Are you the publisher? Claim or contact us about this channel


Embed this content in your HTML

Search

Report adult content:

click to rate:

Account: (login)

More Channels


Channel Catalog


Channel Description:

TOPSTORIES

older | 1 | .... | 991 | 992 | (Page 993) | 994 | 995 | .... | 1045 | newer

    0 0


    One man is dead following a shooting in a North York mall Thursday afternoon.

    Toronto police Const. Caroline de Kloet said officers rushed to the North York Sheridan mall on Jane St. and Wilson Ave. around 5:20 p.m. after reports of a shooting.

    A man in his 20s was found suffering from gunshot wounds to the head, paramedics said. He was later pronounced dead on the scene.

    De Kloet said police are looking for four suspects. One suspect is described as wearing dark clothing with a hoody and white sneakers and having his or her face covered.

    The three other suspects are described as male, black, and wearing dark clothing and masks.

    Police are investigating. They are asking for anyone with information to contact them or Crime Stoppers. They have not revealed the identity of the victim.


    0 0


    CROSBY, TEXAS—At least 2 tons of highly unstable chemicals used in such products as plastics and paint exploded and burned at a flood-crippled plant near Houston early Thursday, sending up a plume of acrid black smoke that stung the eyes and lungs.

    The blaze at the Arkema Inc. chemical plant burned out around midday, but emergency crews continued to hold back because of the danger that eight other trailers containing the same compound could blow, too.

    No serious injuries were reported. But the blast added a new hazard to Hurricane Harvey’s aftermath and raised questions about the adequacy of the company’s master plan to protect the public in the event of an emergency in the flood-prone Houston metropolitan area of 5.6 million people.

    “This should be a wake-up call (for) all kinds of plants that are storing and converting reactive chemicals in areas which have high population densities,” said Nicholas Ashford, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology expert.

    The Environmental Protection Agency and Texas environmental regulators called the health risks minimal in Crosby but urged residents downwind to stay indoors with windows closed to avoid inhaling the smoke.

    Arkeda had warned earlier in the week that an explosion of organic peroxides stored at the plant was imminent because Harvey’s floodwaters engulfed the backup generators and knocked out the refrigeration necessary to keep the compounds from degrading and catching fire.

    All employees had been pulled from the plant before the blast, and up to 5,000 people living within 2.4 kilometres had been warned to evacuate on Tuesday.

    Two explosions in the middle of the night blew open a trailer containing the chemicals, lighting up the sky with 9- to 12-metre flames in the small farm and ranching community of Crosby, 40 kilometres from Houston, authorities said. Aerial footage showed a trailer carcass, its sides melted, burning in a flooded lot.

    Read more:

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

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

    Houston sees glimmer of hope after Harvey but threats loom

    The Texas environmental agency called the smoke “especially acrid and irritating” and said it can impair breathing and inflame the eyes, nose and throat.

    Fifteen sheriff’s deputies complained of respiratory irritation. They were examined at a hospital and released.

    The U.S. Chemical Safety Board, an independent federal agency, launched an investigation into the accident.

    The plant is along a corridor near Houston that contains one of the biggest concentrations of refineries, pipelines and chemical plants in the country.

    Andrea Morrow, a spokesperson for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, said the agency had not received any reports of trouble at other chemical plants in the hurricane-stricken zone.

    Texas A&M chemical safety expert Sam Mannan said the risk management plan that Arkema was required by state and federal law to develop did not address how it would deal with power and refrigeration failures or flooding.

    A 2016 analysis he did with university colleagues ranked the Crosby plant among the 70 or so facilities with the biggest potential to cause harm in greater Houston, based on such factors as the type and amount of chemicals and the population density.

    Arkema, which is headquartered in France, did not immediately return calls on the plant’s contingency planning.

    Rachel Moreno, a spokesperson for the fire marshal of Harris County, which encompasses Houston, would not discuss details of the risk management plan, such as how high the plant’s backup generators were placed.

    Arkema officials did not directly notify local emergency managers of the generator failure, Moreno said. It came, instead, by way of the plant’s workers, who told the Crosby Volunteer Fire Department about it when they were rescued during the hurricane, she said.

    On Thursday, Rich Rennard, an executive at Arkema, said the chemical compounds were transferred to refrigerated containers after power was lost. But he said those containers failed too, causing the chemicals in one unit to burn. Rennard said more explosions were expected from the remaining containers.

    In February, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined Arkema nearly $110,000 — later reduced to just over $90,000 — over 10 serious safety violations found during an inspection at the Crosby plant, according to agency records.

    State and federal regulators have cited Arkema for safety and environmental violations at the Crosby plant dating back more than a decade, records show.

    Texas’ environmental commission penalized the company at least three times for a total of about $27,000, some of which was deferred pending corrective actions. Arkema denied the allegations.

    During the last five years of compliance monitoring at the plant, state officials found five Clean Air Act-related deviations and two deviations from federal requirements on waste management, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency records show.

    In June 2006, the company had failed to prevent unauthorized emissions during a two-hour warehouse fire. Records show a pallet of organic peroxide was poorly stored, resulting in the blaze, and more than a ton of volatile organic compounds were discharged.

    The biggest penalty, about $20,000, came in December 2011 after the commission found Arkema had failed to keep thermal oxidizers, used to decompose hazardous gases, at high enough temperatures over the course of several months.

    More recently, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration in February fined Arkema nearly $110,000 — later reduced to just over $90,000 — over 10 serious safety violations found during an inspection.

    Records obtained by the AP show Arkema had kept using some equipment even when safety systems weren’t working properly, and didn’t inspect or test it as recommended. In one unit, the company also didn’t ensure equipment there was safe or keep employees up to date on their training.

    Arkema is also embroiled in a series of lawsuits stemming from a deadly accident involving one of its contracts at a rail yard in New Orleans.

    Arkema is defending itself in federal court after one worker died and two others were seriously injured after they were assigned to clean the inside of a rail car tank that had been filled with a harmful chemical. The men, who were working for a contractor with a long history of safety problems, were not wearing respirators and collapsed almost immediately, according to lawsuits filed by the survivors and the family of the man who died.

    In court documents, Arkema denied responsibility for the accident, saying it had trusted its contractor to run the operation safely.


    0 0


    WASHINGTON—The Trump administration on Thursday announced it has chosen four companies to build concrete prototypes of the president’s much-touted border wall.

    Construction of the prototypes, to take place in San Diego, is the first step in fulfilling Trump’s campaign promise of building a “big, beautiful” wall stretching along the 3,200-kilometre Mexico border.

    “Today we mark a significant milestone,” said Ronald Vitiello, acting deputy commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “This is the first tangible result of the action planning that has gone on. This is the use of the resources we had available for this year.” There appears to be a lack of political will to fund a continuous barrier. Congress has set aside $20 million in the current budget to build the prototypes but has not appropriated any other money for the wall. Each of the four contracts are worth between just under $400,000 and $500,000, Vitiello said.

    The companies chosen are: Caddell Construction in Montgomery, Ala.; Fisher Sand & Gravel/DBA Fisher Industries in Tempe, Ariz.; Texas Sterling Construction in Houston, Texas; and W.G. Yates & Sons Construction in Philadelphia, Miss.

    Read more:Companies bidding to design Trump’s border wall brace for hostile site

    Construction is expected to begin on the concrete prototypes in two weeks, Vitiello said, and should be complete this fall within 30 days after breaking ground. Each prototype will be nine metres long and up to nine metres high, and will be located within close proximity of each other, he said. They will act as a secondary barrier in a border enforcement zone that already has a fence.

    Homeland Security officials will then spend 30 to 60 days using small hand tools to test the prototypes to see how resistant they are to tampering and penetration, Vitiello said. Officials will consider esthetics as well as anti-climb features and how technology could be used to complement the physical barrier.

    “We are not just asking for a physical structure,” Vitiello said. “We’re asking for all the tools that help secure the border.”

    The administration was originally expected to announce its decision on prototypes in June, but the contracting process was delayed after protests from two companies that had not made the list of finalists.

    The Government Accountability Office dismissed the protests last Friday, but unsuccessful bidders now have another opportunity to file new protests, which could further delay construction.

    During his visit last week to Phoenix, Trump threatened to shut down the government if Congress does not agree to fund his wall in September.

    “Believe me, if we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall,” Trump said during his Arizona rally. “The American people voted for immigration control. That’s one of the reasons I’m here, and that is what the American people deserve, and they’re going to get it.”

    Eleven hundred kilometres of fencing has already been built in the most critical areas, following the 2006 Secure Fence Act under President George W. Bush. And there’s been a significant decrease in the number of illegal border crossers since Trump took office.

    The government in March asked for design submissions for two types of wall: a reinforced concrete barrier wall as well as one made of an alternative material with see-through capability. The government specified that the wall must be insurmountable and “esthetically pleasing in colour,” at least from the United States side.

    More than 200 companies responded with proposals. The contenders were winnowed down to a secret list of about 20 finalists.

    Thursday’s announcement by U.S. Customs and Border Protection did not include the winners of the non-concrete wall prototype. Trump earlier this summer had floated the possibility of a solar-paneled wall, between 12 and 15 metres high, as a way to help pay for construction.

