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    A top Dalton McGuinty aide dismissed concerns the energy minister was ignoring legal orders to disclose documents on the axing of two gas plants as “political bull----,” says the former head Ontario’s civil service.

    The bombshell testimony from one-time cabinet secretary Peter Wallace, now city manager for Toronto, came Monday at the criminal trial of David Livingston, chief of staff to McGuinty during his last months as premier.

    It was summer 2012 and McGuinty’s minority Liberals were under intense pressure from an opposition-controlled legislative committee to produce secret emails shedding light on reasons behind the controversial cancellations of the power plants in Oakville and Mississauga before the 2011 election.

    There was a “stark contrast” between “voluminous” boxes of documents revealed by energy ministry bureaucrats and the Ontario Power Authority, compared with “no disclosure” from the minister’s office, Wallace told Crown attorney Tom Lemon.

    The energy minister at the time was London lawyer Chris Bentley, although Wallace, cabinet secretary from 2011 to 2014, did not mention him by name.

    “I was acutely concerned I have a premier’s office and a minister’s office that may not be in compliance with a legally binding order,” Wallace continued, noting he was not sure if the political staff “has not fully understood…or ignored” the demand.

    Out of “an abundance of caution,” Wallace said he then had senior legal counsel in the cabinet office prepare three memos he would use to brief Livingston on the government’s responsibilities.

    The memos, presented in court, include an explanation of the legislative committee’s legal authority to compel the production of government records and responsibilities to retain proper records on official decisions.

    “I don’t think he found the conversation particularly useful,” Wallace told court as Livingston watched from several metres away with his legal team.

    “His language was ‘that’s political bull----.’”

    Wallace described the conversation as “tense.”

    Livingston and former deputy chief of staff Laura Miller are charged with breach of trust, mischief in relation to data and misuse of a computer system in the alleged wiping of hard drives in the McGuinty premier’s office before Premier Kathleen Wynne took power in February 2013.

    The defendants have pleaded not guilty. They face up to 10 years in prison. McGuinty was not under investigation and co-operated with police.

    Wallace said he and other bureaucrats “know we sent them an enormous number of documents,” making it “not credible” for the minister’s office to deny having emails requested by the committee of MPPs.

    Crown prosecutors have not yet produced evidence of any recovered emails in the trial, which is slated to continue into November. Ontario Provincial Police obtained search warrants and seized hard drives used in the premier’s office.

    The Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats accused the McGuinty government of cancelling the natural gas-fired power plants, which faced local opposition, at taxpayer expense to save Liberal seats in the 2011 election and allege a cover-up of the real reasons.

    Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk has reported the cancellations, and moving the plants to the Sarnia and Napanee areas, could cost up to $1.1 billion over 20 years.

    McGuinty has previously said the two plants were scrapped because they were located too close to residential areas.

    Wallace is back on the witness stand Tuesday.


    Top McGuinty aide dismissed gas plant concerns as Top McGuinty aide dismissed gas plant concerns as "political bull----"

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    All westbound lanes of Highway 401 are closed past Guelph Line following a five-vehicle collision that left the highway “very slippery.”

    The collision happened shortly before 9:30 a.m.

    “All the injuries are minor, but one vehicle is a transport truck, which has lost a load of diesel … and we have a diesel spill all across the highway.” says Sgt. Kerry Schmidt of the Ontario Provincial Police.

    Of the five vehicles involved, only one was a car, with the other four being commercial vehicles, some of which Schmidt says have been “completely destroyed” in the crash.

    “Speaking to the officers there, they say it’s like a bomb has gone off. There’s debris everywhere across the highway.”

    Cleanup crews are at work, but it could be several more hours before traffic can get through the westbound lanes, Schmidt says. He is asking drivers to avoid the area.

    The cause of the crash is not yet known.


    Highway 401 westbound closed at Guelph Line after crashHighway 401 westbound closed at Guelph Line after crash

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    A 36-year-old man has been killed in a hit and run in Mississauga, police say.

    Peel police responded to Dixie Rd. at Rathburn Rd. E. shortly before 11:30 a.m. for reports of a pedestrian struck by a vehicle that failed to remain on scene. A man was found with serious injuries, which he later succumbed to in hospital.

    The man had been crossing west across Dixie Rd. when he was struck, Const. Bancroft Wright said. Police are still not sure which direction the vehicle was coming from.

    Reports from the scene suggested that the vehicle could have been either an SUV or a truck.

    “Until we have a better description of the vehicle, we’d rather not speculate on it,” Wright said.

    Police are still investigating, and urge anyone with information to come forward.


    Pedestrian killed in Mississauga hit and runPedestrian killed in Mississauga hit and run

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    TALLAHASSEE, FLA.—Citing past clashes and protests, Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Monday declared a state of emergency in advance of a speech white nationalist Richard Spencer is scheduled to give at the University of Florida.

    The state’s Republican governor warned in an executive order Monday that a “threat of a potential emergency is imminent” in Alachua County, in north Florida. Spencer is slated to speak at the campus on Thursday and his pending appearance has already sparked protests in the university town.

    Spencer participated in a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that led to deadly violence in August.

    Scott’s executive order will allow local law-enforcement authorities to partner with state and other law-enforcement agencies to provide security for the event. The university has already said it expects to spend $500,000 on security.

    Read more: White nationalist Richard Spencer leads march in Charlottesville to defend Lee statue

    White nationalist groups are planning to be ‘more active than ever’ after Charlottesville violence

    The governor is also activating the Florida National Guard to help with security if it is needed. Scott said he declared the emergency after discussing Spencer’s speech with Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell.

    “We live in a country where everyone has the right to voice their opinion, however, we have zero tolerance for violence and public safety is always our number one priority,” Scott said in a statement. “This executive order is an additional step to ensure that the University of Florida and the entire community is prepared so everyone can stay safe.”

    Richard Spencer said the emergency declaration was “flattering” but “most likely overkill.”

    “I’m not a hurricane or an invading army, at least not literally,” he said during a telephone interview Monday.

    However, Spencer expressed concern that the emergency declaration could be used as a pretext for blocking his speech. He noted that Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe had declared a state of emergency on the day of the Charlottesville rally before Spencer and others could speak.

    “That was basically a means for suppressing the rally,” Spencer claimed.

    When he issued the declaration, McAuliffe had said via his Twitter account that he did it in order “to aid state response to violence” at the Charlottesville rally.

    University of Florida officials said it was the violence in Virginia that led them to reject a request from Spencer and his National Policy Institute, a white nationalist think-tank, to allow him to speak in September. After they threatened to sue, school officials said they would try to accommodate Spencer if he renewed his request for a different date.

