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    At the conclusion of the coroner's inquest testimony Wednesday of the officers who were at the scene of the police shooting death of Michael MacIsaac, his family's demand for answers remained unchanged.

    MacIsaac, 47, was shot dead on an Ajax street on Dec. 2, 2013 by Durham region police Const. Brian Taylor, who said a naked MacIsaac was advancing on him with a metal table leg. Taylor was cleared of criminal wrongdoing by Ontario's police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit.

    On Tuesday, Const. Jeffrey Williams, who was parked behind Taylor on Dring St. that day, said he could not recall if MacIsaac said anything to Taylor before being shot, but that he was “marching” toward the police cruisers. Williams testified he did hear Taylor say something to MacIsaac, however.

    “I don't know what he said, I know it was his voice, and just after I heard two pops,” Williams testified.

    Then on Wednesday, Const. Mark Brown, a designated “mental health response officer” who was parked behind Williams, testified he heard Taylor identify the men as police officers and that he heard MacIsaac shouting.

    “I did hear him yell something, but didn't hear what he actually yelled,” Brown testified, saying MacIsaac was “running slightly faster than a jog” down a driveway toward police and holding the table leg like a baseball bat.

    Taylor himself testified last week that he remembered issuing and hearing the police challenge — “Police. Don't move.” And he testified that MacIsaac was saying to him, “Come on, come on.”

    It has also been previously pointed out at the inquest that Taylor cannot be heard shouting commands and MacIsaac cannot be heard saying anything on a 911 call that was placed by a civilian at the scene of the shooting and that the call was analyzed by a forensic scientist for the family, who found no breaks or alterations in the recording. Taylor has speculated that the call dropped and did not capture everything that was said.

    “I think none of their stories match,” MacIsaac's sister, Joanne, told reporters Wednesday. “I'd like to say it's surprising that the SIU didn't have a lot more questions with this, but it seems to be the way the SIU handles these situations.”

    The SIU does not comment on probes that are the subject of a coroner's inquest, and it has also never said in the past if it listened to, or even obtained, the 911 call.

    Wednesday was an especially emotional day for the MacIsaac family, sitting in the front rows of the courtroom. Some family members, overcome by emotion, left during parts of Brown's testimony.

    Like Williams the day before him, Brown testified that his focus, after the shooting, was on helping MacIsaac. He said that once MacIsaac fell to the ground, he removed the table leg while the other officers remained with their guns drawn.

    “I took control of Mr. MacIsaac, I took hold of his hands and he was actively resisting and not listening,” Brown testified, saying he was trying to administer first aid along with Williams. He said the only word from MacIsaac that he could make out was “pain.”

    The term “actively resisting” sparked a wave of sobbing from the MacIsaac family.

    “Michael was met with such a lack of compassion, empathy and caring by these three men, right after he was shot,” Joanne MacIsaac told reporters. “When he's naked, and cold and on the ground and you're pushing in on his abdomen after he's been shot, to use the phrase that he was still ‘actively resisting,’ my God, what is the matter with these people? What is the matter with each of them?”

    Williams testified Tuesday that he retrieved first aid kits from the police vehicles and attempted to speak to MacIsaac, who was yelling but was incomprehensible.

    “At that point it was my job to save his life,” Williams said. “He did eventually start speaking to me, he told me his name was Michael. I told him ‘I'm trying to help you, we have help on the way’ . . . I asked him what had happened. He told me he was hot.”

    Coroner's counsel Troy Harrison asked how long it took for an ambulance to arrive.

    “I couldn't tell you,” Williams said. “It was upsetting and chaotic.”

    Williams said that when the ambulance did arrive, he jumped in the driver's seat, offering to drive to the hospital so that the two paramedics could focus on MacIsaac. But one of his superiors at the scene had another officer drive and ordered Williams back to the police division because of his involvement in the shooting.

    Under cross-examination by Anita Szigeti, lawyer for the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health's Empowerment Council, it was pointed out to Williams that the first time an officer tried to calm MacIsaac down by asking his name and talking about help was after he had already been shot.

    On Wednesday, Szigeti questioned Brown on his knowledge of mental health issues and individuals in crisis, suggesting he has stereotyped or negative perceptions of persons with mental health issues, which he denied.

    The officer testified earlier that he received a 40-hour training course in either 2005 or 2006 to be designated a mental health response officer, which consisted largely of meeting the various agencies that can help individuals in crisis. He said he hasn't taken any refresher courses since then.

    Szigeti listed some of the observations Brown made to the SIU as to why he believed MacIsaac may have mental health issues, including glossy eyes and speaking gibberish.

    “(These observations) could also be consistent with being shot, though,” she said.

    After her cross-examination, Szigeti turned and quietly apologized to the MacIsaac family.

    The inquest continues.


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    The condo is continuing its ascent of the Toronto area real estate market with the average price of re-sale apartments cracking the $500,000 barrier in the second quarter this year.

    The average condo cost $532,032 — 28.1 per cent higher than the second quarter last year, according to a report from the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) this week.

    In Toronto, which accounted for 72 per cent of second quarter condo sales, the average price was $566,513.

    Read more:

    New home sales soar in June, as condos dominate market

    Ontario to roll out new rules for condo boards

    Where the most (and least) expensive condo areas are along the subway

    Prices climbed as sales dropped 8 per cent in the same period and the number of listings increased less than 1 per cent.

    Their relative affordability makes condos attractive to many households, especially first-time buyers, said TREB.

    While the Toronto area is a buyer's market overall, sellers are still in the driver's seat of the condo sector, said Gurpreet Thind, director of business development for Condos.ca.

    Even with fewer sales of detached and semi-detached homes, prices for low-rise housing remain out of reach for many buyers, he said.

    There are areas where condos will sit on the market for two or three weeks. But every week there are stories among his fellow agents of competitive bids that raise prices over asking, said Thind.

    Those properties tend to be in more desirable neighbourhoods or buildings. Liberty Village and King St. W. are popular, especially buildings with good layouts and premium touches such as gas stoves.

    Two-bedroom units are sought after, said Thind.

    "Size is king. The expectation is (the buyer) is probably staying longer. They won't be able to afford a house. Whether they're first-time buyers or moving up, they want to try and buy as much square footage as possible," he said.

    The TREB report showed that one-bedroom and one-bedroom-plus-den apartments accounted for half of all sales and two bedrooms, including two-bedroom-with-den units, comprised 46 per cent of transactions.

    The average price of a one-bedroom-plus-den was about $450,000, about $200,000 less than a two-bedroom-plus-den unit.

    TREB points out that the condo rental market is also highly competitive.

    Rents on one- and two-bedroom apartments rose nearly 9 per cent but the number of lease transactions on the board's Multiple Listings Service remained about the same as the second quarter of 2016.

    "Average rents increased by much more than the rate of inflation," said Jason Mercer, the board's director of market analysis, in a news release. "Generally speaking, it has become harder to find a place to rent this year compared to last."

