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    Toronto police Const. James Forcillo will not spend the night in jail before his appeal hearing next week, after his bail was extended at a hearing Thursday — 72 hours before the suspended cop was due to surrender and be put behind bars.

    The move comes after his lawyers successfully argued to have the court consider allowing new evidence to be introduced as part of Forcillo’s appeal of his attempted murder conviction in the July 2013 shooting death of Sammy Yatim.

    Documents filed in support of the bail extension also state that Forcillo and his wife, Irina, divorced in July. The new bail document still includes Forcillo’s ex-wife as a surety, but names her as Irina Ratushnyak.

    “She has subsequently taken her maiden name back. She and (Forcillo) remain on good terms and continue to live together and co-parent their two children,” reads an affidavit prepared by an employee Forcillo’s lawyers’ firm, Brauti Thorning Zibarras.

    Instead of having to surrender into custody the night before the appeal, Forcillo’s new bail conditions state he must surrender to the court by April 2, 2018 “or before 6:00 pm on the day before the hearing of the ‘fresh evidence’ phase of the appeal whichever is earliest,” according to the bail documents.

    More to come.


    Bail extended for James Forcillo days before he was to be jailedBail extended for James Forcillo days before he was to be jailed

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    MONTREAL—If Netflix’s offerings reflected the vitality of Canada’s film and television industries, one might understand why Justin Trudeau’s government would give the American conglomerate preferential tax-free treatment in recognition of its vital role in putting the country on the streaming map.

    But Netflix cannot have become the federal government’s best pal in the pursuit of an updated vision of Canada’s place in a brave new digital world on account of the efforts it has expended on showcasing Canadian content.

    About half of all this country’s households subscribe to Netflix. Canada happens to be home to the largest number of citizens whose mother tongue is French outside of France. Based on the Canadian content available on Netflix, this country might as well be a unilingual cultural colony of the United States.

    Here are some gems unearthed on a dispiriting Canadian content search down the Netflix rabbit hole.

    A total of two television series appear in Netflix’s “binge-worthy Canadian TV dramas” category: Travelers and Between and that’s two more than are listed as binge-worthy in French.

    There are barely more than half a dozen movies listed in the French-Canadian film category. Most are translations from English. Zootopia and Finding Dory are on that list.

    A few more surface in a separate Quebec category alongside, among other offerings, a French translation of an American documentary titled Hot Girls Wanted. That one is not available with “Canadian French audio” but The Lord of the Rings is.

    This week Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly placed Netflix at the centre of her government’s bid to maintain and expand the digital footprint of Canada’s television and film industries. The deal she struck with the streaming company will presumably become a template for similar arrangements with other global corporations that operate in the cultural sector.

    Boasting that it was “the biggest investment in the last 30 years in Canadian content from a foreign company” the minister unveiled a deal that will see Netflix invest $100 million a year for five years in the production of Canadian television.

    But Joly was unable to say how the spending promise compares with what Netflix would have spent in Canada absent a deal with Ottawa.

    Nor were there specifics as to what qualifies as Canadian content. Are American series shot in Canada to take advantage of tax credits considered domestic productions?

    What the deal does do is maintain a non-level playing field between Canada’s cable industry players and Netflix. They have to collect the sales taxes and contribute a percentage of their revenues to a national media fund. Netflix is free of similar obligations.

    Netflix is in the editorial driver’s seat and it has no quota of original French-language content to meet.

    Joly says there is no reason to worry because Netflix executives know that some of the top names in the business — filmmakers such as Jean-Marc Vallée, Denis Villeneuve and Xavier Dolan — are all from Quebec. Really?

    The first just won an Emmy for his work as director of the HBO series Big Little Lies. Villeneuve’s Blade Runner sequel is opening this month. Dolan is in pre-production of his first English-language film.

    Chances are it is neither their French-language skills nor the cultural eco-system within which this trio’s talent was nurtured that are the attraction for Netflix executives.

    Joly’s Netflix announcement has ignited a Quebec firestorm with some columnists describing the spirit behind the federal policy as the symptom of a branch-plant mentality.

    The province’s culture minister, Luc Fortin, urged Ottawa to go back to the drawing board.

    The Conseil du patronat — a lobby that speaks for Quebec’s private sector executives — was as scathing in its denunciation of the Netflix deal as was the leftist Québec Solidaire party.

    Nowhere in Canada is the issue of culture more sensitive than in Quebec. It is seen as central to the province’s collective identity. Stephen Harper’s Conservatives learned that at their expense in 2008. A pre-election round of culture cuts contributed to losing them a coveted governing majority.

    It is too early to conclude that Joly’s announcement will similarly damage Trudeau’s Liberals. They are seen as more culture-friendly than their Conservative predecessors, and they have public dollars at their disposal to back up that perception. But Joly’s Netflix deal has elicited more blowback in Quebec than any of her government’s previous policy announcements.

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


    Ottawa's Netflix deal angers culture-conscious Quebec: HébertOttawa's Netflix deal angers culture-conscious Quebec: Hébert

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    A pedestrian safety advocate says dangerously high speed limits are to blame for the spate of four pedestrian deaths that occurred in a 24-hour period between Wednesday and Thursday evenings.

    “The speed limits on the most dangerous roads are not getting changed,” said Dylan Reid, co-founder of Walk Toronto.

    Four pedestrians were killed in Scarborough on roads with speed limits of 50 kilometres per hour or higher.

    The first two to be struck and killed were a woman and her 5-year-old daughter Wednesday night. Hours later, a 56-year-old man was pinned under a vehicle and pronounced dead on the scene. Thursday night, a 71-year-old man was struck and killed.

    Read more:

    Toronto’s car-first policies create a war on the people

    Life is cheap by design in Toronto: Micallef

    On Wilson Ave., the 'car is king' and students are in the way: Hume

    The 34-year-old woman and her daughter died after running across a road at Warden Ave. and Continental Pl., near Ellesmere Rd. The father and another child, 2, crossed the street safely while the mother and daughter were struck. The speed limit on the road was 60 km/h.

    The 56-year-old man died Thursday on Birchmount Rd., south of St. Clair Ave. E., which has a speed limit of 50 km/h. Another man died on McCowan Rd., south of Steeles Ave. E., which has a speed limit of 60 km/h.

    “There are more deaths on the roads where the speed limits are higher,” said Reid. “It just speaks to the need to reduce speeds in Toronto as a whole because people are at risk in all different parts of the city.”

    Warden Ave. and Continental Pl., where the first two victims died, is described by locals as the most dangerous stretch of road in Scarborough. Traffic zips by and the two closest traffic lights are roughly a four-minute walk away from the spot where the mother and daughter crossed.

    “The safe crossing points are very few and far between,” said Reid. “You have to walk a long distance to get to a safe crossing spot and that makes it more likely that people are going to try to cross where there isn’t a safe crossing spot.”

    All three locations where the deaths occurred are being reviewed by the city’s transportation services division, said Marko Oinonen, manager of traffic operations for the Scarborough district.

    “This would be to see if the transportation infrastructure was in good order, but also to determine if there are any enhancements that might benefit the areas,” said Oinonen.

    The World Health Organization states that pedestrians have a 90-per-cent chance of survival when struck by a car travelling at 30 km/h or below, while the chance of survival is half when struck by a vehicle going 45 km/h.

    A 2015 staff report by the city of Toronto stated that the majority, about 90 per cent, of the collisions resulting in pedestrian deaths occur on roads with posted speeds of 50 and 60 km/h.

    The city adopted a five-year road safety plan in 2017 with an aim to reduce the number of road fatalities and serious injuries to zero. They named it after Vision Zero — an international movement designing roads and traffic systems to save lives, even if it inconveniences drivers.

    Toronto’s plan fails to adopt a citywide, universal approach that could prevent occurrences like the ones in Scarborough, said Reid.

    “The city is lowering some speed limits,” said Reid. “But the city is reluctant to lower speed limits on the fastest roads where the biggest danger lies because that would create stronger reaction from drivers.”

    In Sweden, where Vision Zero originated, the speed limit does not exceed 30 km/h on roads where there is a mixture of cars and pedestrians. The program is credited with reducing traffic fatalities in cities by nearly 40 per cent.

    “Toronto’s Vision Zero plan isn’t really a Vision Zero plan,” said Reid. “It’s a fairly modest road and safety plan that is specific to certain areas of the city.”


    Four pedestrians die in Scarborough within 24 hoursFour pedestrians die in Scarborough within 24 hours

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    A judge in Louisiana on Thursday said that Black Lives Matter is a social movement and therefore can’t be sued, dismissing a lawsuit brought by an anonymous police officer.

    In his ruling, Chief Judge Brian Jackson, of the U.S. District Court in Baton Rouge, said that the lawsuit against several parties, including Black Lives Matter and DeRay Mckesson, one of the movement’s most prominent supporters, suffered from “numerous deficiencies.”