    University of Florida President Kent Fuchs earlier this month asked students to stay away from the campus event. He wrote in an email that Spencer and his group seek only “to provoke a reaction.”

    Darnell said Scott’s executive order was not intended to “alarm anyone,” but to make sure that her office has the “resources and equipment to help us prepare for violence or widespread property damage.” Darnell said currently they are expecting both protesters and counterprotesters to show up in connection to Spencer’s appearance.

    “We are hoping this is a non-event,” Darnell said. “We are hoping this will go very smoothly and peacefully. But in the reality of this world we have to be well prepared.”


    Florida declares state of emergency ahead of Richard Spencer speech, white nationalist rallyFlorida declares state of emergency ahead of Richard Spencer speech, white nationalist rally

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    OTTAWA—Finance Minister Bill Morneau says he’d be willing to make changes to his financial affairs if asked to do so by the federal ethics watchdog as pressure mounts over why he hasn’t put his substantial assets in a blind trust.

    Questions about Morneau’s holdings and his credibility continued to dog the Liberal minister during a news conference Tuesday in Montreal.

    The former businessman was even asked if the escalating ethics controversy had him reconsidering his career in politics.

    “Absolutely not,” Morneau said in French.

    “I know that we still have things to do and, for me, I have a great privilege to have the opportunity to be with a team that will do very important things for people here, for the rest of our country. I would like to continue with this work.”

    Rumours have been circulating around Parliament Hill that Morneau’s interest in politics has waned.

    Read more: Trudeau and Morneau’s efforts to sugar-coat tax reforms turns into comedy of errors: Hébert

    Should we know what the federal finance minister owns?

    A key player in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet and architect of the Liberal government’s economic agenda, Morneau has faced mounting questions about his financial holdings after a media report revealed he did not put his assets into a blind trust.

    The day he was named to cabinet in November 2015, Morneau told CBC he had communicated with the ethics commissioner about his holdings in his human resources company, Morneau Shepell. He said he expected to put them in a blind trust, much like former Liberal finance minister Paul Martin did with Canada Steamship Lines.

    Morneau said Tuesday that after he became minister, he did everything ethics commissioner Mary Dawson asked of him to avoid any conflicts of interest — and is willing to do more, if necessary.

    “I will continue to consider exactly what I have to do to be certain that I don’t have conflicts,” Morneau said. “That’s our system. To me, I think it works well and if she gives me more recommendations to change my affairs in the future, I will do it.”

    Around the same time that Morneau spoke in Montreal, opposition parties in Ottawa were demanding more clarity about Morneau’s financial holdings.

    New Democrat MP Nathan Cullen called it a “striking example” of the appearance of conflict of interest involving a cabinet minister, since Morneau remains involved in Morneau Shepell, which works in the field of pensions and pension shifting.

    “The appearance of conflict of interest in this case is worrisome, it is shocking,” said Cullen, who has called on Dawson to investigate Morneau over pension-reform legislation that could benefit the finance minister through shares he owns in his company.

    “These increases in targeted benefit plans — that’s what Bill C-27 deals with — directly benefit Morneau Shepell and directly benefit the finance minister.”

    The Conservatives demanded that Morneau publicly divulge everything he has submitted to the ethics commissioner since the Liberals took office in 2015.

    In particular, Tory MP Pierre Poilievre said Morneau should disclose who controls his interests in Morneau Shepell.

    “Minister Morneau has not told the nation what became of his $30 million in Morneau Shepell shares,” Poilievre said. “We’re just asking him to come clean with Canadians.”

    In the House of Commons, opposition parties have attacked Morneau over the lack of a blind trust, as well as last week’s revelation that he failed to disclose a private company that owns a family villa in France.

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — who defended Morneau at a joint news conference Monday to the point of awkwardly fielding questions on his behalf — insists his finance minister has followed all federal ethics rules.


    Morneau open to changing financial affairs as Conservatives, NDP demand ethics investigationMorneau open to changing financial affairs as Conservatives, NDP demand ethics investigation

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    Ontario’s financial watchdog is sounding the alarm over the Liberal government’s 25-per-cent cut in residential electricity rates.

    Auditor general Bonnie Lysyk estimates the scheme, unveiled last May, could cost Ontarians an additional $4 billion in interest charges over the next 30 years.

    In Lysyk’s latest salvo against the provincial government over a continuing accounting dispute, she expressed concern about how the hydro rebate will appear on the books.

    “The accounting proposed by the government is wrong, and, if used, would make the province’s budgets and future consolidated financial statements unreliable,” the auditor general said Tuesday.

    “This cannot be taken lightly.”

    Her comments came as she tabled a 53-page special report on the Liberals’ “Fair Hydro Plan.”

    Lysyk’s concern about the plan echoes that of province’s financial accountability officer who predicted in May that it will cost the province $45 billion over the next 29 years while saving ratepayers $24 billion for a $21-billion net expense.

    Facing a massive outcry over soaring hydro rates in many parts of the province, Premier Kathleen Wynne moved forward with the generous rebates.

    As of Jan. 1, Wynne removed the 8-per-cent provincial portion of the harmonized sales tax from electricity bills.

    That was followed up by an additional 17-per-cent cut that took effect over the summer.

    The government has justified borrowing money to pay ratepayers by likening it to refinancing a mortgage to enjoy lower payments over a longer time on nuclear reactors, natural gas-fired power plants, and wind turbines.

    Lysyk estimated that could mean an extra $4 billion in interest charges over the next 30 years.

    The charges are extra, because the province will not borrow all the money directly, doing so, instead, through a complex financial structure that includes Ontario Power Generation, among other Crown agencies.

    “Internal records show that senior government officials were aware their approach to borrowing could result in Ontarians paying significantly more than necessary,” the auditor general said.

    But a 56-page KPMG analysis prepared for the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) concluded the government’s accounting was fine.

    In a 1,037-word rebuttal included at the end of Lysyk’s report, the government disputed her findings.

    “The government of Ontario does not agree with the assertions and conclusions expressed in the report. (This) is delivering the single-largest reduction in electricity rates in the province’s history,” the Liberal government responded.

    “In developing (this), the government considered a range of implementation options and consulted with legal, accounting, financial and energy sector third-party experts to provide advice and ensure due diligence was completed,” it said, noting it operates “under a financial and accounting framework that is appropriate for the intended purpose and in accordance with Public Sector Accounting Standards (PSAS) and ensures that the fairness goals underlying the program are achieved in a cost-effective manner.”

    The province also rejected some of Lysyk’s base assumptions in her report.

