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    The countdown to Major League Baseball’s trade deadline is on and with just a few hours remaining until the 4 p.m. ET cut off, the Blue Jays’ roster remains in tact.

    Toronto’s front office has said the club expects to be involved in at least some business by this evening and the rumour mill is swirling, especially when it comes to some of the Blue Jays’ pitchers.

    Lefty Francisco Liriano was reportedly Toronto’s first move of the day, headed to American League leader the Houston Astros to play a part in its bullpen.’s Astros’ beat reporter Brian McTaggart reported outfielder Nori Aoki and a prospect will are set to join the Blue Jays in return.

    Here are players being talked about as the window comes to a close:

    Joe Smith

    The right-handed reliever came in at No. 6 on’s list of the top 25 deadline day trade candidates. In his four outings since returning from more than a month on the disabled list, Smith has allowed only one run off two hits, good for a 2.25 ERA. The 33-year-old veteran is currently averaging 12.9 strikeouts per nine innings, a career-high, and his $3-million salary wouldn’t be hard to swallow.

    The most recent report concerning the reliever, from St. Louis Cardinals beat writer Derrick Goold at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, has Toronto watching the Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate the Memphis Redbirds. That could fit the Blue Jays’ desire to acquire young, controllable talent for its 2018 team and, with St. Louis in the market for a reliever, Smith could be the guy. While Smith has made it clear he hopes to finish out the season in Toronto, his free-agent status come season’s end won’t help his cause.

    Marco Estrada

    After starting this season as one of the most reliable parts of Toronto’s rotation, Estrada — who is set to start against the Chicago White Sox on Monday night — has slumped considerably since a May 27 win over the Texas Rangers. It was the last time the right-hander went six innings; at the time, he owned a 3.15 ERA. That number is now 5.43. Estrada put on an improved performance in his most recent outing on July 26, allowing just two runs over five frames, but he still lamented that not feeling like himself in the 3-2 Blue Jays win. With free agency looming, Estrada is a top candidate for Toronto to get off its book if interest remains.

    J.A. Happ

    The veteran left-hander — a 20-game winner in 2016 and midway through a three-year contract worth $36 million US — was reportedly drawing interest from the Milwaukee Brewers two weeks ago. At the time, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported the price would be sky-high, with Happ signed at a reasonable price for next season and few quality starters expected to hit the free-agent market this year. A move seemed unlikely then, with the Blue Jays believing Happ could be an important piece if the team wanted to contend in 2018. But things have changed slightly as the deadline looms, with Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reporting over the weekend that Toronto is now willing to listen to offers on the lefty starter. Still, the price will be high and it is not believed that the Blue Jays are shopping Happ hard.

    Jose Bautista

    The veteran slugger has the ability to veto any trade given he has 10-and-5 rights (10 years in the league and five with his current club). Still, a move might benefit Bautista, who could very well be a free agent come fall. His best chance to remain with the Blue Jays is a $17-million mutual option in 2018, which Toronto has given no indication whether or not it will pick up. Jerry Crasnick of and Joel Sherman of the New York Post have both reported the Blue Jays have received some feelers on Bautista, despite being in the midst of his worst season as a Blue Jays player, slashing .186/.292/.325 since June 1. He has been linked with the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox, though it’s unlikely he will be moved before the deadline, according to Baseball Prospectus Toronto.

    Steve Pearce

    It was quite the week for Toronto’s outfielder, who wrote his name into the Blue Jays history books with not one but two walk-off grand slams. Pearce has become the hitter Toronto hoped he would be since returning from a calf strain in mid-June, batting .313 with six home runs and 22 RBIs. But he has struggled in the outfield so far this season, left field becoming a particularly noticeable hole in Toronto’s lineup. The 34-year-old veteran doesn’t exactly fit the bill when it comes to the younger, controlled core the Blue Jays are going for in 2018, so if his recent offensive output intrigues buyers, Pearce could be an unexpected move.

    Read more: Pearce walk-off slam saves Blue Jays, stuns Angels

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    WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump has decided to remove Anthony Scaramucci from his position as communications director, three people close to the decision said Monday, relieving him just days after Scaramucci unloaded a crude verbal tirade against other senior members of the president’s senior staff.

    Scaramucci’s abrupt removal came just 10 days after the wealthy New York financier was brought on to the West Wing staff, a move that convulsed an already chaotic White House and led to the departures of Sean Spicer, the former press secretary, and Reince Priebus, the president’s first chief of staff.

    Read the latest news on U.S. President Donald Trump

    The decision to remove Scaramucci, who had boasted about reporting directly to the president not the chief of staff, John Kelly, came at Kelly’s request, the sources said. Kelly made clear to members of the White House staff at a meeting Monday morning that he is in charge.

    It was not clear whether Scaramucci will remain employed at the White House in another position or will leave altogether.

    Read more:

    Divorce report caps Anthony Scaramucci’s explosive week in the Trump White House

    Anthony Scaramucci calls Trump’s chief of staff a ‘paranoid schizophrenic,’ tosses foul insults at top strategist

    Meet Anthony Scaramucci, the fierce Trump loyalist who sparked Sean Spicer’s resignation

    Trump’s six-month stall sparks a White House shakeup

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    BERATZHAUSEN, GERMANY—The U.S. Army soldier took a deep breath before hitting the button that sent the email to more than 200 fellow troops.

    “All considered, I am, and have been, traversing what is essentially a personal matter, but is something I must address publicly,” the email stated. “I am transgender.”

    The April 13 email officially ended the secret that burned inside Capt. Jennifer Sims, who was known as Jonathan Sims. But the feeling of relief swiftly turned to unease last week after U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted that transgender people were no longer welcome in the U.S. military.

    Read more:

    Transgender people should not be allowed to serve ‘in any capacity’ in the U.S. military, Trump says

    Trump says ‘medical costs’ are the main reason to ban transgender troops. The military spends five times more on Viagra

    Transgender people can still serve, at least until Trump clarifies his tweets, U.S. military says

    “I read the tweets while I was at work and you know it was devastating because I still have work to do and here I am reading basically what sounds like the president of the United States — who is the commander in chief, he is the ultimate boss of the military — telling me and anybody else that is transgender that we are fired,” Sims said.

