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- 07/31/17--16:45: _Blue Jays watch con...
- 07/31/17--15:52: _Crash claims cost t...
- 08/01/17--04:24: _Man dead after shoo...
- 08/01/17--08:03: _Driver, 25, charged...
- 08/01/17--09:01: _Man, 58, and boy, 6...
- 08/01/17--03:00: _This lawyer gave th...
- 08/01/17--13:45: _TRCA to launch inve...
- 08/01/17--12:53: _NDPers who question...
- 08/01/17--14:49: _GTA man sues Brantf...
- 08/01/17--15:58: _Passengers confined...
- 08/01/17--03:46: _Video shows shooter...
- 08/01/17--09:58: _Indigenous advocate...
- 08/01/17--15:25: _CBC’s The National ...
- 08/01/17--07:49: _Why the latest Dona...
- 08/01/17--14:44: _Toronto police offi...
- 08/01/17--13:43: _Supreme Court rever...
- 08/01/17--14:47: _Mayor John Tory wan...
- 08/01/17--17:50: _Police tell worried...
- 08/01/17--17:00: _Little by little, S...
- 08/01/17--16:22: _Leslie St. Spit art...
- 07/31/17--16:45: Blue Jays watch contenders load up at trade deadline: Griffin
- 07/31/17--15:52: Crash claims cost the TTC $33.6 million last year
- 08/01/17--04:24: Man dead after shooting near Bathurst and St. Clair
- 08/01/17--08:03: Driver, 25, charged after car jumps curb, killing 73-year-old
- 08/01/17--09:01: Man, 58, and boy, 6, dead in apparent murder-suicide in East York
- 08/01/17--03:46: Video shows shooter in Queen St. E. bar
- 08/01/17--15:25: CBC’s The National needed a shakeup — but this one?: Analysis
- 08/01/17--14:47: Mayor John Tory wants TTC fare freeze for 2018
- 08/01/17--17:00: Little by little, Senate Republicans are abandoning Donald Trump
- 08/01/17--16:22: Leslie St. Spit artist revealed
The passing of the MLB trade deadline without waivers at 4 p.m. Monday begins the baseball version of continental drift. By the end of the season, we will see vast oceans of separation between playoff contenders and pretenders.
Some teams loaded up in July. Some gave up.
The Blue Jays slipped into neutral, and are now selling fans the dream of 2018 after just two trades that gave away the front-office philosophy for the final 57 games of 2017: Tread water, baby.
On deadline day, they traded two players on expiring contracts.
Fourth starter Francisco Liriano went to the Houston Astros for Japanese outfielder Nori Aoki — the Asian equivalent of Zeke Carrera, only with a little more base-stealing ability and a better glove — plus minor-league outfielder Teoscar Hernandez, in his seventh minor-league season with one brief shot at The Show in 2016. Hernandez has been moved into the No. 5 spot among Jays’ prospects.
The second trade of the day saw classy right-handed setup man Joe Smith head to the Cleveland Indians for a pair of minor leaguers: left-hander Thomas Pannone, now ranked No. 21 in the farm system, and young shortstop Samad Taylor.
The fact is, the Jays can sell both trades to their fans as investments in the future, without giving away 2018. Smith and Liriano were both on expiring deals, and the Jays bullpen has developed into an unexpectedly deep group, especially in the setup role. That’s good, because the Jays have already jacked prices for season tickets in ’18 and that has not gone over well with many subscribers.
In any event, here is one man’s view of the five winners and five losers in Major League Baseball — not just on trade deadline day, but for the roster-building month of July.
1. Yankees: The Bronx Bombers had already improved themselves earlier in the month, trading prospects to the White Sox for third baseman Todd Frazier and two bullpen studs, Dave Robertson and century-throwing Tommy Kahnle. Then they added established starter Jaime Garcia and, as the deadline approached, A’s right-hander Sonny Gray. These guys are acting like your father’s Yankees.
2. Royals: The hottest team in the American League has roared back to sit two games behind the Indians in the Central. They added left fielder Melky Cabrera from the White Sox and a trio of useful pitchers in Ryan Buchter, Trevor Cahill and Brandon Maurer from the Padres. This is their last chance with this group.
3. Dodgers: This franchise makes a habit of going all in. On deadline day they grabbed two effective left-handed relievers to give manager Dave Roberts some matchup flexibility, then starter Yu Darvish from the Rangers to go from great to awesome.
4. Cubs: The Series champs struggled early in the year, but are another team that has been re-establishing itself as time goes on. They had a 2-1/2 game lead in the NL Central before adding catcher Alex Avila and dominant lefty Justin Wilson from the Detroit Tigers. Earlier in July, the Cubs added lefty starter Jose Quintana from the crosstown White Sox.
5. Nationals: The Nats were loaded in most categories, but were struggling badly in the bullpen — while relief strength has been the recent blueprint for post-season success. They reached out earlier in July to add A’s relievers Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson, then on deadline day grabbed all-star closer Brandon Kintzler from the Minnesota Twins.
There are about 15 teams, including the Blue Jays, that stayed close to the status quo — either because they were trying but failed to add at the deadline, or because they are looking ahead to 2018 and don’t want to appear like they are surrendering.
1. White Sox: Sure, they are building the best farm system in baseball by trading away all their stars, but the Cubs own this city and it’s a problem.
2. Astros: Everyone talked about the rotation and the improvements they needed. All they did was add Liriano as a reliever from the Jays. Even though they have a 16-game division lead, this is about October.
3. Rangers: The other team in Texas has waved the white flag moreso than the Jays. They traded Darvish to the Dodgers and catcher Jonathan Lucroy to the Colorado Rockies, as well as Jeremy Jeffress to the Milwaukee Brewers, and clearly are pointing to 2018.
4. Indians: Even though Cleveland has a lead in the Central, they were in on Darvish and others in an attempt to create an elite top three in the rotation, but were only able to add Jays reliever Joe Smith to an already loaded bullpen.
5. A’s: Okay, this is business as usual for small-budget Oakland, but after dumping much of the bullpen and then Gray, their ace, it seems that for general manager Billy Beane “wait until next year” never comes.
The TTC’s insurance costs surged last year, pushing the amount the transit agency spent to settle accident claims involving its vehicles to $33.6 million.
According to figures provided by the transit agency, the money it paid out in 2016 was a 50-per-cent increase compared to 2014, when the TTC settled $22.3 million worth of claims. It was also higher than the $29.4 million it spent in 2015.
Agency spokesperson Stuart Green said that the number of annual accident claims is actually declining slightly, but the higher payout for 2016 was the result of a number of particularly costly settlements.
Green wouldn’t say whether the rising costs were a concern for the TTC, which pays for the claims out of its operating budget. But he asserted that “all the claims are looked at on an individual basis” to ensure they’re reasonable.
“We have experts in areas of claim settlement who determine whether or not these are fair claims, and then once the claim is reviewed … what would be deemed a fair payment is paid out,” he said.
The settlement figures were included in collision data that is not publicly available but that the TTC provided after the Star requested it.
The numbers cover the three-year period between 2014 and 2016. During that time, the agency’s buses, streetcars, and Wheel-Trans vehicles were involved in 11,498 crashes.
Green said that the “vast majority of these would be of a minor nature” and resulted in no significant injuries or damage to property. They include collisions with pedestrians, cyclists, motor vehicles, and fixed objects.
He stated that while the number of crashes has risen in recent years, that’s because the TTC has increased service and put more vehicles on the road. The rate of crashes — which is measured by the number of collisions per kilometres travelled — has not increased.
The TTC classified roughly three quarters of all the collisions as “not preventable,” a term the agency uses to denote that the transit operator wasn’t fault.
