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

Embed this content in your HTML


Report adult content:

click to rate:

Account: (login)

More Channels

Channel Catalog

Channel Description:


older | 1 | .... | 1003 | 1004 | (Page 1005) | 1006 | 1007 | .... | 1060 | newer

    0 0

    CHICAGO—Canadian hockey commentator Don Cherry showcased his vocal skills Saturday during the Toronto Blue Jays game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.

    Cherry, wearing a white suit covered in a red cherry pattern, led the seventh inning stretch by singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” into a microphone from the broadcast booth.

    The 83-year-old from Kingston, Ont., added his own twist to the iconic song, replacing the end of the line “root, root, root for the home team” with “the best team.”

    Toronto lost the game 4-3.

    The Cubs have had NHLers singing in the broadcast booth before. Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks sang “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” together last October.

    0 0

    John Vyge’s story didn’t start much differently than many others. It finished with history though.

    In the fall of 1989, after graduating from the University of Toronto, he left his rickshaw company behind to be “just your typical Canadian backpacker.”

    Vyge’s parents were Dutch but they settled in Stratford, Ont., and he wanted to visit family in Amsterdam.

    He didn’t know when he left that he’d end up at the top of the Berlin Wall, tearing it down, setting up a shop to sell pieces and working with anti-Communist resistance leader and Checkpoint Charlie Museum founder Rainer Hildebrandt to distribute the largest chunks to museums around the world.

    After stops in Morocco, France, Switzerland and England, he was in Nerja, Spain when he heard rumoursthat the wall would come down that fall and decided to set out for Berlin, with little money left in his budget.

    His story now lives on in the Checkpoint Charlie Museum, telling the tale of John “Vyges” (his surname is spelled wrong on the display) of Toronto, falling in love and tearing down the wall with Suzanne Dykes of Melbourne, Australia.

    It is only partially true.

    The 23-year-old Vyge and 22-year-old Dykes did meet at the wall, tore pieces of it down to sell to tourists and worked with Hildebrandt to preserve the biggest chunks.

    But while they grew close, their young love didn’t last past their travels.

    Before Vyge met Dykes, he arrived at the wall alone and in disbelief.

    At the time, East Berlin border guards still walked along the wall. To pass, he had to travel through Checkpoint Charlie, purchase a set amount of East German currency (exchange rates were so bad that it was mandatory in order to limit the growing black market), and be interrogated in a room full of tables “like going into old Russia.”

    Vyge describes East Berlin as “very, very empty” and East Germans as “uncertain about what was about to happen to them.”

    He arrived in October and didn’t plan on staying long.

    That quickly changed. Vyge said he realized by the “sheer activity” that he was about to be among the first at the scene of history — the wall was coming down, which it eventually did a few weeks later on Nov. 9, 1989.

    “Because I didn’t have a hammer and a chisel, I had to convince two German tourists who had blood on their hands because they didn’t know what they were doing to explain if they gave me their chisel and hammer I would get them some pieces of the wall,” he said, pausing.

    “That’s where it began.”

    After meeting Dykes and her brother Peter at a youth hostel, his trip turned into a month-long stay.

    With enough room for border guards to pass behind them, they started a makeshift store at the wall to finance the costs of hostels and replacing frequently-broken tools.

    Early on, Dykes and Vyge would buy western goods for the East German guards and hand Cokes, Pepsis and filtered cigarettes (which the guards didn’t know existed) through the wall.

    “I just remember saying ‘John, we need to give these people stuff,’ ” Dykes said.

    As time passed, the guards grew more relaxed. Dykes still has chunks of the wall, medals and hats the guards would pass back through (or over) to show their thanks.

    “It was beautiful watching them smoke a filtered cigarette,” she said, laughing. “I know that sounds weird but they were so grateful.”

    It was a visit with East Berlin relatives of an Australian friend that Dykes said was her biggest “eye-opener.”

    The family, which was well off, used stacks of exposed searing red irons to stay warm — like radiators without casing — in their “barren house.” The kids’ play area was down the street at the dump. And the censorship tales were true. The books at the local library had words cut out of their pages, Dykes said.

    “It just broke my heart to think that they were so controlled,” Dykes said. “I’m glad I was there to see peoples’ faces but gee, I felt sad when I saw how they lived.”

    She remembers going to a rooftop restaurant for Communist elites in East Berlin and thinking, “Oh my God, you can see everything; you can see exactly how western people live.”

    “It was two different worlds and the whole time they could see over and see what was going on,” she said.

    Eventually Hildebrandt, 75 at the time, approached Vyge and Dykes to ask in broken English if they’d consider giving the bigger pieces of the wall to him for preservation and redistribution because he couldn’t get them himself.

    “There was a lot of chaos trying to figure out how to continue getting pieces and then other people started catching on,” Vyge recalled. “People were doing crazy things.”

    As word spread, an ambulance was stationed by the wall to accommodate all the people injuring themselves trying to climb it — Vyge once carried an East German there after he fell and broke his ankle.

    When the money ran out and the wall was gone, the trio went their separate ways.

    Years later, Vyge’s father (also John) got a call at his home in Stratford.

    It was Suzanne Dykes. She was looking for her old friend.

    Ever since, Vyge and the Dykes have kept in touch.

    Vyge began dating his wife Sandy shortly after his trip to Europe, and they’ve moved to Virginia with their two daughters to run an investment firm.

    Suzanne and her husband Jeff Baylow, a Canadian from Vancouver, live in Australia with two daughters of their own.

    Peter is now a successful entrepreneur and professional poker player.

    They regularly visit each other in Canada, the United States and Australia, their photos and pieces of the wall enshrined in Berlin and elsewhere.

    Vyge and his wife have since visited the Checkpoint Charlie Museum together. She laughs about Vyge’s exhibit standing next to Ronald Reagan’s. They joke about his exaggerated love story, which Hildebrandt — who Dykes said was a lovely, charismatic man — created.

    “She jumped in my arms like the typical wedding photo and I thought it was funny because we were all having a pretty good time and then I found out that they turned it into a love story,” Vyge said, remembering one of the exhibits’ photos, drawn from a 1989 newspaper story about the pair’s work with Hildebrandt.

    “There was no love story really. There was a friendship.”

    Dykes admitted that she “really liked” Vyge.

    “I remember thinking ‘what a gorgeous guy’ and we just hit it off, we were good mates,” Dykes said, laughing. “(Hildebrandt) must have taken a shining to us. He’d say ‘oh, you guys would make a lovely couple’ all the time and ‘oh, it’s a beautiful love story’ and he was just a bit of a romantic I think.”

    Every so often, Vyge will hear about the exhibit from people who visit Berlin.

    When Dykes worked as a flight attendant for British Airways in her 30s, travellers from Berlin twice told her she looked familiar.

    They both say Berlin changed them.

    “I look back now and I go ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe it.’ We were crazy. Crazy!,” Dykes said, laughing. “It really does resonate with you when you’re young and you just think ‘gosh, they were just trying to have freedom.’ ”

    “I ended up with this wonderful story of meeting these people, with this whole newfound spirit for life,” Vyge finished. “You have to really realize the freedom we have to do whatever we want here whereas in East Berlin people had no freedom.”

    0 0

    MONTREAL—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canadians should maintain confidence in the immigration system even as thousands of asylum seekers continue to pour into the country.

    Speaking to reporters Sunday, Trudeau said that none of those walking across the United States border would receive any special advantages in their quest to come to Canada, stressing to Canadians and would-be refugees alike that border hoppers must go through the usual security checks and immigration evaluations.

    Federal authorities say that through the first two weeks of August, more than 3,800 people walked over the border into Quebec, compared to the 2,996 who similarly crossed the border throughout all of July.

    Haitian nationals form the bulk of recent arrivals, believed driven by a change in U.S. policy that many fear would result in mass deportations. Canada lifted the temporary restriction on deporting Haitians last year, set up in the wake of the 2010 earthquake, and many were sent back to the island nation, Trudeau said.

    “We are ensuring that our border services, that the RCMP, civil society that support groups at different levels of government are all working together to ensure that Canadians can be confident in the integrity of our borders, in the strength and rigour of our immigration system,” Trudeau said.

    “That continues to be why Canadians are positive towards immigration, positive towards diversity, because they know that we always apply the rules and the laws that make Canada proud and strong.”

    But when asked if the unprecedented number of border crossers was stoking anti-immigrant sentiments in the country, Trudeau condemned the “intolerant, racist demonstrations” that have been planned in recent days.

    “The small minority, angry, frustrated group of racists don’t get to define who we are as a country, don’t get to tell others who we are and don’t get to change the nature of the open, accepting values that make us who we are,” Trudeau said.

    “I am proud to be Canadian. I am proud to be a Quebecer and I am proud to stand with millions of Canadians who reject the hateful, harmful, heinous ideologies that we’ve seen in dark corners of both the internet and our communities from time to time.”

    Trudeau’s comments came hours before planned rallies in Quebec City involving anti-immigration and pro-diversity protesters that had the province’s premier voicing concerns about the possibility of things getting out of hand.

