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    INARAJAN, GUAM—Against the back wall of the command centre at Guam Homeland Security, a nondescript telephone is perched on a shelf. It’s the phone no one in the room wants to hear ringing: It alerts Guam to an incoming ballistic missile.

    A call on this phone would only come from the U.S. Pacific Command in Hawaii to inform Guam of the impending strike.

    If it were to ring, a blue light would flash and immediately set into motion a chain of emergency response procedures to alert all of Guam’s roughly 162,000 civilians of the threat within two minutes. The system includes mass notification sirens that are positioned around the island, radio and television emergency broadcasts, and emergency medical workers and village mayors equipped with mobile public address systems.

    Read more:

    Why North Korea is threatening Guam with its ballistic missiles

    North Korean threats aren’t deterring tourists from visiting Guam

    Workers at the Homeland Security office have been on 24-hour duty fielding questions from residents and the media since North Korea warned last week it was preparing a missile test that would create an “enveloping fire” in the waters off Guam.

    “Guam has been through supertyphoons, an 8.2 earthquake, tsunami warnings — just about anything and everything that can threaten this tiny little island — so we’ve been conditioned to stay calm in a situation like this,” said Dee Cruz, the office’s grants manager and senior desk watch officer. “I’m not saying we look danger in the face and dare it to do its worst,” she added, “we just know what to do to prepare.”

    But being ready for a ballistic missile strike is not like preparing for a typhoon. For one thing, tropical storms move at an average speed of about 20 kph, giving people in Guam several days to prepare. A ballistic missile launched from North Korea, however, would take just 17 minutes to hit the waters off the island.

    “From the moment the sirens sound off, everyone should be ready to shelter in place,” Cruz said. “It’s important to make a plan now so that when it’s time for an emergency you’ll know what to do.”

    Cruz detailed the preparations people needed to take.

    “Create a family group chat so you can quickly communicate with each other instead of making individual calls,” Cruz suggested. “Make sure you have an emergency kit with basic supplies — small items like water and a first aid kit can save a life in an emergency situation.”

    For many on the island, which is home to Andersen Air Force Base and Naval Base Guam, being prepared for an emergency is second nature, said Andrew Lee, a local firefighter and former Marine.

    “The nature of my job is to be ready to respond in the capacity that we are able — that’s the way it is in any fire department, not just the Guam Fire Department,” he said. “At home, we have a bug-out bag prepared for an emergency, but we’re always hoping for the best,” he said, referring to the portable survival kits many families here have.

    Despite North Korea’s threat to lob a missile toward Guam, many residents seem to be taking things in stride. Guam’s largest supermarket chain, Pay-Less Supermarkets, has not seen any unusual shopping activity in its eight stores, said Kathy Sgro, the company’s executive vice president.

    “While we haven’t noticed an increase in sales of canned goods, bottled water, or emergency items such as candles and batteries, we have seen a small spike in sales of antacids and milk of magnesia, which makes me wonder if people are experiencing higher levels of anxiety than usual,” Sgro said.

    Regine Biscoe Lee, a senator in Guam’s Legislature, thinks there is a heightened sense of anxiety among the people of Guam but said that her office had not received any calls regarding the North Korean threat.

    “Here on Guam it’s business as usual, but that doesn’t mean we’re turning a blind eye to the situation,” she said. “Faith and family — that’s what people cling to here on Guam. When things get serious, we stick together, and we’re here for one another.”

    Adding to anxieties, a local broadcaster conducted an unscheduled test on Tuesday of the emergency broadcast system and did not realize it went live.

    Anthony Matanona, a baker who runs a traditional hotnu bakery in Inarajan, Guam’s oldest and best-preserved village from the Spanish era, noted that Guam’s history had inured people to coping with outside threats.

    “Guam and our people have been through hell and back — and not just through the destruction of natural elements like typhoons and earthquakes,” Matanoma said as he greeted customers and took orders for coconut bread.

    “We were colonized under Spain for 300 years and occupied by Japan for four years of war before we became Americanized,” he said. “We survived all of that, so I’m not worried. I still have to grate the coconut, I have to make sure I open up in the morning — I have to continue living.”

    Some people on Guam are even seizing on the media’s current obsession with the territory to draw attention to the plight of Guam’s civilians, portraying them as innocent pawns in a fight between two nuclear-armed nations.

    In a Facebook post that went viral, “An Open Letter From Guam to America,” Victoria-Lola M. Leon Guerrero wrote, “This land, this beautiful island everyone wants to bomb because of you, is my land, not yours.”

    “I want to go to sleep peacefully knowing that my family is safe in our home,” she wrote. “So please, stop all this bomb talk. And instead, ask yourself why Guam is still your colony in 2017.”

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    Staring straight ahead, never once looking back at the woman they were caught mocking or her phalanx of supporters, the two Toronto police officers accused of professional misconduct for spouting insults captured on their own cruiser’s dash camera appeared before a disciplinary hearing Tuesday.

    Constables Sasa Sljivo and Matthew Saris are charged under the Police Services Act after they laughed and called Francie Munoz, a 29-year-old woman with Down syndrome, a half woman and a “little disfigured” in comments to each other during a traffic stop.

    Their words and chuckles were discovered after Francie’s mother, Pamela Munoz, fought an alleged traffic violation and subsequently obtained dash cam video from the traffic stop in November 2016. The audio also recorded one of the officers referring to her daughter as “different.”

    Read more: Mother of woman with Down syndrome ‘enraged’ after finding police dash cam footage of officers insulting her daughter

    Toronto officers caught mocking woman with Down syndrome face Police Service Act charges

    The officers, dressed in dark blue suits, made their first, brief appearance before the police disciplinary tribunal, which was packed with Munoz’s family and friends, including some with Down syndrome and their relatives.

    The officers quickly left the hearing room after the minutes-long appearance, averting their eyes.

    “I looked at them,” Francie Munoz said afterward. “They did not look at me.”

    Toronto police documents detailing the charges allege that Sljivo was the officer doing the talking. He faces two charges under the Police Act: one for allegedly using “profane, abusive or insulting language” in contravention of the Ontario Human Rights Code and Toronto police policy, procedures and standards of conduct, and the second for allegedly acting in a disorderly manner likely to discredit Toronto police.

    Saris faces one count for allegedly being “complicit” in Sljivo’s comments and failing to report his conduct to a superior.

    Neither officer entered a plea Tuesday.

    Last month, Sljivo and Saris sent a letter to the family apologizing for their “inexcusable remarks” and taking full responsibility.

    Soon after the incident came to light, Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders addressed the officers’ comments, telling CP24 that they were not a “fair representation of what goes on on a day-to-day basis.”

    The officers’ apology did not seem sincere, Pamela Munoz said. The family had asked for them to apologize in person and wanted their comments to be captured on video. If the officers were willing to do that, Munoz said, they would withdraw their complaint to the Office of the Independent Police Review Director, which had resulted in the misconduct charges.

    The officers, however, had not agreed to the family’s terms.

    Mike McCormack, president of the Toronto Police Association, said last month that Sljivo and Saris had made repeated attempts to arrange an in-person meeting with Francie Munoz and her family, and that the officers “have accepted responsibility for their comments from the beginning.”

    “They have taken a lot of justified criticism from the public and their peers and regret their comments,” McCormack told the Star last month.

    McCormack added Tuesday that the TPA has arranged a meeting with the Down Syndrome Association of Ontario in September.

    Professional misconduct charges before the police tribunal can result in penalties ranging from a reprimand to dismissal. After the hearing Tuesday, Pamela Munoz told reporters she hopes for the latter, though she doubts that will occur.

    “In our hearts, a great outcome would have been for them to leave the Toronto Police Service because it’s shameful for police officers to feel that way,” she said.

    The family feels buoyed by friends and supporters standing alongside them at the hearing, she continued, particularly relatives of other people with disabilities.

    “It doesn’t just affect us. It affects our community,” she said. “(Other parents) are frightened about the repercussions: Will our kids be looked at differently by the police, will they not take care of them if they need help?” she said.

