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    MONTREAL—A man who was arrested after police found his 6-year-old son, who had been the subject of an Amber Alert, remains in an Ontario hospital.

    The boy vanished from St-Eustache, Que., on Thursday and his father was apprehended in Ontario nearly 24 hours later. By then, the body of the boy’s mother had also been discovered in the family home.

    Ontario Provincial Police say the man suffered injuries that required medical assessment and he was sent to hospital Saturday.

    Read more:

    Amber alert case ends with Quebec man arrested in Ontario

    Father of Quebec boy who was subject of Amber Alert sustains injuries in custody

    The man appeared by video link earlier in the day from a police station in Renfrew, Ont., where he had been held since his arrest on Friday night.

    Quebec provincial police have not responded to requests for comment about what charges the man might face when he returns to his home province.

    As of Sunday afternoon, it was not yet clear when the man would be transferred to Quebec police.

    “This man will be back in Quebec when his health conditions are better,” said spokesperson Claude Denis.

    Meanwhile, volunteers and police officers continued their search Sunday for a 71-year-old man who has been missing from Lachute, Que., west of Montreal, since Friday.

    Yvon Lacasse previously used the car in which the 6-year-old boy was found safe.

    Denis says investigators now want to speak to a motorcyclist who could be a useful witness and are asking for help from the public.

    Police have images from a surveillance camera that show a motorcyclist in Lachute who may have seen Lacasse’s car Thursday at about 6 p.m. — the time police say the car was stolen.

    “In the pictures, we can see the motorcyclist and we can also see the car of Mr. Lacasse,” Denis said Sunday.

    Denis is also asking motorists, campers and others living in the area between Lachute and Rouyn-Noranda, Que., to check ditches, cabins and backyards as the search for missing man continues.

    Lacasse is bald with brown eyes, five feet five inches tall and weighs just under 100 pounds.

    Police are asking anyone who thinks they may have seen him to call 911.


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    GREENSBORO, N.C.—A fair worker who was trying to fix a broken Ferris wheel in North Carolina fell from the ride and suffered minor injuries.

    Cellphone video posted on WHAS11 showed the worker climbing up the Ferris wheel after one of the gondola cars began to tilt out of its normal position Friday night. The television station reported that at least one young boy was inside the stuck gondola car.

    When the worker dislodged the car, he lost his balance and fell, banging his body on the ride.

    The Central Carolina Fair in Greensboro said in a statement Saturday that the worker was taken to a hospital. He was later released.

    The ride was inspected by state officials and approved for future use.


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    Toronto police have identified the 54-year-old man shot and killed near Regent Park early Saturday morning.

    Everone Paul Mitchell was visiting a nearby residence when the shooting took place around Gerrard and River Sts., police said.

    Another victim, 57, was taken to trauma centre with non life-threatening injuries.

    Police are still gathering evidence and accessing video surveillance.


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    Michael Berger ran his 20th Terry Fox Run on Sunday, this time with his 10-year-old son Ryan, who was riding beside him on his scooter.

    They high-fived each other at the finish line, marking another run completed by their family, and another since Berger lost his parents to cancer.

    The 47-year-old said the death of his father Gerald in 1998 was what inspired him to take part in the annual tradition.

    “Right after my father was diagnosed, he became very involved with (Terry Fox) runs,” Berger said. “He was in treatment while he did his first run and since then, we’ve continued that legacy.”

    The event is also a way for the family to remember Berger’s mother Ruth, who died of cancer shortly after his father passed away.

    His family has raised over $250,000 since 1998, and they reached their highest yearly amount at $22,000 this year.

    “It’s a really nice way to connect with my parents,” he said. “We try to reach out to their friends and our friends every year and raise money in their name.”

    Berger and his family have participated in runs all around Canada, making sure that even with their various moves across the country, that they wouldn’t miss a run.

    “We’ve been to Richmond Hill, Vancouver and Toronto,” Berger said, adding that Wilket Creek Park in Toronto has been a favourite venue among his family.

    Jonathan Selman, co-chair of the Terry Fox Wilket Creek run, also took park for his 20th year.

    The Wilket Creek run — one of 220 runs in Ontario, has raised almost $10 million since it began 37 years ago, Selman said.

    “Terry Fox is a Canadian hero,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to give back to Canada and the community. I’m part of a really good group of organizers here.”

    While country-wide donations are still being calculated, more than $13 million has been confirmed to be raised this year in Ontario, said Martha McClew, provincial director of the Terry Fox Foundation.


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    WASHINGTON —In the latest instance of U.S. President Donald Trump seeming to revel in the notion of physical attacks against perceived enemies, the president retweeted an animated GIF showing him hitting a golf ball that knocks down Hillary Clinton.

    Critics swiftly responded. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., appearing on ABC’s This Week, said: “It’s distressing to have a president that frankly will tweet and retweet things as juvenile as that.”

    The original Twitter post, from a user whose Twitter handle consists of an expletive, was sent last week and retweeted Sunday by the president, who is spending the weekend at his New Jersey golf property.

    A former Trump campaign strategist, David Urban, brushed off the controversy. “Retweets do not equal endorsements,” he said on CNN’s State of the Union.

    The president has previously taken to Twitter to retweet animations, including one that depicted him pummeling a figure with a CNN logo superimposed on his head. Another presidential Twitter share last month, later deleted, showed a train hitting a person, again with a CNN logo imposed on the figure’s head.

    Trump associates have previously dismissed criticism of such retweets, suggesting they were intended to be humorous.

    Clinton’s new book about the campaign was released last week, and Trump has repeatedly used Twitter to deride her as a sore loser.

    In the first part of the animation Trump retweeted on Sunday, the president is seen in golf attire, teeing off. The second shows footage of Clinton tripping as she boards a plane, with the video altered to show her being struck in the back with a golf ball.

    Read more news about U.S President Donald TrumpEND


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    SANTO DOMINGO, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC—The world’s oldest person has died in Jamaica. Violet Brown was 117 years and 189 days old.

    Prime Minister Andrew Holness expressed his condolences in a Facebook post, calling her “an inspiring woman.”

    The woman known as “Aunt V” died Friday at a local hospital, where she had been treated for heart arrhythmia and dehydration.

    With her death, the Gerontology Research Group lists Nabi Tajima of Japan as the oldest surviving person. She was born on Aug. 4, 1900.

    Brown was born Violet Moss — or Mosse: Both spellings were sometimes used — on March 10, 1900, and spent much of her life cutting sugar cane near her home in the Duanvale district in western Jamaica.

    A biography posted on the website of a foundation named in her honour said she was baptized at age 13 at the Trittonvale Baptist Church and remained a member throughout her life, long serving as organist. She credited her longevity to hard work and her Christian faith.

    Her husband, Augustus Brown, died in 1997 and the eldest of her six children died in April at age 97.

    In an interview this year with The Associated Press, Brown said she was surprised but grateful to have lived so long.

    “This is what God has given me, so I have to take it,” she said.


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    PARIS—Four American college students were attacked with acid Sunday at a train station in the French city of Marseille, but French authorities so far do not think extremist views motivated the 41-year-old woman who was arrested as the alleged assailant, the local prosecutor’s office and the students’ school said.

