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    A man who said he was frustrated at frequent movie shootings at a neighbouring house in Riverdale was arrested Monday afternoon after loud music blaring from his radio disrupted the latest production there.

    Two speakers and an amplifier was set up in his backyard where a radio was blasting in the direction of 450 Pape Ave. during the production of the HBO movie Fahrenheit 451, starring Michael B. Jordan and Scarborough-born YouTube star Lilly Singh.

    Nick Shcherban was charged with mischief — interfere with property, public mischief, criminal harassment and causing a disturbance. He will have a bail hearing Tuesday morning.

    Shcherban said in an interview earlier on Monday that 450 Pape is exclusively and constantly used for filming movies, commercials, and having photo shoots, causing disruptions like excessive noise and blocking access to a TTC bus stop.

    Shcherban said he has twice been offered to be put up in a hotel during production as compensation but rejected it both times. He said the offers were short notice, and on one occasion he needed his daughter to stay at home after surgery.

    Originally built by William Harris in the 1880s, the majestic-looking home at 450 Pape Ave. was bought by the Salvation Army in 1930 and used as a home for single mothers for 75 years. In 2010, the building received heritage designation.

    The property is owned by Riverdale Mansion Ltd. and Eracon Holdings (Pape) Ltd. It was purchased by Eracon Holdings (Pape) Ltd. in May 2015 for $2,300,000.

    Alex Marrero, a partner in Eracon Holdings, forwarded to the Star emails showing that Shcherban has asked for thousands of dollars in compensation for filming next door.

    “I feel very bad that this happened to him,” said Marrero, who said his company uses the profits from renting out 450 Pape to film companies to pay taxes on the place which is currently unoccupied.

    “He says we’ve filmed 25 movies (this past year). I wish, the city would never give the permits.”

    In the past year, Marrero said three films and one commercial were shot on the property.

    Shcherban contacted the Star to complain about the latest production after he also protested the filming of It, a horror film based on a Stephen King novel that was on location for 42 days at that house last year.

    Both the Star and Toronto police received complaints during the audible protest from his backyard.

    When Shcherban concluded his interview with the Star, a police officer approached him to discuss a noise complaint against him. Shcherban told the officer that they would need a warrant to do anything about it, and within 30 minutes, three detectives appeared at his door, warrant in hand.

    It took more than 15 minutes for Shcherban to respond to the detectives after receiving multiple warnings that his door would be broken down if necessary.

    He was escorted out of his home and into a police car, as the film crew watched the dramatic scene.

    “Serves him right,” said a film crew member who witnessed the arrest. “We’ve put billions into the Toronto film industry in the last decade.”

    In March, Eracon Holdings’ proposal to convert the heritage building into a 28-unit apartment building was approved.

    “Last year, it was horrendous,” said Vida Jan, a Riverdale resident referring to the filming of It.

    Jan said that large air conditioning units caused significant noise pollution.

    “It’s kind of a blight on the neighbourhood,” Jan said, adding that “squirrels and raccoons use it as a refuge.”

    While Jan supports Shcherban’s cause, she said the Fahrenheit 451 crew has been “extremely quiet” so far.

    “I had to leave today,” Jan said of the audio protest. “I’m looking after my granddaughter, and it wasn’t the film crew that was making the noise. I had to leave, I said ‘I can’t put her down for a nap here.’ ”

    Shcherban said his complaints have been ignored by Mayor John Tory and Ward 30 councillor Paula Fletcher.

    Tory’s office released a statement late Monday night.

    “The mayor has worked hard to make sure the growth of Toronto’s film and television industry happens in a way that is respectful of our neighbourhoods and residents. City staff confirm that in this particular case the film company did engage the local community to get support/approval for the late night filming. Staff inform us that all production activity and parking is confined to private property and all filming was interior filming.”

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    A Hamilton judge who wore a pro-Donald Trump Make America Great Again hat to court has been suspended for 30 days without pay.

    A four-member discipline panel of the Ontario Judicial Council also ordered Tuesday that Ontario Court Justice Bernd Zabel be reprimanded.

    He has not been hearing cases since December.

    The panel heard last month that 81 complaints had been filed against Zabel, who wore the hat briefly to court the morning after the U.S. election.

    He also said in court that it “pissed off the rest of the judges because they all voted for Hillary, so I was the only Trump supporter up there but that’s okay.”

    Zabel later apologized, saying the hat was an attempt at humour, and that he is not a Trump supporter.

    He told the discipline hearing last month that what he meant by his comments in court was that all the other judges thought Hillary Clinton would win the presidency, but he was the only one who correctly predicted Trump.

    More to come.

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    There’s nothing quite like Nicolas Cage operating at full enthusiasm, and when it comes to his pitch-black new horror-satire Mom and Dad— about adults suddenly becoming overwhelmed with murderous rage towards their offspring — he’s beaming with appropriately manic parental pride.

    Breezing into a Toronto cafe this week in a cowboy hat the morning after a triumphant Midnight Madness premiere— during which a vocal crowd of his worshippers whooped every time he popped onscreen — Cage was in an infectiously ebullient mood. Today was going to be a great day, he predicted, “because I get to talk about a movie I actually love.”

    Indeed, 12 hours after his film’s midnight debut, Cage was still moonstruck.

    In fact, the moment he sat down he turned to co-star Selma Blair and began bombarding her with kudos — “I can’t take my eyes off of her. True story. Bacall but beyond. Iconic. I’m scared of her right now. I’m being honest.”

    When writer-director Brian Taylor joins the table, he isn’t spared such praise either. He could only shake his head gratefully as Cage said he deserved a place alongside filmmaking greats Martin Scorsese, the Coen brothers and Francis Ford Coppola.

    “He’s in the hierarchy,” Cage raved. “Can I be so bold? I’m his (Toshiro) Mifune, he’s my (Akira) Kurosawa. I would do anything for that motherf---er. He’s a genius. He knows where to put the camera.”

    Improbably, Cage’s enthusiasm was equalled the night before by a raucous Toronto International Film Festival crowd that couldn’t have been more ideally suited for Taylor’s gleefully unhinged roller-coaster of an ash-black comedy, in which Cage and Blair’s loveless suburban stasis is suddenly interrupted by a worldwide hysteria that inexplicably renders parents singularly obsessed with murdering their children.

    Before long, they’re descending upon their teen daughter and adolescent son (Anne Winters and Zackary Arthur) wielding electric handsaws and meat tenderizers.

    Before the film’s Toronto International Film Festival debut, Cage had only seen a rough cut about a year ago.

    “I liked it, but I thought it needed work. Then I saw it last night and I was like: ‘F--- yeah.’ It was badass. S--- was off the hook,” raved Cage, who first worked with Taylor on what he calls the “misunderstood” Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. “I told (Taylor): You did it. You broke ground. We had Blair Witch, that broke ground, you just broke ground. There’s never been a movie like this.

    “Top three movies I’ve made in the last 10 years,” he continued, unprompted. “1. Mom and Dad. 2. Drive Angry. 3. Joe. OK? He comes first.”

    Taylor introduced the film by telling the crowd that “this movie has mental problems, and if you’re seeing it, then you also have mental problems.” And the director, who presided over the stylish Crank films with longtime partner Mark Neveldine, concedes he couldn’t really trust himself to know where the line should be in a film about adults brutalizing kids.

    “There were some times watching the movie back where we were like: we should’ve killed more kids there,” he said with a laugh.

    “Is it so weird that I don’t think it’s mental?” wondered Blair, who had only the most fleeting concerns about the film. “Not much shocks me. I’m totally past it but you do go: ‘Ooh, I’m a mom in this.’ I’m always thought of as a little odd anyhow, and I try to put on a conservative front in my life because I’m so spooky to people.”

    “You might get a few dirty looks from the other moms at school,” Taylor said.

    “Or looks of acknowledgment,” she replied wryly.

    Cage, of course, had no concerns at all about throwing himself into the gonzo flick with wild-hearted commitment. He recalls Taylor telling him at some point that the film might piss people off. Cage’s response? “It had better.”

    “When I read it — I’ve always been a punk rocker, Vampire’s Kiss, punk rock, I’ve always been a fan of the Sex Pistols,” said Cage, whose left hand was decorated with thick, colourful rings. “I’m always looking to break that envelope, tear the space-time envelope — how can I rock you? How can I shock you? That’s who I am. And I read this script, I said: Brian, we’re making this movie.”

    Where Blair grounds the movie with a nuanced but still demented-when-necessary portrayal, Cage — not renowned for his restraint — lets completely loose in a performance that seems winkingly designed to be the stuff dream memes are made of.