    Faisal Bhabha, Munoz’s lawyer, said the family is participating in the process to ensure her voice is heard throughout. The family also wants a “guarantee that this won’t happen again in the future — that there aren’t more officers who hold these attitudes,” he said after the hearing.

    It is not Sljivo’s first time coming under fire for comments made on the job. In 2013, the officer testified in court that he had stripped “hundreds” of people completely naked during searches — despite police policy stating that must not be done and a Supreme Court ruling stating no one should be stripped completely naked during a search.

    The Supreme Court’s rules are intended to maintain the dignity of the person being searched. Toronto police policy stipulates that once a piece of clothing is removed, the person is searched along with the clothing, then it must be replaced before the officer performing the search removes another item of clothing.

    The officer’s admission came during a drug trafficking trial, after which the judge raised concerns about the officer’s statements.

    Sljivo was not charged under the Police Services Act in connection to his strip search comments.

    Sljivo and Saris are due back before the tribunal next month. The Munoz family is also filing a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

    Wendy Gillis can be reached at

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    These are (again) tough days for the Rebel Commander.

    But this time it feels different for Ezra Levant and his Rebel Media because the appalling scene that unfolded in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend, threatens to wash away the house of sand his alternative media site is built upon.

    Levant this week disavowed the alt-right movement following the Charlottesville invasion by neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan and white supremacists, resulting in the death of a young woman and two state troopers.

    This after his “reporter” on the scene, Faith Goldy, seemed to be cheering on the white supremacists in the moments before a car plowed into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer.

    The alt-right used to be fun, when he first heard of it a year ago, Levant wrote in a memo posted on The Rebel website Monday. He thought it was a home for “unashamed right-wingedness, with a sense of humour.”

    That sounds a little like an arsonist who used to burn down houses for fun, but now, a year later, has come to realize that matches cause fire.

    Levant is nothing if not resilient. His following is devoted. He has not been slowed by lawsuits, forced apologies or social media attacks. Such controversy is his oxygen; his crack cocaine.

    He was feeding off it again Tuesday: “Being controversial is part of our style — we’re Tabasco and the other guys are vanilla. Not everyone likes Tabasco, but those who like it, like it a lot.”

    He says he is not losing any advertising revenue and, asked if he can survive, he says, “You must acknowledge the irony of being asked that by a legacy newspaper. We have more subscribers than the Star.”

    But if The Rebel is becoming toxic, and there are signs it is, he will not come back this time.

    He lost his co-founder, Brian Lilley, an Ottawa radio host who wrote Monday that if The Rebel’s “lack of editorial and behavioural judgment” is left unchecked it will destroy the site and all those around it.

    “People didn’t just cross the line there,” he told me, “they jumped over the line.”

    On Tuesday, Rebel freelancer Barbara Kay tweeted she too had resigned.

    Conservative politicians, notably Michael Chong and even Chris Alexander of “lock her up” fame in Alberta, have vowed to shun The Rebel.

    Doug Schweitzer, a candidate for the United Conservative Party in Alberta, called for a Rebel boycott and told his two better-known opponents, Jason Kenney and Brian Jean, to stop playing “footsie” with Levant’s website and condemn its coverage of Charlottesville.

    Schweitzer could be playing wedge politics himself — both Jean and Kenney took to social media to condemn the violence and hate on the weekend — but his message garnered a lot of attention.

    The city of Edmonton, Porter Airlines, the ski resort Whistler Blackcomb and Ottawa Tourism have pulled their ads from the site and others have changed their profiles so their automated systems will not follow potential customers there.

    This was all building before Goldy’s live stream from the protest Saturday in which she mocks counter-protesters as she walks with them.

    The supremacists had the permit for the demonstration, but it only takes chants of “Black Lives Matter” to be left alone by police, she says.

    Police were trying to shut down the alt-right while counter-protesters were illegally on the street, she reports.

    “There is freedom of assembly for one group and not the other,” she said. “If you’re the alt-right, you’re not allowed to talk about ideas.”

    Then a woman was murdered.

    Defending herself, Goldy wrote: “I do not bathe in tears of white guilt. That does not make me a white supremacist.

    “I oppose state multiculturalism and affirmative action. That does not make me a racist.

    “I reject cultural relativism. That does not make me a fascist.”

    Gavin McInnes, best known in Canada for his Proud Boys who disrupted an Indigenous protest in Halifax on Canada Day, also disavowed the alt-right on the site.

    He laid blame for the Charlottesville killing on the man behind the wheel of the car, but he had a list of blame and at No. 5 he had . . . feminists.

    “One thing I can’t help but notice,” he tells his viewers, “is how empowered these women feel. Why are women at riots?” he asked.

    This column would be the last place to look for a suggestion that free speech should be stifled.

    But sometimes you forfeit the right to that speech and if the oxygen that keeps this hate and racism alive is extinguished, those who snuff it out should be applauded.

    The Rebel cruise sets sail for the Caribbean in November. If you signed up, better hope it is refundable.

    Tim Harper writes on national affairs. He can be reached at , Twitter: @nutgraf1

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    WASHINGTON—Donald Trump was criticized around the country for the Saturday speech in which he faulted “many sides,” rather than white supremacists, for the violence in Charlottesville, Va.

    When he finally relented two days later, giving a scripted address in which he specifically denounced the right-wing racists, he was applauded by many pundits. The racists themselves, though, kept smiling, saying Trump’s revised words were clearly insincere.

    The racists were right.

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

    On Tuesday, in the angriest public tirade of his two years in national politics, the president revealed that he meant what he had said in his first statement: the “other side,” made up of liberal and left-wing protesters, was just as responsible as the people with the swastikas.

    “There is another side,” Trump said. “You can call them the left ... they came, violently attacking” the right, “swinging with clubs” and with baseball bats.

    It was an astonishing spectacle even for the Trump era: the president of the United States vehemently defending an extremist demonstration in which some participants chanted “Jews will not replace us” and carried Nazi flags — and during which an alleged white supremacist is accused of murdering a peaceful counter protester and injuring numerous others.

    “Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me,” Trump said. “Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch.”

    Asked about the white supremacist “alt-right,” Trump challenged the journalist to “define alt-right” — and asked why there had been no blame placed on the “alt-left,” a term that is not in widespread use.

    Trump appeared to be referring to the anti-fascist group called Antifa, which had a presence at the event and has been accused by others of initiating some of the violent skirmishes at the scene. Every other senior Republican, however, had joined Democrats, and witnesses, in declaring the white supremacists responsible for causing the violence – and only an alleged far-right activist has been charged with murder.

    And he said that some of the participants in the racists’ rally were not racists at all, merely people opposed to the removal of a Charlottesville statue of Robert E. Lee, the general who commanded the forces of the pro-slavery Confederate secessionists.

    In his most explicit endorsement of Confederate icons, he argued that removing statues of Lee would lead the country down a slippery slope.

    “George Washington was a slave owner ... so will George Washington, now, lose his status?” Trump asked.

    “You’re changing history. You’re changing culture,” he said, echoing the rhetoric of the white supremacists themselves.

    The rant was all the more remarkable for the setting: a brief speech, at Trump Tower in New York City, on an executive order on infrastructure. Just minutes before his eruption, Trump had held up a flow chart in talking about how he planned to speed up the pace of projects.

    But U.S. media reports had suggested that he had been unhappy that he had been pressured into delivering the conciliatory statement on Monday, and he could not contain himself. He became more and more agitated as reporters shouted questions.

    At first, he simply argued that he had not waited too long to condemn the white supremacists. He said he needed to make sure he had “the facts” — though he was quick to label previous incidents acts of Islamic terror, even one in June that turned out to be a botched robbery.

    He then told the media that they did not yet have all the facts themselves. Finally, and at length, he offered his own alternative version of what happened.

    Read more:

    Fourth business leader quits Trump council after much-criticized Charlottesville response

    White nationalist groups are planning to be ‘more active than ever’ after Charlottesville violence

    Obama’s Charlottesville tweet already second most-liked post on Twitter

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    CHARLOTTETOWN—A sting by the controversial Creep Catchers vigilante group has led to the arrest of a 31-year-old Charlottetown man, police say.

