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Articles on this Page
- 09/15/17--09:52: _CREA expects Canadi...
- 09/16/17--05:42: _Wisconsin jury find...
- 09/16/17--10:44: _‘Blood flowed in th...
- 09/15/17--18:34: _Stouffville mayor a...
- 09/16/17--06:19: _One dead, one injur...
- 09/16/17--08:24: _St. Louis braces fo...
- 09/16/17--06:57: _Defiant Kim Jong Un...
- 09/15/17--15:19: _Why Jagmeet Singh t...
- 09/16/17--03:30: _Netflix got you a t...
- 09/16/17--10:11: _White nationalist l...
- 09/16/17--03:00: _Jack Layton led the...
- 09/16/17--03:00: _Life in Antigonish ...
- 09/16/17--05:10: _U.K. police search ...
- 09/16/17--03:00: _What is the Kirby G...
- 09/16/17--13:41: _Wab Kinew elected N...
- 09/15/17--15:09: _Ultimate Leafs fan ...
- 09/16/17--15:20: _Rohingya crisis ‘lo...
- 09/16/17--16:34: _U.S. may not comple...
- 09/16/17--13:06: _Bullet-riddled pain...
- 09/16/17--16:00: _North Korea’s weapo...
- 09/15/17--09:52: CREA expects Canadian home sales to drop to three-year low
- 09/16/17--06:19: One dead, one injured in east end shooting Saturday
- 09/15/17--15:19: Why Jagmeet Singh towers over his NDP rivals: Cohn
- 09/16/17--03:30: Netflix got you a terrible song for your birthday: Menon
- 09/16/17--03:00: Life in Antigonish is like a box of chocolates for Syrian family
- 09/16/17--05:10: U.K. police search home in London suburb after subway blast
- 09/16/17--03:00: What is the Kirby GO station and why did it get approved?
- 09/16/17--13:41: Wab Kinew elected NDP leader in Manitoba
- 09/15/17--15:09: Ultimate Leafs fan sells most of collection to Ottawa museum
- 09/16/17--13:06: Bullet-riddled painting of Justin Bieber missing after TIFF debut
- 09/16/17--16:00: North Korea’s weapons testing stirs worries in Japan
MONTREAL—Canadian home sales are expected to drop to their lowest level in three years in 2018, driven largely by a decline in Ontario, the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) said Friday.
The association expects that 495,100 homes will be sold next year after downgrading its sales forecast for 2017 on a 9.9-per-cent drop in August compared with a year ago.
It expects sales will fall 2.3 per cent in 2018 following a 5.3-per-cent decline this year to 506,000, or 20,000 fewer than previously forecast in June.
Seasonally adjusted sales in August rose 1.3 per cent from the prior month, due to a 14.3-per-cent boost in the Greater Toronto Area. Still, sales in this area were down 35 per cent from a year ago.
Benjamin Reitzes of BMO Capital Markets said the August data suggests the worst may have passed for the GTA following Ontario policy changes to restrict foreign buyers, but the future is unclear.
“The Bank of Canada’s rate hikes should help contain any renewed exuberance, but if things do heat up again, expect policy-makers to step in before too long,” he wrote in a report.
CREA projects sales in British Columbia and Ontario will fall by about 10 per cent in 2017, compared to record highs set in 2016.
The association said sales in August were down in nearly two-thirds of all local markets, led by the Greater Toronto Area and nearby housing markets.
In Vancouver, August sales were up 7.3 per cent from July and 21.3 per cent higher than a year ago.
“Experience shows that homebuyers watch mortgage rates carefully and that recent interest rate increases will prompt some to make an offer before rates move higher, while moving others to the sidelines,” stated CREA President Andrew Peck.
The average price for a home sold last month was $472,247, up 3.6 per cent compared to a year ago. Greater Toronto was up 3.1 per cent and Greater Vancouver 17.9 per cent.
Excluding these regions, the national average price was $373,859.
The national average price is forecast to rise by 3.4 per cent to $507,700 in 2017, lower than its prior forecast because of fewer luxury home sales in the Greater Golden Horseshoe region of Ontario.
However, it is expected to dip by 0.6 per to $503,500 next year largely reflecting that a record number of high-end home sales around Toronto earlier this year likely won’t be repeated in 2018.
Newfoundland and Labrador sales this year are forecast to decrease by 8.1 per cent and Saskatchewan 4 per cent.
Alberta is projected to have the country’s largest increase at 7.4 per cent, but that’s still below the provincial 10-year average.
Sales are forecast to grow 5.4 per cent in Quebec and 5.7 per cent in New Brunswick.
Manitoba and Quebec are the only two provinces expected to set new annual sales records in 2017, while sales in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island are on track to come up just short of all-time record levels.
WAUKESHA, WIS.—A Wisconsin girl who admitted to participating in the stabbing of a classmate to please horror character Slender Man will avoid prison after a jury determined that she was mentally ill at the time of the attack.
Anissa Weier trembled as the jury’s verdict late Friday was read after a week of testimony and some 11 hours of deliberations. She wasn’t available afterward, but her attorney said Weier was relieved and cried following the verdict.
“I’m very thankful to the jurors for taking the time to look at what was really going on with her,” Maura McMahon said, her own eyes wet from crying.
Weier and Morgan Geyser lured classmate Payton Leutner into the woods at a park in Waukesha, a Milwaukee suburb, in 2014. Geyser stabbed Leutner 19 times while Weier urged her on, according to investigators. A passing bicyclist found Leutner, who barely survived her wounds. All three girls were 12 at the time.
Both Weier and Geyser told detectives they felt they had to kill Leutner to become Slender Man’s “proxies,” or servants, and protect their families from the demon’s wrath.
Weier, now 15, pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree intentional homicide in a deal with prosecutors in August. But she claimed she was mentally ill during the attack and not responsible for her actions, in a bid to be sent to a mental institution rather than prison. A plea agreement called for her to spend at least three years in a mental hospital if judged mentally ill, and 10 years in prison if not.
McMahon said she hopes the case reveals that children may be dealing with mental health issues lost on adults who have become too busy with their own lives to pay attention and resources abound to help them.
“Life is better for children when adults around them are in communication with each other,” she said.
Deputy district attorney Ted Szczupakiewicz declined comment. Leutner’s family left the courtroom in silence; a victim witness co-ordinator told reporters the family had no comment.
Judge Michael Bohren ordered a pre-commitment investigation report on Weier and said he would hold a hearing to decide how long to commit her after the report is completed. He could sentence her more severely than the plea agreement calls for, including up to a 25-year commitment, the same as the maximum prison time she could have received.
The jury’s verdict came after some 11 hours of deliberations, and about an hour after it had appeared to reach a verdict in Weier’s favour only to see it rejected by Bohren.
Though that first verdict wasn’t read in court, defence attorney McMahon said 10 of 12 jurors — the minimum required by law — voted Weier was mentally ill. On a second question that jurors had to decide — whether she was criminally responsible for her actions — 10 jurors also voted she was not.
But it wasn’t the same 10 on both questions, according to McMahon. Bohren ordered the jury to resume deliberations.
In closing arguments, McMahon told the jury that Weier was lonely, depressed and descended into “madness” that warranted a mental hospital rather than prison.
McMahon said Weier’s unhappiness stemmed from her parents’ divorce, and she latched onto Geyser.
Together they became obsessed with Slender Man, developing a condition called shared delusional disorder, McMahon said. Weier believed Slender Man could read her mind as well as teleport and would kill her or her family if she talked about him, she said.
Slender Man, a fictional creature of the internet, is a paranormal being who lurks near forests and absorbs, kills or carries off his victims. In some accounts, he targets children. Some renderings show him as a long-limbed, lean man in a black suit, with no face; others with tentacles protruding from his back.
“This sounds crazy, because it is,” McMahon said. “This was a real being to this child and she needed to protect those around her. At 12 years old, she had no way to protect herself from (Slender Man) except for Morgan’s advice and they swirled down into madness together.”
Szczupakiewicz, the prosecutor, countered during his closings that the stabbing was calculated. He said the girls had planned the attack for at least four months. He asked jurors to consider why if the girls were so afraid of Slender Man they waited so long to attack Leutner.
He also pointed out that Weier told a detective she wasn’t frightened of Slender Man until after the attack, when Geyser told her she had made a deal with the monster that he would spare their families if they killed Leutner.
“It comes down to did she have to or did she want to?” Szczupakiewicz said. “It wasn’t kill or be killed. It was a choice and she needs to be held criminally responsible.”
Weier, bespectacled and dressed in a long grey-and-white cardigan, visibly trembled in her seat during the closings.
Wisconsin law requires only 10 of 12 jurors to render a verdict on whether a criminal defendant wasn’t responsible for her actions due to a mental condition.
Geyser has pleaded not guilty to one count of attempted first-degree intentional homicide by reason of mental disease or defect. Her trial is set to begin Oct. 9.
UKHIA, BANGLADESH—The soldiers arrived in the Burma village just after 8 a.m., the villagers said, ready to fight a war.
They fired shots in the air, and then, the villagers claim, turned their guns on fleeing residents, who fell dead and wounded in the monsoon-green rice paddy. The military’s retribution for a Rohingya militant attack on police posts earlier that day had begun.
Mohammed Roshid, a rice farmer, heard the gunfire and fled with his wife and children, but his 80-year-old father, who walks with a stick, wasn’t as nimble. Roshid said he saw a soldier grab Yusuf Ali and slit his throat with such ferocity the old man was nearly decapitated.
“I wanted to go back and save him, but some relatives stopped me because there was so many military,” Roshid, 55, said. “It’s the saddest thing in my life that I could not do anything for my father.”
The Burmese military’s “clearance operation” in the Maung Nu hamlet and dozens of other villages populated by the country’s ethnic Rohingya minority triggered an exodus of an estimated 389,000 refugees into Bangladesh, an episode the United Nations human rights chief has called “ethnic cleansing.” The tide of refugees is expected to grow in the coming days. The newly arrived refugees — dazed, clutching their belongings, some barefoot in ankle-deep mud — have crowded out an existing camp and put up makeshift shelters. Others simply sit on the roadways, fighting crowds as large relief trucks fling down bags of rice or water.
Rights groups say it will take months or years to fully chronicle the devastation they are leaving behind in the nation also known as Myanmar. Satellite photos show widespread burning, witnesses recount soldiers killing civilians, and the government itself said 176 Rohingya villages stand empty. No total death toll is yet available because the area remains sealed by the military.
Nearly a dozen villagers from the Maung Nu hamlet who escaped recounted their last hours in their homes and the long journey that followed. They were interviewed for two days in Kutupalong refugee camp near the Bangladesh border, where they arrived last week. Fortify Rights, a Southeast Asia-focused human rights organization, estimates the death toll in Maung Nu and three nearby villages to be 150.
“I can’t count how many,” said Soe Win, a 10th-grade teacher. “We were all watching what the military did. They slaughtered them one by one. And the blood flowed in the streets.”
