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    Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown is poised to get a star candidate for next year’s election – Caroline Mulroney.

    Mulroney, whose father Brian Mulroney was prime minister from 1984 until 1993, announced Wednesday she will seek the Tory nomination in the riding of York-Simcoe

    “I believe that Ontario finds itself at a crossroads,” the Harvard-educated lawyer and mother of four said in a statement.

    “This election is about offering a positive vision for Ontario – one that respects taxpayers’ money and delivers economic growth and well-paying jobs to the province,” said Mulroney.

    “Making life more affordable for you and your family will guide everything I do at Queen’s Park. Unlike the current government, I will respect the people of Ontario, their hard-earned money, and the choices they make for their families,” she said.

    “As a working mother of four, I am concerned about the future of Ontario and I want to do my part to put it back on a path to prosperity. I’d be honoured to get to work with Patrick Brown and the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party.”

    Currently a vice-president of a Toronto investment firm, she has worked in Canada and the United States and has a home in Georgina, which is in York-Simcoe.

    CBC first reported in June that Mulroney was interested in running provincially.

    Her father has given Brown political advice in recent years and she has some influential supporters, including retiring York-Simcoe MPP Julia Munro and current York-Simcoe MP Peter Van Loan.

    “She is a smart business leader with a knack for building consensus and getting results,” said Munro.

    Van Loan added that “Caroline is a great listener, she cares, and she wants to build a better future.”

    Her candidacy would give the Tories the kind of dynastic star power enjoyed by the federal Liberals, who are led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, son for former prime minister Pierre Trudeau.

    Caroline Mulroney to seek Tory nomination in York-SimcoeCaroline Mulroney to seek Tory nomination in York-Simcoe

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    OTTAWA—Canadian households are evolving, with more same-sex couples, more lone-parent families, more one-person households and more young adults living with their parents.

    The latest release of data from the 2016 census paints a picture of home life in Canada – households, relationships and children.

    There were 14.1 million private households in Canada in 2016 – 9.5 million (67.7 per cent) had at least a married or common-law couple, with or without children, and lone-parent families, according to new numbers released Wednesday.

    The census adds another chapter in the evolution of Canadian homes, dating from Confederation when large rural families had on average 5.6 people per household, a number that dropped to 2.4 by 2016.

    For the first time, people living on their own were the most common type of household, accounting for almost 30 per cent of all households in 2016. That percentage has been steadily increasing since 1951, when it stood at just 7.4 per cent.

    An aging population as well as higher divorce and separation rates have led to more people living alone, said Jonathan Chagnon, a demographer with Statistics Canada.

    But better economic prospects, pensions and increased presence of women in the workforce are also behind the trend, meaning more people are economically independent.

    “There’s an improvement in the standard of living – 150 years ago there was no retirement pension so it was really difficult to live by yourself,” he said. “It can explain why today it’s possible to be in a one-person household.”

    Related stories:

    Canadians speaking more languages, census reveals

    Highlights from the 2016 census

    The number of couples without children is growing faster (up 7.2 per cent) than couples with children (up 2.3 per cent). As a result, the share of couples living with at least one child fell to 51 per cent in 2016, the lowest level ever. “Less couples living with children is partly due to the aging of the population. . . . There’s more and more baby boomers who have seen their children leave,” Chagnon said in an interview.

    Married couples comprise the majority of relationships in 2016 but common-law unions are becoming more common, making up 21 per cent of all couples, up from 6.3 per cent in 1981.

    Common-law unions are on the rise. Nunavut has the highest percentage in the country at 50 per cent, followed by Quebec at 40 per cent. Common-law unions make up 14 per cent of partnerships in Ontario, below the national average of 21 per cent.

    The census counted 72,880 same-sex couples in Canada – slightly more men than women – and one-third were married.

    Same-sex couples remain a very small percentage of all couples – just 0.9 per cent – but a fast-growing segment. In the last decade, the number of same-sex couples has increased by 60 percent, compared with a nine per cent increase in the number of opposite sex couples. About 12 per cent of couples had children living with them.

    Half of all same-sex couples were living in four of the country’s largest urban areas: Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Ottawa-Gatineau.

    Multigenerational households – with at least three generations under the same roof – are also on the rise, growing by 37.5 per cent since 2001. More than two million Canadians live in a multigenerational household, which are most common among immigrant populations and Indigenous peoples.

    More and more, young adults are staying at home. More than one in three (34.7 per cent) young adults aged 20 to 34 were living with at least one adult in 2016, a share that has been rising since 2001 when it stood at 30.6 per cent.

    That number is highest in Ontario where 42 per cent of all young adults live with their parents, by the far the largest share of all provinces and territories and up 20 per cent over the last 15 years, Statistics Canada reports.

    Indeed, almost half all young adults in Toronto and Oshawa are living with their parents, potentially related to the high cost of housing across the Greater Toronto Area.

    Statistics Canada cites a number of potential factors for the trend, including the “temporary benefits in terms of logistical, emotional or financial support” for young people while still in school or job hunting.

    In Ontario, it says a “combination of economic realities, including the high cost of housing, and cultural norms that favour young adults living with their parents for longer” is behind the trend.

    Immigrants, especially those who are arrived as children, and those who are second-generation Canadians were more likely to live with a parent.

    While the trend has been called “boomerang” kids – children who return to the nest – separate research by Statistics Canada has found that the majority of young adults (69 per cent) in fact never left their parents’ homes.

    With more young adults living with Mom and Dad, fewer of them (41.9 per cent) are living a spouse, partner or child, a trend that has been steadily declining since 2001.

    Statistics Canada says similar trends are seen in other jurisdictions such as the United States (34 per cent) and the European Union (48 per cent).

    In 2016, of the 5.8 million children aged 14 and younger living in private households, 70 per cent were living with both of their biological or adoptive parents.

    Lone-parent families are the rise with more than one million children – about 20 per cent – living with a single parent. Of these, the vast majority of children (81.3 per cent) lived with their mother while 18.7 per cent were with their father. But over the last 15 years, the number of children living with a lone father has grown by 34.5 per cent, which Statistics Canada says is the result of changing attitudes and the acknowledgement of the role of fathers as well as legal system that increasingly awards joint custody.

    One in 10 children – 567,270 – were living in a stepfamily. About 83,000 children were living without their biological or adoptive parents, either with their grandparents or other relatives.

    And the family situation can change over the course of a child’s life. While a child is less likely to experience the death of a parent – thanks to increases in life expectancy – the chances of a parental split has been on the rise. One in eight children younger than 1 were living in a one-parent family. But among older children, ages 10 to 14, the proportion of those in a one-parent family increases to one in four.

    Ontario, B.C. and Alberta have the highest percentage of so-called “intact” two-parent families. Nova Scotia has the highest percentage of children living with a lone parent.

    Canada has more same-sex couples, one-person households, census showsCanada has more same-sex couples, one-person households, census shows

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    WASHINGTON—U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed what he called a “seriously flawed” bill imposing new sanctions on Russia, pressured by his Republican Party not to move on his own toward a warmer relationship with Moscow in light of Russian actions.

    The legislation is aimed at punishing Moscow for interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and for its military aggression in Ukraine and Syria, where the Kremlin has backed President Bashar Assad. The law also imposes financial sanctions against Iran and North Korea.

    Trump said the law will “punish and deter bad behaviour by the rogue regimes in Tehran and Pyongyang” and enhance existing sanctions on Moscow.

    Read the latest news on U.S. President Donald Trump

    The president had been reluctant to proceed with the bill, even after it was revised to include some changes that American and European companies sought to ensure that business deals were not stifled by new sanctions. Trump has expressed frustration over Congress’ ability to limit or override the power of the White House on national security matters, saying that it is complicating efforts to co-ordinate with allies — a sentiment he expressed in Wednesday’s statement.

    Last week, the House overwhelmingly backed the bill, 419-3, and the Senate rapidly followed its lead on a 98-2 vote. Those margins guaranteed that Congress would be able to beat back any attempt by Trump to veto the measure.

    The president said Wednesday that he signed the bill “for the sake of national unity.”

    “The bill remains seriously flawed — particularly because it encroaches on the executive branch’s authority to negotiate,” Trump said. “By limiting the executive’s flexibility, this bill makes it harder for the United States to strike good deals for the American people, and will drive China, Russia, and North Korea much closer together.”

    Trump’s talk of extending a hand of co-operation to Russian President Vladimir Putin has been met with resistance as skeptical lawmakers look to limit his leeway. The new measure targets Russia’s energy sector as part of legislation that prevents Trump from easing sanctions on Moscow without congressional approval.

    Those limits, backed by Republicans as well as Democrats, resulted from lawmakers’ worries that Trump might ease the financial hits without first securing concessions from Putin. Republicans refused to budge even after the White House complained that the “congressional review” infringed on Trump’s executive authority.

    Read more:

    Little by little, Senate Republicans are abandoning Donald Trump

    Russia urges U.S. to show ‘political will’ to fix ties as it cuts U.S. diplomatic staff

    GOP-led House set to pass Russia sanctions bill limiting Trump’s authority

    Moscow responded to a White House announcement last week that Trump intended to sign the bill, ordering a reduction in the number of U.S. diplomats in Russia.

