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    Electricity is governed by the laws of physics. Government is bound by the rules of accounting.

    But political power and electrical power have one thing in common: They follow the path of least resistance.

    Now, Ontario’s auditor general is trying to bend both to her will. Ahead of the next election, Bonnie Lysyk is fighting another rearguard action against the Liberal plan to curb hydro rates.

    The auditor made headlines this week by accusing the government of short-circuiting the accounting rules with complex financial manoeuvres that could add $4 billion in borrowing costs over 30 years. Oddly, though, Lysyk doesn’t quibble with their plan to cut hydro rates by 25 per cent — despite her mandate to seek value for money — possibly because it’s far too popular with voters.

    I’ve argued before that it’s an expedient shell game that mortgages our future by refinancing power projects over a longer amortization term. But all major parties keep promising cheap electricity today (for higher rates tomorrow), so perhaps the auditor is wiser than me by staying silent on the overall strategy.

    Instead, her quibble is over tactics — that the Liberals are borrowing the money through Ontario Power Generation (OPG), their wholly-owned electrical utility, instead of carrying it on the government’s own balance sheet. And while the auditor bristles at this description, at root it’s an arcane accounting dispute — though she is surely setting the stage for a broader political dispute that could affect the coming campaign.

    It’s true that the Liberals were loath to add billions of fresh debt to bankroll this hydro rebate, because they had promised in the last campaign to eliminate the budget deficit by this year (which they did). Better to bury the borrowings in their OPG subsidiary, claim a balanced budget, and cast themselves as credible stewards of the province’s finances.

    This wouldn’t be the first government to rely on creative financial engineering to restructure our electricity infrastructure and engineering costs. Ontario’s consolidated balance sheet has always required a decoding ring, and the auditor is right to question its complexity — even if her answers offer no greater clarity.

    She faults the Liberals for offloading the borrowing on a subsidiary, and then using creative (but legal) accounting techniques to count future “regulated” revenues as an upcoming asset. Lysyk likens that to treating your credit card debt as an asset.

    That’s a peculiarly misleading analogy for the auditor to make. No, you don’t count your own credit card debt as an asset, but the bank surely does — it’s an account receivable. And a regulated revenue stream is eminently reliable cash flow.

    The Liberals argue that power projects have historically remained on the books of power producers like OPG. The difference, of course, is that the old Ontario Hydro once generated all our power, before it was dismembered and downsized (it’s a pecuniary irony that OPG is being asked to clean up the mess from the stealth privatization of the energy sector).

    The last time Lysyk attacked the government’s deficit calculations, an outside panel of experts rejected her arguments— because not even an auditor can make a surplus disappear from a balance sheet. There is no permanent arbiter for auditors, but Lysyk is no longer the last word on accounting disputes — merely one of many voices, right or wrong. Expect that voice to grow louder next year when she formally assesses the 2018-19 spring budget — and once again challenges Liberal claims of deficit elimination.

    The conventional narrative frames this as a political clash pitting our fearless auditor against feckless Liberal politicians. In fact, her fight is with senior public servants, the provincial comptroller, treasury board staff, and outside accounting firms — all of whom describe it as a “professional disagreement” over accounting standards.

    Most of these experts, who are governed by their own professional code of conduct, gave their seal of approval to the government’s books — rightly or wrongly. Lysyk countered that they are cooking the books — and demanded their internal correspondence in search of dissenters.

    Without providing details, the auditor points ominously to emails (unreleased, unidentified and unquantified) from some bureaucrats questioning the government’s plans — as if this is the ultimate proof point for her point of view. Was she expecting unanimity?

    Interesting but irrelevant, until you consider this fun footnote: While the auditor was demanding confidential emails from public servants who give private counsel, she flatly rejected an Access to Information request filed this year by my colleague, Robert Benzie, for her office’s sometimes testy correspondence with bureaucrats. The response? An Access to Information request demanding to know Benzie’s identity (no secrets here — he readily waived the automatic confidentiality of the process). The auditor still refused to release any correspondence.

    So much for publicly accepted principles of Access to Information, transparency and reciprocity. Some watchdogs don’t like being watched.

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

    Watch out for watchdogs who don’t like being watched: CohnWatch out for watchdogs who don’t like being watched: Cohn

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    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau celebrates the second anniversary of his election victory this week with his finance minister in a self-imposed exile from the House of Commons that the opposition parties would gladly make permanent.

    Three parliamentary sitting days have elapsed in the ethical storm that has engulfed Bill Morneau over his decision to keep control, albeit indirectly, of his shares in his family’s pension services company, and he has yet to show up in the House to face down his opposition critics.

    They allege the minister breached if not the law at least the spirit of the conflict-of-interest rules that govern elected officials, a point the Conservatives and the New Democrats hammered over the course of Wednesday’s rowdy question period.

    Read more:

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

    Trudeau, Trump governments trade criticism as NAFTA talks falter

    Morneau walks himself into a political crisis: Tim Harper

    In an interview this week, Morneau said he had no plans to step down. But at mid-mandate, Trudeau’s star economic recruit has become a liability. That’s not just because of his handling of his financial affairs. He is a weak link in a crucial spot in the government’s chain of command.

    As Trudeau’s clumsy efforts to play interference for his finance minister demonstrated this week, it is a situation that the prime minister cannot, on his own star-dusted merits, mitigate.

    Had he served in someone else’s cabinet, Trudeau would not have been a natural choice for a senior economic portfolio. Morneau was meant to anchor the government’s economic team. Until further notice, the anchor is dragging down the Liberal ship.

    The finance minister’s travails are also acting as a distraction from some of the more inspired moves of the government over the first half of its mandate.

    Inexperienced ministers have accounted for much of the bad press the Liberals have endured over the past two years. But not all the Liberal rookies have been underwhelming in the execution of their ministerial duties.

    The performance of Chrystia Freeland as the lead minister on the Canada/U.S. front falls in the opposite category. The minister of global affairs is holding her own on the toughest file the government is tasked to manage, one that is not even of the Liberals’ own choosing.

    In a support role as international trade minister, first-time MP François-Philippe Champagne has also risen to the challenge. On the Quebec media hot seat over the Bombardier-Airbus arrangement this week, he succeeded in not making a delicate situation worse for his government.

    Perhaps Champagne could offer lessons to his heritage colleague, Mélanie Joly, who left only debris in her wake when she did the media rounds to sell her Netflix deal this month.

    Freeland and Champagne were assigned their current roles as part of a post-U.S. presidential election realignment of federal resources.

    Success for Canada on that front may not be in the offing. Perhaps the best realistic outcome will amount to limiting the damage of the protectionist policies of Donald Trump’s administration. But there is a consensus that extends beyond the Liberal ranks that on this issue Trudeau has so far navigated deftly.

    Indeed one of the most notable features of last week’s first ministers meeting was the absence at least in public of provincial recrimination over Ottawa’s handing of the NAFTA file.

