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- 09/20/17--15:42: _Police find body in...
- 09/20/17--09:13: _Anguish, agony and ...
- 09/20/17--14:39: _Driver accelerated ...
- 09/20/17--18:39: _Trump’s former camp...
- 09/20/17--16:48: _Mother desperate fo...
- 09/20/17--18:06: _People are ‘baking ...
- 09/21/17--04:46: _Mexico holds its br...
- 09/21/17--03:55: _‘Maria destroyed us...
- 09/21/17--11:00: _Boy stabbed outside...
- 09/21/17--10:08: _Neighbours yell ‘he...
- 09/21/17--03:00: _How an article defe...
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- 09/21/17--10:44: _Ontario’s budget wa...
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- 09/21/17--11:45: _Witness heard ‘gas ...
- 09/21/17--15:05: _Canadian British Vi...
- 09/21/17--10:02: _Buddhist mob attack...
- 09/20/17--15:42: Police find body in Quebec murder-kidnapping case
- 09/21/17--11:00: Boy stabbed outside downtown Toronto high school
- 09/21/17--10:44: Ontario’s budget watchdog Stephen LeClair resigns
- 09/21/17--11:45: Witness heard ‘gas and dash’ death 18 floors up, trial hears
MONTREAL—Police believe they have found the body of an elderly man whose car was used as a getaway vehicle in a murder-kidnapping case that stretched across a vast area of western Quebec and eastern Ontario.
Yvon Lacasse, 71, was the owner of a 2006 Honda CRV that was allegedly used by a man, who is charged with the killing of his spouse last Thursday evening in St-Eustache, Que., and the kidnapping of his six-year-old son.
A spokesperson with the Sûreté du Québec, Stephane Tremblay, said that a search team discovered a dead body in the village of Arundel, Que., Wednesday.
“Everything leads us to believe that it is the body of Mr. Lacasse, but we have to wait for a formal identification to be made by the coroner,” Tremblay said.
The body was found about 50 kilometres north of Lachute, Que., where police have said they believe that the alleged kidnapper abandoned the pick-up truck he had been using and took Lacasse’s Honda CR-V.
Early Friday morning, police have said that the man checked in briefly to a hotel in Rouyn-Noranda, about 600 kilometres northwest of Lachute. He appears to have doubled back on his tracks and was spotted early Friday morning in the town of Maniwaki.
At around 2:15 p.m. the man was spotted at a bank machine in Napanee, Ont. He was captured a few hours later by Ontario Provincial Police in the town of Griffith, Ont.
The suspect made a brief court appearance Saturday, but was taken to hospital in Ottawa after reportedly harming himself in his jail cell. On Wednesday, a scheduled bail hearing was postponed because he was still in hospital.
Police find body in Quebec murder-kidnapping case
MEXICO CITY—Gustavo Lopez recognized the boy’s clothes first.
His tiny frame, pulled from the wreckage, lay over the jagged pieces of what remained of the school. It was his 7-year-old son.
He sat in shock for hours, quietly trying to maintain strength for his 9-year-old daughter, who had escaped the school unharmed. He wondered how to tell her that her younger brother, also named Gustavo, was dead — one of at least 30 children who perished at the Enrique Rebsamen school after it collapsed in the earthquake that devastated Mexico on Tuesday, killing at least 230 people.
Lopez waited there for his cousin, Mauricio, who loved the boy and often took him on bike rides and to the movies. By the time Mauricio arrived a few hours later, hundreds of medical personnel, rescuers, volunteers and families were racing around, trying to unearth students still buried in the rubble.
“He was my son, too,” Mauricio screamed when he heard the news, collapsing onto the upturned earth as Lopez tried to console him. “I can’t bear this, I can’t!”
Such screams of anguish rose above the clamour at the school overnight, markers of loss in the chaotic crowd. Parents climbed trees and playground equipment to get a better vantage of the rescue effort, clinging to the hope that their children would emerge unscathed.
Many did, having rushed out before tumbling walls could trap them. Passersby had also raced to the school immediately after the quake to pluck students from the cavities and openings of the buckled structure.
But as the day and night wore on, mostly lifeless bodies were pulled from the wreckage, their names recorded by an army of volunteers keeping lists of the dead. By Wednesday morning, 30 students were still missing, and officials held dwindling hopes that any more children would be found alive.
“To see a parent carry their own dead baby is something I will never forget,” said Elena Villasenor, a volunteer whose own home was badly damaged.
Her own daughter was safe, she said, having been at a different school that did not collapse. But she could not sit idle while others suffered, and so she raced to this school to help however she could.
The death toll across the country — in Morelos, Mexico state, Puebla and Mexico City — climbed to at least 230 people. The number is expected to rise even higher, as the rescue efforts slowly transition into recovery efforts, and more of the missing are marked as dead.
Watching that number climb, hour by hour across the city and the broader earthquake zone, is a nation already in mourning. Two weeks earlier, the largest earthquake in a century hit Mexico, killing at least 90 people in the south of the country and offering a grim foreshadowing of the hardship still to come from this one.
Perhaps nowhere was the suffering more concentrated than at the collapsed school. The smell of gas, sweat and earth filled the air overnight as people yelled their messages into megaphones. At first, the lights from police cars and emergency vehicles lit the rescue. Later, a generator was brought to the scene to power floodlights.
Of the 400 students who attend the school, it was unclear exactly how many were there when the earthquake struck on Tuesday afternoon and made it out of the building. The injured, more than 60 of them, were sent to area hospitals, while traumatized parents whisked others to safety.
At least three parents at the site of Enrique Rebsamen, a Mexico City private school had been communicating with their children trapped inside. They managed to reach them through the messaging service WhatsApp, begging their children to give them details, like how far from the main door they were when the building collapsed, to help the search efforts.
One of the many volunteers, seated at a makeshift desk on Tuesday night, helped keep a list of the injured and the dead; it included at least five adults. Residents donned red vests and formed human chains to remove the chunks of concrete from the school’s broken edifice. Giant piles of water, medicine, blankets and even baby formula hugged the periphery, brought by neighbours who carted it in by the armful.
The solidarity in the aftermath of the quake has been repeated at collapsed buildings across Mexico, a quiet but resolute determination to help. Strangers spending hours clearing debris, medics and construction workers plunging into the bowels of broken buildings, students and even children bringing water and food.
At the school, the blitz of activity continued all night and into morning. Someone yelled for medicine: “We need clonazepam, insulin, anesthetics, antihistamines and oxygen tanks.” Workers wore helmets and face masks. Bulldozers and excavation machines went in and out of the disaster site.
Everyone found something to do, passing water, coffee or medicine to those who needed it. Volunteers called for baby bottles to feed the children still trapped in the wreckage.
Every so often, amid the piercing noise of raised voices, grumbling machinery and the whine of ambulances, someone would raise their arm up in the air and others would follow.
In the frantic confusion of the rescue operation, the cross-currents of hundreds of well-meaning personnel sometimes led to frightening miscommunication.
