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    Taquisha McKitty’s family believes she is still showing signs of life after being declared brain dead last month, lawyer said.

    Brampton family is asking for more time to conduct tests on daughter declared brain deadBrampton family is asking for more time to conduct tests on daughter declared brain dead

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    The study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives suggests Victoria is the best city.

    What is the best Canadian city for a woman? Toronto is ranked 10thWhat is the best Canadian city for a woman? Toronto is ranked 10th

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    McCain, who spent 5 ½ years in a Vietnam prisoner of war camp and is battling brain cancer, offered a simple response to Trump: “I have faced tougher adversaries.”

    Trump warns ‘I fight back’ after McCain calls out ‘half-baked, spurious nationalism’Trump warns ‘I fight back’ after McCain calls out ‘half-baked, spurious nationalism’

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    Once officially confirmed, Sidewalk Labs, sister company of Google, will construct the neighbourhood on the east downtown waterfront.

    Google firm wins competition to build high-tech Quayside neighbourhood in TorontoGoogle firm wins competition to build high-tech Quayside neighbourhood in Toronto

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    Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland blasted the Trump administration’s NAFTA proposals publicly for the first time in an awkward joint press conference in Washington on Tuesday, the clearest sign yet that negotiations are strained to the breaking point.

    Trudeau, Trump governments slam each other publicly for first time as NAFTA talks go off railsTrudeau, Trump governments slam each other publicly for first time as NAFTA talks go off rails

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    There is nothing quite like the sight of opposition politicians circling when they smell political blood in the water.

    Particularly when the fish is as big as the federal finance minister.

    Tuesday, Bill Morneau swam away. It did nothing to slow the Commons feeding frenzy.

    This is not the way the Liberals envisioned celebrating Small Business Week, also known as Liberal Climb Down Week, and we’re just getting to hump day.

    Read more:

    Morneau open to changing financial affairs as Conservatives, NDP demand ethics investigation

    Should we know what the federal finance minister owns?

    Trudeau and Morneau’s efforts to sugar-coat tax reforms turns into comedy of errors: Hébert

    But rarely, if ever, has a federal minister blindly — or in this case non-blindly — walked himself into such a morass because Morneau, operating in a majority government, has somehow taken a campaign pledge promising tax fairness and turned it into a career-threatening crisis.

    And so it was that one of the Conservatives’ top sharks, finance critic Pierre Poilievre, rose in the Commons to invoke, “he who has the most control over the nation’s finances, should have the most transparency over his interests.’’

    Then New Democrat Nathan Cullen pronounced the Morneau scandal “unprecedented,” and “jaw-dropping,’’ and asked how he could continue to do his job while enshrouded in such controversy of his own making.

    By neglecting to put his substantial holdings into a blind trust, Cullen argued that Morneau was in conflict after introducing a bill that would make it easier for federally-regulated businesses to move from defined benefit pensions to riskier targeted benefit pensions.

    Morneau’s family company, Morneau Shephell, would benefit from such a plan and the minister could personally benefit if he still has shares.

    The finance minister was in Montreal, not Question Period, Tuesday, and that is only one of a series of serious missteps by the government on the fiscal reform file, which it must address or pay a steep price.

    • Morneau and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have been successfully painted by the opposition as elitist and out of touch, not the saviours of the middle class as they had marketed themselves. Trudeau has placed his “family fortune” in a blind trust and his finance minister’s failure to do so has allowed the focus to fall on his personal wealth.

    They face legitimate charges they are out of touch with farmers and the fishing industry in this country and were tone deaf in protecting their own interests while initially making it harder for a farm to be passed on to the next generation.

    • The Liberals are showing the same contempt for Parliament and the Parliamentary Press Gallery for which they vilified Stephen Harper.

    They made their tax cut announcement at a Stouffville restaurant, at a symbolic Main Street address with partisan background plumage, a tried-and-true Tory tactic of getting out of Ottawa to locations where they can better stage manage their message.

    Neither Trudeau nor Morneau bothered to show up for Question Period to answer opposition questions Monday or Tuesday.

    And Trudeau, a self-styled admirer of parliamentary reporters, managed to look condescending and arrogant in telling reporters in Stouffville that questions directed at his finance minister would have to go through him because he was the prime minister.

    It reduced the man who should be his most powerful minister to a piece of wallpaper.

    • A government accused of too much consulting apparently consulted no one, not even its own caucus, before bringing in tax reforms.

    Morneau touted a listening tour before the government unveiled a series of tweaks to their reform package and announced they would lower the small business tax rate, but that was a listening tour foisted on him. Union leaders say he also consulted with no one before introducing the pensions bill.

    • A majority government should be able to get a tax fairness package, part of their election platform, through Parliament.

    This could bode ill going forward. Trudeau could have pushed this package through with proper communications, so the government will have to look at this debacle and make sure it is not repeated on marijuana legislation, where substantial problems with provinces, municipalities and the police loom.

    • Morneau’s future.

    He is hurt in that he is neither a natural communicator nor a natural politician. He is willing to meet with Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson again and willing to put his assets in a blind trust if instructed. That would be two years after Dawson told him it wasn’t necessary. His instincts should have told him to do it regardless.

    The old cliché holds that a week is a lifetime in politics.

    Morneau has been stumbling around this minefield for a couple months. That could come with a cost.

    Tim Harper writes on national affairs., Twitter: @nutgraf1

    Morneau walks himself into a political crisis: Tim HarperMorneau walks himself into a political crisis: Tim Harper

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    What precedes the most wonderful time of the year?

    The most offensive time of the year, of course — a.k.a. Halloween.

    It’s the only holiday that makes school principals and university deans cower in fear, not on account of ghosts or witches or any other supernatural threat, but because of something very real: the likelihood that, sooner or later, some kid will show up for class in a cable-knit sweater brandishing a bottle of pills, i.e. clad in a DIY costume of accused serial rapist Bill Cosby.

    Or, to use a more current example, they know a student is bound to show up at school wearing a nice suit with a big pillow tucked under his shirt, in an attempt to resemble alleged serial predator Harvey Weinstein. (Yes, people have already begun doing this. I Googled it. I wish I hadn’t.)

    But the costume that will likely take the cake for most bizarre and offensive in 2017 isn’t that of any living person, but one long dead: a costume depicting Holocaust victim Anne Frank.

    The ensemble, which went viral this week provoking major backlash online, comes complete with a “beret,” a “shoulder bag” and a “felt destination tag.” Its product description on actually read, “We can always learn from the struggles of history!” No kidding.

    But perhaps the getup’s most outrageous element is that the child modelling the costume on the website was pictured grinning with her head cocked to one side and her hand on her hip. In other words, she looked less like a victim of the Nazi regime and more like a girl named Madison posing for a photo at her Bat Mitzvah party at Casa Loma.

    Needless to say, the Anne Frank costume triggered so much outrage it has since been pulled from the popular Halloween website.

    But other tasteless attire there remains to strike fear into the hearts of school administrators. Among them: “Native American Beauty Costume,” “Arab Costume,” “Tween Jade Geisha Costume,” “Pregnant School Girl Costume,” “Child Will Work for Candy Hobo Costume,” and last but certainly not least, “Frank the Flasher,” which appears to be a combination of a raincoat and nude jumpsuit affixed with an enormous plastic penis.

