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    LAKE CHARLES, LA.—A weakened Tropical Storm Harvey made landfall in southwest Louisiana early Wednesday, leaving residents bracing for more wind, rain and possible tornadoes and hoping water would stay out of their sandbagged homes.

    The storm came ashore before dawn just west of Cameron, Louisiana, bringing maximum sustained winds near 72 kph, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. Harvey had lingered over Texas for days before meandering back into the Gulf of Mexico.

    Forecasters said there was a risk of tornadoes across a large part of the South as Harvey trudged northeast toward northern Louisiana. The national Storm Prediction Center said a few tornadoes were expected to develop Wednesday in northeast Louisiana and across southern and central portions of Mississippi. Tornadoes would also be possible across parts of southern and central Alabama, near the eastern edge of Harvey’s rain bands. At least five tornadoes from Harvey have been confirmed so far in Louisiana, although they have caused little damage.

    Another 2.5 centimetres to 7.5 centimetres of rain could fall in western Louisiana, with up to 15 centimetres in spots, with the heaviest rain inland.

    “We are starting to get down to the end of the tunnel of all this rain,” Meteorologist Roger Erickson said.

    Harvey appeared to have produced little damage overnight in southwest Louisiana, where hundreds of people were rescued from floodwaters earlier this week, officials said. Harvey’s heaviest rains continued to stay west of Louisiana, just across the Sabine River in Texas. Lake Charles recorded less than 2.5 centimetres of rain overnight.

    “We’re not out of the woods totally, but we’re looking much better,” Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso said

    The heaviest overnight rain bands also spared New Orleans, where sun broke through the clouds after daybreak and schools reopened Wednesday after closing a day earlier.

    Read more:

    Harvey causes chaos in Houston, 6 family members feared dead after van swept away

    Rangers, Astros feud over Harvey-related schedule change

    Harvey now threatens Louisiana — 12 years to the day after Hurricane Katrina

    Mayor Mitch Landrieu had urged New Orleans residents to stay home Tuesday because of the threat of potential high water. Some neighbourhoods flooded earlier this month during a deluge that exposed problems with the city’s pump and drainage system. On Tuesday, rains flooded a few of the city’s streets, but not to the same extent.

    Erickson, the Lake Charles meteorologist, warned that some coastal rivers won’t be able to drain effectively because Harvey’s winds are pushing in storm surge, aggravating flooding in areas already drenched by more than 51 centimetres of rain. Gusts up to 65 kph are predicted for coastal areas, although Erickson said Harvey would weaken throughout the day.

    Cameron Parish Administrator Ryan Bourriaque said storm surge apparently caused little damage along Louisiana’s southwestern coast, although some water remained on roadways in parts of the parish. He said officials are likely to consider lifting a mandatory evacuation order for the southern end of the parish once damage assessments are complete.

    “We acknowledge that we are certainly much better off that we could have been at this point,” Bourriaque said.

    State offices in 28 parishes and most Baton Rouge area schools won’t open Wednesday in anticipation of possible severe weather. Gov. John Bel Edwards urged people to remain alert but said the state is responding well to less severe conditions in its own borders.

    “You never know what Mother Nature is going to throw at us, but with the people in this room, I’m confident we can handle it,” he told local and state officials during a visit Tuesday to Lake Charles, which is near the Texas border.

    Edwards said Louisiana also has offered to shelter storm victims from Texas. He said he expects Texas officials to decide within 48 hours whether to accept the offer.

    U.S. President Donald Trump answered Harvey’s wrath by offering in-person assurances to those in the storm zone that his administration will work tirelessly to help the region recover from the massive flooding and storm-inflicted destruction.

    “We are going to get you back and operating immediately,” Trump told an impromptu crowd that gathered outside a Corpus Christi fire station about 30 miles from where the storm made landfall Friday.

    The president kept his distance from the epicentre of the damage in Houston to avoid disrupting recovery operations. But he plans to return to the region Saturday to survey the damage and meet with some of the storm’s victims, said Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

    Harvey’s devastating flooding brought back tough memories in New Orleans as Tuesday marked the 12th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Mayor Mitch Landrieu opened his Tuesday news conference with a moment of silence for Katrina victims and words of support for Harvey’s victims in Texas and southwest Louisiana.

    “We’ve got to save our house,” New Orleans resident Israel Freeman said as he loaded sandbags for his mother’s home into his Cadillac. “She already went through Katrina. She built her house back up. We just had a flood about two, three weeks ago. She just recovered from that.”

    Bradley Morris lives in a ground-level house in New Orleans and was “preparing for the worst.”

    “There’s plenty of puddling and stuff already,” he said, “so I just assume that we’re probably going to get a taste of what we had a couple weeks ago.”

    About 500 people were evacuated in southwest Louisiana’s most populous parish early Tuesday, as a heavy band of rain pushed waterways out of their banks, Calcasieu Parish spokesman Tom Hoefer said. He said as many as 5,000 parish residents were affected by the flooding, but not all of those people have flooded homes. Some are just cut off by flooded roads.

    Family members and authorities in Texas have reported at least 18 deaths from the storm.

    Houston Police confirmed Tuesday a 34-year department veteran died while driving through floodwaters to aid in the response to Hurricane Harvey.

    Sgt. Steve Perez, 60, died late Sunday or early Monday, police chief Art Acevedo said during a news conference Tuesday.

    “He was a sweet and gentle public servant,” Acevedo told reporters.

    Authorities said Perez left his home at 4 a.m. Sunday during heavy rain. Officials said he spent more than two hours trying to get to his command post in the downtown area, but could not find a path.

    As was protocol, he informed his chain of command and tried to get to the closest command post in Kingwood, but got caught in floodwaters under an overpass.

    Acevedo said while the Kingwood post was conducting roll call Monday, they noticed Perez was not present. Commanders tried to get in contact with him, but were unsuccessful. They contacted his wife, who said she hadn’t seen him since Sunday.

    On Tuesday morning, divers recovered Perez’s body in 16 feet of water.

    No Harvey-related deaths were immediately reported in Louisiana, according to a spokesman for Edwards.

    Evacuations continued Tuesday in some rural areas outside Lake Charles, with authorities working to empty a flood-prone subdivision near the town of Iowa. Officials in Acadia Parish advised residents near the Mermentau River and Bayou Nezpique to leave.

    Family members and authorities in Texas have reported at least 18 deaths from the storm, and 13,000 people have been rescued in the Houston area and surrounding cities and counties in Southeast Texas. Houston’s largest shelter housed 10,000 of the displaced — twice its initial intended capacity. Authorities expected the human toll to continue to mount, both in deaths and in the tens of thousands of people made homeless by the catastrophic storm that is now the heaviest tropical downpour in U.S. history.

    No Harvey-related deaths were immediately reported in Louisiana, according to a spokesman for Edwards.

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    It was an icy day in March 2015 when two 10-year-olds at a Toronto Catholic school engaged in a pushing prank that went wrong. Their shoves sent a classmate toppling to the ground, causing him to break his arm.

    Two years later, the two children have been named by the school board’s insurer in a lawsuit arising from the incident, raising alarm about legal liability of students involved in schoolyard skirmishes.

    In the wake of the case, trustee Mike Del Grande wants the Toronto Catholic District School Board to advise parents of the risks of lawsuits and to make sure they have liability coverage as part of their property insurance.

    “This is the litigious atmosphere we’re in now and this is a warning that you should check your insurance policies,” he told the Star.

    “This stuff can go on and it’s under the radar and nobody knows about it until they’re in it.”

    Standard policies for homeowners, condo dwellers and tenants typically include liability coverage for policyholders and their children.

    It’s a sobering example of what can happen, even between children who are classmates and attend each other’s birthday parties, said Del Grande, who learned about the situation from the parents of the two children named in the lawsuit.

    “It’s ludicrous to put parents in that type of position. It’s unfair, it’s unconscionable,” he said.

    Parents of both children, a boy and a girl who were in Grade 5 at the time and are starting Grade 8 next week, confirmed details in conversations with the Star on condition that neither they, their children or the school were named.

    One of the children was interviewed by his family’s insurance adjustor this summer after notice that the school board’s insurer had filed a cross-claim for damages against both kids. He was asked to recall events from more than two years earlier.

    The other mother said her family does not have liability coverage.

    Experts in insurance law say although the action may seem shocking to many, naming minors in lawsuits is not uncommon and is usually aimed at triggering a parent’s insurance policy to cover costs of a settlement.

    The statement of claim in this case alleges that on that March day in 2015, the two kids had been going around the schoolyard pushing other children. When they approached the boy, he told them he didn’t want to be pushed, but they did it anyway. The fall broke his upper arm.

    In an interview, the mother of one of the kids described it as “a game” among students in which one person crouches behind the victim, and another one pushes them, sending them falling backward. Both parents said their children had not intended to cause harm. When it became apparent the boy was hurt, the boy involved in the pushing helped take him to the school office, his mother said.

    They found out the next day the boy’s arm was broken.

    The parents were contacted by police after the incident was reported, but no charges were laid, said one of the mothers. The injured child left the school before the end of the year, she added.

    Two months after the incident, she said her family received a series of lawyer’s letters indicating her son would be held responsible, and suggesting they advise their insurer.

    The injured boy suffered “great pain” as a result of the broken arm, while his mother was forced to take time off work and pay for child care and medical expenses as a result of the injury, lawyer Jane Lo of Toronto firm Klaiman Edmonds wrote in one letter on behalf of her client.

    “I have instructions to resolve this dispute in the amount of $5,000 in exchange for not naming (the boy) in the action,” Lo wrote in another letter, dated June 1, 2015. “My client will be willing to provide a release for that purpose.”