    Top members of Trump’s administration voiced their unhappiness with the bill anew this week, echoing his sentiments that it poses more diplomatic hindrances than solutions.

    “Neither the President nor I are very happy about that,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday of the sanctions bill, which he had urged lawmakers not to approve.

    “We were clear that we didn’t think that was going to be helpful to our efforts, but that’s the decision they made,” he said.

    Tillerson conceded that he is unable to show that the U.S. has fulfilled Trump’s objective of a new, more co-operative relationship between the former Cold War foes, noting only modest efforts in Syria as a sign the nations share some common goals. While he said Americans want the U.S. to get along with the nuclear-armed power, he did not address other concerns at home. U.S. intelligence agencies have accused Moscow of meddling in the 2016 presidential election to help Trump.

    “The situation is bad, but believe me — it can get worse,” Tillerson said.

    Vice-President Mike Pence, travelling Tuesday in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, sought to reframe the sanctions as a “further sign of our commitment” to counter Russian aggression in the region.

    “The president and our Congress are unified in our message to Russia: A better relationship, the lifting of sanctions will require Russia to reverse the actions that caused the sanctions to be imposed in the first place,” Pence said. “And not before.”

    Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle celebrated the passage of the sanctions bill.

    “It’s long overdue,” Sen. Mark Warner, the vice chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, said of Trump’s decision to sign the bill nearly a week after it cleared Congress. “Hope we’ll send again a strong message to Russia that we can’t have interference in our elections going forward.”

    Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said he hadn’t read the statement Trump issued announcing that he’d signed the sanctions bill. But Corker, who shepherded the legislation through the Senate, appeared indifferent to Trump’s criticisms. “Somebody pointed it out,” Corker said exiting the Senate chamber after a vote. “That’s fine.”

    Trump signs bill imposing sanctions on Russia as punishment for election meddlingTrump signs bill imposing sanctions on Russia as punishment for election meddling

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    Montreal’s Olympic Stadium will be the first place some newcomers to Canada call home, with the venue starting to be used as a shelter for asylum seekers.

    The first groups were bused to the stadium on Wednesday as Quebec continues to manage a recent influx of people entering the province from the United States.

    Volunteers from the Quebec Red Cross helped set up the cavernous facility for a temporary stay with cots and food in the rotunda.

    Francine Dupuis, who oversees a Quebec government-funded program that helps asylum seekers get on their feet, said the numbers are not what they’re used to handling.

    The stadium was just a temporary solution to deal with the sudden increase and will only be used for a couple of months, she said.

    “We were using hotels and it’s too many places to manage with too few rooms,” Dupuis said. “And there aren’t so many places that can accommodate 300 people like this.”

    Dupuis said with as many as 100 people coming in daily, she has been hunting for secondary spots to house people.

    “We need to take all the offers that are being made to us.”

    According to recent federal government data, figures for June suggested a “pronounced shift” in the number of people arriving in Canada at the Quebec-U.S. border.

    Nationally, the RCMP intercepted 884 people between the ports of entry in June, up from 742 the month before. Of those, 781 were caught in Quebec.

    Overall, Quebec has accounted for 3,350 of the 4,345 people who have crossed into Canada this year, as of late June.

    Read more:

    Illegal border crossings into Canada continue to rise

    Canadian border communities struggle with surge in asylum seekers in past year-end

    Many of those arriving Wednesday were of Haitian descent.

    In the United States, the Trump administration is considering ending a program that granted Haitians so-called “temporary protected status” following the massive earthquake that struck in 2010.

    If the program isn’t extended, as many as 60,000 Haitians could be sent back to their homeland.

    Dupuis said she’s been told many plan to move on to Ontario, but others who speak only Creole may take advantage of Montreal’s large Haitian population.

    Guillaume André, a Montreal community worker, said he’s helped some people who have arrived previously from the United States.

    “Some of them have parents here, friends here, who can help them,” said André, one of several Haitian-Montrealers who welcomed the new arrivals at the Olympic Stadium on Wednesday.

    “We’re here to see how we too can provide help to them.”

    Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, an outspoken critic of the U.S. administration’s immigration policies, went on Twitter to welcome Haitian arrivals and tell them they can count on the city.

    Coderre later tweeted that, according to his own sources, there were 2,500 new arrivals in Quebec via the United States in July, with as many as 500 currently held at St-Bernard-de-Lacolle, at the Quebec-New York border.

    Richard Goldman of the Committee to Aid Refugees said it is too early to say if the spike in the number of asylum seekers will be sustained, but acknowledged that all services are feeling the crunch.

    “Definitely, everything is overloaded and that’s why the Olympic Stadium is being put into service,” said Goldman. “There’s a great demand for all services.”

    Part of the problem is that many of those entering Quebec have no intention of staying here and end up leaving for other cities, notably Toronto.

    Goldman estimates that one-half of the people entering Quebec have plans to move elsewhere.

    “In other words, this overload problem is due to the fact people are here temporarily and are planning to leave,” he said.

    The influx has meant that admissibility hearings, where seekers at the border were getting initial vetting and a hearing date in the city of their choice, are no longer completed in 72 hours as was once the case.

    Instead, those people are sent to Montreal for an appointment that could come one or two months later, Goldman said.

    Quebec Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil and Public Health Minister Lucie Charlebois will provide an update on the situation Thursday.

    Montreal’s Olympic Stadium serves as shelter for asylum-seekers from U.S.Montreal’s Olympic Stadium serves as shelter for asylum-seekers from U.S.

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    Bail conditions have been reduced for a Toronto police officer and his brother, accused of beating Black teenager Dafonte Miller with a metal pipe in Whitby on Dec. 28.

    Const. Michael Theriault, 25, and Christian Theriault, 21, will now be able to consume alcohol, leave their homes at night and leave the province of Ontario while awaiting trial, a judge ruled Wednesday.

    The brothers were arrested two weeks ago and charged by Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit with aggravated assault, assault with a weapon, and public mischief in connection with an incident that left Miller with several broken bones and an eye so badly damaged it will have to be removed.

    Read more:

    Toronto police officer, brother accused of misleading investigators in Dafonte Miller case

    If Toronto police are serious about restoring our faith they need to root out the bad-apple cops: Keenan

    The Theriaults — whose father John Theriault is a longtime Toronto police detective currently assigned to the professional standards unit — were originally released on bail with the conditions that they refrain from contacting Miller, his family, Durham police officers who investigated the incident and other individuals relevant to the case.

    The Theriault brothers were also banned from having firearms, and ordered not to leave the province, not to consume alcohol and not to leave their homes between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. unless they have special permission from their employers.

    Defence lawyers appeared in court Friday to have the Theriaults’ bail conditions changed. On Wednesday a judge decided that the brothers would be allowed to leave the house at night, to leave the province, and to drink alcohol.

    All information shared with the court during the bail process, except for the judge’s decision, is subject to a publication ban.

    It is not uncommon for courts to change bail conditions, particularly if the original restrictions are considered to be overly harsh, said Toronto defence lawyer Daniel Brown, who is not involved in the Theriault case and spoke to the Star about criminal cases in general.

    “You want to make sure the bail conditions reflect the dangers posed (by the accused),” said Brown.

    “It would be inappropriate to bar someone from consuming alcohol (if) alcohol played no role in the offence, but if there were allegations that alcohol was consumed and may have been a contributing factor in the assault you would certainly expect to see some sort of limitations or prohibitions on the consumption of alcohol.”

    Miller’s lawyer, Julian Falconer, has alleged in interviews that the Theriaults had been drinking at the time of the Dec. 28 incident.

    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 were walking down a residential Whitby street shortly before 3 a.m., when they were confronted by the brothers, who had been sitting in the garage of their family home nearby, Falconer said.

    Michael Theriault, who was off-duty at the time, identified himself as a police officer and asked what the young men were doing, Falconer alleged. The Theriaults chased Miller and his friends and caught up with Miller, punching him, kicking him and beating him with a metal pipe, the lawyer said.

    Miller called 911 as the attack continued, Falconer has said. The call history from Miller’s 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 heard the 911 recording, which has not been released publicly.

    Durham police arrived at the scene and charged Miller with theft under $5,000, assault with a weapon and possession of a small amount of marijuana. Those charges were withdrawn by the Crown in May, before going to trial.

    The Theriaults’ mischief charges refer to allegations that they misled investigators, according to court documents.

    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.

    The case is scheduled to return to court on Aug. 10.

    Bail conditions relaxed for cop and brother accused in Dafonte Miller assaultBail conditions relaxed for cop and brother accused in Dafonte Miller assault

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    Newly released data and photos show how shockingly low an Air Canada jet was when it pulled up to avoid crashing into planes waiting on a San Francisco International Airport taxiway last month.

    The Air Canada pilots mistook the taxiway for the runway next to it and flew their jet to just 59 feet (18 metres) above ground before pulling up to attempt another landing, according to National Transportation Safety Board information released Wednesday.

    That’s barely taller than the four planes that were on the taxiway when the incident occurred late at night on July 7.