    Eliminate one Anne Frank getup and a thousand different but equally deranged costumes are still there for the taking.

    It’s not surprising then that some institutions are so wary of offending or frightening anyone they have done away with Halloween altogether.

    One of them, the brand new École Sage Creek School in Winnipeg, announced recently that, instead of Halloween, it will celebrate a “tie and scarf day.” The school’s principal told the CBC this week that this decision arose in part because there is a concern Halloween might inspire some students to wear costumes that are too gory and not age-appropriate (think sexy zombie).

    And while not going as far as cancelling Halloween, a French school board in Ontario has released a costume checklist for parents, to help their kids avoid outfits that make use of cultural or ethnic stereotypes.

    And yet I can’t help but strongly doubt that any of these tactics will actually work to dissuade the truly committed young s--t disturber from putting on his most convincing Bill Cosby sweater or makeshift suicide bomber vest come October 31.

    Human beings who choose to wear such costumes, generally speaking, live to scandalize their fellow man, and their worst fear on Halloween isn’t that Bloody Mary will appear in the mirror, but that they won’t sufficiently repulse the people around them.

    So the best punishment for this kind of person, it seems to me, is to fight his extremely poor taste with extremely good taste.

    Come October, schools and colleges should compile a large collection of painfully wholesome costumes. In fact, they should go online right now and order the following: Teletubby, Mailman, Olaf from Frozen, EMT worker (and for couples), Peanut Butter and Jelly.

    It should follow that any student who shows up in a racist or otherwise highly offensive costume would be asked to change into one of these wholesome outfits immediately.

    Who knows, such a student may come to seriously reconsider his Harvey Weinstein fat suit or his Anne Frank beret when he is forced to wear a costume that mortifies nobody but himself.

    Emma Teitel is a national affairs columnist.

    Anne Frank, Harvey Weinstein Halloween costumes call for drastic measures: TeitelAnne Frank, Harvey Weinstein Halloween costumes call for drastic measures: Teitel

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    WASHINGTON, D.C.—If you were attempting to invent a crisis to dampen the giddy, early success of this Maple Leafs season, maybe you could have turned the spotlight on Frederik Andersen.

    That is, maybe before Tuesday night.

    Before Andersen put in his best performance of the season — stopping all 30 shots directed his way in a 2-0 win over the Washington Capitals — you could have made a case that, despite his four wins in the previous five games, he hadn’t shown the stuff of a contender’s No. 1. He was, after all, harbouring an unsightly save percentage of .880 — minor-league-level stuff, for sure. He’d allowed 19 goals against, most in the league heading into Tuesday.

    But Andersen said before Tuesday’s win that he wasn’t concerned with his out-of-the-gate numbers, that his self-analysis suggested he was playing better than his stats suggested. And sure enough, Tuesday’s rock-steady work against the reliably formidable Capitals helped Andersen’s save percentage jump from .880 to .899 — most likely en route to somewhere in the neighbourhood of his career average of .917.

    Read more:

    ‘A young Mario Lemieux’ — Leafs’ Auston Matthews draws heady comparisons amid hot start

    Leafs send message to Marner on eve of date with Capitals

    Leafs’ Matthews getting down to Hart of the matter: Arthur

    “I’ve been feeling pretty well throughout the first (five) games, except it hasn’t felt like it’s been going my way,” Andersen said. “It’s nice to get a game like this.”

    In other words, so much for that invented crisis, at least for now. But don’t think Leafs coach Mike Babcock won’t come up with more items to nitpick now that his young team has won five of its opening six games — the latest against the two-time defending Presidents’ Trophy-winning team that eliminated the Leafs from the playoffs in six games only about six months ago.

    Between that loss and Tuesday’s win, mind you, the dynamic between the teams has have taken a dramatic swing. The Capitals, a year older and a few pieces weaker, spent the lead-up to Tuesday casting themselves as underdogs to the emergent Leafs. Washington coach Barry Trotz called Toronto “elite” and compared Auston Matthews to “a young Mario Lemieux.”

    And even after the Capitals held Matthews to a relatively quiet night — pointless, with just a single shot on goal — they were pointing out that, if not for a big performance from goaltender Braden Holtby, Tuesday’s result could have been worse.

    “Holts made some big saves. It could have been 3-0 right out of the get-go,” said Tom Wilson, the Toronto-bred Capital. “(The Leafs) came out flying. Holts made some huge saves, kept us in it, and their goalie played pretty well, too.”

    Not that Babcock could nitpick much on Tuesday. The coach lauded the winning goal, scored by Connor Brown on a night Brown was promoted from the fourth line to play alongside Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk, for its gritty timeliness. Nazem Kadri scored the other Toronto goal in the final minute with Holtby on the bench

    “I thought we started real good. I thought we got a little carried away in the second period. But a good win for us. Big goal by Brown, obviously,” Babcock said.

    And Babcock lauded, too, Mitch Marner, who swapped spots with Brown in a demotion that Babcock said was aimed at waking up a Bozak-centred line that had been far too lax on the defensive end.

    “Mitch’s line with (Dominic) Moore and (Matt Martin), I thought they had a big night, too. I thought they played real good,” said Babcock.

    Given that Marner played 12:49 — his lowest total as a Leaf save for last year’s game in Columbus in which he suffered a shoulder injury — it’ll be interesting to see how that big night is rewarded, or not.

    Maybe Marner’s banishment to the bottom of the forward rotation was an invented crisis of sorts for a team in the midst of a wildly exciting beginning. There were players on the roster who greeted this week’s hubbub around Marner’s place on the depth chart with eye rolls and shakes of the head. In the lead-up to Tuesday’s game van Riemsdyk smiled broadly as he answered another in a line of questions on the topic, dropping an unsubtle hint that he was tired of the topic.

    “I wish I had all these (media) guys on my side when I was coming into the league. It’s pretty funny. It’s one line switch,” said van Riemsdyk.

    Marner, to be fair, isn’t just another player. For the opening two-thirds of last season he was leading all NHL rookies in scoring. If not for that shoulder injury suffered in Columbus, not to mention a late-season run-in with mononucleosis, it’s wholly conceivable Marner would have outpaced a stellar field of first-year players in the rookie scoring race. And Marner did it while driving a line from the wing, helping both van Riemsdyk and Bozak to career years.

    “I’ve never coached a kid that young that good before,” Babcock said of Marner back in December.

    It wasn’t long after Babcock said those words that he was demoting Marner to the fourth line for part of a game against the Avalanche, a move Babcock acknowledged was a message to Marner about the importance of work ethic. Maybe prosperity and big-time potential demand those kinds of pre-emptive interventions.

    Certainly Babcock tried to insert a few caveats into his general praise for his team on Tuesday night.

    “Kind of got involved in their game, rushing up and down the ice, instead of maybe playing more heavy and on the cycle,” said the coach.

    “Turned over a few too many pucks,” he added.

    Still, he could only take the tsk-tsking so far. There’ll surely be more Leafland crises to come, invented or otherwise. But there was something to be said for enjoying a victory over a team that, not long ago, proved itself superior.