    Right-wing group La Meute said it was planning a rally in a yet-to-be determined location in Quebec City against the flow of illegal entries into the province from the United States. An anti-fascist group plans to hold a counter-protest.

    The call for a counter-protest comes after at least two Quebecers were identified participating in a white supremacist rally last week in Charlottesville, Va., that ended in violence and the death of a 32-year-old woman. La Meute suspended one of the two men from the group’s activities with a spokesperson saying the La Meute dissociates itself from white supremacist and racist groups.

    Thousands of people demonstrated Saturday in front of Vancouver’s city hall as part of an anti-racism rally after reports earlier in the week that an anti-Muslim protest was planned, although it didn’t materialize.

    Trudeau also expressed condolences to the families of Canadians killed in terror attacks this past week in Burkina Faso and Barcelona. He called the attacks “despicable” and attempts to pit neighbour against neighbour.

    “These cowards will not win. We will continue to do as we have done, standing united and stronger in the face of hatred. We will be emboldened in our values, values of love, acceptance and strength through diversity. My friends, in the wake of terror, let us never lose sight of who we are.”

    Read more: Montrealers rally outside Olympic Stadium to welcome asylum seekers from U.S.

    0 0

    The owner of Snakes and Lattes doesn’t play games when discussing the coming minimum wage hike in Ontario.

    “A living wage should be guaranteed for everyone, especially in Toronto, which is a very expensive place to live,” says Ben Castanie, owner of three popular board game cafés in the city.

    Unlike many in the food service industry, the entrepreneur thinks the increase is a win-win for workers and the economy, since more people will have more money in their pockets to spend.

    Castanie already pays his 80 service staff between $12.50 and $14.50 an hour, far above the current legal minimum of $9.90 an hour for those who serve liquor — mainly bartenders and wait staff who make most of their income from tips.

    “We will all just have to adapt,” he says.

    However, the overall business community is growing anxious and has started to make some noise lately over the hikes, which the province outlined as part of sweeping labour reforms last May. The increase includes a boost from $11.40 an hour to $11.60 in October, then to $14 on Jan. 1 and to $15 the following year.

    The issue was on the front burner during the recent second-quarter earnings season, during which Loblaw CEO Galen Weston bemoaned the “aggressive” raises on a conference call with analysts. He estimated that company expenses will balloon by $190 million at Canada’s largest grocery chain, and warned of coming cost cuts to accommodate the mandated increase.

    Similarly, Metro Inc.’s chief executive Eric La Fleche said Tuesday that grocers are under the gun with little time to adjust to the added expense of what amounts to a 32 per cent wage increase for most of its employees in under 18 months.

    Discount retailer Dollarama Inc. also said that it won’t rule out raising prices if labour costs continue to climb, while Magna International has warned that higher costs could affect its business investments in Ontario.

    But Premier Kathleen Wynne paints a rosier picture; saying that giving more than a quarter of employees in the province a pay increase means more workers will benefit from Ontario’s economic growth; the province has outperformed all G7 countries over the past three years.

    At the announcement of the increase, she said that new technology, a shrinking manufacturing sector and fewer union jobs have left about one-third of Ontario’s 6.6 million workers vulnerable at a time when people are working longer hours and doing more precarious, low-paying work to make ends meet.

    The $15 hourly wage will match the upcoming increase in Alberta, scheduled to go into effect in October of next year. Ontario’s labour overhaul also ensures equal pay for part-time workers and an increase to the minimum vacation entitlement.

    “It’s a fairly steep increase over a brief period of time,” says Pedro Antunes, deputy chief economist at the Conference Board of Canada He also points out that the move is “politically favourable” since the timing coincides with next year’s Ontario election.

    Lou Russo, director of operations for the Shoeless Joe’s chain of sports bars, says the timing is particularly brutal for the restaurant industry, which just went through an expensive menu overhaul to include calorie counts on menus — also mandated by the provincial government — last January.

    “The wage increase is posing a big risk to our industry. Restaurant owners will be forced to cut costs and to pass (the added expense) along to our guests,” he says.

    Russo agrees that workers deserve a fair wage, but says that increases should be based on performance rather than legislation. He adds the company is looking at everything from technology to utility savings to new deals with suppliers to avoid making customers pay more in the end for their popular wings and alcohol.

    “It’s a complicated issue,” says Larry Isaacs, spokesman for The Firkin Group of Pubs. “You want the working population to earn a fair wage, however businesses need to make a profit. At the same time you don’t want to upset customers by increasing prices — a conundrum to say the least,” he says.

    The restaurant industry generates $32 billion a year and employs more than 470,000 people in the province.

    Facing industry backlash, Wynne hinted last month at providing some relief for both small businesses and restaurateurs this fall, but so far has not provided specifics.

    A coalition of business groups opposed to the changes released a report on Monday that warned the wage hike will cost the average household $1,300 a year and put 185,000 jobs at risk. Industry association Restaurants Canada recently released a survey of its members that found 95 per cent of owners believe the wage hike will hurt them. It found 98 per cent will raise menu prices and 81 per cent will lay off staff, while more than one-quarter would close one or more locations.

    The province says half of the workers in Ontario who earn less than $15 per hour are between the ages of 25 and 64, and the majority are women.

    Dave Bryans, CEO of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association, also notes the increase will “undoubtedly mean fewer retail jobs, particularly for students and other part-time workers,” and that owners are already burdened with high hydro prices.

    However, an open letter from about 40 economists, mostly from Canadian universities, says such talk is “fear-mongering” that is out of line with the latest economic research.

    “While Canada escaped the harshest impacts of the 2007-08 financial crisis, our country has also seen a slowdown in growth. We risk further stagnation without reinvigorated economic motors. As those with lower incomes spend more of what they earn than do those with higher incomes, raising the minimum wage could play a role in economic revival,” it says.

    As for Castanie, he admits it will be an adjustment, but one that betters society as a whole.

    “I grew up in Europe where the minimum wage is higher, as it should be,” he says.

    0 0

    Health Canada has approved the immediate opening of a downtown supervised safe injection site to combat the opioid crisis in Toronto, but it’s not nearly enough, according to one of the founders of an unsanctioned pop-up site at Moss Park.

    “It’s not a crisis response,” registered nurse Leigh Chapman said in an interview.

    “I think it’s great that they have accelerated the opening of the sanctioned safe injection sites,” Chapman said, adding that it would be useful for the site to have extended hours.

    “It would be great if they could expand their hours and have much longer hours than we have,” Chapman said.

    She said there are absolutely no plans to shut down the Moss Park pop-up site, which currently runs seven days a week, with volunteers working from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

    “We can’t abandon these people who are visiting our tent in Moss Park,” Chapman said. “We are building trust and allowing them the opportunity to feel safe with volunteers who care about their wellbeing. The city should care too.”

    More details on the facility at 277 Victoria St., near Yonge and Dundas St., are expected from the Medical Officer of Health on Monday morning.

    The interim site there has approval to run until at least Feb. 28, 2018, according to Health Canada.

    The Moss Park group has received funding from a GoFundMe campaign In addition to supervising injections, it has handed out more than 200 kits of naloxone to block the affects of opioids.

    Toronto Mayor John Tory met earlier this month with harm reduction workers to talk about how to respond to the city’s opioid problem.

    Health Canada has already approved safe injection sites at the South Riverdale Community Health Centre and at the Parkdale Queen West Community Health Center but those sites remain closed pending renovations.

    There were reportedly 2,400 deaths in Canada in 2016 blamed on opioid-related overdoses.

    Chapman said her group has successfully responded to five overdoses.

    “Generally, every day we see 12 to 25 people,” Chapman said. “These are people that are injecting in the medical tents.”

    Volunteers take daily walks through Moss Park looking for discarded drug-injection kits and reaching out to drug users, she said.

    “We’ve reached out to a place where there is open drug use and the population there is underserved,” Chapman said.

    The problem comes as heroin, which is grown from poppies and illegally imported, is replaced by fentanyl, which is laboratory produced and has high potency.

    “People are overdosing in alleys,” Chapman said. “They just don’t know what they’re taking.”

    Chapman praised the response by police to the Moss Park clinic.

    “We’ve had a ton of police support and community support,” Chapman said. “They were amazing. Very supportive.”

    0 0

    WASHINGTON—Canada, the U.S. and Mexico are pledging to keep a “rapid pace” for the renegotiation of NAFTA, agreeing in a joint statement to keep exchanging proposals and comments on the content of a new deal ahead of the next round of talks in Mexico.

    The communiqué was endorsed by the three NAFTA partners at the conclusion of the first round of negotiations on Sunday, in which representatives from each country gave “detailed conceptual presentations” and discussed more than two dozen topics over five days, the statement said.

    “The scope and volume of proposals during the first round of the negotiation reflects a commitment from all three countries to an ambitious outcome and reaffirms the importance of updating the rules governing the world’s largest free trade area,” the statement said.

    Negotiators will return to their respective countries for consultations, having continued to engage with labour, private sector stakeholders and other levels of government during the talks, the statement said.

    They plan to reconvene in Mexico to resume negotiations from Sept. 1 to 5, and hold a third round of discussions in Canada later in the month. The renegotiations will then return to the U.S. in October, with six more rounds of talks being planned before the end of the year, the statement said.

