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    The Blue Jays fired a reported 23 employees Wednesday from various departments on the business side. The club insisted it was not a cost-cutting measure but more a shift of resources to address evolving needs. The streamlined front office is merging and re-organizing fan engagement and media relations.

    Gone from the former media department are Mal Romanin, the manager of baseball information, Erik Grosman, the coordinator of baseball information, and communications coordinator Sue Mallabon. The only leftover is communications vice-president Jay Stenhouse.

    The Jays expanded their existing fan engagement department last season, an area that includes business-led PR initiatives and Blue Jays social media. That department, led by Sebastian Gatica, has now merged with media in reporting to Gatica, who transferred from Sportsnet to the Jays in 2016 to coordinate personal affairs for president Mark Shapiro.

    “In recent years, our business has become more focused on engaging fans through compelling experiences, unique content and personalized service,” Gatica said. “Today’s changes reflect that evolving nature of our business as we shift to meet these needs through a new structure and resources aimed at delivering memorable experiences to our passionate fan base.”

    The new setup, with a one-person media department, is unique to Major League Baseball.

    Read more:

    Vaughan’s Andrew Wiggins signs $148M extension with Timberwolves

    Devils, Schneider hand Leafs first loss of season

    John Farrell’s dream job ends following ALDS loss to Astros: Griffin

    Blue Jays fire 23, including most of media departmentBlue Jays fire 23, including most of media department

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    WASHINGTON—U.S. President Donald Trump was having a relatively quiet week of dishonesty. Then he did a couple of interviews.

    Trump made 11 false claims in a 50-minute interview with Forbes magazine last Friday. He made 11 more in a 28-minute quasi-interview with ardent supporter Mike Huckabee, which aired Saturday on Christian television station Trinity Broadcasting.

    All in all, Trump made 34 false claims last week. That is not quite the record he set the previous week, 40, but still a whole lot.

    All together, he made 688 false claims over his first 262 days in office — an average of 2.6 false claims per day.

    Trump has proven uniquely willing to lie, exaggerate and mislead. By all expert accounts, he is more frequently inaccurate than any of his predecessors.

    Read more: How Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale fact-checks Trump

    We are keeping track. Below is a list of every false claim Trump has made since his inauguration on Jan. 20.

    Why call them false claims, not lies? We can’t be sure that each and every one was intentional; in some cases, he may have been confused or ignorant. What we know, objectively, is that he was not telling the truth.

    Last updated: Oct. 12, 2017

    Donald Trump makes 11 false claims in Forbes interview, 11 more in sit-down with HuckabeeDonald Trump makes 11 false claims in Forbes interview, 11 more in sit-down with Huckabee

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    Falling home prices in Toronto in September dragged down the Teranet–National Bank national composite house price index as it posted its first monthly decline since January 2016.

    The national index, which includes 11 cities, fell 0.8 per cent compared with the previous month, the largest monthly decline since September 2010.

    The move lower came as the index for Toronto, Canada’s largest housing market, fell 2.7 per cent on a month-over-month basis.

    David Madani, senior Canada economist at Capital Economics, said a sharper slowdown in price inflation in the coming months is unavoidable.

    “And with interest rates on the rise and mortgage financing rules likely to be tightened significantly later this year, the worst is still to come,” said Madani, who has been long-time bear on the housing market.

    Read more:

    Toronto housing price ‘correction’ eases: Report

    Proposed mortgage stress test is unnecessary, harmful, report says

    ‘Puzzling’ Toronto real estate market could frustrate push for price fix, CMHC says

    Home sales in Toronto have fallen since April when the Ontario government moved to cool the hot housing market with a package of changes, including the introduction of a tax on foreign buyers.

    The Bank of Canada has also raised its key interest rate target twice this year, prompting the big banks to raise their prime rates, pushing the cost of variable-rate mortgages higher. The cost of new fixed-rate mortgages has also climbed in recent months as yields on the bond market have risen.

    In addition to Toronto, the price index for Quebec City lost 2.3 per cent, while Hamilton slipped 1.9 per cent, Halifax dropped 0.4 per cent and Winnipeg lost 0.3 per cent.

    The index for Victoria was flat, while Vancouver increased 1.3 per cent, Calgary added 0.7 per cent, Montreal climbed 0.3 per cent, Ottawa-Gatineau gained 0.3 per cent and Edmonton edged up 0.2 per cent.

    Compared with a year ago, the national composite house price index was up 11.4 per cent.