    “It’s fun for us to come down here and get a little bit of revenge,” Andersen said. “Obviously it doesn’t count as much (as a playoff-series win). But it’s something for the future.”

    Capitals take the punishment against Leafs: FeschukCapitals take the punishment against Leafs: Feschuk

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    Seven years of part-time employment have forced Liz Brockest to put life goals on hold.

    “I’m delaying any plans to have kids because I don’t even have job security to know that I can provide for my family,” said the 34-year-old teacher in the Transitions to Post-Secondary Education Program at George Brown.

    From the picket lines on the downtown campus Tuesday, she talked about the perils of juggling multiple gigs just to pay rent and other bills. Brockest, one of thousands of part-time faculty members across Ontario colleges on strike this week, has to reapply for the same job every semester.

    “It’s incredibly stressful,” she said, never sure about her next contract and what courses she’ll be allowed to teach. “I teach courses about equity, fairness, human rights, and I’m in an environment where my employer is not providing the same things to me.”

    Part-time and temporary employment may be here to stay, said labour researcher Wayne Lewchuk, adding that strikes will probably continue, including at universities.

    Precarious work has been a trend for the past 20 years, a result of a “fairly conscious” campaign led by temporary employment agencies who see it as a better way of running businesses, Lewchuk said.

    “The dominant management theory now is that it makes sense to hire people on a temporary basis, to worry less about their development as more capable and productive employees, and simply focus on the short run,” he explained.

    Lewchuk was the lead author of a 2015 report on precarious employment, which found that about 52 per cent of workers in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area are in temporary, part-time or contract positions.

    He said the education sector is particularly affected by this trend, mainly because budgets are being squeezed and part-time teaching is seen as a cost-effective measure.

    College staff are asking for at least a 50-50 ratio between full-time and part-time employment, but colleges say it would be too costly. Negotiations are currently on hold.

    The strike is a sign that the situation is reaching a breaking point, said Lewchuk.

    “I think in the long run, we all suffer from this,” he said.

    “It’s not clear that students are getting the best deal by having instructors who are scrambling to put a life together teaching at multiple institutions and never getting enough money.”

    Ontario college strike the tip of the temp-work iceberg, expert saysOntario college strike the tip of the temp-work iceberg, expert says

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    SMITHS FALLS, ONT.— Joshua Boyle, a Canadian who was rescued with his family last week by Pakistani troops, said Tuesday that his wife had to be rushed to the hospital and remains there.

    Boyle told The Associated Press in an email that his wife, Caitlan Boyle, was admitted Monday. His email did not specify why she was taken to the hospital.

    Read more:

    If Pakistan failed to free Boyle family SEAL Team 6 would have, U.S. officials say

    After a lifetime in captivity, the children of Joshua Boyle and Caitlan Coleman begin to heal

    ‘Let’s make the best of this’: Ex-hostage Joshua Boyle explains why he and his wife had kids in captivity

    “My first concern has to be the health of my wife and children,” Boyle wrote.

    He also declined to offer any details about his wife’s condition following an inquiry from The Canadian Press.

    “We really just need the world to have some patience and compassion, some propriety and decorum,” he wrote in an email. “Please, give it a couple days.”

    Boyle, his American wife and their three children were rescued Wednesday, five years after the couple was abducted in Afghanistan on a backpacking trip. Four children were born in captivity.

    Joshua Boyle said after landing at Toronto’s airport on Friday that the Taliban-linked Haqqani network killed an infant daughter and raped his wife during the years they were held.

    In prior email exchange with AP, Boyle did not respond to a question about the fourth child but later told the CBC that it was a forced abortion. The Taliban said in a statement it was a miscarriage.

    On Monday, Boyle told the AP that he and his wife decided to have children even while held captive because they always planned to have a big family and decided, “Hey, let’s make the best of this and at least go home with a larger start on our dream family.”

    “We’re sitting as hostages with a lot of time on our hands,” Boyle told AP. “We always wanted as many as possible, and we didn’t want to waste time. Cait’s in her 30s, the clock is ticking.”

    Boyle said their three children are now 4, 2 and “somewhere around 6 months.”

    “Honestly we’ve always planned to have a family of 5, 10, 12 children ... We’re Irish, haha,” he wrote in an email.

    The parents of Caitlan Boyle have said they are elated she is free, but also angry at their son-in law for taking their daughter to Afghanistan.

    “Taking your pregnant wife to a very dangerous place, to me, and the kind of person I am, is unconscionable,” Caitlan’s father, Jim Coleman said, told ABC News.

    —With files from Canadian Press

    Caitlan Coleman, recently freed hostage, admitted to hospitalCaitlan Coleman, recently freed hostage, admitted to hospital

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    FERNIE, B.C.—Three people are dead after a possible ammonia leak at an arena in Fernie, B.C. on Tuesday night that also forced an evacuation of homes, businesses and a retirement home in the immediate area.

    WorkSafeBC said based on preliminary information, three workers were exposed to a gas leak shortly before noon.

    The city said details about the victims would be released once they are identified and their next of kin are notified.

    The city, which has declared a seven-day local state of emergency, said residents in the evacuation area have been provided overnight accommodations. There was no immediate word on how many people had to leave the area.

    Fire chief Ted Ruiter said the situation was “somewhat under control” although emergency crews were still waiting to safely enter the Fernie Memorial Arena late Tuesday where the deaths occurred.

    “We’re still concerned about some ammonia leaking into the environment,” he said.

    Officials have not said if others were inside the facility at the time of the leak. Ruiter said there were no injuries in addition to the deaths.

    He said WorkSafeBC had been contacted about the incident and the RCMP was leading the investigation at the site.

    “Anytime you’re dealing with fatalities it’s always tough,” he said of the event’s impact on his crews. “We’re a small city and everybody knows each other. It’s very hard to deal with, for sure.”

    The city said in a news release it is working with CIMCO Refrigeration and trying to get additional specialized resources to deal with the hazardous situation.

    Ruiter said B.C.’s Ministry of Environment is also sending staff to assist with monitoring and to determine what the next steps will be.

    Ammonia is commonly used in mechanical refrigeration systems, including those found in ice rinks. Ammonia is used in liquid form in these systems but becomes a gas once it is released into the air.

    The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety says ammonia is a colourless gas that is very toxic if inhaled and can cause death.

    Symptoms of ammonia poisoning may include coughing, shortness of breath, difficult breathing and tightness in the chest. The centre also says symptoms may develop hours after exposure and are made worse by physical effort.

    In addition to being used in ice rinks, ammonia is used in fertilizer and to make plastics, fibres and other chemicals.

    Ammonia leak at Fernie, B.C. arena that left three dead is ‘somewhat under control’Ammonia leak at Fernie, B.C. arena that left three dead is ‘somewhat under control’

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    A final debate on a controversial Quebec bill to ban women wearing niqabs and burkas from offering or receiving public services began Tuesday, and a vote likely to be held this week will accept or reject the idea that the best way to stop women from being forced to wear a particular garment is to force women to not wear that garment.

    Bill 62, labelled as “an act to foster adherence to state religious neutrality,” is the face of contemporary dog whistle anti-Islamic politics couched as a unique commitment to secularism. Just leave that crucifix hanging on the wall behind the Quebec parliamentary speaker’s chair, please. That’s historical.

