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TOPSTORIES

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    Look, I think the late Rob Ford was a terrible, destructive, embarrassing mayor of Toronto.

    I have never been shy about sharing that opinion. But I think the proposal to name a football stadium in Etobicoke after him is fine. And appropriate, really. Not everyone agrees with me.

    When John Tory told his council colleagues in a letter that he hoped to honour the late mayor Ford by renaming Centennial Park Stadium in Etobicoke (in the same letter, he also suggested finding ways to honour councillors Pam McConnell and Ron Moeser, who, like Ford, passed away during this term of city council), a lot of people just about lost their lunch.

    Read more:

    ‘Rob Ford Memorial Stadium’ proposal triggers gratitude, groans in Toronto

    Rob Ford Memorial Stadium? Doug Ford wants it, John Tory backs it

    Online and in person Thursday, I heard from people distraught that a man so incompetent, offensive, and terrible for the city would be honoured in any way whatsoever. He subjected the city to ridicule. Had backwards attitudes on bikes and social programs. The policies he pursued starved communities of resources and threatened the most vulnerable residents of the city. He said racist and crudely sexist things. He was stripped of almost all of his powers, because he so alienated the council he was elected to lead.

    I believe all of these are true. And for all these reasons, I would strongly oppose building any significant public monuments to his memory in the city — no statue outside City Hall, thanks. No renaming Union Station or large public parks or main streets or airports in his memory. No. He doesn’t deserve that.

    Besides, I remember him, and the city under his chaotic mayoralty, all too well, thanks. I don’t need anything else to remind me.

    But also, he was the mayor of Toronto, and even after all we went through with him, he remained a beloved figure to a significant chunk of Torontonians. Especially in much of Etobicoke. He represented Ward 2 as a city councillor for 10 years before he was mayor, and again for over a year after he was no longer mayor, until his death — re-elected there in a landslide even after all the internationally infamous mayoral business. Such is his and his family’s influence there that his nephew, a political neophyte, was elected to replace him.

    Those people, who knew Rob Ford as their own representative, and a majority of whom supported him at the ballot box again and again, they deserve to have their own memories reflected in the city too, in their own neighbourhood, I think.

    And anyone’s memory of Ford would recognize that he never seemed so passionate about anything as he did about youth football. He founded teams, and coached them, at two high schools — he continued to coach even while he was mayor. He founded and ran a charity to fund football programs at high schools, and devoted so much energy and so many resources to doing so — arguably city resources, in some cases — that it almost got him removed from office as mayor well before any of his addiction problems were apparent.

    Indeed, when he was doing his job as mayor, he often appeared angry or flustered or frustrated or in over his head. But when he spoke about football, and coaching it, he was obviously happy.

    Of course, even there his legacy is complicated. I, like most journalists in this city who covered City Hall during his time, have heard from many of his former players about how positive an influence he was in their lives. I have also heard many arguments that he was using the students he coached for his own purposes, and that he was known sometimes to be verbally abusive with his players. Nearing the end of his scandalous mayoralty, while he was in the depths of drug and alcohol abuse and the media circus that surrounded his, he was asked to stop coaching the team at Don Bosco High School.

    Like almost everything to do with Rob Ford, there is bad to weigh alongside the good. But undeniably, over the years, he poured thousands of dollars of his own money into football programs, and countless hours of time. He clearly believed he was doing good for the community he served in this way, and many (though not all) members of that community agreed with him. The money he raised supported programs at other schools he was not involved with. He was devoted to high school football to a fault.

    If Ford is to be recognized at all — and whatever else he was, he was an unforgettable mayor of the city — it seems perfectly appropriate to me that he have something near the area he long represented named after him. A 2,200-seat football field would seem to recognize both his greatest passion in public life, and what many found his most endearing pursuit.

    I say all this with the proviso that such a memorial should be predicated on the support of the community where it will exist. If the people in the neighbourhood rise up at community meetings or in petitions and say they do not want Ford memorialized in their area, or not in this way, then I’d be inclined to listen to them. Given my own opinion of the man, I’m already inclined to understand that point of view.

    But if some majority of local residents Ford represented longest want a memorial to him in their neighbourhood, to reflect what they think he meant to them, then this seems like just about a perfect way to go about it.

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


    He was a terrible mayor, but naming football stadium after Rob Ford fine by me: KeenanHe was a terrible mayor, but naming football stadium after Rob Ford fine by me: Keenan

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    A retired OPP detective has been rejected as an expert witness for the Crown in the criminal trial of two Dalton McGuinty aides accused of deleting documents related to the cancellation of gas-fired power plants.

    In a blow to prosecutors, Judge Timothy Lipson ruled Thursday that former detective-sergeant Robert Gagnon, a computer forensics specialist, cannot offer opinions when testifying on evidence gleaned from computer hard drives and BlackBerrys seized under search warrants.

    Lipson said Gagnon was too close to the investigation to be relied upon for impartial interpretation.

    “This is a clear case for exclusion,” the judge said in a ruling that took one hour to deliver in ‎court.

    Comments made about the case in‎ emails and other forums by Gagnon were “the kind one would expect to hear from a partisan police investigator,” not an independent expert witness, Lipson added.

    Read more:

    Key witness at gas plants case not impartial, defence says

    McGuinty staffers ‘destroyed records they had a duty to preserve,’ gas plant trial told

    The truth about hydro in Ontario: a fact check

    The trial was delayed for two days while Lipson made his ruling in the case against David Livingston, who was the final chief of staff to McGuinty before he stepped aside as premier, and former deputy chief Laura Miller.

