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- 08/21/17--08:22: _‘In the end, we wil...
- 08/22/17--13:59: _Toronto psychiatris...
- 08/22/17--18:20: _African Canadian Le...
- 08/22/17--12:01: _Uber's self-driving...
- 08/22/17--17:48: _Uniqlo workers at T...
- 08/22/17--16:26: _Scarborough activis...
- 08/22/17--19:06: _The Rebel open to a...
- 08/22/17--17:21: _It doesn’t get butt...
- 08/22/17--17:01: _Suspended Hamilton ...
- 08/22/17--12:06: _Rule-breaking realt...
- 08/22/17--07:07: _Boris Spremo, forme...
- 08/22/17--15:20: _Province tries to b...
- 08/22/17--09:07: _Trump blames media ...
- 08/22/17--21:01: _Study questions why...
- 08/23/17--15:30: _TTC closing eight s...
- 08/23/17--16:23: _White privilege, Je...
- 08/23/17--17:48: _Niagara man cleared...
- 08/23/17--18:59: _Nurse facing discip...
- 08/23/17--14:44: _Trudeau’s warning t...
- 08/23/17--18:53: _Alleged Yahoo hacke...
- 08/22/17--12:01: Uber's self-driving cars hit Toronto streets — in manual mode
- 08/22/17--17:48: Uniqlo workers at Toronto Eaton’s Centre reject joining a union
- 08/22/17--12:06: Rule-breaking realtors should face stiffer penalties, says OREA
- 08/22/17--07:07: Boris Spremo, former Toronto Star photographer, dies at 81
- 08/22/17--15:20: Province tries to block Dalton McGuinty testifying at lawsuit
- 08/23/17--15:30: TTC closing eight stations for new fare gate installation
- 08/23/17--16:23: White privilege, Jewish privilege, and neo-Nazis: Cohn
WASHINGTON—Declaring the U.S. will win “in the end,” U.S. President Donald Trump vowed Monday night to keep American troops fighting in Afghanistan despite his earlier inclination to withdraw. But he insisted the U.S. would not offer “a blank check” after 16 years of war, and he pointedly declined to say whether or when more troops might be sent.
In a prime-time address billed as the unveiling of his new Afghanistan strategy, Trump said the U.S. would shift away from a “time-based” approach, instead linking its assistance to results and to co-operation from the beleaguered Afghan government, Pakistan and others.
Still, he offered few details about how that approach would differ substantively from what the U.S. has already tried unsuccessfully under the past two presidents.
“We will not talk about numbers of troops or our plans for further military activities,” Trump said. “Conditions on the ground, not arbitrary timetables, will guide our strategy from now on.”
Ahead of his speech, U.S. officials said they expected the president to go along with a Pentagon recommendation to send nearly 4,000 new troops, boosting the total of 8,400 in Afghanistan now. At its peak, the U.S. had roughly 100,000 there, under the Obama administration in 2010-2011.
Trump said his “original instinct was to pull out,” alluding to his long-expressed view before becoming president that Afghanistan was an unsolvable quagmire requiring a fast U.S. withdrawal. Since taking office, Trump said, he’d determined that approach could create a vacuum that terrorists including Al Qaeda and Daesh, also known as ISIS or ISIL, could “instantly fill.”
Trump said the American people are “weary of war without victory.”
“I share the America people’s frustration,” Trump said at the Army’s Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, in Arlington, Virginia, across the Potomac River from the White House. Still, he insisted that “in the end, we will win.”
Trump’s speech concluded a months-long internal debate within his administration over whether to pull back from the Afghanistan conflict, as he and a few advisers were inclined to do, or to embroil the U.S. further in a war that has eluded American solutions for the past 16 years. Several times, officials predicted he was nearing a decision to adopt his commanders’ recommendations, only to see the final judgment delayed.
The Pentagon has argued the U.S. must stay engaged to ensure terrorists can’t again use the territory to threaten America. Afghan military commanders have agreed, making clear they want and expect continued U.S. military help. But elected officials in the U.S. have been mixed, with many advocating against sending more troops.
As a candidate, Trump criticized the war and said the U.S. should quickly pull out, but he also campaigned on a vow to start winning wars. Exiting now, with the Taliban resurgent, would be impossible to sell as victory.
“I think there’s a relative certainty that the Afghan government would eventually fall,” said Mark Jacobson, an Army veteran and NATO’s former deputy representative in Kabul.
And while Trump has pledged to put “America First,” keeping U.S. interests above any others, his national security advisers have warned that the Afghan forces are still far too weak to succeed without help. That is especially important as the Taliban advance and a squeezed Islamic State group looks for new havens beyond Syria and Iraq. Even now, Afghan’s government controls just half the country.
As officers advocated for the troop increase, the Pentagon did not claim it would end the conflict. But military officials maintained it could help stabilize the Afghan government and break a stalemate with the Taliban.
The setting for Monday night’s speech, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, sits alongside Arlington National Cemetery, the final resting place for many Americans who have died in the war.
In a display of its tougher stance on misconduct involving patient-doctor relationships, the discipline committee of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario has revoked the licence of a psychiatrist who entered into a romantic relationship with a patient he intends to marry.
Whereas similar conduct in previous cases was typically met with suspensions, the decision to strip Toronto doctor Nagi Ghabbour’s licence is likely a response to criticism that the committee was being too lenient in the past, critics say.
Ghabbour is only the second Ontario physician to lose his licence for beginning a relationship with a patient too soon after the end of the doctor-patient relationship.
“The very nature of the relationship, the profound vulnerability of this specific patient and Dr. Ghabbour’s lack of insight into the egregiousness of the misconduct led the committee to decide that revocation is the only suitable penalty to fully protect the public in the circumstances of this case,” a five-member panel of the discipline committee wrote in a decision released Tuesday.
“Sexual relationships with prior psychotherapeutic patients are likely never advisable, nor likely ever in the best interest of the patient. Public trust and protection must be the guiding principle for the profession to do no harm.”
Ghabbour, 55, will be eligible to reapply for his licence in one year, but will have to prove that he has learned from his misconduct, the panel said. His lawyer did not return the Star’s request for comment.
Ghabbour admitted at his discipline hearing in February to professional misconduct in that he began a relationship with Patient A, whose name is covered by a publication ban, about a month after he stopped being her psychiatrist.
The panel heard in February that the pair are living together — Patient A even attended the discipline hearing — and that they intend to marry.
The college had argued that Ghabbour’s licence should be revoked, but the doctor’s lawyer pushed for a nine- to 12-month suspension with a condition that Ghabbour receive therapy.
While admitting during the penalty phase of the hearing that dating a patient so soon after the end of their professional relationship was a serious boundary violation and a “huge lapse in judgment,” Ghabbour also testified: “I love her, I adore her, and I respect her.”
Ghabbour’s penalty hearing took place while the provincial government was looking to strengthen the law around sexual abuse and physician-patient relationships in the wake of a Star investigation into doctors still at work after being found guilty of sexually abusing their patients.
The government’s Bill 87 became law in May. It stipulates that a person is still considered a “patient” for one year after they stop seeing the physician. Therefore, any sexual activity within that year would lead to the mandatory revocation of a doctor’s licence. Colleges would also be permitted to extend the period beyond one year.
The bill was not yet law when Ghabbour’s conduct and hearing took place, but the college’s lawyer drew the panel’s attention to it while arguing for revocation. “It’s an indication of where our society is moving in Ontario with regards to this type of conduct,” Elisabeth Widner told the panel.
The discipline panel acknowledged a “shift in societal values” in its decision to revoke.
“The public expects and deserves professionalism and integrity from Ontario doctors and that the college will regulate the profession in the public interest,” the panel wrote. “The committee is very aware of the shift in societal values that is highlighted by the Ontario government’s amendments to the Regulated Health Professions Act (Bill 87).”
Medical malpractice lawyer Paul Harte, who was not involved with the case, said the panel’s decision sends a message that the type of conduct Ghabbour engaged in will not be tolerated, but that it is a message that should have been transmitted long ago.
“They seem to be responding both to the concerns expressed in the media and also concerns expressed by the Minister of Health,” he said.
Patient A had been experiencing stress at work as well as marital difficulties, and was seeing Ghabbour for anxiety and depression, the panel heard in February. Ghabbour provided prescriptions for antidepressants. He also documented suicidal ideation.
