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TOPSTORIES

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    Within days of opening her new bar in west-end Toronto, Carmen Elle had equipped the venue with what she considers a key piece of equipment: a naloxone kit.

    Elle, who is also a musician, said it took time to find a pharmacy that carried the free kits, which are used to temporarily reverse overdoses from opioids including the deadly drug fentanyl.

    But having one on hand — and making sure staff know how to use it — is crucial to ensure the venue, named Less Bar, is a safe space for all patrons, she said.

    Read more:

    Public health board members call on Ontario to declare opioid crisis state of emergency

    ER visits for opioid overdoses skyrocket

    Toronto Public Library to offer staff naloxone training for overdoses in branches

    “Any possible way to avoid somebody seriously OD-ing and possibly dying, I think it’s the responsibility of everybody who manages and runs these spaces (to do it),” Elle said. “Why wouldn’t we all just do that? It’s so easy.”

    As public health officials across Canada seek ways to tackle what they’ve called a growing opioid crisis, some in the nightlife industry are taking steps of their own.

    Several bars and music venues in Toronto now stock naloxone kits, and while the Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association does not have a policy on the opioid antidote, its president Tony Elenis said members are taking precautions nonetheless.

    The bar owners association of Quebec, meanwhile, said it was weighing a policy on naloxone kits, with a decision expected in the coming weeks. The Alliance of Beverage Licensees of British Columbia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    Lee’s Palace, a popular music venue in Toronto, got a kit earlier this year after its assistant manager, Norm Maschke, was advised to do so by a friend who is an outreach worker.

    Since then, Maschke has encouraged others to follow suit, saying the kits are “a must, not just a want.”

    “People do like to party late at night at bars and music clubs and elsewhere and it would be in our best interest to make sure that if somebody does end up in a compromising position that we can at least help them as best we can. To not do it is negligent,” he said.

    So far, there have been no fentanyl-related incidents at Lee’s, Maschke said. Still, he said, “I feel like it’s inevitable and I don’t want to just push it off and then be met with a situation and then I’m not prepared.”

    Toronto Public Health said there are no downsides to having access to the kits in bars and other venues.

    “Naloxone should be available at any location where there may be people at risk of overdose,” the agency said. “Additionally, anyone who needs access to naloxone should be allowed to carry and administer it, including people who use drugs, their friends and family, or others who may be in a position to administer this life-saving medicine.”

    At least 2,816 Canadians died from opioid-related causes in 2016 and the country’s chief public health officer predicts that number will surpass 3,000 this year.

    Naloxone is available without a prescription at pharmacies in several provinces, including Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

    The number of kits distributed through Toronto pharmacies has increased since they were made available by the province in July of last year, according to public health officials.

    Close to 1,400 were handed out by Toronto pharmacies between January and March of this year, with another 1,039 distributed by Toronto Public Health during that time, the agency said.

    One hurdle for those interested in having a kit is that pharmacies can run out, said Elle, who said it took some searching to find one.

    “It’s available but it doesn’t seem to be in great enough supply that you can just go into any Shoppers Drug Mart and grab one,” she said.

    What’s more, obtaining one can be an intimidating process, she said, noting that she received what she called strange looks from those giving out the kit. It felt awful to experience even a fraction of the stigma that people who use substances must face, she said.

    “I don’t want that to happen at Less Bar and I’m looking to create an atmosphere where that doesn’t really happen.”


    Toronto bars, music venues begin stocking naloxone kits in face of opioid crisisToronto bars, music venues begin stocking naloxone kits in face of opioid crisis

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    A battle over bike lanes is boiling over in Toronto’s east end.

    Just three weeks after the city installed separated cycle tracks on a 3.7-kilometre stretch of Woodbine Ave., more than 3,000 people have signed a petition demanding Mayor John Tory have them removed.

    Critics complain that the project has caused increased traffic congestion on Woodbine, and drivers are darting dangerously onto side streets to avoid it.

    They also charge that the city didn’t adequately consult the community about the plans, and they claim there aren’t enough cyclists on Woodbine to justify designated lanes. According to cycling counts from May 2016, daytime cyclist volume on the street was between 150 and 200 cyclists per day.

    Among the more outspoken critics is Warren Kinsella, the former federal Liberal strategist, who lives on a residential street off Woodbine. He’s likened the backlash to “a citizen’s revolt.”

    “My street’s turned into a speedway,” he told a talk radio station recently. “And the concern, obviously, is a kid might get hit or hurt, or worse. It’s really created quite a mess of the neighbourhood.”

    Proponents of the lanes say such concerns are overblown.

    “It’s a knee-jerk reaction. It’s a NIMBY response,” said Mary Ann Neary, a leader of local cycling advocacy group 32 Spokes. She’s one of nearly 2,000 people who have signed a competing petition urging city hall to keep the lanes.

    She argued that the cycle tracks have made the community safer for children, not more dangerous.

    “I now actually see kids riding their bikes on the Woodbine bike lane... They now actually have a safe option to travel in the area,” she said.

    The Woodbine lanes, which run from O’Connor Dr. to Queen St. E., were identified as a key cycling route in the city’s 10-year cycling plan council passed in June 2016.

    They’re currently the only north-south separated bike lanes east of the downtown core, and they connect to key east-west cycling routes, as well as to bike lanes proposed on Danforth Ave.

    Although the lanes aren’t packed with cyclists yet, Neary argues that, as the connectivity of Toronto’s bike infrastructure improves, they will induce demand.

    “The whole thing we’re trying to do here is to get people who want to consider an alternate way to (get around the city) to be able to see themselves actually doing it in a safe way. That sometimes takes a little time,” she said.

    The Woodbine project, as well as two much shorter lanes proposed for Corley and Norway Aves., are projected to cost an estimated $400,000 to install.

    The configuration of the lanes varies; some sections of Woodbine incorporate a barrier in the form of flexi-post bollards, while others offer no more protection than painted “sharrows” on the pavement.

    In general, car traffic has been reduced to one lane in each direction, with dedicated left-turn lanes at major intersections.

    The design was “anticipated to provide sufficient capacity for accommodating traffic-flow,” according to a report that went before council. But longer traffic cues were expected at four major intersections, which staff have attempted to mitigate by retiming signals.

    Jacquelyn Hayward Gulati, the city’s director of transportation infrastructure management, said her department is aware thousands of people oppose the bike lanes and “we’re working to mitigate their concerns.”

    She acknowledged city staff have observed congestion at the afternoon rush hour, but said some of the problem is a result of water-main work and streetcar track replacement at nearby Coxwell Ave. and Queen.

    Her department plans to conduct a traffic study on Woodbine next spring and “make additional changes, as deemed necessary,” Gulati said.

    “We’re not just slapping them down and walking away; we absolutely will monitor the situation,” said local Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon (Ward 32 Beaches-East York), a vocal proponent of the lanes.

    In response to claims that public consultation was inadequate, McMahon said the city sent out more than 35,000 flyers and held two public meetings, and she and the other councillor representing the project-area knocked on every door on Woodbine.

    “I can’t see what else we could have done besides actually sitting down for dinner with every resident,” said McMahon.

    While cities such as Montreal and New York have pursued new cycling infrastructure aggressively in recent years, there is precedent in Toronto for removing bike lanes; most famously, in 2012, under then mayor Rob Ford. the city spent about $300,000 to scrub out the Jarvis St. bike lanes. Under Ford, who campaigned against the “war on the car,” the city also removed bike lanes on Pharmacy Ave. and Birchmount Rd. in Scarborough.

    McMahon is adamant there won’t be a repeat on Woodbine; the new bike lanes are “locked and sealed into our 10-year cycling plan,” she said, which she added is key to improving bike safety and meeting the city’s climate change goals.

    “We’re not ripping anything out from the cycling plan,” said McMahon.

    “They’re going to stay put.”


    Woodbine bike lanes here to stay despite controversy, councillor saysWoodbine bike lanes here to stay despite controversy, councillor says

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    IQALUIT—There is, admittedly, rarely a perfect occasion for an unseasonable blizzard, but the storm that blew into Iqaluit with a vengeance on Saturday afternoon could not have picked a more unfortunate moment to shut down the entire town.

    The conference portion of the first-ever Nunavut Music Week had just ended on an emotional high note, with the intimate group of northern musicians and southern delegates who’d spent the previous four days sharing ideas, soaking up music and forging friendships embracing in a giant group hug after an appreciative post-mortem session that left most in the room with tears in their eyes.

    The stage was set for an explosive final night out on the town: ferocious Inuk rising star Tanya Tagaq would demolish the nearby Inuksuk High School with an early-evening performance, then everyone would move to Iqaluit’s Royal Canadian Legion hall for a second night of Nunavut Music Week showcases climaxing in a headlining performance by festival creator/curators the Jerry Cans.

    As it turns out, however, the power outage that had a couple of hours earlier briefly forced the conference’s media panel (of which this writer was a part) to conduct its discussions in semi-darkness at the Nunavut Francophone Association building was but a faint harbinger of things to come.

    Just as everyone was about to part ways and ready themselves for the fun to come, word came down that the Legion would not be opening that night due to the weather, cabs were being taken off the icy roads and Tagaq’s performance had been cancelled. A thick veil of windblown snow had descended upon the city, Frobisher Bay had been rendered invisible and a slick layer of ice underneath the drifts made walking nearly as treacherous as driving.

    Even in the north, such a whiteout in late September is uncommon. As frazzled Jerry Cans frontman Andrew Morrison put it: “This is unheard of.”

    Northerners are nothing if not resourceful, however, and within the hour it was decreed that the closing-night festivities would move to the home of genial Jerry Cans drummer Steve Rigby — a chap so generous with his time and energy that, after chauffeuring Nunavut Music Week guests around in his truck for much of the week, he still had it in him to whip around the dark, deserted streets on a snowmobile tugging a caribou-pelt-lined qamutik (or “sled,” if you prefer the less elegant expression) picking up those partygoers unwilling to risk cracking their skulls open on a walk to his place.

    Rigby’s living room became an impromptu stage, an assortment of instruments left over from his high-school days served as “gear,” disco lights were unleashed upon the ceiling, everyone piled whatever booze they had into a big bin by the door and … well … a proper rager ensued. Meanwhile, Tagaq and violinist/producer Jesse Zubot arrived with the very good news that they’d postponed their flights out of town and that their Iqaluit show would happen on Sunday instead. All was suddenly right with the world again.

    As it turns out, it was the perfect way to end Nunavut Music Week. Morrison and his partner and Jerry Cans co-vocalist Nancy Mike had said from the beginning that they wanted visitors to the conference to experience the northern way of life as much as they did the Inuktitut music they’ve been championing with their recently established Aakuluk Music label, and Nunavut certainly delivered that experience on Saturday, emphasizing in fine meteorological style just one of the many logistical barriers that make it so difficult for northern music to be heard in the rest of Canada and around the world.

    Mainly, though, the impromptu house party — which featured enjoyably loose performances by boffo local blues-rockers the Trade-Offs, most of Igloolik’s legendary Northern Haze and, of course, a thoroughly whiskey-soaked Jerry Cans, not to mention a demonstration of traditional competition throat singing between local singer/songwriter Riit and a young woman named Avery — fit the informal vibe of the small, friendly and unpretentious Nunavut Music Week gathering as a whole. “Northern hospitality” is a very real thing.

    Moreover, Saturday night’s joyous denouement demonstrated just how close-knit and resourceful this tiny yet mighty scene really is, and just how much talent has been able to thrive here against the odds.

    Five or 10 years from now, when Nunavut Music Week has grown into whatever it will grow into — and it will grow because there’s far too much world-class music being made up here for it not to grow — everyone in attendance will speak fondly of that almost-disastrous first year and the house party at “453” that saved it all.

    A musical conduit between north and south has been opened. I don’t see it closing.


    A snowstorm shut down Iqaluit, and that's when the real party started A snowstorm shut down Iqaluit, and that's when the real party started A snowstorm shut down Iqaluit, and that's when the real party started A snowstorm shut down Iqaluit, and that's when the real party startedA snowstorm shut down Iqaluit, and that's when the real party started A snowstorm shut down Iqaluit, and that's when the real party started A snowstorm shut down Iqaluit, and that's when the real party started A snowstorm shut down Iqaluit, and that's when the real party started

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    A Toronto man, who was held in immigration detention for five-and-a-half years, has launched a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against Ottawa.