    They are charged with breach of trust, mischief in relation to data and misuse of a computer system in the alleged wiping of hard drives in the McGuinty premier’s office prior to Kathleen Wynne replacing him in February 2013.

    Livingston, a former investment banker, and Miller have pleaded not guilty. They face up to 10 years in prison if convicted of the charges laid almost two years ago.

    Defence lawyers argued Gagnon, who was recruited out of retirement to do forensic examinations on the computers, was too involved in the investigation to be unbiased.

    Prosecutor Tom Lemon flatly rejected that assertion, maintaining Gagnon is a technical expert hired to provide technical services and advice to a police probe that involved complicated and detailed forensic examinations of computers.

    Miller lawyer Scott Hutchison said in court that Gagnon was involved in numerous meetings and conference calls about the case with OPP investigators and the Crown — and went so far as to suggest an additional charge of mischief in relation to data be laid against the defendants.

    Lipson ruled this was “the most concerning example” of Gagnon’s involvement.

    “Mr. Gagnon regarded himself as a team member.”

    Hutchison also told Lipson that expert witnesses must be “independent and impartial” and said recent legal precedents require the court to determine in advance whether expert witnesses are admissible to prevent trials from being improperly influenced.

    The gas-fired power plants were cancelled by McGuinty’s Liberal government before the 2011 provincial election.

    McGuinty, who has said the plants were scrapped because they were too close to residential areas in Mississauga and Oakville, was not a subject of the police investigation and co-operated with officers.

    Opposition parties insist the government scrapped the plants, which faced community opposition, at a huge cost to taxpayers to save Liberal seats in the 2011 vote in which McGuinty was reduced to a minority.


    Judge rejects expert witness as too biased in gas plants trialJudge rejects expert witness as too biased in gas plants trial

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    Hidden injustices are the framework of a Speaking Fruit mobile art exhibit, conceptualized by Toronto-based artist Farrah-Marie Miranda.

    Migrant workers use art to protest for rights, recognition, permanent statusMigrant workers use art to protest for rights, recognition, permanent statusMigrant workers use art to protest for rights, recognition, permanent statusMigrant workers use art to protest for rights, recognition, permanent status

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    Kamao Cappo was forced out of a Canadian Tire store in Regina after he was accused of theft on July 26.

    Regina police say no charges after man accused of theft thrown out of Canadian TireRegina police say no charges after man accused of theft thrown out of Canadian Tire

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    The city councillor for the area, Norm Kelly, said a resident called him in February, asking for a crosswalk at the intersection.

    Family dinner out ends in tragedy after mom and 5-year-old daughter struck and killed in ScarboroughFamily dinner out ends in tragedy after mom and 5-year-old daughter struck and killed in Scarborough

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    On Wednesday, the White House announced a sweeping plan to cut taxes. The plan would overwhelmingly benefit wealthy Americans, like Trump.

    Donald Trump’s family could save more than $1 billion under his tax planDonald Trump’s family could save more than $1 billion under his tax plan

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    The embassy in Havana will lose roughly 60 per cent of its U.S. staff, and will stop processing visas in Cuba indefinitely.

    U.S. cuts embassy staff, warns against travel to Cuba: sourcesU.S. cuts embassy staff, warns against travel to Cuba: sources

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    The head of the U.S. Air Force Academy on Thursday responded fiercely to racist messages found on the message boards of five black students. “You should be outraged not only as an airman, but as a human being,” he said.

    Show respect or ‘get out,’ U.S. general says after racist slurs found on air force campusShow respect or ‘get out,’ U.S. general says after racist slurs found on air force campus

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    Julie McLeod stayed in mansion in the 1980s and looks fondly back at kind host.

    Hugh Hefner’s Playboy mansion a ‘surreal’ experience for Canadian who stayed six monthsHugh Hefner’s Playboy mansion a ‘surreal’ experience for Canadian who stayed six months

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  • 09/29/17--09:00: Article 2

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    The ex-presidential candidate spoke Thursday night at the Enercare Centre, part of her tour to promote her memoir "What Happened."

    ‘We are living through an all-out assault on truth and reason,’ Clinton warns adoring Toronto crowd‘We are living through an all-out assault on truth and reason,’ Clinton warns adoring Toronto crowd

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    Marco Muzzo, convicted in the 2015 Vaughan crash that killed three children and their grandfather, could soon be granted “unescorted temporary absences” from prison.

    Impaired driver Marco Muzzo moved to minimum security prison, reports sayImpaired driver Marco Muzzo moved to minimum security prison, reports say

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    SAN JUAN—The mayor of Puerto Rico’s capital city on Friday sharply criticized a senior Trump administration official for calling the government’s disaster response “a good news story,” comments that came amid mounting criticism of the federal reaction to the disaster here.

    Trump administration officials have defended the federal effort, with acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke telling reporters outside the White House on Thursday that the relief effort “is proceeding very well considering the devastation that took place.” She called the federal response “a good news story in terms of our ability to reach people and the limited number of deaths that have taken place in such a devastating hurricane.”

    After watching Duke’s comments, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz appeared visibly taken aback during an interview on CNN, calling the remarks “irresponsible” and saying they upset and frustrated her.

