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


Embed this content in your HTML

Search

Report adult content:

click to rate:

Account: (login)

More Channels


Channel Catalog


Channel Description:

TOPSTORIES

older | 1 | .... | 1027 | 1028 | (Page 1029) | 1030 | 1031 | .... | 1060 | newer

    0 0


    A 29-year-old woman with Down syndrome has filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario after two Toronto police officers were recorded mocking her during a traffic stop.

    Francie Munoz argues the behaviour displayed by Const. Sasa Sljivo and Const. Matthew Saris on Nov. 5, 2016 amounts to discrimination on the grounds of disability.

    She says in the complaint that she has suffered emotional trauma as a result of the incident, and that it has undermined her trust in law enforcement.

    Sljivo and Saris are facing a disciplinary hearing on charges under the Police Services Act, with the next hearing scheduled for Oct. 18.

    Police documents show Sljivo is charged with misconduct related to the use of profane, abusive or insulting language, while Saris is charged with misconduct related to the failure to report Sljivo’s comments.

    The officers have not said how they will plead, though they have issued a written apology for the incident, calling it a “lapse in judgment.”

    Munoz’s family has consistently asked for a public apology — a request repeated in the human rights complaint.

    In the document, Munoz says the officers offered through their union to apologize privately but have balked at doing so publicly. Their behaviour while appearing before the disciplinary hearing only compounded the issue, she alleges.

    “At no point did the officers greet or look at the applicant, let alone make any effort to say words of apology or regret. Being ignored by the officers when they had the opportunity to say or do something deepened the applicant’s feeling of injury,” the complaint says.

    Read more:

    Supporters of woman with Down syndrome pack hearing for police officers caught mocking her

    Toronto officers caught mocking woman with Down syndrome face Police Service Act charges

    Police bullying of woman with Down syndrome should not be tolerated: Editorial

    The officers’ lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    Munoz asks for an order to make Toronto’s police chief publicly apologize and express his commitment to ensure that all officers in the force undergo human rights training on working with people with disabilities.

    She also asks that the force be ordered to implement a more rigorous screening process for new officers “to identify pre-existing biases or prejudices, especially in regards to those with disabilities.”

    The complaint says the comments were made inside a police cruiser after the officers pulled over Munoz’s mother, Pamela Munoz, on allegations that she had run a red light. Francie Munoz was a passenger in the back seat.

    While preparing to fight the $325 ticket months later, Munoz’s mother requested the evidence against her and obtained an audio recording of the officers’ conversation.

    Sljivo can be heard describing Munoz as “disfigured” and a “half-person,” while Saris is heard laughing and agreeing, the complaint says.

    Munoz “was inconsolable for days after learning about the officers’ remarks and became anxious and withdrawn in the presence of first responders and other uniformed personnel,” it says.

    “As time passes, it has also become clear that Francie’s self-esteem, confidence and sense of self-worth have all been undermined by the derogatory comments directed at her by persons in a position of power and authority in society, whom she previously looked up to and viewed with respect.”

    Munoz is also seeking $25,000 in damages for harm to dignity and sense of self-worth, as well as $5,000 to cover her legal expenses.

    A hearing over her mother’s ticket has been pushed back to December, the complaint says.


    Woman with Down syndrome files human rights complaint after cops mock her during traffic stopWoman with Down syndrome files human rights complaint after cops mock her during traffic stop

    0 0


    NEW YORK—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau intends to use his speech to the United Nations General Assembly to tell a painful story about Canada’s past, the struggles of its Indigenous peoples, and the long road ahead in addressing them.

    Sources say the prime minister will allude Thursday to the legacy of injustices like residential schools, with its longstanding consequences, and his government’s intentions to address them, through steps that include splitting up the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada more than 20 years after it was recommended in a public commission.

    “Tell the story of Canada’s past,” said one official, describing the speech.

    “(It will describe) hundreds of years of injustices to Canada’s Indigenous peoples.”

    But he said the speech will have a forward-looking point that talks about the future, rather than just re-examine difficult events of the past.

    He said the main point of the prime minister’s speech is that Canada won’t hide from the most intractable problems, and will apply that logic to foreign affairs as well as it campaigns for a seat on the UN Security Council in 2021.

    “With an acknowledgment that there’s no overnight solution,” said the official.

    “But we will live up to our responsibilities and always be open to looking for solutions... not shying away from big complex problems.”

    The other major aspect of the speech will be climate change, the source said.

    The stark message will be strikingly different from the government boasts about Canada being back on the international stage, and about its policies in its first months in office. But it’s designed to support Canada’s campaign to play a bigger role on that stage, at the Security Council.

    Trudeau met with seven different governments on Wednesday and spoke to three other public events in what insiders described as an effort to lay early groundwork for the Security Council campaign when it’s formally launched.

    Read more:

    Meetings, We Day rally fill Trudeau’s day as he continues New York visit

    French President Macron defends global co-operation at UN

    In his most aggressive warning to date, Donald Trump threatens to ‘totally destroy’ North Korea


    Trudeau to use UN speech to address struggles of Canada's Indigenous peoplesTrudeau to use UN speech to address struggles of Canada's Indigenous peoples

    0 0


    A boy was seriously injured in a stabbing outside a downtown Toronto high school Thursday afternoon.

    Police and paramedics were called to Central Toronto Academy, on Shaw St. just north of College St., at 12:40 p.m. for reports that a boy had been stabbed outside the school’s entrance.

    “The boy retreated into the school to get help,” said Toronto police Const. David Hopkinson.

    Paramedics estimated the boy is about 15, and said his injuries were serious.

    “I don’t believe it’s life-threatening,” said Hopkinson.

    The school was locked down for about an hour after the incident and the boy’s parents have been contacted, the Toronto District School Board said via Twitter.

    Hopkinson said a description of the suspect, who fled the scene, wasn’t immediately available.

    Central Toronto Academy — formerly known as Central Commerce before a name change in 2014— was the alma mater of former Toronto mayor Mel Lastman.

    In recent years, the school has undergone sweeping changes as the Toronto District School Board began modernizing its curriculum, offering advanced placement courses and arts and culture-centered majors.


    Boy stabbed outside downtown Toronto high schoolBoy stabbed outside downtown Toronto high school

    0 0


    Neighbours yelled “he can’t hear you!” But the two officers kept shouting commands.

    Sgt. Christopher Barnes and Lt. Matthew Lindsey ordered Magdiel Sanchez to drop a 60-centimentre-long metal pipe. Instead, the 35-year-old stepped from the porch of the single-story house in suburban Oklahoma City, apparently oblivious to the shouts.

    With about 4 metres of distance between them, both officers discharged their weapons — one a gun, the other a taser. Sanchez was pronounced dead at the scene Tuesday night.

    The uniformed officers arrived at the address looking for the driver of a hit-and-run incident nearby. Sanchez was the son of the driver they were looking for. What they did not seem to know was that he was deaf.

    This was the account Oklahoma City Police Capt. Bo Mathews gave to reporters at a news conference Wednesday. He also said that Sanchez’s father, who was not named, was at the scene.

    Barnes, who fired the gun, was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into the shooting. Neither officer was wearing a body camera and Sanchez had no apparent criminal history, Matthews said.

    “In those situations, very volatile situations, you have a weapon out, you can get what they call tunnel vision, or you can really lock into just the person that has the weapon that’d be the threat against you,” Mathews said. “I don’t know exactly what the officers were thinking at that point.”

    After the reported hit-and-run accident Tuesday, a witness gave Lindsey the address where the departed vehicle was heading, about a block away from the scene of the crash. Lindsey went there and saw Sanchez on the porch with the a 60-centimentre-long metal pipe covered in material and a leather loop at the end that police said fit around a wrist.

    Lindsey called for backup, Matthews said. Barnes arrived and the officers commanded Sanchez to drop the pipe. There are officers trained in sign language, Matthews said, but he was not sure if that included the officers at Tuesday’s scene.

    As the incident unfolded, neighbour Julio Rayos stood about 7 to 10 metres away with his wife and daughter. They were yelling at the officers not to shoot Sanchez and that he was deaf, Rayos told NewsOK Tuesday.

