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    Jean Yip was a political spouse for a little over three years, right up until last month, when her husband, Liberal MP Arnold Chan, died far too young of cancer at age 50.

    Now Yip has decided to take the full plunge into political life, moving from the sidelines to centre stage. After talking it over with Chan during his final few months, Yip, 49, has decided she would like to be the next MP for Scarborough-Agincourt.

    “It feels right,” Yip said in an interview with me this week.

    Yip doesn’t think many people will be surprised. Right after “how are you?” it was the number one question asked of her during the visitation and funeral for her husband in late September, when hundreds of people were lining up to shake hands with the family.

    “People would say: ‘I’m so sorry for your loss’ and offer their condolences — then they’d wait two seconds and they’d say: ‘Are you running?’ ”

    Many of those people would be Scarborough residents who became accustomed to seeing Yip standing in for her ailing husband over the past year, doing a lot of the canvassing and riding duties Chan was simply too ill to handle as his health deteriorated. Initially diagnosed with a rare form of nasopharyngeal cancer months after becoming an MP in a 2014 byelection, Chan recovered long enough to be elected again in 2015, but succumbed in September to the cancer’s recurrence.

    His final speech to the House in June, in which he implored colleagues to throw away talking points and listen more to each other, was a remarkable moment in the Commons.

    Yip, who was in the spectator seats that day with the couple’s three teenaged sons, says Chan urged everyone to “carry on” after he died. So this is how she’s decided to carry on.

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, also a family friend, spoke at Chan’s funeral and sat beside Yip throughout the service. But she says they haven’t discussed this succession plan, either then or since. She has been consulting with lots of Liberal friends, including some sitting MPs.

    It will be up to Trudeau to declare a byelection date for Scarborough-Agincourt — and before then, a date for the Liberal nomination meeting.

    “No nomination date has been determined as of yet in Scarborough-Agincourt,” said Liberal party spokesperson Braeden Caley, when I asked him this week about the vacancy.

    It wouldn’t be the first time that a spouse has picked up the political torch for a departed MP. The most recent example would be Dona Cadman, who ran and won for the Conservatives in 2008, a few years after the death of her MP husband, Chuck Cadman.

    But being the spouse of the late MP doesn’t always guarantee victory, even in the nomination race. When Liberal MP Shaughnessy Cohen died in 1998, her husband, Jerry, was unsuccessful in his subsequent run for the Liberal nomination in that Windsor-area riding.

    In recent years, Yip’s main work has revolved around the family: working as a Sunday school teacher, a school-lunch supervisor and, of course, at Chan’s side after he became an MP.

    Apparently there are other Liberals interested in taking the seat that Chan once occupied.

    “The Liberal Party of Canada has been approached by a variety of talented potential candidates for Scarborough-Agincourt,” Caley said.

    “All possible supporters in this riding have been emailed to notify them about the vacancy and to encourage them to register new friends, family members and neighbours to participate in the upcoming nomination process.”

    Yip, who was married to Chan for 19 years — she joked that she always knew she came after his first love, politics — said she won’t be a carbon copy of her husband. Chan, who had served as the Liberals’ deputy house leader, had loved the parliamentary aspect of the job, all the procedure and the tradition.

    Yip said that she’s more interested in the constituency work, particularly some projects in Scarborough-Agincourt, such as the Bridletwone Community Hub, and housing issues in general. She was born in Scarborough and has worked and lived in or near the riding in the almost five decades since then. Thanks to her marriage and partnership with Chan, she now sees the riding through a more political lens.

    “I did represent him in the riding a lot, especially in the end,” Yip said. This past summer, as she and her son were knocking on doors, she learned a bit more about the size of shoes she aspires to fill.

    “People really appreciated his work and especially his speech of June 12,” Yip said. “So I guess when I hear the accolades, I feel reassured.”

    She’s pretty sure that Chan would approve of this step she’s taking. “He felt I could do this job and he was willing to support anything I decided.”

    Correction, Oct. 28, 2017:This article was updated from a previous version that misstated the name of the Bridletowne Community Hub and incorrectly stated that Jean Yip had worked at Queen’s Park.

    Jean Yip to vie for late husband Arnold Chan's seatJean Yip to vie for late husband Arnold Chan's seat

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    CALGARY—Former federal cabinet minister Jason Kenney has won the leadership of Alberta’s United Conservative Party.

    The longtime Calgary MP, who held high-ranking positions in the government of Stephen Harper, beat former Wildrose leader Brian Jean and lawyer Doug Schweitzer on the first ballot.

    He took 61.1 per cent of the vote, over Jean at 31.5 per cent and Schweitzer at 7.3 per cent.

    “It’s another miracle on the Prairies,” Kenney told a cheering crowd after the result was announced.

    “Tonight we are one stop closer to renewing the Alberta advantage and getting our province back on track. Tonight we are one step closer to re-igniting our economy so that Alberta is once again that land of opportunity.

    “We are one step closer to a government focused on prosperity so that we have the means to be a compassionate and generous society.”

    Read more:

    Jason Kenney launches campaign for leadership of Alberta’s UCP

    Flawed strategy of making Alberta great again: Gillian Steward

    Members of both parties voted 95 per cent in favour of a merger.

    Kenney now leads an Opposition caucus of 27 members.

    He does not hold a seat in the legislature. He must now wait for a spot to open up in a byelection or in the next general election.

    Kenney spent the past two decades in politics. In Ottawa, he worked under Harper as the minister for immigration, employment and defence.

    The 49-year-old left federal politics last year and announced in July 2016 that Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives and the Wildrose party must unite to end vote-splitting and form an effective conservative coalition to defeat Rachel Notley’s NDP.

    The Wildrose took root more than a decade ago from conservatives disaffected with what they viewed as top-down leadership by the governing PCs along with a failure to protect private property rights and keep spending in check.

    The parties have been fighting for the soul of grassroots conservatives ever since, with both sides losing floor crossers to the other.

    Jean eventually signed on to talks to join forces and the two sides merged in July.

    Next up is a founding convention to establish governing policies and principles. Constituency associations have already been working on amalgamation and the plan is to have a full slate of candidates ready for the next election, with is set by legislation to occur in the spring of 2019.

    The leadership campaign was marked by some friction.

    Jean and Schweitzer outlined detailed plans to reduce Alberta’s debtload while keeping the rebounding economy from stalling. Kenney avoided specifics on economics. He said he supports a free-enterprise compass heading, but would let rank-and-file members set policy at the founding convention.

    On social issues, Kenney was criticized for suggesting he would allow parents to be told if their child joined a gay-straight alliance at school. Critics said that could out a child before he or she is ready and put them at risk of harm.

    Schweitzer pushed Kenney and the party to embrace a more progressive stance on social issues. He has said it’s critical to capture younger voters and remove an effective wedge issue for the NDP.

    Kenney had criticized Jean for poor management of caucus funding, which forced staffers to be laid off. Jean dismissed that complaint and said Kenney supporters were spreading misinformation on his policy positions.

    Shortly after online voting started on Thursday, the Jean and Schweitzer camps voiced concerns over the electronic voting security.

    The leadership election committee reviewed the process on Friday and said no security breaches were found.

    Jason Kenney wins Alberta conservative party leadershipJason Kenney wins Alberta conservative party leadership

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    In 1993, approaching my 60th birthday, I started to experience a curious phenomenon — the spontaneous, unsolicited rising of early memories into my mind, memories that had lain dormant for upwards of 50 years, memories of my boyhood in London before the Second World War. Moved by these, I wrote two short memoirs. I think a more general autobiographical impulse was stimulated by these brief writings, and late in 1997, I launched a three-year project of dredging, reclaiming memories, reconstructing, refining, seeking for unity and meaning, which became my book Uncle Tungsten.

    I expected some deficiencies of memory, partly because the events I was writing of had occurred half a century earlier and most of those who might have shared their memories were now dead. And partly because, in writing about the earliest years of my life, I could not call on the letters and journals I later started to keep from the age of 18.

    I accepted that I must have forgotten or lost a great deal but assumed that the memories I did have were essentially valid and reliable, and it was a shock to me when I found that some of them were not.

    A striking example of this arose in relation to the two bomb incidents that I described in Uncle Tungsten, both of which occurred in the winter of 1940-’41, when London was bombarded in the Blitz:

    One night, a thousand-pound bomb fell into the garden next to ours, but fortunately it failed to explode. All of us, the entire street, it seemed, crept away that night (my family to a cousin’s flat) — many of us in our pajamas — walking as softly as we could (might vibration set the thing off?)... The streets were pitch dark, for the blackout was in force, and we all carried electric torches dimmed with red crêpe paper. We had no idea if our houses would still be standing in the morning.

    On another occasion, an incendiary bomb, a thermite bomb, fell behind our house and burned with a terrible, white-hot heat. My father had a stirrup pump, and my brothers carried pails of water to him, but water seemed useless against this infernal fire — indeed, made it burn even more furiously. There was a vicious hissing and sputtering when the water hit the white-hot metal, and meanwhile the bomb was melting its own casing and throwing blobs and jets of molten metal in all directions.

    A few months after the book was published, I spoke of these bombing incidents to my brother Michael, five years my senior. He immediately confirmed the first bombing incident, saying, “I remember it exactly as you described it.” But regarding the second bombing, he said, “You never saw it. You weren’t there.”

    I was staggered at Michael’s words. How could he dispute a memory I would not hesitate to swear on in a court of law?

    “What do you mean?” I objected. “I can see it all in my mind’s eye now, Pa with his pump, and Marcus and David with their buckets of water. How could I see it so clearly if I wasn’t there?”

