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    With the school year approaching, an anti-binge drinking ad found in the women’s washroom of York University caused a stir on social media this week over accusations of sexism.

    The controversial poster depicts a woman looking at her phone in shock, viewing Instagram photos of young adults drinking alcohol, accompanied by the caption: “Don’t try to keep up with the guys.”

    The bottom of the poster reads, “It’s not just about keeping an eye on your drink, but how much you drink.”

    The ad, produced for a York Region campaign against substance abuse, was criticized for “victim blaming” women who are sexually assaulted.

    Rawan Habib, president of the York Federation of Students, was critical of the poster.

    “This advertisement plays into, and supports, rape culture, rape myths about women and sexual violence,” she said. “Promotion of responsible drinking should not be gendered.

    “When we’re discussing sexual violence, oftentimes the blame falls on women — they are held responsible for the violence that they experience.”

    York Region has ended the campaign, and will remove the poster. Ann Ramkay, a manager in York Region’s public health division, apologized for the poster.

    “As soon as we received some negative feedback, we immediately pulled the campaign,” she said.

    The campaign included two social media messages and the poster before it ended.

    “For anyone who did take offence to the campaign, we do offer our sincerest apologies,” Ramkay said, adding that women were involved in creating the poster.

    Ramkay said that the purpose of the campaign was to raise awareness about “the dangers associated with excessive alcohol consumption and binge drinking.”

    “It was primarily targeted to women because . . . even when women drink the same amounts as men, women absorb and metabolize alcohol differently,” she said. “Women are at greater risk for alcohol-related harm because they often weigh less, have more fat tissue, less water in their bodies, and lower levels of enzymes that break down alcohol.”

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

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

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

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

    And the mayor’s office?

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

    “. . . in 2018,” she added.

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

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

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

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

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    ATLANTA—A white Cobb County police lieutenant has been moved to administrative duty for telling a white woman during a traffic stop, “Remember, we only shoot Black people.”

    The Cobb branch of the NAACP said Thursday the officer’s statements, captured on police video footage, were disturbing, but the branch president said she wanted to know more about the incident.

    Channel 2 Action News reported that its request for body camera footage of the traffic stop prompted an internal investigation of Lt. Greg Abbott, who has been on the Cobb force for 28 years.

    The footage shows the officer speaking through the car window to a female passenger in a vehicle that had been stopped for suspected DUI.

    The woman tells Abbott that she is afraid to reach for her cellphone because “I’ve just seen way too many videos of cops…”

    At that point, Abbott cuts her off.

    “But you’re not Black. Remember, we only shoot Black people,” the police veteran of nearly three decades can be heard saying. “Yeah. We only kill Black people, right? All the videos you’ve seen, have you seen the Black people get killed?”

    The footage is from July 2016, before Mike Register took over as chief of Cobb police.

    He said that Abbott will remain on administrative duty pending the outcome of the investigation, for which he didn’t give a timeline.

    On Thursday, attorney Suri Chadha Jimenez, who represented the driver in the DUI case that resulted from the traffic stop, offered clarification of the incident.

    Chadha Jimenez said the woman was not the driver of the car but a passenger. He represented the male driver of the car, not the woman, but said he was familiar with the facts of the case.

    The driver was arrested for DUI and placed in the officer’s squad car. The woman was waiting for someone to pick her up from the scene. While she waited, the exchange with the officer occurred.

    “She does have a legitimate concern,” Chadha Jimenez said. “I think it was an honestly felt response but the officer’s response mocked her, which wasn’t professional. What bothers me is that he didn’t take her concern seriously.”

    The woman was arrested on charges related to the traffic stop, Chadha Jimenez said. Both her case and the driver’s DUI case were resolved months ago, the attorney said. He would not say if the driver and the woman are related.

    Neither his client nor the woman wants the media attention that has come with the revelations, Chadha Jimenez said.

    “She’s not trying to get paid,” he said. “She wants it to go away.”

    Also on Thursday, the president of the Cobb branch of the NAACP said she was reserving judgment on the matter until the officer’s case has been thoroughly investigated.

    “We know police officers get up every day and protect and serve, but this was so cavalier,” said Deane Bonner, the branch president. “(The) young lady ... never mentioned ‘Black.’ So, for him to take it to that level, it’s just very sad.”

    She continued: “I want to be fair to him and we believe in due process, but as the leader of an organization that deals with people who go through this every day, this strikes a real chord with us. Why bring up ‘Black’ and not just say ‘people’? ‘We don’t shoot people.’”