    Pentagon officials say the policy will remain unchanged without official White House guidance. But for Sims, the uncertainty has been upsetting.

    “So in the initial moments after the tweet, I saw myself forced into the state that I was in before I started transitioning — a state of depression, exhaustion and inability to enjoy things,” said Sims, 28, who spoke to The Associated Press on her own behalf and not on that of the Army.

    The reversal of the Obama administration policy that allows transgender people to serve openly and receive military medical coverage for transitioning from one gender to another also could affect her physically.

    Sims has been on hormone therapy by her military doctor since November. If she interrupts the treatment, her body will revert to being male.

    “It would be very difficult to have to go through that,” said Sims, who is based at Hohenfels, a U.S. Army garrison in the German state of Bavaria.

    Growing up in Minnesota and Florida, Sims, a high school football player, never felt comfortable being male. The son and grandson of military veterans quietly came to terms with identifying as a woman a year after joining the Army R.O.T.C., but outwardly kept it a secret “because I wanted to continue serving,” Sims said.

    Sims stopped socializing, feeling drained over worries about being masculine enough, and instead focused on work, serving in Afghanistan, Indonesia and Germany. Her sister, Natasha Sims, 24, said she saw “emptiness” in her eyes.

    After the Defence Department announced in 2015 that it was considering allowing transgender troops to serve openly, Sims told Natasha and their parents. When the policy became official in June 2016, Sims said she felt the meaning of the word freedom personally after spending years fighting for it for her country.

    “It was the best day of my life really,” Sims said.

    Sims made an appointment with the behavioural health office, was given a diagnosis of gender dysphoria and started hormone therapy in November.

    Five months later, she decided to tell fellow troops.

    She first told her two closest colleagues, Capt. Brandon Shorter and another infantry officer.

    They were at a loss for words.

    After Shorter got home, allowing it to sink in, he texted Sims about how that was brave.

    “Infantry officers are best described as brutish. So Capt. Sims pulled me and another brute aside face to face. That took a lot of courage and that’s the first thing that went through my mind, mixed in with surprise,” Shorter said.

    Sims then announced the “personal change” to more than 200 other troops.

    It was not an emotional email. The seasoned military officer wrote how a lifetime of discomfort had peaked three years ago. Sims meticulously explained gender dysphoria, announced she was Capt. Jennifer Sims, not Jonathan, and outlined the steps she would take to fully transition to a woman.

    “Officially in DEERS, my gender will remain male until my medical transition is complete, which means I will still comport to male standards and use male facilities,” she wrote, referring to the acronym for the Defence Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, a kind of HR database for U.S. military personnel.

    “While it is my preference for people to refer to me with female pronouns, if you are uncomfortable with this, there is no requirement to do so, I only respectfully request you refer to me by my proper name, Captain Sims,” the email stated.

    Sims assured her unit the change “if anything, will only make me more productive and capable, as I no longer have to live two personas.”

    Five soldiers sent emails back with words of encouragement. Most didn’t respond. For a few days, there were murmurs of “hey did you see the email?”

    The force had just undergone training explaining what was expected in regards to transgender soldiers.

    Sims is the first transgender person Shorter has known.

    The unit is basically full of “young men wanting to chew on nails and prove how tough they are and rightly so since they are infantry men,” Shorter said. There are only about eight women among the 500 soldiers in the battalion.

    He had a lot of questions “being naturally curious and wanting to be a good friend because we didn’t really have a personal relationship. He’s, excuse me, she’s — see I still slip up sometimes — a single captain, I’m married with two daughters. Our lives are different.”

    Shorter, 32, of Alanson, Michigan, describes himself as conservative. He said he struggles with his beliefs about what’s appropriate. An assistant operations officer for the battalion, Shorter is concerned about how Sims — whom he considers to be the best signal officer he’s seen in the Army — cannot deploy while undergoing medical procedures.

    But Shorter, speaking on his own behalf and not that of the Army, said he would be “incredibly disappointed” if Sims were kicked out.

    After Trump’s tweet, a few soldiers, including Shorter, asked Sims how she was doing. She didn’t know what to say.

    Her pills will run out in three months. Doctors recommend 12 months of hormone therapy before surgery. The cost of her surgery can run close to $50,000, which Sims was expecting the military would help cover.

    Army officials told her nothing will change without official guidance.

    “I had waited so long just to be able to tell the world this is who I am,” Sims said.

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    Though it seemed a good idea at the time, it’s clear now that the zoning regime that created countless “apartment neighbourhoods” around Toronto was deeply flawed.

    Based on misguided notions about how we would live in the future, residents of these highrise suburban communities have instead been trapped in a failed vision of modern life.

    But what planning takes, it can give back. The city’s recently implemented Tower Renewal Program, adopted after 10 years of effort, has changed zoning rules that rigidly forbade any use except residential. New regulations mean that the green space that surrounds these apartment buildings, which comprises as much as 90 per cent of a site, can now be used for small shops, daycare facilities, doctors’ offices, markets, gardens and the like.

    “The original zoning was very restrictive,” explains Lauralyn Johnston, project manager with the city’s Tower and Neighbourhood Revitalization Initiative. “They could have tennis courts, but not tennis clubs. Not even ATMs were allowed. There was an assumption that there would be lots of cars and that people would drive where they wanted to go, so services weren’t necessary.”

    The starting point was a desire to avoid the messiness of the city and make suburbia neat and tidy. Every human activity — living, working, playing, shopping, praying — had its own separate space, all connected by highways. That was the basis of the “tower in the park” model, replicated countless times in the older neighbourhoods of Etobicoke, Scarborough, North York and beyond. Johnston points to towers on St. Dennis Dr. in Flemingdon Park as ideally suited to the program.

    As she says, “Theories are nice, but people need things every day. They drive less than expected. They want to walk, to have access . . . We hope to bring a measure of equity to these neighbourhoods and give people the ability to do more.”

    The program lists 500 apartment sites that are eligible under the new regulations. Though only landlords can apply, city officials hope that residents will be enabled to make their needs known. Indeed, the worry is that the scheme could be manipulated simply as a money-making opportunity for building owners.

