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    Like all politicians, Finance Minister Bill Morneau deserves to be judged.

    Elected legislators — particularly those appointed to cabinet — have a responsibility to voters. It makes sense that those voters keep an eye on them.

    Morneau is no exception.

    But if he is to be judged it should be for what he does, not what he owns.

    Morneau owns a lot. He comes from a wealthy family and married into wealth. He took over the pension consulting firm that his father founded and made even more money.

    He is pretty well fixed.

    In fact, he is so well-fixed that, in an effort to deflect opposition criticism, he has offered to donate to charity the proceeds — estimated at more than $5 million — from selling shares of the family business.

    There are not many Canadians rich enough to casually give away $5 million.

    All of this matters because Liberal Morneau now stands accused by the Conservative and New Democratic Party opposition of conflict of interest.

    The New Democrats in particular say Morneau should not have introduced pension Bill C-27 when he still controlled shares in the family-owned consulting firm. That firm, Morneau Shepell, might get more business as a result of the bill, which would create a new category of so-called targeted benefit pensions to help federally regulated companies off-load more of their retirement costs on workers.

    It’s a bad bill. But I’ll get to that later.

    Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson is seized of the conflict of interest issue. Presumably there will be a ruling.

    I confess I don’t understand Ottawa’s conflict of interest rules. Ministers are urged to put their holdings in blind trusts (Morneau didn’t do so initially). But even if they don’t have day-to-day control over their assets in such trusts, they must know — in a general sense — which ones will benefit from specific government actions.

    Corporate tax cuts, for instance, favour corporations. A finance minister holding corporate stock — whether in a blind trust or not — would presumably know that.

    Similarly, pension reform favours pension consultants. Even if he had held his Morneau Shepell shares in a blind trust, the current finance minister would have known that as well.

    But I suspect the real rap against Morneau is not that he is in a conflict of interest. It is that he is rich.

    “He (Morneau) is the very definition of the privileged few, the old-money elite who have taken generational wealth handed down from those who came before,” Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre said scornfully in the Commons last week.

    It’s odd to hear a Conservative chide someone for being a member of the ruling class. Following Poilievre’s logic, we could have a rule barring moneyed people from the finance portfolio. But historically few ministers, including Conservative ones, would have made the cut.

    The most reasonable way to evaluate finance ministers is not by their class background but by what they do. Former Liberal finance minister Paul Martin, for instance, should be remembered not for his personal wealth or his considerable charm but for destroying Canada’s social safety net in an effort to curb the fiscal deficit.

    Conservative Jim Flaherty should be remembered not as a well-to-do lawyer but as the finance minister who deliberately — and counterintuitively — ran big deficits to pull the country from recession.

    How should Morneau be remembered? He stickhandled an important new child benefit scheme through the Commons and persuaded his provincial counterparts to expand the Canada Pension Plan. Those are rare accomplishments.

    Conversely, his Bill C-27 — by making it easier for federally regulated companies to back away from reliable, defined-benefit pension plans — is a step backward.

    His tax reform attempts have largely failed. His innovation agenda sounds like — and may well be — gobbledygook.

    But his insouciance about running fiscal deficits is a welcome change from the knee jerk reaction expressed by most finance ministers when expenses exceed revenues.

    Oh yes. And he is rich as sin. But that in itself shouldn’t matter much.

    Thomas Walkom appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

    Judge Bill Morneau for what he does, not what he owns: WalkomJudge Bill Morneau for what he does, not what he owns: Walkom

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    A friend of a young Toronto woman who disappeared five years ago is expected to face cross-examination at the first-degree murder trial of two Ontario men today.

    The Crown alleges Dellen Millard, 32, of Toronto and Mark Smich, 30, of Oakville, Ont., killed Laura Babcock, 23, and burned her body in a large incinerator.

    The prosecution believes she was the odd woman out in a love triangle with Millard and his then girlfriend, Christina Noudga.

    Both Millard and Smich have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

    Karoline Shirinian told court on Friday that Babcock and Christina Noudga had an ongoing feud because both had been sleeping with Millard around the same time.

    The Crown alleges the bad blood between the two women became a problem that Millard promised to solve.

    Read more:

    Trial into Laura Babcock's murder hears of bitter text message exchange: DiManno

    Trial hears about bitter feud in alleged love triangle involving Laura Babcock

    A good guy emerges at grim trial into Laura Babcock’s murder: DiManno

    Laura Babcock’s friend to continue testimony at murder trialLaura Babcock’s friend to continue testimony at murder trial

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    Toronto police released security images Monday of a suspect they said falsely reported an armed hostage-taking on King St. last week, causing traffic chaos and confusion for three hours.

    The prank call came in to police at 1 p.m. on Oct. 26, prompting officers — including the Emergency Task Force — to surround the 365 Dispensary and the Underground Garage at the southwest corner of King and Blue Jays Way. Traffic and TTC routes along King were halted as emergency responders stood by.

    When investigators made their way into the building, they found it empty. At the time, they were unsure if the call was fake or if a hostage-taker had managed to escape.

    In a press release issued Monday morning, police confirmed the call was a hoax, saying it came from a payphone near Spadina Ave. and Cecil St., in the Grange Park area.

    Read more: False report of armed hostage-taker on King St. W. causes traffic chaos, baffles police

    The suspect is described as a man with a dark complexion and medium build, between five feet, 10 inches tall and six feet two inches. He’s likely between 25 and 35 years of age, said police.

    Police also said the suspect wore glasses, a green camouflage jacket, black pants, black shoes, a black backpack and a black baseball cap. He rode a black, vintage-style bicycle with a black mudguard and wooden rack on the rear.

    Investigators are asking anyone with information to contact police at 416-808-5200, or anonymously through Crime Stoppers.

    Police confirm King St. hostage-taker hoax, release photos of suspectPolice confirm King St. hostage-taker hoax, release photos of suspect

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    This week, as we count down to the Star’s 125th anniversary, we revisit stories that have inspired readers and changed lives.

    WELLAND, Ont.—The first thing you notice about Jason Jones are his teeth. They radiate.

    “I keep hearing, ‘You’ve got a gorgeous smile.’ Well, thank you, it’s totally fake, but thank you,” he says with a mischievous grin. “They’re all fake. All of them. Every single one.”

    The admission, says Jones, almost always leads to the inevitable question for a 36-year-old with fake choppers.

    What happened?

    “Have you got 10 minutes? This will take a while.”

    Toronto Star readers first met Jones in 2007 as part of a Star series that examined the issues surrounding poverty and possible reforms.

    In a photo that dominated a Saturday front page, a smiling Jones stared out at the world, a bright-eyed, handsome man brimming with hope, except for one glaring, arresting detail.

    He had no teeth.

    Well, actually there were two decaying ones that stuck out hauntingly from his lower gums like a broken picket fence. He had the mouth of an old man. It was impossible not to stare back.

    Accompanying the image, under the headline “He’s 25, Gregarious, Driven, Disciplined. So why is he out of work?” reporter Moira Welsh told the story of how Jones’s teeth had rotted down to the jawbone, largely because he was poor and could never afford to correct dental issues that plagued him since childhood.

    The pain forced Jones to have his teeth removed, draining his wife’s $600 life savings. The oral surgeon left two bottom teeth as an eventual anchor for dentures but Jones was still in incredible agony — the remaining fragments felt like shards of glass poking through his gums.