    “Since 2003, nearly $70 billion has been invested in the electricity system, including more than $37 billion in electricity generation to ensure the system is clean and reliable,” the government said.

    “The majority of the province’s electricity generators operate under 20-year contracts. Despite the report’s assertion that it is ‘not at all’ certain if these generating assets will be operating beyond their contract lives, third-party experts have confirmed that many of these generators will be able to continue to operate,” it said.

    “This means that generating assets are expected to have ongoing useful life and benefit future ratepayers by reducing the need to finance the development of new generating assets.”

    As well, the province said that the so-called “peak debt” of the 30-year life of the Fair Hydro Plan has been adjusted downward from $28 billion in March to around $20 billion.

    Lysyk has been sparring with the government over accounting practices for more than a year.

    The original actuarial dispute stemmed from a difference of opinion over whether the government should include, in its bottom line, its share of assets from the teachers’ and public servants’ pension funds that it co-sponsors.

    A government-appointed panel of accounting experts sided with Queen’s Park that the pension assets should be allowed to count toward the bottom line.


    25 per cent hydro rebate could cost an additional $4B over next 30 years25 per cent hydro rebate could cost an additional $4B over next 30 years

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    Lorinda Stewart was dismayed when the Hollywood ending she had played over and over again in her mind during the 460 days her daughter was held hostage in Somalia didn’t unfold as she envisioned.

    “I was shocked by the skeletal girl standing before me,” Stewart writes in her newly-released book, One Day Closer, about the time she first saw her freed daughter Amanda Lindhout in a Nairobi hospital in November 2009.

    “But hardest to bear was her eyes, surrounded by dark circles. They were haunted with experiences of pain and sadness that no one else could comprehend. Any fantasies I had held about Amanda’s release and our return to our ‘before’ life were shattered. We had a very long journey still ahead of us.”

    Stewart spoke to the Star Monday, alongside Lindhout, talking about that eight-year journey to heal and revealing the behind-the-scenes details of ransom negotiations that freed her daughter.

    They also offered compassion and advice for the families of Caitlan Coleman and Joshua Boyle, whose story continues to unfold since the couple’s dramatic rescue Wednesday in Pakistan, along with their three children. The couple had been held for five years by the Afghanistan-based Haqqani network — their two sons and daughter were all born in captivity.

    “I truly hope for the families people will be kind and put down their judgments as people really don’t know the facts of the whole story,” Stewart said about the couple, who were kidnapped in Afghanistan in 2012, during a backpacking trip.

    “My experience of those first years post-release, it was really difficult to reintegrate and come back into the world fundamentally a changed person,” Lindhout said. “I found it difficult to access the kind of psychological care that I really needed after that kind of specific and unique trauma. I remember feeling quite lost and had really bad post-traumatic stress disorder, but not really understanding my condition.”

    She also remembers the “victim shaming” — questions as to why as a freelance journalist would venture into war-torn Somalia. “When I’m reading the commentary online for Josh and Caitlan my heart really goes out to them and I hope they’re trying to avoid it as much as possible and focus on their recovery.”

    Read more:

    Accused Lindhout kidnapper admitted receiving $10K of ransom: RCMP officer

    ‘We’re looking forward to a new lease on life,’ Joshua Boyle tells the Star after five-year kidnapping nightmare

    Star investigation: Held hostage

    Lindhout wrote a book about her ordeal, A House in the Sky, which has been a bestseller since 2013. Her mother’s memoir fills in the details of what she couldn’t have known during her agonizing captivity.

    Stewart’s book’s title was the mantra both she and her daughter, unbeknown to each other, would repeat to themselves each day: “One day closer” to release.

    Aside from being a love story between a mother who refused to lose hope and her strong-willed daughter, Stewart’s book is also an indictment of the Canadian government’s handling of the case.

    “I have a long list of people to forgive, coming out of this, and definitely I’m still struggling with the government, and how they handled us, how they managed us,” Stewart said Monday.

    Her intimate and detailed description of Ottawa’s involvement confirms what an eight-part Star investigation found in December. With more than 50 interviews to gather first-time accounts from families, hostages, witnesses, government, military, intelligence officials and private security consultants, the Star found that Ottawa’s kidnapping protocols were in dire need of an overhaul.

    In her book, she writes of how she put all her faith into Ottawa and followed the instructions of the RCMP, whose negotiators kept telling her they never had a failure in 17 years. She became the chief contact with the kidnappers and moved into a home that became their “war room,” which was staffed 24/7 with RCMP liaison officers.

    Sometimes her phone would ring constantly but she was told she could not answer and not told why. Stewart writes of her agony, breaking down at the thought of her daughter on the other end, thinking she had been abandoned.

    “At one point, the negotiator on duty that day told me that if I tried to answer the phone he would rip it out of the wall,” Stewart wrote. “That comment hurt and puzzled me. I had pretty much been a model co-operative agent.”

    Stewart was largely kept in the dark about what Ottawa was doing — but was then given the monumental and emotional task of being the main contact with the kidnappers.

    Above all, she was forbidden from trying to raise ransom money — which was the kidnappers’ demand. This caused friction with the family of Australian photographer Nigel Brennan, who was taken along with Lindhout.

    Then nearly a year after Lindhout was kidnapped, Ottawa told her that she should find a new place to live — the war room in Alberta was shutting down because, “the lack of progress no longer justifies our expense.”

    Stewart’s feeling of abandonment grew to “disgust” with Ottawa’s handling of the case.

    “After our unwavering allegiance to Ottawa, we began to realize the extent to which we had been skilfully managed through promises, lies and the philosophy of reciprocity,” she writes.

    Three hundred and forty days into her daughter’s captivity, she began fundraising and, along with Brennan’s family, hired the private security firm AKE. It told her negotiations for ransom typically lasted for three months, and they suggested hiring a Somali translator to help her talk with the kidnapper’s contact, who called himself “Adam.”

    “It changed things immediately. If we would have had a translator right at the very beginning, I’m sure we could have avoided all of the colossal misunderstandings” Stewart said Monday.

    Forty days and a ransom of about $600,000 later, Lindhout and Brennan were free.

    Although in principle both mother and daughter agree ransoms should not be paid and understand why governments cannot— they say relatives should not fear criminal sanctions if they decide to pay when their loved one’s life is at risk. “It’s against the law and punishable by jail time if you pay a ransom. Clearly we would feel that is really unfair and doesn’t serve anybody, because ransoms are going to be paid,” Lindhout said.

    While both Stewart and Lindhout’s books are heartbreaking, they say their lives now are the exact opposite. “Who we are today is because of the choices we make … and we choose to be happy after the fact,” Stewart said. “This is only a part of who we are, it’s not who we are.”

