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Articles on this Page
- 08/23/17--19:18: _Newfoundland minist...
- 08/23/17--21:12: _Striking Pearson gr...
- 08/23/17--16:09: _Toronto’s anti-abor...
- 08/23/17--17:35: _Rob Ford’s former c...
- 08/23/17--19:10: _Toronto police boar...
- 08/23/17--14:26: _Canada is not a saf...
- 08/23/17--18:58: _Drop in GTA home pr...
- 08/24/17--15:00: _Amy Jo Johnson on T...
- 08/24/17--19:51: _Police searching fo...
- 08/24/17--09:11: _Judy Foote resigns ...
- 08/24/17--14:22: _Province urged to f...
- 08/24/17--09:34: _Metrolinx appoints ...
- 08/24/17--15:26: _Mike Duffy got a ra...
- 08/24/17--12:00: _Widow of U.S. soldi...
- 08/24/17--15:10: _Wife of accused in ...
- 08/24/17--07:16: _Sir John A. Macdona...
- 08/24/17--16:06: _Cops in schools den...
- 08/24/17--10:23: _Mike Duffy suing th...
- 08/24/17--15:37: _Police under fire f...
- 08/26/17--09:09: _Man killed in Missi...
- 08/23/17--21:12: Striking Pearson ground crew vote overwhelmingly to reject new deal
- 08/23/17--14:26: Canada is not a safe haven for asylum seekers, Trudeau warns
- 08/23/17--18:58: Drop in GTA home prices prompts new warning: seller beware
- 08/24/17--15:00: Amy Jo Johnson on Toronto, directing and Power Rangers
- 08/24/17--09:11: Judy Foote resigns cabinet to help family face cancer
- 08/24/17--09:34: Metrolinx appoints former head of Scottish rail firm as new CEO
- 08/24/17--15:26: Mike Duffy got a raw deal and that will cost us: Delacourt
- 08/24/17--16:06: Cops in schools denounced at raucous police board meeting
- 08/24/17--15:37: Police under fire for failing to notify SIU of Black man's injuries
- 08/26/17--09:09: Man killed in Mississauga shooting
OTTAWA—Judy Foote, a strong female voice in Justin Trudeau’s cabinet, will resign her position Thursday as public works minister and step down altogether as a Newfoundland and Labrador MP this fall, according to a report.
Foote, a breast cancer survivor, had stepped aside temporarily with Trudeau’s blessing in April, citing family reasons. Although her ministerial duties had been covered off by cabinet colleague Jim Carr, who is natural resources minister, she had recently returned to work at a number of appearances at events in her constituency.
Trudeau may use the occasion to re-set a number of other cabinet portfolios. He shuffled the cabinet more extensively than expected in January. He has committed himself to gender parity in his government’s executive ranks.
The MP for Bonavista-Burin-Trinity, Foote entered federal politics in 2008 after several years a provincial cabinet minister and a past senior aide to former Newfoundland premier Clyde Wells. She was Trudeau’s caucus whip and deputy House leader when the Liberals were the third party on the opposition benches. Foote moved to Trudeau’s front bench and sat at his right hand in the Commons when the Liberals won the October 2015 election.
Foote could not be reached for comment and the Prime Minister’s Office declined comment on a CBC News report late Wednesday that Foote will make her decision public in St. John’s on Thursday.
Although not unexpected, the timing of Foote’s announcement leaves Trudeau time to shuffle portfolios and bring in a new face or two, a refresh of his cabinet files nearly two years after taking power just before a cabinet retreat where the fall parliamentary agenda will be discussed.
Two other Newfoundlanders have been the subject of much speculation as likely candidates for a promotion into cabinet: Gudie Hutchings, MP for Long Range Mountains, on Newfoundland’s west coast, parliamentary secretary for small business and tourism, and a woman; or Seamus O’Reagan, a former broadcaster and friend of Trudeau’s and his top aide, Gerry Butts. Shortly after winning his first election in the Liberal sweep, O’Reagan admitted he had an alcohol problem and went into a recovery program. He continued to have Trudeau’s trust and went to the Aga Khan’s island in the Bahamas with Trudeau and his family last Christmas.
Striking ground crew workers at Canada’s busiest airport voted almost unanimously Wednesday evening to reject a new contract offer and continue their now four-week-long work stoppage.
About 700 cabin cleaners, baggage handlers and other ground crew workers employed by Swissport at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport have been on strike since late July. Workers overwhelmingly rejected the company’s last offer in July, with 95 per cent supporting the decision that triggered the strike. This time, it was even louder, with 98 per cent of votes saying no.
Members finished voting on the new offer around 10:30 p.m.
Christopher Monette, a spokesman with the union representing the workers, said the offer they received from Swissport was “almost identical to the first offer,” calling it “insulting.”
“The company is still attempting to impose a 3-year wage freeze on the majority of its workers, cut benefits, and gain the right to change schedules on short notice,” reads a statement on the union’s website.
Monette sees the clear position of 98 per cent of the workers voting no as a “strong vote of confidence in the union and a rejection of the company’s attitude.”
“They’re still refusing to address the issues that led to the strike in the first place,” Monette said.
Their concerns have included pay and benefits cuts, scheduling issues and what their union calls a lack of respect from Swissport managers.
“Our workers, when they show up to work everyday, they don’t feel respected by their employers and this was evident in the way Swissport’s basically submitted the same proposal and . . . expected different results,” Monette said.
Swissport have been using temporary agency workers since the strike, and the union claimed on their website that these “strikebreakers” had caused “workplace injuries, accidents, damaged planes, delayed flights, and hundreds of cases of lost luggage” due to lack of sufficient training and inexperience.”
Monette said these temporary workers were brought on “in an attempt to draw out a strike as long as possible to put financial pressure on their own employees” so that they could get them to agree to terms they’d rejected last July.
Swissport services 30 airlines at the airport, including Air Transat, Sunwing Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Air France, KLM and Lufthansa. Air Canada and WestJet are not serviced by Swissport.
The ground crew strike has not significantly affected passengers, although the airport has been warning travellers that the labour disruption could affect some flights.
Earlier, Swissport had said that they were optimistic that workers would accept the deal.
Monette said it’s time for Swissport to “get serious about negotiating.”
“We want to hash out something that’s fair, that can allow us to go back to work with our head held high, but we’re not going to allow Swissport to continue disrespecting us in the way they’ve been for quite a long time now,” he said.
“Our members are going to see this through to the end.”
With wires from The Canadian Press
As Toronto’s increasingly young anti-abortion movement ramps up its graphic on-street displays, the city is fighting back.
On Saturday, Councillor Sarah Doucette (Ward 13, Parkdale-High Park) joined concerned families in her neighbourhood of Swansea to counter-protest against what she calls “vulgar” signs imposed on people in her community against their will.
After neighbourhood residents filed complaints with Toronto police about those carrying graphic billboards in their busiest intersections, they were told protesters weren’t breaking any laws.
So long as they don’t block traffic or harass people, the posters aren’t technically illegal.
Now Doucette, after talking to police several times, is taking her cause to city council to pass a bylaw that ban these types of signs.
The group calls itself the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform. With an office in Mississauga, it hired 19 high school and university “interns” this summer to spend four months spreading its message on street corners.
In Calgary (home to the group’s other office), bylaws like the one Doucette hopes this city will pass have already been enacted.
“We’re not stopping them from standing on the street, talking to people or handing out flyers, but we’re just stopping them being in people’s faces. You really cannot get away from them. That’s where people are feeling it is harassment,” said Doucette, who insists they are a distraction to drivers.
Parents in the Swansea area use a Facebook group to warn each other about the whereabouts of the signs.
Sometimes, police will visit the protesters to tell them not to harass people. But that’s difficult when they frequently change intersections.
“I don’t think anyone is against freedom of speech,” Doucette said. “Women find them very upsetting if you have lost a baby, this is very hard to see these sorts of images. Residents are just saying to me, ‘We don’t want to be going about our day-to-day lives and be confronted with these giant images.’ ”
The protests target busy intersections during Toronto’s lunch-hour rush, leaning over their chest-high posters as crowds of people — and children — impatiently wait to cross the street.