    Boston College, a private Jesuit university in Massachusetts, said in a statement Sunday that the four female students were treated for burns at a Marseille hospital after they were sprayed in the face with acid on Sunday morning. The statement said the four all were juniors studying abroad, three of them at the college’s Paris program.

    “It appears that the students are fine, considering the circumstances, though they may require additional treatment for burns,” Nick Gozik, who directs Boston College’s Office of International Programs. “We have been in contact with the students and their parents and remain in touch with French officials and the U.S. Embassy regarding the incident.”

    Police in France described the suspect as “disturbed” and said the attack was not thought at this point to be terror-related, according the university’s statement.

    The Paris prosecutor’s office said earlier Sunday that its counter-terrorism division had decided for the time being not to assume jurisdiction for investigating the attack. The prosecutor’s office in the capital, which has responsibility for all terror-related cases in France, did not explain the reasoning behind the decision.

    A spokesperson for the Marseille prosecutor’s office told The Associated Press in a telephone call that the suspect did not make any extremist threats or declarations during the late morning attack at the city’s Saint Charles train station. She said there were no obvious indications that the woman’s actions were terror-related.

    The spokesperson spoke on condition of anonymity, per the custom of the French judicial system. She said all four of the victims were in their 20s and treated at a hospital, two of them for shock. The suspect was taken into police custody.

    Boston College identified the students as Courtney Siverling, Charlotte Kaufman, Michelle Krug and Kelsey Korsten.

    The Marseille fire department was alerted just after 11 a.m. and dispatched four vehicles and 14 firefighters to the train station, a department spokeswoman said.

    Two of the Americans were “slightly injured” with acid but did not require emergency medical treatment from medics at the scene, the spokesperson said. She requested anonymity in keeping with fire department protocol.

    Regional newspaper La Provence, quoting unidentified police officials, reported that the suspect had a history of mental health problems and noted that she remained at the site of the attack without trying to flee.

    A spokesperson for the United States embassy in Paris said the U.S. consulate in Marseille was in contact with French authorities.

    U.S. authorities in France are not immediately commenting on what happened to protect the privacy of the American tourists, embassy spokesman Alex Daniels said.

    Marseille is a port city in southern France that is closer to Barcelona than Paris.

    In previous incidents in Marseille, a driver deliberately rammed into two bus stops last month, killing a woman, but officials said it wasn’t terror-related.

    In April, French police said they thwarted an imminent “terror attack” and arrested two suspected radicals in Marseille just days before the first round of France’s presidential election. Paris prosecutor Francois Molins told reporters the two suspects “were getting ready to carry out an imminent, violent action.”

    In January 2016, a 15-year-old Turkish Kurd was arrested after attacking a Jewish teacher on a Marseille street. He told police he acted in the name of Daesh, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

    Read more: Terrorism doesn’t pay in Marseille, but organized crime does


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    MONTREAL—After years working birthday parties, private functions and public festivals, of making people laugh for profit as Yahou the clown, Guillaume Vermette decided to follow his dream.

    The 29-year-old from Trois-Rivières, Que., sold his entertainment company two years ago, launched a fundraising campaign, filled a backpack and dove into a new life marked by overwhelming misery, suffering, violence and desperation.

    Vermette, a full-time humanitarian clown, has never felt so enriched. He has never felt so enraged, either.

    Now his shows are for street kids in Haiti and Burkina Faso, Syrian refugees in Greece and Jordan, Burmese refugees in Thailand and Russian orphans living in ramshackle conditions.

    “Yes, it’s rough sometimes,” he admitted in a recent interview. “If you brought me a recipe to save the world I’d drop my clown nose and do it.”

    But the world ricochets from the ruins of Syria and Iraq, to the Rohingya Muslims fleeing a campaign of ethnic cleansing in Burma, to the heightened nuclear threat from North Korea. And Vermette’s red plastic nose, powder blue suit, red suspenders and, sometimes, ballerina’s pink tutu are never in the closet for long.

    In conversation he rants against injustice, exploitation, prejudice and intolerance. He says that what he has seen in the last year or so convinces him that the world is becoming an uglier place. Then he bursts out in an unbridled laugh.

    “You have to accept that you can’t change the world. You have to accept that the world is a horrible place,” he said. “To embody change is the best thing you can do—and to be positive. But to be honest, it’s getting harder and harder. I thought it would get easier but it’s not.”

    The first time he put on a costume was about 12 years ago while working as a summer camp counsellor in the Inuit community of Salluit in northern Quebec.

    He was a 17-year-old white kid working with Inuit youth not much younger than he was but who were already facing serious personal, social and substance-abuse issues. One day, Vermette went into the camp’s costume closet on his break, dressed up and started walking through the streets, marveling at the reaction.

    “It was fun, but I felt there was something more—a human contact,” he said. “It allows you to realize that we are all the same. We laugh at the same things. We are touched by the same things.”

    An idea was born. He took private clown courses, created his own entertainment company at the age of 19 and enrolled in university, studying psychology. It grew to the point where he had 30 performers working for him and no time to continue his studies.

    Some of the profits from Yahou Productions went to pay for humanitarian work, but he was frustrated by bureaucracy trying to get into hospitals and orphanages, where his tricks and gags might brighten someone’s day.

    In 2011, a friend slipped Vermette a piece of paper with a telephone number and the name of Patch AdamsPatch Adams, the American doctor and activist clown portrayed by Robin Williams in the 1998 movie. It took him two weeks to work up his courage.

    “I called and introduced myself as Guillaume the clown from Trois-Rivières in very bad English at the time. He listened to me and, at the end, asked me to come with him to Russia with about 40 other clowns to tour the orphanages,” Vermette said.

    In the years since, Vermette has been to Russia 17 times working with an organization called Maria’s Children, that visits orphanages and hospitals and helps the survivors of the 2004 Beslan school massacre in which about 330 people, including 180 children, were killed by Chechen terrorists after a three-day hostage situation.

    One of the kids, Ruslan, lost his father and sister in the Beslan attack. Ruslan’s only surviving relative, his mother, has never really recovered from the trauma, Vermette said.

    “I don’t do shows for him because it doesn’t interest him. He needs a presence. He needs a mother and a brother and that’s what I give him as best as I can.”

    Patch Adams, perhaps the world’s most famous humanitarian clown, is no longer just an inspiration for Vermette. He is a friend.

    “I think the strongest thing that Guillaume brings is that he really has a deeply loving heart for all people,” Adams said in a telephone interview.

    He’s also become well respected in the community of itinerant performers who cross paths in far-flung refugee camps or come together for humanitarian missions.

    “A clown like Guillaume could be making a really decent wage. Circus is back in a big way. With his skills and experience he could be absolutely packing away the money, but we don’t miss it so it’s not a sacrifice,” said Ash Perrin, founder of The Flying Seagull Project, a troupe that works with refugees in Europe.

    Perrin and Vermette first worked together in 2016 in northern Greece, where 14,000 refugees stayed in a makeshift camp, hoping to make asylum claims in Europe. Their common work ethic and concern for the children united them while performing up to eight shows a day in hot, difficult conditions.

