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    Trish Tervit’s “Taj Mahal” of backyard chicken coops will soon have new tenants after council’s decision Tuesday to approve a pilot project in four Toronto wards.

    In 2010, Tervit got three chicks to mostly entertain and educate her two daughters.

    They helped keep the backyard clean, there was no increase in raccoons or other pests and the only noise was a little daytime clucking.

    Still, somebody in her upper Beaches neighborhood complained and, after a warning from the city and a decisive 2013 council decision closing the door on backyard coops, Tervit gave away her “girls” to a farm outside the city.

    On Tuesday, council reversed course, and approved a pilot project that will allow Toronto residents in wards 5 (Etobicoke-Lakeshore) 13 (Parkdale-High Park) 21 (St. Paul’s) and 32 (Beaches-East York) — Tervit’s east-end ward — to keep up to four chickens in their backyards.

    “I adored having the chickens,” Tervit said. “We got used to having fresh eggs and fun little pets. When I heard the (council vote) news today, there was no guesswork — I'm already googling where to get some chicks, we'll have some within days,” she said.

    The 23-14 council vote removes chickens from the city’s list of prohibited animals.

    Backyard chickens will not be allowed in apartment buildings condominiums or properties without sufficient outdoor space.

    Eggs produced by the hens could not be sold and roosters would not be allowed in the henhouse. Participants will have to register and agree to regular inspections.

    The proposed pilot will go into effect by the end of October and will operate for up to three years with an interim review at 18 months.

    “It’s a good day for Torontonians. Chickens are already in our community, this normalizes a practice frankly that is around the world,” Councillor Joe Mihevc said after the vote.

    “To have a few pets in your backyard that also have the benefit of producing eggs, there’s nothing wrong with it from a public health perspective, from a nuisance perspective, they are as clean as cats and dogs, they are as clean as the owners who keep care of them.”

    Council critics said the public had not been adequately consulted prior to the debate and decision. “This is ridiculous, government at its worst,” Councillor Jon Burnside said.

    “We should not be entertaining this for a second,” agreed Councillor Jaye Robinson. Other councillors questioned why council was wasting any time at all on the backyard chicken issue.

    Nevertheless, a majority of councillors voted down a motion to refer the pilot project back to the city’s licensing division to hold public consultations.

    City staff did not back the move to legalize backyard hens.

    “Research indicates that the primary human health risk of keeping chickens is infectious disease transmission, such as Salmonella,” a staff report said. “Another important consideration is the potential public nuisance problems that might arise from the keeping of chickens. Some of these concerns arise from noise and odour.”

    As well, keeping chickens outdoors in poor enclosures and coops “may present animal care, welfare risks for chickens and attract pests such as flies, mice, rats, skunks and raccoons, and coyotes.”

    While the debate around chickens grabbed all the attention, council voted to delay the come into force date for the deletion of the prohibited animals’ exception from educational programs from July 1, 2017 to Jan. 1, 2018.

    Council voted last December to end the exemption that allowed prohibited animals to be used for educational purposes.

    After Jan. 1, prohibited animals, including snakes greater than three metres, tigers and all poisonous and venomous animals, will not be permitted to be used for private or public evens, such as school visits or birthday parties.

    With files from David Rider


    Chickens to be allowed in some Toronto backyardsChickens to be allowed in some Toronto backyards

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    The Blue Jays won’t be picking up the mutual option on Jose Bautista’s contract for 2018, but GM Ross Atkins wouldn’t rule out the possibility of the all-star slugger returning to Toronto in the future.

    Atkins said Tuesday that he recently sat down with Bautista to tell him the option on the contract he signed before the 2017 season would not be picked up.

    But while the team won’t be bringing back the 36-year-old right-fielder right now, Atkins said he was moved by the outpouring of fan support on Bautista’s final home game of the season and that moment will not be the last time Bautista is celebrated in Toronto.

    Bautista, a three time all-star and two time silver slugger who spent 10 years with the Blue Jays, struggled offensively this season, finishing the year with a .203 batting average, 23 homers, 65 RBIs and a franchise-record 170 strikeouts.

    Atkins, in a season-ending media availability at Rogers Centre, said the team as a whole failed to meet expectations offensively and defensively.

    The Blue Jays, who reached the ALCS in back-to-back years in 2015 and 2016, ended 2017 in fourth place in the American League, 17 games back of first place Boston.

    While injuries had a lot to do with Toronto’s struggles, Atkins said the team needs to be better at preparing for that in the future and will look to acquire more depth in the off-season to help combat that.

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    Blue Jays will not bring Jose Bautista back for 2018, GM Ross Atkins confirmsBlue Jays will not bring Jose Bautista back for 2018, GM Ross Atkins confirms

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    Surveillance camera footage of an overnight burglary at a Scarborough hardware store has been posted by the store owner’s son in hopes of tracking down the thieves who stole more than $50,000 worth of goods.

    “They did the whole thing in about five minutes,” said Dominic Dimilta, a co-owner of Alpine Lawn & Garden Equipment at Kennedy Rd. and Finch Ave. E.

    Multiple videos uploaded to YouTube by Dimilta’s son show how the burglary happened at about 1 a.m. Monday. A U-Haul truck reversed right to the store’s front doors. A camera from the front counter shows a shower of sparks from a cut-off saw, cutting two locks on the front door.

    Two masked thieves enter the store, grab chainsaws, pull trimmers from their stands, and struggle to remove some items from wires attached to the walls before eventually scrambling out of the building and loading the truck.

    By the time the alarm company called, the break-in had wrapped up.

    “Unfortunately, we thought it was a false alarm,” Dimilta said. “They took two of the biggest generators I have, we’re still counting. They took at least a half a dozen trimmers, and two of my biggest chainsaws.”

    Dimilta said that the thieves had clearly prepared in advance to rob the store.

    “These guys, they knew exactly where they wanted to go and they knew exactly what to do.”

    The hardware store is well-secured, with a double gate at its fence equipped with chains and locks, but the saws used by the thieves were too powerful.

    “The cut-off saw, with the gas that they’re using, they’ll go through anything,” Dimilta said. “I mean, that’s the first time I’ve seen (someone) using a cut-off saw to do that. I mean, what the heck are we going to do now?”

    Toronto police are investigating.

    Dimilta hopes that the YouTube videos will help identify the thieves and deter future thefts.

    “The reason my son put (the videos) on YouTube is that we’re trying to see if we can find these suckers before they sell the stuff,” he said. “And if someone’s buying this stuff they know it’s going to be trouble because we have all the serial numbers, all the pictures.”


    Scarborough hardware store releases survelliance footage showing brazen burglaryScarborough hardware store releases survelliance footage showing brazen burglary

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    A fourth Canadian has been confirmed dead in a mass shooting at a country music show in Las Vegas.

    Tara Roe Smith, who was 34 and lived in Okotoks, Alta., was there with her husband, Zach, for a weekend getaway.

    Her aunt, Val Rodgers, says Roe Smith died when a gunman opened fire on the crowd from the window of a hotel on Sunday night. Nearly 60 people were killed.

    “She was a beautiful soul. She was a wonderful mother and our family is going to miss her dearly,” Rodgers said when contacted at her home in Brandon, Man., on Tuesday.

    Read more:

    Las Vegas hospitals overwhelmed after mass shooting left 59 dead, 527 injured

    Three Canadian victims mourned after Las Vegas attack

    B.C. man, Alberta woman among 59 killed in Las Vegas concert shooting

    Roe Smith, the mother of two young boys, is the third Albertan confirmed dead in the shooting.

    Two other women — Calla Medig and Jessica Klymchuk — also died.

    Medig had taken time off from her job at Moxie’s restaurant in west Edmonton to attend the Route 91 Music Festival in Las Vegas, said her boss, Scott Collingwood.

    “This had started to become an annual thing for her. I believe it was her third trip,” Collingwood told The Canadian Press.

    When news broke about the shooting Sunday, Collingwood said he immediately called Medig, but it went right to voice mail. She didn’t answer texts or Facebook messages, he said.

    On Monday, he called her roommate, who went to Vegas with Medig, and got the terrible news.

    “She was a little bit of everything around here. She was kind of a rock and, as of Thursday, she would have been our newest manager,” Collingwood said. “A lot of us around here have super heavy hearts and we already miss her.”

    Medig grew up in the Rocky Mountain town of Jasper. Jasper Legion Branch 31 said in a Facebook post that it lowered its flag in Medig’s memory. In its post, the legion called her a young, beautiful lady who was taken too soon.

    Alberta Premier Rachel Notley extended her condolences to Medig’s friends and family, as well as to the family of Klymchuk, who was from the small Alberta community of Valleyview.

    Jordan McIldoon, 23, from Maple Ridge, B.C., was also killed.

    A relative said McIldoon would have turned 24 on Friday and was a month shy of completing a course to qualify as a heavy-duty mechanic.

    Canadians injured

    Jan Lambourne, Teulon, Man.

    • The married friend of Jody Ansell, Lambourne was shot in the abdomen and shrapnel fractured her pelvis. She had surgery to repair her intestine.