On Wednesday, nearly a dozen of the group’s interns stood on both of the south corners at Yonge St. and St. Clair Ave.
Many stopped to argue with the protesters. Others shielded their children’s eyes or shut the front of their strollers. Some yelled at them to turn their boards around, or stopped their cars at red lights to yell profanities about the vulgarity of the images. While most bypassed them or ignored their handouts, some stopped to talk to them.
“If you’re going to argue that this is a person, you can’t treat them like an object in the image,” said Sarah Hamilton, who is pro-life but still stopped to argue with the protesters over their tactics.
“Using their image to display is objectifying them.”
The protesters call abortion a human rights violation and claim “300 children are dismembered, decapitated and disemboweled” every day in Canada. They are ultra-polite in the face of anger and tell passersbys that if the images offend them, that they should be offended by abortion — not the signs.
“I think it’s a lot worse to bring a child into the world that’s going to be unloved than to not bring it into the world,” said Shoshana Abramovitz, who stopped for nearly half an hour to talk with one of the protesters. “You should have the right to choose. It’s pretty hard (to look at).”
On Wednesday, 22-year-old Oriyana Hrychyshyn was in charge of the interns and stood behind a sign of her own. The night before, on a phone call, her boss Devorah Gilman was reciting the same lines.
“We want to put an end to abortion in our country,” Hrychyshyn said. “They’ve been trained to go out day-in-day-out on the street and expose the realty of abortion and what it does to pre-born children.”
They are backed by Westminster Chapel at High Park’s senior pastor Rev. Joseph Boot, who calls the group one of Canada’s “most important educational organizations” and says they are re-educating the country on “the true nature of this hidden atrocity.”
But Kathi Ziolkowski said the group doesn’t represent Christian values. A 47-year-old mother of two who grew up in a deeply religious family, and has tried to explain to the protesters the impact of their images on her community.
“If they did want people to understand the sanctity of life, that might not be the way that’s going to win people over,” she said. “Maybe if there were other ways, rather than trying to use shock and sensationalism, they might be more successful.”
“Don’t try to change Donald Trump.” That’s the number one piece of advice the former chief of staff to former mayor Rob Ford can offer General John Kelly, the U.S. president’s new Chief of Staff.
“He doesn’t fit the mold and that’s what his supporters love about him. Build a presidency around him that plays to his strengths,” wrote Towhey in an Aug. 23 BuzzFeed article.
Towhey, author of Mayor Rob Ford: Uncontrollable, made parallels between the Canadian mayor and American president, calling them both “unconventional,” “black horse” candidates who were “eccentric and unpredictable.”
There are similarities, wrote Towhey, in the ways both are equally loved and hated, and how both function as a regular punch line for comedians, and a common enemy for democratic institutions.
In the Buzzfeed article, Towhey outlines 13 “entirely unsolicited observations” to serve as a guide for Kelly. These include how Kelly should keep his focus on the administration’s objectives (“help your boss do the same”), break the siege (“In their minds, the world outside the gates hates them, misunderstands them, and is actively conspiring to destroy them”), protect his staff (“[Your boss] may not know how to lead and care for them.”) and to “give Trump answers, not options.”
“Your boss is a disrupter, but you’ll have to work within the establishment to change the establishment,” wrote Towhey, adding that Kelly should plan his exit, keep his resume updated, and make sure to not break the law.
Towhey was fired from his position as a top mayoral aide by Ford, a week after the former mayor’s crack cocaine scandal broke in May 2013. Towhey had advised Ford to get help for his alcoholism and drug addiction. Ford died in March 2016.
Towhey could not be reached for comment.
About a year ago, Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders, decided without much “deep thought” that the city’s white, red and blue patrol cars should be replaced with all-grey cruisers.
A public backlash followed. Critics said the “stealth grey” was too militaristic and sent the wrong message to the public. Design and safety experts questioned why police would choose a color lacking visibility.
After being scolded by city council and the civilian oversight board, which, unlike previous boards, wasn’t consulted on the design change — Saunders agreed to put the conversion on hold, clarify the reason for change, consult with the public and report back to the board.
He is set to report to the board Thursday on a design and colour that’s already been decided.
On Monday, Saunders rolled up to a press conference behind the wheel of a Ford Interceptor with a grey base and white doors, and its lights flashing. “Toronto Police Service unveils new police vehicle, listening to the community, listening to our members,” announced the TPS in a news release.
An order has already been placed for 70 new grey and whites, in addition to the 74 all-grey cars ordered in 2016.
But Councillor Shelley Carroll, a member of the Toronto Police Services Board who first flagged public concern about all-grey cars, says Saunders and the service jumped the gun, and in so doing failed the public.
The public wanted visibility, the police wanted “stealth,” and that’s what they got — without any input from the board, she said.
“This is a simple matter. Release the design and bring it to the board for approval,” Carroll said this week at city hall. “We didn’t get a picture of the new design. We got a new car with the design already on it.”
Nor did the board receive the answers to the questions it asked.
The board also fell down on its oversight duties, she added.
Board chair Andy Pringle, Mayor John Tory and other members should have “done better” and given clearer direction to the chief that the board first needed to sign off on a new design and color, she said.
“If we’re not crystal clear, we’re leaving things open to interpretation, and we have a service that really just wants to do its own thing,” she said. “That’s disappointing. Nowhere else in municipal operations is there more trust in jeopardy than in the police service.”
While the design of the police car is “not a life and death controversy… this is the place where we really could have demonstrated the fact that we’ve gone the extra mile. So I’m frustrated,” Carroll said.
TPS spokeswoman Meaghan Gray responded Wednesday that the chief’s report to the board “clearly responds to the direction that was given to us, as noted in previous board minutes. We consulted with the community and chose a design that achieves a balance between the wishes of the public and our members.”
Pringle did not respond to a request for comment.
Mayor Tory is pleased Saunders sought feedback from the public and police service and worked with students “for this new visible and professional design,” his spokeswoman, Keerthana Kamalavasan, wrote in email.
In the report, the police say the new design is based on the results of a 14-question survey which received 17,121 responses from the external community and 1,438 internal police staff — more than any other survey conducted by the service.
Although the public agreed on 80 per cent of the design elements, the survey also showed “notable differences” on two key questions: the choice of base color and image, the report notes.
Forty two per cent of the general public thought visibility was of paramount importance, while 15 per cent picked “authority.” Those respondents also favored a base color of white by a wide margin, 47 per cent compared with 16 for grey.
In contrast, 37 per cent of police service employees thought authority more important than visibility, picked by 22 per cent, and 34 per cent preferred grey to white as the base color, chosen by 16 per cent.
The online survey, which only offered five base color options: white, silver, dark blue, grey and black, essentially allowed the force to engineer the outcome, Carroll said.
She’s also critical of the service for not providing any “real analysis” of the survey results, nor did the board get a chance to discuss why the service didn’t consider painting its fleet the bright colors seen on European emergency vehicles.
“This was an opportunity to look at these things… especially in this age of terrorism. Don’t you want police cars that everyone can recognize and run to in that type of incident?”
While Carroll said the moment for such a debate has likely passed — some social media commentators are still questioning the process and why grey remains the dominant color.
“Seems a little low on the visibility scale. Why not yellow like Europe?” said one tweet.
This week, Saunders said visibility was considered in the redesign and pointed to the involvement of the Ryerson School of Media, which he said took that into consideration.
John Girardo, the Ryerson instructor who lead the redesign project, told the Star students prepared about two dozen photo-shopped mockups based on the results of the survey.
No research was undertaken into emergency vehicle safety and which colors would improve visibility and reduce accidents.
“We were only asked to execute based on the research that was done,” Girardo said. “If somebody wants a lime green vehicle, we would show them what that would look like.”
Girardo said he likes the new design, which he thinks has a “strong” look and “retro” feel, while the stark contrast of grey and white makes the cars more visible on city streets.
“Anytime you start dealing with a design or a look, it’s a subjective call, there are going to be people who have different opinions.”