    Sanchez also had developmental disabilities and was non-verbal, so he communicated mostly with his hands, Rayos said.

    “The guy does movements. He don’t speak, he don’t hear, so mainly it’s hand movements that he does. That’s how we communicated with him,” Rayos said. “I believe he was frustrated, trying to tell them what was going on.”

    At one point Sanchez struck the back of his truck. Rayos believes Sanchez was trying to communicate in the midst of the hectic scene. That’s when Rayos knew something was about to happen. The officers already had their weapons drawn, he said.

    Both officers told Sanchez to drop his weapon, Matthews said. But he continued toward them, he said, until they used the firearm and taser at the same time.

    Neighbour Jolie Guebara lives two houses down from the scene and heard five or six gunshots before she looked outside and saw the police, she told the Associated Press.

    Whenever she and her husband were outside, Sanchez would sometimes stop by and write notes to communicate with them.

    “He always had a stick that he would walk around with, because there’s a lot of stray dogs,” Guebara told the AP.

    Sanchez is one of 712 people that have been shot and killed by police in 2017, according to The Washington Post’s Fatal Force database. And there have been other controversial officer-involved fatal shootings in Oklahoma recently.

    In 2016, Terence Crutcher, an unarmed 40-year-old Black man and father of four, was walking toward his car with his hands above his head, when moments later white former Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby fatally shot him in 2016. Shelby was acquitted in May.


    Neighbours yell ‘he can’t hear you’ before Oklahoma City officer fatally shoots deaf manNeighbours yell ‘he can’t hear you’ before Oklahoma City officer fatally shoots deaf man

    0 0


    VATICAN CITY—Pope Francis on Thursday acknowledged the Catholic Church was “a bit late” in realizing the damage done by priests who rape and molest children, and said that the decades-long practice of moving pedophiles around rather than sanctioning them was to blame.

    Francis met Thursday for the first time with his sex abuse advisory commission, a group of outside experts named in 2014 to advise him and the Catholic Church on best practices to keep pedophiles out of the priesthood and protect children.

    In his prepared remarks, Francis promised to respond with the “firmest measures possible” against sex abusers. He said bishops and religious superiors bore “primary responsibility” for keeping their flocks safe from abusive priests and would be held accountable if they are negligent.

    Read more:

    High-ranking Vatican priest recalled from U.S. amid child porn investigation

    Pope urges forgiveness during visit to former Colombia war zone

    Top Vatican official appears in Australian court on sex abuse charges

    But Francis also spoke off-the-cuff, admitting that the church’s response to the scandal was slow. Indeed, the Vatican for decades turned a blind eye to the problem and local bishops, rather than defrocking abusers, instead moved them from parish to parish, allowing them to abuse anew.

    Part of the problem was that under the papacy of St. John Paul II, the Vatican was reluctant to defrock young priests, even if they were abusers.

    “The consciousness of the church arrived a bit late, and when the consciousness arrives late, the means to resolve the problem arrive late,” Francis said. “Perhaps the old practice of moving people around, and not confronting the problem, kept consciences asleep.”

    Francis also addressed the way the Vatican was handling appeals of canonical sentences, saying he wanted to add more diocesan bishops to an appeals commission that is currently dominated by canon lawyers. He said lawyers “tend to want to lower sentences” and that he wanted the influence of diocesan bishops with experience of the problem in the field to balance it out.

    “I decided to balance out this commission and also say that if abuse of a minor is proven, it’s sufficient and there’s no need for recourse. If there is proof, period. It’s definitive. Why? Not because of revulsion, but simply because the person who did this, man or woman, is sick. It’s a sickness.”

    In its three years, the sex abuse commission has held educational workshops in dioceses around the world, but has faced such stiff resistance to some of its proposals at the Vatican that its most prominent member, Irish abuse survivor Marie Collins, resigned in frustration in March.

    The commission’s statutes and membership are up for review, and it remains to be seen if survivors of abuse will be included in the new membership roster.

    Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston and head of the commission, told the pope that the commission had “benefited greatly” from listening to survivors, but made no mention of whether any were under consideration for membership.

    On the membership front, he said only that the commission was seeking “representatives from churches in different parts of the world.” Currently, priests, nuns and experts fill the ranks, including noted sociologists and psychologists in the field of abuse and child protection.


    Pope Francis admits the church was ‘a bit late’ on tackling sex abusePope Francis admits the church was ‘a bit late’ on tackling sex abuse

    0 0


    The riddle of the missing link has finally been solved.

    Metrolinx is expropriating land so that the Dundas West subway station will be connected to the Bloor UP Express and GO Transit station located 270 metres away.

    It’s a $23 million plan that should help bewildered travelers who are often seen wandering around the Dundas and Bloor intersection looking for either the TTC station or the Union-Pearson hub.

    “Negotiations were complex with multiple stakeholders so it took much longer than we hope, but we’re excited to finally move forward,” Metrolinx’s Anne Marie Aikins said Thursday.

    “Seamless convenient connections between GO, UP and the TTC are really important to customers,” said Aikins, noting UP ridership is rising and is now more than 300,000 per month.

    “We’ve been negotiating with the property owners on the Crossways (residential and commercial) property for the past four years as we need access to some of the property in the underground parking lot to make the connection,” she said.

    “There will be no impact on residents living in the Crossways,” said Aikins, referring to the rental apartment buildings at 2340 Dundas St. West.

    “Our goal is to have control of the property interest by summer 2018. Once the property has been acquired, the design will go through public consultation,” she said, noting the $23 million tab includes the cost of the land, property, design, and construction of the link.

    A date for its opening will be set after the expropriation process is completed.

    The lack of a weather-protected connection between the TTC station at the northwest corner of Dundas West and Bloor and the UP/GO station has baffled users since the airport express rail line opened in 2015.

    Currently, a small sign directs wayward travelers from the subway station onto Dundas – where they must steer their suitcases across streetcar tracks – forcing them to wheel their luggage more than a quarter kilometre east on Bloor.

    Gaining access through the parking garage beneath the Crossways complex will make for a better transit experience, said Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca.

    “It’s very positive news. I know there’s a great deal of demand in the west end of Toronto to see that physical connection that had long been promised now one step closer to being delivered,” said Del Duca.

    “It’s all part and parcel of the broader plan to build a seamless and integrated transit network right around the region.”


    Dundas West TTC station to finally be connected to Union Pearson Express stationDundas West TTC station to finally be connected to Union Pearson Express station

    0 0


    The independent watchdog who keeps an eye on Ontario government finances has resigned just five months after returning from a medical leave.

    Stephen LeClair, hired in 2015 to head a new financial accountability office for the province, cited “personal reasons” for his departure, Nancy Marling, executive director of administrative services at the Legislature, said Thursday.

    No further details were provided.

    The accountability office regularly publishes reports taking government financial claims on deficit reduction and other matters such as the recent hydro rate reduction plan to task.

    LeClair, who earned $251,742.68 last year according to public sector salary disclosure filings, returned to work April 10 after the medical leave, saying “I look forward to continuing to serve MPPs and Ontarians.”

    He was the deputy finance minister in the Yukon and a career civil servant before taking the Ontario job, created by the Liberal government as a sop to the NDP for supporting Premier Kathleen Wynne’s then-minority government in May 2013.

    The position of financial accountability officer is modelled on the federal government’s Parliamentary budget officer.

    LeClair was chosen by a legislative hiring panel chaired by Speaker Dave Levac and one MPP from each of the Liberals, Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats.

    He had also worked as a civil servant with the federal government, Alberta, Northwest Territories and Ontario.


    Ontario’s budget watchdog Stephen LeClair resignsOntario’s budget watchdog Stephen LeClair resigns

    0 0


    The sounds of gas station attendant Jayesh Prajapati being dragged along Roselawn Ave. in the wheels of an SUV could be heard from the 18th floor of a nearby apartment building, a court heard on Thursday.

    It was a noise like a pylon caught under a car, witness Trevor Bell testified on the third day of Max Tutiven’s trial on charges of second-degree murder. Hours after Prajapati’s death, Bell told police the sound was “sickening,” he testified.

    The Crown has alleged that Tutiven fled a North York Shell station without paying for $112.85 worth of gas, hitting Prajapati with his silver SUV when the attendant tried to stop him.

