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- 09/15/17--15:09: _Ultimate Leafs fan ...
- 09/16/17--13:06: _Bullet-riddled pain...
- 09/16/17--15:20: _Rohingya crisis ‘lo...
- 09/16/17--16:34: _U.S. may not comple...
- 09/16/17--18:29: _Man shot in downtow...
- 09/16/17--16:00: _North Korea’s weapo...
- 09/16/17--19:41: _Father of Quebec bo...
- 09/16/17--18:13: _Justice Ian Nordhei...
- 09/16/17--20:01: _‘Different, not dan...
- 09/17/17--10:49: _As Trump mocks Kim ...
- 09/17/17--03:00: _Booze, benches, bat...
- 09/16/17--19:57: _Joy, fulfilment, de...
- 09/17/17--13:39: _Father of boy in Am...
- 09/17/17--08:44: _A carnival worker c...
- 09/17/17--11:52: _Toronto police ID m...
- 09/17/17--13:04: _‘Mommy wine festiva...
- 09/17/17--12:09: _Trump retweets imag...
- 09/17/17--03:00: _Handing out money f...
- 09/17/17--13:10: _World’s oldest pers...
- 09/17/17--05:15: _Man dies in hospita...
- 09/15/17--15:09: Ultimate Leafs fan sells most of collection to Ottawa museum
- 09/16/17--13:06: Bullet-riddled painting of Justin Bieber missing after TIFF debut
- 09/16/17--18:29: Man shot in downtown Toronto restaurant
- 09/16/17--16:00: North Korea’s weapons testing stirs worries in Japan
- 09/16/17--18:13: Justice Ian Nordheimer named to Ontario’s top court
- McMaster said “the president’s ears are open” to possible participation in a new global climate agreement that addresses his concerns about the original 2015 deal, when Barack Obama was president. The White House has denied reports that Trump has changed his mind about withdrawing the U.S. from the accord.
- McMasters suggested that Friday’s bomb attack in London could lead Trump to introduce a stronger travel ban. Trump’s original travel ban has been tied up in court, with the Supreme Court scheduled to hear arguments next month in a legal challenge.
- 09/16/17--19:57: Joy, fulfilment, despair motivates Canadian humanitarian clown
- 09/17/17--13:39: Father of boy in Amber Alert still in Ontario hospital
- 09/17/17--11:52: Toronto police ID man killed in shooting near Regent Park
- 09/17/17--13:04: ‘Mommy wine festival’ ignores mental health risks, experts say
- 09/17/17--12:09: Trump retweets image of him hitting Hillary Clinton with golf ball
- 09/17/17--03:00: Handing out money for free harder than it looks
- 09/17/17--13:10: World’s oldest person, Violet Brown, dies at 117
- 09/17/17--05:15: Man dies in hospital after Toronto restaurant shooting
Mike Wilson, a Leafs superfan whose basement was filled with more than 1,700 collectibles, has sold most of his massive collection to the Canadian Museum of History in Ottawa.
Most of the memorabilia, which includes hockey photos, paintings, personal letters, trophies, and original contracts, was sold to the national museum for just under $2 million.
Until last month, Wilson’s full collection was stored in his 1,000 square-foot basement. But he and his spouse, Debra Thuet, both knew that once the kids moved out and the couple retired, there would come a day when they would leave their house and downsize.
“I was never going to store it,” Wilson said of the collection. “So we kind of had to move the collection first, before we make any other moves about retirement.”
The couple began chatting with a number of different organizations about four years ago: the Leafs themselves, the Hockey Hall of Fame, and several real estate agents, among others.
Neither of them initially thought of the Canadian Museum of History as a possibility, until one of their curators visited their house several years ago to ask about borrowing a few pieces of the collection for a hockey-related exhibit (called “Hockey: More Than Just A Game”).
As the curator walked around their basement, she asked what the couple planned to do with the collection when they moved. Wilson explained that he and Thuet had been asking themselves that very question.
“And she said: What about us?” Wilson said.
“I said: ‘You guys?’ And Debbie said: ‘You guys?’ And she said: ‘Well, we could do this stuff.”
The museum invited Wilson and Thuet to Ottawa for a tour and discussion a few days later. Wilson said they didn’t just ask to buy the collection — the curators also offered to let Wilson retain curatorial control, naming rights, and an emphasis on preserving and displaying his collection’s history.
“They offered me, pretty much, everything I wanted,” Wilson said.
Wilson said the “collector gene” took hold of him when he was about 7 years old. His dad’s cousin gave him one of defenceman Carl Brewer’s sticks that had been signed by the entire team. Other items followed — cards, Leafs-related clippings from Star Weekly, and other memorabilia.
The last of the sold collection left the couple’s house a month ago.
“When reality sets in and that truck pulls into the driveway, and they start taking stuff off the walls, the reality really starts hitting home,” Wilson said. “So it’s been a pretty emotional ride for me.”
Wilson still owns about 500 items, for the time being. He said that appraisers found it difficult to value the price of the one-of-a-kind items he has, especially contracts. His collection includes those for Tim Horton and George Armstrong.
“If we couldn’t agree on a price, we kept them,” Wilson said.
His biggest concern, he said, wasn’t money. It was the chance for his collection to still be on display to the public and for him to retain some curatorial control.
“The first day Deb and I sat down with them in Ottawa at lunch, they wanted me as a part of it. And that was the biggest thing,” Wilson said.
A bullet-riddled painting of Justin Bieber has gone missing, and perhaps stolen, after making its debut at a Toronto International Film Festival event last week.
Viktor Mitic, known for shooting a gun at his paintings, said he was notified early last week that his artwork, appraised at $18,000, is missing from the Campbell House Museum at Queen St. W. and University Ave.
“I got the email and I was like, ‘What the . . . ? Was it stolen by Bieber fans or something?’ I almost thought it was a joke,” the Toronto artist said.
He said he had about 10 pieces in the week-long TIFF exhibit and that he was told on Tuesday that “Green, shot up portrait of Justin Bieber” was missing as there was initial confusion about who moved it.
Mitic said he’s been in touch with Campbell House, as well as the co-producers of the event, Aujla Inc. and Mongrel Media, whom he said have been “very helpful.” But as of Saturday, his painting hasn’t been found.
Mitic said he’s “more interested than upset” his artwork disappeared since the event had hundreds of attendees monitored by security. He’s also curious as to how no one noticed it went missing because of the size of the painting, which is 30 by 40 inches.
“I think this is just weird. It’s not the biggest painting but it is quite big, so this person is like a Houdini to have taken it and not been caught,” he said.
Raji Aujla, artistic director of Aujla Inc., and who got Mitic in touch with Campbell House, told the Star that a police report was filed Friday.
“We take so many precautions to secure the site,” she said. “So for this to happen is startling and we are really working on getting to the bottom of what happened.”
Toronto police Const. Caroline de Kloet confirmed that police were notified Friday and that they’re still trying to gather more information.
Aujla believes the painting was moved either on Sept. 9 or 10. She said she was told by a security company representative that a guard at the event spotted someone with a painting at the intersection of Queen St. W. and University Ave. and they were questioned but let go.