After toiling for hours sifting through the rubble, Florentino Rodriguez Garcia was given a sudden ray of hope: his 9-year-old grandson, Jose Eduardo Huerta Rodríguez, was supposedly fine.
A medic told him that the boy had been taken to a hospital for injuries. But after hours of hunting, Rodriguez could find no trace of the boy.
He headed back to the school and was approached by a nurse this time. She took him by the hand. She told him the medic had been mistaken. Jose, she said, was still trapped inside.
“Please don’t tell me that,” Rodriguez screamed, collapsing into hysterics. “They told me he was out! This can’t be true!”
And then, an hour later, an arm was raised, followed by others. Silence.
“Jose Eduardo Huerta Rodriguez,” the crowd began to chant.
The boy had been pulled out. He was still alive.
Anguish, agony and elation fill the air as Mexican rescuers dig frantically into quake rubble
A silver SUV accelerated before hitting Jayesh Prajapati, its driver showing no attempt to brake, an eyewitness testified Tuesday at the trial of Max Tutiven, accused of second-degree murder.
Prajapati, a North York Shell station attendant who died in 2012 while trying to stop the theft of $112.85 worth of gas, was dragged and then run over by one of the SUV’s front wheels, Fernando Aspiazu told the court.
Prajapati was then caught and dragged by one of the SUV’s rear wheels as the vehicle pulled out of the gas station and headed down Roselawn Ave., Aspiazu said.
Prajapati was dragged a total of 78 metres before his body was dislodged and the SUV sped off on the night Sept. 15, 2012, the Crown has said.
Aspiazu testified that he had just paid for gas and was in his car at the station, putting on some music when he saw shadows moving behind him.
He turned to see Prajapati dash behind his car and in front of an SUV with his hands extended as if to say “Stop,” Aspiazu said.
The SUV sped up as soon as Prajapati was standing in front of it, Aspiazu testified.
Prajapati, a 44-year-old husband and father, went under the vehicle “right away,” the witness added.
Aspiazu said he did not see the driver of the SUV, and acknowledged while being cross-examined by Tutiven’s lawyer, Edward Sapiano, that it is possible he did not see the first point of contact between the SUV and Prajapati.
He became heated when Sapiano pressed him about the first point of contact.
“I know what I saw and I saw an innocent person getting run over by a vehicle,” Aspiazu said.
The Crown presented video on Monday showing a stocky man with dark hair and a beard pull up to the Shell station near Eglinton Ave. W. and Allen Rd., pump gas into his silver SUV and two jerry cans, and drive away without paying.
The Crown alleges Tutiven is the man in that video, and claims that he committed six gas thefts in the year leading up to Prajapati’s death.
None of the allegations against Tutiven have been proven in court. He has pleaded not guilty.
He became a suspect when an officer reviewing security footage from the gas station recognized him from a previous “gas and dash” case, Toronto homicide Det. Robert North told the court.
Tutiven was arrested in Montreal in 2015.
Driver accelerated before hitting gas station worker, murder trial hears
Less than two weeks before Donald Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination, his campaign chairman offered to provide briefings on the race to a Russian billionaire closely aligned with the Kremlin, according to people familiar with the discussions.
Paul Manafort made the offer in an email to an overseas intermediary, asking that a message be sent to Oleg Deripaska, an aluminum magnate with whom Manafort had done business in the past, these people said.
“If he needs private briefings we can accommodate,” Manafort wrote in the July 7, 2016, email, portions of which were read to The Washington Post along with other Manafort correspondence from that time.
The emails are among tens of thousands of documents that have been turned over to congressional investigators and special counsel Robert Mueller III’s team as they probe whether Trump associates co-ordinated with Russia as part of Moscow’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election.
There is no evidence in the documents showing that Deripaska received Manafort’s offer or that any briefings took place. And a spokesperson for Deripaska dismissed the email exchanges as scheming by “consultants in the notorious ‘beltway bandit’ industry.”
Nonetheless, investigators believe that the exchanges, which reflect Manafort’s willingness to profit from his prominent role alongside Trump, created a potential opening for Russian interests at the highest level of a U.S. presidential campaign, according to people familiar with the probe. Those people, like others interviewed for this story, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss matters under investigation.
Several of the exchanges, which took place between Manafort and a Kiev-based employee of his international political consulting practice, focused on money that Manafort believed he was owed by Eastern European clients.
The notes appear to be written in deliberately vague terms, with Manafort and his longtime employee, Konstantin Kilimnik, never explicitly mentioning Deripaska by name. But investigators believe that key passages refer to Deripaska, who is referenced in some places by his initials, “OVD,” according to people familiar with the emails. One email uses “black caviar,” a Russian delicacy, in what investigators believe is a veiled reference to payments Manafort hoped to receive from former clients.
In one April exchange days after Trump named Manafort as a campaign strategist, Manafort referred to his positive press and growing reputation and asked, “How do we use to get whole?”
Manafort spokesperson Jason Maloni said Wednesday that the email exchanges reflected an “innocuous” effort to collect past debts.
“It’s no secret Mr. Manafort was owed money by past clients,” Maloni said.
Maloni said that no briefings with Deripaska ever took place but that, in his email, Manafort was offering what would have been a “routine” briefing on the state of the campaign.
Vera Kurochkina, a spokesperson for Rusal, the company led by Deripaska, on Wednesday derided inquiries from The Post that she said “veer into manufactured questions so grossly false and insinuating that I am concerned even responding to these fake connotations provides them the patina of reality.”
Collectively, the thousands of emails present a complex picture. For example, an email exchange from May shows Manafort rejecting a proposal from an unpaid campaign adviser that Trump travel abroad to meet with top Russian leaders. “We need someone to communicate that DT is not doing these trips,” Manafort wrote, according to an email read to The Post.
The email exchanges with Kilimnik add to an already perilous legal situation for Manafort, whose real estate dealings and overseas bank accounts are of intense interest for Mueller and congressional investigators as part of their examination of Russia’s 2016 efforts. People close to Manafort believe Mueller’s goal is to force the former campaign chairman to flip on his former Trump associates and provide information.
In August, Mueller’s office executed a search warrant during an early-morning raid of Manafort’s Alexandria, Virginia, condominium, an unusually aggressive step in a white-collar criminal matter.
Mueller has also summoned Maloni, the Manafort spokesperson, and Manafort’s former lawyer to answer questions in front of a grand jury. Last month, Mueller’s team told Manafort and his attorneys that they believed they could pursue criminal charges against him and urged him to co-operate in the probe by providing information about other members of the campaign. The New York Times reported this week that prosecutors had threatened Manafort with indictment.
The emails now under review by investigators and described to The Post could provide prosecutors with additional leverage.
Kilimnik did not respond to requests for comment. A spokesperson for Mueller declined to comment.
Deripaska, one of Russia’s richest men, is widely seen as an important ally of President Vladimir Putin. A U.S. diplomatic cable from 2006, published by WikiLeaks, referred to Deripaska as “among the 2-3 oligarchs Putin turns to on a regular basis.”