    But with less than 2 per cent of the U.S. population living within 65 kilometres of the Mexico border, most of the electricity generated by the wall would be useless — without the construction of costly transmission lines to channel the electricity to other parts of the country.

    Vitiello said the agency expects to award up to four contracts for the non-concrete prototypes next week. The prototypes will allow the agency to learn about what type of structure would work best along the border. They could function as permanent barriers in San Diego, or be removed or relocated elsewhere, he said.

    The firms selected to build the prototypes are not necessarily the ones that would be picked to build the wall, an agency official said. Another bidding process would ensue if funding is approved for the wall itself.

    “This is not a competition to build the rest of the wall,” the official said.

    Trump’s 2018 budget calls for $2.6 billion for “high-priority tactical infrastructure and border security technology.” Of that amount, $1.6 billion is for “bricks and mortar construction” and $1 billion is for infrastructure and technology, such as roads needed to access construction sites and surveillance equipment.

    Since the campaign, Trump has scaled back his wall ambitions, admitting that a continuous barrier would not be possible — nor necessary — given natural barriers such as lakes, rivers, and mountains. A seamless wall is also unrealistic because of international treaty and flood zone requirements.

    The administration had hoped to add more than 160 new kilometres of wall over the next two years, according to a Department of Homeland Security planning document. Among the “high priority” locations would be the border sectors of the Rio Grande Valley in the southern tip of Texas as well as El Paso; Tucson, Ariz.; and San Diego, Calif.

    Of the more than 400,000 illegal immigrants apprehended along the southern border in 2016, nearly half were stopped in the Rio Grande Valley, according to data compiled by the U.S. Border Patrol.

    Customs and Border Protection said in June that it would be installing 35 new gates in the Rio Grande Valley to cover existing gaps, as well as begin replacing fencing in San Diego and vehicle barriers in El Paso. Trump has pointed to these repairs as a sign that his wall promise was coming to life.

    Customs and Border Protection had initially planned to award contracts by June 12, with construction beginning by July 21, according to a June Homeland Security Inspector General’s report.


    0 0


    Indigenous firefighting experts are hopeful that the federal government’s recent cabinet shuffle will help improve fire safety and prevention on reserves.

    “I don’t fear change. I fear increased levels of bureaucracy. Hopefully that’s not the direction we’re going in,” said Six Nations fire Chief Matthew Miller, who is also president of the Ontario Native Fire Fighters Society.

    “Overall, I’m cautiously optimistic,” Miller said.

    On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a shakeup at Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), splitting the department in two and handing responsibility for the delivery of services for Indigenous people to former federal health minister Jane Philpott.

    Minister Carolyn Bennett, who had previously been responsible for the sprawling INAC department, will now lead the government’s effort to replace the Indian Act and improve Crown-Indigenous relations.

    In March, Bennett committed the government to creating new legislation that applies a basic fire and building code on reserves, and putting in place a national Indigenous fire marshal’s office to oversee the resumption of fire-related data collection on reserves, something the government had abandoned altogether in 2010.

    Those promises came on the heels of a Star investigation that found at least 175 people have died in house fires in Indigenous communities since the federal government stopped tracking the death toll. At least 25 of the dead are children.

    Now Philpott’s department will be responsible for following through on Bennett’s promises, something she and her staff take seriously, according to a statement from her office.

    “Minister Philpott is committed to continuing the work that Minister Bennett has advanced over the past two years, including work on the fire safety file,” the statement said.

    “Over the coming days and weeks she looks forward to receiving detailed briefings in her new roles as Indigenous Services minister,” Philpott’s office said.

    Miller said he sees the splitting of Indigenous Affairs into two departments as a positive step towards solving not just the house fires crisis, but many of the larger issues plaguing Canada’s Indigenous communities.

    “There’s been a lot of reconciliation rhetoric thrown around” by this government, Miller said. “This is potentially the first time I’ve seen a significant move in that direction.”

    Blaine Wiggins, director of the Aboriginal Firefighters Association of Canada, agrees with him.

    Having Philpott handle service delivery while Bennett tackles the self-government negotiations and the eventual dismantling of the Indian Act is a smart move, he said.

    “We feel that the recent announcement will not hinder our projected plans and outcomes but may in fact expedite them,” Wiggins said.

    Minister Bennett’s office said in a statement that work on the file has been progressing well over the summer. The working group is currently trying to hash out costing and timelines for the new legislation and the fire marshal’s office. That work will continue through the fall and winter, Bennett’s office said.

    Miller said the months since Bennett’s promises have seen significant progress, but there have been some hiccups along the way.

    The federal government has struck a working group on the issue that includes the Aboriginal Firefighters Association, the Ontario Native Fire Fighters Society and the Assembly of First Nations.

    Earlier this summer, Indigenous Affairs’ team leader on that working group left for another position, Miller said, which meant time was lost bringing the replacement up to speed.

    That’s left Miller also worried about the time it may take to get a whole new department caught up.

    With fall around the corner, many Indigenous communities will soon have to start relying on the dangerous wood stoves, stoves that are known to cause many fatal house fires.

    In an attempt to head that off, Miller and the Ontario Native Firefighter’s Society has spent the summer trying to get as many smoke alarms installed in as many First Nations homes as possible.

    “We have an ambitious plan to have smoke detectors in every First Nation home in Ontario,” he said.

    Miller said he doesn’t yet have updated statistics on how many smoke detectors got installed over the summer, but anecdotally he said the work has so far gone well.

    “We’ve been working to support the Be Fire Safe program, which exists because of the federal partnership,” Miller said. “Coming into the tail end of August, we’re doing another push. It’s a lot of work.”


    0 0


    OTTAWA—Embattled Liberal MP Darshan Kang resigned from caucus Thursday night, releasing a statement that said he will focus on clearing his name in the face of accusations of sexual harassment.

    The Calgary MP has previously declared his innocence as a parliamentary investigation continues into his alleged conduct toward a young female staffer who worked in his constituency office.

    The Hill Times, which revealed the harassment investigation on Aug. 11, reported Thursday that a second woman who worked for Kang when he was an Alberta MLA has come forward with allegations against him.

    The Star was unable to reach the woman for comment.

    Charles-Eric Lépine, chief of staff to the Liberal government whip, confirmed in an email Thursday that his office received allegations from a second woman. He said they were forwarded to the House of Commons chief human resources officer, Pierre Parent, who is carrying out the investigation into Kang’s conduct.

    Lépine noted that the allegations occurred when Kang was an Alberta MLA and said his office “suggested that, if (the woman) feels comfortable doing so, she should share her story with the local police.”

    The Hill Times reported that the second woman claimed Kang repeatedly groped and kissed her against her will when she worked for him in 2011 and 2012.

    The Star could not independently verify the allegations.

    Earlier this week, the father of another woman who worked in Kang’s office told the Star that the MP offered her $100,000 to keep allegations of sexual harassment from her parents. These allegations included unwelcome hugs and hand-holding, as well as an incident in June when Kang allegedly tried to give the 24-year-old wine, take off her jacket, and then force his way into her hotel room to talk, the father said.

    The father said the Liberal party’s deputy whip in the House of Commons, Hamilton MP Filomena Tassi, travelled to Calgary in June to interview his daughter about her allegations — suggesting the government has known about the accusations against Kang for two months.

    Tassi has not responded to interview requests from the Star this week.

    None of the allegations against Kang has been proven.

    In his statement Thursday, Kang said he appreciates that the parliamentary process under which he’s being investigated allows him to give his “perspective” on the allegations.

    “However, I do not wish my present circumstances to further distract from any of the good work being carried out by my colleagues in the government,” Kang said. “I wish to focus my efforts at this time on clearing my name.”

    The resignation came two days after Kang proclaimed his innocence and said he would defend himself at all costs. Kang also said that he was placed on medical leave for stress related to the allegations.

    He did not respond to a request for comment from the Star on Thursday.

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was criticized this week by the NDP for failing to suspend Kang from the Liberal caucus while he’s being investigated for sexual harassment. Earlier instances of alleged harassment and assault resulted in caucus expulsions, such as in 2015 when two Liberal MPs were accused of harassing female members from the NDP.

    Trudeau told reporters this week that a new process that was put in place in 2014 is being followed, and declined to comment further.

    “The whip’s office is very much engaged, as it must be in this process, and we will allow this process to unfold as it should,” he said.

    The human resources office investigates claims of harassment, abuse of authority, misconduct and sexual harassment among MPs and parliamentary employees, including workers in constituency offices.

    During the 2016-17 fiscal year, the office received 19 cases and deemed two serious enough for investigation, according to its most recent annual report. Both cases were found to be “not substantiated.”


    0 0


    The provincial agency that assesses property values has agreed to lower the value of some Yonge St. properties hit with exorbitant tax increases, but says it’s up to Queen’s Park to change how such calculations are made.

    “The affected small businesses have already been made aware of the reduction and MPAC (Municipal Property Assessment Corp.) will issue official reduced property assessment notices in September,” an MPAC spokeswoman wrote in an email.