MONTREAL—Canada is no automatic safe haven for those seeking quick entry into the country or fleeing the threat of imminent deportation from the United States, says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
After a meeting of federal and provincial ministers charged with managing the recent influx of asylum seekers in Montreal, Trudeau told reporters that security and immigration officials are getting a handle on the thousands of refugee claimants — most of them Haitian — who have streamed into the country from the United States since July.
And then he added one big condition to a now-famous Jan. 28, 2017, tweet that his critics have blamed for the fact that so many new arrivals believe Canada will be their future home.
“You will not be at an advantage if you choose to enter Canada irregularly. You must follow the rules and there are many,” Trudeau said.
The prime minister’s Twitter posting, shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump took office, was in response to a proposed travel ban in the United States on people from predominately Muslim countries.
“To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength,” the tweet reads.
But the tweet has since received a more liberal interpretation among asylum seekers and others who feel suddenly fearful living in Trump’s United States.
More than 7,000 people have crossed from the U.S. into Canada at a breach in the border in Quebec this year, though a wave that began in July appears to have slowed in recent days, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said this week.
Speaking in Ottawa Wednesday, Conservative MP Michelle Rempel said Trudeau’s approach has also filled those people with “false hope” that if they can somehow get to Canada, they will be accepted with open arms.
“Our system now is in shambles, and I think a lot of this has to do with the messaging — the inconsistent messaging — that has been coming out of Justin Trudeau's personal communication shop,” she said.
On Thursday, Haiti-born Liberal MP Emmanuel Dubourg is flying to Miami to speak to media about the flood of people coming to Canada and to correct some of the misconceptions that may exist among members of Florida’s Haitian community.
But in this country too, the Liberal government is tweaking its message in an attempt to keep anti-immigrant sentiments at bay.
“For someone to successfully seek asylum it’s not about economic migration. It’s about vulnerability, exposure to torture or death, or being stateless people. If they are seeking asylum we’ll evaluate them on the basis of what it is to be a refugee or asylum seeker,” Trudeau said.
In addition to a camp capable of housing 1,200 people at the Lacolle border crossing in Quebec, federal officials have erected temporary emergency shelters in the Montreal area as well as another across the Quebec-Ontario border in Cornwall.
Processing and treatment times for security and admissibility checks for potential asylum seekers has also been increasing and Trudeau said the government would like to also fast-track work permits to refugee claimants who are otherwise reliant on financial assistance from the government.
The Liberal leader said he was conscious of walking a fine line in Canada when the U.S. and many countries in Europe have taken a decidedly harder line toward migrants sneaking across their borders.
“We will continue to defend the integrity of our immigration system and remain careful stewards of an extraordinarily precious asset in this 21st-century world, which is to have a population positively inclined toward immigrants, toward refugees, understanding that being welcoming and open is a source of strength.”
With files from Alex Ballingall in Ottawa
With files from Alex Ballingall in Ottawa
Jasmin Sheba had already sold her furniture in anticipation of moving this week when she learned the buyer of her house wanted $20,000 off the selling price to close the deal.
He threatened to sue for the $10,000 deposit if he didn’t get the reduction, she said.
But the stay-at-home mother was defiant.
“I have a 2-year-old and, after all the house showings, the craziness, you’re going to try to back out? That’s not happening,” said Sheba.
The real estate world is awash in buyer-beware warnings. But some homeowners and realtors are making a case for stronger seller protections — specifically, who gets to keep the deposit when a buyer backs out of an agreement.
Until recently, it was rare for a buyer to try and exit a home transaction.
But a recent drop in Toronto region home prices — after months of frenzied buying — has caused a spike in buyers looking to exit or renegotiate purchase agreements. It’s widely considered to be part of the fallout from the Ontario Liberal government’s housing market cooling policies launched on April 20.
The Toronto Star could not confirm that Sheba’s condo townhouse sale was among those cases. She refused to name the buyer for fear of endangering a successful resolution to the transaction.
But, she said, she understands how a buyer’s attempt to renegotiate the terms of a sale can derail a seller’s finances and moving plans.
“It feels like I’m in the passenger seat and they’re in the driver’s seat,” she said.
In an unconditional agreement to purchase, the presumption is that the deposit goes to the seller if the deal goes south, said Toronto lawyer Neal Roth.
But it’s not automatic. Both parties have to agree to that. If the seller wants the deposit and the buyer balks, the funds remain frozen in a real estate brokerage trust, sometimes for years.
In the absence of an agreement, the deposit can only be released by a court order.
The court will favour the seller for the deposit in a clean, unconditional agreement to purchase, said Roth.
But if it’s a large deposit — and many deposits during heated bidding were unusually large — the judge can decide that the amount constitutes a penalty to the purchaser.
“The question becomes: when is the loss of the deposit so large it effectively becomes a penalty rather than compensation for the vendor. That’s a tough question. We know when it’s really a penalty — 10 to 12 per cent of the purchase price. Something where it’s 3 or 4 per cent, it’s very unlikely it’s going to be regarded as a penalty,” he said.
But Roth acknowledged that the court process can take months and money. Although the seller is presumably awarded damages, they have to consider whether they will realistically be able to collect from a buyer who couldn’t close a sale.
Most agents recognize the legal process is “draining and expensive,” said Royal LePage agent Desmond Brown. They will encourage an agreement and get the seller’s house back on the market as soon as possible.
In normal market conditions, these cases are disappointing but rare, said Brown.
But soaring housing prices earlier this year, and the ensuing correction, has been anything but normal. The result, said Brown, is agents and sellers caught on the steep slope of the market.
Raised in North York and Aurora, Sheba said she didn’t enjoy the Scarborough neighbourhood condo townhome her family bought for about $326,000 two years ago. When houses in the neighbourhood started selling for $550,000 in March, they saw an opportunity to move.
They listed for $499,900 at the end of March. At the beginning of April there was an offer for $460,000. Sheba thought they could do better. But as the spring market fell, even a vastly reduced price of $399,000 failed to elicit any offers.
Finally, about three weeks ago — long after Toronto’s slumping housing market was news — there were two offers. They took the higher bid, an unconditional offer of $420,000 with an Aug. 25 closing.
It would be a scramble to move that quickly but the family hadn’t purchased another home. Because they plan to stay in a hotel in the short-term, Sheba says she sold most of their furniture rather than store it.
Last week, Sheba claims the buyer contacted her requesting a price reduction in light of an issue he identified as the parking that went with the home.
He said there should be two separate parking spaces, instead of one spot with enough room for two cars, she says.
Sheba claims the parking was identified in a status certificate the buyer had in hand before he signed off on the agreement to purchase.
The Star had no way of identifying and reaching the buyer for comment.
After a week of negotiation, Sheba said she agreed to a $5,000 price reduction because the expense of going to court would have meant remortgaging the house. On Tuesday, she said she expected the sale would close Friday.
While she was relieved the matter was settled, the experience was discouraging, she said.
“I sold all my furniture. We’re sitting on the floor. We have nothing,” said Sheba.
Purchase agreements on residential sales don’t generally contain a stipulation that the deposit is non-refundable or that it automatically reverts to the seller if the buyer backs out from an unconditional offer.
That’s because agreements to purchase are predicated on a presumption of good faith by a motivated buyer and a motivated seller, said Kelvin Kucey of the Real Estate Council of Ontario.
There is nothing preventing sellers from including that kind of contract language as long as the brokerages are signing on. But, he said, it’s not advisable.
“The difficulty is that whenever one party introduces new controversial language to protect one interest, that sours the trade,” said Kucey.
Still, he added, “It’s certainly a potential means through which sellers give themselves some comfort that at least the deposit will be paid to them if in fact the buyer with a firm agreement for whatever reason decides to renege.”
The real estate council has seen a “small spike” in calls from buyers looking to get out of their purchase agreements, said Kucey.
“These are difficult conversations because contractually they need to close the trade. If you step away from it you are potentially opening yourself up to a lawsuit,” he said.