    The officer, of the Baton Rouge Police Department, first filed the suit late last year, arguing that the pair should be held responsible for injuries he suffered while responding to protests in 2016. A rock or piece of concrete thrown at a protest struck him, he said, resulting in loss of teeth and injuries to his jaw, brain and head.

    The protest at which the officer was injured, attended by Mckesson, was held in Baton Rouge in July 2016 amid widespread demonstrations over police shootings of black men. The officer alleged that Mckesson had helped incite violence at the protest. That month saw five police officers killed at a march against police shootings in Dallas, and three more killed in Baton Rouge.

    This summer, the officer added two more parties to his lawsuit. One was Black Lives Matter Network, Inc., a group associated with the movement. The other was “#BlackLivesMatter,” which, Jackson noted repeatedly in italics, is a hashtag, a marker used on Twitter to flag posts about a similar topic.

    In his ruling, Jackson acknowledged that groups and individuals associated with the movement can be brought to court. But Black Lives Matter was an exception, he said.

    “Black Lives Matter,” as a social movement, cannot be sued, however, in a similar way that a person cannot plausibly sue other social movements such as the Civil Rights movement, the L.G.B.T. rights movement, or the Tea Party movement. If he could state a plausible claim for relief, a plaintiff could bring suit against entities associated with those movements, though, such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Human Rights Campaign, or Tea Party Patriots.

    Jackson also chafed at the inclusion of the hashtag, which the officer and his lawyers defined as “a national unincorporated association” in California.

    For reasons that should be obvious, a hashtag — which is an expression that categorizes or classifies a person’s thought — is not a “juridical person” and therefore lacks the capacity to be sued. Amending the Complaint to add “#BlackLivesMatter” as a Defendant in this matter would be futile because such claims “would be subject to dismissal”; a hashtag is patently incapable of being sued.

    In the end, he criticized the officer and his lawyers for including either.

    Plaintiff’s attempt to bring suit against a social movement and a hashtag evinces either a gross lack of understanding of the concept of capacity or bad faith.

    Billy Gibbens, a lawyer for Mckesson, said he was pleased with the ruling.

    “DeRay has repeatedly said that he doesn’t endorse violence, and we’re sorry for what happened to the officer, but I think the judge was right that he’s not responsible,” he said.

    This case may be resolved, but another, brought before the same judge by a different officer, against Mckesson, Black Lives Matter, the hashtag, and others, remains, Gibbens said.

    A lawyer for the anonymous officer could not immediately be reached.


    No, you can’t sue #BlackLivesMatter, judge says in ruling against injured Louisiana copNo, you can’t sue #BlackLivesMatter, judge says in ruling against injured Louisiana cop

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    OTTAWA—Conservative MP Candice Bergen said the Liberals should have protested when China denied her a visa to travel there with other parliamentarians this summer, instead of leaving her behind.

    The Opposition House leader was supposed to be among the MPs and senators on the Canada-China Legislative Association who travelled overseas Aug. 14 to 27. She was hoping to talk to Chinese politicians and government officials about Canadian canola exports and human rights.

    She said she was alarmed by some of the personal details China asked of those going on the trip, especially since they were travelling on special passports, so she decided to leave some information about her family out of the application.

    Read more: Trudeau urges Canadian companies to seek fortune in China

    China denied her visa a few days before the group was due to leave.

    “That was disappointing and shocking,” said Bergen, who pointed out she was a minister of state in the former Conservative government and had been to China before, in March 2016.

    What surprised her even more, she said, was that when she sent an email to others in the group asking whether they were going to do anything about it, such as cancelling the visit, she never heard back.

    “It was just crickets,” she said. “No word at all from anybody on the Liberal side and they all went on the trip.”

    Sen. Joseph Day, who co-chairs the Canada-China Legislative Association, said the group did push back on the invasive nature of the application form, but were told by Canadian and Chinese officials, as well as the politicians they later met on the trip, they did not have a choice if they wanted to go.

    “The Chinese were not flexible on that,” said Day.

    “It’s reflective of what other countries are asking for, including Canada, when people visit those countries, so they wouldn’t change it.”

    A spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland confirmed no one should expect special treatment.

    "All Canadians seeking to visit a foreign country should comply with the entry procedures required by that country," Adam Austen wrote in an email Friday.

    "No Canadian is obliged to fill out an application required to visit another country, however, they might be refused entry if they choose not to do so," he said. "Similarly, Canada expects that all visitors to our country comply with the appropriate laws and regulations."

    Still, Conservative MP Cathy McLeod said she also left out some information she did not feel comfortable disclosing.

    She said she was granted a visa anyway.

    Once she learned Bergen could not go, she decided to stay home too.

    Bergen said she eventually heard back from Day, who said China had the right to decide who to let in.

    She acknowledged that to be true, but suggested Canada would not bar an elected official.

    “Can you imagine that ever happening and the fallout from that?” she said.

    There was, in fact, a lot of controversy in 2009 when the Canadian Border Services Agency denied entry to George Galloway, then a British MP.

    Day said cancelling the trip would not have been fair to those who did complete their forms and wanted to keep building relationships with China.

    According to records provided by the Senate, the parliamentarians who did go were Day, Liberal MPs Geng Tan, Terry Sheehan, Terry Duguid and Majid Jowhari, New Democrat MP Jenny Kwan, Senate Liberal Percy Downe and Conservative Sen. Victor Oh.

    A spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa did not respond to a request for comment.

    Bergen said she thinks the lack of protest has more to do with the Liberal government’s efforts to secure a free trade deal with China.

    “This is how they negotiate and it seems the Liberals, even on something like this, don’t seem to have the fortitude to be able to stand up to China and stand up for Canadians and in this case, a Canadian parliamentarian,” she said.

    Bergen said she recently wrote to John McCallum, Canada’s ambassador to China, about the incident.

    Day said it is important to maintain relationships in China for all sorts of reasons, noting that members of the parliamentary group had done their part to help convince China to lift the ban on Canadian beef imports during previous visits.

    “You can only get that done through personal contacts and repeated visits. It doesn’t happen overnight,” he said.

    “So to say that ‘I don’t like your form that you’ve produced and I’m not going to tell you that information, and give me the visa anyway,’ it just doesn’t work,” he said. “We’d refuse a visa to the Chinese if they didn’t fill the form out.”


    Tory MP Candice Bergen says Liberals didn’t help after China denied her visaTory MP Candice Bergen says Liberals didn’t help after China denied her visa

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    A Toronto-area company’s upcoming video game called Dirty Chinese Restaurant is being denounced as racist, but the business says its product is meant as satire.

    Big-O-Tree Games says the game — in which players chase cats and dogs with a cleaver, scavenge for ingredients and dodge immigration officials — “in no way is meant to be an accurate representation of Chinese culture.”

    The Markham company says the game is coming out soon for Apple and Android devices but it has yet to announce a release date.

    A New York congresswoman this week urged all platforms not to carry the game or any other that “glorifies in hurting any community.”

    In a Facebook post on Monday, New York Rep. Grace Meng says the game “uses every negative and demeaning stereotype that I have ever come across as a Chinese American.”

    Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne also condemned the game on Twitter on Thursday, saying such racism has no place in Ontario.

    Big-O-Tree has issued two trailers for the game, which show the protagonist, Wong Fu, dumpster diving, evading tax collectors and sabotaging competitors.

    The videos begin with the company’s logo and the tagline, “Because being politically correct is so...boring.”

    The company defended the game in a statement posted on its website.

    “It has come to our attention that our small, independent game, Dirty Chinese Restaurant, has upset some people due to its content,” it said.

    “Our game is mainly satire and comedy influenced by the classic politically incorrect shows we grew up watching, such as: South Park, All in the Family, Sanford & Son, Family Guy, Simpsons, and Chappelle’s Show. We also listen to Jay-Z.”

    The company describes itself as a small independent game studio “making games no one thought possible” and says it strives “to create entertainment that we all want to experience which is fun, addictive, and hilarious.”


    Markham company’s ‘Dirty Chinese Restaurant’ mobile game denounced as racistMarkham company’s ‘Dirty Chinese Restaurant’ mobile game denounced as racist

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    A woman ordered to pay nearly $24,000 to the man she accused of sexual assault has lost her appeal.

    The woman’s lawyer, Jonathan Collings, questioned the Welland small claims court ruling, in part, because he accused the deputy judge of relying on “sexual stereotypes.”

    Deputy Judge David Black found the woman was unreliable and that she falsely accused her ex-boyfriend as revenge for perceived infidelity. She was ordered to pay $23,842 — a decision that has drawn sharp criticism from sexual assault survivor advocates who argued it will discourage victims from reporting to police. Collings had asked for the case to be dismissed.

    However, Ontario Superior Court Justice James Ramsay dismissed the appeal, arguing the deputy judge was “entitled” to believe him over her and that the 2016 decision was not “improper.”