    Mayor John Tory this week wrote to Finance Minister Charles Sousa asking the province to fix the methodology to allow for a “more realistic” appraisal of the downtown commercial properties.

    Recent property tax reassessments by MPAC left business owners with “sticker shock,” that led many to close or consider closing their doors, Tory wrote in his letter.

    MPAC calculates properties’ current value assessment (CVA) based on a comparison of nearby land sales, which have spiked due to land speculation for condo development.

    “MPAC is using the direct sales comparison of Yorkville’s 1 Bloor West development project at the corner of Yonge St. to forecast the highest and best use for every other commercial building on Yonge St.,” Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam wrote in an opinion piece in last weekend’s Star.

    “This approach contributes to a speculative real estate market where projected future values appear to be reported by MPAC as current values.”

    Officials at Queen’s Park directed all inquiries to MPAC.

    “MPAC’s role is to administer the property assessment system in Ontario, while the methodology itself is defined by the government of Ontario under the Assessment Act,” an emailed statement said.

    The vast majority of the Yonge St. businesses are tenants, not building owners, so many are trapped in leases in which their contracts force them to pay any additional annual taxes, according the Yonge Street Small Business Association’s web site.

    Some of the storefronts, facing increases of up to 500 per cent, have hung signs in the windows declaring a “tax revolt” and blaming the mayor, though he had no control over the increases.

    On Thursday, Wong-Tam said while she welcomes MPAC’s “willingness to reassess the properties on Yonge St.,” it is a “short-term solution.”

    “The necessary change in policy goes beyond MPAC,” she stated.

    The mayor “sees MPAC’s statement today as a good first step,” said Don Peat, director of communications.

    “As his letter stated, he looks forward to working with Minister Sousa to find a way to fix the provincial assessment system.”


    0 0


    MARIETTA, GA.—A police lieutenant in Georgia who was recorded on video during a traffic stop saying “we only shoot Black people” is being fired, the police chief said Thursday.

    Dashcam video from July 2016 shows a car stopped on the side of a road and a woman can be heard telling Cobb County police Lt. Greg Abbott she was scared to move her hands in order to get her cellphone. Abbott, who is white, interrupts her and says, “But you’re not Black. Remember, we only shoot Black people. Yeah. We only shoot Black people, right?”

    Announcing his decision to fire Abbott, Police Chief Mike Register remarked that “there’s really no place for these types of comments in law enforcement.” Speaking at a news conference, Register added, “I feel that no matter what context you try to take those comments in, the statements were inexcusable and inappropriate. They’re not indicative of the values that I’m trying to instil within the Cobb County police department and that I believe the county holds.”

    Register said he learned of the comments after television station WSB-TV obtained the video and made the department aware of it. Abbott, who had been an officer for 28 years, was placed on administrative duties while the department investigated the video.

    Abbott’s attorney, Lance LoRusso, did not immediately respond to an email Thursday seeking comment on the firing. He had earlier said in a statement that Abbott was co-operating with the investigation, and his comments were meant to “de-escalate a situation involving an unco-operative passenger.”

    Register said he’s worked hard since becoming chief in June to strengthen the relationship between the department and the community.

    “It’s sad to think that several seconds of video has the potential of tearing that apart, and I hope that is not the case,” he said, later adding, “This badge and this uniform should mean that there’s justice and fairness for all.”

    The department plans to rework its policies for reviewing videos to better catch problems, Register said.

    Read more:

    Police killings in U.S. linked to racial bias in community, Ryerson study finds

    Police chiefs blast Trump for seeming to endorse ‘police brutality’

    Register said he’s known Abbott for many years and has known him to be an honourable man. The report from the internal review indicates that Abbott was trying to be sarcastic and to address the situation as he perceived it, Register said.

    “He made a mistake,” Register said. “I don’t know what’s in his heart but I certainly know what came out of his mouth. It’s inexcusable.”

    Black community leaders applauded Register’s quick action.

    “Although we applaud them for their transparency in this regard, the officer’s interjection of race into the stop was particularly troubling and may be systematic, a deeper issue in the department,” said Deane Bonner of the Cobb County chapter of the NAACP.

    “Police misconduct is not news,” said Ben Williams, chairman of the Cobb County chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. “The real story here, in my opinion, is the behaviour of this police chief in Cobb County, Georgia.”

    “To be here today and to stand with Chief Register as he pulls the shades up and exposes the sunrise here in Cobb County as that pertains to the conduct of the Cobb County Police Department, that’s the news,” he added.


    0 0


    Call it the Ford conundrum.

    As Doug Ford promises to finally reveal his political plans for next year, some Progressive Conservatives are quietly looking for a way to talk the controversial ex-councillor out of running for them.

    The Tories view Ford as a double-edged sword: they know he is their only hope of winning Liberal-held Etobicoke North, but worry that his shoot-from-the-lip style could undermine leader Patrick Brown’s province-wide campaign in many other ridings next spring.

    “We don’t need him talking about how great Donald Trump is in the middle of the campaign; that’s not what Patrick is about,” said one wary PC insider, speaking on condition of anonymity in order to discuss internal deliberations.

    Ford said he finds it “comical” that anyone would think the Tories don’t want him to run provincially.

    “Never once. Total opposite. (Brown) has encouraged me to run. So has Walied (Soliman, the PC campaign chair) encouraged me to run. I’m welcome to run. They’re encouraging me to run,” he told the Star on Thursday.

    “They wouldn’t be doing that, asking me to go out to Sault Ste. Marie with them and door-knock and go out to all these events and speak on behalf of the MPPs and show up at events that he calls me to.”

    However, sources say Brown’s inner circle has been quietly working on a strategy that would allow the former one-term city councillor to bow out of a provincial run and still save face so he could take another shot at the Toronto mayoralty next year.

    Insiders say a senior Conservative emissary, such as a former premier or cabinet minister, could be asked to approach Ford to explain the problems his candidacy could cause for the rookie PC leader, who plans on running a centrist campaign.

    Tories admit the matter is delicate because of the egos involved and the fact they don’t want to alienate Ford, whose late father and namesake was a Tory MPP from 1995 to ’99.

    “Doug has been a good soldier; he was in Sault Ste. Marie pulling votes (for the June 1 byelection victory) and helped Raymond (Cho win Scarborough Rouge River byelection last Sept. 1),” said another top PC source.

    Political adviser Nick Kouvalis, who helped put both Doug’s late brother, Rob Ford, and Tory in the mayor’s office, tweeted this week that he expects Doug will announce he’s not running as an MPP.

    “I hear the PCs have rejected Doug Ford as a candidate and that is why Doug is rushing to save face before they publicly disallow him,” he said on Twitter.

    The two men are not on good terms despite their history together on Rob Ford’s victorious 2010 campaign.

    “Ford plays all for fools,” Kouvalis said in another tweet. “Announcing that he’s not running for MPP allows media to speculate for months about mayoralty. He craves attention.”

    Asked about that, Ford said: “That’s just Nick playing political games.”

    “I don’t buy all the Tory insider crap. I can guarantee you one thing: I have great respect for Patrick. I’ve been working my back off for him and the public ever since he’s been elected. And he’s going to be the next premier,” Ford said.

    Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals are hoping the outspoken Ford runs provincially, because they will use any of his pro-Trump statements, or other outrageous claims, to taint Brown.

    A cornerstone of Wynne’s June 7, 2018 re-election bid is to tie the Conservatives to the increasingly unpopular U.S. president.

    “We think it’s only fair to remind voters of what change for the sake of change can look like,” said one Liberal insider, speaking on background to discuss the party’s plans.

    Wynne, herself, outlined that Trump-centric strategy in a major speech Apr. 24.

    “We cannot simply assume that President Trump will do the right thing or make the right choices,” she warned.

    However, linking Brown to Trump in the minds of Ontarians is easier for the Liberals if a candidate such as Ford is on the ticket.

    Agriculture Minister Jeff Leal beamed when asked at Queen’s Park of Thursday about that prospect.

    “I know the leader of the opposition will expect Mr. Ford to abide by whatever platform elements that the leader of the opposition wants to talk about during an election campaign,” said Leal.

    “You’re always, every day, responsible for the comments you make during a campaign; it’s a team game,” he said.

    Health Minister Eric Hoskins noted that Brown may have enough challenges already since he has yet to tell Ontarians what he would do if elected.

    “Patrick has sufficient deficiencies in terms of his lack of policy that he’s been able to articulate,” said Hoskins, suggesting Ford could have an impact on this perceived challenge.

    “There may be other individuals that, if he can attract (them) to his campaign, that may sway things one way or the other.”

    Ford, 52, has always said his other option was an attempt to return to Toronto City Hall.

    But political observers believe Ford would face an uphill battle in a rematch against the still popular incumbent, who is seeking a second term.

    Ford, naturally, doesn’t see it that way.

    “I’m the only guy in the entire country who can give him a run for his money.”

    Tory has brushed aside any threat Ford’s candidacy may pose.

    In 2014, Tory captured 394,775 votes compared to Ford’s 330,610.

    That year, Doug Ford spent $558,724 of his own money to run for mayor after his brother Rob’s cancer diagnosis forced him to drop out in September. Doug Ford raised $356,167 in donations.

