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    Mike Trauner has been training hard on the rowing machine in his basement and, after looking at the results from the last Invictus Games, he thinks he’s got a good shot at winning his event in Toronto.

    He’d like to win — everyone likes to be a winner — but at the same time he knows it doesn’t really matter.

    Trauner and the 550 military personnel and veterans from 17 countries competing in Toronto over the next eight days have something much weightier in mind when they take to the pool, track, sport courts and fields.

    “We’re really battling against our own demons,” says the 38-year-old from Pembroke, Ont., who retired from the Canadian forces this year.

    “People aren’t there at the games to earn medals; people are there to overcome their own problems in life.”

    In his case, that’s a pretty long list: 18 surgeries and dying — twice.

    On Dec. 5, 2008, Trauner was with the Canadian forces in Afghanistan on a dawn patrol when he stepped over a berm, heard a pop and found himself flying through the air.

    “I didn’t know what the hell was happening and I landed in this crater the size of my pickup truck.”

    He heard the calls go out over the radio for a helicopter to medivac a double amputee. He didn’t realize they meant him.

    He lost both his legs that day — the left above the knee, the right just below — and doctors very nearly amputated his left hand as well. They lost his vital signs twice before stabilizing him. He has severe damage in both arms, there’s still a chunk of his assault rifle buried deep within his right hand, he has hearing damage, nerve damage and a body full of scars and burns.

    “I can’t remember it all,” he says with a sigh after rhyming off the list of what that explosive device cost him.

    “I have a traumatic brain injury too, but it only affects my short-term memory.”

    He also broke his back in a parachute accident in 2002 — he says he doesn’t notice it anymore because everything else hurts so much more — and was recently found to have diabetes.

    Competing in indoor rowing and road cycling, on a recumbent hand cycle, next week is a chance for Trauner to push against perceived limits and feel part of a Canadian team again.

    “For me, (the Invictus Games) is overcoming the surgeries, overcoming the physical disabilities, overcoming the mental traumas that I had to go through, me and my wife,” he says.

    “If I win, that’s great, if I don’t win, I’m still glad I did it, I’m just happy to be part of it. I know that’s a Canadian answer but it’s true.”

    So much of sport — professional and amateur alike — has become about winning that little leagues and minor hockey contend with hyper-competitive parents, and Paralympics have become all about medals in order to secure much-needed government funding.

    But these games are different.

    There are no medal tables to track the most successful countries and it’s the Invictus anthem — not national anthems — that will play for the champions when they touch the wall first in swimming or win the wheelchair basketball tournament.

    Perhaps one of the most telling signs of the atmosphere and celebratory nature of this event comes in the rulebook, which strongly encourages competitors “to keep alcohol consumption to a minimum when representing their nations in team uniforms.”

    This is only the third time the Invictus Games — established by Prince Harry after witnessing the American Warrior Games — have been held. But the principle of these games for ill and injured members of the armed forces and veterans dates back to the very origins of parasport, when it was used as rehabilitation for soldiers and civilians injured in the Second World War.

    Dr. Ludwig Guttmann opened a spinal injuries centre at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Britain and, over time, sport designed for rehabilitation evolved into recreational and then competitive competition, culminating in its most elite expression at the Paralympics.

    “Invictus is about regaining an active life,” says Mimi Poulin, who lives in Lazo, B.C.

    By the time she arrived to swim, row and play sitting volleyball at last year’s competition in Orlando, she had already achieved her goal.

    It had been just two years since a parachute accident in May 2014 left her with a shattered pelvis and extensive nerve damage in her right leg. She had been a combat medic and was training to move into search and rescue when she was injured. She had to discover her new normal after months in a wheelchair and learning to walk again.

    “Being able to compete in such a big event was my medal,” Poulin says. “It gave me the confidence that I can do anything I want if I set my heart to it.”

    Now, at 38, she is retiring from the military and planning to go back to school to find a new career.

    The co-captain of Canada’s team, Maj. Simon Mailloux, has a couple goals for the Toronto Invictus Games but other than, hopefully, getting to meet Bruce Springsteen, who is playing at the closing ceremony, very little has to do with him.

    “I’m not a natural athlete, I have to admit. I’m just a good guy who is trying to run on one leg,” says the 33-year-old from Quebec City.

    He says he’s doing it for his 4-year-old daughter, Norah.

    “She’s only ever seen me with one leg and I want her to understand that, even though I’m different than other people and I may have struggles and sometimes I hop around at home … I can also do great things.”

    Mailloux lost his left leg in 2007 when his vehicle hit an explosive device in Afghanistan and, with his prosthetic leg, he returned for another tour there in 2009.

    He also competed at last year’s Invictus Games in Orlando and was struck by what he saw there.

    “It’s the first games I saw that you cheer more for the person that finishes last than first,” he says. “You know they went through a lot just to be there.”

    For some competitors, it’s what they’ve been through that gets them picked for the team.

    “Nations don’t select their teams solely on ability to (win a) medal,” says Scott Jones, the senior manager for sport for the Invictus Games.

    “They won’t necessarily pick the best athletes to make the team, they’ll pick who needs the recovery the most and who will benefit the most from the experience and opportunity.”

    Trauner had been going through a rough stretch — more surgeries, and housebound winters — when Michael Burns, CEO of Toronto Invictus Games, invited him to attend the official launch in May 2016.

    At that Toronto event, after a round of greetings and thank you’s, it was none other than Prince Harry who urged him to compete next year.

    “I accept challenges. Just being infantry, I have to accept challenges,” says Trauner, who alternates between prosthetic legs and a wheelchair.

    “I challenge you to come out next year,” he recalled the prince telling him.

    “Join the team, challenge yourself, compete against the guys, I want to see you there and I said, ‘You’re on, I accept your challenge.’ I shook his hand and took a picture.”

    It came at the perfect time, Trauner’s wife, Leah Cuffe, recalls.

    In the early years, all his energy was taken up with navigating his physical issues. But being housebound again in 2015 after more surgery led to some dark days.

    “When he has a goal he fights and he trains. It gives his life purpose,” she says. “He’s back to Mike again and those dark days he was having are gone.”

    His recovery has become the focus of her life as much as his.

    She’s in the basement doing counts with him when he’s on the rower and she’s with him when he cycles on the road.

    “I bought a recumbent bike myself so we can train together,” Cuffe says. “And on the days when he wants to do distance I shadow him in my car so that he doesn’t get hit because I couldn’t do another phone call like that.”

    She’s referring to the call she got at 3:43 a.m. telling her something had happened to her husband. That led to an emergency flight to the medical centre in Landstuhl, Germany, and a walk down the longest hallway she can remember to see her husband.

    He knew his new reality would also be hers.

    “I am so sorry — those were his first words to me,” she recalls.

    In recognition of the role that families play in a soldier’s recovery, whether it’s from a physical injury or a mental one with post traumatic stress illness, Invictus competitors are invited to bring two people with them to stay at no cost in Toronto to enjoy the experience with them.

    “It’s going to be amazing,” Cuffe says about spending the week in Toronto, attending events and watching Trauner compete.

    “I’m so excited for him and I’m so proud of him, just how far he’s come,” she says.

    “I’m going to shout from the rooftops.”


    Invictus Games is not about the medals: ‘We’re really battling our own demons,’ says Canadian injured in battleInvictus Games is not about the medals: ‘We’re really battling our own demons,’ says Canadian injured in battle

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    National Indigenous leaders say it isn’t good enough to just take Conservative Sen. Lynn Beyak off of Senate committees — she needs to be removed from office.

    Two northern Ontario First Nations grand chiefs who represent more than 70 Indigenous communities first asked for Beyak’s resignation in March after she made comments defending the residential school system in Canada that saw more than 150,000 Indigenous kids taken from their homes and culture and placed into church run, government funded schools. Beyak said that an “abundance of good” had come from the schools and “mistakes” should not “overshadow” the “good things” that happened.

    The schools represent a dark chapter in Canada’s recent past. The schools ran from the mid-1800s to the 1990s. Many of the students suffered various forms of neglect and abuse and generations have suffered trauma as a result.

    Beyak was a member of the Senate’s Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples at the time she made the comments in March. Afterwards, former Conservative interim leader Rona Ambrose removed her from that committee.

    Earlier this month, Beyak posted on her website that First Nations people should become Canadian citizens and trade in their status cards and further to that — they should promote their culture “on their own dime, on their own time,” according to the CBC. That open letter has since been removed. (Status Indians are Canadian citizens.)

    Grand Council Treaty #3 Ogichidaa Francis Kavanaugh said it is unacceptable Beyak, who hails from the Dryden area, sits in the Senate and represents his territory when she has such abhorrent views.

    “As a senator who has resided within the Treaty #3 territory, I am gravely concerned about your lack of understanding. You continue to speak about something you clearly know nothing about,” Kavanaugh said in an open statement.

    There were 17 Indian residential schools in Ontario. The Dryden, Kenora, Fort Frances area was surrounded by nine schools.

    Kavanaugh said Treaty #3 leaders will “continue to monitor” Beyak’s work and “will make concentrated efforts” to ensure that she does not do any further harm by perpetuating “ignorance and racism towards Indigenous peoples,” he said. Grand Council Treaty #3 territory comprises 28 communities and it runs from west of Thunder Bay to north of Sioux Lookout, along the U.S. border, to the province of Manitoba.

    Earlier this week, Beyak was removed from all Senate committees; however, she is still a member of the Conservative caucus. Beyak, who was appointed by former prime minister Stephen Harper in January 2013, could not be reached for comment.

    In this era of reconciliation, there is no place for outdated thinking like Beyak’s in the Senate, said Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde in a statement released this week. Last March, Bellegarde reached out to Beyak. He wrote her a letter opposing her remarks, and he sent her a book on residential schools by John Milloy entitled, “A National Crime.” Beyak never responded.

    Also this week, Carolyn Bennett, the minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, called Beyak’s continued comments regarding Indigenous people “ill-informed, hurtful, and simply wrong.”

    NAN Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler, who represents 49 communities in northern Ontario, said they have “renewed” their call for her to resign and for the Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer to remove her from caucus. “We feel she should not be given any type of platform to espouse her racist views,” Fiddler said.

    “The other thing that is bothersome is that the survivors themselves reached out to her. They met with her in July in Sioux Lookout. And for her to turn around and say these racist views after spending time with survivors is shameful,” he added. Sioux Lookout has a truth and reconciliation committee and they met with the senator in July.

    Survivors left that meeting thinking she was going to re-examine her attitudes and have no more distorted views, said Kavanaugh. “Then she comes up with these recent comments. She hasn’t learned a thing,” he said.