    Abdirahmaan Warssama, 54, was detained at two maximum security detention facilities, first in Toronto and later in Lindsay, Ont., from May 2010 to December 2015 while waiting for his deportation to Somalia.

    Over 2,042 days behind bars, he underwent more than 70 detention reviews but each time an independent panel sent him back to jail, convinced he was likely to flee and fail to appear for his removal — until a Federal Court judge overturned his continued detention and ordered Ottawa to explore the possibility of returning Warssama to Somalia and consider alternatives to detention.

    “The sole purpose of his detention was to facilitate his removal from Canada to Somalia. Yet for the totality of his detention, removal to Somalia was never attempted,” said Warssama’s statement of claim against the federal government filed with the court Thursday. He is seeking $55 million in damages.

    “Despite the fact (that) he suffered from mental health issues, his detention was solely administrative not punitive, and he was not considered a danger to the public, yet at all material times, Warssama was detained in a maximum-security prison.”

    The claims have not been proven in court. The Attorney General of Canada, the defendant, has declined to comment because of the ongoing court process. No statement of defence has yet been filed.

    While incarcerated, Warssama alleged in the lawsuit, he was subjected to “humiliating and degrading experiences,” including being strip-searched, physically assaulted, robbed, denied warm clothing and health care, forced to endure freezing temperatures, unsanitary living conditions and lengthy and numerous lockdowns.

    Warssama came to Canada for asylum in 1989 but the claim was denied in the same year. He was allowed to stay in Canada on humanitarian grounds — partially due to his diagnosis with post-traumatic stress disorder. However, he kept moving around and never obtained his permanent residence status.

    In 2005 and 2006, he was arrested and charged with assault, failing to appear and uttering threats, for which he received a suspended sentence and 18 months’ probation, as well as a day in jail and 87 days pre-sentence custody. Since he’s neither a permanent resident nor citizen, his criminality made him inadmissible to Canada.

    Warssama’s lawyer, Subodh Bharati, said the Canada Border Services Agency had a policy of not forcibly removing people to Somalia and would only deport someone to African country if the person was willing to sign a “voluntary statutory declaration” indicating one’s genuine desire to return.

    “He is not the same person he used to. He is angry and upset . . . He still can’t sleep properly. When he is outside, he feels people are following him,” Bharati said in an interview.

    In his statement of claim, Warssama said his “unlawful” detention was the result of malicious prosecution by the border agency and negligence by the detention review tribunal that was under the Immigration and Refugee Board.

    “The Immigration and Refugee Board ignored evidence and used detention as a means to punish the plaintiff for not signing what it knew or ought to have known was a false statutory declaration,” according to the lawsuit.

    “The infringement of (Warssama’s) liberty became arbitrary and contrary to the principle of fundamental justice that prohibits limitations that are not related to the legislation’s purpose.”

    Due to repeated jail lockdowns, Warssama claimed in his lawsuit, he was unable to contact his family and lawyer or receive visitors. On two occasions — on May 20, 2014 and August 10, 2014 — he was assaulted by other inmates causing him injury and the loss of two teeth, the lawsuit claimed.

    Warssama, who now lives with his sister, said he still suffers from physical and psychological problems: headaches, nightmares, dizziness, shock, anxiety, depression, emotional trauma, chronic pain, insomnia and weakness.

    “I still have bad dreams from the detention. It’s hard to start your life again. You just can’t get your life back,” he told the Star in an interview. Warssama is still without status pending removal and must report to the border agency every three weeks.

    He has applied for permanent resident status based on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, as well as an assessment of the risk he could face if removed to Somalia. Both decisions are pending.


    Asylum-seeker sues federal government over ‘humiliating’ 5-year imprisonmentAsylum-seeker sues federal government over ‘humiliating’ 5-year imprisonment

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    BRANCHBURG, N.J.—President Donald Trump on Sunday scoffed at “politically motivated ingrates” who had questioned his administration’s commitment to rebuilding Puerto Rico after a pulverizing hurricane and said the federal government had done “a great job with the almost impossible situation.”

    The tweets, from a president ensconced in his New Jersey golf club for the weekend and set to attend an international golf competition near New York City before returning to the White House, sought to defend Washington’s attentiveness to recovery efforts on a U.S. territory in dire straits almost two weeks after Hurricane Maria struck.

    San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz on Friday accused the Trump administration of “killing us with the inefficiency” after the storm. She begged the president, who is set to visit Puerto Rico on Tuesday, to “make sure somebody is in charge that is up to the task of saving lives,” and appealed for help “to save us from dying.”

    Cruz said Sunday that “there’s only one goal, and it’s saving lives,” adding that all she did “was ask for help.”

    “I know the good heart of the American people and I know that when a mayday sound goes off, they come to the rescue,” she said in a television interview.

    Read more:

    ‘They want everything to be done for them’: Trump lashes out at desperate Puerto Rico officials

    ‘He’s a racist president’: Mainland Puerto Ricans are furious over Donald Trump’s debt talk amid hurricane crisis

    Trump’s weekend tweets have shown him to be contemptuous of any complaints about a laggard U.S. response to the natural disaster that has imperiled the island’s future. He has repeatedly blamed the press for what he sees as unfair coverage of the situation on the ground, where power is out and many people are without food, water and fuel.

    “We have done a great job with the almost impossible situation in Puerto Rico. Outside of the Fake News or politically motivated ingrates ... people are now starting to recognize the amazing work” done by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the military, the president tweeted.

    The day before, Trump had lashed out at Cruz, deriding “poor leadership ability” by her and others in Puerto Rico “who are not able to get their workers to help.”

    He added, without elaboration: “They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort.”

    In times of disasters, leaders often shelve partisan differences. But Trump has a penchant for punching back against critics, whatever the circumstances.

    “When the president gets attack, he attacks back,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said, who adding that the mayor’s comments were “unfair, given what the federal government has done.”

    But to Sen. Bernie Sanders, Trump’s tweets were “unspeakable.”

    He characterized the president as “speaking from his fancy golf club, playing golf with his billionaire friends, attacking the mayor of San Juan, who is struggling” to bring electricity, food, water and gas to the island. “I don’t know what world Trump is living in.”

    Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who challenged Trump for the GOP presidential nomination last year, said “when people are in the middle of the disaster, you don’t start trying to criticizing them. I just — I don’t know what to say.”

    The Trump administration said it had more than 10,000 federal officials on the ground, and that urban search and rescue teams have covered the entire island, searching more than 2,649 structures. Fifty-nine hospitals are partially operational, and 45 per cent of customers have access to drinking water, officials said. Stores are also opening, with nearly half of grocery and big box stores, and more than 60 per cent of retail gas stations open for business.

    FEMA chief Brock Long said the agency has worked to fix roads, establish emergency power and deliver fuel to hospitals. He said telecommunications are available to about one-third of the island.

    “Oh, I believe the Puerto Ricans are pulling their weight. I mean, I think they’re doing what they can,” he said.

    Trump’s administration has tried in recent days to combat the perception that he failed to quickly grasp the magnitude of Maria’s destruction and has given the U.S. commonwealth less attention than he’d bestowed on Texas, Louisiana and Florida after they were hit by hurricanes.

    “The bottom line is at least for the first week and a half the effort has been slow-footed, disorganized, and not adequate,” Sen. Chuck Schumer said.

    He urged Trump “to stop calling names, stop downgrading the motives of people who are calling for help, but roll up his sleeves and get to work.”

    Cruz was on ABC’s This Week, Long and Mnuchin spoke on NBC’s Meet the Press, Sanders was on CNN’s State of the Union and Schumer appeared on CBS’ Face the Nation.


    Trump calls his Puerto Rico critics ‘ingrates’Trump calls his Puerto Rico critics ‘ingrates’

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    Two men are dead following an early Sunday morning shooting in the Port Lands.

    Toronto police rushed to a parking lot outside Rebel nightclub, near Cherry and Polson Sts., around 3:10 a.m. for reports of a shooting.

    When emergency services arrived, they found two men in their 20s with gunshot wounds.

    Paramedics said one man was pronounced dead on scene. The second victim was rushed to a local hospital in life-threatening condition, where he later died from his injuries. Both men are believed to have been patrons of the nightclub.

    “There was an altercation that occurred in the parking lot of Rebel nightclub, and we believe that altercation is what led to the shooting,” said Detective Kathy Stephenson from Toronto’s homicide unit.

    She said a black vehicle was seen speeding away from the scene and last observed heading north on the Don Valley Parkway. No suspect information is available at this time, but Stephenson said they are speaking to witnesses and reviewing security footage provided by the nightclub.

    Forensics are on scene. Anyone who might have information about the shooting is encouraged to speak to police.


    Two men dead after shooting outside Rebel nightclub in the Port LandsTwo men dead after shooting outside Rebel nightclub in the Port Lands

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    OXBOW, SASK.—The two-storey cedar home where Shirley Galloway lives with her family was a solitary dot on the Saskatchewan prairie when they moved here 21 years ago.

    The view from the front porch, once a landscape of rolling hills, horse pastures and lush river valley, has been transformed.

    Today, Oxbow is surrounded by bobbing, black steel pump jacks and flare stacks burning off hydrogen sulphide and other dangerous gases that rise with the oil and trail off in ribbons of flame over green fields.

    Late in the afternoon of Oct. 30, 2012, Galloway, a 53-year-old registered nurse, heard screams from the front yard.

    Galloway dashed out to find a teenage family member vomiting and the air thick with the rotten-egg smell of sour gas — hydrogen sulphide (H2S).

    Galloway, who trains oil workers to survive these same events, knew what to do.

    She pulled the teen inside, grabbed an air monitor and held it out the door. The reading was off the dial — more than 100 parts per million — a level immediately dangerous to human health.

    Saskatchewan’s oil boom has brought jobs for many. For others, it has brought fear, injury and one death.

    The number of “fracked” wells in the Bakken shale oilfield alone increased from 75 in 2004 to nearly 3,000 in 2013, according to a 2016 paper by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. The promise of prosperity, similar to its southern neighbour North Dakota’s Bakken boom, has been embraced by a province struggling to diversify its economy.

    A national investigation by the Toronto Star, the National Observer, Global News and journalism schools at Regina, Concordia, Ryerson and UBC has uncovered failures by industry and government to respond to — and warn the public about — the serious and sometimes deadly threat of H2S gas wafting across Saskatchewan.

    Read more:There’s no sense in speaking up despite deadly gas risks

    Documents obtained through freedom-of-information requests and from whistleblowers — internal correspondence, meeting minutes, presentations and inspection reports — disclose findings of failures in performance by oil and gas companies, including serious infractions, failed safety audits, daily H2S readings beyond provincial air quality standards and a death in 2014.

    Yet regulatory standards remain largely unchanged and H2S incidents and risks remain hidden from the public.

    The teen overcome in Galloway’s yard eventually recovered but missed school for several days with nausea and headaches.

    H2S can be an insidious killer.

    Heavier than air, it tends to settle in ravines and valleys.

    Just above the level Galloway’s monitor detected — 100 parts per million — H2S causes olfactory paralysis, leaving a victim unable to detect the rotten-egg smell. Continued exposure at that level may cause death within 48 hours.

    A person exposed to a highly concentrated plume of the gas — at 1,000 parts per million — may die rapidly from respiratory paralysis, or over the course of days, from an inflammatory reaction in the lungs.

    Victims effectively suffocate.

    The government issued no public warning after Galloway reported the plume at her home because “there was no evidence that this was a widespread failure.” But inside government and industry offices, documents indicate the seriousness of H2S issues that led to years of meetings, audits and proposed regulatory reforms.

    On April 7, 2014, government and industry officials deliberated about releasing data that showed H2S “hotspots” across southeastern Saskatchewan.