    As they talk to the journalists in Toronto this week about Stewart’s book, in Ottawa, the trial of one of Lindhout’s alleged kidnappers wraps up.

    The man Stewart knew by phone as “Adam,” was lured to Canada by the RCMP on a promise of his own book deal and arrested for her kidnapping upon arrival.

    Mother and daughter both testified earlier this month and say they are tremendously relieved that their involvement is over.

    “I’m definitely not attached to any outcome. But I never was,” Lindhout said about the verdict, as her mother agreed. “My healing was never contingent on those guys — any one of them — being in jail. I just trust the system and the process, as he too is living his destiny.”


    Mother of ex-hostage Amanda Lindhout speaks out on ‘victim shaming,’ Joshua Boyle and her ‘disgust’ with OttawaMother of ex-hostage Amanda Lindhout speaks out on ‘victim shaming,’ Joshua Boyle and her ‘disgust’ with Ottawa

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    OTTAWA—A new study suggests Victoria is the best city in Canada to be a woman, despite the wage gap between men and women there worsening slightly in recent years.

    The study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives looks at differences between men’s and women’s access to economic and personal security, education, health and positions of leadership in Canada’s 25 biggest cities.

    The CCPA says Victoria is the only city on the list where more women than men are employed, and they account for nearly half of all senior managers and elected officials.

    But it says the wage gap in the city is on par with the rest of the country, with women earning 73 per cent of what men do — slightly worse than five years ago.

    In Windsor, Ont., which ranked worst in the study, the wage gap is actually smaller than average, with women making about 75 per cent of what men earn.

    But the study says only 23 per cent of elected officials and 34 per cent of senior managers in the region are women, and women are more likely to be living below the poverty line than men.

    The CCPA also says that sexual assault is the only violent crime that’s not on the decline in Canada, and every city still struggles with high rates of sexual and domestic violence.

    “Statistics will never be a substitute for the full experience of lives lived. But as signposts they mark the spot where more attention is needed from our political leaders and policy-makers,” says study author Kate McInturff, a senior researcher at CCPA. “We hope they follow through.”

    Here is the CCPA’s ranking of the cities it studied:

    1. Victoria

    2. Gatineau

    3. Hamilton

    4. Kingston

    5. Vancouver

    6. Quebec City

    7. St. John’s

    8. Sherbrooke

    9. Halifax

    10. Toronto

    11. Ottawa

    12. London

    13. Kelowna

    14. Abbotsford-Mission

    15. Montreal

    16. St. Catharines-Niagara

    17. Winnipeg

    18. Edmonton

    19. Saskatoon

    20. Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo

    21. Regina

    22. Calgary

    23. Barrie

    24. Oshawa

    25. Windsor


    What is the best Canadian city for a woman? Toronto is ranked 10thWhat is the best Canadian city for a woman? Toronto is ranked 10th

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    WASHINGTON—U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday warned Sen. John McCain that “I fight back” after McCain questioned “half-baked, spurious nationalism” in America’s foreign policy.

    McCain, a former Navy pilot who spent 5 ½ years in a Vietnam prisoner of war camp and is battling brain cancer, offered a simple response to Trump: “I have faced tougher adversaries.”

    Trump said in a radio interview with WMAL in Washington, “I’m being very, very nice but at some point I fight back and it won’t be pretty.” He bemoaned McCain’s decisive vote this past summer in opposition to a GOP bill to dismantle Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, a move that caused the failure of GOP efforts to repeal and replace “Obamacare.”

    In Philadelphia on Monday night, the six-term Republican senator from Arizona received an award for a lifetime of service and sacrifice to the country. In addition to recalling his more than two decades of military service and his imprisonment during the war, McCain took a moment to go a step further than the night’s other speakers, who lamented what many described as a fractured political climate.

    “To abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems,” he said, “is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.”

    He continued: “We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil.”

    Former Vice-President Joe Biden presented McCain with the Liberty Medal. Though members of opposing parties, the two men worked together during their time in the Senate. Former president Barack Obama, who defeated McCain in his bid for the presidency in 2008, congratulated the senator on the award in a tweet Monday night.

    “I’m grateful to @SenJohnMcCain for his lifetime of service to our country. Congratulations, John, on receiving this year’s Liberty Medal,” Obama wrote.

    Another political foe, 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, said on Twitter: “Ran against him, sometimes disagree, but proud to be a friend of @SenJohnMcCain: hero, champion of character and last night, Lincolnesque.”

    Pressed on Trump’s threat Tuesday morning, McCain told reporters he has had tougher fights, and then smiled.

    Trump said in the radio interview that McCain’s vote against Republican efforts to dismantle the 2010 health care law was a “shocker.”

    McCain and Trump have long been at odds. During the campaign, Trump suggested McCain was not a war hero because he was captured in Vietnam.


    Trump warns ‘I fight back’ after McCain calls out ‘half-baked, spurious nationalism’Trump warns ‘I fight back’ after McCain calls out ‘half-baked, spurious nationalism’

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    Sidewalk Labs, sister company of Google, is officially confirmed to have won a competition to build a new high-tech neighbourhood called Quayside on the east downtown waterfront.

    Waterfront Toronto, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Premier Kathleen Wynne, Mayor John Tory and Sidewalk Lab officials are making the announcement at Corus Quay today.

    The board of Waterfront Toronto, the federal-provincial-city agency overseeing the so-called Quayside project, is expected to vote at an Oct. 20 meeting whether to confirm the agency’s staff recommendation arising from a rigorous competitive bid process launched in May.

    If confirmed by Waterfront Toronto’s board, the choice of a firm owned by Google holding company Alphabet Inc. would be a big high-tech feather in the cap of the city currently chasing the second headquarters of Amazon and other innovation opportunities.

    Quayside is envisioned by the agency as a testbed for cutting-edge technology as well as a bustling, functioning neighbourhood, with homes, offices, retail and cultural space, near Queens Quay E. and Parliament St.

    Sidewalk Labs is Alphabet’s urban innovation unit, with a stated goal of “reimagining cities from the Internet up.”

    Dan Doctoroff, the company’s chief executive and co-founder, told a conference in New York City last May that his company was “looking into developing a large-scale district” to act as its smart city test bed.

    The community would be universally connected by broadband and could have, Doctoroff said, prefab modular housing, sensors to constantly monitor building performance, and robotic delivery services to cut residential storage space, The Architects’ Newspaper reported in May.

    Improving transportation would be a focus, possibly with self-driving cars and design to encourage biking and walking, he told the conference. World-leading environmental sustainability could include thermal exchange systems to capture wasted building heat, and smart sensors to limit energy use.

