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- 10/28/17--17:46: _Bernie Sanders awed...
- 10/28/17--18:40: _Mexico City’s Day o...
- 10/29/17--03:00: _How you can remembe...
- 10/28/17--21:02: _Dodgers blow open G...
- 10/29/17--05:10: _Tickets withdrawn a...
- 10/28/17--19:26: _Census shows big ch...
- 10/29/17--07:34: _Toronto police inve...
- 10/29/17--13:37: _Montreal sees const...
- 10/29/17--12:24: _Young women of colo...
- 10/29/17--10:45: _Queen West artists ...
- 10/29/17--07:58: _Bernie Sanders comp...
- 10/29/17--17:43: _Students worry as O...
- 10/30/17--03:55: _Police confirm King...
- 10/29/17--17:38: _Toronto-York Spadin...
- 10/30/17--05:49: _Accused killer didn...
- 10/30/17--10:42: _Pedestrian texting ...
- 10/29/17--17:47: _Why women need to a...
- 10/30/17--12:25: _Conservative Leader...
- 10/30/17--07:21: _Kim Jong Un’s wife ...
- 10/30/17--11:30: _Ontario vows new ba...
- 10/28/17--17:46: Bernie Sanders awed by Canadian health care
- 10/28/17--18:40: Mexico City’s Day of the Dead parade honours earthquake rescuers
- 10/29/17--03:00: How you can remember a moment when you weren’t even there
- 10/28/17--21:02: Dodgers blow open Game 4 in ninth, even World Series with Astros
- 10/28/17--19:26: Census shows big changes in Scarborough’s Little China
- 10/29/17--10:45: Queen West artists stand against demolition of studio space
- 10/29/17--17:43: Students worry as Ontario college strike hits third week
- 10/30/17--10:42: Pedestrian texting ban worth considering: Wynne
- 10/29/17--17:47: Why women need to ask about breast density when having a mammogram
- 10/30/17--11:30: Ontario vows new bail policy will be ‘faster and fairer’
U.S. senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders says Americans have much to learn from health systems outside their borders, including Canada’s.
“We do not in the United States do a good job in looking around the rest of the world and asking the questions that have to be asked,” he said Saturday during a tour of three Toronto hospitals.
The independent senator from Vermont has been crusading for the creation of a single-payer health system in the United States, much like Canada’s.
He told reporters that his most important takeaway from the tour is that Canada’s health system is innovative, contrary to what he hears from U.S. critics.
“What we heard was incredibly innovative. In fact, they are proud to be doing things that are leading the world. I think it is not a fair argument to say that the system here is not a strong system and innovative system.”
Sanders said he was particularly impressed by his tour of Sinai Health System’s state-of-the-art neonatal intensive care unit. Built three years ago, it has separate rooms for each infant, which helps with infection control, privacy and noise.
Pediatrician-in-chief Dr. Shoo Lee described a new model of care he has developed in which the parents of critically ill and premature infants serve as primary caregivers.
“The nurses’ job is to teach the parent, but not to look after the baby,” the physician explained, adding that patient outcomes are much improved. The new model of care improves bonding and makes for a smoother transition home, he added.
The unit focuses on high-risk pregnancies and care of the unborn infant. Just a few weeks ago, surgery was performed in utero on an infant that would otherwise have died, Sanders was told.
Sanders has received much help in his efforts to reform his country’s health system from Canadian doctor Danielle Martin, a vice-president at Women’s College Hospital. She gave a speech at a news conference in Washington in September when he introduced the Medicare for All bill, aimed at creating universal access to health care.
At Sanders’s invitation, Martin appeared before a U.S. Senate subcommittee three years ago and deftly answered tough questions about Canada’s health system. A video of her appearance, posted on Facebook by Sanders, has had more than 30 million views.
At Women’s College, Martin and Premier Kathleen Wynne showed Sanders the hospital’s Crossroads Clinic for refugees.
Patient Samira Nafe, a refugee who came to Canada in 2012 from Eritrea, told Sanders she had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
“She’s getting treatment for free?” Sanders asked to nods of affirmation.
Dr. Meb Rashid, who runs the clinic, said Nafe’s experience shows the benefits of preventative care: “We were able to diagnose something before it became a problem.”
“You’re saving money,” Sanders remarked.
His tour of the hospital also took a stop at its billing office, where he seemed surprised to hear only one person worked.
In a roundtable discussion with health professionals at Women’s College, Sanders noted that 28 million Americans have no health insurance and many more are under-insured. Because sick people have high deductibles and are charged co-payments, many opt to go without care, he said. They end up getting even sicker down the road and when they do eventually get care it is so expensive some have to mortgage their homes or go bankrupt.
He pointed out that it costs twice as much to provide a person with health care in the United States than it does in Canada. Extra administrative costs associated with private insurance are a factor.
Sanders also visited the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre at Toronto General Hospital. There, he was told by medical director Dr. Barry Rubin that there was no waiting list at all for patients needing urgent surgery.
Rubin explained that patients at the centre get high-quality health care from world-leading experts.
“Nobody thinks about the expense they are going to incur,” Rubin said.
Sanders met with a patient who had recently undergone bypass surgery as well as a procedure to correct leaky heart valves. Sanders asked him how Canadians felt about paying more in taxes than Americans but not having to pay private health insurance.
“The good thing is I have not had to worry about what this is costing,” the patient said. “I know it is expensive.”
The patient congratulated Sanders on his efforts to get single-payer health care introduced into the United States.
“Many of my American friends say it’s a mess,” the patient said of the U.S. health system.
Sanders acknowledged the Canadian health system is not perfect, noting that public coverage of drugs is limited and dentistry, for the most part, is not covered.
Sanders will speak at Convocation Hall at the University of Toronto on Sunday. The event is sold out.
Bernie Sanders awed by Canadian health care
MEXICO CITY—A raised fist made of helmets, pick axes and broken rubble rolled ahead of hundreds of walking skeletons, costumed dancers and flowery floats Saturday in Mexico City’s Day of the Dead parade, which this year honoured the 228 capital residents killed by a Sept. 19 earthquake.
“Thank you, rescuers!” belted out Guadalupe Perez, 56, as she passed the sculpture, which was followed by contingents of rescuers, including dogs.
Mexico City’s central Zocalo plaza was filled by the papier maché dead, skeletal Katrina figures and candle-covered shrines where people were invited to place photographs of those killed in two recent earthquakes, which together left more than 400 dead across the country.
A raised fist was the signal the rescuers gave for silence to hear if anyone was trapped under the rubble of a collapsed building. It “has become a national and international symbol,” parade co-ordinator Julio Blasina told The Associated Press.
“We had an obligation to pay tribute to the fallen, while transmitting the message that the city is still standing,” Blasina said.
This year’s parade featured a kilometre-and-a-half of floats honouring the celebration, which is an amalgam of pre-Hispanic and other traditions. White, orange, purple and black paper cut-outs covered part of the Zocalo. Beneath them were papier maché skeletons with rescue vests and helmets, symbolizing volunteers and victims from the regions affected by the earthquakes, including Oaxaca, Chiapas, Morelos, Puebla and Guerrero.
“We must not forget that the country is in mourning because there are many who do not have a home,” said Guadalupe Perez, whose apartment was badly damaged in a quake. “But this is a beautiful party, unique in the world.”
Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebrations traditionally consisted of quiet family gatherings at the graves of their departed loved ones bringing them music, drink and conversation. On the Nov. 1-2 holiday, Mexicans set up altars with photographs of the dead and plates of their favourite foods in their homes. They gathered at their loved ones’ gravesides to drink, sing and talk to the dead.
In some towns, families leave a trail of orange marigold petals in a path to their doorways so the spirits of the dead can find their way home. Some light bonfires for the same purpose, sitting around the fire and warming themselves with cups of boiled-fruit punch to ward off the autumn chill.
But it is increasingly celebrated with parades rife with floats, giant skeleton marionettes and thousands of participants. Influences of American Halloween celebrations and Hollywood zombie films are common.
“All our roots are reflected here,” said Leo Cancino, who took his family to see Saturday’s parade in Mexico City. “Many are afraid of death but no, it’s part of life.”
Mexico City’s Day of the Dead parade honours earthquake rescuersMexico City’s Day of the Dead parade honours earthquake rescuersMexico City’s Day of the Dead parade honours earthquake rescuersMexico City’s Day of the Dead parade honours earthquake rescuersMexico City’s Day of the Dead parade honours earthquake rescuers
In 1993, approaching my 60th birthday, I started to experience a curious phenomenon — the spontaneous, unsolicited rising of early memories into my mind, memories that had lain dormant for upwards of 50 years, memories of my boyhood in London before the Second World War. Moved by these, I wrote two short memoirs. I think a more general autobiographical impulse was stimulated by these brief writings, and late in 1997, I launched a three-year project of dredging, reclaiming memories, reconstructing, refining, seeking for unity and meaning, which became my book Uncle Tungsten.
I expected some deficiencies of memory, partly because the events I was writing of had occurred half a century earlier and most of those who might have shared their memories were now dead. And partly because, in writing about the earliest years of my life, I could not call on the letters and journals I later started to keep from the age of 18.
I accepted that I must have forgotten or lost a great deal but assumed that the memories I did have were essentially valid and reliable, and it was a shock to me when I found that some of them were not.
A striking example of this arose in relation to the two bomb incidents that I described in Uncle Tungsten, both of which occurred in the winter of 1940-’41, when London was bombarded in the Blitz:
One night, a thousand-pound bomb fell into the garden next to ours, but fortunately it failed to explode. All of us, the entire street, it seemed, crept away that night (my family to a cousin’s flat) — many of us in our pajamas — walking as softly as we could (might vibration set the thing off?)... The streets were pitch dark, for the blackout was in force, and we all carried electric torches dimmed with red crêpe paper. We had no idea if our houses would still be standing in the morning.
On another occasion, an incendiary bomb, a thermite bomb, fell behind our house and burned with a terrible, white-hot heat. My father had a stirrup pump, and my brothers carried pails of water to him, but water seemed useless against this infernal fire — indeed, made it burn even more furiously. There was a vicious hissing and sputtering when the water hit the white-hot metal, and meanwhile the bomb was melting its own casing and throwing blobs and jets of molten metal in all directions.
A few months after the book was published, I spoke of these bombing incidents to my brother Michael, five years my senior. He immediately confirmed the first bombing incident, saying, “I remember it exactly as you described it.” But regarding the second bombing, he said, “You never saw it. You weren’t there.”
I was staggered at Michael’s words. How could he dispute a memory I would not hesitate to swear on in a court of law?
“What do you mean?” I objected. “I can see it all in my mind’s eye now, Pa with his pump, and Marcus and David with their buckets of water. How could I see it so clearly if I wasn’t there?”
“You never saw it,” Michael repeated. “We were both away at school at the time. But David (our older brother) wrote us a letter about it. A very vivid, dramatic letter. You were enthralled by it.” Clearly, I had not only been enthralled but must have constructed the scene in my mind, from David’s words, and then appropriated it and taken it for a memory of my own.