The province doesn’t know how many sellers have been stranded or vexed by the fallout from the changing market in the wake of its housing plan.
“Transactions between buyers and sellers are considered private transactions and as such are not required to be reported into government,” said a spokesperson for Housing Minister Peter Milczyn.
“The housing market always fluctuates — that’s the nature of all investments. The reality is that earlier this year, prices in Toronto were increasing 33 per cent year over year and in the surrounding regions by 43 per cent. We knew that this was not sustainable, which is why we took action,” said Myriam Denis.
The opposition says it’s another outcome of the government’s failure to research the effects of its new housing policies.
As speculation grew in the spring that the government planned to act, people decided on short notice to sell, said Tory MPP and housing critic Ernie Hardeman (Oxford).
“They weren’t ready to move out so they would be looking for a longer closing time. It’s that length of closing time that turned out to be the driver for the challenge they’re facing today,” he said.
The problem with most contracts, said Kucey of the real estate council, is that they don’t necessarily give enough consideration to the potential negative impacts.
“It’s not unlike marriage,” he said. “There’s no discussion of what happens when it falls apart.”
Amy Jo Johnson likes being behind the camera better than in front of it.
The Flashpoint and Felicity star, who officially became a Canadian citizen two years ago, says she’s no longer seeking out acting gigs and is now dedicating her time to filmmaking and being a mom.
She plans to turn her screenplay Crazier Than You, a story about her mother, into a film within the next few years, but wanted to start with a few shorts and a couple of feature-lengths first.
This week, she chatted with the Star about The Space Between, her debut feature film as a director (which she also wrote and starred in), moving to Canada and how her first acting gig unexpectedly followed her career.
In The Space Between you play Amelia. Did you always know that character was going to be (played by) you? What was it like writing a character that you would also then play?
Half of the money we raised to make the movie was through Indiegogo and people who have supported my acting career for 20 years, especially from the first job I ever had as a Power Ranger.
I knew that because people helped so much in creating the movie with raising so much money, that I had to put myself in the film.
As a first-time feature film director, I wanted to make sure my role was smaller than one of the main characters, so I could really focus on the actual directing and creating the film.
You mention being a Power Ranger, it’s been, I guess, 20 years or a little bit . . .
More! (Laughs). That was my first job ever, my first acting job, yeah.
That still seems to come up a lot quite a lot for you even though you’ve done quite a lot in between. How much do you feel that (role) is still part of your identity?
I think it comes in phases, but because (The Space Between) came out this year and, because all those children are now in their late 20s, early 30s — they’re adults — it’s sort of having this bit of a resurgence for a moment. It’s all good, it doesn’t bother me.
Can you tell me about the switch from acting to being a director. What made you decide to switch sides of the camera?
I always knew that at some point I wanted to direct.
You know, I think it was moving. I left Los Angeles 10 years ago because I just — it was swallowing me up. For myself, I found myself to be a very insecure actress.
And then when I moved my life to Montreal first and then Toronto because of Flashpoint, I found my confidence within myself. As soon as Flashpoint ended I knew I was ready, personally, to give it a shot. And once I directed my first short, I was like: ‘This is all I want to do.’
And I love it so much more than I ever loved acting.
When did Toronto start feeling like home?
(After leaving Los Angeles) I just sort of landed in Montreal and took a couple years to decompress.
Two years after being there I got asked to audition for Flashpoint (as Julianna ‘Jules” Callaghan) and reluctantly I did it, because I thought at that time I wanted to stop acting. But I got the job.
And as soon as I came to Toronto I knew this was going to be my home. I loved Montreal, but it never felt quite like home. I don’t know French so it felt like I was on the outside of the joke, in a way.
And then as soon as I came to Toronto I was like, “Ahh god, I love this city so much.” I lived in New York for a while, too, and I find it to be like a boutique New York.
Everything is here that I need, but I don’t feel overwhelmed by it.
Right now I’m doing the Canadian Film Centre’s Directors’ Lab, bringing my second feature through, and it’s called Breaking Emma. And I’m going to be shooting that next spring. . . . It’s loosely based on my experience with leaving Los Angeles and moving my life to Montreal, it’s very loosely based.
The movie is about an actress who goes to Montreal on a whim to find her autonomy kind of, and to decompress from her life in Los Angeles.
The Space Between is on tour around the province and will screen in Toronto at Carlton Cinema from Aug. 25 to 31. The film will be available online through various platforms — including iTunes, Google Play and Amazon — as of Sept. 1.
Toronto police are looking for a male suspect whom they accuse of sexually assaulting an 8-year-old girl at a day camp.
Police said the incident occurred on Tuesday at a day camp run out of a facility in the area of Dundas St. and University Ave.
Const. Jenifferjit Sidhu said the man entered the camp claiming that he was a parent. He then approached the girl and began a conversation before the alleged sexual assault. He then fled the scene.
“Police have given the camp some crime prevention tips such as ensuring all doors have a locking system, making sure there is enough staff surveillance and that all cameras in the facility are working,” Sidhu said.
Jane Arbour, a spokesperson for the city, said the camp is not run by the city.
The man is described as white, between 30 and 50 years old, 6 feet tall with a thin build, black hair and beard. He was wearing black sunglasses, a light-coloured shirt, dark shorts and red sneakers.
Police are trying to gather photos and video from surveillance cameras in the area.
Anyone with information is asked to call police at 416-808-7474 or Crime Stoppers at 416-222-8477.
OTTAWA—Judy Foote, a former broadcaster and provincial and federal politician, took short breaks from work for breast cancer treatment 20 years ago and again three years ago before the 2015 election.
“The reality is when something happens to you, you’re able to deal with it and you just keep going, and that’s what I did,” she said at a new conference in St. John’s to announce her resignation from Justin Trudeau’s cabinet.
“When it hits your children, it’s a totally different ball game.”
Foote, 65, revealed she is a carrier of BRCA-2, a breast cancer gene that she has passed onto her children and which makes one susceptible to other cancers as well.
She didn’t say which of the three now faces the same struggle, but her two daughters and son, along with husband Howard and several grandchildren surrounded her as she said: “I continue to be, as far as I know, cancer-free.” For now, she added, “my children are well. But it is an eye-opener and puts things in perspective.”
Foote had stepped aside temporarily in April to help her family deal with its latest health crisis. Since then, her sprawling departmental duties – which include massive computer problems with the federal pay system and overseeing beleaguered military procurement projects – have been handled by colleague Jim Carr, the natural resources minister. But her departure leaves a big vacancy and provides an opportunity for the government to refresh its ranks.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to make what several sources said would be a minor cabinet shuffle, probably next week. He is on the road to southern Ontario for the next two days and on Sunday, the prime minister and chief of defence staff, Gen. Jonathon Vance, are expected to march in Ottawa’s Pride Parade.
Trudeau posted a statement to his Twitter account, hailing the woman who sat at his right hand in the House of Commons for the past two years and who served her province “with love and dedication.”
“We’ll all miss her immensely.”
While the Liberals were in Opposition, Trudeau had entrusted Foote, his caucus whip, with an internal investigation into sexual harassment allegations in 2014 made by two female NDP MPs against two male Liberal MPs. When the Liberals came to power, he handed her the unglamourous and onerous job of running a key central agency.
Foote said she was quitting now, two weeks before a cabinet retreat in advance of Parliament resuming next month because “the province needs representation in cabinet and to serve effectively requires being at the table.” She said Trudeau has a “soft spot” for Newfoundland and Labrador, suggesting the province would continue to have a seat at the table.
Two other Newfoundlanders who are often suggested as likely candidates for a promotion into cabinet, perhaps in a more junior role, are: Gudie Hutchings, MP for Long Range Mountains, on Newfoundland’s west coast, parliamentary secretary for small business and tourism, and a woman; or Seamus O’Reagan, a former broadcaster and friend of Trudeau’s and his top aide, Gerry Butts. Shortly after winning his first election in the Liberal sweep, O’Reagan admitted he had an alcohol problem and went into a recovery program. He continued to have Trudeau’s trust and went to the Aga Khan’s island in the Bahamas with Trudeau and his family last Christmas.
