Are you the publisher? Claim or contact us about this channel


Embed this content in your HTML

Search

Report adult content:

click to rate:

Account: (login)

More Channels


Channel Catalog


Channel Description:

TOPSTORIES

older | 1 | .... | 1058 | 1059 | (Page 1060)

    0 0


    NEW YORK—A seething U.S. President Donald Trump is placing blame for the current state of the widening Russia investigation on his son-in-law Jared Kushner, according to a report Wednesday.

    As indictments were unsealed against former Trump campaign staff and special counsel Robert Mueller revealed Monday that at least one former Trump campaign adviser has pleaded guilty to federal charges, Trump’s frustration with Kushner has grown exponentially, Vanity Fair reported.

    The charges against former campaign chairperson Paul Manafort, which Trump himself said happened “long before” he joined the eventual GOP nominee’s team, should also worry the president, according to former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg.

    Read more:

    Donald Trump handily survives latest Russia revelations: Walkom

    Upstairs at the White House, fuming with the TV on: How Donald Trump digested the Russia indictments

    Papadopoulos claims Trump campaign officials agreed to pre-election meeting with Russia

    “Here’s what Manafort’s indictment tells me: Mueller is going to go over every financial dealing of Jared Kushner and the Trump Organization,” Nunberg said. “Trump is at 33 per cent in Gallup. You can’t go any lower. He’s f ---ed.”

    Manafort and business associate Rick Gates face 12 felony counts, including money laundering, conspiracy and acting as unregistered foreign agents.

    In a call Tuesday with former White House Chief strategist Stephen Bannon, Trump laid the blame for the expanding scandal surrounding Mueller’s probe into Russian election interference squarely on Kushner’s shoulders, Nunberg told Vanity Fair.

    “Jared is the worst political adviser in the White House in modern history,” Nunberg said. “I’m only saying publicly what everyone says behind the scenes at Fox News, in conservative media, and the Senate and Congress.”

    Bannon, back at his old role as the head of conservative news site Breitbart, has reportedly advised the president to shake up his legal team and do all he can to pressure Congress to defund Mueller’s investigation, sources told Vanity Fair.

    “Mueller shouldn’t be allowed to be a clean shot on goal,” a Bannon confidant told the magazine. “He must be contested and checked. Right now he has unchecked power.”

    In an interview with The New York Times on Wednesday, Trump insisted he wasn’t upset about Mueller’s moves.

    “It has nothing to do with us,” Trump said.

    Asked about another report that he’s been “angry at everybody,” Trump told the paper, “Actually, I’m not angry with anybody.”


    Trump blames son-in-law Jared Kushner for Mueller’s widening Russia probe, report saysTrump blames son-in-law Jared Kushner for Mueller’s widening Russia probe, report says

    0 0


    LOS ANGELES—From laughingstock to lift off.

    George Springer and the Houston Astros rocketed to the top of the baseball galaxy Wednesday night, winning the first World Series championship in franchise history by romping past the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-1 in Game 7.

    Playing for a city still recovering from Hurricane Harvey, and wearing an H Strong logo on their jerseys, the Astros brought home the prize that had eluded them since they started out in 1962 as the Colt .45s.

    “I always believed that we could make it,” All-Star slugger Jose Altuve said. “We did this for them.”

    For a Series that was shaping up as an October classic, Game 7 quickly became a November clunker as Houston scored five runs in the first two innings off Yu Darvish. Hardly the excitement fans felt during the Cubs’ 10-inning thriller in Cleveland last fall.

    Well, except for everyone wearing bright orange. Back in Houston, a huge crowd filled Minute Maid Park to cheer as fans watched on the big video board, and the train whistle wailed when it was over.

    “We’re coming home a champion, Houston,” Springer said after accepting the World Series MVP trophy named this year for Willie Mays.

    Star shortstop Carlos Correa turned the party into a proposal. After doing a TV interview, he got down on one knee and asked girlfriend Daniella Rodriguez, a former Miss Texas USA, to marry him.

    “Yes?” he said, putting a ring on her finger as she cried.

    Altuve, one of four holdovers from a club that lost an embarrassing 111 times in 2013 after switching from the NL to the AL, and this collection of young stars silenced Dodger Stadium from the get-go, taking a 5-0 lead in the second inning.

    Altuve was in perfect position for the final out, a grounder by Corey Seager to the 5-foot-6 second baseman.

    “I caught the last out for the Houston Astros to become a world champion. It was a groundball to me, I threw to first, and I think it was the happiest moment of my life in baseball,” Altuve said.

    See more:

    In Photos: Astros blast off into history with first World Series title

    The Astros streamed from the dugout and bullpen to go wild, tossing their gloves in the air. A thousand or so fans crowded behind the first base dugout, chanting “Hou-ston! Hou-ston!”

    Later, some little Astros kids ran around the outfield grass dressed in Halloween outfits. Their dads, meanwhile, were putting on championship hats and shirts.

    At last, they had completed the ascent some predicted after a rebuilding club purged payroll and stripped down to bare bones a few years back.

    Famously, now, there was the Sports Illustrated cover in 2014 — after Houston had lost more than 100 games for three straight seasons — that proclaimed: “Your 2017 World Series Champs” and featured a picture of Springer in a bright Astros jersey.

    On the other side, ace Clayton Kershaw and several Dodgers leaned against the dugout railing, watching the Astros celebrate. Los Angeles led the majors with 104 wins and a $240 million payroll, and rallied to win Game 6, yet it didn’t pay off for part-owner Magic Johnson and his team.

    “Obviously, this one hurts,” manager Dave Roberts said. “And like I told the guys, when you put everything, every ounce of your being into something and you come up short, it hurts. And it’s supposed to hurt.”

    Normally a starter, Charlie Morton finished up with four stellar innings of relief for the win.

    “We held down a really tough lineup,” Morton said. “For my teammates, for the city of Houston, it’s just unbelievable.”

    Springer led off the evening with a double against Darvish, and soon it was 2-0.

    Springer hit his fifth homer — tying the Series mark set by Reggie Jackson (1977) and matched by Chase Utley (2009) — when he connected for a record fourth game in a row, making it a five-run lead.

    That was plenty for Houston manager A.J. Hinch. He pulled starter Lance McCullers Jr. soon after the curveballer crazily plunked his fourth batter of the game, and began a parade of four relievers that held the lead.

    Throughout the post-season, Hinch and the unconventional Astros overcame a shaky bullpen by using starters in relief.

    “I knew yesterday I didn’t have much,” said McCullers, the Game 3 winner. “I knew I didn’t have much to give other than to gut it out as long as I could.”

    In a dramatic Series marked by blown leads and late rallies, when Houston twice outlasted the Dodgers in extra innings, McCullers did enough.

    Forever known for their space-age Astrodome, outlandish rainbow jerseys and a handful of heartbreaking playoff losses for stars like Nolan Ryan, Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio, these Astros will be remembered as champions, finally, in their 56th season.

    The club that wears a star on its hat also filled out the Texas trophy case. Teams from the Lone Star State had won most every major crown — the Super Bowl, NBA and NHL titles, championships in college football, and men’s and women’s hoops — except the World Series.