    “While a great deal of effort and negotiation will be required in the coming months, Canada, Mexico and the United States are committed to an accelerated and comprehensive negotiation process that will upgrade our agreement and establish 21st century standards to the benefit of our citizens,” the statement said.

    The U.S. and Mexico have indicated that they would like negotiations to wrap up by the end of the year, with key elections in the offing for each country. A Canadian official told the Star Sunday that the government is fine with that timeline.

    All three countries have said they want to modernize NAFTA to take into account technological progress since it came into effect in 1994.

    Although negotiators from the Canadian delegation did not comment as they left the discussion venue on Sunday, there are many issues of disagreement as representatives from the three countries work to change a slew of tenets in the 23-year-old trade pact.

    A Canadian government official speaking on background told the Star Sunday that the U.S. and Canada are at loggerheads over the inclusion of climate change measures in a new NAFTA agreement, which is a stated priority of the Liberal government. The official added, however, that the Americans haven’t said anything to indicate the disagreement is irreconcilable at this point.

    “It is a very initial conversation to understand where each side is coming from,” the official said of the first round of talks, adding that there are areas of agreement on certain environment provisions as well.

    “There’s nothing that we see as insurmountable.”

    Other areas of divergence include an American push to create Buy American rules for government contracts in the U.S., while opening up these bids to U.S. companies in Canada and Mexico, and remove the state-to-state dispute resolution mechanism—which Canada strongly favours—from the agreement.

    The U.S. has also said it wants to cut its trade deficit and update the rules of origin on products like auto parts to ensure that more of their content is North American-made.

    Confirming a report from Reuters on Saturday, a source close to the talks told the Star that the U.S. has not yet made any specific demands on how it wants to update rules of origin, a policy widely considered crucial to the auto industry in North America.

    “On rules of origin, the focal point is going to be on auto,” said Laura Dawson, director of the Canada Institute at the Wilson Center in Washington. She said if the Americans try to raise the rules of origin level too high — it is currently at 62.5 per cent for auto parts — manufacturers could lose their incentive to play by the NAFTA rules, opting instead to pay tariffs or even moving factories to other jurisdictions.

    “They’re really dancing on a knife-edge,” she said of the Americans’ position.

    Canada’s push for a greener NAFTA, meanwhile, is part of the “progressive” goals outlined last week by Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland. These include new chapters on gender and Indigenous peoples, as well as commitments to strengthen labour standards and environmental provisions to protect the right to address climate change.

    Trump has previously denounced the science that supports human-caused climate change, famously calling the idea a Chinese hoax on Twitter. He also pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord this year, which includes commitments from more than 190 countries to limit global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions over the coming decades.

    Tracey Ramsey, the NDP’s trade critic in Ottawa, said “it’s promising” that the Liberal government has made labour and environmental standards a priority for a new NAFTA, but added that she thinks any measures to improve them need to be enforceable.

    “It’s not enough to say, ‘We respect this,’ ” she said. “The language has to be extremely clear and explicit, and it has to be enforceable.”

    Aside from its “progressive” goals in the renegotiation, Canada has indicated that it wants to protect NAFTA’s dispute resolution mechanisms, cut down on red tape and make cross-border travel easier for business professionals.

    Looking ahead to the second round of talks, Canadian officials are expected to return to Ottawa and update various stakeholders on how the negotiations are going. Perrin Beatty, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, said in an interview on the weekend that he expects to get a briefing from government officials on Wednesday.

    Dawson said the typical next phase will be for negotiators to use the information gathered in the first round to reconsider certain positions and potentially revise them in pursuit of a deal.

    “It’s still very, very early days,” she added.

    Lawrence Herman, a trade negotiation expert and fellow at the C.D. Howe Institute in Toronto, predicted in an email that more details of what is being negotiated will come out now that the closed-door talks in Washington have wrapped up.

    “Since Washington is the leakiest ship on the seas, these texts will rapidly find their way into the public domain. There are no secrets kept for long at either end of Pennsylvania Ave.,” he said.

    “This is going to make these negotiations exceedingly difficult for all governments to manage.”

    0 0

    If you flew over Lake Erie on Sunday afternoon, you might not have noticed the distress below.

    You’d have seen boats, of course, the distinctive red-orange of Fort Erie Fire Department vessels, coast guard boats and perhaps the 25 mismatched watercraft moving across the 25,744-square-km Great Lake.

    What you wouldn’t have seen were the details that turned a fundraising swim race from Sturgeon Point, N.Y., to Crystal Beach, Ont., into a frantic search-and-rescue mission: swimmers alone in choppy waves, crew members vomiting over boat rails, vessels losing their propellers and any ability to steer across the lake.

    In the end, it was a call to the coast guard to find a missing swimmer — who’d been lost in the open water for 40 minutes already — that ultimately ended the race. Not one of the 41 swimmers made it to the other side.

    “I’ve had better days,” organizer Miguel Vadillo said about 4 p.m., as he walked to meet swimmers who’d since been taken to dry land. Earlier on Sunday, Vadillo spoke to the Star from aboard one of the race’s accompanying boats. He wasn’t blind to the day’s rocky conditions, but was still optimistic.

    “Right now? It’s pretty daunting,” Vadillo said about 10 a.m. The wind whipped in the background while he pointed out a current pulling east. Vadillo has been an open-water swimmer himself since his youth in Mexico.

    “It is very challenging, knowing where you’re going, what you’re fighting, what you’re doing,” he said.

    He wasn’t worried about the youngest swimmers — four 11- to 14-year-olds braving the water to raise money for Red Roof Retreat, a respite care facility in the Niagara region.

    “Those guys are better swimmers than many others here. I worry about some of the adults that are behind that are not making it very far,” he admitted.

    Some swimmers came to the race with high-profile causes. Dr. Sherri Mason, a key researcher of Great Lake pollution, was aiming to draw attention to how micro-plastics contaminate the freshwater. Carlos Costa swam against the odds of a double-leg amputation, looking to become the first male para-swimmer to cross the lake.

    The event had taken significant planning and co-ordination, including liaising with both the U.S. and Canadian jurisdictions on the route.

    But at 2:33 p.m, five-and-a-half hours after the race began, Vadillo revealed the day had gone awry: “Hang on it is not looking good.”

    A propeller had broken on one of the boats, and as it was no longer able to steer, its respective swimmer veered off alone. Vadillo went back with his boat in an attempt to step in as a crew. But the waves had got even more turbulent and the crew members started “puking down the side of the boat.”

    “It was very clear to me that she wouldn’t be able to make the cutoff at half time, of 10 kilometres at five hours,” he said. The swimmer made the decision to call it a day, and was taken on the boat to Canadian waters.

    At that point, they learned that another swimmer — Michael Kenny — was missing in the open water. Organizers had been searching for 40 minutes fruitlessly; it was time to call in the coast guard.

    At that point, Vadillo said, “the swimmers abandoned their own race to help a fellow swimmer.” All boats were re-allocated to the search, and the wayward swimmer was located an hour after he disappeared.

    But although he had been missing for a full hour, Kenny, who goes by the nickname “Swim Diesel,” was in high spirits. By his account, his boat crew had left to refuel, and were meant to catch up with him after.

    But there were “huge waves,” he said, “so I couldn’t hear or see them.”

    When he realized he was lost on the lake, Kenny decided that either going back or staying put would only mean more effort against the waves. So he eyeballed a white lighthouse in Canada and a distinct building in the U.S. and swam straight down the middle.

    “I know how to swim,” he noted cheerily. “Whether the boat’s beside me or not, it’s the same swimming. So I just said to myself, well, ‘I’ll keep going, and either they’ll catch up with me or they won’t!’ ”

    About an hour later, one of the search vessels spotted him and called out to him.

    “The coast guard came along and said, ‘Sir, you have to get out!’ And I said, ‘Well, I don’t want to end my race! Can I wait until my boat shows up?’ ” he said.

    “And they told me, ‘No, you have to get out. We are extracting you from the water.’ ”

    By the end of the day, when the weary swimmers found their land legs again, Vadillo said the race will be given another go next year.

    “It takes plenty of courage to even try,” he said of the day’s attempt.

    “We’re different because we have courage.”

    0 0

    For the third time in its history the Royal Canadian Air Force will receive new colours on Sept. 1, a “once-in-a-generation event” the RCAF plans to celebrate on land and in the air.

    The colours, or flags, reflect the RCAF’s “loyalty and fealty” to the Queen and Canada, said Lt. Col Holly Apostoliuk, the air force’s director of public relations.

    On the day, which will be declared Royal Canadian Air Force Day in Toronto, Torontonians will see about 25 historic and current RCAF aircraft fly by above the city’s skyscrapers to mark the occasion.

    Alongside the famed Snowbirds and a specially painted Canada 150 CF-188 Hornet, a CH-146 Griffon helicopter will fly from east to west along the direction of Queen St. across Nathan Phillips Square, where Governor General David Johnston will present the new colours.

    For RCAF members, the colours represent their history, service and ideals, said Apostoliuk.

    “On the first of September, we will actually reaffirm our responsibilities to Canada and to the Royal Canadian Air Force with those colours as the symbol,” she said.