    “We don’t want KFCs and Tim Hortons,” Johnston makes clear. “This is not traditional commercial space. Size is limited. This is a small intervention; the new zoning can enable people to change the direction of their own neighbourhood. We see this as an opportunity for grassroots economic development. We hope that residents can now make proposals to owners. This is also about creating complete neighbourhoods and making neighbourhoods safer. We’re allowing these places to expand, grow and flourish.”

    It’s tempting to compare Tower Renewal to the Two Kings program that unleashed unprecedented development in the areas around King and Spadina and King and Parliament. Enacted by Barbara Hall, the last mayor of the former city of Toronto, the effect of the zoning changes has been profound. Two decades later, the city has issued more than $8 billion worth of building permits for those two districts. Essentially, the plan replaced land use controls with built-form controls. The city encouraged mixed use growth — residential, commercial, retail — but still had final word over the buildings it approved.

    Johnston is quick to note that tower renewal doesn’t have the “scale” of the Two Kings. The suburban neighbourhoods in question remain primarily residential. But, as she says, “we want to make sure these neighbourhoods have the same services as the rest of the city, the same opportunities to start small businesses, non-profit operations and things like market gardens that weren’t allowed.”

    “These are fairly stable neighbourhoods,” Johnston notes. “The average age of the towers is 47 years. The newest was built in 1985.” As dreary, even ghastly, as some of these towers may be, unlike recently built condos, they are extremely well constructed and contain many units large enough for families.

    City council approved the initiative in 2013, but the changes didn’t make it through the Ontario Municipal Board until last December. Complainants included local businesses concerned about the effect on their bottom line.

    Given that almost a million people live in the 2,000 such towers across the GTA, the need for change is huge. The program falls short of full mixed-use, which would require more than zoning updates, and the new regulations won’t affect many of these concrete slabs. But now highrise suburbs in the GTA have a brighter future, something the past, despite the best of intentions, made impossible.

    Christopher Hume’s column appears weekly. He can be reached at

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    It will be two years before Ontarians can learn how serial killer nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer was able to get away with murder for so long.

    Queen’s Park on Tuesday announced Justice Eileen Gillese will lead the independent public inquiry into the “policies, procedures and oversight of long-term care homes.”

    Gillese’s wide-ranging review will report back by July 31, 2019.

    Read more:

    Nursing home filed report on Elizabeth Wettlaufer’s violations after it fired her

    College of Nurses declined to investigate Elizabeth Wettlaufer after 2014 firing

    Serial killer Elizabeth Wettlaufer faces College of Nurses disciplinary hearing July 25

    Wettlaufer, 50, who pleaded guilty earlier this summer to murdering eight seniors in her care, is serving a life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years.

    The registered nurse fatally injected her victims, who ranged in age from 75 to 96, with insulin at three long-term-care facilities and a private seniors home between 2007 and 2014.

    Attorney General Yasir Naqvi said he is hopeful Gillese’s inquiry “will help provide answers to those affected and ensure something like this never happens again.”

    “What happened to the victims and their families in southwestern Ontario was a tragedy. Our parents and grandparents deserve to live in comfort with access to the best care possible, and we want to assure the public that Ontario’s 78,000 long-term-care residents are safe in their homes,” Naqvi said in a statement.

    “Justice Gillese’s recommendations will help ensure that loved ones in long-term-care homes continue to be safe and secure.”

    Naqvi said Gillese’s mandate includes reviewing the accountability measures in the province’s Long-Term Care Homes Act and making recommendations for improvements.

    Gillese, a Rhodes Scholar and former dean of Western University’s law school, has been a judge with the Ontario Court of Appeal since 2002.

    “I am honoured to have been chosen to head this very important inquiry dealing with matters that affect the lives of all those in long-term-care homes in Ontario,” she said.

    “My team and I will do our utmost to determine how these events could occur and to make recommendations so that the tragedies of the past are not repeated in the future.”

    But NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is worried that the scope of the Gillese inquiry is too limited.

    “We are concerned that … (it) fails to specify key issues that must be included in the inquiry’s mandate,” she said.

    These include the safety of residents and staff, the quality and standards of care, funding and staffing levels, regulation, enforcement, inspections, the impact of private for-profit homes, as well as past government inaction.

    “Ontarians expect this public inquiry to examine the circumstances of the Wettlaufer murders, but we cannot stop there,” said Horwath.

    “Seniors and their loved ones need a full investigation into the long-standing systemic problems that have thrown seniors’ care into crisis and caused hardship for families across the province.”

    Progressive Conservative MPP Bill Walker (Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound) demanded to know why “Ontarians are going to have to wait two years for the results” of the inquiry.

    “This is a questionable decision by the Wynne Liberals. Why will the results of the inquiry not be released until July 2019 — well after the June 2018 provincial election? Is this timing merely a political decision designed to avoid public scrutiny? If so, this is unacceptable,” he said.

    “We were disappointed it took as long as it did for the government to take action to dig deep into this mess. And a mess it is. Opposition, victims’ families and the community had to wait weeks for the government to call for a public inquiry.”

    The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario, however, said it was “pleased the province answered its call… to get to the bottom of the events surrounding Wettlaufer’s horrific actions and… address the systemic factors to prevent a similar tragedy from occurring.”

    “We now urge Justice Gillese to … make recommendations that will address the failings of our current system, including examining legislation and regulations, funding models and staffing and any other aspects required to create a safer environment for seniors living in nursing homes,” said the association’s CEO Doris Grinspun.

    Last week, the College of Nurses of Ontario finally revoked Wettlaufer’s nursing licence for professional misconduct.

    The college faced criticism for allowing her to continue to work even after being notified of serious issues dating back to 1995.

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    A man in his 20s has died after a shooting near Bathurst St. and St. Clair Ave. W. early Tuesday morning.

    Toronto police tweeted about a shooting at Claxton Blvd. and Raglan Ave. around 12:45 a.m.

    The man stumbled into a gas station after being shot and later died in hospital.

    He suffered from a gunshot wound to his torso, said Sandra McLeod of Toronto paramedics.

    No arrests have been made at this time.