    Tory, 63, didn’t spend a nickel of his own money to get elected. He received $2.8 million from more than 5,000 donors, including many prominent names in the business world who donated the maximum $2,500.

    In 2015, Ford told the Toronto Sun he would drop a half million dollars “in a heartbeat” to run for public office at any level, municipal, provincially or federally.

    But the campaign finance rules have changed for 2018, and the maximum contribution a candidate can make to his or her own election campaign is $25,000.

    Previously, there was no limit on what a candidate could spend as long as he or she didn’t exceed the overall spending limit, which was $1.36 million in 2014.

    Ford played down the new spending cap, noting he had only “four weeks to raise money and put a campaign together” in 2014.

    “I don’t see a problem either way if I run provincially or if I run municipally about raising money.”

    Ford says he’ll announce his future plans at his family’s semi-regular Ford Fest barbeque next Friday in Etobicoke.


    0 0


    On the 11th floor of 890 Yonge St. lies wunderdog Iggy. He’s sleepy but still eager to show off his toys, begging for belly rubs and rolling onto his back with an orange plush fox in his mouth.

    At two years old Iggy — a Labrador-Bernese Mountain Dog cross — is not like most dogs.

    When ambulance sirens blare past below, he doesn’t flinch. He’s uniquely obedient, too. There’s the usual set of commands: up, off, sit, lie down.

    But there are others as well.

    He doesn’t walk until his dog-mom Karyn Kennedy says “forward.” When she says “visit,” he immediately rises and rests his head in her lap.

    These are the commands that make Iggy friend to even the most timid children.

    Iggy, trained by National Service Dogs, is the first dog approved to support children in Toronto courts.

    He’ll work with the Boost Child and Youth Advocacy Centre to guide victims through the court process’s interviews with police, medical exams and testimonies.

    Iggy has been trained to provide light pressure by putting his head in a child’s lap or deep pressure by lying across them. It’s his job to help boost a child’s sense of security and reduce anxiety through snuggles or reassuring nudges.

    The dogs that are picked for the Boost Accredited Reliable K9s (BARK) program are calm by nature, according to Danielle Forbes, the National Service Dogs’ executive director.

    “These children have suffered abuse and trauma. They can tend to be closed down, talking to adults especially if those adults seem big and scary and especially in a court situation that is very official,” Forbes said. “(Iggy’s) amazing at breaking down those barriers. (He’s) a non-judgmental ear so the children can tell their story to the dog.”

    Iggy’s behaviour acts as a model for the children to follow while in court.

    “If a dog is in there and they’re super chill, the children will tend to go there with them and feed off that low-energy, relaxed persona,” Forbes said.

    Interviewers can use Iggy to redirect a child’s attention too.

    “What I’ve seen personally is they’ll give the dog little kisses on the head and pet him and hug him. As they get more comfortable and more relaxed the story comes out,” Forbes added.

    Iggy is Boost’s second special canine. His friend Jersey recently began working out of their Peterborough office.

    The pair were bred by National Service Dogs, raised by volunteers from eight weeks to 18 months and then brought into kennels where they were trained by paid professionals. By two years old they were designated to Boost.

    Kennedy, who is also Boost’s CEO, has been Iggy’s handler since April. They ride the train to work together.

    Kennedy looks after Iggy’s busy schedule and makes sure he’s groomed and ready to go when Boost’s police officers (who work in the office on rotating shifts), children’s aid workers or court workers need him.

    All of the area judges have met Iggy and approved him for service in their courtrooms.

    “The kids love him, especially the adolescents, which we weren’t really expecting,” Kennedy said.

    Sponsored by the Canadian Pet Expo, Iggy will meet visitors as part of the Facility Dog Team at the Sept. 9-10 convention.

    A portion of the expo’s proceeds go to supporting both of Boost’s Ontario court dogs so that their services can be provided at no cost.

    “In today’s day and age whether it be stress, poor diets, poor sleeping, everybody needs that little bit of support,” said Grant Crossman, the expo’s director. “For kids, (Boost is) a phenomenal program for their PTSD.”

    On Sept. 11, Iggy will make his first of many appearances in court.

    “He’ll do this for the next 8-10 years and then he’ll retire,” Kennedy said, smiling. “He’s an amazing dog. I’ve had dogs my whole life, I’ve never had a dog like this before. He’s very, very intuitive. He seems to know what kids need. There’s something really special about him.”


    0 0


    OTTAWA—U.S. President Donald Trump, who threatened to walk away from NAFTA after complaining Canada and Mexico were being “difficult” at the negotiating table, now says he and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau agree on one thing: they both want a new NAFTA deal quickly.

    The White House released a statement saying Trump and Trudeau spoke Thursday about the North American Free Trade Agreement, and the two leaders “stressed their hope to reach an agreement by the end of this year.”

    Trudeau’s office made no mention of this in an official summary to Canadian media of the leaders’ conversation.

    The Prime Minister’s Office said only that Trudeau offered condolences and Canadian assistance for the recovery effort in flood-stricken zones in the southern U.S. (Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said the U.S. federal emergency management agency, FEMA, formally requested from Canada supplies such as hygiene kits and baby supplies for Hurricane Harvey victims.)

    Mexico has been pushing for a trade deal according to Trump’s timeline all along, ahead of presidential elections looming in Mexico next year.

    And it is Mexico that provided the clearest picture yet of how wide the gaps are as the second round of NAFTA talks begins Friday in Mexico City.

    Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo told Mexico’s Senate that failure at the NAFTA table is a real possibility, while the Canadians insist it’s early days yet.

    “We have to have an alternative plan perfectly prepared. A scenario without NAFTA is something we have to think about,” said Guajardo, according to an Associated Press report.

    Guajardo said key sticking points include U.S. demands to modify NAFTA’s dispute resolution process and tighten labour standards, and that about 15 of the 25 negotiating groups have run into differences after the first round of talks that ended Aug. 20 in Washington. Canadian officials won’t discuss this kind of detail.

    Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto dispatched top ministers to Washington to push back at Trump’s heated political rhetoric and to stress the need for serious negotiations, not threats. Mexico says it will work on a “Plan B” to diversify its trade options.

    In Montreal, Trudeau continued to project calm, telling the United Food and Commercial Workers Canada national convention on Thursday that his government is focused on increasing labour and environmental protections. “We’re going to get a fair deal for Canadian workers,” Trudeau said.

    Speaking on condition of anonymity, several senior Canadian officials told the Star that Trump’s threats are seen as “a negotiating tactic.” It was always known that this was “an arrow in their quiver,” said one official, although not one Canadians expected to be deployed at this early stage.

    Another senior official said nothing has materially changed, and it is hard to see “how that really affects the dynamics in Congress, which is where a deal has to be ratified if a new one is on the table.”

    However the Canadians believe John Kelly’s appointment as Trump’s chief of staff was a “good development” overall, because, while he hasn’t stopped the president from tweeting, the retired general knows Canada well. It’s said that during the state visit to Washington in February, at a meeting between Canadian ministers and Trump cabinet members, Kelly, then homeland security secretary, said “the only problem we have with the northern border is that it’s too slow.”

    Some stakeholders who are advising the Canadian negotiating team say Canada has nothing to fear from Trump’s rhetoric. They want Canada to toughen its own stand at the bargaining table in favour of strong labour and environmental protections.

    Read more:

    9 key terms you’ll need to know for the NAFTA negotiations

    Trump’s NAFTA bluster all about him, not us: Tim Harper

    Trump tweets threat to pull out of NAFTA talks, calling Canada ‘very difficult’

    Speaking from Mexico City, Jerry Dias — national president of Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union, representing more than 310,000 workers — called Trump’s threats “comical,” adding if the U.S. were to walk away now, it could hurt American autoworkers even more.

    Dias argues if NAFTA is terminated and no longer applied to the auto industry, the default would be a 2.5-per-cent tariff that the U.S. applies to imported vehicles. “At least in Canada, our tariff on imported vehicles is 6.1 per cent,” he said. Dias said American, German and Japanese auto companies would be happy to pay a 2.5-per-cent tariff and move even more production to Mexico, where labour and environmental protections are lax. Dias says if Trump is serious about raising labour standards to ensure a level playing field, he would have to insist on enforceability and significant penalties, which would, then, also mean taking on American states in the south that have right-to-work or anti-strike laws, and put up barriers to unionization or free collective bargaining.

    “The emperor has no clothes,” said Dias.

    Dias says Canada has proposed adhering to international labour standards, but the U.S. is unlikely to agree, having signed only two of eight International Labour Organization conventions. “So they (the U.S.) are going to have to do a lot more than just talk tough, because it doesn’t scare anybody.”

    Dias wants Canada to insist on tougher rules for North American content in autos and auto parts. Dias says U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has indicated to him he wants a “significant” increase in American content, but Dias wouldn’t reveal the number Ross told him.

    With files from The Canadian Press


    0 0


    WASHINGTON—As high water spreads from Houston through Texas and Louisiana, authorities are bracing for an inevitable wave of fraud and other criminal activity set into motion by Harvey’s punishing rains.

