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- 10/17/17--08:22: _25 per cent hydro r...
- 10/17/17--13:30: _Ontario government ...
- 10/17/17--12:14: _Brampton family is ...
- 10/17/17--11:16: _Trump warns ‘I figh...
- 10/17/17--15:37: _Article 0
- 10/16/17--09:10: _500 job cuts at Lob...
- 10/17/17--14:08: _Ontario’s abortion ...
- 10/17/17--14:04: _Here's how to make ...
- 10/17/17--13:29: _Bombardier jet give...
- 10/17/17--11:22: _Google firm wins co...
- 10/17/17--12:55: _Trudeau, Trump gove...
- 10/17/17--18:04: _Caitlan Coleman, re...
- 10/18/17--05:11: _Sears Canada employ...
- 10/18/17--09:54: _Brampton woman on l...
- 10/18/17--06:40: _Ontario to bid for ...
- 10/18/17--03:00: _Leaside doctor who ...
- 10/18/17--14:45: _Charging stations f...
- 10/18/17--12:48: _Suicidal motorist w...
- 10/18/17--08:51: _Quebec television p...
- 10/18/17--14:14: _Ontario Liberals fa...
- 10/17/17--15:37: Article 0
- 10/17/17--14:08: Ontario’s abortion safe zone passes second reading
- 10/17/17--13:29: Bombardier jet giveaway hands Donald Trump another victory: Walkom
- 10/17/17--18:04: Caitlan Coleman, recently freed hostage, admitted to hospital
- 10/18/17--05:11: Sears Canada employees angered by bonus plan for key executives
- 10/18/17--03:00: Leaside doctor who groped, kissed patient loses licence
- Beairsto hugged and kissed Patient A on the cheeks after their psychotherapy sessions, which the committee found to be inappropriate, but not sexual abuse. Patient A found this conduct “weird,” while Beairsto testified that he kissed both male and female patients on the cheeks “in a cocktail party manner,” and hugged them “European-style.” He said he regrets hugging Patient A, and now only hugs and kisses his gay male patients, “as this allows him to demonstrate that, as a straight man, he is not homophobic.”
- Patient A testified that Beairsto touched himself near his genitals and then smelled his hand. The doctor said he did not touch his crotch, but may have moved his hand from somewhere below his desk to his nose “as part of a demonstration to explain that smelling one’s vaginal discharge could be helpful in determining if a vaginal infection had resolved.” He testified that Patient A “misinterpreted his efforts” to give some “practical” medical advice.
- 10/18/17--14:45: Charging stations for on-street parking get a boost in Toronto
Ontario’s financial watchdog is sounding the alarm over the Liberal government’s 25-per-cent cut in residential electricity rates.
Auditor general Bonnie Lysyk estimates the scheme, unveiled last May, could cost Ontarians an additional $4 billion in interest charges over the next 30 years.
In Lysyk’s latest salvo against the provincial government over a continuing accounting dispute, she expressed concern about how the hydro rebate will appear on the books.
“The accounting proposed by the government is wrong, and, if used, would make the province’s budgets and future consolidated financial statements unreliable,” the auditor general said Tuesday.
“This cannot be taken lightly.”
Her comments came as she tabled a 53-page special report on the Liberals’ “Fair Hydro Plan.”
Lysyk’s concern about the plan echoes that of province’s financial accountability officer who predicted in May that it will cost the province $45 billion over the next 29 years while saving ratepayers $24 billion for a $21-billion net expense.
Facing a massive outcry over soaring hydro rates in many parts of the province, Premier Kathleen Wynne moved forward with the generous rebates.
As of Jan. 1, Wynne removed the 8-per-cent provincial portion of the harmonized sales tax from electricity bills.
That was followed up by an additional 17-per-cent cut that took effect over the summer.
The government has justified borrowing money to pay ratepayers by likening it to refinancing a mortgage to enjoy lower payments over a longer time on nuclear reactors, natural gas-fired power plants, and wind turbines.
Lysyk estimated that could mean an extra $4 billion in interest charges over the next 30 years.
The charges are extra, because the province will not borrow all the money directly, doing so, instead, through a complex financial structure that includes Ontario Power Generation, among other Crown agencies.
“Internal records show that senior government officials were aware their approach to borrowing could result in Ontarians paying significantly more than necessary,” the auditor general said.
But a 56-page KPMG analysis prepared for the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) concluded the government’s accounting was fine.
In a 1,037-word rebuttal included at the end of Lysyk’s report, the government disputed her findings.
“The government of Ontario does not agree with the assertions and conclusions expressed in the report. (This) is delivering the single-largest reduction in electricity rates in the province’s history,” the Liberal government responded.
“In developing (this), the government considered a range of implementation options and consulted with legal, accounting, financial and energy sector third-party experts to provide advice and ensure due diligence was completed,” it said, noting it operates “under a financial and accounting framework that is appropriate for the intended purpose and in accordance with Public Sector Accounting Standards (PSAS) and ensures that the fairness goals underlying the program are achieved in a cost-effective manner.”
The province also rejected some of Lysyk’s base assumptions in her report.
“Since 2003, nearly $70 billion has been invested in the electricity system, including more than $37 billion in electricity generation to ensure the system is clean and reliable,” the government said.
“The majority of the province’s electricity generators operate under 20-year contracts. Despite the report’s assertion that it is ‘not at all’ certain if these generating assets will be operating beyond their contract lives, third-party experts have confirmed that many of these generators will be able to continue to operate,” it said.
“This means that generating assets are expected to have ongoing useful life and benefit future ratepayers by reducing the need to finance the development of new generating assets.”
As well, the province said that the so-called “peak debt” of the 30-year life of the Fair Hydro Plan has been adjusted downward from $28 billion in March to around $20 billion.
Lysyk has been sparring with the government over accounting practices for more than a year.
The original actuarial dispute stemmed from a difference of opinion over whether the government should include, in its bottom line, its share of assets from the teachers’ and public servants’ pension funds that it co-sponsors.
A government-appointed panel of accounting experts sided with Queen’s Park that the pension assets should be allowed to count toward the bottom line.
25 per cent hydro rebate could cost an additional $4B over next 30 years
A report comes to light after an investigation by journalists, including the Star, into a pattern of potentially-dangerous leaks and secrecy in Sarnia’s Chemical Valley.
Ontario government ignored health warnings from its own engineers about Sarnia’s Chemical Valley, report claims
Taquisha McKitty’s family believes she is still showing signs of life after being declared brain dead last month, lawyer said.