    Bonner also said the organization wanted to know what the officer’s professional record has been and whether he has had any other complaints brought against him.

    A statement Wednesday from the department said Chief Register found out about the recording Friday.

    “No matter what context it was said, it shouldn’t have been said,” Register told Channel 2.

    This was also before a study by the International Association of Chiefs of Police ordered the department to address public perceptions of racism and discriminatory policing.

    Chadha Jimenez, the attorney, said he thinks the officer was being sarcastic after the woman “gave him some lip.”

    “It makes you cringe when you hear it. It’s unacceptable,” Chadha Jimenez said.

    Lance LoRusso, Abbott’s attorney, gave the station this statement:

    “Lt. Greg Abbott is a highly respected 28-year veteran of the Cobb County Police Department. He is cooperating with the department’s internal investigation and will continue to do so. His comments must be observed in their totality to understand their context. He was attempting to de-escalate a situation involving an uncooperative passenger. In context, his comments were clearly aimed at attempting to gain compliance by using the passenger’s own statements and reasoning to avoid making an arrest.”

    In the police statement, Cobb County Commission Chairman Mike Boyce is quoted as saying: “I have seen the video and obviously have great concerns. I find the comments on the video repugnant and offensive beyond measure.”

    This comes a day after the department released information about an officer-involved shooting that injured a 16-year-old’s upper thigh. The shooting was deemed justifiable by a grand jury.

    “We are going to keep going forward to make sure we, as a police department, service the community in a most professional way. All segments of the community,” Register said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    CROSBY, TEXAS—Explosions and fires rocked a flood-crippled chemical plant near Houston early Thursday, sending up a plume of acrid, eye-irritating smoke and adding a new hazard to Hurricane Harvey’s aftermath.

    The plant’s owners warned more explosions could follow because a loss of refrigeration was causing chemicals stored there to degrade and burn.

    The Environmental Protection Agency and local officials said an airborne analysis of the smoke for any health dangers showed no reason for alarm.

    There were no immediate reports of any serious injuries.

    Dozens of workers were pulled out of the Arkema Inc. plant before the hurricane hit, and a small crew of 11 that had been left behind was evacuated before the blasts for fear of just such a disaster. Officials had also ordered people living within 2.4 kilometres to leave on Tuesday.

    Fire and plant officials said the substances that caught fire were organic peroxides, a family of volatile compounds used for making a variety of products, including pharmaceuticals and construction materials.

    Earlier this week, French-owned Arkema warned of the risk of an explosion at the plant about 40 kilometres northeast of Houston, saying Harvey’s floodwaters had knocked out power and backup generators, disabling the refrigeration needed to keep the organic peroxides stable.

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

    He said the company expected more explosions from the eight remaining containers.

    Read more:

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    Houston sees glimmer of hope after Harvey but threats loom

    The plant is along a stretch near Houston that contains one of the biggest concentrations of refineries, pipelines and chemical plants in the country. Houston is the nation’s fourth-largest city, with a population of 2.3 million.

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

    The blaze at Arkema sent up 9- to 12-meter flames and black smoke, according to fire officials. Harris County Fire Marshal spokesperson Rachel Moreno put the quantity of burning organic peroxide at 2 tons.

    Fifteen sheriff’s deputies who complained of respiratory irritation were examined at a hospital and released, the Harris County sheriff’s office said.

    The EPA sent employees and an aircraft to monitor the situation. It said samples collected by the aircraft showed “there are no concentrations of concern for toxic materials reported at this time.”

    The EPA’s analysis followed comments from Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, who told reporters in Washington that “by all means, the plume is incredibly dangerous.” Asked about the discrepancy, a FEMA spokesman said Brock would defer to officials closer to the scene.

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

    Arkema had warned earlier this week that the chemicals would erupt in an intense fire resembling a gasoline blaze. There was “no way to prevent” the explosion, CEO Rich Rowe said on Wednesday.

    Moreno, of the fire marshal’s office, said the 2.4-kilometre radius was developed in consultation with the Homeland Security Department and other experts.

    “The facility is surrounded by water right now so we don’t anticipate the fire going anywhere,” she said.

    Arkema was required to submit a risk management plan to the EPA because it has large amounts of sulphur dioxide, a toxic chemical, and methylpropene, a flammable gas. The plans are supposed to detail the effects of a potential release and how the company would respond.