    The bill comes complete with the thinnest plausible deniability — the law would also apply to masked protesters, Quebec Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée has said. The bill is also supposed to set vaguely defined limits to religious accommodation.

    If governments don’t belong in people’s bedrooms, they certainly don’t belong in women’s closets.

    We know this. On Tuesday, an Ontario MPP tabled a motion asking workplaces to butt out of those wardrobes. Liberal MPP Christina Martens tabled a private member’s bill to ban all workplaces from requiring women to wear high heels to work — not just industrial facilities or health-care facilities and such.

    Bill 62 should be rejected for the same reason anti-abortionism would be. They are both anti-choice.

    A bill that seeks to legislate clothing ends up linking emancipation of women to how little or how much they wear. In doing so, it works against choice.

    If you, like me, don’t wear any kind of face covering, this battle isn’t about us. It is, however, about defending the rights of the tiny number of women in Quebec who cover their faces even if you can’t defend their practice.

    To be clear, I have no patience for the imposition of modesty on women, especially if those standards of modesty differ significantly from those imposed on men. This applies to expectations that women cover their faces but men needn’t.

    I equally detest the ingrained expectation of sexual allure from women that is not asked of men. This applies to the overt sexualization of women’s clothes in the name of liberation — all dressed up, women bare more skin, whether at chi-chi galas or queued up outside nightclubs. All dressed up, men bare little.

    Just as there are many reasons women might choose to wear a little black dress, there are many reasons women might choose a voluminous one that includes a face covering. For some it’s a political stance — a statement of defiance against Islamophobia; for some it’s about personal comfort and modesty; for some it is a mark of devoutness; for some it’s unthinking conformity.

    Of course, there are those who wear it because they don’t have a choice.

    A progressive society would also support women who want to uncover their heads or faces or any parts of their body, but the desire for change has to come from within.

    Bill 62 attempts to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. An Environics study shows about 3 per cent of Canadians who are Muslim wear a niqab in public. The numbers in Quebec are not known but it’s also expected to be minuscule.

    It’s astounding that a matter that affects so few people in Quebec was prioritized as worth spending precious time and money on.

    Vallée told the CBC the legislation is necessary for “communication reasons, identification reasons and security reasons.”

    “I find it hard to see how you can have a dialogue when it’s difficult or impossible to distinguish a person’s non-verbal cues,” she said earlier this month.

    Sure, it might be uncomfortable, but is there a communication problem that “Pardon?” won’t solve?

    How were identification and security — as in women refusing to lift their veils to identify themselves to officials — established as a challenge large enough to require legislation?

    An Angus Reid poll this month showed that 87 per cent of Quebecers strongly or moderately support the bill. That makes it not the right move, just a populist one.

    Bill 62 was never about religious neutrality. It is about discomfort with overt Muslim-ness. If the conservative Parti Québécois floated a so-called Charter of Values to ban public servants from wearing all obvious religious symbols, the Liberals targeted the lowest hanging fruit of Islamic womenswear — burkas and niqabs.

    Even if we were all to agree to being collectively uncomfortable with the idea of Muslim women — or anybody — covering their faces in the public sphere, how did it become so indecent as to be banned?

    A few years ago, a woman wearing a niqab came to my hot yoga class. Her abaya restricted her movements, making them risky for her. After a few classes, she stopped coming. I’m guessing she made a choice.

    Did her choices affect me? Infringe on my rights in any way? Threaten the future of my country? If Bill 62 passes and she moves to Quebec, to use the bus or go to the doctor she would have to reconsider her religious beliefs or seek an official exemption for accommodation.

    There are no such restrictions for the rest of Quebec’s residents.

    Tell me again, what’s the definition of discrimination?

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

    Quebec and its niqab legislation needs to stay out of women’s closets: ParadkarQuebec and its niqab legislation needs to stay out of women’s closets: Paradkar

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    OTTAWA—A man accused of holding Amanda Lindhout hostage in Somalia testified in court he did not receive ransom money — even though he twice told undercover RCMP officers he got $10,000 U.S.

    Ali Omar Ader told Ontario Superior Court on Tuesday that in 2013, he lied about being paid to a Mountie posing as his business agent because it was what the man wanted to hear.

    At the time, Ader believed he was meeting the businessman on the island of Mauritius to discuss plans to publish his book about Somalia.

    Read more:

    Mother of ex-hostage Amanda Lindhout speaks out on ‘victim shaming,’ Joshua Boyle and her ‘disgust’ with Ottawa

    Accused Lindhout kidnapper admitted receiving $10K of ransom: RCMP officer

    Amanda Lindhout’s mother says accused kidnapper feared ‘he was being set up’

    The seeds of the phoney book project were planted three years earlier when Ader tried to make contact with Lindhout’s mother, months after her daughter was freed. The undercover Mountie phoned Ader in Somalia, saying he had been hired by the shaken family to respond to all queries.

    They stayed in touch about Ader’s book, leading to the face-to-face meeting in Mauritius. The Mounties saw the elaborate scheme as a way to get Ader to admit involvement in the hostage-taking.

    Ader told the court Tuesday he feared his business associate would not trust him if he denied responsibility for the kidnapping.

    Ader said he repeated the lie about getting $10,000 U.S. two years later in Ottawa — this time with his supposed agent and a second Mountie posing as a Vancouver publisher — because he wanted to make his dream of being an author a reality.

    “To tell you the truth, I did not receive any money,” Ader said under questioning from Samir Adam, one of his lawyers.

    Lindhout and Australian photographer Nigel Brennan were abducted by armed men while working on a story near Mogadishu in August 2008, the beginning of 15 months in captivity. Both were released upon payment of a ransom.

    Ader, a 40-year-old Somalian national who speaks some English, has pleaded not guilty to a criminal charge of hostage-taking for his alleged role as a negotiator and translator.

    In a secretly recorded sting video of the 2015 Ottawa meeting, Ader acknowledges being paid for helping the shadowy group of armed kidnappers.

    In the witness box, however, Ader has told a different story.

    He has painted himself as a victim who was coerced into assisting three gang leaders and a posse of gun-toting youths over several months through threats, a beating and an attack on his family.

    He said he was detained by the group and forced to make ransom calls to Lindhout’s mother. Ader described escaping at one point, and later surrendering to the kidnappers after they assaulted his family and threatened to do worse.

    In fact, Ader said, he then moved his wife and children into a house with the kidnappers as it was the only option at the time.

    Ader insisted he tried to tell his supposed business agent in Mauritius that he had no choice but to work with the hostage-takers, but the man wasn’t interested. “He did not listen to me — he did not pay attention to me.”

    Ader said since his associate kept closing down the conversation, he told him what he liked hearing.

    He said he felt compelled to repeat the lie about being paid to help the gang to secure the book deal at the meeting in Ottawa.

    In cross-examining Ader, prosecutor Croft Michaelson challenged this latest version of events, saying his testimony was “largely untruthful.”

    Michaelson wondered why Ader would make up a story in Mauritius for a man he had come to see as a trusted business partner, instead of telling him he was forced to co-operate with a gang of kidnappers.

    “Why wouldn’t you have told him the story you have told us today?” Michaelson asked.

    “Wouldn’t it have made more sense to tell him the truth than to manufacture a lie?”