One source said the prime minister is not looking at a major shuffle at this time because while there “may have been some communications issues here and there, at the end of the day everybody is doing a good job in terms of fulfilling their mandates.”
However, even a minor shift in roles could entail other cabinet movements or splits in unwieldy cabinet duties.
For now, Foote remains the Bonavista-Burin-Trinity MP. She intends to resign her seat within weeks after she says goodbye to constituents, which will trigger a by-election in what is a Liberal stronghold.
Foote entered federal politics in 2008 after several years as a provincial cabinet minister and a past senior aide to former Newfoundland premier Clyde Wells. She was a provincial cabinet minister in governments led by Brian Tobin and Roger Grimes.
“The jobs that I’ve had have required me to be on the road and I’ve done that despite having cancer twice,” she said.
Through those battles, her family never suggested “that I should give up jobs I love, the life that I love. But you know more than the jobs and the life, I love my family. So this decision is ours. It’s my decision to be with them, where I need to be and where they need me to be.”
A group of Toronto public officials petitioned the provincial government on Thursday to file an injunction to block the “disturbing anti-abortion images” that are increasingly appearing on posters and flyers in the city.
The letter is addressed to attorney general Yasir Naqvi, and backed by Toronto-Danforth MPP Peter Tabuns, Toronto District School Board trustee Jennifer Story, and city councillors Paula Fletcher and Mary Fragedakis.
In it, the quartet joined city councillor Sarah Doucette in criticizing the use of “horrifying images by an anti-abortion group, the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform.”
“I think it’s important because of the impact it’s having on my community. People are horrified, they’re traumatized, they’re worried about their children,” Tabuns said in an interview.
“We’re in a society where free speech is guaranteed and I’m very glad of that but putting out images that are so horrendous is not something that is responsible.”
CCBR spokesperson Devorah Gilman says the group has distributed hundreds of thousands of flyers to mailboxes in order to “answer questions and provide information.” The group also has members carry graphic billboards at busy intersections.
“We do this where there’s going to be foot traffic, where there are teenagers, adults, where we can be having conversations with those who might be considering abortion or know someone who might be considering abortion and we show the pictures,” Gilman said.
But Tabuns says enough’s enough.
“I think the attorney general has the power, the authority, and I think the responsibility, to protect the community from these really grisly, graphic images of chopped up fetuses,” he said. “People are just outraged that these images could be used in this way in what they perceive as an assault on them.”
The office of the attorney general did not immediately return a request for comment.
The attorney general can seek an injunction against “public nuisances” when they become so widespread that “it would not be reasonable to expect one person to take proceedings on his own responsibility to put a stop to it, but that it should be taken on the responsibility of the community at large,” according to Lori Sterling and Heather Mackay in the Queen’s Law Journal.
“Although we object to the message and the misleading information on the flyers we understand that freedom of speech is protected and we don’t ask for prohibition of the message,” Tabuns wrote, adding that many in his community have complained that children or pregnant women find the images in their mailboxes.
“Our concern is to protect children and adults who would be traumatized by distribution or display of these images.”
Metrolinx’s next president and CEO is the former managing director of a Scottish rail firm who resigned amid controversy earlier this year.
The provincial transit agency announced Phil Verster’s appointment at a scheduled news conference at its offices in Union Station on Thursday afternoon, shortly after the Star revealed that he’d been given the post.
Introducing Verster to the media, Metrolinx board chair Rob Prichard said that the 54-year-old South Africa native has the experience and skills necessary to take the helm of the agency as it undergoes a major shift from merely planning transit to consolidating itself as a major builder and operator of rail lines.
“There are few people in the transit and rail industry with the know-how, experience, and skills to drive transformation and maintain service at the same time. Phil Verster is one of them,” Prichard said.
“He has done exactly what Metrolinx needs to do now.”
Verster’s appointment is for a three-year, renewable term, which starts October 1. He will make an annual salary of $479,000.
He takes charge of Metrolinx as the agency is in the midst of a massive, $13.5-billion project to expand and electrify GO Transit, and quadruple the number of trips on the regional rail service to 6,000 a week by 2025.
The agency is also in charge of building new light rail lines in Toronto, Hamilton, and Mississauga.
“This is an exciting time to think about how we continue to change our organization,” said Verster, who is an engineer by training.
He said he considered the CEO job a “fantastic opportunity” to “help with something that is going to transform the transit works in our area for years to come.”
Media reports from Britain and Ireland, where Verster has spent more than a decade in leadership roles at various rail agencies, describe him as a respected figure in the industry.
In 2015, he became managing director of ScotRail Alliance, the operator of Scotland’s passenger rail service. While there he oversaw a $3-billion electrification of the agency’s network.
In January, however, he resigned after just 18 months on the job. The BBC reported that he had been “facing intense pressure” for the agency’s “failure to meet punctuality and reliability targets.”
Two months before his resignation, Network Rail, which oversees rail operation in Britain, hired an outside agency to probe allegations that he had improperly accepted gifts and hospitality from contractors.
On Thursday, Verster told reporters that the third party audit “found absolutely no evidence” to support the allegations, which were made by an anonymous whistleblower.
He acknowledged that ScotRail’s reliability had fallen below target, but said that he put a recovery plan in place that fixed the problem.
As head of Metrolinx, Verster will be taking charge of a less busy agency. ScotRail’s annual ridership is about 93.2 million, while GO Transit, Metrolinx’s main passenger service, carries 69.5 million a year.
He replaces Bruce McCuaig, who stepped down in April after nearly seven years at Metrolinx. McCuaig was a veteran bureaucrat who before becoming Merolinx CEO served three years as deputy transportation minister in Dalton McGuinty’s government.
Opposition MPs said Thursday they were encouraged that Metrolinx had selected a new leader who has experience running a rail agency and isn’t connected to Ontario’s governing party.
“I’m hopeful that this new CEO focuses on his mandate to deliver Metrolinx’s core objectives, and not (Premier) Kathleen Wynne’s political agenda,” said Michael Harris, transportation critic for the Ontario PC Party.
Harris declined to criticize Verster for past controversies at ScotRail, saying only that he hoped Verster had “learned from” the experience.
After resigning the Scottish agency, Verster spent several months overseeing the East West Rail project, a new line that will link Oxford and Cambridge.
Prior to his time at ScotRail, he served as the managing director of Network Rail’s London North East service for three-and-a-half years. Before that he was deputy CEO of Irish Rail.
Canada’s political summer is ending as it began — with talk of multimillion-dollar payouts to highly controversial characters.
Mike Duffy is not Omar Khadr, but the senator and former journalist also wants to be compensated for how he was treated by his own government and let down by the Canadian legal system.
He’s suing the Senate and RCMP for $7.8 million in lost income and damages and, like Khadr, is making a case — quite possibly a convincing one — that his basic rights as a citizen were trampled by base, crass politics.
Get ready, then, for another polarizing, national argument over the price of politicizing the country’s justice system. Such debates have been the bookends for the summer of 2017, and probably should leave us with lingering questions about where political interference has played havoc with law and order. This isn’t happening in some other country — it happened in Canada.
At the beginning of July, Canadians were locked in fierce debate over whether Khadr, the former child soldier and prisoner at Guantanamo, was owed a $10-million settlement for successive, Liberal and Conservative governments’ failure to protect his legal rights.
As August winds down, the public can now argue over whether Duffy is owed compensation for his descent into political infamy, which started in 2013 and carried on right to his total exoneration in April 2016.
In both cases, the men have powerful court rulings on their side, which may not quiet the critics, but definitely tilt the balance in their favour.
Duffy, according to Justice Charles Vaillancourt’s ruling 18 months ago, was the victim of a “mind-boggling and shocking” abuse in the democratic system. The abuse started at the top, specifically Stephen Harper’s PMO, which appears to have turned Duffy into political roadkill — with the help of a spineless RCMP and Senate — to quell a fuss over expenses in the red chamber. The whole sorry tale is recapped in the 50-page statement of claim filed with Ontario Superior Court on Thursday, with colourful descriptions of political treachery: “forced scenario” and “mistake-repay strategy,” for instance.
