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    The U.S. may have the “worst president” it’s ever had, but feminist icon Gloria Steinem says she has seen progress in her fight for equality.

    It was clear, though, throughout Steinem’s speech to an almost full house at the University of Toronto’s Convocation Hall that the work of challenging hierarchy is far from over.

    Slavery may have been abolished in the U.S., she said, but the racism that fuelled it hasn’t been addressed. “We have not done what seems to have been done in Germany, which is that every classroom, including very young kids, learn about the Holocaust and what that meant. They learn about the past. We don’t, not really.”

    Now in her 80s, Steinem has spent decades advocating for women’s rights and issues of equality around the world.

    Earlier in the day, she shared her experience with more than 600 students in Grades 7 to 12 at Toronto’s Branksome Hall, an all-girls private school, as part of its annual Rachel Phillips Belash speaker series, which features renowned women. Last year, Arianna Huffington addressed the students.

    This was the first year the school organized a complementary evening event open to the public.

    Throughout the evening, Steinem answered questions from both the audience and moderator Amanda Lang, a business journalist with Business News Network, entertaining and no doubt inspiring a rapt audience with her insights and dry sense of humour.

    Asked at one point what she thinks about the notion that women can have it all, Steinem said, “You can’t have it all if you have to do it all.”

    The structure of work is still set up for households with a sole male earner with someone at home cooking the meals, she said. “It’s not human nature to live in the hierarchical way we do,” she said.

    One solution is to give economic value to work in the home through tax deductions or refunds.

    For Grade 11 student Charley LaFayette, Steinem’s morning speech at Branksome Hall was “inspiring.”

    “I was mesmerized, it was phenomenal to see her speak. We were all so inspired,” she said. “It makes you feel like you need to do more.”

    The students were able to ask Steinem questions and LaFayette, who is a co-leader of the school’s gender studies club, asked about the effect U.S. President Donald Trump has had on women’s rights.

    Steinem, LaFayette said, told them that seeing someone who’s so against women’s rights has ignited a fire in both men and women and pushed them to start advocating for their rights.

    In that way, the movement has been strengthened, despite some concerning new bills, LaFayette said, recounting Steinem’s response to her question.

    “I really liked that answer,” she said, commenting on the optimistic way Steinem approaches her advocacy.

    “She’s very tenacious in the way that she fights for rights and the way that she advocates for women, but it’s also a very positive,” LaFayette said.

    ‘You can’t have it all if you have to do it all’: Gloria Steinem in Toronto speech‘You can’t have it all if you have to do it all’: Gloria Steinem in Toronto speech

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    Despite a dramatic year-over-year drop in sales volumes of newly constructed home in July, prices in the Toronto region rose, with the industry association saying it expects a record year.

    There were 85 per cent fewer single-family homes sold in July compared to the same month last year, according to the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).

    But the cost of a detached, semi-detached or townhouse averaged about $1.32 million, a 45 per cent year-over-year increase.

    Condos, which accounted for 92 per cent of new home sales in July, also rose in price by 40 per cent to an average of $665,041.

    The cost per square foot of an apartment or stacked townhome averaged $764, up from $594 last July.

    Condos also got bigger, averaging 871 sq. ft., compared to 801 sq. ft. a year ago.

    While the number of condos sold was down 35 per cent year over year, the year-to-date sales volume has actually increased 51 per cent and is double the 10-year sales average as more consumers look to condos as an affordable way to get into the housing market.

    That's a stark contrast to the 50 per cent year-to-date decline in new single-family home sales, said BILD vice-president of communications Michelle Noble.

    But she cautioned against reading too much into the year-over-year July dip.

    “June sales were exceptionally strong and 2017 is on pace to be a record year for the sale of new homes, driven primarily by the sale of condo apartments in high-rise and mid-rise buildings and stacked townhomes,” she said.

    “New home sales are largely driven by what product is available for buyers to purchase. We have an ongoing problem with builders being able to bring product to market in the GTA due to issues such as lack of developable land that is serviced and approved," said Noble.

    She said it is normal for fewer developments to hit the market in July. Developers typically target the fall.

    There were 7,801 new homes on the market last month, a record low, that is down from 16,900 units last year and 28,358 10 years ago.

    The new home market compares to the re-sale housing sector, which has seen month-to-month price drops since an April peak. The year-over-year price increase in July re-sale homes was 5 per cent with the average re-sale home costing $746,216.

    New home sales in GTA plunge, prices soar in JulyNew home sales in GTA plunge, prices soar in July

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    Drew Doughty will probably not be a Toronto Maple Leaf during the tail end of his considerable prime, which may be a shame. Doughty jumbled up some words in a summer radio interview and said all Southern Ontario boys secretly want to play for the Leafs, and this got people excited because he is a free agent in 2019 and he is the sort of prime-time No. 1 defenceman a contending Leafs team could use.

    I mean, ask Drew Doughty.

    “To be honest, I never ever watch them play, but I see the highlights and whatnot, and you see that they’re in games where it’s 6-4 or 6-3, so they’re giving up over three goals a game, it seems like to me,” said the 27-year-old Doughty before his Los Angeles Kings lost 3-2 to the Leafs Monday night. “I don’t know if that’s the truth.”

    Read more:

    Leafs, Andersen hand Kings first regulation loss

    Roman Polak, Brooks Laich are comeback codgers

    There's no panic with Leafs over Mitch Marner's slow start

    Well, before Frederik Andersen made 36 saves and the Leafs held off a comeback, he was right. Doughty’s sense of the Leafs might have been as hazy as L.A. on a summer day, but they were at 3.50 goals against before Monday night. The Kings came in as the old champs resurrected, having allowed the fewest goals in the NHL while scoring lots. The Leafs came in as the prodigies, leading the league in goals, but trying to find a 200-foot game.

    They found something like it, in the end, after all the weird stuff. There was Toronto’s first goal, which came from Roman Polak — raised from the broken-legged dead, in his first game back — and Matt Martin, who later wiped out his best chance at a Gordie Howe hat trick by sliding into Kings goalie Jonathan Quick. There was the farce of Quick getting cuffed in the head and skating to and from the bench, never undergoing a concussion protocol, towards the end of the first period. He missed one shift.

    There were video reviews and a Mitch Marner rodeo goal that was disallowed and some good goaltending for the Leafs, for once. And when it was all sorted, after everything, the Leafs had a 3-2 victory, and it was earned. It was L.A.’s first loss in regulation in eight games.

    “I think we were good at keeping them to the outside,” Andersen said. “I thought we got better and better as the game went on.”

    “As the game went on, we got better,” Leafs coach Mike Babcock said.

    “It feels good to beat a good team,” defenceman Morgan Rielly added.

    The Kings qualify. After coach Darryl Sutter’s honest but glum steamrolling system finally wore out, new coach John Stevens is giving the Kings a little more room to run, and they love it. Centre Anze Kopitar said the winning was the most fun part, but more offensive freedom got the juices flowing. Doughty said “this is the most fun I’ve had playing hockey since we won the Stanley Cup three, four years ago. We’re just having the time of our lives right now, but that all stops when we start losing.”

    They are big and fast and structurally rigorous, and they attack the other way with speed, and the Leafs were taken aback early. But they figured it out. Even Marner was loose and happy-looking for the first time in a while. As he said, “I just calmed down. I realized I was just throwing away the puck, and . . . I need to be more confident with the puck.”

    “No one needs Mitch to be a star more than me,” Babcock said. “But also, you’ve got to earn your right to be a star. You’ve got to be what you’re capable of. He knows we’re all pulling for him too, and he wants to be great.”

    While the Kings cut Toronto’s lead to 3-2 with just under eight minutes left, they didn’t crumple, and Andersen held fast. He needed that, too. As much as anything, this was what these Leafs look like with goaltending. Andersen came in with an .892 save percentage.

