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- 09/29/17--03:00: _Donald Trump’s Bomb...
- 09/29/17--07:05: _Donald Trump’s fami...
- 09/29/17--07:07: _U.S. cuts embassy s...
- 09/29/17--07:32: _Show respect or ‘ge...
- 09/28/17--19:02: _‘We are living thro...
- 09/28/17--14:21: _Hugh Hefner’s Playb...
- 09/29/17--04:00: _Guillermo del Toro'...
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- 09/28/17--18:13: _Impaired driver Mar...
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- 09/29/17--14:28: _Four pedestrians di...
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- 09/29/17--12:29: _Tory MP Candice Ber...
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- 09/29/17--09:34: _Bail extended for C...
- 09/29/17--13:44: _Trump health secret...
- 09/29/17--15:45: _Toronto police Chie...
- 09/29/17--07:07: U.S. cuts embassy staff, warns against travel to Cuba: sources
- 09/29/17--09:05: LIVE: Barack Obama is giving a lunchtime speech in Toronto
- 09/29/17--14:32: Ottawa's Netflix deal angers culture-conscious Quebec
- 09/29/17--14:28: Four pedestrians die in Scarborough within 24 hours
- 09/29/17--15:45: Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders to undergo kidney transplant
One of the signal accomplishments of Justin Trudeau’s government has been its delicate dance with the elephant south of the border.
It has worked well with different levels of government, business, labour leaders and influencers in the U.S., while ignoring the bluster from the top.
By keeping Donald Trump at bay, the Liberals have also benefited, looking more progressive in image rather than deed because of the inevitable comparisons with Washington.
So far, so good. Until this week.
Bullies are going to bully. And the sledgehammer the Trump administration took to Bombardier was so far over the top that it demands a change of tone on bilateral relations from Trudeau and his key ministers.
The Liberals have shown patience, civility and a cool demeanour as softwood lumber came under attack from Washington, our dairy industry was threatened, as the president threatened to rip up NAFTA, decided to renegotiate after all and then bombastically threatened to kill the deal again while Canada, Mexico and the U.S. were at the table.
But a 220-per-cent duty on Bombardier jets is not mere rhetoric that can be ignored.
Most Canadians will not be seized by a fight between two overly-coddled aerospace companies. Neither Boeing nor Bombardier are easy to cuddle up to.
Both have been dining off government subsidies for years, a hallmark of the aerospace industry. Bombardier has received just short of $1.7 billion from Quebec and the federal government since Trudeau was elected in 2015. It received about $2 billion in the decade before the Liberals came to power and has been receiving government largesse since 1966.
Shortly after receiving $372.5 million from Ottawa, it hiked the pay of top executives by 50 per cent before backing down after a storm of criticism.
Boeing has received so much in government subsidies over the past two decades — estimated at $14 billion — that the Export-Import Bank of the United States is derisively known as the Bank of Boeing.
Even before he was inaugurated, Trump threatened to cancel Boeing’s contract to replace Air Force One because it was too expensive. So, Boeing complied, drastically cutting the price tag. It moved an assembly plant to South Carolina to avoid the inconvenience of pesky unions.
But this is beyond the aerospace industry.
By seeking almost three times what Boeing was seeking in duties over Bombardier’s sale of CSeries jets to Delta, there is no doubt this is a political decision in the U.S.
And there can be no doubt from the responses by Trudeau and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard that they see it as political as well.
Observers in the U.S. are left wondering about Trump’s gambit.
Is he just trying to muscle allies out of the U.S. as part of his America First strategy? Is he trying to goad Canada into a trade war this country would be wise to avoid?
By launching this during NAFTA talks, is he signalling that he really doesn’t want a trilateral deal?
If this is a typical Trumpian theatrical flourish, it could prove to be one expensive piece of theatre.
“This latest announcement reflects the destabilizing nature of the president,” Paul Frazer a Washington-based consultant and former Canadian diplomat told me.
“People voted him as a disrupter, but he is more than that. That can be more dangerous, and he is having an impact on Canada-U. S. relations.”
In the short term, the federal and Quebec governments should take their case to the states where more than 22,000 American jobs depend on building components for the Bombardier CSeries.
So far, Trudeau has saved his toughest talk for Boeing, saying his government will not do business with a company “aiming to put our aerospace workers out of business.”
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, in a lovely understatement, called the U.S. administration “unconventional.”
But Freeland is in a tough spot. She is trying to negotiate a trade deal with the U.S.
Any Canadian response to this move will have to be surgical in nature, but the Liberals are going to have to start showing some muscle.
It’s time for Trudeau and his government to take a sharper tone. Canadians want their prime ministers to be close, but not too close to American presidents. It’s no longer clear most Canadians even want their government to be close to Trump.
Yes, this illustrates the need to maintain a disputes settlement mechanism in NAFTA. But this Trump bullying on trade also means we might have to start thinking about life without NAFTA.
Tim Harper writes on national affairs. firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @nutgraf1
Donald Trump’s Bombardier bullying demands more muscle from Justin Trudeau: Harper
NEW YORK—U.S. President Donald Trump could cut his tax bills by more than $1.1 billion (U.S.), including saving tens of millions of dollars in a single year, under his proposed tax changes, a New York Times analysis has found.
On Wednesday, the White House announced a sweeping plan to cut a variety of taxes that would overwhelmingly benefit the wealthy. The estimate of Trump’s savings is based in part on information from his 2005 federal tax return. The analysis compares what his tax burden would be under current law with what it would be under the proposal.
Trump’s 2005 return is the most recent available publicly and was released in March by David Cay Johnston, a former New York Times reporter. The Times’ figure also relies on an estimate of Trump’s net worth, calculated by the Bloomberg Billionaire’s Index to be $2.86 billion.
“I don’t benefit. I don’t benefit,” Trump said Wednesday. “In fact, very, very strongly, as you see, I think there’s very little benefit for people of wealth.”
In fact, high-income earners like Trump are likely to benefit disproportionately if the White House proposal becomes law. The estimates, calculated with the help of Robert Willens, an accounting expert, and Stephen Breitstone, a tax lawyer, provide a view into precisely how.
Savings of about $1.1 billion from repealing the estate tax
Though it would not be reflected on his income tax return, Trump’s proposal to eliminate the estate tax would generate the largest tax savings. If his assets — reportedly valued at $2.86 billion— were transferred after his death under today’s rules, his estate would be taxed at about 40 per cent. Repealing the federal estate tax could save his family about $1.1 billion, though it could still be subject to New York estate taxes.
Savings of $31 million from repealing the alternative minimum tax
The decades-old alternative minimum tax is meant to prevent America’s wealthiest from using deductions to pay very low or no federal income tax. In 2005, it accounted for about 80 per cent of Trump’s overall income tax payment. His plan to repeal the tax would save him $31.3 million.
Savings of about $16 million from taxing certain types of business income at 25 per cent
Trump’s proposed changes could allow individuals to qualify for a significantly reduced tax rate of 25 per cent on certain types of income they receive through business partnerships and similar entities. That is up from the original proposal in April of 15 per cent, but far lower than the top tax rates currently faced by high-income earners of 39.6 per cent.
Trump could save as much as $6.2 million on business income and $9.8 million on income from real estate and other kinds of partnerships under this plan, compared with his tax burden under current law. (In 2005, much of this taxable income was offset by a $103.2 million writedown in business losses.)
The proposal released Wednesday “contemplates” that Congress will adopt measures to prevent the wealthy from recharacterizing their income to take advantage of the new, lower rate and avoid the top personal rate. If that happens, it could have a big effect on Trump’s tax bill.
Savings of about $500,000 from cutting the highest tax rate
The proposal to reduce the highest tax rate to 35 per cent from 39.6 per cent would save high-income earners similar to Trump a relatively small amount compared with the repeal of the alternative minimum tax. The $500,000 in savings is a rough estimate because Trump has not specified income levels for his proposed tax brackets.
Increase of $3 million to $5 million in taxes from repealing most deductions
Trump would probably lose most of the deductions he reported in 2005. Depending on his effective tax rate under the proposal, Trump could pay roughly $3 million to $5 million more in taxes.
As a resident of New York City, the largest portion of Trump’s deductions probably came from his local and state income taxes. Under his proposal, mortgage interest and charitable giving would still be deductible.