    Speaking of federal-provincial relations, as counterintuitive as that may seem, the decision to set a firm deadline for the legalization of marijuana was almost certainly a tactically inspired one.

    Whether one agrees or not with the promise to legalize cannabis, the Liberals did campaign on it. It is not a surprise they have sprung on their unsuspecting provincial counterparts. But absent the July 1 deadline it is far from certain that all provinces would have resisted the temptation to drag their feet on the way to creating the infrastructure required to sell cannabis legally.

    The legal cannabis operation will probably not open to rave reviews. Squeaky wheels will abound on the road to a well-oiled marijuana marketing system. But from a political perspective, the reality of legalization stands to be less daunting than the doomsday picture opponents of the Liberal policy are painting.

    On that score, a reality check is almost upon the federal parties.

    The Conservative opposition has spent little time in question period quizzing the Liberals on the cannabis issue but they have talked up a storm about its imminent legalization in Lac-Saint-Jean, one of two Conservative ridings that will be the site of mid-mandate by-elections on Monday.

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

    Two years in, Trudeau’s rookie ministers have accounted for much of the government’s grief: HébertTwo years in, Trudeau’s rookie ministers have accounted for much of the government’s grief: Hébert

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    Calling it a tool with “the potential to save lives,” Toronto police are renewing their push for greater deployment of conducted energy weapons, saying more front-line officers should have access to the weapons during tense and possibly deadly interactions.

    But at a public meeting Wednesday on the possible expansion of Tasers to more front-line officers, critics pushed back against the device, better known as a Taser, raising concerns about increasing weaponization of police and unknown medical impacts on those with mental-health challenges.

    “We don’t need Tasers. We need de-escalation,” said Peter Rosenthal, a Toronto lawyer who has represented families of people killed by police.

    Currently, only front-line supervisors and some officers in specialized units carry the weapon. The Toronto police is asking its civilian board to expand deployment to on-duty Primary Response Unit constables and to on-duty constables from designated specialized units.

    No details about the number of Tasers or total cost have been released. Toronto police deputy chief Barbara McLean said at Wednesday’s meeting that a formal request will be sent to the civilian board.

    Read More:

    Police need to talk, not use Tasers

    Should cops carry Tasers? Public to weigh in at Toronto police board meeting

    Outgoing deputy chief ‘unreservedly’ endorses Tasers for front-line cops

    The weapon would “never to be used as a substitute for de-escalation” and would be part of a suite of tools available to officers, she said. The weapon has “the potential to save lives,” she said.

    Board chair Andy Pringle said no decision would be made immediately and that expanding the deployment of the weapon is an “active discussion.”

    Dr. Peter Collins, a forensic psychiatrist who has been called in by Toronto’s Emergency Task Force to help during crisis calls, says despite the emphasis placed by Toronto police on communication and verbal de-escalation, “unfortunately not everyone will respond to that type of approach.”

    “Some individuals are not going to respond and you have to have other options,” Collins said.

    Tasers, the only brand of CEW approved for use in Ontario, incapacitate a person through the deployment of two darts connected by wires, which deliver an electric current. The weapon causes involuntary muscle spasms and temporary loss of motor control.

    The weapon has become popular within police services in Ontario as a less lethal option for officers in comparison to a firearm. Since the province of Ontario stopped restricting Taser use to supervisors and select officers in 2013, virtually every police service in the province has expanded use of the weapon except Toronto.

    Ron Bain, executive director of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP), said his organization has long supported Taser deployment to front line officers. The fact that Toronto police officers have restricted access to the weapons means there is now a risk to public and officer safety. The Toronto police board “has the power and authority” to fix the situation, Bain said.

    But some members of the public, legal experts and rights organizations are speaking out against greater Taser deployment. High on their list of concerns are the unknown health risks, particularly to people with mental illness.

    “CEWs are not harmless weapons. CEWs are weapons that are intensely painful and can potentially lead to serious, even lethal, injuries,” wrote Rob De Luca, director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association’s public safety program, in a letter to the police board in advance of Wednesday’s meeting.

    In a written submission to the Toronto police board, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) says the use of CEWs “raises serious human rights concerns because people with mental health disabilities tend to have more frequent contact with police, and may be more likely to be Tasered because of behaviours and responses to police instructions that appear ‘unusual’ or ‘unpredictable.’”

    “They may also be more likely to die after being Tasered,” says the OHRC submission.

    Ontario’s police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), continues to probe the death of Rui Nabico, 31, who was killed after he was Tasered by a Toronto police officer. Earlier this year, the SIU cleared Toronto police in the death of Rodrigo Almonacid Gonzalez, who was Tasered eight times but whose death the coroner concluded was due to acute cocaine toxicity.

    Following the high-profile death of Sammy Yatim — who was shot eight times by Const. James Forcillo, then Tasered by another officer — Toronto police tapped retired Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci to conduct a review of police use of force on those in mental-health crisis. Among Iacobucci’s recommendations was that Toronto launch a pilot project allowing front line officers greater access to Tasers.

    But the recommendation came with a caveat. Iacobucci expressed concern about the unknown health risks posed by the weapon, particularly to people with mental illness, wondering if the population might be particularly vulnerable to the potentially serious effects of Tasers due to a higher likelihood of pre-existing medical conditions, prescription medications, substance abuse issues and high levels of agitation.

    “The absence of definitive research into the risks of CEWs for populations who are likely to encounter the police in non-criminal contexts is a problem,” Iacobucci wrote in his 2014 report.

    The retired judge recommended Toronto police “advocate for an interprovincial study of the medical effects of CEW use on various groups of people (including vulnerable groups such as people in crisis).”

    However, the recommendation was among the few Toronto police did not implement.

    “While the Service recognizes the value of continual research, it remains satisfied that the current medical research has found no persuasive evidence of risk to vulnerable persons,” Toronto police said in response.

    However, critics have questioned the quality of research on CEWs, including that some studies were conducted or funded by the weapon manufacturers.

    Wendy Gillis can be reached at

    Critics question Toronto police push for more TasersCritics question Toronto police push for more Tasers

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    Police are investigating after a British Columbia man had around $500,000 worth of rare coins and bills stolen from his vehicle while it was parked in Mississauga last month.

    The 68-year-old man had travelled to Ontario for a collectibles convention, police said. He parked in a hotel parking near Edwards Blvd. and Derry Rd. on Sept. 28, leaving two bags of coins and bills inside his vehicle.

    According to police, a suspect — described as a balding man with a heavy build and between the ages of 35 and 45 — broke into the collector’s vehicle at around 1 p.m. that day and walked away with the bags.

    The stolen bank notes and coins include an American $20 coin and Canadian $5 bills issued by the Bank of Hamilton and the Molsons Bank.

    Surveillance video of the alleged suspect has been released by police.