    “To get really geeky, Cage is — you know Cyclops in the X-Men, he’s got that visor he puts on and when he takes it off, he’ll take out 10 buildings? That’s trying to direct Nick,” Taylor said. “You always know that power’s there.”

    Well, it’s not easy to steer a conversation with an energized Cage either, but it’s exhilarating to be along for the ride. He drops juicy nuggets of detail then briskly moves on without further explanation. Asked whether he and Blair had crossed paths over the years, he turns to her in a conciliatory manner.

    “Selma and I . . . what do you want to say?” he asks her as she laughs. “She lived in my house. Is that OK?”

    “Many moons ago, yes,” she agrees, noting that they’d nevertheless gotten to know each other only recently. “We’ll leave it at that.”

    Later, he finishes another rave review of Blair’s performance with a gloriously unexpected non-sequitur.

    “She’s bringing the Golden Age back,” he said. “I’m serious. And I am wearing Charles Bronson’s hat.”


    “Dude. Oh my God.”

    He pops his hat off and offers it across the table, pointing to the inscription: “Inspired by Charles Bronson’s hat in Once Upon a Time in the West, custom-made for Nicolas Cage.”

    “So this is the first time Charlie and I have been together. We should have made a movie together,” he mused. “Anyway, I’m getting a little verklempt. What else can we talk about?”

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    On Sunday night, during the NDP’s eighth and final debate in the campaign to replace Tom Mulcair, leadership hopeful Jagmeet Singh introduced to many Canadians the concept of chardi kala.

    Chardi kala is an important principle in Sikhism, which Singh learned from his mother. “It’s the idea of maintaining optimism in the face of adversity,” he said.

    That certainly came in handy the previous night when a heckler confronted him at a campaign rally accusing him of supporting Sharia law and the Muslim Brotherhood.

    The woman, Jennifer Bush, a supporter of the anti-Islamic group Rise Canada (no surprise), claimed later at an annual Ford fest (no surprise) that – surprise! — she knew Singh was not Muslim but was questioning his policies. She also claimed: “I’m not racist.”

    Excuse me while I barf.

    Now that’s pretty far from chardi kala. Then again, I am not on a stage trying to set an example for my supporters.

    Singh was.

    His “love and courage” reaction has since gone viral. He has been heaped with praise for taking the moral high ground, for inspiring people, and for showing his true mettle.

    Read more:

    Heckler at NDP Jagmeet Singh event demonstrates why minorities are deterred from politics, prof says

    New book on Canadian racism firmly refutes ‘We’re not as bad as the U.S.’ sentiment: Paradkar

    L’Oréal’s firing of Munroe Bergdorf boiled down to one word: Paradkar

    The reality is what choice did Singh have?

    Imagine if he’d asked for her to be taken off stage.

    Imagine if he’d challenged her (surely leading to a shouting match).

    Imagine if he had used humour to defuse the situation.

    Imagine if he did what a Canadian journalist suggested, and said, “I’m not Muslim.”

    He would have been castigated for being high-handed, aggressive, not taking racism seriously or tacitly agreeing that the attack was warranted on Muslims.

    Singh stated he didn’t clarify that he was not Muslim because he rejected the premise of the argument. “I didn’t answer the question because my response to Islamophobia has never been ‘I’m not Muslim.’ It has always been and will be that ‘hate is wrong,’ ” he said in a statement released on social media on Saturday.

    We’ve seen this before.

    Back in 2008, when Barack Obama was a presidential hopeful, the Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell lamented to NBC his party members’ suggestions that Obama was Muslim, as if it was a smear, because of his middle name, Hussein.

    “Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian,” Powell said. “But the really right answer is: ‘What if he is?’ ”

    Turning the other cheek is supposed to be the Christian, or in this case, Sikh, thing to do. Yet, it’s an expectation unfailingly placed on racialized and Indigenous people who face the dual burden of facing the attack and then having their reaction unduly scrutinized with any perceived slight used to indict their communities.

    Were a Justin Trudeau or Stephen Harper in Singh’s place, their reactions, too, would be dissected, but they would not be seen as reflective of all white people.

    The heckling incident was not Singh’s first brush with overt racism.

    “You know, growing up as a brown-skinned, turbanned man, I’ve faced things like this before,” he said. Yet, his reaction has to pass standards set by those who’ve never experienced racism.

    For eight years, Obama balanced a tight rope of not appearing weak but also not showing anger lest he be branded with the ‘angry Black man’ stereotype. Donald Trump, meanwhile, can go off the rails and not worry about representing all white people.

    Anger expressed by white people is passion. The same emotion from a Black man or a turbaned man is a threat.

    The position that calm forgiveness occupies on the moral high ground is indisputable. Some people may find it helps them heal and move forward.

    But it’s important to acknowledge that it does nothing to end racism; on the contrary, it is the reaction that placates white comfort by leaving undisrupted the self-image of niceness and innocence.

    All that the automatic expectation of forgiveness does is draw a tight boundary around expressions of pain and stifle the voices of those struggling to be heard.

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

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    Calling the rise in temporary work “alarming,” Ontario’s labour minister is promising changes to legislation that will encourage companies “to return to the day when they hired people full time.”

    “We looked at a number of avenues … to change” the reliance on temporary workers, Kevin Flynn said at Queen’s Park on Monday, following revelations in a Star investigation showing how temporary agencies have proliferated across the province, giving workers no job security and little training. Statistics show temp workers are also more likely to be injured in the workplace.

    “People in Ontario expect to have full-time work if they want it … what we are saying is that if you are doing the same job in the province of Ontario, there is no justification for any differential you should be paid by the company.”

    Read more:

    I went undercover in a Toronto factory where a temp worker died. Here's what I found

    One year after this temp agency worker died at Fiera Foods, family is still searching for answers

    Ontario must toughen law to protect temporary workers: Editorial

    The Ontario government’s Bill 148, which has passed first reading and gone out for consultation this summer, addresses some concerns around temporary work, including pay, scheduling and unionization.

    One area left unaddressed by the proposed legislation is the fact that if a temp worker is injured on the job, their agency, not the workplace where they were actually injured, is liable to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. This, critics argue, is one of the biggest incentives for companies to use temporary help agencies in the first place.

    Flynn said his ministry is looking into the issue.

    One option that was considered — but dismissed — was to limit the number of such employees in any one workplace because it “seemed like it would be a bureaucratic nightmare. We figure we’d get right to where the issue is — that we take away the incentive to use temporary help agencies, to stop the flourishing of this business. We believe that is far more effective.”

    If workers hired by a company or brought in temporarily are making the same hourly rate, “there is no incentive … to go through an agency.”

    “Right now, you’ll have somebody that is making $20 an hour standing next to somebody who is making $12 an hour, doing essentially the same work. We just say that’s not on in the province of Ontario, and the way we plan to address that is by the equal pay provisions.”

    Research commissioned by the Ontario government found that temp workers are vulnerable and among the most “precariously employed of all workers.”

    The Star’s Sara Mojtehedzadeh went undercover at Fiera Foods, an industrial bakery in North York that has racked up numerous health and safety infractions and where a worker died last year.

    She and investigative reporter Brendan Kennedy found that temporary agencies have increased by 20 per cent in Ontario in just the past 10 years — with 1,700 now in Greater Toronto. Companies use them to lower costs and reduce their responsibilities for employees. Firms also avoid full liability — and cut their insurance premiums — at the workers’ compensation board for accidents that occur on the job because the responsibility is transferred to the temp agency.

    It is unclear how equal pay provisions would change things at Fiera Foods, where Mojtehedzadeh found almost every worker she met on an assembly line was temporary and had been brought in through an agency.

    Temporary agencies themselves are not the problem, Flynn said, as “they’ve existed for years and some of them do an incredible job and some people make an awful lot of money working for temp agencies. What we are concerned about is the proliferation of temporary help agencies taking the place of what is essentially full-time employment.”

    He said the Star’s investigation “was a clear indication that there’s a problem out there that needs to be solved.”

    “We’ve known that for some time in the Ministry of Labour, these are the problems we go out an investigate on a daily basis, so I think (the stories) injected a bit of reality in the situation in a way we couldn’t do at the Ministry of Labour. Reading it on the front page of a large newspaper I think really did help.”

    The province’s ultimate goal is to “take any financial incentive to use a temporary help agency unless it’s a legitimate need,” he said.

    “We’re going to make it equal for somebody to hire somebody either through an agency or as a full-time employee.”

    NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the Liberal government has twice tried to improve the lives of temporary workers over the past 14 years “and they’ve failed miserably. So then we see the horror stories that we’ve heard about, the loss of life … this has been the regime in Ontario for 14 years now. It’s not acceptable and the New Democrats made commitments before the Liberals even brought Bill 148 forward around making sure that every worker in the province is paid the same.