She eventually began displaying romantic feelings for him in sessions, which he testified he resisted. Ghabbour maintained he didn’t want to refer her to someone else because he felt she was lacking support in other areas of her life and he wanted to help her.
After one session, she hugged him, and at one point he noted in his charts that the patient was “idealizing him and is seeking a real/physical bond with him,” according to an agreed statement of facts filed at the hearing. He said he made attempts to make clear to her that he was her psychiatrist.
In one of their last sessions, Patient A kissed him on the mouth, Ghabbour testified. Within weeks of Patient A deciding she no longer wanted Ghabbour as her psychiatrist because of her personal feelings toward him, the two began to see each other socially, and the relationship soon became sexual, the panel heard.
“Dr. Ghabbour testified that he was concerned about abandoning Patient A if he referred her for appropriate therapy once the transference was evident,” the panel wrote, referring to when Ghabbour became aware of Patient A’s feelings for him.
“It is atrocious that he chose to terminate treatment and made no attempt to transfer her to another psychiatrist, despite his conclusion that she was suffering from serious psychiatric conditions that included suicidal ideation. His misconduct in pursuit of his own needs has led, in the result, to many patients being abandoned.”
The first doctor to lose their licence for starting a personal relationship too soon after the end of the professional one was Mehdi Horri, whose licence was yanked in March, as a different panel of the discipline committee was still deliberating Ghabbour’s punishment.
The province does not plan to intervene after the African Canadian Legal Clinic asked it to investigate Legal Aid Ontario’s decision to suspend their funding.
The ACLC called legal aid’s decision “biased, unjust and racist” in a press release Tuesday, saying that the clinic was wrongly stripped of funding even though it has taken the necessary steps to ensure financial accountability after years of back and forth with legal aid.
Legal Aid Ontario denies racism had anything to do with the decision. The organization had concerns about the clinic’s financial management after a 2013 audit revealed personal purchases made on the clinic’s credit card by executive director Margaret Parsons, and money paid to Parsons that appeared to be hefty bonuses.
Parsons has maintained that she has never received a bonus from the clinic — only overtime pay she was owed — and that she paid the clinic back for a personal purchase she mistakenly made on the clinic’s credit card.
The ACLC press release said the organization implemented eight conditions for funding that were previously outlined by legal aid, and that a forensic audit by Price Waterhouse Coopers found no embezzlement, fraud, or misappropriation of funds.
Julian Falconer, the lawyer who advised legal aid on issues related to the ACLC, said that the final decision was made by legal aid’s clinic committee after several audits revealed apparent financial mismanagement.
The press release claim that the decision was unjust, Falconer said, is “simply not borne out by the findings and the clinic committee decisions.”
Falconer said that the ACLC’s concern about the lack of diversity on legal aid’s board of directors — one issue raised in the press release — was valid, but that it does not change the nature of the organization’s decision regarding the clinic.
“Very important issues of race are being injected when it really becomes an issue of accountability for an executive director,” Falconer said.
Parsons said Tuesday that the organization is asking the province to intervene with a “thorough and independent investigation” into the decision because the organization feels that the LAO was not objective.
“It was a forgone conclusion,” Parsons said, referring to the formation of the LAO’s Black Advisory Committee which she saw as legal aid moving to replace ACLC before a decision had officially been made about the clinic’s funding future.
“Whenever it started… it was biased, and it was made to replace us,” Parsons said.
The province said that it does not intend to intervene in legal aid’s decision.
“The Clinic Committee of Legal Aid Ontario reached its decision following a thorough adjudicative process, which included multiple third-party audits,” a ministry of the attorney general spokesperson told the Star.
Falconer said that legal aid has both short- and long-term plans to serve the African Canadian community when ACLC loses its funding.
The Human Rights Resource Centre and private practitioners have stepped up to fill the gap until a new clinic — to be formed using input from the advisory committee — gets off the ground, he said.
Uber put a pair of self-driving cars on Toronto streets Tuesday after winning approval from the province for on-road testing of its autonomous vehicle technology.
Two autonomous vehicles (AVs) operating in manual mode will be driving around the University of Toronto campus and surrounding areas starting Tuesday and continuing for the rest of the week. “Manual mode” means that although the cars have self-driving capability, they will be operated by human drivers.
The cars aren’t available for rides: they will be conducting mapping tasks. Uber says it hopes to test the cars in autonomous mode by the end of 2017.
“This data will support our engineering efforts as we prepare for official testing later this year,” says Susie Heath, a spokesperson for Uber Canada.
Uber announced in May that it would open a research group devoted to driverless car technology in Toronto, creating a third hub and its first outside the U.S. for the company’s AV ambitions.
Last year, Ontario became the first province in Canada to allow on-road testing of AVs. The Ministry of Transportation’s pilot program permits approved companies and research groups to test their vehicles providing that applicants follow certain criteria, including keeping a human in the driver’s seat to monitor vehicle operations at all times.
A spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of Transportation says that seven groups have been approved for on-road testing under the pilot program: Uber, the University of Waterloo, the Erwin Hymer Group, QNX, Continental, X-matik Inc., and Magna. Uber’s two AVs join a fleet of conventional sensor-equipped cars that began collecting mapping data from Toronto’s streets last September.
Uber’s self-driving car tests elsewhere have been accompanied by regulatory disputes. In California, Uber initially refused to apply for permits for the self-driving cars it was operating in San Francisco, arguing that the vehicles don’t meet the state’s definition of autonomous. The New York Times also reported that Uber’s AVs in San Francisco ran several red lights.
The state revoked the vehicles’ registrations, and Uber responded by moving its testing to Arizona, where regulations are more permissive. (An Uber AV in Arizona was involved in a crash, but police said the other driver was at fault.) Uber later obtained the California permits and put its self-driving cars back on the streets.
The cars in San Francisco are also involved in testing and development, not picking up passengers. In Pittsburgh, where Uber’s biggest AV research hub is located, self-driving cars have been picking up passengers — with a safety driver in the front seat — since September 2016.
The company has had a tumultuous year. A former engineer alleged that she had been sexually harassed at work, prompting an investigation into Uber’s workplace culture. Waymo, Google’s self-driving unit, is suing Uber, claiming that a former engineer stole thousands of files on a critical piece of hardware before founding a company that was acquired by Uber (Uber later fired him). Dogged by controversies and grappling with his mother’s death in a boating accident, CEO Travis Kalanick stepped down in June and has not yet been replaced.
Ontario has said it wants to position itself at the forefront of the emerging autonomous vehicle market, which some — including Uber — believe will be worth billions of dollars. The province also cites the potential for more environmentally-friendly and safer roads, since automated drivers are not prone to distraction or drinking and driving, like humans are.
Employees at the Uniqlo store at Toronto Eaton Centre voted Tuesday against joining a union that organizers had hoped would be able to improve working conditions at the Japanese retailer’s first Canadian location.
“I voted yes for better working conditions, for better scheduling and also for respect,” said Jasper Lim, 22, a part-time employee and history student at the University of Toronto.
“I feel disappointed by the results because I definitely thought it would succeed.”
Only 35 of the 120 employees who voted on Tuesday — 169 were eligible to vote — cast ballots in favour of joining Workers United Canada, a union with roots in the garment trade. Eighty-four employees voted against the union and one ballot was spoiled, said Tanya Ferguson, organizing co-ordinator for Workers United Canada Council.
Just a week earlier, the union had the support of more than 40 per cent of employees, who had signed union cards, triggering the vote.
Ferguson and Lim said that after management was notified of the union drive, employees in routine team meetings, held at the start of every shift, were told that they would take home less money if they joined a union because they would have to pay union dues.
Employees were also led to believe that they would no longer be able to speak directly to managers about their working conditions, Lim said.
“They created a campaign that was based on fear and they disseminated some misinformation,” said Lim.
Scheduling emerged as a key issue. Employees are scheduled to work shifts that include an unpaid hour-long lunch and an unpaid half-hour break later in the shift, which means they must be available for 9.5 hours of work while only being paid for eight.
Yasuhiro Hayashi, Uniqlo Canada chief operating officer, said the success of the store to date has been due to the hard work of employees and that he sees the vote as an opportunity for the company to improve how they engage with employees moving forward.
But there are no plans to change the scheduling system.