The billionaire has struggled to get visas to travel to the United States because of concerns he might have ties to organized crime in Russia, according to the Wall Street Journal. He has vigorously denied any criminal ties.
Russian officials have frequently raised the visa matter over the years with U.S. diplomats, according to former U.S. officials familiar with the appeals.
Manafort and Deripaska have both confirmed that they had a business relationship in which Manafort was paid as an investment consultant. In 2014, Deripaska accused Manafort in a Cayman Islands court of taking nearly $19 million (U.S.) intended for investments and then failing to account for the funds, return them or respond to numerous inquiries about exactly how the money was used. There are no signs in court documents that the case has been closed.
The emails under review by investigators also show that Manafort waved off questions within the campaign about his international dealings, according to people familiar with the correspondence.
Manafort wrote in an April 2016 email to Trump press aide Hope Hicks that she should disregard a list of questions from The Post about his relationships with Deripaska and a Ukrainian businessman, according to people familiar with the email.
When another news organization asked questions in June, Manafort wrote Hicks that he never had any ties to the Russian government, according to people familiar with the email.
Hicks, now the White House communications director, declined to comment.
Former campaign officials said that Manafort frequently told his campaign colleagues that assertions made about him by the press were specious. They also privately shared concerns about whether Manafort was always putting the candidate’s interests first.
The emails turned over to investigators show that Manafort remained in regular contact with Kilimnik, his longtime employee in Kyiv, throughout his five-month tenure at the Trump campaign.
Kilimnik, a Soviet army veteran, had worked for Manafort in his Kyiv political consulting operation since 2005. Kilimnik began as an office manager and translator and attained a larger role with Manafort, working as a liaison to Deripaska and others, people familiar with his work have said.
People close to Manafort told The Post that he and Kilimnik used coded language as a precaution because they were transmitting sensitive information internationally.
In late July, eight days after Trump delivered his GOP nomination acceptance speech in Cleveland, Kilimnik wrote Manafort with an update, according to people familiar with the email exchange.
Kilimnik wrote in the July 29 email that he had met that day with the person “who gave you the biggest black caviar jar several years ago,” according to the people familiar with the exchange. Kilimnik said it would take some time to discuss the “long caviar story,” and the two agreed to meet in New York.
Investigators believe that the reference to the pricey Russian luxury item may have been a reference to Manafort’s past lucrative relationship with Deripaska, according to people familiar with the probe. Others familiar with the exchange say it may be a reference to Ukrainian business titans with whom Manafort had done business.
Kilimnik and Manafort have previously confirmed that they were in contact during the campaign, including meeting twice in person — once in May 2016, as Manafort’s role in Trump’s campaign was expanding, and again in August, about two weeks before Manafort resigned amid questions about his work in Ukraine.
The August meeting is the one the two men arranged during the emails now under examination by investigators.
That encounter took place at the Grand Havana Club, an upscale cigar bar in Manhattan. Kilimnik has said the two discussed “unpaid bills” and “current news.” But he said the sessions were “private visits” that were “in no way related to politics or the presidential campaign in the U.S.”
Trump’s former campaign chairman Manafort offered to brief Russian billionaire on 2016 race
Just hours before Hurricane Maria struck, hunkered between mattresses, Sara Ouellette Subero listened anxiously to the rumbling noise outside the walls of her resort on the island of Dominica. Her baby was asleep and her 5-year-old daughter, wide awake, thought they were having a sleepover adventure, unaware of the tremendous danger coming their way.
Her last post on Facebook to her family and friends said that she and her seven guests were well-prepared and equipped with all the basic necessities. She wrote that as the gusts of wind got stronger their hearts pounded faster. In a phone call, she told her mother in Sturgeon Falls, Ont. on Monday evening that they would stay hunkered until the storm passed through.
No one has heard from Subero or her guests since. The Category 5 hurricane, with sustained winds above 160 mph, wreaked havoc across the tiny Caribbean island late Monday.
Dominica lost all communication and reception with the outside world – leaving parents and family members in the dark for days.
“No one has heard from anyone on the island, there is no communication whatsoever,” said Lynn Cockburn-Ouellette, Subero’s mother. “I have gone to everyone’s Facebook page that I can think of to see if there is any post or anything and there is nothing, there is nothing there.”
Dominica was Hurricane Maria’s first major victim as it paved its deadly path through the Caribbean. It has since moved into Puerto Rico, where it has cut off all power and damaged homes. The hurricane followed two other deadly storms, Irma and Jose.
Officials estimated that up to 90 per cent of Dominica’s buildings and homes were damaged by the storm – ranging from ripped-off roofs to near-total destruction. Aerial footage show debris fields spread across the island, roads washed out and upended water pipelines. At least seven people were reported dead.
Subero, 30, and her husband Stephan Ricardo Subero, 33, moved from Sturgeon Falls, northwest of Algonquin Provincial Park, to Dominica in 2014. Their small resort offers a simple, natural environment to travellers passing through the island. Cockburn-Ouellette said the resort is a 50-minute drive from the capital city named Rouseau, adding that she is unaware of its current state.
The island, with a population of 72,000, is famous for its 365 rivers. Cockburn-Ouellette, who visited her daughter often, said that people go to the island for the nature and lush landscapes.
“I’ve heard that many of the roads are now not passable, and that one area has been completely devastated,” she said. “My daughter was scared before it hit, she kept saying there were butterflies in her stomach just thinking about what they might go through.”
The mother said that she could hear the rain pouring during the last phone call, adding that her daughter said it was dark and the winds were starting to pick up. Since then, families of the guests and Subero’s family have made a Facebook group to coordinate rescue efforts.
Cockburn-Ouellette said families of the guests, who are from Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago, are organizing rescue and evacuation efforts with their home countries. They have said, she added, that her daughter and family will be evacuated as well if need be.
“I don’t know whether they (her family) will but it depends on the situation they are in, if they are okay and depending on the damage to the property,” she said. “We just don’t know at this point. We’re at the mercy of Wi-Fi signals and cell services picking up.”
Mother desperate for news of daughter after Hurricane Maria strikes Caribbean islands
“Maybe the gods are listening,” says the second-floor resident of an apartment tower near Yonge St. and St. Clair Ave. as a breeze blows in from her sliding glass door.
It is little respite in her 274-unit building at 44 Jackes Ave. during an unseasonably warm September after management shut off the air conditioning earlier this month.
“They don’t even tell you where to go to talk to somebody because they don’t want to talk to us,” said the woman, who is retired and not in good health. She, like other residents, declined to give her name. “It’s not very nice here at all . . . . This is the way it’s always been.”
Councillors say tenants across the city are currently living in “intolerable” conditions, with some residents reporting temperatures in their units as high as 30 C.
At a press conference Wednesday, tenant issues committee chair Councillor Josh Matlow and board of health chair Councillor Joe Mihevc urged landlords of buildings with air conditioning to keep it on through the heat wave.