    Waterfront Toronto says the 4.9-hectare (12-acre) site will be “a testbed for emerging technologies, materials and processes that will address these challenges and advance solutions that can be replicated in cities worldwide.”

    The agency said the winning bidder must propose plans to foster sustainability, resiliency and urban innovation; complete communities with a range of housing types for families of all sizes and income levels; economic development and prosperity driving innovation that will be rolled out to the rest of the world; and partnership and investment ensuring a solid financial foundation that secures revenue and manages financial risk.

    Development of the three publicly owned blocks at the east end of Queens Quay will eventually include redesign and reconstruction of the intersection of Queens Quay and Parliament St.

    Toronto tech leaders at a Smart Cities event in Toronto last May said the city is on the cusp of a tech boom, noting talk of Google interest in the city and Uber’s decision to make Toronto a hub for driverless car research.


    Google firm wins competition to build high-tech Quayside neighbourhood in TorontoGoogle firm wins competition to build high-tech Quayside neighbourhood in Toronto

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    A report comes to light after an investigation by journalists, including the Star, into a pattern of potentially-dangerous leaks and secrecy in Sarnia’s Chemical Valley.

    Ontario government ignored health warnings from its own engineers about Sarnia’s Chemical Valley, report claimsOntario government ignored health warnings from its own engineers about Sarnia’s Chemical Valley, report claims

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    Taquisha McKitty’s family believes she is still showing signs of life after being declared brain dead last month, lawyer said.

    Brampton family is asking for more time to conduct tests on daughter declared brain deadBrampton family is asking for more time to conduct tests on daughter declared brain dead

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  • 10/17/17--15:37: Article 0

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    A lot has been said, and written, about the proposed Lawrence East SmartTrack station in Scarborough. Public hearings opened up last week on John Tory’s proposed additions to the provincial GO Regional Express Rail plan, and the politics of the approval of that particular station have been in the news for months — the auditor general is investigating the decision to place a station on Lawrence.

    Much, but not all, of that discussion revolves around how many people are expected to use that station, if and when it ever opens. And while I think it’s good that authorities investigate and debate the questions that have arisen properly, I also think it’s worthwhile to note that a couple of key variables will to a large extent determine the ridership and usefulness of that station. These are variables that still haven’t really been sorted out to anyone’s satisfaction: bus service, and fares. These are going to be a bigger determinant, I think, than potential development at the station. At least in the short term.

    “Shoshanna Saxe, an assistant professor of civil engineering and a member of the University of Toronto’s Transportation Research Institute, said there’s only so much the government can do. She noted the area has had a rapid transit stop in the Scarborough Rapid Transit station for more than three decades and development remains low,” a story in the Star read this week. “Demand is something that the city and the province can try and nudge, they can try and inspire, but if the market isn’t there, that’s not within the city’s control,” she went on to say.

    I think she’s certainly right that the station there, like most SRT stations, has not generated development around it. But my experience tells me that doesn’t necessarily tell us much about the demand and potential demand for service there. And not just because SmartTrack/RER promises a one-seat trip to Union Station in about 17 minutes, whereas making the same trip today starting at Lawrence East SRT would require changing trains twice and take half an hour. It’s something more than that.

    As it happens, I lived in Scarborough, between Markham Rd. and Bellamy, south of Lawrence, for much of 14 years, and in that time I did not have a driver’s license. I took the TTC every day, including downtown to Ryerson for the years I attended school there. During that time, Lawrence East was the closest transit station to my house. And during that time, I may only have set foot inside that station half a dozen times.

    That’s because the two bus options close to my house went directly to Warden subway station, which was twice the distance away. The bus trip to Lawrence East, if I were to make it, required a transfer, and would take just as long or longer than the one-bus trip to Warden.

    My own experience wasn’t some weird quirk. Almost every north-south bus route in Scarborough feeds people to one of a few stations: Scarborough Town Centre, Kennedy, or Warden. Not surprisingly, those three stations have tremendously high ridership.

    Warden station, with eight different bus connections, saw almost 30,000 passengers a day in 2015. Lawrence East, with one single bus line connection, attracted only 8,130.

    The passengers go where TTC buses or streetcars take them. It isn’t some oddity of Scarborough, either. Chester subway station is a short walk from both Broadview and Pape stations along the Danforth. Those three stations are in the same neighbourhood — the development and population density around those three stations is the same. And yet: Broadview, served by two streetcar lines and four bus lines, serves over 33,000 passengers a day. Pape, fed by four bus lines including the mighty Don Mills, serves 28,700 passengers a day. And Chester, served by zero bus connections, is among the TTC’s least-used stations, serving only 7,700 per day — less than Lawrence East SRT!

    Outside of the downtown core, where the massive office density makes stations like St. Andrew hubs of walk-in or walk-out traffic, it’s the same across the system. Royal York Station, served by four bus routes, sees 20,000 passengers per day, while a kilometre away Old Mill has only one bus connection and serves only 6,600 passengers.

    Glencairn station has no bus platform and only one connecting bus route and serves only 5,700 passengers, while Lawrence West and Eglinton West immediately north and south of it each have four bus routes coming into their platforms, and serve roughly three times as many passengers each.

    If you want more passengers at Lawrence East, whether it’s an RT, LRT, subway, or GO station in the end, you just need to run the buses from the surrounding area into it. To some great extent, at least.

    But if it’s a GO (RER or SmartTrack) station of some kind, you need something else, too. You need the fare to be the same as for transferring to a TTC vehicle. Back when I lived in Scarborough and travelled to Ryerson every day, my bus to Warden station travelled directly past two different GO stations. Transferring onto the GO train would have cut my commute time significantly. But my TTC transfer was no good there. I would have had to buy a GO ticket (about double the price of the TTC fare on its own) and then because of the TTC’s transfer rules, I also would have had to pay an additional TTC fare to take a subway from Union up to school. So my options were to pay quadruple the price to take the GO train or ride twice as long on the TTC. I was a broke student. Like most Scarborough to downtown commuters, I stayed on the bus.

    Now, service at a TTC fare was part of MayorJohn Tory’s promise for SmartTrack. And the SmartTrack website today claims that these stations, though they will be operated by GO Transit, will be served by TTC buses. But I haven’t heard with any certainty that TTC fares will be honoured (Metrolinx makes frequent reference to “fare integration,” which sounds like wiggling to me), and I have seen no detailed plans for how SmartTack and the one-stop subway plan do or don’t change the bus-feeder network.