    Prajapati was dragged 78 metres before his body was dislodged, the Crown said.

    Tutiven has pleaded not guilty.

    Bell was sitting in his apartment across the street from the gas station, with his balcony doors open when, around 9 p.m. on Sept. 15, 2012, he heard shouting, screeching tires, two instances of dragging sounds and a voice yelling “Call 911,” he told the court.

    He then went out on his balcony to see a vehicle speeding away, he said. Bell called 911 and reported a “hit and run” by a white jeep. He told the court that, he does not know much about cars and that, to his mind, a jeep and SUV are essentially the same thing.

    Joanne Dajao, another Crown witness, testified she was sitting in her friend’s car at the gas station, applying makeup, when she saw Prajapati run out of the station’s kiosk yelling, “Hey, hey.”

    Prajapati disappeared from her view but she saw a silver SUV driving “really fast” out of the gas station and realized the attendant was being dragged along, Dajao told the court.

    She estimated the SUV reached 80 km/h.

    A witness testified Wednesday that the SUV accelerated before hitting Prajapati and showed no signs of braking. Prajapati, a 44-year-old husband and father, was dragged and then run over by one of the SUV’s front wheels, then caught and dragged by one of the SUV’s rear wheels as the vehicle pulled out of the gas station, Fernando Aspiazu said.

    The Crown presented video Monday showing a stocky man with dark hair and a beard pull up to the Shell station near Eglinton Ave. W. and Allen Rd., pump gas into his silver SUV and two jerry cans, and drive away without paying.

    The Crown alleges Tutiven is the man in that video, and claims that he committed six gas thefts in the year leading up to Prajapati’s death.


    Witness heard ‘gas and dash’ death 18 floors up, trial hears Witness heard ‘gas and dash’ death 18 floors up, trial hearsWitness heard ‘gas and dash’ death 18 floors up, trial hears Witness heard ‘gas and dash’ death 18 floors up, trial hears

    0 0


    Little worn blue shoes sat on the sidewalk of a parking lot in the shadow of a high-rise apartment. Next to them, amidst yellow police tape, were the remnants of a failed rescue mission: a purple paramedic’s bag, a yellow toy, a small water bottle, a red car with the passenger side window broken.

    A few steps away, a black car seat sat upright, empty.

    This was the scene on a hot Thursday afternoon at 299 Mill Rd. in Etobicoke, where a child, age and gender still unknown, died after being left in a car for an estimated four hours.

    The identity of the person who left the child in the car remains unclear, but police confirm that one person has been arrested.

    “We don’t know what happened here yet,” said Toronto police Const. David Hopkinson.

    As people gathered in their balconies to look down at the lengthy police investigation below, senior residents gathered outside answering inquiries from children coming home from the school next door, and dog-walkers heading to the dog park just behind the parking lot where the child died.

    Residents of the building told the Star that the child was left in the red Hyundai at 9 a.m. and found by the superintendent around 1 p.m.

    With temperatures hitting 26 C, the superintendent broke the window and pulled the child out, and called an ambulance, said Doreen Ormsby, a long-time resident of the building.

    Police, paramedics and Toronto firefighters were called to the building parking lot, near Burnhamthorpe and Mill Rds., at about 2 p.m.

    The child was rushed to the hospital where it was pronounced dead.

    Sylvia Barreiro, a resident of the apartment behind 299 Mill Rd., was tanning in the greenery adjacent to the apartment when she learned what happened.

    “It’s so disturbing to hear this happened,” Barreiro said.

    The car is registered to Zeljana Kosovac, 50, a resident of 299 Mill Rd.


    Child dies after being left in car in extreme heat in EtobicokeChild dies after being left in car in extreme heat in Etobicoke

    0 0


    Across Ontario, 83 per cent of schools offer before- and after-class care for students, new statistics show — but in Toronto, only about three-quarters do, the lowest rate across the Greater Toronto Area.

    The figures, based on early estimates, show Halton public and Catholic boards as well as the Dufferin-Peel Catholic board run after-care for kids ages 4 to 12 in all elementary schools — the highest rate in the GTA.

    The Toronto public board has programs in 74 per cent of schools, with the Toronto Catholic board slightly higher at 76 per cent.

    This is the first year that boards are mandated to offer after-hours care for students up to age 12, where demand warrants, run by the boards themselves, private licensed child-care centres or approved agencies that run recreational programs.

    “This is an important milestone we have reached,” said Early Years Minister Indira Naidoo-Harris in announcing the new numbers. “… It’s a step forward toward giving Ontario families the quality care they want, during the hours they need … working parents rely on this kind of care at the beginning and end of their day.”

    But in some areas — in particular in Toronto’s east end — parents continue to struggle to find spots.

    Sara Ehrhardt, who is the administrator of the 300-member Toronto East Enders for Child Care, said her child is already on a wait-list for school-aged care not needed for another four years. The East York and Scarborough area has seen unusually high growth in preschool age children, she added.

    “What we’re seeing on the ground is that while there may be spaces in many of the schools, the number of spaces are insufficient to meet the demand,” she said.

    While pleased to see more spaces open up, her concern is also about the quality of care.

    “It remains very unclear who is ensuring the quality of program,” she said. “It was even an issue before these changes. We want more spots, but we also want them to be safe spaces.”

    Elaine Baxter-Trahair, general manager of Toronto children’s services, said the province sets the licensing standards, and the city monitors the quality.

    Baxter-Trahair said staffing has also emerged as an issue, as before- and after-school care leads to the dreaded split shifts. Both the province and city are looking to create workforce strategies, looking in part at ways “to make it less precarious employment.”

    Beaches-East York Councillor Janet Davis said additional spaces are welcome, but affordability is still an issue that needs to be addressed.

    Percentage of schools in boards across Greater Toronto that have before- and after-school child care:

    York Catholic – 98%

    York public – 97%

    Peel public – 79%

    Dufferin-Peel Catholic - 100%

    Halton public – 100%

    Halton Catholic – 100 %

    Toronto public – 74%

    Toronto Catholic – 76%


    Eighty-three per cent of Ontario schools now offer student care before and after classEighty-three per cent of Ontario schools now offer student care before and after class

    0 0


    BUNIA, CONGO—She had been orphaned by a brutal conflict, but the 14-year-old Congolese girl found refuge in a camp protected by United Nations peacekeepers.

    The camp should have been safe the day she was raped. A delegation from the UN was paying a visit, and her grandmother had left her in charge of her siblings. That was the day, the girl says, that a Pakistani peacekeeper slipped inside their home and assaulted her in front of the other children.

    But that was not the end of her story. Even though she reported the rape, the girl never got any help from the UN. She did become pregnant, however, and had a baby.

    If the UN sexual abuse crisis has an epicentre, it is the Congo, where the scope of the problem first emerged 13 years ago—and where promised reforms have most clearly fallen short. Of the 2,000 sexual abuse and exploitation complaints made against UN peacekeepers and personnel worldwide over the past 12 years, more than 700 occurred in Congo, The Associated Press found. The embattled African nation is home to the UN’s largest peacekeeping force, which costs a staggering $1 billion (U.S.) a year.

    The raped teenager’s experience is grimly emblematic of the underbelly of UN peacekeeping, and the organization as a whole. During a yearlong investigation, the AP found that despite promising reform for more than a decade, the UN failed to meet many of its pledges to stop the abuse or help victims, some of whom have been lost to a sprawling bureaucracy. Cases have disappeared or been handed off to the peacekeepers’ home countries — which often do nothing with them.

    The attack on the 14-year-old was so brazen it still haunts the UN’s top human rights official more than a decade after hearing the girl’s story.

    “What on earth would it take for this soldier not to do it—to have all the heads of the UN together, and he still does it?” asked Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein, a member of the delegation that heard the girl’s testimony in 2004. One year later, he helped write a landmark report intended to curb sexual abuse and exploitation within the UN system.

    With rare exceptions, victims interviewed by the AP received no help. Instead, many were banished from their families for having mixed-race children—who also are shunned, becoming a second generation of victims.

    The AP even found a girl who was raped by two peacekeepers; she gave birth to two babies by the time she was 14.

