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- 10/31/17--13:15: _Toronto actress sue...
- 10/31/17--16:16: _Sex with congregati...
- 10/31/17--17:30: _Are Canada’s grocer...
- 10/31/17--07:49: _David Peterson rece...
- 10/31/17--16:56: _Utah nurse arrested...
- 10/31/17--16:13: _Finance minister Bi...
- 10/31/17--12:47: _Eight dead in truck...
- 11/01/17--11:59: _Laura Babcock had i...
- 11/01/17--03:00: _A Star story and a ...
- 11/01/17--10:20: _Ten years after he ...
- 11/01/17--12:27: _Family of Toronto m...
- 11/01/17--14:06: _Province urged to a...
- 11/01/17--13:22: _Islamic school find...
- 11/01/17--13:38: _MPP wants to ban no...
- 11/01/17--14:25: _Toronto police dail...
- 11/01/17--11:58: _John Kelly’s words ...
- 11/01/17--12:30: _Canadian government...
- 11/01/17--03:20: _At least three peop...
- 11/01/17--05:12: _They went to New Yo...
- 11/01/17--12:44: _Ryerson’s student c...
- 10/31/17--17:30: Are Canada’s grocers fixing bread prices?
- 11/01/17--11:59: Laura Babcock had intense fear of death since childhood, court hears
- 11/01/17--14:06: Province urged to act on unlicensed group homes
- 11/01/17--13:22: Islamic school finds common ground with teachers’ union
- 11/01/17--13:38: MPP wants to ban non-compostable coffee pods
- 11/01/17--14:25: Toronto police daily newscast will provide ‘unfiltered’ information
An unnamed Toronto actress is suing disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein for two sexual assaults that allegedly occurred in Toronto in 2000, according to documents filed in Ontario Superior Court.
The woman, who has hired high-profile Toronto lawyer Marie Henein, is identified in court documents as “Jane Doe.” She accuses Weinstein of taking his penis out in a hotel room and suggesting it would help her career if she had sex with him, then holding her down and forcibly performing oral sex on her against her will. In a separate incident, he is alleged to have forced his weight on her and stuck his tongue down her throat.
According to the allegations, Weinstein had invited the woman to his hotel for a breakfast meeting to discuss her career. A female assistant of Weinstein’s had told the woman there was a boardroom in his suite.
The woman is also suing the Miramax film company, the Walt Disney Co. and the female assistant, Barbara Schneeweiss — who is accused of “facilitating” the alleged assaults — for a combined total of $14 million.
At the time of the alleged assaults, Weinstein was co-chairman of Miramax, which was then owned by Disney.
The allegations have not been proven in court and none of the accused parties have filed statements of defence.
A spokesperson for Weinstein, Sallie Hofmeister, did not respond to a request for comment. Miramax and Schneeweiss also did not respond to requests for comment.
A spokesperson for the Walt Disney Co. said Weinstein had “virtual autonomy” to manage his business and Disney was unaware of any complaints, lawsuits or settlements.
“There is absolutely no legal basis for this claim against the Walt Disney Co. and we will defend against it vigorously.”
The woman, who was in her “early 20s” at the time of the alleged assaults, was working in her first movie when she met Weinstein in Toronto, according to the statement of claim. Her allegations are similar to those that have been mounting against Weinstein since The New York Times and The New Yorker published separate exposés about the Oscar-winning movie mogul on Oct. 5.
The Toronto woman says she had a small part in a Miramax-produced movie filmed in Toronto in 2000. After she finished shooting on what was supposed to be her final day on set, she says Weinstein approached her and said she looked like a well-known actress.
(Since there is a publication ban on the woman’s identity, the Star is also not naming the actress Weinstein said she resembled.)
The next morning the woman says she received a call from Schneeweiss, who said Weinstein wished to meet her for a “breakfast meeting” at the Sutton Place Hotel to “discuss her career and potential opportunities with Miramax.”
Once alone with the woman, Weinstein allegedly said he liked massages and asked, “What do you think about massages?”
The woman said she thought they were “great,” but the subject was “not an appropriate one for a business meeting.”
“Weinstein chuckled, then sat silently and did not move,” the statement of claim reads. “He stared intently at her for several seconds.”
To “break the uncomfortable silence,” the woman says she complimented Weinstein’s suite. He then “insisted” on giving her a tour.
As they got to the bedroom, the woman says Weinstein — who is 6 feet tall and weighs 300 pounds, according to media reports — “overpowered” her, pushed her onto the bed and “took his penis out of his pants.”
“After exposing his penis, he told Doe that he had made various famous actresses’ careers and could make Doe’s career as well,” the statement of claim reads. “He said words to the effect of ‘I do think you are a very talented young girl, but the best thing you could do for your career …’”
Weinstein then gestured and looked at his penis, according to the allegations.
The woman says Weinstein then “forced” down her skirt, held her down by the wrists and “forcibly performed oral sex on her without her consent.”
The woman said she said “no” two or three times and tried to resist the alleged assault, but was unable.
“At some point, Weinstein relaxed his grip on her wrists” and she was able to free herself and leave the suite, according to the statement of claim.
After the alleged assault, the woman says Weinstein called her “repeatedly” and left voicemails “insisting” that she return to the hotel. With her agent present and Weinstein on speaker phone, the woman said she eventually picked up. Weinstein, she says, “implored” her to return to the hotel to resolve the “misunderstanding.”
The woman “was fearful that her movie career, which had barely begun, could be destroyed if she did not return to the hotel and give Weinstein a chance to apologize,” she says in her statement of claim.
When the woman went to Weinstein’s hotel room, she initially stood in the hallway. Weinstein asked her to come into the room because he wanted to speak privately given how “very embarrassing” this was to him.
“Weinstein refused to take no for an answer. He kept asking and eventually begging her to come in,” the statement of claim reads. “She stepped inside the doorway. As soon as she did, he threw his weight onto her and tried to stick his tongue down her throat.”
The woman then “pushed herself free” and left the hotel room. She says Weinstein continued to “harass” her for about a year.
She says she was motivated to come forward about the 17-year-old incidents after reading the first accusations against Weinstein in the Times, which have since led to a cascade of allegations and investigations.
On Monday, four new accusers came forward to the Times with new sexual assault allegations against Weinstein, dating to the 1970s.
Weinstein issued an apologetic written statement when the accusations against him first surfaced, but he has strongly denied any allegations of non-consensual sex.
The Toronto woman says in her statement of claim that she reported the assaults to Toronto police last week, on Oct. 23.
A police spokesperson, Mark Pugash, would neither confirm nor deny whether Toronto cops are investigating Weinstein.
The case is scheduled to begin Nov. 6.
With files from Jacques Gallant
Toronto actress sues Harvey Weinstein for two alleged sexual assaults
Warning: This article includes graphic details.
He thumped the Bible but he humped the flock.
A whole lotta fornication going on . . .
Bishop Wayne Jones does not deny that he did the horizontal lambada with at least three members of his congregation — and we haven’t yet got to the defendant’s version of what occurred with a fourth complainant, the woman who testified that “Shepherd Wayne” extorted sex to perform an exorcism.
It was all completely consensual carnality, though, Jones insisted on Tuesday, as he took the stand in his own defence against charges of sexual assault, theft and administering a noxious substance — allegedly, drug-laced cherry Kool-Aid.
Jones, 57, has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
Each of the women has testified that Jones coerced them into sex while he commanded the pulpit at the United Spiritual Baptist Church in Scarborough and its various incarnations over the years. They submitted — gave their bodies, their money and their property — during purification rituals, to chase away voodoo hexes and, in one case, from fear of being reported as an illegal immigrant after over-staying her visitor’s visa.
These specific accusations hark back decades, when the women — two of them sisters elevated to “deaconess” status, now in their 60s — all worshipped at Jones’ Trinidadian-based Baptist church, a religion akin to Anglican Pentecostals or Charismatic Catholics.
“We make a lot of noise,” Jones told the judge-alone trial, describing the singing and the musical instruments and hallelujah preaching. “We use candles, we use perfumes and we read a lot of scriptures.”
Jones, who came to Canada from Trinidad in 1984 — he’s had jobs as a machine operator, in construction, as an assistant teacher and is currently employed as a social worker — was ordained by an archbishop in New York in the mid-’80s after taking a “crash course” at the Ontario Bible College. He was emphatic that voodoo and removing curses have no part in his ministry. “We believe in healing. We believe in miracles. But no, we don’t believe in voodoo,” he said under questioning from defence lawyer Randall Barrs.
After providing a long and convoluted history of his church’s evolution in Toronto — the community faithful started out in the basement of a rented property, known at the time as the Mt. Ararat Baptist Church — Jones plunged into his fraught romantic relationships with the women.
Yes, he was a married man when he first became involved with “Delilah” — not her real name; the women can’t be identified. A poor unemployed single mom with young sons, she’d moved into his apartment. His wife was working two jobs and he and Delilah found themselves alone together much of the time.
“She had developed a low self-esteem,” said Jones of the complainant. “We had intense conversations.”
They were drawn to each other sexually, he maintains.
“Eventually we started kissing. The kiss moved on to more intimate lovemaking. We had sex on the floor.
“While we were having sex, my bedroom door was pushed open and it was my wife. She left and slammed the door. And I was left wondering: How do I explain this?”
This complainant had earlier told court that Jones invited her for a “spiritual rebirth” cleansing, in the church’s basement bathroom, which involved getting naked. On that occasion, after Delilah ripped off her blindfold and noticed Jones’ erection, she bolted lickety-split. In a subsequent incident, court heard, when she had been promised they’d discuss her on-going immigration dilemma, she claimed he’d given her a glass of Kool-Aid and the next thing she remembered was waking up some 10 hours later, wearing only her panties. Later, annoyed by her nagging about the immigration matter, Jones told her: “That’s why I f------ you and you can do nothing about it.”
Jones on Tuesday: “That never happened. She was fabricating.”
Jones and his wife separated (later reconciling and then splitting again) after she caught him with Delilah. During the couple’s time apart, he says Delilah gave him a key to her apartment and they had sex four or six times a week.
“We were in love.”