    When he’s good, this is a different team. When Marner plays with electricity, this is a different team. Hell, when Martin isn’t a liability, this is a different team. And more than anything, when they get just enough defensive discipline, enough cohesion, and enough goaltending, this is a different team. The two years the Kings won the Cup, they finished 29th and 26th in scoring. The Leafs were fifth last year and are first this season, by a lot. The Leafs won’t ever be L.A., old or new, but with some tightening and goaltending, they could be a Pittsburgh. Again, the Penguins allowed five more goals than Toronto last season, but led the league in scoring.

    However Toronto tries to do it, they probably won’t do it with Doughty. The team has searched for a No. 1 defenceman, but Doughty laid it all out: The Kings were his childhood team once they got Gretzky, he loves L.A., he loves his teammates, the staff, the organization. He said he wants to play in L.A. his whole career.

    “I think you just get to a comfort level and you’re just used to being in that city and everything about it,” said Doughty, on why hockey players tend not to leave. “That’s why we don’t want to leave. And we want to show that loyalty.”

    Of course, he also added, “but you never know what could happen.”

    He was asked if he was surprised former Shark Patrick Marleau, his old rival, left San Jose, and he said, “Maybe he saw a bright future in this team, kind of like everyone else around the league is seeing. And he wants to win a Cup. That’s probably why he left.”

    Yeah. Drew Doughty probably won’t ever play for Toronto. In that way, he’d be the same as Gretzky, as Stamkos, as all the other Ontario boys who never came home to the Leafs. The difference this time is you can imagine a world where they don’t need him to.

    Kings, Leafs coming from different ends to same goal: ArthurKings, Leafs coming from different ends to same goal: Arthur

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    Here’s a little story:

    A kicks and punches B.

    B fight backs but is silenced through fair means and foul.

    B’s friend C roars in defence of B.

    That’s rude, cries A. Punish C.

    Think that’s fair?

    Who holds A accountable?

    I’d wager that kids in Grade 3 would have a pretty clear idea of where they would stand on this. But Dalhousie University in Halifax wrestled with it and found C’s words merited disciplinary review.

    Masuma Khan, the vice-president of the student council executive at Dalhousie, the activist who had led thousands in the streets to protest against high tuition fees, and who identifies more with Malcolm X than Martin Luther King, will face a disciplinary committee come November or December.

    The review comes over a now-deleted Facebook post in which she defended her motion to the students’ union to not celebrate Canada 150. She said she would not stand with “privileged white people,” or be proud of a country that is responsible for “over 400 years of genocide” and “the stealing of land.” For good measure she added the hashtags #unlearn150, #whitefragilitycankissmyass and #yourwhitetearsarentsacredthislandis.

    Unlearn 150. White fragility can kiss my ass. Your white tears aren’t sacred. This land is.

    Fierce words. Fighting words. Challenging words.

    Words worth censoring?

    A university investigation concluded that there was enough evidence for a committee to review Khan related to “unwelcome or persistent conduct that … would cause another person to feel demeaned, intimidated or harassed.”

    On Monday, statements of support poured in for Khan.

    “While our constitutional order offers protection to many kinds of speech, none is more valued and protected than political speech,” a group of 25 law professors from Dalhousie’s own Schulich School of Law wrote in a letter to the university’s senate.

    “Expression which challenges majoritarian views, traditions, and practices that have caused harms to marginalized and oppressed minorities lies at the very core of Canada’s constitutional commitment to the protection of political speech,” they wrote.

    “We write this letter to ask that Dalhousie University repeal its policies that use student discipline to suppress the freedom of expression of its students,” the Ontario Civil Liberties Association wrote in another letter to Dalhousie.

    “The irony in this situation – where a university that proclaims to value academic freedom and free speech penalizes a student for openly challenging oppressive power structures – would be laughable were it not deeply worrisome,” said the political organization Solidarity Halifax.

    If free speech is so vaunted in Canadian social and legal consciousness, why did Khan’s words cause anger in the first place? To my mind, it’s because Khan mentioned “white” in a not-complimentary way. And because her response didn’t cater to how white people felt about this.

    If you don’t know what “white fragility” means, the reaction to Khan’s statement is the definition of it. One of the triggers of fragility is when people of colour choose not to protect the racial feelings of white people when talking about race.

    The term “white fragility,” was coined by Robin DiAngelo, who taught multicultural education at Westfield State University in Massachusetts.

    White people move through a racialized world with an unracialized identity, she says. For example, white people see themselves as representing all of humanity, while they see people of colour as representing only their racial selves. This is why suggesting that a white person’s viewpoint comes from a racialized identity is seen as a challenge to their objectivity. These challenges are highly stressful and even intolerable, DiAngelo says. “White fragility,” then, is white pushback to regain racial position and equilibrium.

    How did this fragility unfold in the Dalhousie case?

    Khan’s initial motion last summer for students to not celebrate Canada Day was more a symbol of solidarity than an actual boycott given that it fell over the holidays. But it upset the good members of Nova Scotia Young Progressive Conservatives.

    “The Dalhousie Student Union should be helping instill pride in our country, not boycott it on our most significant national holiday,” the group said in a Facebook post. From an Indigenous perspective, Canada 150 celebrations are part of an ongoing colonial legacy, but perhaps this isn’t visible to those who have not learned history from multiple lenses.

    Khan responded, not with “love and courage,” but with rage. “At this point, f*** you all,” she said in her Facebook post before she unleashed her hashtags. “I stand by the motion I put forward.”

    A white graduate history student named Michael Smith complained to the university that “targeting ‘white people’ who celebrate Canada Day is blatant discrimination.”

    Arig al Shaibah, the vice-provost for student affairs, investigated and found that Khan’s “choice of language” was concerning but that she did not target a specific group. Challenging “white fragility” is not the issue, she said in a statement Monday.

    Does that mean using the f-word was the problem? And if it wasn’t Khan’s words, was it her tone? Is anyone policing the tone and content of the abuse being hurled at Khan?

    “People might say it wasn’t an appropriate response. You have to understand I deal with Islamophobia on the daily,” she told the Canadian Press. “I’m the one that gets called a terrorist when I walk down the street.”

    Khan was told she could attend training sessions on coalition-building and write a reflective essay on her learnings. She refused, and will now face a disciplinary hearing.

    “Suggesting I should take some training about how to talk about racism, that’s incredibly invalidating,” she said.

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

    Why did Masuma Khan’s post invite censure from Dalhousie if free speech is so vaunted?: ParadkarWhy did Masuma Khan’s post invite censure from Dalhousie if free speech is so vaunted?: Paradkar

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    OTTAWA—Blind dates are by definition risky, with so many looming questions, but a new TV show promises to raise the stakes even higher by hooking up opposing politicians who already disagree on a big public issue.

    Political Blind Date debuts Nov. 7 at 9 p.m. on TVO and . The six-episode first season features politicians from all levels of government who take each other on outings in an effort to bolster their perspective on a given issue.

    The first episode matches Conservative MP Garnett Genuis and Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, who travel to a weed dispensary and an industrial marijuana factory as they continuously bicker about the Trudeau government’s plan to legalize the drug.

    Other episodes include the likes of Toronto mayoral candidate Doug Ford, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, Liberal MP Adam Vaughan, NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo and Toronto city councillor Giorgio Mammoliti.

    Aside from weed legalization, the show tackles meaty subjects like safe injection sites, transit, public housing and the prison system.

    The show is a co-production between Open Door Co. and Nomad Films. Executive producer and creator Tom Powers, of Open Door, said the inspiration for the show came from a series in British newspaper the Guardian, during that country’s 2015 election.

    Powers joined Mark Johnston and Amanda Handy from Nomad Films, and then signed on with the Toronto Star and TVO as partners for the series.

