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- 08/18/17--14:53: _For those fleeing t...
- 08/19/17--04:00: _Eaton Centre Uniqlo...
- 08/18/17--06:30: _Donald Trump marche...
- 08/18/17--09:54: _Steve Bannon fired ...
- 08/18/17--14:11: _At the centre of To...
- 08/19/17--04:37: _Two men in serious ...
- 08/18/17--21:00: _Refugees stuck in b...
- 08/18/17--10:11: _Back to the future:...
- 08/18/17--09:00: _Bitterness lingers ...
- 08/18/17--14:15: _How best to spend $...
- 08/18/17--12:12: _Fleeing to Canada, ...
- 08/18/17--08:00: _Canadian victim of ...
- 08/19/17--16:32: _Millions expected t...
- 08/19/17--15:28: _Charlottesville ral...
- 08/19/17--11:52: _Crumbling gangland ...
- 08/19/17--12:30: _U.S. signals Trump’...
- 08/20/17--04:00: _Series of mishaps k...
- 08/20/17--06:40: _Homicide unit inves...
- 08/19/17--19:17: _Wreck of warship US...
- 08/20/17--04:00: _How should the turt...
- 08/19/17--04:00: Eaton Centre Uniqlo workers seeking to unionize
- 08/18/17--06:30: Donald Trump marches to war — in his own country: Burman
- 08/18/17--09:54: Steve Bannon fired as White House chief strategist
- 08/19/17--04:37: Two men in serious condition after hotel shooting downtown
- 08/18/17--14:15: How best to spend $50 at the CNE
- 08/19/17--16:32: Millions expected to watch solar eclipse
- 08/19/17--11:52: Crumbling gangland partnership probed in two botched GTA murder bids
- 08/20/17--04:00: How should the turtle cross the road?
We’ve all grown up with the story of living alongside the world’s longest undefended border. Here’s another chapter.
For the last few summers, we’ve vacationed on the Vermont side of the frontier with family friends from the U.S., perched a stone’s throw from the international boundary.
I get to jog past American border patrols, bicycle up to checkpoints (passport in hand), and hike alongside unguarded border markings. We browse for books at the Haskell Library that straddles the two countries, where a line along the floor marks the border (no fines for crossing over, just for late returns).
The stories of Stanstead (Canada) and Derby Line (USA) — twin towns whose intertwined sewer lines and bloodlines surmount the borderline — have always been too good to be true. For decades, their shared cross-border heritage withstood the transgressions of smugglers sneaking in booze, drugs and guns.
Then came 9/11 — and terrorist fears tightened up security while loosening interconnectedness. Today, a line of oversized flower pots has closed off the street alongside the historic library. A border patrol vehicle is a constant presence, with American agents reflexively reminding all bookworms not to worm their way into America.
Where once residents of the USA could casually cross the aptly named Canusa St. to use our sidewalk, they must now report to the border post. Homes that once offered the best of both worlds have plunged in price as prospective buyers feared double trouble.
Despite the strain, co-existence continued. This year, the frontier felt different.
Walking unchallenged through a wildlife sanctuary abutting the border — where the white markings of the International Boundary Commission dot the landscape — I couldn’t help thinking of the recent surge in migrants, who take the extra step of crossing onto Canadian soil. It must be odd for the ever-vigilant American patrols on the borderline, now watching from the sidelines, mindful less of infiltration than exfiltration.
Initially, many Canadians reacted to the news reports with customary smugness and superiority about our humane treatment of downtrodden refugees. But it bears repeating that the sudden increase — Haitians make up an estimated 85 per cent — isn’t as simple as a Donald Trump crackdown versus a Justin Trudeau haven.
In fact, the U.S. still gives sanctuary to Haitians in the wake of a 2010 earthquake, though it is under review. Ottawa quietly resumed deportations in 2014. That means they still have legal status in Trump’s America, but not in Trudeau’s Canada.
That’s not to say Ottawa was wrong to wrap up its program — the earthquake occurred seven years ago — just that it’s wrongheaded to view Canada as the good guy and America as the bad guy. Despite the obvious strains in U.S. immigration policy, its refugee system is still better than most, and Canada has been deporting Haitians while the U.S. hasn’t.
Most have crossed into Quebec, and many will soon be sent to temporary housing in eastern Ontario. They are exploiting a little-understood loophole in our carefully regulated but largely undefended frontier: refugee claimants are turned back at official border points if they already have safe haven in the U.S., yet are allowed to file new claims in Canada if they walk over in between crossings.
It is an axiom of refugee policy that you shouldn’t shuttle from one safe haven to another in search of a better outcome. And as difficult as Haiti can be, economic migrants aren’t bona fide refugees.
“Unless you are being persecuted or fleeing terror or war, you would not qualify as a refugee,” Transport Minister Marc Garneau noted Thursday after the RCMP announced nearly 4,000 crossings so far this month — double the rate for July and five times the pace in June.
The rising tide of refugee claims is a reminder of the sometimes irresistible impulse that drives so many migrants to take risks — and try their chances elsewhere. Easy as it is for us here in Canada to criticize others (notably Europeans and Australians) for trying to stem the tide of boat people, the relatively modest surge in arrivals here puts the problem in perspective.
The only consolation for those crossing the Canada-U.S. border is that they are not risking their lives on unseaworthy vessels in the hands of human smugglers. The death rate among migrants crossing the Mediterranean has nearly doubled, with more than 1,500 lives lost so far this year.
Haitian arrivals deserve to be treated with humanity and dignity — and due process. Yet the surge is a recipe for refugee chaos and dashed hopes if it continues unabated.
And a reminder that the fantasy of open borders — the cornerstone of which is compliance — is usually a story without a happy ending.
Martin Regg Cohn's political column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. email@example.com , Twitter: @reggcohn
Martin Regg Cohn's political column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. firstname.lastname@example.org , Twitter: @reggcohn
Employees at the Uniqlo store at Toronto Eaton Centre have decided to hold a vote on whether to join a union to improve conditions at the Japanese apparel retailer’s first Canadian location.
Staff at the store are being scheduled for 9.5-hour workdays that include 90 minutes of unpaid breaks and they are often asked to work overtime on top of that, said Chicheng Wat, 35, who works on the sales floor and in the management office.
“People say: ‘It’s just retail, what do you expect,’ but we work hard, we deserve to be treated fairly,” said Wat.
Other employees have said that during peak periods, they are expected to work 12-hour days, said Tanya Ferguson, organizing co-ordinator for Workers United Canada Council.
“I think fundamentally what it comes down to is there just seems to be a lack of respect,” said Ferguson.
The 169 non-management Eaton Centre store employees are scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to join Workers United Canada, after more than 40 per cent of them signed union cards — the first step in the process toward union certification.
If 50 per cent plus one of the votes are in favour of a union, they can begin negotiating a contract with management.
Uniqlo, a division of Japan’s Fast Retailing Co. Ltd., opened two stores in the GTA last year, the first at the Eaton Centre, the second at Yorkdale. It sells casualwear for men, women and children. It is planning to open a third Canadian store in Burnaby, B.C.
Uniqlo has 837 stores in Japan, accounting for 6.5 per cent of the Japanese apparel market and it is now pursuing growth via global markets in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea the United Kingdom, where it began opening stores in 2001.
It has 51 stores in the U.S.
Uniqlo Canada said it could not make the deadline to comment for this story.
Workers first reached out to the union in July, after hearing of its success in organizing personal trainers at GoodLife Fitness.
“They felt the best way to improve the workplace and stem high turnover was to unionize,” said Ryan Hayes, communications and research, Workers United Canada Council.
“To our knowledge, this is the first unionization drive at a Uniqlo anywhere in the world.”
The union, which has its roots in the garment trade, represents 10,000 workers in Canada and is part of a North American union representing 100,000, said Hayes.
Is America edging closer to a second civil war? In normal times, this question would be dismissed as absurd. But these are no longer normal times.
After all, this was the week when, as scholar David Rothkopf put it in The Washington Post,“Donald Trump gave the most disgusting public performance in the history of the American presidency.”
In doing so, the 45th president of the United States, already suspected of being a Russian stooge, revealed himself with extraordinary clarity as an apologist for white supremacists, neo-Nazis and anti-Semites.
But this past week also revealed more. We saw the real danger of Trump’s presidency. By reminding us of his lifetime pattern of fuelling racist divisions to achieve his goals, we saw what Trump will truly risk to ensure his personal survival.
So this question — of whether the U.S. is hurtling toward catastrophic internal conflict as a result — is now being taken seriously by serious people.
In an article in this week’s New Yorker — titled “Is America headed for a new kind of civil war?”— journalist Robin Wright asks a corollary question: “How fragile is the Union, our republic, and a country that has long been considered the world’s most stable democracy? The dangers are now bigger than the collective episodes of violence.”
She quotes the Southern Poverty Law Center: “The radical right was more successful in entering the political mainstream last year than in half a century.”
Last March, Foreign Policy magazine asked several national security experts to evaluate the risks of a second civil war. The consensus number was about 30 per cent, although some put it as high as 60 per cent or even 95 per cent.
Keith Mines was one of those experts. With a career in the U.S. army, State Department and the United Nations, Mines estimated the U.S. faces a 60 per cent chance of civil war over the next 10 to 15 years.
He cited five factors to justify his prediction: “entrenched national polarization,” divisive press coverage, weakened institutions such as the press and judiciary, “total sellout of the Republican leadership” and a belief that “violence is ‘in’ as a method to solve disputes and get one’s way.”
As for events that could spark civil war, Mines listed a terrorist attack, economic downturn, a racial event that spirals out of control or impeachment of the president or his fall from office: “It is like 1859,” Mines wrote. “Everyone is mad about something and everyone has a gun.”