After Michael said this, I tried to compare the two memories — the primary one, on which the direct stamp of experience was not in doubt, with the constructed, or secondary, one. With the first incident, I could feel myself into the body of the little boy, shivering in his thin pajamas.
The second image, of the thermite bomb, was equally clear, it seemed to me — very vivid, detailed, and concrete. I tried to persuade myself that it had a different quality from the first, that it bore evidences of its appropriation from someone else’s experience. But although I knew, intellectually, that this memory was false, it still seemed to me as real, as intensely my own, as before. Had it, I wondered, become as strongly embedded in my psyche (and, presumably, my nervous system) as if it had been a genuine primary memory? Would psychoanalysis, or, for that matter, brain imaging, be able to tell the difference?
All of us transfer experiences to some extent, and at times we are not sure whether an experience was something we were told or read about, even dreamed about, or something that actually happened to us.
Daniel Schacter has written extensively on distortions of memory and the source confusions that go with them, and in his book Searching for Memory he recounts a well-known story about Ronald Reagan:
In the 1980 presidential campaign, Ronald Reagan repeatedly told a heartbreaking story of a Second World War bomber pilot who ordered his crew to bail out after his plane had been seriously damaged by an enemy hit. His young belly gunner was wounded so seriously that he was unable to evacuate the bomber. Reagan could barely hold back his tears as he uttered the pilot’s heroic response: “Never mind. We’ll ride it down together.” The press soon realized that this story was an almost exact duplicate of a scene in the 1944 film A Wing and a Prayer. Reagan had apparently retained the facts but forgotten their source.
Reagan was a vigorous 69-year-old at the time, would go on to be president for eight years, and only developed unmistakable dementia in his 80s. But he had been given to acting and make-believe throughout his life and had long displayed a vein of romantic fantasy and histrionism. Reagan was not simulating emotion when he recounted this story — his story, his reality, as he felt it to be — and had he taken a lie detector test (functional brain imaging had not yet been invented at the time), there would have been none of the telltale reactions that go with conscious falsehood, for he believed what he was saying.
It is startling to realize, though, that some of our most cherished memories may never have happened — or may have happened to someone else.
Webster’s defines “plagiarize” as “to steal and pass off as one’s own the ideas or words of another; use . . . without crediting the source . . . to commit literary theft; present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.” There is a considerable overlap between this definition and that of cryptomnesia, and the essential difference is this: plagiarism, as commonly understood and reprobated, is conscious and intentional, whereas cryptomnesia is neither. Perhaps the term “cryptomnesia” needs to be better known, for though one may speak of “unconscious plagiarism,” the very word “plagiarism” is so morally charged, so suggestive of crime and deceit, that it retains a sting even if it is unconscious.
In 1970, George Harrison released an enormously successful song, “My Sweet Lord,” which turned out to have strong similarities to a song by Ronald Mack (“He’s So Fine”), recorded eight years earlier. When the matter went to trial, the court found Harrison guilty of plagiarism, but showed a great deal of sympathy in its judgment. The judge concluded: Did Harrison deliberately use the music of “He’s So Fine”? I do not believe he did so deliberately. Nevertheless . . . this is, under the law, infringement of copyright.
Helen Keller was also accused of plagiarism, when she was only 12. Though deaf and blind from an early age, Keller became a prolific writer once she learned finger spelling and Braille. She wrote, among other things, a story called The Frost King, which she gave to a friend as a birthday gift. When the story found its way into print in a magazine, readers soon realized that it bore great similarities to The Frost Fairies, a children’s short story by Margaret Canby. Admiration for Keller turned into condemnation, and she was accused of plagiarism, even though she had no recollection of reading Canby’s story. (She later realized that the story had been “read” to her, using finger spelling onto her hand.) The young Keller was subjected to a ruthless and outrageous inquisition.
But she had defenders, too, including the plagiarized Margaret Canby: “What a wonderfully active and retentive mind that gifted child must have!”
Keller herself later said of such appropriations that they were most apt to occur when books were spelled into her hands, their words passively received. Such confusion rarely occurred if she read actively, using Braille, moving her finger across the pages.
In 1996, I read a review of a new play, Molly Sweeney, by the eminent playwright Brian Friel. His lead character, Molly, I read, had been born blind but has her sight restored in middle age. She can see clearly after her operation, yet she can recognize nothing: she has visual agnosia because her brain has never learned to see. She finds this frightening and bizarre and is relieved when she returns to her original state of blindness. I was startled by this, because I had published an exceedingly similar story in The New Yorker only three years earlier. Indeed, when I read Friel’s play, I was surprised to find, over and above the thematic similarities, a great many phrases and sentences from my own case history. When I contacted Friel to ask him about this, he denied even knowing about my essay — but then, after I sent him a detailed comparison of the two, he realized that he must have read my piece but forgotten doing so. He was confounded: he had read many of the same original sources I mentioned in my article, and believed that the themes and language of Molly Sweeney were entirely original. Somehow, he concluded, he had unconsciously absorbed much of my own language, thinking it was his own. (He agreed to add an acknowledgment of this to the play.)
Much is made of so-called recovered memories — memories of experiences so traumatic as to be defensively repressed and then, with therapy, released from repression. Particularly dark and fantastic forms of this include descriptions of satanic rituals of one sort or another, accompanied often by coercive sexual practices. Lives, and families, have been ruined by such accusations. But it has been shown that such descriptions, in at least some cases, can be insinuated or planted by others. The frequent combination of a suggestible witness (often a child) with an authority figure can be particularly powerful.
From the Inquisition and the Salem witch trials to the Soviet trials of the 1930s and Abu Ghraib, varieties of “extreme interrogation,” or outright physical and mental torture, have been used to extract religious or political “confessions.” While such interrogation may be designed to extract information in the first place, its deeper intentions may be to brainwash, to fill it with implanted, self-inculpatory memories — and in this it may be frighteningly successful.
But it may not take massive or coercive suggestion to affect a person’s memories. The testimony of eyewitnesses is notoriously subject to suggestion and to error, frequently with dire results for the wrongfully accused. With DNA testing, it is now possible to find, in many cases, an objective corroboration or refutation of such testimony, and Schacter has noted that “a recent analysis of 40 cases in which DNA evidence established the innocence of wrongly imprisoned individuals revealed that 36 of them (90 per cent) involved mistaken eyewitness identification.”
If the last few decades have seen a surge or resurgence of ambiguous memory and identity syndromes, they have also led to important research — forensic, theoretical, and experimental — on the malleability of memory. Elizabeth Loftus, the psychologist and memory researcher, has documented a disquieting success in implanting false memories by simply suggesting to a subject that he has experienced a fictitious event. Such pseudo-events, invented by psychologists, may vary from mildly upsetting (for example, that one was lost in a shopping mall as a child) to more serious incidents (an assault by another child). After initial skepticism (“I was never lost in a shopping mall”) and then uncertainty, the subject may move to a conviction so profound that he will continue to insist on the truth of the implanted memory even after the experimenter confesses that it never happened in the first place.
What is clear in all these cases — whether of imagined or real abuse in childhood, of genuine or experimentally implanted memories, of misled witnesses and brainwashed prisoners, of unconscious plagiarism, and of the false memories we all have based on misattribution or source confusion — is that in the absence of outside confirmation there is no easy way of distinguishing a genuine memory or inspiration from those that have been borrowed or suggested.
Even if the underlying mechanism of a false memory is exposed, as I was able to do, with my brother’s help, in the incendiary bomb incident, this may not alter the sense of actual lived experience or “reality” which such memories have. Nor, for that matter, may the obvious contradictions or absurdity of certain memories alter the sense of conviction or belief.
Once such a story or memory is constructed, accompanied by vivid sensory imagery and strong emotion, there may be no inner, psychological way of distinguishing true from false, nor any outer, neurological way. The physiological correlates of such memories can be examined using functional brain imaging, and these images show that vivid memories produce widespread activation in the brain involving sensory areas, emotional (limbic) areas, and executive (frontal lobe) areas — a pattern that is virtually identical whether the “memory” is based on experience or not.
There is, it seems, no mechanism in the mind or the brain for ensuring the truth, or at least the veridical character, of our recollections. Our only truth is narrative truth, the stories we tell each other and ourselves — the stories we continually re-categorize and refine. Such subjectivity is built into the very nature of memory and follows from its basis and mechanisms in the brains we have. The wonder is that aberrations of a gross sort are relatively rare and that for the most part our memories are so solid and reliable.
Edited excerpt from The River of Consciousness by Oliver Sacks. Copyright © 2017 by the Oliver Sacks Foundation. Published by Alfred A. Knopf Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the publisher. All rights reserved.
How you can remember a moment when you weren’t even there
HOUSTON—Cody Bellinger pulled into second base with his first World Series hit and said: “It’s a miracle!”
With the Dodgers three innings from falling into a deep deficit, the rookie slugger sparked a late comeback that stopped the Houston Astros’ surge.
Hitless in 13 at-bats, Bellinger doubled and scored the tying run in the seventh inning, then doubled home the go-ahead run off struggling closer Ken Giles in a five-run ninth that lifted Los Angeles to a 6-2 win Saturday night and tied the Series at two games apiece.
“Relief, for sure,” Bellinger said. “I think everyone knows I was struggling.”
George Springer put the Astros ahead with a two-out homer in the sixth, the first hit off Los Angeles starter Alex Wood. The crowd at Minute Maid Park, where the Astros had been 7-0 this post-season, was revved up in anticipation of the Astros having a chance to win the first title in their 56-season history on Sunday.
Instead, the Series will go back to Los Angeles no matter what. Clayton Kershaw starts Game 5 for the Dodgers on Sunday night and Dallas Keuchel for the Astros in a rematch of the opener, when Kershaw pitched Los Angeles to a 3-1 win.
Bellinger, a 22-year-old bopper who set a National League rookie record with 39 home runs this season, struck out four times in Game 3 and once more in the fifth inning — his eighth whiff of the Series.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts expressed faith Friday night in Bellinger and again Saturday afternoon.
“He’s got that calmness about him,” Roberts said. “And when things speed up, he has a way of sort of resetting and not letting it spiral.”
Bellinger doubled over left fielder Marwin Gonzalez, chasing starter Charlie Morton, and came home on Logan Forsythe’s two-out single off Will Harris.
Giles entered to start the ninth and got into immediate trouble, allowing a leadoff single to Corey Seager and a walk to Justin Turner. Bellinger took a low slider, then lined a fastball at the letters to left-centre. He raised a hand rounding first and clapped his hands half a dozen times in excitement after sliding into second.
Joe Musgrove relieved and allowed Austin Barnes’ sacrifice fly and Joc Pederson’s three-run homer, his second home run of the Series.
“You like that! You like that!” Pederson yelled to teammates, a la Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins, as he came back to the dugout.
Wood, Brandon Morrow, winner Tony Watson and Kenley Jansen combined on a two-hitter. Jansen allowed Alex Bregman’s two-out homer in the ninth, the 14th home run of the Series.