    Jody Ansell, Stonewall, Man.

    • Ansell was shot in the right arm. She was discharged from hospital late Monday.

    Steve Arruda, Calgary

    • The referee with an adult hockey organization called Hockey North America underwent surgery and was in intensive care in a Las Vegas hospital. He helped his wife to safety, told her run, then stayed to help others get to safety.

    Carrie-Lynn Denis of Leoville, Sask.

    • Denis, who was shot in the foot, grew up on a local farm and is a community volunteer.

    Sheldon Mack, Victoria

    • Mack was shot twice and suffered a ruptured colon and a broken forearm. A friend used his belt as a makeshift tourniquet. He was recovering in intensive care.

    Ryan Sarrazin, Camrose, Alta.

    • Sarrazin, born and raised near Spiritwood, Alta., was shot and seriously injured.

    Fourth Canadian confirmed dead in Las Vegas mass shootingFourth Canadian confirmed dead in Las Vegas mass shooting

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    LAS VEGAS—Investigators struggled Tuesday with a chilling but baffling array of clues in the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history—including a hotel room arsenal fit for a commando team—yet were still left trying to grasp what caused a 64-year-old retiree to turn a concert ground into a killing field.

    “I can’t get into the mind of a psychopath,” said Joseph Lombardo, the sheriff of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, on Monday.

    At the same time, the probes stretched from a ranch-style home near the Arizona border to the 32nd-floor hotel suite used by Stephen Paddock as a place to scan the crowds at a country music festival and then open fire—leaving at least 59 people dead and hundreds more injured in the rain of bullets or trampled in the panicked rush for cover. He then killed himself as police closed in.

    The massacre was possibly in the planning stages for days.

    Police said Paddock arrived on Thursday at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino overlooking the Vegas Strip. He aroused no suspicion from hotel staff as he surrounded himself with stunning firepower in two rooms: 23 guns, some with scopes. One of the weapons he apparently used in the attack was an AK-47 type rifle, with a stand used to steady it for firing, people familiar with the case said.

    Authorities said a sweep of law enforcement databases showed Paddock had no known run-ins with police. He was the son of a bank robber, who was once on the FBI wanted list. But investigators have turned up no clear links to any underworld gangs or international terrorist groups—despite a claim by Daesh, also known as ISIS or ISIL, that Paddock carried out the carnage in its name.

    Among the questions they have: How a former accountant with a penchant for high-stakes gambling obtained a weapon that sounded to those on the ground like it could fire as an automatic, and how he was able to bring it and many other weapons into a Vegas hotel suite undetected.

    Investigators believe at least one of the guns functioned as if it were fully automatic, and they are now trying to determine if he modified it or other weapons to be capable of spitting out a high volume of fire just by holding down the trigger, people familiar with the case said.

    Read more:

    Las Vegas gunman had ‘bump-stocks’ that could turn firearms into fully automatic ones

    Las Vegas hospitals overwhelmed after mass shooting left 59 dead, 527 injured

    Fake Daesh connections, falsehoods add to confusion after Las Vegas shooting

    Gun purchase records indicate Paddock legally bought more than two dozen firearms across a period of years, according to a person close to the investigation. Guns & Guitars, a store in Mesquite, Nev., said in a statement that Paddock purchased some of his weapons there, but employees followed all procedures required by law, and Paddock “never gave any indication or reason to believe he was unstable or unfit at any time.” Lombardo said Paddock also seemed to have purchased guns in Arizona.

    Investigators also found at least 19 additional firearms, thousands of rounds of ammunition and the chemical tannerite, an explosive, at Paddock’s home in Mesquite, Nev. They also found ammonium nitrate, a chemical that can be used in bomb-making, in Paddock’s vehicle, Lombardo said.

    More than 22,000 people had been at the Route 91 Harvest festival, a three-day country music concert with grounds across the street from the Mandalay Bay resort, when the shooting began about 10 p.m. Sunday, according to police. As country star Jason Aldean played what was expected to be one of the last sets of the night, Paddock opened fire—his bullets flying from a window on the casino’s golden facade, which Paddock had smashed with some type of hammer.

    “People were getting shot at while we were running, and people were on the ground bleeding, crying and screaming. We just had to keep going,” said Dinora Merino, 28, a dealer at the Ellis Island casino who was at the concert with a friend. “There are tents out there and there’s no place to hide. It’s just an open field.”

    The death toll in Las Vegas was massive, surpassing the 49 people slain by a gunman in Orlando in June 2016. That shooter, who later said he was inspired by Daesh, opened fire inside a crowded nightclub. And Lombardo said the number of dead from Sunday’s concert shooting could rise, as an additional 527 were thought to have been injured.

    The dead included a behavioural therapist who was soon to be married, a nursing assistant from Southern California, a commercial fisherman and an off-duty Las Vegas city police officer. Two other officers who were on duty were injured, police said; one was in stable condition after surgery, and the other sustained minor injuries. Another off-duty officer with the Bakersfield Police Department in Southern California also sustained non-life threatening injuries, according to a statement from the department.

    Syed Saquib, a surgeon on duty Sunday night at University Medical Center, said the hospital treated 104 patients, most of whom had gunshot wounds.

    “Those that could be saved, were saved,” Saquib said. “There were a few that came in with devastating, non-survivable injuries.”

    Police and hotel security ultimately scoured several floors of the hotel looking for the shooter and came upon Paddock’s suite, Lombardo said. At some point, Paddock fired through the door and hit a security guard in the leg, he said, adding that the guard is expected to survive. SWAT officers ultimately stormed the room and some fired shots, though Paddock is believed to have killed himself, Lombardo said. He was not counted in the death toll that authorities reported.

    U.S. President Donald Trump ordered flags flown at half-mast and said he would visit Las Vegas on Wednesday. He praised the “miraculous” speed with which local law enforcement responded to the shooting—asserting that their actions saved lives—though he noted that hundreds were still mourning the loss of loved ones. Answers for them, he said, would “not come easy.”

    “It was an act of pure evil,” Trump said during remarks from the White House.

    Steve Sisolak, Clark County Commission Chair from Las Vegas, praised the police for their quick response and commended the outpouring of support from the community; more than 25,000 people have donated to a fundraising effort for victims and people have been waiting eight hours in line to donate blood, he said.

    “Las Vegas will never be quite the same as a result of this,” Sisolak said. But, he said, “We’ll be back.”

    Eric Paddock, Stephen Paddock’s brother, said he was stunned to learn that his brother could be responsible for such violence.

    Stephen Paddock had no history of mental illness nor did he have problems with drugs or alcohol, Eric Paddock said, noting that his brother was a high-stakes gambler, sometimes wagering hundreds of dollars on a single hand of video poker.

    When he spoke to the FBI, Eric Paddock said he showed agents three years of text messages from his brother, including one that mentioned winning $250,000 (U.S.) at a casino. A federal law enforcement official said investigators had reviewed reports suggesting Paddock engaged in high-dollar gambling, and they are trying to determine whether he faced financial strains.

    Eric Paddock said his brother was “wealthy,” in part because he had no children to support. Stephen Paddock had worked in the past as an accountant, and he had real estate investments in the Orlando area, Eric Paddock said.

    Eric Paddock said he knew his brother had guns—Stephen once took Eric’s children skeet shooting.

    Police said they believe Paddock was a “lone wolf” attacker, though they were still interested in speaking more with a woman named Marilou Danley who lived with him in Mesquite, Nev., a little more than an hour outside of Las Vegas on the Arizona border. Police had said they were searching for Danley, Paddock’s girlfriend, in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, but they later said she was outside the country—as of Monday afternoon, in Tokyo—and not involved in the shooting.

    “We still consider her a person of interest,” Lombardo said Monday. He said investigators also are exploring a report that Paddock attended a different music festival in September.

    Not long after the shooting, Daesh claimed responsibility, though law enforcement authorities were quick to reject that assertion. “We have determined, to this point, no connection with an international terrorist group,” Aaron Rouse, the special agent in charge of the FBI in Las Vegas, said at a news briefing.

    The FBI had a previous dealing with the Paddock family, though it did not initially seem to involve Stephen. Eric Paddock said his father was Benjamin Hoskins Paddock, a convicted bank robber and con-man described in a wanted poster as “psychopathic” with suicidal tendencies. But Eric Paddock said that his father, who escaped from prison in 1969 and was at one point on the FBI’s list of most-sought-after and dangerous criminals, was not around during their childhood. Benjamin Paddock was apprehended in 1978, according to news reports.

    Relatives said Stephen Paddock, a licensed pilot who owned two airplanes, was a quiet man who often went to Las Vegas to gamble and view concerts. In a statement, Lockheed Martin, the defence giant, said that Paddock worked for them for three years in the 1980s.

    A former neighbour of Stephen Paddock’s recalled that his home in a 55-and-over community in Florida looked more akin to a college freshman’s dorm, with nothing on the walls and only a few pieces of furniture.