    To this day, the sexual violence by UN peacekeepers and personnel continues: Congo already accounts for nearly one-third of the 43 allegations made worldwide in 2017.

    William L. Swing was in charge of the Congo mission between May 2003 and January 2008, a period when abuse allegations swelled in a country that has been torn by dictatorship, civil war and unrest for the last half-century.

    “I take full responsibility for what happened,” Swing told the AP last week. “I knew at the time the buck stopped with me.”

    Swing said the UN at times made it clear he should be relieved of his duties. Instead, he was named the head of the UN’s International Organization for Migration. Now, he sits on a new task force appointed to tackle the problem yet again. Swing insists the mistakes made during the early years of the Congo mission provided lessons that could shape new reforms.

    “You can never make someone who has been sexually violated whole,” he said. “But you can give them a sense that the organization is trying to make them whole.”

    The AP found that victims of car accidents involving UN vehicles are more likely to receive compensation than victims of rape. Why? Because those injuries were inflicted during the course of the UN worker’s “official duties.”

    Although the UN has substantiated at least 41 cases of paternity worldwide since 2010, it can cite only one instance in which a paternity payment was made, according to online records of allegations. The AP independently confirmed a second paternity payment to a Haitian woman earlier this year.

    Justice is even more elusive because the cases get referred to the alleged perpetrators’ home countries. Even after a UN investigation discovered a three-year child sex ring involving Sri Lankan peacekeepers in Haiti, Sri Lanka prosecuted no one, the AP’s investigation revealed.

    Yet at the yearly UN General Assembly gathering in New York, Sri Lanka this week was named to the UN’s “circle of leadership” for the next reform effort.

    Poor record-keeping has been a major obstacle to reform.

    The UN had no record of the 14-year-old orphan who was raped on the day the top UN delegation visited. Officials did find another case with similar details, but said it was “unsubstantiated” at the time because the girl identified the wrong foreigner in a photo lineup. They did not know what became of the orphan.

    But in just three days last month, the AP found a woman whose story closely matched the one that Zeid, the UN human rights official, found so unforgettable. She was inebriated and living in poverty. A relative has raised the daughter born as a result of rape as her own.

    In an interview with the AP, the adoptive mother, Dorcas Zawadi, said she refuses to allow the girl near UN bases.

    “The peacekeepers try to distract the girls with cookies, candy and milk to rape them,” she said.

    “Daddy, Daddy, it’s my Daddy!”

    In interviews with nearly a dozen women who said they were raped by peacekeepers, patterns quickly emerged.

    A woman named Blandine said she was raped as a teenager and became pregnant. Her son Michael, now 8, only knows that the man was a foreigner from one of the U.N. peacekeeping missions that have been in Congo since his mother was a little girl.

    Every time the boy sees a pale-skinned man, he cries out, “Daddy, Daddy, it’s my Daddy!”

    “He thinks anyone with pale skin might be his father. He’ll hug any pale-skinned foreigner,” his mother said. She and the other nine sexual abuse victims interviewed in eastern Congo asked that only their first names be used because of what they endured.

    Like his mother, the boy is shunned by villagers, left to play only with the other children of peacekeepers. In the eyes of the community the children of peacekeepers are “muzungus,” a Swahili word used to describe white people. The mothers babysit for one another, sharing responsibilities and the reality of being effectively sentenced to a lifetime of poverty from a single, violent moment in their youths.

    The women told the AP stories of not being able to finish their studies, of being thrown out of their homes for getting pregnant, and of not being able to find husbands because of their mixed-race children. One thing they all want is financial help to raise their kids.

    The key to that is establishing paternity, which is elusive for most now that their attackers have long since gone home to their own countries.

    Blandine remembers looking at a lineup in hopes of identifying the man who raped her, a peacekeeper she said came from Morocco. But the U.N. said it had no record of her case.

    “The U.N. had sent investigators around 2010 to investigate our case and they had promised they would take care of our children, but nothing ever followed,” she said.

    A mother of two by age 14

    When it comes to justice or transparency, the UN largely is powerless to force troop-contributing countries into action. As part of its investigation, the AP contacted nearly two dozen countries. None were willing to detail how many of their troops had been accused or the punishments imposed in substantiated cases, underscoring an overall lack of accountability.

    Today, the UN says aid is provided to young girls and women even while they are awaiting paternity results. But that’s too little, too late for young women in Congo like Bora, who was raped and exploited by two peacekeepers and bore their babies while she was a child herself.

    Bora was 11 years old the first time. She didn’t know where to turn. She had no idea she could file a complaint after being raped by a peacekeeper who had offered her bread and a banana. As a result, there was no physical evidence that could have confirmed the rape.

    “It was the first man who ever touched me,” she recalled.

    She gave birth to a son she named John. Estranged from her family, she could no longer go to school.

    Two years later, when Bora was 13, another peacekeeper took advantage of her, and she became pregnant a second time. As she talked to an AP reporter, she looked away at a concrete wall in the bare room, telling the story of her life as if it had happened to someone else.

    An uncle took custody of her children after seeing how the teen was struggling. At times, Bora has gone as long as a year without being able to visit.

    “I’ll never forget what happened to me,” she said. “It is lodged in my heart.”

    “I was afraid”

    More than a decade after the peacekeeper scandal surfaced in 2004, the cases continued. In the Congolese village of Mavivi, about a dozen women, half of whom were minors at the time, said they had been impregnated by peacekeepers in recent years.

    Among them is Noella, who sold bananas and mobile phone credit near the Tanzanians’ UN base after her parents could no longer afford her school fees.

    Early one morning just days after her 15th birthday in December 2014, she said, a Tanzanian peacekeeper called out to her and offered her $20. She thought he wanted phone credit.

    “A few minutes later, he threw himself on top of me and started to rape me,” she said. “I said nothing to my parents because I was afraid.”

    In a rare move, she reported the rape and identified the peacekeeper she thought fathered her child. Tanzania went ahead and conducted DNA testing, but the test was not a match.

    With no proof of paternity, Noella was kicked out of her parents’ home. Now she struggles to raise her 2-year-old child on her own.

    The 14-year-old orphan who said she was raped by a Pakistani peacekeeper did not recover from her attack. Friends and relatives say she soon turned to alcohol to numb her pain. Zawadi says she whisked the child away when she still was a baby out of fear the mother would harm her.

    “She only knows me as her mother, and I love her as my own child,” the woman said. “When I die, she will receive the same inheritance as my other children. They know her as my biological child, even with her pale skin.”

    When Zawadi rescued the child, she gave the girl a new name, a name she prayed would give her a better life despite the circumstances of how she came into the world.

    She called her Hope.


    Congo leads world in sex abuse allegations made against UN peacekeepersCongo leads world in sex abuse allegations made against UN peacekeepersCongo leads world in sex abuse allegations made against UN peacekeepersCongo leads world in sex abuse allegations made against UN peacekeepersCongo leads world in sex abuse allegations made against UN peacekeepersCongo leads world in sex abuse allegations made against UN peacekeepersCongo leads world in sex abuse allegations made against UN peacekeepersCongo leads world in sex abuse allegations made against UN peacekeepers

    0 0


    Heartbroken residents are clearing away scattered pieces of buildings and trees on the British Virgin Islands — which braved two major hurricanes within two weeks, wiping out most homes.

    Hurricane Maria struck the island Tuesday night destroying most of what was left after the first storm. It dragged the debris left behind by Hurricane Irma across the island — causing further road blocks and thrashing of homes.

    “It’s like a nuclear bomb had gone off or a forest fire raged because there is nothing left in terms of wildlife and plants,” said Katelyn Woodman, a former Ajax, Ont., resident now teaching math on the islands.

    “Cars are in the water and boats are on the land, trees have been pulled from their roots and flown into buildings, there are no roofs on probably 85 per cent of the houses.”

    After wreaking havoc on the British Virgin Islands, Maria’s deadly path took it through Puerto Rico and lashed the Dominican Republic on Thursday morning. The deadly storm is expected to move into the Bahamas on Friday.

    International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said that 6,000 Canadians who were in the path of Hurricane Maria were evacuated before the storm hit. She added that 168 Canadians who chose not to leave have requested federal assistance in the midst of the devastating storm that is ravaging the Caribbean.