The Prime Minister’s Office, under new management since late 2015, is not being sued by Duffy, but the Senate and the RCMP are. The lawsuit, and Duffy’s lawyer, Lawrence Greenspon, mince no words in alleging that the national police force went after a Canadian citizen to suit a political agenda. That’s not a trifling accusation; we tend to assume that this is the kind of thing that happens in political thrillers or banana republics.
But Greenspon was pretty clear at his press conference on Thursday. “When the RCMP are perceived to have been taking their marching orders from the Prime Minister’s Office and/or the Senate, that’s a very dangerous road for the RCMP to be going down.”
Duffy, the journalist, was not known for his discretion. But in his more recent role as disgraced-then-vindicated senator, he has been extremely and uncharacteristically quiet since his trial ended in 2016. No whispered asides to his old journalist friends; no big leaks of his plans for revenge.
The longer he remained silent, in fact, the more that people suspected that something was up; that the “ol’ Duff,” as he liked to call himself, was amassing a case against those who had wronged him.
“It also took me a long time to draft up a 50-page statement of claim. My goodness, it’s one of the longer ones I’ve ever done, I’ve got to say,” Greenspon told reporters.
Apart from everything else, that statement is also the first real, personal glimpse we’ve had into how Duffy has been doing since his legal troubles began.
His former lawyer, Donald Bayne, had said he feared for his client’s life throughout the legal ordeal. The statement lays out the medical details: a second round of open-heart surgery (which the statement describes as “extensive and significant”); depression; severe anxiety; insomnia; and a worsening of his diabetes, specifically, a loss of vision.
As Duffy’s new lawyer put it at the press conference on Thursday, his client “near died” from the stress. Being an enemy of the state is a dangerous condition.
There is one big difference between Duffy and Khadr: Duffy’s troubles began when he got too friendly with the government; Khadr when he got involved with an enemy abroad. But both found out what happens when a citizen becomes politically inconvenient to the PMO.
It’s said that the real test of commitment to basic rights is whether we can defend them for people we don’t like. In the case of Khadr and Duffy, the top politicians in Canada failed the test, but that doesn’t mean citizens have to do the same.
Canadian lawyers acting for the widow of a U.S. special forces soldier have filed an application in Alberta, essentially duplicating one filed earlier in Ontario, seeking enforcement of a massive U.S. damages award against former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr.
The claim calls on the Court of Queen’s Bench to recognize the judgment from Utah, and to issue a “corresponding” judgment in the amount of $173.88 million — the Canadian value of the $132.1-million American award made in June 2015.
“Given that Canada has substantially similar legislation in relation to civil actions for victims of terrorism, it is entirely consistent with the fundamental public policy of Canada to enforce the U.S. judgment,” the notice states. “There are no defences to enforcement and recognition that operate in favour of the defendant in this case.”
According to the notice, bringing the Alberta action in parallel with the Ontario case is proper “given the territorial limitations of the respective judgment-enforcement regimes.”
Calgary-based lawyer Dan Gilborn refused to discuss the proceedings on Thursday, saying his office was not authorized to comment.
While the Alberta action was filed in early July amid word that the federal government was paying Khadr $10.5 million to settle a civil lawsuit, the lawyers acting for the Americans said they were having trouble serving notice on him.
“We have thus far been unable to locate Mr. Khadr for personal service, although we are aware that he has been residing in Edmonton, Alta., for much of the past two years,” Gilborn wrote Aug. 14 in a letter to Khadr’s lawyers, a copy of which was obtained by The Canadian Press.
One of Khadr’s Edmonton-based lawyers, Nate Whitling, said on Thursday that it would be a waste of time and money to try two identical actions at once.
“It’s two duplicative actions and there’s no point in proceeding with both of them,” Whitling said from Edmonton.
He also said the Alberta action had been filed too late.
Both actions — the Ontario one was filed June 8 — are on behalf of relatives of U.S. Special Forces Sgt. Chris Speer, who was killed in Afghanistan in July 2002.
Speer had been part of a massive U.S. assault on an insurgent compound, where Khadr, then 15 years old, was captured badly wounded. Retired U.S. Sgt. Layne Morris, who was blinded in one eye during the same operation, is a co-applicant.
The applications — like the uncontested civil suit in Utah — lean heavily on Khadr’s guilty plea before a widely discredited military commission in Guantanamo Bay in 2010 to having thrown the grenades that killed Speer and blinded Morris. Khadr later said his confession to five purported war crimes was his only way out of the prison and to return to Canada.
Khadr, 30, who recently got married, has been on bail in Edmonton for the past two years pending his appeal in the U.S. of his commission convictions.
The Americans failed last month to get an injunction freezing Khadr’s assets — including the $10.5 million that sources said the federal government paid him — pending outcome of the Ontario enforcement action.
However, in previous Ontario filings, Whitling argued against enforcement of the Utah judgment given its reliance on the military commission. Canadian courts are statute barred from enforcing foreign judgments that offend Canada’s public policy, he noted, and the Supreme Court has found the Guantanamo system contrary to Canadians’ concept of justice.
“Officials at the highest levels of the Canadian government have already stated . . . that (Khadr’s) detention and prosecution in GTMO offended our most basic values and principles,” Whitling said in court filings.
PETERBOROUGH, ONT.—The wife of a man in a dramatic video that showed a 74-year-old cyclist being beaten with a club before bystanders intervened to stop the bloody altercation said, “it’s not what it looks like at all.”
David Fox, 65, is charged with aggravated assault and assault with a weapon. Fox did not appear Thursday when the matter was addressed for the first time in court. He was represented by his lawyer John Whelton.
The case was put over until Sept. 22.
A video taken by a bystander on July 18 shows the cyclist on the ground with his attacker on top of him, striking him over and over in the head and torso. It shows the attacker stopping when witnesses approached and intervened.
The victim was bleeding profusely from his head after he got up.
When the woman who recorded the video approached the attacker, he said in his defence that “I tried to walk away.”
The victim’s bike was lying on the street, beside the attacker’s truck.
Additional witnesses tried to keep the driver in the area until police arrived but he drove off in his truck.
The victim was treated and released from Peterborough Regional Hospital. Police said the two men did not know each other.
“I’ll tell you one thing, it’s not what it looks like at all,” said Fox’s wife, Sandra, outside her house, when approached by the Star. “All everybody caught was the last two minutes of it, not how it started or why it started.”
OTTAWA—Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister, was an architect of Indigenous genocide whose name has no place on public schools in Ontario, according to an attention-grabbing motion passed last week by the province’s elementary teachers union.
It’s a strong accusation at a time of heated debate over the memorializing of controversial figures in the United States and Canada — that a man whose statue stands outside Parliament and the Ontario legislature, whose name is on major roads and the airport of the country’s capital, and whose face is on the $10 bill, is unworthy of being associated with children’s schools.
The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario issued the call at its annual meeting on Aug. 14, after a motion written by teachers from Peel Region and Grand Erie was passed.
It asks school districts across the province to drop Macdonald’s name from schools and buildings “to recognize his central role as an architect of genocide against Indigenous peoples, the impact that this has had on the relationship between Indigenous students and non-Indigenous students, parents, educators, and the ways in which his namesake buildings can contribute to an unsafe space to learn and to work.”
Perry Bellegarde, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, told the Star that he “totally” supports the call. He said he’s encouraged to see a group of teachers pushing for more awareness of Canada’s mistreatment of Indigenous peoples.
In Macdonald’s case, he said this includes the creation of residential schools and other policies of control and assimilation under the Indian Act — including restrictions on movement and voting rights that lasted until the 1950s and 1960s — that he considers “genocide of a people.”
“This is not about revising the history of Canada, it’s about being honest and telling the truth,” Bellegarde said, adding that he also welcomes discussion on the appropriateness of other tributes to Macdonald.
“We have a shared history, but we have more importantly a shared future, so let’s build a country on truth and honesty.”