    In its most recently available submission from 2014, Arkema said that in a worst-case scenario, 1.1 million residents could be affected over 37 kilometres, according to information compiled by a non-profit group and posted on a website hosted by the Houston Chronicle.

    Arkema argued that that scenario was highly unlikely because it assumed that all of the plant’s safety measures failed and that strong winds were blowing directly toward Houston.

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

    The records contained no details on the violations, but investigators classified them as “serious,” meaning they could have resulted in death or serious injury.

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    HALIFAX—No criminal charges will be laid against five so-called “Proud Boys” who disrupted a Mi’kmaq ceremony in downtown Halifax on Canada Day, the Royal Canadian Navy says.

    Rear-Admiral John Newton said Thursday that an investigation has wrapped up with no further actions taken against the servicemen, although they remain on an unspecified term of probation and must adhere to unspecified conditions.

    “If they fail … they are gone. This is not lightweight punishment,” he told reporters.

    The servicemen had been relieved of their duties and re-assigned to other jobs, pending the results of the military police investigation into the incident at a statue of Halifax’s controversial founder, Edward Cornwallis.

    Newton said one of the servicemen has since left the Forces, but the others are being returned to their operational units and regular duties. He said the serviceman who left the forces had initiated the process well before the July 1 incident.

    Read more: Two Navy members involved in confrontation at Indigenous ceremony on Canada Day

    He said the members displayed “behaviour inconsistent with the values and ethics expected of those in uniform,” and the military has taken appropriate measures to address “individual shortcomings.”

    Specifically, Newton said they had contravened a section of the Queens Regulations and Orders “where your personal actions, on duty or off duty, could be perceived or are in contravention with the policies of the Canadian Armed Forces.”

    The navy has ensured the servicemen have a clear understanding of the expected ethical behaviours and standards of conduct within the Armed Forces, he said.

    Newton told reporters the remaining servicemen — three navy and one army — will have a permanent mark on their record.

    “They have to actually pass this probationary period to get back onto their full career progress,” he said.

    “I’m not going to spell out the individual type of probationary measures because there is privacy and confidentiality of the members involved and they have that right as individual citizens,” said Newton.

    The investigation began in early July, a few days after a group of “Proud Boys” confronted Indigenous people gathered in a park for what they described as a sacred rite. The incident was caught on videotape and spread on social media.

    Rebecca Thomas, who was at the Canada Day ceremony, said she was disappointed at the “lack of consequences” for the service members who were involved in the incident.

    “I would have liked to have seen a restorative justice process for these individuals where they have to face the community that they wronged,” said Thomas, who is Mi’kmaq and Halifax’s poet laureate.

    “I worry about something that could have been a teachable moment is now just turning into a straight form of punishment within a very familiar context. It doesn’t seem that things were learned.”

    Thomas wonders whether the punishment would have been as lenient had the service members interrupted a Roman Catholic mass or a Remembrance Day ceremony.

    “It could be an indication on how the Armed Forces see Indigenous ceremony,” she said. “I would like to hope that these individuals have changed their feelings on Indigenous peoples but I don’t have any proof to that effect.”

    The Armed Forces previously apologized for the servicemen’s actions. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and Gen. Jonathan Vance, chief of the defence staff, both condemned the actions of the men.

    The “Proud Boys” — known for matching black polo shirts often worn by members — was founded in the U.S. by Gavin McInnes, a Canadian who helped establish Vice Media and is now an outspoken, right-wing political pundit.

    The “Proud Boys” call themselves “Western chauvinists.”

    A Facebook post from the Proud Boys Canadian Chapters Thursday struck a triumphal and defiant tone in reaction to the navy’s actions.

    “We win, our brothers in the Halifax 5 are returning to active military duty with no charges, let the SJW (Social Justice Warriors) tears pour,” it said. “Proud of our boys.”

    Newton said he has met with the servicemen twice, and they are remorseful and dealing with a world changed by social media.

    He said reporters don’t know the servicemen’s version of the story, but “it means nothing” anyway, because what matters is what the public perceives.

    Newton said he has dealt with many navy mishaps caused by personal mistakes, and although the servicemen embarrassed the military, the matter has been dealt with through the governing policies and procedures.

    “You cannot just turn around and fire everybody. They have rights,” he said.

    “You can’t pursue it just because you want to. You just can’t. What we are doing doesn’t solve all of the issues. But it is as good an outcome as I can strive for.”

    Newton said he has also met with Chief Grizzly Mamma, who was part of the Indigenous ceremony interrupted by the “Proud Boys.”