But Jones admits he was troubled because he had also had an affair with Delilah’s older sister, another single parent. But “Isobel,” unlike her sibling, was in Canada legally, so they were able to make trips to the U.S. together to purchase the oils and unguents he needed for the spiritual baths. Isobel, said Jones, “was my getaway haven.’’
He was sleeping with both of them.
“(Isobel) suspected that I was having an affair with (Delilah) but I don’t think (Delilah) knew that I was having an affair with (Isobel).
Isobel testified last week that Jones wrangled sex from her over an 18-month period, forcing her to give him a key to her home. If she refused, he threatened to “make me walk the streets like a crazy woman and he would destroy my kids.”
Both women left the church, joining a breakaway sect.
Jones was originally charged on one count of sexual assault in 2014. Afterwards three other complainants came forward.
On Tuesday, he described the accumulation of accusations as “a charade” and when Delilah came forward, “I could have had a heart attack.”
Twenty-three years would pass before the sisters gave statements to police. “This came out of some hat,” Jones objected, shaking his head.
Barrs then took Jones to the third complainant — we’ll call her “Yvonne” — who testified about one sexual episode with the pastor, intended to expunge the evil spirits which had been haunting her.
Jones recalled going to Yvonne’s rooming house one Saturday afternoon, at her invitation, and sitting on the edge of her bed while the woman moaned about her unhappy love life. “One thing let to another. We got talking, we got touching. I laughed because I realized she was not very experienced in kissing.’’
Yvonne went to the bathroom and came back with no clothes on.
“I did not take my clothes off. I undid my zipper.
“I’m not proud of it.”
Jones added: “I’m not going to sit here and be derogatory. But it was not very enticing. But I was a young man and one thing led to another.”
It never happened again, said Jones. “She wanted us to continue what we’d started. But it’s not something I wanted.”
While not originally claiming sexual assault, this woman took Jones to small claims court over a $1,200 loan he’d never repaid, and won.
Which brings us to Complaint No. 4.
“Margaret” believed a Montreal psychic had placed a voodoo curse on her and implored Jones to lift it. She told court that he claimed there was only one remedy — a sexorcism.
On Tuesday, Jones said he’d known Margaret casually for a long time. He was surprised when, during a trip he made to Ghana for the ordination of 22 pastors, he discovered Margaret was staying in the hotel room next door. (Her boyfriend had recently been arrested for dealing drugs and was back in Canada in jail.)
In Ghana, Jones explained, the spiritual Baptists are heavily into prophecy.
It was at a large all-night “prophetory service” where the local bishop delivered alarming observations aimed at Margaret.
“He said, ‘I see a dark cloud over you.’ He spoke about guns and drugs. And then she started screaming.
“That went on for 45 minutes.”
At that point in the narrative, the proceedings adjourned.
The trial continues.
Rosie DiManno usually appears Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
Sex with congregation members was consensual, pastor tells court: Dimanno
Are Canada’s grocers conspiring to fix bread prices?
Canada’s Competition Bureau confirmed Tuesday that it is conducting a criminal investigation related to price-fixing in the grocery industry.
“The Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Ottawa granted search warrants based on evidence that there are reasonable grounds to believe that certain individuals and companies have engaged in activities contrary to the Competition Act,” according to a statement issued by the bureau late in the day.
“Bureau officers are conducting searches and are gathering evidence to determine the facts. There is no conclusion of wrongdoing at this time and no charges have been laid.”
Both Loblaw Companies Ltd. and Metro Inc. issued news releases late in the day confirming that they are aware of the investigation.
“(We) are aware of an industry-wide investigation by the Competition Bureau concerning a price-fixing scheme involving certain packaged bread products,” according to the release from Loblaw.
The release from Metro said that the investigation is looking into the supply of commercial bread.
“This investigation concerns certain suppliers and Canadian retailers,” according to the Metro release.
Spokespeople for both companies declined to comment.
The Competition Act includes civil and criminal provisions. Criminal provisions apply to agreements to fix prices or restrict supply.
“Price fixing and bid-rigging are serious criminal offences that harm consumers and businesses by driving up prices and reducing choice,” according to a recent report on the Competition Bureau’s activities.
A cartel is formed when independent businesses agree to act together instead of competing with each other, according to the Bureau. Rigging bids, fixing prices, agreeing to share sales by territories and restricting output are the most common forms of cartel activity.
The report noted that the Competition Bureau imposed fines of $13.28 million in cartel cases in 2016-2017. The cases resulted in one company being criminally charged.
Metro operates a network of more than 600 food stores in Ontario and Quebec under banners including Food Basics, and more than 250 drugstores.
Loblaw Cos. Ltd. is the country’s largest retailer, employing nearly 200,000 Canadians at banners including No Frills and Shoppers Drug Mart. It has more than 2,300 locations.
Are Canada’s grocers fixing bread prices?
A one-time Pan Am Games employee who filed a now-dismissed $3-million sexual harassment claim against former premier David Peterson apologized for the lawsuit but not for the allegations.
“I never apologized for the allegations,” Ximena Morris said of her claims, which Peterson consistently denied and that were never proven in court.
“In order for me to move on with my life, I had to apologize for instituting the lawsuit,” Morris said in a statement Tuesday night.
“I could not continue with the cost of litigation,” she said.
“No matter the outcome, I won. The moment I went public and broke the shackles of silence they had confined me to, I won. I am still standing, I’ve regained my sense of self, and my dignity and integrity are shining,” the former Pan Am manager said.
“I stood up for myself and for women in the workplace and I do not regret it for one second, no matter the cost.”
News of the settlement was made public Tuesday morning in a release from Torys LLP, the law firm that represented Peterson.
“Ms. Morris has issued an apology to David Peterson and his wife, Shelley Peterson, for having launched the lawsuit,” the statement said.
“We have maintained from the beginning that this lawsuit was completely without merit. Sexual harassment is intolerable,” the statement said.
The case was dismissed Oct. 12 by the Ontario Superior Court. Both sides agreed to dismiss costs.
Peterson did not comment.
“We maintained from the outset that this action was brought solely to embarrass Mr. Peterson, as a well-known public figure, for the purpose of extracting funds from him and the co-defendants and attempting to bring notoriety to Ms. Morris,” said Lisa Talbot of Torys in an interview.
Talbot said Morris had used a threat of litigation and the threat of going to the media in an attempt to extract money from Peterson, who served as chair of the TO2015 Pan American and Para Pan American Games.
“On Aug.13, 2015, Ms. Morris’s counsel called counsel for TO2015 threatening to issue a statement of claim and to immediately disclose the allegations to the press if the defendants did not pay Ms. Morris $500,000 within half an hour,” Talbot said.
“When the defendants did not accept Ms. Morris’s demand, Ms. Morris and her counsel had the statement of claim issued immediately and went to the press.”
Morris’s lawyer, Rocco Achampong, said he had no comment on that particular allegation. Achampong said Torys was “re-victimizing” his client by rushing a news release to the media in the wake of the ruling to dismiss the lawsuit.
In an affidavit on her financial standing filed with the court on Sept. 28, 2016, Morris said she was “unemployed and in dire financial straits.”
“My current source of income is employment insurance, which provides me with $1,840 on a monthly basis to pay for all my living needs, inclusive of shelter,” the affidavit said, noting Achampong “agreed to represent me pro bono given that I cannot access justice otherwise.”
Her affidavit adds that “finding employment has also proven difficult,” noting she “was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from my experience at TO2015 and subsequent press coverage” and was seeing a doctor.
Morris concluded her affidavit by saying she could not “seek redress for wrongs committed … if a costs award financially ruins me.”
“As I stand now as a ruin, I will be reduced to rubble.”
She had been seeking $2 million in general damages and $1 million in punitive, aggravated, and exemplary damages, according to court documents.
Talbot, Peterson’s lawyer, said Morris had failed to prosecute the case over the course of two years and that “the whole matter was absolutely unfortunate and should never have happened.”
In May, Peterson put forward a motion in court to impose a timetable and enforce a discovery plan to move the case forward. The motion compelled Morris to provide “proper and complete” answers to questions that needed answering to continue.
In throwing out Morris’s lawsuit against Peterson and other Pan Am executives Saad Rafi, Karen Hacker and Amir Remtulla, the Ontario Superior Court also dismissed Peterson’s counterclaim for abuse of process and defamation, on the consent of both parties, without costs.
Morris was the Games’ manager for external partnerships, manager for official languages, and manager for talent services and scheduling for the opening and closing ceremonies.
She had alleged that Peterson inappropriately embraced her and made publicly humiliating comments about her appearance at work events.
As well, she claimed her complaints to Pan Am Games human resources and senior officials were met with a shrug and that she was told to “let it roll off your back.”
Peterson always maintained nothing untoward happened.
At Queen’s Park, Deputy Premier Deb Matthews, Peterson’s sister-in-law, said the family was heartened that the case was thrown out.
“We’re all very happy to see a resolution of this issue,” said Matthews, whose sister is Shelley Peterson.
When asked about the two-year ordeal, she said, “It’s been tough for sure, but David felt very strongly that an unfounded allegation should not go unchallenged.”
With files from Kristin Rushowy
David Peterson receives apology as sexual harassment lawsuit thrown out
SALT LAKE CITY—A Utah nurse who was arrested for refusing to let a police officer draw blood from an unconscious patient said Tuesday that she was settling with Salt Lake City and the university that runs the hospital for $500,000.
Nurse Alex Wubbels and her lawyer, Karra Porter, announced the move nearly two months after they released police body-camera video showing Detective Jeff Payne handcuffing Wubbels. The footage drew widespread attention online amid the ongoing national conversation about police use of force.
The settlement covers all possible defendants in a lawsuit, including individual police officers and hospital security officers, and the payout will be divided among the city and the University of Utah.
Wubbels plans to use part of the money to fund legal help for others trying to get similar body-camera video. She said that in cases like hers, video is essential to being heard and believed.
“We all deserve to know the truth, and the truth comes when you see the actual raw footage, and that’s what happened in my case,” she said. “No matter how truthful I was in telling my story, it was nothing compared to what people saw and the visceral reaction people experienced when watching the footage of the experience I went through.”
