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Articles on this Page
- 09/30/17--16:41: _Canada working to m...
- 09/30/17--05:23: _Sears Canada to clo...
- 09/30/17--06:52: _‘They want everythi...
- 09/30/17--18:16: _Sober in the 6ix an...
- 09/30/17--08:00: _How Toronto's chefs...
- 09/30/17--15:20: _NDP leadership race...
- 09/30/17--19:42: _‘Shoulder to should...
- 10/01/17--09:53: _Ontario considers b...
- 10/01/17--07:30: _Daesh claims credit...
- 10/01/17--03:00: _Metrolinx finally r...
- 10/01/17--20:29: _Elderly couple dead...
- 10/01/17--17:20: _Toronto bars, music...
- 10/01/17--17:19: _Woodbine bike lanes...
- 10/01/17--11:34: _A snowstorm shut do...
- 10/01/17--17:17: _Asylum-seeker sues ...
- 10/01/17--11:10: _Trump calls his Pue...
- 10/01/17--06:25: _Two men dead after ...
- 10/01/17--03:00: _That rotten stench ...
- 10/01/17--05:33: _Suspect in Edmonton...
- 10/01/17--18:09: _‘It’s about the dre...
- 09/30/17--16:41: Canada working to make Pacific trade deal a reality
- 09/30/17--18:16: Sober in the 6ix and happy to tell the tale for Recovery Day in T.O.
- 09/30/17--08:00: How Toronto's chefs came together to save a wedding
- 09/30/17--15:20: NDP leadership race nears the end — maybe
- 10/01/17--09:53: Ontario considers ban on sending organic waste to landfills
- 10/01/17--07:30: Daesh claims credit for Marseille stabbing that killed 2 women
- 10/01/17--03:00: Metrolinx finally releases report on controversial GO stations
- 10/01/17--11:10: Trump calls his Puerto Rico critics ‘ingrates’
- 10/01/17--05:33: Suspect in Edmonton attack faces terrorism, attempted murder charges
- He thinks all drugs should be decriminalized and calls addiction a public health rather than a law enforcement issue.
- If he becomes prime minister, he promises to create a federal ban on racial profiling. This would apply to institutions under Ottawa’s control, such as the RCMP, he says.
- Singh is taking aim at temp contracts and proposing to force businesses to hire workers on staff after they’re employed full-time for six months. He also wants to ban unpaid internships and raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour for workers under federal jurisdiction.
- He wants to hike taxes by 2 to 4 per cent on people earning more than $350,000 per year, create a 40-per-cent estate tax on properties — other than primary residences — worth more than $4 million, and bring the federal corporate tax rate back to 19.5 per cent from the current 15 per cent put in place by the previous Conservative government.
- Singh vows to meet Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions target of 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2025 instead of 2030, which is the Liberal government’s target. To do this, he wants a national transit strategy with long-term funding for projects, and to phase out subsidies to oil and gas companies by 2020, among other proposals.
- A Singh government would change the way people vote in federal elections to a mixed-member proportional system with regional lists of candidates. After two elections, the new system would be put to a national referendum.
TOKYO—Backroom negotiations, ministerial meetings, shuttle diplomacy, all in hopes of getting agreement on a sweeping trade pact by year’s end.
No, it’s not NAFTA.
While the spotlight has focused on trade talks between Canada, Mexico and the United States, efforts are quietly underway on another sweeping trade pact — the Trans-Pacific Partnership — that would give Canada preferred access to Asian markets.
The agreement, left for dead after Washington’s exit in January, has come back to life.
And the 11 remaining nations in the partnership are hoping that by moving forward on the agreement — possibly in the coming months — they can entice the U.S. to rejoin the initiative abandoned by President Donald Trump immediately after he took office.
“Entry into force of TPP 11 is the highest immediate priority for us,” said Sadaaki Numata, a former Japanese ambassador to Canada who now chairs the honorary board of advisers for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Japan.