    Read more:

    Weak aviation oversight making skies more unsafe: Opinion

    ‘Close to the greatest aviation disaster in history:’ Air Canada pilot almost lands on busy taxiway

    Air Canada pilot didn’t mention taxiway near miss to passengers

    Pilots in a United Airlines plane alerted air traffic controllers about the off-course jet, while the crew of a Philippine Airlines jet behind it switched on their plane’s landing lights in an apparent last-ditch danger signal to Air Canada.

    NTSB investigators said they have not determined probable cause for the incident that came within a few feet of becoming one of the worst disasters in aviation history.

    “It was close, much too close,” said John Cox, a safety consultant and retired airline pilot.

    The investigators said that as the Air Canada jet approached the taxiway just before midnight after a flight from Toronto, it was so far off course that it did not appear on a radar system used to prevent runway collisions.

    Those systems were not designed to spot planes that are lined up to land on a taxiway — a rare occurrence, especially for airline pilots. But the Federal Aviation Administration is working on modifications so they can, agency spokesman Ian Gregor said.

    Both pilots of the Air Canada Airbus A320 jet were very experienced. The captain, who was flying the plane, had more than 20,000 hours of flying time, and the co-pilot had about 10,000 hours.

    The pilots told investigators “that they did not recall seeing aircraft on taxiway but that something did not look right to them,” the NTSB said.

    Investigators could not hear what the Air Canada captain and co-pilot said to each other during the aborted landing because their conversation was recorded over when the plane made other flights, starting with a San Francisco-to-Montreal trip the next morning. Recorders are required to capture only the last two hours of a plane’s flying time.

    Peter Fitzpatrick, a spokesman for Air Canada, declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.

    New data, photos show how close Air Canada jet came to crashing at San Francisco airportNew data, photos show how close Air Canada jet came to crashing at San Francisco airport

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    Another police shooting death inquest, and another slew of non-binding recommendations from the jury focusing on better training for officers dealing with individuals in crisis.

    The five-member jury at the coroner’s inquest probing the police shooting death of Michael MacIsaac delivered 38 recommendations Wednesday, with an emphasis on better de-escalation techniques for officers and mental health training that would include “significant participation” from individuals with lived experience of mental health and addiction issues.

    While MacIsaac’s family said they were generally pleased with the recommendations and will now work to see that they get implemented, they also highlighted that many of the recommendations have been made at previous police shooting inquests by different juries, yet deaths continue to happen.

    Read more:

    Family says testimony from three police officers at shooting inquest is inconsistent

    At inquest into death of Michael MacIsaac, cop concedes there was a better way to resolve incident

    Durham cop, who shot and killed Michael MacIsaac, testifies at inquest into MacIsaac’s death

    “I’m sure there have been lots of good recommendations from the inquests that have been had,” Michael’s mother, Yvonne MacIsaac, told reporters Wednesday. “My son would be alive if even a few of them had been followed.”

    Michael MacIsaac, 47, was shot dead on an Ajax street on Dec. 2, 2013, by Durham Regional Police Const. Brian Taylor. The officer, who was cleared of criminal wrongdoing by the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), said a naked MacIsaac was advancing on him with a table leg. The man’s family believes he was in crisis after suffering an epileptic seizure.

    The inquest, which began July 17, was the latest step for the MacIsaac family in determining what exactly happened to Michael that December day. The proceedings heard from a number of civilian witnesses, experts and officers, including Taylor, who conceded on the stand that there could have been a better way to handle the situation.

    As expected, the jury ruled MacIsaac’s death a homicide, a finding that carries no legal weight. Their recommendations include:

    • Extend police training at the Ontario Police College by one week to focus exclusively on de-escalation training.

    • Consider changing the name of the “use of force” model, which outlines in what situations police officers should use force, to something along the lines of the “conflict resolution model,” with a focus on verbal and non-verbal de-escalation and emphasis on the “respect for the sanctity of life.”

    • Mental health training for officers should include the “significant participation” of individuals with lived experiences of mental health and addictions issues.

    • Officers should be trained on using different communication techniques when an individual has not responded to the shouting of commands.

    • All designated mental health officers should be required to requalify annually.

    • Establish a standing committee on mental health to advise Durham Regional Police on policy, training and practice.

    • Adding in-car cameras and body cameras.

    The recommendations were largely adopted from those proposed jointly by all parties to the jury Monday.

    Many members of Michael’s family, including his wife, his mother and four of his sisters, sat in the front row of the courtroom each day of the inquest, sometimes so overcome with emotion while listening to testimony that they had to step out.

    The MacIsaacs have been very vocal in their displeasure with the SIU’s probe of MacIsaac’s death and have spent a considerable amount of time and money over the years conducting their own investigation, including conducting an independent autopsy, consulting with ballistics experts, speaking with witnesses, and having meetings with government ministers. Michael’s sister, Joanne MacIsaac, reiterated her call Wednesday for the SIU to reopen Michael’s case.

    “Going forward, I don’t want this to happen to another family,” MacIsaac told reporters. “It may sound like Pollyanna, but it’s so true. There have been so many families, even since Michael’s death, who we’ve been in communication with. You’re handcuffed to the system years after (the death), you’re thrown into a scenario where your loved one is scrutinized . . . The whole process is hurtful.

    “We’re not the same people we were three years ago. I think I need to take a two-week break, and start again.”

    Durham police spokesman Const. George Tudos said the force will be reviewing the recommendations. The MacIsaacs’ lawyer, Roy Wellington, said he’s spoken with the police force’s lawyer about working on a timetable to begin implementing them.

    The general criticism levelled at coroner’s inquests is that the jury’s recommendations are non-binding and therefore rarely adopted by public institutions including government and the police. Indeed, some recommendations at police shooting inquests, particularly those dealing with de-escalation, continue to be made by inquest juries, who repeatedly highlight a need for better training of police officers when dealing with individuals in crisis.

    At the recent coroner’s inquest into the Toronto police shooting death of Andrew Loku, the jury recommended amending the annual use-of-force recertification for officers to include qualification in areas including mental health, anti-racism, and particularly anti-Black racism.

    The jury at the inquest last year into the Peel police shooting death of Jermaine Carby recommended police develop more effective methods of de-escalation.

    And at the so-called 2014 “JKE inquest” — which probed the Toronto police shooting deaths of Reyal Jardine-Douglas, Sylvia Klibingaitis and Michael Eligon — the jury urged police to learn more about verbal de-escalation techniques, especially when shouting police commands isn’t working, and to take a person’s mental health state into consideration when they are advancing with a sharp weapon.

    “I’ve been through this at least nine times, and it’s been soul-destroying that the same recommendations have to be made over and over again,” said lawyer Anita Szigeti, who represents the Empowerment Council, which advocates for individuals with lived experiences of mental health and/or addictions issues, and who has participated in many police shooting inquests, including the MacIsaac inquest.

    “On the other hand, this jury has added some new things that I’m hoping will be implemented.”

    In particular, Szigeti pointed to the recommendation that an additional week of training at the Ontario Police College be added to solely focus on de-escalation, something she said had not been jointly proposed by the parties.

    “My hope is that the Ministry (of Community Safety and Correctional Services) listens and adds in the necessary time at the Ontario Police College . . . The 12 weeks that they do have is insufficient. We have heard at every single inquest that there is not enough de-escalation emphasis at the OPC and there’s not enough training with respect to individuals in crisis.

    “This would be an important recommendation to implement immediately to prevent future deaths in similar circumstances.”

    Mother of man shot by police says he ‘would be alive if even a few (recommendations) had been followed’Mother of man shot by police says he ‘would be alive if even a few (recommendations) had been followed’Mother of man shot by police says he ‘would be alive if even a few (recommendations) had been followed’Mother of man shot by police says he ‘would be alive if even a few (recommendations) had been followed’

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    There are strange things done in the midnight sun, the old Robert Service poem about an improvised cremation during the Yukon gold rush tells us. The northern lights have seen queer sights. No doubt.

    Add this one to the pile of subarctic oddities: during a stay in the Northwest Territories, Dave Bidini was inspired to launch a new Toronto broadsheet newspaper. A print-only newspaper. In 2017. One that will not sell advertising.

    From the vantage point of most of us here in the media business in the age of Faceboogle, we who are constantly told newspapers are a dying medium, and that news media need to think not just “mobile first” but soon “mobile only,” and that journalism may well be an endangered species — we who see the pink slips of our colleagues pile up to prove it… well, to us, this may look like a form of derangement right up there with Sam McGee and the rest of the “beggard, broken” grub-stakers who populated Service’s poems. Forget the Yukon gold rush. Bidini got a Northwest Territories newspaper rush.

    “The community aspect definitely comes from Yellowknife,” he says of observing the operation of the twice-weekly Yellowknifer, still going strong 45 years after its founding, running no wire copy, focusing on local news reporting, selling papers for “75 cents a pop” using newsboys and girls on street corners, as Bidini wrote in 2015.

    “People come to it to read about the fire on the end of the street or the houseboat that was set adrift. Local news in a community of 20,000. And I was thinking, we have some communities of 20,000 here in Toronto that could use something like that.” He says he wants to “show the neighbourhood back to the neighbours.”