Donald Trump’s family could save more than $1 billion under his tax plan
WASHINGTON—The United States is warning Americans against visiting Cuba and ordering more than half of its Havana embassy personnel to leave the island, senior officials said Friday in a dramatic response to what they described as targeted “specific attacks” affecting the health of U.S. diplomats.
The decision deals a blow to already delicate ties between the U.S. and Cuba, longtime adversaries who only recently began putting their hostility behind them. The embassy in Havana will lose roughly 60 per cent of its U.S. staff, and will stop processing visas in Cuba indefinitely, the American officials said. Roughly 50 Americans are currently working at the embassy in Havana.
In a new travel warning to be issued Friday, the U.S. will say some of the mysterious attacks have occurred in Cuban hotels, and that while American tourists aren’t known to have been hurt, they could be exposed if they travel to Cuba. Tourism is a critical component of Cuba’s economy that has grown in recent years as the U.S. relaxed restrictions.
For now, the United States is not ordering any Cuban diplomats to leave Washington, another move that the administration had considered, officials said. Several U.S. lawmakers have called on the administration to expel all Cuban diplomats. In May, Washington asked two to leave, but emphasized it was to protest Havana’s failure to protect diplomats on its soil, not an accusation of blame.
Almost a year after diplomats began describing unexplained health problems, U.S investigators still don’t know what or who is behind the attacks, which have harmed at least 21 diplomats and their families, some with injuries as serious as traumatic brain injury and permanent hearing loss. Other symptoms have included fatigue, visual and balance problems, difficulty sleeping and dizziness.
Although the State Department has called them “incidents” and generally avoided deeming them attacks, officials said Friday the U.S. now has determined there were “specific attacks” on American personnel in Cuba.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made the decision to draw down the embassy overnight while travelling to China, officials said, after considering other options that included a full embassy shutdown and less significant personnel reductions. U.S. President Donald Trump reviewed the options with Tillerson in a meeting earlier in the week.
The officials demanded anonymity to provide the information because the moves have yet to be announced.
The United States notified Cuba early Friday via its embassy in Washington. Cuba’s embassy had no immediate comment.
Cubans seeking visas to enter the U.S. may be able to apply through embassies in nearby countries, officials said. The U.S. will also stop sending official delegations to Cuba, though diplomatic discussions will continue in Washington.
The moves deliver a significant setback to the delicate reconciliation between the U.S. and Cuba, two countries that endured a half-century estrangement despite their locations only 90 miles apart. In 2015, President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro restored diplomatic ties. Embassies re-opened, and travel and commerce restrictions were eased. Trump has reversed some changes, but has broadly left the rapprochement in place.
The Trump administration has pointedly not blamed Cuba for perpetrating the attacks. Officials have weighed the best way to minimize potential risk for Americans in Havana without unnecessarily harming relations between the countries. Rather than describe the action as punitive, the administration will emphasize Cuba’s responsibility to keep diplomats on its soil safe.
To investigators’ dismay, the symptoms in the attacks vary widely from person to person. In addition to hearing loss and concussions, some experienced nausea, headaches and ear-ringing, and the AP has reported some now suffer from problems with concentration and common word recall.
Though officials initially suspected some futuristic “sonic attack,” the picture has grown muddier. The FBI and other agencies that searched homes and hotels where incidents occurred found no devices. And clues about the circumstances of the incidents seem to make any explanation scientifically implausible.
Some U.S. diplomats reported hearing various loud noises or feeling vibrations when the incidents occurred, but others heard and felt nothing yet reported symptoms later. In some cases, the effects were narrowly confined, with victims able to walk “in” and “out” of blaring noises audible in only certain rooms or parts of rooms, the AP has reported.
Though the incidents stopped for a time, they recurred as recently as late August. The U.S. has said the tally of Americans affected could grow.
Already, staffing at the embassy in Havana was at lower-than-usual levels due to the recent hurricanes that whipped through Cuba.
Though Cuba implored the United States not to react hastily to the reports of health attacks, it appeared that last-minute lobbying was unsuccessful in the highest-level diplomatic contacts between the countries since the start of Trump’s presidency in January.
Last week, the Cuban official who has been the public face of the diplomatic opening with the U.S., Josefina Vidal, came to the State Department for a meeting in which the U.S. pressed its concerns. Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez used his speech to the UN General Assembly to insist Cuba had no idea what was harming American diplomats, while discouraging Trump from letting the matter become “politicized.”
As concerns grew about a possible embassy shut-down, Cuba requested an urgent meeting Tuesday between Rodriguez and Tillerson in which the Cuban again insisted his government had nothing to do with the incidents. Rodriguez added that his government also would never let another country hostile to the U.S. use Cuban territory to attack Americans.
Citing its own investigation, Cuba’s embassy said after the meeting: “There is no evidence so far of the cause or the origin of the health disorders reported by the U.S. diplomats.”
U.S. cuts embassy staff, warns against travel to Cuba: sources
NEW YORK—The head of the U.S. Air Force Academy delivered a resounding message on Thursday in response to racial slurs that were found on the academy’s campus, saying that if students could not treat their peers of different races with respect, “then you need to get out.”
In a five-minute address in front of the academy’s 4,000 cadets and 1,500 staff members, Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria affirmed the air force’s belief in “the power of diversity” and insisted that “small thinking and horrible ideas” had no place there.
He was responding to racial slurs that were found on the dormitory message boards of five black students at a preparatory school on the academy’s campus on Monday, said the academy, which is investigating.
“If you’re outraged by those words then you’re in the right place,” Silveria said. “You should be outraged not only as an airman, but as a human being.”
The episode attracted national attention when Tracye Whitfield, the mother of one of the students, posted a photo on Facebook of the message, which paired the words “go home” with a racial slur. “It’s a nerve-racking feeling,” Whitfield told a local news station in Colorado Springs, near where the academy is located.
The preparatory school, usually called the “prep school,” prepares candidates for admission to the academy proper. About 240 students, called “cadet candidates,” attend the school each year.
Though the slurs were discovered at the prep school, “it would be naïve” to think the episode did not reflect on the academy and the air force as a whole, Silveria said.
“Some of you may think that that happened down at the prep school and doesn’t apply to us,” he said. “I would be naïve, and we would all be naïve, to think that everything is perfect here.”
He then explicitly linked the discovery of the slurs to events like the demonstrations in Charlottesville, Va., where white supremacists marched with torches in August, and Ferguson, Mo., where the fatal shooting of a black teenager by a police officer in 2014 set off protests across the country. He said that these events formed a backdrop that had to be addressed, and that to think otherwise would be “tone deaf.”
After calling for a civil discourse, he spoke of the power of various forms of diversity, evoking “the power that we come from all walks of life, that we come from all parts of this country, that we come from all races, we come from all backgrounds, gender, all makeup, all upbringing.”
He added: “This is our institution and no one can take away our values. No one can write on a board and question our values.”
Silveria grew up in an air force family and graduated from the academy in 1985. It was announced in May that he would return to become superintendent, and in his first address to cadets, in August, he said that his defining values were “respect and dignity.”
Toward the end of his remarks on Thursday, he referenced those values again, exhorting cadets to take out their phones and film his words so that they could remember, share and discuss them.
“If you can’t treat someone from another gender with dignity and respect, then you need to get out,” he said. “If you demean someone in any way, you need to get out. If you can’t treat someone from another race, or different colour skin, with dignity and respect, then you need to get out.”
The Air Force Academy has struggled to address different forms of discrimination in the past. In 2014, a Pentagon report found that sexual assault and harassment were widespread at the three military academies and that, of the 70 reported incidents in the 2012-2013 school year, almost two-thirds took place at the Air Force Academy. There were 32 reports of sexual assault at the school in the 2015-2016 school year, the Pentagon said, down from 49 the previous year.
The academy has also come under fire for religious intolerance and insensitivity. A 2005 Pentagon report found that there was a “perception of religious bias” on campus as well as examples of improper proselytizing from both cadets and officers at the school.
Show respect or ‘get out,’ U.S. general says after racist slurs found on air force campus
Former U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton took to a Toronto stage Thursday night in front of a cheering audience of thousands, a scene reminiscent of the campaign trail she left behind on Nov. 8, 2016.