    In a warning to those who would seek to defraud the government and people wanting to help or seeking assistance, a dozen federal and state agencies were banding together to investigate and prosecute wrongdoers.

    Federal and state officials are warning residents, volunteers and officials in flood zones in Texas and Louisiana they could be targeted by storm-related scams, contract corruption, document fraud, identity theft and other crimes. They emphasize that the easy availability of personal information and documents on the internet has widened criminal activities and potential victims to anywhere in the U.S.

    “Protect yourself and your wallet from unscrupulous operators,” warned a new flyer by the Texas attorney general, whose office had received nearly 700 complaints by late Wednesday. Most alleged price gouging but a few reported fraud, said Kayleigh Lovvorn, a spokesperson for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

    A disaster-related task force headed by Justice Department officials and other authorities has operated since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It has arrested and prosecuted defendants for disaster-related crimes, including more than 1,460 in connection with crimes associated with Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Those prosecutions, between 2005 and 2011, targeted defendants in 49 federal districts across the country — a clear indication that criminal activities spawned by Harvey could originate anywhere.

    “We recognize that much of the fraud may occur in areas far removed from the disaster,” said Corey Amundson, the acting U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Louisiana. Amundson is also the executive director of the National Center for Disaster Fraud, the Baton Rouge-based federal task force.

    In a sign of the magnitude of fraud anticipated in Harvey’s wake, federal and state law enforcement officials formed a working group to investigate and prosecute illegal activity stemming from the hurricane. Houston-based Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez said storm victims had already suffered devastation and “the last thing that victims of the damage need is to be victimized again.” The relationship, if any, between the new working group and the existing task force wasn’t clear.

    After Katrina, many of the task force’s early criminal prosecutions targeted those accused of fraudulently obtaining emergency assistance funds intended to help storm and flood victims. The unit’s scrutiny broadened to people and companies that filed fraudulent home repair and disaster loan applications and also to contract and kickback schemes involving corrupt public officials.

    Read more:

    Rescuers start block-by-block search of flooded Houston

    Explosion rocks flood-crippled plant near Houston, emergency crews warn of more danger

    Harvey is moving on. These 23 photos show what the storm left behind

    Among officials investigated by the task force were Benjamin Edwards Sr., a former New Orleans city sewerage director who pleaded guilty in 2010 to wire fraud and tax evasion for soliciting more than $930,700 in payoffs from hurricane cleanup contractors — and Gregory Brent Warr, the former mayor of Gulfport, Mississippi, who admitted guilt in 2009 for improperly receiving federal disaster funds.

    The U.S. Government Accountability Office criticized the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other federal agencies for loose scrutiny of disaster relief and recovery spending after Katrina. Walt Green, a Baton Rouge lawyer and former U.S. attorney in Baton Rouge, said FEMA and other federal agencies have tightened oversight during recent disasters, but are still overrun after each new disaster with fraudulent addresses, personal information and other spurious documentation.

    “Identify fraud is the newest angle,” said Green. “You can find long lists of social security numbers of the dark web and people are purchasing them to use after disasters.”

    Green, who led the federal disaster task force between 2013 and last March, said some criminal activity likely spiked even before Harvey’s landfall last week. Green said hurricane-related internet addresses — often with wording stressing storm charity and relief — are quickly purchased in the hours before a hurricane’s landfall. Some web addresses later surface in charity scams that bilk unsuspecting donors or lure viewers to virus-infected sites.

    “Without a doubt, charity fraud is going on right now,” Green said.

    On Wednesday, the government-funded Multi-State Information Sharing & Analysis Center reported more than 500 domain names associated with Harvey had been registered over the preceding week. The majority of those names, the centre reported, used words associated with philanthropy and aid, including “help,” “relief,” “donate” and “victims.”

    The centre warned of “the potential for misinformation” and that “malicious actors are also using social media to post false information or links to malicious websites.”

    Four domain names referencing Harvey and the words “relief,” “fund” and “recovery” were listed for auction on eBay.com earlier this week, starting at $5,000 each. James Streigel, a northern California man who acknowledged offering them for sale, said he had no malicious intent and intended to sell them to the highest bidder. Streigel said his listings also carried notices saying he would donate 20 per cent of his earnings to the American Red Cross.

    He acknowledged to The Associated Press that he had no way of preventing prospective buyers from using the domain names for criminal activity. “We can’t be sure of anything these days,” Streigel said.

    Hours later, an eBay spokesman, Ryan Moore, said the listings had been removed from eBay’s site. “We’ve issued a warning to this seller that these listings violate eBay policy,” Moore said.

    The site’s “offensive material policy” prohibits listings that “attempt to profit from human tragedy or suffering, or that are insensitive to victims of such events.”


    0 0


    An 18-year-old woman is in critical condition after being shot in the face outside a popular 24-hour restaurant in Mississauga early Friday morning, police say.

    Just before 1 a.m., Peel Regional Police were called to Zet’s Restaurant on Airport Rd., near Pearson airport, and found the young woman suffering from gunshot wounds. She had been shot while sitting in the driver’s seat of her vehicle in the restaurant parking lot, police say, and was rushed to hospital in what paramedics describe as critical, but not life-threatening condition. Another woman was in the car at the time of the shooting, but was unharmed.

    The victim was allegedly involved in a verbal altercation inside the restaurant shortly before the shooting. As she was sitting in her car outside afterwards, another vehicle approached, and someone fired upon her from within the second vehicle. The assailants, believed to be the two men she had argued with earlier, then fled the scene in their vehicle.

    Police are looking for two suspects, both described as men in their 20s. One was last seen wearing a black Nike hoodie and blue jeans, and the other had a black zip-up hoodie, a white t-shirt and blue jeans.

    The restaurant was open at the time. No one else was harmed, but police say there were numerous witnesses in the area and that they are cooperating in the investigation. Police are asking anyone who was in the area at the time of the shooting to contact them.


    0 0


    MINNEAPOLIS —What happens to home improvement products that U.S. shoppers return or ship back to stores or Amazon.com?

    Retailers won’t risk that a cordless drill, circular saw or dorm fridge could have been abused or be missing a part. Instead, they sell them to people like Jimmy Vosika at 15 to 35 cents on the dollar.

    Vosika founded the TV parts and accessories site ShopJimmy.com. After friends in the corporate returns division at a national retailer persuaded him to buy some of their returned goods, he opened MN Home Outlet three years ago in Burnsville, Minn. From a start in a 1,500-square-foot space, its retail store now takes up 50,000 square feet.

    Read more:

    Online shopping drives surge in holiday returns, and what happens next may surprise

    When it comes to back-to-school shopping, consumers prefer to hit the mall

    Online thrift shop ThredUp expands frugal offerings into Canada

    “We’re Home Depot without the lumber,” Vosika said. Contractors, remodelers, flippers, DIYers and cheapskates are frequent customers for products that were sold and returned to companies such as Amazon, Home Depot, Target and Walmart.

    Vosika is one of the recent successes in the reverse logistics or liquidated returns business. The amount of goods that U.S. consumers are returning has become so large that entrepreneurs are buying them to resell them at a profit.

    In its first year of business, MN Home sold $870,000 (U.S.) in merchandise. This year, it’s on track for $11 million in revenue. In some months, sales at the outlet store exceed those at Shopjimmy.com, which has about $20 million in annual sales.

    Amazon alone feeds the need by accumulating hundreds of trailer loads of returns each week, said Irwin Jacobs, founder of Jacobs Trading in Hopkins, Minn., which specializes in opportunistic buying. He just opened Dock 1 Bargains with a large assortment of furniture, hardware, TVs, patio sets and appliances. An assembled 19-inch, two-burner Member’s Mark gas grill was $140 last month, compared to $200 new and unassembled from Samsclub.com.

    Even entrepreneurs with no retail experience are getting in on the action. Any hobbyist intent on making “beer” money can buy a pallet of returns from a website such as Liquidation.com, a local auction house or a reverse logistics company such as Event Sales in Hopkins, Minn.

    Alan Barringer of Big Lake, Minn., purchased several pallets of Home Depot items from Auction Masters in Maple Grove, Minn. “We’d get Swiffer WetJets and sell them at flea markets and garage sales and make a little money,” he said.

    Like any treasure hunt, shopping at a liquidator usually requires time and patience. Similar items are usually grouped together, but shoppers may have to comb through the store like a garage sale.

    One of the problems with buying retailers’ returns is condition. Wholesale buyers sometimes know what is in their shipment, but they are clueless about whether electrical or mechanical equipment functions properly. Consumers won’t usually take a chance on an electrical item, even at 50 per cent off, without a money-back guarantee. That puts liquidators in a position of deciding whether to test each electronic item.

    Vosika gives customers a 14-day return policy on defective electrical or mechanical items. Others give seven days or charge a 20 per cent restocking fee.

    Mohamad Khouli, who owns Mid Metro Discount Warehouse in St. Paul, Minn., found that testing each mechanical item took a toll.

    “We changed what we are getting,” he said. “We stopped carrying tools and saws because they require more labour and expense to test them.”