“There are a significant number of people who are baking in their homes right now,” said Matlow (Ward 22 St. Paul’s). He called on landlords to “use common sense.”
Landlords genuinely wanting to be compliant with a city bylaw governing rented units are misunderstanding the rules, the councillors said.
The bylaw dictates a minimum temperature of 21 C between Sept. 15 and June 1st. But the bylaw does not say air conditioning must be turned off, or that the heating system must be turned on starting Sept. 15, Matlow said.
“There’s nothing in there that says flip the switch,” he said. “So, if Mother Nature isn’t taking care of it, yes, flip the switch, get the boiler going, get the heat on. But in this case, everyone in Toronto knows that Mother Nature is working overtime. So, she’s taking care of the heat. I want landlords to take care of their tenants.”
Mihevc said his Ward 21 (St. Paul’s) office has been “inundated” with calls from those in hot buildings. In some older towers, the councillors said, centralized heating and cooling systems act as ventilation as well. And rules restricting how much apartment windows can open have exacerbated the problem.
“One of the residents in one of these three buildings actually had to be hospitalized because of the lack of ventilation,” Mihevc said.
The councillors said landlords worried about the time it takes to switch over from air conditioning to heating if temperatures drop quickly won’t be prosecuted by the city’s bylaw enforcement for using their best judgment and doing their due diligence to comply with the rules.
Management at 44 Jackes Ave. did not immediately return requests for comment.
In the long-term, Matlow said Mayor John Tory is supportive of a review of the bylaw to allow for greater clarity and nuance to better protect tenants’ health. Matlow said he hopes changes will come this spring.
People are ‘baking in their homes right now’: Councillors urge landlords to keep the A/C on
MEXICO CITY—A delicate effort to reach a 12-year-old girl buried in the ruins of her school stretched into a new day on Thursday, a vigil broadcast across the nation as rescue workers struggled in rain and darkness to pick away unstable debris and reach her.
The sight of her wiggling fingers early Wednesday became a symbol for the hope that drove thousands of professionals and volunteers to work frantically at dozens of wrecked buildings across the capital and nearby states looking for survivors of the magnitude 7.1 quake that killed at least 245 people in central Mexico and injured over 2,000.
The drama played out live late Wednesday and early Thursday on the major news channels here, with television cameras tracking every movement of the Mexican marines and others who sought to rescue the girl now known as “Frida Sofia.” Under a soft rain, the work was slow and painstaking, relying on thermal cameras and other technology to try to locate and remove young children trapped for more than 30 hours after their school collapsed on Tuesday afternoon.
At one dramatic point in Wednesday night’s broadcast, Televisa reporter Danielle Dithurbide learned from the marine admiral leading the recovery effort that Frida Sofia — which may not be her real name — was able to tell rescuers that five other students were possibly trapped with her. It was unclear whether they were alive.
Mexico’s navy announced early Thursday it had recovered the body of a school worker from the Enrique Rebsamen school, but still had not been able to rescue the trapped child.
Rescuers removed dirt bucketful by bucketful and passed a scanner over the rubble every hour or so to search for heat signatures that could indicate trapped survivors. Shortly before dawn the pile shuddered ominously, prompting those working atop it to evacuate.
“We are just metres away from getting to the children, but we can’t access it until it is shored up,” said Vladimir Navarro, a university employee who was exhausted after working all night. “With the shaking there has been, it is very unstable and taking any decision is dangerous.”
Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said the number of confirmed dead in the capital had risen from 100 to 115. An earlier federal government statement had put the overall toll at 230, including 100 deaths in Mexico City.
Mancera also said two women and a man had been pulled alive from a collapsed office building in the city’s centre Wednesday night, almost 36 hours after the quake.
President Enrique Pena Nieto declared three days of mourning while soldiers, police, firefighters and everyday citizens kept digging through rubble, at times with their hands gaining an inch at a time, at times with cranes and backhoes to lift heavy slabs of concrete.
“There are still people groaning. There are three more floors to remove rubble from. And you still hear people in there,” said Evodio Dario Marcelino, a volunteer who was working with dozens of others at a collapsed apartment building.
A man was pulled alive from a partly collapsed apartment building in northern Mexico City more than 24 hours after the Tuesday quake and taken away in a stretcher, apparently conscious
In all, 52 people had been rescued alive since the quake, the city’s Social Development Department said, adding in a tweet: “We won’t stop.” It was a race against time, Pena Nieto warned in a tweet of his own saying that “every minute counts to save lives.”
But the country’s attention focused on the collapsed Enrique Rebsamen school on the city’s south side, where 21 children and five adults have now been confirmed dead.
Dr. Alfredo Vega, who was working with the rescue team, said the girl had been located alive under the pancaked floor slabs.
Vega said “she is alive, and she is telling us that there are five more children alive” in the same space.
But the navy said the identity of the girl is unclear because no relatives of the child have come forward with information.
The debris removed from the school changed as crews worked their way deeper, from huge chunks of brick and concrete to pieces of wood that looked like remnants of desks and panelling to a load that contained a half dozen sparkly hula-hoops.
Rescuers carried in lengths of wide steel pipe big enough for someone to crawl through, apparently trying to create a tunnel into the collapsed slabs of the three-story school building. But a heavy rain fell during the night, and the tottering pile of rubble had to be shored up with hundreds of wooden beams.
People have rallied to help their neighbours in a huge volunteer effort that includes people from all walks of life in Mexico City, where social classes seldom mix. Doctors, dentists and lawyers stood alongside construction workers and street sweepers, handing buckets of debris or chunks of concrete hand-to-hand down the line.
At a collapsed factory building closer to the city’s centre, giant cranes lifted huge slabs of concrete from the towering pile of rubble, like peeling layers from an onion. Workers with hand tools would quickly move in to look for signs of survivors and begin attacking the next layer.
Government rescue worker Alejandro Herrera said three bodies had been found Wednesday afternoon at the factory.
“There are sounds (beneath the rubble), but we don’t know if they are coming from inside or if it is the sound of the rubble,” Herrera said.
Not only humans were pulled out.
Mexico City police said rescue workers clearing wreckage from a collapsed medical laboratory in the Roma neighbourhood found and removed 40 lab rabbits and 13 lab rats used by the firm that had occupied the building, now a pile of beams and rubble.
In addition to those killed in Mexico City, the federal civil defence agency said 69 died in Morelos state just south of the capital and 43 in Puebla state to the southeast, where the quake was centred. The rest of the deaths were in Mexico State, which borders Mexico City on three sides, Guerrero and Oaxaca states.
With files from the Washington Post
Mexico holds its breath for trapped 12-year-old girl as quake toll reaches at least 245
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO—Rescuers fanned out to reach stunned victims Thursday after Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico, knocking out electricity to the entire island and triggering landslides and floods.
The extent of the damage is unknown given that dozens of municipalities remained isolated and without communication after Maria hit the island Wednesday morning as a Category 4 storm with 249 km/h winds, the strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in over 80 years.