Brampton family is asking for more time to conduct tests on daughter declared brain dead
McCain, who spent 5 ½ years in a Vietnam prisoner of war camp and is battling brain cancer, offered a simple response to Trump: “I have faced tougher adversaries.”
Trump warns ‘I fight back’ after McCain calls out ‘half-baked, spurious nationalism’
About 500 jobs are being cut at Loblaw Companies Ltd., beginning Monday, the company has confirmed.
The cuts are being made in corporate offices and include executives, members of management and employees across divisions and functions that support Loblaws, Shoppers Drug Mart and other retail stores, including No Frills, Joe Fresh and Zehrs.
“This will have no effect on hourly store roles,” said Loblaw spokesperson Kevin Groh, who added that the job losses are not related to any single fact, including the announced increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour in Ontario and Alberta.
“Our industry is facing a range of pressures. This isn’t related to any single one. In fact, it’s really about our future. To invest meaningfully in promising areas means saving meaningfully in others,” Groh said.
“While this is a difficult time and process, there is a future that includes considerable job creation,” said Groh.
In a memo to staff on Monday, obtained by the Star, Sarah Davis, president, Loblaw Companies Ltd., said the move was being made to control costs.
“These decisions are difficult but necessary. Our business is at an inflection point, with growing pressures – from new costs and new competition – and with many opportunities to grow and evolve. As always, we continue to focus on our future,” Davis wrote.
The internal memo goes on to say that the company is committed to cost reductions and running the business efficiently.
Groh said the company is investing in areas including digital initiatives, online commerce, health care initiatives and financial services and is creating new positions, as it does so.
Loblaw Companies Ltd. announced in July 2013 that it had acquired Shoppers Drug Mart in a $12.4 billion deal.
Loblaws is one of Canada’s largest private employers, employing 200,000, according to Groh.
Loblaw chair and chief executive officer Galen Weston told analysts during a quarterly earnings call in July that the increase in minimum wage to $15 an hour in Ontario and Alberta was going to increase the company’s labour expenses by about $190 million next year.
500 job cuts at Loblaws include staff at Shoppers, No Frills, Joe Fresh and Zehrs
Public hearings will begin Thursday on a proposed law to create protest-free zones around abortion clinics, just two days after the now-expedited bill passed second reading.
Bill 163 was approved by MPPs present from all three major parties, with only Jack MacLaren (Carleton-Mississippi Mills) — a former Progressive Conservative who is now a member of the fledgling Trillium Party of Ontario — voting against.
The Safe Access to Abortion Services Act allows for buffer zones of 50 metres, and up to 150 metres, around abortion clinics, and also protest-free areas around the homes of clinic doctors and staff, as well as pharmacies and any agencies that provide pills to terminate pregnancies.
Attorney General Yasir Naqvi said the legislation was in response to the recent, increasing harassment of women outside of abortion clinics, and in particular at the Morgentaler Clinic in Ottawa.
Almost two weeks ago, Progressive Conservative MPP Lisa MacLeod tried to get the bill passed on the spot, but the Liberals refused — widely seen as a way for the government to keep an issue that has been divisive for the PCs in the news.
On Monday, however, the parties agreed to an expedited process.
“I think that we have a moment here, a moment to take a stand,” said MacLeod (Nepean-Carleton) speaking in the House. “As female legislators and as male legislators … We have an opportunity in this moment to make change. Whether that’s keeping women safe from harassment at a clinic, or whether that’s keeping women safe when they go out at night, that’s a role we have to play. That’s our duty, in fact.”
Indira Naidoo-Harris, the provincial minister of the status of women, noted that “some clinics experience protest on an almost daily basis …
“The complaints about what is happening outside of the clinics have been increasing. Patients and staff are scared and that is unacceptable. We should not forget the history of violent activity conducted by anti-abortion protestors, the arson attacks and bombings and the shooting of clinic doctors in the 1990s.”
The NDP’s Peggy Sattler said while she welcomes the bill, she is “angry … about the political context that brought us here.”
Ontario’s abortion safe zone passes second reading
A lot has been said, and written, about the proposed Lawrence East SmartTrack station in Scarborough. Public hearings opened up last week on John Tory’s proposed additions to the provincial GO Regional Express Rail plan, and the politics of the approval of that particular station have been in the news for months — the auditor general is investigating the decision to place a station on Lawrence.
Much, but not all, of that discussion revolves around how many people are expected to use that station, if and when it ever opens. And while I think it’s good that authorities investigate and debate the questions that have arisen properly, I also think it’s worthwhile to note that a couple of key variables will to a large extent determine the ridership and usefulness of that station. These are variables that still haven’t really been sorted out to anyone’s satisfaction: bus service, and fares. These are going to be a bigger determinant, I think, than potential development at the station. At least in the short term.
“Shoshanna Saxe, an assistant professor of civil engineering and a member of the University of Toronto’s Transportation Research Institute, said there’s only so much the government can do. She noted the area has had a rapid transit stop in the Scarborough Rapid Transit station for more than three decades and development remains low,” a story in the Star read this week. “Demand is something that the city and the province can try and nudge, they can try and inspire, but if the market isn’t there, that’s not within the city’s control,” she went on to say.
I think she’s certainly right that the station there, like most SRT stations, has not generated development around it. But my experience tells me that doesn’t necessarily tell us much about the demand and potential demand for service there. And not just because SmartTrack/RER promises a one-seat trip to Union Station in about 17 minutes, whereas making the same trip today starting at Lawrence East SRT would require changing trains twice and take half an hour. It’s something more than that.
As it happens, I lived in Scarborough, between Markham Rd. and Bellamy, south of Lawrence, for much of 14 years, and in that time I did not have a driver’s license. I took the TTC every day, including downtown to Ryerson for the years I attended school there. During that time, Lawrence East was the closest transit station to my house. And during that time, I may only have set foot inside that station half a dozen times.
That’s because the two bus options close to my house went directly to Warden subway station, which was twice the distance away. The bus trip to Lawrence East, if I were to make it, required a transfer, and would take just as long or longer than the one-bus trip to Warden.
My own experience wasn’t some weird quirk. Almost every north-south bus route in Scarborough feeds people to one of a few stations: Scarborough Town Centre, Kennedy, or Warden. Not surprisingly, those three stations have tremendously high ridership.
Warden station, with eight different bus connections, saw almost 30,000 passengers a day in 2015. Lawrence East, with one single bus line connection, attracted only 8,130.