    So it is that Bidini, known around the city as the Rheostatics’ guitarist, author of several fine books and a sometimes newspaper writer who two years ago saw his own column become a victim of the slimming down of the daily press, came to be talking about inspiration in the Gladstone Hotel office of his soon-to-be launched West End Phoenix.

    The plan, laid out by publisher Bidini, managing editor Janet Morassutti, deputy editor Melanie Morassutti, and photo editor Liz Ikiriko at the tail end of their regular Tuesday editorial meeting, is to launch in October and publish a second issue in December. They hope to publish 10 issues in their first year and see where it takes them.

    They’re looking at 20 broadsheet pages, all creative content with no filler. Writers and artists and creative people who live in the area are lined up to write and make art and shoot photos for the paper — Melanie promises creative “Phoenicized” playful versions of community newspaper conventions. Novelist Claudia Dey will write a creative spin on classified ads, Jeff Lemire will create a cartoon, there will be feature stories and profiles of local businesses. The size of the pages offers a “big canvas” for artists and photographers to work on. Contributors will include established literary names and teenaged newcomers and, Bidini says, Indigenous and marginalized community voices.

    It will all be by and about the neighbourhoods that make up the west end of central Toronto — Parkdale and Swansea and Seaton Village, from Bathurst to Jane, south of St. Clair, more or less.

    “The border is a dotted line,” Janet Morassutti says.

    This prompts Melanie to explain they won’t necessarily ignore a great story from somewhere else. She got a call from someone in Mimico complaining his neighbourhood was not included, and told the guy if he had a dynamite story tip, he should pass it along. “I’d send a foreign correspondent to Mimico,” she says.

    Everyone at the table is excited by the idea of print. Bidini says the other end of the Phoenix’s origin story, in addition to the Yellowknife vision, occurred decades ago right here in Toronto. “When I was 11 years old, I had a poem published in the Young Sun in the Toronto Sun,” he says, recalling a feature that took submissions from children. He recalls the pride and excitement of seeing his name, and his work, there on the printed page. “I want to be able to provide that feeling for people in the west end. We have writers coming to talk to us who’ve never been published in print,” he says — though many of them have had bylines in very large online outlets.

    “And they want it,” Melanie says.

    “They want it,” Bidini agrees. “It goes back to what that feeling was like when I was 11 years old. And I’ve realized its okay to be romantic about it.”

    About the substance, the tactile nature of ink on paper, the width and size of the non-scrolling page. Having it hand-delivered to your door, picking it up, and digging into it — a break from the minute-by-minute updates and breaking stories of social media newsfeeds. Something to sit with and read and hold on to, that has been touched by human hands, created over days and weeks of effort, by your neighbours. There is something romantic about that. Small-batch artisanal media.

    “Slow news,” Melanie, who used to work at the Globe and Mail, calls it. “I can’t emphasize enough the pleasure of working on something at this pace. It’s the opposite of news in a digital environment. We have time for idea development. I have time for meetings with writers. It feels so good.”

    It feels almost crass to intrude with a question about the business of it. Though it’s a non-profit that will sell no advertising (which, Janet says, looking at the bottom lines of big newspaper companies means they have an “achievable goal to start where everyone else wound up”), it will pay its contributors and have bills for printing and whatnot. How will they do that?

    Partly, Bidini says, through accepting donations from “Patrons” on their website , where more people than they had anticipated have chipped in $500 to help get them started. Partly by selling annual subscriptions at $56.50 each. So far, Bidini reports, the have 750 subscribers. The team figures to get to 2,000 by their October launch to make the paper sustainable. Then they hope to get to reach 5,000 by the end of their first year.

    In pursuit of that goal, Bidini and his team have been going door to door, meeting people in the neighbourhood and telling them about the newspaper. “I have to try to engage every potential subscriber,” he says. “Mario, who I met who lives on Gladstone, he isn’t on the internet. He’s not on social media.” At the doorstep, they meet as neighbours face-to-face, learn about each other and the community, develop a relationship. Which is right in line with the purpose it seems the West End Phoenix intends to serve.

    It may sound wild in the digital age. It certainly sounds old fashioned. It also sounds like a lot of fun.

    Edward Keenan writes on city issues Follow: @thekeenanwire

    Dave Bidini is bringing small-batch artisanal print media to Toronto’s west end: KeenanDave Bidini is bringing small-batch artisanal print media to Toronto’s west end: Keenan

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    WASHINGTON—The White House said Wednesday that compliments President Donald Trump described receiving from the Mexican president and the Boy Scouts of America happened — just not on the phone, as Trump had claimed.

    “I wouldn’t say it was a lie. That’s a pretty bold accusation,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters. “The conversations took place, they just simply didn’t take place over a phone call. . . . He had them in person.”

    It was the latest episode in Trump’s rocky relationship with facts, raising questions about his credibility six tumultuous months into his presidency. A Quinnipiac University National Poll conducted July 27-Aug. 1 found that 34 per cent of Americans say Trump is “honest,” an all-time low for him.

    Sanders was responding to questions about a statement from the Mexican government denying what Trump described as a recent phone call with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. Trump said earlier this week that Pena Nieto had called him to praise his immigration policies.

    “As you know, the border was a tremendous problem and they’re close to 80 per cent stoppage. Even the president of Mexico called me. They said their southern border, very few people are coming because they know they’re not going to get through our border, which is the ultimate compliment,” Trump said Monday.

    Sanders said Trump had been “referencing a conversation that they had had at the G-20 summit where they specifically talked about the issues that he referenced.”

    Meanwhile, the Boy Scouts denied Wednesday that the head of the youth organization called Trump to shower praise on his politically aggressive speech to its national jamboree in West Virginia. President Randall Stephenson and chief Scout executive Mike Surbaugh later apologized to members of the scouting community who were offended by Trump’s political rhetoric.

    Trump told The Wall Street Journal in an interview last week, “I got a call from the head of the Boy Scouts saying it was the greatest speech that was ever made to them, and they were very thankful.”

    Sanders said the president was making reference to “multiple members of the Boy Scout leadership” who “congratulated him, praised him and offered quite powerful compliments following his speech.”

    But she acknowledged no member of the leadership called the president.

    Trump’s claim of compliments from Mexican president, top Boy Scout not quite . . . accurateTrump’s claim of compliments from Mexican president, top Boy Scout not quite . . . accurate

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    A poem at the Statue of Liberty that is a national symbol for the country’s embrace of immigrants became the topic of a rancorous exchange Wednesday at a White House news conference to announce President Donald Trump’s push for immigration reform.

    Senior White House aide Stephen Miller told reporters the poem written by Emma Lazarus about the “huddled masses” is not part of the original Statue of Liberty.

    Miller said the statue is a “symbol of American liberty lighting the world” and suggested it had little to do with immigrants.

    Read the latest on U.S. President Donald Trump

    Miller’s comment prompted ridicule on social media and angry responses from immigrant rights advocates.

    Miller was responding to a question from CNN reporter Jim Acosta asking if the Trump administration’s new merit-based green card proposal was keeping with U.S. tradition.

    The reporter read a line of the Lazarus sonnet, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses.”

    “The poem you were referring to was added later,” Miller said. “It’s not actually part of the originally Statue of Liberty.”

    Read more:

    Trump’s claim of compliments from Mexican president and top Boy Scout not quite ... accurate

    Trump’s tweets often blindside advisors in high-level policy decisions

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    The National Park Service says Lazarus’ sonnet depicts the statue “as the ‘Mother of Exiles:’ a symbol of immigration and opportunity — symbols associated with the Statue of Liberty today.”

    The statue was a gift from France commemorating its alliance with the United States during the American Revolution. Edouard de Laboulaye, a French political thinker and abolitionist, proposed the idea of the statue and made sure broken shackle and chain were at the right foot of the statue.

    Writers and authors later asked Emma Lazarus, a poet and descendant of Jewish immigrants, to write a sonnet to be sold at an auction to raise money for a pedestal to hold the Statue of Liberty.

    She wrote “The New Colossus” on Nov. 2, 1883, inspired by the plight of immigrants and refugees and her own experiences. The poem appeared in Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World and The New York Times.

    She died four years later and the poem eventually faded from public memory.

    In 1901, a Lazarus friend, Georgina Schuyler, found a book containing the poem and started an effort to resurrect the work. Her words were eventually inscribed on a plaque and placed on the statue’s pedestal.

    Part of the poem reads, “Give me your tired, your poor,

    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”

    The Statue of Liberty and nearby Ellis Island have since become welcoming symbols for immigrants and refugees coming to the United States.

    It draws thousands of visitors each day.

    Trump aide dismisses ‘huddled masses’ poem on Statue of LibertyTrump aide dismisses ‘huddled masses’ poem on Statue of Liberty

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    The Blue Jays have clearly thrown in the towel for this season. Already thin in starting pitching, with Aaron Sanchez battling blister problems, Jays general manager Ross Atkins traded left-hander Francisco Liriano to the Astros for a solid outfield prospect and veteran outfielder Nori Aoki. Then he sent key setup man Joe Smith to Cleveland for prospects.

    We should get a sense of their direction with their payroll and roster decisions. Could president Mark Shapiro and Atkins be open to dealing away the final year of Josh Donaldson before he hits free agency and still intend or pretend to contend? How much will the Jays have available for off-season free agents?