    “Maybe from where she’s standing, it’s a good news story,” Cruz said. “When you’re drinking from a creek, it’s not a good news story. When you don’t have food for a baby, it’s not a good news story.”

    Cruz praised the federal government for getting “boots on the ground,” and she thanked President Donald Trump for calling the capital. But she said the situation in Puerto Rico has worsened as people have struggled to get basic supplies such as food and water.

    “Damnit, this is not a good news story,” Cruz said. “This is a people-are-dying story. This is a life or death story ... When you have people out there dying, literally scraping for food, where is the good news?”

    Residents of Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory that is home to more than 3 million American citizens, have struggled without electricity, drinking water, food and medical supplies since Hurricane Maria tore across the island on Sept. 20. Many hospitals remain without power, and fears are mounting about the spread of infection and disease the longer people lack electricity and clean water.

    As the dire situation has worsened, the federal government’s initial response has drawn increasing scrutiny.

    Critics of the administration have compared it to the government’s poor reaction to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 or unfavourably contrasted it with the efforts shown after other disasters, including the recent intense hurricanes that battered Texas and Florida. The retired three-star general who commanded the massive U.S. military response to the Haitian earthquake of 2010 told The Post that it is fair to “ask why we’re not seeing a similar command and response” in Puerto Rico.

    The Trump administration has bristled at the criticism, with multiple officials defending their response and the president complaining on Twitter about the media coverage. Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello has praised the federal government’s efforts and said the president has called him multiple times.

    The Trump administration has ramped up its efforts, rushing military hardware and other assets to Puerto Rico as it became apparent the initial response was inadequate and overmatched by the sheer scale of the catastrophe there.

    Cruz warned after Maria hit of “horror” in the capital city’s streets, and she has expressed fears about looting. In an interview with The Washington Post on Thursday, Cruz said a curfew imposed by the governor seemed to be working, saying that crime is not a major concern of hers in the aftermath of the storm.

    “It has gotten under control,” she said as she walked through the streets of the Old San Juan neighbourhood La Perla. “People are adapting to a new reality.”

    Community members have been protecting one another, “retaking the streets,” she said. But she worried that if the government doesn’t help supply more food and water to communities in need, “people will become desperate.”

    “When people become desperate in life-or-death situations, they may be prone to do something they wouldn’t normally do,” she said.

    Cruz also pleaded with the federal government to remove “red tape” that is slowing down the relief efforts.

    “The FEMA people have their hearts in the right place,” she said of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. But, “there is a bottleneck somewhere.”

    Cruz said it is critical to find an immediate solution: “People will die. People have died.”

    As many as seven people are believed to have died in their homes because of lack of oxygen or dehydration, Cruz said. The municipality rescued 11 people from a nursing home with severe dehydration.

    After a call from the White House, Cruz said, FEMA personnel were deployed to the San Juan municipal office, which she said was an encouraging sign. Federal officials also sent pallets of water, food and nourishment for infants and toddlers.

    Cruz said she shared with the White House some of the costs the city has already incurred: The municipality invested more than $4.8 million (U.S.) in preparation for and in response to Irma, she said. Hurricane Maria costs already mounted to $6.9 million as of Wednesday.

    She said there were 3,000 shipping containers in the San Juan port that hadn’t been moved because the gates couldn’t be opened electronically, adding: “I’m sorry, you open the gates and by hand you push everything out.”

    From a historic city wall in Old San Juan, wooden signs could be seen from a basketball court below: “SOS, we need water, canopies, food. La Perla.”

    “Despacito,” the signs read. “Don’t abandon us.”

    The cry for help came from residents of La Perla, a neighbourhood on a waterfront hillside once known as one of the most dangerous barrios in the Caribbean. About 300 families live in the bright-coloured, stacked houses on narrow streets.

    For many years, La Perla was characterized as a haven for crime and drugs. More recently, residents and the San Juan mayor say, crime has declined significantly. The neighbourhood, a breeding ground for reggaeton artists, also received a boost from Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s hit song, Despacito. The music video, which takes place with a backdrop of La Perla, has drawn scores of tourists to the area.

    At dusk on Thursday evening, Jaeliz Perez, 10, played basketball with her cousin, Luis Perez, at the court in La Perla, the waves crashing against the shore below them. On the other side of the court, a group volunteering with the municipality cleaned up trees and other debris with construction vehicles.

    As the sun began to set, Jaeliz and her cousin walked up the steps, across the wall, and down another set of stairs to their home in La Perla. They needed to be home before the curfew, and before a blanket of darkness covered the neighbourhood.

    “My grandpa wouldn’t like it,” if she stayed out any later, she said. “It can be dangerous.”

    They went home and joined their extended family sitting on the front porch in the darkness, chatting together by the light of one cellphone flashlight. The inside of their home was entirely dark, and the view from their back balcony showed a hillside that was pitch black.

    “Look, the only thing giving us light is the moon,” Eva Elias, Jaeliz’s grandmother, said.

    The family has been getting by in the evenings with candles, lanterns or cellphones. But walking through La Perla’s dark streets at night can be hairy — the terrain is uneven, the slope at times steep. Residents walked to neighbouring homes with flash lights, but even then it was hard to tell who was coming or going.

    “The kids are playing in the streets, it’s dangerous for them,” Yashira Gomez, a community leader, said, adding that there are downed wires and debris still strewn about the streets.