In a presidency that has already experienced dozens of eye-popping moments, Donald Trump’s sickening news conference last Tuesday topped them all.
In a rambling, combative account of how he saw the events last weekend in Charlottesville, Va., Trump equated the neo-Nazi thugs who triggered the violence that led to three deaths and many injured with the people who protested their presence: “There were very fine people on both sides,” he said.
The depravity of that false claim was dramatically exposed in a chilling 20-minute documentary produced by Vice News and distributed widely to U.S. and international media outlets. It can be seen through the Vice website (vice.com).
The documentary opens with torch-wielding white men chanting “Jews will not replace us” and the Nazi slogan, “Blood and soil.” It includes interviews with the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who came to Charlottesville for the march. It reveals how well they were organized and rebuts any suggestion that there were “very fine people” among them, as Trump claimed.
Jews were particular targets. During the march through Charlottesville last Saturday, a group of neo-Nazis with semi-automatic weapons in their hands stood across from the city’s historic Beth Israel synagogue during Shabbat services, shouting slogans such as “Sieg Heil.” The rabbi advised congregants to leave the synagogue through the back door.
If the response to Trump’s actions among Republican leaders was mixed, even muted, the international reaction to this week was ferocious.
“America is now a dangerous nation,” wrote Gideon Rachman, chief foreign affairs columnist for the Financial Times.
Rachman noted the danger that Trump will use global and domestic conflicts to evade the growing threat of the Russian investigation.
And the enormity of the challenge was surely evident this week.
The U.S. president appears to have decided that he will protect his own skin — come hell or high water — even at the expense of the country’s interests. This is an extraordinary moment in modern American history.
Tony Burman is former head of Al Jazeera English and CBC News. Reach him @TonyBurman or at email@example.com .
Tony Burman is former head of Al Jazeera English and CBC News. Reach him @TonyBurman or at firstname.lastname@example.org .
WASHINGTON—Steve Bannon, the polarizing nationalist whose race-baiting tactics have been an incendiary hallmark of U.S. President Donald Trump’s flailing young administration, was ousted on Friday in another indication of the White House chaos that shows no sign of abating.
Bannon was the fourth top Trump aide to be fired or to resign in less than a month, an alarming rate of turnover for a presidency just seven months old. He was the second aide, after Anthony Scaramucci, to be forced out after calling up a journalist and ranting about his colleagues.
The departure of Bannon, described by the White House as a mutual decision, comes as Trump’s new chief of staff, former Marine Gen. John Kelly, tries to find a way to impose discipline on a dysfunctional organization mired in infighting, policy confusion and a race-related confidence crisis.
The move pleased, though did not satisfy, leaders of minority communities who had been aghast at the elevation of a person with Bannon’s views to a position of power. On the other side, some nationalist conservatives were alarmed that Trump’s inner circle is now nearly devoid of aides who subscribe to his racially inflammatory, economically protectionist populism.
“The Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over,” Bannon told the Weekly Standard magazine. “We still have a huge movement, and we will make something of this Trump presidency. But that presidency is over. It’ll be something else.”
Bannon blamed “the Republican establishment” for the failure of Trump’s attempts at unorthodoxy.
“The Republican establishment has no interest in Trump’s success on this. They’re not populists, they’re not nationalists, they had no interest in his program. Zero,” he said.
Bannon was beloved by segments of the president’s base, including trade hawks, opponents of immigration and anti-Muslim bigots. His take-no-prisoners attitude toward Trump’s critics and the media, which he gleefully labelled “the opposition party,” made him a symbol and a proponent of Trump’s unusually antagonistic public message.
It was far from clear Bannon’s exit would change anything about Trump’s behaviour. The president, resistant to advice of all kinds, has sounded Bannon-like notes on race and trade for decades.
“Steve Bannon’s firing is welcome news, but it doesn’t disguise where President Trump himself stands on white supremacists and the bigoted beliefs they advance,” House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.
Scaramucci, press secretary Sean Spicer and chief of staff Reince Priebus all preceded Bannon in leaving the White House over the past 30 days, a period during which Trump has threatened North Korea with nuclear war and triggered global condemnation by defending participants in a white supremacist demonstration in which a woman was allegedly murdered by an alleged racist.
As Trump’s campaign CEO for the last three months before November’s election, Bannon helped engineer one of the most improbable triumphs in American political history. As a presidential strategist, he had few victories.
He was a leading proponent of the base-first, outreach-last strategy has kept Trump in the good graces of Republicans but also kept his overall approval rating stuck at historically low levels. And though he cultivated a reputation as a Machiavellian mastermind, he was often outmanoeuvred by aides with more liberal and more conventional views.
Bannon is now free to scheme as he wishes. Sources close to him told various U.S. outlets that he would wage a fierce battle from the outside against the former internal rivals, such as Jared Kushner and Gary Cohn, he believes are establishment “globalists” insufficiently committed to Trump’s “America First” campaign agenda.
Joshua Green, author of a book on Bannon, said Bannon was returning immediately to Breitbart News, the website he had once turned into a “platform” for the white supremacist “alt-right” – leaving the White House to chair the website’s evening editorial meeting.
Bannon told Green that he would be fighting on Trump’s behalf, not against him.
“If there’s any confusion out there, let me clear it up: I’m leaving the White House and going to war for Trump against his opponents – on Capitol Hill, in the media, and in corporate America,” Bannon said.
Bannon’s history of bigotry, including years of unconcealed anti-Muslim sentiment and Breitbart fearmongering about Black people and Hispanic immigrants, had made him the most controversial adviser to Trump. Democrats had demanded Trump remove him in the wake of the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Va. on Saturday.
But this is probably not why Bannon was shuffled out. Trump defended Bannon at a press conference on Tuesday, saying he was “not a racist.” Ominously, he added: “We’ll see what happens with Mr. Bannon.”
Among the people pushing for Bannon to be fired, according to the New York Times, was conservative media titan Rupert Murdoch, an informal Trump adviser. Politico reported that Kelly did not understand what Bannon was actually doing, or why he was so disliked by the rest of the team.
Bannon had feuded with several of his colleagues, including Trump’s son-in-law, Kushner, and was suspected to have irked Trump by appearing to orchestrate a campaign to discredit national security adviser H.R. McMaster. He had angered Trump and others this week by phoning a left-leaning journalist, unprompted, and sharing candid thoughts about North Korea policy and about other administration figures.
Bannon’s remarks on North Korea, in which he said the idea of a military strike was unrealistic given the regime’s ability to devastate Seoul, were seen as undercutting the president’s own threat of “fire and fury,” confusing Asian allies.
Some of Trump’s irritation with Bannon was not about policy at all. U.S. media outlets have reported that Trump resented the credit Bannon has received for election success that Trump sees as his own.
Trump was said to be especially annoyed by a Time magazine cover of Bannon in February that labelled the strategist “The Great Manipulator” and by Green’s Bannon-focused book on the campaign, Devil’sBargain.
“Mr. Bannon came on very late — you know that,” Trump said Tuesday when asked if he still had confidence in Bannon. “I went through 17 senators, governors and I won all the primaries. Mr. Bannon came on very much later than that, and I like him, he’s a good man.”
Bannon, who has pushed Trump to take an aggressive stand on NAFTA, was even the subject of controversy in Canada. This week, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair called on Gerald Butts, Bannon’s counterpart in the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to “immediately disavow” the supposed friendship the New Yorker magazine reported Butts had developed with Bannon.
In addition to encouraging Trump to embrace race-baiting, Bannon also served as a resident skeptic of military action and advocate of left-leaning economic proposals like hiking taxes on millionaires. The New Yorker suggested Bannon was partly inspired by Butts’s account of Trudeau’s success with such a tax hike.
New York Stock Exchange traders were heard on television cheering when the Bannon news broke.
In a rare public appearance, at a conservative conference in Washington in February, Bannon drew cheers by advocating the “deconstruction of the administrative state,” by urging a focus on “sovereignty” and by railing against the “corporatist, globalist media.”
Bannon had sounded confident in his standing in the administration as recently as Tuesday, when he boasted of his plans to get some of his rivals fired.
“They’re wetting themselves,” he said.
She carefully unfolds a foil wrapper, delicately removes the crumble of tar heroin within, places it in a spoon. Spits to moisten. Flicks a lighter to cook it, the substance dissolving into a viscous liquid. Rips open a clean needle and draws the solution into the barrel.
Hands it to the man she loves.
He leans over to look at himself in a small mirror. Plunges the needle into his neck.
His name, he says, is Oliver Smith and he’s 34 years old, addicted to heroin since he was 21.
On this afternoon, with rolling IV — saline bag and monitor — still attached to one arm, Smith has trundled over from St. Michael’s Hospital to the pop-up “safe” injection site at Moss Park for his fix. Even though he’s on a methadone regimen. He makes this excursion at least twice a day.
Plodding back to the hospital, passersby offer him food: a burger from McDonald’s, an apple, a doughnut. He is grateful. Especially so when a church volunteer presses a small Bible into his hand.
“Can I have one too?” asks his long-time girlfriend, Angie Austin.
She had just injected herself as well, immediately nodding off, chin sinking into her breast bone.
They are nice people, well-known in the neighbourhood. Many stop to say hello. “His sweetie,” says Austin to a street friend. Several inquire about the IV. “My foot got infected,” Smith explains.
Unlike many of their acquaintances, Smith and Austin aren’t homeless. They live in a subsidized apartment.
But they are both deeply ashamed.
“I grew up in Mississauga,” says Smith. “A Jamaican family living in a middle-class white community. I never felt accepted. Only when I got high with my friends, both white and Black. That gave me a kind of acceptance, you know? At first it was just dope, then I started snorting cocaine. But cocaine is really a nonsociable drug. When you come down, there’s this burnt-out feeling, yucky feeling. So I moved on to opiates.
