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Articles on this Page
- 07/12/17--14:11: _Pam McConnell left ...
- 07/12/17--06:00: _Tim Hortons operato...
- 07/12/17--15:15: _Mayor John Tory cal...
- 07/12/17--13:41: _Bombardier admits i...
- 07/12/17--11:57: _Let’s salute Jocely...
- 07/12/17--13:58: _Truck driver in fat...
- 07/12/17--16:50: _York trustees keen ...
- 07/12/17--15:40: _Hydro One CEO’s sal...
- 07/12/17--12:09: _‘Vague and unreliab...
- 07/12/17--07:06: _Bank of Canada hike...
- 07/12/17--14:36: _Julie Payette appea...
- 07/12/17--11:15: _Who was the nameles...
- 07/13/17--11:12: _Police release phot...
- 07/13/17--10:11: _Boy, 12, in critica...
- 07/13/17--16:37: _Potential ‘swatting...
- 07/13/17--07:49: _Donald Trump goes t...
- 07/13/17--08:48: _Canadian judge reje...
- 07/13/17--03:00: _‘Correction’ to sof...
- 07/13/17--13:00: _AGO show humanizes ...
- 07/13/17--09:16: _Republicans reject ...
- 07/12/17--06:00: Tim Hortons operators fear chain is losing its Canadian culture
- 07/12/17--15:15: Mayor John Tory calls for parking authority salaries to be released
- 07/12/17--13:41: Bombardier admits it may miss 2017 TTC streetcar delivery target
- 07/12/17--11:57: Let’s salute Jocelyn Alice’s giggle with a relieved laugh: Menon
- 07/12/17--13:58: Truck driver in fatal crash sentenced to three years in jail
- 07/12/17--16:50: York trustees keen to move forward after turbulent year
- 07/12/17--07:06: Bank of Canada hikes interest rate for first time in 7 years
- 07/12/17--14:36: Julie Payette appears poised to launch into Governor General role
- 07/12/17--11:15: Who was the nameless man fatally shot by Toronto police?
- 07/13/17--03:00: ‘Correction’ to soften Toronto home prices: Report
When John Tory first announced his team in 2014, his executive committee from among city councilors, I wrote a column about how he’d excluded downtown progressives from positions of influence.
Except Pam McConnell, whom he’d named a ceremonial deputy mayor.
It was a move about which I was dismissive: “One token gesture,” I called it. I said she and two other ceremonial deputies were “human props to be trotted out for events that require ribbon-cutting and civic-unity platitude uttering.”
Shortly after that, in a committee room at city hall, while I was chatting with another councillor, McConnell sneered at me from across the room: “I’m nobody’s window dressing,” she said.
In the wake of her death late last week, I’ve been thinking about how she was right about that.
She hasn’t been mere window dressing during John Tory’s term of office, and she wasn’t in her more than three decades of public service.
Instead, she leaves a formidable legacy that shaped her ward and the city.
By now, many who are most interested will have read many remembrances and appreciations of her life and work. These include, in a bit of charming eccentricity, Joe Warmington of the Toronto Sun, who quoted Donald Trump’s 2012 take that “Pam was a tough negotiator,” and musician and writer Dave Bidini, who revealed that McConnell had been a friend of Neil Young’s and had a permanent spot on the guest list of every show he ever played, and a few of us who recalled how she was tackled (accidentally) by Rob Ford during a city council debate at the height of those scandalous years.
But McConnell was a serious presence at city hall and a deliberate speaker, not often a participant in the bits of monkey business and jokey banter that sometimes overtake that body during long meetings.
Her record as a city councillor was substantial.
Most of what you’d consider her legacy is in what she got done, much of it fixing mistakes of the past.
Remembrances in this newspaper and one by John Lorinc at Spacing magazine recalled her steady hand as chair of the police board during a turbulent time and her work to build a community centre in St. James Town after that neighbourhood had suffered years of neglect.
You can look at the new neighbourhoods that have started to spring up in the south end of Corktown and in the Distillery District to see her efforts at overseeing the building of vibrant places, communities with magnificent spaces in them.
The Corktown Common park, built by Waterfront Toronto in her ward, with her help, is a stunning example of a park that can be the centrepiece of a community. When it opened, it seemed scarcely possible to imagine penny-pinching Toronto had actually built a place that nice. The same could be said of the newly revamped Berczy Park and its dog-sculpture fountain, reopened just days before McConnell died.
Perhaps there’s no bigger example of her legacy, nor a more influential one, than Regent Park, Toronto’s largest housing project and its oldest. The project to redevelop those units and rebuild a community with private market units both financing the work and joining the neighbourhoood is one she worked on for years. She worked on a “social development plan,” as part of it, to ensure the neighbourhood would have the kind of resources and amenities that would enable its population to thrive, and help make it a great place to live.
McConnell believed in it enough that she, herself, bought a market-rent condo in the revamped Regent Park.
By every account, the pool and park she helped get built at the centre of the neighbourhood is wonderful.
The project, itself, has become a model for the revitalization of other neighbourhoods in the city.
Much of what she did could be a model for others, explicitly so in her biggest project as deputy mayor this term. John Tory gave her the task of preparing an anti-poverty strategy for the city, a project he said was his chief reason for being in public life and which both he and McConnell said countered the perception her appointment amounted to mere window-dressing.
Indeed, the poverty-reduction strategy she came back with, endorsed by most prominent social agencies and anti-poverty groups in the city, is no token gesture; it is a sweeping 20-year plan, containing 71 concrete proposals, adopted in principle by city council.
It is only partly implemented, and the prospect of fully funding it has sometimes been seen as a hurdle. “Aspirational,” Tory called it when it first passed in principle. Budget processes since have had nail-biting fights about whether the dollars would come through.
At a memorial service for McConnell on the weekend, Tory suggested the implementation of the rest of that plan should proceed to honour her memory. “Her real legacy will be the work she did to help other people,” he said. “We’ll have to move forward, and I think it will be an extra impetus behind this, knowing she would want us to implement (the poverty-reduction strategy) as quickly, and to do as much for people who are struggling, as we can.”
There could be no more fitting tribute to McConnell’s career than to see her plan carried on, and see the goals behind it embraced more fully by her colleagues every day at work.
She left quite a legacy. And a big incomplete project for her colleagues to complete. It is a great life’s work from a public servant, one it’s now up to others to carry on.
Edward Keenan writes on city issues email@example.com . Follow: @thekeenanwire
Edward Keenan writes on city issues firstname.lastname@example.org . Follow: @thekeenanwire
Tim Hortons coffee and doughnuts are about as closely linked with the Canadian identity as hockey and universal health care, but the institution is under attack.
That’s the view of many of the chain’s franchisees, who are chafing under the corporate ownership of Restaurant Brands International Inc., the fast-food conglomerate that also runs Burger King and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen. They claim that efforts to squeeze money from restaurant operators are destroying Tim Hortons’ nice-guy image and forcing them to scale back community programs, including youth hockey.
Restaurant Brands, which subsumed Tim Hortons in 2014, is backed by the Brazilian investment firm 3G Capital — famous for pursuing hard-nosed deals and then aggressively managing expenses. At Tim Hortons, corporate is now charging franchisees more for everything from rent to bacon, which they say is hurting their bottom lines, boosting prices at the register and irking customers.
“We won’t be able to give the service that we’re known for,” said franchisee David Hughes, who owns five Tim Hortons in southern Alberta. “These guys have turned everything into a profit centre.”
Tensions between franchisees and corporate bosses are common throughout the restaurant industry. But the rift at Tim Hortons has been especially contentious. Hughes and about half of the chain’s Canadian owners formed a coalition in March called the Great White North Franchisee Association, aiming to amplify their concerns.
Last month, the group filed a class-action suit arguing that Restaurant Brands executives have breached their obligations to local operators.