    “Government may be accused of hiding information,” the notes read. “Public will want to know: 1. What are the areas? 2. How is it managed? 3. How is the government making sure it’s managed?” one unnamed official told the meeting. “Are we creating a risk by not releasing this data immediately?”

    Despite acknowledging “significant” public health risks from H2S, at least some officials present expressed concern about “sensitivity in this data (because) there are residents living in these areas.”

    No release followed.

    Three weeks later, government-proposed fines for emission breaches — up to $1 million in penalties — were rejected by two major industry groups. In a letter to the ministry dated April 29, 2014, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) and Explorers and Producers Association of Canada (EPAC) called the proposed penalties “unsuitable.”

    A former ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of losinghis current job in the industry, says “almost every amendment was being rejected.”

    EPAC officials declined comment.

    Terry Abel, CAPP’s spokesperson, said the letter was intended to explain that, “in some cases, fines aren’t appropriate at all … If there’s an unsafe operation, it should be shut down. It shouldn’t be operating. That’s the best way to ensure the public safety is protected.”

    The proposed fines were dropped.

    The next month, Michael Bunz, a 38-year-old salesman supplying chemicals to oil and gas facilities, lay in a shack 80 kilometres from the Galloway house, dead after being exposed to H2S.

    The official incident report filed with the Ministry of the Economy, which regulates Saskatchewan’s oilfields, makes no mention of Bunz’s death.

    These regulators “are really thinking about the economic health of the province,” says Emily Eaton, a professor at the University of Regina who has studied the relationship between the oil industry and the government. Eaton is a member of the Corporate Mapping Project.

    A shift in 2012 — from the Ministry of Energy and Resources to a new Ministry of the Economy tasked with regulating natural resource extraction and promoting economic development — changed the ministry’s role from watchdog to partner, she says.

    “They’re thinking about returns on investment … The industry should really be regulated by those that have the interests of the environment first.”

    Ministry field staff raised this concern at a meeting on July 1, 2015, between government and industry.

    “The role of the regulator needs to be adjusted,” the meeting’s minutes read. “The regulators are acting as consultants in some situations. The role of the regulator is to enforce the rules and if the rules are clear and if enforcement is consistent and clear then, ‘cultural’ changes can be made.”

    In its statement, the ministry rejects criticisms of conflict of interest or lax enforcement.

    “Within the Ministry of the Economy, the petroleum and natural gas division carries out industry regulation,” wrote the department’s spokeswoman, Deb Young. “It is not involved in investment attraction, royalty and tax assessment and land sales. It is solely focused on well, facility and pipeline regulation.”

    That regulation has not included fines or prosecutions.

    The ministry has not issued a single fine against any industry company “for well over a decade,” Doug MacKnight, assistant deputy minister responsible for petroleum and natural gas, said in an interview.

    “Generally, we don’t have to resort to that,” he said. “It’s usually just a notice to the operator to bring themselves into compliance.”

    Prosecutions have also not been part of the ministry’s enforcement practices because non-compliance was dealt with “through other enforcement actions,” reads the ministry’s statement.

    Other enforcement actions include increased inspections and staff, high-tech equipment for detecting emissions and a $69-million inspection reporting database (which can’t be accessed by the public).

    Still, complaints of illness from residents and workers continue.

    “I will sometimes get faint, like I will fall over and I have to find a seat quickly,” says Lori Erhardt, a United Church minister and musician living near Oxbow who believes her chronic illness is related toemissions.

    “I have had a variety of diagnoses, most of them end with “i-t-i-s,” which means inflammation … If something gets inflamed, if it’s blood vesicles, you feel it through your body.”

    Among the five years’ worth of documents obtained by this investigation is an April 2012 PowerPoint presentation to CAPP members by the director of the province’s petroleum and natural gas division. It includes a map of southeastern Saskatchewan showing a bloom of red and orange circles, labelled “critical sour gas locations.”

    Sources say ministry staff pushed to make the data public but senior government officials said “there’s no goddamn way that is going to be released,” according to the former ministry source.

    “There’s an institutional reluctance to make this information public,” he said. “The public should be able to see all the information that legislators have identified as public information such as sour gas and inspection reports.”

    The ministry statement says the map was never approved for release because some data was out of date, not comprehensive and “could provide the public and industry with a false understanding of risk associated with a particular well or facility.”


    After the Galloway incident, the ministry inspected 11 oil and gas facilities. All failed “with serious infractions,” including releasing H2S at lethal levels “that may be exceeding 150,000 (parts per million),” Brad Herald, CAPP’s Saskatchewan operations manager, wrote to the board of governors in December 2012.

    Those levels are 150 times the amount that could cause instant death.

    Among the causes: “It is believed that inadequate training on the installation and operation of equipment is … contributing to the air quality issues.”

    CAPP’s Abel said in an interview the “unsafe” facilities responsible for those breaches should not have been operating.

    “They should have been shut down,” he said. “When you follow the rules, processing and production of sour gas is absolutely safe. If you don’t follow the rules, it can pose a health risk. So ultimately, those operators at those facilities were responsible.”

    Neither CAPP nor its industry partners made the health risks public. And no ministry fines or prosecutions followed.

    Internally, CAPP quickly mobilized to develop a public relations and damage control plan:

    “There are growing public concerns regarding the air quality issues in southeast Saskatchewan,” Herald wrote, noting a petition and a Facebook page.

    “The Ministry fields one to two public complaints concerning odours per week and the issue is garnering increasing political attention . . . This has the potential to become a broader industry reputation/social license concern and warrants immediate attention by operators in the region . . . Communications is preparing key messages in the event that there is media profile.”

    CAPP received a warning the next month after consulting a scientist with expertise on managing toxic substances, internal emails show. The scientist expressed disappointment noting that H2S failures were “so easy to avoid.”

    The scientist urged the industry lobby group to develop and implement a new code of practice to control dangerous emissions and get ahead of the problem by publicly denouncing unacceptable practices. The scientist also recommended that the industry group pressure the province to step up inspections.

    The ministry, in meetings with industry, proposed similar reforms.

    In a letter sent in March 2013 then-energy minister Tim McMillan — now president and CEO of CAPP — warned companies to meet “compliance obligations” or face “escalated enforcement, penalty and/or prosecution.”

    Ministry and industry met four times between 2012 and 2014 to plot strategy, including emergency planning zones, a public communications document, a code of practice and a licensing regime for high-risk, single-well batteries.

    Those plans were never adopted, a ministry statement confirms.

    “Instead, the Ministry chose to take a risk-based approach to managing the sour gas issue that included increased field inspections and improved data collection.” Eighteen wells that had been venting sour gas were ordered to be “shut-in” in 2012/2013.

    From 2013 to the summer of 2014, the ministry began implementing “an aggressive inspection and enforcement schedule to reduce sour gas emission” that included suspension orders against 30 facilities owing to “H2S management issues,” the statement reads.

    During that effort, H2S would claim its most high-profile victim in Saskatchewan.


    Michael Bunz, a salesman for Nalco Champion, died on May 22, 2014, while taking samples in a shed located in a provincial park between Carlyle and Kipling. A valve on the tank broke and oil, water and H2S spewed into his face.

    An incident report submitted by the tank’s owner, Harvest Operations Corp., states simply: “Spill occurred as a result of a failed valve.”

    Nowhere does it mention Bunz’s death.

    Instead, his death is marked by a gravestone in a small cemetery near Wawota, where the father of two young daughters lived a few doors away from his parents, Dianne and Allan.

    The black, polished stone, with an image of Bunz wearing his Saskatchewan Roughriders jersey and hat, calls him “Bunzy” and reads: “In loving memory of Emma and Olivia’s Daddy.”

    “He didn’t really talk about those dangers,” Dianne says. “We knew what it’s like to work in the oil industry. My husband did for 20 years. We knew about H2S but I wasn’t aware that he was going on site and doing the testing.”

    The summer before he died, Allan drove his son to the Nalco office to quit. Michael’s brother-in-law, who had worked there, had left and “things had been pretty tough,” Michael said, marked by long days and heavy workload.

    “He was going to hand his company truck in, and his boss was there … he talked (Michael) out of it,” Allan says. “This company wanted him because he never ever phoned in sick or anything. He’d just go to work. And they offered him more money, so he stayed.”

    Nalco Champion is facing three charges under the province’s occupational health and safety legislation for failing to provide Bunz with a respirator and to ensure he entered a dangerous situation with a second worker. A conviction would result in a fine.

    The family says they were told by Nalco that the concentration of H2S in the fluids was estimated at 40,000 parts per million, more than enough to bring near-instant death.

    The company sent reporters a written statement, declining further comment.

    “We remain deeply saddened by the loss of our colleague, Michael Bunz. The safety of our associates, customers and communities is vitally important, and we remain committed to our robust safety policies, protocols and training programs, which include those related to hydrogen sulfide,” it reads.

    Allan, who spent most of his working life in the oil industry, says he learned more about H2S protection when he worked on a pig farm.

    “Every person had to wear an H2S monitor. And I’m talking about the pig industry,” he says. “To me, they were protecting us … more at this simple small hog operation in Saskatchewan than the oil industry ever did the entire time I was working out there.”

    The couple reviewed the records documenting years of discussions between government and industry about public health risks and failed audits that were never made public. The couple called it “devastating.”

    “I go to work every day and I drive down the highway and I talk to my son sitting beside me,” says Allan. “I say to him “tough day there, son” and I tell him how I feel . . . I feel him sitting there beside me.”


    How often H2S incidents happen or happened in Saskatchewan remains a mystery.

    Officially, ministry officials count one death and five “documented incidents where a member of the public was exposed to unsafe levels of sour gas near a well or facility site.”

    None of them triggered a public statement by the government.

    “There was no need for public notification since the incident was quickly dealt with at the site,” reads the ministry statement.

    But after dozens of interviews it is clear that H2S incidents involving residents are more common but go unreported or are not recorded properly. This is also true for workers in the oilfield.

    Only months after Bunz died, Trina Hansen, an oilfield worker and part-time voice actress, was clearing a pipeline near Carlyle, Sask.

    “I could have died,” she says. “It’s almost like you could feel like a heavy air hit your face. It’s a really weird feeling. Your first reaction is to inhale. When it hits your face, you breathe it in. It’s the weirdest thing. You don’t think to hold your breath. It happens so fast. I stumbled backwards. I was so shocked.”

    Disoriented, Hansen got back in her truck and drove a couple of kilometres until she noticed she was losing her peripheral vision.

    “There were white sparkles, iridescent, swirly, super-shiny and bright. I jumped out and started feeling nauseous and couldn’t breathe very well. I was trying to catch my breath and dry heaving. My head started pounding.”

    Hansen, suffering debilitating headaches, nausea and sickness, lost her voice for two weeks.

    “This happened three years ago and I still have a hard time catching my breath if I talk too fast. I’m very short of breath. I’ve never in my life felt like that. It was horrible.”

    Her voice has changed for good — it is far deeper and lower than before.

    “I do a cartoon on APTN network and they said my voice totally changed. It changed two octaves pretty much. It used to be high and now it cuts out.”

    Hansen never reported the incident, fearing she would lose her job.

    “Nobody wants to say anything. We know it’s bad and dangerous. But no one wants to raise a fuss. And being a woman and trying to prove yourself out there, I never claimed WCB (Workers Compensation Board). The economy went down and I have to pay off debt with my trucking money.”


    Four months after Bunz’s death, a secret ministry report listed 161 facilities “that may be in violation of (the ministry’s) sour gas emission control.”

    The catch: “time and resources required to investigate and verify violations would take all available field officers over a year.”

    In 2014, inspections of 60 suspicious wells in 2014 turned up 36 — more than half — that were leaking so badly they had to be shut down.

    Another audit found 11 out of 12 facilities failed inspection “due to H2S venting” and found 29 locations that are too close to facilities with high levels of H2S concentrations. Of the 1,352 active sour gas facilities, only 421 — 31 per cent — had “proper emission control systems.”

    “Almost every site had improper gas measurement,” the report reads. “Discovered major contamination at two facilities as a result of spill which were not reported” to the ministry.