Her electoral loss was almost a year old, but the sting is clearly still fresh.
“There were times when I just wanted to pull the covers over my head,” Clinton said of her failed campaign.
The appearance in Toronto was part of a 15-city tour to promote her newly released memoir, What Happened. And, like her memoir, the speech darted between reasons for her electoral loss — including individuals from former FBI director James Comey to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange — and the “phoney stories and hysterical appeals” of right-wing press outlets.
The event itself was tightly locked down. Men and women in black suits, many with telltale earpieces snaking up their necks, led media to a cordoned-off area and audience members to their places.
RCMP officers were embedded for Clinton’s protection, and maintained a low profile. Instead of their usual scarlet uniforms, they wore suits that blended easily with the crowd of about 5,000 — most of them women, who howled and applauded above Clinton’s comments, which ranged in topic from Donald Trump to HGTV.
After a musical opener warmed up the crowd, playing songs such as “Sway” and “Hold On,” Clinton’s appearance began with a set of opening remarks, which brought the crowd to their feet.
From the back of the room, one woman called out: “We love you!”
The comment echoed through the room. Clinton beamed, telling the crowd her family had vacationed in Quebec just this year. Veering into politics, she singled out Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as “charismatic and compassionate.”
“I remember when we had that in America,” she said, again delighting the crowd.
After a preamble that expressed admiration for both Harriet Tubman and Kelly Clarkson, Clinton settled into a chair across from her moderator for the night — Caroline Codsi, president and founder of Women in Governance.
She was ready, she said, for the “hard questions.”
But the questions posed to Clinton were adoring. Recalling a televised debate between her and her opponent, Trump, the moderator described the latter as “like a big bad wolf in a business suit.” At one point, Codsi prompted the crowd to give Clinton a round of applause for her pre-candidacy accomplishments.
“Why did he refuse to say anything?” Codsi asked of Comey and the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the presidential campaign. Why, it was also asked, did he choose to go public about the investigation into Clinton’s emails?
“I don’t know why he did it,” Clinton responded. “I know it was the principal reason I lost the election.” She added that she had her doubts about whether the former director truly thought the allegations were “serious,” and that she didn’t blame voters for her loss.
She does, however, fear for the era her nation lives in under the leadership of the man who beat her in the election.
“We are living through an all-out assault on truth and reason,” she said.
All the while, the crowd clapped along, booing at mentions of Trump. Clinton didn’t shy away from jabs at her former opponent and his apparent liking of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“He likes all that macho performance,” Clinton said of Trump, adding that the current president took a liking to authoritarianism because it “dispenses with all the messiness of democracy.”
Comparing Canadian and American politics, she hailed the parliamentary system north of the border — because in America, she said dryly, “literally anyone can run for president.” She openly called her opponent a “creep.”
Codsi pointed out that Americans often tease Canadians, but “we have Trudeau, and you have Trump, so who’s laughing now?”
“Yeah, Canadians really are nice,” Clinton responded, chuckling.
As Codsi continued to praise Clinton, the former candidate herself voiced the confusion that was palpable in the room: “How did I lose, listening to you, Caroline?” she asked.
Throughout the hour, she speculated in particular on issues of sexism. “For men, professional success and likability go hand in hand,” she said. “Not for women.”
There was a kind of “blowback about women’s progress” happening, she said. Sen. Elizabeth Warren was silenced when she tried to read a letter from Coretta Scott King in the Senate about Attorney General Jeff Sessions, she noted, but a male colleague was able to continue.
Just last week in Canada, she added, former Conservative cabinet minister Gerry Ritz called current Environment Minister Catherine McKenna “climate Barbie” in a derogatory tweet.
The only way to combat sexism in politics is to increase the representation of women, Clinton asserted. “It’s not just what happened to me in 2016.”
Asked about the next generation of women in politics and the impact of movements like the Women’s March, Clinton said: “There’s a lot of great energy in the United States right now.” Though her experience was daunting, she said she hoped it wouldn’t dissuade other women from entering the political arena.
“I don’t want anyone to give up because it’s hard.”
Asked if she had any names for potential candidates in the 2020 presidential election, Clinton dodged specific answers, commending individuals working in fields from government to the private sector. She said she would expect between 20 and 25 candidates in the running.
And, she added, if there’s a woman among them, “I hope that she’s someone I can agree with so I can support her.”
‘We are living through an all-out assault on truth and reason,’ Clinton warns adoring Toronto crowd
Since news broke that Hugh Hefner, founder and editor of Playboy magazine, died Wednesday night at the age of 91 fans called him a “cultural icon,” and “media titan,” while critics hesitated to mourn a man they said embodied “male entitlement.”
Oakville resident Julie McLeod remembers him another way: as a kind, gracious host.
Hefner was well-known as a radical hedonist who played a major role in bringing sex into the mainstream of American media — a legacy that’s brought him both praise and derision.
McLeod, a former model and actress, was living in a hotel in Los Angeles in 1984 when her friend and fellow model Carrie Leigh — then Hefner’s girlfriend — invited her to stay at his famed home instead.
“I was a young woman so I was apprehensive,” McLeod told the Star on Thursday, nodding to the controversy surrounding Hefner that he made his living largely off women’s sexuality.
“There are a lot of people that will presume I must have been a playmate and it must have been wild. That was contrary to my experience.
“I am very much a feminist and I never for a moment felt any level of sexism or stereotypical treatment of females,” she said of her time with the celebrity.
McLeod told the Star she ended up staying at the Playboy mansion for about six months as a guest, where she got to know Hefner, his friends, and many “playmates” — women featured in the magazine who stayed in the mansion’s guesthouse.
As soon as she arrived she was given a list of where all the guests in the mansion were staying, and how to reach the butler. It was an instant signal of the luxurious lifestyle she had just entered.
She described the time of her stay as both “wonderful” and “surreal.”
“The most wonderful side of it was Hef’s just a normal human being,” she said.
One time over Christmas, Hefner was worried about her being lonely, so he made sure to keep her company over a private breakfast — a small, human act of kindness, she said.
Other times she more easily recognized the glamorous, larger-than-life celebrity hotspot the mansion was painted as in the media.
On Christmas Eve, Hefner and his guests were sitting around a large ornate Christmas tree when Tony Bennett came out to sing.
“You never knew who you’d see,” McLeod said.
She said she understands why some people have a stereotypical view of Hefner — after all, he worked hard to hone his “playboy” image and project it to the outside world.
Wild parties weren’t really part of the deal, at least not in McLeod’s experience there. On Fridays and Saturdays party guests would usually go home by 11 p.m.
Still, “they all want to believe in that Hollywood dazzle,” she said.
Hugh Hefner’s Playboy mansion a ‘surreal’ experience for Canadian who stayed six months
One morning this week at the Art Gallery of Ontario, the attentive would have witnessed the dystopian fantasy equivalent of a solar eclipse: There, emerging from the Grange, the gallery’s Victorian manse, was Margaret Atwood, passing so close to film director Guillermo del Toro, tucked into the gallery’s closet-sized green room for a slate of quickie interviews, as to touch.
With Atwood fully in the swing of a Hollywood renaissance, it would be fair to imagine them converging here for that very purpose. But no. “I’ve never met her, but I would love to,” says del Toro, every bit the wide-eyed fan. “She’s so important. Her work is perennial; it never stops being relevant.”
While it might seem a surprising affinity — Atwood has, at least to my knowledge, not written of angels of death with multiple eyeballs embedded in their wings, or of an amphibious man-thing with a taste for hard-boiled eggs — think again. In A Handmaid’s Tale, Atwood’s monsters may favour three-piece suits or long button-hooked gowns over scales and fangs, but they’re monsters all the same. And the radical tension of a world stretched to extremes, leaving a wasteland of human wreckage as it snaps, is their common ground. (So is Toronto, where del Toro spends most of the time now, he says. “I live in Leslieville, very bohemian,” he laughs).
At the AGO, del Toro’s At Home With Monsters opens to the public tomorrow, and it’s an intense, overpoweringly completist view into the esthetic and philosophical fascinations of its maker. The show, for the most part, is a full transposition of del Toro’s Bleak House (after Charles Dickens’ Gothic tale) in Los Angeles, a sprawling pair of suburban homes transformed into an interior landscape of del Toro’s mind.