    Built on the skills of homegrown All-Stars Dallas Keuchel and more, helped by veteran off-season acquisitions such as Brian McCann and 40-year-old Carlos Beltran, who won his first ring, and boosted by the slick trade for ace Justin Verlander, general manager Jeff Luhnow oversaw the team’s resurgence.

    Houston won 101 times this year to take the AL West, then won Games 6 and 7 at home in the AL Championship Series against the New York Yankees. The Astros joined the 1985 Royals as the only clubs to win a pair of Game 7s in the same year.

    When it was over, Bagwell and Biggio posed for pictures together with the World Series trophy.

    For the Dodgers, the quest to win a Series for the first time since 1988 fell short.

    Kershaw provided four shutout innings of relief for Los Angeles, but it was too late. What the Dodgers really needed was a better starter than Darvish, someone more like the lefty who tossed out a ceremonial first ball: the great Sandy Koufax.

    Acquired from Texas on July 31 for these big games, Darvish lasted 1 2/3 innings in both his World Series starts — the two shortest of his career.

    “This pain is going to stay in me for a while,” the four-time All-Star said through a translator.

    After Springer lined a leadoff double, Alex Bregman hit a bouncer that first baseman Cody Bellinger threw past Darvish for an error, allowing a run to score. Bregman aggressively stole third and scored on Altuve’s grounder, and it was 2-0 after eight pitches.

    A double by Marwin Gonzalez helped set up perhaps McCullers’ biggest contribution, a slow grounder for his first pro RBI. Springer followed with a no-doubt, two-run drive into the left-centre field bleachers.

    That was the Series-most 25th homer in a Major League Baseball season that set a record for home runs. It was easily enough for the Astros to offset pinch-hitter Andre Ethier’s RBI single in the Los Angeles sixth.

    Only once have the Dodgers clinched a crown at home, that coming in 1963 when Koufax outpitched Yankees star Whitey Ford to finish a sweep. They’ve never won Game 7 of the Fall Classic at their own park, dating more than a century ago to their days on the streets of Brooklyn as the Trolley Dodgers.

    As pockets of Houston fans got louder and louder in the later innings, the crowd at Dodger Stadium was left to repeat the sad, but hopeful cry that used to echo in Brooklyn: Wait till next year.

    Just 106 days until pitchers and catchers report to spring training.


    Astros rocket to 5-1 win over Dodgers, take first World Series titleAstros rocket to 5-1 win over Dodgers, take first World Series title

    0 0


    Ontario is considering an “urgent” 22-per-cent increase to welfare over three years and a new housing benefit to begin as early as 2019 as part of a 10-year roadmap to overhaul the province’s antiquated and rule-bound income security system, the Star has learned.

    The proposals are included in a 180-page report by a provincially-appointed panel of community activists and experts being released Thursday by Community and Social Services Minister Helena Jaczek.

    Although the panel says it is impossible to provide a 10-year price tag for the reforms, early measures are expected to cost $3.2 billion annually by 2021, according to the report obtained by the Star.

    Jaczek, who set up the panel in July 2016, said she wanted the group to tackle the province’s “confusing, complicated and intrusive” welfare rules and to consider a broader approach to income security that includes housing, child benefits, health benefits, training and employment supports.

    At the time, Jaczek predicted there would be a commitment to help vulnerable Ontarians in the 2018 budget and said the Liberals are prepared to fight the next election on the issue.

    The panel, headed by former Ontario provincial court judge George Thomson calls on the government to create a system that treats individuals with dignity and respect and helps them reach their full potential through a comprehensive system of income and in-kind support.

    The plan includes simple and easy-to-access social assistance, seamless and integrated employment and training support, access to prescription drugs, dental, vision and hearing care services for all low-income Ontarians, affordable child care, a portable housing benefit and an “assured income” for people with disabilities.

    “Failing to reform the income security system comes with a heavy price tag. Moreover, it is a cost that will lead to ever-worsening outcomes for low-income people and the economy as a whole,” the report argues.

    As a first step, the panel says the government should adopt a minimum income standard “a floor below which no one should fall” to be achieved within 10 years based on the provincial poverty line of about $22,000 for a single person. The standard for people with disabilities would be 30 per cent higher.

    It also recommends starting work immediately to define a “market basket measure” that includes a basket of goods with prices reflecting the true costs and adjusted for all regions of Ontario, including the north. The measure would be used to evaluate the adequacy of the minimum income, the report says.

    “The combination of social assistance and other income supports, in the absence of earnings and private income, should provide enough resources to cover essential living costs such as housing, nutritious food, transportation, disability related costs and other necessities, so people can avoid poverty, protect wellbeing and focus on employment goals and social inclusion,” the report says.

    In the short term, the working group suggests a 22-per-cent increase to Ontario Works by 2020 to $893 a month, up from $721.

    It recommends a 15-per-cent hike to the Ontario Disability Support Program to $1,334, up from $1,151.

    For those who may balk at the cost, the reports says the “urgent, yet modest” increases to social assistance over the next three years amount to only 63 per cent and 70 per cent of the amounts being provided to participants in the basic income pilot for non-disabled individuals and people with disabilities respectively.

    But this is only a starting point, the report says. Over subsequent years the “minimum income standard” will be achieved through a combination of social assistance and other income security reforms, it says.

    A housing benefit should be available to low-income households starting in 2019 and initially cover 25 per cent of the gap between the actual cost of housing and a person’s ability to pay. Coverage would increase in subsequent years to cover 75 per cent by 2027-28.

    The report recommends boosting supports for families with children, particularly grandparents and other relatives raising kids in the care of children’s aid to align with payments received by foster parents.

    The panel also wants the government to help all low-income people, including those living in First Nation communities, access benefits paid through the tax system, such as the national child benefit.

    With Ottawa signaling improvements to the federal Working Income Tax Benefit, the panel calls on Ontario to ensure changes boost incomes for low-wage workers in this province.

    The report recommends adding coverage for dentures for people on social assistance by 2018 and expanding health benefits to all low-income adults over the next 10 years, starting with prescription drug coverage and then following with dental, vision and hearing care coverage.

    “No matter our background, our successes or our challenges, we all have a shared interest in supporting everyone’s ability to thrive and contribute to the social fabric of our communities and the economic well-being of our province,” the report says.

    “These are not investments into the system as it exists today,” the panel notes. “Rather, these are investments that will create the system of tomorrow — one that reflects the fundamental changes necessary to help people achieve social and economic inclusion,” the report adds.


    Proposed welfare reform plan includes 22% boost to paymentsProposed welfare reform plan includes 22% boost to payments

    0 0


    NEW YORK—The suspect in a deadly truck rampage was inspired by Daesh’s online videos and plotted his New York City attack for two months, renting a truck ahead of time to practice turning it, federal authorities said in a criminal complaint bringing terrorism charges against the Uzbek immigrant.

    Sayfullo Saipov chose the attack date to target Halloween crowds, according to the criminal complaint. And after his trail of terror was halted by a police bullet, he asked to display Daesh’s flag in his hospital room, saying “he felt good about what he had done,” authorities said.