“We do see it as a means of inducing the United States to come back to TPP. You could call it a lever.”
There’s optimism that negotiators could have a rejigged agreement ready by November when political leaders from the TPP nations — including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — gather in Da Nang, Vietnam for an Asia-Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) summit.
“There is a degree of momentum behind that now and I think there is a recognition, especially in today’s trade policy environment, that having a successful negotiation would have broader implications,” Ian Burney, Canada’s ambassador to Japan, told the Star in an interview.
Trump’s withdrawal from the partnership had put its future in limbo. “At that time, it seems we lost a path, a way as to what we should do,” Nobutka Sawada, of the Economic Affairs Bureau in Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in an interview.
“But after a lot of consultations and discussions, we found that the significance of the TPP remains. So TPP is still important.”
Japan, joined by Australia and New Zealand, is leading the effort to see the agreement become a reality. Canada is supportive of the pact that also includes Mexico, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
The push for liberalized trade is part of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s efforts at economic reforms and a focus on liberalized trade that includes the TPP as well as an agreement with the European Union and ongoing negotiations with Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which would cover 16 Asian countries including China and India.
Officials on both sides of the Pacific say the TPP would unlock trade between Canada and Japan — two G7 nations — which now stands at about $27 billion annually, an amount that has been largely stagnant in recent years.
Five years ago, the Conservative government under prime minister Stephen Harper attempted free trade negotiations with Japan, backed by estimates it could boost Canada’s GDP by more than $4 billion.
But Japan abandoned those discussions two years later in favour of pursuing liberalized trade through the TPP. While Canada holds out some hope of achieving a bilateral deal, too, that doesn’t look likely.
“We have been trying to revive the bilateral process but have not succeeded. There is a strong preference on the Japanese side to focus on the TPP process,” Burney said.
“Japan has always been relatively clear with us that TPP probably reflects the high-water mark in terms of what they are prepared to offer in terms of concessions,” he said.
“I think from the standpoint of what’s in the agreement, that probably is the best that can be achievable.”
That view is shared in Japan, too, especially because the TPP goes beyond trade to also include topics such as labour, intellectual property, digital trade and government procurement.
“We do see great potential to be developed,” said Ichiro Hara, director international affairs bureau at Keidanren, the Japanese business federation.
“I think that either TPP 11 or 12 will be very beneficial framework to reinforce the trade relationship between Japan and Canada,” he said, via an interpreter.
Negotiators from the remaining TPP countries recently met in Tokyo and will meet again in Japan in October. But potential roadblocks remain. With the U.S. out of the equation — and with it the opportunities of favoured access to the American market — there’s concern that the agreement has become less attractive for some nations.
“I believe the biggest hurdle might be to overcome the resistance or hesitation on the part of developing countries (that) made great compromises in order to accommodate the U.S. requests and demands on the assumption that the U.S. market would be open,” Hara said.
There’s also the concern that some nations may seek to renegotiate parts of the agreement. “Every country has agreed that modifications should be minimal but what is minimal for each country differs significantly.”
And so a question mark hangs over the Trump administration as the U.S. risks being isolated on the trade front. Trump has pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. He has threatened to withdraw from NAFTA, even as U.S. officials try to bargain a modernized pact with Canada and Mexico. He has mused about ending America’s trade deal with South Korea.
“That the largest and most influential country in the world is turning to that kind of attitude is very dangerous,” said Shujiro Urata, dean of the Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies at Tokyo’s Waseda University.
“That would make the U.S. the isolated country. I hope that they realize that kind of situation will be very harmful to the U.S. economy.”
“But again I guess Mr. Trump and his advisers have to change their views towards multilateralism versus U.S.-first policy.”
Experts like Urata and Hara say the best way to counter to protectionist sentiments is to move ahead on trade deals and hope that the U.S. — seeing American corporate interests increasingly disadvantaged on the world stage — returns to the pact.