    “The challenge was to take that kernel of an idea and to build a television show around it,” Powers said.

    He added that the goal of the show is to knock politicians off their prepared scripts and to get them to grapple with issues in more honest ways. The producers also wanted to see if the “dates” could uncover common ground, and chip away at the impression, possibly gleaned from heated debates on Parliament Hill, that politicians of different partisan stripes don’t get along.

    “God forbid that they actually like each other,” Powers said with a laugh.

    “I don’t know whether it’s a naïve goal of ours, but it’s something that I think, when the show works at its best, that’s what happens.”

    Johnston, who directed the show, said he was particularly struck by how Singh and Ford connected. Their episode focuses on public transit, and includes a scene where Singh, an avid cyclist, attempts to get Ford, known for driving a super-sized SUV, to go on a bike ride through downtown streets.

    “I guess I would call it a wonderful surprise; the surprise I was hoping for,” Johnston said.

    Call it Tinder for policymakers: a new TV show sends Canadian politicians on blind ‘dates’ and sparks fly…over issuesCall it Tinder for policymakers: a new TV show sends Canadian politicians on blind ‘dates’ and sparks fly…over issues

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    Ontario will spend $21 million over three years on student transportation and other education support to boost outcomes for children and youth in foster care and group homes.

    The money will help school boards pay for busing so kids in the care won’t have to switch schools when they move. It will also help children’s aid societies hire educational liaison staff to develop education plans and co-ordinate school and community supports to ensure these vulnerable children and youth reach their full potential.

    “This funding will bring stability to students at a critical time that will enable them to focus on their education,” Education Minister Mitzie Hunter said in a statement Monday.

    “Students will also be able to maintain important relationships in school with friends, staff and educators, from Kindergarten to Grade 12 and beyond,” she said.

    Read more:

    Ontario’s most vulnerable children kept in the shadows

    School fundraising report says amounts raised far outpace government grants for needy areas

    Annie Kidder and People for Education have made a mark on Ontario schools, but have they become part of the system?

    The initiative, announced in Hamilton by Hunter and Children and Youth Services Minister Michael Coteau, comes three years after an ongoing Star investigation showed more than half of the province’s Crown wards had three or more unplanned school moves.

    Child welfare experts have pointed to such moves as among the factors behind the troubling high-school dropout rate for youth in care which has been stuck at over 50 per cent for more than a decade. Meanwhile, fewer than 14 per cent of Ontario high school students fail to graduate after five years, a figure that has dropped from 32 per cent since 2004.

    Former Crown ward Jane Kovarikova, 33, welcomed the change, as long as children have the choice.

    “I think it would help a lot of children who are socially integrated into their schools,” said Kovarikova, who attended four elementary schools and another five high schools, due to numerous moves in the foster care system.

    Although she isn’t sure the policy would have made her childhood any easier, Kovarikova said her younger brother “would have loved to have had the option to stay in his school.”

    “Now what I wish I would see with this policy is a plan to evaluate if it actually does shift high school graduation rates up,” added Kovarikova, who has formed an advocacy group to push for evidence-based policy in child protection.

    The office of Ontario’s Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth said young people in care have been demanding this change for decades.

    “School can be a place of refuge for children and youth in care,” said Trevor McAlmont, director of advocacy services for the office. Changing schools not only disrupts their education, but causes them to lose important social supports, friends, teachers and community, he added.

    Provincial funding for school liaison is a signal to all children and youth in care, no matter where they are in their schooling, that we expect them, and will support them, to achieve their full potential, he added.

    A provincial commission in 2012 noted schools are under no obligation to enrol a child or youth in care mid-way through the term, and found students were sometimes out of class for weeks when they were forced to switch schools.

    A Brantford youth interviewed by the Star in 2014 said she wasn’t allowed to start a new school until she signed a paper “promising to be a good kid.”

    Missing school is another barrier. Annual, government-mandated “Looking After Children” surveys known as OnLAC reveal a significant number of absentee days are due to CAS-related work: 15 per cent for meetings with child-care workers, 6 per cent for access visits from biological parents and 4 per cent due to completing the OnLAC survey. Appointments with mental-health workers were responsible for another 15 per cent of days off school.

    New school liaison staff should reduce such school absences, a ministry spokesman said.

    The Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies (OACAS), which represents Ontario’s 38 societies, said Monday’s announcement addresses many long-standing concerns raised by the sector.

    “We hope that it will specifically address the disruptions children in care experience in their day-to-day school lives that are the result of simply being in care,” said Wendy Miller, senior manager of government and stakeholder relations, at OACAS.

    The government is working with Indigenous partners to provide culturally appropriate services to Indigenous children and youth in care that support their educational success.

    There are 38 children’s aid societies and 10 Indigenous societies in Ontario. In 2016-17, there was an average of almost 14,000 children and youth in care.

    Ontario pledges $21 million to support students in foster care, group homesOntario pledges $21 million to support students in foster care, group homes

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    Condo investors have backed away from the Toronto area in the wake of Ontario's new foreign buyers tax, but that hasn't halted construction of new homes in the region.

    Investor inquiries on the BuzzBuzzHome site dropped 52 per cent year over year in September and 42 per cent in the latest quarter compared to the same period in 2016, said a third-quarter report from the online development hub.

    But those inquiries had surged prior to the government's housing announcement in April, said BuzzBuzzHome.

    It reported there were about 168,000 new construction homes being planned or sold in the Toronto region in the third quarter — most in the condo sector — with only 36,295 single-family homes (detached, semi-detached and townhouses) available or in the pipeline.

    But, the report says, "rumours of the Great Toronto Housing Crash have been greatly exaggerated."

    "The GTA new construction market may need to undergo a slight price correction to accommodate the jitters caused by the (Ontario) Fair Housing plan," said the report.

    But research analyst Suleman Dawood said the company doesn't "see the calamitous crash happening that a lot of people foresaw."

    Despite a slowdown in sales and de-acceleration of prices following the government measures, the underlying housing market fundamentals remain strong with re-sale prices up 6 per cent in September, said Dawood.

    That was supported by 2 per cent population growth in the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) that month and low Toronto (CMA) unemployment at 6.5 per cent in August.

    Dawood said he expects a brisk fall market in single-family homes as buyers try to avoid the new mortgage stress tests that take effect in January that will make it harder to qualify for a loan.

    The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions announced last week that even applicants with a down payment of 20 per cent will have to qualify at a rate 2 per cent higher than the central bank's posted interest rate.

    But Dawood says single-family home buyers will likely back away from the market again in the New Year thanks to those tougher lending rules.

    "People will no longer be able to afford the bulk of the single-family inventory on the market," he said.

    He expects the high-rise market to be less affected.

    "Other than the luxury condominium market, most high-rise properties are still generally within reasonable affordability realm," said Dawood.

    BuzzBuzzHome shows that Peel Region had the most new construction single family homes on the market in the third quarter — 1,736 — compared to only 175 in the City of Toronto.

    The city continues, however, to dominate the condo market with 7,459 for sale in the third quarter and another 100,937 in the proposal stage.

    "Builder activity in Toronto is always going to be strong," he said. "(There is) lots of tech investment. There is always going to be lots of people interested in investing."

    New home sales in GTA slower but no crash in sight: ReportNew home sales in GTA slower but no crash in sight: Report

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    Under pressure from an activist investor to drive shareholder value using its vast real estate holdings, Hudson’s Bay Company announced Tuesday morning that it is selling its Lord & Taylor building on Fifth Avenue in New York City in a transaction valued more than $1 billion, according to the company.

    That is 30 per cent above the most recent appraised value, according to a press release from HBC.