    My sense, based not on expertise but on experience, is that the potential usefulness — and business — of a station like Lawrence East will depend directly on those two things. If we’re talking about that station, then alongside the behind-the-scenes intrigue and the talk of development potential, we should be talking about buses and fares.

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


    Here's how to make the Lawrence East SmartTrack station a success: KeenanHere's how to make the Lawrence East SmartTrack station a success: Keenan

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    Public hearings will begin Thursday on a proposed law to create protest-free zones around abortion clinics, just two days after the now-expedited bill passed second reading.

    Bill 163 was approved by MPPs present from all three major parties, with only Jack MacLaren (Carleton-Mississippi Mills) — a former Progressive Conservative who is now a member of the fledgling Trillium Party of Ontario — voting against.

    The Safe Access to Abortion Services Act allows for buffer zones of 50 metres, and up to 150 metres, around abortion clinics, and also protest-free areas around the homes of clinic doctors and staff, as well as pharmacies and any agencies that provide pills to terminate pregnancies.

    Attorney General Yasir Naqvi said the legislation was in response to the recent, increasing harassment of women outside of abortion clinics, and in particular at the Morgentaler Clinic in Ottawa.

    Almost two weeks ago, Progressive Conservative MPP Lisa MacLeod tried to get the bill passed on the spot, but the Liberals refused — widely seen as a way for the government to keep an issue that has been divisive for the PCs in the news.

    On Monday, however, the parties agreed to an expedited process.

    “I think that we have a moment here, a moment to take a stand,” said MacLeod (Nepean-Carleton) speaking in the House. “As female legislators and as male legislators … We have an opportunity in this moment to make change. Whether that’s keeping women safe from harassment at a clinic, or whether that’s keeping women safe when they go out at night, that’s a role we have to play. That’s our duty, in fact.”

    Indira Naidoo-Harris, the provincial minister of the status of women, noted that “some clinics experience protest on an almost daily basis …

    “The complaints about what is happening outside of the clinics have been increasing. Patients and staff are scared and that is unacceptable. We should not forget the history of violent activity conducted by anti-abortion protestors, the arson attacks and bombings and the shooting of clinic doctors in the 1990s.”

    The NDP’s Peggy Sattler said while she welcomes the bill, she is “angry … about the political context that brought us here.”


    Ontario’s abortion safe zone passes second readingOntario’s abortion safe zone passes second reading

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    Score another win for Donald Trump’s high-handed version of protectionism. Monday’s decision by Montreal-based Bombardier to give away control over its much-vaunted C Series jet virtually guarantees that the U.S. will get the lion’s share of any new jobs created.

    It also threatens to saddle taxpayers in Quebec and the rest of Canada with a good chunk of the $6 billion debt Bombardier incurred developing the jet.

    How did Canada’s most important state-subsidized, high-tech company get into this mess? The long answer is complicated and involves corporate incompetence as well as the geopolitics of the global aerospace industry.

    The short answer is the election of America First advocate Trump as U.S. president.

    The latest chapter of this ongoing saga began in April when American aerospace giant Boeing formally complained to the U.S. Commerce Department about Bombardier’s proposed sale of 125 C Series jets to Delta Air Lines.

    Charging that the project had been improperly subsidized by the Canadian and Quebec governments, Boeing asked that an 80 per cent tariff be slapped on any C Series plane entering the U.S.

    The Trump administration was more than agreeable. It imposed a preliminary tariff of 300 per cent, thereby making the Canadian-manufactured jet virtually unsalable in the lucrative U.S. market.

    That posed a real problem.

    Bombardier’s solution was quite simple. It was to move production of planes intended for the U.S. market to a plant in Alabama.

    That non-union plant is owned by the European aerospace giant Airbus.

    For Airbus, the arrangement is sweet. In return for letting Bombardier use its Alabama plant, it gets just over 50 per cent of the C Series project for free. It doesn’t have to pony up a cent.

    Nor does it have to absorb any of Bombardier’s sizable $8.7 billion debt, much of which was incurred developing the C Series.

    For Bombardier too, this is a good deal. By moving assembly from Canada to the U.S., it avoids the 300 per cent tariff and keeps the Delta sale alive. As well, it gets to locate its American production in a so-called right-to-work state that promises cheap wages and is vehemently anti-union.

    While it no longer controls the C Series, Bombardier does get to keep a 31 per cent stake in the project for at least 7.5 years. And it can take advantage of Airbus’ global reach to market the jet.

    I am not sure that this is such a good deal for Quebec. Its 49.5 per cent stake in the project, for which it paid $1.25 billion, has been whittled down to just over 19 per cent.

    Ottawa has sunk less into Bombardier. Its latest contribution to the C Series bailout was a $372.5 million loan — which it might get back. Bombardier has repaid roughly one half of the $1.3 billion in federal loans it and its predecessor companies were given between 1996 and 2008.

    But the Airbus deal effectively marks another failure in Canada’s long-running efforts to nurture a homegrown aerospace industry. It seems we are not big enough to go it alone.

    Economic benefits? The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which represents Bombardier’s Montreal plant, says it is pleased that the roughly 2,000 people working on the C Series there are to keep their jobs.

    But the question of where new jobs might go remains unresolved.

    Certainly, Alabama will get any new jobs involved in the manufacture of jets for the U.S. market. State Governor Kay Ivey has already issued a press release welcoming them. But where will the project’s new owner, Airbus, locate production for other markets?

    It could choose Bombardier’s unionized plant in Montreal and win the eternal gratitude of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

    Or it could choose its cheaper, non-union plant in Alabama and score points with protectionist Trump who, whether you like him or not, is still the most powerful man in the world.

    Thomas Walkom appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday.


    Bombardier jet giveaway hands Donald Trump another victory: WalkomBombardier jet giveaway hands Donald Trump another victory: Walkom

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    There is nothing quite like the sight of opposition politicians circling when they smell political blood in the water.

    Particularly when the fish is as big as the federal finance minister.

    Tuesday, Bill Morneau swam away. It did nothing to slow the Commons feeding frenzy.

    This is not the way the Liberals envisioned celebrating Small Business Week, also known as Liberal Climb Down Week, and we’re just getting to hump day.

    Read more:

    Morneau open to changing financial affairs as Conservatives, NDP demand ethics investigation

    Should we know what the federal finance minister owns?

    Trudeau and Morneau’s efforts to sugar-coat tax reforms turns into comedy of errors: Hébert

    But rarely, if ever, has a federal minister blindly — or in this case non-blindly — walked himself into such a morass because Morneau, operating in a majority government, has somehow taken a campaign pledge promising tax fairness and turned it into a career-threatening crisis.