    Gathering around one light overlooking the street, a group of neighbours shared soda and snacks. The National Park Service had distributed water cisterns to some families, but a water truck hadn’t been there in eight days, they said. They were running out of food. They had all gathered sticks and branches together, making a pile in front of their homes and building a makeshift oven around it.

    As families walked up one of the tunnel exits, they came across a godsend: a water tank, left there a few hours before from the municipality. In the dark, children and their parents filled up gallon jugs of water to take back to their homes.

    The poor neighbourhood “is very emblematic of San Juan,” Cruz said. “They might not have money but they have dignity.”

    When Cruz said an organization called Operation Blessings, based in Virginia Beach, was planning on installing a desalination system that would provide the neighbourhood with 6,800 litres of drinking water a day “so that you don’t have to depend on the government,” the announcement was greeted with applause.

    The organization also donated small, solar-powered lanterns. Cruz said light is crucial for personal security, because “it keeps away the looting, it keeps away the things people are not supposed to do.”

    Holding their lanterns and exchanging hugs with the mayor, La Perla residents walked around the neighbourhood past 8 p.m., its streets suddenly brighter.

    “Look, before this was quiet,” Cruz said. “Now, this is life.”


    ‘Damnit, this is not a good news story’: San Juan mayor slams Trump’s administration’s sugar coating of Puerto Rico hurricane response‘Damnit, this is not a good news story’: San Juan mayor slams Trump’s administration’s sugar coating of Puerto Rico hurricane response

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    One of the signal accomplishments of Justin Trudeau’s government has been its delicate dance with the elephant south of the border.

    It has worked well with different levels of government, business, labour leaders and influencers in the U.S., while ignoring the bluster from the top.

    By keeping Donald Trump at bay, the Liberals have also benefited, looking more progressive in image rather than deed because of the inevitable comparisons with Washington.

    Read more:

    Canada’s Bombardier, Boeing battle was brewing in spring Washington meeting

    Boeing may have won a battle, but not the war, says Quebec premier of Bombardier battle

    Bombardier tariffs create uncertainty across key Canadian industries

    So far, so good. Until this week.

    Bullies are going to bully. And the sledgehammer the Trump administration took to Bombardier was so far over the top that it demands a change of tone on bilateral relations from Trudeau and his key ministers.

    The Liberals have shown patience, civility and a cool demeanour as softwood lumber came under attack from Washington, our dairy industry was threatened, as the president threatened to rip up NAFTA, decided to renegotiate after all and then bombastically threatened to kill the deal again while Canada, Mexico and the U.S. were at the table.

    But a 220-per-cent duty on Bombardier jets is not mere rhetoric that can be ignored.

    Most Canadians will not be seized by a fight between two overly-coddled aerospace companies. Neither Boeing nor Bombardier are easy to cuddle up to.

    Both have been dining off government subsidies for years, a hallmark of the aerospace industry. Bombardier has received just short of $1.7 billion from Quebec and the federal government since Trudeau was elected in 2015. It received about $2 billion in the decade before the Liberals came to power and has been receiving government largesse since 1966.

    Shortly after receiving $372.5 million from Ottawa, it hiked the pay of top executives by 50 per cent before backing down after a storm of criticism.

    Boeing has received so much in government subsidies over the past two decades — estimated at $14 billion — that the Export-Import Bank of the United States is derisively known as the Bank of Boeing.

    Even before he was inaugurated, Trump threatened to cancel Boeing’s contract to replace Air Force One because it was too expensive. So, Boeing complied, drastically cutting the price tag. It moved an assembly plant to South Carolina to avoid the inconvenience of pesky unions.

    But this is beyond the aerospace industry.

    By seeking almost three times what Boeing was seeking in duties over Bombardier’s sale of CSeries jets to Delta, there is no doubt this is a political decision in the U.S.

    And there can be no doubt from the responses by Trudeau and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard that they see it as political as well.

    Observers in the U.S. are left wondering about Trump’s gambit.

    Is he just trying to muscle allies out of the U.S. as part of his America First strategy? Is he trying to goad Canada into a trade war this country would be wise to avoid?

    By launching this during NAFTA talks, is he signalling that he really doesn’t want a trilateral deal?

    If this is a typical Trumpian theatrical flourish, it could prove to be one expensive piece of theatre.

    “This latest announcement reflects the destabilizing nature of the president,” Paul Frazer a Washington-based consultant and former Canadian diplomat told me.

    “People voted him as a disrupter, but he is more than that. That can be more dangerous, and he is having an impact on Canada-U. S. relations.”

    In the short term, the federal and Quebec governments should take their case to the states where more than 22,000 American jobs depend on building components for the Bombardier CSeries.

    So far, Trudeau has saved his toughest talk for Boeing, saying his government will not do business with a company “aiming to put our aerospace workers out of business.”

    Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, in a lovely understatement, called the U.S. administration “unconventional.”

    But Freeland is in a tough spot. She is trying to negotiate a trade deal with the U.S.

    Any Canadian response to this move will have to be surgical in nature, but the Liberals are going to have to start showing some muscle.

    It’s time for Trudeau and his government to take a sharper tone. Canadians want their prime ministers to be close, but not too close to American presidents. It’s no longer clear most Canadians even want their government to be close to Trump.

    Yes, this illustrates the need to maintain a disputes settlement mechanism in NAFTA. But this Trump bullying on trade also means we might have to start thinking about life without NAFTA.