As Tim Hortons management charges higher prices for coffee and other supplies, restaurants have had to lay off workers, the franchisees say. Store owners are stocking up on bags of sugar at Costco, where it’s cheaper than what the corporate parent charges. Even knives and scissors are more expensive under 3G.
Daniel Schwartz, a 3G partner who serves as Restaurant Brands’ chief executive officer, said that the company has met with the Great White North Franchisee Association. But he doesn’t want to argue with franchisees in public.
“There’s been a lot of change,” Schwartz, 36, said in an interview last month. “With change comes anxiety and uncertainty.”
Tim Gilks, a former Tim Hortons executive who runs a commodities-consulting firm, says the company is now charging each restaurant about $13,750 more for coffee a year. While commodity costs have gone up for everyone, corporate is pushing prices well beyond that increase, he said.
Diners are noticing the changes, especially the higher menu prices, Hughes said. In Alberta, cups of coffee are now 2 cents more expensive than they used to be. That doesn’t sound like much, but coffee drinkers are creatures of habit — and even a small uptick may register with them.
Franchisees have been increasingly vocal since 2014, when 3G and Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway first combined Tim Hortons with Burger King. That deal created Restaurant Brands, which located its headquarters in Tim Hortons’ longtime home of Oakville.
Wade MacCallum, who owns six Tim Hortons in Canada, said he was told things would be “business as usual” when Restaurant Brands took over. Instead, 3G has overhauled everything, he said.
“The 3G business model is based on cost cutting,” said MacCallum, who serves on the board of the franchisee association. “I don’t think there’s a part of the business they haven’t touched.”
It’s not just restaurant operations that are affected, franchisees say. Restaurant Brands also has cut local marketing from a franchisee-funded advertising pool. Hughes said his area used to get between $60,000 and $100,000 a year to spend on community programs such as hockey, camps for children, swimming days and local barbecues.
“You’ve got three or four generations that have been brought up with Tim Hortons,” said Hughes, who runs the Great White North group. “We were involved in the community. Restaurant Brands, they’re not interested in that. All those things that we are famous for — the kids’ camps — those are the things that make us different than everyone else.”
Restaurant Brands said that there’s a dedicated team that supports franchisees across North America, and the company has been focused on cultivating the Tim Hortons brand over the long term since it took over in 2014.
“We are very proud that in each year since, we have been able to grow same-store sales and franchisee profitability in both Canada and the U.S.,” the company said in an emailed statement.
Restaurant Brands also has rewarded investors, with the stock gaining 28 per cent last year and about 30 per cent so far in 2017.
But there have been recent signs of a slowdown. Tim Hortons’ same-store sales slipped 0.1 per cent last quarter, missing analysts’ projections. That could add pressure to mend ties with franchisees.
The chain was founded more than 50 years ago by hockey legend Tim Horton, who first sold coffee and pastries for 10 cents each. The operation — known by customers as “Tims” — has since grown to about 4,600 locations globally, becoming a ubiquitous presence in Canadian shopping centres, airports and street corners from Vancouver to Halifax.
Tim Hortons is critical to Restaurant Brands, which got more than 70 per cent of its revenue last year from charging the franchisees for food, equipment, royalties and rent. That makes it more lucrative than Burger King, whose franchisees don’t have the same purchasing deal.
Sales are also higher at Tim Hortons, which last year averaged $1.39 million a store, versus $1.16 million for Burger King.
In its lawsuit, the Great White North association is seeking $500 million in damages. The group said it filed the complaint because of the parent company’s “lack of transparency and unwillingness to answer important questions.”
Last month, the association announced that about half of U.S.-based Tim Hortons store owners had also joined the movement. There are about 700 Tim Hortons shops in the U.S.
“We built this brand one store at a time, and it was based on that community thing,” Hughes said. “Somehow, we’ve got to get back to that.”
Mayor John Tory says a loophole preventing disclosure of top executive salaries at the Toronto Parking Authority should be closed and those figures released.
“All the money in the Toronto Parking Authority is public money,” he told the Star Wednesday. “I asked today that they just find a way to make this information public.”
His comments were prompted by a Star story Tuesday about how the salaries of executives, including President Lorne Persiko, who is currently on administrative leave pending an ongoing investigation, are kept secret.
Official requests for salary information have been denied by the parking authority and fought with a hired employment law firm. The Star has appealed to the province’s information commissioner.
While the salaries of many heads of city agencies and corporations appear on the provincial public disclosure (Sunshine) list, Persiko’s does not.
The city says that’s because they are exempt under public disclosure rules. As a self-sufficient agency they receive no public funds.
But the arms-length agency, which manages the city’s more than 200 Green P parking lots and 17,500 on-street parking spaces is responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars of city assets. According to TPA documents, 50 cents of every dollar it earns is transferred to the city.
“This notion to me that there aren’t any public funds . . . to me is incredibly lacking in transparency,” Tory said. “They’re all public funds.”
City spokesperson Wynna Brown said the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act outlines what is an unreasonable invasion of personal privacy, and that an individual’s salary is “generally seen” as an unjustified invasion. Salary ranges and benefits are not protected information.
Brown provided salary ranges in an email Wednesday.
For Persiko’s president position, the base salary range is $246,500 to $333,500 — which is in line with what the heads of other city agencies earn.
That range does not include taxable benefits, which can include things like bonuses and parking. It’s unclear what, if any, taxable benefits Persiko and other executives receive.
In 2016, Dianne Young, CEO of Exhibition Place earned $231,629 including taxable benefits, the Toronto Zoo’s CEO John Tracogna made $252,361 and TTC CEO Andy Byford was paid $354,810.
The base salary range for other top executives at the parking authority is between $168,969 and $202,772.
In representations responding to the Star’s appeal, the parking authority also argued that the information should not be released because it was held in a software system used for human resources purposes and should be excluded from disclosure rules.
Tory called the inability to disclose the salaries a “loophole” — one that should be closed and the rules changed.
“What I’ve asked is they just find a way to fix that, because I think it should be public.”
The parking authority is currently under new direction, with interim president Andy Koropeski appointed by a temporary watchdog board on Monday.
The board, now chaired by City Manager Peter Wallace, was put in place by council last week after the city’s auditor general presented her findings into a North York land deal that has since been halted.
Auditor General Beverly Romeo-Beehler found the deal being pursued by the parking authority for a parcel of land at Finch Ave. West and Arrow Rd. would have seen the parking authority overpay by $2.63 million.
Brown said Wallace is “committed to ensuring appropriate transparency.”
Jennifer Pagliaro can be reached at 416-869-4556 or email@example.com
Jennifer Pagliaro can be reached at 416-869-4556 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The TTC’s much-delayed streetcar order could be headed for another setback.
After months of assurances from Bombardier that the company was on track to meet its latest delivery targets, the Quebec-based rail manufacturer warned the transit agency this week that it will be a “challenge” to supply 70 cars by the end of 2017 as scheduled.
TTC CEO Andy Byford revealed the latest snag with the $1-billion vehicle purchase at a meeting of the agency’s board on Wednesday, where commissioners also voted to seek out other potential suppliers for future streetcar orders.
“They (Bombardier) have said to me that the 70 by year-end is still possible, but it’s at risk and that it’s increasingly challenging,” said Byford, who discussed the order Tuesday with Bombardier’s president of transportation for the Americas, Benoit Brossoit.
“They have not ruled out that 70, I am not letting them off the hook for that 70, but they have flagged that there is a risk that we may fall a few vehicles short.”
Byford said the TTC won’t know “for another couple of months” whether the company will miss the deadline.
As of this week the TTC has 40 of the new streetcars on its property. Under a timetable the two sides agreed to in 2012, the agency was supposed to have about 130 by now. Some of the vehicles that have arrived are experiencing reliability issues, mainly related to their doors.