    Indigenous leaders again call for Conservative senator to resign for ‘racist’ remarksIndigenous leaders again call for Conservative senator to resign for ‘racist’ remarks

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    Catherine McKenna, minister for environment and climate change and MP for Ottawa Centre, is a bilingual, internationalist human rights lawyer with degrees from the University of Toronto, McGill and the London School of Economics.

    Gerry Ritz, Conservative MP for Battlefords-Lloydminster, isn’t.

    I suspect this may be why he referred to her this week as “climate Barbie” and why his leader Andrew Scheer refused to denounce him in the House of Commons.

    But there are more reasons than envy. Here’s the context. Female politicians are put through a gauntlet of misery and mockery, a level of scrutiny that men don’t endure partly because, let’s face it, men aren’t that interesting. They don’t have to be. They’re guys.

    Throughout human history, men both good and vile have run the world so completely that they’re considered standard basic equipment. Actually, they’re not even “considered,” they’re just there. So every woman who manages to pop into public notice for being supremely qualified for her job is regarded as an anomaly.

    She gets the Hillary Clinton treatment.

    Minister of Status of Women Maryam Monsef was tormented by birthers, of all things. One of Canada’s most energetic intellectuals, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, was mocked for wearing a red dress and dismissed for her “charm,” a quality that in male politicians is known as being “affable.”

    I know nothing about the current governor-general except that he is a white-haired gentleman who seems extraordinarily nice. He has a past; we don’t bother probing and mincing it. But the incoming governor-general, the stellar Julie Payette, an engineer and astronaut, has been hunted down for the details of her divorce and for having been found faultless in a deadly traffic accident.

    This is the context for Ritz spitefully mocking McKenna, the sexist slur originating with the far-right Rebel hate site that Conservatives cannot seem to decisively reject. He is calling her a dumb blond, a meme from his era that means she’s too stupid to understand science and looks like a little girl’s plastic doll.

    “Any individual who possesses certain social characteristics has a moral right to expect that others will value and treat him in an appropriate way,” the Canadian-born sociologist Erving Goffman wrote in The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. We see ourselves as we think others might see us. We make our self-presentation, a general statement running anywhere from “I’m an astronaut” to “I never illegally downloaded that movie.”

    But in Ritz’s view, women can’t do this unilaterally. How then does he see himself?

    Utterly unobtrusive, Ritz, a grey-faced man dressed in grey with grey hair, was born near a prairie town, worked on the family farm and did some general contracting before running for MP. He was Stephen Harper’s agriculture minister.

    What you do with a background like this is re-invent yourself for public life by adding, say, experience, education, international adventure, building a personality or adapting to a changing feminist world. Leading that change might be an option.

    Not for Gerry. Why sneer at women when you haven’t met any? In 170 photos on www.gerryritz.ca, he poses with 335 men and only 70 women. (I counted, and a more tedious exercise you could not imagine. Everyone looked pretty grim.)

    As for McKenna’s hair which so offends Ritz, blondness is more of an American than a Canadian fetish, perhaps due to that nation’s obsession with race and money. It has gradations.

    American women go blond, men go grey. Old money is pale blond, Fox News goes hard yellow. “Blond is the colour of the right, for whom whiteness has become a hallmark,” writes New York Magazine’s Amy Larocca.

    In lovely Canada, hair goes to hell its own way. One can be oneself. At least men can, as long as that self resembles Ritz, and in Conservative politics it generally does.

    I am mystified by one Canadian politician I rather like, who appears to have dyed his hair blond — or is it sunlit? — but with puzzling gray patches. Is he growing out the grey or did he do a ham-fisted job at home to save the expense? Oh we’ve all been there.

    Because I do like men so very much, I have always warned them to learn from female suffering. Facial cleanser, moisturizer, serum, hair dye, necklifts. It never ends.

    But the mass industrialization of beauty will win. Soon, male politicians will be required to radiate beauty. Ritz mocks McKenna’s irrelevant photogeneity, but if he retires this fall as has been suggested, he will just miss the era of having to look better and smarter than a pile of sawdust. I name no names. Andrew Scheer.

    If I may extrapolate, Monsef, Freeland, McKenna and Payette are all tall poppies. It’s a quality that older Canadians tend to dislike — millennials are never this petty — but find truly intolerable in women.

    Indeed, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is the tallest poppy of all. Harper wasn’t, which is odd for a PM. This still maddens Conservative men and women.

    When they blow fury about Trudeau’s intellect, charm, feminism and French sense of style, they’re really just Gerry Ritzing. It’s a square dance. No one dances that way any more, Gerry.

    hmallick@thestar.ca


    The Gerry Ritzing of Catherine McKenna: MallickThe Gerry Ritzing of Catherine McKenna: Mallick

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    MEXICO CITY—A strong new earthquake shook Mexico on Saturday, toppling already damaged homes and a highway bridge and causing new alarm in a country reeling from two even more powerful quakes this month that together have killed nearly 400 people.

    The U.S. Geological Survey said the new, magnitude 6.1 temblor was centred about 18 kilometres south-southeast of Matias Romero in the state of Oaxaca, which was the region most battered by a magnitude 8.1 quake on Sept. 7.

    It was among thousands of aftershocks recorded in the wake of that earlier quake, which was the most powerful to hit Mexico in 32 years and killed at least 90 people.

    There was some damage in Oaxaca but no immediate reports of new deaths. The Federal Police agency posted images online showing a collapsed bridge that it said had already been closed due to damage after the Sept. 7 quake.

    Bettina Cruz, a resident of Juchitan, Oaxaca, said by phone with her voice still shaking that the new quake felt “horrible.”

    “Homes that were still standing just fell down,” Cruz said. “It’s hard. We are all in the streets.”

    Read more: Death toll rises in Mexico after powerful earthquake: ‘The disaster is potentially widespread’

    Families of missing in Mexico earthquake still hold out hope as rescue operations continue

    Why Mexico is so vulnerable to earthquakes

    Cruz belongs to a social collective and said that when the shaking began, she was riding in a truck carrying supplies to victims of the earlier quake.

    Nataniel Hernandez said by phone from Tonala, in the southern state of Chiapas, which was also hit hard by the earlier quake, that it was one of the strongest aftershocks he has felt.

    “Since Sept. 7 it has not stopped shaking,” Hernandez.

    U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Paul Caruso said the new temblor was an aftershock of the 8.1 quake, and after a jolt of that size even buildings left standing can be more vulnerable.

    “So a smaller earthquake can cause the damaged buildings to fail,” Caruso said.

    “At the moment the greatest damage has been to the Ixtaltepec bridge, which should be rebuilt, and structures with previous damage that collapsed,” President Enrique Pena Nieto tweeted. He said government workers were fanning out in Juchitan to provide help to anyone who needs it.

    Jaime Hernandez, director of the Federal Electrical Commission, said the quake knocked out power to 327,000 homes and businesses in Oaxaca but service had been restored to 72 per cent of customers within a few hours.

    Buildings swayed in Mexico City, where nerves are still raw from Tuesday’s magnitude 7.1 temblor that has killed at least 305 across the region. Many residents and visitors fled homes, hotels and businesses, some in tears.

    At the Xoco General Hospital, which is treating the largest number of quake victims, workers ordered visitors to evacuate when seismic alarms began to blare.

    That included Syntia Pereda, 43, who was reluctant to leave the bedside of her sleeping boyfriend. Jesus Gonzalez, 49, fell from a third-story balcony of a building where he was working during Tuesday’s quake and was awaiting surgery.

    But she controlled her emotions, went outside and came back when the trembling was over.

    “We are getting used to this,” Pereda said. “Every so often we hear the alarm . . . you say, well, it is God’s will.”

    Alejandra Castellanos was on the second floor of a hotel in a central neighbourhood of Mexico City and ran down the stairs and outside with her husband.

    “I was frightened because I thought, not again!” Castellanos said.

    Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said there were no reports of significant new damage in the capital, and rescue efforts related to Tuesday’s quake were continuing. He reported that two people died of apparent heart attacks during the new temblor.

    At the site of an office building that collapsed Tuesday and where an around-the-clock search for survivors was still ongoing, rescuers briefly evacuated from atop the pile of rubble after the morning quake before returning to work.

    As rescue operations stretched into Day 5, residents throughout the capital have held out hope that dozens still missing might be found alive. More than half the dead — 167 — perished in the capital, while another 73 died in the state of Morelos, 45 in Puebla, 13 in Mexico State, six in Guerrero and one in Oaxaca.

    Along a 60-foot stretch of a bike lane in Mexico City, families huddled under tarps and donated blankets, awaiting word of loved ones trapped in the four-story-high pile of rubble behind them.

    “There are moments when you feel like you’re breaking down,” said Patricia Fernandez Romero, who was waiting Friday for word on the fate of her 27-year-old son. “And there are moments when you’re a little calmer. . . . They are all moments that you wouldn’t wish on anyone.”

    Families have been sleeping in tents, accepting food and coffee from strangers, people have organized to present a united front to authorities, who they pressed ceaselessly for information.

    They were told that water and food had been passed along to at least some of those trapped inside. On Friday morning, after hours of inactivity blamed on rain, rescuers were readying to re-enter the site, joined by teams from Japan and Israel. Fernandez said officials told them they knew where people were trapped on the fourth floor.

    It’s the moments between those bits of information that torment the families.

    “It’s that you get to a point when you’re so tense, when they don’t come out to give us information,” she said. “It’s so infuriating.”


    New 6.1-magnitude earthquake shakes already jittery MexicoNew 6.1-magnitude earthquake shakes already jittery Mexico

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    OTTAWA—Canada’s chief negotiator Steve Verheul says he does not expect the American team to lay out its wishlist for how much to raise the bar for American content in the automotive sector — a key point of contention — in the third round of talks that got underway here Saturday.

    Verheul, speaking to reporters on his way into the talks, also said it is “doubtful” the three-way negotiations will close a chapter on the environment, despite an American team’s spokesperson suggesting “significant progress” had been made on the environment and the chapter on that could be finalized in Ottawa.

    The U.S. has stated one of its key objectives is to raise the amount of North American, and specifically American, content in automotive vehicles made and sold within the North American free trade zone. It is currently, under NAFTA rules, set at 62.5 per cent. The U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross reinforced that demand this week in a Washington Post opinion column. However the U.S. has yet to lay out its specific “ask” or clarify what number it would like to see.

    Rules of origin “will be a subject for discussion but we’re not expecting to see anything radically new at this point,” Verheul said.

    Verheul said “it’s a very big subject,” — rules of origin may also apply to other goods — but despite assertions late in the week that the U.S. views the need to tighten auto sector rules as key to advancing a new NAFTA deal, Verheul did not expect new developments, but nevertheless said he was feeling good as round three began.