    Michaelson also quizzed Ader about moving his family into a house with the hostage-takers.

    “Why would you bring your wife and children with you to live with gunmen?”

    Ader replied: “It was part of the surrender.”

    Accused Amanda Lindhout kidnapper testifies he lied to RCMP, did not receive ransom moneyAccused Amanda Lindhout kidnapper testifies he lied to RCMP, did not receive ransom money

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    “What you’re about to see is very graphic.”

    The warning on Tuesday morning came from Crown Attorney Meghan Scott.

    Delivered at the very minute that a dozen teenagers filed into the courtroom on one of those school field trips to see justice in action.

    They appeared to endure the ordeal without visible trauma. But I kept thinking: Leave. Now. Go.

    There are some things that should never be displayed in public.

    And this — autopsy photos of the dismembered remains of 24-year-old Rigat Ghirmay — was the worst I’ve ever witnessed in decades of covering trials.

    Murder porn.

    I wondered, too: Would these exhibits — final violation of an Eritrean refugee chopped up into pieces, allegedly in her own bathtub — have been put up on a screen, in open court, if the victim was a young white middle-class female?

    Because it is no longer routine for such grisly evidence to be paraded in court.

    One person who didn’t look up at all: Adonay Zekarias, on trial for first-degree murder. He picked at his cuticles, stared into space, leaned in as a translator spoke quietly into his ear.

    But he never cast a glance at those gruesome images.

    Ghirmay’s remains were discovered at separate locations, three years apart. Her torso — actually, both legs from below the waist but with feet missing — were happened upon by a passerby, Francis McMullen, on May 24, 2013, stuffed into a duffel bag and left near a pathway in the Black Creek Flood control area. That spot was about 500 metres from Zekarias’s residence.

    The second discovery was made by bone collector Michael Paquet on two expeditions a week apart to the Lavender Creek Trail in April 2016. The first cache was long leg bones and bone shards that Paquet originally believed were animal specimens. Returning to the site later he found a plastic bag that contained a clearly human skull, ribs and other bones — the rest of Ghirmay, apart from the feet and her right hand, which have never been found.

    It was the torso — most of Ghirmay’s lower half, retrieved only nine days after the woman was last seen alive, so still fleshy and not extensively decomposed — that sent shudders through the courtroom as Dr. Toby Rose, a forensic pathologist, testified about the remains she had autopsied.

    “This is the entire specimen,” Rose, deputy chief of forensic pathology with Ontario Forensic Pathology Service, said crisply, with the detachment of an expert who specializes in the dead, a corpse whisperer.

    And there Ghirmay is on the screen, severed just above the belly button, still wearing yoga pants and her underwear, with a deep slash across one leg, as if someone had tried to saw through below the knee cap but not finished the job.

    Bisecting a human being at the waist, noted Rose, is not particularly strenuous work. “There aren’t any bones there to go through . . . until you get to the spine.”

    Oh, but it got excruciatingly more horrific.

    In another slide, the truncated body is now naked. So terribly vulnerable. Rose points out “splash marks” on the buttocks, indicating that some type of liquid had spread across the area. Yes, it might have been acid, it might have been bleach. But testing revealed no definitive cause. Just as Rose could not determine cause of death by what she had on the table. There were no obvious injuries such as a bullet hole or a stabbing wound. Ghirmay may have been strangled, who knows? Rose didn’t have a neck that could have shown compression injuries.

    “It can be difficult to determine a cause of death even when I examine (a body) in the best of circumstances. In this case the circumstances are the worst.”

    She did draw attention to a few “body part defects,” evidence of small injuries that she concluded occurred after death.

    Of particular scrutiny to Rose, during the autopsy, was a tiny puncture to the external genitalia. And here we were presented with an excised scrap of flesh from the clitoris to the anus. It might have been significant as an indicator of sexual assault trauma but Rose could draw no conclusions. There were no internal injuries. Ghirmay had been a healthy young woman.

    But we stared at the specimen anyway, in magnified dimensions, these most intimate details of a dead woman’s anatomy. With no discernible reason for why Ghirmay should have been so miserably exposed.

    It was another pathologist who conducted the post-mortem on the “jumble” of bones found by Paquet but Rose, who reviewed the findings, presented them to court. “Her circumstances were worse,” said Rose of her colleague. “She only had a skeleton.”

    Those desiccated remains showed no “bony” injuries but there were some indications of “changes she saw in the bones” that could have been caused by an object with a blade, a straight edge and a pointed end. A knife in other words.

    The prosecution’s theory is that Zekarias killed Ghirmay — a close friend who’d briefly shared an apartment with him — to prevent her from taking any suspicions she may have had to police about the Oct. 23, 2012 murder of another woman, Nighisti Semret. The mother of four, also a refugee from Eritrea — as is the accused — was stabbed to death in a Cabbagetown alley as she walked home after her night shift as a hotel maid.

    It is unknown if Ghirmay and Semret knew each other. But both certainly knew Zekarias. Semret had helped Zekarias — they both lived for a time at Sojourn House, a refugee shelter — fill out immigration paperwork. All three came to Canada from Eritrea.

    Zekarias was Semret’s killer. He was convicted of first-degree murder in June 2015 and sentenced to life in prison. Although simultaneously charged with Ghirmay’s murder, the trials were severed. This trial, four years after Ghirmay was last seen alive — captured on surveillance video entering her Shuter Street apartment building with Zekarias — is judge-alone, which is why so many details about the earlier crime have been heard in open court: How he fled to Germany for two months after the Semret slaying and monitored reports of the police investigation on his laptop searches; how he returned to Canada in February 2013 when detectives still believed they were looking for a white suspect who walked with a limp; and how, crucially, he’d been taken to hospital, mere hours after Semret was killed, to be treated for severe wounds to both hands, which he claimed had been caused by a slamming door.

    DNA taken from beneath Semret’s fingernails led police to dramatically change their suspect description, revealing that the killer had probably absorbed serious injuries to his arms or hands during the assault, and also announcing a $50,000 reward for information resulting in an arrest.

    Ghirmay had ridden in the ambulance with Zekarias. She was with him when he purchased his plane ticket to Germany. In the months prior to his arrest, they were frequently seen together as Ghirmay bought a TV, a cell phone, and signed a lease on a subsidized housing apartment.

    No motive has ever been learned for why Semret was murdered.

    But there was plenty of motive for silencing Ghirmay — a victim, in a final indignity, stripped of all her secrets in court.

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

    Murder victim stripped of all her secrets in court: DiMannoMurder victim stripped of all her secrets in court: DiManno

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    Charity the cow isn’t going anywhere soon, and there’s confusion about where she will go when a decision is made on her future.

    Markham councilors held a council meeting Tuesday night to determine what to do with the city’s infamous cow-on-stilts statue after a local developer couldn’t be prodded to change her position.

    The statue was donated and installed earlier this summer by local developer Helen Roman-Barber, and has attracted hundreds of curious bovine art critics and lovers to the quiet suburb of Cathedraltown, near Elgin Mills Rd. and Woodbine Ave.

    “When I asked her if she had an intention, or willingness to open her mind to look at an alternative site, she said that was never her intention and she sees this as being the best location for her donation,” said Steven Chait, the director of economic growth, culture and entrepreneurship for the city of Markham.