    Read more: HBC under fire after CEO quits

    Hudson’s Bay under fire from investment firm after $201M loss in ‘very disappointing’ quarter

    The company also announced a $500 million (U.S.) equity investment in HBC by Rhône Capital and an agreement to lease space in retail stores to a company called WeWork, a global network of workspaces in buildings around the globe.

    The leasing arrangement with WeWork will begin with space in the Hudson’s Bay store on Queen Street in Toronto, the Hudson’s Bay store in downtown Vancouver and a Galeria Kaufhof in Frankfurt.

    According to a release from HBC, the transaction is expected to result in an aggregate of $1.6 billion of debt reduction and or incremental cash on the company’s balance sheet – and an increase in total liquidity of approximately $1.1 billion, according to a release from the company.

    On Monday, activist investor Land & Buildings threatened to call a shareholders meeting to possibly remove directors of the HBC board, following the announced departure Friday of chief executive officer Jerry Storch. Land & Buildings has been pressuring HBC to surface value in its real estate holdings.

    HBC to sell Fifth Avenue flagship Lord & Taylor store for more than $1 billionHBC to sell Fifth Avenue flagship Lord & Taylor store for more than $1 billion

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    WASHINGTON—An influx of new polling suggests Americans aren’t especially interested in turning back the clock on globalization — but do want policies that help American workers compete in the international-trade era.

    A massive survey released Tuesday by Pew Research provides a glimpse into the American psyche as the president threatens to scrap trade deals, including the 23-year-old NAFTA agreement.

    The 5,000-person triennial survey breaks American voters down into nine types: four brands of conservative, four types of liberal and one category of bystanders with little interest in politics.

    It examines their views on a variety of issues and illustrates how the most active partisans tend to have the most extreme politics, giving small subsets of the population the opportunity to dominate large political parties.

    Read more: Trudeau, Trump governments trade criticism as NAFTA talks falter

    Canada’s once-in-a-lifetime chance to end NAFTA’s pro-corporate trade tribunal

    Thousands of Canadians live in the U.S. on NAFTA permits. So what happens if Trump kills the treaty?

    A rare topic that unites the staunchest conservative and liberal ideologues might be of interest to the Canadians, Mexicans, and Americans following the NAFTA drama: continuing global trade.

    When Americans are given a choice between the bring-back-old-jobs message commonly heard in Donald Trump’s Washington versus an economy where American workers are trained to succeed in a globalized future, it’s no contest.

    The latter wins in a slam-dunk.

    “Bring back jobs that match current skills,” got a mere 16 per cent support versus, 81 per cent for, “Train in skills needed for jobs in demand,” — and that pattern held up through all categories, including the group called, “Country First Conservatives,” the archetypal Trump supporters, who favoured the retraining message over the bring-back-jobs message by 62 per cent to 30 per cent.

    The pattern continued in a question about participation in the global economy.

    Just 29 per cent said they supported a statement that such participation is a, “bad thing because it lowers wages and costs jobs,” versus 65 per cent who said it’s a, “good thing because it provides the U.S. with new markets and opportunities for growth.” On this question, Country First Conservatives were alone as the only one of nine categories to call it a bad thing (45 to 39), easily outnumbered by other types of conservatives and liberals.

    This poll’s findings match other new polling.

    A study by the University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation released last week found very narrow support for NAFTA: 51 per cent said it’s been good, mainly Democrats, and 46 per cent said it’s bad, mostly Republicans.

    But it found some consensus on a path forward.

    Asked whether they favour free trade, combined with programs to help affected workers; favour free trade, without new support programs for workers; or oppose free trade, 77 per cent fell into the two pro-trade categories. Only 22 per cent said they opposed free trade.

    In addition, more than three-quarters supported adding new labour and environmental standards to trade agreements to remove unfair advantages that sway investment away from the United States.

    Only 38 per cent wanted to slow down or reverse international trade — but Republicans were split down the middle, at 50 per cent. That split has played out within the Trump cabinet, amid searing debates over what to do with NAFTA.

    Donald Trump’s UN ambassador has just made clear which side she’s on.

    Nikki Haley said when she was South Carolina governor people were overjoyed to have five international tire companies and three international auto companies in her state, saying, “Everyone wins,” from those partnerships.

    “I don’t see us tearing up any deals. If that was the case we would have done it already,” she told a discussion at the George W. Bush Institute, when NAFTA came up.

    “There’s nothing wrong with going back and looking at them. There’s nothing wrong with seeing if we can make them better.”

    That pro-trade wing of the GOP is extremely powerful, the Pew numbers suggest.

    The most politically engaged group of party supporters, and the most numerous, is what Pew calls “Core Conservative” — richer, more educated, ideological people whose opinions run closer to Haley’s. More than two-thirds of people in this group called global trade a good thing, versus barely one-third of people in the Country First category.

    And this group carries disproportionate weight, according to Pew: Core Conservatives represent just 13 per cent of the public, but make up about 31 per cent of all Republicans, and 43 per cent of all politically engaged Republicans, singlehandedly swaying debates like climate change, where their view becomes the party view.

    A third new survey also finds big support for worker-friendly trade policies.

    Veteran Democrat pollster Stan Greenberg wrote a memo last week urging his party to get more involved in the NAFTA debate. His Democracy Corps polled 1,000 respondents and found the most convincing argument for changing NAFTA was that American workers are losing because it lacks enforceable labour and environmental standards, so companies shift jobs to low-cost Mexico.

    Greenberg wrote: “Over 80 per cent of Trump voters and over 60 per cent of Clinton voters found that a convincing argument against the current NAFTA. But new terms to remedy this do not appear to be at the top of the Trump trade agenda.”

    New polls suggest Americans are not anti-trade, but want help adjusting to globalizationNew polls suggest Americans are not anti-trade, but want help adjusting to globalization

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    A 60-year-old Toronto man has been charged with manslaughter in the death of an 82-year-old woman in the Christie Pitts area last week.

    Toronto police said, in a press release, that officers were called to the Shaw St. and Dupont St. area on Oct. 17 after a man reportedly assaulted the 82-year-old, as well as a 68-year-old woman.

    The 82-year-old woman was taken to hospital, police said. She died of her injuries on Friday.

    Police later identified her as Elsa Paolitto of Toronto.

    William Macciacchera is facing a single count of manslaughter.

    He appeared at the Old City Hall courthouse on Monday.

    Man, 60, charged after Christie Pitts attackMan, 60, charged after Christie Pitts attack

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    MONTREAL—Quebec’s controversial religious neutrality law would require Muslim women to show their veiled faces briefly and only when interacting directly with employees to access public services, the province’s justice minister said Tuesday.

    Stéphanie Vallée took the unusual step of explaining how the law would be applied in response to the confusion and widespread condemnation that has reigned since the government bill was adopted last week in the Quebec legislature.

    She said veiled individuals would have to remove their niqab — a religious face covering with only two eye holes — when verification of photo identification by a government agent is required to access public transport, to check out library books, or to register at a medical clinic or hospital.

    Read more: Quebec women who wear niqab worry about how Bill 62 will affect daily life

    Quebec’s face veil ban may face a Supreme Court challenge

    But those people will be free to cover their faces once they have taken their seat on the bus, while browsing the bookshelves or while sitting in the waiting room for their doctor’s appointment, Vallée said.

    “It’s the interaction that’s important,” she said.

    The provincial law came about a decade after Quebecers began debating the place of religion in society. Several pieces of legislation have proposed solutions over the years, including setting limits on demands for religious-based exemptions from normal rules or procedures and a proposed ban on public servants wearing religious symbols at work.

    Later Tuesday, the Quebec legislature was to face a motion from the left-wing party Québec Solidaire, that urges the removal of a crucifix that is hung on the chamber where members of the National Assembly pass the religious neutrality law last week.