The percentage of collisions that involved pedestrians and were deemed not preventable was higher than for other categories. Of the 187 collisions with pedestrians, the TTC determined that its drivers weren’t at fault in 80.7 per cent of them.
The figure stands in contrast to a pedestrian safety review conducted by the city in 2015, which found that motorists of all types were at fault for roughly two-thirds of pedestrian injuries.
Green could not immediately explain the discrepancy.
In 2015, following a spate of fatal crashes, the TTC instituted a 12-point plan to enhance bus and streetcar safety. The new policy includes random GPS checks to detect whether operators are speeding, earlier interventions for drivers involved in multiple collisions, and daily “safety talks” from supervisors to alert vehicle operators of potential hazards like bad weather or construction on their routes.
The TTC says the plan has reduced the number of deadly accidents involving its vehicles.
That figures provided by the agency show some drivers have been involved in a high number of collisions since 2014. Thirty-five vehicle operators were involved 10 or more collisions, including one bus driver who racked up 19 crashes. The TTC determined that none of the 19 was preventable.
The most preventable crashes incurred by a single driver was five — a figure reached by three bus drivers and one Wheel-Trans operator.
Green couldn’t say whether all of the operators with high numbers of collisions were still working for the TTC, but he said the agency has protocols to deal with potential problem drivers.
“If there is an operator who’s involved in something serious, or a number of less serious incidents, we do have options ranging from reassignment to retraining,” he said.
“If we need to, we will reassign an employee from an operator to another duty.”
A man in his 20s has died after a shooting near Bathurst St. and St. Clair Ave. W. early Tuesday morning.
Toronto police tweeted about a shooting at Claxton Blvd. and Raglan Ave. around 12:45 a.m.
The man stumbled into a gas station after being shot and later died in hospital.
He suffered from a gunshot wound to his torso, said Sandra McLeod of Toronto paramedics.
No arrests have been made at this time.
With files from The Canadian Press
A man has been charged with dangerous driving after a vehicle struck and killed a 73-year-old pedestrian in downtown Toronto.
Police said the vehicle, a 2014 Honda Civic, was travelling south on Sherbourne St. around 7 a.m. Monday when it mounted the sidewalk just north of Dundas St. and hit the pedestrian, police said.
The vehicle continued on, striking another man, 49, who sustained non-life-threatening injuries, before it finally came to a stop south of Dundas.
The first pedestrian was pronounced dead at the scene and police arrested the driver of the vehicle immediately when they arrived.
Jonathan Power, 25, of Toronto, has been charged with dangerous driving causing death, dangerous driving causing bodily harm and driving without a licence.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of the story incorrectly identified the vehicle as a 2014 Honda CRX.
The last time Pearse Vujcic’s dog ran circles around the balcony of his East York apartment it was because of a small earthquake. So when the 57-year-old observed the same behaviour Monday evening, he knew something must be amiss.
That’s when he heard sure signs of distress coming from the apartment of his longtime neighbour and friend, Zlatan Cico.
“I heard yelling and screaming that I heard only in war and I knew somebody was dead,” Vujcic said.
Police found Cico, 58, and his six-year-old son Simon Cico without vital signs near Gamble Ave. and Broadview Ave. shortly after 7 p.m., in an apparent murder-suicide.
Upon hearing the screams, Vujcic left his apartment and saw a woman he recognized as Cico’s wife in distress, screaming, “My son is inside, what will I do without my son?”
The door to Cico’s apartment was open, and Vujcic entered only to find the man who had been his friend and neighbour for 11 years dead with a note on his chest.
Six-year-old Simon was also there, dead. Vujcic knew instantly looking at the boy that it was too late to help them. Toronto police said the boy suffered physical trauma.
Diana Maslova, who lives on the floor above the father and son in the apartment building, said she saw Cico’s wife later after the bodies were found and she “looked like a zombie.”
“At that point she didn’t talk or cry or react,” Maslova said. “Somebody tried to hug her and she didn’t even move, she was just looking straight ahead.
“She looked like she was in shock.”
Vujcic said that Cico’s son Simon lived full-time with his mother, and visited his father regularly.
Neighbours didn’t know much about Simon’s mom, who doesn’t live in the building, apart from occasionally seeing her in the elevator.
Vujcic described Simon as a “happy kid.” Just a couple of weeks ago, Cico had taken him to a documentary at the Hot Docs cinema on Bloor St. W. Vujcic joked that the young kid probably wouldn’t like the documentary, but Simon said he had a good time.
“My point is, until the last moment, they had a good time together,” Vujcic said.
Maslova also said the father and son looked happy whenever she saw them.
“They were always talking, laughing and looking happy,” she said.
Vujcic said that he regrets having missed signs of depression or distress in his close friend.
“All my life I will blame myself that I didn’t notice that he was suicidal,” Vujcic said. “I miss him dearly.”
Police said they are not looking for any suspects, but wish to speak to anyone who has background information that may give them some “clarity” to understand what happened.
“Based on what we have, we know who the suspect is, he’s the male involved in it,” Toronto police Sgt. Allyson Douglas-Cook said. “However, there’s still questions that . . . remain unanswered at this point.”
Police are interested in speaking to friends, family or anyone who was in the area at the time of the incident.
A post-mortem is being carried out Tuesday to find the cause of death.
Police are asking anyone with information to contact 416-808-7400.
With files from Alexandra Jones and Alanna Rizza
With files from Alexandra Jones and Alanna Rizza
OTTAWA—A Toronto lawyer who was recently appointed a Superior Court judge donated more than $1,800 to the governing federal Liberal party in the months before he was named to the bench, a string of giving that included the purchase of a ticket to fundraising dinner.
Between March 2016 and March 2017, Andrew Sanfilippo gave $1,878.87 to the Liberal party. The founding partner at the downtown law firm O’Donnell, Robertson & Sanfilippo became a judge in late June and the government announced his appointment July 18.
According to online records from Elections Canada that go back to 2006, Sanfilippo’s first political contribution was $478.87 on March 31, 2016. He acknowledged in a statement through a Superior Court spokesperson that this was for a Liberal fundraising dinner — the same price as tickets for a dinner with Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould that was hosted by the Torys LLP law firm on April 7, 2016.
The fundraiser drew controversy at the time, with Conservative MPs decrying how the minister was soliciting partisan money from stakeholders in her portfolio. Ottawa’s ethics commissioner Mary Dawson highlighted the event in her 2016 annual report and determined that while it raised “questions about the appropriateness of the way the fundraisers were organized,” it did not break Parliament’s ethics rules.
It is not unusual for judicial appointees to have made political donations, nor does it break any rules.
In his statement through the court spokesperson, Sanfilippo stated that he did not actually attend the fundraising dinner, and that he bought the ticket after being solicited by a legal colleague.
“He has never met, spoken to, or communicated with Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and believes that he has never attended any Liberal fundraising event,” the statement said.
Sanfilippo went on to donate $299 to the party on Dec. 5, 2016 and then $701 on Dec. 30 — meaning he gave the party $1,478.87 in 2016. He also gave $400 in March of this year.
Individuals cannot donate more than $1,550 to a political party each year, according to federal law.
David Taylor, a spokesperson for Wilson-Raybould, said in an emailed statement that Sanfilippo was appointed on the recommendation of the government’s judicial advisory committee in the Greater Toronto Area, as well as after consulting the Chief Justices of Ontario and the Ontario Superior Court.
“At no point during the judicial appointment process was Justice Sanfilippo’s political donation history considered,” Taylor wrote. “His merit was assessed based on the strength of his judicial application, the totality of his career and expertise.”