    “(Children) pick up on the atmosphere of the parents,” Perrin said. “Parents are losing hope after they’ve been there a while. Hope is a thin resource in the camp.”

    One moment from that trip is etched in Vermette’s memory. While he was performing, surrounded by kids, a fight broke out and gunshots pierced the air. Everyone scrambled to safety, except Vermette, who couldn’t hear anything over the sounds of the children laughing.

    For that brief moment, he had removed his audience from their hostile and miserable reality and transported them to a place of happiness. And he had done his job.

    “I’m a clown. I distribute happiness and joy—a moment of normal childhood in the midst of chaos and suffering,” Vermette said. “So far that has been my focus, but I’m reflecting on that. I think I want to do more.”


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    A Toronto woman who organized a daytime wine festival for new mothers has found herself caught in a firestorm over the pervasiveness of alcohol at a time when heavy drinking is on the rise among women.

    The weekday event, dubbed “A Very Mommy Wine Festival,” was meant to give new moms a chance to get together and have fun without the judgment and “mommy-shaming” they consistently face, organizer Alana Kayfetz said.

    The 33-year-old, who has a 1-year-old son, argues the backlash is simply another facet of the pressure placed on mothers.

    “If this was a man’s beer fest where babies were welcome, it would be celebrated, it would be revered,” Kayfetz said. “We would say, ‘Oh that’s so cute, look at those dads guzzling beer and holding their babies.’ No one would question it.”

    Read more:

    Mixing booze, babies not harmless fun

    But critics, some of them experts on substance use, have expressed concerns that making alcohol a focus of social events normalizes drinking and increases the risk of binge-drinking, a behaviour that has grown among Canadian women while hitting a plateau among men.

    The number of teen girls and women who reported drinking in the last year has not changed since the mid-1990s. But the proportion of teen girls and women who reported heavy drinking has gone from 8.3 per cent in 2001 to 13.2 per cent in 2014, according to the latest data from Statistics Canada.

    In comparison, the proportion of teen boys and men who reported heavy drinking in the last year has stayed around 23 per cent.

    When having a drink or two is par for the course at social events, it can be a slippery slope, said Catherine Paradis, a senior research and policy analyst with the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction.

    “The more you drink, the more likely you are to binge-drink,” she said. Binge-drinking is defined as consuming five or more drinks on one occasion for men, or four for women.

    Part of the problem is that alcohol is “everywhere,” from races that see runners travel between breweries to university information sessions to cooking shows, Paradis said.

    “And now, you feel isolated and at risk for post-partum depression and anxiety? Join the boozy mom playdate,” she said.

    Ashley Wettlaufer, a researcher at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, said events that prominently feature alcohol typically have alcohol brands as sponsors, which is a form of stealth marketing much like product placement in movies and television.

    “This is another way in which women are being targeted — the brands are aligning themselves with, say, breast cancer charities, for example,” Wettlaufer said.

    “We now see events like beer yoga advertised on social media and of course groups and events like the mommy wine festival,” she said, noting that Canada’s current regulations on alcohol advertising don’t apply to the internet and social media.

    Though most research on alcohol ads has focused on youth, it suggests exposure is linked to increased drinking and positive impressions of brands, she said.

    “This is all concerning because of the health impact of alcohol, especially for women,” such as increased risk of several cancers, including breast cancer, Wettlaufer said.

    Kayfetz, the organizer, said drinking at the festival was optional, as it is for every other event she organizes through her company, MomsTO.

    And the marketing — which includes taglines such as “babes on the hips, wine on the lips” — is tongue-in-cheek, she said.

    “I never thought about what we’re doing in part of the dialogue of the larger marketing phenomenon, what’s happening with alcohol being marketed to women,” she said.

    “We tried ‘Mommies that like to drink tea, join us,’ but nobody came.”


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    We were birds on a wire, crows jostling for gawking space inside the practice rink of the Lillehammer Olympics.

    Here, for the first time since The Incident — as the infamous knee-whack against Nancy Kerrigan is defined in the new movie I, Tonya, presented as a fake doc biopic — were the two protagonists from one of the biggest scandals in sports history, together on the ice.

    Studiously ignoring one another, even as they skated by each other.

    Very much looking the parts they’d already assumed in sports lore: Kerrigan, after removing her warm-up top, in a delicate lacy ensemble; Tonya Harding, badass, in a splashy leotard.

    Reporters took note. Lots of notes.

    Even then, at those 1994 Olympics, before all the sordid details were revealed by an FBI investigation — and some of the facts are still unclear more than two decades later — there was enough of a known back story to fill in the tabloid tableau.

    Harding was white trash, as scuzzy as her untameable bangs, her garish home-sewn costumes, her foul mouth, her entire disreputable narrative: The Outcast.

    Kerrigan was all class and chic, evoking a luminous young Katharine Hepburn with the angled cheekbones and lithe silhouette, her elegant costumes designed by Vera Wang: The Ice Princess.

    How eagerly we succumbed to the handy tropes.

    Awaiting the cat fight that never unfolded.

    Only seven weeks had passed since a then-unknown assailant had taken a metal baton to Kerrigan’s knee, leaving her crumpled in the corridor of a Detroit rink, wailing: WHYWHYWHY?!?!?! And that bewildered lament, even in pre-social media days — but captured by a TV crew — became a satirized screech.

    “People made such a big deal and almost, like complaining, why would I say that?” Kerrigan told ABC earlier this year. “Well, after getting attacked you don’t know what you’re going to say. But I think it’s a reasonable question. Like, Why did this just happen? What happened? Like, why?”

    It happened, as the world now knows, because a clot of bumbling thugs — on the lowest rung of goonery — had hatched a scheme to eliminate rival Kerrigan from the U.S. figure skating championships and thus the upcoming Winter Games, all in aid of advancing Harding’s gold medal chances. (Kerrigan was given one of two team spots anyway on merit, with Harding, and recovered in time to compete.)

    All of this is told in faux documentary style in I, Tonya, a rollicking film that was the critical darling at the Toronto International Film Festival, with very much a Tonya-centric point of view.

    She was always the more compelling character in this Grand Guignol pas de deux on ice, the redneck renegade high school dropout, a skating savant from the wrong side of the tracks with the monster mom — stage mother from hell, LaVona, depicted with wicked chain-smoking bite by Allison Janney in the movie — and the violent ex-husband who initiated “The Whack Heard Around the World,” though he still insists the plot was supposed to involve nothing more than threatening letters to Kerrigan.

    A complete loser was Jeff Gillooly and his moron conspiracy theorist sidekick, Shawn Eckhardt, who hired the clubbing assailants. Yet Harding, a tough broad who often gave as good as she got, kept going back to him, despite blackened eyes and a gun pointed at her face. This was the reality, the norm, she’d known all her life. The people who loved you hurt you.

    She was never loved in the bitchy world of elite figure skating. She was vulgar and tawdry. Judges rarely rewarded her with the scores she deserved as a superb figure skater, one of only two women — at that time — to ever cleanly land a triple Axel jump in competition. I, Tonya makes a rightfully huge deal about this, though it was Japan’s Midori Ito who’d done it first, most notably at the 1989 World Championships and the ’92 Olympics.

