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- 10/17/17--17:24: _Students caught in ...
- 10/17/17--19:53: _Liberals won’t act ...
- 10/17/17--19:25: _Three dead after am...
- 10/17/17--15:27: _Accused Amanda Lind...
- 10/17/17--13:54: _Archeological dig a...
- 10/17/17--19:42: _Murder victim strip...
- 10/17/17--19:35: _Markham cow statue ...
- 10/17/17--19:07: _Is Victoria really ...
- 10/17/17--18:04: _Caitlan Coleman, re...
- 10/18/17--04:00: _Ontario college str...
- 10/18/17--05:11: _Sears Canada extend...
- 10/18/17--03:00: _Quebec and its niqa...
- 10/17/17--13:30: _Province ignored he...
- 10/18/17--03:00: _Leaside doctor who ...
- 10/18/17--06:40: _Ontario will bid fo...
- 10/18/17--08:47: _College strike hits...
- 10/18/17--09:14: _Car stuck in Queens...
- 10/18/17--08:48: _‘Trump did disrespe...
- 10/18/17--09:54: _Brampton woman on l...
- 10/18/17--08:51: _Quebec television p...
- 10/17/17--17:24: Students caught in crossfire amid strike at Ontario colleges
- 10/17/17--19:53: Liberals won’t act on proposals to aid news industry
- 10/17/17--19:25: Three dead after ammonia leak at hockey arena in Fernie, B.C.
- 10/17/17--19:42: Murder victim stripped of all her secrets in court: DiManno
- 10/17/17--19:35: Markham cow statue to stay put, for now
- 10/17/17--18:04: Caitlan Coleman, recently freed hostage, admitted to hospital
- 10/18/17--04:00: Ontario college strike the tip of the temp-work iceberg, expert says
- 10/18/17--03:00: Leaside doctor who groped, kissed patient loses licence
- Beairsto hugged and kissed Patient A on the cheeks after their psychotherapy sessions, which the committee found to be inappropriate, but not sexual abuse. Patient A found this conduct “weird,” while Beairsto testified that he kissed both male and female patients on the cheeks “in a cocktail party manner,” and hugged them “European-style.” He said he regrets hugging Patient A, and now only hugs and kisses his gay male patients, “as this allows him to demonstrate that, as a straight man, he is not homophobic.”
- Patient A testified that Beairsto touched himself near his genitals and then smelled his hand. The doctor said he did not touch his crotch, but may have moved his hand from somewhere below his desk to his nose “as part of a demonstration to explain that smelling one’s vaginal discharge could be helpful in determining if a vaginal infection had resolved.” He testified that Patient A “misinterpreted his efforts” to give some “practical” medical advice.
- 10/18/17--08:47: College strike hits third day, no talks scheduled
- 10/18/17--09:14: Car stuck in Queens Quay tunnel, again, despite Do Not Enter signage
Humber College student Kate Nodwell fears she won’t graduate from her three-year public relations course if she can’t finish her last eight weeks of classes by year-end. She has a one-way ticket to England for a coveted internship that starts in January, and she’s not about to give that up.
Calvin McDonnell, who hopes for a career in water treatment, wonders how he’s going to make up the lab time he needs to analyze water samples for chemicals during his last year of environmental technology at Fanshawe College in London, Ont.
And Greg Kung, a second-year paramedic student at Humber, says his class is being robbed of a crucial part of the program — ride-alongs with crews in the community to experience life on the job.
They are among the roughly 300,000 college students across Ontario caught in the crossfire this week as 12,000 faculty went on strike Monday after negotiations ended between their union and the province’s 24 public colleges.
“I can’t sleep because of all this and I have classmates feeling the same way,” says Nodwell, 28, who is in her final year of an advanced diploma.
The internship she lined up in England is for the work semester required to complete her diploma. She can’t put that on hold if classes extend into the new year as a result of the strike.
Like students across the province, Nodwell is uncertain how the labour disruption is going to affect her studies and her future, and has been relying on news reports and social media for updates since full-time professors, part-time instructors, counsellors and librarians walked off the job.
“I’ve worked so hard,” says Nodwell, who has two part-time jobs to pay for school. But the lack of reliable information, uncertainty and inability to plan is causing a lot of anxiety.
She says she fully supports striking faculty “but when you add it all up it’s very, very stressful and we’re just being left in the dark.”
Talks, which ended Sunday after the bargaining team for the colleges rejected the final offer from the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, were not scheduled to resume as of late Tuesday.
Calvin McDonnell, 21, was so upset when he heard the news Sunday that he wrote to his local MPP, NDP education critic Peggy Sattler, who recounted his situation during Question Period at Queen’s Park on Monday, demanding the government send both sides back to the bargaining table.
McDonnell said in an interview he is laden with OSAP loans and doesn’t want to take on more debt as a result of delayed completion of his program.
“Right now it’s our most intense semester,” says McDonnell. “Most of our study is in the lab and tuition is paying for the equipment.”
But all that is currently cancelled.
College students aren’t the only ones affected. There are currently 91 collaborative programs in Ontario run through partnerships between universities and colleges. Depending on the program, those are also experiencing cancellations.
About 5,000 students enrolled at University of Guelph-Humber, located on the Humber campus in Toronto, are facing cancelled classes, including those taught by Guelph University professors.
Thousands of students in collaborative nursing programs involving 13 universities and 21 colleges are also feeling the impact.
The largest such program is between Ryerson University, George Brown College and Centennial College. It’s currently business as usual for students who enrolled through the university, while students whose home site is one of the colleges are dealing with cancelled classes and placements, said Ryerson spokesperson Johanna VanderMaas.
At Queen’s Park on Tuesday, Premier Kathleen Wynne urged the colleges and union to restart negotiations and put an end to the strike.
“I am very concerned about it,” said Wynne. “I hope that, in the very short future, we will see that the parties are at the table and they can hammer out an agreement.”
But paramedic-in-training Greg Kung of Humber says the practical nature of many college programs means that valuable workplace learning is missed with every day of the strike.
Losing the hands-on experience is causing “a lot of pressure,” says Kung, 28. “Judging from other students we’ve talked to in programs like nursing, there is a sincere worry and anxiety.”
That’s a big concern for Avery Mackintosh, who is taking a one-year graduate certificate in addictions and mental health at Durham College.
While it may be possible to catch up on reading academic material, she says the crucial workshop component of the program, which allows students to role play and be critiqued on their interaction skills, is key.
“A lot of the content is practical skills,” says Mackintosh, 22, who earned an undergraduate degree in psychology from Trent University.
“We’re not learning everything we should be learning.”
James Fauvelle is learning — just not exactly the way he expected. Fauvelle, 40, is in his second year of Centennial’s social service worker program, which he says has a strong social justice component.
So he’s organizing a Toronto march from Bay and Bloor Sts. to Queen’s Park at noon Thursday to “show our solidarity” with faculty — many of whom are part-time and teach anywhere from seven to 12 hours a week.
Fauvelle says he works part-time and his wife is juggling three jobs so the situation is taking its toll.
“Honestly, a lot of us just can’t afford it,” he said.
OPSEU is seeking more job security for those instructors and wants half of faculty to be full-time — versus the current one-third they represent by head count. Full-time staff currently account for half the teaching hours.
With files from Kristin Rushowy
Andrea Gordon can be reached at email@example.com
Students caught in crossfire amid strike at Ontario colleges
OTTAWA—The Liberal government appears to be taking a pass on several proposals put forward by a parliamentary committee to assist Canada’s struggling news industry.
In a letter to Heritage Committee chair Hedy Fry, Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly said Monday the government recognizes the “important role” news media plays in Canadian society.
But the letter signalled the government will not pursue some of the committee’s 20 recommendations to help news outlets adapt to a “changing media landscape,” and was silent on others.
Specifically, the letter cast doubt on allowing not-for-profit media outlets to obtain charitable status, allowing them to issue income tax receipts for donors.
Joly, along with Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Industry Minister Navdeep Bains, wrote that “it’s not clear” such a measure would help not-for-profit journalism in Canada.
The model has achieved some success in other countries, such as ProPublica in the United States and The Guardian in the U.K., and was recommended by journalism organizations and academics who testified at the committee.