    “One of the first times we met him, he told me he lived there, in Vegas,” Don Judy, his next-door neighbour in the community until two years ago, recalled. “He explained that he was a gambler, and a prospector. He said he was buying this house to check it out for his mother . . . and that if she liked it, he planned to buy another next door with a floor plan like ours.”

    Soon, Judy said, Paddock put up a for-sale sign and was gone, saying that he was moving back to Las Vegas.


    What was Las Vegas shooter’s motive? Investigators struggle to piece it togetherWhat was Las Vegas shooter’s motive? Investigators struggle to piece it together

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    SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO—U.S. President Donald Trump highlighted Puerto Rico’s relatively low death toll compared with “a real catastrophe like Katrina” as he opened a tour of the island’s devastation Tuesday, focusing on the best of the reviews he and his administration are getting rather than criticism of the federal response to Hurricane Maria.

    Trump pledged an all-out effort to help the island but added: “Now I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack because we’ve spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico. And that’s fine. We’ve saved a lot of lives.”

    He said his visit was “not about me” but then praised local officials for offering kind words about the recovery effort and invited one to repeat the “nice things” she’d said earlier. Trump also singled out Gov. Ricardo Rossello for “giving us the highest praise.”

    “Every death is a horror,” he said, “but if you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina and you look at the tremendous, hundreds of and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, and you look at what happened here ... nobody’s ever seen anything like this.”

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

    In Washington, Rep. Luis Gutierrez noted that many people in more remote areas still in dire straits and in need of food and water. He told CNN, “Let’s stop talking about the death count until this is over.” It stands at 16 now, and 95 per cent of electricity customers remain without power, including some hospitals.

    The most prominent critic in Puerto Rico, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, attended Trump’s first event, in an airport hangar, shaking Trump’s hand as he went around a table greeting officials before sitting in the shadow of a hulking, grey military plane.

    “How are you?” he asked. Her response could not be heard. He thanked her. Days earlier, Cruz said the Trump administration was “killing us with the inefficiency,” pleading for more effective federal leadership in the crisis.

    Read more:

    ‘He’s a racist president’: Mainland Puerto Ricans are furious over Donald Trump’s debt talk amid hurricane crisis

    Trump calls his Puerto Rico critics ‘ingrates’

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

    Air Force One brought the president, first lady Melania Trump and aides to Puerto Rico in late morning. They were expected to spend more than five hours on the ground, meeting first responders, local officials and some of the 3.4 million people whose lives have been upended by a hurricane that, in the president’s words, left the island U.S. territory “flattened.”

    At least parts of the itinerary were drawn to ensure a friendly reception: Trump was visiting the houses of pre-selected families waiting on their lawns.

    The president also handed out flashlights at a church, where 200 people cheered his arrival and crowded around him getting pictures on their cellphones.

    “There’s a lot of love in this room, a lot of love,” Trump said. “Great people.”

    Asked by AP what he has to say to people still without power, food and water, he spoke of the generators brought to the island and said the electrical grid is being fixed.

    “Again the job that’s been done here is really nothing short of a miracle,” he said.

    In the Playita neighbourhood in the heart of San Juan, a few miles from the air base where Trump gave his upbeat report on progress, people cleaned sewer water from their homes and businesses, stacked fouled clothes in shopping carts and piled them on street corners alongside wet mattresses and pieces of broken metal roofs.

    They still lack power, got water back Sunday and said they have seen no federal officials since Maria struck.

    “What more do they want us to do?” asked Ray Negron, 38, resting in the shade of a church after a morning collecting debris. “Nobody’s come.”

    On approach to the airport, Air Force One descended over a landscape marked by mangled palm trees, metal debris strewn near homes and patches of stripped trees, yet with less devastation evident than farther from San Juan.

    At least in his first moments on the island, Trump remained focused primarily on drawing praise. “He didn’t play politics at all,” he said of the governor, making clear that he considers those who have criticized him to be politically driven. Trump misstated Maria as a Category 5 hurricane; it was Category 4 when it hit Puerto Rico.

    “I appreciate your support and I know you appreciate ours,” he said. “Our country has really gone all out. It’s not only dangerous, it’s expensive. But I consider it a great honour.”

    Before leaving Washington, he said Puerto Ricans who have called the federal response insufficient “have to give us more help.”

    Large-scale protests against Trump, talked about in advance, failed to materialize by early afternoon, with only a few knots of people gathering around San Juan to decry his criticism of local politicians.

    As he headed out from the White House to visit the island, Trump told reporters that “it’s now acknowledged what a great job we’ve done.”

    The trip is Trump’s fourth areas battered by storms during an unusually violent hurricane season that has also seen parts of Texas, Florida, Louisiana and the U.S. Virgin Islands inundated by floodwaters and hit by high winds.

    Nearly two weeks after the Puerto Rico storm, much of the countryside is still struggling to access such basic necessities as food, fresh water and cash.

    Trump’s visit follows a weekend in which he aggressively pushed back against critics, including Cruz. Trump responded angrily on Twitter, deriding the “poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help.”

    “They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort,” he added, scoffing at “politically motivated ingrates” who had criticized the federal work, and insisting that “tremendous progress” was being made.

    Cruz had begged the administration to “make sure somebody is in charge that is up to the task of saving lives.”

    Trump and his wife were to meet Navy and Marine Corps personnel on the flight deck of the USS Kearsarge as well as the governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

    Even before the storm hit on Sept. 20, Puerto Rico was in dire condition thanks to a decade-long economic recession that had left its infrastructure, including the island’s power lines, in a sorry state. Maria was the most powerful hurricane to hit the island in nearly a century and unleashed floods and mudslides that knocked out the island’s entire electrical grid and telecommunications, along with many roads.

    Trump and other administration officials have worked in recent days to reassure Americans that recovery efforts are going well and combat a perception that the president failed to fully grasp the magnitude of the storm’s destruction in its immediate aftermath.

    While early response efforts were hampered by logistical problems, officials say that conditions, especially in the capital, have improved.

    According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, there are now more than 10,000 federal officials on the ground on the island, and 45 per cent of customers now have access to drinking water. Businesses are also beginning to re-open, with 60 per cent of retail gas stations now up and running.

    The Health and Human Services Department says federal medical teams with their own equipment and supplies have been sent to help provide care at Centro Medico, a major trauma centre in San Juan. Additional teams have been sent to five hospitals in other parts of the island.

    The department has also placed a liaison in each hospital that’s open, to make sure the facilities can get timely shipments of fuel needed to keep generators running, as well as medical supplies.

    For many, however, Washington’s response isn’t enough. On Monday, the non-profit relief group Oxfam announced that it would be taking the rare step of intervening in an American disaster, citing its outrage over what it called a “slow and inadequate response.”


    95% of Puerto Rico is without electricity, but Donald Trump calls storm recovery ‘nothing short of a miracle’95% of Puerto Rico is without electricity, but Donald Trump calls storm recovery ‘nothing short of a miracle’

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    The all-important five-and-a-half second gap between the first round of bullets fired at teen Sammy Yatim as he stood with a knife on a Toronto streetcar and the second volley, shot when the teen was on the ground, was under the microscope again Tuesday, as Const. James Forcillo’s appeal entered its second day.

    The fate of the Toronto police officer lies, in part, in whether the Ontario Court of Appeal determines that the two rounds of shots were part of one ongoing shooting — or if it agrees that the volleys were rightly divided into two separate events, and two criminal charges.

    That separation resulted in Forcillo’s 2016 conviction of attempted murder in the July 2013 shooting death of 18-year-old Yatim on a Dundas streetcar. The jury acquitted Forcillo of second-degree murder in connection to the first volley, during which the fatal shot was fired, but found him guilty of attempted murder for the second volley, unleashed as Yatim lay prone, paralyzed and dying.

    Lawyers for Forcillo argued Monday that the separation of the shots into two discrete events was artificial, and that the volleys are “inextricably intertwined,” making the jury’s conviction of Forcillo “unreasonable.” As a remedy, they are asking for the appeal court to quash the conviction and acquit Forcillo.

    But Crown lawyer Susan Reid countered the officer’s lawyers’ claims Tuesday, saying that there is no ignoring the significant difference in circumstances between the first and second volleys.

    Prior to the first, Yatim was standing, mobile, and brandishing a knife. Before the second round, Yatim was “on the floor and in fact we know he is paralyzed from the waist down,” Reid said.

    But more importantly, Reid stressed to Chief Justice of Ontario George Strathy, Justice David Doherty and Justice Gary Trotter, Forcillo himself considered there to be two distinct circumstances between the first burst of gunfire and the second.

    The officer testified at his trial that he paused to assess the threat posed by Yatim and described the situation as having “changed,” Reid said.

    “It’s my submission that the verdict for guilt of attempted murder is amply supported by the evidence, and it is not inconsistent with the acquittal (on second-degree murder),” Reid said.

    Forcillo’s lawyers have also asked the Court of Appeal for a new trial based on the fact that his defence team was prevented by the trial judge from bringing key evidence before the jury.

    That included a Google search in which Yatim asked “how to commit suicide without feeling any pain” as well as testimony from Rick Parent, a professor of criminology at Simon Fraser University. Parent was a defence witness who was called upon to provide expert evidence about the phenomenon of suicide-by-cop.