“We want the employees to be productive and energized and feel recharged,” said Hayashi. “I would say that working this 9.5 hours works best for not just employees, but also for the store as well.”
He said employees were not told they would not be able to engage with managers if they unionized.
“We were just one step away from having a union,” said employee Chicheng Wat, 35.
“I hope this encourages other people to unionize — not just those at Uniqlo, but others in the retail sector. This is not something undoable.”
A group of activists is asking the Ontario auditor general to probe what they claim is “the use of non-evidence-based decision-making” in the approval of expensive Toronto-area transit projects.
Scarborough Transit Action plans to file a request with Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk on Wednesday morning requesting that her office investigate the planned construction of the Kirby and Lawrence East GO Transit stations, as well as the Scarborough subway extension.
“The auditor general has a responsibility to ensure that there is a good value for money, and we feel that this is very bad value for money,” Moya Beall, a spokesperson for the group, said in an interview Tuesday.
The auditor general is tasked with overseeing provincial spending and reporting any misuse of public funds. A spokesperson for her office did not immediately return a request for comment Tuesday evening.
As the Star has previously reported, Metrolinx, the provincial transit agency for the GTHA, approved the two new GO Transit stations in June 2016 as part of its regional express rail expansion despite reports that showed they would be a drain on the transit network.
Business case analyses commissioned by Metrolinx found that both the Kirby station in Vaughan and the Lawrence East stop in Scarborough would attract few riders, and would actually lead to a decrease in ridership on the GO network because adding the additional stations would increase travel time for other passengers.
The resulting uptick in car use would lead to an additional 869.8 million kilometres driven on the region’s roads over the next 60 years, along with increased congestion and pollution, and millions of dollars in foregone transit revenue, the analyses found.
The Kirby stop would cost $125.8 million to build and operate over 60 years, while the Lawrence East station was projected to cost $45.8 million.
As the Star reported in June, an internal report prepared for Metrolinx by a consultant but that the agency never made public recommended that neither Lawrence East nor Kirby be approved, and determined they should not be considered for the next 10 years.
An advance copy of Scarborough Transit Action’s request to the auditor general that was provided to the Star claims Metrolinx officials “ignored the business-case analysis” in what the group described as a “political overruling” of the evidence.
The request notes that Kirby station is in the riding of Ontario Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca, while Lawrence East is a part of Mayor John Tory’s SmartTrack plan.
Del Duca and Tory have denied doing anything to improperly exert influence over the approval process.
The complaint also asks Lysyk’s office to “investigate whether a comprehensive analysis” should be carried out to compare the one-stop, $3.35-billion Scarborough subway extension that has been approved by council to a 24-stop LRT network proposed for the same area.
A comparison between the LRT proposal and the subway project, which is being built with $1.48 billion in provincial funds, has never been done by either the city or provincial government.
“This analysis would ensure that the contribution from the provincial government provides Ontario taxpayers with the best value for money,” the complaint reads.
The activist group has already filed a complaint with the city’s auditor general about a misleading briefing note about the Scarborough subway project authored by the TTC. The group is awaiting a report.
OTTAWA—The founder of the online news site The Rebel admits its content and management need more oversight in the wake of a string of controversies.
One reporter was fired, another founder quit and two other contributors resigned last week after the outlet came under intense criticism for its coverage of deadly riots in Virginia.
Ezra Levant is now admitting things need to change, saying he’s been a flawed leader who has made mistakes.
He says he’s going to bring in better oversight of both the business and editorial side of the operation and hire new journalists.
He’s also pledging greater transparency for the outlet’s finances, after two other former contributors levied a string of allegations over where The Rebel’s largely crowdsourced budget is actually going.
Levant detailed the proposed changes in a statement late Tuesday, following a memo last week where he sought to distance The Rebel from allegations it’s aligned with the so-called “alt-right.”
When David Salazar leaves the Canadian National Exhibition, his hands are incredibly moisturized and his whole body smells like butter.
“Your arms, your body is glistening,” said Salazar.
“Everything you eat, everything you handle, you can feel the butter on it.”
Salazar is the lead artist at this year’s butter sculpture exhibit at the CNE. So far he’s made a butter version of a High Park capybara and the infamous Ikea monkey— and he’s collaborating on a buttery Justin Trudeau cuddling two baby pandas.
Salazar crafts his high-calorie creations behind a glass screen in a refrigerated box, while fairgoers gawk and take photos.
It’s slippery and cold inside the sculpting fridge — about 10 C — but it smells delicious. As a butter lover, Salazar says it can take willpower to resist sneaking a taste.
“Of course I’m tempted! I love butter!” he said, laughing. During the Ex, Salazar will spend about six hours a day handling globs of unsalted butter, but he’s not sick of it yet. “So far I still butter my toast in the morning.”
By the end of the fair, there’ll be more than a dozen butter sculptures by 11 different artists in the box, said Salazar — including the rest of the capybara family and the doughnut-stealing raccoon who made headlines in 2015. The artists will use 2,700 pounds of butter in total, which all gets composted at the end, a CNE spokesperson said.
Salazar wears a coat and hat inside the chilly fridge — but the butter still seeps through his sturdy work gloves. When he pulls them off, his hands are shining and remarkably soft.
“It’s pretty funny working with butter. It’s a little surreal,” said Salazar, who says dealing with the cold is one of the hardest parts of butter art.
Butter sculptures are a long-running tradition at the CNE, dating back to the 1950s. Memorable past sculptures include Rob Ford reading a Margaret Atwood novel, Yoda and Toronto’s favourite dead raccoon— all created by Olenka Kleban, who organized this year’s show.
The theme this year is “Wild in the 6,” and features famous GTA animals. On Tuesday, Salazar started work on a giant hog — an homage to Hogtown. He first builds an internal frame out of wood and metal lath, before sculpting around it with dozens of kilograms of buttery goodness.
The unsalted butter comes in 25-kilogram boxes (nutritional information included), and has to soften for a day or two outside the fridge before it’s ready for sculpting.
On Tuesday afternoon, Sean Kosonic carved detailing into Justin Trudeau’s face using a small butter knife with “Spread Love” on it. He’s one of several artists working on Butter Trudeau over the course of the Ex, slowly adding details to perfect his creamy likeness.
“Chiselled faces are always easier,” said Kosonic, as he smoothed the prime minister’s buttery lips. “When someone has a good nose, it’s a good place to start.”
He and Salazar are both graduates of OCAD University and don’t usually work in such a high-cholesterol medium. Kosonic is a metalworker, while Salazar sculpts with clay and works on public sculptures. The CNE butter artists are often OCAD grads and come from a diverse range of backgrounds.
Both Salazar and Kosonic like working with butter; it’s a fun, versatile material that’s a lot like clay, in a sense.
“We produce a lot of butter, so it’s nice to see what else we can do with it,” said Salazar, who last did butter sculpting in 2007.
As the artists work, people clamour outside the box, pointing and taking pictures. Many ask questions or share their memories of past exhibitions, and Salazar loves seeing kids react with glee.
People often bang on the glass, however, which gives him a lot more empathy for zoo animals.
“At times you feel like a monkey,” he said.
As he worked on the hog, a man stopped by to chat, fondly remembering seeing the butter sculptures as a child.
“I love them, they’re great,” said Steve Beattie. “I don’t know if it’s much to anybody else, but to me it’s part of the CNE. It’s our heritage.”
But not everybody shares his sentiment.
“That’s disgusting!” one man exclaimed as he walked by.
Probably a margarine fan.
A suspended Hamilton police officer awaiting trial after a 2015 Toronto police raid saw him charged with allegedly helping a drug trafficking organization is now facing 16 new criminal charges.
On Tuesday, Craig Ruthowsky, who worked on the Hamilton police department’s gangs and weapons enforcement unit, was charged with bribery, two counts of breach of trust, two counts of obstructing justice, public mischief, two counts of weapons trafficking, fraud under $5,000, trafficking marijuana, perjury, two counts of conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, robbery and two counts of trafficking cocaine.
It was pre-arranged that Ruthowsky would turn himself in at a police station Tuesday morning and then appear in a Toronto court, where he was released on bail, said his lawyer, Greg Lafontaine.
The 43-year-old is already committed to stand trial on charges of corruptly accepting moneys, attempting to obstruct justice, trafficking cocaine and criminal breach of trust. That trial is set to begin Feb. 20, 2018.