    “You never saw it,” Michael repeated. “We were both away at school at the time. But David (our older brother) wrote us a letter about it. A very vivid, dramatic letter. You were enthralled by it.” Clearly, I had not only been enthralled but must have constructed the scene in my mind, from David’s words, and then appropriated it and taken it for a memory of my own.

    After Michael said this, I tried to compare the two memories — the primary one, on which the direct stamp of experience was not in doubt, with the constructed, or secondary, one. With the first incident, I could feel myself into the body of the little boy, shivering in his thin pajamas.

    The second image, of the thermite bomb, was equally clear, it seemed to me — very vivid, detailed, and concrete. I tried to persuade myself that it had a different quality from the first, that it bore evidences of its appropriation from someone else’s experience. But although I knew, intellectually, that this memory was false, it still seemed to me as real, as intensely my own, as before. Had it, I wondered, become as strongly embedded in my psyche (and, presumably, my nervous system) as if it had been a genuine primary memory? Would psychoanalysis, or, for that matter, brain imaging, be able to tell the difference?

    All of us transfer experiences to some extent, and at times we are not sure whether an experience was something we were told or read about, even dreamed about, or something that actually happened to us.

    Daniel Schacter has written extensively on distortions of memory and the source confusions that go with them, and in his book Searching for Memory he recounts a well-known story about Ronald Reagan:

    In the 1980 presidential campaign, Ronald Reagan repeatedly told a heartbreaking story of a Second World War bomber pilot who ordered his crew to bail out after his plane had been seriously damaged by an enemy hit. His young belly gunner was wounded so seriously that he was unable to evacuate the bomber. Reagan could barely hold back his tears as he uttered the pilot’s heroic response: “Never mind. We’ll ride it down together.” The press soon realized that this story was an almost exact duplicate of a scene in the 1944 film A Wing and a Prayer. Reagan had apparently retained the facts but forgotten their source.

    Reagan was a vigorous 69-year-old at the time, would go on to be president for eight years, and only developed unmistakable dementia in his 80s. But he had been given to acting and make-believe throughout his life and had long displayed a vein of romantic fantasy and histrionism. Reagan was not simulating emotion when he recounted this story — his story, his reality, as he felt it to be — and had he taken a lie detector test (functional brain imaging had not yet been invented at the time), there would have been none of the telltale reactions that go with conscious falsehood, for he believed what he was saying.

    It is startling to realize, though, that some of our most cherished memories may never have happened — or may have happened to someone else.

    Webster’s defines “plagiarize” as “to steal and pass off as one’s own the ideas or words of another; use . . . without crediting the source . . . to commit literary theft; present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.” There is a considerable overlap between this definition and that of cryptomnesia, and the essential difference is this: plagiarism, as commonly understood and reprobated, is conscious and intentional, whereas cryptomnesia is neither. Perhaps the term “cryptomnesia” needs to be better known, for though one may speak of “unconscious plagiarism,” the very word “plagiarism” is so morally charged, so suggestive of crime and deceit, that it retains a sting even if it is unconscious.

    In 1970, George Harrison released an enormously successful song, “My Sweet Lord,” which turned out to have strong similarities to a song by Ronald Mack (“He’s So Fine”), recorded eight years earlier. When the matter went to trial, the court found Harrison guilty of plagiarism, but showed a great deal of sympathy in its judgment. The judge concluded: Did Harrison deliberately use the music of “He’s So Fine”? I do not believe he did so deliberately. Nevertheless . . . this is, under the law, infringement of copyright.

    Helen Keller was also accused of plagiarism, when she was only 12. Though deaf and blind from an early age, Keller became a prolific writer once she learned finger spelling and Braille. She wrote, among other things, a story called The Frost King, which she gave to a friend as a birthday gift. When the story found its way into print in a magazine, readers soon realized that it bore great similarities to The Frost Fairies, a children’s short story by Margaret Canby. Admiration for Keller turned into condemnation, and she was accused of plagiarism, even though she had no recollection of reading Canby’s story. (She later realized that the story had been “read” to her, using finger spelling onto her hand.) The young Keller was subjected to a ruthless and outrageous inquisition.

    But she had defenders, too, including the plagiarized Margaret Canby: “What a wonderfully active and retentive mind that gifted child must have!”

    Keller herself later said of such appropriations that they were most apt to occur when books were spelled into her hands, their words passively received. Such confusion rarely occurred if she read actively, using Braille, moving her finger across the pages.

    In 1996, I read a review of a new play, Molly Sweeney, by the eminent playwright Brian Friel. His lead character, Molly, I read, had been born blind but has her sight restored in middle age. She can see clearly after her operation, yet she can recognize nothing: she has visual agnosia because her brain has never learned to see. She finds this frightening and bizarre and is relieved when she returns to her original state of blindness. I was startled by this, because I had published an exceedingly similar story in The New Yorker only three years earlier. Indeed, when I read Friel’s play, I was surprised to find, over and above the thematic similarities, a great many phrases and sentences from my own case history. When I contacted Friel to ask him about this, he denied even knowing about my essay — but then, after I sent him a detailed comparison of the two, he realized that he must have read my piece but forgotten doing so. He was confounded: he had read many of the same original sources I mentioned in my article, and believed that the themes and language of Molly Sweeney were entirely original. Somehow, he concluded, he had unconsciously absorbed much of my own language, thinking it was his own. (He agreed to add an acknowledgment of this to the play.)

    Much is made of so-called recovered memories — memories of experiences so traumatic as to be defensively repressed and then, with therapy, released from repression. Particularly dark and fantastic forms of this include descriptions of satanic rituals of one sort or another, accompanied often by coercive sexual practices. Lives, and families, have been ruined by such accusations. But it has been shown that such descriptions, in at least some cases, can be insinuated or planted by others. The frequent combination of a suggestible witness (often a child) with an authority figure can be particularly powerful.

    From the Inquisition and the Salem witch trials to the Soviet trials of the 1930s and Abu Ghraib, varieties of “extreme interrogation,” or outright physical and mental torture, have been used to extract religious or political “confessions.” While such interrogation may be designed to extract information in the first place, its deeper intentions may be to brainwash, to fill it with implanted, self-inculpatory memories — and in this it may be frighteningly successful.

    But it may not take massive or coercive suggestion to affect a person’s memories. The testimony of eyewitnesses is notoriously subject to suggestion and to error, frequently with dire results for the wrongfully accused. With DNA testing, it is now possible to find, in many cases, an objective corroboration or refutation of such testimony, and Schacter has noted that “a recent analysis of 40 cases in which DNA evidence established the innocence of wrongly imprisoned individuals revealed that 36 of them (90 per cent) involved mistaken eyewitness identification.”

    If the last few decades have seen a surge or resurgence of ambiguous memory and identity syndromes, they have also led to important research — forensic, theoretical, and experimental — on the malleability of memory. Elizabeth Loftus, the psychologist and memory researcher, has documented a disquieting success in implanting false memories by simply suggesting to a subject that he has experienced a fictitious event. Such pseudo-events, invented by psychologists, may vary from mildly upsetting (for example, that one was lost in a shopping mall as a child) to more serious incidents (an assault by another child). After initial skepticism (“I was never lost in a shopping mall”) and then uncertainty, the subject may move to a conviction so profound that he will continue to insist on the truth of the implanted memory even after the experimenter confesses that it never happened in the first place.

    What is clear in all these cases — whether of imagined or real abuse in childhood, of genuine or experimentally implanted memories, of misled witnesses and brainwashed prisoners, of unconscious plagiarism, and of the false memories we all have based on misattribution or source confusion — is that in the absence of outside confirmation there is no easy way of distinguishing a genuine memory or inspiration from those that have been borrowed or suggested.

    Even if the underlying mechanism of a false memory is exposed, as I was able to do, with my brother’s help, in the incendiary bomb incident, this may not alter the sense of actual lived experience or “reality” which such memories have. Nor, for that matter, may the obvious contradictions or absurdity of certain memories alter the sense of conviction or belief.

    Once such a story or memory is constructed, accompanied by vivid sensory imagery and strong emotion, there may be no inner, psychological way of distinguishing true from false, nor any outer, neurological way. The physiological correlates of such memories can be examined using functional brain imaging, and these images show that vivid memories produce widespread activation in the brain involving sensory areas, emotional (limbic) areas, and executive (frontal lobe) areas — a pattern that is virtually identical whether the “memory” is based on experience or not.

    There is, it seems, no mechanism in the mind or the brain for ensuring the truth, or at least the veridical character, of our recollections. Our only truth is narrative truth, the stories we tell each other and ourselves — the stories we continually re-categorize and refine. Such subjectivity is built into the very nature of memory and follows from its basis and mechanisms in the brains we have. The wonder is that aberrations of a gross sort are relatively rare and that for the most part our memories are so solid and reliable.

    Edited excerpt from The River of Consciousness by Oliver Sacks. Copyright © 2017 by the Oliver Sacks Foundation. Published by Alfred A. Knopf Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the publisher. All rights reserved.

    How you can remember a moment when you weren’t even thereHow you can remember a moment when you weren’t even there

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    O Captain! My Captain!

    Walt Whitman wrote those resonating words as a eulogy after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

    (And that’s your American literature lesson for today.)

    The Maple Leafs don’t have a captain, of course, and seem in no hurry to award the “C” to anybody.

    It’s time.

    Captaincy matters in hockey.

    Rudderless in Toronto has been an executive decision. The prevailing sentiment is that Auston Matthews will eventually be invested; he just needs a bit more seasoning to grow into the role.

    (It should be Morgan Rielly but that’s a column for another day.)