    The average one-bedroom condo rented for $1,861 a month and two-bedroom apartments went for $2,533 between the beginning of April and the end of June.

    Condos are also the leading new construction home product, representing 91 per cent of the new homes sold in June in the Toronto region, the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) reported on Tuesday.


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    Justin Trudeau is on the new cover of Rolling Stone and please don’t beat yourself up for experiencing a rush of conflicted feelings.

    On the upside, it’s always refreshing when the U.S. media glance over the border and devotes ink — in this case, nearly 7,000 words — to what is a foreign story.

    There is no free trade when it comes to media coverage.

    In Canada, we cover America as if it’s our most important province.

    Read more: Justin Trudeau lands on the cover of Rolling Stone

    But in America, unless a story is sensational enough to elbow its way into the domestic spotlight — a vicious road-rage beating in Peterborough, say, that’s captured on video — the U.S. media tend to ignore us the way a high school quarterback might brush past the treasurer of the chess club on his way to wolfing down a burger and fries in the caf.

    America gorges on itself and we are starved for attention.

    So when the mikes and the cameras do clear customs, when Canada is filtered through the prism of stateside outlets, we are on high alert for any distortions and errors, big and small. (In the Rolling Stone opus, there was a reference to the “Royal Canadian Mountain Police,” which I suppose should not be confused with CSIS, or the “Canadian Security Igloo Service.”)

    You see, when it comes to covering Trudeau, the U.S. media are now so grateful he’s not Donald Trump, they continue to lionize him in a way that is failing readers on both sides of the border who may believe incompetence is not a zero-sum game.

    Sure, your guy is a demonic clown. We get that.

    But you know what? Our guy is not exactly keeping his promises or doing anything that might place this country on a solid footing for future generations.

    This is something the U.S. media can’t grasp in the fog of Trump.

    From the opening paragraphs to the unending subtext to the panting cover-line query — “Why Can’t He Be Our President?” — the Rolling Stone profile of Trudeau that landed on Wednesday is so glowingly submissive, so blindingly quixotic, that even if you tool around in a T-shirt that reads “Sunny Ways,” you might be wise to put on shades while skimming to avoid damaging your retinas.

    This two-state media dynamic is clear: It’s much easier for Canadian media to cover Trump than it is for U.S. media to cover Trudeau.

    Trump is so detached from all reasonable standards of decency and intelligence that he is a cartoon villain. He is a fool on the hill who hurls thunderbolts from his social media citadel, insults that are invariably powered by paranoid scorn and delusions of grandeur because, in the absence of any real accomplishments for this White House, unhinged tweets are all he’s got left.

    Trump is presidential in the same way my cat is a Tiffany lamp.

    His supporters believe the fake media is on a witch hunt — that their beloved leader is under siege by diabolical elites who are waging partisan warfare. They are mistaken: From the start of this doomed odyssey, Donald Trump has been under siege by Donald Trump.

    His ineptitude, naked greed, lunatic ego-cravings and severe allergies to both policy and hard work have exposed intractable failings as both an elected official and a human no sensible person would now choose to defend.

    This makes covering him easy, albeit exhausting: Watch him shoot himself in the foot and document the bloodshed. Repeat. Repeat again.

    Anything less is journalistic malpractice.

    But for the U.S. media, in both the crosshairs of Trump’s incontinent rage and the vortex of his death spiral, covering Trudeau is not as straightforward. There is no obvious monster.

    Whether he’s on the cover of GQ, in an issue devoted to “The Most Stylish Men Alive” or brooding in black and white in Vogue as “The New Young Face of Canadian Politics,” the U.S. media have already chalked out Trudeau’s silhouette in a fairy tale imagining that continues to endure.

    In style and temperament, Trudeau is the anti-Trump. He projects idealism on the world stage. He is not vile, at least not in any personal sense. And this yearning for an anti-Trump to call their own means the U.S. media are glossing over or ignoring the troubling similarities between both leaders, not the least of which is an obsession with celebrity that is ultimately counterproductive to governance.

    Yes, Trump is obviously repulsive. But is there not something also repulsive in walking back electoral reform or dithering on Indigenous crises or blowing through taxpayer dollars with the fiscal restraint my young daughters exhibit at Toys ‘R’ Us? If Trudeau ever spends a little less time sitting for cover stories or making cameos on award shows and podcasts, he might start breaking fewer promises.

    In Canada, day after day, the media hold a flame-thrower to Trump’s toes. But as we can see from this Rolling Stone profile, America only has a concert lighter it holds up in the darkness while cheering on Trudeau.

    The attention might be nice.

    But a bit more neighbourly honesty would be even better.

    vmenon@thestar.ca


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    Residents of a Markham neighbourhood want a towering cow sculpture installed 10 days ago by the city to just moooove on.

    The unhappy people gathered Tuesday night to give local councillor Alan Ho, who voted last year to approve the chrome statue, a piece of their collective mind.

    Ho was in huge backtrack mode as resident after resident slammed him for supporting the statue in a large parkette on Charity Cres. in the Cathedraltown neighbourhood. He urged them to gather a petition opposing the artwork and to head to council at its first meeting in September to tell elected officials exactly what they think.

    The cow, called Charity, Perpetuation of Perfection, was apparently a prize-winning milker for the donor and the statue is dubbed “Brookview Tony Charity.”

    Under intense questioning from residents at the site of the statue, Ho admitted the donation of the statue was valued at $1.2 million.

    But he insisted the donation cost the City of Markham and taxpayers nothing.

    Residents were udderly unimpressed.

    Tammy Armes, a member of the Cathedraltown Ratepayers Association, said the sculpture caught everyone by surprise.

    “This is really a shock for us; it’s not a small cow. It does not belong in this community,” Armes said.

    Danny Da Silva, who lives right in the sightline of the sculpture, was blunt in his assessment of it: “I hate it. I don’t like to be forced to look at this, but I have to unless I don’t want to come out of my house anymore.

    “I think it’s actually kind of disturbing looking. I come from a Christian background and this is actually one of the worst things you can do, is to raise a calf; it’s facing the cathedral. Who’s going to want to buy the house, there’s very little to admire,” he added.

    Da Silva suggested it be moved to another location, like the carousel in downtown Markham.

    Ho said he believed the statue belonged in another location but that the donor insisted on the current location and council agreed. He said if the statue does get moved it’s not clear whether the donor or the city will have to pay the cost.

    Markham Economist & Sun


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    Catching someone clipping their toenails on the GO train may be gross, but it’s not a reason to push the emergency alarm.

    Nor is realizing you’ve forgotten your lunch. Or seeing someone put their feet on the seats. Or being annoyed by the smell of another passenger’s food.

    Yet amazingly, these are all reasons that riders cited over the past year for why they hit the emergency strip and stopped the train, according to Metrolinx, the provincial agency that operates GO Transit.

    Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins published a list of 10 bizarre excuses in a series of Twitter posts on Wednesday. They were culled from a canvass of GO control centre employees, transit safety officers, and train staff that she performs each year.