    The Payroll

    The Jays’ opening day payroll for 2017 was $163.4 million (all figures in U.S. dollars), according to the respected website Cot’s Baseball Contracts. That was the highest in the history of the franchise.

    The Jays will be divesting themselves of $55.4 million in expiring free-agent contracts, led by Jose Bautista’s mutual option that the club will surely decline with a half-million dollar buyout. Bautista earned $18.5 million in 2017. Other free agents include Marco Estrada ($14M), J.P. Howell ($3M), Darwin Barney ($2.89M), Chris Coghlan ($3M) and Miguel Montero ($14M).

    There are seven returning players in 2018 with guaranteed contracts totalling $75.9 million. That list includes Russ Martin and Troy Tulowitzki at $20 million each, J.A. Happ ($13M), Kendrys Morales ($11M), Steve Pearce ($6.25M), Justin Smoak ($4.125M), and Cuban prospect Lourdes Gurriel ($1M), who has a guaranteed, major-league, six-year deal.

    A record nine Blue Jays will be eligible for salary arbitration next February, including Donaldson, starters Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez, closer Roberto Osuna and centre fielder Kevin Pillar. The Jays will likely either trade or non-tender the contracts of Ezequiel Carrera and Aoki.

    If the Jays do not trade Donaldson and the expected numbers are settled upon in arbitration, that group of seven will earn approximately $50 million, giving the Jays 14 players at $125.9 million. Assuming the Jays plan on entering 2018 with the same payroll they started 2017 with, that leaves about $37.5 million for 11 more controllable players or potential free-agent signings. That provides flexibility and the ability to make some off-season additions.

    If Shapiro and Atkins chose to fill those remaining spots with internal options, pre-arbitration guys with major-league experience, they could do it with the likes of Dominic Leone, Joe Biagini, Ryan Tepera, Anthony Alford, Danny Barnes, Luke Maile, Rob Refsnyder, Dalton Pompey and Mike Bolsinger. That mix would combine to cost a mere $8.5-million, leaving the Jays around $29 million to spend on free-agency — and that’s with the Jays keeping Donaldson.

    The Donaldson dilemma

    The Blue Jays have Donaldson for one more year. He is one of the five best third basemen in baseball, but will join the Orioles’ Manny Machado and Washington outfielder Bryce Harper on the huge free-agent market following the 2018 season.

    If the Jays keep Donaldson, they will still have three major holes to fill — two reliable starting pitchers and one hard-hitting corner outfielder. They could hang onto Donaldson for an arbitration salary of about $23 million, but they would lose him after next year because they will never be willing to give him a five-year deal of close to $30 million annually. Not for a 33-year-old Bringer of Rain who has just had a 2017 season of pain.

    A trade this off-season could fill one of their immediate needs at the major-league level, while adding two or three top prospects. There are at least eight major-league teams that have the need and the financial resources to target the third baseman. A healthy Donaldson is very attractive for a team that could also sign him long term.

    The 2018 outlook

    If second baseman Devon Travis, who has yet to play a full major-league season, returns from his knee troubles and contributes, if Sanchez is over his blister problems, if Gurriel is ready to play in the majors, and if the Jays roll the dice and trade Donaldson, they just might contend.

    They would need to get a solid starting pitcher in the package for Donaldson, and use the payroll space to trade for another starter, plus an outfielder. It’s in the outfield where the Jays need to become more athletic.

    Even if they do keep Donaldson for his farewell season, they will have payroll available to fill some of their needs, but ownership knows that fans at the ballpark and viewers across the country will not put up with reduced payroll and a rebuild. The people have put the Jays in a position where they must build a contender.

    If the Jays roll the dice and trade Donaldson, they just might contend next yearIf the Jays roll the dice and trade Donaldson, they just might contend next year

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    Trying to find an apartment in Toronto is a lot like online dating, only more demoralizing.

    Ask Kin Lau. Normally, landlords would be swiping right on him. He’s got a perfect credit score and a good job. But last week he drove 40 minutes to check out a one-bedroom — only to discover another suitor had snapped it up first.

    “Do people just not go to see the place before renting?” said Lau, a 25-year-old accountant.

    He just wants an apartment viewing. Is that too much to ask?

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    Renting in Toronto is the hardest it’s ever been. Home prices have doubled since 2008, so buying is out of reach for many people. That’s pushed Toronto rents to record highs, approaching those in Brooklyn and London. Potential tenants are so desperate they’re driving the streets looking for rentals and creating web profiles, similar to dating bios, to attract landlords. And prices are likely to keep rising given new laws that builders say discourage construction.

    “I can’t take clients with mediocre credit anymore, because landlords don’t even look at them,” said Conrad Rygier, a broker at Keller Williams Realty Inc. “I’ve seen a lot of frustration. Downtown is just absolute craziness.”

    Investors, lenders and Canadians looking for places to live are wondering how much longer the home-price boom can last. Although values have fallen 17 per cent since March, compared with a 3-per-cent gain in the same period last year, the average price of a detached home in Toronto is still near a record at $1.39 million.

    Rental supply is down to two weeks, meaning it would take that long to rent everything in town, and average rents have hit an all-time high.

    Toronto mostly has three types of rental properties: privately owned condominium suites, rental buildings with a central landlord, and space in a private home. Supplies of all three are squeezed.

    There are 1,125 condominium units available for rent in the city, down 13 per cent from last year, according to second-quarter data from Urbanation Inc. It’s also a record low for the period in Toronto.

    Rents jumped 11 per cent in the last year, blowing past the $2,000-a-month threshold for the first time, to $2,073 (about $1,644 U.S.), and nearing Brooklyn-level prices. In the Crown Heights section of the New York City borough, landlords ask an average $2,089 (U.S.) for a one-bedroom, according to June data from Brooklyn brokerage MNS Brands Inc. In greater London, average rent for new units in May fell to £1,502 ($1,960 U.S.), according to HomeLet.

    For newer rental-only towers, the vacancy rate reached a low of 0.1 per cent in the second quarter. In April the province of Ontario introduced the most sweeping rental rules in a quarter century. They cap rent increases at 2.5 per cent and extend rent controls to apartments built after 1991, which builders say will constrict new construction. It will likely keep renters climbing over one another to get a date with a landlord. Lau, the accountant, said he had four landlords cancel on him in two days.

    As for basement apartments and other unofficial listings, a segment of the market not actively tracked, good luck.

    Horror stories abound. Stephanie and Stephane Leonard spent more than a month checking online listings and cruising the city streets in their silver Audi, hunting for “For Lease” signs in house windows. In desperation, they posted an advertisement online that reads like a dating profile: charming, dependable and mature. Seeking: a one-bedroom rental. They joined dozens of others posting similar online ads.

    “It got to the point where I would monitor Kijiji for properties as soon as they popped up, and even then we couldn’t always get a showing,” said Stephanie Leonard, a 47-year-old training-manual writer, referring to the popular classifieds website. “I’ve moved around a lot in my life, and this is the hardest time I’ve ever had finding a place.”

    The Leonards ended up renting one floor of a house in Mimico, an emerging neighbourhood along the water about a 30-minute drive from Toronto, with two other tenants living on the other floors. It wasn’t a perfect match, but it works for now.

    Others aren’t so lucky. Dayna and Theo Block have to move to the city by Sept. 7, when Theo starts classes at the University of Toronto, joining the 100,000 other people migrating to the city each year. Their online ad, with a photo of the pair in a meadow by a wood fence, describes the 21-year-olds as a young, polite couple seeking to spend no more than C$825 a month. They’re getting more emails from scam artists asking for money than from landlords.

    “I want to tell people, ‘You don’t understand. We just need a place to live. The bare minimum,’” Dayna Block said by phone from their basement apartment in the western province of Alberta, Canada’s oil-producing region. The couple have even offered to pay rent for August despite not living in the city.

    Landlords are ecstatic at their good fortune. Jeff Medley listed his downtown Toronto “nothing special” 600-square-foot (56-square-meter) condo on a Wednesday. On Thursday, the winner of a bidding war agreed to pay C$1,850 a month for the place he’d offered for C$1,800.

    “Each time I’ve rented it, I’ve got more,” Medley said. “Nothing has changed about the unit.”

    Unless there’s an influx of supply or a slowing of demand, the market will only become more unhinged, said Rygier, the Keller Williams broker.

    “I was going to say, ‘If it’s a reasonably priced suite,’” he said. “But that’s an oxymoron these days.”

    As Toronto rents near Brooklyn-level prices, tenants grow desperateAs Toronto rents near Brooklyn-level prices, tenants grow desperate

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    Brett Alford-Jones saw the orange scrawl on the garage of the Pickering home where he lives with his husband Paul on Tuesday evening, after picking up their 5-year-old daughter from ballet practice.

    A misspelled gay slur. Then “Time to move. 30 days.”

    She didn’t see it, but the hate-filled threat has left the couple suddenly terrified about the safety of their daughter, their home and their community.

    The threat is in the “30 days,” Paul said in an interview Wednesday, between speaking to police and arranging for a new security system.

    “But you have to stand in the face of fear, right? If we don’t say something they are going to do this to other people,” he said. “You have to stand up and fight hate.”