Uprooted trees and widespread flooding blocked many highways and streets across the island of 3.4 million residents, creating a maze that forced drivers to go against traffic and past police cars that used loudspeakers to warn people they must respect a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew imposed by the governor to ensure everyone’s safety. People resorted to rafts and kayaks to get around because flooding made many roads remained impassable.
“This is going to be a historic event for Puerto Rico,” said Abner Gomez, the island’s emergency management director.
U.S. President Donald Trump approved a federal disaster declaration for Puerto Rico.
Previously a Category 5 with 281 km/h winds, Maria hit Puerto Rico as the third-strongest storm to make landfall in the U.S., based on its central pressure. It was even stronger than Hurricane Irma when that storm roared into the Florida Keys earlier this month.
“Irma gave us a break, but Maria destroyed us,” said Edwin Serrano, a construction worker in Old San Juan.
In the capital of San Juan, towering eucalyptus trees fell nearly every other block over a main road dotted with popular bars, restaurants, and coffee shops, some of which were damaged. Outside a nearby apartment building, 40-year-old tourism company operator Adrian Pacheco recounted how he spent eight hours in a stairwell huddled with 100 other residents when the hurricane ripped the storm shutters off his building and decimated three balconies.
“I think people didn’t expect the storm to reach the point that it did,” he said. “Since Irma never really happened, they thought Maria would be the same.”
Hurricane Irma side-swiped Puerto Rico on Sept. 6, leaving more than one million people without power but causing no deaths or widespread damage like it did on nearby islands. Maria, however, blew out windows at some hospitals and police stations, turned some streets into roaring rivers and destroyed hundreds of homes across Puerto Rico, including 80 per cent of houses in a small fishing community near the San Juan Bay, which unleashed a storm surge of more than 30 centimetres.
“Months and months and months and months are going to pass before we can recover from this,” Felix Delgado, mayor of the northern coastal city of Catano, told The Associated Press.
The slow slog back to normalcy was in evidence Thursday, however, as residents removed storm shutters and lines began forming at the few restaurants with generator power. The sound of chain saws and small bulldozers filled the post-storm silence that had spread across San Juan as firefighters removed trees and lifted toppled light posts.
Some neighbours pitched in to help clear the smaller branches, including Shawn Zimmerman, a 27-year-old student from Lewistown, Pennsylvania who moved to Puerto Rico nearly two years ago.
“The storm didn’t bother me,” he said. “It’s the devastation. I get goosebumps. It’s going to take us a long time.”
Maria has caused at least 19 deaths across the Caribbean, including more than 15 in the hard-hit island of Dominica and two in the French Caribbean territory of Guadeloupe.
Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit cried as he spoke to a reporter on the nearby island of Antigua.
“We have buried in excess of 15 people,” he said. “It is a miracle there were not hundreds of deaths.”
Puerto Rico’s governor told CNN one man died after being hit by flying debris. No further details were available, and officials could not be immediately reached for comment.
Maria had briefly weakened to a Category 2 storm before re-strengthening to Category 3 status Thursday with maximum sustained winds of 195 km/h. According to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, the storm was centred about 215 kilometres southeast of Grand Turk Island and moving northwest at 15 km/h. The eye of the storm is expected to approach the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas late Thursday and early Friday. A hurricane warning was in effect for those islands as well as the Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to Puerto Plata.
The hurricane was still dumping rain overnight Wednesday in Puerto Rico, where crumbled red roof tiles lay scattered across many roads, and curious residents sidestepped and ducked under dozens of black power lines still swaying in heavy winds. But they posed no danger: Maria caused an island-wide power outage, with officials unable to say when electricity would return.
Puerto Rico’s electric grid was crumbling amid lack of maintenance and a dwindling staff even before the hurricanes knocked out power. Many now believe it will take weeks, if not months, to restore power.
Edwin Rosario, a 79-year-old retired government worker, said an economic crisis that has sparked an exodus of nearly half a million Puerto Ricans to the U.S. mainland will only make the island’s recovery harder.
“Only us old people are left,” he said as he scraped a street gutter in front of his house free of debris. “A lot of young people have already gone . . . If we don’t unite, we’re not going to bounce back.”
With files from the New York Times
‘Maria destroyed us’: Puerto Rico wakes up to ‘historic’ devastation, total power outage
A boy was seriously injured in a stabbing outside a downtown Toronto high school Thursday afternoon.
Police and paramedics were called to Central Toronto Academy, on Shaw St. just north of College St., at 12:40 p.m. for reports that a boy had been stabbed outside the school’s entrance.
“The boy retreated into the school to get help,” said Toronto police Const. David Hopkinson.
Paramedics estimated the boy is about 15, and said his injuries were serious.
“I don’t believe it’s life-threatening,” said Hopkinson.
The school was locked down for about an hour after the incident and the boy’s parents have been contacted, the Toronto District School Board said via Twitter.
Hopkinson said a description of the suspect, who fled the scene, wasn’t immediately available.
Central Toronto Academy — formerly known as Central Commerce before a name change in 2014— was the alma mater of former Toronto mayor Mel Lastman.
In recent years, the school has undergone sweeping changes as the Toronto District School Board began modernizing its curriculum, offering advanced placement courses and arts and culture-centered majors.
Boy stabbed outside downtown Toronto high school
Neighbours yelled “he can’t hear you!” But the two officers kept shouting commands.
Sgt. Christopher Barnes and Lt. Matthew Lindsey ordered Magdiel Sanchez to drop a 60-centimentre-long metal pipe. Instead, the 35-year-old stepped from the porch of the single-story house in suburban Oklahoma City, apparently oblivious to the shouts.
With about 4 metres of distance between them, both officers discharged their weapons — one a gun, the other a taser. Sanchez was pronounced dead at the scene Tuesday night.
The uniformed officers arrived at the address looking for the driver of a hit-and-run incident nearby. Sanchez was the son of the driver they were looking for. What they did not seem to know was that he was deaf.
This was the account Oklahoma City Police Capt. Bo Mathews gave to reporters at a news conference Wednesday. He also said that Sanchez’s father, who was not named, was at the scene.
Barnes, who fired the gun, was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into the shooting. Neither officer was wearing a body camera and Sanchez had no apparent criminal history, Matthews said.
“In those situations, very volatile situations, you have a weapon out, you can get what they call tunnel vision, or you can really lock into just the person that has the weapon that’d be the threat against you,” Mathews said. “I don’t know exactly what the officers were thinking at that point.”
After the reported hit-and-run accident Tuesday, a witness gave Lindsey the address where the departed vehicle was heading, about a block away from the scene of the crash. Lindsey went there and saw Sanchez on the porch with the a 60-centimentre-long metal pipe covered in material and a leather loop at the end that police said fit around a wrist.
Lindsey called for backup, Matthews said. Barnes arrived and the officers commanded Sanchez to drop the pipe. There are officers trained in sign language, Matthews said, but he was not sure if that included the officers at Tuesday’s scene.