Lafontaine described the newest charges, which will be tried separately, as “historical” from Ruthowsky’s time as a guns and gangs investigator in Hamilton before his suspension in 2012.
“They’re effectively more of the same,” he said, noting more “full-time criminals” have come forward since Ruthowsky’s criminal case has been in the news.
Ruthowsky was arrested in a June 2015 raid during Toronto police’s Project Pharaoh and accused of being part of a Hamilton criminal group connected to the Toronto street gang Monstarz. He was initially denied bail and spent five weeks in jail before being released.
Hamilton police confirmed the latest charges in a news release issued Tuesday afternoon but declined to comment further as the case is before the courts.
As part of his guns and gangs investigative work, Ruthowsky worked closely with informants in the criminal underworld. Lafontaine said dealing with people “at the bottom of the social barrel” was a hazard of the work Ruthowsky did and left him vulnerable to these types of accusations.
Ruthowsky was “disappointed” to learn of the new charges, but he and his legal team feel “confident” they will prove his innocence, Lafontaine said, questioning the credibility of Crown witnesses.
In an interview Tuesday, Mark Dobrowski claimed at least one of the new charges is related to allegations that Ruthowsky had an informant set him up with a gun in his former home.
Dobrowski claims he served 51 months in prison after police found a gun in his then Hamilton home on April 30, 2010. He was sentenced to four years, three months and 20 days on Nov. 5, 2010.
Dobrowski admits to being a former leader of the gang Original Blood Brothers and has a criminal record. “I was a bad person. I’m out of the lifestyle now,” he said.
He claimed Hamilton police officially informed him Ruthowsky had been charged Tuesday morning. “I lost a lot of time in my life … nothing can bring it back,” he said.
Ruthowsky remains suspended with pay.
Hamilton police first suspended him in June 2012 amid an investigation into allegations that he improperly disclosed licence plate information from the Canadian Police Information Centre.
He was charged with breach of trust and obstructing justice, but those criminal charges were stayed in October 2013 over concern that the case could identify an informant. The related disciplinary case was still pending when Toronto police burst through his door and arrested him in June 2015.
Ruthowsky’s former partner, Robert Hansen, was suspended and charged at the same time in 2012.
Hansen was convicted of perjury and obstructing justice after he encouraged an informant to plant a gun at a suspected drug trafficker’s home in 2012 and then lied to secure a search warrant.
Hansen was sentenced in June 2016 to five years in prison and resigned that August.
Darren Mork, the man targeted by Hansen, filed a $1.5-million lawsuit against him and Hamilton police. Mork’s lawyer, Nick Cake, said they are working toward setting a trial date.
Anyone with information about the Ruthowsky case is asked to contact Det. Troy Ashbaugh at 905-546-4951.
Fines for rule-breaking realtors should be double what they are now so the potential penalties keep pace with the province’s rising housing market, says the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA).
Last year, realtors found guilty of violating the code of ethics faced an average fine of less than $6,000 from the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO), the industry regulator.
The existing penalties were set when the average resale Ontario home cost $211,000. That has now increased to $619,000. It is $759,000 in the Toronto area.
“For those who willingly break the rules, these fines are ‘the cost of doing business,’” said OREA.
In a discussion paper published Tuesday, OREA recommended fines be doubled for violating the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act (REBBA) Code of Ethics. That would put the maximum penalty for salespeople at $50,000, while brokers and brokerages would face fines of up to $100,000.
The discussion paper is meant to elicit feedback from OREA’s 70,000 members to the Ontario Liberal government’s two-part review of the real estate act.
New rules are expected in the fall for agents who represent both a buyer and seller in a single transaction. But a more comprehensive review will continue next year.
“The act is 15 years old. A lot has changed since 2002,” said Matthew Thornton, OREA vice-president of public affairs and communications.
He said the review is an opportunity to look at how the industry can “make sure it’s representing best practices that are in place in other provinces, that it is strengthening consumer protection and really just modernizing it.”
In addition to the higher fines, OREA says RECO needs to be able to order realtors to return profits made through breaches of the act.
“Fines may not cover the entire fee earned as a result of unethical activity. In other words, even under a system of higher fines registrants could still profit from unethical behaviour,” said the OREA paper.
It also wants RECO to have the authority to revoke or suspend a realtor’s registration to practise, a finding that can be overturned by an appeals tribunal under the current system.
In an emailed statement from RECO registrar Joseph Richer, the regulator also supports higher fines and the ability to make realtors repay profits achieved by unethical practices. It also agrees with the need to have the authority to revoke registrations.
There were 70,284 registered realtors in Ontario in 2014 and 73,751 in 2015. But that number shot up to 78,780 last year, according to OREA. Of those, 48,117 were real estate salespeople.
The number of inquiries (for information) was down last year to 25,497 from 26,346 in 2015.
Earlier this month, OREA officials held an online town hall pledging to hold RECO to account for industry standards and practice.
The Ontario association is rebranding itself since RECO awarded its core mission as an industry education provider to Humber College.
OREA will issue three more white papers before the end of the year on education and realtor ethics.
Continuing education is a particular concern, said Thornton. Agents have to take a $44 online course every two years to maintain their registration.
“The sentiment in the industry about continuing education is that the process that RECO is offering is not where it should be,” he said.
Most registered realtors pay a $390 annual fee to RECO and $110 annually to OREA.
Few people would have the nerve to straddle a steel beam hanging near the top of the CN Tower, or to shout “Hey, Queen!” in the presence of royalty.
Nothing could stop Boris Spremo from getting his million-dollar photo.
The retired Star photographer made it his business to document history, whether he was shooting a war, or capturing a Canadian prime minister during a lighter moment.
Spremo has died at the age of 81. He had been diagnosed with cancer in February. He took a turn for the worse last week, according to his family.
“He was the light of everyone’s life,” said his granddaughter Jessica Spremo. “He was constantly cracking jokes. He never took anything too seriously. (He was) always looking for an adventure.”
Spremo was born in Yugoslavia and came to Canada in 1957 after a stop in Paris. Following four years at The Globe and Mail, he joined the Star in 1966, where he spent 34 years as a photojournalist. He retired in 2000.
A member of the Order of Canada who was inducted into the Canadian News Hall of Fame, Spremo received 285 national and international photojournalism awards in a lifetime of photography.
His work took him to conflict zones including Vietnam, Grenada, Northern Ireland, Israel, Gaza and Iraq. He documented famine and drought in Central Africa in 1983 and the plight of Kurdish refugees in 1991.
“He never lost sight of where he came from,” Jessica said. “Having that perspective, he could relate to people . . . and have them, kind of, be comfortable, if only for a few minutes, in the situations that they were in.
“He treated everyone the same.”
Photos he took in Canada stood out. Known for his dogged pursuit to find the perfect shot, Spremo developed a rapport with politicians, including prime ministers Pierre Trudeau and John Diefenbaker.
In 1976, he captured Diefenbaker in silhouette working on his post-retirement memoirs while at a summer cottage in Barbados. The photo of Canada’s prime minister, resting in a lounge chair as the sun peeked out from the clouds following a rainfall, secured Spremo one of his many National Newspaper Awards.
Spremo was lauded for his photo of Trudeau the day after the latter won the 1980 federal election. It was one of the most recognizable photos of the former prime minister.
Camped outside Trudeau’s office until his staff finally let Spremo in, the photographer urged him, “Do something for me! Give me a picture!”
Trudeau decided to fire off a paperclip from an elastic band.
“That to me is the quintessential Boris picture, right there, because it sums up his personality, his style,” said Star photographer Richard Lautens.
“Who else is going to get a sitting prime minister to sit there behind the desk on Parliament Hill firing elastics?
“He was willing to talk anybody into anything.”
Having known Spremo for 40 years, Lautens considered him a mentor. He was a “mythic figure, this larger-than-life character” with a personality “you could barely fit in a room,” he said.
“He had this personality, this drive. He would get in anywhere. He would never take ‘no’ for an answer,” Lautens said. “He would step on his own mom for a picture, especially an exclusive. I always figured he’d be around as long as Mt. Rushmore.
“His face should be up there somewhere.”
Said former Star photographer and senior editor Fred Ross: “He worked his ass off” to get the right shot.