    But no American had ever pulled it off on the international stage.

    Harding was a far more powerful skater than Kerrigan, more athletic, built like a fire plug. But Kerrigan embodied the qualities that then, and even now, are preferred in a figure skating universe that promotes ideals of femininity: gracefulness, charm, beauty, the whole phoney fairytale. Pretty girls in pretty boxes.

    I, Tonya, with its black humour, rips the chiffon and bugle beads off that charade too.

    Margot Robbie, as Harding, is a revelation, plumbing the depths of an unapologetic anti-heroine. Audiences might not like her, but they will come closer to understanding her pathology. The movie argues she was never part of the plot against Kerrigan, though Harding did ultimately plead guilty to conspiring to hinder prosecution — helping to cover it up.

    She was fined $100,000, stripped of her 1994 U.S. title and barred from ever competing again as a figure skater, anywhere. It was excessively cruel, that ban.

    In retrospect, I, Tonya is also an indictment of us, the media, during what was then the dawning of the 24/7 media cycle, the gobsmacking scandal cranked for all it was worth in the lead-up to a Games where CBS devoted 40 per cent of its 120-hour coverage to figure skating.

    Harding was the most famous athlete on the planet. We giddily chronicled every moment of her rise and fall and fall.

    I’ve gone back and read those stories, mine included, with a professional cringe. How we rendered the principal players as almost cartoon figures, good against evil, the virtue of Kerrigan versus the coarseness of Harding, paragon and outlaw, poodle and pit bull.

    Robbie, as Harding, calls us out — how she went from abusive upbringing to abusive spouse to abusive mythmakers.

    “Nancy gets hit one time and the whole world (expletive),” she says in the film. “For me, it’s an everyday occurrence.”

    But the melodramas just kept on coming.

    Those old enough to remember Lillehammer will recall the evening of the free skate, when Harding, after sucking on her asthma aspirator, rushed onto the ice with a torn skate lace. Barely into her program, she came to a tearful stop, skated to the judges’ panel and propped her leg on the board, begging for a do-over. Which she was given. Didn’t matter. A mess of nerves and stress, Harding popped her triple Axel and finished eighth.

    Kerrigan copped silver in a slim — 4 to 5 in first placement marks — verdict by the judges. Visibly glum on the podium, standing just below gold medallist Oksana Baiul from Ukraine.

    And the aftermath?

    Oskana sank into alcoholism, drunkenly crashing her car into a tree three years later.

    Kerrigan battled an eating disorder. Just this past season, she was an (eliminated) contestant on Dancing With the Stars.

    Harding became a sideshow celebrity pugilist.

    “Why not?” she shrugs in I, Tonya.

    She’d been a punching bag all her life.


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    HAMILTON—For federal New Democrats, this exercise is not about winning.

    Oh, there were lots of calls about winning in 2019 as leadership candidates delivered their final pitches here Sunday.

    First, they have to yet again find relevance. Loftier aspirations will have to wait.

    As online voting begins in the NDP leadership race Monday, it is useful to recall how far this party has tumbled in five years. When party members gathered in Toronto in March 2012, they believed they had convened to choose a leader who would take the last, final step for the late Jack Layton and form government for the first time in its history.

    The 2015 defeat stung the faithful. It led to lapsed party memberships. It sapped enthusiasm. It led to a stunning repudiation of leader Tom Mulcair, who was then allowed to hang around too long.

    And it has led to a party that lost its energy, its fire and, ultimately that relevancy.

    Read more:

    The four candidates who would lead the NDP

    Jack Layton led the NDP to a breakthrough, but can any of the four leadership candidates recreate the Orange Wave?

    Why Jagmeet Singh towers over his NDP rivals: Cohn

    Now, Jagmeet Singh, Charlie Angus, Guy Caron or Niki Ashton must put this party back on the map.

    Sunday in Hamilton the quartet made their final appeal in a room that only sporadically erupted in anything beyond a mid-afternoon torpor.

    There is no reliable polling to determine a winner in a race that could be decided as early as Oct. 1 or as late as Oct. 15, depending on the number of ballots needed.

    But by the metrics available, membership sales and money raised— and more importantly, buzz generated, viral videos and social media use that combines humour with panache — Singh does appear to be a front-runner.

    The Bramalea-Gore-Malton MPP has already delivered for the party. One can only imagine the lack of coverage and interest there would be for a party that desperately needs some attention had Singh not entered the race.

    As one senior caucus member told me, Singh offers the “biggest risk, biggest reward.”

    He offers the party a chance to compete in regions where it never has federally — such as the crucial 905 belt — and where it must return if it can plot power again, like the city of Toronto.

    Singh promises growth. Backers believe he will grow personally as he moves from provincial to federal politics. They also believe he will grow the party with fresh membership.

    Mention the NDP leadership race to those of us who do not live in the political world, and you get a lot of blank stares. Those same people, however, know Singh.

    His opponents believe if he cannot win on the first ballot, he cannot grow.

    Angus has worked assiduously to court second-choice support. Caron’s team believes he can finish third, stay on the ballot and grow his support because the Quebec MP has run a strong campaign. Ashton, the only one of the four making a second bid at leadership, has run the most unabashedly leftist campaign and has built perhaps the youngest core of supporters. She has also won union support and is a much more formidable campaigner than the Ashton of 2012.

    She could surprise. If she is the first to drop off the ballot, however, her backers are expected to split three ways.

    This party faces myriad challenges at this point, midterm of the Justin Trudeau government. It will be trying to find its way back in 2019 on Trudeau’s turf.

    It needs to find that relevancy in Quebec again and this is a tough road for any of the four, not just the turbaned Singh.

    The party sold 124,000 memberships during this race, but a mere 4,907 of them were sold in Quebec, about half the total sold during the 2012 race.

    It allowed itself to be outmanoeuvred by Trudeau on traditional left-of-centre issues and has largely been rudderless for 16 months.

    But it has enormous opportunity as well.

    Halfway through his term, Trudeau has given the NDP an opening to exploit on electoral reform, a campaign promise broken; Indigenous reconciliation, a campaign promise undelivered; and the environment, where the Trudeau policy on pipelines is coming up against NDP opposition in British Columbia.

    When there was excitement in the room Sunday, it was provided by Singh, who also was fortuitously given the final speaking spot, which he used to end the day parading offstage with chanting supporters and raucous drummers.

    This is a party with several steps ahead in its comeback. It has to get noticed.

    Jagmeet Singh always gets noticed.

    Tim Harper writes on national affairs. He can be reached at Tjharper77@gmail.com or Twitter: @nutgraf1


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    OTTAWA—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau threatened Monday to scrap his government’s planned purchase of Boeing Super Hornet fighter jets in direct retaliation for the U.S. company’s trade complaint against Bombardier.

    Flanked by British Prime Minister Theresa May, who had expressed fears that jobs at a Bombardier plant in Northern Ireland could be hit by Boeing’s trade actions against the Canadian company, Trudeau upped the ante in the increasingly bitter trade dispute with the United States.

