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    Ontario’s post-secondary minister says it is “very troubling” that the province’s colleges and the union representing 12,000 striking faculty are not even trying to reach a deal.

    “I’m very worried about the impact the strike is having on students,” Deb Matthews, minister of advanced education and skills development, said Wednesday at Queen’s Park. “There’s a lot of anxiety, a lot of unanswered questions, and it’s very disappointing that the two parties have not yet found their way back to the table. I’m urging everybody to think of the students … why the parties aren’t bargaining is beyond me.”

    The strike by full-time and partial-load instructors at Ontario’s 24 colleges — now well into its second week— has left more than 300,000 students out of class.

    A petition calling on both sides to return to the table that also demands a tuition refund should the strike be prolonged, now has more than 108,000 signatures.

    Matthews met with petition organizers and Humber College students Greg Kung and Amir Allana on Wednesday, where they were told student loan funds “should not be a problem” and that the province has been reassured by the federal government that international students’ visas will not be affected by the strike.

    “Students have a lot of unanswered questions, they certainly have a lot of anxiety,” Matthews also told reporters. “This is really unfortunate that this is dragging on as long without them actually talking to each other.

    “If they were at the table, if they were hammering out the issues, I’d have a different opinion,” she added. “But the fact that they are not even finding a way to get to the table is very troubling.”

    Don Sinclair, CEO of the College Employer Council which bargains for the institutions, said he understands the minister’s frustrations as “the colleges are also frustrated because we believe this is an unnecessary strike that’s disrupted hundreds of thousands of students. Our faculty should be in the classroom teaching their students.”

    He said the union “has created this mess, they know where the settlement zone is in this, but refuse to seek it.”

    The union has previously said it modified its offer before hitting the picket lines. It is seeking about 9 per cent over three years, more academic control and a guarantee that at least 50 per cent of positions are full-time.

    The colleges raised their salary offer to 7.75 per cent over four years, and Sinclair said there is “language that gives preference” to full-time hiring.

    “Quite frankly, we need them to come back to the table with practical proposals — ones that are affordable to our system and will not be harmful to the quality of programs,” Sinclair added.

    As it stands now, the two sides are about $250 million apart on salary and staffing costs, something union bargaining lead J.P. Hornick has said is not a lot when spread out among the 24 colleges.

    At Queen’s Park, opposition PC Leader Patrick Brown said he wants the government to put pressure on the union and colleges, saying “the premier has lots of tools at her disposal … the hands-off approach isn’t working.”

    NDP MPP Peter Tabuns blamed underfunding for the labour strife, saying the Liberals “have neglected this sector. They have caused this problem. Maybe they are going to have to look at bailing out the students” by refunding tuition.

    Kung and Allana said they are counting on the provincial government to take some “tangible action to bring both parties to the table.

    “From where we stand, we don’t see them doing it on their own,” said Allana. “We respect the process, we want bargaining to happen, but it won’t happen with the two sides not talking at all.”

    They are particularly worried about students losing apprenticeship hours that may not be recoverable when the strike is over.

    On Tuesday during Question Period, NDP MPP Cindy Forster asked Premier Kathleen Wynne about the strike, saying the “overuse of part-time faculty has ballooned to a shocking 81 per cent at colleges across Ontario. Instructors are forced to string together multiple contracts across multiple colleges, and many are required to find additional employment just to make ends meet.” She said impending labour legislation that will mandate equal pay for equal work “means nothing if the government refuses to support more full-time faculty positions.”

    Wynne said “let me just say that we want to see students back in college classrooms as soon as humanly possible … I have committed to them and to all who have asked me that we’ll do everything we can to encourage both sides to get back to the table.”

    Minister ‘very troubled’ by lack of talks between colleges, union Minister ‘very troubled’ by lack of talks between colleges, unionMinister ‘very troubled’ by lack of talks between colleges, union Minister ‘very troubled’ by lack of talks between colleges, union

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    WASHINGTON—U.S. President Donald Trump and fellow Republicans latched onto revelations tying Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign to a dossier of allegations about his ties to Russia, saying Wednesday that it was a “disgrace” that Democrats had helped pay for research that produced the document.

    “It’s just really — it’s a very sad commentary on politics in this country,” Trump said in addressing reporters one day after news reports revealed that the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, for several months last year, helped fund research that ultimately ended up in the dossier.

    The document, compiled by a former British spy and alleging a compromised relationship between Trump and the Kremlin, has emerged this year as a political flashpoint. Law enforcement officials have worked to corroborate its claims. James Comey, FBI director at the time, advised Trump about the existence of the allegations, and the ex-spy who helped assemble the document, Christopher Steele, has been questioned as part of an ongoing probe of possible co-ordination between Russia and the Trump camp,

    Read more:

    Clinton campaign, DNC helped fund research that produced Trump-Russia dossier, source says

    Trump suggests FBI may have ‘paid for’ dossier alleging Russia ties

    U.S. Senate probe into possible Trump-Russia collusion ‘still open,’ panel says

    Trump has derided the document as “phoney stuff” and “fake news” and portrayed himself Wednesday as an aggrieved party, posting on Twitter a quote he said was from Fox News that referred to him as “the victim.” The new disclosure about the dossier’s origins is likely to fuel complaints by Trump and his supporters that the document is merely a collection of salacious and uncorroborated claims.

    “Well, I think it’s very sad what they’ve done with this fake dossier,” Trump said Wednesday, adding without elaboration that “they paid a tremendous amount of money.” He contended that Democrats had initially denied any connection to the document, but now, “they admitted it, and they’re embarrassed by it.”

    A person familiar with the newly disclosed dossier matter, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss confidential client matters, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the funding arrangement was brokered in the spring of 2016 by a law firm representing the Clinton campaign and the DNC and that it lasted until right before Election Day.

    In March of that year, the person said, the law firm of Perkins Coie was approached by Fusion GPS, a political research firm behind the dossier that had already been doing research work for Trump on behalf of an unidentified client during the GOP primary. Fusion GPS expressed interest in continuing to create opposition research on Trump, and Perkins Coie then engaged it in April 2016 “to perform a variety of research services during the 2016 election cycle,” according to a letter obtained by AP.

    The identity of the original client has not been revealed, though Trump hinted Wednesday that it could eventually become public.

    “I have one name in mind,” the president said.

    It’s unclear what Fusion GPS had dug up by the time the law firm hired it, or how much money was involved in the transaction. The attorney who helped create the arrangement, Marc Elias, did not immediately return an email seeking comment, and representatives of Fusion GPS declined to comment. The Washington Post first reported the funding deal.

    The new disclosure placed fresh attention on the world of opposition research and the techniques that political campaigns employ. Trump Jr.’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., received public scrutiny when it was revealed in July that he had met one year earlier with Russians at Trump Tower after being told he would be receiving damaging information on Clinton. In that case, publicly released emails show that Trump Jr. had been told the information was part of a Russian government effort to aid his father.

    That meeting is being investigated by Robert Mueller, the Justice Department’s special counsel leading an investigation into whether Trump campaign aides co-ordinated with Russia to influence the outcome of the election.

    In a statement, a DNC spokeswoman said the party chairman, Tom Perez, was not part of the decision-making and was unaware that Perkins Coie was working with Fusion GPS.

    “But let’s be clear, there is a serious federal investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, and the American public deserves to know what happened,” the statement said.

    Former Clinton campaign spokesperson Brian Fallon said on Twitter that he regretted not knowing about Steele’s hiring before the election, and that had he known, “I would have volunteered to go to Europe and try to help him.”

    “I have no idea what Fusion or Steele were paid, but if even a shred of that dossier ends up helping Mueller, it will prove money well spent,” he wrote in another tweet.

    Trump calls Clinton campaign’s funding for Russia info a ‘disgrace'Trump calls Clinton campaign’s funding for Russia info a ‘disgrace'

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    The colourful town square just got noisier.

    Toronto is a minority majority city at last, fully 51.5 per cent of us identify as visible minorities and almost half, or 48.8 per cent, do so in the GTA.

    “At last,” not because this fulfils a dire take-over-the-country prophecy by “foreigners,” but because in a capitalist society, this was inevitable.

    A census, like this latest 2016 data from Statistics Canada is rarely just about numbers, or about sorting and counting the people in statistically correct ways.

    The data shows us who we are — not just what the colour of our skin is, or the faiths that we follow, but what values we truly cherish.

    The data tells us stories.

    It also casts light on how we understand race. In Toronto, for instance, should people of colour still be called visible minorities if they’re not a minority any more?

    This is a messy question with no easy answers. The largest minority group in the city, now, consists of people who identify as whites. The heterogenous rest are still a coalition of minority groups, a unifying factor being that they’re not white. (This group of minorities does not include Indigenous peoples.) Ideally, humans would have no labels, but discrimination based on these identities exist; not acknowledging that would erase those discriminatory experiences.

    On the Indigenous front, the data offered heartening evidence of resilience; the news that Indigenous populations are seeing an unprecedented boom in the modern history of this land. This is due to higher fertility rates, but also the willingness of more people to identify as one of the diverse Indigenous groups; either First Nation, Métis or Inuit.

    The data also draws a changing landscape. It used to be that big cities — Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal were the hubs for new immigrants, but that trend is changing, too, the data shows. The wave of recent immigrants to the Prairies more than doubled over the last 15 years.

    Immigrants are going where the jobs are and visible minorities could comprise fully one-third of Canadians by 2036.

    One in five people across the country are born outside it. This isn’t new. In the early 1900s, a similar proportion of people were immigrants to the country. The difference this time is in the vast heterogeneity of their origins.

    People come from 250 different ethnic origins across the country, the data shows. Asia is the biggest source of immigration, while newcomers from Africa placed ahead of Europe for the first time.