    The ministry believes that the H2S issue is under control, saying air quality standards are being met and that inspections confirm that companies’ sour gas management practices have improved. Today 27 full-time inspectors are responsible for the province’s 126,000 wells and its estimated 118,000 kilometres of pipelines and flowlines, operating with a budget of $3.9 million.

    In 2016-17, ministry staff inspected 18,340 wells, facilities and pipelines.

    Last month, a team of researchers from Harvard and Northeastern Universities collected data in collaboration with this investigation using the same instruments employed by ministry inspectors to detect emissions invisible to the naked eye.

    “In my experience measuring oil and gas activities in Texas, what struck me was that about a third of the sites we looked at had what we believed to be fugitive emissions and the high density of pump jacks,” says Lourdes Vera, a doctoral student in environmental sociology at Northeastern University.

    Drew Michanowicz, a post-doctoral researcher at Harvard University’s School of Public Health who led the survey in Saskatchewan, said about one in five of the facilities they visited showed black smoke rising from the flaring stacks of production facilities.

    “If there is black smoke, there is particulate matter that if inhaled is certainly associated with human health effects,” he said. “If sources of these air pollutants are constantly impacting individuals where they live, work and play, there is the worry that they are experiencing health effects.”

    In interviews with landowners and records in the government database, this investigation has found recent H2S accidents, including three people who say they were sickened by H2S clouds near their homes in the past year. One said they required hospitalization after a near-fatal incident.

    In January, more than four years after the H2S incident in Galloway’s front yard, she and her husband were driving home when they encountered a plume of what she believes was H2S gas.

    She fell ill and stayed home for three days.

    “I’ve had arrhythmias, really wicked headaches … I’ve had bouts of nausea. I wake up at night and have heart palpitations.”

    Galloway wrote to public officials demanding a response.

    There were no consequences or fines as a result. And no official report of an incident anywhere near the Galloway property that day was filed.

    That, says Galloway, is just the way it works in Saskatchewan.

    “As a person living in the middle of the oilfield, you have no protection. The government doesn’t care. Your MLA doesn’t care. The oil companies don’t care.”

    Writers/reporters

    Robert Cribb, The Toronto Star

    Patti Sonntag, Michener Fellow

    P.W. Elliott, University of Regina

    Elizabeth McSheffrey, The National Observer

    Data and documentation journalist

    Michael Wrobel, Concordia University

    Researchers

    Jennifer Ackerman, University of Regina

    Madina Azizi, University of Regina

    Janelle Blakley, University of Regina

    Cory Coleman, University of Regina

    Mike De Souza, The National Observer

    Josh Diaz, University of Regina

    Brenna Engel, University of Regina

    Matthew Gilmour, Concordia University

    Celine Grimard, University of Regina

    Jared Gottselig, University of Regina

    Lauren Kaljur ,University of British Columbia

    Rebbeca Marroquin, University of Regina

    Matthew Parizot, Concordia University

    Katie Doke Sawatzky, University of Regina

    Michaela Solomon, University of Regina

    Kyrsten Stringer, University of Regina

    Caitlin Taylor, University of Regina

    Steph Wechsler, Ryerson University

    Faculty Supervisors

    P.W. Elliott, University of Regina

    Trevor Grant, University of Regina

    Series Producer

    Patti Sonntag, Michener Fellow, based at Concordia University

    Institutional Credits

    Concordia University, Department of Journalism

    Ryerson University, School of Journalism

    University of British Columbia, Graduate School of Journalism

    University of Regina, School of Journalism

    Global News

    The Michener Awards Foundation

    Corporate Mapping Project

    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

    Parkland Institute

    University of Victoria

    Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council

    Watch the televised investigation: Sunday and Monday on Global National at 5:30 CT/MT/PT & 6:30 ET/AT. Robert Cribb can be reached at rcribb@thestar.ca


    That rotten stench in the air? It’s the smell of deadly gas and secrecyThat rotten stench in the air? It’s the smell of deadly gas and secrecyThat rotten stench in the air? It’s the smell of deadly gas and secrecyThat rotten stench in the air? It’s the smell of deadly gas and secrecy

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    Police and politicians urged Canadians to be vigilant, but called for calm and unity in the wake of a terrorist attack in Edmonton that injured five and led to the arrest of a 30-year-suspect who had previously been investigated for espousing extremist views.

    It is the second major terrorist attack in Canada this year, following January’s shooting at a mosque in Quebec City that killed six and injured 19.

    CBC News identified the Edmonton suspect on Sunday as Abdulahi Hasan Sharif. Police and federal officials would only confirm that the man in custody is a 30-year-old refugee from Somalia and had been interviewed by the RCMP’s Integrated National Security Enforcement Team in 2015. But RCMP Assistant Commissioner Marlin Degrand said there had been insufficient evidence to charge him or issue a peace bond at the time and he was not considered a national security threat.

    The man is now facing terrorism charges and five counts of attempted murder. Police also confirmed that the black flag of Daesh was found in the suspect’s car Saturday, but he is believed to have acted alone. According to Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, the accused was on a police watch list, and yet when Edmonton police Chief Rod Knecht was asked if there had been any warning of an impending attack, he responded, “absolutely not.”

    Earlier Sunday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement calling the crime “another example of the hate that we must remain ever vigilant against.”

    “We cannot — and will not — let violent extremism take root in our communities. We know that Canada’s strength comes from our diversity, and we will not be cowed by those who seek to divide us or promote fear,” he said.

    Read more:

    A list of Canada’s terror incidents and attacks

    An Edmonton police officer, Const. Mike Chernyk, was among the wounded and was praised for his actions, along with other first responders who arrested the suspect just after midnight. Chernyk was released from hospital hours after the attack, despite suffering stab wounds to his face and body. Two of the four injured pedestrians were also back at home Sunday.

    Chernyk was on a routine shift controlling traffic outside an Edmonton Eskimos football game near Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday night when the attack began. It was a “military appreciation night” where Canada’s chief of defence staff, Gen. Jonathan Vance, had conducted the pre-game coin flip and two CF-18 fighter jets soared overhead before the kickoff. According to The Canadian Press, more than 800 Boy Scouts were expected at the game and many were planning to camp out on the field afterward.

    Around 8:15 p.m. local time, a Chevy Malibu crashed through a traffic barrier and struck Chernyk. Knecht said the car approached “suddenly, without notice, and at a high rate of speed,” sending the officer flying five metres into the air.

    The suspect then got out of the car, ran to the fallen constable and repeatedly stabbed him. Grainy video footage of the crime was released Sunday and appears to show Chernyk struggling with the man, then following him as he flees.

    Found in the car were documents that identified the suspect, along with the distinctive black flag that the group Daesh erected over its so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in 2014.

    A few hours later, a U-Haul van was stopped at a police checkpoint north of Edmonton’s downtown. An officer, who asked the driver for his licence, noted that the name was close to that of the registered owner of the white Malibu, Knecht said. The van then sped off, while the officer returned to his cruiser to call for backup.

    Knecht told journalists it is “always a difficult decision to make — to chase a vehicle or let it go,” but, fearing that the U-Haul would be used as a weapon, police pursued the van. During the chase, the four pedestrians were hit. Knecht said the suspect intentionally swerved to hit pedestrians at crosswalks and in alleyways.

    Using a vehicle as a weapon is not uncommon for violent extremists — from multiple attacks in Europe by suspected Daesh adherents, to an alleged white supremacist extremist in Charolettesville, Va.

    As is often the case following terror attacks, the viciousness of the crime quickly gave way to a vicious discourse on social media — peaking when reports emerged that the suspect was a refugee claimant. (Later reports clarified that he was a refugee.)

    The National Council of Canadian Muslims quickly condemned the “senseless” attacks.

    Executive director Ihsaan Gardee said that such incidents call for solidarity.

    “The issue of backlash, you can’t help but think about, of course, but first and foremost our thoughts are with the victims and families,” he said. “The community stands shoulder to shoulder with all Canadians in condemning this horrific kind of act, regardless of who perpetrates them. We need to look at this together and stand united.”

    Alberta Premier Rachel Notley vowed to do all in her power to stop terrorism in its tracks. “Freedom and liberty are core to who we are as Albertans, and that core can never be divided by those who know only fear, violence and hatred,” she told media Sunday morning.

    Alexandra Bain, an associate professor of religious studies at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, N.B., and the executive director of Hayat Canada Family Support, lamented the fact that violent extremism “seems to be a hallmark of the modern world.”

    Before leading Hayat, a family counselling group that offers programs for relatives and friends of those involved in violent extremism, Bain researched extremism by following 1,500 jihadist Twitter accounts and conducting lengthy interviews with 30 members of Daesh and Al Qaeda affiliates fighting in Syria, as well as another 30 online jihadist sympathizers.

    But Bain notes that, “when you look at the statistics, Canada has far more to worry about (with) violent extremists from the far right, such as white supremacists or neo-Nazis” than with groups like Daesh, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

    She said Canada remains unique, compared to Europe, which has suffered multiple attacks in the past few years and where thousands of young Muslims succumbed to Daesh propaganda.

    “Canadian Muslims, much like their counterparts in the U.S., have a much different experience than their fellow European Muslims. Muslim immigrants to Europe usually come from countries that have been previously colonized. Their status as second-generation immigrants has resulted in their being marginalized, and they suffer from a great deal of discrimination,” Bain said.

    “In Canada, many of the young people who are recruited or influenced by groups such as ISIS are often either converts to Islam … or second-generation Muslims who have rejected their parents’ traditional Islam. A great number, if not most, of these young people have suffered from some form of mental illness.”


    Suspect in Edmonton attack faces terrorism, attempted murder charges Suspect in Edmonton attack faces terrorism, attempted murder charges Suspect in Edmonton attack faces terrorism, attempted murder chargesSuspect in Edmonton attack faces terrorism, attempted murder charges Suspect in Edmonton attack faces terrorism, attempted murder charges Suspect in Edmonton attack faces terrorism, attempted murder charges

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    In the end, as new federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was mobbed onstage after his victory speech Sunday, even the woman in her Charlie Angus kerchief was bopping happily to Bunji Garlin’s throbbing “Differentology.”

    There had seemed, even before the results were announced, something inevitable about the 38-year-old Ontario MPP’s triumph to lead a party desperate, once again, for a fresh start.

    As the affable Angus joked with journalists prior to the outcome about his true-blue Cobalt roots and cheap suits, there was more resignation than mirth in his tone.

    Already, well before the vote was announced, an organizer for Guy Caron had confided to reporters that the Quebec MP would probably come fourth and there would likely be a leader before day’s end.

    Read more:

    5 key challenges for Jagmeet Singh

    Heckler at NDP Jagmeet Singh event demonstrates why minorities are deterred from politics, prof says

    Why Jagmeet Singh towers over his NDP rivals: Cohn

    Afterwards, as a couple in Niki Ashton T-shirts walked away from the Westin Harbour Castle convention centre, they said they’d pretty much expected Singh’s resounding first-ballot victory.

    Singh’s organization and appeal to the droves of members he recruited to the party had made the outcome clear to backers of the three MPs he bested.

    Besides, he had a distinct style and that rare quality of charisma that draws both men and women to him.

    If the party wanted an antithesis to the dowdiness, however bright he may be, of former leader Thomas Mulcair, their choice was clear.

    All three of Singh’s challengers were serviceable.

    As they stood onstage beside him, Singh — bouncing like an athlete on the balls of his feet, brandishing the microphone as if he were born to the spotlight — praised the virtues they brought to the campaign.

    Ashton had inspired even the women in his own campaign, Singh said. She was “unapologetically progressive” while championing action on climate change and unstable work.

    Angus was an example in “grassroots organizing” and had helped reset the party’s foundation.

    Caron was an example of the NDP’s short-lived success in Quebec — the route that had once seemed the path to government and is once again an uphill battle.

    But for all those factors, Singh was the only candidate who offered significant change, a fresh face and the potential for urban growth in new cultural communities.

    If the art of political success is the framing of a leader through a narrative, Singh told one Sunday that should make Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — a man former MP Olivia Chow called “Mr. Sunny Ways” — take notice.