    $500,000 in rare coins and bills stolen in Mississauga$500,000 in rare coins and bills stolen in Mississauga

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    ALBANY, N.Y.—Last March, five women gathered in a home near here to enter a secret sisterhood they were told was created to empower women.

    To gain admission, they were required to give their recruiter — or “master,” as she was called — naked photographs or other compromising material and were warned that such “collateral” might be publicly released if the group’s existence were disclosed.

    The women, in their 30s and 40s, belonged to a self-help organization called Nxivm, which is based in Albany and has chapters across the country, Canada and Mexico.

    Sarah Edmondson, one of the participants, said she had been told she would get a small tattoo as part of the initiation. But she was not prepared for what came next.

    Each woman was told to undress and lie on a massage table, while three others restrained her legs and shoulders. According to one of them, their “master,” a top Nxivm official named Lauren Salzman, instructed them to say: “Master, please brand me, it would be an honour.”

    A female doctor proceeded to use a cauterizing device to sear a five-centimetre-square symbol below each woman’s hip, a procedure that took 20 to 30 minutes. For hours, muffled screams and the smell of burning tissue filled the room.

    “I wept the whole time,” Edmondson recalled. “I disassociated out of my body.”

    Since the late 1990s, an estimated 16,000 people have enrolled in courses offered by Nxivm (pronounced Nex-e-um), which it says are designed to bring about greater self-fulfilment by eliminating psychological and emotional barriers. Most participants take some workshops, like the group’s “Executive Success Programs,” and resume their lives. But other people have become drawn more deeply into Nxivm, giving up careers, friends and families to become followers of its leader, Keith Raniere, who is known within the group as “Vanguard.”

    Both Nxivm and Raniere, 57, have long attracted controversy. Former members have depicted him as a man who manipulated his adherents, had sex with them and urged women to follow near-starvation diets to achieve the type of physique he found appealing.

    Now, as talk about the secret sisterhood and branding has circulated within Nxivm, scores of members are leaving. Interviews with a dozen of them portray a group spinning more deeply into disturbing practices. Many members said they feared that confessions about indiscretions would be used to blackmail them.

    Mark Vicente, a filmmaker and former top Nxivm official, said that after hearing about the secret society, he confronted Raniere.

    “I said ‘whatever you are doing, you are heading for a blowup,’” Vicente said.

    Several former members have asked state authorities to investigate the group’s practices, but officials have declined to pursue action.

    In July, Edmondson filed a complaint with the New York State Department of Health against Danielle Roberts, a licensed osteopath and follower of Raniere, who performed the branding, according to Edmondson and another woman. In a letter, the agency said it would not look into Roberts because she was not acting as Edmondson’s doctor when the branding is said to have happened.

    Separately, a state police investigator told Edmondson and two other women that officials would not pursue their criminal complaint against Nxivm because their actions had been consensual, a text message shows.

    State medical regulators also declined to act on a complaint filed against another Nxivm-affilated physician, Brandon Porter. Porter, as part of an “experiment,” showed women graphically violent film clips while a brainwave machine and video camera recorded their reactions, according to two women who took part.

    The women said they were not warned that some of the clips were violent, including footage of four women being murdered and dismembered.

    “Please look into this ASAP,” a former Nxivm member, Jennifer Kobelt, stated in her complaint. “This man needs to be stopped.”

    In September, regulators told Kobelt they concluded that the allegations against Porter did not meet the agency’s definition of “medical misconduct,” their letter shows.

    Raniere and other top Nxivm officials, including Lauren Salzman, did not respond to repeated emails, letters or text messages seeking comment. Roberts and Porter also did not respond to inquiries.

    Former members said that, inside Nxivm, they are being portrayed as defectors who want to destroy the group.

    It is not clear how many women were branded or which Nxivm officials were aware of the practice.

    A copy of a text message Raniere sent to a female follower indicates that he knew women were being branded and that the symbol’s design incorporated his initials.

    “Not initially intended as my initials but they rearranged it slightly for tribute,” Raniere wrote. “If it were abraham lincolns or bill gates initials no one would care.”

    Joining the sisterhood

    Edmondson, who lives in Vancouver and helped start Nxivm’s chapter there, was thrilled when Lauren Salzman arrived in January to teach workshops.

    The women, both in their early 40s, were close and Edmondson regarded Salzman as a confidante and mentor.

    “Lauren was someone I really looked up to as a rock star within the company,” said Edmondson, an actress who joined Nxivm about a decade ago.

    During her visit, Salzman said she had something “really amazing” she wanted to share. “It is kind of strange and top secret and in order for me to tell you about it you need to give me something as collateral to make sure you don’t speak about it,” Edmondson recalled her saying.

    The proposition seemed like a test of trust. After Edmondson wrote a letter detailing past indiscretions, Salzman told her about the secret sorority.

    She said it had been formed as a force for good, one that could grow into a network that could influence events like elections. To become effective, members had to overcome weaknesses that Raniere taught were common to women — an over-emotional nature, a failure to keep promises and an embrace of the role of victim, according to Edmondson and other members.

    Submission and obedience would be used as tools to achieve those goals, several women said. The sisterhood would comprise circles, each led by a “master” who would recruit six “slaves,” according to two women. In time, they would recruit slaves of their own.

    “She made it sound like a bad-ass bitch boot camp,” Edmondson said.

    Edmondson and others said that during training, the women were required to send their master texts that read “Morning M” and “Night M.” During drills, a master texted her slaves “?” and they had 60 seconds to reply “Ready M.”

    Trainees who failed had to pay penalties, including fasting, or could face physical punishments, two women said.

    In March, Edmondson arrived for an initiation ceremony at Salzman’s home in Clifton Park, New York, a town about 20 miles north of Albany where Raniere and some followers live. After undressing, she was led to a candlelit ceremony, where she removed a blindfold and saw Salzman’s other slaves for the first time. The women were then driven to a nearby house, where the branding took place.

    In the spring, the sorority grew as women joined different circles. Slaves added compromising collateral every month to Dropbox accounts and a Google Document was used to list a timetable for recruiting new slaves, several women said.

    Around the same time, an actress, Catherine Oxenberg, said she learned her daughter had been initiated into the sorority.

    “I felt sick to my stomach,” said Oxenberg, who starred in the 1980s television series “Dynasty.”

    Oxenberg had become increasingly concerned about her 26-year-old daughter, India, who looked emaciated from dieting. She told her mother she had not had a menstrual period for a year and that her hair was falling out.

    Oxenberg said she invited her daughter home in late May to try to get her away from the group.

    When Oxenberg confronted her about the sorority, her daughter defended its practices.

    “She said it was a character-building experience,” Oxenberg said.

    ‘Humans can be noble’

    By the time the secret group was taking shape, Mark Vicente, the filmmaker, had been a faithful follower of Raniere for more than a decade.