    Woodman was one of the Canadians who chose not to leave her island, where she has been living for three years. She wanted to help her students and the other residents with the cleanup.

    She hid inside her concrete-walled home during both Category 5 hurricanes. By some miracle, she said, her home is still intact, even though many others in the area had been severely damaged.

    “The entire time we could hear the debris being lifted off the land and we could hear all of the palm trees, shrapnel and rubble hitting our block,” she said. “It felt like you were in a box and someone was shaking it around like toy.”

    With winds of 255 km/h, the most recent storm left many without a home. Several of Woodman’s students are currently living in the school, which is now a makeshift shelter.

    Woodman said the second hurricane that hit the British Virgin Islands further shook up the islands — leaving the place unrecognizable. The night, now, she said, is eerily silent because the frogs and crickets are no longer there.

    “It just looks like a landfill, as if someone has just taken their hand and wiped it completely across the island, it’s brown and bare, it just looks dead,” she said. “It’s sad and heartbreaking.”

    Before the second storm struck, she said she could sense the fear people were feeling.

    “You could feel it in the grocery store, in the lines and walking through town, people were nervous about this one as well,” she said. “A lot of people were more nervous about Maria, because they realized what a Category 5 could do.”

    Former Quebec resident Guy-Paul Dubois was forced to flee his home on the British Virgin Islands where he lived for 15 years after Hurricane Irma struck. He experienced Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, where he was sent after being evacuated.

    “I had no roof, no more home, we were sleeping where it was wet everywhere in Tortola, I had to leave everything but a bag and my two dogs behind,” he said. “I don’t want to think about it anymore.”

    After experiencing Irma in Tortola, Dubois said he felt that Puerto Rico was in better shape, despite reports that Maria knocked out electricity to the entire island and triggered landslides and floods.

    “You can still see some green and trees here,” he said Thursday after the hurricane. “There are still some leaves on the trees but Tortola was brown like a bomb had exploded.”

    With files from The Canadian Press


    Canadian British Virgin Islands residents mop up after two devastating hurricanesCanadian British Virgin Islands residents mop up after two devastating hurricanesCanadian British Virgin Islands residents mop up after two devastating hurricanesCanadian British Virgin Islands residents mop up after two devastating hurricanes

    0 0


    DHAKA—A truck filled with aid for Rohingya Muslim refugees in Bangladesh veered off a road and fell into a ditch Thursday morning, killing at least nine aid workers, hours after another aid shipment in the refugees’ violence-wracked home state in Burma was attacked by a Buddhist mob.

    Both shipments were from the International Committee of the Red Cross. Aid groups face different challenges on either side of the border: An influx of more than 420,000 refugees in less than a month in Bangladesh, and in Burma, government resistance and angry allegations from majority Buddhists that international organizations are favouring the long-persecuted Rohingya minority.

    A Bangladeshi medical administrator, Aung Swi Prue, said six people died instantly in the truck crash near the border in southeastern Bandarban district. Three people died after reaching a hospital, and 10 others were injured and are receiving treatment.

    ICRC spokeswoman Misada Saif said all of those killed were Bangladeshi workers hired to distribute food packages to 500 Rohingya families.

    Saif said the truck belongs to the ICRC and Bangladesh Red Crescent Society and was operated by a supplier who has been working for the two agencies for last couple of weeks. She said agency officials are “very shocked and sad.”

    “Our thoughts are with the families of the dead. They were there to help the people who desperately need help,” she said.

    The Rohingya exodus began Aug. 25, after Rohingya insurgent attacks on police set off a military crackdown.

    Read more:

    International indifference fuelled slow-burning Rohingya genocide: Kanji

    Rohingya Muslims being wiped off Burma’s map

    Nobel laureate Suu Kyi dodges ethnic cleansing charges in speech parroting the generals who locked her up

    Hundreds of people have been killed and thousands of homes have been burned in what many Rohingya have described as a systematic effort by Burma’s military to drive them out. The government has blamed the Rohingya, even saying they set fire to their own homes, but the UN and others accuse it of ethnic cleansing.

    Most refugees have ended up in camps in the Bangladeshi district of Cox’s Bazar, which already had hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees who had fled prior rounds of violence. Bandarban is a neighbouring district where thousands of Rohingya also have fled.

    The violence in Burma occurred just across the border in Rakhine state, where police said a Buddhist mob threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at officers Wednesday night as they tried to block Red Cross supplies from being loaded onto a boat. The vessel was headed to an area where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims have chased from their homes. No injuries were reported and police detained eight of the attackers.

    Dozens of people arrived at a jetty in the Rakhine state capital, Sittwe, as a boat was being loaded bottled water, blankets, mosquito nets, food and other supplies. As the crowd swelled to 300, they started throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at the officers, who responded by firing into the air, said police officer Phyo Wai Kyaw.

    The government of the predominantly Buddhist nation of 60 million said police and several monks showed up to try to defuse tensions. The shipment ultimately was loaded and sent to northern Rakhine state.

    Though Burma’s de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, told diplomats this week humanitarian assistance was being sent to those who remain in northern Rakhine, the government has blocked all UN assistance to the area, granting access to only the Red Cross.

    Buddhists in Rakhine have accused international aid agencies of favouring Rohingya, a group who Burma and many of its people contend migrated illegally from Bangladesh.

    “We are explaining to the community members who approached the boats about the activities of the Red Cross,” said Maria Cecilia Goin, a communications officer at the ICRC in Rangoon.

    “It’s important for them to understand that we are working in neutral and impartial way,” she said, adding that the work is being done “with full transparency with the (Burmese) authorities.”

    Suu Kyi’s speech this week in Naypyitaw, the capital, defended her government’s conduct in Rahkine state and avoided criticism of the military. The country’s top general went a step further, travelling to northern Rakhine on Thursday to praise security forces for their “gallant” efforts to defend Burma

    At a meeting with military officials and their families in Buthiduang township, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Min Aung Hlaing said that more than a century ago when the area was a British colony, Rohingya — whom he referred to as “Bengalis” — were allowed to settle without restrictions.

    “Later, the Bengali population exploded and the aliens tried to seize the land of local ethnics,” Min Aung Hlaing said, according to his office’s Facebook page. He described repeated army efforts since Burma’s independence in 1948 to “to crush the mujahedeen insurgents,” including in 2012 and last fall.

    “Race cannot be swallowed by the ground, but only by another race,” he said. “All must be loyal to the state in serving their duties, so that such cases will never happen again.”


    Buddhist mob attacks Red Cross shipment destined for Rohingya Muslims as 9 aid workers die in crashBuddhist mob attacks Red Cross shipment destined for Rohingya Muslims as 9 aid workers die in crash

    0 0


    Toronto police are searching for a man who they say pretended to be an officer, then caused a collision while directing traffic and dancing.

    The incident happened last Saturday at Bloor St. W. and Christie St. Police said the man, who wore a police uniform, was dancing as he attempted to direct traffic when two cars crashed.

    Police said Thursday they were called to the crash at 6:15 p.m. It doesn’t appear anyone was hurt, but investigators said the incident was caused by the fake officer’s attempt at directing traffic.

    Police said the man is about six feet tall with a thin build. He wore a police hat, a vest with ‘police’ written on the front and back, a gun belt, a dark-coloured, short-sleeved police uniform shirt, dark shorts, white socks and black dress shoes.

    Investigators are asking anyone who witnessed the incident to call 14 Division at 416-808-1400, or get in touch anonymously through Crime Stoppers.


    Fake cop causes accident while directing traffic and dancing, Toronto police sayFake cop causes accident while directing traffic and dancing, Toronto police say

    0 0


    NEW YORK—U.S. President Donald Trump ordered a widening of U.S. sanctions on North Korea on Thursday in an effort to constrict its trade with the outside world, as he presented a united front with South Korea and Japan and sought to forge a common strategy for confronting the isolated nuclear-armed state.

    A new executive order he announced would target additional North Korean entities and suggested that he was still committed to rising economic pressure and diplomacy for now, rather than eventual covert or military action.

    Two days earlier, Trump said the United States would “totally destroy North Korea” if it threatened the United States or its allies.