    With files from The Canadian Press

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    A man has been charged with dangerous driving after a vehicle struck and killed a 73-year-old pedestrian in downtown Toronto.

    Police said the vehicle, a 2014 Honda Civic, was travelling south on Sherbourne St. around 7 a.m. Monday when it mounted the sidewalk just north of Dundas St. and hit the pedestrian, police said.

    The vehicle continued on, striking another man, 49, who sustained non-life-threatening injuries, before it finally came to a stop south of Dundas.

    The first pedestrian was pronounced dead at the scene and police arrested the driver of the vehicle immediately when they arrived.

    Jonathan Power, 25, of Toronto, has been charged with dangerous driving causing death, dangerous driving causing bodily harm and driving without a licence.

    Editor’s note: An earlier version of the story incorrectly identified the vehicle as a 2014 Honda CRX.

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    A man and a young boy were found dead in East York on Monday evening in an apparent murder-suicide

    Zlatan Cico, 58, and his six-year-old son Simon Cico were found without vital signs near Gamble Ave. and Broadview Ave. shortly after 7 p.m., Toronto police said.

    “There was (physical) trauma to the little boy,” Sgt. Allyson Douglas-Cook said.

    The boy’s mother was on the scene shortly after the call was placed.

    Douglas-Cook said the mother was “quite distraught.”

    Police said they are not looking for any suspects, but wish to speak to anyone who has background information that may give them some “clarity” to understand what happened.

    “Based on what we have, we know who the suspect is, he’s the male involved in it,” Douglas-Cook said. “However, there’s still questions that . . . remain unanswered at this point.”

    Pearse Vujcic, Cico’s neighbour, knew there must be some kind of disturbance Monday night when he noticed his dog running in circles on his balcony.

    “I heard yelling and screaming that I heard only in war and I knew somebody was dead,” he said.

    He left his apartment and saw a woman he recognized as Cico’s wife in distress, screaming “My son is inside, what will I do without my son?”

    The door to Cico’s apartment was open, and Vujcic entered only to find the man who had been his friend and neighbour for 11 years, dead with a note on his chest. Simon, his six-year-old son, was also dead. He knew instantly looking at the boy that it was too late to help them.

    “All my life I will blame myself that I didn’t notice that he was suicidal,” Vujcic said of Cico. “I miss him dearly.”

    Vujcic said that Cico’s son Simon lived full-time with his mother, and visited his father regularly.

    He described Simon as a “happy kid.” Just a couple of weeks ago, Cico had taken him to a documentary at the Bloor HotDocs cinema. Vujcic joked that the young kid probably wouldn’t like the documentary, but Simon said he had a good time.

    “My point is, until the last moment they had a good time together,” Vujcic said.

    Police are interested in speaking to friends, family or anyone who was in the area at the time of the incident.

    A post-mortem is being carried out Tuesday to find the cause of death.

    Police are asking anyone with information to contact 416-808-7400.

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    When Joyce Anna Scott died in May, she died a tenant of a home she’d spent half her life trying to buy back from the government. Now, her kids are making a last-ditch effort to keep the four-hectare farm they grew up on.

    Sitting in the house Monday, Joyce and John Scott’s daughters combed through a lifetime of photographs, paintings, statues and teacups.

    As of Sept. 1, everything has to be moved.

    Despite living there since 1958, the house hasn’t belonged to their parents for 44 years. It was expropriated by the provincial government in support of a simultaneous federal expropriation, for the Pickering Airport and North Pickering Community development projects.

    Though an airport was never built, the land is still owned by the government — so, the family explained, the government is taking it back unless daughters Laura Alderson and Melissa Preston can argue their case next week. Their sister Kate Collver was also at the house Monday lending a hand.

    The family hasn’t been told what will happen to the house after September.

    The sisters argue that the home’s land was transferred to the Ontario Land Corporation in October 1979 without what they say was a promise of an opportunity to repurchase it. It was then transferred again in 2004 to the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.

    A conservation authority spokesperson told the Star that nobody was available Monday to comment.

    “In an attempt to restore equity, fairness and finally make right the past, we would like to have our family home at 14 Pickering Town Line returned to us,” Alderson and Preston wrote to the conservation authority on July 4.

    A date was set for Aug. 11, when the sisters will plead their case to the authority’s executive committee.

    The first piece of evidence they’re pointing to is a pamphlet dropped in the 1970s from the Ontario government, which said if the government didn’t end up needing their home, “you will be offered the chance to recover ownership at the same price you were paid initially.”

    That second is a letter from Minister of Industry and Tourism Claude F. Bennett, saying that any homes that were compatible with their plans for redevelopment “which is scheduled for completion by the end of 1974,” would be available for repurchase by the owners at their original price.

    In March 1989, the Scotts wrote to the Ministry of Government Services and asked to buy their home back. No airport had been built, they argued.

    “Fully 16 years after their expropriation for a project that never happened, a reply was sent on April 6, 1989 from the ministry advising that while our parents had expressed interest in purchasing the property, they had not yet declared it surplus,” the sisters wrote in their letter this month to the conservation authority.

    “How is it possible that in June of 2017, fully 44 years after we entered into what we thought were honest, fair and equitable dealings with the provincial government, we are still waiting?,” the sisters asked.

    Joyce’s lawyer Stephen D’Agostino advised the siblings to send a letter to the authority pleading their case.

    “If land is expropriated for a purpose and that purpose is no longer being pursued by the authority, the authority is required, subject to some requirements of the expropriations act, to offer that land back,” D’Agostino said.

    But, while a final decision is on the horizon, there’s been no indication whether the Scott’s children will be successful. Either way, they say they had to make an attempt.

    “With the passing of my parents, we thought, you know what? It seems to us to be such an unfair thing,” Preston said. “If there’s any possibility, this was my parents’ legacy, right? And we thought, ‘well, why don’t we just try?’ ”

    Correction –August 1, 2017: This article was edited from a previous version that mistakenly said the land was expropriated by Ottawa. In fact, the land was expropriated by the Ontario provincial government in support of a simultaneous federal expropriation, for the Pickering Airport and North Pickering Community development projects.