    Other strange justifications included passengers talking in the train’s “quiet zone,” the washroom running out of toilet paper, and “testing to see if it works.”

    The list is unscientific, but Aikins makes it public each year in order to educate passengers about the consequences of not using the emergency strip appropriately.

    Each time someone presses the strip, it can cause a delay of five to 10 minutes as staff attend to the coach and make sure nothing is seriously wrong. Pulling the emergency brake, which brings the train to a sudden stop, can cause delays of 30 minutes or more.

    In 2016, there were over 650 train trips affected by emergency alarms or emergency brakes, causing close to 150 hours in delays. It’s not clear how many of the alarms were for illegitimate reasons, but Aikins said a majority weren’t genuine emergencies.

    “Honestly, it’s pretty shocking,” Aikins said, of the excuses passengers give.

    She said one man who recently pushed the strip told train staff he simply wanted to test their response time.

    “He congratulated our staff that they arrived very quickly, and he got an appropriate lecture,” she said. “He was very apologetic.”

    That passenger got off with a warning, but not everyone is so lucky. Customers who hit the alarm without legitimate cause can be fined at least $150. The penalty can be into the thousands of dollars for more serious cases, such as if pulling the brake results in an injury to a passenger.

    Some people who mistakenly pull the alarm are genuinely confused about what it does. Customers often say they were trying to request the train to stop at the next station — which is appropriate on a TTC bus or streetcar but not on a GO train, which only makes scheduled stops.

    In other cases, passengers seem to instantly regret what they’ve done. GO staff report that in many instances when they attend to an emergency alarm, no one wants to own up to pressing it. “You get there and everybody’s looking out the window, up on the ceiling, down on the floor,” Aikins said.

    There are legitimate reasons to press the alarm or pull the train’s emergency brake, such as if a passenger needs medical attention, witnesses vandalism or a fight, or sees a suspicious package.

    But if the situation doesn’t fall into one of those categories and customers are still considering pushing the alarm, Aikins has a message: “Don’t do it.”

    “All it’s going to do is delay everyone, including yourself. It can cause a dangerous situation, and you could be fined. It could cost you money.”


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    WASHINGTON—His grandfather served and his older brother served. He’s a natural helper and leader. So when two recruiters from the U.S. Marines came to Lucas Rixon’s English class last year to make their patriotic pitch, he was a quick sell: he decided he would become a soldier, too.

    His tattoos got him rejected when he tried to sign up in the winter. He planned to try again.

    Until the president declared him permanently unfit for duty.

    Rixon, an 18-year-old in North Carolina, learned Wednesday that he would need to pursue some other career goal. In a three-tweet morning statement, Donald Trump announced that he would not “accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.”

    Trump’s abrupt decision left Pentagon officials, Congress and transgender advocates scrambling for answers. When would the policy take effect? What did the policy actually say? What would happen to transgender soldiers currently serving? Trump’s press secretary had no further information, pledging that the details would be worked out later.

    Rixon had heard enough. The president, he said, is a bigot.

    “It makes us seem like we’re not humans. Any human can get into the military. But we can’t,” he said. “Now we can’t go into the military, so people are going to look at us like, ‘Oh, they are really much, much different from us.’ When we’re really not.”

    Trump announced the decision on the 69th anniversary of Harry Truman’s decision to desegregate the military, in the middle of his administration’s “American Heroes Week,” and the month after his White House declined to acknowledge Pride Month.

    If the decision is indeed implemented — and there was lingering uncertainty about the outcome given that there was no formal policy ready to go — it will reverse a decision made one year ago by Barack Obama.

    That decision allowed existing transgender soldiers, who number somewhere between 2,500 and 15,000, to serve openly for the first time. As of July 1 of this year, openly transgender recruits were supposed to be allowed to enlist.

    Instead, Defence Secretary James Mattis gave the military another six months to study the issue. Then, with Mattis on vacation, Trump reversed the entire initiative via Twitter.

    “After consultation with my generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military,” he wrote. “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

    U.S. allies including Canada, Israel, the U.K. and Australia all welcome transgender troops. A 2016 study by RAND Corp. found that research on the subject was limited but that these countries had experienced “little or no impact on unit cohesion, operational effectiveness, or readiness.”

    Shane Ortega, a transgender Marine and army veteran who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, said he was “outraged, disgusted and heartbroken” by the suggestion that transgender people are impeding military success.

    He said Trump, who obtained student and medical deferments to avoid serving in Vietnam, “has no authority or knowledge base to make any sort of tactical decision.”

    “All you have to do is look at my military record. I’ve deployed five times, in two combat zones, I had no tactical issues. Zero,” said Ortega, 30, who joined in 2005. “I’m completely furious because: here’s a man who isn’t willing to step up himself to sacrifice his own body, and yet he wants to police the bodies of people who are willing to do that very sacrifice which he holds in supposed high regard.”

    Ortega said his military peers knew he was transgender for years. He came out to his commanders in 2014, he said, then served as a staff sergeant until 2016.

    He said active transgender soldiers were “panicking” Wednesday. He worried about whether troops booted from the military under Trump’s directive would receive honourable discharges.

    “Who is good enough?” he said. “Who is human enough to be human in this government?”

    Trump’s decision was widely seen as a strategic attempt to excite the social conservatives among his political base. One senior official in Trump’s administration told the website Axios that they were attempting to force Democratic candidates in the Rust Belt to “take complete ownership of this issue.”

    But it also seemed possible that Trump had blundered into a problem. Several Republican senators came out against the move. House Republicans, Politico reported, had sought Trump’s help with their attempt to get the military to stop paying for gender reassignment surgery — but never asked him to ban transgender troops entirely.

    Regardless of his motive, Trump set alight any goodwill he had managed to earn in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities with his campaign promise to “fight for” LGBT people.

    He had differentiated himself from his Republican rivals by expressing support for the right of Caitlyn Jenner, the transgender Republican former Olympian, to use the bathroom of her choice at Trump Tower. And he had boasted of becoming the first Republican nominee to have an openly gay person, businessman Peter Thiel, speak at his convention.

    But LGBT communities were always skeptical.

    Activists noted that he mentioned LGBT people almost exclusively in the context of justifying his policies to discriminate against Muslims. He surrounded himself with social conservatives hostile to LGBT interests. And his words of support were always followed by criticism and hesitation.

    In October, Trump declared Obama’s policy on transgender troops “ridiculous.” Despite his comfort with Jenner, he deferred to party activists who wanted to deny transgender people the right to use the bathroom matching their gender identity. In February, he rolled back Obama’s bathroom instructions to schools.

    “I knew the entire time. He’s with the Republican Party, and that is the party that — while some of them are more moderate — stands against everything that trans people and LGBT people are,” said Destiny Clark, a transgender woman who is president of Central Alabama Pride. “That was just for TV, to try to get a little bit of publicity.”

    Rixon will soon enter college to study criminal justice. If he can’t serve in the military, he said, he will try to serve in another way: joining the FBI.