    “So if temp agencies still exist, they’re going to have to exist in a different way than to utilize low wages as a way to incent employers to use their services.”

    Ontario PC finance critic Vic Fedeli said, “Everybody in Ontario wants to know that there are full-time opportunities available and that you can work in a safe environment,” he said. “I think everybody strives towards that.”

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    Increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour could cost 50,000 jobs, warns Ontario’s independent fiscal watchdog.

    The Financial Accountability Office on Tuesday released a six-page assessment of the Liberal government’s forthcoming hike to the $11.40-an-hour wage, which will jump to $14 in January and $15 in 2019.

    “On net, the FAO estimates that Ontario’s proposed minimum wage increase will result in a loss of approximately 50,000 jobs (0.7 per cent of total employment), with job losses concentrated among teens and young adults,” the office said.

    “The higher minimum wage will increase payroll costs for Ontario businesses, leading to some job losses for lower income workers,” it continued, echoing the concerns of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and other business groups.

    “At the same time, higher labour income and household spending will boost economic activity leading to some offsetting job gains.”

    The FAO estimates the number of minimum wage workers will climb from about 520,000 to 1.6 million by 2019.

    “As well, under a $15 minimum wage, adults and those with full-time jobs would represent the majority of minimum wage workers,” it said.

    “By comparison, under the current minimum wage of $11.40 per hour, teens and young adults and those with part-time jobs account for the majority of minimum wage workers.”

    The non-partisan office noted “there is evidence to suggest that the job losses could be larger” than 50,000.

    That’s because “Ontario’s proposed minimum wage increase is both larger and more rapid than past experience, providing businesses with a greater incentive to reduce costs more aggressively.”

    But the FAO cautioned that its analysis “did not consider other potential non-economic benefits of a minimum wage increase, including improving workers’ well-being and health outcomes.”

    In a statement, Labour Minister Kevin Flynn noted Ontario’s economy is growing and can absorb the higher wages.

    “Our economy created more than 30,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate is sitting at 5.7 per cent, the lowest level in more than a decade,” said Flynn.

    “Thanks to our strong economy, we’re now in a position to move forward with positive changes for workers in Ontario. We know the cost of doing nothing is simply too high — too high for workers and too high for our economy,” he said.

    “Many leading economists share this belief. Studies written over the past number of years — including work done by the OECD, the Center for Economic and Policy Research, and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives — lay out the long-term benefits of higher wages for low-income workers, as well as the economic benefits that come with alleviating this problem.”

    Flynn argued that “low wages are bad for the economy.”

    “We don’t believe that anyone in Ontario who works full time should be struggling to pay their rent, put food on their tables or care for their families — especially when the provincial economy is doing so well.”

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    A long, silhouetted body reposes on Lake Ontario’s western shore, facing downtown Toronto, as if watching over the city.

    The 25-foot, driftwood installation is a tribute to Toronto from artists Julie Ryan and Thelia Sanders-Shelton.

    “It’s just a figure, an androgynous one caught bathing,” Ryan said. “We wanted to do something sculptural to show that we could do it, to prove to ourselves that we could.”

    On Tuesday morning at Humber Bay Park, the reclining stick figure sat in front of a washed-out cityscape with slender pieces of wood assuming the appearance of tendons roping around a lean frame.

    The duo, who used thick pieces of wood to function as the skeleton and then drove deck screws through the outer pieces of wood to secure them to the frame, said they expect it to be finished Friday, adding that it’s already taken two weeks.

    Multiple guerrilla art pieces built of natural objects have cropped up on Toronto shores this summer, some large others small. A stone’s throw away from the site stands another artwork the pair made in July, one they consider to be less ambitious, though increasingly popular on Instagram: a Toronto sign with a heart made of the same material.

    On Canada Day, Ryan, 51, and Sanders-Shelton, 49, created another sign celebrating 150 years since Confederation, but it was later vandalized and destroyed, they said.

    To the east, the Leslie St. Spit appears to act as a magnet for creative impulses: you don’t have to walk far to come across delicately stacked rocks by anonymous creators. Brian Pace pieced together bits of concrete debris to make small sculptures on the spit in 2010. And more recently, another artist has built towering, villa-like formations there, intriguing — and confounding — locals for years. He, too, made use of what was most plentiful in the area: bricks rounded smooth by the waves, in his case.

    A complex made by Robert Zunke was demolished over the summer, but about three weeks ago, he sent the Star images depicting large, elaborate structures rebuilt in its place.

    Unlike Zunke, who is seemingly indifferent to praise and prefers to keep a low-profile, the driver behind Ryan and Sanders-Shelton’s project is the enthusiasm and support emanating from surrounding community, they said.

    “We have scores of people who thank us,” Ryan said. “The community has been fabulous.”

    Indeed, during about an hour spent at the site, at least five people stopped to chat and offer compliments.

    “It’s amazing,” said Soudabeh Majidi, a nearby resident and art teacher. “I was just telling them it’s amazing to create art using nature without having too much impact (on the environment).”

    Roger Weaver, who also lives in the area, has seen each project progress, he said.

    “I love it,” he said. “It’s something different to look at. I’m just so impressed by the quality of it.”

    The voluntary installation is being completed without charge. The women plan to crowdsource other community art projects in the future.

    “We’re working really hard,” said Sanders-Shelton. “We’re putting in long days. It’s physical, mental, emotional, it’s all of that, and while we’re not getting paid, per se, we are in other ways. The response is incredible.”

    0 0

    Most people know what a U-turn is when they see one, but if you asked the province of Ontario for a definition of the manoeuvre, it wouldn’t have an answer.

    Brampton resident Michael Robinson realized this in September 2015when he was on his way to pick up his wife from her job at Wal-Mart, driving north on Sunforest Dr. He turned left into a driveway, reversed his car and proceeded south — a standard three-point turn.

    Robinson was pulled over by a Peel Region police officer for disobeying a “No U-turn” sign and given a ticket.

    But is a three-point turn also a U-turn? The police say yes, even though the Ontario Highway Traffic Act does not offer a clear definition of a U-turn or a three-point turn.

    Robinson disagreed so he fought the ticket in court.

    A three-point turn, Robinson argued in court, is a series of manoeuvres, while a U-turn is one continuous motion.

    “It does not take rocket science and a higher education to understand the shape of a U in our alphabet,” Robinson told the Star in an interview. “Unfortunately the vagueness and ambiguity within our laws allows different interpretations . . . The goal is about road safety. I believe that I practised very good road manners and safety.”

    The officer who pulled him over testified that Robinson did a U-turn because his vehicle did not fully leave the roadway during the three-point turn.

    Neither argument was central to the verdict.

    On Aug. 18, Robinson was found guilty of disobeying a sign.

    Section 143 of the Highway Traffic Act refers to a U-turn as a turn “so as to proceed in the opposite direction,” and that was what led to Robinson’s charge.

    Justice of the Peace Richard Quon heard the case and produced a 42-page ruling, which concluded: “A three-point turn as a driving manoeuvre is not defined in the Highway Traffic Act . . . and as such, a three-point turn for the purposes of the Highway Traffic Act is not legally distinct from a U-turn manoeuvre.

    “The defendant’s turns and driving manoeuvre . . . constitute a U-turn manoeuvre within the meaning of the Highway Traffic Act, since their purpose had been to facilitate the motor vehicle turning around to proceed in the opposite direction.”

    Robinson said he was given two demerit points, but the usual fine of $85 was waived.

    The Ministry of Transportation told the Star that Robinson “was charged with changing the direction of travel . . . regardless of the matter in which the change was executed. This type of manoeuvre was prohibited at the location.”

    Jordan Donich, a traffic lawyer at Donich Law in Toronto who wasn’t part of the case, told the Star that a driver’s intent to turn around is more important than the manoeuvre itself.

    “How ridiculous would it be if all someone would need to get around an illegal U-turn would be to stop two or three times along the way?” Donich asked. “The U-turn is there not necessarily to prevent a U-turn necessarily, it’s because it’s unsafe to make a 180 and proceed the other way . . . it’s not so much about the manner in how you turn.”

    Donich said that the absence of a definition of a U-turn is intentional.

    “They want to have liberal interpretation of your behaviour. If it’s too clearly defined, people can then create a conduct that may not fit the definition and get off free.”

    Daniel Slovak, a paralegal at Traffic Ticket Knights in Markham, also agreed with the ruling.

    “He was trying complete something illegal by maneuvering in a different way, he should have been a little bit more creative,” Slovak said. “I would have pulled into the driveway. I would count, one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi.”