    His store focuses on bathroom and kitchen remodelling and decor. Although his stores are much smaller than MN Home Outlet, he offers a higher-quality product, he said, in a well-organized space.

    He buys returns from regional warehouses of Home Depot, Lowe’s and Costco. Business is good at his St. Paul location although he recently closed a store in Columbia Heights, Minn.

    Bob Bushey of DealSmart liquidation in Mounds View, Minn., said the business is having its best year since it opened 2008. “The supply of merchandise in all categories is better than ever before thanks to the dot-coms,” he said.

    Nearly 30 per cent of purchases made online are returned, according to Worldwide Business Research. That’s triple the return rate for items purchased in stores.

    Bushey thinks that consumers are realizing that shopping liquidation can be a better deal in physical stores than online. “People assume that buying on the internet is always a better value than what you can get in stores,” he said. “That’s so far from the truth. There is so much more product available to us now that we can be more selective and more creative.”

    Vosika said customers don’t have to take his word that liquidation prices are lower. He often sees customers using their smartphones to compare MN Home’s prices with other retailers. “We expect it,” he said.


    0 0


    Police have identified the man who was shot and killed inside a North York mall Thursday evening.

    Jovane Clarke, 22, of Toronto, was found inside Sheridan Mall after police responded to reports of a shooting at 6:30 p.m., said Det. Sgt. Mike Carbone.

    Paramedics who responded to the call said the victim was suffering from gunshot wounds to the head.

    What investigators know at this point is that Clarke drove to the mall near Jane St. and Wilson Ave. and parked in the southern parking lot. Four people targeted him as he got out of his vehicle and at least two of them had guns, Carbone said.

    One of the suspects chased Clarke into the mall and continued to shoot at him. There were multiple gunshots fired both inside and outside the mall, Carbone said. There were a number of people in the mall when the shooting took place, police said.

    Police are looking for four suspects. All are described as black men in their mid-20s, wearing dark clothing.

    An autopsy was scheduled for later Friday.

    Witnesses with information on this shooting are asked to contact police or Crime Stoppers.

    Clarke is the 35th homicide victim this year in Toronto. At the end of August last year, there were 55 homicides.


    0 0


    The 15-year-old boy who died after he was shot by Peel police in late July was an outgoing Mississauga high school student who recently came to Canada from Jamaica to start a new life.

    Ozama Shaw — among the youngest people killed by police in Ontario — died at the Hospital for Sick Children on Saturday, after undergoing 11 surgeries and procedures in 30 days to treat a gunshot wound to his abdomen. Crowded around his hospital bed when he died were his mother, stepfather and 17-year-old brother.

    “They allowed me to go on the bed with him, so I held him,” Kadene, his mother, said in an interview in her Mississauga home this week, tears running down her face. “I still refused to believe, because I didn’t want to let go of my baby. It was the hardest thing to do.”

    Shaw’s name and the details of his final days are available only because the family confirmed his identity to the Star.

    His death is under investigation by Ontario’s police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), which said earlier this week that it would not release the name of the young male. Jason Gennaro, a spokesperson for the SIU, told the Star in an email that the watchdog did not have family consent to release the name of the youth, which the family confirmed to the Star.

    Gennaro also said the SIU has a separate policy about naming youth, but did not provide the details by press time Thursday.

    Critics of the SIU naming policy argue the identities of the deceased in police shootings are critical to understanding and preventing such deaths.

    Shaw was shot in the early hours of July 27 in Mississauga’s Credit Valley Town Plaza, where Peel police had been called for a gas station robbery. According to police, the teen had been part of a trio trying to rob the station. The SIU said two of the males then fled in a car, while the third stayed behind, attempted to rob another business and tried to gain entry into three occupied vehicles.

    One witness told the Star that an armed male attempted to get into her car and pointed a gun at her, but that she scared him off and called 911.

    Surveillance footage obtained by CBC News also shows a young male armed with a gun attempting to rob a Pizza Pizza. In the video, which had no sound, the cashier reaches for the gun and grabs the barrel, then lets go and backs up, hands in the air. The SIU has not confirmed that Shaw was armed when he was shot.

    For Shaw’s family, the events of July 27 are difficult to reconcile with the outgoing student who would have been starting Grade 10, a teen who played offensive lineman on his football team and riddled family and strangers alike with questions.

    “He had a very curious mind. He just wanted to know things,” Kadene said.

    In their Mississauga home, Shaw smiles warmly in a large framed photo on the family’s dining room table, donning a cap and gown at his 2016 graduation from Tomken Road Middle School. A sympathy card from neighbours in the family’s tight-knit condo building is propped up next to it. Shaw’s prized BMX bike leans against the wall outside.

    Shaw’s older brother is upstairs, doing well considering the circumstances, Kadene said.

    She pulls out her phone and begins swiping through photos of Shaw, first as a boy in his native Jamaica, then as a young man in Canada. She stops at a picture of him sitting in the window seat of a plane on Sept. 14, 2015 — his first flight, on his way to Canada after obtaining permanent residency status. “That was a very exciting day for us,” Kadene said.

    “When the chance came up for him to socialize or do something that was adventurous, he just couldn’t resist,” said David, his stepfather, who bonded with Shaw on waterslides during his visits to Jamaica before Shaw’s move to Canada.

    Shaw’s family says he was doing well in his new home — he enjoyed his teachers and loved Canada, snow and all. But more recently, they say he had fallen into the wrong crowd and had friends Kadene didn’t approve of. He was a good kid, they said, but he had started acting out, coming home well after curfew or disappearing for days at a time.

    They believe that at the time of the shooting, Shaw may have been on the party drug “molly,” also known as MDMA, the active ingredient in ecstasy.

    David and Kadene also believe Shaw was carrying a toy or BB gun. David said he doesn’t understand why the three drivers Shaw allegedly approached wouldn’t have simply given up their cars if they believed the gun was real.

    In the days before the shooting, Shaw had barely been home. Kadene said she called Peel police to report that he was missing six days before the shooting.

    She said an officer came by the house a couple of days after she reported him missing and took a statement, but nothing came of it. David and Kadene also claim they asked the Children’s Aid Society if Shaw could be placed in temporary care, so he would be looked after when he refused to come home. “I begged for help,” Kadene said.

    Sgt. Josh Colley, spokesperson for Peel Regional Police, said in an email Thursday that because the SIU is involved, he had “minimal knowledge of the incident.”

    Two days before the shooting, Kadene said Shaw came home briefly for a shower. She said she tried to find out where he had been and what was happening, but he refused to answer and left.

    While watching the news early on July 27, she saw that a teen had been shot by police in Mississauga and instantly knew it was her son — “I could just feel it,” she said.

    The SIU contacted her on her cellphone as she was driving to the police station with Shaw’s identification, which he never carried. Watchdog investigators then took her to Sick Kids hospital, where she kept vigil until her son’s death.

    For the first few weeks, Shaw was conscious but could not talk, so he nodded his head, blinked his eyes and squeezed hands to answer questions. But he later lost consciousness, the family said.

    After he died, the family donated Shaw’s muscle and tissue; he had been too sick to donate organs.

    Asked how she felt about police actions, Kadene said she has been solely focusing on her son, but that her family in Jamaica are in disbelief that he was killed by police in Canada.

    “He deserved another chance. He had so much potential,” David said.

    David said he and his wife are “eternally grateful” for staff at Sick Kids and Ronald McDonald House, where Kadene stayed during her son’s hospitalization.

    The family is now attempting to raise money to take Shaw’s body back to Jamaica, where his father, grandparents, aunts and childhood friends are reeling over the death. They are expecting hundreds of people at his celebration of life. He was well loved by everyone back home, David said.

    “He always made sure everyone knew him,” he said.

    Shaw is believed to be the youngest person killed by police in Ontario, alongside 15-year-old Duane Christian, who was killed by Toronto police in Scarborough in 2006.

    Wendy Gillis can be reached at wgillis@thestar.ca .


    0 0
  • 09/01/17--10:30: Tiff 2017 capsule reviews

  • Star movie critic Peter Howell, entertainment reporter Bruce DeMara, and freelancers Linda Barnard and Jennie Punter on the films they’ve seen — and a few they can’t wait to watch. Use our interactive to sift through their recommendations. Visit this page for more TIFF capsule reviews to come.


    0 0


    Torontonians can expect to pay more than $1.30 for a litre of gasoline by Saturday as prices continue to surge in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

    Motorists awoke to a hike of about five cents a litre on Friday, and will likely see the price to rise another nine cents on Saturday, says petroleum analyst Dan McTeague.

    That will put the average price of gas in Toronto at $1.329, a spike in prices more severe than what was seen during Hurricane Katrina, says McTeague, the former Pickering MP who runs the price-tracking website gasbuddy.com.

    “We’re already 20 cents a litre above what we were eight days ago before the storm, so this is by far and away the most serious and most impactful,” McTeague said, comparing Harvey to past storms.

    Hurricanes Katrina and Ike each brought between 12 to 14 cents per litre increase to Toronto, but so far, Harvey is at 20 cents, McTeague explained.

    Saturday’s prices, which could hit a high last seen by Toronto drivers in September 2014, are set to hold at the pumps at least until Thursday, he said.