Giles, the loser, was charged with three runs. He has an 11.75 post-season ERA, allowing runs in six of seven appearances.
“When you’re a back-end reliever,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said, “unless you’re extraordinarily dominant, you’re only talked about when you suffer, when you struggle. So for him, he can handle it mentally. He can handle it physically.”
Springer put the Astros ahead when he drove a curveball, Wood’s 84th and final pitch, over the left-field scoreboard and into the Crawford Boxes. Wood dropped to a knee on the mound and watched the ball land in the seats and rebound onto the field.
Houston was nine outs from winning for the 18th time in 20 home games since returning to Minute Maid Park after Hurricane Harvey, and from becoming the first major league team to start a post-season 8-0 at home.
But the Dodgers tied the score in the seventh. Bellinger pointed skyward when reaching second standing up on his opposite-field hit. He clapped both hands above his head, said “It’s a miracle!” and pointed for the ball to be saved.
Los Angeles had been 1-for-17 with runners in scoring position before Forsythe’s hit.
Making only his second appearance since Sept. 26, Wood accomplished a feat that eluded Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Orel Hershiser and other Dodgers pitching greats. In the team’s 109th World Series game, Wood became the first Dodgers pitcher to hold an opponent hitless through five innings.
Houston had put a runner on in 14 consecutive innings before the 26-year-old lefty retired the side in order in the first.
Morton was nearly as stingy, allowing three hits in 6 1/3 innings.
Chris Taylor singled leading off the first but was thrown out on a delayed steal attempt that ended the inning, the first runner caught stealing by Houston catcher Brian McCann since June 18. That was part of a streak of 15 straight outs by Morton before he hit Barnes on the right forearm with a pitch leading off the sixth.
Enrique Hernandez’s single put runners at the corners and Taylor hit a two-hopper to third that Bregman scooped on an in-between hop and threw home in plenty of time for McCann to tag Barnes, who tried to stop about 10 feet from the plate and fell. Bregman also threw out the Yankees’ Greg Bird at the plate in the fifth inning of Game 7 in the AL Championship Series.
Dodgers blow open Game 4 in ninth, even World Series with Astros
The withdrawal of charges against about a dozen men caught up in Toronto police’s “Project Marie” operation in Marie Curtis Park last year has again called into question the thinking behind the plan, which critics say was homophobic.
The six-week project last fall in the Etobicoke park, which included the use of undercover officers seeking individuals interested in sexual activity, led to at least 72 people, mostly men, ticketed for non-criminal offences including trespassing and public sexual activity. Police said at the time that only one person was charged with a criminal offence.
Almost immediately after news of the project’s results broke last November, a group of about 10 lawyers banded together to offer their services free to anyone caught up in the operation. Toronto lawyer Marcus McCann told the Star about 20 per cent of the individuals ticketed reached out to the group, and all of them had their tickets withdrawn by the prosecution over the course of 10 months, and as recently as September. McCann said fines for trespassing and sexual activity could total about $600.
“In terms of the legal defences, the lesson here is the same as it has been for 30-plus years: that those who choose to fight these types of morality raids tend to be vindicated,” McCann said.
“The tickets themselves are fairly minor, no more serious than a jaywalking ticket, and yet the consequences for those who are affected by Project Marie can be very, very serious. We know historically that the effect of these kinds of morality raids has been devastating on some of those captured by them, leading to the break-up of families, depression, other mental issues, suicide attempts. These are high-stigma offences.”
Toronto police have always denied that Project Marie was homophobic, but rather, they say, it was an attempt to respond to complaints from some residents about public nudity, indecent exposure and drug and alcohol consumption in the park. The force has since acknowledged that its LGBTQ liaison officer was not consulted before the execution of Project Marie, and that it should have spoken with LGBTQ groups beforehand.
“At the time, Project Marie was successful in addressing the immediate concerns that were raised by local residents,” said Toronto police spokesperson Meaghan Gray on behalf of 22 Division. “However, we know Project Marie raised concerns and, in retrospect, we should have considered outreach to our LGBTQ community partners. Going forward, as we continue to receive community complaints about Marie Curtis Park and other locations, we will execute enforcement projects in good faith.”
Gray said uniformed officers visited the park before the undercover officers who issued tickets “and engaged with those found to be loitering in the park.”
“They were told in advance why there was an increased police presence and that certain activities were not permitted by law in the park.”
Critics of the project have pointed to a lack of understanding on the part of the police and some residents as to why men who have sex with men would be “cruising” in the park in the first place, and that there were other alternatives to bringing in the police, such as working with local LGBTQ groups, using bylaw officers instead of police officers, and creating a public awareness campaign about sharing space in the park.
“People use parks for many reasons that might not be considered ‘public’ or aligned with mainstream public values,” said Jonathan Valelly, a member of Queers Crash the Beat, a collective of queer and trans people “invested in police accountability and challenging the violence of the criminal justice system.”
Valelly highlighted that closeted individuals may not necessarily feel safe, for example, in a neighbourhood designated as a gay village, where many other homosexual individuals meet.
“People actually cruise in public parks because we live in a homophobic society,” he said, “which means going to places marked as gay in the public sphere, such as a gay bar or gay area of town, is not necessarily safe for people, or comfortable for people, psychically or physically. . . . Gay men and men who have sex with men are a resilient bunch, who will find each other in a way that doesn’t really bother anyone else.”
Politicians from the three levels of government were highly critical of Project Marie, including MPP Cheri DiNovo.
The police operation “was a complete waste of public dollars and, more to the point, other than just dollars, someone should be held responsible for that,” DiNovo, the NDP’s LGBTQ critic, told the Star. “Even the ones who had the charges withdrawn, that’s incredible stress and really, let’s face it, what’s behind this is homophobia.”
DiNovo said she would like to know if Toronto police have come up with a policy on how to better handle complaints similar to those received from residents before Project Marie last year.
It’s unclear just how many charges were withdrawn, successfully or unsuccessfully prosecuted, or where individuals plead guilty.
McCann, the lawyer, said stigma may have prevented some individuals from calling a lawyer and seeking help. Along with other lawyers, activists and politicians, McCann wants to know the cost of Project Marie, as well as the number of officers involved and who approved it.
Gray, at Toronto police, said the force does not disclose details about resources put into any project. She confirmed that Const. Kevin Ward at 22 Division co-ordinated the project, which like any project required the approval of the unit commander.
Ward is facing professional misconduct charges before the police tribunal for allegedly having an inappropriate relationship with a college student, sharing sensitive police information with a member of a student group he helped create, and making inappropriate comments, gestures or suggestions to members of the group. Reached by the Star, Ward’s lawyer, Gary Clewley, declined to comment on the charges.
“Going forward, one thing we learned from Project Marie is how (to) balance enforcing the law with what is seen as commonly acceptable behaviour amongst a group of people, and how (to) connect with the partners that we’ve built up in the community to reach that balance,” Gray said.
Tickets withdrawn after ‘morality raids’ in Etobicoke’s Marie Curtis ParkTickets withdrawn after ‘morality raids’ in Etobicoke’s Marie Curtis Park
The country’s three most dominantly Chinese census areas are all located in Toronto, according to new data from Statistics Canada — a trio of neighbouring “tracts” in Scarborough where 87 per cent of residents circled “Chinese” on their long-form questionnaires.
But this statistic obscures a demographic shift that has been quietly unfolding since the last census, in 2006, when the area was already 80 per cent Chinese. Despite the neighbourhood’s apparent homogeneity, its makeup has changed dramatically as newcomer groups have moved in and older ones have moved on — a phenomenon playing out in many communities across Canada, where the immigrant population has reached its highest level in nearly a century.
Only in this particular patch of Canada, the dominant group has remained the same if you’re judging by the census’ demographic categories: “Chinese.”
The difference is that many newcomers are now blue-collar immigrants from mainland China, whereas the area’s “old-timers” tend to be middle- or upper-class families with roots in Hong Kong. This has introduced occasional culture clashes that could be exacerbated by language barriers: mainland Chinese immigrants tend to speak Mandarin, whereas the language of Hong Kong is Cantonese.
“I do hear some friction, but I try to mitigate the issues,” said Councillor Raymond Chin Lee, whose Ward 41 touches on the area. “In Canada, we all try to live together as Canadians.”
On Wednesday, Statistics Canada released its latest tranche of census data, revealing that Toronto has finally tipped over into “minority majority” status, with more than half of residents now identifying as a visible minority.
After South Asians, Chinese people make up Toronto’s largest non-white group, comprising 11.13 per cent of the city’s population. Many have concentrated in places like Agincourt, sometimes referred to by locals as “Asiancourt.”
But drilling down to the “tract” level, a small geographic area defined by Statistics Canada for census purposes, the three most dominantly Chinese pockets in Toronto — and indeed, all of Canada — are found around the corner from Pacific Mall, one of North America’s largest Asian shopping centres.
The three census tracts are located side by side. On a map they form a “T” shape that looks a bit like an oddly shaped shirt hanging off the laundry line that is Steeles Ave. E. The hem of the left cuff is Brimley Rd.; the right cuff’s hem is Birchmount Rd.
This chunk of land is home to 10,855 residents, 9,445 of them Chinese. And the fact that it’s predominantly Chinese will not be surprising to anyone with even a passing familiarity with the area, where Chinese characters adorn the restaurant signs and the local Scotiabank branch is staffed by tellers who are fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese.
Councillor Lee, who lives south of this area, bought his first home here three decades ago, when it was still mostly farmland and emerging subdivisions. “It has changed dramatically since I first moved up here in 1985,” he said.
In the 1980s and ’90s, a tide of Chinese migrated into the suburbs, according to Arlene Chan, an author and historian of early Chinese Torontonians. Many were part of the exodus from Hong Kong after Britain announced it would be handing the former colony over to China.
Others were landed immigrants from the downtown Chinatowns who finally had enough money to buy into the Canadian dream.
“It was a dream of theirs to move into the suburbs, where they could have a bigger property and a better life,” Chan said. “If you came from Hong Kong or the southern part of China, you would never have had anything like that — a big house with a two-car garage.”
Back then, Park Royal Trail, a winding semi-circle of a street off the west side of Brimley Rd., was a coveted address for middle- and upper-class Chinese families, said real estate agent Fanny Lau, who has worked in the vicinity for two decades.
“Thirty years ago, the Hong Kong economy was doing so well,” she said. “The people … were wealthy.”
Today, however, many of those families have moved on and the area’s cookie-cutter pink brick homes are starting to show their age. Wealthier Chinese immigrants now prefer to put down roots in Markham or Richmond Hill, according to Lau.
The northern portion of the Port Royal area has remained predominantly Chinese, who make up 90 per cent of the population. Only these days, residents hail mostly from mainland China, especially the southeastern province of Fujian.
“They call this area ‘Little Fujian,’ ” said Lau, who is a Cantonese speaker and who said she’s been “phased out” of this area, where Mandarin-speaking real estate agents have largely taken over.
One of Little Fujian’s newest residents is 29-year-old Sweetie Chen, who shares a corner house with eight relatives, including her siblings, mother and two young children, who go to school nearby.