She said she also plans to give a portion of the $500,000 to a nurse’s union and help lead a campaign to stop physical and verbal abuse of nurses on the job.
University of Utah hospital officials said in a statement they support Wubbels and have changed their procedures and training on how police and health care workers interact to ensure nothing similar happens again.
A spokesperson for Salt Lake City didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment.
Wubbel was following hospital policy when she told Payne he needed a warrant or the consent of the patient to draw blood after a July 26 car crash. The patient was not under arrest or suspected of wrongdoing.
Payne had neither. He eventually dragged Wubbels outside and handcuffed her as she screamed that she had done nothing wrong.
She was released without being charged but has said the incident left her feeling terrified and bullied. In a call for changes, Wubbel and her lawyer released the video they had obtained through a public records request.
Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown has since apologized and fired Payne after an internal investigation found he violated department policies.
Brown said in a disciplinary letter that he was “deeply troubled” by Payne’s conduct, which he said brought “significant disrepute” on the department.
Payne is appealing that decision, saying the firing was an unfair reaction to the negative publicity.
The patient was an off-duty Idaho reserve police officer driving a semi-trailer when he was hit by a man fleeing police in a pickup truck. He later died of his injuries.
Lt. James Tracy, a police supervisor who ordered the arrest of the nurse, was demoted to officer and also is appealing. He said he suggested Payne consider handcuffing the nurse and that his superiors had never informed him of the hospital’s blood-draw policy, according to appeal documents.
Wubbels said she was relieved at the discipline and would be disappointed if it’s overturned, though she stressed that decision is out of her control.
“The police have to police themselves,” she said. “This is something I never would have expected to happen, but I’m also honoured by the weight of it.”
Utah nurse arrested for refusing to let officer draw blood from patient settles with city for $500K
OTTAWA—Finance Minister Bill Morneau is in the process this week of selling all his and his family’s shares in Morneau Shepell, the company his father founded and together, over 25 years, they expanded.
And his office says Morneau intends to donate not just any profits on the value of his shares since taking office, but also the dividends realized this week on those shares.
“The shares are being sold in an orderly manner, and the process is being done appropriately and expeditiously. Should the family receive the cash dividend, the amount will be included in the funds donated to charity,” said his spokesperson, Dan Lauzon.
Morneau Shepell declined to discuss the sale of Morneau’s interest in the company, referring all calls to him.
Cathren Ronberg, a company spokesperson, had previously told the Star that Morneau “has had no involvement with Morneau Shepell since October 26, 2015, when he resigned from the company. At that time, he owned 2,254,109 shares, according to public filings required of a company officer.”
Lauzon confirmed that Morneau sold the first million shares after he was elected in October 2015.
“The process began around the time he was elected, but it is one that takes time,” Lauzon said Tuesday.
“A sizeable donation was made to charity then, as it is now. Bringing the total charitable donations to north of $10 million.”
In the early series of share sales in December 2015, Morneau donated the proceeds to the Toronto Foundation, a registered charity whose website says it pools philanthropic dollars and facilitates charitable donations for maximum community impact. It administers more than $400 million in assets.
Lauzon could not confirm whether the charitable donation Morneau plans will be to the same group. However, Morneau has twice spoken about his and his wife’s efforts to bring women from a refugee camp in Kenya to study at university in Canada.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said Morneau’s decision to fully divest himself of the holdings came only after relentless pressure and questions about his stake in the family firm.
“And he still doesn’t seem to think he did anything wrong,” Scheer told reporters.
After days of being on the defensive, Morneau shifted tactics in the Commons on Tuesday and went on the offensive against opposition MPs who continue to challenge his integrity.
He tried to turn tables on the Conservatives, demanding they reveal what assets they hold in numbered companies, rhyming off different ones held by Conservative MPs.
“The question for me, though, is for the 21 members on the other side of the House who have private corporations, and whether they have in fact taken the same approach. For example, whether the member for Chatham-Kent—Leamington has disclosed what is in 782615 Ontario Inc., or what is in 2412420 Ontario Inc…” Morneau said, before he was cut off by the Speaker.
But a quick response by Conservative Pierre Poilievre, his party’s finance critic, took some of the steam out of Morneau’s offensive.
“The minister wants to know what is in my company. I am one of the 21 he just listed. It is a rental property. How hard was that?” Poilievre said.
He then taunted Morneau, saying he’s asked all the Conservative MPs “in the caucus to whom he referred. They have all confirmed that none of them owns stocks in a company that he or she regulates. Only the finance minister has that distinction. Can he just tell us, what is he holding in 2254165 Ontario Inc.?”
The Star surveyed 29 other cabinet ministers this week to ask whether they too held any assets indirectly, the same arrangement that put the finance minister in the crosshairs of opposition criticism.
The offices of four ministers – Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, Transport Minister Marc Garneau, International Trade Minister François-Philippe Champagne and Veterans Affairs Seamus O’Regan – replied to the questions to say that none of them held any publicly traded assets indirectly.
Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould clarified her status.
A further 14 cabinet ministers replied to the Star with a carbon copy statement – indicating a co-ordinated response across government – that said only that they were following the recommendations of the ethics commissioner about their financial holdings. Many refused to respond to follow-up questions.
Finally, 10 more ministers refused to reply at all to the Star’s queries, even though several of them, such as Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen and Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott, have no declared assets or investments, according to filings with the ethics commissioner.
Finance minister Bill Morneau selling off stock holdings in family firm
NEW YORK—A driver plowed a pickup truck down a crowded bike path along the Hudson River in Manhattan on Tuesday, killing eight people and injuring 11 before being shot by a police officer in what officials are calling the deadliest terrorist attack on New York City since Sept. 11.
The rampage ended when the motorist, whom the police identified as Sayfullo Saipov, 29, smashed into a school bus, jumped out of his truck and ran up and down the highway waving a pellet gun and paintball gun and shouting “Allahu Akbar,” Arabic for “God is great,” before he was shot in the abdomen by the officer. He remained in critical condition on Tuesday evening.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio declared the incident a terrorist attack and federal law enforcement authorities were leading the investigation. Investigators discovered handwritten notes in Arabic near the truck that indicated allegiance to Daesh, two law enforcement officials said. But investigators had not uncovered evidence of any direct or enabling ties between Saipov and the terrorist group and were treating the episode as a case of an “inspired” attacker, two counterterrorism officials said.
“Based on information we have at this moment, this was an act of terror, and a particularly cowardly act of terror aimed at innocent civilians,” De Blasio said at a news conference.
Daesh, also known as ISIS or ISIL, has been exhorting followers to mow down people, and England, France and Germany have all seen deadly vehicle attacks in recent months and years.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called it a “lone wolf” attack and said there was no evidence to suggest it was part of a wider plot.
New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill said a statement the driver made as he got out of the truck and the method of attack led police to conclude it was a terrorist act.
Saipov immigrated to the United States from Uzbekistan in 2010, and had a green card that allowed permanent legal residence. He had apparently lived in Paterson, New Jersey, and Tampa, Florida. An official said he rented the truck from a Home Depot in New Jersey.
Almost immediately, as investigators began to look into Saipov’s history, it became clear that he had been on the radar of federal authorities. Three officials said he had come to the federal authorities’ attention as a result of an unrelated investigation, but it was not clear whether that was because he was a friend, an associate or a family member of someone under scrutiny or because he himself had been the focus of an investigation.
Over the past two years, a terrorism investigation by the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the New York Police Department and federal prosecutors in Brooklyn resulted in charges against five men from Uzbekistan and one from Kazakhstan for providing material support to Daesh. Several of the men have pleaded guilty. It is unclear whether Saipov was connected with that investigation.
Martin Feely of the New York FBI office declined to comment on whether Saipov was known to the bureau.
FBI agents were expected to search Saipov’s home in Paterson and his car on Tuesday night, a law enforcement official said. A phone, recovered at the scene of the attack, also would be searched, another official said.
Dilnoza Abdusamatova, 24, said Saipov stayed with her family in Cincinnati for his first two weeks in the country because their fathers were friends.
Abdusamatova said Saipov then moved to Florida to start a trucking company. Her family members think he got married about a year after arriving in the United States and may now have two children. Around that time, she said, he cut off contact with them.
“He stopped talking to us when he got married,” Abdusamatova said.
The attack unfolded as nearby schools, including Stuyvesant High School, were letting out on a crisp Halloween afternoon. It ended five blocks north of the World Trade Center. The driver left a roughly mile-long crime scene: a tree-lined bike path strewn with bodies, mangled bicycles and bicycle parts, from wheels twisted like pretzels to a dislodged seat.
Five of the people killed were Argentine tourists who travelled to New York for a 30-year high school reunion celebration. A sixth member of the group was wounded. Belgian officials said one of those killed and three of the injured were from Belgium. Global Affairs Canada wasn’t able to confirm by Tuesday night whether any Canadian citizens were among the dead and wounded. The Canadian Embassy in Washington did not return a request for comment.
Saipov, a slim, bearded man, was seen in videos running through traffic after the attack with the paintball gun in one hand and the pellet gun in the other. The authorities credited the officer who shot him with saving lives. Six people died at the scene and two others died at a hospital, officials said.
Coming five months after a car rammed into people in Times Square, killing one, Tuesday’s attack again highlighted the risk to pedestrians from a car attack on busy city streets.
The Times Square incident was not a terrorist attack. But both incidents brought to mind the terrorist attack last year in Nice, France, in which a cargo truck killed scores of people celebrating Bastille Day.
The episodes also evoked calls from terrorist magazines, including in a recent edition of Rumiyah, a magazine used by Daesh for attackers to mow down pedestrians with trucks, continue the attacks with a knife or a gun and claim credit by shouting or leaving leaflets.
“I saw a lot of blood over there. A lot of people on the ground,” said Chen Yi, an Uber driver.
Eugene Duffy, a chef at a waterfront restaurant, said, “So many police came and they didn’t know what was happening. People were screaming. Females were screaming at the top of their lungs.”
Sirus Minovi, 14, a freshman at Stuyvesant, was hanging out with friends at the corner of Chambers and West streets when the truck crashed.
