- RSS Channel Showcase 5191595
- RSS Channel Showcase 8708595
- RSS Channel Showcase 7077901
- RSS Channel Showcase 9506706
Articles on this Page
- 09/09/17--03:00: _Why the CBC’s Carol...
- 09/09/17--09:00: _Minnan-Wong discove...
- 09/09/17--07:50: _Egypt announces dis...
- 09/09/17--07:31: _‘People will die fr...
- 09/09/17--22:22: _Off-duty Peel polic...
- 09/09/17--15:22: _Man, 52, second wor...
- 09/09/17--14:30: _How to find a celeb...
- 09/08/17--13:00: _One year after this...
- 09/10/17--04:00: _New book on Canadia...
- 09/10/17--03:00: _A Canadian is poise...
- 09/10/17--03:00: _How Melvin Mingo pu...
- 09/10/17--04:24: _‘Pray for everybody...
- 09/10/17--10:01: _Hamilton church aim...
- 09/11/17--15:27: _Kathleen Wynne is n...
- 09/12/17--06:07: _Republicans are bai...
- 09/11/17--14:21: _One-third of Ontari...
- 09/11/17--15:10: _Ontario health syst...
- 09/11/17--20:54: _Canadians return ho...
- 09/11/17--09:01: _Durham police chief...
- 09/12/17--05:42: _Woman's torso found...
- 09/09/17--07:50: Egypt announces discovery of 3,500-year-old tomb in Luxor
- 09/09/17--22:22: Off-duty Peel police officer, passenger killed in Mississauga crash
- 09/09/17--14:30: How to find a celebrity at the Toronto International Film Festival
- 09/10/17--03:00: How Melvin Mingo pulled off one of Canada’s biggest bank heists
- 09/11/17--15:27: Kathleen Wynne is no nanny on marijuana sales: Cohn
- 09/11/17--15:10: Ontario health system headed for ‘crisis’ with overcrowded hospitals
- 09/11/17--20:54: Canadians return home after harrowing encounter with Irma
- 09/11/17--09:01: Durham police chief vows to call SIU in future incidents
- 09/12/17--05:42: Woman's torso found floating near Oshawa Harbour
Asad Aryubwal wanted a safe Afghanistan. When he was a boy in Kabul, his father’s family owned the biggest movie theatre in town, Aryub Cinema, and he remembers the young men and women dating in the open, blue jeans, religious freedom. After the Saur Revolution in 1978, his father was arrested and never seen again. Then the wars came in endless waves, forcing him to flee his home three times.
By the time CBC journalist Carol Off came to Kabul, he was a married father of five and he was tired of the violence. He wanted the world to know that teaming up with warlords to fight the Taliban was not a good idea.
Off was a journalist who could take his words to the world — and so in 2002, he helped her access different locations and agreed to an on-camera interview talking about life under Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum. He did it again when Off returned to film an update in 2006. There were consequences both times, but in 2007 he was ultimately told: leave Afghanistan or die.
Off has always considered herself an old-fashioned journalist: you tell the story, you keep your distance. This is the story she couldn’t walk away from.
In their Toronto home this summer, the Aryubwal family talk about their eight-year journey to Canada, which Off has written about in her book All We Leave Behind. Robina Aryubwal, the oldest child, now 29, says it was hard for everybody involved, including the journalist.
“I didn’t suffer,” Off interjects, quietly, sitting on the floor.
“She suffered more than our family,” Robina says.
“No. No. There’s no comparing,” Off says in that forceful voice Canadians are used to hearing on the radio. “I was always secure. I was always safe. I was always OK. I lived a normal life.”
The man who brought Carol Off and the Aryubwal family together is Abdul Rashid Dostum. The warlord turned Afghan vice-president is an ethnic Uzbek who holds great power in the north of Afghanistan and has been accused of human rights abuses. He is known for switching allegiances to survive — “more often than some people change socks,” as Off writes in her book. In the ’90s, when Afghanistan descended into civil war, he was one of the warlords battling for control.
It was out of that chaos that the Taliban rose to power, and when it did, Dostum teamed up with some of his former enemies to form the Northern Alliance to fight the Taliban.
The CIA put them on the payroll after 9/11, even though allegations of human rights abuses and violence were known, says Aisha Ahmad, an international security professor at the University of Toronto and author of Jihad & Co.
It was “counter-insurgency on the cheap,” she explains — and the warlords “were very happy to take the sacks of cash and crates full of guns and then restart their bid for power that they lost during the civil war.”
At the time, warlords were considered by U.S. officials to be the “expedient way to check the Taliban,” she says, “even though many analysts were screaming about the fact that you are going to set in motion forces that you can’t control.”
Dostum’s forceswere accused of murdering hundreds or possibly thousands of Taliban prisoners of war in 2001, as reported in investigations by the New York Times and Newsweek, and Physicians for Human Rights, who discovered a mass grave in 2002. (Dostum, through a spokesperson, has said that any deaths in the prison transfer were unintentional, and the numbers were not as high as those in media reports.)
Allegations like these were why Off came to Afghanistan in 2002 — to find out just who the U.S. had partnered with in fighting the Taliban.
Asad Aryubwal and his family had lived in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif for a few years in the 1990s. Dostum’s northern stronghold was a relatively safe option during the civil war. Asad ran a wholesale business, but he says he had to join Dostum’s army to keep his family and property safe. He was named a general, but was a “glorified gofer,” as Off notes in her book. He worked in logistics, supervising construction sites and the like, but he told Off he never had a weapon, and “prayed that would never be ordered to do more.”
His wife, Mobina, was worried it wasn’t safe to talk on camera, but she was proud of her husband. She was a teacher and they both believed in the power of education, equality and that he was doing the right thing.
Asad travelled to the north with the CBC team, helping them gain access to Dostum’s fortress and people who might be useful to their story. Thanks to Aryubwal, “we had evidence that significant offences against human rights had occurred under General Dostum’s authority,” Off writes.
When Off and her team (producer Heather Abbott and cameraman Brian Kelly) first met the Aryubwals, the family was living in Kabul, where life had improved since international forces had arrived. Schools reopened and the girls were star students. Women weren’t forced to wear the burka.
“We had a good feeling,” Robina says. “We really loved these independent, strong women who came all the way from Canada to Afghanistan.”
Off returned home, and later won a Gemini for In the Company of Warlords. Back in Afghanistan, the Aryubwals made the eight-hour drive for a summer vacation in Mazar-e-Sharif. It was here, she writes, that one of Dostum’s men found Asad, and told him he shouldn’t have spoken to the CBC.
He didn’t tell Off about this warning. She had done her job, and he was hopeful that Afghanistan would improve. When she returned in 2006 to film an update, he spoke on camera again.
Dostum’s people found out, and a commander visited the family’s home in Kabul: “Instead of execution, Asad’s punishment would be banishment,” Off writes.
“I am actually astonished that this gentleman spoke out and got out alive,” says U of T’s Ahmad. “Dostum has publicly boasted about shocking acts of violence he has perpetrated against his opponents.”
Back in Toronto, Off hadn’t heard from the Aryubwals. She knew Robina had started law school in Kabul and she imagined their lives were busy, as hers was. She had started a new job as co-host of CBC Radio’s As It Happens in the fall of 2007, when the phone call came from a stranger.
The man was told to find Off when he arrived in Toronto and tell her Asad needed to speak to her.
Off imagined it was about Robina. She had been in Paris to study for a month and perhaps she wanted to continue her schooling in Canada. Off emailed her, but didn’t hear back.
In January 2008, Off was travelling to Pakistan to report on the election after Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. She had been in touch with the family, and knew they were living in Pakistan, but she didn’t know the details. In an Islamabad hotel room, she learned about the warnings in 2002, and the banishment. She asked Asad why he had spoken to her.
As he spoke in Pashto, the faces around her crumpled into tears. She waited on Robina’s translation.
“Because if I had not spoken up, if I had not told you the truth of what was happening, I would never be able to look into the eyes of my children again.”
So many times in her career, she had thought: “Geez, I wish I could help you but you know I can’t really do anything … but I feel your pain.”
There was always an invisible line separating her from her sources.
“Once I had looked over my shoulder and seen what the consequences had been of those interviews,” she says, “I knew I could never walk away from that either as a journalist or a human being.”
She would help them come to Canada. Asad told her she was the family’s only hope. It was unusual for the self-reliant man to say something so dire to someone he hardly knew.
Off thought: how hard could it be?
Problems were quick to appear. Asad’s refugee application was rejected because the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees confused him with another man, Off writes. The application was soon back on track but the process was fraught.
At the UNHCR office, Asad bristled when his name was called out, or when a security guard loudly asked about his situation in front of others. Strangers sometimes approached with schemes, money in exchange for influence with the application.
Living in Peshawar, on the Afghan-Pakistani border, the family did not feel safe. Off sent money, and Asad and Mobina used it to send their children to school. If they were five minutes late, their father would call their mobiles. Where are you?
In 2012, their oldest son, Muhammad, went to the market to buy tomatoes. He was stopped by police and asked for ID. He had forgotten his university card at home, and they took him to jail.
“I spent three nights with people who were addicted to drugs and criminals and killers,” he says, now 26, wearing a Blue Jays hat as he sits on a stool in the kitchen.
You were so young, says Off, who experienced these crises through phone calls and texts.
The police threatened to deport Muhammad. Asad wondered if it was a plot to get him to follow his son back into the country.
In 2014, their youngest child Hossna came home from school crying. The Army Public School in Peshawar had been attacked by Taliban gunmen, and her teacher told her: “It’s all because of you.”
Robina felt that one of the biggest problems with the refugee process was corruption. Things moved so slowly. In Toronto, Off woke early to phone the other side of the world, to push the case along, asking for information from the UNHCR office or the Canadian High Commission in Pakistan. She saw it as part of her job. She knows other journalists might disagree. She might have, years ago.
“I saw it definitely as something that was my responsibility … to help get them out of the mess that I put them in.”
Robina had a hard time sleeping, and when Off’s emails came, sometimes in the middle of the night, she’d wake her parents tell them the latest news, occasionally embellishing to see the “glow” in their faces.
In the kitchen, Mobina nods, tears in her eyes.
“It was the only happiness for us,” says Hossai, 27.
There were days when they felt like giving up. “Maybe one of our family members will be kidnapped, the other will get upset, get depression,” Robina says of the future she imagined. “One by one our family would be finished.”
She says Off would tell them there would be light at the end of the tunnel.
“We had no jobs, no money, but Carol sent us money to live,” she continues. “We went to school with that.”
“It’s because of Carol we have our bachelors,” Hossai says.
“It’s all because of Carol,” Robina says.
“You were family,” Off says quietly. “You were my family.”
Off has not heard them talk about her like this, and in some ways, it is painful, how concerned about her they have always been amid their own troubles. Later, on the phone, she explains that she had to push Asad into including the CBC documentary as the reason he had to flee Afghanistan when he was filling out his asylum application.
“He didn’t want to get me in this trouble or cause me any grief,” she says. “Their feelings of concern for me, all the time … that’s who they are. There is nothing selfish in them.”
In 2013, UNHCR recommended the Aryubwals as good candidates for settlement in Canada, and many people wanted to help. Two church groups had signed on to sponsor, but each had to change plans as time dragged on with no news. In 2014, the interview at the Canadian High Commission went well. Off sent the family encouraging emails, but privately worried she was giving false hope. Before Christmas, she thought about draining her bank account, sending it to the family, and walking away.
In Peshawar, Asad also thought about walking away — returning to Afghanistan, to Dostum — telling him he could do whatever he wanted if his family would be safe.
In 2015, Off brought immigration lawyer Lorne Waldman in to help. He found out the family’s security checks cleared in 2014. He filed an application in federal court to find out why the file was held up. Not long after, the family was approved as government-assisted refugees. Off sent Robina a text to check out a map.
“We were laughing and crying together,” Hossai says.
The process took eight painful years, or nine, depending on when you start your count.
Asad goes to another room and returns with a framed photo of him and his sons at the Santa Claus parade in Hamilton in 2015, a few days after arriving in Canada. The family was sent to Hamilton because they didn’t have relatives in Toronto. They talk about how hard it was in those first months to shake the old feelings of insecurity. Robina remembers going for a walk, and telling her mother to slow down. No one was after them in Steeltown.
