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    The provincial government says it will work with Toronto to create a new property tax category giving arts and culture hubs a break.

    It is now up to the city to make an official request to the province before any such changes could be implemented, said Trinity-Spadina MPP Han Dong in making the announcement at Queen’s Park on Tuesday.

    “This problem probably is more obvious now with the latest real estate spike,” he said. “The tenants — who often pay their share of property tax — are really feeling it right now. It’s been there for a long time, but adding the real estate pressure” has made the situation more urgent.

    His announcement came along with news that the building at the centre of the issue — 401 Richmond St. W.— was successful in appealing its tax bill, and will receive refunds back to 2013.

    Read more:

    Time running out for deal to save 401 Richmond

    Relief for 401 Richmond tenants on the way, city hopes

    City moves to save 401 Richmond and other cultural institutions

    The building was initially assessed at $57.6 million in 2016, which has now been reduced to $33.2 million.

    While the city already has the ability to grant tax reductions to charities and heritage properties, Dong says a unique classification is needed to support arts and culture facilities.

    “It’s important that the city moves fast to define this new tax class so culture hubs, like 401 Richmond, can continue to work without the worry of property tax assessments and uncertainties of whether they will continue to operate,” said Janice Solomon, who heads the Entertainment District Business Improvement Area.

    UrbanSpace, which owns 401 Richmond, blamed the hot real estate market for its skyrocketing tax bill, which had doubled since 2012. Before the settlement with Municipal Property Assessment Corporation, this year’s tax bill was expected to be more than $846,000.

    The site, an old factory, sits amidst pricey condos and office space and is home to a number of non-profit arts and culture groups. Over the years, the owner has shouldered much of the increased tax burden.

    Local Ward 20 Councillor Joe Cressy has been leading the push for the new tax category, and has worked at city hall to get 401 Richmond as many existing property tax breaks as possible.


    Toronto arts hub 401 Richmond getting property tax reliefToronto arts hub 401 Richmond getting property tax relief

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    MONTREAL—The ride-sharing company Uber says it will stop operating in Quebec on Oct. 14 unless the provincial government backs away from new training requirements sought as a condition for extending a pilot project that began last year.

    Jean-Nicolas Guillemette told reporters Tuesday in Montreal that requirements for drivers to complete 35 hours of training before they take to the streets were too onerous for the “vast majority” of the company's drivers, who drive part time, and would break the company's business model.

    He said the deal between Uber and Quebec to conduct a one-year pilot project already sets out rules that are “the most severe in North America.”

    Guillemette said he was hopeful that Uber and the Quebec Transport Ministry could meet before Oct. 14 to reach an agreement.

    Mathieu Gaudreault, a spokesman for Transport Minister Laurent Lessard, said before the ultimatum from Uber that the government had not been advised of any decision by the company to cease operations.

    The requirement that drivers submit to 35 hours of training, just like other taxi drivers in Quebec, and that the company have a police force conduct criminal background checks, rather than a private company, were announced last Friday.

    In announcing the more stringent rules, Lessard said: “They see it as a barrier to entry into the industry whereas we think they are the basic conditions to ensure that there is security for someone who wants to transport people who are not members of their family.”

    Gaudreault said Tuesday morning, when word of Uber's ultimatum began circulating in the media, that the government is open to discussing the way the mandatory training was delivered, but not the substance.

    “We're very open to it being training via the internet, or 35 hours of training by video, or some other way. We're very open,” he said in an interview.

    The conditions were proposed in negotiations for an extension of a one-year pilot project reached in September 2016.

    Under the deal, the Quebec government had granted Uber 300 operating licences and the company paid the government $0.90 for every ride up to 50,000 hours a week. Drivers were obliged to obtain a taxi license, but underwent training offered by the company. Background checks were to be performed by Uber, who used the services of a private company. Drivers were also prohibited from picking up passengers who had not requested a ride through the Uber application.

    In May 2016, the city of Toronto passed regulations in response to the popularity of Uber that eased the training requirements on taxi drivers and forced the company to pay $0.30 to the city.

    Edmonton, which was the first municipality to establish ride-sharing regulations, also left driver training up to individual companies, but demanded vehicle inspections, that drivers be insured and that Uber charge minimum prices that are identical to those of regular taxis.


    Uber says if Quebec stands by new rules, it'll cease operations in OctoberUber says if Quebec stands by new rules, it'll cease operations in October

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    OAKVILLE, ONT.—An Ontario town council will continue Wednesday to hear submissions on a plan to demolish the historic Glen Abbey golf course despite its heritage status.

    ClubLink is battling local residents over its redevelopment plan for the golf course, which has hosted the Canadian Open 28 times.

    The company that owns Glen Abbey Golf Course announced Monday that it has filed an application to demolish the site.

    In a letter sent to the Town of Oakville, ClubLink lawyer Mark Flowers said the company “will be proceeding with an application to the Town under section 34 of the Ontario Heritage Act to remove the golf course and demolish all buildings on the lands other than those that are proposed to be retained under ClubLink’s redevelopment proposal.

    The RayDor Estate House, which is currently leased to Golf Canada for its offices, the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame and Museum, and the Stables would be spared.

    The golf giant is hoping to build 3,222 residential units including nine nine-to-12 storey apartment buildings on the Glen Abbey Golf Course property at 1333 Dorval Dr.

    This proposal has created a great deal of concern among area residents, who fear what the development will do to traffic levels in the area.

    Others worry about the loss of green space, some have a problem with the proposed development’s density levels while others do not want to see a world-class golf course leave Oakville.

    Flowers said the demolition application was in response to the Aug. 21 decision by Oakville’s Planning and Development Council to pass a notice of intention to designate the entire 92-hectacre property under the Ontario Heritage Act.

    Experts cited the fact the course was designed by golf superstar Jack Nicklaus and its “spoke-and-wheel” design as evidence of cultural significance worth preserving.

    ClubLink officials called the council decision extremely broad and overreaching.

    They also noted they would not be appealing that decision because recommendations by the Conservation Review Board, which would hear the matter, are not binding on the Town.

    This decision not to appeal didn’t stop ClubLink from lashing out about the notice to designate.

    “The Town’s insistence that the entire golf course has heritage value and that the removal of the golf course cannot conserve the heritage resource might mean that ClubLink would be required to operate and maintain the golf course in perpetuity,” said ClubLink Chair and CEO Rai Sahi in a press release.

    “That’s simply not how the Ontario Heritage Act works.”

    Oakville Mayor Rob Burton says he’s not surprised by ClubLink’s demolition application.

    “The lands are currently deemed to be designated under Section 33 of the Heritage Act,” he said. “The applicant appears to be following the prescribed procedure to begin the process to seek approval for demolition of a designated property. Council will give this new application the consideration it is due within the required timeframe of 90 days from completion of the requirements.”

    It should be noted that if council rules against ClubLink in the demolition matter, ClubLink would have the option of appealing to the Ontario Municipal Board.

    The application to demolish Glen Abbey comes as the Town prepares to consider ClubLink’s development plans for the site at its Tuesday special council meeting.

    Town staff has recommended council refuse this development request.

    In the same press release that ClubLink announced it had applied to demolish Glen Abbey Golf Course, the company also called on the Town to get on board with the development proposal.

    The developer again noted that 54 per cent of the overall site would be preserved as publicly accessible green space and that ClubLink would pay $126 million in development charges.

    “This is an incredible opportunity and an enormous public benefit for the people of Oakville and the surrounding regions,” Sahi said.

    “Oakville Council should not miss this opportunity to take ownership of these lands for the public benefit.”

    With files from the Canadian Press


    ClubLink applies to demolish Glen Abbey golf courseClubLink applies to demolish Glen Abbey golf course

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    A 27-year-old Kitchener man has been charged with tossing a Molotov cocktail into a Vaughan bakery last June, one of more than a dozen violent incidents investigated by GTA organized crime police this summer.

    A window of the Di Manno Bakery on Buttermill Avenue in the Jane Street and Highway 7 area was broken and York Regional Police reported finding a canister containing an accelerant inside at 1:30 a.m. on June 12.

    That same night, the front door of a home on Mellings Drive in Vaughan was fired upon.

    Then, just two months later on Aug. 7, the garage of the house was fired on.

    York Regional Police responded to the Mellings Drive residence that night to find bullet holes in the garage.

    And two weeks after that, arson investigators were called after it was fully engulfed in flames in late August.