It is, very simply, a lot: more than 500 objects, from original Disney animation cells (think not of the mouse, but Sleeping Beauty’s dragon, or the demon presiding over a scene of Fantasia) to drawings and paintings, some gore-laden, some beguilingly innocent, by favourite illustrators and artists to hundreds of comic books, Victorian novels, production models (the aforementioned angel of death, Pan, the horned demon from Pan’s Labyrinth, a giant vampire’s sarcophagus from The Strain) and, in one faithful recreation of the library from Crimson Peak, a room with perpetual rain.
The obvious questions are what, if anything, separates At Home With Monsters from a new exhibit at Universal Studios, and what, exactly, is it doing in an art museum at all? The answers, or my answers, are: not a lot (at least at first glance) and I’m not exactly sure. But del Toro has his own.
“For me, for sure, there is no line,” he said, when asked about the traditional church-and-state division between culture, high and low. “Art for me is a spiritual exercise. And if you stay only on one side of that line, you’re a Victorian: you’re John Ruskin. You’re extolling virtues in art that it doesn’t need, that aren’t necessary. That limits you.”
It’s a reasonable argument and it helps that it’s made from so learned a point of view. Del Toro is impossibly well-read (Ruskin, a Victorian-era utopian philosopher, is a paragon of rigid one-note idealism), an obsessive’s obsessive on a vast range of cultural history and philosophy.
As a child, he says, he had comic books and encyclopedias side by side, and would toggle back and forth between Spider-Man and French Impressionism, and the division between things never occurred to him.
“The exercise, I think, is that any cultural consumption without a cognitive process is deplorable,” he says. “If you just consume pop culture and don’t process it, critically, or try to elevate it in your mind and make it your own, it’s just sad. But the same can be said of the sanctioned manifestations of art. If you go to an art museum just to check a box, to accept what you’re told, then what is the point?”
It’s been a busy few months for the director, as his new film, The Shape of Water, about an amphibious humanoid kept in captivity who becomes romantically entangled with one of his keepers, is already generating Oscar chatter. Such is the contradiction of del Toro: a genre-ish monster movie that transcends its parameters with the force of its emotional core.
It embodies its maker almost perfectly. Over a brief spate of time, del Toro ranges from H.P. Lovecraft (a cherished, fetishized favourite, to the point where he’s recreated the author’s library, not to mention the author himself, at his Bleak House) to Henry James and Oscar Wilde, from horror comic book virtuoso Bernie Wrightson to B-grade fantasy film director Ray Harryhausen to Francisco Goya (“What do you do with the most vibrant, terrifying, intimate period of his work, his dark painting?” he asks, excitedly).
In many ways, his fascinations are a mirror of cultural history and the countercurrents that animate them: the grotesque, a visceral, sensualist’s subculture running beneath the politely opulent beauty of the baroque, or the wave of Gothic horror that ran counter to the Enlightenment.
“When we talk about Victorian society being a moral and artistic corset, what is that corset holding? How big will the spillage be?” he laughs. “When you read Mary Shelley or Lord Byron, the 1800s are really fascinating, because there’s a counter-movement to the Age of Reason. What’s great about Victorian art is that it sublimates with the fanatasic. And the resurgence of the Gothic speaks, to me, about taking the urge to do something wild, something savage.”
It should come as no surprise that, alongside Lovecraft, Shelley’s Frankenstein is a central fascination and appears around every corner here. Its tale — of human hubris interfering with the divine, begetting violence and woe — could have been written by del Toro himself. At some point, it will be: a new film version is one of the director’s fondest hopes.
Woven into del Toro’s agglomeration of stuff are the occasional piece from the AGO’s own collection and they help blur the line he so steadfastly ignores. From a Goya — one of those dark paintings, natch — to Tissot to Piranesi, well-placed images coax the fantastic from across the border of the art-historical canon.
“Guillermo didn’t want to do a show that was all plastic and glitz and studio junk,” said Jim Shedden, the AGO’s curator on the exhibition. “It’s not about him being a particular genius. It’s about the spectrum of things that inform his world view.”
The starry-eyed fanboys will find much to their liking: gloopy masks and production models from Pan’s Labyrinth, ectoplasmic explosions in quick-cut film clips from Mimic, Cronos, Crimson Peak, the monster-mashing of the Hellboy movies and the splatter-filled Blade II. “What did Lord Byron say? If all else fails, shock them. That could have been said by a B-movie director,” del Toro laughs.
But the CBC hustled out a quickie online earlier this week, calling it a memorabilia show, and that’s not exactly fair. Del Toro’s esthetic may sit comfortably in the genre of occasionally shlocky horror/fantasy, his narrative urge — toward allegory, parables of universal and timeless transformation from innocence to experience, and beyond — transcends it. In that way, he makes an opening through which almost all of us can pass.
“Ultimately, the nature of humanity is the fundamental lack of peace between two sides: the profane and the divine,” he says. “I try to speak about purity rather than innocence, because innocence is a construct, something that’s supposed to exist above reality, outside the real world. None of us can do that. But each of us embodies within us a state of grace. That, I believe.”
Guillermo del Toro: At Home With Monsters opens at the Art Gallery of Ontario Saturday and continues to Jan. 7, 2018. Please see www.ago.net/guillermo-del-toro-at-home-with-monsters
Guillermo del Toro's new AGO show is a monster with a mysterious purpose
Former U.S. president Barack Obama is visiting Toronto on Friday to delivering a lunchtime speech about global citizenship.
The Obama event at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre is expected to attract about 3,000 people.
The event is being hosted by Ottawa-based think-tank Canada2020.
LIVE: Barack Obama is giving a lunchtime speech in Toronto
Two years after the impaired driving crash that claimed the lives of three children and their grandfather, Marco Muzzo has reportedly been moved to a minimum security prison and is likely to apply for unattended day release in October.
On Sept. 26, Jennifer Neville-Lake wrote a tribute to all three of her children — Daniel, 9, Harry, 5, and Milly, 2 — on Facebook in a post shared more than 2,000 times.
“Another year is dead and gone,” she wrote. “Another year and I’m still here. Another year of every day hearing how many others have joined this gruesome family I was forced into, made up of victims of impaired driving.”
Also killed during the 2015 crash in Vaughan was Neville-Lake’s father, Gary Neville, 69. Badly injured were her mother, Neriza Neville, and grandmother Josefina Frias.
The anniversary and post came as Muzzo appears to be benefiting from prison rules designed to help inmates reintegrate into the community.
Despite being sentenced in March 2016 to 10 years for impaired driving, Muzzo can apply for “unescorted temporary absences” on Oct. 18. They can be granted by the prison’s warden, according to Corrections Canada spokesman Kyle Lawlor.
Global News reported that Muzzo was moved from medium security to a minimum security prison last week.
But Corrections Canada would not confirm this or the name of the prison where he is being held.
An inmate’s preparedness for a minimum security prison, which has no fences but does have boundaries, is decided based on three factors, according to Corrections Canada: an inmate’s risk to the public, their flight risk and their institutional behaviour.
YorkRegion.com repeatedly asked Corrections Canada why the details of Muzzo’s imprisonment are being withheld from the public, but was told information could not be released under the Privacy Act.
Corrections Canada did provide Muzzo’s schedule for release, including his eligibility for day parole, on Nov. 9, 2018; full parole eligibility, on May 9, 2019; his statutory release date, June 18, 2022; and his warrant expiry, June 28, 2025.
York Regional Police say impaired driving charges remain high, despite having fallen somewhat from last year. From January 2017 to Sept. 12, there were 853 impaired charges in the region, down 47 from 2016.
Meanwhile, the Facebook post from Jennifer Neville-Lake described her continued agony over her children’s death.
“I’ve learned about how unfair, unjust and just downright cruel it is that I have to wait to be driven daily to visit my children and my dad at their forever bed, to sit at the foot of a tombstone that bears their beautiful photos and the dates of their individual sunrises and sunsets,” Lake’s post said. “The cold, lifeless monument that bears their names is a stark reminder of what happened to them and who took them away from me and put them in the cold ground.”
Impaired driver Marco Muzzo moved to minimum security prison, reports say
MONTREAL—If Netflix’s offerings reflected the vitality of Canada’s film and television industries, one might understand why Justin Trudeau’s government would give the American conglomerate preferential tax-free treatment in recognition of its vital role in putting the country on the streaming map.