    Toronto was up 18.0 per cent compared with September 2016, while Hamilton gained 19.5 per cent and Victoria added 14.7 per cent. Vancouver climbed 10.5 per cent compared with a year ago.

    ‘The worst is still to come’ as national home price index falls in September‘The worst is still to come’ as national home price index falls in September

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    Bombardier will miss yet another target on its troubled TTC streetcar order, falling at least five cars short of the 40 it was supposed to deliver this year.

    In a statement released Thursday, the Montreal-based rail manufacturer said it will supply 35 streetcars in 2017, for a cumulative total of 65 since the order began. The company blamed the latest delay on “issues with the supply chain.”

    “This is not the result we worked towards and this is not the result we will accept for ourselves and for the people of Toronto. We own this challenge, and we fully intend to do everything necessary to mitigate the impacts,” said Bombardier spokesperson Eric Prud’homme.

    The company said it is enacting “forceful and far-reaching measures” to improve production, including opening up a second sitefor final assembly of the vehicles, which are currently manufactured and assembled at its plant in Thunder Bay, Ont. The company also said it would add additional suppliers, and work with current contractors to increase their capacity.

    The 35 cars Bombardier is pledging to deliver this year is a more optimistic figure than one published Wednesday in TTC CEO Andy Byford’s report to the transit agency board. In that document, the TTC estimated Bombardier would deliver just 30 cars in 2017.

    In a joint statement, Byford and TTC board chair Josh Colle appeared to accept Bombardier’s 35 car estimate. But they called the latest blown deadline “extremely disappointing and frustrating.”

    “There should be 146 new streetcars in service today; instead there are just 45. This is completely unacceptable. The TTC is having to continue to use buses on streetcar routes to meet ridership demand,” the statement said.

    Since the TTC placed the $1-billion, 204-car order with Bombardier in 2009, the company has repeatedly blown delivery schedules, and revised its yearly targets downward four separate times.

    According to the latest schedule, which Bombardier gave the TTC in May 2016, the company was supposed to ramp up production and deliver 22 cars in the final three months of the year, for a total of 70. That would require building at least seven streetcars a month, a rate the company has never achieved.

    In July,Bombardier alerted Byford it might not be able to meet the 2017 target, due to what it described as a “very limited, short-term issue.” It said it was “deploying extraordinary resources” to keep delivery on track.

    Confirmation that the company will miss the target for 2017 represents yet another blow for both the transit agency and Bombardier. While Byford has previously berated the company for overpromising on how quickly it could deliver, the relationship improved last year when Bombardier appointed Benoit Brossoit as its new president for its Americas division.

    Byford has praised Brossoit for at least providing the TTC with realistic timelines, but the company has now failed to meet even the lower benchmarks it provided under his watch.

    In its statement Thursday, Bombardier asserted “it is still fully on track to deliver the entire fleet of 204 streetcars” by the original contract deadline of the end of 2019. To do so, the company will have to build an average of more than 69 cars a year, twice the number it says it will supply in 2017.

    Mayor John Tory expressed what he described as his “immense frustration” with the company on Thursday morning, telling reporters at a SmartTrack news conference that “this has got to the point of almost farce.”

    “Having said that, I think we’re taking all reasonable steps,” he said, noting the TTC is suing the company for millions of dollars in penalties for late delivery. The TTC board is also seeking alternative suppliers for its next streetcar purchase.

    Tory said it would be impractical to abandon the Bombardier order at this point because it would take a long time to find another supplier.

    “I think people would be fooling themselves if they thought we could just cancel the Bombardier contract and move to some other person tomorrow morning and start getting streetcars by Christmas. It’s not going to happen.”

    “We’re just going to have to press forward” he said.

    With files from David Rider

    Bombardier to fall short on latest streetcar delivery, TTC saysBombardier to fall short on latest streetcar delivery, TTC says

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    Ian Dwight Gray didn’t appear at his Ontario College of Teachers hearing Thursday, but submitted a guilty plea and joint submission for penalty.

    Retired Toronto teacher suspended for misconduct dating back to 2006Retired Toronto teacher suspended for misconduct dating back to 2006

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    Whether the class-action will proceed is now in the hands of Superior Court Justice Paul Perell.

    Lawyers spar over whether class-action into Motherisk drug-testing scandal should go aheadLawyers spar over whether class-action into Motherisk drug-testing scandal should go ahead

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    The big bird lured record crowds, brought in big profits, says report on waterfront festival. The attraction was a huge summer hit for Toronto.