    And so it was that one of the Conservatives’ top sharks, finance critic Pierre Poilievre, rose in the Commons to invoke, “he who has the most control over the nation’s finances, should have the most transparency over his interests.’’

    Then New Democrat Nathan Cullen pronounced the Morneau scandal “unprecedented,” and “jaw-dropping,’’ and asked how he could continue to do his job while enshrouded in such controversy of his own making.

    By neglecting to put his substantial holdings into a blind trust, Cullen argued that Morneau was in conflict after introducing a bill that would make it easier for federally-regulated businesses to move from defined benefit pensions to riskier targeted benefit pensions.

    Morneau’s family company, Morneau Shephell, would benefit from such a plan and the minister could personally benefit if he still has shares.

    The finance minister was in Montreal, not Question Period, Tuesday, and that is only one of a series of serious missteps by the government on the fiscal reform file, which it must address or pay a steep price.

    • Morneau and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have been successfully painted by the opposition as elitist and out of touch, not the saviours of the middle class as they had marketed themselves. Trudeau has placed his “family fortune” in a blind trust and his finance minister’s failure to do so has allowed the focus to fall on his personal wealth.

    They face legitimate charges they are out of touch with farmers and the fishing industry in this country and were tone deaf in protecting their own interests while initially making it harder for a farm to be passed on to the next generation.

    • The Liberals are showing the same contempt for Parliament and the Parliamentary Press Gallery for which they vilified Stephen Harper.

    They made their tax cut announcement at a Stouffville restaurant, at a symbolic Main Street address with partisan background plumage, a tried-and-true Tory tactic of getting out of Ottawa to locations where they can better stage manage their message.

    Neither Trudeau nor Morneau bothered to show up for Question Period to answer opposition questions Monday or Tuesday.

    And Trudeau, a self-styled admirer of parliamentary reporters, managed to look condescending and arrogant in telling reporters in Stouffville that questions directed at his finance minister would have to go through him because he was the prime minister.

    It reduced the man who should be his most powerful minister to a piece of wallpaper.

    • A government accused of too much consulting apparently consulted no one, not even its own caucus, before bringing in tax reforms.

    Morneau touted a listening tour before the government unveiled a series of tweaks to their reform package and announced they would lower the small business tax rate, but that was a listening tour foisted on him. Union leaders say he also consulted with no one before introducing the pensions bill.

    • A majority government should be able to get a tax fairness package, part of their election platform, through Parliament.

    This could bode ill going forward. Trudeau could have pushed this package through with proper communications, so the government will have to look at this debacle and make sure it is not repeated on marijuana legislation, where substantial problems with provinces, municipalities and the police loom.

    • Morneau’s future.

    He is hurt in that he is neither a natural communicator nor a natural politician. He is willing to meet with Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson again and willing to put his assets in a blind trust if instructed. That would be two years after Dawson told him it wasn’t necessary. His instincts should have told him to do it regardless.

    The old cliché holds that a week is a lifetime in politics.

    Morneau has been stumbling around this minefield for a couple months. That could come with a cost.

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


    Morneau walks himself into a political crisis: Tim HarperMorneau walks himself into a political crisis: Tim Harper

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    What precedes the most wonderful time of the year?

    The most offensive time of the year, of course — a.k.a. Halloween.

    It’s the only holiday that makes school principals and university deans cower in fear, not on account of ghosts or witches or any other supernatural threat, but because of something very real: the likelihood that, sooner or later, some kid will show up for class in a cable-knit sweater brandishing a bottle of pills, i.e. clad in a DIY costume of accused serial rapist Bill Cosby.

    Or, to use a more current example, they know a student is bound to show up at school wearing a nice suit with a big pillow tucked under his shirt, in an attempt to resemble alleged serial predator Harvey Weinstein. (Yes, people have already begun doing this. I Googled it. I wish I hadn’t.)

    But the costume that will likely take the cake for most bizarre and offensive in 2017 isn’t that of any living person, but one long dead: a costume depicting Holocaust victim Anne Frank.

    The ensemble, which went viral this week provoking major backlash online, comes complete with a “beret,” a “shoulder bag” and a “felt destination tag.” Its product description on halloweencostumes.com actually read, “We can always learn from the struggles of history!” No kidding.

    But perhaps the getup’s most outrageous element is that the child modelling the costume on the website was pictured grinning with her head cocked to one side and her hand on her hip. In other words, she looked less like a victim of the Nazi regime and more like a girl named Madison posing for a photo at her Bat Mitzvah party at Casa Loma.

    Needless to say, the Anne Frank costume triggered so much outrage it has since been pulled from the popular Halloween website.

    But other tasteless attire there remains to strike fear into the hearts of school administrators. Among them: “Native American Beauty Costume,” “Arab Costume,” “Tween Jade Geisha Costume,” “Pregnant School Girl Costume,” “Child Will Work for Candy Hobo Costume,” and last but certainly not least, “Frank the Flasher,” which appears to be a combination of a raincoat and nude jumpsuit affixed with an enormous plastic penis.

    Eliminate one Anne Frank getup and a thousand different but equally deranged costumes are still there for the taking.

    It’s not surprising then that some institutions are so wary of offending or frightening anyone they have done away with Halloween altogether.

    One of them, the brand new École Sage Creek School in Winnipeg, announced recently that, instead of Halloween, it will celebrate a “tie and scarf day.” The school’s principal told the CBC this week that this decision arose in part because there is a concern Halloween might inspire some students to wear costumes that are too gory and not age-appropriate (think sexy zombie).

    And while not going as far as cancelling Halloween, a French school board in Ontario has released a costume checklist for parents, to help their kids avoid outfits that make use of cultural or ethnic stereotypes.

    And yet I can’t help but strongly doubt that any of these tactics will actually work to dissuade the truly committed young s--- disturber from putting on his most convincing Bill Cosby sweater or makeshift suicide bomber vest come October 31.

    Human beings who choose to wear such costumes, generally speaking, live to scandalize their fellow man, and their worst fear on Halloween isn’t that Bloody Mary will appear in the mirror, but that they won’t sufficiently repulse the people around them.

    So the best punishment for this kind of person, it seems to me, is to fight his extremely poor taste with extremely good taste.

    Come October, schools and colleges should compile a large collection of painfully wholesome costumes. In fact, they should go online right now and order the following: Teletubby, Mailman, Olaf from Frozen, EMT worker (and for couples), Peanut Butter and Jelly.

    It should follow that any student who shows up in a racist or otherwise highly offensive costume would be asked to change into one of these wholesome outfits immediately.

    Who knows, such a student may come to seriously reconsider his Harvey Weinstein fat suit or his Anne Frank beret when he is forced to wear a costume that mortifies nobody but himself.