    “It becomes a bit contradictory for members of the National Assembly to reiterate their support for secularism, to reiterate their support for the religious neutrality of the state . . . all the while continuing to debate beneath a giant crucifix,” said Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, co-leader of the party.

    Legal experts and advocacy groups have already predicted that religious neutrality law will be challenged in the courts and ultimately overturned, but Vallée said the province has its own legal opinions that show they are acting within the bounds of the Quebec and Canadian charters of rights.

    She did apologize for the climate of fear that resulted in a public protest this weekend but said the religious neutrality law is in fact “a big step” for Quebec.

    “There is no existing declaration as clear as the one we’ve made that public services and interactions between agents of the state and the citizen must be done with an uncovered face.”

    The law also means that students in provincially-run schools, colleges and universities would be required to remove their face coverings in class to ease communication with the teacher; parents would be required to show their face when picking up their children from daycare in order to confirm their identity; and people seeking access to court services or testifying before a judge would be obliged to unveil for identification and communication purposes.

    If a person is using an electronic pass without any photo identification requirements to swipe their way onto a public bus or the Montreal subway, however, there would be no obligation to unveil.

    An individual can request an exemption from the law on religious grounds from the agency or institution providing the service, but the law says that request must be refused if it violates principles of safety, gender equality or if the burden of accommodating the request becomes too great for the public body.

    There are no fines or penalties for those who do not adhere to the law. Vallée said the province no plans to create a special force to ensure the rules are followed, nor any fear of conservative Muslim women being chased off of public transportation. They will simply be refused the service.

    “A person who refuses to meet the requirements to get onto a bus simply won’t be allowed on,” she said.

    Quebec justice minister explains how ‘niqab ban’ would be applied after widespread criticismQuebec justice minister explains how ‘niqab ban’ would be applied after widespread criticism

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    A man accused of murdering a young Toronto woman who vanished five years ago got into a testy exchange in court today with the woman’s former boyfriend.

    Dellen Millard, who is representing himself in the first-degree murder trial, cross-examined Shawn Lerner, frequently questioning his recollection of events that followed Laura Babcock’s disappearance.

    The Crown alleges Millard, 32, of Toronto, and Mark Smich, 30, of Oakville, Ont., murdered the 23-year-old woman in the summer of 2012 and burned her remains in an incinerator.

    Read more: Dreadful details come fast and furious on Day 1 of trial into Laura Babcock’s murder: DiManno

    Both have pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.

    Lerner has testified that he confronted Millard after Babcock went missing to ask about the woman’s final phone calls — all to Millard, according to phone records.

    Lerner has repeatedly said that although it’s been five years since he met Millard at a coffee shop in Mississauga, Ont., his memory of what he called “probably the most important meeting” of his life is clear.

    “Shawn, you don’t like me very much, do you?” Millard asked during his cross-examination.

    “No,” Lerner responded.

    “Do you find me sketchy?” Millard asked.

    “Yes,” Lerner said.

    Court has heard that Lerner spearheaded the search for the missing woman in the summer of 2012. He said he also filed a complaint about Toronto police “fumbling” the missing person’s case early on.

    He said he last heard from Babcock in a text on July 1, 2012, and says he filed a missing persons report with police two weeks after that text. The two broke up about six months before, but maintained a friendship.

    The Crown contends Babcock was killed at Millard’s home for being the odd woman out in a love triangle and her remains were burned a few weeks later in an incinerator at his farm near Waterloo, Ont.

    Millard spent much of his time testing Lerner’s memory, which focused on that meeting at a Starbucks in Mississauga, Ont.

    “I’m trying to get at your memory, your recollection, sir, you told us you have an average memory,” Millard said.

    “I’ve been very explicit about my memory, this was a long time ago, but this was probably the most important meeting of my life and there are things I can remember clearly — and I remember that clearly,” Lerner said.

    At that meeting, Millard denied having anything to do with Babcock’s disappearance and also denied he had a sexual relationship with Babcock.

    “I mentioned that she got into harder drugs, correct?” Millard asked.

    “You mentioned cocaine specifically,” Lerner said.

    “Did I tell you she was looking for a place to stay?” Millard asked.

    “Yes,” Lerner said.

    “Did I tell you that I refused arranging a place to stay for her,” Millard asked.

    “Yes,” Lerner responded.

    Lerner also told court that Babcock had been trying hard to find out what was wrong with her mental health, settling on a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder.

    He also said she told him she had begun working as an escort in the last month before her disappearance, which he said he didn’t approve.

    He also told court he paid for a hotel for two nights in late June 2012 as she had become transient and living with friends for short intervals.

    Babcock’s body has never been found.

    Dellen Millard got into a testy exchange in court with Laura Babcock’s ex-boyfriendDellen Millard got into a testy exchange in court with Laura Babcock’s ex-boyfriend

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    Ontario’s Early Years Centres are getting a rebranding — and 100 new locations.

    The province on Tuesday announced that it will be opening the new “EarlyON” sites over the next three years, and renaming existing sites, spending $140 million a year.

    Like the current Ontario Early Years parenting and literacy centres — which can be located in local schools — families will be able to access programs for young children and parenting supports.

    “Our new EarlyON centres will be innovative hubs for early years programs and services for families,” said Indira Naidoo-Harris, the minister responsible for early years and child care, in a written statement.

    “These family centres are part of our transformative plan to give all children the best possible start in life. They will be a vital resource for thousands of families and children in our communities.”

    Education Minister Mitzie Hunter called the centres a “one-stop shop, for parents and families, offering helpful information, programs and services — while supporting our vision for child care in Ontario and preparing our youngest learners for future success.”

    EarlyON Child and Family Centres will be the new name for early years centres, parenting and family literacy centres, child-care resource centres and “Better Beginnings, Better Futures,” all provincially funded initiatives.

    The early years centres, which target families with children from birth to age 6, were first opened 15 years ago. Programming is free of charge.

    Ontario’s Early Years Centres opening 100 new locations, will be rebranded Ontario’s Early Years Centres opening 100 new locations, will be rebrandedOntario’s Early Years Centres opening 100 new locations, will be rebranded Ontario’s Early Years Centres opening 100 new locations, will be rebranded

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    Air Canada and American aviation officials are investigating a flight from Montreal that landed at the San Francisco airport Sunday night despite being repeatedly told to abort the landing because air traffic control wasn’t sure if another plane had cleared the runway.

    It’s the second incident involving the airline at that same airport in the last three months.

    Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor told the Star in an email that the inbound Flight AC781 was initially cleared for landing — this instruction was acknowledged by the crew when they were approximately 10 kilometres away from the airport.

    But Gregor said air traffic control later instructed the Air Canada crew multiple times to abort the landing because the controller wasn’t sure whether a previous flight would have completely cleared the runway before the Air Canada jet reached it.

    He said the Air Canada crew did not acknowledge any of the controller’s instructions over the radio. A supervisor then used a red light gun to alert the crew not to land, and go around again.

    According to Gregor, flashing a light gun is standard protocol when an air crew is not responding to radio instructions.

    Despite this, Gregor said the flight landed at 9:26 p.m. local time.

    After landing, the Air Canada crew told the control tower that they had a radio problem, Gregor said.

    Gregor said that a radar replay showed the previous arrival was clear of the runway when the Air Canada flight landed.

    According to Peter Fitzpatrick, an Air Canada spokesperson, the flight proceeded to land normally after receiving proper clearance to do so.

    “Upon landing the crew was informed the tower had attempted unsuccessfully to contact the aircraft,” Fitzpatrick said in an email to the Star. “However the message was not received by the crew.”

    In July, at the same San Francisco International Airport, an Air Canada jet nearly landed on a taxiway where other planes were waiting to deport.

