loss.

    She does, however, fear for the era her nation lives in under the leadership of the man who beat her in the election.

    “We are living through an all-out assault on truth and reason,” she said.

    All the while, the crowd clapped along, booing at mentions of Trump. Clinton didn’t shy away from jabs at her former opponent and his apparent liking of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    “He likes all that macho performance,” Clinton said of Trump, adding that the current president took a liking to authoritarianism because it “dispenses with all the messiness of democracy.”

    Comparing Canadian and American politics, she hailed the parliamentary system north of the border — because in America, she said dryly, “literally anyone can run for president.” She openly called her opponent a “creep.”

    Codsi pointed out that Americans often tease Canadians, but “we have Trudeau, and you have Trump, so who’s laughing now?”

    “Yeah, Canadians really are nice,” Clinton responded, chuckling.

    As Codsi continued to praise Clinton, the former candidate herself voiced the confusion that was palpable in the room: “How did I lose, listening to you, Caroline?” she asked.

    Throughout the hour, she speculated in particular on issues of sexism. “For men, professional success and likability go hand in hand,” she said. “Not for women.”

    There was a kind of “blowback about women’s progress” happening, she said. Sen. Elizabeth Warren was silenced when she tried to read a letter from Coretta Scott King in the Senate about Attorney General Jeff Sessions, she noted, but a male colleague was able to continue.

    Just last week in Canada, she added, former Conservative cabinet minister Gerry Ritz called current Environment Minister Catherine McKenna “climate Barbie” in a derogatory tweet.

    The only way to combat sexism in politics is to increase the representation of women, Clinton asserted. “It’s not just what happened to me in 2016.”

    Asked about the next generation of women in politics and the impact of movements like the Women’s March, Clinton said: “There’s a lot of great energy in the United States right now.” Though her experience was daunting, she said she hoped it wouldn’t dissuade other women from entering the political arena.

    “I don’t want anyone to give up because it’s hard.”

    Asked if she had any names for potential candidates in the 2020 presidential election, Clinton dodged specific answers, commending individuals working in fields from government to the private sector. She said she would expect between 20 and 25 candidates in the running.

    And, she added, if there’s a woman among them, “I hope that she’s someone I can agree with so I can support her.”


    ‘We are living through an all-out assault on truth and reason,’ Clinton warns adoring Toronto crowd‘We are living through an all-out assault on truth and reason,’ Clinton warns adoring Toronto crowd

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    NEW YORK—The head of the U.S. Air Force Academy delivered a resounding message on Thursday in response to racial slurs that were found on the academy’s campus, saying that if students could not treat their peers of different races with respect, “then you need to get out.”

    In a five-minute address in front of the academy’s 4,000 cadets and 1,500 staff members, Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria affirmed the air force’s belief in “the power of diversity” and insisted that “small thinking and horrible ideas” had no place there.

    He was responding to racial slurs that were found on the dormitory message boards of five black students at a preparatory school on the academy’s campus on Monday, said the academy, which is investigating.

    “If you’re outraged by those words then you’re in the right place,” Silveria said. “You should be outraged not only as an airman, but as a human being.”

    The episode attracted national attention when Tracye Whitfield, the mother of one of the students, posted a photo on Facebook of the message, which paired the words “go home” with a racial slur. “It’s a nerve-racking feeling,” Whitfield told a local news station in Colorado Springs, near where the academy is located.

    The preparatory school, usually called the “prep school,” prepares candidates for admission to the academy proper. About 240 students, called “cadet candidates,” attend the school each year.

    Though the slurs were discovered at the prep school, “it would be naïve” to think the episode did not reflect on the academy and the air force as a whole, Silveria said.

    “Some of you may think that that happened down at the prep school and doesn’t apply to us,” he said. “I would be naïve, and we would all be naïve, to think that everything is perfect here.”

    He then explicitly linked the discovery of the slurs to events like the demonstrations in Charlottesville, Va., where white supremacists marched with torches in August, and Ferguson, Mo., where the fatal shooting of a black teenager by a police officer in 2014 set off protests across the country. He said that these events formed a backdrop that had to be addressed, and that to think otherwise would be “tone deaf.”