Aujla said it’s still not clear who the person was, or if it was Mitic’s painting.
“This whole situation is just very confusing and we’re all so startled by it. But police said they’re currently trying to access the security cameras so we can find out more.”
This is the first time Mitic’s Bieber painting has been in an exhibit. He created it in 2011 when he thought Bieber was a rising star and was “all over the place.”
“At that time it was like either people loved him or hated him — almost like they wanted to shoot him down.”
Mitic, 47, decided now was the time to show the piece to the public because he thinks Bieber has become a major celebrity and an icon.
He has been shooting bullets into his paintings since 2007 because he was interested in how people view weapons, and the divided reaction to it being incorporated into artwork.
Mitic said this is the first time a painting of his has gone missing.
“I’m upset it is gone but these things happen, things go missing and get stolen. I’ve had bikes of mine stolen about 10 times before. These things just happen.”
The actions of the Burmese government against the Rohingya “looks a lot like ethnic cleansing,” says Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, who vows to apply pressure on the international community at the UN General Assembly next week.
“This is an issue that matters to me very much. It matters very much to our prime minister,” Freeland told a crowd of about 100 people in Matt Cohen Park on Saturday at a protest organized by the Burma Task Force and several Canadian Muslim organizations.
More than 400,000 Rohingya refugees have fled the military crackdown in Burma, a crisis that the United Nations human rights chief has called “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.” The Burmese government has reported that 176 out of 471 Rohingya villages are now abandoned, with satellite images showing stretches of villages burned to the ground.
Freeland told the crowd that she had spoken to the foreign minister of Bangladesh, as well as former UN general secretary Kofi Annan.
“Our ambassador is seeking access to the Rakhine State (in western) Burma, so that Canadians can see first hand what is happening,” Freeland said.
Anwar Arkani, president of the Rohingya Association of Canada, was in the crowd, representing one of 34 Rohingya families who have settled in Kitchener-Waterloo in the last two decades. There are 25 Rohingya families in Quebec City, and 20 more in Vancouver. All of them are refugees; most have moved here from refugee camps in Bangladesh.
“We want to mobilize the Canadian government,” Arkani told the Star. “I’ve been screaming this for many, many years. People only woke up . . . when they saw massive numbers of people crossing the border in just a day.”
Arkani has called his relatives in Burma, also known as Myanmar, every day for the past 20 years, since he first moved to Canada as a government-assisted refugee. In July 2016 his youngest sister and her husband were killed by military forces. Three years before that, his nephews were taken by the same forces — never to be heard from again. Arkani thinks they were buried alive in a mass grave or drowned in a river.
“You assume everyone you know there is dead,” he said. “You’re lucky if you only know who’s alive.”
Ethnic Rohingya have long faced discrimination in Burma and are denied citizenship, even though many families have lived there for generations.
Habibur Rahman, a teacher who has served one of the refugee camps in Bangladesh for over 20 years, told the Star in a phone interview from overseas that he has never witnessed this many people at the camp before.
“There are more people here than there is room to walk,” he said through a translator.
People are sleeping in his classrooms, not studying.
Speaking from Bangladesh, Rahman said he is worried because of the severe rainy season in the region, with cold temperatures around the corner.
“There’s not enough food or clothes, people are starving,” he said. “People are weak, children are very weak. We don’t have medical supplies.”
“People are coming here with nothing but a horror (story) of their houses burned down,” he added.
One of those people was Sayed Ahmed’s uncle, who fled from Maungdaw in Burma to Bangladesh a week ago with thousands of people. He called Ahmed with Rahman’s phone.
“He told me that they don’t feel safe anymore in his own country,” said Ahmed, a longtime resident of Kitchener-Waterloo, who hasn’t seen his Burmese relatives since he moved to Canada in 2006.
“He said that people are running for their lives. Whoever is left behind are burned in fire.”
In the crowd were several other politicians, including MPs Rob Oliphant (Don Valley West), Salma Zahid (Scarborough Centre), Michael Levitt (York Centre) and Ali Ehsassi (Willowdale); and city councillors Kristyn Wong-Tam and Neethan Shan.
“This is a Canadian issue,” Oliphant said, to strong applause from the crowd.
Oliphant promised that the Rohingya crisis would be the first issue that parliament would tackle when it goes back into session next week.
Another grassroots rally gathered at the grounds at Queen’s Park to also call for the end of the “genocide” of the Rohingya. Protests are also set to take place in Ottawa and Edmonton on Sunday.
WASHINGTON—A European official said Saturday that the Trump administration has softened its stance on the Paris climate agreement and may not completely withdraw from it after all.
But the White House quickly rebutted the report.
“There has been no change in the United States’ position on the Paris agreement,” said Lindsay Walters, a White House spokesperson. “As the president has made abundantly clear, the United States is withdrawing unless we can re-enter on terms that are more favourable to our country.”
At a ministerial summit in Montreal, where the United States was an observer, the European Union’s top climate official said the Trump administration had backed away from its announcement in June that it was abandoning the 2015 agreement.
The U.S. “stated that they will not renegotiate the Paris accord, but they try to review the terms on which they could be engaged under this agreement,” said Miguel Arias Canete.
It was not immediately clear how far that statement would go. Trump, when announcing his decision to withdraw, was adamant about the U.S. ignoring goals on limiting greenhouse gas emissions and other elements believed to contribute to global warming.
At the time, it was seen as another abrogation of the United States’ pre-eminent role as a global leader.
But Trump argued that the deal was bad for U.S. businesses and that it made Washington foot too much of the cost.
Global warming is an issue with renewed political currency after Hurricane Harvey left epic floods in Houston and the Gulf Coast, and Hurricane Irma devastated parts of the Caribbean and left millions in Florida without power. Scientists say warmer waters may have intensified the force of the storms.
A man has been found without vital signs after police responded to a report of a shooting in a restaurant in the area of Simcoe St. and Adelaide St. W.
Police arrived at the scene just before 9 p.m. Saturday and located the victim. Witnesses said there were four to five shots fired, and that the shooting all took place within the restaurant.
One suspect fled the scene on foot. Police are looking for a man with a black handgun, possibly wearing a dark hoodie that may be grey. He was last seen travelling west on Pearl St.
TOKYO—The anti-missile batteries deployed on the sprawling grounds of the Japanese defence ministry are a stark reminder that here, the dispute with North Korea goes beyond bombast and rhetoric.
These PAC-3 portable batteries are a version of the Patriot missiles deployed against Iraqi Scuds during the Gulf War, upgraded to defend against ballistic missiles, the kind that North Korea is now believed to have in its arsenal.
The batteries are meant to protect this sprawling city, one part of a defensive system to guard the country against anything fired from its erratic and provocative regional neighbour — a system that Japan is under pressure to upgrade in the face of North Korea’s increasingly capable missile and weapons technologies.
Experts say the chances of an actual attack are low, but North Korea’s stepped-up weapons testing — including Friday’s missile launch — and Washington’s fiery response has put many on edge here, saying the threat is now at a new level.
Ryoichi Oriki, a retired general who headed Japan’s self-defence forces, says the risk is “unprecedented.”
