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- 10/26/17--13:08: _Irving Oil ordered ...
- 10/26/17--10:35: _U.S. immigration ag...
- 10/26/17--11:34: _Income gap persists...
- 10/26/17--13:06: _A push for pension ...
- 10/26/17--13:28: _‘Dig into that ener...
- 10/26/17--09:21: _Three Canadians tor...
- 10/25/17--18:40: _The Roof Over Your ...
- 10/26/17--08:59: _Top Trump official ...
- 10/26/17--12:19: _Ethics watchdog set...
- 10/26/17--14:52: _Newly opened Nation...
- 10/26/17--15:23: _A billion dollar bu...
- 10/26/17--18:54: _Astronaut Scott Kel...
- 10/26/17--15:27: _Court hears Toronto...
- 10/26/17--20:29: _Selma Blair, Rachel...
- 10/26/17--19:05: _Toronto woman who s...
- 10/26/17--14:38: _Georgetown family d...
- 10/26/17--15:19: _'Special password' ...
- 10/26/17--12:03: _False report of arm...
- 10/26/17--10:43: _Big tech firms’ riv...
- 10/26/17--15:53: _'Zombie law' in Tor...
- 10/26/17--15:23: A billion dollar budget approved for police services in Toronto
- 10/26/17--18:54: Astronaut Scott Kelly tells Toronto audience of space challenges
- 10/26/17--15:27: Court hears Toronto pastor extorted sex as part of exorcism: DiManno
- 10/26/17--10:43: Big tech firms’ rivals jump at chance to gain support in Washington
- 10/26/17--15:53: 'Zombie law' in Toronto would deter distracted walking: Teitel
SAINT JOHN, N.B.—Irving Oil has been ordered to pay $4 million after pleading guilty to 34 counts stemming from the investigation into the 2013 rail disaster in Lac-Mégantic, Que.
The charges under the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act result from a joint investigation by Transport Canada and the RCMP that was prompted by the deadly train derailment.
On July 6, 2013, a train carrying 7.7 million litres of crude oil sped toward the small Quebec town at 104 km/h before derailing, killing 47 people in the resulting fire and explosions.
“Today, we close another chapter in this tragic event,” Transportation Minister Marc Garneau wrote in a statement Thursday.
The federal Public Prosecution Service said Thursday that a provincial court judge in Saint John, N.B., ordered Irving Oil to pay fines totalling $400,320.
It will also pay nearly $3.6 million for the implementation of research programs in safety standards under the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act and its regulations.
The offences were committed over eight months, from November 2012 to July 2013, involving transportation of approximately 14,000 rail cars of crude oil for Irving Oil.
Following the train derailment in Lac-Mégantic, the investigation by Transport Canada and the RCMP revealed that Irving Oil had not complied with all applicable safety requirements by not classifying the crude oil being carried by trains as a dangerous good.
In addition, the shipping documents on board the trains were incorrect.
The statement also says Irving Oil did not adequately train its employees in the transportation of dangerous goods, an offence under the act.
Irving Oil issued its own statement, saying it believes strongly in the importance of safety and regulatory compliance, and that it takes the charges seriously.
“The misclassification of crude oil did not cause or contribute to the railway accident in any way,” the statement reads.
Irving Oil said it has undertaken a comprehensive review of its procedures relating to the transportation of dangerous goods and now has an enhanced training program for its employees.
“The company will remain vigilant in all of our operations, upholding our commitment to safety for employees, customers, and communities,” it wrote.
Garneau said rail safety remains his top priority.
“Transport Canada continues to closely monitor the safety of rail operations and the system, as well as the safe transportation of dangerous goods by all modes of transport across Canada,” he wrote.
Irving Oil ordered to pay $4 million after pleading guilty in Lac-Mégantic probe
A 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy has been detained by federal immigration authorities in Texas after she passed through a Border Patrol checkpoint on her way to a hospital to undergo emergency gall bladder surgery.
The girl, Rosamaria Hernandez, who was brought over the border illegally to live in Laredo, Texas, when she was 3 months old, was being transferred from a medical centre in Laredo to a hospital in Corpus Christi around 2 a.m. Tuesday when Border Patrol agents stopped the ambulance she was riding in, her family said. The agents allowed her to continue to Driscoll Children’s Hospital, the family said, but followed the ambulance the rest of the way there, then waited outside her room until she was released from the hospital.
By Wednesday evening, according to family members and advocates involved in her case, immigration agents had taken her to a facility in San Antonio where migrant children who arrive alone in the United States from Central America are usually held, even though her parents, who both lack legal status, live 240 kilometres away in Laredo.
Her placement there highlighted the unusual circumstances of her case: The federal government maintains detention centres for adult immigrants it plans to deport, facilities for families who arrive at the border together and shelters for children who come by themselves, known as unaccompanied minors. But it is rare, if not unheard-of, for a child already living in the United States to be arrested — particularly one with a serious medical condition.
Immigration agents have, however, detained some teenagers who are suspected of membership in gangs like MS-13, a gang rooted in Los Angeles and El Salvador that President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have repeatedly condemned. As a general matter, the Trump administration has hardened immigration enforcement across the country, lifting guidelines established under President Barack Obama that made it unlikely that any undocumented immigrants other than recent arrivals to the country and those with serious criminal records would be deported.
Between Trump’s inauguration and early September, the number of immigration arrests rose more than 40 per cent compared with the same period last year, according to data released by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Rosamaria’s cousin, Aurora Cantu, a U.S. citizen who was riding with her in the ambulance and accompanied her to the hospital, told Rosamaria’s mother and others working on the case that the agents had at first tried to persuade the family to agree to have the girl transferred to a Mexican hospital, pressing the family to sign a voluntary departure form for her. They declined to do so. The entire time Rosamaria was in surgery and then in recovery, several armed Border Patrol agents stood outside her hospital room, the family said.
Her mother, Felipa de la Cruz, 39, said in an interview that her family had moved to Texas from Nuevo Laredo, the city in Mexico just across the border from Laredo, when her daughter was still an infant, hoping to get better treatment for her cerebral palsy.
They had not been able to afford her therapies in Mexico, she said, but in Texas, Medicaid paid for her daughter’s treatment, which included home visits from therapists.
“I’m a mother. All I wanted was for her to get the surgery that she needed,” de la Cruz said. “It never crossed my mind that any of what is happening right now could happen. When you’re a mother, all you care about is your child.”
Rosamaria’s doctors have recommended that she be released to a relative because of her illness, said Alma Ruiz, a San Antonio-based lawyer who is part of a team representing the family. But the immigration agency has not yet consented to release her.
Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar who represents the Laredo area in Congress, called Wednesday for the girl to be released back to her family.
“I understand that CBP has a tremendous duty to protect our nation,” he said in a statement, referring to Customs and Border Protection, “but we should be devoting our resources and focus on bigger threats.”
A spokesman for the agency, which oversees the Border Patrol, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday night.
“The fact that they spent so much time and resources to follow this girl, to treat her like she was the highest-priority criminal that ever walked on this earth — the way they’re treating her is just beyond what a 10-year-old special needs child should be treated,” said Priscila Martinez, an immigration activist at the Workers Defense Action Fund, which is helping to plan rallies for Rosamaria in Laredo and Corpus Christi.
Rosamaria’s case is perhaps the most extreme example in recent memory of a dilemma that stalks unauthorized immigrants who live in the Rio Grande Valley, south of the Border Patrol checkpoints: Getting specialized medical care often requires going to doctors and hospitals farther north, but crossing the checkpoints could mean detention and deportation.
That, Martinez said, is why Rosamaria’s parents were absent from her side when she was rushed north to Corpus Christi, leaving her cousin, Cantu, to accompany her to the hospital.
U.S. immigration agents detain 10-year-old girl after stopping her on the way to emergency surgery
As the face of Canada grows more diverse, the income gap between residents who identify as visible minorities, Indigenous or recent immigrants and the rest of Canadians remains a yawning chasm, data from the 2016 Census shows.
The income gap for these groups barely budged between 2006 and 2016, narrowing by just two percentage points for Indigenous Canadians and recent immigrants and widening by one percentage point for visible minorities, according to census data released Wednesday.
Total income was 26 per cent lower for visible minorities than non-visible minorities and 25 per cent lower for Indigenous Canadians than non-Indigenous Canadians.
But recent immigrants — many of whom are also visible minorities — face the toughest economic challenge with total incomes that fall 37 per cent below total incomes for Canadians born here, the data shows.
It means for every dollar in the pocket of someone born in Canada, a recent immigrant has just 63 cents.
More than 22 per cent of Canadians — including 51.5 per cent of Torontonians — reported being from a visible minority community in 2016, up from 16.3 per cent nationally in 2006.