    You don’t need a crystal ball to predict future trends. People identifying as Black, Arab and Indigenous — in other words, some of the most maligned people — have the highest percentage of young people. The oldest group comes from those who identify as “not a visible minority,” “Chinese” and “Japanese.”

    This 2016 snapshot makes for a colourful portrait and, in these divisive times, offers an opportunity to reflect: how are we going to get along?

    Who gets to speak and how will voices at the margins of the town square move toward the centre? How will we make it work for everyone and not just to prop up a few?

    The data offers a clear pointer to our first priority.

    Non-Indigenous populations, or around 95 per cent of us, complicit in settler colonialism owe much to those whose lands we enrich ourselves from.

    While 1.7 million people identified as Indigenous in 2016, that number is projected to cross 2.5 million in the next 20 years.

    Twenty per cent of Indigenous people live in a dwelling in need of “major repairs,” compared with 6 per cent of the non-Indigenous population.

    Their median personal income is just $25,526, compared with $34,604 for non-Indigenous people, while nearly one-quarter live below Statistics Canada’s poverty threshold.

    First Nations child advocate Cindy Blackstock said the first numbers she honed in were that Indigenous children account for more than half the kids under 4 — a critical development age — who are in foster care. That number is rising.

    “When I looked at those numbers I thought of how vital it is that Canada moves with dispatch to comply with the four existing orders from the Human Rights Tribunal to end its discriminatory funding of First Nations child welfare agencies across the country,” she said.

    “One of the things that I’m calling on the government to do is to ask the parliamentary budget officer to cost out all the inequalities that First Nations children experience. Everything from child and maternal health to education to child welfare to juvenile justice. And then develop a public plan to eradicate those inequalities.”

    Fixing these gaps will take billions of dollars. If we’re serious about reconciliation, and long-term development, we have to focus on the children.

    As Blackstock says, “No level of discrimination of children by the government should be accepted by Canadians.”

    Read more:

    A majority of Torontonians now identify themselves as visible minorities, census shows

    Ontario now home to Canada’s largest Métis population, census shows

    Canada has more same-sex couples, one-person households, census shows

    Highlights from the 2016 census

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

    The census makes for a colourful portrait, now how do we get along?: ParadkarThe census makes for a colourful portrait, now how do we get along?: Paradkar

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    The two communities are less than 100 kilometres away from each other, but worlds apart based on density, diversity and design.

    Flemingdon Park is the site of multiple large to mid-size rental towers, public housing and townhomes.

    Read more: The Star looks at the present and the future of Toronto housing

    Georgina Island is the Greater Toronto Area’s only Indigenous reserve, mostly populated by people in single-family homes and somewhat remote, in that it is only accessible by boat.

    What the two places do share is the distinction of being identified as the top two communities in the GTA, in terms of the percentage of housing stock that has been identified as being in serious need of repairs, according to 2016 census data released Wednesday.

    Georgina Island has just 115 reported households, but of that total 30 homes or 26.1 per cent of all housing on the island are considered to be in need of serious repairs. The average household size was recorded at 2 people and almost a third of reported properties were single-person dwellings.

    Chief Donna Big Canoe said housing needs on the island are complicated by a combination of funding, infrastructure and costs.

    “A lot of the housing that was built years ago wasn’t up to code, said Big Canoe, who said the top issues are mould and structural problems, including foundations. “We are trying to address it, but there is such a backlog that it takes time.”

    They are also waiting to start work on upgrading their water treatment plant — the island is under a boil-water advisory — and that needs to be done before new homes can be built, she said.

    Read more:

    The census makes for a colourful portrait, now how do we get along?: Paradkar

    A majority of Torontonians now identify themselves as visible minorities

    Toronto still top-choice for recent immigrants, as more people flock to the Prairies

    Because everything comes in by boat any work is complicated by the extra time and costs related to transporting people and building supplies.

    “We are surrounded by water, so we really need to make sure when we do housing it has to be done right,” said Big Canoe.

    A boat ride and about an hour drive southwest is Flemingdon Park, a diverse and densely packed community, primarily in the Eglinton Ave. E. and Don Mills Rd. area.

    Within that neighbourhood, a piece of land near St. Dennis Dr. and the Don Valley Pkwy. has been identified as second on the list of areas where housing is in most need of serious repairs.

    The area contains a mix of housing, including private rental towers, lowrise buildings and public housing, including Toronto Community Housing townhomes.

    Of 1,345 reported households, 345 or 25.7 per cent are identified as being in need of serious repair. The average household was recorded at three people and almost half of the total properties were deemed “unsuitable” or overcrowded, in census terms.

    Rev. Beverley Williams, executive director of Flemingdon Park Ministry said the bulk of residents live in low-income and rental housing, filled largely with refugees, immigrants and the working poor.

    “One of the huge issues here is people are underhoused,” said Williams, explaining families of four, five, or six often occupy one-bedroom apartments.

    Despite the density, isolation is a common problem because of language barriers and poverty, she said.

    “It is our number one to get people out of their housing into the community,” said Williams.

    Rental housing and repair standards resulted in what was dubbed a “rent strike,” in buildings in Toronto’s Parkdale area. That action resulted in a settlement between tenants and property manager MetCap Living Management Inc.

    MetCap is about two weeks away from launching a program for lower-income tenants, said president Brent Merrill. Tenants can apply if they have reason to believe a raise in rent could jeopardize their housing and can provide financial documentation to support it, he said.

    MetCap has also tasked a staff member to log and track all repairs in MetCap buildings in Parkdale, said Merrill.

    All Toronto tenants can expect safer and cleaner rental housing, through a new bylaw requiring that landlords keep better track of and stay on top of repairs.

    Toronto landlords must register with the city by October 31.

    The rules apply to about 3,500 rental buildings, or all buildings with three or more storeys and 10 or more units.

    On Monday, 2,149 buildings were registered, according to city staff.

    Also counted among the top five areas with housing in need of serious repairs were two areas in Scarborough and a southern portion of the Thorncliffe Park area.

    In Scarborough, in the Lawrence Ave. E. and Scarborough Golf Club Rd. area, of 1,715 identified households 22.7 per cent were reported as being in need of serious repairs. In the Brimley Rd. and Eglinton Ave. E. area, of 1,015 identified households 20.2 per cent needed repairs.

    In Thorncliffe Park, south of Thorncliffe Park. Rd. and north of the Don River, of 1,505 households 21.9 per cent were identified as being in need of serious repairs.

    Housing repairs are most badly needed in these two GTA communitiesHousing repairs are most badly needed in these two GTA communities

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    OTTAWA—Most people in Canada’s biggest city now identify as visible minorities, as new census data shows increasing diversity in Toronto and many of its neighbouring suburban areas.

    More than half of respondents to the 2016 census in the City of Toronto — 51.5 per cent — said they’re from visible minority communities, a milestone that was narrowly missed when 49 per cent identified that way in 2011.

    The news comes as part of a tranche of census data, released Wednesday, that paints a multifaceted portrait of a country where more than one in five people was born outside its borders. Canada is now home to millions of people who claim more than 250 distinct “ethnic origins,” with historical lineages through Indigenous groups and countries all over the world.

    “We’ve been seeing this for 20 years now, that Canada is becoming more and more diverse,” said Jean-Pierre Corbeil, Statistics Canada’s assistant director of social and Aboriginal statistics.

    “It’s not surprising that we see the share of people identified as visible minorities… increasing for sure,” he said.

    Across the GTA, almost half (48.8) per cent of census respondents identified as visible minorities.

    Almost 22 per cent of the Canadian population is foreign-born, while 1.2 million people immigrated here between 2011 and 2016, the census data shows. Forty-one per cent of Canadians, meanwhile, lay claim to more than a single ancestral group, the most frequent being English, Scottish, French or Irish.

    Read more:

    The census makes for a colourful portrait, now how do we get along?: Paradkar

    Housing repairs are most badly needed in these two GTA communities

    Growth in Indigenous population is a profound challenge for Canada: Editorial

    In Canada overall, more than 22 per cent of people reported in 2016 being from visible minority communities, up from 16.3 per cent in 2006 and 4.7 per cent when the government started gathering this information in 1981. Statistics Canada attributes the increase in part to an increasing proportion of immigrants from non-European countries. For example, Africa surpassed Europe as the continent-of-origin for the second-highest number of immigrants between 2011 and 2016, the data shows.

    The release showed a similar trend for two groups: the largest overall increase in the Indigenous population was in western Canada over the last decade, while the share of recent immigrants to the Prairies more than doubled over the last 15 years.

    “Immigrants are diffusing across the country,” said Michael Haan, a sociology professor at Western University in London, Ont.

    “What it’s forcing us to do, collectively, is think about our entire nation as being composed of immigrants, rather than just major cities.”

    Nearly half of major metropolitan areas are comprised of visible minorities, noticeably Toronto and Vancouver, said Doug Norris, chief demographer at Environics Analytics. But the figures are also on the rise in places such as Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg and Calgary, he added.

    “Places that people didn’t think were culturally diverse are becoming now culturally diverse.”

    The release is just the latest — and second-to-last — in a year-long series of statistical snapshots of Canada. It also marks the return of the long-form census for the first time in a decade.

    The data also shows a marked difference in diversity between the multicultural heartland of the Greater Toronto Area and the rest of the country. Twenty-nine per cent of Ontarians and 22 per cent of Canadians overall reported being visible minorities, versus a thin majority in the Big Smoke.

    Five of the suburban cities around Toronto — Ajax, Mississauga, Richmond Hill, Brampton and Markham — had majorities of people who identify as visible minorities. Markham posted the highest proportion (77.9 per cent), followed by Brampton (73.3 per cent) and Richmond Hill (60 per cent).

