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    NEW YORK — While I clearly remember learning in grade school about John Cabot’s discovery of what is now Canada — the navigator and explorer, commissioned by King Henry VII, probed Newfoundland and sailed into the Gulf of St. Lawrence in 1497 — I don’t recall any teacher explaining his name was actually Giovanni Caboto.

    This could be condemned as a very early appropriation of an Italian accomplishment by Anglo Saxon culture.

    So it should be the Giovanni Caboto Trail, no? And Giovanni Caboto Tower in Bristol. And Giovanni Caboto Catholic School in Mississauga.

    If I were that sort of anachronous jackass, wailing and bemoaning over the injustices done to my peeps, from centuries ago to current ethnically insensitive textbooks. If I had endless whinges to pick. If I demanded an apology for Italians interned in Canada during World War II as enemy aliens.

    If I didn’t loathe identity politics, which is all snail snot to me.

    In fact, the adventuring Norse wayfarers — led by Leif Erikson — actually got here first. Which could have given us the Maple Leif as a national emblem.

    Meanwhile, Spain claimed Christopher Columbus, nee Cristoforo Colombo in Genoa, who never actually stepped foot on mainland North America, accidentally discovering the Bahamas when he was looking for Japan.

    Some Americans would prefer to give him back, belatedly quickening to Columbus as a tyrant who mistreated and enslaved the native Caribbean population. It doesn’t require much digging to discover that the discoverer was a most unpleasant human being who spearheaded the transatlantic slave trade.

    The sins of half a millennia ago — a time of Empire and expansion triggered, mostly, by avaricious thirst for trade — can’t be judged retroactively. Our predecessors couldn’t have seen how the world would shift within a century and a half. Just as we, if erecting memorials to contemporary icons, have no idea whether they will still be considered admirable and virtuous a century from now, if they’ll stand the test of time standing on their plinths.

    And, honestly, I don’t much care. Most people, I’m quite certain, don’t much care, not even about the symbolism inherent in monuments erected to extol Confederate leaders such a Gen. Robert E. Lee, head of a defeated army that rained havoc and ruin on a nation divided. Americans killing Americans, the deepest crevice in this country’s history.

    Charles Barkley, albeit occasionally a tool, said of the movement to topple Confederate statuary — an issue that has stirred deplorable pushback by violent neo-Nazis, the radical right and creepy white supremacists: “I’m not going to waste my time worrying about these Confederate statues. I’m 54 years old. I’ve never thought about those statues a day in my life. I think if you ask most Black people to be honest they ain’t thought a day in their life about those stupid statues . . . I’m not gonna waste my time screaming at a neo-Nazi who’s gonna hate me no matter what.”

    I am not underestimating anybody’s hurt. I am certainly not excusing the obscene moral relativism ascribed by the American president to “both sides” in the Charlottesville horrors — more perpetration of lies by the loco in the White House.

    But we are careering out of control, maddened in our grievances, insistent that the whole wide world be coerced into our views — and by “our” I mean the liberal, progressive view which I genuinely do share.

    Just stop shouting, Jesus H. Christ. Stop assuming the moral superiority on everything. Stop making mountains out of pedestals.

    A year ago it was transgender rights and washrooms. (For the record, in this corner’s opinion, transgenders should use whichever bog suits their gender identity.) Then we were into pronouns warfare. Now it’s monuments and building names, striking out even a Father of Confederation, Sir John A. McDonald, from the names of public schools if the pinheads at the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario gets their way.

    South of the border — but also across Canada, in smaller controversies — sports teams using Indigenous symbols and tribal names has been a long-festering quarrel. Settled — although doubtlessly not permanently — by a unanimous Supreme Court ruling in June that, of all things, sided with an Asian-American rock band called The Slants. The band’s founder tried to trademark the name six years ago but was turned down by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on the grounds that it disparaged Asians.

    Maybe so, the Supremes concluded. But, in a word, tough. Censorship would be worse. Writing the opinion for the court, Justice Samuel Alito said: “It offends a bedrock First Amendment principle: Speech may not be banned on the ground that it expresses ideas that offend.”

    Which took the wind out of the sails of Indigenous activists fighting to get “Redskins” dropped by the Washington NFL franchise, along with “Indians” and “Braves” and other references. This after a poll commissioned by the Washington Post found that nine out of 10 Native Americans weren’t offended by Redskins.

    But it’s the tail, too often, that wags the dog.

    In the Big Apple, the ideological skirmish of the moment relates to Columbus and a narrow — if loud — crusade to have the historical figure’s statuary removed, particularly from iconic Columbus Circle, where the depiction stands 76-foot high.

    Mayor Bill de Blasio, a quite tiresome pol, drew a storm of controversy for wading straight into the fray, recently musing aloud (and via tweet) that he might order removal of the landmark statue, erected in 1892 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the explorer’s landing in “the Americas.”

    With Italian-American New Yorkers in full-throated outrage, Blasio fell back on that old political wedge, declaring he would establish a panel of some sort to review all “offensive monuments,” perhaps opting for “explanation plaques” rather than toppling.

    I’m offended by any such panel. (Just as I was offended, some years ago, by the Italian-American organizations that ripped hit TV show The Sopranos for perpetuating stereotypes of Italians as mobsters. You know why it’s a stereotype? Because it’s true. The Mafia is an indisputable criminal organization of vast power and wealth.

    Over the weekend, Gov. Andrew Cuomo — bitter opponent of de Blasio — had this to say about the Columbus squabble: “The statue is really not about Columbus, it’s about the Italian-American heritage and I think that that deserves to be celebrated. Again, I’m a little biased for obvious reasons but I believe the Italian-American heritage should be celebrated.”

    It. Is. Not. About the Italian-American experience, I mean.

    It’s about Columbus, stupid.

    Just say so and tell the yowlers to stuff it: Baciami il culo.

    In Paisley Park, Minnesota, a petition has been making the rounds, demanding for the banishment of a Columbus statue.

    To be replaced by a statue of Prince.

    I love Prince. But baciami il culo.

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


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    WASHINGTON—Putting hundreds of thousands of people at risk of deportation and triggering a furious political battle, U.S. President Donald Trump has decided to eliminate a Barack Obama program that protects young people brought to the U.S. illegally as children, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on Tuesday.

    Trump’s decision jeopardizes the futures of 800,000 people, many of whom are university students or professionals familiar with no other country and largely indistinguishable from their American-born peers.

    Read more:Undocumented ‘DREAMers’ face ruin under Republican presidency

    The decision is certain to set off an emotional and prolonged fight, with the sympathetic and activist-minded “DREAMers” stuck in the middle. They began protesting on Tuesday even before Sessions’s announcement, with hundreds gathering outside the White House and others participating in a fast at the Capitol.

    Sessions said Obama had offered an unconstitutional “executive amnesty” to people he described as “mostly adult illegal aliens.” Obama, he said, had showed “disrespect” for the wishes of Congress in implementing “an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws.”

    “We are people of compassion and we are people of law. But there is nothing compassionate about the failure to enforce immigration laws,” said Sessions, a staunch opponent of the program.

    Sessions, who implied with no evidence that the program puts Americans at risk of crime and terrorism, said there would be a “wind-down process” to allow Congress to pass legislation before the program disappears. But he provided few details and took no questions, leaving the DREAMers anxious and uncertain about their fate.

    Administration officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporters earlier that people currently enrolled in the program will be able to continue working until their two-year work permits expire. People whose permits expire over the next six months, but none of the others, will be allowed to apply for a two-year renewal.

    That means about a quarter of enrollees may be granted renewals. The other three-quarters will have their permits expire unless Congress acts.

    The officials said the DREAMers would not be treated as a priority for deportation — but that they would be treated like all others in the country illegally, which means they would face the risk of deportation at all times. Many DREAMers have expressed concern that the addresses and biographical information they gave to Obama’s government to enroll in the program would now be used by Trump’s government to locate and evict them.

    Trump stopped short of his campaign promise to immediately terminate the Obama program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). His move to phase out the program rather than dump it — which gives him a theoretical opening to change his mind later — may not fully satisfy anti-immigration activists.

    But Trump’s move is also a betrayal of his words to DACA enrollees as president. In April, he told the Associated Press that the DREAMers should “rest easy.” In February, he said he would “deal with DACA with heart,” calling DREAMers “some absolutely incredible kids.”

    The decision puts new pressure on the Republican-controlled Congress, which has struggled to pass any kind of major legislation, to take some sort of action on a particularly delicate issue. Though party leaders have denounced DACA as improper, some of its senior officials have expressed a desire to protect the DREAmers.

    “These are kids who know no other country, who were brought here by their parents and don’t know another home. And so I really do believe there that there needs to be a legislative solution,” House Speaker Paul Ryan told a Wisconsin radio station last week.