“We heard people screaming, ‘gun’ ‘shooter’ and ‘run away,’ ” Minovi said. “We thought it was a Halloween prank.”
He said he realized it was not a joke when he saw the man staggering through the intersection, screaming words he could not make out. A passerby approached the attacker, apparently trying to calm him, Minovi said, until the man realized the attacker had a gun and backed away with his hands up.
Emily, 12, a Grade 7 pupil who declined to give her last name, had been walking on her usual route home just after 3 p.m. when other students ran toward her.
“All the kids were screaming, ‘Run!’ ‘Gun!’ ‘Run inside,’ ” she said, still wearing cat ears for her Halloween costume. She said mothers pushing strollers and children in costumes ran in a herd back toward the school.
U.S. President Donald Trump responded to the attack on Twitter: “In NYC, looks like another attack by a very sick and deranged person. Law enforcement is following this closely. NOT IN THE U.S.A.!”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his condolences to the victims in an official statement released Tuesday evening.
“Tonight, we offer our prayers and thoughts to our neighbours in the United States,” it reads. “We are with you, as always, as friends and allies.”
New York City went ahead with its annual Halloween parade amid heavy security following the attack. The parade stepped off Tuesday evening about a mile from where the attack occurred.
Saipov wove a deadly path on a stretch usually bustling with commuters, runners and cyclists, drawn by the downtown offices nearby or the shimmering Hudson River.
He turned onto the bike path alongside the West Side Highway at Houston Street just after 3 p.m. and drove south, striking numerous pedestrians and cyclists, many of them in the back, the authorities said. People scattered and dove to the asphalt.
The truck, labelled with a sign saying, “Rent me starting at $19,” rammed into the bus near Chambers St. The bus serves two schools in Lower Manhattan and transports students with special needs. Two adults and two children on the bus were injured, the authorities said.
Saipov jumped out of the truck before a uniformed officer assigned to the city’s 1st police precinct shot him, commissioner O’Neill said. The police said they were not looking for additional suspects.
Officials said 11 people were taken to nearby hospitals with serious, but not life-threatening, injuries.
A large section of the West Side Highway was closed for the investigation as hundreds of officers, including the bomb squad, responded to the scene. Several nearby buildings, including Stuyvesant, were placed on lockdown.
With files from Brennan Doherty, The Associated Press and The Washington Post
Eight dead in truck attack on New York City bike path. ‘This was an act of terror,’ mayor says
It took an Ontario prosecutor 10 minutes to read through a lifetime of pain for Laura Babcock.
Jill Cameron walked the jury in the murder trial through the young woman’s mental health records, which detailed more than a dozen visits to specialists in the year leading up to her disappearance in the summer of 2012.
“She feels no one loves or cares about her,” reads a note from a psychiatrist at Toronto’s St. Joseph’s Health Centre on April 29, 2012.
She banged her head against the wall to relieve her “extreme anxiety,” and she lived with an overwhelming fear of death since childhood, read another.
Babcock’s mother, Linda, closed her eyes and bowed her head as she sat in the packed courtroom on Wednesday. Her father, Clayton, rubbed his temples and clenched his jaw.
The Crown contends Dellen Millard, 32, of Toronto, and Mark Smich, 30 of Oakville, Ont., killed Babcock and burned her body in a large incinerator because she was the odd woman out in a love triangle with Millard and his girlfriend.
They believe she was killed on July 3 or 4, 2012. Her body has not been found. Both Millard and Smich have pleaded not guilty.
Millard, who is representing himself, has said he didn’t care much about his girlfriend at the time or about her feud with Babcock. Court has heard there was bad blood between the two women.
Babcock’s mental health records came as an admission in court agreed upon by the prosecution and both accused.
“We had a stack of documents from Ms. Babcock’s various mental health treatments at three different hospitals that she had attended as an outpatient and on one occasion as an inpatient,” Justice Michael Code told the jury.
They boiled her records down to eight pages that only detail the time from August 2011 to April 2012.
Babcock lived through extreme anxiety, depression and borderline personality disorder, the records state. She purged herself. She cried all the time, and she obsessed over death.
“Her major concern is death and what would happen after she dies,” reads a note from a nurse at William Osler Health Centre in Etobicoke, Ont., on Aug. 18, 2011.
The next day, Babcock told a social worker at the same hospital she has had negative thoughts since she was five years old.
“Does not want to die, but likes to see blood. Some days she believes anything is doable,” reads one note from a doctor at William Osler on Sept. 15, 2011.
She would blame her parents for not understanding her. Then she’d take it back.
On Jan. 20 2012, a note from her file at a Toronto mental health hospital reads: “Long-standing history of worthlessness and emptiness.”
She told a nurse on March 14, 2012 that she sometimes wished to die, but on several other occasions she told hospital staff she did not contemplate suicide.
Babcock told one psychiatrist she felt misunderstood. She accused her parents of not believing her most recent diagnosis of borderline personality disorder.
“She would sometimes state that it’s not until she’s dead that people would realize she had an illness,” said a note from a psychiatrist on April 29, 2012.
At that, Babcock’s mother breathed deeply, shaking her head.
Laura Babcock had intense fear of death since childhood, court hears
This week, as we count down to the Star’s 125th anniversary, we revisit stories that have inspired readers and changed lives.
Deborah Williamson was stuck. She had two kids, a rundown apartment, a job that barely covered the bills and no way to change her situation.
Williamson, 27, dreamed of getting a university degree, maybe becoming a teacher, but she could hardly afford to feed her children. How was she supposed to pay tuition?
It was 1986. Williamson had dropped out of high school a decade earlier during her first pregnancy and was now raising a 9- and 10-year-old on her own in Regent Park.
Working as a secretary at a large media-buying agency, Williamson was surrounded by middle-class colleagues, people whose lives wouldn’t crumble if they missed a paycheque. “Are they any smarter than me?” she remembers thinking. “What is it? What’s the difference between the haves and the have-nots?”
The main difference, as far as she could tell, was education. Williamson didn’t have it, and she couldn’t afford to get it.
In March that year, she was profiled in a Star series on low-income families struggling to pay for food. Two weeks later, Williamson received a letter offering her a scholarship to a post-secondary preparatory program at the University of Toronto.
Officials at U of T’s Woodsworth College had read the story and were moved by Williamson’s plight and determination. “You are to be congratulated for your hard work and optimistic outlook on what must be a difficult situation,” the letter said.
That September, Williamson went back to school.
“It changed my life,” says Williamson, now 59. “Not only my life, but my kids’ lives.”
Williamson grew up in a working-class family in the Beach neighbourhood — “before it became trendy,” she says. Her mother was employed at a greeting card factory. Her father worked in a grocery store warehouse.
In the years after the U of T preparatory program, Williamson started working toward a university degree as a part-time student, tripled her salary, lifted her family out of poverty and fulfilled her dream of becoming a teacher.
Williamson graduated from York University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1999. She has built a career as a corporate workplace educator. She owns a home. She has travelled to Japan and South Africa. She worked for seven years as an instructor at diamond mines in the Northwest Territories and northern Ontario. Last year, she received a master’s degree in education from Athabasca University.
Her achievements brought about a welcome boost in confidence, a shedding of the powerlessness Williamson had felt her whole life. “When you have no money, you feel like everything around you controls what you do,” she says.
The 1980s were marked by sacrifice and hardship. Williamson caulked the baseboards in her low-rent apartments to keep the cockroaches away, and the kids made a game out of how many they could kill. She worked all day and studied at night.
“Subsidized daycare was a lifesaver for me,” she says. “It allowed me to work.”
She spent weekends preparing meals for the week and sewing clothes for her son and daughter. Friday-night pizza at the laundromat was the family’s only treat. She took the kids skating, tobogganing, out for picnics — anything that was free.
“The necessities were always there but she never let us know that there was a huge struggle behind that,” says her daughter, Jennifer Williamson.
In tough times, Williamson would rent a booth at a flea market and sell her own clothing for extra cash. In desperate times, she’d sell the furniture.
“That was the reality,” she says. “You knew it was different from other people but you didn’t dwell on it. There wasn’t time to because you just had to push yourself so hard.”
None of the change came easy, and the scholarship only got things started. Williamson herself was the driving force behind the shift in her life trajectory.It took her 14 years to get her undergraduate degree. She paid her own way through the first seven years at U of T, and then transferred to York after getting a job at the university that came with tuition reimbursement. She did it all while working full time.
Williamson’s children now have kids and jobs of their own. Jennifer, 41, is an outreach worker with Brantford Native Housing. Chris, 40, is a building superintendent in Scarborough. Adult life has given them a greater appreciation for everything their mother has done for them.
“She put us on the right path and she did a great job in raising us,” says Chris. “There are a lot of other people out there who don’t get that love and compassion.”
Chris admires his mother’s determination and work ethic, but worries that she doesn’t get enough time to herself. Williamson commutes four hours a day for her job, leaving her Oshawa home by 5 a.m. and returning after 7 p.m. “She’s a workaholic,” Chris says.
Williamson has been financially stable for decades now, but the fear of spiralling back into poverty remains with her.
“It is so close to the surface still,” she says. “And in fact I think that’s the reason I work so hard because I never, ever want to go back there.”
For all that she has achieved, Williamson’s proudest moment isn’t an academic or career accomplishment. One day seven years ago, Jennifer, who was studying at Mohawk College at the time, told Williamson that an instructor had asked the class to participate in a project for International Women’s Day that involved posing for a photo holding a card with the name of the woman who most inspired them.
“Jennifer showed me the picture and her card said ‘My mom,’ ” Williamson says. She can’t tell the story without crying.
Jennifer says her mother’s determination has rubbed off on her, and she’s grateful for it.
“She’s my hero. For being a young woman raising two children by herself and continuing to have that drive, that ambition to not be stuck in that cycle. She broke the cycle. For us.”
Read more on the Star’s 125th anniversary in Saturday’s special Insight section and at www.thestar.com/anniversary.
A Star story and a single mom’s relentless drive helped break cycle of poverty
In a rare move, a Toronto man will face a third trial for the same murder.