    He said she was not open to discussion on moving the statue, even when she was informed the city would pay for it.

    Last month, Markham councilors voted to move the now infamous cow statue called Charity: Perpetuation of Perfection, after residents protested about the proximity of the stainless steel statue to their home, the lack of consultation before installation and the height of the public art piece.

    Charity, believed to be “the most perfect cow there ever was,” was partially owned by wealthy businessman, Stephen Roman, Helen’s father. It is believed the cow never even came to Markham, and spent her life on a farm in Port Perry.

    Mayor Frank Scarpitti repeatedly said he was against the idea of moving the cow.

    Councillors struggled to decide if the statue should be removed immediately or if it should remain on Charity Cres. until a new location is found. After a recorded vote, council decided 7-4 to keep the “sculpture on site until a suitable location is found.”

    Council also voted to give staff until the end of the year to come up with possible options of where the statue will go when the city assumes ownership of the statue.

    According to a memorandum signed between the developer and the city, the city will consult “with the donor prior to any final decision being made regarding the sculpture’s removal and relocation,” it says, adding “the decision of the city shall be final.”

    And “if the decision is made by the city to relocate the Sculpture or remove the Sculpture from public display, the city will advise the donor in writing.”

    Tammy Armes, a long-time resident of Cathedraltown, questions why taxpayers should be on the hook.

    “Why should we pay for it? Why should resident of Markham pay for this mistake?”

    Resident Danny Da Silva said he was happy to see the councilors support the motion for moving the statue and would be following the next steps closely.

    “I think the donor has been very consistent in her stance, so that wasn’t surprising.”

    But until then, he admits he will have to live with a front row seat of Charity.

    “We want to see how this transpires. We are still expecting to find an alternate location soon as possible, and at the earliest convenience to see it moved. If they dilly-dally, that could be problematic.”

    Markham cow statue Charity to stay put, will not be mooovedMarkham cow statue Charity to stay put, will not be moooved

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    The Star talked to five women from Victoria and asked them about the study that suggests the B.C. capital is the best place to be a woman.

    Boma Brown, 26, Support Network for Indigenous Women & Women of Colour founder

    Brown, who’s of Nigerian descent and previously lived in Botswana and in the U.S., has been in Victoria for six years. While the city has become more diverse in that time, she said, it’s still difficult for a woman of colour.

    “I think living in Victoria is, I don’t know if unique is the right word, but it’s an interesting experience,” she told the Star by phone.

    “Victoria is on the West Coast, so it’s really beautiful and the weather is great and I think that attracts a lot of immigrants and people who are retired and tourists and things like that. So in that regard it’s really awesome. But the unfortunate reality is for a person who is a woman of colour who moved here there isn’t a lot of community.”

    She said a lot of people who move to the city, particularly from other countries, can end up feeling isolated “in terms of having people who look like you, who speak your language, who eat the food you like to eat.”

    For a long time after moving to Victoria, she would travel to Toronto twice a year with an empty suitcase to pick up all the food she couldn’t get at home.

    And in 2014 she founded the Support Network for Indigenous Women & Women of Colour, hoping to support other women experiencing the same possible feelings of isolation.

    Gillian Worley, 24, electrical engineering co-op student

    After three years in Victoria, Worley said she sincerely loves the city.

    “I feel safe to walk and bike around at night,” she said.

    In her experience, she said the city was accepting of “all those who identify as women, and is encouraging of uniqueness and authenticity.”

    “That being said, I speak from a place of majority demographic,” she cautioned, though she said that it was her hope that minority groups would say the same thing about their city.

    There was a sense of camaraderie, she said, among her female friends and other women in the community that wasn’t felt in other cities she’s lived in.

    She spent two years in Vancouver, and found it busier and less personal.

    “Even though Victoria is a city, it feels smaller because women seem to look out for each other. I would agree that Victoria is one of the best Canadian cities for women for these reasons.”

    Kaitlin Ruether, 23, full-time student

    Ruether moved to Toronto this fall after five years in Victoria.

    “In terms of safety, or the feeling of safety, Victoria definitely feels like the safest place I’ve ever lived,” Ruether wrote in a Facebook message. “I think it has to do with the city’s mentality of community and this atmosphere it has of a town — or at least the small city off the coast of Vancouver.”

    Since moving to Toronto, though, she said that she’s found a higher focus on ideas of diversity and equality between men and women. Some of the smaller-city features of Victoria, which made it feel safe to live in, also led to more difficulty when it came to seizing opportunities.

    “It feels harder to work your way into anything, and even more so as a woman,” she wrote.

    So, for her, being in Toronto meant increasing the possibilities in her life.

    Sarah Petrescu, 39, Victoria Times-Colonist reporter

    “Victoria has the same personal safety risks for women that any other city has,” Petrescu wrote in an email to the Star. “That said, you don’t often worry about random cougars on the loose near downtown Toronto.”

    (Police and conservation officers chased down a wild cougar on the loose in Victoria late in 2015, drawing considerable local and media attention.)

    Petrescu added that, in some ways, she found Victoria to be the best place for women — dubbed ‘Chicktoria’ by some for its high female population numbers. “It’s easy to network and build support groups, to make lasting friendships and raise a family. Where leadership and salary opportunities lack, creative income-generating ideas flourish — check out our Etsy shops.”

    But, as a journalist, she said she also sees the many single mothers and marginalized women bearing “the heaviest load” in what she called a brutal zero-vacancy rental market with a high cost of living.

    Bobbi Turner, 60, executive director of Island Sexual Health

    Tuesday was the first Turner had heard of Victoria being ranked so highly for women, and she laughed when thinking about what to say.

    “Golly, that’s an interesting question,” she said. “It’s not one I’ve ever really thought about.”

    The Island Sexual Health clinic where Turner works had over 22,000 patient visits last year — predominantly women — and she said it’s becoming the only medical resource for many.

    “It’s extremely difficult right now for anyone to get a family physician,” Turner said of the city. “So from a health-care perspective, this doesn’t bode as well for women in Victoria.”

    The majority of their clients don’t have a family doctor, making it difficult to access health care outside the realm of sexual health.

    “This is, for many of them, the only place that they can go to get services.”

    Is Victoria really the best place to be a woman in Canada? Five residents weigh inIs Victoria really the best place to be a woman in Canada? Five residents weigh in

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    A Toronto physician who was found to have stroked a patient’s buttocks, routinely hugged and kissed her and once said she would be a “good lover” has lost his licence.

    A discipline panel of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario ordered earlier this month that Dr. William “Art” Beairsto, who practised family medicine and psychotherapy in Leaside, should not only have his licence revoked for sexual abuse, but also post credit in the amount of $16,000 to cover therapy costs for the patient, known as Patient A.

    The college will not confirm if it referred the case to the police, only that it complied with its policy on “reporting physicians’ acts to the police.”

    The October 2015 policy states, among other things, that the college will forward a copy of its discipline decision to police in “any matter that raises issues of physician criminal actions.” The college said it is barred by law from providing a patient’s name to police unless the patient consents.

    The case again highlights that there is no provision in law that makes it mandatory for all health professional colleges to report complaints about members to the police, something that has divided lawyers and advocates.