    Brought to court in a wheelchair, Saipov was held without bail on charges that could bring the death penalty. Separately, the FBI was questioning people who might have information about his actions before the attack, including a second Uzbek man.

    The charges against Saipov, 29, came just a day after the attack near the World Trade Center killed eight people. Investigators in multiple states raced to retrace Saipov’s steps and understand his motivations, which they said were illuminated by a note he left by the truck: “Islamic Supplication. It will endure.” The phrase “it will endure” commonly refers to Daesh, also known as ISIS or ISIL, and Saipov had a cellphone loaded with the group’s propaganda, an FBI agent said in the criminal complaint.

    Handcuffed and with his legs shackled, Saipov nodded his head as he was read his rights in a brief court proceeding that he followed through a Russian interpreter. Outside court, his appointed lawyer, David Patton, said he hoped “everyone lets the judicial process play out.”

    “I promise you that how we treat Mr. Saipov in this judicial process will say a lot more about us than it will say about him,” Patton said.

    The FBI released a poster saying it was looking for one of Saipov’s associates, Mukhammadzoir Kadirov, only to announce less than 90 minutes later that it had found him. A law enforcement official said Kadirov was a friend of Saipov’s and may not have any role in the case. The official wasn’t authorized to speak publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

    A married father of three and former commercial truck and ride-hailing driver, Saipov began planning an attack a year ago and settled on a truck assault a couple of months ago, according to the criminal complaint.

    Read more:

    New York terror attack ended by 5-year NYPD veteran

    The New York attack was the latest where a vehicle was used as a weapon. A look at the others

    Trump urges for tougher immigration measures after attack by ‘animal’ in New York City

    During the last few weeks, Saipov searched the internet for information on Halloween in New York City and rented a truck to practice turns. He chose a route along a lower Manhattan highway and initially hoped to continue to hit more pedestrians on the Brooklyn Bridge, the complaint said.

    Ultimately, Saipov sped down a bike path on a riverfront esplanade in a rented truck for nearly a mile Tuesday, running down cyclists and pedestrians, before crashing into a school bus, authorities said. He was shot after he jumped out of the vehicle brandishing two air guns and yelling “God is great!” in Arabic, they said. Knives were found in a bag he was carrying.

    In the past few years, Daesh has exhorted followers online to use vehicles, knives or other close-at-hand means of killing people in their home countries. England, France and Germany have all seen deadly vehicle attacks since mid-2016.

    Saipov’s court appearance came just hours after U.S. President Donald Trump said he would consider sending Saipov to the Guantanamo Bay detention centre in Cuba — an idea the White House reinforced by saying it considered Saipov to be an “enemy combatant.” Detainees at Guantanamo accused of supporting militants have faced military tribunals, rather than trials in the U.S. legal system.

    By afternoon, though, Saipov was in federal court facing charges that include providing material support to a terrorist group. Trump’s administration could, at least in theory, still send the suspect to the U.S. base in Cuba later, though such a step would be unprecedented.

    Late Wednesday night, the president took to Twitter to say that Saipov should get the death penalty.

    Trump also has called for eliminating the 1990s visa lottery program that Saipov used to come to the U.S. in 2010.

    John Miller, deputy New York police commissioner for counterterrorism, said Saipov had never been the subject of a criminal investigation by the FBI or New York police, but appears to have links to people who have been investigated. He wouldn’t elaborate.

    The attack killed five people from Argentina, one from Belgium and two Americans, authorities said. Twelve people were injured.

    City leaders vowed New York would not be intimidated and said Sunday’s New York City Marathon would go on as scheduled, with increased security.


    New York truck attack suspect said ‘he felt good about’ rampage: authoritiesNew York truck attack suspect said ‘he felt good about’ rampage: authorities

    0 0


    Ontario’s provincial government is expected to unveil the details of major changes to policing and civilian oversight at Queen’s Park Thursday, the Star has learned — including updates to the nearly three-decade old Police Services Act.

    Attorney General Yasir Naqvi alongside Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services Marie-France Lalonde are expected to announce the changes to policing laws Thursday morning.

    Read more:

    Review of police oversight recommends much greater transparency, the Star learns

    Ontario commits to releasing past and future SIU reports

    Among the anticipated changes to the Police Act is a modification that would allow police chiefs to suspend officers without pay — a change that has been called upon for years, including by the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police.

    Ontario is currently the sole province in Canada that requires suspension without pay except when an officer is sentenced to jail time.

    Also anticipated are further details about the implementation of a sweeping review of police oversight conducted by Ontario Court of Appeal Justice Michael Tulloch earlier this year.

    Last spring, the judge recommended major changes to Ontario’s police watchdogs, including the Special Investigation Unit (SIU), which probes deaths, serious injuries and allegations of sexual assault involving police.

    The same day Tulloch released his comprehensive report to improve police oversight, Naqvi announced action on some of the key recommendations, including more transparency and the collection of race-based statistics by the SIU and the two other watchdogs, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) and the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC).

    It’s expected that, as recommended by Tulloch, the watchdogs’ governing legislation will be removed from the current Police Services Act and that a new act will be created.

    “It could confirm their importance and their independence,” Tulloch wrote in his report.

    More to come.


    Province expected to unveil changes to policing laws ThursdayProvince expected to unveil changes to policing laws Thursday

    0 0


    TORONTO—A murder trial has heard that the final cellphone call from a Toronto woman who vanished five years ago connected with a cell tower near the home of a man accused of killing her.

    Danielle Fortier, who works with Rogers Communications, says that call was made at 7:03 p.m on July 3, 2012, and no texts or messages have been sent from the phone since then.

    Dellen Millard, 32, of Toronto, and Mark Smich, 30 of Oakville, Ont., are facing first-degree murder charges in the presumed death of Laura Babcock, whose body has not been found.

    The Crown contends that Babcock was killed because she was the odd woman out in a love triangle with Millard and his girlfriend.

    Court has heard that Millard was sleeping with several women at the time of Babcock’s disappearance and didn’t care much about the animosity between Babcock and his girlfriend.

    Both Millard and Smich have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

    Read more:

    Laura Babcock had an intense fear of death since childhood, court hears in murder trial for Dellen Millard and Mark Smich

    Accused killer Dellen Millard appears to be getting comfortable acting as his own lawyer: DiManno

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


    Laura Babcock’s final cellphone call connected with cell tower near Dellen Millard’s home, court hearsLaura Babcock’s final cellphone call connected with cell tower near Dellen Millard’s home, court hears

    0 0


    Canada’s Indigenous population, Statistics Canada has recently reminded us, is growing at a rate that dwarfs that of the country’s non-Indigenous population.

    It is also a younger population. Close to 30 per cent of the Indigenous population is under 15, almost double the non-Indigenous percentage in that age group.

    And that youth too often starts behind.

    Canadian children who identify as First Nations, Metis or Inuit make up about 8 per cent of all Canadians aged 4 years and younger, yet they make up more than half the pre-schoolers in foster care.

    Of all children in foster care in this country, more than four in 10 are Indigenous.

    Children only get one childhood, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde said Thursday. So there must be some urgency in righting wrongs.

    But official Ottawa is where urgency goes to die.