    In a tweet on Tuesday morning, Trump wrote: “Congress, get ready to do your job - DACA!”

    Obama created DACA in 2012 after Republicans thwarted his attempts to pass a comprehensive immigration reform law. The program allowed people who came to the U.S. illegally before their 16th birthday, were enrolled in high school or had graduated, and had no felony convictions to pay $495 to apply for protection from deportation and renewable two-year work permits.

    The DREAMers, named for the so-far-unsuccessful DREAM Act legislation that would grant them legal residency, described the program as life-changing.

    DACA allowed them to earn the professional jobs, elite educations and driver’s licenses unavailable to most of their parents, and it afforded them a feeling of freedom they say has improved their overall health. Trump’s move could force them back into the shadows, consigning them to under-the-table cash jobs and a constant fear of apprehension.

    Numerous big-business chief executives urged Trump to retain DACA.

    “To reverse course now and deport these individuals is contrary to fundamental American principles and the best interests of our country,” the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said in a statement.

    DREAMers are viewed more favourably than other unauthorized immigrants, since they are widely seen to be morally innocent. Polls suggest that even a majority of Republicans have believed that the DREAMers should be allowed to stay in the country.

    In a Morning Consult poll in April, 48 per cent of Republican voters said they should be granted citizenship, 24 per cent said they should be allowed to stay, and 22 per cent said they should be deported.

    That anti-immigration minority, however, is especially active in Republican politics, and many party legislators fear angering this part of their base.

    Trump, whose demonization of Hispanic illegal immigrants was a staple of his campaign, has made a concerted effort to retain his most loyal supporters during his tumultuous first seven months. His decision comes a week after his controversial August pardon of anti-immigrant former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio.


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    OTTAWA—Canada, the U.S. and Mexico put a positive spin Tuesday on what sources say was a tough five-day round of negotiations to rewrite North American free trade rules.

    Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Mexican Secretary of the Economy Ildefonso Guajardo presented a united front on a stage as talks wrapped up in Mexico City.

    Each in turn praised the “hard work” negotiators did at the table. Lighthizer said their efforts consolidated into two dozen chapters that will form the basis for the next round of talks to be held in Ottawa Sept. 23-27.

    Read more:

    Everything you need to know about NAFTA

    ‘Tone is negative’ in NAFTA talks as early sticking points encountered

    Trump’s NAFTA hatred may do Canada a favour: Walkom

    A joint statement issued by the three after their appearance emphasized that “important progress was achieved in many disciplines” and said more is expected in the coming weeks as negotiators take a break to consult with their respective industry associations and political decision-makers.

    The communiqué said all three countries “reaffirmed their commitment to an accelerated and comprehensive negotiation, with the shared goal of concluding the process towards the end of this year.”

    However speaking to reporters in Mexico City, Freeland acknowledged there are disagreements even as she insisted “North American relations are fundamentally solid.”

    “Of course this doesn’t mean we’re going to agree on all points. But our deep friendship will permit us to resolve disagreements which arise at times” she said, as negotiators focus on the “difficult task of modernizing NAFTA.”

    She said all “wholeheartedly share the goal of reaching a mutually beneficial agreement.” She rhymed off data to say the North American Free Trade Agreement has benefited the U.S. to the tune of an extra $127 billion in economic activity each year since it was signed.

    And in contrast to U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat to ditch the talks and kick-start the legislative process to kill NAFTA, Trump’s chief trade envoy Lighthizer agreed there was “mutual agreement on many important issues.”

    But Lighthizer also stressed a new NAFTA that benefits U.S. workers and industry is a “very important priority” for Trump.

    “That’s why American delegation focused on expanding opportunities for American agriculture services and innovative industry, but …we also must address the needs of those harmed by the current NAFTA, especially our manufacturing workers.”

    “We must have a trade agreement that benefits all Americans and not just some at the expense of others,” Lighthizer said. “I am hopeful that we can arrive at an agreement that helps Americans workers, farmers and ranchers while also raising the living standards of workers in Mexico and Canada.”

    Guajardo struck a conciliatory note after last week, saying Mexico had to work on a “plan B” and anticipate a failure of the talks. He said Tuesday that Mexico was committed to a process that accommodates “each country’s interests.”

    “In the process, I recognize we have responsibility to translate our negotiations into a final result that will imply more jobs in North America, jobs that are well-paid jobs, and to strengthen basic principles in this continent,” he said.

    It was a diplomatic dance that belied many of the difficulties behind the scenes. Sticking points include the U.S. insistence on gaining greater access to Canada’s dairy and poultry sectors, its demand to end independent dispute resolution processes, and its demand that “Buy American” provisions — whether for auto parts or for government procurement projects — be protected.

    Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association, said in an interview that one of the difficulties is that although the U.S. insists it wants to increase American content in the automotive sector by drafting tougher “rules of origin” or stiffer tracing of the origin of auto parts, it still has not put any substantive numbers on the table. Right now, vehicles and auto parts are required to have 62.5-per-cent North American content to travel tariff-free across continental borders.

    Volpe suggested the failure of the U.S. trade representative (USTR) office to put a hard number on the table may in fact be a good thing. He said the USTR may be documenting for the Trump White House data that negotiators, senators and congressional leaders, especially those with auto plants in their districts, already know, having recently gone through trade negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership that also dealt with “rules of origin” debates.

    “The fact that we haven’t seen a number and we haven’t seen proposals confirms for me that the USTR is doing the hard work of inventorying where the American assets are, and they’re going to get to the same conclusion that we did: the American assets and interests are all over the map in North America. It’s going to be very difficult to cleave them off.”


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    The father of the man killed when a Radiohead concert stage collapsed five years ago says a ruling Tuesday to stay the resulting charges against two companies and an engineer due to court delays is “beyond belief.”

    Scott Johnson, a 33-year-old British drum technician, died in June 2012 when part of a massive stage structure crashed down just hours before the British band was due to perform at Downsview Park. Three others were injured.

    “It’s hardly justice, I’m afraid,” said Ken Johnson, who works for a scaffolding safety association in the U.K., and has attended some of the previous hearings.

    The stage was “clearly overloaded and you don’t need to be an engineer to see that,” he said in a telephone interview from Germany.

    In 2013, entertainment company Live Nation, contractor Optex Staging and engineer Domenic Cugliari were charged with a total of 13 offences under provincial health and safety laws.

    Those charges were stayed Tuesday when Ontario court Judge Ann Nelson ruled the justice system had failed in allowing the case to take far too long to come to trial.

    The inordinate delays, Nelson ruled, had violated the rights of those charged to a timely hearing.

    “This case was a complex case that required more time than other cases in the system,” Nelson said in her 21-page judgment. “After allowing for all of the exceptional circumstances that were in play, this case still will have taken too long to complete.”

    The Supreme Court of Canada, Nelson noted, had set a presumptive ceiling of 18 months for proceedings in provincial courts, and this case — which would have taken almost five years to complete if it had gone to a second trial — would have lasted three times longer than that limit.

    In the spring, with the case set to wrap up after 40 trial days scattered over 14 months, the presiding judge, Shaun Nakatsuru, declared he had lost jurisdiction given his appointment to a higher court.

    That decision led to a senior justice declaring a mistrial in May, and a new hearing was set to begin Tuesday and wrap in May 2018.

    However, lawyers for Live Nation and Cugliari argued before Nelson last month for a stay in light of the delays. The parties agreed her ruling would also apply to Optex.

    “It is important to emphasize that timely justice is not just important to persons facing charges,” Nelson said in her ruling. “It is also important to our society at large.”

    A stay is a remedy of last resort given that it signals a “failure on the part of the administration of justice,” Nelson said.

    The judge acknowledged her ruling would have a “negative impact” on the victims of the stage collapse, especially on Johnson’s family.

    “No doubt, this decision will be incomprehensible to Mr. Johnson’s family, who can justifiably complain that justice has not been done,” Nelson said.

    While Johnson said he wasn’t surprised by the decision, he said it’s “absolutely staggering” that it came down to a law, which came into effect after the case began.

    “I quite like the idea, that the liberal nation that Canada is, that it wants to be fair across the board, but I don’t see any fairness in this judgment at all and I don’t see how anybody else can to be honest,” he said. “It doesn’t tell us why our son was killed and we’re none the wiser to be honest, as things stand, as to why he’s not here.”

    “I’m not very happy about it, but I’m equally resigned to the fact that there doesn’t seem much we can do about it,” he added.

    Live Nation, which has called what happened a “tragic incident,” was not immediately available when contacted by the Star.

    Crown lawyer, Dave McCaskill, said he was not surprised by the stay decision given the current state of Canadian law. He said it was too early to consider any appeal.

    The collapse, which the prosecution blamed on inadequate safety measures, prompted Radiohead to put off part of its 2012 European tour.