    “I agree that (to) resort to any gender related misconceptions would have been erroneous, but I do not think that the judge made any such resort,” Ramsay’s written decision said.

    The original ruling is based on “the contradictions in her own statements,” he said.

    Collings declined to comment further, adding that he’s not retained on the matter anymore and is unaware of any plans to appeal further.

    The woman cannot be named because of a publication ban. The Spectator has chosen to also not name the man, who has declined to speak with The Spectator.

    The man, who represented himself at the hearing Sept. 8, argued the case has been a “nightmare.” He was charged criminally, but that charge was withdrawn at the preliminary hearing.

    Suzanne Mason, public education coordinator for the Niagara Sexual Assault Centre, attended part of the hearing and expressed shock at the decision.

    “That is very scary that you can go to police, have them believe you, have charges laid (and still be sued),” she said.

    The decision will have a “chilling effect” across Canada, where already only 5 per cent of victims report sexual assault, Mason said.

    The alleged incident happened at his residence in March 2011 at the end of an on-again, off-again relationship. She found a stain on his bed, which she said was peach lipstick from another woman, and he said was peach jam. She alleged that he then raped her. He said the sex was consensual.

    Black’s decision relied on texts and emails sent from the woman to the man following the incident that he ruled appear to indicate she “felt positively about the encounter.”

    Later messages turned angry, with the woman accusing the man of cheating on her, before she went to police.

    The deputy judge also relied on testimony from the woman’s doctor who examined her the next day and said she did not see bruising, despite the woman telling court she was sore all over.

    Experts point to a strong body of evidence that shows victims of sexual assault often don’t remember things clearly, don’t always seem upset and, when the attacker is someone who is known to them, may try to smooth things over.

    Lenore Lukasik-Foss, director of the Sexual Assault Centre Hamilton Area (SACHA), said the decision is part of a concerning trend toward victim blaming and relying on stereotypes.

    “There is always that worry around our judges not fully understanding the behaviour of survivors,” she said. “It’s not uncommon for them to make breakfast the next morning or email later.”

    This case also “feeds into the stereotype of the jilted girlfriend,” she said. “It plays into well-worn stereotypes of revenge-seeking women.”

    In truth, there are no more false reports of sexual assault than any other crime, Lukasik-Foss said. It’s the justice system that is “failing survivors.”


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    Hallelujah. Women in Saudi Arabia are going to drive. According to a new royal decree, the ultrareligious kingdom is ditching its long-standing ban on women drivers, granting Saudi women the right to get behind the wheel come June next year. But here’s the really extraordinary bit: not only will Saudi women be able to hit the road next summer, they will be able to drive alone.

    Of course there are still a great many things Saudi women can’t do alone — or at all. Since the kingdom’s announcement, many critics were quick to point out that despite its apparent change of heart on women behind the wheel, Saudi Arabia may remain only second to Margaret Atwood’s dystopia, the Republic of Gilead (of The Handmaid’s Tale) in its unapologetic oppression of the female gender.

    And they’re right. In Saudi Arabia, though a woman may soon be able to drive her family’s Honda Civic off the dealership lot, she is still prohibited from doing the following without a say-so from a male guardian: opening a bank account, getting married, getting divorced, having elective surgery, applying for a passport. Women in the kingdom aren’t allowed to socialize freely with members of the opposite sex and this one won’t surprise you: they must appear veiled in public at all times. All in all the Middle Eastern kingdom is a lousy place to be if you’re a lady, brand new Honda Civic or not.

    But the Honda Civic helps a lot. For proof we need only look to history. The car has always been a driving force in feminism not merely because it gives women freedom of movement but a place in which they can move and think at the same time absent interference from home and public life. In other words, under the new law Saudi women drivers will have access to a roving room of their own, or as historian Margaret Walsh put it in an essay about American women’s increased bent for driving in the decades after the invention of the car, they will have access to “the automobile as a type of second home.”

    This is no small thing. The right to be alone in a car isn’t just a win for practicality (under the new policy Saudi women will no longer have to rely on a male guardian or a paid driver to get to the grocery store). It’s psychologically liberating too because it affords women a type of privacy and solace previously only afforded to men. For anyone who believes that all a woman requires for peace and contentment is a hot bath in the evening, here’s Walsh to disabuse you of that notion: “As one farmwoman in the 1920s told an inspector from the United States Department of Agriculture who inquired why her family had bought a car rather than putting indoor plumbing into their home, ‘You can’t go to town in a bathtub.’”

    You can’t go sightseeing in a bathtub either. When women began driving in large numbers in the United States in the early 20th century, they didn’t just whip over to the store to pick up some groceries. They went exploring. “It is clear that many women sought and enjoyed the independence provided by the automobile and welcomed the opportunity to travel,” writes Martin Wachs, an engineering and planning professor in an essay called “The Automobile and Gender: An Historical Perspective.”

    “Many books appeared presenting accounts of women’s trips across country without men. For example, the first commercially successful book published by Emily Post, who later became a well-known authority on etiquette, was an account of her cross-country journey in an automobile.”

    In fact, despite male obsession with women-can’t-drive jokes, it was a woman, not a man, who embarked on what is believed to be the first ever road trip. German engineer Karl Benz is widely credited with inventing the original motor car in the late 1800s, but it was his wife Bertha Benz who actually thought to take the thing for a good long spin. The story goes that one morning in 1888, without his knowledge or permission, Mrs. Benz drove her husband’s car roughly 90 kilometres to visit her mother in another city. Not only was this the furthest anyone at the time had ever driven a car; Benz’s surprise road trip changed the way many people saw the automobile. “She proved the car was a tool, not a toy,” writes Andrew Frankel in a story about Benz published in the Telegraph earlier this year.

    Of course Saudi Arabia is a very different place than Europe or North America in the decades after the car was invented. Thanks to the country’s draconian male guardianship laws, it’s highly unlikely that come June, Saudi women will immediately take off with their husbands' convertibles and re-enact Thelma and Louise in the Arabian Desert. But the elimination of the driving ban is a major win for gender equality in the state because history shows us that when women take the wheel, all of us, men included, move forward.

    Emma Teitel is a national affairs columnist.


    Saudi reversal of female driving ban is a big win for gender equality: TeitelSaudi reversal of female driving ban is a big win for gender equality: Teitel

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    WASHINGTON—U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price resigned on Friday in the wake of the revelation that he had spent more than $400,000 of taxpayer money on private-plane flights and another $500,000 flying on military planes.

    Price, a longtime critic of federal spending, is the first member of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet to leave the tumultuous and error-plagued administration. Trump had previously fired or pressured out his national security adviser, chief of staff, chief strategist and FBI director.

    Trump said earlier Friday that he was “not happy” with Price and planned to make a decision later in the day about whether to fire him.

    Saying he had not been “sensitive enough to my concern for the taxpayer,” Price announced on Thursday that he would stop taking charter flights and repay what he said was the cost of his own seats on the private-plane flights: $51,887.

    But that did not satisfy critics, who noted that all of the costs for the flights, not just the cost of his seats, were incurred because he decided to fly private. Trump accepted his resignation on Friday afternoon, the White House announced in a statement.

    “I have spent forty years both as a doctor and public servant putting people first. I regret that the recent events have created a distraction from these important objectives,” Price told Trump in his resignation letter.

    Trump appointed Don Wright, director of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, as acting secretary.

    Price’s precedent-breaking flights on private planes, at least 26 of them in all, were revealed in a series of articles by the website Politico. They included a flight for Price get to an exclusive resort island where he owns property — two days before he delivered remarks to a nearby medical conference.

    Price also took a $25,000 flight from Washington to Philadelphia, a route that can be travelled by car or train in less than three hours and for less than $100.

    Price initially insisted he had done nothing wrong, though his predecessors have traditionally taken regular commercial flights.

    “This is Secretary Price, getting outside of D.C., making sure he is connected with the real American people,” Charmaine Yoest, his assistant secretary for public affairs, told the Washington Post. “Wasting four hours in an airport and having the secretary cancel his event is not a good use of taxpayer money.”

    But the inspector general for his department launched an investigation, and Trump said he was displeased.

    “I am not happy about it,” Trump said Wednesday. “I’m going to look at it. I am not happy about it and I let him know it.” On Friday, he called Price a “fine man” but reiterated his displeasure.

    The scandal had deepened on Thursday, when Politico reported that the White House had approved more than $500,000 in travel on military jets to Asia, Africa and Europe.

    Price is a former Georgia congressman. He played a significant role in the so-far-unsuccessful Republican push to replace Obamacare. He has also been involved in the effort to combat the national epidemic of opioid addiction.

    Price was merely one of four Trump cabinet members under scrutiny over their flying habits.

    The inspector general of the Treasury Department is investigating Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s August flight to Kentucky on a government jet for a trip that included time spent watching the solar eclipse. The inspector general is also probing Mnuchin’s alleged request to use a government jet for his honeymoon.

    Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt has taken at least four non-commercial flights, costing a total of more than $58,000, the Post reported Wednesday.

    And the Washington Post reported Thursday that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke billed taxpayers $12,375 for a flight from Las Vegas to his home state of Montana, on a private plane owned by oil executives, after a “motivational” speech to the Las Vegas NHL team owned by a significant donor to his previous congressional campaigns.


    Trump health secretary Tom Price resigns after spending $400,000 on private-plane flightsTrump health secretary Tom Price resigns after spending $400,000 on private-plane flights

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    Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders is expected to undergo a kidney transplant next week — and his wife will be the donor.

    As first reported by CTV News Toronto on Friday, the chief of the largest municipal police service in Canada will receive a kidney from his wife, Stacey Saunders, on Monday.

    Saunders was born with only one kidney, something he did not discover until later in life. Through routine blood work, he would later learn that the sole kidney was diseased.

    While he did not initially experience health problems, he eventually had to undergo kidney dialysis at home — a nightly ritual for the past 15 months.

    It’s not clear how long his recovery will take. While Saunders is recuperating, Deputy Chief James Ramer will step in as acting chief.

    Saunders told CTV that he is “seeing the finish line” after experiencing significant physical, emotional and mental challenges related to his condition.

    “I’m seeing being in a better place at the end of the day,” Saunders said, adding that his wife has “always been my rock.”

    Saunders had not previously revealed his kidney-related health problems, but went public this week in order to encourage people to sign up for the organ donation program.

    Mayor John Tory, who sits on the civilian Toronto police board, issued a statement Friday night, wishing Saunders and his wife a quick recovery and good health in the future.

    “Battling kidney disease while serving as the chief of police could not have been easy. It’s a testament to the chief’s strength and determination,” Tory said. “I know that will serve him well as he goes through this transplant procedure.”

    As news of the chief’s surgery spread, well wishes for a healthy recovery started pouring in over Twitter.

    “A ‘perfect match’ in more ways than one,” tweeted Staff Sgt. Darla Tannahill, who is Saunders’ executive officer. “(Saunders’) wife Stacey will be his living kidney donor #LoveStory.”

    Stacey Saunders told CTV she was “excited to help.”

    “I was excited to give him a chance to live the better life again,” she said. “I think when you’re sick for quite a while, you normalize it … you end up normalizing that you get hooked up to a machine every night. I think that becomes your world. I was so happy to be his donor, I did put my hand up right away.”

    Saunders, who is in his mid-50s, is a veteran Toronto police officer who was sworn in as chief in April 2015.

    Saunders has appeared in good health at events throughout the week, including the official introduction of a new Toronto police horse named Invictus to honour the ongoing

    Among those passing along good wishes was Terry Coleman, a former police chief in Moose Jaw, Sask., who now works as a public safety consultant. Coleman had a kidney transplant six weeks ago.

    “I had a great surgery and recovery,” Coleman said in an email. “My daughter was my donor. Please wish him well for me. I’ll be thinking of him.”

    Mike McCormack, president of the Toronto Police Association, said: “Our thoughts are with the chief and Stacey as they go through this challenging time. I’ve known Mark for 30 years and his strength is undeniable. Looking forward to his return.”


    Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders to undergo kidney transplantToronto police Chief Mark Saunders to undergo kidney transplant

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    OTTAWA—Ottawa says health programs for Indigenous peoples have “room for review” but is making no promises to halt a court case that has cost taxpayers $110,000 and counting — all to avoid paying a $6,000 bill for a teen’s braces.

    Jane Philpott, the former health minister recently appointed minister of Indigenous services, said through a spokesperson that “unacceptable” social and economic gaps facing Indigenous peoples, including health care, were the motivations in the establishment of her department.

    “As we move forward with the creation of this new department, we recognize that all programs and services for Indigenous peoples have room for review,” Andrew MacKendrick said in a statement.

    But the statement from Philpott’s office Friday was silent on the specific case that has raised the ire of critics, who say Ottawa is wasting tax dollars and falling down on its responsibility to look after the health of Indigenous children, all in a bid to avoid paying for a child’s orthodontic treatment.

    Read more:

    The long Liberal road to Indigenous reconciliation: Tim Harper

    Philpott urges doctors to help improve health of Canada’s ‘most vulnerable people’

    “It certainly gives me pause, as a lawyer, as a Canadian, as someone who works in this area, who cares about reconciliation,” said Toronto lawyer Sarah Clarke.

    Clarke has taken on the case — pro bono — of Josey Willier, a 16-year-old Indigenous girl from Alberta who suffered dental problems that caused her chronic pain.

    A dentist recommended orthodontic treatment, saying her problems will only worsen as she gets older to the point that she could require jaw surgery.

    The costs were not covered by the Alberta Health Insurance Plan, but the teen’s mother, Stacey Shiner, sought payment under a Health Canada program that provides coverage to First Nations and Inuit people.

    Yet while the teen was in pain, suffered headaches and took medication daily, Health Department bureaucrats determined that her condition was not serious enough to warrant braces, dismissing the initial application for coverage and all subsequent appeals.

    Despite the refusals, her mother went ahead and had the orthodontic work done.

    When her attempts to be reimbursed for her costs were rebuffed by the federal government, Shiner took the claim to Federal Court, facing off against Justice Department lawyers.

    In a May ruling, Federal Court Justice Sean Harrington dismissed the mother’s claim for a judicial review.

    “I find the decision that Josey’s condition was not covered by the policy was reasonable and that the procedure followed was fair,” he wrote.

    “The whole point of the dental policy is to benefit children. If there are those who think the policy does not go far enough, redress should be sought from Health Canada or Parliament, not the courts,” Harrington said.

    The family has appealed the case to the Federal Court of Appeal and Ottawa shows no signs of backing down.

    Clarke said they want to know if a child’s pain and suffering should have any bearing on whether the treatment is covered, especially since government lawyers did not dispute the teen’s discomfort in this case.

    “Decision-makers make mistakes. It happens all the time … the question becomes now that you have all this information and now that we’re all looking at this with hindsight … why are we still fighting about this?” Clarke said.

    Ottawa’s legal bill for the case — first revealed by CBC News — was $110,336 for the period from January 2016 to April 2017. The ongoing legal challenge means that tally will only grow.

    “That bill will go up. They have to review our factum, they’ve got to prepare their own factum, they need to prepare for the hearing, they need to attend the hearing. All of that costs time and money,” Clarke said.

    It’s a case that tests the boasts by Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government about ensuring equality for Canada’s Indigenous peoples, said Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society.

    “What I want to see is real change on the ground in children’s lives. Unfortunately so far there has been a lot of symbolism, a lot of statements but not a lot of action,” Blackstock said in an interview.

    It’s not an isolated case. The Star revealed in June that Ottawa had spent $707,000 in legal fees since January 2016 fighting a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal order that insisted the government stop discriminating against Indigenous children in health and social services.

    The Liberals themselves last fall backed a motion in the House of Commons that called on the government to comply with that ruling.

    “I measure reconciliation at the level of children. What I see is this ongoing litigation,” Blackstock said.

    The decision to mount a legal battle made no sense, she said, either medically — to deter the teen from getting necessary orthodontic work — or financially for taxpayers.

    New Democrat MP Charlie Angus said it’s “absolutely perverse” that the federal government devotes time and money to blocking health services to Indigenous children.

    “This is the real face of reconciliation,” said Angus.

    “We have a government that goes out and tells Canadians that they’re building a brand new relationship. But they’re following the same pattern that’s gone on for decades, which is to deny children rights and fight them in court all the way if necessary.”

    With files from Julien Gignac


    Ottawa racks up $110,000 in legal bills to avoid paying for teen’s $6,000 bracesOttawa racks up $110,000 in legal bills to avoid paying for teen’s $6,000 braces

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    There are eternal optimists. Then there are stubborn optimists.

    After his talk in Toronto on Friday, Barack Obama pleaded for optimism, even though his own is now “leavened by the recognition that progress can reverse itself.”

    What other option is there, really?

    “In many ways this is both the worst of times and the best of times,” the 44th U.S. president said in a youth-focused talk to more than 2,000 people (my estimate) at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

    “If you had to choose a moment in history to be born, and you didn’t know ahead of time who you were … you’d choose right now. This moment.”

    That kind of inspiring message was what a group of youngsters from Etobicoke/Rexdale had come to hear after community organizer Marcia Brown, who runs youth program Trust 15 persuaded the organizers Canada2020 for free tickets so the students being groomed for leadership would see their hero.

    When I asked them what they were looking for, the word “inspiration” popped up every time. One student said “empathy.”

    “There’s not a lot of empathy going around the world,” said 16-year-old Devang Ghosh. “Barack Obama is the perfect example of someone who portrays empathy. I want to be like him.”

    Read more:

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

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

    Toronto is becoming a sanctuary city for U.S. politicians: Menon

    For them, there was more from Papa O.