In October 2016, the family moved to Toronto.
Asad works as a dishwasher at the Carlu. Mobina started a business, making samosas and mantus (dumplings) which the family sells at the Wychwood market on Saturdays.
Youngest daughter Hossna is in Grade 11. Mujeeb and Hossai work at O&B restaurant in Bayview village. Muhammad has applied to Ryerson for engineering, which he studied in Pakistan. He makes deliveries for a pharmacy, and enjoys driving around the city. Robina studies at U of T’s Mississauga campus. She hopes to one day go to law school.
Both Muhammad and Mujeeb have their drivers’ licences, and everyone else in the family is in the process. They all look at Robina.
“In Afghanistan I was wearing the chador,” Robina begins, as the room erupts in laughter. “In Pakistan I was . . .”
“So why is Hossai doing so well?” Off asks.
“Oh my God, she just gets frozen when she is turning the wheel,” her younger brother Mujeeb says. “You have to drive with her some time.”
“No!” Off says. “I’m not going to.”
Asad closes his eyes in laughter. He has always wanted security for Afghanistan. To find safety in Canada is bittersweet. He wants his children to go to school and change this country for the better.
“We are Canadians, with no citizenship, but we will get that,” Mujeeb says. “This is our Afghanistan.”
On a recent Friday, Mobina and her daughters Robina and Hossna were frying beef, cutting vegetables and making dough for their dumplings and samosas, at a commercial kitchen loaned to the family. Asad came in to help before a dishwashing shift downtown.
“In Afghanistan, businessperson,” he said, smiling as he scraped onion skin. “Here, kitchen worker.”
Mobina was a teacher in the years when the Taliban weren’t calling the shots. She taught high school literature.
“Oh I miss,” she said, dreamily, stirring spices into the ground beef in the pan. Then she starts reciting some verses in Dari.
“Whatever you want to do, it’s your own personal choice,” Robina translates. “But never bother anyone else.”
The Aryubwal family closely follows the news in Afghanistan, which often involves Dostum.
In 2013, he made a public apology to all who had suffered in Afghanistan’s wars, paving his way to run for vice-president on the same ticket as President Ashraf Ghani, who had only a few years earlier called his running mate a “known killer.”
Romain Malejacq, a political scientist at the Centre for International Conflict Analysis and Management at Radboud University in the Netherlands, is writing a book about warlords.
In Afghanistan, he says, many of these people with “a proven ability to organize violence,” are involved in politics, like Dostum.
“If the state collapses or gets weaker and weaker, you will see that these men, I believe, will assert more autonomy in their previous territories, and might become what I call active warlords again,” he says.
“Warlords exert power in different ways today but they remain warlords.”
Dostum’s tenure as vice-president has been volatile. He is currently in Turkey, in what has been described as exile, amid allegations that he was behind the abduction and sexual torture of a political rival, former Jowzjan Province Gov. Ahmad Ishchi, last November. He has denied the charges, allegations that Amnesty International has called “stomach churning.”
Off tried to interview Dostum when making the documentary, but once the family was in peril, she didn’t try, for fear it would endanger them.
“I think that exposing him and what he did to the light of day kind of inoculates them to some extent,” Off says.
When she wanted to write the book, the Aryubwals were on board. They wanted people to know what happened to them, and they wanted to highlight problems in their long journey to Canada in the hopes that life might be easier for refugees who don’t have a “Carol Off.”
Off felt that as a result of telling the family’s story, people might understand “what others are going through out there.”
The Aryubwals have mourned the death of Off’s father and celebrated the births of her granddaughters. She has celebrated their birthdays and milestones, and chided Asad for his smoking habit. They are friends.
Before Off is sent out the door with a bag of leftovers, Robina says even though Off isn’t a blood relation, she is “more than a blood connection.”
“Wait till I start making demands on you, wait and see,” Off says. “I’m the oldest, OK? So you have to take care of me when I’m an old lady.
“That would be our pleasure,” Hossai says.
“I will be a really miserable old lady,” Off says. “You will regret this. You’ll say, how do we get rid of this old lady who is so miserable?”
“Never,” Hossai says.
I’m not an expert on the origin of phrases or etymology — so rather than write about a particular controversy at Toronto City Hall revolving around the meaning of a seemingly sexist phrase, Deputy Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong might tell me I should “stick to my knitting.”
Or maybe he’d put it differently, after the week he’s had.
Minnan-Wong was quoted last week saying he hoped that the next chief planner of the city would “stick to the knitting” rather than wading into public debates on social media.
The phrase typically means something similar to “mind your own business,” “tend your own garden” or “stay in your lane.”
Some people took exception to his choice of words — in particular, saying that it was a sexist phrase, given that knitting is traditionally considered a feminine activity. Among them was the obvious target of his criticism, outgoing chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat.
“He might as well have told me to go back to the kitchen,” Keesmaat said on Thursday morning in an interview on CBC radio. “I think it’s a deeply offensive comment.”
She wasn’t alone in that interpretation, with councillors Mary-Margaret McMahon, Mike Layton and Joe Cressy publicly joining her in hearing it as a variation of “stick to women’s stuff” — perhaps a folksier version of the internet-misogynist favourite “make me a sandwich.”
After the outcry that bubbled up, Mayor John Tory called the comment inappropriate.
Minnan-Wong said his words had been taken out of context. “However, I unreservedly apologize to Ms. Keesmaat or anyone else who may have taken offence.”
But his claim that he didn’t intend it as a gendered comment — he also used the phrase publicly in 2012 in regards to a man, then-chief medical officer of health Dr. David McKeown, for example — has plenty of defenders. The same defence is brought out every year or two when a similar controversy erupts here or elsewhere over the use and interpretation of the phrase, as a quick Google search shows.
They point out that the phrase is in fairly common use in the business and startup community, most often employed not as an insult to others but as a piece of advice or even a self-applied mantra. Executives and entrepreneurs tend to use the phrase as a warning to themselves not to be distracted or to overly diversify their businesses — in this context saying “we should stick to our knitting” as a synonym for “let’s keep our eyes on the prize.”
It was likely most popularized in that way because of the widely read 1982 management book In Search of Excellence, by Tom Peters and Robert H. Waterman Jr., which has an entire chapter entitled “Stick to the Knitting,” a principle the authors say is one of eight themes common to successful companies.
But the use of the phrase in this way seems to stretch back almost a century. In an online language and usage forum at the website StackExchange.com, a user named Sven Yargs cited published examples of the phrase and variations of it in books stretching back to the late 1800s.
For example, in 1898, he finds the book The Pharmaceutical EraThe Pharmaceutical Era, advising advertisers not to put the Spanish-American War into their ads: “As much as we admire the drum major, we should remember that there is the quartermaster somewhere in the rear, who in the din and glory of battle, must remain unrattled and calmly figure out problems of bean rations and army mules. He must attend strictly to business, and the advertiser must do the same. There is a homely old injunction, which originated in our homespun days, which the advertiser might recall. It is this: ‘Stick to your knitting.’ ”
Similar examples are found around the same time and in the decades that follow. Yargs cites another typical example from 1918’s proceedings of the National Safety Council: “My advice to all men is to stick to your knitting and take care of your committees.”
Interestingly, Yargs finds that a much earlier, similar phrase, “attend to your knitting,” has an unmistakably gendered meaning — offered as stunningly demeaning advice to wives tempted to offer advice to their husbands in an 1839 issue of Evangelical MagazineEvangelical Magazine: “Your mind is too feeble, your discernment too contracted, your general ignorance vastly too great to become my adviser! — attend to your knitting and sewing, look after the cooking, take care of the children — for these are all the subjects which you have ability to comprehend!”
This meaning appears to be what Keesmaat and others understood Minnan-Wong to mean when he spoke recently. The other meaning, the one men in business often apply to themselves, is what Minnan-Wong claims to have intended.
I don’t see a reason to doubt him, necessarily. In my research and conversations about this, the world seems to be divided into people unfamiliar with the phrase who think it is obviously sexist upon hearing it and those who are very familiar with the phrase and are astonished to learn anyone would think it is sexist.
But that divide points to a good reason Minnan-Wong and others may want to retire it from their rhetorical arsenals — especially if they are using it as an insult.
An analogy or expression of speech is only useful if it helps you to make your point more clearly and elegantly. If half of your audience takes you to mean something different, and far more offensive, than you intend, then your turn of phrase is hurting rather than helping your cause.
And if you need to spend hours explaining the meaning and history of a term in your own defence, you have lost any semblance of elegance or clarity, and you have missed the chance to make your point.
You could say your yarn spins out of control. Or that you lose your needle in a haystack. Or that your stitches get twisted.
Or you could just stick to your . . . uh, area of expertise.
LUXOR, EGYPT—Egypt on Saturday announced the discovery in the southern city of Luxor of a pharaonic tomb belonging to a royal goldsmith who lived more than 3,500 years ago during the reign of the 18th dynasty.
The tomb, located on the west bank of the river Nile in a cemetery for noblemen and top officials, is a relatively modest discovery, but one that authorities has announced with a great deal of fanfare in a bid to boost the country’s slowly recovering tourism industry.
“We want tomorrow’s newspapers to speak about Egypt and make people want to come to Egypt,” Antiquities Minister Khaled el-Anani told reporters.
El-Anani said the tomb was not in good condition, but it contains a statue of the goldsmith and his wife as well as a funerary mask. He said a shaft inside the tomb contained pottery as well as mummies and coffins belonging to ancient Egyptian people who lived during the 21st and 22nd dynasties.
The minister identified the goldsmith as Amunhat.
The tomb was discovered by Egyptian archeologists, something that a senior official at the Antiquities Ministry hailed as evidence of their growing professionalism and expertise.
“We used to escort foreign archeologists as observers, but that’s now in the past. We are the leaders now,” said Mustafa Waziri, Luxor’s chief archeologist.
That represented a significant turn in the forecast, which for days had made it look as if the Miami metropolitan area of 6 million people was going to get slammed head-on by the Big One.
“You don’t want to play with this thing,” Sen. Marco Rubio warned during a visit to the Miami-Dade Emergency Operations Center. “People will die from this.”
Forecasters predicted Irma’s centre would blow ashore Sunday in the perilously low-lying Florida Keys, then hit southwestern Florida, move up the state’s Gulf Coast and plow into the Tampa Bay area.
The storm centre itself is expected to miss Miami, but the metro area will still get pounded with life-threatening hurricane winds, National Hurricane Center spokesman Dennis Feltgen said.
Tampa has not been struck by a major hurricane since 1921, when its population was about 10,000, Feltgen said. Now the area has around 3 million people and encompasses two of Florida’s biggest cities: Tampa and St. Petersburg.
The biggest danger to life and property from Hurricane Irma could come from storm surge that forces seawater inland, which could topple houses, isolate residents who don’t evacuate and make drowning an imminent threat, the National Hurricane Center is warning.
Storm surge occurs when heavy winds push the ocean onto the land, and it’s a destructive feature of many cyclones and hurricanes, including Hurricane Harvey in Texas last month. Irma’s surge could top 3.6 metres in areas of the Florida coast, and some surge is predicted up and down the state’s Atlantic and Gulf coasts.
The most severe storm surge is projected for a more than 322-kilometre stretch of southern Florida coast from Miami to north of Fort Myers, while the Florida Keys also are expected to see significant surge.
Irma battered Cuba on Saturday with deafening winds and relentless rain, pushing seawater inland that flooded homes and knocked out power across a wide area. Elsewhere in the Caribbean, islands already reeling from Irma prepared for a second pounding — from Hurricane Jose.
The twin Category 4 storms had desperate residents seeking shelter across the region. In Cuba, high winds from Irma upended trees, toppled utility poles and scattered debris across streets. Roads were blocked, and witnesses said a provincial museum near the eye of the storm was in ruins after being buffeted by brutal squalls.
On the French overseas islands of St. Martin and St. Barts, Jose was expected to bring torrential rains and dangerous rip currents.