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    When Katie Mohammed turned to Facebook to air concerns about her community — as millions of people do every day — she didn’t think she’d ever be sued for libel, and become the centre of a precedent-setting case in Ontario’s laws protecting speech in the public interest.

    A libel lawsuit against Mohammed was dismissed under relatively new provincial rules targeting “strategic lawsuits against public participation,” known as anti-SLAPP measures. The Stouffville resident was the first defendant to be awarded damages under the legislation.

    “I’m just relieved that it’s over,” Mohammed said Wednesday. “It’s like a weight’s been lifted off my shoulders.”

    Mohammed, a teacher, was asked by United Soils Management Ltd. for a retraction and apology on the first day of school last year after she posted to two Facebook groups, “Stouffville Mommies” and “Stouffville Buy and Sell,” criticizing the company’s plan to deposit fill in an in-town pit.

    She complied with the request two days later, but was still served with a statement of claim for libel totalling $120,000 at the end of that week.

    “As a mom and a teacher to receive something like that it’s just devastating as most people don’t have the means to fight a case like that,” she said.

    Justice Thomas Lederer ruled in a decision Tuesday that the case would be dismissed under the anti-SLAPP legislation, which was passed in October 2015.

    The legislation allows such lawsuits to be dismissed using the faster simplified procedure route, as long as a judge concludes that the case passes certain tests.

    “There is no merit to this action much less ‘substantial merit,’ ” Lederer’s decision reads.

    That ruling, along with the conclusions that Mohammed could have mounted a defence, and that United Soils Management wouldn’t suffer sufficient harm to justify limiting her expression, informedLederer’s decision to dismiss the case.

    He awarded $7,500 in damages to Mohammed, to be paid by United Soils Management.

    Alec Cloke, owner of United Soils Management, was reached by the Star but declined to comment because his lawyer, William A. Chalmers, was on vacation.

    The company’s case focused on Mohammed’s use of the words “poison” and “children” in her Facebook posts, and argued that the choice of words falsely implied that the company was committing a crime, Lederer’s decision summarized.

    Sabrina Callaway, Mohammed’s lawyer, said she is happy that damages were awarded, but not because the amount itself is likely to be seen as a deterrent to corporations considering strategic lawsuits.

    “It just kind of reiterates that my client was doing the right thing by speaking out,” she said of the award.

    Rob De Luca, a spokesperson for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, said that the more likely deterrent to arise from cases like this is companies’ fear of bad publicity.

    “Attempts to silence individuals with frivolous litigation is going to itself be something that’s discussed in the public realm,” he said.

    In addition to being used as a precedent in future anti-SLAPP cases in Ontario, De Luca said that the decision in Mohammed’s case may attract the attention of other jurisdictions considering similar legislation.

    “Other jurisdictions are watching Ontario to see our case law developments on this,” he said. “These kinds of decisions will have a wider influence than simply in Ontario.”

    Mohammed said that she hopes that her case encourages other Canadians that their rights to free speech will be protected in court.

    “I just hope that Canadians realize that it’s important for people to speak up on matters of public interest and that there’s a law to protect them now,” she said.


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    The nursing home where Elizabeth Wettlaufer murdered seven patients released a statement Wednesday outlining the home’s actions following the ex-nurse’s 2014 termination.

    Caressant Care Woodstock said it sent a 20-page report outlining 10 workplace violations in two and a half years — three of which included suspensions — to the Ontario College of Nurses on April 17, 2014 after it fired her two weeks earlier for making a medication “error” that put a patient at risk.

    A lawyer for the college, Mark Sandler said after Tuesday’s misconduct hearing that the director of nursing at Caressant told college staff in an interview following her termination, that there were no underlying concerns about Wettlaufer.

    But in statement on Wednesday, Caressant said they had no record of staff making those comments.

    “Caressant Care has no records indicating that its leadership or staff believed or said this in response to any inquiry following the termination,” the statement from Caressant said.

    In a statement Wednesday, Sandler, said the regulatory body has documentation of its conversation with Caressant’s director of nursing.

    The alleged statements by the director of nursing at the time were the regulatory body’s main rationale for not investigating Wettlaufer further in 2014, lawyers for the college said Tuesday.

    During the hearing in which the college revoked Wettlaufer’s nursing licence the college did not disclose the 20-page report outlining Caressant’s concerns during the hearing.

    Following Wettlaufer’s sentencing last month, Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi and Health Minister Eric Hoskins released a statement saying they would establish an independent public inquiry to look into the circumstances of the case.

    Sandler’s statement also said Caressant’s accounts of Wettlaufer’s actions were inconsistent in 2014, when the former nurse was fired, and in 2016, after she confessed.

    “In 2016, only after Ms Wettlaufer’s criminal activities were already known and two years after the termination, Caressant Care wrote to the college,” said Sandler’s statement. “The characterizations it made in that letter for the first time were different than in its earlier verbal and written reports to the college.”

    The college has been criticized for not investigating Wettlaufer after Caressant reported her insulin error in May 2014. Wettlaufer murdered one victim and harmed two others after the firing.

    Sandler said the college stands by the decision it made at the time.

    “Caressant Care provided a notice of termination to the college in 2014 together with the errors it identified on Ms Wettlaufer’s part,” said Sandler. “None involved an allegation of deliberate abuse or deliberate over-administration of drugs.”

    Caressant fired Wettlaufer on March 31, 2014 for giving one patient insulin meant for another. She had already killed seven of her eight murder victims.

    In the statement, Caressant said it received notice in July 2014 that the college had received its report and didn’t hear from the regulatory body again until Wettlaufer was charged last fall.

    In Tuesday’s hearing, the college also revealed it restricted Wettlaufer’s nursing licence after a 1995 incident where she was caught stealing medication, which left her intoxicated at work. The restrictions lasted a year and were posted publicly for six, the college said.

    Wettlaufer is currently serving life in prison for the murder of eight patients, attempted murders of four others and aggravated assaults of two. She has no chance of parole for 25 years.


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    Last April, when I interviewed Jennifer Pritzker, the world’s first openly transgender billionaire and a retired U.S. army colonel, she told me “knowledge dispels fear.” This was a motto Pritzker borrowed from the British Royal Air Force, a motto she hoped might warm Americans to the idea of transgender men and women serving openly in the U.S. military.

    The prospect didn’t seem so radical at the time. A number of major corporations, including PayPal, had recently voiced support for transgender rights in light of so-called bathroom bills that sought to bar trans people from using the restrooms of their choice. And only a few months later, the Pentagon, under president Barack Obama, would end a ban on transgender people serving in the U.S. military.

    It appeared as though the United States was living in a moment when knowledge might actually dispel fear.

    Unfortunately, that moment has passed. Today, Americans are living in a moment of cruel opportunism in which knowledge is incapable of dispelling fear in the Oval Office, because it can’t even make it through the door. In fact, the current president of the United States appears to be allergic to it. Despite credible research indicating that transgender people pose no threat to military cohesion, or the health of the military budget (one study puts the number of trans service members in the U.S. military at about 2,450 people — not nearly high enough to burden the system), Trump announced this week via Twitter that transgender people are no longer welcome in the nation’s army.