    Toronto police said that Beairsto is not facing criminal charges. The 69-year-old physician was found guilty of sexual abuse by a panel of the college’s discipline committee in August 2016, and had been suspended since November. His lawyer declined to comment to the Star.

    Since the passage of Bill 87 in May, it is mandatory that a physician found guilty of groping be immediately suspended pending the outcome of their penalty hearing, where their licence must now be revoked.

    Beairsto’s lawyers had argued at his penalty hearing in March that the amendments to the Regulated Health Professions Act brought in by Bill 87 should not apply because his case came before the passage of the bill. They argued to extend his suspension by three months, coupled with further training and supervision.

    Before Bill 87, a discipline panel still had the discretion to impose penalties when it came to groping. Indeed, the panel was harshly criticized as recently as 2016 for handing down suspensions for groping, rather than revoking licences.

    But the four-member panel in the Beairsto case agreed with the college’s lawyer that the provisions in Bill 87 were retroactive and that the doctor should lose his licence. Even if not for Bill 87, the panel said they would still have revoked his licence.

    “Counsel for Dr. Beairsto argued that the legislative changes should not be applied retrospectively because the imposition of mandatory revocation would be punitive, and that different strategic decisions with respect to his defence might have been made had they known that mandatory revocation was a possibility,” the panel wrote.

    The panel noted that Beairsto had previously come under the college’s radar in 2010 for a complaint of “egregious boundary crossings/violations” with a patient. That complaint was never sent to a public discipline hearing.

    Instead, Beairsto was cautioned in secret, ordered to participate in a psychotherapy support group, and stop seeing patients with certain significant personality disorders, among other things.

    The issue of whether sexual abuse by physicians should always be reported by the colleges to the police has been the subject of debate.

    An independent task force, set up in the wake of a Star investigation on doctors still at work after sexually abusing their patients, specifically recommended against a mandatory reporting rule in its final report to Health Minister Eric Hoskins. Some of the task force’s recommendations formed part of Bill 87.

    “Understandably, we all wish for a simple solution to a complex problem in our society,” wrote chair Marilou McPhedran, now a senator, and Sheila Macdonald, provincial co-ordinator of sexual assault and domestic violence treatment centres in Ontario.

    “The task force notes that patients who have experienced sexual abuse by a health professional have, and should continue to have, the option to report the abuse to the police and proceed through the criminal justice system process, should they so choose.

    “However, the task force asserts that choice is essential for patients who have experienced abuse and that the patient must retain agency and control as the decision-maker in these situations.”

    At the CPSO, part of its policy is that it will offer to assist a complainant in filing a report to the police if they choose to do so.

    Medical malpractice lawyer Paul Harte disagrees with some aspects of the task force’s findings, and said colleges should always be reporting to police, and include the name of the complainant whether or not they have consent.

    “The task force was, rightfully so, very much focused on the complainant, but I think you need to balance that against the need to protect the public,” said Harte.

    “We have to have some faith in the police that they're going to be able to handle these situations, in the same way they handle other sexual abuse allegations.”

    Aside from finding Beairsto stroked Patient A’s buttocks, other findings the discipline panel made against him last year included:

    • Beairsto hugged and kissed Patient A on the cheeks after their psychotherapy sessions, which the committee found to be inappropriate, but not sexual abuse. Patient A found this conduct “weird,” while Beairsto testified that he kissed both male and female patients on the cheeks “in a cocktail party manner,” and hugged them “European-style.” He said he regrets hugging Patient A, and now only hugs and kisses his gay male patients, “as this allows him to demonstrate that, as a straight man, he is not homophobic.”

    • Patient A testified that Beairsto touched himself near his genitals and then smelled his hand. The doctor said he did not touch his crotch, but may have moved his hand from somewhere below his desk to his nose “as part of a demonstration to explain that smelling one’s vaginal discharge could be helpful in determining if a vaginal infection had resolved.” He testified that Patient A “misinterpreted his efforts” to give some “practical” medical advice.

    The committee found Beairsto’s description of the encounter to be unprofessional.

    “It is so outside the norm of what is a professional way to communicate medical information that, even if not salacious as alleged, it is completely inappropriate, and the committee finds Dr. Beairsto’s conduct to be disgraceful, dishonourable or unprofessional,” the committee said.

    Leaside doctor who groped, kissed patient loses licenceLeaside doctor who groped, kissed patient loses licence

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    An Ontario judge has approved Sears Canada’s request to reduce its retention bonus for about three dozen head office staff who will stay through the retailer’s liquidation process, which begins its next phase on Thursday.

    The total amount that could be paid under the retention plan for head office executives and staff has been cut by $1.1 million following a number of departures, which has reduced the number of eligible employees to 36 from 43. That is down from a total pot of $7.6 million when the insolvent retailer’s restructuring process first began in June.

    But some of the retailer’s former employees said after Wednesday’s hearing that they think too much money and time are being spent to coax executives to stay.

    Read more:

    Sears Canada going out of business

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    Sears Canada faces online calls for boycott over treatment of ex-employees

    “I’m really upset. Really upset. I’m upset,” said Mina Iannino, who struggled to express her “disgust” with the way employees have been treated during the Sears Canada windup.

    The employees who are being kept for the liquidation “should just walk out and leave this company high and dry and to lose something,” Iannino told reporters.

    Jennifer Holder, a laid-off cosmetics sales person, said she “cannot believe that they’re still worried about securing bonuses for executives when the employees are looking at going through a Christmas season with no real job.”

    “Everything they’re doing in this process is to secure themselves some form of a bonus, when everyone else is looking at unemployment, (and without) enough money in the hardship fund to take care of employees across Canada.”

    Under the court-approved employee retention plan for Sears Canada, executives would forfeit their bonus if they leave voluntarily or are fired “for cause” — a legal term meaning some sort of contract violation or wrongdoing.

    Under the revised plan, the key head office employees can earn their bonuses if they stay with the company until next March or April, depending on the person.

    Before granting the company’s revised retention bonus plan, Justice Glenn Hainey got assurances that there are no additional funds being approved beyond the $7.6 million that was originally approved for head office bonuses.

    About half of the original bonuses for head office executives has been used up since Sears Canada entered court protection in June. That would have left $3.9 million in the bonus plan prior Wednesday’s court approval, but now only $2.8 million will be allocated for the remainder of the windup.

    The retailer currently has 74 full department store locations, eight Sears Home Stores and 49 Sears Hometown stores, which all face closure.

    Wednesday is the last day Sears Canada will honour extended warranties as the retailer prepares to start liquidation sales Thursday.

    Sears Canada said earlier this week that only customers who bought a protection agreement within the past 30 days could get refunds from paying for extended coverage.

    It said most merchandise it sells comes with a one-year manufacturer’s warranty, which will be available to customers directly from the manufacturers.

    The company said it still looking for a buyer for its repair business, but it’s not know if a sale will go through or under what terms the repair service would operate.

    Sears Canada employees angered by bonus plan for key executivesSears Canada employees angered by bonus plan for key executives

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    The legal battle over whether to revoke a death certificate for a Brampton woman on life support continued Wednesday, with a doctor telling court that four physicians have declared Taquisha McKitty dead.