“It’s really a critical time of crisis on the Korean peninsula,” said Oriki, who now serves as an executive adviser at Fujitsu.
“North Korea’s missile technology has advanced. They can achieve longer range now and they can launch a missile anywhere now. They can even place a nuclear warhead — perhaps they have the technology now. Those changes are significant and those pose serious threats, not only to East Asia,” he told the Star during an interview in his Tokyo office prior to the most recent missile launch.
Those concerns were driven home anew Friday as Japanese residents woke to word of yet another North Korean test that sent a missile arcing high over their country’s northern island of Hokkaido.
Residents in the region were warned to take shelter while in Tokyo politicians protested North Korea’s continued provocations.
“It is totally unacceptable that North Korea has once again conducted such an outrageous act,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters. “We have to make North Korea understand that if it continues along this path, it will not have a bright future.”
It was a repeat of a test in August that sent a missile on a similar flight path over Hokkaido before splashing down in the northern Pacific.
And like that test — conducted with no warning — this most recent missile launch sparked civil defence warnings, normally reserved for earthquakes and tsunamis, telling Japanese residents near the flight path to take cover.
Just hours before the launch, North Korean had threatened to sink Japan. It was typical sabre-rattling from Pyongyang. But behind that bombast, an increasingly sophisticated weapons program has been taking shape.
“We cannot deny their technological advancements,” Ryusuke Wakahoi, deputy director, strategic intelligence analysis division in Japan’s defence ministry.
Friday’s missile launch was its farthest yet. And its Sept. 3 nuclear test was its biggest to date.
“We see the technical maturity of their technologies. They may be able now to have a smaller nuclear warhead which can be mounted on the missile,” he told the Star, speaking through an interpreter.
“Based on these facts, we understand that North Korea’s threat is immediate and at a grave level,” Wakahoi said.
Until recently, Canadians tended to view the provocations of the North Korean regime as a regional problem. That perception is changing.
MPs heard this week that it’s only a matter of time before North Korea has developed a nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missile able to reach North America.
While the Kim Jong Un’s regime poses a “grave threat” to global security, for now there is no direct threat to Canada, federal officials told a defence committee meeting on Thursday.
“On the contrary in recent contacts with the North Korean government . . . the indications were that they perceive Canada as a peaceful and indeed a friendly country,” Mark Gwozdecky, assistant deputy minister, international security and political affairs at Global Affairs Canada, told the committee.
That might be cold comfort given the blunt warning that the U.S. is under no obligation to defend Canada against an incoming missile — errant or deliberate — that might be headed for its northern neighbour.
“We’re being told . . . that the extant U.S. policy is not to defend Canada,” said, Lt.-Gen. Pierre St-Amand, the Canadian officer who serves as deputy commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command.
Whether the U.S. would intercept a missile inbound to Canada is a decision that would be made by the Americans “in the heat of the moment,” he said.
While North Korea is an isolated regime, cloaked in secrecy, experts say there’s no mystery in its motives to develop advanced weapons.
“We should take what they say quite literally. They want to be accepted as a nuclear weapons state,” said Akihiko Tanaka, president of Tokyo’s National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies.
“I think they believe acquiring that status will guarantee the survival of the regime.”
Having nuclear capabilities and the missiles able to strike the United States resets the balance of power with Washington and helps keep his regime in place, experts say.
“I don’t believe Kim Jong Un is interested in actually using nuclear weapons but his ultimate goal is establishing this system of having ICBM and nuclear weapons so he could show them as deterrence,” Oriki said.
That viewed is echoed in Canada, too, where officials say North Korea is motivated by “its desire to survive.
“While their rhetoric is colourful and their behaviour occasionally strikes us as peculiar, they’re no fools and they understand the consequences of that kind of an action,” Stephen Burt, assistant chief of defence intelligence, Canadian Forces Intelligence Command, told MPs in Ottawa.
Still, U.S. President Donald Trump has openly talked of war with North Korea, vowing at one stage that threats from the isolated regime would be met with “fire and the fury like the world has never seen.”
And he has warned that, “all options are on the table.”
Here in Japan, views are divided on Washington’s tougher tone.
“The attention that the Trump administration gives to the North Korea issue is, I think, positive,” Tanaka said.
“What was called the strategic patience by the previous administration of the United States virtually allowed North Korea to do whatever it likes,” he told the Star in his university office.
Others though fret that Trump’s heated rhetoric is now the wild card equation.
“From the period of Bill Clinton to Bush junior to Obama, whatever the rhetoric was, the U.S. shared that this situation must be resolved by peaceable means,” said Hiroshi Nakanishi, dean of the School of Government at Kyoto University.
“The biggest change is that the rhetoric and the attitude of the Trump administration . . . (is) talking openly about the military options,” he said in his university office.
“That makes the confrontation rather different for us.”
Canada is among those pressing for diplomatic efforts to resolve tensions, warning that heated rhetoric could cause events to spin out of control.
“Currently, the risk is significant that misinterpretation of intent or miscalculation could lead to an escalation, including military conflict,” Gwozdecky told the Commons’ defence committee.
And he warned that if such a conflict erupts, thousands could die “in a matter of minutes.”
Experts shudder at the prospect of Western militaries attempting to strike at North Korea, saying the cost of such a move would be horrific.
This week, the United Nations further tightened sanctions on North Korea, part of a continuing effort to use economic pressures to force the regime to comply with international orders to curb its weapons programs.
And yet the country has seemingly been able to defy past sanctions to continue weapons development at an ever-increasing pace, raising questions how North Korea is able to skirt barriers.
Tanaka said Canada and other Western nations can assist by helping developing nations that still trade with North Korea abide by sanctions.
“In many developing countries, the export control of sensitive issues is generally very, very lax,” he said. “We might co-operate to help them to make export controls more effective.”
But tightening sanctions carries its own risks. By cracking down on Chinese companies that trade with North Korea, Washington risks upsetting leaders in Beijing. “To kill one dragon, maybe we are producing another dragon,” Nakanishi said.
And the economic pain could force North Korea further into a corner, he said. “The problem is that all the options are lousy, to say the least.”
The father of a six-year-old boy who was the subject of an Amber Alert this week is staying overnight in an Ontario hospital after he sustained injuries Saturday afternoon following the court’s decision to transfer him back to Quebec.
The man appeared in court Saturday morning for his bail hearing, and was awaiting the vehicle expected to transfer him when he became injured.
At 1:30 p.m., the courts had made a decision upon releasing him into the custody of the Sûreté du Québec, Québec’s provincial police force. By 3:30 p.m., Sgt. Carolle Dionne, a spokesperson with the Ontario Provincial Police, had been told that the man had been taken to hospital by ambulance.
“At this point there’s no information as to the type of injuries or the extent of his injuries,” said Dionne. She could not say how the injuries were sustained, but said that police were not looking for suspects regarding the injuries.
The new timeline on transferring the father back to Quebec will depend on further medical evaluations to be done Sunday morning.
The six-year-old boy vanished from St-Eustache, Que., on Thursday and his father was apprehended in Ontario nearly 24 hours later. By then, the body of the boy’s mother had also been discovered in the family home.