    “I’m always optimistic,” said Verheul, but he said it is “too early to say” if significant progress will be made.

    “We’re all putting text on the table at this point,” said Verheul as he strode into the meeting with reporters tailing behind. He said he expected talks would intensify now “but we’ll see how it goes.”

    Emily Davis, a spokesperson for the U.S. Trade Representative’s office, suggested progress has already been made in the areas of the environment, small and medium-size enterprise and competition.

    Delegates for all three teams were tight-lipped on their way in Saturday, after being dropped off at an Ottawa conference centre on Sussex Drive in yellow school buses.


    Canada does not expect U.S. to clarify its demands on auto sector at NAFTA talks todayCanada does not expect U.S. to clarify its demands on auto sector at NAFTA talks today

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    This was a week that saw men with fingers on nuclear codes reduced to blathering name-calling idiots, while women in the public eye rose up and spoke and inspired.

    It was a week when some men acted like infants even while others tried to discredit women by infantilizing them.

    Exhibit A for baby-men were Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un in a tense exchange of brinkmanship, where — get this — Kim made more sense than the U.S. president. In a statement, Kim castigated Trump’s “unethical will to ‘totally destroy’ a sovereign state, beyond the boundary of threats of regime change or overturn of social system.”

    Then he responded with a threat to conduct “the biggest ever hydrogen bomb test in the Pacific,” and returned Trump’s name calling in kind.

    Read more:

    The Gerry Ritzing of Catherine McKenna: Mallick

    A short history of ‘dotard,’ the arcane insult Kim Jong Un used in his threat against Trump

    How an article defending colonialism was ever published is a mystery roiling academia: Paradkar

    In their defence, they offered the hollow comfort of hilarity.

    “Rocket Man!” roared the vapid villain who had already reduced to dust the dignity of his American seat.

    “Frightened dog. Deranged dotard,” raged the pipsqueak ruler of the kingdom of ashes, the wondrous creature who once called South Korea’s first female president “a crafty prostitute.”

    At this, the wounded egomaniac summoned up his finest vocabulary.

    “Madman,” he screeched.

    You’re fired, Donny boy. In a war of words at least, Kim’s weapons possess longer range than yours.

    Earlier in the week, the ever-mature president had retweeted a doctored GIF of himself swinging a golf ball and hitting his former rival Hillary Clinton on the back, leading her to take a tumble. Such power! Such machismo! See, here was a man to put women like her in their place.

    Then there was the football fans’ derision directed at Beth Mowins, who made history this week by becoming the first woman to call a game on Monday Night Football. “Can’t stand the voice.” “Her voice is like fingernails on a blackboard,” “Your voice ruined it for me,” whined viewers.

    There’s no point pretending this was personal preference rather than sexism.

    As Rebecca Martinez, who teaches women’s and gender studies at the University of Missouri told the New York Times, “The comments, mostly from men … focus on the naturally higher pitch of women’s voices and ‘shrillness,’ all the while claiming their critiques of higher pitch have nothing to do with sexism.”

    This is how women sound — different from men. This is how women look — different from men.

    As with men, not one is without flaws. Unlike men, not one escapes ridicule.

    Exhibit A of infantilizing women took place in Canada when Saskatchewan MP Gerry Ritz referred to our country’s environment minister as a “climate Barbie” in a tweet.

    Of what confounding nature is this duplicity foisted on women? Shamed as inferior if you’re not white and blond. Shamed as inferior if you are.

    Two MPs tackled both issues this week.

    Women in Catherine McKenna’s position of having received sexist or racist comments are often counselled to click mute at this point — even by well-wishers.

    Let it go, we are told. Happens all the time. Not worth it.

    Sometimes, though, it’s the silence that’s not worth it when all it serves to do is maintain the status quo.

    McKenna called him out.

    “Do you use that sexist language about your daughter, mother, sister?” she responded. “We need more women in politics. Your sexist comments won’t stop us.”

    Some 20 minutes later, Ritz apologized for using the word Barbie. “It is not reflective of the role our minister plays.”

    If only we could also recalibrate the thinking that leads to such expression.

    In New York to talk climate change with high-level diplomats, McKenna spoke about the incident to reporters.

    “You know what’s really sad?” she asked. “That I’m having to talk about this.”

    “I want to be talking about what I’m doing. But unfortunately we’re having this conversation. … We need to move on. I’ve got two daughters. There’s lots of young women who want to get into politics, and I want them to feel like they can go do that, and they can talk about the great work they’re doing — not about the colour of their hair.”

    About hair.

    There was Celina Caesar-Chavannes, the MP from Whitby, rising magnificently in Parliament Hill wearing her hair in braids in solidarity with women who have been shamed based on their appearance. She delivered a one-minute speech that was a marvel of composure and wisdom and defiance.

    I leave you with her words as your motivation:

    “It has come to my attention that there are young girls here in Canada and other parts of the world who are removed from school or shamed because of their hairstyle.

    “Mr. Speaker, body-shaming of any woman in any form from the top of her head to the soles of her feet is wrong.”

    “Irrespective of her hairstyle, the size of her thighs, the size of her hips, the size of her baby bump, the size of her breasts, or the size of lips, what makes us different makes us unique and beautiful.

    “So Mr. Speaker I will continue to rock these braids. For three reasons. No. 1, because I’m sure you’ll agree, they look pretty dope. No. 2, in solidarity with women who have been shamed based on their appearance.

    “And No. 3, and most importantly, in solidarity with young girls and women who look like me and those who don’t. I want them to know that their braids, their dreads, their super-curly afro puffs, their weaves, their hijabs, and their headscarves, and all other variety of hairstyles, belong in schools, in the workplace, in the boardroom and yes, even here on Parliament Hill.”

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


    Women step up as man-babies throw tantrums: ParadkarWomen step up as man-babies throw tantrums: Paradkar

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    SOMERSET, N.J.—The National Football League and its players’ union on Saturday angrily denounced U.S. President Donald Trump for suggesting that owners fire players who kneel during the national anthem and that fans consider walking out in protest “when somebody disrespects our flag.”

    “Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players,” the league commissioner, Roger Goodell, said in a statement.

    DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association, tweeted: “We will never back down. We no longer can afford to stick to sports.”

    Trump, during a political rally in Alabama on Friday night, also blamed a drop in NFL ratings on the nation’s interest in “yours truly” as well as what he contended was a decline in violence in the game.

    Read more: Trump says NFL players who kneel in protest during national anthem should be fired

    Donald Trump makes 16 false claims at Alabama rally

    Trump rescinds Stephen Curry’s invitation to visit White House

    Smith said the union won’t shy away from “protecting the constitutional rights of our players as citizens as well as their safety as men who compete in a game that exposes them to great risks.”

    Trump kept up his foray into the sports world on Saturday, when he responded to comments by Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, who has made it clear that he’s not interested in a traditional White House trip for the NBA champions

    “Going to the White House is considered a great honour for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!” Trump tweeted while spending the weekend at his golf club in New Jersey.

    It was not immediately clear whether Trump was rescinding the invitation for Curry or the entire team.

    Several athletes, including a handful of NFL players, have refused to stand during “The Star-Spangled Banner” to protest of the treatment of blacks by police. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who started the trend last year when he played for the San Francisco 49ers, hasn’t been signed by an NFL team for this season.

    Trump, who once owned the New Jersey Generals of the U.S. Football League, said those players are disrespecting the American flag and deserve to lose their jobs.

    “That’s a total disrespect of our heritage. That’s a total disrespect of everything that we stand for,” Trump said, encouraging owners to act.

    “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired,” Trump said to loud applause.

    Trump also predicted that any owner who followed the presidential encouragement would become “the most popular person in this country” — at least for a week.

    The players’ union said in a statement that “no man or woman should ever have to choose a job that forces them to surrender their rights. No worker nor any athlete, professional or not, should be forced to become less than human when it comes to protecting their basic health and safety.”

    The NFLPA said “the line that marks the balance between the rights of every citizen in our great country gets crossed when someone is told to just ‘shut up and play.’”

    Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy tweeted, “It’s really sad man” and then used an obscenity to describe Trump.

    On the issue of violence on the field, Trump said players are being thrown out for aggressive tackles, and it’s “not the same game.”

    Over the past several seasons, the NFL and college football have increased penalties and enforcement for illegal hits to the head and for hitting defenceless players. A July report on 202 former football players found evidence of a debilitating brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of them. The league has agreed to pay $1 billion to retired players who claimed it misled them about the concussion dangers of playing football.

    During his campaign, Trump often expressed nostalgia for the “old days” — claiming, for example, that protesters at his rallies would have been carried out on stretchers back then. He recently suggested police officers should be rougher with criminals and shouldn’t protect their heads when pushing them into squad cars.

    It’s also not the first time he’s raised the kneeling issue. Earlier this year he took credit for the fact that Kaepernick hadn’t been signed.

    Television ratings for the NFL have been slipping since the beginning of the 2016 season. The league and observers have blamed a combination of factors, including competing coverage of last year’s presidential election, more viewers dropping cable television, fans’ discomfort with the reports of head trauma and the anthem protests.

    Ratings have been down even more in the early 2017 season, though broadcasters and the league have blamed the hurricanes that hit Florida and Texas. Still, the NFL remains by far the most popular televised sport in the United States.

    Trump said the anthem protest was the top reason NFL viewership had waned.

    “You know what’s hurting the game?” he asked. “When people like yourselves turn on television and you see those people taking the knee when they’re playing our great national anthem,” he said.

    Trump encouraged his supporters to pick up and leave the stadium next time they spot a player failing to stand.

    “I guarantee things will stop,” he said.


    ‘We will never back down’: NFL commissioner, players’ union denounce Trump‘We will never back down’: NFL commissioner, players’ union denounce Trump

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    SOMERSET, N. J.—U. S. President Donald Trump says if a basketball player doesn’t want to visit the White House to celebrate an NBA title, then don’t bother showing up.

    Trump responded Saturday on Twitter to Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry, who has made clear he’s not interested in a traditional White House trip. Curry told reporters Friday: “I don’t want to go . . . my beliefs stay the same.”

    Trump weighed in Saturday from his golf club Bedminster, New Jersey. He said: “Going to the White House is considered a great honour for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!”

    It was not immediately clear whether Trump was rescinding the invitation for Curry or the entire team.

    The tweet about Curry and the Warriors came one day after Trump told a rally in Alabama that NFL owners should fire players who kneel during the national anthem. Several NFL players, starting with quarterback Colin Kaepernick, refused to stand during The Star-Spangled Banner to protest police treatment of blacks and social injustice.