    After calling for a civil discourse, he spoke of the power of various forms of diversity, evoking “the power that we come from all walks of life, that we come from all parts of this country, that we come from all races, we come from all backgrounds, gender, all makeup, all upbringing.”

    He added: “This is our institution and no one can take away our values. No one can write on a board and question our values.”

    Silveria grew up in an air force family and graduated from the academy in 1985. It was announced in May that he would return to become superintendent, and in his first address to cadets, in August, he said that his defining values were “respect and dignity.”

    Toward the end of his remarks on Thursday, he referenced those values again, exhorting cadets to take out their phones and film his words so that they could remember, share and discuss them.

    “If you can’t treat someone from another gender with dignity and respect, then you need to get out,” he said. “If you demean someone in any way, you need to get out. If you can’t treat someone from another race, or different colour skin, with dignity and respect, then you need to get out.”

    The Air Force Academy has struggled to address different forms of discrimination in the past. In 2014, a Pentagon report found that sexual assault and harassment were widespread at the three military academies and that, of the 70 reported incidents in the 2012-2013 school year, almost two-thirds took place at the Air Force Academy. There were 32 reports of sexual assault at the school in the 2015-2016 school year, the Pentagon said, down from 49 the previous year.

    The academy has also come under fire for religious intolerance and insensitivity. A 2005 Pentagon report found that there was a “perception of religious bias” on campus as well as examples of improper proselytizing from both cadets and officers at the school.


    Show respect or ‘get out,’ U.S. general says after racist slurs found on air force campusShow respect or ‘get out,’ U.S. general says after racist slurs found on air force campus

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    MONTREAL—Ismael Habib’s strong loyalty to the principles of Daesh, also known as ISIS, as well as the lack of evidence supporting his prospect for rehabilitation justified a nine-year prison term, a Quebec court judge said Friday.

    Judge Serge Delisle sentenced Habib to nine years in prison for attempting to leave Canada to join Daesh and for giving false information to obtain a passport.

    He cited the 29-year-old Habib’s “total adherence” to the principals and goals of Daesh as a factor justifying a longer sentence.

    “This was not the utopian and thoughtless project of a teenager who was manipulated or carried away by an impulse,” Delisle told the court.

    “It was rather with perfect knowledge of the objectives of the Islamic State and the methods used by this entity that the offender multiplied the steps to return to Syria and join the Islamic State.”

    Additionally, Delisle noted the court had not been presented with any evidence on Habib’s prospects for rehabilitation, which he cited as another reason for the nine-year term.

    Habib was given eight years for the terrorism offence and one year for the passport violation.

    The time Habib has already spend in custody was subtracted from the sentence, leaving him with just over six-and-a-half years left to serve.

    Habib will be eligible for parole after completing half the sentence.

    His attorney had suggested six-and-a-half years minus the nearly 27 months Habib has served in pre-trial custody.

    The accused was ensnared by an RCMP-led sting operation, in which he admitted to an undercover agent posing as a crime boss that he wanted to travel to Syria to join Daesh.

    He was found guilty in June, making him the first adult in Canada to be convicted after going to trial on the charge of attempting to leave Canada to join Daesh.


    Ismael Habib sentenced to 9 years for attempting to leave Canada to join DaeshIsmael Habib sentenced to 9 years for attempting to leave Canada to join Daesh

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    MIAMI—The take-a-knee protests over racial justice now run the age gamut — from 6 to 97.

    A 6-year-old, emulating NFL football players’ take-a-knee protests, knelt for the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance in his classroom in a suburb of Tampa, Fla.

    But his action didn’t go over any better than the NFL stars’ protests went over with President Donald Trump.

    The boy’s teacher at Wiregrass Elementary School in Pasco County told him to stand and show respect for the flag. His mother says the school should not have publicly reprimanded him.

    Eugenia McDowell told ABC News that the teacher sent her a text message on Monday, alerting her of her son’s protest and how she had admonished him. McDowell was not pleased with the response because she felt the admonishment in front of his classmates encroached on her son’s freedom of speech. McDowell passed the text along to ABC News.