    Turns out the giant rubber duck brought in the bucksTurns out the giant rubber duck brought in the bucks

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    Community members are speaking out after two separate murders occurred in Toronto’s Dixon Road neighbourhood.

    ‘Too many of us are burying our children’:‘Too many of us are burying our children’:

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    A representative for Ontario Power Generation confirmed talks are underway for a possible sale of the site.

    Province’s waterfront Hearn site subject of sales talksProvince’s waterfront Hearn site subject of sales talks

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    Investigators allege that after the encounters he would prescribe birth control and inject the girl with the medication.

    Toronto doctor had sex with 15-year-old girl, injected her with meds, police allegeToronto doctor had sex with 15-year-old girl, injected her with meds, police allege

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    The U.S. introduced the proposal amid a growing consensus that Donald Trump’s protectionism could lead to the collapse of NAFTA negotiations. “This thing is going into the toilet,” the president of the Canadian autoworkers’ union said of the talks.

    Trump administration just introduced a 5-year ‘sunset clause’ into NAFTA talksTrump administration just introduced a 5-year ‘sunset clause’ into NAFTA talks

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    The continuous bungling by various investigators created not just twists and turns but explosive craters in a case that held a nation in thrall as the media breathlessly chased every morsel of gossip, innuendo and information.

    My cousin acquitted in murder of her daughter Aarushi Talwar needs space to grieve: ParadkarMy cousin acquitted in murder of her daughter Aarushi Talwar needs space to grieve: Paradkar

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    Boyle’s parents invited the Star’s Michelle Shephard into their Ontario home to listen in on one of the first calls with their son, his wife and three children who were all born in captivity.

    ‘We’re looking forward to a new lease on life,’ Joshua Boyle tells the Star after five-year kidnapping nightmare‘We’re looking forward to a new lease on life,’ Joshua Boyle tells the Star after five-year kidnapping nightmare

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    The demise of Sears Canada, announced this week, is a reminder that size works powerfully against a large enterprise’s ability to reinvent itself.

    General Motors failed to reinvent itself, and the erstwhile world’s biggest corporation landed in bankruptcy court in 2009. IBM was twice compelled to reinvent itself, as a punch-card maker betting the company on mainframe computers, and later morphing into a computer-services provider.

    Each of those transitions was a trial-by-fire experience, which is why firms like Sears are loath to fully commit to change even when a renaissance is their only hope of survival.

    If the Canadian retail sector is to give meaning to the legacy of the combined workforce of approximately 32,000 Canadians that Sears and Target Canada employed when they perished, it will have to quicken its pace of embracing e-commerce, invest more heavily in information technology to better ensure rapid turnover of inventory and at lower cost, and to be absolutely clear with consumers what they stand for.

    Eddie Lampert, 55, the U.S. hedge fund manager who has long controlled Chicago-based Sears Holdings and is still the largest shareholder in its Canadian affiliate, Sears Canada, has a demonstrated incompetence in retailing with few equals in the annals of North American merchandizing.

    That sorry track record, and Sears Canada having struggled for so long – its liquidation follows four straight years of losses – makes it possible to miss how significant a place on the retail landscape Sears Canada has occupied.

    Deeply rooted in Canada, having launched in the 1950s, Sears Canada at the time of its death had a sprawling network of big-city and suburban department-store emporia, a network of small-town catalogue distribution outlets, and a renowned Wish Book catalogue. Together, those assets made Sears a household name with a truly national reach that perhaps only Canadian Tire could match.

    At its peak, Sears Canada was a go-to source for auto repair. And its Kenmore appliances and Craftsman tools epitomized value – that is, high quality at a reasonable price. Those two factors – Sears’s sprawling “footprint” across the country and its “value proposition,” in retail parlance – kept Sears viable longer than it had reason to expect, given the chronic ineptitude of its absentee owner.

    It’s no small irony that Sears Canada was early to get serious about e-commerce, back in the 1990s. Alas, it didn’t ramp up that capability. Only too late, starting last year, did Sears make a dedicated effort to upgrade its e-commerce operation, remodel its stores, experiment with stand-alone boutiques (“pop-up” stores), and refresh its product offerings.

    But with sharply declining revenues and deepening losses, Sears Canada was running out of the money needed to keep the lights on, much less finance a thorough reinvention.

    Because of the enormity of Sears Canada, even modest improvements rolled out across the company were very costly. And given Sears’s huge customer base, improvements also risked alienating shoppers averse to change – as the late T. Eaton Co. learned.