The latest wave of violence began Aug. 25, when an emerging group of Rohingya militants, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, attacked dozens of police outposts across Rakhine state, killing 12. The subsequent military crackdown has prompted hundreds of thousands of refugees to leave Buddhist-majority Burma, until recently ruled by a military junta where Rohingya have long faced denial of citizenship and other rights.
The International Rescue Committee estimates that eventually 500,000 will flee to Bangladesh, half of the known Rohingya population in the country, most of whom live in troubled Rakhine state. The area has long been riven by tensions between Buddhist villagers and the stateless Rohingya, who have been there for centuries but who are still considered by the government to be illegal immigrants, “Bengalis” from neighbouring Bangladesh.
The crisis has prompted widespread outcry and condemnation of Burma and its de facto leader, Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. She and her government have said little about the plight of the Rohingya, except to reframe it as a national security matter as the new militancy has coalesced. On Monday, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, called the exodus “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”
In Maung Nu, a tiny hamlet of about 750 houses that sits along a narrow stretch of the slow-moving Mayu River, the Rohingya had long lived in relative calm, sipping tea with their Buddhist neighbours, villagers say.
But their peaceful coexistence ended on when Rohingya insurgents launched their attack on police posts. The military crackdown has continued unabated since then, black smoke scudding across the skyline visible in southern Bangladesh even this past week.
Mohammed Showife, 23, an auto mechanic, said on the first day of the assault he and his family had just finished their morning prayers and were preparing rice when three soldiers appeared in the yard, announcing their arrival with a strafe of machine-gun fire and telling them they had to leave their homes immediately.
“They said, ‘You Bengalis come out from the house. You can go anywhere you want, but you can’t live here,’” Showife recalled.
He and his family members scattered, and he stopped to help his neighbour Mohammed Rafique, 17, whose right hip had been run clean through by a bullet, back to front. They ran through a mob looting homes and soldiers setting fire to other dwellings with shoulder-fired rocket launchers. Many took refuge in the jungle, where the dense foliage, thick after the monsoon, provided cover.
Once there, some of the women sat silently weeping. Others just looked at each other: What would they do now? They tried to attend to Rafique’s wound with boiled water and torn strips of clothing.
The first night came, an uneasy darkness settled in, the sky flickering with fire and shadows. They did not know then there would be five nights more.
On the second day, a businessman hiding in his house got a call from a tall, skinny Army sergeant they all knew and called “Bajo,” who had often dined in his home.
Bajo said the military was going to be requisitioning one of his passenger boats. Given the circumstances, Mohammed Zubair, 40, felt he had no choice but to give it to them. He sent the boat with the captain to the jetty at the nearby army camp. The officers accepted the keys with the warning for the captain: “You will also be killed.” The boat driver eventually escaped unharmed with the others.
Zubair said he had followed to see what was to become of his vessel. He says he watched in horror as the military began stacking dead bodies on the boat, one after the other, like lumber, including two 13-year-old boys he knew well.
“I fainted from seeing this,” Zubair said. He believes they were dumped in the river.
On the third day, Rafique’s mother, Khalida Begum, 35, had grown tired of moving from house to house with her four other children, desperate for news of her son. She raised them on her own on a tailor’s salary after her husband died years ago. They managed to make it to the jungle, where she saw Rafique lying motionless underneath a tree.
She ran to him and covered his face with kisses, joyfully, as he emerged from his fevered haze. At first he was so disoriented that he did not recognize her. But soon they were both crying.
On the sixth day, the residents of Maung Nu decided as a group they would start walking north to the border with Bangladesh, fearing the danger was growing.
They walked for eight days with few provisions, eating banana leaves and drinking water from streams. The children whimpered. Showife carried Rafique on his back, the teen drifting in and out of consciousness. After a while, their legs began to swell.
Finally, they reached a crossing high on a hill marked by a simple pillar that they understood meant they had arrived in Bangladesh. It was 4:30 in the afternoon. It was raining. Before them was a new city of refugees, thousands of temporary tents, bamboo poles covered in black plastic sheeting.
The villagers knew there would be tough times ahead as they descended the hill, slipping a little in the mud. For days afterward, when some of them closed their eyes, they could see the lifeless bodies of their neighbours and hear the ring of gunfire in their ears.
But at the pillar, a little cheer went up.
“I was very happy,” Khalida Begum said. “I was crazy, I was excited, I thought — now we are safe.”
Days later, Khalida Begum’s eyes filled with tears when she recounted this moment. It was the first time she had allowed herself to believe what the others who helped Rafique out of the village had hoped for: that her son would live.
The mayor of Whitchurch-Stouffville asked community members to send in “testimony” detailing the “positive impact” he has made on their lives since he became mayor — ahead of the release of an ethics report into the “CSI-style” wall that was discovered in his office washroom this year.
In an email sent by his assistant last week, Mayor Justin Altmann disclosed to his supporters, in what appears to be a breach of confidentiality, that he is under investigation by Suzanne Craig, the town’s integrity commissioner, and that she had asked him to solicit testimony about the “positive initiatives that I have enabled and supported since becoming the mayor of our cherished town.”
But Craig, best known for her efforts to bring transparency and accountability to the city of Vaughan, says all parties are “bound by confidentiality” including keeping secret “all interactions with the integrity commissioner.”
“The office of the integrity commissioner is bound by rules of confidentiality and cannot discuss an investigation until the report is made public to council to consider her recommendations,” Craig said. “However, the integrity commissioner has clearly stated that in any investigation she conducts, the parties are bound by confidentiality and cannot discuss any part of the investigation or interaction they have with the integrity commissioner until the investigation is brought before council for a decision.”
According to sources, the mayor received an email from the integrity commissioner after he went public with his request to followers, telling him that he had breached confidentiality.
Craig’s final report is expected to come to council this month. The report will make recommendations, and the six-member council will decide what action, if any, to take.
Craig launched an investigation into the mayor this summer after staff found three large murals in Altmann’s office washroom. The murals included large photographs and drawn lines connecting pictures of current and former councillors, staff, and members of the public (including this Toronto Star reporter.)
The mayor, who has not spoken to the Star about the wall, told local media at the time that the wall was a “mind map” and called it “normal.”
“I am so happy that I get to tell my story now. I am so happy the integrity commissioner will get to investigate me because I have had no means to tell my story,” he told Metroland Media-York Region in July. “There is nothing criminal on the wall.
Craig’s investigation was launched after a city staff member complained.
But in the email sent out to “his support system” by his assistant, Debi Patterson, Altmann asked for support in his “adversity filled journey.”
“While I have faced many challenges since joining my position as mayor of Whitchurch-Stouffville, I sincerely believe that this challenge has created the greatest opportunity to share not only my personal journey but your personal journey as well under this term of council,” Altmann said in the email obtained by the Star.
“While it is unfortunate that some have passed judgment without knowing the whole story and many have tried to impede my ability to create the inclusive community that I am trying to foster, it pleases me that this investigation provides an opportunity to compile a list of positive initiatives that I have enabled and supported since becoming the mayor of our cherished town,” he said, adding that Ms. Craig would like to: “review and take into consideration all your personal feedback and experiences.”
Some took his message to Facebook.
“Our mayor, Justin Altmann, needs our help. He is being investigated by the integrity commissioner; for reasons of idiocy, rumors, false truths and convoluted drama,” said a post written on a Facebook page called “We love Stouffville” that asked people to send in “their support for Justin.”
Altmann became one of the GTA’s youngest mayors when he won the Whitchurch-Stouffville seat in 2014.
When asked if he breached confidentiality, Altmann said he will not provide “any public comments or statements (whether written or verbal) about the investigation” until the matter is over.
Town councillors hired Craig as integrity commissioner in February to ensure “the codes of behaviour and ethics governing elected public officials are objectively communicated and applied. This is a critical role in maintaining public confidence in Whitchurch-Stouffville’s government,” the website states.
The following month, council instituted an updated code of conduct.
According to the complaint protocol available online, the goal of an ethics probe is to determine if an official has breached the code of conduct.
According to the rules posted on the town website, confidentiality is expected while an investigation is ongoing.
“The integrity commissioner and every person acting under his or her jurisdiction shall preserve confidentiality where appropriate and where this does not interfere with the course of any investigation,” it says.
According to sources, Craig’s investigation included interviews with the mayor, staff and councillors. It’s unclear why Altmann asked for his supporters to weigh in.
Sue Sherban, a former Whitchurch-Stouffville mayor who has become an outspoken critic of the current mayor and council’s actions this term, says she believes Altmann is trying to reduce the impact of the final report.
“I believe the mayor is trying to create a headwind before the report comes out so that his supporters know that there are other residents who see him in a positive light,” said Sherban, whose picture was also posted on the mayor’s wall. “And to make it seem like what the integrity commissioner has to say (or will say) is one sided.”
One man is dead and another has been sent to the hospital after a shooting in Toronto’s east end early Saturday morning.
The incident occurred at around 1:20 a.m. near Gerrard and River streets, Toronto paramedics said.
The victim was pronounced dead on scene, and the second man was taken to a trauma centre with serious injuries from a gunshot wound.
Details about the men’s ages were not immediately available.
ST. LOUIS—Hundreds of people protesting the acquittal of a white former St. Louis police officer in the fatal shooting of a Black man marched for hours in mostly peaceful demonstrations, until a broken window at the mayor’s home and escalating tensions led riot police to lob tear gas to disperse the crowds.
For weeks, activists had been threatening civil disobedience if Jason Stockley was not convicted of murder for killing Anthony Lamar Smith, prompting authorities to take precautions. With the large protests that followed the 2014 killing of Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson still fresh in everyone’s minds, barricades were erected around police headquarters and the courthouse, among other sites, in anticipation of the verdict.
Within hours of St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson acquitting Stockley of first-degree murder, a racially diverse crowd of protesters took to the streets — some legally carrying weapons and others toting children and waving posters.
More than 20 arrests were made by early evening, and some protesters were pepper-sprayed during confrontations with authorities. St. Louis police reported that 10 officers had suffered injuries by the end of the night, including a broken jaw and dislocated shoulder, and some journalists reported being threatened by protesters.
Activists said they would meet again Saturday to plan further demonstrations. The band U2 cancelled its Saturday night concert in St. Louis because the police department said it wouldn’t be able to provide its standard protection for the event, organizers said.
The 2011 confrontation began when Stockley and his partner tried to arrest Smith for a suspected drug deal in a fast-food restaurant. Smith sped off, leading to a chase that ended when he crashed.
At the trial, Stockley testified that he saw the 24-year-old Smith holding a silver revolver as he sped away at the start of the chase. He said when he shot Smith, he felt he was in imminent danger.
Prosecutors said Stockley planted a gun in Smith’s car after the shooting — Stockley’s DNA was on the weapon but Smith’s wasn’t.
Dashcam video from Stockley’s police car captured him saying he was “going to kill this (expletive), don’t you know it.” Less than a minute later, he shot Smith five times.