    The man was charged with making an agreement or arrangement to commit a sexual offence against a child following a four-month investigation by Charlottetown police and the Cape Breton Regional Police Service’s internet child exploitation unit.

    “A member of the citizens group Cape Breton Creep Catchers contacted Cape Breton police to make a report and request their assistance,” Det. Sgt. Walter Vessey of the Charlottetown police major crime unit said Wednesday.

    “It’s my first involvement with the group and I know there is controversy around the way they operate, but in this particular case, they made a complaint to the Cape Breton police, they provided supporting information, and the information resulted in laying a charge against a person who it looks like intended to victimize a child.”

    Read more:

    Canada’s self-proclaimed pedophile hunters doing more harm than good, police say

    RCMP arrest leader of anti-pedophile vigilante group ‘Surrey Creep Catchers’

    The Creep Catchers are known for targeting people they allege are child sexual predators by posing as minors online, arranging to meet their targets and filming the encounters, which are then published on the internet.

    Law enforcement officials across Canada have expressed concern about the groups, warning the public that confronting alleged child predators could put people in danger and compromise police investigations.

    Said Vessey: “Any time we receive information from any member of the public that can help protect a child or vulnerable person, we’re happy to act on that information.”

    Police say the accused was released on conditions and will appear in court on Aug. 28.

    Last month, British Columbia’s information and privacy commissioner ordered the Surrey chapter to stop posting personal information about two men the group alleges are linked to child luring.

    Drew McArthur investigated complaints from two people and says the group used deceptive or misleading practices when it communicated with them and made video recordings of their meetings.

    The decision says the recordings were posted to social media along with added allegations that the men had attempted to lure and meet with a minor for sexual purposes.

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    A civilian oversight agency is being asked to investigate two Ontario police forces after a Toronto police officer and his brother were charged in the brutal beating of a black teen.

    Lawyers representing Dafonte Miller and his family have filed a complaint with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director in connection with the December 2016 incident and how it was investigated.

    They allege Toronto police and Durham regional police tried to cover up the attack on Miller and “blindly” accepted the accounts of Michael Theriault, an off-duty Toronto constable, and his brother Christian Theriault.

    Read more: Durham police launch an internal review of Dafonte Miller assault

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

    The province’s police watchdog wasn’t notified of the alleged incident until months later and has since charged the brothers with assault and other offences.

    Among other things, the complaint filed with the OIPRD calls for police officers to face criminal consequences if they interfere with an investigation by the Special Investigations Unit.

    It is part of a broader push for police oversight made by a coalition of community and advocacy groups who say Miller’s case shows the need for immediate action.

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    They were all friends until the Charlottesville protest happened on the weekend.

    Then the so-called “alt-right” bared its fangs, running afoul of Canada’s more euphemistic brand of racism.

    The rally to Unite the Right ended up fracturing it instead — at least in Canada.

    Exhibit A is the exodus at The Rebel news site, the Canadian Tiki torch bearers of the far right, whose contributors celebrate the deaths of desperate migrants at sea.

    An exodus so fast it was hard to keep up with all the names by Tuesday evening.

    On Monday, Ezra Levant condemned Richard Spencer, the founder of the supremacist “alt-right” group in a letter to staff and tried to differentiate his philosophy from that of the Charlottesville supremacists.

    Then, The Rebel co-founder Brian Lilley went one step further and left the site altogether because “he’s no longer comfortable with it.”

    On Tuesday, key contributor Barbara Kay jumped ship, writing a wishy-washy goodbye, still claiming admiration for Levant and reporter Faith Goldy, whose characterization of Charlottesville protesters as “rising white racial consciousness” left even conservatives uncomfortable.

    Soon after, contributor John Robson was out, saying he found the tone at The Rebel “too unconstructive.”

    Perhaps this marks the end of The Rebel as we know it.

    What went wrong between the natural bedfellows conjoined by their demonization of “the other”?

    It’s now exposed: Not all whites are equal. And U.S. President Donald Trump’s unhinged press conference on Tuesday in which he once again drew a false moral equivalence between racists and counter-protesters, just cemented that thinking.

    White supremacists openly espoused neo-Nazi ideology that singled out Jews as being an inferior, unwanted race or class of people. It was made clear: Jews do not belong.

    Now, after years of spouting vitriol about Muslims, about Roma, about Black people, about immigrants, Levant’s note said: “We are not white supremacy. That term now effectively means racism, anti-Semitism and tolerance of neo-Nazism.”

    “Like many of you, I had family that fought the Nazis, I never want to be in the same room as one,” Lilley said.

    Cue the slow clap.

    The likes of Levant and other “white-passing” Jewish people of the far right, are finally realizing that although many of them enjoy the privileges of white people, white supremacy casts upon them the same contemptuous gaze as it does on Black and brown people, that their common divisive ideology was not sufficient glue for true alignment.

    Lilley has interviewed me in the past for his Bell Media radio show and he was not hostile; in fact he was friendly and reasonable. However, if he had grown uncomfortable with The Rebel’s ideology, it’s taken far too long for him to show it. And given his contempt of General Roméo Dallaire’s work on child soldiers, I can’t bring myself to feel grateful that the hard right has fewer champions.

    The folks at The Rebel had probably failed to understand the underlying differences between ideologies under the umbrella of white nationalism.

    “There has been this bizarre infighting that has gone on within the alt-right groups,” says Lily Herman, a New-York based writer, who recently wrote a piece called “We need to talk about the anti-Semitism at the Charlottesville protest.”

    “What do you do when you have white nationalists who are Jewish?”

    “Jews actually did fight with the Confederate army in the Civil War which a lot of people don’t know. There were almost equal number of Jews fighting on both sides.”

    Herman, who grew up Jewish in Jacksonville, Fla., a place she calls the “Southern tip of the Bible Belt,” also identifies as white. However, she’s puzzled by Jewish white nationalists.

    “You know this history of Jewish people in western civilization, so why are you supporting these people who when they say ‘white people’ they mean a ‘pure’ white race?”

    There have been incidents of anti-Semitism from The Rebel contributors and Levant was by all accounts sensitive to accusations of being a Nazi apologist. Here, I’m going by what reporter Jonathan Goldsbie writes in Canadaland. I must confess I lost interest in Levant’s brand of journalism long ago and have not kept close track of goings-on there.

    Levant’s memo says flying Nazi flags, chanting Nazi slogans and the Nazi salute makes the alt-right racist.

    I say being anti-immigration, demonizing people based on identity and then claiming not to believe in identity politics, makes the far-right hypocritical, xenophobic — and racist.

    For all the pains Levant takes to draw out the differences, the only line he has drawn to separate his far right from Richard Spencer’s alt-right is one “ism”: Nazism.

    Other than that, they still look like mirror images to me.

    Shree Paradkar writes on discrimination and identity. You can follow her @shreeparadkar

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    WASHINGTON—The last two Republican presidents — George W. Bush and his father, George H.W. Bush — issued an implicit rebuke of the current president Wednesday, as party elders scrambled to limit the fallout from Donald Trump’s stance on neo-Nazis.

    “America must always reject racial bigotry, anti-Semitism, and hatred in all forms,” read the statement issued by Bush aides from Kennebunkport, Maine, site of the Bush family compound.

    The Bushes have largely kept on the sidelines during the Trump presidency. The younger Bush has maintained a strict policy of resisting the urge to inject himself into contemporary politics, deeming that unfair to the current national leader — whether that was Trump or, before him, Barack Obama.

    Read more: Donald Trump defends far-right extremists in astonishing tirade, again blames both sides for Charlottesville violence

    Trump’s council of CEOs is on the verge of disbanding over his defence of far-right extremists

    Charlottesville victim’s mother urges supporters to channel ‘anger into righteous action’

    The elder Bush turned 93 in June.

    But amid the uproar over Trump’s warmth toward neo-Nazis and white supremacists, the father-son presidents apparently could not hold their tongues any longer.