    “Despite all the challenges that we face, despite all the bad news that we see flashing across our screens, if you ask yourself when has humanity across the board been wealthiest, healthiest, most educated, most tolerant, least violent, the moment would be now.”

    But what about the bad news, the xenophobia, the racism, the broken promises on climate change, the threat to walk away from NAFTA?

    He kept it classy.

    Zero was the number of times Obama mentioned Donald Trump in his 60 minutes with the audience (except in passing, once, as in “Obama-Trump voters”).

    For four years, but especially in the waning weeks of his second term, I waited for Obama to rise up and throw off the yoke of having to appear in control lest he trigger the angry Black man stereotype. I waited for him to pull off a Martin Luther King-like speech from the conclusion of the Selma March of 1965, to rise up and inspire and warn of the dangers of what Trump stood for.

    But, as the author Ta-Nehisi Coates has written, Obama was too optimistic to even consider the possibility of a Trump win.

    Even on Friday, Obama insisted on focusing on working class voters and “hearing what they have to say,” although polls show that most white voters of all ages, genders and education levels backed Trump.

    I waited, again, for him to take the gloves off — yes, you can, man. He never did.

    No-drama Obama was not just a presidential veneer. I can’t tell if it is iron will or born of detachment or if he just floats on moral ether outside our grasp. It is him. I find that at once immensely admirable and incredibly unsatisfying.

    Oh, he alluded to the toxicity of today plenty of times. Once he said, “If leaders are promoting our worst impulses rather than our best, nations can turn on themselves.”

    Another time, “I’m an old-fashioned guy. I like the Enlightenment and reason and logic and facts.”

    Perhaps the snarkiest remark, if you can call it that, was when he spoke about his beloved health-care legacy. “You (Canada) don’t seem to be having a debate about your health-care system. We’re on our 62nd vote to repeal and replace it with something.”

    Among the five ideas he outlined to “rearrange our politics,” the first three were: focus on economic equality; work on international co-operation, especially on climate change; and harness diplomacy and nurture alliances to deal with threats such as North Korea.

    I found the last two of particular interest. They were on immigration and information bubbles.

    “We’re going to have to work to rebuild consensus to openness to immigrants and refugees,” he said. “In America, immigrants start about 30 per cent of all new businesses. But what we also have to recognize is that new immigrants can, in some circumstances, in certain markets, compete for services and construction jobs that previously had gone to low wage workers in those areas … And when folks feel that immigration is not orderly or fair, then it puts at risk our ability to sustain our future as a nation of immigrants.”

    See, there it was again. That gentle push to look at it from the other guy’s point of view. He’s right, of course. That is what we need right now. Is that what we want to hear right now? That brings us to point No. 5.

    “The fact that we are so connected also makes it easier for us to retreat into our own information bubbles, to listen to people who think just like we do, to never challenge our own assumptions.

    “We’re going to have to find ways to push back on propaganda, to cultivate and lift up independent journalism, but also to train ourselves to listen to those with whom we disagree to ultimately work to bridge differences.”

    For the youth listening, his words filled them with hope.

    For 15-year-old Hailey Toussaint, “to see him in person, the first Black president, is very inspirational because to me he also represents change.”

    For Jason Owusu, 21, “Now that I get the chance to actually see him and hear him talk, I feel like it’s going to really inspire me and get me to drive myself even more.”

    For youth like them, Obama urged active citizenship.

    “I’ve often said the arc of the moral universe bends towards justice, quoting Dr. King, but it doesn’t do so on its own. It requires those of us of good will to grab hold of that arc and pull it in the direction of justice.”

    Towards the end, Obama acknowledged his optimism is hard earned. “It is not a naiveté. It is an optimism that is based on the record of human achievement and progress. But it is leavened by the recognition that progress can reverse itself. It can go backwards … If people are unwilling to try to build trust with those who look differently or worship differently or love differently than they do, then you get less done.

    “We haven’t evolved so much that the possibilities of what we saw during World War II couldn’t recur.”

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


    Obama’s eternal optimism was on display in Toronto: ParadkarObama’s eternal optimism was on display in Toronto: Paradkar

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    A high-stakes dispute over the minimum wage is a testament to how our elites play policy games with the lives of working people.

    The ideological divide is not just right versus left and business versus labour. At its core, the disagreement pits economists against themselves.

    We have dialed up the minimum wage to maximum volume, leaving low-wage earners as a political afterthought. Dangling on the poverty line at $11.40 an hour.

    On one side, big bank economists and business mouthpieces are warning of an economic cataclysm if Ontario hikes the minimum wage to $14 an hour next year, and by another $1 the year after that. TD Bank and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce are leading the charge, relying on muscular rhetoric disguised as rigorous research.

    The chamber’s predilection for alarmist predictions is entirely predictable, coming from a group whose president is a former Progressive Conservative candidate, whose vice-president worked in the PC leader’s office, and whose members want to be dragged kicking and screaming into the age of the living wage. They joined up with other like-minded groups to hire a dubiously dismal economic forecasting group that claimed 185,000 jobs were “at risk.”

    TD Bank came up with its own estimate of 50,000 to 150,000 jobs lost by the end of the decade, noting its own “rough estimates are consistent” with those of others — even though they aren’t. The impact will be “acerbated” by the speed of the wage hikes, the bank added gravely.

    (That conclusion sent me speedily to my dictionary. Acerbated is defined as exasperated — not to be confused with exacerbated, which means worsen. This is why muddled bank economists leave me puzzled.)

    On the other side, university economists and big labour have led a counterattack in defence of an increase. They point out that business is relying excessively on econometric modelling at a time when the model is badly broken.

    Recent empirical research shows the impact of past wage hikes has been relatively neutral, retrospective proof that is surely more persuasive than speculative modelling that tries to predict the future with improbable precision.

    Caught in the middle is the legislature’s Financial Accountability Office (FAO), which warned that 50,000 jobs could be at stake from paying poor people more. The FAO is supposed to keep a close eye on the government’s financial accounting and accountability — notably “the province’s finances, including the budget, and trends in the provincial and national economies.” Why the FAO, on its own initiative, opted to speculate on minimum-wage policy — as opposed to fiscal facts — is an interesting question for a fledgling organization that has repeatedly been proven wrong in its deficit predictions.

    The bigger problem with the FAO and TD researchers is that they recycle outdated data and unreliable models to forecast typhoons on the horizon, ignoring the evidence in front of them. What does the rest of the economic world really think will happen, plus or minus?

    “One constituency that has mostly declined to join this chorus of boos has been professional economists,” noted a distinguished group of them in a recent commentary (full disclosure — one of the authors, Lars Osberg, taught me labour economics at university). They cite recent hikes in the U.S. with “no credible evidence that this clear trend in labour policy is hurting job creation.”

    The reason? It turns out that high-wage employers benefit from reduced turnover, lower recruitment costs, and greater productivity. That’s why more than 40 economists also signed an open letter cautioning against “fear-mongering that is out of line with the latest economic research” that shows a negligible “disemployment” effect.

    “There is no consensus against raising the minimum wage among our profession; indeed, the emerging understanding is quite the opposite,” they conclude.

    At a time when the provincial unemployment rate has plunged to the lowest level in 16 years — 5.8 per cent last month — business interests want us to believe that we can’t afford it? To put the doomsday scenarios in perspective, Statistics Canada reported Ontario has gained 154,000 jobs in the past year.

    Another bank, RBC, predicts Ontario’s economy will expand “at a rapid clip” after years of strong growth that has led the country and much of the industrialized world. If not now on wages, when?

    Target, the American retailing giant, announced Monday it will raise its base wage to $11 ($13.71 Canadian) next month, and $15 (Canadian $18.70) by 2020. What are we waiting for — Walmart?

    A New York Times analysis speculated that Target may be “trying to convince consumers that it is a good corporate citizen before lawmakers try to push up the timeline for minimum wage increases.”

    Would that our own business sector were wise to those prevailing winds.

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


    Why business and banks hate the minimum wage: CohnWhy business and banks hate the minimum wage: Cohn

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    Half of Ontarians believe recreational marijuana should be regulated like alcohol, a new poll suggests.

    Forum Research found 50 per cent of respondents want the government to treat cannabis like alcohol.

    That’s encouraging news to Premier Kathleen Wynne’s administration, which will restrict the sale of legalized weed to 150 standalone LCBO-run stores

    “It seems the government’s marijuana plan may be on point,” said Forum president Lorne Bozinoff.

    The province runs the 660-store Liquor Control Board of Ontario retail chain, which has a monopoly on the sale of spirits. The LCBO also sells beer and wine, though both are available at private outlets, such as select supermarkets, specialty wine kiosks, and Beer Store outlets.

    About a third — 32 per cent — of those polled said marijuana should be regulated like tobacco, which is sold mostly by private-sector outlets, such as convenience stores. Another 18 per cent did not know.