    North Korea has tested a nuclear bomb and intercontinental ballistic missiles in recent weeks.

    It remained doubtful that additional measures would change North Korea’s behaviour. The United States and other nations have imposed a wide array of economic and diplomatic sanctions on North Korea over the years, most recently when the UN Security Council approved a U.S.-drafted resolution last week.

    The new sanctions order came as Trump hosted South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for a show of solidarity on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. While the president is largely aligned with Abe, he has derided South Korea’s approach to the North as “appeasement,” declaring that “talking is not the answer.”

    But no mention was made of that Thursday, and instead Trump declared that the United States and South Korea were “making a lot of progress” together.

    The most important regional player, however, is not in New York: China’s President Xi Jinping. He skipped this year’s UN session. Still, Trump spent an hour on the telephone with him earlier in the week.

    Moon, who has argued for more engagement with his northern neighbour and opposed a military strike that would endanger his own nation, praised Trump’s bellicose speech to the General Assembly on Tuesday.

    “North Korea has continued to make provocations and this is extremely deplorable and this has angered both me and our people,” Moon said. “But the United States has responded firmly and in a very good way. You made a very strong speech and I believe the strength of your speech will also help contain North Korea.”

    While embracing Trump’s speech, Moon earlier in the day urged world leaders in his own address to the General Assembly to “peacefully solve the North Korea nuclear issue,” to step up diplomatic pressure and to do everything possible to prevent war on the Korean Peninsula.

    Moon told the audience that he had been born during the Korean War and that his father had died while displaced from home. He urged world leaders to increase sanctions so that North Korea is compelled to choose what he called “the path of dialogue.” And he urged Pyongyang to “abandon its hostile policies against other countries and give up its nuclear weapons program in a verifiable and irreversible way.”

    The speech was a counterpoint to the Trump administration’s threats.

    “All of our endeavours are to prevent the outbreak of war from breaking out and maintain peace,” Moon said. “In that respect, the situation surrounding the North Korean nuclear issue needs to be managed stably so that tensions will not become overly intensified or accidental military clashes will not destroy peace.”

    Moon sought to reassure the North about the South’s ambitions.

    “We do not desire the collapse of North Korea,” he said. “We will not seek unification by absorption or artificial means. If North Korea makes a decision even now to stand on the right side of history, we are ready to assist North Korea together with the international community.”

    The speech came a day after North Korea likened Trump to a “dog barking.”

    “Back home, we have a saying: The dog barks, but the caravan continues,” North Korea’s foreign minister, Ri Yong Ho, told reporters in New York on Wednesday when asked about Trump’s speech. “If he thought he could scare us with the noise of a dog barking, well, he should be daydreaming.”

    U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence said Trump would focus on nonviolent options during Thursday’s meetings with South Korean and Japanese leaders. Pence told Fox News that they would talk about marshalling “the economic and diplomatic power of the region and the wider world to achieve a peaceable outcome.”

    But he said Trump was serious about his threat.

    “We do not desire a military conflict,” Pence said. “But the president has made it very clear, as he did at the UN this week, that all options are on the table and we are simply not going to tolerate a rogue regime in Pyongyang obtaining usable nuclear weapons that could be mounted on a ballistic missile and threaten the people of the United States or our allies.”

    Nicholas Burns, an undersecretary of state under former president George W. Bush, said Trump’s meeting with the Japanese and South Korean leaders was critical.

    “What has been missing in Trump’s North Korea strategy is a major diplomatic show of unity among these three countries,” he said. “By standing firmly beside South Korea and Japan, President Trump can strengthen our strategic deterrence against Pyongyang.”


    Donald Trump widens U.S. sanctions on North KoreaDonald Trump widens U.S. sanctions on North Korea

    0 0


    On the eve of Parliament’s return, a quick drink with a prominent opponent of Justin Trudeau’s tax reforms brought consensus.

    It would be one of those political meteors, we decided. Canadians are not paying attention, and the tax reforms controversy would burn out in a couple of days.

    A week later, we both have to admit we were wrong.

    Finance Minister Bill Morneau is now accusing his opponents of “scare tactics,’’ terms like “class warfare” are being tossed around and Morneau and the prime minister are under attack for sheltering their own business and personal holdings.

    In this case, the Liberals not only fumbled their messaging but miscalculated their target.

    They may be well-heeled, but that merely allows them to more forcefully kick back.

    And we’re again learning that nothing is certain but death and opposition to tax increases.

    These are Canadians who do not consider themselves wealthy, who worked hard to get where they are today and hold influence in their communities.

    They were playing by the rules and — even though this move was signalled by the Liberals in their 2015 platform — feel blindsided.

    So the Liberals at midterm are going to end “income sprinkling,” the practice of paying other members of the family to lower the tax bill, going after business owners who invest money in their company that is not being used for that business, and ending the practice of income being treated as capital gains to lower the tax bill.

    This is not to argue against tax fairness. The Liberals are doing the right thing, but again they have been knocked off course almost immediately after the Commons returned.

    Those affected can eloquently state their case. And, in some cases, they can look beyond their own situation.

    Ellen McGregor is the CEO of Mississauga’s Fielding Environmental, a clean-tech company specializing in the recycling of waste solvents, glycols and refrigerants.

    The company says it “strives to save the planet one molecule at a time.”

    The company was founded by her father in 1955, it’s now run by her and her brother, and the third generation of McGregors are now involved in the business.

    The company employs about 85 people at its Mississauga plant and a smaller operation just outside Pittsburgh.

    Her opposition isn’t rooted in her wish for a bigger house, although she will certainly feel the effects of these changes.

    But, she says, the government has to take a larger view of the potential damage to the economy from these changes.

    She sees this as a threat to the clean-tech industry in this country. She also sees it as a threat to the innovation economy. She believes it will chase investment money out of the country to south of the border.

    The government is giving the impression that people like her ducked and hid and were doing something nefarious.

    She believes the Liberals look at her as greedy, but she’s the type that digs into her own pocket to give to charity.

    “All we did was structure by the rules,’’ she told me.

    When Morneau speaks at the annual meeting of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce this weekend he’ll be in the room with a bevy of opponents including a couple of orchard owners named the country’s outstanding young farmers last year, a co-owner of an independent pharmacy who fears that women will suffer disproportionately under the reforms and a restaurant owner who rebuilt after fire destroyed his original eatery and works with a charity aiming to break the cycle of family violence.

    He’ll be in the room with the CEO of a technology company who moved back to Canada to start her business and a fifth generation owner of a car dealership who now believes there will be no sixth generation.

    They are not likely to win this battle.

    Some of the opposition from doctors sounds a little overwrought. Other doctors have spoken in support of the moves.

    The Canadian Labour Congress and some business groups, unlikely allies, back the move.

    An Angus Reid Institute poll has Canadians split right down the middle on the issue, with half declaring the move will make the tax system fairer and half convinced it will hurt business investment. Even small business owners polled were not showing the outrage that is being channelled from the opposition benches this week.

    The tax changes will go through. But this is sticking, and Morneau may yet have to offer something else to cushion the blow. Memories for some voters are long.

    Tim Harper writes on national affairs. tjharper77@gmail.com, Twitter: @nutgraf1


    On Trudeau’s tax reform, the well-heeled kick back: Tim HarperOn Trudeau’s tax reform, the well-heeled kick back: Tim Harper

    0 0


    Let the Invictus Games begin: once we clear up some questions.

    Starting with a big-production opening ceremony at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday and chugging along until the closing ceremonies on Sept. 30, the Games are about to stamp a significant presence on Toronto for the first time. But what are the games? Can anyone go see them? And how is the British monarchy involved?

    Read more: Invictus Game flag tour arrives in Toronto

    Here’s your rookie’s guide to what’s going on.

    Q: What’s actually happening over the next week?

    A: Wounded war veterans and service members duking it out over adaptive sport, emotionally charged ceremonies and planeloads of interesting people landing in Toronto from all over the world.

    The Toronto games are the third iteration of Invictus, and are set to include more than 550 competitors from 17 countries. Twelve different sports are on the table — including golf, which hasn’t been an event in previous years.

    Q: How’s Prince Harry involved in all this?