    Vicente said he had been contacted by Salzman’s mother, Nancy, a co-founder of Nxivm who is known as “Prefect,” after the 2004 release of a documentary he co-directed that explored spirituality and physics.

    Soon, Vicente was taking courses that he said helped him expose his fears and learn strategies that made him feel more resolute.

    He also made a documentary called “Encender el Corazón,” or “Ignite the Heart,” which lionized Raniere’s work in Mexico.

    “Keith Raniere is an activist, scientist, philosopher and, above all, humanitarian,” Vicente says in the film.

    Raniere has used those words to describe himself. On his website, he said he spoke in full sentences by age 1, mastered high school mathematics by 12 and taught himself to play “concert level” piano. At 16, he entered Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.

    Before Nxivm, he helped run a company called Consumers’ Buyline Inc., which offered discounts to members on groceries and other products.

    In the mid-1990s, several state attorneys general investigated it as a suspected pyramid scheme; Raniere and his associates agreed to shut it down.

    Through Nxivm, Raniere transformed himself into a New Age teacher with long hair and a gurulike manner of speaking.

    “Humans can be noble,” he says on his website. “The question is: will we put forth what is necessary?”

    By many accounts, Raniere sleeps during the day and goes out at night to play volleyball or take female followers for long walks. Several women described him as warm, funny and eager to talk about subjects that interested them.

    Others saw a different side. Nxivm sued several former members, accusing them of stealing its trade secrets, among other things.

    Vicente said he was aware of the negative publicity, including a 2012 series by The Albany Times-Union that described alleged abuses inside Nxivm.

    Vicente’s views began to change this year after his wife was ostracized when she left Nxivm and he heard rumours about the secret sorority.

    Vicente said he got evasive answers when he asked Raniere about the group. Raniere acknowledged giving “five women permission to do something,” but did not elaborate, other than to say he would investigate, Vicente said.

    Vicente said he suspected Raniere was lying to him and may have done so before. Suddenly, self-awareness techniques he had learned felt like tools that had been used to control him.

    “No one goes in looking to have their personality stripped away,” he said. “You just don’t realize what is happening.”

    Followers start to flee

    In May, Sarah Edmondson began to recoil from her embrace of the secret society.

    Her husband, Anthony Ames, who was also a Nxivm member, learned about her branding and the couple both wanted out.

    Before quitting, Ames went to Nxivm’s offices in Albany to collect money he said the group owed him.

    He had his cellphone in his pocket and turned on its recorder.

    On the recording, Ames tells another member that Edmondson was branded and that other women told him about handing over collateral. “This is criminal,” Ames says.

    The voice of a woman — who Ames said is Lauren Salzman — is heard trying to calm him. “I don’t think you are open to having a conversation,” she said.

    “You are absolutely right, I’m not open to having a conversation,” he replied. “My wife got branded.”

    A few days later, many of Raniere’s followers learned of the secret society from a website run by a Buffalo-area businessman, Frank R. Parlato Jr. Parlato had been locked in a long legal battle with two sisters, Sara and Clare Bronfman, who are members of Nxivm and the daughters of businessman Edgar Bronfman, the deceased chairman of Seagram Co. and member of the influential Canadian Jewish Bronfman family.

    In 2011, the Bronfman sisters sued Parlato, whom they had hired as a consultant, alleging he had defrauded them of $1 million (U.S.).

    Four years later, in 2015, the Justice Department indicted him on charges of fraud and other crimes arising from alleged activities, including defrauding the Bronfmans. Parlato has denied the claims and the case is pending.

    Parlato started a website, The Frank Report, which he uses to lambaste prosecutors, Raniere and the Bronfmans. In early June, Parlato published the first in a torrent of salacious posts under the headline, “Branded Slaves and Master Raniere.”

    A Nxivm follower, Soukaina Mehdaoui, said she reached out to Raniere after reading the post. Mehdaoui, 25, was a newcomer to Nxivm but the two had grown close.

    She said Raniere told her the secret sorority began after three women offered damaging collateral to seal lifetime vows of obedience to him.

    While Mehdaoui had joined the sorority, the women in her circle were not branded. She was appalled.

    “There are things I didn’t know that I didn’t sign up for, and I’m not even hearing about it from you,” she texted Raniere.

    Raniere texted back about his initials and the brand.

    By then, panic was spreading inside Nxivm. Slaves were ordered to delete encrypted messages between them and erase Google documents, two women said. To those considering breaking away, it was not clear whom they could trust and who were Nxivm loyalists.

    Late one night, Mehdaoui met secretly with another Nxivm member. They took out their cellphones to show they were not recording the conversation.

    Both decided to leave Nxivm, despite concerns that the group would retaliate by releasing their “collateral” or suing them.

    Mehdaoui said that when she went to say goodbye to Raniere, he urged her to stay.

    “Do you think, I’m bad, I don’t agree with abuses,” she recalled him saying. He said the group “gives women tools to be powerful, to regain their power for the sake of building love.”

    Nxivm recently filed criminal complaints with the Vancouver police against Edmondson and two other women accusing them of mischief and other crimes in connection with the firm’s now-closed centre there, according to Edmondson. The women have denied the allegations. A spokesman for the Vancouver police declined to comment.

    Edmondson and other former followers of Raniere said they were focusing on recovering.

    “There is no playbook for leaving a cult,” she said.

    ‘Master, please brand me’: Inside the secretive self-help organization Nxivm‘Master, please brand me’: Inside the secretive self-help organization Nxivm

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    She moves. She menstruates.

    Or she doesn’t move, not as a cognitive motion, a message sent from her brain — despite dramatic video that shows Taquisha McKitty bending her limbs, stretching her toes, rolling her head.

    Nearly a month after the Toronto area woman was declared legally dead.

    Read more:

    Judge grants two-week injunction that keeps Brampton woman on life support

    Brampton woman on life support doesn’t have ‘capacity to breathe,’ doctor tells court

    ‘She’s still alive’: Brampton family goes to court to keep daughter on life support

    And the blood, well that proves nothing.

    “I am aware that there was vaginal bleeding,” Dr. Andrew Healey told a hearing in Brampton Superior Court on Wednesday. “Nobody knows if that was menstrual.”

    Yet neither do they know, definitively, it wasn’t.

    Cadavers don’t bleed, do they?

    Yet Healey, when pressed on his answer to the menstrual questions, responded with palpable tetchiness. “What part of my sentence do you not understand?”

    If a month passes and she bleeds — menstruates again — would that be convincing? A month might not be granted to McKitty, depending on how a judge decides.

    But they — the doctors aligned against McKitty’s desperate family — would have us believe that their interpretation of “whole brain death” is correct. How could they possibly be wrong, those physicians, who signed off on a death certificate on Sept. 20?

    Several injunctions have been granted by the court since then, allowing the family to pursue their case, an interim ruling which has kept McKitty on a ventilator.

