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    Transgender athlete Aaron Stewart is competing in the Invictus Games for the third time — but this is his first as a male.

    The retired army sergeant from Missouri will be among 550 ill, injured or wounded servicemen and women from 17 nations who will take part in 12 adaptive sports over the next week in Toronto.

    Discharged from the army in January 2015 due to a serious injury suffered earlier during a deployment to Kuwait, Stewart immediately began taking steps to change his identity and appearance — he had his breasts removed, had a hysterectomy, began hormone shots and legally changed his name from Bethany Erin Stewart to Aaron Edward Stewart.

    As a transgender athlete, Stewart, who specializes in swimming and cycling and has won eight Invictus medals including two golds, will be competing in Toronto against other servicemen at a time of heated debate in the U.S. over whether transgender people should even be allowed to serve their country.

    U.S. President Donald Trump ignited a storm of controversy in July when he tweeted he was reinstating a ban on transgender individuals in the military. He cited medical costs and “disruption” in the military as his reasons.

    The move would reverse a policy — announced under former U.S. president Barack Obama and still under final review — that would allow them to serve openly. Transgender personnel, of whom there are 1,320 to 6,630 active members, according to a RAND study, remain in the U.S. military while the matter is being studied.

    Stewart calls Trump’s ban “unjust.”

    “As long as you can perform your job, it’s nobody’s business,” Stewart, 33, says in a lengthy phone interview from Missouri before setting out for Toronto. He agreed to speak to the Star before the Games got underway because he didn’t want to be constrained by spokespeople for the event, especially given his views on Trump’s transgender ban.

    “Because you identify as a male when you were born female . . . we can’t die for (our) country. My country says you’re not good enough for that. It’s insulting.”

    Stewart says that while serving as a female in the army there were fellow soldiers and some at higher ranks who knew he wanted to transition to a male, and had no problem with it.

    “I have friends in the military who are transgender. They have awards, decorations, they’re pilots . . . I just don’t see how (being transgender) has any effect on their ability to do their job.”

    Stewart wants to share his story so that other transgender individuals — in the military and otherwise — can be inspired by how he overcame adversity.

    He was born a she, in Springfield, Mo., population 159,000, the third-largest city in the “Bible Belt” state. Stewart struggled with his identity, but knew that voicing his feelings was taboo.

    During the interview, Stewart shied away from revealing too much about his parents, except to say he hasn’t spoken to them in several years. They live only 20 minutes away.

    He’s also estranged from his sister, but close to his brother.

    “I was home-schooled,” Stewart recalls of his sheltered upbringing, “and I wasn’t allowed anywhere except the church, basically.” His family switched churches several times, bouncing from Baptist, to Assemblies of God, non-denominational, to inter-denominational “whatever the flavour of the month was,” he says.

    Though he was a girl named Bethany, wearing his hair in pigtails as a child and polishing his fingernails as a teenager, he was uncomfortable in that skin.

    “I’ve always known since a young age that I was not who I wanted to be. Nothing fit how I felt,” Stewart says.

    Around the time he turned 20, prompted by the horror of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the memory of his great-grandfather who served in the Second World War, Stewart decided to enlist.

    “I’m proud to be an American, and as part of being American it was my duty to serve.”

    He joined the air force in 2004, doing basic training in San Antonio, Texas. He later moved to Gulfport, Miss., to study air traffic control.

    It was there that a female trainee began to suspect Stewart and a group of other women in the base’s living quarters were lesbians, and complained to higher-ups.

    “I had short hair. I guess I looked like a lesbian,” he recalls.

    This was under the Clinton administration’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which banned openly gay and lesbian individuals from serving in the military. (Canada’s armed forces lifted its ban on transgender and gay members in 1992.)

    As many as 20 women were brought in for questioning, but not told why, Stewart recalls. “We were told . . . not to talk to each other about the matter.”

    Roughly a month later, after an agonizing wait, lawyers told the women they were under investigation for violating the “don’t ask” policy.

    Stewart denied the accusations. He had his dream career and didn’t want to lose it.

    He had the choice of fighting the case before a military board of discipline, but losing would mean a dishonourable discharge and the risk of jail time, his lawyer told him. The other option was not fighting the case and accepting an honourable discharge, which Stewart did, in August 2005, as airman, first-class.

    For the next two years Stewart petitioned the government to get back into the armed forces.In 2007, he was successful, but there were conditions. Still living as a female, Stewart was told by an army recruiter that he had to sign a waiver promising to marry a man, and set a wedding date.

    Stewart chuckles now at the absurdity of such a pledge. “Looking back it’s amusing, but it’s also sad that it had to come to that. That you had to fight that hard to serve your country,” he says.

    A close friend promised to stand in as “husband” but there was no wedding in the end. “Once I got approval to join the army — I swore in, took my oath — it wasn’t necessary to marry. No one followed up to ensure the marriage happened,” Stewart says.

    In 2009, Stewart married a woman he met in New York, and the couple lived happily for a time. He was stationed in Kansas and lived with his wife in Missouri during his time off. “(We) didn’t look like a transgender couple or heterosexual couple because I hadn’t been physically able to move forward with the changes (to a male).”

    His wife knew about his gender identity issues and was very supportive, he says.

    Stewart was eventually promoted to sergeant before being deployed to Kuwait in 2010. While there, he seriously injured his back while moving equipment. The army wasn’t able to treat him properly in the field, so he was flown home in 2011, a devastating blow given how hard he’d fought to get back into the armed forces. He was sent to Utah to recover in a warrior transition program.

    By this time, his marriage had ended — the separation during his assignments away hindered the relationship, Stewart says — and he was suffering emotionally and mentally.

    “I had a lot of depression and anxiety. I didn’t handle the pain from my injury well. They said I couldn’t stay in the military because my injury meant I wasn’t deployable. I was of no value to the army. So, for the second time in a short number of years, I saw my military career ending. It was something I fought so hard for, so it was devastating.”

    Despondent, he attempted suicide in July 2012, swallowing a combination of pills.

    Staff Sgt. Leonard Cyre, another soldier in the transition unit, found Stewart passed out and managed to keep him alive until a nurse and ambulance arrived.

    Stewart remained in a coma for several days before regaining consciousness. He recovered, and was stationed back in Kansas to continue the warrior transition program when his command asked for volunteers to participate in an upcoming competition in Las Vegas involving adaptive sports.

    In 2014, Stewart competed in the Air Force Trials in Vegas and Army Trials in New York, the inaugural Invictus Games in the U.K. and the Warrior Games in Colorado. He performed well at all the competitions, including Invictus U.K. where he participated in recumbent cycling and swimming, taking two golds in cycling. At the 2016 Invictus Games in Orlando, Fla., Stewart captured two silver medals in cycling and four swimming medals — three silver, one bronze.

    The bike Stewart uses in cycling allows him to sit reclined, easing pressure on his back and shoulder. In swimming he adapts his moves to accommodate his injury.

    Whenever he competes, he dedicates his performances to Cyre, the soldier who rescued him and whom Stewart befriended. Cyre died at home five months to the day after Stewart’s attempted suicide.

    Cyre will be in Stewart’s thoughts as he competes in Toronto this week.

    The exact number of transgender athletes to participate in Invictus isn’t known. However, everyone is welcome, says Michael Burns, CEO of the Toronto Games: “The responsibility of the organizing committee is to ensure that all of the competitors, families and guests coming to Toronto feel included, respected and have the finest experience possible that will help them with their healing and recovery.”

    U.S. First Lady Melania Trump will attend the opening ceremonies Saturday, representing her husband who continues to stand by the ban.

    Professor Angela Hattery, director of women and gender studies at George Mason University in Virginia, says the U.S. is “out of step” with most post-industrial societies in terms of dealing with LGBTQ issues.

    “The resistance has come primarily from the religious right. The majority of people in the United States do not identify with the religious right, or ultra-conservative Christian faith, but (these groups) are very vocal,” she says.

    Trump’s ban on transgender personnel in the military doesn’t make sense to her.

    “There are thousands of trans people serving in the military doing their jobs. Why relieve people of their duty when they’re doing what you’re asking them to do — in a job a lot of other people frankly don’t want?” Hattery adds.

    As the controversy over this issue swirls, Stewart, who legally changed his gender last year, is continuing his transition. He self-administers testosterone — one injection every week in the thigh — to maintain normal male levels. He is saving up for the $40,000 he’ll need for surgery to give him a functioning penis, a two-year process.

    He lives in Missouri with his female partner, Emily — they were neighbours as children — and Emily’s daughter. The couple plan to marry in November.

    Stewart, who receives medical retirement payments, is planning to go to school to study radiation therapy and hopes to find work in that field.

    He is a caring, giving person who has a huge heart and loves people for who they are, says Capt. Kelly Elmlinger, 38, of San Antonio, who met Stewart at an adaptive games competition in New York in 2014.

    Elmlinger, a cancer survivor who lost a leg, will also be participating in Toronto.

    When Stewart was homeless for about two months in 2015 after leaving the army, and was living in his car, Elmlinger took him in.

    “He’s my best friend,” she says.

    Stewart says he’s “proud and excited” to be in his first Invictus Games as a man.

    He anticipates tougher physical rigour given he’s going up against males, and he doesn’t expect to grab as many medals as his previous two Invictus performances.

    “It will be completely different competition for me.”

    It’s the third Invictus Games for this transgender athlete — but his first as a maleIt’s the third Invictus Games for this transgender athlete — but his first as a male

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    After clashing with city staff for years over its controversial Ashbridges Bay lease, Tuggs Inc. is now fighting restaurant giant Cara Operations Ltd., the Star has learned.

    Amid claims and counter-claims in court documents is a demand from Tuggs that Cara immediately close Carters Landing, the popular restaurant Cara first opened in July 2016— with Tuggs’s blessing — on a prime boardwalk spot owned by the city at 1681 Lake Shore Blvd. E.

    But Tuggs cannot take action to evict Carters Landing pending a trial, set for next February, to settle the messy contract dispute, a judge ruled in June.