But Netflix cannot have become the federal government’s best pal in the pursuit of an updated vision of Canada’s place in a brave new digital world on account of the efforts it has expended on showcasing Canadian content.
About half of all this country’s households subscribe to Netflix. Canada happens to be home to the largest number of citizens whose mother tongue is French outside of France. Based on the Canadian content available on Netflix, this country might as well be a unilingual cultural colony of the United States.
Here are some gems unearthed on a dispiriting Canadian content search down the Netflix rabbit hole.
A total of two television series appear in Netflix’s “binge-worthy Canadian TV dramas” category: Travelers and Between and that’s two more than are listed as binge-worthy in French.
There are barely more than half a dozen movies listed in the French-Canadian film category. Most are translations from English. Zootopia and Finding Dory are on that list.
A few more surface in a separate Quebec category alongside, among other offerings, a French translation of an American documentary titled Hot Girls Wanted. That one is not available with “Canadian French audio” but The Lord of the Rings is.
This week Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly placed Netflix at the centre of her government’s bid to maintain and expand the digital footprint of Canada’s television and film industries. The deal she struck with the streaming company will presumably become a template for similar arrangements with other global corporations that operate in the cultural sector.
Boasting that it was “the biggest investment in the last 30 years in Canadian content from a foreign company” the minister unveiled a deal that will see Netflix invest $100 million a year for five years in the production of Canadian television.
But Joly was unable to say how the spending promise compares with what Netflix would have spent in Canada absent a deal with Ottawa.
Nor were there specifics as to what qualifies as Canadian content. Are American series shot in Canada to take advantage of tax credits considered domestic productions?
What the deal does do is maintain a non-level playing field between Canada’s cable industry players and Netflix. They have to collect the sales taxes and contribute a percentage of their revenues to a national media fund. Netflix is free of similar obligations.
Netflix’s is in the editorial driver’s seat and it has no quota of original French language content to meet.
Joly says there is no reason to worry because Netflix executives know that some of the top names in the business — filmmakers such as Jean-Marc Vallée, Denis Villeneuve and Xavier Dolan — are all from Quebec. Really?
The first just won an Emmy for his work as director of the HBO series Big Little Lies. Villeneuve’s Blade Runner sequel is opening this month. Dolan is in pre-production of his first English-language film.
Chances are it is neither their French-language skills nor the cultural eco-system within which this trio’s talent was nurtured that are the attraction for Netflix executives.
Joly’s Netflix announcement has ignited a Quebec firestorm with some columnists describing the spirit behind the federal policy as the symptom of a branch-plant mentality.
The province’s culture minister, Luc Fortin, urged Ottawa to go back to the drawing board.
The Conseil du patronat — a lobby that speaks for Quebec’s private sector executives — was as scathing in its denunciation of the Netflix deal as was the leftist Québec Solidaire party.
Nowhere in Canada is the issue of culture more sensitive than in Quebec. It is seen as central to the province’s collective identity. Stephen Harper’s Conservatives learned that at their expense in 2008. A pre-election round of culture cuts contributed to losing them a coveted governing majority.
It is too early to conclude that Joly’s announcement will similarly damage Trudeau’s Liberals. They are seen as more culture-friendly than their Conservative predecessors, and they have public dollars at their disposal to back up that perception. But Joly’s Neflix deal has elicited more blowback in Quebec than any of her government’s previous policy announcements.
Chantal Hébert is a national affairs writer. Her column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
Ottawa's Netflix deal angers culture-conscious Quebec
A pedestrian safety advocate says dangerously high speed limits are to blame for the spate of four pedestrian deaths that occurred in a 24-hour period between Wednesday and Thursday evenings.
“The speed limits on the most dangerous roads are not getting changed,” said Dylan Reid, co-founder of Walk Toronto.
Four pedestrians were killed in Scarborough on roads with speed limits of 50 kilometres per hour or higher.
The first two to be struck and killed were a woman and her 5-year-old daughter Wednesday night. Hours later, a 56-year-old man was pinned under a vehicle and pronounced dead on the scene. Thursday night, a 71-year-old man was struck and killed.
The 34-year-old woman and her daughter died after running across a road at Warden Ave. and Continental Pl., near Ellesmere Rd. The father and another child, 2, crossed the street safely while the mother and daughter were struck. The speed limit on the road was 60 km/h.
The 56-year-old man died Thursday on Birchmount Rd., south of St. Clair Ave. E., which has a speed limit of 50 km/h. Another man died on McCowan Rd., south of Steeles Ave. E., which has a speed limit of 60 km/h.
“There are more deaths on the roads where the speed limits are higher,” said Reid. “It just speaks to the need to reduce speeds in Toronto as a whole because people are at risk in all different parts of the city.”
Warden Ave. and Continental Pl., where the first two victims died, is described by locals as the most dangerous stretch of road in Scarborough. Traffic zips by and the two closest traffic lights are roughly a four-minute walk away from the spot where the mother and daughter crossed.
“The safe crossing points are very few and far between,” said Reid. “You have to walk a long distance to get to a safe crossing spot and that makes it more likely that people are going to try to cross where there isn’t a safe crossing spot.”
All three locations where the deaths occurred are being reviewed by the city’s transportation services division, said Marko Oinonen, manager of traffic operations for the Scarborough district.
“This would be to see if the transportation infrastructure was in good order, but also to determine if there are any enhancements that might benefit the areas,” said Oinonen.
The World Health Organization states that pedestrians have a 90-per-cent chance of survival when struck by a car travelling at 30 km/h or below, while the chance of survival is half when struck by a vehicle going 45 km/h.
A 2015 staff report by the city of Toronto stated that the majority, about 90 per cent, of the collisions resulting in pedestrian deaths occur on roads with posted speeds of 50 and 60 km/h.
The city adopted a five-year road safety plan in 2017 with an aim to reduce the number of road fatalities and serious injuries to zero. They named it after Vision Zero — an international movement designing roads and traffic systems to save lives, even if it inconveniences drivers.
Toronto’s plan fails to adopt a citywide, universal approach that could prevent occurrences like the ones in Scarborough, said Reid.
“The city is lowering some speed limits,” said Reid. “But the city is reluctant to lower speed limits on the fastest roads where the biggest danger lies because that would create stronger reaction from drivers.”
In Sweden, where Vision Zero originated, the speed limit does not exceed 30 km/h on roads where there is a mixture of cars and pedestrians. The program is credited with reducing traffic fatalities in cities by nearly 40 per cent.
“Toronto’s Vision Zero plan isn’t really a Vision Zero plan,” said Reid. “It’s a fairly modest road and safety plan that is specific to certain areas of the city.”
Four pedestrians die in Scarborough within 24 hours
A judge in Louisiana on Thursday said that Black Lives Matter is a social movement and therefore can’t be sued, dismissing a lawsuit brought by an anonymous police officer.
In his ruling, Chief Judge Brian Jackson, of the U.S. District Court in Baton Rouge, said that the lawsuit against several parties, including Black Lives Matter and DeRay Mckesson, one of the movement’s most prominent supporters, suffered from “numerous deficiencies.”
The officer, of the Baton Rouge Police Department, first filed the suit late last year, arguing that the pair should be held responsible for injuries he suffered while responding to protests in 2016. A rock or piece of concrete thrown at a protest struck him, he said, resulting in loss of teeth and injuries to his jaw, brain and head.
The protest at which the officer was injured, attended by Mckesson, was held in Baton Rouge in July 2016 amid widespread demonstrations over police shootings of black men. The officer alleged that Mckesson had helped incite violence at the protest. That month saw five police officers killed at a march against police shootings in Dallas, and three more killed in Baton Rouge.
This summer, the officer added two more parties to his lawsuit. One was Black Lives Matter Network, Inc., a group associated with the movement. The other was “#BlackLivesMatter,” which, Jackson noted repeatedly in italics, is a hashtag, a marker used on Twitter to flag posts about a similar topic.
In his ruling, Jackson acknowledged that groups and individuals associated with the movement can be brought to court. But Black Lives Matter was an exception, he said.