    Also on Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., forcefully distanced himself and the party from Trump’s stance.

    “We can have no tolerance for an ideology of racial hatred. There are no good neo-nazis, and those who espouse their views are not supporters of American ideals and freedoms. We all have a responsibility to stand against hate and violence, wherever it raises its evil head,” McConnell said in a statement issued by his office, in part to denounce a rally planned by hate groups in Lexington.

    The Bushes rarely issue joint statements, underscoring the importance they placed on airing their views on this controversy. Their full statement read:

    “America must always reject racial bigotry, anti-Semitism, and hatred in all forms. As we pray for Charlottesville, we are reminded of the fundamental truths recorded by that city’s most prominent citizen in the Declaration of Independence: we are all created equal and endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights. We know these truths to be everlasting because we have seen the decency and greatness of our country.”

    While the Bushes’ rare joint statement didn’t mention Trump, their message was clearly aimed at distancing themselves — and the Republican Party — from the president’s comments about the violence in Virginia. On Saturday, a Nazi sympathizer rammed a car into a crowd of anti-fascist demonstrators, killing one woman and injuring 20 other people.

    The neo-Nazis and white supremacists chanted anti-Semitic slogans and waved swastika flags.

    Trump initially blamed clashes on agitators and bad actors on “many sides,” without mentioning neo-Nazis or the Ku Klux Klan or white supremacists by name. On Monday, after aides had invoked those labels, Trump did, too, in scripted comments that were criticized as belated but welcomed as a signal that Trump had shifted away from describing a moral equivalence between fascists and anti-fascists.

    He then proceeded to undo those efforts at damage control on Tuesday afternoon with a freewheeling news conference in the lobby of his glittering Trump Tower. He insisted that there were “very fine people” on that side of the clashes and accused the “alt-left” of provoking the violence.

    Before the Bushes and McConnell weighed in, House Speaker Paul Ryan was the highest-ranking Republican official to publicly distance himself — and the party — from the president. Trump’s critics, and many of his fellow Republicans, viewed those comments as a wink of approval toward fringe nationalists and white supremacists.

    “We must be clear,” Ryan tweeted. “White supremacy is repulsive . . . There can be no moral ambiguity.”

    Indeed, white supremacist leader Richard Spencer of Dallas, and David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard, had welcomed Trump’s stance as an affirmation of their views and tactics.

    Trump had denounced racism and bigotry as evil and repugnant. But in equating the actions of neo-Nazis chanting Nazi-era slogans such as “blood and soil” and “Jews will not replace us” to the actions of anti-fascist demonstrators, his critics say, he gave political cover to the worst fringe elements of American society.

    For GOP leaders, that has presented a challenge. Trump, as president, is leader of the party. But the party’s congressional majorities will be at stake in the 2018 elections and Trump’s approval ratings are already at a record low for any president in decades.

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    The University of Toronto has told a group espousing white nationalist views that it won’t be allowed to hold a rally on campus next month.

    “We reached out to them (Tuesday) to indicate that we’ve been made aware of their Facebook event . . . and that they do not have permission to hold it on our grounds,” university spokesperson Althea Blackburn-Evans said.

    The Canadian Nationalist Party, which intends to “discuss the nationalist movement in Canada,” said on a Facebook page this week that it was going to hold a rally Sept. 14 at the university.

    Travis Patron, the party’s founder, told the Star on Tuesday that he will choose an alternate location if his group was denied a permit for its Toronto Nationalist Rally. Patron was not immediately available for comment Wednesday.

    News of the event emerged on the heels of a weekend tragedy in Charlottesville, Va., when a woman died Saturday after a car rammed into a crowd of people protesting a white nationalist rally.

    In response to the proposed rally on U of T campus, a counter-protest called “Unity Rally to Silence White Supremacy in Toronto” was created, with more than 4,200 people listed as going on Facebook as of Wednesday afternoon, compared to 61 people saying that they would be going to the nationalist rally.

    “When I stumbled across the event listing for a Toronto Nationalist Party rally on campus on the heels of Charlottesville (it) made me absolutely sick,” said Shannon McDeez, an organizer of the counter-protest. “I am aware that this type of hate does exist in Canada, regardless of how we are perceived.”

    McDeez said the event will go ahead in light of the university’s decision.

    “I am happy with the news that U of T does not support or condone this type of gathering and propagation of white supremacist messages,” she said. “White supremacists will never exist comfortably in our city as long as we maintain the momentum of individuals who have united against hatred.”

    When a group attempts to book space on campus, the school decides if it is appropriate to host based on whether there are safety issues and the potential for hate speech. The university’s booking policy says “contestable sentiments that are offensive to some will be expressed on a campus populated by passionate and engaged students, staff and faculty.”

    The policy itself does not refer to hate speech, but says that “respect for human rights and liberties” are important values.

    On Wednesday afternoon, Ryerson University announced that it cancelled an event called “The Stifling of Free Speech on University Campuses,” a panel including controversial psychology professor Jordan Peterson and Faith Goldy, a commentator for the Rebel, a right-wing news site.

    Goldy was in Charlottesville on Saturday to report on the rally. She called the Charlottesville Statement, a document written by white nationalist protesters, “robust” and “well thought out.”

    “After a thorough security review, the University has concluded that Ryerson is not equipped to provide the necessary level of public safety for the event to go forward,” said Michael Forbes, a university spokesperson.

    “There is often a tension at universities resulting from our commitment to be a place for free speech and our commitment to be a place that is civil, safe, and welcoming. In light of recent events, Ryerson is prioritizing campus safety.”

    U of T president Meric Gertler released a statement Wednesday, saying that “bigotry, hate, intolerance and violence have no place on our campuses.”

    “Recent tragic events in Charlottesville, Virginia, are an important reminder of the need for all of us to speak out against violence and hate,” Gertler said. “We extend our deepest sympathies and heartfelt support to those affected. The academic community must continue to condemn acts of violence, intimidation, and the fostering of hate.

    “As we prepare to welcome students, faculty and staff to our campuses for the start of another academic year, it is important that we reaffirm our collective and unwavering commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. These are among the University of Toronto’s core values.”

    A spokesman for Conservative leader Andrew Scheer says his promise to yank federal funding from universities that fail to uphold free speech wouldn’t apply to a decision by the University of Toronto to ban a nationalist rally from campus.

    Scheer made the free speech pledge during his bid for leadership of the party earlier this year and repeated it during his victory speech after he was elected in May.

    Last spring, U of T hosted a talk by Ken O’Keefe, who has been described as an anti-Semite and a Holocaust denier. After the talk, the university stated that the event violated its policies.

    Last October, a “rally for free speech” in support of Peterson — who criticized the use of nonbinary gender pronouns in a YouTube video — became confrontational and physical between his supporters and counter-protestors.

    In February, a conference that featured speakers like Peterson and Ezra Levant of the Rebel was disrupted by protests after a fire alarm was pulled and attendees evacuated the building.

    Both events had a heavy police presence.

    The Canadian Nationalist Party was created in June according to Patron, 26, and is not registered with Elections Canada or Elections Ontario.

    Patron’s party, which “plans to be on the ballot for the 2019 election,” includes in its platform the intention to limit immigration, abolish the Indian Act, form a “national citizen militia” to “defend traditional Canadian values” and calls the drop of Canada’s “European” population from 97 per cent in 1971 “the suppression of the founding Canadian people.”

    Patron told the Star that the event was created on Facebook on July 3, weeks before the events in Charlottesville.

    “I want to make clear that we are not connected to the Virginia rallies or the whole white nationalist movement in the States,” Patron said. “We are not a white supremacist movement, we are national identitarian movement. Part of that involves ethnicity and part of ethnicity certainly does involve race. It’s important and we shouldn’t ignore it.”

    The Canadian Nationalist Party has been a topic of discussion on Stormfront, a white supremacist discussion board.

    With files from the Canadian Press

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    An historic education agreement signed on Wednesday between 23 First Nations and the province is being hailed as a step towards self-governance as it gives full educational authority to Indigenous communities.