    Two of the most vital measures of Indigenous reconciliation, the gap in child welfare funding and the national inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls, have returned to centre stage this week.

    To listen to those seeking change in recent days is to hear the quintessential Canadian laments about stifling bureaucracy, overlapping jurisdictions and work being done at cross purposes.

    Bellegarde was in the capital Thursday for a “day of action” to press the government on a gnawing wound for Indigenous leaders, the continued foot-dragging by the Liberals who have been ordered by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to stop discriminating against Indigenous on-reserve children on funding for health and welfare.

    Cindy Blackstock of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society and the AFN won a ruling against the government in January, 2016, and Ottawa has not moved despite three binding orders of non-compliance.

    It is a case of discrimination, nothing less.

    “Everybody gets it,” Bellegarde said. “Let’s get it done.’’

    Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott wants to move and she will convene an emergency meeting with the provinces in early 2018 to deal with the “crisis-level’’ rates of Indigenous children in care.

    The status quo is not working and reform of the child welfare system is immediately needed, she wrote in a letter to the provinces released this week.

    Philpott pledges Ottawa will step up and she concedes that much provincial work is already being done.

    As recently as June, Philpott was being accused of trying to quash provisions of the tribunal ruling, even as she maintained the government was merely trying to “clarify” provisions in an application for a judicial review.

    The provincial involvement is needed, but it raises the jurisdictional mess of 13 bilateral agreements.

    Ottawa, however, could move immediately and comply with the tribunal. The AFN has calculated $155 million is needed immediately to close the gap with off-reserve spending.

    A day earlier, more frustration was aired, this time from the national inquiry, a key to the Liberal reconciliation endeavour, but now an inquiry which has drawn national attention only for its false starts, postponed hearings, firings and resignations.

    It too is straddling jurisdictional lines legally, simultaneously holding 14 joint inquiries because each province and territory allowed it to probe within their jurisdiction.

    It is also trying to do things differently, de-colonizing the system on the go, as it put it in its interim report. The inquiry system it is working under is unable to respond quickly or flexibly based on “Indigenous worldviews.”

    It bared its list of frustrations.

    Federal privacy laws mean that Ottawa would not give the inquiry the contact information for victims’ families and survivors who were involved in the pre-inquiry period.

    Federal insistence on security clearances means it takes on average four months to hire someone and procurement policies mean it can take eight months to open an office. Even then, the inquiry said in its interim report, the offices opened without the telephones, computers and Internet service needed because of foot-dragging by bureaucrats.

    And Ottawa’s contract policies have meant it has been slow to pay cultural advisors or elders at the hearings or make timely payments for travel or out-of-pocket expenses. That makes it difficult to hire and keep Fire Keepers or Knowledge Keepers, positions that need to be filled if the inquiry is to deliver a family-first, non-colonial process.

    This government may have its heart in the right place when it comes to Indigenous reconciliation. But muscling aside an entrenched bureaucracy that slows, rather than speeds, action, will take more than that.

    Tim Harper writes on national affairs. tjharper77@gmail.com, Twitter: @nutgraf1


    Ottawa’s all talk and no action on Indigenous reconciliation: Tim HarperOttawa’s all talk and no action on Indigenous reconciliation: Tim Harper

    0 0


    A coalition of unions is using Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown own campaign commercial in a new attack ad against him.

    Working Families — funded by public- and private-sector unions — released its latest TV spot Thursday, entitled “Can You Believe Patrick Brown?”

    The 30-second commercial hacks Brown’s slick ad from earlier this year that was designed to showcase the Tories’ moderate direction.

    “It doesn’t matter who you are; it doesn’t matter where you’re from; it doesn’t matter who you love,” says Brown, as a Working Families graphic splashes across the screen reminding viewers that “Patrick Brown Opposed Marriage Equality” as a Conservative MP in Ottawa.

    “It doesn’t matter if you belong to a union,” he says, as the words “Patrick Brown Voted To Restrict Unions” are superimposed over his photograph.

    “It doesn’t matter how much you make,” Brown intones, as “Patrick Brown Wants Minimum-Wage Hike Delayed” appears on screen, a reference to his concerns over the $11.60 hourly wage jumping to $14 in January and $15 in 2019.

    “It doesn’t matter where you worship,” he continues, as “Patrick Brown Supported A Burka Ban” is emblazoned across footage of him at a temple and marching with Sikhs in the Khalsa Day parade.

    “You have a home in the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario,” the PC leader concludes.

    It’s the second ad targetting Brown by Working Families, an influential coalition that has helped swing the last four Ontario elections to the Liberals with attack ads against the Tories.

    With voters headed to the polls on June 7, 2018, the unions have been hammering the Tory leader on his voting record as an MP in former prime minister Stephen Harper’s government between 2006 and 2015.

    Conservative MPP Lisa MacLeod (Nepean-Carleton) suggested Working Families is just doing the Liberal premier’s bidding.

    “Life is good for Kathleen Wynne’s well-connected friends and they’ll do and say anything to keep it that way,” said MacLeod, who has also been critical of Working Ontario Women, a similar anti-Tory group bankrolled by the Service Employees International Union.

    Last week, Working Families depicted Brown as a cartoon weathervane atop the legislative assembly whose views on major issues constantly change.

    “Patrick Brown will say anything to get elected. He now says he’s pro-choice, but when it counted Patrick Brown had a 100 per cent pro-life voting record,” said the announcer.

    “He now says he supports equal marriage, but when it counted he voted against it,” he continued.

    “He now says he welcomes labour into his party, but when it counted his votes hurt working people. When it counts for us, Patrick Brown can’t be counted on. He just blows with the winds of political opportunity.”


    Unions using Patrick Brown's ad against himUnions using Patrick Brown's ad against him

    0 0


    A veteran truck driver and father of nine who worked tirelessly to support his family in northeastern Ontario was one of three people killed in a pileup that set off a massive fireball on a highway north of Toronto, his grieving wife said Thursday.

    Nikiyah Mulak-Dunn said she first feared the worst for her husband Benjamin Dunn after a friend pointed out images in the media of what appeared to be his truck engulfed in flames.

    Related story:At least three people dead following collision, explosion on Hwy. 400

    Provincial police later confirmed the grim news, plunging the family into despair and uncertainty, she said. Grief counsellors have been at the family's North Bay home to help Mulak-Dunn talk to her children, who are between one and 16 years old, about the loss of their father, she said.

    “It's just been devastating,” she said. “I don't know where we're at right now, we're just trying to process and we're all in shock and disbelief and just pretty traumatized, I'd say, so it's going to have to be day by day.”

    She said her husband — who was the family's sole breadwinner — had been working as a trucker for at least a decade and drove that same route regularly. He also juggled two other jobs as a miner and a welder, she said.

    “He was just a devoted and hardworking husband and father and he would just do anything for anyone if they asked and even if they didn't ask, he was a very caring, intuitive person. He loved people and cared about them a lot.”

    Friends have rallied behind the grieving family, organizing meal trains and offering to plow their driveway all winter, Mulak-Dunn said. Others have launched online fundraising campaigns.