“The latest census data simply confirms the reality that racialized people, recent immigrants, and Indigenous people continue to face discrimination and that income inequality doesn’t just magically reverse itself,” said Sheila Block senior economist for the left-leaning Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
“That takes political leadership,” added Block who crunched the income gap from the latest census data on immigration, ethnocultural diversity and aboriginal peoples.
“As these populations increase and continue to lag behind, it becomes a bigger issue for everybody,” she said.
“We know this kind of inequality doesn’t only have a negative impact on the population that’s affected, but it has a negative impact on us overall as a society.”
Increases to income support programs such as social assistance, employment insurance and pensions are part of the solution, she said. But labour reform, including more access to unionization and a higher minimum wage are also key.
Nadira Begum, who has a master’s degree in social work from her native Bangladesh, juggles three part-time jobs and numerous volunteer positions in the non-profit sector but still hasn’t been able to land full-time work.
“I have been looking for a full-time job in my field for more than 10 years,” said the Regent Park mother of three. “I have the skills, the experience and the knowledge, but if they don’t hire me, how can I show them? It is a common story in our community.”
Begum’s part-time jobs have often involved substantially similar work as full-time employees, and yet she has been paid a lower wage. Friends with part-time jobs as grocery store clerks who were hired the same time as full-time clerks are paid less and enjoy fewer benefits, Begum added.
“We are not equally paid, even though we do the same work,” she said. “And we can’t complain because we can’t afford to lose our jobs.”
Deena Ladd of the Workers’ Action Centre says Ontario’s planned $15 minimum wage by 2019 will be a huge boost for visible minorities, recent immigrants and Indigenous workers, who are more likely than the rest of Canadians to be toiling for minimum wage.
But changes to the province’s proposed Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act are needed to ensure these workers, who like Begum are often stuck in temporary, part-time and contract positions, are paid the same as permanent and full-time staff, Ladd said.
Wording in the proposed minimum-wage legislation currently mandates equal pay for equal work if the job is “substantially the same,” Ladd said. But that allows employers to change one aspect of the job and still be allowed to pay temp, contract and part-time workers less.
Instead, the proposed legislation should be reworded to say these workers are entitled to equal pay if the job is “substantially similar” to work performed by a full-time employee, she said.
Another problem with the proposed law is the definition of seniority. Unlike all other provisions of the Employment Standards Act which measure seniority by the date an employee was hired, the equal pay amendments include a definition of seniority as “hours worked.” If this is not changed, workers from economically disadvantaged groups who are more likely to work part-time, will never achieve equal pay for equal work, Ladd said.
“The new legislation has the potential to address the kinds of inequities highlighted by the census,” she said. “But if we don’t strengthen the language so workers can use the equal-pay protections in their workplaces in a strong way, then it will be just words on paper.”
The legislation, which just passed second reading, is expected to become law later this year.
Ryerson University professor Myer Siemiatycki, who teaches immigration and settlement studies, says the census findings are a wake-up call and a reminder of why the census is important.
“These are worrying statistics,” he said. “They reflect the adverse living conditions of huge numbers of Canadians who fall into these three categories of population . . . It’s an alarm bell and we need to respond.”
Income gap persists for recent immigrants, visible minorities and Indigenous Canadians
We live in a time when our outrage daily bubbles and boils. And just as quickly we move on, taking aim at the next indignation.
Which makes the enduring disgust over the treatment of Sears workers in this country so remarkable. It has proved to be enduring.
Now, there are those seeking to surf that outrage into legislation to protect pensioners across the country.
Putting pensioners first when a company collapses is an idea that is gaining momentum and could be the legacy of the Sears fiasco, even if it is too late for the workers.
It would require the Liberal government to move on what is in reality a morality issue and is being couched as a matter of corporate social responsibility.
It’s also a key issue for the middle class this government champions.
There are about 16,000 retirees at Sears who are unsure what portion of their pension they will ever see, but there are another 1.3 million Canadians who are covered by defined benefit pensions from private employers (full disclosure, I am one of them).
The Bloc Quebecois has tabled a private member’s bill seeking amendments to existing legislation to protect pensioners. The NDP has served notice it will introduce its private member’s bill in the coming days.
The Conservatives appear ready to work with their NDP colleagues and former Industry Minister Tony Clement told the CBC that the current system doesn’t properly serve workers.
Needless to say, none of this will be worth anything without Liberal buy-in.
CARP, the nation’s largest seniors advocacy organization, held a high-profile lobby day on Parliament Hill Wednesday and met with at least 50 MPs, including about 20 Liberals.
Wanda Morris, who led the lobby day, also met with officials in the offices of Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains.
Independent expert voices have been raised saying the time is now to launch a national overhaul of the way pensions are managed in this country.
Right now, those on defined benefit pensions — a plan under which retirees receive a guaranteed pension based on salary and years of service — are unsecured creditors in the case of bankruptcy. They are in line behind secured lenders.
Sears paid out $9.2 million to executives to try to keep the company afloat, before walking away from its pension obligations.
There will be those who argue that those lucky enough to have the gold standard of pensions really need no government protection. Companies have moved away from such pensions, a proposed bill introduced by Morneau would make it easier for federally-controlled pensions to move away from them and millennials will never see them.
There will be those who argue that moving workers to the head of the line will risk investment in this country and creditors will be reluctant to help struggling companies if they are not first in line in case of insolvency.
But Sears may be a tipping point.
We lived through this when Nortel folded in 2009 and more than 20,000 of the company’s pensioners endured seven anxious years in the courts as $7.3 billion (U.S.) in the company’s liquidated assets were divvied up.
The court and professional fees over the life of the bankruptcy case cost about $2 billion (U.S.), reducing the pension payouts. Ultimately, pensioners, on average, got about 55 cents on the dollar and the money was finally distributed this year.
“There is such a thing as the notion of social justice,’’ Gilles LeVasseur, a law and business professor at the University of Ottawa, told me.
“There is a question of loyalty and reciprocity we need to address. These are honest, hard-working people.’’
He is calling for a newly-created supervisory body that will ensure pension funds are properly funded and managed with accountability measures, some teeth and consequences for companies which fall short.
Alternatively, there could be an amendment to existing legislation prohibiting companies from paying dividends if they cannot meet their pension requirements.
Canadians should be outraged, Morris says. These workers are people who put their lives into their work, are certainly not fat cats and put their heart and soul into making Sears better.
“And they got screwed,’’ she said.
Bains maintains the Liberals are working with Sears pensioners by offering them an array of government services to help them through a tough time. There is no indication the Liberals will do anything more.
Pensions and conflict-of-interest allegations have dogged this government for weeks. Here’s a chance for a good news initiative on pensions.
Tim Harper writes on national affairs. firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @nutgraf1
A push for pension protection a legacy of Sears injustice: Tim Harper
OTTAWA—It might well be Jagmeet Singh’s secret weapon: a seemingly bottomless well of positive energy that draws fans and followers like bees to a honeypot. Thing is, the new NDP leader doesn’t always remember to tap it.
Enter Singh’s other secret weapon: his younger brother, Gurratan.
“He’s always like, ‘Jagmeet, are you digging into that positivity?’ ” Singh said this week during an interview, Gurratan at his side, at NDP headquarters in Ottawa.
“ ‘Make sure you dig into that energy that makes you, you.’ ”
Gurratan Singh can speak truth to power, an important resource for someone who is gradually transitioning out of Ontario provincial politics and into the hard-knock world of Parliament Hill, where the elder Singh has his sights set on becoming Canada’s next prime minister.
In his first weeks on the job with the NDP, Singh has had his brother at his elbow — even though he’s not on the NDP’s payroll — at everything from scrums on Parliament Hill to the weekend Ottawa rally where he kicked off a national get-to-know-me tour last week.
He knows Gurratan — a lawyer who shares his older brother’s penchant for colourful turbans and custom-tailored suits — won’t hold back in assessments of how he’s doing.
“He will not hesitate to call me out if I don’t do well on something,” Singh said.
“If I give a speech and people are like ‘That was OK, that was OK’, I’ll be like ‘Gurratan, tell me the truth.’ And he’ll be like ‘It was horrible, man. You did a really bad job.’ ”
Staying focused on his natural positive energy is some of the best political advice he’s ever received, Singh added —advice that the party he now leads would do well to follow as it seeks to turn the page on the disappointments of the Tom Mulcair era in favour of a younger, more energized future.
There’s no question Singh brings to the NDP an entirely new, and decidedly younger, perspective, as well as that infectious energy, which is precisely what the party needs right now, said NDP national director Robert Fox.