    He spoke of the many times he’d been stopped by police because his skin is brown, his hair is long and he has “a funny name.”

    He told of how, when his father fell seriously ill, he became the sole income earner in his family, how he fed and clothed his younger brother and got him to school.

    He knows first-hand the never-ending stress of precarious financial circumstances in which so many Canadians find themselves in the current economy, Singh said.

    “We were lucky to find our way out of that precarious situation. But many people don’t.”

    Vancouver East MP Jenny Kwan all but leaped out of her shoes when the result was announced.

    “I am super excited,” she said. All the candidates did well, she said, but Singh “is going to lead a movement to continue to build on the strength of what he brought to the table” — making the NDP appealing to the young and diverse.

    It appeared Sunday the NDP had worked its way through a long process of coming to terms with both the false dawn of 2011, the grief of Jack Layton’s death and the disappointment of the 2015 result under Mulcair.

    In fact, the mentions of Mulcair — busy doing other things — were few and dutiful, as if delegates just wanted his era behind them.

    On Sunday, the party turned a page.

    Before he left the stage, Singh announced that his campaign to become the next prime minister of Canada had officially started.

    Then he let Bunji Garlin’s cocksure refrain do the talking while his thrilled supporters danced so vigorously the stage bounced.

    “We ready! We ready!”

    “Yeah we ready —

    “Ready, ready, ready, ready, ready!”


    What defeated NDP leadership candidates brought to the raceWhat defeated NDP leadership candidates brought to the race

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    The Toronto District School Board said it will change portions of a guidebook that uses a definition of Islamophobia that a Jewish community group has called “overly broad.”

    The guidebook defines Islamophobia, in part, as “fear, prejudice, hatred or dislike directed against Islam or Muslims, or towards Islamic politics or culture.” B’nai Brith Canada had complained earlier Monday that the reference to “politics” could lead to students or staff being punished for expressing dislike for the Republic of Iran’s persecution of LGBTQ people or restrictions placed on women in Saudi Arabia.

    Hours later, TDSB chairperson Robin Pilkey said in a letter to the group that the updated guide will reflect the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s definition of Islamophobia, which makes no reference to politics.

    Read more:

    M-103 study should explore how Islamophobia is a form of racism: Paradkar

    How two moms and a teacher are helping Toronto celebrate Islamic Heritage Month

    Pilkey said the guide was not enforceable as policy and denied it would have led to silencing of staff or students.

    “The TDSB welcomes important input from the community and from organizations such as B’nai Brith, however we must say that some of the suggestions made in your letter and subsequent news release are outrageous,” she said in the letter. “To suggest that the TDSB is encouraging students to stay silent about what they experienced in their countries of birth or that the TDSB is somehow banning students and educators from criticizing executions and other human rights abuses around the world is categorically untrue.”

    The Toronto District School Board created the guide to be used in public schools in October, which it declared Islamic Heritage Month. The Toronto District School Board also celebrates Sikh Heritage Month in April and Jewish Heritage Month in May annually.

    B’nai Brith Canada CEO Michael Mostyn said a school board representative told the group the definition was included in the guidebook “in error.”

    “We thank the TDSB for acting swiftly to correct this serious problem,” he said in a statement. “The definition of Islamophobia initially presented by the TDSB was clearly inappropriate, and we look forward to seeing a proper definition presented to Toronto students.”


    TDSB revises Islamic guide after Jewish group finds definition of Islamophobia ‘overly broad’TDSB revises Islamic guide after Jewish group finds definition of Islamophobia ‘overly broad’

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    EDMONTON—Police have criminally charged a Somali refugee who they say attacked an officer and ran down pedestrians with a truck — but are holding off on terrorism charges for now.

    RCMP Supt. Stacey Talbot, with Alberta’s Integrated National Security Enforcement Team, said the investigation of Abdulahi Hasan Sharif is still “in its infancy.”

    “The complexities of a terrorism investigation are vast,” Talbot said Monday. “We continue to collect and gather information.

    “As the investigation unfolds and further information is garnered and if additional charges are supported, they will be pursued at that time.”

    Sharif, 30, is set to make his first appearance Tuesday in provincial court on 11 charges, including five counts of attempted murder.

    He has also been charged with dangerous driving, four counts of criminal flight causing bodily harm and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose.

    Police raised the possibility of terrorism charges on Sunday when revealing that Sharif had been investigated two years earlier for espousing extremist views and was found to have Daesh, also known as ISIS or ISIL, flag in his car.

    Edmonton police have said they believe the suspect acted alone and without conspirators during the series of attacks, which began around 8:15 on Saturday night.

    At that time, Edmonton police Const. Mike Chernyk was handling crowd control at a Canadian Football League game outside Commonwealth Stadium, just northeast of downtown. He was hit by a speeding white Chevy Malibu that rammed through a barrier and sent him flying five metres through the air.

    Read more:

    Edmonton attacks are instances of ‘unstoppable terrorism,’ experts say

    Suspect in Edmonton attack faces terrorism, attempted murder charges

    The driver got out, pulled out a large knife and began stabbing Chernyk, a 10-year veteran, as he was lying on the ground. Chernyk fought back and the suspect fled on foot.

    Chernyk was cut on his face and had abrasions on his arms but is expected to make a full recovery.

    Police knew the name of the Malibu’s registered owner, as well as the suspect’s physical description, and set up roadblocks. Officers stopped the suspect, now driving a U-Haul truck, hours later a checkpoint near the stadium.

    With police in high-speed pursuit, the suspect took off toward the downtown, mowing down four pedestrians along the way. The chase continued until police forced the truck to crash on its side. They then used a stun gun on the driver and took him into custody.

    Edmonton police Insp. Carlos Cardoso was asked by reporters why authorities did not broadcast the name and details of the suspect to the general public after Chernyk was attacked, given the incident had the earmarks of a terrorist attack and happened near a major sporting event.

    “We go on the information we have at the time,” said Cardoso. “At that time we had the area flooded. We had points set up and we knew very little about this individual.

    “The events that transpired shortly thereafter happened that quickly so the opportunity to actually provide that duty to warn just wasn’t there at that time.

    “There will certainly be a review after this to see if we could do things differently, but I do believe what we have in place right now is working quite well.”

    Two of the four pedestrians remain in hospital, one with a fractured skull.

    In Ottawa, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said Sharif crossed legally into Canada in 2012 at a regular border crossing and obtained refugee status at that time. He said nothing raised any red flags at the time.

    “There was no deleterious information that was available at that stage,” Goodale said.

    That Sharif entered Canada as a refugee has raised renewed concerns over how closely asylum seekers are vetted when they apply for refugee status.

    Goodale says the existing procedures place a very high premium on public safety and international records are checked before asylum claims are allowed to proceed. Goodale took pains to point out how Sharif entered the country highlights the current tension around Canada’s asylum system. Since the start of the year, upwards of 13,000 people have been arrested crossing illegally in Canada in order to seek asylum.

    Opposition MP Michelle Rempel asked Goodale whether Sharif would be deported if he were to be found guilty.

    Goodale said it was too early to say.

    “Those charges, depending how they are dealt with in the final analysis by the courts, will determine the future prosecution of this case.”

    On Sunday, RCMP assistant commissioner Marlin Degrand said the suspect was checked thoroughly in 2015 after police received a report that he may have been radicalized.

    Investigators determined at that time that he did not pose a threat.

    Degrand said files on the suspect were kept and shared with other intelligence and police agencies.


    Suspect in Edmonton attacks was investigated by RCMP in 2015Suspect in Edmonton attacks was investigated by RCMP in 2015

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    The nine bullets Toronto police officer James Forcillo fired at Sammy Yatim were part of the same ongoing shooting and should not have been separated into two distinct occurrences at the officer’s criminal trial, lawyers for the convicted cop argued at the Ontario Court of Appeal on Monday.

    More than four years after Forcillo fatally shot Yatim, 18, on a Toronto streetcar, Ontario's highest court heard the suspended officer’s appeal of his conviction and his six-year jail sentence.

    Central to the appeal is the fact that Forcillo, who was not in court Monday, fired his police-issued Glock at Yatim in two discreet volleys, separated by about five and a half seconds.

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    Last year, the jury at his trial found the officer not guilty of second-degree murder in connection to the first volley of three shots, during which the fatal shot was fired. But Forcillo was convicted of attempted murder for the second round of six bullets, fired as Yatim was on the floor of the streetcar, paralyzed and dying.

    Before a panel of Chief Justice of Ontario George Strathy, Justice David Doherty and Justice Gary Trotter, Forcillo’s lawyers stressed the uniqueness of the case, and what they have called the “illogical” finding that he was convicted of attempting to kill someone who he lawfully killed just seconds before.

    “This scenario, I think is fair to say, has never arisen before,” said Michael Lacy, one of Forcillo's lawyers.

    “It's (Forcillo's) submission that what came to be known as the two volleys of shots were so inextricably intertwined that they formed part of a single continuous transaction” Lacy said.

    The officer, who is suspended without pay from the Toronto police force, is seeking an acquittal or a new trial. His lawyers have also argued the sentence handed down by trial judge Justice Edward Then was severe and that if the conviction is upheld, Forcillo should serve a suspended sentence.

    Forcillo’s six-year sentence is one year longer than the mandatory minimum of five years jail time for attempted murder with a firearm, something the officer’s lawyers say violates the charter.

    The mandatory minimum sentence for attempted murder with a firearm was never meant to deal with a case like Forcillo’s, but rather to crack down on mounting gun violence by the “criminal element,” his lawyers said.

    “The clear purpose of that legislation was to target people who make decisions to pick up firearms,” Lacy said, whereas Forcillo was “armed as a result of his employment.”

    Forcillo’s lawyers also detailed what they said were the detrimental effects of being prevented from providing the jury with evidence that would have raised the question of whether Yatim was committing suicide-by-cop.

    That evidence included text messages, expert testimony and a Google search Yatim made that provided insight into Yatim’s state of mind, said lawyer Joseph Wilkinson.

    In that Google search Yatim had asked “how to commit suicide without feeling any pain,” and Wilkinson said the officer’s defence lawyers should have been able to present the jury with evidence about the suicide-by-cop phenomenon to “lend a different perspective.”

    Wilkinson argued that this perspective was important to counterbalance what he said was the Crown's frequent characterization of Yatim as a “person in crisis.”

    Late Monday, Crown lawyer Susan Reid began her arguments in response to the appeal, stressing that the acquittal on second-degree murder but the conviction on attempted murder are not inconsistent.

    “The defences are different and the circumstances were different,” she said.

    Sahar Bahadi, Sammy Yatim’s mother, attended the appeal Monday, saying before it began that she believes Forcillo’s conviction will be upheld.

    “I still believe in God. I still believe in justice. I think that (his conviction will be upheld) and he will go to jail,” she told the Star in an interview last week.

    The appeal continues Tuesday.


    Lawyers for cop who shot Sammy Yatim argue nine shots were 'single' occurrenceLawyers for cop who shot Sammy Yatim argue nine shots were 'single' occurrence

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    A history professor who made racially offensive remarks to a Black student at the University of Toronto’s Massey College has submitted his resignation as a senior fellow at the school.

    After commenting about the “master” of Massey College to a Black student, Michael Marrus resigned his fellowship Sunday when nearly 200 students and faculty signed a petition demanding that he be removed.

    “First, I am so sorry for what I said, in a poor effort at jocular humour at lunch last Tuesday,” Marrus wrote in his resignation letter to college head Hugh Segal.

    “What I said was both foolish and, I understood immediately, hurtful, and I want, first and foremost, to convey my deepest regrets to all whom I may have harmed.”

    On Tuesday, Marrus was sitting with three junior fellows — graduate students who earned residence at Massey College through academic and extracurricular achievements — when Segal asked to join them. At the time, Segal’s title was “master” of the college.

    Marrus allegedly said to a Black graduate student: “You know this is your master, eh? Do you feel the lash?”

    RELATED STORY:

    Firestorm over racially charged remark prompts Massey College to drop title of ‘master’ for head of schools

    an internationally respected Holocaust scholar, Marrus is retired from U of T. He maintained an office and senior fellowship at Massey College, an affiliated independent college at the university.