It was important to Spremo to get his photo on the Star’s front page the following day.
Ross recalled how the photographer would keep track of all his front-page pictures and how he’d grow restless, even to the point of nudging Ross for better assignments, when he went a while without one.
“He never took any pictures. He made pictures. Big difference,” Ross said. “First class is probably not a definitive enough term for him. He lived and loved to make pictures.
“That was his whole being.”
Lautens said Spremo “would just kind of own the paper whenever he was working.
“He would see me or anybody else in this place as much competition as anybody else,” he said. “Then he’d give you that big smile and everyone would go, ‘Well, that’s Boris.’ ”
Torstar chair and former Star publisher John Honderich referred to Spremo as a “giant” – although “I’m not sure that even ‘giant’ does justice to his career,” Honderich said.
“Boris definitely knew what he wanted in life and the chain of command was not something he felt was particularly relevant. He would just come and knock on my door all the time and say this is what he wanted to do. He was full of stories, full of life, vivacious.
“This man lived every inch of his life and every inch of his career.”
Spremo’s photographic style differed from many of the techniques used by his competitors, according to Lautens.
To him, it was about capturing a moment from the perfect spot at the perfect time.
“Most of the stuff you see of his has got a humorous little twist to it, but extremely personal,” he said. “The style he shot in is very much kind of the way your eye might see things, whereas most photographers would always try and do something visually different, use certain lenses or certain lighting. He was willing to put himself in the line of fire. He was willing to risk pretty much everything to get himself in that position to make that image.
“It was that kind of intimate approach that, kind of, sold the deal.”
Spremo was not afraid to take readers to the highest of heights. On one occasion, he shot a CN Tower ironworker at 440 metres above ground.
“He was very famous for climbing up on skyscrapers and doing crazy stunts to get the best angle,” said Ken Faught, a former Star photographer and photo editor. “He was just a bulldog. It was his way or the highway.”
His sense of humour also had an edge.
Tasked with covering a Papal visit in 1984, Spremo was on Pope John Paul II’s train, which ran from Sherbrooke to Trois-Rivières, Que.
As the pope sat in the fourth car of the train by a window, with a light on him so that people at the stations could see him as the train passed by, media set up camp in the first car.
But they grew bored during the long trip, prompting Spremo, partially as a result of some egging on from fellow media, to fold up one of the blow-up cushions into a shape similar to the pope’s mitre, throw on a table cloth and hold a monopod as a staff. The impression was complete with a papal wave.
“People started taking photos of him instead of the actual pope,” said Jessica Spremo. “When the pope actually went by, all these people were walking away.”
The stunt landed him in hot water and some media picked up the story.
In another instance, legend has it that Spremo, in attempt to get the attention of a wayward-looking Queen Elizabeth II on a visit to Canada, shouted, “Hey Queen! Look over here!”
“All the protocol guys were, like, ‘You can’t talk to the Queen like that,’ ” Lautens laughed.
When Spremo retired from the Star, it was obvious to everyone that he wasn’t ready to stop shooting.
“It’s inspiring, not just for journalists everywhere, but for anybody in any occupation, to see a guy who has that fire in his belly his entire life,” said Lautens. “Even to this day, I’m still in awe of the guy.
“For the longest time, he was photojournalism in Canada.”
Spremo remained active in retirement, playing tennis five times a week and spending time at his Lake Simcoe cottage, where he loved to be on a boat.
He also got tremendous joy out of his 1959 Cadillac, “my baby,” as he liked to call it, according to his granddaughter.
In retirement, he kept shooting photos.
“He never went anywhere without a camera, whether to the store or on a trip,” Jessica said. “He always said, ‘You never know where you’re going to get that million-dollar photo.’ ”
Spremo is survived by his wife Ika, their four daughters and seven grandchildren.
The province and Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. are trying to block a ruling that orders former premier Dalton McGuinty, his finance minister and other senior officials to answer questions under oath about the 2012 cancellation of a lucrative slot machine revenue-sharing program.
The case centres around a $65-million civil claim by a group of horse breeders who argue they’ve been unfairly cut out of revenues from slot machines at racetracks. A 1998 slot agreement allowed for money from the machines to be shared among the province, horse breeders and racetracks annually.
But the province announced on March 12, 2012, it was ending the plan with a year’s notice, opting to reallocate slot revenues for health care and other government initiatives.
The breeders allege that before an important February 2012 cabinet meeting on the revenue-sharing plan, some powerful people met secretly and resolved to get the slots deal axed.
The breeders say they launched their claim after the province and OLG paid $80 million in compensation to track owners, but refused to discuss compensating breeders. The breeders say that before the cancellation they’d been encouraged by the province to keep breeding horses.
The matter is being heard in the Superior Court of Justice in Guelph by Justice Michael Emery.
The suit against the province includes claims of breach of contract, negligence and unjust enrichment. The province and OLG are trying to have the suit tossed out, claiming in statements of defence that they’ve done nothing improper.
Earlier this month, over objections from the province and OLG, Emery ordered that McGuinty, former finance minister Dwight Duncan and 11 others including their chiefs of staff, economist Don Drummond and Rod Seiling, the former chair of the Ontario Racing Commission, give evidence under oath relating to the cancellation of the revenue-sharing.
But this week the province and OLG filed a motion seeking leave to appeal Emery’s decision, and in the meantime, a stay of the summons that calls on McGuinty and the others to give evidence.
In their motion, set to be heard at Divisional Court in Toronto, the province and OLG argue in part that Emery didn’t apply the proper legal test when it came to their bid to quash the breeders’ requests for McGuinty and the others to come forward.
Emery had suggested that the onus was on the province and OLG to prove the summonses should be quashed, which effectively reversed the onus in established case law, lawyers for the province and OLG argue in their latest motion.
Jonathan Lisus, a lawyer for the breeders, said Tuesday that Emery applied the law correctly and gave a “balanced sensible decision” that the witnesses being asked to come forward were connected to the decision to cancel the revenue sharing, and therefore have relevant evidence to give to the court.
In an email, Tony Bitonti, an OLG spokesperson said “as the matter continues to be before the courts, it would not be appropriate to comment.”
Ministry of the Attorney General spokesperson Emilie Smith issued a similar statement.
Trump opened his political rally in Phoenix with a call for unity, saying, “What happened in Charlottesville strikes at the core of America and tonight, this entire arena stands united in forceful condemnation of the thugs that perpetrated hatred and violence.”
But he quickly trained his ire on the media, shouting that he “openly called for healing unity and love” in the immediate aftermath of Charlottesville and claiming the media had misrepresented him. He read from his three responses to the violence — getting more animated with each one.
Democrats and fellow Republicans had denounced Trump for placing blame for the Charlottesville violence on “both sides.”
Trump spoke after Vice-President Mike Pence and others called repeatedly for unity.
Housing Secretary Ben Carson and Dr. Alveda King, the niece of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr., were among the openers. Franklin Graham, son of the evangelist Billy Graham, led the rally-goers in prayer, saying, “We’re divided racially, and we’re adrift morally.”
Outside the Phoenix convention centre, shouting matches and minor scuffles erupted between Trump supporters and protesters gathered near the site of his latest campaign rally. Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton had asked Trump to delay his political event to allow for more time of national healing after Charlottesville.
Trump teased a pardon for former sheriff Joe Arpaio, asking the crowd what they thought of him. Loud cheers erupted. The former Maricopa County sheriff is awaiting sentencing after his conviction in federal court for disobeying court orders to stop his immigration patrols.
“So was Sheriff Joe convicted for doing his job?” Trump asked. “I’ll make a prediction: I think he’s going to be just fine.”
Earlier, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump wouldn’t discuss or take action on a pardon “at any point today,” even though the president had told Fox News he was considering it.
Trump said at the rally that the only reason he wouldn’t make a move from the stage was to avoid controversy for the moment.In the comfort of his most fervent fans, Trump often resurrects his freewheeling 2016 campaign style, pinging insults at perceived enemies such as the media and meandering from topic to topic without a clear theme.
Neither of Arizona’s two Republican senators appeared with Trump.
Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, a conservative, has been a frequent target of Trump’s wrath.