    The teacher’s message to McDowell read: “I knew where he had seen (kneeling), but I did tell him that in the classroom, we are learning what it means to be a good citizen, we’re learning about respecting the United States of America and our country symbols and showing loyalty and patriotism and that we stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.”

    A spokesperson for the Pasco County School District told ABC that the teacher responded to the incident by mouthing, “We stand for the pledge” when she saw the boy kneeling. The district policy requires students to have written exemption from their parents if they don’t plan to take part in the pledge.

    The night before, on Sunday, one in eight NFL players, about 200, took a knee before their games during the national anthem to protest police brutality and social inequality.

    Trump took to Twitter and said that the NFL should have rules prohibiting kneeling during the national anthem.

    In one tweet he said, “Standing with locked arms is good, kneeling is not acceptable. Bad Ratings!” In speeches, he called for players to be fired. People, Trump said, “MUST honour and respect” the American flag.

    McDowell didn’t know what her son planned on doing, but he’d had plenty of inspiration. Aside from the televised football games, his two older brothers knelt during the national anthem at their high school football game last year, McDowell told the Tampa Bay Times.

    “What he did was have a difference of opinion. He was not being disrespectful. He was silently protesting and exercising his constitutional right,” McDowell told ABC News. “My concern is she infringed upon his constitutional right to express himself, to protest peacefully, and she also made him feel like his decision to come up with his own opinion about things was the wrong thing to do.”


    ‘We stand for the Pledge,’ Florida teacher tells 6-year-old who took a knee in class‘We stand for the Pledge,’ Florida teacher tells 6-year-old who took a knee in class

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    A judge in Louisiana on Thursday said that Black Lives Matter is a social movement and therefore can’t be sued, dismissing a lawsuit brought by an anonymous police officer.

    In his ruling, Chief Judge Brian Jackson, of the U.S. District Court in Baton Rouge, said that the lawsuit against several parties, including Black Lives Matter and DeRay Mckesson, one of the movement’s most prominent supporters, suffered from “numerous deficiencies.”

    The officer, of the Baton Rouge Police Department, first filed the suit late last year, arguing that the pair should be held responsible for injuries he suffered while responding to protests in 2016. A rock or piece of concrete thrown at a protest struck him, he said, resulting in loss of teeth and injuries to his jaw, brain and head.

    The protest at which the officer was injured, attended by Mckesson, was held in Baton Rouge in July 2016 amid widespread demonstrations over police shootings of black men. The officer alleged that Mckesson had helped incite violence at the protest. That month saw five police officers killed at a march against police shootings in Dallas, and three more killed in Baton Rouge.

    This summer, the officer added two more parties to his lawsuit. One was Black Lives Matter Network, Inc., a group associated with the movement. The other was “#BlackLivesMatter,” which, Jackson noted repeatedly in italics, is a hashtag, a marker used on Twitter to flag posts about a similar topic.

    In his ruling, Jackson acknowledged that groups and individuals associated with the movement can be brought to court. But Black Lives Matter was an exception, he said.

    “Black Lives Matter,” as a social movement, cannot be sued, however, in a similar way that a person cannot plausibly sue other social movements such as the Civil Rights movement, the L.G.B.T. rights movement, or the Tea Party movement. If he could state a plausible claim for relief, a plaintiff could bring suit against entities associated with those movements, though, such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Human Rights Campaign, or Tea Party Patriots.

    Jackson also chafed at the inclusion of the hashtag, which the officer and his lawyers defined as “a national unincorporated association” in California.

    For reasons that should be obvious, a hashtag — which is an expression that categorizes or classifies a person’s thought — is not a “juridical person” and therefore lacks the capacity to be sued. Amending the Complaint to add “#BlackLivesMatter” as a Defendant in this matter would be futile because such claims “would be subject to dismissal”; a hashtag is patently incapable of being sued.

    In the end, he criticized the officer and his lawyers for including either.