Stockley’s lawyer dismissed the comment as “human emotions” uttered during a dangerous pursuit.
In his decision, Wilson wrote that the statement “can be ambiguous depending on the context.”
“This court, in conscience, cannot say that the State has proven every element of murder beyond a reasonable doubt or that the State has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not act in self-defence,” the judge wrote.
In an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch after the verdict, Stockley, 36, said he understands how video of the shooting looks bad, but that he did nothing wrong.
“I can feel for and I understand what the family is going through, and I know everyone wants someone to blame, but I’m just not the guy,” said Stockley, who left St. Louis’ police force in 2013 and moved to Houston.
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner acknowledged the difficulty of winning police shooting cases but said prosecutors believe they proved that Stockley intended to kill Smith.
Friday’s protests began with largely unsuccessful efforts at civil disobedience. Demonstrators were blocked on an entrance ramp before they could rush onto an interstate, and found the city’s convention centre’s doors locked when they tried to enter.
Early confrontations erupted when protesters blocked a bus full of officers in riot gear and later surrounded a police vehicle that was damaged with rocks, prompting police to deploy pepper spray. A freelance Associated Press videographer said a protester threw his camera to the ground and damaged it, and he was later threatened with a beating if he didn’t put another camera away. A KTVI reporter said water bottles were thrown at him after a protester taunted him, drawing a crowd.
As night fell, hundreds of demonstrators walked through the streets to the upscale Central West End section of the city, where they chanted and marched as people looked on from restaurants and hospital windows lining busy Kingshighway.
Tensions escalated after protesters broke a front window and splattered red paint on the home of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, who had called for calm ahead of the verdict and later said she was appalled by what happened to Smith and “sobered” by the outcome.
Police in bulletproof vests and helmets closed in and demanded protesters get off the lawn and the street in front of the house, eventually using tear gas to clear the area over the next two hours.
Smith’s death is just one of several high-profile U.S. cases in recent years in which a white officer killed a black suspect, including the killing of Brown in Ferguson. The officer who killed the unarmed 18-year-old wasn’t charged and eventually resigned.
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA—North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said his country is nearing its goal of “equilibrium” in military force with the United States, as the United Nations Security Council strongly condemned the North’s “highly provocative” ballistic missile launch over Japan on Friday.
The North’s official Korean Central News Agency carried Kim’s comments on Saturday — a day after U.S. and South Korean militaries detected the missile launch from the North Korean capital of Pyongyang.
It travelled 3,700 kilometres as it passed over the Japanese island of Hokkaido before landing in the northern Pacific Ocean. It was the country’s longest-ever test flight of a ballistic missile.
The North has confirmed the missile as an intermediate range Hwasong-12, the same model launched over Japan on Aug. 29.
Under Kim’s watch, North Korea has maintained a torrid pace in weapons tests, including its most powerful nuclear test to date on Sept. 3 and two July flight tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles that could strike deep into the U.S. mainland when perfected.
The increasingly frequent and aggressive tests have added to outside fears that the North is closer than ever to building a military arsenal that could viably target the U.S. and its allies in Asia. The tests, which could potentially make launches over Japan an accepted norm, are also seen as North Korea’s attempt to win greater military freedom in the region and raise doubts in Seoul and Tokyo that Washington would risk the annihilation of a U.S. city to protect them.
The KCNA said Kim expressed great satisfaction over the launch, which he said verified the “combat efficiency and reliability” of the missile and the success of efforts to increase its power.
While the English version of the report was less straightforward, the Korean version quoted Kim as declaring the missile as operationally ready. He vowed to complete his nuclear weapons program in the face of strengthening international sanctions, the agency said.
Photos published by North Korea’s state media showed the missile being fired from a truck-mounted launcher and a smiling Kim clapping and raising his fist while celebrating from an observation point. It was the first time North Korea showed the missile being launched directly from a vehicle, which experts said indicated confidence about the mobility and reliability of the system. In previous tests, North Korea used trucks to transport and erect the Hwasong-12s, but moved the missiles on separate firing tables before launching them.
The UN Security Council accused North Korea of undermining regional peace and security by launching its latest missile over Japan and said its nuclear and missile tests “have caused grave security concerns around the world” and threaten all 193 UN member states.
Kim also said the country, despite “limitless” international sanctions, has nearly completed the building of its nuclear weapons force and called for “all-state efforts” to reach the goal and obtain a “capacity for nuclear counterattack the U.S. cannot cope with.”
“As recognized by the whole world, we have made all these achievements despite the UN sanctions that have lasted for decades,” the agency quoted Kim as saying.
Kim said the country’s final goal “is to establish the equilibrium of real force with the U.S. and make the U.S. rulers dare not talk about military option for the DPRK,” referring to North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
He indicated that more missile tests would be forthcoming, saying that all future drills should be “meaningful and practical ones for increasing the combat power of the nuclear force” to establish an order in the deployment of nuclear warheads for “actual war.”
Prior to the launches over Japan, North Korea had threatened to fire a salvo of Hwasong-12s toward Guam, the U.S. Pacific island territory and military hub the North has called an “advanced base of invasion.”
The Security Council stressed in a statement after a closed-door emergency meeting that all countries must “fully, comprehensively and immediately” implement all UN sanctions.
Japan’s UN Ambassador Koro Bessho called the missile launch an “outrageous act” that is not only a threat to Japan’s security but a threat to the whole world.
Bessho and the British, French and Swedish ambassadors demanded that all sanctions be implemented.
Calling the latest launch a “terrible, egregious, illegal, provocative reckless act,” Britain’s UN Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said North Korea’s largest trading partners and closest links — a clear reference to China — must “demonstrate that they are doing everything in their power to implement the sanctions of the Security Council and to encourage the North Korean regime to change course.”
France’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the country is ready to work on tougher UN and EU measures to convince Pyongyang that there is no interest in an escalation, and to bring it to the negotiating table.
Friday’s launch followed North Korea’s sixth nuclear test on Sept. 3 in what it described as a detonation of a thermonuclear weapon built for its developmental ICBMs.
The Hwasong-12 and the Hwasong-14 were initially fired at highly lofted angles to reduce their range and avoid neighbouring countries. The two Hwasong-12 launches over Japan indicate North Korea is moving toward using angles close to operational to evaluate whether its warheads can survive the harsh conditions of atmospheric re-entry and detonate properly.
While some experts believe North Korea would need to conduct more tests to confirm Hwasong-12’s accuracy and reliability, Kim Jong Un’s latest comments indicate the country would soon move toward mass producing the missiles for operational deployment, said Kim Dong-yub, an analyst at Seoul’s Institute for Far Eastern Studies. He also said that the North is likely planning similar test launches of its Hwasong-14 ICBM.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in, a liberal who initially pushed for talks with North Korea, said its tests currently make dialogue “impossible.”
“If North Korea provokes us or our allies, we have the strength to smash the attempt at an early stage and inflict a level of damage it would be impossible to recover from,” said Moon, who ordered his military to conduct a live-fire ballistic missile drill in response to the North Korean launch.
New Democrats have a decision to make about social democracy.
As they begin voting Monday for their next federal leader, will they have the “love and courage” to choose a mixed martial arts fighter from Brampton — a politician who relies on jujitsu sloganeering instead of slagging his opponents?
Or are they too leery of what Jagmeet Singh represents — wary of what the electorate at large will think — to embrace him as an upgraded, updated, unconventional social democrat?
In the homestretch, Singh has finally emerged as the favourite to finish first — if only New Democrats would stop second-guessing themselves about his suitability, electability and winnability.
Coming out on top hasn’t come easily for the rookie candidate who so handily out-hustled, out-muscled, out-moneyed and outshone his federal rivals in the public eye. The final vote — staggered over the next few weeks — will say as much about the state of the party as it does the country.
Is an aging political movement with an outdated fealty to ideology ready to change with the times by embracing a new generation of social democratic fighter?
Singh doesn’t just look different. He sounds different.
Never mind that he would be the first party leader to wear a turban — religious attire that Quebec has spent years trying to ban for public servants.
Quite apart from his predilection for the colourful turbans, it’s the way he wears his heart on his sleeve — and how he dresses in bespoke suits — that speaks to a personal style unfamiliar to New Democrats more closely identified with hair shirts.
To his credit, Singh has turned a whispering campaign into a talking point that plays to his advantage.
His video encounter this month with a raging racist has gone exponentially viral — tens of millions of views and counting — providing earned media that money can’t buy. His subdued performance — suffocating his antagonist with “love,” effectively killing her with kindness — was the kind of trial by fire that few politicians face in the glare of the spotlight.
Reliving the video during a meeting with the Toronto Star’s editorial board, Singh said he kept his cool to calm the supporters and aides who rushed to his defence. He has spent a lifetime relying on his powers of persuasion instead of his martial arts prowess.
Now 38, Singh’s youthful visage belies the wisps of grey hair peeking out from under his violet turban during Friday’s visit. Clad in a dapper grey three-piece suit accented by a cream pocket handkerchief (but foregoing socks in his black loafers), he displays the presence and charisma that gave him an uncommonly high profile as deputy leader of Ontario’s NDP.
He has an unquestioned ability to inspire and disarm. The question is whether he’s willing to be unlikeable and unmoveable when he needs to take an unpopular stand.
Singh is good at telling people what they want to hear — for example, New Democrats won’t countenance any talk of any pipelines anywhere anytime, most especially during a leadership campaign, and Singh plays along. But leaders must also be tough enough to be unloved, saying what needs to be said.
I reminded him on Friday of his soft touch over the province’s overheated sex education controversy, when he coddled opponents in his Brampton riding by echoing the demands of socially conservative parents for perpetual consultations, rather than showing leadership as other MPPs did. Singh reverted to his newly discovered message discipline by recasting himself as a sex-ed warrior all along.
He may be rewriting history here, but at least he has learned his lesson, at last, on the perils of pandering. No one’s perfect, least of all politicians.
The point is to learn from your mistakes, to embrace the learning curve ahead. The best way to grow your vote is to keep growing as a politician.
Singh still has rough edges. At our editorial meeting, he couldn’t put a figure on his proposed tax changes.
He’s no know-it-all. As I’ve written before, perhaps that’s part of his charm at a time when voters are looking beyond polished platforms and prosecutorial demeanours in their opposition leaders.
By all accounts, he has that ineffable quality of personality that makes up for his sometimes plodding or unpolished performances as a debater. But he is no pushover and, like Justin Trudeau — to whom he is often compared— Singh shouldn’t be underestimated merely because he’s no intellectual show-off nor smartypants politician.
Is the party ready for a sympatico, turbaned leader who plays ideological politics differently than his traditionally righteous rivals? A Léger poll last month showed many Quebecers reluctant to vote for someone who wears such a religious symbol in the next election.
Yet Singh is undaunted, noting he has signed up more supporters in Quebec than his rivals, expanding the pool of potential New Democrats beyond the fickle base of Bloc Québécois backers once seduced by the party’s nationalist flirtations. He is expanding the voter pie rather than walking on electoral eggshells.