    But here is the putative captain-in-waiting, after a dispiriting 4-2 Saturday night loss to the Flyers at the Air Canada Centre: “I felt the effort was there at times. It just seems like we take a step forward and then two steps back. A couple of good shifts, then these mental breakdowns and they’re coming down two-on-one and they’re scoring.’’

    Back-to-back losses for the first time in 2017-2018, three out of their last four.

    A bit of the Leaf luster is gone.

    Earlier on this day, an enquiring reporter was wondering who is the stand-up guy in the C-less Leafs dressing room, in a Mark Messier kind of way: To give a scolding when it’s needed, a motivational monologue as merited, or even grab a loafing teammate by the throat.

    “It’s 10 games in,” Connor Brown gently scoffed, with just a hint of exasperation over the tut-tut fall-out from a mid-week clunker by a team off to a 7-3 start (now 7-4), which would have put them on pace for a franchise-record 115 points.

    “It’s tough to pinpoint anyone,” continued the ginger Brown, mere hours away from becoming a 100-game NHL veteran and slotted onto the right side of a reconstituted line with Nazem Kadri and Leo Komarov. “We have a good group of solid leaders. For us, there’s a lot of guys who’ve been around for a while. We understand what’s expected of ourselves. We don’t need rah-rah from a certain individual. Sometimes it’s Bozie (Tyler Bozak), sometimes it’s Mo (Rielly).”

    And oftentimes it’s the coach, though the locker room is not really an echo chamber for the bench boss except for intermission cameos and post-game reckoning.

    It was a clearly chastened group that took to the ice, though, intent on applying lessons learned— re-instilled — against the Flyers, a club that limped into town on back-to-back losses and minus the services again of matinee rookie Nolan Patrick, out with a rattled brainpan.

    Quick-quick-quick out of the gate had been the morning-of mantra and that’s pretty much been the Leaf M.O. in this young season — they were leading the league with 18 first-period goals.

    Kadri made it 19 at 9:07 of the opening frame.

    Beauty of a thing it was too, as Matthews streaked in off the left-wing boards, befuddled the collapsing Philly defence — dreadful coverage — and, as Brian Elliott set up for a presumed cut-in towards the net, slapped a dilly of a pass to Kadri, who’d joined the rush directly off the bench.

    Second assist on the goal went to Josh Leivo, his first point in his first game circa 2017-2018. Indeed, Leivo accounted for a team-high three shots in the first period, with both he Marlie call-up Kasperi Kapanen injecting watch-me energy into their fourth-line minutes.

    So, it certainly appeared as if the Leafs had quickened to the criticism, of late, over sloppy defence and odd-man rushes, often arising of a failure to get the puck deep into the opposition zone and forecheck hard to keep it there.

    “We need to come out with a better start, that’s all,” Mitch Marner had vowed. “Need to calm down in the defensive zone, stay calm and talk to each other.”

    Perchance someone had also taken it upon himself to give his ’mates a stern talking to, although Marner claims nobody on this team needs to get an earful because they’re fully aware, sans speechifying.

    “We all know. Obviously we’ve all played this game for a long time.”

    Marner is, you’ll remember, 20 years old. A lifetime playing the game but not such a long time.

    “We all know what we need to do and we all know what we need to say. Sometimes nothing is said.”

    Brown: “There’s different types of leaders, right? You’re always going to have the rah-rah types and the quiet guys who lead by example.”

    And sometimes, on a good night, when you feel like you’re flying, you try to lead by, oh, scoring a couple of goals.

    As Kadri did, albeit to no avail.

    His second, in the second, was scored whilst sprawling towards the net, a full butterfly stroke, knocking the puck behind Elliott even as he took a stick in the face. That brought Toronto within one at 3-2. And Babcock could not accuse his squad of collectively taking the night off, as they had versus Carolina on Thursday, the third in a trio of 6-3 losses this year, to opponents with similar gifts of speed and transitioning adeptness, each following a particularly impressive win and all dripping with defensive zone chaos.

    “A couple of tough bounces, a couple of defensive breakdowns,” was Kadri’s assessment. “I think we played steady for the most part. A couple of tough breaks and they capitalized.’’

    No self-doubt creeping in, he insisted.

    “Not at all. We have all the confidence in the world. We understand it’s a long season and you’re going to lose a couple in a row here and there.’’

    The compete level, at least, was clearly improved. “Way better,” said Kadri. “We’re trying. When you give some players that they have odd-man rushes, they’re bound to score. We’ve just got to tighten up a little bit.”

    Still, those odd-man rushes, one after another, often off defensive turnovers in the neutral zone, are a worrisome trend.

    Philadelphia scored three of their first four goals flying in off the wing, unchecked as momentum — the breakout mojo Toronto was seeking — shifted early and was stifled by goal swaps, the Flyers striking back almost instantly after the home side was celebrating at the other end.

    Freddie Andersen had gently called out his teammates the other night, after facing a 38-shot barrage in the Hurricanes defeat, urging them to play with more pride, toughen up protecting one-goal leads. Which on this evening they enjoyed for all of two minutes and 59 seconds in the fading memory of that early first period.

    But Andersen was a notable weak link in this game, surrendering three highly stoppable goals to the Flyers, two of them on six first-period shots.

    Another soft under-belly opponent thrilled to take a pair of points off firepower Toronto, as the team, not so shiny and awesome — or Aweston — at the moment now departs on a four-game road swing to the West Coast.

    No captain, fine. But who’s going to lead them out of a blue mist funk?

    Babcock had observed earlier: “Sometimes the image we have of ourselves isn’t real.”

    Maybe these sizzling Leafs were a bit of an October mirage.

    Leafs need someone to lead them back to win column: DiMannoLeafs need someone to lead them back to win column: DiManno

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    MOGADISHU, SOMALIA—Somali security forces have ended a night-long siege at a Mogadishu hotel by five extremist attackers who stormed the building after a suicide car bomber detonated an explosives-laden vehicle at the entrance gate on Saturday afternoon. The attack killed 23 people.

    Troops regained control of the Nasa-Hablod hotel on Sunday morning, having killed three attackers and captured two alive, said Capt. Mohamed Hussein.

    Al-Shabab, Africa’s deadliest Islamic extremist group, quickly claimed responsibility for the attack.

    The assault started Saturday afternoon when a suicide truck bomb exploded outside the popular hotel in the capital. The blast twisted vehicles and caused massive damage to nearby buildings which were left with only their walls standing.

    The attackers invaded the hotel and gunfire continued as security forces fought them inside the building. Two more blasts were heard, one when an attacker detonated a suicide vest.

    Saturday’s attack came two weeks after more than 350 people were killed in a massive truck bombing on a busy Mogadishu street in Somalia’s worst-ever attack.

    The government’s Minister of Electricity & Water, Salim Aliyow Ibrow, was rescued from the hotel as heavy gunfire continued in the shootout. Some extremists hurled grenades and cut off the building’s electricity as night fell.

    Read more:

    Death toll rises to over 300 after deadliest single attack in Somalia history

    After bombing, Somalia fears renewed onslaught from al-Shabab extremist group

    Who will channel Somalia’s anger after bombings? Analysis

    Included in the dead were a mother and three children, including a baby, all shot in the head, Hussein said. Other victims included a senior Somali police colonel, a former lawmaker and a former government minister.

    Saturday’s bomber had pretended his truck had broken down before detonating it in front of the hotel’s fortified gate, said police Col. Mohamed Abdullahi.

    Al-Shabab often targets high-profile areas of Mogadishu. Although it quickly claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attack, it has not commented on the massive attack two weeks ago; experts have said the death toll in the earlier bombing was so high that the group hesitated to alienate Somali citizens.

    Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed said the new attack was meant to instil fear in Somalis who united after the Oct. 14 bombing, marching in the thousands through Mogadishu in defiance of al-Shabab.

    Since the blast two weeks ago, the president has visited regional countries to seek more support for the fight against al-Shabab, vowing a “state of war.” He also faces the challenge of pulling together regional powers inside his long-fractured country, where the federal government is trying to assert itself beyond Mogadishu and other major cities.

    The U.S. military has also stepped up military efforts against al-Shabab this year in Somalia, carrying out nearly 20 drone strikes, as the global war on extremism moves deeper into the African continent.

    The U.S. mission in Somalia on Sunday condemned the latest attack, saying the U.S. “remains committed to work with our Somali, African Union and international partners to degrade and defeat terrorism as Somalia continues on a path to stability and prosperity for its people.”

    The 22,000-strong multinational African Union force in Somalia is expected to withdraw its forces and hand over the country’s security to the Somali military by the end of 2020. U.S. military officials and others in recent months have expressed concern that Somali forces are not yet ready to take over.

    The two attacks this month have shaken public confidence in the ability of Somali army to take over from the African Union forces. Many in the capital accuse the government of not doing enough to protect them.

    “We are dying in hundreds now,” said Ahmednur Hashi, a Mogadishu resident. “Who is going to protect us?”

    Night-long siege ends in Somalia after suicide attack kills 23Night-long siege ends in Somalia after suicide attack kills 23

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    CALGARY—WestJet says computer problems caused delays for dozens of its flights on Saturday.

    The Calgary-based airline said on social media that “a significant IT outage” affected numerous systems, including check-in and reservations systems and its contact centre.

    In all 55 flights were affected, with delays lasting anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour.

    Westjet tweeted late Saturday that all passengers affected would reach their destinations by the end of Saturday and the technical problems were not expected to affect flights on Sunday.

    WestJet resumes normal operations after Saturday chaos leaves dozens of flights delayedWestJet resumes normal operations after Saturday chaos leaves dozens of flights delayed

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    HOUSTON—Cody Bellinger pulled into second base with his first World Series hit and said: “It’s a miracle!”