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    OTTAWA—Finance Minister Bill Morneau is standing firm in the face of loud opposition to proposed tax changes for people with private corporations, which he says will “level the playing field” in the Canadian tax system.

    The changes have been blasted by the Conservative opposition in Ottawa as a “small-business tax grab,” while a newly formed coalition of more than 40 groups representing lawyers, doctors, businesses, farmers and others has called on Ottawa to drop the proposed reforms.

    But the government is sticking to its guns, arguing the changes are meant to close tax loopholes available only to people with private corporations. The Liberals say these allow people with corporations to shift income to family members and shield savings inside a business to avoid taxes. They also contend that it’s unfair that people can use corporations to transform income into capital gains, which are taxed at a lower rate than normal earnings.

    Speaking to reporters from Vancouver on Tuesday, where he met with business owners as part of a country-wide consultation on the proposed changes, Morneau said he hasn’t heard anything so far that would make the Liberal government change course on the tax changes.

    “Of course people would rather keep the system the way it is if it’s providing them with personal advantage,” he said.

    “We don’t want to be in a situation where there are two classes of Canadians: one class that can incorporate, another class that can’t; one class that as a result has lower tax rates, the other one that has higher tax rates. That’s not, in our estimation, a sustainable long-term future.”

    Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre, the party’s finance critic, accused the government Tuesday of misleading Canadians in its contention that people with corporations have unfair tax advantages. Poilievre said there are already rules to prevent improper “income sprinkling” to family members and that small-business owners should be allowed to save money within their corporate structures.

    “What Minister Morneau is proposing is not solving a tax-avoidance problem; it’s solving a revenue-shortfall problem,” he said.

    Morneau announced the proposals in July, with a 75-day consultation period that is set to conclude Oct. 2. He said at the time that the government wants to close tax loopholes that — while legal — are being used by a wealthy few who use private corporations to avoid paying their full share “through fancy accounting schemes.”

    The first loophole involves so-called “income sprinkling,” where someone with a private corporation pays part of their income to members of their family — who are ostensibly employees — to avoid paying a larger percentage of income tax.

    Finance officials estimated in July that 50,000 families are avoiding taxes in this way, causing the government to miss out on $250 million per year.

    To address this, the government is proposing a new “reasonableness test” to ensure that income is transferred to family members for legitimate reasons, not just to spread money to pay lower taxes. The test already exists for family members who are 17 or younger. The government wants it extended to all adults, while a stricter version would apply to people between 18 and 24.

    Ottawa also wants to crack down on “passive income” that accrues from investments parked within a private corporation — money that is not to be reinvested in the business but is kept as personal savings that can be shielded from the higher, personal income tax rate and is not subject to the contribution limits of other savings mechanisms, such as RRSPs.

    The final loophole targeted by Morneau involves Canadians with private corporations who transform portions of their income into lower-taxed capital-gains earnings.

    According to the Finance Department, there are almost two million private corporations in Canada, eight times higher than the 240,000 there were in 1972. Morneau said Tuesday that there has been a 300-per-cent increase in the number of incorporated professionals — lawyers, doctors, accountants, architects and others — over the past 15 years.

    Groups arguing against the changes have said it is unfair for the government to change tax rules for private corporations without warning or engagement. Last week, the president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce called the proposed changes a “stealth attack on farmers and family businesses.”

    Corinne Pohlmann, senior vice-president of national affairs at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said Tuesday that many of the 109,000 entrepreneurs who are members of her organization have expressed “anger” at being characterized by the government as “tax cheats.”

    She said it’s not fair to compare salaried employees to business owners with private corporations, who don’t have paid vacations, sick days or company pensions.

    “The reaction we’re getting from small-business owners is the biggest issue we’ve heard in the 11 years that I’ve been in Ottawa,” she said.


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    It was October 2015. She was 16 years old. Attending a local hockey team’s “rookie party” was supposed to be a night out with her friends.

    “I thought I was safe,” the now 18-year-old victim of a Kingston assault wrote in an impact statement. But, she said, she was never allowed to read it in court.

    Last week, after nearly two years, the story of 22-year-old Chance Macdonald — a hockey player and Queen’s student charged with sexual assault, but later reduced to a common assault plea — was reported by media.

    But to his victim, who spoke to the Star and whose identity is protected under a publication ban, the case is something she lives with every day.

    The setting was a “rookie party” in October 2015, for a Gananoque junior hockey team, which took place in the Queen’s student district, the victim confirmed. She attended the party with friends.

    At the house later that night, in a dark room with multiple people present, she says Macdonald made unwanted physical advances towards her and she became trapped under the weight of his body. She can’t be sure exactly what happened in the dark, but she remembers that hands, some belonging to Macdonald, were shoved up her shirt and down her pants. Only when a friend entered the room and turned on the lights did the encounter stop.

    At the urging of a friend, she reported the incident to the police. A month later, Macdonald was charged with two counts of sexual assault and one count of forcible confinement. Those charges were later reduced to one count of common assault, which Macdonald pleaded guilty to in April.

    After the guilty plea, Justice Allan Letourneau postponed the business student’s sentencing for four months. In that time, Macdonald completed a prestigious internship at Deloitte.

    Letourneau’s oral decision on Aug. 25 began with reference to his own past as an athlete.

    “I played extremely high-end hockey and I know the mob mentality that can exist in that atmosphere,” Letourneau said. “I’m sure you disappointed not only a lot of people including your parents, but yourself. Not everyone has the talents that you have, and you have them.”

    Letourneau then pointed out how lucky Macdonald was to plead guilty to common assault, instead of a sexual offense.

    “That would have been extremely unfortunate given how accomplished you were at the time, and your potential,” he said. “If there was a trial and you were convicted of a sexual offence, I have no doubt that would have dramatically changed the course of your life.”

    Taking the stand to testify could have been traumatic for Macdonald’s alleged victim, Letourneau continued, saying that such an experience often resulted in anxiety and breakdowns.

    “I am not here to say that all of that may factor into the statistics that [crown attorney Gerard] Laarhuis talked about, 1000 incidents and how many are reported, and how many are pursued, and how many are actually found guilty,” he said.

    “You spared her all of that, that is significant.”

    The victim, though, said she didn’t really understand what was happening when the charges were reduced.

    “All I knew was I was 16 at the time and terrified to go to court,” she wrote in a Facebook message to the Star. The Crown and the defense came to the agreement together, she confirmed, but “it wasn’t really discussed with me, or if it was it wasn’t spoken to me in a language a 16-year-old girl would understand.”

    “I had no idea until I was in the courtroom in April that he wasn’t getting [sentenced for] sexual assault and only assault.”

    As for her victim statement, she alleged that Letourneau didn’t agree with her use of the phrase ‘hockey culture,” and therefore wouldn’t allow her to read her original draft in the courtroom.

    She wasn’t aware of the sentencing on Aug. 25 until the day before, she says, by which time she was out of town.

    She provided a copy of her final victim impact statement to the Star, which includes harrowing details about pressure from some of Macdonald’s fellow hockey players to drop the charges and leave the case alone.

    “At first that is exactly what I wanted to do, but it is hard to forget about something that is constantly in the back of your mind,” she wrote. Though the party was for “rookies,” she noted that Macdonald wasn’t one of them.

    “He was a role model and he was setting an example for others,” she wrote. “I worry that what has happened to me will happen to other young girls.”

    Since that night, she wrote that she’s missed countless days of work and classes due to anxiety and depression. All details of the victim’s statement have been published with her express consent.

    “To Mr. McDonald,” the last paragraph begins, “I hope this has taught you a lesson that will carry throughout your life.”

    Letourneau confirmed via a judicial secretary that he doesn’t discuss cases with members of the public and would not be commenting. Meanwhile, an online petition to remove Letourneau from the bench had reached 11,485 signatures by Tuesday morning.

    Macdonald’s lawyer, Connie Baran-Gerez, also didn’t return the Star’s multiple phone calls.

    Queen’s administration issued a statement expressing sympathy for the “emotions that people are expressing about this case,” but also noted that due to privacy, they wouldn’t be speaking about it publicly.

    In a statement, Kingston Police sexual assault unit Sgt. Barbara Hough wrote that “for students hesitant to report a sexual assault, Kingston Police want you to know that we have several sexual assault investigators that are dedicated to providing a safe, respectful and supportive environment.”

    Deloitte Canada issued a statement after the sentencing, saying that they were unaware of the situation before it was reported by media last week and that Macdonald was no longer employed with their company.

    Macdonald will serve his 88-day sentence on weekends.

    He will be on probation for two years, including conditions to attend and participate in assessment, counselling, and rehabilitative programs as directed by his probation officer.

    Meanwhile, the victim said, not a day goes by when she isn’t affected by what happened that night in early October.