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    WASHINGTON—U.S. President Donald Trump’s son-in-law told a group of congressional interns that the Trump campaign couldn’t have colluded with Russia because the team was too dysfunctional and disorganized to co-ordinate with a foreign government.

    The remarks on Monday by Jared Kushner, a senior adviser to the president, came in response to a question about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and whether the Trump campaign worked with Moscow. first reported Kushner’s remarks, which were intended to be off the record. “They thought we colluded, but we couldn’t even collude with our local offices,” Kushner said, according to the website.

    Read the latest news on U.S. President Donald Trump

    A Democratic congressional aide knowledgeable of the meeting confirmed the accuracy of the remarks and others that Kushner made. The aide spoke on condition of anonymity to freely describe the talk.

    Kushner also told the interns that the White House doesn’t know where Mueller’s inquiry is headed. He said he didn’t think he’d embark on a career in government and politics after Trump’s victorious White House bid so he didn’t carefully track his contacts with foreign officials, which is required information on a security clearance application.

    His meeting with the interns is part of a regular series in which guest speakers meet with them each year. The organizers of the event initially asked the interns to write down their questions and Kushner would randomly select them to answer. But the congressional aide said Kushner insisted on taking live questions and didn’t hesitate to answer them.

    Read more:

    Why the latest Donald Trump bombshell is a cry for help from the president’s own staff: Analysis

    Jared Kushner says he ‘did not collude’ with Russia after closed-door interview

    Russia orders cut in number of U.S. diplomats in reaction to sanctions

    Kushner met privately last week at the Capitol with members of the Senate and House intelligence committees. He acknowledged four meetings with Russians during and after Trump’s victorious White House bid and insisted that he had “nothing to hide.”

    Kushner said: “All of my actions were proper.”

    Hours before meeting privately with the committees, Kushner released an 11-page statement that detailed four contacts with Russians during Trump’s campaign and transition. He described each contact as either insignificant or routine and he said the meetings, along with several others, were omitted from his security clearance form because of an aide’s error.

    Kushner cast himself as a political novice learning in real time to juggle “thousands of meetings and interactions” in a fast-paced campaign.

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    OTTAWA—A Toronto lawyer who was recently appointed a Superior Court judge donated more than $1,800 to the governing federal Liberal party in the months before he was named to the bench, a string of giving that included the purchase of a ticket to fundraising dinner.

    Between March 2016 and March 2017, Andrew Sanfilippo gave $1,878.87 to the Liberal party. The founding partner at the downtown law firm O’Donnell, Robertson & Sanfilippo became a judge in late June and the government announced his appointment July 18.

    According to online records from Elections Canada that go back to 2006, Sanfilippo’s first political contribution was $478.87 on March 31, 2016. He acknowledged in a statement through a Superior Court spokesperson that this was for a Liberal fundraising dinner — the same price as tickets for a dinner with Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould that was hosted by the Torys LLP law firm on April 7, 2016.

    The fundraiser drew controversy at the time, with Conservative MPs decrying how the minister was soliciting partisan money from stakeholders in her portfolio. Ottawa’s ethics commissioner Mary Dawson highlighted the event in her 2016 annual report and determined that while it raised “questions about the appropriateness of the way the fundraisers were organized,” it did not break Parliament’s ethics rules.

    It is not unusual for judicial appointees to have made political donations, nor does it break any rules.

    In his statement through the court spokesperson, Sanfilippo stated that he did not actually attend the fundraising dinner, and that he bought the ticket after being solicited by a legal colleague.

    “He has never met, spoken to, or communicated with Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and believes that he has never attended any Liberal fundraising event,” the statement said.

    Sanfilippo went on to donate $299 to the party on Dec. 5, 2016 and then $701 on Dec. 30 — meaning he gave the party $1,478.87 in 2016. He also gave $400 in March of this year.

    Individuals cannot donate more than $1,550 to a political party each year, according to federal law.

    David Taylor, a spokesperson for Wilson-Raybould, said in an emailed statement that Sanfilippo was appointed on the recommendation of the government’s judicial advisory committee in the Greater Toronto Area, as well as after consulting the Chief Justices of Ontario and the Ontario Superior Court.

    “At no point during the judicial appointment process was Justice Sanfilippo’s political donation history considered,” Taylor wrote. “His merit was assessed based on the strength of his judicial application, the totality of his career and expertise.”

    Judges are technically appointed by the governor general, who acts on the advice of cabinet and the justice minister, according to the department’s website. The government overhauled its judicial appointment process last October, explaining at the time that they would make the regional committees that consider applications for appointments more diverse and independent.

    Using the Elections Canada online database of contributions, the Star found that 13 people with names and locations matching those of new judges appointed this year by Ottawa have donated money to political parties since 2006. Of these, two involved contributions to the Conservatives, and the rest were to the Liberal party.

    The government has appointed 58 judges this year.

    Richard Devlin, a professor of law at Dalhousie University and co-author of the recent book Regulating Judges, said that the government should consider a “cooling off period” so that people applying for political appointments would have to refrain from making partisan donations for a certain period before they can be selected.

    “You don’t want to say people can’t be politically active, but there is certainly the optics (problem) of large cash donations prior to one’s appointment,” he said.

    Rocco Galati, a Toronto lawyer who led the 2013 challenge that rejected one of Stephen Harper’s Supreme Court appointments, said he believes politics has been part of the judicial appointment process for years.

    He pointed to an example unearthed by the left-leaning Broadbent Institute in 2015 that raised concerns about judicial appointments by then-justice minister Peter MacKay for people with whom he had partisan or personal ties.

    “The whole system should be raising your eyebrows right to the back of your head,” Galati said.

    Malcolm Mercer, an adjunct professor who teaches judicial ethics at Osgoode Hall law school, said he doubts public confidence is affected by the few lawyers who make donations and are appointed as judges.

    “We should be encouraging participation in our democratic process rather than seeing political involvement as a bad thing,” he said. “It is more important to focus on appointing talented judges with diverse perspectives.”

    The Liberal party’s cash-for-access fundraising practices came under intense scrutiny last year, when opposition critics assailed the government for its practice of holding private events where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and members of his cabinet would meet donors who paid sometimes hundreds of dollars to attend.