    The RCAF’s existing flags carry its old name, Air Command, which was changed back to the Royal Canadian Air Force in 2011.

    There are two colours: The Queen’s Colour, a flag that carries a Canadian maple leaf with the sovereign’s cipher in the middle and symbolizes loyalty to the Crown, and the Command Colour, a blue flag carrying the air force’s badge in the middle, which symbolizes the RCAF’s “pride, cohesion and valour.”

    There will be a parade and music in Nathan Phillips Square to celebrate the consecration of the new colours starting at 12:30. The fly-by will take place at 2 p.m. and last about 10 minutes. The fly-by will be rehearsed on Aug. 31 between 2:15 and 2:45 p.m.

    On Friday, two Griffons offered media a first look at the flight path. They flew across downtown, where the military aircraft must be 500-ft above the highest obstacle in their flight path: the 1,000-ft Bank of Montreal building.

    The helicopters flew above kayakers paddling the brown waters of the Don River, and back over the treetops, houses, and highways of Mississauga.

    For Capt. Sean Crites, a member of the 424 Transport and Rescue Squandron based at 8-Wing Trenton, it must have been easy flying; there were no tricky landings in tight forest clearings, no nighttime rescues over Lake Ontario.

    He recalled one of his “hairiest rescues.”

    It was the middle of the night and a sailboat on Lake Ontario was taking on water. Crites and his co-pilot managed to drop the search-and-rescue technicians in the water where they swam to the boat to assist an hypothermic occupant.

    The conditions were challenging. There was no way to hoist the patient back up, he said.

    It was only when the boat washed ashore that they could pick up the occupant and rescuers.

    0 0

    Jerry Lewis, the comedian and filmmaker who was adored by many, disdained by others, but unquestionably a defining figure of American entertainment in the 20th century, died Sunday morning at his home in Las Vegas. He was 91.

    His death was confirmed by his publicist, Candi Cazau.

    Lewis knew success in movies, on television, in nightclubs, on the Broadway stage and in the university lecture hall. His career had its ups and downs, but when it was at its zenith there were few stars any bigger. And he got there remarkably quickly.

    Barely out of his teens, he shot to fame shortly after the Second World War with a nightclub act in which the rakish, imperturbable Dean Martin crooned and the skinny, hyperactive Lewis capered around the stage, a dangerously volatile id to Martin’s supremely relaxed ego.

    After his break with Martin in 1956, Lewis went on to a successful solo career, eventually writing, producing and directing many of his own films.

    As a spokesman for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Lewis raised vast sums for charity; as a filmmaker of great personal force and technical skill, he made many contributions to the industry, including the invention in 1960 of a device — the video assist, which allowed directors to review their work immediately on the set — still in common use.

    A mercurial personality who could flip from naked neediness to towering rage, Lewis seemed to contain multitudes, and he explored all of them. His ultimate object of contemplation was his own contradictory self, and he turned his obsession with fragmentation, discontinuity and the limits of language into a spectacle that enchanted children, disturbed adults and fascinated postmodernist critics.

    Jerry Lewis was born on March 16, 1926, in Newark, N.J. Most sources, including his 1982 autobiography, Jerry Lewis: In Person, give his birth name as Joseph Levitch. But Shawn Levy, author of the exhaustive 1996 biography King of Comedy: The Life and Art of Jerry Lewis, unearthed a birth record that gave his first name as Jerome.

    His parents, Danny and Rae Levitch, were entertainers — his father a song-and-dance man, his mother a pianist — who used the name Lewis when they appeared in small-time vaudeville and at Catskills resort hotels.

    In 1944 — a 4F classification kept him out of the war — he was performing at the Downtown Theater in Detroit when he met Patti Palmer, a 23-year-old singer. Three months later they were married, and on July 31, 1945, while Patti was living with Jerry’s parents in Newark and he was performing at a Baltimore nightclub, she gave birth to the first of the couple’s six sons. The couple divorced in 1980.

    Between his first date with Palmer and the birth of his first son, Lewis had met Dean Martin, a promising young crooner from Steubenville, Ohio. Appearing on the same bill at the Glass Hat nightclub in Manhattan, the skinny kid from New Jersey was dazzled by the sleepy-eyed singer, who seemed to be everything he was not: handsome, self-assured and deeply, unshakably cool.

    When they found themselves on the same bill again at another Manhattan nightclub, the Havana-Madrid, in March 1946, they started fooling around in impromptu sessions after the evening’s last show. Their antics earned the notice of Billboard magazine, whose reviewer wrote, “Martin and Lewis do an afterpiece that has all the makings of a sock act,” using showbiz slang for a successful show.

    By the summer of 1948, they had reached the pinnacle, headlining at the Copacabana on the upper East Side of Manhattan while playing one show a night at the 6,000-seat Roxy Theater in Times Square.

    The phenomenal rise of Martin and Lewis was like nothing show business had seen before. Partly this was because of the rise of mass media after the war, when newspapers, radio and the emerging medium of television came together to create a new kind of instant celebrity. And partly it was because four years of war and its difficult aftermath were finally lifting, allowing America to indulge a long-suppressed taste for silliness. But primarily it was the unusual chemical reaction that occurred when Martin and Lewis were side by side.

    Lewis’s shorthand definition for their relationship was “sex and slapstick.” But much more was going on: a dialectic between adult and infant, assurance and anxiety, bitter experience and wide-eyed innocence that generated a powerful image of postwar America, a gangly young country suddenly dominant on the world stage.

    Among the audience members at the Copacabana was producer Hal Wallis, who had a distribution deal through Paramount Pictures. Wallis signed them to a five-year contract.

    He started them off slowly, slipping them into a low-budget project already in the pipeline. Based on a popular radio show, My Friend Irma (1949) starred Marie Wilson as a ditsy blonde and Diana Lynn as her levelheaded roommate, with Martin and Lewis providing comic support. It was not until At War With the Army (1951), an independent production filmed outside Wallis’s control, that the team took centre stage.

    At War With the Army codified the relationship that ran through all 13 subsequent Martin and Lewis films, positing the pair as unlikely pals whose friendship might be tested by trouble with money or women (usually generated by Martin’s character), but who were there for each other in the end.

    The films were phenomenally successful, and their budgets quickly grew.

    That’s My Boy (1951), The Stooge (1953) and The Caddy (1953) approached psychological drama with their forbidding father figures and suggestions of sibling rivalry; Lewis had a hand in the writing of each. Artists and Models (1955) and Hollywood or Bust (1956) were broadly satirical looks at American popular culture under the authorial hand of director Frank Tashlin, who brought a bold graphic style and a flair for wild sight gags to his work.

    Tashlin also functioned as a mentor to Lewis, who was fascinated with the technical side of filmmaking.

    As his artistic aspirations grew and his control over the films in which he appeared increased, Lewis’s relationship with Martin became strained. As wildly popular as the team remained, Martin had come to resent Lewis’s dominant role in shaping their work and spoke of reviving his solo career as a singer. Lewis felt betrayed by the man he still worshipped as a role model, and by the time filming began on Hollywood or Bust they were barely speaking.

    After a farewell performance at the Copacabana on July 25, 1956, Martin and Lewis went their separate ways.

    Lewis saved his creative energies for the films he produced himself. The first three of those films — Rock-a-Bye Baby (1958), The Geisha Boy (1958) and Cinderfella (1960) — were directed by Tashlin. After that, finally ready to assume complete control, Lewis persuaded Paramount to take a chance on The Bellboy (1960), a virtually plotless homage to silent-film comedy that he wrote, directed and starred in, playing a hapless employee of the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach.

    It was the beginning of Lewis’s most creative period. During the next five years, he directed five more films of remarkable stylistic assurance, including The Ladies Man (1961), with its huge multistory set of a women’s boardinghouse, and, most notably, The Nutty Professor (1963), a variation on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, in which Lewis appeared as a painfully shy chemistry professor and his dark alter ego, a swaggering nightclub singer.

    With their themes of fragmented identity and their experimental approach to sound, colour and narrative structure, Lewis’s films began to attract the serious consideration of iconoclastic young critics in France. At a time when American film was still largely dismissed by American critics as purely commercial and devoid of artistic interest, Lewis’s work was held up as a prime example of a personal filmmaker functioning happily within the studio system.

    The Nutty Professor is probably the most honoured and analyzed of Lewis’s films. (It was also his personal favourite.) For some critics, the opposition between the helpless, infantile Professor Julius Kelp and the coldly manipulative lounge singer Buddy Love represented a spiteful revision of the old Martin-and-Lewis dynamic. But Buddy seems more pertinently a projection of Lewis’s darkest fears about himself: a version of the distant, unloving father whom Lewis had never managed to please as a child, and whom he both despised and desperately wanted to be.

    His blend of physical comedy and pathos was quickly going out of style in a Hollywood defined by the countercultural irony of The Graduate and M*A*S*H. After “The Day the Clown Cried,” his audacious attempt to direct a comedy-drama set in a Nazi concentration amp, collapsed in litigation in 1972, Lewis was absent from films for eight years. In that dark period, he struggled with an addiction to the pain killer Percodan.