“The fentanyl scares me. I’ve overdosed 11, 12 times.’’
Austin: “You never know what you’re getting, what the heroin has been mixed with.”
That’s why they’ve been taking advantage of the Moss Park facility — an unsanctioned “safe” and hygienic facility operated by harm reduction volunteers, including a nurse who observes every injection. At least one OD has occurred at the site, last weekend, but workers — with naloxone kits (the nasal spray fentanyl antidote) holstered to their belts — were able to revive the individual before paramedics arrived.
Three permanent injection sites are planned for downtown, South Riverdale and Parkdale but not scheduled to open until the fall. This pop-up and perhaps others are intended to fill that gap amidst an opioids crisis in the city.
“Most of us work in harm reduction,” explains Nick Broyce, whose full-time job is in that field. “All these volunteers are highly experienced in harm reduction, how to respond to overdoses. We’ve revived multiple people.’’
This is a tawdry area of Toronto, surrounded by missions and hostels, possibly the city’s most crime-infested neighbourhood. But businesses line Queen St. and there are new condo buildings nearby. Few are amenable to an injection site added into the mix, fearful of even more crime and violence as a result.
“I don’t think we’re drawing more people into the area who are problematic,” counters Broyce. “These are people who were already here. We’ve set up away from the park benches and the playground. And we clean up every day, remove needles that were discarded overnight.
The injection tents have been set up between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Over-the-counter naloxone kits are available free from pharmacies in Ontario — 80,000 kits have been distributed by the Health Ministry this year — but Broyce points out that users seeking them have to show a health card. “Many don’t have them, don’t have any ID, don’t have a permanent address.”
Not all heroin users fit the stereotype, nor are they all addicts. But clearly many have all sorts of related issues — mental health problems, poverty, the physical manifestations of living rough.
“They’re already highly stigmatized,” Broyce continues. “Is it better to deal with addiction as a health issue or a moral issue — bad people making bad choices? These are vulnerable people who often don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Many have serious mental issues. What is there for them to attach to? For all kinds of reasons many attach to drugs.”
Walking her boyfriend back to the hospital, Austin, 42, describes why she first turned to heroin nine years ago. “Because of him,” she says, referring to Smith. “Because he was using and at first I didn’t even know, he hid it from me. After I found out, I thought it would bring us closer, that it would help our relationship. It was the stupidest thing I’ve ever done in my life.”
Smith: “I told her not to.”
And now here they are, all these years later, leaning on each other, often trying — and failing — to get clean. “Withdrawal is awful,” says Smith. “It makes you sicker than anything you can imagine. I want a normal life, a job, to be able to see my young son without upsetting him. I don’t want him to see me like this.”
Austin, who has no family: “I would love to work with kids in some way. If I could help change just one child’s life . . . ”
Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, and others, have called for a public discussion on decriminalizing all drugs, in the wake of the ongoing overdose epidemic; some 2,400 deaths in Canada last year believed attributable to opioid-related ODs.
A matter of health rather than criminality, they argue.
Which is facile to promote from a distance, from a harm-reduction posture, from even the outsider intimacy of front-line workers.
At ground zero of heroin addiction, the view is not necessarily what you’d expect.
Smith: “No, no, no, I’m not in favour of that. We shouldn’t make it easier to end up like me.”
Austin: “Being illegal, that’s what scares a lot of people away from doing it. I wish it had scared me. I wish I could go back.”
Rosie DiManno usually appears Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
Rosie DiManno usually appears Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
Two men are in serious condition following a shooting in a downtown hotel early Saturday.
Toronto police Const. Caroline de Kloet said two men were found with gunshot wounds in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency hotel at King St. W. and Peter St. near Spadina Ave. around 4:30 a.m.
“One man had a gunshot wound to his stomach and the other man had a gunshot wound to his leg,” she said.
Both were conscious and breathing when they were transported to hospital.
Toronto police were still on the scene as of Saturday morning continuing the investigation. There is currently no information on suspects.
Anyone with information is being asked to contact police at 416-808-5200 or Crime Stoppers at 416-222-8477.
Anyone with information is being asked to contact police at 416-808-5200 or Crime Stoppers at 416-222-8477.
Refugee claimants stuck in Canada’s growing backlog have a chance to get their cases heard speedily — if they can afford to take the Immigration and Refugee Board to court.
The Star has learned that at least a dozen asylum cases in which claimants took the board to court, including some that have been in the queue since 2012 and earlier, have been scheduled for hearings by the board since July.
By giving the asylum-seekers their long-awaited hearings, the board avoided the possibility the Federal Court would make a ruling in relation to its handling of the backlog.
Critics say timely processing of asylum claims should not be available only to those who pursue legal action against the government.
“Those who have money can go to the expensive litigation and may be able to get a resolution for themselves,” said lawyer Raoul Boulakia, who represented two of these asylum claimants, a Sri Lankan man and a woman from Burundi.
“But this is not the answer for the vast majority of refugees in the backlog who don’t have the money or are too afraid to litigate against the Canadian government.”
There are some 5,500 so-called legacy asylum claims, those that were filed before 2012 reforms that required new cases to be heard within 60 days. While the refugee board has focused on the new claims, the legacy cases were put on the back-burner. Even some of the new cases have been delayed, meaning the backlog has continued to grow.
Exacerbating the situation is the surge of asylum seekers crossing the border via the United States since President Donald Trump came into power.
The board declined to comment on the litigation, saying it doesn’t comment on individual cases or private proceedings.
Board spokesperson Anna Pape said the refugee backlog stood at 25,365 in June 2017 and is currently growing at a rate of about 1,000 cases per month.
“Over the past 18 months, the (board) has been facing mounting workload pressures amid a rising intake of refugee claims and fixed output capacity. These pressures have led directly to lengthening processing times,” she said.
So far, Ottawa hasn’t provided additional funding to the board, which has the capacity to hear about 21,000 claims a year.
In 2015, some frustrated claimants in the backlog initiated what’s known as “mandamus” litigation with the Federal Court of Canada in an effort to challenge the inaction of the board on their files and order officials to adjudicate their cases.
The backlog has created tremendous hardship for some claimants, who are often separated from their families and cannot plan their lives without permanent status.
Legal Aid Ontario does not usually cover mandamus litigation, but it did fund some of the claimants — from Afghanistan, Burundi, Congo, Eritrea, Guinea, Namibia, Somalia, Sri Lanka and Turkey — represented by Boulakia and the Refugee Law Office in Toronto. There were also similar cases handled by other lawyers.
One of Boulakia’s clients, Ingrid Ntahigima, was a member of the Movement for Solidarity and Democracy, an opposition party in Burundi. She fled to Canada and made an asylum claim in October 2012 due to political persecution.
For years the refugee board didn’t hear her case, despite her repeated pleas and a psychiatric report that showed she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder due to trauma in Burundi and severe depression as a result of the inability to get her asylum resolved.
“I didn’t have any option. I felt so powerless. I didn’t see any hope. I didn’t see any future,” said the 25-year-old from Bujumbura, who works as a customer service representative. She paid more than $3,000 for the litigation out of her own pocket.
“The wait wasn’t necessary. They wasted five years of my life. I understand there is a process, but this is people’s lives. Five years is a long time. It should not be that way. It is just unfair.”
In July, the refugee board agreed to schedule the asylum hearing for Ntahigima and the other litigants. After previewing the woman’s file before the hearing, a refugee judge decided to grant her asylum status immediately because she had such a strong claim. Once she was given a hearing date, her court case was over.
“The violence that reigns in Burundi includes acts of violence motivated by ethnic hatred against the Tutsi minority. Since the claimant is identified as being an opponent of the current regime, she risks being targeted, arrested and abused by the Burundian authorities,” wrote adjudicator Robert Riley in his asylum decision.
“The political opinion of the claimant, combined with her ethnicity, establishes a nexus to the (United Nations) Convention refugee definition.”
While Ntahigima is relieved that she can now move on with her life, she feels the delay was unnecessary.
“Justice delayed is justice denied,” said Ntahigima, who is trying to save up money to apply for permanent residency and continue her university education, hopefully pursuing a degree in international studies and business.
“I’m happy I was granted (refugee) status and can now move on with my life, but it is an injustice if you don’t have the money to sue or are too afraid to raise your voice.”
Ontario police can be forgiven for doing double takes this summer at the sight of bikers wearing the grinning devil patch of the Satan’s Choice Motorcycle Club on their backs.
Once the second largest outlaw motorcycle club in the world, the Satan’s Choice club folded in December 2000 when it was absorbed by the Hells Angels.
This summer, a group of Durham and Ottawa-area bikers have re-invented the Satan’s Choice club, which will likely upset Hells Angels bikers, said Det. Sgt. Len Isnor of the OPP Biker Enforcement Unit.
“It’s a bit shocking,” Isnor said. “By somebody bringing them back, there could be some problems. Yes, we’re going to watch.”
The Hells Angels had no immediate comment on the new club.
The old Satan’s Choice had well-publicized clashes with the law, but the new version of the club plans to stay out of jail and trouble, according to a spokesperson, who spoke to the Star on the condition that his name not be published.
“We want to keep the club alive but we’re all law-abiding citizens,” he said.
The new Satan’s Choice moved into the Ottawa area last month and has 48 members and two “strikers” — or prospective members — the spokesperson said.
The re-emergence of the Satan’s Choice in Eastern Ontario comes after the Hells Angels shut down its elite Nomads chapter outside Ottawa last September. That Hells Angels’ chapter was based in in a 0.92-acre, gated compound off Highway 417, just a 15-minute drive from downtown Ottawa.
The new Satan’s Choice spokesperson said his club has a clubhouse, although he declined to say where it’s located.