    And it didn’t help that Sears could not achieve traction in reinventing the business because of a revolving-door CEO suite. That crippling disability can be laid at Lampert’s feet.

    Canadians rejected Target Canada because its stores were understocked and overpriced. And the novelty of Target offerings that made its U.S. stores so popular with cross-border shoppers was utterly absent in the firm’s hastily launched Canadian outlets.

    Canadians drifted away from Sears because of the unacknowledged identity crisis that it suffered in recent decades. What was the compelling reason to shop at Sears Canada, apart from the convenience of its many locations?

    Sears Canada seemed helpless in distinguishing the “hard goods” at the core of its business from the appliances and furniture available at lower prices at Leon’s and The Brick. Meanwhile, the remodelled stores of Shoppers Drug Mart made a strong play for its cosmetics business, among the most lucrative product segments for department stores.

    And like all retailers on the continent, Sears Canada was losing business to Amazon, world’s largest online merchant, whose ever-growing banquet of offerings includes fresh produce, sex toys, motor oil and boxed CD sets of all nine Beethoven symphonies.

    The shareholder value of Amazon, at close to $600 billion (Cdn.), is about 35 per cent greater than the combined market cap of North America’s 10 largest traditional bricks-and-mortar general merchandizers, including Wal-Mart.

    In the short space of two years, Canada has lost two giant retailers. But one thing we can be certain of, in this moment of doubt in some quarters about Canada as a healthy retail environment, is that this country is a great place to be a merchant.

    At the time of Target Canada’s demise, more than one Bay Street analyst said Canadians are too frugal to support merchants like Target.

    In a week when Canada has yet again been admonished by an international authority for the over-indebtedness of its shop-till-you drop consumers, that assessment could not be more off-base.

    Canada has one of the highest per capita incomes worldwide. Canadians reward new retailing concepts like homegrown Dollarama, at the discount end of the spectrum, and Lululemon in premium-priced goods. And Canadian consumers happily patronize interlopers like and H&M, Ikea, Wal-Mart, Costco, Winners, Home Depot, Staples Inc., Nordstrom, Victoria’s Secret, Tiffany & Co., Saks Fifth Avenue and Cartier.

    Other markets are not so welcoming. For now, at least, Wal-Mart is sticking with Japan despite consumer resistance, but has quit the huge German market, where shoppers and regulators treated the firm with disdain.

    It’s worth noting that in Canada, the world’s largest branch-plant economy, unhappy customer experiences at the local foreign-owned store usually trace back to troubles at an offshore head office, and have little if anything to do with the Canadian operation.

    Target’s arrival in Canada coincided with a massive hacking theft of the Minneapolis-based firm’s customer data, which prompted the ouster of the Target CEO spearheading that company’s first international expansion. Target had also abandoned its unique in-house designer lines as a cost-saving measure. That blunder has weakened the parent company, and accounted for the surprisingly bland product offerings at Target’s short-lived Canadian stores.

    The demise of Radio Shack and Circuit City in Canada, and the underperformance of Abercrombie & Fitch and of Gap and its Banana Republic and Old Navy banners in Canada, derive from international over-expansion and other disastrous mistakes made at a non-Canadian head office.

    And so, another hard lesson from the Sears and Target debacles is that prospective employees, suppliers and landlords are bound for trouble if they fail in their due diligence about the sagacity or chaos at an international headquarters before committing to its Canadian operations.

    Sears Canada’s demise shows why size matters: OliveSears Canada’s demise shows why size matters: Olive

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    MONTREAL—The ride-sharing company Uber has backed off a threat to cease operations in Quebec due to more stringent training requirements and criminal background checks for drivers.

    The company said in a statement Friday that a provincial cabinet shuffle this week is a chance to negotiate a deal with the Quebec government over requirements that Uber drivers undergo a 35-hour training course before taking to the streets, like all other taxi drivers in the province.

    On Wednesday, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard appointed a new transport minister, André Fortin, and shifted outgoing minister Laurent Lessard to the provincial agriculture portfolio.

    “We recognized that there is an opportunity to establish a constructive dialogue aimed at finding a lasting solution for riders and drivers in Quebec,” said Jean-Nicolas Guillemette, general manager for Uber in the province.

    Guillemette warned last month that Uber’s business model is built on part-time drivers who would be put off by such an intensive training course as a prerequisite to taking customers. He complained at the time that the government was attempting to force a new-economy company to comply with “old rules” and compared the training requirements for Uber drivers to hotel-and-tourism courses for someone seeking to rent their apartment for the weekend on Airbnb, the apartment-sharing service.