    Read more:

    Toronto still top-choice for recent immigrants, as more people flock to the Prairies

    Home ownership rates drop as more young Canadians opt to rent: census

    Ontario now home to Canada’s largest Métis population, census shows

    But while diversity — in terms of visible minority populations — increased in every census division in the GTA from 2011 to 2016, the numbers vary widely. Burlington and Oshawa had the lowest proportion of visible minorities for cities with more than 100,000 people, at 16 per cent each in 2016, followed by Whitby at 25 per cent and Oakville at 31.

    The numbers also varied in the City of Toronto. The higher proportions of diversity — more than 50 per cent — were clumped in the inner suburbs of Scarborough, North York and Etobicoke.

    Several areas showed proportions of visible minority communities as high as 90 per cent, with concentrations of people who identified as Chinese, for example, in places such as Scarborough’s Agincourt neighbourhood and the city of Markham. Two neighbouring Toronto census tracts with almost 4,000 residents off Steeles Ave. E. even showed a combined 99 per cent Chinese population, one of the highest proportions of a single visible minority in the GTA.

    Minorities in the GTA:

    More than half of 2016 census respondents in Toronto — 51.5 per cent — said they’re from visible minority communities: Here’s how the numbers break down:

    • South Asian: 12.59 per cent

    • Chinese: 11.13 per cent

    • Black: 8.91 per cent

    • Filipino: 5.67 per cent

    • Latin American: 2.87 per cent

    • Arab: 1.34 per cent

    • Southeast Asian: 1.55 per cent

    • West Asian: 2.24 per cent

    • Korean: 1.55 per cent

    • Japanese: 0.5 per cent

    • Visible minorities not included elsewhere: 1.37 per cent

    • Multiple visible minorities (people who belong to more than one group): 1.77 per cent

    In Canada overall, the largest visible minority communities were South Asian (1.9 million people), Chinese (1.6 million) and Black (1.2 million).


    • In 2016, 7.5 million people — about 21.9 per cent of the total population — reported being foreign-born individuals who immigrated to Canada. In 1921, the census reported that proportion at 22.3 per cent, the highest since Confederation. Statistics Canada projects that proportion could reach between 25 and 30 per cent by 2036.

    • The census counted 1,212,075 new immigrants who permanently settled in Canada between 2011 and 2016, 3.5 per cent of the total population last year.

    • 60 per cent entered under the economic category, 26.8 per cent to join family already in Canada and 11.6 per cent as refugees. During the first four months of 2016, refugees accounted for one-quarter of all immigrants admitted to Canada, thanks to an influx of refugees from Syria.

    • Asia, including the Middle East, remains the largest source of recent immigrants to Canada at 61.8 per cent, followed by Africa at 13.4 per cent. Europe — once dominant in this category at 61.6 per cent in 1971 — ranked third at 11.6 per cent.

    • More immigrants have been settling in the Prairies. The percentage of new immigrants living in Alberta reached 17.1 per cent in 2016, compared with 6.9 per cent in 2001; In Manitoba, it went to 5.2 per cent, up from 1.8 per cent, and four per cent in Saskatchewan, up from one per cent in 2001.

    • Visible minorities numbered 7.7 million in 2016, 22.3 per cent of Canada’s population. 30 per cent were born in Canada.

    • In 1921, more than 70 per cent of the foreign-born population reported English or French as a mother tongue, while fewer than 30 per cent reported a different language. In 2016, the precise opposite was true: more than 70 per cent reported a different mother tongue, compared to less than 30 per cent for English or French.

    • In 2016, nearly 2.2 million children under 15 — 37.5 per cent of all children in Canada — were either foreign-born themselves or had at least one foreign-born parent.

    • Some 1.9 million people reported being of South Asian heritage, fully one-quarter of the visible minority population. Chinese was the second-largest group at 1.6 million or 20.5 per cent of visible minorities, while blacks — surpassing the one-million mark for the first time — were third at 1.2 million, a share of about 15.6 per cent. Filipinos and Arabs rounded out the top five.

    • More than 9.5 million of the 14.1 million households in Canada owned their home in 2016, a rate of 67.8 per cent, down slightly from 69 per cent in 2011. However, rates varied widely depending on age: 70 per cent of homeowners in 2016 were aged 35-54, compared with 20- to 34-year-olds at just 43.6 per cent.

    • Condos are most popular in Vancouver, where they comprised 30.6 per cent of all local households. Calgary was second at 21.8 per cent, followed by Abbotsford-Mission, B.C., at 21.5 per cent, Kelowna at 21.3 per cent and Toronto at 20.9 per cent.

    • In 2016, 24.1 per cent of households — down from 24.4 per cent in 2006 — were spending 30 per cent or more of their average monthly total income on shelter costs, such as rent or mortgage payments, electricity, heat and property taxes or fees. Of those, the highest proportions were in Toronto (33.4 per cent) and Vancouver (32 per cent).

    • The census counted 1.67 million Indigenous people in Canada in 2016, accounting for 4.9 per cent of the total population — up from 3.8 per cent in 2006 for a growth rate of 42.5 per cent over the last 10 years, four times the rate of the non-Indigenous population.

    • The number of people who identified as First Nations reached 979,230 last year, up 39.3 per cent over 2006, while the Metis population grew by 51.2 per cent over the same period to 587,545 people. The census recorded 65,025 Inuit, 29.1 per cent higher than in 2006.

    • Winnipeg (92,810), Edmonton (76,205), Vancouver (61,460) and Toronto (46,315) reported the largest Indigenous populations, while the highest proportion of Aboriginal people were in Thunder Bay (12.7 per cent), Winnipeg (12.2 per cent) and Saskatoon (10.9 per cent).

    With files from The Canadian Press

    * This story has been corrected from an earlier version. The figure of people in the GTA who identify as visible minorities does not include those who identify as Aboriginal.*

    A majority of Torontonians now identify themselves as visible minoritiesA majority of Torontonians now identify themselves as visible minorities

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    Amazon would like you to open your home to strangers. Not in the charitable, Thanksgiving dinner sense, but in the sense that if you’re a woman living alone, you might feel compelled to sleep with a hockey stick under your bed.

    This week the tech giant announced plans to launch a new package delivery service called Amazon Key that will grant Amazon employees permission and access to enter customers’ homes in order to deliver packages they’ve ordered online.

    The benefit to this service, which operates via security camera and a “smart lock” provided by Amazon itself, is that the packages you order online will not be stolen from your front door or otherwise misplaced.

    However, what the company might have failed to consider, judging by the shock and horror the product’s announcement provoked online, is that there are many possibilities in this life more disturbing than having a package stolen from your front door. Like, for example, getting robbed (or worse) by the person who delivers that package after you grant them access to enter your home.

    Or perhaps they did consider the fear that this possibility would stoke. It’s interesting, after all, that in the promotional material for Amazon Key on the company’s website, the model pictured in a delivery uniform stepping inside a customer’s house and dropping off a package is slim, beautiful, and female. So is the model pictured installing the product in a customer’s doorway. In other words, both Amazon employees in the ad are non-threatening (women you’d invite in for a cup of tea, as opposed to men who might sift around in your underwear drawer).

    But this seemingly shrewd marketing technique hasn’t stopped the internet from expounding on all that might go wrong should we let Amazon into our homes. A few choice tweets on the subject: “I’m excited to watch the 2030 Netflix docudrama about the Amazon Key murders,” and my personal favourite: “Amazon Key . . . the long-awaited answer to who let the dogs out.”

    Of course this reaction (though very funny) is decidedly over the top. Amazon couriers are not breaking and entering. They will be given explicit permission to walk into customers’ homes. And no one is being forced to purchase the service. (Packages will continue to be delivered the old-fashioned way.) Customers who do choose to purchase the system for roughly $250 will also be able to watch the deliveries to their homes take place in real time on an app. We are still, I suspect, a long way away from couriers using technology to murder us and let our dogs run out of the house into oncoming traffic.

    But this doesn’t mean that the product’s existence isn’t a creepy sign of things to come. The driving force behind a product like Amazon Key — the reason it exists — is that customers are increasingly comfortable sacrificing privacy for convenience. And it’s the goal of corporations like Amazon to have a monopoly on convenience.

    It’s important to note that Amazon Key is not a one-note service; it’s a means for the company to eventually perform more than 1,000 others. From Amazon’s website: “In the coming months, Amazon Key will provide customers with a convenient way to provide unattended access to professional service providers. This includes services from home cleaning experts Merry Maids and pet sitters and dog walkers from, as well as over 1,200 services from Amazon Home Services.”

    A.K.A., Your Life by Amazon.

    It’s fortuitous that the company announced this “unattended access” business feature at the height of our culture’s “emotional labour” conversation. First World people, many of them workingwomen, (like the woman depicted in the product’s promotional video) are overwhelmed and exhausted by the tyranny of the little things. Book the cleaner. Pay the cleaner. Buy a gift for mom before dinner tonight. Wrap it. Take the dogs out. Put the dogs back. Wouldn’t it be great if some benevolent Godlike being could just swoop in and take care of all of it in your absence? Well now it can, for a mere $249.99 and the gradual but total erosion of your privacy.

    My sincere hope is that the online backlash to Amazon Key isn’t just digital noise, but a signal of the product’s pending failure. I hope that Amazon Key tanks badly, as badly as New Coke and Crystal Pepsi combined, sending a message to tech companies that though we are naive enough to let corporations track our movements, our spending habits and our private conversations, we will stop short at letting them, flesh and blood, step through our front doors.

    For now at least.

    Amazon wants to move in with you: TeitelAmazon wants to move in with you: Teitel

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    An Ontario man accused of murdering a young Toronto woman whose body has never been found confessed to burning “a girl” and tossing her in a lake, a witness told court on Wednesday.