    With the Dodgers three innings from falling into a deep deficit, the rookie slugger sparked a late comeback that stopped the Houston Astros’ surge.

    Hitless in 13 at-bats, Bellinger doubled and scored the tying run in the seventh inning , then doubled home the go-ahead run off struggling closer Ken Giles in a five-run ninth that lifted Los Angeles to a 6-2 win Saturday night and tied the Series at two games apiece.

    “Sometimes you see in the post-season you want to try to do too much, and that’s what I was doing,” Bellinger said. “Today I tried to make an effort of not doing too much, and when you do that you get two hits sometimes. It’s a crazy game.”

    George Springer put the Astros ahead with a two-out homer in the sixth, the first hit off Los Angeles starter Alex Wood. The crowd at Minute Maid Park, where Houston had been 7-0 this post-season, was revved up in anticipation of the Astros having a chance to win the first title in their 56-season history on Sunday.

    Instead, the Series will go back to Los Angeles no matter what. Clayton Kershaw starts Game 5 for the Dodgers on Sunday night and Dallas Keuchel for the Astros in a rematch of the opener, when Kershaw pitched Los Angeles to a 3-1 win.

    Bellinger, a 22-year-old bopper who set a National League rookie record with 39 home runs this season, struck out four times in Game 3 and once more in the fifth inning — his eighth whiff of the Series.

    Dodgers manager Dave Roberts expressed faith Friday night in Bellinger and again Saturday afternoon.

    “He’s got that calmness about him,” Roberts said. “And when things speed up, he has a way of sort of resetting and not letting it spiral.”

    During batting practice, Bellinger tried to emulate teammates Andre Ethier and Logan Forsythe by hitting the ball to the opposite field.

    “I was always told these really good hitters hit the ball the other way in BP and I had never done it, and I wanted to try it,” he said. “I hit every ball in BP today to the left side of the infield. I’ve never done that before in my life. Usually I try to lift. I needed to make an adjustment.”

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    Bellinger lined a fastball to the opposite field over Marwin Gonzalez into the quirky corner next to the left-field scoreboard, chasing starter Charlie Morton. He came home on Forsythe’s two-out single off Will Harris.

    Giles entered to start the ninth and got into immediate trouble, allowing a leadoff single to Corey Seager and a walk to Justin Turner. Bellinger took a low slider, then lined a fastball at the letters to left-centre. He dropped his bat and raised a hand while running to first and clapped his hands half a dozen times in excitement after sliding into second.

    “Every day you see him grow a little bit more,” Wood said. “I think everybody kind of had the same message with him: ‘We believe in you. You’re our guy. You’re special. Remember that.’”

    Joe Musgrove relieved and allowed Austin Barnes’ sacrifice fly and Joc Pederson’s three-run homer, his second home run of the Series.

    “You like that! You like that!” Pederson yelled to teammates, a la Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins, as he came back to dugout.

    Wood, Brandon Morrow, winner Tony Watson and Kenley Jansen combined on a two-hitter — the first-ever in the Series in which both hits were home runs. Jansen allowed Alex Bregman’s two-out long ball in the ninth, the 15th home run of the Series, most ever through four games, before retiring Jose Altuve on a flyout.

    Giles, the loser, was charged with three runs.

    “They were all crappy pitches, not where I wanted them,” he said. “I need to do better. I need to pick up this team. I need to carry my weight.”

    He has an 11.75 post-season ERA, allowing runs in six of seven appearances.

    “When you’re a back-end reliever,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said, “unless you’re extraordinarily dominant, you’re only talked about when you suffer, when you struggle. So for him, he can handle it mentally. He can handle it physically.”

    Springer put the Astros ahead when he drove a curveball, Wood’s 84th and final pitch, over the left-field scoreboard and into the Crawford Boxes. Wood dropped to a knee on the mound and watched the ball land in the seats and rebound onto the field.

    Houston was nine outs from winning for the 18th time in 20 home games since returning to Minute Maid Park after Hurricane Harvey, and from becoming the first major league team to start a post-season 8-0 at home.

    But the Dodgers tied the score in the seventh. Bellinger pointed skyward when reaching second standing up on his opposite-field hit. He clapped both hands above his head, said “It’s a miracle!” and pointed for the ball to be saved.

    Los Angeles had been 1 for 17 with runners in scoring position before Forsythe’s hit.

    Making only his second appearance since Sept. 26, Wood accomplished a feat that eluded Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Orel Hershiser and other Dodgers pitching greats. In the team’s 109th World Series game, Wood became the first Dodgers pitcher to hold an opponent hitless through five innings.

    Houston had put a runner on in 14 consecutive innings before the 26-year-old lefty retired the side in order in the first.

    Morton was nearly as stingy, allowing three hits in 6 1/3 innings. This was the first Series game in which both starters allowed four baserunners or fewer.

    “The innings were rolling pretty quickly there the first four, five, six innings,” Wood said. “It kept us both of us locked in.”

    Chris Taylor singled leading off the first but was thrown out on a delayed steal attempt that ended the inning, the first runner caught stealing by Houston catcher Brian McCann since June 18. That was part of a streak of 15 straight outs by Morton before he hit Barnes on the right forearm with a pitch leading off the sixth.

    Enrique Hernandez’s single put runners at the corners and Taylor hit a two-hopper to third that Bregman scooped on an in-between hop and threw home in plenty of time for McCann to tag Barnes, who tried to stop about 10 feet from the plate and fell. Bregman also threw out the Yankees’ Greg Bird at the plate in the fifth inning of Game 7 in the AL Championship Series.

    “We’re a super-resilient team,” Bellinger said. “Taking one here to make sure we go back to LA is huge.”

    Dodgers blow open Game 4 in ninth, even World Series with AstrosDodgers blow open Game 4 in ninth, even World Series with Astros

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    U.S. senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders says Americans have much to learn from health systems outside their borders, including Canada’s.

    “We do not in the United States do a good job in looking around the rest of the world and asking the questions that have to be asked,” he said Saturday during a tour of three Toronto hospitals.

    The independent senator from Vermont has been crusading for the creation of a single-payer health system in the United States, much like Canada’s.

    He told reporters that his most important takeaway from the tour is that Canada’s health system is innovative, contrary to what he hears from U.S. critics.

    “What we heard was incredibly innovative. In fact, they are proud to be doing things that are leading the world. I think it is not a fair argument to say that the system here is not a strong system and innovative system.”

    Sanders said he was particularly impressed by his tour of Sinai Health System’s state-of-the-art neonatal intensive care unit. Built three years ago, it has separate rooms for each infant, which helps with infection control, privacy and noise.

    Pediatrician-in-chief Dr. Shoo Lee described a new model of care he has developed in which the parents of critically ill and premature infants serve as primary caregivers.

    “The nurses’ job is to teach the parent, but not to look after the baby,” the physician explained, adding that patient outcomes are much improved. The new model of care improves bonding and makes for a smoother transition home, he added.

    The unit focuses on high-risk pregnancies and care of the unborn infant. Just a few weeks ago, surgery was performed in utero on an infant that would otherwise have died, Sanders was told.

    Sanders has received much help in his efforts to reform his country’s health system from Canadian doctor Danielle Martin, a vice-president at Women’s College Hospital. She gave a speech at a news conference in Washington in September when he introduced the Medicare for All bill, aimed at creating universal access to health care.

    At Sanders’s invitation, Martin appeared before a U.S. Senate subcommittee three years ago and deftly answered tough questions about Canada’s health system. A video of her appearance, posted on Facebook by Sanders, has had more than 30 million views.

    At Women’s College, Martin and Premier Kathleen Wynne showed Sanders the hospital’s Crossroads Clinic for refugees.

    Patient Samira Nafe, a refugee who came to Canada in 2012 from Eritrea, told Sanders she had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

    “She’s getting treatment for free?” Sanders asked to nods of affirmation.

    Dr. Meb Rashid, who runs the clinic, said Nafe’s experience shows the benefits of preventative care: “We were able to diagnose something before it became a problem.”

    “You’re saving money,” Sanders remarked.

    His tour of the hospital also took a stop at its billing office, where he seemed surprised to hear only one person worked.

    In a roundtable discussion with health professionals at Women’s College, Sanders noted that 28 million Americans have no health insurance and many more are under-insured. Because sick people have high deductibles and are charged co-payments, many opt to go without care, he said. They end up getting even sicker down the road and when they do eventually get care it is so expensive some have to mortgage their homes or go bankrupt.

    He pointed out that it costs twice as much to provide a person with health care in the United States than it does in Canada. Extra administrative costs associated with private insurance are a factor.

    Sanders also visited the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre at Toronto General Hospital. There, he was told by medical director Dr. Barry Rubin that there was no waiting list at all for patients needing urgent surgery.

    Rubin explained that patients at the centre get high-quality health care from world-leading experts.

    “Nobody thinks about the expense they are going to incur,” Rubin said.

    Sanders met with a patient who had recently undergone bypass surgery as well as a procedure to correct leaky heart valves. Sanders asked him how Canadians felt about paying more in taxes than Americans but not having to pay private health insurance.

    “The good thing is I have not had to worry about what this is costing,” the patient said. “I know it is expensive.”

    The patient congratulated Sanders on his efforts to get single-payer health care introduced into the United States.

    “Many of my American friends say it’s a mess,” the patient said of the U.S. health system.

    Sanders acknowledged the Canadian health system is not perfect, noting that public coverage of drugs is limited and dentistry, for the most part, is not covered.

    Sanders will speak at Convocation Hall at the University of Toronto on Sunday. The event is sold out.