The move to re-establish the Satan’s Choice comes out of respect for older members and the tradition of an all-Canadian club, he said. The club was originally founded in the GTA as part of an auto club back in the late 1950s.
“We have talked to several of the original members and have had nothing but positive feedback from them,” said the new Satan’s Choice spokesperson.
The Satan’s Choice has always been an all-Canadian club. They folded briefly in the early 1960s and then re-emerged under former international boxer Bernie Guindon of Oshawa. It grew to more than 300 members by the early 1970s, making it the second largest outlaw motorcycle club in the world, behind only the Hells Angels.
There are currently 200 full Hells Angels in Ontario and 500 across Canada, Isnor said.
The Hells Angels are a U.S.-based, international club with members on five continents and in 56 countries, according to the club’s website.
The old Satan’s Choice had several well-publicized clashes with the law, including several members who became involved in drug trafficking. Former member Cecil Kirby disappeared into a witness protection program in the early 1980s after admitting he had been hired to do murders for the local mob.
Their former clubhouse on Kintyre Ave. in south Riverdale was hit with a rocket launcher attack in the mid-1990s.
By early 1942, in one of the bleakest periods of the Second World War, Germany occupied most of Europe. Allied forces had been pushed back across the English Channel to Britain. Nazi forces were driving into the Soviet Union toward Moscow.
The Allies were desperate for a foothold on the continent and a chance to stop Hitler’s war machine.
So 75 years ago, the Royal Regiment of Canada, mostly men from Toronto, many not long out of boyhood, was tapped to be part of the star-crossed Raid on Dieppe, in occupied France, in the early hours of Aug. 19.
“Everything was against them,” says Doug Olver, son of Pte. William Olver, who would survive a catastrophe that was to write Dieppe into a dark chapter of this country’s history books.
Canadians accounted for almost 5,000 of the 6,100 troops involved in the raid, code-named Operation Jubilee. More than 900 Canadian soldiers were killed and thousands more wounded and taken prisoner.
Of the 554 soldiers from the Royal Regiment of Canada, landing on the beach at Puys, 227 died in battle or later from wounds and 264 were taken prisoner.
It was the highest casualty rate of any Canadian battalion in all of the Second World War for one day’s fighting.
It was only about 18 months ago that Doug Surphlis, Doug Olver and Jayne Poolton-Turvey got to know each other.
But you might say, that as sons and daughter of men who were part of the Raid on Dieppe and ended up as PoWs, they have been living with versions of the same story and the consequences of that awful morning all their lives.
“My mother said it destroyed hundreds of families in Toronto,” says Doug Olver, a retired corrections officer from Georgetown.
So many men killed. So many badly wounded. So many brutalized in PoW camps and returning after the war with what is now known as post-traumatic stress disorder.
“They never got help for it,” says Poolton-Turvey, of Barrie. “They just came back and slid into whatever job or career, family, mortgages, whatever, and they lived their lives.
“We all lived with a former prisoner-of-war who had PTSD and they suffered in silence,” she says.
While silence about war’s horror was not uncommon among vets, it was compounded for the Dieppe men with embarrassment at the disaster of it all and guilt at the massive losses.
“They never spoke about it because it was such a horror story on Blue Beach,” says Olver, using the code name for the beach at Puys.
“When I was a kid, I never heard the word ‘Dieppe’ uttered in my house except once a year. My father always took Aug. 19 off. He wasn’t a drinker, but he would have a couple of scotches that day. And my mother would whisper, ‘Dieppe.’ ”
Buried along with the grief was the anger at what the decision-makers had sent them into at Dieppe.
“They were sent there without any hope of success,” says Poolton-Turvey. “My father always felt that they had been sacrificed.”
That’s why she, Olver and Surphlis got active in their “Every Man Remembered” campaign, and why the three children of Royal Regiment soldiers will be present at Dieppe on Saturday for the 75th anniversary of the raid.
Along with about 75 other descendants of soldiers, they will sail into Dieppe to “see what (their relatives) would have seen as they were going in.”
Initially, the Raid on Dieppe was to be known as “Operation Rutter” and planned for July 1942. It was intended to test German coastal defences and gain experience for the massive amphibious assault — D-Day — that would be necessary to defeat Germany.
Bad weather caused that plan to be postponed. Many wanted it abandoned entirely.
Doug Olver says his father recalled that when the men were told of the first assault plan in July, there was cheering by soldiers eager to get on with the job.
But after they returned from leave after the cancellation and were told in August that the raid was back on as Operation Jubilee, “they were in shock.
“They thought, ‘Oh, my God, what if word has leaked out since last month?’ ”
The Royals were expected to take the small beach and scale the western headlands to knock out German artillery that overlooked the town of Dieppe and its harbour. That would enable the main Canadian force to gain a foothold within Dieppe and beyond.
Everything depended on “stealth, surprise, the cover of darkness,” Olver says. “That was the only way they could succeed in this difficult task of climbing the cliffs.”
From the beginning, however, the plans went awry.
About few kilometres out from Dieppe, as soldiers the were climbing from their mother ships into artillery landing craft at about 3:40 a.m., they ran into a German naval convoy.
The battle was short but loud. “Bullets are pinging off the little craft that my father and uncle were kneeling down in,” Olver says.
The noise alerted any German who might have been sleeping on the coast.
“They’re now in their concrete pillboxes, at their posts,” Olver says. “They just quietly watched as the first wave came in.”
Pte. William Olver, just turned 23, was in the first landing craft and touched down at 5:07 a.m., his son says. They were 17 minutes late because of the engagement with the German convoy and the cover of night was giving way to dawn.
By the time the second wave landed shortly afterward, it was broad daylight.
William Olver was the first man to hit the Puys beach, which was about the size of a football field and shaped like a horseshoe. Olver was also one of the first to cross the beach to the base of the seawall. “That’s what saved his life,” says Doug Olver.
“The Germans waited until his boat was empty and other boats had come on shore. Then they opened a horrific crossfire.
“You’re being shot at from the front, you’re being shot from the left, you’re being shot from the right and right behind you is the English Channel. You had nowhere to go.”
The Allied soldiers “never saw one German until it was all over,” he says.
“There were only approximately 60-70 Germans defending that beach against about 600 men,” Olver says. “But that’s all they needed because of the gun pillboxes.”
As the Canadians were cut down like targets in a shooting range on the beach, or even before they could exit their landing craft, Olver’s father reached the four-metre high seawall with a few other men.
One was Sgt. Charles Surphlis, who almost drowned in the landing. The two men, along with two others on the beach that day, would become friends in the PoW camp and work together after the war for 30 years in the Metropolitan Toronto Police.
Olver blew a hole in the wall and began to scale it.
That’s when he saw the first enemy soldiers, waiting for him.
Atop the seawall, the Canadians were stripped of their weapons. But a young soldier with Olver was shot in the head when the Germans spotted a penknife in his hand.
“So my father thought they were all going to be executed.”
On the beach below, as hundreds of Olver’s comrades lay dead or dying, another German officer came along and taunted him about how prepared the enemy had been for the Allied arrival.
“What happened? You are four days late.”
The campaign to honour the men of Dieppe has “kind of consumed my life,” says Poolton-Turvey, who wrote a book with her late father, Pte. Jack Poolton, in 1998 called Destined to Survive.
“I would go with him to speak at schools and community groups, and I started to learn the story.”
Last year, a group of Dieppe descendants gathered to share information and ensure the sacrifice of their fathers is not forgotten.
Since then, Poolton-Turvey has tried to track down information on almost all the Royals who landed on Blue Beach.
It will be collected in one place where all those vets will be recognized, where future generations can find information about their ancestors.
Poolton-Turvey also organized the tour in which family members of Dieppe vets have travelled to France for the anniversary.
“We’re all going to be standing there shoulder to shoulder honouring the men.”
Photos, a short biography and a Canadian flag will be placed on the graves of the 189 Royal Regiment soldiers buried in the cemetery at Dieppe. (The bodies of some of those killed were never found and others who died later of wounds are buried elsewhere.)
Of the Royals landing on Blue Beach, more than 260 were taken prisoner. During almost three years in captivity, they were given meagre rations, shackled for months at a time, and near the end of the war some endured a “death march” across Germany before being liberated in 1945.
These men were heroes “who never got recognized,” says Poolton-Turvey.
“I’m going to make sure that people know.”
A family tradition, I’ve gone to the CNE every year of my life that I can remember. I come with a plan, knowing every ride I want to go on as soon as I get there, after a stop at the Tiny Tom Donut stand (which is vastly superior to every other CNE mini-donut brand), of course. But this time was different, because of the $50 budget I was assigned, which included $19 admission. After a quick scan of the midway, it was go-time.
$21.25 — ride tickets
While Vjosa brought her appetite to the CNE, I came there to let out my inner-child. Making a bee-line for the ticket booth, I started out by buying 12 tickets for $15. That got me on two rides: Polar Express (six tickets) and the bumper cars (five tickets). There I was, a grown man and fully licensed driver, ramming into dozens of tweens with braces. It felt good.
But with one useless ticket left, and an overpowering desire to take a ride on the swings, I purchased five more tickets for $6.25 (which ended up putting me slightly over budget). It turns out I had missed a deal all along, because for 75 more cents, I could have guaranteed myself eight rides in total. Learn from my mistakes.
$5.00 — games
No day at a fair is complete without at least one try at the midway games. Eager to prove my strength, I walked up to the hammer game, where I was told I had three tries to hit a black metal slab with a sledgehammer. “Hold it like a hockey stick, not a baseball bat,” Tony, the compassionate man running the game, told me.
My best score, measured on a vertical bar which provides a very descriptive assessment of your level of strength, was “go girl!” It was a rung higher than “big boy,” but not quite at “fat cat.” Still, my performance was good enough to land me an oversized red, blowup baseball bat. Tony was his ever-reassuring self.