“He is a different personality, has a different profile than Tom did and there are a lot of people who are interested to come and work with us ... under Jagmeet’s leadership to elect more New Democrats,” Fox said.
“There are a lot of seasoned veterans that are also excited about the prospects and that has nothing to do with Tom. We’ve been in a situation where ... we had a leader who we knew would not be the leader up to the next election.”
The party is also hoping Singh can help attract fundraising to help pay off the party’s $5.5-million debtload, and also bring with him the organizational prowess his team demonstrated during his successful leadership campaign.
“We very much look forward to ... raising more money to do some of the things we’ve been planning to do for some time, as well as some of the new, innovative ideas that Jagmeet brings to the table,” Fox said.
Of course, all that bright-side stuff can be a little blinding to certain political realities.
Gurratan comes in handy there, too.
“Sometimes, I might be too lighthearted or too optimistic where I am missing there’s something we realistically need to do right now,” he said. “Gurratan will point that out and say ‘Listen, OK, you can be optimistic, but we need to make sure we deal with this problem right now.’”
That candour is a comfort to the new NDP leader.
“It is having the support of someone (who’s) going to be real with me ... at the same time, having the comfort of someone I get along with, one of my best friends,” he said. “Maybe my best friend.”
“That’s cute,” Gurratan said, grabbing Jagmeet’s arm.
‘Dig into that energy that makes you, you’: Meet NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s brother and reality check
OTTAWA—Three Canadians who were tortured in Syria have received just over $31 million in federal compensation.
The Liberal government said in March it had settled long-standing lawsuits filed by Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati and Muayyed Nureddin over the federal role in their ordeals, though details of the settlement were not made public.
Recently released public accounts note the $31.25-million payment to three unidentified individuals and The Canadian Press has confirmed it refers to the settlement.
In October 2008, an inquiry led by former Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci found Canadian officials contributed to the torture of Almalki, El Maati and Nureddin by sharing information with foreign agencies.
Iacobucci concluded the men were abused in Syrian custody and, in the case of El Maati, in Egypt as well.
The former judge cited the RCMP, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and Foreign Affairs for mistakes in the cases.
All three men deny involvement in terrorism and none has ever been charged.
The office of Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said Thursday it could not discuss any monies paid to the individuals, but noted they had been seeking $100 million in compensation.
In March, Goodale and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland apologized to the men on behalf of the government “for any role Canadian officials may have played in relation to their detention and mistreatment abroad and any resulting harm.”
“We hope that the steps taken today will support them and their families in their efforts to begin a new and hopeful chapter in their lives.”
Three Canadians tortured in Syria receive $31-million settlement from Ottawa
It comes as no surprise to Anna Agha that the condo she rents is part of a neighbourhood with one of the highest percentages of residents putting too large a portion of their income toward housing costs in the city.
“It is quite expensive,” said the 31-year-old as she walked her baby in a stroller around Alton Towers Cir. — a condo-laden area in Scarborough where she and her husband moved six months ago to be close to his work.
“We are thinking of moving after the lease is up,” she said, adding that they chose the location because the older, more spacious condominiums on Alton Towers Cir. were a better option for her family than the newer ones they looked at downtown.
Shelter costs are taking up about 50 per cent of their household budget at the moment, she estimated on the spot.
Census data from 2016 released Wednesday show the small community contained by Alton Towers Cir., east of McCowan Rd., is one of the two places in the city where 60 per cent of households spend 30 per cent or more of their income on housing costs — the highest percentage in Toronto.
The other neighbourhood was at Woodbine Ave. and Hwy. 7 in Markham.
Statistics Canada uses 30 per cent of income spent on housing as a benchmark to determine whether households have an “affordability” problem. In Toronto in 2016, 33 per cent of households spent more than the benchmark on shelter, compared with 28 per cent in Ontario and 24 per cent in Canada.
That’s a slight increase from the 2011 and 2006 census numbers, both of which showed approximately 32 per cent of Toronto households overspent the benchmark for affordable housing.
University of Toronto geography professor Deb Cowen said a number of factors contribute to what she called “the current affordability crisis” in Toronto.
“While most people struggle to pay rent and keep shelter over their heads, housing has also become an incredibly lucrative market — a commodity,” she said.
Cowen said part of the reason for high housing costs lies in aggressive lending by large mortgage financiers. “But it is also true for a growing number of small-scale home or condo owners who buy housing in order to accumulate wealth,” she said.
Geordie Dent, who runs the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations, said his organization constantly gets calls from renters who are struggling to find affordable accommodation in the city.
“There's really two things that are happening: People are suffering and people are moving,” Dent said.
He’s familiar with cases of people moving out of Toronto to Hamilton, Windsor, and even other provinces in search of greater affordability.
“Not everyone wants to do that and not everyone will do that,” he said.
Those who choose to stay in Toronto may have to lower their housing standards, or dedicate more of their budget to housing rather than things like leisure, Dent said.
For some residents, spending a lot on housing is worth it.
Dominic Chung, 77, said the high cost of living on Alton Towers Cir. is worth the condo’s proximity to the grocery store, restaurants and his church.
“I love it here,” Chung said, who doesn’t drive anymore due to age.
Molly Tyson has lived in a co-operative townhome on Alton Towers Cir. for 17 years. She praised the community, and the governance structure that sees neighbours working together toward improvements to their homes.
Cowen warned that, as housing becomes more expensive, those who are in the most precarious positions are most likely to be negatively impacted.
“In a city like New York we see the highest rent burdens in areas facing rapid gentrification — areas where people with lower incomes are concentrated but which have experienced often dramatic valorization,” she said. “I imagine we will see similar patterns in the Toronto data too.”
The other Toronto pockets — called “tracts” in the census data — with the highest percentages of households spending more than 30 per cent of income are scattered throughout the city.
Of the 10 with the highest proportion, three of them are directly east of the University of Toronto, an area with many new, upscale condos. They’re also located in the Wallace Emerson, Niagara, Willowdale and Thorncliffe Park neighbourhoods.
The Roof Over Your Head: Residents of these GTA neighbourhoods struggle the most to pay for their homes
WASHINGTON—The Trump administration is demanding NAFTA concessions from Canada and Mexico but not offering “anything” in exchange, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Wednesday.
Ross’s remarkable public statement corroborates the complaints of Canadian and Mexican officials, who have accused the U.S. of taking an unusually and unreasonably hard line in the talks to renegotiate the North American free trade pact.
U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence said in August that the negotiation would be a “win-win-win” for all three countries, and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has repeated that this is what Canada is seeking. Ross, however, suggested the U.S. was pushing for something different.
“We’re trying to do a difficult thing. We’re asking two countries to give up some privileges that they have enjoyed for 22 years. And we’re not in a position to offer anything in return,” he said on CNBC. “So that’s a tough sell. And I don’t know that we’ll get every single thing we want. The question is, will we get enough to make it worthwhile.”
Freeland has criticized the U.S. this month, including in a CNN appearance on Sunday, for taking a “winner-take-all” approach to the talks. Her office repeated those words in response to Ross.
“Our government remains focused on achieving a win-win-win in these negotiations, a winner-take-all attitude won’t work,” Freeland spokesperson Adam Austen said in an email.
It is possible that Ross is bluffing or simply speaking for domestic political consumption. Trade experts, though, said his words accurately describe what is happening behind the scenes.
“They are not really negotiating. They’re saying, ‘Here’s our position, take it or leave it. And if you don’t like it, we’ll withdraw from the NAFTA,’” said Canadian trade lawyer Lawrence Herman, who predicted the negotiations would soon collapse because of the U.S. stance.
“It’s an outrageously aggressive and uncompromising position that the U.S. is taking in the negotiations. And it doesn’t augur well for a successful outcome,” Herman said.
U.S President Donald Trump used similar language to Ross in his own interview on Wednesday, saying on Fox Business Network that Canada and Mexico are having a hard time understanding that things would have to get worse for them.
“In order to have a resolution — because right now, Mexico and Canada have such a great deal — it’s so good that it’s very hard for them to get used to the fact that it can’t be that way anymore,” Trump told host Lou Dobbs.
As he has in the past, Trump said he thinks the only way to secure a good deal for the U.S. is to put pressure on the other two countries by initiating a termination. He said his negotiators “are going to have to get tougher.”
“I say, right now, it’s going to be very hard. And in my opinion, in order to make a fair deal with NAFTA, you have to terminate the deal and you have to see where you’re going to come,” Trump told Dobbs.
Trump said the same thing in a private meeting with Republican senators on Tuesday, the publication Inside U.S. Trade reported.