    “We have obviously been looking at the Super Hornet aircraft from Boeing as a potential significant procurement of our new fighter jets,” said Trudeau.

    “But we won’t do business with a company that’s busy trying to sue us and put our aerospace workers out of business.”

    The ultimatum to Boeing comes as the U.S. Department of Commerce is expected to rule next week on the Boeing complaint. The Liberal government last week said Boeing walked out of talks to resolve the commercial dispute.

    Trudeau’s threat came moments after May lent her support to Canada. May said she raised her concerns about what she and Trudeau believe is an unfair trade move against Bombardier in a call last week with President Donald Trump. The British PM said she intends to raise the issue again when she meets Trump at the United Nations in New York this week.

    “I will be impressing upon him the significance of Bombardier to the United Kingdom and particularly, obviously, to Northern Ireland. And we have discussed today how we can work together to see a resolution of this issue which, from my point of view, I want to see a resolution that protects those jobs in Northern Ireland,” May told reporters.

    Trudeau and May agreed to work toward a “seamless transition” to a new trade deal between Canada and the U.K. after Britain negotiates its exit from the European Union.

    Both said the Canada-European Trade Agreement (CETA), which takes effect this week and lifts 98 per cent of tariffs and other trade barriers between Canada and the European Union, would provide the basis for future Canada-U.K. trade relations.

    Trudeau said the U.K., which is Canada’s largest trading partner in Europe, is a signatory to the CETA and he is confident any new arrangement will keep “the essence of CETA applicable to the U.K..”

    Britain is barred by European law from negotiating other trade deals with non-EU countries in the interim, and neither leader would say if they agreed to formal talks. However, May said “we will be having a working group which obviously will be looking at the details of how that will, how that transition will operate in detail.”

    But trade irritants south of the border dominated. Trudeau condemned Boeing, saying its motivation for launching the trade complaint against Bombardier is “extremely narrow” and “for trade-related reasons linked to their own profits.”

    “That’s not the way the world should operate.”

    In a statement Monday, Bombardier piled on. It accused Boeing of “pure hypocrisy” and “self-serving actions” that threaten thousands of jobs and billions in contracts with suppliers in the U.S. and the U.K. The Montreal-based company said Boeing’s move threatens to add “an indirect tax on the U.S. flying public through unjustified import tariffs.”

    In an emailed statement sent to the Star, Boeing officials pushed back at Trudeau, saying “Boeing is not suing Canada.”

    “This is a commercial dispute with Bombardier, which has sold its C-Series airplane in the United States at absurdly low prices, in violation of U.S. and global trade laws.”

    Boeing contends Bombardier sold airplanes in the U.S. for millions less than it has sold them in Canada, and millions less than it costs Bombardier to build them.

    “This is a classic case of dumping, made possible by a major injection of public fund,” the statement sent by Boeing representative Daniel Curran. “This violation of trade law is the only issue at stake at the U.S. Department of Commerce. We like competition. It makes us better. And Bombardier can sell its aircraft anywhere in the world. But competition and sales must respect globally-accepted trade law.”

    The Trudeau government vowed during the 2015 campaign it would not buy expensive F-35 aircraft to replace Canada’s aging F-18s, and it said last year Ottawa would look to buy 18 Super Hornets — produced by Boeing — to meet Canada’s military obligations while it restarts the competition to find a long-term replacement.

    However, after Delta Air Lines agreed to purchase the Bombardier C-Series planes for its passenger fleet, Boeing filed a formal complaint with the U.S. Commerce Department. It challenges support from Ottawa and the Quebec government for Bombardier’s C-series passenger jet program as unfair trade subsidies.

    The Canadian aerospace company said Monday it “shares Boeing’s commitment to a level playing field, but in this case, they were not even on the field.” It said Delta ordered the C-Series “because Boeing stopped making an aircraft of the size Delta needed years ago. It is pure hypocrisy for Boeing to say that the C-Series launch pricing is a ‘violation of global trade law’ when Boeing does the same for its new aircraft.”

    Conservative defence critic James Bezan said Trudeau’s rhetoric is inflammatory, unhelpful and that the government should simply get on with an open competition and buy new planes. Bezan admitted that in government, the Conservatives wanted to buy the Lockheed Martin F-35 because, he said, that’s what the military wanted and it would be interoperable with Canada’s allies who were also flying F-35s. Bezan said it was “a rational decision” at the time, but the party’s position has shifted.

    “We don’t have a preferred option; we just say have the competition and have it now,” Bezan said. “If the government is saying Boeing is no longer a trusted partner then we should go to the competition and find a trusted partner.”

    NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said he agreed that Boeing is “acting in bad faith” but he mocked Trudeau’s rhetoric, saying the Liberal government has not signed any deal, and so has nothing to scrap or hold over the Americans.


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    Following repeated delays to the TTC’s streetcar order with Bombardier, the transit agency is asking other companies if they’re interested in supplying Toronto’s next batch of vehicles.

    Last Tuesdaythe TTC issued an official request for information (RFI) in order to “gauge market interest and capabilities of potential suppliers” to deliver up to 100 new streetcars.

    TTC spokesperson Stuart Green said the RFI isn’t an indication that the agency has decided to go with another company for its next purchase, and asserted the request was “strictly part of our planning to best understand how we can address our long term needs.”

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    “No decision has been made,” he said.

    The TTC is in the midst of taking delivery of a $1-billion, 204-vehicle order from Bombardier, but the Quebec-based company has fallen far behind the original delivery schedule.

    The TTC is effectively locked into that order and has no intention to cancel. But the contract has an option for additional cars, and the TTC has considered exercising it and buying an extra 60 vehicles.

    However, as Bombardier’s production problems mounted, the TTC board directed the agency to seek out potential alternate suppliers for additional vehicles beyond the original 204.

    According to Green, the agency expects that it will need to start deploying additional streetcars around 2023 or 2024 to keep up with ridership growth. In order to have the vehicles available by then, the TTC will have to choose a supplier by the end of next year.

    The RFI closes November 14. As of Thursday seven companies had downloaded the information package from the public sector procurement website, Green said.

    A spokesperson for Bombardier said the company is among those that plans to take part in the RFI.

    “This will give us an opportunity to show that we are the only manufacturer on the market to already have a vehicle that is designed to the specific needs of the TTC, and an established production line geared towards such a project,” wrote Marc-André Lefebvre in an email.

    He said that Bombardier would also continue discussions with the TTC to exercise the option in the existing contract, which he asserted would be cheaper for taxpayers than placing a new order with another company.

    Under the terms of the original contract, in order to be guaranteed a lower price on additional Bombardier cars, the TTC must decide whether to pick up the option by the time the company delivers the 60th vehicle. That could happen before the end of the year.

    Green said the TTC is talking with Bombardier about pushing the decision date back “so that we have more time to assess the situation.”

    An official with Siemens said the company is “very interested” in the TTC’s request.

    “We’re currently reviewing the RFI and will make a decision as to whether to participate in the coming weeks,” said Patrick O’Neill, vice president of mobility at Siemens Canada Limited. The company has already won contracts to manufacture light rail vehicles for Seattle, Minneapolis, and San Diego.