    He needed another $2,150 to pay for the final two extractions, tooth posts and dentures, the price quoted to him at a low-cost clinic. Jones was hoping to get a job and save for the dental work, but even when an employer would ignore his toothless smile and hire him, the pain would eventually force him back into unemployment.

    Jones was trapped by his own poverty, subsisting by eating soft foods such as peanut butter sandwiches that he could “gum to death” or by “chewing” firmer items such as chicken with his fingers before putting it in his mouth.

    While Jones’s story was heart rending unto itself, it exemplified a vital issue for the working poor. They didn’t — and still don’t — have access to affordable dental care. There is no public dental insurance in the same way that there is universal health care.

    But on an individual level, Jones’s story remains a remarkable tale of how one man turned his life around once he was offered some help.

    Star readers were so moved by Jones’s plight, they reacted with an outpouring of job offers, financial assistance — even a hand-knit baby blanket. Jones’s wife, Candice, was expecting their first child at the time.

    Jones received more than a dozen job opportunities; offers to provide him with dentures numbered about four times that. More than 200 calls and emails came into the newsroom on the first day alone; caring Star readers just wanting to toss the young man a lifeline.

    “I still don’t understand. I am still trying to comprehend this,” Jones says now. “I don’t understand why people just wanted to reach out and help me. I’m just little old me.

    “People got angry, I guess, and said, ‘This is wrong, we need to help this guy.’ My reaction is why me? There are so many people (with similar issues.).”

    That generosity caused Jones’s life to “flip-flop,” he says.

    The one child on the way was eventually joined by four siblings. The “army” of blue-eyed, blond children now ranges from 6 months to 10 years old and the family lives in a house — they own both sides of a duplex — here in Niagara Region. Jones went from being chronically unemployed to having a unionized job and two cars in the driveway. He earns enough that Candice, who once worked in child care, can stay at home looking after their own gang.

    For Jones the changes began almost immediately after the story appeared.

    He combed through the offers of assistance and settled on Markham dentist Dr. Raj Singh, who volunteered his services for free, to further repair his mouth and fit him with dentures and implants to hold them in place. It was ultimately a $10,500 job.

    As for work, he found an apprenticeship offer from the Boilermakers Association of Ontario the most enticing — Jones always enjoyed working with his hands — and signed on. He was eventually certified and still works in the trade.

    It was Ed Frerotte, apprenticeship and training co-ordinator for the Boilermakers at the time, who reached out to Jones. He recalls being moved by the photo, taken by Star photographer Tony Bock, and how it put a face on poverty.

    “He seemed to be smiling anyway, even though he was down and out,” says Frerotte now. “He just seemed like someone we could help and someone who would appreciate it. This is the best story of the time I spent (heading the apprenticeship program), by far.”

    Looking back, Jones believes he “probably would be dead” if he didn’t get assistance. His family doctor had pointed to that as a possibility; poor dental health has the potential to damage much more than the mouth. Candice says she once had to take her husband to the hospital “because he was so sick and so dehydrated from not being able to eat or drink anything.

    “He was unconscious and on IV for hours and that was just from an infection in his mouth.”

    As for the bigger picture and the long-term impact of Jones baring his soul and toothless smile to the world, Ontario’s working poor are still waiting for affordable dental care a decade later.

    Jacquie Maund of the Association of Ontario Health Centres says Jones’s story did raise public and political awareness of the how a person’s life can be affected by declining oral health.

    That led to Healthy Smiles Ontario, a free dental care program for children younger than 18 from low-income families.

    But for impoverished adults, unless a person is on social assistance, “they have to rely on charity” just as Jones did, says Maund.

    “There are many, many desperate cases of people who, through no fault of their own, do not have access to any kind of oral health service,” she says. “That, unfortunately, has not improved since (the Star) did the story 10 years ago.”

    The College of Dental Hygienists estimates that between two and three million Ontarians did not see a dentist in the last year, mainly due to the cost. OHIP does not cover teeth and gums.

    “I think (Jones’s) story was really the impetus for the Liberal government to take more seriously the issue of access to oral health,” says Maund.

    She did anti-poverty advocacy work at the time and says the coverage played “a pivotal role” in the government initially committing $45 million to an oral health program for low-income people.

    “They subsequently realized that wasn’t enough for a full program to deal with both children and adults so they basically decided to focus on children because their poverty reduction strategy was focusing on children,” she said.

    Even that wasn’t perfect. Research by Maund in 2013 found many of the children who should have benefitted from the program did not because of the strict qualifying criteria. Some unspent money was then siphoned off to other initiatives, such as sport development and antismoking campaigns. Funding for the dental program dropped from the promised $45 million to $33 million.

    A streamlined Healthy Smiles was expanded and relaunched last year as a $100-million program offering free dental checkups, cleanings, fillings, X-rays and urgent oral health care for about 460,000 children in low-income families.

    In the 2014 budget, the Ontario government pledged to extend dental care to low-income adults by 2025.

    In mid-October, community health leaders gathered at Queen’s Park. Along with NDP health critic France Gélinas, they called on Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals to act more quickly.

    “People today with a toothache or mouth pain are forced to go to the emergency room . . . and all they’ll get is painkillers,” said Gélinas. “Those emergency room visits are not free. They cost Ontario $30 million a year but don’t address the problem.

    “Why is this premier refusing to provide dental care to every vulnerable Ontarian who needs it now?”

    Health Minister Eric Hoskins said it’s “a costly exercise” but one the ministry is working with its partners on. He said the government is “absolutely committed” to the 2025 target.

    Maund said advocates pushing for health equity will try to make accessible dental care an issue in next year’s provincial election.

    “It’s not about having a nice smile, it’s about having a healthy mouth,” says Maund. “If you have an infection in your mouth because you have gum disease or you have rotting or decaying teeth, that affects your whole body, it affects your overall health. It puts you at higher risk for diabetes, for oral cancers, and it obviously makes it very hard to eat. Why is it that if I break my arm, I can go to the hospital and get it fixed but if I crack my tooth or I have an abscess on my tooth and I can’t afford to go to the dentist, there’s no help for me?”

    Jones recalls that, for him, the agony was so bad he once gripped one of his rotting teeth with pliers and thought about ripping it out.

    And exposed nerves caused searing pain in his mouth, he recalls. It was debilitating, and he “felt totally useless.”

    Then at the urging of his physician, the late Dr. Peter Charlebois, he went public.

    Candice says her normally outgoing husband was becoming a miserable person, “but since everything happened, he’s always had a huge confident smile on his face.” If he didn’t get help “I definitely don’t think that we would be anywhere close to where we are today, nor have the family that we have.”

    Jones said he still contacted by media to comment on oral health issues, and he hopes his story continues to serve as an example of what can happen when a person in need gets help.

    “Maybe it’ll persuade (people) to pressure their government a little more. Why don’t you help more people? Actually help them,” he says. “I was given the ability to better myself by one simple thing — fixing the problem.”

    Read more on the Star’s 125th anniversary in Saturday’s special Insight section and at

    A decade later, Jason Jones still smiling thanks to generosity of Star readersA decade later, Jason Jones still smiling thanks to generosity of Star readers

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    HOUSTON—Blast off!

    Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and the Houston Astros kept hammering away in a wild slugfest that no one saw coming, rallying against Clayton Kershaw and rocking the Los Angeles Dodgers 13-12 in 10 thrilling innings Sunday night for a 3-2 lead in the World Series.

    In a tension-filled game of monster momentum swings at pulsating Minute Maid Park, the last one belonged to Alex Bregman. With the packed crowd still standing well past midnight, Bregman hit an RBI single with two outs off Kenley Jansen to win it after 5 hours, 17 minutes.

    Wacky and whacky with seven home runs, this perhaps topped Toronto’s 15-14 win over the Phillies in 1993 as the craziest World Series game ever.

    Altuve, Correa, Yuli Gurriel, George Springer and Brian McCann homered for Houston. Cody Bellinger and Yasiel Puig went deep for the Dodgers, who scored three times in the ninth to make it 12-all.

    Silent when ace Dallas Keuchel got crushed, the orange-clad fans erupted over and over as the Astros sent balls careening all around — and out of — the park.

    Yet on another night of Home Run Derby in the Year of the Home Run, no lead was safe.

    Puig lined a two-run shot in the ninth, the record 22nd homer in a single Series, and Chris Taylor’s two-out single off Chris Devenski tied it.

    Now, with both bullpens worn down, the teams get a day to recover. It’ll be Game 6 on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium, where Justin Verlander will try to clinch the Astros’ first championship and Rich Hill hopes to save Los Angeles’ season.

    Out of nowhere, the Astros climbed out of a four-run hole against Kershaw and then erased two more deficits later in the game, tying it each time on a homer.

    Correa leaped and twirled after launching a two-run drive made it 11-8 in the seventh. McCann’s shot in the eighth added a much-needed insurance run.

    Bellinger homered for Los Angeles, a three-run drive in the fifth that made it 7-4 and seemed to swing things back in the Dodgers’ favour. By the end of the mayhem on the mound, it was a mere afterthought.

    The Astros (13) and Dodgers (9) topped the Series mark for homers, set when Barry Bonds and the Giants lost to the Angels in seven games in 2002.

    But really, who imagined this?

    No wonder there’s a bright sign high above the centre field wall for a popular taco place in town — it says Torchy and fit perfectly for a game where pitchers got lit up.

    A day earlier, Kershaw stood alone on the mound after the Dodgers’ dramatic win in Game 4, trying to get a visual for the biggest start of his career.

    This was definitely not how he pictured it.

    The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner cruised into the fourth with a 4-0 lead before things suddenly fell apart. After Correa hit an RBI double, Gurriel hit a tying, three-run drive.

    Kershaw whipped his head around to watch Gurriel’s drive sail, his face immediately showing shock, utter disbelief and frustration, all wrapped up in one expression before he bent over, hands on his knees.

    Yanked in the fifth, Kershaw trudged off with a dubious distinction — he has allowed a post-season-record eight home runs this year.

    Hardly a repeat performance from the opener, when Kershaw dominated while outpitching Keuchel for a 3-1 win.

    Gurriel’s second homer of the Series also kept open this possibility: Imagine the scene if Major League Baseball presents Gurriel with the MVP trophy, so soon after Commissioner Rob Manfred suspended him for the first five games next year for making a racist gesture toward Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish.

    Keuchel never got into a rhythm during the shortest home start of his All-Star career. His breaking pitches spun without much movement, and he was pulled in the fourth.

    Logan Forsythe did the early damage against his former University of Arkansas teammate. A Series surprise, Forsythe lined a two-out, two-run single in the first, and doubled and scored in the fourth for a 4-0 lead.

    The Dodgers hadn’t lost a game this year when they led by four runs. But Kershaw’s bedeviling post-season past came back to haunt him at the worst time.

    Kershaw was pulled after a pair of two-out walks in the bottom of the fifth. And with crowd sensing something big, the 5-foot-6 Altuve connected off Kenta Maeda for a home run that made it 7-all.

    Astros blast by Dodgers 13-12 in Game 5, lead World Series 3-2Astros blast by Dodgers 13-12 in Game 5, lead World Series 3-2Astros blast by Dodgers 13-12 in Game 5, lead World Series 3-2Astros blast by Dodgers 13-12 in Game 5, lead World Series 3-2Astros blast by Dodgers 13-12 in Game 5, lead World Series 3-2Astros blast by Dodgers 13-12 in Game 5, lead World Series 3-2

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    A prescription narcotic popular among street drug users in Canada may soon get a brand makeover.

    Health Canada has asked drugmaker Teva if it’s considering changing the controversial branding on its oxycodone medication, following a Star investigation into the “TEC” marking engraved on each pill.

    The letters represent branding for a company that hasn’t existed in nearly 20 years. The TEC name is among the most desired brands of prescription opioids on the streets, the Star found.

    “Health Canada officials are concerned about the links being made between these markings and illicit use. Officials at the regulator have reached out to the company to determine whether they are considering making changes,” Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor said in a statement.

    It’s up to the company alone to change the markings on the pills. Health Canada can force a medication to be modified only if there is a safety or quality problem.

    Read more:

    ‘Illegal’ payments for prescription opioids under review, says health minister

    Ontario urged to act quickly on opioid crisis

    Makers of OxyContin, Percocet sued by U.S. governments over opioid crisis

    TECs are popular among young people and casual users because its lower dosage of oxycodone means a more manageable high. For many people, these pills are their first taste of opioids.

    The drug company has said it did not know about the marking’s popularity with illicit users until it was contacted by the Star with the results of its investigation. Teva said it is now consulting with police and “community stakeholders” to see just what kind of brand recognition TEC has on the streets.

    “We are securing valid feedback from these same experts to determine whether there is, in fact, value in changing the product’s trade dress,” a Teva spokesperson said.

    Teva would not say what it discussed with Health Canada, calling it confidential.

    Harm reduction advocates are concerned the outdated TEC branding is still being used only because of the prescription pill’s popularity on the streets — a charge the company says it not true.

    The TEC pills are officially known as Oxycocet and are a generic version of Percocet. They are a blend of oxycodone and Tylenol.

    The pills make their way from pharmacies to the streets in different ways, from fake prescriptions to robberies to patients selling their medication.

    Once there, a single TEC pill can fetch anywhere from $5 to $20 — and probably sells a lot easier than the same drug with different markings, several drug users and harm-reduction advocates told the Star.

    TECs used to be made by a Montreal-based drug firm called TechniLab Pharma. That company was purchased in 2000 by Ratiopharm, which soon started changing the markings on its newly acquired products to say “rph,” according to a source who worked there at the time.

    But the oxycodone pills were never changed.

    Teva purchased Ratiopharm in 2010 and the pills continued to have the TEC branding.

    The federal government is just “grasping at low hanging fruit” by asking the company only to consider changing the name, said Amy Graves, founder of the non-profit Get Prescription Drugs off the Street.

    “I think there should be an investigation into what Teva’s motivation was to keep the TEC marking,” she said.

    “I think that’s the bigger question — not so much the imprint itself, but the motivation behind why that imprint was there for so long.”

    Graves also warned that just changing the pill’s markings in isolation could cause unintended consequences.

    Police in Canada have already seized pills with the TEC branding that actually contained fentanyl, which can be up to 100 times more potent than morphine.

    By simply changing the branding without a meaningful public awareness campaign, there may be illicit users “still seeking out the TEC marking and getting a bootleg version instead, which can have deadly consequences,” Graves said.