Chen said she chose this area because a friend from home had already moved here. She likes the neighbourhood because she can easily find food that suits her tastes. Many of her neighbours also speak Mandarin, thus removing some of the pressures to quickly master English.
“It’s a lot like home here,” she said in Mandarin. “It’s more friendly, and here I don’t feel as homesick.”
Like many of the area’s newer immigrants, the men in her household work in the trades (they lay paving stones). Trucks and construction vans have become fixtures on the wide residential streets, though labourers can often be seen biking or walking to their work sites.
These newer families tend to live closer to the poverty line, said Anna Wong, executive director of the nearby Chinese Family Services of Ontario. Her non-profit provides counseling and settlement services and have seen a spike in their Mandarin-speaking clientele, which has grown to roughly 15,000 in 2011 from just over 2,000 in 2008.
This new community tends to have a high “isolation index,” she said, partly because of a lack of English skills, a barrier perpetuated by the high concentration of Mandarin-speaking residents and businesses that enable people to get by without learning English.
“For about 66 per cent of the population (in my riding), their mother tongue is other than English and French,” said MPP Soo Wong, whose Scarborough-Agincourt riding includes one of the three census tracts in this area. “That’s very reflective of the first-generation Canadians.”
Lee said language and cultural barriers sometimes cause tensions between new neighbours — disputes he’s occasionally called in to mitigate. He said these two Chinese communities tend to have different habits and “philosophies towards life.” He said complaints often centre around neglected gardens or outdoor clutter.
“Maintaining a house is not the same way, because (many mainland Chinese) were used to living in condos,” he said. “The Hong Kong Chinese have been here a little longer, so they tend to learn a little bit more about how to look after their gardens.”
May Lee is among the area “old-timers” — she and her civil engineer husband have lived here 31 years — and said she remembers reporting a neighbour whose overgrown lawn had become waist high. She is Canadian-born but her parents are from Guangzhou and speak Toishan, a language similar to Cantonese, which used to be the lingua franca on her street. “They’re all Mandarin now,” she said.
Lee doesn’t like some of the changes she’s observed in recent years. There are often too many vehicles parked on the streets overnight. She doesn’t like seeing houses with “extra junk lying around.” Occasionally, her neighbours play noisy, late-night Mahjong games in their garages.
“They’re slapping down the tiles and yelling,” she said, then laughed. “I mean, they’re having fun, and my parents did that too. But some people just don’t like it; they think it’s gambling.”
But Lee acknowledged that this area has long been a place for new beginnings. Even the non-Chinese households are diverse. On her street, there is a Jamaican couple, a South Asian family, a Korean household and a Swedish-Chinese family.
Her next-door neighbour, a 30-year-old cake artist named Natalie Stanchevski. Her parents also started over in Canada, after moving here from Macedonia.
“We’re all just immigrants,” Stanchevski said, “doing our own thing.”
Census shows big changes in Scarborough’s Little ChinaCensus shows big changes in Scarborough’s Little ChinaCensus shows big changes in Scarborough’s Little ChinaCensus shows big changes in Scarborough’s Little China
Toronto police’s homicide unit is investigating after a man was found dead in an apartment building near Scarborough Junction on Saturday.
Police were called to a report of “unknown trouble” at Wakunda Pl. and O’Connor Dr. at 8:52 p.m. where a man was found unconscious with “significant trauma.” He was pronounced dead at the scene.
A post-mortem examination found that 60-year-old Henryk Dabrowski of Toronto died of stab wounds to his torso.
This is Toronto’s 53rd homicide this year.
There is no suspect information.
Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-7400 or Crime Stoppers at 416-222-8477.
Toronto police investigating homicide after man found with stab wounds
MONTREAL—Cranes crowd the Montreal skyline these days as a strong economy and political stability are fuelling a construction frenzy throughout the downtown core and beyond.
Although tame by Toronto and Vancouver standards, developers in Canada’s second-largest city are investing billions of dollars in new condominium and office complexes, along with retrofitting older buildings.
“Since 1976, this is one of the greatest times,” Mayor Denis Coderre said, referring to the year when the election of the separatist Parti Quebecois prompted an exodus of residents and businesses.
“There is right now 150 cranes representing $25 billion of investment in Montreal,” he said at the official launch of the second phase of the YUL twin tower and townhouse project that is sponsored by Chinese investors.
Project developer Kheng Ly of Brivia Group Real Estate, who has partnered with China’s Tianco Group, said relatively low condo prices and the lack of a foreign buyers tax make Montreal an attractive place to invest.
Ly, who arrived in Canada 29 years ago, said the downtown landscape has changed significantly in the past five years. The recent addition of direct flights between China and Montreal have attracted Asian investors who comprise 35 to 40 per cent of condo owners at the project’s first phase, he said.
Further evidence of the city’s construction boom can be seen along a short stretch to the Bell Centre where towers surrounding the home of the Habs are a symbol of the change that has been sweeping over the city.
A 55-storey glass building that will carry the famed Montreal Canadiens red and white logo has been launched after two previous towers featuring special access to the hockey complex were quickly sold out.
The project is part of a large development of residential and office buildings planned by Cadillac Fairview and its partner Canderel for Quad Windsor, an area near the historic rail station.
The association with one of sports’ most storied franchises is modelled after Toronto’s Maple Leaf Square and similar approaches in Los Angeles, Dallas and Edmonton.
Montreal trails Toronto and Vancouver in condominium developments partly because of the city’s historic preference for rentals.
“So there’s a bit of catch up,” said Brian Salpeter, Cadillac Fairview senior vice-president of development, Eastern Canada.
Low interest rates, higher disposable income and municipal incentives have made home ownership more affordable and fuelled purchases, said Raphael Fischler, a professor at the McGill University School of Urban Planning.
Since many of the large residential projects are built on empty lots or in old industrial locations, there is little immediate impact on affordable housing. However, he said it has caused an upward pressure on rents.
Daniel Peritz of Canderel said outsiders are finally seeing the city’s potential.
“It’s very nice because for so many years we didn’t have that situation. We have it now and the rest of the country is recognizing it,” he said.
Royal LePage realtor Amy Assaad said that the last couple of years have been particularly strong.
Demand is hottest for condos priced between $300,000 and $400,000 along with high-end units, she said.
Assaad said she’s seeing more foreign buyers from Europe, China and the Middle East. In addition to good pricing, they are attracted to the city’s great university system, strong transit network and a sense of security.
“Everything is on our side right now,” she said in an interview.
However, Prof. Fischler said there is a concern that too many condos are being built, increasing the inventory of unsold units.
“People entering the market to build now have to be careful,” he said.
In addition to downtown, other thriving areas are Griffintown in the city’s old industrial area near the Lachine Canal and pockets of neighbourhoods that are undergoing gentrification.
For developers like Quebec pension fund manager Ivanhoe Cambridge’s real estate subsidiary, the current environment is the strongest it has seen in a quarter century.
Office vacancy rates have been declining as spaces are filled at the highest level in five years and net rental prices are on an upswing, said Bernard Poliquin, senior vice-president office in Quebec.
Ivanhoe is officially opening its 27-floor downtown office tower next month, which will house Manulife and Ernst & Young.
“Others like me who have been in the market for 20 to 30 years are saying the same thing: We haven’t lived this in our careers.”
Montreal sees construction boom amid strong economy, political stability
HALIFAX—They are young. They are women. And they are racialized.
Young women of colour are at the vanguard of Halifax’s social justice movement, part of a new generation of social activists.
Kati George-Jim is a 21-year-old Indigenous student and member of Dalhousie University’s board of governors.
Masuma Khan is a 22-year-old Muslim student leader at the Halifax university.
Rebecca Thomas is a 31-year-old Dalhousie graduate and Mi’kmaq poet laureate.
Together, they are unapologetically standing up for social justice and refusing to back down in the face of controversy.
They are harnessing an ethos of social unrest emanating across the country and beyond, impatiently working to dismantle white privilege, patriarchy and heterosexism.
And they are not going away.
“Racialized women have always been at the forefront of civil rights movements,” said Margaret Robinson, Dalhousie University assistant professor of sociology and social anthropology. “What’s changed is the broader society’s ability to recognize them for their leadership and work.”
Social media and growing up with a Black president in the United States has also shifted the social justice movement, she said.
“The new wave of activists grew up seeing a Black president for eight years,” Robinson said. “They’ve had access to instantaneous online information and communication that I couldn’t have dreamed of as a child. That changes everything.”
Rebecca Thomas, Halifax’s aboriginal poet laureate, said young women are being empowered by higher education.
“The more you start to understand and learn, the more you want to do something,” she said. “Education is very empowering. We’re being told that our voices matter, and we’re standing up to be heard.”
Thomas, originally from New Brunswick, said women of colour have always had strong voices, and that civil rights movements in the past have helped pave the way for the new generation.
Young women are now starting to “punch through power structures” once reserved for white men, Thomas said.
“We’re recognizing the strength we have, and it’s really great when you get the community’s backing,” said Thomas, who has a master’s degree in social anthropology from Dalhousie.
Last spring, she appeared before Halifax council with a poem chiding councillors for shutting down debate last year over how the city commemorates its controversial founder.
Edward Cornwallis issued a bounty on the scalps of Thomas’s Mi’kmaq ancestors but is still honoured with a park, statue and even a street within a stone’s throw of the city’s Mi’kmaq friendship centre.
Moved by her poem, a rookie councillor decided council needed to revisit the issue, and the city has since created a panel to examine how Halifax should pay tribute to Cornwallis.
Thomas said her official role with the city allows her to work for change from the inside, but at times she feels the need to self-censor.
“I find myself in this torn and unfortunate position to make my arguments palatable, so I keep getting invited back, so I can still continue to poke and prod,” she said. “I have a duty and responsibility to keep access to these people in power.”
While Thomas may take a more poetic and amicable approach to social activism, she applauds the more militant actions of others.
Masuma Khan, a Dalhousie Student Union executive, stood firmly in solidarity with Indigenous protests against Canada 150 celebrations.
She refused to back down, even under threat of sanctions as the university investigated her for a profane Facebook post that criticized “white fragility.”
Dalhousie dropped the complaint against Khan last week, in part due to mounting concerns about violent and hateful messages she was receiving.
“It’s a matter of life and death. Standing up against white supremacy is not an easy thing,” said Khan, who wears a hijab and was born and raised in Halifax.
“There are times I get frustrated. But I don’t have a choice,” the fourth-year international development studies student said. “People shoving supremacist ideologies in my face make me want to dismantle those structures even more.”
Khan added: “Our existence is our resistance. I’m going to exist, I’m going to keep going. It doesn’t stop here.”
That sense of urgency is shared by Kati George-Jim of the T’Sou-ke First Nation in British Columbia.
“Racialized women are taking control of the conversation,” the fourth-year political science student said. “With my identity comes responsibility. As an Indigenous woman, I have a responsibility to speak up and use my voice.”
George-Jim took on Dalhousie’s board of governors for what she called institutionalized racism, prompting an apology from the board’s chairman who insisted Dalhousie is not led by racists.