    Plaintiff’s attempt to bring suit against a social movement and a hashtag evinces either a gross lack of understanding of the concept of capacity or bad faith.

    Billy Gibbens, a lawyer for Mckesson, said he was pleased with the ruling.

    “DeRay has repeatedly said that he doesn’t endorse violence, and we’re sorry for what happened to the officer, but I think the judge was right that he’s not responsible,” he said.

    This case may be resolved, but another, brought before the same judge by a different officer, against Mckesson, Black Lives Matter, the hashtag, and others, remains, Gibbens said.

    A lawyer for the anonymous officer could not immediately be reached.


    No, you can’t sue #BlackLivesMatter, judge says in ruling against injured Louisiana copNo, you can’t sue #BlackLivesMatter, judge says in ruling against injured Louisiana cop

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    Former U.S. president Barack Obama visited Toronto on Friday to deliver a lunchtime speech about global citizenship. The event was hosted by Ottawa-based think-tank Canada2020.

    The Obama event at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre was expected to attract about 3,000 people, with politicians at all levels attending.


    Obama speaks in Toronto: 'Me and Canada, we just have this thing'Obama speaks in Toronto: 'Me and Canada, we just have this thing'

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    OTTAWA—Conservative MP Candice Bergen said the Liberals should have protested when China denied her a visa to travel there with other parliamentarians this summer, instead of leaving her behind.

    The Opposition House leader was supposed to be among the MPs and senators on the Canada-China Legislative Association who travelled overseas Aug. 14 to 27. She was hoping to talk to Chinese politicians and government officials about Canadian canola exports and human rights.

    She said she was alarmed by some of the personal details China asked of those going on the trip, especially since they were travelling on special passports, so she decided to leave some information about her family out of the application.

    Read more: Trudeau urges Canadian companies to seek fortune in China

    China denied her visa a few days before the group was due to leave.

    “That was disappointing and shocking,” said Bergen, who pointed out she was a minister of state in the former Conservative government and had been to China before, in March 2016.

    What surprised her even more, she said, was that when she sent an email to others in the group asking whether they were going to do anything about it, such as cancelling the visit, she never heard back.

    “It was just crickets,” she said. “No word at all from anybody on the Liberal side and they all went on the trip.”

    Sen. Joseph Day, who co-chairs the Canada-China Legislative Association, said the group did push back on the invasive nature of the application form, but were told by Canadian and Chinese officials, as well as the politicians they later met on the trip, they did not have a choice if they wanted to go.

    “The Chinese were not flexible on that,” said Day.

    “It’s reflective of what other countries are asking for, including Canada, when people visit those countries, so they wouldn’t change it.”

    A spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland confirmed no one should expect special treatment.

    "All Canadians seeking to visit a foreign country should comply with the entry procedures required by that country," Adam Austen wrote in an email Friday.

    "No Canadian is obliged to fill out an application required to visit another country, however, they might be refused entry if they choose not to do so," he said. "Similarly, Canada expects that all visitors to our country comply with the appropriate laws and regulations."

    Still, Conservative MP Cathy McLeod said she also left out some information she did not feel comfortable disclosing.

    She said she was granted a visa anyway.

    Once she learned Bergen could not go, she decided to stay home too.

    Bergen said she eventually heard back from Day, who said China had the right to decide who to let in.

    She acknowledged that to be true, but suggested Canada would not bar an elected official.

    “Can you imagine that ever happening and the fallout from that?” she said.

    There was, in fact, a lot of controversy in 2009 when the Canadian Border Services Agency denied entry to George Galloway, then a British MP.

    Day said cancelling the trip would not have been fair to those who did complete their forms and wanted to keep building relationships with China.

    According to records provided by the Senate, the parliamentarians who did go were Day, Liberal MPs Geng Tan, Terry Sheehan, Terry Duguid and Majid Jowhari, New Democrat MP Jenny Kwan, Senate Liberal Percy Downe and Conservative Sen. Victor Oh.

    A spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa did not respond to a request for comment.

    Bergen said she thinks the lack of protest has more to do with the Liberal government’s efforts to secure a free trade deal with China.