    Some critics said Uber’s threat was a not-so-subtle tactic to bully the Quebec government. Whether that is true or not, Guillemette said in the company statement that there is now more time to make a deal.

    “We’ve confirmed that the new training requirements that would impede our ability to operate do not have to be initiated for a few months, and we are committed to working with the government over this period,” the statement reads.

    The training requirements take effect in January 2018.

    In addition to the 35 hours of training — up from the 20 hours required under an Uber pilot project that began one year ago — the company will be required to have municipal police forces conduct criminal background checks on drivers and subject vehicles to a mechanical inspection each year.

    Minister Fortin said in a statement Friday that he is open to “innovative solutions” that would allow companies to fulfil their new obligations.

    “It’s a question of fairness for all players in the market and to ensure the security of passengers. I intend to work with our partners to put in place innovative solutions with an eye to offering customers in Quebec with a modern industry that responds to their needs.”

    After cabinet shuffle, Uber backs off threat to leave QuebecAfter cabinet shuffle, Uber backs off threat to leave Quebec

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    WASHINGTON—U.S. President Donald Trump will say Friday the Iran nuclear deal is no longer in U.S. national security interests, but he won’t withdraw from the landmark 2015 accord or immediately reimpose sanctions against Tehran, according to U.S. officials and outside advisers to the administration.

    Trump’s speech from the White House will outline specific faults he finds in the pact but will also focus on an array of Iran’s troubling non-nuclear activities, four officials and advisers said. Those include Tehran’s ballistic missile program, support for Syrian President Bashar Assad, Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement and other groups that destabilize the region, including in Yemen, human rights abuses and cyber warfare.

    In his speech, Trump will notify Congress that he is “decertifying” the deal, arguing that while Iran may be complying with the letter of the agreement, the accord itself is not sufficient to be in U.S. interests. In remarks ahead of his address to a group of conservative voters, Trump previewed his position by calling Iran “a terrorist nation like few others” and urged his audience to listen in.

    The decertification will not pull the U.S. out of the agreement or reimpose sanctions, but it will kick those matters to Congress. U.S. lawmakers will then have 60 days to decide whether to snap the sanctions back into place or modify the legislation that governs U.S. participation in the deal.

    Read more:Donald Trump plans to ‘decertify’ Iran nuclear deal, likely throwing landmark accord into disarray

    Under current U.S. law, Trump faces a Sunday deadline to notify Congress whether Iran is complying with the accord that was negotiated over 18 months by the Obama administration and determine if it remains a national security priority. Although Trump will allow that Iran is living up to the letter of the agreement, he will make the case that the deal is fatally flawed and that its non-nuclear behaviour violates the spirit of the regional stability it was intended to encourage, the officials and advisers said.

    The officials and advisers, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly preview the speech, said Trump will not call for a reimposition of nuclear sanctions on Tehran. He will instead urge lawmakers to codify tough new requirements for Tehran to continue to benefit from the sanctions relief that it won in exchange for curbing its atomic program, they said. And he’ll announce his long-anticipated intent to impose sanctions on Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps by designating it a terrorist organization under an existing executive order, according to the officials and advisers.

    “The reckless behaviour of the Iranian regime, and the IRGC in particular, poses one of the most dangerous threats to the interests of the United States and to regional stability,” the White House said in a statement released ahead of the speech. The statement, which did not reveal Trump’s decision, denounced the Obama administration for its “myopic focus on Iran’s nuclear program to the exclusion of the regime’s many other malign activities” and said the same “mistakes” would not be repeated.

    “The Trump administration’s Iran policy will address the totality of these threats from and malign activities by the Government of Iran and will seek to bring about a change in the Iranian’s regime’s behaviour,” it said.

    Ali Larijani, Iran’s parliament speaker, said Friday that any U.S. move against a nuclear deal with Iran would be an “insult” to the United Nations because the UN had given the deal its blessing.

    He added that any revision of the deal would allow Iran to take its own actions, and warned that the U.S. move could destabilize the international situation.

    “We will continue to adhere to our obligations ... for as long as other parties observe the agreement,” he said on a visit to Russia.

    In his speech, Trump will ask Congress to amend or replace legislation that currently requires him to certify Iranian compliance every 90 days. Officials have said that Trump hates the requirement more than the nuclear deal itself because it forces him to take a position every three months on what he has repeatedly denounced as the worst deal in American history. That frequency has also irritated aides who have complained that they are spending inordinate amounts of time on certification at the expense of other issues.