The government is also “not commenting” on a proposal to fund a new initiative to train Indigenous journalists, which the committee recommended be run through the Aboriginal Peoples’ Television Network (APTN). The letter notes APTN is a private network, and encouraged the committee to take the matter up directly with them.
Joly’s letter commits the government to continue to study other recommendations, such as expanding the eligibility of the Canada Periodical Fund, and exploring tax issues around foreign news aggregators like Facebook and Google.
Fry, a Liberal MP, acknowledged it was “disappointing” the ministers’ letter did not engage on more of the committee’s specific recommendations.
“We heard a lot of testimony and put in a few recommendations that were carefully thought out, because we are very concerned about this issue as a committee,” Fry said in an interview Tuesday evening.
“(As) chair of the committee, I was disappointed that some things weren’t addressed. But I am being an optimist . . . . We’re not letting this go.”
Government support for the newspaper industry is a fraught subject and the source of considerable debate within the industry itself. But over 15 months, a number of media organizations and outlets — including the Toronto Star — appeared before the committee to outline the challenges facing the industry.
Those include advertising revenues being sucked up by companies like Facebook and Google, the rise of so-called “fake news,” and Canadians’ declining access to local journalism.
In a speech last month, Joly ruled out any direct government support to prop up failing media models.
“Our approach will not be to bail out industry models that are no longer viable. Rather, we will focus our efforts on supporting innovation, experimentation and transition to digital,” Joly said.
A representative for Joly’s office said Tuesday night the “work is not over” when it comes to the Liberals’ thinking on cultural policy, noting a response to the committee required within 120 days.
Pierre Nantel, the New Democrat vice-chair on the committee, said they’ve already spent 18 months on this issue as “the whole ecosystem is on fire.”
“It’s a lame response,” Nantel said of Joly’s letter.
“It’s a complicated issue, and this is all interconnected . . . . The main point is that the consumer has changed their way of consuming news and culture, and our system has been caught off guard.”
Peter Van Loan, the committee’s ranking Conservative, said he’s largely happy with the government’s response. The Conservatives dissented from the committee’s report, arguing Canadians can decide for themselves what media outlets to support.
But John Hinds, the president of print and digital media advocacy group News Media Canada, said that if local newspapers fail, it will be felt by more than just those who still subscribe.
“You lose a newspaper in a small community, you lose that medium of record, you lose the economic impact and the broader way for the community to talk to itself,” Hinds said.
“I think there are real challenges out there. And I think we need to figure out how to talk to the government and explain that to them.”
Liberals won’t act on proposals to aid news industry
FERNIE, B.C.—Three people are dead after a possible ammonia leak an arena in Fernie, B.C., that also triggered an evacuation of homes and businesses in the area.
The City of Fernie said as of Tuesday evening, emergency crews couldn’t safely enter the Fernie Memorial Arena where three fatalities had been confirmed.
WorkSafeBC said based on preliminary information, three workers were exposed to a gas leak that was possibly ammonia shortly before noon.
The city’s fire department had contacted WorkSafeBC about the incident and RCMP are now leading the investigation of the site.
Fernie fire chief Ted Ruiter said the situation was “somewhat under control.”
“Anytime you’re dealing with fatalities it’s always tough,” he said of the event’s impact on his crews. “We’re a small city and everybody knows each other. It’s very hard to deal with, for sure.”
The city said the victims’ next of kin have been notified and their identities are not being released at this time.
The city said in a news release it is working with CIMCO Refrigeration and is trying to get obtain additional specialized resources to deal with the hazardous situation.
Ruiter said B.C.’s Ministry of Environment is also sending staff to assist with monitoring and to determine what the next steps will be.
Homes and businesses in the area, including a retirement home, have been evacuated.
“We’re still concerned about some ammonia leaking into the environment,” he said.
Officials have not said if other people were inside the facility at the time of the gas leak.
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety says ammonia is a colourless gas that is very toxic if inhaled and can cause death.
Ammonia can cause severe irritation of the nose and throat and life-threatening accumulation of fluid in the lungs.
Symptoms of ammonia poisoning may include coughing, shortness of breath, difficult breathing and tightness in the chest. The centre also says symptoms may develop hours after exposure and are made worse by physical effort.
Ammonia is used as a fertilizer, to make plastics, fibres and other chemicals, as a refrigerant and other applications.
Three dead after ammonia leak at hockey arena in Fernie, B.C.
OTTAWA—A man accused of holding Amanda Lindhout hostage in Somalia testified in court he did not receive ransom money — even though he twice told undercover RCMP officers he got $10,000 U.S.
Ali Omar Ader told Ontario Superior Court on Tuesday that in 2013, he lied about being paid to a Mountie posing as his business agent because it was what the man wanted to hear.
At the time, Ader believed he was meeting the businessman on the island of Mauritius to discuss plans to publish his book about Somalia.
The seeds of the phoney book project were planted three years earlier when Ader tried to make contact with Lindhout’s mother, months after her daughter was freed. The undercover Mountie phoned Ader in Somalia, saying he had been hired by the shaken family to respond to all queries.
They stayed in touch about Ader’s book, leading to the face-to-face meeting in Mauritius. The Mounties saw the elaborate scheme as a way to get Ader to admit involvement in the hostage-taking.
Ader told the court Tuesday he feared his business associate would not trust him if he denied responsibility for the kidnapping.
Ader said he repeated the lie about getting $10,000 U.S. two years later in Ottawa — this time with his supposed agent and a second Mountie posing as a Vancouver publisher — because he wanted to make his dream of being an author a reality.
“To tell you the truth, I did not receive any money,” Ader said under questioning from Samir Adam, one of his lawyers.
Lindhout and Australian photographer Nigel Brennan were abducted by armed men while working on a story near Mogadishu in August 2008, the beginning of 15 months in captivity. Both were released upon payment of a ransom.
Ader, a 40-year-old Somalian national who speaks some English, has pleaded not guilty to a criminal charge of hostage-taking for his alleged role as a negotiator and translator.
In a secretly recorded sting video of the 2015 Ottawa meeting, Ader acknowledges being paid for helping the shadowy group of armed kidnappers.
In the witness box, however, Ader has told a different story.
He has painted himself as a victim who was coerced into assisting three gang leaders and a posse of gun-toting youths over several months through threats, a beating and an attack on his family.
He said he was detained by the group and forced to make ransom calls to Lindhout’s mother. Ader described escaping at one point, and later surrendering to the kidnappers after they assaulted his family and threatened to do worse.
In fact, Ader said, he then moved his wife and children into a house with the kidnappers as it was the only option at the time.
Ader insisted he tried to tell his supposed business agent in Mauritius that he had no choice but to work with the hostage-takers, but the man wasn’t interested. “He did not listen to me — he did not pay attention to me.”
Ader said since his associate kept closing down the conversation, he told him what he liked hearing.
He said he felt compelled to repeat the lie about being paid to help the gang to secure the book deal at the meeting in Ottawa.
In cross-examining Ader, prosecutor Croft Michaelson challenged this latest version of events, saying his testimony was “largely untruthful.”
Michaelson wondered why Ader would make up a story in Mauritius for a man he had come to see as a trusted business partner, instead of telling him he was forced to co-operate with a gang of kidnappers.
“Why wouldn’t you have told him the story you have told us today?” Michaelson asked.
“Wouldn’t it have made more sense to tell him the truth than to manufacture a lie?”
Michaelson also quizzed Ader about moving his family into a house with the hostage-takers.
“Why would you bring your wife and children with you to live with gunmen?”
Ader replied: “It was part of the surrender.”
Accused Amanda Lindhout kidnapper testifies he lied to RCMP, did not receive ransom money
MONTREAL—On April 17, 1849, an Ontario politician named Malcolm Cameron sent a letter from the Parliament of the United Canada in Montreal to London, England.
In it, the merchant and elected member from Kent, in western Ontario, requested payment on a bill. Before being sent, it was stamped as official correspondence of the legislative assembly. It arrived a few days later in the hands of its intended recipient, a London lawyer named John D. Hughes.
Most everything that was contained in the prestigious building located just a block from the busy St. Lawrence River was lost when angry English rioters stormed the building eight days after Cameron’s letter was sent, resulting in a devastating fire on the night of April 25, 1849.