    The comment, which was widely viewed as a reference to slavery, prompted an open letter to Segal on Wednesday demanding Marrus’s resignation and additional changes to deal with the school’s atmosphere.

    Andrew Kaufman, a junior fellow at Massey College and one of the nine original signatories that reported the incident, said that this is not the first incident of racism at the college.

    “This was not strictly an indictment of Michael Marrus,” he said on Monday. “It was an indictment of the atmosphere where this statement can be comfortably uttered.”

    Months before the incident took place there were discussions regarding the issues with the term “master.” Fact sheets were posted by students on bulletin boards to raise awareness about the problems with the term.

    Anthony Briggs, an alumni of Massey College, said that he had been pushing for the change since 2015 but that his concerns were not taken seriously.

    “It felt that this was an inappropriate title in any context and any time,” he said. “Some people do not recognize the influence and impact of the historical background of the term. That term carries a currency that people are not aware of.”

    On Friday, Massey College agreed to almost all the demands made in the petition. The college temporarily suspended the title of “master,” promised anti-racism training and apologized for the incident.

    Beverly Bain, one of 150 faculty members who signed a letter condemning the racially offensive remark, said that the senior fellow’s comments reflect the wider issues the college is facing with overt and covert racism.

    “It’s not just about this individual — it doesn’t end with him and neither did it begin with him,” said Bain. “He is part of the culture that continues to replicate itself in these institutions, allowing him to articulate that sort of thing.”

    Segal accepted Marrus’s resignation in a statement Monday morning.

    “To say that I regret the event that created the need for your letter would be a serious understatement,” the statement said in response to the resignation. “The presence of distinguished senior scholars such as yourself and others at Massey is of huge value to the mix of generations, disciplines and life skills that enrich the very nature of the Massey experience at its best.”

    Marrus could not be reached for comment on Monday evening.


    Massey College professor resigns over ‘master’ comment to Black studentMassey College professor resigns over ‘master’ comment to Black student

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    OTTAWA—The task ahead is undeniably formidable. A rookie on the federal scene, who does not hold a seat in Parliament and is untested with the reins of partisan leadership, has embarked on a quest to bring New Democrats to power in Ottawa for the first time in Canadian history.

    Not only that — he’s up against a self-avowed progressive prime minister who preaches taxes on the rich and the urgent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, who may not have changed the voting system but is legalizing marijuana.

    Can Jagmeet Singh, the NDP’s fresh new leader, fight Justin Trudeau for the left half of the political spectrum — and win?

    For David Coletto, CEO of Abacus Data, Singh, who’s 38, represents a solid threat to Trudeau and his Liberal majority. Singh’s youthful mode of speech, adherence to left-wing orthodoxy on most issues, and his proven ability to generate buzz could make him a contender for a wide demographic of voters who flocked to the Liberals under Trudeau in 2015, Coletto said.

    “When you think of the voters that both of these parties really need to do well, and that’s younger voters, I think Jagmeet Singh has the opportunity to really compete,” Coletto said.

    “I look at him as someone who is probably going to be the greatest threat to the Liberals and that coalition they’ve put together that was anchored by millennials.”

    Of course, actually drawing them into the NDP isn’t going to be automatic. But a key part of Singh’s pitch to New Democrats throughout the leadership campaign was his promise to widen the appeal of the party into corners of Canada where it has not traditionally succeeded.

    His own electoral story is a testament to this. Singh is quick to point out he started his political career by winning a seat in Brampton, a suburban city outside Toronto where the NDP had long been an afterthought.

    His leadership campaign also claimed to have signed up 47,000 new members during the race. That means more than a third of the total NDP membership was brought in by Singh after he entered the leadership contest in May.

    “Look at what we’ve been able to accomplish in a few short months,” Singh said Sunday during his victory speech. “Now imagine what we can build together, all of us together, in two years.”

    Singh was on Parliament Hill Monday, serving up a charm offensive as he met with reporters. “I don’t know how you do this. Who do you choose?” Singh said with a laugh, as he faced a barrage of questions in the Commons’ foyer.

    Read more:

    The story behind the Jagmeet Singh juggernaut: Cohn

    Jagmeet Singh’s victory ushers in new (and youthful) era in federal politics: Teitel

    What defeated NDP leadership candidates brought to the race

    He gave an aw-shucks accounting of a phone call with Trudeau Sunday night, who called to congratulate him on the leadership win.

    “If I was a kid and you told me that in 30 years, I’d get a call from the prime minister, I would have told you, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’ So it was pretty cool. I’m not going to lie,” Singh said.

    He said that Trudeau was “very gentle and welcoming,” and advised him to “stay in touch with the people who brought you where you are, the grassroots.”

    He also talked with outgoing NDP leader Thomas Mulcair who told him that one of the most important things was to “‘enjoy the journey.’ I will definitely make sure that is one of my top priorities.”

    Singh said he had begun the process to resign his seat at Queen’s Park. And he reiterated his plan, at least for now, not to rush into seeking a federal seat, though there are vacancies in Toronto and Newfoundland and Labrador.

    “I’m comfortable right now with the fact that I don’t a seat,” Singh said, citing the example of past NDP leader Jack Layton who delayed his own bid for a Commons seat to spend time “getting to know the issues that matter to Canadians and spending time with Canadians.”

    “I’m open to hearing suggestions and counsel on this so I haven’t made a decision,” said Singh.

    As to where he ultimately decides to run, Singh said it’s important to have an “authentic” connection to the riding, noting his past time spent living in St. John’s, Windsor and the Greater Toronto Area.

    That work outside the Commons will be important for Singh as the NDP looks to win back supporters in the run-up to the 2019 election.

    Many observers have pointed out that the social democratic party is in debt and well-behind the Liberals and Conservatives in fundraising this year (the NDP raised less than $1.8 million in the first half of 2017, while the Liberals raked in almost $6 million and the Tories received more than $8 million, according to Elections Canada).

    Brad Lavigne, a long-time NDP insider who spearheaded the 2011 “Orange Wave” campaign under Layton, said the new leader has proven he can pull in donors and supporters. He said he’s confident the party will unite behind Singh as they pivot toward the next election.

    “Looking at Jagmeet’s organizational capacity in this leadership alone, I know that we’re going to be ready to go for 2019,” said Lavigne, who supported Singh during the leadership race.

    Money aside, the biggest battleground for that coming challenge will be fighting for votes with the Liberals, Coletto said.

    Singh laid the groundwork for his assault on this front Sunday, when he accused the Trudeau government of essentially lying to Canadians about their intention to run a progressive regime in Ottawa.

    Singh told the Star it will be “easy” to paint this picture for Canadians, pointing to perceived government failures on Indigenous reconciliation, electoral reform, climate change, housing policy and more.

    Coletto’s firm, Abacus Data, released a study in August that asked 2,000 Canadians a series of questions about how they perceive the major political parties. It found that most Canadians associate the Liberals and the NDP with similar values, including “cares about the environment,” “treat men and women equally” and “proud of Canada.”

    The overlap in perception means differentiating his party from the Liberals will be a top job for Singh — the first leader of a major federal party who is not white — as he takes over the NDP, Coletto said.

    And on this score, Singh is already pointing to his desire for more aggressive cuts to greenhouse gas emissions (he wants to hit the Liberals’ target five years quicker, by 2025). The former defence lawyer is also talking about “fundamental” changes to the justice system. This includes his proposed federal ban on racial profiling — ostensibly aimed at the RCMP to prevent racial discrimination by police — and his call to decriminalize all drugs.

    “If you look at people who are criminalized for personal possession . . . these are people who are often faced with mental health issues, addictions and are poor,” he told the Star on Sunday.

    “Our current strategy is not working. It’s not reducing harm. It’s not actually helping people out,” he continued, adding he would like a system similar to Portugal’s, where resources are devoted to rehabilitation and treatment rather than law enforcement for possession convictions.

    He slammed the Liberals for not decriminalizing marijuana as they prepare to legalize the drug next summer, hinting that this is another policy where he’ll be different — and more left-leaning — than Trudeau in the next election.

    It’s impossible to say how that will play out. In Coletto’s mind, at the very least, Singh presents an undeniable shift in style and leadership for New Democrats.

    “I’m not going to make normative statements about whether he is cooler (than the other leadership candidates) or not, but I think you can easily say that Jagmeet Singh is cooler than Tom Mulcair, on most objective measures,” he said.

    Now it’s time to see how he matches up with Trudeau.

    With files from Bruce Campion-Smith


    Can new NDP leader Jagmeet Singh resonate with millennials — and become our next PM?Can new NDP leader Jagmeet Singh resonate with millennials — and become our next PM?

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    OTTAWA—Upon becoming Canada’s 29th Governor General, Julie Payette made an impassioned appeal for Canadians to tackle “serious and pressing global issues like climate change, migration, nuclear proliferation, poverty and population growth.”

    Striding across the front of the Senate’s red-carpeted chamber, wearing a wireless mic, Payette spoke to more than 400 invited guests and dignitaries, delivering a notes-free and at times quirky address that echoed many of the Liberal government’s favourite themes.

    She hailed “diversity” as Canada’s strength, the value of science and evidence-based decision making and the need to reconcile with Indigenous peoples who she said were the original pioneers and “showed us the way.”

    “It is a good thing we finally decided to listen again to their wisdom,” said the 53-year-old Payette.

    Twice in the 21-minute speech, the Governor General addressed Algonquin elder Claudette Commanda along with other Indigenous leaders at her installation, in Algonquin.

    “I would like to salute members of Indigenous nations present here and all of those who are listening,” she said, according to a translation provided by Rideau Hall.

    “We have to achieve reconciliation for the well-being of our communities and for our children.”

    Payette thanked her parents seated in the room for giving her “the greatest gift, unconditional love.” They backed her every step of the way to becoming an astronaut, she said.

    Among the guests who spilled into a building across the street, Payette said there were many eminent scientists, aviators and “high flyers,” and “they would tell you we are all inextricably bound by a part of the same space-time continuum,” she said. “We’re all on-board the same planetary spaceship, but together we can move mountains.”

    “With our brains and our smarts and our altruistic capability we can do a lot of good . . . to diminish the gap and inequities that are found here and elsewhere.”

    Above all, Payette said, she values “teamwork, the power of dreams and absolute necessity of a support structure,” adding this is “exactly what” she’d use her mandate as Governor General to reflect.

    The second Canadian woman to go into space and the first Canadian to work aboard the International Space Station, Payette spoke of her journey to the vice-regal office as an unlikely one.

    She said she wasn’t expecting the prime minister’s call to become Governor General, and her 14-year-old son, Laurier, gave her “permission” to accept the appointment.

    Read more:

    ‘People’s Governor General’ David Johnston bids farewell at ceremony

    Incoming Governor General Julie Payette meets with Queen for the first time

    Incoming governor general Julie Payette drops fight to keep divorce records sealed

    But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who hailed her hard work, discipline and “most importantly, your passion,” said she was a natural for the job.

    She was, Trudeau observed, a pilot, athlete, polyglot, musician, astronaut, and a mother, who showed “the sky was not in fact the limit.”

    “Whether as Canada’s chief astronaut or as an Olympic flag bearer you represent the very best of what it means to be Canadian, to serve Canada with aplomb and integrity.”

    Hours before, Payette’s story was told in a newly unveiled coat of arms that portrays ambition, whimsy and a musical flair.

    Canada’s heraldic authority designed the crest to capture what it saw as the essence of Payette.

    Flanked by two standing Canada lynx atop a blue borderless planet, the badge depicts an open wing, next to a crown, topped by an astronaut’s helmet, a musical bar and the motto “Per Aspera Ad Astra,” which means “Through hardship to the stars.”

    It’s a motto used by Payette and fellow astronauts, according the Canada Heraldry Office, which researched Payette’s background and drew on it for inspiration.

    The two lynx collars of laurel, or bay leaves — “feuilles de laurier” in French — are a nod to her son, Laurier.

    The open wing is meant to symbolize exploration and liberty and embody “our desire to reach higher and expand our horizons,” says the Canada Heraldry Office.