    Police have not publicly identified those killed Tuesday night in the multi-vehicle crash on Hwy. 400 that set off a massive fireball and sent motorists running for their lives.

    That stretch of highway south of Barrie was closed for more than 24 hours after the crash, which police have said involved at least four transport trucks and two fuel tankers that spilled thousands of litres of fuel on the road.

    Police said the impact sent a wave of fuel and flames rushing down the highway, leaving behind charred, twisted metal and debris. One lane of the northbound highway will be closed again sometime Thursday for an environmental cleanup, they said.

    The cause of the crash remains under investigation but police suggested the blame may lie with the driver of a transport truck they say crashed into slowing traffic.

    Just days earlier, provincial police had sounded the alarm about fatal collisions caused by distracted truck drivers.

    The force said last week that since Jan. 1, its officers have tracked more than 5,000 transport truck-related collisions that have left 67 people dead.

    The Ontario Trucking Association has said the industry is committed to road safety, noting that there has been a 66 per cent decrease in the fatality rate from large truck collisions between 1995 and 2014 despite a 75 per cent rise in large truck vehicle registrations.


    ‘Devoted and hardworking’ father of 9 identified as a victim in Hwy. 400 crash‘Devoted and hardworking’ father of 9 identified as a victim in Hwy. 400 crash‘Devoted and hardworking’ father of 9 identified as a victim in Hwy. 400 crash‘Devoted and hardworking’ father of 9 identified as a victim in Hwy. 400 crash

    0 0


    The province has committed to new legislation that will require accreditation for forensic laboratories operating in Ontario in the wake of a Star investigation that revealed thousands of child protection cases across the country had relied on faulty evidence from the Hospital for Sick Children’s Motherisk lab.

    The new Forensic Laboratories Act, announced Thursday as part of a broader government effort to modernize policing in Ontario, aims to create better oversight of forensic labs to ensure they meet mandated standards going forward and is the first legislation of its kind in Canada.

    It’s a move Toronto criminal defence lawyer Daniel Brown called a “really great step forward,” but one that’s “long overdue.”

    Read more:Judge rejects proposed class-action over Motherisk drug-testing scandal

    “There was certainly a need for forensic lab accreditation and better controls over the evidence that’s being presented in criminal courts,” he said. “Hundreds of people have been impacted by faulty scientific evidence in the court rooms.”

    As revealed by a Star investigation thousands of child protection cases and at least eight criminal cases across Canada relied on the results of Motherisk’s discredited hair-strand drug and alcohol tests between the late 1990s and early 2015. At the same time, the lab was earning millions of dollars in revenue. The Hospital for Sick Children closed the Motherisk lab in 2015.

    The revelations followed another Sick Kids scandal, which also highlighted the risks of faulty science, involving disgraced pathologist Charles Smith, whose mistakes tainted more than a dozen criminal cases.

    Under the province’s new accreditation framework forensic labs will be subject to proficiency testing, annual audits, performance reports and surveillance visits.

    “Our government is committed to holding forensic laboratories in Ontario to a consistently high standard,” said Yanni Dagonas, a spokesperson for Community Safety Minister Marie-France Lalonde, in a statement.

    It’s unclear how many labs will be affected by the new legislation given the current lack of oversight, but the government is proposing a transitional period of up to two years to give laboratories time to go through the accreditation process, which can take between 18 and 24 months, he said.

    Once the new accreditation standards come into force accreditation bodies would be able to issue warnings, suspend lab activities and revoke accreditation if labs fail to comply with the rules.

    The proposed legislation also says unaccredited labs that conduct testing covered by the act could be subject to fines of up to $30,000 for a first offence.

    Though Brown said most of his concerns regarding standards for forensic labs were addressed during government consultations earlier this year, he is concerned the new legislation won’t address the admissibility of evidence from labs that may not be accredited and instead leave it up to the courts’ discretion.

    “The problem in the past is that the courts have failed to properly scrutinize evidence from non-forensic lab sources,” he said, pointing to the case of Tamara Broomfield, who was tried in 2009 and convicted for breaking her son’s bones and feeding him cocaine, as an example.

    In that case, which blew the lid off the Motherisk scandal, Motherisk tests on her son’s hair, which claimed to show he had consumed high levels of cocaine over 15 months, were admitted by the court.

    “That was done by a lab that wasn’t forensically accredited and nobody raised that issue at her trial and part of the problem is that they lacked the scientific literacy to do that,” Brown said, adding, “we can’t simply rely on the word of experts because … sometimes the experts can lead the courts astray.”

    Brown, who is also a Toronto director with the Criminal Lawyers’ Association, tried to have Broomfield’s case reopened in 2010. Her cocaine-related conviction was eventually overturned in 2014, prompting the Star’s investigation.

    Many other cases that relied on Motherisk tests are now under review as well. Altogether, the disgraced lab performed tests on more than 25,000 people in Canada.

    Brown said he hopes to see the new rules enforced as soon as possible.

    “Cases are taking place everyday in the criminal court system and the family court system that are relying on forensic evidence and we want to make sure that the way this evidence is being presented in court and the standards that underlie the science are sound,” he said.

    With files from Rachel Mendleson


    New rules will require forensic labs to be accreditedNew rules will require forensic labs to be accredited

    0 0


    Alleged serial rapist Harvey Weinstein has been blacklisted by his peers and ousted from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. But there remains one very exclusive group that will have him: the Edenbridge Bonfire Society.

    The EBS is world famous for lighting up enormous effigies of widely loathed figures on Guy Fawkes Day, such as U.S. President Donald Trump and disgraced FIFA president Sepp Blatter. The group recently announced that Weinstein’s image has been selected to burn in this weekend’s Guy Fawkes celebration, in what will be a demonstration of a career gone up in flames. Meanwhile, two other Hollywood big shots — director James Toback and producer Brett Ratner — stand accused of sexual misconduct, though neither one has had his likeness scorched in public. But tomorrow is another day.

    If I were a predatory Hollywood producer I’d be very afraid. Only a truly committed cynic could argue that attitudes have not shifted in favour of victims of sexual assault and harassment in the entertainment industry, in light of the recent allegations. And yet, despite this weekend’s symbolic burning at the stake, there is still great reason to be cynical about our culture’s attitudes toward victims of sexual assault. Even though we have made significant strides at condemning abuse in one area of entertainment, we remain virtually silent when it comes to condemning it in another area: the world of adult entertainment.

    Two of pornography’s mega stars — men who are arguably more famous internationally than Harvey Weinstein — are facing allegations of serial harassment and sexual assault. Ron Jeremy is a 64-year-old porn legend, and James Deen is a 31-year-old porn legend in the making. Both men have made appearances in mainstream entertainment: Deen starred alongside Lindsay Lohan in the 2013 Paul Schrader film, The Canyons, and Jeremy’s long-standing pop culture status needs no explanation.