    Thursday was Newton’s last full day as commander of Canada’s East Coast navy, as he begins work with Veterans Affairs Canada in Charlottetown. Rear Admiral Craig Baines will assume command in Halifax in a ceremony Friday morning.

    In a statement Thursday, the military said the Halifax incident has provided a leadership opportunity for military brass — and the best way to confront and defeat intolerance is through education and training.

    “Any action by a Canadian Armed Forces member (in uniform or not) that demonstrates intolerance or shows disrespect towards the people and cultures we value in Canada is completely unacceptable,” it said.

    “The Canadian Armed Forces celebrates the contributions that First Nations, Inuit and Metis people have made to Canada and its military.

    “The chain of command has taken appropriate measures to address individual shortcomings, intended to drive home a clear understanding of the ethical behaviour and standard of conduct that we demand all our members uphold and maintain.”

    It said the Armed Forces view diversity as a source of strength and flexibility.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    PORT PERRY—The Port Perry Hospital remains closed following a rooftop fire that forced an evacuation and caused millions in damage, but not even flames could stop the arrival of new baby Bryce Witruk.

    One person suffered minor injuries in the fire, which was caused by roofing work and started just before 7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 25. Seagrave mother Nicole Witruk had just entered active delivery as the fire alarm rang through the building, followed shortly by the power shutting off.

    “At first they said it was probably a drill, but then Ian [Witruk, Nicole’s husband] opened the door and there was in a cop in the hallway, he said ‘you can’t be in there, you need to evacuate, there’s a fire,’” Nicole recalls.

    “Next thing I know Ian is saying there’s smoke in the hallway, and the nurses are throwing IV bags on top of me and they’re pushing me out the door.”

    Nicole was taken to the parking lot. Once Dr. Kim Ferguson determined she was ready to start pushing, emergency crews scrambled to get an ambulance in place so she could deliver.

    “It was a close call,” Ian recalls. “We were getting ready to hold up sheets to make a room but then EMS got there and it was only 13 minutes after that he was born.”

    The couple said they were comforted by all the staff and emergency personnel on the scene, including many members of hospital staff who came in during their off hours to help during the crisis.

    “Everyone was there. Dr. Ferguson was amazing, the head surgeon was there, the anesthesiologist came back, if anything happened we would have had everyone we needed right there,” Nicole said.

    “There were so many nurses and doctors and even emergency personnel there encouraging me and that was really nice because I needed it, my epidural had started to wear off by then and it was just nice to have so many people cheering me on.”

    Ian too said it is a moment he won’t soon forget.

    “When he came out and everyone heard him cry they started singing happy birthday, it was a really nice moment. I think we were all tearing up after, it was like a load lifted off, it was a happy moment.”

    They credit the staff for their level of calm and expertise during the emergency.

    “The staff and doctors were absolutely amazing and we couldn’t have done it without them, but more than that it was nice to see how everyone gathered together and stepped up,” Nicole said.

    “It was cool to see how amazing the Port Perry community is. I want people to realize how important the hospital is, it’s a key part of our community. They’re always so welcoming there, it’s another reason we love being a part of this community.”

    The hospital remains temporarily closed while damages are assessed and teams work to determine what will be required to safely reopen the hospital after the rooftop fire.

    “The origin and cause was determined to be a hot tar roofing application process that ignited nearby insulation,” said Township of Scugog fire Chief Mark Berney. “The estimated dollar loss is approximately $10 million.”

    Altogether five trucks and 20 firefighters responded, with aid provided by the Oshawa and Uxbridge Fire Departments. The fire was brought under control within 35 minutes, with the scene fully secured by 8:45 p.m.

    Berney also had high praise for hospital staff and the various agencies that assisted with the evacuation of all 22 patients from the hospital to Lakeridge sites in Oshawa and Bowmanville, including Durham Region EMS, Durham Regional Police and Durham Region Transit. One other expectant mother was labouring in the New Life Centre when the fire broke out, but was safely relocated to Oshawa before delivery.

    “I was very impressed with the actions of the hospital staff, it was quite obvious they had practised their emergency plan and they did it very well,” Berney explained, noting the fire posed a unique set of challenges.

    “There’s a lot of potential unknowns in terms of how many beds are occupied, what the mobility of patients is as well as the different types of gases used for procedures,” he explained.

    “There’s no telltale as to how many people are in the hospital at any one time so in cases like that it really comes down to whether or not locations like hospitals not only have, but have practised, emergency plans.”