    The Anishinabek Nation, a political organization of 40 middle and northern Ontario First Nations, has been working on the Anishinabek Education System plan for more than a decade and 23 of its member nations signed the agreement. The other 17 nations can come on board later if they chose.

    “Wake up, this is no longer a dream, this is a reality, the AES is here,” said Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee at a press conference at the Chippewawas of Rama First Nation.

    Under the agreement, teachers at participating First Nation schools will be paid the same as provincial Ontario teachers and for the first time, Anishinabek educators will be able to sign the graduation certificates of its students — before, provincial authorities did this.

    The province will work with the AES, the Kinoomaadziwin Education Body and regional education councils and local education authorities in every community. The AES will create education laws to govern itself and it will oversee the delivery of programs and services.

    On reserve schools, each First Nation has power and authority over education from junior kindergarten to Grade 12 and they will be in charge of creating the education councils and authorities.

    System-wide standards will be put in place and imposed, and, the AES will work with the provincial schools to ease the movement of students to off-reserve high schools. To go to high school, most Indigenous students in the Anishinabek Nation have to leave their communities.

    The agreement is called a major step forward to self-governance, according to federal Minister of Indigenous Affairs Carolyn Bennett, who was at the Rama signing along with her provincial counterpart Minister David Zimmer and Ontario Education Minister Mitzie Hunter.

    “This is the largest self-government agreement in Canada due to the number of First Nations involved,” Bennett said. “This marks a key step out from under the Indian Act.”

    The Indian Act is a piece of legislation that was signed in 1876 and governs nearly all aspects of life for Indigenous people in Canada — everything from who gets status as an Indigenous person to education, land and resources.

    The act also ensured nearly 150,000 Indigenous children were sent to residential schools — government funded and church-run institutions. For more than 100 years, children were taken from their culture, language and families and sent away to school. Many students were the subject of physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Many were neglected and even starved in malnutrition experiments. The trauma from those days can be seen in generations of Indigenous families.

    “They beat us but they'll not beat us,” Madahbee said, recalling days from his own church run schooling. He urged Anishinabek nations to sign on and be a part of the AES.

    “We are not being co-opted into something,” he said, adding they have spent years hammering out details. “This will enhance our treaty rights with the Crown.”

    All students, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, are enriched in understanding by the exchange of knowledge from Anishinabek nations in history, culture and perspectives, said Hunter. Provincial schools will be supported to advance Anishinabek practices.

    Hunter added that Indigenous elders — who hold an honoured and guiding place in First Nations culture — should always be part of a student’s day and not just for special events.

    About 90 per cent of 26,000 Anishinabek students attend provincially funded schools.

    Nearly 200 information sessions were held in Anishinabek Nations regarding the AES and ratification votes were held in communities.

    Anishinabek Grand Council Deputy Chief Glen Hare said he traveled more than 1 million kilometres to various communities to inform First Nations about the need for the AES. “I have eight grandsons to think about. Each one of us has to stand behind this paper and our kids,” Hare said.

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    MONTREAL—A Quebec woman is taking legal action against her doctors after she delivered her 13-pound baby naturally in what court documents describe as a “traumatic and chaotic” childbirth.

    Documents filed in Quebec Superior Court on behalf of Anik Bourbeau and Pascal Lessard allege the baby was born with a permanently paralyzed arm and the mother was left with significant tearing and other damage following the 2010 birth.

    The documents allege the couple’s doctors failed to evaluate the size of the baby and recommend a caesarean section before Bourbeau gave birth, despite signs that pointed to the possibility of a large baby.

    They asking for $1.4 million in damages from the defendants, who include five of Bourbeau’s doctors and a hospital in Shawinigan, Que.

    The baby’s birth “took place in the context of a traumatic and chaotic birth that caused numerous damages to the plaintiffs, notably a permanent paralysis to the [baby’s] right arm,” the document reads.

    The amount claimed includes general damages, loss of income for both parents as well as future medical costs for the child.

    None of the claims have been tested in court. The law firm representing the defendants declined to comment, citing confidentiality.

    The documents allege the medical professionals did not do an ultrasound on Bourbeau to check the size of the baby despite her medical history, which included a difficult pregnancy in the past.

    “The defendants omitted to proceed to an evaluation of the child’s size, while the clinical evolution of Madame Bourbeau demanded it,” it reads.

    Doctors “did not obtain free and informed consent” from Bourbeau regarding the method of delivery and did not recommend a C-section despite the fact she had clearly expressed her willingness to have one, the document claims.

    According to the documents, the baby wasn’t breathing and weighed more than 13 pounds when he was delivered in December 2010.

    The case will be heard in Superior Court in May 2018.

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    The death of an Ontario teenager in Cuba last month has been attributed to natural causes by local authorities, according to her Cuban death certificate.

    Alexandra Sagriff, 18, was found dead in her Varadero hotel room on July 6, while on a graduation trip organized by S-Trip, a private travel company geared toward high school students.

    Sagriff died of heart- and lung-related issues including acute pulmonary edema, acute myocardial infarction and ischemic heart failure, says a death certificate issued by Dr. Sergio Piera, director of Cuba’s Institute of Legal Medicine.

    No alcohol was found in Sagriff’s system, says the certificate, which was provided to the Star by S-Trip.

    Sagriff’s family declined to comment on the findings of the Cuban autopsy, but issued a written statement through S-Trip.

    “It is unfortunate and hurtful that there continue to be individuals who insist on talking about Alexandra in a way that questions her character and dishonours her memory,” her family wrote. “She was a loving and caring young woman who was always well respected and loved by all.”

    S-Trip has been in consistent contact with Sagriff’s family since the death, said Samia Makhlouf, a public relations professional working for S-Trip.

    Sagriff was a recent graduate of St. Theresa Catholic Secondary School in Belleville, and was preparing to attend Loyalist College in the fall, her family said shortly after her death.

    “Alex was an amazing young woman, she had a ton of friends, and has a ton of family who loves her,” her family said at the time.

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    U.S. Vice President Mike Pence expressed his support for Donald Trump in carefully worded remarks as the administration coped with the fallout over controversial statements from the president on the deadly weekend violence in Virginia.

    “The president has been clear on this, and so have I,” Pence said Wednesday during a news conference in Santiago, Chile. Pence went on to refer to his own forceful condemnation of white supremacists issued on Aug. 13 after the melee, saying, “I stand with the president, and I stand by those words.”

    Pence didn’t directly address a reporter’s question on the vice president’s opinion of Trump’s statement on Tuesday, when the president returned to his controversial position that there was “blame on both sides” for the weekend violence and likened the actions of white supremacists chanting anti-Jewish slogans to those of the people who came out to confront them.

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

    The violence erupted as white nationalists gathered in Charlottesville over the weekend to protest the city’s decision to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee, a Confederate general in the Civil War, from a public park.

    One woman was killed and at least 19 others were injured after an Ohio man allegedly rammed a group of counter-demonstrators with a vehicle, and two Virginia state troopers who were observing the demonstrations died in a helicopter crash nearby. Photographs showed a group of whites using long metal poles to beat a black man crouching on his knees.

    Trump has faced intense criticism from business leaders and lawmakers in both parties since saying Aug. 12 that “many sides” bore blame for the melees that erupted in Charlottesville. Several corporate chief executives quit White House business panels in recent days and the president announced right after Pence spoke that he was disbanding business advisory groups on manufacturing and strategic policy.

    Even inside the White House, some staff were deeply dismayed by Trump’s comments Tuesday, according to a person close to the White House.

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    Prominent Republicans continued distancing themselves from Trump on Wednesday, though in most cases without directly criticizing the president.

    “America must always reject racial bigotry, anti-Semitism, and hatred in all forms,” former Presidents George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush said in a joint statement Wednesday without mentioning Trump.

    Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky followed the same course, releasing a statement Wednesday on “hate groups” without mentioning Trump or the president’s remarks.