    The family did not respond to that proposal or follow-up letters, including one in July that warned if they failed to do so “we may commence a lawsuit without notice to you.”

    When they heard nothing further, they figured the matter had “blown over,” said his mother.

    Asked about the letters on Tuesday, Lo told the Star her client “felt that there was liability on the part of the children and we wanted to see if there could be a quick resolution. Unfortunately they didn’t accept the offer and we had to continue on with the action.”

    She declined to comment further.

    The families of the two pupils said they were not informed when, eight months after the incident, in November 2015, the injured child and his mother filed legal action against the school, its principal and the Catholic board, seeking a total of $600,000 in general and special damages, plus costs.

    They said they didn’t find out there was a lawsuit until March 2017, after receiving notice that the injured boy and his mother were adding the names of the other two pupils, now 12 and 13, to the lawsuit.

    However, last week, they were informed of another change — that their names were being removed from the plaintiffs’ legal action.

    “The school board hasn’t communicated anything to us,” said one mother. “We’ve never been contacted, we’ve been left on our own to deal with it.”

    The families feel “we’ve been thrown under the bus,” she said.

    In June, the Ontario School Boards’ Insurance Exchange, which provides coverage for schools and is acting for the Catholic board, filed a cross-claim against the two children, arguing the school, principal and board should not be held responsible and the children should be accountable for all damages because they broke the rules.

    The cross-claim argues the students were “negligent” and did not respect the school’s “hands off” policy.

    Their statement of defence argues the alleged injuries and damages outlined in the suit are “exaggerated, remote and not recoverable at law.”

    Boyd Critoph, a lawyer representing the school board insurance exchange, refused to comment.

    “I am advised that our general policy is not to discuss issues relating to any of our ongoing cases with the media,” he said in an email.

    A Catholic board spokesperson, John Yan, said the board “is aware of the situation” but no one can comment on a case that’s before the courts.

    The insurance exchange, a non-profit co-operative, insures most school boards in the province with one notable exception. The Toronto District School Board left the carrier in January, citing cost savings, and now has policies with various carriers through broker Aon Canada.

    Last year the insurance exchange collected details about more than 85,000 incidents involving injuries and in turn potential liability, according to the website. Incident reports are filed when students, volunteers, visitors or other non-employees are injured on school premises or while under school supervision.

    Insurance lawyers say while age 10 is unusually young for such a lawsuit, suing a minor is not unusual and cross-claims are a tactic to spread liability and costs among defendants.

    One case that named a 7-year-old who hit another student in the head in a Toronto schoolyard in 1998 dragged on for 15 years before the injured child was awarded more than $4 million in damages.

    Aviva Canada sees “a handful to two handfuls” of lawsuits involving minors each year, which tend to arise from such situations as a hockey fight or prolonged bullying, says chief underwriter Mark Warnquist.

    Warnquist, who is also a lawyer, stressed he isn’t familiar with the Catholic board case and could not comment on it directly.

    “It’s unfortunate but what happens here is only the lawyers win,” Warnquist said.

    Catholic trustees last week discussed Del Grande’s motion to raise the issue publicly at their September board meeting, said chair Angela Kennedy.

    But the notice of motion was raised in private sessions rather than during the public part of their August meeting and is currently scheduled for their private session next month, she said. That was on the advice of board counsel because legal action is underway, she added.

    But Del Grande wants the issue aired in a public forum because of the implications for schools and families.

    “This whole thing seems to be operating in a climate of fear,” he said. He said despite supervision and the best intentions, kids do reckless things and injuries happen. “Where does it end?”

    Warnquist of Aviva says parents shouldn’t necessarily be alarmed.

    “But they should know that this scenario just highlights the kinds of things that can happen in today’s society and that’s one of the reasons you buy insurance.”

    Ontario school boards sell Student Accident Insurance, but it only covers injuries for the child who’s insured, not if they hurt someone else.

    Standard policies for homeowners and tenants typically include liability coverage of $1 million to $2 million for policyholders, their kids and other household members, he said.

    Coverage includes the cost of hiring a lawyer, which can surpass the cost of a settlement or judgment, and can run into six figures “even if you’re in the right.”

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    Math test scores among public elementary school students in Ontario have not improved — in some cases they have decreased slightly — despite a $60-million “renewed math strategy” the government had hoped would help solve the problem.

    The latest results of the province’s standardized tests — conducted by the Education Quality and Accountability Office — show that only half of Grade 6 students met the provincial standard in math, unchanged from the previous year. In 2013, about 57 per cent of Grade 6 students met the standard.

    And among Grade 3 students, 62 per cent met the provincial standard in math, a one-percentage-point decrease since last year.

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    Norah Marsh, the CEO of EQAO, said math scores remain a concern and digging deeper reveals one area the province would like to focus on.

    “For the students who met the standard in Grade 3, not as many are meeting it in Grade 6,” she said. “Certainly, that’s an area of focus as far as intervention between Grades 3 and 6 so they can achieve better results.”

    By Grade 9 the gap widens between the math haves and have-nots. In the math academic stream, 83 per cent of students met the provincial standard, the same score as last year, but only 44 per cent met the standard in the applied math course, a dip of one percentage point. Academic courses focus more on abstract applications of concepts, while applied courses focus on the practical.

    “It’s disappointing,” said Mary Reid, a math education professor with the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

    “The ministry needs to work towards eliminating the streaming of Grade 9 students this early on. In the spring of Grade 8 students are making decisions about being university bound or non-university bound and they’re only 13 years old.”

    Reid, Marsh and Cathy Bruce, the dean of education at Trent University, all agreed one area of focus should be what’s known as self-efficacy — a student’s belief they are good at math. A survey of students as part of the standardized testing showed that only 56 per cent of Grade 3 students and 53 per cent of Grade 6 students believe they are good at math.

    “We need students to actually believe they are good in math,” Bruce said. “It’s an excellent predictor of student achievement.”

    In response to math scores last year, the province announced a new math strategy. The $60-million three-year plan puts an average of 60 minutes per day of “protected math learning time” in the curriculum for Grades 1 through 8. It also designates up to three “math lead teachers” in all elementary schools and a dedicated math professional development day.

    On Wednesday, Education Minister Mitzie Hunter called for patience with the program after its first year.

    “We want to give it time to be able to see the impacts and the assessments on students,” Hunter told The Canadian Press. “But it will focus on math instruction and different types of ways of teaching math.”

    She admitted, however, that she’d been hoping to see some improvement in the latest math scores.

    Reid is calling for an overhaul of the curriculum and to make math proficiency tests mandatory for elementary school teachers, as it is for French and English.

    Her research shows elementary school teachers in Ontario struggle with basic math skills that leads to “math anxiety” that affects their teaching, and, thus, the students’ learning.

    Yet it’s not all doom and gloom, according to Bruce, who believes the province’s new strategy is starting to work.

    “Now we’re flatlining and that’s a really good thing,” Bruce said. “I wouldn’t have expected to see a big jump all of a sudden — that’s not how it works. Math is a complex area of the curriculum and it’s complex both for teachers teaching it and students learning it.”

    Meanwhile, writing levels among Grade 3 and Grade 6 students declined by one percentage point since last year to 73 per cent and 79 per cent respectively. But over five years the numbers are worse, showing a drop in reading standards by four percentage points in Grade 3 and three percentage points in Grade 6.

    The EQAO’s report, released Wednesday, said reading has improved slightly for Grade 3 students, with 74 per cent meeting the provincial standard, and remained steady for Grade 6 students, with 81 per cent meeting the provincial standard.

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    HOUSTON—Harvey’s floodwaters started dropping across the Houston area and the sun peeked through the clouds Wednesday in a glimmer of hope for the besieged city. But the crisis was far from over, with the storm doubling back toward land and battering communities near the Texas-Louisiana line.

    The storm, meanwhile, began to give up some of its dead.

    The confirmed death toll from the hurricane climbed to 21 after a woman’s body was discovered afloat in Beaumont. Also, the bodies of six family members, including four children, were pulled from a van that had been swept off a Houston bridge into a bayou, and authorities were investigating 17 more deaths to determine whether they were storm-related.

    “Unfortunately, it seems that our worst thoughts are being realized,” Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said after the van was found in 10 feet of muddy water.

    While conditions in Houston appeared to improve, the disaster took a turn for the worse east of the city, close to the Louisiana line.

    Beaumont and Port Arthur, Texas, struggled with rising floodwaters and worked to evacuate residents after Harvey completed a U-turn and rolled ashore early Wednesday for the second time in six days, hitting southwestern Louisiana as a tropical storm with heavy rain and winds of 72 km/h.

    For much of the rest of the Houston area, forecasters said the rain is pretty much over.

    “We have good news,” said Jeff Lindner, a meteorologist with the Harris County Flood Control District. “The water levels are going down.”

    Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said the city’s two major airports would be up and running again in the afternoon. Farther south, the ports of Corpus Christi and Brownsville reopened.

    Nevertheless, many thousands of homes in and around the nation’s fourth-largest city still were under water from the record-breaking deluge of 4 feet of rain and could stay that way for days or weeks.

    Read more: FEMA director says Harvey is probably the worst disaster in Texas history

    Tropical storm Harvey makes landfall again, this time in Louisiana

    Harvey causes chaos in Houston, 6 family members feared dead after van swept away

    Shivering girl, 3, found clinging to drowned mom in Harvey aftermath

    Officials said 911 call centres in the Houston area were still getting more than 1,000 calls an hour from people seeking help.

    About 10,000 more National Guard troops are being deployed to Texas, bringing the total to 24,000, Gov. Greg Abbot said.

    The scale of the catastrophe in Texas began to come into sharper focus: More than 1,000 homes were destroyed and close to 50,000 damaged, and over 32,000 people were in shelters across the state, emergency officials reported.