    Desi Liberatore said he was smoking weed and drinking peach schnapps with Mark Smich and a couple of friends in 2012, when Smich began rapping about “torching a body.”

    Smich then asked his girlfriend to leave the garage at his mother’s home in Oakville, Ont., Liberatore said, and once she left, Smich told his friends that he did, in fact, burn a girl and dump her body and a cellphone in a lake.

    Read more:A good guy emerges at grim trial into Laura Babcock’s murder: DiManno

    “We burned a girl and threw her in the lake. We killed someone,” Liberatore said Smich told him.

    “Did he say he killed somebody?” Crown lawyer Jill Cameron asked Liberatore.

    “I don’t think he said it exactly like that,” Liberatore said. “He said ‘we burned a body and threw it in the lake.’”

    Smich, 30, of Oakville, Ont., and Dellen Millard, 32, of Toronto, have pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of 23-year-old Laura Babcock. The men have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

    The Crown then played a video of Smich rapping.

    In the video, Smich is looking at an iPad with music playing in the background.

    “The b---h started off all skin and bone, now the b---h lay on some ashy stone,” Smich sings in the video. “Last time I saw her she was outside the home. If you go swimming you can find her phone.”

    Liberatore said he had never seen the video, but the rap Smich performed for him in the garage was “something like that.”

    The Crown alleges the pair killed Babcock in July 2012 at Millard’s Toronto home then burned her remains in a commercial incinerator that was found on Millard’s farm near Waterloo, Ont. The prosecution contends Babcock was killed for being the odd woman out in a love triangle with Millard and his girlfriend.

    Liberatore, 21, said he was 14 when he first met Smich outside an Oakville convenience store. Liberatore and a few other friends got Smich to buy them cigarettes. Later, Liberatore said, one of his friends would buy weed from Smich.

    After Smich talked about having killed someone, Liberatore said he and his two friends left the garage.

    “We were shocked, did that really happen? That must be B.S., there’s no way,” Liberatore told court.

    Under cross-examination from Smich’s lawyer, Thomas Dungey, Liberatore said he’s overdosed on drugs about six times and has a foggy memory.

    “I smoke myself into oblivion,” Liberatore told police in 2013, according to a police statement Dungey read in court.

    “That’s the state you were in, why your memory is so foggy, correct?” Dungey asked.

    “Yes,” Liberatore said.

    He also said he had been speaking with another potential witness about the case just a few days ago, but didn’t get into details, and he also admitted to reading several news headlines about the Babcock case in recent days.

    ‘We burned a body and threw it in the lake,’ Laura Babcock’s murder trial hears‘We burned a body and threw it in the lake,’ Laura Babcock’s murder trial hears

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    Ontario provincial police say they’re putting transport truck drivers “on notice” after laying charges in three horrific collisions involving big rigs that claimed the lives of six people this summer.

    Two of the collisions occurred on Highway 401, one near Port Hope, Ont., on Aug. 3, and the other in Chatham-Kent, Ont., on July 30. The third occurred on Highway 48 in Georgina, Ont., on July 27.

    Two people were killed in each of the collisions in which it’s alleged a transport truck crashed into traffic that was stopped or had slowed down due to road construction or a collision, OPP Commissioner Vince Hawkes said Thursday.

    The four men, one woman and 14-year-old boy who were killed in the crashes were all occupants of vehicles at the end of traffic queues.

    “This series of horrific collisions is driver inattention at its worst,” Hawkes said in a statement, calling them “the most tragic reminder in recent history of the tremendous toll on the lives of innocent citizens when commercial transport truck drivers are not paying full attention to the road.”

    Hawkes said the details mirror a fourth collision on May 11 on Highway 401 near Kingston, Ont., in which three men and a woman died when their vehicle was struck from behind by a transport truck in a construction zone. Charges have already been laid in that incident.

    “We are putting drivers on notice that the OPP will pursue every investigative avenue following serious collisions and hold at-fault drivers accountable to the full extent of the law,” he said.

    As of Oct. 15 this year, there have been more than 5,000 transport truck-related collisions, with 67 deaths in 56 of the collisions, the OPP said.

    In the Port Hope Crash, an eastbound tractor-trailer collided with two other vehicles heading in the same direction at about 10:30 p.m., causing a large fire, OPP said. Police closed the westbound lanes of the highway due to poor visibility due to smoke following the collision that killed two people.

    A 56-year-old Brampton, Ont., trucker is charged with two counts each of dangerous driving causing death and causing death by criminal negligence.

    In the Chatham-Kent incident, a westbound tractor-trailer collided with five vehicles stopped on Highway 401 due to a separate collision, police said.

    Two passengers in a pickup truck were pronounced dead at the scene and the driver and another passenger were taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries as was the driver of another vehicle.

    A 52-year-old Brampton man is charged with two counts dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death and three counts of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm.

    Five vehicles were involved in the Georgina collision when one vehicle rear-ended another that was stopped at a construction site, causing a chain reaction, police said. Two people were killed and three others injured, including a child and an adult who were airlifted to Toronto hospitals in critical condition.

    A 31-year-old Toronto man is charged in that incident with two counts each of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm and one count of dangerous driving.

    Transport truck drivers will be put ‘on notice,’ OPP say after laying charges in deadly collisionsTransport truck drivers will be put ‘on notice,’ OPP say after laying charges in deadly collisions

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    DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES—New security screenings for all passengers on U.S.-bound flights began on Thursday, with airlines worldwide questioning flyers about their trip and their luggage in the latest Trump administration decision affecting global travel.

    Canadian travellers flying into the United States are subject to new security protocols implemented but airlines aren’t saying much about what the screening procedures entail.

    The U.S. Transportation Security Administration announced in June that there would be heightened security for international flights to the U.S. starting this fall.

    Read more:

    Trump allows refugee admissions to resume under ‘enhanced’ screening procedures

    U.S. lifts ban on laptops in airplane cabins on flights from Middle East

    The TSA said it would include increased screening of passengers and their cellphones and other electronic devices, as well as more security around planes and in passenger areas.

    Air Canada spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick says the new measures are in effect for the airline but he wouldn’t say what they consist of because security is handled by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

    Fitzpatrick says all of the airline’s flights from Canada to the U.S. have passengers go through preclearance security, so they would encounter the new measures before taking off, not after landing in an American airport.

    A representative from WestJet says the airline is working with the TSA to implement the new protocols and does not expect any immediate impact on Canadian passengers travelling to the U.S.

    WestJet passengers go through preclearance security at some but not all of the Canadian airports the airline operates from.

    Passengers on Porter Airlines flights will have to go through the new security checks once they land in the U.S., as Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport does not offer preclearance. The airline says passengers can expect the same check-in experience as before.

    International airlines have been offering differing accounts of how they will implement the new security rules.

    At Dubai International Airport, the world’s busiest for international travel, long-haul carrier Emirates began questioning passengers about their luggage, liquids they were carrying and where they were coming from. Passengers also had to have their carry-on bags searched, along with their electronics.

    Emirates declined to discuss the new procedures in detail on Thursday. On Wednesday, it said it would conduct “passenger pre-screening interviews” for those travelling on U.S.-bound flights in concert with other checks on electronics.

    Elsewhere, things did not appear to be going so smoothly. In China, an official in the Xiamen Airlines press office, who would only give his surname as Qiu, said that the airlines received a “demand” about the new U.S. regulations and planned “to take some security measures, including security safety interviews from today on.”

    “We’re not going to interview all passengers, but focus on those with a certain degree of risk when checking the passengers’ documents on the ground,” he said, without elaborating.

    An official with the Eastern Airlines publicity department said that she saw media reports about security safety interviews but didn’t have immediate details on what her company was doing. An official at the Beijing Airport press centre would only say: “We always strictly follow relevant regulations of the Civil Aviation Administration when conducting security checks.” Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity under regulations.

    At Air China, the country’s flag carrier, an official who only gave his surname, Zhang, said it would comply.

    “We will meet the demands from the U.S. side, but as for the detailed measures (we will take), it is inconvenient for us to release,” he said.

    South Korea’s Transport Ministry said that the United States agreed to delay implementing the new screening for the country’s two biggest carriers, Korean Air Lines Co. and Asiana Airlines Inc., until next year on condition they deploy staff at boarding gates to monitor travellers.

    Royal Jordanian, based in Amman, also has said it would introduce the new procedures in mid-January.

    Other airlines with U.S.-bound flights at Seoul’s Incheon International Airport brought in as many as seven extra staff Thursday to question passengers under the new rules but there were no major delays, airport spokesperson Lee Jung-hoon said.

    Singapore Airlines passengers may be required to “undergo enhanced security measures” including inspection of personal electronic devices “as well as security questioning during check-in and boarding,” the carrier said on its website.

    Other carriers who announced the new regulations on Wednesday included Air France, Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., the airlines of Germany’s Lufthansa Group and EgyptAir.

    In Hong Kong, passengers described some of the questions they were asked.

    “They asked me if I packed my own bag, where I packed it from, where I came from, they looked at my itinerary, verify where I was, who I was, from where I came from,” said Fran Young, who was travelling to Los Angeles.

    Some showed displeasure.

    “It’s a little inconvenient, I kind of just want to get my printed ticket and then just go inside,” passenger Gavin Lai said. “I don’t want to wait on people to interview me like that. So it’s a little annoying.”

    U.S. carriers also will be affected by the new rules. Delta Air Lines said it was telling passengers travelling to the U.S. to arrive at the airport at least three hours before their flight and allow extra time to get through security. United declined to comment, while American did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    With files from the Canadian Press

    Canadians flying into U.S. to face new security screenings, but airlines give few detailsCanadians flying into U.S. to face new security screenings, but airlines give few details

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    The Special Investigations Unit has decided a Toronto police officer’s use of force was justified in apprehending a mentally ill man, which ended with the man needing surgery under his right eye.