    He enjoyed a revival as an actor, thanks largely to his powerful performance in a dramatic role in Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy (1982) as a talk-show host kidnapped by an aspiring comedian (Robert De Niro) desperate to become a celebrity. He appeared in the television series Wiseguy in 1988 and 1989 as a garment manufacturer threatened by the Mob, and was memorable in character roles in Emir Kusturica’s Arizona Dream (1993) and Peter Chelsom’s Funny Bones (1995). Lewis played Mr. Applegate (aka the Devil) in a Broadway revival of the musical Damn Yankees in 1995 and later took the show on an international tour.

    In 1983, Lewis married SanDee Pitnick, and in 1992 their daughter, Danielle Sara, was born. Besides his wife and daughter, survivors include his sons Christopher, Scott, Gary and Anthony, and several grandchildren.

    Although he retained a preternaturally youthful appearance for many years, Lewis had a series of serious illnesses in his later life, including prostate cancer, pulmonary fibrosis and two heart attacks.

    Through it all, Lewis continued his charity work, serving as national chairman of the Muscular Dystrophy Association and, beginning in 1966, hosting the association’s annual Labor Day weekend telethon. The telethon raised about $2 billion during the more than 40 years he was host.

    During the 1976 telethon, Frank Sinatra staged an on-air reunion between Lewis and Martin, to the visible discomfort of both men. A more lasting reconciliation came in 1987, when Lewis attended the funeral of Martin’s oldest son, Dean Paul Martin Jr., a pilot in the California Air National Guard who had been killed in a crash. They continued to speak occasionally until Martin died in 1995.

    0 0

    CHICAGO—The weekend at Wrigley Field was surely memorable for the thousands of fans that made the trek from the Great White North to the great North Side. On the field the Blue Jays may have been swept in three games, but they battled to the end, including an agonizing 6-5 extra-innings loss on Sunday.

    Roberto Osuna struck out two batters in the 10th inning and both reached base, one on a wild pitch and one on a brain cramp by catcher Raffy Lopez who corralled the ball but forgot to throw down to first base for the out with the tying run perched on third. The Cubs scored three times against Osuna to complete the sweep.

    The Cubs’ winning rally included two hits, one of them a two-run single by Jason Heyward, a walk, a hit batter and two strikeouts that resulted in baserunners. The biggest of the mistakes was failure by Lopez to execute the throw to first base that would have been the second out and given the Jays a chance to escape.

    “It was definitely a tough inning,” Lopez understated. “A block has to be made and I just have to make a better throw to first, with the guy on third after I checked him. I was checking the runner and just made a bad throw and had to adjust my feet. I didn’t get my body in the best position to turn and throw to first.”

    The Jays had taken the lead in the top of the 10th. With runners on first and second against Koji Uehara, Kevin Pillar ripped an opposite field single scoring shortstop Josh Donaldson, who slid head-first around the tag of Alex Avila. It was Pillar’s sixth hit of the series. Outfielder Nori Aoki walked with the bases loaded for an add-on run that ended up not mattering.

    For Pillar, it was a great game and a great weekend from a personal standpoint, tempered by the fact his team was swept. The acrobatic centre fielder collected six hits in three games including the go-ahead RBI on Sunday, plus he made a highlight catch in the seventh inning on a dead sprint into the brick wall to haul in a drive by Kris Bryant. It was one for the ages.

    “It was just an amazing weekend for me, personally, being able to go out there and play the way I feel like I should play every day,” Pillar said. “And to be able to do it in front of a lot of fans that travelled a long way and in front of my family that made the trip out here is something I’ll always remember.”

    Jays starter Marco Estrada continued his game of Catch-22. He wants to stay with the Jays and he wants to pitch well. But the better he pitches, the more likely he will be moved in a trade before the end of August to a team like the Astros that missed the non-waiver trade boat.

    As has happened to Estrada more often than he would like to count, it all came down to one crumbly inning Sunday for the 34-year-old free agent-to-be.

    Estrada waved the trainer back to the dugout, but hit Jon Jay with a pitch and threw wide on a bunt by Kyle Hendricks to load the bases. Albert Almora Jr. doubled past third baseman Jose Bautista, who was even with the bag, to clear the bases.

    If Bautista had been positioned four steps deeper, he may have been able to start a double play. Instead, Estrada trailed 3-0 with just one ball out of the infield.

    The bottom line for Estrada on Sunday is that, with another quality start, his fourth in his last five outings, he again pitched well enough to win the game, well enough to stay with the Jays and well enough to be traded. He allowed three runs and five hits in six innings, with a walk and four strikeouts.

    The Jays’ offence, meanwhile, hung around and clawed back to tie the game in the sixth inning.

    Justin Smoak led off the fourth with a double and Jose Bautista singled to centre field. Smoak delayed to make sure the ball landed but third-base coach Luis Rivera surprised the Cubs by waving him home. Anthony Rizzo was late arriving at the cutoff position and when he turned with time to throw Smoak out at the plate he slipped and went down as if shot by a sniper.

    In the fifth inning, Nori Aoki doubled leading off. Estrada took a strike with Rizzo charging hard for the bunt. Estrada then faked a bunt and slapped a grounder to Javy Baez who flipped to third, but Aoki slid in safely. An Ezequiel Carrera double-play grounder scored Aoki.

    In the sixth, catcher Miguel Montero proved that, actually, you can go home again, slamming a solo homer deep into the left-centre field bleachers to tie the game. It was his second homer with the Jays. Montero, a World Series Game 7 hero for the Cubs a year ago, had been designated for assignment after he criticized some of his own pitchers for not holding runners on base.

    0 0

    What is a Steve Bannon? And if so, why? I have never seen a spiky American political operative reduce so many commentators to making lists. Normally opinionators pick an angle and stick to it, but during the Bannon years, they floundered in a sea of possibilities.

    Bannon birthed President Donald Trump and worked as his White House chief strategist. He was fired on Friday. Here’s the upsetting part: in many ways, Bannon was the more sensible of the two.

    Joshua Green’s new book, Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump and the Storming of the Presidency, makes a good effort at tracking Bannon before and during the election. Trump was an empty vessel. Bannon gave him a world view, plus “an infrastructure of conservative organizations” that worked “sometimes in tandem with mainstream media” to destroy Hillary Clinton.

    Bannon was a kingmaker. He provided Green with acres of interviewing time and the book is very much Bannon’s version of things.

    But up against a publishing deadline, Green ended the book on June 5 with an afterword, a list of dire reasons for the presidency falling apart as soon as it began.

    1. Trump thought being president was about asserting personal dominance, rather than working with people and groups, including Congress.

    2. He ran against the Republican Party, Wall Street and Paul Ryan, and then reverted to their agenda.

    3. He doesn’t have a political philosophy, being nothing more than a creature of his ego.

    This makes sense. But then came that interview Bannon gave to a left-wing outlet on Wednesday, saying white supremacists were clowns, a nuclear war with North Korea was beyond the pale, and that what he really wanted was economic war with China.

    Why would Bannon have done this? Margaret Hartmann of New York Magazine made a list:

    1. He made a mistake.

    2. Or he leaked on purpose, trying to damage a rival for Trump’s ear, or to assert his dominance over Trump, or to distract from Trump’s disastrous reaction to Charlottesville.

    3. Or he just didn’t care if he was fired, which he was.

    I could write essays on my own response:

    1. No, he didn’t.

    2. Yes, partly right. He may have already been fired.

    3. Yes.

    But opinionating adds to the chaos, and chaos is what Bannon loves. He’s a hypercompetitive, hyperaggressive “political grifter” whose life in the Navy, Wall Street, Hollywood finance, gaming, and Breitbart News turned him into a malevolent man who wants to blow up his own country.

    He was born blue-collar and never fit into Republican country club culture. Shrugging off the status anxiety that afflicts Americans, unshaven and dressed in borderline rags, he made it obvious that he didn’t want to belong. Green calls him “a human hand grenade,” and that was what Trump liked about him, initially.

    “Honey badger don’t give a shit” was Bannon’s catchphrase, honey badgers being big furry weasels in Africa and Southeast Asia who attack and eat pretty much anything. The honey badger meme is vile; so are its fans on the extreme right.

    But the Republican Party has been driving into animality for a long time, arguably since Pat Buchanan’s “culture wars” speech rolling out their loathing of the modern world at the Republican convention in 1992.

    I see the hatred Buchanan expressed as the human embodiment of the underground fires that forever burn beneath abandoned American coal mining towns. Centralia has been smoking in Pennsylvania for 55 years. It looks peaceful enough. You can be asphyxiated or swallowed by gassy sinkholes.

    It’s not a bad metaphor for the Republican Party right now.

    I was startled by the absurd Canadian reaction to the New Yorker’s casual mention of a “friendship” between the honey badger and Trudeau Principal Secretary Gerald Butts. “They talk regularly.”

    Well, of course they do. Bannon was a get. Bannon wants to chat about his pet economic wars; Butts wants to save Canada from economic destruction at the hands of an unhinged president. Butts was doing his job.