“Black Lives Matter,” as a social movement, cannot be sued, however, in a similar way that a person cannot plausibly sue other social movements such as the Civil Rights movement, the L.G.B.T. rights movement, or the Tea Party movement. If he could state a plausible claim for relief, a plaintiff could bring suit against entities associated with those movements, though, such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Human Rights Campaign, or Tea Party Patriots.
Jackson also chafed at the inclusion of the hashtag, which the officer and his lawyers defined as “a national unincorporated association” in California.
For reasons that should be obvious, a hashtag — which is an expression that categorizes or classifies a person’s thought — is not a “juridical person” and therefore lacks the capacity to be sued. Amending the Complaint to add “#BlackLivesMatter” as a Defendant in this matter would be futile because such claims “would be subject to dismissal”; a hashtag is patently incapable of being sued.
In the end, he criticized the officer and his lawyers for including either.
Plaintiff’s attempt to bring suit against a social movement and a hashtag evinces either a gross lack of understanding of the concept of capacity or bad faith.
Billy Gibbens, a lawyer for Mckesson, said he was pleased with the ruling.
“DeRay has repeatedly said that he doesn’t endorse violence, and we’re sorry for what happened to the officer, but I think the judge was right that he’s not responsible,” he said.
This case may be resolved, but another, brought before the same judge by a different officer, against Mckesson, Black Lives Matter, the hashtag, and others, remains, Gibbens said.
A lawyer for the anonymous officer could not immediately be reached.
No, you can’t sue #BlackLivesMatter, judge says in ruling against injured Louisiana cop
OTTAWA—Conservative MP Candice Bergen said the Liberals should have protested when China denied her a visa to travel there with other parliamentarians this summer, instead of leaving her behind.
The Opposition House leader was supposed to be among the MPs and senators on the Canada-China Legislative Association who travelled overseas Aug. 14 to 27. She was hoping to talk to Chinese politicians and government officials about Canadian canola exports and human rights.
She said she was alarmed by some of the personal details China asked of those going on the trip, especially since they were travelling on special passports, so she decided to leave some information about her family out of the application.
China denied her visa a few days before the group was due to leave.
“That was disappointing and shocking,” said Bergen, who pointed out she was a minister of state in the former Conservative government and had been to China before, in March 2016.
What surprised her even more, she said, was that when she sent an email to others in the group asking whether they were going to do anything about it, such as cancelling the visit, she never heard back.
“It was just crickets,” she said. “No word at all from anybody on the Liberal side and they all went on the trip.”
Sen. Joseph Day, who co-chairs the Canada-China Legislative Association, said the group did push back on the invasive nature of the application form, but were told by Canadian and Chinese officials, as well as the politicians they later met on the trip, they did not have a choice if they wanted to go.
“The Chinese were not flexible on that,” said Day.
“It’s reflective of what other countries are asking for, including Canada, when people visit those countries, so they wouldn’t change it.”
A spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland confirmed no one should expect special treatment.
"All Canadians seeking to visit a foreign country should comply with the entry procedures required by that country," Adam Austen wrote in an email Friday.
"No Canadian is obliged to fill out an application required to visit another country, however, they might be refused entry if they choose not to do so," he said. "Similarly, Canada expects that all visitors to our country comply with the appropriate laws and regulations."
Still, Conservative MP Cathy McLeod said she also left out some information she did not feel comfortable disclosing.
She said she was granted a visa anyway.
Once she learned Bergen could not go, she decided to stay home too.
Bergen said she eventually heard back from Day, who said China had the right to decide who to let in.
She acknowledged that to be true, but suggested Canada would not bar an elected official.
“Can you imagine that ever happening and the fallout from that?” she said.
There was, in fact, a lot of controversy in 2009 when the Canadian Border Services Agency denied entry to George Galloway, then a British MP.
Day said cancelling the trip would not have been fair to those who did complete their forms and wanted to keep building relationships with China.
According to records provided by the Senate, the parliamentarians who did go were Day, Liberal MPs Geng Tan, Terry Sheehan, Terry Duguid and Majid Jowhari, New Democrat MP Jenny Kwan, Senate Liberal Percy Downe and Conservative Sen. Victor Oh.
A spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa did not respond to a request for comment.
Bergen said she thinks the lack of protest has more to do with the Liberal government’s efforts to secure a free trade deal with China.
“This is how they negotiate and it seems the Liberals, even on something like this, don’t seem to have the fortitude to be able to stand up to China and stand up for Canadians and in this case, a Canadian parliamentarian,” she said.
Bergen said she recently wrote to John McCallum, Canada’s ambassador to China, about the incident.
Day said it is important to maintain relationships in China for all sorts of reasons, noting that members of the parliamentary group had done their part to help convince China to lift the ban on Canadian beef imports during previous visits.
“You can only get that done through personal contacts and repeated visits. It doesn’t happen overnight,” he said.
“So to say that ‘I don’t like your form that you’ve produced and I’m not going to tell you that information, and give me the visa anyway,’ it just doesn’t work,” he said. “We’d refuse a visa to the Chinese if they didn’t fill the form out.”
Tory MP Candice Bergen says Liberals didn’t help after China denied her visa
A Toronto-area company’s upcoming video game called Dirty Chinese Restaurant is being denounced as racist, but the business says its product is meant as satire.
Big-O-Tree Games says the game — in which players chase cats and dogs with a cleaver, scavenge for ingredients and dodge immigration officials — “in no way is meant to be an accurate representation of Chinese culture.”
The Markham company says the game is coming out soon for Apple and Android devices but it has yet to announce a release date.
A New York congresswoman this week urged all platforms not to carry the game or any other that “glorifies in hurting any community.”
In a Facebook post on Monday, New York Rep. Grace Meng says the game “uses every negative and demeaning stereotype that I have ever come across as a Chinese American.”
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne also condemned the game on Twitter on Thursday, saying such racism has no place in Ontario.
Big-O-Tree has issued two trailers for the game, which show the protagonist, Wong Fu, dumpster diving, evading tax collectors and sabotaging competitors.
The videos begin with the company’s logo and the tagline, “Because being politically correct is so...boring.”
The company defended the game in a statement posted on its website.
“It has come to our attention that our small, independent game, Dirty Chinese Restaurant, has upset some people due to its content,” it said.
“Our game is mainly satire and comedy influenced by the classic politically incorrect shows we grew up watching, such as: South Park, All in the Family, Sanford & Son, Family Guy, Simpsons, and Chappelle’s Show. We also listen to Jay-Z.”
The company describes itself as a small independent game studio “making games no one thought possible” and says it strives “to create entertainment that we all want to experience which is fun, addictive, and hilarious.”
Markham company’s ‘Dirty Chinese Restaurant’ mobile game denounced as racist
A woman ordered to pay nearly $24,000 to the man she accused of sexual assault has lost her appeal.
The woman’s lawyer, Jonathan Collings, questioned the Welland small claims court ruling, in part, because he accused the deputy judge of relying on “sexual stereotypes.”
Deputy Judge David Black found the woman was unreliable and that she falsely accused her ex-boyfriend as revenge for perceived infidelity. She was ordered to pay $23,842 — a decision that has drawn sharp criticism from sexual assault survivor advocates who argued it will discourage victims from reporting to police. Collings had asked for the case to be dismissed.
However, Ontario Superior Court Justice James Ramsay dismissed the appeal, arguing the deputy judge was “entitled” to believe him over her and that the 2016 decision was not “improper.”
“I agree that (to) resort to any gender related misconceptions would have been erroneous, but I do not think that the judge made any such resort,” Ramsay’s written decision said.
The original ruling is based on “the contradictions in her own statements,” he said.
Collings declined to comment further, adding that he’s not retained on the matter anymore and is unaware of any plans to appeal further.
The woman cannot be named because of a publication ban. The Spectator has chosen to also not name the man, who has declined to speak with The Spectator.
The man, who represented himself at the hearing Sept. 8, argued the case has been a “nightmare.” He was charged criminally, but that charge was withdrawn at the preliminary hearing.
Suzanne Mason, public education coordinator for the Niagara Sexual Assault Centre, attended part of the hearing and expressed shock at the decision.
“That is very scary that you can go to police, have them believe you, have charges laid (and still be sued),” she said.
The decision will have a “chilling effect” across Canada, where already only 5 per cent of victims report sexual assault, Mason said.