    Payette approved the design created by Claire Boudreau, chief herald of Canada, who said she was inspired by a badge designed by a Quebec artist when Payette flew her first mission into space.

    “I thought that this was very interesting that, already in her past, she had had the occasion to see herself in a design and to describe what is important to her,” Boudreau said in an interview posted by Rideau Hall on Monday.

    The choice of lynx was Boudreau’s. She said the felines represent what she saw when she looked at photos of Payette interacting with people.

    “The way she looks at people she has this strength and direct connection. The animal that came into my mind . . . was the Canadian lynx. For me this animal is a feline, but it has a way to look at its environment, but it’s discreet at the same time.”

    Payette replaces David Johnston, 76, who was appointed by former prime minister Stephen Harper.

    Johnston and his wife, Sharon, served in the governor general’s office for seven years, beyond the usual five-year term.

    Payette arrived on Parliament Hill at mid-morning on Monday, the start of a day filled with pomp and ceremony.

    She was greeted by Trudeau and Indigenous leaders from the Assembly of First Nations, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, the Native Women’s Association of Canada and the Métis National Council.

    At the formal ceremony, she swore three oaths of office administered by Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, who holds the office of deputy governor general.

    Payette selected the music for the program. A Tafelmusik baroque ensemble — Payette was once a member of the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and choir — played Mozart’s “Divertimento.”

    Payette chose Joannie Benoît and Mélissa Bédard, who first made their names during the 2012 season of Star Academy, to sing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”

    Payette invited Quebec’s Ginette Reno to sing the national anthem — a closing performance that Payette greeted with a standing ovation, along with the entire audience of Supreme Court judges, MPs, senators, former prime minister Jean Chrétien and Payette’s predecessors Johnston and Adrienne Clarkson.

    A 21-gun salute fired by the 30th Field Regiment and a flypast by CF-18 jets marked Payette’s departure from the Parliament Hill ceremony, as she headed to the National War Memorial.

    Onlookers in Monday’s festivities praised Johnston’s time as vice-regal representative and were curious to see what changes Payette will bring to the role.

    Karen Doehn, who was visiting the nation’s capital from New Dundee, near Kitchener, said she was pleased another female was in the role.

    “I think she’s with it, as far as society goes and she’s quite a bit younger so I think she’s at her prime,” said Doehn, at the war memorial.

    “With every new person coming into the office, I think you’ve got to give them time to figure out who they are and see what they are capable of,” said Bethany Bisaillion, pipe major of the Sons of Scotland, an Ottawa-based civilian pipes and drums band.

    With files from Bruce Campion-Smith


    Julie Payette becomes Canada’s 29th Governor GeneralJulie Payette becomes Canada’s 29th Governor General

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    Friends are in shock after two Toronto men in their 20s were shot dead at Rebel nightclub early Sunday.

    Police did not immediately name the two men, but friends identified them as Tyler McLean, 25, and Amir Jamal, 26.

    “Tyler was such a friendly guy. Nobody could ever be mad at him and he had a lot of friends in this city who are shocked at this,” said McLean’s friend Adam Mahgoub, who confirmed that McLean and Jamal were friends.

    McLean was a promoter for the nightclub and had been working there the night he and Jamal were shot in the parking lot near Polson and Cherry Sts. around 3:10 a.m.

    A friend has setup a Gofundme campaign to help Jamal’s family ship his body back to Afghanistan, where he emigrated from six years ago. According to the page, Jamal was working long hours in Toronto and sending money back to Afghanistan to support his family.

    “To everybody that knew Amir, he was the most genuine and kind person,” the Gofundme page said. “He was loving, caring and generous with every single person that he met.”

    According to Jamal’s Facebook page, he had studied at York University.

    Police said there was an altercation that led to the shooting. A black vehicle was seen speeding away from the scene and last observed heading north on the Don Valley Parkway.

    No suspects have been identified.

    Adnan Farhoud, who also works at the nightclub, said he left about 20 minutes before the shooting. He said McLean was smiling and having a good time, like always.

    “He wasn’t even supposed to come in that night because he just came back the day before from vacation,” Farhoud said.

    Earlier this month, McLean posted Instagram pictures of himself in Peru.

    Mahgoub, who owns an events company, trained McLean as a promoter about three years ago and kept in touch.

    “He was very well respected, very well liked,” he said. “Tyler had a huge future.”


    Friends mourn victims of Rebel nightclub shootingFriends mourn victims of Rebel nightclub shooting

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    We’ve seen them before: the monsters who are interchangeable, their victims who are not.

    There was horror this past weekend for the four people injured by a madman driving in Edmonton, knocking them down Saturday, horror for the police officer who had just been hit and stabbed.

    Horror also for the 58 people who died, including Canadians Jordan McIldoon and Jessica Klymchuk, and the hundreds injured as the site of a country music festival in Las Vegas turned into a killing field Sunday.

    There’s the continuing shock for the witnesses to the tragedies.

    Read more:

    B.C. man, Alberta woman among 59 killed in Las Vegas concert shooting

    What we know about Stephen Paddock, the high-stakes gambler behind the Las Vegas massacre

    Suspect in Edmonton attacks was investigated by RCMP in 2015

    There is unending sorrow for the families left bereaved. McIldoon was 23, in the city to celebrate his impending 24th birthday. He was someone with a sense of humour. “God you’re hideous,” a friend commented recently on a Facebook photo of him. “God I know,” McIldoon responded, dryly.

    Klymchuk, who left behind four kids, appeared to have been madly in love with her fiancé. “Brent you are heaven sent. You are my one and only. You’re one of a kind,” she told him in a Facebook post just last week.

    One day you’re imagining a life together. Suddenly that life is irretrievably lost. Gone.

    Each victim lies in the centre of a ripple of grief. Each needs to be mourned. Their loved ones need support.

    That’s not enough vicarious suffering, though, for some of those watching from afar.

    If online forums can be regarded as substitutes for the street corners of yore, discussions reveal that the first instinct of those asking, “Who?” is to seek to confirm biases and politicize the violence.

    Then basic identifiers are placed in neat boxes.

    Muslim — terrorist.

    Black — violent criminal.

    Refugee — freeloader.

    White — mentally ill.

    Tragedies are exploited, victims are pushed aside and narratives are created to suit agendas.

    The alleged Edmonton attacker whom police identified as Abdulahi Hasan Sharif, 30, faced the triple threat of being Muslim, Black and a refugee, leading to hysterical calls to ban Muslim immigration and dire warnings of Canada’s definite slide into a land of Sharia law that nobody is asking for.

    The next day, a white man’s senseless violence in Las Vegas appeared to leave people bereft of identity-based hate hooks, so the bickering rolled down the now ritualized path of gun control versus the second amendment — a necessary argument that could have easily waited a few hours.

    The Washington Post rushed to eulogize the killer with a soft-focus lens, calling him a man who “enjoyed gambling, country music, lived quiet life before massacre.” That was the headline of a story that described him as having gambling problems and a father who was on the FBI’s Most Wanted List.

    If the aftermath of tragedies reveal the best in humans — the heroism of those risking their lives to save others, strangers donating blood, the first responders, the police — they also bring out the parasites who feed on pain, the bottom feeders of disasters.

    These are people who take pleasure in circulating images of fake victims or fake perpetrators.

    On Monday morning, far-right trolls spread the “news” that the Las Vegas shooting suspect was a man named Geary Danley and said he was a fan of MSNBC host Rachel Maddow. They called him a Democrat and said he was associated with an anti-Trump army.

    After the attack in Manchester following the Ariana Grande concert in May, a YouTube personality who calls himself Review Brah was falsely listed as missing. There was his picture again Sunday night, with the words, “My brother was in Las Vegas the strip tonight. He’s not picking up my call! Has anyone seen him? Please help.”

    Projecting comedian Sam Hyde as mass-shooter has become a favourite among trolls, according to a Buzzfeed list of hoaxes about the Las Vegas shooting.

    Earlier this year, a tweet with Hyde’s photo read: Suspect in #Kalamazoo shooting identified as Klansman Stan Hider. In 2016, after a racist attack on a Missouri campus, a tweet captioned Hyde’s photo thus: Sam Hyde confirmed KKK white racist on #Mizzou campus.

    As if on cue, his photo popped up again Sunday.

    #Mandalay Bay shooter identified as 32 year OLD ISLAMIC CONVERT SAMIR AL-HAJEED #mandalaybay

    A couple of accounts that now appear to be suspended shared a photo of porn actor Johnny Sins and said, “My dad is missing after Las Vegas shooting. Please RT and share. We are distraught.”

    It has responses such as “I hope your dad is ok. Sending prayers from BC Canada.”

    The tragedy, the fake cry for help, the compassion of strangers — these are fodder for humour for the unspeakably sick among us who delight in mining trauma for memes.

    That life goes on is both platitude and fact. Tragic will be the day when misfortune comes knocking at the doors of the heartless, and there’s no one to cry for them. Then, too, life will simply go on.

    Shree Paradkar writes about discrimination and identity. You can follow her @shreeparadkar


    Grieve for Las Vegas, Edmonton, but sidestep the trolls: ParadkarGrieve for Las Vegas, Edmonton, but sidestep the trolls: Paradkar

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    The chickens aren’t coming home to roost in Toronto backyards just yet.

    On Monday night, council deferred a vote on a pilot project that would allow Toronto residents in some neighborhoods to keep up to four chickens in their backyards.

    The proposed pilot would operate in Wards 5, 13, 21 and 32 for a period of up to three years with an interim review at 18 months. Backyard chickens would not be allowed in apartment buildings, condominiums or properties without sufficient outdoor space.

    Eggs produced by the hens could not be sold and roosters would not be allowed in a henhouse because of the noise they make, according to the motion before council. Participants in the program would have to register and agree to regular inspections.

    Council is expected to vote on the pilot project Tuesday, the second day of fall’s first session.

    Council also delayed voting on a staff report adding additional animals – including cranes, flamingos and penguins, to the city’s prohibited animal list.

    Also, council is expected Tuesday to consider changing the bylaw that currently allows for exemptions to the city’s prohibited animals list – when used for educational purposes.

    Read more:Common sense is key in keeping backyard chickens

    City staff recommended ending the exemption over concerns about the proliferation of exotic animals at birthday parties and other circumstances that were not “educational.” It would take effect Jan. 1, 2018.

    City staff did not recommend removing chickens from the prohibited animal list. But public consultations earlier this year triggered a proposal to ask council to consider removing them from the list and launching a pilot project.

    During Monday night’s debate, councillors used the occasion to joke, cluck and at one point played an audio clip ostensibly of henhouse noise.

    “I was wondering if Colonel Sanders has been…consulted,” joked Councillor Jim Karygiannis while questioning Tracey Cook, executive director of municipal licensing and standards.

    “He was certainly welcome to answer our public survey, sir, if he was so inclined,” Cook deadpanned.

    Councillor Stephen Holyday, firmly in the no-chicken-in-my-backyard-camp, wondered “where does the line get drawn” if the city removes chickens from the prohibited animal list. “Where do we stop? Can I have a cow? I like milk,” Holyday stated.

    Some councillors raised concerns about what might happen to unwanted chickens. “I will say we have had occasions where little pot bellied pigs have been dropped off at animal services,” Cook responded.

    Councillor Justin Di Ciano, a proponent of the pilot project, said he was tired of the “fear mongering,” adding his father has backyard chickens.

    Di Ciano also noted while many other jurisdictions, including Vancouver, Montreal, New York and Brampton, allow residents to keep a few hens, there has been no “massive…public health issue created by backyard chickens.”

    Cook told council there have been some examples of Salmonella outbreaks tied to backyard hen flocks “but nothing significant.”


    Council expected to vote on backyard chickens TuesdayCouncil expected to vote on backyard chickens Tuesday

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    Two Canadian families are grieving today.

    In a Sunday night attack on the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Nevada, B.C. native Jordan McIldoon and Albertan Jessica Klymchuk lost their lives. Klymchuk’s death was confirmed by her home province’s premier Rachel Notley; McIldoon’s, by a relative.