    With files from The Canadian Press

    American officials investigating runway mix-up involving another Air Canada planeAmerican officials investigating runway mix-up involving another Air Canada plane

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    WASHINGTON—The Republican chairpersons of two House committees announced Tuesday they’re opening an investigation into actions the Obama administration Justice Department took during last year’s presidential election.

    The chairpersons said in a statement Tuesday they have several questions, including why then-FBI director James Comey decided to publicly announce the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified information but not to publicly announce the investigation into Donald Trump’s campaign associates.

    Trump fired Comey in May. At first, the White House cited a harsh memo about Comey’s performance from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as the justification — though Trump later said he would have fired Comey regardless of what the Justice Department recommended.

    Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, chairperson of the Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, chairperson of the Oversight Committee, announced the probe. They described it as necessary to “better understand the reasoning behind how certain conclusions were drawn.”

    Other questions the Republican lawmakers said they want addressed revolve around the decision not to file criminal charges against Clinton. The lack of charges remains a lingering grievance for Trump, who for months has held it up as an example of a “rigged” criminal justice system that shielded his Democratic opponent from punishment for her use of a private server for government business.

    Comey said in July of last year that Clinton’s handling of classified information was “extremely careless” but the FBI would not recommend charges against her.

    The two chairpersons said they want to know more about the FBI’s timeline for charging decisions.

    “Congress has a constitutional duty to preserve the integrity of our justice system by ensuring transparency and accountability of actions taken,” Goodlatte and Gowdy said in a press release.

    Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia dismissed the move.

    “This is nothing more than a charade and distraction from the ongoing crisis in the White House. What about Russia? What about rampant conflicts of interest? This gives hypocrisy a bad name,” he said.

    House GOP leaders to probe the actions Obama’s Justice Department took in last year’s electionHouse GOP leaders to probe the actions Obama’s Justice Department took in last year’s election

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    The Ontario government has, for decades, turned a blind eye to “outrageous” pollution causing serious health effects in Indigenous communities, the province’s environment watchdog said Tuesday.

    In the annual report delivered to Queen’s Park, Ontario environmental commissioner Dianne Saxe recognized recent progress, but condemned years of inaction by the provincial government in the Aamjiwnaang First Nation in Sarnia’s Chemical Valley, and in mercury-contaminated Grassy Narrows in northwestern Ontario. Both have been subjects of investigations by journalists, including those of the Star.

    “The conditions faced by these Indigenous communities would not be tolerated elsewhere in Ontario, yet have long been deemed unworthy of priority, effort or expense,’ said Saxe. “After decades of neglect, the province is finally taking some steps, but the pollution that these communities still face is outrageous.”

    A joint 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 polluters within 25 kilometres of Sarnia registered with the Canadian and U.S. governments.

    The investigation raised questions about whether companies and the provincial government are properly warning residents of Sarnia and Aamjiwnaang when potentially toxic substances, including benzene, known to cause cancer in high levels of long-term exposure, are leaked. Aamjiwnaang is surrounded on three sides by petrochemical plants.

    In the report, Saxe said there is “strong evidence” to suggest pollution is causing “profound” health problems in Aamjiwnaang, which neither the federal or provincial governments have properly investigated.

    Following the joint investigation, provincial Environment Minister Chris Ballard committed to funding a study examining the health effects of pollution in the Chemical Valley, something residents had sought for nearly a decade.

    But Saxe said the government still needs to take the cumulative effects of pollution into account, do more air-monitoring, update regulations and properly enforce those on the books. It currently ignores some forms of common emissions, such as those from flares, used to burn off materials dangerous to plants.

    Last week, Aamjiwnaang resident Vanessa Gray filed a request for the province to investigate a flaring incident caught on video at Sarnia’s Imperial Oil plant from Feb. 2017 where clouds of fire and steam billowed from its smokestacks for hours, causing a burning sensation in her nose.

    “It is wonderful that the government’s going to do a health study, but what they really need to do is clean up the air,” Saxe told reporters.

    Ron Plain, who has spent the past 25 years living in Sarnia and Aamjiwnaang, said he hopes Saxe’s report will open the eyes of those who thought the issue isn’t that bad. Plain has cancer; the 55-year-old’s doctors have told him he’ll likely be dead in a year.

    “It’s about time,” Plain said of Saxe’s report. “I live it . . . . Everybody here is living it.”

    Speaking to media at Queen’s Park Tuesday, Aamjiwnaang Chief Joanne Rogers said nothing in Saxe’s report was new; the community has long asked for action, and Saxe isn’t the first commissioner to identify the issues.

    But Rogers said she’s confident change can happen this time if the First Nation is included in discussions going forward.

    “We breathe that air, so why is there delay after delay?” she said.

    In her report, Saxe recommended the provincial Environment Ministry post real-time air monitoring data for the people of Aamjiwnaang — a plan to do so is already in the works — and update air standards for sulfur dioxide, a component of acid rain that can cause a range of health issues, even below the threshold where humans are able to smell it.

    In response, Ontario Environment Minister Chris Ballard said his ministry will soon release new sulfur dioxide regulations, updating laws set in 1974 that hasn’t been revised since. In her report, Saxe said the current standard doesn’t protect human health, something the government has been aware of for years.

    “I don’t think our government has been slow to respond to these issues,” Ballard said when asked if institutional racism was a factor in the government’s delayed responses in Aamjiwnaang and Grassy Narrows.

    “A lot has been done. A lot more has to be done, ’though.”

    On Friday, a statement released by Rogers and the First Nation’s council suggested the issues in Chemical Valley may be a violation of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The declaration says Indigenous communities have the right to the “conservation and protection of the environment and the productive capacity of their lands or territories and resources.”

    Saxe’s report, delivered Tuesday, also condemned government inaction on mercury poisoning in the Grassy Narrows and Wabaseemoong First Nations near Dryden, Ont. Contamination of the Wabigoon River there has sickened residents for generations; the most recent study found 58 per cent of community members are either diagnosed with or suspected of having Minamata disease, a severe neurological illness caused by mercury poisoning.

    After a Star investigation, the province committed earlier this year to paying $85 million to clean up the contamination.

    Mercury survivor and Grassy Narrows environmental health coordinator Judy Da Silva said those already poisoned are still facing “hopelessness” and a lack of support.

    “We’ve been so ignored for decades that our people are in disbelief of anything ever changing,” she said.

    Saxe’s report also called attention to the 36 First Nations communities in Ontario under water advisories, including 17, which have been without a safe water source for more than a decade. Although the problem is the federal government’s responsibility, the provincial government can and should help by protecting water sources and by providing more technical training, Saxe said.

    “The Ontario government must make environmental justice part of its pursuit of reconciliation with Indigenous people.”

    Enviro watchdog blasts province for inaction on ‘outrageous’ pollution in Indigenous communitiesEnviro watchdog blasts province for inaction on ‘outrageous’ pollution in Indigenous communities

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    WASHINGTON—The news out of Washington last week was dominated by the fallout from President Donald Trump’s lies about his interactions with the families of fallen soldiers.

    There were other Trump whoppers that didn’t get discussed. Oh, were there other whoppers.

    The president uttered 57 — 57! — false claims from Monday through Sunday. His astonishing output shattered his old record for most false claims in a week in office, 40, which he had set just three weeks prior.

    Why was Trump so especially dishonest in this week of all weeks? It might just have been because he was talking a lot. He did a long interview with Fox News’s Maria Bartiromo (11 false claims), a press conference with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (10 false claims), interviews with five conservative talk radio hosts (20 false claims total), and several other public events. As per usual, he repeated some of his false claims over and over — saying seven times, for example, that the U.S. is the world’s highest-taxed country, though it is nowhere close.

    All together, he made 777 false claims over his first 276 days in office — an average of 2.8 false claims per day.

    Trump has proven uniquely willing to lie, exaggerate and mislead. By all expert accounts, he is more frequently inaccurate than any of his predecessors.