    “This is how they negotiate and it seems the Liberals, even on something like this, don’t seem to have the fortitude to be able to stand up to China and stand up for Canadians and in this case, a Canadian parliamentarian,” she said.

    Bergen said she recently wrote to John McCallum, Canada’s ambassador to China, about the incident.

    Day said it is important to maintain relationships in China for all sorts of reasons, noting that members of the parliamentary group had done their part to help convince China to lift the ban on Canadian beef imports during previous visits.

    “You can only get that done through personal contacts and repeated visits. It doesn’t happen overnight,” he said.

    “So to say that ‘I don’t like your form that you’ve produced and I’m not going to tell you that information, and give me the visa anyway,’ it just doesn’t work,” he said. “We’d refuse a visa to the Chinese if they didn’t fill the form out.”


    Tory MP Candice Bergen says Liberals didn’t help after China denied her visaTory MP Candice Bergen says Liberals didn’t help after China denied her visa

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    A Toronto-area company’s upcoming video game called Dirty Chinese Restaurant is being denounced as racist, but the business says its product is meant as satire.

    Big-O-Tree Games says the game — in which players chase cats and dogs with a cleaver, scavenge for ingredients and dodge immigration officials — “in no way is meant to be an accurate representation of Chinese culture.”

    The Markham company says the game is coming out soon for Apple and Android devices but it has yet to announce a release date.

    A New York congresswoman this week urged all platforms not to carry the game or any other that “glorifies in hurting any community.”

    In a Facebook post on Monday, New York Rep. Grace Meng says the game “uses every negative and demeaning stereotype that I have ever come across as a Chinese American.”

    Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne also condemned the game on Twitter on Thursday, saying such racism has no place in Ontario.

    Big-O-Tree has issued two trailers for the game, which show the protagonist, Wong Fu, dumpster diving, evading tax collectors and sabotaging competitors.

    The videos begin with the company’s logo and the tagline, “Because being politically correct is so...boring.”

    The company defended the game in a statement posted on its website.

    “It has come to our attention that our small, independent game, Dirty Chinese Restaurant, has upset some people due to its content,” it said.

    “Our game is mainly satire and comedy influenced by the classic politically incorrect shows we grew up watching, such as: South Park, All in the Family, Sanford & Son, Family Guy, Simpsons, and Chappelle’s Show. We also listen to Jay-Z.”

    The company describes itself as a small independent game studio “making games no one thought possible” and says it strives “to create entertainment that we all want to experience which is fun, addictive, and hilarious.”


    Markham company’s ‘Dirty Chinese Restaurant’ mobile game denounced as racistMarkham company’s ‘Dirty Chinese Restaurant’ mobile game denounced as racist

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    A woman ordered to pay nearly $24,000 to the man she accused of sexual assault has lost her appeal.

    The woman’s lawyer, Jonathan Collings, questioned the Welland small claims court ruling, in part, because he accused the deputy judge of relying on “sexual stereotypes.”

    Deputy Judge David Black found the woman was unreliable and that she falsely accused her ex-boyfriend as revenge for perceived infidelity. She was ordered to pay $23,842 — a decision that has drawn sharp criticism from sexual assault survivor advocates who argued it will discourage victims from reporting to police. Collings had asked for the case to be dismissed.

    However, Ontario Superior Court Justice James Ramsay dismissed the appeal, arguing the deputy judge was “entitled” to believe him over her and that the 2016 decision was not “improper.”

    “I agree that (to) resort to any gender related misconceptions would have been erroneous, but I do not think that the judge made any such resort,” Ramsay’s written decision said.

    The original ruling is based on “the contradictions in her own statements,” he said.

    Collings declined to comment further, adding that he’s not retained on the matter anymore and is unaware of any plans to appeal further.

    The woman cannot be named because of a publication ban. The Spectator has chosen to also not name the man, who has declined to speak with The Spectator.

    The man, who represented himself at the hearing Sept. 8, argued the case has been a “nightmare.” He was charged criminally, but that charge was withdrawn at the preliminary hearing.