    The ventilator, argued Healey — critical care physician and division head at Brampton Civic Hospital — is keeping McKitty alive, or the illusion of alive.

    Her exhalation is a passive response to the air being pumped into her lungs, no different than a balloon flattening when the air is released, an analogy belittled by family lawyer Hugh Scher.

    “She’s breathing now,” said Scher.

    Henley: “No, she is not.

    “The ventilator is doing all the work of breathing and the expelling is a passive reaction,” Healey insisted under cross-examination.

    It’s a circular argument: She’s dead because we say so, because there’s no evidence of brain stem function. Evidence to the contrary is unscientific, but only because that is the definition that has been adopted in most jurisdictions.

    We are apparently not to believe what we can see with our own eyes — the distinct movements McKitty has been making and which have grown more compelling, the family maintains, as time passes, rather than diminishing. They are adamant that McKitty has responded to the stimulus of their voices, that in some way, out of the depths of her darkness, she is voluntarily making her aliveness known.

    Whole brain death, which equals the finality of death, is a legal definition constituting death in Ontario: The absence of clinical neurological function, “irreversible loss of the capacity for consciousness,” said Healey.

    More explicit and absolute than being in a persistent vegetative state, where a patient “would still have some capacity for consciousness.”

    It’s an anguishing state of disagreement, for the doctors who claim to have science on their side but far more so for the family, who have only their instincts and their emotions and their refusal to give up on a beloved daughter, sister, aunt, niece, mother.

    The doctors argue that McKitty’s movements are nothing more than a reflex and shouldn’t be mistaken for signs of life.

    As court has heard, nurses have not documented any of these persistent movements on McKitty’s medical file, though the phenomenon has been discussed with the family by nurses and other doctors who’ve been involved in McKitty’s treatment. Which, frankly, has been scarcely any treatment at all. The drugs which have been administered, her parents say, were intended from the outset to best preserve the woman’s organs for possible transplant. McKitty had signed an organ donor card. Doctors do not dispute that was the reason for giving McKitty L-thyroxine after she was declared dead.

    In essence, patients must be kept “alive” — blood and oxygen flowing to the organs, heart continuing to beat on a ventilator — for organs to be harvested.

    The family accuses the doctors of rushing to harvest, focusing on the organs rather than McKitty as a human being. That view was supported by a retired American doctor who was brought in by the family to testify on Tuesday.

    In most medical circles, Dr. Paul Bryne would be considered a heretic.

    “It’s not a simple reflex, it’s more than that,” said Byrne.

    No, countered Healey. It’s automatism — actions without conscious thought or intention — or spinal cord reflex, which are possible in brain-dead patients. But still, nearly a month later?

    Healey said he wasn’t aware of any “good science” which shows that spinal reflex “cannot happen” after a significant period of time.

    McKitty was brought to hospital on Sept. 14, suffering from a drug overdose. Tests revealed she had a mixture of oxycodone, benzodiazepines, marijuana and cocaine in her system.

    And that, the family contends, influenced the decisions that were made, although no evidence has been produced to support the allegation. (Some of the social media commentary about the case has been appallingly merciless: Pull the plug on the druggie!)

    “Why not her?” McKitty’s father, Stanley Stewart, demanded outside court, pleading for treatment, for a second chance at life for his daughter. “Why not in this case? What’s so special about her that she doesn’t deserve treatment, that she doesn’t deserve all of the best efforts to give her the opportunity to live? Why, because she came in under a drug situation? Is that why? So her life is less valuable because of the circumstances?”

    A dozen family members were in court yesterday. The legal battle, which could run up to $200,000 in bills, is being supported by a GoFundMe campaign started by McKitty’s cousin.

    “It’s been hard from day one,” said Stewart. “It’s almost gotten a little bit harder to hear some of the evidence. A lot of the things we thought are now being actually exposed. The fact that she didn’t receive treatment, any intervention. The fact that some of the stuff they did after (the death certificate was issued) were towards her organs and not towards helping her. We felt that we knew it but now it’s on the record.”

    Stewart claimed that Healey hasn’t even seen his daughter in three weeks.

    He alleges attending physicians have been told not to document McKitty’s movements. “What are they scared of? They (doctors) know that we know the truth and the truth is that those are not reflex, automated reflexes. Those are actual movements that are stimulated by our voices, by our touch.

    “She’s not brain dead. She has brain injury.”

    Alyson McKitty says there are still too many questions about what happened to her daughter. “We feel like we need answers. We feel like this wasn’t done the right way. I don’t think there were enough tests done to be able to determine that she was already deceased. It was done too quickly.

    “Definitely she’s moving her entire body. She’s moving her head, she’s moving her arms, she’s moving her legs, her feet, everything.”

    The family wants the death certificate revoked and a 72-hour video recording made of the patient, a request which would apparently violate the hospital’s patient privacy guidelines and institutional policy.

    The family comes to the medical establishment with their heart in their hands.

    The medical establishment responds with bureaucracy.

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

    Brampton woman on life support is moving, is bleeding, but is dead, doctors say. Her family fights on: DiMannoBrampton woman on life support is moving, is bleeding, but is dead, doctors say. Her family fights on: DiManno

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    This week the Toronto Sun published an article sponsored by our city’s most visible cab company, Beck Taxi. The piece is a predictably fluffy ode to the 50-year-old orange and green cab service, specifically to its renewed commitment to customer service and its development in 2012 of “Canada’s first taxi ordering app.” The article also predictably includes what is presumably a not-so-veiled dig at the popular and controversial ride-hailing service, Uber. In the words of Beck operations manager Kristine Hubbard, who is quoted throughout the piece, “We see ourselves as a company made up of people using technology. Not technology using people.”

    This appears to be the go-to PR tactic of cab companies trying to survive in the age of ride-hailing services: they throw shade at the likes of Uber and Lyft, while at the same time trying to keep up with them. In August, Hubbard told Flare magazine that Uber’s presence was a “wake-up call” because it inspired Beck to improve its customer service with cleaner vehicles and courteous drivers. Diamond taxi, another Toronto cab staple, offers passengers an Uber-like app through which they can rate their rides. And recently, a cab driver in the city offered me a bottle of water.

    Read more:

    The biggest winners and the biggest losers in Toronto’s Uber battle

    All of this makes perfect sense. It’s entirely reasonable that cab companies are trying to adapt to a new urban travel climate in which many passengers are accustomed to getting free beverages and breath mints every time they climb into an Uber. But it’s my belief that in an effort to compete with Uber, traditional cab companies are selling themselves short. Despite all their griping about the new ride-hailing order, cab companies continually neglect to mention that they offer something that Uber, in my mind, cannot: a fleet of drivers who actually know instinctively where they are going.