Judges are technically appointed by the governor general, who acts on the advice of cabinet and the justice minister, according to the department’s website. The government overhauled its judicial appointment process last October, explaining at the time that they would make the regional committees that consider applications for appointments more diverse and independent.
Using the Elections Canada online database of contributions, the Star found that 13 people with names and locations matching those of new judges appointed this year by Ottawa have donated money to political parties since 2006. Of these, two involved contributions to the Conservatives, and the rest were to the Liberal party.
The government has appointed 58 judges this year.
Richard Devlin, a professor of law at Dalhousie University and co-author of the recent book Regulating Judges, said that the government should consider a “cooling off period” so that people applying for political appointments would have to refrain from making partisan donations for a certain period before they can be selected.
“You don’t want to say people can’t be politically active, but there is certainly the optics (problem) of large cash donations prior to one’s appointment,” he said.
Rocco Galati, a Toronto lawyer who led the 2013 challenge that rejected one of Stephen Harper’s Supreme Court appointments, said he believes politics has been part of the judicial appointment process for years.
He pointed to an example unearthed by the left-leaning Broadbent Institute in 2015 that raised concerns about judicial appointments by then-justice minister Peter MacKay for people with whom he had partisan or personal ties.
“The whole system should be raising your eyebrows right to the back of your head,” Galati said.
Malcolm Mercer, an adjunct professor who teaches judicial ethics at Osgoode Hall law school, said he doubts public confidence is affected by the few lawyers who make donations and are appointed as judges.
“We should be encouraging participation in our democratic process rather than seeing political involvement as a bad thing,” he said. “It is more important to focus on appointing talented judges with diverse perspectives.”
The Liberal party’s cash-for-access fundraising practices came under intense scrutiny last year, when opposition critics assailed the government for its practice of holding private events where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and members of his cabinet would meet donors who paid sometimes hundreds of dollars to attend.
In April, the Liberal party started publicly announcing these events in advance and has also started posting guest lists online. Party spokesperson Braeden Caley said in an emailed statement that the other major parties in Ottawa haven’t followed suit.
A complicated patchwork of regulations governs the land at 14 Scarborough Pickering Townline, and untangling it falls on a review taking place after next week’s meeting of the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.
The last tenant of the home, which sits on expropriated land that’s transferred ownership several times, was Joyce Anna Scott. After her death in May, the conservation authority offered a continued lease agreement to her family — but if they don’t want to become rental tenants, they have to leave the house by Sept. 1.
Now, Joyce’s daughters are picking up their mother’s crusade to re-purchase the house, and they’ll make a presentation to the conservation authority next week.
In response, the conservation authority will launch an investigation, Associate Director Rick Sikorski said. But decisions aren’t theirs alone.
“From TRCA’s perspective, the property in question is TRCA owned,” Sikorski said. But the conservation authority is bound by other contracts.
When the land was transferred to them in 2004 as part of a “land holding agreement,” the province retained an option to purchase and a first right of refusal, or exclusive rights to enter business agreements before a third-party.
“Even though we own it, we are not free to do whatever we want with it,” Sikorski said.
In 2012, the land’s ownership became even more complex. The property was included within the boundaries of the proposed Rouge National Urban Park. According to a memorandum of agreement on the project, land included within the park’s boundaries would be transferred to the federal government.
To allow the family to re-purchase the land, the conservation authority has to consult each of the stakeholders in that tangled process. “That’s sort of the big picture background in terms of that property,” Sikorski said.
The house in question sits on the town line between Pickering and Scarborough. It was first expropriated by the provincial government in the 70s in support of a simultaneous federal expropriation for the proposed Pickering airport, transferred to the Ontario Land Corporation and later to the conservation authority.
Alderson and Preston grew up on the four-hectare property, which their parents rented out post-expropriation. Since the 80s, the couple had made inquiries into re-purchasing their home to no avail.
Mary Delaney, the chair of the Land Over Landings advocacy group, said that while dealing with federally expropriated lands can be messy, dealing with lands that have been transferred between political bodies is even worse.
“They’re dealing with lawyers at every level of government,” she said. While Land Over Landings now primarily communicates with the federal Ministry of Transport, the Scott’s home has jostled between provincial, municipal, and federal jurisdictions — each with their own spokespeople.
Delaney also noted that she spoke with Joyce’s daughters several weeks ago. While she couldn’t help, Delaney said she offered her sympathy over the bureaucratic tangle at-hand — their confusion, to her, is familiar.
The meeting between the sisters and conservation authority executive committee is slated for Aug. 11 and a staff recommendation will be presented back to the committee at a later date.
“There is no designated timeline for staff review and submission of recommendations,” Sikorski added later in an email.
Sikorski was unable to comment on why renting out the home was more compatible with the government’s plan than independent ownership.
If one follows the money and buys the buzz about party membership sales, Jagmeet Singh has the obvious inside track to the NDP leadership when voting begins next month.
On one front, choosing a young, stylish Sikh would be the type of bold move many in the party feel is needed to compete on the same stage as a Liberal government led by Justin Trudeau, who appears at mid-term to have maintained his iron grip on the political centre.
Singh certainly has the backing of what would be considered the party elite.
They will tell you the former Ontario deputy NDP leader has the type of people skills that cannot be taught, that he has a gift of getting people to follow, something that often eludes politicians with more experience or gravitas.
But many of those same party stalwarts will also confess to a bit of nervousness about Singh, which indicates they see his ascension to the leadership as a gamble, and if these misgivings are not dislodged — or if they mount closer to voting — it will be clear this race is not yet decided.
Singh has lapped the field when it comes to fundraising. He raised $356,784 from 1,681 individual contributions in the quarter ending June 30. He did not officially enter the race until mid-May.
Northern Ontario MP Charlie Angus raised $123,577 from 1,285 individual contributors after leading the first quarter. Manitoba MP Niki Ashton raised $70,156 from 1,006 contributors, although she is surging and said she raised $100,000 in July. Quebec MP Guy Caron brought in $46,970.
Singh also leads in party endorsements, by at least one measuring stick, and is expected to bring in the most new members when those sales are cut off Aug. 17.
So with the candidates debating in Victoria on Wednesday and Singh leading on all measurable metrics, this game is essentially over, right?
Well, those same members of the party establishment bring asterisks with their support and know the grassroots of the party have not yet fallen in love with the candidate from Brampton.
There are those who wonder whether it is really wise for the party to try to “out-Trudeau” Trudeau.
Those backing Angus dismiss the style argument and point to the appeal to youth of social democrats such as Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn.
They will tell you that Singh’s inexperience on the federal level has shown in debates, and he may be finding the jump from provincial politics to the bigger federal stage more difficult than he thought.
He is vulnerable on a policy proposal that would scrap old age security and roll it into a means-tested seniors benefit, breaking party policy on universality.
There are concerns about Singh’s “authenticity” and the hope he would show party members and ultimately Canadian voters a little bit more about himself and a little less about how he markets himself.
And, as he looks more like the prohibitive favourite, there are pragmatic questions.
As he mobilizes Sikh supporters, some New Democrats are openly wondering whether those who will mark a box to support Singh in the leadership will stay with the party. Is Singh himself a tourist in the federal party, ready to head back to the provincial wars if he loses?
And, they wonder, should he win, where he would run? There is no such thing as a safe NDP seat left in this country, and many rue the early days of Jack Layton’s reign when a leader without a seat could not break through with voters by perpetually standing in front of a mike in the Commons foyer.
For the NDP, this 2017 race is shaping up as a battle between the party establishment and the grassroots.
Ashton has run an unabashedly leftist activist campaign, giving a voice to those who feel on the outs with the party establishment. Her apparent strength spooks some party members who feel she may be kicking aside party planks for political gain.