“The protection and shelter of people already harshly tested by Irma is the priority,” officials said in a statement. More than 1,100 police, military officials and others have been deployed to both islands to provide help. Crews were evacuating the sick and injured to nearby Guadeloupe.
The last airplane flew in to the battered Grande-Case de Saint Martin airport Friday carrying emergency workers to help with reconstruction as well as specialists who aim to re-establish the island’s cutoff water supply and electricity. Remaining mothers and children were flown out Friday in small 40-person capacity planes.
Irma claimed at least 20 lives as it levelled islands in the Caribbean and headed toward Florida, where a massive evacuation was in progress. The hurricane centre said the storm slowed down after slamming into Cuba’s northern coast, but that wind speeds would likely regain momentum as it approached the Sunshine State.
Early Saturday, the hurricane centre said the storm was centred about 145 kilometres east-southeast of Varadero, Cuba, with maximum sustained winds of 205 km/h. Soldiers and government workers earlier had gone through coastal towns enforcing the evacuation, taking people to shelters at government buildings and schools — and even caves.
Many of Irma’s victims fled their islands on ferries and fishing boats as Jose approached, threatening destruction for anything Irma might have left untouched. Early Saturday, Jose was located about 190 kilometres east of the northern Leeward Islands. The storm was moving to the northwest at 20 km/h, with maximum sustained winds of 230 km/h, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.
Hurricane warnings were in effect for Dutch Sint Maarten, St. Martin and St. Barthelemy, and tropical storm warnings were in effect for Barbuda and Anguilla, as well as Saba and St. Eustatius.
Some islands, though, received a last-minute reprieve as a hurricane warning for Barbuda and Anguilla was downgraded to a tropical storm. Both islands were devastated by Irma.
Many residents and tourists were left reeling after Irma ravaged some of the world’s most exclusive tropical playgrounds, known for their turquoise waters and lush green vegetation. Among them: St. Martin, St. Barts, St. Thomas, Barbuda and Anguilla.
Irma smashed homes, shops, roads and schools; knocked out power, water and telephone service; trapped thousands of tourists; and stripped trees of their leaves, leaving an eerie, blasted-looking landscape littered with sheet metal and splintered lumber.
The dead included 11 on St. Martin and St. Barts, four in the U.S. Virgin Islands, four in the British Virgin Islands and one each on Anguilla and Barbuda.
Also, a 16-year-old junior professional surfer drowned Tuesday in Barbados while surfing large swells generated by an approaching Irma.
French authorities said Saturday that some 1,105 workers are now deployed St. Martin and St. Barts to help the islands’ recovery. By Saturday, damage estimated to have already reached the $1.44 billion mark — pockmarking the islands that have become famous as lush playgrounds for the rich and famous.
It’s still not known if U.S. President Donald Trump’s luxury property on St. Martin has been damaged by the storm.
An off-duty Peel police officer was one of two people killed early Saturday morning when the car he was driving was involved in a single vehicle crash in Mississauga, police said.
Peel police confirmed that the officer, who was driving the car, and one passenger, were pronounced dead at the scene just before 3 a.m. at the intersection of Avonhead Rd. and Lakeshore Rd.
Peel police Const. Rachel Gibbs confirmed one other passenger in the car was taken to hospital in serious condition following the crash.
“The flags will now fly at half-mast out of respect for our fallen friend,” said Peel Police Chief Jennifer Evans in a statement Saturday.
The Peel police said Toronto police would take over the investigation. Anyone with information is asked to contact investigators with Toronto Police Traffic Services at 416-808-1900.
A worker killed at a construction site Friday is Toronto’s second elevator-related fatality in the last two weeks.
Sean McCormick, manager of the International Union of Elevator Constructors, Local 50, confirmed by Twitter that Tim DesGrosseilliers died Friday afternoon.
The deadly incident happened on the construction site for the University of Toronto’s new Centre for Engineering Innovation and Entrepreneurship on the downtown St. George Campus.
DesGrosseilliers, 52, was killed after being pinned by a piece of falling equipment while he was working in the elevator shaft, Toronto police said. A second worker was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
The university’s online news site published a notice saying the general contractor is working with the Ministry of Labour.
“This is something we never want to see happen on our campuses and our deepest sympathies go out to those affected,” said Scott Mabury, vice-president of operations at the university, according to the website.
“We are working with the ministry and the general contractor to determine the series of events that led to the accident.”
On Aug. 25, Grant Davidson, 55, was pronounced dead on scene after an industrial accident involving an elevator.
Paramedics said Davidson was working on the elevator when a “mishap” occurred near St. Clair Ave. and Oriole Rd. just after 11 a.m. and that the coroner’s office had been notified.
With files from Moira Welsh
With files from Moira Welsh
If you stroll downtown along King Street this weekend, you’ll likely find yourself weaving around hordes of fans with cameras and stepstools hoping for an A-plus view of Hollywood A-listers. But getting that glimpse requires patience and stamina.
Is there a better way for the average fest-goers to find the stars? We were determined to find out.
“We hold each other’s spots for the washroom, for food,” said Mariah Smith, in town from St. Catharines, along with Helena Mirzoyan. They have made it an annual tradition to wake up at the crack of dawn and make their way into the fenced-off “fan zone” outside theatres before big premieres.
The two had been waiting in prime red carpet viewing position since 9 a.m. for Friday’s premiere of I, Tonyastarring Margot Robbie, who plays competitive ice skater Tonya Harding — more than 12 hours before showtime.
They weren’t lining up for the screening — they have no tickets to TIFF films — but only for the chance to get up close and personal with stars.
“I’m excited to see Sebastian Stan,” Smith says. “We’re hoping for a photo.”
Several years ago, Smith and Mirzoyan met and bonded doing what they loved: waiting, and waiting, and finally meeting celebrities. Now they’re friends who meet up annually to participate in stargazing.
“This is my sixth year,” Smith says. “I like movies, and I like the people in movies.”
But not everyone has their level of patience. So I set out with one mission: to get close to the boldface without the commitment of waiting endlessly by the red carpet.
How did that pan out? I wound up in the same room as Idris Elba, Jessica Chastain and Margot Robbie, and even traded backpacks with Ben Schwartz.
Most nightlife events are private, and even if you happen to catch a celebrity outside their ritzy hotel or at a restaurant in Yorkville, they’re likely being corralled by five security guards into their cars. So how exactly do you find them?
Thanks to a tip from a coworker, I went to a King West restaurant-turned-photo-studio guarded by security. I threw on my shades, held one phone to my ear, held another in my hand along with a Fiji water, and attempted to stroll past the security guards. The point was to appear busy and uninterested in the scene — and it worked!
As I made my way to the door, a private car stopped out front as a small crowd of fans swarmed and screamed “Margot Robbie! Margot Robbie!” Some were waving pens and photos hoping she’d stop for an autograph, but when she got out she was hastily escorted into the building.
Luckily, I had already passed the security point, so as she and her entourage entered the studio I was able to catch a photo of her just five metres from where I was standing.
Then, in the corner of my eye, I spotted comedian Ben Schwartz (I’m a big Parks and Recreation fan). I noticed he had the same backpack that was given to us at the gifting suites — for a previous story — mine was solid grey, while his was black with polka dots. After convincing him the grey one suited him better, he agreed to trade.
“This is what this festival is all about!” he said as we awkwardly squatted, tossing the contents of our old bags into our new ones.
Then, car after car pulled up to the curb. Idris Elba made his way into the studio, followed by his Molly’s Game co-star Jessica Chastain as they waved to the few dedicated fans who caught wind of the secretive event.
Other passerby who saw the crowd crossed the street and joined into the huddle, curious to see which stars were just steps away. But how did everyone else figure it out?
“I found out because my cousin works across the street,” 24-year-old Nolan Curry said, pointing up at a midrise commercial building. “I’ve been here almost all day.”
Curry says that it’s only his second time stargazing at TIFF, but the key is to “be patient and know where to go.”
“Some stars are heavily guarded by security, they just run and push everyone away,” he continues. “Saw Margot, but I couldn’t have gotten a photo. Everyone was swarming her.”
Despite missing out on the I, Tonya star, Curry’s day has been productive. His most prized photo from the event? A close-up selfie with Chastain.
“I really enjoy it, and I’ll probably be looking out for the rest of the festival,” Curry says.
So how do you find the stars? Be patient, have a game plan, listen for word of mouth (or have family members who work across the swanky venues on King). If you see a crowd — join it. Act like you don’t really want to be there. And, finally, bring a nice backpack for celebrity tradesies.
One year after the workplace accident that killed his sister-in-law, what Alusine Jabbi remembers most about the day she died is his confusion.
Where is Amina?
Why can’t anyone tell me what happened?
Why is everyone still working?
It was Sept. 2, 2016 when Jabbi rushed to Fiera Foods’ factory on Marmora St., near the intersection of Highway 400 and the 401. He had just received a call from a friend who worked at the factory telling him that his brother’s wife, Amina Diaby, had been in a serious accident.
Jabbi, who has been in Canada five years longer than his brother and is more fluent in English, was listed as his sister-in-law’s emergency contact.
Just a couple hours earlier he had dropped Diaby off for her afternoon shift at the industrial bakery, which mass-produces bagels, croissants and pastries for major grocery stores and fast-food chains around the world.
A 23-year-old refugee from Guinea, Diaby was hired through a temp agency and had been working at Fiera Foods for just two weeks. It was her first job in Canada. She was hoping to save money for nursing school.
When Jabbi arrived at the factory, frantic, he says he was met with blank stares from other workers and vague instructions to head to the nearest hospital. He was surprised that the factory was still buzzing with production. Trucks were being loaded as if nothing had happened. It seemed to Jabbi like it was business as usual.
At the time, this comforted him.
“I was thinking, ‘You know what, she’s OK because this is Canada,” he said in a recent interview with the Star. “If somebody dies at a job site or something really bad happens, they would stop.”
Diaby was already dead. She was strangled when her hijab was pulled into a machine as she worked on an assembly line near a conveyor belt.
Jabbi got the call from the doctor while he was on the way to the hospital. “I almost crashed my car,” he says.
In response to Diaby’s death, the Ministry of Labour investigated the accident and slapped Fiera Foods with 38 orders for health and safety violations. They included two “stop-work” orders — indicating a hazard so great that production must cease immediately — for a conveyor belt that did not have an emergency stop button and also lacked “adequate guarding” to prevent things from being caught in machinery.
Fiera Foods complied with the orders. Last month, the Ministry of Labour charged the company and one of its supervisors under the Occupational Health and Safety Act specifically for the lack of guarding and for failing to ensure loose clothing was not worn near a “source of entanglement.”
The first court appearance is next Thursday.
If found guilty, an individual can be fined up to $25,000 and face as much as a year in jail; while a corporation can be fined up to $500,000.
Toronto police are also investigating the year-old incident. To date, no charges have been laid.
Fiera Foods owners, Boris Serebryany and Alex Garber, refused to be interviewed for this story. The company’s lawyer and human resources manager, David Gelbloom, did respond to some of the Star’s questions in writing.
“Fiera believes it took adequate measures to protect Ms. Diaby,” he writes. Gelbloom refused to comment further due to the pending trial for the Ministry of Labour charges.
Jabbi says he doesn’t have the words to express how his sister-in-law’s death has affected his family.
Outgoing and talkative, Diaby made instant connections with the people she met, he says.
“If you’re in a room with Amina you’re going to be laughing, whether you like it or not.”
She arrived in Canada in 2012 after fleeing a forced marriage in Guinea. She met Alusine’s brother, Sanunu Jabbi, himself a refugee from Sierra Leone, through a family connection in Toronto’s West African community. They were married that same year.
Even before she could speak English, Diaby would somehow strike up animated conversations with storekeepers and strangers on the street, Alusine Jabbi says. “She was always talking.”
She was beloved by her niece and three nephews, and she enjoyed going out to eat at the Mandarin Chinese food buffet. She earned the nickname “Aunty Amina” for how she mothered everyone. “Amina was something else.”
Jabbi said he is pleased someone at Fiera will have to account for what happened, even if only to the Ministry of Labour. But he and his brother have been frustrated by the lack of information provided by all authorities involved.