    In Ontario, TECs are the most commonly dispensed generic form of oxycodone covered by the public drug plan, according to Ontario Drug Benefit Program data.

    Since 2012, the province has paid more than $50 million covering the cost of pills with that marking. The Star was unable to obtain similar data for those prescriptions covered under private health plans.

    A recent Star investigation obtained an email chain showing a Teva manager offering to pay an Ontario pharmacy group to stock its prescription medications, including TECs.

    In response to the Star’s findings, Ontario’s health minister said he takes the allegations of “illegal” rebate payments seriously and ordered the government to investigate. A Teva spokesperson said the company follows Ontario’s laws and will co-operate with the province’s probe.

    Drug company ponders new branding on controversial opioid pillsDrug company ponders new branding on controversial opioid pillsDrug company ponders new branding on controversial opioid pillsDrug company ponders new branding on controversial opioid pills

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    WASHINGTON — Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business associate, Rick Gates, have been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy against the United States and other felony charges.

    The indictments unsealed Monday in Washington contain 12 counts, including conspiracy to launder money, failing to register as a foreign agent, false statements, and multiple counts of failing to file reports for foreign bank accounts.

    Manafort, of Alexandria, Virginia, and Gates, of Richmond, Virginia, both turned themselves in to the FBI on Monday. They are expected in court later Monday to face charges brought by special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s team, according to one person familiar with the investigation. A second person said that Gates had worked out an arrangement to turn himself in on Monday. Both spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss an ongoing federal probe on the record.

    The White House declined to comment.

    Mueller was appointed as special counsel in May to lead the Justice Department’s investigation into whether the Kremlin worked with associates of the Trump campaign to tip the 2016 presidential election.

    The appointment came one week after the firing James Comey, who as FBI director led the investigation, and also followed the recusal months earlier of Attorney General Jeff Sessions from the probe.

    Investigators have focused on associates including Manafort, whose home was raided in July by agents searching for tax and international banking records, and ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was forced to resign in February after White House officials said he had misled them about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

    Manafort joined Trump’s campaign in March 2016 and oversaw the convention delegate strategy. Trump pushed him out in August amid a steady stream of negative headlines about Manafort’s foreign consulting work.

    Trump’s middle son, Eric Trump, said in an interview at the time that his father was concerned that questions about Manafort’s past were taking attention away from the billionaire’s presidential bid.

    Manafort has been a subject of a longstanding FBI investigation into his dealings in Ukraine and work for the country’s former president, Viktor Yanukovych. That investigation was incorporated into Mueller’s broader probe.

    The investigation has also reached into the White House, as Mueller examines the circumstances of Comey’s firing. Investigators have requested extensive documents from the White House about key actions since Trump took office and have interviewed multiple current and former officials.

    Mueller’s grand jury has also heard testimony about a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower attended by a Russian lawyer as well as Manafort, Donald Trump Jr., and the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

    In Gates, Mueller brings in not just Manafort’s chief deputy, but a key player from Trump’s campaign who survived past Manafort’s ouster last summer. As of two weeks ago, Gates was still working for Tom Barrack, a Trump confidant, helping with the closeout of the inauguration committee’s campaign account.

    Read more:

    Donald Trump tries to shift focus to Hillary Clinton as Russia probe reportedly readies charges

    First charges filed in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation

    Paul Manafort, Trump’s ex-campaign chairman, surrenders on charges related to Russia probePaul Manafort, Trump’s ex-campaign chairman, surrenders on charges related to Russia probePaul Manafort, Trump’s ex-campaign chairman, surrenders on charges related to Russia probePaul Manafort, Trump’s ex-campaign chairman, surrenders on charges related to Russia probe

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    When Kim Jong Un visited the newly renovated Pyongyang Cosmetics Factory in North Korea last week, smiling broadly as he admired the lotions and potions and their fancy packaging, he was accompanied by two women. They were on the sidelines, but they were there.

    One, in a stylish black suit with a floral pattern, a clutch purse under her arm, was Kim’s wife of seven years, Ri Sol Ju. She stood beside her husband as he checked on the production process, according to photos published Sunday.

    The other in the background, dressed in the functional black outfit of a Communist Party apparatchik and carrying a notebook, was his younger sister, Kim Yo Jong.

    Read more:

    U.S. defence secretary says North Korea engages in ‘outlaw’ behaviour

    ‘A nuclear war may break out any moment,’ North Korea says

    North Korea’s Kim Jong Un promotes sister Kim Yo Jong to ruling Workers’ Party bureau

    Each has a job to do in Kim Jong Un’s North Korea— one to be glamorous and aspirational, the other to represent the importance of hard work — and each offers clues about the running of the opaque regime.

    “His wife enables Kim Jong Un to present a softer side of himself. They are a modern, young, virile couple on the go,” said Jung H. Pak, a former Korea analyst at the CIA who is now at the Brookings Institution. “This new generation of North Koreans growing up in a nuclear North Korea now associates being assertive with being glamorous. I think it inspires hope.”

    Kim’s sister, who is about 30, is one of his closest aides. This month, he elevated her to the powerful political bureau of the ruling Workers’ Party, moving her closer to the centre of the leadership.

    “She’s supporting him. You know she’s not a leader in her own right,” Pak said.

    Women’s status in North Korea varies widely. Under communism, women are more integrated into the workforce than in neighbouring South Korea, even serving in the military. And it’s the women who are earning most of the money in North Korea these days.

    While their husbands show up for duty at dilapidated state factories or farms to earn pitiful wages, married women go to the burgeoning markets to sell everything from homemade rice cakes to imported rice cookers, often making many times what their husbands earn.

    But in other ways, the hierarchical Confucian ideals that have endured for centuries on the Korean Peninsula are still very much in place, with women viewed as second-class citizens whose primary purpose is to raise the next generation of soldiers.

    The concept of motherhood is strong in North Korea, with the state often referred to in propaganda as the all-encompassing, caring “motherland.” Kim Jong Il, the second leader of North Korea and father of the current ruler, had a signature song called “No Motherland Without You.”

    Almost all of the women who are elevated to senior positions in North Korea get there through family relations — such as Choe Son Hui, the regime’s top interlocutor with the United States. She’s the daughter of a former prime minister and is thought to have a direct line to Kim.

    The most famous woman in North Korea is Kim Jong Suk, the wife of founding president Kim Il Sung and mother of Kim Jong Il. She is revered as an anti-imperialist fighter.

    Kim Jong Il never appeared in public with any of his five consorts, but since his son became the leader of North Korea in 2011, the regime has started to idolize Ko Yong Hui, Kim Jong Il’s second wife and Kim Jong Un’s mother.

    Kim Jong Il’s sister, Kim Kyong Hui, was also prominent in the Workers’ Party, serving in a raft of influential positions and previously occupying the politburo seat that her niece, Kim Yo Jong, now holds. She and her husband groomed Kim Yo Jong for the role she would play, said Michael Madden, who writes the North Korea Leadership Watch website.

    But she hasn’t been seen in public since Kim Jong Un had her husband — his uncle — executed in 2013 for apparently building up too much of his own power.

    Kim Yo Jong first appeared in public at her father’s funeral, at the end of 2011, and is now clearly in charge of promoting her brother’s image, he said.