    A spokesperson for Alstom, which earlier this year secured a $528-million vehicle contract from regional transit agency Metrolinx, said the company “is reviewing this opportunity and giving it full consideration.”

    The TTC placed the initial order with Bombardier in 2009. The company was supposed to have supplied close to 150 vehicles by the end of this year, but has since slashed the year-end target to just 70 vehicles. The TTC currently has 44 of the cars on its property.

    In July, the company warned the TTC that it may not meet even the reduced 2017 target due to what it described as a “short-term” production issue.

    Bombardier says it is “deploying extraordinary resources” to hit delivery goals and is still on track to complete all 204 streetcars by the original 2019 deadline.


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    Torontonians will finally see full-time traffic wardens on city streets in early 2018, Mayor John Tory announced Monday as part of his continuing campaign to battle congestion.

    “I’m hopeful that they’re wearing a bright orange coat, or a bright green coat or something so people will clearly see who they are and what they are and what they’re there to do,” Tory said standing in Nathan Phillips Square during the morning rush hour.

    The province has agreed to make the necessary changes under the Highway Traffic Act that will authorize officers other than police to manage pedestrian and car traffic on city streets, and, if needed, around construction sites.

    The move is a long time coming.

    For years, critics, including the mayor, have questioned why highly paid and trained police officers should receive lucrative paid-duty assignments to direct traffic.

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    In 2016, city staff released a report that said lesser-paid special constables, not just police officers, should be permitted to direct traffic.

    “Police powers should not be a prerequisite for directing traffic,” said the report. “Other persons with appropriate training could fulfill the function safely in a more cost-effective manner.”

    While waiting for provincial approval, Tory initiated a pilot program using paid-duty police officers to go to key intersections experiencing bottlenecks.

    The pilot project was a success, Tory said.

    “We found a minimum of 90-per-cent reduction in intersection blockage by vehicles and a 70-per-cent reduction in intersection blockage by pedestrians.”

    The mayor announced other measures Monday, which coincided with the Toronto Police Service’s heightened rush-hour enforcement campaign.

    The days of utility trucks blocking lanes of traffic during the day for non-emergency work, “are over,” Tory said. “We cannot have non-emergency work . . . being done at a time when it’s going to cause this city to grind to a halt.”

    The mayor said he will be meeting with the officials of Toronto Hydro, gas and telecom companies to discuss confining non-emergency work requiring lane closures to off-peak hours, 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

    The city will also create two “quick-clear squads” that will monitor traffic lanes along key downtown corridors, the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway, and make sure they’re not blocked.

    The traffic operation centre will dispatch these teams to locations where there are reports of lanes being blocked.

    “We will have these two squads that will be watching for cars that are blocking these lanes, often times because of a collision, or because of stalled cars, and get them out of there, so they don’t block the traffic,” Tory said.


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    Sean Spicer must be thrilled to discover you can sell your soul and not pay a thing.

    At the Emmy Awards on Sunday night, Donald Trump’s former press secretary made a surprise cameo and added new scenes to his ongoing redemption tale. The reaction shots inside the Microsoft Theater mirrored the facial expressions of viewers at home: a mix of disbelief and skittish laughter.

    Anna Chlumsky, who stars in Veep, twisted in her chair as her jaw cranked open like a largemouth bass trying to swallow an escaping sunfish. Melissa McCarthy, who just won an Emmy for her portrayal of Spicer on Saturday Night Live, looked more baffled than amused, like she couldn’t quite believe the loathsome subject of her gonzo takedowns was now granted permission to be in on the joke.

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    “This will be the largest audience to witness an Emmys — period! — both in person and around the world,” Spicer advised host Stephen Colbert, gamely mocking his debut press conference in the White House in which he excoriated the media while lying about the size of Trump’s inauguration crowd.

    This was the new Spicer normalizing the old Spicer with air cover provided by an entertainment industry that, not so long ago, viewed him as an enemy combatant in a war on democracy. This was Spicer getting a richly undeserved pass in prime time and moving forward without ever having to look back.

    It was Hollywood hypocrisy at its most breathtaking.

    On a night in which anti-Trump sentiment laced the monologue and several trophies were bestowed on celebrities who made their bones last year attacking the U.S. president — including Alec Baldwin for his impersonation on SNL— the decision to turn Spicer into a sight gag and give him a literal podium on stage amounted to a surrender of any moral high ground.

    The glitterati who now bang on about how Trump is an existential threat whispered the secret handshake to his former mouthpiece. They welcomed Spicer into their world without so much as a sideways glance.

    The message was clear: this bumbling enabler of state disinformation, this bête noire who once couldn’t be trusted to accurately tell you what he had for breakfast, was no longer radioactive.

    Sure, he committed sins. Sure, his attacks on the free press and reality were appalling. But if those transgressions can now be converted into ratings gold or viral clips, extend a VIP invite because all is forgiven and forgotten.

    “People in the business and the average person is very grateful for (Spicer) to have a sense of humour and participate,” Baldwin told reporters backstage. “Spicer obviously was compelled to do certain things that we might not have respected, we might not have admired, we might have been super critical of in order to do his job. But I’ve done some jobs that are things that you shouldn’t admire or respect me for either. He and I have that in common.”

    Right. This delusion — that Spicer was just following orders when he tortured the truth on behalf of the most powerful man on earth — is something Spicer himself told Jimmy Kimmel a few days ago. It will no doubt become a mantra in the days ahead when he becomes a visiting fellow at Harvard or wows audiences who pay big bucks to hear him as a member of the Worldwide Speakers Group.

    But atop a trash heap of lies, it is yet another lie.

    If Spicer looked down and said, “Hey, your laces are untied,” there’d be a 99 per cent you were not even wearing shoes. This compulsive dishonesty, an affliction shared by every bootlicking enabler to orbit Trump, does not stem from extenuating circumstance or forced patriotic duty.

    It is a reflection of character.

    Spicer was not “compelled to do certain things,” as Baldwin wrongly insists. Spicer did these things — and, indeed, would still be doing them — because he feared no consequence. He sold his soul during a cynical auction and power play believing a celebrity-obsessed culture would give him a new one if needed.

    His Emmy appearance proves he was right.

    This is also what makes Sunday’s normalization so abhorrent. If Sean Spicer can get a high-five from the celebrities who were loudest in condemning him, Trump’s inner circle should be all smiles today. Who knows, maybe Kellyanne Conway can become a judge on the reboot of American Idol when she leaves The Trump Show. Maybe Stephen Miller can rehab his image as a correspondent on The Daily Show, where viewers will be encouraged to see his white power rants as self-deprecating satire.

    The redemption tale is a longstanding Hollywood trope.

    But even in a town where notoriety is often indistinguishable from celebrity, in a place where fame exists in a moral vacuum, the embrace of Spicer as a “get” shows just how much Hollywood still does not get it.

    They flipped their own script and turned a demon into a folk hero just to get people talking.


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    OTTAWA—Canadians should be “very concerned” about their cellphones, computers and other electronic devices being searched by U.S. border agents, the federal privacy czar says.

    Privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien told a House of Commons committee Monday that U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers can look at mobile devices and even demand passwords under American law.

    Therrien cited statistics indicating U.S. border searches of mobile phones had increased between 2015 and 2016.

    “These devices contain a lot of sensitive information,” Therrien said. “We should be very concerned.”

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    New Democrat MP Nathan Cullen asked if that means no Canadian should cross the border with a phone, laptop or tablet unless they have “great comfort” with a U.S. border official inspecting the contents.

    “Yes, as a matter of law,” Therrien said, though he acknowledged officers would not have time to inspect everyone’s devices, given the huge numbers of people that cross the border daily.

    Therrien agreed with Cullen’s suggestion that nothing in law could prevent U.S. border officials from peeking at a senior Canadian official’s “playbook” on a trade negotiation.

    Cullen said one of his constituents was denied entry to the U.S. on health-related grounds because information on the person’s phone indicated a prescription for heart medication.

    “And I thought, well, this is a strange invasion of one’s privacy.”

    Therrien said Canadians should assess the “risk tolerance” they have to their information being examined by U.S. officers.

    “My point is, think about what you’re exposing your information to, and limit the amount of information that you bring to the U.S., because it may be required by customs officers.”

    Canadian law also allows border officers to inspect cellphones, since they are treated as goods, Therrien told the Commons committee on access to information, privacy and ethics.

    But he noted Canada’s border agency has a policy of limiting searches to cases where an officer has grounds to do so — for instance, because a phone might contain information about contraband items.

    Therrien said his office had received a “small number of complaints” about Canadian border officers searching cellphones.

    Last spring, Therrien expressed concern about U.S. plans to demand cellphone and social media passwords from foreign visitors.

    In a letter to the House of Commons public safety committee, he warned that recent pronouncements from the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump could mean intrusive searches — even at preclearance facilities in Canada.

    In February, John Kelly, then U.S. Homeland Security Secretary, suggested at a hearing that American officials could ask people entering the U.S. about the internet sites they visit as well as passwords to help assess their online activities.

    Kelly’s proposal prompted an American coalition of human rights and civil liberties organizations and experts in security, technology and the law to express “deep concern.”


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    Of the four candidates vying for the NDP leadership, the numbers suggest that only one can hope to win on the first ballot.

    Jagmeet Singh’s campaign has claimed credit for enrolling 47,000 of the 124,000 members eligible to vote for the next leader.

    If the bulk of them do vote over the next two weeks, all could be in place for a first ballot win Oct. 1.

    While that amounts to an organizational challenge, the fact is that it should be logistically easier for Singh to get his vote out than for his rivals.

    That’s because his support is more heavily concentrated than that of Charlie Angus, Niki Ashton and Guy Caron.

    Connecting with large pockets of members in the GTA and the larger Vancouver area is presumably more straightforward than reaching out to a lot of smaller ones spread out across the country.

    It also helps that Singh’s political base — again in contrast with his three rivals — is located in Canada’s most-populated urban area.

    Angus holds a northern Ontario riding. Ashton’s seat is in northern Manitoba, and Caron hails from the Lower St. Lawrence region.

    Under the NDP formula of one member, one vote, the edge that comes from being familiar to a large pool of potential support is particularly valuable.

    Some New Democrats — especially but not exclusively in Quebec — lament the fact that the leadership vote is not weighted to reflect the demographics of the country.

    The NDP may not have a shot at winning government unless it can win seats in Quebec, but anyone can become its leader without showing well in a province whose party ranks are thin.

    Among the three main parties, this is a feature unique to the NDP.

    The party brass — under Tom Mulcair’s leadership — had four years to fix the leadership election formula in a way that better reflects the electoral reality of Canada and it did not.

    The outgoing leader probably did not expect the issue of the leadership to resurface as soon as it did.

    Be that as it may, the failure to give Quebec a voice on party affairs commensurate with its demographic and/or caucus weight could contribute to the notion the New Democrat presence in the province is a blip a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    That being said, it is not just because Singh has finished ahead of the pack in the membership drive that he is going into the vote with an edge on the competition. If that were the case, the Ontario MPP would be little more than the New Democrat’s Kevin O’Leary — a bright shiny leadership object of dubious marketable value.

    Singh’s stumble-free campaign has been all that O’Leary never was. As the NDP campaign reaches the final stage, some are pointing out that he lacks a seat in the House of Commons. That is a fair point to make, but no one is arguing that he is less ready for federal prime time than the three MPs he is running against.

    If there is a path to victory for one of the other contenders it runs through a second ballot. Did not Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer recently turn front-runner Maxime Bernier into an also-ran over the course of multiple ballots?

    But the parallel between the Conservative Party of Canada and the NDP dynamics has clear limits.

    Bernier won the air war but neglected his ground game, a mistake Singh cannot automatically be counted on to make.

    Moreover, the Beauce MP campaigned on a set of policies that curtailed his capacity to grow from ballot to ballot (or to secure caucus support.) No one would describe Singh’s platform as polarizing. It is the notion of campaigning under a turban-wearing Sikh leader, not his policies that is a concern in some NDP quarters.

    There was a time when having a shot at power mattered less to the New Democrat base than to its Liberal and Conservative counterparts. But that was in the pre-Layton, pre-Mulcair era and before the party scored back-to-back NDP victories in Alberta and British Columbia.

    At the final leadership showcase of the campaign on Sunday in Hamilton, all candidates featured strengths New Democrats have cause to like. But it was Singh who seemed to most succeed at making them dream of a brighter electoral future.

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


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    Like many public servants, Tom Campbell avoided reporters.

    In life, he kept his distance. In death, however, he has opened up.

    At his behest, his daughter sent an email the other day signalling that one of Ontario’s most influential deputies was finally ready to go public.

    “Hello Martin. Yesterday my father, Tom Campbell died.

    “You wrote a piece about him in 1984 when he was deputy minister of finance and you might be interested to know that at dinner on the night before his death, your piece was a topic of conversation.”

    Campbell, 83, had kept a copy of that newspaper profile all this time, despite refusing an interview with the rookie reporter who wrote it. Now, according to his daughter Alexandra, 44, he was ready, belatedly, to talk — from the grave.

    As much about how he lived his life as how he ended it.

    “I did ask my Dad, ‘What if I told Martin some of these things now, after you die?’ And he said, ‘Sure.’ ”

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    But before the epilogue is written, one must go back in time.

    Campbell had once helmed the province’s sprawling health ministry, where lobbyists pressed him to help people suffering from terminal illnesses die with dignity. The deputy had listened respectfully, knowing full well his hands were tied by his political masters and prevailing public opinion, but he’d challenged the group:

    “Why should we do it?” he asked at the time.

    This year, Campbell had his answer, when the roles were reversed. Suffering from the excruciating pain of bladder cancer, he quietly chose Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID).

    But to fulfil his final wish, he first had to rely on his old skill set as a deputy to navigate the Byzantine rules laid down by bureaucrats in the corridors of power he’d once inhabited. The irony was not lost on the former mandarin, a shy but forceful introvert who’d always been a stickler for formality and rules.