Ontario police said they couldn’t comment on what charges the man might face in his home province, and police in Quebec did not respond to requests for comment on that matter. The Ontario Provincial Police say an investigation in their province is ongoing.
Quebec provincial police are combing an area around Lachute for a missing 71-year-old man who previously used the car in which the missing child was found safe.
Sgt. Claude Denis says a ground and air search is currently underway for Yvon Lacasse, adding that finding him is considered a top priority for the investigation.
“For us, it is an emergency to find Mr. Lacasse,” Denis said from the scene of the search.
Police have speculated that the child’s father may have dropped Lacasse off somewhere in his flight to eastern Ontario.
The boy’s father made it from St-Eustache to the town of Griffith, Ont., about 150 kilometres west of Ottawa, before he was arrested.
Police said they used ground and air support and deployed a spike belt to stop the father’s vehicle and that he was arrested after a short foot chase.
Police said the child was found in the vehicle in good physical health and had been placed in care.
The boy’s mother, who was married to his father, was found dead Thursday night in a home in St-Eustache, north of Montreal.
Police said she had four children, including three before her relationship with the six-year-old’s father.
With files from Alexandra Jones
The public was wiser, sooner, because of Mr. Justice Ian Nordheimer’s belief in open court decisions.
From ordering the release of search warrant information linked to mayor Rob Ford to naming Ontario’s top-billing physicians, Nordheimer’s involvement in Superior Court rulings has, in key cases, granted the larger community access to information that some parties wanted to remain secret.
Now, Nordheimer, a proponent of the public’s right to know, has a seat in the province’s top court.
Justice Minister and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould has appointed Nordheimer a judge of the Court of Appeal of Ontario. The Toronto native spent 18 years as a judge of Toronto’s Superior Court of Justice and administrative judge of the Divisional Court.
Toronto defence lawyer Daniel Brown said losing Nordheimer from Superior Court is bittersweet.
“There are some judges the defence lawyers are happy to see in the courtroom and there are some judges the Crown attorneys are happy to see in the courtroom,” Brown said.
“It seemed as though both defence lawyers and Crown attorney (were) happy to see Justice Nordheimer presiding over a case . . . . He’s balanced and fair and you feel like your argument is being heard when you appear before him and you feel like the result is a just one.”
In a Department of Justice Canada statement released Friday, Nordheimer was described as rendering “numerous precedent-setting judgments in civil and criminal law, grappling with issues at the heart of Canada’s constitutional democracy, such as open court principle, the rights of the accused and treatment of lawfully assembled protesters.”
Earlier this year, Nordheimer ruled on Canada’s practice of indefinite immigration detention in ordering the release of Kashif Ali, whom the government was unable to deport. The West African man, who had not been convicted of a crime, had spent more than seven years in a maximum-security jail.
Nordheimer called the detention “unacceptable” and ruled that it violated Ali’s charter rights.
“One thing is clear, and that is that Canada cannot purport to hold someone in detention forever,” Nordheimer said, reading from his decision in April.
In 2013, Ford’s troubled life — there was a cellphone video of him smoking crack and allegations of drinking and driving, snorting cocaine, abusing staffers — was under scrutiny. The police were investigating the then-mayor and his friend, Sandro Lisi, in Project Brazen.
Nordheimer presided over key rulings that ordered police documents to be made public. Following legal challenges from media outlets, including the Star, the judge wrote in a late November 2013 ruling:
“We are dealing with the actions of the duly elected Mayor of the country’s largest city and the extensive investigation undertaken by the police into those actions,” Nordheimer said in his decision. “In terms of legal proceedings, it is hard to conceive of a matter that would be of more importance to the public interest, at this particular point in time, than the one that is presented by this case in the context in which is has unfolded.”
Investigative reporter Kevin Donovan, who led the Star’s coverage of Ford, said Nordheimer’s “decisions over the years have given him the well-deserved reputation for championing the public’s access to the court system.”
“He understands, in my opinion as an observer of some of these cases, the vital role of the media in informing the public about the goings on of the judicial system and the citizens caught up in it,” Donovan said.
“We saw that at work in the Project Brazen-related search warrant cases.”
WASHINGTON—Even Insane Clown Posse couldn’t quite believe it.
“We’re the good guys here today,” Violent J, one half of the widely loathed face-painting “horrorcore” rap duo, told the fans, known as “Juggalos,” who had gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial. “We’re actually in the right this time!”
The Juggalos, so easy to make fun of, had a case: the feds were the real clowns. And for a surreal Washington afternoon, the colourful people of one of America’s most-mocked subcultures were being seen by powerful people as freedom fighters, weird makeup and all.
Profane freedom fighters, yes. Two of the Juggalos’ Saturday refrains of choice: “You f---ed up” and “F--- that s---,” which they occasionally chanted in the direction of police helicopters, fingers extended skyward.
But this was the exception. They were so cheerful that some of them insisted on hugging journalists. And their favourite chant was a single upbeat word: “family.”
It was their response to the term the FBI insists describes them: gang.
“We’re different,” said rally host Kevin Gill. “We’re not dangerous.”
Hundreds of Juggalos had assembled for the demonstration and march in protest of a curious six-year-old FBI decision to include the Juggalos in their official national gang list, alongside such indisputably dangerous entities as MS-13.
The gang classification, Juggalos said, had led employers to force them out of jobs, convinced judges to deny them custody of their kids, and subjected them to police harassment for their Insane Clown Posse tattoos. One Virginia woman, Jessica Bonometti, said she had been fired as a probation officer because of Facebook posts about the band.
“If horrorcore’s so scary,” she said, “why isn’t Stephen King in jail?”
The classification was based on what the FBI called “sporadic, disorganized, individualistic” violence by people identifying as Juggalos. At the rally, Juggalos said criminals could be found among Justin Bieber’s “Beliebers,” Grateful Dead “Deadheads,” or any other large group.
“I mean, look at the government. You’ve got bad people in there, right?” said Ryan Lee, 35, a Virginia construction worker, homeowner and father of three. “We’re here because we’re not bad. It’s all love and all family.”
Many Insane Clown Posse fans are low-income white people. They said the Juggalos are a loving band of misfits, supportive and inclusive, mischaracterized by a mainstream society that rejected them even before some of them started painting their faces.
“People fear what they don’t understand,” says Amy Puterbaugh, 36, of Ohio, whose sign read “F--- the FBI.”
“We listen to scary music. People don’t know what to think about us. We just love our band, man,“ said Lee’s friend Jeff Feken, 33, whose sign read “Make America Whoop Again,” a reference to the “whoop whoop” call Juggalos use to say hello and applaud, because…
Juggalos will be Juggalos. This was probably the only Washington protest in history at which marchers sprayed cheap pop into the air: Faygo, the Detroit beverage beloved by the Michigan-bred group.
“America is a country of weirdos. Celebrate it,” Jacob Roman, 18, shouted into a megaphone, a bottle of Faygo in hand.