    “This is going to be an incredibly large disaster,” Brock Long, chief of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said in Washington. “We’re not going to know the true cost for years to come. ... But it’s going to be huge.”

    Maricedalia Osorio, who is living the U.S. without permission, was staying with her seven children at a shelter set up at Houston’s NRG Center. She went there only after Houston authorities assured her she would not be asked about her immigration status.

    “They know that we have no house,” she said of her children, who were waiting in line to eat. “I said, ‘We are OK, we are together. We are going to get back everything.’”

    Authorities expect the death toll to rise as the waters recede and bodies are found in cars and homes.

    The confirmed deaths from the storm include a man who tried to swim across a flooded road, a former football and track coach in suburban Houston, and a woman who died after she and her young daughter were swept into a drainage canal in Beaumont. The child was rescued clinging to her dead mother, authorities said.

    Harvey itself was “spinning down” and expected to weaken Wednesday into a tropical depression, meaning winds of 61 km/h or less. Forecasters said the remnants will move from Louisiana into Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky in the next few days, with flooding possible there.

    “Once we get this thing inland during the day, it’s the end of the beginning,” National Hurricane Center meteorologist Dennis Feltgen said. “Texas is going to get a chance to finally dry out as this system pulls out.”

    When Harvey paid its return visit to land overnight, it hit near Cameron, Louisiana, about 72 kilometres from Port Arthur.

    Port Arthur found itself increasingly isolated as floodwaters swamped most major roads out of the city and spilled into a storm shelter with about 100 people inside. Motiva Enterprises closed its Port Arthur refinery, the largest in the nation, because of flooding.

    Port Arthur Mayor Derrick Freeman posted on his Facebook page: “city is underwater right now but we are coming!” He urged residents to move to higher ground and avoid getting trapped in attics.

    More than 500 people — along with dozens of dogs, cats, a lizard and a monkey — took shelter at the Max Bowl bowling alley in Port Arthur after firefighters popped the lock in the middle of the night, said the establishment’s general manager, Jeff Tolliver.

    “The monkey was a little surprising, but we’re trying to help,” he said.

    In Orange, Texas, about 48 kilometres east of Beaumont, residents of a retirement home surrounded by thigh-deep water were rescued by National Guardsmen and wildlife officers, who carried them from the second floor and put them aboard an airboat.

    Harvey initially came ashore as a Category 4 hurricane in Texas on Friday, then went back out to sea and lingered off the coast as a tropical storm for days, inundating flood-prone Houston.

    Harvey’s five straight days of rain totalled close to 132 centimetres, the heaviest tropical downpour ever recorded in the continental U.S.

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    Psssst! Want a smart thermostat . . . for free?

    Ontario is offering them, installed, also at no cost, along with free home energy reviews to 100,000 households in a bid to help cut greenhouse gas emissions.

    Environment and Climate Change Minister Chris Ballard unveiled the $40-million program Wednesday through the new Green Ontario Fund, which was launched with $377 million in revenues from the province’s cap-and-trade program.

    Aside from saving on the retail cost of a smart thermostat — this falls within the range of $200 to $350, depending on the model — Ballard said parents will want to get in on this to cut their heating and air-conditioning costs, which kids often have a hand in increasing.

    There’s also the pure joy of putting one over on their offspring.

    “I’ve had one for about three years, and it’s really cool,” he told a news conference at the Artscape Wychwood Barns on Christie St.

    “My kids would come home on a hot, sweaty spring day, and, you’ll note, there’s more and more hot, sweaty spring days.

    “I’d be at work and they’d immediately crank up the air-conditioning,” Ballard added.

    “I would get a notification on my smartphone about some activity going on and I would quietly dial back down the air-conditioning numbers. No fuss, no muss. There was no arguing. There were no problems. They didn’t even know what had gone on.”

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    The free smart thermostats and installation will “help (households) reduce their carbon pollution and save money,” Ballard said.

    Homeowners and tenants can register now for the program, which will begin in the fall after more details have been worked out. They can do this online on a first-come, first-served basis.

    Ministry officials said households can save as much as 15 per cent on their energy bills by adjusting the temperature a couple of degrees when no one is home.

    “When you’re saving energy, you’re saving money,” said Green Ontario Fund chairman Parminder Sandhu.

    The program is open to people in detached and semi-detached homes, townhomes or row homes.

    Residents of multi-unit buildings do not qualify.

    Ballard said the free home-energy reviews will provide “personalized suggestions to help save money and help fight climate change.”

    He also advised Ontarians to go to the web site to learn details of other programs available to help save money and energy, and promised more programs to come, once the thermostat offer is underway.

    “There will be larger-ticket initiatives coming forward.”

    Sandu said the government is still making arrangements to purchase and hire installers for the 100,000 smart thermostats.

    “This is a big job.”

    The plan now is to allow homeowners to pick, which model they prefer, Sandu said.

    (Products from Nest, Honeywell and Toronto-based Ecobee are available.)

    Ontario held the second auction in its cap-and-trade program in June in a sell-out of emission allowances. It raised $504 million. An earlier auction raised $472 million.

    Under the cap-and-trade, there is a limit or cap on the amount of pollution companies in certain industries can release into the air, and they must purchase allowances if they exceed those limits.

    This can be done through auctions or from companies that produce less pollution than their limit.

    The idea is to create a financial incentive for businesses to be cleaner.

    In total, cap-and-trade is forecast to add $1.8 billion to government coffers this fiscal year.

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    With students headed back to classrooms, police are stressing school safety even more after a school bus driver was charged with impaired driving after a bus crashed with 20 students on board.

    York Regional Police said the 54-year-old driver struck another vehicle near Enterprise Blvd. and Warden Ave. around 4 p.m. on Tuesday. Police said the bus was carrying 20 students from Bill Crothers Secondary School, which is located minutes away from where the collision occurred.

    According to police, the driver of the vehicle that was hit said “the school bus struck her car then kept bumping into it.” There were no injuries.

    When police arrived on scene they noticed signs of impairment and placed the school bus driver under arrest. She was then brought to district headquarters where she refused to undergo a breath test.

    The 54-year-old woman from Georgina has been charged with refusal to provide a breath sample and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle.

    “Any case of impaired driving is serious and now we’re at that time of the year when we’re talking about school safety. And with this case of the school bus driver—I mean I can say that with all the impaired driving cases I’ve looked at, nothing surprises me anymore,” said Const. Andy Pattenden.

    The driver was hired by York Region District School Board from Stock Transportation, who conducts background checks and medical exams of all drivers.

    “The driver has been immediately terminated and will be ineligible for future hire by our company,” said Stock Transportation in a statement.

    “The safety of the students we transport is our top priority. Without exception, our drivers are required to abide by our company drug and alcohol policy.”

    Kathryn Wallace, interim director of education at the board, said in a statement that the board will be investigating the incident and following up with Stock Transportation, the vendor which Wallace confirmed was responsible for the placement of the driver.

    “We will also conduct a review of the process undertaken to place this driver, to ensure an incident like this does not happen again. We have high expectations for our employees and contracted vendors. This time these expectations were not met,” the statement read.

    Stock Transportation conducts background checks and medical exams of all drivers. The background checks are then approved by Student Transportation Services in an annual audit, said board spokesperson Licinio Miguelo.

    Pattenden said he will not be releasing the school bus driver’s name as this is regular practice of York Regional Police regarding impaired driving charges.

    “In some of these cases it’s embarrassing for them and they’re shamed by their family and their community.”

    Pattenden said 20 impaired driving charges are laid every week.

    In June York Regional Police launched a summer impaired driving prevention campaign called Not One More.

    “Impaired driving on our roads in York Region is such a huge problem year after year after year,” said Pattenden.

    The driver will appear in court in Newmarket on Sept. 30.

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    A man was acquitted of a drunk driving charge after a Newmarket judge found his rights were violated when police allowed a TV camera operator to film him giving breath samples and speaking to a lawyer on the phone.

    Ontario Court Justice David Rose wrote that there was no evidence to suggest that York Regional Police placed any restrictions on a Global News TV crew on the night in question in 2016 after approving their presence at a RIDE check in Richmond Hill.

    He concluded that Kunal Gautam’s rights to counsel and to be free from unreasonable search and seizure were infringed, threw out the breath samples and acquitted him.

    “What is regrettable in this case is that otherwise reliable evidence of blood alcohol content of a motorist is excluded because York Regional Police saw apparent wisdom in giving Global News access to the RIDE truck (where the breath samples were taken),” Rose wrote in a decision released last week.

    “An effort to publicize a fairly routine police alcohol driving interdiction program will result in an acquittal. The irony is not lost on me.”

    York Regional Police have often stated that the region has a serious problem with drinking and driving. It was something that was also raised by the Crown attorney in the hearing before Rose. Police reported there were more than 1,200 drunk driving incidents in 2016.

    “Despite our efforts, the problem of impaired driving continues to exist as you can see in the impaired driving media releases that we issue on a weekly basis,” said York police spokesman Const. Andy Pattenden.

    The issue was put front and centre when a drunken Marco Muzzo slammed into another vehicle in Vaughan and killed three children and their grandfather. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison in March 2016, about two months before Gautam was arrested.

    Gautam had provided two breath samples showing results of 152 and 146 mg of alcohol in 100 mL of blood — nearly twice the legal limit.

    The judge wrote that the rights violations were “particularly serious” because the order to allow Global News to film came from an unknown police official.

    “What aggravates the seriousness of the Charter violations in this case is that there appears to have been no input from the actual officers on scene about what might happen if a TV news crew were allowed inside the RIDE truck,” Rose wrote.

    “The presence of Global News that night appears to have been an order ‘from on high.’ No witness personally took responsibility in the evidence to explain the rationale for Global TV being in the RIDE truck.”