“That’s OK, it’s not every day you have to swing with a sledgehammer,” he said.
$5.00 — massage
I’m not going to lie, the day wasn’t perfect. For one thing, some rides weren’t ready in the first few hours of opening day, like the Ferris Wheel and drop-zone, two of my personal favourites. I also searched the entire grounds for my annual treat, a delicious giant pickle, which I was told by one customer service agent was no longer available in the food building.
To relieve my anger, I headed to the Enercare Centre, packed with vendors of all kinds, and sat down on the $9,000 Panasonic massage chair. It was the most relaxing five minutes of my life.
“We create our own activity by people enjoying the massage at the fair. It’s a full-body massage,” said vendor Jim Markley, adding people can also pay $10 for 15 minutes in the chair. “(We like) making people smile and happy.”
Unfortunately, I had no money leftover for my precious Tiny Tom Donuts.
What I remember from my one and only prior trip to the Ex was how pricey the short rides were, so I wanted to spend the day taking in the sights, carnival games and wacky eats instead.
Here’s how I spent my $31, after the $19 admission fee:
$7 — Carnival games
I didn’t want to walk out of the Ex empty-handed, so the first booth I zeroed in on was the Birthday Game, a $1 dice roll. My gut was telling me I’d roll on a spring month, so I stuck my loonie in the May slot, held my breath and rolled the giant dice on the table. The dice rolled August, and I walked away hoping for better luck on my prize hunt.
As much as I love basketball, I couldn’t justify spending $5 to inevitably miss the smaller-than-regulation sized hoop. But for $1, you get a better chance at winning on the rolling ball game. You have six tries to roll the balls on the platform, which then jump into the slots and you have to get 190 points. I didn’t even make it to 100.
By the end of the day, I was impatient to win something after watching Sammy parade his giant, inflatable bat everywhere. Even though I would have preferred to win a game on merit, I decided to throw two darts at a balloon wall for $5, missing one. My consolation prize was a fidget spinner.
$19 — Food and beverages
A plate of deep-fried Oreos dusted in powdered sugar satisfied my CNE food craving early on in the day, but I didn’t want to leave without trying one more carnival staple. Short a few dollars for poutine, I decided to try Messy Fries at Sloppy’s Sandwich bar in the Food Pavilion. The Oreos and fries cost $8 each, but the portions were big enough for Sammy and I to share. I was more disappointed about forgetting my water bottle than losing at the carnival games. After a few hours of walking by all the free water re-fills stations, I finally gave into my thirst and spent $3 on a water bottle.
$6.25 — Ride coupons
As a thrill seeker, the slight dropping feeling you get in your stomach on the Pharaoh’s Fury — a giant boat that swings side to side next to the Ferris wheel — was not worth the $6.25 I spent on my only ride of the day. A group of four tickets costs $5, and most rides will run you at least five tickets. I went over budget to dish out the extra $1.25 for a single ticket.
I tried to make some of my own fun without reaching for my wallet. I checked out the military vehicles at the Canadian Armed Forces booth, photo-bombed a marching band and got some laughs from the Mighty Mike’s busker performance. His classic move? Juggling the sledgehammer.
“That’s the thing that I’m pretty unique, that I’m the only one that does that,” Mike said.
I missed out on the two daily ice shows starring world champion figure skater Elvis Stojko at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m., but it’s a good place to stop by if you need to cool off.
CHAMPLAIN, N.Y.—In the bushes at the end of Roxham Rd., just steps from Canada, lay a sheet of white paper that had been ripped from a notebook and soaked from the previous day’s rain.
It was torn into 11 pieces and tossed away, seemingly moments before its author followed in the steps of the nearly 7,000 others who have sought asylum in Canada so far in 2017 via this hole in the border with the U.S.
In handwritten French, it said: “I have come here to live in peace.”
The writer identified herself only as a Muslim woman from the African country of Djibouti. The intended recipient of her plea was also unnamed, but her audience was clearly Canadian.
She wrote of having moved to the United States with her husband and with hope. A victim of genital mutilation at the age of 7 and now suffering marital problems as a result, she said she was fleeing both an abusive marriage as well as a hostile nation.
“President Donald Trump detests Muslims. The people of this country insult us and even spit in our faces,” it reads. “It’s for this reason that I am coming to your country.”
Composed with care, abandoned in haste, the letter was the most personal piece of detritus recovered during a visit this week to the road that runs from Champlain, N.Y., to the Canadian border.
But it is not the only item testifying to the journey thousands of people have taken to get to Canada since the current migrant spike began in November 2016.
There were airplane boarding passes and luggage tags from Haiti, Florida, Ethiopia, Salt Lake City and New York; Greyhound bus tickets from Albany and Indianapolis; a Delaware driver’s licence and a U.S. Social Security number; Florida detention records; immigration documents from Orlando; and medical laboratory test records for a Delaware man.
Dampened by rain and dried by sun, the scraps of papers discarded while fleeing for a new life in Canada offer insight into the journeys made by asylum seekers. They may have been thrown away as simple garbage from a life abandoned or been purposefully left behind for fear of complicating an expected refugee claim in Canada.
Canadian officials said this week that there have been about 250 people crossing each day at Roxham Rd. in the past few weeks, with a one-day peak of 500 about a week ago.
About 85 per cent have been Haitian nationals worried that the U.S. government intends to get rid of a special immigration designation, known as a Temporary Protected Status, that prevents deportation back to Haiti and nine other countries.
Among them is the Baptiste family — mother Sophonie, father Michel and son Colby — who stepped off a Greyhound bus at 6 p.m. Wednesday along with an elderly grandfather, an aunt and a cousin after deciding to leave behind the life they had built over the past decade in Queens, N.Y.
In Haiti, they ran a successful home renovation business that was abandoned over fears of kidnapping. Colby Baptiste said he was employed by Honda and was a registered real estate agent in New York before the family decided to seek refuge in Canada.
Pushing them to take that decision was a letter they received from immigration authorities advising them to prepare for the expiration of their Temporary Protected Status and an eventual return to Haiti.
With tears welling in her eyes, Sophonie Baptiste said she saw Canada as a more generous and open country and was confident her family would be able to rebuild once again.
Colby Baptiste had an expensive camera around his neck and wore a baseball cap pulled low on his head. He looked like any other disoriented tourist arriving in a new town when he got off the bus in the parking lot of a Mountain Mart convenience store in Plattsburgh, N.Y., this week.
He was stoic upon hearing that his family’s first stop in Canada would be a 1,200-person army field camp erected at the nearby Lacolle border post to handle the wave of refugee claimants. Then he stepped away to negotiate the 30-minute taxi ride to Roxham Rd., settling on a price of $40-per-person and beginning the last leg of the family’s northern journey.
Some of the discarded papers testify to the mundane, everyday existences that have been interrupted: a paper ordering medical tests for one man’s apparent kidney problems; a 2016 report on a vehicle emission test in New Jersey; an employment information form for someone who worked as a chicken de-boner at a poultry farm.
But other documents demonstrate the lengths refugee claimants go to, the risks that they take and the threats they claim to be fleeing. The Star is withholding some information contained in the documents that could identify refugee claimants.
One person threw away a sheet of paper marked “Inmate Summary” that was dated this year. The document outlined five charges an individual was facing for violations of laws in the state of Florida, including possession of forged documents, fraudulent use of another person’s identification and making false statements to obtain a driver’s license. A trial was pending.
A discarded scrap of newsprint ripped from the weather section of the Dallas Morning News contained fragments of another individual’s story written in black pen in Amharic writing, the language spoken by Ethiopians: “In 92 it was started. In June 2013 he was killed. In 94 I was helping him and in Feb 2015 both my brother and father disappeared.”
The scraps of paper contain pieces of stories that Canadian law enforcement, border agents and immigration officials will also be challenged to document and assess as the refugee claims are being processed on this side of the border.
That process was already underway in the United States for one man, who appears to have tossed his entire 54-page immigration file, contained in a maroon folder, into a wooded area along Roxham Rd.
The man was originally from Haiti, according to a transcript of his December 2016 interview with a U.S. asylum officer.
Speaking through a Haitian Creole interpreter, the man said that he travelled from Brazil, where he had been working, through Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras to Mexico. From there, he crossed the U.S. border at San Luis, Ariz., in November and made an asylum claim.
He said he was an evangelical Christian and his life was at risk from his half-siblings, who practice voodoo. On one occasion in late 2012 or early 2013, the man said his half-brother attacked him with a stick and broke his finger because he was preaching the Bible.
Then, after a dispute about whether to give their father a Christian or voodoo funeral, the man said his half-siblings employed a criminal gang to harm him.
“I fear greatly for my life and the safety of my family. I know if we were to return to Haiti we would be tortured and killed. I fear I have no protection there,” the man wrote in his asylum application.
However, in an initial interview upon arrival in the United States, the man said he had no fears of persecution.
“My true intentions are to look for a better life,” he said, according to the Department of Homeland Security transcript. He later explained that he had not spoken of the threats to his life because of the stress and shock of being handcuffed and taken into custody at the border.
A U.S. immigration court judge ordered him released from detention several weeks ago after he posted bond.
It’s not clear when the man decided to continue north to Canada or when he tossed his American immigration records into the bush on Roxham Rd. But Canadian officials this week are warning would-be refugee claimants that their tales of persecution and requests for asylum do not mean they will be accepted into Canada.
There is no special protected designation for Haitian migrants in Canada and immigration officials said this week that about half of all Haitian citizens who sought asylum in this country in 2016 were refused.
But that message isn’t getting out to the Haitian diaspora in the United States, said Mathieu Eugène, a Haitian-born New York City councillor who conducted a fact-finding mission to Montreal this week.