“The Crown is intending to proceed with this prosecution,” Crown attorney Julie Battersby told a Superior Court judge Wednesday, in the case of Warren Nigel Abbey, who was sitting in the prisoner's box.
Abbey is accused of first-degree murder in the execution-style shooting death of Simeon Peter, 19, in Scarborough in 2004. His lawyer declined to comment to the Star on Wednesday.
Abbey was acquitted at his first trial in 2007, but after the Crown appealed, he was tried a second time in 2011, at which point he was found guilty. Then Abbey appealed, and last summer, the Ontario Court of Appeal ordered that he should face a new trial.
The decision to proceed to a third trial was ultimately at the discretion of the Crown, which could have chosen to withdraw the charge. The new trial may prove to be an uphill battle for prosecutors, who find themselves without a key part of their evidence against Abbey following the Court of Appeal ruling in August.
The Crown had alleged at Abbey's second trial that he was an associate of the Malvern Crew gang who shot and killed Peter, mistakenly believing he was a member of the rival Galloway Boys, and that Abbey had a teardrop tattooed under his right eye about four months later.
Testifying for the Crown, sociologist Mark Totten said a teardrop tattoo meant one of three things: the individual had lost a loved one or fellow gang member, had spent time in prison or had killed a rival gang member.
But Ontario's top court came down hard on Totten in their ruling overturning Abbey's conviction. After the defence raised “fresh evidence” — issues surrounding Totten's research and testimony — the court found Totten's testimony contained “inaccuracies” and even “falsehoods.”
A three-judge panel found his evidence “unreliable,” that he “misrepresented” the sample size of gang members in some of his studies, and that statistics he provided on the stand about gang members with teardrop tattoos are nowhere to be found in his studies.
“I have concluded that the fresh evidence shows Totten's opinion evidence on the meaning of a teardrop tattoo to be too unreliable to be heard by a jury. If the trial judge had known about the fresh evidence he would have ruled Totten's evidence inadmissible,” Court of Appeal Justice John Laskin wrote for the panel.
“And the absence of Totten's evidence would reasonably be expected to have affected the jury's verdict. I would admit the fresh evidence, allow Abbey's appeal, overturn his conviction and order a new trial.”
Indeed, at Abbey's first trial, the Crown was barred by the judge from having Totten give evidence, and the jury ended up acquitting Abbey.
There is other Crown evidence, but Laskin noted in his ruling that the rest of the Crown's case “was not overly strong,” and included poor eyewitness testimony and “problematic” evidence from three Malvern Crew members whose testimony implicated Abbey. Two of them testified in exchange for being granted immunity on a number of serious offences, while the third member refused to testify at the second trial.
It was ironic that the Court of Appeal ordered a third trial due to Totten's evidence, given the fact that it was the Court of Appeal — albeit a different panel of judges — that allowed the Crown's appeal and ordered a second trial in 2009, finding that Totten should have been allowed to give evidence on teardrop tattoos. (The issues about Totten's evidence that were before the top court this year were not before it in 2009.)
Writing for a unanimous three-judge panel in 2009, Justice David Doherty said that viewed cumulatively, Totten's evidence along with the evidence of Malvern Crew members about the meaning of teardrop tattoos “could reasonably present a compelling picture for the Crown.”
“I do not suggest that a jury would necessarily take that view of the excluded evidence,” he wrote. “I say only that a reasonable jury could take that view. If it did, the verdict could very well be different.”
And it was. Abbey was convicted of first-degree murder by a jury at his second trial in 2011, and sentenced to life in prison without chance of parole for 25 years.
A date for his third trial will be set Dec. 5.
Ten years after he was acquitted, this Toronto man faces a third trial for the same murderTen years after he was acquitted, this Toronto man faces a third trial for the same murder
The family of a Toronto man who was declared brain dead after suffering an asthma attack has obtained a temporary injunction to keep him on life support while it fights to have his death certificate revoked on religious grounds.
Shalom Ouanounou’s father, who is also his substitute decision-maker, filed an application with the court arguing that the 25-year-old is not dead under the laws of Orthodox Judaism, the faith he practises.
The injunction granted Wednesday means Ouaounou will be kept on a ventilator and feeding tube as the family challenges the existing medical guidelines that lay out when a person is considered brain dead, the family’s lawyer said after a hearing in a Toronto court.
Hugh Scher said the decision comes as a great relief to the family. “They were going to pull the plug tomorrow,” he said.
The crux of the case is whether the Canadian guidelines on brain death should make accommodations for those whose religion “precludes and rejects the idea, the notion of brain death,” Scher said.
Similar accommodations are built into the legal definition of death in some parts of the U.S., including New York State and New Jersey, he said.
The established Canadian guidelines define death as the irreversible cessation of brain function and of the capacity to breathe, while Orthodox Judaism considers death to be complete cardiac and respiratory failure, according to the family’s application.
The application argues that disregarding those beliefs would represent a serious assault on Ouanounou’s human dignity and religious liberty. “Shalom would suffer the ultimate irreparable harm in the event that this application is not granted,” the document says.
“He would be declared dead in a manner contrary to his religious values and would be deprived of accommodation of his most fundamental constitutional and human rights when he is most dependent on them.”
Ouanounou, 25, had an asthma attack at home on Sept. 27 and was taken by ambulance to Humber River Hospital, where he was placed on a respirator, the document says.
Three days later, doctors determined that he met the standards for death by neurological criteria, better known as brain death, it says. A death certificate was issued shortly afterward.
Ouanounou’s family is not asking that he be kept on life support indefinitely and is aware that he could meet his religion’s definition of death before the case is resolved, Scher said.
Nonetheless, the lawyer said, “both the family and the community are committed to having this question addressed because it does have broader implications.”
The hospital did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Family of Toronto man declared brain dead says finding goes against his religion
Unlicensed group homes put the safety of already vulnerable residents at risk and the province needs to act, critics said Wednesday amid news one was shut down after a blaze broke out.
“It’s a miracle no one was hurt, because Toronto Fire Services said that the unlicensed home failed numerous fire code inspections,” said NDP MPP Lisa Gretzky (Windsor West).
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said it is usually left to municipalities or fire departments “to bring some regulation to these places — the government needs to step up” and build more supportive housing as well as provide “mental health and addictions supports to people who need it.
“So all of these things then leave people desperate for a place to live with the supports they need to be able to function … after 14 years (of Liberal governments) we still have this form of housing, that is really not safe and in many ways a bit exploitative of the people who live there.”
At the legislature, Premier Kathleen Wynne called the situation “a tragedy that needs to be addressed.”
“We will certainly look into the specifics of this situation,” she said. “The reality is that there are people who are living — in situations … where the regulation of their living situation is not always as clear as it should be. This is something that we are tackling. It’s something that we know needs more work, and we will continue to work with the municipality to make sure that the proper rules and the supports are in place.”
The Scarborough home, at 108 Fawcett Trail, was among a group of unlicensed facilities investigated by the Ontario Provincial Police last year, which found “deplorable” and unsafe living conditions. However, the decision was made to keep the homes open because the residents had nowhere else to go.
Under the Long-Term Homes Care Act, nursing home care cannot be provided in a residential home to two or more people without a licence.
However, the OPP probe found that patients were being discharged from hospital to such unlicensed homes because they were the only option for some, typically the elderly or those suffering mental health issues.
The Fawcett Trail home had been ordered, in prior inspections, to boost fire safety systems and Toronto’s deputy fire chief said more charges are to be laid.
Six people who live at the home, who are elderly or suffering from mental health issues, were able to flee the home during the fire and were not injured, reports the Star’s Betsy Powell.
The home is part of a chain and the operator told the Star the fire was caused not by safety issues but because a resident stuffed newspapers into a heating vent.
Health Minister Eric Hoskins said the issue involves a number of ministries as well as municipalities and “it’s a very serious problem and I know that the various ministries involved will be getting together to look at it in more detail as to how to approach it.”
Province urged to act on unlicensed group homes
After a turbulent start to their relationship, the Islamic Foundation of Toronto School and the union representing its elementary school teachers have negotiated a contract that will be put to members this week.
The Islamic Foundation of Toronto School (IFS), based in east Toronto, was one of the first private Islamic schools in the GTA to unionize this year. The school issued a news release over the weekend announcing the “collective agreement” and thanking all parties for their “hard work, support and patience during this long and demanding process.”
The 28 unionized employees with IFS will vote on the contract on Thursday, said United Food and Commercial Workers union representative Jehan Ahamed, who said they will be “recommending the deal to their membership.”
Earlier in September, tensions between UFCW and IFS came to a head, after the IFS abruptly shut down its decades-old high school days before the term was to begin, after talks between the two parties failed.
The school insisted the closure was unrelated to the talks, and cited financial issues and low enrolment instead.
But the union called the high school closure a form of “reprisal” against recently unionized employees, and filed a complaint with the Ontario Labour Board
Ahamed said the two parties initiated mediation, and after a few marathon bargaining sessions in October, they came to a tentative agreement.
“The treatment of the employees, in regard to respect, all comes down to language — and we are really happy with what we have achieved in terms of language,” he said, adding he could not give more details until after Thursday’s vote.
Previously, the union said the full-time teachers sought union representation to address issues including “a lack of respect in the workplace, time limits on vacations, poor job security, and an inadequate compensation package.”
Akbar Warsi, vice president of IFS, said he could not comment “pending ratification by employees.”
The union said it has also asked IFS to “explore and work toward the feasibility of re-opening IFS high school,” even though many of the students have moved on to other schools.
Ahamed said the outcome of these negotiations has caught the attention of Islamic schools across the GTA, many of whom are watching to see how things play out there.
He said negotiations are still underway with the management at Islamic Institute of Toronto, another Islamic school that also saw its teaching staff unionize this year.
“Coming to an agreement is a good thing for all, the students, the community, the parents and the teachers,” he said. “Everyone in the community has been impacted by the closure of the high school, and they are looking forward to see a good outcome.”
Islamic school finds common ground with teachers’ union
Ontarians have a bad habit to break when it comes to coffee — and they need some help, says Progressive Conservative MPP Norm Miller.