Angus, who has had to take time away from the campaign to deal with a family matter, is trying to emerge as the consensus candidate with deep support in the party base.
Caron is respected for his economic bona fides even if he lacks the curb appeal of the other candidates.
The NDP establishment has a spotty leadership record (see Audrey McLaughlin, Alexa McDonough, Brian Topp). The grassroots understandably regard it warily.
But this, too, should be kept in mind.
Questions about Singh’s style, depth and debating skills sound suspiciously like the questions being asked about Trudeau four years ago.
Tim Harper writes on national affairs. firstname.lastname@example.org , Twitter: @nutgraf1
Tim Harper writes on national affairs. email@example.com , Twitter: @nutgraf1
A man left in pain and naked in a Brantford police station holding cell for hours has filed a $2.5 million lawsuit against the Brantford Police Services Board, the chief of police and six police officers.
Ontario Court Justice Kenneth Lenz stayed Philip Alafe’s criminal charges in April after ruling he was subjected to “cruel and unusual treatment” over the July 2015 night in the cell.
Security videos of the cell were made court exhibits at the hearing and released to the Toronto Star.
Lenz criticized Staff Sgt. Cheney Venn, one of officers named in the lawsuit, for taking away Alafe’s mattress, blanket and, after a violent struggle, his police-issued jumpsuit.
Lenz also found the police officers failed to provide Alafe with the medical attention he requested and his medication, despite Alafe informing the booking officer that he had mental health issues as well as sickle-cell anemia, a hereditary disease that causes him excruciating pain and is exacerbated by cold temperatures.
A statement of claim filed with the Superior Court in Toronto alleges the defendants “maliciously, intentionally, unlawfully and/or without justification subjected the plaintiff to an escalating course of punishment, deprivation of basic needs, physical assault, infliction of mental anguish and other infliction of harm.”
The allegations in the statement of claim have not been proven in court. No statement of defence has yet been filed.
A spokesperson for the Brantford Police Service said no comment would be made due to the pending litigation.
Police board chair Deb Cockerill said in a statement that the board will be undertaking a review of material related to the case and has asked the chief to report back on his findings as they relate to training, and prisoner care and handling. The statement said the board couldn't comment further because of the lawsuit.
An internal police investigation sparked by the criminal court ruling remains ongoing.
The allegations in the lawsuit include the use of excessive force in taking away Alafe’s jumpsuit and that he was made to spend the night “in extreme pain due to his sickle cell disease.”
Alafe entered the cell with no suicidal thoughts, according to the statement of claim. But after more than 10 hours in the cell, three with no clothes, blanket or mattress, he attempted to tie his socks into a noose around his neck. Two minutes later, an officer took his socks away.
The officers were negligent for not swiftly intervening despite a “plainly visible suicide attempt,” then they failed to offer him any assistance, leaving Alafe “alone in his cell, stark naked, and visibly in physical and mental distress,” the lawsuit alleges.
Alafe claims that as a result of his treatment that night his sickle-cell anemia and depression are worse and he now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.
The lawsuit also claims Alafe was discriminated against based on his “race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, and/or disability.”
Alafe, who lived in Etobicoke at the time of the incident, is from Nigeria and is seeking refugee status in Canada.
The statement of claim alleges one officer, Const. Jason Barber, told Alafe he “didn’t speak African.”
Barber, who is also named in the lawsuit, firmly denied saying this according to Lenz’s decision.
The lawsuit also claims Brantford police Chief Geoff Nelson was negligent for failing to ensure his officers carried out their duties lawfully and in accordance with the policies set out by the Brantford Police Services Board.
“Our client hopes this case will improve the way police deal with people in medical distress. He also hopes it will improve police accountability. These events did not happen in a dark alley. They happened in a brightly-lit police cell, in plain view and on camera,” said Alafe’s lawyer Kelley Bryan who represents him in his civil case.
The lawsuit claims punitive damages of $500,000 are necessary to deter this kind of conduct by police officers in the future.
MONTREAL—A woman who was aboard an Air Transat flight says she and other passengers were forced to stay in the plane on an Ottawa runway for six hours in uncomfortably warm conditions.
Maryanne Zehil said the plane, which had originated in Brussels, was meant to land in Montreal on Monday but that the 336 passengers were told it would not be possible because of storms.
The captain then diverted the plane to Ottawa.
Zehil said it was very hot in the plane and that some passengers were having trouble breathing.
She added that one person called 911 and that is when bottles of water were handed out. At that point, passengers had been in the Airbus A330 for 15 hours.
“We were stuck on the ground for six hours,” Zehil said in an interview. “At one point there was no more power. There was no air. Children were crying. It was really bad because we didn’t know why we weren’t allowed to get off so the problem could be solved.
“It was inhumane and unacceptable.”
Air Transat apologized in a statement to passengers on Tuesday.
“Following yesterday’s violent late-afternoon thunderstorms in Montreal, some of our flights from Europe and the South had to be diverted to other airports,” it said.
“Unfortunately, this unusual situation beyond our control caused delays of several hours for our passengers.”
It said nearly 30 planes, belonging to several airlines, were diverted to Ottawa.
“As a result, Ottawa airport staff were unable to provide with loading bridges or stairs that would have enabled the passengers on the Brussels flight to disembark or our ground crews to replenish the aircraft’s empty drinking water reservoir,” the statement added.
“The shortage of fuel also explains the lack of air conditioning on board for a time.”
In Ottawa, a spokesperson in the federal Transport Department said such incidents will not be able to happen again once Bill C-49 becomes law.
The legislation will force airlines to give passengers water, food and the possibility of getting off a plane, as long as it is safe, after being stuck three hours on a runway.
It will also oblige airlines to explain delays to passengers.
A shooting in a Queen St. E. bar Monday night that left one man dead and four others injured could have been even more serious, Toronto police say, because the gunman was “not in control of his firearm” and the other victims were hit by stray bullets ricocheting.
The shooting took place on the patio of the Libertarian Public House, at the corner of Queen and Sherbourne St., just before 11:20 p.m.
The two tables the five victims were sitting at were in close proximity, but police said the shooter had just one target.
“Knowing the location of some of the wounds, I would say we’re very lucky we don’t have three murder victims here,” Det. Sgt. Hank Idsinga said. “Innocent people shouldn’t be getting struck by bullets when they’re simply out having a drink at a local bar.”
Two videos released Tuesday by police show a man wearing a hoodie and a mask over his lower face walking into the bar with his hands in his pockets and continuing to the patio, where he opens fire.
The hoodie appears white in the video, but is actually black, police said, with what they believe is a “Hollister” logo.
Idsinga said there were at least five to seven shots fired, and that the suspect began shooting as soon as he entered the patio area, focusing his attack on a 32-year-old Toronto man who later died in hospital.
Idsinga said the bar’s security footage shows that the suspect fired in “very close” proximity.
“He’s probably 10 feet away from the target when he begins shooting, but he ends up standing right over him and continues to fire,” he said.
Despite the suspect’s attempts to cover his face, Idsinga said that “ultimately, we should be able to identify him.”
The suspect was last seen heading east on Queen. Idsinga said police “have witnesses who indicate he got into a vehicle on Queen St.”
There was no description of the vehicle.
All of the victims were Toronto men in their 20s and 30s, police said.
Idsinga said police would not be releasing the name of the dead man at his family’s request.
One man is still in hospital in serious, but stable condition.
There was “a bit of a mish mash getting to the hospital,” Idsinga said, with some of the victims taken in an ambulance from the scene, and some picked up on the street by ambulance after attempting to walk to the hospital.
One man “definitely did walk in by himself,” which made it initially difficult for police to figure out the number of victims connected to the shooting.