    A segment that aired in May 2016 shows Gautam being taken into the RIDE truck by police, providing breath samples, and telling officers he only had one drink. He then spoke briefly to a Global reporter afterward.

    The segment caused him embarrassment at work, and came as a surprise to some of the officers who worked the RIDE check that evening, Rose wrote in his ruling.

    Pattenden, the police spokesman, told the Star that the ride-along was set up by the corporate communications department to demonstrate how serious a problem drunk driving continues to be. He did not say who gave approval.

    “The case that you specifically mentioned was dealt with by the courts and we respect the decision,” he wrote in an email. “Since that time, corporate communications has made changes in policy to ensure media is more closely supervised while on ride-alongs.”

    A Global executive said in a brief statement to the Star that Global’s journalists are trained to balance the rights of accused persons with the public’s right to know.

    “We operated in plain sight with police authorization, keeping as low a profile as the environment allowed,” said Ron Waksman, vice-president of digital and editorial standards and practices for Global News and Corus Radio.

    Gautam testified that while he spoke to duty counsel — the free legal advice hotline — in a phone booth in the RIDE truck, the Global camera operator placed his camera at the window looking into the booth.

    Rose wrote that he found Gautam’s testimony to be truthful, and that he didn’t feel comfortable asking the lawyer questions because of the camera. His rights to counsel were therefore violated, the judge found.

    He also concluded that his right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure had been infringed because he had a privacy interest while he was in the breath room area of the RIDE truck.

    “Justice Rose did an excellent analysis and decided it was in the long-term best interests of justice to exclude the evidence,” said Gautam’s lawyer, Ken Anders.

    0 0

    Kathleen Wynne doesn’t want to be your friend; she just wants to be your premier.

    Languishing at historic lows in personal popularity polls, even as her government’s initiatives appear to be gaining traction, Wynne says Ontarians don’t have to love her when they vote on June 7, 2018.

    Asked earlier this week by CP24’s Cristina Tenaglia why Liberal policies are popular while polling suggests she, herself, is not, the premier smiled gamely and interjected.

    “You know what, you’re going to have to determine what it says about me,” Wynne said at a campaign-style event Tuesday at the Berkeley Street Theatre.

    “Here’s what I do in the morning: I get up. I read the newspaper. I listen to you guys. I go for my run and then I come to work and I do my job,” she said.

    “And my job is about creating a fair Ontario, creating an Ontario where kids and adults, seniors have the opportunity to live a life that is the very best life that they can live.

    “That’s my job.”

    That moment of candour at first seemed as though it may have been a slip of the tongue.

    But Wynne and her aides have retweeted video of her response to Tenaglia to tens of thousands of people on Twitter and posted it on Facebook.

    The Liberals have done so because they want voters to be thinking about policies, not personalities, when casting their ballots nine months from now.

    “Whether people like me or not, I’m really glad that people think that free tuition for kids who live in low income families is a good idea,” said Wynne.

    “I’m really glad that people think that having free medications for kids from zero to 25 is a really good idea,” she said.

    “I’m really glad that people think that increasing the minimum wage is a good idea, and that that makes for a fairer Ontario.”

    The premier, who trails both Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath in personal approval ratings, indicated she has no illusions about winning a popularity contest.

    “The people who love me are my family and I go home to them.

    “My job is to make sure that the people of Ontario have the best opportunity possible.”

    Internal government polling obtained by The Canadian Press through a Freedom of Information request suggests the Liberals are rebounding thanks in part to support for increasing the $11.40 hourly minimum wage to $14 in January and $15 in 2019.

    Last month, 71 per cent of respondents said they supported the policy, which is opposed by many business groups concerned about labour costs.

    “Increasing the minimum wage, along with protection for temporary and part-time workers, serves to increase confidence in government even more than increases to healthcare spending,” the Gandalf Group pollsters wrote.

    Gandalf, which is headed by David Herle, Wynne’s campaign manager, also found Ontarians like the 25 per cent cut in consumer electricity rates, which is being paid for through increased borrowing.

    One insider confided Wednesday that Liberals still have an uphill climb to ensure the premier, herself, is seen as the face of popular policies.

    “It’s great that people like the minimum wage, the hydro plan, and pharmacare, but we aren’t yet getting much credit for it,” said the senior official, speaking on condition of anonymity in order to discuss internal strategy.

    “We still have a long way to go.”

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    DALLAS—Authorities found a shivering 3-year-old clinging to the body of her drowned mother in a rain-swollen canal in Southeast Texas after the woman tried to carry her child to safety from Harvey’s floods.

    Beaumont police on Wednesday identified the mother as 41-year-old Colette Sulcer and said her daughter was being treated for hypothermia but doing well.

    Capt. Brad Penisson of the fire-rescue department in Beaumont said the woman’s vehicle got stuck Tuesday afternoon in the flooded parking lot of an office park just off Interstate 10. Squalls from Harvey were pounding Beaumont with up to 5 centimetres of rain an hour at the time with 60 kph gusts, according to the National Weather Service.

    Penisson said a witness saw the woman take her daughter and try to walk to safety when the swift current of a flooded drainage canal next to the parking lot swept them both away.

    Read more: On Houston roads turned rivers, volunteer rescuers improvise to save the trapped and desperate

    Floodwaters drop across much of Houston as death toll hits 20

    The child was holding onto the floating woman when a police and fire-rescue team in a boat caught up to them a half-mile downstream, he said. Rescuers pulled them into the boat just before they would have gone under a railroad trestle where the water was so high that the boat could not have followed. First responders lifted the child from her mother’s body and tried to revive the woman, but she never regained consciousness.

    The child was taken to the Christus St. Elizabeth Hospital in Beaumont, and was expected to be released Wednesday. Officer Carol Riley said the girl was doing “very well” and was chatty.

    “Everybody at the hospital and the officers just fell in love with her,” Riley said.

    At least 20 people have been killed by Harvey since Friday, when it made landfall in Texas as a Category 4 hurricane. Harvey has since weakened to a tropical storm.

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    Mohammed Shamji, a Toronto neurosurgeon charged with first-degree murder in the death of his wife, was denied bail Wednesday.

    Shamji is accused of killing his wife, Elana Fric-Shamji, a family physician found dead inside a suitcase by the West Humber River in Vaughan on Dec. 1.

    At the time, police said they believed Fric-Shamji had been strangled and suffered from blunt-force trauma. The pair were married for 12 years and had three children together. Days before her body was found, Fric-Shamji had filed for divorce.

    Shamji’s trial is expected to begin in fall 2018.

    He’s also charged with indignity to human remains.

    Read more:

    ‘We miss her greatly’: Slain doctor’s family thanks public for support

    Toronto doctor accused of murdering wife was charged with assaulting her in 2005

    Toronto neurosurgeon charged with murder of family doctor wife

    Speaking to media after the bail decision, Shamji’s lawyer, Liam O’Connor, said he wasn’t disappointed with the decision but was surprised, given the “level of support out there” for his client.

    “I haven’t seen a story where there wasn’t a second side,” he told reporters outside court. “That story will be told, I assure you.”

    Shamji, dressed in a blue button-up shirt and a dark grey suit, looked nervous, staring straight ahead throughout the proceedings. The 41-year-old had a faint five o’clock shadow, his hair neat and trimmed short.

    Details of what happened in court are covered by a publication ban.

    At one point, as the judge detailed the allegations against him, Shamji shook his head. He didn’t display any emotion as Justice Michael Brown read his decision.

    Members of Shamji’s family sat behind the prisoner’s box, with some holding onto each other for support. At least one dabbed her eyes with a tissue as she left the courtroom.

    Members of Fric-Shamji’s family didn’t appear to be present.

    If he was granted bail, Shamji would not have been permitted to practise medicine “in any capacity,” said Kathryn Clarke, spokesperson at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO).

    Shamji’s profile with the college shows the former neurosurgeon’s registration expired on Aug. 10 due to a failure to renew his membership. His privileges to practise at the University Health Network were previously suspended in December 2016.

    Since his arrest in 2016, he’s been held at the Maplehurst Correctional Complex in Milton.

    In 2005, when the pair were newlyweds living in Ottawa, Shamji was charged with uttering threats and assaulting Fric-Shamji. The charges were dropped after he signed a peace bond.

    With files from Vjosa Isai

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    The death of Diana, Princess of Wales in a high-speed car crash shocked the world 20 years ago Thursday.

    The 36-year-old princess was killed in the early hours of Aug. 31, 1997 after her Mercedes crashed into a concrete pillar in the Alma Tunnel in Paris.

    Diana’s boyfriend Dodi Fayed and their driver Henri Paul were also killed. Their car was travelling more than 100 kph. It had been pursued by paparazzi.

    The news of Diana’s death arrived in the Star’s newsroom in the form of a wire service bulletin at 12:15 a.m., Toronto time — just in time for the Star to redesign the front page to run the stark headline, “Diana dead.”

    What followed was a week of grief, mourning and anger over the sudden loss of “the people’s princess.” The next day, a Monday, the Star ran an eight-page special section dedicated entirely to the princess’s death.

    Diana’s funeral five days later drew an estimated one million mourners to London, with millions more watching live around the world — including at SkyDome, now Rogers Centre, where more than 3,500 watched the service on the Jumbotron.

    To mark the anniversary of Diana’s death, here is Star reporter Bill Schiller’s story on her funeral, from London.

    This story was first published on Sept. 7, 1997. It ran on the Star’s front page under the headline, “Goodbye England’s rose.”

    LONDON—Britain buried Diana, Princess of Wales, yesterday in a ceremony that sacrificed pomp and pageantry for a more common, human touch.

    She would have approved whole-heartedly.