After initially meeting with ministry officials, the family says they heard nothing for almost a year. Meanwhile, no representative of Fiera Foods has ever contacted them, not even to express condolences, they said.
“They don’t care,” Jabbi said. “I don’t even think they think we exist.”
In his letter to the Star, Gelbloom did not address a question asking why the company has not contacted Diaby’s family.
The Star asked Jabbi what he would say if he had the opportunity to address Serebryany and Garber. “I would just like to ask them if they care about human life,” he said. “Somebody died in your job site, you know?”
Diaby was not technically a Fiera Foods employee, despite working inside their factory. Like many of the low-wage workers who pinch and form raw pastry dough on Fiera’s assembly lines, Diaby was employed by a temp agency.
Fiera says it uses temp agency workers to meet fluctuating demands, but critics say, for many companies, it is a simple cost-cutting strategy. Temp workers are often paid less than permanent employees, and also save companies money on workers’ compensation insurance premiums. If a temp is injured on the job, their agency, not the workplace where they were actually hurt, is liable at the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.
Across the province, the nature of temp agency work is changing. Once associated with casual office jobs, the majority of temps are now working in other sectors, such as manufacturing, construction, restaurants and driving, according to statistics obtained by the Star.
The data provided by the WSIB also show that non-clerical temp workers in particular were more than twice as likely to be injured on the job last year than their non-temp counterparts. The disparity in injury rates has been about the same for the last decade. This, research suggests, is partly due to temp workers being insufficiently trained and being assigned more dangerous work.
As part of a year-long investigation into the rise of temp work, the Star sent a reporter to work undercover at Fiera Foods for one month this summer.
Our reporter — who, like Diaby, was employed by a temp agency — received about five minutes of safety training and no hands-on instruction before stepping onto the factory floor.
Sanunu Jabbi, who struggles to speak about his wife without choking up, is adamant that she was not given enough training to safely do her job. He said he asked her after her first day at the factory if there was any safety orientation, as there was on his first day working at a construction site. “She said, ‘No,’” he told the Star.
In an initial written response to the Star — before Gelbloom took over communication on behalf of the company — Fiera Foods spokeswoman Ziggy Romick said Diaby’s training “included specific instructions about how to work safely around conveyor systems, the requirement to wear a lab coat at all times when working and not to wear loose clothing or jewelry.”
Romick said Diaby was “instructed to stand on a work platform beside a conveyor to monitor progress of dough moving along the conveyor.”
She said the conveyor motor and drive shaft were “appropriately guarded” and the accident occurred “when Ms. Diaby left her work platform and moved along the conveyor where it appears she leaned over. She had removed her lab coat without permission, which is against our policy about loose clothing, and was wearing a hijab. Her hijab became entangled in a machine guard on the adjacent conveyor.”
Romick concluded her email to the Star by calling for “clarity and guidance” from government in the “unchartered waters” of religious accommodation.
Under Ontario human rights law, companies must accommodate workers’ religious clothing as long as it doesn’t cause “undue hardship.” An increased safety risk would constitute an “undue hardship,” because companies are obligated to protect workers from injury, according to the law. If Fiera Foods believed Diaby’s hijab presented a health and safety risk for the job she was doing, they would be required to assign her a different task; or, if none was available, not hired her in the first place.
Diaby was hired through OLA Staffing, a temp agency based in Woodbridge. Geetha Thushyanthan, who runs the agency, declined to be interviewed for this story. In a written statement, she said “OLA Staffing takes our commitment to the health and safety of our employees very seriously and we provide our employees with appropriate workplace health and safety training.”
Thushyanthan refused to answer a follow-up question asking her to elaborate on the training the company provided.
The WSIB said they are still investigating OLA Staffing’s role in the death.
Diaby was neither the first death of a temp worker at one of Fiera’s factories, nor was it the first time the company had been found to have insufficient protections for workers.
Documents obtained by the Star show recurring safety violations at Fiera’s factories going back nearly two decades. Since 1999, the company has been hit with 191 orders for health and safety violations, including multiple “stop-work” orders.
Fiera was also charged with a number of Occupational Health and Safety Act offences related to a lack of training in October 2015 and June 2016. Those charges have yet to be resolved.
“We acknowledge Fiera has had Ministry of Labour orders, including stop-work orders,” Gelbloom writes in his letter on behalf of the company. “In each and every situation, Fiera worked to address and resolve each order, and, as you know, there are no outstanding Ministry of Labour orders.”
Ministry records show inspectors had been at Fiera’s factory for a proactive inspection just two days before Diaby died. A ministry spokeswoman would not answer a question about whether the machine that caused Diaby’s death was part of that inspection.
Police can lay criminal charges against corporations following workplace injuries or deaths under Bill C-45, which is sometimes called the “Westray Bill” after the 1992 Nova Scotia coal-mining disaster. Prosecutions are rare, but the bill was intended to hold companies criminally liable if they are found to be negligent in protecting workers.
Toronto Police Det. Tim Thorne declined to discuss the case with the Star citing the fact it remains an open investigation.
Sanunu Jabbi, who is quiet through most of the family’s interviews with the Star, said he doesn’t think he will ever marry again. “It’s not easy to find a woman like her.”
His friends have suggested that he sue Fiera and the temp agency. He says he’s not interested, not now anyway. He just wants to move on.
But the accident that took Diaby’s life has forever altered the arc of his own.
He says he would like to return to Sierra Leone, but he can’t. He couldn’t afford to repatriate his wife’s body after she died and he won’t leave her behind.
“I don’t want to stay. But her body is here.”
WORKERS KILLED IN TWO EARLIER TRAGEDIES
Amina Diaby is the third temp agency worker to die at a factory owned by Fiera Foods or one of its affiliated companies since 1999.
In a written response to questions from the Star, the company said the deaths were “separate but significant tragedies” and that in each instance, it “worked quickly to comply” with ministry orders.
The first was Ivan Golyashov, who would have turned 35 this summer.
He was 17 when he started working at Fiera’s Norelco Dr. factory through a temp agency in the summer of 1999. When he resumed his high school classes at Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute in Thorncliffe Park, Ivan continued to work at Fiera on weekends.
On Saturday, Sept. 25, he was assigned to clean a large mixer, a task he had never before performed nor received training for, according to a lawsuit filed by his family.
When Ivan was finished cleaning the mixer he asked his co-worker, who was also a temp, to open the door and let him out. The co-worker, who was also allegedly untrained, accidentally activated the machine.
Ivan was crushed to death.
The lawsuit filed by the teen’s family against Fiera accused the company of being negligent, not only for providing insufficient training, but also in how it failed to ensure machine controls were “locked out” while someone was inside.
The lawsuit was settled out of court and Fiera did not file a statement of defence. Golyashov’s mother, Marina, declined to comment when contacted by the Star earlier this year.
The lawsuit also alleged that Fiera did not inform the Golyashovs of their son’s death, and, in fact, initially denied it when they frantically called the factory looking for information. The teen’s father, Alexandr, had learned of his son’s death from a friend who also worked at the factory.
Fiera pleaded guilty to Ministry of Labour charges and was fined $150,000.
Police investigated, but laid no criminal charges.
“I’m satisfied this was just an accident,” Det. Ralph Ashford told the Star at the time. “If anything it was lack of training.”
The Golyashovs’ lawsuit also alleged that Temp Industrial, the temp agency that employed Ivan, tried to render itself “judgment proof” in the wake of his death by dissolving and “fraudulently” moving its assets to a different temp agency, Temporary Labour.
Speaking to a Star reporter the day after her son’s death, Marina Golyashov blamed herself.
“It’s my fault,” she said. “I let him work. Children shouldn’t work.”
The second death occurred nearly six years ago at Marmora Freezing Corp., one of Fiera’s affiliated partners, which operates a facility connected to Fiera’s main factory on Marmora St.
Aydin Kazimov, a 69-year-old security guard, died after he was hit by a car and then run over by a truck in the factory’s parking lot shortly after midnight, on Dec. 14, 2011. First, he was struck by a worker driving his car home after a 10-hour shift at the factory. An accident reconstruction expert later testified that Kazimov was injured, but likely still alive at this point. The driver, Marlon Layugan, initially fled the scene, but returned less than a minute later. In those intervening seconds Kazimov’s unconscious body was driven over by a reversing tractor trailer and subsequently dragged for several minutes.
Layugan was convicted of manslaughter, criminal negligence causing death and failing to stop. He was sentenced to six months in jail.
In an agreed statement of facts read aloud at his sentencing, Justice Julie Thorburn said: “Although employees had requested reflective gear from their employer, Fiera Food Company (sic) did not equip their security guards with reflective gear until after this incident.”
A Ministry of Labour investigation, obtained by the Star through a freedom of information request, found there was inadequate lighting, warning signs, and protective barriers to keep Kazimov safe.
Regarding the temp agency that employed Kazimov, VIV Vision Security, the investigation said the company had been incorporated since 2007 without ever registering with the Ministry of Labour, and that it provided services exclusively to Fiera Foods.
Of Fiera Foods, the investigation said the ministry had previously responded to “many critical injuries and many other injuries” at its factories between 1996 and 2011, and had already issued the company with around 90 health and safety orders, including 14 stop-work orders.
Marmora Freezing Corp. pleaded guilty to charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and was fined $150,000.
“With regard to the three separate tragedies that occurred at or near our facilities, we remain saddened,” Fiera’s lawyer and human resources manager, David Gelbloom, wrote in a letter to the Star in response to a number of questions. “Despite these tragedies, we believe that the health and safety of our workforce is our highest concern and we continue to strive for improvements.”
— Brendan Kennedy and Sara Mojtehedzadeh
Self-deception has repeatedly served as a bedrock of cruelty.
It has transformed greed into gallant heroism, where invasion of lands is adventure, displacement of natives is about saving the savages, and theft and self-enrichment is ingenuity.
It has rationalized subjugation as the “natural order” of things. Women — at home; gays — in the closet; natives — in reserves; and Blacks — in farms or in ghettos.
And when there emerges an equal and opposite reaction — resistance that challenges that deception — it is met with denial (Brutal — us? No, we saved you!) and dismissal (You’re not qualified to speak on this) and demand (Can’t we just leave the past behind and get along?).
In this, I include groups around the world that have utilized cruelty to enforce domination.
Settler deception in Canada, however, is unique in the euphemism it employs.
A new, painstakingly researched book debunks the myth of Canadian white benevolence and draws a straight line between past state-sanctioned injustices and current tensions.
In Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present, Black feminist, activist-writer Robyn Maynard analyzes the work of dozens of scholars to pierce through centuries of deception and offer us a bold, unblinking — and frankly, shocking — rebuttal to the widespread sentiment that “we’re not as bad as the U.S.”
The book weaves in Indigenous experiences and addresses how racial violence specifically impacted Black women. It is written for academics and lay people alike.
“One of the things that prompted me to write it is that working in Black communities, growing up Black in Canada, there was so much history of anti-Black racism that even I was not aware of for much of my life,” Maynard told me.
“People would experience anti-Black racism, but it was so negated by non-Black people around them. Their experience was seen as exaggerated or treated with disbelief. A lot of that disbelief stems from the broader disbelief that anti-Black racism has been in place for 400 years.”
Just as “climatic unsuitability” was long used to disguise the racist motivations behind demographic selections, Maynard writes, so was a desire to avoid the “Negro problem” that existed in the United States.
Irony alert! Canadians believed the best way to keep racism out of the country was to keep Black people out altogether.
“It was in the interest of coloured people themselves not to encourage their settlement in this country,” Maynard cites William D. Scott, a superintendent of immigration from 1903 to 1924. In private correspondence, though, he doesn’t hold back. “Africans, no matter where they come from, are not among the races sought.”
This, although slavery was practised in Canada for more than 200 years.
This, although 4,000 enslaved Indigenous and Black people helped build infrastructure and wealth for white settlers in the 17th and 18th centuries.
While the absence of plantations meant there were fewer enslaved Black people, leaving them acutely isolated, white settler society here was not benign. It brutalized them physically and psychologically. Black women would be beaten, sexually abused, used for “breeding” and have their children torn from them.
“The inferiority ascribed to Blackness in this era would affect the treatment of Black persons living in Canada for centuries to come,” Maynard writes.