    Suzanne Mason, public education coordinator for the Niagara Sexual Assault Centre, attended part of the hearing and expressed shock at the decision.

    “That is very scary that you can go to police, have them believe you, have charges laid (and still be sued),” she said.

    The decision will have a “chilling effect” across Canada, where already only 5 per cent of victims report sexual assault, Mason said.

    The alleged incident happened at his residence in March 2011 at the end of an on-again, off-again relationship. She found a stain on his bed, which she said was peach lipstick from another woman, and he said was peach jam. She alleged that he then raped her. He said the sex was consensual.

    Black’s decision relied on texts and emails sent from the woman to the man following the incident that he ruled appear to indicate she “felt positively about the encounter.”

    Later messages turned angry, with the woman accusing the man of cheating on her, before she went to police.

    The deputy judge also relied on testimony from the woman’s doctor who examined her the next day and said she did not see bruising, despite the woman telling court she was sore all over.

    Experts point to a strong body of evidence that shows victims of sexual assault often don’t remember things clearly, don’t always seem upset and, when the attacker is someone who is known to them, may try to smooth things over.

    Lenore Lukasik-Foss, director of the Sexual Assault Centre Hamilton Area (SACHA), said the decision is part of a concerning trend toward victim blaming and relying on stereotypes.

    “There is always that worry around our judges not fully understanding the behaviour of survivors,” she said. “It’s not uncommon for them to make breakfast the next morning or email later.”

    This case also “feeds into the stereotype of the jilted girlfriend,” she said. “It plays into well-worn stereotypes of revenge-seeking women.”

    In truth, there are no more false reports of sexual assault than any other crime, Lukasik-Foss said. It’s the justice system that is “failing survivors.”


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    Hallelujah. Women in Saudi Arabia are going to drive. According to a new royal decree, the ultrareligious kingdom is ditching its long-standing ban on women drivers, granting Saudi women the right to get behind the wheel come June next year. But here’s the really extraordinary bit: not only will Saudi women be able to hit the road next summer, they will be able to drive alone.

    Of course there are still a great many things Saudi women can’t do alone — or at all. Since the kingdom’s announcement, many critics were quick to point out that despite its apparent change of heart on women behind the wheel, Saudi Arabia may remain only second to Margaret Atwood’s dystopia, the Republic of Gilead (of The Handmaid’s Tale) in its unapologetic oppression of the female gender.

    And they’re right. In Saudi Arabia, though a woman may soon be able to drive her family’s Honda Civic off the dealership lot, she is still prohibited from doing the following without a say-so from a male guardian: opening a bank account, getting married, getting divorced, having elective surgery, applying for a passport. Women in the kingdom aren’t allowed to socialize freely with members of the opposite sex and this one won’t surprise you: they must appear veiled in public at all times. All in all the Middle Eastern kingdom is a lousy place to be if you’re a lady, brand new Honda Civic or not.

    But the Honda Civic helps a lot. For proof we need only look to history. The car has always been a driving force in feminism not merely because it gives women freedom of movement but a place in which they can move and think at the same time absent interference from home and public life. In other words, under the new law Saudi women drivers will have access to a roving room of their own, or as historian Margaret Walsh put it in an essay about American women’s increased bent for driving in the decades after the invention of the car, they will have access to “the automobile as a type of second home.”

    This is no small thing. The right to be alone in a car isn’t just a win for practicality (under the new policy Saudi women will no longer have to rely on a male guardian or a paid driver to get to the grocery store). It’s psychologically liberating too because it affords women a type of privacy and solace previously only afforded to men. For anyone who believes that all a woman requires for peace and contentment is a hot bath in the evening, here’s Walsh to disabuse you of that notion: “As one farmwoman in the 1920s told an inspector from the United States Department of Agriculture who inquired why her family had bought a car rather than putting indoor plumbing into their home, ‘You can’t go to town in a bathtub.’”