    The house was unoccupied and under guard at the time of the fire and shootings, and there were no injuries in any of the attacks.

    Property records show the Mellings Drive house belongs to Maria Arevalo and Giuseppe Cuntrera. It was bought in May 2005 for $785,000.

    Police are also investigating an attempted arson at the home of Cuntrera’s uncle in August.

    The Caffe Corretto in Vaughan was destroyed by an explosion in late June.

    Days before that, the Hamilton home of baker Pasquale (Pat) Musitano was sprayed with bullets.

    On May 2, Musitano’s younger brother, Angelo Musitano, was shot to death in the driveway of his home in Waterdown while his wife and preschool-aged children were inside.

    The brothers pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder in the fatal shooting death of Niagara crime boss Carmen Barillaro in 1997.

    They were initially also accused of hiring a hitman to kill Hamilton Mob boss Johnny “Pops’ Papalia in 1997.

    Immediately after the Di Manno Bakery incident, police appealed for anyone with dashcam video from the area to come forward.

    Rustam Suleimanov is scheduled to appear in Newmarket court on Thursday to face charges of arson causing damage to property and break and enter.

    He was arrested in Kitchener with the assistance of Waterloo Regional Police officers.


    Kitchener man arrested in Vaughan bakery bombingKitchener man arrested in Vaughan bakery bombing

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    TD Bank estimates increasing Ontario’s hourly minimum wage to $15 could cost the province up to 90,000 jobs.

    “Ontario’s bold plan to raise the minimum wage by one-third over the next 18 months has fueled much debate about its potential impact on Canada’s largest economy,” the bank reports in its economic assessment released Tuesday.

    “Raising the minimum wage can potentially generate more benefits to society than costs in terms of any resulting job lost. However, the relatively rapid speed of the implementation and its timing within the economic cycle are two factors that will likely accentuate the negative hit to Ontario employment,” TD warned.

    “Our baseline job forecast builds in a net reduction in jobs of around 80,000 to 90,000 positions by the end of the decade,” said the bank, conceding the overall workforce would continue to rise after the $11.40 hourly rate jumps to $14 next year and $15 in 2019.

    “The estimated job impacts would still leave employment expanding over the next few years, but, at a tepid clip of around 0.5 per cent annually.”

    TD, which last month reported its quarterly profits skyrocketed by 17 per cent to $2.77 billion, recommends to “extend the implementation period by at least two years, to 2021.”

    As well, it recommends “differentiated minimum wages across Ontario in order to alleviate adverse side effects.”

    That would say a $15 rate in Toronto, where the cost of living is higher, but “in Windsor, an $11-$12 level would be more appropriate.”

    Premier Kathleen Wynne dismissed the bank’s projections, which come after the province’s Financial Accountability Office estimated 50,000 jobs could be lost.

    “We have duelling economists on this issue,” said Wynne.

    “I have been very clear that in a province as wealthy as Ontario, to have people who are working full time at maybe two jobs and still having to go to the food bank . . . is unacceptable,” she said.

    “And that’s why we’re raising the minimum wage.”


    TD warns raising minimum wage could cost 90,000 jobsTD warns raising minimum wage could cost 90,000 jobs

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    Some city councillors are questioning the salary of Toronto Hydro’s million-dollar man.

    Hydro chief executive Anthony Haines earned, according to regulatory filings, a total of $1,041,138 last year, $522,286 of it in base salary plus performance bonuses and incentives worth $508,551, as well as $6,967 in benefits and $3,334 in perquisite expenses.

    The next highest paid executive at the city-owned electrical utility was Dino Priore, executive vice-president and chief engineering and construction officer, who earned $521,238, including $192,889 in performance bonuses and incentives. Total pay disclosed for three other executives ranged from $460,218 to $280,643.

    Haines’s pay packet dwarfs those of other big earners at the City of Toronto and its arm’s-length agencies. For comparison, Mayor John Tory last year earned $186,044.32; city manager Peter Wallace $362,877.11; TTC chief executive Andy Byford $354.809.70; and John Tracogna, chief executive of Toronto Zoo, $252,360.76.

    At executive committee Tuesday, Councillor David Shiner tore a strip off another Hydro executive vice-president, Chris Tyrrell, who went to city hall to answer questions about an agenda item on Hydro’s annual general meeting and 2016 audited financial statements.

    Shiner said Haines, himself, should have appeared before Mayor John Tory and his executive to answer questions.

    The councillor demanded to know when Hydro will respond to a July 2016 directive to give council a comparison of the salaries of the utility’s executives with those of other public sector equivalents and to explain why some bonuses and incentives are way over the council-directed bonus maximum of 25 per cent of base salary.

    “Why are the bonuses for senior executives almost 100 per cent, and some of the others 60 per cent, when we say 25 per cent, and where does that come from?” Shiner asked Tyrell, noting the city last year agreed to inject $200 million into Hydro to solve a cash crunch and protect the utility’s credit rating.

    Tyrrell said Hydro hired a consultant to examine the pay of the utility’s executive pay. The resulting report will go to Hydro’s annual general meeting and then to the city manager in November and then to city council.

    Asked by Shiner to provide the instructions given to the consultant so that he’ll know what questions to ask when the report lands, Tyrrell told him, “I’d have to take that back to the (Hydro) board.”

    Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, who sits on Hydro’s board, defended the utility for being slow in reporting back with financial information, saying, “They’re not the only ones,” and pointing a finger at Toronto Parking Authority and Build Toronto.

    Minnan-Wong continued, “Hydro salaries are very generous. They are the highest in any organization here at the city or any other agency, board or commission.

    “We have our first employee who makes over $1 million, and that’s certain to get attention . . . . I have made my views known on the (Hydro) board. Let’s have a vigorous discussion when (the consultant report) comes forward and not jump to conclusions.”

    Haines, who heads the province’s third-biggest electrical utility, is not the only Hydro executive in Ontario to face salary questions. Mayo Schmidt, the head of Hydro One, earned $4.4 million in salary and bonuses last year.

    In an interview, Shiner said taxpayers need to be assured that total pay for executives of city-owned agencies is “reasonable and appropriate for the work they are doing.”

    “When I sat on the board of Toronto Hydro (starting in the early 2000s), the senior staff were making half of what they are now, and I’m concerned it might be out of line,” Shiner said. “I don’t know why any of our staff should be making $1 million a year for running a regulated company that receives the power from the provincial grid and distributes it throughout the city.”

    Hydro spokesperson Brian Buchan said, in a statement, that the utility has been “very responsive” to council demands for information on executive pay and is ahead of a deadline to report back by the end of 2017.

    As for the base pay and bonuses, themselves, he said, “It is important to look at relevant comparators when considering what appropriate compensation is. That’s why the study is being done for the city manager and council . . . so the right analysis can be made.

    “The appropriateness of compensation for Mr. Haines and other executives are contained within the report, and it would not be appropriate for me to comment on that until the report has been approved, submitted, presented by the city manager and scrutinized through the process set by city council.”


    Toronto Hydro CEO faces questions over pay of more than $1 millionToronto Hydro CEO faces questions over pay of more than $1 million

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    A 22-year-old Toronto man is facing charges after police alleged he posed as a travel agent and scammed several travellers into buying fraudulent tickets from him last summer.

    Police said in a release on Tuesday that the travellers bought airline tickets ranging in price from $400 to $3,000, by Interac e-transfer from a travel agent between June and August.

    These travellers were able to check the airline website and confirm their bookings. But, police said, the fraudulent bookings would be cancelled days later because of issues with a credit card used to book them.

    Police said the fraudulent travel agent, who allegedly used several aliases, including Jack Chen and Jason Wang, was able to deposit the e-transfers for the tickets into his own bank account.

    Police said they’re concerned that there are other victims.

    Hangfeng Zhang, 22, was charged on Tuesday with two counts each of fraud under $5,000 and possession of property obtained by crime under $5,000.

    He is due in court on November 9.


    Toronto man charged in travel agent scamToronto man charged in travel agent scam

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    THUNDER BAY—Mike McKay knew what he was up against in this northern Ontario city when his grandson disappeared last spring.

    He flew more than 500 kilometres to Thunder Bay to help mount a search for 14-year-old Josiah Begg who vanished May 6. McKay, a former police officer, was aware of the city’s track record investigating the deaths of Indigenous people. Seven First Nation students died between 2000 and 2011 — five of them found dead in city rivers. Authorities have been unable to explain how they ended up in the water.