    “That’s a total disrespect of our heritage. That’s a total disrespect of everything that we stand for,” Trump said, encouraging owners to act.

    “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired,” Trump said to loud applause.

    Warriors general manager Bob Myers said Friday the team has had discussions with the White House, and that Golden State owner Joe Lacob also would be involved in the decision on whether to go. The Warriors did not immediately respond to a request for reaction to Trump’s tweet early Saturday. They were scheduled for an afternoon media availability following their first practice.

    Curry said Friday a decision to not visit the White House would only be a first step.

    “By acting and not going, hopefully that will inspire some change when it comes to what we tolerate in this country and what is accepted and what we turn a blind eye to,” Curry said. “It’s not just the act of not going. There are things you have to do on the back end to actually push that message into motion.”

    Read more: Kevin Durant won’t visit White House if Warriors are invited: ‘I don’t respect who’s in office right now’

    NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told The Players’ Tribune in July he believes teams should visit the White House when invited, though also said he would not order anyone to make such a trip.

    “I think that these institutions are bigger than any individual politician, any individual elected official,” Silver said then. “And it concerns me that something like going to the White House after winning a championship, something that has been a great tradition, would become one that is partisan. I will say, though, even though I think that teams should make decisions as organizations, that I would also respect an individual player’s decision not to go.”

    Trump has met with some teams already in his first year in office.

    Clemson visited the White House this year after winning the College Football Playoff, some members of the New England Patriots went after the Super Bowl victory and the Chicago Cubs went to the Oval Office in June to commemorate their World Series title. The Cubs also had the larger-scale, more traditional visit with President Barack Obama in January, four days before the Trump inauguration.

    And if the Warriors don’t want to meet with Trump, they may still get a welcome in Washington: House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California has said she would like to bring the team to the Capitol.


    Trump rescinds Stephen Curry’s invitation to visit White HouseTrump rescinds Stephen Curry’s invitation to visit White House

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    WASHINGTON—U.S. President Donald Trump went to Alabama on Friday to deliver a speech in support of his chosen candidate, Luther Strange, in the Republican primary for the state’s open Senate seat.

    He made false claims about Strange. He made false claims about the crowd. He made false claims about Alabama itself. All in all, it was a vintage Trump rally performance: 16 false claims in all.

    On Monday, we’ll do a full update tallying up all of his false claims from the last week. 604.Counting the rally alone, though, the president has now made 604 false claims over 246 days in office — an average of 2.5 false claims per day.

    Trump has proven uniquely willing to lie, exaggerate and mislead. By all expert accounts, he is more frequently inaccurate than any of his predecessors.

    Read more:

    How Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale fact-checks Trump

    We are keeping track. Below is a list of every false claim Trump has made since his inauguration on Jan. 20.

    Why call them false claims, not lies? We can’t be sure that each and every one was intentional; in some cases, he may have been confused or ignorant. What we know, objectively, is that he was not telling the truth.

    Last updated: Sept. 23, 2017


    Donald Trump makes 16 false claims at Alabama rallyDonald Trump makes 16 false claims at Alabama rally

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    Walk south on High Park Ave. in the Junction from Dundas St. toward Bloor St. and you’ll see detached houses rubbing shoulders with humbler semis and walk-up apartments.

    “You’ve got it all right there,” says Toronto urban planner Sean Galbraith.

    High Park Ave. is a model street, he says, when it comes to one of the hottest topics in the Toronto region’s pervasive housing conversation. It’s a rare example of “the missing middle,” a planning term for homes that fall between a single detached house and a mid-rise apartment building. It includes semis, laneway homes, secondary suites and townhouses. In some settings, small apartment buildings are also considered part of the missing middle.

    It’s the kind of housing that a growing number of politicians, planners and urbanists say we need to build if we’re going to encourage gentle densities and make the region’s prized neighbourhoods vital and accessible to young families.

    It’s not that this type of housing doesn’t exist. It’s just too scarce for the growing number of young families who can’t afford a detached house but want to live close to transit, shops and schools.

    Zoning rules have shut missing middle homes out of large swathes of the city. There are about 20,000 hectares where it’s virtually impossible to build anything except single-family detached houses, said Galbraith. (Toronto covers just over 64,000 hectares.)

    The average Toronto household is 2.4 people.

    "If you added a single duplex per hectare, you've made room for like 48,000 extra people and not changed neighbourhood character one bit," he says.

    "Make it a triplex and that goes up to 72,000 extra people. If you're outside of the former city of Toronto and you see a lot that has a single house on it, odds are very, very, very good that the underlying zoning says that's basically all you're allowed to put on it," said Galbraith.

    “I can’t remember the last time somebody built a small walk-up apartment like a four-plex, something like you see in Parkdale or the old Annex,” he said.

    Galbraith blames the city’s official plan for freezing neighbourhoods to protect against the block-busting of the 1960s. That’s when developers bought up homes, tore them down and built apartment towers in the middle of established areas.

    Now, he said, “You can knock a bungalow down and build a two- or three-storey house as long as there’s only one unit in it. Doesn’t matter if it’s the scale of the neighbours or not, which makes no sense to me.”

    It's not that time has stood still in Toronto. City council has adopted a report setting standards for laneway suites. City planners have been focused on avenues such as Eglinton, making them more transit-oriented, walkable and bike friendly. Missing-middle advocates admit the city can't do everything at once.

    But they also recognize it is difficult for politicians to persuade home-owning constituents that gently increasing the density of their neighbourhoods with missing middle housing won't erode their property values.

    The 905 communities surrounding Toronto are often seen as an affordable alternative to families who can’t afford to buy in the city. But like many global cities, even Toronto’s commuter communities are becoming prohibitively expensive.

    A stacked townhome in Brampton might go for $300,000 or $400,000. It sounds like a lot, but in today’s housing market that’s relatively affordable, said Michael Collins-Williams, director of policy at the Ontario Home Builders Association.

    Space and distance are two inevitable compromises of the region’s rising property values. “Even with this missing middle, they’ll have to accept less space,” he said.

    It helps that there’s a spreading ethos embracing the idea that smaller is better and rejecting the accumulation of stuff, said Collins-Williams.

    “Housing is much more expensive now in terms of the multipliers of average income. If you want the space, you’re going to have to compromise on location and live far, far away from the city to afford the traditional subdivision,” he said. “If you’re willing to compromise on space, you may be able to get a better location. You could ride transit instead of having a car.”

    To meet provincial growth targets, Mississauga has been building its own vibrant skyscraping downtown. But without more stacked and back-to-back townhomes and small apartment buildings, Mayor Bonnie Crombie fears her city will be missing another middle — the middle-class families with annual incomes between $50,000 and $100,000, for whom Mississauga has traditionally been a destination.

    So the city has developed a missing middle strategy with zoning and tax provisions to encourage the development of affordable — not just subsidized — housing.

    “Many middle-income households in Mississauga are struggling to enter the housing and rental market due to rising prices. One in three households are spending more than 30 per cent of their gross household income on housing, which is considered unaffordable,” Crombie told a Peel Region housing summit this year.

    But a lack of data may be undermining the suspected urgency behind the need for more missing middle homes, said Cherise Burda, executive director of the Ryerson City Building Institute.

    “We have over 100,000 multi-unit homes coming down the pipe over the next five years. The question is, are we building the right type of housing?

    “We’re building a lot of studios and one-bedrooms in high rises but is that for families or is it a lot of building for investment?” she said.

    If we aren’t building for families, there’s nowhere for millennials to go once they leave their small condos except farther away from their jobs, transit and existing infrastructure. It adds to congestion and puts more pressure on the limited supply of family-friendly housing in urban centres.

    “When you talk about affordability, it’s the housing that’s in our more location-efficient neighbourhoods that is holding more value. If we don’t build more of that appropriate housing, we’ll gut out the city and young families will have to live away,” said Burda.

    The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation measures the number of condos built, but it doesn’t break down their size or whether they are high-rise apartments or stacked townhouses.

    The province sets growth targets, but the ministry of housing told the Toronto Star that it’s up to municipalities to forecast their own needs and track the kind of housing built there.

    But a senior researcher with the Centre for Urban Research and Land Development at Ryerson University says the Toronto area is behind other Canadian cities in building the missing middle.

    “Twenty per cent of (housing) completions in 2016 were in the missing middle in the GTA, compared to 30 per cent in both Calgary and Vancouver and 43 per cent in Montreal,” wrote Diana Petramala in a recent blog post.

    Other cities, including San Francisco and New York, are also promoting the missing middle, says urban policy consultant Brian Kelcey.

    “The difference in Toronto is, there is a real sense from people who work on smaller developments that the city and city planners and prominent urbanists are talking a lot about this but they’re not actually doing anything,” he said.

    Kelcey points to North Vancouver, where residential, detached housing lots have been re-zoned to allow for the building of up to three units.

    “There is no such thing as a one-home lot in North Vancouver,” he said.

    But missing-middle housing isn’t an overnight solution to the Toronto region’s sprawl and affordability challenges. It’s part of an evolution, not a radical makeover, stressed Galbraith.

    “This is a 20-year idea, not a two-year idea. It would allow neighbourhoods to evolve and reflect basic demographic changes. We don’t have as many kids as we used to, so why do we need a five-bedroom house with one person living in it when that person could replace it with a duplex? They still live there, sell the other half or rent it out,” he said.

    “I can’t think of any real valid reason we wouldn’t want to do this from a public perspective.”

    Stacking the deck

    When the Hampshire Mews townhomes hit the market in Richmond Hill about four years ago, the buyers weren’t exactly lined up at the developer’s door.

    “It took a little while for people to get their heads around the product type,” said Bob Finnigan, chief operating officer of Herity Homes, which owned the two-acre site near Yonge St. and Elgin Mills Rd.

    It was the conventional townhouses in the complex, with a garage in the front and a patio at the back, that sold first. The stacked towns — 42 of the 60 units — were a newer commodity. They had less outdoor space and the garage was at the rear.

    Hampshire Mews was among the first stacked town developments in Richmond Hill and the first for Herity’s Heathwood Homes division.

    But in the two years since the Mews was built, that format has been increasingly recognized as an important solution in creating the population densities the province demands through its recently updated anti-sprawl growth plan.

    Priced and built to provide an option between high-rise and single-family detached houses, stacked and back-to-back towns are more familiar to buyers now, said Finnigan, a past president of the Canadian Home Builders Association.

    “This would sell faster (today) because people understand what’s available. If they go from a 600-square-foot or 700-square-foot apartment to ground level (homes), this helps them make that transition,” he said.

    At Hampshire Mews, there are three homes in a series of 30-foot-wide modules. Two two-level units of about 1,400 square feet occupy the upper levels. A third entry leads to a bungalow “flat” of about 1,100 square feet.