    Bernie Sanders awed by Canadian health careBernie Sanders awed by Canadian health care

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    The country’s three most dominantly Chinese census areas are all located in Toronto, according to new data from Statistics Canada — a trio of neighbouring “tracts” in Scarborough where 87 per cent of residents circled “Chinese” on their long-form questionnaires.

    But this statistic obscures a demographic shift that has been quietly unfolding since the last census, in 2006, when the area was already 80 per cent Chinese. Despite the neighbourhood’s apparent homogeneity, its makeup has changed dramatically as newcomer groups have moved in and older ones have moved on — a phenomenon playing out in many communities across Canada, where the immigrant population has reached its highest level in nearly a century.

    Only in this particular patch of Canada, the dominant group has remained the same if you’re judging by the census’ demographic categories: “Chinese.”

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    The difference is that many newcomers are now blue-collar immigrants from mainland China, whereas the area’s “old-timers” tend to be middle- or upper-class families with roots in Hong Kong. This has introduced occasional culture clashes that could be exacerbated by language barriers: mainland Chinese immigrants tend to speak Mandarin, whereas the language of Hong Kong is Cantonese.

    “I do hear some friction, but I try to mitigate the issues,” said Councillor Raymond Chin Lee, whose Ward 41 touches on the area. “In Canada, we all try to live together as Canadians.”

    On Wednesday, Statistics Canada released its latest tranche of census data, revealing that Toronto has finally tipped over into “minority majority” status, with more than half of residents now identifying as a visible minority.

    After South Asians, Chinese people make up Toronto’s largest non-white group, comprising 11.13 per cent of the city’s population. Many have concentrated in places like Agincourt, sometimes referred to by locals as “Asiancourt.”

    But drilling down to the “tract” level, a small geographic area defined by Statistics Canada for census purposes, the three most dominantly Chinese pockets in Toronto — and indeed, all of Canada — are found around the corner from Pacific Mall, one of North America’s largest Asian shopping centres.

    The three census tracts are located side by side. On a map they form a “T” shape that looks a bit like an oddly shaped shirt hanging off the laundry line that is Steeles Ave. E. The hem of the left cuff is Brimley Rd.; the right cuff’s hem is Birchmount Rd.

    This chunk of land is home to 10,855 residents, 9,445 of them Chinese. And the fact that it’s predominantly Chinese will not be surprising to anyone with even a passing familiarity with the area, where Chinese characters adorn the restaurant signs and the local Scotiabank branch is staffed by tellers who are fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese.

    Councillor Lee, who lives south of this area, bought his first home here three decades ago, when it was still mostly farmland and emerging subdivisions. “It has changed dramatically since I first moved up here in 1985,” he said.

    In the 1980s and ’90s, a tide of Chinese migrated into the suburbs, according to Arlene Chan, an author and historian of early Chinese Torontonians. Many were part of the exodus from Hong Kong after Britain announced it would be handing the former colony over to China.

    Others were landed immigrants from the downtown Chinatowns who finally had enough money to buy into the Canadian dream.

    “It was a dream of theirs to move into the suburbs, where they could have a bigger property and a better life,” Chan said. “If you came from Hong Kong or the southern part of China, you would never have had anything like that — a big house with a two-car garage.”

    Back then, Park Royal Trail, a winding semi-circle of a street off the west side of Brimley Rd., was a coveted address for middle- and upper-class Chinese families, said real estate agent Fanny Lau, who has worked in the vicinity for two decades.

    “Thirty years ago, the Hong Kong economy was doing so well,” she said. “The people … were wealthy.”

    Today, however, many of those families have moved on and the area’s cookie-cutter pink brick homes are starting to show their age. Wealthier Chinese immigrants now prefer to put down roots in Markham or Richmond Hill, according to Lau.

    The northern portion of the Port Royal area has remained predominantly Chinese, who make up 90 per cent of the population. Only these days, residents hail mostly from mainland China, especially the southeastern province of Fujian.

    “They call this area ‘Little Fujian,’ ” said Lau, who is a Cantonese speaker and who said she’s been “phased out” of this area, where Mandarin-speaking real estate agents have largely taken over.

    One of Little Fujian’s newest residents is 29-year-old Sweetie Chen, who shares a corner house with eight relatives, including her siblings, mother and two young children, who go to school nearby.

    Chen said she chose this area because a friend from home had already moved here. She likes the neighbourhood because she can easily find food that suits her tastes. Many of her neighbours also speak Mandarin, thus removing some of the pressures to quickly master English.

    “It’s a lot like home here,” she said in Mandarin. “It’s more friendly, and here I don’t feel as homesick.”

    Like many of the area’s newer immigrants, the men in her household work in the trades (they lay paving stones). Trucks and construction vans have become fixtures on the wide residential streets, though labourers can often be seen biking or walking to their work sites.

    These newer families tend to live closer to the poverty line, said Anna Wong, executive director of the nearby Chinese Family Services of Ontario. Her non-profit provides counseling and settlement services and have seen a spike in their Mandarin-speaking clientele, which has grown to roughly 15,000 in 2011 from just over 2,000 in 2008.

    This new community tends to have a high “isolation index,” she said, partly because of a lack of English skills, a barrier perpetuated by the high concentration of Mandarin-speaking residents and businesses that enable people to get by without learning English.

    “For about 66 per cent of the population (in my riding), their mother tongue is other than English and French,” said MPP Soo Wong, whose Scarborough-Agincourt riding includes one of the three census tracts in this area. “That’s very reflective of the first-generation Canadians.”

    Lee said language and cultural barriers sometimes cause tensions between new neighbours — disputes he’s occasionally called in to mitigate. He said these two Chinese communities tend to have different habits and “philosophies towards life.” He said complaints often centre around neglected gardens or outdoor clutter.

    “Maintaining a house is not the same way, because (many mainland Chinese) were used to living in condos,” he said. “The Hong Kong Chinese have been here a little longer, so they tend to learn a little bit more about how to look after their gardens.”

    May Lee is among the area “old-timers” — she and her civil engineer husband have lived here 31 years — and said she remembers reporting a neighbour whose overgrown lawn had become waist high. She is Canadian-born but her parents are from Guangzhou and speak Toishan, a language similar to Cantonese, which used to be the lingua franca on her street. “They’re all Mandarin now,” she said.

    Lee doesn’t like some of the changes she’s observed in recent years. There are often too many vehicles parked on the streets overnight. She doesn’t like seeing houses with “extra junk lying around.” Occasionally, her neighbours play noisy, late-night Mahjong games in their garages.

    “They’re slapping down the tiles and yelling,” she said, then laughed. “I mean, they’re having fun, and my parents did that too. But some people just don’t like it; they think it’s gambling.”

    But Lee acknowledged that this area has long been a place for new beginnings. Even the non-Chinese households are diverse. On her street, there is a Jamaican couple, a South Asian family, a Korean household and a Swedish-Chinese family.

    Her next-door neighbour, a 30-year-old cake artist named Natalie Stanchevski. Her parents also started over in Canada, after moving here from Macedonia.

    “We’re all just immigrants,” Stanchevski said, “doing our own thing.”

    Census shows big changes in Scarborough’s Little ChinaCensus shows big changes in Scarborough’s Little ChinaCensus shows big changes in Scarborough’s Little ChinaCensus shows big changes in Scarborough’s Little ChinaCensus shows big changes in Scarborough’s Little ChinaCensus shows big changes in Scarborough’s Little ChinaCensus shows big changes in Scarborough’s Little ChinaCensus shows big changes in Scarborough’s Little China

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    The withdrawal of charges against about a dozen men caught up in Toronto police’s “Project Marie” operation in Marie Curtis Park last year has again called into question the thinking behind the plan, which critics say was homophobic.

    The six-week project last fall in the Etobicoke park, which included the use of undercover officers seeking individuals interested in sexual activity, led to at least 72 people, mostly men, ticketed for non-criminal offences including trespassing and public sexual activity. Police said at the time that only one person was charged with a criminal offence.

    Almost immediately after news of the project’s results broke last November, a group of about 10 lawyers banded together to offer their services free to anyone caught up in the operation. Toronto lawyer Marcus McCann told the Star about 20 per cent of the individuals ticketed reached out to the group, and all of them had their tickets withdrawn by the prosecution over the course of 10 months, and as recently as September. McCann said fines for trespassing and sexual activity could total about $600.

    “In terms of the legal defences, the lesson here is the same as it has been for 30-plus years: that those who choose to fight these types of morality raids tend to be vindicated,” McCann said.

    Read more:

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    “The tickets themselves are fairly minor, no more serious than a jaywalking ticket, and yet the consequences for those who are affected by Project Marie can be very, very serious. We know historically that the effect of these kinds of morality raids has been devastating on some of those captured by them, leading to the break-up of families, depression, other mental issues, suicide attempts. These are high-stigma offences.”

    Toronto police have always denied that Project Marie was homophobic, but rather, they say, it was an attempt to respond to complaints from some residents about public nudity, indecent exposure and drug and alcohol consumption in the park. The force has since acknowledged that its LGBTQ liaison officer was not consulted before the execution of Project Marie, and that it should have spoken with LGBTQ groups beforehand.

    “At the time, Project Marie was successful in addressing the immediate concerns that were raised by local residents,” said Toronto police spokesperson Meaghan Gray on behalf of 22 Division. “However, we know Project Marie raised concerns and, in retrospect, we should have considered outreach to our LGBTQ community partners. Going forward, as we continue to receive community complaints about Marie Curtis Park and other locations, we will execute enforcement projects in good faith.”

    Gray said uniformed officers visited the park before the undercover officers who issued tickets “and engaged with those found to be loitering in the park.”

    “They were told in advance why there was an increased police presence and that certain activities were not permitted by law in the park.”