    Read more: GOP Senator Bob Corker calls Donald Trump an ‘utterly untruthful president,’ says he is ‘debasing’ the U.S.

    We are keeping track. Below is a list of every false claim Trump has made since his inauguration on Jan. 20.

    Why call them false claims, not lies? We can’t be sure that each and every one was intentional; in some cases, he may have been confused or ignorant. What we know, objectively, is that he was not telling the truth.

    Last updated: Oct. 24, 2017

    57 false claims. Donald Trump shatters his one-week record for dishonesty57 false claims. Donald Trump shatters his one-week record for dishonesty

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    WASHINGTON—A Republican stood on the Senate floor Tuesday and delivered a detailed indictment of just about everything about the Republican president.

    Declaring that he must answer to his children and grandchildren, Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake said he could not “stay silent” about Donald Trump’s “reckless, outrageous and undignified behaviour” — or about his party colleagues’ “complicity” in supporting a president who is a threat to America’s values and future.

    “None of this is normal,” Flake said.

    “We must never meekly accept the daily sundering of our country,” he said. “The personal attacks, the threats against principles, freedoms, and institutions; the flagrant disregard for truth or decency, the reckless provocations, most often for the pettiest and most personal reasons, reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with the fortunes of the people that we have all been elected to serve.”

    Trump’s “anger and resentment,” Flake said, “are not a governing philosophy.” Invoking Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan and cries of “fake news,” Flake said, “We were not made great as a country by indulging or even exalting our worst impulses, turning against ourselves, glorying in the things which divide us, and calling fake things true and true things fake.”

    “Mr. President, I rise today to say: enough,” Flake said.

    It was an extraordinary moment, seemingly written for the history books, that might, under other circumstances, have suggested that Trump was losing control of the party he took over.

    But the day as a whole might have actually demonstrated that Trump’s grip is strengthening, not weakening. Flake gave his speech minutes after he effectively conceded defeat to Trump by announcing he would not be seeking re-election in 2018 — and, afterward, he received little support from fellow senators.

    Read more:Key Republican senator calls Donald Trump an ‘utterly untruthful president,’ says he is ‘debasing’ the U.S.

    Flake, a seven-term House member in his first term in the Senate, is a traditional conservative who has boasted high scores from right-wing advocacy groups. But he had alienated many of his own voters by criticizing Trump in a book he published earlier in the year. And he acknowledged that his pro-trade, pro-immigration stances, once standard in the party, put him out of step in the Trump era.

    “There may not be a place for a Republican like me in the current Republican climate or the current Republican Party,” he told the Arizona Republic.

    Flake’s poll numbers in Arizona had plummeted, and pro-Trump Republican strategists like Steve Bannon had been plotting to defeat him. He acknowledged Tuesday that it would have been hard to win his party primary.

    “He had pissed off so many of the conservatives here,” said Laurence Schiff, a psychiatrist and self-described “Trump guy” who chairs the Republican committee in Arizona’s Mohave County. He said Flake was too supportive of illegal immigrants; voters there, he said, want a hard line, including Trump’s giant wall on the Mexican border.

    “I don’t think Jeff Flake is particularly conservative,” Schiff said. “I think that Flake had pissed off so many of the Republicans that an awful lot of people who weren’t going to vote for (Democratic candidate) Kyrsten Sinema were going to sit home.”

    Republican members of Congress who do plan to run again have been reluctant to criticize Trump, even as they have been privately scathing, out of fear of alienating such voters. Just as they remained largely silent in response to former president George W. Bush’s criticism of Trump last week, they did not did not appear moved by Flake’s call to vocal action.

    “As a Republican, I’m proud of our former presidential candidates and retiring senators. About our active politicians, I’m not so sure,” conservative writer Bill Kristol, a Trump critic, wrote on Twitter.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has avoided criticism of Trump, called Flake a “very fine man.” But neither McConnell nor other Republican leaders endorsed any of the substance of Flake’s remarks. Nor did they offer backup to the other retiring senator who castigated Trump hours earlier.

    In a lengthy attack of his own, Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, lambasted Trump as “utterly untruthful” after the president tweeted a false claim about the senator’s role in Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. Trump, Corker said, is “debasing” the country and “obviously not going to rise to the occasion as president.”

    House Speaker Paul Ryan brushed off Corker’s words as part of a mere Twitter feud. He urged people to focus on the Republicans’ legislative priority of the moment: tax reform.

    “That’s what matters. So all this stuff you see on a daily basis on Twitter this and Twitter that, forget about it. Let’s focus on helping people,” he said.

    Flake’s decision to abandon the Senate leaves Trump to contend, for a year, with three Republican senators who strongly dislike him and no longer need his support. (The other Arizona senator, John McCain, has terminal brain cancer; Corker has also announced he will not run.) With a 52-member caucus, Trump can only afford to lose two party members on any given vote to execute his agenda.

    In the long run, though, the departures of Flake and Corker will almost certainly move the party closer to Trump’s own views. While Democrats have a chance to win Flake’s seat, the top candidate for the Republican nomination is a staunchly pro-Trump former state senator, Kelli Ward.

    “It’s not like Corker was this liberal trapped inside the Republican Party. He was a moderately conservative internationalist. And that he can’t find a place in the Republican Party is bizarre by historical standards. That’s what the Republican Party stood for in the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s,” said Terry Sullivan, a University of North Carolina political science professor who studies the presidency.

    Trump’s press secretary, Sarah Sanders, dismissed Flake’s criticism as petty “grandstanding.” And she celebrated his decision to leave the Senate with a pointed jab, saying it was “probably a good move” in light of the “lack of support that he has from the people of Arizona.”

    Trump, meanwhile, attacked Corker again on Twitter — mocking his height once more.

    “People like liddle’ Bob Corker have set the U.S. way back,” the president wrote. “Now we move forward.”

    ‘None of this is normal’: Republican Sen. Jeff Flake delivers a blistering indictment of Donald Trump’s presidency‘None of this is normal’: Republican Sen. Jeff Flake delivers a blistering indictment of Donald Trump’s presidency

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    OTTAWA—The federal Liberal government is “doubling down” on spending to combat poverty rather than putting the books in the black any time soon.

    Unveiling a fall economic update that showed an economy going gangbusters at more than 3 per cent, and lower deficits as a result, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said the government will use the bigger-than-expected boost to its bottom line to give families more breaks, not to chart a path to a balanced budget.

    “It rises all boats,” Morneau told reporters.

    In the Commons, he said: “We’re doubling down on that strategy because it’s working.”

    Morneau now projects a $19.9-billion deficit for 2017-18 that will clock in at $8.6 billion less than was projected just last March.

    “Not only is our plan working, it’s working better than expected,” he said.

    Kevin Page, a former parliamentary budget officer now at the University of Ottawa, said in an interview that Morneau is “in a sweet zone” as finance minister with the economy outpacing all G7 countries. But as a result he said “(Morneau) should have a fiscal plan” to return to balanced budgets.

    Page suggested that normal growth for the Canadian economy is more like 1.5 per cent a year, and the current pace “is not sustainable.” Even the government’s forecast for rising economic output in future years drops to 2.1 per cent next year, and hovers around 1.6 or 1.7 per cent in the years after that. Page said deficit spending now risks becoming structural — and a baked-in ongoing burden for future generations. “You have to deal with it at some point.”

    Adding new fiscal spending into the mix now puts pressure on the Bank of Canada to raise its interest rates “because people are piling on debt,” he said.

    Read more:

    Liberals need to get back on track to tax reform: Editorial

    Liberals accused of tax grab by clawing back disability credit for diabetics

    Why it’s wrong to villainize Morneau

    Political critics like Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer pounced on Morneau’s plan to continue to spend more than the government takes in annually, and to borrow money to finance that spending.