“Trade and investments are globalized and connected these days. I hope the U.S. can see that it would be to their disadvantage not to be part of this global movement,” Hara said.
“We hope domestic business leaders in the U.S. will raise their voices saying that the U.S. should be back in TPP.”
Canada working to make Pacific trade deal a reality
The future of Sears Canada is in greater doubt after it announced Friday night that it will close an additional 10 department stores, including the locations at Fairview Mall and Scarborough Town Centre in the coming months.
The Sears stores at Lime Ridge Mall in Hamilton and Oakville Place will also be closed, along with six other Sears department stores across Canada.
One more Sears Home store, in Kelowna, will also be closed.
The additional retail locations being closed employ 1,200 people, according to the company.
Another 12,000 people continue to work for Sears.
There have been no successful bids to keep Sears operating as a whole, the company also announced.
A plan submitted by executive chairman Brandon Stranzl was conditional on financing and other factors and has so far been unsuccessful.
“Understanding, among other components, the role a successful bid could play in saving jobs, Sears Canada advisers continue to engage with Mr. Stranzl with the goal of enhancing the value and reducing the conditionality of the proposed transaction,” according to the company’s news release.
When it obtained protection from creditors in June, the company announced it would close 59 stores of different formats, shedding 2,900 jobs, in an effort to restructure. Those closures will for the most part be completed by the end of Sunday, according to Sears spokesperson Joel Schaffer.
The leases to the 10 additional department stores being closed are being returned to landlords.
There are buyers for parts of the business, including S.L.H. Transport Inc., which provides transport within North America, to Sears Canada and other third-party customers, and portions of the Sears Canada Home Improvements Business.
Indigo Books and Music Inc. has agreed to buy the company's lease on a distribution center in Calgary, while Canadian Tire agreed to buy the rights to the Viking appliance brand in Canada.
The purchase prices were not disclosed.
According to the terms of the agreements submitted in support of the creditor protection application, Sears Canada is obliged to liquidate the assets it does not sell.
Antony Karabus, chief executive officer of HRC Retail Advisory, said that while Sears Canada continues to draw shoppers, it has been in decline for 16 years — in 2001 it posted revenues of $6.7 billion with 125 department stores. In 2016 it rang up $2.6 billion in sales with 95 department stores.
“It almost seems like the longest liquidation known to the retail industry. What is that old expression, you burn the furniture to keep the house warm? That is what they have been doing for a long, long, time,” said Karabus.
Karabus said that Sears was the victim of dramatically increased competition from discount retailers including Winners, Home Sense and Walmart.
The company will seek an extension of the stay period to Nov. 7.
The locations of the additional full-line department stores being closed include: Nanaimo North Town Centre; Brentwood Town Centre, Burnaby; Kelowna; Polo Park, Winnipeg; Fairview Pointe-Claire, Quebec and Avalon Mall, St. John’s Newfoundland.
Sears Canada to close 10 more stores, including Fairview and Scarborough locations
BRANCHBURG, N.J.—U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday lashed out at the mayor of San Juan and other officials in storm-ravaged Puerto Rico, contemptuous of their claims of a laggard U.S. response to the natural disaster that has imperiled the island’s future.
“Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help,” Trump said in a series of tweets a day after the capital city’s mayor appealed for help “to save us from dying.”
“They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort,” Trump wrote from his New Jersey golf club.
The tweets amounted to a biting response to San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, who had accused the Trump administration of “killing us with the inefficiency” after Hurricane Maria. She implored the president, who is set to visit the U.S. territory on Tuesday, to “make sure somebody is in charge that is up to the task of saving lives.”
“We are dying, and you are killing us with the inefficiency,” Cruz said at a news conference, her voice breaking with rage. “I am begging, begging anyone that can hear us, to save us from dying.”