    For interim NDP leader Thomas Mulcair to demand Ottawa talk only to the nice Americans proves that Mulcair has a student council view of international governance. Bring us a bright, capable NDP leader, please.

    Negotiating with Trump’s people is like feeding animals. You have interests in common. You wish to sustain the animal; honey badger wants its meat. I’m glad we have Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland. Who else could manage it?

    0 0

    Police have identified the woman whose body was found in a park near Jane and Finch Saturday.

    Toronto police Const. David Hopkinson said police rushed to Derrydowns Park near Jane St. and Finch Ave. W. at around 12:45 p.m. after a report that a person was in the water.

    Police said the woman was pronounced dead on scene after she was pulled out of the water without vital signs.

    The victim has been identified as Virgil Jack, 31, of Toronto. She lived near the area where her body was found. Signs of trauma were found on her body.

    Toronto police homicide Det. Sgt. Terry Browne told reporters on scene Sunday an initial examination revealed Jack was stabbed multiple times.

    “Whoever did this to Ms. Jack, this was a very violent act,” said Browne.

    Police said Jack was last seen at around 2:30 p.m. in the Jane and Finch area on Aug. 18.

    Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-7400, Crime Stoppers anonymously.

    0 0

    Former Hells Angels enforcer Paris Christoforou was one of the targets of a failed murder attempt at Sherway Gardens last week, the Star has learned.

    Christoforou suffered non-life threatening injuries after a gunman opened fire on him around 7:30 pm Wednesday evening outside a coffee shop at the shopping centre near The West Mall and Evans Ave.

    His longtime associate Mark Peretz was seriously injured in the shooting.

    Christoforou and Peretz made the news a dozen years ago when they were both sentenced to nine years in prison for a botched 2004 gangland murder attempt that paralyzed Louise Russo, an innocent bystander and mother-of-three, from the waist down.

    In the 2004 shooting, court heard they had been attempting to kill Sicilian mobster Michele Modica at a sandwich shop over an unpaid online gambling debt when Russo was shot by mistake.

    Police are probing whether the Sherway Gardens shootings are connected to another shooting this month when a 35-year-old man was seriously wounded while leaving a breakfast restaurant in Oakville.

    Police are investigating whether those murder attempts are connected to a dissolving business partnership involving a member of the London, Ont., Hells Angels charter.

    That relationship crumbled over allegations that the London, Ont. biker skimmed proceeds from an online gambling enterprise and invested the money in Muskoka real estate, without telling his partners.

    Sources also tell the Star this month’s two failed murder bids are the latest in a string of more than a dozen unsolved violent incidents this year in southern Ontario, centred around a struggle for drug trafficking and online gambling revenues.

    The online gambling business was once controlled by Montreal Mafia boss Vito Rizzuto, who died of natural causes in December 2013.

    There are now more than a dozen violent unsolved underworld incidents this year from Woodbridge to Hamilton, including killings, explosions and arson.

    In the Oakville attack on Aug. 4, the 35-year-old man was shot around 9:30 am after he was approached by three men outside the Sunset Grill breakfast restaurant in a shopping plaza at Cornwall and Trafalgar Rds.

    A man from Montreal was arrested nearby while two other men are still being sought by police after fleeing in a black pickup truck.

    When Christoforou was sentenced for the Russo shooting, court heard that he had a criminal record that spanned more than a decade and included four previous assault convictions.

    At the time of the Russo shooting, he was bound by two prohibition orders and was on probation.

    Court heard that Christoforou was Peretz’s “partner and head of collections” at the time of the 2004 murder attempt.

    0 0

    Toronto fire officials have taken the rare step of closing a string of Dundas St. W. buildings after the owners repeatedly ignored orders to fix fire and building safety issues.

    At least 28 rooms inside adjoining two-storey buildings were rented on a variety of travel websites, though apparently not on Airbnb.

    The “drastic” step is the city’s latest attempt to manage the booming short-term rental market and ensure the safety of guests, Toronto Fire Services Deputy Chief Jim Jessop said.

    “In our minds, this was a necessary and reasonable step to protect the public,” Jessop said.

    To get the buildings closed, Toronto Fire Services presented evidence to the province’s Office of the Fire Marshal for permission to change the locks and remove anyone staying inside until the safety problems are fixed.

    “This is not a common step,” nor easily approved by the province’s fire marshal, Jessop said. Permission was granted Friday afternoon.

    “This step usually is in response to an owner that repeatedly has a history of non-compliance with blatant disregard of violations of the fire code, where there is no attempt to remedy the situation,” Jessop said. “This is something that we don’t take lightly.”

    Previous fire code violations for the properties are still before the courts.

    The fire department requested the closure saying that 779, 783 and 787 Dundas St. W. appear to be of “combustible construction.” The Electrical Safety Authority — a private safety regulator mandated by the province —found “several shock and fire hazards.”

    The two-storey buildings have approximately 28 individual rooms, the fire department said in documents submitted to the fire marshal. “They are being utilized by the travelling public and the occupant load varies depending on the day,” the documents said.

    Fire officials and police officers were present when the locks were changed Friday at 779, 783 and 787 Dundas St. W., west of Bathurst St. Notices were posted on the doors indicating the premises must remain closed until inspectors are satisfied the safety violations have been fixed.

    In addition to having concerns about electrical installations, inspectors identified issues with exit routes and fire safety within stairways, the documents said. As well, there is no supervisory staff trained as required for a hotel, nor is there an approved fire safety plan.

    The city’s building department, Toronto Building, has also issued an order prohibiting occupancy. Renters have been removed on three different occasions.

    “The city had commitments from the owner that the property would not be used until all appropriate permits were issued,” said Mario Angelucci, the city’s deputy chief building official. “Despite those commitments the owners again began allowing occupancy for short-term stays.”

    Angelucci said if there is continued non-compliance, “Toronto Building will undertake further enforcement action in order to safeguard the health and safety of the public and potential occupants.”

    Ownership of the properties can be traced to a numbered Ontario company that is registered to Yen Ping Leung of Richmond Hill.

    Her husband, Michael Cheng, and son Kevin Cheng are directors of a company operating two websites offering short-term rentals at the Dundas St. locations.

    Neither man responded to the Star’s request for comment. Previously Kevin Cheng told the Star they intended to comply with city orders.

    The city proposes a regulatory framework that would limit short-term rentals to a person’s primary residence. City staff will submit a final set of proposals to council this year.

    The city wants to curb short-term rentals operating as commercial operations because they remove housing stock from the rental market in Toronto. The city has an extremely low vacancy rate of 1.3 per cent.

    The city has said that the 13 per cent of Toronto Airbnb hosts who had multiple listings in 2016 would be forced to shut down if the regulations are approved.

    In the absence of regulations, short-term rentals have been operating in a grey area, offering multiple listings in properties taxed at a residential rate, not the much higher commercial property tax rate.

    The city’s proposed regulations will also require hosts to comply with municipal bylaws, meet Ontario building and fire code regulations, and share safety and emergency information with guests.

    City council will consider a regulation package, including a to-be-determined short-term-rental tax, at its December meeting.

    0 0

    A Peel Region police officer has been released on bail after he was charged with domestic assault, forcible confinement and mischief over $5,000.

    Const. Rajvir Ghuman was arrested over the weekend after an alleged victim came forward to police on Aug. 19, Sgt. Josh Colley said.

    He said Ghuman was immediately suspended with pay as per the provisions of the Ontario Police Services Act.

    Colley said he would not be releasing any information regarding the specifics of the allegations because of the victim’s privacy and the matter is before the courts.

    “Conduct of this nature is not tolerated by the Peel Regional Police and any officer who engages in this behavior will be investigated and charged appropriately,” said police Chief Jennifer Evans in a statement.

    Ghuman appeared in court Monday.

    0 0

    Every other year — going back to Jean Chrétien’s first mandate — I’ve tried to spend the last week of my summer vacation on Quebec’s Magdalen Islands, using part of the time to catch a glimpse of what makes some of the voters behind the polling numbers tick.

    The islands are a go-to destination for visitors from the other regions of the province, making them a good place to look for insights into Quebec’s political psyche. There are worse venues to chat about politics than a beachside café!

    My last visit dated back to the first weeks of the 2015 federal election at a time when the NDP was still riding high in voting intentions. I had found plenty of anecdotal evidence to support the polling data but also clear indications that Thomas Mulcair’s chances rested too heavily for comfort on his capacity to sustain the perception that he was best placed to beat Stephen Harper.

    If there has been one constant over all those end-of-summer visits it has been a general willingness to spontaneously vent about the prime minister of the day. To varying degrees that was true of Chrétien, Paul Martin and Harper.

    On that score, this summer’s listening tour was unlike any of the previous ones for no one seemed inclined to vent about Justin Trudeau. Quebecers are not raving about the prime minister; nor are they ranting about him in the way they did about his three predecessors.

    An Abacus poll published in late July pegged support for Trudeau’s Liberals in Quebec at 53 per cent. That’s well above their election showing and almost 30 points ahead of the Conservatives, the Bloc Québécois and the NDP.