    Both men are also alleged serial abusers. Multiple women, including a former partner, have accused Deen of sexual assault, and Jeremy faces multiple accusations of groping (in addition to an accusation of rape by a former co-star). Last year, a webcam model known as Miss Lollipop tweeted the following: “Not my 1st, but at a my 1st adult con, posing for a photo w ron jeremy — he slips his finger under my panties and into my vagina. #notokay”

    Former porn actress turned professional writer Aurora Snow outlined the well-known reality of allegations against Jeremy and Deen in a piece in the Daily Beast this week. Snow wondered, understandably, why the two stars (who deny the allegations against them) appear to have been spared the public evisceration their Hollywood counterparts are now enduring. Unlike Weinstein et al, porn industry insiders and fans have not excommunicated Jeremy and Deen nor burned their images in a gigantic bonfire.

    Nor has mainstream entertainment. In fact, Esquire magazine, a publication that has been critical of Weinstein in recent weeks, published a glowing interview with Jeremy in September, positioning the porn legend as a “feminist” who “cares deeply about animals.”

    Esquire editor Nate Erickson writes: “Social media has helped him (Jeremy) reveal another side: a guy who understands civil rights better than our own president.”

    He’s also a guy, Erickson fails to mention, who, like the president, stands accused of groping multiple women.

    So what gives? Why are we eager to burn a replica of a bathrobe-clad Weinstein but we appear content to let Jeremy and Deen go unscathed?

    The answer can’t be that in cases of sexual abuse, we believe the accused should be given the benefit of the doubt. After all, Weinstein certainly doesn’t have the benefit of the doubt. What he does have, however, is a lineup of sympathetic accusers. Weinstein’s accusers, many of them A-list actresses, are beautiful, intelligent, moneyed and seemingly trustworthy.

    Many of Jeremy and Deen’s accusers, on the other hand, have participated in the adult entertainment industry. They are exactly the kind of women about whom men have zero qualms making statements such as “She was asking for it” and “Well, what did she expect? Look what she does for a living.”

    Of course beautiful, “dignified” women, like Angelina Jolie and Lupita Nyong’o, are in no way immune to sexual predatory behaviour by powerful men. But their claims are, as evidenced by Weinstein’s fall, taken far more seriously than the claims of women who are paid to act in the buff.

    What this may mean is that despite all of the inspirational social media campaigns (#Metoo) and endless talk show chatter around the Weinstein allegations, our attitudes have not shifted in favour of victims of sexual assault. They’ve shifted, rather, in favour of sympathetic victims of assault: women who have done Shakespeare — not porn.

    This is a step, forward yes. But it’s a small one. And until we are prepared to issue sympathy to every kind of victim, and condemnation to every kind of creep, we won’t make it very far.


    Condemnation of sexual assaults can’t be selective: TeitelCondemnation of sexual assaults can’t be selective: Teitel

    0 0


    NEW YORK—CNN is reporting that eight current or former House of Cards workers claim that Kevin Spacey made the production a “toxic” workplace and one ex-employee alleges the actor sexually assaulted him.

    The workers’ identities were withheld from Thursday’s report because they fear professional fallout, the cable news channel said.

    Among them is a former production assistant who alleged that Spacey assaulted him during one of the Netflix show’s early seasons, and CNN reported that all of the people described Spacey’s behaviour as predatory.

    Read more:

    Kevin Spacey seeking ‘evaluation and treatment’ amid sexual assault accusations

    House of Cards producers press pause on filming in wake of Kevin Spacey allegations

    Actress Paz de la Huerta accuses Harvey Weinstein of raping her twice

    The report accuses Spacey of allegedly targeted staffers who were typically young and male with nonconsensual touching and crude comments.

    The talent agency CAA is no longer representing Kevin Spacey as of late Thursday evening.

    A person with knowledge of the decision who was not authorized to speak publicly confirmed that both CAA and Spacey’s publicist Staci Wolfe have parted ways with the actor amid growing claims of sexual harassment against him.

    Representatives from the agency did not immediately respond to request for comment.

    The fallout stems from last weekend’s BuzzFeed News report in which actor Anthony Rapp said that Spacey attempted to seduce him in 1986, when Rapp was 14.

    Spacey apologized earlier this week for the incident but said he didn’t recall what might have been “drunken behaviour.” In a statement Wednesday, Spacey’s publicist said he’s seeking unspecified treatment.


    Eight ‘House of Cards’ workers accuse Kevin Spacey of harassment, report saysEight ‘House of Cards’ workers accuse Kevin Spacey of harassment, report says

    0 0


    Here’s hoping the custodial staff at city hall have access to some kind of industrial-strength cleaning solvents. They’ll need them, and plenty of hot water, to rid the government chamber of the scummy residue of the appointment process that took place Thursday.

    At the end of it, Lucy Troisi, a former manager with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, lifelong resident of Ward 28, and head of the Cabbagetown Youth Centre was appointed to replace the late Pam McConnell as councillor for the remainder of this term until next fall’s municipal election. In her remarks to council, Troisi seemed like a friendly and competent woman — if one also mildly unprepared on some questions about electoral redistricting she admitted she hasn’t even thought about — and her resume certainly appears to qualify her to serve in the role. I hope it is no slight to her to note she was carried into office on an avalanche of slime.

    What happened here was disgusting on multiple levels. A bunch of city councillors appointing a representative for the people of Ward 28 rather than allowing them to elect one themselves. A lineup of well-spoken, earnest, qualified candidates making their case to a deliberative body full of people who had already determined their votes before the first speech was made. And a majority of council, shepherded by council’s budget chief Gary Crawford, using the death of a long-serving advocate for one downtown ward as an opportunity to crap on her legacy.

    In a nutshell: McConnell was famously one of council’s longest-serving members, and one of its most reliably progressive in her actions and votes, a member of the NDP, a vocal supporter of LGBT rights, and most of all an anti-poverty campaigner who recently spearheaded the mayor’s anti-poverty strategy. She voted, repeatedly, against the Scarborough subway, against keeping up the eastern Gardiner and various other Fordisms, she has never been a supporter of any low-tax agenda.

    When council decided to appoint someone to replace her instead of holding an election, a man who had worked closely with McConnell on that anti-poverty strategy emerged as the obvious successor. His name is Michael Creek: an openly gay man, living with a disability, who was formerly homeless and has emerged as a strong activist working with various levels of government to address poverty. He drew the endorsement of McConnell’s family, of dozens of residents' associations and community service organizations in the ward, of the city councillors in the closest neighbouring wards. He had worked closely with her and knew the files.

    There is a tradition, and I think a moral obligation, when council appoints someone, to respect the voters they are giving representation to by trying to find someone who will carry on the work of the councillor they are replacing, and stay to the same political leanings. When there was talk of appointing a replacement for Rob Ford (though ultimately an election was held after he died), this was front of mind. When a replacement was appointed for Ron Moeser, ideological consistency and the wishes of Moeser’s widow were cited as highly important by councillors across the political spectrum. I have seen council do the same in the past, replacing Doug Holyday and others after they resigned to pursue other offices.

    Frankly, council has no business appointing people to fill vacant council seats to represent wards. Elections should always be held, in my opinion. If there’s not enough time to hold an election, just leave the seat vacant and let staff serve constituency matters.

    But if they are going to appoint someone, trying to give citizens a representative who supports the same things they voted for most recently is a minimum obligation. Very basic human decency would dictate you don’t exploit someone’s death as an opportunity to defy voters and turn a political balance to your advantage.