    During a public meeting Monday organized by the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) to discuss police racism, McKay spoke of the fruitless search for his grandson who was found dead in the McIntyre River nearly two weeks after he disappeared.

    Read more:

    Indigenous leaders again call for Conservative senator to resign for ‘racist’ remarks

    Conservatives need to remove Sen. Lynn Beyak from caucus over Indigenous comments: Liberal minister

    Lynn Beyak calls removal from Senate committee ‘a threat to freedom of speech’

    “Thunder Bay, you have a problem. Until you admit that, we won’t be able to solve the issues we have here today,” he said to the packed community hall meeting.

    “I was a police officer for 16 years. I have lived it. I have worked it. If you want to be a police officer, no matter what colour (someone is), you treat people how you want to be treated.”

    During the eight-month inquest into the students’ deaths, which finished in June 2016, Thunder Bay faced the airing of hard truths concerning racism in the city. Indigenous students say they routinely face jeers and garbage thrown at them from passing cars. Indigenous leaders have complained for years that police don’t take seriously First Nations deaths or disappearances.

    Provincial authorities stepped in after the death of Stacey DeBungee, a Rainy River First Nations man who was found in the river in October 2015. His death prompted an investigation into allegations of systemic racism within the force.

    Now, investigators with the OIPRD are re-examining more than 30 deaths — mostly Indigenous people — and another nine cases of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls. That office is a civilian body operating at arm’s length from the provincial Ministry of the Attorney General.

    While McKay spoke Monday night, across town at the Thunder Bay City Council chambers, councillors voted down a motion to support calling for the resignation of Senator Lynn Beyak, who has made a series of what First Nations chiefs call “racist” and “ill-informed” remarks concerning the residential school experience.

    Beyak also recently posted on her website a call for Indigenous people to trade in their status cards to become Canadian citizens. The senator was seemingly unaware that all Status Indian card holders are Canadian citizens.

    To add insult to injury, Beyak is a Conservative senator who hails from Dryden, Ont., a small city that was surrounded by nine former Indian Residential Schools. Canada’s residential schools, church-run and federally funded, were created to assimilate Indigenous people into colonial society. More than 150,000 Indigenous students attended the schools from the mid-1850s to the 1990s.

    In his first day back at work from a personal leave, Thunder Bay Mayor Keith Hobbs — who is facing obstruction of justice and extortion charges and is expected in court in October — voted against the motion calling for Beyak’s resignation, as did six other councillors.

    Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has removed Beyak, a sitting senator, from all Senate committees. “She’s been censured. She’s been disciplined. I’m a firm believer in progressive discipline,” Hobbs told APTN National News.

    “I don’t really think its council’s position to be disciplining people in upper levels of government.”

    A city councillor had put forward the motion to support a resolution of the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association, which represents 37 municipalities, that Beyak be asked to resign. The motion was narrowly rejected by Thunder Bay council.

    Both Nishnawbe Aski Nation and Fort William First Nation condemned that move Tuesday.

    “I was sickened when I heard,” said NAN Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler. “But I can’t say I was totally surprised by the outcome.”

    Just last month, NAN and Fort William and the City of Thunder Bay signed a statement of commitment to fight racism and to come together for the safety of all the Indigenous students returning to school.

    “They had a real opportunity (Monday) night to follow through on their commitment and sadly they failed,” said Fiddler, who added Indigenous groups will not start the Orange Shirt Day walk in remembrance of residential school survivors from city hall this year as they usually do. The walk is on Sept. 30.

    William Waboose Perry, of the Fort William First Nation, said other municipal leaders have taken a stand against Beyak and it’s time for Thunder Bay did the same.

    “If anyone should be taking a stand on this, it should be our city council. I don’t know what is with them. We clearly need Indigenous representation on the council in Thunder Bay,” Perry said.

    On Saturday the body of Dylan Moonias, 21-year-old First Nations man, was pulled from the river. Police are investigating his death.

    News another young Indigenous person had been found in the water, devastated McKay.

    “My first reaction was, ‘No, no, not another one’,” he said. “You just never want to hear they found another in the river.”


    Thunder Bay city council refuses to call for Senator Lynn Beyak’s resignation after ‘racist’ commentsThunder Bay city council refuses to call for Senator Lynn Beyak’s resignation after ‘racist’ comments

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    Max Tutiven killed Jayesh Prajapati while committing a “gas-and-dash” theft, but he did not intend to hurt anyone, a jury heard Tuesday, as Tutiven took the stand in his second-degree murder trial.

    During his testimony, Tutiven admitted to driving the SUV that hit Prajapati and dragged him for 78 metres on the night of Sept. 15, 2012.

    He admitted to stealing gas from the Shell station where Prajapati worked.

    But, Tutiven testified, he never saw Prajapati approach his SUV, and when he heard something being dragged under his vehicle, he assumed it was a road pylon.

    Read more:

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

    Driver accelerated before hitting gas station worker, murder trial hears

    Hard-working immigrant from India died brutal death — over $113: DiManno

    Prajapati was working in the kiosk of a Shell station near Eglinton Ave. W. and Allen Rd. when he saw the driver of a silver SUV pulling away from the pump without paying for $112.85 worth of gas, the Crown has said during the weeklong trial.

    Prajapati, a husband and father, ran out to try to stop the driver from getting away, but was hit by the SUV and dragged to his death.

    Tutiven, 44, has pleaded not guilty to the charge of second-degree murder, which requires that the accused person intended to kill their victim.

    On Tuesday, Tutiven laid out his version of the events leading to Prajapati’s death, as Prajapati’s wife listened with the help of an interpreter from her seat in the centre of the courtroom, and Tutiven’s mother looked on.

    “I’ve been waiting for this moment five years,” Tutiven said, composing his thoughts early in his testimony.

    Tutiven pulled up to the Shell station intending to steal gas, as he had done every three to four days, at various gas stations, since he was 16 years old, he said.

    After filling his SUV’s tank and two jerry cans, he looked up to see Prajapati in the gas station kiosk serving customers, and decided it was safe to drive off without being caught.

    But, when Tutiven tried to pull out, there was a black car parked at the pump in front of him, blocking his path, he told the court. Tutiven reversed his SUV and tried to drive around the black car, turning to look out his driver’s side window so he could make sure his left bumper hadn’t hit the other vehicle.

    At no time did he see Prajapati, Tutiven said.

    He thought he could hear someone yell, “Stop, stop,” but assumed it was the attendant calling through a window in the kiosk, he said.

    He did not think it was possible that Prajapati could have made it from the kiosk to his SUV in the short amount of time since he had seen the attendant dealing with customers, he said.

    As Tutiven pulled out of the gas station and onto Roselawn Ave. he heard a dragging sound under his car and assumed it was a pylon, though he had not seen a pylon at the gas station.

    Tutiven, who lived in Montreal but made frequent visits to his hometown of Toronto, then drove straight back to the room he had rented for the weekend in North York.

    Hours later he was woken up by a call from his father, who told him police and come by to look for him, but did not tell him why, Tutiven said.

    Tutiven only learned someone had been killed, and that he was a suspect, while at a friend’s house in Kingston two days later, he testified.

    He abandoned the SUV in Kingston and returned by bus to Montreal where he remained until his arrest in 2015, he said.

    “There (was) no point in me turning myself in, there is no benefit of me turning myself in . . . except that I spend more time in jail,” Tutiven told the court, adding that he believed his arrest was “inevitable.”

    Tutiven has about 40 criminal convictions to his name, for such crimes as assault, car theft and possession of stolen property, the court heard.

    His main source of income at the time involved defrauding cellphone companies to resell used phones, he said. He would also occasionally work with friends to steal cars from dealerships or break into warehouses to rob them, he testified.

    During cross-examination Tuesday, Crown attorney Joseph Callaghan argued Tutiven’s testimony could simply be a demonstration of his criminal ability to fool people.

    “You are quite successful at lying, deceiving, defrauding to get your way,” Callaghan told Tutiven.

    “You’re trying to make this jury your next sucker,” he added.

    Tutiven disagreed, saying his crimes were not an indication that he is untruthful.

    “Does stealing a car make me dishonest? Does it make me a liar?” Tutiven asked.

    The Crown will continue cross-examining Tutiven on Wednesday.