    Read more:

    ‘Who is human enough?’ Transgender soldiers panicked, outraged by Trump’s abrupt ban

    Trump says ‘medical costs’ are the main reason to ban transgender troops. The military spends five times more on Viagra

    Donald Trump turns back the clock on LGBTQ rights: Editorial

    “After consultation with my Generals and military experts,” the president tweeted on Wednesday, “please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

    It would have been bad enough had Trump just told the truth about why he made this announcement, an explanation that I imagine might sound something like this: “My friends and I needed a convenient scapegoat to distract from all that collusion stuff and rally support among social conservatives, so we decided to pick on transgender people because we think they’re gross and weird. Sad!” But Trump’s cover for his cruelty — that he won’t allow transgender people to serve because their medical needs will financially burden the system — is uniquely disturbing. It sets a dangerous precedent in which people who risk their lives for their country are disposable to that country when their health care becomes costly or difficult.

    This isn’t an issue that affects only transgender Americans who wish to serve in the military, but potentially anyone whose health-care may be perceived by some as an unnecessary encumbrance. Think, for example, about mental health, an area prone to enormous stigma that the U.S. military already struggles with. According to a study from 2014 by the RAND Corporation, an American military think-tank, “Despite the efforts of both the U.S. Department of Defence (DoD) and the Veterans Health Administration to enhance mental health services, many service members are not regularly seeking needed care when they have mental health symptoms or disorders.”

    It’s hard to believe this reluctance to seek help will diminish anytime soon, when the president of the United States has made it crystal clear on Twitter that he values the military’s bottom line more than he values the health and well-being of its service members.

    But what else can we honestly expect from a man who was granted five draft deferments during the Vietnam War and yet doesn’t hesitate one bit to label a burden those people who risk life and limb for their country?

    Nothing good. Jennifer Pritzker’s hope that knowledge might dispel fear will remain as is — a hope, for at least another three years.


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    Chief Mark Saunders is defending a decision not to notify a police watchdog after one of his officers was charged in the assault of a Black teenager, saying the off-duty officer didn’t identify himself as police at the time of the incident.

    “The officers that were investigating from an SIU perspective were dealing with the information that they knew at the time, and they thought it through, and at the end of it their decision was that he did not identify himself as a police officer to the person that he was in contact with,” Saunders, told reporters — whom he accused of “manufacturing stuff” — after an event at police headquarters.

    That contradicts the version of events detailed to the Star by 19-year-old Dafonte Miller’s lawyer, who says Const. Michael Theriault made known he was a police officer both before he allegedly attacked the teen and in a 911 call.

    The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), an arm’s-length body that probes cases of death, serious bodily harm and sexual assault involving police officers, charged Theriault and civilian Christian Theriault last week with aggravated assault, assault with a weapon, and public mischief after the early morning attack in Whitby last December.

    Miller was punched, kicked and hit repeatedly in the face with a metal pipe, said his lawyer, Julian Falconer. Miller was beaten so badly his left eye will need to be surgically removed.

    According to Falconer, Christian Theriault is Michael Theriault’s brother. John Theriault, the father of the two accused, is a longtime detective working in Toronto police’s professional standards unit, which investigates police misconduct internally.

    Neither the Durham Region police, who responded to the scene, nor the Toronto police, notified the SIU. It was Falconer who told the watchdog of his client’s injuries in April.

    According to Falconer, Theriault identified himself as a police officer at least twice during the course of the Dec. 28 incident.

    The Theriaults were in the garage of a Whitby home when they saw Miller and two of his friends walk past, Falconer earlier told the Star. The group of friends, the lawyer said, were heading to another friend’s house near the home Miller shares with his family.

    The Theriaults approached the young men, and Michael Theriault told them he was a police officer, asking them where they lived and what they were doing in that neighbourhood, Falconer said.

    When Miller and his friends continued walking, Falconer said, the Theriaults chased them and when they caught up to Miller, started beating him.

    Miller managed to dial 911, Falconer said, but Theriault grabbed the phone out of his hand and told the operator he was a police officer who had made an arrest.

    When Durham police officers arrived, they arrested Miller and charged him with weapons and drugs offences. All of the charges against Miller have since been dropped.

    Meaghan Gray, a Toronto police spokesperson, earlier confirmed to the Star that Toronto police were notified of the Dec. 28 incident on the day it occurred.

    Saunders said Wednesday that Toronto police “would have been called, obviously, by Durham” about the incident.

    “Obviously at some point in time it was revealed it was a police officer, but the question is, when the occurrence took place, who knew what?” Saunders said.

    Saunders said although it may seem confusing, the threshold of when to report is clear.

    On its website, the SIU says it normally does not investigate incidents involving off-duty officers acting in the course of their private lives.

    “If, however, an officer is off duty and police equipment or property is involved, or the officer identifies himself/herself as a police officer in the course of the occurrence, the SIU will investigate the incident if it involves serious injury, death or an allegation of sexual assault,” the site says.

    Saunders promised a “fair” and “transparent” internal investigation following on the SIU’s investigation. He committed Wednesday to releasing an internal report to be prepared for the police board, which is required by law to address issues such as officer discipline arising from an SIU investigation.

    After reporting by the Star and public pressure to improve transparency, the Toronto police board, which oversees the service, has previously promised to make such reports public.

    “To say that this is a coverup is misleading,” Saunders said. “It was not a coverup. My officers acted in good faith.”

    Although Toronto police did not report the incident to the SIU, it’s unknown what, if any, action was taken internally once Toronto police became aware one of their officers was involved. Following the criminal charges, Theriault has been suspended with pay.

    Mayor John Tory said he remains concerned after reading information he is privy to as a member of the police board. One such report is scheduled to be discussed in secret at a board meeting on Thursday.

    “I think there are some unanswered questions and it’s not so much what the chief said, but the entire history of this event,” Tory told reporters outside police headquarters. “I continue to have a concern about this both in terms of the process and obviously the fact that someone was assaulted by a police officer either on or off duty.”

    Premier Kathleen Wynne said the way in which Miller’s case was reported to the SIU needs to be examined.

    “At that juncture where the police officer should have reported to the SIU, that’s where the question is, you know, because the SIU can’t take action if the SIU doesn't have information,” she told Newstalk1010.

    With files from Vjosa Isai


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    It’s a celebration, this conference on education, for which some 2,700 Indigenous people from around the world have gathered in Toronto.

    You might notice them around the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Or, you might not.

    “There’s no ‘Made on Reserve’ stamp on our forehead,” says Dr. Verna Billy-Minnabarriet, a B.C. educator and vice-president of the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology.

    Every one of the leading Indigenous educators from B.C., Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand I spoke to this week agreed: it’s insulting to say to an Indigenous person, “But you don’t look native.”