“The president said there was no way to get the changes we need unless we get out, then have six months to negotiate,” said an anonymous pro-NAFTA senator. When senators expressed concerns, Inside U.S. Trade reported, Trump said, “Trust me, we’re working on this.”
Initiating a termination would carry risks of its own: Mexico has promised to walk away from the negotiating table if Trump announces he is starting the six-month notice period.
Canada has not taken a public position on what it would do in that case. Freeland, speaking more generally, said earlier this month that Canada would like to stay at the table.
Inside U.S. Trade reported that some Republican senators are concerned that even initiating the termination process could damage the economy. Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts expressed fear over the possible impact of the uncertainty on the agricultural industry.
“That may be an option that the president feels he should exercise in order to get Mexico to the table to achieve what he wants to achieve, which is the trade imbalance — I understand that — but I think we can do it in different ways without sending shock waves all throughout agriculture. And then to restitch that and put it all back together it’s like Humpty Dumpty. You push Mr. Humpty Dumpty trade off the wall and it’s very hard to put him back together,” Roberts told Inside U.S. Trade.
It is not clear whether Trump could actually terminate the deal on his own or whether he would require congressional approval.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a business group that usually favours Republicans, has ramped up its pro-NAFTA lobbying this week, swamping Capitol Hill with industry representatives to plead for the preservation of the deal. And the major automotive companies have launched a pro-NAFTA pressure campaign of their own. The slogan for their “Driving American Jobs” effort, “We’re winning with NAFTA,” is a nod to Trump’s campaign promise to get America to “win again.”
“We need you to tell your elected officials that you don’t change the game in the middle of a comeback. We’re winning with NAFTA,” they said on their website.
The fifth round of negotiations is scheduled for Mexico City next month.
Top Trump official says U.S. isn’t offering ‘anything’ to Canada in exchange for NAFTA demands
OTTAWA—Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson says she intends to look into whether Finance Minister Bill Morneau was in a conflict of interest in introducing a pension reform bill, according to a letter she has sent the NDP.
In a confidential letter to NDP ethics critic Nathan Cullen that the Star has seen, and the NDP is releasing this afternoon, Dawson advises Cullen she intends to look into the concerns he raised.
Cullen wrote to Dawson to complain that Morneau continued to hold shares in Morneau Shepell, a company which stood to profit Bill C27 which would create “target” benefit plans in federal jurisdictions, and that this put the finance minister in a conflict of interest as he introduced the legislation.
The NDP said that Morneau Shepell stock jumped in the week after C27 was tabled last October, although it later dropped back. The bill has not been debated in the House since.
“While your October 16, 2017 letter does not identify the provision you allege to have been contravened, as required by the Conflict of Interest Act, your letter leaves me with concerns in relation to Mr. Morneau’s involvement with Bill C-27,” Dawson wrote.
“Consequently, I will follow up with Mr. Morneau and will inform you of the outcome in due course.”
The news comes as Morneau announced he will donate to charity all profits earned on the one million Morneau Shepell shares he has held since being elected in 2015.
The move comes on top of last week’s decision to put all his assets in a blind trust, and sell his and his family’s Morneau Shepell shares.
A rough estimate of the profit made on Morneau’s shares in his former family company is about $5 million based on a roughly $5 rise in the share value since November 2015.
Morneau made the surprise announcement to the Commons, saying he told Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson Thursday when he met her at his office.
But the opposition continues to hammer him, with Conservatives demanding he disclose all other publicly traded securities that the finance minister may have in an assortment of numbered companies or any family trusts.
Morneau said the opposition continues “to obsess” about his personal finances but he wants to show Canadians his only goal is to get on with the work the Liberal government is doing on behalf of Canadian families.
“This is the way we get confidence from Canadians to go forward,” said Morneau.
He said he has always followed the recommendations of Dawson who looked at all his assets at “a very, very granular level” and has never been in a conflict of interest in the past two years.
He said the measures he is taking now to go “above and beyond” Dawson’s advice will ensure he remains conflict-free for the years to come.
When Morneau took office, Dawson told Morneau to set up an ethics screen that would require his chief of staff to prevent him from participating in any decisions that may directly or indirectly affect the interests of Morneau Shepell.
She advised him the law did not require him to put his shares into a blind trust because they were not directly controlled by him- they are held by two corporations he set up. She also said a blind trust would be useless in his case because Morneau would nevertheless know what shares or interests he had. Dawson’s office says the conflict screen was the best measure to prevent any violations.
His vow on Thursday was not enough for either the Conservatives or the NDP.
They slammed the ethics screen as ineffective.
Conservative MP Gerard Deltell said Morneau showed he would “only act when he’s caught with his hands in the cookie jar.”
NDP ethics critic Nathan Cullen said “maybe on Bay Street” the way out of trouble is to “cut a cheque,” but he said Morneau’s move is “an admission of guilt by no other means.”
Ethics watchdog set to look into potential conflict of interest involving Bill Morneau
OTTAWA—The newly opened National Holocaust Monument will close for winter to avoid any damage that could be caused by the need to clear snow.
But the fact so much time and expense went into the soaring concrete structure just west of Parliament Hill, only to end up being closed for half the year, is raising questions about why the Liberal government can’t find a way to keep it open.
The monument was inaugurated September, nearly a decade after the idea of creating it was first raised in the House of Commons.
The National Capital Commission (NCC) said it will close the monument in late fall, depending on when snow arrives, reopening it early in the spring.
“As is for most of NCC monuments, the National Holocaust Monument will be closed during winter as snow-clearing operations can damage the monument,” Cedric Pelletier said in an email.
The monument was initially designed to include a roof and a snow melting system, but both were removed to save money after consultations with the design team, Canadian Heritage and the National Holocaust Memorial Development Council, Pelletier said.
The council did not return a request for comment Thursday. They helped raise roughly half of the $9-million budget for the project, with the rest coming from the federal government.
Conservative MP Peter Kent accused the government of trying to save money by keeping the site closed.
“The death camps operated all year round,” he pointed out to Heritage Minister Melanie Joly during question period. “Why shouldn’t Canada’s commemoration?”
Joly suggested the Conservatives were the ones initially responsible for the issue.
“I’m surprised to hear these concerns coming from the Opposition as these conversations were initiated under their watch,” Joly said, but she said it was the NCC ultimately responsible.
Conservative Sen. Linda Frum accused the government of benign neglect of the project overall, pointing to the “bungling” of the dedication plaque, which originally did not mention the Jewish people in its description of the atrocities carried out by Nazis during the Second World War.
The plaque is now being rewritten after an outcry.
Frum said she doesn’t want to politicize the monument, but she described the oversights to date as hurtful. “Their hearts are not fully into this monument and what it’s there to do.”
The monument’s design is called “Landscape of Loss, Memory and Survival.” The triangles form a six-pointed Star of David when seen from above. As visitors walk through, each triangle provides a space for a particular theme of commemoration, including an interior room containing a flame of remembrance.
The flame will be turned off in the winter, though the monument itself will continue to be illuminated, Pelletier said.
“While we understand that there may be some concerns about the use of heavy snow-removal equipment on the site, surely there are ways to undertake snow removal and ensure access to this important historical and educational exhibit year-round,” said Shimon Koffler Fogel, chief executive officer of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.
Frum said she’d visited the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz in the winter months. To experience it in the cold brought home the horrid conditions that victims of the Holocaust faced, she said.
“The potential for that impact in our monument here in Ottawa is the same. It’s a very moving emotional experience to be inside that monument and its starkness, but to do that while its also extremely cold out, it potentially could be part of the experience,” Frum said.
“I just don’t know why you would go to the trouble of building an $8 to $10-million monument and then close it off to the public for half the year. It doesn’t make sense to me.”
Newly opened National Holocaust Monument to close in winter to avoid damage
Toronto’s police board has approved an operating budget request of $1.005 billion for 2018, keeping a lid on its growth for the second year in a row.
For years, the police budget grew at a rate double that of inflation, passing the billion-dollar mark in 2016, up 28 per cent from a decade earlier. That helped drive up city spending, and in recent years triggered fights with council as it tried to contain the ballooning cost of emergency services.
Council has set a 0 per cent budget increase target in 2018 for city departments and agencies.
The Toronto Police Service initially forecast it would need an additional $37.6 million, or a 3.7 per cent increase over the 2017 budget to cover the 2018 salary and benefit settlement.
However, the service was able to offset the salary impact with the savings achieved by a hiring moratorium, which shaved $24.5 million from the 2018 budget, and other reductions and bridging strategies, “that may pose a pressure on the 2019 budget,” a police service budget document warned.
In 2016, a task force formed to modernize the police service recommended a three-year hiring moratorium to decrease the number of officers over time, so that by 2020 there will be 4,750 uniform officers compared to 5,615 in 2010.