    Dr. Omar Hayani at Brampton Civic Hospital on Sept. 20 determined that McKitty’s brain had ceased functioning, which constitutes death in Ontario.

    Her family, represented by lawyer Hugh Scher, argues that she is alive and hopes to have her death certificate revoked.

    Judge Lucille Shaw granted a two-week injunction to keep McKitty on life support on Sept. 28.

    McKitty, a 27-year-old mother of a nine-year-old daughter, is currently on a ventilator.

    Dr. Andrew Healey, head of the critical care at Brampton Civic Hospital, told the court that McKitty is moving, but said her movements were automatisms and spinal reflexes, which are consistent with brain dead patients. He said that physicians assess her twice a day, in addition to care from nurses, who do not necessarily track her movements.

    Scher told court that McKitty has the capacity to breathe but Healey disagreed.

    “She does not have the capacity to breathe,” Healey said. “I would assert that the ventilator is doing all the work.”

    Scher also told court that McKitty is menstruating, a statement Healey also disagreed with.

    “I am aware that there was vaginal bleeding,” said Healey, who argued that the phenomenon is not necessarily menstruation and that brain function is not necessary to menstruate.

    Healey testified that a blood test on Sept. 29 revealed that McKitty had hormones in her blood, which are produced by the hypothalamus, a part of the brain.

    Scher argued that the presence of hormones, nine days after McKitty was declared dead, indicates that she was actually alive. Healey disagreed, stating that the presence of hormones in blood does not indicate that the hypothalamus is actively producing those hormones.

    Healey said the hospital gave McKitty the thyroid hormone L-thyroxine after she was declared dead, which can help to preserve organs, should a patient or their family consent to donating them.

    Healey said that L-thyroxine would not have been given to McKitty if she was alive as her blood tests indicated that she would not need it.

    Healey told the court that “the effect of this case has been troubling on our unit.”

    “(The nurses) have no idea what to do,” having never dealt with a patient presumed dead at such a length, he said.

    The courtroom on Wednesday was significantly larger than previous ones, to accommodate a large group of family and friends in support of McKitty.

    McKitty had overdosed on a combination of cocaine, cannabinoids, benzodiazepine and oxycodone.

    Healey will continue to testify Thursday, along with Dr. Andrew Baker, the chief of critical care at St. Michael’s Hospital who ran tests on McKitty after the Sept. 28 court injunction.

    Brampton woman on life support doesn’t have ‘capacity to breathe,’ doctor tells courtBrampton woman on life support doesn’t have ‘capacity to breathe,’ doctor tells court

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    Greater Toronto Area municipalities are putting in a prime order with Amazon for 50,000 well-paying jobs.

    The region’s formal bid to win the hotly contested competition for Seattle-based Amazon’s second headquarters will be submitted Thursday by Toronto Global, the arms-length group representing local municipalities.

    But Ed Clark, the former TD Bank president and CEO who serves as Premier Kathleen Wynne’s business adviser, says the province “is not offering any new financial incentives to Amazon, nor any incentives that are not available to others who seek to grow or locate such jobs here.”

    Read more:

    Toronto has big challenges landing new Amazon HQ, author says

    “As a businessman, I like this approach; successful firms want to be in jurisdictions that are inherently attractive, and that will remain so in the future,” Clark said at a Canadian Club speech at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel on Wednesday.

    “This is doubly true if you are locating a head office. Companies want jurisdictions that invest in educated workforces, have livable cities, and put out a welcome mat for the best talent to bring their energy and ideas from anywhere in the world.”

    But Clark, who was asked by Wynne to coordinate the province’s support for Ontario cities wanting to bid on the Amazon project, insisted Queen’s Park isn’t sitting on its hands.

    That’s why the government is investing in “talent” that will help the region, regardless of whether the firm comes.

    “No special deals. We are offering Amazon the best place in the world to do business,” he said.

    The Ontario government announced Wednesday it would boost “support for students in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines, including artificial intelligence, to continue to build a highly skilled workforce and support job creation and economic growth.”

    The hope is to increase the number of graduates in those disciplines by 25 per cent over the next five years, from 40,000 to 50,000 annually.

    As well, the province will spend $30 million to work with the Vector Institute, of which Clark is the chair, to increase the number of professional applied masters’ graduates in artificial intelligence to 1,000 a year within five years.

    That’s designed to help the Ontario municipalities, including the Toronto region, Ottawa, and Hamilton, vying for Amazon’s headquarters.

    Amazon has attracted bids from Boston, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Washington, and a slew of other cities for its second head office.

    Another Canadian city submitted its bid Wednesday as Halifax announced its pitch. But even the bid’s biggest proponent admits it’s a long shot.

    Mayor Mike Savage would not reveal specifics about the city’s submission for the company’s new headquarters, but said Halifax’s quality of life was emphasized. Savage said he’s aware Halifax does not meet all the requirements, but said that doesn’t mean the city is not a “serious competitor.”

    Clark stressed the political realities stateside may make it difficult to create jobs in Canada, instead of the U.S. when a final decision is announced next year.

    “We all recognize the political issues for Amazon in picking a location outside the U.S. borders. It’s a big obstacle and it’s no secret. We know that the ultimate decision may not be based on business metrics alone.

    “These days, politics south of the border is unpredictable,” he said.

    Indeed, U.S. President Donald Trump often attacks Amazon on Twitter and its founder Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post.

    “If that’s not a constraint, we’re hands-down the winner,” added Clark.

    “The American dream hasn’t died; it just lives here in Canada.”

    Amazon, the online shopping giant that already employs 380,000 people, is promising to bring the winning city up to 50,000 jobs, which pay an average annual salary of $100,000 (U.S.)

    “We expect to invest over $5 billion in construction and grow this second headquarters to . . . be a full equal to our current campus in Seattle,” the company said in September.

    “In addition to Amazon’s direct hiring and investment, construction and ongoing operation of Amazon HQ2 is expected to create tens of thousands of additional jobs and tens of billions of dollars in additional investment in the surrounding community.”

    On Tuesday, Toronto’s bid got a boost from another American tech powerhouse.

    Dan Doctoroff, the New York-based chief executive of Sidewalk Labs, the Google sister company that plans to transform the east downtown waterfront into a model clean tech community, hailed the city.

    “If Amazon sees what we see in Toronto, they should be coming here,” Doctoroff told the Star’s David Rider.

    Toronto Mayor John Tory has been a big backer of the regional bid.

    Tory has emphasized that Toronto, already the third-largest tech sector in North America, trailing only San Francisco and New York, is home to 11 universities and colleges offering more than 60 technology-related programs.

    The region’s cultural diversity is also seen a plus with the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area welcoming 100,000 immigrants a year and local residents speaking more than 150 different languages.

    Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid acknowledged that some other jurisdictions will get into a bidding war for Amazon’s headquarters, offering tax breaks, cash incentives and infrastructure improvements.

    “We’re not going to buy Amazon to come here. We don’t need to buy Amazon to come here, because we have the competitiveness and the best talent in North America today,” the minister said.

    With files from The Canadian Press

    Ontario to bid for Amazon HQ2 by investing in education, not offering incentivesOntario to bid for Amazon HQ2 by investing in education, not offering incentives

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