    Accused murderer admits he drove SUV that killed gas station worker in ‘gas-and-dash’ theftAccused murderer admits he drove SUV that killed gas station worker in ‘gas-and-dash’ theft

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    Whitchurch-Stouffville Mayor Justin Altmann will have to apologize, respect staff, and lose a month’s pay, after fellow councillors accepted the penalties put forward in a damning ethics report that found his CSI-style wall constituted “workplace harassment.”

    Councillors came to the decision Tuesday evening, despite a lengthy statement from Altmann’s lawyer, Hermie Abraham, suggesting the probe was biased and lacked natural justice and that the entire investigation be reviewed.

    In a memo submitted to council, Altmann defended his decision to create his “mind-map” — made up of photos of staff, colleagues and members of the public connected by black lines — and responded to a number of allegations made by staff about his behaviour over the past few years.

    Details of Altmann’s behaviour were presented to council Tuesday by integrity commissioner Suzanne Craig, who had been investigating the wall since staff filed a complaint in March.

    In her 30-page report published Friday, she concluded that Altmann’s extensive CSI-wall was “vexatious” and “disturbing to staff” and amounted to a “serious incident of workplace harassment.”

    In her report, Craig asked council to consider such penalties as asking Altmann for a formal apology, imploring him to interact respectfully with staff and suspending his pay for 30 days. The maximum penalty under the Municipal Act is to dock an elected official three months’ pay.

    The mayor’s salary was about $105,000 in 2015, which also included pay he received for sitting on regional council.

    Read more:

    Stouffville mayor created an intimidating workplace for staff, investigation finds

    Stouffville mayor asks for community support as investigation into his CSI-style wall nears its end

    Here’s who’s on Stouffville mayor’s ‘creepy’ washroom wall of photos

    On Tuesday, in a packed council room that included security guards and a police presence, some councillors suggested the presentation of the report was “punitive enough.”

    “I believe the mayor should apologize for how he made staff feel for putting up the wall, and he should commit to creating a better work environment with staff,” said Ward 5 councillor Iain Lovatt, adding docking Altmann’s pay seems “unnecessarily punitive.”

    “I believe the fact that we are here today and have faced national scrutiny for months, and have had to listen to this report is punitive enough.”

    But after a lengthy in-camera meeting, councillors decided to accept all of the integrity commissioner’s recommendations.

    “We have to show support for our staff,” said Ward 3 councillor Hugo Kroon.

    The memo submitted by Altmann’s lawyer tries to explain why the mayor created the wall display in the first place, saying it was his attempt to conduct a “mini-investigation” into anonymous packages he believes were sent out to the public to “discredit, threaten and harass the mayor.”

    According to the document, the mayor began to create the wall on Jan. 4 in his private office washroom, and included members of the public and council related to an ongoing lawsuit in the town.

    “The wall was simply a mind-mapping exercise to ‘connect the dots’ between breached town policies, the anonymous packages, and matter with (the lawsuit),” the memo says. “It is our submission that by creating the diagram on the wall in his private bathroom, the mayor would have not anticipated, known or believed that various staff members would be entering his private bathroom for the purpose of viewing the wall.”

    In the memo, Altmann takes exception to additional complaints made by staff but not investigated by Craig, as they came before the code of conduct was implemented in the town.

    “The very inclusion of these supplementary allegations creates a prejudice to the mayor in the minds of the reader of the final report,” said Abraham.

    The mayor refuted many of those allegations, including that he told a staffer he was “going to blow up this place.” What he actually meant, the memo said, was that “it was time to expose the corporation” and not blow up the place with a violent meaning.

    It was also alleged he told certain staff he was “their king” and they were supposed to defend him. The memo explained that the mayor used an analogy that corporations were like monarchies and lords and armies protect the interest of the king, and that “staff should ensure that council members and the mayor are protected.”

    It was also alleged that the mayor replaced furniture in the councillor boardroom with his own dining room furniture and when he was confronted by staff, he told them “you need to learn your place because I am the CEO of the corporation and I am your boss.” His response in the memo was that there was no furniture policy in place and he was given authority and approval to do so. He admitted to yelling at the staff member and later apologized.

    The mayor also took issue with a complaint that he allowed a blind therapy dog named Smiley to wear the mayoral chain of office when the dog and its owner were being honoured during the town’s strawberry festival. In response, Altmann explained that Smiley had been recognized internationally and that placing the chain of office on the dog was not a show of disrespect for the mayor’s office. Further, the memo said, there were no rules in place that prohibited the use of the chain of office in this manner.

    When questioned about the mayor’s concerns around fairness, Craig says the mayor had “reasonable opportunities to respond” and she went “beyond” her obligation in the code protocol.”


    Stouffville mayor ordered to apologize for ‘disturbing’ behaviourStouffville mayor ordered to apologize for ‘disturbing’ behaviour

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    A mass of adoring fans greeted Prince Harry on Tuesday night as he visited the CN Tower for a reception connected with the Invictus Games.

    More than an hour before his scheduled arrival, people lined up on either side of metal barriers to get a look at the prince. Some photographers anticipated him at the doors of the tower, while others packed in near the “Canada 150” sign to snap him walking by.

    People stood on concrete blocks and nearly fell over each other trying to get a selfie with him, or simply capture an image of the man who is fifth in line to the British throne.

    “I got two pictures of him, but my phone died,” one woman told her friends. “I need one more!”

    The prince took his time walking down the path, engaging with fans who called his name endlessly until he disappeared into the Toronto landmark for a reception for the Invictus Games Foundation. The prince is the foundation’s patron.

    After he entered the building, people squealed with excitement as they compared photos and videos of the prince.

    Harry has visited the CN Tower before. In 1991, 7-year-old Harry and his older brother, William, enjoyed a day looking through telescopes, initially undetected by photographers and fans of the Royal Family.

    “Oooh, it’s so high,” Harry said on that occasion. (No word on what he thought of it Tuesday.) Harry and William also enjoyed the space shuttle simulator.

    The royal rascals each wore Canadian tuxedos — a denim jacket with jeans — while they waited for their parents to arrive from London. Before long, reporters and photographers took notice, and the boys assumed a more buttoned-up disposition.

    On Tuesday, Harry was much more welcoming of the attention.

    The reception Tuesday brought together athletes and other people involved in the Games. They received polite applause from the crowd, but nothing compared to that of the founder of the Games.


    Prince Harry hits the CN Tower and the crowd goes wildPrince Harry hits the CN Tower and the crowd goes wild

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    As pre-game protests spread through the NFL on Sunday, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin thought he would focus on football by keeping his team in the locker room while the national anthem played in Chicago.

    Tomlin hoped to keep the Steelers out of a long-simmering conflict over race, patriotism and pro football that boiled over late last week when U.S. president Donald Trump urged NFL teams to cut players who demonstrated during the national anthem.

    Less than a day later Paul Smith, a volunteer fire chief in suburban Pittsburgh, posted his reaction on Facebook.

    “Tomlin just added to the list of no good N------,” he wrote. “Yes I said it.”

    Smith’s comments remind us that the backlash to African-American NFL players opting out of the pre-game anthem by sitting or taking a knee was never about respect for the military, or the idea that sports and politics shouldn’t mix.

    Like the protests themselves, opposition to demonstrations by players like Colin Kaepernick have always been about race.

    More accurately, they’re about racism, which is crucial to remember as player protests morph into all-inclusive demonstrations of unity and threaten to dilute the movement’s impact.

    Kaepernick, like WNBA players before him and NFLers who came afterward, specifically targeted systemic racism and police brutality against Black people in his initial protests last August. The concept of unity, reintroduced to the conversation this weekend, is the latest in a series of diversions seeking to derail the dialogue on racial justice Kaepernick and others hoped to trigger by demonstrating.

    Trump forced the issue back into headlines last Friday when, speaking at a campaign rally for a Republican primary candidate in Alabama, he energized the largely white crowd by telling them NFL team owners should fire “sons of bitches” who protest during the national anthem. In subsequent statements, Trump has insisted that the protests dishonoured the U.S. flag and military, and that his outburst was unrelated to race.

    Yet with Trump, race often ripples just below the surface.

    While he unequivocally trashed Black athletes who protest the anthem, Trump hesitated to disavow white supremacists like David Duke, who publicly supported his campaign for president. He also demurred rather than denounce deadly Neo-Nazi protesters in Charlottesville, Va., arguing the group contained “very fine people.”