    Tim Harper writes on national affairs. tjharper77@gmail.com, Twitter: @nutgraf1


    Donald Trump’s Bombardier bullying demands more muscle from Justin Trudeau: HarperDonald Trump’s Bombardier bullying demands more muscle from Justin Trudeau: Harper

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    It’s easy to die in Toronto.

    I was reminded of this on a perfectly calm and warm night last week on a ride home from Fort York. I pedalled past the open and subdued Rogers Centre, where the Kansas City Royals were beating the Blue Jays, and turned up Simcoe St., one of the few streets with bike lanes that pass under the rail corridor in the central core.

    I rolled north past quiet King St. where just the week before George Clooney, Lady Gaga and Angelina Jolie walked a gauntlet of stargazers, then towards the stop sign at Richmond St. There, just before the intersection, construction had closed the bike lane and a confusing sign directed cyclists to keep left, and pedestrians right. A steel fence was set up, dividing what was the northbound car lane in half, and as per the sign, I rode to the left.

    I stopped at Richmond before the crosswalk as I was supposed to. The construction blocked the view east so a garbage truck that roared around the corner was a surprise. It turned south from Richmond onto Simcoe quickly, cutting into the northbound lane where I was.

    The big truck was all torque, barreling forward. The driver had to see me, I looked up at him a couple feet away as he passed, but perhaps he was going too fast. As the truck continued to turn south the back tires cut into my lane more and rolled towards me.

    That’s when I felt death, when there is no time to think yet all the time to feel. It’s physical, like all my skin tightened up in an effort to make myself smaller. Somehow, instinctively, I jumped to my right along with by bike underneath me, pressed up against that fence, not able to move further. Those massive tires passed as close to me as I’d ever want them to, rolling heavily over where I was just standing and quickly went down the block, turning into the Shangri-La hotel without pause.

    Big trucks in small-scaled, people-filled cities make for a bad combination. Like many trucks, the vehicle didn’t have side guards that can prevent cyclists from going under trucks when they turn like this. The trucking industry has resisted efforts to make them mandatory. Those vehicles, as well as our street design that encourages fast driving and lazy skills, are killers.

    On Simcoe I was legally where I was supposed to be and yet if my legs didn’t work as quickly as they did I’d be dead or permanently injured right now. Yet it was just another day in the life of Toronto where the mayor and his hand picked councillors on the powerful Public Works and Infrastructure Committee (PWIC), all people who could make needed changes happen, pay lip service to “Vision Zero,” a Swedish project that aims to eliminate traffic fatalities and injuries on our roads.

    If you dig through Toronto newspaper archives and look through any city section you will find decades of traffic fatalities. If you look at the newspaper last week you will see an 86-year-old woman was killed crossing Broadview using her walker. You’ll see a 5-year-old boy was killed last May when he fell into traffic from the waterfront trail that runs next to speeding traffic. Today there’s a temporary barrier along that stretch, not unlike the one I pressed up against to avoid the truck. It took a child’s death to get even that flimsy level of protection.

    On Wednesday night, a mother and her 5-year-old daughter were killed crossing a stretch of Warden Ave. near Continental Pl., where there isn’t a pedestrian crossing for half a kilometre.

    Downtown and in the suburbs, the killing goes on.

    Few other killers, whether disease, animal, machine, or human, would be allowed to lurk among us so unchecked as our road design and the vehicles on them.

    The Simcoe St.-area councillor, Joe Cressy, says his office mandated a physically separated bike lane during construction, and was working to correct the implementation. However, a week later, the changes had not been made. He also said a new traffic light there was approved by city council in June and is coming to replace the notorious stop sign that forces pedestrians and cyclists to dodge Richmond St. traffic.

    The Simcoe lane itself ends at Queen St. W., and instructs riders to only turn right. It’s yet another of the city’s disconnected bike lane stubs. Simcoe would be a natural path north behind the U.S. Consulate along University Ave. as it’s already pedestrianized at Queen.

    Logical connections like this remain provisional and ad hoc, but all cyclists have their own routes through the city where they know they’ll be safer until a proper protected network is built. A connected network, something other cities like Montreal seem to do without epic battles, is a constant fight in Toronto. Already some councillors are circling like buzzards over the Bloor bike lane pilot project: its final report goes to the PWIC next month.

    There are a few interesting things to watch for in this coming debate. One is opponents will place no value on the safety the lanes provide humans and instead focus on commute times for cars and argue that not enough new cyclists have started using the as-yet non-continuous lanes.

    More absurdly amusing is the general disdain for bikes and bike infrastructure some have. Would opponents of bike lanes prefer each cyclist be in a car? That would be a fun exercise, but ultimately futile. In the identity politics of car-oriented city design, other cars are not the problem: when driving we “fight traffic,” but we never think we are traffic.

    In theory, car drivers should be the loudest champions of bike infrastructure. Bikes take up much less space. Whatever minor “inconveniences” things like bike lanes cause can’t compare with fighting ever more cars on the roads.

    That the safety angle isn’t enough to convince opponents of the need for equitable infrastructure is a failure of their humanity. That getting more cars off the road doesn’t convince them is a failure of their intellect. That they don’t see bicycles as even being legitimate transportation choices, equal to cars, is a failure of their grasp of reality.

    Even Amazon asked cities bidding for their new massive headquarters, as Toronto and its GTA partners are doing now, to demonstrate a commitment to transit, cycling and pedestrian infrastructure in their proposals. If lives and limbs don’t matter, maybe the jobs and billions of dollars at stake will, but likely not.