Violent J and partner Shaggy 2 Dope cast the Juggalos as the defenders of Americans of all kinds, warning that the persecution of America’s “most hated people” would inevitably lead to the persecution of others. As usual, they railed against racism, homophobia and economic segregation.
And, as usual, they cursed a lot. They also discussed “buttholes.” And they said the Juggalo activists should be so proud that they should perform sex acts on the “governmently-fine” lawn.
“Let’s march, mothaf-----,” Violent J said to end the rally, and off the Juggalos went, demanding their rights.
SOMERSET, N.J.—President Donald Trump mocked the leader of nuclear-armed North Korea on Sunday as “Rocket Man” while White House advisers said the isolated country would face destruction unless it shelves its weapons programs and bellicose threats.
The warnings came a day after Kim Jong Un pledged to continue those programs, saying North Korea is nearing its goal of “equilibrium” in military force with the United States.
North Korea will be high on the agenda for world leaders this coming week at the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly, Trump’s biggest moment on the world stage since his inauguration in January.
Trump is scheduled to address the world body, which he has criticized as weak and incompetent, on Tuesday.
Read more: Read more on U.S. President Donald Trump
Trump, who spent the weekend at his New Jersey golf club, tweeted that he and South Korean President Moon Jae-in discussed North Korea during their latest telephone conversation Saturday.
Asked about Trump’s description of Kim, national security adviser H.R. McMaster said “Rocket Man” was “a new one and I think maybe for the president.” But, he said, “that’s where the rockets are coming from. Rockets, though, we ought to probably not laugh too much about because they do represent a great threat to all.”
McMcaster said Kim is “going to have to give up his nuclear weapons because the president has said he’s not going to tolerate this regime threatening the United States and our citizens with a nuclear weapon.”
Asked if that meant Trump would launch a military strike, McMaster said, “He’s been very clear about that, that all options are on the table.”
Some doubt that Kim would ever agree to surrender his arsenal.
“I think that North Korea is not going to give up its program with nothing on the table,” said Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, a member of the Senate intelligence committee.
Kim has threatened Guam, a U.S. territory in the Pacific, and has fired missiles over Japan, a U.S. ally. North Korea also recently tested its most powerful bomb.
The UN Security Council has voted unanimously twice in recent weeks to tighten economic sanctions on North Korea, including targeting shipments of oil and other fuel used in missile testing. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said North Korea was starting to “feel the pinch.”
Trump, in a tweet, asserted that long lines for gas were forming in North Korea, and he said that was “too bad.”
Haley warned of a tougher U.S. response to future North Korean provocations, and said she would be happy to turn the matter over to Defence Secretary Jim Mattis “because he has plenty of military options.”
Mattis said after Kim tested a hydrogen bomb earlier this month that the U.S. would answer any threat from the North with a “massive military response, a response both effective and overwhelming.”
Trump has threatened to rain “fire and fury” on North Korea if the North continued with its threats. Haley said that wasn’t an empty threat from the president but she declined to describe the president’s intentions.
“If North Korea keeps on with this reckless behaviour, if the United States has to defend itself or defend its allies in any way, North Korea will be destroyed and we all know that and none of us want that,” Haley said. “None of us want war. But we also have to look at the fact that you are dealing with someone who is being reckless, irresponsible and is continuing to give threats not only to the United States, but to all their allies, so something is going to have to be done.”
The White House said after Trump’s tweet that he and Moon were committed to strengthening deterrence and defence capabilities, and maximizing economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea.
But Haley said the Security Council had “pretty much exhausted” all its options.
In other developments Sunday:
Haley and Feinstein spoke on CNN’s State of the Union and McMaster appeared on ABC’s This Week and Fox News Sunday.
Right now, the city is conducting a survey about its parkland strategy (you can fill it out online or attend public meetings about it around the city). At the same time, it is entertaining a proposal from Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon, chair of the parks committee, to allow people to buy and drink beer in public parks.
So it seems an opportune time — as we enjoy the last few weeks of prime Toronto park season and reflect on our experiences of the summer — to offer a few suggestions. These are small ones — nothing so grandiose as a plan for new parks, or even new types of parks, and nothing so expensive, either. But from my picnic blanket under the trees, they seem like they’re small things that would make a huge difference to our enjoyment of park spaces.
First off, yes, let people drink beer (or wine, or whatever) in parks. But don’t bother limiting it to some kind of rotating “beer truck” special events — as the proposal seems like it might — or otherwise bog it down in quicksand of overregulation. As my colleague at Metro, Matt Elliott, recently wrote, there’s every danger that the city will put up all kinds of fenced-off beer holding pens in corners of parks, or put so many rules and permits onto what can be drunk or sold and how that they suck all the fun out of what should be a way for people to have fun.
Golf courses can already have their licensed area include all the playing areas and the grass around the clubhouse —essentially the whole course— so people can wander around with a beer while they play. The same seems like it would work just fine in public parks.
Right now — famously at Trinity Bellwoods, but also even at my local family playground — many, many people routinely bring a bottle of wine or a tall can of IPA to the park. And it causes few problems that anyone can see. All the city has to do is change the law to conform to a relatively uncontroversial common practice.
And then, to complement this, the city can go ahead and license sales concessions — truck-based or otherwise — as a service to park users and a source of cash, too.
It was after I had kids that I realized parks serve roughly the same purpose in a community as pubs: they’re convenient local places to relax, blow off steam, celebrate, meet people, and catch up on neighbourhood news and gossip. Seems like there are relatively few reasons not to add another similarity to the list by letting people do those things over a beer if they want.
Which brings us to my second suggestion. You know what else bars have? Bar stools. Chairs. Places for people to sit down while they socialize and pass the time.
You know what Toronto’s parks don’t have enough of? Places to sit down, or things to sit on. Sure, there are a few wooden benches affixed in place here and there, and the odd well-placed rock. But as I wrote last summer, there really are relatively few places to have a seat in our public places, including in our parks.
In New York City and Paris, cheap, movable chairs are a ubiquitous and well-used fixture of parks and public squares. And they are better than park benches specifically because there are lots of them and you can move them around — into the shade, or into conversation circles, or whatever — as you like. “People don’t care about the architectural design of a public space,” writer Jonathan Rowe observed, summarizing the work of legendary urbanist William H. Whyte. “What they do care about is one simple thing: places to sit.” We need more of them in our parks, particularly local neighbourhood drop-in parkettes where people stopping in spontaneously are less likely to have packed a picnic blanket or beach towel with them.
Finally, if people are sitting around enjoying themselves and having a drink, they need something else. Something very basic in which the city has, in my experience, failed spectacularly. They need a decent place to go to the washroom.
“A 5-year-old little girl needed to use the washroom,” a Toronto resident named Betty Lynn wrote me recently about a trip to High Park — one of the city’s flagship destination parks. “She went ahead of me and I was surprised to see her back off, and so hesitant to go into a stall and wouldn’t enter. I looked in and agreed . . . and, frankly was horrified at the sight. Not only unflushed and horribly smelly, but with huge amounts of toilet paper all over the floor, little clean toilet paper, water all over the floor and no lock on the doors! Of the wash basins only one had water (cold), the sinks were filthy and rusted and the floor looked like it hadn’t be cleaned (never mind painted) in decades.”
