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    PARIS—Four American college students were attacked with acid Sunday at a train station in the French city of Marseille, but French authorities so far do not think extremist views motivated the 41-year-old woman who was arrested as the alleged assailant, the local prosecutor’s office and the students’ school said.

    Boston College, a private Jesuit university in Massachusetts, said in a statement Sunday that the four female students were treated for burns at a Marseille hospital after they were sprayed in the face with acid on Sunday morning. The statement said the four all were juniors studying abroad, three of them at the college’s Paris program.

    “It appears that the students are fine, considering the circumstances, though they may require additional treatment for burns,” Nick Gozik, who directs Boston College’s Office of International Programs. “We have been in contact with the students and their parents and remain in touch with French officials and the U.S. Embassy regarding the incident.”

    Police in France described the suspect as “disturbed” and said the attack was not thought at this point to be terror-related, according the university’s statement.

    The Paris prosecutor’s office said earlier Sunday that its counter-terrorism division had decided for the time being not to assume jurisdiction for investigating the attack. The prosecutor’s office in the capital, which has responsibility for all terror-related cases in France, did not explain the reasoning behind the decision.

    A spokesperson for the Marseille prosecutor’s office told The Associated Press in a telephone call that the suspect did not make any extremist threats or declarations during the late morning attack at the city’s Saint Charles train station. She said there were no obvious indications that the woman’s actions were terror-related.

    The spokesperson spoke on condition of anonymity, per the custom of the French judicial system. She said all four of the victims were in their 20s and treated at a hospital, two of them for shock. The suspect was taken into police custody.

    Boston College identified the students as Courtney Siverling, Charlotte Kaufman, Michelle Krug and Kelsey Kosten.

    The Marseille fire department was alerted just after 11 a.m. and dispatched four vehicles and 14 firefighters to the train station, a department spokeswoman said.

    Two of the Americans were “slightly injured” with acid but did not require emergency medical treatment from medics at the scene, the spokesperson said. She requested anonymity in keeping with fire department protocol.

    A person with knowledge of the investigation said the suspect had a history of mental health problems but no apparent past links to extremism. The person was not authorized to be publicly named speaking about the investigation. Regional newspaper La Provence said the assailant remained at the site of the attack without trying to flee.

    A spokesperson for the United States embassy in Paris said the U.S. consulate in Marseille was in contact with French authorities.

    U.S. authorities in France are not immediately commenting on what happened to protect the privacy of the American tourists, embassy spokesman Alex Daniels said.

    Marseille is a port city in southern France that is closer to Barcelona than Paris.

    In previous incidents in Marseille, a driver deliberately rammed into two bus stops last month, killing a woman, but officials said it wasn’t terror-related.

    In April, French police said they thwarted an imminent “terror attack” and arrested two suspected radicals in Marseille just days before the first round of France’s presidential election. Paris prosecutor Francois Molins told reporters the two suspects “were getting ready to carry out an imminent, violent action.”

    In January 2016, a 15-year-old Turkish Kurd was arrested after attacking a Jewish teacher on a Marseille street. He told police he acted in the name of Daesh, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

    Read more: Terrorism doesn’t pay in Marseille, but organized crime does

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    HAMILTON—For federal New Democrats, this exercise is not about winning.

    Oh, there were lots of calls about winning in 2019 as leadership candidates delivered their final pitches here Sunday.

    First, they have to yet again find relevance. Loftier aspirations will have to wait.

    As online voting begins in the NDP leadership race Monday, it is useful to recall how far this party has tumbled in five years. When party members gathered in Toronto in March 2012, they believed they had convened to choose a leader who would take the last, final step for the late Jack Layton and form government for the first time in its history.

    The 2015 defeat stung the faithful. It led to lapsed party memberships. It sapped enthusiasm. It led to a stunning repudiation of leader Tom Mulcair, who was then allowed to hang around too long.

    And it has led to a party that lost its energy, its fire and, ultimately that relevancy.

    Read more:

    The four candidates who would lead the NDP

    Jack Layton led the NDP to a breakthrough, but can any of the four leadership candidates recreate the Orange Wave?

    Why Jagmeet Singh towers over his NDP rivals: Cohn

    Now, Jagmeet Singh, Charlie Angus, Guy Caron or Niki Ashton must put this party back on the map.

    Sunday in Hamilton the quartet made their final appeal in a room that only sporadically erupted in anything beyond a mid-afternoon torpor.

    There is no reliable polling to determine a winner in a race that could be decided as early as Oct. 1 or as late as Oct. 15, depending on the number of ballots needed.

    But by the metrics available, membership sales and money raised— and more importantly, buzz generated, viral videos and social media use that combines humour with panache — Singh does appear to be a front-runner.

    The Bramalea-Gore-Malton MPP has already delivered for the party. One can only imagine the lack of coverage and interest there would be for a party that desperately needs some attention had Singh not entered the race.

    As one senior caucus member told me, Singh offers the “biggest risk, biggest reward.”

    He offers the party a chance to compete in regions where it never has federally — such as the crucial 905 belt — and where it must return if it can plot power again, like the city of Toronto.

    Singh promises growth. Backers believe he will grow personally as he moves from provincial to federal politics. They also believe he will grow the party with fresh membership.

    Mention the NDP leadership race to those of us who do not live in the political world, and you get a lot of blank stares. Those same people, however, know Singh.

    His opponents believe if he cannot win on the first ballot, he cannot grow.

    Angus has worked assiduously to court second-choice support. Caron’s team believes he can finish third, stay on the ballot and grow his support because the Quebec MP has run a strong campaign. Ashton, the only one of the four making a second bid at leadership, has run the most unabashedly leftist campaign and has built perhaps the youngest core of supporters. She has also won union support and is a much more formidable campaigner than the Ashton of 2012.

    She could surprise. If she is the first to drop off the ballot, however, her backers are expected to split three ways.

    This party faces myriad challenges at this point, midterm of the Justin Trudeau government. It will be trying to find its way back in 2019 on Trudeau’s turf.

    It needs to find that relevancy in Quebec again and this is a tough road for any of the four, not just the turbaned Singh.

    The party sold 124,000 memberships during this race, but a mere 4,907 of them were sold in Quebec, about half the total sold during the 2012 race.

    It allowed itself to be outmanoeuvred by Trudeau on traditional left-of-centre issues and has largely been rudderless for 16 months.

    But it has enormous opportunity as well.

    Halfway through his term, Trudeau has given the NDP an opening to exploit on electoral reform, a campaign promise broken; Indigenous reconciliation, a campaign promise undelivered; and the environment, where the Trudeau policy on pipelines is coming up against NDP opposition in British Columbia.

    When there was excitement in the room Sunday, it was provided by Singh, who also was fortuitously given the final speaking spot, which he used to end the day parading offstage with chanting supporters and raucous drummers.

    This is a party with several steps ahead in its comeback. It has to get noticed.

    Jagmeet Singh always gets noticed.

    Tim Harper writes on national affairs. He can be reached at or Twitter: @nutgraf1

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    We were birds on a wire, crows jostling for gawking space inside the practice rink of the Lillehammer Olympics.

    Here, for the first time since The Incident — as the infamous knee-whack against Nancy Kerrigan is defined in the new movie I, Tonya, presented as a fake doc biopic — were the two protagonists from one of the biggest scandals in sports history, together on the ice.

    Studiously ignoring one another, even as they skated by each other.

    Very much looking the parts they’d already assumed in sports lore: Kerrigan, after removing her warm-up top, in a delicate lacy ensemble; Tonya Harding, badass, in a splashy leotard.

    Reporters took note. Lots of notes.

    Even then, at those 1994 Olympics, before all the sordid details were revealed by an FBI investigation — and some of the facts are still unclear more than two decades later — there was enough of a known back story to fill in the tabloid tableau.

    Harding was white trash, as scuzzy as her untameable bangs, her garish home-sewn costumes, her foul mouth, her entire disreputable narrative: The Outcast.

    Kerrigan was all class and chic, evoking a luminous young Katharine Hepburn with the angled cheekbones and lithe silhouette, her elegant costumes designed by Vera Wang: The Ice Princess.

    How eagerly we succumbed to the handy tropes.

    Awaiting the cat fight that never unfolded.

    Only seven weeks had passed since a then-unknown assailant had taken a metal baton to Kerrigan’s knee, leaving her crumpled in the corridor of a Detroit rink, wailing: WHYWHYWHY?!?!?! And that bewildered lament, even in pre-social media days — but captured by a TV crew — became a satirized screech.

    “People made such a big deal and almost, like complaining, why would I say that?” Kerrigan told ABC earlier this year. “Well, after getting attacked you don’t know what you’re going to say. But I think it’s a reasonable question. Like, Why did this just happen? What happened? Like, why?”

    It happened, as the world now knows, because a clot of bumbling thugs — on the lowest rung of goonery — had hatched a scheme to eliminate rival Kerrigan from the U.S. figure skating championships and thus the upcoming Winter Games, all in aid of advancing Harding’s gold medal chances. (Kerrigan was given one of two team spots anyway on merit, with Harding, and recovered in time to compete.)

    All of this is told in faux documentary style in I, Tonya, a rollicking film that was the critical darling at the Toronto International Film Festival, with very much a Tonya-centric point of view.