Now, 168 years later, archeologists who have been excavating the site that had been a city parking lot for most of the last 90 years believe they have found the official copper alloy stamp that was stained with blue ink and pressed down on Cameron’s envelope.
Unearthed just a few weeks ago, the coin-sized stamp is one of the highlights of a years-long dig that has recovered hundreds of thousands of artifacts ranging from pipes and wine bottles to fine china plates and tea sets to oyster shells that would have served as “rich snack food” for the likes of John A. Macdonald, Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine, George-Étienne Cartier and Robert Baldwin.
“We didn’t think we’d find them,” Louise Pothier, chief curator with Montreal’s Pointe-à-Callière archeological museum, said of the official stamps, which were discovered in areas that correspond to the office of the clerk of the legislative assembly and from the legislative council library.
Pothier said such items would normally be carefully stored in the archives when not in use.
“The fact that it was a quick and violent fire resulted in them being left on site and rediscovered more than a century-and-a-half later. It’s a very precious discovery for Montreal and we’re very happy to have stumbled upon them.”
It was a time of great change, when lawmakers here were beginning to shake off colonial masters abroad and when French and English were learning to coexist. The protests and fires occurred during anglophone protests about financial compensation for francophone rebels who suffered property losses during an uprising against British rule in 1837.
The flurry of digging and discovery since 2011 also inspired the neighbours of the 1849 parliamentarians — the Grey Nuns of Montreal — to delve into their own archives this summer.
There, they discovered a contemporary account of the incident that sheds new light on the fire’s origins.
Protest leader Alfred Perry, Montreal’s then-fire chief, suggested it was accidental — the result of a broken gas line — after he and four others were charged with arson. But the account from the nunnery is more nefarious.
“One small element that came out of it was that (rioters) lit the fire at the four corners of the building and that, in three-quarters of an hour, the building was no longer there,” Pothier said.
The fire also destroyed the two parliamentary libraries, and an estimated 22,000 public documents from Upper and Lower Canada — Ontario and Quebec. Some of them dated back hundreds of years to the earliest days of French colonization.
About 30 charred fragments of the 6,000 volumes contained in one of the libraries were recovered. One, which looks like little more than a carbonized crumbling mass, has since been identified as the minutes of the lower chamber of France’s parliament for the months of October and November of 1830.
Archeologist Hendrik Van Gijseghem said the specimen was shipped to the Canadian Conservation Institute in Ottawa and subjected to an experimental treatment that allowed a page to be extracted. It was carefully frozen and progressively dried until it became readable.
“After that it was just a question of Googling a sentence or two and we immediately had the title of the work,” he said.
“To find paper like that calcified or not in an archeological context is extremely rare unless you’re working in an arid environment in the Middle East. It’s almost unheard of.”
With the dig drawing to a close, researchers now have a staggering amount of work ahead cleaning, examining and cataloguing all the artifacts, but the Point-à-Callière museum hopes to showcase the artifacts in a pavilion that would mark the site.
“We have the privilege as archeologists to touch the past, to get closer to the people who lived during a certain time,” said Pothier.
“What we want to do is go much further and allow the population to have this privilege to be in contact with the people of the past . . . and to reduce the space that separates us from historic events.”
Archeological dig at site of former Parliament in Montreal reveals stamps, burned books and oyster shells
“What you’re about to see is very graphic.”
The warning on Tuesday morning came from Crown Attorney Meghan Scott.
Delivered at the very minute that a dozen teenagers filed into the courtroom on one of those school field trips to see justice in action.
They appeared to endure the ordeal without visible trauma. But I kept thinking: Leave. Now. Go.
There are some things that should never be displayed in public.
And this — autopsy photos of the dismembered remains of 24-year-old Rigat Ghirmay — was the worst I’ve ever witnessed in decades of covering trials.
I wondered, too: Would these exhibits — final violation of an Eritrean refugee chopped up into pieces, allegedly in her own bathtub — have been put up on a screen, in open court, if the victim was a young white middle-class female?
Because it is no longer routine for such grisly evidence to be paraded in court.
One person who didn’t look up at all: Adonay Zekarias, on trial for first-degree murder. He picked at his cuticles, stared into space, leaned in as a translator spoke quietly into his ear.
But he never cast a glance at those gruesome images.
Ghirmay’s remains were discovered at separate locations, three years apart. Her torso — actually, both legs from below the waist but with feet missing — were happened upon by a passerby, Francis McMullen, on May 24, 2013, stuffed into a duffel bag and left near a pathway in the Black Creek Flood control area. That spot was about 500 metres from Zekarias’s residence.
The second discovery was made by bone collector Michael Paquet on two expeditions a week apart to the Lavender Creek Trail in April 2016. The first cache was long leg bones and bone shards that Paquet originally believed were animal specimens. Returning to the site later he found a plastic bag that contained a clearly human skull, ribs and other bones — the rest of Ghirmay, apart from the feet and her right hand, which have never been found.
It was the torso — most of Ghirmay’s lower half, retrieved only nine days after the woman was last seen alive, so still fleshy and not extensively decomposed — that sent shudders through the courtroom as Dr. Toby Rose, a forensic pathologist, testified about the remains she had autopsied.
“This is the entire specimen,” Rose, deputy chief of forensic pathology with Ontario Forensic Pathology Service, said crisply, with the detachment of an expert who specializes in the dead, a corpse whisperer.
And there Ghirmay is on the screen, severed just above the belly button, still wearing yoga pants and her underwear, with a deep slash across one leg, as if someone had tried to saw through below the knee cap but not finished the job.
Bisecting a human being at the waist, noted Rose, is not particularly strenuous work. “There aren’t any bones there to go through . . . until you get to the spine.”
Oh, but it got excruciatingly more horrific.
In another slide, the truncated body is now naked. So terribly vulnerable. Rose points out “splash marks” on the buttocks, indicating that some type of liquid had spread across the area. Yes, it might have been acid, it might have been bleach. But testing revealed no definitive cause. Just as Rose could not determine cause of death by what she had on the table. There were no obvious injuries such as a bullet hole or a stabbing wound. Ghirmay may have been strangled, who knows? Rose didn’t have a neck that could have shown compression injuries.
“It can be difficult to determine a cause of death even when I examine (a body) in the best of circumstances. In this case the circumstances are the worst.”
She did draw attention to a few “body part defects,” evidence of small injuries that she concluded occurred after death.
Of particular scrutiny to Rose, during the autopsy, was a tiny puncture to the external genitalia. And here we were presented with an excised scrap of flesh from the clitoris to the anus. It might have been significant as an indicator of sexual assault trauma but Rose could draw no conclusions. There were no internal injuries. Ghirmay had been a healthy young woman.
But we stared at the specimen anyway, in magnified dimensions, these most intimate details of a dead woman’s anatomy. With no discernible reason for why Ghirmay should have been so miserably exposed.
It was another pathologist who conducted the post-mortem on the “jumble” of bones found by Paquet but Rose, who reviewed the findings, presented them to court. “Her circumstances were worse,” said Rose of her colleague. “She only had a skeleton.”
Those desiccated remains showed no “bony” injuries but there were some indications of “changes she saw in the bones” that could have been caused by an object with a blade, a straight edge and a pointed end. A knife in other words.
The prosecution’s theory is that Zekarias killed Ghirmay — a close friend who’d briefly shared an apartment with him — to prevent her from taking any suspicions she may have had to police about the Oct. 23, 2012 murder of another woman, Nighisti Semret. The mother of four, also a refugee from Eritrea — as is the accused — was stabbed to death in a Cabbagetown alley as she walked home after her night shift as a hotel maid.
It is unknown if Ghirmay and Semret knew each other. But both certainly knew Zekarias. Semret had helped Zekarias — they both lived for a time at Sojourn House, a refugee shelter — fill out immigration paperwork. All three came to Canada from Eritrea.
Zekarias was Semret’s killer. He was convicted of first-degree murder in June 2015 and sentenced to life in prison. Although simultaneously charged with Ghirmay’s murder, the trials were severed. This trial, four years after Ghirmay was last seen alive — captured on surveillance video entering her Shuter Street apartment building with Zekarias — is judge-alone, which is why so many details about the earlier crime have been heard in open court: How he fled to Germany for two months after the Semret slaying and monitored reports of the police investigation on his laptop searches; how he returned to Canada in February 2013 when detectives still believed they were looking for a white suspect who walked with a limp; and how, crucially, he’d been taken to hospital, mere hours after Semret was killed, to be treated for severe wounds to both hands, which he claimed had been caused by a slamming door.