    Durham Regional Police are investigating the incident as a “possible hate crime.”

    Spokesperson Const. George Tudos said the case will be assigned to investigators who will determine whether it is a hate-motivated crime based on information such as the perpetrator’s intention.

    The police are not aware of any similar incidents and ask anyone with information contact the police non-emergency line, he said.

    The graffiti in full says: “We Don’t Like fagot. Time to Move. 30 Days.”

    The “we” is especially galling to Paul.

    “It makes me feel like it’s the community that doesn’t want us here. But this is Canada and I have the right to live anywhere,” he said.

    Paul says the officers who responded on Wednesday morning at around 8 a.m. were professional and concerned. However, he wonders why they were unable to respond earlier. Brett called the police non-emergency line immediately on Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. When Paul arrived home at 7 p.m., no officer had arrived and he was told when he called that the officer who had been on his way had been called off to an emergency.

    By 11:30 p.m. no officer had come, and Paul said they tried to go to sleep. Having all the kitchen knives next to the bed did nothing to stop the nightmarish scenarios playing in his head.

    Tudos said that he couldn’t say specifically why the call was not responded to sooner, but said it often depends on manpower available, the number of calls coming in and noted that Whitby had a busy night, which could have resulted in some Pickering officers being sent there.

    He said Durham police take incidents targeting people based on sexual orientation or race very seriously and “will make sure we do a thorough investigation and find out who is responsible.”

    The most obvious charge would be “wilful promotion of hatred,” said lawyer Gerald Chan, who is not involved in this case. “It is communicating statements other than in a private conversation that wilfully promote hatred against an identifiable group.”

    That charge requires specific permission from the Ministry of the Attorney General. The content of the graffiti could also be considered uttering threats, Chan said.

    Chan said that while some cases involving hate-related charges are controversial or hard to prove because of concerns about free speech, this instance seems clear-cut.

    “I think it’s a challenge of finding out who did this. But the words themselves and the context of the words makes it pretty clear that this is an act of hatred,” he said.

    Paul and Brett, who have been married for 13 years, lived in downtown Toronto and in a small town before moving to Brett’s hometown of Pickering a year ago. Paul said they have never encountered anything even remotely like this before.

    He is concerned about how they came to be targeted — there is no outward indication that a gay couple lives in the home, he said. And he can’t stop thinking about what will happen when the 30 days are up.

    “I want to spread awareness that this does happen,” he said. “Realistically this is why things like Pride still need to be around. People don’t think that this happens, especially in the GTA.”

    Friends will help paint over the graffiti on Wednesday night, he said.

    “A good response from the community would be that ‘we’ (in the graffiti) is not us.”

    Gay couple determined to 'stand up' in face of threat scrawled on their garage in PickeringGay couple determined to 'stand up' in face of threat scrawled on their garage in Pickering

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    The vibe at legendary hairdresser House of Lords was electric on Wednesday afternoon. Dance music blared in the studio and spilled onto Yonge St. as guests chatted on a purple couch under small disco balls that hung from the ceiling.

    One would never suspect that the famed institution was living its last days.

    On Tuesday, Paul Burford, the owner of House Of Lords, declared on Facebook that he was closing his studio due to increasing property taxes. He told his staff on Wednesday that the studio would close on October 1, after 51 years of operation.

    “I’m closing down, I made a decision, I’ve had enough, I’m 75, I work every day,” said Burford. “You try to give the customer a good deal, keep the prices down, employ 20 people, and then they whack you with double tax,” said Burford, standing outside of his truck with House of Lords branding painted on it.

    “The mayor, I see him today on TV talking about bicycles. We’ve got another zillion dollars worth of bicycles . . . but for Christ’s sake, give us a break on Yonge St.”

    Don Peat, a spokesperson for the mayor, said in response that Tory “has delivered three budgets that have kept the annual property tax increase at or below the rate of inflation. He understands the importance of keeping the city affordable.

    “The Mayor’s office asked City staff to examine the issues raised by the owner of 639 Yonge Street,” Peat said.

    Over the years House of Lords came to be much more than a hair salon. Burford would throw record release parties, host album launches, and perform live radio broadcasts from the salon.

    Rock stars have always been a part of the studio’s history. A signed photo of Axl Rose sits prominently above a workstation, while a photo from 1969 depicts a line going out the door when a young David Bowie was getting a trim.

    The list goes on, with artists from Rod Stewart to Kiefer Sutherland to Lights all patrons of the salon.

    The stylists spoke highly of Burford, who they affectionately call “Daddy Cash.”

    “He’s saved more lives and launched more careers than anybody single-handedly in Toronto’s history,” said Melanie Lemieux, a stylist at the studio who has worked there for 14 years.

    “If it weren’t for Paul, I’d probably be dead in a ditch overdosed,” Lemieux said.

    “He’s taken people off the street and given them an opportunity to rebuild their lives, no questions asked . . . I’m one of them.”

    “Our boss (Burford), as crazy as he is, he has the biggest heart,” said Irene Hedrich, a stylist who has worked at House of Lords for eight years and worked her last day on Wednesday.

    “It feels surreal, you always think it’s going to be here . . . you try another job and it doesn’t work out, you always know you have House of Lords to come back to because Paul always allows you to come back because he’s nice like that.”

    Every morning, Burford blows up multicoloured balloons with the company logo and hangs them on a string inside and outside the studio.

    With the help of his daughter Tabitha, Burford curates the dance music he blasts in the salon, which is in stark contrast to the rock legends he commemorates on the studio’s walls.

    “It makes the stylists work faster,” said Debby Kaltsounis, who has been at House of Lords for four years.

    Throughout the day, he tells his staff to turn up the volume on the upbeat electronic music that “attracts all the weirdos to the shop,” according to Kaltsounis.

    Customer Orrie Herbert has been getting his hair cut at House of Lords for eight years.

    “I always came for (stylist) Robert, he was really quick.” Now that the studio is closing down, he isn’t sure where he’ll go.

    “I’ll just have to ask around, I guess.”

    Kaltsounis, who will be opening her own salon, plans to take a page out of Burford’s book by having balloons and loud music in her studio. She plans to bring some House of Lords staff as they’ll soon find themselves without jobs.

    “It’s the end of an era,” said Lemieux.

    Famed House of Lords salon hangs up the scissors after 51 yearsFamed House of Lords salon hangs up the scissors after 51 years

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    There were two empty trains. And then Freedom came for us.

    Isn’t that always the way?

    On Monday night, I joined a raucous, occasionally solemn throng of people at Union Station for the annual Underground Freedom Train Ride, a subway trip to commemorate Emancipation Day (Aug. 1).

    When Itah Sadu, owner of A Different Booklist, implored us Black folk to “think about the things that we do each and every day — every day excellence — not exceptional things but every day excellence,” I knew I was in for something special.

    (Like, I never thought I’d hear a call for everyday excellence followed up by recognizing the Toronto Transition Commission. The steamy heat of the subway platform and the subway’s air conditioning are low-key anti-Black, but that is an idle complaint for another day.)

    No, the something special was hearing Zanana Akande, the conductor for the Underground Freedom Train and a luminary of the Black community, say, “We’re in Canada. And sometimes — not all the time — I wonder if we’re free.”

    Standing beside Mayor John Tory, she continued, “When I have to worry about my son — and no longer my son, my grandson — to see that they have favour with who might meet them on the road or that they might end up hurt, I wonder.

    If, when times are rough, some of us, many of us, are unemployed. And when times are good, most of us are underemployed.”

    Nearly two centuries after the British officially ended slavery, Black people in Canada still worry about being safe and getting paid.

    Zipping up the University line, first in silence then in song, I thought about how I’d spent the day before Emancipation Day thinking about the money Black women are owed.

    According to the American non-profit the National Women’s Law Centre, Black women are paid 63 cents to every dollar a white, non-Hispanic man earns. This means that Black women would have to work until July 31st of the following year to earn what a man made in the previous year.

    I’m always on the hunt for a day off so I wondered when this day would be for Black Canadian women. Finding this information is nigh impossible. Diversity is our strength until you want to put some data on it.

    “Black people are surveilled and counted in so many ways,” says Anita Khanna, national co-ordinator for Campaign 2000, “but yet we don’t have data about the impact of that in terms of the poverty rates that they’re living under or the ways that interventions are needed to address those poverty rates.”

    What we do have shows a troubling state for Black women. Although in 2011 Black women earned 87 cents to the dollar that white women earn, they were still disproportionately impacted by poverty, says Sheila Block, chief economist for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. While they earned more than some racialized groups, they were overrepresented in the ranks of poverty.

    For Black and racialized women, the wage gap is not solely a measure of women’s rise in the labour force. It is a difference that makes it harder to feed kids, send them to safe schools, live in affordable houses and develop thriving communities.

    In my life, it has been Black women who have taken up the burdens of leadership, community organizing and building coalitions — the Auntie Squad that I fear/aspire to join. On the Freedom Train, it was clear that Black women were in charge.

    So many women have done this great work with little to show for it. It is both a testament to their fortitude and an indictment of the systems that keep them underpaid, overworked and impoverished.

    It is those systems that now have work to do. Cause Black women are busy enough.