    Robinson is still frustrated by the decision.

    “It was based not on constitutional or charter law but a vague common law practice of favouring breach ‘intent of the law,’ ” Robinson said. “Had I the time or funds I would pursue it further.

    “In the end the little guy suffers. Those who are unaware just go on paying fines.”

    0 0

    It’s too early for predictions.

    That’s true for the Toronto Maple Leafs Stanley Cup prospects — training camp doesn’t convene until later this week, and there’s a 50-year history of shattered dreams and crushed hopes available to deter anyone tempted to start planning Auston Matthews’ parade.

    And it’s also true of the 2018 Toronto mayoral election, which is more than a year away and doesn’t even officially start until May of next year.

    It’s too early to figure out what might happen. Not that that is going to stop anyone from trying, in either case.

    “You can see a Stanley Cup from here,” Steve Simmons wrote this week in the Toronto Sun, as if he didn’t think the city has suffered enough heartbreak and needs to be set up for more.

    “John Tory would easily defeat Doug Ford in a head-to-head race for mayor, but his lead will shrink considerably if a progressive candidate enters the race, a new poll has found,” Chris Fox wrote at CTV news this week, as if the city hasn’t suffered enough Doug Ford and needs to begin dwelling on the man again as soon as possible.

    Look, people. Nobody knows anything. Not newspaper columnists, not pollsters, not talking head experts who are supposed to know it all. They think they do. They display every confidence as they ramble on about what is absolutely certain to happen. But they can’t predict squat. Certainly not a year ahead of time. And they never could.

    Read more:

    John Tory strips deputy mayor of title after Doug Ford endorsement

    Doug Ford will run for mayor in 2018 rematch

    Doug Ford parade visit in union shirt raises hackles

    Forget sports for a minute — an area that supports a multi-billion-dollar gambling industry specifically because no one knows what will happen and everyone thinks they do — and look a moment just at Toronto politics.

    I began writing professionally about Toronto elections in 2003, when we were all absolutely certain that Barbara Hall was going to walk into the mayor’s office. I remember 2010, when George Smitherman was said to be an unstoppable force. I remember 2014, when it was thought that Olivia Chow was a lock to win. In three-quarters of the elections since 2003, the person who was supposed to be a sure thing a year before the election lost. In half of those years, the early favourite didn’t even finish second.

    The walls of a hallway I walk through every day here at the Star office are papered with front pages from the past telling the same thing about elections through the decades. From 1990 — 27 years ago this week — Bob Rae’s shocking victory as premier over David Peterson, whose re-election was thought to be “as certain as anything in politics” when the campaign launched just over one month earlier. From 1976, the banner “JOE WHO?” about the unknown underdog who had just been elected leader of the Conservative party. From 1972, the headline “I didn’t think I could win” about how new mayor David Crombie had been elected after a campaign in which he was such a long-shot he almost dropped out.

    A year before their respective elections, Naheed Nenshi, Donald Trump, Barack Obama and Justin Trudeau were all expected to lose — if they were expected to run at all.

    So please, let’s not talk about who’s going to win the Toronto election, because I don’t know. And you don’t either.

    What seems fairly certain now is that Doug Ford is going to run, since he announced as much late last week at a party in his Mama’s backyard.

    It also seems fairly certain that John Tory will run again, since he’s always said that’s his plan. His poll numbers look strong, though it’s an interesting sign of how inspired some people feel by his candidacy that one of his deputy mayors, Vincent Crisanti, showed up at the Ford Family Compound to make a speech introducing Doug’s mayoral bid and has endorsed Ford already.

    What’s less clear is whether any high-profile progressive candidates will step into the ring with Tory and Ford. Pollsters have run some names up the flagpole — Mike Layton, Joe Cressy, Jennifer Keesmaat — but it doesn’t seem to me those people have done anything to encourage speculation about their possible candidacies (indeed, Keesmaat, at least, has flatly rejected the idea of running.)

    One progressive councillor I spoke to earlier this summer explained that most high-profile contenders would probably keep their powder dry this time, expecting Tory to be unbeatable. They would focus instead on some key council races that could turn the balance of city power — trying to find a leftist majority to either work with or oppose Tory in his second term — and then think about running to replace him in 2022.

    I know former Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment president Richard Peddie has been looking around for a progressive candidate to support — without ruling himself out entirely — but last I’ve heard he had yet to find someone.

    I would expect that Peddie, as a former sports executive, would realize that now is not the time to start forecasting the results of the championship contest, but the time to lay the groundwork for it.

    Take Auston Matthews: asked about his team’s prospects for this season, he didn’t make any certain predictions — he wasn’t warning about a sophomore jinx or talking about booking permits for a parade route. What he told Star reporter Kevin McGran was, “Everybody is fired up to get the season going.”

    What about progressive city hall types? They talk a lot about what Tory is doing wrong, about the many ways they think he is simply Ford-lite. Ford-heavy has made it clear he plans to force a rematch. What about the Ford-free faction? Are they prepared to put their vision to the people?

    It isn’t time for them to start conceding defeat. Nobody knows anything about what will happen in a campaign that doesn’t begin until May. But anyone who wants to have a chance has to start preparing a game plan now, as Ford and Tory are. And as the Leafs are.

    It’s too early for those of us watching to make predictions. But it’s the perfect time for those who hope to influence the result to get fired up to get the season going.

    Edward Keenan writes on city issues . Follow: @thekeenanwire

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    ST. JOHN’S, NL—Two years after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said “Canada is back” on the world stage, the federal Liberal government is preparing to host a major international peacekeeping conference but will not announce where it will deploy Canadian assets, the Star has learned.

    Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said in an exclusive interview that the government has not yet decided on a mission, and won’t before the UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial forum in Vancouver on Nov. 14 and 15.

    The summit was envisioned to seek pledges of troops for UN peace operations, but Sajjan said the Canadian government took lessons from a similar summit last year in London, and does not want the Vancouver conference to be just about “announcements.”

    Some 500 delegates from 70 countries are expected to attend the event, according to the defence department.

    Sajjan suggested he would not be drawn into making pledges. “One of the things we need to get away from and what I’ve seen in the past is nations come in and say this is what we’ll offer, that doesn’t actually provide the impact.”

    Read more:

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    Another senior government source said that retired senator and lieutenant-general Roméo Dallaire has proposed to Trudeau that the government use Canadian military assets and expertise to form a specialized standalone military unit whose goal is the de-militarization of child soldiers — that can be mobile, deployed anywhere to UN peacekeeping missions, as needed.

    The source said that idea is under serious consideration.

    “What we in Canada want to do is not just be able to say is ‘hey, this is the mission we’re going into,’” said Sajjan, speaking at a cabinet retreat in Newfoundland. Sajjan said more important is the question of “how can we in Canada contribute to making the UN even better. That’s what we want to do.” He said the government wants to aim its efforts at addressing the root causes of conflict in global hotspots.

    Still, that means the government’s promise to recommit Canadian Forces to UN peace operations, after a decade where the previous Conservative government refused multiple UN peacekeeping requests for Africa, remains in limbo.

    The Trudeau government had pledged upwards of 600 soldiers and 150 police officers for a UN peace mission that it said would likely be deployed in Africa.

    The Star has previously reported the options prepared for cabinet last year suggested a deployment at the upper range of those numbers would have the greatest impact and offer the best chance of success.

    At the time the French government, under president Francois Hollande, was pressing hard for Canada to send its soldiers into Mali. However, another senior government official told the Star Tuesday that changed with the change in government in France, and Emmanuel Macron at the head.

    Sajjan denied the government was trying to delay the decision or getting cold feet, simply that it rejects “an artificial deadline.”

    “How many years have some of the conflicts been going on, right?”

    Sajjan said he wants any Canadian mission or missions to make a long-term difference using Canadian expertise on reducing “violence against women and how we’re going to reduce the child soldiers that are being recruited.”

    “This is not about cold feet, this is really about having a tangible impact.”

    Sajjan said the Trudeau government took a similar approach to Canadian participation in Operation Impact, part of the global coalition against Daesh in Syria and Iraq — a mission he said has been adjusted as needed — and in Operation Reassurance, the NATO operations in Latvia.

    Sajjan, separately, pointed to “great work” done by Dallaire in the area of child soldiers, adding Canada has lots of experience with “bringing in gender based analysis into missions” and with capacity-building. He said the question is “How do we incorporate that in the United Nations?”

    “Progress has been made,” said Sajjan. “We look forward to this mission but we’re going to have an impact when we do make it (the decision).”