Police said they searched nearby garbages for a discarded weapon, but have had no luck as of yet.
Until about noon Tuesday, police tape surrounded the bar.
Across the street at Alfie’s Bar and Grill, patrons discussed the shooting, some alleging that they saw the shooter in the area often, and that he was a drug dealer.
Police told the Star at the scene that the shooting was related to “street gang” activity.
“We’ve got some links to some street gangs, but as far as any drug trafficking, I don’t have any information to assist that,” Idsinga said. “I believe the target was known to the assailant.”
Alfie’s was the scene of their own shooting earlier this year, when a 16-year-old was shot in the neck on Jan. 13.
Police ask anyone with information about the shooting to contact 51 Division or Crime Stoppers.
VANCOUVER—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he “regrets” comments he made about Sen. Patrick Brazeau in Rolling Stone, but an Indigenous advocate wants him to express his remorse in a letter to the popular U.S. magazine.
Trudeau told Rolling Stone in a story titled “Justin Trudeau: The North Star,” that his choice of Brazeau as an opponent in a March 2012 charity boxing match “wasn’t random.” Brazeau is from the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation in Quebec.
“I wanted someone who would be a good foil, and we stumbled upon the scrappy tough-guy senator from an Indigenous community. He fit the bill and it was a very nice counterpoint,” Trudeau told the magazine.
“I saw it as the right kind of narrative, the right story to tell,” he said about the cancer-fundraiser fight he won in Ottawa when he was a member of Parliament.
On Tuesday, Trudeau said in a CBC radio interview in Vancouver that he regretted his choice of language in describing the Independent senator.
“The way I have personally engaged with Indigenous leadership and Indigenous communities over the past years and certainly as we’re doing it as a government, recognizes that there are a lot of patterns to change,” said Trudeau, who has made reconciliation with First Nations a top priority.
“I try and make sure that we’re staying focused on recognizing that true reconciliation involves changing approaches and changing mindset. The way I framed it and characterized that doesn’t contribute to the positive spirit of reconciliation that I like to think and I know my government stands for.”
Brazeau declined to comment.
Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, said she’s glad Trudeau apologized for his comments, saying the image of “the savage and the civilized” has dominated Canadian government for too long.
However, it’s important for the prime minister to set the record straight in a letter to Rolling Stone “so the same people who read that article actually get to learn from the humility of him saying what he did was wrong and why it was wrong,” she said.
“The idea that you would go searching for an Indigenous person to engage in an exercise with the aim, really, of making yourself look good, as that seems to imply, is disturbing.”
In February, Trudeau was criticized by NDP MP Roméo Saganash, a former Cree leader, about remarks the prime minister made in response to a question on funding to First Nations communities.
Trudeau told a town hall in Saskatoon that he’d spoken with a number of First Nations chiefs who said young people need youth centres with TVs and sofas so they can hang out.
“When a chief says that to me I pretty much know they haven’t actually talked to their young people,” Trudeau said at the town hall.
“Most of the young people I’ve talked are asking for a place to store their canoes and paddles so they can connect back out on the land and a place with internet access so they can do their homework in a meaningful way because their homes are often too crowded and they need a place to work and study.”
Saganash called Trudeau’s comments ignorant and insulting. He wrote a satirical letter saying a national canoe and paddle program must have been a “secret” recommendation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
The conceit of the broadcast anchor as the voice from the summit, the authoritative narrator of history’s most important milestones is long gone.
It was gone before NBC anchor Brian Williams was demoted telling tall tales about his exploits in Iraq — or, closer to home, before the CBC’s Evan Solomon or Global’s Leslie Roberts were, respectively, fired or forced to resign over conflict of interest allegations.
Social media, the rise of alternative broadcast outlets, and comics such as Jon Stewart and the newly resurgent Saturday Night Live have supplanted the need for a single narrative told, traditionally, by a middle-aged white man.
CBC anchor Peter Mansbridge, with his preternaturally calm voice, was the epitome of the omniscient presenter when he stepped down July 1 from the Canadian public broadcaster after three decades.
So it wasn’t a surprise that, in its highly anticipated announcement of a reboot, that the CBC decided to cover their bets with more than one anchor for their flagship show The National. But four?
They are mostly familiar faces: That includes senior correspondent Adrienne Arsenault, 50 years old; current Power & Politics host Rosemary Barton, 41; CBC Vancouver anchor Andrew Chang, 33; and veteran CBC News Network host Ian Hanomansing, 55.
Whether this will be groundbreaking broadcasting or a hot mess will be seen in early November when the new format launches. So far it seems like a logistical nightmare.
For one thing, there will be not one but three anchor desks, as The National goes national. Chang will remain in Vancouver, Barton in Ottawa and Arsenault and Hanomansing will be based in Toronto.
“We will be nimble and flexible and originate from anywhere in the country,” said Jennifer McGuire, editor in chief for CBC News in announcing the new anchors on Tuesday. McGuire promised a “multi-platform” experience on digital and social media “all day long” where the team will always be on the story and “through all time zones.”
She then announced that the anchors would be taking questions on Facebook Live after the news conference. It sounds exhausting.
The concept of multiple anchors is not new. Media entrepreneur Moses Znaimer was a pioneer in deconstructing the anchor desk in the 1980s by using diverse voices, glass walls and eventually taking away the desk altogether. And before the era of social media, he promoted interactivity using live audiences and the good old telephone.
This is a step in that larger direction. And the reality is that the CBC needed to reinvigorate The National, especially in a universe captive to the digital 24-hour news cycle.
The real national broadcast has for some time, arguably, been the CTV National News anchored by Lisa LaFlamme. It was the 11th most watched program in Canada for the week of July 10, with 976,000 viewers, followed by Global National with Dawna Friesen at 686,000 viewers and The National at 621,000 viewers.
The most watched show in Canada that week was, sadly but not surprisingly, America’s Got Talent. But LaFlamme managed to edge out a repeat of the Big Bang Theory, so Canadians still care, at least when they’re not watching Big Brother.
It underscores the point that news is a cultural commodity that we don’t cherish enough, even as we are swamped by American imports. Along with oil and maple syrup, and maybe smoked meat sandwiches, Canadians have always exported exceptional broadcast talent as well as cultivated our own — think the late Morley Safer at CBS or Peter Jennings at ABC.
Mansbridge was the last solo male national broadcast anchor to go, and there is also some history to be made here: Chang and Hanomansing will be the first two permanent National anchors of Asian descent. That’s no small feat.
Longtime National guest host Hanomansing — or, as his fans call him, “Handsomemanthing” — was the front-runner for the job. Chang is the most green of the bunch, a local anchor for CBC Vancouver. They and Barton, known for her sharp-ended political interviews, and Arsenault, an Emmy Award-winning foreign correspondent, all seem like a good match on paper. But the real chemistry test comes in November.
Beyond that, this move is also an admission by the CBC that the era of the all-powerful, all-knowing anchor is over — that viewers no longer need to gather before an electronic hearth to hear Mansbridge sonorously announce the intricacies of The Meech Lake Accord.
And if the CBC is right, audiences don’t want their anchors sitting behind a desk anyway. The four anchors say they plan to continue reporting in the field.
Conceptually, this is all good. But four captains piloting one ship? Not so much. But if things go south, Peter Mansbridge, I’m sure, is on speed dial.
WASHINGTON—U.S. President Donald Trump hates leaks. He hired Anthony Scaramucci 10 days ago to very publicly root them out, and he has even attacked his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, for not investigating them aggressively enough.
But oftentimes with Trump, a leak isn’t just a leak; it’s an effort to save him from himself.