DNA taken from beneath Semret’s fingernails led police to dramatically change their suspect description, revealing that the killer had probably absorbed serious injuries to his arms or hands during the assault, and also announcing a $50,000 reward for information resulting in an arrest.
Ghirmay had ridden in the ambulance with Zekarias. She was with him when he purchased his plane ticket to Germany. In the months prior to his arrest, they were frequently seen together as Ghirmay bought a TV, a cell phone, and signed a lease on a subsidized housing apartment.
No motive has ever been learned for why Semret was murdered.
But there was plenty of motive for silencing Ghirmay — a victim, in a final indignity, stripped of all her secrets in court.
Rosie DiManno usually appears Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
Murder victim stripped of all her secrets in court: DiManno
Charity the cow isn’t going anywhere soon, and there’s confusion about where she will go when a decision is made on her future.
Markham councilors held a council meeting Tuesday night to determine what to do with the city’s infamous cow-on-stilts statue after a local developer couldn’t be prodded to change her position.
The statue was donated and installed earlier this summer by local developer Helen Roman-Barber, and has attracted hundreds of curious bovine art critics and lovers to the quiet suburb of Cathedraltown, near Elgin Mills Rd. and Woodbine Ave.
“When I asked her if she had an intention, or willingness to open her mind to look at an alternative site, she said that was never her intention and she sees this as being the best location for her donation,” said Steven Chait, the director of economic growth, culture and entrepreneurship for the city of Markham.
He said she was not open to discussion on moving the statue, even when she was informed the city would pay for it.
Last month, Markham councilors voted to move the now infamous cow statue called Charity: Perpetuation of Perfection, after residents protested about the proximity of the stainless steel statue to their home, the lack of consultation before installation and the height of the public art piece.
Charity, believed to be “the most perfect cow there ever was,” was partially owned by wealthy businessman, Stephen Roman, Helen’s father. It is believed the cow never even came to Markham, and spent her life on a farm in Port Perry.
Mayor Frank Scarpitti repeatedly said he was against the idea of moving the cow.
Councillors struggled to decide if the statue should be removed immediately or if it should remain on Charity Cres. until a new location is found. After a recorded vote, council decided 7-4 to keep the “sculpture on site until a suitable location is found.”
Council also voted to give staff until the end of the year to come up with possible options of where the statue will go when the city assumes ownership of the statue.
According to a memorandum signed between the developer and the city, the city will consult “with the donor prior to any final decision being made regarding the sculpture’s removal and relocation,” it says, adding “the decision of the city shall be final.”
And “if the decision is made by the city to relocate the Sculpture or remove the Sculpture from public display, the city will advise the donor in writing.”
Tammy Armes, a long-time resident of Cathedraltown, questions why taxpayers should be on the hook.
“Why should we pay for it? Why should resident of Markham pay for this mistake?”
Resident Danny Da Silva said he was happy to see the councilors support the motion for moving the statue and would be following the next steps closely.
“I think the donor has been very consistent in her stance, so that wasn’t surprising.”
But until then, he admits he will have to live with a front row seat of Charity.
“We want to see how this transpires. We are still expecting to find an alternate location soon as possible, and at the earliest convenience to see it moved. If they dilly-dally, that could be problematic.”
Markham cow statue to stay put, for now
The Star talked to five women from Victoria and asked them about the study that suggests the B.C. capital is the best place to be a woman.
Boma Brown, 26, Support Network for Indigenous Women & Women of Colour founder
Brown, who’s of Nigerian descent and previously lived in Botswana and in the U.S., has been in Victoria for six years. While the city has become more diverse in that time, she said, it’s still difficult for a woman of colour.
“I think living in Victoria is, I don’t know if unique is the right word, but it’s an interesting experience,” she told the Star by phone.
“Victoria is on the West Coast, so it’s really beautiful and the weather is great and I think that attracts a lot of immigrants and people who are retired and tourists and things like that. So in that regard it’s really awesome. But the unfortunate reality is for a person who is a woman of colour who moved here there isn’t a lot of community.”
She said a lot of people who move to the city, particularly from other countries, can end up feeling isolated “in terms of having people who look like you, who speak your language, who eat the food you like to eat.”
For a long time after moving to Victoria, she would travel to Toronto twice a year with an empty suitcase to pick up all the food she couldn’t get at home.
And in 2014 she founded the Support Network for Indigenous Women & Women of Colour, hoping to support other women experiencing the same possible feelings of isolation.
Gillian Worley, 24, electrical engineering co-op student
After three years in Victoria, Worley said she sincerely loves the city.
“I feel safe to walk and bike around at night,” she said.
In her experience, she said the city was accepting of “all those who identify as women, and is encouraging of uniqueness and authenticity.”
“That being said, I speak from a place of majority demographic,” she cautioned, though she said that it was her hope that minority groups would say the same thing about their city.
There was a sense of camaraderie, she said, among her female friends and other women in the community that wasn’t felt in other cities she’s lived in.
She spent two years in Vancouver, and found it busier and less personal.
“Even though Victoria is a city, it feels smaller because women seem to look out for each other. I would agree that Victoria is one of the best Canadian cities for women for these reasons.”
Kaitlin Ruether, 23, full-time student
Ruether moved to Toronto this fall after five years in Victoria.
“In terms of safety, or the feeling of safety, Victoria definitely feels like the safest place I’ve ever lived,” Ruether wrote in a Facebook message. “I think it has to do with the city’s mentality of community and this atmosphere it has of a town — or at least the small city off the coast of Vancouver.”
Since moving to Toronto, though, she said that she’s found a higher focus on ideas of diversity and equality between men and women. Some of the smaller-city features of Victoria, which made it feel safe to live in, also led to more difficulty when it came to seizing opportunities.
“It feels harder to work your way into anything, and even more so as a woman,” she wrote.
So, for her, being in Toronto meant increasing the possibilities in her life.
Sarah Petrescu, 39, Victoria Times-Colonist reporter
“Victoria has the same personal safety risks for women that any other city has,” Petrescu wrote in an email to the Star. “That said, you don’t often worry about random cougars on the loose near downtown Toronto.”
(Police and conservation officers chased down a wild cougar on the loose in Victoria late in 2015, drawing considerable local and media attention.)
Petrescu added that, in some ways, she found Victoria to be the best place for women — dubbed ‘Chicktoria’ by some for its high female population numbers. “It’s easy to network and build support groups, to make lasting friendships and raise a family. Where leadership and salary opportunities lack, creative income-generating ideas flourish — check out our Etsy shops.”
But, as a journalist, she said she also sees the many single mothers and marginalized women bearing “the heaviest load” in what she called a brutal zero-vacancy rental market with a high cost of living.
Bobbi Turner, 60, executive director of Island Sexual Health
Tuesday was the first Turner had heard of Victoria being ranked so highly for women, and she laughed when thinking about what to say.
“Golly, that’s an interesting question,” she said. “It’s not one I’ve ever really thought about.”
The Island Sexual Health clinic where Turner works had over 22,000 patient visits last year — predominantly women — and she said it’s becoming the only medical resource for many.
“It’s extremely difficult right now for anyone to get a family physician,” Turner said of the city. “So from a health-care perspective, this doesn’t bode as well for women in Victoria.”
The majority of their clients don’t have a family doctor, making it difficult to access health care outside the realm of sexual health.
“This is, for many of them, the only place that they can go to get services.”
Is Victoria really the best place to be a woman in Canada? Five residents weigh in
SMITHS FALLS, ONT.—Joshua Boyle, a Canadian who was rescued with his family last week by Pakistani troops, said Tuesday that his wife had to be rushed to the hospital and remains there.
Boyle told The Associated Press in an email that his wife, Caitlan Coleman, was admitted Monday. His email did not specify why she was taken to the hospital.
“My first concern has to be the health of my wife and children,” Boyle wrote.
Boyle, his American wife and their three children were rescued Wednesday, five years after the couple was abducted in Afghanistan on a backpacking trip. Four children were born in captivity.