    “There are no good neo-Nazis, and those who espouse their views are not supporters of American ideals and freedoms,” McConnell said. “We all have a responsibility to stand against hate and violence, wherever it raises its evil head.”

    Trump criticized “alt-left” counter-protesters as “very, very violent.” Facing them, he said, “were people protesting very quietly the taking down the statue of Robert E. Lee. I am sure in that group there were some bad ones.”

    Protesters objecting to Confederate generals could move on next to heroes of the American Revolution, he warned.

    “So this week, it is Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down too,” Trump said. “I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?”

    In a reference to a former Ku Klux Klan leader who has praised Trump’s comments, Sen. Lindsey Graham said Wednesday in a statement, “Many Republicans do not agree and will fight back against the idea that the Party of Lincoln has a welcome mat out for the David Dukes of the world.”

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    WASHINGTON—U.S. President Donald Trump’s top trade official opened the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement with harsh criticism of the deal, saying it has “fundamentally failed many, many Americans” and cannot not be fixed with mere “tweaking.”

    “We cannot ignore the huge trade deficits, the lost manufacturing jobs, the businesses that have closed or moved, because of incentives, intended or not, in the current agreement. The numbers are clear,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in his introductory speech. “The U.S. government has certified that at least 700,000 Americans have lost their jobs due to changing trade flows resulting from NAFTA. Many people believe the number is much, much bigger than that.”

    Trump, Lighthizer said, “is not interested in a mere tweaking of a few provisions and a couple of updated chapters.”

    Lighthizer’s remarks underscored the vast gulf, in perception and rhetoric at least, between the U.S. and the other two parties to the agreement, Canada and Mexico, whose representatives hailed NAFTA in their own opening statements at a hotel in Washington.

    Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland called NAFTA “an engine of job-creation and economic growth.” She argued that trade between Canada and the U.S. has been “almost perfectly” balanced — though she pointedly noted that Canada does not believe trade deficits or surpluses are the best way to measure if a trade relationship is working.

    “Canada is and always has been a trading nation. Our approach stems from one essential insight. We pursue trade, free and fair, knowing it is not a zero-sum game,” Freeland said.

    Freeland said NAFTA had produced significant growth in the Canadian economy. She argued that it had also helped the U.S. economy grow.

    “It is worth pointing out that we are the biggest client of the United States. Canada buys more from the U.S. than China, the U.K. and Japan combined,” she said.

    Freeland delivered part of her remarks in Spanish. She began by displaying photos of American and Mexican firefighters who helped fight a forest fire in B.C., saying she would keep their spirit of continental friendship in mind through the negotiations.

    She said Canada wants to cut red tape, harmonize regulations, protect key Canadian sectors, and make NAFTA “more progressive” on labour, the environment, gender and Indigenous people.

    Lighthizer said key U.S. priorities included changing auto-production rules to require cars to include more North American and American content to qualify for duty-free access; making labour provisions “as strong as possible,” guarding against currency manipulation; and creating a dispute-resolution system that respects U.S. “sovereignty.”

    The U.S. wants to do away with or significantly overhaul the “Chapter 19” provisions that create an independent system, outside national courts, for resolving NAFTA disputes. Canada wants to keep it.

    Lighthizer acknowledged that “many Americans have benefited from NAFTA,” referring specifically to the importance of the Canadian and Mexican markets for U.S. farmers and ranchers. But he said the deal had harmed “countless” others, pointing to factory workers.

    And he refused to concede that trade with Canada was balanced.

    “In recent years, we have seen some improvement in our trade balance with Canada. But over the last 10 years, our deficit in goods has exceeded $365 billion,” he said.

    The remarks opened the first round of the multi-round negotiations that the three countries are ambitiously attempting to conclude by the beginning of 2018.

    This round will run from Wednesday to Sunday. The next round will likely occur in Mexico in September, the third round in Canada after that.

    The negotiations are happening at the insistence of Trump, who campaigned on a promise to alter or terminate the deal. Trump has called NAFTA the worst trade deal in American history.

    A senior U.S. trade official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporters Tuesday that the talks will begin with each country submitting large quantities of proposed text for a revised agreement. They will put “brackets” around the areas on which there is not yet agreement.

    There is broad agreement on the need to modernize the 23-year-old agreement to include provisions on the digital economy that did not yet exist when the original terms were negotiated.

    But there are also major disagreements. One Canadian government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, called the situation “volatile.”

    “I know we all agree NAFTA needs updating. It’s a 23-year-old agreement, and our economies are very different than they were in the 1990s,” Lighthizer said — but “after modernizing, the tough work begins.”

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    The U.S. wants Canada to reduce its dairy protectionism; Canada has vowed to preserve its supply management system.

    And Canada has a number of demands that may be tough sells with the Trump administration: freer cross-border movement of professionals, new chapters on gender rights and Indigenous peoples, tougher environmental rules, and more access for Canadian companies to U.S. government contracts.

    Trump has made “Buy American” one of his key mantras, endorsed a proposal to cut legal immigration in half, and rapidly slashed environmental regulations.

    It seemed likely, as usual, that the subject of continental trade would receive more attention in Canada than the U.S., whose news coverage this week has been consumed with the fallout from the weekend violence at a white supremacist event in Charlottesville, Va. None of Trump’s eight tweets on Wednesday morning was about NAFTA.

    Mexican Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal said NAFTA has been a “strong success for all parties” but agrees it needs to be updated for the modern economy.

    “Since its enforcement, NAFTA has been more than a trade agreement. It has made us think of ourselves as a region,” he said. “By means of NAFTA, we advanced from only sharing the geography to shaping a common vision of North America.”

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    NEW YORK—U.S. President Donald Trump’s main council of top corporate leaders disbanded on Wednesday following the president’s controversial remarks in which he equated white nationalist hate groups with the protesters opposing them. Soon after, the president announced on Twitter that he would end his executive councils, “rather than put pressure” on executives.

    The quick sequence began late Wednesday morning when Stephen A. Schwarzman, the chief executive of the Blackstone Group and one of Trump’s closest confidants in the business community, organized a conference call for members of the president’s Strategic and Policy Forum.

    On the call, the chief executives of some of the largest companies in the country debated how to proceed.

    After a discussion among a dozen prominent CEOs, the decision was made to abandon the group altogether, said people with knowledge of details of the call.

    The council included Laurence Fink of BlackRock, Ginni Rometty of IBM, Rich Lesser of the Boston Consulting Group and Toby Cosgrove of the Cleveland Clinic, among others.

    Before the president’s decision to dissolve the two councils, executive from his manufacturing council were expected to have a similar call Wednesday afternoon. The manufacturing panel has seen a wave of defections since Monday, as business chiefs who had agreed to advise the president determined that his remarks left them with no choice but to walk away.

    Two additional chief executives — Denise Morrison of Campbell Soup and Inge Thulin of 3M — had announced Wednesday morning they would resign from the manufacturing council.

    The defections left Trump all but isolated from the business leaders whose approval he covets.

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    Members of the advisory group had stood with the president in recent months even as he advanced policies they vehemently opposed, including tough immigration policies and withdrawing the United States from the Paris climate accord.

    But the president’s equivocating in the wake of the outburst of white nationalist violence in Charlottesville was too much for the CEOs to bear.

    “He had put them in a very difficult position,” said Anat Admati, a professor of finance and economics at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. “This has ruined his relationships with some of them.”

    On Monday, after Trump’s initial response to the violence, Kenneth Frazier, the chief executive of drugmaker Merck, resigned from the manufacturing council. For much of the day Frazier was alone in his opposition, but that night, two more CEOs, from Under Armour and Intel, left the same group.

    Then on Tuesday, three leaders of labour and non-profit business groups left the council. And in a rebuke to the president, the chief executive of Walmart made public a letter to employees in which is explicitly criticized Trump’s leadership.

    Presidential advisory councils are largely ceremonial, meant to give the business community a line in with the White House. But in the Trump administration, the councils have become politically charged entities, as the executives in the groups have routinely been asked to defend the president’s unpopular opinions and policies.