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    Apple held one of its biggest launch events in years, introducing new versions of the iPhone, Apple TV and Apple Watch, to bolster its product lines.

    In the lead-up to the event, which was the first event to be held in the new Steve Jobs theatre at the company’s new state-of-the art headquarters, there was much speculation about what would be announced. And just as in previous years, many of the leaks turned out to be true.

    Here’s a rundown of what is new, and what potential customers can expect from the company’s updated product line:

    What’s the new iPhone X all about? Calling it “the future of the smartphone,” Apple debuted the much hyped 10th anniversary product, the iPhone X is coming with a 5.8-inch edge-to-edge display and facial-recognition software that will let you unlock it just by looking at it. The new phone can be used with Apple Pay and some third-party apps.

    What else is new? Coming in silver and grey, the biggest change is that it won’t have a home button.

    It will also have two 12 megapixel cameras, as well as the company’s new portrait-lighting feature which promises better selfies.

    Much of the time spent on the new product at the launch featured the facial-recognition software. This is a feature that has been available on Samsung phones since last year.

    How much will I have to fork out to get one? It will be the most expensive iPhone ever starting at — are you sitting down? — $1,319 in Canada, for the 64GB configuration.

    When can I get the new phone? Preorders start October 27 and the phones are scheduled to be available November 3.

    What are Animojis? One of the fun additions is the creation of animated emojis, or Animojis, where users can speak and have digital characters move as they did.

    Are there other versions of the phone? In addition to the iPhone X, the company is releasing an iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, which look similar to the iPhone 7s but have a new glass design and a new faster processor, the A11 Bionic. They also have new speakers, which are 25 per cent louder than the previous generation. They will be available in silver grey and a new gold finish. The iPhone 8 with 64 GB starts at $929. Pre-orders start on September 15 and will be available a week later, on September 22.

    Apple also touted its new operating system, iOS 11, will be available on September 19.

    What’s up with the Apple Watch Series 3? The latest edition of the Apple Watch will have a new OS, and will become an even better heart-rate monitor. But the big add is cellular capability; the watch will have more functionality without being tethered to the iPhone. Siri will now be able to talk on it. The watch still has the same design, which is a surprise, and comes with a processor that is 70 per cent faster.

    Listening to music on a watch? Yes, for the first time, Apple Watch will support streaming music, and let users listen on the go without their phone.

    How much is the new watch? In Canada, Bell will be the provider in Series 3 with cellular, and it starts at $519. The non-cellular version will also be available and start at $429.

    What’s up with Apple TV? Apple TV 4K was announced, and will support both Dolby Vision and HDR10, competing formats for High Dynamic Range, which show vibrant colours on Ultra HD screens. It also has a new A10X chip, which is more than twice as fast as the previous version. In the U.S., there will be live sports and local news. It is unknown if this kind of content will be available in Canada. Apple TV 4K starts at $229 for 32GB or $249 for 64GB.

    Wireless charging? Really? In another first for Apple, Apple products will support wireless charging, made possible with support from Qi Charging and the fact that the new products will have glass in front and at the back.

    The company also announced a new wireless charging pad, AirPower, that will be able to charge the new phones and watches and even AirPods, the company’s wireless earbuds, if the consumer buys a new special case for them. The AirPower pad is coming out sometime in 2018.

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    The journey from their hurricane-ravaged home in Houston was frightening for 39 rescue dogs, some refusing to eat or leave their cages for fresh air when the four-van convoy took breaks on its way back to Toronto.

    For volunteers, the hardest part of the trip wasn’t unloading the dogs for walks, cleaning up soiled crates or the more than 24 hours of driving.

    It was saying goodbye.

    “Just having three grown men, sitting in a van, bawling their eyes out was something that I was not going to forget any time soon,” said Curtis Cluett, a volunteer.

    Cluett and eight other volunteers from Redemption Paws, a Toronto-based, non-for-profit organization, parted with the dogs on Monday morning after a weekend rescue trip.

    The volunteers arrived in Texas on Friday to help animal rescue and sanctuary organizations like Hot Mess Pooches find a new home for some of its dogs in the wake of the hurricane.

    “It was controlled chaos to say the least,” Cluett said. The shelter received an additional 15 to 20 dogs after word of the Redemption Dogs’ trip spread, but the volunteers were only able to safely transport an additional two Rat Terriers.

    “All of these dogs were very loved,” Cluett said. “It was hard seeing these people who cared so deeply about their pets having to give them up.”

    The exchange process took volunteers about four hours. First, they unloaded the humanitarian supplies brought down from Toronto, and then filled up the vans. Poodles, a cockapoo, Great Danes, three Dalmatians (one of which had its eyes surgically removed following an infection), Chihuahuas, husky mixes, and other pups wagged their ways into dog crates, and hit the road.

    Nicole Simone, founder of Redemption Dogs, said the organization has already received over 2,000 informal requests for adoption from all over Canada.

    “It’s a bit crazy,” she said, adding that she’s gotten calls late at night inquiring about adoption. Simone said four dogs will be available for adoption at a time, and the applications are now available on the organization’s website, where people can also make donations to support future rescue missions.

    They have raised about $29,000 so far, and may embark on another journey to Houston or provide animal rescue relief related to Hurricane Irma.

    As for the Houston mission, Simone said Redemption Dogs made a promise to the shelters that they would continue caring for the dogs, which will mean restricting adoption applications to the GTA to facilitate check-ins.

    “After somebody adopts the dog we’ll be checking in regularly via home or email, and we expect people to keep in touch for the rest of the dog’s life,” she said. Being there to support the animal after adoption, if needed, is part of the organization’s philosophy of ethical rescue.

    For now, the dogs are being housed at the OSPCA headquarters in Stouffville, after the organization stepped in and offered to help out with veterinary checks. There is a mandatory 10-day quarantine period for international rescues before they are put up for adoption, Simone said.

    “It’s hard knowing that these dogs are going to be basically alone for the next 10 days,” said Cluett, reminiscing on dogs like Luke and Leia, a black Labrador pair, or Gabriel, who had all the volunteers head over heels.

    “I think that this is one of the most important things I’ve ever done.”

    With files from Bryann Aguilar

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    After a few impatient drivers zip past students who haven’t cleared the intersection, a white Dodge Ram turns left onto Wilson Ave. in front of Pierre Laporte Middle School, blowing through a red light.

    It’s been less than 20 minutes since the final bell, and Principal Paolo Peloso has already witnessed at least three drivers making dangerous manoeuvres at an intersection bustling with students.

    “Even this morning, I was out there again and I saw two girls crossing . . . and a car just zooms in front. They had to stop in order to avoid being hit,” Peloso said.

    The school of about 400 students applied to have a crossing guard at the end of the last school year. It’s one of at least 49 schools waiting for an assessment by Toronto Police, who administer the crossing guard program.

    Peloso and Vice-Principal Arlene Wheeler have made a point of coming out to monitor before- and after-school traffic at Wilson Ave. and Julian Rd., just west of Keele St. The area has seen an influx of traffic now that construction is complete at the new Humber River Hospital, located across the street from the school, on the south side of Wilson Ave.

    Last Friday, on only the fourth day of the new school year, a Grade 7 student was struck by a car about two kilometres west of Pierre Laporte while crossing Wilson Ave. on her way to school.

    The school sent a letter to parents informing them of the incident, but some parents had already voiced concerns about the intersection to Peloso last school year.

    Though the student was not seriously injured, Peloso believes the incident underscores the need to have a crossing guard at the intersection as soon as possible.

    “We don’t want to wait until somebody gets hurt,” Peloso said.

    Because the school only runs three buses, most students take transit or get picked up by parents. Peloso said the hospital’s opening has increased TTC traffic on Wilson Ave., including a new stop in front of the school, which is more convenient for students.

    Councillor Maria Augimeri, of Ward 9 York Centre, has worked with Pierre Laporte and other schools in her ward on getting crossing guards, and said she believes the program should be administered by the city.

    Toronto Police have been running the program since 1947. According to the 2017 police budget, it costs $8.59 million to administer the program.

    Const. Derrick Martin, a school crossing guard co-ordinator with Toronto Police Traffic Services, said the city will be taking over the program “very soon.”

    Applications for a school crossing guard are currently received by the office of the police chief and then sent out to the divisions, which then conduct a daylong traffic assessment. These assessments are done in the order the applications are received and not triaged based on public safety, Martin told the Star. At Pierre Laporte, this assessment is slated for the beginning of 2018.

    “This is typical,” said Martin of the wait time for a guard. “All the requests usually come around the beginning of the school year and then they taper off.”

    There are about 600 to 700 crossing guards who are usually paid to work three hours a day, and cover the morning, after-school and lunch hours. The guards are hired and trained by police, and considered civilian employees.