“Every time that I’m in the streets, my constituents, the Haitian people, stop me to tell me of their intention to come to Canada,” he said.
“I don’t think it’s because they want to come over here. They would like to stay in the United States. Canada is a great country, but they would like to stay.”
A Canadian killed in a terrorist attack on a popular street in Barcelona was described by his family as a man who was “always game for a lively debate, a good book exploring new places, and a proper-sized pint.”
In a Facebook post, Staff Sergeant Fiona Wilson, a member of the Vancouver police department, confirmed that her father, Ian Moore Wilson, was among the 13 people killed in the terrorist attack.
“In the midst of this tragedy, my dad would want those around him to focus on the extraordinary acts of human kindness that our family has experienced over the past several days,” wrote Wilson.
She also thanked first responders and others who helped out in the aftermath of the attack, including “the people who assisted my dad in his final moments, and those who focused on my mum’s urgent medical attention and aftercare.”
Wilson is described as a loving husband to his wife Valerie Wilson of 53 years, a father, brother and grandfather.
The family said they intend on focusing on “the extraordinary acts of human kindness” they’ve experienced despite the tragedy because that’s what Wilson would have wanted.
They say they’ve received support from Vancouver police, the RCMP, airlines and emergency responders in Spain who helped Wilson in his final moments and provided urgent medical care to Valerie Wilson.
“These are the things we will choose to focus on when we endeavour to come to terms with the senseless violence and acts of hatred that have taken loved ones before their time,” the family statement said.
The family has asked that their privacy be respected.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday that in addition to Moore’s death, four other Canadians were injured in the terrorist attack.
“It was with great sadness that I learned today that one Canadian was killed and four others injured during (Thursday’s) cowardly terrorist attack in Barcelona," Trudeau said in a statement.
“Sophie and I offer our condolences to the families and friends in mourning, and hope for a speedy recovery for the injured Canadians,” Trudeau said.
"We join Spain and countries around the world in grieving the senseless loss of so many innocent people. We must stand firm against the spread of hate and intolerance in all its forms. These violent acts that seek to divide us will only strengthen our resolve."
The details about those who were injured or their current condition has not been released. Canadian officials say they are in touch with the affected families.
Here is a look at some of the other victims:
Francisco Lopez Rodriguez, Spain
One of his nieces, Raquel Baron Lopez, said on her Twitter account that Rodriguez, 60, died immediately when he was struck by the van. After the attack, Lopez posted pictures of her uncle on Twitter when his family was looking for him and trying to find out whether he was alive.
The mayor of Lanteira, the southern town in Spain where Rodriguez was born, confirmed his death to Spanish media.
Luca Russo, Italy
His death was confirmed in a tweet by Italian Premier Paolo Gentiloni.
Italian media reported that Russo was 25, held a university degree in engineering and lived in northern Italy. Italian officials said Russo’s girlfriend suffered fractures and remains hospitalized.
Bruno Gulotta, 35, Italy
The mayor in his town, Legnano in northern Italy, confirmed Gulotta’s death. One of his Gulotta’s work colleagues, Pino Bruno, told the Italian news agency ANSA that he saved the life of his two young children — Alessandro, 6, and Aria, 7 months — by throwing himself between them and the van that mowed people down.
Bruno said he spoke to Gulotta’s wife, Martina, and that she told him her husband had been holding the 6-year-old’s hand on the tourist-thronged avenue when “the van appeared suddenly.”
“Everyone knelt down, instinctively, as if to protect themselves,” Bruno said, adding that Gulotta put himself in front of his children and was fatally struck.
Elke Vanbockrijck, Belgium
Arnould Partoens, president of the KFC Heur Tongeren football team, said Vanbockrijck was at the club “nearly every day,” ferrying her 10- and 14-year-old boys back and forth to training and matches. He described her as very committed, often speaking her mind about the boys’ and their teams’ performances.
“She was not negative. She was always positive,” he said in a phone interview. He said the team would hold one minute of silence before every match and training session this weekend.
Partoens said the family was on vacation in Barcelona. The boys and their father, a policeman, were unhurt, he said.
“The mother was in the wrong moment and the wrong place,” he said.
Also, listed as missing:
Jared Tucker, U.S.
His sister, Tina Luke, told The Associated Press that Tucker and his wife, Heidi Nunes-Tucker, were celebrating their honeymoon in Barcelona. She said they married a year ago and then saved up for the trip. She said Tucker is listed as missing and hasn’t been found among the more than 100 injured.
San Francisco broadcaster ABC-7 News reported that Tucker, 43, is from Lafayette in California.
It said the Tuckers were in Barcelona after a two-week European vacation.
It quoted brother-in-law Kalani Kalanui as saying: “They were walking through downtown when he stopped to use the restroom, moments later all hell broke loose and Heidi was swept up in the terrified crowd and she lost sight of Jared.”
With files from the Associated Press
With files from the Associated Press
CARBONDALE, ILL.—The warning signs hang above hundreds of kilometres of highway, flashing the same message from Illinois to Tennessee: “SOLAR ECLIPSE. AUGUST 21. PLAN AHEAD.”
On Monday, the moon will pass in front of the sun and cast a shadow over a 112-kilometre-wide cross-section of the continent known as the “path of totality.” It will be the country’s first total solar eclipse in nearly 40 years, and an estimated 12 million people are expected to witness it. That estimate may well be low.
A good chunk of those people will watch from somewhere along Interstate 24. It’s a smooth, straight highway that cuts across the American heartland, passing cornfields, churches, Chik-fil-As and dozens of billboards bearing stern instructions not to leave your car to look at the sun.
This is the road to totality. And already, eclipse chasers are congregating here, ready for the moon’s shadow to fall on them.
Rose Gilbert arrived days ago. It took the Columbia, Md., resident 11 hours to drive herself, her husband, three of their daughters and Gilbert’s octogenarian parents to Nashville, where they’ve rented a house with a view of a lake and a wide open stretch of sky.
“Suppose it’s cloudy?” asks her father, Carl Landi. He’s been skeptical about this whole endeavour since she first proposed it more than a year ago. (“Had it been up to me, I probably wouldn’t be here,” he confides privately.)
“Then we’ll get in the car and drive,” Rose replies, not missing a beat.
She and her husband, John, wouldn’t call themselves astronomy buffs. She’s a nurse, he’s a physician assistant. They don’t own telescopes or plan their vacations around celestial events.
But an eclipse is different, Rose says.
“It’s two whole minutes of the sun being blocked.”
“That’s a once in a lifetime experience for most people,” John says.
“It’s a no-brainer,” Rose responds.
So here they are, the whole family. Their cameras are outfitted with solar filters. Their eclipse glasses are NASA-certified — Rose double checked. Even Carl is grudgingly looking forward to the event. T-minus three days and ready to go.
Signs of the coming spectacle are evident to those who look. There’s an unusual abundance of out-of-state plates in Midwestern towns that rarely get tourists. Restaurants have announced economically awkward Monday afternoon closings between noon and 3 p.m. The billboard outside the Park Avenue Baptist Church in Paducah, Ky., asks: “We live on a planet that circles the sun and you don’t believe in miracles?”
Locals compare the eclipse mania to a fever. It started almost imperceptibly — a date on the calendar, a one-minute preview on the nightly news. Then came the special sections of the newspaper, the cartons full of cardboard solar glasses in every storefront and posters of the sun in every window. The obsession grew and grew. Now, the whole region is half delirious.
“I’ve heard some pretty apocalyptic sounding things,” said Melanie Cochran, of Nashville. “Cellphones dying. Power lines overloaded. They say you should get all your grocery shopping done now, in case the stores run out of food.”
“Pfft,” Demeka Fritts, also of Nashville, lets out an exasperated breath. “Every newscast is eclipse and politics.”
Don’t be fooled by her tone. Fritts long ago made plans to watch the event from her sister’s rooftop. It’s been a while since she spent time gazing at the sky. The 38-year-old used to love looking at the stars, but now her job keeps her busy and the lights in Nashville are too bright to see much. On Monday, she’ll stop and look up again. The whole country will.
“It’s kind of cool,” she says.
Businesses are closing for the big event. Schools are sending their students home early — or asking them not to come in at all.
Shelley and John Henry Wells, of San Francisco, were supposed to be at an artist’s conference in the Smoky Mountains next week. A few months ago, they found out that the organizers had cancelled all of Monday’s events; instead, attendees will be given a bagged lunch and a seat on a bus to a viewing location near Hendersonville, N.C.
Meanwhile, anyone who can turn the eclipse into a marketing opportunity has done so. The Warby Parker hipster eyewear chain is handing out branded solar glasses. A billboard for Harrah’s Casino in Metropolis promises a $100,000 (U.S.) eclipse giveaway.
At the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, curators have pulled out of storage an award-winning 1989 work called “Corona II” — a fabric and thread depiction of the sun’s outer atmosphere as seen during an eclipse. On Friday, at least two dozen visitors came into the museum specifically to see it.
“It’s just magical,” said Laura Hendrickson, the museum’s registrar, her gaze tracing the quilt’s stunning, swirling design. “That’s the only way to describe it.”
That this quilt happens to hang within the path of totality seems a stunning cosmic coincidence. (Then again, the path of totality also encompasses “Carhenge.”)
Hendrickson confessed that she harbours a secret hope that something special will happen during Monday’s event. She’s a “megafan” of the TV show Heroes, in which characters gain superpowers from watching a total solar eclipse.
“The nerd in me is like, ‘what if the eclipse happens and someone can fly?’” Hendrickson laughed.
“I’ll be right here,” she said of her plans for the eclipse. Watching through solar glasses decorated with an image of “Corona II.” Waiting for something magical to occur.