    Diana’s sons, Princes William and Harry, joined their father Prince Charles, grandfather Prince Philip and uncle Charles, the Earl Spencer, to walk bravely behind the princess’ coffin for the last kilometre of a hushed procession.

    The only sound was the quiet clatter of horses’ hooves and the haunting, intermittent peal of a church bell.

    It was an extraordinary and touching sight.

    Never in modern memory has the British royal family demonstrated its grief so openly nor, it seemed, so humbly.

    Even the Queen and her family appeared at Buckingham Palace’s gates as the cortege carrying Diana’s body passed the palace and moved into The Mall en route to Westminster Abbey.

    The gesture appeared to be yet another royal concession to Diana’s struggle to modernize and humanize the British monarchy.

    As an estimated 1 million mourners lined the five-kilometre route, more than 25 million more Britons watched on television and 2.5 billion other viewers looked on worldwide.

    What they saw was the most massive outpouring of British national feeling since Victory in Europe celebrations ending World War II more than 50 years ago.

    Diana’s friend, Elton John, brought tears to many eyes yesterday, adapting his classic song, “Candle in the Wind,” to honor the princess as “England’s rose.”

    Her beloved sons, who maintained a valiant composure as they escorted their mother’s coffin to the abbey, were moved to tears during the poignant song.

    Authorities said 30,000 people camped out overnight on London’s streets, 2,000 of whom slept in front of the abbey to ensure themselves a glimpse of Diana’s coffin as it passed.

    One of them was Mary O’Connor, an 84-year-old pensioner from Norfolk, who has had two hip operations. She camped out at the abbey for two nights and was rewarded by organizers yesterday with a chair near the Great West Door, where Diana’s coffin entered and left the church.

    “The old bones were creaking with the arthritis,” she admitted following the funeral. “But it was a wonderful experience.

    “I wouldn’t want to go through it again however, it was so heart-rending. She was my favorite royal. I was crying all the time.”

    Perhaps the most heart-breaking sight mourners saw was the wreath of white flowers set atop Diana’s coffin, with a handwritten card bearing the single word: “Mummy.”

    The funeral was attended by a mix of people from all nationalities and all walks of life, from the high and mighty of the film and fashion worlds, to the homeless and those in wheelchairs who had been helped by Diana’s charities.

    It was the perfect expression of Diana’s life, one that had comfortably mixed glamor with good works, a feat few people have ever accomplished.

    But Diana’s charm, sincerity, compassion and commitment made it happen.

    Luciano Pavarotti came from Italy; actors Tom Hanks, Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise from the United States; film producer Lord Richard Attenborough and Virgin Airlines chair Richard Branson were also there, as well as leading British politicians and ex-politicians.

    Designer David Emmanuel, who had made Diana’s wedding dress, attended too.

    So did U.S. First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.

    But just as important was the legion of unnamed charity workers who joined the cortege, just behind the members of the royal family, as the procession passed St. James’ Palace. They accompanied some of the people Diana had helped: the sick, the downtrodden and the needy.

    As a note on one bouquet this week noted, Diana was “Queen of the Devastated, Queen of the Unloved ... Queen of the Uncared-for.”

    Some of those charity workers, in jeans and sweatshirts, pushed wheelchairs. Some were dressed in nursing and Red Cross uniforms.

    They alone took up 500 of the 2,000 places on the guest list.

    It was a fitting tribute to the woman British Prime Minister Tony Blair called, “The People’s Princess.”

    The day had begun with sunshine, long shadows, and the single, haunting peal of a muffled bell as Diana’s coffin was set on a gun carriage in front of her former home, Kensington Palace.

    At 9:08 a.m., six gleaming horses drew the gun carriage bearing the coffin down Palace Avenue to Kensington Road, and as it edged into public view, people began throwing flowers atop it and one woman let out an anguished, high-pitched cry.

    All along the route, people did what Diana herself may have done had she been there grieving for another: they were supporting each other, holding each other.

    And they did so in silence, though the occasional sound of a muffled sob pierced the air.

    “It was eerily quiet,” said Velda Bottle, a 55-year-old store clerk.

    “All you could hear really was the horses. All of us were fine, but then we saw the boys (Princes William and Harry) walking behind the casket and we lost it.”

    Bottle’s sister, Jennifer Horsington, said one elderly woman near them started sobbing uncontrollably and a young man made his way through the crowd and threw his arms around her and hugged her.

    “It was an incredibly touching thing,” remarked Horsington. “Here were these two total strangers hugging, and no one seemed to mind. We were like one big family, Diana’s family.”

    Some felt that the day’s events and the extraordinary emotional outpouring would change Britain irrevocably.

    “This is a watershed in the history of the country, I think,” said Ekow Nelson, a 32-year-old London management consultant. “From today on, I think the rulers of our country will probably think slightly differently. There will be a lot more compassion.

    “I think there will be a lot less rigidity and formality, and a lot more public emotion.”

    Adding color to the procession were the dozen scarlet-coated Welsh Guards who flanked the coffin along the route.

    And ahead of them, wearing gold brocade on their blue tunics, were members of the King’s Troop of the Royal Horse Artillery.

    It was as close to pageantry as the day got.

    By the time the casket arrived at the abbey at 10:58 and was carried into the Great West Door by the Welsh Guards and set beneath the gothic arcs of the abbey, the sun was strong and bright and the stained glass windows shone a brilliant blue.

    Heralding the beginning of the service, “God Save the Queen” was then sung by all in attendance and for a moment it seemed not a hymn to the sovereign, but to Diana herself.

    Protocol ended then, and a kind of people’s service that reflected Diana’s down-to-earth nature began. It highlighted her favorite hymns, her favorite readings and, in Elton John’s singing, one of her favorite performers.

    Diana’s sister, Lady Sarah McCorquodale, dressed in black, shaking visibly and fighting back tears, began to read:

    “If I should die and leave you here awhile,

    Be not like others, sore undone, who keep

    Long vigils by the silent dust, and weep.

    For my sake — turn again to life and smile.”

    Then after a moment’s reflection, a BBC choir burst into “Deliver Me,” from Verdi’s Requiem, and it seemed that all feelings of dread had been left behind, if only momentarily, and everyone had been lifted to heaven.

    Prime Minister Blair read St. Paul’s epistle to the Corinthians on love in such a clear and dramatic way that every nuance was crystalized and every political speech that Blair had ever made instantly paled by comparison.

    “And though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and I have not love, I am nothing.”

    As the mourners in the abbey remained seated, Elton John began his song for the friend who had so recently comforted him at the funeral of fashion mogul Gianni Versace.

    “Goodbye England’s rose,” he sang, “from a country lost without your soul, / who’ll miss the wings of your compassion/more than you’ll ever know.”

    What immediately followed was a eulogy for Diana by her younger brother Charles which will resonate down the years.

    It was full of passion, love, anger and good sense. Anger at the royal family and the British press for having made Diana’s life — at times — miserable; good sense in its respectful acknowledgment of the value of the British crown, but condemning of the blind and narrow-minded allegiance to protocol that can produce emotionally stunted personalities destined to remain alienated from the people.

    Spencer vowed he would keep his nephews, William and Harry, safe from such damage and that their personalities would be real and natural and able to “sing” in the way that Diana had planned. He also promised to protect the boys from the media that he said made his sister “the most hunted person in the modern age.”

    When he finished, those inside the abbey could hear strong and spontaneous applause working its way towards them from outside like a wave.

    The many ordinary Britons who turned out to pay tribute to Diana yesterday sensed that she was not about pomp, circumstance and pageantry — but about them, about being ordinary. She connected with them.

    That’s why Carmel McInerney, 38, her 13-year-old daughter Danielle, and Carmel’s sister Grace, 32, came across town from Fulham to sleep huddled together on the pavement using a single blanket.

    For that small sacrifice, they won a clear and unobstructed view of the passing casket draped in the royal standard.

    “She was the best ever,” said Danielle. “She should have been queen.”

    As she spoke, her aunt Grace broke down and cried, “She loved Charles so much and he didn’t give her the respect she deserved.

    “Hopefully, Prince William will be our next king,” she choked, “and he’ll have a little bit of her love inside him to give to the people.”

    As remarkable as the heartfelt emotions of Britons in the crowd were, there were also huge numbers of international mourners as well: people from Poland, New Zealand, Germany, Italy, the United States, Japan, Turkey and many other countries.

    And that underlined the truth of what Diana’s brother had said in his tribute from the abbey’s pulpit — that she was “a very British girl who transcended nationality.”

    Many international visitors, such as 21-year-old student Sascha Meyer-Diekena, of Bremen, Germany, paid their respects and lamented that their country was not blessed with a woman like Diana.

    “There is no similar person in Germany,” said Meyer-Diekena, who is touring Britain with a group of 40 other young Germans.

    Diana’s family has decided that her final resting place should be beyond the reach of fervent fans, out of fears that they could turn it into a kind of over-run celebrity shrine.

    So yesterday, Diana was finally laid to rest on a tree-shaded island in an ornamental lake on the grounds of her childhood home, at the family estate near Althorp, north of London, securely beyond the reach of any camera lens.

    Mourners would only be allowed access on special and limited occasions throughout the year, a spokesperson for the family said.

    Diana’s admirers lined much of the 100-kilometre route to Althorp yesterday, and threw cascades of flowers as the hearse moved through the rolling green farmland of central England.

    The day’s final ceremony was private. No cameras were allowed in and no statement was released. Only 10 people were permitted to attend: Diana’s brother, two sisters and their husbands, Prince Charles, Princes William and Harry, Diana’s mother, Frances Shand Kydd, and Diana’s butler, Paul Burrell.

    Diana had come full circle.

    By nightfall she had been returned to that tranquil place from whence she came, where she developed the shy but beguiling smile that captivated the world.