    When crossing guards are absent from duty, police officers are dispatched to fill in.

    “The community welcomed the GTA’s largest hospital into our ward knowing that we would have some challenges,” Councillor Augimeri said. She credits Peloso and Wheeler, the “dynamic duo” at Pierre Laporte, for making safety a priority as they await a decision on a crossing guard.

    “They are the most outstanding staff I’ve ever witnessed,” she said.

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    Metrolinx will undertake a “thorough and comprehensive” review of two proposed new GO Transit stations, after a Star investigation revealed the provincial transportation ministry pressured the arm’s-length agency into approving the stops.

    However, critics are already slamming the review as inadequate because while it will make recommendations about whether Metrolinx should proceed with the controversial stations, the agency hasn’t committed to examining the role that political interference may have played in the stops’ approval.

    One of the proposed stations, Kirby, is in the Vaughan riding represented by Ontario Liberal Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca. The other, Lawrence East in Scarborough, is part of Mayor John Tory’s “SmartTrack” plan.

    Documents obtained through a freedom of information request show that in June 2016 the Metrolinx board voted in secret not to build the two stations, which were not supported by studies the agency had commissioned. The board then reconvened in public and endorsed them after Del Duca’s ministry intervened.

    Read more:

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    The Kirby station is estimated to cost about $100 million to build, while the price tag for Lawrence East is estimated at $23 million.

    In a letter Metrolinx posted online Tuesday afternoon, board chair Rob Prichard said he had directed agency management to “initiate a thorough and comprehensive review of all the relevant analyses and information” for both stations.

    According to the letter, which was addressed to Del Duca and dated Sept. 8, as part of the review Metrolinx will gather updated information about the stops including submissions from the cities of Vaughan and Toronto on proposed land-use changes around the station sites, population and jobs projections, local transit plans “and any other relevant information.”

    Hours before Metrolinx released the letter, Del Duca, refused to elaborate on what role if any he played in pressuring Metrolinx into approving the stations last year, saying he wouldn’t comment on “historical details.”

    Appearing at an unrelated news conference in Burlington, Ont., the minister said the important thing is that Metrolinx won’t move forward with the stops unless further analysis determines they’re warranted.

    “Metrolinx will not enter into any contractual obligations or spend any money until they’re satisfied that both Lawrence East and Kirby are justified,” Del Duca said. “If the Metrolinx management and board are satisfied that they are justified, they’ll go forward... if the evidence isn’t there, the stations won’t go forward.”

    Business cases commissioned by Metrolinx before the board vote determined that both Kirby and Lawrence East would cause a net loss of ridership on the GO network, because they wouldn’t attract enough new riders to offset the number of passengers who would stop taking transit due to the longer travel time the additional stations would cause.

    A report prepared for Metrolinx by a consultant firm in June 2016 recommended against building the stations, as did initial drafts of agency board reports.

    The documents obtained by the Star show the board met behind closed doors June 15, 2016 and voted not to go ahead with the stops, but a day later Del Duca’s ministry sent the agency draft press releases indicating he intended to announce stations that the board hadn’t approved.

    The press releases shocked Metrolinx officials. After discussions between agency leaders and ministry staff however, Metrolinx’s board reconvened in public June 28, 2016, and approved the two stops as part of a list of 12 new stations under GO Transit’s $13.5-billion regional express rail expansion plan.

    Board reports were rewritten to support the two stations. Metrolinx didn’t release business cases for the new stops it had considered until almost nine months after the vote. The agency never published the consultant report that recommended against Kirby and Lawrence East, but the Star obtained a copy.

    On Tuesday Del Duca declined to discuss whether he had directed Metrolinx leaders to approve the two stations.

    “I was given an opportunity to provide my input. I provided my input with respect to those decisions,” he replied, echoing statements he made to the Star in June.

    He did not explain why his ministry drafted press releases that showed he planned to announce stations Metrolinx hadn’t approved.

    “You’re focused on the historical details, I’m focused on the go-forward,” he told a reporter.

    The minister evaded the question when asked whether the approval of the two stations was free from political influence.

    “I think on a go-forward basis what the most important thing for us to recognize is that Metrolinx is going to make sure they’re satisfied that both Lawrence East and Kirby are justified based on the analysis that they’re going to do,” he replied.

    Progressive Conservative transportation critic Michael Harris called on Del Duca to “come clean” about his role in the stations’ approval. He accused Metrolinx and the Liberal government of “running away” from the issue by supporting the review, which he predicted wouldn’t get to the bottom of why the stations were endorsed despite not being supported by the reports.

    “I don’t have confidence or faith in either the minister’s office or Metrolinx to be honest and transparent with taxpayers on how this decision was made,” said Harris, who is the MPP for Kitchener-Conestoga.

    “We all know at the end of the day, as we’ve seen with this decision, that the Metrolinx board is unfortunately at the beck and call of the minister for political decisions.”

    Harris has asked the provincial auditor general to conduct a “full value for money audit” of the two stops.

    According to Prichard’s letter, Metrolinx management will report back with recommendations stemming from the review in time for the board’s February 2018 meeting. Prichard wrote that Del Duca has confirmed that he will “respect and support whatever conclusion the board reaches.”

    The province is expected to enter into contracts for new GO Transit stations in the spring of next year.

    A spokesperson for Tory said his office welcomes the review.

    “City staff have recommended Lawrence East as a stop for SmartTrack and as an important part of the Scarborough transit network plan. City council has voted to move ahead with SmartTrack and the province has endorsed this plan,” wrote Don Peat in an email.

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    John Tory has stripped one of his deputy mayors of the title after he endorsed Doug Ford for mayor in 2018.

    On Tuesday, Councillor Vincent Crisanti, who represents Ward 1 (Etobicoke North) said he was backing Doug Ford in the coming election, leveling a major blow in a campaign that has not yet begun officially.

    The move prompted Tory to oust him.

    “I thank Councillor Crisanti for his time in this position,” read an emailed statement from Tory. “But, based on his words and actions over the past few days, he has clearly stated he does not support my administration and intends to campaign for another candidate who has an approach that I believe will take the city backwards.”

    Tory named rookie councillor Stephen Holyday (Ward 3 Etobicoke Centre) as Crisanti’s replacement, calling him a “strong voice for Etobicoke.”

    Crisanti, a long-time ally of the Fords, told the Star Tory called him Tuesday to tell him his role as deputy mayor had been revoked.

    “We had a very civil discussion,” Crisanti said. “I made it very clear with John that I was prepared to continue to serve . . . but clearly John doesn’t feel comfortable with that and I can understand that, too.”

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    The councillor’s allegiances came into question after he appeared centre stage at the annual Ford family BBQ, dubbed “Ford Fest,” held at Ford’s mother’s home in Etobicoke on Friday.

    “Wow! Let me say this: if anyone doubts the power of Ford Nation, come here tonight,” Crisanti told the crowd Friday. “I’m honoured to be here tonight. I’m honoured to always support Ford Fest, and here we are supporting the Ford family any way we can. I was thinking to myself about Rob Ford. Rob Ford is with us. He is everywhere tonight. I had such a great, very close relationship with Rob. I was first elected in 2010 with the support of Rob Ford and I’m here today because of the Fords.”

    On Monday, Tory was asked whether a deputy mayor could support a different mayoral contender.

    “I would expect they wouldn’t, to be frank,” Tory told reporters. “When that appointment is made, I think it carries with it the expectation that you’re an important part of the team.”

    Tory named four deputy mayors in 2014. North York Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong wields the official powers of deputy mayor, while the appointments of Crisanti, Scarborough Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker and the late downtown councillor Pam McConnell were largely symbolic. The appointments followed a campaign promise of uniting a city, often divided along urban and suburban lines, under the banner of “One Toronto.”

    As deputy mayors, the four have represented Tory at various functions and — with the exception of McConnell — have been largely loyal to Tory within the council chamber on major policy votes.

    Crisanti came to city hall under Rob Ford’s administration with the mayor’s support, beating incumbent Suzan Hall after two unsuccessful attempts in 2000 and 2003.

    He supported the Fords in important moves including ousting former TTC CEO Gary Webster when he opposed the push to extend the Sheppard subway and on failed votes such as the one held on a possible downtown casino.

    “We have a very great relationship. We always have,” Crisanti said of the Fords.

    The 2018 campaign does not start until May 1, when the nomination period begins.

    Ford declared his intentions to launch a rematch with Tory, who has always promised to run for a second term, at Ford Fest on Friday.

    With files from David Rider and Emily Mathieu

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    The most popular college and university programs are business, administration and law — but all the jobs are in engineering and information technology, says a new international report on education.