    “I don’t want to be a science experiment,” he told his children, declining desperate attempts at surgery as the cancer invaded his lymph nodes and the pain worsened.

    A deputy treasurer must be cold-blooded in wielding a budget axe to balance the government’s books. No surprise that he would be similarly decisive about his own circumstances.

    Campbell’s daughter says he had excellent care from the two physicians who assessed his bid for MAID. But the drawn-out procedures for collecting information and granting permission were frustrating and dehumanizing.

    After securing the final approvals, Campbell tried new pain medications without success before announcing to his family (including his wife Mary Mogford, also a former deputy, and son John): “I want to do this . . . this is happening tomorrow.”

    His daughter describes it as a moment of enormous relief — from the physical pain, but also the mental limbo. He worried that others would still not benefit from the procedure as he had.

    “It sounds crazy but the chance to have an assisted death gave him the courage to keep living through the summer,” Alexandra explained. “He was very adamant that the legislation has not gone far enough. And he hopes that having been former deputy minister of health for Ontario might give some weight to the cause.”

    Over coffee, she explained that her father believed the procedures could be streamlined so that people who clearly qualify for medically assisted death are not forced to take heroic — or humiliating — steps to comply. At times, it felt as if the roadblocks made death harder for patients only to make life easier for the bureaucracy.

    Despite securing permission from his Toronto doctors, it was difficult to relay that approval to another jurisdiction so that he could die with loved ones at his suburban home. He faced an unexpected 72-hour delay in filling the approved prescription. And having watched two of his sisters struggle with dementia, the inability to sign an advance directive for MAID“created fear and frustration for my Dad,” she said.

    Throughout his career, Campbell had always projected precisely the opposite — outer calm and inner confidence. A downhill skier from northern Ontario, he scaled the heights of the Toronto power structure during the Progressive Conservative dynasty that culminated with premier Bill Davis, and later chaired Ontario Hydro.

    Publicly, he kept his mouth shut and his tie tightly knotted — to the point that one of his political masters described (in that 1984 profile) ordering him to loosen his collar at a staff meeting. Privately, though, Campbell fussed over every budgetary comma, political coda, and even the dress code for budget day.

    He was too loyal to disclose it at the time, but as his daughter told me this month, Campbell had begged then-treasurer Frank Miller to dress appropriately when delivering his budget in the early 1980s. Miller wouldn’t back down, concealing his trademark tartan jacket until just before he walked into legislature for the solemn occasion.

    That act of defiance was one of Campbell’s lingering regrets, for he believed it detracted from the budget and trivialized the work of the public service. But perhaps Miller (who died in 2000) was gently pushing back against his powerful deputy, whose grip on the budget process was legendary.

    That symbolic power struggle stayed with Campbell. A sign that, in life as in death, there are some things one cannot fully control.

    Martin Regg Cohn’s political column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. mcohn@thestar.ca , Twitter: @reggcohn


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    A woman who babysat toddler Ja’zara Garrison-Downey has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the little girl’s 2014 death.

    The babysitter, whose identity is protected because she was a minor at the time of the crime, wiped tears from her eyes in court Friday as she entered her plea.

    A post-mortem exam found that Ja’zara, 2 years old when she died, had dozens of injuries all over her body, including bruises and abrasions consistent with being hit with a belt, and a bite mark on her shoulder which the babysitter admitted to giving her.

    The babysitter, who was 17 years old when Ja’zara died, was the child’s primary caregiver for several days leading up to her death. The babysitter acknowledged that she was aware of the child’s injuries but did nothing to treat them, except to apply Polysporin on some wounds.

    Ja’zara’s cause of death, however, was ketoacidosis — a condition usually associated with people who have diabetes, though Ja’zara was not diabetic, Crown Attorney David Boulet said in court.

    Stress and starvation can each contribute to ketoacidosis, Boulet said, quoting the post-mortem report.

    Ja’zara’s stomach was empty at the time of her death, the post-mortem found.

    The babysitter failed in her legal responsibility as Ja’zara’s guardian, to care for the child, the Crown added.

    The babysitter called police to an apartment near Sherbourne St. and Wellesley St. E. on Jan. 3, 2014, saying that Ja’zara wasn’t breathing.

    Toronto police pronounced Ja’zara dead at the apartment.

    The babysitter will be sentenced later this year.


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    Five marks appearing to be fingerprints outlined in yellow were on the glass doors of an upscale downtown restaurant Monday, two days after a prominent Toronto real estate agent was gunned down.

    Used wine glasses and unfinished plates from panicked patrons could still be seen on tables at Michael’s on Simcoe.

    The restaurant was empty of customers, and will be until Saturday at the earliest.

    By then, it’ll have been a full week since a gunman fired in a crowded dining room, killing 54-year-old Simon Giannini in what police said was likely a targeted attack.

    According to restaurant owner Michael Dabic, who has one copy of the surveillance video and provided the police with another, Giannini was laughing in the last moments before he was shot.

    Dabic described accounts from his staff what he said he saw.

    The suspect strode into Michael’s just before 9 p.m. Saturday, wearing a hoodie, track pants and a baseball cap. The restaurant’s manager asked the man if he could help him, as his attire didn’t match their usual clientele.

    “We have a dress code,” Dabic said. “So a guy wearing a hoodie and a cap, it’s like, you’re not getting in.”

    Dabic said the shooter told his manager he was there “looking for a friend.” When the manager confronted him again, the man bolted towards Giannini’s table.

    Dabic said his 26-year-old daughter, who works at the restaurant full-time, was about three metres away when the gunman started shooting.

    The shooter fled amid the chaos, driving west along Pearl St. in a white SUV. A waiter dashed outside to write down its licence plate number.

    Giannini, meanwhile, died in hospital, becoming Toronto’s 41st homicide victim of 2017.

    The whole thing lasted less than 20 seconds, Dabic said.

    “The blessing in this is that no one else was hurt.”

    Dabic said Giannini’s table was closer to the restaurant’s exit. However, Dabic also said roughly 140 people were inside at the time, and he believes one of them must have directed the gunman to Giannini’s table.

    “You just can’t find an individual that quickly,” Dabic said. “Simon’s back was to the hit guy . . . so you have to know where he is.”

    Dabic wasn’t in the restaurant at the time, but says they have surveillance of the entire incident. On Monday, police were still coming and going from the restaurant.

    Though police are saying it appears to be a targetted shooting, Dabic said he believes it wasn’t particularly well-planned. Mere blocks away on King St., festivities were well underway for the evening at the Toronto International Film Festival, meaning an abundance of police officers and heavy traffic.

    “The police were here in seconds,” he said.

    Giannini’s friends and family told the Star he was a devoted father to his two school-age sons. In the last year, Giannini was in the middle of a divorce, after multiple years of separation from his former wife. The real estate agent grew up in Toronto’s east end after immigrating to Canada from Lebanon when he was about 7.

    Giannini’s death was the second shooting at Michael’s in two years, though police said the two aren’t connected. In September 2015, two masked men opened fire on a couple inside the restaurant, both of whom survived.

    Dabic insisted Michael’s is safe, and that something like this could happen at any restaurant.

    “I didn’t think lightning could strike twice but it did,” he said.


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