    In April, the Liberal party started publicly announcing these events in advance and has also started posting guest lists online. Party spokesperson Braeden Caley said in an emailed statement that the other major parties in Ottawa haven’t followed suit.

    0 0

    If one follows the money and buys the buzz about party membership sales, Jagmeet Singh has the obvious inside track to the NDP leadership when voting begins next month.

    On one front, choosing a young, stylish Sikh would be the type of bold move many in the party feel is needed to compete on the same stage as a Liberal government led by Justin Trudeau, who appears at mid-term to have maintained his iron grip on the political centre.

    Singh certainly has the backing of what would be considered the party elite.

    They will tell you the former Ontario deputy NDP leader has the type of people skills that cannot be taught, that he has a gift of getting people to follow, something that often eludes politicians with more experience or gravitas.

    But many of those same party stalwarts will also confess to a bit of nervousness about Singh which indicates they see his ascension to the leadership as a gamble, and if these misgivings are not dislodged — or mount closer to voting — it will be clear this race is not yet decided.

    Singh has lapped the field when it comes to fundraising. He raised $356,784 from 1,681 individual contributions in the quarter ending June 30. He did not officially enter the race until mid-May.

    Northern Ontario MP Charlie Angus raised $123,577 from 1,285 individual contributors after leading the first quarter. Manitoba MP Niki Ashton raised $70,156 from 1,006 contributors, although she is surging and said she raised $100,000 in July. Quebec MP Guy Caron brought in $46,970.

    Singh also leads in party endorsements, by at least one measuring stick, and is expected to bring in the most new members when those sales cut off Aug. 17.

    So with the candidates debating in Victoria Wednesday and Singh leading on all measurable metrics, this game is essentially over, right?

    Well, those same members of the party establishment bring asterisks with their support and know the grassroots of the party have not yet fallen in love with the candidate from Brampton.

    There are those who wonder whether it is really wise for the party to try to “out-Trudeau” Trudeau.

    Those backing Angus dismiss the style argument and point to the appeal to youth of social democrats such as Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn.

    They will tell you that Singh’s inexperience on the federal level has shown in debates and he may be finding the jump from provincial politics to the bigger federal stage more difficult than he thought.

    He is vulnerable on a policy proposal that would scrap Old Age Security and roll it into a means-tested seniors benefit, breaking party policy on universality.

    There are concerns about Singh’s “authenticity,’’ and the hope he would show party members and ultimately Canadian voters a little bit more about himself and a little less about how he markets himself.

    And, as he looks more like the prohibitive favourite, there are pragmatic questions.

    As he mobilizes Sikh supporters, some New Democrats are openly wondering whether those who will mark a box to support Singh in the leadership will stay with the party. Is Singh himself a tourist in the federal party, ready to head back to the provincial wars if he loses?

    And, they wonder, should he win, where he would run? There is no such thing as a safe NDP seat left in this country, and many rue the early days of Jack Layton’s reign when a leader without a seat could not break through with voters by perpetually standing in front of a mike in the Commons foyer.

    For the NDP, this 2017 race is shaping up as a battle between the party establishment and the grassroots.

    Ashton has run an unabashedly leftist activist campaign, giving a voice to those who feel on the outs with the party establishment. Her apparent strength spooks some party members who feel she may be kicking aside party planks for political gain.

    Angus, who has had to take time away from the campaign to deal with a family matter, is trying to emerge as the consensus candidate with deep support in the party base.

    Caron is respected for his economic bona fides even if he lacks the curb appeal of the other candidates.

    The NDP establishment has a spotty leadership record (see Audrey McLaughlin, Alexa McDonough, Brian Topp). The grassroots understandably regard it warily.

    But this, too, should be kept in mind.

    Questions about Singh’s style, depth and debating skills sound suspiciously like the questions being asked about Trudeau four years ago.

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

    0 0

    A shooting in a Queen St. E. bar Monday night that left one man dead and four others injured could have been even more serious, Toronto police say, because the gunman was “not in control of his firearm” and the other victims were hit by stray bullets ricocheting.

    The shooting took place on the patio of the Libertarian Public House, at the corner of Queen and Sherbourne St., just before 11:20 p.m.

    The two tables the five victims were sitting at were in close proximity, but police said the shooter had just one target.

    “Knowing the location of some of the wounds, I would say we’re very lucky we don’t have three murder victims here,” Det. Sgt. Hank Idsinga said. “Innocent people shouldn’t be getting struck by bullets when they’re simply out having a drink at a local bar.”

    Two videos released Tuesday by police show a man wearing a hoodie and a mask over his lower face walking into the bar with his hands in his pockets and continuing to the patio, where he opens fire.

    The hoodie appears white in the video, but is actually black, police said, with what they believe is a “Hollister” logo.

    Idsinga said there were at least five to seven shots fired, and that the suspect began shooting as soon as he entered the patio area, focusing his attack on a 32-year-old Toronto man who later died in hospital.

    Idsinga said the bar’s security footage shows that the suspect fired in “very close” proximity.

    “He’s probably 10 feet away from the target when he begins shooting, but he ends up standing right over him and continues to fire,” he said.

    Despite the suspect’s attempts to cover his face, Idsinga said that “ultimately, we should be able to identify him.”

    The suspect was last seen heading east on Queen. Idsinga said police “have witnesses who indicate he got into a vehicle on Queen St.”

    There was no description of the vehicle.

    All of the victims were Toronto men in their 20s and 30s, police said.

    Idsinga said police would not be releasing the name of the dead man at his family’s request.

    One man is still in hospital in serious, but stable condition.

    There was “a bit of a mish mash getting to the hospital,” Idsinga said, with some of the victims taken in an ambulance from the scene, and some picked up on the street by ambulance after attempting to walk to the hospital.

    One man “definitely did walk in by himself,” which made it initially difficult for police to figure out the number of victims connected to the shooting.

    Police said they searched nearby garbages for a discarded weapon, but have had no luck as of yet.

    Until about noon Tuesday, police tape surrounded the bar.

    Across the street at Alfie’s Bar and Grill, patrons discussed the shooting, some alleging that they saw the shooter in the area often, and that he was a drug dealer.

    Police told the Star at the scene that the shooting was related to “street gang” activity.