Ontario’s Liberals grappled with a similar decision point in 2013, when many delegates openly wondered if the province was open to its first lesbian premier. Kathleen Wynne went on to win the next election, surpassing expectations both electoral and attitudinal at the time.
The turban, too, could soon be a minor footnote to Canadian political history — if New Democrats have the love and courage to choose the candidate who is head and shoulders above his rivals.
Martin Regg Cohn’s political column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. email@example.com , Twitter: @reggcohn
Martin Regg Cohn’s political column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. firstname.lastname@example.org , Twitter: @reggcohn
“Happy Birthday” is not a tune so much as forced misery.
The most popular song in the English language is also the worst song in the English language. As melodic as the sound of an exploding water balloon and with a repetitive lyrical quatrain that sounds more threatening than celebratory — HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU! — this is a song anyone can sing and nobody can make sound good. This “song” is to music as a rickshaw is to space travel.
I don’t know how many times I’ve belted out “Happy Birthday” as a friend or family member stared sheepishly at the flickering candles on a cake. But what I do know is this aural atrocity never feels festive, personal, tender, thoughtful, fun or natural.
It feels lazy. It feels like going through the motions.
As a cultural tradition, we sing “Happy Birthday” for the same reason we say, “God bless you” after someone sneezes: it is expected and there is no alternative.
Well, it’s time we change this because “Happy Birthday” is now a clear and present danger to civilization. After a legal battle, the song entered the public domain last year and now it’s not just a sonic horror you must endure in private with loved ones. “Happy Birthday” has stormed into TV, film, commercials and every other bubbling crook of pop culture where any fool in a paper hat can sing it as many times as he or she likes without the fear of copyright infringement.
Remember when put-upon restaurant servers would gather around a flaming cupcake at your table and either clap out a bizarre chant or harmonize a deranged ditty they invented in-house for customer birthdays because they weren’t allowed to sing the real song? It was always a jarring experience: “It’s your birthday today, hurrray! / It’s your birthday today, no way! / Jupiter preserve your soul and for this cupcake we pay — yay!”
What we didn’t realize at the time was those made-up songs at least required original thought, as did the hasty workarounds Hollywood was forced to deploy whenever a character celebrated a milestone.
The restrictions on “Happy Birthday” created safeguards we took for granted.
“Happy Birthday” was tolerable because it was controlled.
But after this week, in which Netflix decided it wanted in on the “Happy Birthday” crimes against humanity, all I can say is buy some noise-cancelling headphones and dive under the bed because we are pretty much doomed.
Under the guise of helping parents plan a kiddie birthday party, Netflix commissioned a global survey and then released 15 “Birthday On-Demand” videos. In these two-minute shorts, characters from popular franchises — including Barbie, My Little Pony, Trollhunters, Pokemon and Beat Bugs— serenade your child and assembled party guests with this wretched song, creating the illusion it was “made just for them,” as opposed to “made by Satan.”
Netflix, how is this helping? The foundation is buckling under the rambunctious force of tween spirits hopped up on sugar and your idea of “taking celebrations to the next level” is to offer 15 new versions of a song that already makes me want to dive off the Bloor Street Viaduct?
What’s next? Are you going to help pay for my kids’ braces by kicking me in the teeth? Are you going to help my daughters sleep through the night by beaming scenes from the new season of Stranger Things onto their closet doors?
If you really want to chip in with birthday parties, dispatch an emissary who can help chaperone the little hellions to the trampoline pit or pottery workshop, or whatever offsite destination my wife selected precisely because it had nothing to do with watching a screen.
This is a generational concern, Netflix. But it’s real. Our kids were born into a world of screens and it can be a challenge to keep them interested in the world beyond those screens. This is why “turn that off” is the new “eat your vegetables.”
This is especially true for birthday parties, which Netflix’s own research should have uncovered. Instead of asking parents if planning a birthday party is “stressful” — 67 per cent of respondents said it was — why didn’t Netflix ask these same people if they’d enjoy a 30-minute loop of “Happy Birthday” attacks on eyes and ears?
Answer: because 100 per cent of respondents would have hung up, driven to Netflix headquarters and burned the place to the ground.
I’m not saying Netflix is evil.
I’m just saying no good can come from streaming more versions of “Happy Birthday” into a world that is no longer protected from the worst song ever written.
WASHINGTON—With a rally in support of U.S. President Donald Trump scheduled to take place on the Mall Saturday, one of the best-known icons of the white nationalists who helped propel Trump to power said conservatives should be demonstrating against the president, not for him.
Richard B. Spencer, the Alexandria, Virginia, resident who coined the term “alt-right” and has become its omnipresent spokesman, said he had no plans to join the pro-Trump forces mustering in Washington in light of the president’s new willingness to shield illegal immigrants brought to the country as children from deportation.
“If anything, I would be protesting Trump this weekend,” Spencer said in an interview.
His comments came as the nation’s capital prepared to host what may be the year’s most motley collection of political rallies Saturday, including the demonstration in support of the president, anti-Trump counter protests and a demonstration by fans of the rap-metal group Insane Clown Posse, who are protesting their FBI designation as a criminal gang.
Police in the District have worried about friction among the groups along the lines of the clashes between white supremacists and left-wing demonstrators that led to deadly rioting in Charlottesville last month.
Spencer, who helped lead the white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville, said he doesn’t expect those who share his conservatism to show up in force Saturday.
“It’s a residue of an older conservatism,” he said of the scheduled pro-Trump demonstration. “It really doesn’t have much of anything to do with the alt right.”
Such distinctions could be lost on left-wing demonstrators in an overwhelmingly Democratic D.C. A Facebook group called “White Supremacists Out of Washington!” that was planning to gather at Farragut Square to protest the pro-Trump rally.
“The counter protest is to say, how can you defend someone who won’t condemn white supremacy,” said Nelini Stamp, an organizer of the counterprotest. After the violence in Charlottesville, Trump was heavily criticized for blaming protesters on “both sides” of the political spectrum rather than focusing on white supremacists.
Authorities had plans in place, including street restrictions, to keep order and separate the groups as necessary. Looming over them is the response in Charlottesville, where police were faulted for a slow reaction as the protest turned violent.
The D.C. Office of Police Complaints said in a statement that it would be monitoring the department’s handling of the rallies. The office was planning to deploy its staff with video and audio recording equipment throughout downtown Saturday.
D.C. police said there would be about 15 road closures around the Mall between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m., including the 9th and 12th street tunnels. Parts of C, D and E streets NW near the Mall are also among the closures.
Metro announced that the Smithsonian station on the Mall will be closed. Trains on the Orange, Blue and Silver lines will run through the station Saturday but not stop.
The day’s most anticipated events are the march of the Juggalos—as Insane Clown Posse fans call themselves—and the pro-Trump rally, which its organizers have dubbed the “Mother of All Rallies.”
Jason Webber, an organizer of the Juggalo rally, said the group is apolitical but noted that many of the band’s songs decry bigotry. He said 3,000 people are planning to attend.
Peter Boykin, president of Gays for Trump and a speaker at the conservative rally, said he expects a crowd ranging from 1,000 to 2,000.
Webber and Boykin said they aren’t expecting brawls.
“We think Washington D.C. is a great, safe place to have a rally, and I’m not looking for a fight,” Boykin said.
OTTAWA—Shortly before Christmas last year, Guy Caron travelled to Toronto and met Jagmeet Singh for breakfast. The race for the leadership of the New Democratic Party was barely a whisper in the national consciousness, but it was front of mind for these men.
Caron, a friendly 49-year-old MP from Rimouski, Que., had heard stories of the stylish, bike-riding Sikh politician who was deputy leader of the NDP at Queen’s Park. Though neither had yet committed to running for federal leader, both Caron and Singh were mulling it over.
They had more to chew on that day than just breakfast.
“I wanted to get the measure of the man, the person he is,” Caron recalled months later, speaking by phone as he boarded a bus from Calgary to Edmonton in the campaign’s final days.
During their meeting, Caron said they spoke of the many challenges facing the party, especially in the wake of its deflating 2015 election loss and Tom Mulcair’s ouster as leader in a convention the following year — 52 per cent of members voted him out — that left Caron “stunned.”
They spoke of Quebec, too, Caron said — his home province, where the party under Jack Layton achieved its previously unthinkable breakthrough in 2011, only to see so much crumble under Justin Trudeau’s Liberal tsunami four years later.
At the time, Caron said he was ruminating on his newfound leadership ambition, and left the breakfast thinking it would be naive not to expect Singh — a social media celebrity in certain circles, with the pop culture power of a GQ magazine spread to boot — to jump in the race, too. But he also felt the contest might not have anybody with his own mix of “economic credibility” and appeal in Quebec, prerequisites in his mind to any shot at victory for the NDP.
Now, just days before New Democrats start voting Monday for a new leader, Caron and Singh are on the ballot. The other two candidates, Niki Ashton and Charlie Angus, are experienced federal politicians who promise to reconnect with the party’s base and win back more than what was lost to the Liberals.
In a sense, just as Singh and Caron surveyed the party’s challenges over that December breakfast, the entire leadership race has been an exercise in how to negate the hurt of 2015; to find the champion that can charge back to the glory days of relevance and power proximity that the party attained under Layton.
Each candidate has campaigned against the backdrop of past failure. Each has tried to convince their partisan family that they have the right recipe for the future.
This contest, at its heart, is about how to cure disappointment.
In Olivia Chow’s mind is a metaphor: three streams, each representing a distinct school of thought for the party’s future, need to convene to form a river. One flows with a vision of a grassroots, activist movement; the second has a requirement for electoral domination in Quebec; and the third involves expanding the party’s reach into new, diverse constituencies.
All together, that river, if properly navigated, will lead the NDP to government.
“We have four candidates that embody those three streams, some more than others,” Chow, a former MP and Layton’s widow, told the Star recently.
“Who would best bring those together?”
Chow’s criterion for success brings up a question that NDP politicians are asked all the time. Is this a party that should try to appeal to a broad pool of voters for the sake of winning power, or should it stick to a strict social democratic platform and be happy with a clump of seats in the back corner of the House?
Ashton, a 35-year-old Manitoba MP, has the most left-leaning campaign. With tuition-free education, aggressive tax hikes, staunch opposition to new oil pipelines, and frequent talk of connecting with “grassroots” activism, she appears most aligned with Chow’s first “stream” for the party’s future.
But Ashton twists the power-principle proposition into a different choice: relevance or irrelevance. She sees the millennial age group, which she defines as 35 and under, becoming Canada’s largest voting bloc in the next election. The NDP needs to connect with them, people she believes are focused on climate change, income inequality and precarious work.
This is why she argues the biggest mistake in 2015 was allowing the Liberals to “out-left” the social democratic party. Trudeau caught the impulse for change and spoke to progressive Canadians and younger voters. The NDP didn’t. It’s now the third party, with 44 seats.