    Following trends in the 30-plus other developed nations included by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), about 29 per cent of Canadian post-secondary students are taking business and law, and about 11 per cent engineering, manufacturing and construction.

    While overall, university graduates still have much higher employment rates and earn more, engineering and information and computer technology sectors have the highest employment rates, the report says.

    “(Post-secondary) enrolment is expanding rapidly, with very strong returns for individuals and taxpayers, but new evidence shows that universities can fail to offer, and individuals fail to pursue, the fields of study that promise the greatest labour-market opportunities,” said the OECD in a written release.

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    Its report “finds that business, administration and law are the most popular careers in countries surveyed, chosen by around one in four students. This compares to 16 per cent in engineering, construction and manufacturing, and less than 5 per cent of students study information and communication technologies, despite graduates in these subjects having the highest employment rate on average across OECD countries, exceeding 90 per cent in about a third of them.”

    Deb Matthews, Ontario’s minister of advanced education and skills development, said the OECD report is further evidence that college and university “remains a worthwhile investment for students for their future” and noted the government’s new student aid program that provides students from lower-income homes with free tuition — they receive more in non-repayable grants than they have to pay in fees.

    “Post-secondary education and training is a key pillar of Ontario’s economic strategy; seven out of every 10 new jobs created in Ontario are expected to require post-secondary education or training,” she said in a written statement to the Star.

    “However, we know there is more to be done to prepare students with the skills they need for a changing economy, and that work must be done in collaboration with post-secondary institutions. We are working together with colleges and universities … to set the foundation for broader post-secondary education system transformation, including in areas like experiential learning, teaching quality and economic development.”

    Another report released Tuesday found Ontario workers need to be better equipped to face the changing job market. The report, by the Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity, also urged that students not only learn “broader skill sets,” but for post-secondary institutions to make sure they get input from employers to help shape programming.

    Meanwhile, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce has warned that Ontarians are worried about their outdated job skills, saying what workers are trained for doesn’t necessarily match what employers are looking for.

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    ST. JOHN’S, NL—The federal Liberal government has swept aside growing police concerns over the July 2018 timeline to legalize marijuana in Canada, saying the deadline is “reasonable” and can be met.

    Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale told reporters Wednesday the government has put “very significant” money — up to $274 million — into supporting the ability of police and border guards to enforce new rules which would come into effect next July 1, under two bills now being studied in parliament.

    But Canadian police chiefs believe their forces aren’t ready and neither is the Canadian public.

    On Tuesday, officials from the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, the OPP and Saskatoon police testified at a health committee studying the bill to legalize pot that they need more time to properly train officers, to more than double the number of officers who are certified to do roadside testing for drug impaired drivers, and to raise public awareness about the impairment effects of smoking marijuana. They want a delay of another six months to a year.

    Goodale, who meets provincial justice and public safety ministers later this week, said he will discuss those concerns but he disagreed that the government was moving too fast.

    He said he’ll “listen very carefully” to all the expert advice at parliamentary hearings and didn’t directly reject the police chiefs’ request for a delay, but Goodale suggested it is not necessary.

    “This is a large transformative initiative. When you bring forward that kind of measure obviously it challenges people to meet the objectives but the timeline is a solid one. The deadline is 10 or 11 months away so there’s time there to move forward.”

    “We believe that the time frame we’ve set out is reasonable. We’ve put new money on the table to help achieve the objectives and the mood among all of those that need to work on this is a constructive mood. Naturally people will ask questions and raise issues. That’s what this process is about.”

    When reporters asked again if delay was an option, Goodale replied: “Look, we’ve set the objective in July of next year and we’re anxious to achieve that objective.”

    Quebec is another province that is flagging concerns about the federal government’s push into what it regards as provincial areas of responsibility – health services and administration of justice. A government source says that is in part why the Health portfolio was given to a francophone Ginette Pettipas-Taylor in last month’s cabinet shuffle.

    And while the Trudeau government refuses to delay its pot plans, it is content to drag its feet on another major government policy – the decision to deploy Canadian military on a UN peacekeeping mission.

    Nearly two years after saying “Canada’s back” on the world stage and vowing to reengage Canadian troops abroad in support of United Nations peace operations in Africa, the Trudeau government has now decided to put off the decision on where to deploy.

    It comes as Canada is set to host a major international peacekeeping conference which was launched last year in London to elicit troop pledges from countries in support of the UN.

    Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan told the Star in an exclusive interview that the delay was “not about cold feet” but said the government was determined to make the “right” decision and have “an actual impact on the ground.”

    On Wednesday he denied Canada would be embarrassed in front of its allies. “Our allies want us to make a responsible decision,” and know Canada is committed “to making this decision,” said Sajjan.

    Sajjan took few questions and walked into cabinet meetings as a reporter asked whether this latest delay would prevent Canada from winning its coveted seat on the UN security council, he did not answer.

    The federal cabinet retreat ends Wednesday with a news conference by the prime minister as the government heads into a challenging fall with NAFTA negotiations set to resume later this month in Ottawa. That deal is crucial to Canada’s economy, and the Conservatives are urging the government to focus on jobs and market access for Canadian goods and services to the giant U.S. market.

    Environment Minister Catherine McKenna made a point of saying the economy goes hand in hand with the environment at the NAFTA talks for Canada. She hosts an international ministerial meeting on climate change in Montreal Friday and Saturday, which representatives of the United States and China are expected to attend.

    McKenna said it’s important to the Liberal government that the words “climate change” or “greenhouse gas emissions” are in a new, enforceable chapter on the environment in the main agreement.

    “We believe we should be reflecting those words” McKenna told reporters. “This is of course a negotiation. When the (U.S.) President (Donald Trump) and the prime minister met there was a statement that reflected the need to work together for clean air, clean water, including the Great Lakes, and energy innovation, so that’s getting there.”

    “This is diplomacy and I think it’s really important to engage,” said McKenna. “I don’t think we differ from the United States in that we want good jobs, we want to attract investment, we want clean air and water and we want a better future for our kids.”

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    The salaries of the two top players at the Toronto Parking Authority remain a secret despite all other senior executives voluntarily releasing their pay.

    The parking authority released a list of salaries of senior management to the Star on Friday. The salaries of president Lorne Persiko and Marie Casista, vice-president of real estate and marketing — both of whom are currently on paid leave pending an investigation into a questionable land deal— were censored.

    “Where there are individuals for which the information is not provided, the individual did not give consent to disclose,” said a letter from the parking authority accompanying the list of salaries. The only information provided about Persiko’s remuneration is that he is afforded a leased vehicle.

    Persiko and Casista were put on paid leave after a damning auditor general’s report released in June concluded the parking authority was planning to overpay for a parcel of land in North York by more than $2.5 million.

    The authority — which manages all Green P parking in Toronto — is currently under new direction from interim president Andy Koropeski. The board is now chaired by city manager Peter Wallace, who, in an extraordinary measure, was put in place by city council following the auditor’s report.

    The Star has tried for more than a year to find out how much Persiko and other parking authority executives are paid. The city agency hired an employment law firm and spent more than $5,000 to thwart those requests.

    Read more:

    Toronto Parking Authority keeps executive salaries secret

    Mayor John Tory calls for parking authority salaries to be released

    Senior Toronto parking execs suspended during land deal investigation

    Typically, the salaries of heads of city agencies and corporations can be found on the province’s public sector salary (Sunshine) list. The parking authority is exempt, the city has said, because even though it collects hundreds of millions on behalf of the city it receives no public funding.

    In July, Mayor John Tory told the Star he believed the salaries should be public and asked staff to find a way to make that possible.

    “All the money in the Toronto Parking Authority is public money,” Tory told the Star then.

    Persiko did not return a request for comment Friday. Casista’s husband, Real Casista, told the Star on Friday that her salary was “personal information.”

    The following annual base salaries and taxable benefits for 2016 were released by the authority Friday:

    • Andy Koropeski, vice-president of operations: $203,310: $2,230;

    • Robin Oliphant, vice-president of finance: $203,310: $2,595;

    • Remy Iomanaco, vice-president of design and construction: $203,310: $2,230;

    • Ian Maher, vice-president of strategic planning and IT: $203,310: $2,230;

    • Michael Konikoff, head of marketing: $185,000;

    • Arlene Yam Fritz, head of human resources: $185,000.

    More than a year ago, the Star filed an access-to-information request for the salaries of Persiko and other top executives. The request was rejected by the parking authority on the grounds that salaries were “employment-related matters.”

    The Star appealed that request to the province’s information commissioner, and a decision is expected in the fall. (A subsequent access-to-information request revealed the authority spent $5,346 in legal fees fighting the appeal.)