    She was always the more compelling character in this Grand Guignol pas de deux on ice, the redneck renegade high school dropout, a skating savant from the wrong side of the tracks with the monster mom — stage mother from hell, LaVona, depicted with wicked chain-smoking bite by Allison Janney in the movie — and the violent ex-husband who initiated “The Whack Heard Around the World,” though he still insists the plot was supposed to involve nothing more than threatening letters to Kerrigan.

    A complete loser was Jeff Gillooly and his moron conspiracy theorist sidekick, Shawn Eckhardt, who hired the clubbing assailants. Yet Harding, a tough broad who often gave as good as she got, kept going back to him, despite blackened eyes and a gun pointed at her face. This was the reality, the norm, she’d known all her life. The people who loved you hurt you.

    She was never loved in the bitchy world of elite figure skating. She was vulgar and tawdry. Judges rarely rewarded her with the scores she deserved as a superb figure skater, one of only two women — at that time — to ever cleanly land a triple Axel jump in competition. I, Tonya makes a rightfully huge deal about this, though it was Japan’s Midori Ito who’d done it first, most notably at the 1989 World Championships and the ’92 Olympics.

    But no American had ever pulled it off on the international stage.

    Harding was a far more powerful skater than Kerrigan, more athletic, built like a fire plug. But Kerrigan embodied the qualities that then, and even now, are preferred in a figure skating universe that promotes ideals of femininity: gracefulness, charm, beauty, the whole phoney fairytale. Pretty girls in pretty boxes.

    I, Tonya, with its black humour, rips the chiffon and bugle beads off that charade too.

    Margot Robbie, as Harding, is a revelation, plumbing the depths of an unapologetic anti-heroine. Audiences might not like her, but they will come closer to understanding her pathology. The movie argues she was never part of the plot against Kerrigan, though Harding did ultimately plead guilty to conspiring to hinder prosecution — helping to cover it up.

    She was fined $100,000, stripped of her 1994 U.S. title and barred from ever competing again as a figure skater, anywhere. It was excessively cruel, that ban.

    In retrospect, I, Tonya is also an indictment of us, the media, during what was then the dawning of the 24/7 media cycle, the gobsmacking scandal cranked for all it was worth in the lead-up to a Games where CBS devoted 40 per cent of its 120-hour coverage to figure skating.

    Harding was the most famous athlete on the planet. We giddily chronicled every moment of her rise and fall and fall.

    I’ve gone back and read those stories, mine included, with a professional cringe. How we rendered the principal players as almost cartoon figures, good against evil, the virtue of Kerrigan versus the coarseness of Harding, paragon and outlaw, poodle and pit bull.

    Robbie, as Harding, calls us out — how she went from abusive upbringing to abusive spouse to abusive mythmakers.

    “Nancy gets hit one time and the whole world (expletive),” she says in the film. “For me, it’s an everyday occurrence.”

    But the melodramas just kept on coming.

    Those old enough to remember Lillehammer will recall the evening of the free skate, when Harding, after sucking on her asthma aspirator, rushed onto the ice with a torn skate lace. Barely into her program, she came to a tearful stop, skated to the judges’ panel and propped her leg on the board, begging for a do-over. Which she was given. Didn’t matter. A mess of nerves and stress, Harding popped her triple Axel and finished eighth.

    Kerrigan copped silver in a slim — 4 to 5 in first placement marks — verdict by the judges. Visibly glum on the podium, standing just below gold medallist Oksana Baiul from Ukraine.

    And the aftermath?

    Oskana sank into alcoholism, drunkenly crashing her car into a tree three years later.

    Kerrigan battled an eating disorder. Just this past season, she was an (eliminated) contestant on Dancing With the Stars.

    Harding became a sideshow celebrity pugilist.

    “Why not?” she shrugs in I, Tonya.

    She’d been a punching bag all her life.

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    OTTAWA—A jousting match erupted Monday between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer as the Liberal government’s plan to end “unfair” tax advantages for some wealthy small business owners dominated the return of Parliament.

    As they exchanged blows, the two leaders gave what is likely a preview of the themes that will underlie their respective election campaigns in 2019 as each tries to position himself as the champion of the middle class.

    Scheer kicked off the first question period of the fall sitting by accusing Trudeau of hiking taxes on hard-working, middle-class small business owners, including farmers, mechanics, fishers and, particularly, female entrepreneurs who, he asserted, won’t be able to afford to take maternity leave.

    “As Conservatives, we believe in raising people up, not tearing people down,” Scheer said. “Conservatives wake up every day trying to think of new ways to lower taxes. Liberals wake up every day trying to find new ways to raise taxes.”

    The new Tory leader, who took over the post in May, vowed that the “pain will only be temporary,” promising that Conservatives would fight the proposed tax changes “every step of the way” and “save local businesses.”

    Trudeau countered by accusing Scheer of siding with the wealthiest Canadians at the expense of their truly middle-class counterparts.

    “(Conservatives) have been going around the country telling every doctor they meet that they stand with them, that they will defend their right to pay lower taxes than the nurses who work alongside them,” the prime minister said.

    “We don’t think that’s fair.”

    Trudeau even went on the offensive, urging Scheer to commit “right now” to reversing the Liberals’ proposed changes and restoring the current system of “tax breaks for wealthy individuals” if they win the next election.

    Read more:

    Tone-deaf rollout of Liberal tax reforms a lesson in how good ideas go sour: Editorial

    Trudeau government stands firm on tax changes

    Why Bill Morneau’s tax reform plan is politically necessary: Walkom

    Scheer did not oblige, prompting Trudeau to accuse the Tories of peddling misinformation to stoke outrage but without any intention of actually undoing the proposed changes.

    “They’re happy to talk about outrage but they’re not proposing to keep this (current) system,” Trudeau said. “They invent problems, exaggerate them and then won’t act because they know that helping middle-class Canadians matters.”

    While the Tories and Liberals battled it out, New Democrats did not ask one question Monday about the tax changes.

    But, in an echo of the 2015 election when the NDP was essentially squeezed out by a Liberal campaign that seemed more progressive, Finance Minister Bill Morneau called out New Democrats — normally champions of reducing income inequality — for supporting “continued tax advantages for the wealthiest Canadians.”

    In a letter to three New Democrat MPs, Morneau said he’s surprised and disappointed that they are opposed to his tax changes.

    He noted that his proposals are supported by a number of organizations with which the NDP would ordinarily be aligned — the Canadian Labour Congress, the Canadian Nurses Association, Canadians for Tax Fairness, the Canadian Association of Social Workers, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Broadbent Institute.

    The current tax system allows someone earning $300,000 to use a private corporation “to save about as much as the average Canadian earns in a year,” Morneau wrote.

    “This leads to situations where an incorporated doctor can be taxed at a lower rate than a nurse practitioner or police officer.”

    His letter was in response to a letter sent to Morneau on Sept. 7 by Windsor-area MPs Brian Masse, Cheryl Hardcastle and Tracey Ramsey, in which the trio of New Democrats urge the finance minister to “heed the voices” of doctors, dentists, orthopedists and others who are vehemently opposed to the proposed tax changes.

    They urge Morneau to “reconsider” his proposals and concentrate instead on “tax cheats” who hoard their money in illegal offshore accounts, robbing the federal treasury of some $6 billion per year.

    Morneau said the government is in “listening mode” as consultations on the proposed changes continue until Oct. 2 and said he wants to hear from New Democrats and their constituents if they believe the changes will inadvertently hurt middle-class families.

    “I can assure you that our focus is on ensuring the wealthiest do not get tax advantages over and above what is available to other Canadians — and I would have hoped to count on your support on such a crucial issue of fairness and equity.”

    In the House of Commons, Morneau also vowed to ensure women are not disproportionately impacted by the changes.

    The proposed changes have raised the ire of doctors, lawyers, tax planners and other small business owners who’ve used incorporation to reduce their income tax burden.

    They would restrict the ability of incorporated business owners to lower their tax rate by sprinkling income to family members who do no work for the business. They’d also limit the use of private corporations to make passive investments in things like stocks or real estate and limit the ability to convert a corporation’s regular income into capital gains taxed at a lower rate.

    The Canadian Medical Association and provincial medical societies have spearheaded opposition to the reforms, contending among other things that they’ll result in doctors moving to the United States.

    The controversy has also galvanized the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, which took to the air Monday by enlisting a small airplane to buzz the skies over Ottawa, trailing a banner that read, “No Small Biz Tax Hike.”

    Despite the opposition, more than 300 doctors across the country have put their signatures on an open letter to Morneau in support of the reforms. They argue that the changes will promote tax fairness and give the government more money to spend on health care.

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    OTTAWA—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau threatened Monday to scrap his government’s planned purchase of Boeing Super Hornet fighter jets in direct retaliation for the U.S. company’s trade complaint against Bombardier.

    Flanked by British Prime Minister Theresa May, who had expressed fears that jobs at a Bombardier plant in Northern Ireland could be hit by Boeing’s trade actions against the Canadian company, Trudeau upped the ante in the increasingly bitter trade dispute with the United States.

    “We have obviously been looking at the Super Hornet aircraft from Boeing as a potential significant procurement of our new fighter jets,” said Trudeau.

    “But we won’t do business with a company that’s busy trying to sue us and put our aerospace workers out of business.”

    The ultimatum to Boeing comes as the U.S. Department of Commerce is expected to rule next week on the Boeing complaint. The Liberal government last week said Boeing walked out of talks to resolve the commercial dispute.

    Trudeau’s threat came moments after May lent her support to Canada. May said she raised her concerns about what she and Trudeau believe is an unfair trade move against Bombardier in a call last week with President Donald Trump. The British PM said she intends to raise the issue again when she meets Trump at the United Nations in New York this week.