    Critics of the project have pointed to a lack of understanding on the part of the police and some residents as to why men who have sex with men would be “cruising” in the park in the first place, and that there were other alternatives to bringing in the police, such as working with local LGBTQ groups, using bylaw officers instead of police officers, and creating a public awareness campaign about sharing space in the park.

    “People use parks for many reasons that might not be considered ‘public’ or aligned with mainstream public values,” said Jonathan Valelly, a member of Queers Crash the Beat, a collective of queer and trans people “invested in police accountability and challenging the violence of the criminal justice system.”

    Valelly highlighted that closeted individuals may not necessarily feel safe, for example, in a neighbourhood designated as a gay village, where many other homosexual individuals meet.

    “People actually cruise in public parks because we live in a homophobic society,” he said, “which means going to places marked as gay in the public sphere, such as a gay bar or gay area of town, is not necessarily safe for people, or comfortable for people, psychically or physically. . . . Gay men and men who have sex with men are a resilient bunch, who will find each other in a way that doesn’t really bother anyone else.”

    Politicians from the three levels of government were highly critical of Project Marie, including MPP Cheri DiNovo.

    The police operation “was a complete waste of public dollars and, more to the point, other than just dollars, someone should be held responsible for that,” DiNovo, the NDP’s LGBTQ critic, told the Star. “Even the ones who had the charges withdrawn, that’s incredible stress and really, let’s face it, what’s behind this is homophobia.”

    DiNovo said she would like to know if Toronto police have come up with a policy on how to better handle complaints similar to those received from residents before Project Marie last year.

    It’s unclear just how many charges were withdrawn, successfully or unsuccessfully prosecuted, or where individuals plead guilty.

    McCann, the lawyer, said stigma may have prevented some individuals from calling a lawyer and seeking help. Along with other lawyers, activists and politicians, McCann wants to know the cost of Project Marie, as well as the number of officers involved and who approved it.

    Gray, at Toronto police, said the force does not disclose details about resources put into any project. She confirmed that Const. Kevin Ward at 22 Division co-ordinated the project, which like any project required the approval of the unit commander.

    Ward is facing professional misconduct charges before the police tribunal for allegedly having an inappropriate relationship with a college student, sharing sensitive police information with a member of a student group he helped create, and making inappropriate comments, gestures or suggestions to members of the group. Reached by the Star, Ward’s lawyer, Gary Clewley, declined to comment on the charges.

    “Going forward, one thing we learned from Project Marie is how (to) balance enforcing the law with what is seen as commonly acceptable behaviour amongst a group of people, and how (to) connect with the partners that we’ve built up in the community to reach that balance,” Gray said.

    Tickets withdrawn after ‘morality raids’ in Etobicoke’s Marie Curtis ParkTickets withdrawn after ‘morality raids’ in Etobicoke’s Marie Curtis Park

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    Police are treating the death as suspicious and the homicide unit took over the investigation.

    Toronto police investigating homicide after man found with stab woundsToronto police investigating homicide after man found with stab wounds

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    Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre pointed out there are currently "150 cranes representing $25 billion of investment in Montreal."

    Montreal sees construction boom amid strong economy, political stabilityMontreal sees construction boom amid strong economy, political stability

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    HALIFAX—They are young. They are women. And they are racialized.

    Young women of colour are at the vanguard of Halifax’s social justice movement, part of a new generation of social activists.

    Kati George-Jim is a 21-year-old Indigenous student and member of Dalhousie University’s board of governors.

    Masuma Khan is a 22-year-old Muslim student leader at the Halifax university.

    Rebecca Thomas is a 31-year-old Dalhousie graduate and Mi’kmaq poet laureate.

    Together, they are unapologetically standing up for social justice and refusing to back down in the face of controversy.

    They are harnessing an ethos of social unrest emanating across the country and beyond, impatiently working to dismantle white privilege, patriarchy and heterosexism.

    And they are not going away.

    “Racialized women have always been at the forefront of civil rights movements,” said Margaret Robinson, Dalhousie University assistant professor of sociology and social anthropology. “What’s changed is the broader society’s ability to recognize them for their leadership and work.”

    Social media and growing up with a Black president in the United States has also shifted the social justice movement, she said.

    “The new wave of activists grew up seeing a Black president for eight years,” Robinson said. “They’ve had access to instantaneous online information and communication that I couldn’t have dreamed of as a child. That changes everything.”

    Rebecca Thomas, Halifax’s aboriginal poet laureate, said young women are being empowered by higher education.

    “The more you start to understand and learn, the more you want to do something,” she said. “Education is very empowering. We’re being told that our voices matter, and we’re standing up to be heard.”

    Thomas, originally from New Brunswick, said women of colour have always had strong voices, and that civil rights movements in the past have helped pave the way for the new generation.

    Young women are now starting to “punch through power structures” once reserved for white men, Thomas said.

    “We’re recognizing the strength we have, and it’s really great when you get the community’s backing,” said Thomas, who has a master’s degree in social anthropology from Dalhousie.

    Last spring, she appeared before Halifax council with a poem chiding councillors for shutting down debate last year over how the city commemorates its controversial founder.

    Edward Cornwallis issued a bounty on the scalps of Thomas’s Mi’kmaq ancestors but is still honoured with a park, statue and even a street within a stone’s throw of the city’s Mi’kmaq friendship centre.

    Moved by her poem, a rookie councillor decided council needed to revisit the issue, and the city has since created a panel to examine how Halifax should pay tribute to Cornwallis.

    Thomas said her official role with the city allows her to work for change from the inside, but at times she feels the need to self-censor.

    “I find myself in this torn and unfortunate position to make my arguments palatable, so I keep getting invited back, so I can still continue to poke and prod,” she said. “I have a duty and responsibility to keep access to these people in power.”

    While Thomas may take a more poetic and amicable approach to social activism, she applauds the more militant actions of others.

    Masuma Khan, a Dalhousie Student Union executive, stood firmly in solidarity with Indigenous protests against Canada 150 celebrations.

    She refused to back down, even under threat of sanctions as the university investigated her for a profane Facebook post that criticized “white fragility.”

    Dalhousie dropped the complaint against Khan last week, in part due to mounting concerns about violent and hateful messages she was receiving.

    “It’s a matter of life and death. Standing up against white supremacy is not an easy thing,” said Khan, who wears a hijab and was born and raised in Halifax.

    “There are times I get frustrated. But I don’t have a choice,” the fourth-year international development studies student said. “People shoving supremacist ideologies in my face make me want to dismantle those structures even more.”

    Khan added: “Our existence is our resistance. I’m going to exist, I’m going to keep going. It doesn’t stop here.”

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    That sense of urgency is shared by Kati George-Jim of the T’Sou-ke First Nation in British Columbia.

    “Racialized women are taking control of the conversation,” the fourth-year political science student said. “With my identity comes responsibility. As an Indigenous woman, I have a responsibility to speak up and use my voice.”

    George-Jim took on Dalhousie’s board of governors for what she called institutionalized racism, prompting an apology from the board’s chairman who insisted Dalhousie is not led by racists.

    “To me, it just feels like everyday life. It doesn’t feel like social activism,” she said.

    It’s a sentiment all three share.

    “We don’t stop being women of colour at the end of the day when it’s comfortable and time to relax,” Thomas said. “We don’t get to take a break from our own oppressions.”

    Young women of colour at forefront of Halifax’s social justice movementYoung women of colour at forefront of Halifax’s social justice movement

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    Three artists sit around a table, reminiscing over photographs of a Toronto warehouse, a rugged space that’s been home to artisans for decades. Looming over the discussion is the property’s imminent redevelopment.

    Peter MacCallum, Karl Schantz and Alfred Engerer each balk at an arrangement between the city and a residential developer that will eventually lead to the demolition of the warehouse, located, near Dufferin and Queen West.

    MacCallum and Schantz have studios elsewhere in the city, but have turned up to weigh in on the discussion, which revolves around city decisions that threaten artistic environments.

    “My thing is about preserving this building,” said Alfred Engerer, who is the building’s superintendent. “I love this building. I don’t want it to go. Their intent is to fully destroy it and replace it with condominiums.”

    The plan for the site was given the green light by the city after a settlement was reached with the developer in 2015 to incorporate work spaces for artisans into a predominately residential design.

    Engerer said the issue is yet another example of displacing artists to make way for gentrification.

    “Why don’t people support the existing?” he said. “F--k the developer! Go build your God damn condos north of St. Clair or Eglinton! Stop destroying communities! This condo scene has added nothing,” adding that the plan’s conditions to build studio space for struggling artists or workers don’t go far enough and are too vague.

    By Engerer’s last count, about three months ago, the 117,000-square-foot warehouse had 43 operating studios and at least 138 people working out of it.

    The property is rented out to a diverse group of tenants; wood workers, designers, filmmakers, dancers and others form a close-knit community.

    A site approval plan was submitted to the city on Oct. 6, 2017. Three towers — the tallest is 12 storeys — will be erected at an undetermined date. There is a two-month long revision period, during which city departments will submit comments.

    One building will be used for light manufacturing, said Councillor Ana Bailao. Some of the space will be allotted for mixed-use purposes suach as welding and wood shops or design studios.

    “The incubator is really to create affordability and support for startup manufacturing companies and will, hopefully, allow them to mature into the rest of the space,” she said. “We understand the importance of these spaces and the importance of small businesses.

    “I will do everything I can to support them.”

    Rent for space on the first two floors of the building will be offered at a reduced rate for 25 years.

    Provincial records show the property was bought for $32 million in August.

    “There’s 45,000 square feet of commercial space [and, in addition] . . . about 15,000 square feet is going to be for incubator space,” said developer Adrian Rocca, who said the property is underused.