    Lawyers for Forcillo argued Monday that the evidence was needed to “lend a different perspective” on Yatim’s state of mind, and counter the Crown's frequent characterization of Yatim as a “person in crisis.”

    But Crown counsel Howard Leibovich argued Tuesday that it was the right decision to exclude the evidence, calling it “irrelevant” to the issues the jury had to consider.

    Listening to Parent’s testimony about his interpretation of Mr. Yatim’s actions, text messages and Google searches “would have only wasted the jury’s time and distracted them from the real issues.”

    Forcillo, who is suspended without pay by Toronto police, has also asked the appeal court for a suspended sentence, barring an acquittal or the order of a new trial. The officer’s six-year sentence is one year longer than the mandatory minimum of five years jail time for attempted murder with a firearm, something the officer’s lawyers say violates the charter.

    Both sides completed their arguments Tuesday. A second phase of the appeal, dealing with the possible inclusion of fresh evidence in the trail, is expected to be heard early in the new year.

    Forcillo is currently out on bail pending the second phase of the appeal.

    Wendy Gillis can be reached at wgillis@thestar.ca


    Appeal hearing focuses on pause in cop’s gunfire during Sammy Yatim shootingAppeal hearing focuses on pause in cop’s gunfire during Sammy Yatim shooting

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    Our thoughts. Our prayers. Our tears.

    What does that even mean?

    When mass murder by gunfire in the U.S. turns into a celebrity meme.

    Condolences expressed on social media, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau among those who tweeted out his sorrow for victims of the Las Vegas massacre.

    To show that you’re on the side of sanity, of revulsion for a crime that wiped 59 innocents off the face of the Earth?

    One can talk miles about good and evil — “an act of pure evil” as President Donald Trump described it, a sombre address clearly scripted for him because those are the only occasions where he sounds even marginally rational: The comforter-in-chief, a mantle that rests so unsuitably on his shoulders.

    And then Trump got on a plane to Puerto Rico, there to hand out flashlights and such — photo op, coming face to face with the same people he’d earlier characterized as “politically motivated ingrates” — for a calamity which he claimed was nowhere near the tragedy dimensions of Hurricane Katrina. “Sixteen versus literally thousands of people.”

    The death toll from Katrina a dozen years ago: More than 1,833. A “real catastrophe,” Trump chose to scold Puerto Ricans on Tuesday.

    As if blaming them, Puerto Ricans, for the natural disaster that has befallen their island.

    The financial drain of emergency assistance on the American treasury, Trump thought it appropriate to highlight that as well. “I hate to tell you Puerto Rico but you’ve thrown our budget a little of whack because we’ve spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico.”

    Less than a hundred helicopters sent to the hurricane-ravaged island, an American territory, in the abysmally slow emergency reaction by Washington. Six thousand troops deployed, compared to 10,000 on the ground in Louisiana under the command of U.S. army Lieutenant General Russel Honore who, now retired, has been scathing in his indictment of the inadequate response.

    Trump was scheduled to descend on Vegas next, Wednesday. I can think of hardly anyone more morally unfit to bind a nation’s wounds in the aftermath of Sunday night’s slaughter by a retired accountant sniper, firing from his makeshift fortress room in the Mandalay hotel. Dozens from among the more than 500 wounded remain in critical condition.

    This is the president who, in February, put his signature on a measure that nixed a regulation, initiated by his predecessor in the wake of other mass shootings, that would have kept guns out of the hands of some severely mentally ill people. That law required the Social Security Administration to disclose information quarterly to the national gun background check system about individuals with a documented mental illness — specifically and narrowly those receiving full benefits because of a mental illness and those requiring the assistance of third parties because they were incapable of managing their own benefits.

    Even that was too much for Republicans, deeply beholden to the National Rifle Association — the NRA endorsed Trump in the last election — to swallow. (Although it should be noted that loved-by-the-lefty-left Bernie Sanders, Mr. Progressive, was so leery of alienating supporters in his rural Vermont state that he’d five times voted against the Brady Bill in the ’90s and in 2005 voted in favour of a special immunity law protecting gun makers and sellers from being sued when their weapons are used in a deadly attack.)

    Gun control, yearning for it, is in fact a non-partisan issue. Respectable polling has shown that a huge majority of Americans — 94 per cent — wanted, at the very least, to restrict the mentally ill from purchasing weapons.

    Vegas, Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, Orlando — massacres that seize a nation’s attention. But only a tiny fraction of gun deaths — about three per cent — are attributable to such rampages.

    Mass murder in the U.S. is defined as the killing of four or more people. It’s a poor way to frame gun violence. Thirteen thousand miles away from Vegas, on the same day that Stephen Paddock sprayed a crowd of concertgoers with rapid-fire lethality, three individuals were killed and two injured at the University of Kansas. It hardly merited a news digest.

    The numbers are staggering.

    So far in 2017, 326 killed in mass shootings, 432 in 2016, 369 in 2015.

    Since Sandy Hook five years ago — 26 slain at an elementary school, including 20 children — there have been some 1,500 mass shootings in America, according to the Gun Violence Archive: 1,715 killed, 6,089 wounded.

    And that’s just the tip of the bloodshed.

    A country where it’s estimated that 300 million guns are in the hands of 320 million people, highest in gun possession among 178 countries, according to the Geneva-based Small Arms Survey, a global research agency. Americans comprise 4.4 per cent of the global population but account for fully half of civilian owned guns around the world.

    Number of Americans killed in battles in all wars in history: 1,396,733. Killed by firearms in the U.S. since 1968: 1,516,863.

    The war is on a homeland battlefield.

    The Center for Disease Control and Prevention provides these gruesome statistics: 406,496 killed by guns in the U.S. between 2001 and 2013. Of those, 237,052 were suicides. Because in a society where guns are so readily available, it is the preferred means for taking one’s own life.

    Homicides accounted for 153,144 of those gun deaths, 4,778 were police shootings, 8,383 categorized as “accidental” and 3,200 where no cause was determined.

    Some 25 children killed by guns every week.

    The Second Amendment guarantees Americans the right to bear arms and the intent was aimed at raising a “regulated” militia. It doesn’t guarantee the right to semi-automatic weapons, to high-powered rifles, to personal arsenals such as the 48 guns that the Vegas shooter possessed.

    This is NRA-generated hokum. Such bristling caches are not for the purpose of self-defence.

    There was a time when even Trump understood this. In the 1990s and early 2000s, he expressed support for a ban on assault weapons and long rifles with military-style features that made it easier to fire multiple rounds. In his 2000 book, The America We Deserve, Trump wrote: “I generally oppose gun control but I support the ban on assault weapons and I support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun.”

    Two years later Trump praised president Barack Obama for introducing, after Sandy Hook, slightly tighter firearm regulations. But in the election campaign, and certainly since he assumed the Oval Office, Trump has lost his marbles on the subject of guns, even railing against government-mandated gun-free zones in places such as schools, churches and military bases. Better, he’s argued, that civilians should arm themselves against the potential of such attacks, than go down with hands empty as “target practice for the sickos.”

    Maybe he knows his country better than we realize.

    One final fact: After every mass shooting in America, the sale of guns spikes.

    Rosie DiManno usually appears Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.


    On gun control, Donald Trump has lost his marbles: DiMannoOn gun control, Donald Trump has lost his marbles: DiManno

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    WASHINGTON—He accused Puerto Ricans of throwing the federal budget “out of whack.”

    He suggested Puerto Rico had not experienced a “real catastrophe” like Hurricane Katrina, since a mere “16 people” had been confirmed dead.

    He told a family of hurricane victims to “have a good time.”

    He tossed paper towels to another group of victims, in a church, as if he was shooting basketball free throws.

    He told a third group of victims that they don’t need flashlights any longer, though 90 per cent of the island was still without power.

    He refused to speak to the mayor of San Juan.

    And, as usual, Donald Trump congratulated himself.

    Facing withering criticism for his delayed and then belligerent response to the Puerto Rican hurricane crisis, Trump’s Tuesday visit to San Juan was a chance to begin to repair the wounds he had caused over a week of tweeted insults.

    Instead he casually tore them open, a smile on his face.

    In a frequently abnormal afternoon on the island, Trump showed none of the scripted gravitas of his sombre Monday response to the massacre in Las Vegas. Speaking without notes, he behaved as if the ongoing crisis had long since been fixed by his own doing.

    It was vintage Trump — informal, freewheeling, self-centred, detached from facts, wholly unlike the behaviour of any other modern president.

    His supporters applauded again, pointing to his authenticity and moments of empathy. Puerto Ricans already upset with him before he landed were infuriated.

    “He takes two weeks to visit a disaster zone where 3.5 million American citizens live. He arrives with a smile on his face, makes fun of the situation, shows no empathy, lies and lies on camera as he does 24-7. And then throws paper towel rolls to people in need as if he was playing Go Fetch with dogs,” said Joel Isaac, 27, a New York actor who moved from Puerto Rico three years ago.