It was an unusually pointed rebuke from the president in the heat of a disaster — a time when leaders often put aside partisan differences in the name of solidarity. But it was a reminder of Trump’s unrelenting penchant for punching back against critics, whatever the circumstances.
Trump has said he’s doing everything possible to help the “great people of PR!” and has pledged to spare no effort to help the island recover from Maria’s ruinous aftermath. He has also repeatedly applauded his government’s recovery efforts, saying military personnel and first responders have done “an amazing job,” despite the significant logistical challenges.
Thousands more Puerto Ricans have received water and rationed food as an aid bottleneck has begun to ease. But many, especially outside the capital, remain desperate for necessities, including water, power and fuel.
Trump’s administration has tried in recent days to combat the perception that he failed to quickly grasp the magnitude of Maria’s destruction and has given the U.S. commonwealth less attention than he’d bestowed on states like Texas, Louisiana and Florida after they were hit by hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Trump had repeatedly praised the residents of those states as strong and resilient, saying at one point that Texas could “handle anything.”
Administration officials have held numerous press conferences providing updates on relief efforts and Trump on Saturday spoke by phone from New Jersey with FEMA administrator Brock Long, Puerto Rico’s governor, Ricardo Rossello, and other several other local officials.
But after a week of growing criticism, the president’s patience appears to be waning.
“The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump,” the president charged, without substantiation.
FEMA administrator Brock Long also piled on: “The problem that we have with the mayor unfortunately is that unity of command is ultimately what’s needed to be successful in this response,” he said, requesting that she report to a joint field office.
Cruz declined to engage in the tit-for-tat, instead calling for a united focus on the people who need help. “The goal is one: saving lives. This is the time to show our ‘true colours.’ We cannot be distracted by anything else,” she tweeted, along with photos of herself meeting with residents and rescue workers, wading hip-deep through a flooded street and comforting an elderly woman.
After a day of tweets criticizing the news media, Trump seemed to echo the sentiment: “We must all be united in offering assistance to everyone suffering in Puerto Rico and elsewhere in the wake of this terrible disaster.”
Trump’s Saturday tweets are the latest example of his insistence on “punching back,” even against those with far less power. After a deadly terror attack in London in June, for instance, Trump singled out London Mayor Sadiq Khan, suggesting he wasn’t taking the attacks seriously enough.
Natural disasters sometimes bring moments of rare bipartisan solidarity. In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, which wreaked havoc along the East Coast in 2012, New Jersey’s Republican governor, Chris Christie, praised Democratic President Barack Obama for his personal attention and compassion at a joint press conference. Still, the fight over relief money became politicized and contentious, with numerous Republicans voting against a delayed relief bill.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, tensions between local and federal officials also ran high. Then-New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin pleaded with the government to send help in sometimes colorful terms, while Terry Ebbert, the city’s Homeland Security director, called relief efforts a “national disgrace.”
Kate Hale, Dade County’s emergency management chief during Hurricane Andrew, also blasted FEMA’s response in an angry news conference that was credited with spurring federal government action.
“I wasn’t there to criticize; I was there to beg for help,” she said. “I was terrified of what was going to happen to people that otherwise could have been saved. It was never my intention to criticize; it was my intention to cry for help, my intention to beg for help. And it came out like it did, because it just does.”
“We were all at the end of our rope,” she said. “We didn’t know what else to do.”
She called Cruz’s remarks a passionate outcry “from a woman who loves her community and the people in it, has watched it be destroyed and is now watching people die.”
‘They want everything to be done for them’: Trump lashes out at desperate Puerto Rico officials
Lisa Simone knows that, for the addicted, the bottom can be a hard, cold, lonely place — a crushing moment of inescapable truth about a life going to hell.
She also knows that, as painful as that is, the alternative is worse.
The Calgary native started using alcohol and drugs at 13. Seventeen years ago, she woke up in Houston, where she was living, to find her first husband dead of a drug overdose.