    Director Tony Loparco, who leads the unit charged with investigating police interactions involving death, serious injury or sexual assault, said the officer involved in the July 2016 case “was required to make an unenviable, immediate decision.”

    “I appreciate that the complainant suffers from serious mental health issues, and received a significant injury to his eye that day requiring surgery,” Loparco wrote his decision on the case.

    “In the circumstances he presented an immediate danger to the attending officers.”

    The complainant, who is not identified in the director’s report, was apprehended on July after a Justice of the Peace issued an order under the Mental Health Act for him to be taken by police to a hospital for an examination.

    The same man had been apprehended two weeks earlier after he threw wood at a neighbour. The director’s report cites the man’s Canadian Mental Health Association worker as saying that he was paranoid schizophrenic at the time.

    The officer who apprehended the complainant used a Taser once for five seconds, the report stated, which caused the man to drop the barbell he was holding.

    The Taser caused injuries to the complainant’s chest and under his right eye, the latter of which required surgery. The officer called an ambulance immediately after using the Taser, according to phone call recordings cited in the report.

    A photo showing a barbell in the complainant’s bedroom was used as evidence in the investigation.

    The same officer had apprehended the complainant two weeks previously, also under the Mental Health Act, without issue.

    Toronto police justified in use of force despite man’s eye injury, SIU saysToronto police justified in use of force despite man’s eye injury, SIU says

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    OTTAWA—The newly opened National Holocaust Monument will close for winter to avoid any damage that could be caused by the need to clear snow.

    But the fact so much time and expense went into the soaring concrete structure just west of Parliament Hill, only to end up being closed for half the year, is raising questions about why the Liberal government can’t find a way to keep it open.

    The monument was inaugurated September, nearly a decade after the idea of creating it was first raised in the House of Commons.

    Read more:

    National Holocaust Monument plaque pulled after panel omits mention of Jews

    Canada’s new National Holocaust Monument is ‘about you’: Hume

    Liberals plan apology for 1939 decision to turn away Jewish refugees aboard MS St. Louis

    The National Capital Commission (NCC) said it will close the monument in late fall, depending on when snow arrives, reopening it early in the spring.

    “As is for most of NCC monuments, the National Holocaust Monument will be closed during winter as snow-clearing operations can damage the monument,” Cedric Pelletier said in an email.

    The monument was initially designed to include a roof and a snow melting system, but both were removed to save money after consultations with the design team, Canadian Heritage and the National Holocaust Memorial Development Council, Pelletier said.

    The council did not return a request for comment Thursday. They helped raise roughly half of the $9-million budget for the project, with the rest coming from the federal government.

    Conservative MP Peter Kent accused the government of trying to save money by keeping the site closed.

    “The death camps operated all year round,” he pointed out to Heritage Minister Melanie Joly during question period. “Why shouldn’t Canada’s commemoration?”

    Joly suggested the Conservatives were the ones initially responsible for the issue.

    “I’m surprised to hear these concerns coming from the Opposition as these conversations were initiated under their watch,” Joly said, but she said it was the NCC ultimately responsible.

    Conservative Sen. Linda Frum accused the government of benign neglect of the project overall, pointing to the “bungling” of the dedication plaque, which originally did not mention the Jewish people in its description of the atrocities carried out by Nazis during the Second World War.

    The plaque is now being rewritten after an outcry.

    Frum said she doesn’t want to politicize the monument, but she described the oversights to date as hurtful. “Their hearts are not fully into this monument and what it’s there to do.”

    The monument’s design is called “Landscape of Loss, Memory and Survival.” The triangles form a six-pointed Star of David when seen from above. As visitors walk through, each triangle provides a space for a particular theme of commemoration, including an interior room containing a flame of remembrance.

    The flame will be turned off in the winter, though the monument itself will continue to be illuminated, Pelletier said.

    “While we understand that there may be some concerns about the use of heavy snow-removal equipment on the site, surely there are ways to undertake snow removal and ensure access to this important historical and educational exhibit year-round,” said Shimon Koffler Fogel, chief executive officer of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.

    Frum said she’d visited the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz in the winter months. To experience it in the cold brought home the horrid conditions that victims of the Holocaust faced, she said.

    “The potential for that impact in our monument here in Ottawa is the same. It’s a very moving emotional experience to be inside that monument and its starkness, but to do that while its also extremely cold out, it potentially could be part of the experience,” Frum said.

    “I just don’t know why you would go to the trouble of building an $8 to $10-million monument and then close it off to the public for half the year. It doesn’t make sense to me.”

    Newly opened National Holocaust Monument to close in winter to avoid damageNewly opened National Holocaust Monument to close in winter to avoid damage

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    When computers in the McGuinty premier’s office started malfunctioning early in 2013, the government’s IT staff quickly suspected a special password as the culprit, a retired civil servant said Thursday.

    “That was one of the first things we thought of,” Tom Stenson, then the manager of IT support for the premier’s office and cabinet office, told the criminal trial of two key McGuinty aides.

    The trial has heard the password was requested by then-chief of staff David Livingston to clear hard drives of personal information before Premier Kathleen Wynne took over from McGuinty in February 2013.

    Livingston and deputy chief Laura Miller are charged with breach of trust, mischief in relation to data and misuse of a computer system in the alleged wiping of hard drives during the political transition period.

    At the time, the McGuinty government had been under pressure to reveal documents related to the controversial closing of natural gas-fired power plants in Oakville and Mississauga before the 2011 election.

    Livingston and Miller have pleaded not guilty.

    After some debate among senior bureaucrats worried that it could be used improperly, the special password was given to premier’s office administrative assistant, Wendy Wai.

    It allowed access to “80 or 90 computers,” Stenson told Crown attorney Ian Bell, raising concerns about the risks that computer files could be altered.

    “This is very unusual . . . to grant such administrative rights on such a scope,” Stenson added, noting it was the first time in his 27-year civil service career he’d heard of such a step.

    The computer help desk started getting calls that desktops would not boot up properly.

    “We started to see a pattern,” said Stenson. “It seemed to be software-related.”

    Later, IT staff were tasked by a senior cabinet office bureaucrat to preserve desktops from the McGuinty premier’s office in a “secure location,” a step Stenson described as “a little bit unusual.”

    Under cross-examination by Miller lawyer Scott Hutchison, Stenson said the troubles that premier’s office staff experienced logging in to their computers were resolved.

    He acknowledged that IT staff for the Liberal caucus of MPPs at Queen’s Park would sometimes attend the premier’s office to help staff using the Citrix program to access Liberal party servers.

    The Crown contends that Miller’s spouse Peter Faist, a private IT consultant, used the special password to install White Canyon software to delete files on a number of premier’s office computers.

    Faist, who is not charged, is slated to testify Friday.

    McGuinty was not under investigation and co-operated with police.

    IT problems followed use of special password requested by McGuinty’s chief of staff, trial hearsIT problems followed use of special password requested by McGuinty’s chief of staff, trial hears

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    WASHINGTON—The Trump administration is demanding NAFTA concessions from Canada and Mexico but not offering “anything” in exchange, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Wednesday.

    Ross’s remarkable public statement corroborates the complaints of Canadian and Mexican officials, who have accused the U.S. of taking an unusually and unreasonably hard line in the talks to renegotiate the North American free trade pact.

    U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence said in August that the negotiation would be a “win-win-win” for all three countries, and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has repeated that this is what Canada is seeking. Ross, however, suggested the U.S. was pushing for something different.

    Read more:Can Donald Trump actually kill NAFTA? You’re not the only one who’s unsure: Analysis

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    “We’re trying to do a difficult thing. We’re asking two countries to give up some privileges that they have enjoyed for 22 years. And we’re not in a position to offer anything in return,” he said on CNBC. “So that’s a tough sell. And I don’t know that we’ll get every single thing we want. The question is, will we get enough to make it worthwhile.”

    Freeland has criticized the U.S. this month, including in a CNN appearance on Sunday, for taking a “winner-take-all” approach to the talks. Her office repeated those words in response to Ross.

    “Our government remains focused on achieving a win-win-win in these negotiations, a winner-take-all attitude won’t work,” Freeland spokesperson Adam Austen said in an email.

    It is possible that Ross is bluffing or simply speaking for domestic political consumption. Trade experts, though, said his words accurately describe what is happening behind the scenes.

    “They are not really negotiating. They’re saying, ‘Here’s our position, take it or leave it. And if you don’t like it, we’ll withdraw from the NAFTA,’” said Canadian trade lawyer Lawrence Herman, who predicted the negotiations would soon collapse because of the U.S. stance.

    “It’s an outrageously aggressive and uncompromising position that the U.S. is taking in the negotiations. And it doesn’t augur well for a successful outcome,” Herman said.

    U.S President Donald Trump used similar language to Ross in his own interview on Wednesday, saying on Fox Business Network that Canada and Mexico are having a hard time understanding that things would have to get worse for them.

    “In order to have a resolution — because right now, Mexico and Canada have such a great deal — it’s so good that it’s very hard for them to get used to the fact that it can’t be that way anymore,” Trump told host Lou Dobbs.

    As he has in the past, Trump said he thinks the only way to secure a good deal for the U.S. is to put pressure on the other two countries by initiating a termination. He said his negotiators “are going to have to get tougher.”

    “I say, right now, it’s going to be very hard. And in my opinion, in order to make a fair deal with NAFTA, you have to terminate the deal and you have to see where you’re going to come,” Trump told Dobbs.