The passengers go where TTC buses or streetcars take them. It isn’t some oddity of Scarborough, either. Chester subway station is a short walk from both Broadview and Pape stations along the Danforth. Those three stations are in the same neighbourhood — the development and population density around those three stations is the same. And yet: Broadview, served by two streetcar lines and four bus lines, serves over 33,000 passengers a day. Pape, fed by four bus lines including the mighty Don Mills, serves 28,700 passengers a day. And Chester, served by zero bus connections, is among the TTC’s least-used stations, serving only 7,700 per day — less than Lawrence East SRT!
Outside of the downtown core, where the massive office density makes stations like St. Andrew hubs of walk-in or walk-out traffic, it’s the same across the system. Royal York Station, served by four bus routes, sees 20,000 passengers per day, while a kilometre away Old Mill has only one bus connection and serves only 6,600 passengers.
Glencairn station has no bus platform and only one connecting bus route and serves only 5,700 passengers, while Lawrence West and Eglinton West immediately north and south of it each have four bus routes coming into their platforms, and serve roughly three times as many passengers each.
If you want more passengers at Lawrence East, whether it’s an RT, LRT, subway, or GO station in the end, you just need to run the buses from the surrounding area into it. To some great extent, at least.
But if it’s a GO (RER or SmartTrack) station of some kind, you need something else, too. You need the fare to be the same as for transferring to a TTC vehicle. Back when I lived in Scarborough and travelled to Ryerson every day, my bus to Warden station travelled directly past two different GO stations. Transferring onto the GO train would have cut my commute time significantly. But my TTC transfer was no good there. I would have had to buy a GO ticket (about double the price of the TTC fare on its own) and then because of the TTC’s transfer rules, I also would have had to pay an additional TTC fare to take a subway from Union up to school. So my options were to pay quadruple the price to take the GO train or ride twice as long on the TTC. I was a broke student. Like most Scarborough to downtown commuters, I stayed on the bus.
Now, service at a TTC fare was part of MayorJohn Tory’s promise for SmartTrack. And the SmartTrack website today claims that these stations, though they will be operated by GO Transit, will be served by TTC buses. But I haven’t heard with any certainty that TTC fares will be honoured (Metrolinx makes frequent reference to “fare integration,” which sounds like wiggling to me), and I have seen no detailed plans for how SmartTack and the one-stop subway plan do or don’t change the bus-feeder network.
My sense, based not on expertise but on experience, is that the potential usefulness — and business — of a station like Lawrence East will depend directly on those two things. If we’re talking about that station, then alongside the behind-the-scenes intrigue and the talk of development potential, we should be talking about buses and fares.
Edward Keenan writes on city issues firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow: @thekeenanwire
Here's how to make the Lawrence East SmartTrack station a success: Keenan
Score another win for Donald Trump’s high-handed version of protectionism. Monday’s decision by Montreal-based Bombardier to give away control over its much-vaunted C Series jet virtually guarantees that the U.S. will get the lion’s share of any new jobs created.
It also threatens to saddle taxpayers in Quebec and the rest of Canada with a good chunk of the $6 billion debt Bombardier incurred developing the jet.
How did Canada’s most important state-subsidized, high-tech company get into this mess? The long answer is complicated and involves corporate incompetence as well as the geopolitics of the global aerospace industry.
The short answer is the election of America First advocate Trump as U.S. president.
The latest chapter of this ongoing saga began in April when American aerospace giant Boeing formally complained to the U.S. Commerce Department about Bombardier’s proposed sale of 125 C Series jets to Delta Air Lines.
Charging that the project had been improperly subsidized by the Canadian and Quebec governments, Boeing asked that an 80 per cent tariff be slapped on any C Series plane entering the U.S.
The Trump administration was more than agreeable. It imposed a preliminary tariff of 300 per cent, thereby making the Canadian-manufactured jet virtually unsalable in the lucrative U.S. market.
That posed a real problem.
Bombardier’s solution was quite simple. It was to move production of planes intended for the U.S. market to a plant in Alabama.
That non-union plant is owned by the European aerospace giant Airbus.
For Airbus, the arrangement is sweet. In return for letting Bombardier use its Alabama plant, it gets just over 50 per cent of the C Series project for free. It doesn’t have to pony up a cent.
Nor does it have to absorb any of Bombardier’s sizable $8.7 billion debt, much of which was incurred developing the C Series.
For Bombardier too, this is a good deal. By moving assembly from Canada to the U.S., it avoids the 300 per cent tariff and keeps the Delta sale alive. As well, it gets to locate its American production in a so-called right-to-work state that promises cheap wages and is vehemently anti-union.
While it no longer controls the C Series, Bombardier does get to keep a 31 per cent stake in the project for at least 7.5 years. And it can take advantage of Airbus’ global reach to market the jet.
I am not sure that this is such a good deal for Quebec. Its 49.5 per cent stake in the project, for which it paid $1.25 billion, has been whittled down to just over 19 per cent.
Ottawa has sunk less into Bombardier. Its latest contribution to the C Series bailout was a $372.5 million loan — which it might get back. Bombardier has repaid roughly one half of the $1.3 billion in federal loans it and its predecessor companies were given between 1996 and 2008.
But the Airbus deal effectively marks another failure in Canada’s long-running efforts to nurture a homegrown aerospace industry. It seems we are not big enough to go it alone.
Economic benefits? The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which represents Bombardier’s Montreal plant, says it is pleased that the roughly 2,000 people working on the C Series there are to keep their jobs.
But the question of where new jobs might go remains unresolved.
Certainly, Alabama will get any new jobs involved in the manufacture of jets for the U.S. market. State Governor Kay Ivey has already issued a press release welcoming them. But where will the project’s new owner, Airbus, locate production for other markets?
It could choose Bombardier’s unionized plant in Montreal and win the eternal gratitude of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Or it could choose its cheaper, non-union plant in Alabama and score points with protectionist Trump who, whether you like him or not, is still the most powerful man in the world.
Thomas Walkom appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Bombardier jet giveaway hands Donald Trump another victory: Walkom
Sidewalk Labs, sister company of Google, is officially confirmed to have won a competition to build a new high-tech neighbourhood called Quayside on the east downtown waterfront.
Waterfront Toronto, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Premier Kathleen Wynne, Mayor John Tory and Sidewalk Lab officials are making the announcement at Corus Quay today.
The board of Waterfront Toronto, the federal-provincial-city agency overseeing the so-called Quayside project, is expected to vote at an Oct. 20 meeting whether to confirm the agency’s staff recommendation arising from a rigorous competitive bid process launched in May.
If confirmed by Waterfront Toronto’s board, the choice of a firm owned by Google holding company Alphabet Inc. would be a big high-tech feather in the cap of the city currently chasing the second headquarters of Amazon and other innovation opportunities.