As the incident unfolded, neighbour Julio Rayos stood about 7 to 10 metres away with his wife and daughter. They were yelling at the officers not to shoot Sanchez and that he was deaf, Rayos told NewsOK Tuesday.
Sanchez also had developmental disabilities and was non-verbal, so he communicated mostly with his hands, Rayos said.
“The guy does movements. He don’t speak, he don’t hear, so mainly it’s hand movements that he does. That’s how we communicated with him,” Rayos said. “I believe he was frustrated, trying to tell them what was going on.”
At one point Sanchez struck the back of his truck. Rayos believes Sanchez was trying to communicate in the midst of the hectic scene. That’s when Rayos knew something was about to happen. The officers already had their weapons drawn, he said.
Both officers told Sanchez to drop his weapon, Matthews said. But he continued toward them, he said, until they used the firearm and taser at the same time.
Neighbour Jolie Guebara lives two houses down from the scene and heard five or six gunshots before she looked outside and saw the police, she told the Associated Press.
Whenever she and her husband were outside, Sanchez would sometimes stop by and write notes to communicate with them.
“He always had a stick that he would walk around with, because there’s a lot of stray dogs,” Guebara told the AP.
Sanchez is one of 712 people that have been shot and killed by police in 2017, according to The Washington Post’s Fatal Force database. And there have been other controversial officer-involved fatal shootings in Oklahoma recently.
In 2016, Terence Crutcher, an unarmed 40-year-old Black man and father of four, was walking toward his car with his hands above his head, when moments later white former Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby fatally shot him in 2016. Shelby was acquitted in May.
Neighbours yell ‘he can’t hear you’ before Oklahoma City officer fatally shoots deaf man
If a social debate is based on fuzzy ideas accumulated from something read somewhere, sometime, an academically published view is the antithesis of it, based on rigorous research, citations and knowledge. Before being published, it is peer-reviewed, or tested for accuracy and integrity by someone with subject matter expertise.
This process is at the heart of a controversy roiling the academic community after the Third World Quarterly, a reputable British journal on global politics, published a piece earlier this month titled “The case for colonialism” by Bruce Gilley, a Princeton University Ph.D and Portland State University professor.
(Although “third world” is now considered a derogatory term, the 40-year-old journal’s name derived from the non-aligned movement of countries who did not want to support either side of the Cold War.)
In his article, Gilley says colonialism has been unjustly vilified, that it was legitimate and its “civilizing mission” was in fact beneficial. He also writes that it is time to re-colonize parts of the world and create “new Western colonies from scratch” because developing countries are failing at self-governance and anti-colonial ideology was harmful to native populations.
The reaction was explosive, targeted at both the article and the journal’s decision to publish it. A petition calling for the article’s retraction gathered more than 10,000 signatures. On Tuesday, roughly half of the journal’s 34 editorial board members resigned in protest.
Two researchers writing for a London School of Economics blog called the piece“a travesty, the academic equivalent of a Trump tweet, clickbait with footnotes.”
That it appeared in a respected journal devoted to anti-colonial politics, made it “the equivalent of a journal devoted to Holocaust studies publishing that the Holocaust didn’t happen,” according to Ilan Kapoor, a York University professor at the Faculty of Environmental Studies, who was one of the board members who quit.
The primary problem, though, revolved around whether the piece published under the label “Viewpoint” passed the scholarship test for publication.
“As with all articles in the journal, this Viewpoint did undergo double-blind peer review and was subsequently published,” said Shahid Qadir, editor-in-chief of the quarterly in a statement.
In a double-blind review, the author’s and reviewer’s identities are withheld from each other.
The editorial board members say they asked for but didn’t get copies of the review. They also say the article was not passed, but rejected by three reviewers. (Qadir did not respond to my requests for comment on this.)
“The piece in question was rejected by two peers who were editors of a special issue on ‘Whatever happened to the idea of imperialism?’ and then it was further rejected by another peer,” said Lisa Ann Richey, a scholar from Denmark currently at Duke University in the U.S.
“There was a remedy available last week — to retract the piece and apologize for the gross error — and this remedy was not implemented by the editor. After this disappointing outcome, the only option available for anyone sitting on the Board who wanted to stand for academic integrity was to resign.”
Kapoor said, “This discrepancy between what the editor has told us and what we have found is highly problematic.”.
Meanwhile, the piece is being torn apart by academics on factual grounds.
“Gilley says he is simply asking for an unbiased assessment of the facts, that he just wants us to take off our ideological blinders and examine colonialism from an empirical perspective,” writes Nathan Robinson in a scathing piece in Current Affairs.
“But this is not what he has done. Instead … (he has concealed) evidence of gross crimes against humanity.”
For instance, he omits any mention of the first 300 years of Western colonization because it’s “impossible to spin it,” as beneficial to native populations, says Robinson. Or he quotes a Congolese man saying, “Maybe the Belgians should come back” and entirely bypasses Belgian King Leopold’s reign of terror in the Congo that scandalized the world.
In the think tank Cato Institute’s blog, Sahar Khan gives five examples of how the piece is “empirically and historically inaccurate.”
For instance, “Gilley attributes the abolition of slave-trading to colonialism, which in addition to being ridiculous, is factually incorrect … Systematic decolonization and subsequent wars of independence eventually ended the slave trade.”
The unexplained publication of a piece that does not meet academic standards of quality should sound alarm bells for those of us outside the ivory towers, too.
The desire to appear even-handed under pressure from faux free-speech defenders has created a damaging false equivalency model in mainstream media, where the compulsion to get “the other side” means unfounded ideas are given the same weight as sound reasoning.
Despite the imperfections of academia, academically credited facts established with rigour, empirical evidence and scholarship remain a credible tool to fight climate change deniers, racism deniers, anti-vaxxers or any one floating in the universe of “alternative facts.”
Not condemning this attempt to Breitbart-ize academia will effectively wipe out the role of accountability in fact-gathering and remove any barriers to revisiting lasting atrocities of our past.
Shree Paradkar writes about discrimination and identity. You can follow her @shreeparadkar
How an article defending colonialism was ever published is a mystery roiling academia: Paradkar
VATICAN CITY—Pope Francis on Thursday acknowledged the Catholic Church was “a bit late” in realizing the damage done by priests who rape and molest children, and said that the decades-long practice of moving pedophiles around rather than sanctioning them was to blame.
Francis met Thursday for the first time with his sex abuse advisory commission, a group of outside experts named in 2014 to advise him and the Catholic Church on best practices to keep pedophiles out of the priesthood and protect children.
In his prepared remarks, Francis promised to respond with the “firmest measures possible” against sex abusers. He said bishops and religious superiors bore “primary responsibility” for keeping their flocks safe from abusive priests and would be held accountable if they are negligent.
But Francis also spoke off-the-cuff, admitting that the church’s response to the scandal was slow. Indeed, the Vatican for decades turned a blind eye to the problem and local bishops, rather than defrocking abusers, instead moved them from parish to parish, allowing them to abuse anew.