    Trump said the same thing in a private meeting with Republican senators on Tuesday, the publication Inside U.S. Trade reported.

    “The president said there was no way to get the changes we need unless we get out, then have six months to negotiate,” said an anonymous pro-NAFTA senator. When senators expressed concerns, Inside U.S. Trade reported, Trump said, “Trust me, we’re working on this.”

    Initiating a termination would carry risks of its own: Mexico has promised to walk away from the negotiating table if Trump announces he is starting the six-month notice period.

    Canada has not taken a public position on what it would do in that case. Freeland, speaking more generally, said earlier this month that Canada would like to stay at the table.

    Inside U.S. Trade reported that some Republican senators are concerned that even initiating the termination process could damage the economy. Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts expressed fear over the possible impact of the uncertainty on the agricultural industry.

    “That may be an option that the president feels he should exercise in order to get Mexico to the table to achieve what he wants to achieve, which is the trade imbalance — I understand that — but I think we can do it in different ways without sending shock waves all throughout agriculture. And then to restitch that and put it all back together it’s like Humpty Dumpty. You push Mr. Humpty Dumpty trade off the wall and it’s very hard to put him back together,” Roberts told Inside U.S. Trade.

    It is not clear whether Trump could actually terminate the deal on his own or whether he would require congressional approval.

    The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a business group that usually favours Republicans, has ramped up its pro-NAFTA lobbying this week, swamping Capitol Hill with industry representatives to plead for the preservation of the deal. And the major automotive companies have launched a pro-NAFTA pressure campaign of their own. The slogan for their “Driving American Jobs” effort, “We’re winning with NAFTA,” is a nod to Trump’s campaign promise to get America to “win again.”

    “We need you to tell your elected officials that you don’t change the game in the middle of a comeback. We’re winning with NAFTA,” they said on their website.

    The fifth round of negotiations is scheduled for Mexico City next month.

    Top Trump official says U.S. isn’t offering ‘anything’ to Canada in exchange for NAFTA demandsTop Trump official says U.S. isn’t offering ‘anything’ to Canada in exchange for NAFTA demands

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    Toronto’s police board has approved an operating budget request of $1.005 billion for 2018, keeping a lid on its growth for the second year in a row.

    For years, the police budget grew at a rate double that of inflation, passing the billion-dollar mark in 2016, up 28 per cent from a decade earlier. That helped drive up city spending, and in recent years triggered fights with council as it tried to contain the ballooning cost of emergency services.

    Council has set a 0 per cent budget increase target in 2018 for city departments and agencies.

    The Toronto Police Service initially forecast it would need an additional $37.6 million, or a 3.7 per cent increase over the 2017 budget to cover the 2018 salary and benefit settlement.

    However, the service was able to offset the salary impact with the savings achieved by a hiring moratorium, which shaved $24.5 million from the 2018 budget, and other reductions and bridging strategies, “that may pose a pressure on the 2019 budget,” a police service budget document warned.

    In 2016, a task force formed to modernize the police service recommended a three-year hiring moratorium to decrease the number of officers over time, so that by 2020 there will be 4,750 uniform officers compared to 5,615 in 2010.

    In addition, the service has not been filling vacant civilian positions.

    While the service will achieve the city’s 0 per cent target this year, it will be difficult to achieve a flat line budget in future years, police service CAO Tony Veneziano said Thursday.

    For example, at some point, the civilian moratorium has to be lifted, as investments will need to be made to implement the task force’s recommendations, “to decrease the risk of failure,” Veneziano said.

    The budget dedicates 88 cents of every dollar to a salary and benefits package.

    A billion dollar budget approved for police services in TorontoA billion dollar budget approved for police services in Toronto

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    Warning: This article includes graphic details.

    Bishop Wayne Jones was a righteous pastor at the Mt. Ararat Spiritual Baptist Church.

    Or he was a sleazy, voodoo-hoodoo sexual predator.

    Could be, he was both.

    Four women, former parishioners, claim Jones extorted sex as either purifying ritual, to purge them of evil spirits, as a rite of exorcism intrinsic to their Trinidadian-based charismatic faith, or, in one case, as a blunt weapon — a threat — to coerce sex, otherwise he’d rat her out to authorities as an illegal immigrant living in Toronto.

    Three of those complainants have taken the stand this week at Jones’ trial on charges of sexual assault, administering noxious substances and theft. They are all “historical witnesses,” meaning their allegations of incidents occurred ages ago — between 1986 and 1996 — and they came forward only after the Scarborough pastor was charged in 2015 with sexually assaulting another woman, convincing her to give him money and property during “spiritual guidance” sessions, which included the aforementioned exorcisms over a two-year period, 2011 to 2013.

    Woven throughout the testimony is a narrative of bizarre worship that incorporated mostly naked spiritual cleansing baths in a tub in the church basement bathroom, machete-wielding, grave ashes clandestinely scooped from open cemetery plots around the city, something called “The Throne of Grace,” bits of Obeah (a form of sorcery practiced in the Caribbean) and Orisha (a syncretic religion originally hailing from West Africa), a steering wheel located in the body of the church, turned by a deaconess or “Captress,” mystic representations chalked onto a sheet, weeklong fasting periods and — this wasn’t actually part of the accepted dogma, merely the alleged means to an end — Kool-Aid laced with a stupefying drug.

    And before anybody rolls their eyes at poor, ill-educated, gullible women, keep in mind that the great monolithic religions all cleave to elements of mysticism in their orthodoxy. Catholic Church doctrine, as but one example, holds crucially to the central tenet of transubstantiation: the conversion of the Eucharist into the body and blood of Christ.

    “X” — none of the complainants can be identified — told court Thursday about the Kool-Aid episode, recounting how Jones had invited her to his home one evening to discuss her immigration dilemma. He handed her a glass with a cherry tasting substance. “I started feeling strange. I said, what did you put in my drink?”

    Jones, “X” told the judge-only trial, then clamped his palm over her mouth. “That was the last thing I knew. The next thing I remember was somebody calling my name, saying it’s seven o’clock in the morning and I had to go home.

    “I said, it can’t be 7 a.m. I just got here.”

    She was wearing only underpants, she told court.

    “I couldn’t understand what had happened.”

    But she left without making a scene, worried more about her two young sons who’d been alone overnight.

    It was only later, when “X” became increasingly aggressive about the “immigration stuff” — Jones claiming he was working on her case, until she found all the forms she’d filled stuffed into a cabinet — that the pastor grew hostile towards her, she said. By that point, “X” had already loaned Jones $400 on two separate occasions (the second time he said he was going to the U.S. to purchase ritual unguents unavailable here) and $1,200 to repair his car. None of that money was ever paid back, she said.

    Annoyed with her nagging, “X” told court Jones announced: “That’s why I f----- you and you can do nothing about it.”

    Crown attorney Cara Sweeny asked the witness, who’s now 64, what she took that to mean. “Well, it had to be sex.”

    Shortly thereafter, said “X,” Jones’ sister began putting it around the congregation that she was “into Obeah, that voodoo stuff,” which damaged her reputation.

    The witness also recalled an earlier incident which took place in the church basement, also orchestrated by “Shepherd Wayne,” shortly before she was made a deaconess, despite the fact she didn’t think herself qualified for the position.

    “He lit a candle. Then he said, take your clothes off. I did. He said I was going to get a spiritual rebirth. He banded my eyes.” Covered them. “Told me to lie down. Next thing I know he was on top of me, naked as when he was born. He was trying to put his penis in my vagina. I was fighting him but he was holding my hands by the wrists.

    “I pulled my band off. I saw he had an erection.

    “He said, stop fighting me. The spirit is in me and I want to have sex with you. I said, I don’t want to have sex with you. Take me home.”

    The alleged assault ceased then, X said.

    Jones, 57, has pleaded not guilty to all the charges and none have been proven in court.

    Thursday’s proceedings began with the continuing cross-examination of the previous witness, a complainant who alleged that Jones visited her rooming house — sometime between 1993 and 1996 — and convinced her to have sex as the only way to expunge evil spirits which had been haunting her. They lay on the bed together.

    “He fondled my breast, I felt his big erection behind my buttocks,” she’d told Justice Suhail Akhtar.

    Defence lawyer Randall Barrs argued that the sexual contact had been consensual and that she “craved” Jones. “I suggest that if it happened, you wanted it to happen.”

    The witness acknowledged an attraction but that their one and only sexual episode had been initiated by Jones — her bishop — to alleviate her distressed soul. “My body was craving for him, yes. The craving made me want to do it again with him. But I tell myself — no.”

    While this woman never brought a sexual assault complaint against Jones at the time, she did sue him in small claims court to recover $1,000 he’d borrowed, and won. “I was scared, knowing what he could do to me.” The inference that he would cast evil spells upon her. “He’s a spiritual man. They could do stuff for good and they could do stuff for evil. He’s capable of doing evil stuff. But I took the courage and the strength to do what I did.”

    The first witness against Jones, “Y” — sister of “X” — told court she’d been arm-twisted into giving the pastor a key to her home, which he used over an 18-month period to wrest sex whenever he wanted it.

    “He said he’d make me walk the streets like a crazy woman and he would destroy my kids,” she testified, adding that he’d once sliced her breast with a razor.

    She further claimed Jones wanted her to have his baby. “I said, are you crazy? This is not a love affair. It was insane for him to ask me, as my pastor, to do that.”

    The woman believed Jones doused himself in oils as a hexing aphrodisiac. “You could smell it on him. And you can’t resist.

    Barrs: “You’re telling me, in the year 2017, that he was doing some kind of voodoo on himself that made him irresistible?”

    Witness: “I felt so dirty and disgusting. He took everything from me because he knew that I was weak. I was born in rubble and this is what he did to me.”

    The trial continues.