Quayside is envisioned by the agency as a testbed for cutting-edge technology as well as a bustling, functioning neighbourhood, with homes, offices, retail and cultural space, near Queens Quay E. and Parliament St.
Sidewalk Labs is Alphabet’s urban innovation unit, with a stated goal of “reimagining cities from the Internet up.”
Dan Doctoroff, the company’s chief executive and co-founder, told a conference in New York City last May that his company was “looking into developing a large-scale district” to act as its smart city test bed.
The community would be universally connected by broadband and could have, Doctoroff said, prefab modular housing, sensors to constantly monitor building performance, and robotic delivery services to cut residential storage space, The Architects’ Newspaper reported in May.
Improving transportation would be a focus, possibly with self-driving cars and design to encourage biking and walking, he told the conference. World-leading environmental sustainability could include thermal exchange systems to capture wasted building heat, and smart sensors to limit energy use.
Waterfront Toronto says the 4.9-hectare (12-acre) site will be “a testbed for emerging technologies, materials and processes that will address these challenges and advance solutions that can be replicated in cities worldwide.”
The agency said the winning bidder must propose plans to foster sustainability, resiliency and urban innovation; complete communities with a range of housing types for families of all sizes and income levels; economic development and prosperity driving innovation that will be rolled out to the rest of the world; and partnership and investment ensuring a solid financial foundation that secures revenue and manages financial risk.
Development of the three publicly owned blocks at the east end of Queens Quay will eventually include redesign and reconstruction of the intersection of Queens Quay and Parliament St.
Toronto tech leaders at a Smart Cities event in Toronto last May said the city is on the cusp of a tech boom, noting talk of Google interest in the city and Uber’s decision to make Toronto a hub for driverless car research.
Google firm wins competition to build high-tech Quayside neighbourhood in TorontoGoogle firm wins competition to build high-tech Quayside neighbourhood in TorontoGoogle firm wins competition to build high-tech Quayside neighbourhood in TorontoGoogle firm wins competition to build high-tech Quayside neighbourhood in Toronto
WASHINGTON—The good vibes are gone.
In the clearest public indication that talks over the North American Free Trade Agreement are going poorly, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland blasted the U.S. for the first time on Tuesday while U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer blasted Canada and Mexico.
They were standing beside each other at an awkward joint appearance in Washington to mark the end of the fourth round of negotiations over the U.S.-initiated effort to revamp the 23-year-old continental free trade pact.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and members of his government, including Freeland, had until Tuesday maintained a chipper public tone about the talks even as the mood at the bargaining table darkened.
No longer. Freeland denounced the U.S. for “an approach that seeks to undermine NAFTA rather than modernize it,” warning that the “unconventional” proposals from President Donald Trump’s administration would “turn back the clock” and put tens of thousands of jobs at risk.
Lighthizer, meanwhile, criticized both Canada and Mexico for what he called a “resistance to change,” saying he was “surprised and disappointed” they were obviously acting to defend the “unfair advantage” possessed by Canadian and Mexican companies.
The three parties announced that they would take the trade equivalent of a timeout, starting the fifth round of negotiations a month from now rather than their usual two weeks.
In a joint statement, the three countries agreed there were “significant conceptual gaps among the parties.” They said they had “called upon all negotiators to explore creative ways to bridge these gaps.”
They spoke at the end of a weeklong round at which U.S. negotiators delivered demands so unpalatable to Canada and Mexico that trade experts were left wondering if Trump, who has been publicly noncommittal, preferred to blow up the talks rather than reach a new deal.
Freeland and her office previously criticized specific U.S. proposals. But this was the first time she, or any other top Canadian official, publicly expressed broad concern about the state of the talks or the American approach.
Freeland was most forceful on the subject of U.S. automotive proposals, warning that they would “put in jeopardy tens of thousands of jobs across North America.” Among other significant changes, the U.S. has proposed a new rule requiring that 50 per cent of car content be made in the United States.
“We have said this from the beginning: we will maintain and defend the elements of NAFTA that Canadians consider essential to the national interest,” she said.
Lighthizer railed against trade deficits, which economists say are inconsequential but Trump considers paramount.
“We have seen no indication that our partners are willing to make any changes that will result in a rebalancing and a reduction in these huge trade deficits,” Lighthizer said — minutes after Freeland noted that the U.S. actually has a trade surplus with Canada.
Trudeau had professed “optimism” during a visit to Washington last week. He did, however, acknowledge Trump’s unpredictability, and he said repeatedly that Canada was “ready for anything.”
The current list of U.S. demands vehemently opposed by Canada includes:
• A “sunset clause” that would automatically terminate the deal in five years if all three countries did not endorse it again at that time.
• A rule requiring all cars to be made with 50 per cent American content if they are to be exempted from tariffs.
• The dismantling of Canada’s protectionist supply management system for dairy and poultry.
• A “Buy American” procurement policy sharply limiting Canadian and Mexican access to U.S. government contracts.
• The end of the current independent tribunal system for resolving NAFTA disputes.
Trudeau, Trump governments slam each other publicly for first time as NAFTA talks falter
SMITHS FALLS, ONT.— Joshua Boyle, a Canadian who was rescued with his family last week by Pakistani troops, said Tuesday that his wife had to be rushed to the hospital and remains there.
Boyle told The Associated Press in an email that his wife, Caitlan Boyle, was admitted Monday. His email did not specify why she was taken to the hospital.
“My first concern has to be the health of my wife and children,” Boyle wrote.
He also declined to offer any details about his wife’s condition following an inquiry from The Canadian Press.
“We really just need the world to have some patience and compassion, some propriety and decorum,” he wrote in an email. “Please, give it a couple days.”
Boyle, his American wife and their three children were rescued Wednesday, five years after the couple was abducted in Afghanistan on a backpacking trip. Four children were born in captivity.
Joshua Boyle said after landing at Toronto’s airport on Friday that the Taliban-linked Haqqani network killed an infant daughter and raped his wife during the years they were held.
In prior email exchange with AP, Boyle did not respond to a question about the fourth child but later told the CBC that it was a forced abortion. The Taliban said in a statement it was a miscarriage.
On Monday, Boyle told the AP that he and his wife decided to have children even while held captive because they always planned to have a big family and decided, “Hey, let’s make the best of this and at least go home with a larger start on our dream family.”
“We’re sitting as hostages with a lot of time on our hands,” Boyle told AP. “We always wanted as many as possible, and we didn’t want to waste time. Cait’s in her 30s, the clock is ticking.”
Boyle said their three children are now 4, 2 and “somewhere around 6 months.”