    You can’t go sightseeing in a bathtub either. When women began driving in large numbers in the United States in the early 20th century, they didn’t just whip over to the store to pick up some groceries. They went exploring. “It is clear that many women sought and enjoyed the independence provided by the automobile and welcomed the opportunity to travel,” writes Martin Wachs, an engineering and planning professor in an essay called “The Automobile and Gender: An Historical Perspective.”

    “Many books appeared presenting accounts of women’s trips across country without men. For example, the first commercially successful book published by Emily Post, who later became a well-known authority on etiquette, was an account of her cross-country journey in an automobile.”

    In fact, despite male obsession with women-can’t-drive jokes, it was a woman, not a man, who embarked on what is believed to be the first ever road trip. German engineer Karl Benz is widely credited with inventing the original motor car in the late 1800s, but it was his wife Bertha Benz who actually thought to take the thing for a good long spin. The story goes that one morning in 1888, without his knowledge or permission, Mrs. Benz drove her husband’s car roughly 90 kilometres to visit her mother in another city. Not only was this the furthest anyone at the time had ever driven a car; Benz’s surprise road trip changed the way many people saw the automobile. “She proved the car was a tool, not a toy,” writes Andrew Frankel in a story about Benz published in the Telegraph earlier this year.

    Of course Saudi Arabia is a very different place than Europe or North America in the decades after the car was invented. Thanks to the country’s draconian male guardianship laws, it’s highly unlikely that come June, Saudi women will immediately take off with their husbands' convertibles and re-enact Thelma and Louise in the Arabian Desert. But the elimination of the driving ban is a major win for gender equality in the state because history shows us that when women take the wheel, all of us, men included, move forward.

    Emma Teitel is a national affairs columnist.


    Saudi reversal of female driving ban is a big win for gender equality: TeitelSaudi reversal of female driving ban is a big win for gender equality: Teitel

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    It began as a quixotic quest.

    Derek Rayside, dedicated motorist and Queens Quay condo dweller, was exasperated by the stop-and-go-traffic on what should have been a breezy trip to Costco in south Etobicoke.

    The supposed 15-minute journey could take triple that time.

    He believed there had to be a better, more pleasant, way to make the monthly shopping expedition with his wife and two young children. This was three years ago during a massive Queens Quay makeover that made driving even worse but brought separated bike lanes.

    So, in a moment of inspiration bordering on the Seussian, Rayside made it his mission to get his family — all four of them — on a single bike. Oh, and, at the same time, transport groceries that could total $900.

    “Going to Costco to do your shopping is like the ultimate task in family transportation,” says the 42-year-old. “If we can shop at Costco by bike, we can do everything else by bike too.”

    Rayside is the associate director of software engineering at the University of Waterloo so he’s accustomed to tricky problem solving.

    He put his puzzler to work.

    He made two shopping test rides to Costco on a single bike with his son Colin, now 7, in a child’s seat. The 13.5-kilometre trip was probably the longest he had ever made on two wheels. Rayside doesn’t consider himself a cyclist; he’s more of a “not good” hockey player.

    While the cargo pushed his limits physically, Rayside discovered that the trip along the Martin Goodman Trail, north on Park Lawn Rd., across Manitoba St., north again on Royal York Rd. and then west on Queen Elizabeth Blvd., was very safe.

    “We knew it was within the realm of the feasible, we just needed better technology,” he says.

    Rayside contacted Ronald Onderwater, who has been making triple tandem bikes in Amsterdam for about a decade. Rayside asked him to modify the design, mainly adding an extension to the middle seat so his wife, Stephanie Xie, could ride there.

    The base bike cost about $4,500, but Rayside said it replaces a family car, a 2000 Toyota which he was able to ditch in 2016.

    “It costs dramatically less to operate,” he says. “It costs less to buy, less to park. Everything costs less.”

    The Onderwater XL Triple Tandem arrived two years ago, but it required more tinkering for Rayside to achieve his goal.

    The rise up and over the Gardiner Expressway on Royal York, insignificant to a single bike, was like a mountain for a cyclist moving about 275 kilograms. The bike itself, made of steel, Rayside says, is “extremely heavy.” He guesses it weighs around 50 kilograms.

    “With two children, two adults plus groceries, any little bump is a hill,” he said.