The president tweeted last week: “Great to see that Dr. Kelli Ward is running against Flake Jeff Flake, who is WEAK on borders, crime and a non-factor in Senate. He’s toxic!” Flake has been on tour promoting his book that says the Republican Party’s embrace of Trump has left conservatism withering.
Ward planned to attend Trump’s rally, sparking talk that the president could take the politically extraordinary step of endorsing her from the stage over an incumbent Republican senator.
In a modest but telling swipe at Ward and, by extension, at Trump, the Senate Leadership Fund, a political committee closely aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, is spending $10,000 on digital ads that say of her, “Not conservative, just crazy ideas.”
Arizona’s other senator, John McCain, is undergoing treatment for an aggressive form of brain cancer. Trump has been critical of McCain for voting against a Republican health care bill.
Tuesday’s events put Trump in more comfortable political territory than in recent days.
He began his Arizona visit with a brief trip to the southern edge of the country.
While touring a Marine Corps base in Yuma that is a hub of operations for the U.S. Border Patrol, Trump inspected a drone and other border equipment on display in a hangar.
Trump shook his head as he was shown a series of everyday objects, such as a fire extinguisher, that had been refashioned to secretly transport drugs across the border. Afterward, he spent about 20 minutes greeting service members in the gruelling, 106-degree heat, signing caps with his “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan and posing for selfies on the tarmac just steps from Air Force One.
Upending a campaign vow to end the country’s longest war, Trump on Monday announced in a national address a plan to maintain to a U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. Senior U.S. officials said Trump’s strategy may involve sending up to 3,900 more troops, with some deployments beginning almost immediately.
Some of Trump’s core voters had already been unhappy about the recent ouster of conservative Steve Bannon as White House chief strategist.
Bannon had made it his mission to remind Trump of what his most fervent supporters want from his presidency. Some conservative strategists have openly worried that without Bannon around, Trump will be too influenced by establishment Republicans on issues such as Afghanistan policy.
Thousands of people with Down syndrome, autism and other developmental disabilities are being prescribed anti-psychotic medication by Ontario doctors despite a lack of evidence that the drugs actually help them, a new study has found.
Researchers with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences have called for “guidelines and training around antipsychotic prescribing and monitoring” for doctors, pharmacists and care home staff after finding that nearly 40 per cent of people with developmental disabilities were prescribed antipsychotic drugs at some point over a six-year period.
One-third of the patients prescribed antipsychotics had no documented diagnosis of mental illness, according to the study which tracked over 51,000 people with developmental disabilities who are eligible for provincial drug benefits.
“We don’t know, with the data, why this one person was prescribed or this (other) person was prescribed so we’re trying to almost guess at why,” psychologist and lead author of the study Yona Lunsky said.
“It could be behaviour, aggression, self-injury, agitation.”
For people with developmental disabilities who live in group homes, the rate of antipsychotic prescriptions was even higher.
About 56 per cent of developmentally disabled group home residents were prescribed antipsychotics. Of those, around 43 per cent had no documented mental health issues.
There is “inconclusive” evidence that antipsychotics are effective in treating the behaviour of developmentally disabled patients who do not have a mental illness, Lunsky said.
While some studies show antipsychotics can be effective in individual cases, over a short period of time, there is no reliable evidence on long-term use of antipsychotics by people with developmental disabilities, Lunsky said. And it is unlikely that all antipsychotic users found in the study need to be taking them, she added.
“There’s no way every single one of those people is on that drug for the right reasons and being very carefully monitored.”
It’s overly simplistic, though, to assume doctors are just prescribing antipsychotics as a “quick fix” for challenging behaviour, Lunsky said.
One of the major factors behind the number of prescriptions could be the fact that medications are often the most affordable and easily accessible method of treatment for families and caregivers struggling to manage the aggression, agitation, self-injury or other challenging behaviours of a person with developmental disabilities.
The majority of adults in the province with intellectual and developmental disabilities are covered by the Ontario Disability Support Program, which offers benefits for prescription medications, Lunsky said.
While a person with developmental disabilities may benefit from seeing a psychologist, psychiatrist, behaviour therapist or other specialized professional, they will either have to spend months on waiting lists or pay out of pocket for faster access.
Certain behaviours of people with developmental disabilities can also be misinterpreted by doctors or caregivers as signs of psychosis, Lunsky said.
“You could think somebody who is talking to themselves all the time is hearing voices (but) it may be just the way that person rehearses or thinks things out, or something that calms them down when they’re anxious,” Lunsky said.
Prescription rates in group homes could be higher because people tend to have a more complex set of issues or be under more stress, Lunsky added.
Even for people with developmental disabilities and mental health issues that are commonly treated with antipsychotics, careful monitoring is vital.
“It’s really important to recognize that there is a place for antipsychotic mediation, (to) help patients in crisis to come back to base line,” said Roger Oxenham, whose daughter has developmental disabilities and has been diagnosed with personality, anxiety, bipolar and obsessive compulsive disorders.
“But . . . it really takes a significant amount of consultation to understand what these drugs are about, not just the positive impact of the drug but what the negatives are.”
It can be “hit and miss” trying to find a medication that works for a patient with a dual diagnosis of developmental disabilities and mental health issues, and doctors should speak with family members and caregivers to get a better sense of what drugs might be most effective for a patient, Oxenham said.
Side effects are a serious concern for anyone who takes powerful antipsychotics, which can, for instance, cause problems with movement and dramatic weight gain and raise the risk of diabetes and hypertension.
But people with developmental disabilities may be more sensitive to side effects while at the same time, less capable of articulating to doctors how they are experiencing them.
Ultimately, more information is required on the reasons why antipsychotics are being prescribed to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, Lunsky said. And more knowledge on the needs of people with developmental disabilities is required across the board.
“Everybody needs to be educated about this, whether it’s the person who is taking the medication, staff who work in group homes, families and all the people who look after a person with intellectual disabilities,” Lunsky said.
“How can we educate our pharmacists who play a role in this, and for sure our physicians?”
The TTC will close eight downtown subway stations during evenings and weekends between September and December to install new PRESTO fare gates.
In a statement released Wednesday, the transit authority said new paddle-style fare gates with PRESTO will be installed at the 25 stations and more than 50 entrances that still have turnstiles, some of which date back to the 50s and 60s.
Forty-four stations and 75 entrances already have new gates, which the TTC said improves the flow of people. Many of the stations that are still waiting for the gates will remain open with ongoing construction, but the busiest stations need to be closed, the statement said.
“The next wave of construction takes place in some of the TTC’s busiest stations where the fare lines are more physically constrained, necessitating some weekend closures, as well as early closures, both on weekends and week nights, where subway trains will pass through, and not stop, at the affected stations,” the statement said.
Brad Ross, the TTC’s director of communications, said the work is necessary and because the downtown stations are so close together, customers will be able to walk one or two blocks to reach the next station.
“We need to do this work and the reason we need early closures or one weekend, is to expedite the work, this heavy, dirty work,” Ross said. “Yanking out the turnstiles and cutting open the floor and doing all that work, it really helps to speed up things so we can get the station back to normal and get those fare gates up much more quickly.”
Ross said the alternative is to keep the stations open and put up barriers, but that could become a problem in an emergency, and the construction would take longer to complete in that case.
The last time the TTC closed an entire station for construction was three or four years ago, Ross said, when Pape station was shut down for 11 days.
Locations, dates and times of station closures are as follows:
11 p.m. nightly, Sept. 10 to 14
Weekend closure from 11 p.m. Sept. 15 until 6 a.m. Sept. 18
11 p.m. nightly, from Sept. 18 until the middle of October
10 p.m. nightly, Sept. 19 to 23
11 p.m. nightly, Oct. 18 and 19
Weekend closure from 11 p.m. Oct. 20 until 6 a.m. Oct. 23
11 p.m. nightly, Oct. 23 until the end of November
10 p.m. nightly, Nov. 1-2 and 6-7
St Andrew Station:
Weekend closure from 10 p.m. Nov. 10 until 6 a.m. Nov. 13
10 p.m. nightly, Nov. 14 to 16, and Nov. 20
Weekend closure from 10 p.m. Nov. 17 until 6 a.m. Nov. 20
Queen’s Park Station:
10 p.m. nightly, Dec. 6-7 and Dec. 11-12
The latest manifestations of white supremacy have reminded us that Jews, not just Blacks, are perennial targets at neo-Nazi rallies.