In addition, the service has not been filling vacant civilian positions.
While the service will achieve the city’s 0 per cent target this year, it will be difficult to achieve a flat line budget in future years, police service CAO Tony Veneziano said Thursday.
For example, at some point, the civilian moratorium has to be lifted, as investments will need to be made to implement the task force’s recommendations, “to decrease the risk of failure,” Veneziano said.
The budget dedicates 88 cents of every dollar to a salary and benefits package.
A billion dollar budget approved for police services in Toronto
What attracted astronaut Scott Kelly to spend a year in space and then write a book about it was the challenge.
It was a mission he accomplished.
On the International Space Station for 340 days beginning in March 2015, he had almost constant headaches from bad air, got frustrated with management and the toilet broke down often.
A crew mate irked him, another he didn’t meet before he got there. Two ships with critical supplies had failures on launch and didn’t make it to space. And his drinking water was made up from recycled urine and sweat, part of the space station’s closed loop system.
Kelly, now retired from NASA and embarking on a promotional tour for his recently released memoir Endurance, sat down with Canadian astronaut Dave Williams at Ontario Science Centre on Thursday in a sold out event to share tales from space, including memories of his first launch to space in 1999.
“Man, this is a really stupid thing to be doing,” Kelly said he thought. “It’s risky.”
In the talk and in his book, Kelly described his record-setting experiences in unprecedented detail. He wrote that life off Earth can be wonderful, but it is hard and dangerous. The space station was nearly hit by space junk when he was aboard. A crew mate once came untethered on a spacewalk and nearly floated away into space. Both events would have been catastrophic.
When Kelly and Williams flew together on space shuttle Endeavour in 2007, the ship was damaged by foam on launch. Four years earlier, similar damage doomed the space shuttle Columbia on entry, killing seven astronauts.
An astronaut communicating so candidly of the challenge and danger is unusual, he said.
“I think people can relate more to stories that are like their lives where everything is not always perfect.”
A trained U.S. navy test pilot inspired by Tom Wolfe’s book The Right Stuff, Kelly became an astronaut in 1996, training alongside newly-named Canadian Gov.-Gen. Julie Payette. He flew two shuttle missions and a 159-day space station mission.
After that, Kelly said he wasn’t interested in a one-year mission, but later wanted the challenge and pushed to get the job.
“Doing something twice as long (as my 159-day mission) seemed more challenging,” he said. “I knew what I was getting into. I put a lot of thought into how I was going to pace myself and get through with my sanity intact.”
The main focus of the mission was science. He studied his physical changes on a long space stay in weightlessness. He spent one third of his time on 400 experiments, three quarters of that on medical studies. That included ultrasounds as well as collecting blood, saliva, urine and fecal samples.
With an identical twin brother on the ground for comparison studies, both were test subjects. Only Russian cosmonauts have stayed in space that long, so the data was considered important for international research teams, he wrote in Endurance.
Life on the station is a “marathon over months, and every day (there is) a sprint,” he said.
When not working on science, he worked on space station maintenance, did three spacewalks and conducted media events. His personal time included communication with family, looking at planet Earth and watching Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad or Fifty Shades of Grey.
He missed new and different people other than the five he was with. He also missed weather.
The worst moment in space was when he was mistakenly told his daughter on the ground was having an emergency.
You can’t go home for personal circumstances when in space. He was there in 2011 when his sister-in-law Gabrielle Giffords, then a U.S. congresswoman, was shot in the head at a political event.
Landing aboard a Russian space capsule in March 2016, which falls to earth under a parachute and lands on hard ground, was “like going (over) Niagara Falls in a barrel but you are on fire.”
Kelly said he has missed living in space.
“I miss the work and how exacting and precise you have to be,” he said. “And I miss the people ... When we are in space you miss Earth and when you are on Earth, you miss space.”
He would go back to space with an American commercial company rocket in a heartbeat, including on a long mission to the Moon or Mars.
Kelly said the challenge of a mission to another planet is not technology, but having politicians who are “science minded, believe in science and are data and logic driven.”
“Getting to Mars is not about the rocket science, it is about the political science,” he said.
But before any interplanetary mission, Kelly said he is rooting for the Houston Astros to win the World Series. He will watch Game 3 in Houston on Friday.
Astronaut Scott Kelly tells Toronto audience of space challengesAstronaut Scott Kelly tells Toronto audience of space challenges
Warning: This article includes graphic details.
Bishop Wayne Jones was a righteous pastor at the Mt. Ararat Spiritual Baptist Church.
Or he was a sleazy, voodoo-hoodoo sexual predator.
Could be, he was both.
Four women, former parishioners, claim Jones extorted sex as either purifying ritual, to purge them of evil spirits, as a rite of exorcism intrinsic to their Trinidadian-based charismatic faith, or, in one case, as a blunt weapon — a threat — to coerce sex, otherwise he’d rat her out to authorities as an illegal immigrant living in Toronto.
Three of those complainants have taken the stand this week at Jones’ trial on charges of sexual assault, administering noxious substances and theft. They are all “historical witnesses,” meaning their allegations of incidents occurred ages ago — between 1986 and 1996 — and they came forward only after the Scarborough pastor was charged in 2014 with sexually assaulting another woman, convincing her to give him money and property during “spiritual guidance” sessions, which included the aforementioned exorcisms over a two-year period, 2011 to 2013.
Woven throughout the testimony is a narrative of bizarre worship that incorporated mostly naked spiritual cleansing baths in a tub in the church basement bathroom, machete-wielding, grave ashes clandestinely scooped from open cemetery plots around the city, something called “The Throne of Grace,” bits of Obeah (a form of sorcery practiced in the Caribbean) and Orisha (a syncretic religion originally hailing from West Africa), a steering wheel located in the body of the church, turned by a deaconess or “Captress,” mystic representations chalked onto a sheet, weeklong fasting periods and — this wasn’t actually part of the accepted dogma, merely the alleged means to an end — Kool-Aid laced with a stupefying drug.
And before anybody rolls their eyes at poor, ill-educated, gullible women, keep in mind that the great monolithic religions all cleave to elements of mysticism in their orthodoxy. Catholic Church doctrine, as but one example, holds crucially to the central tenet of transubstantiation: the conversion of the Eucharist into the body and blood of Christ.
“X” — none of the complainants can be identified — told court Thursday about the Kool-Aid episode, recounting how Jones had invited her to his home one evening to discuss her immigration dilemma. He handed her a glass with a cherry tasting substance. “I started feeling strange. I said, what did you put in my drink?”
Jones, “X” told the judge-only trial, then clamped his palm over her mouth. “That was the last thing I knew. The next thing I remember was somebody calling my name, saying it’s seven o’clock in the morning and I had to go home.
“I said, it can’t be 7 a.m. I just got here.”
She was wearing only underpants, she told court.
“I couldn’t understand what had happened.”
But she left without making a scene, worried more about her two young sons who’d been alone overnight.
It was only later, when “X” became increasingly aggressive about the “immigration stuff” — Jones claiming he was working on her case, until she found all the forms she’d filled stuffed into a cabinet — that the pastor grew hostile towards her, she said. By that point, “X” had already loaned Jones $400 on two separate occasions (the second time he said he was going to the U.S. to purchase ritual unguents unavailable here) and $1,200 to repair his car. None of that money was ever paid back, she said.
Annoyed with her nagging, “X” told court Jones announced: “That’s why I f----- you and you can do nothing about it.”
Crown attorney Cara Sweeny asked the witness, who’s now 64, what she took that to mean. “Well, it had to be sex.”
Shortly thereafter, said “X,” Jones’ sister began putting it around the congregation that she was “into Obeah, that voodoo stuff,” which damaged her reputation.
The witness also recalled an earlier incident which took place in the church basement, also orchestrated by “Shepherd Wayne,” shortly before she was made a deaconess, despite the fact she didn’t think herself qualified for the position.
“He lit a candle. Then he said, take your clothes off. I did. He said I was going to get a spiritual rebirth. He banded my eyes.” Covered them. “Told me to lie down. Next thing I know he was on top of me, naked as when he was born. He was trying to put his penis in my vagina. I was fighting him but he was holding my hands by the wrists.
“I pulled my band off. I saw he had an erection.
“He said, stop fighting me. The spirit is in me and I want to have sex with you. I said, I don’t want to have sex with you. Take me home.”
The alleged assault ceased then, X said.
Jones, 57, has pleaded not guilty to all the charges and none have been proven in court.
Thursday’s proceedings began with the continuing cross-examination of the previous witness, a complainant who alleged that Jones visited her rooming house — sometime between 1993 and 1996 — and convinced her to have sex as the only way to expunge evil spirits which had been haunting her. They lay on the bed together.