    Most of Isaac’s family is still on the island. He said he had never felt humiliated as a Puerto Rican until he watched Trump’s visit.

    “It’s the whole scene where the privileged white man comes to save the brown peasants after they’ve been begging, thirsty and hungry. It’s super disgusting to see, honestly,” he said.

    Trump began the day with a traditional kind of crisis event: a roundtable briefing with members of his Cabinet and Puerto Rican and military leaders. His presence and his response were applauded by Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rossello.

    “I want to personally thank you, Mr. President, because over the course of the past week you have called essentially every day to make sure we have what we need, to make sure that the resources are over here,” Rossello said.

    Trump, however, did nothing at the briefing to dispel criticism that he is not sincerely concerned about Puerto Ricans. In meandering remarks, he boasted about the F-35 warplanes the government is planning to procure, complimented pro-wrestling titan Vince McMahon, and again grumbled about the cost of the rebuilding effort — this time suggesting Puerto Ricans themselves were at fault.

    “Now, I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack,” he said. “Because we’ve spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico. And that’s fine. We’ve saved a lot of lives.”

    Then he mused that Maria was different than “a real catastrophe like Katrina,” in which more than 1,800 people died.

    “Sixteen people versus in the thousands. You can be very proud of all of your people, all of our people working together. Sixteen versus literally thousands of people,” he said. “You can be very proud. Everybody around this table and everybody watching can really be very proud of what’s taken place in Puerto Rico.”

    Journalists on the ground noted that the death toll was almost certainly far higher than 16. The official count has not budged for nearly a week, and a reporter for San Juan’s Center for Investigative Journalism found that at least dozens more were dead.

    Jeremy Konyndyk, chief of foreign disaster assistance under Barack Obama, wrote on Twitter: “THIS IS APPALLING. This is such a deeply wrong, deeply inappropriate, deeply disrespectful thing to say....that I hardly know where to start.”

    Trump proceeded to a chapel, where he handed out bags of rice. In the manner of a basketball player, he also tossed up several packages of paper towel.

    The pool reporter on scene said the crowd “enjoyed” Trump’s NBA impression. Other Puerto Ricans found the display disrespectful.

    “Does he think this is a show? A game? The first reaction that I had: why is he throwing things to Puerto Ricans like we’re animals?” said Frances Alvarado, 55, a Puerto Rican in North Carolina whose husband has spent three decades in the navy. Of Trump’s performance as a whole, she said, “It’s shameful. It’s degrading. It’s insulting.”

    Trump shook the hand of San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, whom he has repeatedly disparaged as a poor leader and a Democratic partisan. Yulin Cruz said she told him, “This is about saving lives. It’s not about politics.”

    Trump didn’t respond, “then pointedly ignored her,” NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reported.

    As Trump’s motorcade passed, a lone protester held up a sign reading “You are a bad hombre.” He was greeted politely by the families he encountered on a brief neighbourhood walking tour, listening to one tell him about how they had been trapped in their house.

    Trump ended the visit with some additional applause for himself.

    “I think it meant a lot to the people of Puerto Rico that I was there. They really responded very nicely. And I guess it’s one of the few times anybody has done this. From what I am hearing it’s the first time that a sitting president has done something like this,” he said.


    Donald Trump compares Puerto Rico to ‘a real catastrophe like Katrina’ — and congratulates himself: AnalysisDonald Trump compares Puerto Rico to ‘a real catastrophe like Katrina’ — and congratulates himself: AnalysisDonald Trump compares Puerto Rico to ‘a real catastrophe like Katrina’ — and congratulates himself: AnalysisDonald Trump compares Puerto Rico to ‘a real catastrophe like Katrina’ — and congratulates himself: AnalysisDonald Trump compares Puerto Rico to ‘a real catastrophe like Katrina’ — and congratulates himself: AnalysisDonald Trump compares Puerto Rico to ‘a real catastrophe like Katrina’ — and congratulates himself: Analysis

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    Sears Canada executive chairman Brandon Stranzl has put together a bid to save a portion of Sears Canada that includes financial backing, but if it fails, the entire chain could begin liquidation as early as Oct. 19.

    Stranzl’s bid, which has yet to be approved, does not include Sears stores at Fairview Mall, Scarborough Town Centre, Oakville Place and Lime Ridge Mall in Hamilton, which are part of a parcel of properties returning leases to landlords and being liquidated.

    Another 59 stores have already been liquidated.

    An estimated 7,000 jobs could be saved if the bid is accepted, said Dan Murdoch, the Stikeman Elliott lawyer representing the group working on the bid led by Stranzl.

    No further details of the Stranzl bid, which was submitted late Tuesday, before a Wednesday court hearing on the insolvency, were made public.

    A person close to the matter said between 8,000 and 10,000 jobs could be saved and the deal involves approximately 60 stores. The deal has the financial support of Blackstone Group and Goldman Sachs, the insider said, adding that initially, the Fairview store and Scarborough Town Centre store were part of the bid.

    Lawyers representing various stakeholders in the case — including those representing employees and retirees — expressed concern in court on Wednesday about how long the process is taking. The longer it drags on, the costlier the process becomes, leaving less money for creditors.

    A court date has been set for Oct. 13 and if the bid to save Sears is not accepted by then, the plan is to begin liquidating stores on Oct. 19 or Oct. 26 at the latest.

    Mark Zigler, one of the Koskie Minsky lawyers representing 15,000 Sears employees in the pension plan, said a decision must be made soon on whether Sears can continue operating in a reduced format or will liquidate whatever hasn't been already purchased.

    “We cannot continue to keep funding this exercise,” said Zigler. He said he remains hopeful the pensioners will be able to recover a portion of the pension fund's $280-million deficit.

    Susan Ursel, a senior partner at Ursel Phillips Fellows Hopkinson LLP, representing an estimated 14,000 active Sears employees and 3,500 former employees, said her clients are anxious for a resolution.

    “If I could say one thing — the employees are the unsung heroes in this — they are toiling hard to keep this company in the best possible circumstances it can be to give it the best possible chance of success,” said Ursel, speaking outside the courtroom.

    In all, 145 different buyers expressed an interest in parts of Sears, including competing retailers, landlords and institutional real estate investors, according to documents filed in court.

    Parts of the business are in the process of being purchased, including the SLH Transport Inc., Corbeil Electrique Inc. and the Sears Home Improvements business, which will save numerous jobs.

    Canadian Tire has made a bid for certain Viking appliance trademarks.


    Sears Canada bid buys it another few weeksSears Canada bid buys it another few weeks

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    A man is in serious condition after a shooting in Scarborough on Wednesday afternoon.

    Just after 1 p.m., Toronto police said they responded to a call for three to four gunshots fired in the Eglinton Ave. E., and Brimley Rd. area., said Toronto police spokesperson Const. Allyson Douglas-Cook.

    One male was transported to hospital with serious gunshot wounds, Cook said.

    Witnesses told police that one male and two females were seen fleeing the scene with their faces covered.

    Police said they are canvassing the area and speaking to witnesses.


    Man in serious condition after shooting in ScarboroughMan in serious condition after shooting in Scarborough

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    OTTAWA—Guy Caron, the Quebec MP who brought the province’s contentious debate on religious symbols and secularism into the NDP leadership race, will lead the party in Parliament while newly-anointed leader Jagmeet Singh does not have a seat.

    Singh and Caron made the announcement Wednesday, embracing each other in front of the cheering ranks of the party’s MPs in the foyer of the House of Commons. Singh said he tapped Caron for the job because of his “competence” as an MP, and to demonstrate the importance of Quebec, where the party has 16 of its 44 seats and achieved its historic breakthrough under Jack Layton in 2011.

    Caron, who ran against Singh for the leadership and placed fourth, has made the case that the NDP has no shot at victory in a general election without winning in the majority-francophone province.

    “I’m confident that we will not only be able to maintain seats there, but because of our values and our unique offer that we will have for Quebec, we will be able to grow in Quebec,” said Singh.

    Singh, a Brampton MPP since 2011, has said he plans to resign his seat at Queen’s Park as soon as possible, but he has made no commitment to become a federal MP before the 2019 election.

    In the meantime, Caron acknowledged that he has big shoes to fill in taking outgoing leader Tom Mulcair’s spot in the House of Commons.

    “I think I’ve demonstrated what I can do in the House,” he told reporters.

    “My role is to be (Singh’s) voice, to be his representative in the House, and that is a great challenge that I’m impatiently waiting to tackle.”

    The choice of Caron as parliamentary leader was notable for his role in bringing a divisive debate on secularism into the NDP leadership race.

    Singh, a practicing Sikh who wears a turban and ceremonial kirpan, was questioned repeatedly through the final weeks of the contest about his position on Bill 62, a proposed law in Quebec that would ban people from wearing religious face coverings when giving or receiving public services.

    This became an issue after Caron released a policy platform that said, while he personally opposes the bill, Ottawa should respect the will of Quebecers on the matter. He argued that Quebec’s history with the Catholic Church, which was closely linked with government and public life until the Quiet Revolution of the 1960s, has made secularism a priority for many people in the province.