Such is the case with the latest big scoop out of Washington Monday night that Trump personally dictated the highly misleading initial statement about Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer in June 2016. Anonymous White House advisers told the Washington Post they had settled on a plan to be transparent about the meeting, only to have the president come in at the 11th hour and decide to try and withhold the whole truth. The result, at Trump’s personal direction, was a statement that claimed the meeting was about adoption, when in fact the stated purpose of it was opposition research — supposedly from the Russian government — about Hillary Clinton.
“(White House director of strategic communications Hope) Hicks also spoke by phone with Trump Jr. Again, say people familiar with the conversations, (Jared) Kushner’s team concluded that the best strategy would be to err on the side of transparency, because they believed the complete story would eventually emerge.
“The discussions among the president’s advisers consumed much of the day, and they continued as they prepared to board Air Force One that evening for the flight home.
“But before everyone boarded the plane, Trump had overruled the consensus, according to people with knowledge of the events.
“It remains unclear exactly how much the president knew at the time of the flight about Trump Jr.’s meeting.
“The president directed that Trump Jr.’s statement to the Times describe the meeting as unimportant. He wanted the statement to say that the meeting had been initiated by the Russian lawyer and primarily was about her pet issue — the adoption of Russian children.”
And now look at these comments from anonymous advisers:
“‘This was ... unnecessary,’ said one of the president’s advisers, who like most other people interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal deliberations. ‘Now someone can claim he’s the one who attempted to mislead. Somebody can argue the president is saying he doesn’t want you to say the whole truth.’”
“Trump, advisers say, is increasingly acting as his own lawyer, strategist and publicist, often disregarding the recommendations of the professionals he has hired.
“‘He refuses to sit still,’ the presidential adviser said. ‘He doesn’t think he’s in any legal jeopardy, so he really views this as a political problem he is going to solve by himself.’”
“Because Trump believes he is innocent, some advisers explained, he therefore does not think he is at any legal risk for a coverup. In his mind, they said, there is nothing to conceal.”
The White House’s first six months, of course, have been littered with internal leaks. Many of them are owed to the warring factions within the West Wing and dissension in the broader administration. But every so often you see this kind of leak: the send-a-message-to-the-boss leak — the spreading of unhelpful information about the president because advisers see no other way to make it stop.
And even in that line of reporting, this is a pretty remarkable cry for help. In this story, they’re admitting that he is personally responsible for deliberately misleading the American people about a major topic of the Russia investigation. They’re saying that he did something that could very well be construed as a coverup and could damage his legal defence. The reason? Because they apparently can’t prevail upon him in person and they think he simply doesn’t get what kind of jeopardy he is putting himself in.
Part of it may simply be exasperation, as well. When you, as a White House staffer, continue to have to put up with the boss’s unpredictable whims and furthering of unhelpful story lines (i.e. Russia was on my mind when I fired FBI Director James Comey), it’s liable to lead to this kind of leaking.
Trump will surely view this as an effort by the deep state and-or the media to undermine him. He’d be better off understanding it for what it is: a desperate effort to help him help himself. After all, in this case, the advisers were right. The truth all came out in rather short order, and Trump only made it worse.
A Toronto police officer and his brother charged in the beating of Black teen Dafonte Miller are accused of misleading investigators, according to newly obtained court documents.
The charges against Michael Theriault, a 25-year-old constable with the Toronto police force, and his 21-year-old brother, Christian Theriault, include aggravated assault and assault with a weapon in relation to the incident, which took place Dec. 28 in Whitby.
Both men were also charged with public mischief. According to information filed in court by the Special Investigations Unit, the Theriaults “did with intent to mislead, cause a peace offer to enter upon or continue an investigation and thereby commit public mischief,” the court information reads.
The date of the alleged offence — Dec. 28 — suggests that the SIU, a police oversight body, is alleging Theriault and his brother misled Durham police officers, who responded to the scene in the early morning hours. The SIU was not informed of the incident until April. Neither the SIU nor Durham police would comment Tuesday.
According to the section of the Criminal Code under which the Theriaults have been charged, someone has committed public mischief if they report an offence that hasn’t occurred, make a false statement accusing someone of an offence, or do anything meant to cause someone to be suspected of a crime or “divert suspicion from himself.”
The brothers are currently out on bail and scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 10. Michael Theriault has been suspended with pay from the Toronto police.
Miller’s lawyer, Julian Falconer, has provided an account of what allegedly happened in the early morning hours of Dec. 28, none of which has yet been tested in court.
Miller and his friends, Falconer said, were walking down Erickson Dr., a quiet suburban street north of Dundas St. E., before 3 a.m., when they were confronted by the brothers, who were in the garage of their family home. According to property records, the home is owned by the Theriaults’ father, John Theriault — a longtime Toronto police detective currently assigned to the professional standards unit.
Michael Theriault, Falconer alleged, identified himself as a police officer and asked what the group of friends were doing. The Theriaults chased Miller and his friends, eventually catching up to Miller and beating him with a metal pipe, the lawyer said.
Miller called 911 as the attack continued, Falconer has said. The call history from his phone, captured in a photo provided to the Star and other outlets, shows a call to 911 at 2:52 a.m., which lasted just over a minute.
According to Falconer, Michael Theriault grabbed the phone and told the operator he was a police officer and had made an arrest. Falconer told the Star he has personally listened to the 911 recording, which has not been released publicly.
When Durham police arrived at the scene, Falconer said, Michael Theriault told them he and his brother had heard noises coming from a car in their driveway, and saw Miller and one of his friends running away from a Theriault family car.
Michael Theriault told Durham police that change used for grocery money was missing from the car, Falconer said.
Michael Theriault’s lawyer, Michael Lacy, declined to comment on his client’s charges.
Durham police charged Miller on Dec. 28 with theft under $5,000, assault with a weapon described as a “pole,” and possession of a small amount of marijuana. Those charges were withdrawn by the Crown in May, before going to trial.
Durham officers interviewed multiple people, collected evidence and took photographs during their investigation of the Dec. 28 incident, Durham Chief Paul Martin said in a news release Friday.
Neither Toronto police nor Durham police notified the SIU, the body called in to investigate cases of death, serious injury or alleged sexual assault involving police. It was not until Falconer contacted the police watchdog in April that it began an investigation.
Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders has repeatedly defended his service’s decision not to contact the SIU. Members of the Toronto police professional standards unit decided, based on the information they had at the time, that the Theriault case did not meet the threshold to report to the police watchdog, Saunders told reporters.
Saunders announced Thursday that Waterloo police had been called in to conduct a third-party investigation into the circumstances of Miller’s beating.
Martin has announced an internal review, led by his deputy chief Uday Jaswal, to examine whether Durham officers acted correctly in arresting Miller and in not contacting the SIU.
In what is being described as an unprecedented move, the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada changed an order this week from one of her colleagues that would have excluded all LGBTQ groups from participating in two upcoming appeals that deal with discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Justice Richard Wagner had decided Friday that the groups would not be permitted to intervene in the cases involving Trinity Western University.
The private Christian university in British Columbia is facing challenges in having its proposed law school accredited in some provinces due to what critics say is a homophobic “community covenant” that bans students from having sex outside of heterosexual marriage.
Wagner’s order Friday faced backlash throughout the weekend on social media, with lawyers and LGBTQ activists expressing outrage over the exclusion of LGBTQ groups.
Some groups representing religious interests were granted leave to intervene, including the Christian Legal Fellowship and the National Coalition of Catholic School Trustees, although other religious groups were excluded.
As is customary, Wagner did not provide reasons for his decision.
Then on Monday, Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin surprised the parties by issuing a new order that “varied” Wagner’s order, declaring that the appeals would be heard over two days, Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, and granting leave to intervene to all 26 groups, including those representing LGBTQ voices.