    “I will be impressing upon him the significance of Bombardier to the United Kingdom and particularly, obviously, to Northern Ireland. And we have discussed today how we can work together to see a resolution of this issue which, from my point of view, I want to see a resolution that protects those jobs in Northern Ireland,” May told reporters.

    Trudeau and May agreed to work toward a “seamless transition” to a new trade deal between Canada and the U.K. after Britain negotiates its exit from the European Union.

    Both said the Canada-European Trade Agreement (CETA), which takes effect this week and lifts 98 per cent of tariffs and other trade barriers between Canada and the European Union, would provide the basis for future Canada-U.K. trade relations.

    Trudeau said the U.K., which is Canada’s largest trading partner in Europe, is a signatory to the CETA and he is confident any new arrangement will keep “the essence of CETA applicable to the U.K..”

    Britain is barred by European law from negotiating other trade deals with non-EU countries in the interim, and neither leader would say if they agreed to formal talks. However, May said “we will be having a working group which obviously will be looking at the details of how that will, how that transition will operate in detail.”

    But trade irritants south of the border dominated. Trudeau condemned Boeing, saying its motivation for launching the trade complaint against Bombardier is “extremely narrow” and “for trade-related reasons linked to their own profits.”

    “That’s not the way the world should operate.”

    In a statement Monday, Bombardier piled on. It accused Boeing of “pure hypocrisy” and “self-serving actions” that threaten thousands of jobs and billions in contracts with suppliers in the U.S. and the U.K. The Montreal-based company said Boeing’s move threatens to add “an indirect tax on the U.S. flying public through unjustified import tariffs.”

    The Trudeau government vowed during the 2015 campaign it would not buy expensive F-35 aircraft to replace Canada’s aging F-18s, and it said last year Ottawa would look to buy 18 Super Hornets — produced by Boeing — to meet Canada’s military obligations while it restarts the competition to find a long-term replacement.

    However, after Delta Air Lines agreed to purchase the Bombardier C-Series planes for its passenger fleet, Boeing filed a formal complaint with the U.S. Commerce Department. It challenges support from Ottawa and the Quebec government for Bombardier’s C-series passenger jet program as unfair trade subsidies.

    The Canadian aerospace company said Monday it “shares Boeing’s commitment to a level playing field, but in this case, they were not even on the field.” It said Delta ordered the C-Series “because Boeing stopped making an aircraft of the size Delta needed years ago. It is pure hypocrisy for Boeing to say that the C-Series launch pricing is a ‘violation of global trade law’ when Boeing does the same for its new aircraft.”

    Conservative defence critic James Bezan said Trudeau’s rhetoric is inflammatory, unhelpful and that the government should simply get on with an open competition and buy new planes. Bezan admitted that in government, the Conservatives wanted to buy the Lockheed Martin F-35 because, he said, that’s what the military wanted and it would be interoperable with Canada’s allies who were also flying F-35s. Bezan said it was “a rational decision” at the time, but the party’s position has shifted.

    “We don’t have a preferred option; we just say have the competition and have it now,” Bezan said. “If the government is saying Boeing is no longer a trusted partner then we should go to the competition and find a trusted partner.”

    NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said he agreed that Boeing is “acting in bad faith” but he mocked Trudeau’s rhetoric, saying the Liberal government has not signed any deal, and so has nothing to scrap or hold over the Americans.

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    Following repeated delays to the TTC’s streetcar order with Bombardier, the transit agency is asking other companies if they’re interested in supplying Toronto’s next batch of vehicles.

    Last Tuesdaythe TTC issued an official request for information (RFI) in order to “gauge market interest and capabilities of potential suppliers” to deliver up to 100 new streetcars.

    TTC spokesperson Stuart Green said the RFI isn’t an indication that the agency has decided to go with another company for its next purchase, and asserted the request was “strictly part of our planning to best understand how we can address our long term needs.”

    Read more:

    Not in service: Inside Bombardier’s delayed streetcar deliveries

    Past delivery delays tank Bombardier’s bid for New York City subway contract

    Bombardier shipped unfinished streetcars to Toronto and then finished them here in order to meet delivery targets

    “No decision has been made,” he said.

    The TTC is in the midst of taking delivery of a $1-billion, 204-vehicle order from Bombardier, but the Quebec-based company has fallen far behind the original delivery schedule.

    The contract has an option for additional cars, and the TTC has considered exercising it and buying an extra 60 vehicles once the first batch of 204 is delivered.

    However, as Bombardier’s production problems mounted, the TTC board directed the agency to seek out potential alternate suppliers.

    According to Green, the agency expects that it will need to start deploying additional streetcars around 2023 or 2024 to keep up with ridership growth. In order to have the vehicles available by then, the TTC will have to choose a supplier by the end of next year.

    The RFI closes November 14. As of Thursday seven companies had downloaded the information package from the public sector procurement website, Green said.

    A spokesperson for Bombardier said the company is among those that plans to take part in the RFI.

    “This will give us an opportunity to show that we are the only manufacturer on the market to already have a vehicle that is designed to the specific needs of the TTC, and an established production line geared towards such a project,” wrote Marc-André Lefebvre in an email.

    He said that Bombardier would also continue discussions with the TTC to exercise the option in the existing contract, which he asserted would be cheaper for taxpayers than placing a new order with another company.

    Under the terms of the original contract, in order to be guaranteed a lower price on additional Bombardier cars, the TTC must decide whether to pick up the option by the time the company delivers the 60th vehicle. That could happen before the end of the year.

    Green said the TTC is talking with Bombardier about pushing the decision date back “so that we have more time to assess the situation.”

    An official with Siemens said the company is “very interested” in the TTC’s request.

    “We’re currently reviewing the RFI and will make a decision as to whether to participate in the coming weeks,” said Patrick O’Neill, vice president of mobility at Siemens Canada Limited. The company has already won contracts to manufacture light rail vehicles for Seattle, Minneapolis, and San Diego.

    A spokesperson for Alstom, which earlier this year secured a $528-million vehicle contract from regional transit agency Metrolinx, didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

    The TTC placed the initial order with Bombardier in 2009. The company was supposed to have supplied close to 150 vehicles by the end of this year, but has since slashed the year-end target to just 70 vehicles. The TTC currently has 44 of the cars on its property.

    In July, the company warned the TTC that it may not meet even the reduced 2017 target due to what it described as a “short-term” production issue.

    Bombardier says it is “deploying extraordinary resources” to hit delivery goals and is still on track to complete all 204 streetcars by the original 2019 deadline.

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    Torontonians will finally see full-time traffic wardens on city streets in early 2018, Mayor John Tory announced Monday as part of his continuing campaign to battle congestion.

    “I’m hopeful that they’re wearing a bright orange coat, or a bright green coat or something so people will clearly see who they are and what they are and what they’re there to do,” Tory said standing in Nathan Phillips Square during the morning rush hour.

    The province has agreed to make the necessary changes under the Highway Traffic Act that will authorize officers other than police to manage pedestrian and car traffic on city streets, and, if needed, around construction sites.

    The move is a long time coming.

    For years, critics, including the mayor, have questioned why highly paid and trained police officers should receive lucrative paid-duty assignments to direct traffic.

    Read more:

    Three or more unpaid parking tickets? You could be towed

    Why traffic jams are a good thing: Hume

    Toronto Star Deadly Streets series

    In 2016, city staff released a report that said lesser-paid special constables, not just police officers, should be permitted to direct traffic.

    “Police powers should not be a prerequisite for directing traffic,” said the report. “Other persons with appropriate training could fulfill the function safely in a more cost-effective manner.”

    While waiting for provincial approval, Tory initiated a pilot program using paid-duty police officers to go to key intersections experiencing bottlenecks.

    The pilot project was a success, Tory said.

    “We found a minimum of 90-per-cent reduction in intersection blockage by vehicles and a 70-per-cent reduction in intersection blockage by pedestrians.”

    The mayor announced other measures Monday, which coincided with the Toronto Police Service’s heightened rush-hour enforcement campaign.

    The days of utility trucks blocking lanes of traffic during the day for non-emergency work, “are over,” Tory said. “We cannot have non-emergency work . . . being done at a time when it’s going to cause this city to grind to a halt.”

    The mayor said he will be meeting with the officials of Toronto Hydro, gas and telecom companies to discuss confining non-emergency work requiring lane closures to off-peak hours, 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

    The city will also create two “quick-clear squads” that will monitor traffic lanes along key downtown corridors, the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway, and make sure they’re not blocked.

    The traffic operation centre will dispatch these teams to locations where there are reports of lanes being blocked.

    “We will have these two squads that will be watching for cars that are blocking these lanes, often times because of a collision, or because of stalled cars, and get them out of there, so they don’t block the traffic,” Tory said.

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    Sean Spicer must be thrilled to discover you can sell your soul and not pay a thing.

    At the Emmy Awards on Sunday night, Donald Trump’s former press secretary made a surprise cameo and added new scenes to his ongoing redemption tale. The reaction shots inside the Microsoft Theater mirrored the facial expressions of viewers at home: a mix of disbelief and skittish laughter.

    Anna Chlumsky, who stars in Veep, twisted in her chair as her jaw cranked open like a largemouth bass trying to swallow an escaping sunfish. Melissa McCarthy, who just won an Emmy for her portrayal of Spicer on Saturday Night Live, looked more baffled than amused, like she couldn’t quite believe the loathsome subject of her gonzo takedowns was now granted permission to be in on the joke.