Boyle said after landing at Toronto’s airport on Friday that the Taliban-linked Haqqani network killed an infant daughter and raped his wife during the years they were held.
In prior email exchange with AP, Boyle did not respond to a question about the fourth child but later told the CBC that it was a forced abortion. The Taliban said in a statement it was a miscarriage.
On Monday, Boyle told the AP that he and his wife decided to have children even while held captive because they always planned to have a big family and decided, “Hey, let’s make the best of this and at least go home with a larger start on our dream family.”
“We’re sitting as hostages with a lot of time on our hands,” Boyle told AP. “We always wanted as many as possible, and we didn’t want to waste time. Cait’s in her 30s, the clock is ticking.”
Boyle said their three children are now 4, 2 and “somewhere around 6 months.”
“Honestly we’ve always planned to have a family of 5, 10, 12 children ... We’re Irish, haha,” he wrote in an email.
The parents of Caitlan Coleman have said they are elated she is free, but also angry at their son-in law for taking their daughter to Afghanistan.
“Taking your pregnant wife to a very dangerous place, to me, and the kind of person I am, is unconscionable,” Caitlan’s father, Jim Coleman said, told ABC News.
Caitlan Coleman, recently freed hostage, admitted to hospital
Seven years of part-time employment have forced Liz Brockest to put life goals on hold.
“I’m delaying any plans to have kids because I don’t even have job security to know that I can provide for my family,” said the 34-year-old teacher in the Transitions to Post-Secondary Education Program at George Brown.
From the picket lines on the downtown campus Tuesday, she talked about the perils of juggling multiple gigs just to pay rent and other bills. Brockest, one of thousands of part-time faculty members across Ontario colleges on strike this week, has to reapply for the same job every semester.
“It’s incredibly stressful,” she said, never sure about her next contract and what courses she’ll be allowed to teach. “I teach courses about equity, fairness, human rights, and I’m in an environment where my employer is not providing the same things to me.”
Part-time and temporary employment may be here to stay, said labour researcher Wayne Lewchuk, adding that strikes will probably continue, including at universities.
Precarious work has been a trend for the past 20 years, a result of a “fairly conscious” campaign led by temporary employment agencies who see it as a better way of running businesses, Lewchuk said.
“The dominant management theory now is that it makes sense to hire people on a temporary basis, to worry less about their development as more capable and productive employees, and simply focus on the short run,” he explained.
Lewchuk was the lead author of a 2015 report on precarious employment, which found that about 52 per cent of workers in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area are in temporary, part-time or contract positions.
He said the education sector is particularly affected by this trend, mainly because budgets are being squeezed and part-time teaching is seen as a cost-effective measure.
College staff are asking for at least a 50-50 ratio between full-time and part-time employment, but colleges say it would be too costly. Negotiations are currently on hold.
The strike is a sign that the situation is reaching a breaking point, said Lewchuk.
“I think in the long run, we all suffer from this,” he said.
“It’s not clear that students are getting the best deal by having instructors who are scrambling to put a life together teaching at multiple institutions and never getting enough money.”
Ontario college strike the tip of the temp-work iceberg, expert says
Wednesday is the last day Sears Canada Inc. will honour extended warranties as the retailer prepares to start liquidation sales Thursday.
Sears Canada said earlier this week that only customers who bought a protection agreement within the past 30 days could get refunds from paying for extended coverage.
It said most merchandise it sells comes with a one-year manufacturer’s warranty, which will be available to customers directly from the manufacturers.
The company said it still looking for a buyer for its repair business, but it’s not know if a sale will go through or under what terms the repair service would operate.
Sears Canada also finds itself in court again Wednesday to approve retention bonuses for key employees to oversee the liquidation of the company.
The retailer currently has 74 full department store locations, eight Sears Home Stores, and 49 Sears Hometown stores, which all face closure.
Sears Canada extended warranties run out today ahead of liquidation sales
A final debate on a controversial Quebec bill to ban women wearing niqabs and burkas from offering or receiving public services began Tuesday, and a vote likely to be held this week will accept or reject the idea that the best way to stop women from being forced to wear a particular garment is to force women to not wear that garment.
Bill 62, labelled as “an act to foster adherence to state religious neutrality,” is the face of contemporary dog whistle anti-Islamic politics couched as a unique commitment to secularism. Just leave that crucifix hanging on the wall behind the Quebec parliamentary speaker’s chair, please. That’s historical.
The bill comes complete with the thinnest plausible deniability — the law would also apply to masked protesters, Quebec Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée has said. The bill is also supposed to set vaguely defined limits to religious accommodation.
If governments don’t belong in people’s bedrooms, they certainly don’t belong in women’s closets.
We know this. On Tuesday, an Ontario MPP tabled a motion asking workplaces to butt out of those wardrobes. Liberal MPP Christina Martens tabled a private member’s bill to ban all workplaces from requiring women to wear high heels to work — not just industrial facilities or health-care facilities and such.
Bill 62 should be rejected for the same reason anti-abortionism would be. They are both anti-choice.
A bill that seeks to legislate clothing ends up linking emancipation of women to how little or how much they wear. In doing so, it works against choice.
If you, like me, don’t wear any kind of face covering, this battle isn’t about us. It is, however, about defending the rights of the tiny number of women in Quebec who cover their faces even if you can’t defend their practice.
To be clear, I have no patience for the imposition of modesty on women, especially if those standards of modesty differ significantly from those imposed on men. This applies to expectations that women cover their faces but men needn’t.
I equally detest the ingrained expectation of sexual allure from women that is not asked of men. This applies to the overt sexualization of women’s clothes in the name of liberation — all dressed up, women bare more skin, whether at chi-chi galas or queued up outside nightclubs. All dressed up, men bare little.
Just as there are many reasons women might choose to wear a little black dress, there are many reasons women might choose a voluminous one that includes a face covering. For some it’s a political stance — a statement of defiance against Islamophobia; for some it’s about personal comfort and modesty; for some it is a mark of devoutness; for some it’s unthinking conformity.
Of course, there are those who wear it because they don’t have a choice.
A progressive society would also support women who want to uncover their heads or faces or any parts of their body, but the desire for change has to come from within.
Bill 62 attempts to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. An Environics study shows about 3 per cent of Canadians who are Muslim wear a niqab in public. The numbers in Quebec are not known but it’s also expected to be minuscule.
It’s astounding that a matter that affects so few people in Quebec was prioritized as worth spending precious time and money on.
Vallée told the CBC the legislation is necessary for “communication reasons, identification reasons and security reasons.”
“I find it hard to see how you can have a dialogue when it’s difficult or impossible to distinguish a person’s non-verbal cues,” she said earlier this month.
Sure, it might be uncomfortable, but is there a communication problem that “Pardon?” won’t solve?
How were identification and security — as in women refusing to lift their veils to identify themselves to officials — established as a challenge large enough to require legislation?
An Angus Reid poll this month showed that 87 per cent of Quebecers strongly or moderately support the bill. That makes it not the right move, just a populist one.
Bill 62 was never about religious neutrality. It is about discomfort with overt Muslim-ness. If the conservative Parti Québécois floated a so-called Charter of Values to ban public servants from wearing all obvious religious symbols, the Liberals targeted the lowest hanging fruit of Islamic womenswear — burkas and niqabs.
Even if we were all to agree to being collectively uncomfortable with the idea of Muslim women — or anybody — covering their faces in the public sphere, how did it become so indecent as to be banned?
A few years ago, a woman wearing a niqab came to my hot yoga class. Her abaya restricted her movements, making them risky for her. After a few classes, she stopped coming. I’m guessing she made a choice.
Did her choices affect me? Infringe on my rights in any way? Threaten the future of my country? If Bill 62 passes and she moves to Quebec, to use the bus or go to the doctor she would have to reconsider her religious beliefs or seek an official exemption for accommodation.
There are no such restrictions for the rest of Quebec’s residents.
Tell me again, what’s the definition of discrimination?
Shree Paradkar writes about discrimination and identity. You can follow her @shreeparadkar
Quebec and its niqab legislation needs to stay out of women’s closets: Paradkar
Ontario’s environment ministry ignored warnings raised by its own engineers about public safety at petrochemical plants in Sarnia’s Chemical Valley, alleges a report leaked following a joint investigation by journalists, including the Star.