    With files from The Associated Press

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    Two teenagers were rushed to hospital after a shooting in North York on Wednesday afternoon.

    Police responded to reports of a shooting in the area of Trethewey Dr. and Tedder St., near Jane St. and Lawrence Ave. W., shortly before 5 p.m.

    Two males, aged 15 and 16, suffered gunshot wounds to their extremities and taken to hospital, Toronto paramedics said. One also suffered a wound to the torso.

    A third victim was also treated and the severity of their injuries weren’t immediately clear.

    There is no information on suspects. Police are investigating.

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    AUSTIN, TEXAS—A federal judge late Wednesday temporarily blocked most of Texas’ tough new “sanctuary cities” law that would have allowed police to inquire about people’s immigration status during routine interactions such as traffic stops.

    The law, SB 4, had been cheered by U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration but decried by immigrants’ rights groups who say it could force anyone who looks like they might be in the country illegally to “show papers.”

    The measure sailed through the Republican-controlled Legislature despite months of protests and opposition from business groups who worried that it could cause a labour-force shortage in industries such as construction. Opponents sued, arguing it violated the U.S. Constitution, and U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia’s ruling in San Antonio keeps it from taking effect as planned Friday — allowing the case time to proceed.

    Read more:

    Mexico, San Antonio police chief slam Texas’ sudden ‘sanctuary city’ ban

    Texas governor signs ban on ‘sanctuary cities’ in Facebook live video

    ‘Are you here illegally?’: Minneapolis transit officer asks about rider’s immigration status

    In a 94-page ruling, Garcia wrote that there “is overwhelming evidence by local officials, including local law enforcement, that SB 4 will erode public trust and make many communities and neighbourhoods less safe” and that “localities will suffer adverse economic consequences which, in turn, will harm the state of Texas.”

    “The Court cannot and does not second guess the Legislature,” he continued. “However, the state may not exercise its authority in a manner that violates the United States Constitution.”

    Garcia’s order suspends the law’s most contentious language while suggesting that even parts of the law that can go forward won’t withstand further legal challenges.

    The law had sought to fine law enforcement authorities who fail to honour federal requests to hold people jailed on offences that aren’t immigration related for possible deportation. It also would have ensured that police chiefs, sheriffs and constables could face removal from office and even criminal charges for failing to comply with such federal “detainer” requests.

    The four largest cities in Texas — San Antonio, Austin, Houston and Dallas — have joined the lawsuit, saying the law is vague and would have a chilling effect on immigrant communities. Their attorneys told Garcia that his ruling could determine if other states pursue copycat measures. Lawyers for the Texas attorney general’s office responded that the new law has fewer teeth than Arizona’s 2010 “Show Me Your Papers” measure that was partially struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.

    Top conservatives say an immigration crackdown is necessary to enforce the rule of law. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has maintained that only lawbreakers have anything to worry about.

    On the final day of the legislative session in May, tensions boiled over when Republican state Rep. Matt Rinaldi told Democrats that he had called federal immigration agents to report protesters in the Capitol who held signs saying they were illegally in the country. One Democratic legislator admitted pushing Rinaldi, who responded by telling one Democrat that he would “shoot him in self-defence.”

    The Trump administration has made “sanctuary cities” a target. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has threatened to pull federal money from jurisdictions that hinder communication between local police and immigration authorities and has praised Texas’ law.

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    Dissatisfied with commercial radio, Andrew O’Connor decided to shake it up by tapping into Toronto airwaves to broadcast what is, in his opinion, righteous, underappreciated music.

    Every Thursday the 38-year-old radio guru does just that with Disco 3000, a homespun show that’s been in operation for three years — his tag line: “Good music on the radio.”

    “Nobody puts together a thoughtful program of music anymore, something that reflects a time in place, an emotion,” he said in his modest apartment. “There’s this notion that we have to coddle people’s ears and never challenge them.”

    Pirate radio is rare in Canada and is more commonly found in remote areas, like First Nations reserves, O’Connor said.

    He operates without a license, making his work illegal, technically, but because the range is so limited, he doesn’t see a problem.

    “I’m under the radar,” he said. “It’s small enough that nobody really notices. The main things that will cause trouble are interfering with somebody else’s signal or broadcasting hate speech, neither of which I come anywhere close to doing.”

    According to the Radiocommunication Act, interfering or obstructing radio signals is prohibited.

    “Unauthorized radio broadcasting, including pirate radio, can cause interference to public safety radio operations and aeronautical radio navigation and communications and jeopardize the safety of Canadians,” said a spokesperson in a written statement.

    O’Connor’s show, which can be found on frequency 87.5 FM between 9 and 11 p.m. every Thursday, was chock-full of genre-defying music. Sun Ra and Harry Partch were played — artists that fit within the experimental, avant-garde vein. Punctuated between sets was O’Connor’s crooning voice, guiding listeners through each song.

    Last Thursday, O’Connor played Sun Ra’s “Unknown Kohoutek,”a song about a comet that was spotted in our solar system in the 1970s.

    “If I had to describe it,” O’Connor said, “I’d call it polyrhythmic spiritual jazz, with Sun Ra’s classic organ wizardry.”

    The broadcast is exclusive to Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood. A Star reporter walked around the area with a hand-held radio that evening to determine how far O’Connor’s signal would reach — feedback choked it out along Roncesvalles Ave., Marion St., Jameson Ave. and south of King St. West. If you find yourself within these parameters, however, the transmission will most likely be clear. O’Connor said there are many variables that can affect the broadcast, like weather and quality of the receiver.

    He said that no night is average, adding that he plays Motown and contemporary hip-hop at times, too.

    Martin Watson, 34, has been tuning into Disco 3000 since its inception — he listens to it whenever he has a chance, he said.

    “I get to hear all of these fantastic bands that I’ve never heard on (commercial) radio, outside a few college shows,” he said. “The other thing is the freedom of the format.”

    Watson added that he enjoys the pure “physicality” of the experience.

    “I’ve never felt the same sense of immediacy with anything online,” he said. “An analog radio show, you have to be ready at a specific time.”

    O’Connor prefers his analog rig over the internet because of its old-school way of reaching people.

    “The fact that I can sit in a room listening to records and this magic box can take it to the antenna, shoot it out into the air and people around me with a different magic box can pull it out of the air and listen with me is a beautiful thing,” he said.

    He’s been working in the radio arts industry for 20 years freelancing and working on commissioned art projects around the country, which could help explain why he considers his show to be a “community art project.”

    “I’m interested in someone who’s gonna come along for the ride,” he said.

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    If you’re looking for a simple answer to the question “Why do so many people hate the media?” all you have to do is turn your attention to this week’s hullabaloo over Melania Trump’s shoes.

    On Tuesday, the first lady of the United States boarded an airplane bound for Hurricane Harvey-ravaged Texas, rocking sky-high snakeskin pumps. Not surprisingly, minutes after photos of this spectacle hit the internet, thousands of observers wondered why the first lady didn’t don a getup a little more practical for the purpose of entering a disaster zone. What kind of person, Twitter wanted to know, wears stilettos into the eye of a storm? The Trump kind, of course.

    In addition to sheer disbelief, the first lady’s flashy footwear provoked something else: catty condemnation from journalists. For example, Vogue magazine, a publication I would have pegged as a natural ally to the first lady on a subject like this, was one of many outlets to make the case that not only are heels impractical in a disaster context: they are insensitive, too.

    “But what kind of message,” wrote Lynn Yaeger in Vogue, “does a fly-in visit from a First Lady in sky-high stilettos send to those suffering the enormous hardship, the devastation of this natural disaster?” Here’s Robin Givhan in the Washington Post, no less judgmental about Trump’s footgear. “And for her trip to Texas,” Givhan writes, “the first lady offered up a fashion moment instead of an expression of empathy.”

    Read more:

    First lady Melania Trump praises ‘strength and resilience’ of Texans

    ‘Texas can handle anything’: Trump offers reassurances on Harvey recovery

    Melania Trump thanks Chelsea Clinton for defending Barron after website criticizes his clothes

    At the risk of defending a woman who stands for nothing I like, I have to ask, why can’t a person offer up both things — fashion and empathy — at the same time? Why are fashion and empathy mutually exclusive? Is it really impossible to help people, dressed your best? (I guess Princess Diana never got the memo.)

    But more to the point, I think it’s time we finally laid to rest the expectation that leaders and their spouses dress for a part they will never realistically play. Does anyone honestly expect that a head of state and his wife are going to enter the fray, as relief workers, swimming down the street plucking stray cats from the floodwaters?

    Though she did change into tennis shoes upon arrival in Texas, I’m pretty sure that Melania Trump is perfectly capable of doing in five-inch heels what most politicians and their spouses do in disaster zones: hand out blankets and juice boxes and occasionally pose for photos with traumatized people who would rather be anywhere else.

    It’s no wonder so many people on social media have come to the first lady’s defence, cursing the mainstream media and leaving angry comments under editorials mocking her shoes. Some on the left appear incapable of recognizing that it is media preoccupation with the first lady’s shoes — not the shoes themselves — that many people find repulsive. They are repulsed because devoting so much space to Trump’s lack of sensible footwear implies that hurricane victims whose belongings are literally swimming away actually give a crap about wardrobe etiquette.

    Of course, it would be a different story entirely if the Washington Post were on the ground in Texas asking local residents “How are you holding up?” and the general consensus was: “We’d be a whole lot better if Melania Trump was wearing galoshes.” But to my knowledge no one has said this, which makes the media condemnation of the first lady’s footwear appear cynical, spiteful and disingenuous.