Maynard also exposes the hollowness of the claim that Canada was a sanctuary for runaway slaves from the U.S. and for “Black Loyalists.” Few freed Black people to whom the British promised land and equality if they fought on the British side of the 1775-1783 conflict received that promised land. Those who did were given land that was known to be infertile. Instead, Black people were forced to become cheap labour for white farmers and domestic help in white homes.
On the other hand, in the early 20th century whites from Europe were promised and given 160 acres of free farmland.
White landowners refused to lease or sell land to those with African features well into the 20th century. “In 1959, over 60 per cent of landlords surveyed (in Toronto) said they would not be comfortable renting to Blacks,” Maynard writes.
This is the face of structurally enforced impoverishment.
It continues with segregation of schools, the last of which closed in Canada in 1983. Segregated Black schools were underfunded and even abandoned by governments. Many children studied in dilapidated unheated buildings, Maynard says, taught by poorly trained teachers.
This is the face of structurally built inequality.
Perhaps knowing this will give pause to those among us who say things like, “These people are poor because they’re lazy.”
Since 1444, the year that Maynard says marked the beginning of the global devaluation of Black bodies, when European raiders captured and chained Africans into ships, “rebellion was so ‘incessant’ that they were chained right hand to right leg, left hand to left leg.” This also marked the beginning of the institutionalized belief that Black movement needed to be surveilled and contained.
In the 1920s in Canada, Black presence in public spaces continued to be restricted, in some places with “sundown laws,” or curfews imposed on Black people to be indoors by a certain time in the evening.
“The fact is this is ongoing,” Maynard told me. “Look at how we devalue Black people’s lives.”
The 2016 case of a six-year-old Black Grade 1 student, in a Mississauga school, written about in the Star and detailed in the book, marks the continuing containment of Black bodies.
The child was handcuffed by attaching her hands and feet together at the wrists and ankles for apparently acting in a violent manner.
Peel police deemed this containment necessary in the interest of safety of the 48-pound, unarmed child who was considered that dangerous even in the presence of school officials and two policemen.
This, too, is the face of state-sanctioned racial violence.
Maynard’s investment of emotional labour situates her book in continuing Black resistance to this violence.
Supremacist values were foundational for the creation of white wealth.
This does not mean all whites are supremacist. Nor does it mean all whites are wealthy.
But perhaps it will help clarify what people mean when they say racial violence benefits all white people.
Shree Paradkar writes on discrimination and identity. You can follow her @shreeparadkar
After 30 years on the loftiest uplands of Canadian intellectual life, Stephen Toope still has the capacity — as all great teachers and most happy human beings do — for awe and wonder.
And in his case, there’s a lot to be awed about.
On Oct. 2, the legal scholar from the Munk School of Global Affairs at U of T will be installed as vice-chancellor at Cambridge University. He will be the 346th person to hold the post since the school’s founding more than 800 years ago, and the first non-Briton.
“As a West Island boy from Montreal, I feel extraordinarily privileged,” Toope, 59, said in an interview as he prepared for the move from Toronto’s Annex neighbourhood to one of the world’s most prestigious academic institutions.
He said that, while he packed, he pictured Isaac Newton at Cambridge (where he had a famously inspirational encounter with a falling apple in the 17th century and discovered gravity). He has imagined the roster of geniuses to pass through before and since. And he has had to remind himself, from time to time, that “it’s not utterly crazy that I’m going there.”
While the Cambridge chancellor is a ceremonial post, the vice-chancellor is the main administrative and academic officer of the university and de facto head, nominated by the University Council and approved by the school’s Regent House to a non-renewable seven-year term.
Before choosing him, Cambridge conducted an international search led by Ian White, master of Jesus College, who said Toope “has impeccable academic credentials, a longstanding involvement with higher education, strong leadership experience and an excellent research background.”
Toope, who earned his doctorate at Cambridge in 1987, said he wasn’t even aware a search was on for a new vice-chancellor at his alma mater when he received a call from headhunters.
“It was really quite . . . stunning,” he said, pausing, uncharacteristically, to search for a word.
“I was surprised and honoured even to be considered.”
Even so, the timing wasn’t ideal.
He was only two years into an appointment as director of the Munk School, after eight years running the University of British Columbia, where he landed after serving as dean of law at McGill.
Toope had planned on spending the “next five, 10 years, whatever” at Munk, he said, especially after his wife and three children — now in their 20s and pursuing their own studies — had already suffered uprooting for the sake of his career.
“But,” he said, smiling. “It’s very hard to say no to a place like Cambridge.”
When Stephen Toope was named president of UBC in 2006, Justice Rosalie Abella of the Supreme Court of Canada called him “brilliant, humane, considerate and fearless.”
UBC, she said, “should be electrified.”
Electrifying is not a notion that usually leaps to mind when discussing scholars. And it would be easy to suspect Abella of some hyperbole. Except that similar admiration of Toope’s talents and virtues seem to come from just about anyone who’s crossed his path.
“He sparkles,” Paul Davidson, a friend of more than 25 years and president of Universities Canada, told the Star.
“He’s gritty and grounded. He’s authentic and genuine. He is very much a 21st-century academic leader,” Davidson said. “He’s as comfortable with refugees as he is with royalty.”
Toope earned an undergraduate degree in literature and history from Harvard, degrees from McGill in common and civil law while editing the McGill Law Journal, and a PhD from Cambridge.
After articling with then chief justice Brian Dickson at the Supreme Court of Canada, he taught law at McGill, before becoming the faculty’s youngest ever dean at age 34.
As a scholar, Toope has specialized in human rights, international dispute resolution, international environmental law and the use of force. He has published articles and books on change in international law and the origins of international obligation.
He was research director of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples in 1991, has been president of the Canadian Council on International Law, served as an observer in the first free elections in South Africa in 1994, and was founding president of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, a non-partisan scholarship institute focusing on the former prime minister’s interests of social justice and Indigenous issues.
From 2002 to 2007, he served on the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances. As a result of that experience, he was asked to serve as an independent fact-finder for the federal O’Connor Inquiry into the torture in Syria of Canadian Maher Arar.
As such, Toope said he has experienced “life much closer to the ground than might be assumed,” with first-hand experience of injustice, cruelty, pain. In his investigations into the tortured and disappeared, “I’ve worked with people in rural parts of Africa, rural parts of Latin America, rural parts of Asia, Southeast Asia in particular, and had to deal with people who were really suffering.”
In addition, the Cambridge recruiters likely noticed traits that suggest a large heart and sense of humour as well as a big brain, what the Brits call an all-rounder.
Toope’s a good sport. At UBC, he once took up a student leader’s dare to join him as part of a fundraising effort in a duet of the Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) in front of a packed theatre.
The episode revealed a becoming lack of pretention, along with his background as a boy soprano in church choirs and a fondness for the arts — shared by his wife, Paula Rosen, a singer-songwriter and speech pathologist who is able, Toope admits, to bring him back to terra firma should he get too serious or over-impressed by his own resumé.
“These days, when there’s so much emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math, it’s nice to see somebody bring their whole selves to their academic work,” his friend Davidson said.
And for Stephen Toope, that “whole self” also includes a deeply traumatic experience.
In 1995, three youths — aged 13, 14 and 15, later said to be high on drugs — broke into a house in suburban Montreal, thinking it was empty and intending on an easy score.
Inside, retired Anglican Church minister Frank Toope, 75, and his wife Jocelyn, 70, were asleep in bed.
When the Toopes awoke to the noise of the intruders, they were bludgeoned to death.
The youths reportedly bragged the next day at school of their deeds. After their arrest and subsequent trial, the three were sentenced under the Young Offenders Act to a combined total of less than 15 years.
Toope was 37 and law dean at McGill when his adoptive parents were murdered. Twelve years later, he was invited to speak at graduation ceremonies in Montreal’s Dawson College — where, at the start of that academic year, a gunman had gone on a rampage, killing 18-year-old Anastasia De Sousa and injuring 20 others.
It was thought Toope might have something helpful to say to the students. He did.
“I had been raised in a loving family,” he told them. “I had been blessed with incredible educational opportunities. I had a great job as dean of law at McGill University, a wonderful wife, a lovely little daughter and a son who had just arrived.”
But on that day in 1995, three “teenage boys, who had no real motive, who had killed for fun,” tore his world apart.
There’s no single way to react to such things, he said. “I can only tell you how I reacted.
“I said no. No, you pathetic boys are not going to destroy the memory of my parents, who lived rich and gentle lives. No, you are not going to define my existence or that of my family. No, you will not turn me into a fearful person. No, you will not teach me to hate.”
And they didn’t.
As he looked back on that speech during an interview with the Star, Toope uses a word he often does. He considered it a “privilege” to speak to those students.
“It was a difficult moment,” he said. “But I have actually been through something that may be of relevance to these kids, who had to experience something that no students should ever have to experience.”
As Paul Davidson sees it, the United Kingdom, possibly the world, is having something of a “Canada moment.”
When Toope arrives in the U.K., he will find Canadians as governor of the Bank of England, chief executive of the Royal Mail, and the U.K.’s Information Commissioner.
And Toope’s appointment is another “example of the pretty darn impressive talent” this country has to share, Davidson said.
Not, of course, that there isn’t heavy lifting ahead.
Last year, for the first time, Cambridge did not place in the top three in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, which started in 2004. In the 2016-17 list out this week, it placed fourth.
“It means Cambridge has to look at itself and see whether it’s doing as good a job as it can,” he has said.
Not least of Toope’s challenges will be the ramifications for the university sector — at an institution that draws significant research revenue from the European Union — of Brexit.
There have been concerns about a Brexit brain drain as European academics leave British universities and fears over impacts on funding, enrolment, exchange programs, teaching quality and research collaboration. It’s been estimated that European students accounted for more than 5 per cent of British university enrolment, contributing ₤3.7 billion to the U.K. economy and providing more than 30,000 jobs.
“I think they were very open to someone from outside the United Kingdom, partly because of the Brexit phenomenon, and their wanting to continue to send messages of openness,” Toope has said.
It also can’t have hurt his chances that his fundraising credentials are almost as impressive as his academic achievement and that at UBC he led a $1.5-billion campaign that surpassed its goal and oversaw a host of campus infrastructure improvements. Or that a major accomplishment at Munk was to head a planning exercise to develop a modern strategic plan for the school.
Toope succeeds Prof. Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, a Welsh immunologist who was paid a salary of ₤335,000 (about $530,000 Canadian) along with a basket of other perks, including residence at the vice-chancellor’s lodge, valued at £4.5 million. According to Ontario’s Sunshine List, Toope earned $310,954.44 at the Munk School last year.
Toope considers this a new “anxious age,” a time of particular risk and uncertainty across the world and for Canada in particular as American diminishment globally demands a reordering of relations.
“We won’t actually see America being great again in the way that some proponents of that phrase have indicated.”
And, to some extent, a reimagining of universities at a time when all “content” institutions face threat and upheaval.
The good news is that there’s been no hint of animosity awaiting him in Cambridge because of his untraditional origins.
“I thought there would be a moment when one or another person would say, ‘Well, why should we really be looking at you? Aren’t you some trumped-up little colonial?”
But there hasn’t. Even so, Canada’s latest gift to the mother country intends to tread carefully.
“I’m not going to run in and tell them they’ve been doing everything wrong for the last 800 years.
“I’d be a fool to do that.”
And that’s one thing he’s not called.
Melvin Mingo loves it when he sits around an RV park and fellow retirees get to talking about what they used to do for a living.
“I am a retired bank robber,” Mingo, 67, says to a round of chuckles.
Pressed a little further, he might add, “I’m a retired unsuccessful entrepreneur.”
The affable man loves to joke but he’s telling the truth.
Mingo was the mastermind of what is considered the largest holdup in Canadian history — a $68.5-million bond and securities heist at the Merrill Lynch Canada Inc. headquarters in downtown Montreal in 1984.
His eyes light up when asked about the caper that landed him almost a decade in some of Canada’s toughest prisons.
“It was such a beautiful score,” he says. “That was like everyone’s big dream. The big last one.”
Some $5.75 million of that loot has never been recovered. Mingo has a stock answer when asked where it went.