“He fondled my breast, I felt his big erection behind my buttocks,” she’d told Justice Suhail Akhtar.
Defence lawyer Randall Barrs argued that the sexual contact had been consensual and that she “craved” Jones. “I suggest that if it happened, you wanted it to happen.”
The witness acknowledged an attraction but that their one and only sexual episode had been initiated by Jones — her bishop — to alleviate her distressed soul. “My body was craving for him, yes. The craving made me want to do it again with him. But I tell myself — no.”
While this woman never brought a sexual assault complaint against Jones at the time, she did sue him in small claims court to recover $1,000 he’d borrowed, and won. “I was scared, knowing what he could do to me.” The inference that he would cast evil spells upon her. “He’s a spiritual man. They could do stuff for good and they could do stuff for evil. He’s capable of doing evil stuff. But I took the courage and the strength to do what I did.”
The first witness against Jones, “Y” — sister of “X” — told court she’d been arm-twisted into giving the pastor a key to her home, which he used over an 18-month period to wrest sex whenever he wanted it.
“He said he’d make me walk the streets like a crazy woman and he would destroy my kids,” she testified, adding that he’d once sliced her breast with a razor.
She further claimed Jones wanted her to have his baby. “I said, are you crazy? This is not a love affair. It was insane for him to ask me, as my pastor, to do that.”
The woman believed Jones doused himself in oils as a hexing aphrodisiac. “You could smell it on him. And you can’t resist.
Barrs: “You’re telling me, in the year 2017, that he was doing some kind of voodoo on himself that made him irresistible?”
Witness: “I felt so dirty and disgusting. He took everything from me because he knew that I was weak. I was born in rubble and this is what he did to me.”
The trial continues.
Rosie DiManno usually appears Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
Court hears Toronto pastor extorted sex as part of exorcism: DiManno
LOS ANGELES—Actresses Selma Blair and Rachel McAdams have added their names to the growing list of women who have come forward to allege that writer and director James Toback sexually harassed or assaulted them following a report Sunday in The Los Angeles Times detailing the accounts of 38 accusers.
Since Sunday, the number of accusers has ballooned to over 200 alleging inappropriate encounters with Toback, an Oscar-nominee for his Bugsy screenplay. Speaking to Vanity Fair in an article published Thursday, Blair and McAdams describe encounters similar to those detailed in the L.A. Times report — many of which assert that Toback, now 72, would talk up his accomplishments and promise stardom, often referencing his friendship with Robert Downey Jr., before masturbating or simulating sex acts on the women.
Blair had already filmed Cruel Intentions when her representative arranged for her to meet Toback for a possible role in his film Harvard Man. The meeting was set at a hotel restaurant, but Blair said when she arrived the hostess said that Toback wanted her to meet him in his room.
There, she described a long meeting in which Toback asked her to perform a monologue naked, propositioned her for sex, and said he would not let her leave until he “had release.” Blair said he then simulated sexual intercourse on her leg.
“I felt disgust and shame, and like nobody would ever think of me as being clean again after being this close to the devil,” Blair said. “His energy was so sinister.”
Afterward, Toback implied that if she told anyone, he could have her killed.
“I didn’t want to speak up because, it sounds crazy but, even until now, I have been scared for my life,” Blair said.
McAdams, an Oscar nominee for her supporting role in Spotlight, also met Toback to audition for Harvard Man. She was 21 and just starting out in the business. After her audition he told her he wanted to workshop with her. They met that night in his hotel room where, she said, the conversation quickly turned sexual.
“He said, ‘You know, I just have to tell you. I have masturbated countless times today thinking about you since we met at your audition,’ ” McAdams said.
He later asked if she would show him her pubic hair. McAdams said she eventually excused herself and left.
“I was very lucky that I left and he didn’t actually physically assault me in any way,” she said, adding that she has felt shame ever since that she didn’t leave earlier. When she told her agent about the encounter the next day, she said the agent said Toback had done this to another one of her actress clients.
The accounts come as sexual harassment in the workplace, and, specifically Hollywood, has been under increased scrutiny after dozens of women accused movie mogul Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment and assault going back decades.
Blair said in the case of Toback she was emboldened by the “brave women” who spoke out in the Times and the rage she felt when Toback dismissed the accounts. Toback denied the allegations to the paper, and declined to comment on the new allegations to Vanity Fair. He has not responded to requests for comment from The Associated Press.
She also said she hoped that “someone bigger” than her would “call him out.”
Weinstein accusers, who now total over 50, have ranged from assistants to aspiring actresses to some of the industry’s most famous, including Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie. Filmmaker Ava DuVernay tweeted that Blair and the others are “big enough.”
“You’ve helped someone out there. You have,” DuVernay wrote to Blair.
Like Weinstein, reports of Toback’s alleged behaviour toward women have been around for decades. Spy magazine wrote about him in 1989, and the now-defunct website Gawker also published accounts from women in New York who had had run-ins with Toback on the street. Julianne Moore said on Twitter Tuesday that Toback approached her on the street in New York in the 80s, asking her to come to his apartment to audition.
But exactly what might happen to Toback is still a question. As Blair pointed out, unlike Weinstein and Amazon executive Roy Price, Toback is not an employee of a company from which he can be fired. He is also not currently a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
“Toback was an Academy member but stopped renewing his annual membership nearly a decade ago. He is no longer a member of the Academy,” a film academy spokesperson said Thursday.
He does, however, currently has a completed film, The Private Life of a Modern Woman, starring Sienna Miller and Alec Baldwin that debuted at the Venice Film Festival earlier this year. It does not yet have a distributor.
Some see a silver lining in the dominoes falling like this.
“For years, many in power tried to divide & conquer women in order to dominate, control, & victimize them,” said actress Jessica Chastain on Twitter on Thursday with a link to the Vanity Fair article. “The inexcusable behaviour stops now.”
Selma Blair, Rachel McAdams share James Toback harassment stories in Vanity Fair
A Canadian who survived the Second World War nuclear bomb attack on Hiroshima will accept the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).
Setsuko Thurlow, 85, was 13 years old and living in Hiroshima when the U.S. dropped the first of two nuclear weapons on Japan.
Thurlow, who married a Canadian and moved to Toronto in the 1950s, will accept the awards with the executive director of ICAN, Beatrice Fihn, in Oslo, Norway in December.
ICAN says Thurlow has been a leading figure in its movement since its launch in 2007.
ICAN says she played a key role in efforts at the United Nations to adapt a landmark treaty outlawing nuclear weapons.
Thurlow has campaigned against nuclear weapons for her entire life and said in a release on Thursday that she is “deeply humbled” to be invited to the Nobel Prize ceremony.
“It has been such a privilege to work with so many passionate and inspirational ICAN campaigners around the world over the past decade. The Nobel Peace Prize is a powerful tool that we can now use to advance our cause,” she said.
Nobel said earlier this year that it was recognizing ICAN for its work in drawing attention to the “catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its groundbreaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons.”
Toronto woman who survived Hiroshima nuclear bombing to accept Nobel Peace Prize
Georgetown family physician Dr. Nigel Phipps has admitted to showing naked pictures of himself — selfies, to be specific — to more than a dozen patients.
“I thought they would think what I thought . . . I thought it was humorous, innocuous,” the 57-year-old doctor testified in his own defence at his discipline hearing Thursday at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO), about how he wanted to share with patients what he thought was a “funny” story of a stranger accidentally seeing one of the naked selfies several years ago.
“Through counselling, I realize people don’t think what you think.”
Indeed, a number of complainants testified Thursday, as well as at the beginning of the hearing in July, that they felt embarrassed, violated, and confused when their doctor showed them the photos in the examination room. “A strong yuck factor,” as one patient put it in an agreed statement of facts filed by the college Thursday.
Phipps admits to showing four photos of himself in various stages of undress to several patients and staff, and that this constitutes the college charge of disgraceful, dishonourable or unprofessional conduct. He denies the college allegation that his conduct amounts to sexual abuse of patients.
The photos are as follows: one where Phipps is naked with his penis visible, one of Phipps’ naked buttocks, one where he’s naked from the groin up, but where the genitals are not visible, and a fourth showing him naked with a towel over his arm. The first three have been filed as exhibits at the discipline hearing, while Phipps admits to deleting the fourth from his cellphone.
His lawyer, Jenny Stephenson, walked Phipps through the photo-sharing incidents Thursday, briefly displaying them to the five-member discipline panel, careful not to give a glimpse to the audience.