    It’s the latest twist in a sole-sourced contract that has made headlines for more than a decade and helped trigger a city rule change to prevent a repeat.

    The dispute has also frozen city attempts to negotiate with Tuggs to buy back lease rights to concession and novelty sales in four city parks, something demanded by Beach residents frustrated at having to get Tuggs’s permission, and in some cases pay the company, to hold community and charity events on public land.

    For local city councillor, Mary-Margaret McMahon, the new legal fight is “disappointing.”

    “At this point Beach residents are just keen to get back control of their parkland,” said the Ward 32 Beaches-East York representative.

    George Foulidis and his company Tuggs won a contract in 1986 to build and operate the Boardwalk Cafe at Woodbine Beach Park and summer food concessions at a nearby pool and park.

    In 2007, then-councillor Sandra Bussin convinced her council colleagues to approve a 20-year, sole-sourced extension. City staff advised against the Tuggs-initiated deal but some councillors argued it was necessary to keep a “mom and pop” operation on the site rather than a big fast-food chain.

    City staff, unable to come to terms with Foulidis, brought the lease back to council which, in 2010, voted 15-12 to proceed with it. Tuggs got the main restaurant spot along with concessions at Kew Gardens and D.D. Somerville pool plus exclusive rights to the sale of novelties, food and drinks at four parks — Woodbine Beach, Ashbridges Bay, Kew Gardens and Beaches.

    Carters Landing opened July 1, 2016, alongside a new Foulidis-franchised Tim Hortons. The move angered some in the community because Tuggs had not yet got city permission to reassign the building part of its lease to Cara.

    Last fall council approved the reassignment. Cara was to sublease back to Tuggs the part of the building that holds Foulidis’s Tim Hortons and adjoining Athens Café.

    Council also voted to start negotiations with Tuggs for the city to regain rights over activities in the four parks.

    But court documents reveal the lease reassignment was never signed, the Tuggs-Cara relationship broke down and Tuggs is trying to evict Carters Landing.

    None of the allegations have been tested in court and both sides deny the other’s allegations. Foulidis has not responded to requests for comment. Cara said it could not comment on matters before the courts.

    After Tuggs was unable to get city permission to reassign the lease within an agreed upon time frame, documents state, Tuggs and Cara signed an amended agreement to continue the relationship pending official approval.

    But amid disagreement over several issues Tuggs “abruptly ended” negotiations on a final agreement and ordered Cara out, Cara says.

    The restaurant chain says leaving would cost it the $825,000 it spent transforming a Foulidis seafood restaurant, which had replaced the Boardwalk Café, into Carters Landing, and could cost 110 restaurant staff their jobs.

    Disputes chronicled by both sides in the documents involve proceeds from sponsorships, parking and alcohol sales; the paying of rent — Tuggs suggests Cara failed to pay “in a timely manner or at all” – and who should be the recipient of rent payments given a court order related to Foulidis’s contentious divorce proceedings.

    “Cara has been acting in good faith and was ready, willing and able to close the transaction,” Cara states.

    Tuggs filed a counterclaim, urging the court to allow it to give Cara 10 days’ notice to vacate the site.

    Cara’s “last-minute attempt to appropriate certain right which it has not bargained for,” Tuggs says, and attempts to “fetter” Tugg’s bargaining position with the city for the parks rights, “patently demonstrated that there was no meeting of the minds and therefore no agreement on the fundamental terms,” of the lease reassignment, Tuggs alleges.

    An update from city staff for next week’s meeting of the government management committee says staff tried to talk to Foulidis, on “a number of occasions”, about negotiating a return to city of food, beverage and sponsorship rights for the four parks.

    “Following these conversations, staff have determined that there is no feasibility of negotiating terms acceptable to the city and that further discussions are not warranted,” the update concludes.

    McMahon says her residents would balk at any deal giving Tuggs a portion of proceeds from community events until the company’s lease with the city expires in 2027.

    “We had hoped for a quick and easy agreement and some kind of payment (to Tuggs) and it’s disappointing but not surprising that hasn’t happened,” she said. “I’ll continue to work with the community to try to hold events in a less cost-prohibitive, easier way.”

    Food fight at Ashbridges Bay as restaurant owners battle over prime boardwalk locationFood fight at Ashbridges Bay as restaurant owners battle over prime boardwalk location

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    Dozens of onlookers gathered outside a building in Toronto’s financial district Friday morning hoping to catch a glimpse of Prince Harry as the royal founder of the Invictus Games set the stage for the multi-sport competition that gets underway in the city this weekend.

    The royal, however, appeared determined to keep the focus on the Games, and didn’t stop to interact with fans who cheered and called out to him.

    The Games for wounded and sick soldiers, including current and veteran members of the forces, runs until Sept. 30 and marks the first time Canada hosts the event.

    Read more: It’s the third Invictus Games for this transgender athlete — but his first as a male

    A rookie’s guide to the Invictus Games

    Harry attended a symposium on veterans’ issues Friday morning, arriving at the event under tight security. He smiled as he greeted and posed for photographs with athletes and their families.

    A large group of bystanders gathered to catch a glimpse of the prince as he left the event, letting out a cheer as he walked swiftly by and into a waiting vehicle.

    Adele Eccleston, who is originally from England, was among those who waited to see the royal.

    “I just popped over from across the street just to see Prince Harry and show support for his support of the Invictus Games,” she said. “I think it’s wonderful that he’s taking a stand and supporting the efforts.”

    Some in the crowd, however, said they had hoped to see a bit more of the prince.

    “I wished he would have waved,” said Amanda Shovlin, who took a break from work to join those gathered outside the building.

    “It was very quick, but I am sure he is very busy,” added her friend Melissa Barkley.

    Harry is set to spend time with athletes training for the Games later on Friday.

    On Saturday, Harry will visit Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health before meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Later in the evening he will attend the Games’ opening ceremony at the Air Canada Centre, which will feature performances by Sarah McLachlan, Alessia Cara and the Tenors.

    Harry founded the Invictus Games in 2014 as a way to inspire and motivate wounded soldiers on their paths to recovery.

    At least 550 competitors from 17 countries are slated to compete in 12 sports, including track and field, swimming and, in a first for the Invictus Games, golf.

    Sporting event tickets cost $25 and both opening and closing ceremony tickets start at $60.

    Closing ceremony performers include the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams and Kelly Clarkson.

    The first Invictus Games were held in London, England, in 2014.

    Prince Harry in Toronto setting the stage for Invictus GamesPrince Harry in Toronto setting the stage for Invictus Games

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    A Toronto woman made a brief appearance in court this morning following the death of a child who was left for hours in a hot car Thursday.

    Zeljna Kosovac, 50, is charged with criminal negligence causing death.

    The four-year-old boy died after he was left in a red Hyundai parked near Burnhamthorpe and Mills Rds. for about four hours on a day with a high of 26 C.


    Child dies after being left in car in extreme heat in Etobicoke

    Toronto police said Kosovac was a caregiver for the child.

    Residents of a nearby apartment building told the Star that the boy was found unconscious around 1 p.m. by a superintendent, who smashed in one of the car’s windows to rescue him.

    Paramedics rushed the boy to the hospital in critical condition, but he later died.

    With files from Star staff

    LIVE: Caregiver charged after boy, 4, left in hot car diesLIVE: Caregiver charged after boy, 4, left in hot car diesLIVE: Caregiver charged after boy, 4, left in hot car diesLIVE: Caregiver charged after boy, 4, left in hot car dies

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    The woman hired to help city hall improve its relations with Indigenous communities has resigned and filed a human rights complaint against the city, Metro has learned.

    Lindsay Kretschmer, a Mohawk Wolf Clan member, was hired last March as a full-time Indigenous Affairs consultant in the city’s Equity, Diversity and Human Rights division. Part of her job was to liaise with local Indigenous communities and provide the city with expert policy advice, in line with the city’s efforts to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report.

    But her stint was short-lived. In early July, Kretschmer tendered her resignation over what she calls “disrespectful” treatment of the Indigenous file. She has since filed a complaint at the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, claiming the city violated her right to practise smudging, an Indigenous ceremony that involves burning sacred medicines.

    Read more:The ‘Indigenization’ of Toronto city hall

    “I waited for three months but I was never allowed to smudge in that building,” she said. She wanted Indigenous people to have a specific room at city hall where smudging can be performed, like the prayer/meditation room where members of any religion can pray.

    City spokesperson Wynna Brown did not discuss specifics of the case with Metro but wrote in an email that the city has responded to Kretschmer’s application and “looks forward to the opportunity to present its case through the tribunal process.”

    Kretschmer said she was later told she could smudge inside one of the managers’ offices — a response she regarded as “not dignified” because of the lack of privacy and personal space. One colleague even suggested she smudge outside.

    “In 2017 you’re forbidding me from practising my culture. That’s essentially a repeat of colonization behaviour,” she said. “It’s just really bad to work there as an Indigenous person.”

    Mayor John Tory has committed to increasing Indigenous presence at city hall, and the hiring of Kretchmer was seen as the first step. The city recently started acknowledging Toronto’s position on traditional Indigenous land at council and committee meetings. Indigenous flags fly on a permanent basis, and there’s a plan to give councillors and staff cultural competency training.

    Tory’s spokesperson Don Peat referred Metro to strategic communications for answers on the case, adding the mayor “is committed to continuing to build positive relationships with Toronto’s Indigenous communities. He recognizes there is still much work to be done.”

    At its meeting next Monday, the Aboriginal Affairs Committee will discuss the recruitment of a new consultant as they continue to work on the creation of an Aboriginal Office at city hall.

    Kretschmer now believes that’s all “glamour” because there’s no concrete plan to promote Indigenous communities across the city. She says her hiring was just for show.

    “It was a token position to make themselves look good, but they are doing nothing on the Indigenous file,” she said, adding there’s no Indigenous employment strategy and no budget to train staff.

    “They are very far behind on that file. People are very upset with them. They’ve failed in so many ways it’s not even funny.”