A Twitter post from the account of Jason Kessler, the far-right activist who organized the Charlottesville, Va., “Unite the Right” rally, insulted the protester who was killed at the event, saying late Friday night that her death was “payback time.”
“Heather Heyer was a fat, disgusting Communist,” the post said. “Communists have killed 94 million. Looks like it was payback time.”
The post linked to a story on neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer that also insulted Heyer in crude terms and appeared to take glee in her death.
Kessler did not respond to messages seeking comment.
Police say Heyer was killed when a rally attendee, James A. Fields, drove his sports car into a crowd of counterprotesters at the event Aug. 12, which drew white nationalists, neo-Nazis and other far-right figures from around the nation.
Fields has been charged with her murder. Kessler had blamed city officials for not providing sufficient security for the rally, which was organized to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a Charlottesville park.
Kessler’s Twitter post sparked denunciations from other far-right rally attendees, who quickly distanced themselves from him, accelerating a spiral of recriminations that have been brewing among far-right leaders over who was to blame for the chaos behind last weekend’s violent “Unite the Right” rally.
On Saturday morning, the post had been deleted from Kessler’s account, which initially claimed he’d been hacked, but then backtracked and said he’d been on a mixture of drugs.
“I repudiate the heinous tweet that was sent from my account last night. I’ve been under a crushing amount of stress & death threats,” the post said. “I’m taking ambien, xanax and I had been drinking last night. I sometimes wake up having done strange things I can’t remember.”
Kessler’s posts then were switched to “private” mode before his account was deleted entirely.
“I will no longer associate w/ Jason Kessler; no one should,” Richard Spencer, a white nationalist who was scheduled to speak at Kessler’s event, said on Twitter. “Heyer’s death was deeply saddening. ‘Payback’ is a morally reprehensible idea.”
Another far-right figure who attended the event, Tim Gionet, who goes by the name Baked Alaska, also criticized the remarks.
“This is terribly wrong and vile,” Gionet posted. “We should not rejoice at the people who died in Charlottesville just because we disagree with them.”
Police are probing whether a dissolving business partnership involving the London, Ont., Hells Angels is behind two failed murder attempts in the GTA this month.
The latest shooting took place on Wednesday outside a coffee shop at Sherway Gardens near The West Mall and Evans Ave. around 7:30 p.m.
The shootings are the latest in a string of more than a dozen unsolved violent incidents this year in southern Ontario, including killings, explosions and arson.
Organized crime experts say the GTA is undergoing a power struggle that pits established criminals against younger, up-and-coming ones — often from outside the province.
They’re fighting for control of drug networks and online gambling dollars, experts say, adding they don’t expect the fighting to end anytime soon.
On the organized crime front, several shots were fired in the Wednesday attack that left Mark Peretz of London seriously injured.
A second male victim also suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
The suspects, who were wearing black masks and all-black clothing, fled in a black SUV. The vehicle was later located — burned and abandoned — in Mississauga near Hurontario St. and Queen Elizabeth Way, police said.
Peretz is one of four men who served prison time for a botched Mob hit in 2004 that left an innocent mother-of-three paralyzed from the waist down.
In the other attack, a 35-year-old London man was shot Aug. 4 after he was approached by three men outside a Sunset Grill breakfast restaurant in an Oakville shopping plaza at Cornwall and Trafalgar Rds. around 9:30 a.m.
One male suspect was arrested after fleeing on foot, and two other males are still being sought by police after fleeing in a black pickup truck.
A police source said a dissolving business partnership involving the London Hells Angels and online gambling has contributed to recent underworld tensions.
Peretz was sentenced to nine years in prison in April 2006 for his role in a drive-by shooting attack at a California Sandwich shop on Chesswood Dr. in Etobicoke on April 21, 2004 that left bystander Louise Russo paralyzed from the waist down.
Court heard that Peretz was the driver of a stolen van in the shooting and that the motive was an outstanding $240,000 online gambling debt owed to him.
Peretz took part in a controversial plea bargain that provided Russo with $2 million in restitution, along with Peter Scarcella of York Region, described by Corrections Canada as a Mob figure; Paris Christoforou, who was then sergeant-at-arms for the London Hells Angels; and gunman Antonio Borrelli.
Peretz, Scarcella and Christoforou each were sentenced to nine years in prison while Borrelli received a 10-year term.
Court heard that the target of the botched murder attempt in 2004 was Michele Modica, who was in the restaurant at the time of the shooting but was not injured.
Court heard that Modica entered Canada on a forged passport and, with an associate, ran up online gambling debts of about $240,000 owed to Peretz.
Court heard that Christoforou was Peretz’s partner and head of collections.
Their associate, Raffaele Delle Donne, later became a police agent. He is quoted in the agreed statement of facts on the case as saying that Peretz and Christoforou met with Modica shortly before the shooting and left no doubt they expected payment in full.
“I didn’t see it but I heard that uh, Mark (Peretz) . . . and uh, his bodyguard (Christoforou) I guess . . . kicked (Modica) in the face and put a . . . gun in his mouth,” Delle Donne is reported as saying.
WASHINGTON—The leader of Canada’s largest private sector union says the United States must “soften its stance” on its push for Buy American rules in government procurement if it wants to get a new NAFTA deal.
Unifor president Jerry Dias said he has heard American negotiators are standing firm on their demand to gain more access to government procurement contracts in Canada and Mexico, while restricting businesses in those countries from competing for bids in the U.S. through so-called Buy American laws that have been championed by President Donald Trump.
“They want to build a wall around Buy American policies, (and) yet have full access to procurement policies in Canada and Mexico,” he told the Star in an interview Saturday at the Washington hotel where NAFTA renegotiations are being held this week.
“Why would we do this? We’re a polite nation, but we’re not a stupid nation,” he said.
“They can’t say they want a deal and then bargain as if they don’t want one.”
Dias’s comments came as the U.S. trade office, together with the commerce department, published an eight-page call for “industry outreach” on how U.S. trade deals, including NAFTA, affect the costs and benefits of Buy American laws. The call stems from an executive order — titled “Buy American and Hire American” — made by Trump earlier this year, which instructed government departments to study how these provisions would work.
Dan Ujczo, a trade lawyer from Ohio who has worked for both the U.S. and Canadian governments, said he finds the timing of the public call — in the midst of the first round of NAFTA renegotiations — hardly coincidental.
He explained that it may be a way for the U.S. to take the issue off the NAFTA table, because the government can say they are holding consultations on the issue and how it relates to a series of agreements. In that sense, the issue could be swept from the NAFTA table, Ujczo said, thus blocking any Mexican and Canadian objections to Buy American provisions in the renegotiation process.
“This seems to be a pretty deliberate strategy,” he told the Star. “This takes it off the table”
One of the hallmarks of Trump’s rise to power and subsequent presidency has been his penchant for inflammatory rhetoric on NAFTA. He has called it the worst deal ever signed and threatened to tear it up unless a better agreement can be negotiated for American workers. He has also advocated “America First” policies, which include the exploration of ways to create rules where government projects and large-scale private enterprises — such as the Keystone XL pipeline — would have to hire American workers and use American-made resources.
Canada is expected to push back on this. Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a speech Monday that restrictions on government procurement are like “political junk food,” in that they are “superficially appetizing, but unhealthy in the long run.”
Perrin Beatty, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, said the Americans’ push to restrict government procurement in the U.S. while opening it in Canada and Mexico is anything but “reciprocity” — which was the stated goal for the process outlined by U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer in his opening remarks to the talks on Wednesday.
Beatty added that the ambitious timeline set out for the renegotiations — the U.S. and Mexico reportedly want a new deal by the end of the year — will be scuttled if the U.S. holds firm on positions like this.
“If (the goal) is simply rewrite the agreement to favour one party at the expense of the other two, there’s not going to be an early conclusion. And if there is an early conclusions, there won’t be a happy one,” he said.
Despite the appearance that the U.S. is standing firm on a key disagreement, Beatty said it’s still early in the renegotiation process. “Everybody should keep their cool,” he said.
Hassan Yussuff, president of the Canadian Labour Congress and member of the Liberal government’s cross-partisan NAFTA advisory council, told the Star that the negotiations to this point have been “very respectful and cordial.” He said the sense from the Canadian side is that the talks could actually wrap up by December.
At the same time, he expressed confusion at the U.S. stance on Buy American, which he said is a major issue for Canadian industries like steel and aluminum.
“I’m not convinced that will be their bottom line, but that’s the kind of message that they want to send to the American public, and specifically to (Trump’s) constituency — that they’re tough,” he said.
The three countries that are party to NAFTA have outlined their own goals for the renegotiation. The U.S. has pointed to trade deficits with Mexico and to a lesser degree Canada as a key problem they hope to solve. Lighthizer also said this week that the agreement was a “failure” for countless Americans, pointing to the decline of manufacturing in some sectors and placed blame on the agreement.
Canada, meanwhile, has said it wants to see chapters on the environment, gender and Indigenous peoples added to the agreement, as well as find ways to increase the cross-border flow of business professionals and cut down red tape.
All three countries have said they’d like to see the agreement “modernized” to reflect the realities of technological progress since NAFTA came into effect in 1994.
As the fourth day of negotiations began Saturday, Canada’s chief negotiator strolled by a group of reporters. One of them asked if things are going as expected. Steve Verheul smiled as he passed.
“So far,” he said. “So far.”
The first round of negotiations is scheduled to finish with a joint communiqué from the negotiating teams Sunday afternoon.
Vaden Earle first met Mari-Thérèse Pierre, a Haitian refugee, in the Dominican Republic in 2005 when he was on a humanitarian mission with a youth group he founded in Canada.
The Hamilton man would see the woman with her newborn child, Widlene, scavenging for food around a giant dump site near Puerto Plata and would often chat with her.