A Bombardier spokesperson confirmed that the company told the TTC that the latest delivery schedule could slip, but he said the corporation made the disclosure of out a desire to be transparent and he described the potential delay as a “very limited, short-term issue.”
“This does not mean Bombardier will not reach its target for 2017,” wrote Marc-André Lefebvre in an email.
“We are still fully on track to deliver the entire fleet of 204 streetcars by the original contract deadline of 2019.”
Lefebvre said that the company is “deploying extraordinary resources” to meet the year-end goal. Measures the company has taken include extending the work week at its Thunder Bay, Ont. plant from five to seven days, and adding resources at its other production facilities in Mexico and Europe.
Bombardier has also chartered a large Antonov cargo plane to ship streetcar cabs from Vienna, Austria, instead of sending them by sea. Lefebvre said that the flights cost $750,000 and will save the company a month on shipping time. All additional investments being put into streetcar production will be borne by Bombardier, he stated.
“All cards are on the table. No stone will be left unturned,” Lefebvre said.
Deputy Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong, who sits on the TTC board, did not appear convinced by Bombardier’s assurances.
“I’m a little bit disappointed that this word ‘challenging’ is used,” he told reporters after the meeting.
“Given their past performance, I think they may be getting ready to give us more bad news about the delivery of streetcars, because we’ve received a lot of bad news in the past.”
Minnan-Wong moved a motion at the meeting to conduct a “market sounding” exercise to seek out other potential streetcar suppliers. The motion, which Minnan-Wong drafted before learning about the latest potential delay, passed unanimously, which the deputy mayor said reflected the agency’s “frustration” with Bombardier.
The TTC has conceded that it is effectively locked into the current Bombardier contract for 204 vehicles, but the agency says it will eventually need an additional 60 cars to meet ridership demand.
The TTC ordered the accessible, low-floor streetcars from Bombardier in 2009 to replace its aging fleet, but Bombardier has failed to meet deadlines and repeatedly revised delivery schedules downwards. The company is currently on its fifth schedule since the order was signed.
The delays to the order prompted the TTC to sue the company in 2015 for liquidated damages. Under the terms of the contract the agency can seek up to $50 million for late delivery.
A Star investigation published in May documented a litany of production problems that have plagued the order, including poor workmanship, design failures, and persistent difficulties the company has had in managing its global supply chain.
Bombardier’s inability to meet even lowered delivery targets despite executives’ public and private assurances contributed to the near complete breakdown in the TTC’s relationship with the company last year. It was only partially restored when Bombardier replaced its head of its Americas transportation division in April 2016.
Around the same time Bombardier launched a “get well plan” aimed at improving production, and it was able to meet the revised schedule of supplying 30 cars by the end of 2016.
It has also met delivery targets for the first six months of this year, but the most vehicles it has delivered in a single month was in May, when it supplied three.
To meet the 70-car target, the company would have to manufacture a total of 40 cars this year, and the schedule calls for a production rate of at least seven cars in each of the last three months of 2017. In the three years since production began, Bombardier has never achieved a production rate that high.
An even more challenging task awaits the company next year. In order to keep the latest schedule on track, Bombardier would have to produce an average of 6.3 vehicles a month throughout 2018, for a total of 76 cars next year. That’s nearly double the number of vehicles it is struggling to supply in 2017.
The next time Major League Baseball makes changes to the All-Star Game, it might consider just piping in a recorded version of “O Canada.”
Forget the live performance.
No good can come from the live performance.
Apparently, the baseball gods are now determined to turn any live performance of our national anthem into a national disgrace.
Just ask singer Jocelyn Alice. On Tuesday night, while behind the mic at Marlins Park in Miami and soaking up the biggest spotlight of her fledgling career, Alice was charged with a singing error after she let out an audible giggle in between the lyrics, “God keep our land” and “glorious and free.”
Why did she laugh? I’m not sure. Maybe she’s an atheist who finds the concept of divine protection to be an absurd betrayal of her beliefs. Maybe she thinks freedom is hilarious. Or maybe she caught the expressions of some players who started to react to her rendition of “O Canada” the way toddlers react to cough syrup.
As Alice sang, folding her arms into her chest, overemoting and under-delivering on little things like time, pitch and about 80 per cent of the high notes, Canadian slugger Joey Votto raised his eyebrows and did one of those abrupt headshakes that roughly translates into, “Mommy, this tastes horrible.”
Jays closer Roberto Osuna somehow looked both confused and bored, like he was suddenly locked in the bullpen with a talking iguana that was inexplicably reciting the latest terms and conditions from the iTunes store.
Then there was the reaction of Osuna’s teammate, Justin Smoak, which in turn sparked a grand slam of speculation on social media and in the news on Wednesday.
Did Smoak shoot poor Alice a death stare after she giggled? As a rep for the only Canadian team in the league, as an honorary and beloved Torontonian, did Justin take personal offence at this possible show of disrespect? Did he fear too much more of her singing might land him on the 15-day disabled list with cochlear strain?
Personally, I didn’t think Smoak looked peeved. That death stare? Yeah, that’s just his resting face. Whether he’s standing at first base or sitting on the bench or wobbling in the batter’s box before launching a 450-foot moon shot of a home run, that’s how Justin Smoak always looks.
He probably has daggers shooting out of his retinas while grilling catfish. He probably glowers in the shower and scowls in the pool.
There’s a reason his nickname is not Chuckles.
No, the real story here — and it’s a feel-good story — is that we live in a country that can still get hot and bothered about a nervous laugh in the middle of our national anthem during an all-star game in a sport that has only one Canadian team.
And you know what? Even these scandals are getting gentler with time.
I mean, Gigglegate has got nothing on last year’s “O Canada” controversy, when that tenor went rogue and altered the lyrics to make a political statement about how all lives matter.
That lone wolf was the Donald Trump Jr. of national anthem singers.
But here’s the thing: it’s the rest of the world that is keeping me up at night.
It’s the rest of the world that is driving me to drink. It’s the rest of the world where social unrest is booming and politics is beyond toxic and lives are shattered and an iceberg the size of Prince Edward Island just broke off Antarctica.
The rest of the world is a mess and getting messier by the day.
But here in Canada, we are debating a giggle — a giggle— in our national anthem. The real horrors are sufficiently far enough away to allow us such a sweet diversion. As other countries are imploding, we are torching a singer. I mean, how lucky are we to live in a country that is so great that even the brawls are pizza-related?
So this is me removing my cap and saluting you, young Jocelyn Alice.
Yes, you botched the anthem. Yes, your singing clearly needs some work.
But the fact we can laugh at your laugh proves we are just fine.
The delivery truck driver who killed a woman and injured more than a dozen others when he crashed his vehicle into a TTC bus four years ago has been sentenced to three years in jail.
Vicente Arbis’s sentence, delivered Monday by Ontario Superior Court Justice Kelly Wright, also carries a 10-year driving ban, an attorney general ministry spokesperson confirmed.
Arbis was convicted of one count of criminal negligence causing death and two counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm late last year.
He was charged in 2013 after crashing his food delivery truck into a TTC bus at Steeles Ave. E. and Middlefield Rd. in north Scarborough shortly before noon on Aug. 13.
Court heard evidence that Arbis was driving the wrong way just before the crash at speeds of up to 85 km/h as he tried to beat a red light, while holding a phone to his ear.
Arbis was driving east on Steeles when he veered into the westbound lane, entered the intersection and crashed his truck into the bus, which was stopped to pick up passengers at the northeast corner.
Manoranjana Kanagasabapathy, a 52-year-old Scarborough grandmother, was killed as she was stepping onto the bus. Others on board were injured, including the bus driver, who had to be rescued from the wreckage.
The Crown argued during the trial that Arbis deliberately crossed into the oncoming lane of traffic to bypass the left turn lane, which was backed up with cars, in an attempt to beat the red light and make a left turn onto Middlefield.