    White House aides had initially sought a venue for Trump’s address that would project American power and determination. The shuttered former Iranian embassy in Washington was briefly considered before being deemed inappropriate. Officials also considered the Iwo Jima Marine Corps Memorial, which was ruled out because it is currently being renovated. The Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House was eventually agreed.

    American allies, who have pressed the White House to remain in the nuclear accord, will be closely watching the president’s address. Trump wants to impress on the European parties to the accord — Germany, France and Britain — the importance of fixing what he sees as flaws in the nuclear accord and addressing malign behaviour not covered in the agreement.

    The Europeans, along with the other parties, Iran, Russia and China, have ruled out reopening the deal. But some, notably France, have signalled a willingness to tackle unresolved issues in supplementary negotiations. Among those issues are the expiration of several restrictions on advanced nuclear activity under so-called “sunset clauses” that will allow Iran to begin ramping up its enrichment capabilities after 10 years, the end of an arms embargo and the eventual easing of demands for a halt to its missile program.

    In the speech, Trump hopes to “recruit” the Europeans into joining his broad strategy, particularly by punishing the Revolutionary Guard, which he and his national security team believe is fomenting instability, violence and extremism throughout the Middle East and beyond, according to one official.

    In anticipation of Trump’s announcements, Republican legislators have drawn up a new version of the law replacing the current 90-day timetable with “semi-annual” certifications, according to drafts seen by The Associated Press this week.

    Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker said in a statement on Friday that his panel had agreed to fresh certification criteria to include items that are also the province of the UN nuclear watchdog and require the U.S. intelligence community to determine if Iran is carrying out illicit activity in facilities to which the International Atomic Energy Agency has not had access.

    The certification would also demand that the intelligence community produce judgments on Iranian behaviour not covered by the nuclear deal, including missile testing and development, backing for Hezbollah and Assad and threats to Israel and the Mideast more broadly, according to the drafts.

    Donald Trump will ‘decertify’ Iran nuclear deal in Friday speech, but will stop short of ending it, officials sayDonald Trump will ‘decertify’ Iran nuclear deal in Friday speech, but will stop short of ending it, officials say

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    You could almost feel the city’s collective eyes roll last week when the Star reported on a Forest Hill couple who sued a neighbouring house flipper over allegations they copied the look of their 8,000-square-foot Tudor-style house. The same shade of blue window trim and similar stonework were the basis of a $2.5-million lawsuit that, after three years, was settled out of court for undisclosed terms. More than 1.1 million people have read the story online, testament to the eternal popularity of watching rich people fight.

    Only Henry VIII or Elizabeth I coming back from the dead to sue everybody who has built a mock Tudor McMansion could be more absurd. As any lawyer will tell you, the hidden costs of a lawsuit are the time and stress burdens it places on people on top of all the money involved in paying those lawyers. Suing over some window trim and brickwork is a conspicuously wanton display of wealth and leisure time when Toronto is going through a housing affordability crisis, where hundreds of thousands of people are struggling to just make rent, and many more will never get to buy a house of their own here.

    Aside from all that, what is even more curious is all of this was over pastiche architecture. Pastiche is when an artwork or design imitates or replicates an older or original work or style, in this case, medieval English architecture, evoking an unearned history and gravitas. In his famously vicious 1937 poem, “Slough,” John Betjeman skewered the Tudor pastiche of suburban Slough outside of London. Calling on bombs to blow it to smithereens, he wrote, “And talk of sport and makes of cars / In various bogus-Tudor bars / And daren’t look up and see the stars / But belch instead.”

    Pastiches are everywhere and are mostly harmless, often boring homages to past or popular styles. Indeed, we are a city full of glorious pastiches of various kinds — Gothic, Victorian, Edwardian, classical and even more modern styles. Perhaps the trick with a good pastiche is to not make a big deal about your imitation and let it sink into the background, rather than suggest yours is somehow special, as these folks did with their lawsuit. A pastiche shouldn’t put on too many airs lest they risk a rebuke.

    When Charles Dickens visited New York City in 1842 while compiling his “American Notes,” he went to the city jail, then and now nicknamed “The Tombs,” though the building he visited has been replaced since. Of the Egyptian Revival building he saw then, he wrote, “What is this dismal-fronted pile of bastard Egyptian, like an enchanter’s palace in a melodrama! — a famous prison, called The Tombs. Shall we go in?”