    She runs the Workers’ Party propaganda and agitation department — a position that led the U.S. Treasury Department to sanction her by name this year — and has been seen organizing papers and logistics at several marquee events, including a military parade.

    “Kim Yo Jong is always in the background, kind of lurking in behind her brother somewhere. She’s not important in her own right, but she’s part of this dynastic rule,” Brookings’ Pak said.

    In North Korea, blood is definitely thicker than water. The Kim family has retained power for more than seven decades by relying on the loyalty of an inner circle and claiming a kind of heaven-ordained blood right.

    Kim’s wife comes from this inner circle of loyal cadres.

    Ri, who is thought to be a few years younger than her 33-year-old husband, is from an elite family that has helped keep the Kims in power. Ri Pyong Chol, a former top air force general who is always at Kim’s side during missile launches, is either her grandfather or great-uncle, said Madden.

    She is reported to have been a singer with the Unhasu Orchestra, part of the regime’s propaganda efforts, and to have travelled to South Korea in 2005 as a member of a cheering team at an athletic competition.

    Kim and Ri Sol Ju are thought to have been set up by Kim’s aunt and now-executed uncle, and to have married in 2009 or 2010 with Kim Jong Il’s blessing. They are thought to have two or three children, although only one birth has been confirmed — by basketball player Dennis Rodman.

    The former Chicago Bull held the baby, a girl called Ju Ae, during a visit to North Korea in 2013. “I held their baby Ju Ae and spoke with Ms. Ri, as well. He’s a good dad and has a beautiful family,” Rodman told reporters after the visit.

    When Ri is seen in public, playing the role of devoted wife, she is often wearing chic Chanel-type suits and was once spotted with a Christian Dior purse — or at least a knock-off.

    In today’s North Korea, the Kim family is supposed to represent a new kind of socialist ideal: that theirs is a modern country that has style and nuclear weapons.

    But this ideal could pose problems for the regime.

    “It raises expectations,” said Pak. “If you’re an ordinary North Korean and you’re constantly toiling but your expectations are not met, you can’t live this consumerist dream.”

    Kim Jong Un’s wife and sister offer clues to how the North Korean regime worksKim Jong Un’s wife and sister offer clues to how the North Korean regime works

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    Ontario’s Opposition is calling on the government to halt a deal with a gaming company that is facing money laundering allegations in British Columbia.

    The B.C. government has launched an independent expert’s review of the province’s policies in the gambling industry after concerns were raised about the possibility of money laundering at the River Rock Casino in Richmond, B.C.

    The attorney general has said he launched the probe after reading a report about the casino accepting $13.5 million in $20 bills in July 2015 that police said could be proceeds of crime involving Asian VIP clients.

    That casino is run by Great Canadian Gaming Corp., which the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. selected in August — along with Brookfield Business Partners LP — to run facilities at Woodbine, slots at Ajax Downs and the Great Blue Heron Casino in the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.

    Great Canadian Gaming has said it has procedures to ensure regulatory compliance are strictly followed, and it is committed to preventing illegal activities at all of its locations.

    OLG notes that Great Canadian is not under a criminal or regulatory investigation in either province and is satisfied the company will operate the Greater Toronto Area facilities responsibly.

    Ontario Progressive Conservative Vic Fedeli says the province should halt the deal while it gathers all the facts about the situation in B.C.

    Premier Kathleen Wynne says the B.C. allegations raise questions, and Ontario is paying very close attention to developments there.

    Read more:

    Woodbine believes casino plans will mesh with proposal to build a new community in northwest Toronto

    Woodbine’s ‘city-within-a-city’ casino expansion expected to generate 2,500 jobs

    Ontario must halt Toronto casino deal amid B.C. money laundering probe, Tories sayOntario must halt Toronto casino deal amid B.C. money laundering probe, Tories say

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    A curb on texting and walking may be an idea whose time has come, says Premier Kathleen Wynne.

    With Liberal MPP Yvan Baker introducing a private member’s bill Monday to prevent pedestrians from using phones or other electronic devices when crossing the street, the premier suggested it could be a part of evolving road-safety laws.

    “Twenty years ago, nobody was walking around with a phone. And, so, now, we’ve got these machines and I think that we need . . . to push ourselves to make sure that we have a safe culture around them,” Wynne told reporters.

    “We are looking at a culture shift,” she said at a campaign-style stop at The Irv gastro-pub in Cabbagetown, where she was promoting the Liberal government’s labour reforms.

    Asked if there isn’t a danger of Ontario becoming a nanny state where Big Brother is watching the everyday behaviour of citizens, Wynne argued that technological changes have always necessitated new laws.

    “A hundred years ago, there were no stop signs, and so, you probably could have made that argument then. And there were no cellphones 100 years ago,” the premier said.

    “So now we’ve got this new technology that is changing behaviour, and so, if it is changing behaviour to the point where people are at risk, just like having cars changed behaviour to the point where people were at risk, then I think we need to look at the laws and say, ‘Do we have enough?’ ” she said.

    “I’m not saying that this should be put in place, but I do think it’s an interesting idea.”

    Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca emphasized there are no plans to incorporate the proposal into the government’s safety initiatives “at this point in time.”

    Last year, Del Duca said, if the city of Toronto wanted to ban texting and walking, it could do so using its municipal authority.

    New Democrat MPP Cheri DiNovo (Parkdale-High Park), who has long advocated for tougher laws to protect pedestrians and cyclists from distracted drivers, dismissed Baker’s initiative as “a victim-blaming bill.”

    “It shows where the government’s heart is; they’re trying to deflect from the fact that we’ve had the worst year — 53 deaths on record — for our pedestrians,” said DiNovo.

    Baker (Etobicoke Centre) said his goal with the Phones Down, Heads Up Act is not to underplay the danger of distracted drivers on their phones and other devices.

    “Toronto is already one of the worst cities in North America when it comes to traffic. With winter quickly approaching, road conditions can make it difficult to stop,” the MPP said.

    “I would like pedestrians to be aware of the risks of crossing the road while (they are) distracted by phones and other electronic devices. My bill would strengthen road safety by encouraging pedestrians and drivers to keep each other safe.”

    Brian Patterson, president and CEO of the Ontario Safety League, said Baker’s bill is “consistent with the evolution of safety in the province of Ontario.

    “It focuses on the risky behaviour, allowing for education and enforcement,” said Patterson.

    Under the bill, scofflaws would be slapped with a $50 fine on the first offence, increasing to $75 for a second infraction, and $125 on a third and for subsequent violations.

    Exceptions would include using a phone to call the police, fire services or an ambulance, as well as calls that begin before a pedestrian has started crossing the street.

    Pedestrian texting ban worth considering: WynnePedestrian texting ban worth considering: Wynne

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  • 10/30/17--13:38: Article 10

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    In an attempt to respond to court delays and the staggering number of legally innocent individuals kept in jail pending their trials, the Ontario government has announced a new policy for Crown attorneys to make the bail system “faster and fairer.”

    A major point of the new policy is an emphasis that Crown attorneys should only be demanding as a last resort that a person have a surety in order to be released. A surety is a person who can help ensure that the accused complies with the conditions of their bail, and who promises money to the court that they can end up losing if they fail in their surety duties.