    Toronto’s Indigenous consultant resigns, files human rights complaintToronto’s Indigenous consultant resigns, files human rights complaint

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    It was just another day on Toronto streets until Nigel Fernandes felt a wave of hot coffee sting his face.

    “I was just shocked, and glad I was wearing my sunglasses,” says the parking enforcement officer, later treated for burns on his cheeks.

    Writing down the plate of the fleeing car, he realized he had just ticketed it several blocks away. The 30-ish looking driver, who had yelled at him from inside the car, had found him and crouched waiting, coffee in hand.

    “I’ve had my foot run over, things have been thrown at me; it’s not a job for the faint-hearted,” says Fernandes, 40, who, for a decade, has affixed yellow tickets to illegally parked vehicles in the city’s west end.

    Nobody smiles while getting dinged. Toronto’s 325 frontline parking officers have seen, heard and sometimes felt it all.

    Each month since the start of 2015, an average of more than five Toronto parking officers have suffered physical attack or significant verbal threat, according to incident reports reviewed by the Star.

    Motorists, furious at fines often $30 or $60, routinely chase or drive at officers; run over their feet; threaten to kill them; spit in their faces; strike them with bumpers or side mirrors as the motorists try to drive away; reverse into them; shove, punch, slap and grab them, and throw water bottles, cigarettes, and, in one case, a “hard cookie.”

    A man headbutted a female parking officer in the nose.

    Two officers suffered headaches after handheld lasers were shone in their eyes.

    Fernandes is not alone in getting a hot coffee bath.

    Parking ticket rage, completely out of proportion to relatively minor fines, and triggering the risk of arrest and far worse punishment, is a mystery even to the man who heads Toronto police’s parking enforcement unit, 18-year veteran Brian Moniz.

    “I’ve had police officers who sometimes issue parking tickets, tell me that that makes people much angrier than when they ticket them for moving offences,” such as speeding, with bigger fines and even demerit points, Moniz says. “I honestly don’t understand it.

    “I just don’t know why that is.”

    Confrontation has always been a hazard of parking enforcement, but the severity of it is escalating, Moniz adds.

    In response his office is publicizing attacks and arrests, to let motorists know they are taken seriously. Next month, it will start new training for all parking officers on how to deal with irate drivers. They are peace officers but carry no weapons, so the focus is on defusing potentially dangerous situations.

    Parking enforcement officer Kyle Ashley, well known for his work ticketing bike-lane invaders, has had to call police three times for ticket-related attacks in less than four years on the job.

    The first time, just three months after he started the job, was at the hands of a midwife who came running out of a Starbucks in the Beach as he wrote a ticket.

    “She pushed me into a live lane of traffic and then got in her car, started it, and, with no care for me being there, drove forward,” Ashley says. “She decided she was going to drive through, so she drove over both my feet and stopped with her car on one foot.”

    Java in hand, she told him she was late delivering a baby and drove off.

    While she was being charged with offences including assaulting a peace officer, she said to Ashley: “You guys should understand, coffee is like gold in our business,” referring to midwives’ marathon work days.

    On a separate occasion, also in the Beach, a father and son ran out of a Tim Hortons, jumped into a car and drove straight into Ashley. “I was holding onto the hood of his car for about two blocks.” They were, to Ashley’s knowledge, never caught.

    “It’s a sense of entitlement: ‘I can stop at Starbucks. I can stop to pick people up, and it doesn’t matter what you say,’ ” Ashley says of the reason for such aggression. “There has been a basic disrespect for the position, a culture of the way people view parking enforcement.”

    A reason the confrontations are getting worse, officers say, is the end of the days when parking wardens would often knock on the window of an occupied car and simply tell the driver to move on.

    Mayor John Tory’s continuing traffic blitz is part of the reason, coupled with a new appeal system in which tickets can be mailed to motorists even if they drive away.

    Ashley has never been called to testify against an abusive driver and is dismayed none of those who have attacked him have received a criminal record.

    First-time offenders often escape with a peace bond: a promise to behave. Some are forced to write an apology. A man who used his fist to shove a ticket into Ashley’s vest, and was on probation for another assault, got 10 hours’ community service.

    “It makes me feel like my work as a civil servant is not valued,” Ashley says. “People should respect the laws and the authority, rather than the authority fearing the people.”

    Emilie Smith, a spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, said in an email that Crown counsel who prosecute, and sometimes withdraw, Criminal Code charges, screen them with an eye to the “reasonable prospect of conviction” and “public interest.”

    Sentencing judges, she added, consider the nature of the offence, the offender’s circumstances, sentencing principles in the Criminal Code, relevant case law and input from Crown and defence lawyers.

    The man who threw hot coffee into Fernandes’s face got one year probation and an order to write him an apology.

    “He said he’s not that type of person; it was the heat of the moment,” Fernandes says. “People are angry at the uniform, but they don’t realize they are throwing coffee at, or hitting, a person who has a family, children, parents, and, at the end of the day, we are just doing our jobs.

    “If you just focus on where your vehicle is parked, you wouldn’t have an issue with us.”

    Fists, spittle, hot coffee . . . all in a day's work for a Toronto parking officerFists, spittle, hot coffee . . . all in a day's work for a Toronto parking officer

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    MEXICO CITY—A strong new earthquake shook Mexico on Saturday, causing new alarm in a country reeling from two yet-more-powerful quakes this month that have killed nearly 400 people.

    The U.S. Geological Survey said the new, magnitude 6.1 temblor was centred about 18 kilometres south-southeast of Matias Romero in the state of Oaxaca, which was the region most battered by a magnitude 8.1 quake on Sept. 7.

    It was among thousands of aftershocks recorded in the wake of that earlier quake, the most powerful to hit Mexico in 32 years, which killed at least 90 people.

    There were some early reports of damage in Oaxaca. Milenio TV broadcast images of a bridge that partially collapsed.

    Bettina Cruz, a resident of Juchitan, Oaxaca, said by phone with her voice still shaking that the new quake felt “horrible.”

    “Homes that were still standing just fell down,” Cruz said. “It’s hard. We are all in the streets.”

    Read more: Death toll rises in Mexico after powerful earthquake: ‘The disaster is potentially widespread’

    Families of missing in Mexico earthquake still hold out hope as rescue operations continue

    Why Mexico is so vulnerable to earthquakes

    Cruz belongs to a social collective and said that when the new shaking began, she was riding in a truck carrying supplies to victims of the earlier quake.

    Nataniel Hernandez said by phone from Tonala, in the southern state of Chiapas, which was also hit hard by the earlier quake, that it was one of the strongest movements he has felt since then.

    “Since Sept. 7 it has not stopped shaking,” Hernandez.

    U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Paul Caruso said the new temblor was an aftershock of the 8.1 quake, and after a jolt of that size even buildings left standing can be more vulnerable.

    “So a smaller earthquake can cause the damaged buildings to fail,” Caruso said.

    Buildings and street signs swayed and seismic alarms sounded in Mexico City, prompting people with fresh memories of Tuesday’s magnitude 7.1 temblor that has killed at least 295 across the region to flee homes and hotels. Some were in tears.

    Alejandra Castellanos was on the second floor of a hotel in a central neighbourhood and ran down the stairs and outside with her husband.

    “I was frightened because I thought, not again!” Castellanos said.

    Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera told Milenio TV there were “no new developments” due to the quake, though he acknowledged that it provoked “some crises of nerves” among capital residents.

    At the site of an office building that collapsed Tuesday and where an around-the-clock search for survivors was still ongoing, rescuers briefly evacuated from atop the pile of rubble before returning to work.

    As rescue operations stretched into Day 5, residents throughout the capital have held out hope that dozens still missing might be found alive. More than half the dead — 157 — perished in the capital, while another 73 died in the state of Morelos, 45 in Puebla, 13 in Mexico State, six in Guerrero and one in Oaxaca.

    Along a 60-foot stretch of a bike lane in Mexico City, families huddled under tarps and donated blankets, awaiting word of loved ones trapped in the four-story-high pile of rubble behind them.

    “There are moments when you feel like you’re breaking down,” said Patricia Fernandez Romero, who was waiting Friday for word on the fate of her 27-year-old son. “And there are moments when you’re a little calmer. . . . They are all moments that you wouldn’t wish on anyone.”

    Families have been sleeping in tents, accepting food and coffee from strangers, people have organized to present a united front to authorities, who they pressed ceaselessly for information.

    They were told that water and food had been passed along to at least some of those trapped inside. On Friday morning, after hours of inactivity blamed on rain, rescuers were readying to re-enter the site, joined by teams from Japan and Israel. Fernandez said officials told them they knew where people were trapped on the fourth floor.

    It’s the moments between those bits of information that torment the families.

    “It’s that you get to a point when you’re so tense, when they don’t come out to give us information,” she said. “It’s so infuriating.”

    New 6.1-magnitude earthquake shakes already jittery MexicoNew 6.1-magnitude earthquake shakes already jittery Mexico

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    A child, a little boy, strapped into his protective car seat.

    A parked red Hyundai, all the windows rolled up, baking in the Indian summer heat.

    No air, no escape, no intervention and no rescue in time.

    A tragic, gruesome death.

    A window shattered to reach in, the wail of sirens, the frantic efforts of emergency responders, the race to hospital . . . and then the grim word on Thursday night that the youngster had died.

    Patrick, 3-year-old son of Justina and Dariusz Adamski.

    How could this have happened?

    In broad daylight, at a parking lot behind an Etobicoke condo complex, a vehicle with a toddler inside, left for several hours when temperatures outside hit 26 C.

    He would have been gasping. He surely would have been crying.

    Who could possibly be so careless, so inattentive, so negligent?

    As the hours passed and word spread through Toronto, those were the questions being asked.

    And there was rage.

    Who? And how? And why?

    On Friday morning, a 50-year-old woman shuffled into court, dishevelled in a long grey T-shirt, black leggings, flip-flops. She’d spent the night in custody and was taken to court from 22 Division in a cruiser.

    Zeljana Kosovac has been charged with criminal negligence causing death.

    The nanny.