    Moreover, the panels have not been seen to be particularly effective. After a few high profile events for the groups early in the Trump’s presidency, there have been few meetings since, and none more are planned.

    “So far they haven’t done much,” Admati said. “They had a few meetings with a bunch of fan fare, but it was more symbolic than anything else.”

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    A teenager who drowned on a school canoe trip last month was one of 15 students who went on the excursion despite failing a required swim test, says the Toronto District School Board’s director of education.

    Another two students who were on the trip weren’t tested at all, John Malloy told a news conference Wednesday.

    “I’m deeply troubled by these findings,” Malloy said. “On behalf of the TDSB, I offer our most sincere apology and regret. I also want to apologize to the families of the other students who went on the trip even though they didn’t pass the required swim test.”

    Jeremiah Perry, a Grade 9 student, slipped underwater in a lake in the backcountry of Algonquin Provincial Park on July 4, prompting a day of rescue efforts and the evacuation of his classmates. The 15-year-old’s body was recovered the next day.

    All participants in the trip were supposed to undergo swim tests, but Perry’s father has said his son didn’t know how to swim. The boy’s brother, Marion, was also on the canoe trip when Perry drowned.

    Perry went to C.W. Jeffreys Collegiate Institute in North York. He started at the school in October after immigrating to Canada from Guyana.

    Speaking to the Star by phone Wednesday, Perry’s father Joshua Anderson said he wasn’t surprised by the school board report, but that he appreciated the TDSB going public with the information.

    “This is information we knew already,” he said. “It is what it is . . . nothing can bring back Jerry.”

    Anderson said the family has no plans to act right away. They’re still awaiting results of the coroner’s office and the police investigations, he added.

    Though he wasn’t surprised, as Malloy spoke to him already Wednesday morning, Anderson said the family is still reeling from Perry’s death.

    “It’s too overwhelming,” he said. “Just watching it on TV, it’s too much.”

    TDSB policy requires that all students going on such trips pass a canoe-specific swim test at a third-party facility on a lake. If they didn’t pass that test, they should have had another opportunity to pass, with another test and one-on-one swim coaching at the C.W. Jeffreys pool.

    “It would appear that our procedures weren’t followed,” Malloy said, and no further swim tests or instruction were offered afterwards.

    Malloy said the teachers involved are on home assignment and have refused to speak to TDSB. He said they will be disciplined in accordance with board policies.

    He would not comment when asked if the same teachers had organized the canoe trip in previous years.

    All future trips of this type will be approved only after the principal of a school sees documents proving all students have passed swim tests, Malloy said. All students and their parents will see the results of the tests before the trips.

    He said outdoor education is still important, but “we will not do this at the expense of student safety.”

    Shortly after his death, the TSDB announced it was launching its own investigation into what happened. Ontario Provincial Police are looking into the drowning as well.

    After Perry’s death, the TDSB requested information on all upcoming trips for the 2017-18 school year and no issues were found, Malloy said.

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    Don’t expect the Danforth to build a wall and make the Beach pay for it.

    Following social media backlash this week, the Danforth Village Business Improvement Area has apologized and removed references to a “Make Danforth Great Again” slogan it originally posted at the height of the U.S. presidential campaign early last November.

    The slogan was featured in a Facebook video and on a page of the BIA’s website, both of which have been taken down.

    “In a continued effort to ‘Make Danforth Great Again’ the Danforth Village Business Improvement Area (DVBIA) has embarked on a window washing service for all its merchant members. Currently, 170 businesses are participating in the program,” the page read.

    It displayed Photoshopped images of Donald Trump on the Danforth next to a red wagon bearing the slogan. The images were overlaid with Trump quotes like: “Part of the beauty of me is that I am very rich,” and: “Let me tell you, I’m a really smart guy.”

    “This past week, a recent candidate in the US elections heard about the great work being done in Danforth Village and decided to drop in and see what all the hype was about,” the page read.

    The red wagon has been used to carry window-washing supplies, said councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon, who sits on the BIA’s board of directors. McMahon said the slogan will be removed from the wagon.

    Some Danforth residents and shoppers took to the BIA’s Facebook page to express their disgust after a photo of the wagon was posted to social media earlier this week.

    “I think you do a lot for our community, and I am generally a big fan,” one posted. “However your ‘Make Danforth Great Again’ slogan and campaign is in terrible taste and is offensive. You are channeling a racist and a fascist. You are alienating everyone who stands up for civil rights and true equality.”

    Another questioned on Twitter whether the BIA is “tone deaf” or “just like to steal slogans from White Supremacists.”

    In a statement, Louie Dapergolas, chair of the BIA, apologized “to anyone who has been offended or insulted by this,” adding that the video posted in November was meant as “satire.”

    “At the time, many of us believed that the idea that he would be elected President of the United States was outrageous. This video in no way suggests any support of Donald Trump or his beliefs, especially in light of what is currently happening in the United States,” the statement read.

    “Instead, it was made to promote our Window Washing initiative, which is an exciting collaboration between the Danforth Village BIA and Dixon Hall, a shelter on Danforth Avenue. This initiative gives shelter users an opportunity to engage in gainful, meaningful employment.”

    McMahon and councillor Janet Davis, also a member of the board, said they voiced their opposition to using the phrase during a meeting last fall.

    Davis called it “completely inappropriate” in the current political and social context.

    McMahon said the slogan did not reflect the diversity of the community, and of business owners in the area.

    “The BIA is an extension of the city and they should be remaining neutral in any election, let alone a contentious one and in another country,” McMahon said. “We’re trying to make the Danforth great again, like back historically. But obviously people weren’t thinking.”

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    Domino’s employees saved their dough when a man walked into their Scarborough pizza joint Wednesday night and allegedly tried to rob it at gunpoint.

    The man, wearing a mask and helmet, entered the Domino’s Pizza near Kingston Rd. and Ridgemoor Ave. just after 9 p.m., Toronto police Const. David Hopkinson said.

    According to employee Harish Karina, 27, the man demanded that they unlock the cash register and showed them a gun inside his jacket.

    Karina said he opened the register. As the man was reaching for the money, Karina said he grabbed him from behind. Two other employees jumped in to help hold the man until police arrived.

    Karina said the situation was “tense,” as they didn’t know if the gun was real.

    They called the police, who took the man into custody. Karina said he and his coworkers were relieved nobody was hurt, adding there were no customers in the restaurant at the time of the incident.

    Hopkinson couldn’t confirm if the gun was real.

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    Owen Robinson is desperate to find host families in Toronto for three Haitian boys with congenital heart defects who need life-saving surgery.

    Robinson’s organization, Haiti Cardiac Alliance, is helping the children, aged three to four years old, find treatment outside Haiti. The group has helped 300 Haitian kids get heart surgeries at hospitals all over the U.S. and the Caribbean since it began in July 2013.

    But the operations for these three boys, who all have holes in their hearts, are difficult and no hospital the group normally goes to has been willing to take the cases on.

    That’s when Sick Kids Hospital agreed to step in and do the surgeries with the help of the Herbie Fund, which offers financial support to children worldwide who require specialized care.

    “If these kids don’t get treatment in Toronto, I can say with a fair degree of confidence they’re not going to be able to access treatment at all,” Robinson said. “It would very literally be life-saving.”

    But Sick Kids can only do the operations as long as the kids have a place to recover once they are discharged from the hospital. And finding the boys a place to stay has proven to be tricky.

    “In the United States we have some solid connections with organizations and they help us welcome these families into their community, but in Toronto we don’t have that,” Robinson said.

    In July, he asked for help from Mark Brender, an old friend and the national director of Partners in Health Canada.

    Brender recently contacted the Haitian consulate in Toronto in the hopes that someone from the community would be willing to help the boys: Roobens Thelusma, David Smith Millien and Kervens Jeannot.

    But they are still waiting for responses.

    “If there’s care available it shouldn’t be limited to where you are born and if you have the funds,” Brender said.

    He’s hoping a Haitian family will offer to help, to make communicating with the visitors easier, but said that “anybody could step up.”