    Occupants have to climb a short set of stairs from their garage to the lower bungalow unit and an additional staircase to the upper units. Recently, builders have begun making stacked home modules wider and shallower to eliminate at least one set of stairs, said Finnigan.

    Each unit has parking for two cars — one in the driveway and one in the garage — and York Region’s new bus rapid transit system is a short walk away on Yonge St.

    The bigger homes have a tiny square of green at the front. The flats have balconies. Two landscaped parkettes with benches in the middle act as communal gardens. They didn’t install playground equipment because it seldom gets used, said Finnigan.

    It’s a myth that builders only want to construct single-family detached homes, he said. The profit on stacked towns is about the same because you can put more homes on the same piece of land — about twice as many as conventional towns.

    But the stacked homes are more difficult to build and design because of the horizontal and vertical separations between the units. Heat flows up, not down. The heating systems have been built into closets in the upper units and off the garage in the lower ones.

    Strict municipal planning rules in the Toronto region dictate road widths and other external design elements allowing for fire, ambulance and garbage truck access, meaning the actual bricks and mortar of the homes cover about 45 to 50 per cent of the site.

    But in California, some builders are finding ways to make 85 per cent of a site available for housing itself. One California development has built park-like trails through its complexes. Another has devised narrow side patios in place of rear and front yards.


    Why High Park Ave. may be Toronto’s ideal streetWhy High Park Ave. may be Toronto’s ideal street

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    Several hundred eager well-wishers waited patiently behind a barricade in unseasonably blazing sunshine on Saturday as Prince Harry toured one of Canada’s leading mental-health facilities across the road.

    The prince did not disappoint, crossing the road after his tour to talk to children, meet a pup and shake hands with members of a crowd that whooped when they glimpsed him and called his name repeatedly.

    “Oh my goodness, I’m so happy, he shook my hand,” said a dazzled Robinowe Bukirwa, who wondered if she was dreaming even as the prince faded into the distance. “I don’t think I’m going to wash my hand today. I’m so very excited.”

    The prince’s day began with a tour and meetings at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, where he participated in two round tables — one with nine senior staff members focused on research, the other on dealing with youth coping with mental illness.

    Describing the complex issue as one requiring a “massive team effort,” Harry listened attentively to staff discuss their work, and anecdotes from patients who sought treatment for mental health and addiction struggles at the facility in downtown Toronto.

    At times gesticulating as he made a point or stroking his chin as he listened intently, the prince stressed the importance of mental health research and treatment — a topic he has championed. There is no “silver bullet” when it comes to dealing with the problem, he said.

    “You need options,” he said.

    One person in attendance told Harry she still cherished a visit decades before from his mother, the late Princess Diana. The prince also met privately with teenage in-patients of the mental health facility.

    Outside the centre, Prince Harry stopped briefly to chit-chat as people thrust out hands across the barrier, thanking them repeatedly for coming out.

    Sara Gashi said meeting the royal family member was much better than she had anticipated.

    “I honestly can’t remember,” Gashi said when asked what Harry told her. “He was very nice. He was very pleasant and smiling.”

    Dressed in a blue blazer and grey slacks, the royal set off for a series of further events, including meetings with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Gov.-Gen. David Johnston before attending the Invictus Games opening ceremonies.

    The Invictus Games, with 550 competitors from 17 countries participating in 12 sports, was scheduled to kick off formally Saturday evening at a downtown Toronto arena with a star-studded show featuring performances by Sarah McLachlan, Alessia Cara and the Tenors along with a “parade of nations.”

    Saturday’s events followed a similar day Friday in which the prince attended a symposium on veterans’ issues and met and chatted with Games participants.

    “We’re using the Games to get out of dark holes and back into life — and without Harry, we wouldn’t be here having fun and enjoying the camaraderie, which is what you miss from the army days,” Charlie Walker, a coach of the United Kingdom’s sitting volleyball team, said Friday.

    The first Invictus Games, aimed at helping the war wounded with their recovery, were held in London in 2014. The Toronto Games run until Sept. 30.


    Prince Harry tours CAMH, greets crowds in lead-up to Invictus GamesPrince Harry tours CAMH, greets crowds in lead-up to Invictus GamesPrince Harry tours CAMH, greets crowds in lead-up to Invictus GamesPrince Harry tours CAMH, greets crowds in lead-up to Invictus Games

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    A TTC board member is warning that the city is at risk of “cheaping out” on a key waterfront transit connection, as it mulls proposals to scrap streetcar service to Union Station in favour of less costly alternatives.

    At a public meeting about waterfront transit plans on Monday night, the city unveiled a set of three options to overhaul the tunnel that links the station and Queens Quay.

    Streetcars running on the western waterfront currently operate in the 530-metre tunnel and terminate at Union. But with a new East Bayfront streetcar line planned, the existing underground infrastructure can’t handle the extra service.

    The three options being proposed to link Union and Queens Quay are: expanding the tunnel to accommodate the additional streetcars; replacing the streetcar tracks with a below-ground pedestrian walkway; or, in what would be a first of its kind project in Toronto, installing an underground cable car.

    Read more: If it’s worth spending billions to build a subway in Scarborough it’s worth properly linking the waterfront to Union: Keenan

    Expanding the tunnel and preserving the streetcar service would be the most expensive option — previous estimates indicate it would cost at least $270 million. It’s also the only one that would provide seamless transit access between the waterfront and Union. Under the other two proposals, streetcars would operate east and west along Queens Quay but not travel north to the station.

    Councillor Joe Mihevc, who sits on the TTC board, argued the city would be foolish not to maintain the streetcar link. He said it’s the only option that improves transit, while the other two are aimed at keeping costs low.

    “This is not a project that we should frankly cheap out on,” he said, describing the other proposals as “second-rate.”

    The high cost of expanding the tunnel is driven by the complex underground work it would require, including expanding the streetcar loop beneath Union Station to accommodate additional boarding platforms, and the creation of a second tunnel entrance on Queens Quay east of Yonge St.

    “It is a lot of money but . . . it is worth every penny, considering what we’re building south of Front St.,” said Mihevc. “The congestion in that area will be unrelenting.”

    The number of residents and jobs on Toronto’s waterfront is expected to grow by about 470,000 over the next 25 years. Planners predict that by 2041, there will be 10,000 people headed south from Union Station in the morning rush hour.

    Nigel Tahair, a program manager for transportation planning at the city, said all three proposals meet the waterfront study’s threshold of accommodating at least 7,000 people per hour.

    But he acknowledged that “the experience of using these three different systems will obviously be quite different.”

    Under the pedestrian walkway option, it would take the average person at least six minutes to walk from Union to Queens Quay through the tunnel. A moving sidewalk of the type commonly seen in airports would speed up the trip, but there is only space in the eight-metre-wide tunnel for one of the devices.

    That means the moving sidewalk would operate in one direction in the morning and then in the opposite direction in the afternoon. People not travelling the peak direction would be stuck in the slow lane, on a regular walkway beside the moving sidewalk.

    Tahair said a moving sidewalk that only travels in one direction is “obviously a shortcoming,” but the proposal does have the potential to offer connections to the PATH network at midpoints between Union and Queens Quay.

    “We need transit service, but we also need really good, high-quality pedestrian links in the network. They’re complementary,” he said.

    The underground funicular, the most unorthodox of the proposals, would operate on a cable-pulled system within the existing streetcar tunnel. The driverless cars would travel at 36 km/h, operate at one-minute intervals and have a peak capacity of 8,250 people in each direction per hour.

    Tahair said the main drawback would be that people trying to switch between train service at Union and the streetcar line on Queens Quay would have to make two transfers.

    “People generally don’t like transfers, so that’s a negative experience,” he said.

    The city planning department, Waterfront Toronto, and the TTC are working together on the waterfront transit study. According to Mihevc, there “is a vigorous debate” among them on which option is best.

    TTC spokesperson Brad Ross declined to comment on which one the transit agency favours, saying it will wait until city staff release their final recommendations.

    A spokesperson for Mayor John Tory also said it was too early to weigh in.

    A report detailing all three options is expected to go before Tory’s executive committee in October. Tahair said he hoped the city, Waterfront Toronto and the TTC will select a preferred option within months.


    Proposals to link Queens Quay and Union Station include a moving sidewalk, a cable car or more streetcarsProposals to link Queens Quay and Union Station include a moving sidewalk, a cable car or more streetcars

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    The Toronto waterfront is going to grow, grow, grow in the next decade or two. Two hundred and eighty thousand new residents and 190,000 new jobs in the Port Lands, the western Don Valley, the South Core, the area around Habourfront, the mouth of the Humber. This, on top of the tens of thousands of new residences and offices built south of Front St. in the past 20 years. All that growth is the reason the city is planning to build a new, expanded waterfront LRT line across the bottom of the city, at a cost expected to be measured in the billions of dollars.

    So why did the preliminary plans for that new transit line suggest, as a possibility, that it would connect with the subway line at Union by a pedestrian tunnel between Queens Quay and Front St.? Why is anyone thinking it’s a good idea to suggest people commuting should get off one vehicle and walk more than half a kilometre before getting on another vehicle to continue their trip? It’s silly.

    Expanding the existing streetcar tunnel between Queens Quay and Union to serve more vehicles would be expensive? Well, you don’t say.

    Read more: Proposals to link Queens Quay and Union Station include a moving sidewalk, a cable car or more streetcars

    This is a city that has repeatedly, emphatically affirmed that it thinks it is worth spending $1.5 billion or more to ensure people in Scarborough do not have to get off an LRT and get onto a subway. That rejected transfer between vehicles — in plans, a one-flight-of-stairs affair like the ones at St. George and Bloor, a 30-second inconvenience — was thought to be so onerous it was worth spending virtually anything to avoid.

    But presumably the people who live and work on the Waterfront are expected to have greater reservoirs of energy and patience such that not only would they change vehicles, but would walk 600 metres — a lap and a half of an Olympic track — in between. Maybe someone at city hall thinks they’re all exercise buffs who welcome the workout. And the added 10 minutes to their trip time.

    This is a city which recently decided that it was worth spending more than $1 billion to rebuild the eastern Gardiner Expressway so that 5,200 peak-hour, peak direction vehicles would not experience a two to three minute delay. But someone who lives in a new apartment overlooking that newly rebuilt road will be expected take an LRT to Bay St., then walk for six minutes or more, before getting on a subway.

    Or maybe just change vehicles twice instead!

    A third option, besides the pedestrian tunnel and rebuilding the rail link to Union, is an “underground funicular” cable-car system. People would get off the subway, get on a little cable car for one stop, then get off that cable car and get onto an LRT at Queens Quay to continue their journey.