Witnesses said they saw Arbis holding a phone, although cell phone records didn’t show he was on his mobile at the time of the crash.
The Crown declined to comment Wednesday. Arbis’s lawyer also didn’t return a request for comment.
After a school year of controversy and upheaval, York Region trustees welcomed the start of their summer break this week after scrambling to meet education ministry deadlines on equity training, rebuilding fractured relationships with the community and implementing policies to improve transparency.
In April, the ministry ordered the York Region District School Board to complete 22 directives after a three-month probe revealed concerns around racism, leadership and governance.
The damning report, which was largely critical of then-education director J. Philip Parappally, led to his dismissal in April.
Since then the board has been in sprint mode to fulfill the ministry’s deadlines, and move forward.
“We now have a voice and mandate to do the progressive work — that many of us have always wanted to do,” said board chair Loralea Carruthers, about the final board meeting that took place Monday. “Staff and trustees have done phenomenal work getting the board back on track. We have excellent plans and policies in place to start us off on the right foot in September.”
Education Minister Mitzie Hunter said she is pleased with the board’s efforts and will “continue to closely monitor” its progress.
So far, Hunter said, the board “has taken many positive and promising steps towards compliance with my directions. I appreciate these efforts by the board and the many dedicated staff engaged in this work.”
The first order of business Monday was to swear in new Georgina trustee Cynthia Cordova, who won the byelection last month, in the seat held for years by Nancy Elgie. Elgie resigned earlier this year, after apologizing for referring to a Black parent using a racial slur.
Over the last few months, all staff and trustees completed their governance and human rights training, and will continue to receive training throughout the year, said Carruthers.
Among plans submitted to the ministry this week was one to “promote positive and inclusive spaces for all staff and students.” They also included efforts to hire more diverse staff, offer better human rights training for staff, and ways to better respond to incidents of racism.
There seems to be optimism for change from both inside and outside the board. Almost 30 people have applied to run the newly formed Human Rights Office, with interviews for the commissioner taking place this week.
Trustees who were previously lambasted for petty infighting and misusing code of conduct investigations for punitive and political reasons, will also have some help dealing with municipal issues with the aid of an integrity commissioner.
Over the past few months, former Toronto integrity commissioner, Janet Leiper, helped the board develop policy to set the framework for the position. In the interim, until a more “fulsome” selection process takes place later in the year, well-known ethics commissioner John Mascarin has been tapped to take on the role.
But there is still much work to do be done — especially around the hiring of a new director. The trustees will likely finalize the selection of a recruiting company in August, said Carruthers, with the actual process taking place in the fall.
The interim director Kathi Wallace, who will be at the helm until the new director is hired, says all the plans and policies will not “work in isolation” but will become “embedded in our work moving forward, even beyond the deadlines and requirements of the directions.”
Hunter said ministry officials are helping trustees and staff “to ensure that the spirit and intent of my directions are being met. We are all working towards the same goals of restoring public trust in the (board) and promoting accountability and responsibility for equity and inclusion for all communities of the board.”
With files from Kristin Rushowy
The head of Hydro One makes double the salary of his next highest-paid provincial counterpart, and 10 times that of some CEOs in smaller provinces.
At $4.4 million in salary and bonuses in 2016, Hydro One CEO Mayo Schmidt is well above the Alberta CEO, whose pay package topped out at $2.2 million in 2015.
On Wednesday, Ontario PC Leader Patrick Brown said if elected, he would clamp down on salaries at Hydro One and electricity producer Ontario Power Generation, through legislative or policy changes, though he was not specific.
“It’s time to stop rewarding the people who are presiding over the Wynne Liberal hydro rip-off,” Brown said in a written statement. “These are the same people who have presided over a system that has tripled our hydro bills since 2003.”
In a statement to the Star, Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault said the “government recognizes that every dollar of public money should be spent with good intention and thorough consideration — both need to be taken into account whenever proposing salaries.
“We recognize that executive salaries are high compared to the vast majority of Ontario salaries, and we’ve introduced new regulations that require rigorous review of executive compensation frameworks. Our guidelines also create more stringent executive benefits, and we’ll continue to focus on ensuring that salaries are fair to the public purse.”
For five years, the NDP has been calling on the government to rein in public sector CEO compensation, said MPP Catherine Fife, who criticized the PCs for initiating the move toward hydro privatization when in power under Mike Harris.
“We’ve been calling for greater oversight, independent oversight, of those salaries, but we’ve been on the record for at least five years now to address the public sector compensation issue, because the public considers (the high salaries) a slap in the face, as they should,” Fife said in a telephone interview.
Rafael Gomez, director of the Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources at the University of Toronto, agreed, saying the former Tory government’s moves, as well as the recent selling of shares under by Liberal government, encourages utilities to start acting more like private sector corporations.
And when they look to set CEO pay levels, they turn to private sector comparisons “because there’s no company large enough that you can find in a public setting … so they go to the private sector and the comparables become GM and that sort of thing.”
In a statement to the Star, Hydro One said its “executive compensation package reflects the company’s need to attract and retain the highest level of expertise in a marketplace where it is competing for talent with large private-sector companies across North America, including other investor-owned utilities.”
Natalie Poole-Moffatt, vice-president of corporate affairs, also said 80 per cent of the CEO’s salary is based on meeting performance targets.
The widow of an American soldier killed in Afghanistan has failed to show there’s a real risk former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Omar Khadr is hiding his money as a way to avoid paying people he might owe, new court filings show.
In urging Ontario Superior Court to dismiss a request for an injunction against Khadr, his lawyer argues Tabitha Speer and another former American soldier have not shown a strong case to back their demand for an urgent freeze on any money paid him by the federal government.
“The scant evidence offered in support of this pleading consists of double and triple hearsay statements drawn from media reports and Wikipedia,” lawyer Nate Whitling writes in his factum ahead of Thursday’s court hearing.
“The hearsay now relied upon by the applicants is so vague and unreliable as to be of zero probative value.”
Speer, the widow of Sgt. Chris Speer, and Layne Morris, who was blinded in the 2002 firefight in which American forces captured the badly wounded 15-year-old Khadr, won a default $134.1-million (U.S.) wrongful-death judgment against Khadr two years ago in Utah.
They are now trying to have the judgment enforced in Canada and want to go after Khadr’s assets, including the widely reported $10.5 million sources have said the federal government paid him to settle his breach-of-rights suit against Ottawa.
Relying on newspaper stories is always a dangerous legal proposition, especially given that the courts have no way of assessing the credibility of the reports the applicants are citing in their materials, Whitling states in his factum.
Speer’s lawyer has written reporters at the Globe and Mail to ask that they put their anonymous source in touch with him, Whitling says, adding he has seen no response.
Part of the Speer application also calls on the court to force Khadr, who has refused to talk publicly about any money he was paid given the settlement’s confidentiality requirements, to provide an accounting of his assets and financial affairs.
In response, Whitling argues no evidence of any “nefarious activity” by Khadr has been shown and his client has nothing to answer for.
“No adverse inference should be drawn from the fact that (he) apparently wishes to keep his private affairs private,” the factum states.
The filing also heaps scorn on Speer’s assertion that some of Khadr’s relatives are “bad people” based on various news reports and Wikipedia pages. The “evidence” has no relevance to the case and comes nowhere near to any kind of “convincing proof,” Whitling says.
Ultimately, he argues the American applicants have fallen well short of meeting the requirements for an injunction.
“It is insufficient for an applicant to raise a mere possibility that the defendant will hide or dissipate assets, since such possibilities exist in every case,” his factum states.
He also notes the Americans have refused to provide an undertaking that they will cover any damages to Khadr if their application is unsuccessful.
The Utah judgment was almost entirely dependent on Khadr’s confession to having killed Speer. The admission formed part of his 2010 plea bargain to five war crimes before a widely discredited American military commission in Guantanamo Bay, where he was held for 10 years.