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said in a statement Thursday that even though Macdonald was “far from perfect” and his decision to open residential schools is “one of the most problematic in our history,” she doesn’t think his name should be removed from schools.
Patrice Dutil, president of the Champlain Society and professor at Ryerson University, said the contention of genocide against Macdonald “makes no historical sense.”
He acknowledged that the first prime minister wanted to see Indigenous peoples assimilated into the colonial society of Canada, but said that it’s unfair to discredit the man of the 19th century — when such views were pervasive and unchallenged — based on the ethics and social views of the present.
“You just simply cannot level that kind of accusation against a man of the stature of Sir John A. Macdonald and at the same time ignore his accomplishments,” Dutil said.
Similar debates have been rattling around the United States with regard to Christopher Columbus and Confederate generals. The issue recently exploded in racist violence in Virginia, where a purported white nationalist was filmed plowing his car into a crowd, leaving one woman dead. The protests occurred over the suggestion that statues glorifying men who fought to preserve the slave trade in the American South — such as Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee —should be taken down.
In Canada, the discussion has centred on the country’s colonial history. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded to longstanding demands from Indigenous groups in June by renaming the Langevin Block, which houses the nerve centre of the federal bureaucracy and the Prime Minister’s Office, and was named for a Macdonald-era cabinet minister widely credited with helping to create the residential school system. The student union at Ryerson University has also called for the school to be renamed because its namesake Egerton Ryerson is said to have influenced the creation of residential schools.
These schools were part of a system that existed for more than a century, where Indigenous children were taken from their parents and forbidden from speaking their mother languages or practising the religions they grew up with.
As many as 6,000 children died in the schools, though the true number is not known because the government stopped counting around 1920, according to the head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Protests have also been held in Halifax, where some have called for a statue of the city’s founder, Edward Cornwallis, to be taken down. Cornwallis offered a bounty in 1749 to anyone who killed a Mi’kmaq adult or child, in a bid to push them out of the colony of Nova Scotia.
Felipe Pareja, a middle school French teacher in Mississauga who co-wrote the ETFO motion on Macdonald, said the call to purge his name is part of a wider conversation on reconciliation between settler and Indigenous peoples in Canada.
He said Macdonald’s public legacy should include residential schools and the dislocation and mistreatment of First Nations on the Prairies when the railroad was built — a topic outlined in historian James Daschuk’s 2013 book, Clearing the Prairies.
“This is very much about teaching, and teaching history from all perspectives,” Pareja said.
Daschuk said blaming Macdonald for genocide depends on how the term is defined, but there is no doubt he was the creator of a system that “put the boot” to Indigenous peoples for decades, especially during his time as both prime minister and Indigenous affairs minister for nine years after the 1878 election.
During this time, he established residential schools, broke treaties by refusing to supply food to starving First Nations on the Prairies and created a pass system that lasted until the 1950s, in which a status Indian living on reserve could not leave the territory without government permission, Daschuk said.
“I’ve used the analogy: George Washington was a slave owner, and we can criticize him for that, but George Washington didn’t create slavery,” he said.
“Macdonald created the system.”
As activists and members of the public crammed into the Toronto police auditorium and into an overflow room, the Toronto police board met Thursday amidst raucous chants and calls for board members to resign — including over the divisive question of police officer presence in some city high schools.
Toronto police’s three dozen School Resource Officers (SROs) are poised to return to class alongside students in the coming weeks, something vocal members of the public gallery denounced as the civilian board opted to keep cops in schools during a proposed yearlong review.
Police Chief Mark Saunders presented a plan to the board to have Ryerson University perform an $80,000 review of the nearly decade-old program, following recent heated controversy over the presence of armed, uniform officers in schools.
Despite a board motion in June to conduct a review by year’s end, Saunders’ proposed Ryerson review would not be completed for another academic school year.
Critics of the program, which was instituted after the 2007 school shooting death of Jordan Manners, say the presence of police in schools has a significant detrimental effect on students and must be halted immediately.
Opponents say racialized youth in particular feel harassed and surveilled, that the involvement of police creates a “school to prison pipeline,” and that undocumented students are threatened by officers inquiring about their citizenship status, in contravention of both Toronto school boards’ “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy.
Proponents, meanwhile, say the officers make a positive impact coaching basketball, co-ordinating extracurricular events, and preventing incidents between students.
Gita Madan, with the group Education Not Incarceration, criticized the police participation in a process intended to be arms-length. She noted Chief Mark Saunders, board chair Andy Pringle and another board member will form a steering committee to oversee the review.
“To be clear, this is not an independent review, as you state. This is police investigating police. And everyone in this room knows what happens when you have police evaluating police,” Madan said in a deputation to the board.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Saunders said the goal of the SRO program is relationship-building, not enforcement — “my men and women don’t go in there lurking the hallways, looking to apprehend people,” he said.
The chief said he would “refocus” with his officers before they go back into the schools next month — “all eyes are on them” — and stress that they should not be conducting immigration status checks, though he denied that has been happening outside of a criminal investigation.
Asked about the increasingly adversarial nature of the board meetings — recent months have seen frequent disruptions and shouting matches between the public and board members — Saunders said: “You know, just because you scream loud doesn’t mean you’re accurate.”
Mayor John Tory, too, commented on recent divisiveness.
“It is certainly an awkward position and one I find very puzzling when people will come to a meeting and absolutely no point of view, no perspective other than their own is acceptable to them. And they question the legitimacy of reviewing something — you should ‘just abolish it.’”
In the wake of raucous meetings, armed Toronto police officers have been stationed inside the police auditorium and outside its doors. As of last month, members of the public have also had to pass through security to enter police headquarters at 40 College St., undergoing a bag search and metal detector.
“What you are seeing in this room today,” activist and freelance journalist Desmond Cole said in a deputation to the board, “is the militarization of a public space so that you and I will not come here and talk about police in our schools.”
Some members of the public attending Thursday’s meeting held up signs saying “We’re here for Dafonte,” in reference to the severe beating of Black teen Dafonte Miller.
Miller, 19, suffered severe facial injuries after he was allegedly beaten by off-duty Toronto police officer Michael Theriault and his brother, Christian, during the December 2016 incident. The brothers are now charged with aggravated assault, assault with a weapon and public mischief.
The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), which probes deaths and serious injuries involving police, was not notified until months later — and then only by Miller’s lawyer — prompting accusations of a deliberate coverup by police to protect the Theriault brothers, whose father is a long-time Toronto police officer.
Saunders has denied allegations of a coverup.
Madan, one of the speakers against the SRO program, said what happened to Miller is “directly related to why we refuse the presence of police officers in our schools.”
“It is this context in which the SRO program exists. It does not exist in a bubble separate from what’s going on in the street.”
Wendy Gillis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
OTTAWA—Mike Duffy, the Senate and the RCMP are heading back to court with the senator seeking more than $7.8 million in damages stemming from the high-profile investigation, suspension and court case about his expenses.
Duffy filed a claim in Ontario Superior Court on Thursday that alleges his 2013 suspension by the Senate was unconstitutional and a violation of his charter rights and that the federal government is liable for the RCMP’s alleged negligence in its investigation.
The claim alleges the combined actions almost brought Duffy to the brink of death and inflicted irreparable harm to his reputation, which will forever be linked to the Senate spending scandal and the political coverup that accompanied questions about his spending.
In a statement, Duffy said he, his family, and other senators who were “unfairly targeted” have suffered stress and serious financial damage and the Senate has shown no interest in correcting what he called its unjustified actions against him.
“My civil action raises questions which go to the heart of our democracy,” the 71-year-old said in his statement.
“If this action succeeds in bringing charter protections to all who work on Parliament Hill, this will be my greatest contribution to public life.”
The Prince Edward Island senator landed in trouble in late 2012 when questions were first raised about housing expenses claimed against a home he had lived in for years before he was appointed to the Senate.
In October 2013, the Senate suspended him without pay for two years. Duffy’s claim calls the decision “an unprecedented abuse of power” taken in the absence of any criminal charges. Those charges wouldn’t arrive until July 2014, when the RCMP filed 31 counts of fraud, breach of trust and bribery against him.