    “We’ve got some links to some street gangs, but as far as any drug trafficking, I don’t have any information to assist that,” Idsinga said. “I believe the target was known to the assailant.”

    Alfie’s was the scene of their own shooting earlier this year, when a 16-year-old was shot in the neck on Jan. 13.

    Police ask anyone with information about the shooting to contact 51 Division or Crime Stoppers.

    With files from Jaren Kerr

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    VANCOUVER—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he “regrets” comments he made about Sen. Patrick Brazeau in a recent interview with Rolling Stone magazine.

    Indigenous advocates denounced Trudeau’s comments in the U.S. magazine’s August issue where he referred to Brazeau as “the scrappy tough-guy senator from an Indigenous community.”

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    Trudeau’s comments referred to his victory in a 2012 charity boxing match against Brazeau, who is from the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation in Quebec.

    In an interview with CBC Radio One in Vancouver, Trudeau now says he regrets his choice of language in describing Brazeau.

    He says the way he characterized Brazeau “doesn’t contribute to the positive spirit of reconciliation.”

    Trudeau says he and his government have been working with Indigenous leaders and communities and he recognizes there are “a lot of patterns to change.”

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    The CBC revealed Tuesday the four journalists who will serve as Peter Mansbridge’s replacements: public-broadcasting veterans Adrienne Arsenault, Rosemary Barton, Ian Hanomansing and Andrew Chang.

    After the announcement last year that the long-standing anchor of The National was stepping down, the flagship news program is said to be retooling, with plans to be more digital and modern in its coverage. The four journalists were on hand in Toronto for Tuesday’s news, with Arsenault and Barton suggesting they intend to continue reporting, along with their new duties.

    Mansbridge announced that he would be stepping down from his role as chief correspondent and anchoring duties in September 2016, after 30 years in the role, after replacing Knowlton Nash in 1988. He has been the broadcaster for almost 50 years, including other roles.

    During the recent Canada 150 celebrations, Mansbridge was feted by many including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as hosted the Canada Day coverage on Parliament Hill. Mansbridge is planning to stay on with the CBC in another role.

    The Star reported in June that The National has an average nightly audience of 525,000 viewers this season on so-called linear television. By comparison, CTV National News with Lisa LaFlamme, the top-rated newscast in the country, pulls in an average of 1 million viewers. (The numbers, provided by both networks, do not include repeats or showings on CBC News Network and CTV News Channel, respectively.)

    With files from Star staff

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    WASHINGTON—U.S. President Donald Trump hates leaks. He hired Anthony Scaramucci 10 days ago to very publicly root them out, and he has even attacked his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, for not investigating them aggressively enough.

    But oftentimes with Trump, a leak isn’t just a leak; it’s an effort to save him from himself.

    Such is the case with the latest big scoop out of Washington Monday night that Trump personally dictated the highly misleading initial statement about Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer in June 2016. Anonymous White House advisers told the Washington Post they had settled on a plan to be transparent about the meeting, only to have the president come in at the 11th hour and decide to try and withhold the whole truth. The result, at Trump’s personal direction, was a statement that claimed the meeting was about adoption, when in fact the stated purpose of it was opposition research — supposedly from the Russian government — about Hillary Clinton.

    Check out this detailed blow-by-blow from The Post about how the Trump team responded to the New York Times learning about the meeting:

    “(White House director of strategic communications Hope) Hicks also spoke by phone with Trump Jr. Again, say people familiar with the conversations, (Jared) Kushner’s team concluded that the best strategy would be to err on the side of transparency, because they believed the complete story would eventually emerge.

    “The discussions among the president’s advisers consumed much of the day, and they continued as they prepared to board Air Force One that evening for the flight home.

    “But before everyone boarded the plane, Trump had overruled the consensus, according to people with knowledge of the events.

    “It remains unclear exactly how much the president knew at the time of the flight about Trump Jr.’s meeting.

    “The president directed that Trump Jr.’s statement to the Times describe the meeting as unimportant. He wanted the statement to say that the meeting had been initiated by the Russian lawyer and primarily was about her pet issue — the adoption of Russian children.”

    And now look at these comments from anonymous advisers:

    “‘This was ... unnecessary,’ said one of the president’s advisers, who like most other people interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal deliberations. ‘Now someone can claim he’s the one who attempted to mislead. Somebody can argue the president is saying he doesn’t want you to say the whole truth.’”

    And here:

    “Trump, advisers say, is increasingly acting as his own lawyer, strategist and publicist, often disregarding the recommendations of the professionals he has hired.

    “‘He refuses to sit still,’ the presidential adviser said. ‘He doesn’t think he’s in any legal jeopardy, so he really views this as a political problem he is going to solve by himself.’”

    And this:

    “Because Trump believes he is innocent, some advisers explained, he therefore does not think he is at any legal risk for a coverup. In his mind, they said, there is nothing to conceal.”

    The White House’s first six months, of course, have been littered with internal leaks. Many of them are owed to the warring factions within the West Wing and dissension in the broader administration. But every so often you see this kind of leak: the send-a-message-to-the-boss leak — the spreading of unhelpful information about the president because advisers see no other way to make it stop.

    And even in that line of reporting, this is a pretty remarkable cry for help. In this story, they’re admitting that he is personally responsible for deliberately misleading the American people about a major topic of the Russia investigation. They’re saying that he did something that could very well be construed as a coverup and could damage his legal defence. The reason? Because they apparently can’t prevail upon him in person and they think he simply doesn’t get what kind of jeopardy he is putting himself in.

    Part of it may simply be exasperation, as well. When you, as a White House staffer, continue to have to put up with the boss’s unpredictable whims and furthering of unhelpful story lines (i.e. Russia was on my mind when I fired FBI Director James Comey), it’s liable to lead to this kind of leaking.

    Trump will surely view this as an effort by the deep state and-or the media to undermine him. He’d be better off understanding it for what it is: a desperate effort to help him help himself. After all, in this case, the advisers were right. The truth all came out in rather short order, and Trump only made it worse.

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    BUFFALO, N.Y.—The Buffalo Sabres have hired former Maple Leafs defenceman Mike Komisarek as a player development coach.