She was 26 and also addicted. Her son was 2.
“It didn’t get me sober,” she told the Star on Saturday at the annual Recovery Day celebration at David Pecaut Square. “It broke my soul.”
Inexplicably to the unaddicted, the capacity of addicts to keep using alcohol or drugs in the face of the worst kind of trauma, or the most overwhelming evidence of the harm being done, is almost limitless.
So Simone carried on. Until she couldn’t any longer.
She had gone home to Calgary. She remarried, blended families, and found herself parenting four children. She tried to get clean.
She attended 12-step meetings, stayed sober for two years, but began drinking again. She started using opioids.
“For those of us in addiction, none of us thinks it’s going to happen to us,” she said. “Until it does.”
The pain and self-loathing got worse.
Until, through the haze of a dozen pills and as many beers a day, came one of those moments of surrender and clarity.
On Aug. 20, Simone celebrated eight years clean and sober. She now lives in Chippewa, Ont., with her husband and family. She works in recovery.
Still, that doesn’t promise a life free of pain and challenge. Sobriety offers only the chance to cope, with some courage and dignity, with whatever comes one’s way.
This summer, Lisa Simone got blindsided again. Two days before her sobriety anniversary, she held a memorial service for her brother.
Scott Williams died in August of an opioid overdose in Calgary. His mother had found his body several days after his death.
Williams was an educated professional, a husband and father. Like most battling addiction, Simone said, he was a far cry from the caricature many have of addicts as irredeemably down and out, reeking, raving and living under bridges.
“Seventy-five per of alcoholics have a job,” she said. And even those on skid row are “somebody’s son, or brother, someone’s father. They’re loved by someone.”
Scott Williams should have been celebrating his 46th birthday on Saturday. Instead, his sister was — by “making my mess my message” — serving as a walking, talking example of hope to addicts and alcoholics.
Under sunny skies at Pecaut Square, with music, performance and stories of recovery, Simone helped celebrate “Sober in the 6ix.”
“My brother never reached out for help,” she said. “I think he found it incredibly hard to ask for help. It’s the only disease that tells you you don’t have it.”
And in her little family — her only sibling gone — was the story of addiction writ large, she said.
“One dies, one lives.”
Who can say why?
Five years ago, Simone and Annie McCullough started a national non-profit called Faces and Voices Recovery Canada in hopes of reducing the shame and stigma around addiction.
Around the same time, McCullough helped found Recovery Day, which this year was held in 36 municipalities across the country.
To Simone, the opioid crisis has made awareness even more important.
While the axiomatic destination of alcoholics is “jails, institutions or death,” opioids leave fewer options and deliver a quicker and more certain end.
“It’s only a matter of time,” she said. “It’s only death.”
Simone began her career in recovery counselling with Fresh Start Recovery Centre in Calgary, and now runs a satellite office in Chippewa.
Though alternating between tears and laughter in an interview with the Star on Saturday, she glowed with well-being and purpose.
“Recovery is happy, joyous and it’s free,” she said.
“I woke up two mornings ago, and my husband’s beside me and my dog’s beside me and the window’s open and in Chippewa you can hear the crickets.
“And I wanted to weep for how grateful I was and how much I love my life.”
Sober in the 6ix and happy to tell the tale for Recovery Day in T.O.
The happy couple — event planner Esther Katzman and food writer Suresh Doss — were expected to host the perfect wedding.
Indeed, a month before the big day, every detail was in place — the remote Niagara estate was booked, the elaborate vanilla-ginger and chocolate-hazelnut cakes were ordered and the embroidered parasols from India were ready to be hung in the dining tent.
And then their caterer ghosted them.
“I’ve worked with chefs in the past and knew that a lot of them didn’t check emails and preferred to keep their head down,” Doss said. “But when it came down to the three and four weeks before the wedding, we were in a bit of a panic mode,” he admitted.