The report was presented to the staff of Ontario Environment Minister Chris Ballard on Sept. 20. It alleges the ministry has for years ignored concerns from the First Nations community of Aamjiwnaang — surrounded on three sides by petrochemical plants — and dismissed engineers’ worries about the risk of industrial leaks with possibly irreversible health impacts.
The engineers have been raising concerns about public safety in the communities surrounding Ontario petrochemical plants since 2009, says the report, prepared by their union, the Professional Engineers Government of Ontario (PEGO).
The report comes to light after an investigation by the Star, Global News, National Observer, the Michener Awards Foundation and journalism schools at Ryerson and Concordia universities, revealed a troubling pattern of secrecy and potentially-toxic leaks in the area known as Chemical Valley. There are 57 industrial polluters registered with the Canadian and U.S. governments within 25 kilometres of Sarnia.
The investigation also raised questions about whether companies and the provincial government are properly warning residents of Sarnia and the Aamjiwnaang when potentially toxic substances — including benzene, known to cause cancer at high levels of long-term exposure — are leaked.
More than 500 Ministry of the Environment incident reports, obtained by the investigation through freedom of information requests, detail industrial leaks in Sarnia’s Chemical Valley that released a range of emissions — from a 2014 benzene spill that experts said should have triggered alarms to a valve left open for three months venting hydrocarbons that year, to a two-hour leak of hydrogen sulphide from tanks in 2015.
The PEGO also claims ministry managers are “muzzling and excluding key engineers that raise concerns with respect to public safety,” saying the government “refused” to publish a 2014 report detailing the issues.
The report didn’t include details of the muzzling claim, and it wasn’t clear why the 2014 report wasn’t published or what it contained. PEGO didn’t immediately respond to requests for clarification.
Ballard said Tuesday that he’s “open to input” and will discuss the September report with the union. He said he hadn’t seen it yet but that his staff are reviewing the information.
“I look forward to taking seriously what they’re talking about,” he said. “I encourage everyone to speak their mind and to bring their issues forward.”
On Monday, Ballard announced the province would fund a study into the health effects of air pollution on the residents of Aamjiwnaang and the Chemical Valley, but didn’t commit to a timeline or detail a process. The community has sought funding from provincial and federal governments for such a study since 2007, to no avail.
Though benzene levels in Sarnia have dropped significantly in the last 25 years, documents obtained by the investigation revealed how refineries in the area release three to 10 times the annual limit of the carcinogen, exceeding stricter targets put in place in 2016.
The public health data that exists is inconclusive, but critics have said the information, collected at the county level, misses the impact on people living in the immediate vicinity of so called Chemical Valley.
Pressed on a timeline for the health study in question period at Queen’s Park Tuesday, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said the province is committed to beginning “immediately” but didn’t specify when or how that would happen.
Federal Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said the situation in Chemical Valley — and Aamjiwnaang in particular — is “one of Canada’s top examples of environmental racism,” and officials don’t need to wait for a study to start exploring options to reduce harmful spills and emissions, including moving the First Nations community.
“It’s going to be very hard to imagine with the number of plants that currently ring Aamjiwaang First Nation, how do you make that right,” she said.
Though community members have floated the idea of relocation in the past, Aamjiwnaang residents Ada Lockridge previously told the investigation there’s nowhere for them to go.
“My roots are here, my grandfather lived here,” she said. “All our relatives are buried here.”
Aamjiwnaang Chief Joanne Rogers, however, said the community’s concerns go back much further than the ones detailed in the leaked report.
“We’ve always had concerns about our health and safety,” she said.
“I believe (the health study is) just going to probably document what we already believe, and that is that pollution has an effect on our community’s health.”
On Monday, federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor said she’s asked her department to look into the decision it made in 2014 under the previous Conservative government not to fully fund the health survey.
However, federal NDP environment critic Linda Duncan slammed the federal government’s response, saying it “dropped the ball” and should intervene immediately.
“This should be a wake-up call,” Duncan said.
Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said she’s looking into ways to strengthen the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.
“We need to make sure that we have a strong regulatory regime to make sure that this doesn’t happen,” she said Tuesday.
With files from Carolyn Jarvis, Global News and National Observer
Correction - October 17, 2017: This article was edited from a previous version that misattributed quotes from Green Party Leader Elizabeth May about the situation in Chemical Valley to Catherine McKenna, federal minister for environment and climate change.
Province ignored health warnings about Sarnia’s Chemical Valley: report
A Toronto physician who was found to have stroked a patient’s buttocks, routinely hugged and kissed her and once said she would be a “good lover” has lost his licence.
A discipline panel of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario ordered earlier this month that Dr. William “Art” Beairsto, who practised family medicine and psychotherapy in Leaside, should not only have his licence revoked for sexual abuse, but also post credit in the amount of $16,000 to cover therapy costs for the patient, known as Patient A.
The college will not confirm if it referred the case to the police, only that it complied with its policy on “reporting physicians’ acts to the police.”
The October 2015 policy states, among other things, that the college will forward a copy of its discipline decision to police in “any matter that raises issues of physician criminal actions.” The college said it is barred by law from providing a patient’s name to police unless the patient consents.
The case again highlights that there is no provision in law that makes it mandatory for all health professional colleges to report complaints about members to the police, something that has divided lawyers and advocates.
Toronto police said that Beairsto is not facing criminal charges. The 69-year-old physician was found guilty of sexual abuse by a panel of the college’s discipline committee in August 2016, and had been suspended since November. His lawyer declined to comment to the Star.
Since the passage of Bill 87 in May, it is mandatory that a physician found guilty of groping be immediately suspended pending the outcome of their penalty hearing, where their licence must now be revoked.
Beairsto’s lawyers had argued at his penalty hearing in March that the amendments to the Regulated Health Professions Act brought in by Bill 87 should not apply because his case came before the passage of the bill. They argued to extend his suspension by three months, coupled with further training and supervision.
Before Bill 87, a discipline panel still had the discretion to impose penalties when it came to groping. Indeed, the panel was harshly criticized as recently as 2016 for handing down suspensions for groping, rather than revoking licences.
But the four-member panel in the Beairsto case agreed with the college’s lawyer that the provisions in Bill 87 were retroactive and that the doctor should lose his licence. Even if not for Bill 87, the panel said they would still have revoked his licence.
“Counsel for Dr. Beairsto argued that the legislative changes should not be applied retrospectively because the imposition of mandatory revocation would be punitive, and that different strategic decisions with respect to his defence might have been made had they known that mandatory revocation was a possibility,” the panel wrote.
The panel noted that Beairsto had previously come under the college’s radar in 2010 for a complaint of “egregious boundary crossings/violations” with a patient. That complaint was never sent to a public discipline hearing.
Instead, Beairsto was cautioned in secret, ordered to participate in a psychotherapy support group, and stop seeing patients with certain significant personality disorders, among other things.
The issue of whether sexual abuse by physicians should always be reported by the colleges to the police has been the subject of debate.
An independent task force, set up in the wake of a Star investigation on doctors still at work after sexually abusing their patients, specifically recommended against a mandatory reporting rule in its final report to Health Minister Eric Hoskins. Some of the task force’s recommendations formed part of Bill 87.
“Understandably, we all wish for a simple solution to a complex problem in our society,” wrote chair Marilou McPhedran, now a senator, and Sheila Macdonald, provincial co-ordinator of sexual assault and domestic violence treatment centres in Ontario.
“The task force notes that patients who have experienced sexual abuse by a health professional have, and should continue to have, the option to report the abuse to the police and proceed through the criminal justice system process, should they so choose.
“However, the task force asserts that choice is essential for patients who have experienced abuse and that the patient must retain agency and control as the decision-maker in these situations.”
At the CPSO, part of its policy is that it will offer to assist a complainant in filing a report to the police if they choose to do so.
Medical malpractice lawyer Paul Harte disagrees with some aspects of the task force’s findings, and said colleges should always be reporting to police, and include the name of the complainant whether or not they have consent.
“The task force was, rightfully so, very much focused on the complainant, but I think you need to balance that against the need to protect the public,” said Harte.