    Komisarek becomes the latest addition to first-time head coach Phil Housley’s staff.

    The 35-year-old from West Islip, N.Y., spent parts of four seasons with the Maple Leafs after signing a five-year, $22.5-million contract as a free agent in 2009. The stay-at-home defenceman languished through injuries and benchings over his three-plus years in Toronto and was bought out in 2013.

    Komisarek also played for Montreal and Carolina in his 11-year NHL career and finished with 14 goals and 67 assists for 81 points in 551 career games.

    Komisarek also has ties to new Sabres general manager Jason Botterill. Though they were never teammates, both played college hockey at Michigan.

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    Toronto police have identified the victim in a fatal shooting early Tuesday morning near Bathurst St. and St. Clair Ave. W.

    Adrian Milligan, 23, from Toronto, was taken to hospital where he died after being shot at Claxton Blvd. and Raglan Ave. before 1 a.m.

    Prior to the shooting, Milligan was in an argument with two men, Toronto police said. After Milligan was shot, the two men were seen running north on Raglan with a handgun.

    Milligan headed to a nearby gas station with his injuries.

    One suspect is described by police as Black, around 5-foot-6, and wearing a blue hoodie and shorts. The other suspect is described as Black, around 5-foot-8, and wearing a gray sweater and shorts.

    Victim identified in Tuesday morning fatal shootingVictim identified in Tuesday morning fatal shooting

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    Toronto paramedics suspect that two teens whose bodies were found in an Etobicoke condominium died of a drug overdose.

    Police were called at about 10 p.m. Tuesday by a relative of the victims, both in their late teens, who were found in a 15th-floor condo unit on Eva Rd., near Highway 427 and Bloor St. W., Const. Allyson Douglas-Cook said.

    The teens were without vital signs when paramedics arrived. They were pronounced dead at the scene.

    Toronto paramedics deputy commander Susan McConnell said the deaths were caused by a suspected overdose.

    Residents of the 20-plus storey building were disturbed by the news.

    “I’m from Vancouver so I’m used to, unfortunately, a lot of overdoses that happen,” said Madison Opp, who lives in the building. “I know there’s a lot of things going around right now and hopefully they figure out what it is.”

    Post-mortems were being carried out Wednesday. No foul play is suspected and there was no obvious sign of trauma, Douglas-Cook said.

    Speaking to reporters Wednesday morning at an unrelated news conference, Mayor John Tory called the deaths “unimaginable tragedies.”

    There were four deaths and 20 overdoses in the city over the weekend, likely caused by fentanyl use.

    “These are young people in many cases, who are somebody’s son and daughters, they’re at the beginning of their life and to have them lose their lives, because of preventable activity, is something that is very disturbing to me as the mayor,” Tory said.

    Tory said the city started to try to “get ahead of it” a number of months ago by supporting a harm-reduction strategy, which includes opening three supervised injection sites — though it’s taken some time to secure the regulatory approval — and increasing naloxone kit distribution.

    He plans to meet Thursday with the chief medical officer of health, the police chief or a representative, and both public and provincial health ministry officials to discuss if there is “more we could be doing to stop these deaths from happening.”

    “What we have to do is try and have programs to help them get off drugs and have education to stop people from using drugs but we also have to prevent deaths from happening,” Tory said.

    With files from Emily Fearon and Bryann Aguilar

    0 0

    NEW YORK—Faced with a firm denial from the Boy Scouts, the White House on Wednesday corrected President Donald Trump’s claim in an interview that the head of the youth group called him to heap praise on a politically aggressive speech Trump delivered at the Scouts’ national jamboree.

    After the Boy Scouts issued a statement saying no such call happened, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed their take but said “multiple members of the Boy Scout leadership” approached Trump in person after the speech and “offered quite powerful compliments.”

    Trump told The Wall Street Journal in an interview published Wednesday, “I got a call from the head of the Boy Scouts saying it was the greatest speech that was ever made to them.”

    Read the latest news on U.S. President Donald Trump

    “We are unaware of any such call,” the Boy Scouts responded in a statement. It specified that neither Boy Scout President Randall Stephenson nor Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh placed such a call.

    Sanders explained the discrepancy Wednesday by saying Trump misspoke when he described the conversations as calls.

    “The conversations took place,” she added. “They just simply didn’t take place over a phone call.”

    There was no immediate word from the Boy Scouts as to whether Surbaugh was among those congratulating Trump in person. Stephenson did not attend the speech.

    The White House also had to back off another Trump claim made Monday about an alleged phone call from Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, who Trump claimed called him to praise his immigration policies.

    Sanders said the topic did come up, but in a conversation between the two leaders at a recent summit in Germany.

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    Email exchanges with the Boy Scouts of America head office made clear that fallout from the speech, and the president’s latest claim, placed the BSA in an awkward position — seeking to show its longstanding respect for the office of the presidency and avoid a confrontation with Trump while making clear that its top leaders had not called him to praise the speech.

    Other U.S. presidents have delivered nonpolitical speeches at past jamborees. To the dismay of many parents and former scouts, Trump promoted his political agenda and derided his rivals, inducing some of the scouts in attendance to boo at the mention of former President Barack Obama.

    The Scouts noted that Surbaugh had apologized last week to members of the scouting community who were offended by the political rhetoric in Trump’s July 24 speech in West Virginia.

    “I want to extend my sincere apologies to those in our Scouting family who were offended by the political rhetoric that was inserted into the jamboree,” Surbaugh said. “That was never our intent.”

    Surbaugh noted that every sitting president since 1937 has been invited to visit the jamboree.

    Stephenson told The Associated Press two days after the speech that Boy Scout leaders anticipated Trump would spark controversy with politically tinged remarks, yet felt obliged to invite him out of respect for his office.

    Hoping to minimize friction, the Boy Scouts issued guidelines to adult staff members for how the audience should react to the speech. Any type of political chanting was specifically discouraged.

    Stephenson, who didn’t attend Trump’s speech, said the guidance wasn’t followed impeccably.


    Trump says Boy Scouts head called to praise his speech, but group ‘unaware’ of ‘such call’Trump says Boy Scouts head called to praise his speech, but group ‘unaware’ of ‘such call’

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