    Emma Teitel is a national affairs columnist.


    Anne Frank, Harvey Weinstein Halloween costumes call for drastic measures: TeitelAnne Frank, Harvey Weinstein Halloween costumes call for drastic measures: Teitel

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    Sidewalk Labs, sister company of Google, is officially confirmed to have won a competition to build a new high-tech neighbourhood called Quayside on the east downtown waterfront.

    Waterfront Toronto, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Premier Kathleen Wynne, Mayor John Tory and Sidewalk Lab officials are making the announcement at Corus Quay today.

    The board of Waterfront Toronto, the federal-provincial-city agency overseeing the so-called Quayside project, is expected to vote at an Oct. 20 meeting whether to confirm the agency’s staff recommendation arising from a rigorous competitive bid process launched in May.

    If confirmed by Waterfront Toronto’s board, the choice of a firm owned by Google holding company Alphabet Inc. would be a big high-tech feather in the cap of the city currently chasing the second headquarters of Amazon and other innovation opportunities.

    Quayside is envisioned by the agency as a testbed for cutting-edge technology as well as a bustling, functioning neighbourhood, with homes, offices, retail and cultural space, near Queens Quay E. and Parliament St.

    Sidewalk Labs is Alphabet’s urban innovation unit, with a stated goal of “reimagining cities from the Internet up.”

    Dan Doctoroff, the company’s chief executive and co-founder, told a conference in New York City last May that his company was “looking into developing a large-scale district” to act as its smart city test bed.

    The community would be universally connected by broadband and could have, Doctoroff said, prefab modular housing, sensors to constantly monitor building performance, and robotic delivery services to cut residential storage space, The Architects’ Newspaper reported in May.

    Improving transportation would be a focus, possibly with self-driving cars and design to encourage biking and walking, he told the conference. World-leading environmental sustainability could include thermal exchange systems to capture wasted building heat, and smart sensors to limit energy use.

    Waterfront Toronto says the 4.9-hectare (12-acre) site will be “a testbed for emerging technologies, materials and processes that will address these challenges and advance solutions that can be replicated in cities worldwide.”

    The agency said the winning bidder must propose plans to foster sustainability, resiliency and urban innovation; complete communities with a range of housing types for families of all sizes and income levels; economic development and prosperity driving innovation that will be rolled out to the rest of the world; and partnership and investment ensuring a solid financial foundation that secures revenue and manages financial risk.

    Development of the three publicly owned blocks at the east end of Queens Quay will eventually include redesign and reconstruction of the intersection of Queens Quay and Parliament St.

    Toronto tech leaders at a Smart Cities event in Toronto last May said the city is on the cusp of a tech boom, noting talk of Google interest in the city and Uber’s decision to make Toronto a hub for driverless car research.


    Google firm wins competition to build high-tech Quayside neighbourhood in TorontoGoogle firm wins competition to build high-tech Quayside neighbourhood in TorontoGoogle firm wins competition to build high-tech Quayside neighbourhood in TorontoGoogle firm wins competition to build high-tech Quayside neighbourhood in TorontoGoogle firm wins competition to build high-tech Quayside neighbourhood in TorontoGoogle firm wins competition to build high-tech Quayside neighbourhood in TorontoGoogle firm wins competition to build high-tech Quayside neighbourhood in TorontoGoogle firm wins competition to build high-tech Quayside neighbourhood in Toronto

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    WASHINGTON—The good vibes are gone.

    In the clearest public indication that talks over the North American Free Trade Agreement are going poorly, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland blasted the U.S. for the first time on Tuesday while U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer blasted Canada and Mexico.

    They were standing beside each other at an awkward joint appearance in Washington to mark the end of the fourth round of negotiations over the U.S.-initiated effort to revamp the 23-year-old continental free trade pact.

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and members of his government, including Freeland, had until Tuesday maintained a chipper public tone about the talks even as the mood at the bargaining table darkened.

    No longer. Freeland denounced the U.S. for “an approach that seeks to undermine NAFTA rather than modernize it,” warning that the “unconventional” proposals from President Donald Trump’s administration would “turn back the clock” and put tens of thousands of jobs at risk.

    Lighthizer, meanwhile, criticized both Canada and Mexico for what he called a “resistance to change,” saying he was “surprised and disappointed” they were obviously acting to defend the “unfair advantage” possessed by Canadian and Mexican companies.

    The three parties announced that they would take the trade equivalent of a timeout, starting the fifth round of negotiations a month from now rather than their usual two weeks.

    In a joint statement, the three countries agreed there were “significant conceptual gaps among the parties.” They said they had “called upon all negotiators to explore creative ways to bridge these gaps.”

    They spoke at the end of a weeklong round at which U.S. negotiators delivered demands so unpalatable to Canada and Mexico that trade experts were left wondering if Trump, who has been publicly noncommittal, preferred to blow up the talks rather than reach a new deal.

    Freeland and her office previously criticized specific U.S. proposals. But this was the first time she, or any other top Canadian official, publicly expressed broad concern about the state of the talks or the American approach.

    Freeland was most forceful on the subject of U.S. automotive proposals, warning that they would “put in jeopardy tens of thousands of jobs across North America.” Among other significant changes, the U.S. has proposed a new rule requiring that 50 per cent of car content be made in the United States.

    “We have said this from the beginning: we will maintain and defend the elements of NAFTA that Canadians consider essential to the national interest,” she said.

    Lighthizer railed against trade deficits, which economists say are inconsequential but Trump considers paramount.

    “We have seen no indication that our partners are willing to make any changes that will result in a rebalancing and a reduction in these huge trade deficits,” Lighthizer said — minutes after Freeland noted that the U.S. actually has a trade surplus with Canada.

    Trudeau had professed “optimism” during a visit to Washington last week. He did, however, acknowledge Trump’s unpredictability, and he said repeatedly that Canada was “ready for anything.”

    The current list of U.S. demands vehemently opposed by Canada includes:

    • A “sunset clause” that would automatically terminate the deal in five years if all three countries did not endorse it again at that time.

    • A rule requiring all cars to be made with 50 per cent American content if they are to be exempted from tariffs.

    • The dismantling of Canada’s protectionist supply management system for dairy and poultry.

    • A “Buy American” procurement policy sharply limiting Canadian and Mexican access to U.S. government contracts.

    • The end of the current independent tribunal system for resolving NAFTA disputes.


    Trudeau, Trump governments slam each other publicly for first time as NAFTA talks falterTrudeau, Trump governments slam each other publicly for first time as NAFTA talks falter

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