    Criminal defence lawyers have long complained of an overreliance by Crown attorneys on the use of sureties, which can make it difficult for persons of certain socioeconomic backgrounds to secure their release.

    “The prosecutor should consider the least restrictive form of release and should not request a release with a surety (the most onerous form) unless each lesser form of release has been considered and rejected as inappropriate,” says the new policy, made public Monday.

    “As noted by the Supreme Court of Canada, the default position is the unconditional release of the accused. Any conditions that are requested should be necessary and required in the interests of the accused and the safety and security of the victim or public and related to the commission of the offence.”

    The policy goes on to make clear that if the prosecutor believes the release would “jeopardize the safety or security of the victim or the public,” and that a release with conditions could not mitigate that risk, then the prosecutor must seek detention. Ultimately, the decision to release an accused on bail is left in the hands of the court, almost always a justice of the peace.

    The new policy is the result of a review conducted since last December by three bail experts, led by Brian Lennox, the former chief justice of the Ontario Court of Justice. The review was part of a provincial government announcement last year to respond to the Supreme Court's R v. Jordan ruling, which set strict timelines to bring criminal cases to trial.

    According to a government news release, the group “consulted widely with the legal community,” analyzed reports and Supreme Court decisions and travelled to northern Ontario “to hear about the distinct concerns facing northern and Indigenous communities.”

    The new nine-page policy stands in contrast to the current bail directive, a document from 2005 that is little more than a page long. The current directive states that Crowns must weigh conflicting interests, including protection of the community and liberty interests of the accused.

    “While all the factors listed above must be accorded serious consideration, given the potential for tragedy at the bail hearing stage of the process, protection of the public including victims must be the primary concern in any bail decision made by Crown counsel,” says the current directive.

    It also says that while “speed is essential” for an efficient court system, Crowns must “exercise particular care in conducting bail hearings.”

    The new policy no longer explicitly states that protection of the public is the primary concern, but rather one interest that must be balanced against others, including the liberty interests of the accused. It also urges Crowns to try to complete the bail hearing on the accused's first appearance in bail court.

    “This directive levels the playing field for those who are disproportionately impacted at the bail stage while ensuring the safety of victims and communities,” Attorney General Yasir Naqvi said in a statement. “The new bail policy will help to break the cycle of reoffending, reduce barriers faced by racialized and Indigenous communities, and speed up our criminal justice system to ultimately make our communities safer.”

    The directive was praised by the John Howard Society of Ontario.

    “(The society) has long been recommending an approach to bail that places greater emphasis on the presumption of release and the presumption of innocence, and moves away from the reliance on sureties as a condition for release,” said Michelle Keast, the society's director of the centre of research, policy and program development, in a statement.

    A person who is arrested can either be released by police, or held for a bail hearing, where the Crown can consent to their release or show why they should remain detained. In the case of some offences, the onus to show why the accused should be released falls on the accused person themselves.

    The new policy also tells prosecutors that they must consider the unique circumstances of Indigenous persons at the bail stage.

    “The prosecutor should also consider the distance and remoteness of many Indigenous communities and the barriers that this creates for access to bail hearings and forms of release,” the policy says. “A significant disadvantage is created since the accused is unlikely to have established connections or supports in the community in which the bail hearing is taking place.

    “In these circumstances, seeking the detention of an Indigenous accused should remain an exceptional measure unless the release of the accused would jeopardize the safety and security of the victim and the public.”

    The policy also instructs prosecutors to consider the circumstances of vulnerable and disadvantaged accused persons, including racialized individuals, the homeless and those with mental health and addictions issues.

    “Pretrial detention should never be used as a substitute for mental health or other social measures,” the policy says.

    Bail has been targeted by the Ministry of the Attorney General as one area for improvement in order to speed up the justice system post-Jordan.

    Naqvi announced last year that the province would launch a program of having “embedded” Crown attorneys in police stations to quickly provide bail information upon request, and also to help find alternatives to criminal charges for low-risk, vulnerable offenders. The first embedded Crowns were to be placed in Toronto police's 51 division.

    Naqvi also announced last year plans to expand the bail verification and supervision program across the province. It allows for low-risk offenders who may be impoverished or have no social ties to still be released into the community under supervision, rather than be detained in jail.

    In a separate move, the Ontario Court of Justice, which deals with the bulk of the province's bail hearings, recently announced that judges would replace justices of the peace at all bail hearings in Ottawa and at Toronto's College Park courthouse, as part of a pilot project to explore “whether the introduction of judges' criminal trial experience at the earliest stage of the criminal court process could reduce time to final disposition.”

    Ontario vows new bail policy will be ‘faster and fairer’Ontario vows new bail policy will be ‘faster and fairer’

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    DETROIT—Bobby Hines stepped forward, smiling as he embraced the sister of the man he was convicted of killing.

    Locked up for 28 years, he’d long wanted to meet Valencia Warren-Gibbs, to talk with her about that night in 1989 when her older brother, James, was shot after Hines and two others confronted him in a feud over drugs.

    At 15, Hines had been condemned to life in prison without parole. Now he was out, a 43-year-old man navigating life in a city he left behind as an eighth-grader. Slowly, he was checking off things he needed to do: He’d already found work, enjoyed a meal in an actual restaurant and learned how to take photos with his new cellphone.

    And on this Sunday, 20 days into his freedom, he’d come to sit down with his victim’s sister and take responsibility for his role in Warren’s death.

    “You know why?” he told her, tapping a forefinger on a table for emphasis. “I’m never going to forget what I did.”

    He would not forget but he could make amends, move on and do his best to make the most of his extraordinary second chance. After nearly three decades behind bars, he was learning what it meant to be Bobby Hines again — older, hopefully wiser, and a stranger to the world of 2017.

    Day 1

    “We made it,” Hines declared, almost inaudibly, as if he’d just crossed an imaginary finish line.

    He walked out of prison at 9 a.m. promptly one September morning, arm-in-arm with his sister, Myra, who beamed, laughed and rested her head on her brother’s shoulder as they approached an SUV waiting to whisk him away.

    More than 10,000 days had passed behind bars, but to hear him tell it, Hines had refused to believe he’d die on the inside.

    “God ain’t going to let that happen,” he’d say, ever confident that one day he would find his way to freedom.

    His release came after the U.S. Supreme Court last year extended a ban on mandatory life without parole for juvenile offenders to those already in prison, ushering in a wave of new sentences and the release of dozens of inmates in states from Michigan to Pennsylvania, Arkansas and beyond.

    Other former teen offenders still are waiting for a chance at resentencing in states and counties that have been slow to address the court ruling, an earlier Associated Press investigation found. In Michigan, prosecutors are seeking new no-parole sentences for nearly two-thirds of 363 juvenile lifers. Those cases are on hold until the Michigan Supreme Court, which heard arguments this month, determines whether judges or juries should decide the fate of those inmates.

    Hines, one of at least 99 Michigan lifers already resentenced, wasn’t the gunman. But prosecutors branded him the ringleader in the shooting of James Warren, arguing he’d provoked two other teens, saying something like, “Pop him” or “Let him have it,” when the trio confronted him.

    When Hines left prison on Sept. 12, he faced the same hurdles as other released lifers: He had no money, no job history and no experience as an adult in society — a world he was told he’d never inhabit again. For some, walking out after 30, 40, even 50 years feels a bit like time travel.

    On Day 1, Hines insisted that wasn’t true for him.