He’s pushing for all parties at Queens’ Park to support a law requiring every single-use coffee pods sold in Ontario to be compostable within four years so they can be tossed into the green bin as soon as the cup of joe is brewed.
The goal is to keep more of the 1.5 billion pods used annually in Canada out of garbage dumps.
“Ontario has a waste problem,” said Miller (Parry Sound-Muskoka) Wednesday before presenting his private members’ bill. He cited a recent warning from the province’s environmental commissioner.
While some companies, including Loblaw, McDonald’s and Muskoka Roastery Coffee Co., sell java in compostable Keurig-style pods, the majority of pods sold in Ontario are made elsewhere and are not recyclable or compostable, Miller said.
He cited compostable pods, developed by Toronto-based Club Coffee with the University of Guelph’s bioproducts development centre, as a model for the rest of the fast-growing single-serve coffee industry.
“It’s a Canadian invention,” said Miller, downplaying any concerns his bill would involve “too much regulation” for business.
“It’s a positive regulation . . . . It simplifies things for business as well.”
The compostable pods are made from plant materials and skins from reclaimed coffee beans. They bio-degrade about five weeks.
Claudio Gemmiti of Club Coffee told a news conference that single-serve coffee pods are a fast-growing part of the market, making the key to waste reduction, on this front, a solution “without the consumer having to change their behaviour.”
Recyclable pods are “finicky” to deal with because the cap must be torn off and the coffee grounds rinsed out and the plastic cup thrown in the blue bin, Miller said.
Eliminating them and filling the market with compostable pods would enable more municipal waste systems to accept all pods, he said. The Club Coffee-made compostable PurPod100s are approved for composting in Muskoka, Orillia, Peel, Guelph and Niagara, he added.
“Municipalities are hesitant to accept compostable coffee pods into their compost systems because they are afraid that confused consumers will attempt to compost non-compostalbe coffee pods . . . contaminating the compost and driving up costs.”
Doug Burns of Muskoka Roastery said compostable pods can be part of “the next wave of sustainability.”
Miller’s bill will be debated in the Legislature on Nov. 23.
Private members’ bills are rarely passed, but, if Miller’s effort becomes law, Ontario would be the first jurisdiction in North America to require compostable coffee pods.
MPP wants to ban non-compostable coffee pods
The Toronto Police Service is dabbling in the news industry, launching a short weekday newscast as part of what it calls an ongoing effort to communicate with the public and officers alike.
Starting Thursday, the force will broadcast a three-minute newscast to “talk about what we do here at the Toronto police directly and unfiltered,” according to a promotional video the service released this week. The show will “air” on YouTube and its social media networks at 10 a.m. each weekday.
Meaghan Gray, spokesperson for the Toronto police, said Wednesday that the show is a natural progression from some of the existing communication initiatives, including their website and social media accounts.
Among its objectives is to “dispel urban myth that crime is everywhere in the city every day,” the video says. That information will be drawn from the Toronto Police operations centre, which tweets out the various calls and occurrences officers respond to throughout the day.
The show will be a chance to provide information about what may have occurred crime-wise in the city overnight or the previous day, “but it’s also an opportunity for us to highlight various projects or initiatives or individuals,” Gray said.
The show will not cost any extra money, Gray said, because it’s using resources already available within the corporate communications section of Toronto police.
That includes media-relations officers who are already working to provide journalists with information about breaking crime news in the city. Those officers will be the hosts, at least in the early days of the show, she said.
Toronto police daily newscast will provide ‘unfiltered’ information
It was the end of “Mueller Monday,” a bruising day for U.S. President Donald Trump, and all eyes were on John Kelly, Trump’s chief of staff, the man some media called “the adult in the room” to comment on the shocking developments.
Days later, nobody remembers what Kelly had to say about the federal indictments of Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and Robert Gates, accused of money laundering and committing crimes against the United States, among many charges.
What caused shock waves were his views on the Civil War, which he attributed not to slavery, but a “lack of an ability to compromise,” on Fox News. “And men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had to make their stand.”
Very fine people, on both sides.
Even the descendant of Confederate general Robert E. Lee said Kelly would be better off keeping Trump “from tweeting and enacting racist policies, rather than engaging in a debate over the racist past of the South.”
Kelly’s insistence of goodness on both sides of the Civil War isn’t about the nitty-gritty of historical facts. It’s a declaration of principles that underpin this administration’s motives. If you diminish slavery, you can deny racism.
With his fiction-based revisionism, Kelly prised the Lost Cause out of the grasp of academia and gave it a White House stamp of approval.
His views aren’t surprising. As a section of the population knows, these attitudes have always existed when it comes to racism.
A few years ago, I was at dinner at someone’s house when another person showed up without her husband. “He’s at home with a friend,” she explained awkwardly. “And the friend is nice, really nice . . . he’s just um . . . he’s just a little ah . . . he’s kind of racist.”
I’ve come to learn that nice racists are those who are capable of pleasantness only to white people.
This is a learning of epiphanic proportions that I’ve since placed at the root of the good-people-on-both-sides argument.
Anybody who has tried to speak out against racism knows the conversation goes something like this: “Your boot is on my neck, take it off.” The response: “Are you saying I’m not a good person?”
This is why systemic police brutality against racialized and Indigenous people is dismissed as individual instances of a few bad apples.
Discriminatory hiring is passed off as meritocracy. The best were hired, they just happen to be mostly white.
Racist Halloween costumes find the good-at-heart defence: Meant no harm.
Historical figures: Flawed heroes. Also, don’t apply today’s values on them. Orchestrating famines, owning people, killing, kidnapping, mutilating, raping them were the norm. Not criminal or abusive at all.
Thus the cycle continues. We were good people. We are good people.
It’s an instinct that television host Stephen Colbert could not resist Tuesday night when he lambasted Kelly’s words on the Civil War on his show, then said, “Or maybe, Kelly knows better, and is just being wilfully ignorant. Because as the chief of staff, he’s now forced to defend the positions of an idiot.”
Can you hear it, too? Kelly just might be a good person in a bad spot.
In the context of the Civil War, this desire to be labelled good isn’t just a Southern fetish.
“One of the biggest myths,” the New York Times Magazine journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones told the podcast Uncivil, “is that the North is not implicated in slavery. That somehow, if your ancestors lived in the North, you have clean hands.”
Slavery caused the Civil War, but it doesn’t mean the North was fighting to stop it. “They were fighting to preserve the Union, which isn’t the same thing,” she said.
Slavery enriched all the states. The cotton produced by forced Black labour fuelled the Industrial Revolution in the textile-producing North, she said, and it implicated every industry, from shipbuilding to banking.
The Emancipation Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln — considered the good guy in all this — did not in fact, free all slaves. It only freed those who were in places that had left the union. A slave owner living in a state that was in the union could keep his slaves.
Forget both sides, there were no good guys in the Civil War. There were victims, who passed their spirit of resistance to their progeny.
It’s they who have become an inconvenient truth challenging a self-woven narrative of goodness. That explains this fact-free revisionism.
Shree Paradkar writes about discrimination and identity. You can follow her @shreeparadkar
John Kelly’s words on Civil War were a declaration of racist principles: Paradkar
Canada will raise its annual immigrant intake by about 13 per cent to 340,000 by 2020 under a multi-year plan unveiled by Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen on Wednesday.
The plan will bring the country’s yearly immigration level to 0.9 per cent of the population, up slightly from its current 0.8 per cent level, in order to offset the economic effects of an aging population and low birth rate.
In 2017, Canada has a population of 36.5 million people and will welcome an estimated 300,000 newcomers.
However, the 2020 target still falls far short of the 450,000 level recommended by the federal government’s own economic advisory council as the Liberals carefully manage the often sensitive and divisive immigration file.
Under its 2018 immigration plan, the government will phase in the increase over three years by raising the intake initially to 310,000 next year and 330,000 in 2019 before reaching the 340,000 target in 2020.
Sixty per cent, or 48,000 of the additional spots over the next three years, will be reserved for economic-class immigrants such as investors and skilled workers. The rest will be split among refugees and newcomers in the family class — spouses, parents and grandparents.
“The increase is to meet Canada’s ever-growing demand for skilled labour. We will continue to wisely use immigration as a tool to power our economy,” Hussen told the Star in an interview.
“The multi-year planning will ensure predictability and stability for provinces and cities to plan ahead and do their parts. We are proud of this plan.”
According to government data, there were 6.6 people of working age for each senior in 1971. By 2012, the worker-to-retiree ratio had dropped to 4.2 to 1, with projections that put the ratio at 2 to 1 by 2036, when five million Canadians are set to retire. More than 80 per cent of the immigrants admitted to Canada have been under 45 years of age.
Immigration alone cannot solve the demographic challenge, but can alleviate the negative effects by maintaining economic growth and social infrastructure such as health care, public pensions and other social programs.
“Canada’s economic growth is high and we can afford to absorb more immigrants. We do need more immigrants to continue our strong growth. With new immigrants, there’s the demand for properties and goods, new payroll taxes,” said immigration policy analyst and lawyer Richard Kurland.
“There will always be backlash. The reality is we’ve passed the tipping point. The label of visible minority really has no meaning any more with so many Canadians being foreign-born.”
Kareem El-Assal, the Conference Board of Canada’s senior associate researcher on immigration, said a multi-year plan is much better than the traditional “tap-on-tap-off” approach to immigration intake because it allows local communities to plan for housing, transportation and social programs based on longer-term immigration forecast.
The last time the Canadian government introduced a multi-year immigration plan was from 1982 to 1984 but it was quickly scrapped after the country was hit by a recession, he said.
“A 1 per cent increase is prudent,” said El-Assal. “We need the resources, strategic investment and public support in place. It is in line with our research at the Conference Board of Canada.”
The 2016 census found 22 per cent of the Canadian population is foreign-born while the same ratio identified themselves as visible minorities. In Toronto, 51.5 per cent said they are from visible minority communities.
In Markham, where 80 per cent of residents are visible minorities, news of Canada’s increased immigration intake was well received.
“We view our diversity as an absolute strength. New Canadians have created economic prosperity,” said Mayor Frank Scarpitti. “We know employers are looking for a diverse and talented workforce. From a city point of view, that positions us well as Canada’s high-tech capital.”