    I was an Uber addict until I realized that if I needed to get somewhere on time in a pinch, the service failed me. Drivers, in my experience, are kind and courteous and they always have snacks on hand. But because many of them are new to professional driving and unfamiliar with the downtown core, they are sorely lacking a sense of direction.

    Cabbies, on the other hand, have a deep knowledge of the city’s roads and an almost innate ability to problem solve when traffic or construction interrupts a standard route. This knowledge is not based on GPS or Waze; it is based on experience.

    And when you are trying to get somewhere fast, experience matters. Yes, Uber drivers have access to navigation technology, but when that technology has a glitch or recalibrates, precious time is lost driving around in circles.

    For many cab drivers, their work is a vocation, not a last resort or a way to make a few bucks on the side until a different opportunity emerges. Not long ago, I was running late for a meeting across town that I had intended to walk to. I hopped in a cab and explained my situation. The driver said, “I can get you there in 10 minutes without speeding.” And he did, via a series of alleyways, side streets and short turns only a veteran would know and, most importantly, only a veteran would know how to navigate confidently and quickly.

    And yet cab companies rarely appear to market this veterans’ knowledge, choosing instead to fearmonger about the danger of getting into an Uber. This tactic doesn’t work. Torontonians are not afraid of Uber. But we are afraid of being late. The cabbie motto, therefore, shouldn’t be “Arrive alive.” It should be “Arrive on time.” Or “Arrive in silence.”

    Another cab-specific perk hardly ever mentioned? In addition to knowing where they are going, cab drivers are often aloof. They are content to give one-word answers and listen to talk radio without so much as making eye contact with the person in the back seat.

    I’ve noticed a tendency among Uber evangelists to frame this aloofness in a negative light. “Uber drivers are so much friendlier than cabbies,” they say. And it’s true, they usually are. I have been asked by at least four Uber drivers what my Instagram handle is. One even told me that he began driving with Uber not only to make some extra money, “but to meet people.” That’s nice for him, but for a woman travelling alone, this kind of forwardness isn’t cute; it’s annoying and creepy. I do not get into cars with strangers to meet people. I get into cars with strangers to go places. Therefore, I have come to appreciate the cab driver-passenger relationship, which can be boiled down to a series of “turn here’s” and affirmative grunts.

    Cab companies, take note: you should talk up what you’re actually good at, not what you wish you were good at. Because there are probably thousands of people in this city who would trade all the free bottled water in the world to quietly whip across town.

    Emma Teitel is a national affairs columnist.

    Why I like taxis better than Uber: TeitelWhy I like taxis better than Uber: Teitel

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    Six reasons for optimism as the Raptors prepare to open the NBA regular season:


    There’s something to be said for having groups of players who are familiar with each other. Not only can they figure things out as a group during games, but they have the ability to get on each other away from the games to draw out the best in each other. Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas have been together for six seasons, which gives them a leg up on much of the competition.

    All-star back-court

    There’s always going to be legitimate debate about which back-court combination is the best in the league, in the conference and even in the division. But no matter what style of offence they are asked to play or what their defensive assignments are, there’s no denying that Lowry and DeRozan are legitimate NBA all-stars and have been for three seasons now.

    The schedule

    It’s absolute torture to start — a season-long, six-game road trip right off the bat, and another journey to the west coast before December is half finished — but once it turns, it turns well. The Raptors do not play a game outside of the Eastern time zone after Valentine’s Day. That’s 25 straight games with the longest flight being to Florida. The longest road trip is three games, and two of them — at the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks — don’t require even changing hotels.

    The East

    The Eastern Conference is certainly not as deep as the West, but it’s the only one the Raptors have to worry about winning. There seems to be a clear distinction between the top four teams — Cleveland, Toronto, Boston, Washington — and the rest, and that could be a huge factor when the post-season begins in six months or so.

    The memories

    It’s the “been there, done that” syndrome, and maybe it comes into play next May and June. Having tasted the Eastern Conference final once, knowing what it takes to beat the mighty Cavaliers in a game — maybe not a series, yet, but a game — could give the Raptors the post-season confidence to take one more giant step.


    The Raptors were much easier to guard in the cauldron of the playoffs with such a heavy reliance on the offensive skills of DeRozan and Lowry. If they can make alterations to turn more players into consistent scorers and contributors — and they’ve got the season to figure out how — it’ll help when needed most.

    Raptors season preview: Six reasons for hopeRaptors season preview: Six reasons for hope

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    Right until the end, Gord Downie never looked back.

    We already knew how this song was going to end. Still, when the news broke on Wednesday morning and the country gasped, the heartache we felt last year after learning about his terminal brain cancer came rushing back.

    And this time it won’t go away.

    Stolen from us at the age of 53, Downie is leaving when we need him most. Who will write the songs that cross generations and slice across geography? Who will be our poet laureate and history professor, our spirited raconteur and unflinching critic, our tour guide to the past and cultural voyager of the future?

    Even after the diagnosis of glioblastoma, an aggressive cancer that often leaves no margin of hope, Downie did not retreat to the shadows. There was no hint of self-pity. If anything, the frontman for the Tragically Hip shifted into overdrive as he led his beloved band on a final tour in 2016, filling stadiums and moistening eyes as the country started the grim ritual of mourning what we had not yet lost.

    Downie was dealt the cruellest of hands. And he doubled down on living.

    “Gord knew this day was coming,” his family said in a statement on Wednesday. “His response was to spend this precious time as he always had — making music, making memories and expressing deep gratitude to his family and friends for a life well lived, often sealing it with a kiss . . . on the lips.

    “Gord said he had lived many lives. As a musician, he lived ‘the life’ for over 30 years, lucky to do most of it with his high school buddies. At home, he worked just as tirelessly at being a good father, son, brother, husband and friend. No one worked harder on every part of their life than Gord. No one.”

    What’s amazing about these many lives, and the hard work he devoted to each, is the lack of compromise that defined them all. He was told the end is near and he somehow found new beginnings. In the darkness, he found ways to keep creating in the light, to keep on loving and, ultimately, keep on giving.

    We should all be blessed with such grace, drive and selfless resolve.

    It was like Downie had discovered a kink in the space-time continuum and was operating at full speed for 60 hours per day. It was like he was determined to keep serving as a unifying force while nudging Canada in the right direction.

    His new solo album, Introduce Yerself, comes out on Oct. 27. On Sunday, at 9 p.m., the CBC will air the broadcast premiere of Gord Downie’s Secret Path in Concert, which was filmed last fall at Roy Thomson Hall and is a project that “acknowledges a dark part of Canada’s history — the long-suppressed mistreatment of Indigenous children and families by the residential school system — with the hope of starting a national conversation and furthering reconciliation.”

    On the most primal level, the loss of Downie the Musician hurts because of what the Hip represented for more than three decades. This was a band that scored the sound track to thousands of lives as a generation came of age.