    In the meantime, the authority released the above salaries voluntarily.

    Auditor General Beverly Romeo-Beehler released her report in June about the now-cancelled land deal. It followed a 10-month investigation by her office after concerns were raised by authority board member John Filion about a land deal at Finch Ave. West and Arrow Rd., near Hwy. 400.

    Romeo-Beehler’s report found the parking authority would have overpaid $2.63 million for the nearly five-acre parcel.

    The deal, she told council, resulted from a “hairball” of relationships and potential conflicts involving Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, the Emery Village BIA, a lobbyist working for the BIA, the TPA executives and a sign consultant working for the TPA.

    Jennifer Pagliaro can be reached at (416) 869-4556 or

    Jayme Poisson can be reached at (416) 814-2725

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    Canadian incomes have risen by more than 10 per cent over the last decade, fuelled by a booming resource sector, but the number of low-income persons is rising in Ontario where growth has been sluggish, Statistics Canada says.

    New data from the 2016 census reveals that the median income of Canadian households rose to $70,336 in 2015, up 10.8 per cent from $63,457 in 2005.

    The jump is attributed to high resource prices that attracted investment and workers to Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland, pumped up the construction sector and saw wealth filter through the economy, Statistics Canada said Wednesday.

    Read more:

    Highlights from the 2016 census

    Census 2016: Canada’s population gains and losses

    Census reveals that young adults are living with their parents longer

    “The story of the last 10 years is really about the resource rich areas. They’ve drawn investment, they’ve drawn population and median incomes have risen faster there than for other areas,” Andrew Heisz, assistant director of income statistics division at Statistics Canada, said in an interview.

    But the story is not so rosy in Ontario, where the downturn in the manufacturing sector slowed income growth and the proportion of low-income residents has been on the rise.

    The median income in Ontario was $74,287 in 2015, up just 3.8 per cent over the last decade, the slowest growth of any province or territory over the last decade.

    That’s attributed to the gutting of the manufacturing sector and the loss of 318,000 jobs, down 30 per cent over the last decade,

    Almost every metropolitan centre in Ontario saw below average income growth, compared to the booming Prairies, where incomes rose above average. The Greater Toronto Area had a median income of $78,373 in 2015, up 3.3 per cent. In the GTA, Oakville had the highest median income at $113,666. The City of Toronto had the lowest at $65,829.

    The last decade has also seen a rise in low-income rates in Ontario’s urban centres, led by London (17 per cent, up from 13 per cent) and Windsor (17.5 per cent, from 14 per cent).

    In 2015, 14.4 per cent of Ontario residents — some 1.9 million people — were low income, up from 12.9 per cent in 2005.

    Nationwide, the low-income rate edged up slightly over the decade to 14.2 per cent in 2015, from 14 per cent a decade earlier.

    “We see a relative stability in low income. That means in this period of growth, people aren’t falling further behind. But they aren’t necessarily catching up either,” Heisz said.

    “A decline in the low income rate is possible if incomes of lower income persons are rising faster than the median. But that hasn’t been the case here,” he said.

    (Statistics Canada defines a low-income household as one having less than half of the median income of all households.)

    That means 4.8 million Canadians were living in a low-income household in 2015, some 1.2 million of them children.

    Lone-parent families and those with more than one children are more likely to be low-income, Statistics Canada.

    In seven of the country’s largest 35 urban centres, at least one in five children was living in a low-income household. And among those cities, Windsor had the highest rate of children (24 per cent) living in low-income households. That’s partly because the southern Ontario city saw a 6.4 per cent drop in household income, the largest decline of any large city. London, St. Catharines-Niagara and Belleville also had more than 20 per cent of children living in low-income conditions.

    However, Statistics Canada says that the proportion of low-income children has been dropping since the mid-1990s, thanks in part to government programs. The average child benefit received by families has nearly doubled since the mid-1990s, the agency says.

    “We know from other research that government transfers are important for reducing people in low income. More progressive transfers, such as child benefits, play an important role in reducing the low income rate among families with children,” Heisz said.

    The 10.8 per cent rise in income over the most recent decade compared with 9.2 per cent growth in the previous decade and a decline of 1.8 per cent in the decade before that.

    Tapping natural riches have fattened the wallets of Canadians living in resource-rich provinces and territories, led by Nunavut (36.7 per cent) and Saskatchewan (36.5 per cent).

    However, Statistics Canada cautions that census results do not account for the sharp drop-off in oil prices that hit the economy and stalled the resource sector in 2015 and 2016.

    New Brunswick had the lowest median income in Canada ($59,347), followed by Quebec ($59,822).

    Other findings from Wednesday’s release include:

    • Same-sex couples have higher incomes, in part because a greater proportion are in their prime working years. Female same-sex couples had a median income of $92,857 and male couples had a median income of $100,707.

    • In nearly half of all couples, a male had relatively higher incomes while at 17 per cent, a female had the higher income.

    • Nearly one-third of all couples have fairly equal incomes, up from 30 years ago when only 20 per cent of couples had similar incomes.

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    MONTREAL—For a taste of the challenges that could await Thomas Mulcair’s successor in Quebec consider the following: On Tuesday, Longueuil-Saint-Hubert MP Pierre Nantel told le Devoir that he and possibly others might prefer to sit as independents than to serve in the House of Commons under any of the non-Quebec candidates vying for the NDP leadership.

    In an open letter published Thursday, Nantel — who currently serves as the party’s heritage critic — writes that it was Jack Layton’s promise of a party respectful of Quebec’s national character that drew him along with many of the province’s voters to the NDP in 2011.

    From his perspective, the fact that Charlie Angus, Niki Ashton and Jagmeet Singh have all spoken out against Quebec’s plan to prevent individuals wearing face coverings from dispensing or receiving public services amounts to a breach of that promise.

    The bill currently debated in the National Assembly would essentially impact the minority of Muslim women who wear the niqab and the burka.

    MP Guy Caron — the only Quebec candidate in the running — has said that while he disagrees with the bill he would, as federal leader, respect the will of the National Assembly on the matter.

    Ashton, Singh and Angus have argued that Quebec’s secular character should not be affirmed at the expense of constitutionally protected religious freedoms.

    In his letter, Nantel warns that under a leader set on a collision course with the National Assembly on secularism the NDP could lose its tenuous connection with nationalist Quebecers and, by the same token, set the cause of federalism back in the province.

    Nantel will support Caron in the leadership vote, but there is more at play here than the jostling that often attends the last stretch of a competitive political contest.

    Indeed this MP’s crisis of confidence in some of his party’s values predates the entry of any of the current leadership aspirants in the campaign to succeed Mulcair.

    In the last campaign Nantel was one of a handful of Quebec New Democrat candidates who broke ranks and came out in support of the proposed Conservative niqab ban at citizenship ceremonies.

    Back in January, the local media in Nantel’s Montreal South Shore riding reported that he was considering a run for the Parti Québécois in next year’s Quebec election. On Wednesday he described that scenario as “hypothetical.”

    Nantel is a popular, hard-working MP. He would be a catch for a momentum-hungry PQ for more reasons than one.

    His federal riding includes much of the provincial riding of Vachon. That happens to be the seat currently held in the National Assembly by Martine Ouellet, the latest leader of the Bloc Québécois. She is expected to vacate it to run federally in 2019.

    In the last federal election, Nantel kept his federal seat with a slim 700-vote majority. The Bloc won a solid 27 per cent of the vote. If he were to make the jump to the provincial arena and a solid PQ riding, he would in the process provide Ouellet with as clear a federal run in Longueuil-Saint-Hubert in 2019 as she could hope for.

    In terms of raw politics this could be described as a win-win quid pro quo.

    That being said, there is more to Nantel’s lament than an isolated case of positioning in the possible hope of a more promising political future under a different banner.

    There is a widespread fear among the party’s rank-and-file in Quebec that the nationalist-friendly terms set out by Layton and Mulcair to bring the province under the NDP tent will become moot under a less Quebec-savvy leader. And that as a result, the province’s New Democrats will no longer be competitive.

    In his letter Nantel readily admits that, in contrast with Caron, he is not a lifelong NDP supporter but rather a Layton convert. But the New Democrat predicament in Quebec is that the party has more supporters like Nantel than like Caron.

    Justin Trudeau’s Liberals assume that they would benefit from a fading NDP presence in Quebec. That assumption is almost certainly right when it comes to ridings like Mulcair’s Outremont that happen to be home to a diverse and solid federalist constituency.

    But in other areas of the province, it could give a breath of life to a moribund Bloc Québécois.

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

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