    A: He’s the founder. Back in 2014, the fifth-in-line to the British throne established Invictus and held the inaugural event in London. The event didn’t actually run in 2015, but it picked back up in Orlando, Fla., last year.

    Prince Harry served in Afghanistan in 2008 and the early 2010s, a time in his life that sparked a feeling that later became Invictus.

    In a piece the Prince wrote for the Star this summer, he writes about a day in particular when he was held on an airfield runway so the body of a Danish soldier could be loaded on board. Three British soldiers on the plane were also in induced comas.

    That plane ride, he wrote, is where the idea for all this began.

    Q: All right, I’m interested. But how much is this going to cost me?

    A: Wheelchair tennis fans, rejoice! For you — along with aficionados of archery, cycling, golf, and land rover driving challenges — tickets to sporting events at venues like Fort York, the Distillery District and Nathan Phillips Square are completely free.

    Countless adjacent events are cropping up through the city, too. If you’re one of the first 230 people at the Four Seasons Centre on Sept. 27, you’ll see a Canadian Opera Company concert entirely free of charge.

    If you’re willing to spend a little more, $25 will get you into any number of events from powerlifting to indoor rowing, as well as either the preliminaries or the finals of wheelchair basketball. To follow the action, see both for $50.

    Big spenders can drop between $60 and $150 per person to the opening or closing ceremonies at the Air Canada Centre. As of Thursday, there are still tickets left to the opening ceremony, though the closing has sold out.

    Q: Which is going to be better? The opening ceremony or the closing?

    A: We’ve yet to determine the odds of Sarah McLaughlin singing I Will Remember You during her performance at the opening on Sept. 23, so this is a judgment call. What’s certain is that she’ll be joined at the kickoff event by Alessia Cara, The Tenors, Laura Wright and La Bottine Souriante.

    But the closing ceremony on Sept. 30 is bringing out some heavy hitters, too. We’re looking at performances from Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams, Kelly Clarkson, Coeur de Pirate and Bachman & Turner to start.

    Either way, you’re getting an ACC show produced by Patrick Roberge — the man behind dazzling Grey Cup half-time shows and Olympic spectacles — coloured by the emotional stories of international service members.

    On a practical level: leave early. With road closures, traffic will likely be a mess both days. No bags or water bottles will be allowed inside, either.

    Q: Who else is in town?

    A: If you thought TIFF drew out household names last week, buckle up for this one.

    Beyond his royal highness, a wave of political figures are hitting Toronto. Former U.S. president Barack Obama and current first lady Melania Trump will be in town to support American troops, with Trump leading the American delegation. (Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton is also in town next week for the Toronto leg of her new book tour.)

    A slew of recognizable faces are landing in the city for We Day, an official partner for the Games. Kelly Clarkson, Penny Oleksiak, Ban Ki-moon, Hedley, Andre De Grasse, George Takei, Vanessa Hudgens and Spencer West will take to the stage on Sept. 28 at the ACC before the big finale.

    Officially, though, the ambassador of the Toronto games is actor Mike Myers.

    Q: Mike Myers?

    A: Mike Myers. He appeared at the 2016 Invictus Games in Orlando, too, where he gave a speech about understanding and respecting service members. Kent Hehr, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, called Myers “a true Canadian talent” when the announcement came out this year.

    Q: We want to know about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

    A: Nope. There is no verified information on whether the Prince and his lady will be anywhere together in any official capacity. Tabloid speculation is more-or-less limited to the bare bones: Invictus is in Toronto. Markle lives in Toronto. Anything else is guesswork at this point.

    Q: Do I cheer for Team Canada, like the Olympics?

    A: Sure. There are 90 Canadian athletes on Team Canada for Invictus. All of them sustained a physical or mental health injury or illness while serving.

    Athletes come from one of three groups: the navy, the army, or the air force. Some are rookies to the Invictus sports, and some are still in active duty.

    But despite 17 different teams to choose from at Invictus, Canadian archery and sitting volleyball athlete Rob Sanders is adding one more. He’s said he’ll try to wear a number 14 during the team sports in honour of former Maple Leafs star Dave Keon — “one of the best players in Leafs history.”

    Q: If I miss it this year, where’s the next one?

    A: Sydney, Australia, next year. Pack earplugs for a long-haul flight.


    A rookie’s guide to the Invictus GamesA rookie’s guide to the Invictus Games

    0 0


    High-profile personal injury lawyer Jeremy Diamond is facing a reprimand from the Law Society of Upper Canada and has been ordered to pay $25,000 in costs to the legal regulator for failing to co-operate fully with its investigation into his financial books.

    In a decision rendered Thursday, Law Society Tribunal adjudicator Raj Anand noted that it took five formal requests by law society investigators over several months for Diamond to hand over documents concerning his referral fee operation dating back to October 2013.

    “The law society has demonstrated a failure to co-operate by the respondent, who thereby breached his obligations as a licensee,” Anand wrote.

    Read more:

    Jeremy Diamond was slow to hand over documents to law society, tribunal told

    Diamond & Diamond’s top lawyer faces professional misconduct probe

    Jordan Whelan, a spokesperson for Diamond and Diamond Lawyers and president of public relations agency Grey Smoke Media, told the Star Thursday night that “after consulting with counsel, we will be appealing the decision.”

    Diamond has been under investigation by the law society since October 2016 for allegations including “failing to adequately inform clients” about referral fees and “engaging in improper/misleading advertising,” according to documents filed as part of his disciplinary hearing in July. A spokesperson for the law society told the Star the lawyer remains under investigation despite Thursday’s ruling.

    Lawyers in Ontario are self-regulated and must produce financial records to the law society when asked.

    In his ruling, Anand recounted much of the law society’s correspondence with Diamond and his lawyers over a period of more than five months, including a letter from Diamond’s lawyer last November that stated that Diamond did not have a trust account, and that referral fees, including “upfront fees,” were deposited into his professional corporation’s general account, and that the firm “does not have trust receipt journals, general receipt journals, fees book, or client trust ledgers per se.”

    Law society bylaws state that lawyers must maintain records showing all money received, including the date the money came in, how it came in and who it came from.

    “In my view, as a matter of common sense, it was difficult to believe that Mr. Diamond’s professional corporation did not keep records of each referral fee that it received,” Anand wrote.

    In December, a Star investigation revealed that Diamond’s firm had for many years been attracting thousands of would-be clients and then referring them out to other lawyers for sometimes hefty fees. Former clients the Star spoke to said they were often unaware they had been referred out, or that a fee had been paid. Diamond & Diamond has told the Star it has a growing roster of in-house lawyers to handle cases.

    Anand credited Diamond with expressing his willingness to co-operate with investigators and the fact that he did not challenge the law society’s authority to request the information it was seeking.

    However, it wasn’t until July 2017 when two forensic auditors with the law society met with Diamond and his bookkeeper that investigators concluded the firm did maintain records that contained information required for general receipts and disbursements journals.

    “In my view . . . Mr. Diamond knew or should have known of the contents of the bylaw and his obligation to comply with it. He knew from the outset that the law society was investigating the referral process and the source, calculation and amount of referral fees he was collecting,” Anand wrote.

    “The sequence of requests and responses represented a ‘cat and mouse game’ that has no place in the relationship between licensees and regulator.”


    Lawyer Jeremy Diamond ordered to pay $25,000 in costs to Ontario law societyLawyer Jeremy Diamond ordered to pay $25,000 in costs to Ontario law society

    0 0


    Gifts are easy. They’re given, after all. Choices can be hard. You can seduce yourself with your gifts if you’re not careful. And if you do, it will probably be to the detriment of your choices.

    Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos

    The beauty contest launched by Jeff Bezos is a corporate experiment unmatched in modern times. The challenge of choice he has set for himself — or the gift he will bestow — is to select a site for a second Amazon headquarters, a new HQ, or HQ2 as Bezos calls it. Cities across the continent are going mad, garishly sashaying about with their attributes on display, Toronto among them.

    Amazon has set a response deadline of Oct. 19 for cities to make their prettiest pitch. Or silliest. Gary, Indiana, placed an advertisement in the New York Times this week in the form of a letter from “Gary” to Mr. Jeff Bezos. “How are you?” the letter begins. “My name is Gary and I am a legacy city in the Northwest corner of Indiana. I was born in 1906 and my parents were Elbert Gary and U.S. Steel.”