    While this emerged as a footnote in an hours-long rich group discussion on how these geographically disparate groups were brought together by a common history, it tapped into a larger issue that inextricably links them together.

    “Colonization is a common cancer that afflicted Indigenous people across the world,” said Bob Morgan, a professor at the University of Newcastle, Australia.

    It’s easy to see how being colonized by the same people has resulted in some of the same outcomes — higher poverty, lower health indicators, suicide crises, disproportionate rates of incarceration and removal of children from families. It has also given them a common language with which to mobilize, to exchange ideas.

    But riddle me this. How do people with no known connections for centuries all interpret land the same way?

    “In my culture, we don’t own land. Land is a gift. And our job is to take care of that land and to ensure that that land is there for those who come behind,” says Billy-Minnabarriet. “Whereas in dominant society land is a commodity.”

    “Our largest relationship is to the land,” said Dr. Noe Noe Wong-Wilson, a native, or Kanaka Maoli, from Hawaii. “It’s not a commodity. It’s in essence an inseparable part of ourselves. If you remove a native from the land, they struggle to survive physically, spiritually, economically.”

    “Our connectedness is to country and to our waters and land,” says Peter Buckskin, professor at the University of South Australia.

    The soreness about having your identity doubted is at least partly linked to this connectedness to land.

    When you tell a native person they don’t look native, not only are you saying they don’t fit your stereotype of them, you’re also suggesting they are not entitled to their own land.

    At one time, to qualify for Hawaiian land, you had to have 50 per cent native blood. Given all the intermingling of cultures, this year, the state legislature changed the blood quantum required to inherit native lands to 1/32.

    This blood logic or the idea of measurable blood purity is a colonial construct historically used to override traditional norms that defined Indigeneity. It was a tool to determine ineligibility for benefits and rights reserved for white people. Now it’s used to reduce Indigenous populations by recognizing fewer of them, to cut off access to land and undermine Indigenous sovereignty.

    The solidarity of this group also springs from the struggle to be allowed to live as Indigenous people.

    “Our greatest challenge is to live as Maori,” said Bentham Othia, deputy chair of the Waikato Endowed Colleges Trust in New Zealand. “The second challenge is the survival of Maori as a people.”

    “We are not asking for permission,” said Morgan. “We assert our fundamental right and freedom to be Indigenous. That is our basic human right before all else.”

    “The sad thing is modern society doesn’t even work for non-Indigenous people,” he says. “So why do we assume it’s going to work for Indigenous people?

    “And why is it that in every city I’ve visited internationally, there’s an increasing number of people living in poverty that live on the streets that are homeless that are marginalized. What type of society allows that to happen?

    “In the modern world I’m shattered to see that young people are turning away from life and choosing death . . . so what type of society allows that to happen to their young?”

    The natives also found a commonality in the misconceptions and stereotypes.

    “We’re not happy natives in hula skirts dancing seductively around coconut palms,” says Wong-Wilson.

    “We’re seen as dysfunctional,” says Buckskin. “All we’re asking for is respect and a sense of place at the table. But that’s hard to continue that agenda when you continually come from a deficit model. There’s a lack of trust that Aboriginal people can solve our own problems.”

    “One thing that’s consistent is the whole attitude of being less than,” says B.C.’s Billy-Minnabarriet. “You don’t have good education, you can’t keep a good job, you don’t, you don’t, you don’t. That stereotype is consistent in the fabric of everything we do.”

    “We will never surrender to injustice,” says Morgan. “The day we do, all that our forefathers fought for will mean nothing.”

    It is a celebration of resilience, this conference.

    “If there’s one thing that we can celebrate it is that we’ve survived,” says Morgan. “That is our greatest achievement. We always have to see ourselves as people that are of this land . . . And we’re not going away.”

    Shree Paradkar tackles issues of race and gender. You can follow her @shreeparadkar


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    Sure, the real estate market is down. But in 47 per cent of 905-area neighbourhoods and 34 per cent of Toronto neighbourhoods, detached home prices continued to rise in the second quarter of the year.

    A Re/MAX analysis of 65 Toronto region neighbourhoods tells a story of two markets — a blockbuster in the first quarter and a slumped second quarter, following the province’s Fair Housing policy announcement in April — said Christopher Alexander, Ontario-Atlantic region director for Re/MAX Integra.

    Affordability is a big part of the picture, he said.

    “The vast majority of upward-trending markets in the 905 were under $1 million. With interest rates still low, under $1 million is affordable for a lot of households,” said Alexander.

    Read more:

    Toronto housing market downturn will be short-lived, CMHC says

    Average price of a Toronto condo cracks $500,000

    New home sales soar in June, as condos dominate market

    Affordability in the Toronto region often comes with a commute to the city. Brock, near Lake Simcoe, had an 11.73 per cent increase in the average price of a detached home from the first to the second quarter.

    Caledon was up 8.61 per cent and Halton Hills saw a 7.75 per cent average price rise.

    In Toronto, detached home prices south of Bloor St. west to the Humber River dropped about 20 per cent and the Rosedale/Moore Park area saw a 22 per cent price decline.

    But Alexander cautions those area averages could be skewed by the sale of some luxury homes. In the first quarter, the majority of Rosedale sales, for example, were over $5 million, he said.

    More typical would be moderate price increases of 7.59 per cent in the zone that includes Riverdale, Greenwood-Coxwell and Blake-Jones. The Junction-High Park area saw a similar rise of about 7 per cent.

    The Re/MAX analysis is based on the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) map which divides the city into zones — most incorporate multiple neighbourhoods.

    The report is a snapshot of an extraordinary year in Toronto-area house sales, said Alexander. But the real picture is a year-over-year price comparison and, year over year, prices are up, he said.

    The Re/MAX report is based on TREB statistics, which are published monthly. The board reported that the average detached home price rose about 8 per cent year over year in June in the Toronto region.

    Alexander acknowledged there were areas that went down in price between the first and second quarter. But, he said, as a realtor that just means there are opportunities for buyers who have more choices than they did a couple of months ago and can negotiate with conditions on their offers.


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    Melania Trump will lead the United States delegation to the Invictus Games in Toronto this September, the White House said in a statement released Thursday morning.

    In the statement, the wife of U.S. President Donald Trump said she is “honoured” to represent her country at this year’s games.

    Trump will lead the delegation of 90 American athletes who are set to compete at the games, which take place in Toronto from Sept. 23 to 30.

    “I was heartened by the great success of the inaugural Invictus Games that took place in London in 2015, and the second games in Orlando, Florida last year,” Trump said in the statement.

    The first Invictus Games actually took place in London in 2014.

    “In just two short years, the Invictus Games have allowed thousands of injured and wounded servicemen and women from many different countries to participate in adaptive sports competitions – something that should be lauded and supported worldwide.”

    Founded by Prince Harry, the Invictus Games is an international sporting event for wounded, injured or sick service people and veterans.