    What’s the problem with that? “People generally don’t like transfers, so that’s a negative experience,” Nigel Tahair of the city’s transportation department told my colleague Ben Spurr. Uh huh.

    In fact, transit planners have a name for the effect of this “negative experience.” It’s called a “transfer penalty.” Basically, the more often a person has to transfer vehicles, and the more difficult those transfers are, the less likely a person is to take transit.

    The TTC actually has weights it applies to different kinds of transfers based on how they are perceived by customers to estimate the penalty.

    People like riding a vehicle, so that’s the baseline. People don’t like waiting for a vehicle. So the TTC estimates that time waiting for a vehicle to arrive has a weight of 1.5 — in a customer’s mind, a minute spent waiting at the stop is equivalent to one and a half minutes sitting on a train.

    Now, walking has a weight, in this calculation, of 2.0. A six-minute walk to change vehicles, as the pedestrian tunnel plan calls for, is considered equivalent to adding 12 minutes to the trip.

    And each transfer? That has a weight of 10. Changing vehicles once is thought to be as inconvenient as 10 minutes of riding time.

    So, a six minute walk plus a transfer is equivalent, in a riders mind, to a 22-minute delay on their trip. And an additional transfer onto and off of a cable car? That’s another 10 minutes.

    Is that all a bit convoluted to follow? Well, the simple upshot is that if you make people walk a long way, they will not like it. And if you make people change vehicles more often, they will not like that either. And people who do not like their transit experience will tend to drive, instead, if they have the option.

    It is said it might cost $270 million to connect the new LRT line properly to Union Station. I don’t know why it would cost that much to expand the existing tunnel a bit to accommodate more traffic. But I don’t understand anything about why building transit costs so much (and so much more than it used to). A subway station now costs $200 million or more to build. A single stop extension of the subway in Scarborough is going to cost at least $3.5 billion.

    I don’t understand it — I can barely fathom the numbers — but by now I know very well, as most Torontonians do. Transit is expensive. But if we’re going to spend billions on new lines, the least we can do is make sure we do it right. You build a transit line — especially if you’re building a tunnel — to last generations.

    The waterfront LRT will serve generations of people, hundreds of thousands of them, who will live and work in growing parts of the city. Whether those people can easily get around on transit will depend in part on the one-time, permanent decisions we make now.

    As Councillor Joe Mihevc said, this is not the time to “cheap out.” You build the thing right, connect it to the subway line, and avoid having a generation of people living and working on the water, sitting in their cars and wondering why we wasted all that money on an LRT line that goes right past them without conveniently connecting them to the city.

    Edward Keenan writes on city issues ekeenan@thestar.ca. Follow: @thekeenanwire


    If it’s worth spending billions to build a subway in Scarborough it’s worth properly linking the waterfront to Union: KeenanIf it’s worth spending billions to build a subway in Scarborough it’s worth properly linking the waterfront to Union: Keenan

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    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was one of the scores of people paying tribute at the funeral for Liberal MP Arnold Chan on Saturday morning in Toronto.

    Chan, the member of parliament for Scarborough-Agincourt, died of cancer this month at age 50.

    Trudeau was one of several speakers at the ceremony, along with Chan’s wife, Jean Yip, their three sons as well as childhood friends.

    Former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty read from the Bible, and many of Chan’s colleagues were honorary pallbearers, including Conservative MP Erin O’Toole and Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen.

    Chan was remembered as principled and optimistic, a devoted family man and a talented musician, and an MP completely engrossed with the political process.

    Read more:

    In posthumous speech read by fellow MP, Arnold Chan urges good will and courage

    In an emotional tribute, Trudeau described Chan as passionate and convicted, calling him “one of the most honourable members of that House of Commons.”

    He said the last time he saw Chan, they sang Elton John’s “Your Song” together, with Chan on piano.

    “You all know that I don’t sing often, and there’s a reason for that,” Trudeau said. “But Arnold had me belting out the words while he played beautifully.

    “Arnold, your song will forever be ours.”

    Trudeau also quoted Maya Angelou: “Your legacy is every life you’ve touched.”

    “I look around this room, I look back at the days that followed the tragic news of our friend’s passing, and I see Arnold’s lasting legacy,” he said. “A legacy that goes far beyond the bills he authored or the votes he won. Far beyond the victories he celebrated and the losses he bore.”

    Chan grew up in Toronto. He earned masters degrees in political science and urban planning, and also has a law degree. He was named the Liberal Party’s deputy House leader after they took power in the 2015 federal election.

    In June he gave an impassioned speech to his fellow MPs, urging them to reject acrimonious debate and what he called “canned talking points” in favour of civility. At the time, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale called the speech “truly extraordinary.”

    Chan was diagnosed with nasopharyngeal carcinoma shortly after he won the Scarborough-Agincourt seat in a 2014 byelection. He began a difficult treatment regime of radiation and chemotherapy, but revealed in March 2016 the cancer had returned.

    His funeral was jointly officiated by Toronto MP Rob Oliphant, an ordained minister, as well as Rev. Sarah Chapman. Other politicians in attendance were Toronto Mayor John Tory and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.


    Trudeau pays tribute at funeral for Liberal MP Arnold ChanTrudeau pays tribute at funeral for Liberal MP Arnold Chan

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    WASHINGTON—Pyongyang’s top envoy told the UN General Assembly on Saturday that a strike against the U.S. mainland was “inevitable.”

    The reason wasn’t that U.S. B-1 bombers, escorted by fighter jets, were flying over international waters near North Korea at the time, but that the U.S. president had mocked the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un with the belittling name “little Rocket Man.”

    In a show of U.S. military might to North Korea, Washington sent bombers and fighter escorts beyond the Demilitarized Zone on Saturday, to the farthest point north by any such U.S. aircraft this century. The Pentagon said the mission showed how seriously President Donald Trump takes North Korea’s “reckless behaviour.”

    “This mission is a demonstration of U.S. resolve and a clear message that the president has many military options to defeat any threat,” a Defence Department spokesman, Dana White, said in a statement.

    “North Korea’s weapons program is a grave threat to the Asia-Pacific region and the entire international community. We are prepared to use the full range of military capabilities to defend the U.S. homeland and our allies,” White said.

    At the United Nations, Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said his country’s nuclear force is “to all intents and purposes, a war deterrent for putting an end to nuclear threat of the U.S. and for preventing its military invasion, and our ultimate goal is to establish the balance of power with the U.S.”

    He also said Trump’s depiction of Kim as “Rocket Man” makes “our rocket’s visit to the entire U.S. mainland inevitable all the more.”

    Ri called the U.S. president “a mentally deranged person full of megalomania and complacency” with his finger on the “nuclear button.” And he said Trump’s “reckless and violent words” had provoked “the supreme dignity” of North Korea.

    Ri said that during his eight months in power, Trump had turned the White House “into a noisy marketing place” and now he has tried to turn the United Nations “into a gangsters’ nest where money is respected and bloodshed is the order of the day.”

    Kim has said Trump would “pay dearly” for threatening to “totally destroy” North Korea if the U.S. was forced to defend itself or its allies against a North Korean attack. Ri told reporters this past week that the North’s response to Trump “could be the most powerful detonation of an H-bomb in the Pacific.”

    Read more:

    Kim Jong Un threatens hydrogen bomb test after Trump calls for total destruction of North Korea

    Trump’s threat like the sound of dog barking, says North Korean foreign minister

    North Korea has said it intends to build a missile capable of striking all parts of the United States with a nuclear bomb. Trump has said he won’t allow it, although the U.S. so far has not used military force to impede the North’s progress.

    B-1 bombers are no longer part of the U.S. nuclear force, but they are capable of dropping large numbers of conventional bombs.

    U.S. Pacific Command would not be more specific about how many years it had been since U.S. bombers and fighters had flown that far north of the DMZ, but a spokesperson, navy Cmdr. Dave Benham, noted that this century “encompasses the period North Korea has been testing ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons.”

    Trump on Friday had renewed his rhetorical offensive against Kim.

    “Kim Jong Un of North Korea, who is obviously a madman who doesn’t mind starving or killing his people, will be tested like never before!” the president tweeted.

    On Thursday, Trump announced more economic sanctions against the impoverished and isolated country, targeting foreign companies that deal with the North.

    “North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile development is a grave threat to peace and security in our world and it is unacceptable that others financially support this criminal, rogue regime,” Trump said as he joined Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in for a meeting in New York.

    Hours later, Kim responded by saying Trump was “deranged.”

    In a speech last week at the United Nations, Trump had issued the warning of potential obliteration and mocked the North’s young autocrat as a “Rocket Man” on a “suicide mission.”

    Trump’s executive order expanded the Treasury Department’s ability to target anyone conducting significant trade in goods, services or technology with North Korea, and to ban them from interacting with the U.S. financial system.

    Trump also said China was imposing major banking sanctions, too, but there was no immediate confirmation from the North’s most important trading partner.

    If enforced, the Chinese action Trump described could severely impede the isolated North’s ability to raise money for its missile and nuclear development. China, responsible for about 90 per cent of North Korea’s trade, serves as the country’s conduit to the international banking system.


    U.S. flies bomber, fighter mission off North Korean coastU.S. flies bomber, fighter mission off North Korean coast

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    Hundreds gathered at a funeral home in Scarborough on Saturday to remember Anthony (Fif) Soares, the 33-year-old man gunned down in a midnight ambush this month.

    Surveillance video captured in the building entrance at Kennedy Rd. and Glamorgan Ave. on Sept. 14 show the last moments of Soares’ life, in which two hooded men showered him with bullets while he waited to be buzzed into the building.

    On Saturday, mourners wept and hugged each other as they entered Ogden Funeral Home to remember a father, partner, son and brother.

    Among them was Toronto rapper and Soares’ close friend Drake — born Aubrey Graham — who was one of six pallbearers. The star, who referred to Soares in an Instagram post the day he died as “our brother,” remained dry-eyed and stoic as he carried the casket into the chapel.

    Before the service began, about 20 family members, one holding Soares’ crying infant daughter, gathered around his casket in prayer. Afterward, Soares’ mother, Olive, led the group in a hymn, her voice wavering as she sang “To God be the glory,” with her hands stretched toward the gatherers. Many wept, while others joined her in the hymn.

    Photo collages marked the entrance to the chapel, with most pictures showing Soares looking stony-faced and serious. The exceptions were photos of Soares with his daughter, which showed him with softened eyes and a slight, childlike smile.

    The images square with stories told by family members and Soares’ partner, Danielle, his daughter’s mother, explaining how his strong outward demeanour contrasted with his “loving” nature toward those he was closest to.