    Robinson is searching for people to take in one child and one parent at a time. A social worker would accompany the family for the first week to help them get settled and translate for them. The family would need to stay in Toronto for one or two months during the recovery period. The surgery would take place about a week after their arrival, and they would spend the next week or two at the hospital, he said.

    The families only speak French and Haitian Creole. Robinson said that while it would be helpful, the host family and volunteers don’t have to speak the language. Tools like Google translate, phrasebooks, or social workers who are available by phone could help bridge the language gap.

    The hosts and volunteers would be expected to provide the family with transportation to and from the hospital, food, or the means for the parent to cook, and a warm and supportive environment. The child’s parent would take care of the medical aspects of caring for the child.

    “If the child had been born in the U.S. or Canada, (the heart problem) would have been repaired in the first few months of the child’s life but these kids are three- or four-years-old now,” Robinson said. “We have situations all the time where a child’s been selected somewhere and they die before they can go, it just takes too long.”

    Anyone interested in helping can contact Robinson at

    0 0

    The disclaimer is always about a few bad apples.

    That handful of wormy cops who are (rarely) charged with criminal offences, almost uniformly acquitted — second-degree murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, sexual assault and assault among the trials I’ve personally covered over these past few decades which have resulted in not guilty verdicts — or brought up on Police Act disciplinary charges.

    More like a bushel and a peck, I’d say.

    In the past fortnight alone, we’ve had at least 10 officers from Toronto — with drifts to Durham Region — before the courts and police tribunals or charged or acquitted for lack objective evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.

    The doubt, like the tie, invariably goes to cops.

    I choose to believe that most cops are professional in their job and decent human beings in their contacts with the public. Indeed, I’ve experienced it myself as someone charged with assault. It is not an easy vocation and day-after-day exposure to the worst among us doubtless calcifies the heart. But choosing to believe the best of law enforcement gets ever harder when the evidence before my eyes is so discouraging.

    Cops who drink’n’dine out on the perks of their badge.

    Cops who troll, in their off-hours, the underbelly world of vice and sleaze.

    Cops who lie and plant evidence and perjure themselves on the witness stand.

    Cops who allegedly beat up civilians and then lay charges of obstruct police.

    Cops who allegedly mock a young woman with Down syndrome.

    The violations range from the severe to the picayune, although nothing is picayune when the courts exact consequences from those who run afoul of the law. In one instance, which has received no publicity, a police officer charged a 19-year-old boy I know intimately with smoking — smoking— outside a restaurant in a Downsview strip mall. When the youth was unable to identify himself — which he had the right not to do; there was no allegation of a suspect being sought for a crime — he was arrested, taken to the station and subjected to a search which turned up a flick knife and small quantity of marijuana. Charges included possession of a restricted weapon, resulting from what very likely may have been an illegal search under the circumstances. The young man pleaded guilty earlier this month and is now burdened with a criminal record.

    Since when do Toronto cops charge for smoking, unless they’ve got a burr up their butt? That’s a job for bylaw enforcement officers and, thus far this year, they’ve laid precisely two tickets for non-compliance with the municipal regulation.

    Read more:

    Toronto, Durham police accused of covering up Dafonte Miller assault case

    Two police probes into beating of Dafonte Miller fall short: Editorial

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

    My point is that cops have too much discretional authority and they wield it like the bullies too many of them are.

    Bad apples? When compared proportionately with the civilian population, are they more or less criminal, more or less discreditable, more or less likely to catch a break from colleagues, courts and the justice system?

    Social media has made it more difficult these days for cops to keep their own unruly behaviour off the radar. Every smartphone is a surveillance camera. Yet that evidence, brought into a courtroom or a police tribunal or a coroner’s inquest, can be freeze-frame parsed into incoherency by deft cop lawyers, the kind you and I could probably not afford.

    And what do we, the public, have to shield against police brutality, whether it happens on a deserted street at three o’clock in the morning or in broad daylight on the lawns of the legislature by cops who’ve removed their identifying badge numbers?

    We have the Criminal Code, of course, except police officers are extensions of it because they do the charging and the investigating, even when another police force is brought in. We have the near toothless Special Investigations Unit, generally staffed by ex-cops. We have Internal Affairs and Professional Standards Units that sometimes — as in the case of parking enforcement officer who brought sex assault charges against three Toronto constables — conduct stunningly sloppy investigations.

    We have civilian oversight agencies such as the Office of the Independent Police Review Director which too often tosses complaints back to police chiefs for investigation and determination of charges.

    And we have endless reviews, task forces, internal and external audits, hundreds of recommendations that amount to a hill of beans.

    Cops have learned the lesson well: There are few consequences for brutish behaviour. Chances are you’ll get away with it, even if subjected to the mild unpleasantness of being public identified on a charge sheet. Even then, your salary will continue to be paid and you won’t be fired by your chief because that’s a legal mosh-pit.

    On Wednesday, lawyer Julian Falconer called for both a systematic review by the OIPRD to look at “underlying causes” of the alleged mishandling of a complaint by both Toronto Police Service and Durham Regional Police Service — concealing of an alleged crime to avoid SIU involvement — and a wider probe of how the SIU is being prevented from executing its mandate. Falconer has asked that the matter not be referred back to the TPS, the DRPS or any other police service for investigation. Which leaves I don’t know what, given the current complaint structure.

    Falconer has been down this road before with complainants, a road that has wound its way to the Supreme Court of Canada, which vouchsafed the statutory obligation for police officers to co-operate fully with the SIU in their investigations.

    I’ve lost count of the number of times this was shown not to have happened — and I don’t mean just subject officers, who are constitutionally protected against self-incrimination and therefore aren’t compelled to make a statement or submit to questioning. (A matter which seriously deserves a second-think by the Supremes.)

    “Here I sit in 2017 facing the same issue,” Falconer told a press conference. “Why do police have the power to charge with obstruct justice those who interfere in an investigation but SIU investigators do not. And the answer is that there is every reality that it will be enormously career-limiting for a director of SIU to even contemplate laying an obstruct justice charge. This has to change.”

    Falconer represents a 19-year-old Black male, Dafonte Miller, who was beaten with a metal pipe last December in Whitby — extensive injuries suffered, including permanent loss of vision in one eye, broken orbital bone, broken nose, fractured wrist — allegedly by two brothers, one of whom was an off-duty Toronto cop. And further, Falconer maintains, that their father, himself a Toronto cop with Professional Standards, was complicit in concealing his sons’ alleged crimes by having communication with the Durham investigators. He sets out, in his formally filed complaint, “clear steps that were taken in protecting these two thugs.”

    The investigation, as it unfolded that night, certainly appears shabby, with the brothers’ version of events — that they’d been attacked by Miller, with a pipe — accepted as de facto truth, with no follow-through on how Miller came by all those serious injuries. Nor was the SIU informed of the incident — as is required when a member of the public suffers serious injury or death in an incident involving police — until four months later.

    The interim upshot: All charges against Miller were withdrawn. The SIU has charged Michael and Christian Theriault with aggravated assault, assault with a weapon and public mischief for misleading investigators. Nothing against their father, Det. John Theriault.

    Not good enough, argues Falconer.

    “We have to equip our SIU investigators with the same powers of other police officers. We have to create consequences for the police when they undermine an investigation the way in my opinion this investigation was deliberately undermined. There are no incentives for them to comply with the law.

    “Think of the exposure for John Theriault’s two sons had the right thing been done that night and SIU been brought in right away. All of the incentives operate in the opposite direction. There is no law they’re breaking when they undermine an SIU investigation but if they get nailed they face severe consequences. The incentives go in the wrong direction.

    “It’s high time that we make sure that it’s safe for our SIU directors to lay the appropriate charges. Public mischief won’t do it.”

    With the confluence of so many recent events involving on-duty and off-duty cops, the crisis of confidence in policing has become acute.

    But it’s no longer just a handful of activists and journalists decrying police delinquency and monkey-business.

    The public is demanding: What the hell?

    Rosie DiManno usually appears Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

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