    The bikes aren’t going anywhere, but unless there’s political courage, the killing on the streets will continue.

    Shawn Micallef writes every Saturday about where and how we live in the GTA. Wander the streets with him on Twitter @shawnmicallef


    Life is cheap by design in Toronto: MicallefLife is cheap by design in Toronto: Micallef

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    Police were at two schools in Toronto’s east end Friday afternoon after threats were issued against them.

    Officers were first called to Duke of Connaught Junior and Senior School in Leslieville on Thursday after threats were received there. The school was placed in “hold and secure” status, which continued through Friday as classes continued.

    In that case, Const. Allyson Douglas-Cook said a person of interest was arrested on unrelated charges, and was being questioned by police.

    Then on Friday, Westwood Middle School was also placed in hold and secure after a threat was received there.

    Police said Friday afternoon that it was “too soon to say” whether the two threats were connected.

    While there was no immediate concern about the safety of the students, police have a uniformed presence at the schools.


    Threats put Toronto elementary schools in ‘hold and secure’Threats put Toronto elementary schools in ‘hold and secure’

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    VATICAN CITY—Police in Windsor, Ont. have issued an arrest warrant for the Vatican diplomat who was recalled from the United States in a child pornography investigation, accusing him of accessing porn over Christmas last year from a church.

    Police in Windsor said Carlo Capella, 50, allegedly uploaded the child porn to a social networking site while visiting a place of worship between Dec. 24 and Dec. 27.

    The Vatican recalled Capella after the U.S. State Department notified it Aug. 21 of a “possible violation of laws relating to child pornography images” by one of its diplomats in Washington.

    It never identified Capella by name, but Windsor police did so in a statement announcing the arrest warrant Thursday.

    The Vatican says its own prosecutor was investigating and seeking further information from the U.S.

    In the statement, Windsor police accused Capella of accessing, possessing and distributing pornography. It said authorities were alerted in February that someone in Windsor had allegedly uploaded child porn using a social networking site.

    They obtained records of the internet service provider and determined the dates in question.

    In a statement, the Diocese of London in Ontario confirmed that it helped investigators who had suspicions of “possible violations of child pornography laws by using a computer address at a local church.”

    It declined further comment, citing a police request.

    The Vatican hasn’t commented beyond its initial statement, or even officially identified Capella as the recalled diplomat. Several U.S. church officials have complained that the Vatican was being less than transparent about the case.

    The head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, urged the Holy See to be “forthcoming with more details,” a reflection of how the U.S. church still struggles with credibility problems 15 years after the sex abuse scandal erupted in the U.S.

    The diplomat recall was expected to lurk in the background of an international conference in Rome planned for next week at the Pontifical Gregorian University on protecting children from online sexual exploitation, pornography and abuse.

    Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state and Capella’s boss, is set to deliver the keynote speech Tuesday on “The Holy See and its commitment to combating sex abuse online.”

    Panellists at the conference, which was organized months ago, are to include top law enforcement and academic experts in the field of child protection and cybercrimes, with an entire morning devoted to “Child Sexual Abuse Online: Who are the offenders?”

    Read more:

    High-ranking Vatican priest recalled from U.S. amid child porn investigation

    Pope Francis admits the church was ‘a bit late’ on tackling sex abuse


    Windsor police issue arrest warrant for recalled Vatican diplomat in child porn caseWindsor police issue arrest warrant for recalled Vatican diplomat in child porn case

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    It began as a quixotic quest.

    Derek Rayside, dedicated motorist and Queens Quay condo dweller, was exasperated by the stop-and-go-traffic on what should have been a breezy trip to Costco in south Etobicoke.

    The supposed 15-minute journey could take triple that time.

    He believed there had to be a better, more pleasant, way to make the monthly shopping expedition with his wife and two young children. This was three years ago during a massive Queens Quay makeover that made driving even worse but brought separated bike lanes.

    So, in a moment of inspiration bordering on the Seussian, Rayside made it his mission to get his family — all four of them — on a single bike. Oh, and, at the same time, transport groceries that could total $900.

    “Going to Costco to do your shopping is like the ultimate task in family transportation,” says the 42-year-old. “If we can shop at Costco by bike, we can do everything else by bike too.”

    Rayside is the associate director of software engineering at the University of Waterloo so he’s accustomed to tricky problem solving.

    He put his puzzler to work.

    He made two shopping test rides to Costco on a single bike with his son Colin, now 7, in a child’s seat. The 13.5-kilometre trip was probably the longest he had ever made on two wheels. Rayside doesn’t consider himself a cyclist; he’s more of a “not good” hockey player.

    While the cargo pushed his limits physically, Rayside discovered that the trip along the Martin Goodman Trail, north on Park Lawn Rd., across Manitoba St., north again on Royal York Rd. and then west on Queen Elizabeth Blvd., was very safe.

    “We knew it was within the realm of the feasible, we just needed better technology,” he says.

    Rayside contacted Ronald Onderwater, who has been making triple tandem bikes in Amsterdam for about a decade. Rayside asked him to modify the design, mainly adding an extension to the middle seat so his wife, Stephanie Xie, could ride there.

    The base bike cost about $4,500, but Rayside said it replaces a family car, a 2000 Toyota which he was able to ditch in 2016.