    Perhaps the supposedly excellent TTC (I’ll admit they provided a safe and orderly ride on Monday) could begin by offering income transparency, as well as a breakdown of salaries by the race of their employees. An idea City Hall might also consider.

    Having access to data like that would be a start. As the census data rolls out, the federal government should provide more race- and gender-based data.

    It’s a job for every level of government. Says Block, “You can’t make good policy without good data.”

    Or as the good Conductor Akande said, “And by God, before we close our eyes, let’s make sure that we’re all free.”

    Vicky Mochama is a co-host of the podcast, Safe Space. Her column appears every second Thursday. She also writes a triweekly column for Metro News that mixes politics, news and humour.

    The Freedom Ride has yet to reach the station: MochamaThe Freedom Ride has yet to reach the station: Mochama

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    Kathleen Wynne can’t seem to buy a break this summer when it comes to bad news.

    With her personal approval rating near all-time lows and the Liberals continuing to trail the Conservatives badly in opinion polls, the Ontario premier is facing a fresh wave of negative news with just 10 months to go before the next election.

    First, Wynne will come under heavy public scrutiny when she testifies in early September in a Sudbury bribery trial in which her former deputy chief of staff Patricia Sorbara and Liberal fundraiser Gerry Lougheed are accused of violating Elections Act laws. The trial will revive charges that her government is riddled with scandals.

    Second, a new poll taken in mid-July suggests the Liberals may suffer huge electoral losses in downtown Toronto, considered the strongest of the party’s strongholds.

    The survey, conducted by Mainstream Research and provided to QP Briefing newsletter, indicated 49 per cent of voters in the city of Toronto support the Tories, 31 per cent the Liberals and 15 per cent the NDP. Even in the downtown core the Conservatives led the Liberals by a 43-37 margin.

    If the results hold, the Liberals could be heading for a massive defeat in the June 7, 2018, election, given that the Conservatives have solid leads in almost all parts of Ontario. Indeed, there’s a real possibility the Liberals could finish in third place if the NDP holds on to the 20 seats it now has in the legislature.

    Third, Wynne lost one of her key cabinet ministers when Environment Minister Glen Murray resigned on Monday. Murray, who represents the Toronto Centre riding, isn’t the first Liberal MPP to jump ship before the coming election — and he isn’t likely to be the last.

    While both Wynne and Murray, who will now head the Calgary-based Pembina Institute, insisted the resignation isn’t a vote of non-confidence in the Liberals’ re-election chances, a high turnover rate in a ruling party’s ranks is often a signal of bad results to come.

    That was true in the 2015 federal election when Stephen Harper lost more than 25 per cent of his caucus, including high-profile ministers, such as John Baird, Peter MacKay and James Moore, before the vote was called.

    In the past year, several other Ontario cabinet ministers have resigned, including Madeleine Meilleur in Ottawa and David Orazietti in Sault Ste. Marie. Speaker Dave Levac has announced he won’t seek reelection, as has veteran Toronto MPPs Mario Sergio and Monte Kwinter. Both have been at Queen’s Park for decades. Kwinter, at 86, is actually the oldest MPP ever to serve.

    The Conservatives have nominated virtually all their candidates for the 2018 election. However, the Liberals still have dozens of ridings without candidates, including many occupied by a sitting MPP.

    Even Wynne expects even more of her MPPs to pack it in.

    Their public reasons will range from having served for decades, wanting more time to spend with family or finding a new job in the private or public sector. None will admit they are leaving because they see the Liberals as a sinking ship and they fear they will lose seats in the next election or be relegated to the backbench opposition row.

    At Queen’s Park, Liberal insiders insist the current turnover is all part of normal churn, suggesting that “at the end of the day you need a slate of candidates that balances experience with new blood.”

    As for Glen Murray, his resignation won’t put his seat is in jeopardy. It’s considered the second safest Liberal riding in Ontario, topped only by Health Minister Eric Hoskins’ downtown Toronto riding of St. Paul’s.

    “There’s no good time to get into politics and no great time to get out of politics.” Murray told reporters.

    True, but it sure doesn’t help an embattled leader like Wynne when a key cabinet minister suddenly quits on the eve of an election.

    Indeed, it can cause any party to scramble for high-profile replacements and the party can lose the advantage of name recognition, which is critical in close riding races.

    For Wynne, though, such a last-minute resignation, coupled with the bad Toronto poll result and the coming Sudbury election bribery trial, only addsw to her misery.

    If she can survive this summer’s wave of bad news and start to reverse her party’s fortunes this fall, she will give the Liberals some hope that an election miracle is possible by the time next summer rolls around.

    Bob Hepburn's column appears Thursday.

    Bad news keeps coming for Kathleen Wynne: HepburnBad news keeps coming for Kathleen Wynne: Hepburn

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    A Toronto legal clinic that has advocated for the Black community for over two decades is in jeopardy of having its funding cut amid allegations of financial mismanagement.

    The African Canadian Legal Clinic has failed to address a number of issues, including misuse of public funds, since they first surfaced in 2009, according to a June 2016 decision from a committee of Legal Aid Ontario’s board of directors. The decision, obtained this summer by Metro, found the clinic was in “fundamental breach of its obligations” under its funding agreement with Legal Aid Ontario.

    The decision specifically cites an audit by independent auditors PwC, which names Margaret Parsons, the clinic’s executive director, and found she charged $754 for a diamond ring to a company credit card in 2007. Auditors found no evidence the money had been paid back.

    The decision also alleges the clinic used money from undisclosed staff vacancies to pay out $170,000 in bonuses, including $121,000 that went to Parsons.

    In an interview with Metro, Parsons denied any wrongdoing and said no public funds were ever misused. She did not deny that she bought the ring with the card but says she “paid it back twice” and provided auditors with a receipt. She also said the clinic was transparent about staff vacancies and she never gave or received the bonuses.

    “We've always been treated as a pariah of the clinic system,” she said, adding the African Canadian Legal Clinic has been held to a “higher standard” than other community legal clinics.

    “They have never given us a fair shake,” she said about Legal Aid.

    Parsons said the non-profit clinic has 26 employees, with a budget of about $1.7 million a year that's “for the most part public funding.”

    The clinic committee of Legal Aid’s board of directors is expected to decide in the next few weeks if it will suspend the funding it provides. The money makes up 35 per cent of the clinic’s total annual income, according to Legal Aid, which Parsons confirmed. In 2016-17, Legal Aid gave $669,730 to the clinic, Legal Aid spokesman Graeme Burk said.

    Since 1994, the African Canadian Legal Clinic has advocated for the Black community on issues ranging from school board discrimination to carding.

    “Before Black Lives Matter was around, this clinic was talking about anti-Black racism when no one wanted to say the word,” Parsons said.

    Legal Aid's concerns date back several years.

    A 2003 forensic audit by Legal Aid Ontario identified several problems with management at the African Canadian Legal Clinic, the Toronto Star reported. Later that year, Legal Aid and the clinic’s board of directors announced a plan to address concerns, including accounting problems, according to the Star.

    Legal Aid staff became concerned again in 2009 following the resignation of two clinic board members over concerns of “financial irregularities” and “gross misconduct and illegalities,” the June 2016 decision states, referencing emails from the board members. Legal Aid hired PwC to complete a forensic audit that was finalized in 2013.

    Parsons disputes that the board members resigned because of financial concerns and said it was the clinic that requested the PwC audit.

    The PwC audit also found that a clinic credit card was used to buy alcohol from the LCBO for on-site “Bacardi Friday” events.

    A separate 2014 report from Legal Aid found $6,650 in unexplained cash advances using the African Canadian Legal Clinic's credit card and flagged $39,007 spent on taxis in Toronto.

    Parsons said in the interview that the taxis were legitimate travel expenses for clinic employees. She said the unexplained cash advances and alcohol purchases are due to a few employees who were immediately fired when she found out. She also said that the money was paid back to the clinic.

    Based on that report, the clinic was found in “fundamental breach” of its statutory obligations under the Legal Aid funding agreement and was instructed to meet eight conditions to avoid losing funding, ranging from training for board members to submitting a financial restructuring plan.

    The June 2016 decision found that the clinic had met only one of them: to co-operate with an audit of overtime. A second internal document from Legal Aid Ontario references a decision from early 2017 that found the African Canadian Legal Clinic had made some progress but had not fulfilled the eight conditions. It declared funding would be suspended March 31, 2017 unless there was full compliance from the board and management.

    Parsons and Rawle Elliott, the chair of the clinic’s board, told Metro that all conditions have since been met.

    “It’s challenging for a volunteer board, but we’ve met the challenge,” Elliott said.

    Burk, the Legal Aid spokesperson, wrote in an email to Metro that “whether or not (the clinic) has complied with the conditions is the very question before the Clinic Committee. We cannot comment beyond that.”

    Julian Falconer, a lawyer hired to handle the issue for Legal Aid, said the agency has convened an advisory committee of African Canadian leaders who are helping to assess what the needs are in the community and how to meet them “regardless of what direction the clinic committee takes.”

    “It’s essential that at the end of the day the folks that were ultimately intended to be helped by legal services are not lost in what has been a difficult process,” he added.