    Regardless of who you were and where you were growing up, the Hip was there when called upon. Their music filled our days and nights. And as if by sonic osmosis, all these years later, even non-fans can hum more Hip songs than they might suspect.

    This is why their best-known tracks — including “New Orleans is Sinking,” “Bobcaygeon,” “Blow at High Dough,” “Courage,” “Ahead by a Century,” “Fifty-Mission Cap,” “At the Hundredth Meridian” — can now feel more like nostalgia than music. That inimitable voice will forever be a gateway to the past.

    Downie’s songs are, in the end, our memories.

    But on an intellectual level, the loss of Downie the Conscience may prove to be the bigger forfeiture. Secret Path started as a collection of 10 poems inspired by the 1966 death of 12-year-old Chanie Wenjack, an Indigenous boy who succumbed to exposure after trying to escape on foot from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School to find his family.

    Downie has crusaded for reconciliation and, along the way, challenged Canada to do more. In the pantheon of popular music today, there is no natural heir apparent, at least not anyone who had the influence and power of Downie.

    His convictions flowed from ideas, and not the other way around.

    His sense of nationalism, often misunderstood, was rooted in equality.

    But at this time of mourning, when our grief feels like looping power-chords, let us just do what Downie never did, which is look back.

    Thank you, Gord, for the songs, the albums and the memories. Thank you for the cryptic lyrics and the madcap performances. Thank you for the crazy dancing and the vivid poetry. Thank you for always wanting to live in a better country and for always wanting that country to be Canada.

    Gord Downie made us want to fix Canada: MenonGord Downie made us want to fix Canada: Menon

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    Roger Fowler has been fighting for 26 years for compensation for the cancer he says was caused by the many years he worked amid asbestos and chemicals at the General Electric plant in Peterborough.

    His hopes were raised earlier this year when the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board promised to take another look at some 250 previously rejected cases.

    Then, last Friday, Fowler received a call from the WSIB and was told that, yet again, his case wouldn’t be re-examined — because it has been denied in the past.

    “I was so upset I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat,” said the 71-year-old, bursting into tears several times while he spoke, adding he immediately reached out to his MPP but hasn’t heard back.

    “I don’t know where I’m at or what’s going on.”

    “It’s hell” for the hundreds of workers who believe they developed cancer and other illnesses from working at the plant, and whose claims for compensation were dismissed by the WSIB — often despite strong medical evidence — and who are left waiting for reconsideration of their cases, he added.

    Another 70-plus new cases are now also in limbo.

    Fowler, who has had a number of surgeries and now suffers from recurring hernias, was among a small group who came to Queen’s Park on Wednesday to urge the government to take action.

    The labour ministry had promised $2 million in funding for a special, locally based team to help and support workers to build their claims, which they were later told was going to be cut to $1 million. In any event, the money still hasn’t materialized.

    “We are here to demand the government quit breaking its promises,” said NDP MPP Cindy Forster (Welland), her party’s labour critic. “It has made a number of promises to this group of workers, their families and their widows this year. Since March, they have been promised that cases were going to be reviewed and that there was going to be funding” available to help prepare them.

    A 2016 Star investigation uncovered the “lethal legacy” of the plant. Then, earlier this year, a study by Unifor, the employees’ union, found that conditions in the GE plant contributed to an “epidemic” of workplace illnesses for those who were employed between 1945 and 2000.

    The Peterborough employees, the report found, were exposed to thousands of toxic substances— about 40 of them believed to cause cancer — at levels well beyond what is safe.

    Aaron Lazarus, WSIB’s vice-president of communications, said since 1993, about 80 per cent of the 2,400 claims regarding GE Peterborough were allowed. Critics however have raised concerns that the number of approved cancer claims is much lower.

    Given updated information and new science on the risks of exposure, “we have responded to community concerns by launching a review of more than 250 claims,” Lazarus said, adding he anticipates all cancer-related claims will be reviewed by early 2018.

    “We are also encouraging anyone who believes they became ill because of their workplace but does not have a claim with us to file one.”

    “If you look at the history of this, you’ve got a population of people that worked at GE that were exposed to chemicals in a way they simply should not have been,” Minister of Labour Kevin Flynn told the Star Wednesday.

    “They were let down by the health and safety associations that were supposed to help them, by the clinics that were supposed to help them, by their own trade union, by their employer and perhaps by the WSIB at the time.

    “What I’ve tried to do is put in place a process that is going to deal with a majority of the outstanding claims — to deal with about 250 claims that I think we can get to very, very quickly and get the justice that these people deserve.”

    Last month, the WSIB said a review team would look at both cancer and non-cancer related claims. The agency also said it would look at claims from widows, widowers and children of former workers who died without realizing their deaths may have been linked to a workplace illness.

    Flynn said a number of the 250 cases have been processed and benefits paid, and “we are closely monitoring this process to ensure that there is continued progress.”

    He said money for a special team to help workers prepare claims for the WSIB is still being reviewed.

    Some in the community are skeptical about the WSIB handling claims fairly, when it was the very body that denied workers in the first place.

    However, Flynn said the WSIB “is an autonomous agency of the government. Only it can determine the process whereby workers’ benefits will be determined. We do continue to look at other methods of adjudicating claims more efficiently and fairly.”

    The plant has employed tens of thousands of workers over its 125-year history in Peterborough, and their health and safety has always been the company’s “No. 1 priority,” GE has said.

    The plant, which is slated to close, produced appliances, nuclear reactor fuel cells and locomotive engines.

    Forster said the minister has made commitments, and must follow through.

    “You have raised the hopes of all of these people who are ill, and all of these people who are worried about becoming ill, and not taking any action on it in a seven-month period of time” is despicable, she said.

    “Nobody’s listening — that’s the hardest part for us to take in our little tight-knit community,” added Sue James, whose father worked at GE for 36 years, and she herself for 40. Her father died of lung and spinal cancer.

    She said families have been pleading with different governments for years.

    Her hope is that Flynn will allow automatic compensation for any claims from workers who were employed between 1945 to 2000, as he has said he’s considering.

    ‘It’s hell’: Ailing GE Peterborough workers still waiting for justice, group says‘It’s hell’: Ailing GE Peterborough workers still waiting for justice, group says

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    MONTREAL—Gilbert Rozon, the impresario behind Montreal’s world-famous Just for Laughs Festival, has quit the entertainment company over unspecified allegations of abuse.

    He made the announcement on his Facebook page Wednesday evening, adding that he was also resigning as commissioner of the organizing committee of Montreal’s 375th anniversary celebrations and vice president of the Montreal Chamber of Commerce.

    “I am resigning out of respect for the employees and the families that work for these organizations as well as all our partners. I certainly don’t want to overshadow their activities,” Rozon wrote in what he titled an official declaration.

    “Shaken by the allegations against me, I want to dedicate all my time to review the matter. To all those who I may have offended in my life, I’m sincerely sorry.”