“That’s a story for another time,” Mingo told the Star, with a smile, during a stopover last month with his wife Susie at the Glen Rouge Campground in Scarborough.
He is happy to talk about how, with the advent of online money transfers, his record will likely never be broken.
He definitely didn’t spend it on his RV, which is circa 1986.
And RV culture is a far cry from Mingo’s bank robbery days. Growing up in Montreal among criminals, drugs and schemes, he says it was the heist he always dreamed of.
“If you hang around with thieves, what will you be? An artist? A plumber? A pizza delivery guy?”
Mingo’s friends included members of Montreal’s Irish mob, called the West End Gang. In the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, they were a force to be reckoned with in the world of truck hijackings, extortion and armed robbery. They later moved into drug trafficking, which, Mingo says, ruined everything.
Mingo’s circle included the late Theodore (Bootsie) Orben, who worked with mobster Frank Cotroni to try to tunnel into the City and District Savings Bank in Montreal in 1967.
Asked how they got caught, Orben told Mingo: “(I) told one person too many.”
There was also the late John (Jackie) McLaughlin, a debt collector and scary figure even by West End Gang standards.
“He would kill you and not think twice,” Mingo says of McLaughlin, who was killed alongside his pit bull in 1984.
Another hit man Mingo became friendly with was Dickie Lavoie, who could do 1,000 pushups at a time. He died of natural causes in the 1980s.
“I used to like him but he was a hit man,” Mingo says. “There is not too many people I don’t like.”
But when it came time for his ultimate caper, he kept it secret from these nefarious associates.
The idea for the Merrill Lynch heist came to Mingo when he was sitting in a bar that the West End Gang frequented on Crescent Street in downtown Montreal in the fall of 1984. A man who worked in the corporation’s office was trying to impress a woman from their group by telling her how much money he handled.
Mingo’s ears perked up when he heard that millions of dollars in securities were taken by couriers up and down the elevators of the office tower on Dorchester Blvd. W. from a main floor bank.
He didn’t tell anyone, but spent the next month scoping out the site near the Queen Elizabeth Hotel Across from Place Ville Marie.
He did his spying from a bus stop, where there were plenty of passersby, and sometimes dressed as a courier.
Other times, he carried a brief case and looked like an office worker on his way to work.
He’d spend about half an hour at the bus stop each morning.
“I’m a good blender inner. People do not pay attention.”
He noticed that there were eight elevators in the office tower, but only one went all the way down to the basement.
He also noted that Merrill Lynch couriers didn’t carry guns as they rode up and down the elevator.
He cultivated a contact inside Merrill Lynch as he hatched his plan.
“I had somebody inside,” Mingo says. “They used to trade every day. I watched for about four weeks.”
He was particularly interested in the varied habits of the couriers who worked in the building.
“There were two that I found particularly lazy.”
Those two couriers always took the same elevator to the bank as it meant less walking. That was the elevator where the heist would have to take place.
As Mingo hatched his plan, he strove to keep things as simple as possible so that fewer things could go wrong. While he likes the Oceans Eleven movies, he says their plots are far too convoluted for the real world.
“To me, it would never happen. It’s too complicated. Too many things can go wrong. It’s nice to watch but you’ve always got to have a little reality.”
Mingo also studied a guard who sat outside the bank near the elevator.
“He got distracted — a woman with cleavage. I knew what we had to do with him.
Finally, on Dec. 21, 1984, Mingo and his crew were ready to roll.
Mingo parked his station wagon nearby on University Street. His accomplices arrived separately. One of them was a woman with pronounced cleavage, whose only job was to distract the guard outside the bank.
Mingo was dressed as a courier and pushed a dolly as he entered the building.
As usual, he blended in. His silver semi-automatic pistol was tucked out of sight.
His contact at Merrill Lynch had agreed to page him as soon as the crew of targeted couriers left the office for the bank.
The plan was to ride the elevator with them, taking the securities and locking them in a basement washroom for maintenance workers.
It should have been quick and simple but something went wrong.
Mingo’s contact buzzed him.
“We all made a move.”
A husky member of his crew rode the elevator with him.
Soon their prey would be getting on, too — they hoped.
Mingo rode the elevator all the way up to the 24th floor and all the way back down.
The couriers should have been on board but they weren’t.
“I was sweating. I couldn’t figure what was holding these guys up.”
Mingo had no idea that Brinks couriers had priority over all others and a Brinks team had jumped the line, making the Merrill Lynch couriers wait.
Finally, about 10 minutes behind schedule, the door opened and the Merrill Lynch couriers finally appeared.
“Come on in,” Mingo told them. “We’ve got plenty of room.”
Once they were inside and the door was securely closed, Mingo pressed his pistol into the side of one of them and gestured towards his partner, “You’re just going to follow me and that person in front.”
“He saw the chrome of the gun,” Mingo said.
They rode all the way back up to the 24th floor, and then began heading down to the basement.
“I told them, ‘Just keep your eyes down.’ ”
The elevator seemed to stop 10 times as they headed for the basement. Whenever someone got on, Mingo tensed up.
“I thought, ‘I hope you get off somewhere because you’ll have a bad weekend if you don’t.’”
Finally, they reached the basement and the two couriers were left in a darkened maintenance washroom.
Mingo and his associate tried to give them the impression that one of their crew was watching them, somewhere in the dark.
Mingo said he didn’t dwell on the feelings of the terrified guards.
“I’m not going to lie. I didn’t feel bad. I was pretty pumped up myself.”
Three of his crew left in separate cars, driving slowly. The other left the scene on public transit.
Fifteen minutes later, someone went into the maintenance washroom and freed the guards.
The hunt for Mingo was on.
Twenty-five minutes later, Mingo and his crew met at a pre-arranged spot — his house on Gouin Blvd.
“It’s just a matter of stashing and counting.”
They counted $40.4-million in negotiable securities and $28.1-million in non-negotiable items.
Mingo found it interesting that some of the personal bonds belonged to Olympic speedskating hero Gaétan Boucher.
Their next move was to do and say nothing.
They just sat tight for a month, careful not to attract any attention.
“It was all over the news,” Mingo says. “For a month I was totally quiet.”
The heist was the talk of the town, especially in Mingo’s circles. “I said, ‘It had to be an out-of-towner.’ ” He felt the lie was necessary. “If I stole it, who’s to say they wouldn’t steal it from me? It’s only common sense.”
Mingo had already thought out what to do with the bonds.
“We’re not going to sit with them and never sell them and make wallpaper.”
The problem was that some of the securities had identification numbers and there was the danger they could be traced or cancelled.
In addition to the police, private detectives had been dispatched from the Merrill Lynch main office in New York City to locate the loot.
Mingo’s plan was to sell the securities to an offshore banker, who would pay 10 per cent of their face value.
That would net Mingo some $1.25 million U.S. for his share of the job.
Moving the securities would be the banker’s challenge.
40 days after the robbery he took a trip to Toronto to meet the banker at the Harbour Castle Hilton.
All of the bonds fit into two suitcases.
“They were simple cheap suitcases. The contents were nice.”
The banker seemed impressed when Mingo opened them up but now there was another switch in plans.
The banker said he needed time get his money together.
They would have to meet again once he had the cash.
Mingo still wonders if he should have done something different at this point. Perhaps it would have been best to stash the securities in Toronto.
Again, he was worried about being robbed himself.
“It all comes back to paranoia.”
Twelve days after the Harbour Castle meeting, Mingo sat in a car outside the Dorval train station in suburban Montreal. He was heading back to Toronto to finally close the deal with the banker.
Another member of his crew was driving to Toronto. Two more were taking a plane.
If all went according to plan, soon they would all be millionaires.
He smoked a joint to calm his nerves and noted a bellhop passed in front of the car twice.
“Get out of the car!,” someone yelled.
They were ordered to lie on their bellies on the dirty snow and the slush by police tactical officers with machine-guns.
“Mel, what’s going on?” Bobby asked.
“I don’t know,” Mingo recalls replying. “Maybe parking tickets.”
The police looked in the trunk of the car.
Nothing was there.
“The biggest thing was they wanted the loot. They wanted the loot big time.”
Mingo said he feels oddly grateful, even though he got a nine-year-prison term for robbery and forcible confinement instead of the $1.25 million.
“Could’ve been a big party. Blew it in two years. I say, ‘Thank you.’ ”
Mingo says he has been out of the crime world for 30 years. He had an epiphany of sorts when he had his parole taken away for trying to bribe a police officer at a speed trap while leaving a party for since-murdered mobster Frank Cotroni Jr.
Mingo says he gave up drinking, cocaine and crime when he connected with Susie shortly after his final release.
He credits her with saving his life, as well as enriching it.
“I made a choice in the ’80s and left all that world behind.”
Nowadays, his scheming is mostly concerned with how to get to a big tractor pull with Susie.
“This is such a nice life. No one judges you.”
ST. PETERSBURG, FLA.—Announcing itself with roaring 215 km/h winds, Hurricane Irma plowed into the mostly emptied-out Florida Keys early Sunday for the start of what could be a slow, ruinous march up the state’s west coast toward the heavily populated Tampa-St. Petersburg area.
“Pray, pray for everybody in Florida,” Gov. Rick Scott said on “Fox News Sunday.”
With an estimated 127,000 huddling in shelters statewide, the storm lashed the low-lying string of islands with drenching rain and knocked out power to over 1 million customers across Florida.
About 30,000 people heeded orders to evacuate the Keys as the storm closed in, but an untold number refused to leave, in part because to many storm-hardened residents, staying behind in the face of danger is a point of pride.
While the projected track showed Irma raking the state’s Gulf Coast, forecasters warned that the entire Florida peninsula — including the Miami metropolitan area of 6 million people — was in extreme peril from the monstrous storm, almost 650 kilometres wide.
Nearly 7 million people in the Southeast were warned to get out of the storm’s path, including 6.4 million in Florida alone.
The Republican governor said on NBC that he spoke to U.S. President Donald Trump, and “everything I’ve asked out of the federal government, he’s made sure he gave us.”
Once the storm passes, “we’re going to need a lot of help,” Scott warned. But he also described Florida as “a tough state. We’re going to come through this.”
Irma made landfall in the U.S. just after 9 a.m. at Cudjoe Key in the lower Keys, forecasters said. By midmorning, it was centred about 20 miles (30 kilometres) northeast of Key West, moving at 8 mph (13 km/h).
As the hurricane’s eye approached the Keys, 60-year-old Carol Walterson Stroud and her family were huddled in a third-floor apartment at a senior centre in Key West.
“We are good so far,” she said in a text message just before 5:30 a.m. “It’s blowing hard.”
Key West Police urged anyone riding out the storm in that city to “resist the urge” to go outside during the eye, the deceptively calm interlude in the middle of a hurricane. “Dangerous winds will follow quickly,” police said in a Facebook post.
Irma was at one time the most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the open Atlantic, with a peak wind speed of 185 mph (300 km/h) last week.
It left more than 20 people dead across the Caribbean, and as it moved north over the Gulf of Mexico’s bathtub-warm water of nearly 90 degrees, regained strength.
Forecasters said Irma could hit the Tampa-St. Petersburg areas early Monday.
The Tampa Bay area has not taken a direct hit from a major hurricane since 1921, when its population was about 10,000, National Hurricane Center spokesman Dennis Feltgen said. Now around 3 million people live there.
Some 400 miles north of the Keys, the wind was picking up in St. Petersburg and people began bracing for the storm’s wrath.
“I’ve been here with other storms, other hurricanes. But this one scares me,” Sally Carlson said she snapped photos of the waves crashing against boats. “Let’s just say a prayer we hope we make it through.”
John Leuders, another St. Petersburg resident, said he felt confident of his storm preparations: “We tore down part of our fence because we couldn’t get any plywood from Home Depot and Lowe’s, and we boarded up with the fence.”
The governor activated all 7,000 members of the Florida National Guard, and 30,000 guardsmen from elsewhere were on standby.
In the Orlando area, Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and Sea World all closed on Saturday. The Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa and Orlando airports shut down.
Given its mammoth size and strength and its projected course, Irma could prove one of the most devastating hurricanes ever to hit Florida and inflict damage on a scale not seen here in 25 years.