Put another way, African Americans and Ashkenazi Americans are seen as equally un-American by the blue-eyed, red-blooded, all-American white nationalists who chanted in Charlottesville, “Jews will not replace us.”
That shared demonization comes as no surprise to many Jews who know their history. And who have watched with apprehension the present-day tendency to lash out at so many other “others” — be they brown, Black, Indigenous or Muslim.
But the resurgence of anti-Semitism is also an awkward reminder that “white privilege,” supposedly enjoyed by white Jews and all other white folks, offers little protection from persecution or privation. Now, as the casual invocation of white privilege gains greater currency, it’s worth examining some of the questionable assumptions that underpin it — and undermine it.
This is not an attempt to shoot down the important social analysis behind the theory of “white privilege” — the idea that most whites have “unearned” advantages notably in dealing with the police, employment and education. But relying on colour to confer privilege on people — an entire class of people — is conflating, confusing and counterproductive.
When a phrase risks alienating potential allies in the quest for greater equality of opportunity, it’s time for better terminology. Much like “cultural appropriation,” the “white privilege” paradigm emerged from the academic world, which speaks in its own rarefied and coded jargon, often obscuring rather than clarifying real-world issues. Beyond the ivory tower, where colour analysis has superseded class analysis, the term “white privilege” is being used, misused and misunderstood.
I hope I have a head start in understanding the obstacles others face. My grandparents didn’t just face discrimination but death in the 1940s. I still have a Montreal Gazette clipping about the landlord who wouldn’t rent to my father in the 1950s because of our Jewish surname (which made the stories about Donald Trump’s father rejecting Black tenants personal for me).
Privilege is part of any society that stratifies itself along various lines — hierarchical, patriarchal, economical, geographical, political, religious. But when “white privilege” is appropriated as a proxy for societal unfairness, it too easily breeds resentment.
It is a classic anti-Semitic trope to confer privilege and power on Jews — propagating the pre-Nazi, Nazi and neo-Nazi fiction that they control the media, the banks, the world (you might call it fake news . . .). We are not reliving the 1930s today, but whether in Hitler’s Germany or Trump’s America, the privileged can be persecuted in the blink of an eye.
And not just Jews. Citizens of Japanese descent were unjustly incarcerated in Canada and the U.S. in the Second World War for fear they were fascist fifth columnists. Today, students of Asian descent are viewed skeptically for their disproportionate university enrolment. Talk of informal “Asian quotas” among college admissions officers has personal resonance given the formal Jewish quotas enforced at major universities in the 1950s.
Beware white privilege, for class and cultural differences are no less critical.
It is one of the great conceits of whites that we flagellate ourselves as the world’s most unrepentant racists. Go to Indonesia, where the majority has hounded an ethnic Chinese minority for decades as a “privileged” group of shopkeepers. Think of Vietnam, where so many boat people were ethnic Chinese fleeing persecution. Consider Hong Kong, where those of Indian descent are disparaged and whites are mocked as “gweilos” (ghosts). In East Africa, Ismailis of South Asia origin have been persecuted for decades. Entrenched homophobia across Africa conjures up Black heterosexual privilege. India’s caste system has long co-existed with a colour continuum that prompts marriage prospects to describe themselves as having “wheatish” complexions, as against less socially desirable “dusky.”
The reality everywhere is that race and skin colour are clumsy proxies for social distinctions that matter at least as much: Ageism is a chronic affliction. The urban-rural in Ontario and across North America is deeply rooted. Postsecondary education is ever more accessible, yet driving more enduring disparities for those left behind.
Yes, we need constant reminders of our blind spots, but white privilege is hardly the clearest prism for viewing the world. Whites assuredly have advantages — on average. But averages are just generalizations, which lend themselves to stereotypes, which can be skin deep. Averages disguise the individual variations underneath.
We live in a world of competing victimhoods. But if everyone plays victim — even the billionaire President Donald Trump and the white nationalists he flirts with — then no one is a victim.
When white Jews are targeted by so-called white nationalists, the notion of white privilege loses its colour palette. But it reminds everyone — not least Jews who joined the civil rights battles of the 1960s, in the wake of the Holocaust of the 1940s — that we must all stick together, even if we come at it from different life experiences.
Which is why we need a better term than white privilege. Because prejudice and privilege come in all shades and colours.
Martin Regg Cohn’s political column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. firstname.lastname@example.org , Twitter: @reggcohn
Martin Regg Cohn’s political column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. email@example.com , Twitter: @reggcohn
After a sexual assault charge against a Niagara Region man was withdrawn, he went on to sue his accuser in small claims court — and won.
After an eight day trial in Welland spread out over a year, where both parties were self-represented, a deputy judge concluded that the woman lied to the police about the sexual assault and awarded the man $18,842 to cover his legal fees from the criminal court case, as well as $5,000 in damages.
Experts say such lawsuits, while unusual, may be becoming more common and could have a chilling effect on sexual assault reporting.
The deputy judge in the civil case, David Black, found the woman’s testimony about her injuries, including cuts, scratches and bruises, was “completely contradicted” by her doctor who said she saw no indication of any such injuries when examining her at a physical on March 28, 2011, the day after the alleged sexual assault took place.
Black found that the woman defamed the man by lying to police about a sexual assault to get revenge because she thought he was cheating on her. While making a statement to police about a suspected crime is often covered by a defence known as qualified privilege, it does not apply when the statements are made with “actual or express malice,” he wrote.
However, Black did not find the man proved malicious prosecution because the woman did not initiate the prosecution — the police did.
The September 2016 decision is now under appeal, with a hearing set for next month.
The factum filed by the woman’s lawyer, Jonathan Collings, argues Black inappropriately relied on stereotypes about sexual assault victims when assessing the woman’s credibility and said the inconsistencies in her evidence are minor.
The factum questions Black’s interpretation of email and text exchanges between the two parties following alleged instances of abuse and argues that Black inappropriately relied on the doctor’s assessment of the woman as someone who did not present like someone who had been sexually assaulted the day before.
The factum argues the doctor noted that at the end of the appointment the woman told her that there had been a “confrontation” and she was forced into “un-consented sex” with her boyfriend but did not say when this happened.
The woman made a police report in July 2011 and the man was charged with sexual assault. Black’s decision noted that the police did not contact the doctor, who was specifically mentioned by the complainant in a written statement, prior to laying the charge and first did so in November. The man spent five days in jail before being released on bail and the charge was withdrawn in March 2013.
“There is medical evidence that completely contradicts the witness,” the man’s defence lawyer told the court following the complainant’s examination-in-chief at the preliminary inquiry. The Crown told the court he agreed with the defence “in broad strokes.”
The small claims court lawsuit was launched in July 2014.
The man is not being identified by the Star because of a publication ban on the identity of the woman. In an interview he said he brought the lawsuit because he was seeking “accountability” from the woman who he says ruined his life by falsely accusing him of sexual assault. He is opposing the appeal which he argued in a factum has been filed unfairly.
They had consensual sex, he said.
He said he hoped the lawsuit would clear his name but now believes that will never happen because of the stigma that comes with a sexual assault charge. He told the court he has been “blackballed” in his town, that he “lives like a hermit” and lost one job.
“Because of the charge my innocence means nothing . . . having the charge alone is guilt,” he said when contacted by the Star. “I hope this nightmare doesn’t happen to anyone else.”
According to the decision, he says he has suffered anxiety, depression and stress. He also cannot cross the border or apply for jobs requiring a vulnerable sector check, he said. Black found that the man had not proved loss of past or future income or that his employment has been impacted.
The woman and her lawyer declined to comment.
Lawyer Joanna Birenbaum, who has worked with hundreds of women considering reporting sexual assault, says she is regularly asked about the risks of being sued. “The chilling effect is extraordinary,’ said Birenbaum who is not involved in this case. “Sexual assault is the most underreported crime and the prospects of conviction where charges are laid is low. It is very troubling that fear of being sued is increasingly a barrier to women reporting rape.”
Elizabeth Grace, a civil lawyer with experience in sexual assault and defamation law, says defamation concerns for accusers often come up when they share abuse allegations online. Just going to the police or starting a lawsuit isn’t usually enough for a successful defamation claim – but it can be if it’s found to be done for malicious purposes, which is a high bar to clear, she says.