“We lost touch with some of our clear principles, and I believe with people that support us,” Ashton said. “There’s much work to be done in building a movement. That is what we used to be.”
Angus, a 54-year-old veteran MP from northern Ontario, also has framed his candidacy as one that would reconnect the party with its “grassroots.” For him, the party under Layton and Mulcair became overly oriented to the daily squabbles on Parliament Hill, a political machine detached from its roots. “I heard this all the time, that the only time the party went to the base was to raise money,” he said.
“This raises a sort of existential questions for New Democrats,” he continued. “What is the future of our social democratic movement?”
Caron is unequivocal: the NDP must strive for power in every election. If the pitches from Ashton and Angus represent Chow’s first “stream,” Caron’s is the second: he believes he alone has the right formula, a combination of coherent, left-wing economic policy and Quebec appeal as a francophone progressive.
“I was at Jack (Layton)’s speech that launched his leadership bid” in 2002, Caron told the Star. “He had a vision of the future that we have to form government . . . we can’t do it without Quebec.”
Yet his opponents all agree on the importance of Quebec. In fact, they agree on a lot. Each says inequality and climate change are among the biggest challenges this century. They nod at the mention of curbing greenhouse gas emissions, the need for electoral reform, and a push to achieve reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.
“The candidates agree on pretty much everything,” said Karl Bélanger, a fixture of the party’s parliamentary staff through the Layton era and much of Mulcair’s tenure.
“New Democrats are looking at a difference in style and tone.”
And that brings us to the third stream in Chow’s metaphor: breaking through to new supporters.
The audience giggled, but Jagmeet Singh wasn’t smiling. It was late August, during the only entirely French debate of the campaign in Montreal, and Charlie Angus was needling him on whether he would still try to jump from Ontario to federal politics if he loses his leadership bid.
“With respect,” he said, casting his eyes on Angus, “I will not lose.”
Laughter spread through the room. Even Angus seemed to be chuckling.
“When I win,” Singh continued, “I will run in the federal election.”
“If you lose?” Angus inquired again.
“I will not lose,” Singh deadpanned.
The 38-year-old Ontario legislator was, for many observers, the presumed frontrunner even before he entered the race. Bélanger called Singh’s entry, in mid-May, the “game-changer.”
“Before that it was like a phony war,” he said.
It might seem strange a provincial politician who is not even the leader at that level would make such a splash. Hélène Laverdière, a Quebec MP who supports Singh, said she didn’t know much about him until he showed up in Ottawa around the time he formally launched his campaign. He came to her office, and she was impressed.
“He wanted to listen, rather than talk,” she said. “What struck me the most with him — how could I say? — it’s the leadership side. It’s the human being.”
Whatever it is, Singh appears to have resonated. His campaign claims to have brought in 47,000 new party members, of a total roughly 83,000 sign-ups during the campaign. In fundraising, too, there’s evidence he’s in the lead: Elections Canada numbers show he raked in more than $350,000 in the second quarter of the year. That’s more than Angus, Ashton and Caron combined.
He has also experienced some campaign flashpoints, most strikingly early this month, when a video of his response to an incensed heckler went viral. A woman — later tied to an Islamophobic group, Rise Canada — stood at a Brampton campaign event and started shouting in Singh’s face about “Shariah” and said he’s “in bed with the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Singh’s reaction has been widely parsed and praised. He calmly repeated to the woman, as she gesticulated and yelled in his face: “We love you. We support you.”
Ian Capstick, a political strategist and long-time NDP insider who is neutral in the race, said the impact of the video — viewed at least 40 million times — cannot be overstated.
Moments like that may also integral for the party’s longer-term goal of finding someone who can shine on a level with Trudeau, a political celebrity, said David Coletto, CEO of Abacus Data in Ottawa. That’s important, given the history under Mulcair, when the play-it-safe strategy in 2015 backfired, Coletto added.
“If I’m the New Democrats,” he said, “I want somebody who will get the attention of the public for a moment, and that moment is my chance to convince the public that Justin Trudeau is not as progressive as he says he is.”
None of that is to say that Singh is a lock.
Angus, for one, is critical of what he sees as Singh’s “too big to fail” campaign, a bid to win on the first ballot of the race, rather than building bridges with various constituencies to bring people together when the race is over. Party members will vote by ranked ballot, in a one-member, one-vote system. New rounds of voting will take place each week through October — with the last-place candidate being eliminated — until someone has more than 50-per-cent support.
(Singh did not make himself available to be interviewed for this article.)
Another factor is Quebec, key to the party’s electoral chances but marginal in the leadership race, with less than 10 per cent of NDP members in the province. “The paradox of this campaign,” said Farouk Karim, Guy Caron’s campaign spokesperson, “is that we know NDP members in Quebec will not elect the next leader, but Quebec will decide the next prime minister.”
The province was at the centre of one of the biggest friction points of the campaign, when a debate in Quebec City over proposed restrictions on religious face coverings like the Mulsim niqab jumped into the leadership race.
This was prompted by Caron, who put out a platform in late August on respecting Quebec’s distinctness as a nation within Canada. His proposal included a section on secularism, in which he explained how it has been a priority in Quebec since the official uncoupling of the Catholic Church from the provincial governing apparatus in the1960s. He said that, while he personally opposes the government telling people what they can wear, he would ultimately respect the Quebec National Assembly’s decision.
This prompted a sharp discussion that echoed an element of the 2015 election: many believe the party’s declining fortunes in the province were due to Muclair’s firm stance against a niqab ban for citizenship ceremonies, being discussed at the time.
Singh and Angus came out against the recent proposed legislation in Quebec, and predicted the courts would quash it. Ashton initially appeared to agree with Caron, but now says she’s against the idea in principle and trusts the National Assembly to make a decision that respects individual rights.
The discussion is by no means settled. This week, Pierre Nantel, a Montreal-area MP, told Le Devoir he would consider ditching the NDP if the next leader doesn’t respect Quebec’s decision making.
Statements like that may have fuelled a late surge of endorsements for Caron, who contends he’s the only one with a true understanding of Quebec’s political dynamic. Brian Topp, a prominent insider, former leader Alexa McDonough, and the Steelworkers union all backed him in the days after the secularism discussion broke out.
There is also the practical question of French language ability, which appears to be of most concern to Angus and Singh.
Many in the party feel that to fail in Quebec will be to return to the time when the NDP had no legitimate shot at power, thus the nuances of debates of identity and self-determination in the province need to be navigated with extreme care.
As Coletto pointed out, the NDP has consistently trailed the Liberals in Quebec polls since Trudeau took power. “There has been a sea change,” he said. “Quebec (for the NDP) looks particularly daunting.”
If Chow is right about her “three streams” prescription, whoever becomes the next leader needs to pull off something unprecedented for the party — enliven its social democratic base, appeal to new tranches of voters in places it has never won seats, and reclaim its Orange Wave success in Quebec.
Back in March, at the first candidates debate in a hotel ballroom in Ottawa, none of the candidates mentioned Mulcair. They spoke instead and with great frequency, of Layton, who was practically beatified in the NDP for leading them to groundbreaking success.
It’s been like that the whole campaign — reaching around the disappointment of the Mulcair era to try to embody the euphoria of a prior time.
“It has interestingly become: who can be the closest to the next Jack Layton that we can possibly elect,” Capstick said. “That’s what the party has always been after: who can capture the imaginations of Canadians the way Jack Layton did.”
In a matter of days, New Democrats will hope they have found the right person for that lofty task — catching the future by chasing the past.
Before the missiles came and destroyed his family’s chocolate factory in Damascus in early 2013, pretty much the only thing Tareq Hadhad knew about Canada was the little he’d picked up from MTV.
He’d heard of Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. He’d heard that Canada was “a nation of diversity.” What the rest of his family — father Isam, mother Shahenaz and four siblings — knew about their future home was the usual.
It “was the coldest country in the world.”
Back then, had you mentioned “Antigonish” to Hadhad, he might have responded with the Arabic equivalent of Bless you!
“I hadn’t heard about Halifax, or Nova Scotia before,” he laughed this week. “So Antigonish was a surprising destination for me. Antigonish is not famous across the world.”
But what a few years it’s been. And what wonderful ambassadors for Antigonish the Hadhad family has become.
On Sept. 9, less than two years after landing in Canada — safe haven after three years in a refugee camp in Lebanon — the Syrian family celebrated the opening of a new chocolate factory in the little Nova Scotia university town that took them in.
The accomplishments of the Hadhads, their gratitude to the locals who helped them and their almost immediate giving back to Canada have already been the subject of a TED talk by Tareq, a documentary about their experience, a speech by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to the United Nations, and earned Tareq an appointment to Invest Nova Scotia, the province’s economic development agency.
Their extraordinary story began more than 30 years ago, when Isam Hadhad was teaching himself to cook.
“He came back to the house one night and told my grandmother that he wanted to learn to cook with chocolate,” Tareq explained.
In the family telling, Isam Hadhad’s inspiration came after attending a wedding.
“After the celebration he was just like really fascinated that everybody was happy when they were eating chocolate. He looked at the pictures after the wedding and the most happy pictures were the ones with chocolate.”
His experiments began in the family kitchen.
Before long, he was a chocolatier of renown, eventually owning the second-largest chocolate company in the Middle East, shipping his products to Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey, Egypt and some countries in Europe.
Then came the war.
A missile took out the factory. The family lost its home. Tareq and his brother were almost killed in a bombing. They decided it was time to leave Syria.
They reckoned on travelling to Lebanon, waiting for things to calm down. They expected the war to end and to return home in a month.
The universe had other plans.
For three years, the family — but for one sister who was trapped in Syria when the borders closed, and remains there — was mired in a refugee camp in Lebanon.
“It was really a terrible time,” Tareq, now 26, told the Star. Their challenge became mere survival and keeping the family intact.
What the Hadhads had no way of knowing was that in Nova Scotia, the warmest possible welcome was already being arranged in a new home they had no idea was waiting.
Lucille Harper works for the Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre. By 2015, she told the Star, local residents decided they wanted to help displaced Syrian families.
“There was a group of us got together and said, OK, surely we can sponsor a family.”
They formed a group called Syria Antigonish Families Embrace, or SAFE, and applied to bring a family.
Sean Fraser, Liberal MP for Central Nova, said the commitment during the 2015 election campaign by Justin Trudeau to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees initially concerned many of his constituents.
“I spoke with hundreds, maybe even thousands of constituents who had mixed feelings,” he told the Star. “Any trepidation was really based out of fear; fear for security, fear for the economy, whether people would take their jobs, or fear that the community wouldn’t quite be the same.”
Fraser said he told them the refugees “are going to change our community, but for the better.”
At any rate, SAFE got word that a Syrian family was coming in 2016.
“We didn’t know who was coming,” said Lucille Harper. “We just knew that a family was coming.”