    Read more:

    Sean Spicer says he regrets berating reporters over Trump’s inauguration crowd size claim, which was a lie

    Five highlights from the Emmy Awards (other than The Handmaid’s Tale)

    Sean Spicer thanks Trump for the ‘honour of a lifetime’ in his farewell email

    “This will be the largest audience to witness an Emmys — period! — both in person and around the world,” Spicer advised host Stephen Colbert, gamely mocking his debut press conference in the White House in which he excoriated the media while lying about the size of Trump’s inauguration crowd.

    This was the new Spicer normalizing the old Spicer with air cover provided by an entertainment industry that, not so long ago, viewed him as an enemy combatant in a war on democracy. This was Spicer getting a richly undeserved pass in prime time and moving forward without ever having to look back.

    It was Hollywood hypocrisy at its most breathtaking.

    On a night in which anti-Trump sentiment laced the monologue and several trophies were bestowed on celebrities who made their bones last year attacking the U.S. president — including Alec Baldwin for his impersonation on SNL— the decision to turn Spicer into a sight gag and give him a literal podium on stage amounted to a surrender of any moral high ground.

    The glitterati who now bang on about how Trump is an existential threat whispered the secret handshake to his former mouthpiece. They welcomed Spicer into their world without so much as a sideways glance.

    The message was clear: this bumbling enabler of state disinformation, this bête noire who once couldn’t be trusted to accurately tell you what he had for breakfast, was no longer radioactive.

    Sure, he committed sins. Sure, his attacks on the free press and reality were appalling. But if those transgressions can now be converted into ratings gold or viral clips, extend a VIP invite because all is forgiven and forgotten.

    “People in the business and the average person is very grateful for (Spicer) to have a sense of humour and participate,” Baldwin told reporters backstage. “Spicer obviously was compelled to do certain things that we might not have respected, we might not have admired, we might have been super critical of in order to do his job. But I’ve done some jobs that are things that you shouldn’t admire or respect me for either. He and I have that in common.”

    Right. This delusion — that Spicer was just following orders when he tortured the truth on behalf of the most powerful man on earth — is something Spicer himself told Jimmy Kimmel a few days ago. It will no doubt become a mantra in the days ahead when he becomes a visiting fellow at Harvard or wows audiences who pay big bucks to hear him as a member of the Worldwide Speakers Group.

    But atop a trash heap of lies, it is yet another lie.

    If Spicer looked down and said, “Hey, your laces are untied,” there’d be a 99 per cent you were not even wearing shoes. This compulsive dishonesty, an affliction shared by every bootlicking enabler to orbit Trump, does not stem from extenuating circumstance or forced patriotic duty.

    It is a reflection of character.

    Spicer was not “compelled to do certain things,” as Baldwin wrongly insists. Spicer did these things — and, indeed, would still be doing them — because he feared no consequence. He sold his soul during a cynical auction and power play believing a celebrity-obsessed culture would give him a new one if needed.

    His Emmy appearance proves he was right.

    This is also what makes Sunday’s normalization so abhorrent. If Sean Spicer can get a high-five from the celebrities who were loudest in condemning him, Trump’s inner circle should be all smiles today. Who knows, maybe Kellyanne Conway can become a judge on the reboot of American Idol when she leaves The Trump Show. Maybe Stephen Miller can rehab his image as a correspondent on The Daily Show, where viewers will be encouraged to see his white power rants as self-deprecating satire.

    The redemption tale is a longstanding Hollywood trope.

    But even in a town where notoriety is often indistinguishable from celebrity, in a place where fame exists in a moral vacuum, the embrace of Spicer as a “get” shows just how much Hollywood still does not get it.

    They flipped their own script and turned a demon into a folk hero just to get people talking.

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    Ontario will have a “zero tolerance” policy toward young drivers and truckers who use marijuana.

    Premier Kathleen Wynne on Monday said those 21 and under, commercial drivers, and novice motorists will face stiffer penalties if caught behind the wheel while under the influence of cannabis or booze.

    Following the lead of eight U.S. states that have legalized marijuana — including Colorado, Washington, and California — Wynne said road safety will be a priority once recreational weed is allowed after next July 1.

    “We had a goal to balance the new freedom that people in Ontario will have to use cannabis recreationally with everyone’s expectation that it will be managed responsibly,” the premier said.

    Recreational marijuana will only be sold here by the government in standalone LCBO-run stores — 40 in July, rising to 150 in 2020 — or online.

    The province is using the impending legalization as an opportunity to also beef up drinking-and-driving penalities — with an eye on young motorists.

    “We saw that in eight U.S. states where cannabis is legal those states have matched the legal age for using cannabis with the legal age for drinking alcohol — and so with that consultation under our belt we decided to move forward with that same model setting the age at 19,” she said.

    Similarly, the penalties for marijuana-impaired motoring will be modelled on drunk-driving laws.

    Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca said it’s necessary to “introduce harsher consequences for those who choose to drive while impaired” — by drugs or alcohol.

    For a first offence, young drivers — and all G1, G2, M1, and M2 licence holders — will face a three-day suspension and a $250 fine.

    A second will result in a week-long suspension and a $350 fine with all subsequent occurrences penalized with a 30-day suspension and a $450 fine.

    Similarly, commercial drivers will face three-day suspensions any time they are caught and fined up to $450.

    All other drivers found to be within the blood-alcohol concentrate range of between .05 and .08 will face suspensions of between three and 30 days and fines of up to $450.

    Those with blood-alcohol concentrate levels above .08 face a 90-day suspension and $550 fines.

    “All of these measures are in addition to federal criminal charges for impaired driving, which ultimately could result in a loss of licence, additional fines, or jail time,” said Del Duca.

    “Let me be clear: driving while impaired is not acceptable and will not be tolerated,” he said.

    MADD Canada’s Andrew Murie noted that “by far cannabis is the leading drug when it comes to road fatalities when drugs are present.”

    “So there are lot of things we need to do,” said Murie, adding he was hopeful upcoming oral-fluid road tests would help discourage marijuana use by drivers.

    The tests, which examine THC levels in saliva, still must be approved by the federal government and it’s unclear how effective they will be in cold weather. Most U.S. jurisdictions use blood tests.

    Progressive Conservative MPP Michael Harris (Kitchener-Conestoga) said the government will “need to provide police with the needed resources to keep our streets safe.”

    Harris noted the Ontario Provincial Police has estimated it will need up to 500 specially trained officers to enforce the law. Currently, only 83 are trained to recognize drug-impaired driving.

    “The Ontario PCs will continue to listen and consult with law enforcement, public health, and community groups on this issue. We can’t afford to not get this one right,” he said.

    Ontario Trucking Association president Stephen Laskowski said the government’s moves “are a very positive first step.”

    “Historically when you compare commercial drivers to the general population it’s always much lower in commercial drivers,” said Laskowski.

    “So what this does today is make sure the historical level of excellence we have in this area, we have it moving forward post-July 1, 2018,” he said.

    Read more: LCBO to run 150 marijuana stores

    Ontario prepping reefer awareness campaign on the dangers of marijuana as legalization date approaches

    Poll says Ontarians are high on government control of marijuana retailing

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    Former prime minister Brian Mulroney is shaking the trees to help Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown topple Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals next year.

    Mulroney, in government from 1984 to 1993, sent out a fundraising letter to would-be donors on Monday that highlighted his green credentials as he appealed for their green.

    “Ontario needs Patrick Brown and new leadership,” he wrote, noting his missive came 33 years and one day after he was sworn in as prime minister.

    “During my time in office, I’m proud of what our Progressive Conservatives accomplished. We built a stronger economy and created a cleaner, healthier environment for Canadians to live in. And I’m especially proud we did both at the same time,” continued Mulroney.

    “You see, the economy and the environment aren’t mutually exclusive. Good economic policy and good environmental policy go hand-in-hand. Many believe this can’t be the case. Yet my government brought in a free trade agreement and an acid rain treaty with the United States,” he said.

    “The former is a reason why Canada is now among the most prosperous nations on Earth, the latter is a reason why I was voted Canada’s greenest prime minister in history.”

    Mulroney — whose daughter, Caroline, will be the Tory candidate in York-Simcoe in the June 7, 2018 election — pointed out “Patrick shares my vision for pragmatic, progressive conservatism.”

    “It’s why I’m proud to support him in his mission to form a PC government in 2018. I’m asking you to support him, too,” he said, urging people to donate between $25 and $100 to the campaign.

    “Every dollar will help bring new leadership for Ontario in 2018.”

    While Mulroney is a controversial figure in some circles due to past problems, he is well-respected among Tories for his tax reforms, environmental work, and for being a leader in the fight against South Africa’s racist apartheid policies.

    Long a mentor to Brown, he confirmed to the Star last year that they are old friends.

    Walied Soliman, the PC campaign chair, said Mulroney’s imprimatur is important to Brown.

    “It was Brian Mulroney’s principled stand on acid rain and his leadership on free trade that drew Patrick Brown into politics. This makes Mr. Mulroney’s endorsement of Patrick’s leadership so meaningful,” said Soliman.

    “While we look to building a brighter future for Ontario with his daughter Caroline running under the PC banner, we will look to the past service of the former prime minister as an important example of leadership on the economy and environment that are as important today as ever.”

    While Brown is awaiting his party’s November convention in Toronto to roll out the Tories’ environmental plans, he said last week that “climate change is man-made and we have to do our part.”