    Using interactive voice response telephone calls, Forum surveyed 801 people across the province on Wednesday and Thursday with results considered accurate to within three percentage points 19 times out of 20.

    The firm also asked about the Ontario government’s recent trial balloon that the retail price of marijuana should be $10 a gram once it’s legalized next July.

    More than a quarter — 27 per cent — said it is “reasonable” while 17 per cent said that price is “unreasonable” and 55 per cent were not sure.

    But of the 106 respondents who said they are regular marijuana users, 59 per cent said $10 a gram is “reasonable,” 28 per cent said it’s “unreasonable,” and 13 per cent didn’t know.

    “Those consumers think that the rumoured price of $10 per gram is pretty good,” said Bozinoff.

    The Forum survey comes two weeks after a Campaign Research poll found 51 per cent back the plan to have recreational marijuana sold solely through the LCBO-run stores and website.

    About a third — 35 per cent — of those in that poll oppose the idea and 14 per cent had no opinion.

    The Campaign Research online poll of a panel of 1,133 Ontario voters was conducted Sept. 8-11.With a sample of that size it would be considered accurate to within 2.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.


    Half of Ontarians want weed regulated like booze: PollHalf of Ontarians want weed regulated like booze: Poll

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    On paper Che Marville was a stellar election candidate, and she was certainly no stranger to high-profile politics.

    The prominent health and wellness advocate and mother of four has held leadership positions for the provincial and federal New Democrats and has a York University degree in political science. Politics even runs in the family — her uncle is Ovid Jackson, a former Liberal MP.

    That’s part of why the longtime Oakville resident decided to carry the NDP’s banner — albeit unsuccessfully — in the 2014 provincial election and again federally in 2015.

    But Marville won’t be making another bid for public office anytime soon, mirroring a trend among would-be female politicians that a one-of-a-kind research project seeks to analyze with data that suggest as women and racialized minorities chug through the political pipeline — from aspirant to candidate to MP — their prospects narrow, whereas the opposite occurs for white men.

    For women, the toughest hurdle is at the nomination level, the first checkpoint into the political realm.

    Racialized minorities come up against barriers further along, beginning at the candidate selection stage.

    That’s according to Erin Tolley, who teaches political science at the University of Toronto.

    Tolley is among the first to map the race and gender of more than 800 people vying for a political party’s nomination ahead of the 2015 vote in 136 of the country’s most diverse ridings, where racialized minorities make up at least 15 per cent of the population, half of which are in Ontario. (Her tally uses Statistics Canada’s definition of “visible minority” and therefore does not include Indigenous nomination contestants or candidates.)

    Wannabe politicians must first successfully compete for their choice party’s nomination in order to become the candidate in an election.

    Though Tolley’s project is still in the works, early findings suggest political parties aren’t doing enough to diversify the pool of candidates.

    “The dynamics for women and racialized minorities are different,” she said. “That’s important for parties to know because they therefore need to have different strategies if they want to attract and want to run women or racialized minority candidates.”

    Women make up 52 per cent of the population, but only accounted for 33 per cent of nomination contestants across those 136 ridings. The proportion of female election candidates ticked up slightly, to 36 per cent, and 31 per cent of elected MPs in those districts were women.

    That suggests women are less likely to throw their hat in the ring, but once they do, they fare well.

    “Maybe women don’t want to run, they don’t want to be called ‘Barbies,’ for example,” Tolley said, citing veteran MP Gerry Ritz’s now-deleted and apologized-for recent tweet that referred to Environment Minister Catherine McKenna as “climate Barbie.”

    Tolley put the onus on political parties.

    “Political parties don’t do sufficient work to identify women candidates and encourage them to run,” she said. “Frankly, not enough fingers are pointed at political parties. We don’t need to change the electoral system to get women into politics. All parties need to do is nominate more women. It’s actually pretty simple.”

    Racialized minorities don’t experience the same obstacle.

    According to the data, minorities declare their candidacy in proportions that match their presence in the population. However, by the time Canadians go to the polls the share of MPs of colour is far below that.

    “They want to be nomination contestants, but then the party is less likely to select them, and voters are even less likely to select them,” Tolley said.

    Across the 136 ridings, racialized minorities comprised 38 per cent of the population and 37 per cent of nomination contestants. That dwindled to 33 per cent of election candidates, and to 29 per cent of MPs — an eight-point gap between the number of hopeful nominees and those who won a seat on the Hill.

    A contributing factor is one Tolley has previously explored — that minority candidates tend to compete against each other in battleground districts.

    That’s because racialized minorities are more likely to run, and win, in more diverse ridings, Tolley said. For instance, three candidates of colour may vie for their party’s nomination in an ethnically-rich district, and split the ballot.

    “So, you have this big pool of people who are interested, but they’re competing against each other, essentially cancelling each other out — and that’s happening at each level,” she explained.

    As for white men, their political possibilities widen.

    Thirty-nine per cent of nomination contestants in those diverse ridings were white men, and they comprised 40 per cent of candidates on the ticket. Nearly half, 48.5 per cent, of those who won a seat were white males.

    Marville’s aversion to entering the political arena again is to the “corporate mentality” of a campaign. She isn’t hanging up her hat because of back-to-back losses but rather what she considers a “laziness” that is endemic to all major parties and that stifles grassroots democracy, citizen engagement and diverse voices.

    “A (political) party’s structure is not designed to really reach as many people as possible. It is designed to reach those who are already engaged and to put forward a brand and to put forward a strategic campaign . . . That doesn’t seem like politics to me,” Marville said.

    Marville was acclaimed twice but said she was never naive about her prospects. She ran and lost in Oakville, which has never in its history elected a New Democrat to Queen’s Park or Parliament Hill. Marville said she was asked to run where she may have a better shot, but she refused because she wanted to represent her neighbours and community.

    What institutional obstacles may impede women and minorities in politics is what the second phase of Tolley’s research seeks uncover.

    On election day, and broken down by the three main political parties in those 136 ridings, 47 per cent of the NDP’s candidates were women. The Conservative ticket comprised 24 per cent women, while the Liberal party had 36 per cent female candidates.

    Meanwhile, 35 per cent of Tory contenders, 38 per cent of Grit candidates and 27 per cent of NDP contestants had racialized minority backgrounds.

    Each party tailors its own recruitment process.

    The NDP sets a 50-per-cent target for female election candidates, falling shy of its goal in 2015 with 43 per cent overall, also the highest in the party’s history.

    But quotas don’t automatically translate to proportional representation on the Hill, noted Marit Stiles, president of the federal NDP who is herself running for a provincial seat in Davenport next year.

    “When it’s a winnable riding, what you see is, largely, a lot of men in powerful positions that want to run there,” she said, adding that’s something all parties grapple with.

    “How do we ensure that we are putting those (diverse) candidates in ridings where they can win, (that) they’re not fringe ridings where we don’t have a hope in hell,” she said.

    Anna Gainey, president of the federal Grits, said she doesn’t anticipate implementing hard targets for that very concern. Instead, she trumpeted the Liberals’ “Invite her to run” initiative.

    According to the party, nearly one-quarter of female nomination contestants and candidates said they chose to run in 2015 at least in part because of that campaign, in which average Canadians could nominate women they thought would make good public servants that the party would then reach out to.

    The Tories maintain a merit-based approach, said spokesman Cory Hann.

    “We of course encourage women and people of all kinds of backgrounds to seek out nominations in our party, but the membership ultimately chooses the candidate they want to represent them — that is democracy,” Hann said.


    Why Canada’s political pipeline leaves little room for anyone but white menWhy Canada’s political pipeline leaves little room for anyone but white men

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    American tastemaker John Jacob Astor IV, the wealthiest passenger on the Titanic and founder of the five-star St. Regis hotel in New York City, perished in 1912 when the ship struck an iceberg and sank in the North Atlantic.

    Astor’s style-setting legacy, and hotel standards, live on and are coming to Toronto in a way that will join the city skyline. His St. Regis brand will illuminate the former Trump International Hotel and Tower Toronto at 325 Bay St. — currently operating as the Adelaide Hotel.

    The 65-storey hotel and residence will be rechristened St. Regis Toronto after an extensive renovation for a new look, new amenities and a new vibe. It will be the first St. Regis Hotel in Canada.

    Seventy-four residential condominium suites, known as the St. Regis Residences Toronto, were to be offered for sale starting Sept. 28. The units, from 1,200 square feet up to 12,000 square feet, are priced from $1.6 million to $23 million.

    JFC Capital acquired the Trump Tower’s 211 hotel units, 74 condos and amenity space this past March. In the previous 10 years, the Trump hotel had been plagued by construction delays, lawsuits, loan defaults and protests from people unhappy with the new American president. Donald Trump’s company never owned the Toronto tower but licensed out the name and managed the property.