The alleged incident happened at his residence in March 2011 at the end of an on-again, off-again relationship. She found a stain on his bed, which she said was peach lipstick from another woman, and he said was peach jam. She alleged that he then raped her. He said the sex was consensual.
Black’s decision relied on texts and emails sent from the woman to the man following the incident that he ruled appear to indicate she “felt positively about the encounter.”
Later messages turned angry, with the woman accusing the man of cheating on her, before she went to police.
The deputy judge also relied on testimony from the woman’s doctor who examined her the next day and said she did not see bruising, despite the woman telling court she was sore all over.
Experts point to a strong body of evidence that shows victims of sexual assault often don’t remember things clearly, don’t always seem upset and, when the attacker is someone who is known to them, may try to smooth things over.
Lenore Lukasik-Foss, director of the Sexual Assault Centre Hamilton Area (SACHA), said the decision is part of a concerning trend toward victim blaming and relying on stereotypes.
“There is always that worry around our judges not fully understanding the behaviour of survivors,” she said. “It’s not uncommon for them to make breakfast the next morning or email later.”
This case also “feeds into the stereotype of the jilted girlfriend,” she said. “It plays into well-worn stereotypes of revenge-seeking women.”
In truth, there are no more false reports of sexual assault than any other crime, Lukasik-Foss said. It’s the justice system that is “failing survivors.”
Hallelujah. Women in Saudi Arabia are going to drive. According to a new royal decree, the ultrareligious kingdom is ditching its long-standing ban on women drivers, granting Saudi women the right to get behind the wheel come June next year. But here’s the really extraordinary bit: not only will Saudi women be able to hit the road next summer, they will be able to drive alone.
Of course there are still a great many things Saudi women can’t do alone — or at all. Since the kingdom’s announcement, many critics were quick to point out that despite its apparent change of heart on women behind the wheel, Saudi Arabia may remain only second to Margaret Atwood’s dystopia, the Republic of Gilead (of The Handmaid’s Tale) in its unapologetic oppression of the female gender.
And they’re right. In Saudi Arabia, though a woman may soon be able to drive her family’s Honda Civic off the dealership lot, she is still prohibited from doing the following without a say-so from a male guardian: opening a bank account, getting married, getting divorced, having elective surgery, applying for a passport. Women in the kingdom aren’t allowed to socialize freely with members of the opposite sex and this one won’t surprise you: they must appear veiled in public at all times. All in all the Middle Eastern kingdom is a lousy place to be if you’re a lady, brand new Honda Civic or not.
But the Honda Civic helps a lot. For proof we need only look to history. The car has always been a driving force in feminism not merely because it gives women freedom of movement but a place in which they can move and think at the same time absent interference from home and public life. In other words, under the new law Saudi women drivers will have access to a roving room of their own, or as historian Margaret Walsh put it in an essay about American women’s increased bent for driving in the decades after the invention of the car, they will have access to “the automobile as a type of second home.”
This is no small thing. The right to be alone in a car isn’t just a win for practicality (under the new policy Saudi women will no longer have to rely on a male guardian or a paid driver to get to the grocery store). It’s psychologically liberating too because it affords women a type of privacy and solace previously only afforded to men. For anyone who believes that all a woman requires for peace and contentment is a hot bath in the evening, here’s Walsh to disabuse you of that notion: “As one farmwoman in the 1920s told an inspector from the United States Department of Agriculture who inquired why her family had bought a car rather than putting indoor plumbing into their home, ‘You can’t go to town in a bathtub.’”
You can’t go sightseeing in a bathtub either. When women began driving in large numbers in the United States in the early 20th century, they didn’t just whip over to the store to pick up some groceries. They went exploring. “It is clear that many women sought and enjoyed the independence provided by the automobile and welcomed the opportunity to travel,” writes Martin Wachs, an engineering and planning professor in an essay called “The Automobile and Gender: An Historical Perspective.”
“Many books appeared presenting accounts of women’s trips across country without men. For example, the first commercially successful book published by Emily Post, who later became a well-known authority on etiquette, was an account of her cross-country journey in an automobile.”
In fact, despite male obsession with women-can’t-drive jokes, it was a woman, not a man, who embarked on what is believed to be the first ever road trip. German engineer Karl Benz is widely credited with inventing the original motor car in the late 1800s, but it was his wife Bertha Benz who actually thought to take the thing for a good long spin. The story goes that one morning in 1888, without his knowledge or permission, Mrs. Benz drove her husband’s car roughly 90 kilometres to visit her mother in another city. Not only was this the furthest anyone at the time had ever driven a car; Benz’s surprise road trip changed the way many people saw the automobile. “She proved the car was a tool, not a toy,” writes Andrew Frankel in a story about Benz published in the Telegraph earlier this year.
Of course Saudi Arabia is a very different place than Europe or North America in the decades after the car was invented. Thanks to the country’s draconian male guardianship laws, it’s highly unlikely that come June, Saudi women will immediately take off with their husbands' convertibles and re-enact Thelma and Louise in the Arabian Desert. But the elimination of the driving ban is a major win for gender equality in the state because history shows us that when women take the wheel, all of us, men included, move forward.
Emma Teitel is a national affairs columnist.
Saudi reversal of female driving ban is a big win for gender equality: Teitel
It began as a quixotic quest.
Derek Rayside, dedicated motorist and Queens Quay condo dweller, was exasperated by the stop-and-go-traffic on what should have been a breezy trip to Costco in south Etobicoke.
The supposed 15-minute journey could take triple that time.
He believed there had to be a better, more pleasant, way to make the monthly shopping expedition with his wife and two young children. This was three years ago during a massive Queens Quay makeover that made driving even worse but brought separated bike lanes.
So, in a moment of inspiration bordering on the Seussian, Rayside made it his mission to get his family — all four of them — on a single bike. Oh, and, at the same time, transport groceries that could total $900.
“Going to Costco to do your shopping is like the ultimate task in family transportation,” says the 42-year-old. “If we can shop at Costco by bike, we can do everything else by bike too.”
Rayside is the associate director of software engineering at the University of Waterloo so he’s accustomed to tricky problem solving.
He put his puzzler to work.
He made two shopping test rides to Costco on a single bike with his son Colin, now 7, in a child’s seat. The 13.5-kilometre trip was probably the longest he had ever made on two wheels. Rayside doesn’t consider himself a cyclist; he’s more of a “not good” hockey player.
While the cargo pushed his limits physically, Rayside discovered that the trip along the Martin Goodman Trail, north on Park Lawn Rd., across Manitoba St., north again on Royal York Rd. and then west on Queen Elizabeth Blvd., was very safe.
“We knew it was within the realm of the feasible, we just needed better technology,” he says.
Rayside contacted Ronald Onderwater, who has been making triple tandem bikes in Amsterdam for about a decade. Rayside asked him to modify the design, mainly adding an extension to the middle seat so his wife, Stephanie Xie, could ride there.
The base bike cost about $4,500, but Rayside said it replaces a family car, a 2000 Toyota which he was able to ditch in 2016.
“It costs dramatically less to operate,” he says. “It costs less to buy, less to park. Everything costs less.”
The Onderwater XL Triple Tandem arrived two years ago, but it required more tinkering for Rayside to achieve his goal.
The rise up and over the Gardiner Expressway on Royal York, insignificant to a single bike, was like a mountain for a cyclist moving about 275 kilograms. The bike itself, made of steel, Rayside says, is “extremely heavy.” He guesses it weighs around 50 kilograms.
“With two children, two adults plus groceries, any little bump is a hill,” he said.
So he worked with bike technicians in Vancouver, Oakville and at Toronto’s Biseagal to develop and install an electric assist on the bike. Rayside used the best parts he could get so that motor, equal to one horsepower, cost about $3,000. So with taxes, upgrades on the some accessories and a $500 trailer, it is a $10,000 investment.
Now the family does virtually everything downtown by bike including riding to hockey camp at Moss Park Arena — with sticks strapped to the chain guard — or getting the kids to Kung Fu classes in Chinatown.
Previous to the addition of the electric assist — running strictly on the pedal power of three people — the bike’s average speed was 14 km/h. Now it can motor along at about 20 km/h.
Though, Rayside says, “the guys in Lycra still go faster than us.”