    He also praised the community for coming together to help during the crisis.

    “There were a lot of people there, and a lot of people not in uniform,” he said.

    “Bystanders and family members of patients played a significant role in caring for patients until they could be properly relocated by EMS.”

    Hospital officials are assuring residents that care will be available at other sites throughout the community while the hospital is repaired.

    “We want to reassure patients and families that while the Port Perry Hospital remains temporarily closed, we are able to provide safe, quality care within our regional system,” says Matthew Anderson, Lakeridge Health president and CEO.

    “Port Perry Hospital remains critical to access and delivery of care for the community. Lakeridge Health is committed to restoring and reopening the hospital as soon as possible. During the time of closure, we will extend capacity at other acute care hospitals within our network to help alleviate patient volumes.”

    The majority of surgical and diagnostic procedures are being shifted to Lakeridge Health’s Oshawa and Bowmanville sites, while additional capacity at Ajax-Pickering Hospital may also be used if needed. Expectant moms planning to deliver at the New Life Centre are asked to discuss their birth plans with their medical professional, while all hospital-based care and deliveries will be provided at the Oshawa Hospital.

    “The response from our staff, partners and local emergency services has been extremely positive and we would like to thank them for quickly delivering care and for supporting higher than normal volumes at this time,” adds Anderson.

    A new information line is being set up to help patients, families and health service providers better understand when cancelled or postponed appointments will be rebooked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The Star was unable to reach the woman for comment.

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

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

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

    The Star could not independently verify the allegations.

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

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

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

    None of the allegations against Kang has been proven.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    But there are others as well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Call it the Ford conundrum.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Wendy Gillis can be reached at .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Desperation and panic are widespread.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “I’m going to wait and see what they’re going to do,” she said, referring to the Trump administration which must decide by late November if it will again extend the TPS for Haitians or allow the protections to expire on January 23, 2018.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Three teachers whose jobs were impacted when a private Islamic high school abruptly shut down, are opening up a new “leadership academy” in the hopes of giving dozens of displaced students a viable alternative.

    The move comes just days before the new school year begins.

    Long-time teachers and employees Riyad Khan, Omar Essawi and Ali Haroon, were in the midst of preparing for the new term at the Islamic Foundation School in east Toronto, when they heard last week that the high school would not be re-opening in September.

    “No one imagined it would lead to this,” said Khan, who has taught at IFS for 11 years, and was one of 35 teachers to unionize in May. “We thought at the most it would give us a way to negotiate in fair dealings with each other,” he said, adding he resigned from IFS last week, but never received a formal layoff notice.

    Once the closure was announced, the three teachers quickly sprang into action to open up the Gibraltar Leadership Academy — a project they have been working on for the last year, Khan said.

    About 50 students, many from IFS, have already registered for the school, said Essawi, who was a non-unionized staffer and former student at IFS.

    Last week, the management at IFS stunned the tight-knit community when they said they had no choice but to close the decades-old high school, citing financial issues and low enrolment. The elementary school at the same site will continue to operate.

    The union, United Food and Commercial Workers, has called the move to close the high school a form of “reprisal” against recently unionized employees.

    On Tuesday, the union filed a complaint with the Ontario Labour Board alleging the employer “has engaged in a series of unfair labour practices” and asked for the matter to be heard “on an expedited basis.”

    Muneeza Sheikh, a partner at Levitt LLP Employment & Labour Law, and legal counsel for Islamic Foundation, said the school was “disappointed at a number of mischaracterizations” set out by the union in their complaint and will be filing a response to the allegations.

    The last-minute closure set the parents and students — many of whom had attended at IFS since Grade 1 — scrambling to find space at local schools, and sad at the prospect of not graduating with their life-long friends.

    Khan and Essawi say that’s why many parents have been willing to consider their school.

    “We have worked with some of these students for years, and our students trust in us, as do their parents,” said Khan. “We fully intend to help them get into university and prepare them as best as we can,” he said, adding another Islamic school, facing low enrolment, offered to let their academy use its facilities for the next year.

    Plans for the academy began last year, with the initial goal of setting up an Islamic school summer program that would “instill Islamic character in our students, ensuring their development as socially responsible citizens of Canada.”

    Essawi said the academy, originally scheduled to open next summer, was to offer students academic credits, but would also reinforce skills “lacking in traditional Islamic schools” like leadership programs, public speaking and a summer co-op. In preparation, they submitted necessary paperwork to the Ministry of Education earlier this year, he said.