Part of the problem was that under the papacy of St. John Paul II, the Vatican was reluctant to defrock young priests, even if they were abusers.
“The consciousness of the church arrived a bit late, and when the consciousness arrives late, the means to resolve the problem arrive late,” Francis said. “Perhaps the old practice of moving people around, and not confronting the problem, kept consciences asleep.”
Francis also addressed the way the Vatican was handling appeals of canonical sentences, saying he wanted to add more diocesan bishops to an appeals commission that is currently dominated by canon lawyers. He said lawyers “tend to want to lower sentences” and that he wanted the influence of diocesan bishops with experience of the problem in the field to balance it out.
“I decided to balance out this commission and also say that if abuse of a minor is proven, it’s sufficient and there’s no need for recourse. If there is proof, period. It’s definitive. Why? Not because of revulsion, but simply because the person who did this, man or woman, is sick. It’s a sickness.”
In its three years, the sex abuse commission has held educational workshops in dioceses around the world, but has faced such stiff resistance to some of its proposals at the Vatican that its most prominent member, Irish abuse survivor Marie Collins, resigned in frustration in March.
The commission’s statutes and membership are up for review, and it remains to be seen if survivors of abuse will be included in the new membership roster.
Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston and head of the commission, told the pope that the commission had “benefited greatly” from listening to survivors, but made no mention of whether any were under consideration for membership.
On the membership front, he said only that the commission was seeking “representatives from churches in different parts of the world.” Currently, priests, nuns and experts fill the ranks, including noted sociologists and psychologists in the field of abuse and child protection.
Pope Francis admits the church was ‘a bit late’ on tackling sex abuse
A 29-year-old woman with Down syndrome has filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario after two Toronto police officers were recorded mocking her during a traffic stop.
Francie Munoz argues the behaviour displayed by Const. Sasa Sljivo and Const. Matthew Saris on Nov. 5, 2016 amounts to discrimination on the grounds of disability.
She says in the complaint that she has suffered emotional trauma as a result of the incident, and that it has undermined her trust in law enforcement.
Sljivo and Saris are facing a disciplinary hearing on charges under the Police Services Act, with the next hearing scheduled for Oct. 18.
Police documents show Sljivo is charged with misconduct related to the use of profane, abusive or insulting language, while Saris is charged with misconduct related to the failure to report Sljivo’s comments.
The officers have not said how they will plead, though they have issued a written apology for the incident, calling it a “lapse in judgment.”
Munoz’s family has consistently asked for a public apology — a request repeated in the human rights complaint.
In the document, Munoz says the officers offered through their union to apologize privately but have balked at doing so publicly. Their behaviour while appearing before the disciplinary hearing only compounded the issue, she alleges.
“At no point did the officers greet or look at the applicant, let alone make any effort to say words of apology or regret. Being ignored by the officers when they had the opportunity to say or do something deepened the applicant’s feeling of injury,” the complaint says.
The officers’ lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Munoz asks for an order to make Toronto’s police chief publicly apologize and express his commitment to ensure that all officers in the force undergo human rights training on working with people with disabilities.
She also asks that the force be ordered to implement a more rigorous screening process for new officers “to identify pre-existing biases or prejudices, especially in regards to those with disabilities.”
The complaint says the comments were made inside a police cruiser after the officers pulled over Munoz’s mother, Pamela Munoz, on allegations that she had run a red light. Francie Munoz was a passenger in the back seat.
While preparing to fight the $325 ticket months later, Munoz’s mother requested the evidence against her and obtained an audio recording of the officers’ conversation.
Sljivo can be heard describing Munoz as “disfigured” and a “half-person,” while Saris is heard laughing and agreeing, the complaint says.
Munoz “was inconsolable for days after learning about the officers’ remarks and became anxious and withdrawn in the presence of first responders and other uniformed personnel,” it says.
“As time passes, it has also become clear that Francie’s self-esteem, confidence and sense of self-worth have all been undermined by the derogatory comments directed at her by persons in a position of power and authority in society, whom she previously looked up to and viewed with respect.”
Munoz is also seeking $25,000 in damages for harm to dignity and sense of self-worth, as well as $5,000 to cover her legal expenses.
A hearing over her mother’s ticket has been pushed back to December, the complaint says.
Woman with Down syndrome files human rights complaint after cops mock her during traffic stop
The riddle of the missing link has finally been solved.
Metrolinx is expropriating land so that the Dundas West subway station will be connected to the Bloor UP Express and GO Transit station, located 270 metres away, through an underground pedestrian tunnel.
It’s a $23 million plan that should help bewildered travelers who are often seen wandering around the Dundas and Bloor intersection looking for either the TTC station or the Union-Pearson hub.
“Negotiations were complex with multiple stakeholders so it took much longer than we hope, but we’re excited to finally move forward,” Metrolinx’s Anne Marie Aikins said Thursday.
“Seamless convenient connections between GO, UP and the TTC are really important to customers,” said Aikins, noting UP ridership is rising and is now more than 300,000 per month.
“We’ve been negotiating with the property owners on the Crossways (residential and commercial) property for the past four years as we need access to some of the property in the underground parking lot to make the connection,” she said.
“There will be no impact on residents living in the Crossways,” said Aikins, referring to the rental apartment buildings at 2340 Dundas St. West.
“Our goal is to have control of the property interest by summer 2018. Once the property has been acquired, the design will go through public consultation,” she said, noting the $23 million tab includes the cost of the land, property, design, and construction of the link.
A date for its opening will be set after the expropriation process is completed.
The lack of a weather-protected connection between the TTC station at the northwest corner of Dundas West and Bloor and the UP/GO station has baffled users since the airport express rail line opened in 2015.
Currently, a small sign directs wayward travelers from the subway station onto Dundas – where they must steer their suitcases across streetcar tracks – forcing them to wheel their luggage more than a quarter kilometre east on Bloor.
Gaining access through the parking garage beneath the Crossways complex will make for a better transit experience, said Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca.
“It’s very positive news. I know there’s a great deal of demand in the west end of Toronto to see that physical connection that had long been promised now one step closer to being delivered,” said Del Duca.
“It’s all part and parcel of the broader plan to build a seamless and integrated transit network right around the region.”
Dundas West TTC station to finally be connected to Union Pearson Express station
The independent watchdog who keeps an eye on Ontario government finances has resigned just five months after returning from a medical leave.
Stephen LeClair, hired in 2015 to head a new financial accountability office for the province, cited “personal reasons” for his departure, Nancy Marling, executive director of administrative services at the Legislature, said Thursday.
No further details were provided.
LeClair, who earned $251,742.68 last year according to public sector salary disclosure filings, returned to work April 10 after the medical leave, saying “I look forward to continuing to serve MPPs and Ontarians.”
He was the deputy finance minister in the Yukon and a career civil servant before taking the Ontario job, created by the Liberal government as a sop to the NDP for supporting Premier Kathleen Wynne’s then-minority government in May 2013.
The position of financial accountability officer is modelled on the federal government’s Parliamentary budget officer.