    Singh came out forcefully against Bill 62. He predicted that it would be struck down by the courts and told the Star that Caron’s position showed an “inconsistent understanding” of human rights.

    “Human rights shouldn’t be a matter of popularity,” he said at the time.

    Martine Ouellet, the leader of the Bloc Québécois, later accused Singh of representing the “rise of the religious left,” suggesting the Sikh symbols that he wears make him too religious for Quebec.

    Caron responded by proclaiming from the stage of the NDP’s leadership showcase event in Hamilton on Sept. 17 that there is a place for Singh in the NDP and Quebec. He also put out a statement slamming Ouellet’s comments on Singh, saying that “sadly, Martine Ouellet missed an opportunity to languish in her anonymity.”

    But Singh’s position was also questioned by an NDP MP from the Montreal area, Pierre Nantel, who told Le Devoir in September that he would consider sitting as an independent if the next leader didn’t respect the will of Quebecers.

    On Wednesday, Caron and Singh smoothed over the issue and said they’re now in complete agreement on the matter. Singh said all New Democrats “fundamentally” believe in the separation of religion and government, and also respect “all” human rights.

    “We’re clear that Quebec has the jurisdiction to decide their future. At the same time, we are completely confident that we have laws that will protect human rights in Quebec,” Singh said.

    Caron added that Singh “entirely” supports the Sherbrooke Declaration, a NDP policy proclamation from 2005 that enshrines the view that Quebecers have a right to decide their own future — by separating from Canada with the support of a majority of voters — without federal interference.

    “It leaves us to be able to work together on this.”

    Singh also said that he gave Nantel a hug during Wednesday’s caucus meeting — his first as leader — and “had a nice chat” Tuesday night when the party’s MPs went out for dinner in Ottawa.

    Nantel told reporters afterwards that he is no longer concerned about any lack of respect for Quebec from the NDP leader.

    “I am reassured to know that he respects the sovereignty of the National Assembly on these questions,” he said.

    “Guy Caron as a parliamentary chief: this speaks volumes to how important Quebec is to him.”

    Singh scored a commanding, first-ballot win in the NDP leadership race on Sunday, with 54 per cent of voters from the party choosing him to replace Thomas Mulcair. The tally was more than double that of his nearest opponent, veteran Ontario MP Charlie Angus, who 19 at per cent was closely followed by Manitoba MP Niki Ashton, who got 17 per cent.

    Caron placed fourth, with 9 per cent of the vote.


    NDP’s Jagmeet Singh taps Guy Caron as parliamentary leaderNDP’s Jagmeet Singh taps Guy Caron as parliamentary leader

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    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND—Embattled British Prime Minister Theresa May promised to restore the “British Dream” Wednesday, in a nightmare speech that saw her plagued by a cough and interrupted by a prankster, while parts of the backdrop fell down as she was speaking.

    In a mishap-prone Conservative Party conference address, May vowed economic help for struggling families for whom “the British Dream that has inspired generations of Britons feels increasingly out of reach.”

    But a speech intended to strengthen her tenuous grasp on leadership was chaotically interrupted by a comedian who handed May an unemployment form. The party said it was reviewing security after the breach.

    It was a shambolic end to a troubled convention. The Conservatives are in a sour mood after June’s snap election — called three years early in hopes of bolstering the party’s majority in Parliament — saw May’s government reduced to a minority administration. The poor result has left May weakened and struggling to unite a government divided over Brexit and other issues.

    May needed a strong speech to help fight off rivals to her job, including ambitious Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

    But things did not go to plan. May struggled with a cough and a hoarse voice that forced her to pause repeatedly.

    Midway through the speech a prankster walked up and handed May a P45 — the form given to people being laid off in Britain.

    As he was bundled away by security, the joker — identified in media reports as comedian Simon Brodkin — said “Boris told me to do it.”

    May promised “a new generation of council houses to help fix our broken housing market.”

    May’s office said there would be a thorough investigation. Police said the man, who was briefly detained “to prevent a breach of the peace,” had legitimate accreditation for the high-security conference.

    Brodkin, whose stage name is Lee Nelson, has pulled off other high-profile stunts including showering international soccer federation president Sepp Blatter with money during a 2015 press conference.

    As May neared the end of her televised speech, two letters fell off the slogan on the wall behind her — “Building a country that works for everyone.”

    When she finished, May was embraced onstage by her husband Philip, as Lenny Kravitz’s “Are You Gonna Go My Way?” rang out in the auditorium.

    Read more:

    Theresa May tries to reboot Brexit, offers 2-year transition period

    U.K.’s Theresa May has no plans to quit, says she’ll lead her party into the next election

    Brexit, Boris and the betrayal that turned British politics on its head

    That remains an open question. The speech did not resolve doubts about May’s future.

    Her struggle to speak could be seen as a symbol of her vulnerability — or of her steely determination to carry on.

    Senior Tories rallied to support her. Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson tweeted that “if ever the PM needed a metaphor for service and duty and resolution through adversity, that battling performance was it!”

    Others said the speech humanized a politician whose wooden campaigning style has seen her dubbed the “Maybot.”

    “She completely turned around that tone of the general election,” said Conservative lawmaker George Freeman.

    May fought back against “Maybot” claims in her speech, saying passion for social justice “burns inside me” and highlighting her work against racism, modern slavery and child sexual abuse.

    She even made a rare personal reference, saying “it has always been a great sadness for me and Philip that we were not blessed with children.”

    The unscripted mayhem overshadowed a substantial speech in which May appealed to middle- and lower-income voters. She promised to put a price cap on energy bills and get government back into the business of building public housing, a role it has largely abandoned since the 1980s, “to help fix our broken housing market.”

    Undersupply and rising prices have made home ownership an elusive goal for many Britons.

    Addressing Conservative members May took responsibility for the election failure, saying “I led the campaign, and I am sorry.”

    Then she tried to move on, telling ministers to “shape up” and focus on “the daily lives of ordinary working people.”

    And she called for a more humane politics, saying “people are fed up with the game-playing, the name-calling.”

    She vowed to work for an inclusive, open Britain, seeking to allay fears that the country will become more insular after it leaves the European Union.

    She told EU citizens living in Britain “we want you to stay,” and said that after Brexit, the country would not be one retreating behind borders, but “a global Britain that stands tall in the world.”

    May said the government wants divorce talks with the bloc to end in a good deal, but is “prepared in the event that they do not.”

    May’s speech was also overshadowed by furor over Johnson’s comment during a meeting at the conference that the Libyan city of Sirte could become a tourism hub once they “clear the dead bodies away.”

    Conservative lawmakers condemned the remarks as crass and tasteless, and several called for Johnson to be fired.


    British PM Theresa May needed to deliver a strong speech Wednesday. Things did not go according to planBritish PM Theresa May needed to deliver a strong speech Wednesday. Things did not go according to plan

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    Google is borrowing from Apple’s playbook as it takes on its rival in high end of the smartphone market.

    The second generation of Google’s Pixel phones unveiled Wednesday feature larger, brighter screens that take up more of the phone’s front, changes that Apple is also making with its iPhone X scheduled to be released next month.

    Both the Pixel XL and the 5-inch Pixel will also get rid of the headphone jack, something Apple did with the iPhone last year.

    Google also souped up the already highly rated camera on the Pixel, boasting that it will take even better photos than the iPhone.

    Read more: Google buys HTC’s Pixel smartphone team in $1.1-billion deal

    The smaller Pixel will sell for almost $650, $50 less than the iPhone 8. The Pixel XL will sell for almost $850, or $50 more than the iPhone 8 Plus. Prices for the iPhone X start at $1,000.

    In Canada, the price for the Pixel 2 is set at $899, with the larger XL available for $1,159.

    The company also introduced different sizes of its internet-connected speaker to compete against similar devices from Amazon and Apple.

    The Google Home Mini unveiled Wednesday is a button-sized speaker covered in fabric. It includes the same features featured in a cylindrical speaker that Google rolled out last year in response to Amazon’s Echo.

    The Mini will cost almost $50 U.S., or $79 in Canada, roughly the same price as Amazon’s smaller speaker, the Echo Dot. The standard Google Home speaker costs almost $130 U.S., or $179 in Canada.

    The Google Home Max is a rectangular speaker with superior acoustics for playing music, mimicking Apple’s HomePod.

    Google is selling the Home Max for almost $400, $50 more than the HomePod. Both speakers are due in December.

    Google’s voice-activated digital assistant will serves as the brains for all the speakers.

    Something really unexpected: Google may not have the world’s best record when it comes to hardware, but when it does succeed it’s because it offers something that’s both a little bit out there and solves practical problems. Think of the Chromecast: When it launched, it was sort of a weird device for Google, and its main selling point was its ability for you to easily watch YouTube on your television. But it was also just $35 and let you watch streaming services on your TV without having to buy another subscription — so, what was there to lose?

    But Google’s real strength is in software and services, which could make for some interesting logistical advances in the smartphone category. Even useful, working improvements to Google Assistant would be a good selling point if it really meant that your phone would understand what you were saying.