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    SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO—Hurricane Maria grew into an extremely dangerous Category 4 storm Monday as it barrelled toward a potentially devastating collision with islands in the eastern Caribbean, and forecasters warned it was likely to become even stronger.

    The storm’s eye was expected to pass near Dominica later in the day on a path that would take it near many of the islands already wrecked by Hurricane Irma and then on toward a possible direct strike on Puerto Rico on Wednesday.

    “This storm promises to be catastrophic for our island,” said Ernesto Morales with the U.S. National Weather Service in San Juan. “All of Puerto Rico will experience hurricane force winds.”

    The U.S. territory imposed rationing of basic supplies including water, milk, baby formula, canned food, batteries and flashlights.

    The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Maria had maximum sustained winds of 215 km/h in late afternoon. It was centred about 55 kilometres northeast of Martinique and 70 kilometres east-southeast of Dominica, and was heading west-northwest at 15 km/h.

    The centre said Maria would likely continue to gain strength for the next 24 hours or longer and could reach Category 5 status with winds reaching 250 kph. “Maria is developing the dreaded pinhole eye,” it noted.

    That’s a sign of an extremely strong hurricane likely to get even mightier, said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy. Just like when a spinning ice skater brings in their arms and rotates faster, a smaller, tighter eye shows the same physics, he said.

    Maria’s eye shrank to a small 16 kilometres in diameter.

    “You just don’t see those in weaker hurricanes,” McNoldy said. “It’s cranking up the angular momentum.”

    Hurricane warnings were posted for the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guadeloupe, Dominica, St. Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat and Martinique. A tropical storm warning was issued for Antigua and Barbuda, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, St. Lucia and Anguilla.

    Forecasters said storm surge could raise water levels by 1.8 to 2.7 metres near the storm’s centre. The storm was predicted to bring 25 to 38 centimetres of rain across the islands, with more in isolated areas.

    Officials in Dominica closed schools and government offices and urged people to evacuate and seek shelters.

    “We should treat the approaching hurricane very, very seriously,” Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said. “This much water in Dominica is dangerous.”

    Read more:

    Battered Caribbean islands brace for approach of tropical storm Maria

    Hurricane Jose could bring wind, rain and rough surf to Nova Scotia, forecasters says

    Putting hurricanes and climate change into the same frame

    The small, mountainous island could be in trouble even if spared the storm’s strongest winds. In August 2015, Tropical Storm Erika unleashed flooding and landslides that killed 31 people and destroyed more than 370 homes.

    Officials in Guadeloupe said the French island would experience extremely heavy flooding starting in the afternoon and warned that many communities could be submerged overnight.

    In nearby Martinique, authorities ordered people to remain indoors and said they should be prepared for power cuts and disruption in the water supply. All schools and non-essential public services were closed.

    The storm’s hurricane-force winds extended out about 35 kilometres from the eye, and tropical storm-force winds out as far as 205 kilometres.

    The current forecast track would carry it about 35 kilometres south of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands late Tuesday and early Wednesday, according to territorial Gov. Kenneth Mapp.

    “We are going to have a very, very long night,” Mapp said as he urged people in the territory to finish any preparations.

    St. Thomas and St. John are still recovering from a direct hit by Hurricane Irma, which did extensive damage and caused four deaths on the two islands.

    Officials and islanders were also bracing in Puerto Rico, which did not take a direct hit from Irma but still saw blackouts across much of the territory. Nearly 70,000 people remain without power, and Gov. Ricardo Rossello warned that more widespread outages are likely with Maria.

    Forecasters said the storm would dump up to 46 centimetres of rain across Puerto Rico and whip the U.S. territory with heavy winds for 12 to 24 hours.

    Officials said the Federal Emergency Management Agency was ready to bring drinking water and help restore power in Puerto Rico immediately after the storm.

    Traffic was heavy Monday as people rushed to buy last-minute items. Among them was 70-year-old retiree Rafael Rivera, who clutched a small bag of dog treats for his dog and six puppies at home.

    “This storm is coming with some bad intentions,” he said at a San Juan store where some shoppers grumbled about empty shelves.

    Rossello said Puerto Rico had prepared about 450 shelters capable of taking in up to 125,000 people in a worst-case scenario. Nearly 200 people are still in shelters due to Hurricane Irma. Classes were cancelled and government employees were to work only a half-day.

    Farther north, long-lived Hurricane Jose continued to head northward well away from the U.S. East Coast but causing dangerous surf and rip currents. It was not expected to make landfall, but a tropical storm warning was in effect for coastal areas in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Tropical storm watches were posted for parts of New York’s Long Island and Connecticut.

    Jose was centred about 405 kilometres east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and was moving north at 17 km/h. It had maximum sustained winds of 120 km/h.

    Seawater washed over parts of North Carolina’s Outer Banks as Jose passed, and five people were knocked off a coastal jetty in Rhode Island by high surf caused by the storm. Officials said rescuers had to fight through rough surf to load the injured onto stretchers and get them to shore. All five were hospitalized.

    In the Pacific, Tropical Storm Norma’s threat to Mexico’s Los Cabos resort area at the southern end of the Baja California Peninsula eased as forecasters said it was moving away from shore and expected to weaken.

    Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Lee weakened into a tropical depression far out in the Atlantic and Hurricane Otis became a tropical storm far out in the Pacific. Neither threatened land.

    0 0

    Two different cities, over 800 km apart, are arguing over fifty-two animals on a century-old carousel.

    Councillors of the City of Carmel will vote on whether or not to fund the carousel and its accompanied structure in the heart of its downtown.

    Meanwhile, a motion, set to appear on Oct. 2, 3, and 4, 2017, will ask Toronto City Council to amend the current license agreement at Centreville to secure the purchase of the heritage carousel.

    The motion, written by Councillor Paula Fletcher, and seconded by Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, calls the Centreville carousel “an important part of Toronto’s history and a part of people’s histories.”

    “It would be a shame if the rains not only eroded the shoreline of Toronto Island, but also led to the loss of this treasured heritage asset,” reads the motion.

    At present, the Centreville lease agreement is valid until 2032. Fletcher would like to see that lease reduced to secure the money of the carousel over time.

    “They have suffered substantially because of the floods,” said Fletcher, “and getting back from that will be difficult. This will be a nice way to help him do that.”

    The hand-carved century-old carousel has one of the widest varieties of hand-carved animals and has been a popular attraction at Centreville since 1966.

    Read more:

    Carmel committee votes against funds for the $5-million Centreville carousel

    One last round on the Centreville carousel

    Toronto’s 110-year old carousel on Centre Island sold for $3 million

    Bill Beasley, owner of Centreville, said that the motion is the first step to working out a solution, but doesn’t have clarity yet on how the lease would be amended or what kind of authority the general manager of Toronto Parks and Recreation has to amend it. He’s also waiting to see how Carmel City Council will vote on the issue.

    “Everything’s complicated,” said Beasley. “It’s not a straightforward decision on our part.”

    In the hypothetical scenario that City of Carmel votes in favour of funding the carousel, and Toronto City Council votes in favour of keeping it here, Beasley says there are legal decisions that will have to be made. They have a purchase agreement with Carmel that needs to be managed.

    “It’s all hearsay at the moment,” said Beasley, “There’s an opportunity to sell it to Carmel that’s still open, and there’s an opportunity for the City of Toronto to keep the carousel at Centreville.”

    “They’re both great options, but today is not a deadline to make these decisions,” he said.

    Councillors for the city of Carmel will vote on the issue around 8 p.m. EST.

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    A woman who babysat toddler Ja’zara Garrison-Downey has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the little girl’s 2014 death.

    The babysitter, whose identity is protected because she was a minor at the time of the crime, wiped tears from her eyes in court Friday as she entered her plea.

    A post-mortem exam found that Ja’zara, 2 years old when she died, had dozens of injuries all over her body, including bruises and abrasions consistent with being hit with a belt, and a bite mark on her shoulder which the babysitter admitted to giving her.

    The babysitter, who was 17 years old when Ja’zara died, was the child’s primary caregiver for several days leading up to her death. The babysitter acknowledged that she was aware of the child’s injuries but did nothing to treat them, except to apply Polysporin on some wounds.

    Ja’zara’s cause of death, however, was ketoacidosis — a condition usually associated with people who have diabetes, though Ja’zara was not diabetic, Crown Attorney David Boulet said in court.

    Stress and starvation can each contribute to ketoacidosis, Boulet said, quoting the post-mortem report.

    Ja’zara’s stomach was empty at the time of her death, the post-mortem found.

    The babysitter failed in her legal responsibility as Ja’zara’s guardian, to care for the child, the Crown added.

    The babysitter called police to an apartment near Sherbourne St. and Wellesley St. E. on Jan. 3, 2014, saying that Ja’zara wasn’t breathing.

    Toronto police pronounced Ja’zara dead at the apartment.

    The babysitter will be sentenced later this year.

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    Five marks appearing to be fingerprints outlined in yellow were on the glass doors of an upscale downtown restaurant Monday, two days after a prominent Toronto real estate agent was gunned down.

    Used wine glasses and unfinished plates from panicked patrons could still be seen on tables at Michael’s on Simcoe.

    The restaurant was empty of customers, and will be until Saturday at the earliest.

    By then, it’ll have been a full week since a gunman fired in a crowded dining room, killing 54-year-old Simon Giannini in what police said was likely a targeted attack.