    Major gasoline refineries in the U.S. were shut down by Harvey, which also caused the temporary shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline – what McTeague calls the “aortic artery” of gasoline transportation for the US Atlantic Coast.

    In Canada, prices are also affected by a lack of competition among gasoline wholesalers and taxes, McTeague explained.

    "We have seen prices go up in a nanosecond. That doesn't happen anywhere else in the world,” he said.

    It could be two to three weeks before refineries are up and running again, according to McTeague.

    "Ten days ago, we were $1.10. We're now at $1.329 tomorrow," he said. "That's a pretty big impact."

    In Toronto, some drivers decided to hit the pumps early to save a few dollars before the price hike.

    As he filled up his car at Leslieville Pumps Friday morning, David Miller said he was worried about the impending price hike.

    "Even yesterday…I was going to the gym in the morning and it was $1.05, then by the time I came out in an hour it was at $1.18. So that was a little scary," said Miller, adding he expected to see more people in line at the gas station.

    As much as the hurricane-induced gas hikes might be inconvenient, he said he's more worried about the people in Texas right now.

    "So I think we start with the people first, but it's obviously, it sucks economically," said Miller.

    A long line of cars stretched from the pumps at the Costco in Etobicoke Friday morning.

    Robin Stuart was back for the third time that day trying to get gas – when he first came at 7:30 a.m., he said the lineup was backed up down to the Queensway.

    "It was just too much, I'd be burning too much more gas. It's totally inefficient," he said.

    Rajeev Viswanathan waited about 20 minutes for gas at Costco on Friday – but he's waited longer in the past.

    "I heard the gas prices are going up another dime tomorrow, and Costco's pretty good, it's cheaper," he said, adding his tank is empty and he would have probably waited in line anyway. "It's all Houston-related, I think it's temporary. It'll go back down."


    0 0


    Ontario tenants will have more protection from eviction starting Friday.

    That’s when new measures aimed at stopping landlords from turfing people from their rental units will take effect.

    Effective Friday, when a landlord ends a tenancy to have family members move in, people evicted must receive compensation.

    “When a tenant is evicted through no fault of their own, they are forced to scramble to find new accommodations and cover the costs of a sudden move,” Housing Minister Peter Milczyn said in a statement.

    Landlords will have to pay one month’s rent to the evicted tenant or offer him or her another comparable rental unit.

    There will also be a new measure in place to ensure that an apartment isn’t vacated, ostensibly for a relative, and, less than one year later, rented out to someone else.

    “If the landlord advertises, re-rents or demolishes/converts the unit within one year, she or he will be considered to have acted in bad faith, unless they can prove otherwise and could face a fine of up to $25,000,” the government says.

    “The new measures will help protect tenants by discouraging landlords from unlawfully evicting them, whether for conversion of the unit into a short-term rental or immediately re-renting it at a higher rate.”

    Milczyn, who is also the minister responsible for Ontario’s poverty-reduction strategy, said the aim is to help “make that transition easier” for tenants forced to move.

    The minister said, in some cases, it could “prevent it from happening at all, by curbing unlawful evictions.”

    Friday’s changes are part of sweeping tenant-protection protections imposed this year.

    Residential rent increases are capped at 1.8 per cent next year unless landlords apply to housing authorities for more.

    But those who renovate their units can apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for increases based on the amount of money spent on improvements.

    Rent controls were expanded by Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government in April.

    In all, there are about 1.2 million private rental units in Ontario.


    0 0


    New York’s Parks Commissioner, Mitchell Silver, has a theory that there are two kinds of cities when it comes to how they are built: plan-making cities and deal-making cities.

    He mentioned this during a panel discussion in Toronto at the Economic Club of Canada luncheon last November.

    Some places have these rules laid out in a plan that people follow. In other places, the rules amount, in effect, to a proposal to “make us an offer.”

    Toronto’s chief planner, Jennifer Keesmaat, was on the panel. She immediately nodded as if he’d crystallized something elusive and essential.

    Toronto, she said, is totally a deal-making city.

    And the concept does seem to crystallize a lot about how Toronto development happens (or doesn’t) and the flare-ups in the news we hear about it along the way.

    I was reminded of this exchange this week as I followed the arguments about a proposed eight-storey condo building on Davenport, opposed by Margaret Atwood, Galen Weston and some other high-profile Annex residents.

    The contours of the arguments are by now familiar: “Developers running roughshod over the rules that protect our neighbourhoods” on one side versus “entitled NIMBYs hate new housing” on the other.

    We know this fight because we have it all the time.

    It can be fun! It plays to our snobberies and assumptions.

    The one-liners are already written.

    “This is an illegal assault on our community!”

    “This is just what the city needs in a housing crisis and what our guidelines call for!”

    “Which developer greased your palms?”

    “Why do you hate those less fortunate than you?”

    If some nuance is lost about what people really want or don’t want, that’s just standard operating procedure.

    In fact, I think the system we have — call it Let’s-Make-a-Deal city-building — virtually ensures we have these fights, again and again.

    I don’t know if that’s for better or for worse.

    But it’s certainly not for easy understanding.

    Let’s go back to Silver’s point: Toronto does have a plan. Officially. It’s called the “Official Plan.”

    And it calls for intensification — more units for people to live in — on main streets, such as Davenport. Specifically, it says we need to accomplish this by getting developers to build mid-rise buildings.

    An eight-storey building on a street such as Davenport is something we want to encourage.

    That’s the plan.

    But that isn’t the rule.

    The rules, laid out in the zoning bylaws, say that you cannot build anything higher than two storeys, unless you get a specific exemption from the bylaw. Any neighbour could look at that and plainly see: an eight-storey building on that street is a violation of the bylaw! It’s against the rules!

    So our plan says we want to encourage something, and our rules seem to say that same something is forbidden.

    What’s that all about?

    Deal-making.

    The zoning bylaws are not intended to be interpreted as rules that explain what the city wants and expects. In fact, many of the homes and businesses that have been standing for generations in our most apparently successful and beloved neighbourhoods do not conform to the zoning bylaws. These aren’t rules; they are the opening offer in negotiations.

    If you’re a builder, you can take them as they are and have no further fuss, or you can make a counter-offer.

    For instance, you could propose building something that the city, in it’s official plan, says it wants to encourage.

    And then the negotiations continue: neighbours get to weigh in and ask for changes; the city might ask for cash for community benefits through Section 37 of the planning act; the developer might offer to trade one thing (a floor of height or a certain number of parking spots) for another (giving cash for a park, or changing the building materials, or including some affordable units).

    And, if no one can come to a deal, then the Ontario Municipal Board can rule for one side or another. The OMB has long stood as the ultimate judge in this adversarial framework.

    There are benefits to the city, and city councillors, from this system: they get to be involved, site-by-site in designing any proposed building and can extract dollars to build community amenities.

    Councillor Gord Perks has explained, on Twitter, that the zoning bylaws and accompanying process shouldn’t be interpreted as forbidding anything, but as identifying a threshold at which community consultation and approval is needed.

    It’s a threshold at which you need to get democracy involved in development . . . if you look at it from a certain perspective.

    But there are drawbacks; it’s natural that people who live in a neighbourhood will object to changes to it, especially changes that might give them less privacy, or create more traffic on their street, or spoil their view, or bring down their property values.

    Very often they are right that the change will have some negative effect on them, even if it benefits the city.

    Now, if there were clear rules saying that something was allowed to be built, then those objections might be washed away as just the way things work in the big city.

    But the existence of zoning bylaws that depict the proposal as “illegal” will only tend to harden their conviction that they are being wronged by a shady developer, and give fuel to their rhetorical depiction of the change as unjustified.

    And, in the meantime, the deal-making nature of the process gives incentives to everyone involved to begin at more extreme ends of the spectrum than they otherwise would, so that any compromise that they settle on ends up closer to what they actually want.

    Developers have often said it can be as hard, long and expensive to negotiate a midrise building as it is a highrise — and much less profitable.

    So why not go up, up, up, if you’re going to endure the hassle anyway?

    Would we be better off with clear plan-based rules, than with case-by-case deal-making? I don’t know. Silver said unequivocally that New York, where he works, is a deal-making city. But I see online that he’s given lectures saying plan-based cities can be most successful, because of the clarity they offer, and that, in deal-making cities, plans “lose credibility and public trust.”

    What does seem obvious to me is that the Selfish NIMBY vs. Greedy Developer headline battles we usually see are a perhaps inevitable byproduct of the way the oppositional case-by-case development system is built. These fights are just part of the deal.


    0 0


    MIAMI―Out of nowhere, the Caribbean Airline Ticketing Center on the edge of Miami’s Little Haiti neighbourhood started receiving unusual customer requests. About 40 people a week were booking flights from Fort Lauderdale to Plattsburgh, N.Y., a short drive from the Canada-U.S. border.

    “We didn’t even know where the town was until it all started,” said Regine Maximilien, who operates the travel agency with her husband, Pierre.

    The customers were Haitian. The transactions included desperate stories of the journeys people had taken to get this far and the admission that they were on the move once again ― this time headed for Canada.