    When ESPN anchor Jemele Hill, an African-American woman, described Trump as a white supremacist during Twitter conversation, the president and his aides demanded the network apologize and fire her. They urged no such action, however, when national magazines like Time and the New Yorker depicted him as a white supremacist on their covers.

    Trump’s blatant and subtle appeals to racial bias help explain how he garnered 58 per cent of the white vote in last November’s election, winning the support of both working class whites and the wealthy whites who compose the majority of the NFL’s ownership class. Eight of the league’s 32 team owners have donated to Trump.

    And if Trump had stopped after calling protesting players “SOBs” it’s not clear how many would have published statements disagreeing with him on players’ right to demonstrate. After all, they seem to share an obsession with policing Black athletes’ speech and a fixation with the performative patriotism of the pre-game anthem.

    But Trump’s tweet calling for a fan boycott over player protests prompted team owners to speak out in defence of free speech and “unity.” Ultra-rich NFL owners supported a “pro-business” president who figured to make them richer, but a boycott would cost them money.

    So first came the lukewarm rebukes of Trump’s proposed crackdown on free speech. Then came NFL owners, like Jaguars boss and Trump supporter Shad Khan, descending from luxury suites to stand with players, linking arms to show unity as the anthem played.

    And then came Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on Monday Night Football, taking a knee with players and coaches before the anthem, then standing arm-in-arm for “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

    If the goal was ambiguity, NFL team owners nailed it.

    The gestures showed enough support for protests to keep players onside, but by emphasizing amorphous concepts like unity they derailed yet another oncoming, uncomfortable confrontation with racism.

    They also positioned figures like Khan and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to lap up praise for appearing progressive in contrast to a recalcitrant president. This week’s Sports Illustrated cover features the men alongside athletes and coaches — like LeBron James, Steve Kerr and Candace Parker — who are vocal opponents of racism.

    Mysteriously, the cover photo excludes Kaepernick but includes the tagline, “A NATION DIVIDED. SPORTS UNITED.”

    But if the goal is to begin dismantling systemic racism, the pivot toward a poorly-defined vision of unity represents the opposite of progress.

    Rosa Parks didn’t seek unity with the white man who told her to give up her seat on a bus Birmingham in 1955. She stayed put and kicked off a crucial phase of the civil rights movement.

    Nor did Muhammad Ali try to unify with a U.S. government that tried to force him to join the army. He chose a side and risked his career rather than cross the line he had drawn.

    And when Tommie Smith and John Carlos accepted their medals at the 1968 Olympics, the U.S. sprinters didn’t link arms. They raised their fists in protest while the national anthem played.

    Silver medallist Peter Norman stood by, wearing a pin Smith and Carlos had given him, expressing unambiguous solidarity with a pair of African-American athletes engaged in a life-defining struggle against entrenched racism.

    It’s not clear if this weekend’s demonstrations will ever result in an NFL team owner showing similar unequivocal support for Black players who protest against racial inequality.

    But for now, all we have is unity dressed up as progress but protecting the business.


    NFL links arms to protect itself, not tackle racismNFL links arms to protect itself, not tackle racism

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    OTTAWA—Bombardier’s hopes for breaking into the U.S. commercial aviation market took a massive blow on Tuesday, as the U.S. Department of Commerce proposed a hefty 219 per cent duty on its CSeries jets.

    The department ruled in a preliminary decision that Bombardier benefited from improper government subsidies, which gave the Montreal-based company an unfair advantage when selling south of the border.

    The investigation was sparked by a complaint from U.S. aerospace giant Boeing, after Bombardier secured a deal for up to 125 of its CS100s with Delta Air Lines in April 2016.

    The list price for the planes is around $6 billion, but the actual amount of money involved in the deal has not been made public and Boeing alleges Bombardier offered them for much less.

    The financial penalties aren’t officially due until Bombardier delivers the first CS100 to Delta, which is expected in the spring. They could also still be dropped or refunded.

    The key will be whether the U.S. International Trade Commissions finds that Bombardier-Delta deal actually hurt Boeing’s business, a decision that’s not expected until the spring.

    But the ruling gives Boeing momentum as the dispute drags on, and more leverage in any future talks between the Trudeau government and the Chicago-based company to reach a negotiated settlement.

    Boeing wasted no time in declaring victory on Tuesday.

    “Subsidies enabled Bombardier to dump its product into the U.S. market, harming aerospace workers in the United States and throughout Boeing’s global supply chain,” the company said in a statement.

    The dispute is not about limiting innovation or competition, it continued. “Rather, it has everything to do with maintaining a level playing field and ensuring that aerospace companies abide by trade agreements.”

    U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in his own statement that while the United States values its relationship with Canada, “even our closest allies must play by the rules.”

    Meanwhile, Bombardier and the Trudeau government appeared to be reeling. Most had expected the Commerce Department to rule against Bombardier, but the size of the proposed duty was surprising.

    Boeing had been asking for an 80 per cent duty.

    “The magnitude of the proposed duty is absurd and divorced from the reality about the financing of multibillion-dollar aircraft programs,” Bombardier said in a statement.

    “Boeing is seeking to use a skewed process to stifle competition and prevent U.S. airlines and their passengers from benefiting from the CSeries.”

    In Europe, meanwhile, Bombardier’s rail business, Bombardier Transportation, faces a substantially larger rival after railway manufacturers Siemens Mobility and Alstom announced a merger.

    The memorandum of understanding announced Tuesday is described as a merger of equals with each owning half the shares of the new company, to be headquartered in Paris. The Mobility Solutions business will be run out of Berlin.

    Read more:

    Bombardier workers rally in Toronto ahead of U.S. trade spat decision

    Trudeau urges Canadian aerospace companies to put pressure on Boeing

    British come to Bombardier’s defence in dispute with Boeing

    The combined company to be called Siemens Alstom will have $18 billion (U.S.) in revenues and $1.4 billion in adjusted EBIT. Annual cost savings of $554.2 million are expected four years after closing.

    Alstom and Siemens said the two businesses are largely complementary in terms of activities and geographies.

    “We put the European idea to work and together with our friends at Alstom, we are creating a new European champion in the rail industry for the long-term,” Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser said.

    However, analyst Cameron Doerksen of National Bank Financial said Bombardier Transportation can still succeed as a stand-alone company.

    In fact, John Zechner, chair of Toronto-based investment management firm J. Zechner Associates, said the emergence of a new rail partnership gobbling up rail and light transit contracts across Europe could heighten the importance of the Toronto and other North American deals for Bombardier.

    Bombardier Transportation would be the world’s third-largest railway company with a strong presence in France, Germany and Britain. It has a four-year backlog of orders and is moving toward an 8-per-cent EBIT margin.

    While a trade war with Boeing and a bulked up Siemens/Alstom partnership creates new headwinds for Bombardier, the company has not indicated any further delays in its delivery schedule for low-floor Toronto Transit Commission streetcars as a result, said Stuart Green, a TTC spokesperson.

    Bombardier Transportation communications head Marc-André Lefebvre reiterated that the company is on track to deliver the entire fleet of streetcars by a deadline of the end of 2019, citing the deployment of extraordinary resources to the effort.

    “As we stated in July, in all transparency we’ve informed the TTC months ahead that there is a potential challenge to meeting the full target of 70 streetcars for 2017,” he said in an email.

    After delivery delays, the current contract between the TTC and Bombardier calls for delivery of 204 low-floor cars first ordered in 2009 to arrive by 2019, including 70 by the end of this year. The deal offers up an option to purchase another 60 cars at the same price per car as the original contract.

    Union representatives of Bombardier workers said the Boeing case highlights flaws in Canada’s trade agreements and the ability of big companies to use trade rules and the complaint processes to control the market.

    “Who pays the price for these corporate fights? We do, the workers,” said Unifor Local 112 president Scott McIlmoyle during a rally last week at the Bombardier aerospace plant in Downsview.

    With files from Michael Lewis


    Bombardier hit with 219% duty on sale of jets to Delta Air LinesBombardier hit with 219% duty on sale of jets to Delta Air Lines

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    WASHINGTON—Iranian state television played a video of a missile launch. Donald Trump saw an opportunity to claim vindication.

    “Iran just test-fired a Ballistic Missile capable of reaching Israel,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Saturday. “They are also working with North Korea. Not much of an agreement we have!”

    Turns out the test never happened.