    Create a pastiche at your own risk.

    Though Dickens did visit Toronto on that 1842 trip for a couple days, what might he write of the mock Tudors of Forest Hill today, those of Leaside, or the “bit of England far from England” homes of the Kingsway? There are neighbourhoods here full of copies of mythical original versions found somewhere in the United Kingdom. Toronto was not called “The Queen City” for its loyalty to Empire alone: it actively tried to look like London and other British cities.

    Today, if you walk some of the (for now) less-polished East London neighbourhoods like Dalston, Bethnal Green or Whitechapel, the retail streetscapes, with former homes peeking out from behind the storefronts, look a lot like the Dundas, College and Bloor strips do here. It’s clear where Toronto’s inspiration came from.

    Even many of our street names in this city are derived from British dudes and places (and a handful of other locations like Avoca in Ireland or Roncesvalles in Spain.) Old Toronto is a colonial city and is a definitive pastiche of its founders’ mother country, with a few token gestures to First Nations such as the name Toronto (Tkaronto) itself or Spadina (Ishpadinaa.)

    There’s a philosophical notion called a “simulacrum,” a copy of an original found somewhere else, distorted to some, more real than the original to others. Toronto is Simulacrum City writ large. Let’s put that on a bumper sticker.

    With our pastiches and colonial copies in mind, for neighbours and neighbourhood groups that protest developments small and large that violate the “historic character” of the neighbourhood, it’s often a defence not of a history unique to Toronto, but one copied from somewhere else. Exquisite copies sometimes, but copies nonetheless.

    It comes down to taste and lifestyle doesn’t it? People have affinities for particular kinds of architecture, no matter how it came to be. Earlier this year, a Cabbagetown residents’ association started an ongoing campaign to move a Bike Share dock from Riverdale Park (home to a cool simulacrum of a working farm) because it clashed with the heritage neighbourhood.

    In Cabbagetown, the most defining aspect of the streetscape, apart from those Victorians, are all the cars parked along its streets, but nobody there or anywhere else “historic character” is used to oppose something new ever wants to remove on-street parking. Lifestyle is as powerful as taste.

    What is the Toronto style then? Dozens of styles are emulated here, and they’re all part of the mix. That beautiful, messy heterogeneity might be the style itself: like the celebrated multicultural population, it’s the mix of everything that makes Toronto “Toronto.” We’re still a young city by global standards so it might be too soon to suggest a homegrown Toronto style, but perhaps the brick, concrete and glass neo-modern buildings exemplified by local architecture firms like KPMB will be it.

    Perhaps it’s also the ease at which Toronto melds new and old styles together, like the modern floors added to the Tip Top Loft buildings on Lake Shore Blvd. W., or the glass restaurant at the top of the historic Dineen Building at Yonge and Temperance Sts. Other cities would resist where Toronto allows a certain healthy looseness around some older buildings.

    Modernism and its various movements is Toronto’s dominant style, as much of the city grew in the postwar years when it was in vogue. So while Toronto was influenced by other places, it was being developed simultaneously or even leading the way. Don Mills, one of the first modern planned suburbs, is perhaps most deserving of being declared a heritage landscape and is as original as we might get. Other suburban neighbourhoods could make this claim too, though it would be heretical to suggest a split-level has more local heritage value than a Victorian in this city.

    No matter, they too will all be replaced by mock Tudor McMansions soon enough.

    Shawn Micallef writes every Saturday about where and how we live in the GTA. Wander the streets with him on Twitter @shawnmicallef.

    Toronto’s architectural style is a historic pastiche: MicallefToronto’s architectural style is a historic pastiche: Micallef

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    An Ontario Superior Court justice on Friday approved a motion to liquidate all remaining Sears Canada stores, ending a retail empire that served generations of Canadians.

    More on Sears Canada

    Liquidation sales are scheduled to begin Oct. 19 and finish no later than Jan. 21.

    Justice Glenn Hainey approved the motion at a hearing in a downtown Toronto courtroom.

    The embattled retailer sought protection from its creditors in June.

    A buyer group led by Sears Canada executive chairman Brandon Stranzl had been in discussions to purchase the retailer and continue to operate it.

    But a lawyer for Sears Canada told the court Friday that although it had remained optimistic, no executable transaction exists.

    With files from The Canadian Press

    Sears Canada liquidation approved by courtSears Canada liquidation approved by court

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    Toronto police are looking for a man who they say has broken into three east-end homes and confronted women in them over the past three weeks.