    Soares’ sister spoke to his character, saying he was someone who cared deeply about being a role model to his four sisters and two brothers.

    “He didn’t always make the right decisions, but he always owned up to the consequences,” she said of her brother, who had been convicted of gun possession three times.

    Danielle, wearing sunglasses, recounted how Soares was there to support her for each appointment she went to throughout her pregnancy.

    “I loved him so much, he gave me life,” she said, crying throughout her statements.

    Other speakers drew attention to Soares’ track and field abilities, his love of drawing, and how he took care of his mother by performing tasks such as checking her blood pressure.

    The violent circumstances of Soares’ death did not go unmentioned. Rev. Bryan Swash acknowledged the anger that many in the room felt at the manner in which their loved one died.

    Read more:Police release security footage of shooting of Anthony Soares, Drake’s friend

    Swash encouraged the crowd to allow themselves to feel grief so they could be inspired by Soares’ virtues and tell his story.

    That’s something Soares’ most well-known friend promised to do the day he died. “It was a honour to have shared years together and I will always keep your memory alive,” a portion of Drake’s Instagram post about Soares reads.

    After Soares’ death, Toronto police and Mayor John Tory called on Drake to be more vocal in denouncing gun violence, and calling on citizens to help in the investigation.


    Hundreds gather for funeral of Drake friend who was gunned down in Scarborough this monthHundreds gather for funeral of Drake friend who was gunned down in Scarborough this month

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    MONTREAL—More than 150 people gathered in front of Montreal’s Spanish consulate Saturday to express their solidarity with the Catalan independence movement.

    Organizers also denounced what they describe as the Canadian government’s timid response to the intensifying Spanish crackdown ahead of a planned referendum on Oct. 1.

    The Spanish government has increased its suppression of the independence vote with the arrests of a dozen regional officials Wednesday and the seizure of 10 million ballot papers.

    Regional government officials, including Catalonia’s president, so far have vowed to ignore a constitutional court order to suspend the referendum on Catalan independence from Spain.

    The rally in Montreal was organized by a Quebec sovereigntist group and was attended by several separatist politicians, including the leaders of the Bloc Québécois and the Parti Québécois.

    Others in the crowd said they weren’t Quebec separatists, but were present because they believe the Catalan government has the right to consult its population.

    Read more:

    Students occupy Barcelona university in support of Catalan secession

    Parti Québécois wants Quebec government to denounce Spanish crackdown on Catalonia

    Parti Québécois Leader Jean-François Lisée said he couldn’t explain why the Quebec and Canadian governments have refused to denounce the Spanish government’s actions.

    “When democratic rights are suppressed, whether it’s in South Africa, Ukraine, Russia, China, we’re there,” he said at the rally.

    “We don’t understand why (Quebec Premier) Philippe Couillard and (Prime Minister) Justin Trudeau are there for South Africa, for China, for Ukraine, but they aren’t there for the Catalans.”

    Couillard said this week that he’s “very preoccupied” by the situation, but did not go further in condemning Madrid.

    Trudeau, when questioned, has stressed the importance of the right to self-determination and the rule of law, but has said he doesn’t want to intervene in what he described as an internal debate.

    Two Catalan-Quebecers who attended the rally said they hope the Canadian government will change its position and speak up.

    “We need other government to say something because internally, we can’t do anything,” Ferran Llacer said.

    He and his girlfriend, Laia Blanco, plan to travel to Spain next week to try to vote in the referendum.

    “We want to know how many of us want to be a different country,” Blanco said. “Just count us.”


    Montrealers rally in solidarity with Catalan independence movementMontrealers rally in solidarity with Catalan independence movement

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    Standing on the easternmost riverside city of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, in the shadow a Burmese horizon that’s still on fire, Zaid Al-Rawni watched small boats crossing the treacherous waters full of people. They’d go back empty and come back with more people.

    A regular and steady flow of dead bodies came alongside the boats, as Bangladeshi men and women wait on the other side to bury them.

    On the opposite bank, queues of people, as far as Al-Rawni could see, were waiting their turn to cross the river, dead or alive.

    “It was chaos, complete chaos,” he said. “When I got there (early last week) the numbers were in the (high) 200,000s. By the time I left, they were talking about 400,000 people who had crossed.”

    Al-Rawni is the CEO of Islamic Relief Canada, an aid organization that has been working in the area since May 2008 when cyclone Nargis caused the worst natural disaster in Burmese history. Islamic Relief and the Canadian chapter of the Islamic Circle of North America are the only Canadian aid agencies to have gained access to one of the world’s biggest refugee crisis.

    Together, they have distributed thousands of food packages, tens of thousands of donations from Canadians and started building shelter.

    Read More:

    10 photos from Bangladesh camps, 10 stories of Rohingya desperation

    Fires continue in Rohingya villages in Burma, Amnesty International says

    Rohingya Muslims being wiped off Burma’s map

    “The most dangerous thing for this community right now is hygiene,” Al-Rawni said. More than 420,000 people “just showed up overnight. Where are they defecating? Where are they washing their hands?”

    With heavy rains constantly pouring in Bangladesh, Al-Rawni is worried by “the real potential for an insane cholera outbreak, worse than Yemen, if we don’t move fast.”

    Shaukat Hussain, a member of ICNA Canada, agrees. Camps have had to be evacuated because of heavy rains, he said from Cox’s Bazaar. Landslides have made the temporary tents impossible to live in and forced people to sleep on open roads.

    “It’s a matter of humanity suffering and if organizations like the UN and powerful countries do not intervene soon, then, definitely, (the Rohingya) will be eliminated,” Hussain said.

    Typically, it takes six or seven weeks after a crisis to set up a fully functional refugee camp with the right volume of aid. Both Al-Rawni and Hussain estimate that hundreds of millions of dollars will be needed to set up a camp with facilities adequate for people of this scale.

    Normally this happens under one of the UN agencies, Al-Rawni said. “The UN doesn’t have the capacity to do the work, but they have the capacity to co-ordinate everyone.”

    Islamic Relief and ICNA, along with a handful of international aid agencies including the International Red Cross and Red Crescent, Save the Children and Oxfam, are waiting for the Bangladeshi government to decide where the Rohingya refugees will be staying, and to issue the paperwork that will allow these agencies to start work.

    For now, the Rohingya “have no life in Bangladesh,” Hussain said. “It’s just like they’re living in Burma. They do not have the fear of death, but they have fears of social and medical problems.”

    Al-Rawni has a list of 30 people — and growing — who are waiting for the green light to go to Cox’s Bazaar in southeastern Bangladesh near the border with Burma. Among them are mental-health counsellors, engineers and general do-gooders.

    Hussain said aid agencies need to focus on education and development to help the Rohingya survive into the next generation. He wants industrialists to look into the area to create jobs and donations to create schools.

    He is also worried for those still stuck in Burma, where aid agencies are still not permitted to enter.

    “We do not know yet what their condition is,” Hussain said. “In my last visit, in 2015, they were alive. They were living in bad conditions, but they were alive. Now we just don’t know.”

    Al-Rawni and Hussain said there is no official support from the Bangladeshi government at the moment. At present, local communities and private individuals from within the country have banded together to offer as much as they can.

    “Obviously, its one of the poorest countries and they don’t have the means to look after that many people for that long,” Al-Rawni said, “but they are doing a phenomenal job right now of being good neighbours.”


    Canadian aid workers describe chaos at Rohingya border campCanadian aid workers describe chaos at Rohingya border camp

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    OTTAWA—The head of Canada’s autoworkers union predicted NAFTA renegotiation talks would end in failure after U.S. negotiators arrived Saturday for Round 3 without setting out precise demands for how exactly the Trump administration wants to boost the made-in-America manufacturing sector.

    “I’m convinced that the U.S. doesn’t want a deal, not before Christmas,” said Unifor president Jerry Dias told the Star. “It is impossible … they’re too far apart” more than a month and a half after negotiators first sat down for in-depth discussions in Washington, he said.

    Steve Verheul, the chief Canadian negotiator, said it was too early to say whether significant progress overall could be made in the Ottawa round, a comment echoed by Mexico’s chief negotiator, Kenneth Smith Ramos. “We’re just starting,” Ramos told reporters. “I have no comments on the actual meetings.”

    Dias predicted the deal would come together in 2018, closer to the U.S. congressional mid-term elections in November. Meanwhile, he said, the Trump administration talks tough for show, to curry political popularity, but is unlikely to get Canada or, for that matter, Mexico to “capitulate.”

    Canada didn’t put higher labour standards (which would also affect Mexico as well as so-called “right-to-work” states that curb collective bargaining rights in the U.S.) on the table “just to fill time,” Dias said. And Mexico is determined not to change its rock-bottom labour and environmental standards, which underpin its low-wage non-unionized work force, he said, “so we are heading on a philosophical collision course.”

    Trade lawyer Lawrence Herman disagreed that the U.S. was deliberately stalling. “These are very complex issues,” he said, and the U.S. Trade Representatives office is obliged to consult with the U.S. Congress and its “complex constituencies” along the way.

    “The Americans have to show that they put, from their perspective, a serious proposition on the table on every issue, they can’t play games … I would think it’s more a question of sorting out the details of what they want to ask and ensuring they’ve lined up all the various constituencies in Washington.”

    Regardless, Herman, one of Canada’s top experts on international trade, also sounded a pessimistic note about the prospect for success, given the “egregious” comments by Donald Trump about NAFTA to date. “He’s basically saying we’re going to walk if you don’t agree to our position. The other two parties are saying, ‘OK, what’s your position?’”

    “At some point,” Herman said, “the Americans will put some extremely tough demands responding to an America-First agenda and that’s going to cause significant difficulty in completing these negotiations.”

    “I think these will become extremely nasty and difficult negotiations as things continue.

    Besides the lack of exact demands about the manufacturing sector, the U.S. team has also not presented specific demands regarding Canada’s supply-managed agricultural sectors — dairy and poultry — despite those also being high on the U.S. hit list for a new NAFTA, said Gary Stordy, a spokesperson for the Canadian Pork Council. Agriculture is on the agenda for detailed talks Tuesday and Wednesday.

    Read more:

    Environment minister confident Canada’s green goals can be met in new NAFTA

    Canada nervous about U.S. NAFTA proposal on auto content

    Getting a NAFTA deal by 2018 is within reach: Canadian officials

    Canadian government officials downplayed the significance of the lack of clarification from the U.S. side. They said with four more days remaining, there was time left for the U.S. to provide more specifics.

    Verheul told reporters Saturday he did not expect the American team to lay out specific text for new “rules of origin” for the auto sector during this round. And Verheul said he was “doubtful” the three-way negotiations will close or sign off on a final version for a chapter on the environment either, despite a U.S. official’s earlier suggestion that “significant progress” had been made and could be finalized in Ottawa.