If you’re from Toronto, it’s likely nothing about Lynn’s description will surprise you. It seems like in our public parks in particular, there are two states in which you find a public washroom.
The first state is disgusting. As Lynn describes.
The second state is locked. For much of the year, the toilets in many parks are closed unless they are attached to a specific facility like a pool or a skating rink that is open. I recall with amazement this spring, while the cherry trees were blooming in High Park, on the same weekend as the park’s baseball and soccer leagues opened their seasons, the park was full of people. Police had gated the entrances to car traffic because there was gridlock on the park roads. The walkways were like Union Station during the morning rush hour. The park was predictably full for the event-packed weekend. And the public washrooms were . . . not yet open for the season.
Almost every fast-food joint and mom-and-pop diner in the city manages to keep restrooms open, and relatively clean, stocked with toilet paper, with functioning sinks and locking stall doors. It isn’t difficult or unreasonable to expect the city to manage the same thing in public facilities.
There’s the three-point plan: let people have a drink, let them have a seat while they do it and give them a decent washroom facility for when they need it. It isn’t a grandiose parkland strategy, but it is an easy way to make our existing parks much better.
Edward Keenan writes on city issues email@example.com . Follow: @thekeenanwire
Edward Keenan writes on city issues firstname.lastname@example.org . Follow: @thekeenanwire
MONTREAL—After years working birthday parties, private functions and public festivals, of making people laugh for profit as Yahou the clown, Guillaume Vermette decided to follow his dream.
The 29-year-old from Trois-Rivières, Que., sold his entertainment company two years ago, launched a fundraising campaign, filled a backpack and dove into a new life marked by overwhelming misery, suffering, violence and desperation.
Vermette, a full-time humanitarian clown, has never felt so enriched. He has never felt so enraged, either.
Now his shows are for street kids in Haiti and Burkina Faso, Syrian refugees in Greece and Jordan, Burmese refugees in Thailand and Russian orphans living in ramshackle conditions.
“Yes, it’s rough sometimes,” he admitted in a recent interview. “If you brought me a recipe to save the world I’d drop my clown nose and do it.”
But the world ricochets from the ruins of Syria and Iraq, to the Rohingya Muslims fleeing a campaign of ethnic cleansing in Burma, to the heightened nuclear threat from North Korea. And Vermette’s red plastic nose, powder blue suit, red suspenders and, sometimes, ballerina’s pink tutu are never in the closet for long.
In conversation he rants against injustice, exploitation, prejudice and intolerance. He says that what he has seen in the last year or so convinces him that the world is becoming an uglier place. Then he bursts out in an unbridled laugh.
“You have to accept that you can’t change the world. You have to accept that the world is a horrible place,” he said. “To embody change is the best thing you can do—and to be positive. But to be honest, it’s getting harder and harder. I thought it would get easier but it’s not.”
The first time he put on a costume was about 12 years ago while working as a summer camp counsellor in the Inuit community of Salluit in northern Quebec.
He was a 17-year-old white kid working with Inuit youth not much younger than he was but who were already facing serious personal, social and substance-abuse issues. One day, Vermette went into the camp’s costume closet on his break, dressed up and started walking through the streets, marveling at the reaction.
“It was fun, but I felt there was something more—a human contact,” he said. “It allows you to realize that we are all the same. We laugh at the same things. We are touched by the same things.”
An idea was born. He took private clown courses, created his own entertainment company at the age of 19 and enrolled in university, studying psychology. It grew to the point where he had 30 performers working for him and no time to continue his studies.
Some of the profits from Yahou Productions went to pay for humanitarian work, but he was frustrated by bureaucracy trying to get into hospitals and orphanages, where his tricks and gags might brighten someone’s day.
In 2011, a friend slipped Vermette a piece of paper with a telephone number and the name of Patch AdamsPatch Adams, the American doctor and activist clown portrayed by Robin Williams in the 1998 movie. It took him two weeks to work up his courage.
“I called and introduced myself as Guillaume the clown from Trois-Rivières in very bad English at the time. He listened to me and, at the end, asked me to come with him to Russia with about 40 other clowns to tour the orphanages,” Vermette said.
In the years since, Vermette has been to Russia 17 times working with an organization called Maria’s Children, that visits orphanages and hospitals and helps the survivors of the 2004 Beslan school massacre in which about 330 people, including 180 children, were killed by Chechen terrorists after a three-day hostage situation.
One of the kids, Ruslan, lost his father and sister in the Beslan attack. Ruslan’s only surviving relative, his mother, has never really recovered from the trauma, Vermette said.
“I don’t do shows for him because it doesn’t interest him. He needs a presence. He needs a mother and a brother and that’s what I give him as best as I can.”
Patch Adams, perhaps the world’s most famous humanitarian clown, is no longer just an inspiration for Vermette. He is a friend.
“I think the strongest thing that Guillaume brings is that he really has a deeply loving heart for all people,” Adams said in a telephone interview.
He’s also become well respected in the community of itinerant performers who cross paths in far-flung refugee camps or come together for humanitarian missions.
“A clown like Guillaume could be making a really decent wage. Circus is back in a big way. With his skills and experience he could be absolutely packing away the money, but we don’t miss it so it’s not a sacrifice,” said Ash Perrin, founder of The Flying Seagull Project, a troupe that works with refugees in Europe.
Perrin and Vermette first worked together in 2016 in northern Greece, where 14,000 refugees stayed in a makeshift camp, hoping to make asylum claims in Europe. Their common work ethic and concern for the children united them while performing up to eight shows a day in hot, difficult conditions.
“(Children) pick up on the atmosphere of the parents,” Perrin said. “Parents are losing hope after they’ve been there a while. Hope is a thin resource in the camp.”
One moment from that trip is etched in Vermette’s memory. While he was performing, surrounded by kids, a fight broke out and gunshots pierced the air. Everyone scrambled to safety, except Vermette, who couldn’t hear anything over the sounds of the children laughing.
For that brief moment, he had removed his audience from their hostile and miserable reality and transported them to a place of happiness. And he had done his job.
“I’m a clown. I distribute happiness and joy—a moment of normal childhood in the midst of chaos and suffering,” Vermette said. “So far that has been my focus, but I’m reflecting on that. I think I want to do more.”
MONTREAL—A man who was arrested after police found his 6-year-old son, who had been the subject of an Amber Alert, remains in an Ontario hospital.
The boy vanished from St-Eustache, Que., on Thursday and his father was apprehended in Ontario nearly 24 hours later. By then, the body of the boy’s mother had also been discovered in the family home.
Ontario Provincial Police say the man suffered injuries that required medical assessment and he was sent to hospital Saturday.
The man appeared by video link earlier in the day from a police station in Renfrew, Ont., where he had been held since his arrest on Friday night.
Quebec provincial police have not responded to requests for comment about what charges the man might face when he returns to his home province.
As of Sunday afternoon, it was not yet clear when the man would be transferred to Quebec police.
“This man will be back in Quebec when his health conditions are better,” said spokesperson Claude Denis.