    Rosie DiManno usually appears Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

    Court hears Toronto pastor extorted sex as part of exorcism: DiMannoCourt hears Toronto pastor extorted sex as part of exorcism: DiManno

    0 0

    OTTAWA—It might well be Jagmeet Singh’s secret weapon: a seemingly bottomless well of positive energy that draws fans and followers like bees to a honeypot. Thing is, the new NDP leader doesn’t always remember to tap it.

    Enter Singh’s other secret weapon: his younger brother, Gurratan.

    “He’s always like, ‘Jagmeet, are you digging into that positivity?’ ” Singh said this week during an interview, Gurratan at his side, at NDP headquarters in Ottawa.

    “ ‘Make sure you dig into that energy that makes you, you.’ ”

    Read more:

    Call it Tinder for policy-makers: a new TV show sends Canadian politicians on blind ‘dates’ and sparks fly…over issues

    Jagmeet Singh vows to help Horwath topple Wynne

    How charismatic Singh is a threat to Trudeau: Watt

    Gurratan Singh can speak truth to power, an important resource for someone who is gradually transitioning out of Ontario provincial politics and into the hard-knock world of Parliament Hill, where the elder Singh has his sights set on becoming Canada’s next prime minister.

    In his first weeks on the job with the NDP, Singh has had his brother at his elbow — even though he’s not on the NDP’s payroll — at everything from scrums on Parliament Hill to the weekend Ottawa rally where he kicked off a national get-to-know-me tour last week.

    He knows Gurratan — a lawyer who shares his older brother’s penchant for colourful turbans and custom-tailored suits — won’t hold back in assessments of how he’s doing.

    “He will not hesitate to call me out if I don’t do well on something,” Singh said.

    “If I give a speech and people are like ‘That was OK, that was OK’, I’ll be like ‘Gurratan, tell me the truth.’ And he’ll be like ‘It was horrible, man. You did a really bad job.’ ”

    Staying focused on his natural positive energy is some of the best political advice he’s ever received, Singh added —advice that the party he now leads would do well to follow as it seeks to turn the page on the disappointments of the Tom Mulcair era in favour of a younger, more energized future.

    There’s no question Singh brings to the NDP an entirely new, and decidedly younger, perspective, as well as that infectious energy, which is precisely what the party needs right now, said NDP national director Robert Fox.

    “He is a different personality, has a different profile than Tom did and there are a lot of people who are interested to come and work with us ... under Jagmeet’s leadership to elect more New Democrats,” Fox said.

    “There are a lot of seasoned veterans that are also excited about the prospects and that has nothing to do with Tom. We’ve been in a situation where ... we had a leader who we knew would not be the leader up to the next election.”

    The party is also hoping Singh can help attract fundraising to help pay off the party’s $5.5-million debtload, and also bring with him the organizational prowess his team demonstrated during his successful leadership campaign.

    “We very much look forward to ... raising more money to do some of the things we’ve been planning to do for some time, as well as some of the new, innovative ideas that Jagmeet brings to the table,” Fox said.

    Of course, all that bright-side stuff can be a little blinding to certain political realities.

    Gurratan comes in handy there, too.

    “Sometimes, I might be too lighthearted or too optimistic where I am missing there’s something we realistically need to do right now,” he said. “Gurratan will point that out and say ‘Listen, OK, you can be optimistic, but we need to make sure we deal with this problem right now.’ ”

    That candour is a comfort to the new NDP leader.

    “It is having the support of someone (who’s) going to be real with me ... at the same time, having the comfort of someone I get along with, one of my best friends,” he said. “Maybe my best friend.”

    “That’s cute,” Gurratan said, grabbing Jagmeet’s arm.

    ‘Dig into that energy that makes you, you’: Meet NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s brother and reality check‘Dig into that energy that makes you, you’: Meet NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s brother and reality check

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    It comes as no surprise to Anna Agha that the condo she rents is part of a neighbourhood with one of the highest percentages of residents putting too large a portion of their income toward housing costs in the city.

    “It is quite expensive,” said the 31-year-old as she walked her baby in a stroller around Alton Towers Cir. — a condo-laden area in Scarborough where she and her husband moved six months ago to be close to his work.

    Read more: The Star looks at the present and the future of Toronto housing

    “We are thinking of moving after the lease is up,” she said, adding that they chose the location because the older, more spacious condominiums on Alton Towers Cir. were a better option for her family than the newer ones they looked at downtown.

    Shelter costs are taking up about 50 per cent of their household budget at the moment, she estimated on the spot.

    Census data from 2016 released Wednesday show the small community contained by Alton Towers Cir., east of McCowan Rd., is one of the two places in the city where 60 per cent of households spend 30 per cent or more of their income on housing costs — the highest percentage in Toronto.

    The other neighbourhood was at Woodbine Ave. and Hwy. 7 in Markham.

    Statistics Canada uses 30 per cent of income spent on housing as a benchmark to determine whether households have an “affordability” problem. In Toronto in 2016, 33 per cent of households spent more than the benchmark on shelter, compared with 28 per cent in Ontario and 24 per cent in Canada.

    That’s a slight increase from the 2011 and 2006 census numbers, both of which showed approximately 32 per cent of Toronto households overspent the benchmark for affordable housing.

    Read more:

    Highlights from the 2016 census

    Home ownership rates drop as more young Canadians opt to rent: census

    Housing repairs are most badly needed in these two GTA communities

    University of Toronto geography professor Deb Cowen said a number of factors contribute to what she called “the current affordability crisis” in Toronto.

    “While most people struggle to pay rent and keep shelter over their heads, housing has also become an incredibly lucrative market — a commodity,” she said.

    Cowen said part of the reason for high housing costs lies in aggressive lending by large mortgage financiers. “But it is also true for a growing number of small-scale home or condo owners who buy housing in order to accumulate wealth,” she said.

    Geordie Dent, who runs the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations, said his organization constantly gets calls from renters who are struggling to find affordable accommodation in the city.

    “There's really two things that are happening: People are suffering and people are moving,” Dent said.

    He’s familiar with cases of people moving out of Toronto to Hamilton, Windsor, and even other provinces in search of greater affordability.

    “Not everyone wants to do that and not everyone will do that,” he said.

    Those who choose to stay in Toronto may have to lower their housing standards, or dedicate more of their budget to housing rather than things like leisure, Dent said.

    For some residents, spending a lot on housing is worth it.

    Dominic Chung, 77, said the high cost of living on Alton Towers Cir. is worth the condo’s proximity to the grocery store, restaurants and his church.

    “I love it here,” Chung said, who doesn’t drive anymore due to age.

    Molly Tyson has lived in a co-operative townhome on Alton Towers Cir. for 17 years. She praised the community, and the governance structure that sees neighbours working together toward improvements to their homes.

    Cowen warned that, as housing becomes more expensive, those who are in the most precarious positions are most likely to be negatively impacted.

    “In a city like New York we see the highest rent burdens in areas facing rapid gentrification — areas where people with lower incomes are concentrated but which have experienced often dramatic valorization,” she said. “I imagine we will see similar patterns in the Toronto data too.”

    The other Toronto pockets — called “tracts” in the census data — with the highest percentages of households spending more than 30 per cent of income are scattered throughout the city.

    Of the 10 with the highest proportion, three of them are directly east of the University of Toronto, an area with many new, upscale condos. They’re also located in the Wallace Emerson, Niagara, Willowdale and Thorncliffe Park neighbourhoods.

    The Roof Over Your Head: Residents of these GTA neighbourhoods struggle the most to pay for their homesThe Roof Over Your Head: Residents of these GTA neighbourhoods struggle the most to pay for their homes

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    OTTAWA—Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson says she intends to look into whether Finance Minister Bill Morneau was in a conflict of interest in introducing a pension reform bill, according to a letter she has sent the NDP.

    In a confidential letter to NDP ethics critic Nathan Cullen that the Star has seen, and the NDP is releasing this afternoon, Dawson advises Cullen she intends to look into the concerns he raised.

    Cullen wrote to Dawson to complain that Morneau continued to hold shares in Morneau Shepell, a company which stood to profit Bill C27 which would create “target” benefit plans in federal jurisdictions, and that this put the finance minister in a conflict of interest as he introduced the legislation.

    The NDP said that Morneau Shepell stock jumped in the week after C27 was tabled last October, although it later dropped back. The bill has not been debated in the House since.

    “While your October 16, 2017 letter does not identify the provision you allege to have been contravened, as required by the Conflict of Interest Act, your letter leaves me with concerns in relation to Mr. Morneau’s involvement with Bill C-27,” Dawson wrote.

    “Consequently, I will follow up with Mr. Morneau and will inform you of the outcome in due course.”

    The news comes as Morneau announced he will donate to charity all profits earned on the one million Morneau Shepell shares he has held since being elected in 2015.

    The move comes on top of last week’s decision to put all his assets in a blind trust, and sell his and his family’s Morneau Shepell shares.

    A rough estimate of the profit made on Morneau’s shares in his former family company is about $5 million based on a roughly $5 rise in the share value since November 2015.

    Morneau made the surprise announcement to the Commons, saying he told Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson Thursday when he met her at his office.

    But the opposition continues to hammer him, with Conservatives demanding he disclose all other publicly traded securities that the finance minister may have in an assortment of numbered companies or any family trusts.

    Morneau said the opposition continues “to obsess” about his personal finances but he wants to show Canadians his only goal is to get on with the work the Liberal government is doing on behalf of Canadian families.

    “This is the way we get confidence from Canadians to go forward,” said Morneau.

    He said he has always followed the recommendations of Dawson who looked at all his assets at “a very, very granular level” and has never been in a conflict of interest in the past two years.