Tareq Hadhad — who speaks English and represents the family — arrived first in Antigonish, just before Christmas 2015. (He found himself playing in a boxing-day ball hockey game that’s apparently a local tradition.) Two weeks later, his family followed.
“When Tareq arrived we were delighted,” Harper said. “As the rest of the family came, we learned a little bit more about what they had been doing.
“We found that in Syria they had a chocolate factory. And we thought, ‘Well, that sounds good for Antigonish!’ ”
The welcome the Hadhads received was both extraordinary and entirely typical of the greetings that the Syrians arriving in Canada received all across the country.
The locals found housing. Antigonish is fortunate that as a university town with a hospital there were resources not always available in smaller rural towns.
Retired teachers stepped up to help the newcomers learn English and settle in school. Health-care workers helped the refugees get health cards, find doctors and dentists and to line up initial checkups.
The women’s centre had a settlement worker who helped with paperwork. Some rounded up winter clothes. Others made the trip to Halifax to get Syrian foods.
“The community really wrapped themselves around the Hadhads,” Harper said.
Then there was serendipity.
Frank Gallant and his family made a rental house available to the Hadhads at reasonable cost. And as it happened, a Gallant daughter was raising money for university by selling chocolates at local farmers’ markets.
“Frank knew where to find chocolate and knew where to find equipment for chocolate,” Harper said.
And, for the second time, Isam Hadhad went to work building a chocolate factory.
He started, as he did in Damascus, in his kitchen. Soon, Shahenaz insisted he work in the basement. He started selling at local markets. And before long, local carpenters, plumbers and electricians pitched in to build him a small shed as a “factory.”
When the prime minister told their story at the UN, the business boomed. And last week, the Hadhads opened their new factory in a plant leased by the Sobeys supermarket chain, which is carrying their products.
Their company is called Peace by Chocolate.
From their arrival, the Hadhads have been eager to give back, Harper said.
When Fort McMurray, Alta., was evacuated last year because of wildfire they donated money to victims there because “they knew what loss meant.”
“They want to be employers here. They want to help their community. In every box of chocolate there’s a little card talking about Antigonish, welcoming people to come visit.”
Tareq “has been such a great ambassador for the family, and the community, and the whole Syrian cause in many ways,” she said.
“They have just integrated well, but also taken up Antigonish as a community of their heart that they want to promote.”
Mayor Laurie Boucher told the Star the experience “really gave the community a sense of what they can do.” It also inspired creation of the sort of ongoing supports for future newcomers, immigrants on whom Canada will rely for future population growth.
“We need as many as we can, for sure,” she said. “Getting them here is one thing, but then keeping them, especially in a small rural town like Antigonish, to be able to deliver the services that they need is another.”
In all, it may be that Antigonish hasn’t been mentioned so often in media across Canada since former prime minister Brian Mulroney regularly sang its praises as the launching pad for his career. (He’ll be in town Sept. 20 for the sod-turning for the Mulroney Institute of Government building, named in his honour.)
And it may also be that Atlantic Canada hasn’t been as synonymous with chocolate since the Ganongs set up in St. Stephen, N.B.
Harper said there are now several Syrian families in Antigonish, with the fourth family sponsored by SAFE scheduled to arrive Sept. 21.
She delights in telling of other success stories among the newcomers.
Majd al Zhouri was 19, when his family arrived. Because of the war, he had to leave school at 15, then work in Lebanon to help support his family.
“So he came here with a Grade 9 education and in a year and a half learned English, completed high school and got accepted in an engineering program at Saint F.X. (St. Francis Xavier University).”
And al Zhouri’s accomplishment doesn’t stop there. As part of learning English, he began to write his story. A friend helped him turn it into a one-act play, titled To Eat an Almond, a story about fleeing the war.
When al Zhouri, now 21, first performed it, “everyone was in tears at the end,” Harper said.
The learning continues, and it works both ways.
“Now, the community in Antigonish gets invited to celebrate Eid with the families,” Harper said. “So we’re learning more about the whole Islamic faith, and the celebrations and what they mean and the sharing of food. And the families, they’re just incredibly generous.
As for Tareq Hadhad, who laughs easily and often, he knows a lot more about Canada now than he did just a few years ago.
“There’s is so much about this country more than just the weather.”
LONDON—British police say that armed officers are searching a home in a London suburb and evacuating neighbours as a precaution as part of the investigation into the subway blast.
Police say the operation is taking place in Sunbury, an area on the southwestern outskirts of the capital and about eight kilometres from London’s Heathrow Airport.
Police said cordons were put in place around the neighbourhood to clear the area for police.
Police earlier Saturday arrested an 18-year-old suspect in the port of Dover and are hoping to gather information from the suspect in custody. Police said no further arrests have been made.
The fast-moving inquiry into the subway blast that wounded 29 people has shifted to Sunbury, on the outskirts of the British capital, where neighbours were evacuated amid the police operation as a precaution.
A no-fly zone was established over the area to keep out small planes and drones as police moved in and police cordons were put in place to keep the public well away.
No details about the police search were released, but it came after the arrest of an 18-year-old man who is being held under the Terrorism Act. The man was arrested Saturday morning by Kent police in the port of Dover on the English Channel.
Dover is a major ferry port for travel between Britain and France — and it was not clear if the suspect was trying to board a ferry for France when he was taken into custody.
“We have made a significant arrest in our investigation this morning,” Deputy Assistant Police Commissioner Neil Basu said. But he warned that the investigation was ongoing and the terrorist threat level remains at “critical,” meaning that top British security services believe that another attack is imminent.
Basu’s comments suggested that other dangerous suspects may still be at large.
Police Commissioner Cressida Dick called the arrest “very significant” but said the public should still be vigilant.
The 18-year-old suspect hasn’t been charged or identified. Police say he was being brought to a south London police station for more questioning. Police haven’t said if he is suspected of planting the bomb or of playing a supporting role in a possible plot.
Authorities had increased Britain’s terrorism threat level to “critical” late Friday — the highest possible level — after a bomb partially exploded on a subway train during the morning rush hour.
Police are combing through closed-circuit TV images and have extensively studied the remains of the explosive device. Images from inside the subway car showed that it was contained in a bucket with wires hanging out of it and concealed in a plastic shopping bag.
The train hit by the bomber at Parsons Green station in southwest London had video cameras in each car, and the London Underground network has thousands of cameras at the entrances to stations and along its labyrinth of subterranean and aboveground passageways.
Officials have hinted there may be more than one person involved, but haven’t released details in what is termed an ongoing and covert inquiry.
Prime Minister Theresa May said raising the threat level to its highest point was a “proportionate and sensible step.” Police called on the public to be vigilant.
The soldiers will add to the armed police presence Saturday at public places to deter further attacks.
The bomb went off around 8:20 a.m. Friday as the District Line train, carrying commuters from the suburbs — including many school children — was at the Parsons Green station. In all, 29 people were wounded, some with burns, but none of the injuries were believed to be life-threatening.
The station was reopened Saturday, officials said, restoring some normalcy to London’s transport network after a day of severe disruption. There was no sign of panic among Londoners and the weekend life of the multicultural city continued undeterred by the raised threat level.
Officials said the bomb was intended to do grave harm to commuters. Analysts said the carnage would have been far worse had the entire device exploded.
“They were really lucky with this one. It could have really become much worse,” said terrorism specialist Magnus Ranstorp of the Swedish Defence University.
Daesh, also known as ISIS, claimed responsibility for the attack, which it said was carried out by an affiliated unit.
Britain has endured four other attacks this year, which have killed a total of 36 people. The other attacks in London — near Parliament, on London Bridge and near a mosque in Finsbury Park in north London — used vehicles and knives.
In addition, a suicide bomber struck a packed concert hall in Manchester in northern England, killing 22 people. That attack in May also briefly caused the threat level to be set at “critical.”
A series of Star stories has raised questions about how Metrolinx, an arms-length agency of the provincial government, approved a new GO Transit station in the transportation minister’s riding last year, despite internal reports that suggested it shouldn’t be built.
Today we take a closer look at the Kirby GO station:
What is the Kirby project?
Located in an area largely surrounded by natural spaces and farmland in the City of Vaughan, Kirby would cost an estimated $100 million to build. The site is roughly 10 kilometres north of the Toronto border on GO’s Barrie line, in Liberal Minister Steven Del Duca’s riding of Vaughan.
Why is Metrolinx building new GO stations?
As part of a $13.5-billion expansion of the GO Transit network, known as regional express rail (RER), Metrolinx plans to quadruple the number of GO trips in the region by 2025.
Metrolinx is adding new stations as part of this major expansion. The number and location of the stops is crucial to the success of RER; each new station gives a community greater access to transit, but also increases travel times by forcing trains to stop more often. Longer trips could discourage some people from using GO.
What did the analysis of Kirby find?
An initial business case study Metrolinx commissioned concluded that building Kirby would have negative effects on the region; it could increase car traffic, reduce the number of people taking transit, and create more greenhouse gas.
Residential development is slated for the area next to the station, and, by 2031, the projected density could meet the low end of the range to justify a regional rail station, the business case found. But opportunities to add more homes and businesses around the site are limited because the surrounding lands are either outside the city’s urban boundary, occupied by low-density housing, used for agriculture, or lie in the protected Oak Ridges Moraine and Greenbelt.
By 2031, roughly 5,100 trips would be made to and from the stop every day. But most of those would not be new riders. More than half would be people who already use the Maple and King City GO stations, which are both about 3.5 kilometres away.
Meanwhile, the time delay caused by Kirby would induce roughly 3 per cent of “upstream” riders on the Barrie line to take their cars, instead, leading to an overall net loss of 188 riders per day.
“The potential benefits generated by a new station are insufficient to offset the potential negative impact on upstream riders,” concluded a June 2016 draft of the business case.
“Overall, the (business case) found that a Kirby Station does not meet many of Metrolinx objectives for a new station.”
A June 2016 summary report of business cases for all the shortlisted RER stops ranked Kirby last out of seven potential new stations on the Barrie line, and determined it “should not be considered further during the next 10 years.”
How was Kirby approved?
On June 15, 2016, the Metrolinx board met in private and endorsed 10 new GO stops. Informed of the station analyses, they decided not to go ahead with Kirby.
The next day, Del Duca’s ministry sent Metrolinx draft press releases that showed the minister intended to publicly announce that stations the board hadn’t approved were going ahead. They included Kirby and Lawrence East, a Scarborough station that is part of Mayor John Tory’s “SmartTrack” plan.
Metrolinx officials were shocked by the press releases, and initially pushed back against the ministry. However, days later then-CEO of Metrolinx Bruce McCauig sent staff a “proposed revision” to Metrolinx’s recommendations to the board. They now recommended Kirby and Lawrence East should be built.
The board met in public on June 28 and approved the new list of 12 stations, including Kirby and Lawrence East.
What was the public told about how Kirby was approved?
Very little. Metrolinx didn’t publicly acknowledge the private meeting at which the board decided not to proceed with Kirby. Results of the analysis of all the proposed new RER stations, which cost the public about $1 million, were delayed or never released at all.