    “I often have flashbacks and relive memories of what happened, wishing I could change my mind about going out that night with my friends,” she wrote. “Maybe if I did then none of this would have happened.”


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    The chair of the city's parks committee wants to see Torontonians buying and drinking beer in our green spaces.

    Mary-Margaret McMahon learned about Philadelphia's popular Parks on Tap program at a recent conference in Minneapolis. She has put forward a motion on Friday’s parks committee agenda asking city staff to study how the idea would work in Toronto.

    “I think it's an exciting opportunity,” she told Metro. “People are drinking in parks anyway.”

    Philadelphia's program brings a craft beer truck to a different park each week throughout the summer. The truck effectively turns part of the park into a beer garden. Proceeds go to support local park initiatives. The program saw 30,000 patrons turn out to 14 Philadelphia parks for its inaugural year in 2016. It was expanded for 2017, and early indications are that attendance has grown.

    “It's been extremely popular,” said Elizabeth Moselle, associate director of business development for Fairmount Park Conservancy, which helps run the program.

    Moselle explained that Parks on Tap gives people a reason to explore new parts of the city and to think about creative uses for public spaces.

    While Ontario has strict regulations on the distribution and consumption of alcohol, the city has tried to promote its flourishing craft beer scene in recent years. Council passed a motion in 2015 to look at establishing Toronto as the “craft beer capital of the world.”

    Local beer columnist Robin LeBlanc, co-author of the Ontario Craft Beer Guide, is “cautiously optimistic” about the beer truck proposal and believes it would be a great way to promote local brewers. But based on the city's recent history, she has her concerns, too.

    “We have a reputation for not going through with these amazing ideas,” she said. But LeBlanc is happy the city is at least talking about creative ideas.

    “Even if it loses, that idea is out there.”


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    Rumoured Toronto mayoral candidate Doug Ford does not have the endorsement of CUPE Local 416, the union said Tuesday after photos of him at a Labour Day parade infuriated some organized labour supporters.

    Photos on social media show Ford wearing a black Local 416 T-shirt with members of the union, which represents more than 5,000 City of Toronto outside workers, at the annual celebration of union rights in downtown Toronto on Monday.

    Ford was a city councillor during the 2010-2014 mayoral term of his late brother, Rob Ford. While professing support for union members and disdain for their leadership, the brothers celebrated a contract that exacted concessions from Local 416 members. They also convinced council to privatize collection of trash from 165,000 west-end homes previously serviced by the city workers.

    Doug Ford, who lost to John Tory in the 2014 mayoral election and is expected Friday to announce a rematch in 2018, famously said the duo were intent on “outsourcing everything that’s not nailed down.”

    Tory had vowed to expand private garbage collection east of Yonge St. but, facing a possible loss at city council, retreated last January and said more study of the issue was required.

    Fred Hahn, president of CUPE Ontario, minced no words on his Facebook page Monday that linked to photos of Ford at the parade in a post by website rankandfile.ca.

    “This vile anti-union Fu$%er thinks he can ‘trump’ the Toronto (municipal) election and get working class folks to vote for him – and he is DREAMING – We will NOT let that happen,” Hahn wrote. “CUPE 416 recently saved 500 + jobs from contracting out and this guy – he’s all about killing good jobs.....So hear me now – let’s make it clear – we will work our butts off to make SURE union folks do nothing to support this....this....candidate.”

    Comments from others echoed his anger, questioned who gave Ford the T-shirt and asked what kind of reception Local 416 members gave him.

    Eddie Mariconda, Local 416 president, declined a Star request for an interview Tuesday but released a statement saying politicians want union members’ votes so it’s no surprise they turned up at the “inclusive” event.

    “Anyone can show up at a parade and show support to working people,” he wrote.

    “I want to state as clearly as possible, that Local 416 has not endorsed any candidate at this time. We look forward to next year’s municipal elections, where our members will be working hard to elect candidates who support public services and working people in every ward across the City of Toronto. We are confident that when people cast their votes for Mayor, they will vote for a candidate worthy of working people’s support.”

    Doug Ford did not respond to the Star’s inquiries Tuesday.


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    Ontario Superior Court Justice Cory Gilmore was already suspicious of two experienced York Regional Police officers when they refused to acknowledge that a stain marring a white Banana Republic long-sleeved shirt was blood — in spite of DNA evidence.

    It looked like a coffee stain, Det. David Noseworthy told Gilmore’s court. Det. Alec Tompras, an officer with 11 years on the job, testified that he did not know what blood stains looked like.

    But it was a bizarre interview filmed at the police station — in which the accused in a 2012 robbery can only be seen from behind on video, while the police interviewer is in full view — that ultimately prompted a rare and sternly worded ruling from Gilmore to stay charges against a man who admitted he’d participated in a Markham cellphone store holdup.

    The police misconduct in the case, she ruled, was too serious to proceed on the charges, as it violated the charter rights of the accused.

    Gilmore found there was “no other conclusion” than that Gil Kim, facing charges including robbery with a weapon or imitation weapon, was assaulted by Tompras and Noseworthy at a York police station after his arrest on Aug. 2, 2012. The officers then attempted to “cover it up,” she found.

    “I find that both detectives … used physical intimidation to attempt to extract a confession from him. When they were unsuccessful, they had to hide the evidence of their actions by washing the blood out of his shirt and placing him away from the video camera for his interview,” Gilmore wrote in her Aug. 24 ruling.

    The ruling prompted York’s police chief to order an independent investigation by Peel Regional Police.

    “Chief Eric Jolliffe was not previously aware of this incident; however, once learning of it, he immediately initiated a chief’s complaint under part 5 of the Police Services Act,” York police spokesperson Const. Andy Pattenden said in an email Tuesday. “Judge Gilmore’s decision has been forwarded to Peel Regional Police to aid them in their investigation.”

    Reached by email Tuesday, Noseworthy declined to comment, saying it was not an appropriate time. Tompras did not respond to a request for comment from the Star.

    Kim’s lawyer, David Bayliss, said one of the most shocking parts of the case was that it was fairly “run of the mill” — a crime he called a low-level robbery involving a man with no prior criminal record, where no one was physically harmed.

    The decision stems from a robbery of a Rogers Plus phone store on May 30, 2012, in which $7,000 in cash and phones worth $80,000 were stolen. Aside from Kim, three others were charged in connection with the case. Armin Zandi and Anthony Jouith have entered guilty pleas, and the charges against the third person, a store employee, were stayed.

    According to Gilmore’s ruling, Kim was “candid” in his admission that he’d participated in the robbery. He appears in surveillance video, his face disguised as he holds something in the shape of a handgun while store employees load a duffel bag with phones and cash from the company’s safe. Kim then left the store in a Pontiac Sunfire driven by one of his co-accused and owned by another.

    Just over two months later, York police arrested Kim in Toronto while he was driving his father’s car. He was taken into custody and brought to a York police station on Markham Rd., where he was booked, searched and placed in a cell.

    While Kim contended he was roughed up from the start — he claimed that during his arrest, one cop whispered in his ear, “Wait until we get to the station” — Kim stated that the real abuse began when he was taken into an interview room at the detachment.

    During testimony at his hearing for a stay of his charges, Kim claimed Noseworthy told him that his co-accused in the robbery had already given him up and that he should confess on camera. Noseworthy threatened Kim that if didn’t confess, he would be beaten, Kim said.

    When he maintained his right to silence, Kim testified that Noseworthy then put on a set of leather gloves and punched him on the side of the face with a closed fist. The officer went on to strike him in the head and torso, grab him by the throat, bang his head against the wall and kick him in the shin, Kim testified, adding that Tompras told him “this is what happens to people who rob businesses in broad daylight.”

    Kim then told the court that his nose began to bleed, prompting Noseworthy to tell him to take off his shoes, his white shirt and tank top. He said Noseworthy then struck him in the head with one of his shoes and left the room with the shirt.

    “I couldn’t believe this was happening,” Kim testified, according to Gilmore’s ruling. “I thought this stuff only happened in movies.”

    Soon after, the officer returned with a warm, damp shirt, the blood stains mostly gone, Kim said.

    Kim was then taken to a different interview room and questioned on video by Tompras. In the video, Kim maintains his right to silence but is barely visible — only the back of his head and part of the right side of his face can be seen. Tompras is in full view.

    Kim testified that he did not know where the camera was at the time, but recalled that Tompras directed him to sit in a chair that he later learned faced away from the camera.

    Kim testified that he was held overnight, and the following day, after being granted bail, he went to hospital at the insistence of his mother, father and sister. All three testified that they were concerned about his injuries, which included a swollen face, bruising and a bump on his head.

    On the stand, Noseworthy denied all allegations about assaulting Kim, or having any contact with him whatsoever other than when he delivered food to him that evening.