    The caregiver.

    The individual, neighbours told the Star (this was confirmed by Toronto Police Const. David Hopkinson) who regularly picked up the child in the morning, and, then, it is believed, delivered the boy to a care facility. She’d pick him up again at the end of the day.

    A parent’s worst nightmare — there are many — that so practical and regimented a routine could end in such horror. As so many working parents are forced to do: put their most precious possession into the hands of a trusted other.

    This trusted other spoke not a word aloud in court, conversing only briefly in hushed tones with the duty counsel, her neutral expression frozen in place.

    Mere minutes the proceeding lasted at the College Park courthouse. In “ladies’ court” as it’s known because this is where females charged with an offense, from across the city, are usually brought for first appearance bail hearings.

    A snap of the fingers and it was done.

    Crown and duty counsel jointly recommended Kosovac should be released on her own recognizance, on $5,000 surety, no deposit required, with only the most minor of conditions attached: contact with the child’s parents prohibited, relinquishing of her passport within 12 hours of release. (The hearing was otherwise under a publication ban.)

    But there were oddities.

    Entirely without precedent, Kosovac was flanked by court constables as she exited the public door of the courtroom, scooting in quick-step down the long corridor, two men struggling to keep up, one presumably a lawyer, the other a fellow who’d been clutching instructions for posting bond, never needed.

    Down to the main floor of the building, out and across the plaza, walking briskly south on Bay Street, trailed all the way by a posse of reporters and TV cameras, then into a cab.

    That was the last that was seen of Kosovac, stone-faced behind dark sunglasses, as the trio was chased by media.

    All studiously ignored the barrage of questions thrown at them and the cameras right up close.

    Information remains scant on the police investigation, but heart-wrenching in what is known.

    Neighbours insist Kosovac was a vigilant care-giver and would never, in her right mind, leave a child unattended. Nobody has an explanation for it.

    The accused owns a unit in the Mill Rd. building, in the Burnhamthorpe Rd. and Renforth Dr. area, where the car was parked, according to mortgage documents found by the Star.

    A relative of the accused told the Star that Kosovac has just come through a difficult, distressing year, during which she lost her husband to cancer, a year ago this weekend.

    Residents of the apartment building told the Star the boy was unconscious when a superintendant smashed in one of the sedan’s windows to rescue him around 1 p.m. Thursday. Leaving a scene strewn with the car seat, a pair of child’s shoes, a toy, paramedics rushed the child to hospital in critical condition but he could not be saved.

    Const. Hopkinson said it’s too early to ascribe the death to a high temperature inside the car, but the case is a stark reminder of the perils of hot vehicles. An autopsy for the boy was scheduled later Friday.

    “We have a very hot start to our fall season,” Hopkinson said. “It’s a horrible reminder . . . why it is so important not to leave kids or pets in a car unattended.”

    As has become so poignantly customary, a makeshift vigil was set up for the boy by the parking lot where he was found. General contractor Roger Reynolds and his co-worker Lisa Taschuk were among those who stopped by to pay their respects yesterday.

    They’d been working in the adjacent building all day Thursday and passed by the lot several times on their way to get coffee and lunch. They didn’t notice anything amiss until the emergency crews arrived.

    “We knew something wasn’t right, with the brigade of emergency vehicles coming down the road,” Taschuk said. “You just don’t expect something like this to happen, but every year it seems to happen.”

    “The baby seat was sitting right here,” Reynolds said, gesturing to the sidewalk, steps away from the memorial.

    “When I got home, I hugged my 4-year-old and just kept hugging. I didn’t sleep last night.

    “I keep asking myself, could I do something like that?”

    Laying four white roses at the makeshift shrine and holding her 8-month-old son in her arms, Helen Ksiazek wept.

    “I’m overcome with so much sadness this happened. As a mother of a son, it is very upsetting,” she said, kissing her baby’s cheeks and stroking his head.

    Linda Canning and her son walked over from a neighbouring building and laid yellow carnations in between stuffed animals and notes. She’d watched the emergency scene unfold from her balcony on Thursday.

    “I saw that car seat sitting there and it breaks my heart. We keep visiting the vigil because we want the family to know we are thinking of them,” said Canning.

    Larry Armstrong lives across the street. He arrived with a bouquet of flowers and a prayer.

    “It just really hit me. I wish I had a child of my own and I don’t. I just feel so bad for the family.” He added: “I just pray to God he didn’t suffer.”

    Lisa Frenette brought her two young sons to pay their respects at the parking lot. The boys brought a brown stuffed bear and a moose, both stitched with a red maple leaf to place on the growing pile.

    “It’s nice to see that all these people care,” said Frenette. “It’s just really tragic.”

    As someone who lives nearby, Frenette added that it was difficult to think of the time she spent at their home playing with her own children when someone else’s son was suffering not far away.”

    At the dead child’s Mississauga home, the family, who have another son, according to a neighbour, was not to be seen.

    They declined to speak when reached by the Star.

    Their grief is unimaginable, their loss immeasurable.

    Kosovac’s next court appearance is Oct. 16.

    With files from Victoria Gibson, Star Staff and The Canadian Press

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

    Woman charged in child’s gruesome death in hot car released on bail: DiMannoWoman charged in child’s gruesome death in hot car released on bail: DiManno

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    The CSI-style wall created in an office washroom of the mayor of Whitchurch-Stouffville was “vexatious” and “disturbing to staff” and amounted to a “serious incident of workplace harassment,” an ethics probe has found.

    In a highly anticipated report released late Friday afternoon, integrity commissioner Suzanne Craig’s findings say Justin Altmann’s wall — made up of photos of staff, colleagues and members of the public connected by black lines — affected the work environment, and his behaviour toward staff interfered with their ability to do their jobs.

    “The respondent’s conduct in developing the wall created and contributed to an intimidating work environment for the complainant and other employees,” Craig wrote in her 30-page report. “I find that the respondent’s creation of the wall was discreditable conduct that fell below the decorum expected of his office,” she wrote.

    However, Craig also wrote that Altmann “demonstrated an error in judgment” and not a wilful desire to cause harm or breach the town’s code of conduct. Moreover, Craig wrote that his conduct was misplaced but was not carried out in bad faith.

    Read more:

    Stouffville mayor asks for community support as investigation into his CSI-style wall nears its end

    Here’s who’s who on Stouffville mayor’s creepy washroom wall of photos

    Stouffville residents raise alarm over ‘CSI-style’ wall

    Craig, who will present the report to council on Tuesday, has asked council to consider other penalties: asking Altmann for a formal apology; reprimanding Altmann; including an admonition to interact respectfully with staff; using town offices and facilities appropriately, and suspending his pay for 30 days. The maximum penalty under the Municipal Act is to dock an elected official three months’ pay.

    In the report, Altmann said the “purpose of photos and the display on my wall is simply a ‘mind-mapping’ exercise — a method I use to visually organize information.”

    He also added: “Some of these members (of council) have sought to undermine me in my capacity as mayor and impede the mandate for which I was elected, namely to govern council and staff with proper policies and procedures befitting of our municipality. Therefore, it is very possible that the complaint is a further attempt to undermine me personally and professionally,” he said.

    The wall has been taken down.

    The investigation began in March, when Craig was approached by the complainant.

    Craig wrote she only looked at whether Altmann had breached the code of conduct in relation to harassment, discreditable conduct and conduct respecting staff.

    She suggested a complaint of workplace violence be taken by the complainant to police. But in her report she touched on the complaint, writing that Altmann allegedly told one staff member he wanted another’s “head on a platter” and that he “was going to blow up this place.” Craig did not investigate because it was outside the scope of her investigation.

    In her findings, Craig said she relied on interviews, documents and the findings of an independent investigator.

    “Being shown the wall by the respondent with its pictures, clip art, meticulous lines, sheer size over three walls and location in the respondent’s washroom was objectively reasonably vexatious to Staff A who we accept was legitimately shocked and thrown off balance in a negative way,” the investigator wrote.

    “In all the circumstances, the respondent reasonably ought to have known that the wall would be unwelcome to anyone who saw it, particularly an employee,” the investigator wrote. “It clearly had a dramatically negative lasting impact on Staff A that cannot be attributed to the political agenda of the respondent’s detractors.”

    Craig wrote that even if Altmann’s intention was to create a “flow chart that would enable him to present his evidence to the law enforcement authorities to strengthen his position that he was on the receiving end of harassment, intimidation and threats… it is clearly unreasonable to have done so on the walls of a public building, together with photographs of staff, members of council and private citizens and with captions such as ‘you are dead.’ ”

    She also chastised him for breaching the confidentiality of the investigation, when he sent out an email to supporters this month, asking them to submit letters of support to Craig.

    Craig wrote that during her investigation there were a number of allegations she couldn’t look into as they occurred before the town instituted a code of conduct this year.

    A list of them, included in the appendix, are: bringing personal furniture into town offices, changing the position of the video surveillance cameras outside the mayor’s office, and questionable use of the mayoral chains and the mayor’s unpredictable behaviour with staff.

    Stouffville mayor created an intimidating workplace for staff, investigation findsStouffville mayor created an intimidating workplace for staff, investigation finds

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    Mike Trauner has been training hard on the rowing machine in his basement and, after looking at the results from the last Invictus Games, he thinks he’s got a good shot at winning his event in Toronto.

    He’d like to win — everyone likes to be a winner — but at the same time he knows it doesn’t really matter.

    Trauner and the 550 military personnel and veterans from 17 countries competing in Toronto over the next eight days have something much weightier in mind when they take to the pool, track, sport courts and fields.

    “We’re really battling against our own demons,” says the 38-year-old from Pembroke, Ont., who retired from the Canadian forces this year.

    “People aren’t there at the games to earn medals; people are there to overcome their own problems in life.”

    In his case, that’s a pretty long list: 18 surgeries and dying — twice.

    On Dec. 5, 2008, Trauner was with the Canadian forces in Afghanistan on a dawn patrol when he stepped over a berm, heard a pop and found himself flying through the air.