Phipps said one of the photos was taken while he was on a golfing trip with friends in Arizona in 2012, and meant for his wife. He recounted how one of his friends was trying to show a woman at the next table at the restaurant a photo on Phipps’ phone, but that the two inadvertently saw the naked picture instead. Everyone thought it was funny, he said.
Flash forward to 2014, when Phipps began telling patients — mostly those whom he had known for many years — as well as a few staff members this story, and showed them one or more naked selfies. Not many of them found it funny, he would later realize.
“I couldn’t believe I had actually done this and didn’t think about the extreme inappropriateness of all this,” Phipps testified of the moment he realized the repercussions of his actions, when he learned the CPSO was investigating him. “I now know that that story is not very funny and completely inappropriate.”
Phipps said he’s “devastated” about the impact the showing of the photos has had on his patients, and that he co-operated with the college probe. “I didn’t mean to hurt them in any way, shape or form . . . I was just so oblivious.”
He maintained that he was “positive” that he did not have an erection while showing photos to one patient, contrary to what the woman testified. He also said the four photos are the only ones he showed to patients and staff, despite several complainants testifying that they saw different pictures.
One patient was adamant she saw a different photo of his genitals. “The penis I recall seeing was in a downward position as well, but slightly more engorged,” she testified in July.
Another patient, known as Patient K due to a publication ban on patients’ identities, said Thursday that in the photo she saw, Phipps looked more fit and his pubic hair area was groomed.
Patient K was one of three new complainants who came forward to the college after reading media reports, including in the Star, of the first half of Phipp’ discipline hearing in the summer. The remainder of the hearing had been postponed until October because of a medical condition — revealed Thursday to be throat cancer — that made it difficult for Phipps to testify.
Under cross-examination by Stephenson, Phipps’ lawyer, Patient K was questioned on whether it’s possible she confused some of the details of the photo she saw. Patient K stood her ground.
“That is basically etched in my mind for the rest of my life,” she said.
When Stephenson began to say, “It was three years ago,” Patient K replied:
“In three years I still know what my doctor looks like naked, and that’s not something I should ever have to know.”
Georgetown family doctor admits showing patients naked selfies was 'completely inappropriate'
When computers in the McGuinty premier’s office started malfunctioning early in 2013, the government’s IT staff quickly suspected a special password as the culprit, a retired civil servant said Thursday.
“That was one of the first things we thought of,” Tom Stenson, then the manager of IT support for the premier’s office and cabinet office, told the criminal trial of two key McGuinty aides.
The trial has heard the password was requested by then-chief of staff David Livingston to clear hard drives of personal information before Premier Kathleen Wynne took over from McGuinty in February 2013.
Livingston and deputy chief Laura Miller are charged with breach of trust, mischief in relation to data and misuse of a computer system in the alleged wiping of hard drives during the political transition period.
At the time, the McGuinty government had been under pressure to reveal documents related to the controversial closing of natural gas-fired power plants in Oakville and Mississauga before the 2011 election.
Livingston and Miller have pleaded not guilty.
After some debate among senior bureaucrats worried that it could be used improperly, the special password was given to premier’s office administrative assistant, Wendy Wai.
It allowed access to “80 or 90 computers,” Stenson told Crown attorney Ian Bell, raising concerns about the risks that computer files could be altered.
“This is very unusual . . . to grant such administrative rights on such a scope,” Stenson added, noting it was the first time in his 27-year civil service career he’d heard of such a step.
The computer help desk started getting calls that desktops would not boot up properly.
“We started to see a pattern,” said Stenson. “It seemed to be software-related.”
Later, IT staff were tasked by a senior cabinet office bureaucrat to preserve desktops from the McGuinty premier’s office in a “secure location,” a step Stenson described as “a little bit unusual.”
Under cross-examination by Miller lawyer Scott Hutchison, Stenson said the troubles that premier’s office staff experienced logging in to their computers were resolved.
He acknowledged that IT staff for the Liberal caucus of MPPs at Queen’s Park would sometimes attend the premier’s office to help staff using the Citrix program to access Liberal party servers.
The Crown contends that Miller’s spouse Peter Faist, a private IT consultant, used the special password to install White Canyon software to delete files on a number of premier’s office computers.
Faist, who is not charged, is slated to testify Friday.
McGuinty was not under investigation and co-operated with police.
'Special password' gave McGuinty's chief of staff sweeping administrative rights, trial hears
A false alarm about an armed hostage-taker inside a pot dispensary shut down King St. W. for almost three hours Thursday, causing major traffic chaos during the afternoon commute.
Toronto police received one call about a person entering the business with a firearm — and possibly a hostage — at 1 p.m., Const. Allyson Douglas-Cook said.
When the Emergency Task Force arrived, its members surrounded 365 Dispensary and the Underground Garage at the southwest corner of King and Blue Jays Way.
Curious onlookers milled nearby as officers tried to make contact with anyone in the store, without success. The building was found to be empty about three hours later.
Rob Reid of the Toronto Police Service said investigators aren’t sure if there really was a gun, if anyone was taken hostage, if people went in and out or even if people were there at all.
“There’s a lot of missing pieces here,” said Reid of the Toronto Police Service.
Nathan Sing, 19, lives next door and said a negotiator was repeatedly shouting, “Everybody inside, come through the front door; you will not get hurt.”
At one point, there were about 30 to 40 officers surrounding the building, he said.
“We really didn’t have a lot of idea what we were going into and that’s why the Emergency Task Force was called in this situation,” Douglas-Cook said. “Fortunately, they were able to go in and determine that there was no one in the establishment, and everyone is safe for now.”
King St. was closed from Peter St. to Spadina Ave. during the police investigation, forcing TTC streetcars 501 Queen, 504 King and 514 Cherry to turn back.
Rhys Jenkins, who owns the Peacok bar next door to the dispensary, was downstairs working when he starting receiving messages from concerned friends.
He saw police at the stairs, but didn’t want to startle them, so he called 911 and told them he was downstairs, Jenkins said. The dispatchers told him to come up hands up and police escorted him next door.
“It was pretty terrifying actually. It was a little surreal. But once I knew I was in good hands and they took me next door, it was OK,” he said as police cleared the area.
Sandy Mack, who was having lunch just down the street at Barhop when police arrived on scene, said she and others thought first thought police were raiding the dispensary.
“People started yelling ‘freedom, freedom,’ ” she said.
She knew it was more serious than that when eight to 10 ETF officers arrived.
Douglas-Cook said the call may have been a prank, and, if so, it wasn’t funny. Officers still have to treat such episodes as legitimate calls, deploying police and paramedics that may have been needed elsewhere, she added.
Investigators are now trying to find the person who placed the call.
“It’s unfortunate that someone can find that funny or find any humour in it, because there’s nothing funny about disruption in people’s lives,” Douglas-Cook said.
Police called building landlord Sal Vescio to the scene with a key. They were able to enter and determine there was no one inside, said Vescio, who was accompanied by his lawyer Paul Voinea.
Voinea said he hopes whoever made the false call is prosecuted.
“It’s unfortunate that this happened in such a way; you know you have a false alarm in this case and it shuts down pretty much all the TTC, all the intersections. My issue is what consequences are there going to be to this?” he said.
“The fact that normal businesses are being harassed by certain individuals is extremely unfortunate, and, again, this should not be happening.”
Reid said investigators are likely looking for surveillance footage from the area, a “video-rich environment,” said Reid.
Police are trying to figure out who placed the call to 911.
With files from Alanna Rizza and Emma McIntosh
False report of armed hostage-taker on King St. W. causes traffic chaos, baffles policeFalse report of armed hostage-taker on King St. W. causes traffic chaos, baffles police
WASHINGTON—For years, the biggest technology companies in the U.S. have been virtually untouchable in Washington. The public adored the companies’ new devices, educators embraced their tools and politicians extolled their contributions to the economy. Even traditionally powerful voices, such as the media and telecom businesses, found little success in criticizing the technology industry.
The reviews site Yelp, which has long complained about the size and power of Google, has filed a new federal antitrust complaint against the search giant. Media organizations are arguing, to a more receptive Capitol Hill, that internet businesses should have the same advertising disclosure rules that print and television companies do.
And the support behind a sex-trafficking bill, which tech companies argue could make them the unfair target of lawsuits, reads like a who’s-who list of companies that have long complained about tech’s sway in Washington, including the Walt Disney Co., Oracle and 21st Century Fox.
“We’ve had low points, when we were out of energy and felt like we weren’t heard,” said Jeremy Stoppelman, chief executive of Yelp. “But we feel we have a clean slate now.”