    Tompras also denied assaulting Kim. Both officers denied ordering Kim to remove some of his clothing or washing any blood out of the shirt.

    Gilmore criticized the testimony of both officers on the stand, saying they were “dismissive of any possibility of wrongdoing.” The judge took issue with many aspects of their conduct but put most emphasis on the interview video in which Kim is in the “wrong seat,” facing away from the camera — a fact that “simply cannot be explained away.”

    “The only inference that can be drawn is that this was done to ensure that the blood on Mr. Kim’s shirt or facial swelling could not be seen on camera,” Gilmore wrote.

    When asked about it on the stand, Noseworthy called it “a silly error” that should not have happened. Tompras said that “ideally” the accused should be in full view of the camera but that there was no clear policy on that, a statement he later admitted was inaccurate.

    As an experienced officer, Tompras had to have known that the purpose of a videotaped interview was to allow the accused to be seen on camera, Gilmore wrote.

    “For him to suggest that this was effectively a matter of officer discretion is bordering on ludicrous,” she wrote, adding that the “cavalier” manner with which the officers treated the “grave” video error was “disquieting to say the least.”

    The judge also questioned how the officers could maintain that stains on Kim’s shirt — which he’d preserved in a plastic bag, then sent for DNA testing — were not blood. Both officers were aware of the DNA test results stating it was blood.

    “(Tompras) went so far as to say that he did not know what blood stains looked like. This evidence from a police officer with 11 years experience is incongruous at best,” Gilmore wrote.

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


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    The TTC is moving ahead with a $500,000 study of air quality in the subway system, after a highly-publicized Health Canada report released earlier this year found high concentrations of pollutants in the agency’s underground lines.

    A report that went before the agency’s board on Tuesday revealed details of the study, which was originally approved in May and will mark the first time the TTC has tested its subway air since 1995.

    Councillor Joe Mihevc, who sits on the board and put forward the original motion to proceed with the research, said the study was necessary even though he doesn’t believe underground pollution poses an immediate health threat.

    “I think that you want to improve the quality in air systems wherever they are, and of course the TTC, there are hundreds of thousands of people who use it every day, so you want to make sure that that subway is functioning well, from an air quality point of view,” he said.

    According to the board report, third-party consultants have been tapped to conduct the study over a one-year period. The researchers will measure pollution levels in the subway system air as well as monitor the exposure of the transit workers who spend the most time underground. Subway operators, train guards, track patrollers, janitors, transit enforcement officers, and fare collectors are among the positions that have been singled out for monitoring.

    Toronto Public Health will carry out a separate assessment to determine the health risks posed to members of the public.

    The consultant work is expected to cost $400,000, while the TPH assessment is estimated at $100,000. The TTC will foot the bill for both.

    The TTC board first approved the study weeks after the publication of a Health Canada report in April that determined concentrations of a fine particulate matter called PM2.5 were 10 times greater on the subway system than outdoors. Researchers linked the substance to the metallic “rail dust” that is generated when a train’s wheels rub against the tracks.

    That study didn’t draw any conclusions about the health impacts of PM2.5 but it received widespread attention, particularly after one ofthe researchers involved stated publicly that the levels of particulate matter in the TTC were comparable to an average day in smog-choked Beijing.

    The media coverage of those comments “caused harm to the TTC’s reputation and unnecessary alarm for some TTC employees,” according to the board report.

    TTC CEO Andy Byford told reporters Tuesday he believed the language used to describe the Health Canada study had distorted the issue. “I’ve been to Beijing. I know which air I would rather breathe,” he said.

    The CEO conceded the TTC should conduct air quality studies more frequently than every 22 years, but he said he was confident the new data would show that “not only is the air safe, but air quality has actually improved.”

    In recent years the TTC has introduced newer, cleaner subway trains and made a concerted effort to remove debris and dust from tunnels, according to Byford. It has also ordered a state-of-the-art vacuum train equipped with a HEPA filter.

    Under some conditions, high concentrations of particulates like PM2.5 have been associated with health problems, including cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, cancer, and even death. Children, older adults, and people with pre-existing health conditions are particularly susceptible.

    Health Canada has said indoor concentrations of PM2.5 should be kept as low as possible, but the agency hasn’t set exposure limits for people riding public transit. The Ministry of Labour also hasn’t published occupational exposure limits for workers. The TTC said it will measure the substance for “future reference to occupational standards when and if they are developed.”

    The study will also evaluate asbestos, crystalline respirable silica, diesel exhaust, and 30 different metals.

    Some critics have rejected the study even before its results are in. Three unions representing TTC workers have banded together to hire consultants to perform their own subway air quality study.

    Kevin Morton, secretary-treasurer of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113, accused the TTC study of using pollution standards that were too lenient.

    “I don’t believe that (subway air is) safe for the worker who works there eight to 10 hours a day,” said Morton, whose union is the TTC’s largest. “I think it has long-term, detrimental effects on a worker’s health.”

    Four TTC employees refused to work following the publication of the Health Canada study. Morton said his union is advocating for workers to be allowed to wear protective masks.

    The unions have budgeted $50,000 for their study.


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    A Toronto-area police officer pleaded guilty to assault after siccing his K-9 unit dog on a man who was lying down awaiting arrest.

    York Region police Const. Michael Partridge admitted to his role in the assault that occurred on March 30, 2016 and left a man with minor injuries. Partridge was originally charged with assault and assault with a weapon — the weapon being the dog, but he pleaded guilty to one count of assault on Wednesday, the day his trial was scheduled to begin.

    The Crown attorney in the case called the officer’s actions an “excessive use of force.”

    York police had been investigating break-and-enters in the region and had identified three men who had allegedly committed the crimes, according to an agreed statement of facts read in court. Various officers began surveilling the men that day and watched them allegedly break into one home in Brampton, Ont.

    The officers followed the men to a condominium near the Gladstone Hotel where they were met by several Toronto police officers. Around 3:30 p.m., one of the suspects was arrested after he walked out of the condominium and a subsequent search revealed a baggy with loose ammunition.

    Partridge was on scene with his police dog, Lex, to support the arrests, court heard. Officers then received information that another suspect had entered the condominium with another man, both of whom bolted when officers tried to arrest them.

    Three officers quickly caught one of the suspects, but the other had gotten away. Several officers then began searching for him when bystanders on a rooftop pointed in the direction of a running man.

    The suspect — Median Jackson — sprinted into an alley, and lay down, winded, near a set of stairs, which was captured on surveillance video from the Gladstone Hotel. That video was filed in court as an exhibit.

    In the video, York Region police Const. Matt McLean arrives and orders Jackson face down until help arrives. Court heard that the officer didn’t have his handcuffs because he had used them on one of the other suspects.

    “Jackson was compliant, lying face down underneath the stairs,” Crown attorney Peter Scrutton told court.

    Partridge did not know the suspect was on the ground obeying the officer’s orders when he yelled out “Police, K9, you’re under arrest, come out,” court heard.

    Almost immediately, Partridge released the dog before he knew Jackson’s whereabouts.

    The dog bounded into view on the video and bit down on Jackson’s arm and began thrashing its head back and forth. Partridge then began kicking and punching Jackson who had recoiled underneath the stairs.

    “While these strikes did not cause any injury, they appeared to have served to incite the dog, which continued to grip and bite Mr. Jackson’s arm,” Scrutton told court.

    Jackson suffered minor injuries from the incident. He was initially charged with break and enter and breach of probation, but those charges were later dropped due to Partridge’s actions, said Jackson’s lawyer, Morrie Luft.

    “Having heard the facts, in my view this would be an error of judgment, perhaps through inadequate training, rather than being premeditated or a loss of temper,” said Justice Harvey Brownstone.

    Partridge said little during the proceedings, and his lawyer declined comment. The officer is scheduled for sentencing on Sept. 27. He also faces three Police Services Act charges, including two for discreditable conduct and one for unnecessary exercise of authority.


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    OTTAWA—The Bank of Canada has raised its interest rate for the second time in less than two months in an effort to adjust to the unexpected force of the country’s economic momentum.

    Wednesday’s overnight lending rate hike to one per cent marks its second quarter-point increase since July, and comes less than a week after the latest data for economic growth showed an impressive expansion of 4.5 per cent for Canada in the second quarter.

    That April-to-June performance followed surprisingly healthy growth in the first three months of 2017 and easily exceeded the Bank of Canada’s projections.

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    “Recent economic data have been stronger than expected, supporting the bank’s view that growth in Canada is becoming more broadly-based and self-sustaining,” the bank said in a statement that accompanied the announcement.

    The bank said solid employment and wage growth have led to strong consumer spending, while the key areas of business investment and exports have also showed improvements.

    The loonie soared on the news, jumping more than a cent to over 82 cents US, up from Tuesday’s average price of 80.83 cents US. The dollar is now up about three per cent over the past month and up 14 per cent from its low of roughly 73 cents in April.