With more immigration, Hussen said the government will invest additional resources to process the increase in applications and in immigrant settlement services.
Refugee advocacy groups were disappointed that the annual immigration level will be lower than the 360,000 they had been lobbying the government to adopt. Refugees make up 13 per cent of the newcomers to Canada anticipated in 2017.
“We have an opportunity to offer protection to more people who are in desperate need, people who are fleeing for their lives,” said Loly Rico, president of the Canadian Council for Refugees.
“Opening our doors to more refugees is not only the right thing to do because it saves lives, it is also good for Canada as refugees contribute in so many ways to our country.”
Currently, 63 per cent of newcomers come under the economic class, 24 per cent through family reunification and the rest as refugees or on humanitarian grounds.
Canadian government to raise annual immigration intake by 13% by 2020
A portion of Highway 400 near Bradford remained closed late Wednesday afternoon following a deadly multi-vehicle collision that caused a massive explosion Tuesday night, killing at least three people.
“We continue to work on identifying the victims inside the vehicles,” Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said from the scene. “We are in the process of separating some of the vehicles to get a better look inside to see how many more victims that have maybe not yet been identified.”
OPP said the fiery crash happened around 11:30 p.m. between County Rd. 88 and Hwy. 89. Schmidt said 14 vehicles were involved in the crash, including two fully loaded fuel tankers and three transport trucks.
Schmidt said the crash occurred about an hour after another collision, about one kilometre up the road, which involved three vehicles and had slowed the traffic along the highway. He said one of the fuel tankers approaching the area where traffic had slowed appeared to have crashed through other vehicles, setting off a chain reaction.
“The sky was clear, it was dark, obviously, at the time . . . no issues on the road surface for visibility,” Schmidt said, adding police will be looking at possible mechanical issues as well as any possible human factors.
The fuel tankers exploded on impact, Schmidt said. Video footage from the scene posted on social media showed towering flames and explosions.
“It is absolutely a devastating scene. It is something I’ve never seen in my career,” Schmidt said of the crash site, which had twisted metal and unrecognizable debris scattered across the highway.
Due to the massive blaze, Schmidt said investigators are having difficulty identifying the victims and collecting evidence.
“We’re dealing with a massive scene . . . fire, explosions, and just absolute carnage and devastation,” Schmidt said. “The temperatures that were achieved in this crash were apocalyptic.”
All lanes of Hwy. 400 were closed in both directions between County Rd. 88 and Hwy. 89. Closures will likely last until Thursday morning, Schmidt said.
The intense heat may have also damaged the highway. Schmidt said it may need repaving before it will be open traffic.
Schmidt said several people were taken to hospital. Their injuries are considered non life-threatening.
Witnesses told police that some people were seen running away from the scene as the “wall of fire” consumed all the vehicles. Schmidt said it took emergency services at least 2 ½ hours to extinguish the fire. He added that “fire departments from every service in the region” teamed up to tame the blaze.
Luba Zariczny was travelling south on Hwy. 400 toward her home in Mississauga when she arrived at the scene about five minutes after the explosion.
“I could see fuel tankers as well as multiple vehicles completely engulfed in flames and a lot of them completely burnt up,” Zariczny told the Star. “There was a lot of black smoke covering the sky.”
She decided to pull over to make a video of the fiery crash.
“It was frightening,” Zariczny said. “I felt pain for the people and families that were involved.”
Paul Novosad, a freelance photographer who observed first responders battling the blaze, counted about 26 fire trucks swarming over the scene in what he described as a well co-ordinated effort.
“The fire was just spectacular. It kept blowing up, the diesel,” he said. “The heat must have been incredible.”
OPP Commissioner Vince Hawkes visited the crash site and said the collision could have been 100 times worst based on the devastation he have seen.
“It is a miracle that we don’t have 25 lives, 25 bodies down there,” Hawkes said.
According to preliminary information he received, the driver of the truck that smashed into a queue of vehicles never stopped. He said the portion of the highway, where it happened, is straight and going downhill so there is no reason for the driver to not slow down.
“These trucks are, in essence, missiles travelling down the highway,” said Hawkes. “The trend seems to be getting worse.”
The OPP will work with the public, transportation ministry, and the trucking industry to push and to enhance their strategy to prevent a collision with this magnitude from happening, Hawkes said.
At Queen’s Park, Progressive Conservative MPP Michael Harris (Kitchener-Conestoga) called on the province to set up a task force of experts to investigate ways to cut down on the number of “preventable” deadly crashes on 400-series highways.
“People are becoming more and more nervous getting on the highway,” Harris told reporters, calling on the government to table promised legislation with increased penalties for careless and distracted driving.
“We need to up our game on enforcement.”
Premier Kathleen Wynne expressed her condolences to the victims’ families, calling the accident “a horrible, horrible tragedy.”
“We will in the aftermath of this collision, obviously we will look at what happened, we will be advised on whether there’s more that could have been done to prevent such a crash,” she said.
“Any death on the highway that is preventable should be prevented. And so we will continue to work to make sure that we do everything that is possible to prevent this kind of tragedy happening again.”
Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca said motorists need to use common sense and that involves “leaving a safe distance between yourself and the vehicle in front of you. You shouldn’t be distracted at any point in time you should be focused on the task at hand and obeying the rules of the road.”
He called the fiery Hwy. 400 crash Tuesday night “particularly horrific.”
The stretch of the highway where the crash happened has been under construction for months.
As recently as last week, provincial police were highlighting the dangerous nature of accidents involving commercial transport trucks.
The force said it has responded to more than 5,000 such collisions this year, with 67 people killed. In the two previous years, OPP tracked 13,668 crashes involving commercial transport trucks that killed a total of 155 people.
The Ontario Trucking Association said last week that the industry is committed to road safety, noting that there has been a 66 per cent decrease in the fatality rate from large truck collisions between 1995 and 2014 despite a 75 per cent rise in large truck vehicle registrations.
Mike Millian of the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada said the public should avoid jumping into conclusions on the cause of the crash. But he said the trucking industry is working with all their partners in creating a safety plan.
“We as an industry, no matter whose at fault, need to do whatever we can to work together with the MTO, with the police, and with the general public to do what we can to make sure our roadways are safe,” Millian said.
The OPP recommends that drivers use Yonge St. and Hwy. 27 as alternate routes during the closure.
With files from Rob Ferguson, Robert Benzie and The Canadian Press
At least three people dead following collision, explosion on Highway 400At least three people dead following collision, explosion on Highway 400
The childhood friends from Argentina had been planning the trip to New York City for years.
The men all hailed from Rosario, Argentina’s third largest city, about 300 kilometre northwest of Buenos Aires. As teenagers, they had bonded in the halls and classrooms of the Instituto Politecnico, a technical high school in Rosario, and graduated together from there in 1987.
Through the decades — despite job changes, marriage, children, moves to far-flung corners of the world — they remained close friends. And on Saturday, eight of the former classmates gathered to fly to the United States to celebrate their 30th graduation anniversary.
They were in their late 40s now, firmly in the realm of middle age. But as they posed for a photograph just before their departure, the old friends slung their arms over one another and grinned like schoolkids. They donned matching white T-shirts emblazoned with the same word: “LIBRE.” Free.
It is unclear when exactly they arrived in New York; they had planned to stop in Boston, to meet up with another former classmate. But what is certain is that on Tuesday — a beautiful, brisk fall afternoon in Manhattan — the men rode bicycles along a bike path flanking the Hudson River.
As they pedalled along the West Side Highway, a white rented Home Depot truck turned onto the path as well.
The truck would soon plow into a crowd of pedestrians and cyclists, killing at least eight people — including five of the Argentine men. At least one other former classmate from the group was injured.
The Home Depot truck would later careen into a small school bus, injuring four more inside, officials said.
After leaving behind a trail of chaos, the 29-year-old driver of the truck was shot and arrested by police, ending what authorities described as a terrorist attack. Officials said the suspected attacker, Sayfullo Saipov, left a note pledging his allegiance to Daesh, also known as ISIS and ISIL. New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Saipov was believed to be a lone wolf who was “radicalized domestically” after moving to the United States from Uzbekistan six years ago.
The brazen daytime attack, which took place less than 10 blocks from the World Trade Center and 9/11 Memorial, sent shock waves through the city — but also thousands of miles away, as friends and family in Argentina coped with the sudden loss of five of their own.
The Argentine Foreign Ministry identified the five dead Argentine nationals as Hernan Diego Mendoza, Diego Enrique Angelini, Alejandro Damian Pagnucco, Ariel Erlij and Hernan Ferruchi. The New York Police Department said all of the men were 47, except for Erlij, who was 48.
The others killed in the attack were American and Belgian, said police, who identified those victims as Darren Drake, 32, of New Milford, N.J.; Nicholas Cleves, 23, of New York; and Anne Laure Decadt, 31, of Belgium.
The Argentine Foreign Ministry said a sixth member of the group of friends from Rosario, Martin Ludovico Marro, suffered injuries and was hospitalized in the Presbyterian Hospital of Manhattan. He is in stable condition, the government said, citing medical officials.
“They were five young entrepreneurs, model citizens in Rosario society,” said Argentina’s president, Mauricio Macri, in Buenos Aires. “We all must stand together in the fight against terrorism.”
The mayor of Rosario declared flags to be flown at half-staff for three days of mourning, according to the city’s local newspaper, La Capital.
It was Erlij, 48, who had organized the reunion trip for the classmates, paying for those who couldn’t afford it, according to Mary Bensuley, a longtime family friend. Erlij was a well-known Argentine businessman who owned Ivanar, an iron and steel works company.
“I can say the family has a great spirit of solidarity,” Bensuley told The Post. “Their trip was to mark the 30-year anniversary after graduation ... They’re great people. They have a good economic position, and they were always offering to help.”
She described Erlij’s family as “devastated.” Like many Argentines on Wednesday, Bensuley was having a hard time processing the motivation for the attack.