Grace, who is also not involved in the case, says there has been a shift in society’s sensitivity to wrongful convictions and the harm that can be done by criminal charges and criminal trials, which may have led to more malicious prosecution and defamation lawsuits. And in the rare exceptions in sexual assault cases where there is malice, there should be recourse, she said.
However, these decisions always have the effect of deterring and intimidating victims, she said. “There are no winners.”
Punching a woman under his care in the face while she showered. Striking her with a hairbrush. Urinating while another woman was present in the same washroom, and then hitting her on the head.
Over the course of 14 days, a St. Catharines nurse allegedly terrorized two women living in a group home for people with disabilities, a disciplinary committee at the College of Nurses of Ontario heard Wednesday.
In January, David Little was found guilty of six counts of assault. Those convictions were included in evidence presented to the disciplinary panel.
“I think the conduct must be denounced in the most strongest of terms, having regard to your capacity as a professional and your relationship to these two women,” said Judge J.G. Campbell, according to a transcript from the sentencing hearing.
The college’s disciplinary committee must now decide whether to strip Little of his nursing licence.
In addition to the cases presented at court, College lawyer Megan Shortreed detailed seven other allegations of abuse against the women, whose identities are protected by a publication ban.
The alleged assaults and the assaults Little was convicted of happened at a care facility run by Community Living Essex County, a non-profit organization that operates about 55 small-group homes. Little was hired there as a personal support worker in May 2015.
The abuse began about seven months later, the hearing heard.
Little, 51, has been a nurse for two decades. He did not attend the hearing and was not represented.
Corey Dalgleish, director of supports and services at the care organization, reported the incidents to police after reviewing video surveillance footage. The video was made available to the committee.
Some of the alleged cases of abuse are subtle and harder to catch on video, Dalgleish told the committee. In one, Little seems to be helping a woman brush her teeth, and then he seems to jab the toothbrush in her mouth before abruptly returning to his duties.
But some of the video footage is inescapably clear, he told the committee.
Dalgleish told the committee about one incident that occurred on Dec. 12, 2015. Based on a video recording, Dalgleish said the woman was undressing, and Little took her pants and adult diaper and threw them on the floor. He motioned for her to pick them up, and when she did, Little punched her in the head. For this incident, Little was found guilty of assault.
“She was fearful of what was about to come. It was most disturbing. You could see the fear in her,” Campbell said at Little’s sentencing hearing.
Other allegations against Little include punching a woman and striking her in the face, forcing her head near a garbage pail, and urinating in her personal washroom while she was present.
Little was found guilty of punching and striking the second woman in the head and face multiple times. One of those alleged incidents happened while a resident was in the shower, and Little is said to have used a hairbrush in another.
Dalgleish reported the incidents to police after reviewing the video footage of the women’s living quarters, which films for a two-week period and tapes over itself.
Earlier this year, Little was sentenced to 30 days in jail and two years’ probation, including being prohibited from providing “professional services to persons who are to receive the benefit of a trust relationship through personal care.”
Now, the disciplinary committee panel of three nurses and two civilians will decide whether Little breached professional nursing standards, engaged in physical and emotional abuse of his clients, and displayed disgraceful and dishonourable conduct.
The College was notified of the incidents by Community Living Essex County, and in a letter from one of the victim’s parents.
In a victim impact statement read during Little’s criminal proceeding, the mother of one of the victims said making the decision to move her daughter to a care facility was “devastating.”
“The fact that someone who was paid to keep her safe is assaulting her in her own home is a grievous breach of trust.”
MONTREAL—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau travelled on Wednesday to Montreal — ground zero of the intense media coverage of the asylum-seeking issue— to try to unknit some of his own knitting.
He met with the interprovincial task force set up to co-ordinate the logistics of the response to the influx of would-be asylum seekers that have been crossing the U.S. border into Quebec as well as with leaders of the Haitian community. In between, the prime minister held a news conference.
What Trudeau did not do was visit one of the many sites where many of those who have walked across the border are temporarily housed. The last thing Canada’s government needs at this juncture is a picture of the prime minister hugging some aspiring asylum seekers.
For if there was a central theme to Trudeau’s Montreal visit, it was that Canada is not in the business of rolling out a red carpet for anyone considering a stroll across the border in search of an alternative haven to the U.S.
As initially articulated over the weekend, Trudeau’s core message was that prospective asylum seekers using an irregular route into Canada should expect no exemptions from the rigorous requirements put in place to deal with such requests.
“Our No. 1 job is to protect our citizens,” he stated in his opening statement, warning once again that all existing rules will apply to the border-crossing asylum seekers. Trudeau also pledged more resources to accelerate the screening process.
That’s the same message the lead ministers on the file have consistently issued, albeit with limited effect, over the past few weeks. The calculation, or at least the hope, is that with the gravitas of the prime minister behind it, the warning will have more weight.
Trudeau’s cautionary body language, his emphasis on maintaining the integrity of Canada’s immigration system, may go some way to appease a rattled domestic public opinion.
Indeed, in his efforts to address some Quebec concerns, Trudeau caught a break of sorts. La Meute, one of the province’s extreme-right fringe groups, has set out to get anti-immigration mileage out of the surge in asylum requests. No Quebec mainstream party wants to be associated with the group. If only temporarily, that has somewhat muted some of the leading critics of the federal government’s handling of the issue.
But Trudeau is undoubtedly aware that for many Canadians the litmus test of his federal strategy will be whether it results in a tapering off of traffic at the border. The sum total of would-be asylum seekers is not wildly out of line with past influxes but the unusual sight of temporary camps being set up to house a growing number of border-crossers suggests anything but business as usual.
For now, the prime minister is still banking on persuasion rather than on dissuasive measures to stem the flow.
On that basis, Trudeau’s tallest order Wednesday and beyond was not to convince voters in Quebec or elsewhere in Canada that his government has matters in hand but rather to dispel the perception in some quarters in the U.S. that his government has an open-door immigration policy.
It was less than a year ago that pictures of Trudeau personally greeting Syrian refugees to Canada circulated worldwide. And when President Donald Trump initially set out to bar visitors for half a dozen Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S., Trudeau famously tweeted: “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith.”
It takes a leap — and a significant dose of bad faith — to translate those words into an invitation for all comers to head for Canada. They need to be read in the context of the time, but they nevertheless struck a more immigration-friendly tone than anything that has come out of the White House since Trump’s swearing-in.
By insisting that potential asylum seekers will be subject to a by-the-book process, the prime minister may help dispel the myths that border-crossers will be welcomed to Canada with open arms and no questions asked. What he cannot do is change the contrasting political realities of the two countries.
Notwithstanding Trudeau’s admonitions to would-be asylum seekers, it will be hard to convince many of them that their odds of finding a haven are not better in Canada than in Trump’s United States. What would you think if you were in their place?
Chantal Hébert is a national affairs writer. Her column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
Chantal Hébert is a national affairs writer. Her column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
SAN FRANCISCO—A lawyer of a Canadian man accused in a massive hack of Yahoo emails says his client has pleaded not guilty to all charges against him in a San Francisco courtroom on Wednesday.
Karim Baratov was arrested in Hamilton in March under the Extradition Act after U.S. authorities indicted him and three others for computer hacking, economic espionage and other crimes.
Baratov’s U.S.-based lawyer, Andrew Mancilla, says his next court appearance will be Tuesday.
Last week, the 22-year-old decided to forgo his extradition hearing and face the charges in the United States in what his Canadian lawyer has called an effort to speed up the legal process.
The Hamilton man signed documents agreeing to waive the hearing before an Ontario judge on Friday, after weighing the decision for months.
Baratov has been held without bail since his arrest because an Ontario Superior Court judge ruled that he was too much of a flight risk to be released prior to an extradition hearing.
The judge also found that Baratov’s parents would not make appropriate sureties since they had not been suspicious of their son’s alleged activities while he lived under their roof.
American authorities alleged in court documents that Baratov, who was born in Kazakhstan, posed an “extremely high flight risk” in part due to his alleged ties to Russian intelligence agents and his financial resources.
He appealed the ruling that denied him bail but it was upheld in June.
Yahoo said last September that information from at least 500 million user accounts had been stolen in a cyberattack two years earlier. Baratov is accused of hacking 80 Yahoo accounts and faces 20 years in prison in the U.S. if convicted.