    So why do we — the media — do it? Why do journalists appear to turn every meme and every series of irreverent tweets into a full-blown news cycle? We do it because we think we have to. We do it because our industry is facing a disaster all its own (extinction) and editors are pressured to latch onto anything and everything “people are talking about” in hopes of racking up clicks and squeezing whatever revenue they can from a viral moment.

    This situation isn’t helped by the fact that the president of the United States regularly devalues our work and labels it false and irrelevant, a.k.a., “Fake News!”

    But when we take the viral bait, when we make fun of his wife’s shoes under the guise that we are expressing genuine concern for disaster victims, we make it way too easy for him to devalue us. And the end result is that we are, in fact, less relevant, and more loathed than before.

    Emma Teitel is a national affairs columnist.

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    A blockade by members of Six Nations has barred a portion of Argyle Street, the main road in Caledonia for the past 21 days.

    The protest is connected to a parcel of land that was put into a federal corporation in March by Six Nations’ elected band council, allegedly reneging on an Ontario promise to return it to Six Nations people in 2006 to ameliorate the Caledonia Standoff — a protest that saw a group of Indigenous people occupy a housing development called Douglas Creek Estates. The blockade is situated near the site where violence broke out over 10 years ago.

    It concerns a disagreement between the elected band council and the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, a traditional government system comprised of five First Nations. The latter says it has been responsible for the lands for over 10 years.

    A letter penned by former Ontario premier David Peterson in 2006 states that “The title of the Burtch lands will be included in the lands rights process of the Haudenosaunee/ Six Nations/Canada/Ontario. It is the intention that the land title be returned to its original state, its status under the Haldimand Proclamation.”

    Ontario honoured the 2006 commitment by transferring the land into the corporation, said a spokesperson with the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation.

    “We are hopeful that all of the parties involved will be able to work together in a spirit of mutual respect to ensure the land benefits all the people of Six Nations,” said Antoine Tedesco in a written statement. “As this matter is before the courts right now, any further comment would be inappropriate.”

    This summer, Mohawk farmer Kristine Hill was evicted from the Burtch lands— about 380 acres west of the reserve line — after an injunction was filed against her, despite the Confederacy issuing a five-year lease to her. A decision on this case, along with a contempt of court charge, will be delivered in an Ontario court on Sept. 22, said Hill.

    “The government needs to sit down and talk,” said Hill. “They can’t make unilateral decisions, pan-Aboriginal decisions and expect individual nations to be happy with that.”

    Hill did not want to comment about the blockade or Burtch lands because her court case is ongoing.

    “Ontario defaulted on the original agreement,” she said, adding that the elected band council is carrying out the province’s bidding. “The province is responsible for what’s happening here because it did not live up to its obligations, in terms of that letter and the promises they made. They broke their promise.”

    The land is being held in trust until it becomes designated reserve land. The Confederacy is at odds with this concept — it wants the area to be independent from the Canadian government.

    The Confederacy has been invited to sit on the board of the corporation, Tedesco said.

    In a press released dated June 4, a Confederacy chief says the offer relegates the council from a government to an individual on the board.

    Elected band council staff did not respond to requests for comment.

    On Tuesday, members of Six Nations addressed the media on the outskirts of Caledonia, south of Hamilton, providing site updates. Independent interviews were refused and no photographs of people at the barricade were permitted.

    “We the Onkwehonwe of Kanonhstaton are still standing strong,” said Ronda Martin, in front of the blockade decorated with Haudenosaunee and Mohawk Warrior flags, built of what appeared to be part of a decommissioned electrical tower. “We ask again for the public’s patience as we work on some very complicated issues.”

    In a YouTube video uploaded by Turtle Island News on Aug. 17, a woman identified as Doreen Silversmith lists off three demands of Six Nations people at the barricade. They include that the province and the Canadian government return to the negotiation table with the Confederacy, that Ontario honour its promise encapsulated in the 2006 letter and that Six Nations elected band council withdraw its injunction against Hill.

    A camp has been established behind a gate — surrounding a small hut were tents, lawn chairs and a small crowd.

    A Caledonia resident who lives close to the blockade called the demonstration an “inconvenience” because it obstructs the thoroughfare.

    “The local businesses, they’re being impacted severely,” said Sean Sullivan, 45. “It’s a land dispute, but it has nothing to do with Caledonia. This is in the wrong place.

    “I’m supportive of their claims, but let’s compensate them and deal with it,” he said.

    OPP cruisers are stationed at opposing stretches along Argyle St. around the clock, said OPP spokesperson Rod Leclair.

    “Our only role is preserving the peace,” he said. “There has been no problems. It’s been peaceful.”

    Martin said that First Nations people have been corresponding with Indigenous councils this month to raise awareness and gather support.

    “We continue to put pressure on the Canadian government to honour our treaties and respect our jurisdiction over our sovereign lands, people and water.”

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    When Diana, Princess of Wales left Toronto in October 1991, after a trip with both sons and her husband in the last year of their marriage, a treasure now worth thousands of dollars was tucked away underground at King and Church Sts.

    This week — which marks 20 years since her death on Aug. 31 — St. James Cathedral archivist Nancy Mallett rifled through shelves in their basement to find the non-descript box it was filed away in.

    At first, even she didn’t know for sure where it was.

    Read more:

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    Once located, the box was opened to reveal a bible: time-worn since it was gifted to the church in 1860, with gilded pages and thin red lines hemming in large-font verses. As per tradition, its pages bears over 100 years of signatures from visiting royals and dignitaries.

    But, among the splendor, one page in particular stands as a historical rarity.

    The signatures of Diana, her husband Prince Charles, and their two boys — all in a neat line down one page. Pen met paper on Oct. 27, 1991, when the entire family attended a 10:40 a.m. service at St. James, just hours before sailing away on the Royal Yacht Britannia.

    “Nobody really thought about the children signing the bible, but Harry had just learned to write his name, as the story goes,” Mallett explained. “When he saw his father signing, he wanted to sign his name.”

    William, she said, just had to sign after his little brother had been allowed to. Both boys mimicked their father’s straight line beneath the signature, with a deliberate period after their names. Diana’s famous, loopy script came last, with the same punctuation but the line below distinctly ajar.

    The royal couple would separate just one year later. Mallett believes that left the St. James’ bible and one other in England as the only copies of the entire family’s autograph in existence.

    Daniel Wade from Paul Fraser Collectibles valued the single page, not even factoring in the bible as a whole, at $8,000. “Royal signatures are in general scarce because royal protocol forbids signing autographs,” he said, adding that William and Harry’s were “extremely rare,” even alone.

    Documents as simple as an old go-kart waiver, signed by Diana, William and Harry, have been listed on online auction sites for thousands of dollars.

    But in that moment, in a Toronto cathedral, all four willingly penned their names into a register that the church has held for hundreds of years. “You know, there’s a very sweet picture of everyone signing it,” Mallett added.

    Though the royal visit seemed to be snapped from every possible angle, only cathedral photographer Michael Hudson was privy to that moment.

    “I was shadowed by a Scotland Yard security officer on my shoulder,” Hudson recalled via email. “Charles and Diana seemed to chat a little bit together but mostly she was attentive to William and Harry.”

    “I wasn’t listening, just trying to get the shots” — he confirmed that there was a moment when the entire family began to laugh at something the pint-sized prince either said or did.

    Some details of the moment are clearer in his memory. Nine-year-old William signed with his left hand. Diana was wearing the now-famous blue sapphire ring.

    Other, vibrant details were preserved in film. Diana was enveloped in the dual colours of the Canadian flag, all ivory and scarlet. Standing to the right of the family in golden-hued vestments, Rev. S Duncan Abraham, dean of Toronto, looked over their shoulders as they autographed the holy book.

    On the phone from his cottage, Abraham remembers how many people wanted to come to the service that day. Police estimated as many as 2,500 people swelling through the streets outside the cathedral during the service.

    Complicating things further, the church had already booked a special service that day for the 150th anniversary of Trinity College.

    “One of the things that’s always stuck in my mind when we were planning for that service was in picking the hymns,” Abraham said. One called “Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation,” played at Diana and Charles’ wedding, seemed appropriate at the time.

    “We didn’t know about the stresses and strains on their marriage at this stage,” Abraham said. “We made a boo-boo on that one, I’ll tell you.”

    But any strain on the royal marriage didn’t stand out to those who attended the Sunday morning Matins service. Parishioner Gloria Weibe has seen her fair share of royal visits to St. James, but that day sticks out in her mind.

    “I think this was very special, because it was the family,” she said. She called Diana “such a presence, really,” recalling her physical beauty and sense of fashion. But in the church, they were a family like any other.

    “Once you’re seated the service just carries on. For me, that’s the way it should be,” Weibe said. “You feel a connection with them in that they’re coming to worship and attend church with us.”

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    The Toronto District School Board’s decision to suspend a controversial program that places armed police officers in high schools has come under criticism from officials who say the move was made in haste. But advocacy group Black Lives Matter said the decision marked a step forward.

    TDSB trustees voted Wednesday night to discontinue the Student Resource Officer initiative, pending a review of the practice, due in November.

    “It was felt that the presence of (officers) during the review when we were asking people to talk about them might be intimidating and create a potential bias,” TDSB Chair Robin Pilkey told the Star.

    About 16 votes were cast in favour of suspension and six votes were cast against, said Pilkey, who voted to suspend.

    The Student Resource Officer program, in place since 2008, has garnered a mix of praise and criticism since its inception. Some students, parents and school staff have said the presence of armed, uniformed police improves safety, and gives teens a chance to get to know local officers.

    Others have expressed concern that the program leads to criminalization of relatively minor schoolyard problems and alienates marginalized students who may not feel comfortable around police.

    In June, the TDSB ordered a review of the program to take place this fall.