Meanwhile, volunteers and police officers continued their search Sunday for a 71-year-old man who has been missing from Lachute, Que., west of Montreal, since Friday.
Yvon Lacasse previously used the car in which the 6-year-old boy was found safe.
Denis says investigators now want to speak to a motorcyclist who could be a useful witness and are asking for help from the public.
Police have images from a surveillance camera that show a motorcyclist in Lachute who may have seen Lacasse’s car Thursday at about 6 p.m. — the time police say the car was stolen.
“In the pictures, we can see the motorcyclist and we can also see the car of Mr. Lacasse,” Denis said Sunday.
Denis is also asking motorists, campers and others living in the area between Lachute and Rouyn-Noranda, Que., to check ditches, cabins and backyards as the search for missing man continues.
Lacasse is bald with brown eyes, five feet five inches tall and weighs just under 100 pounds.
Police are asking anyone who thinks they may have seen him to call 911.
GREENSBORO, N.C.—A fair worker who was trying to fix a broken Ferris wheel in North Carolina fell from the ride and suffered minor injuries.
Cellphone video posted on WHAS11 showed the worker climbing up the Ferris wheel after one of the gondola cars began to tilt out of its normal position Friday night. The television station reported that at least one young boy was inside the stuck gondola car.
When the worker dislodged the car, he lost his balance and fell, banging his body on the ride.
The Central Carolina Fair in Greensboro said in a statement Saturday that the worker was taken to a hospital. He was later released.
The ride was inspected by state officials and approved for future use.
Toronto police have identified the 54-year-old man shot and killed near Regent Park early Saturday morning.
Everone Paul Mitchell was visiting a nearby residence when the shooting took place around Gerrard and River Sts., police said.
Another victim, 57, was taken to trauma centre with non life-threatening injuries.
Police are still gathering evidence and accessing video surveillance.
A Toronto woman who organized a daytime wine festival for new mothers has found herself caught in a firestorm over the pervasiveness of alcohol at a time when heavy drinking is on the rise among women.
The weekday event, dubbed “A Very Mommy Wine Festival,” was meant to give new moms a chance to get together and have fun without the judgment and “mommy-shaming” they consistently face, organizer Alana Kayfetz said.
The 33-year-old, who has a 1-year-old son, argues the backlash is simply another facet of the pressure placed on mothers.
“If this was a man’s beer fest where babies were welcome, it would be celebrated, it would be revered,” Kayfetz said. “We would say, ‘Oh that’s so cute, look at those dads guzzling beer and holding their babies.’ No one would question it.”
But critics, some of them experts on substance use, have expressed concerns that making alcohol a focus of social events normalizes drinking and increases the risk of binge-drinking, a behaviour that has grown among Canadian women while hitting a plateau among men.
The number of teen girls and women who reported drinking in the last year has not changed since the mid-1990s. But the proportion of teen girls and women who reported heavy drinking has gone from 8.3 per cent in 2001 to 13.2 per cent in 2014, according to the latest data from Statistics Canada.
In comparison, the proportion of teen boys and men who reported heavy drinking in the last year has stayed around 23 per cent.
When having a drink or two is par for the course at social events, it can be a slippery slope, said Catherine Paradis, a senior research and policy analyst with the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction.
“The more you drink, the more likely you are to binge-drink,” she said. Binge-drinking is defined as consuming five or more drinks on one occasion for men, or four for women.
Part of the problem is that alcohol is “everywhere,” from races that see runners travel between breweries to university information sessions to cooking shows, Paradis said.
“And now, you feel isolated and at risk for post-partum depression and anxiety? Join the boozy mom playdate,” she said.
Ashley Wettlaufer, a researcher at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, said events that prominently feature alcohol typically have alcohol brands as sponsors, which is a form of stealth marketing much like product placement in movies and television.
“This is another way in which women are being targeted — the brands are aligning themselves with, say, breast cancer charities, for example,” Wettlaufer said.
“We now see events like beer yoga advertised on social media and of course groups and events like the mommy wine festival,” she said, noting that Canada’s current regulations on alcohol advertising don’t apply to the internet and social media.
Though most research on alcohol ads has focused on youth, it suggests exposure is linked to increased drinking and positive impressions of brands, she said.
“This is all concerning because of the health impact of alcohol, especially for women,” such as increased risk of several cancers, including breast cancer, Wettlaufer said.
Kayfetz, the organizer, said drinking at the festival was optional, as it is for every other event she organizes through her company, MomsTO.
And the marketing — which includes taglines such as “babes on the hips, wine on the lips” — is tongue-in-cheek, she said.
“I never thought about what we’re doing in part of the dialogue of the larger marketing phenomenon, what’s happening with alcohol being marketed to women,” she said.
“We tried ‘Mommies that like to drink tea, join us,’ but nobody came.”
WASHINGTON —In the latest instance of U.S. President Donald Trump seeming to revel in the notion of physical attacks against perceived enemies, the president retweeted an animated GIF showing him hitting a golf ball that knocks down Hillary Clinton.
Critics swiftly responded. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., appearing on ABC’s This Week, said: “It’s distressing to have a president that frankly will tweet and retweet things as juvenile as that.”
The original Twitter post, from a user whose Twitter handle consists of an expletive, was sent last week and retweeted Sunday by the president, who is spending the weekend at his New Jersey golf property.
A former Trump campaign strategist, David Urban, brushed off the controversy. “Retweets do not equal endorsements,” he said on CNN’s State of the Union.
The president has previously taken to Twitter to retweet animations, including one that depicted him pummeling a figure with a CNN logo superimposed on his head. Another presidential Twitter share last month, later deleted, showed a train hitting a person, again with a CNN logo imposed on the figure’s head.
Trump associates have previously dismissed criticism of such retweets, suggesting they were intended to be humorous.
Clinton’s new book about the campaign was released last week, and Trump has repeatedly used Twitter to deride her as a sore loser.
In the first part of the animation Trump retweeted on Sunday, the president is seen in golf attire, teeing off. The second shows footage of Clinton tripping as she boards a plane, with the video altered to show her being struck in the back with a golf ball.
Money for nothing?
Offering up to $1,400 a month with no strings attached to someone living in poverty may sound easy, says Kwame McKenzie, special adviser to Ontario’s basic income pilot project.
“But it’s not,” says the respected psychiatrist, researcher and international expert on the social causes of illness, suicide and health equity.
“We have spent a lot of time teaching people that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is,” McKenzie says. “You have to build techniques and strategies to reassure people that they aren’t going to be let down and it isn’t a scam.”
About 28,000 residents in the Hamilton-Brantford and Thunder Bay areas have received 40-page application packages in the mail since Premier Kathleen Wynne launched the three-year initiative in late April. Recruitment in Lindsay, the third trial site, begins later this fall.
The pilot is expected to cost $50 million a year and help the government determine whether a less intrusive and more trusting approach to delivering income support improves health, education and housing outcomes for low-income workers and people on welfare. The government also wants to see if providing an income floor below which nobody can fall improves job prospects for those living on low incomes.
But so far, the randomized weekly mail-outs have resulted in relatively few applications and even fewer cheques in the hands of low-income Ontarians.