    He said the measures he is taking now to go “above and beyond” Dawson’s advice will ensure he remains conflict-free for the years to come.

    When Morneau took office, Dawson told Morneau to set up an ethics screen that would require his chief of staff to prevent him from participating in any decisions that may directly or indirectly affect the interests of Morneau Shepell.

    She advised him the law did not require him to put his shares into a blind trust because they were not directly controlled by him- they are held by two corporations he set up. She also said a blind trust would be useless in his case because Morneau would nevertheless know what shares or interests he had. Dawson’s office says the conflict screen was the best measure to prevent any violations.

    His vow on Thursday was not enough for either the Conservatives or the NDP.

    They slammed the ethics screen as ineffective.

    Conservative MP Gerard Deltell said Morneau showed he would “only act when he’s caught with his hands in the cookie jar.”

    NDP ethics critic Nathan Cullen said “maybe on Bay Street” the way out of trouble is to “cut a cheque,” but he said Morneau’s move is “an admission of guilt by no other means.”

    Ethics watchdog set to look into potential conflict of interest involving Bill MorneauEthics watchdog set to look into potential conflict of interest involving Bill Morneau

    0 0

    Georgetown family physician Dr. Nigel Phipps has admitted to showing naked pictures of himself — selfies, to be specific — to more than a dozen patients.

    But why?

    “I thought they would think what I thought . . . I thought it was humorous, innocuous,” the 57-year-old doctor testified in his own defence at his discipline hearing Thursday at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO), about how he wanted to share with patients what he thought was a “funny” story of a stranger accidentally seeing one of the naked selfies several years ago.

    “Through counselling, I realize people don’t think what you think.”

    Indeed, a number of complainants testified Thursday, as well as at the beginning of the hearing in July, that they felt embarrassed, violated, and confused when their doctor showed them the photos in the examination room. “A strong yuck factor,” as one patient put it in an agreed statement of facts filed by the college Thursday.

    Phipps admits to showing four photos of himself in various stages of undress to several patients and staff, and that this constitutes the college charge of disgraceful, dishonourable or unprofessional conduct. He denies the college allegation that his conduct amounts to sexual abuse of patients.

    The photos are as follows: one where Phipps is naked with his penis visible, one of Phipps’ naked buttocks, one where he’s naked from the groin up, but where the genitals are not visible, and a fourth showing him naked with a towel over his arm. The first three have been filed as exhibits at the discipline hearing, while Phipps admits to deleting the fourth from his cellphone.

    His lawyer, Jenny Stephenson, walked Phipps through the photo-sharing incidents Thursday, briefly displaying them to the five-member discipline panel, careful not to give a glimpse to the audience.

    Phipps said one of the photos was taken while he was on a golfing trip with friends in Arizona in 2012, and meant for his wife. He recounted how one of his friends was trying to show a woman at the next table at the restaurant a photo on Phipps’ phone, but that the two inadvertently saw the naked picture instead. Everyone thought it was funny, he said.

    Flash forward to 2014, when Phipps began telling patients — mostly those whom he had known for many years — as well as a few staff members this story, and showed them one or more naked selfies. Not many of them found it funny, he would later realize.

    “I couldn’t believe I had actually done this and didn’t think about the extreme inappropriateness of all this,” Phipps testified of the moment he realized the repercussions of his actions, when he learned the CPSO was investigating him. “I now know that that story is not very funny and completely inappropriate.”

    Phipps said he’s “devastated” about the impact the showing of the photos has had on his patients, and that he co-operated with the college probe. “I didn’t mean to hurt them in any way, shape or form . . . I was just so oblivious.”

    He maintained that he was “positive” that he did not have an erection while showing photos to one patient, contrary to what the woman testified. He also said the four photos are the only ones he showed to patients and staff, despite several complainants testifying that they saw different pictures.

    One patient was adamant she saw a different photo of his genitals. “The penis I recall seeing was in a downward position as well, but slightly more engorged,” she testified in July.

    Another patient, known as Patient K due to a publication ban on patients’ identities, said Thursday that in the photo she saw, Phipps looked more fit and his pubic hair area was groomed.

    Patient K was one of three new complainants who came forward to the college after reading media reports, including in the Star, of the first half of Phipp’ discipline hearing in the summer. The remainder of the hearing had been postponed until October because of a medical condition — revealed Thursday to be throat cancer — that made it difficult for Phipps to testify.

    Under cross-examination by Stephenson, Phipps’ lawyer, Patient K was questioned on whether it’s possible she confused some of the details of the photo she saw. Patient K stood her ground.

    “That is basically etched in my mind for the rest of my life,” she said.

    When Stephenson began to say, “It was three years ago,” Patient K replied:

    “In three years I still know what my doctor looks like naked, and that’s not something I should ever have to know.”

    Georgetown family doctor admits showing patients naked selfies was 'completely inappropriate'Georgetown family doctor admits showing patients naked selfies was 'completely inappropriate'

    0 0

    OTTAWA—Three Muslim Canadian men, detained and tortured in the Middle East during the security clampdown that followed 9/11, will get $31.25 million from the federal government.

    The payout was kept secret until this month and is part of a legal settlement that was first reported by the Star in February and announced by the Liberal government weeks later.

    The resolution and accompanying government apology put an end to a nine-year court battle for compensation that has been demanded since 2008, when a former Supreme Court judge blamed Canadian officials partly for the men’s ordeals.

    Between 2001 and 2003, Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati and Muayyed Nureddin were separately jailed in Syria and tortured by interrogators who acted, in part, on information from the Canadian spy agency CSIS and the RCMP. Former Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci concluded, in his 2008 report on their cases, that Canadian agents labelled the men Islamic extremists and shared information with other countries without proper precautions about its unreliability.

    The men were never charged.

    They sued Ottawa for $100 million.

    In March, the Liberal government announced it had reached a settlement and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale apologized to Almalki, El Maati and Nureddin for “any role Canadian officials may have played” in what led to their arrests and torture.

    While the government still refused to say how much it would pay each of the men on Thursday, the $31.25-million settlement was revealed in government accounting documents tabled in the House of Commons on Oct. 5 and quietly published online.

    In an interview with the Star, Almalki said he’s ready to try to move on from a terrible episode in his life that has stretched on for 15 years. He wouldn’t discuss the settlement because it’s confidential, and said people should instead focus on how to change the system so that something like this never happens again.

    “We were falsely targeted based on racism and bigotry,” said Almalki, 46, who lives in Ottawa with his wife and children.

    “I had to fight for years to get an inquiry, and then to show that’s what (Canadian officials) did. They falsely accused us of things we had absolutely nothing to do with.”

    Speaking in Burlington on Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the payout “a difficult lesson” for what happens when Canadian governments “of any stripe” allow a citizen’s rights to be violated.

    “I certainly hope that people remain concerned, angry and even outraged at these settlements, because no future government should ever imagine that it’s a good idea or an acceptable idea to allow Canadians’ fundamental rights to be violated,” he said.

    “When we don’t stand up for people’s rights, it ends up costing all of us.”

    On Parliament Hill, Goodale claimed the government was transparent about the settlement cost by reporting the payouts in the accounting documents published this month. He said that’s what was promised when the settlement was announced in March.

    Asked if the amount would have been less had the Conservatives settled after the Iacobucci inquiry in 2008, Goodale appeared to agree.

    “Delay is always expensive,” he said.

    The Conservatives did not quibble with the payout to the three men as they did when they denounced the $10.5-million settlement for former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr, which was announced in July.

    Rob Nicholson, a Conservative MP who was minister of justice, foreign affairs and national defence during the Harper era, told reporters that “to the extent that false information was given to foreign agencies, which was apparently what this case was all about, they certainly deserved compensation.”

    His caucus colleague, Peter Kent, added that the three men in this case are victims who “deserved every penny” of their settlement.

    El Maati, a Toronto truck driver, was the first of three men to be arrested when he travelled to Syria in November 2001 for his wedding and was stopped at the Damascus airport. He was transferred to Egypt two months later and was jailed there for more than two years.

    In 2010, El Maati told the Star he was shackled, beaten and jolted with electrical shocks on his back, legs and genitals while he was detained in Egypt.

    Almalki, a Syrian-Canadian dual citizen who works as a communications engineer, was arrested in May 2002, also at the Damascus airport, and detained for 22 months.

    In December 2003, Nureddin was arrested by Syrian officials as he crossed into the country from Iraq, where he was visiting family. The Toronto geologist was held for 33 days.

    The men were never charged.

    In his 2008 report, Iacobucci called for the government to apologize and compensate the men for how officials “indirectly” or “likely contributed” to their imprisonment and torture.

    The cases of the three men are similar to the more widely publicized ordeal of Canadian Maher Arar, who received $10.5 million from Stephen Harper’s Conservative government in January 2007. He, too, was detained for almost a year in 2002 and tortured in Syria after Canadian intelligence wrongfully flagged him for suspected terrorist links.

    The current Liberal government apologized to former Guantanamo Bay detainee Khadr in July. The Canadian-born 30-year-old, who was apprehended by American forces after a deadly firefight in Afghanistan when he was 15, also received a settlement $10.5 million from Ottawa.

    Almalki said of his own circumstances that he’s hoping to finally live a more normal life, without having to be an “open book” by devoting his time to clearing his name.

    He added that when news of the settlement cost broke Thursday, his landline and all the cellphones in his house started ringing with inquiries from reporters.

    “I understand the public curiosity. I would be curious, too. But I do think it is critically important for our country, for reforming the system, and making it better . . . that’s where the conversation ought to be. We need to know this. We need to study this. We need to keep it in mind.”

    Three Canadians tortured in Syria receive $31-million settlement from OttawaThree Canadians tortured in Syria receive $31-million settlement from Ottawa

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