“Honestly we’ve always planned to have a family of 5, 10, 12 children ... We’re Irish, haha,” he wrote in an email.
The parents of Caitlan Boyle have said they are elated she is free, but also angry at their son-in law for taking their daughter to Afghanistan.
“Taking your pregnant wife to a very dangerous place, to me, and the kind of person I am, is unconscionable,” Caitlan’s father, Jim Coleman said, told ABC News.
—With files from Canadian Press
Caitlan Coleman, recently freed hostage, admitted to hospital
An Ontario judge has approved Sears Canada’s request to reduce its retention bonus for about three dozen head office staff who will stay through the retailer’s liquidation process, which begins its next phase on Thursday.
The total amount that could be paid under the retention plan for head office executives and staff has been cut by $1.1 million following a number of departures, which has reduced the number of eligible employees to 36 from 43. That is down from a total pot of $7.6 million when the insolvent retailer’s restructuring process first began in June.
But some of the retailer’s former employees said after Wednesday’s hearing that they think too much money and time are being spent to coax executives to stay.
“I’m really upset. Really upset. I’m upset,” said Mina Iannino, who struggled to express her “disgust” with the way employees have been treated during the Sears Canada windup.
The employees who are being kept for the liquidation “should just walk out and leave this company high and dry and to lose something,” Iannino told reporters.
Jennifer Holder, a laid-off cosmetics sales person, said she “cannot believe that they’re still worried about securing bonuses for executives when the employees are looking at going through a Christmas season with no real job.”
“Everything they’re doing in this process is to secure themselves some form of a bonus, when everyone else is looking at unemployment, (and without) enough money in the hardship fund to take care of employees across Canada.”
Under the court-approved employee retention plan for Sears Canada, executives would forfeit their bonus if they leave voluntarily or are fired “for cause” — a legal term meaning some sort of contract violation or wrongdoing.
Under the revised plan, the key head office employees can earn their bonuses if they stay with the company until next March or April, depending on the person.
Before granting the company’s revised retention bonus plan, Justice Glenn Hainey got assurances that there are no additional funds being approved beyond the $7.6 million that was originally approved for head office bonuses.
About half of the original bonuses for head office executives has been used up since Sears Canada entered court protection in June. That would have left $3.9 million in the bonus plan prior Wednesday’s court approval, but now only $2.8 million will be allocated for the remainder of the windup.
The retailer currently has 74 full department store locations, eight Sears Home Stores and 49 Sears Hometown stores, which all face closure.
Wednesday is the last day Sears Canada will honour extended warranties as the retailer prepares to start liquidation sales Thursday.
Sears Canada said earlier this week that only customers who bought a protection agreement within the past 30 days could get refunds from paying for extended coverage.
It said most merchandise it sells comes with a one-year manufacturer’s warranty, which will be available to customers directly from the manufacturers.
The company said it still looking for a buyer for its repair business, but it’s not know if a sale will go through or under what terms the repair service would operate.
Sears Canada employees angered by bonus plan for key executives
The legal battle over whether to revoke a death certificate for a Brampton woman on life support continued Wednesday, with a doctor telling court that four physicians have declared Taquisha McKitty dead.
Dr. Omar Hayani at Brampton Civic Hospital on Sept. 20 determined that McKitty’s brain had ceased functioning, which constitutes death in Ontario.
Her family, represented by lawyer Hugh Scher, argues that she is alive and hopes to have her death certificate revoked.
Judge Lucille Shaw granted a two-week injunction to keep McKitty on life support on Sept. 28.
McKitty, a 27-year-old mother of a nine-year-old daughter, is currently on a ventilator.
Dr. Andrew Healey, head of the critical care at Brampton Civic Hospital, told the court that McKitty is moving, but said her movements were automatisms and spinal reflexes, which are consistent with brain dead patients. He said that physicians assess her twice a day, in addition to care from nurses, who do not necessarily track her movements.
Scher told court that McKitty has the capacity to breathe but Healey disagreed.
“She does not have the capacity to breathe,” Healey said. “I would assert that the ventilator is doing all the work.”
Scher also told court that McKitty is menstruating, a statement Healey also disagreed with.
“I am aware that there was vaginal bleeding,” said Healey, who argued that the phenomenon is not necessarily menstruation and that brain function is not necessary to menstruate.
Healey testified that a blood test on Sept. 29 revealed that McKitty had hormones in her blood, which are produced by the hypothalamus, a part of the brain.
Scher argued that the presence of hormones, nine days after McKitty was declared dead, indicates that she was actually alive. Healey disagreed, stating that the presence of hormones in blood does not indicate that the hypothalamus is actively producing those hormones.
Healey said the hospital gave McKitty the thyroid hormone L-thyroxine after she was declared dead, which can help to preserve organs, should a patient or their family consent to donating them.
Healey said that L-thyroxine would not have been given to McKitty if she was alive as her blood tests indicated that she would not need it.
Healey told the court that “the effect of this case has been troubling on our unit.”
“(The nurses) have no idea what to do,” having never dealt with a patient presumed dead at such a length, he said.
The courtroom on Wednesday was significantly larger than previous ones, to accommodate a large group of family and friends in support of McKitty.
McKitty had overdosed on a combination of cocaine, cannabinoids, benzodiazepine and oxycodone.
Healey will continue to testify Thursday, along with Dr. Andrew Baker, the chief of critical care at St. Michael’s Hospital who ran tests on McKitty after the Sept. 28 court injunction.
Brampton woman on life support doesn’t have ‘capacity to breathe,’ doctor tells court
Greater Toronto Area municipalities are putting in a prime order with Amazon for 50,000 well-paying jobs.
The region’s formal bid to win the hotly contested competition for Seattle-based Amazon’s second headquarters will be submitted Thursday by Toronto Global, the arms-length group representing local municipalities.
But Ed Clark, the former TD Bank president and CEO who serves as Premier Kathleen Wynne’s business adviser, says the province “is not offering any new financial incentives to Amazon, nor any incentives that are not available to others who seek to grow or locate such jobs here.”
“As a businessman, I like this approach; successful firms want to be in jurisdictions that are inherently attractive, and that will remain so in the future,” Clark said at a Canadian Club speech at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel on Wednesday.
“This is doubly true if you are locating a head office. Companies want jurisdictions that invest in educated workforces, have livable cities, and put out a welcome mat for the best talent to bring their energy and ideas from anywhere in the world.”
But Clark, who was asked by Wynne to coordinate the province’s support for Ontario cities wanting to bid on the Amazon project, insisted Queen’s Park isn’t sitting on its hands.