    In each of the break-ins, which started Sept. 25, the man has spoken with the victims, Const. Caroline de Kloet said.

    The suspect has “attempted to gather personal information” about young women and girls inside the homes, which are in the area south of Ellesmere Rd. and east of Morningside Ave., de Kloet said.

    “The last victim had a lengthy discussion with the suspect,” she said.

    The man is described as a six feet tall, in his mid- to late 20s, with a thin-medium build. The break-ins have occurred in the early hours of the morning.

    In one of the incidents, the man cut a screen to get into the home.

    De Kloet said there has been no physical or sexual contact, and no threats were made.

    East-end break-ins target young women, girlsEast-end break-ins target young women, girls

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    “Retail politics” doesn’t sound all that smart or easy these days in Canada.

    It’s been a bruising week for the retail business, with the imminent collapse of the Sears department store empire and accompanying job losses all over Canada.

    There was also the news that the Canada Revenue Agency had some plan to treat employee discounts as taxable benefits— a move that, if enacted, would be a direct hit to thousands and thousands of low-paid retail employees across the country.

    That crazy tax idea was in retreat by the end of the week but the massive failure of Sears is not as easy to make go away. Roughly 12,000 jobs are on the line, which is about 2,000 more jobs than those created overall in Canada in September, Global News reported this week.

    More than 130 big stores are also due to go dark in malls and communities all over the country as soon as this Christmas. Assuming one store to a political riding, that means more than one-third of the MPs in the House of Commons will be dealing with those darkened shop aisles.

    Retail failure, like manufacturing failure, hits at the heart of the suburbs, where politicians have been aggressively courting their voters for decades.

    In happier times, the retail industry was something for politicians to cultivate and imitate — a symbiotic relationship I wrote about in my last book, Shopping For Votes. Now, the shopping business in Canada a constant source of concern and disruption for the political class.

    Retail analysts have been warning for some time now that e-commerce is threatening the very nature of shopping.

    Those same analysts are saying, however, that you can’t draw a straight line between the rise of digital shopping and the downfall of the big stores like Sears or Zellers.

    “The bigger thing is the shrinking of the middle class,” Barry Nabatian, market research director of Shore-Tanner Associates, told Ottawa’s local CBC Radio morning show this week.

    Politics watchers are familiar with that concept. In the 2015 election, if voters got a nickel for every time a politician, of any stripe, mentioned the middle class, we’d all be part of the wealthy 1 per cent.

    But think about it. If Sears and other mid-class stores are failing because they’re losing their target consumer demographic, that also means that Canada’s political parties have also been pursuing a segment of the electorate that’s shrinking. Aren’t they worried they’ll end up like Sears?

    When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau keeps saying “the middle class and those aspiring to join it,” we can probably assume that his hopes for political growth are pinned more on the second part of that phrase.

    Aspiration is a big part of our ideas of middle class — the old American (or Canadian) dream. It’s called the pursuit of happiness in the U.S., not the attainment of it, after all. Shopping is a big part of that old, middle-class dream, too.

    So if politicians want to fix the middle class, the whole retail business bears some close scrutiny — at least as much as trade and manufacturing or a favourite economic fix these days, infrastructure.

    The current troubles in the Canadian retail business have at least three dimensions, fallout-wise. When things go badly, we have to worry about the people who work in the stores, the people who shopped in the stores, and, as a Star story pointed out this week, all the businesses that supply the shops, too.

    “The list of suppliers left in the lurch by the Sears Canada insolvency reads like a who’s who of retail and it circles the globe,” the Star’s Francine Kopun wrote, describing the tens, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars Sears owes to a vast array of businesses whose products fed into the once-great store empire.

    Politicians often urge people to go shopping in times of upheaval. George W. Bush famously told people to go out and buy things to get the U.S. economy moving after the 9/11 attacks. I’ll always remember how Jean Chrétien, campaigning to be prime minister in 1993, argued that when people see construction equipment, it makes them confident enough in the economy to go shopping. Maybe he was right. Who knows?

    What we do know is that bad news in the shopping world is bad news for politicians, too, most particularly among exactly the voters all the parties are trying to court. Retail politics may be all about glad-handing and salesmanship, but the politics of retail in 2017 is a little more serious and sobering.

    As Sears goes dark, middle-class votes may be elusive: DelacourtAs Sears goes dark, middle-class votes may be elusive: Delacourt

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