    There are 550 athletes from 17 countries set to compete at venues throughout Toronto this September, including a team of 90 from Canada.

    Participants will compete in 12 adaptive sports, including archery, powerlifting, sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball and golf.

    The Canadian government is spending up to $17.5 million on the games in Toronto, while the Ontario government will be spending $10 million, according to government officials.

    The opening ceremonies will feature performances by Alessia Cara and Sarah McLachlan, among others.

    This week the Games announced it is looking for 150 Canadians to help carry the Invictus Games flag during a cross-country tour from Aug. 16 to Sept. 22.

    The national flag tour will visit 22 military bases, 15 legions and more than 50 communities, according to an Invictus Games news release.


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    The first six months of 2017 haven’t been kind to Toronto’s homeless.

    From January through June, 46 homeless people have died across the city, according to new information released Wednesday by Toronto Public Health in an ongoing initiative to monitor these deaths.

    Read more: Mississauga library receives federal funding to help fight homelessness

    Second-quarter data from an expanded tracking program, led by Toronto Public Health and supported by about 200 health and social service agencies, reported that 19 deaths occurred from April 1 through June 30. The median age for the deceased during this period was 48.5.

    “The numbers are shocking and deeply disturbing,” said Councillor Joe Cressy (Trinity-Spadina). “If the test of a city is how well it cares for the most vulnerable, these deaths show we are failing.”

    While the city collects a broad range of information about the deceased, such as gender, unofficial cause of death, and location of death, it only makes public the number of homeless dead and the median age. Advocates for the homeless say more data should be made public so that citizens have a better understanding of who is dying and why.

    “It’s like the city has put this (death tally) up there without fanfare, without any data to help anyone understand it except for the (median) age,” said long-time Toronto street nurse Cathy Crowe, also a distinguished visiting practitioner at Ryerson University’s department of politics and public administration.

    She said she believes sharing other category information with the public “would help put a picture out there of who’s homeless” in Toronto.

    “I don’t think we want names but I think we want gender breakdown, I think we want to know some categories of cause of death; how many opiate overdoses? How many suicides? How many trauma-related? Were any related to weather?” Crowe continued.

    “We know zero.”

    In the initiative’s first-quarter statistics, collected from January to the end of March, 27 homeless deaths were reported via the city-wide data network. The median age during that time was 51.

    The total of 46 deaths — from January through June — produced an average rate of 1.8 deaths per week, with a median age of 50 over the first half of the year.

    “Life expectancy in Toronto is approximately 80 years. While these are early results, the age at death for the homeless population represents a serious health inequity,” said Paul Fleiszer, manager of surveillance and epidemiology at Toronto Public Health.

    He said research and “lived experience” have shown that factors such as unaffordable and poor-quality housing, and housing instability, are associated with a range of poor mental and physical health outcomes, including injuries, and chronic and communicable diseases.

    “As a result, homelessness represents a major contribution to the loss of potential years of life,” Fleiszer said.

    Crowe said that the median age of the deceased “means that some very, very young people died and that’s not normal.”

    “It’s scary,” she said.

    Advocates for the homeless have long protested that previous attempts to accurately count the dead have underreported the extent of the tragic situation.

    Previously, the city has recorded deaths only in city-administered shelters; that number for all of 2016 was 33.

    The new initiative’s third-quarter results are scheduled for release in October, with the 2017 report finalized by January 2018.

    The tracking of homeless deaths across the city, which began on Jan. 1, 2017, was spurred in part by a 2016 Toronto Star investigation that found the province and most Ontario municipalities have no mandate to track homeless deaths comprehensively, if at all.

    Volunteers with the Toronto Homeless Memorial, at the Church of the Holy Trinity, next to the Eaton Centre, have been compiling an unofficial list of homeless people in the GTA who have died since the 1980s. There are now more than 850 names on the memorial. Its highest annual toll was 72 in 2005.

    “These numbers should be a wake-up call to politicians of all stripes,” said Cressy, referring to the new Toronto Public Health data.

    “With increased supports we know that many of these deaths are preventable.”


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    Ontario Superior Court has ordered the owner of an unfinished 6,600 square-foot monster home in Brampton to destroy it within 120 days, after a legal battle that stretches back almost five years when the city mistakenly issued a building permit.

    Should Ahmed Elbasiouni refuse to comply, the city can demolish the house with the homeowner paying the cost.

    The court edict issued Tuesday also prohibits Elbasiouni from building any thing on-site until, and unless, he has received a new building permit.

    “The next step and positive new story for the city is that anything we redevelop on the site will have to adhere to our new policies of a mature neighbourhood and zoning provisions in place,” said Rob Elliot, the city’s commissioner of planning.

    Elbasiouni took the city to the court, maintaining the specifications of the home are as per the drawings he submitted and approved by the city in 2012. The original plans for the monster home included some eight bedrooms and 10 bathrooms.

    When the error came to light, the city tried to revoke its approval, but with little success.

    The recent developments in the case signal a major victory for the city that sought a demolition order, but the five-year legal saga still has some loose threads.

    In an earlier decision, the courts ordered Elbasiouni to pay the city $51,000 in costs as a penalty for submitting a fraudulent document. The city said he has not done so.

    In a joint statement, wards 1 and 5 regional councillors Elaine Moore and Grant Gibson called the court’s decision an “important milestone” for residents of the neighbourhood.

    “In addition to guaranteeing the demolition of the house by the end of November, this order also guarantees that whatever is built on this property in the future will be something that adds value to this community,” they wrote in a news release. “This area is designated as a ‘mature neighbourhood,’ which means the city has additional rules in place to ensure any new development is designed to maintain and preserve the character of the neighbourhood.”

    With files from Peter Criscione


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    Ontario’s police watchdog is investigating after a 15-year-old boy was shot by police at a Mississauga shopping plaza early Thursday.

    Paramedics said the boy was rushed to the Hospital for Sick Children in serious condition, with a gunshot wound to his upper torso. He is now in stable condition.

    Special Investigations Unit spokesperson Jason Gennaro confirmed that a Peel Region police officer shot the boy while responding to a call for a robbery at a gas station at Credit Valley Town Plaza at Britannia and Creditview Rds. at 1:50 a.m.

    Gennaro said police were told three males were involved in the gas station robbery, but two of them fled in a grey vehicle.

    The third male attempted to rob another business, Gennaro said, then tried unsuccessfully to get into three occupied vehicles that were parked in the plaza.

    “Peel police officers arrived at the scene, there was an interaction with the man and one Peel police officer discharged a firearm,” said Gennaro. “At least one shot was fired.”

    He said the interaction took place near a bank in the plaza.

    Janet Wade-Hunt told reporters at the scene that a male attempted to break into her vehicle while she was in it, which was parked outside a Pizza Pizza at the plaza in the early hours of the morning.

    Wade-Hunt said he was armed and so she called the police.

    “I just wanted them to arrest him,” she said. “I just wish he wasn't shot.”

    She said police at the scene told her that the boy had pointed his gun at the officers, but she is uncertain about whether he fired any shots.