That’s why the government is investing in “talent” that will help the region, regardless of whether the firm comes.
“No special deals. We are offering Amazon the best place in the world to do business,” he said.
The Ontario government announced Wednesday it would boost “support for students in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines, including artificial intelligence, to continue to build a highly skilled workforce and support job creation and economic growth.”
The hope is to increase the number of graduates in those disciplines by 25 per cent over the next five years, from 40,000 to 50,000 annually.
As well, the province will spend $30 million to work with the Vector Institute, of which Clark is the chair, to increase the number of professional applied masters’ graduates in artificial intelligence to 1,000 a year within five years.
That’s designed to help the Ontario municipalities, including the Toronto region, Ottawa, and Hamilton, vying for Amazon’s headquarters.
Amazon has attracted bids from Boston, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Washington, and a slew of other cities for its second head office.
Another Canadian city submitted its bid Wednesday as Halifax announced its pitch. But even the bid’s biggest proponent admits it’s a long shot.
Mayor Mike Savage would not reveal specifics about the city’s submission for the company’s new headquarters, but said Halifax’s quality of life was emphasized. Savage said he’s aware Halifax does not meet all the requirements, but said that doesn’t mean the city is not a “serious competitor.”
Clark stressed the political realities stateside may make it difficult to create jobs in Canada, instead of the U.S. when a final decision is announced next year.
“We all recognize the political issues for Amazon in picking a location outside the U.S. borders. It’s a big obstacle and it’s no secret. We know that the ultimate decision may not be based on business metrics alone.
“These days, politics south of the border is unpredictable,” he said.
Indeed, U.S. President Donald Trump often attacks Amazon on Twitter and its founder Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post.
“If that’s not a constraint, we’re hands-down the winner,” added Clark.
“The American dream hasn’t died; it just lives here in Canada.”
Amazon, the online shopping giant that already employs 380,000 people, is promising to bring the winning city up to 50,000 jobs, which pay an average annual salary of $100,000 (U.S.)
“We expect to invest over $5 billion in construction and grow this second headquarters to . . . be a full equal to our current campus in Seattle,” the company said in September.
“In addition to Amazon’s direct hiring and investment, construction and ongoing operation of Amazon HQ2 is expected to create tens of thousands of additional jobs and tens of billions of dollars in additional investment in the surrounding community.”
On Tuesday, Toronto’s bid got a boost from another American tech powerhouse.
Dan Doctoroff, the New York-based chief executive of Sidewalk Labs, the Google sister company that plans to transform the east downtown waterfront into a model clean tech community, hailed the city.
“If Amazon sees what we see in Toronto, they should be coming here,” Doctoroff told the Star’s David Rider.
Toronto Mayor John Tory has been a big backer of the regional bid.
Tory has emphasized that Toronto, already the third-largest tech sector in North America, trailing only San Francisco and New York, is home to 11 universities and colleges offering more than 60 technology-related programs.
The region’s cultural diversity is also seen a plus with the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area welcoming 100,000 immigrants a year and local residents speaking more than 150 different languages.
Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid acknowledged that some other jurisdictions will get into a bidding war for Amazon’s headquarters, offering tax breaks, cash incentives and infrastructure improvements.
“We’re not going to buy Amazon to come here. We don’t need to buy Amazon to come here, because we have the competitiveness and the best talent in North America today,” the minister said.
With files from The Canadian Press
Ontario to bid for Amazon HQ2 by investing in education, not offering incentives
A Toronto physician who was found to have stroked a patient’s buttocks, routinely hugged and kissed her and once said she would be a “good lover” has lost his licence.
A discipline panel of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario ordered earlier this month that Dr. William “Art” Beairsto, who practised family medicine and psychotherapy in Leaside, should not only have his licence revoked for sexual abuse, but also post credit in the amount of $16,000 to cover therapy costs for the patient, known as Patient A.
The college will not confirm if it referred the case to the police, only that it complied with its policy on “reporting physicians’ acts to the police.”
The October 2015 policy states, among other things, that the college will forward a copy of its discipline decision to police in “any matter that raises issues of physician criminal actions.” The college said it is barred by law from providing a patient’s name to police unless the patient consents.
The case again highlights that there is no provision in law that makes it mandatory for all health professional colleges to report complaints about members to the police, something that has divided lawyers and advocates.
Toronto police said that Beairsto is not facing criminal charges. The 69-year-old physician was found guilty of sexual abuse by a panel of the college’s discipline committee in August 2016, and had been suspended since November. His lawyer declined to comment to the Star.
Since the passage of Bill 87 in May, it is mandatory that a physician found guilty of groping be immediately suspended pending the outcome of their penalty hearing, where their licence must now be revoked.
Beairsto’s lawyers had argued at his penalty hearing in March that the amendments to the Regulated Health Professions Act brought in by Bill 87 should not apply because his case came before the passage of the bill. They argued to extend his suspension by three months, coupled with further training and supervision.
Before Bill 87, a discipline panel still had the discretion to impose penalties when it came to groping. Indeed, the panel was harshly criticized as recently as 2016 for handing down suspensions for groping, rather than revoking licences.
But the four-member panel in the Beairsto case agreed with the college’s lawyer that the provisions in Bill 87 were retroactive and that the doctor should lose his licence. Even if not for Bill 87, the panel said they would still have revoked his licence.
“Counsel for Dr. Beairsto argued that the legislative changes should not be applied retrospectively because the imposition of mandatory revocation would be punitive, and that different strategic decisions with respect to his defence might have been made had they known that mandatory revocation was a possibility,” the panel wrote.
The panel noted that Beairsto had previously come under the college’s radar in 2010 for a complaint of “egregious boundary crossings/violations” with a patient. That complaint was never sent to a public discipline hearing.
Instead, Beairsto was cautioned in secret, ordered to participate in a psychotherapy support group, and stop seeing patients with certain significant personality disorders, among other things.
The issue of whether sexual abuse by physicians should always be reported by the colleges to the police has been the subject of debate.
An independent task force, set up in the wake of a Star investigation on doctors still at work after sexually abusing their patients, specifically recommended against a mandatory reporting rule in its final report to Health Minister Eric Hoskins. Some of the task force’s recommendations formed part of Bill 87.
“Understandably, we all wish for a simple solution to a complex problem in our society,” wrote chair Marilou McPhedran, now a senator, and Sheila Macdonald, provincial co-ordinator of sexual assault and domestic violence treatment centres in Ontario.
“The task force notes that patients who have experienced sexual abuse by a health professional have, and should continue to have, the option to report the abuse to the police and proceed through the criminal justice system process, should they so choose.