    All private schools in Ontario are required to submit a “notice of intention to operate a private school,” after which ministry staff make an unannounced visit to confirm the school meets requirements set out in the Education Act. The ministry also conducts inspections of schools wishing to offer credits towards the high school diploma. Over 1,200 private schools are registered in Ontario.

    A ministry spokeswoman said they had received the required documentation from the academy, and will follow the normal process in the coming months. Moreover, “because the school began this process in June, it may begin operating in September,” she said.

    “This is not a pop-up shop,” said Khan. “We have been dedicated to this project, and Islamic education for a long time. We want to make sure we run the school in the right way.”

    Khan, said pushing for high standards was also his goal as a teacher at IFS, which is why he voted to join the union in May. He said teachers were eager to “have a voice at the table.”

    “A lot of it came down to relationships between the teaching staff and management and how they were treated,” said Khan, including issues of respect and job security.

    He said the issue of wages had not yet come up in negotiations, and was never considered a priority for staff. A union representative told the Star that, on average, teachers were paid around $40,000 a year.

    Fathima Cader, legal counsel for the UFCW, said “the parties were at the very early stages of bargaining” including agreeing on “basic language” in the contract including the preamble, grievance process, and health and safety issues, when the employer decided it was going to close its high school.

    “By this point, the union had not made any wage proposal,” she said, adding the employer provided no indication to the union that there were financial troubles at the last meeting on Aug. 18, or that it had any intention of shutting down. It announced the closure to parents the next day.

    She said IFS management also spoke to parents about a possible tuition increase.

    In a letter to parents sent late last week, IFS management said the high school closure was not related to the union, but that “the high school is being shut down for financial and administrative reasons,” such as low enrolment.

    “The foundation cannot continue without the financial projections, which is the basis of sustainability of any organization,” the letter said.

    In an effort to be more transparent, and “learn from the past,” the management said it plans to hire a human resources officer, an accountant and health and safety officer, will facilitate the formation of a parents association, and will ensure greater consultation with parents on major decisions.

    But when pressed by the union to initiate a last-ditch effort to keep the high school open, the management suggested it was too late.

    “We spoke to the union and explained the difficulty in running the school at a loss with low enrolment,” said Akbar Warsi, a spokesman for the IFS board of directors, in an email. He added that nearly 100 high school students have transferred from the school in the last week.

    Despite the tensions between the two parties, both the union and management say they plan to continue to negotiate a contract for the remaining 25 full-time employees at the school.

    0 0

    HOUSTON—Larry and Suzette Cade’s blue car had floated six metres or so. Ten massive logs that the couple had never seen before were scattered on one side of their lawn. There was no trace of the mailbox.

    Thursday was the first glimpse the Cades had of their house since Hurricane Harvey battered and drenched the city. All around Houston, people have begun returning home. Some came in trucks, others in boats. Not everyone stayed; some searched for prized possessions or medications before heading back to shelters. Most simply could not bear to wait any longer to find out: How bad is it?

    The Cades have owned their brick house in northwest Houston for a quarter century, yet on Thursday, it felt unfamiliar.

    Read more:

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    Tropical storm Harvey makes landfall again, this time in Louisiana

    As Cade tried to pry open the swollen front door, Cade peeked through the window of the family room. Even through a film of dirt, she could see everything was upended. The water had reached well over a metre and a half in the house.

    They stood at their front door holding hands — and crying.

    “I just feel so sad and empty,” Cade, 63, said, standing in the driveway on Thursday afternoon.

    “Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God,” Cade, 62, softly repeated as she again walked the perimeter of the house. “This is overwhelming. Everything is thrown everywhere.”

    It was uncertain how many of this region’s residents have tried to return home since the storm, but Houston officials said the numbers in shelters were dropping. The George R. Brown Convention Center, Houston’s main shelter, was housing fewer than 8,000 evacuees by late Thursday, down from about 10,000.

    “I do want people to exercise caution if they are leaving the shelters and returning home,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said late Thursday, “or if they sought lodging someplace else and are returning home. They just need to be extra careful when they are returning.”

    The process of going home had its own complications, given all that this city has been through. Local and state authorities issued an array of cautions: Do not eat anything that had come into contact with floodwaters; check for wildlife, including snakes; and visit homes in daylight.

    And they have been passing around advice for disinfecting soaked furniture: one cup of bleach to 18 litres of water.