    “I’m not overwhelmed,” he said repeatedly to his sister, lawyer and anyone else within earshot. “It’s not as hard as I thought it would be. ... I did 28 years, but I don’t even feel like I’ve been in an institution.”

    He was a small kid, just five-foot-three, when he suddenly found himself trading a middle school ID for an inmate number. Prison was such a brutal environment, he said, he called it the Serengeti, after the African plains teeming with wildlife where survival of the fittest is the rule. In his first decade he got in several fights. Then older inmates became surrogate fathers, teaching him how to behave and keep his cell clean.

    “After awhile,” he said, “you start to adapt ... to depend on incarceration more and more.”

    Eventually, he earned his high school equivalency diploma, took a preparatory business college course and completed a slew of self-help and training programs.

    In June, after he became parole-eligible, Hines was transferred to the Macomb Correctional Facility north of Detroit to join other juvenile lifers who have new sentences and will eventually be released. Prison officials assembled these inmates in one place as they expand existing programs to help them learn about finances, technology and other aspects of daily life. Those with parole dates have access to educational and job training programs that were previously unavailable to them.

    “We’re trying to do a little more because this is such a unique situation,” said Chris Gautz, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Corrections. These inmates had expected to die in prison, he said. “We want to set them up in a way they’re not likely to come back.”

    Most of the juvenile lifers released so far across the U.S. have been out of prison a year or less. Corrections officials in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Louisiana, which together had nearly 1,200 of these inmates, said that, to date, none has violated parole or committed another crime.

    Last winter, Hines began meeting with a volunteer from Project Reentry, a program within the state appellate defender’s office in which graduate social work students help juvenile lifers gear up for release. One student met with Hines, visited his sister to plan his living arrangements and took photos of Myra’s home as part of a comprehensive post-release plan presented to the resentencing judge.

    Hines also had candid conversations with his lawyer, Valerie Newman, a state appellate defender who has secured the release of about a half-dozen juvenile lifers in Michigan in the last year. Her advice to Hines, as it has been with others: Take it slowly.

    “You have to think of yourself as a small child,” she said. “You’re learning to walk; you have to take baby steps. Everything has to be done in small increments, and you have to be good to yourself. There’s a big tendency to get very frustrated. There’s a huge learning curve.”

    Newman expects Hines will do well because of his sister’s support, his willingness to learn new things and his appreciation of his freedom.

    “He carries so much guilt for what happened and what he did,” she said. “A lot of clients feel enormous remorse for what they did, but they learn to come to terms with it. They just want to give back.”

    ‘Detroit used to be so beautiful’

    As he stared out of the SUV window on a busy highway, Hines was surprised by the many small cars and couldn’t help but think of prison.

    “I’m used to living in institutions. You ride in big vans and buses. ... I’ll get used to it,” he vowed to himself. “I get used to everything.”

    When his sister pointed to a shuttered train station that she speculated could be renovated to its former Beaux Arts splendour, Hines teased: “You know, Myra, when you do 28 years in prison, any building is nice.”

    But when he saw parts of 7 Mile Rd. pocked with boarded-up stores and weed-filled lots, he lamented the decline of neighbourhoods he remembered from more prosperous days. “Detroit used to be so beautiful,” he said, his voice trailing off.

    “This neighbourhood has been gone for 25 years, Bob,” his sister replied quietly. She’s her brother’s main support system. Their mother, who’d lobbied for reforms in sentencing laws, didn’t live to see this day, nor did their father. Hines’ twin half-siblings grew into their late 20s without ever meeting him.

    Clutching a dog-eared, pocket-sized red address book bound by a rubber band, Hines pointed out childhood landmarks cemented in his brain: The church he attended with his grandmother. The field where his father, a firefighter, played in a baseball league. The park where he fell off the monkey bars as a toddler, ending with a dash to the emergency room.

    Every place he stopped, there was a new first to experience.

    His first meeting with his parole officer, who established the rules: He must visit every first and third Friday, pay $240 a year for parole supervision and $1,033 in restitution — for the funeral of his victim.

    His first meal, at Royal Barbecue, where he pored over a five-page menu, thrilled he didn’t have to gobble his food down in 10 minutes. He settled on fried chicken, baked beans and coleslaw.

    The restaurant owner greeted Hines. “Welcome back,” he said, shaking his hand. He later slipped Hines an envelope containing $100.

    As he left, Hines rose, bowed his head and pointed a finger toward the sky. “Thank God,” he muttered.

    Getting out, he said, is like being born again. “If you were to die and you were to go to hell and see all of the destruction and fighting and killing down there and God were to breathe life back into you and you were given a second chance — that’s what this is.”

    The last stop for the day was his sister’s tidy green frame home in northwest Detroit at the end of a quiet, almost rural-looking street with a thicket of woods bordering her backyard. Across the street are community gardens where the locals, including Myra, grow vegetables sold in open-air markets.

    Hines carried his life’s belongings — one box and a plastic bag of records and documents — into her house, where he was nuzzled by his sister’s blind Pekingese, Sasha. He then retreated to a picnic table in the yard with his most cherished possessions: the poems and essays he wrote in prison to keep himself sane.

    He thumbed through the stack of paper until he spotted a title, “100 Tools for the Thoughtful Thinker,” Hines’ musings about life, including his role in Warren’s death. According to court records, Warren, 21, took the jacket of a young man who owed him money for drugs. That man then enlisted Hines and others to confront Warren. Hines, who rejected a 20- to 40-year plea, was the last of the three involved in the shooting to be freed.

    Hines doesn’t excuse his past.

    “As a young man, I knew that I had hit rock bottom when I chose to be involved in the taking of another man’s life,” he wrote. “I had the mindset of ... destroying myself and my community. ... I’ve learned that when you take a person’s life ... there is no real true way for you to make that death right with their family members. They will forever be scarred.”

    He then read from a poem he wrote about time, a topic that fascinates him after so many years away.

    “Time,” he said, “is losing 27 of your damndest years. Time is prison. Time is patience. Time is concrete and steel. ... Time is fire and wrath. Time is Mr. James Warren that I killed on a block.”

    He sat back to absorb his words, then explained that over time, he’d grown more aware of the pain he’d caused.

    “The biggest thing in prison ... is to be able to face what you did,” he said. “Once you’re able to face your fears of what you did, then and only then you can move on and be a better person.” It took him 10 years, he said, to realize his error. “I’m angry at myself for allowing my ignorance to lead me down that road.”

    Hines said he was touched by Warren’s sister, Valencia, and their father, Henry, who spoke in support of his release at his March resentencing hearing, saying he’d been punished enough. The judge imposed a 27- to 60-year sentence, paving the way for Hines to win parole.

    Warren-Gibbs was aware of Hines’ release date, and on that day she thought of her brother, James. She was jealous that Hines would be going home to his sister. “I wish it was my brother that I could see,” she said. “I felt guilty. I felt selfish to feel that way.”

    But she was happy, too, and eager to see Hines have an opportunity to rebuild his life. “To me,” she said, “forgiveness is up there with oxygen.”

    Hines understands the family’s loss left a hole in their hearts.

    “If they need me anytime, I’ll be there for them 100 per cent, you know, because they lost a loved one and I’m free,” he said.

    “Let me take that spot. Let me give back.”