    Indeed, Mayor John Tory’s spokesperson Don Peat tells me the mayor felt an “obligation to Pam McConnell to support Michael Creek.”

    Budget chief Crawford, representative of Scarborough Southwest, felt no such obligation. He began lobbying for Troisi, a more likely conservative-friendly vote. And convinced a majority of council to go along with him — including almost all of the mayor’s closest allies, even though the mayor himself voted for Creek.

    In his own speech, Crawford went out of his way to make it seem like somehow this wasn’t about political leaning — he spoke about McConnell’s proud legacy as his reason for supporting Troisi, prompting someone in the gallery to shout “how dare you.”

    Michael Thompson, representative of Scarborough Centre, went further, working himself up into high-raised-voice sanctimony about how McConnell’s legacy demanded a woman replace her.

    Deputy Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong did everyone the favour of being honest. He asked Troisi “point blank” he said, a lot of questions, and she said she’d “support the mayor’s agenda,” vote for low taxes, support the Scarborough subway extension, supported the Gardiner. Basically, on every question he said he asked her, she directly opposed what McConnell stood for. That’s what Minnan-Wong, a career-long opponent of McConnell’s, liked. “I would like someone who would vote the way I think this council should be going,” he said.

    In other words: let me use this woman’s death to overrule what she and the voters who elected her believed in so that my own political leanings have an additional council vote. It’s a vile sentiment. As disrespectful as it is anti-democratic. But you’ve got to admire that at least he didn’t pretend it was about something else, as so many others did.

    So Crawford got a majority of council to go along with him — the final vote was 24-19. In the process, he created a toxic split in the city council, with those who supported Creek believing a sacred line has been crossed. And Troisi will now serve on a Toronto-East York Community Council in which only one fellow member voted for her, and the others feel her appointment was a horrible injustice and an insult to the memory of their beloved colleague. And with many residents associations and community groups in the ward she represents feeling the same way.

    It’s hard to see why this was worth the anger and rupture for Crawford and his allies — it is very unlikely any vote this budget season will turn a different direction because of this one vote. If anything, it seems the poisoning of goodwill among the council minority will make building ad hoc coalitions harder.

    By the end, several councillors — including a few who voted for Troisi — swore they would never support an appointment rather than a byelection again. If they keep their word on that, then at least one good thing will have come out of this.

    Edward Keenan writes on city issues ekeenan@thestar.ca. Follow: @thekeenanwire


    Pam McConnell’s legacy sullied by Toronto councillors seeking political gains: KeenanPam McConnell’s legacy sullied by Toronto councillors seeking political gains: Keenan

    0 0


    A 50-year-old woman detained by Canadian immigration officials in a maximum-security jail in Milton died on Monday, according to a brief news release from the Canada Border Services Agency.

    The agency, which has the power to arrest and jail non-citizens, would not disclose the woman’s identity, country of origin or her cause of death, as per its usual protocol.

    The woman is the 10th person to die in immigration detention in the last five years and at least the sixteenth since 2000.

    Immigration detainees are not criminally charged, but are detained on an indefinite basis, either because they have been deemed a danger to the public, are unlikely to show up for their deportation or because their identity is in doubt.

    The average length of detention last year was 19.5 days, but there is no limit to how long someone can stay in detention and some cases drag on for months or years.

    In Ontario, immigration detainees are held either at the Immigration Holding Centre, a minimum-security facility in Etobicoke exclusive to immigration detainees, or in maximum-security provincial jails, where they are treated as sentenced criminals and those awaiting trial are.

    An immigration detainee’s detention is reviewed every 30 days by the quasi-judicial Immigration and Refugee Board, but where the person is detained is at the sole discretion of CBSA officers and is not subject to any oversight.

    This aspect of the system was recently criticized by Superior Court Justice Alfred O’Marra, who ordered longtime immigration detainee Ebrahim Toure, who had spent four-and-a-half years in a maximum-security jail, to be transferred immediately to the less-restrictive Immigration Holding Centre.

    The woman who died on Monday was detained at the Vanier Centre for Women, where she was apparently “found in medical distress and immediately taken to hospital,” according to the agency’s release.

    She died “shortly thereafter.”

    The CBSA did not clarify whether she died at, or on the way to, the hospital, nor did it say to which hospital she was taken.

    It refused to answer the Star’s questions on how long the woman had been detained, nor would it give the grounds for her detention.

    Canada’s immigration detention system has come under increased scrutiny this year, in the wake of a number of high-profile court challenges.

    In April, Superior Court Justice Ian Nordheimer released Kashif Ali, who had spent seven years in maximum-security jail because immigration officials were unable to deport him, saying Canada could not “purport to hold someone in detention forever.”

    In August, Justice Edward Morgan ordered the immediate release of an immigration detainee whom, he said, was jailed “for no real reason at all.”

    The Liberal government has vowed to improve the system, saying it intends to reduce the use of maximum-security jails and expand alternatives to detention. The Liberals are detaining fewer people for immigration purposes than the Conservatives did under Stephen Harper, according to the most recent statistics

    But they have not made any policy changes to a system that has been widely criticized by human rights organizations.

    “People keep dying in immigration holding centres and maximum-security prisons,” said Nisha Toomey, spokeswoman for the End Immigration Detention Network.

    “People will stop dying when the Canadian government stops leaving them there to die.”

    This latest immigration detention death is the fourth since March 2016, when Melkioro Gahunga and Francisco Astorga both died in a single week.

    Gahunga, a 64-year-old Burundian refugee, reportedly hanged himself at the Toronto East Detention Centre, while Astorga, a 39-year-old Chilean migrant, died after overdosing on fentanyl and methamphetamine, according to a coroner’s inquest into his death.

    A 24-year-old man died at the Edmonton Remand Centre in May 2016.

    His identity, country of origin and cause of death have never been disclosed.


    50-year-old woman dies in immigration detention50-year-old woman dies in immigration detention

    0 0


    Sgt. Christopher Heard, accused of groping two inebriated women after offering them rides home in his cruiser from the Entertainment District in separate incidents, turning off his in-car camera both times. Acquitted in criminal court last month but still facing Police Act charges.

    Suspended with pay: 18 months and counting.

    Constables Leslie Nyznik, Sameera Kara, Joshua Cabero, accused of sexual assault against a parking enforcement officer. Acquitted in criminal court in August. Police Chief Mark Saunders has still not indicated whether they will be charged under the Police Act.

    Suspended with pay: 33 months. (A Toronto police spokesperson told the Star on Thursday the officers remain on paid suspension and the internal investigation is “ongoing.”)

    Officer James Forcillo, convicted of attempted murder in the shooting death of teenager Sammy Yatim, verdict under appeal.

    Suspended with pay: 35 months.

    Suspended without pay upon conviction and sentencing in July, 2016.

    Constables Jeffrey Tout, Benjamin Elliott, Michael Taylor and Frank Douglas, criminally charged in January last year with 17 counts of obstruct justice and eight counts of perjury for allegedly planting heroin in a suspect’s car, then lying about it in court. Suspended without pay: 22 months and counting.

    Cops in Ontario suspended with pay who earned more than $100,000 in 2016, according to a CBC investigation: At least 15.