    The rate increase also caught many experts by surprise.

    Analysts had widely anticipated the bank would hold off Wednesday and only hike a second time at its policy meeting in late October.

    Some expected it to wait because an early move could drive up the dollar and put exports at risk. Another argument hinged on the fact the bank hadn’t clearly telegraphed the increase to markets, as it had before the July increase.

    In the weeks before the July hike, officials, including governor Stephen Poloz, used public statements to signal a rate move was on the way.

    This time, the decision was preceded by weeks of silence.

    TD senior economist Brian DePratto said the bank appears to be sticking to its previous statements that it would be guided by data.

    “So, if we do get things coming in extremely hot, they may react to that without necessarily needing to be super explicit in their communications strategy,” DePratto said.

    “I think that’s a shift and I think that’s something that analysts are going to have to adapt to.”

    In the years that followed the 2008 financial crisis, experts have grown accustomed to central bankers providing a bit of warning — or so-called forward guidance — ahead of rate decisions, said Manulife senior economist Frances Donald.

    But she noted it hasn’t always been this way.

    “Today, for me, was a signal that governor Poloz is more a fan of old-school central banking,” Donald said.

    Looking ahead, the bank’s statement only offered a few clues about future decisions.

    It insisted they would not be “predetermined” and will be guided by economic data releases and financial market developments.

    The bank pledged to pay particular attention to the economy’s potential, job-market conditions and any risks for Canadians from the higher costs of borrowing.

    “Given elevated household indebtedness, close attention will be paid to the sensitivity of the economy to higher interest rates,” the statement said.

    In making what many described as a “hawkish” move, the bank made a point of also highlighting potential negatives in the brief, 400-word statement.

    The bank underlined concerns around geopolitical risks and uncertainties related to international trade and fiscal policies. It also predicted the rapid pace of economic growth to moderate in the second half of the year.

    DePratto said the bank’s downside warnings and its assertion that future rate decisions aren’t already mapped out were attempts to dial down the market impacts of Wednesday’s move.

    The question now is: where does Poloz go from here?

    Economists highlighted a line in Wednesday’s statement that said the increase removed some of the “considerable” monetary policy stimulus already in place.

    “Certainly, I think today’s statement puts a little more weight on the argument that you could see another increase sooner rather than later — and certainly sooner than us and, I think, markets were expecting as recently as two weeks ago,” DePratto said.

    But in trying to predict the future, there’s a range of factors to consider, CIBC’s Andrew Grantham said in a research note to clients.

    “If the economy cools down from its current blistering pace as we expect in (the third quarter), the Bank of Canada will have reason to take a slower approach in rate hikes,” he wrote.

    Before making another move, Grantham expects Poloz to wait and see whether the U.S. Federal Reserve hikes its interest rate in December. That meeting, he added, will come a week after the Bank of Canada’s December rate announcement.

    In its statement, the bank also said headline and core inflation have seen slight increases since July, largely as expected. It noted, however, that upward pressure on wages and prices remained more subdued than historical trends would suggest, a phenomenon that has also been seen in other advanced economies.


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    As the new academic year gets underway, students, teachers and parents are gearing up to deal with one of the education system’s more controversial elements: split-level classes.

    Some parents worry that integrating students from several grades, typically to offset shrinking enrolment or mitigate a surge in a particular year, leaves younger pupils behind or fails to adequately challenge more advanced ones.

    But educators and experts say split classes can be beneficial — and the outcome often depends on the teacher.

    “When (my daughters) were first put in split classes, I wasn’t too happy about it,” says Christine Armstong, a mother from Innisfill, Ont.

    One of her twin girls, Jessica, was in Grade 1 when she was placed in a split class with children from senior kindergarten, prompting Armstrong to fear the class would repeat the play-based learning her daughter had already experienced, she said.

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    Armstrong said she worried Jessica wouldn’t progress at the same rate as Grade 1 students in single-grade classes, but now realizes she was wrong.

    “The teacher was so good,” Armstrong said. “She was very organized, and she was able to separate the two different grades and the different needs for each grade. It was amazing.”

    This year, her other twin daughter Vanessa is enrolled in a Grade 5/6 split class and Armstrong said she wonders whether the experience will be different for a student on the younger side of the class.

    “If (the teacher) is used to Grade 6 and she’s focused on the Grade 6s, will she be too hard on the Grade 5s?” Armstrong says. “I’m not concerned, but I’m curious.”

    Students can thrive in split classes if teachers are adequately prepared, said Clare Brett, a professor at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto.

    “Like most things in schools, a lot depends on the teacher,” said Brett, adding split classes require considerably more work from a profession already under strain in Ontario.

    Brett’s own children were in a split Grade 1/2/3 class about 15 years ago, which allowed her to observe how lessons unfolded, she said.

    The work was usually divided up so the teacher would work with the Grade 3 students on math while Grade 2 students read independently and Grade 1 kids went to gym, she said. They would sometimes have class discussions all together, which she said fostered a sense of responsibility in the older students.

    “It’s not like the one-room schoolhouse, which is what I think people think of it as,” Brett said. “Done well, it’s learning experience for everybody.”

    Richard Messina, principal of Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study Laboratory School at OISE, said he understands why parents are wary of split classes and acknowledges they aren’t a good fit for every child.

    But he said many of the issues parents are concerned about — a gap in knowledge or in stimulation — exist in single-cohort classes as well. The difference typically isn’t that much more pronounced in split classes, he said.

    “In every classroom, there is a developmental range in knowledge, in skill development, social-emotional development,” he said. “In some areas of the curriculum, the change from one grade to the other is small.”

    It’s in classes where subject matter changes considerably from one year to the next, such as science and social studies, that “the creativity of the teacher needs to come in,” he said.

    In the end, there’s no catch-all solution for what makes an effective classroom, he said.

    “It’s not like working at The Gap, where every sweater is folded to look exactly the same,” he says. “We’re working with human beings.”


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    BRIDGEWATER, N.S.—Six young Nova Scotia men who admitted to exchanging intimate images of at least 20 girls without their consent treated the victims as “objects for the accused’s own sexual gratification,” a Nova Scotia judge said Wednesday in handing down conditional discharges.

    But Judge Paul Scovil also recognized that the young men have shown remorse for their part in the creation two Dropbox accounts for the purpose of sharing dozens of intimate images of girls naked or in various states of undress.

    “The victims were in a vulnerable position that these accused took advantage of,” said Scovil as the six young men watched on from the gallery amongst loved ones.

    “These young men have come forward and admitted responsibility. Each one of them has said how they understand how they hurt the victims, and I am encouraged by that.”

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    The conditional discharges mean the six young men will follow court-imposed conditions for nine months — which include completing community service and counselling — and that their youth court records will be erased three years from the date they pleaded guilty.

    Scovil acknowledged that some of the conditions of his decision may have already been met.

    Court heard that the six young men have participated in a restorative justice process since being charged in July 2016.

    All six chose to address the court Wednesday, each expressing their remorse.

    “It’s probably the biggest mistake I will make in my life,” one of the young men told Scovil.

    At the time they were charged, four of the accused were 15 years old and the other two were 18. However, all were under 18 when the offences were committed, which means their identities are protected from publication under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. The victims’ identities are also protected.

    The case is one of Canada’s largest involving a relatively untested law introduced in 2015 to combat the non-consensual sharing of intimate images.

    The law came after the suicide of Nova Scotia teen Rehtaeh Parsons, whose family says a photo of her allegedly being sexually assaulted was circulated among students at her school in Cole Harbour.

    Senior Crown attorney Peter Dostal said the decision acknowledges the seriousness of the offence.

    “These young persons were not in any way bad kids,” said Dostal outside of court. “What we hope that can be taken out of this is that despite all of their good character, they made some profoundly poor choices.”

    No victim impact statements were submitted with the court.

    Scovil also took defence lawyers to task for arguing in a joint-submission that the girls should have known photos shared through Snapchat could have been saved.

    He said that wrongfully blamed the victims.

    “Such thinking and such comments hearken back to a time of sexual stereotyping that anyone who has been offended against sexually must have put themselves in that position... It’s discouraging that (society) would still look to women and blame them for what took place,” said Scovil.

    But defence lawyer Stan MacDonald said that was not the intent of their arguments. He said what they did was present an “alternative view.”

    “At no point in time did we make any attempt whatsoever to blame any victims,” said MacDonald, one of six lawyers who argued for an absolute discharge. “I take issue with the comments that the judge made.”

    The boys, who are all from the Bridgewater area, admitted to forming a private Facebook group to exchange photos of the girls, who ranged in age from 13 to 17.

    In the agreed statement, the photos’ subjects cited a variety of motivations for sending the images.