    “Only a Liberal would ask Canadians to thank him for running deficits that are double what he promised,” said Scheer, referring to the Liberals’ broken campaign promise to limit deficits to $10 billion a year, before returning to a balanced budget by 2019.

    The NDP’s parliamentary leader, Guy Caron, said the update amounts to little more than a Liberal attempt to “change the channel” from the controversies surrounding the finance minister and the potential conflicts of interest that arise from his personal wealth. He took credit for the announced indexation of the child benefit, claiming the Liberals made the move only because of opposition pressure. And while he welcomed the news that the government would beef up the working income tax break for low-income earners, he bemoaned how it isn’t slated to kick in until 2019.

    “It’s obviously a way for the Liberal government to try to deflect attention from the problems that the minister is actually experiencing right now,” Caron said. “To be called an economic update, you actually need to have something new to present.”

    Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, tweeted he was pleased the deficit numbers are down from the budget “but now is the time for a plan to balance, not for new spending.”

    Word of new spending had leaked out the night before Morneau tabled the legislation in the Commons Tuesday.

    In announcing it, Morneau said the government will move two years earlier than promised to increase Canada Child Benefit payments for lower- and middle-income Canadians in pace with the cost of living.

    It’s called indexation and it’s a big-ticket item. The increases to the monthly tax-free payments for families with kids under 18 will be pegged to inflation, starting in July 2018, and will cost the government $5.6 billion over five years.

    What it means to a single parent of two children who earns $35,000 a year, for example, is an extra $560 in 2019 on top of what would have been an $11,125 annual payment without indexation.

    Child poverty activists welcomed the government’s plan.

    “Indexation of the CCB has been a policy lever that Campaign 2000 has called for since Budget 2016,” said Anita Khanna, spokesperson for the coalition of more than 120 national, provincial and local partners dedicated to ending child poverty.

    “We are pleased the government has recognized the great benefit of putting money into the pockets of families to not only boost family well-being, but also boost the economy,” she said.

    Khanna called the move “a very strong down payment” for Ottawa’s promised national poverty reduction strategy.

    Morneau said Canadians have been using the child benefit payments, an overhauled scheme that the Liberals tied to income levels when they came to power, to increase their personal consumption, which has, in turn, helped Canada’s economy.

    “They paid off debts, sent the kids to summer camp, bought healthier food, and maybe a few more children’s books. Right away, we saw a spike in consumer confidence, and a rise in household spending that underpins our economic growth to this day,” he told the Commons in a prepared speech.

    There’s another sweetener for low-income Canadians.

    Morneau is boosting the Working Income Tax Benefit, a refundable tax credit that eases the tax burden on low-income Canadians and encourages those who don’t work to join the workforce.

    That measure will see Ottawa spend $500 million a year more to improve the financial security of low-income working Canadians . . . but not until 2019, an election year.

    Khanna of Campaign 2000 praised the Liberal government’s plan to increase the WITB, but said she hoped a federal minimum wage and more money for affordable housing, child care and employment insurance will also be part of the government’s anti-poverty strategy.

    Along with touting a reduction in the deficit forecasted, Morneau said Canada is leading the G7 in economic growth by a wide margin.

    Revised projections are that Canada’s economic output will grow by 3.1 per cent in 2017, significantly above expectations at the beginning of the year.

    And he clung to his decision to measure the success, not by balanced budgets, but by lower debt-to-GDP ratios, saying that that ratio is declining.

    It is projected to drop below 31 per cent in 2018-19, more than three years earlier than the budget in March predicted.

    “Government is always about balance, and, in our view, the balance that we’re seeking is the ability to be fiscally responsible while making investments in the middle class and middle-class families. That’s the balance we sought back in 2015.”

    The fall economic update also reveals, for the first time, the cost of Morneau’s decision to fulfil the Liberals’ election promise to lower small business tax rates from 10.5 to 9 per cent by 2019, a move announced in the middle of a political firestorm over the minister’s personal finances.

    It will cost the treasury $2.96 billion over five years.

    That is partly offset by an expected rise in what the taxman will collect through controversial changes to stop so-called “income-sprinkling” by incorporated business owners as a way to split income among family members to take advantage of lower tax rates that apply to them. That measure will bring in about $220 million to $245 million a year, when it is implemented fully.

    The overall impact, then, says the finance department, will be an annual $2.3-billion hit to the public treasury.

    Morneau told the Star he has not completed consultations on measures to limit so-called passive investments by business owners and understands the need for “full transparency.”

    He said he would aim to provide those numbers in Budget 2018 next spring.

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau left most of Tuesday’s spotlight to Morneau to bask in. But he, too, couldn’t resist crowing about the Liberals’ byelection steal of a Conservative seat in Lac-St-Jean the day before.

    “It’s a real pleasure to be able to see that in rural Quebec, but across the country Canadians are responding extremely positively to the economic message we put forward and the hard work we’ve done.” Trudeau said “the promise we made to Canadians . . . to grow the economy through investing in our communities, is actually delivering.”

    With files from Alex Ballingall and Laurie Monsebraaten

    Lower deficits, better growth mean breaks for families, federal government saysLower deficits, better growth mean breaks for families, federal government says

    0 0

    With the legalization of pot scheduled for next year, a cannabis delivery company is advertising its services by distributing hot pink flyers to city mailboxes amid complaints questioning its methods.

    Riverdale resident Pauline Stanley received an advertisement late last week from Weedora, offering seven free grams of marijuana with the purchase of one ounce of a “high end” strain. Interested parties would reach out via text message for service.

    Stanley, a mother of two children, aged 9 and 14, reached out to the company under an alias to gather more information. She said prices for an ounce — with names such as “Chemo Kush,” or “UK Cheese 2.0” — are $150 to $250.

    Stanley said there’s a school down the street from her home, adding she’s frustrated that a technically illegal recreational drug market can operate unchecked and indiscriminately appeal to youth.

    “My door is not a nightclub,” she said. “There are all kinds of school-age kids in the neighbourhood, so how many of these (flyers) were nabbed by teenagers? It’s pretty inviting.

    “When I got it, I thought this must be illegal and intrusive,” Stanley said.

    Stanley said the advertisement isn’t for medical purposes. The company’s website doesn’t specify. It does state that buyers must be 19 or older to order.

    “It is our mission to give cannabis lovers the best strains grown by local farmers for the most affordable prices, delivered right to your door in the GTA,” reads the company’s mission statement.

    The federal government is planning to follow through with plans to legalize recreational pot on July 1, 2018. Ontario has signalled that cannabis will be sold from LCBO outlets or through a government-operated server.

    Mark Pugash, director of communications at the Toronto Police Service, said the issue is on the force’s radar, but declined to comment.

    A request by the Star for an interview with the unnamed owner of Weedora was declined.

    By mid-afternoon Tuesday, the company’s website showed that about 750 people had visited.

    “It normalizes drug use, in the eyes of children,” Stanley said.

    Councillor Paula Fletcher (Ward 30, Toronto-Danforth) said Stanley’s concerns are warranted, adding that the crackdown of dispensaries in Toronto has forced the marijuana market to shift its strategy and continue working in a protracted grey zone.

    “It is technically advertising an illegal product for somebody to bring it to your house,” she said. “The marijuana industry is a very smart, savvy, large industry that will find other ways to distribute until the regulation comes into play.”

    Fletcher said her ward has seen dispensaries pop up, tolerated by her constituents for a spell, and eventually shut down.

    “It’s the wild, wild west,” she said. “I believe there must be regulation. This gray area is unfair to everybody, at this point. I think the police need to act a little more swiftly.”

    Toronto parent angered by flyer promoting weed delivery serviceToronto parent angered by flyer promoting weed delivery service

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