Metrolinx didn’t publish business cases for any of the potential new stations until almost nine months after the vote. The agency never released the summary report that recommended Kirby not be considered for another decade. Details of how the stations were approved were uncovered last month through a freedom of information request filed by the Star.
What have Metrolinx and Minister Del Duca said about Kirby?
Both Metrolinx and Del Duca say that the business cases are meant to be just one factor in the approval process, which also includes consultation with local communities and collaboration between the ministry and Metrolinx.
Del Duca has said he provided “input” on Metrolinx’s decision, and suggested that while reports found Kirby wouldn’t attract sufficient riders, the station is still justified now because he believes it will eventually have enough demand. “As we have learned, building after-the-fact is almost always more expensive and more disruptive, and leads to more regional gridlock in the interim,” he said in a statement last month.
The minister has responded to accusations that he wanted the station to be approved in order to win votes by pointing out that he plans to run in a different riding in next year’s election.
Metrolinx officials and the minister have declined to answer questions about whether Del Duca’s ministry improperly interfered with the approval process by pressuring the board into changing its decision. This week, the minister said he wasn’t interested in the “historical details” of how the station was approved.
Neither Metrolinx nor the ministry has produced a detailed report that shows Kirby would have positive effect on the GO network.
Metrolinx board chair Rob Prichard has ordered a “thorough and comprehensive” review to determine whether Kirby and Lawrence East should be built. Both Prichard and Del Duca have said Metrolinx won’t proceed with the stations unless the additional analysis finds they’re justified.
However, the review will not examine the role political influence played in the stations’ approval.
On Thursday, Metrolinx said that, from now on, it will publish business-case studies for projects before they go to a vote, and will post the minutes of closed-door board meetings.
An opposition MPP and a transit advocacy group have asked the provincial auditor general to investigate whether Kirby and Lawrence East are a good use of public funds.
Metrolinx plans to enter into contracts for new RER stations next spring.
WINNIPEG—Rookie politician and Indigenous author Wab Kinew is the new leader of the Manitoba NDP who members hope will lead them back to power.
Party members elected Kinew over veteran cabinet minister Steve Ashton as the province’s official Opposition leader in a vote of 728 to 253.
Kinew, who is 35, went into Saturday’s vote with majority support among delegates elected in the province’s 57 constituencies who cast ballots at Saturday’s leadership convention.
“It’s a new day for the NDP and it’s a new day for Manitoba,” Kinew declared to cheers following the vote. “This is a tremendous honour.
“I will take this role tremendously seriously and conduct myself with the greatest honour, integrity and honesty.”
Kinew also went into the vote facing controversy over domestic violence charges that were stayed by the Crown in 2004 and only recently revealed.
The complainant in that case, Tara Hart, went public this week and told The Canadian Press Kinew “flung” her across a room in the apartment they shared, which caused her to suffer severe rug burns.
Kinew said he never hit or threw Hart.
Kinew has also been convicted of assaulting a taxi driver and impaired driving — decade-old offences for which he recently received pardons.
“I am not the man I was,” Kinew told delegates before the vote with his wife, Lisa Monkman by his side.
“To my two sons . . . be better than me. Be good men.”
His only opponent, Ashton, had been using the revelations to try to swing delegates to his side up until the vote. He said Kinew’s history would make it harder for him to lead the Opposition New Democrats into the next election, slated for October 2020.
“If Wab Kinew is elected leader, we run the risk of the next election being about Wab Kinew,” Ashton’s campaign team wrote in an email to party members this week.
But Ashton did not criticize Kinew during his 30-minute speech before votes were cast Saturday. He focused his attention on Premier Brian Pallister’s Tories, who were elected last year.
“Brian, if you’re actually watching ... take a look around because we’re going to make you the next one-term Conservative premier,” Ashton said as he criticized Tory cuts to health care, changes to labour laws and a wage freeze being imposed on public-sector workers.
But Ashton carried political baggage of his own.
This was Ashton’s third run at the party leadership — the 61-year-old ran unsuccessfully for leader in 2009 and 2015 and lost his legislature seat in last year’s election.
He was criticized by the provincial ombudsman for trying to circumvent normal contracting rules to buy flood-proofing equipment from a supplier who was a family friend and campaign donor.
The ombudsman said civil servants were pressured in 2014 to not allow other companies to bid for the contract, an idea that was quashed by the Treasury Board.
Political observers say Kinew’s victory gives the governing Progressive Conservatives a lot of fodder for attack ads. Kinew weathered some controversy in the last election over his criminal history, as well as social media posts, and homophobic and misogynistic rap lyrics.
The New Democrats are choosing a replacement for former premier Greg Selinger, who stepped down after the party lost last year’s election to the Progressive Conservatives and saw 17 years in power come to an end.
The NDP currently holds 13 of the 57 legislature seats.
“I will carry forward the very important role of uniting the Manitoba NDP,” Kinew told the crowd.
Mike Wilson, a Leafs superfan whose basement was filled with more than 1,700 collectibles, has sold most of his massive collection to the Canadian Museum of History in Ottawa.
Most of the memorabilia, which includes hockey photos, paintings, personal letters, trophies, and original contracts, was sold to the national museum for just under $2 million.
Until last month, Wilson’s full collection was stored in his 1,000 square-foot basement. But he and his spouse, Debra Thuet, both knew that once the kids moved out and the couple retired, there would come a day when they would leave their house and downsize.
“I was never going to store it,” Wilson said of the collection. “So we kind of had to move the collection first, before we make any other moves about retirement.”
The couple began chatting with a number of different organizations about four years ago: the Leafs themselves, the Hockey Hall of Fame, and several real estate agents, among others.
Neither of them initially thought of the Canadian Museum of History as a possibility, until one of their curators visited their house several years ago to ask about borrowing a few pieces of the collection for a hockey-related exhibit (called “Hockey: More Than Just A Game”).
As the curator walked around their basement, she asked what the couple planned to do with the collection when they moved. Wilson explained that he and Thuet had been asking themselves that very question.
“And she said: What about us?” Wilson said.
“I said: ‘You guys?’ And Debbie said: ‘You guys?’ And she said: ‘Well, we could do this stuff.”
The museum invited Wilson and Thuet to Ottawa for a tour and discussion a few days later. Wilson said they didn’t just ask to buy the collection — the curators also offered to let Wilson retain curatorial control, naming rights, and an emphasis on preserving and displaying his collection’s history.
“They offered me, pretty much, everything I wanted,” Wilson said.
Wilson said the “collector gene” took hold of him when he was about 7 years old. His dad’s cousin gave him one of defenceman Carl Brewer’s sticks that had been signed by the entire team. Other items followed — cards, Leafs-related clippings from Star Weekly, and other memorabilia.
The last of the sold collection left the couple’s house a month ago.
“When reality sets in and that truck pulls into the driveway, and they start taking stuff off the walls, the reality really starts hitting home,” Wilson said. “So it’s been a pretty emotional ride for me.”
Wilson still owns about 500 items, for the time being. He said that appraisers found it difficult to value the price of the one-of-a-kind items he has, especially contracts. His collection includes those for Tim Horton and George Armstrong.
“If we couldn’t agree on a price, we kept them,” Wilson said.
His biggest concern, he said, wasn’t money. It was the chance for his collection to still be on display to the public and for him to retain some curatorial control.
“The first day Deb and I sat down with them in Ottawa at lunch, they wanted me as a part of it. And that was the biggest thing,” Wilson said.
The actions of the Burmese government against the Rohingya “looks a lot like ethnic cleansing,” says Canada’s foreign affairs minister, who vows to apply pressure on the international community at the UN General Assembly next week.
“This is an issue that matters to me very much. It matters very much to our prime minister,” Chrystia Freeland told a crowd of about 100 people in Matt Cohen Park at a protest on Saturday organized by the Burma Task Force and several Canadian Muslim organizations.
More than 400,000 Rohingya refugees have fled the military crackdown in Burma, a crisis that the United Nations human rights chief has called “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.” The Burmese government has reported that 176 out of 471 Rohingya villages are now abandoned, with satellite images showing stretches of villages burnt to the ground.
Freeland told the crowd that she had spoken to the foreign minister of Bangladesh, as well as former UN General Secretary Kofi Annan.
“Our ambassador is seeking access to the Rakhine State (in western) Burma, so that Canadians can see first hand what is happening,” Freeland said.
Anwar Arkani, president of the Rohingya Association of Canada, was in the crowd — representing one of 34 Rohingya families who have settled in Kitchener-Waterloo in the last two decades. There are 25 Rohingya families in Quebec City, and 20 more in Vancouver. All of them are refugees; most have moved here from refugee camps in Bangladesh.
“We want to mobilize the Canadian government,” Arkani said in an interview. “I’ve been screaming this for many, many years. People only woke up . . . when they saw massive numbers of people crossing the border in just a day.”
Arkani has called his relatives in Burma every day for the past 20 years, since he first moved to Canada as a government-assisted refugee. Last year, in July, his youngest sister and her husband were killed by military forces. Three years before that, his nephews were taken by the same forces — never to be heard from again. Arkani thinks they were buried alive in a mass grave or drowned in a river.
“You assume everyone you know there is dead,” he said. “You’re lucky if you only know who’s alive.”
Ethnic Rohingya have long faced discrimination in Burma and are denied citizenship, even though many families have lived there for generations.
Habibur Rahman, a teacher who has served one of the refugee camps in Bangladesh for over 20 years, told the Star in a phone interview from overseas that he has never witnessed this many people at the camp before.
“There are more people here than there is room to walk,” he said through a translator.
People are sleeping in his classrooms, not studying, anymore.
Speaking from Bangladesh, Rahman said he is worried because of the severe rainy season in the region, with cold temperatures around the corner.
“There’s not enough food or clothes, people are starving,” he said. “People are weak, children are very weak. We don’t have medical supplies.”
“People are coming here with nothing but a horror (story) of their houses burned down,” he added.
One of those people was Sayed Ahmed’s uncle, who fled from Maungdaw in Burma to Bangladesh a week ago with thousands of people. He called Ahmed with Rahman’s phone.
“He told me that they don’t feel safe anymore in his own country,” said Ahmed, a longtime resident of Kitchener-Waterloo, who hasn’t seen his Burmese relatives since he moved to Canada in 2006.
“He said that people are running for their lives. Whoever is left behind are burned in fire.”
In the crowd were several other politicians, including MPs Rob Oliphant (Don Valley East), Salma Zahid (Scarborough Centre), Michael Levitt (York Centre) and Ali Ehsassi (Willowdale); and city councillors Kristyn Wong-Tam and Neethan Shan.
“This is a Canadian issue,” Oliphant said, to strong applause from the crowd.
Oliphant promised that the Rohingya crisis would be the first issue that parliament would tackle when it goes back into session next week.
Another grassroots rally gathered at the Legislative Assembly Grounds at Queen’s Park to also call for the end of the “genocide” of the Rohingya. Protests are also set to take place in Ottawa and Edmonton on Sunday.