    Trump-friendly Fox News reported Monday that U.S. officials say the Iranian report was a fake, the launch footage from a failed test in January. CNN quickly confirmed with its own government sources: the U.S. president had been duped by an adversary.

    In some other era, such an error would have been a significant news story. In the Trump era, it barely registered.

    There is too much else going on.

    America is being buried in a White House news avalanche, much of it triggered by the president’s own explosions and missteps. The astonishing volume of Trump-related daily developments has obscured events that would previously have merited intense coverage, leaving Trump’s allies and foes alike scrambling to adjust to a media era unlike any other.

    “Controversies that used to take place over several weeks and occupy centre stage are now merely one storyline out of half a dozen that are washing through the daily or weekly news cycle. We’ve had days where a potential nuclear confrontation with North Korea is the second or third story in the news,” Kevin Madden, former top spokesperson for presidential candidate Mitt Romney, told the Star on Tuesday.

    Read more:

    Senate Republicans give up on latest health bill vote

    North Korea probably doesn’t want to attack U.S. planes and probably can’t hit them anyway, experts say

    Trump says he’ll visit Puerto Rico next Tuesday amid criticism over hurricane response

    One of those days was Monday.

    North Korea’s foreign minister announced that, in the regime’s view, Trump had “declared a war” by tweeting that the regime “won’t be around much longer” if it continues to speak the way dictator Kim Jong Un has spoken. He added that they now have the right to shoot down U.S. bombers even outside of North Korean airspace.

    This did not lead the evening news.

    CBS and ABC began with Trump’s ongoing attack on NFL players who kneel during the national anthem to protest racism and police misconduct. NBC began with the post-hurricane humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico, which has itself been obscured by the emotional battle over the protesters.

    Trump’s ban on travellers from some Muslim-majority countries generated furious protest and a Supreme Court case when it was first introduced in January. The updated version issued on Sunday— which extended the ban from 90 days to indefinite — prompted just a single question at the White House press briefing on Monday, the day after it was introduced.

    There were three briefing questions about the travel habits of Trump’s health secretary, Tom Price, whom Politico reported has spent more than $400,000 on private jets after experiencing a single airport delay while flying commercial.

    The website Vox called it a “scandal,” but it wasn’t being widely treated as one yet. One New York Times article on the controversy ran on the 18th page of the printed paper. Others did not make print at all.

    Late Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Trump blasted Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a private meeting with conservative leaders. And the New York Times reported that senior Trump aides had used personal email accounts for official business.

    Both of these remarkable Trump stories appeared certain to be crowded out by all the other Trump stories.

    “Trump is a permanent political eclipse that blacks out good news, bad news and everything in between,” said Democratic strategist Craig Varoga. Varoga said Democrats should try to turn Trump’s chaos against Republican candidates in the 2018 midterm elections, making a “patriotic appeal to all voters, of all political persuasions, to restore calm and stability as a prerequisite to growing the economy, creating jobs and avoiding war.”

    But it has been hard for Democrats to drive home any kind of message since Trump’s emergence in 2015.

    In her new book, Hillary Clinton lamented that her campaign’s jobs message in 2016 was drowned out by Trump’s relentless feud-picking. On Twitter in 2017, average liberals complain daily that Trump is successfully distracting the public from damaging stories. And anti-Trump grassroots activists say they frequently feel overwhelmed by the pace of the news.

    “Every day. Every day. Don’t you? I mean, it’s just madness,” said Pat Fogg, founder of RESIST Central Maine.

    Some prominent Democrats say the concern about the short shelf life of Trump-era controversy is overblown. Despite a September uptick in support, he is hovering around the woeful first-year plateau of 40 per cent.

    “The challenge for the Democrats is to weave these stories into a coherent narrative about Trump and the Republicans. It’s a work in progress, but Trump’s abysmal approval ratings suggest that the public is not missing the forest for the trees,” said Dan Pfeiffer, former White House communications director for Barack Obama.

    It is not only Democrats fretting. Republican members of Congress gripe that the president’s impulsive musings and tirades are impeding the policy messages they are trying to communicate themselves. In the days leading up to Trump’s major Wednesday speech on the party’s tax reform plan, the president has relentlesslytalkedand tweeted about the NFL.

    Fogg said her Maine group focuses on the issues they think they can impact, knowing there is “not much we can do” about much of the rest. Ben Wikler, a Washington director for major progressive group MoveOn.org , said they too subscribe to “the political equivalent of the Serenity Prayer”: ignoring the “blizzard of outrages” they can’t change to choose the important fights where people power can matter.

    “Trump has demonstrated in his campaign, and continues to show, that his most powerful weapon is changing the subject to the topic of his choosing. But for people who believe the GOP agenda has to be stopped, our job is to cut through the noise and figure out where we can make a difference,” Wikler said.


    Donald Trump is burying America in an avalanche of news (and it’s all important)Donald Trump is burying America in an avalanche of news (and it’s all important)

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    A Brampton couple are fighting to keep their daughter on life support, even after her attending physician issued a death certificate declaring her brain dead last week.

    “She’s still alive,” said Stanley Stewart of his daughter Taquisha McKitty, 27, who is the mother of a 9-year-old girl. “She’s still in there.”

    Stewart and Taquisha’s mother, Alyson McKitty, believe Brampton Civic Hospital acted too quickly in declaring their daughter dead, and that doctors are ignoring what the family believes are Taquisha’s responses to “stimulus,” including squeezing their hands and moving her thumb when asked to do so.

    On Wednesday, friends of Taquisha stood outside the hospital, holding signs that read “She has a heartbeat,” “Save Taquisha McKitty” and “Keep Taquisha Alive.”

    Many in attendance sang “Made a Way,” a gospel song, asking for a miracle.

    The family went to court on Sept. 21 and won an emergency injunction temporarily preventing the hospital from removing the respirator that is keeping McKitty alive.

    That injunction expires on Thursday, when the matter will be back before Superior Court Justice M.J. Lucille Shaw in Brampton.

    The injunction arrived at the last minute, said Bishop Wendell Brereton, who is helping the family and hoping to find a “legal team” willing to join their fight.

    “The injunction showed up 30 minutes before (the respirator was to be disconnected),” Brereton said. “It was like something out of a television show.”

    Dr. Omar Hayani had already signed a death certificate declaring Taquisha died the day before — at 12:55 p.m. on Sept. 20, six days after she suffered a drug overdose.

    Taquisha’s parents say they just want to give her a chance to live.

    “The goal for us was to have some time and to be able to get an independent second opinion,” Stewart said.

    But they can’t transfer her to another hospital or have another doctor examine her without getting the death certificate cancelled.

    “It’s been crazy,” Stewart said. “You get a call that your daughter, her heart has stopped, so you think you’re going to lose her. Then, you come to the hospital, and they have resuscitated her.”

    Doctors used ice to treat the swelling on McKitty’s brain, and she was breathing on her own and moving, though unconscious, in the intensive care unit. But after 72 hours of observation, her breathing stopped, although her heart is still beating.

    “You sit there for three days and hope that the doctors are doing something to make her better,” Stewart said.

    But the family said doctors told them there was no treatment for McKitty.

    She has never regained consciousness and remains in a coma.

    Justice Shaw ordered life support to remain connected until a decision is made by the province’s Consent and Capacity Board, as per the Health Care Consent Act.

    A spokesperson for William Osler Health System, which includes Brampton Civic Hospital, could not speak to McKitty’s case due to privacy issues.

    But in an email to the Brampton Guardian, Alineh Haidery said that “before health-care decisions are made, there are a number of processes that physicians and care teams must follow in order to ensure decisions are made appropriately and that they are in the best interest of the patient.”

    The hospital, she wrote, follows a “recognized standard of practice” and criteria for neurological determination of death.

    “At Osler, all neurological death determinations are determined by two experienced physicians in this field,” Haidery wrote.

    Stewart will hold a press conference outside the Brampton courthouse at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday.

    With files from Jaren Kerr


    ‘She’s still alive’: Brampton family goes to court to keep daughter on life support‘She’s still alive’: Brampton family goes to court to keep daughter on life support

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    It may not feel that way now, but the high-pitched political debate over Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s tax changes to private corporations will likely end with proposals that could have both the Conservatives and the Liberals claiming victory.

    By all indications, the government will try to salvage enough of its current plan to say with a more or less straight face that it has fought the good fight for tax fairness while taking care to minimize unintended collateral damage.