Based on feedback from public information meetings over the summer, many of the packages landed in the mailboxes of people who aren’t eligible, either because they are too old or earning too much money.
Up to 4,000 individuals ages 18 to 64 with after-tax incomes under about $34,000 (or under $48,000 for couples and under about $46,000 for a single person with a disability) will receive the provincial cash. Up to 4,000 others will get no extra money, but will be tracked as a control group.
People with disabilities will receive an additional $500 a month. And the basic income will be reduced by 50 cents for every dollar earned until a participant is no longer financially eligible.
The government won’t say how many have signed up or how many cheques were issued in July and August. But community agencies partnering with the government to raise awareness and help potential participants apply, say few low-income people with application forms have come forward for assistance.
Mackenzie, who heads the Wellesley Institute health think-tank and is director of clinical health equity at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, says this isn’t unusual and that studies of this kind use randomized mail-outs as much for advertising as recruitment.
It helps to get the word out, so when people are tapped in more targeted enrolment efforts, they know something about it, he says.
“If you want to reach more marginalized populations you need a number of different ways of getting people talking about it,” he says.
Last month, provincial officials began setting up open and targeted enrolment sessions in food banks and community agencies in Thunder Bay and Brantford. Lakehead Social Planning Council in Thunder Bay is also reaching out to potential participants over Facebook. Open enrolment sessions will start in Hamilton next week.
The weekly mail-outs have changed to a “less intimidating” one-page letter inviting people to request an application package or visit the government’s basic income website for more information, said Karen Glass, the government’s senior bureaucrat on the file. Reminder postcards are being sent to those who received the initial package. And now, anyone living in the household, including an adult son or daughter — not just the person named on the envelope — will be eligible to apply.
“What we learn from this pilot will help inform our longer-term plans for income security reform,” said Social Services Minister Helena Jaczek and Housing Minister Peter Milczyn, who are jointly leading the project.
“At the same time, we will continue to look for ways to improve social assistance to better support the individuals and families who are relying on this system today,” they added in a joint statement.
Trevor Beecraft, executive director of the Welcome Inn Community Centre, Brantford’s only emergency homeless shelter, hopes the pilot project’s targeted enrolment efforts reach his clients.
“The people we serve have no addresses so those who could potentially benefit the most from the basic income have had no access to the application form,” said Beecraft. The centre’s 36-bed shelter in a local church provided 8,000 sleeps last year and has served 232 individual users so far this year.
“It’s going to be a skewed result if they don’t have the homeless involved in the demographics of their study,” he said.
In addition to having no address, many homeless people lack government-issued identification and most probably haven’t filed their 2016 taxes and won’t have a T1 tax return document needed to verify their income.
“The other barrier for the demographic I work with is literacy . . . . There are a lot of barriers for those who could use this the most.”
Beecraft says the study needs to learn what support homeless people would need if they suddenly saw their incomes jump.
This comes from a greater concern among anti-poverty advocates that if the basic income proves successful for higher functioning people on low-incomes and eventually replaces welfare, services for the most vulnerable would be cut to pay for the change.
“Just because you give them more money doesn’t take away the challenges of mental health or addictions that many of them face,” Beecraft says. “But it would make it much easier for organizations like ours to find them suitable housing that meets their needs.”
Convincing them to apply for the pilot project, however, is another matter, he noted.
Some are afraid to try it because there is no guarantee they will be chosen to get the extra money. Others can’t imagine moving into more secure housing and beginning to live a better life, only to see it taken away when the project ends in three years.
“Everything they would have built up through the pilot would be lost. People with foresight are saying they don’t want to be in that situation, even if they would be better off in the short term,” Beecraft says.
And for others it’s just paranoia. “It is hard for them to trust.”
Thunder Bay resident Taras Harapyuk, who hasn’t worked since 2015 when he fell while lifting a ladder off his truck, received an application package in July and completed it about three weeks ago.
The 57-year-old former heating and fireplace installer, who has been living on about $700 a month in welfare payments, is “praying” he will be among 4,000 chosen to receive the cash.
“I was very happy to get (the application) because I really need temporary help,” he said by phone from his modest bungalow where he has lost heat, hydro and even water due to mounting bills he can no longer pay.
A visiting nurse, who has been helping Harapyuk with pain management after back and shoulder surgery related to his injury, assisted with the application.
“I know how to save. I know how to make money last. It would help me get back on my feet,” he said Friday after a physiotherapy appointment. “I am strong. I never give up. But I just need a little bit of help.”
McKenzie, who is not being paid for his research advice to the government, says the project, believed to be the largest in the world at the moment, is a huge opportunity.
“The people who are part of this basic income pilot are going to be helping Ontario set its course, but also leading Canada and maybe parts of the world in a different way of looking at how to provide securer lives for people in low income,” he said.
“I hope all of the people who sign up will be thinking: Wow. This is big, eh? To be part of history.”
SANTO DOMINGO, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC—The world’s oldest person has died in Jamaica. Violet Brown was 117 years and 189 days old.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness expressed his condolences in a Facebook post, calling her “an inspiring woman.”
The woman known as “Aunt V” died Friday at a local hospital, where she had been treated for heart arrhythmia and dehydration.
With her death, the Gerontology Research Group lists Nabi Tajima of Japan as the oldest surviving person. She was born on Aug. 4, 1900.
Brown was born Violet Moss — or Mosse: Both spellings were sometimes used — on March 10, 1900, and spent much of her life cutting sugar cane near her home in the Duanvale district in western Jamaica.
A biography posted on the website of a foundation named in her honour said she was baptized at age 13 at the Trittonvale Baptist Church and remained a member throughout her life, long serving as organist. She credited her longevity to hard work and her Christian faith.
Her husband, Augustus Brown, died in 1997 and the eldest of her six children died in April at age 97.
In an interview this year with The Associated Press, Brown said she was surprised but grateful to have lived so long.
“This is what God has given me, so I have to take it,” she said.
A 54-year-old real estate agent who was shot and killed Saturday night in a downtown restaurant was targetted by the gunman, Toronto police say.
Simon Giannini was shot multiple times at Michael’s restaurant on Simcoe near Simcoe St. and Adelaide St. W. around 8:50 p.m.
Paramedics rushed him to hospital where he later succumbed to his injuries.
It’s the second shooting at that restaurant in the Entertainment District in the last two years, but police said there’s nothing at this point to indicate that they are connected.
“We are keeping our eyes open and looking at all options,” homicide Det. Shannon Dawson told reporters.
The latest shooting appears to be a targetted incident and Giannini wasn’t known to police, Dawson said.
He was in the company of someone else when he was shot, she said.
“I’m sure it was very frightening for customers,” Dawson said.
The suspect fled west on Pearl St. in a white SUV. Police said he was wearing a hooded jacket covering his face and jogging pants. He is described to be in possession of a black handgun, possibly wearing a dark or grey hoodie.
Witnesses told police they heard four to five shots fired when the shooting took place within the restaurant.
The homicide unit is asking anyone who might have witnessed the shooting to contact police or Crime Stoppers.
With files from Alexandra Jones and Bryann Aguilar