“We have to have some faith in the police that they're going to be able to handle these situations, in the same way they handle other sexual abuse allegations.”
Aside from finding Beairsto stroked Patient A’s buttocks, other findings the discipline panel made against him last year included:
The committee found Beairsto’s description of the encounter to be unprofessional.
“It is so outside the norm of what is a professional way to communicate medical information that, even if not salacious as alleged, it is completely inappropriate, and the committee finds Dr. Beairsto’s conduct to be disgraceful, dishonourable or unprofessional,” the committee said.
Leaside doctor who groped, kissed patient loses licence
Greater Toronto Area municipalities are putting in a prime order with Amazon for 50,000 well-paying jobs.
The region’s formal bids to win the hotly contested competition for Seattle-based Amazon’s second headquarters will be submitted this week.
But Ed Clark — the former TD Bank president and CEO who serves as Premier Kathleen Wynne’s business adviser — says the province “is not offering any new financial incentives to Amazon — nor any incentives that are not available to others who seek to grow or locate such jobs here.”
“As a businessman I like this approach. Successful firms want to be in jurisdictions that are inherently attractive, and that will remain so in the future,” Clark said at a Canadian Club speech at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel on Wednesday.
“This is doubly true if you are locating a head office. Companies want jurisdictions that invest in educated workforces, have livable cities, and put out a welcome mat for the best talent to bring their energy and ideas from anywhere in the world.”
But Clark insisted the province isn’t sitting on its hands — and is investing in “talent” that will help the region regardless of whether Amazon comes.
“No special deals. We are offering Amazon the best place in the world to do business,” he said.
The Ontario government announced Wednesday it would boost “support for students in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines, including artificial intelligence, to continue to build a highly skilled workforce and support job creation and economic growth.”
The hope is to increase the number of graduates in those disciplines by 25 per cent over the next five years — from 40,000 to 50,000 annually.
As well, the province will spend $30 million to work with the Vector Institute — of which Clark is the chair — to increase to the number of professional applied masters’ graduates in artificial intelligence to 1,000 a year within five years.
That’s designed to help the local municipalities — including the city of Toronto — vying for Amazon’s headquarters.
Amazon has also attracted bids from Boston, Chicago, Ottawa, and a slew of other cities for its second head office.
Clark stressed the political realities stateside may make it difficult to create jobs in Canada instead of the U.S.
Indeed, current President Donald Trump frequently attacks Amazon on Twitter and its founder Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post.
“If that’s not a constraint, we’re hands-down the winner,” said Clark.
The online shopping giant, which already employs 380,000 people, is promising to bring the winning city up to 50,000 jobs that pay an average annual salary of $100.000 (U.S.)
“We expect to invest over $5 billion in construction and grow this second headquarters to ... be a full equal to our current campus in Seattle,” the company said in September.
“In addition to Amazon’s direct hiring and investment, construction and ongoing operation of Amazon HQ2 is expected to create tens of thousands of additional jobs and tens of billions of dollars in additional investment in the surrounding community.”
On Tuesday, Toronto’s bid got a boost from another American tech powerhouse.
Dan Doctoroff, the New York-based chief executive of Sidewalk Labs, the Google sister company that plans to transform the east downtown waterfront into a model clean tech community, hailed the city.
“If Amazon sees what we see in Toronto, they should be coming here,” Doctoroff told the Star’s David Rider.
Ontario will bid for Amazon’s 50,000 jobs by investing in education, won’t offer U.S. firm incentivesOntario will bid for Amazon’s 50,000 jobs by investing in education, won’t offer U.S. firm incentives
Striking faculty and Ontario’s colleges both say they remain in contact with a mediator, and will return to talks when he thinks there is any hope of movement by either side.
The job action by 12,000 professors, partial-load instructors, librarians and counsellors is now in its third day. The strike affects about 300,000 students across the province.
At Queen’s Park on Tuesday, both the Premier and post-secondary minister urged the colleges and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union to restart negotiations and put an end to the strike.
“I am very concerned about it,” said Premier Kathleen Wynne. “We are paying very close attention to it. I hope that, in the very short future, we will see that the parties are at the table and they can hammer out an agreement.”
Wynne, however, also said the government, which is not involved in the negotiations, did not want to undermine the collective bargaining process.
“It is always an uncomfortable position for everyone and a very, very distressing situation when people are not able to go to their classes,” Wynne said during Question Period. “I know that the instructors and the teachers who are out don’t want to be out either. They want to be in the classroom with their students.”
Deb Matthews, minister of advanced education and skills development, said she and Wynne have made the public pleas for talks to resume, and told reporters that “I know that they can find the solution without interference from us . . . . We are letting the process unfold.”
She said she knows students are anxious “and I share their anxiety, but I think we still have to let the process work.”
When the strike is over, students need not worry about losing credits, she added, as “they figure out a way to get students back on track.”
For now, both the colleges and faculty remain far apart on key issues.
JP Hornick, chief OPSEU negotiator for the faculty, said the government could play a role by reversing the “chronic starving of the system” and give the proper resources to colleges, which she said are now the lowest funded education system in Canada.
“It’s lovely that they’d like us to get back to the table,” she said. “And as one of the major funders of the colleges, they have a lot to say in that.”
During the strike, a mediator continues to reach out to both sides.
Sonia Del Missier, who heads the colleges’ bargaining team, said, “when (the mediator) deems it appropriate, he will call us back” to the table.
“He works with the two sides, and will make the determination based on the information he is receiving from both the parties,” she said.
Hornick expects the mediator to check in soon, “but you don’t go back to the table unless one of the sides is willing to move.”
She said the union did alter its offer before calling a strike.
The colleges, which, during negotiations, upped their salary increase offer, have said the two sides are $250 million apart. Hornick said that amount, “spread around 24 colleges, isn’t an insurmountable amount of money.”
The government will have to provide the colleges with funding once Bill 148 is in place anyway, because it demands equal pay for part-time workers, Hornick said.
The colleges have said they can’t meet the union’s demands for 50 per cent of the total number of teachers to be full-time, not only because of the cost, but because it would not give them any flexibility.
Don Sinclair, CEO of the College Employer Council, called it a “recipe for disaster,” especially given declining enrolment.
He noted that half of all instructional hours are taught by full-timers.
The colleges are offering 7.75 per cent raise over three years, and the union wants 9 per cent over three.
Patrick Brown, leader of the Ontario PC party, said the government “promised labour peace, and that students would be in the classroom” and pressed the premier to do more.
“Students can’t afford . . . not to be in class,” he said during Question Period. “They can’t afford to miss their mid-terms. I know this is uncomfortable for the government. The labour peace they promised has not been realized. But I want to see students in the classrooms. I want to see students back at colleges.”
College strike hits third day, no talks scheduled
A driver’s car was stuck in the Queens Quay tunnel for about an hour Wednesday, at least the second time this has happened this year despite five “Do Not Enter” signs in the area.
Shuttle buses were used on the 509 Harbourfront and 510 Spadina routes after the incident at 10:30 a.m. before the car was removed.
Measures have been taken over the last year to ensure drivers don’t enter the tunnel, according to TTC spokesperson Stuart Green.
“It’s more common to happen (at Queens Quay) than the other tunnel at Spadina,” Green said. “We’ve put up big signs, we have flashing lights. Rumble strips — it’s very hard to accidentally drive into that tunnel anymore.”
Depending on how far into the tunnel the vehicle gets, the TTC would have to use special vehicles instead of a standard tow truck to remove the stuck car. These incidents can take between one to eight hours to clear, Green said.
A similar incident happened in the Queens Quay tunnel in February, after an SUV was found stuck in the tunnel because the driver was “just following his GPS.” He faced a $425 fine after blocking the tunnel’s entrance.
Car stuck in Queens Quay tunnel, again, despite Do Not Enter signage Car stuck in Queens Quay tunnel, again, despite Do Not Enter signage
WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump in a tweet Wednesday denied that he had told the widow of a soldier killed in an ambush in Africa this month that her husband “must have known what he signed up for.”
But the mother of the fallen soldier stood behind the account, saying that Trump “did disrespect” the family with his comments during a phone call.