    Rocca said the residential units will be rentals, not condos.

    Engerer took a Star reporter on a tour of the warehouse, darting from door to door to facilitate interviews with tenants.

    Lisa Gray, a florist and owner of Sweet Woodruff, said she will be moving to a new space next month, partly due to the buildings uncertain fate.

    “I was afraid they would terminate my lease during busy wedding season,” she said.

    “I can’t afford to be in Toronto anymore.”

    Patrick Yeung works with ceramics, sharing rent with several others of the same ilk. He said many carpenters and glass workers have left the downtown core in search of studio space that’s more permanent, for destinations such as Etobicoke and Hamilton.

    “There’s been a lot of uncertainty, and that’s mentally wearing,” he said.

    Queen West artists stand against demolition of studio space Queen West artists stand against demolition of studio spaceQueen West artists stand against demolition of studio space Queen West artists stand against demolition of studio space

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    While the city cooled into seasonal fall weather Sunday, one auditorium at the University of Toronto was “feeling the Bern.”

    The 1,500-seat Convocation Hall was packed with observers keen to hear U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders speak on what the U.S. can learn from the Canadian single-payer health care system and other grassroots movements, with a few punches aimed at U.S.

    “Human dignity demands that all people have healthcare,” said the independent Senator who gained international attention during his bid to become the Democratic nominee for President of the United States in the 2016 race. Sanders ran for presidential candidate on a platform that centered around universal healthcare and free university tuition.

    Sanders toured Toronto General, Women’s College and Mount Sinai hospitals on Saturday in advance of the talk, and indicated that Americans have much to learn health systems outside their borders.

    “Real change never happens from the top on down,” he said. “It always happens from the bottom on up.”

    In his speech, Sanders pointed to the 28 million Americans who don’t have health insurance and the coverage for those who do. Worrying about how to pay for hospital bills, “hinders your ability to recover,” he said.

    Read more:

    Bernie Sanders awed by Canadian health care

    He related the struggle for universal, comprehensive health care in the U.S. to the civil rights, women’s rights and gay rights movements. Dignity and health are part of the freedom citizens are guaranteed under the constitution, he said.

    “Of course we’re trying to get Donald Trump to read the constitution,” he elaborated, to applause from the crowd.

    Sanders made multiple references to Tommy Douglas, the late Saskatchewan politician who is often called the father of Canadian healthcare, saying Douglas’ efforts are an example of how political change emanates from the convictions of voters.

    Douglas didn’t just “wake up one day” with the idea for Medicare, Sanders said. His success as a champion for universal healthcare depended on a grassroots movement.

    Sanders was introduced by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, who said he “encourages us to think bold” on healthcare reform and minimum wage.

    Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh was also in the crowd, and drew loud cheers from the room of Sanders fans.

    With “the immense love” for Sanders, Singh said, “it’s really incredible that there’s this strong love for progressive politics” and Sanders’ message that healthcare should be viewed as a human right resonates with him, and the NDP.

    “That’s why we put forward a motion for pharmacare nationally, and I’d like to see dental included too,” he said.

    Tickets to Sunday’s event were fully reserved online minutes after they were made available last week. The booming crowd was comprised largely of students and young people who were keen just to catch a glimpse of the Senator.

    Student Hamdi Jimale and her friends were the first ticket holders in line, arriving at 7:00 a.m. to make sure they could get prime seats.

    “Bernie is definitely a trailblazer,” said Jimale.

    Her friend Diana Subron, a dual U.S.-Canadian citizen, said it was meaningful to her to see an American senator take interest in Canada as a potential model.

    “Bernie doing this is a symbol of hope,” Keisha St. Louis-McBurnie, another friend, added.

    Rohan Sahgal, who stood in the rush line hoping to get in to the event starting at 5:45 a.m., was one of the students who met Saunders as he arrived at Convocation Hall.

    “His message really resonated with our generation,” said Sahgal. “He’s principled, and he stands by everything he says.”

    Sanders’ talk was followed by a sit-down conversation with Dr. Danielle Martin, a Canadian physician whose testimony on Canadian healthcare has been central to the senator’s “Medicare for all” campaign.

    “We’re all on a journey here and it’s not easy,” said Martin, adding that Canada’s healthcare system is not perfect.

    “I know that Canadians are polite people,” Sanders said, but on this matter he advised “be a little bit loud.”

    “Stand up and defend (universal healthcare) all over the world,” he said.

    Bernie Sanders compares U.S. health care struggles to rights movements in Toronto talk on Canadian systemBernie Sanders compares U.S. health care struggles to rights movements in Toronto talk on Canadian systemBernie Sanders compares U.S. health care struggles to rights movements in Toronto talk on Canadian systemBernie Sanders compares U.S. health care struggles to rights movements in Toronto talk on Canadian systemBernie Sanders compares U.S. health care struggles to rights movements in Toronto talk on Canadian systemBernie Sanders compares U.S. health care struggles to rights movements in Toronto talk on Canadian system

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    College students are now worried about the possibility of losing their semester as a strike by their teachers enters its third week.

    With the job action dragging on, they are also worried that in order to save the school year, it could instead be extended — adding to their expenses and interfering with job plans.

    A protest and rally are planned for Wednesday at Queen’s Park.

    “Though a college semester has never been lost because of a faculty strike, students are increasingly concerned about this becoming reality,” said Joel Willett, president of the College Student Alliance, in a written statement. “Lost class time, especially a lost semester, can result in delayed graduation, additional financial requirements, and student visa confusion. This is not what students signed up for.”

    Willett said students are suffering, and “we urge negotiating parties to remember students are at college to learn and not to be used as pawns.”

    Read more:

    College students and striking faculty face same challenges with precarious work: Opinion

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

    International students face uncertainty over Ontario colleges strike

    The strike, which began Oct. 16, saw 12,000 full-time and partial-load instructors — those who teach anywhere from seven to 12 hours a week — hit the picket lines at the province’s 24 public colleges, impacting more than 300,000 students. The Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union (OPSEU), which represents instructors, is fighting for at least 50 per cent of teachers to be full-time, as well as improvements to wages.

    The College Employer Council has said the union’s demands will cost $250 million, and lead to the loss of thousands of contract positions. It argues half of all teaching hours are covered by full-time professors, and that its final offer to the union gives preference to full-time hiring.

    (Depending on how it’s calculated, full-time faculty represent about one-third of all teachers strictly by head count, and by teaching hours they represent about 50 per cent.)

    Council CEO Don Sinclair has said the colleges have to reach a deal that is fiscally responsible and that gives flexibility in hiring given declining enrolment.

    Both sides remain far apart, and have said they will return to the table when the mediator believes there is some hope of a deal.

    “There are no talks scheduled and we are equally as frustrated as the students,” said J.P. Hornick, who is head of OPSEU’s college bargaining team. She said the union wants to bargain, “but we can’t really negotiate if the other side is saying there is one path to a settlement. We are hopeful (advanced education) Minister Matthews uses to her position . . . to push them back to the table and move them from their positions.”

    The union has a rally and march planned for Thursday, and Hornick said morale remains “very high on the picket lines. Faculty are worried and want to be back in our classrooms, but people are willing to stand strong on this for as long as it takes.”

    The government, which is not a party to the negotiations, has been urging both sides to return to the table.

    Sinclair said the colleges are equally 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. OPSEU has created this mess; they know where the settlement zone is” but aren’t willing to compromise.

    Deb Matthews, minister of advanced education and skills development, has said she is very troubled by the lack of talks, but that it’s too early to talk about when the government might intervene.

    “We respect the collective bargaining process which is a process between the faculty union and the College Employer Council. We ‎know that the solution to this strike is at the bargaining table; however, the bargaining parties have not met since the strike began,” Matthews said.

    “Both the premier and myself are urging both parties to return to the table and find a solution that allows students to return to the classroom where they belong.”

    Matthews met with student groups last week and she said “they have real and understandable concerns about the impact this strike may have on their education … we are committed to doing everything we can to connect students to the resources they need to stay informed. I encourage students to continue to make their voices heard and urge both parties back to the table to get an agreement that quickly that puts students back in the classroom‎.”

    She said the federal government has given assurances that students here on a visa will not be adversely impacted by the strike.

    And, Matthews added, “every college is working to have a contingency plan so that when they do come back, no students will lose their semester.”

    At the legislature, Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown has said the premier needs to put more pressure to get the two sides back to bargaining.

    “We can’t afford to have students lose their academic year,” he told reporters.

    NDP education critic Peggy Sattler said students are unfairly caught in the middle.

    “They worry whether they will be able to complete their program requirements. Many are paying both tuition and rent, and are understandably anxious about the financial burden they are carrying when their semester might be lost.”

    Students worry as Ontario college strike hits third weekStudents worry as Ontario college strike hits third week

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    Toronto police released security images Monday of a suspect they said falsely reported an armed hostage-taking on King St. last week, causing traffic chaos and confusion for three hours.

    The prank call came in to police at 1 p.m. on Oct. 26, prompting officers — including the Emergency Task Force — to surround the 365 Dispensary and the Underground Garage at the southwest corner of King and Blue Jays Way. Traffic and TTC routes along King were halted as emergency responders stood by.

    When investigators made their way into the building, they found it empty. At the time, they were unsure if the call was fake or if a hostage-taker had managed to escape.

    In a press release issued Monday morning, police confirmed the call was a hoax, saying it came from a payphone near Spadina Ave. and Cecil St., in the Grange Park area.

    Read more: False report of armed hostage-taker on King St. W. causes traffic chaos, baffles police

    The suspect is described as a man with a dark complexion and medium build, between five feet, 10 inches tall and six feet two inches. He’s likely between 25 and 35 years of age, said police.