    “I didn’t know what the hell was happening and I landed in this crater the size of my pickup truck.”

    He heard the calls go out over the radio for a helicopter to medivac a double amputee. He didn’t realize they meant him.

    He lost both his legs that day — the left above the knee, the right just below — and doctors very nearly amputated his left hand as well. They lost his vital signs twice before stabilizing him. He has severe damage in both arms, there’s still a chunk of his assault rifle buried deep within his right hand, he has hearing damage, nerve damage and a body full of scars and burns.

    “I can’t remember it all,” he says with a sigh after rhyming off the list of what that explosive device cost him.

    “I have a traumatic brain injury too, but it only affects my short-term memory.”

    He also broke his back in a parachute accident in 2002 — he says he doesn’t notice it anymore because everything else hurts so much more — and was recently found to have diabetes.

    Competing in indoor rowing and road cycling, on a recumbent hand cycle, next week is a chance for Trauner to push against perceived limits and feel part of a Canadian team again.

    “For me, (the Invictus Games) is overcoming the surgeries, overcoming the physical disabilities, overcoming the mental traumas that I had to go through, me and my wife,” he says.

    “If I win, that’s great, if I don’t win, I’m still glad I did it, I’m just happy to be part of it. I know that’s a Canadian answer but it’s true.”

    So much of sport — professional and amateur alike — has become about winning that little leagues and minor hockey contend with hyper-competitive parents, and Paralympics have become all about medals in order to secure much-needed government funding.

    But these games are different.

    There are no medal tables to track the most successful countries and it’s the Invictus anthem — not national anthems — that will play for the champions when they touch the wall first in swimming or win the wheelchair basketball tournament.

    Perhaps one of the most telling signs of the atmosphere and celebratory nature of this event comes in the rulebook, which strongly encourages competitors “to keep alcohol consumption to a minimum when representing their nations in team uniforms.”

    This is only the third time the Invictus Games — established by Prince Harry after witnessing the American Warrior Games — have been held. But the principle of these games for ill and injured members of the armed forces and veterans dates back to the very origins of parasport, when it was used as rehabilitation for soldiers and civilians injured in the Second World War.

    Dr. Ludwig Guttmann opened a spinal injuries centre at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Britain and, over time, sport designed for rehabilitation evolved into recreational and then competitive competition, culminating in its most elite expression at the Paralympics.

    “Invictus is about regaining an active life,” says Mimi Poulin, who lives in Lazo, B.C.

    By the time she arrived to swim, row and play sitting volleyball at last year’s competition in Orlando, she had already achieved her goal.

    It had been just two years since a parachute accident in May 2014 left her with a shattered pelvis and extensive nerve damage in her right leg. She had been a combat medic and was training to move into search and rescue when she was injured. She had to discover her new normal after months in a wheelchair and learning to walk again.

    “Being able to compete in such a big event was my medal,” Poulin says. “It gave me the confidence that I can do anything I want if I set my heart to it.”

    Now, at 38, she is retiring from the military and planning to go back to school to find a new career.

    The co-captain of Canada’s team, Maj. Simon Mailloux, has a couple goals for the Toronto Invictus Games but other than, hopefully, getting to meet Bruce Springsteen, who is playing at the closing ceremony, very little has to do with him.

    “I’m not a natural athlete, I have to admit. I’m just a good guy who is trying to run on one leg,” says the 33-year-old from Quebec City.

    He says he’s doing it for his 4-year-old daughter, Norah.

    “She’s only ever seen me with one leg and I want her to understand that, even though I’m different than other people and I may have struggles and sometimes I hop around at home … I can also do great things.”

    Mailloux lost his left leg in 2007 when his vehicle hit an explosive device in Afghanistan and, with his prosthetic leg, he returned for another tour there in 2009.

    He also competed at last year’s Invictus Games in Orlando and was struck by what he saw there.

    “It’s the first games I saw that you cheer more for the person that finishes last than first,” he says. “You know they went through a lot just to be there.”

    For some competitors, it’s what they’ve been through that gets them picked for the team.

    “Nations don’t select their teams solely on ability to (win a) medal,” says Scott Jones, the senior manager for sport for the Invictus Games.

    “They won’t necessarily pick the best athletes to make the team, they’ll pick who needs the recovery the most and who will benefit the most from the experience and opportunity.”

    Trauner had been going through a rough stretch — more surgeries, and housebound winters — when Michael Burns, CEO of Toronto Invictus Games, invited him to attend the official launch in May 2016.

    At that Toronto event, after a round of greetings and thank you’s, it was none other than Prince Harry who urged him to compete next year.

    “I accept challenges. Just being infantry, I have to accept challenges,” says Trauner, who alternates between prosthetic legs and a wheelchair.

    “I challenge you to come out next year,” he recalled the prince telling him.

    “Join the team, challenge yourself, compete against the guys, I want to see you there and I said, ‘You’re on, I accept your challenge.’ I shook his hand and took a picture.”

    It came at the perfect time, Trauner’s wife, Leah Cuffe, recalls.

    In the early years, all his energy was taken up with navigating his physical issues. But being housebound again in 2015 after more surgery led to some dark days.

    “When he has a goal he fights and he trains. It gives his life purpose,” she says. “He’s back to Mike again and those dark days he was having are gone.”

    His recovery has become the focus of her life as much as his.

    She’s in the basement doing counts with him when he’s on the rower and she’s with him when he cycles on the road.

    “I bought a recumbent bike myself so we can train together,” Cuffe says. “And on the days when he wants to do distance I shadow him in my car so that he doesn’t get hit because I couldn’t do another phone call like that.”

    She’s referring to the call she got at 3:43 a.m. telling her something had happened to her husband. That led to an emergency flight to the medical centre in Landstuhl, Germany, and a walk down the longest hallway she can remember to see her husband.

    He knew his new reality would also be hers.

    “I am so sorry — those were his first words to me,” she recalls.

    In recognition of the role that families play in a soldier’s recovery, whether it’s from a physical injury or a mental one with post traumatic stress illness, Invictus competitors are invited to bring two people with them to stay at no cost in Toronto to enjoy the experience with them.

    “It’s going to be amazing,” Cuffe says about spending the week in Toronto, attending events and watching Trauner compete.

    “I’m so excited for him and I’m so proud of him, just how far he’s come,” she says.

    “I’m going to shout from the rooftops.”

    For this veteran who lost his legs and died — twice — the Invictus Games are about more than medalsFor this veteran who lost his legs and died — twice — the Invictus Games are about more than medals

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    OTTAWA—Canada’s chief negotiator Steve Verheul says he does not expect the American team to lay out its wishlist for how much to raise the bar for American content in the automotive sector — a key point of contention — in the third round of talks that got underway here Saturday.

    Verheul, speaking to reporters on his way into the talks, also said it is “doubtful” the three-way negotiations will close a chapter on the environment, despite an American team’s spokesperson suggesting “significant progress” had been made on the environment and the chapter on that could be finalized in Ottawa.

    The U.S. has stated one of its key objectives is to raise the amount of North American, and specifically American, content in automotive vehicles made and sold within the North American free trade zone. It is currently, under NAFTA rules, set at 62.5 per cent. The U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross reinforced that demand this week in a Washington Post opinion column. However the U.S. has yet to lay out its specific “ask” or clarify what number it would like to see.

    Rules of origin “will be a subject for discussion but we’re not expecting to see anything radically new at this point,” Verheul said.

    Verheul said “it’s a very big subject,” — rules of origin may also apply to other goods — but despite assertions late in the week that the U.S. views the need to tighten auto sector rules as key to advancing a new NAFTA deal, Verheul did not expect new developments, but nevertheless said he was feeling good as round three began.

    “I’m always optimistic,” said Verheul, but he said it is “too early to say” if significant progress will be made.

    “We’re all putting text on the table at this point,” said Verheul as he strode into the meeting with reporters tailing behind. He said he expected talks would intensify now “but we’ll see how it goes.”

    Emily Davis, a spokesperson for the U.S. Trade Representative’s office, suggested progress has already been made in the areas of the environment, small and medium-size enterprise and competition.

    Delegates for all three teams were tight-lipped on their way in Saturday, after being dropped off at an Ottawa conference centre on Sussex Drive in yellow school buses.

    Canada does not expect U.S. to clarify its demands on auto sector at NAFTA talks todayCanada does not expect U.S. to clarify its demands on auto sector at NAFTA talks today

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    This was a week that saw men with fingers on nuclear codes reduced to blathering name-calling idiots, while women in the public eye rose up and spoke and inspired.

    It was a week when some men acted like infants even while others tried to discredit women by infantilizing them.

    Exhibit A for baby-men were Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un in a tense exchange of brinkmanship, where — get this — Kim made more sense than the U.S. president. In a statement, Kim castigated Trump’s “unethical will to ‘totally destroy’ a sovereign state, beyond the boundary of threats of regime change or overturn of social system.”

    Then he responded with a threat to conduct “the biggest ever hydrogen bomb test in the Pacific,” and returned Trump’s name calling in kind.

    Read more:

    The Gerry Ritzing of Catherine McKenna: Mallick

    A short history of ‘dotard,’ the arcane insult Kim Jong Un used in his threat against Trump

    How an article defending colonialism was ever published is a mystery roiling academia: Paradkar

    In their defence, they offered the hollow comfort of hilarity.

    “Rocket Man!” roared the vapid villain who had already reduced to dust the dignity of his American seat.

    “Frightened dog. Deranged dotard,” raged the pipsqueak ruler of the kingdom of ashes, the wondrous creature who once called South Korea’s first female president “a crafty prostitute.”

    At this, the wounded egomaniac summoned up his finest vocabulary.

    “Madman,” he screeched.

    You’re fired, Donny boy. In a war of words at least, Kim’s weapons possess longer range than yours.

    Earlier in the week, the ever-mature president had retweeted a doctored GIF of himself swinging a golf ball and hitting his former rival Hillary Clinton on the back, leading her to take a tumble. Such power! Such machismo! See, here was a man to put women like her in their place.