    “These poor Haitian people have endured so much misery,” Pierre Maximilienlamented.

    Since the wave of migration began in July, Plattsburgh has been the destination for thousands of predominately Haitian nationals making refugee claims in Canada. They arrive by bus or airplane, and then take a taxi up to a ditch in the middle of a sleepy country route that connects Roxham Rd. in the town of Champlain, N.Y., to Chemin Roxham in the village of Hemmingford, Que.

    Once in Canada, the migrants are detained and processed by border agents to begin the process of claiming asylum.

    Some are facing imminent deportation to Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the hemisphere. It’s a place where, as the U.S. government notes, endemic poverty, corruption and low levels of education “have contributed to the government’s longstanding (in)ability to adequately provide for the security, health and safety of its citizenry.”

    Many others are recipients of a special immigration designation in the United States, known as a Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, which has been granted to more than 300,000 people from 10 countries in the grip of conflict or ravaged by disasters.

    About 58,000 Haitians in the U.S. received this special status after the 2010 earthquake that levelled the capital, Port-au-Prince, and killed more than 200,000 people. In May, it was extended for the fourth time, because of the slow rebuilding effort, a massive housing shortage, a cholera epidemic that killed 10,000, and a hurricane last year that tore through the country, which shares the island of Hispanola with the Dominican Republic . But, this time, the extension was just for six months and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security sent letters urging people to use the time to get their papers in order and prepare to go home.

    Instead, many have made their way to Roxham Rd. and into Canada.

    Some seem to have been lured by a frequently cited seven-month-old tweet from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau posted in response to a proposed ban on travellers from Muslim countries entering the United States. Others have been guided by widely shared videos on social media giving dubious advice.

    One video was recorded July 23 outside a YMCA shelter in Montreal that serves as an emergency residence for refugee claimants. As of this week, it had been viewed 116,000 times on Facebook and been shared by 5,500 people. The man in the video addresses viewers in Haitian Creole before switching to English to reiterate his message.

    “Come to Canada! They opened the door for the Haitians, for the other nations that don’t have papers. You can come here like the same as me. I came in 2007 and now I am a Canadian,” the man said, pulling a Canadian passport from his back pocket. “I am from Florida. All my family lives there, but now I am in Montreal. We are waiting for you!”

    The perception that Canada has simply opened its borders to those fleeing President Donald Trump’s anti-immigration policies prompted the Canadian government to dispatch Haitian-born Montreal Liberal MP Emmanuel Dubourg to Miami last week to explain, among other things, that about half of all Haitian refugee claims were denied in Canada in 2016.

    The tough message may be getting through. From a peak average of 250 people a day crossing into Canada, the daily numbers have slowed to about 100, said Scott Bardsley, a spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.

    Regine and Pierre Maximilien’s travel agency hasn’t sold a flight to Plattsburgh in the past week.

    The migratory flight to Canada is taking its toll in Florida, which is home to more than 40 per cent of the Haitian diaspora living in the U.S.

    Desperation and panic are widespread.

    Edelyne Jean received the Homeland Security letter urging her to prepare to return to Haiti, but she refuses to accept the possibility the life she has built here could be so suddenly taken away.

    “I prayed. I prayed to change my mind. . . . I believe in God, so I know he will do something,” she said after finishing work as a nurse’s assistant in Hollywood, Fla., and before heading to the library to study for a test to become a registered nurse.

    The 35-year-old left her home in Cap-Haïtien on a boat with two dozen others in June 2007. It took two weeks to reach the United States. Once here, she learned English, then enrolled in nursing school.

    “I built a life here. I want to stay here,” she said. “Before Trump, I felt like I an American. Before him, I felt like I was home.”

    Jan Mapou, who runs the Libreri Mapou bookstore in Little Haiti, said the January 2018 deadline, when the TPS designations will either be renewed or expire, has sent a chill through the community. People are selling houses and possessions. Children have been pulled out of school. Those who have not already left are drawing up plans.

    The Haitians with TPS who are still in Miami are the fighters, the ones with long-shot options or those holding out hope that the Trump administration will reverse course and grant them an extension.

    They are people such as Gerdine Verssagne, who was nine months pregnant when she arrived in the United States by boat on March 13, 2009. Thirteen days later, she gave birth to a little girl, an American citizen. She has since had a son. He’s 5 and also has U.S. citizenship.

    Verssagne works as a housekeeper at the opulent Fontainbleau Hotel in Miami Beach and is a union representative with Unite Here, which represents hospitality workers.

    “I don’t like when people put me down, so I always like to stand up for myself,” she said, speaking through a Haitian Creole interpreter.

    Her children are blissfully unaware of the dilemma that their mother faces, but Verssagne said she is stressed and scared. A friend left for Montreal less than two weeks ago, but she has decided to stay, particularly because her sister, two other children and a niece in Haiti rely on her for financial support. Most recently she sent $1,000 of her $1,400 salary to help pay for tuition and school supplies.

    “I’m going to wait and see what they’re going to do,” she said, referring to the Trump administration, which must decide by late November if it will again extend the TPS for Haitians or allow the protections to expire on Jan. 23.

    “If nothing happens here, I’ve decided I will take my kids and move to Canada.”

    None of this was what the Haitian community in Miami, where almost half of the Haitian expatriates in the United States live, had been expecting.

    One year ago, when Trump visited Little Haiti as the Republican presidential nominee, he spoke words that are quoted verbatim in nearly every discussion about TPS recipients: “Whether you vote for me or not, I really want to be your biggest champion.”

    Some Haitians even voted for Trump instead of Hillary Clinton, angry about how the Clinton Foundation had managed the rebuilding effort in Haiti after the earthquake.

    “The Haitians with TPS feel generally that President Trump, himself, will not keep his promise, because of the way the administration has been targeting immigrants,” said Marleine Bastien, executive director of Haitian Women of Miami, a group holds community meetings every second Thursday to provide information to TPS holders and rally support for an extension.

    “We were shocked when our community organizer called for our organizing meeting last week. A lot of people answered that they were already in Canada,” she said.

    Bastien has been advising those with TPS to stay, wait and fight for an extension, rather than risk being deported from Canada to Haiti, but she understands the fears that motivate them.

    “It must be the hardest decision any parent has to make, but they feel they are doing the best to protect their families,” she said. “It’s all about finding stability and a safe haven. Any human being placed in that position could understand why.”

    Rony Ponthieux, who was dressed in blue scrubs after finishing his shift as a registered nurse at a Miami Beach hospital, said he is also thinking of his two U.S.-born children, who are 16 and 10. Their future is what drives the 48-year-old, who came to the U.S. in 1999, to gather the papers necessary so an Orlando hospital can sponsor him for a U.S. work visa. If that doesn’t work out, Ponthieux said, his family will probably try its luck in Canada.

    Alex Saint Surin, owner of the Radio Mega network, which broadcasts in Haitian Creole to listeners in Miami and Haiti, is using his platform to support the campaign to extend the TPS, but he believes Haitians are obligated to work toward the political, economic and social improvement of their native land.

    “I’m not for people going to Canada; I’m for them staying in their country and build their country,” he said at Radio Mega’s Miami studio, a day after returning from Haiti.

    At the moment, he admitted, the burden of offering employment and education for so many people returning from the U.S. is too great for Haiti.

    “The numbers talk for themselves; there are 4.5 million people willing to take a job, who want a job. But officially we have 250,000 who have got a job, and what kind of pay have they got?” Saint Surin asked. “It will be a very heavy burden for the country if all those people come back.”

    Farah Larrieux refuses to consider the possibility that she could be ordered out of the U.S. The first time she faced deportation, it nearly ruined her.

    She arrived in 2005 and married a Haitian-American, but her citizenship claim was rejected and deportation proceedings began in 2007. The stress ended the marriage. She was depressed and said she thought about suicide. In 2009, she was months away from being deported when the earthquake hit and Haitians citizens living in the U.S. were granted a reprieve.

    “The earthquake saved a lot of people. You can say it. The earthquake helped a lot of Haitians,” Larrieux said.

    The reprieve allowed to her to start over and build a career as a television personality and launch a Haitian entertainment management company in Miramar, Fla.

    “It gave me the opportunity to rebuild. Step by step, I was able to get back the work permit, then the driver’s licence . . . hoping that, at some point, I would get to a residency path. That was the expectation,” she said.

    “Now, I’m facing the same situation that I had to face 10 years ago. I’m stronger, yes, but, out of the blue, you have to look for an option to start over whether it’s Haiti or another place. It’s starting over at 38, when I should be in a better position in my life, financially and professionally.”

    As Ponthieux, the nurse, races from his good home to his good job in his good car, he said he also feels that TPS recipients are being unfairly caught in the broader political campaign against illegal immigrants that swept Trump into the White House and that threatens to disrupt the United States, a country he has come to think of as his own.

    “We are not criminals. We are not bad people. . . . I work nightshift, from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., taking care of people, and to get this job,” Ponthieux said. “We’re working very hard. We contribute. We pay taxes. We have a house. We are part of the American dream.”


older | 1 | .... | 991 | 992 | (Page 993) | 994 | 995 | .... | 1045 | newer