The action is nascent, but gaining momentum fast. Lawmakers are pushing for regulations for technology companies for the first time in years, encouraged along by big tech’s broad assortment of rivals. For several weeks, a group of companies, including smaller tech companies and entertainment and retail businesses, has informally begun regular meetings and conference calls to compare notes about Google, Facebook and Amazon and to find a way to join in a stronger opposition force.
“Before, any negativity was a risk for the media business because if you were critical, you could be defined as not getting it and being old school,” said Jason Kint, chief executive of Digital Content Next, a trade group that represents entertainment and news organizations, including the New York Times. “But now the halo is a bit off these companies.”
In recent years, lawmakers have held up technology companies as the epitome of American ingenuity and felt that voters did not want the government to slow them down. That attitude was hardened in 2012, after lawmakers suffered a bruising defeat in a bill to strengthen anti-piracy rules for internet companies. The proposals set off huge online protests, aided by the big technology companies, that helped stop the legislation.
“Over the years, I’ve watched as the major tech companies not only sought to protect the unlevel playing field they already had, but have used their political influence to expand it to disadvantage businesses with which they compete,” said Jim Cicconi, who recently retired after years overseeing lobbying at AT&T. “Now, I think policy-makers are seeing the consequences.”
But even as they sense an opportunity today, the rivals say that challenging the internet companies remains a daunting task. They doubt they can put a dent into the online ad duopoly of Facebook and Google. It will also be difficult, they say, to restrain Amazon’s fast movement into new markets, given the company’s willingness to lose money to gain a foothold.
Internet companies are deploying some of the largest armies in corporate America to battle on Capitol Hill. House and Senate staffs say lobbyists for the big technology companies have swarmed their offices in recent weeks. Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft have sharply increased their lobbying spending — a combined $14.2 million (U.S.) in the third quarter, up from $11.9 million a year earlier. Facebook, which has faced the most scrutiny over the election, increased its third-quarter lobbying budget this year by 40 per cent, to $2.85 million.
The technology companies go to lawmakers to talk about how their businesses are creating jobs and providing free or lower-priced services for consumers. They also regularly mention donating money for public science, technology and math classes.
“It is unfortunate that companies that have been slow to innovate in a changing consumer-first marketplace are looking for wins through regulation or by scoring cheap political points,” said Michael Beckerman, president of the Internet Association, a lobbying group that represents Amazon, Facebook and Google.
The tech giants are also lodging a strong defence against the newly proposed regulations. Facebook and Google hired high-profile political operatives to thwart changes in election disclosures at the Federal Election Commission and have deployed lobbyists to water down a bipartisan bill introduced last week that would require social media platforms to disclose the financing behind political ads.
Still, their rivals say that, for the first time in many years, criticism of Silicon Valley is getting a receptive audience.
The clearest opening has been in an unpopular battle that Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple have waged against a bill aimed to curb sex trafficking. The bill would take away some legal protections for sites that knowingly host content that promotes sex trafficking, a move that the internet companies warn could stifle free speech, even though it would largely exempt the big tech companies from liability. Disney, Oracle and 21 Century Fox have endorsed the legislation.
The tech companies initially pushed back vigorously against the bill. In recent weeks, though, some of them have softened their stance, saying they hope to seek a compromise.
“It’s past time to dispel the myth that big internet firms cannot or should not be accountable for their business,” said Chip Smith, the executive vice-president of external affairs for 21st Century Fox, “and that includes the personal data they collect and the content and behaviours they promote and profit from online.”
The tech companies are playing defence on other fronts as well. In September, Yelp said it had filed a complaint against Google with the Federal Trade Commission. In the complaint, Yelp argued that Google had violated a promise it made to the commission in 2013 that it would not reuse the content of competitors for its own advantage.
Rep. Keith Ellison recently wrote to the commission to ask it to disclose information about why it closed its case on Google in 2013. Sen. Richard Blumenthal has asked the agency to reopen its investigation in light of new evidence that surfaced in the case led by European regulators.
In July, the News Media Alliance, which represents 2,000 news organizations including the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, began advocating for antitrust exemptions that would allow the companies to collectively bargain with Facebook and Google for ad revenue. On Tuesday, David Chavern, president of the group, argued at a House hearing that digital platforms like Google and Facebook should follow the same rules that broadcast and print news organizations do.
“In the fall, you will see us getting increasingly vocal about Google and Facebook and the future of the news business,” Chavern said in an interview before the hearing.
Even non-profit consumer interest groups are taking advantage of the situation. John Simpson of Consumer Watchdog, who is a longtime critic of Google’s collection of personal data, has pushed for online privacy rules and restrictions for self-driving vehicles. He has struggled to get attention in the past, but that is not much of a problem now.
“I’m getting more calls these days,” Simpson said.
Big tech firms’ rivals jump at chance to gain support in Washington
The thing I fear most when I am looking at my phone while walking down the street isn’t the possibility that I will get hit by a car or fall into a ditch. It’s that an elderly person will make eye contact with me.
I fear this more than death or sudden descent into a hole because the look that elderly people give me when I text and walk at the same time — an activity that usually leads me to lose my footing in a divot or stumble over a buried tree root — is one of profound judgment and pity. It’s a look that says, “You don’t need to use a cane or a walker to get around. All your faculties appear to be in order, and yet you still can’t manage to make it down the street in one piece because of that device in your hand. You’re a bit of a loser.” If looks could kill, in other words, this would be one of the lethal ones.
This is why I wholeheartedly support the belief that governments should issue fines to people crossing the road who have their eyes glued to the screens of their smartphones. Not only is the practice exceedingly dangerous, it provokes soul-crushing looks of disapproval from old people that no one should ever have to bear.
The first city government to take this problem seriously did so this week. According to a brand new law in Honolulu, Hawaii, anyone crossing the road with their head in their phone can be fined up to $35 (U.S.) by police. Some have dubbed this the “Zombie Law,” an allusion to the supposedly zombie-like nature of people like me who walk around with their eyes fixed on their screens.
But the zombie comparison is inaccurate because a zombie is on a mission and he can’t be deterred. He must eat brains, but in order to eat brains he has to follow a human who has some. This usually involves walking in a straight line, uninterrupted. But those of us who walk around with our heads in our screens lack the focused determination of the average undead stalker. The moment our phones buzz in our pockets we are prone to forget where we are going and what our purpose is. Worse, we stop in our tracks quite suddenly in order to check our messages, sometimes causing a pedestrian pileup behind us. We are in a sense, less predictable and harder to evade than zombies.
Worse still, if the source of our phone’s buzzing is an email from a colleague whose tone is difficult to read, we stand there hunched in the middle of the sidewalk for several minutes analyzing the office memo like an ancient scroll: “Is Susan annoyed? She usually signs ‘Thanks!’ But this time she just signed ‘Thanks.’ Something must be wrong.”
No wonder old phoneless people pity us. We are a sad bunch. And I think we know it. According to a poll from last year by the market research company Insights West, the majority of Canadians surveyed support regulations to ban “distracted walking.” Though this idea was unsurprisingly more popular with older Canadians in the baby boomer demographic, a little more than half of respondents 18 to 34 reported that they’d support such a ban.
The takeaway from this, in my mind, is that most people don’t enjoy distracted walking. It isn’t fun to multitask strolling and scrolling. It’s anxiety inducing and often nauseating. But an addiction is an addiction. Nobody realistically thinks it’s a good idea to cross a busy intersection totally immersed in a screen, but people do it everyday. And they do it everyday, presumably, because our hyper-connected culture is an excellent enabler of smartphone addiction.
Therefore, the threat of a steep fine might make texting while walking a compulsion that is easier to curb. But 35 bucks isn’t nearly steep enough. Toronto, always looking for a way to be “world class,” has an opportunity here. We should one up Honolulu. We should adopt a similar distracted-walking fine, but double it to $70.
Of course, not everyone is convinced fines are a good solution to this problem, least of all our provincial government, which last year denied Toronto city council’s request to prohibit distracted walking. This week, reporters at the CBC revisited the issue with Const. Clint Stibbe, a Toronto Police spokesperson, who said “we shouldn’t need a law for common sense.” But unfortunately, we do.
And we have plenty of them on the books already. In Ontario, we have Ryan’s Law, which makes it mandatory for schools to allow kids with asthma to carry their inhalers on their persons (as opposed to storing them in their lockers). In Alberta, it is illegal to shave your beard while driving. Nationwide, it is illegal to take somebody water-skiing one hour after sunset. These are all common sense laws I’m certain that many Canadians are quite grateful for. So why not add another? In the name of our streets and our scrambled brains — and in the hope that the two don't meet — we should follow Honolulu and write a distracted-walking law into our city’s books.
Emma Teitel is a national affairs columnist.
'Zombie law' in Toronto would deter distracted walking: Teitel