“To me, it just feels like everyday life. It doesn’t feel like social activism,” she said.
It’s a sentiment all three share.
“We don’t stop being women of colour at the end of the day when it’s comfortable and time to relax,” Thomas said. “We don’t get to take a break from our own oppressions.”
Young women of colour at forefront of Halifax’s social justice movement
Three artists sit around a table, reminiscing over photographs of a Toronto warehouse, a rugged space that’s been home to artisans for decades. Looming over the discussion is the property’s imminent redevelopment.
Peter MacCallum, Karl Schantz and Alfred Engerer each balk at an arrangement between the city and a residential developer that will eventually lead to the demolition of the warehouse, located, near Dufferin and Queen West.
MacCallum and Schantz have studios elsewhere in the city, but have turned up to weigh in on the discussion, which revolves around city decisions that threaten artistic environments.
“My thing is about preserving this building,” said Alfred Engerer, who is the building’s superintendent. “I love this building. I don’t want it to go. Their intent is to fully destroy it and replace it with condominiums.”
The plan for the site was given the green light by the city after a settlement was reached with the developer in 2015 to incorporate work spaces for artisans into a predominately residential design.
Engerer said the issue is yet another example of displacing artists to make way for gentrification.
“Why don’t people support the existing?” he said. “F--k the developer! Go build your God damn condos north of St. Clair or Eglinton! Stop destroying communities! This condo scene has added nothing,” adding that the plan’s conditions to build studio space for struggling artists or workers don’t go far enough and are too vague.
By Engerer’s last count, about three months ago, the 117,000-square-foot warehouse had 43 operating studios and at least 138 people working out of it.
The property is rented out to a diverse group of tenants; wood workers, designers, filmmakers, dancers and others form a close-knit community.
A site approval plan was submitted to the city on Oct. 6, 2017. Three towers — the tallest is 12 storeys — will be erected at an undetermined date. There is a two-month long revision period, during which city departments will submit comments.
One building will be used for light manufacturing, said Councillor Ana Bailao. Some of the space will be allotted for mixed-use purposes suach as welding and wood shops or design studios.
“The incubator is really to create affordability and support for startup manufacturing companies and will, hopefully, allow them to mature into the rest of the space,” she said. “We understand the importance of these spaces and the importance of small businesses.
“I will do everything I can to support them.”
Rent for space on the first two floors of the building will be offered at a reduced rate for 25 years.
Provincial records show the property was bought for $32 million in August.
“There’s 45,000 square feet of commercial space [and, in addition] . . . about 15,000 square feet is going to be for incubator space,” said developer Adrian Rocca, who said the property is underused.
Rocca said the residential units will be rentals, not condos.
Engerer took a Star reporter on a tour of the warehouse, darting from door to door to facilitate interviews with tenants.
Lisa Gray, a florist and owner of Sweet Woodruff, said she will be moving to a new space next month, partly due to the buildings uncertain fate.
“I was afraid they would terminate my lease during busy wedding season,” she said.
“I can’t afford to be in Toronto anymore.”
Patrick Yeung works with ceramics, sharing rent with several others of the same ilk. He said many carpenters and glass workers have left the downtown core in search of studio space that’s more permanent, for destinations such as Etobicoke and Hamilton.
“There’s been a lot of uncertainty, and that’s mentally wearing,” he said.
Queen West artists stand against demolition of studio space Queen West artists stand against demolition of studio space
While the city cooled into seasonal fall weather Sunday, one auditorium at the University of Toronto was “feeling the Bern.”
The 1,500-seat Convocation Hall was packed with observers keen to hear U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders speak on what the U.S. can learn from the Canadian single-payer health care system and other grassroots movements, with a few punches aimed at U.S.
“Human dignity demands that all people have health care,” said the independent Senator who gained international attention during his bid to become the Democratic nominee for President of the United States in the 2016 race. Sanders ran for presidential candidate on a platform that centred around universal health care and free university tuition.
Sanders toured Toronto General, Women’s College and Mount Sinai hospitals on Saturday in advance of the talk, and indicated that Americans have much to learn health systems outside their borders.
“Real change never happens from the top on down,” he said. “It always happens from the bottom on up.”
In his speech, Sanders pointed to the 28 million Americans who don’t have health insurance and the coverage for those who do. Worrying about how to pay for hospital bills, “hinders your ability to recover,” he said.
He related the struggle for universal, comprehensive health care in the U.S. to the civil rights, women’s rights and gay rights movements. Dignity and health are part of the freedom citizens are guaranteed under the constitution, he said.
“Of course we’re trying to get Donald Trump to read the constitution,” he elaborated, to applause from the crowd.
Sanders made multiple references to Tommy Douglas, the late Saskatchewan politician who is often called the father of Canadian health care, saying Douglas’ efforts are an example of how political change emanates from the convictions of voters.
Douglas didn’t just “wake up one day” with the idea for Medicare, Sanders said. His success as a champion for universal health care depended on a grassroots movement.
Sanders was introduced by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, who said he “encourages us to think bold” on health-care reform and minimum wage.
Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh was also in the crowd, and drew loud cheers from the room of Sanders fans.
With “the immense love” for Sanders, Singh said, “it’s really incredible that there’s this strong love for progressive politics” and Sanders’ message that health care should be viewed as a human right resonates with him, and the NDP.
“That’s why we put forward a motion for pharmacare nationally, and I’d like to see dental included too,” he said.
Tickets to Sunday’s event were fully reserved online minutes after they were made available last week. The booming crowd was comprised largely of students and young people who were keen just to catch a glimpse of the Senator.
Student Hamdi Jimale and her friends were the first ticket holders in line, arriving at 7:00 a.m. to make sure they could get prime seats.
“Bernie is definitely a trailblazer,” said Jimale.
Her friend Diana Subron, a dual U.S.-Canadian citizen, said it was meaningful to her to see an American senator take interest in Canada as a potential model.
“Bernie doing this is a symbol of hope,” Keisha St. Louis-McBurnie, another friend, added.
Rohan Sahgal, who stood in the rush line hoping to get in to the event starting at 5:45 a.m., was one of the students who met Saunders as he arrived at Convocation Hall.
“His message really resonated with our generation,” said Sahgal. “He’s principled, and he stands by everything he says.”
Sanders’ talk was followed by a sit-down conversation with Dr. Danielle Martin, a Canadian physician whose testimony on Canadian health care has been central to the senator’s “Medicare for all” campaign.
“We’re all on a journey here and it’s not easy,” said Martin, adding that Canada’s health-care system is not perfect.
“I know that Canadians are polite people,” Sanders said, but on this matter he advised “be a little bit loud.”
“Stand up and defend (universal health care) all over the world,” he said.
Bernie Sanders compares U.S. health-care struggles to rights movements in Toronto talk on Canadian system
College students are now worried about the possibility of losing their semester as a strike by their teachers enters its third week.
With the job action dragging on, they are also worried that in order to save the school year, it could instead be extended — adding to their expenses and interfering with job plans.
A protest and rally are planned for Wednesday at Queen’s Park.
“Though a college semester has never been lost because of a faculty strike, students are increasingly concerned about this becoming reality,” said Joel Willett, president of the College Student Alliance, in a written statement. “Lost class time, especially a lost semester, can result in delayed graduation, additional financial requirements, and student visa confusion. This is not what students signed up for.”
Willett said students are suffering, and “we urge negotiating parties to remember students are at college to learn and not to be used as pawns.”
The strike, which began Oct. 16, saw 12,000 full-time and partial-load instructors — those who teach anywhere from seven to 12 hours a week — hit the picket lines at the province’s 24 public colleges, impacting more than 300,000 students. The Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union (OPSEU), which represents instructors, is fighting for at least 50 per cent of teachers to be full-time, as well as improvements to wages.
The College Employer Council has said the union’s demands will cost $250 million, and lead to the loss of thousands of contract positions. It argues half of all teaching hours are covered by full-time professors, and that its final offer to the union gives preference to full-time hiring.
(Depending on how it’s calculated, full-time faculty represent about one-third of all teachers strictly by head count, and by teaching hours they represent about 50 per cent.)
Council CEO Don Sinclair has said the colleges have to reach a deal that is fiscally responsible and that gives flexibility in hiring given declining enrolment.
Both sides remain far apart, and have said they will return to the table when the mediator believes there is some hope of a deal.
“There are no talks scheduled and we are equally as frustrated as the students,” said J.P. Hornick, who is head of OPSEU’s college bargaining team. She said the union wants to bargain, “but we can’t really negotiate if the other side is saying there is one path to a settlement. We are hopeful (advanced education) Minister Matthews uses to her position . . . to push them back to the table and move them from their positions.”
The union has a rally and march planned for Thursday, and Hornick said morale remains “very high on the picket lines. Faculty are worried and want to be back in our classrooms, but people are willing to stand strong on this for as long as it takes.”
The government, which is not a party to the negotiations, has been urging both sides to return to the table.
Sinclair said the colleges are equally frustrated “because we believe this is an unnecessary strike that’s disrupted hundreds of thousands of students. Our faculty should be in the classroom teaching their students. OPSEU has created this mess; they know where the settlement zone is” but aren’t willing to compromise.
Deb Matthews, minister of advanced education and skills development, has said she is very troubled by the lack of talks, but that it’s too early to talk about when the government might intervene.
“We respect the collective bargaining process which is a process between the faculty union and the College Employer Council. We know that the solution to this strike is at the bargaining table; however, the bargaining parties have not met since the strike began,” Matthews said.
“Both the premier and myself are urging both parties to return to the table and find a solution that allows students to return to the classroom where they belong.”
Matthews met with student groups last week and she said “they have real and understandable concerns about the impact this strike may have on their education … we are committed to doing everything we can to connect students to the resources they need to stay informed. I encourage students to continue to make their voices heard and urge both parties back to the table to get an agreement that quickly that puts students back in the classroom.”
She said the federal government has given assurances that students here on a visa will not be adversely impacted by the strike.
And, Matthews added, “every college is working to have a contingency plan so that when they do come back, no students will lose their semester.”
At the legislature, Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown has said the premier needs to put more pressure to get the two sides back to bargaining.
“We can’t afford to have students lose their academic year,” he told reporters.
NDP education critic Peggy Sattler said students are unfairly caught in the middle.
“They worry whether they will be able to complete their program requirements. Many are paying both tuition and rent, and are understandably anxious about the financial burden they are carrying when their semester might be lost.”
Students worry as Ontario college strike hits third week
Toronto police released security images Monday of a suspect they said falsely reported an armed hostage-taking on King St. last week, causing traffic chaos and confusion for three hours.
The prank call came in to police at 1 p.m. on Oct. 26, prompting officers — including the Emergency Task Force — to surround the 365 Dispensary and the Underground Garage at the southwest corner of King and Blue Jays Way. Traffic and TTC routes along King were halted as emergency responders stood by.
When investigators made their way into the building, they found it empty. At the time, they were unsure if the call was fake or if a hostage-taker had managed to escape.