    Falconer said the findings of the clinic committee in the 2016 decision obtained by Metro “speak for themselves.”

    “No one is happy with the nature of the allegations involved here. Everyone is concerned,” he added.

    Allegations of financial mismanagement put African Canadian Legal Clinic’s funding at riskAllegations of financial mismanagement put African Canadian Legal Clinic’s funding at risk

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    WASHINGTON—Trade with Canada is so fair and balanced, U.S. President Donald Trump told his Mexican counterpart in January, that “we do not even think about them.”

    Trump made the remarks in a phone call with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on Jan. 27, a week after his inauguration.

    A transcript of the call was obtained by the Washington Post and published on Thursday, just under two weeks before the beginning of negotiations on revisions to the North American Free Trade Agreement.

    Read more

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    Stop saying ‘Mexico is not going to pay for the wall,’ Trump urges Mexican president in leaked transcript

    NAFTA talks could hinge on Mexico’s disproportionate share of auto investment, jobs

    “Well, Canada is no problem — do not worry about Canada, do not even think about them,” Trump said after Pena Nieto made reference to the “three countries” that are part of NAFTA. “That is a separate thing and they are fine and we have had a very fair relationship with Canada. It has been much more balanced and much more fair. So we do not have to worry about Canada, we do not even think about them.”

    Those private words were in line with Trump’s public words during Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to Washington three weeks later, when Trump called the trade relationship with Canada “very outstanding.” But they went even further, suggesting Trump’s frequent campaign complaints about NAFTA were solely focused on Mexico.

    Trump, perhaps seeking negotiating leverage, has since started talking tougher about Canada. In April, he railed against Canada over an arcane dairy dispute and slapped tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber.

    “People don’t realize Canada’s been very rough on the United States. Everyone thinks of Canada being wonderful and civil,” he said in April. “I love Canada. But they’ve outsmarted our politicians for many years, and you people understand that.”

    Dan Ujczo, an Ohio-based trade lawyer focused on Canada-U.S. issues, said Trump talking up Canada to the president of Mexico was in line with a “lifelong negotiating tactic.”

    “We have witnessed that this is a president whose modus operandi is to pit parties against each other in any negotiation, whether on staff, his Cabinet, or members of Congress,” Ujczo said. “This could be relevant on areas where Canada’s and Mexico’s interests diverge, such as in agriculture.”

    Canada did not come up again in the January call. In the most noteworthy portion, Trump pleaded with Pena Nieto to stop publicly saying that Mexico would not pay for Trump’s border wall — and promised Pena Nieto that the funding would “come out in the wash” and “work out in the formula somehow.”

    Trump, asking Pena Nieto to help fight the “tough hombres” behind Mexico’s drug trade, also declared the state of New Hampshire a “drug-infested den.”

    NAFTA talks begin in Washington on Aug. 16. Trump’s administration has issued a lengthy wish list of desired changes that would affect Canada on issues from telecommunications to online shopping.

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    This story is part of the Toronto Star’s trust initiative, where, every week, we take readers behind the scenes of our journalism. This week, we focus on how Tanya Talaga approaches her coverage of Indigenous affairs.

    In recent years, consumers of mainstream media may have noticed greater coverage of Indigenous people in Canada. The Star’s Tanya Talaga believes this is due to the Idle No More movement, the rise of social media, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and an awareness of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

    While Talaga was reporting on politics at Queen’s Park between 2009 and 2012, she felt there was a need for more coverage of issues affecting Indigenous people, such as land rights disputes, natural resource exploration, and the proposed Ring of Fire development in northern Ontario. She also noted a need for greater scrutiny of the deaths of seven Indigenous students who had left home to attend high school in Thunder Bay between 2000 and 2011.

    Since then, Talaga, whose maternal grandmother is Ojibwe and a member of Fort William First Nation, has covered countless stories about Indigenous rights, murdered and missing women in Thunder Bay and inequities facing First Nations children. Her book, Seven Fallen Feathers, about the seven students who died in Thunder Bay, will be released in September.

    It’s a beat that involves building trust with members of marginalized communities experiencing trauma, such as suicide among youth. Each case involves different people and circumstances. So how does Talaga maintain a balance of compassion and sensitivity with the journalist’s job of asking the hard questions?

    “My editor Lynn McAuley and I approach each story on youth suicide and the deaths of youth in care with concern for the families and communities left behind,” Talaga says. “We aim to look at the broader issues behind each death, such as intergenerational trauma brought on by residential schools. We try very hard to make sure our stories are not gratuitous or disrespectful.”

    For instance, while covering youth suicides earlier this year at Wapekeka First Nation, a remote community 600 kilometres north of Thunder Bay, Talaga examined the historical presence and impact of convicted pedophile Ralph Rowe, a former Anglican minister and Boy Scout leader. Rowe, who would fly into remote First Nations, including Wapekeka, in the 1970s and ’80s, was convicted many years later of more than three dozen counts of indecent assault on young boys.

    When seeking more information about the death of a young person, Talaga acknowledges that each First Nations community is its own entity and has its own way of handling a crisis or trauma. She might call an official from the community or the band office to find out if a family member wants to talk, or reach out to someone she knows. Trust, she says, is key.

    “Trust can take time — weeks, months and sometimes longer,” she says. “I try to keep in touch with those who have shared their stories with me. Often, I’m writing about traumatic or pivotal events in someone’s life. Checking in to see how someone is shows you care about how they are — that is important.”

    Last year, Talaga was part of a team that won the Project of the Year prize at the National Newspaper Awards for “Gone,” an investigation into missing and murdered Indigenous women. A 2014 RCMP report put the number of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls in Canada at 1,181, but that number has been challenged by many who believe it is much higher.

    Talaga approaches every story with the understanding that a grieving family is trying to process what has happened.

    “Families often feel their concerns are not being heard by investigators, and often complain of never hearing from the officers handling their cases,” she says. “Each one of these women and girls has a name, was a person with her own identity and not just a number. She was a mom, a sister, an aunt, a friend. I try not to lose sight of who she was.”

    Many of Talaga’s stories touch on the length of time it can take authorities or governments to respond to issues facing Indigenous people. In May, Talaga wrote about Indigenous leaders seeking an inquest into the deaths of Indigenous children in care following the deaths of four teenage girls in provincial group homes. There is still no word on whether one will be held.

    Do situations like this frustrate Talaga?

    “I try to stay detached and have faith that one day, the chance at justice for the families and all involved, will come.”

    Email your questions to

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    Staples of the traditional outdoor camp experience, from canoeing to cooking over a fire, open up a whole new world for refugee children at the Willowgrove day camp.

    The 100-acre outdoor education centre and day camp in Stouffville is welcoming 14 refugee children this summer where they’ll be able to experience Canada through the great outdoors, some for the first time.

    Teissir Nouren Mahamat is attending Willowgrove camp for the first time since coming to Canada as a Sudanese refugee a year ago.

    “I like the summer time,” the shy 13-year-old says, communicating mostly in smiles and nods through questions from camp director Miriam Reesor.

    “A big factor is English, but (in) every child you can see the confidence to try things,” Reesor said.

    Willowgrove hosts about 150 children for its weeklong day camp program, with some kids returning throughout the summer. Each week has a different focus or theme that guides daily activities, which include searching for biodiversity in the creek, swimming, kayaking, barn games, and campfire cooking.

    The camp uses some funding from the Star’s Fresh Air Fund to help refugee children attend the camp for two weeks, Reesor said. While these campers may not be fluent in English, this doesn’t get in the way of their fun.

    “It’s interesting how much they can just become part of the group, because at camp everyone is coming from different places,” Reesor said, adding that the camper mix includes Syrian refugees and Canadian-born youth who live in other cities.

    Willowgrove has also hosted relatives of campers, hailing all the way from China and Colombia. Counsellors are mindful of language barriers and keep a special eye out for non-native English speakers to ensure they are participating in activities.

    During her time at camp, Mahamat took three days to warm up to the idea of swimming in the pool, which she had never done before in Sudan.

    Now she loves it, but archery takes the top spot as her favourite new activity.

    She relays her camp adventures over the phone to her brother, sister, and parents, who are still in Sudan, Reesor said.

    Back at her home in Markham, Mahamat lives with the grandmother who brought her to Canada, and her aunt, uncle, and four cousins.

    Reesor said Mahamat is very helpful with her younger cousins, two of whom joined her at camp, but is happy to see her getting a mini-vacation.

    “When I talk to parents, I say I want them to be OK that their child comes home dirty and tired,” Reesor said.

    The camp runs until Sept. 1, the last Friday before the start of school.

    Goal: $650,000

    To date: $649,892

    How to donate

    With your gift, the Fresh Air Fund can help send 25,000 disadvantaged and special needs children to camp. The experience gives these children much more than relief from summer heat; it gives these children a break in life and memories to last a lifetime.

    By cheque: Mail to the Toronto Star Fresh Air Fund, One Yonge St., Toronto, ON, M5E 1E6

    By credit card: Visa, MasterCard, AMEX or Discover, call 416-869-4847

    For instant donations, use our secure form at: .

    The Star does not authorize anyone to solicit on its behalf. Tax receipts will be issued in September.

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