    She also said she heard six or seven shots fired and later saw him on the ground and called an ambulance.

    Gennaro said he could not confirm if the boy was armed.

    Police are searching for the two males who left the scene, but did not have any information to identify them, he said.

    “We are currently appealing for any witnesses who may have been in the area at the time who may have captured the incident or video or who have seen anything to contact our lead investigator.”

    All businesses in the plaza are closed while SIU completes the investigation. Gennaro said the area will be closed for “most of the day.”

    Most of the plaza where the shooting happened was cordoned off with yellow police tape Thursday morning, along with the entire block of Creditview Rd.

    What appeared to be a bullet casing could be seen on the ground next to a police cruiser on Creditview Rd. Behind it, inside the plaza, was an SIU van.

    Investigators could also be seen dropping yellow evidence markers in front of the BMO bank on the west end of the plaza. A single black and red running shoe with a white sole could also be seen at the BMO entrance.

    Six SIU investigators and two forensic investigators have been assigned to the case.

    The SIU investigates cases involving police that result in death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault.

    With files from Emma McIntosh and Alina Bykova


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    Natasha Penner was in the midst of celebrating her 30th birthday at a West Coast music festival when she accepted a drink from a newfound friend.

    She felt after spending most of the day with him they had established some trust. But after she took a few sips, everything became a blur.

    “I woke up 10 hours later naked in his tent,” she recalls of the 2014 incident. “I was definitely drugged.”

    Read more:

    WayHome music fest revises policy, lets attendees bring naloxone

    Should kids be allowed at music festivals?

    Still disoriented and confused, Penner was told by the man to leave his tent. Upon examining herself, she says she found signs she was raped.

    Stories like Penner’s are putting pressure on organizers of music events — like this weekend’s WayHome Music and Arts Festival north of Toronto, headlined by Frank Ocean, Imagine Dragons and Flume — to do a better job making their venues safer, particularly for women.

    A study by the Sexual Assault and Partner Abuse Care Program at the Ottawa Hospital found that 26 per cent of sexual assault cases involving patients who attended the institute in 2013 occurred at mass gatherings. About 40 per cent of patients believed they were drugged and only 33 per cent said they knew the assailant.

    Other assaults are more fleeting — it’s not unusual for female crowd surfers, for example, to encounter random hands emerging from the audience to tear at their clothes.

    Stacey Forrester is a co-organizer of the Vancouver wing of volunteer organization Good Night Out, which works with venues to prevent and combat the sexual harassment women typically face at events like concerts.

    She remains skeptical that promoters are fully committed to preventing harassment on their premises. She says if they were, organizations like hers wouldn’t have to dedicate their time to patrolling venues.

    “For a long time, having someone grind on you or grab you in passing was just expected to be a normal part of going out or being in a mass crowd of people,” Forrester says.

    “People who are in security positions still hang on to those beliefs. We see it ... when we’re doing training. Even people who are entrusted with the safety of the crowd often buy into these rape myths.”

    Montreal’s Osheaga music festival recently announced new measures in a bid to curb some of these incidents.

    Co-founder Nick Farkas says female “Hirondelles” — translated into English as “swallows,” the birds representing love and compassion — will patrol festival grounds looking for trouble and offering assistance.

    A similar initiative was launched at the Montreal International Jazz Festival last month to complement the mostly male security staff hired to ensure crowds don’t get out of hand.

    “Historically security guards are often giant guys dressed in black and they’re not super approachable,” Farkas says.

    “What we’re trying to accomplish with this is that people feel comfortable approaching the special team if something happens.”

    Osheaga brought in the security measure following a firestorm of criticism last year. Concertgoer Melanie Doucet said she was drugged during the festival’s Red Hot Chili Peppers set. Doucet felt a date-rape drug kicking in and immediately reported it to security, but later said she felt staff could’ve handled the situation better.

    WayHome declined interview requests to discuss safety measures for women, saying they were tied up with preparations for the event.

    “We are constantly trying to improve on lines of communication with our audiences to ensure they are aware of all channels available to provide aid in any scenario,” said Todd Jenereaux, an organizer at promotion company Republic Live, in an emailed statement.

    Jodie Ortega, a Vancouver-based advocate for survivors of sexual violence, says the growing conversation around the safety of women at music festivals should be a cue to other events, concert halls and clubs that ticket buyers expect to see improvement.

    “If public safety is one of their main priorities ... then they have to take a step back and think of the bigger picture,” she says.

    Ortega suggests venues take a cue from public transit operators that post signs saying that violence against bus drivers won’t be tolerated.

    “There’s no signage like that on the front of a nightclub or the back of a concert ticket,” she says.

    “Maybe it’s time to be completely blunt.”


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    About 700 ground crew at Canada’s busiest airport could be setting up picket lines later today.

    The members of Teamsters Local 419, who include baggage handlers, cargo handlers, cabin cleaners and other ground staff at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, are voting on a contract offer from their employer, Swissport.

    If the workers reject Swissport’s offer — as recommended by their union — they could walk off the job as early as tonight.

    Union spokesman Christopher Monette says picket lines would be set up at Pearson’s Terminal 3 and a cargo terminal near Swissport’s administrative offices.

    The workers who could go on strike also include some who tow planes for the 30 airlines Swissport services at Pearson.

    The Greater Toronto Airports Authority says it has a contingency plan in place in the event of a strike or labour disruption by the Swissport workers.

    Read more:

    Region and travellers best served if airport a public asset: Opinion

    Expect a longer wait at Pearson Airport as enhanced security begins for U.S.-bound flights


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    WASHINGTON—U.S. President Donald Trump has never gone a full week without a false claim, but some weeks are worse than others.

    The past week was his worst yet. From last Thursday, the six-month anniversary of his presidency, to this Wednesday, he made 33 false claims. That’s about five every day. Starting Saturday, when this barrage really began, it’s about seven per day.

    Trump made the false claims in every possible venue: an interview with the Wall Street Journal (11 false claims) to a campaign rally in Ohio (five false claims) to a speech to the National Boy Scout Jamboree (four false claims).

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

    Read more: How Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale fact-checks Trump

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

    Trump is averaging 2.4 false claims per day.

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

    Last updated: July 27, 2017


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    Two people are dead and two injured including a child following a five-vehicle collision in Georgina on Thursday.

    The crash happened a few minutes before noon on Highway 48, north of Old Homestead Rd.

    Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said the collision involved three transport trucks, a commercial vehicle and a passenger vehicle.

    York Region communications supervisor Kylie-Anne Doerner said two people were found without vital signs and pronounced dead at the scene.

    Schmidt said one of the victims was in the passenger vehicle and the other victim was in the commercial vehicle.

    ORNGE communications officer Rachel Scott said they have airlifted a child with serious injuries to the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.

    Scott said another patient who was trapped in a vehicle has been airlifted to Sunnybrook Hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

    All lanes are closed on Hwy. 48 between Old Homestead Rd. and High St.


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