    Some said they felt pressured by what they described as persistent requests for intimate images, while others said they were vying for boys’ affections or just joking around, the statement said.

    The document said one 13-year-old girl was repeatedly asked for sexual photos by one of the accused over the course of several days, despite persistent rejection.

    Another girl who was 14 at the time said the boy would talk about how they could trust each other, then asked her for naked photos.


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    KELOWNA, B.C.—Justin Trudeau kicked off a Liberal caucus retreat Wednesday insisting his government won’t back down on a plan to end tax provisions that it maintains give some wealthy small business owners an unfair advantage.

    The prime minister’s opening message to caucus pre-empted Liberal backbenchers who’ve come to the retreat poised to press for changes to the tax plan after being inundated with complaints over the summer.

    “I want to be clear,” Trudeau told the assembled MPs.

    “People who make $50,000 a year should not pay higher taxes than people who make $250,000 a year.”

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    While he signalled a willingness to adjust the proposed tax changes, Trudeau was adamant that they won’t simply be abandoned in the face of a mounting backlash from doctors, lawyers, tax professionals, shopkeepers and others who’ve incorporated their small businesses in order to reduce their income tax bill.

    “We are always open to better ways to fix that problem but we are going to fix that problem,” he said.

    The backlash has been growing since mid-July, when Finance Minister Bill Morneau released a controversial, three-pronged plan to end tax provisions used by a growing number of small businesses, creating what he called an “unfair playing field.”

    One change would restrict the ability of incorporated business owners to lower their tax rate by sprinkling income to family members in lower tax brackets, even if those family members do no work for the business. Another would limit the use of private corporations to make passive investments in things like stocks or real estate.

    The third change would limit the ability to convert a corporation’s regular income into capital gains that are typically taxed at a lower rate.

    Morneau insists the plan will affect only those who earn $150,000 or more and who still have money to shelter from tax after maxing out their RRSPs and tax-free savings accounts.

    Despite the firestorm around the proposed tax changes, the Liberal government is riding high in the polls and the economy is rebounding. Backbenchers report their constituents are relatively satisfied with the government’s performance as it approaches the midpoint of its four-year mandate.

    But Trudeau urged Liberal MPs not to spend time patting themselves on the back over the government’s accomplishments so far, warning that there’s plenty of heavy lifting ahead.

    “As we come up on the halfway mark of our mandate, I think it’s fair to take a moment to look back and consider all that we’ve been able to achieve so far,” he told the caucus.

    After a brief pause, he added: “So, there, that was your moment ... What we need to do now and every day is focus on the hard work that lies ahead.”


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    NEW YORK—Fifteen states and the District of Columbia sued the U.S. government Wednesday to block President Donald Trump’s plan to end protection against deportation for young immigrants who New York’s attorney general labelled the “best of America.”

    The lawsuit filed in federal court in Brooklyn asked a judge to strike down as unconstitutional the president’s action involving the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.

    It called the move “a culmination of President Trump’s oft-stated commitments ... to punish and disparage people with Mexican roots.”

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    The attorneys general who brought the lawsuit — all Democrats — represent states where the population of DACA participants — known as “dreamers” — ranges from hundreds to tens of thousands. They were brought to the U.S. illegally as children or came with families who overstayed visas.

    Trump’s plan is “cruel, short-sighted, inhumane” and driven by a personal bias against Mexicans and Latinos, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said.

    He said the 42,000 New Yorkers with protected status under the program are largely model citizens.

    “They are the best of America,” Schneiderman said.

    “Dreamers play by the rules. Dreamers work hard. Dreamers pay taxes. For most of them, America is the only home they’ve ever known. And they deserve to stay here,” he added, using the term that came from a failed piece of legislation called the DREAM Act.

    Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum called the government’s action “indefensible” and said Trump was “playing chicken” by giving Congress six months to improve DACA or cancel it.

    Devin M. O’Malley, a Justice Department spokesman, said the agency looks forward to defending the administration’s position.

    Under former President Barack Obama, Justice Department lawyers concluded in 2014 that DACA is lawful.

    The lawsuit filed Wednesday says rescinding DACA will injure state-run colleges and universities, upset workplaces and damage companies and economies that include immigrants covered under the program.

    The lawsuit noted that Harvard University has over 50 DACA students while Tufts University has more than 25. Both schools are in Massachusetts.

    “The consequence of the president’s animus-driven decision is that approximately 800,000 persons who have availed themselves of the program will ultimately lose its protections” and be exposed to deportation, the lawsuit says.

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Tuesday the program will end in six months so Congress can have time to find a legislative solution for people in the program.

    Plaintiffs in the lawsuit are New York, Massachusetts, Washington, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.

    California, one of the most solid Democratic states, was noticeably absent.

    California Attorney General Xavier Becerra plans to file a separate lawsuit because a quarter of DACA recipients are California residents, his spokeswoman Bethany Lesser said.

    Under Trump’s plan, people already enrolled in DACA remain covered until their permits expire. If that happens before March 5, they are eligible to renew them for another two years as long as they apply by Oct. 5. But the program isn’t accepting new applications.

    Opponents of the program said they are pleased with the Trump administration’s decision. They called DACA an unconstitutional abuse of executive power.

    Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson, both Democrats, called Trump’s action cruel and outrageous, given that the decision was announced by Sessions rather than the president himself.

    A half-dozen beneficiaries of DACA — young adults from Mexico, Venezuela, Peru and elsewhere, including some now working at law firms or for the state Legislature — flanked Inslee and Ferguson at a news conference in Seattle announcing the lawsuit.

    “It’s outrageous, it’s not right,” an emotional Ferguson said. “As attorney general for the state of Washington, I have a hammer, it’s the law.”

    Inslee said, “This is one more of a long train of abuses that this president has attempted to foist on this great nation.”

    Earlier this year, Ferguson sued Trump over his travel ban, prompting a federal judge to block nationwide enforcement.


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    WASHINGTON—U.S. President Donald Trump delivered a resounding victory to Democrats Wednesday, agreeing on a plan that would raise the debt ceiling and keep the government funded through Dec. 15.

    Republicans leaders were stunned, and would not immediately agree on the package.

    Democrats, who have been virtually powerless since Trump became president and Republicans maintained control of Congress this year, found a surprising new ally during a White House meeting with leaders of both parties.

    “We essentially came to a deal, and I think the deal will be very good,” Trump told reporters on Air Force One as he headed to North Dakota to promote tax reform. “We had a very, very cordial and professional meeting.”

    But Republican congressional leaders — and Trump’s own Treasury secretary — raised opposition to a short-term plan, arguing that three months on the debt ceiling is insufficient.

    “The folks in the room were not on the same page with every other Republican,” the source said.

    Republicans believe a three-month debt limit lift won’t give the financial markets certainty and would give Democrats more opportunities to play politics.

    The source described Trump’s remarks as akin to asking Congress to “all get along.”

    Congress must pass a budget by Sept. 30 or the government will run out of money. The debt limit needs to be increased this month. Republican Senate leaders had considered combining the debt limit with emergency aid to help the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, but were vague about the length of the debt limit extension.

    Democrats, though, pushed for a three-month extension for both the debt limit and the budget. They felt that would give them time to build constituencies for pet projects, notably immigration and spending.

    Trump on Tuesday said he would end the program for so-called Dreamers, the 800,000 young people whose parents entered the country illegally, and gave Congress six months to act. Democrats are solidly behind the Dreamers, but need Republicans.

    Read more: ‘They know where we live’: Young ‘DREAMers’ react with fear and sadness after Trump ends protection

    The agreement Wednesday gives them a crucial three months to build support for the young immigrants.

    It also allows the party time to make its case to avoid the sort of domestic spending cuts Republicans are eager to implement.

    “As Democratic leaders, we also made it clear that we strongly believe the DREAM Act must come to the floor and pass as soon as possible and we will not rest until we get this done,” said a joint statement from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.


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    MONTREAL—Did Stephen Harper’s approach to Quebec accelerate the decline of the sovereignty movement, or was the former prime minister just the accidental beneficiary of a collective desire on the part of Quebecers to move on from the deadlock over the province’s political future?

    In a text published in the magazine L’actualité on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the Parti Québécois’ short-lived 2012 victory, former Harper adviser Carl Vallée argues the Conservatives deserve significant credit for having contributed with their policies to bring the Quebec conversation in line with that of the rest of Canada.

    There is no doubt that the Harper decade was not a good one for the sovereignty cause.

    By the time the Conservatives lost power in 2015, support for Québec leaving the federation had fallen to its lowest level since the early 1980s.

    The Bloc Québécois was a spent parliamentary force, having failed in two consecutive elections to win the 12 seats required to qualify for official party status in the House of Commons.