In April 2016, Ontario Court Justice Charles Vaillancourt dismissed all the charges in a lengthy and dramatic ruling that said Duffy’s claims weren’t illegal,and that Duffy was forced to take a $90,000 payment from Nigel Wright, Stephen Harper’s then chief of staff, to pay off his politically problematic housing expenses, even though Duffy contended he had done nothing wrong.
References to Wright, Harper and the previous Conservative government pepper Duffy’s 50-page claim, but they are not targets of his lawsuit. Duffy’s lawyer Lawrence Greenspon said it was the decision of the Senate to suspend Duffy that caused the ultimate harm, even if the Prime Minister’s Office influenced the outcome.
“If the people of Canada want to put some blame for why this is happening, I think they should direct it to the top,” Greenspon said.
Greenspon said RCMP investigators failed to give Duffy a chance to respond to the allegations he faced and appeared to ignore evidence that would have proved his innocence. The claim also alleges that the force decided to go after Duffy because he was a higher-profile target than Wright and that charging Wright could have weakened the case against Duffy.
Greenspon said Duffy should have never been charged and that the actions of the RCMP and the Senate “ruined his life.”
Since then, the Senate has denied Duffy’s requests for help covering legal fees or refunding the approximately $300,000 in salary he lost during his suspension. The Senate also clawed back $16,995 from his salary for seven expense claims Senate officials decided after trial shouldn’t have approved in the first place.
“We have someone who has been through the public grinder and been through the criminal courts and despite all of that, the Senate still refuses to try in any way to make this man whole,” said Greenspon.
The Senate and government must now file a statement of defence to respond to Duffy’s claims as part of a legal process that could take from two to five years, depending on whether the case goes to trial or is settled out of court.
The Senate’s interim law clerk Jacqueline Kuehl said the upper chamber will not be commenting on the case until it is appropriate to do so.
“As this is a matter before the courts, we will respect the process,” she said.
The government has yet to respond to a request for comment.
For the second time in just over a month, the Toronto Police Service is under fire for failing to report a case of a seriously injured young Black man to Ontario’s police watchdog.
The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) announced Wednesday that it was charging Const. Joseph Dropuljic with assault in the case of a man in North York in November 2015. The man was 23 at the time. None of the allegations against Dropuljic has been proven in court. His first court appearance is Sept. 7.
The SIU also revealed it was only notified of the case nearly a year after the alleged assault — and not by police, despite the law being clear that police forces have a duty to report cases of serious injury to the SIU.
The young man is now 25 and asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals. He told reporters at a news conference on Thursday that he was getting into a taxi to visit a friend on a Saturday night when Toronto police officers dragged him out of the cab, kneed him in the back, beat him, illegally searched and groped him, and dragged him toward a police cruiser.
He said he lost consciousness at one point, and was left with a concussion and mental trauma.
The officers told him they were responding to a report of gunfire in the area, he said, but refused to take him up on his offer to follow him into his apartment building so he could retrieve his ID. He said they insisted on searching him for a firearm — he said Thursday he did not have one on him — without reading him his constitutional rights.
“It’s something I would say constantly plays over again in my mind,” he said, pausing at times. “It’s haunting . . . I just try to keep it all together, keep strong.”
Only when his mother came out, and eventually retrieved his ID, did the officers leave him alone, the man said. Although he was handcuffed, he was not charged with an offence. His mother called an ambulance and he was taken to the hospital.
In the months after the incident, the man said reports of Black men being beaten and killed by police made him want to be “proactive,” and he went to the African Canadian Legal Clinic to tell his story. They in turn reported it to another police oversight agency, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director.
The executive director of the legal clinic said Thursday that the OIPRD decided to notify the SIU, which has the power to lay criminal charges and investigates cases of police-involved death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault.
“When discussing the brutality that African Canadians experience at the hands of the Toronto Police Service, we are no longer alarmed, but angry,” clinic executive director Margaret Parsons said Thursday.
“The Black community is fed up with racial profiling, we’re fed up with police brutality, we’re fed up with police shootings, and we’re fed up with police violence.”
Dropuljic did not respond to a request for comment Thursday. The union president, Mike McCormack, said he had no comment.
The assault allegation follows charges of aggravated assault, assault with a weapon and public mischief laid by the SIU last month against Toronto police Const. Michael Theriault and his brother, Christian Theriault, in the beating of 19-year-old Dafonte Miller in Whitby in December 2016. Theriault was off-duty at the time.
Durham regional police had responded to the scene and ended up charging only Miller, but those charges were later withdrawn by the Crown. Like the Dropuljic case, the SIU was not notified immediately of Miller’s injuries, but only six months later when contacted by Miller’s lawyer.
That case sparked a back-and-forth between Toronto police and Durham police about the responsibility for SIU notification, and also raised questions about the duty to notify when the officer involved is off-duty.
It has led to ongoing internal reviews being conducted by both forces. The Toronto police review is being conducted by Waterloo regional police at the request of Chief Mark Saunders, while Durham’s police chief has not made clear if his force’s review will be made public.
Unlike the Miller case, the officers involved in the North York incident were on duty, and no other police force was involved. Saunders had little to say about it Thursday after a police services board meeting, where many members of the public attended with signs in support of Miller.
“You're talking about allegations right now and here you go with the court of public opinion again,” Saunders told reporters. “This officer is given his opportunity to be heard in the courtroom, with evidence, and in order for the integrity of that case to go before the courts properly, I have to be cautious about what I say at this point in time.”
He went on to say that “there are moments when things may come across as needing to be explored better,” and said this case is an example where a police oversight body “has obviously exercised their rights and authorities.”
“This young man was not known to the police, and had no criminal antecedents,” said clinic staff lawyer, Lavinia Latham.
The man “100 per cent believes” that he was racially profiled and told reporters he has been carded several times in the past — referring to the police practice of stopping individuals and asking them for their information without charging them with a crime, and which data show disproportionately affects Black men.
He said he was never told the reason for the officers’ attempt at arresting him that night in 2015, and that he was called a “f------ idiot” and told to “shut the f--- up” when he asked, according to a summary of the allegations provided by the clinic.
When his mother arrived with his passport, he said, Dropuljic searched his name in a police database, and when nothing came up, the man said he was told “Get the f--- out of my car,” according to the summary.
After the ambulance arrived, the man said he noticed the police officers going into the security office of his apartment building where the video surveillance is kept.
“It’s a feeling you can’t explain, I would say helplessness,” the man told reporters of his encounter with police. “I couldn’t do anything to stop what was transpiring. . . . Since that day, I can’t explain the emotions. A lot of sadness, a lot of pain.”
With files from Wendy Gillis
With files from Wendy Gillis
A man in his 20s is dead following a shooting at an apartment complex in Mississauga Saturday morning as police continue to hunt for two suspects.
Peel Regional officers responded to the scene near The Collegeway and Ridgeway Dr. shortly before 8 a.m. with several units, including police dogs, where they found one victim suffering from gunshot wounds.
He was pronounced dead at the scene by Emergency Medical Services.
Const. Bancroft Wright said police are now looking for two suspects — a man and a woman — last seen in a white SUV heading east on The Collegeway.
The victim was not the only one in the immediate area when the man was shot, but no one else was hurt, said Wright. Those witnesses are being interviewed.
Officers are working on contacting the victim’s next-of-kin before releasing his name.
Wright said it is “tough to say,” if the shooting was targeted, or if the victim and suspects knew each other, but “it doesn’t appear to be a random-type act.”
Incidents like these are “something that shakes the community deeply,” said Wright, adding he is very familiar with the area and has personally attended back-to-school festivities they hold around this time of year in the complex.
Despite the shooting, he said improvements are being made in the community to “make the environment better for everyone.”
“It’s been a 10-fold increase as far as residents coming out and sharing information with the community and with the police,” Wright said. “I can speak from my own testimony that I’ve seen the difference in the community the last, say, six to seven years.”
Homicide officers are now investigating the fatal shooting. Anyone with information is asked to contact police.