    With files from the Washington Post


    Google unveils latest Pixel smartphone, the company’s answer to Apple’s iPhoneGoogle unveils latest Pixel smartphone, the company’s answer to Apple’s iPhone

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    Three troubled Ontario nursing homes — including a Mississauga home — have been ordered to stop accepting new residents due to substandard care.

    The crackdown came this week after the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care ordered each to “cease admissions,” meaning no new residents are allowed to move into the homes.

    The order affects two facilities operated by the Sharon Village Care Homes chain, Tyndall Nursing Home in Mississauga and Earls Court Long Term Care in London, along with a home from the Caressant Care chain in Fergus. Both companies sent written statements to the Star, saying they will work with the ministry to resolve the problems.

    Read more:

    Thousands of under-65 adults with physical disabilities are being forced into Ontario nursing homes: Ministry data

    Ontario nursing homes feed seniors on $8.33 a day

    Two lawsuits seek to lay some blame on nursing homes who hired Elizabeth Wettlaufer

    The cease admissions orders are not common. Of Ontario’s 630 long-term care homes, roughly five a year are stopped from accepting new residents.

    In Health Minister Eric Hoskin’s Oct. 3 letter to Sharon Village president Peter Schlegel, he called the results of the recent ministry inspection of Tyndall and Earls Court “deeply concerning.”

    The ministry has “determined that there is sufficient risk of harm to the residents’ health or well-being to warrant a Cease of Admissions,” Hoskins wrote.

    He highlighted problems at the London home, Earls Court, saying ministry inspectors found the staffing plan does not meet the residents’ care needs. “As a result, residents did not receive the care required,” Hoskins wrote.

    Proper staffing of Ontario long-term care homes in general has long been a complaint among workers, families and the residents who suffer from lack of care.

    Tyndall nursing home, located on Eglinton Ave. E. and Dixie Rd., had its annual inspection last January. The public report showed that inspectors spent 13 days in the home and found 51 violations, including problems with toileting, food, the use of restraints and communication with residents.

    Earls Court in London had a “cease admissions” order in 2016, which Hoskins cited in his letter to Schlegel. In its most recent inspection, posted online, the ministry found 20 violations. Caressant Care Fergus had 14 violations in its most recent public inspection report.

    The minister’s letter to Caressant Care president James Lavelle noted inspectors found “repeated” examples of resident neglect and a lack of cleanliness in the home and its furniture, but did not provide specific details.

    Hoskins also said the home had not complied with previous ministry orders related to managing residents with “responsive behaviours” and the prevention of falls.

    In both letters to Caressant Care and Sharon Village, Hoskin said, “As the president of a corporation that owns places that residents call home, you are entrusted with an enormous responsibility to provide high quality, dignified care to our cherished elderly family members, and our most valuable friends and neighbours,” he wrote.

    In a written statement emailed to the Star, Caressant Care said its management team is “working closely with the ministry to address certain compliance deficiencies. Our first priority is to provide a high level of care to our residents.”

    A statement from Schlegel, of Sharon Village Homes, said the ministry has “temporarily ceased” admissions “in order that we can rectify some areas of non-compliance. We support the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, in their efforts to ensure the public of high quality care in all Long-Term Care homes in the province.”

    These orders were filed a few days after the government introduced legislation that, if passed, would create tougher enforcement against nursing homes. The legislation would include hefty fines for corporations, ranging from $200,000 for first time offence and $500,000 for subsequent offences.

    It is currently in first reading and, if passed, likely won’t become law until early 2018, said Jane Meadus, a lawyer with the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly.

    Unless the Strengthening Quality and Accountability for Patients Act becomes law, the “cease admissions” is one of the ministry’s best weapons, said Meadus.

    “Clearly, these homes are not able to clean up their act,” Meadus said. “The ministry has no choice but to say if you can’t meet the requirements then we can’t let you accept new residents.”

    She said cease admissions orders are considered serious action taken after repeated violations of provincial care regulations, because fewer residents can mean ministry funding cuts for the affected homes. It also impacts Ontario’s long waiting list, removing beds for residents who need a place to live.

    “I think that with all the problems we are seeing in the media with long term care homes, the ministry is finally getting the message,” Meadus said.

    In a statement to the Star about the ministry action, Hoskins said, “. . . it is completely unacceptable that these operators are not meeting the province’s standards. The distressing practice of failing to meet provincial standards will not be accepted in Ontario.”


    Three Ontario nursing homes ordered to stop new admissions because of substandard careThree Ontario nursing homes ordered to stop new admissions because of substandard care

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    Starting Oct. 11, permanent residents will be eligible to apply for Canadian citizenship if they have lived in the country for three out of the previous five years.

    Also, applicants over 55 years of age are once again exempt from the language and knowledge tests for citizenship under the amended citizenship regulations to be announced by Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen on Wednesday.

    The changes will be welcoming news for the many prospective applicants who have been holding off their applications since the newly elected Liberal government introduced Bill C-6 in March 2016 to reverse the more stringent changes adopted by its Conservative predecessor to restrict access to citizenship.

    Read more:

    We are Canadians, but it’s complicated

    Children applying for Canadian citizenship face hefty fee

    Canada faces dramatic drop in citizenship, prompting concerns about disengaged immigrants

    Citizenship applications are expected to go up, reversing the downward trend observed over the last few years after the Harper government raised the residency requirement for citizenship — requiring applicants to be in Canada for four years out of six — and stipulated that applicants between the ages of 14 and 64 must pass language and citizenship knowledge tests.

    Immigrant groups and advocates have said the more stringent rules discouraged newcomers’ full integration and participation in the electoral process.

    “Citizenship is the last step in immigrant integration. Those unnecessary obstacles put in place by the previous government are hurting us as a country,” Hussen told the Star in an interview Tuesday. “We are proud of these changes and are excited about it.”

    Another Liberal reform that takes effect next Wednesday is granting one year credit to international students, foreign workers and refugees for time spent in Canada before becoming permanent residents toward their residency requirements for citizenship.

    Despite the anticipated surge in citizenship applications as a result of the relaxed requirements, Hussen said the department will ensure resources are in place to respond to the increased intake. However, he insisted there is no plan to reduce the current $630 citizenship fee for adults and $100 for those under 18.

    The changes announced Wednesday are part of the amendments that received Royal Assent in June, including repealing the law that gave Ottawa the power to strip citizenship from naturalized citizens for crimes committed after citizenship has already been granted as well as handing over the power of citizenship revocation to the Federal Court from the immigration minister.

    According to government data, 108,635 people applied for Canadian citizenship in the year ended on March 31. Historically, citizenship applications received have averaged closer to 200,000 a year.


    New language and residency rules for Canadian citizenship kick in next weekNew language and residency rules for Canadian citizenship kick in next week

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    Jennifer Keesmaat’s next stop will be in a classroom, not on the political campaign trail.

    The city’s former chief planner will be teaching in the geography and planning department at the University of Toronto for the rest of the academic year, the school announced this week.

    Keesmaat was approached by the department to accept the John Bousfield Distinguished Visitorship in Planning, a residence that will run until April. She will give lectures and teach a course to graduate students.

    “It’s yet to be determined, but the studio (course) will most likely be something on . . . how we can transform the city to become a safer, more livable, pedestrian place,” Keesmaat said in a phone interview Wednesday.

    Keesmaat said the class will also do “a bit of a deep dive into the public documentation that’s available in the budget.”

    “I know where all the bodies are buried,” she said with a laugh.

    Dr. Richard DiFrancesco, the director of graduate programs in the planning department, said they are “thrilled” that Keesmaat has agreed to join U of T.

    “Jennifer’s unique blend of urban planning knowledge, knowledge of Toronto planning in particular, and her high-energy/high-clarity style made her an attractive candidate for us,” DiFrancesco said in an email.

    Keesmaat believes the city needs to build more urban infrastructure to accommodate the increasing density, and “build better pedestrian and cycling infrastructure.”

    “It’s not rocket science, it’s political.”

    Keesmaat said that the residence “will complement the other work that I’m doing very nicely.”

    While she did not elaborate on her other projects, she said it “has nothing to do with running for mayor” as some rumours have suggested.

    Keesmaat spent five years as chief planner, leading projects like the Eglinton Crosstown LRT and the King St. streetcar pilot project, before officially stepping down last month.

    She was also known for being outspoken and challenging Mayor John Tory over issues like the future of the Gardiner Expressway and a proposed subway stop in Scarborough.

    Keesmaat is one of three to receive the visitorship. She will be joined by Dr. John Curry, a retired professor who taught at the University of Northern British Columbia, and Stanley Makuch, a planning lawyer and adjunct professor at U of T.


    Jennifer Keesmaat to teach at University of TorontoJennifer Keesmaat to teach at University of Toronto

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    Sean Hannity is to journalism as a gun is to yoga.

    As the leading merchant of bile on Fox News — and that’s saying something — Hannity exists in a lucrative state of boiling rage. With the visage of a butter statue and the insights of a Gap mannequin, Hannity slips into high dudgeon each night and then proceeds to condemn anyone deemed an enemy of America, a list of turncoats and traitors that rarely includes any actual enemies of America.