Khadr never defended against the Utah case — he was in jail in Canada serving out the sentence handed him by the commission.
His factum notes it has always been “uncontroversial” that Khadr as a minor was detained without charge in a “legal black hole” and without access to a lawyer or family for years.
As a result, the American applicants have not shown a strong case for enforcement of the Utah judgment here given Canadian courts are statute barred from enforcing foreign judgments if they would be counter to Canadian public policy, the factum says.
“The applicants will undoubtedly ask this court to pretend that their Utah judgment is entirely independent from the (Guantanamo) prosecution and has nothing to do with the cruel and inhuman treatment inflicted upon (Khadr),” Whitling states. “But even a cursory review of the applicants’ complaint refutes that contention.”
The Bank of Canada raised its key interest rate Wednesday for the first time since September 2010, but said there is “no predetermined path” for further increases and that rate policy would be examined on a quarter-by-quarter basis.
Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz called the rate increase to 0.75 per cent, which will immediately impact adjustable-rate mortgages and home equity lines of credit, “a symptom” of a growing economy that is now expected to reach full capacity by the end of the year.
Soon after the announcement, Royal Bank of Canada, the Bank of Montreal, TD Bank, Scotiabank and CIBC all announced they were increasing their prime rates — the rate banks use to set interest rates for variable-rate mortgages and other loans — to 2.95 per cent from 2.7 per cent, effective Thursday.
Canada’s central bank had cut interest rates in 2015 to help the economy navigate a plunge in oil prices, but Poloz said recently that those rate cuts had done their job.
On Wednesday, Poloz cautioned that forecasting any future rate trend is hampered by heightened geopolitical uncertainty for trade and investment due to such factors as U.S. policy under President Donald Trump and the outlook for world oil prices.
The bank must also consider any potentially negative impacts of rate hikes on the oil patch and on consumers, who Poloz called especially vulnerable due to historically high levels of household debt.
The bank said its new outlook for real GDP growth is 2.8 per cent for 2017 (up 0.2 of a percentage point from April), 2.0 per cent in 2018 (up 0.1 of a percentage point from April) and 1.6 per cent in 2019 (down 0.2 of a percentage point from April).
The hike comes as inflation remains below the central bank’s target, although it said lower food prices, electricity rebates in Ontario and changes in automobile pricing are expected to fade.
The Bank of Canada said it expects inflation to return to its 2 per cent target by mid-2018. Inflation is expected to average below 2 per cent this year and next, and reach 2.1 per cent by 2019, slightly above target.
“We need to be targeting inflation in the future (since) any action we take is only going to have its full effect in 18 to 24 months,” Poloz said.
“Growth is broadening across industries and regions and therefore becoming more sustainable,” the bank’s governing council added in a statement. “As the adjustment to lower oil prices is largely complete, both the goods and services sectors are expanding.”
Jean-Paul Lam, an associate professor of economics at the University of Waterloo and former assistant chief economist at the Bank of Canada, said that even with a rapidly growing economy and the labour market performing well “there is no urgency to raise interest rates.
“Inflation and inflation expectations remain well below their target of 2 per cent. There are risks to growth and inflation coming from potential trade barriers, geopolitical events and a U.S. economy that is facing slower growth due to the uncertainty coming from the Trump administration.”
Arlene Kish, senior principal economist at IHS Global, said that although rates remain very low by historical standards, “diverse growth, the temporary pass through of weak inflation and the labour market slack absorption supports another increase in the overnight rate later this year, in October 2017.”
And while there was no additional guidance on the timing of further rate hikes, the Bank of Canada said withdrawal of some of the monetary policy stimulus in the economy is now warranted. Kish noted that there was also no indication that the bank would pause.
The Bank of Canada’s next rate announcement is set for Sept. 6.
Julie Payette, who rocketed into space as Canada’s second female astronaut, appears poised to become the next Governor General.
Payette, who left Canada’s astronaut corps four years ago, appears likely to be named as the Queen’s next representative in Canada on Thursday.
The 53-year-old Montreal native would replace David Johnston, who has held the office for seven years, becoming the fourth woman to hold the governor general post after Michaëlle Jean, Adrienne Clarkson and Jeanne Sauvé.
The Prime Minister’s Office was not officially commenting Wednesday on the choice of the next Governor General. But a senior government official confirmed that Payette appeared certain to take on the post.
The identity of Johnston’s replacement has been a closely guarded secret. Traditionally, the viceregal job rotates between anglophones and francophones, with all indications pointing to a francophone filling the portfolio beginning this fall.
If confirmed, Payette would bring an impressive resumé to Rideau Hall, one that already includes a commercial pilot’s licence, credentials as a deep-sea diving suit operator, the ability to converse in six languages — French, English, Spanish, Italian, Russian and German — pianist, and orchestra singer.
In 1992, the Canadian Space Agency picked Payette and three others from a pool of 5,330 applicants to become astronauts.
She went on to fly two missions on the space shuttle in 1999 and 2009, missions that included stops at the International Space Station. She has logged a total of 611 hours in orbit. She has also served as capsule communicator, responsible for communications between mission control in Houston and astronauts in orbit.
Payette holds a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Montreal’s McGill University and a master’s of applied science in computer engineering from the University of Toronto. She told the Star in 2014 that the deficit of women in science is a “multi-faceted issue.”
“It has to do with recruitment, retention, promotion within the system, which may not be always equal, accommodation and then the fifth one is what I call image,” she said.
“There is a bit of an image that is tagged to scientists and engineers, and I don’t think I fit that, but I am through and through very much an engineer and proudly so. I’m a total geek and I love it.”
The Governor General also serves as commander-in-chief of the Canadian Armed Forces. As part of her 1,300 hours of flight time, Payette has experience flying CT-114 Tutor jet — the same aircraft used by the Snowbirds aerobatic team — and has earned her instrument rating with the military.
She has been honoured with more than a dozen honorary degrees from Canadian universities.
During Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill, Prince Charles paid tribute to Johnson’s” impeccable service as her “majesty’s representative.”
“He has earned great respect and gratitude as a modern nation-builder whose commitment to the youth of Canada and reconciliation is exemplary,” Charles told the crowd.
Multiple officials say Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will make the announcement at 1 p.m. in the foyer of the Senate, and is expected to be flanked by the new viceregal, just as Johnston stood alongside Stephen Harper when he was tapped for the job in 2010.
Johnston, who had a long career in academia, was chosen for the position off a short list presented to Harper by an ad hoc committee of experts struck with the express task of selecting a non-partisan person with constitutional knowledge.
At the time, Harper had a minority government and so who held the post of Governor General was essential to maintaining the stability of government. Johnston’s term is set to expire in September, after Harper extended it by two years ahead of the 2015 federal election.
The names of those on the selection committee weren’t published until after Johnston’s nomination, but Harper would go on to make the committee a permanent body, saying a process to ensure a non-partisan approach to appointments was important.
When asked late last year how he’d pick the next Governor General, Trudeau was noncommittal about what process he would use.
“I’m not going to change things just to reinvent the wheel,” Trudeau said in a year-end interview with The Canadian Press.
“If there is a good process that we can improve by making (it) more open and transparent and more diverse, that I will probably do.”
Johnston is currently on a visit to China and is expected to have an audience with the Queen next week when he travels to the U.K. for Canada 150 events, likely marking the last time he will sit face-to-face with the monarch he represents.
In his farewell speech on Canada Day, Johnston said he has learned much in his seven years on the job.
“These are challenging but exciting times,” he said. “And together we can show the world what a great country looks like. To me it looks like Canada, a country that strives, always, to be smarter and more caring — to do better, together.”
With files from Alanna Rizza and The Canadian Press
With files from Alanna Rizza and The Canadian Press
No one knew John Doe.