    Klymchuk was the mother of four children, and was in Nevada with her fiancé when she was killed. Friend Candace Nicole described her as a “gorgeous human being,” and said Klymchuk’s kids were her entire life.

    “She had the biggest heart and she always wore the sweetest smile. Her kids were her entire life and her family and friends meant the world,” Nicole said.

    McIldoon would have turned 24 on Friday, and was only a month shy of finishing his training as a heavy-duty mechanic. In a Facebook posting, Heather Gooze of Las Vegas said she was outside the festival grounds on Sunday.

    “I am with a young man who died in my arms! RIP Jordan McIldoon from British Columbia,” Gooze wrote.

    Her account could not immediately be verified.

    Read more:

    B.C. man, Alberta woman among 59 killed in Las Vegas concert shooting

    ‘Beyond horrific’: Las Vegas in photos

    ‘We saw people dropping’: What eyewitnesses saw as a gunman opened fire on Las Vegas concert

    As news of both deaths hit airwaves and grief rippled north of the border, another Canadian couple — still cooped up in Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay hotel — peered outside at a broken window two floors below.

    There, a drape blew out from the fractured glass, into the morning wind.

    It’s the spot where 64-year-old Stephen Paddock opened fire Sunday night, killing at least 58 people and injuring 500 before ending his own life. Less than 24 hours later, it’s being called one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history.

    “There’s debris everywhere,” Lindsay Sherk — who travelled from Ottawa for the festival — said over the phone, looking out the window. She watched as investigators paced the now-empty venue, a ghostly scene strewn with abandoned lawn chairs and scattered personal belongings.

    The night before, Canadian filmmaker Jode Kechego also watched the scene from above. But standing on the roof of the hotel, as police helicopters began circling above, he was struck by fear that authorities could mistake him for the shooter.

    “I have a big tripod, I’m on the ledge of the roof,” Kechego, a member of the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation, told the Star. He’d been making a time-lapse video of the crowd, when a security guard rushed up to him and asked if he knew what had just happened.

    “As soon as he said that, we heard the gunshots,” he said.

    From his viewpoint, Kechego could see the crowd splinter. He heard several rounds of quick firing, with brief pauses in between, before a series of slower single shots that sounded like they came from another direction.

    The security guard told him they needed to evacuate. As he was packing up his equipment, he saw a light shine on the roof: it was from the helicopters.

    Kechego immediately became nervous. “There’s a shooting where nobody knows where it’s coming from, the helicopter has a spotlight on me, and I’m a guy with a backpack and a big black case,” he said.

    “That did not look good.”

    But he made it inside the hotel, aided by security. Along with around 80 people, Kechego spent the night in the bar of a restaurant on the top floor. No one got much sleep, and they didn’t leave until 7:30 a.m.

    In the eye of the night’s chaos, another Canadian chose to reach for home. 24-year-old Quinn Mell-Cobb called his mom as he ran from the scene.

    He and his girlfriend Madison Milford were among dozens of Canadians in the crowd, who ran from the stage as the bullets sprayed down. The crowd sought refuge, banging on the hoods of swerving cars as they tried to cross Tropicana Blvd. As they ran, he dialed a familiar Vancouver number.

    His mom’s voice came through the other side.

    “[I] told her what was going on and that I wasn't sure if we would be OK,” Mell-Cobb wrote in a Facebook message to the Star. He expected his mom to panic; she’d always been the kind to worry, no matter what the situation was.

    But from the other side of the border, she offered solace.

    “She was an immense help and calmly talked us through everything, the whole way right up to arriving at our room,” Mell-Cobb wrote. His heart was pulled at one point when Milford stumbled; he thought she’d been shot.

    “It’s the most terrifying thing you could ever imagine,” he wrote.

    But they made their way back to the MGM Grand Hotel, up to the 20th floor, where they stayed hunkered down for hours. His brother joined his mom on the phone, giving updates as more information emerged.

    Throughout the night marked by chaos, there was a lot of “true heroism” in the night, Mell-Cobb told the Star.

    “I saw men carrying kids and women out, others knocking down barricades, just stuff like that,” he wrote. “Restores your faith in humanity despite having it come from such a heinous act.”

    With files from Metro Vancouver and the Canadian Press


    Two Canadian victims mourned after Las Vegas attackTwo Canadian victims mourned after Las Vegas attack

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    What we know so far

    • At least 59 people have been killed and more than 527 injured when shots were fired at a country music festival from a highrise hotel on the Las Vegas strip.

    • Two Canadians have now been confirmed killed. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says Jessica Klymchuk, an Albertan, was among those who died. Jordan McIldoon, a 23-year-old man from Maple Ridge, B.C., was also killed, according to a family member.

    • The suspected gunman has been identified as Stephen Paddock, 64. He was located at Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino and allegedly killed himself before police entered the premises. At least 16 guns were found in his room.

    • The FBI says Paddock had no ties to an international terror group after Daesh claimed responsibility without evidence.

    • A motive is not yet known.

    • U.S. authorities believe this was a “lone wolf” attack, and that there was no “specific credible threat” involving other public venues in the U.S.

    • Police named a companion of Paddock as a person of interest, but later determined she was not involved in the mass shooting as she had been out of the country.

    • In an address to the nation, Donald Trump said it was an “act of pure evil.” Trump will travel to Vegas on Wednesday.

    • Family reunification is still taking place. To inquire about the status of a family member, call 1-866-535-5354, although the number is currently down.

    LAS VEGAS—The rapid-fire popping sounded like firecrackers at first, and many in the crowd of 22,000 country music fans didn’t understand what was happening when the band stopped playing and singer Jason Aldean bolted off the stage.

    “That’s gunshots,” a man could be heard saying emphatically on a cellphone video in the nearly half-minute of silence and confusion that followed. A woman pleaded with others: “Get down! Get down! Stay down!”

    Then the pop-pop-pop noise resumed. And pure terror set in.

    “People start screaming and yelling and we start running,” said Andrew Akiyoshi, who provided the cellphone video to The Associated Press. “You could feel the panic. You could feel like the bullets were flying above us. Everybody’s ducking down, running low to the ground.”

    While some concertgoers hit the ground, others pushed for the crowded exits, shoving through narrow gates and climbing over fences as 40- to 50-round bursts of automatic weapons fire rained down on them from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay casino hotel.

    By Monday afternoon, 59 people were dead – including two Canadians— and 527 wounded in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

    Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said Jessica Klymchuk, an Albertan, was among those who died. Jordan McIldoon, a 23-year-old man from Maple Ridge, B.C., was also killed, according to a family member.

    “You just didn’t know what to do,” Akiyoshi said. “Your heart is racing and you’re thinking, ‘I’m going to die.’”

    The gunman, identified as Stephen Craig Paddock, a 64-year-old retired accountant from Mesquite, Nevada, killed himself before officers stormed Room 135 in the gold-colored glass skyscraper.

    The avid gambler who according to his brother made a small fortune investing in real estate had been staying there since Thursday and had busted out windows to create his sniper’s perch roughly 500 yards from the concert grounds.

    The motive for the attack remained a mystery, with Sheriff Joseph Lombardo saying: “I can’t get into the mind of a psychopath at this point.”

    Paddock had 17 guns in his hotel room, including rifles with scopes, Lombardo said. Two were modified to make them fully automatic, according to two U.S. officials briefed by law enforcement who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is still unfolding.

    At Paddock’s home, authorities found 18 more guns, explosives and thousands of rounds of ammunition. Also, several pounds of ammonium nitrate, a fertilizer that has been used to make explosives such as those used in the 1995 Oklahoma bombing, were in his car, the sheriff said.

    The FBI said it found nothing so far to suggest the attack was connected to international terrorism, despite a claim of responsibility from Daesh, also known as ISIS or ISIL, which said Paddock was a “soldier” who had recently converted to Islam.

    In an address to the country, President Donald Trump called the bloodbath “an act of pure evil” and added: “In moments of tragedy and horror, America comes together as one. And it always has.” He ordered flags flown at half-staff.

    With hospitals jammed with victims, authorities put out a call for blood donations and set up a hotline to report missing people and speed the identification of the dead and wounded. They also opened a “family reunification centre” for people to find loved ones.

    More than 12 hours after the massacre, bodies covered in white sheets were still being removed from the festival grounds.

    The shooting began at 10:07 p.m., and the gunman appeared to fire unhindered for more than 10 minutes, according to radio traffic. Police frantically tried to locate him and determine whether the gunfire was coming from Mandalay Bay or the neighbouring Luxor hotel.

    At 10:14 p.m., an officer said on his radio that he was pinned down against a wall on Las Vegas Boulevard with 40 to 50 people.

    “We can’t worry about the victims,” an officer said at 10:15 p.m. “We need to stop the shooter before we have more victims. Anybody have eyes on him ... stop the shooter.”

    Near the stage, Dylan Schneider, a country singer who performed earlier in the day, huddled with others under the VIP bleachers, where he turned to his manager and asked, “Dude, what do we do?” He said he repeated the question again and again over the next five minutes.

    Bodies were lying on the artificial turf installed in front of the stage, and people were screaming and crying. The sound of people running on the bleachers added to the confusion, and Schneider thought the concert was being invaded with multiple shooters.

    “No one knew what to do,” Schneider said. “It’s literally running for your life and you don’t know what decision is the right one. But like I said, I knew we had to get out of there.”

    He eventually pushed his way out of the crowd and found refuge in the nearby Tropicana hotel-casino, where he kicked in a door to an engineering room and spent hours there with others who followed him.

    The shooting started as Aldean closed out the three-day Route 91 Harvest Festival. He had just begun the song “When She Says Baby,” and the first burst of nearly 50 shots crackled as he sang, “It’s tough just getting up.”

    Muzzle flashes could be seen in the dark as the gunman fired away.

    “It was the craziest stuff I’ve ever seen in my entire life,” said Kodiak Yazzie, 36. “You could hear that the noise was coming from west of us, from Mandalay Bay. You could see a flash, flash, flash, flash.”

    The crowd, funneled tightly into a wide-open space, had little cover and no easy way to escape. Victims fell to the ground, while others fled in panic. Some hid behind concession stands or crawled under parked cars.

    Faces were etched with shock and confusion, and people wept and screamed.

    Tales of heroism and compassion emerged quickly: Couples held hands as they ran through the dirt lot. Some of the bleeding were carried out by fellow concertgoers. While dozens of ambulances took away the wounded, while some people loaded victims into their cars and drove them to the hospital. People fleeing the concert grounds hitched rides with strangers, piling into cars and trucks.

    Some of the injured were hit by shrapnel. Others were trampled or were injured jumping fences.

    The dead included at least three off-duty police officers from various departments who were attending the concert, authorities said. Two on-duty officers were wounded, one critically, police said.

    Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman said the attack was the work of a “crazed lunatic full of hate.”

    The sheriff said authorities believe Paddock acted alone. While Paddock appeared to have no criminal history, his father was a bank robber who was on the FBI’s most-wanted list in the 1960s.

    As for why Paddock went on the murderous rampage, his brother in Florida, Eric Paddock, told reporters: “I can’t even make something up. There’s just nothing.”

    Hours after the shooting, Aldean posted on Instagram that he and his crew were safe and that the shooting was “beyond horrific.”

    “It hurts my heart that this would happen to anyone who was just coming out to enjoy what should have been a fun night,” the country star said.

    Before Sunday, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history took place in June 2016, when a gunman who professed support for Muslim extremist groups opened fire at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, killing 49 people.

    A suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, killed 22 people in May. Almost 90 people were killed in 2015 at a concert in Paris by gunmen inspired by Daesh.

    Read more:

    What we know so far about Stephen Paddock

    ‘Beyond horrific’: Las Vegas in photos

    ‘We saw people dropping’: What eyewitnesses saw


    ‘You could feel the panic’: Two Canadians among 59 killed in deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history‘You could feel the panic’: Two Canadians among 59 killed in deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history‘You could feel the panic’: Two Canadians among 59 killed in deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history‘You could feel the panic’: Two Canadians among 59 killed in deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history

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