“Here, everyone lives in peace, and religion has never been a big subject of conversation,” she said in a Facebook message. “There are big debates about politics and soccer, but religion? Not really. We’re Catholics and we have Jewish, atheist and Mormon friends. Muslim friends, too. Our pain is for the innocent and unjust deaths of people who have nothing to do with the craziness that brought people trapped by their fundamentalist ideas to cause such terrible damage.”
Erlij was at the airport in Rosario on Saturday, but did not depart with the group, instead catching up with the others in New York on a private flight the following day, according to the Argentine newspaper Clarin.
Erlij’s friend, Luciano D’Amelio, told The Washington Post he was successful and generous, a gym buff who made time for workouts despite his busy life. Erlij was Jewish, though his wife was not, D’Amelio said. The couple had three children, she said.
“I’m still in shock,” D’Amelio said in a Facebook message. “The incident really hit us. Never in our wildest imaginations did we think something like this could happen.”
Jose Lo Menzo, another one of Erlij’s friends, described him as an “excellent person and father” who was also very intelligent.
“(Erlij) studied in a public, middle-class school, and he managed to become a successful businessman, without forgetting about his friends,” he said. “It is a loss without meaning.”
At least two of the victims, Ferruchi and Angelini, were architects, according to La Nacion.
Ornee Pagnucco, 18, one of the three daughters of victim Alejandro Pagnucco, told The Post the 48-year-old and his friends had been planning their reunion trip for more than a year. Alejandro Pagnucco worked for a construction materials company and had never travelled much, but he saw New York as iconic. Visiting the city, she said, had been his “dream.”
After her father left, he sent photos of his hotel room and selfies of him walking through New York’s streets, Ornee Pagnucco said. She added she knew terrorist attacks had happened there but never considered them a serious risk.
“We’re shattered,” she said. “It’s been really hard.”
Early Wednesday, a friend of Pagnucco posted a Facebook tribute to “a good student and son, a great worker.”
“(The attacker) did not care who you were, did not care about the three beautiful daughters you have. Nor your dear brothers,” Gustavo Repizo wrote on behalf of his late friend. “You destroyed a family that was not interested in the religious or monetary problems of the world.”
“Picho,” Repizo added, using a nickname for his friend, “was a person of peace.”
Cecilia Piedrabuena, the wife of Ariel Benvenuto — one of the Argentines who survived the attack — told Rosario’s Radio LT8 her husband had been bicycling behind the others when “he felt something go past by him.”
“He saw (the attacker’s van) veer toward five of his friends,” Piedrabuena told the radio station. “He said it was going at more than 150 kilometres per hour … terrible.”
Her husband had called her from New York shortly after the attack; she listened to him in disbelief, she said, unable to grasp what had happened at first because it wasn’t yet on the news.
Piedrabuena described the group of Argentines as being the “10 closest friends from high school.” They saw each other frequently, she said, at least a few times a year. They had planned the trip for this year because Erlij had offered to pay for those couldn’t afford it, she told Radio LT8.
Their plan that day, Piedrabuena said, had been to bicycle through Central Park, and then over the Brooklyn Bridge.
“They didn’t make it,” she told the radio station.
Estefania Garcia, a Rosario resident and alumna of the high school, told The Post she knows Marro, the man currently hospitalized for injuries from the attack, and spoke with his sister-in-law Tuesday night.
Though details behind the photo of the men in matching T-shirts were not yet confirmed, Garcia said it was “no coincidence that they wore T-shirts with the inscription ‘free.’”
“Freedom” is one of the essential values taught at their alma mater, Garcia said. She described it as a tight-knit community that leads to lasting friendships. It has a demanding curriculum, with long days of workshops, meaning classmates become very close. She said she was not surprised to hear that a group of alumni were still close friends, three decades after graduating. Garcia herself remains very close with her friends from the high school.
“We all love it,” she said. “Graduates live all over the world.”
Marro is a longtime U.S. resident living in the Boston suburb of Newton, and he works as a biomedical researcher at Novartis Institutes in Cambridge, according to Newton City Council member James Cote.
Cote, a Republican, said Marro hosted a fundraiser for him last week that was also attended by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker. Cote said Marro and his wife, an architect, “are not political people” but had offered to host the event because Marro’s wife is a friend of Cote’s wife, who is also from Argentina.
Marro has two sons in elementary school in Newton, Cote said, and Marro coaches soccer.
“They are very nice, very quiet people,” said Cote. “They were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Mendoza was remembered for being an athlete in his youth who never lost his love of sports.
“I had him as a player for many years, before he became an architect,” Salvador Capitano, technical director of Renato Cesarini, a soccer school and club in Rosario, said in an interview via Twitter. “Throughout his career, we maintained a close relationship. He was an exceptional person in every aspect. A father of three children, he was very happy bringing his son to play soccer. He was a simple, nice and honest person.”
The Argentine government expressed its “sincere condolences” and said its consulate remains in contact with police authorities, hospital staff and the victim’s relatives in Argentina.
“We accompany the families in this terrible moment of deep pain, which all Argentines share,” the government statement read.
On the Instituto Politécnico campus, students planned a candlelight vigil Wednesday night in memory of the group of “Poli” alums who died.
“It hurts us as students, because they took the same steps as us,” Agustín Riccardi, president of the student centre at the Instituto Politecnico, told The Post. “We are all hurting. It’s a very close community. Everyone has a family member who went to ‘Poli.’”
Ricardo Berlot thought it was a bad joke Wednesday morning when he read a WhatsApp message saying five of those killed in the Manhattan attack were “rosarinos” — from Rosario, his hometown. In fact, they were from the same school he had graduated from 30 years earlier and where Berlot is now a teacher. The victims had been students in his computing class.
“What happened affects us as if we were all of one body,” said Berlot, 58, speaking to the press outside the school on Wednesday. “At this institution, we create strong bonds ... It’s absolutely normal that former students get together for an ‘asado’ (Argentine-style barbecue) and to talk about the school.”
They went to New York to celebrate their 30-year high school reunion. Five were killed in Tuesday’s bike path attack
A publicly funded building that opened two years ago is inaccessible to people with disabilities and is another example of how weak provincial regulations are failing to ensure new buildings can be used by everyone, says a Toronto lawyer.
Ryerson University’s $112-million Student Learning Centre is dangerous for people with disabilities, advocate David Lepofsky says.
Lepofsky released a video showing how Ryerson’s building poses what he says are risks for people with blindness, low vision, mobility disabilities, dyslexia and balance issues.
The video follows Lepofsky walking with his white cane trying to navigate the centre’s steep staircases and student socializing areas. Several times in the video, he walks into pillars, including one that stands in the middle of the staircase in the path of a handrail.
Two other pillars lean in an angled position, one in front of an elevator and next to a ramp so it’s difficult for a walking stick to detect.
“Ryerson tried to do the right thing, they wanted to make the building accessible,” said Lepofsky, head of a grassroots alliance that monitors progress on the province’s landmark Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
“But the problem is twofold — one: Ontario’s building laws are weak and don’t require buildings to meet the needs of those with disabilities and two: architects are not properly trained in accessibility and nor do they give it priority.”
The eight-storey structure, which opened in February 2015 at the corner of Yonge and Gould Streets, provides space on campus for students to socialize and work. The building won an award from the Canadian Architect Magazine for its proposed design in 2012.
It was designed by the architectural team of Zeidler and Snøhetta. The building’s designer Zeidler Partnership Architects could not be reached for comment.
Andreas Kyprianou, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Accessibility, said the province is well on its way to remove barriers so that people with disabilities can participate in all aspects of daily life but recognizes that there is more to do.
“Accessibility in buildings, including accessible washrooms, wheelchair ramps, and elevators, are regulated by Ontario’s Building Code and is administered by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs,” Kyprianou said in an email. “It is the responsibility of municipalities to enforce the Building Code, including reviewing building plans, issuing permits, and conducting construction inspections.”
A spokesperson for Ryerson said the university has been taking immediate measures to make the Student Learning Centre more accessible.
“The SLC held an open, community wide charrette to hear concerns and share ideas on how to improve accessibility at the SLC,” said spokesperson Johanna VanderMaas. “Ryerson University is committed to providing an accessible learning and employment environment for students, employees and members of the Ryerson community.”
It’s the second time that Lepofsky has used a video to show his concerns regarding accessibility laws and new buildings in Ontario. Lepofsky made a video last year showing accessibility issues at Centennial College’s Culinary Arts Centre shortly after it opened.
In his video released Sunday, Lepofsky highlights how the Ryerson building poses risks for people with blindness, low vision, mobility disabilities, dyslexia and balance issues.
Lepofsky argues that many of the accessibility issues could have been easily avoided but that architects and designers gave priority to the building’s aesthetic look instead of focusing on whether it can be used by everyone.
The video shows Lepofsky walking with his white cane trying to navigate the centre’s steep staircases and student socializing areas. Several times in the video, he walks into pillars. One problematic pillar, he shows, stands in the middle of the stair case, while two others lean in an angled position in front of an elevator and next to a ramp.
In the video, he also shows how the award-winning building has angled railings that make it very difficult to climb stairs for people who are blind or have balance issues and how labels written in Braille in the elevators are mislabelled.
“People generally assume that new buildings are more accessible than old buildings because we improved the laws and it’s not something we have to worry about anymore,” Lepofsky said. “That’s not true, here you see a very new building with significant accessibility problems.”
Although the university had tried to make an accessible building, Lepofsky said the underlying problem lies in that Ontario has insufficient accessibility laws, and design professionals have inadequate accessibility training.
In a letter dated Oct. 23 to the Ontario Ministry of Accessibility, Lepofsky asked the government to launch a new strategy to address the recurring disability accessibility barriers in the province.
The student centre, Lepofsky said, would not have been built with these issues if the Ontario Building Code and Ontario’s Disabilities Act had more strict regulations and standards. The government and other institutions need to also focus on training architects on accessibility, he added.
“If we don’t change the laws and if architects are not being trained sufficiently about accessibility, then we are creating more generations of problems and paying for it,” he said. “Someone shouldn’t be getting a license to be an architect or a design professional without being really trained to design a building that everyone could use.”
Ryerson’s student centre is dangerous for students with disabilities, advocate says