    A report on the planning for the TDSB review of the program was scheduled for Wednesday night’s board meeting, prompting Trustee Marit Stiles to draft a motion for the program suspension.

    “Earlier in the day, I circulated to all trustees a motion I intended to introduce related to the report (on the review),” Stiles told the Star. “It was introduced during the meeting as business arising from the (review) report.”

    The trustees debated the suspension issue for at least an hour, Stiles added.

    The decision to suspend the program was “unfortunate,” Mayor John Tory told reporters on Thursday.

    The Toronto Police Services Board, of which Tory is a member, has commissioned its own review of the SRO program, to be completed in Spring 2018.

    “The school board decided they would take a different approach, and, before that review is done, cancel the program,” Tory said.

    “I wasn’t prepared to rush to judgment to say the program was perfect or imperfect,” he added.

    At least one trustee has said board officials should have been given time to consult their communities before the vote.

    Trustees would normally have a week or two to discuss a motion like this, “but we had no chance to do any of that,” Trustee Pamela Gough, who voted against the suspension, said.

    “My decision last night not to support it was basically a status quo until we hear the evidence and we hear the voices of the people actually in the schools,” she added.

    “Evidence-based decision making is better than taking a stab in the dark on a topic, especially when the motion, came with such short notice.”

    Stiles acknowledged that not all the trustees were comfortable with suspending the SRO program, but added that officials have had ample time to consider the public’s feelings about the practice.

    “We’ve been talking about the future of the SRO program for quite some time,” Stiles said.

    “I think if enough trustees were concerned about that we would have seen a vote against the motion,” Stiles added.

    The controversy over the Student Resource Officer program erupted in May after a review of the nearly decade-old program was one of the items on the agenda of the Toronto police board meeting. A group of teachers and school workers presented a detailed report about the negative impact the program in schools. A motion to suspend the program was deferred to June.

    Things became more heated at the June board meeting, where 74 people spoke against uniformed police officers in school. Protestors from Black Lives Matter and other groups filled the auditorium at police headquarters. The meeting was disrupted a couple of times as tensions rose and board members were heckled. At the end of a long night, the board decided to postpone the decision over the motion until the end of the year.

    It was no different during the board’s August meeting where Toronto police chief Mark Saunders presented a plan to have Ryerson University perform a review of the contested program. Activists attended the meeting calling for board members to resign. They also carried signs saying “We’re here for Dafonte,” in reference to Black teen Dafonte Miller who was allegedly beaten by an off-duty Toronto police officer and his brother.

    Responding to the decision of the TDSB to suspend the program, Black Lives Matter put out a statement: “Last night, Toronto District School Board Trustees voted to temporarily suspend the School Resource Officer (SRO) program for the start of the school year. The program will be suspended to allow for the TDSB to conduct a review of the program, its effectiveness, and hear from students from marginalized communities about their experiences with cops in schools.

    “While this is not a full victory, this is an important step forward. After years of activism from groups like Education Not Incarceration (ENI), and the Latinx, Afro-Latin-America, Abya Yala Education Network (LAEN), the TDSB has undertaken a thorough review of the program to happen throughout the fall.

    “Toronto Police Services Board are also conducting their own (questionable) review of the program. This review will be overseen by a committee comprised of TPS board chair, the Chief of Police, amongst others. We remain skeptical of any instance in which cops are reviewing other cops.

    “It’s time to hear from students themselves about their experiences with police surveillance, criminalization, profiling, and their experiences with armed police officers in their classrooms. The work has only begun.”

    Forty-six of the TDSB’s 113 high schools had student resources officers in 2016-2017, though one has since closed and three others suspended the program due to “schedule issues.”

    Five schools have an officer assigned solely to them last year. The rest shared one or two officers with other TDSB and Toronto Catholic District School board institutions.

    The SRO program has been in place since 2008, instituted in large part as a response to the murder of 15-year-old Jordan Manners, in the halls of C.W. Jefferys Collegiate Institute in North York.

    As part of the TDSB’s review of the SRO program, the board’s research department will conduct a written survey of staff and students at participating schools.

    The TDSB has also scheduled three community meetings for the week of September 18 to 24 to discuss having police in schools.

    Research findings will be made public by November, at which time the board will discuss whether, or how, the program should continue, Pilkey said.

    With files from Annie Arnone and Jennifer Pagliaro

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    Ontario’s human rights tribunal has ruled that a 9-year-old autistic boy can’t bring his service dog with him into class.

    The decision says Kenner Fee’s family failed to prove that having his black Labrador Ivy in the classroom would help him with his education.

    Adjudicator and tribunal vice-chair Laurie Letheren found that the Waterloo Catholic District School Board took all necessary steps to evaluate whether the dog was needed in the classroom, and supported the board’s decision not to allow the service animal to sit beside Kenner during lessons.

    Read more:Ontario family fights to have autistic son’s service dog in classroom

    The tribunal heard from Kenner’s family that his autism leaves him prone to agitation, emotional outbursts and even bolting from his surroundings, but that having Ivy beside him significantly helps regulate his behaviour.

    Letheren accepted that evidence, but also accepted testimony from school board staff suggesting Kenner was performing well in class without Ivy, and that any problems he was encountering would not necessarily be addressed by the dog’s presence.

    Fee’s lawyer Laura McKeen says the family is crushed by the decision and is considering their next steps, including Kenner’s future education plans. She says the Fees have the right to appeal the ruling, but have not yet decided if they will do so.

    “They truly believe that Kenner’s service animal Ivy is essential to his entire life, including and specifically his education,” she said. “The Fees are devastated by the impact that decision is going to have on Kenner going forward.”

    The Waterloo Catholic District School Board did not comment specifically on the decision other than to acknowledge the outcome in their favour.

    “We work alongside families to make student-centred, individualized decisions that we collectively believe will allow them to flourish,” Director of Education Loretta Notten said in a statement. “Student success is of paramount importance to us and we strive to bring each one to their fullest potential.”

    The Aug. 30 tribunal decision chronicles a fight Kenner’s family began in April 2014 to get Ivy into the boy’s class, something that has not been allowed to date.

    The tribunal heard that Kenner had been matched with Ivy after training with the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides, an internationally accredited school that provides service dogs to address a range of disabilities.

    Kenner’s father, Craig Fee, told the tribunal that Ivy’s presence had made a noticeable difference in Kenner’s life and helped regulate his behaviour. When he sought permission to bring Ivy into Kenner’s classroom, however, the request was denied.

    Board employees told the tribunal there were concerns that Ivy would set Kenner back in his independence, adding that he may rely too much on the dog rather than working directly with staff and peers.

    Kenner’s father and various professionals working with Kenner told the tribunal the boy’s anxiety got worse the longer he went without his service animal during school days.

    The decision said that assertion was not supported by testimony from board staff, who said Kenner was largely compliant with instructions and generally functioning fairly well academically.

    Behaviour tracking sheets submitted to the tribunal noted instances when Kenner allegedly tried to leave the school yard and even climb out a window, but a special education teacher downplayed the incidents in his testimony.

    He said in both cases Kenner threatened to go through with an escape, but stopped upon being prompted by a teacher. The teacher also denied an incident noted in a behaviour tracking sheet indicating Kenner threw a chair, saying the student had never intentionally done anything to endanger himself or others.

    The teacher testified that Kenner was not visibly upset in class, though he did tell the tribunal that Kenner would sometimes yell out for Ivy.

    Letheren said that while having Ivy there would eliminate that issue, she said the dog “could not provide indicators about why the applicant may be feeling so stressed at school.”

    Letheren also went on to note that Kenner is prone to “exaggerating his situation” according to testimony from both his father and a teacher.

    Letheren said the board had taken appropriate steps to put learning supports in place for Kenner and that Ivy’s presence was not necessary.

    “I find that the evidence demonstrates that the supports and strategies that the respondent has provided to accommodate his disability related needs are providing him the opportunity to realize (his) potential and develop into (a) highly skilled, knowledgeable, caring citizen who contribute(s) to (his) society,” she wrote.

    The ruling was met with shock and dismay by some members of the autism community.

    Laura Kirby-McIntosh, vice-president of the Ontario Autism Coalition, said the decision represents a setback for education in the province since school boards can apply provincial accessibility guidelines according to their own discretion.

    “The injustice here is that whether or not service dogs enter a school is going to be completely left to the discretion of 72 different individual school boards. To me, your rights should not change depending on your postal code.”

    Currently, Ontario’s education act does not treat schools as spaces that are open to the public, which is what permits boards to bar service animals from the premises if they wish.

    Kirby-McIntosh said there’s a pressing need for a provincewide education standard on all accessibility issues, including service animal access.

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    Put your campaign signs away for Jennifer Keesmaat — for now.

    The departing chief planner who has earned celebrity status amid a five-year push for a transit-oriented, cycling friendly city, says she has no interest in seeking political office in 2018.

    “It’s not something that I can imagine at this point,” Keesmaat said in an interview Thursday when asked about speculation she might be persuaded to run for the Liberal Party provincially.

    “I have no illusions about the demands of political life because I’ve been so up close to it for the past five years,” she said the progressive bureaucrat, who calls the Yonge-Eglinton area home.

    And the mayor’s office?

    “That is not, in any way, my intention to run for mayor...

    “ 2018,” she added.

    The city announced Keesmaat’s departure Monday. It came as a surprise to her staff and has left a city that has become accustomed to her confident leadership style and prolific social media posts at something of a loss.

    As a mother whose time has been dominated these past years by city hall affairs, Keesmaat said she’s looking forward to spending more time at home in the coming months, especially as her daughter will leave for university in a year’s time.

    “This is my last year with her, and that was a big part of the decision right now,” she said. “I actually need to make it home to dinner a few times in the week.”

    Keesmaat’s tenure at city hall ends Sept. 29.

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