In a press release issued Monday morning, police confirmed the call was a hoax, saying it came from a payphone near Spadina Ave. and Cecil St., in the Grange Park area.
The suspect is described as a man with a dark complexion and medium build, between five feet, 10 inches tall and six feet two inches. He’s likely between 25 and 35 years of age, said police.
Police also said the suspect wore glasses, a green camouflage jacket, black pants, black shoes, a black backpack and a black baseball cap. He rode a black, vintage-style bicycle with a black mudguard and wooden rack on the rear.
Investigators are asking anyone with information to contact police at 416-808-5200, or anonymously through Crime Stoppers.
Police confirm King St. hostage-taker hoax, release photos of suspect
Dazzling. Thrilling. Breathtaking.
You wouldn’t normally associate such adjectives with a TTC station. But that was actually the typical reaction Saturday when the public got a sneak peek at three new stations on the long-awaited Toronto-York Spadina subway extension, on track to open Dec. 17.
“It’s just so unique; it really stands out,” said Israel Mbevi, while outside the new Pioneer Village station on Steeles Ave. W. in the rain with his 12-year-old son Baraka.
“We came here from Mississauga on a rainy day just to see this. He loves anything to do with trains,” Mbevi said.
The trains aren’t in service yet, so shuttle buses ferried droves of curiosity seekers, transit buffs, train fanatics and long-suffering commuters from Sheppard West station, on the western side of the Yonge-University line, up to the Pioneer Village, Highway 407 and Vaughan Metropolitan Centre stations.
Officials said by the halfway point of the four-hour open house that more than 2,000 people had already visited the stations.
The six-stop, 8.6-kilometre extension has been in the works for over a decade and was beset by a two-year delay and cost overruns that ballooned to $3.2 billion from $2.63 billion.
Gary David Brown said he was “attracted by the novelty of it, and just curious to see how our tax dollars are being spent.”
Spectators were wowed by the ultra-modern architecture and design touches including huge skylights, reflective ceilings, a giant stained-glass mural, terrazzo flooring and slanted columns on the platform and brass railings that include a ledge for cyclists to just glide their bikes down the stairs beside them to get to the train.
Each has a dramatically different design to reflect the character of the nearby community, said project director Keith Sibley, whose project management firm Bechtel took over in 2015.
“I’m happy to say we’re in position to open Dec. 17th,” he said.
Sibley noted how people told him that the massive brown chandelier at Pioneer Village station resembles “the sesame seed bun on a Big Mac, or a very big mushroom.”
“People are saying the 407 station looks like a spaceship has landed,” noted Sibley, who was thrilled with the turnout and all the questions he was being asked.
With less than 50 days to go before opening day on the line, visitors were scooping up TTC memorabilia for sale at Pioneer Village station while a two-piece band played “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” for all the kids running around. People talked to the architects and transit officials while York University had recruiters on site and of course there was an information stand for Black Creek Pioneer Village, a 10-minute walk from the station.
The other three stops on the highly anticipated extension will include Finch West, Downsview Park and York University.
With his two children in tow, Toronto shop teacher David Hann said he was pleased to see it all finally come to fruition, though oo late for his sister, who endured the dreaded commute to the remote York University campus where she attended school.
“It was one of the reasons I went to U of T,” he said with a laugh.
“It’s also been . . . years since we saw the last subway line built, and I was in high school then, so it’s been a while,” he said, referring to the Sheppard subway line.
Toronto-York Spadina subway extension lures crowds with station sneak peeks
A man charged with murder told court on Monday that he slept with several women and didn’t care “too much” about an ongoing feud between his girlfriend and Laura Babcock, a Toronto woman who the Crown alleges was killed for being the odd one out in a love triangle.
Dellen Millard painted himself as a bad boyfriend to Christina Noudga, a woman he was dating in 2012 when Babcock disappeared.
Karoline Shirinian, a friend of both women, told court that Millard was aware of the bad blood between his girlfriend and Babcock.
“And I didn’t seem to care too much about it, did I?” asked Millard, who is representing himself.
“No,” Shirinian said.
Millard repeatedly asked Shirinian if she thought he cared about Noudga’s feelings.
“No,” Shirinian said again and again.
Millard, 32, of Toronto, and his friend Mark Smich, 30 of Oakville, Ont., are charged with the first-degree murder of Babcock, whose body has not been found. Both men have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The Crown alleges Babcock became a problem for Millard, and together with Smich they killed the 23-year-old and burned her body in a large incinerator that was found on Millard’s farm, near Waterloo, Ont.
Millard asked Shirinian if she knew that he was sleeping with other women, including his former fiancée and a stripper in Mexico, at the same time he was dating Noudga.
Shirinian agreed, but said Noudga didn’t know about the other women until later in the relationship.
“So I wasn’t too thoughtful when I was with Christina, right?” Millard asked.
“I couldn’t agree to anything more than that statement,” Shirinian said.
Megan Orr, another witness who took the stand later on Monday, became emotional as she talked about how Babcock, her best friend, felt about the love triangle.
Orr said Babcock spoke about Millard all the time, pointing to an incident with Noudga in the months before Babcock disappeared in the summer of 2012.
Babcock told Noudga by text that she had slept with Millard.
Noudga responded with a “rude text,” Orr said.
“Did you miss your meds today? You’re a crazy psycho b---h, you had him, you lost him, give it up,” Noudga wrote to Babcock, Orr said.
Court has heard that Millard told Noudga he was going to fix the problem with Babcock.
“First I am going to hurt her. Then I’ll make her leave,” Millard allegedly said in a text to Noudga. “I will remove her from our lives.”
Orr cried several times during her testimony.
“I know she had a lot of emotional issues going on, but I understood her,” she said of Babcock. “She was bubbly, outgoing — she was amazing.”
Orr said she would speak “15 to 20” times a day with Babcock before the two had a falling out in March 2012. But they rekindled their relationship just before Babcock disappeared that July.
Court has heard that Babcock had become an escort in 2012. She had talked about starting her own escort business, Orr said.
“She asked me to join in with her in the escorting,” Orr said.
“When I declined she asked me to be more of an assistant for her and she’d pay me — really good money or give me a Louis Vuitton bag.”
“Did you agree to do that?” asked Cameron.
“No. It’s nothing I agree with,” Orr said. “I basically just said, ‘take care of yourself, we’re not strangers, you can call me any time.’”
Accused killer didn’t care about girlfriend’s feud with Laura Babcock, witness tells murder trial
A curb on texting and walking may be an idea whose time has come, says Premier Kathleen Wynne.
With Liberal MPP Yvan Baker introducing a private member’s bill Monday to prevent pedestrians from using phones or other electronic devices when crossing the street, the premier suggested it could be a part of evolving road-safety laws.
“Twenty years ago, nobody was walking around with a phone. And, so, now, we’ve got these machines and I think that we need . . . to push ourselves to make sure that we have a safe culture around them,” Wynne told reporters.
“We are looking at a culture shift,” she said at a campaign-style stop at The Irv gastro-pub in Cabbagetown, where she was promoting the Liberal government’s labour reforms.
Asked if there isn’t a danger of Ontario becoming a nanny state where Big Brother is watching the everyday behaviour of citizens, Wynne argued that technological changes have always necessitated new laws.
“A hundred years ago, there were no stop signs, and so, you probably could have made that argument then. And there were no cellphones 100 years ago,” the premier said.
“So now we’ve got this new technology that is changing behaviour, and so, if it is changing behaviour to the point where people are at risk, just like having cars changed behaviour to the point where people were at risk, then I think we need to look at the laws and say, ‘Do we have enough?’ ” she said.
“I’m not saying that this should be put in place, but I do think it’s an interesting idea.”
Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca emphasized there are no plans to incorporate the proposal into the government’s safety initiatives “at this point in time.”
Last year, Del Duca said, if the city of Toronto wanted to ban texting and walking, it could do so using its municipal authority.
New Democrat MPP Cheri DiNovo (Parkdale-High Park), who has long advocated for tougher laws to protect pedestrians and cyclists from distracted drivers, dismissed Baker’s initiative as “a victim-blaming bill.”
“It shows where the government’s heart is; they’re trying to deflect from the fact that we’ve had the worst year — 53 deaths on record — for our pedestrians,” said DiNovo.
Baker (Etobicoke Centre) said his goal with the Phones Down, Heads Up Act is not to underplay the danger of distracted drivers on their phones and other devices.
“Toronto is already one of the worst cities in North America when it comes to traffic. With winter quickly approaching, road conditions can make it difficult to stop,” the MPP said.
“I would like pedestrians to be aware of the risks of crossing the road while (they are) distracted by phones and other electronic devices. My bill would strengthen road safety by encouraging pedestrians and drivers to keep each other safe.”
Brian Patterson, president and CEO of the Ontario Safety League, said Baker’s bill is “consistent with the evolution of safety in the province of Ontario.
“It focuses on the risky behaviour, allowing for education and enforcement,” said Patterson.
Under the bill, scofflaws would be slapped with a $50 fine on the first offence, increasing to $75 for a second infraction, and $125 on a third and for subsequent violations.
Exceptions would include using a phone to call the police, fire services or an ambulance, as well as calls that begin before a pedestrian has started crossing the street.
Pedestrian texting ban worth considering: Wynne
When Naomi Pickersgill was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014, it was a shock.
Just 35 days earlier, a mammogram scan of her breasts had come back normal.
It was only after an offhand remark by a specialist prompted her to research on the internet, that Pickersgill found out her mammogram, given as part of the Ontario Breast Screening Program, may not have revealed her cancer due to the density of her breasts.
The 54-year-old Stratford woman’s breasts were more glandular than fatty, making it difficult for radiologists to spot the tumours.
Like dense tissue, tumours also appear solid and white on a mammogram.
Pickersgill, who later had a mastectomy and is undergoing cancer treatment, was never told that her mammogram report indicated she had “close to a high density breast.” No one told her that this put her at an increased risk for developing breast cancer or that alternate screening tests were available, she said.
“If I had known then maybe I could have been more proactive,” she said. Among her options would have been to seek out an MRI or an ultrasound, two tests that are better at detecting cancer in dense breasts.
“I wasn’t empowered as a patient.”
Pickersgill isn’t alone. Her voice joins those of other women who believe their breast cancer may have been missed by mammogram due to the dense tissue. They say that without knowing about this risk factor, they were unable to advocate for themselves.
Breast “density is one of the strongest risk factors for breast cancer,” according to Cancer Care Ontario, the Ontario government’s principal adviser on cancer and chronic kidney disease care in the province. The problem, the Star found, is that if a woman has a breast density of just under 75 per cent, the patient is usually not told.
It is widely known, according to several experts the Star spoke with, that women with the densest breasts are twice as likely as women with average density to develop breast cancer. For them, mammography can be less accurate at finding their cancers.
In Ontario, women between 50 and 75 years old who have mammograms are notified by mail, and provided a fact sheet on breast density, if the tissue in their breasts is 75 per cent or more fibroglandular rather than fatty tissue. The fibrous tissue blocks X-rays more than fat. These women are also recalled for a mammogram every year, as opposed to the screening program’s standard of every two years, and the value of this is also questioned by critics who say that another mammogram a year later may not be the best solution.