    According to restaurant owner Michael Dabic, who has one copy of the surveillance video and provided the police with another, Giannini was laughing in the last moments before he was shot.

    Dabic described accounts from his staff what he said he saw.

    The suspect strode into Michael’s just before 9 p.m. Saturday, wearing a hoodie, track pants and a baseball cap. The restaurant’s manager asked the man if he could help him, as his attire didn’t match their usual clientele.

    “We have a dress code,” Dabic said. “So a guy wearing a hoodie and a cap, it’s like, you’re not getting in.”

    Dabic said the shooter told his manager he was there “looking for a friend.” When the manager confronted him again, the man bolted towards Giannini’s table.

    Dabic said his 26-year-old daughter, who works at the restaurant full-time, was about three metres away when the gunman started shooting.

    The shooter fled amid the chaos, driving west along Pearl St. in a white SUV. A waiter dashed outside to write down its licence plate number.

    Giannini, meanwhile, died in hospital, becoming Toronto’s 41st homicide victim of 2017.

    The whole thing lasted less than 20 seconds, Dabic said.

    “The blessing in this is that no one else was hurt.”

    Dabic said Giannini’s table was closer to the restaurant’s exit. However, Dabic also said roughly 140 people were inside at the time, and he believes one of them must have directed the gunman to Giannini’s table.

    “You just can’t find an individual that quickly,” Dabic said. “Simon’s back was to the hit guy . . . so you have to know where he is.”

    Dabic wasn’t in the restaurant at the time, but says they have surveillance of the entire incident. On Monday, police were still coming and going from the restaurant.

    Though police are saying it appears to be a targetted shooting, Dabic said he believes it wasn’t particularly well-planned. Mere blocks away on King St., festivities were well underway for the evening at the Toronto International Film Festival, meaning an abundance of police officers and heavy traffic.

    “The police were here in seconds,” he said.

    Giannini’s friends and family told the Star he was a devoted father to his two school-age sons. In the last year, Giannini was in the middle of a divorce, after multiple years of separation from his former wife. The real estate agent grew up in Toronto’s east end after immigrating to Canada from Lebanon when he was about 7.

    Giannini’s death was the second shooting at Michael’s in two years, though police said the two aren’t connected. In September 2015, two masked men opened fire on a couple inside the restaurant, both of whom survived.

    Dabic insisted Michael’s is safe, and that something like this could happen at any restaurant.

    “I didn’t think lightning could strike twice but it did,” he said.

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    Of the four candidates vying for the NDP leadership, the numbers suggest that only one can hope to win on the first ballot.

    Jagmeet Singh’s campaign has claimed credit for enrolling 47,000 of the 124,000 members eligible to vote for the next leader.

    If the bulk of them do vote over the next two weeks, all could be in place for a first ballot win Oct. 1.

    While that amounts to an organizational challenge, the fact is that it should be logistically easier for Singh to get his vote out than for his rivals.

    That’s because his support is more heavily concentrated than that of Charlie Angus, Niki Ashton and Guy Caron.

    Connecting with large pockets of members in the GTA and the larger Vancouver area is presumably more straightforward than reaching out to a lot of smaller ones spread out across the country.

    It also helps that Singh’s political base — again in contrast with his three rivals — is located in Canada’s most-populated urban area.

    Angus holds a northern Ontario riding. Ashton’s seat is in northern Manitoba, and Caron hails from the Lower St. Lawrence region.

    Under the NDP formula of one member, one vote, the edge that comes from being familiar to a large pool of potential support is particularly valuable.

    Some New Democrats — especially but not exclusively in Quebec — lament the fact that the leadership vote is not weighted to reflect the demographics of the country.

    The NDP may not have a shot at winning government unless it can win seats in Quebec, but anyone can become its leader without showing well in a province whose party ranks are thin.

    Among the three main parties, this is a feature unique to the NDP.

    The party brass — under Tom Mulcair’s leadership — had four years to fix the leadership election formula in a way that better reflects the electoral reality of Canada and it did not.

    The outgoing leader probably did not expect the issue of the leadership to resurface as soon as it did.

    Be that as it may, the failure to give Quebec a voice on party affairs commensurate with its demographic and/or caucus weight could contribute to the notion the New Democrat presence in the province is a blip a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    That being said, it is not just because Singh has finished ahead of the pack in the membership drive that he is going into the vote with an edge on the competition. If that were the case, the Ontario MPP would be little more than the New Democrat’s Kevin O’Leary — a bright shiny leadership object of dubious marketable value.

    Singh’s stumble-free campaign has been all that O’Leary never was. As the NDP campaign reaches the final stage, some are pointing out that he lacks a seat in the House of Commons. That is a fair point to make, but no one is arguing that he is less ready for federal prime time than the three MPs he is running against.

    If there is a path to victory for one of the other contenders it runs through a second ballot. Did not Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer recently turn front-runner Maxime Bernier into an also-ran over the course of multiple ballots?

    But the parallel between the Conservative Party of Canada and the NDP dynamics has clear limits.

    Bernier won the air war but neglected his ground game, a mistake Singh cannot automatically be counted on to make.

    Moreover, the Beauce MP campaigned on a set of policies that curtailed his capacity to grow from ballot to ballot (or to secure caucus support.) No one would describe Singh’s platform as polarizing. It is the notion of campaigning under a turban-wearing Sikh leader, not his policies that is a concern in some NDP quarters.

    There was a time when having a shot at power mattered less to the New Democrat base than to its Liberal and Conservative counterparts. But that was in the pre-Layton, pre-Mulcair era and before the party scored back-to-back NDP victories in Alberta and British Columbia.

    At the final leadership showcase of the campaign on Sunday in Hamilton, all candidates featured strengths New Democrats have cause to like. But it was Singh who seemed to most succeed at making them dream of a brighter electoral future.

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

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    Two weeks ahead of Const. James Forcillo’s high-profile appeal hearing, Crown prosecutors are defending the jury’s decision to find the Toronto police officer guilty in the attempted murder of Sammy Yatim, who died in a hail of Forcillo’s bullets in July 2013.

    After six days of deliberation, a jury last year found Forcillo not guilty of second-degree murder in Yatim’s death — but convicted him of attempted murder in the now infamous streetcar shooting that killed 18-year-old Yatim.

    The conviction “does not accord with logic or common sense,” Forcillo’s lawyers argued in documents filed to Ontario’s Court of Appeal in May, asking for the officer’s conviction to be quashed or for a new trial to be ordered.

    Read more:

    Sergeant who Tasered dying Sammy Yatim faces misconduct charge

    Bail extended for officer in Sammy Yatim shooting

    “As a matter of common sense, the suggestion that an accused can be legally justified in killing someone, but criminally liable for attempting to kill that same person within the span of less than 10 seconds, is unfathomable,” Forcillo’s lawyers wrote, calling the conviction a “compromise verdict.”

    But in a written response filed with the court Friday, Crown lawyers say there “no logical or factual inconsistency” in the jury’s verdicts.

    “The two verdicts in this case were not inconsistent. They arise from different factual and legal bases, which were clearly explained to the jury by both Crown and defence counsel in their opening and closing addresses, and by the trial judge in the charge to the jury,” write Crown lawyers.

    Forcillo, currently suspended without pay by the Toronto police and out on bail, will be back in court next month for the appeal of the unprecedented attempted murder conviction of a cop in an on-duty shooting.

    Yatim was killed just after midnight on July 27, 2013, moments after the teenager exposed himself and pulled a small knife on unsuspecting passengers on the Dundas St. W. streetcar. Yatim was alone on the streetcar by the time police arrived.

    As Yatim stood at the front door of the streetcar holding the pocket knife, Forcillo shot at him in two distinct volleys separated by five-and-a-half seconds. He fired three times then, as Yatim lay on the floor of the streetcar paralyzed and dying, six more times, striking him a total of eight times.

    The jury determined Forcillo’s first three shots — during which the fatal shot was fired to the heart — were not a criminal act. But it found the second volley was neither justifiable or in self-defence, and convicted him of attempted murder.

    The jury was entitled to find Forcillo guilty of attempted murder for any of the shots in the second volley, “if the jury found that Mr. Yatim was alive during the second volley, that any of the shots were not justified, and that (Forcillo) had the specific intent to kill when he fired an unjustified shot,” the Crown wrote in its response to Forcillo’s lawyers’ arguments.

    Forcillo’s lawyers also argued that trial judge Justice Edward Then incorrectly accepted the Crown position that the second volley of shots was a separate event. In their response, the Crown said if Then had not specifically instructed the jury on their option to convict Forcillo of attempted murder, they would have been left in an “‘all or nothing situation,’ perhaps feeling compelled to render a guilty verdict to sanction conduct that they found morally reprehensible but that did not cause death.”

    In a scathing sentencing decision released in July 2016, Then handed down a six-year prison sentence, finding the shooting of Yatim was “unnecessary and unreasonable and excessive from the outset of the second volley.”

    The six-year sentence is one year longer than the mandatory minimum of five years jail time for attempted murder with a weapon, something Forcillo’s lawyer say violates the Charter.

    “Any reasonably informed observer would not support the imposition of severe jail sentences on those who make errors in judgment in the heat of the moment and pose little to no danger to society,” Forcillo’s lawyers argued in their written submission.

    if the conviction is upheld, Forcillo’s lawyers asked the Court of Appeal to find that the mandatory minimum sentence violates the Charter, and that a suspended sentence should instead be imposed.