    “It costs dramatically less to operate,” he says. “It costs less to buy, less to park. Everything costs less.”

    The Onderwater XL Triple Tandem arrived two years ago, but it required more tinkering for Rayside to achieve his goal.

    The rise up and over the Gardiner Expressway on Royal York, insignificant to a single bike, was like a mountain for a cyclist moving about 275 kilograms. The bike itself, made of steel, Rayside says, is “extremely heavy.” He guesses it weighs around 50 kilograms.

    “With two children, two adults plus groceries, any little bump is a hill,” he said.

    So he worked with bike technicians in Vancouver, Oakville and at Toronto’s Biseagal to develop and install an electric assist on the bike. Rayside used the best parts he could get so that motor, equal to one horsepower, cost about $3,000. So with taxes, upgrades on the some accessories and a $500 trailer, it is a $10,000 investment.

    Now the family does virtually everything downtown by bike including riding to hockey camp at Moss Park Arena — with sticks strapped to the chain guard — or getting the kids to Kung Fu classes in Chinatown.

    Previous to the addition of the electric assist — running strictly on the pedal power of three people — the bike’s average speed was 14 km/h. Now it can motor along at about 20 km/h.

    Though, Rayside says, “the guys in Lycra still go faster than us.”

    On a recent Sunday, the family cut a striking image as they made their way to and from the Etobicoke store. Colin sat up front followed by Xie, who is 5-foot-4, then the lanky 6-foot-4 Rayside with Charlotte, 3, in a baby seat behind him. Rayside pilots the bike, doing the shifting, braking and steering.

    The day’s groceries totalled $611.32 — down from the previous month’s $900 — with all of it fitting in the trailer except for two Lego advent calendars.

    If the family made the ride non-stop it would take about 45 to 50 minutes, same as a car on a slow day. But, says Rayside, the family cycling adventure is much more fun, with stops to play, as they pedal along the waterfront or through quiet neighbourhoods.

    Rayside is a passionate supporter of bike lanes and cycling because of both the health benefits for riders and economic advantages for a city. He believes the only way to reduce traffic congestion is to provide people with alternatives to driving.

    Though he calls Toronto’s improvements for the cycling community “slow baby steps” he believes it is possible for families to use pedal power for most errands and outings.

    Xie, a stem cell biologist, had never previously cycled — that’s why Rayside thought it safer for them both to be on the same bike — but she has come to love it.

    “As a scientist, I’m often in places where there really are no windows, sitting in front of a computer,” she says. “So it’s really nice on the weekend to get out and about, get the fresh air and do what we need to do without ever getting into a car.”

    Rayside uses his tandem all year. He has access to a car but only drives it about once a month for distant trips. For work, he takes a Greyhound bus to the University of Waterloo — two hours each way — while Xie, a researcher at the Princess Margaret Cancer Center, walks or takes transit.

    Rayside said his unusual ride draws stares and when stopped, strangers often approach to ask him about it or take a photo.

    “The bike brings a smile to everyone’s face,” says Rayside. “It’s a great way to connect with everyone in the city.”

    Read more:

    New Woodbine bike lanes just the beginning, councillors say

    Day-trippers to The Beach could soon be riding in style


    How this family of four transports themselves and $900 of Costco groceries — all on one bikeHow this family of four transports themselves and $900 of Costco groceries — all on one bike

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    One morning this week at the Art Gallery of Ontario, the attentive would have witnessed the dystopian fantasy equivalent of a solar eclipse: There, emerging from the Grange, the gallery’s Victorian manse, was Margaret Atwood, passing so close to film director Guillermo del Toro, tucked into the gallery’s closet-sized green room for a slate of quickie interviews, as to touch.

    With Atwood fully in the swing of a Hollywood renaissance, it would be fair to imagine them converging here for that very purpose. But no. “I’ve never met her, but I would love to,” says del Toro, every bit the wide-eyed fan. “She’s so important. Her work is perennial; it never stops being relevant.”

    While it might seem a surprising affinity — Atwood has, at least to my knowledge, not written of angels of death with multiple eyeballs embedded in their wings, or of an amphibious man-thing with a taste for hard-boiled eggs — think again. In A Handmaid’s Tale, Atwood’s monsters may favour three-piece suits or long button-hooked gowns over scales and fangs, but they’re monsters all the same. And the radical tension of a world stretched to extremes, leaving a wasteland of human wreckage as it snaps, is their common ground. (So is Toronto, where del Toro spends most of the time now, he says. “I live in Leslieville, very bohemian,” he laughs).

    At the AGO, del Toro’s At Home With Monsters opens to the public tomorrow, and it’s an intense, overpoweringly completist view into the esthetic and philosophical fascinations of its maker. The show, for the most part, is a full transposition of del Toro’s Bleak House (after Charles Dickens’ Gothic tale) in Los Angeles, a sprawling pair of suburban homes transformed into an interior landscape of del Toro’s mind.

    It is, very simply, a lot: more than 500 objects, from original Disney animation cells (think not of the mouse, but Sleeping Beauty’s dragon, or the demon presiding over a scene of Fantasia) to drawings and paintings, some gore-laden, some beguilingly innocent, by favourite illustrators and artists to hundreds of comic books, Victorian novels, production models (the aforementioned angel of death, Pan, the horned demon from Pan’s Labyrinth, a giant vampire’s sarcophagus from The Strain) and, in one faithful recreation of the library from Crimson Peak, a room with perpetual rain.