    Then there was the football fans’ derision directed at Beth Mowins, who made history this week by becoming the first woman to call a game on Monday Night Football. “Can’t stand the voice.” “Her voice is like fingernails on a blackboard,” “Your voice ruined it for me,” whined viewers.

    There’s no point pretending this was personal preference rather than sexism.

    As Rebecca Martinez, who teaches women’s and gender studies at the University of Missouri told the New York Times, “The comments, mostly from men … focus on the naturally higher pitch of women’s voices and ‘shrillness,’ all the while claiming their critiques of higher pitch have nothing to do with sexism.”

    This is how women sound — different from men. This is how women look — different from men.

    As with men, not one is without flaws. Unlike men, not one escapes ridicule.

    Exhibit A of infantilizing women took place in Canada when Saskatchewan MP Gerry Ritz referred to our country’s environment minister as a “climate Barbie” in a tweet.

    Of what confounding nature is this duplicity foisted on women? Shamed as inferior if you’re not white and blond. Shamed as inferior if you are.

    Two MPs tackled both issues this week.

    Women in Catherine McKenna’s position of having received sexist or racist comments are often counselled to click mute at this point — even by well-wishers.

    Let it go, we are told. Happens all the time. Not worth it.

    Sometimes, though, it’s the silence that’s not worth it when all it serves to do is maintain the status quo.

    McKenna called him out.

    “Do you use that sexist language about your daughter, mother, sister?” she responded. “We need more women in politics. Your sexist comments won’t stop us.”

    Some 20 minutes later, Ritz apologized for using the word Barbie. “It is not reflective of the role our minister plays.”

    If only we could also recalibrate the thinking that leads to such expression.

    In New York to talk climate change with high-level diplomats, McKenna spoke about the incident to reporters.

    “You know what’s really sad?” she asked. “That I’m having to talk about this.”

    “I want to be talking about what I’m doing. But unfortunately we’re having this conversation. … We need to move on. I’ve got two daughters. There’s lots of young women who want to get into politics, and I want them to feel like they can go do that, and they can talk about the great work they’re doing — not about the colour of their hair.”

    About hair.

    There was Celina Caesar-Chavannes, the MP from Whitby, rising magnificently in Parliament Hill wearing her hair in braids in solidarity with women who have been shamed based on their appearance. She delivered a one-minute speech that was a marvel of composure and wisdom and defiance.

    I leave you with her words as your motivation:

    “It has come to my attention that there are young girls here in Canada and other parts of the world who are removed from school or shamed because of their hairstyle.

    “Mr. Speaker, body-shaming of any woman in any form from the top of her head to the soles of her feet is wrong.”

    “Irrespective of her hairstyle, the size of her thighs, the size of her hips, the size of her baby bump, the size of her breasts, or the size of lips, what makes us different makes us unique and beautiful.

    “So Mr. Speaker I will continue to rock these braids. For three reasons. No. 1, because I’m sure you’ll agree, they look pretty dope. No. 2, in solidarity with women who have been shamed based on their appearance.

    “And No. 3, and most importantly, in solidarity with young girls and women who look like me and those who don’t. I want them to know that their braids, their dreads, their super-curly afro puffs, their weaves, their hijabs, and their headscarves, and all other variety of hairstyles, belong in schools, in the workplace, in the boardroom and yes, even here on Parliament Hill.”

    Shree Paradkar writes about discrimination and identity. You can follow her @shreeparadkar

    Women step up as man-babies throw tantrums: ParadkarWomen step up as man-babies throw tantrums: Paradkar

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    SOMERSET, N. J.—U. S. President Donald Trump says if a basketball player doesn’t want to visit the White House to celebrate an NBA title, then don’t bother showing up.

    Trump responded Saturday on Twitter to Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry, who has made clear he’s not interested in a traditional White House trip. Curry told reporters Friday: “I don’t want to go . . . my beliefs stay the same.”

    Trump weighed in Saturday from his golf club Bedminster, New Jersey. He said: “Going to the White House is considered a great honour for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!”

    It was not immediately clear whether Trump was rescinding the invitation for Curry or the entire team.

    The tweet about Curry and the Warriors came one day after Trump told a rally in Alabama that NFL owners should fire players who kneel during the national anthem. Several NFL players, starting with quarterback Colin Kaepernick, refused to stand during The Star-Spangled Banner to protest police treatment of blacks and social injustice.

    “That’s a total disrespect of our heritage. That’s a total disrespect of everything that we stand for,” Trump said, encouraging owners to act.

    “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired,” Trump said to loud applause.

    Warriors general manager Bob Myers said Friday the team has had discussions with the White House, and that Golden State owner Joe Lacob also would be involved in the decision on whether to go. The Warriors did not immediately respond to a request for reaction to Trump’s tweet early Saturday. They were scheduled for an afternoon media availability following their first practice.

    Curry said Friday a decision to not visit the White House would only be a first step.

    “By acting and not going, hopefully that will inspire some change when it comes to what we tolerate in this country and what is accepted and what we turn a blind eye to,” Curry said. “It’s not just the act of not going. There are things you have to do on the back end to actually push that message into motion.”

    Read more: Kevin Durant won’t visit White House if Warriors are invited: ‘I don’t respect who’s in office right now’

    NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told The Players’ Tribune in July he believes teams should visit the White House when invited, though also said he would not order anyone to make such a trip.

    “I think that these institutions are bigger than any individual politician, any individual elected official,” Silver said then. “And it concerns me that something like going to the White House after winning a championship, something that has been a great tradition, would become one that is partisan. I will say, though, even though I think that teams should make decisions as organizations, that I would also respect an individual player’s decision not to go.”

    Trump has met with some teams already in his first year in office.

    Clemson visited the White House this year after winning the College Football Playoff, some members of the New England Patriots went after the Super Bowl victory and the Chicago Cubs went to the Oval Office in June to commemorate their World Series title. The Cubs also had the larger-scale, more traditional visit with President Barack Obama in January, four days before the Trump inauguration.

    And if the Warriors don’t want to meet with Trump, they may still get a welcome in Washington: House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California has said she would like to bring the team to the Capitol.

    Trump rescinds Stephen Curry’s invitation to visit White HouseTrump rescinds Stephen Curry’s invitation to visit White House

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    WASHINGTON—U.S. President Donald Trump went to Alabama on Friday to deliver a speech in support of his chosen candidate, Luther Strange, in the Republican primary for the state’s open Senate seat.

    He made false claims about Strange. He made false claims about the crowd. He made false claims about Alabama itself. All in all, it was a vintage Trump rally performance: 16 false claims in all.

    On Monday, we’ll do a full update tallying up all of his false claims from the last week. 604.Counting the rally alone, though, the president has now made 604 false claims over 246 days in office — an average of 2.5 false claims per day.

    Trump has proven uniquely willing to lie, exaggerate and mislead. By all expert accounts, he is more frequently inaccurate than any of his predecessors.

    Read more:

    How Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale fact-checks Trump

    We are keeping track. Below is a list of every false claim Trump has made since his inauguration on Jan. 20.

    Why call them false claims, not lies? We can’t be sure that each and every one was intentional; in some cases, he may have been confused or ignorant. What we know, objectively, is that he was not telling the truth.

    Last updated: Sept. 23, 2017

    Donald Trump makes 16 false claims at Alabama rallyDonald Trump makes 16 false claims at Alabama rally

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    Walk south on High Park Ave. in the Junction from Dundas St. toward Bloor St. and you’ll see detached houses rubbing shoulders with humbler semis and walk-up apartments.

    “You’ve got it all right there,” says Toronto urban planner Sean Galbraith.

    High Park Ave. is a model street, he says, when it comes to one of the hottest topics in the Toronto region’s pervasive housing conversation. It’s a rare example of “the missing middle,” a planning term for homes that fall between a single detached house and a mid-rise apartment building. It includes semis, laneway homes, secondary suites and townhouses. In some settings, small apartment buildings are also considered part of the missing middle.

    It’s the kind of housing that a growing number of politicians, planners and urbanists say we need to build if we’re going to encourage gentle densities and make the region’s prized neighbourhoods vital and accessible to young families.

    It’s not that this type of housing doesn’t exist. It’s just too scarce for the growing number of young families who can’t afford a detached house but want to live close to transit, shops and schools.

    Zoning rules have shut missing middle homes out of large swathes of the city. There are about 20,000 hectares where it’s virtually impossible to build anything except single-family detached houses, said Galbraith. (Toronto covers just over 64,000 hectares.)

    The average Toronto household is 2.4 people.

    "If you added a single duplex per hectare, you've made room for like 48,000 extra people and not changed neighbourhood character one bit," he says.

    "Make it a triplex and that goes up to 72,000 extra people. If you're outside of the former city of Toronto and you see a lot that has a single house on it, odds are very, very, very good that the underlying zoning says that's basically all you're allowed to put on it," said Galbraith.

    “I can’t remember the last time somebody built a small walk-up apartment like a four-plex, something like you see in Parkdale or the old Annex,” he said.

    Galbraith blames the city’s official plan for freezing neighbourhoods to protect against the block-busting of the 1960s. That’s when developers bought up homes, tore them down and built apartment towers in the middle of established areas.

    Now, he said, “You can knock a bungalow down and build a two- or three-storey house as long as there’s only one unit in it. Doesn’t matter if it’s the scale of the neighbours or not, which makes no sense to me.”

    It's not that time has stood still in Toronto. City council has adopted a report setting standards for laneway suites. City planners have been focused on avenues such as Eglinton, making them more transit-oriented, walkable and bike friendly. Missing-middle advocates admit the city can't do everything at once.

    But they also recognize it is difficult for politicians to persuade home-owning constituents that gently increasing the density of their neighbourhoods with missing middle housing won't erode their property values.

    The 905 communities surrounding Toronto are often seen as an affordable alternative to families who can’t afford to buy in the city. But like many global cities, even Toronto’s commuter communities are becoming prohibitively expensive.