    Police also said the suspect wore glasses, a green camouflage jacket, black pants, black shoes, a black backpack and a black baseball cap. He rode a black, vintage-style bicycle with a black mudguard and wooden rack on the rear.

    Investigators are asking anyone with information to contact police at 416-808-5200, or anonymously through Crime Stoppers.

    Police confirm King St. hostage-taker hoax, release photos of suspectPolice confirm King St. hostage-taker hoax, release photos of suspect

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    Dazzling. Thrilling. Breathtaking.

    You wouldn’t normally associate such adjectives with a TTC station. But that was actually the typical reaction Saturday when the public got a sneak peek at three new stations on the long-awaited Toronto-York Spadina subway extension, on track to open Dec. 17.

    “It’s just so unique; it really stands out,” said Israel Mbevi, while outside the new Pioneer Village station on Steeles Ave. W. in the rain with his 12-year-old son Baraka.

    “We came here from Mississauga on a rainy day just to see this. He loves anything to do with trains,” Mbevi said.

    The trains aren’t in service yet, so shuttle buses ferried droves of curiosity seekers, transit buffs, train fanatics and long-suffering commuters from Sheppard West station, on the western side of the Yonge-University line, up to the Pioneer Village, Highway 407 and Vaughan Metropolitan Centre stations.

    Officials said by the halfway point of the four-hour open house that more than 2,000 people had already visited the stations.

    The six-stop, 8.6-kilometre extension has been in the works for over a decade and was beset by a two-year delay and cost overruns that ballooned to $3.2 billion from $2.63 billion.

    Gary David Brown said he was “attracted by the novelty of it, and just curious to see how our tax dollars are being spent.”

    Spectators were wowed by the ultra-modern architecture and design touches including huge skylights, reflective ceilings, a giant stained-glass mural, terrazzo flooring and slanted columns on the platform and brass railings that include a ledge for cyclists to just glide their bikes down the stairs beside them to get to the train.

    Each has a dramatically different design to reflect the character of the nearby community, said project director Keith Sibley, whose project management firm Bechtel took over in 2015.

    “I’m happy to say we’re in position to open Dec. 17th,” he said.

    Sibley noted how people told him that the massive brown chandelier at Pioneer Village station resembles “the sesame seed bun on a Big Mac, or a very big mushroom.”

    “People are saying the 407 station looks like a spaceship has landed,” noted Sibley, who was thrilled with the turnout and all the questions he was being asked.

    With less than 50 days to go before opening day on the line, visitors were scooping up TTC memorabilia for sale at Pioneer Village station while a two-piece band played “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” for all the kids running around. People talked to the architects and transit officials while York University had recruiters on site and of course there was an information stand for Black Creek Pioneer Village, a 10-minute walk from the station.

    The other three stops on the highly anticipated extension will include Finch West, Downsview Park and York University.

    With his two children in tow, Toronto shop teacher David Hann said he was pleased to see it all finally come to fruition, though oo late for his sister, who endured the dreaded commute to the remote York University campus where she attended school.

    “It was one of the reasons I went to U of T,” he said with a laugh.

    “It’s also been . . . years since we saw the last subway line built, and I was in high school then, so it’s been a while,” he said, referring to the Sheppard subway line.

    Toronto-York Spadina subway extension lures crowds with station sneak peeksToronto-York Spadina subway extension lures crowds with station sneak peeks

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    A man charged with murder told court on Monday that he slept with several women and didn’t care “too much” about an ongoing feud between his girlfriend and Laura Babcock, a Toronto woman who the Crown alleges was killed for being the odd one out in a love triangle.

    Dellen Millard painted himself as a bad boyfriend to Christina Noudga, a woman he was dating in 2012 when Babcock disappeared.

    Karoline Shirinian, a friend of both women, told court that Millard was aware of the bad blood between his girlfriend and Babcock.

    Read more:

    Trial into Laura Babcock’s murder hears of bitter text message exchange: DiManno

    Trial hears about bitter feud in alleged love triangle involving Laura Babcock

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

    “And I didn’t seem to care too much about it, did I?” asked Millard, who is representing himself.

    “No,” Shirinian said.

    Millard repeatedly asked Shirinian if she thought he cared about Noudga’s feelings.

    “No,” Shirinian said again and again.

    Millard, 32, of Toronto, and his friend Mark Smich, 30 of Oakville, Ont., are charged with the first-degree murder of Babcock, whose body has not been found. Both men have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

    The Crown alleges Babcock became a problem for Millard, and together with Smich they killed the 23-year-old and burned her body in a large incinerator that was found on Millard’s farm, near Waterloo, Ont.

    Millard asked Shirinian if she knew that he was sleeping with other women, including his former fiancée and a stripper in Mexico, at the same time he was dating Noudga.

    Shirinian agreed, but said Noudga didn’t know about the other women until later in the relationship.

    “So I wasn’t too thoughtful when I was with Christina, right?” Millard asked.

    “I couldn’t agree to anything more than that statement,” Shirinian said.

    Megan Orr, another witness who took the stand later on Monday, became emotional as she talked about how Babcock, her best friend, felt about the love triangle.

    Orr said Babcock spoke about Millard all the time, pointing to an incident with Noudga in the months before Babcock disappeared in the summer of 2012.

    Babcock told Noudga by text that she had slept with Millard.

    Noudga responded with a “rude text,” Orr said.

    “Did you miss your meds today? You’re a crazy psycho b---h, you had him, you lost him, give it up,” Noudga wrote to Babcock, Orr said.

    Court has heard that Millard told Noudga he was going to fix the problem with Babcock.

    “First I am going to hurt her. Then I’ll make her leave,” Millard allegedly said in a text to Noudga. “I will remove her from our lives.”

    Orr cried several times during her testimony.

    “I know she had a lot of emotional issues going on, but I understood her,” she said of Babcock. “She was bubbly, outgoing — she was amazing.”

    Orr said she would speak “15 to 20” times a day with Babcock before the two had a falling out in March 2012. But they rekindled their relationship just before Babcock disappeared that July.

    Court has heard that Babcock had become an escort in 2012. She had talked about starting her own escort business, Orr said.

    “She asked me to join in with her in the escorting,” Orr said.

    “When I declined she asked me to be more of an assistant for her and she’d pay me — really good money or give me a Louis Vuitton bag.”

    “Did you agree to do that?” asked Cameron.

    “No. It’s nothing I agree with,” Orr said. “I basically just said, ‘take care of yourself, we’re not strangers, you can call me any time.’”

    Accused killer didn’t care about girlfriend’s feud with Laura Babcock, witness tells murder trialAccused killer didn’t care about girlfriend’s feud with Laura Babcock, witness tells murder trial

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    A curb on texting and walking may be an idea whose time has come, says Premier Kathleen Wynne.

    With Liberal MPP Yvan Baker introducing a private member’s bill Monday to prevent pedestrians from using phones or other electronic devices when crossing the street, the premier suggested it could be a part of evolving road-safety laws.

    “Twenty years ago, nobody was walking around with a phone. And, so, now, we’ve got these machines and I think that we need . . . to push ourselves to make sure that we have a safe culture around them,” Wynne told reporters.

    “We are looking at a culture shift,” she said at a campaign-style stop at The Irv gastro-pub in Cabbagetown, where she was promoting the Liberal government’s labour reforms.

    Asked if there isn’t a danger of Ontario becoming a nanny state where Big Brother is watching the everyday behaviour of citizens, Wynne argued that technological changes have always necessitated new laws.

    “A hundred years ago, there were no stop signs, and so, you probably could have made that argument then. And there were no cellphones 100 years ago,” the premier said.

    “So now we’ve got this new technology that is changing behaviour, and so, if it is changing behaviour to the point where people are at risk, just like having cars changed behaviour to the point where people were at risk, then I think we need to look at the laws and say, ‘Do we have enough?’ ” she said.

    “I’m not saying that this should be put in place, but I do think it’s an interesting idea.”

    Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca emphasized there are no plans to incorporate the proposal into the government’s safety initiatives “at this point in time.”

    Last year, Del Duca said, if the city of Toronto wanted to ban texting and walking, it could do so using its municipal authority.

    New Democrat MPP Cheri DiNovo (Parkdale-High Park), who has long advocated for tougher laws to protect pedestrians and cyclists from distracted drivers, dismissed Baker’s initiative as “a victim-blaming bill.”

    “It shows where the government’s heart is; they’re trying to deflect from the fact that we’ve had the worst year — 53 deaths on record — for our pedestrians,” said DiNovo.

    Baker (Etobicoke Centre) said his goal with the Phones Down, Heads Up Act is not to underplay the danger of distracted drivers on their phones and other devices.

    “Toronto is already one of the worst cities in North America when it comes to traffic. With winter quickly approaching, road conditions can make it difficult to stop,” the MPP said.

    “I would like pedestrians to be aware of the risks of crossing the road while (they are) distracted by phones and other electronic devices. My bill would strengthen road safety by encouraging pedestrians and drivers to keep each other safe.”

    Brian Patterson, president and CEO of the Ontario Safety League, said Baker’s bill is “consistent with the evolution of safety in the province of Ontario.

    “It focuses on the risky behaviour, allowing for education and enforcement,” said Patterson.

    Under the bill, scofflaws would be slapped with a $50 fine on the first offence, increasing to $75 for a second infraction, and $125 on a third and for subsequent violations.

    Exceptions would include using a phone to call the police, fire services or an ambulance, as well as calls that begin before a pedestrian has started crossing the street.

    Pedestrian texting ban worth considering: WynnePedestrian texting ban worth considering: Wynne

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