    The obvious questions are what, if anything, separates At Home With Monsters from a new exhibit at Universal Studios, and what, exactly, is it doing in an art museum at all? The answers, or my answers, are: not a lot (at least at first glance) and I’m not exactly sure. But del Toro has his own.

    “For me, for sure, there is no line,” he said, when asked about the traditional church-and-state division between culture, high and low. “Art for me is a spiritual exercise. And if you stay only on one side of that line, you’re a Victorian: you’re John Ruskin. You’re extolling virtues in art that it doesn’t need, that aren’t necessary. That limits you.”

    It’s a reasonable argument and it helps that it’s made from so learned a point of view. Del Toro is impossibly well-read (Ruskin, a Victorian-era utopian philosopher, is a paragon of rigid one-note idealism), an obsessive’s obsessive on a vast range of cultural history and philosophy.

    As a child, he says, he had comic books and encyclopedias side by side, and would toggle back and forth between Spider-Man and French Impressionism, and the division between things never occurred to him.

    “The exercise, I think, is that any cultural consumption without a cognitive process is deplorable,” he says. “If you just consume pop culture and don’t process it, critically, or try to elevate it in your mind and make it your own, it’s just sad. But the same can be said of the sanctioned manifestations of art. If you go to an art museum just to check a box, to accept what you’re told, then what is the point?”

    It’s been a busy few months for the director, as his new film, The Shape of Water, about an amphibious humanoid kept in captivity who becomes romantically entangled with one of his keepers, is already generating Oscar chatter. Such is the contradiction of del Toro: a genre-ish monster movie that transcends its parameters with the force of its emotional core.

    It embodies its maker almost perfectly. Over a brief spate of time, del Toro ranges from H.P. Lovecraft (a cherished, fetishized favourite, to the point where he’s recreated the author’s library, not to mention the author himself, at his Bleak House) to Henry James and Oscar Wilde, from horror comic book virtuoso Bernie Wrightson to B-grade fantasy film director Ray Harryhausen to Francisco Goya (“What do you do with the most vibrant, terrifying, intimate period of his work, his dark painting?” he asks, excitedly).

    In many ways, his fascinations are a mirror of cultural history and the countercurrents that animate them: the grotesque, a visceral, sensualist’s subculture running beneath the politely opulent beauty of the baroque, or the wave of Gothic horror that ran counter to the Enlightenment.

    “When we talk about Victorian society being a moral and artistic corset, what is that corset holding? How big will the spillage be?” he laughs. “When you read Mary Shelley or Lord Byron, the 1800s are really fascinating, because there’s a counter-movement to the Age of Reason. What’s great about Victorian art is that it sublimates with the fanatasic. And the resurgence of the Gothic speaks, to me, about taking the urge to do something wild, something savage.”

    It should come as no surprise that, alongside Lovecraft, Shelley’s Frankenstein is a central fascination and appears around every corner here. Its tale — of human hubris interfering with the divine, begetting violence and woe — could have been written by del Toro himself. At some point, it will be: a new film version is one of the director’s fondest hopes.

    Woven into del Toro’s agglomeration of stuff are the occasional piece from the AGO’s own collection and they help blur the line he so steadfastly ignores. From a Goya — one of those dark paintings, natch — to Tissot to Piranesi, well-placed images coax the fantastic from across the border of the art-historical canon.

    “Guillermo didn’t want to do a show that was all plastic and glitz and studio junk,” said Jim Shedden, the AGO’s curator on the exhibition. “It’s not about him being a particular genius. It’s about the spectrum of things that inform his world view.”

    The starry-eyed fanboys will find much to their liking: gloopy masks and production models from Pan’s Labyrinth, ectoplasmic explosions in quick-cut film clips from Mimic, Cronos, Crimson Peak, the monster-mashing of the Hellboy movies and the splatter-filled Blade II. “What did Lord Byron say? If all else fails, shock them. That could have been said by a B-movie director,” del Toro laughs.

    But the CBC hustled out a quickie online earlier this week, calling it a memorabilia show, and that’s not exactly fair. Del Toro’s esthetic may sit comfortably in the genre of occasionally shlocky horror/fantasy, his narrative urge — toward allegory, parables of universal and timeless transformation from innocence to experience, and beyond — transcends it. In that way, he makes an opening through which almost all of us can pass.

    “Ultimately, the nature of humanity is the fundamental lack of peace between two sides: the profane and the divine,” he says. “I try to speak about purity rather than innocence, because innocence is a construct, something that’s supposed to exist above reality, outside the real world. None of us can do that. But each of us embodies within us a state of grace. That, I believe.”

    Guillermo del Toro: At Home With Monsters opens at the Art Gallery of Ontario Saturday and continues to Jan. 7, 2018. Please see www.ago.net/guillermo-del-toro-at-home-with-monsters


    Guillermo del Toro's new AGO show is a monster with a mysterious purposeGuillermo del Toro's new AGO show is a monster with a mysterious purpose

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    Former U.S. president Barack Obama visited Toronto on Friday to delivering a lunchtime speech about global citizenship. The event was hosted by Ottawa-based think-tank Canada2020.

    The Obama event at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre was expected to attract about 3,000 people, with politicians at all levels attending.


    Obama speaks in Toronto: 'Me and Canada, we just have this thing'Obama speaks in Toronto: 'Me and Canada, we just have this thing'

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