    “It’s dirty water,” said Dr. David E. Persse, the public health authority for the City of Houston.

    State Senator John Whitmire, who represents part of Houston, said residents were eager to see their homes.

    “Every human emotion ever found in a society is being experienced,” Whitmire said. “They realize how lucky they are to be alive, in many instances. You’ve got to have priorities: Their priority was one of survival and breathing. Now they want to get back to normal as much as possible.”

    Some went home and moved back in. Others made calls to contractors and landlords, planning repairs. Still others carried out wedding photographs or clothes, then headed back to shelters or the homes of relatives for what may be months. In many cases, the homes are not livable.

    “We could only go in and get some clothing and food,” said Marisela Arevalo, 25, who returned to her house in northeast Houston, but only briefly.

    Standing on a flooded highway not far from her home, Arevalo said the water line in the house came up to her knees.

    Tequoya Stewart-Miller, 30, saw her home for the first time since the flood on Thursday, rolling up to the peach-colored two-story house that she shares with her grandmother and other relatives in the Cypress Creek neighbourhood, northwest of downtown.

    The water had inundated the first story. Her strongest memory of the visit, she said, was the smell of the place: “mildew and death.”

    “It was devastating,” she said. “Just devastating.”

    The house where the family gathered for Friday night card games and Sunday soul food dinners was so destroyed she dared not enter.

    “We had the kids around, we didn’t want them to see,” she said. “That’s traumatizing, to see all they used to have.”

    Back at Larry and Suzette Cade’s house, the couple found their backyard looking as though it had been turned upside down.

    The flower pots Cade had collected over 15 years were smashed and scattered across the backyard. Others had vanished. The fence had fallen in a messy heap. The garage door, gone. Fish had found their way into the swimming pool.

    “Where’s our deck?” Cade wondered aloud.

    Cade whirled around and looked at a muddy patch of earth.

    “Gone too,” he said, shoulders sinking.

    Before they left the house on Sunday afternoon to stay at a hotel with five of their 22 grandchildren, Cade placed a photo of his mother on the top of a two-metre shelf. The photo, more than 50 years old, is so treasured that Cade can recall it with precise detail: he is a toddler wearing black shorts, suspenders and white, hard-bottom, high-top shoes; his mother wears a blue floral dress and holds his hand as they stand in Houston’s Fifth Ward.

    “As soon as I walked to the door this morning, I thought about my mom,” he said. “That photo,” he said, his voice thinned by tears. “I thought the shelf was high enough.” The jumble of furniture that the Cades could see through their windows left little hope.

    They said they had weathered storms before in this neighbourhood northwest of downtown, Bammel Forest, but nothing like Harvey.

    “I have seen the really bad stuff on television,” said Cade, whose family owns a transportation business. “But actually experience it? No. Never.”

    Now, the Cades have to face what’s inside. The door is still swollen shut.

    0 0

    Toronto is a homely city, whether by accident or design. Historic buildings are demolished. Cheap glass accretes, storey by storey, without detail, grace or interest. The cycle continues as ever, the infelicities of the 1960s replaced by the godawfuls of the 2010s, plus murals.

    The Twitter pile-on over Margaret Atwood defending her neighbours as they object to an oversized glass condo creature has missed that crucial point. The huge thing goes almost right up to the lot line like a blob on the move.

    This is what puzzles me about Toronto’s smug urban campaigners. Esthetics go unmentioned.

    The eight-storey condo building planned for 321 Davenport Rd. looks like Ikea’s Godmorgon— they’re acrylic make-up drawer organizers — if you couldn’t figure out the assembly instructions. It will easily be as plug-ugly as the box it replaces, but much bigger.

    Read more:

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    Margaret Atwood joins fellow Annex residents to fight condo project

    Improving city life isn’t simple. It’s complex, it’s negotiated. Yes, Davenport is an arterial road and mid-rise buildings will improve it, as they do in the deteriorating Beaches and as high-rise condos will on the ratty east Danforth. More people will come to the city instead of creating destructive suburban sprawl.

    That said, the Davenport condo is creepily close to its neighbours — mainly fairly understated brick homes — just behind it on Admiral Rd. and Bernard Ave. It will kill all privacy and will damage or kill trees.

    Atwood isn’t directly affected but she’s fed up, and as always, she dares to speak up. Admiral is not a glossy street. It has multiple-dwellings, some rooming houses, and a Salvation Army retreat for addiction treatment for women, Atwood told me, adding, “As for this particular condo in its present design being a fosterer of Affordable Housing or in The Public Interest, give me a break!”