She also provided no reasons.
“We’re quite delighted that we can continue this case forward to its conclusion,” said lawyer Paul Jonathan Saguil, who represents Start Proud (formerly Out on Bay Street), which supports young LGBTQ professionals including lawyers, and OUTlaws, a coalition of LGBTQ student groups at Canadian law schools.
“Our focus at this point is on next steps,” said lawyer Marcus McCann, who represents LGBTOUT, a queer student association at the University of Toronto. “Our clients are looking forward to putting their perspective before the court in a way that’s useful and provides assistance to the court.”
It is the chief justice’s responsibility to manage the court’s calendar, including adding a second day for an appeal hearing that would make time to hear from more interveners, said lawyer Owen Rees, former executive legal officer at the Supreme Court.
“This is not an overruling,” he told the Star. “It was a varying of an order, and I fully expect that in this context, this would have been a collegial decision and one where the judge who made one order and the chief justice would have been on the same page.”
Lorne Sossin, dean of Osgoode Hall Law School, also pointed out it’s possible that more interveners were added simply because an extra day was set aside for the hearing.
“It may also be that the impression left by Justice Wagner’s initial decision, which granted intervention to some groups bringing additional perspectives on religious freedom, but not groups whose focus was more aligned with LGBTQ and equality rights, could have deprived the court from having the fullest possible array of perspectives for a case that has and will generate significant scrutiny,” he wrote in an email.
“Whatever the rationale or rationales, it is always preferable, in my view, to have some reasons provided where an initial decision is modified.”
The Law Society of Upper Canada, which regulates the legal profession in Ontario, voted 28-21 in 2014 to deny accreditation to Trinity Western because of the community covenant, meaning potential graduates would not be able to practise law in this province.
Law societies in Nova Scotia and British Columbia made similar decisions, but they were later overturned by the courts in those provinces. Meanwhile, the Ontario decision has been upheld by the province’s Court of Appeal. The Appeal Court endorsed the criticism around the covenant last year.
“My conclusion is a simple one,” wrote Justice James MacPherson for a unanimous three-judge panel in a 50-page judgment. “The part of TWU’s community covenant in issue in this appeal is deeply discriminatory to the LGBTQ community, and it hurts.”
Trinity Western appealed that decision to the Supreme Court, while the Law Society of British Columbia appealed from its loss in the B.C. courts.
Interveners are not parties to a case, but have an interest in the matter and can bring a certain perspective to help the court in its decision. They are not permitted to raise new issues and have only five minutes each to present their case before the justices.
McLachlin’s decision Monday to change Wagner’s order regarding interveners left lawyers wondering if this had ever been done before. It would seem not.
“It was a very unusual reversal,” said Ottawa criminal defence lawyer Michael Spratt. “The chief justice’s act certainly left many court watchers and experts scratching their heads … But decisions on leave to intervene or appeal should be more transparent. This may be an opportune time to reconsider some of these procedures.”
After successive fare increases during the first three years of his term, Mayor John Tory says he wants the TTC to freeze the cost of riding transit next year.
Fielding questions at a news conference at the TTC’s Hillcrest Complexon Tuesday, Tory said he expected TTC staff to hold the line on fare prices when they table the agency’s preliminary 2018 financial plans, which could happen within a matter of weeks.
“The work is underway now on the budget and it will be presented as it is. But certainly my wish as the mayor, and I have one vote on the city council when it comes to the budget ultimately, is that it will be presented with no change in the fares,” he said.
The city manager has asked that the TTC and all other agencies make board-approved budget submissions by Oct. 1.
Last November, the TTC board approved a 10-cent fare increase for 2017, pushing the cost of adult ride using a token or Presto card to $3, and an adult Metropass to $146.25.
At the same meeting the board voted in principle to freeze fares in 2018, which is a municipal election year. While the board’s decision on next year’s rates isn’t considered binding, Tory said it was his “expectation” that it would be honoured.
The price of TTC tokens has increased every year for the past six years, and since 2009,the cost of tokens and monthly Metropasses have both gone up by roughly 33 per cent, far outpacing the rate of inflation.
During the 2014 election, Tory promised not to raise fares during his first year in office. He broke that pledge weeks after becoming mayor however, announcing a 10-cent increase the same day he unveiled plans to invest $95 million in transit service and let children 12 and under ride free.
Balancing the TTC’s $2-billion operating budget without a fare increase won’t be easy. Even if the agency doesn’t improve service levels, its costs are expected to increase by at least $126 million next year, according to a May report from the city manager.
Council has already voted to freeze all 2018 department budgets at 2017 levels. In order to make that target without resorting to a fare hike, the TTC would have to offset the expected $126-million increase by cutting costs elsewhere.
“The challenge becomes, how do you balance a budget without (the revenue from a fare increase)?” TTC chair Josh Colle said Tuesday, calling the budget process “a very difficult balancing act.”
The 10-cent fare increase instituted this year was expected to generate $28.7 million in revenue.
“The plan right now is not to increase (fares) and I think commissioners will hold to that commitment,” Colle said.
Jessica Bell, the executive director of transit advocacy group TTCriders, said that a fare freeze is a “step in the right direction,” but argued that the cost of taking the TTC should be slashed.
“We have people all across Toronto who are working on minimum wage, who have difficulty paying all their bills and paying for public transit,” said Bell, who is also the Ontario NDP candidate for University-Rosedale.
Worried friends, families and co-workers of two missing men in Toronto’s LGBTQ community received few answers from police at a Tuesday night meeting at the 519 Community Centre, raising concerns over the pair’s whereabouts.
Officers from a Toronto police team tasked with finding Andrew Kinsman, 49, and Selim Esen, 44, met an overflowing crowd of more than 200 people in the Church and Wellesley neighbourhood.
Toronto police say they have yet to find any criminality in the pair’s disappearances, or connection to three other missing persons cases from 2010-2012.
Among those at 519 Church St. were Kinsman’s two sisters, Patricia and Karen.
Patricia praised her brother’s friends and co-workers for going “above and beyond” in their ongoing efforts with police.
“Keep searching,” she urged the audience.
“All the hours spent and all the miles that have been walked, the police are searching,” echoed Karen, crying. “Andrew’s not alone. There are many more people who are missing.”
Parallel investigations are now being carried out so that officers can share information.
“We do not have a lot of information for you. I understand how frustrating that must be,” said Peter Code, the Toronto police inspector tasked with leading the investigation, who credited the community for sending an abundance of information.
“The police want to know everything. All information is important because we just don’t know what the next piece will lead us to.”
Harold Barnett, a member of the gay community who lives near The 519, attended the town hall after he became worried when someone slipped a note under his door asking him to meet.
“Is it a pattern?” Barnett, 74, wondered, pointing to the pair’s similar appearances.
Both men used internet dating apps and hung out in the Church and Wellesley area, according to police.
Esen, described as 5-10 and 150 pounds with brown eyes, a beard and brown hair, was last seen near Bloor and Yonge Sts.
Kinsman, described as 6-4 and 220 pounds with brown hair and a beard, was last seen near Wellesley and Parliament at 71 Winchester St., where he’s the building’s superintendent.
Code says the investigation never stopped, but that it is now being ramped up with exclusive staffing.
“We thank you for your involvement,” he told the crowd. “Assume whatever you know, we do not know.”
Town hall organizer Greg Downer says the LGBTQ community now needs to work together to build its own task force, one that can plan to better help spread the word about any disappearances.
WASHINGTON—There wasn’t a dramatic public break or an exact moment it happened. But step by step, Senate Republicans are turning their backs on U.S. President Donald Trump.