“However, the task force asserts that choice is essential for patients who have experienced abuse and that the patient must retain agency and control as the decision-maker in these situations.”
At the CPSO, part of its policy is that it will offer to assist a complainant in filing a report to the police if they choose to do so.
Medical malpractice lawyer Paul Harte disagrees with some aspects of the task force’s findings, and said colleges should always be reporting to police, and include the name of the complainant whether or not they have consent.
“The task force was, rightfully so, very much focused on the complainant, but I think you need to balance that against the need to protect the public,” said Harte.
“We have to have some faith in the police that they're going to be able to handle these situations, in the same way they handle other sexual abuse allegations.”
Aside from finding Beairsto stroked Patient A’s buttocks, other findings the discipline panel made against him last year included:
The committee found Beairsto’s description of the encounter to be unprofessional.
“It is so outside the norm of what is a professional way to communicate medical information that, even if not salacious as alleged, it is completely inappropriate, and the committee finds Dr. Beairsto’s conduct to be disgraceful, dishonourable or unprofessional,” the committee said.
Leaside doctor who groped, kissed patient loses licence
A pilot project to bring electric-vehicle charging stations to a handful of overnight on-street parking spots will quietly roll to city council.
Councillors on the public works committee on Wednesday endorsed the experiment, which will see 12 outlets installed on a half-dozen hydro poles in three city wards home to some of the biggest concentrations of electric vehicles.
If the one-year experiment is approved by full council, charging stations will appear in Ward 19 Trinity-Spadina, Ward 30 Toronto-Danforth, and Ward 32 Beaches-East York. Drivers will use credit cards to pay for overnight charging.
As of last year there were 1,600 electric vehicles in Toronto, a number expected to rise quickly. About 80 per cent are charged at owners’ homes.
Commercial charging stations, primarily downtown, help out the others but roughly 53,000 Torontonians with on-street parking, rather than driveways, are largely frozen out of the electric vehicle revolution sweeping much of the world, the committee heard.
James Scarrow, a Ward 24 resident who has ordered an electric vehicle, told councillors he was shocked to learn he can’t pay the city to install a charger for him within reach of on-street parking near his home.
“The EVs are here now and there is a tidal wave of EVs coming . . . ,” he said, suggesting the pilot project doesn’t do enough to prepare Toronto for the shift away from fossil-fuel transportation. “I’m pretty close to having to cancel a purchase of an electrical vehicle for this reason.”
The project would also see one station with two chargers outside Toronto Hydro’s facility at 500 Commissioners St.
And a previously approved, but delayed, downtown pilot project to put a total of five short-term chargers at Ed Mirvish Way, Wellington St. W. and Elizabeth St. is expected to go forward next month.
City-owned Toronto Hydro will fund installations. The city would pay $6,000 for signage and painted markings for the on-street overnight spots, and $40,000 for infrastructure to accommodate the short-term spots.
Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon, who would get some chargers in her Ward 32, welcomed the pilot but called the scope of it “pretty timid.”
Councillor Mike Layton, whose Ward 19 residents would also see chargers, said getting people out of cars altogether is best for the environment but, when people require a vehicle, electric is best.
“This is a shift that’s going on globally and we need to be part of it,” he said before the committee voted for approval with the caveat that, at all the spots, drivers must pay the electricity cost.
Councillor Stephen Holyday asked city staff about opportunities for private companies to help get power to on-street parkers, adding “I suspect there might be an opportunity for the city to make some money here.”
The lone vote in opposition was Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, who questioned gasoline-using drivers paying taxes that subsidize a tiny minority of EV users. His proposal, that users of the new charging stations bear all the costs of installation and operation, failed.
Charging stations for on-street parking get a boost in Toronto
A man who badly injured a woman when he tried to kill himself by driving his car into a hydro pole has had his jail sentence effectively cut in half.
In finding the sentencing judge had gone too far, Ontario’s top court ruled on Wednesday that Constantinus Dedeckere should be released after having spent one year behind bars.
“Without minimizing the seriousness of the offence and the impact on the victim, a sentence of time served and two years probation is fit and adequate to reflect the principles of sentencing including proportionality,” the Appeal Court said.
The case arose in July 2015 when Dedeckere, then 58 and on temporary leave from a mental-health facility in London, Ont., drove his Chevy Malibu at high speed into a hydro pole on a rural road, knocking out power to Port Stanley, Ont., and spraying debris.
A woman driver, 74, slammed into the wreckage and was critically injured, requiring surgery and rehabilitation.
According to court records, the married father of four opted to attempt suicide that day after the Law Society of Upper Canada notified him he was being disbarred as a lawyer.
Dedeckere, who had a long history of mental illness and failed suicide attempts, pleaded guilty to criminal negligence causing bodily harm.
At sentencing, 14 impact statements were filed with the court. The prosecution called for a prison sentence of up to two-and-a-half years; the defence wanted a suspended sentence and three years probation.
In October 2016, Ontario court judge John Skowronski accepted that Dedeckere was a first-time offender, had pleaded guilty, and regretted what he had done. However, the judge called the “offence itself” an aggravating factor given the woman’s injuries.
Skowronski noted Dedeckere hadn’t thought his suicide plan through or considered how it might affect other road users.
“It is important to dissuade those who may be self-destructive from acting on such ideations to their detriment, and from exposing the innocent bystanders, as it were, to possible physical danger,” Skowronski said.
Skowronski sentenced him to two years in a penitentiary, followed by three years probation and a six-year driving ban.
Dedeckere appealed the sentence, arguing Skowronski focused too heavily on denunciation and deterrence, and failed to consider his psychiatric issues and rehabilitation.
The Court of Appeal agreed, saying the usual deference accorded a sentencing judge was not justified in this case.
Skowronski, the Appeal Court said, blamed Dedeckere for wanting to kill himself without considering how his bipolar disorder and depression had impaired his judgment.
“The sentencing judge determined that specific deterrence could only be met by a custodial term due to the appellant being chronically suicidal,” the Appeal Court said. “(But) specific deterrence has little relevance in the context of suicide, and general deterrence is a factor of decreased significance when sentencing those whose behaviour is driven by mental illness.”
The upshot, the court found, was that the sentence was unfit.
In re-sentencing him the Appeal Court noted that Dedeckere is now over 60, and alcohol and drugs played no role in the offence.
“There was no dispute that his sole intention was to kill himself,” the Appeal Court said. “He is genuinely remorseful for what he did. He has a loving and supportive family including his wife, four children, and two grandchildren.”
The Appeal Court sentenced Dedeckere to time served — the year he spent in prison — and two years probation.