    The Parti Québécois was back in opposition in the national assembly after premier Pauline Marois’ bid to trade a minority mandate for a governing majority after 18 months in power backfired. The party has yet to recover from that defeat.

    This weekend, its rank and file will hold a vote of confidence in its latest leader. The upcoming first year anniversary of Jean-François Lisée’s leadership victory next month will be no cause for celebrations. With a year to go to the next Quebec election, the PQ is in third place in voting intentions, well behind the ruling Liberals and the second-place Coalition Avenir Québec

    According to Vallée, Harper contributed actively to this steady deterioration of sovereigntist prospects by practicing a less invasive form of federalism than his Liberal predecessors and by systematically refusing to engage in rhetorical debates with his sovereigntist foes.

    After the PQ formed a minority government in 2012, Vallée says Harper was urged by the civil service to become more proactive in showcasing Canada and the federal government in Quebec. But the then-prime minister was wary of strategies that he found reminiscent of the failed Liberal sponsorship program. Instead he opted to decline to take whatever bait premier Marois threw his way.

    In doing all of the above, Vallée argues, Harper had a major hand in shifting the Quebec conversation from federalism-versus-sovereignty to a left-versus-right axis more aligned with that of the rest of the country.

    It is possible to agree that Harper’s net impact on the standing of federalism in Quebec was positive and to also find that it was not as much the product of a deliberate strategy as a case of unintended consequences.

    Harper’s hands-off approach to the federation’s social union for instance had as much to do with the former prime minister’s ideological distaste for government activism on the social policy front as with a Quebec strategy.

    For the record, it was Liberal prime minister Paul Martin — not his Conservative successor — who updated the template for asymmetrical federalism by spelling out Quebec’s right to determine its own health spending priorities in the 2004 Health Accord.

    No recent prime minister was as unpopular in Quebec as Harper. That went a long way to make the virtue of not engaging in battles of words with his sovereigntist counterpart a necessity. These were fights he would have had little chance of winning in Quebec public opinion. Elsewhere in the country, they would have drawn attention to his limited capacity to champion Canada effectively in a referendum

    Harper’s decade in power was a game-changer in Quebec but maybe not in ways he necessarily intended.

    In presenting Quebecers with a version of conservatism that was alien to the majority that make up its progressive mainstream, he provided them with an incentive to reconnect with national parties liable to oust his party from power.

    A critical number of Quebec voters did accept the sovereigntist premise that the values that underpinned Harper’s policies at home and abroad were at odds with theirs. But most of them rejected the conclusion that leaving the federation was their only remedial option.

    From that perspective, Harper was not only an architect of the demise of the Bloc Québécois but also a driving force behind the 2011 orange wave and the 2015 Liberal revival in Quebec.

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


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    If you climbed into a time machine, went back to the ’80s and asked random people to guess why Madonna might be making news in 2017, the top responses would include: “She offended a religious leader,” “she invented a new geometric brassiere,” “she married a foul-mouthed extraterrestrial” or “she founded an orgy cult.”

    Sex and scandal, these were once the bookends of Madonna’s public persona. She aimed to please by offending. Cultural taboos and sacred iconography were her playthings as she slinked around in lingerie, literally crawling suggestively through the early years of MTV and a music revolution she helped lead in which marketing learned to drop-kick artistry.

    For much of her career as a singer, actress and, more recently, an entrepreneur, Madonna has existed as an image, which is to say, not as a real person.

    This has now changed.

    With very little fanfare, Madonna recently moved to Portugal. For a global superstar with roots in New York and London, this is the equivalent of stockbroker moving to the exurbs to start over as a horticulturist.

    As she recently wrote on Instagram: “The energy of Portugal is so inspiring. I feel very creative and alive here. . . This will be the next Chapter in My Book! It’s time to conquer the world from a different vantage point!!”

    This different vantage point has already snapped new filters atop her image.

    On Friday, when the new issue of People hits newsstands, the cover will feature Madonna and four of her adopted children with the headline, “Life With My Kids.”

    The feature, for which Madonna gave an advance shout-out on Wednesday, includes reflections on more than a decade of fighting poverty in Africa through her charity, Raising Malawi.

    “Helping people is like tattoos,” Madonna tells the magazine. “Once you get a tattoo, you keep getting them. It’s addicting. You see the difference you’re making in one person’s life, so what’s the big deal if I help one more person and one more person?”

    At a time when the world keeps getting more and more depressing — catastrophic hurricanes, the threat of nuclear war in the Korean Peninsula, Donald Trump’s endless array of moral atrocities — Madonna’s goofy analogy is somehow uplifting, as is her compulsive philanthropy.

    A year away from 60, Madonna could inhabit a private island and revel in her riches and this would be her prerogative. She’s earned the right to shrug. Instead, she’s trying to improve the lives of others inside one the gloomiest corners of the world.

    Unlike so many in Hollywood, where lip service is a currency, Madonna is putting her time and money into a cause instead of making her cause time and money. And by sublimating her energy this way, Madonna has triggered a personal reinvention that nobody in the ’80s could have possibly predicted: she is becoming downright relatable and, dare I say it, endearing.

    Her Instagram posts this summer — kids riding bikes, dancing, eating, wearing paper crowns, laughing, kicking a ball — are about as far removed from sex and scandal as can be imagined. These new domestic images from her life, circa 2017, have superseded her old image and turned her into a real person.

    The Material Girl has morphed into a Soccer Mom and the universal anxieties of raising children are immune to her celebrity status.

    Madonna is so much like the rest of us right now that she’s even squabbling with couriers over delivery mix-ups. This week, she posted a picture of herself on Twitter, in which she looks less like a global pop star and more like a put-upon consumer who is getting the runaround from customer service.

    She explained her dour expression this way: “When you’ve been arguing with fed-ex all week that you really are Madonna and they still won’t release your package.”

    This is the opposite of identity theft. It’s identity disbelief. What’s next for Madonna on this road to normal-people problems? Will she spend her evenings doing laundry and helping with ridiculously hard Grade 6 homework? Will she invite her new neighbours over for coffee to lament a troubling bylaw? Will she soon be refused a seniors discount at the drugstore because the clerk simply refuses to believe the bespectacled blond with no makeup and a cart full of ointment and meds for joint pain is really Madonna?

    From her new beginning in Portugal to her upcoming cover story in People to her existential crisis with FedEx, Madonna has undone the image she carefully crafted all those years ago.

    She’s now someone else — still rich and famous, but someone more like us.

    And if you were to pilot that time machine decades into the future, you will find that 2017 Madonna — generous, caring and yearning for new triumphs in the confusing embrace of middle age and motherhood — is the Madonna that is most fondly remembered.

    vmenon@thestar.ca


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    On Wednesday morning, a pair of brothers who call the Toronto Police service a “family business” woke up bright and early, and pulled fluorescent outerwear over their uniforms.

    By 7 a.m. Const. Mike Ghazarian and Const. Anto Ghazarian were flanking either side of a construction zone at Dan Leckie Way and Queen’s Quay. Each cyclist on the designated bike path was asked to dismount and walk for 60 metres.

    It’s the first week of school for students of the elementary and high schools behind them, and the small construction zone made the pathway smaller. That threatened the safety of students on the last leg of their walk to class.

    “There’s multiple people that live in this community that walk their grandkids and their kids to school just west of us,” Anto said cheerfully, still standing outside regulating cyclists at 10:30.

    The red-brick building behind him — embellished with vibrant panels on both the front and the sides — is home to not only City School and the Waterfront School, but the Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre.

    “They deemed the first of week of school to be a little unsafe, with the cyclists roaring through and not dismounting,” Anto said. He wasn’t sure if Toronto Police had ever sent officers out on similar assignments before.

    The construction is set to expand on the pedestrian portion of the Martin Goodman Trail at the Portland Slip, which narrows down to a point at the corner. The space left is too narrow for the trail to run parallel to the sidewalk, so the City is building a deck over a portion of the slip.

    One Silver Maple tree required a permit to be removed from the immediate construction zone, to be replaced with two new Silver Maples at the end of the project.

    On Wednesday, officers were slated to be there until around 4:00 p.m., after school lets out for the day and when construction is scheduled to pause until Thursday.

    So far, most cyclists had been compliant with their requests. Mike said they’d had 100 per cent success with getting riders off their bikes.

    “I would say most people,” Anto clarified. “Some people I would have to tell them multiple times, but overall I feel like the message is very clear at this point.”

    The construction project is being completed by Waterfront Toronto and their contractor, Somerville Construction, and began the week of Aug. 21.

    The scheduled time for completion is between six and eight weeks, though fluctuating water levels in Lake Ontario and potential inclement weather could affect their current timelines.

    In the meantime, the Ghazarian brothers are standing guard.

    “We’re just here to make sure that cyclists dismount properly and just obey the rules of the road,” Anto said. “And make sure nobody gets hurt.”


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