On a recent Sunday, the family cut a striking image as they made their way to and from the Etobicoke store. Colin sat up front followed by Xie, who is 5-foot-4, then the lanky 6-foot-4 Rayside with Charlotte, 3, in a baby seat behind him. Rayside pilots the bike, doing the shifting, braking and steering.
The day’s groceries totalled $611.32 — down from the previous month’s $900 — with all of it fitting in the trailer except for two Lego advent calendars.
If the family made the ride non-stop it would take about 45 to 50 minutes, same as a car on a slow day. But, says Rayside, the family cycling adventure is much more fun, with stops to play, as they pedal along the waterfront or through quiet neighbourhoods.
Rayside is a passionate supporter of bike lanes and cycling because of both the health benefits for riders and economic advantages for a city. He believes the only way to reduce traffic congestion is to provide people with alternatives to driving.
Though he calls Toronto’s improvements for the cycling community “slow baby steps” he believes it is possible for families to use pedal power for most errands and outings.
Xie, a stem cell biologist, had never previously cycled — that’s why Rayside thought it safer for them both to be on the same bike — but she has come to love it.
“As a scientist, I’m often in places where there really are no windows, sitting in front of a computer,” she says. “So it’s really nice on the weekend to get out and about, get the fresh air and do what we need to do without ever getting into a car.”
Rayside uses his tandem all year. He has access to a car but only drives it about once a month for distant trips. For work, he takes a Greyhound bus to the University of Waterloo — two hours each way — while Xie, a researcher at the Princess Margaret Cancer Center, walks or takes transit.
Rayside said his unusual ride draws stares and when stopped, strangers often approach to ask him about it or take a photo.
“The bike brings a smile to everyone’s face,” says Rayside. “It’s a great way to connect with everyone in the city.”
How do you carry $900 in Costco groceries without a car? This family uses a bike
Toronto police Const. James Forcillo will not spend the night in jail before his appeal hearing next week, after his bail was extended at a hearing Thursday — 72 hours before the suspended cop was due to surrender and be put behind bars.
The move comes after his lawyers successfully argued to have the court consider allowing new evidence to be introduced as part of Forcillo’s appeal of his attempted murder conviction in the July 2013 shooting death of Sammy Yatim.
Documents filed in support of the bail extension also state that Forcillo and his wife, Irina, divorced in July. The new bail document still includes Forcillo’s ex-wife as a surety, but names her as Irina Ratushnyak.
“She has subsequently taken her maiden name back. She and (Forcillo) remain on good terms and continue to live together and co-parent their two children,” reads an affidavit prepared by an employee Forcillo’s lawyers’ firm, Brauti Thorning Zibarras.
Instead of having to surrender into custody the night before the appeal, Forcillo’s new bail conditions state he must surrender to the court by April 2, 2018 “or before 6:00 pm on the day before the hearing of the ‘fresh evidence’ phase of the appeal whichever is earliest,” according to the bail documents.
More to come.
Bail extended for Const. James Forcillo days before he was due to be jailed
WASHINGTON—U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price resigned on Friday in the wake of the revelation that he had spent more than $400,000 of taxpayer money on private-plane flights and another $500,000 flying on military planes.
Price, a longtime critic of federal spending, is the first member of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet to leave the tumultuous and error-plagued administration. Trump had previously fired or pressured out his national security adviser, chief of staff, chief strategist and FBI director.
Trump said earlier Friday that he was “not happy” with Price and planned to make a decision later in the day about whether to fire him.
Saying he had not been “sensitive enough to my concern for the taxpayer,” Price announced on Thursday that he would stop taking charter flights and repay what he said was the cost of his own seats on the private-plane flights: $51,887.
But that did not satisfy critics, who noted that all of the costs for the flights, not just the cost of his seats, were incurred because he decided to fly private. Trump accepted his resignation on Friday afternoon, the White House announced in a statement.
Trump appointed Don Wright, director of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, as acting secretary.
Price’s precedent-breaking flights on private planes, at least 26 of them in all, were revealed in a series of articles by the website Politico. They included a flight for Price get to an exclusive resort island where he owns property — two days before he delivered remarks to a nearby medical conference.
Price also took a $25,000 flight from Washington to Philadelphia, a route that can be travelled by car or train in less than three hours and for less than $100.
Price initially insisted he had done nothing wrong, though his predecessors have traditionally taken regular commercial flights.
“This is Secretary Price, getting outside of D.C., making sure he is connected with the real American people,” Charmaine Yoest, his assistant secretary for public affairs, told the Washington Post. “Wasting four hours in an airport and having the secretary cancel his event is not a good use of taxpayer money.”
But the inspector general for his department launched an investigation, and Trump said he was displeased.
“I am not happy about it,” Trump said Wednesday. “I’m going to look at it. I am not happy about it and I let him know it.” On Friday, he called Price a “fine man” but reiterated his displeasure.
The scandal had deepened on Thursday, when Politico reported that the White House had approved more than $500,000 in travel on military jets to Asia, Africa and Europe.
Price is a former Georgia congressman. He played a significant role in the so-far-unsuccessful Republican push to replace Obamacare. He has also been involved in the effort to combat the national epidemic of opioid addiction.
Price was merely one of four Trump cabinet members under scrutiny over their flying habits.
The inspector general of the Treasury Department is investigating Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s August flight to Kentucky on a government jet for a trip that included time spent watching the solar eclipse. The inspector general is also probing Mnuchin’s alleged request to use a government jet for his honeymoon.
Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt has taken at least four non-commercial flights, costing a total of more than $58,000, the Post reported Wednesday.
And the Washington Post reported Thursday that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke billed taxpayers $12,375 for a flight from Las Vegas to his home state of Montana, on a private plane owned by oil executives, after a “motivational” speech to the Las Vegas NHL team owned by a significant donor to his previous congressional campaigns.
Trump health secretary Tom Price resigns after spending $400,000 on private-plane flights
Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders is expected to undergo a kidney transplant next week — and his wife will be the donor.
As first reported by CTV News Toronto on Friday, the chief of the largest municipal police service in Canada will receive a kidney from his wife, Stacey Saunders, on Monday.
Saunders was born with only one kidney, something he did not discover until later in life. Through routine blood work, he would later learn that the sole kidney was diseased.
While he did not initially experience health problems, he eventually had to undergo kidney dialysis at home — a nightly ritual for the past 15 months.
It’s not clear how long his recovery will take. While Saunders is recuperating, Deputy Chief James Ramer will step in as acting chief.
Saunders told CTV that he is “seeing the finish line” after experiencing significant physical, emotional and mental challenges related to his condition.
“I’m seeing being in a better place at the end of the day,” Saunders said, adding that his wife has “always been my rock.”
Saunders had not previously revealed his kidney-related health problems, but went public this week in order to encourage people to sign up for the organ donation program.
Mayor John Tory, who sits on the civilian Toronto police board, issued a statement Friday night, wishing Saunders and his wife a quick recovery and good health in the future.
“Battling kidney disease while serving as the chief of police could not have been easy. It’s a testament to the chief’s strength and determination,” Tory said. “I know that will serve him well as he goes through this transplant procedure.”
As news of the chief’s surgery spread, well wishes for a healthy recovery started pouring in over Twitter.
“A ‘perfect match’ in more ways than one,” tweeted Staff Sgt. Darla Tannahill, who is Saunders’ executive officer. “(Saunders’) wife Stacey will be his living kidney donor #LoveStory.”
Stacey Saunders told CTV she was “excited to help.”
“I was excited to give him a chance to live the better life again,” she said. “I think when you’re sick for quite a while, you normalize it … you end up normalizing that you get hooked up to a machine every night. I think that becomes your world. I was so happy to be his donor, I did put my hand up right away.”
Saunders, who is in his mid-50s, is a veteran Toronto police officer who was sworn in as chief in April 2015.
Among those passing along good wishes was Terry Coleman, a former police chief in Moose Jaw, Sask., who now works as a public safety consultant. Coleman had a kidney transplant six weeks ago.
“I had a great surgery and recovery,” Coleman said in an email. “My daughter was my donor. Please wish him well for me. I’ll be thinking of him.”
Mike McCormack, president of the Toronto Police Association, said: “Our thoughts are with the chief and Stacey as they go through this challenging time. I’ve known Mark for 30 years and his strength is undeniable. Looking forward to his return.”
Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders to undergo kidney transplant