    Yet there’s something very right about the letter/ad from a city fallen on hard times, and it is this thought: “We can strike a mutually beneficial deal that changes the course of my future as well as the families who live here.”

    As big cities rich in STEM grads and mass transit and housing availability itemize how they meet the requirements for an Amazon campus that will grow to 50,000 full-time employees, one wonders what differentiating characteristics could tip the balance.

    Gary’s letter more modestly reminds Bezos that in making his choice he’s in a position to pull off a transformation of place, an experiment as sociological as it is corporate.

    In an analysis piece posted to the Medium website, Lyman Stone crunches a whole lot of data leading to the conclusion that “every city is bad for Amazon and nobody can fulfill their [request for proposal].” Stone mapped metro areas with Amazon’s wish list as his guide. Seeking those cities with a large STEM pipeline generates a list that includes Minneapolis, Raleigh and Chicago. Metros with potentially sufficient housing supply to host Amazon draws the spotlight to Rochester, Charlotte, St. Louis.

    I’m not being comprehensive here, but you get the idea.

    “On the housing supply front, there are cities that have produced excess housing units, and then there are cities that are priced competitively, and there is no overlap between them,” Stone writes.

    For a company driven by data points and metrics, it’s unlikely that any of this comes as news to Amazon. So what’s all this about, then? Stone suggests that what Bezos really seeks is a city that can have its growth path altered in a significant way, decisively, by Amazon.

    Let’s put the spotlight more brightly on Bezos for a moment. All the energetic rah-rah city boosterism talk tends to overlook Bezos’s own corporate history, which is far from unblemished. An investigation in 2011 into Amazon’s Breinigsville, Penn., warehouse reported on conditions so overheated that paramedics were kept at the ready to treat dehydrated workers.

    “Those who couldn't quickly cool off and return to work were sent home or taken out in stretchers and wheelchairs and transported to area hospitals,” the Morning Call reported. “And new applicants were ready to begin work at any time.”

    An emergency room doctor notified federal health and safety regulators of the unsafe working environment at the warehouse. One employee compared the conditions to "working in a convection oven while blow-drying your hair."

    After the story ran, the company made a substantial investment in warehouse cooling.

    Other stories have documented the impact of Bezos’s leadership principles. Two years ago the New York Times reported on what the Times called a bruising and punishing workplace where fractiousness is encouraged.

    The Times cited cases where workers with legitimate health issues — surgery, breast cancer, the birth of a stillborn child — were put on performance improvement plans. “Even as the company tests delivery by drone and ways to restock toilet paper at the push of a bathroom button, it is conducting a little-known experiment in how far it can push white-collar workers, redrawing the boundaries of what is acceptable.”

    Last December, reporter Mary O’Connor went undercover for the Sunday Times, taking a job as a “picker” at Amazon’s warehouse in Scotland. She paid ₤10 a day for the bus that took her to the job, a bus that was arranged by the recruitment agency, earned ₤7 and change an hour, was not paid for her lunch break and was targeted for the four errors she made across 40 hours of “hunting and fetching.” Only one error per 40 hours is allowed before the worker’s performance becomes a disciplinary matter.

    The Times pronounced Amazonia “a soulless world of back-breaking toil, petty rules, low pay and Orwellian surveillance.”

    Nor did it help Amazon’s image that some workers at the distribution centre took to pitching tents nearby to avoid the transportation costs.

    Bezos is one of the richest men in the world. And the company he runs reported net income of $2.4 billion (U.S.) on revenues of $136 billion last year. But he’s not known for his philanthropy. Two months ago he pondered, via Twitter, what he should do with his dough.

    So maybe he’s decided he wants to be seen as a good guy, not just a parsimonious, obsessively focused entrepreneur with operations that sound as though they have been sprung from Modern Times.

    If that’s the case, Toronto is not his best bet.

    If that is the case, Bezos would be smart to consider a city poised for, and deserving of, transformation. Say, Detroit. Dan Gilbert, founder of Quicken Loans, is the guy behind that city’s bid.

    In a statement released to the media, Gilbert said his team is working with the city of Windsor on a transnational submission. “Amazon will be able to draw employees from two countries rich in technology talent with diverse backgrounds while cementing it as the first major company in the world whose headquarters would literally share an international border.”

    The hurdles are huge. To note just one, Amazon’s site requirements deem access to mass transit, never a priority in the birthplace of the car, a “core preference.” (Raise your hand if you’ve ever ridden the People Mover.)

    And while Detroit has gained considerable positive press for enjoying a renaissance, that so-called resurgence is still in its unproved infancy.

    All the more reason for Bezos to place a bet. This is his chance to remake a city. His potential contributions in education, skills training and internet connectivity are immeasurable. The potential, as corny as it may sound in his circles, to do good. That Ontario could play a part in this is a bonus, and a cause that the Wynne government should champion.

    jenwells@thestar.ca


    Why Toronto may not be the best place for Amazon’s new HQ: WellsWhy Toronto may not be the best place for Amazon’s new HQ: Wells

    0 0


    A pint-sized hockey jersey has been hanging in Jen McPetrie’s Stoney Creek kitchen for several days. It’s one piece among $500 worth of gear she’s hoping to dress her 6-year-old son, Brayden, in over the course of the long-anticipated hockey season.

    But the sight of the jersey has filled her with dread since Tuesday, when she learned she will probably have to break it to Brayden he can’t play on the select team he made after trying out.

    “It’s not because he’s not good enough. It’s not because of bad behaviour. It’s just because Hockey Canada didn’t let us know in advance” about mandated changes to hockey programming for kids age 4 to 6, McPetrie said Thursday.

    She’s one of many parents across the GTA pushing back over abrupt changes that they say could force advanced child players into programs below their skill level, disrupting plans for everyone involved.

    The Ontario Hockey Federation voted in March to implement Hockey Canada’s Initiation Program — the governing body’s official curriculum for young hockey players being introduced to the game — for all players 4 to 6 this season.

    The program includes rules about how practices and games should be conducted for this group, with the most significant requirement that they play on half the rinkrather than full-ice play.

    “This is an opportunity where kids can expand their abilities not just in hockey,” Phil McKee, the OHF executive director, said.

    Parents don’t contest the benefits of the Initiation Program, which promises to give new players more opportunities at the puck. But they think rigid implementation of the program will inadvertently hurt young kids who already play beyond their age level.

    The Initiation Program is a “phenomenal” idea for kids just starting out, McPetrie said, but “once they’ve mastered that skill you have to keep challenging them.”

    McPetrie had enrolled Brayden in the full-ice program with Stoney Creek Minor Hockey when he was 5.

    Local hockey programs say they weren’t told in advance they’d have to alter their programs immediately, which is why they let 6-year-old kids like Brayden try out for select teams that play full-ice.

    Confusion and scrambling ensued when the OHF wrote a letter in July to associations, stating they would have to comply, or risk being barred from tournament participation for all their age levels.

    For Bill Beaton, president of the Port Credit Hockey Association, that was the be-all-end-all.

    “We were led to believe . . . this year would be a transition year,” Beaton said. “We will convert this year; it’s going to be difficult.”

    Local programs now have to purchase and find storage for ice dividers so they can comply with the half-ice rules, and explain the program change to hundreds of parents.

    “We’re volunteers. I think it’s a very hard line to take with volunteers,” Beaton said.

    McKee admitted there was some confusion in the way the federation communicated the decision to its member leagues, but said it didn’t change the fact that the rules are now in place and enforceable.

    Parents from across the GTA are lobbying the OHF to loosen the rules.

    McKee said the federation will discus grandfathering this season’s players under the old rules at its meeting on Saturday, but no vote on the matter is scheduled.

    “We’re taking into account comments from parents and individuals,” he said. “One way or another, we’ll provide clarification Monday as to what’s been discussed.”


    Parents fuming over hardline on hockey rule changeParents fuming over hardline on hockey rule change

older | 1 | .... | 1027 | 1028 | (Page 1029) | 1030 | 1031 | .... | 1060 | newer