    A stacked townhome in Brampton might go for $300,000 or $400,000. It sounds like a lot, but in today’s housing market that’s relatively affordable, said Michael Collins-Williams, director of policy at the Ontario Home Builders Association.

    Space and distance are two inevitable compromises of the region’s rising property values. “Even with this missing middle, they’ll have to accept less space,” he said.

    It helps that there’s a spreading ethos embracing the idea that smaller is better and rejecting the accumulation of stuff, said Collins-Williams.

    “Housing is much more expensive now in terms of the multipliers of average income. If you want the space, you’re going to have to compromise on location and live far, far away from the city to afford the traditional subdivision,” he said. “If you’re willing to compromise on space, you may be able to get a better location. You could ride transit instead of having a car.”

    To meet provincial growth targets, Mississauga has been building its own vibrant skyscraping downtown. But without more stacked and back-to-back townhomes and small apartment buildings, Mayor Bonnie Crombie fears her city will be missing another middle — the middle-class families with annual incomes between $50,000 and $100,000, for whom Mississauga has traditionally been a destination.

    So the city has developed a missing middle strategy with zoning and tax provisions to encourage the development of affordable — not just subsidized — housing.

    “Many middle-income households in Mississauga are struggling to enter the housing and rental market due to rising prices. One in three households are spending more than 30 per cent of their gross household income on housing, which is considered unaffordable,” Crombie told a Peel Region housing summit this year.

    But a lack of data may be undermining the suspected urgency behind the need for more missing middle homes, said Cherise Burda, executive director of the Ryerson City Building Institute.

    “We have over 100,000 multi-unit homes coming down the pipe over the next five years. The question is, are we building the right type of housing?

    “We’re building a lot of studios and one-bedrooms in high rises but is that for families or is it a lot of building for investment?” she said.

    If we aren’t building for families, there’s nowhere for millennials to go once they leave their small condos except farther away from their jobs, transit and existing infrastructure. It adds to congestion and puts more pressure on the limited supply of family-friendly housing in urban centres.

    “When you talk about affordability, it’s the housing that’s in our more location-efficient neighbourhoods that is holding more value. If we don’t build more of that appropriate housing, we’ll gut out the city and young families will have to live away,” said Burda.

    The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation measures the number of condos built, but it doesn’t break down their size or whether they are high-rise apartments or stacked townhouses.

    The province sets growth targets, but the ministry of housing told the Toronto Star that it’s up to municipalities to forecast their own needs and track the kind of housing built there.

    But a senior researcher with the Centre for Urban Research and Land Development at Ryerson University says the Toronto area is behind other Canadian cities in building the missing middle.

    “Twenty per cent of (housing) completions in 2016 were in the missing middle in the GTA, compared to 30 per cent in both Calgary and Vancouver and 43 per cent in Montreal,” wrote Diana Petramala in a recent blog post.

    Other cities, including San Francisco and New York, are also promoting the missing middle, says urban policy consultant Brian Kelcey.

    “The difference in Toronto is, there is a real sense from people who work on smaller developments that the city and city planners and prominent urbanists are talking a lot about this but they’re not actually doing anything,” he said.

    Kelcey points to North Vancouver, where residential, detached housing lots have been re-zoned to allow for the building of up to three units.

    “There is no such thing as a one-home lot in North Vancouver,” he said.

    But missing-middle housing isn’t an overnight solution to the Toronto region’s sprawl and affordability challenges. It’s part of an evolution, not a radical makeover, stressed Galbraith.

    “This is a 20-year idea, not a two-year idea. It would allow neighbourhoods to evolve and reflect basic demographic changes. We don’t have as many kids as we used to, so why do we need a five-bedroom house with one person living in it when that person could replace it with a duplex? They still live there, sell the other half or rent it out,” he said.

    “I can’t think of any real valid reason we wouldn’t want to do this from a public perspective.”

    Stacking the deck

    When the Hampshire Mews townhomes hit the market in Richmond Hill about four years ago, the buyers weren’t exactly lined up at the developer’s door.

    “It took a little while for people to get their heads around the product type,” said Bob Finnigan, chief operating officer of Herity Homes, which owned the two-acre site near Yonge St. and Elgin Mills Rd.

    It was the conventional townhouses in the complex, with a garage in the front and a patio at the back, that sold first. The stacked towns — 42 of the 60 units — were a newer commodity. They had less outdoor space and the garage was at the rear.

    Hampshire Mews was among the first stacked town developments in Richmond Hill and the first for Herity’s Heathwood Homes division.

    But in the two years since the Mews was built, that format has been increasingly recognized as an important solution in creating the population densities the province demands through its recently updated anti-sprawl growth plan.

    Priced and built to provide an option between high-rise and single-family detached houses, stacked and back-to-back towns are more familiar to buyers now, said Finnigan, a past president of the Canadian Home Builders Association.

    “This would sell faster (today) because people understand what’s available. If they go from a 600-square-foot or 700-square-foot apartment to ground level (homes), this helps them make that transition,” he said.

    At Hampshire Mews, there are three homes in a series of 30-foot-wide modules. Two two-level units of about 1,400 square feet occupy the upper levels. A third entry leads to a bungalow “flat” of about 1,100 square feet.

    Occupants have to climb a short set of stairs from their garage to the lower bungalow unit and an additional staircase to the upper units. Recently, builders have begun making stacked home modules wider and shallower to eliminate at least one set of stairs, said Finnigan.

    Each unit has parking for two cars — one in the driveway and one in the garage — and York Region’s new bus rapid transit system is a short walk away on Yonge St.

    The bigger homes have a tiny square of green at the front. The flats have balconies. Two landscaped parkettes with benches in the middle act as communal gardens. They didn’t install playground equipment because it seldom gets used, said Finnigan.

    It’s a myth that builders only want to construct single-family detached homes, he said. The profit on stacked towns is about the same because you can put more homes on the same piece of land — about twice as many as conventional towns.

    But the stacked homes are more difficult to build and design because of the horizontal and vertical separations between the units. Heat flows up, not down. The heating systems have been built into closets in the upper units and off the garage in the lower ones.

    Strict municipal planning rules in the Toronto region dictate road widths and other external design elements allowing for fire, ambulance and garbage truck access, meaning the actual bricks and mortar of the homes cover about 45 to 50 per cent of the site.

    But in California, some builders are finding ways to make 85 per cent of a site available for housing itself. One California development has built park-like trails through its complexes. Another has devised narrow side patios in place of rear and front yards.

    Why High Park Ave. may be Toronto’s ideal streetWhy High Park Ave. may be Toronto’s ideal street

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    Several hundred eager well-wishers waited patiently behind a barricade in unseasonably blazing sunshine on Saturday as Prince Harry toured one of Canada’s leading mental-health facilities across the road.

    The prince did not disappoint, crossing the road after his tour to talk to children, meet a pup and shake hands with members of a crowd that whooped when they glimpsed him and called his name repeatedly.

    “Oh my goodness, I’m so happy, he shook my hand,” said a dazzled Robinowe Bukirwa, who wondered if she was dreaming even as the prince faded into the distance. “I don’t think I’m going to wash my hand today. I’m so very excited.”

    The prince’s day began with a tour and meetings at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, where he participated in two round tables — one with nine senior staff members focused on research, the other on dealing with youth coping with mental illness.

    Describing the complex issue as one requiring a “massive team effort,” Harry listened attentively to staff discuss their work, and anecdotes from patients who sought treatment for mental health and addiction struggles at the facility in downtown Toronto.

    At times gesticulating as he made a point or stroking his chin as he listened intently, the prince stressed the importance of mental health research and treatment — a topic he has championed. There is no “silver bullet” when it comes to dealing with the problem, he said.

    “You need options,” he said.

    One person in attendance told Harry she still cherished a visit decades before from his mother, the late Princess Diana. The prince also met privately with teenage in-patients of the mental health facility.

    Outside the centre, Prince Harry stopped briefly to chit-chat as people thrust out hands across the barrier, thanking them repeatedly for coming out.

    Sara Gashi said meeting the royal family member was much better than she had anticipated.

    “I honestly can’t remember,” Gashi said when asked what Harry told her. “He was very nice. He was very pleasant and smiling.”

    Dressed in a blue blazer and grey slacks, the royal set off for a series of further events, including meetings with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Gov.-Gen. David Johnston before attending the Invictus Games opening ceremonies.

    The Invictus Games, with 550 competitors from 17 countries participating in 12 sports, was scheduled to kick off formally Saturday evening at a downtown Toronto arena with a star-studded show featuring performances by Sarah McLachlan, Alessia Cara and the Tenors along with a “parade of nations.”

    Saturday’s events followed a similar day Friday in which the prince attended a symposium on veterans’ issues and met and chatted with Games participants.

    “We’re using the Games to get out of dark holes and back into life — and without Harry, we wouldn’t be here having fun and enjoying the camaraderie, which is what you miss from the army days,” Charlie Walker, a coach of the United Kingdom’s sitting volleyball team, said Friday.

    The first Invictus Games, aimed at helping the war wounded with their recovery, were held in London in 2014. The Toronto Games run until Sept. 30.

    Prince Harry tours CAMH, greets crowds in lead-up to Invictus GamesPrince Harry tours CAMH, greets crowds in lead-up to Invictus GamesPrince Harry tours CAMH, greets crowds in lead-up to Invictus GamesPrince Harry tours CAMH, greets crowds in lead-up to Invictus GamesPrince Harry tours CAMH, greets crowds in lead-up to Invictus GamesPrince Harry tours CAMH, greets crowds in lead-up to Invictus GamesPrince Harry tours CAMH, greets crowds in lead-up to Invictus GamesPrince Harry tours CAMH, greets crowds in lead-up to Invictus GamesPrince Harry tours CAMH, greets crowds in lead-up to Invictus GamesPrince Harry tours CAMH, greets crowds in lead-up to Invictus Games

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    A TTC board member is warning that the city is at risk of “cheaping out” on a key waterfront transit connection, as it mulls proposals to scrap streetcar service to Union Station in favour of less costly alternatives.