    Le Devoir reported interviewing nine women about their alleged experiences of harassment, abuse and sexual assault at Rozon’s hands over the last three decades.

    One woman reported that in June 2016 she awoke following an evening of drinking to find Rozon having sex with her against her will, something that Rozon himself later disputed in an email exchange.

    “I froze, I pushed him away, slammed the door and went into another room,” said Geneviève Allard. Later, Rozon allegedly remarked that both of them had cheated on their partners.

    Allard filed a formal complaint with the police last December, the newspaper reported.

    Read more:

    Quebec television personality Eric Salvail taking ‘pause’ after reports of sexual misconduct

    Weinstein scandal will accelerate Oscar housecleaning: Howell

    Actually, Woody Allen, a witch hunt is exactly what Hollywood needs: Menon

    Among the other alleged victims was a well-known actress, Salomé Corbo, who said she was 14 years old in 1990 when an intoxicated Rozon slipped his hands into her underwear and digitally penetrated her during a party

    The TVA network reported that Montreal police had launched an investigation into a complaint of sexual assault that allegedly occurred in Paris in 1994. The woman was reportedly among a group of Rozon’s alleged victims who came together Tuesday in Montreal to discuss their ordeals.

    The network also reported that another young woman, aged 20 when she worked for the Just for Laughs festival in 2010, had her backside slapped by Rozon as a means of congratulations and was told on another occasion: “Your breasts look great in that dress.”

    Another woman, Marlène Bolduc, wrote on Twitter Wednesday that she worked for Rozon’s festival in the summer of 2016 as a rickshaw driver and ended up one night pulling Rozon home along with a group of his friends.

    Rozon allegedly commented during the ride on her “beautiful arched back” and remarked: “Those thighs have got to be pretty firm.” She said he also used his scarf to whip her as if he was riding a horse-drawn carriage.

    “It’s not insignificant. It’s sexual harassment. Gilbert Rozon, my body belongs to me. You cannot take ownership of it, sexualize me and humiliate me,” Bolduc wrote. “You reduced me to an object. You terrified me to the point that I was frozen.

    Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said in a statement that he was disappointed to learn of the “serious allegations of sexual misconduct.”

    “I totally support all the men and women who decide to express themselves concerning the abuse they have suffered. We have to protect the victims.”

    Rozon pleaded guilty in 1998 to fondling a 19-year-old woman. He said the incident pushed him into therapy and reflection on the transgressions so often committed by powerful people.

    “I looked at politicians here and abroad, like Bill Clinton, and I asked myself, “Does power go with the obligation to seduce and conquer?” he told an interviewer in 2011.

    Rozon received a $1,100 fine and one year of probation, according to published reports.

    In 1999, he was granted an unconditional discharge after a judge ruled that having a criminal record for sexual assault might prevent Rozon from travelling internationally, affect his business and hamper Montreal’s economy, the CBC reported at the time.

    Rozon had also been charged with unlawful confinement involving a 31-year-old woman, but the charge was withdrawn by police due to lack of evidence.

    A Quebec actor, Guillaume Wagner, brought the concerns surrounding Rozon to light Wednesday when he wrote on Facebook: “I won’t work for Just for Laugh so long as an agressor is the boss.”

    Wagner added that he was aware of Rozon’s past brush with the law and thought he had reformed.

    “Then I heard stories. And then others. And recent ones. It’s starting to come out. It will continue to come out,” he wrote. “When men break lives, the least we can do is to break the silence.”

    Rozon’s resignation was the second bombshell to shake Quebec’s entertainment world Wednesday.

    Earlier in the day, television host and producer Eric Salvail was alleged to have engaged in inappropriate sexual behaviour, which resulted in the talk show and radio show he hosts being suspended.

    Montreal’s La Presse newspaper reported having collected the testimony of 11 people Salvail is alleged to have sexually harassed, improperly touched or to have shown his penis.

    One of Eric Salvail’s alleged victims, Marco Berardini, said in an interview that he has been inundated with messages of support and inquiries from others who have had encounters with the host and producer since coming forward with the story of his alleged abuse, which dates back to 2003.

    “There’s no satisfaction in this,” Berardini said by telephone from Los Angeles. “I wish that there was and maybe there will be but for now it’s just sad.”

    “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 claims.

    Salvail’s lawyer, Jacques Jeansonne, refused to comment on the allegations, shortly before Salvail himself addressed the matter on his Facebook page Wednesday.

    “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.

    Just For Laughs founder Gilbert Rozon resigns over abuse allegationsJust For Laughs founder Gilbert Rozon resigns over abuse allegations

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    Political power and electrical power have one thing in common: They follow the path of least resistance.

    Watch out for watchdogs who don’t like being watched: CohnWatch out for watchdogs who don’t like being watched: Cohn

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    “We don’t need Tasers. We need de-escalation,” Toronto lawyer argues during public meeting on greater deployment of devices among city’s officers.

    Critics question Toronto police push for more TasersCritics question Toronto police push for more Tasers

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    “Shaken by the allegations against me, I want to dedicate all my time to review the matter. To all those who I may have offended in my life, I'm sincerely sorry,” wrote the man behind Montreal's famous comedy festival after several women came forward with allegations of sexual assault and harassment.

    Just For Laughs founder Gilbert Rozon resigns over abuse allegationsJust For Laughs founder Gilbert Rozon resigns over abuse allegations

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    The plan announced Thursday includes a “cyber hygiene guide” for MPs and political parties that outlines best practices for guarding against malicious hackers.

    Facebook’s Canadian ‘election integrity’ plan puts much of the responsibility on political playersFacebook’s Canadian ‘election integrity’ plan puts much of the responsibility on political players

    0 0

    Taquisha McKitty’s family wants the death certificate revoked and a 72-hour video recording of her made, a request which would apparently violate the hospital’s patient privacy guidelines and institutional policy.

    Brampton woman on life support is moving, is bleeding, but is dead, doctors say. Her family fights on: DiMannoBrampton woman on life support is moving, is bleeding, but is dead, doctors say. Her family fights on: DiManno

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    Ride-hailing services may offer free snacks and other perks, but they can’t match a veteran cabbie’s knowledge of the roads, Emma Teitel writes.

    Why I like taxis better than Uber: TeitelWhy I like taxis better than Uber: Teitel

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    Nisa Homes is the GTA’s first transitional shelter specifically geared to serving Muslim women.

    Nisa Homes provides a safe haven for Muslim women in needNisa Homes provides a safe haven for Muslim women in need

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    GE Peterborough employees say ministry of labour made promises it hasn’t kept and “it’s hell” for the hundreds of workers who believe they developed cancer and other illnesses from working at the plant.

    ‘It’s hell’: Ailing GE Peterborough workers still waiting for justice, group says‘It’s hell’: Ailing GE Peterborough workers still waiting for justice, group says

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