    In Toronto city planning, trees are normally treated like the fingers of god himself. Even if your tree is unsightly, good luck trying to cut it down and replant.

    But in this case, to hell with trees. They’re owned by people whose responses in June on the city’s zoning amendment form have been ridiculed. Why? Because their owners have money, whether inherited or earned.

    The rule in Toronto is that everyone who doesn’t own a detached house hates everyone who does.

    Toronto consists of urban tribes: Lycra cyclists; cat people; dog people; foodies; vegans; sports parents; obsessive runners; manspreaders; Proud Boys; angry millennials; cranky retirees; cheese bores; urban planning enthusiasts, etc. The Guardian tracked London ones for years; they haven’t run out yet.

    Urban tribes are cultish. We must face the enemy: everyone else. Bike lanes good, children bad. But sometimes everyone is a little bit right, which is confusing. No one has a measured view.

    Atwood and her neighbours — a Weston here, an Eaton there — have made the urban planning cyclist geeks as choked with anger as any road-raging driver.

    Architectural beauty is worth introducing to Toronto. Glass is cheap. But the glazed glass used by Alterra — a company that mainly builds towers in Toronto and various buildings in southern Ontario — is actually better than the green glass it has used elsewhere. The condos, which will individually cost millions, are not bad if this is the sort of not-bad thing you like.

    But the neighbours don’t want their back gardens looking like a prison exercise yard. And why does Alterra pack the building with balconies and terraces? No one uses balconies, not by the lake or in airless Gardiner condos or on University Ave.

    Right now, Davenport’s west side looks like a row of bad teeth. It has to be built up for the sake of the city’s health and attractiveness. A six-storey Alterra condo would work better, and the build should not crowd the lot.

    But here’s the nail that the Gen Y urban planners, cycling madly and knocking pedestrians down, always catch their socks on: class resentment.

    After enduring tribal Twitter attacks of dubious taste — for her age, for being successful — Atwood revealed that she had already been planning to move into a condo, or downsize. As the New Yorker has reported, her husband, Graeme Gibson, has early dementia. Atwood and Gibson have lived on Admiral for more than 30 years. They are rooted. It’s too late to move.

    The tribalists were cruel. One editorial mocked Atwood’s husband and advised her that if she didn’t like it here, she could always “sell her valuable Annex home and move to the country.” Ah, go back to the woods from whence ye came.

    Imagine saying this to Canada’s most famous writer, a possible Nobel winner, a feminist heroine, a sustainer of the city. Imagine mocking Atwood for her age. Her novels are about Toronto. Few other good novelists bother with it.

    But that’s what Toronto does to its tall poppies. You think you’re so fancy? Get out.

    The fact that Atwood didn’t inherit Weston or Eaton wealth, that she earned every dollar, wins her no points in this city. “Hmm, maybe it’s time for me to move out of Toronto,” Atwood tweeted. “I didn’t like it much when I moved in. #CatsEye”

    Her novel Cat’s Eye was about bullying, Atwood is being bullied by Toronto’s hypersensitive urban tribes, for being famous.

    Alterra claims they’re the greatest, just the best guys. “Success comes from understanding that the complex relationship between people and place should be the guiding force behind every decision,” their website states.

    I suggest Alterra have a friendly chat with the neighbours. They are people. They have a relationship with their place, and with yours. Guide your force.

    0 0

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

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

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

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

    Hurricanes Katrina and Ike each brought an increase of between 12 to 14 cents per litre to Toronto, McTeague explained.

    He predicts there will be a two-cent decrease in gas prices on Sunday night and that price will hold at the pumps at least until Thursday.

    Saturday’s prices could hit a high last seen by Toronto drivers in September 2014. The highest price Torontonians have paid for gas was $1.477 on July 4, 2008, McTeague said.

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

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

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

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

    “Ten days ago, we were $1.10. We’re now at $1.329 (Saturday),” he said. “That’s a pretty big impact.”

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

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

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

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

    “So I think we start with the people first, but it’s obviously, it sucks economically,” Miller said.

    A long line of cars stretched from the pumps at the Costco on Queen Elizabeth Blvd., in Etobicoke on Friday morning where gas was selling for $1.139.

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

    “It was just too much, I’d be burning too much more gas. It’s totally inefficient,” he said.

    Rajeev Viswanathan waited about 20 minutes for gas at Costco — but he’s waited longer in the past.

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

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