    JCF bought out the Trump management contracts this past June and sold the hotel to InnVest Hotels, one of Canada’s largest hotel portfolio holders. The hotel will be operated by Marriott International under its St. Regis brand, known for luxury, impeccable service and innovation. JCF retained ownership of the residential condo suites. (There are 118 condo residences in all; 42 had been sold before the JCF acquisition and one has been sold since).

    “This was a unique opportunity,” says Jay Wolf of JCF Capital about the Trump Tower acquisition. “It was an exceptional asset in the heart of the third largest real estate market in North America. That type of opportunity doesn’t come around every day.”

    Tim Terceira, general manager of the St. Regis Residences Toronto and the Adelaide Hotel, says condo residents will enjoy the privileges of being connected to a five-star hotel and will have a dedicated director of residences.

    “Our job is to make sure this is the best investment in their lifestyle they’ve ever made,” says Terceira. “We will get to know them as appropriate and make them feel at home. The service will be gracious, intuitive and prestigious.”

    A personal butler will assist residents with everything from arranging theatre tickets to organizing their daily itinerary. A private chauffeured car will be available. They’ll have access to the hotel’s amenities and services, including restaurant, bar, fitness centre, spa and room service, with preferred pricing.

    The original hotel staff — including housekeepers and front office workers — has been retained. The restaurant, bar and spa, that had been contracted to third party operators, will now be operated and controlled by the hotel management. Guillaume Robin, former executive sous chef at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Naples, Florida, is now in charge of the kitchen.

    “From a service perspective, this hotel is already a four- or five-star and the staff understands luxury,” says Terceira. “What we will be doing is bringing the culture of the St. Regis, its processes and rituals.” Those rituals include Afternoon Tea, Midnight Supper and Sunset Sabrage, where a ceremonial sabre is used to open champagne bottles.

    The hotel lobby, amenity spaces, bar and restaurant will be refurbished before the hotel is rebranded as the St. Regis and are still in the planning stage. However, the residential condo suites in the Astor Collection have been updated and two model suites created by Toronto interior designer Ann Johnston.

    “I’ve created transitional spaces that are more refined, not as theatrical, as they were,” says Johnston. “We also want to appeal to a new generation of multinational luxury travellers.”

    She’s opted for contemporary furnishings and neutral palettes that mix textures, with a few punches of jewel-toned hues. Light fixtures and countertops have been replaced and hardwood floors have been refinished to a modern, warm grey tone.

    The condo suites feature coffered ceilings in foyer and principal rooms, hardwood flooring and wainscotting, electric fireplaces, Downsview kitchen cabinetry, Miele appliances and recessed halogen lighting.

    “There has been a lot of interest in the suites, and the original developer did a clever job of designing a building on a tight lot,” says Kate Hay of JCF Capital. “It’s a prime location in the financial district ... There are a lot of condos for sale in the luxury space, but what’s different with these is you don’t have to buy off plans and are able to walk through the actual suites.”

    Buyers of the Astor Collection suites — named for John Jacob Astor IV — will receive a furniture package from Elte, initiation and membership in the private National Club and two years of free valet parking for two cars. They will also enjoy a favoured St. Regis ritual by attending a polo match in an international destination.

    “Toronto, like most major metropolitan markets, tends to have a very sophisticated clientele that appreciate and demand this level of services,” says Wolf of JCF Capital. “One of the things I find really compelling is the story of the St. Regis brand and it has an impact on everything we do. It’s steeped in tradition and quiet luxury, and is the perfect brand for this building.”


    ST. REGIS RESIDENCES

    Location: 325 Bay St.

    Description: 73 residential condominiums within a 65-storey luxury hotel that was formerly Trump International Hotel and Tower Toronto. The hotel is currently operating as the Adelaide Hotel and will be rebranded as Canada’s first St. Regis Hotel.

    Architect: Zeidler Partnership Architects

    Interior designer: Ann Johnston (model suites and Astor Collection suites)

    Suite sizes: 1,200 to 12,000 square feet

    Prices: $1.6 million to $23 million

    Suite features: Coffered ceilings, minimum ceiling heights of 10 feet, marble and hardwood flooring, electric fireplaces, separate showers and stand-alone tubs, heated bathroom floors, Downsview kitchen cabinetry, Miele stainless steel appliances.

    Amenities: Access to all hotel amenities including bar, restaurant, spa, pool, fitness centre, housekeeping and room services at preferred pricing. Residence-only Sky Lobby on the 32nd floor. Twenty-four hour concierge, personal butler, valet parking (two years free), chauffeured car service.


    St. Regis moves in on Toronto’s Trump TowerSt. Regis moves in on Toronto’s Trump Tower

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    Toronto police have identified a man who died after being shot in the chest Friday night behind Sheridan Mall, the second fatal shooting at the North York mall in the last month.

    John Trevor Paul, a 32-year-old from Toronto, was found with a life-threatening gunshot wound at the rear entrance of the mall at Jane St. and Wilson Ave. just before 8 p.m. He died from his injuries in hospital.

    Paul is Toronto’s 43rd homicide victim of 2017.

    Police are now searching for four suspects, said Toronto police Const. Allyson Douglas-Cook.

    The shooting happened a month after Jovane Clarke, 22, was shot and killed inside the same mall as shoppers scurried for safety. Police said Clarke was being pursued by four people, two of whom opened fire.

    Two days later, on Sept. 2, Awad Hurre, 44 was shot and killed in an apartment complex at Tandridge Cres. and Arcot Blvd., not far from the mall. Police said they were looking for links between the two fatal shootings as Clarke also lived in that same apartment building,

    Toronto police Const. Jenifferjit Sidhu said it is too early in the investigation to say whether the latest incident is related to the two previous shootings, however, police are looking into all possibilities.

    With files from Annie Arnone and Bryann Aguilar


    Man shot dead outside Sheridan MallMan shot dead outside Sheridan Mall

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    BRANCHBURG, N.J.—U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday lashed out at the mayor of San Juan and other officials in storm-ravaged Puerto Rico, contemptuous of their claims of a laggard U.S. response to the natural disaster that has imperiled the island’s future.

    “Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help,” Trump said in a series of tweets a day after the capital city’s mayor appealed for help “to save us from dying.”

    “They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort,” Trump wrote from his New Jersey golf club.

    Read the latest news on U.S. President Donald Trump

    The tweets amounted to a biting response to San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, who had accused the Trump administration of “killing us with the inefficiency” after Hurricane Maria. She implored the president, who is set to visit the U.S. territory on Tuesday, to “make sure somebody is in charge that is up to the task of saving lives.”

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    “We are dying, and you are killing us with the inefficiency,” Cruz said at a news conference, her voice breaking with rage. “I am begging, begging anyone that can hear us, to save us from dying.”

    Trump has pledged to spare no effort to help Puerto Rico recover from Maria’s ruinous aftermath, and tweeted that military personnel and first responders have done “an amazing job,” despite having “no electric, roads, phones etc.”

    Puerto Rico, he said, “was totally destroyed,” and “10,000 Federal workers now on the island are doing a fantastic job.”

    Natural disasters often bring the country together. But Trump used Twitter to accuse Cruz of partisan politics.

    “The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump,” the president charged, without substantiation.

    Critics have accused Trump of showing more concern for the people of Texas and Florida, whose lives were also upended by major hurricanes this season. Trump repeatedly praised those citizens as strong and resilient, declaring at one point that Texas could “handle anything.”

    Thousands more Puerto Ricans have received water and rationed food as an aid bottleneck has begun to ease. Telecommunications are back for about 30 per cent of the island, nearly half of the supermarkets have reopened at least for reduced hours and about 60 per cent of the gas stations are pumping. But many remain desperate for necessities, most urgently water, long after the Sept. 20 hurricane.

    Trump is scheduled to spend an hour Saturday checking in by phone with FEMA Administrator Brock Long, Puerto Rico’s governor, Ricardo Rosselló, and other local officials. He’ll also speak with the governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands, which have received less attention, but were also ravaged by the storms.

    Trump’s Saturday tweets are the latest example of his insistence on “punching back,” even against those with far less power. After a deadly terror attack in London in June, Trump singled out London Mayor Sadiq Khan, suggesting he wasn’t taking the attacks seriously enough in a tweet that misconstrued Khan’s words.

    During his campaign, Trump also picked fights with a Gold Star family and a former beauty queen who publicly supported his Democratic rival.

    Cruz declined to engage in the tit-for-tat, instead calling for a united focus on the people who need help. “The goal is one: saving lives. This is the time to show our ‘true colours.’ We cannot be distracted by anything else,” she tweeted, along with photos of herself meeting with residents and rescue workers, wading hip-deep through a flooded street and comforting an elderly woman.

    Trump said Friday that Puerto Rico is “totally unable” to handle the catastrophe on its own. “They are working so hard, but there’s nothing left,” he said. “It’s been wiped out.” He said the government is “fully engaged in the disaster and the response and recovery effort.”