Suicidal motorist who badly injured 74-year-old woman has jail sentence reduced
MONTREAL—One of Quebec’s most popular and powerful television personalities is taking a “professional pause” after the publication of a report alleging he has a lengthy history of subjecting those in his employ to harassment and engaging in inappropriate sexual behaviour.
Eric Salvail has won numerous awards for his zany late-night talk show and just last month co-hosted the Prix Gémeaux, the French version of the Gemini awards for television and film excellence.
When former prime minister Stephen Harper set out to woo voters in this province during the 2015 election, he treated Salvail’s television audience to a pitchy version of the Beatles song, “Let it Be.”
Salvail also runs a production company, Salvail & Co., that has shows airing on public broadcasters Radio-Canada and the provincially-run Tele-Quebec. In addition to that, he hosts a radio show on French-language station Rouge FM, which is owned by Bell Media.
A report published Wednesday morning in La Presse cited 11 individuals who have come forward to complain about the harassment, abuse and inappropriate sexual behaviour they were subjected to while working for or in the company of Salvail.
They include incidents in which he allegedly made inappropriate sexual comments to his employees, where he touched employees suggestively against their will and where he exposed himself.
“In a meeting he stood up, he took out his penis and he asked what I would do to excite him,” said one person who spoke to La Presse on condition of anonymity.
The Star has not been able to independently verify any of the alleged incidents.
Salvail said in a statement published to his Facebook page Wednesday that he was taking a “professional pause of several days” to deal with the allegations made against him.
“I was shaken by what was published this morning. I’m approaching this situation with an enormous amount of empathy for those who I may have made to feel uncomfortable or hurt. I never meant to bother anyone,” he wrote.
“In such circumstances, I am lucky to have the support of my friends, my colleagues and my partner. I have chosen to take a professional pause of several days, a pause that will permit me to focus on these events.”
Salvail’s lawyer, Jacques Jeansonne, refused to comment on the allegations against his client.
Calls to Radio-Canada, V Télé, Télé-Québec and Bell Media seeking reaction to the allegations were not immediately returned.
In a news release, Group V Média, which broadcasts the talk show En Mode Salvail, said it was suspending the show immediately for an undetermined period and would also be reconsidering its partnerships with Salvail’s production company.
Air Transat is also distancing itself from the entertainer. It had hired Salvail for a promotional contest in which he and the crew of a Boeing 737 were to have flown around the province of Quebec today picking up 75 winners and a guest of their choice before landing in Montreal to attend a taping of the entertainer’s talk show.
The carrier said in a series of tweets Wednesday that it had cancelled Salvail’s participation in the event but would honour the flights for contest winners.
“We believe this decision is the most appropriate in the circumstances as we wait for light to be shed on these allegations,” the tweet, in French, said.
One of the people alleging to have been victimized by Salvail is Marco Berardini, a stylist and Montreal native who now lives and works in Los Angeles.
Berardini said that in 2003 Salvail sought out his professional fashion advice in an awkward encounter during which the TV host changed into a pair of skimpy black underwear and asked the stylist: “Do you think I’m sexy?” Then Salvail allegedly made a show of adjusting the fabric.
“He didn’t masturbate, but he clearly wanted me to look at his penis,” Berardini told La Presse, adding that he sought shelter in the bathroom.
“I was panicked.”
Several months later, when Berardini was hired to work on a Salvail’s television show, he recounted crouching down to get something from his bag and being accosted by the entertainer.
“He said to me: ‘Wow! What an ass! You should bend down more often. You’re wearing those jeans just to excite me.’ Then he touched his inner thigh and said: ‘And I think it worked!’”
Another time, Berardini, told La Presse, he lost patience with Salvail’s unwanted overtures.
“He was standing in front of me and he touched my hair. He said: ‘You have such nice hair. I’d like to pull it while making love to you.’”
When he stood up to Salvail and told him to stop, the entertainer got angry and berated the stylist, telling him he was ugly, fat and incompetent.
“He just wanted to destroy me.”
Quebec television personality Eric Salvail taking ‘pause’ after reports of sexual misconduct
The Ontario Liberal government faced fierce blowback Wednesday after journalists, including the Star, uncovered allegations that the Environment Ministry ignored warnings from its own engineers about Sarnia’s Chemical Valley.
At Queen’s Park Wednesday, Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the revelations were “frightening” and “unbelievable.” The allegations, made in a leaked report, suggested the provincial government has for years disregarded concerns from the First Nations community of Aamjiwnaang — surrounded on three sides by petrochemical plants — and failed to heed engineers’ worries about the risk of industrial leaks with possibly irreversible health impacts.
“It’s absolutely irresponsible…If this is happening in Sarnia, where else is it happening?” Horwath said.
“What else is out there that we don’t know about, that this government is burying and not allowing to come to public light?”
The report came to light after an investigation by the Star, Global News, National Observer, the Michener Awards Foundation and journalism schools at Ryerson and Concordia universities revealed a troubling pattern of secrecy and potentially toxic leaks in the area known as Chemical Valley. There are 57 industrial polluters registered with the Canadian and U.S. governments within 25 kilometres of Sarnia.
The investigation also raised questions about whether companies and the provincial government are properly warning residents of Sarnia and the Aamjiwnaang First Nation when potentially toxic substances — including benzene, known to cause cancer at high levels of long-term exposure — are leaked.
The leaked report was presented to the staff of Environment Minister Chris Ballard on Sept. 20 and prepared by the union representing engineers working for the provincial government, the Professional Engineers Government of Ontario (PEGO).
In question period Wednesday, Ontario Environment Minister Chris Ballard said he’d have “tough questions” for his ministry about the allegations.
“My ministry is carefully reviewing the report that was provided to them by the union representing engineers and we take very seriously the concerns that it brought to our attention,” he said, adding that the ministry has a “very transparent” system to address such concerns.
On Monday, following the investigation, Ballard said the province would fund a study to examine the health impacts of pollution on the residents of Chemical Valley — something residents have been struggling to get for nearly a decade. Though Ballard has yet to commit to a timeline or process for the study, he also said the government would introduce stricter regulations in the coming weeks.
Existing public health data about the region is inconclusive, but critics have said the information, collected at the county level, misses the impact on people living in the immediate vicinity of so-called Chemical Valley.
On Tuesday, Federal Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said the situation in Chemical Valley — and Aamjiwnaang in particular — is “one of Canada’s top examples of environmental racism.”
With files from Robert Benzie, Carolyn Jarvis, Global News and National Observer
Ontario Liberals face blowback after allegations of ignored warnings in Sarnia’s Chemical Valley