They defeated an Obamacare repeal bill despite Trump’s pleas. They’re ignoring his Twitter demands that they get back to work on it. They dissed the White House budget director, defended the attorney general against the president’s attacks and passed veto-proof sanctions on Russia over his administration’s objections.
They’re reasserting their independence, which looked sorely diminished in the aftermath of Trump’s surprise election win.
“We work for the American people,” Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina said Tuesday. “We don’t work for the president.”
Those are surprisingly tough words from a Republican whose state Trump won easily less than a year ago. But after six months of controversies and historically low approval ratings, it’s clear Trump isn’t commanding the fear or respect he once did.
Some Republicans no doubt are giving voice to long-held reservations about a man whose election was essentially a hostile takeover of their party. But it is notable that the loudest criticism is coming from the Senate, where few Republicans are burdened with facing an electorate anytime soon. The situation is different in the House, where most Republicans represent conservative districts still loyal to Trump. For those lawmakers, the fear of facing a conservative primary challenger, possibly fuelled by angry Trump followers, is real.
In the most remarkable example of public Trump-bashing, Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona is taking aim at the president and his own party in a new book, writing that “Unnerving silence in the face of an erratic executive branch is an abdication” and marvelling at “the strange spectre of an American president’s seeming affection for strongmen and authoritarians.”
The criticism from Flake is especially striking since he is one of just two GOP senators facing competitive re-election races in next year’s midterm elections, the other being Dean Heller of Nevada. The other 50 Senate Republicans are largely insulated from blowback from Trump’s still-loyal base, at least in the short term, since they won’t face voters for several years.
That is likely contributing to their defiance, which is emerging now after an accumulation of frustrations, culminating in the failure of the health care bill Friday. In particular, senators were aghast over Trump’s recent attacks on their longtime colleague Jeff Sessions, the former Alabama senator who is now attorney general and facing Trump’s wrath over having recused himself from the investigation into possible collaboration between Russia and Trump’s presidential campaign.
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina deemed Trump’s treatment of Sessions “unseemly” and “a sign of great weakness on the part of President Trump.” The comments were echoed by other Republican senators.
Then, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, a former House member, suggested on a Sunday show that the Senate must pass health care before doing anything else. No. 2 Republican John Cornyn didn’t hesitate to go after him.
“I don’t think he’s got much experience in the Senate as I recall, and he’s got a big job,” Cornyn said. “He ought to do that job and let us do our jobs.”
The ill will flows both ways. At Tuesday’s White House briefing, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders pointedly blamed lawmakers for the president’s failures to deliver. “I think what’s hurting the legislative agenda is Congress’ inability to get things passed,” she said.
Trump has been ignoring past warnings from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to stay out of the Senate’s business, tweeting relentless commands in the wake of Friday’s failure on health care that the Senate should eliminate the filibuster rule that requires 60 votes to move forward on much major legislation.
“Mitch M, go to 51 Votes NOW and WIN. IT’S TIME!” the president said over Twitter.
That ignored the fact that Republicans tried to pass the health care bill under rules that required only a simple majority.
So Republicans, in turn, ignored Trump.
“It’s pretty obvious that our problem on health care was not the Democrats,” McConnell said drily on Tuesday. “We didn’t have 50 Republicans.”
Some Republicans say Trump and his administration only made it harder to pass health care by ineptly pressuring Sen. Lisa Murkowski with threats from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke about consequences for her state, which rankled the Alaska senator. She proceeded to postpone votes in the Energy committee she chairs on a group of administration nominees, while saying it was for unrelated reasons, and voted “no” on the health bill.
“I think most Republican senators have their own identity that’s separate from the president,” said Alex Conant, a GOP strategist and former adviser to Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. “If you look at the elections last fall almost every Republican senator who was up for re-election ran ahead of Trump and that’s not a fact that’s lost on Congress.”
The House has been a friendlier place for Trump. Republicans there pushed through a health care bill in May.
“For the most part our caucus is still in support of the president,” said Rep. James Comer of Kentucky. “That doesn’t mean we agree with everything he says and does, but we still support his agenda, his presidency, and we’re not going to fumble the ball.”
In the Senate, though, lawmakers and the president appear to be going their separate ways, with some senators talking as though Trump is almost irrelevant.
“Ever since we’ve been here we’ve really been following our lead, right?” said Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee. “Whether it was the Supreme Court justice or the Russia sanctions bill, attempting to do health care and obviously we did so unsuccessfully, and now we’re moving on to tax reform, but most of this has, almost every bit of this has been 100 per cent internal to Congress.”
Robert Zunke was gentle and soft-spoken, offering a weathered hand and an open door, a Star reporter’s reward for a long search — he had been as elusive as a spectre, but was now as welcoming as an old friend.
Zunke says he’s the artist responsible for crafting lofty structures made of discarded materials, wowing passersby for years, at the Leslie St. Spit.
“I just wanted to get away from Toronto, do something different,” he said, when asked why he was building these structures. “I saw the materials, so I thought I would make something for the people.”
He was the creator of an elaborate complex that had curvy walls, granite benches and walkways winding down to the lake.
His masterpiece appeared on social media and prompted a search for the builder, but the structure had since been demolished — in its place, large tracks criss-crossed parched earth. Last week, a spokesperson for Ports Toronto told the Star it was razed because it posed a risk to visitors.
“Those guys were jealous,” Zunke said about the workers who toppled his work over the edge of the shoreline. “Nothing was gonna knock it down.”
Zunke, who is in his 50s and does maintenance work in downtown buildings, said he called the main structure “Eagle’s Point,” because the top resembled a bird with outstretched wings. There have been multiple versions of the top — including a flaming torch and an arrow — because he has rebuilt the structure 26 times, he said.
“It was shaped like the eagle of the United States army crest,” he said. Surrounding the central column were other wavy structures of brick, made to look like a snail without its shell and a martini glass with a monkey’s head, he said.
The Spit, home to Tommy Thompson Park, is a place that gives him solace.
“It’s quiet out there, peaceful. I don’t like crowds,” said Zunke, who lives alone. “Doing something constructive is more important. Talk is cheap.”
Reaching Zunke, who has been building a variety of structures for the past five years, was difficult. A Star reader sent a tip providing a rough idea of where he lived, and a search of the area revealed concrete blocks rubbed smooth and round by tidewater in front of a downtown apartment building. It seemed the materials had come from the Spit.
As Discovery Channel’s How It’s Made played on a television in the background, Zunke offered a tour of his apartment, including the granite work table where he assembles miniature buildings and greenery for large model train tracks that he sells.
Model trains were everywhere in the small space.
“Trains are what started Toronto,” said Zunke, explaining that he’s had a fascination with locomotives since he was a child.
“They’re antiques,” he said.
Zunke uses few tools to construct his structures at the Spit, aside from a cart affixed to his bicycle to transport building materials and a hammer, he said. He uses the horizon as a level and, with the formidable muscles of his arms, packs sand in tight between joints. The formations are top-heavy so that weight is distributed through the structures down to the ground, which keeps them stable, he said. Heavy support blocks are used to build the towers up — literal stepping stones — in a process Zunke likened to that used in ancient Egypt.
“You feel your way through it: tactile contact,” he said. “I feel quite strongly about that, actually.”
Zunke looked visibly discouraged when asked if he would return to the Spit to rebuild.
“I just don’t know yet. Maybe for the freak of it,” he said.
Despite his low profile, he has admirers: Zunke played his voicemail messages aloud, and at least two were from people asking about his work. Someone was writing poetry on rocks and leaving it for him at Eagle’s Point, he said.
Support like this could give him a second wind.
“That makes me feel good, ’cause then I’ll build more.”