One day in 2009, the mother and girl disappeared, and he learned that Pierre had died and the child was sent back to Haiti to live with a relative. Worried about the well-being of the girl, Earle and his wife set out to find her. They eventually tracked her down in Haiti and have been her primary care providers ever since.
Eight years after Earle and his wife initiated Widlene’s adoption — and after a series of mishaps — the now 12-year-old is stranded and stateless in the Dominican Republic, waiting to come to Canada with her adoptive parents. To do that, the couple is asking for co-operation from immigration officials.
“It has been a nightmare in a perfect storm. It’s just unbelievable,” said Earle, 42, who moved to the Caribbean country in 2009 to look after Widlene full-time, while his wife, Christl, travels monthly from Toronto to see her family.
Earle, who quit his position as CEO of the youth group Live Different and now runs a car rental business and café in Puerto Plata, said he and his wife were drawn to Widlene partly by their belief in empowering youth for social change.
“Widlene just finished Grade 6 (at a private school). She is an avid soccer player and loves watching hockey. She is a big Edmonton Oilers fan,” said Earle. “She wants to become a pediatrician and work in developing countries.”
It’s a future that would not have been imaginable when Earle first found Widlene in Gonaïves, in northern Haiti, where she was on the verge of being sold as a child domestic worker in 2009.
He and his wife, who have no children of their own, applied to Haitian authorities for Widlene’s guardianship in order to bring the girl home to formalize the adoption in Canada. They completed a government assessment in Ontario of their skills and talents as potential parents.
Then the 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Port-au-Prince in January 2010, causing widespread devastation — and destroying all the documents necessary for Widlene’s adoption, including proof of her mother’s death and the signed consent of her biological father, whose whereabouts are still unknown.
The couple then attempted to carry out the adoption in Haiti, but in 2013, the Haitian government suddenly put a moratorium on international adoptions.
In 2015 the family encountered yet another hurdle when a new law was enacted that revoked Haitian citizenship for anyone born outside Haiti, even to Haitian parents.
Earle said Widlene subsequently had her Haitian passport and citizenship stripped, and became stateless in the Dominican Republic, because that country does not grant citizenship by birth on its soil.
“As a Haitian, she is living in a country where Haitians are not welcomed and are targets for exploitation, racism and deportation,” said Earle. “As a Dominican-born child, Haiti refuses to recognize her as a citizen. Today, we, as Canadian citizens, are effectively exiled from Canada by virtue of our decision to save the life of a child.”
Being stateless, Widlene does not have a valid travel document.
The family’s Toronto lawyer, Chantal Desloges, has asked immigration officials to issue a temporary resident permit to let Widlene into Canada so the couple can complete the adoption — and the immigration process — in this country.
Immigration officials have yet to decide on the matter. They say they’ve been responding to correspondence from Earle since September 2016.
“We understand the rules are there, but this is a humanitarian case. We need the exceptional discretion applied in this case,” said Desloges, adding that the permit, unlike a tourist visa, is designed for the entry of an otherwise inadmissible foreigner because of “compelling needs.”
Toronto police’s Homicide Unit has been called in to investigate after a man was found dead near College and Bathurst Sts. Sunday morning.
At around 8 a.m., officers from 14 Divison rushed to a commercial building on Lippincott St. after receiving a call for the man who was suffering from obvious trauma, Det. Shawn Mahoney told media on scene.
“The body was found by people in the neighbourhood this morning who were coming in to work and called police,” said Mahoney.
Witnesses say that the man, believed to be between 20 to 25-years-old, was suffering from a single gunshot wound.
“We heard from witnesses that something did occur last night,” Mahoney confirmed, and added investigators have a tentative identification of the male but his family has not been notified.
Police say it is too early in the investigation to provide further details on the incident, including a suspect description or the identity of the victim.
Detectives are asking witnesses who were in the area to contact investigators.
WASHINGTON—Civilian researchers say they have located the wreck of the USS Indianapolis, the Second World War heavy cruiser that played a critical role in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima before being struck by Japanese torpedoes.
The sinking of the Indianapolis remains the U.S. Navy’s single worst loss at sea. The fate of its crew — nearly 900 were killed, many by sharks, and just 316 survived — was one of the Pacific war’s more horrible and fascinating tales.
The expedition crew of Research Vessel Petrel, which is owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, says it located the wreckage of the Indianapolis on the floor of the North Pacific Ocean, more than 5,500 metres (18,000 feet) below the surface, the U.S. Navy said in a news release Saturday.
“To be able to honour the brave men of the USS Indianapolis and their families through the discovery of a ship that played such a significant role in ending World War II is truly humbling,” Allen said in the news release.
The Indianapolis, with 1,196 sailors and Marines on board, was sailing the Philippine Sea between Guam and Leyte Gulf when two torpedoes from a Japanese submarine struck just after midnight on July 30, 1945. It sank in 12 minutes, killing about 300. Survivors were left in the water, most of them with only life jackets.
There was no time to send a distress signal, and four days passed before a bomber on routine patrol happened to spot the survivors in the water. By the time rescuers arrived, a combination of exposure, dehydration, drowning and constant shark attacks had left only one-fourth of the ship’s original number alive.
Over the years numerous books recounted the ship’s disaster and its role in delivering key components of what would become the atomic bomb “Little Boy” to the island of Tinian, the takeoff point for the bomber Enola Gay’s mission to Hiroshima in August 1945. Documentaries and movies, most recently USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage (2016) starring Nicolas Cage, have recounted the crew’s horror-filled days at sea. The Indianapolis sinking also was a plot point in the Steven Spielberg blockbuster Jaws (1975), with the fictitious survivor Capt. Quint recounting the terror he felt waiting to be rescued.
The Navy news release issued Saturday said a key to finding the Indianapolis came in 2016 when Richard Hulver, a historian with the Naval History and Heritage Command, determined a new search area. Hulver’s research identified a naval landing craft that had recorded a sighting of the Indianapolis the day before it sank. The research team developed a new search area, although it was still 600 square miles of open ocean.
The Navy said the 13-person expedition team on the R/V Petrel was surveying the Indianapolis site. The team’s work has been compliant with U.S. law regarding a sunken warship as a military grave not to be disturbed, according to the Navy. The wrecked ship remains the property of the Navy and its location is both confidential and restricted, it said.
Why did the turtle cross the road? Because you helped wheelbarrow it there.
The ambling animals aren’t known for looking both ways; cars are one of the biggest killers of Ontario’s turtles, which are often spotted along the province’s roadways.
With seven of Ontario’s eight turtle species at risk, the Nature Conservancy of Canada is trying to teach people how to help the slow-moving critters if they see one on the road.
Remember wheelbarrow races? The childhood game is an effective way to get feisty snapping turtles across the street.
As their name suggests, snapping turtles tend to reach their necks around and snap their jaw as a defence mechanism.
Avoid a biting mouth by grabbing the two “handles” at the back of a snapping turtle’s shell, tipping it up onto its front legs, and “wheelbarrowing” it across the road, said Kristyn Ferguson, a program director with Nature Conservancy Canada.
“You’re essentially helping it walk to safety,” she said, demonstrating with Junior, a large snapping turtle at Scales Nature Park.
Ferguson is trying to encourage people to pull over and help turtles across the street, and Nature Conservancy Canada is producing an educational video and blog posts on the topic.
“Even just saving that one turtle can make a huge impact on the population in general,” she said.
Painted turtles are another common species you’ll see on Ontario roads. These smaller turtles usually hide their heads in their shells, so the trick is simply to pick it up “like a hamburger” and carry it across, said Ferguson, noting that they have yellow stripes on their face and orange-red patterns on their shell. You should place the turtle down gently and move away, she said.
And don’t try to turn turtles around!
“Even if it makes no sense to us, they’re going where they’re going for a reason,” said Sue Carstairs, executive and medical director of the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre.
Drivers should look out for things that resemble rocks and potholes, she said, especially around water and wetlands.
The peak time for turtle crossings is June, when females are finding places to lay their eggs, said Carstairs, but males are out all season.
Ferguson said human safety has to be paramount when people are helping turtles. Last year, a woman was hit by a car and seriously injured after stopping to help a turtle near Peterborough.
“We aren’t encouraging people to get out along busy 400 series highways or put their own lives at risk,” said Ferguson. “Assess the situation: how busy is the road? Do you have a safe route to get the turtle across?”
Helping a turtle across the road can have huge benefits to the turtle population, as the animals take a long time to reach maturity and are slow to reproduce.
“If even a few get hit by cars, it could double or triple the death rate, or more,” said Jeff Hathaway, founder of Scales Nature Park, which has a focuses on turtle conservation.
“Extend that over 40 or 50 years . . . and the population declines tremendously.”
It’s been a particularly active summer for Ontario’s turtles, who have been out “en masse” this year, said Carstairs.
This summer’s weather has been ideal for turtle travels, she said, and there’s been a “huge spike” in injured critters at the conservation centre hospital
It’s already taken in roughly 800 turtles so far this year, double the numbers from 2016.
“We’ve seen more already this year than we’ve ever seen in an entire year altogether,” said Carstairs.
While she’s glad more people are taking turtles to the centre, Carstairs said that also means more turtles are likely dying in car accidents.
She said the most effective way to save turtles is installing passages under the roads so the animals can safely cross.
Painted turtles are currently the only turtle species in Ontario that are not listed as “at risk” in Ontario, however survey studies are now being conducted on the species, said Carstairs. She said habitat loss is likely the top cause of turtle decline.
“Their way of living has worked for almost 200 million years just fine . . . but as soon as we came along, we sort of tipped that balance,” she said.
“If everybody in the province helped one turtle across the road, that’s saving a lot of turtles.”