Not his real name, not his birthday, not where he came from. More than a year after Doe ambushed Toronto police officers with a kitchen knife in a dusty rail corridor in North York, leading one of them to fatally shoot him, all investigators can say is that he was a sex offender with a violent past.
The province’s police watchdog released the results of its investigation into Doe’s death Wednesday. Special Investigations Unit director Tony Loparco decided not to charge anyone in the shooting, saying the officer’s fear was reasonable.
“The officer was faced with a dangerous and dynamic situation that unfolded quickly over mere seconds,” Loparco wrote in the report.
This wasn’t the SIU’s first brush with John Doe, who also went by the aliases of Roy Norman, Chung Nu and Jonathan Grant. His true identity has remained a mystery to law enforcement for as long as they’ve known him.
“For at least the last decade, the complainant in this case has been known to police as John Doe with a specified date of birth,” SIU spokesperson Monica Hudon wrote in an email to the Star.
“During our most recent investigation, we learned that the complainant’s date of birth had actually been assigned to him by police.”
Hudon didn’t say how police knew Doe was the same man without a name or birthday to identify him.
The SIU investigated another encounter between Doe and Toronto police five years ago, when Doe approached officers with a “large butcher’s knife” and ignored their requests to drop it.
Doe had been rummaging around in a dumpster behind a plaza in Weston at about 12:30 p.m. on Jan. 6, 2012. He refused to answer questions, silently pointing the knife and walking towards the officers instead.
“As additional officers began to arrive, Mr. Doe walked west toward Weston Rd. with the knife in his right hand, partially covered with a sock,” read the SIU’s report on the incident.
When Doe came within two metres of one officer, he shot Doe four times, the report said. The officer wasn’t charged.
The bullets hit Doe’s hand, thigh, chest and abdomen, but he survived.
The shooting that killed John Doe happened on a stretch of Canadian Pacific Railway land near Weston Rd. and Hwy. 400 on June 17, 2016.
Though Toronto police were there to serve Doe with notice that he’d failed to register as a sex offender as required, railway police also wanted to arrest him for trespassing and building “makeshift shelters” along the tracks.
Railway police also arrested him in March, 2015. At the time, Doe threatened them with a baseball bat and carried a knife in a sheath near the small of his back, the SIU report said.
Now, however, he was back.
Before arresting him in June 2016, Toronto police had been worried about the state of Doe’s mental health, the SIU report said, consulting with a psychiatrist to figure out the best approach.
However, as police tried to approach him the day he was shot, Doe jumped out of bushes next to the train tracks and charged toward the officers with a large knife in hand.
As Doe raised the knife over his head just metres away from the officers, one of them shot Doe four times.
One bullet travelled through his jawbone. Another fatally wounded his heart, while two more pierced his left and right lungs.
Though paramedics tried to revive him, Doe was killed. Investigators later found Doe’s knife still lying under his left hand.
CAMBRIDGE, ONT.—Police have released a photo of a shoe in the hope that it will help identify a body discovered in a rural area near Cambridge, Ont.
Waterloo regional police say the body was found Wednesday in a farmer’s field in North Dumfries Township and an autopsy is expected to be conducted Thursday in Hamilton.
They say preliminary information suggests that the body is that of a male.
There will be an increased police presence in the area as investigators continue their work.
Police are asking for anyone who recognizes the shoe and can identify the deceased to contact police.
A 12-year-old boy has been airlifted to Sick Kids in critical condition after a multiple-vehicle collision on the QEW in Mississauga.
The collision happened around 10:30 a.m. in the westbound lanes of the QEW approaching Hurontario St., where a transport truck and at least five other vehicles were involved, said OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt.
The boy was taken to Sick Kids with serious injuries via ORNGE air ambulance.
Peel paramedics said six patients have been taken to hospital, including two other children younger than 12, Schmidt said. All sustained non-life-threatening injuries and are in stable condition.
The OPP closed all westbound lanes at Cawthra Rd. for the investigation but they have since reopened.
After an apparent fake call about a shooting, police surrounded a house in Rosedale early Thursday—but when they broke down the door, nobody was home.
“On its face, it seems as though it was not a legitimate call,” said Mark Pugash, director of communications with Toronto police. “But we are investigating.”
Just after midnight, somebody called police saying there was a shooting in a house on Elm Ave. and Dunbar Road, said Const. David Hopkinson.
Video from the scene shows armed Emergency Task Force officers in the area with dogs.
But when officers forced their way inside, there was nobody there, Pugash said.
The hoaxers often use spoofed phone lines, so that it seems like the call is coming from inside the targeted building.
Pugash would not use the term “swatting,” saying it has no legal meaning. But he called hoax calls “dangerous and very serious,” because they take significant police resources away from real emergencies.
It was a distracting night for Toronto police, who also received a 911 call Wednesday from a man complaining that someone hadn’t flushed the toilet in a restaurant.
Pugash said they are investigating that call as well.
“That is dangerous. It’s reckless. And it endangers people who are in genuine emergencies,” he said.
Toronto police don’t keep statistics on swatting calls, but Pugash said they’re not common in Toronto. Anecdotally, he’s only heard of one or two incidents.
But Const. Andy Pattenden, spokesperson for York Regional Police, estimates they get swatting calls at least once a month.
“We don’t often publicize all of them, because it just creates that sort of copycat type behaviour,” he said.
Pattenden said 911 call-takers are getting better at identifying hoaxes, and in some cases they’re dispatching fewer resources to those calls.
In 2015, a family in Richmond Hillbecame a target of swatters. York Regional police received a realistic 911-call from a man, claiming that his schizophrenic father had shot and killed his mother with an assault rifle.
But when police broke down the door, they found two adults and two children who had no idea why police were in their home.
Pattenden said nobody was charged in the incident—and that’s typical. He said that it’s often hard to track down the person behind a swatting call. The calls could come from anywhere in the world, he said, and people often use different IP addresses and disguise their voices.
Beyond tying up police resources, Pattenden said swatting calls can also put innocent people at risk. When police blast into a home with guns out, “very horrible things could happen,” he said, adding that it’s also emotionally traumatic for the victims.
Pugash would not speculate on specifics, but said hoaxers and reckless 911-callers could face criminal charges. He asks anybody with information about the incident to contact police.
With files from Bryann Aguilar
With files from Bryann Aguilar
PARIS—U.S. President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron set aside lingering differences on climate change during their meeting in France on Thursday, asserting that it shouldn’t prevent them from working together toward a postwar road map for Syria and to enhance Mideast security.
Trump, standing alongside Macron at a news conference, said the two nations have “occasional disagreements” but that would not disrupt a friendship that dates back to the American Revolution. He remained noncommittal about the United States eventually rejoining the global climate agreement that bears Paris’ name, telling Macron, “if it happens that will be wonderful, and if it doesn’t that will be OK too.”
Macron acknowledged sharp differences on the Paris climate pact but said the two leaders could find other areas of co-operation. “Should that have an impact on the discussions we’re having on all other topics? No, absolutely not,” he said.
Trump arrived in the French capital on Thursday for a whirlwind, 36-hour visit to meet with Macron and tackle potential solutions to the crisis in Syria and discuss broader counterterrorism strategies before being feted at Bastille Day celebrations Friday.
The president landed in Paris amid questions about emails showing that his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., welcomed the prospect of receiving Russian government support in last year’s presidential campaign between his father and Hillary Clinton.
Trump defended his namesake, saying that “most people would have taken that meeting,” a message that contradicted his incoming FBI director’s testimony that Donald Trump Jr. should have instead alerted authorities.
Trump called his son a “wonderful young man” and continued to downplay the issue, saying that “nothing happened” as a result of the meeting.
During his flight to Paris, Trump had praised his son as “a good boy” and a “good kid” and said that he’d listened to the Russian lawyer’s pitch “out of politeness.”