WASHINGTON—A European official said Saturday that the Trump administration has softened its stance on the Paris climate agreement and may not completely withdraw from it after all.
But the White House quickly rebutted the report.
“There has been no change in the United States’ position on the Paris agreement,” said Lindsay Walters, a White House spokesperson. “As the president has made abundantly clear, the United States is withdrawing unless we can re-enter on terms that are more favourable to our country.”
At a ministerial summit in Montreal, where the United States was an observer, the European Union’s top climate official said the Trump administration had backed away from its announcement in June that it was abandoning the 2015 agreement.
The U.S. “stated that they will not renegotiate the Paris accord, but they try to review the terms on which they could be engaged under this agreement,” said Miguel Arias Canete.
It was not immediately clear how far that statement would go. Trump, when announcing his decision to withdraw, was adamant about the U.S. ignoring goals on limiting greenhouse gas emissions and other elements believed to contribute to global warming.
At the time, it was seen as another abrogation of the United States’ pre-eminent role as a global leader.
But Trump argued that the deal was bad for U.S. businesses and that it made Washington foot too much of the cost.
Global warming is an issue with renewed political currency after Hurricane Harvey left epic floods in Houston and the Gulf Coast, and Hurricane Irma devastated parts of the Caribbean and left millions in Florida without power. Scientists say warmer waters may have intensified the force of the storms.
A bullet-riddled painting of Justin Bieber has gone missing, and perhaps stolen, after making its debut at a Toronto International Film Festival event last week.
Viktor Mitic, known for shooting a gun at his paintings, said he was notified early last week that his artwork, appraised at $18,000, is missing from the Campbell House Museum at Queen St. W. and University Ave.
“I got the email and I was like, ‘What the . . . ? Was it stolen by Bieber fans or something?’ I almost thought it was a joke,” the Toronto artist said.
He said he had about 10 pieces in the week-long TIFF exhibit and that he was told on Tuesday that “Green, shot up portrait of Justin Bieber” was missing as there was initial confusion about who moved it.
Mitic said he’s been in touch with Campbell House, as well as the co-producers of the event, Aujla Inc. and Mongrel Media, whom he said have been “very helpful.” But as of Saturday, his painting hasn’t been found.
Mitic said he’s “more interested than upset” his artwork disappeared since the event had hundreds of attendees monitored by security. He’s also curious as to how no one noticed it went missing because of the size of the painting, which is 30 by 40 inches.
“I think this is just weird. It’s not the biggest painting but it is quite big, so this person is like a Houdini to have taken it and not been caught,” he said.
Raji Aujla, artistic director of Aujla Inc., and who got Mitic in touch with Campbell House, told the Star that a police report was filed Friday.
“We take so many precautions to secure the site,” she said. “So for this to happen is startling and we are really working on getting to the bottom of what happened.”
Toronto police Const. Caroline de Kloet confirmed that police were notified Friday and that they’re still trying to gather more information.
Aujla believes the painting was moved either on Sept. 9 or 10. She said she was told by a security company representative that a guard at the event spotted someone with a painting at the intersection of Queen St. W. and University Ave. and they were questioned but let go.
Aujla said it’s still not clear who the person was, or if it was Mitic’s painting.
“This whole situation is just very confusing and we’re all so startled by it. But police said they’re currently trying to access the security cameras so we can find out more.”
This is the first time Mitic’s Bieber painting has been in an exhibit. He created it in 2011 when he thought Bieber was a rising star and was “all over the place.”
“At that time it was like either people loved him or hated him — almost like they wanted to shoot him down.”
Mitic, 47, decided now was the time to show the piece to the public because he thinks Bieber has become a major celebrity and an icon.
He has been shooting bullets into his paintings since 2007 because he was interested in how people view weapons, and the divided reaction to it being incorporated into artwork.
Mitic said this is the first time a painting of his has gone missing.
“I’m upset it is gone but these things happen, things go missing and get stolen. I’ve had bikes of mine stolen about 10 times before. These things just happen.”
TOKYO—The anti-missile batteries deployed on the sprawling grounds of the Japanese defence ministry are a stark reminder that here, the dispute with North Korea goes beyond bombast and rhetoric.
These PAC-3 portable batteries are a version of the Patriot missiles deployed against Iraqi Scuds during the Gulf War, upgraded to defend against ballistic missiles, the kind that North Korea is now believed to have in its arsenal.
The batteries are meant to protect this sprawling city, one part of a defensive system to guard the country against anything fired from its erratic and provocative regional neighbour — a system that Japan is under pressure to upgrade in the face of North Korea’s increasingly capable missile and weapons technologies.
Experts say the chances of an actual attack are low, but North Korea’s stepped-up weapons testing — including Friday’s missile launch — and Washington’s fiery response has put many on edge here, saying the threat is now at a new level.
Ryoichi Oriki, a retired general who headed Japan’s self-defence forces, says the risk is “unprecedented.”
“It’s really a critical time of crisis on the Korean peninsula,” said Oriki, who now serves as an executive adviser at Fujitsu.
“North Korea’s missile technology has advanced. They can achieve longer range now and they can launch a missile anywhere now. They can even place a nuclear warhead — perhaps they have the technology now. Those changes are significant and those pose serious threats, not only to East Asia,” he told the Star during an interview in his Tokyo office prior to the most recent missile launch.
Those concerns were driven home anew Friday as Japanese residents woke to word of yet another North Korean test that sent a missile arcing high over their country’s northern island of Hokkaido.
Residents in the region were warned to take shelter while in Tokyo politicians protested North Korea’s continued provocations.
“It is totally unacceptable that North Korea has once again conducted such an outrageous act,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters. “We have to make North Korea understand that if it continues along this path, it will not have a bright future.”
It was a repeat of a test in August that sent a missile on a similar flight path over Hokkaido before splashing down in the northern Pacific.
And like that test — conducted with no warning — this most recent missile launch sparked civil defence warnings, normally reserved for earthquakes and tsunamis, telling Japanese residents near the flight path to take cover.
Just hours before the launch, North Korean had threatened to sink Japan. It was typical sabre-rattling from Pyongyang. But behind that bombast, an increasingly sophisticated weapons program has been taking shape.
“We cannot deny their technological advancements,” Ryusuke Wakahoi, deputy director, strategic intelligence analysis division in Japan’s defence ministry.
Friday’s missile launch was its farthest yet. And its Sept. 3 nuclear test was its biggest to date.
“We see the technical maturity of their technologies. They may be able now to have a smaller nuclear warhead which can be mounted on the missile,” he told the Star, speaking through an interpreter.
“Based on these facts, we understand that North Korea’s threat is immediate and at a grave level,” Wakahoi said.
Until recently, Canadians tended to view the provocations of the North Korean regime as a regional problem. That perception is changing.
MPs heard this week that it’s only a matter of time before North Korea has developed a nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missile able to reach North America.
While the Kim Jong Un’s regime poses a “grave threat” to global security, for now there is no direct threat to Canada, federal officials told a defence committee meeting on Thursday.
“On the contrary in recent contacts with the North Korean government . . . the indications were that they perceive Canada as a peaceful and indeed a friendly country,” Mark Gwozdecky, assistant deputy minister, international security and political affairs at Global Affairs Canada, told the committee.
That might be cold comfort given the blunt warning that the U.S. is under no obligation to defend Canada against an incoming missile — errant or deliberate — that might be headed for its northern neighbour.
“We’re being told . . . that the extant U.S. policy is not to defend Canada,” said, Lt.-Gen. Pierre St-Amand, the Canadian officer who serves as deputy commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command.
Whether the U.S. would intercept a missile inbound to Canada is a decision that would be made by the Americans “in the heat of the moment,” he said.
While North Korea is an isolated regime, cloaked in secrecy, experts say there’s no mystery in its motives to develop advanced weapons.
“We should take what they say quite literally. They want to be accepted as a nuclear weapons state,” said Akihiko Tanaka, president of Tokyo’s National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies.
“I think they believe acquiring that status will guarantee the survival of the regime.”
Having nuclear capabilities and the missiles able to strike the United States resets the balance of power with Washington and helps keep his regime in place, experts say.
“I don’t believe Kim Jong Un is interested in actually using nuclear weapons but his ultimate goal is establishing this system of having ICBM and nuclear weapons so he could show them as deterrence,” Oriki said.
That viewed is echoed in Canada, too, where officials say North Korea is motivated by “its desire to survive.
“While their rhetoric is colourful and their behaviour occasionally strikes us as peculiar, they’re no fools and they understand the consequences of that kind of an action,” Stephen Burt, assistant chief of defence intelligence, Canadian Forces Intelligence Command, told MPs in Ottawa.
Still, U.S. President Donald Trump has openly talked of war with North Korea, vowing at one stage that threats from the isolated regime would be met with “fire and the fury like the world has never seen.”
And he has warned that, “all options are on the table.”
Here in Japan, views are divided on Washington’s tougher tone.
“The attention that the Trump administration gives to the North Korea issue is, I think, positive,” Tanaka said.
“What was called the strategic patience by the previous administration of the United States virtually allowed North Korea to do whatever it likes,” he told the Star in his university office.
Others though fret that Trump’s heated rhetoric is now the wild card equation.
“From the period of Bill Clinton to Bush junior to Obama, whatever the rhetoric was, the U.S. shared that this situation must be resolved by peaceable means,” said Hiroshi Nakanishi, dean of the School of Government at Kyoto University.
“The biggest change is that the rhetoric and the attitude of the Trump administration . . . (is) talking openly about the military options,” he said in his university office.
“That makes the confrontation rather different for us.”
Canada is among those pressing for diplomatic efforts to resolve tensions, warning that heated rhetoric could cause events to spin out of control.
“Currently, the risk is significant that misinterpretation of intent or miscalculation could lead to an escalation, including military conflict,” Gwozdecky told the Commons’ defence committee.
And he warned that if such a conflict erupts, thousands could die “in a matter of minutes.”
Experts shudder at the prospect of Western militaries attempting to strike at North Korea, saying the cost of such a move would be horrific.
This week, the United Nations further tightened sanctions on North Korea, part of a continuing effort to use economic pressures to force the regime to comply with international orders to curb its weapons programs.
And yet the country has seemingly been able to defy past sanctions to continue weapons development at an ever-increasing pace, raising questions how North Korea is able to skirt barriers.
Tanaka said Canada and other Western nations can assist by helping developing nations that still trade with North Korea abide by sanctions.
“In many developing countries, the export control of sensitive issues is generally very, very lax,” he said. “We might co-operate to help them to make export controls more effective.”
But tightening sanctions carries its own risks. By cracking down on Chinese companies that trade with North Korea, Washington risks upsetting leaders in Beijing. “To kill one dragon, maybe we are producing another dragon,” Nakanishi said.
And the economic pain could force North Korea further into a corner, he said. “The problem is that all the options are lousy, to say the least.”