The president was reacting to a Florida congresswoman saying the family of Sgt. La David T. Johnson was “astonished” by that remark during a phone call from Trump on Tuesday. Trump said he has “proof” that the conversation did not happen as recounted by Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson. He did not elaborate, but the claim again raised questions about whether the president tapes calls and conversations.
Wilson told MSNBC on Wednesday that Johnson’s widow, Myeshia, was shaken by the exchange.
“She was crying the whole time, and when she hung up the phone, she looked at me and said, ‘He didn’t even remember his name.’ That’s the hurting part.”
Wilson went on to say Trump “was almost like joking. He said, ‘Well, I guess you knew’ — something to the effect that ‘he knew what he was getting into when he signed up, but I guess it hurts anyway.’ You know, just matter-of-factly, that this is what happens, anyone who is signing up for military duty is signing up to die. That’s the way we interpreted it. It was horrible. It was insensitive. It was absolutely crazy, unnecessary. I was livid.”
“She was in tears. She was in tears. And she said, ‘He didn’t even remember his name.’ “
On Tuesday, Wilson told The Washington Post that Trump had told Johnson’s widow, “He knew what he was signing up for, but I guess it hurts anyway.”
Wilson said she was riding in a limousine with Johnson when the president called, and said she heard the conversation on speakerphone.
“He made her cry,” Wilson said.
Johnson’s mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson, told The Post on Wednesday that she was in the car during the call from the White House and that “President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband.”
Jones-Johnson, speaking to The Post via Facebook Messenger, declined to elaborate.
But asked whether Wilson’s account of the conversation between Trump and the family was accurate, she replied: “Yes.”
The White House did not confirm or deny Wilson’s account on Tuesday.
“The President’s conversations with the families of American heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice are private,” a White House official said in a statement.
The White House had said Tuesday that Trump placed calls Tuesday to the families of all four service members killed in Niger on Oct. 4. The calls followed Trump’s claims Monday and Tuesday that his Democratic predecessor, President Barack Obama, had not often made such calls to families. Former Obama administration officials strongly dispute that claim, saying Obama engaged families of fallen service members in various ways throughout his presidency.
Johnson, 25, of Miami Gardens, Fla., was found dead after initially being reported as missing after the attack.
He was a driver assigned to 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) based in Fort Bragg, N.C.
‘Trump did disrespect my son’: Mother backs report of president’s ‘horrible’ call to soldier’s widow
The legal battle over whether to revoke a death certificate for a Brampton woman on life support continued Wednesday, with a doctor telling court that Taquisha McKitty “doesn’t have the capacity to breathe.”
McKitty, 27, was declared dead Sept. 20 after Dr. Omar Hayani at Brampton Civic Hospital determined that her brain had ceased functioning, which constitutes death in Ontario.
Her family, represented by Hugh Scher, argues that she is alive and hopes to have her certificate revoked. Judge Lucille Shaw granted a two-week injunction to keep McKitty on life support on Sept. 28.
McKitty, mother of a nine-year-old daughter, is currently on a ventilator.
Scher told court that McKitty has the capacity to breathe but Dr. Andrew Healey, head of the critical care at Brampton Civic Hospital, disagreed.
“She does not have the capacity to breathe,” Healey said. “I would assert that the ventilator is doing all the work.”
Scher also told court that McKitty is menstruating, a statement Healey also disagreed with.
“I am aware that there was vaginal bleeding,” said Healey, who argued that the phenomenon is not necessarily menstruation and that brain function is not necessary to menstruate.
Healey testified that a blood test on Sept. 29 revealed that McKitty had hormones in her blood, which are produced by the hypothalamus, a part of the brain.
Scher argued that the presence of hormones nine days after McKitty was declared dead indicates that she was actually alive. Healey disagreed, stating that the presence of hormones in blood does not indicate that the hypothalamus is actively producing those hormones:
Healey said, as Hayani testified on Tuesday as well, that the hospital gave McKitty the thyroid hormone L-thyroxine after she was declared dead, which can help to preserve organs, should a patient or their family consent to donating them.
Healey said that L-thyroxine would not have been given to McKitty if she was alive as her blood tests indicated that she would not need it.
The courtroom on Wednesday was significantly larger than previous ones, to accommodate a large group of family and friends who have attended court in support of McKitty.
McKitty had overdosed on a combination of cocaine, cannabinoids, benzodiazepine and oxycodone.
Brampton woman on life support doesn’t have ‘capacity to breathe,’ doctor tells court
MONTREAL—One of Quebec’s most popular and powerful television personalities is taking a “professional pause” after the publication of a report alleging he has a lengthy history of subjecting those in his employ to harassment and engaging in inappropriate sexual behaviour.
Eric Salvail has won numerous awards for his zany late-night talk show and just last month co-hosted the Prix Gémeaux, the French version of the Gemini awards for television and film excellence.
When former prime minister Stephen Harper set out to woo voters in this province during the 2015 election, he treated Salvail’s television audience to a pitchy version of the Beatles song, “Let it Be.”
Salvail also runs a production company, Salvail & Co., that has shows airing on public broadcasters Radio-Canada and the provincially-run Tele-Quebec. In addition to that, he hosts a radio show on French-language station Rouge FM, which is owned by Bell Media.
A report published Wednesday morning in La Presse cited 11 individuals who have come forward to complain about the harassment, abuse and inappropriate sexual behaviour they were subjected to while working for or in the company of Salvail.
They include incidents in which he allegedly made inappropriate sexual comments to his employees, where he touched employees suggestively against their will and where he exposed himself.
“In a meeting he stood up, he took out his penis and he asked what I would do to excite him,” said one person who spoke to La Presse on condition of anonymity.
The Star has not been able to independently verify any of the alleged incidents.
Salvail said in a statement published to his Facebook page Wednesday that he was taking a “professional pause of several days” to deal with the allegations made against him.
“I was shaken by what was published this morning. I’m approaching this situation with an enormous amount of empathy for those who I may have made to feel uncomfortable or hurt. I never meant to bother anyone,” he wrote.
“In such circumstances, I am lucky to have the support of my friends, my colleagues and my partner. I have chosen to take a professional pause of several days, a pause that will permit me to focus on these events.”
Salvail’s lawyer, Jacques Jeansonne, refused to comment on the allegations against his client.
Calls to Radio-Canada, V Télé, Télé-Québec and Bell Media seeking reaction to the allegations were not immediately returned.
In a news release, Group V Média, which broadcasts the talk show En Mode Salvail, said it was suspending the show immediately for an undetermined period and would also be reconsidering its partnerships with Salvail’s production company.
Air Transat is also distancing itself from the entertainer. It had hired Salvail for a promotional contest in which he and the crew of a Boeing 737 were to have flown around the province of Quebec today picking up 75 winners and a guest of their choice before landing in Montreal to attend a taping of the entertainer’s talk show.
The carrier said in a series of tweets Wednesday that it had cancelled Salvail’s participation in the event but would honour the flights for contest winners.
“We believe this decision is the most appropriate in the circumstances as we wait for light to be shed on these allegations,” the tweet, in French, said.
One of the people alleging to have been victimized by Salvail is Marco Berardini, a stylist and Montreal native who now lives and works in Los Angeles.
Berardini said that in 2003 Salvail sought out his professional fashion advice in an awkward encounter during which the TV host changed into a pair of skimpy black underwear and asked the stylist: “Do you think I’m sexy?” Then Salvail allegedly made a show of adjusting the fabric.
“He didn’t masturbate, but he clearly wanted me to look at his penis,” Berardini told La Presse, adding that he sought shelter in the bathroom.
“I was panicked.”
Several months later, when Berardini was hired to work on a Salvail’s television show, he recounted crouching down to get something from his bag and being accosted by the entertainer.
“He said to me: ‘Wow! What an ass! You should bend down more often. You’re wearing those jeans just to excite me.’ Then he touched his inner thigh and said: ‘And I think it worked!’”
Another time, Berardini, told La Presse, he lost patience with Salvail’s unwanted overtures.
“He was standing in front of me and he touched my hair. He said: ‘You have such nice hair. I’d like to pull it while making love to you.’”
When he stood up to Salvail and told him to stop, the entertainer got angry and berated the stylist, telling him he was ugly, fat and incompetent.
“He just wanted to destroy me.”
Quebec television personality Eric Salvail taking ‘pause’ after reports of sexual misconduct