    Yet even in voicing solidarity and sympathy with Puerto Rico, he drew attention again to the island’s debt burden and infrastructure woes, leaving doubt about how far Washington will go to make the U.S. territory whole.

    “Ultimately the government of Puerto Rico will have to work with us to determine how this massive rebuilding effort — it will end up being one of the biggest ever — will be funded and organized, and what we will do with the tremendous amount of existing debt already on the island,” he said. “We will not rest, however, until the people of Puerto Rico are safe.”

    During this season’s trio of monster hurricanes — Harvey, Irma, Maria — Trump and his administration have drifted into the perilous territory of premature self-congratulation in the face of unfolding catastrophe, seemingly unmindful of the “Brownie moment” that scarred George W. Bush’s presidency.

    Bush famously told his emergency management director, Michael Brown, “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job” during what proved to be a tragically inept federal response to deadly Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

    Trump has repeatedly boasted about the positive reviews he said his administration was getting from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands for its relief effort, even as people in remote towns struggle to find food, water and other basics. Then Trump’s acting Homeland Security secretary, Elaine Duke, called the federal relief effort a “good-news story” because of “our ability to reach people and the limited number of deaths.”

    “Let me clarify,” she said Friday upon her arrival in Puerto Rico to survey the damage. She said she meant “it was good news that people of Puerto Rico and many public servants of the United States are working together.”

    Cruz responded, “This is a people-are-dying story.”


    ‘They want everything to be done for them’: Trump lashes out at desperate Puerto Rico officials‘They want everything to be done for them’: Trump lashes out at desperate Puerto Rico officials

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    The happy couple — event planner Esther Katzman and food writer Suresh Doss — were expected to host the perfect wedding.

    Indeed, a month before the big day, every detail was in place — the remote Niagara estate was booked, the elaborate vanilla-ginger and chocolate-hazelnut cakes were ordered and the embroidered parasols from India were ready to be hung in the dining tent.

    And then their caterer ghosted them.

    “I’ve worked with chefs in the past and knew that a lot of them didn’t check emails and preferred to keep their head down,” Doss said. “But when it came down to the three and four weeks before the wedding, we were in a bit of a panic mode,” he admitted.

    “The first thing people said to us when we were sending invites was that the food and drinks were going to be amazing,” said Katzman, 31, a senior account manager with event and marketing company Mosaic. “I had people ask if they could buy a ticket to the wedding.”

    But with the wedding less than a month away, they had no food to serve their 128 guests.

    “The anxiety was growing and I told Esther that we needed to make a drastic decision,” said Doss, 39. He called off the original caterer and with the last-minute help of a few of the city’s best chefs and old friends in the food industry, the race wason to create a multi-course feast for 130 guests at a remote backyard venue in just 12 days.

    Doss is the print editor of the Toronto edition of Foodism magazine and the new host of a weekly food segment on CBC’s Metro Morning that explores the GTA’s multicultural food spots. He leads private food tours introducing diners to international cuisines at family-run restaurants tucked away in the vastness of GTA’s suburbs. So, while food is an important part of most weddings, the pressure to have good food was paramount.

    In late July, after the caterer fell through, Doss ran into his friend Carl Heinrich, chef and co-owner of downtown’s farm-to-table restaurant Richmond Station. The chef casually offered to help any way that he could. Days later,Doss fired off a late-night email to Heinrich asking if he could cater the event, which happened to be taking place on one of the busiest wedding weekends of the summer.

    “We didn’t have the staff to do it, maybe if he asked us six months ago, but I told him I’ll see what I could do,” Heinrich said. He was keen on making sure there would be food at their wedding. After calling around to different chefs and caterers without any luck, Heinrich stepped up.

    “When a friend needs help, I’m going to do what I can,” Heinrich said. “He’s always been supportive of my career, so we turned it into a collaborative food event, which is always fun for a chef to do.”

    Heinrich rounded up Richmond Station’s general manager Jenn Hornak and three chef friends who happened to be free that weekend: Jesse Vallins of the Maple Leaf Tavern, Heinrich’s fellow Top Chef Canada Season 2 competitor Trista Sheen and his former sous chef, Alex White, now the chef at Niagara College’s Benchmark restaurant.

    The chefs divided and conquered, hashing out a menu of dishes that could be assembled quickly on site using ingredients they already had, or could easily source such as carrots, fennel, zucchini and radish from Heinrich’s bounty grown at the 100-acre organic farm, called the New Farm near Creemore, Ont.

    Eight days before the wedding, Heinrich emailed the couple the first draft of the menu — including quinoa and corn lettuce wraps with soybean hummus, scallop crudo, duck liver pate on toasted brioche, and pork and rabbit terrine to start. Doss and Katzman were elated with the menu that spoke to their love of local produce and tapas-style dining.

    With the main menu attended to, the Sri Lankan-born Doss concentrated on finding a caterer to make hoppers, sweet and savoury crepes made from a batter of rice flour and coconut and cooked in a wok.

    “We kept striking out because a lot of these guys aren’t used to cooking on such a big scale or could make the drive to Niagara.”

    So once again he turned to a chef friend, this time it was Johnne Phinehas, chef and owner of downtown’s Saffron Spice Kitchen, a kothu roti takeout spot.

    “He had a friend who could do it, and we had a three-way phone conversation where Johnny acted as the translator since I wasn’t completely fluent in Tamil,” he says.

    Two days before their big Niagara bash, the hopper station consisting of a half dozen mini woks and butane camping stoves was confirmed.

    On the day of the wedding, all the food stations were ready. Guests parked on the side of the dusty country road and walked across the sprawling lawn of the venue, where the chefs were at their stations, grills fired up and coolers unpacked.

    “Carl showed up the day before to survey the venue and, with the exception of showing him where to put the garbage, we basically had no contact till it was time to eat,” Doss said. “As soon as I saw him and the other chefs pull up, we knew we didn’t have to worry about the food.”

    It was the wedding feast of their dreams.

    “Everyone started their conversation with me by saying how the food was amazing and that I had to try this or that.”

    A sangria dispenser awaited guests at the bar along with wine and beers and ciders made for the couple by Oast House Brewers and West Avenue Cider.

    Meanwhile, guests were welcomed with platters of pintxos and tapas: polenta fries with marinara sauce, grilled vegetables, salt cod on crusty bread, rabbit and pork terrine.

    There were grilled sausage coils from Vallins, Heinrich and Sheen worked another grill serving bites of thinly-sliced charred skirt steak with chimichurri and flaky Sous-vide trout with corn puree.

    A vegetable station offered wraps and beet salads, lighter fare than the late-night poutine truck White arranged from Niagara College.

    The dessert buffet included the ginger-vanilla and chocolate-hazelnut cakes, marshmallows, meringues and pâte de fruits made by Michelle Edgar of the Sweet Escape patisserie in the Distillery District. Platters of burfi, a dense and milky South Asian confection typically served at celebrations, from Al-Karam Sweets in Scarborough, rounded out the dessert table.

    “There was a point when the sun was going down and I was looking out on the yard, seeing people at the bar and at the tables with a glass in one hand and a plate of food in the other and we were relieved and honoured that Richmond Station was able to pull everything together,” Katzman said.

    Guests feasted and drank, celebrating the union, unaware that the wedding of two of the most food-obsessed people they knew almost didn’t have any food on the table.

    The couple did concede there was still one hitch that night: they forgot to put out the takeout food boxes for their guests.

    karonliu@thestar.ca


    How Toronto's chefs came together to save a weddingHow Toronto's chefs came together to save a wedding

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    Sears Canada announced Friday night that it will close 10 more department stores, including the anchor stores at Fairview Mall and Scarborough Town Centre in the coming months, after it failed to attract a successful bid to save the company.

    A Sears Home store in Kelowna will also be closed, it was announced Friday. In all, 1,200 people will be affected, in addition to the 2,900 that will be jobless by the end of business day on Sunday as a result of the store closures announced in June when the company first sought creditor protection.

    A potential going concern bid was put forward on Aug. 31 by Brandon Stranzl, who stepped down from his position as Sears Canada executive chairman in order to focus on the bid, but it had numerous conditions, including financing conditions, according to the company’s press release.

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    Stranzl presented an amended bid on Sept. 25.

    “Understanding, among other components, the role a successful bid could play in saving jobs, Sears Canada advisors continue to engage with Mr. Stranzl with the goal of enhancing the value and reducing the conditionality of the proposed transaction,” according to the release.

    But there is no deal as of yet.

    The company is seeking an extension of the stay period to November 7.

    The leases for the department stores are being surrendered to landlords. Lime Ridge Mall in Hamilton will also lose its Sears store as will Oakville Place in Oakville.

    Two tentative deals have been struck to save parts of the business, including S.L.H. Transport Inc., which provides shipping to Sears Canada and third-party customers.


    Sears Canada to close 10 more stores, including Fairview and Scarborough locationsSears Canada to close 10 more stores, including Fairview and Scarborough locations

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