    The Conservative opposition will likely be able to claim that it has saved Canada’s family farms or some other section of the economy from fiscal Armageddon.

    One way or another, the moment this issue is put to rest cannot come a day too soon for Morneau.

    Read more:

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    Suggestions for Morneau’s tax changes

    Win or lose, he will walk away wounded from his first real hand-to-hand parliamentary combat and not just as a result of opposition hits.

    The word “beleaguered” has come up in various independent depictions of Morneau’s parliamentary demeanour over the course of the fiscal reform storm and it does capture best the minister’s body language as he fends off opposition critics in question period.

    Since the House reopened, the talking points he has offered in (limp) defence of his reform could not be described as particularly combative. If anything, Morneau’s main mission seems to boil down to holding the line while the government regroups.

    And yet his plan does not lack for allies in civil society. They range from distinguished academics to entrepreneurs, progressive think-thanks and more than a few lawyers and doctors adamant that, on this matter, their professional associations are not reflecting their views.

    But one would never know of their existence based on the generic lines the minister has relied on in question period.

    Morneau’s tour of duty in the question period hot seat has been lonesome in more ways than one.

    Some time ago, the Liberals decided they would contribute to the decorum of question period by holding their applause. The Conservatives and the New Democrats have made no such commitment.

    For the past two weeks, question period watchers have been treated to the sight of pumped up Conservative MPs cheering on leader Andrew Scheer and others as they launch verbal grenades at the Liberals from the fiscal reform barricades.

    By comparison, Morneau’s answers, usually delivered amidst much opposition heckling, are punctuated by eerie silence from his own benches.

    If the Liberals were to resume applauding their own, it is an open question how many of them would do so in support of the finance minister.

    It is said that there are more government MPs who oppose the changes than the small number that have spoken out against them. Quoting anonymous sources, La Presse reported Thursday that some Liberals are covertly encouraging the Conservatives to keep putting the heat on their ministerial colleague.

    It was Jean Chrétien who coined the terms “nervous Nellies” to describe the tendency of a good many Liberal MPs to be spooked by the first sign of political adversity.

    At the time, he was referring to those who were questioning his leadership in the face of the pre-election polls that showed the Conservatives under Kim Campbell to have overtaken the Liberals in voting intentions. (That took place a few months before Chrétien reduced the Tories to two seats in the 1993 election.)

    This is the first time the 2015 class of Liberal MPs is getting some serious pushback on a fiscal policy. Some of its members are running for cover even as their leader remains far more popular than his rivals, when their party is as competitive in voting intentions as it was on the day of its majority victory two years ago.

    The tax reform they are distancing themselves from did not come out of left field; it was part of the last Liberal budget. Even in their current form, the changes would affect a small minority of taxpayers.

    Watching Trudeau’s Liberals squirm in their seats as Morneau comes under opposition fire, one can’t help but spare a thought for the fortitude of the Mulroney MPs who steadfastly stood by their unpopular Tory government at the time of the GST debate.

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


    Morneau’s discomfort over proposed tax changes an unnecessary spectacle: HébertMorneau’s discomfort over proposed tax changes an unnecessary spectacle: Hébert

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    KABUL—The Taliban unleashed a barrage of rockets at the Kabul international airport on Wednesday in a brazen attack that the insurgents said targeted the plane of visiting U.S. Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis. In response, the U.S. said it launched two missiles, one of which missed its intended target and killed at least one Afghan civilian.

    Afghan officials said one Afghan woman was killed and 11 civilians were wounded in the Taliban attack. Afghan special forces managed to repel the attackers, killing four in an ensuing gun battle, officials said.

    Later, the U.S. military issued a statement saying that it had responded with an airstrike.

    “Tragically, one of the missiles malfunctioned, causing several casualties,” the U.S. command said.

    Read more:

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    Navy Capt. William Salvin, spokesperson for the U.S.-led military coalition, said in a telephone interview that the U.S. fired two Hellfire missiles. One struck its intended target, a building from which the insurgents had launched their mortar attack. The other one was programmed to hit the same target but went astray for unknown reasons, Salvin said.

    At least one Afghan civilian was killed by the malfunctioning Hellfire and an undetermined number of other civilians were wounded, Salvin said.

    In its written statement, the U.S.-led coalition expressed regret for the civilian casualties.

    “We take every precaution to avoid civilian casualties, even as the enemies of Afghanistan continue to operate in locations that deliberately put civilians at very high risk,” it said. The statement said the original Taliban attackers had fired several rounds of high-explosive ammunition, including mortars, in the vicinity of the Kabul airport.

    The U.S. statement said the insurgents also detonated suicide vests, “endangering a great number of civilians.”

    Mattis was meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the time of the attack, along with visiting NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. Mattis’ plane was not hit.

    The attack — both its location, the Kabul airport, and the purported target, a visiting U.S. official’s plane — underscored the ability of the insurgents to still stage high-profile attacks despite Afghan security forces’ struggle to stem Taliban gains.

    Najib Danish, spokesperson for the Afghan Interior Ministry, said the Taliban fired up to about six projectiles at and near the airport, hitting both the international and the military sector of the sprawling hub and also two civilian houses nearby. The gun battle with Afghan special forces left “four of the terrorists dead,” he said.

    Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a tweet that the “military section of the Kabul airport was hit with missiles; target was plane of U.S. Defence Secretary Mattis” and that “losses (were) caused” in the attack.

    Ghani said during a joint press conference with Mattis and Stoltenberg that Afghan special forces troops quickly brought the assault under control. Mattis called the attack “a crime” during the news conference, which was broadcast live.

    Speaking to The Associated Press later Wednesday, Stoltenberg denounced that attack as a “terrorist act” that shows the militants’ “weakness.”

    Tumour Shah Hamedi, director of Kabul airport, said all flights were halted as a result of the attack.

    At the presser, both Mattis and Stoltenberg pledged continued support for Afghanistan and vowed to do everything possible so the country “doesn’t again become a safe haven for international terrorists.”

    Stoltenberg said NATO is aware of “the cost of staying in Afghanistan, but the cost of leaving would be even higher.”

    “If NATO forces leave too soon, there is a risk that Afghanistan may return to a state of chaos and once again become a safe haven for international terrorism,” he said.

    Stoltenberg also said NATO was committed to funding the Afghan security forces until at least 2020 and would continue to provide them almost a $1 billion each year.

    Ghani said the Taliban can choose either to align with international terrorism or renounce violence and join a peace process with the government.

    Mattis said Washington supports a negotiated settlement between the Taliban and Afghanistan. “The sooner the Taliban recognize they cannot win with bombs, the sooner the killing will end,” he said.

    Last month, U.S. President Donald Trump hinted he would embrace the Pentagon’s proposal to boost troop numbers by nearly 4,000, augmenting the roughly 8,400 Americans now in Afghanistan. The combined U.S. and NATO troop contingent currently in the country is about 13,500.

    The additional American forces would be deployed to expand training of the Afghan military and beef up U.S. counterterrorism operations against Al Qaeda and a growing Daesh affiliate in Afghanistan, as well as the Taliban and other extremist groups.

    In the interview with The Associated Press, Stoltenberg said the “attack on the airport is a sign of weakness, not the sign of strength” and added that to “attack a civilian airport is a criminal act, it is terrorist act and it just shows the importance of fighting these kind of organizations in Afghanistan.”

    He stressed the importance of fighting extremists as the best way to ensure “they are not able to expand and to go beyond Afghanistan and launch new attacks against other countries, including NATO countries.”

    The fight against extremists is “going on in many places in Syria, in Iraq, but also in the streets in Europe, in the United States and, therefore, we have to stand together. We have to work together and we need to be prepared for the long haul, because this is not easy, this will take time,” he added.

    The U.S. embassy in Kabul condemned the airport attack, saying it does “not diminish our and our partners’ resolve to stand with the people of Afghanistan in their quest for a more prosperous, stable, and secure future,”

    In other violence, hundreds of Taliban insurgents attacked a security post in Afghanistan’s western Farah province, killing at least 10 police officers and threatening to overrun the position.

    Hakim Noori, the governor of the Pusht Rod district, said almost 300 Taliban fighters took part in the attack, which began on Tuesday night. He said the insurgents mined the area around the base to prevent authorities from sending in reinforcements.

    Farid Bakhtawar, the head of the provincial council, confirmed the killing of the police officers and warned they would be overrun if reinforcements do not arrive soon.