    The Crown, however, says the sentence imposed was fit “and, indeed, at the bottom of the range this Court has set for attempted murder.”

    Forcillo’s lawyers have also argued several other grounds for appeal, including Then’s decision to disallow a defence witness to testify about “suicide by cop” and to exclude evidence about Yatim’s text message history and Google searches. Months before he died, Yatim had searched “the easiest way to kill yourself” and “how to commit suicide without feeling any pain.”

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    OTTAWA—Canadians should be “very concerned” about their cellphones, computers and other electronic devices being searched by U.S. border agents, the federal privacy czar says.

    Privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien told a House of Commons committee Monday that U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers can look at mobile devices and even demand passwords under American law.

    Therrien cited statistics indicating U.S. border searches of mobile phones had increased between 2015 and 2016.

    “These devices contain a lot of sensitive information,” Therrien said. “We should be very concerned.”

    Read more:

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    New Democrat MP Nathan Cullen asked if that means no Canadian should cross the border with a phone, laptop or tablet unless they have “great comfort” with a U.S. border official inspecting the contents.

    “Yes, as a matter of law,” Therrien said, though he acknowledged officers would not have time to inspect everyone’s devices, given the huge numbers of people that cross the border daily.

    Therrien agreed with Cullen’s suggestion that nothing in law could prevent U.S. border officials from peeking at a senior Canadian official’s “playbook” on a trade negotiation.

    Cullen said one of his constituents was denied entry to the U.S. on health-related grounds because information on the person’s phone indicated a prescription for heart medication.

    “And I thought, well, this is a strange invasion of one’s privacy.”

    Therrien said Canadians should assess the “risk tolerance” they have to their information being examined by U.S. officers.

    “My point is, think about what you’re exposing your information to, and limit the amount of information that you bring to the U.S., because it may be required by customs officers.”

    Canadian law also allows border officers to inspect cellphones, since they are treated as goods, Therrien told the Commons committee on access to information, privacy and ethics.

    But he noted Canada’s border agency has a policy of limiting searches to cases where an officer has grounds to do so — for instance, because a phone might contain information about contraband items.

    Therrien said his office had received a “small number of complaints” about Canadian border officers searching cellphones.

    Last spring, Therrien expressed concern about U.S. plans to demand cellphone and social media passwords from foreign visitors.

    In a letter to the House of Commons public safety committee, he warned that recent pronouncements from the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump could mean intrusive searches — even at preclearance facilities in Canada.

    In February, John Kelly, then U.S. Homeland Security Secretary, suggested at a hearing that American officials could ask people entering the U.S. about the internet sites they visit as well as passwords to help assess their online activities.

    Kelly’s proposal prompted an American coalition of human rights and civil liberties organizations and experts in security, technology and the law to express “deep concern.”

    0 0

    Like many public servants, Tom Campbell avoided reporters.

    In life, he kept his distance. In death, however, he has opened up.

    At his behest, his daughter sent an email the other day signalling that one of Ontario’s most influential deputies was finally ready to go public.

    “Hello Martin. Yesterday my father, Tom Campbell died.

    “You wrote a piece about him in 1984 when he was deputy minister of finance and you might be interested to know that at dinner on the night before his death, your piece was a topic of conversation.”

    Campbell, 83, had kept a copy of that newspaper profile all this time, despite refusing an interview with the rookie reporter who wrote it. Now, according to his daughter Alexandra, 44, he was ready, belatedly, to talk — from the grave.

    As much about how he lived his life as how he ended it.

    “I did ask my Dad, ‘What if I told Martin some of these things now, after you die?’ And he said, ‘Sure.’ ”

    Read more:

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    But before the epilogue is written, one must go back in time.

    Campbell had once helmed the province’s sprawling health ministry, where lobbyists pressed him to help people suffering from terminal illnesses die with dignity. The deputy had listened respectfully, knowing full well his hands were tied by his political masters and prevailing public opinion, but he’d challenged the group:

    “Why should we do it?” he asked at the time.

    This year, Campbell had his answer, when the roles were reversed. Suffering from the excruciating pain of bladder cancer, he quietly chose Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID).

    But to fulfil his final wish, he first had to rely on his old skill set as a deputy to navigate the Byzantine rules laid down by bureaucrats in the corridors of power he’d once inhabited. The irony was not lost on the former mandarin, a shy but forceful introvert who’d always been a stickler for formality and rules.

    “I don’t want to be a science experiment,” he told his children, declining desperate attempts at surgery as the cancer invaded his lymph nodes and the pain worsened.

    A deputy treasurer must be cold-blooded in wielding a budget axe to balance the government’s books. No surprise that he would be similarly decisive about his own circumstances.

    Campbell’s daughter says he had excellent care from the two physicians who assessed his bid for MAID. But the drawn-out procedures for collecting information and granting permission were frustrating and dehumanizing.

    After securing the final approvals, Campbell tried new pain medications without success before announcing to his family (including his wife Mary Mogford, also a former deputy, and son John): “I want to do this . . . this is happening tomorrow.”

    His daughter describes it as a moment of enormous relief — from the physical pain, but also the mental limbo. He worried that others would still not benefit from the procedure as he had.

    “It sounds crazy but the chance to have an assisted death gave him the courage to keep living through the summer,” Alexandra explained. “He was very adamant that the legislation has not gone far enough. And he hopes that having been former deputy minister of health for Ontario might give some weight to the cause.”

    Over coffee, she explained that her father believed the procedures could be streamlined so that people who clearly qualify for medically assisted death are not forced to take heroic — or humiliating — steps to comply. At times, it felt as if the roadblocks made death harder for patients only to make life easier for the bureaucracy.

    Despite securing permission from his Toronto doctors, it was difficult to relay that approval to another jurisdiction so that he could die with loved ones at his suburban home. He faced an unexpected 72-hour delay in filling the approved prescription. And having watched two of his sisters struggle with dementia, the inability to sign an advance directive for MAID“created fear and frustration for my Dad,” she said.

    Throughout his career, Campbell had always projected precisely the opposite — outer calm and inner confidence. A downhill skier from northern Ontario, he scaled the heights of the Toronto power structure during the Progressive Conservative dynasty that culminated with premier Bill Davis, and later chaired Ontario Hydro.

    Publicly, he kept his mouth shut and his tie tightly knotted — to the point that one of his political masters described (in that 1984 profile) ordering him to loosen his collar at a staff meeting. Privately, though, Campbell fussed over every budgetary comma, political coda, and even the dress code for budget day.

    He was too loyal to disclose it at the time, but as his daughter told me this month, Campbell had begged then-treasurer Frank Miller to dress appropriately when delivering his budget in the early 1980s. Miller wouldn’t back down, concealing his trademark tartan jacket until just before he walked into legislature for the solemn occasion.

    That act of defiance was one of Campbell’s lingering regrets, for he believed it detracted from the budget and trivialized the work of the public service. But perhaps Miller (who died in 2000) was gently pushing back against his powerful deputy, whose grip on the budget process was legendary.

    That symbolic power struggle stayed with Campbell. A sign that, in life as in death, there are some things one cannot fully control.

    Martin Regg Cohn’s political column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. , Twitter: @reggcohn

    0 0

    Imagine being a gazillionaire heiress and apparently not allowed to buy a private jet without permission from the penny-counters.

    Oops, there goes $87 million out of the family company holdings as reimbursement, naughty lady.

    Imagine being the richest woman in Canada — purportedly (but do correct me if I’m wrong) — and having your feet held to the fire for repayment of $132 million shelled out, without proper authorization, on personal expenses and investments.

    Oops, there goes another chunk of cash “diluted” from the fortune chest, a.k.a. Westerkirk Capital Inc., by means of shrinking the lady’s equity stash from 21.8 per cent to 19.8 per cent to 17.9864 per cent.

    Allegations. Allegations. Allegations.

    What is the hunk o’ have world coming to?

    Well, what it came down to on Monday, after a week of lawyer huddles, was the slam-bang-thank-you-ma’am settling of duelling lawsuits between Sherry Brydson — granddaughter of Kenneth Thomson, entrepreneur founder of the Thomson Corporation and 2nd Baron Thomson of Fleet (passim), with a personal fortune estimated at $6.6 billion — and James Lawson, axed CEO of Westerkirk but still high profile boss of the Canadian Football League and Woodbine Entertainment Group, Canada’s premier horse racing enterprise.

    “It’s over,” said Howard Levitt, lawyer for Brydson, as he came back into the courtroom ’round noon to collect his robes.

    This comment was directed at but one of the many reporters who’d been whiling away the hours since last Monday, anticipating a juicy trial over money and maligning and alleged malfeasance — with a bit of porn thrown in on the side.

    And by over we mean that no details will be disclosed about the settlement reached betwixt Brydson and Lawson, including that aforementioned stuff about the jet, etc., which comes from Lawson’s opening salvo, factum-style.

    So we’re back where we started: Boxes of legal wrangle filed over the past four years, stuffed with facts and fomentation — a litany of allegations that will never be proved or disproved in a courtroom.

    (This is the part where we in the media note: None of the allegations have been tested in court. It’s all factum hearsay.)

    Aside: Around the Star newsroom, we, in the death throes of the newspaper business, regularly snipe about the Globe and Mail’s financial security. The national broadsheet is owned by the Thomson family through Woodbridge Company Ltd. Vanishing revenues? “All they have to do is sell another Group of Seven painting.”