Hurricane Andrew smashed into suburban Miami in 1992 with winds topping 165 mph (265 km/h), damaging or blowing apart over 125,000 homes. The damage in Florida totalled $26 billion (U.S.), and at least 40 people died.
Christ Church Cathedral in Hamilton, Ont., must dig up hundreds of long-dead parishioners from the “asphalt hell” of a church parking lot before building a multimillion-dollar condo tower for the living.
The local Anglican diocese hopes to build a 12-storey, $50-million-plus condo and commercial development at 252 James St. N. in Hamilton to help the shrinking congregation remain solvent and pay climbing maintenance bills for the iconic, heritage-protected stone cathedral and associated school house.
But to do so, the church must first “reverentially” dig up, try to identify and relocate the remains of up to 400 people buried under the back parking lot.
“It’s time that we stopped parking on top of those people,” said the Very Rev. Peter Wall, rector of Christ’s Church Cathedral, in a presentation to councillors Wednesday. “They need to be released from asphalt hell.”
Wall was actually at City Hall to ask councillors to consider a discounted sale of a small nearby municipal parking lot to the church. City staff will report back on the request in October.
Wall argued the extra land would allow a larger, wraparound condo building behind the preserved cathedral and school and by extension a larger tax bill — more than $400,000 — paid to the city. (The church itself is exempt from paying property taxes.)
The rector said any help would be appreciated given the looming $1-million-plus cost of the strictly regulated effort to exhume those buried in the long-lost cemetery.
The asphalt-entombed graveyard opened in 1832 and closed two decades later, with the land variously used as green space, tennis courts and finally parking over 160 years. More than 700 people were buried behind the cathedral, including famed city father Richard Beasley, and many children and teenage victims of early cholera epidemics.
When the city’s main cemetery opened on York Boulevard, Wall said many headstones moved — but not all of the bodies.
A stone monument for Beasley and a select few headstones are the only visible remnants of the old burial plot today. The remainder is paved over for about 40 parking spaces.
Rev. Bill Mous says lazy past protocols meant the remains were not treated with the respect they deserved.
He says the church would like to address that issue if it is able to secure the land and permissions needed for the building project.
“We would make sure that those remains are moved to a more dignified location, as was the intention in the late 19th century,” Mous said in a telephone interview.
Wall took The Spectator for a basement tour under the old school beside the cathedral to see another 24 tombstones collected and stored over a century — the fate of the associated remains unknown.
Only one stone appeared legible, naming Mary Arthur Worsop, who died in 1837 at the age of 23. The inscription also appears to refer to an infant son.
“I’ve often looked at these and thought, see, that’s the reason we need to do something about this (lost cemetery),” Wall said.
Wall said anecdotally, he understood building additions between the late- 1800s to mid-1900s turned up bones during construction. “It’s unfortunate, but the reality is back then construction workers were likely throwing bones in dumpsters.”
Ground-penetrating radar has found burial shafts, coffin nails and other evidence to suggest the remains of 300 to 400 people are underfoot.
If so, the dig and reburial would be one of the larger efforts in Ontario history, said Ron Williamson, founder of ASI Archaeological and Cultural Heritage Services.
The veteran of four decades of archeological digs said he participated in a mass exhumation of remains for 622 parishioners of a Toronto church in 2000 for an airport extension. He believes a larger effort involving 700 burial plots took place in Kingston.
“But this would still represent a large, unique and complex project,” said Williamson, who added it can take a day-and-a-half to “uncover and fully document” remains found in a single grave.
A lot of work also happens outside the dig, he said, including cross-referencing church records, contacting descendants — and potentially dealing with their concerns. “Even moving a dozen bodies can be complex,” he said.
The church worked with DPAI Architecture on early designs for a 110-unit condo and retail building, but Wall said no application has been submitted to the city yet. The new building would host the existing diocesan office and Jamesville child care centre.
With files from The Canadian Press
My nanny never dealt me dope.
That’s why I’m flummoxed by the flurry of protests against Premier Kathleen Wynne, accused of being Ontario’s nanny-in-chief in the matter of marijuana sales.
Pushing dope isn’t in the job description for normal nannies. And yet our premier is prepared to serve it up.
Seems nanny is now a dirty word in our ideological wars, hurled at any hint of government regulation or red tape: Seatbelt laws, motorcycle helmets, gun registries, booze controls, drug restrictions — all evidence of the nanny state repressing and dressing us down, conspiring to inhibit our presumed right to imbibe and inhale in a haze.
How to fathom the fog that has fallen over opposition politicians, pundits, hipsters, humorists and potheads taking potshots at our putative nanny premier for being so dopey about dope? Let us deconstruct the inanity of the nanny narrative, and get down in the weeds on weed:
Wynne’s government is apparently under fire for spelling out how one might visit a government marijuana joint for a joint or two starting next summer. For the first time in Canadian history, one will be able to procure competitively-priced cannabis without risk of arrest, rip-offs, contamination, dilution, distortion or extortion.
Wynne has promised to open 40 new government owned and operated marijuana stores to meet the July 1, 2018 deadline set by Ottawa for national sales, doubling that number by 2019 and reaching 150 outlets within two years. Online sales will also let you get spaced out via cyberspace starting next summer.
Yet a clamour has erupted on behalf of corner stores and dispensaries getting their fair share. Even the small business lobby over at the CFIB is squawking about our meddling nanny premier.
Incidentally, this isn’t so much incipient sexism as it is conventional name-calling: The terminology predates her, first sticking to Dalton McGuinty, a.k.a. Premier Dad, for supposedly presiding over a nanny state.
Full disclosure: I never had a nanny. Nor did I get far with toking or smoking dope (not that I deny inhaling — I just kept exhaling involuntarily in a fit of uncontrolled coughing).
I’m not much of a beer drinker or boozer either. But that hasn’t disqualified me from pronouncing, as a political columnist, on our bogus Beer Store framework, or the ups and downs of the LCBO.
Critics who compare the new marijuana framework to the ossified oligopoly of the Beer Store are comparing apples and oranges — akin to conflating hemp and hops. The Beer Store was revealed as a privately-run anachronism, a consortium of big multinational brewers profiting from a government license to print money — unlike the LCBO, a reasonably efficient, publicly owned entity whose revenues accrue to the treasury.
Another allegation is that the province will gouge dope smokers while greedily cashing in. Yet why wouldn’t the government seek to maximize revenues in the same way that it profits from alcohol and tobacco sales, especially given the obligation for costly new public education campaigns to counter abuse?
Yes, the future price of marijuana must remain competitive with the underground market. But most Ontarians don’t pine for a dramatic expansion in dope sales, let alone a free-for-all.
That any government, of any political stripe, would suddenly turn on the tap for tokers is a stretch. Allowing the private sector to muscle in on the marijuana trade would require a far greater regulatory bureaucracy to licence and inspect small outlets.
By retaining sole control, at least initially, the government can slowly roll out its retail channel for tokers to roll their own. It can determine precisely where and when to situate those stores, measuring market demand while testing the tolerance of local neighbourhoods.
Where privatization requires costly and clunky regulation, publicly owned distribution benefits from stronger responsibility, accountability and transparency, with well-trained, unionized employees. The LCBO also has the advantage of being a trusted supplier, which explains why a Nanos Research poll commissioned by the OPSEU union last year showed it was the preferred choice of Ontarians as a retail outlet.
To those who dream of dope distribution on demand, be careful what you wish for. You can have too much of a good thing.
Ontarians tend to moderation in all things, not least marijuana. When the haze settles, critics might discover that people no more pine for a dope dispensary on every doorstep than they welcome a pusher on every corner.
Martin Regg Cohn’s political column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. email@example.com , Twitter: @reggcohn
Martin Regg Cohn’s political column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. firstname.lastname@example.org , Twitter: @reggcohn
WASHINGTON—Veteran Republicans are bailing on Congress in growing numbers, as GOP control of Washington fails to produce the unity or legislative successes party leaders wish for. With President Donald Trump willing, if not eager, to buck fellow Republicans and even directly attack them, a number of lawmakers no longer wish to be involved.
The latest was two-term Rep. Dave Trott of Michigan, who said in a statement Monday that he’d decided after careful consideration that the best course for him was to spend more time with his family and return to the private sector.
In contrast to those diplomatic words was Trott’s most recent tweet, sent in mid-August: “I think America needs more unity and less divisiveness...meaning @realDonaldTrump should focus more on golf & have less press conferences.”
Trott joins a string of moderate Republicans, including Reps. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, Dave Reichert of Washington state and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, who are not seeking re-election.
Each of these seats will be heavily contested by Democrats eager to take back control of the House, and rumours abound of other GOP retirements still to come. Michigan Republican, Rep. Fred Upton, is mulling a campaign for U.S. Senate, according to party operatives who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private deliberations.
Also Monday a senior GOP senator, Bob Corker of Tennessee, issued a statement indicating indecision about his future following a CNN report stating that the influential chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee had not yet decided whether to seek re-election next year.
“It’s not an automatic for me. It just isn’t,” Corker told reporters, although he added that as chairman he has “a lot of impact without passing legislation. I can influence things. This is more about just what I believe to be the right thing to do.”
Although Republicans are hopeful Corker ultimately will decide to run — he already has $7.5 million in his campaign account — the senator was in Trump’s Twitter crosshairs in August after criticizing the president’s response to the racially motivated protests in Charlottesville.
“Tennessee not happy!” the president declared after claiming that Corker was “constantly” asking him whether or not he should run again next year.
The developments have alarmed GOP operatives concerned that the trickle of retirements could turn into a flood unless congressional Republicans and Trump can come together and produce on their promises, particularly by overhauling the tax code. And, with Trump bypassing Republicans to make deals with Democrats, and encouraging primary challenges against sitting GOP senators, the retirement decisions also reflect concerns among some about whether they will get party support when they need it, especially with former Trump adviser Steve Bannon threatening all-out war on congressional leadership.
“There are some stability concerns in the party about whose team everyone is on,” said Josh Holmes, a GOP consultant and former chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “Concerns about whether your party is really with you.”
It all illustrates that, far from producing unity within the Republican Party, the Trump era appears to be exacerbating existing GOP divisions while creating new ones. The familiar divide between pragmatic and ideologically driven Republicans has been heightened, while Trump’s deal-making with top Democrats last week is forcing elected Republicans to choose sides between Trump and GOP leaders McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan.
“The party never united around Trump as it would another nominee, let alone president, and Trump is not a limited government conservative,” said Alex Conant, a former top aide to Sen. Marco Rubio. “And so he is not a traditional Republican and as a result is going to clash with the traditional Republicans that fill the ranks of Congress.”
The chaos and uncertainty produced by Trump and his orbit would be more acceptable to congressional Republicans if the party was achieving legislative success. Instead, its long-standing promise to repeal and replace Barack Obama’s health care law collapsed on the Senate floor in July, while other priorities are moving slowly. As a result, a number of Republicans on and off Capitol Hill have come to view tax reform of some kind as a must-pass priority, without which the dam would likely break on retirements and Republicans would be in serious jeopardy of losing control of the House.
“Republicans need to put points on the board, to deliver and show they are getting something done,” said Tom Reynolds, a former New York congressman who once chaired the National Republican Congressional Committee and is now a lobbyist.
Yet despite enthusiasm among Republicans, any final tax plan is a long way off, and many analysts are already predicting that Republicans will end up settling for some tax cuts that add to the deficit rather than full-blown reform.
For their part, Democrats are projecting increased confidence about their prospects in next year’s mid-terms, especially in the House, where they must gain 24 seats to win the majority. Republicans have a 240-194 edge, with one vacancy. Democrats have their highest hopes pinned on the 23 districts where GOP House candidates won last year, as did Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi pointed to Trump’s overall approval rating nationally, which has dipped below 40 per cent.
“There’s probably nothing more dispositive of who wins next year’s elections than where the president stands a year before,” Pelosi told reporters Friday. “The year is fraught with meaning because that’s when people decide whether to run or not, and that really is a timetable that’s very important to us, and very positive for us right now.”
More than 210,000 Ontario students are going to college or university tuition-free this school year — roughly one-third of those who study full-time — under a new provincial financial aid program that covers fees for those from lower-income families.