    We could go on. And on. And on.

    This is the only province in Canada where suspended police officers must continue to be paid their full salary until and unless they are sentenced to serve time.

    The landscape may change if a massive bill announced Thursday by the Liberals at Queen’s Park, including an overhaul of the Police Services Act, is ever actually passed, without dilution, and quite possibly not even then.

    As so much with this government, what’s promised — what’s unveiled with plenty of bells and whistles — turns out to be drastically less than avouched in both essence and detail.

    In a draft version of the bill posted online, the section dealing specifically with giving police chiefs authority to suspend officers without pay, would be only narrowly applicable to any of the aforementioned officers — those on-duty when the alleged criminal or discreditable conduct occurred. Nyznik, Kara and Cabero, for example, were off-duty.

    “The devil is in the details,” Mike McCormack, head of the Toronto Police Association, told the Star. “I won’t be going out there to beat the drum until I have a better understanding of what this actually means.”

    While the conversation was somewhat hypothetical, McCormack suggested that the only cases he could recall of officers who would be “caught” under the no-pay suspension provisions as outlined would be a couple of notorious criminal coppers: Richard Wills, the ex-Toronto officer convicted in 2007 of murdering his mistress, and Darin Cooper, the Toronto detective sentenced to 9 ½ years in 2001 for being part of a gang that robbed drug dealers during a three-month crime spree.

    Ontario police chiefs have long advocated for suspensions without pay. It is certainly a matter of particular public revulsion — that single sentence appended to reports about police officers before the court or before a tribunal: “Suspended with pay.”

    Yet the specificity of when a police chief can do so renders the provision all but useless, with yet another bureaucratic layer of notice and appeal built in.

    The cluelessness of Marie-France Lalonde, community safety and correctional services minister, was evident when asked by reporters at the Romper Room briefing to clarify the unpaid suspension proposal. What is meant by “interim measure under specific circumstances”?

    “Ten months ago, I became the minister of community safety. And this was probably the most discussed . . . in trying to find the right balance. Where the officers, the chief and the public would all find a way.

    “The chief cannot, by default, choose this function. I want to be very clear that this will be made with the process. So, for instance, a chief of police feels that the officer should be suspended without pay. The chief would have to inform the officer within 60 days. The officer would have two choices: either agree to the suspension or don’t. If the officer chooses not to agree with this decision, then the (new Ontario Policing Complaints Agency) could, as an independent, make the final decision. We have to understand that there would be court proceedings, potentially, and a verdict at the end. So the suspension would have for the time of the duration. If the officer is found not guilty then it would be reimbursed.”

    That could take years.

    “This is moving forward,” Lalonde insisted. “After the impasse, this would give the chief a measure that they can suspend an officer for serious offences while not on duty. Certainly we want to expedite the process to ensure that the fastest decision is made in those cases.”

    Clear as mud.

    We should all have such generous and overarching protections from employers. Or not.

    In the private realm, termination for just cause is common, although firing a person when charges are laid — prior to a finding of guilt — can be reversed by the courts (even, possibly, by a human rights tribunal). In a decision last year, involving a man charged with two counts of sexual assault, an Ontario Superior Court ruled in favour of the discharged employee, making it clear that “criminal charges alone, for matters outside of employment, cannot constitute just cause.”

    Such cases are “fact sensitive,” depending on factors including the seriousness of the charge and the position of trust held by an employee. Radio personality Jian Ghomeshi, for instance, was canned by the CBC after management viewed a graphic video, for conduct deemed a “fundamental breech” of the national broadcaster’s “standard of acceptable conduct,” as stated in an internal memo — and was not reinstated despite acquittal on all criminal charges.

    Everyone is presumed innocent until proven otherwise — in a court of law, not the court of public opinion or the court of the workplace.

    If anything, police officers should be held to even higher standards of professional conduct, personal morality and behaviour which brings institutions of law enforcement into disrepute.

    This omnibus policing and safety bill contains many heartening reform proposals — especially public transparency by the Special Investigations Unit, which has been exasperatingly clandestine about investigations and would, if the bill is passed, be given an expanded mandate, called in whenever an officer fires at a person.

    But, except for allegations of serious misconduct or criminal charges — “serious” not defined — cops facing discipline, cops facing trial, would still be whiling away the days or shifted to desk-duty.

    According to figures compiled four years ago by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, on an average day there were 25,208 people behind bars in provincial and territorial jails, a tripling over three decades. Nearly 55 per cent of them were in pretrial custody — legally innocent, awaiting trial or bail.

    You’d have to look long and hard to find a cop among them. They’re getting paid to sit at home on their duffs.

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


    Policing reform bill may still allow charged cops to keep getting paid: DiMannoPolicing reform bill may still allow charged cops to keep getting paid: DiManno

    0 0


    WASHINGTON—U.S. President Donald Trump’s Twitter account was deactivated for 11 minutes Thursday night by a company employee on the last day on the job, Twitter said, raising serious questions about the security of a tool the president uses to set major policy agendas, aggressively go after his critics, and connect with his core voter base.

    The company has suspended other high-profile accounts in the past for violating its terms and conditions. It has also faced questions over why it has not previously suspended Trump’s Twitter account for violating its terms of service — a decision it defended by saying Trump’s position means his messages meet a higher standard for “newsworthiness.”

    But there has not been a case where an employee has acted alone to take down the account of a well-known person, seemingly on their own.

    The president is aware of the issue and the White House is in touch with Twitter, said an official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a delicate matter.

    Read more:

    Donald Trump blocks Star reporter Daniel Dale on Twitter

    Twitter won’t be banning Donald Trump. Here’s why

    Donald Trump Jr. puts rocks in all our Halloween bags with sneering tweet: Menon

    Twitter initially posted a statement Thursday night saying Trump’s “account was inadvertently deactivated due to human error by a Twitter employee.”

    For those few minutes, visitors to Trump’s account were simply met with the message, “Sorry, that page doesn’t exist!”

    “The account was down for 11 minutes, and has since been restored,” the statement read. “We are continuing to investigate and are taking steps to prevent this from happening again.”

    Two hours later, Twitter updated its statement, saying an investigation showed the deactivation “was done by a Twitter customer support employee who did this on the employee’s last day.” Twitter said it would be conducting a full internal review.

    Trump has used the account since March 2009. He has tweeted more than 36,000 times and has 41.7 million followers.

    Trump has spoken publicly about his reliance on Twitter before. In an interview with Maria Bartiromo of Fox Business Network last month, Trump credited his use of social media as among the reasons he was elected.

    “You have to keep people interested also,” he said. “You know, you have to keep people interested.”

    Twitter also serves as among Trump’s main tools for deflecting criticisms and attacks. In the same interview, Trump said, “When somebody says something about me, I am able to go bing, bing, bing and I take care of it.”

    Trump conceded that those close to him try to steer him away from social media. But he insists on tweeting — spelling errors included — as a weapon against “fake news.”


    Twitter employee on last day of job deactivated Trump’s account, company saysTwitter employee on last day of job deactivated Trump’s account, company says

older | 1 | .... | 1058 | 1059 | (Page 1060)