    The Liberals owe part of that popularity to the low Quebec profile of the opposition parties. The Bloc Québécois’ latest leader, Martine Ouellet, moonlights as a member of the National Assembly. Incoming Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is relatively unknown outside his party’s modest Quebec circles, and the ongoing NDP leadership campaign is very much taking place under the radar.

    The potential re-emergence of a Liberal juggernaut in Quebec in the 2109 election would in itself be cause for concern for the other parties. But even more worrisome from the opposition’s perspective is the fact that the main trend underlying the high Liberal score is not Quebec-specific.

    Like other Canadians, Quebecers have Donald Trump on their minds, and with the American president as a baseline Trudeau enjoys a huge comparative edge.

    While the Liberals have reset their governing agenda to deal with a changed U.S. reality, the Conservatives and the New Democrats have so far failed to find a footing in the new Canada-U.S. universe.

    Over a summer break dominated by Trump-related developments, both main opposition parties have fallen well short of offering an effective critique of the government’s approach, let alone a constructive alternative.

    Calling on Trudeau’s principal secretary Gerald Butts to publicly disown his reported friendship with then-Trump adviser Steve Bannon as Mulcair did last week only raises more questions as to how an NDP government would manage the relationship with an unpredictable White House. At last check, building bridges — not burning them — was part of the brief of senior PMO officials.

    Meanwhile the Conservatives whose flirt with dog-whistle identity politics pre-dates Trump’s victory are scrambling to belatedly put much-needed distance between their party and the fallout from a toxic presidency.

    While the opposition fiddles the Liberals have acquired a lot of political cover for their handling of the Canada/U.S. file. On the Conservative front, former federal minister James Moore and Rona Ambrose, the party’s recent interim leader, have both joined an advisory group that acts as a sounding board for the government on NAFTA.

    Canada’s two NDP premiers as well as senior members of the Canadian labour movement are also in the trade renegotiation loop.

    Despite the breaking of signature election promises ranging from the size of budget deficits to electoral reform, mounting acrimony on the Indigenous front, concerns over a sudden abundance of border-crossing asylum seekers and a cabinet team whose learning curve is proving to be steep, Trudeau — as his government nears mid-mandate — is in better shape in national voting intentions than Mulroney, Chrétien and Harper were at the same juncture. He can thank Trump for part of that.

    Chantal Hébert is a national affairs writer. Her column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

    0 0

    A judge will consider whether a Toronto woman facing terror-related charges needs a mental health assessment to determine if she’s fit to stand trial.

    Rehab Dughmosh was handcuffed and held at the wrists by a pair of guards wearing helmets, facemasks and padding in her court appearance via video Monday. Her face and head were uncovered, though she has worn a niqab at previous court appearances.

    The judge asked Dughmosh several questions through an interpreter, about her understanding of the court process.

    “You are all infidels. I do not worship what you worship,” Dughmosh responded each time, in Arabic, without looking directly into the camera.

    Later, while a Crown prosecutor attempted to speak, Dughmosh said in English, “Those people hurt me here,” appearing to nod toward the guards.

    Dughmosh was arrested in June for allegedly brandishing a golf club and knife at a Canadian Tire in Scarborough. She has pledged allegiance to Daesh in court, declared that she does not believe in the Canadian legal system and said that “if you release me, I will commit these actions again and again and again.”

    She has told the court she does not want legal counsel, and plans to plead guilty to her charges, which include one count of leaving Canada for the purpose of participating in a terrorist group and multiple counts each of attempted murder, assault with a weapon, carrying a dangerous weapon and carrying a concealed weapon, all “at the direction of, or in association with, a terrorist group.”

    Dughmosh refused to appear in person or by video at her last three scheduled court dates, and had to be brought before a video camera by force Monday.

    Dughmosh was judged mentally fit for trial at her early court appearances. She was responsive and demonstrated an understanding of the role of the court and its officials, federal prosecutor Bradley Reitz told the court.

    But statements by a family member, contained in the Crown’s evidence, suggest there is reason to believe Dughmosh has some form of mental illness, said Ingrid Grant, a lawyer appointed to the case as amicus— someone who assists the court by making sure all relevant evidence and arguments are properly presented, particularly when the accused represents themselves.

    Based on her actions Monday, Dughmosh should be assessed by a doctor to determine whether she is still fit, Grant told the court.

    The judge agreed there was enough evidence to consider an assessment, and will decide next Monday whether to order that an assessment take place.

    Dughmosh’s case is one of many raising concerns among lawyers about the way the courts handle an accused person’s mental health.

    “It’s so frustrating, because ever since funding cuts to hospitals, the criminal courts have become the (authority) that primarily deal with mental health,” former assistant Crown attorney Daniel Lerner said.

    “And you can tell the options that criminal courts have are not pretty and they’re mainly not that effective.”

    Being declared “fit” for trial requires only that the accused person has a basic understanding of the court process, what they are charged with, what it means to be under oath, who the judge, prosecutors and defence lawyers are and what they do.

    “It’s a very low standard to meet,” Lerner said. “It’s very basic. You might have serious mental illnesses, you might have irrational delusions, but you might still be able to answer all those (fitness requirement) questions properly, in which case you’re fit.”

    If, at any time, a judge has evidence that a person is unfit for trial, they can order that the accused undergo a formal fitness assessment by a doctor.

    The fact that Dughmosh refused for so long to come to court, and does not have a lawyer to appear in her place made it difficult for the court to determine whether enough evidence for an assessment existed, said lawyer Jessyca Greenwood, who specializes in mental health-related cases but is unconnected with the Dughmosh case.

    “I’ve been able to get a doctor to see my client at the jail before, when they were refusing to come to court in that case,” Greenwood said.

    “But I, as the defence lawyer, was in court and explained to the judge what was going on, and then based on the (client’s) repeated refusal to come to court and the information I gave, the judge made that order,” she added.

    If an accused person consents to a fitness assessment, the process can last up to 30 days, according to public information provided by Legal Aid Ontario. If they do not want to be assessed, the process is capped at five days, although in either case a judge can extend the assessment by an additional 30 days, as they deem necessary.

    If the doctor performing the assessment determines that the accused is not fit for trial, they can be sent for treatment, until they are well enough to be qualified as “fit.”

    That treatment could result in the accused being kept in a high-security hospital for years, Lerner said.

    0 0

    More than five years after a stage collapse at an outdoor Radiohead concert that killed drum technician Scott Johnson, defence lawyers argued in court Monday that charges should be stayed because of unreasonable delays in the legal process.

    Charges were first laid against entertainment company Live Nation, engineer Domenic Cugliari, and contractor Optex Staging in June 2013.

    After an already-lengthy case, the trial now has to start over again after a mistrial was declared this spring. Closing arguments were supposed to begin in June, but the presiding judge, Justice Shaun Nakatsuru, was appointed to the Ontario Superior Court earlier this year and decided that he no longer had jurisdiction over the case.

    The new trial is scheduled to begin on September 5 and end in May 2018 — almost five years since charges were laid.

    Lawyers for Live Nation and Cugliari, Jack Siegel and Scott Thompson, argued the trial isn’t happening within a reasonable period of time, violating their Charter rights to a timely trial.

    “By that time, and in fact before we get there, we’ll have reached a point where any complexity cannot possibly justify the delay,” said Siegel, who represents Live Nation.

    The Supreme Court of Canada’s landmark Jordan decision last summer established new time limits on court proceedings, stating that cases heard in provincial court should go to trial within 18 months, and those heard in Superior Court should go to trial within 30 months.

    This is the second time Cugliari and Live Nation have applied to get charges stayed over unreasonable delays. Last October, Justice Nakatsuru dismissed their attempt, saying the trial’s slow pace was acceptable because the highly technical evidence made the case particularly complex.

    Live Nation Canada, Live Nation Ontario and Optex Staging each face four charges alleging they failed to ensure the stage structure was being built in a safe manner. Cugliari, the engineer, faces one count of endangering a worker because his advice or certification was allegedly made negligently or incompetently.

    On Monday, Siegel and Thompson argued that the complexity of the case does not justify a roughly 60-month delay.

    The lawyers argued that Nakatsuru’s appointment was not a “discrete event.” Under the Jordan ruling, delays caused by “discrete events” that were unforeseen or unavoidable don’t count as part of the overall delay.

    Siegel said that the mistrial caused by Justice Shaun Nakatsuru’s appointment to the Superior Court could have been avoided by the justice system. The Crown could have adopted an amendment that allowed Justice Nakatsuru to continue the trial, he said; the judge’s appointment could have been postponed, or the judge could have declined or asked for a deferral.

    “My submission is that all of the state actors collectively have a responsibility to ensure these delays do not happen,” said Siegel.

    Crown prosecutor David McCaskill said the court should only look at the delays caused by the judge’s appointment, which he called a discrete event. McCaskill said the justice system response to the mistrial and the time allotted for the new trial is reasonable.

    Siegel, however, said there’s a need to examine the whole case, and assess the delays “cumulatively.”

    The 2012 collapse killed Scott Johnson, a 33-year-old British drum technician who was touring with Radiohead. Three other workers were injured after part of the stage structure came crashing down during setup for the concert at Downsview Park.