And applications for OSAP, the provincial aid system, are up 10 per cent over last year — or more than 50,000 students.
“This is far greater than we expected,” said Deb Matthews, minister of advanced education and skills development, in a telephone interview following a visit to Ottawa’s Algonquin College. “So we are absolutely thrilled to have 50,000 more applicants this year than last year at this time. We are very, very pleased with the increase.”
While the government does not yet have a firm dollar figure on the final cost, “that is the commitment we made to students — it’s a great problem to have. Our commitment is that every student who is eligible will get the support they need,” she said. “We will figure out a way to make that happen.”
When it was announced, the government said axing tax credits for tuition and education would save $145 million this year, enough to cover the expected costs for 2017-18.
The free tuition grants are part of a number of changes to the student assistance program, which makes mature students eligible for the first time, and also requires repayment only after grads are earning $35,000 a year, up from the current $25,000.
The government is now providing students with aid money up front, before tuition bills arrive, for families earning less than $50,000. Some 70 per cent of those students were expected to receive more in grants than average university tuition rates.
About half of students from homes earning $83,000 were also to receive more than they’ll pay in tuition.
The government is also opening OSAP applications for the 2018-19 school year early — in November — to help students to plan ahead for college and university.
Critics have the said the Liberals aren’t putting any more money into post-secondary, but rather just moving funds around, and note that Ontario has the highest university tuition rates in the country.
Emergency department wait times hit record levels this summer, according to the umbrella organization representing Ontario hospitals, prompting it to warn that the health-care system is headed for a “crisis” this winter unless the province takes quick action.
With weeks to go before flu season strikes, conditions strongly point to a capacity crunch this winter without further action, the Ontario Hospital Association said in a statement issued Monday.
“Many hospitals have operated through the summer under very unusual and worrying surge conditions,” OHA president Anthony Dale said. “The evidence strongly suggests that . . . further investments are urgently needed this fiscal year in order to ensure timely access to services for patients.”
This past July, 10 per cent of patients waited longer than the provincial average of 30.4 hours to be placed in an inpatient bed from the emergency department, according to the association. This is the longest that patients have ever had to wait in the month of July since the province began measuring these waits nine years ago, the OHA said.
Hospital activity normally slows down in the summer, but over the last few months, many of the province’s largest hospitals were more than 100 per cent full, the organization said.
The OHA’s statement called for “rapid and aggressive new investment in hospital services, and services across the (health system), to avoid a possible capacity crisis within Ontario’s health-care system this winter.”
The organization is hoping that the provincial government will include extra funding for hospitals in the fall economic statement, as it did last year.
Health Minister Eric Hoskins said that while he is aware there is always more work to be done, health care is a top priority for his government. That’s why the province hiked operating funding for hospitals by 3.1 per cent this year, for an increase of $518 million, he said.
Hoskins also pointed out that his government is spending more than $20 billion on hospital infrastructure over the next decade.
The OHA is worried about a repeat of last winter, which saw many hospitals create “unconventional spaces” for patients because they were so full. Hospitals were forced to convert lounges, classrooms, offices and even storage rooms into patient rooms.
“The root of today’s capacity challenge is that far too many frail elderly patients can’t get access to the care they really need outside of the hospital setting,” Dale said, adding that the province has a good plan to reform the system but needs to pick up the pace.
Frail seniors often find themselves stuck in hospital beds even though they no longer need acute care. There is not enough space for them in long-term care homes or they are not frail enough to require such care. At the same time, they are too frail to return home, even with home-care supports.
There is a big push on in Ontario for the creation of affordable, subsidized congregate living arrangements for seniors where they could get regular help from personal support workers and health-care professionals.
New Democratic Leader Andrea Horwath said the mandate of the upcoming public inquiry into the murder of long-term care home residents should be expanded to address such issues.
The inquiry will look into the circumstances surrounding eight murders to which nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer pleaded guilty in June.
Horwath called on the government to reverse decade of cuts to the health system.
“The last Conservative government fired 6,000 nurses, eliminated 7,000 beds and shuttered dozens of hospitals. When the Liberals came to power, instead of reversing those cuts, they froze health care spending, slashed more front-line jobs, and continued to worsen the health-care crisis across the province,” she said.
Karen and Neno Vukosa left for a holiday to Turks and Caicos on Sept. 2.
Two days later, they were frantically calling airlines, trying to get out of the island that they then knew was about to be hit by a catastrophic, Category 5 hurricane.
“We tried and tried and tried to no avail,” Karen said.
“There was no way to get off that island,” Neno said.
Now they’re home.
Two flights from Providenciales, Turks and Caicos, landed Monday evening in Toronto: one Air Canada flight, and one WestJet flight.
The passengers described harrowing scenes of destruction from Hurricane Irma on that island.
“I’ve never heard anything like that before,” Karen said of the winds during the peak of the hurricane’s impact on Turks and Caicos Thursday.
The couple was in a safe room in a resort. They were not injured, but they were frightened.
“The biggest fear,” Neno said, was not getting out before the oncoming Hurricane Jose struck.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland was at Pearson airport to greet passengers of the Air Canada flight in Terminal 1.
Freeland said tickets weren’t what got people on that plane. The priority was that they were Canadian or with Canadians.
It was important to her, she said, to be at the airport to welcome them home.
She lauded pilot Rex Vijayasingham, who passengers said was instrumental in returning them to Canada.
The plane was supposed to come back Sunday. Freeland said Boris Johnson, the United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, helped assure her that the plane would come back Monday night, with Canadian passengers.
That happened, and there were even extra seats on the two flights for 50 Americans to be able to get off the island.
For those on the flight, getting home to Canada seemed shrouded in uncertainty since last Monday.
Michael Rhude, another of the passengers, described his frustration with Air Canada, which he said never contacted him while he was out of the country.
Rhude and the Vukosas received some updates from Global Affairs Canada, but felt more could have been done to help them out of a dire situation.
“Everyone is coming after the fact,” said Neno, who described Freeland’s trip to the airport as an example.
He felt that the government should have tried to get all Canadians out Monday and Tuesday, before Irma hit.
Instead, they described hearing about this “phantom flight” through the grapevine, and were relieved to get on board.
Now that they’re home, the Vukosa’s concerns are with the local islanders on Turks and Caicos.
“They have a long road ahead of them,” Karen said. Their homes may have been destroyed but still “they helped us where they could,” she said.
Freeland said now that the Canadians are on their ways home, it is time to focus on humanitarian efforts for the islands.
Durham police Chief Paul Martin announced Monday a new policy to ensure Ontario’s police watchdog is called in to investigate serious injuries caused by an officer in his region — regardless of whether the cop was from his force or off duty.
The move comes in the wake of criticism over his force’s handling of what he calls the “disturbing” alleged assault on a Black teen by a Toronto cop in Whitby.
“There may be criticism about what we are doing. That’s OK,” Martin said in a statement, which he read out at the civilian police board meeting in Whitby.
“We’re not doing it to be popular. We are doing it because it is the right thing to do for our community.”
Calling the status quo “inadequate,” Martin said the new policy dictates that if a cop from another service is involved in an interaction in which a civilian was seriously injured, Durham will call in the watchdog — despite that task technically falling to the officer’s employer.
“Let me be absolutely clear: From here on in, if a conflict between one of our citizens and a police officer takes place in our community, and the incident meets the criteria for calling in the (SIU), then I will do so,” Martin said. Up to 2,000 officers from other Ontario police services are believed to live in the Durham area.
Martin said in cases where it’s not clear whether the injuries are severe enough to trigger the SIU’s mandate — the watchdog investigates only those injuries it deems serious — he will err on the side of caution and notify the watchdog regardless.
Durham’s move comes amid controversy over police handling of the beating of 19-year-old Dafonte Miller, who is alleged to have been beaten by off-duty Toronto police officer Michael Theriault and his brother, Christian Theriault, in December. The teen suffered injuries, including such severe damage to an eye it will have to be surgically removed.
Both Theriaults are charged with aggravated assault and assault with a weapon in connection to Miller’s injuries. They also both face public mischief charges for allegedly misleading investigators on the day of the incident.
The criminal charges against the Theriault brothers were laid in July, eight months after the alleged assault. The delay was the result of both Toronto and Durham police failing to notify the SIU of Miller’s injuries.
The police watchdog was notified of Miller’s injuries in April, only after the SIU was informed by Miller’s lawyer, Julian Falconer.
Martin explained that Durham did not notify the SIU because it was Toronto’s job to do as Theriault’s employer, a decision he says was in line with established procedures but that failed to “ensure the public trust.”
In fact, on the night of the incident, Durham investigators charged Miller with assault with a weapon, theft under $5,000 and possession of a small amount of marijuana, charges later withdrawn by the Crown.
Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders has said that Toronto police did not contact the SIU because they did not believe there were grounds to do so because they understood that Michael Theriault had not identified himself as a police officer. (The SIU typically only investigates off-duty police officers if they invoke their status as officers during an interaction that resulted in serious injury, death, or allegations of sexual assault.)
Falconer, however, alleges Michael Theriault identified himself as a police officer when he asked what Miller and his friends were doing right before the brothers’ alleged beating of Miller.
In an interview Monday, Falconer said he was pleased by Martin’s change in policy, calling it an acknowledgement of the “serious disservice and injustice suffered by Dafonte at the hands of Durham police.”
But he noted it did not explain why, on the night of the incident, Durham officers “blindly accepted” the Theriault brothers’ version of events and charged Miller. That includes what Falconer alleges was Durham police’s failure to interview two witnesses about how Miller came to be injured. “Something was seriously rotten in this case,” Falconer said.
Martin said he could not comment on the specifics of the incident because of the ongoing court case.
Durham is believed to be the first police service to formally develop a procedure to notify the SIU about cases involving a police officer from another service, Martin told reporters Monday. The chief said he has informed other police chiefs in the province and acknowledged there “may be criticism.”
Joe Couto, a spokesperson for the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, said Martin briefed its president, Waterloo police chief Bryan Larkin, on the new policy and said it will be discussed at an executive meeting next week.
Couto noted that new provincial legislation expected this fall — stemming from the review on police oversight by Court of Appeal Justice Michael Tulloch — “will help our services be effective and consistent in dealing with these types of unfortunate incidents.”
Among Tulloch’s recommendations is that the province clarify the rules around when police services must notify the SIU and officers’ duty to co-operate with the investigation.
“So the real need here is for the province to clarify so we can better serve,” Couto said.
Asked if Saunders would consider adopting Durham’s police policy in Toronto, spokesperson Mark Pugash said the chief “will consider anything that enhances transparency and accountability.”
Toronto police chair Andy Pringle told the Star on Monday that he’d already asked Saunders to adopt a similar procedure, a request made “almost right away” upon learning about the Miller case. Pringle said any time there’s doubt about whether the SIU should be called in, he believes Toronto should “just do it.”
Pringle said the ball is now in Saunders’s court and “it’s up to him to come back with a policy.”
“I don’t know when he’s going to come back, maybe at the next board meeting — I haven’t asked him when he’s going to come back on that,” Pringle said Monday.
Asked about the status of the independent review of Toronto police actions in the case, Pringle told the Star that the Waterloo Regional Police — called in to perform the mandatory internal review conducted after every SIU investigation — has been temporarily stopped.
Instead, Pringle said the Ministry of the Attorney General recently called Saunders asking him to “put that on hold, because they want to take it over.”
Pringle said he doesn’t know how this development will affect the time frame on the internal review, the results of which are supposed to be brought to the police board within 30 days of the SIU notifying Toronto of the results of its probe.
No further information about the ministry investigation was available by deadline Monday night.
Durham police said they’re treating the discovery of a woman’s torso – found floating near Oshawa Harbour last night – as suspicious.
Const. George Tudos said the torso was found in Lake Ontario by a fisherman at around 8:30 p.m. Monday evening.
Police said in a release on Tuesday that officers found “signs of trauma” on the torso at the scene.
Tudos added that the homicide unit has been called in to investigate.
The Coroner’s office has been called in.
According to police, the torso will undergo a post-mortem examination in Toronto on Tuesday.