Trump also continued to cast doubt on the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies that Putin had meddled in the election to help him win, telling reporters that, “the next time I’m with Putin, I’m going to ask him: Who were you really for? Because I can’t believe that he would have been for me.” The conversation was originally described as off-the-record, but the White House decided to release portions Thursday.
Topics like resolving the years-long civil war in Syria and countering terrorism gave Trump and Macron areas to co-operate. The two said they also discussed the security situations in Ukraine and Libya.
Trump praised a ceasefire in southern Syria that he helped broker last week with Russia and Jordan and said the U.S. was working on a second ceasefire in a “rough part of Syria.”
Macron said he discussed with Trump a road map for the country that would help stabilize the situation after the war ends. He has argued for intervention in Syria, saying that President Bashar Assad is a threat to the war-ravaged country and Daesh, also known as ISIS, is a threat to France.
France has been plagued in recent years by extremist attacks and Trump noted that during last year’s Bastille Day celebrations, a 19-ton cargo truck deliberately plowed into crowds in Nice, killing more than 80 people.
While the U.S. has split with the major world powers on the environment, the two leaders tried to patch over those differences.
Trump has said the climate deal was unfair to the U.S. but said the country was committed to protecting the environment despite his recent withdrawal decision.
Macron, a staunch advocate of research to combat global warming, has beckoned “all responsible citizens,” including American scientists and researchers, to bring their fight against climate change to France.
Trump, Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other world leaders huddled last week in Hamburg, Germany during a summit of the world’s leading rich and developing nations. Merkel and Macron met again Thursday in Paris, before Macron’s meeting with Trump. Trump and Merkel were not expected to meet.
Merkel said during a joint appearance with Macron that it was important they keep talking with Trump even where the differences between them are clear.
“We did not paper over these differences, but nevertheless contact, the ability to speak is of course important,” she said.
Trump and Macron spent several hours together Thursday in some of Paris’ most opulent settings, with a visit to the golden-domed Invalides monument followed by meetings at the presidential palace. Trump also marked the 100th anniversary of America’s entry into World War I by visiting U.S. troops.
The visit, along with the celebration of French national pride on Bastille Day, was cast by the White House as a commemoration of the U.S.-French military alliance — both then and now.
The leaders and their wives capped Thursday with a lavish dinner at the Jules Verne restaurant in the Eiffel Tower.
All of which put Trump in the awkward position of being feted in a city he has repeatedly disparaged. When he announced his decision on the climate agreement, Trump said he was “elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.” And he has frequently said in the past that the city has been ruined by the threat of terrorism, which he ties to immigrants.
“Paris isn’t Paris any longer,” he said in February.
Asked about those comments, Trump called Paris “one of the great cities, one of the most beautiful cities in the world” and heaped praise on the recently-elected Macron, telling reporters, “You have a great leader now, you have a great president.”
“You’re going to have a very, very peaceful and beautiful Paris and I’m coming back,” Trump said, needling Macron, “You better do a good job please. Otherwise you’re going to make me look very bad.”
His dutiful host, Macron, responded, “You’re always welcome.”
A Canadian judge wasted precious few minutes on Thursday in refusing to freeze a reported $10.5-million payout to Omar Khadr so the widow of a slain American soldier he was accused of killing in Afghanistan can have more time to go after the money.
In his ruling, Ontario Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba said he had heard nothing to show Khadr planned to hide assets to thwart possible enforcement of a massive American court award against him.
“People might have a lot of opinions. But this is not a coffee shop. This is a court of law,” Belobaba said during the hearing. “We don’t, thank goodness, in Canada have one law for Omar Khadr and one law for all other Canadians.”
Tabitha Speer, widow of U.S. special forces soldier Sgt. Chris Speer, and a former American soldier Layne Morris blinded in one eye, wanted an injunction freezing Khadr’s assets pending their battle to have a Canadian court force him to pay the $134.1-million (U.S.) judgment from Utah.
Their Toronto-based lawyer David Winer found himself struggling to persuade Belobaba to hand down what the judge called an “extraordinary and very drastic remedy” and a “nuclear weapon.”
Grabbing someone’s property, the judge said, demands solid, credible evidence that the person planned to thwart creditors or flout court orders.
“We’ve got to deal with that,” he told Winer. “If you can’t clear this criterion, we’re done.”
Winer’s evidence, however, amounted to media reports on Khadr’s recent settlement of his lawsuit against Ottawa, announced last week, for breaching his rights during his 10 years as a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay. Sources said the deal with Khadr, 30, included a government payout of $10.5 million — money the Americans want to get their hands on.
In one article, the Globe and Mail cited an anonymous source as saying Khadr had already legally sheltered the money, court heard.
“Everything that he has reported on this matter has so far turned out to be correct,” Winer said of Globe reporter, Robert Fife.
“Newspapers get it right a heck of a lot of times; they have great people working for them,” Belobaba allowed. At the same time, he said it was difficult to rely legally on one anonymous source, a point Khadr’s Edmonton-based lawyer, Nate Whitling, pressed home during his brief submissions.
“There’s just nothing here for Mr. Khadr to respond to. There’s just a bare allegation that assets will be dissipated,” Whitling said. “The parties simply wish to deprive Mr. Khadr of the benefits of his property.”
At one point, Belobaba asked why Khadr would not “for goodwill” put the money aside pending trial on the Utah judgment.
Stacking $10 million against the $134-million judgment made little sense, Whitling replied.
“Mr. Khadr has plans for his property, like everybody else does. It’s his property. He’s got the right to do with it as his wishes,” Whitling said. “There’s no reason it should be tied up. It’s as simple as that.”
Belobaba also saw little merit in Winer’s second point: Khadr’s refusal to promise the money would be available to the Americans suggests something nefarious. If Khadr had no plan to hide his assets, Winer said, it would have “been so easy to say so.”
The judge said he recognized the American families had been “horribly devastated” by death and injuries but said he saw no evidence Khadr would be “jumping on a plane to Venezuela” or somehow putting his money beyond their reach. Ultimately, Belobaba needed just a few minutes to reject the injunction application.
“You have to be really careful when you go around freezing people’s assets before trial,” he said. “This is not a difficult decision in law.”
The two sides are now expected back in court in the fall — likely October — to begin working toward a trial on the Utah judgment.
Legal experts say it will be difficult to have a Canadian court enforce the Utah award given that it is based almost entirely on Khadr’s 2010 confession before a widely condemned U.S. military commission that he had, as a 15-year-old, killed Speer in Afghanistan in July 2002.
Khadr later said he pleaded guilty to five purported war crimes as the only way to get out of Guantanamo and return to Canada, which he did in 2012.
One of the country's biggest real estate companies is predicting an 18.5 per cent year-end price increase in the Toronto housing market this year, compared to a 13.8 per cent national year-over-year rise.
Given the significant gains of the first half of 2017, the company expects a year-end home price average of $862,264, up from $837,232 at the end of the second quarter.
Wednesday's quarter-point interest rate hike by the Bank of Canada doesn't alter Royal LePage's mid-year forecast.
Despite double-digit year-over-year increases in the second quarter, the company's mid-year report notes that buyers have been standoffish since the province introduced its fair housing tax on April 20.
CEO Phil Soper said he expects home prices will be soft for the balance of 2017.
"We are experiencing a housing correction in the GTA, no doubt about it," he said.
But that is different from the price correction that occurred in Vancouver when a similar tax was launched there last summer.
The 9 per cent of foreign buyer activity in Richmond Hill, compares to about 18 per cent in Richmond, B.C. The B.C. city is a smaller market and prices were about 50 per cent higher, he said.
"Almost half of the (Vancouver) market disappeared overnight," said Soper. "I believe what we'll see (in Toronto) is modest price increases but fewer homes being sold — not as a violent as the Vancouver correction where we saw 40 to 50 per cent of the transactions disappear."
The Royal LePage forecast is slightly more optimistic than the Toronto Real Estate Board's (TREB) revised expectation of a year-end 13- to 18-per-cent increase.