LeClair was chosen by a legislative hiring panel chaired by Speaker Dave Levac and one MPP from each of the Liberals, Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats.
He had also worked as a civil servant with the federal government, Alberta, Northwest Territories and Ontario.
Ontario’s budget watchdog Stephen LeClair resigns
Two GTA municipalities have a child-care problem on their hands, but not the one that normally comes to mind in the world of daycare woes.
The region’s of York and Peel say they have no one on their wait lists for child-care subsidies, and a recent boost in millions of dollars in provincial and federal funding means they actually have more money than there seems to be an immediate need for.
York Region received $14 millon in additional funds in 2017 to spend on its child-care program. Peel says it received a $21 million cash injection in additional federal-provincial funding to put towards making child care more accessible this year.
Now they just need to find families who need the help.
That’s why both municipalities are planning to launch campaigns to try to get the word out — specifically aimed at those middle-income earners who may not even know that they qualify for help with daycare costs.
“I think there are a number of people who automatically disqualify themselves because they don’t know what the income levels might be. They think it’s for people who are very poor or very low-income, and that’s not the case,” said Cordelia Abankwa, the General Manager of Social Services for York Region.
“There are people who are working on very moderate salaries, who would be able to benefit and who need it,” Abankwa said.
“People think that if they own their home they might not be eligible, but that’s not always the case,” she said.
For years, much of the child-care discussion has focused on Toronto, where notoriously high child-care fees, and lower-incomes households have kept the city’s wait list hovering around 15,000 children. Durham Region says they have 2,586 children on their wait list, although a number of kids can’t receive subsidies, as their parents are not working or in school — a necessary criteria for a family to receive support. But both York and Peel say their immediate wait lists were reduced, due to a combination of provincial funding and strategies to target the wait list — including getting out of directly delivering child care.
In 2016, 14,726 children in Peel received subsidies. In Toronto, the number is 28,975, according to the city’s website. In York Region today, currently 8,300 children receive child-care subsidies.
Abankwa believes the low demand is not about a lack of need but is simply a lack of awareness.
“I think the surplus comes down to a lack of knowledge,” she said. “This region has seen a lot of growth and a lot of change. And people don’t necessarily know automatically about our fee subsidy…and for a long time, we did have a wait list,” she said. “People often hear about wait lists in other areas, and I think people tend to assume that in every single area it’s the same. These ideas die hard,” she said.
Currently, in Peel, only 21 per cent of children use licensed child care, according to Suzanne Finn, the director of Early Years & Child Care Services for Peel. “Some people might have grandparents or a spouse at home…we know licensed child care is not for everybody, but we want to make sure that anyone who wants it, can afford it,” she said.
Both municipalities say their campaign includes advertising, putting up posters in child-care centres, and engaging directly with child-care providers.
The province sets out who is eligible for a subsidy using a sliding income scale which is loosely calculated by looking at both household income and the cost of care. For example, a family whose income is around $70,000, could be offered a subsidy to reduce child-care costs to $42 a day per child. Infant care in York Region averages around $1,400 a month, which amounts to $63 a day.
The province announced a major child-care expansion plan in September 2016 to create licensed child care for 100,000 more children under age 4 over the next five years. Then this spring, municipalities received additional federal money under the Canada-Ontario Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) agreement, a multi-year initiative aimed at helping families access child care and invest in “local priorities.”
The province also gave municipalities a hard deadline of spending or allocating most of the money by the end of this year — or risk losing it.
In one York Region report to be discussed by local politicians on Thursday, staff say while money is good to have, it’s been difficult to deal with the influx so quickly.
“The capacity of the many municipalities, including York Region, to absorb this amount of funding in a limited amount of time will be challenging for several reasons,” says the report. “It takes time to create new child spaces particularly if it involves a capital retrofit or capital expansion, as each space needs to undergo licensing inspection. It also takes time to reach new families who may be eligible for fee assistance through a media campaign and then place them into suitable and accessible child care,” the report says, suggesting the region request the province extend the deadline for expenditure from December 31, 2017 to December 31, 2018 to more effectively use the new funding.
Heather Irwin, a spokeswoman with the Ministry of Education says “the ministry has been and continues to work very closing with all service system managers including Peel and York to support the planning and implementation of ELCC investments. The province is also monitoring expenditures and how funding is allocated as part of our expansion plan and ELCC to determine how to best target funding in the future,” she said in an email.
But the timelines are still in place, said Irwin.
Abankwa says she hopes the campaign encourages residents to reach out to their municipalities — even if they aren’t sure they can get help.
“We are also hoping that people will take a chance to reach out to us,” she said. “This is an opportunity, where we have the ability to help our residents…and we want families to take advantage of it.”
York and Peel regions have millions in daycare subsidies available but no one's on the waiting list
UNITED NATIONS, N.Y.—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau used a speech to the United Nations on Thursday to probe a source of national shame: the historic struggles of Canada’s Indigenous peoples.
He spoke of forced migration and forced family separation in residential schools, which he said left a devastating legacy on reserves to this day.
He said Canada came to exist without the consent and participation of the Indigenous populations who had lived there for millenniums.
“For indigenous peoples in Canada, the experience was mostly one of humiliation, neglect and abuse,” he said.
It was the major theme of his address, which did not gloss over the country’s failures and even referred to the international condemnation they have drawn.
But he also looked ahead to at a series of solutions: better infrastructure on reserves, better housing, signing of the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples and a dismantling of the old Indian Affairs department.
“Canada remains a work in progress,” he said. “For all the mistakes we’ve made, we remain hopeful.”
Trudeau used these examples to bolster his main point here at the UN this week: that Canada is ready to take on complex challenges, at home and abroad, and deserves a seat on the Security Council.
The rest of the speech focused on climate change, international trade rules aimed at helping workers and his controversial tax reform which he cited as an example of his middle-class-friendly policies.
Trudeau drew applause when he promised to keep supporting the international climate-change treaty.
“There is no country on the planet that can walk away from the challenge and reality of climate change.” he said.
He also promised to stick to his efforts to empower women and girls.
The prime minister's reference to his tax plans drew a Twitter rebuke from Conservative MP Garnett Genuis:
"Unbelievable. Trudeau praising his terrible small business tax grab during UN speech. Save that for home at the very least."
Canada struggles to improve conditions for Indigenous People, Trudeau says at the UN
Witness could hear 'dragging' noises from 18th floor apartment as gas station worker killed, jury told.
Witness heard ‘gas and dash’ death 18 floors up, trial hears Witness heard ‘gas and dash’ death 18 floors up, trial hears
Canadian residents helping to clear away debris from Hurricanes Maria and Irma.
Canadian British Virgin Islands residents mop up after two devastating hurricanes
10 others were injured and are receiving treatment after an aid truck crashed in Bangladesh, Thursday. More than 420,000 Rohingya refugees have fled Burma to Bangladesh in less than a month.
Buddhist mob attacks Red Cross shipment destined for Rohingya Muslims as 9 aid workers die in crash