    So he worked with bike technicians in Vancouver, Oakville and at Toronto’s Biseagal to develop and install an electric assist on the bike. Rayside used the best parts he could get so that motor, equal to one horsepower, cost about $3,000. So with taxes, upgrades on the some accessories and a $500 trailer, it is a $10,000 investment.

    Now the family does virtually everything downtown by bike including riding to hockey camp at Moss Park Arena — with sticks strapped to the chain guard — or getting the kids to Kung Fu classes in Chinatown.

    Previous to the addition of the electric assist — running strictly on the pedal power of three people — the bike’s average speed was 14 km/h. Now it can motor along at about 20 km/h.

    Though, Rayside says, “the guys in Lycra still go faster than us.”

    On a recent Sunday, the family cut a striking image as they made their way to and from the Etobicoke store. Colin sat up front followed by Xie, who is 5-foot-4, then the lanky 6-foot-4 Rayside with Charlotte, 3, in a baby seat behind him. Rayside pilots the bike, doing the shifting, braking and steering.

    The day’s groceries totalled $611.32 — down from the previous month’s $900 — with all of it fitting in the trailer except for two Lego advent calendars.

    If the family made the ride non-stop it would take about 45 to 50 minutes, same as a car on a slow day. But, says Rayside, the family cycling adventure is much more fun, with stops to play, as they pedal along the waterfront or through quiet neighbourhoods.

    Rayside is a passionate supporter of bike lanes and cycling because of both the health benefits for riders and economic advantages for a city. He believes the only way to reduce traffic congestion is to provide people with alternatives to driving.

    Though he calls Toronto’s improvements for the cycling community “slow baby steps” he believes it is possible for families to use pedal power for most errands and outings.

    Xie, a stem cell biologist, had never previously cycled — that’s why Rayside thought it safer for them both to be on the same bike — but she has come to love it.

    “As a scientist, I’m often in places where there really are no windows, sitting in front of a computer,” she says. “So it’s really nice on the weekend to get out and about, get the fresh air and do what we need to do without ever getting into a car.”

    Rayside uses his tandem all year. He has access to a car but only drives it about once a month for distant trips. For work, he takes a Greyhound bus to the University of Waterloo — two hours each way — while Xie, a researcher at the Princess Margaret Cancer Center, walks or takes transit.

    Rayside said his unusual ride draws stares and when stopped, strangers often approach to ask him about it or take a photo.

    “The bike brings a smile to everyone’s face,” says Rayside. “It’s a great way to connect with everyone in the city.”

    Read more:

    New Woodbine bike lanes just the beginning, councillors say

    Day-trippers to The Beach could soon be riding in style


    How do you carry $900 in Costco groceries without a car? This family uses a bikeHow do you carry $900 in Costco groceries without a car? This family uses a bike

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    Toronto police Const. James Forcillo will not spend the night in jail before his appeal hearing next week, after his bail was extended at a hearing Thursday — 72 hours before the suspended cop was due to surrender and be put behind bars.

    The move comes after his lawyers successfully argued to have the court consider allowing new evidence to be introduced as part of Forcillo’s appeal of his attempted murder conviction in the July 2013 shooting death of Sammy Yatim.

    Documents filed in support of the bail extension also state that Forcillo and his wife, Irina, divorced in July. The new bail document still includes Forcillo’s ex-wife as a surety, but names her as Irina Ratushnyak.

    “She has subsequently taken her maiden name back. She and (Forcillo) remain on good terms and continue to live together and co-parent their two children,” reads an affidavit prepared by an employee Forcillo’s lawyers’ firm, Brauti Thorning Zibarras.

    Instead of having to surrender into custody the night before the appeal, Forcillo’s new bail conditions state he must surrender to the court by April 2, 2018 “or before 6:00 pm on the day before the hearing of the ‘fresh evidence’ phase of the appeal whichever is earliest,” according to the bail documents.

    More to come.


    Bail extended for Const. James Forcillo days before he was due to be jailedBail extended for Const. James Forcillo days before he was due to be jailed

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