    ‘If you need a brother, you got me.’

    Nearly three weeks later, Hines and Warren-Gibbs sat at a table, sowing the seeds of a most unusual friendship.

    Over about three hours at Hines’ lawyer’s office, the two talked about their families, Hines’ reunion with a childhood girlfriend and his new job at an industrial waste company where his sister works. They laughed at times, but spoke, too, of the tragedy that had landed him in prison.

    “Everything you do in this world, you’ve got to pay for,” Hines told her. “You can’t get away with putting things in the universe and not thinking they’re not going to come back and get you.”

    Hines maintained he never urged anyone to shoot Warren, but said he regrets his inaction. “Had I been wise enough ... I could have stopped it.”

    Warren-Gibbs told Hines she’d written him several letters over the years, but never felt comfortable enough to send them. Occasionally, she looked online at his inmate profile, hoping one day his face wouldn’t appear, signalling his release.

    “I wish I could have done more to help,” she said. “I only want the best for you.”

    As the talk turned to the future, Warren-Gibbs spoke of a new bond — “We’re connected,” she proclaimed with a smile — and told Hines she’d like it if he became something of a surrogate brother.

    “If you need a brother, you got me,” he replied. “Anytime you need me, call me.”

    The two exchanged phone numbers, posed for photos they immediately emailed to one another and promised to stay in touch.

    Then they said their goodbyes, hugging tightly. Warren-Gibbs whispered, “Welcome home,” as a tear rolled down her cheek.

    EPILOGUE: Warren-Gibbs recently told the AP she and Hines talk or text every day. He even sent her a photo of his first paycheque, and she plans to have him over for a family dinner. “It really feels,” she said, “like brother and sister.”

    He got life without parole at 15. He just left prison at 43He got life without parole at 15. He just left prison at 43

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    MONTREAL—Few Parliament Hill insiders were surprised by Jason Kenney’s decisive Alberta leadership victory. The former federal Conservative immigration minister has long been considered in an organizational class of his own. He was the chief-architect of the federal party’s outreach in Canada’s diverse cultural communities.

    Kenney may have been less popular than his main rival Brian Jean overall but as former MP Patrick Brown’s own victory in the last Ontario Tory campaign demonstrated, the capacity to bring one’s supporters inside a party tent matters more to the outcome of a leadership vote than one’s standing in the outside world. That can of course be less true in a general election.

    Brown entered the Ontario legislature through the door of a solid Tory riding. Kenney likewise will not face much of a challenge in getting elected to the Alberta legislative assembly.

    In both cases the test of their wider electoral appeal is still to come.

    But as opposed to Brown who as a federal backbencher brought a relatively blank slate to his Ontario bid, Kenney needs no introduction to the national scene.

    That could be a blessing for his provincial party but a curse for Stephen Harper’s rookie successor Andrew Scheer.

    In the past, the presence in Alberta of strong Conservative leaders — liable to overshadow the party’s federal leader nationally — has not been a recipe for success for the conservative movement federally.

    Think of Peter Lougheed and Joe Clark or Ralph Klein and Preston Manning.

    Kenney makes both Lougheed and Klein — despite their respective records as staunch defenders of Alberta’s interests — look like pussycats. He just ran on one of the most antagonistic platforms towards Ottawa and some sister provinces outside of a Parti Québécois leadership campaign.

    Over the past few months Kenney turned his guns on Quebec for allegedly biting the equalization hand that feeds it by not supporting the now-defunct Energy East pipeline. For the same reason, British Columbia whose minority NDP government is against the imminent expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline is in his bad books. And he is itching for a fight against Justin Trudeau’s Liberals — on Alberta terms.

    But what may be a popular scorched-earth federal-provincial approach in Alberta risks becoming a bridge-burning one for Scheer’s federal Conservatives.

    If there is one region where Harper’s successor had no great need for provincial reinforcements it is the Prairies in general and Alberta in particular.

    Just last week, his federal Conservatives won 77 per cent of the byelection vote in Rona Ambrose’s former Edmonton riding. If Scheer had his way he would be happy to transfer some of the surplus Alberta Conservative vote bounty to Quebec where his party finished a distant second in a riding the party had held for a decade under Harper

    To pose a credible threat to Trudeau’s reelection in 2019 the Conservatives may not absolutely need a strong showing in Quebec…as long as they recoup some of the ground lost in B.C. in the last election.

    There as in Quebec, Kenney’s war of words will not be an asset.

    Alberta is not the only source of friendly Conservative fire Scheer will have to worry about between now and the next election.

    In a memo obtained by the Canadian Press last week titled “Napping on NAFTA”, Harper took aim at Canada’s negotiating strategy suggesting — among other things — that its outright rejection of some key American demands was ill-advised.

    Harper’s remarks were circulated among clients (and some would-be ones) of his consulting firm.

    As a former public office holder he is forbidden by law from lobbying the federal government for a period of five years as of the date of his political retirement in 2016. And he does not have much to offer the American lobbies that are natural allies of Canada’s NAFTA’s battle on Capitol Hill.

    From a business standpoint, that leaves the pool of constituencies — mostly in the U.S. — whose interests are not in line with the trade status quo and for whom the renegotiation of NAFTA is an opportunity to wrestle advantageous concessions from Canada.

    From Scheer’s perspective, that makes the optics of an alignment between his federal party and Harper on the NAFTA issue potentially poor ones. Between now and the 2019 campaign, it seems Canada’s leader of the official opposition will have his work cut out for him trying to come across as something more than the puppet of the two strong men of the still-recent Conservative federal era.

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

    Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer will have to figure out how to deal with friendly fire: HébertConservative Leader Andrew Scheer will have to figure out how to deal with friendly fire: Hébert

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    Province approves Toronto Fire request to close an unlicensed group home in Scarborough after a fire in the two-storey residence.

    Unlicensed Toronto group home ordered shut after fireUnlicensed Toronto group home ordered shut after fireUnlicensed Toronto group home ordered shut after fireUnlicensed Toronto group home ordered shut after fire

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    Finance Minister Bill Morneau is in the process this week of selling all of his and his family’s shares in Morneau Shepell, the family firm founded by his father.

    Finance minister Bill Morneau selling off stock holdings in family firmFinance minister Bill Morneau selling off stock holdings in family firm

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    A one-time Pan Am Games employee has apologized to David Peterson after her multimillion sexual harassment lawsuit against the former premier was dismissed by the Ontario Superior Court.

    David Peterson receives apology as sexual harassment lawsuit thrown outDavid Peterson receives apology as sexual harassment lawsuit thrown out

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    Key elements of Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava account are contradicted by authorities, and are not consistent with weather reports or basic geography of the Pacific Ocean.

    Inconsistencies cast doubt on U.S. women’s harrowing tale of sea survivalInconsistencies cast doubt on U.S. women’s harrowing tale of sea survival

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    Bishop Wayne Jones testifies in his defence at trial where he faces charges of sexual assault, theft and administering a noxious substance.

    Sex with congregation members was consensual, pastor tells court: DimannoSex with congregation members was consensual, pastor tells court: Dimanno

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    Here’s what we know about public disclosure of assets and investments for Ottawa’s most powerful politicians

    What we know about public disclosure of assets and investments for Ottawa’s most powerful politiciansWhat we know about public disclosure of assets and investments for Ottawa’s most powerful politicians

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