    Taliban targets U.S. secretary of defence’s plane at Kabul airport attack, Americans respond with airstrikeTaliban targets U.S. secretary of defence’s plane at Kabul airport attack, Americans respond with airstrike

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    A mother and her young daughter have died after they were struck by a vehicle Wednesday night.

    Toronto police said they were hit just before 9:30 p.m. at Warden Ave. and Continental Pl. near Ellesmere Rd. The 34-year-old woman and her daughter were taken to hospital by emergency run in life-threatening condition, and they were later pronounced dead.

    Police at the scene said a family of four was crossing the street after eating dinner at a nearby restaurant. The father and another child crossed the street safely while the mother and toddler were struck. They were hit again by a second vehicle in the southbound lane and the driver fled the scene.

    Police are looking for the vehicle which is described as a 2006 or 2011 Black Honda Civic.

    Warden Ave. is closed in both directions between Lupin Dr. and Ellesmere Rd. The TTC 68 Warden Ave. route is diverting southbound via Lupin Dr., Crocus Dr. and Ellesmere Rd.


    Mother and two-year-old child dead after being hit by a vehicle in ScarboroughMother and two-year-old child dead after being hit by a vehicle in Scarborough

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    Billionaire Barry Sherman has come out victorious in a lawsuit brought by his cousins, who argued he owed them a share of his interest in Apotex, the generic drug company he founded in 1974.

    “The claimed interest in Apotex was wishful thinking, and beyond fanciful,” Superior Court Justice Kenneth Hood wrote in a decision released this month.

    “Nothing can now change these findings of fact.”

    Hood granted Sherman’s motion for summary judgment, finding there was no need to proceed to trial. He dismissed the lawsuit brought by Sherman’s cousins, the “Winter orphans,” four boys, three of them now grown men and one who has passed away and was represented in the lawsuit by his widow.

    Read more:Toronto billionaire’s orphaned cousins seek piece of Apotex fortune

    Their father, Louis Winter, was the founder of Empire Laboratories Ltd. and died in 1965, when the boys were still very young, just weeks before their mother, Beverley, also passed away. Cousin Barry would go on to acquire Empire in 1967 with some associates.

    The plaintiffs had alleged that Sherman owed them a “fiduciary duty,” in that he had promised the executors of their parents’ estate in an option that the Winter children would have the right to work for the company after the age of 21 and buy five per cent of the issued shares, according to their statement of claim.

    Instead, they alleged the founding of Apotex was made possible in 1974 through proceeds from Sherman’s eventual sale of Empire, but that no provision was made for the children to work at Apotex and become shareholders. In the recent lawsuit, they were seeking 20 per cent of Sherman’s interest in Apotex.

    But Hood wrote that the option was already null and void by the time Apotex was founded, and reiterated findings from a different judge in a previous unsuccessful lawsuit brought by the plaintiffs (assisted by a different lawyer) against their parents’ executors, Royal Trust.

    “As found by Justice (Paul) Perell and confirmed by the Court of Appeal, Apotex did not own or use any of the assets, goodwill, property of business of the Empire companies,” Hood wrote.

    The Winters’ lawyer, Brad Teplitsky, said they would be appealing, and declined to comment further. Lawyer Katherine Kay said neither Sherman nor his legal team would be commenting.

    Hood said the executors had wanted stronger terms in the option that would have “inhibited Sherman’s ability to resell the purchased business or take the Empire companies public. Sherman refused such terms.”

    After the 1967 purchase of Empire, the corporation that owned the drug company, Sherman & Ulster, entered into a share swap with shareholders from a different corporation in 1969. As a result, Sherman and his associates lost control of S & U, Hood said.

    The judge found the option agreement “arguably became null and void” at that time.

    “It is an abuse of process, in the circumstances of this case, to come to the court asking to proceed, even if against different parties, where the relief and issues arise from the same relationships and subject matter that have already been dealt with by Justice Perell and the Court of Appeal,” Hood wrote.


    Lawsuit seeking piece of Toronto billionaire Barry Sherman's fortune 'wishful thinking,' judge rulesLawsuit seeking piece of Toronto billionaire Barry Sherman's fortune 'wishful thinking,' judge rules

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    The perils of precarious work are often discussed, but rarely documented.

    That changed this month when my colleague Sara Mojtehedzadeh took the extra risk of going undercover to write about precisely those perilous working conditions in a Toronto factory.

    Now no one can say they didn’t know enough to finally do something about her revelations. Notably our lawmakers at Queen’s Park.

    The most compelling finding in the Toronto Star’s investigation, co-authored with reporter Brendan Kennedy: It’s not that the problem is so complicated, but that the province is so complicit in the explosive rise of temp agencies, the biggest profiteers from precarity.

    Read more:

    I went undercover in a Toronto factory where a temp agency worker was killed. This is what I found

    One year after this temp agency worker died at Fiera Foods, family is still searching for answers

    Fiera Foods hires independent auditor to review use of temp workers, health and safety practices

    Thanks to a complex web of loopholes, employers have offloaded much of the liability and risk of maintaining permanent staff to these temp agencies, which insulate them from the financial consequences of workplace accidents.

    Rather than accepting responsibility as the true employer of their factory staff, and paying the higher WSIB premiums pegged to blue collar work, they rely on temp agencies as phantom employers paying a lower, white-collar rate for accident insurance.

    If one of those poorly trained temporary hires should suffer a workplace accident — the statistics show a higher rate of injury — the temp agency bears the brunt on the WSIB’s books, cushioning the impact on the factory where it happened.

    But higher premiums have no lasting consequences for a temp agency that can disappear with the click of a mouse and rebrand itself the next day.

    In the digital age, these Potemkin temp agencies are themselves temporary, coming and going just as fake email addresses do. They can close up shop only to start up again under another name on another website with a new post office box, or in another strip mall storefront.

    The result is double jeopardy; it’s not just precarious workers who face extra peril, but all taxpayers and businesses who pay a price for this sleight of hand by the unseen hand of temporary agencies.

    The Star identified 2,588 temp agency accounts registered at the WSIB and found many were residential addresses in condos or the suburbs. Some were virtual offices — one was on an empty plot of land — and without assets to seize, the authorities lose their leverage in enforcing the law.

    Traditionally, temp agencies filled temporary gaps, acting as employment brokers until companies could plug any gaps in their office staff.

    Now, they are repositioning themselves to offer revolving-door substitutes on the factory floor, workers who are permanently precarious instead of permanent.

    Temporary staff are rarely unionized, can be terminated without notice and are traditionally paid less than permanent workers, while the temp agency pockets an undisclosed markup in their wages. They are, in essence, surrogate employers, as Mojtehedzadeh discovered when she was hired by an agency without ever meeting anyone, at an office that does not even exist.

    The provincial government is promising to address the problems of precarious work.

    New legislation, now being debated, would require companies to offer wage parity to temporary workers performing “substantially” similar work to that performed by permanent staff, and this would reduce one of the key financial incentives for contracting out.

    Labour Minister Kevin Flynn deserves credit for advancing workplace reforms.

    But he appears oddly reluctant to take the necessary next steps to protect precarious workers.

    Flynn acknowledged that the Star’s investigation revealed “there’s a problem out there that needs to be solved” and credited Mojtehedzadeh for going undercover “in a way that we (inspectors) couldn’t do at the Ministry of Labour.

    “Reading it on the front page of a large newspaper I think really did help.”

    But he has rejected caps on temporary workers and is in no hurry to close the loophole of lower WSIB rates; no changes are contemplated until 2019 at the earliest.

    Nor is he taking legal action to hold de facto employers to account, eliminating the temp agency dodge.

    Instead, the Liberal government is opting for half-measures that rely on exhortation, incentives and the goodwill of employers to remedy deep-rooted problems.

    Their approach is to rely on wage parity to fix precarity, rather than delving deeper to ensure WSIB premium parity.

    The underlying problem is that temp agencies are themselves temporary.

    This forces the authorities to play whack-a-mole while workers keep their heads down.

    The best way to prod employers to recognize their responsibilities is not merely through moral suasion in a competitive marketplace, but by legislating a level playing field so that all rivals are bound by the same fair practices.

    The problem of precarious work has been discussed long enough, and now documented well enough.

    Why is this government still not doing enough?

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


    Ontario is complicit in precarious employment: CohnOntario is complicit in precarious employment: Cohn

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