    Johnson’s father, Ken, said the attempt to stay charges again is “extremely annoying.” He said the case needs to have closure, so they can know for certain what caused the collapse that killed his son, and ensure it doesn’t happen again.

    “Scott, my son, he’s been waiting a long time for the answers,” said Johnson, speaking over the phone from his home in England.  

    “I just feel it needs to be completed. They can’t just put it off because of the time factor, it doesn’t make sense.”

    Justice Ann Nelson said the parties will be contacted about what to expect for the scheduled trial start on September 5. 

    0 0

    OTTAWA—As the surge of migrants pouring into Quebec hit 4,500 people — mostly Haitians — in the first three weeks of August, the federal government scrambled Monday to stem the tide with a sterner message to would-be asylum seekers and to accommodate hundreds more in the nearby Ontario border town of Cornwall.

    The office of Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale acknowledged the RCMP had intercepted and arrested 4,500 irregular border crossers in Quebec so far this month — on top of 3,000 that crossed in July. They are mostly Haitian and found eligible to file a refugee claim.

    On Monday evening, Cornwall city councillors held a special meeting to demand answers of federal, provincial and municipal officials, saying citizens are worried about the impact of all the new arrivals, while many others want to help.

    At the Nav Centre conference and hotel facility now hosting 300 people — all Haitian families — is full, and manager Kim Coe-Turner said that with upcoming conferences it cannot accommodate more immediately.

    So the Canadian Forces are setting up a tent city on the Nav Centre grounds that will be an “interim lodging site” for up to 500 Haitians asylum seekers who will be directed there by border services authorities at Lacolle, Que., because Montreal’s shelters and services are overwhelmed, said Cornwall’s emergency management coordinator Bradley Nuttley.

    Nuttley assured councillors that the families can be well accommodated in tents with plywood flooring, electricity and heating, while nearby residents’ concerns will be met by low-noise electrical generators, and privacy fences up to 12 feet high to be erected on three sides. In part, he said, that’s to protect children — over 40 per cent of the refugee claimants now there are children under 7 — from “noxious weeds” on nearby land.

    Mayor Leslie O’Shaughnessy complained there is no lead federal agency to answer council’s or the public’s enquiries and that information “was changing by the hour.” He pressed federal officials to hold a public information meeting because “it is a federal project.”

    “Whoever the lead is, hopefully they’ll get the bills,” Councillor André Rivette said. He asked if Ottawa planned to set up a field hospital so that local residents wouldn’t find themselves waiting for health services.

    Stressing that no declaration of emergency had been issued because there are enough resources to meet the needs, Nuttley said almost all newcomers were quite healthy. There’d even been one birth of a “new Canadian citizen,” and a few more pregnant women are at the centre, he said, though officials see no need for anything more than a temporary clinic on the Nav Centre grounds.

    “I’ve not been requested to provide any services in this emergency – ‘er this event, sorry, a little Freudian slip there,” said Nuttley.

    Still, Louis Dumas, a senior federal immigration official, acknowledged “the current situation is a difficult one, we are seeing a spike” at Lacolle, Que. Refugee claimants are “entitled to due process” and the federal government’s goal “is to process people quickly,” he said.

    The hope is refugee claimants will within a week complete their applications and submit them for an assessment at a joint federal-provincial processing centre also set up at Cornwall’s Nav Centre before their claims are sent to the Immigration and Refugee Board for adjudication.

    But once their claims are submitted, the migrants are free to leave and most are expected to head back to Montreal where a large Haitian diaspora lives. Dumas said about 10 per cent will likely head elsewhere in Canada, mostly in Ontario.

    Haitians are flooding across the border because the United States administration under President Donald Trump has indicated it will revoke a temporary protected status for Haitians, issued after the 2010 earthquake, starting in January.

    Dumas said Haitians should not expect Canada will automatically allow permanent entry. He noted that last year, the independent IRB turned down 50 per cent of asylum claims by Haitians, who were then ordered deported back to Haiti.

    Earlier Monday Immigration Minister Ahmad Hussen and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale went before cameras at Lacolle earlier to say there is “no fast track” to refugee status for those who cross illegally and to warn against “border-hopping.”

    “Trying to cross the border in an irregular fashion is not a free ticket to Canada,” Goodale said, sounding a frustrated note. “We have been making this point over and over and over again since last January and February when the, the circumstances began.”

    That line is to be echoed by Haitian-Canadian MP Emmanuel Dubourg who Canadian Press reports is being dispatched to Florida to do Creole-language interviews and meet community leaders among Miami's Haitian diaspora and to speak to a slew of influential media outlets.

    0 0

    In one part of the GTA, three schools were plastered with anti-Semitic, anti-Black graffiti. In another, a Muslim woman’s car window smashed, with “derogatory” comments spray-painted on her property.

    Hate crimes are nothing new, but religious groups are sounding the alarms as they appear to be on the rise.

    “We continue to see a trend of a high level of anti-Semitic incidents in Canada going back to 2012,” said Aidan Fishman, the interim national director of B’nai Brith Canada’s League for Human Rights.

    On Sunday, York Regional Police were called to three different Markham schools near Highway 7 and Wooten Way, which had each been vandalized with anti-Semitic and anti-Black graffiti. The messages referenced the KKK and “white power” and also compared the Jewish Star of David symbol to a swastika.

    Police believe the same suspects are responsible for all three incidents.

    That same day, 28-year-old Matthew Wight was driving his car in Brampton when he unexpectedly stopped in front of the driveway of a home, made a racial slur toward a man standing there and proceeded to attack him, unprovoked.

    Peel police charged Wight with assault causing bodily harm in what they called a “hate-motivated crime.” The 31-year-old victim was treated for serious facial injuries in hospital.

    Two days earlier, Durham police responded to a Pickering home, where a Muslim woman’s car window had been smashed and spray-painted with graffiti, along with profane words painted on her driveway. Police are investigating it as a possible hate crime.

    “It is believed that speaking with the victim, that it is related to her religion,” said Const. George Tudos. “There has been a couple recent incidents within our region. At this point, it’s mixed, whether it’s against someone’s religious background or sexual orientation or colour of skin. Our message is that this is not tolerated within the Durham Region.”

    Amira Elghawaby, a spokesperson for the National Council of Canadian Muslims, said hate crimes against Muslims across the country show no sign of slowing down.

    “Our concern is always quite high. Whenever there is, for instance, a terrorist attack done in the name of Islam, we will notice a spike in what’s being reported,” Elghawaby said. “I don’t want to say that it’s the new normal, but it pretty much is the new normal.”

    There’s been an uptick in hate crimes, or at least those that have been reported, over the last eight to10 months, according to Barbara Perry, a professor in the Faculty of Social Science and Humanities at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology.

    “It’s in the air, the apparent freedom now to express your sentiments, whether it’s verbally or whether it’s the form of this sort of graffiti and property damage,” said Perry, who has written extensively on hate crimes.

    She said some incidents are a direct result of one’s ideology, while others are perpetrated by “thrill-seeking” teenagers. A third motivator is often the notion of “defending neighbourhoods.”

    “We refer to it as a ‘message crime,’” Perry said. “It is meant to send that same narrative to all members of the community, not just the individual who is targeted, to say that ‘you people need to move out of our community, you’re not valued.’”

    Perry said U.S. President Donald Trump is partly to blame for such views becoming more mainstream in Canada.

    “Obviously, Trump has been the latest lightning rod for that and has really enabled the rhetoric and the sentiment and the violence to flourish,” she said. “But he’s not solely to blame. We have our own history here of Islamophobia and anti-Semitism and homophobia across the board.”

    Last week, Durham police arrested 57-year-old William Carnahan, responsible for assaulting a 22-year-old Muslim man in Whitby on Aug. 12. The victim had been in a washroom when he was approached by Carnahan, who made several “hate-related threats” before punching him and fleeing on a bicycle.

    Elghawaby’s organization keeps a running tally of anti-Muslim incidents across Canada. There have already been 57 in 2017, compared to 64 at the end of last year and 59 in 2015.

    “We’re likely going to outpace last year in terms of what’s being reported to NCCM,” she said. “It only represents a very small sliver of what’s going on as two-thirds of hate crimes are not reported, according to Statistics Canada.”

    A Statistics Canada report in June showed hate crimes targeting Muslims rose by 60 per cent in 2015. Jews remained the most targeted religious group with 178 incidents that year.

    B’nai Brith’s annual audit of anti-Semitic incidents showed a record-breaking year in 2016 for anti-Semitism in Canada, with more than 1,700 incidents, a 26 per cent increase over 2015.

    “Even though it was record-breaking as a single year, it’s part of an elevated trend,” Fishman said. “What we’re seeing so far in 2017, both in regard to incidents generally and also specifically with regard to vandalism, unfortunately there’s no breaking of that trend.”

    Fishman said it’s particularly concerning following white nationalist protests last week in Charlottesville, Va., which prominently featured anti-Semitic chants and signage.

    “There’s a concern that the individuals who share that ideology in Canada, even though they’re thankfully not as numerous or as influential here, will be emboldened by what has taken place in the United States,” he said.

older | 1 | .... | 1003 | 1004 | (Page 1005) | 1006 | 1007 | .... | 1060 | newer