    No, in Hannity’s funhouse of grievance and perceived threat, the enemies are always domestic. Russia could invade America and Hannity would blame California or Rachel Maddow. It’s a simple equation: anyone left of centre is scum. If a liberal scientist discovered a cure for cancer, Hannity would have no choice but to be pro-tumour.

    The no-fly list on his cultural radar now also includes “the mainstream media,” “the Hollywood elite,” and increasingly, “late-night comedians.”

    Sometimes, as on Tuesday night, Hannity wants them all jailed for treason.

    Broadcasting from Las Vegas, where the worst mass shooting in modern American history just horrified the world, Hannity was in no mood for the “disgraceful” mob of squeamish quislings who’ve had the nerve to resurrect the thorny issue of gun control after yet another shooting massacre.

    He glowered at the camera and played a few recent clips of late-night hosts delivering barbed commentary about the tragedy, including Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, Trevor Noah and Seth Meyers. The comedians were sombre and clearly rattled as they lamented the senselessness of it all, chastising the politicians who always send thoughts and prayers, but never change the laws.

    To Sean, this kind of caring is immoral.

    “This is beyond shameful, making political statements, calling for things like gun control less than 24 hours after something like this happens,” said Hannity, a gun enthusiast who’d definitely be calling for something within 24 seconds if the shooter had been named Ali or Mohammed.

    “It is utterly disgraceful.”

    Indeed. This “too soon” talking point, which was all over Fox News this week, is of course a red herring to distract from the fact that people like Hannity have no good arguments as to why any civilian should have easy and legal access to military-grade weaponry.

    This isn’t a political statement. It’s common sense. If seat cushions murdered as many Americans each year as firearms, do you know how illegal sofas would be right now?

    And the immediate aftermath of yet another gun-related killing spree is exactly the time to talk about it for the same reason we talk about viral contagions during an outbreak of Ebola and not six months later. If asteroids started falling out of the sky and wiping out entire towns, only a fool would say it’s too soon to look up.

    But Hannity was having none of the logic, which is his kryptonite.

    After mocking the late-night comedians, he trained his AK-47 of a mouth on the celebrities — including Lena Dunham, Lady Gaga, Gigi Hadid, Alyssa Milano and Sophia Bush — who also offered pointed commentary this week about gun control.

    “Now is not the time to make cheap political points, divide the country, push your cheap political agenda and try and use the tragedy to further a bitter, partisan agenda,” Hannity thundered, blissfully unaware of the irony.

    If the Emmys handed out a trophy for gall, Hannity’s “opening monologue” on Tuesday would be the clear front-runner. Here is a guy who does nothing except try to score cheap political points. The only way Hannity could be more divisive is if he cut people in half. Night after night, month after month, year after year, he pushes his partisan agenda like a dung beetle, rolling his ball of intellectually dishonest excrement against a backdrop in which there is neither shame nor objective truth.

    Forget guns for a moment. If Sean Hannity really loved America, he’d be calling for an immediate ban on Sean Hannity. But he doesn’t really love America. He just loves getting his fans to join him in a circle of hate. On Tuesday, amid the unhinged monologue, Hannity also played a clip from this weekend’s Saturday Night Live, in which Michael Che called Donald Trump a “cheap cracker” over the anemic disaster response in Puerto Rico.

    What did that clip have to do with the gun-control debate? Nothing.

    But then this bloated talking head has never concerned himself with facts or rational arguments. He is in the business of partisan spectacle, a man who makes millions by playing a superpatriot on TV. He is now locked into a war of his own making, a battle in which he drapes himself with the flag while simultaneously stomping on the values that have always defined American greatness.

    If Sean Hannity ever stopped shouting, he’d realize he is the enemy.

    vmenon@thestar.ca


    Is Sean Hannity an idiot? It’s not too soon to say: MenonIs Sean Hannity an idiot? It’s not too soon to say: Menon

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    MONTREAL—How many storms of its own making can Justin Trudeau’s government sustain before it takes a lasting hit in public opinion?

    As they reach mid-mandate the ruling Liberals are apparently determined to find out.

    Over the past few weeks the government has marched in disorderly fashion to some poorly planned policy battles.

    If there was meant to be a consistent thread to its core messaging, it has been lost in the shuffle.

    It sometimes seems like the right hand is unaware of what the left hand is doing. Or in this instance that the left hemisphere of the collective Liberal brain trust is disconnected from the right one.

    Exhibit A: Finance Minister Bill Morneau has spent weeks defending his plan to make changes to the tax rules that govern private corporations and endured much opposition grief over it. Since Parliament reopened for the fall sitting the issue has dominated the agenda.

    The debate has played out against the backdrop of a furious small business backlash that the minister is still scrambling to appease.

    Through it all he and the prime minister have maintained that the proposed changes are inspired by the Liberal pursuit of tax fairness.

    But that pursuit does not extend to Canada’s cultural industries.

    Exhibit B: Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly had promised to adjust Canada’s cultural policy to the new realities of a digital world. Last week the main change she delivered was a sweet deal for Netflix.

    Under the arrangement she negotiated, the American video streaming giant will be spared the fiscal and Canadian content obligations under which its domestic competitors operate in exchange for a commitment to invest $100 million a year in Canadian productions.

    The arrangement has set off the first real Quebec backlash of Trudeau’s mandate.

    Under Joly’s deal, the American company is under no obligation to set part of the agreed-upon $100 million aside to meet a minimal French-language production quota.

    Moreover Canada’s fledging French-language streaming platforms must collect the sales taxes from their subscribers and Netflix does not.

    After her policy announcement Joly set out on a whirlwind tour of Montreal’s media studios. She might as well have packed a shovel to dig herself in.

    On Saturday, La Presse’s veteran columnist Alain Dubuc challenged the minister’s contention that all countries are struggling to find a way to tax companies like Netflix. The title of his column was “Mélanie Joly’s alternative facts”.

    “Joly bows to Netflix’s law”, was Le Devoir’s choice for a headline on the federal policy.

    On Sunday the minister’s appearance on Tout le monde en parle — Canada’s most-watched French language talk show — fell squarely in the cringe-worthy category.

    She was notably at a loss to reconcile the decision to put Netflix on a different more favorable fiscal footing than Canada’s industry players and her government’s tax equity mantra.

    Joly’s central talking point — in French as in English — has been that her government is committed to not increasing the tax burden of the middle class. There will not be a Netflix tax, she stated repeatedly.

    But what goes for couch potatoes does not apply to potheads.

    Exhibit C: Less than 24 hours after Joly appeared on TLMEP, the prime minister told his provincial counterparts of his intention to introduce a 10 per cent cannabis tax. (The tax would initially be $1 per gram on every purchase under $10). Proceeds would be shared on a 50/50 basis with provinces.

    Predictably Canada’s first ministers — soon to be joined by some big-city mayors — are ready to spend the next few months haggling over their respective share of the federal tax.

    Somewhat lost in this debate is the purported central objective of running the cannabis black market out of business by running a competitive legal one. That will be hard to do if the price of legal weed is inflated by a variety of government taxes.

    To look at polls these days is to get a confusing picture of where the federal parties stand in voting intentions. Over the same two-week period some have reported a healthy Liberal lead where others have found none.

    But if consistency in messaging and policy matters to voters the polling picture is bound to become clearer if not necessarily nicer for the Liberals.

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


    Tax changes and Netflix deal show the muddle Trudeau’s government has created: HébertTax changes and Netflix deal show the muddle Trudeau’s government has created: Hébert

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    BELL MTS PLACE

    TV: Sportsnet, Radio: Sportsnet 590 The FAN

    KEY PLAYERS

    Matthews/Laine

    It’s a rematch of the top two rookies in the NHL from last season — the Leafs’ Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine of the Jets — and this never gets old, even though the two players wish the hype and comparisons would go away. Matthews looks superb and led the Leafs in scoring in the pre-season with five goals and two assists in four games. Laine had five goals and three assists in four games. The two should be among the top players in the league.

    NEED TO KNOW

    The Jets went with veteran Mathieu Perreault on the top line with Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler, making that decision this week after trying Kyle Connor and Nic Petan there. The second line will see Bryan Little between Laine and Nik Ehlers . . . Injuries to Matt Hendricks and Andrew Copp could mean slight changes to the third and fourth lines . . . Wheeler, Little, Tobias Enstrom and Dustin Byfuglien, are the only players left from October, 2011, when the Jets franchise moved from Atlanta to Winnipeg.

    UP NEXT

    Saturday, vs. New York Rangers

    Read more:

    Leafs still have to ‘line up the moon and the stars’: Feschuk

    Why not the Leafs?: Arthur

    Andreas Borgman, Eric Fehr grab last roster spots with Leafs


    LIVE: Leafs take early 3-0 lead over Jets in season openerLIVE: Leafs take early 3-0 lead over Jets in season openerLIVE: Leafs take early 3-0 lead over Jets in season openerLIVE: Leafs take early 3-0 lead over Jets in season opener

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