But there is no protocol in the province mandating that women be informed by the breast screening program about density that is below 75 per cent but still high enough to raise a concern.
Across Canada, standards vary by province. Doctors in some provinces are provided with more information than in other provinces. Some doctors might share the information with their patients. Others may not.
Dense Breasts Canada, a group of breast cancer survivors and health-care workers dedicated to raising awareness about breast density, is fighting for mandatory notification of breast density across the country, to both patients and their doctors.
They are also pushing for a breast ultrasound for patients whose breasts are greater than 75 per cent fibroglandular tissue. Currently, this additional test, which is less susceptible to breast density’s masking effects, is not part of the provincial screening program. Instead, patients are sent for another mammogram one year earlier than normal.
Jennie Dale, Dense Breasts Canada co-founder, said women can be lulled into a “false sense of security” when negative mammogram results arrive in the mail. Failing to inform women about their breast density is like “withholding information that can affect their lives,” she said. “It’s kept a secret. This is about your health. It’s your right to know.”
Radiologist Paula Gordon, a University of British Columbia clinical professor and medical adviser to Dense Breasts Canada, said it is “patronizing” not to notify women of this risk factor.
Doctors regularly disclose other risk factors that could lead to further testing, such as measures of cholesterol and blood pressure, she said, adding that breast density is as strong a risk factor for breast cancer as is family history.
Knowing the level of their breast density may prompt women to take better care of themselves, conduct self-exams more regularly, perhaps watch their weight and exercise, which could mitigate an increased risk of developing breast cancer,” Gordon said. “It’s information women need to know.”
In terms of additional testing for dense breasts, Gordon said there is ample research showing that a breast ultrasound detects cancers missed by mammograms and that the earlier these cancers are found the greater the options for treatment. And the better the prognosis for the patient.
In British Columbia, where Gordon practices, breast density, captured by a radiologist under that province’s screening program, is not communicated to the patient or her doctor. A high density score likewise does not trigger a mail-out fact sheet or more frequent screening.
According to Cancer Care Ontario, radiologists interpreting mammograms as part of Ontario’s breast screening program do not grade each breast for specific levels of density. Rather, they only note whether a breast is over or under 75 per cent fibroglandular tissue, simply ticking off one of two boxes: “Breast density ≥ 75%” or “Breast density < 75 %”
On mammograms performed outside the confines of the screening program — mammograms used to locate known tumours, or screens requested by women who are not in the screening program — radiologists may score breasts on a four-point scale, according to radiologist Jean Seely, executive member of the breast imaging working group for the Canadian Association of Radiologists and chair of the newly created Canadian Society of Breast Imaging, an organization designed to provide advocacy and standardization across Canada for breast imaging.
The ratings on that four point scale range from a) “almost entirely fatty” to d), “the breasts are extremely dense, which lowers the sensitivity of mammography.”
But those scores, including c) “the breasts are heterogeneously dense, which may obscure small masses,” are not routinely communicated to the patient, Seely said.
In the U.S., 30 states have adopted breast density notification laws, making it mandatory for doctors to discuss the issue with their patients and tell them if they are above 50 per cent breast density, according to U.S. radiologist Debra Monticciolo, chair of the Commission on Breast Imaging for the American College of Radiology.
Dr. Derek Muradali, head of Breast Imaging at the University of Toronto and radiologist-in-chief for the Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP), told the Star in an interview that he is “not quite sure of the rationale behind” the U.S. notification laws.
While he agrees mammograms are “not perfect” and breast cancers can hide in dense tissue, he doesn’t support more or different testing simply because a woman has dense breasts — something he said fluctuates over time (breasts typically become fattier with age, he said).
He said about 10 per cent of women in the provincial screening program have breasts that are 75 per cent or more glandular tissue.
Doctors can send patients for different kinds of tests if they are deemed high risk, have the BRCA gene that indicates a family history of breast cancer, or if there’s an aberration on the mammogram that merits further investigation, he said.
If these high-risk women can’t have an MRI, another test to screen for breast cancer that is not susceptible to the effects of density, for medical reasons (they may not be able to tolerate the dye injection) they can have an ultrasound, Muradali said. “Apart from this, based on the scientific literature, there is no reason to perform a screening breast ultrasound,” he said.
According to Cancer Care Ontario, there is “insufficient evidence” to recommend a breast ultrasound or MRI for women other than those at high risk for breast cancer.”
Muradali said his concern is that extra testing could lead to “false positives” and “harm,” such as needless biopsies and worry.
On informing women of their breast density, he said: “If women are informed of breast density they should be informed of it such that they shouldn’t experience any anxiety because of it.”
Martin Yaffe, a University of Toronto professor and cancer researcher at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre who has been studying breast density for 25 years and helped develop Ontario’s breast screening guidelines, said the province should take a common-sense approach and develop guidelines for supplementary screening, which include testing with breast ultrasound or MRI.
He said that since mammograms tend to be less accurate at detecting cancers in women with dense breasts, doing them more frequently — as in, every year as opposed to the screening program’s every two years — is “not the right answer.”
Yaffe suspects that the cost and availability of supplementary screening may have something to do with the province’s reluctance to make additional testing part of the protocol. Right now, the only way for a patient to have additional screening is for them to “push” for it, he said. “Women have to do their own homework and be their own advocates.”
In December Just over a month after her mammogram indicated she was in the clear, Pickersgill noticed swollen lymph nodes in her neck. Her cancer, diagnosed as invasive lobular carcinoma, a less common form of breast cancer, had already metastasized, she said. She had a single mastectomy a few months later, and a second mastectomy a year later.
It wasn’t until she heard the oncologist talk about density briefly, in the winter of this year, that Pickersgill said she marched into her family doctor’s office and demanded to see her file.
Flipping through the pages, she noticed that in 2012, when a mammogram detected cysts in one breast, a radiologist noted she had some density in both of her breasts. She was sent for a screening ultrasound. She trusted that her doctors were telling her everything she needed to know and were doing all they could.
While her cancer has spread to her spine, it is under control right now and still treatable. But it could take over and take her life at any time, she said.
“Find out what your breast density is,” she said. “If you do have dense tissue, you need to be aware of it. We need to be aware of our bodies.”
Another women’s experience shows the importance of more detailed screening.
When Jodie Sonnenburg, 49, an elementary school teacher in Ottawa, felt a lump in her right breast in March 2016, she told her doctor, who sent her for a mammogram. The test came back clear. Knowing her mammogram was negative, she didn’t panic when, a few months later, Sonnenburg noticed the lump under her arm was making her skin dimple slightly differently. “Again, I wasn’t worried,” she said. “I had done my due diligence by having my annual mammogram, right?”
This time, her doctor sent her for an ultrasound. Immediately after performing the ultrasound test, the technician took her over to the mammography machine. Two weeks later, she met with her doctor who shared the results. The ultrasound showed her tumour but the mammogram on the same day did not pick it up. A few weeks after that she was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer.
Sonnenburg said she always knew she had dense breasts, but she didn’t know what that meant or that it was a risk factor.
“Knowing that my breasts were so dense, why wasn’t I offered an ultrasound in the first place?” she asks now. “Had I known the correlation, I would have most certainly insisted. It could have been caught so much earlier.”
Jennifer Young, president-elect for Ontario’s College of Family Physicians, said that physicians are all different when it comes to communicating information to patients, and deciding what information to discuss. Likewise, all patients are different, she said, and have varied desires for information. Young said physicians try their best to establish a relationship with each patient and use that to guide what to talk about.
“I have not read any studies that convinced me that I need to increase a woman’s anxiety about her breasts if I don’t have to,” she said about discussing the issue of notifying women about moderate breast density. Young said she does believe women should be notified about density over 75 per cent. “There’s enough stuff out there that people can feel anxious about,” she said.
The Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care is slated to release new breast cancer screening guidelines in 2018. The task force is not in a position to comment until the guidelines are completed and released, an email to the Star from the task force, said.
Why women need to ask about breast density when having a mammogram
MONTREAL—Few Parliament Hill insiders were surprised by Jason Kenney’s decisive Alberta leadership victory. The former federal Conservative immigration minister has long been considered in an organizational class of his own. He was the chief-architect of the federal party’s outreach in Canada’s diverse cultural communities.
Kenney may have been less popular than his main rival Brian Jean overall but as former MP Patrick Brown’s own victory in the last Ontario Tory campaign demonstrated, the capacity to bring one’s supporters inside a party tent matters more to the outcome of a leadership vote than one’s standing in the outside world. That can of course be less true in a general election.
Brown entered the Ontario legislature through the door of a solid Tory riding. Kenney likewise will not face much of a challenge in getting elected to the Alberta legislative assembly.
In both cases the test of their wider electoral appeal is still to come.
But as opposed to Brown who as a federal backbencher brought a relatively blank slate to his Ontario bid, Kenney needs no introduction to the national scene.
That could be a blessing for his provincial party but a curse for Stephen Harper’s rookie successor Andrew Scheer.
In the past, the presence in Alberta of strong Conservative leaders — liable to overshadow the party’s federal leader nationally — has not been a recipe for success for the conservative movement federally.
Think of Peter Lougheed and Joe Clark or Ralph Klein and Preston Manning.
Kenney makes both Lougheed and Klein — despite their respective records as staunch defenders of Alberta’s interests — look like pussycats. He just ran on one of the most antagonistic platforms towards Ottawa and some sister provinces outside of a Parti Québécois leadership campaign.
Over the past few months Kenney turned his guns on Quebec for allegedly biting the equalization hand that feeds it by not supporting the now-defunct Energy East pipeline. For the same reason, British Columbia whose minority NDP government is against the imminent expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline is in his bad books. And he is itching for a fight against Justin Trudeau’s Liberals — on Alberta terms.
But what may be a popular scorched-earth federal-provincial approach in Alberta risks becoming a bridge-burning one for Scheer’s federal Conservatives.
If there is one region where Harper’s successor had no great need for provincial reinforcements it is the Prairies in general and Alberta in particular.
Just last week, his federal Conservatives won 77 per cent of the byelection vote in Rona Ambrose’s former Edmonton riding. If Scheer had his way he would be happy to transfer some of the surplus Alberta Conservative vote bounty to Quebec where his party finished a distant third in a riding the party had held for a decade under Harper
To pose a credible threat to Trudeau’s reelection in 2019 the Conservatives may not absolutely need a strong showing in Quebec…as long as they recoup some of the ground lost in B.C. in the last election.
There as in Quebec, Kenney’s war of words will not be an asset.
Alberta is not the only source of friendly Conservative fire Scheer will have to worry about between now and the next election.
In a memo obtained by the Canadian Press last week titled “Napping on NAFTA”, Harper took aim at Canada’s negotiating strategy suggesting — among other things — that its outright rejection of some key American demands was ill-advised.
Harper’s remarks were circulated among clients (and some would-be ones) of his consulting firm.