    At a public meeting about waterfront transit plans on Monday night, the city unveiled a set of three options to overhaul the tunnel that links the station and Queens Quay.

    Streetcars running on the western waterfront currently operate in the 530-metre tunnel and terminate at Union. But with a new East Bayfront streetcar line planned, the existing underground infrastructure can’t handle the extra service.

    The three options being proposed to link Union and Queens Quay are: expanding the tunnel to accommodate the additional streetcars; replacing the streetcar tracks with a below-ground pedestrian walkway; or, in what would be a first of its kind project in Toronto, installing an underground cable car.

    Read more: If it’s worth spending billions to build a subway in Scarborough it’s worth properly linking the waterfront to Union: Keenan

    Expanding the tunnel and preserving the streetcar service would be the most expensive option — previous estimates indicate it would cost at least $270 million. It’s also the only one that would provide seamless transit access between the waterfront and Union. Under the other two proposals, streetcars would operate east and west along Queens Quay but not travel north to the station.

    Councillor Joe Mihevc, who sits on the TTC board, argued the city would be foolish not to maintain the streetcar link. He said it’s the only option that improves transit, while the other two are aimed at keeping costs low.

    “This is not a project that we should frankly cheap out on,” he said, describing the other proposals as “second-rate.”

    The high cost of expanding the tunnel is driven by the complex underground work it would require, including expanding the streetcar loop beneath Union Station to accommodate additional boarding platforms, and the creation of a second tunnel entrance on Queens Quay east of Yonge St.

    “It is a lot of money but . . . it is worth every penny, considering what we’re building south of Front St.,” said Mihevc. “The congestion in that area will be unrelenting.”

    The number of residents and jobs on Toronto’s waterfront is expected to grow by about 470,000 over the next 25 years. Planners predict that by 2041, there will be 10,000 people headed south from Union Station in the morning rush hour.

    Nigel Tahair, a program manager for transportation planning at the city, said all three proposals meet the waterfront study’s threshold of accommodating at least 7,000 people per hour.

    But he acknowledged that “the experience of using these three different systems will obviously be quite different.”

    Under the pedestrian walkway option, it would take the average person at least six minutes to walk from Union to Queens Quay through the tunnel. A moving sidewalk of the type commonly seen in airports would speed up the trip, but there is only space in the eight-metre-wide tunnel for one of the devices.

    That means the moving sidewalk would operate in one direction in the morning and then in the opposite direction in the afternoon. People not travelling the peak direction would be stuck in the slow lane, on a regular walkway beside the moving sidewalk.

    Tahair said a moving sidewalk that only travels in one direction is “obviously a shortcoming,” but the proposal does have the potential to offer connections to the PATH network at midpoints between Union and Queens Quay.

    “We need transit service, but we also need really good, high-quality pedestrian links in the network. They’re complementary,” he said.

    The underground funicular, the most unorthodox of the proposals, would operate on a cable-pulled system within the existing streetcar tunnel. The driverless cars would travel at 36 km/h, operate at one-minute intervals and have a peak capacity of 8,250 people in each direction per hour.

    Tahair said the main drawback would be that people trying to switch between train service at Union and the streetcar line on Queens Quay would have to make two transfers.

    “People generally don’t like transfers, so that’s a negative experience,” he said.

    The city planning department, Waterfront Toronto, and the TTC are working together on the waterfront transit study. According to Mihevc, there “is a vigorous debate” among them on which option is best.

    TTC spokesperson Brad Ross declined to comment on which one the transit agency favours, saying it will wait until city staff release their final recommendations.

    A spokesperson for Mayor John Tory also said it was too early to weigh in.

    A report detailing all three options is expected to go before Tory’s executive committee in October. Tahair said he hoped the city, Waterfront Toronto and the TTC will select a preferred option within months.

    Proposals to link Queens Quay and Union Station include a moving sidewalk, a cable car or more streetcarsProposals to link Queens Quay and Union Station include a moving sidewalk, a cable car or more streetcars

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    Until Donald Trump briefly applied himself to the subject, “nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.” President Van Winkle said this in February 2017. The wonder of discovery is a delight to behold no matter how late in life it awakens.

    In fact, everyone with a chronic disease in the United States knows health care is complicated. Rich or poor, young or old, their illnesses open their eyes to the fact that the so-called health-care industry, which amounts to roughly one-sixth of the U.S. economy, is not an industry at all. It is a chaotic crossroads of many different industries and professions, often in fierce competition, each adapted to its own culture and pursuing its own business model.

    This is what makes health-care reform so difficult, and so failure-prone. Insuring patients is a very different business from treating patients; both are distinct from the business of discovering new medicines and inventing new devices. The pharmacy business is different from the fitness business; suing for malpractice is unlike diagnostic testing; hospice care is a long way from digitizing medical records.

    And so on.

    The late Neal Patterson often told the story of trudging from one doctor’s office to the next in one hospital after another with his cancer-stricken wife, with her heavy medical files in two shopping bags. His point: the utter lack of communication and coordination in the health-care sector. It was an especially powerful story because Patterson was the billionaire founder of one of the world’s leading health-care IT firms, Cerner Corp. If that was his experience, imagine what it’s like for Joe Average.

    Read more:

    ‘Catastrophic’: Millions at risk, again, as Trump and Republicans push new health bill

    Jimmy Kimmel slams Bill Cassidy, Trump over GOP health-care bill

    Trump trying to turn around GOP holdouts on last-ditch health bill

    I watched something similar recently. After the Food and Drug Administration approved a new treatment to slow multiple sclerosis, a loved one asked her neurologist to prescribe the medicine. That seemingly straightforward process set off a several-months-long marathon of countless phone calls, hours on hold and heaps of paperwork. She had to pin down her insurance company on its rules for approval and relay those to her prescribing doctor. She had to negotiate a discount from the pharmaceutical company and relay the new price to the insurance company. She had to convey their eventual agreement to the pharmacy benefit manager at precisely the right time to have the medicine arrive at the hospital for infusion at a pre-scheduled appointment.

    A patient needs the endurance of Shackleton, the determination of Tubman and the organizational skills of Eisenhower planning D-Day.

    As Republicans in Congress watch their latest effort to repeal and replace Obamacare labouring toward the rocks, it’s important to see the entire sector. The Cassidy- Graham bill, even if it somehow reached port after Sen. John McCain abandoned ship, would touch only one piece of the sprawling mess: insurance.

    Cassidy-Graham would repeal the Obamacare requirement to buy health insurance, and it would eliminate the Medicaid expansion and middle-class subsidies intended to make insurance affordable. As a replacement, the bill calls for block grants to help states pay for their own reform attempts.

    This strikes me as an awful lot of costly disruption in service of a largely symbolic repeal. Cassidy-Graham could have been titled the Lobbyist and Consultant Full Employment Act, because it would keep a lot of people busy in state capitals and insurance company headquarters for years to come. Most Republicans like it because it’s a fig leaf to wear at town-hall meetings.

    Given their legislative shortcomings, it’s no mystery why they’d want one.

    The Bernie Sanders “Medicare for All” proposal shares this blindered focus on the talisman of insurance. It reminds me of Moscow’s GUM department store in the days of the Soviet Union. Everyone had equal access to the mostly empty shelves of shoddy merchandise.

    Health-care consumers need more than fig leaves and empty shelves. Ferocious debates about insurance, while important, don’t touch the larger problems in the health-care sector. Patterson had no shortage of money as he schlepped those shopping bags; my loved one is covered by good private insurance. While it is better to have insurance rather than not, it is only the ticket to the health-care show. Having a ticket in no way changes the fact that the show itself is Kafka Meets the Three Stooges.

    I’m no great fan of Obamacare, but the law does identify targets for reform that could produce profound results. Rather than chase the chimera of repeal, Congress should dig deep into the results of the Affordable Care Act. Adjust, revise, reboot or double down as each target demands.

    Universal access to quality primary care. Bundled payments. Accountable Care Organizations and Medicare Advantage. Tougher measurement of outcomes. And that elusive grail of efficiency experts, the electronic health record.

    And for Republicans seeking to deliver on a long-stated promise, throw in long-overdue tort reform.

    Unless the sector delivers a better product, consumers won’t be happy regardless of who pays. That much, at least, is not complicated.

    U.S. health care debate isn’t touching on the sector’s most pressing problemsU.S. health care debate isn’t touching on the sector’s most pressing problems

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    A man in his 50s has been rushed to hospital with life-threatening injuries after he was stabbed multiple times near Scarborough Town Centre on Sunday morning.

    Toronto Police Const. David Hopkinson said officers were called to Progress Ave. and Brimley Rd. at around 7:15 a.m.

    The man was taken to hospital in critical condition but he was later stabilized.

    Police from 41 Division said a woman in her 20s is in custody. The circumstances behind the stabbing aren’t currently clear.

    With files from Alanna Rizza

    Man in critical condition after stabbing near Scarborough Town CentreMan in critical condition after stabbing near Scarborough Town Centre

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    Roads are reopening in Etobicoke after a chemical leak lead to an evacuation and sent two people to hospital.

    Toronto Fire Capt. David Eckerman said the chemical was ammonia, and originated from the compressor room of a building belonging to a frozen foods company near Kipling and Evans Aves.

    Businesses and three residences in a 500-foot radius were evacuated before a technician made the necessary fix around 11:30 a.m.

    “The emergency was neutralized at 11:58 a.m.,” said Eckerman.

    The TTC’s Queensway garage also evacuated. A 54-year-old man in front of the TTC building was having difficulty breathing and Toronto paramedics confirmed he was taken to hospital. A second person was taken to hospital as a precaution, Toronto police said.

    High exposure to ammonia, a caustic chemical often used in refrigeration systems, can cause burning of the eyes, nose and throat. In a much-diluted form it is a common household cleaner.

    It is unclear how the leak started. Eckerman said Toronto Public Health and the Ministry of Labour have been notified about the incident.

    Police clear Etobicoke neighbourhood after ammonia leak sends two to hospitalPolice clear Etobicoke neighbourhood after ammonia leak sends two to hospital

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