    Those are two of the contentious issues on the agenda at the Ottawa round. A copy of the schedule of negotiations, obtained by the Star, shows a range of Canada’s top priorities will be dealt with this week, including digital trade, environment, labour and gender.

    But there is no negotiating table devoted to another Canadian objective: a chapter to recognize Indigenous rights within a new trade agreement.

    And two of the big U.S. priorities are up for detailed discussion only later in this round. Negotiators will do a deep dive on “rules of origin” and “trade remedies and dispute settlement” only on Tuesday and Wednesday.

    Rules of origin for the auto sector — NAFTA now requires 62.5 per cent of autos and auto parts to be made in North America for tariff-free status — “will be a subject for discussion, but we’re not expecting to see anything radically new at this point,” Verheul said.

    U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross wrote an opinion column Friday in the Washington Post saying the top priority was boosting American jobs in the auto sector.

    “The declining U.S. share of content in imports from Canada and Mexico puts those jobs at risk. The United States accounts for an overwhelming share of the total NAFTA auto market today — 83 percent, in fact — yet American workers are not reaping the benefits of that purchasing power,” Ross wrote.

    “If we don’t fix the rules of origin, negotiations on the rest of the agreement will fail to meaningfully shift the trade imbalance. Our nation’s ballooning trade deficit has gutted American manufacturing, killed jobs and sapped our wealth. That is going to change under President Trump, and rules of origin are just the beginning.”

    Flavio Volpe, of the Canadian Auto Parts Manufacturers Association, disagreed with Dias’s assessment, saying, “The longer they take the better we feel about it.” He said the U.S. Trade Representative’s office is working hard with American industry to understand the dynamics of tougher U.S. content rules, and Volpe said it will realize its own workers would suffer from them.

    Dias is not a fan of NAFTA and wouldn’t shed crocodile tears over its demise because he believes it has favoured Mexico to the detriment of Canadian and U.S. autoworkers. He suggests a Canada-U.S. free trade agreement would be the default backstop if NAFTA fails, and that would provide better protection for workers.

    Nevertheless, Unifor is a key stakeholder and Dias is in close consultation with the Canadian government as talks proceed.

    Dias said Canadians expected more as this round got underway.

    “From what I understand they (the U.S.) were supposed to drop the entire text this time around,” Dias said. “They haven’t dropped one piece of paper yet.”

    “They’ll want a deal, but not before Christmas, just leading up to the (congressional) elections, so they’re going to show they were tough, they cancelled NAFTA, they walked away, and that’s all completely loaded in the U.S.’s favour. So this thing is going nowhere and if I’m the Canadian government, I’d just relax, there’s no need bargaining with themselves.”

    For now, the negotiating teams are racing through talks on an accelerated schedule. Usually weeks or months can pass between rounds of international trade negotiations.

    In the case of NAFTA, there are just two or three weeks scheduled between meetings.

    Mexico’s lead negotiator, Ramos, said he expects successive NAFTA negotiation rounds to go ahead as scheduled despite devastating earthquakes that have hit Mexico City.

    “Unfortunately, it’s been a traumatic experience for the country, but we haven't had any impact in terms of the negotiations,” Ramos said. “Fortunately all of the negotiating teams and their families are okay and we’re working on that basis.”

    “We have our schedule from now till the end of the year and that will be maintained for now.”

    Ramos was part of Mexico’s negotiating team on the original NAFTA agreement.

    Emily Davis, a spokesperson for the U.S. Trade Representative’s office, said “significant progress” has already been made in the areas of the environment, small and medium-size enterprise and competition.

    “How many chapters will actually close is to be determined but there are areas where significant progress has been made and so that’s part of the goal of this round,” Davis said.

    Here are the topics at the negotiating table at Round 3 in Ottawa.

    Saturday: Customs, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, cross border trade in services, government procurement, digital trade, anti-corruption, environment, gender, and small and medium size enterprise, financial services

    Sunday: customs, textiles, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, cross border trade in services, government procurement, digital trade, environment, state-owned enterprises, financial services, good regulatory practices, legal and institutional issues

    Monday: textiles, goods, competition, telecoms, state owned enterprise, temporary entry rules, environment, good regulatory practices, technical barriers to trade, legal and institutional issues

    Tuesday: rules of origin, goods, agriculture, energy, investment, intellectual property, telecoms, temporary entry, labour, technical barriers to trade

    Wednesday: rules of origin, agriculture, investment, intellectual property, trade remedies and dispute settlement, labour, sectoral annexes


    U.S. fails to deliver demands for next round of NAFTA talksU.S. fails to deliver demands for next round of NAFTA talks

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    The 500 wounded veterans who will be competing in Invictus Games events for the next week will doubtless inspire many: fellow veterans, current servicemen and women, spectators, and people both disabled and able-bodied.

    But that’s only the half of it.

    “You’re not just here to inspire, you’re here to win,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in welcoming the athletes during the opening ceremony at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday night.

    “You will show the world that illness and injury can actually be a source of tremendous strength.”

    Trudeau added, “We know that no one leaves a battlefield unchanged, and that not all scars can be seen. Asking for help when you have physical and mental injuries, that’s hard for everyone. But it’s especially tough for people like you who have dedicated your lives to helping others.”

    Team Canada was met with enthusiastic applause at the opening ceremony. Led by flag-bearer Phil Badanai, the team of 90 athletes capped off the introduction of the 17 countries competing at the Games. Sunday kicks off a week of adaptive sport for military members who became ill or injured during service.

    About 550 competitors from countries as far-flung as Afghanistan, Italy, Ukraine and New Zealand are taking part in 12 sports in the annual event, which was created by Prince Harry and aims to help the war wounded, many grievously, with their recovery.

    Read more: A rookie’s guide to the Invictus Games

    Melania Trump meets Prince Harry, Trudeau on solo trip to Toronto

    Invictus Games is not about the medals, says Canadian veteran injured in battle. ‘We’re really battling against our own demons’

    Harry said “the direction of (his) life changed forever” after serving in the military, between 2005 and 2015, and he knew he had to use his “great platform to advocate for servicepeople.”

    “Some of you have cheated death, and come back even stronger than before ... You are all winners,” he said. “You are Invictus, let’s get started.”

    Mike Myers, a Canadian comedian and ambassador for the Games, spoke about his military family as both parents served in the Second World War.

    “Those who serve our country deserve our utmost respect, and so do the families,” Myers said. “My dad would talk about the unbreakable bond he had with those who served, they were brothers.”

    The ceremony was replete with speeches and entertainment, starting with Luca “Lazy Legs” Patuelli, a Montreal break dancing performer with arthrogryposis, a neuromuscular disease that affects the use of his legs.

    “Today, we are honouring servicepeople around the world,” Patuelli said, addressing the crowd before his performance. “There are no limits to what we can accomplish in our lives.”

    The Tenors performed the national anthem, dedicating it to servicemen and women. Among other performers were Sarah McLachlan, Alessia Cara, of Brampton, and Quebec folk group La Bottine Souriante.

    Prince Harry sat next to U.S. first lady Melania Trump during the ceremony, sitting a row above Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Sophie Grégoire Trudeau and near Premier Kathleen Wynne.

    The prince’s girlfriend, Meghan Markle, was also in the crowd, but away from the prince and with her friend Markus Anderson.

    Trudeau and Harry met at a downtown Toronto hotel earlier in the day where they exchanged laughs and pleasantries and Harry told Trudeau the Games had created “a real buzz around Toronto.”

    Trudeau, in turn, thanked Harry for founding the Games and creating opportunities for veterans.

    Harry then met Gov. Gen. David Johnston and his wife, Sharon, before attending the star-studded opening ceremony at the Air Canada Centre.

    “Welcome to our humble country,” Johnston told the prince.

    “It’s fantastic to be back,” Harry answered. “Always, a pleasure to be in Canada, my home away from home.”

    Celebrity-watchers might try to read something into that and try to catch a glimpse of Harry and Markle, a Toronto-based American actress with whom he has never been seen with in public.

    There will be plenty of non-sporting activities during the week, including a career summit for veterans.

    Earlier in the day, a crowd of a few hundred strong whooped when Harry entered the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and clamoured for his attention when he emerged more than hour later.

    The prince did not disappoint, crossing the road after his tour to talk to children, meet a pup and shake hands with the crowd as they waited in unseasonably warm, sunny weather.

    “Oh my goodness, I’m so happy, he shook my hand,” said a dazzled Robinowe Bukirwa, who wondered if she was dreaming even as the prince faded into the distance.

    “I don’t think I’m going to wash my hand today. I’m so very excited.”

    The prince’s tour of the centre included two roundtables — one with nine senior staff members focused on research, the other on dealing with youth coping with mental illness.

    Describing the complex issue as one requiring a “massive team effort,” Harry, who served in the military from 2005 to 2015, listened attentively to staff discuss their work, and anecdotes from patients who sought treatment for mental health and addiction struggles at the facility in downtown Toronto.

    The prince stressed the importance of mental health research and treatment — a topic he has championed. There is no “silver bullet” when it comes to dealing with the problem, he said.

    “You need options,” he said.

    One person in attendance told Harry she still cherished a visit decades before from his mother, the late Diana, Princess of Wales. The prince also met privately with teenage in-patients of the mental health facility.

    The 2017 Invictus Games will feature 550 competitors from 17 countries participating in 12 sports. An estimated 1,500 volunteers are also on board.

    Events include athletes of all genders, and those who are able-bodied and disabled will compete side-by-side in sports like sitting volleyball, wheelchair rugby, powerlifting and swimming.

    The inaugural Invictus Games, aimed at helping the war wounded with their recovery, were held in London in 2014. The Toronto Games run until Sept. 30.

    Tickets to individual events are $25 while admission is free to a few events like wheelchair tennis, cycling, golf and archery. Those watching at home can tune in to TSN to see the competition.

    With files from The Canadian Press


    ‘You’re not just here to inspire, you’re here to win’: Trudeau to athletes at Invictus Games opening ceremony‘You’re not just here to inspire, you’re here to win’: Trudeau to athletes at Invictus Games opening ceremony‘You’re not just here to inspire, you’re here to win’: Trudeau to athletes at Invictus Games opening ceremony‘You’re not just here to inspire, you’re here to win’: Trudeau to athletes at Invictus Games opening ceremony‘You’re not just here to inspire, you’re here to win’: Trudeau to athletes at Invictus Games opening ceremony‘You’re not just here to inspire, you’re here to win’: Trudeau to athletes at Invictus Games opening ceremony

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