As a former public office holder he is forbidden by law from lobbying the federal government for a period of five years as of the date of his political retirement in 2016. And he does not have much to offer the American lobbies that are natural allies of Canada’s NAFTA’s battle on Capitol Hill.
From a business standpoint, that leaves the pool of constituencies — mostly in the U.S. — whose interests are not in line with the trade status quo and for whom the renegotiation of NAFTA is an opportunity to wrestle advantageous concessions from Canada.
From Scheer’s perspective, that makes the optics of an alignment between his federal party and Harper on the NAFTA issue potentially poor ones. Between now and the 2019 campaign, it seems Canada’s leader of the official opposition will have his work cut out for him trying to come across as something more than the puppet of the two strong men of the still-recent Conservative federal era.
Chantal Hébert is a national affairs writer. Her column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer will have to figure out how to deal with friendly fire: Hébert
When Kim Jong Un visited the newly renovated Pyongyang Cosmetics Factory in North Korea last week, smiling broadly as he admired the lotions and potions and their fancy packaging, he was accompanied by two women. They were on the sidelines, but they were there.
One, in a stylish black suit with a floral pattern, a clutch purse under her arm, was Kim’s wife of seven years, Ri Sol Ju. She stood beside her husband as he checked on the production process, according to photos published Sunday.
The other in the background, dressed in the functional black outfit of a Communist Party apparatchik and carrying a notebook, was his younger sister, Kim Yo Jong.
Each has a job to do in Kim Jong Un’s North Korea— one to be glamorous and aspirational, the other to represent the importance of hard work — and each offers clues about the running of the opaque regime.
“His wife enables Kim Jong Un to present a softer side of himself. They are a modern, young, virile couple on the go,” said Jung H. Pak, a former Korea analyst at the CIA who is now at the Brookings Institution. “This new generation of North Koreans growing up in a nuclear North Korea now associates being assertive with being glamorous. I think it inspires hope.”
Kim’s sister, who is about 30, is one of his closest aides. This month, he elevated her to the powerful political bureau of the ruling Workers’ Party, moving her closer to the centre of the leadership.
“She’s supporting him. You know she’s not a leader in her own right,” Pak said.
Women’s status in North Korea varies widely. Under communism, women are more integrated into the workforce than in neighbouring South Korea, even serving in the military. And it’s the women who are earning most of the money in North Korea these days.
While their husbands show up for duty at dilapidated state factories or farms to earn pitiful wages, married women go to the burgeoning markets to sell everything from homemade rice cakes to imported rice cookers, often making many times what their husbands earn.
But in other ways, the hierarchical Confucian ideals that have endured for centuries on the Korean Peninsula are still very much in place, with women viewed as second-class citizens whose primary purpose is to raise the next generation of soldiers.
The concept of motherhood is strong in North Korea, with the state often referred to in propaganda as the all-encompassing, caring “motherland.” Kim Jong Il, the second leader of North Korea and father of the current ruler, had a signature song called “No Motherland Without You.”
Almost all of the women who are elevated to senior positions in North Korea get there through family relations — such as Choe Son Hui, the regime’s top interlocutor with the United States. She’s the daughter of a former prime minister and is thought to have a direct line to Kim.
The most famous woman in North Korea is Kim Jong Suk, the wife of founding president Kim Il Sung and mother of Kim Jong Il. She is revered as an anti-imperialist fighter.
Kim Jong Il never appeared in public with any of his five consorts, but since his son became the leader of North Korea in 2011, the regime has started to idolize Ko Yong Hui, Kim Jong Il’s second wife and Kim Jong Un’s mother.
Kim Jong Il’s sister, Kim Kyong Hui, was also prominent in the Workers’ Party, serving in a raft of influential positions and previously occupying the politburo seat that her niece, Kim Yo Jong, now holds. She and her husband groomed Kim Yo Jong for the role she would play, said Michael Madden, who writes the North Korea Leadership Watch website.
But she hasn’t been seen in public since Kim Jong Un had her husband — his uncle — executed in 2013 for apparently building up too much of his own power.
Kim Yo Jong first appeared in public at her father’s funeral, at the end of 2011, and is now clearly in charge of promoting her brother’s image, he said.
She runs the Workers’ Party propaganda and agitation department — a position that led the U.S. Treasury Department to sanction her by name this year — and has been seen organizing papers and logistics at several marquee events, including a military parade.
“Kim Yo Jong is always in the background, kind of lurking in behind her brother somewhere. She’s not important in her own right, but she’s part of this dynastic rule,” Brookings’ Pak said.
In North Korea, blood is definitely thicker than water. The Kim family has retained power for more than seven decades by relying on the loyalty of an inner circle and claiming a kind of heaven-ordained blood right.
Kim’s wife comes from this inner circle of loyal cadres.
Ri, who is thought to be a few years younger than her 33-year-old husband, is from an elite family that has helped keep the Kims in power. Ri Pyong Chol, a former top air force general who is always at Kim’s side during missile launches, is either her grandfather or great-uncle, said Madden.
She is reported to have been a singer with the Unhasu Orchestra, part of the regime’s propaganda efforts, and to have travelled to South Korea in 2005 as a member of a cheering team at an athletic competition.
Kim and Ri Sol Ju are thought to have been set up by Kim’s aunt and now-executed uncle, and to have married in 2009 or 2010 with Kim Jong Il’s blessing. They are thought to have two or three children, although only one birth has been confirmed — by basketball player Dennis Rodman.
The former Chicago Bull held the baby, a girl called Ju Ae, during a visit to North Korea in 2013. “I held their baby Ju Ae and spoke with Ms. Ri, as well. He’s a good dad and has a beautiful family,” Rodman told reporters after the visit.
When Ri is seen in public, playing the role of devoted wife, she is often wearing chic Chanel-type suits and was once spotted with a Christian Dior purse — or at least a knock-off.
In today’s North Korea, the Kim family is supposed to represent a new kind of socialist ideal: that theirs is a modern country that has style and nuclear weapons.
But this ideal could pose problems for the regime.
“It raises expectations,” said Pak. “If you’re an ordinary North Korean and you’re constantly toiling but your expectations are not met, you can’t live this consumerist dream.”
Kim Jong Un’s wife and sister offer clues to how the North Korean regime works
In an attempt to respond to court delays and the staggering number of legally innocent individuals kept in jail pending their trials, the Ontario government has announced a new policy for Crown attorneys to make the bail system “faster and fairer.”
A major point of the new policy is an emphasis that Crown attorneys should only be demanding as a last resort that a person have a surety in order to be released. A surety is a person who can help ensure that the accused complies with the conditions of their bail, and who promises money to the court that they can end up losing if they fail in their surety duties.
Criminal defence lawyers have long complained of an overreliance by Crown attorneys on the use of sureties, which can make it difficult for persons of certain socioeconomic backgrounds to secure their release.
“The prosecutor should consider the least restrictive form of release and should not request a release with a surety (the most onerous form) unless each lesser form of release has been considered and rejected as inappropriate,” says the new policy, made public Monday.
“As noted by the Supreme Court of Canada, the default position is the unconditional release of the accused. Any conditions that are requested should be necessary and required in the interests of the accused and the safety and security of the victim or public and related to the commission of the offence.”
The policy goes on to make clear that if the prosecutor believes the release would “jeopardize the safety or security of the victim or the public,” and that a release with conditions could not mitigate that risk, then the prosecutor must seek detention. Ultimately, the decision to release an accused on bail is left in the hands of the court, almost always a justice of the peace.
The new policy is the result of a review conducted since last December by three bail experts, led by Brian Lennox, the former chief justice of the Ontario Court of Justice. The review was part of a provincial government announcement last year to respond to the Supreme Court's R v. Jordan ruling, which set strict timelines to bring criminal cases to trial.
According to a government news release, the group “consulted widely with the legal community,” analyzed reports and Supreme Court decisions and travelled to northern Ontario “to hear about the distinct concerns facing northern and Indigenous communities.”
The new nine-page policy stands in contrast to the current bail directive, a document from 2005 that is little more than a page long. The current directive states that Crowns must weigh conflicting interests, including protection of the community and liberty interests of the accused.
“While all the factors listed above must be accorded serious consideration, given the potential for tragedy at the bail hearing stage of the process, protection of the public including victims must be the primary concern in any bail decision made by Crown counsel,” says the current directive.
It also says that while “speed is essential” for an efficient court system, Crowns must “exercise particular care in conducting bail hearings.”
The new policy no longer explicitly states that protection of the public is the primary concern, but rather one interest that must be balanced against others, including the liberty interests of the accused. It also urges Crowns to try to complete the bail hearing on the accused's first appearance in bail court.
“This directive levels the playing field for those who are disproportionately impacted at the bail stage while ensuring the safety of victims and communities,” Attorney General Yasir Naqvi said in a statement. “The new bail policy will help to break the cycle of reoffending, reduce barriers faced by racialized and Indigenous communities, and speed up our criminal justice system to ultimately make our communities safer.”
The directive was praised by the John Howard Society of Ontario.
“(The society) has long been recommending an approach to bail that places greater emphasis on the presumption of release and the presumption of innocence, and moves away from the reliance on sureties as a condition for release,” said Michelle Keast, the society's director of the centre of research, policy and program development, in a statement.
A person who is arrested can either be released by police, or held for a bail hearing, where the Crown can consent to their release or show why they should remain detained. In the case of some offences, the onus to show why the accused should be released falls on the accused person themselves.
The new policy also tells prosecutors that they must consider the unique circumstances of Indigenous persons at the bail stage.
“The prosecutor should also consider the distance and remoteness of many Indigenous communities and the barriers that this creates for access to bail hearings and forms of release,” the policy says. “A significant disadvantage is created since the accused is unlikely to have established connections or supports in the community in which the bail hearing is taking place.
“In these circumstances, seeking the detention of an Indigenous accused should remain an exceptional measure unless the release of the accused would jeopardize the safety and security of the victim and the public.”
The policy also instructs prosecutors to consider the circumstances of vulnerable and disadvantaged accused persons, including racialized individuals, the homeless and those with mental health and addictions issues.
“Pretrial detention should never be used as a substitute for mental health or other social measures,” the policy says.
Bail has been targeted by the Ministry of the Attorney General as one area for improvement in order to speed up the justice system post-Jordan.
Naqvi announced last year that the province would launch a program of having “embedded” Crown attorneys in police stations to quickly provide bail information upon request, and also to help find alternatives to criminal charges for low-risk, vulnerable offenders. The first embedded Crowns were to be placed in Toronto police's 51 division.
Naqvi also announced last year plans to expand the bail verification and supervision program across the province. It allows for low-risk offenders who may be impoverished or have no social ties to still be released into the community under supervision, rather than be detained in jail.
In a separate move, the Ontario Court of Justice, which deals with the bulk of the province's bail hearings, recently announced that judges would replace justices of the peace at all bail hearings in Ottawa and at Toronto's College Park courthouse, as part of a pilot project to explore “whether the introduction of judges' criminal trial experience at the earliest stage of the criminal court process could reduce time to final disposition.”
Ontario vows new bail policy will be ‘faster and fairer’