    Brydson, according to court documents from the Lawson side of the legal ledger, “conducts herself as if she is the head or matriarch of the Brydson family and the owner of Westerkirk. However, at all material times, she was, in fact, only a minority non-voting equity participant in Westerkirk.” (See above, 17.9864 per cent.)

    Lawson was hired as Westerkirk CEO in November, 2004. He was fired by Brydson — allegedly without authority from the company’s management oversight committee, or its directors — in November, 2012.

    No fair, harrumphed Lawson who claims in the documents that, under his stewardship, Westerkirk, for arguably the first time, “established itself as a credible and astute investor” — $500 million in investments between 2005 and 2012.

    The pre-existing problem, Lawson’s original filing argued, was that “Ms. Brydson persistently acted as if she owned Westerkirk and was entitled to treat it as her personal corporation.”

    A piggy-bank.

    And an obstructionist, the factum continues, like that time she last-minute scotched the acquisition of a brick manufacturer — which would have been the company’s largest acquisition to date.

    That’s all water under the bridge and would likely not have surfaced but for Lawson bringing a suit claiming wrongful dismissal, seeking $24 million in damages, which included $3,895,177 in base salary from 2013 to 2016 and more than $2 million in bonuses.

    He was sacked, Lawson maintains, for trying to run Westerkirk professionally.

    Nah, Brydson countered, through her lawyers. He was jettisoned for exploiting his position to benefit himself and his relatives, while “publicly disparaging Brydson, her husband and family members,” running the company like a personal fiefdom, “as if it was his, not hers.”

    They’ve had loads of time to load up on each other.

    Brydson, who describes herself as a former journalist — she resides in Victoria, B.C. — asserts that she’d been on the prowl for a “scrupulously honest” CEO to manage the assets of Westerkirk.

    This, she insists, in not what she got.

    Nope, Lawson was never a senior lawyer at the Torys law firm (established by the grandfather of Mayor John Tory) as described, merely a “relative newcomer” on who she and her companied relied “to their detriment.”

    Lawson, she contents, repeatedly refused or failed to fulfil his most fundamental obligations and duties to herself, to Westerkirk, by “his repeated pattern of withholding information, acting dishonestly and promoting his own interests instead of those of Westerkirk . . . ”

    Self-dealing, she termed it, such as allegedly buying land in Oakville for a company where his wife was one of the directors and then wholly failing to “mentor” one of her children who would be “placed at a desk . . . and learn the business.”

    There was a posh condo at the Ritz Carlton, as well, owned by Lawson’s daughter, Brydson claims, which he talked her into buying as an investment for 40 per cent in excess of its actual value.

    He further allegedly manoeuvred to put friends into various Westerkirk concerns for which they had no business knowledge.

    What else? Impossible to distil pounds of paper into a newspaper column. But there was that bit about Lawson arranging to have himself appointed to a senior position with the Ontario Jockey Club and Woodbine; doing extensive work for them on Westerkirk time, using Westerkirk staff and resources, whilst — during one period in 2012 — simultaneously earning $22,035 a month from Woodbine, which he “hid” from Westerkirk and Brydson.

    And, oh yes, about that porn . . .

    Reminding, once more, that none of these allegations have been proven in court.

    Brydson complains that Lawson, despite enacting anti-pornography policies at Westerkirk and its related companies, “indulged himself,” at the office, “in gross, hard-core racist and misogynistic pornography, openly degrading to women and certain ethnic groups, including graphic depictions of BDSM and of sex between humans and animals.” So vile, the documents continue, that they would likely be deemed obscene under the Criminal Code, and that he distributed some porn to others, including subordinates.

    This Lawson adamantly denies in his counter-counter filing.

    As CEO, Brydson maintains, Lawson was “a dreadful role-model of workplace conduct” who poisoned the workplace and recklessly damaged the company’s reputation, to say nothing of her own.

    All the time ridiculing her and the family, to others, Brydson claimed, as “clueless,” allegedly telling one associate that “Brydson is a lost cause and we have to forget about her and move on to the kids.”

    That would be the spawn three generations removed from Old Man Ken.

    Sometimes the Family Compact of Upper Ontario feels hardly a heartbeat away.

    But of course none of this will now be explored in open court. They’ve zipped up and swept their messes back into the closet.

    Some minimum wage cleaner will be along shortly to take out the garbage.

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

    0 0

    Ontario’s Workplace Safety Insurance Board will re-examine more than 250 rejected claims dating back to 2004 from former employees of Peterborough’s troubled General Electric plant.

    The review, announced Monday, comes four months after a comprehensive study of chemical exposures at the factory found working conditions between 1945 and 2000 played a significant role in an “epidemic” of work-related illnesses among employees and retirees.

    “The Peterborough community has presented information that helps clarify the exposures people had to various chemicals and substances,” said Armando Fatigati, WSIB vice-president of complex claims.

    “We’ll be looking at what they were exposed to, how much of it they were exposed to, and how long people were exposed to these chemicals and substances,” he said in a statement.

    A dedicated review team will look at both cancer and non-cancer related claims where updated scientific research links specific levels of chemical exposures to specific illnesses.

    The review will also look at claims where advances in technology may allow widows, widowers and children of former workers who died without realizing their deaths may have been linked to a workplace illness, the WSIB said.

    The WSIB will also work to identify next-of-kin who may be eligible for compensation for claims that were previously denied.

    “If you worked at GE Peterborough and think you may have a work-related illness but are not sure you have a claim with the WSIB, we want to hear from you,” Fatigati said. “If you qualify for additional health services or benefits, we want you to get them as quickly as possible.”

    People can call 1-800-387-0750 or visit to learn more and file a claim.

    Last month, the plant with a history of more 125 years in Peterborough, announced it would be closing next year, throwing more than 350 employees out of work.

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    But a company spokeswoman said the closing was related to changing markets and not to outstanding workplace illness claims. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the WSIB claims review.

    Sue James, whose father Gord worked at GE Peterborough for 30 years and died of lung and spinal cancer — diseases his family believes were caused by his exposure to workplace chemicals — said the community is cautiously optimistic.

    “Although they haven’t said they have accepted our report, it would seem to suggest they are listening,” said James, who also worked at the plant for 30 years and was among 11 retirees who worked as advisors on the chemical exposure study.

    “That was our goal, to show there was a bigger picture, that as soon as you opened the door to that factory, you were at immediate risk because of everything that was going on around you,” she said Monday.

    “There were so many chemicals, welding fumes, painting, machining, in every area of the plant. You couldn’t get away from it,” she said.

    According to the report, workers at the factory that built everything from household appliances to diesel locomotive engines and fuel cells for nuclear reactors, were exposed to more than 3,000 toxic chemicals, including at least 40 known or suspected to cause cancer, at levels hundreds of times higher than what is now considered safe.

    Former worker Roger Fowler 71, who believes he developed colorectal cancer due to working for more than 22 years under asbestos-wrapped pipes that shed fibres of toxic snow, isn’t celebrating yet.

    “I want to see money in our pockets,” he said. Although he beat the cancer, he continues to wrap the football-sized hernias pressing on his bladder, the result of seemingly endless surgeries.

    “We’ve lost over 60 people since May,” he added. “We can’t keep going on promises.”

    Although Fowler and others were worried they would have to undergo more medical tests as part of the review, a WSIB spokesman said that won’t likely be necessary.

    “Every case is unique, but in terms of medical tests or new medical information . . . we will look at what we have on file and look at that against the new information,” said Aaron Aaron Lazarus. “As a broad response, we are not asking everybody to retake any kind of test.”

    WSIB also wants people with new forms to come forward or to check up on old ones.

    Peterborough MPP Jeff Leal called the WSIB review “a significant start and a major breakthrough” for GE workers and said that reviewing 250 files is just a starting point.

    “We’re going to continue to pursue this so all the claims that can be dealt with in a fair and responsible manner,” he added.

    Leal, whose father worked at the plant for 40 years and died of lung cancer a year after he retired, predicted a final decision on the previously rejected claims and any new ones would be made in the next few months.

    In a joint statement Monday, Flynn and Leal said the WSIB has assured them they “will get workers results as quickly as possible.”

    “Our government will be closely following the progress of the WSIB’s reviews to ensure progress is being made,” they said.

    “The former GE workers and their families have never given up during this process, and they deserve the justice they have sought for so long,” they added.

    A Star investigation

    last fall revealed decades worth of government reports on the Peterborough plant that repeatedly warned of poor housekeeping, shoddy ventilation and lack of personal protective equipment amid massive use of materials now known to be carcinogenic.

    A 2002 GE-commissioned mortality study found male employees were up to 57 per cent more likely to die of lung cancer than the general population and female workers up to 129 per cent more likely.

    But when the study controlled for “other factors” such as age and smoking in a followup study, there was “no statistically significant increase in cancer at the Peterborough facility,” GE previously told the Star.

    The plant has employed tens of thousands of workers over its 125-year history in Peterborough, and their health and safety has always been the company’s “No. 1 priority,” GE has said.

    Following the Star’s investigation, the provincial labour ministry announced it would set up a dedicated occupational disease response team by the end of 2017 to boost prevention of chemical exposures and help sick workers file compensation claims.

    Since 1993, decisions have been made in over 2,400 claims related to GE Peterborough with over 80 per cent allowed, according to the WSIB. However health researcher Bob DeMatteo, who helped the retired GE workers on their May report, noted that just 27 per cent of cancer-related claims have been accepted by the board.

    With files from the Peterborough This Week

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