The report predicts that consumers, who have been waiting to see if sellers drop their prices substantially, will re-enter the market once they recognize that isn't going to happen.
Second quarter home prices rose 22.8 per cent year-over-year in the city of Toronto with Scarborough showing a 21.1 per cent increase as millennials moved east in search of affordability.
For that reason, that part of the city is not expected to slow as much as other areas in the coming months, said Royal Lepage.
Vaughan saw the highest price gains in Canada during the quarter with a 27.5 per cent year-over-year increase and an average $1.1 million home price.
Richmond Hill, which also grew by 26.6 per cent year-over-year to an average $1.34 million has been hard hit by the foreign buyers tax, notes the report.
Given that Toronto and Vancouver are both growing with strong economies, it’s not clear how long the foreign buyers tax and other measures will quell demand for housing, said Soper.
"Like public transit, housing policy is something which needs a persistent, long-term focus," he said.
Two-and-a-half kilometres. That’s the distance between the gallery in Toronto where artworks utilize fashion to tell the stories of the oppressed and the alley where a store turns to fashion to trample on their tragedies.
One is a series called WANTED at the Art Gallery of Ontario where two Toronto artists have used fashion photography to cast light on the hushed-up history of slavery in Canada. The other is a camouflage jacket, on sale at a men’s store named Uncle Otis in Yorkville, that was worn by Belgian soldiers in the aftermath of an especially brutal and bloody colonization of what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo during which they killed more than 10 million people.
From the WANTED series, you’ll see on a billboard splashed up at Yonge-Dundas Square, an image of Tracy Moore, the host of Cityline.
In the photo, though, she is unnamed. She is wearing red, carrying weights. “Black gown and red callimanco petticoat” say the words on the image, describing her clothing. Next to the photo, another board that says “Not for sale.”
The inspiration for that “ad” and about nine others displayed at the AGO came from advertisements in newspapers such as Upper Canada Gazette and Quebec Gazette in the 1700s posted by Canadian slave owners after the people they had enslaved had run away. In the ads were descriptions of what the enslaved people were last seen wearing.
That detail motivated artists Camille Turner and Camal Pirbhai to transform those fugitive slave ads into artworks that look like contemporary fashion ads.
“Black gown and red callimanco petticoat” was the description that appeared in a newspaper ad in August 1766. “Whoever apprehends said Negro Girl, and brings her back to said WERDEN, or to Mrs. Mary Wiggans, at Montreal, shall have ONE PISTOLE Reward, and all necessary Charges, paid by I. WERDEN,” it read.
“We are not honouring slaves,” Turner told me by email.” We are honouring people who thought of themselves as free and took action to liberate themselves.”
“We wanted to restore their humanity. We don’t have access to the words of enslaved people but through these ads we know their actions. They took matters into their own hands, stealthily running away despite the risks and consequences of recapture.”
“None of my Canadian schooling had taught me about this reality (of slavery in Canada),” Pirbhai said.
“I immediately related this to the obliviousness we seem to show towards the current day slave trade existing in the fashion industry. Fashion ads were the perfect conduit to parallel the injustices of the past and the issues of today.”
Issues of today at a micro level include instances like at Uncle Otis that sells the camouflage jacket under the U.K. based label Maharishi.
One problem is the appropriation of the word Maharishi for a line of surplus military clothing. In Sanskrit, maha means great, rishi means sage. What a great sage has to do with military jackets beats me.
“The camouflage pattern, especially in the context of defence-budget-subsidised clothing, offers itself as a perfect canvas for customised, anti-military statements of peace and freedom,” says the Maharishi website.
This leaves me none the wiser.
Still, fashion is ripe with appropriation of “exotic” words from other languages — and in this case is likely used to add an aura of mysticism.
What about the choice of jacket? How is it any different from Nazi-era military gear?
Nobody responded to my repeated email requests for comment on the choice of label and the jacket from Maharishi and Uncle Otis; a manager at the store refused comment when I went there. I tried for two weeks. That was ample time to respond or quietly take down an offensive jacket after they were informed what it stood for.
The jacket itself selling for a hefty $590 (slashed, almost half price! from the original $950) is described thus: “This beautiful pick is of the M65 Belgian Smock Jacket used in the Congo. Maharishi reclaims it with handpainted tigerstripe came, repaired wear-and-tear holes and replaced missing buttons.”
Belgian Congo was rich in rubber, ivory, gold and other minerals, and Belgium extracted billions of dollars of wealth on the backs of local labour, committing atrocities and a genocide that decimated half the population of the land.
A more apt description of what this jacket symbolizes, then, would be: “It has the smell of the blood of the Congolese still. All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little smock jacket, neither will attempts to cover it with tiger stripes or repair the wear-and-tear brought about by kidnapping, beating, starving, mutilating, torturing, and murdering Congolese people for Europe’s economic gain. Wear it — to our economic gain.”
This isn’t art, this isn’t fashion. This is continuing to profit from exploitation.
Art has purpose.
“For us, art is about provoking critical thinking and prompting conversations,” said Turner. “We feel it is our responsibility to speak to future generations about our history.”
Over to you, Maharishi.
Shree Paradkar tackles issues of race and gender. You can follow her @shreeparadkar
WASHINGTON—U.S. President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans have rejected his proposal to eliminate all federal funding for cleaning up the Great Lakes.
Trump’s request to slash the budget of the popular Great Lakes Restoration Initiative from $300 million (U.S.) to $0 had sparked an outcry from environmentalists and politicians on both sides of the border.
But Trump is simply being ignored by legislators, even those from his own party.
Congress, not the president, makes the real decisions about U.S. government spending. Republicans and Democrats on the powerful Republican-led House Appropriations Committee decided this week to set the 2018 budget for the restoration initiative at the previous level of $300 million.
A series of congressional votes are required before the budget is finalized, but advocates say the initiative appears safe.
Trump has been opposed by Republican politicians from the Great Lakes states crucial to his election victory, including Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan. A bipartisan group of 63 House members asked the committee to preserve the initiative, saying Trump’s proposal would “reverse years of progress” and “jeopardize the environmental and economic health of the region.”
More than 30 million people get their drinking water from the Great Lakes.
“I don’t think it matters if you’re Republican or Democrat or any other political party: you recognize this goes right to the kitchen table of every one of your voters,” said Mark Mattson, president of the Toronto-based advocacy group Lake Ontario Waterkeeper.
“When Donald Trump was elected president, he assumed that all environmental issues were luxuries or wrong-headed or international conspiracies against business . . . . But when the rubber hits the road, when you get down to the communities, these are bread and butter issues.”
Toronto Mayor John Tory was among the many political leaders to criticize Trump’s proposal.
“The early proposals were just devastating for all of us in the Great Lakes Basin. We have about 70 per cent Canadian membership and 30 per cent U.S. And I think the Canadians were as upset or even more upset than the U.S. side. They kind of viewed that as almost a betrayal of the friendship we have between our countries,” said David Ullrich, adviser and former executive director for the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, a coalition of mayors.
Some advocates said they were relieved but not thrilled that the committee settled on the previous level of funding. Mattson said the $300 million mostly pays for projects targeting the “worst areas on the American side.” Billions more, he said, are required for all the needed work.
Trump’s administration argued that “state and local groups are engaged and capable of taking on management of cleanup and restoration of these water bodies.” Those groups, however, said government funding is essential.
The initiative has funded more than 3,000 projects at a cost of more than $2 billion to date. The projects are aimed at cleaning up polluted areas, dealing with invasive species, reducing runoff and restoring habitat.
Trump’s proposal was part of a broad package of suggested cuts to environmental programs. The committee also softened many of the others. Committee Republicans settled on a reduction of $528 million (or 7 per cent) to the Environmental Protection Agency budget, substantially less than Trump’s suggestion of $2.6 billion (31 per cent).