“The first thing people said to us when we were sending invites was that the food and drinks were going to be amazing,” said Katzman, 31, a senior account manager with event and marketing company Mosaic. “I had people ask if they could buy a ticket to the wedding.”
But with the wedding less than a month away, they had no food to serve their 128 guests.
“The anxiety was growing and I told Esther that we needed to make a drastic decision,” said Doss, 39. He called off the original caterer and with the last-minute help of a few of the city’s best chefs and old friends in the food industry, the race wason to create a multi-course feast for 130 guests at a remote backyard venue in just 12 days.
Doss is the print editor of the Toronto edition of Foodism magazine and the new host of a weekly food segment on CBC’s Metro Morning that explores the GTA’s multicultural food spots. He leads private food tours introducing diners to international cuisines at family-run restaurants tucked away in the vastness of GTA’s suburbs. So, while food is an important part of most weddings, the pressure to have good food was paramount.
In late July, after the caterer fell through, Doss ran into his friend Carl Heinrich, chef and co-owner of downtown’s farm-to-table restaurant Richmond Station. The chef casually offered to help any way that he could. Days later,Doss fired off a late-night email to Heinrich asking if he could cater the event, which happened to be taking place on one of the busiest wedding weekends of the summer.
“We didn’t have the staff to do it, maybe if he asked us six months ago, but I told him I’ll see what I could do,” Heinrich said. He was keen on making sure there would be food at their wedding. After calling around to different chefs and caterers without any luck, Heinrich stepped up.
“When a friend needs help, I’m going to do what I can,” Heinrich said. “He’s always been supportive of my career, so we turned it into a collaborative food event, which is always fun for a chef to do.”
Heinrich rounded up Richmond Station’s general manager Jenn Hornak and three chef friends who happened to be free that weekend: Jesse Vallins of the Maple Leaf Tavern, Heinrich’s fellow Top Chef Canada Season 2 competitor Trista Sheen and his former sous chef, Alex White, now the chef at Niagara College’s Benchmark restaurant.
The chefs divided and conquered, hashing out a menu of dishes that could be assembled quickly on site using ingredients they already had, or could easily source such as carrots, fennel, zucchini and radish from Heinrich’s bounty grown at the 100-acre organic farm, called the New Farm near Creemore, Ont.
Eight days before the wedding, Heinrich emailed the couple the first draft of the menu — including quinoa and corn lettuce wraps with soybean hummus, scallop crudo, duck liver pate on toasted brioche, and pork and rabbit terrine to start. Doss and Katzman were elated with the menu that spoke to their love of local produce and tapas-style dining.
With the main menu attended to, the Sri Lankan-born Doss concentrated on finding a caterer to make hoppers, sweet and savoury crepes made from a batter of rice flour and coconut and cooked in a wok.
“We kept striking out because a lot of these guys aren’t used to cooking on such a big scale or could make the drive to Niagara.”
So once again he turned to a chef friend, this time it was Johnne Phinehas, chef and owner of downtown’s Saffron Spice Kitchen, a kothu roti takeout spot.
“He had a friend who could do it, and we had a three-way phone conversation where Johnny acted as the translator since I wasn’t completely fluent in Tamil,” he says.
Two days before their big Niagara bash, the hopper station consisting of a half dozen mini woks and butane camping stoves was confirmed.
On the day of the wedding, all the food stations were ready. Guests parked on the side of the dusty country road and walked across the sprawling lawn of the venue, where the chefs were at their stations, grills fired up and coolers unpacked.
“Carl showed up the day before to survey the venue and, with the exception of showing him where to put the garbage, we basically had no contact till it was time to eat,” Doss said. “As soon as I saw him and the other chefs pull up, we knew we didn’t have to worry about the food.”
It was the wedding feast of their dreams.
“Everyone started their conversation with me by saying how the food was amazing and that I had to try this or that.”
A sangria dispenser awaited guests at the bar along with wine and beers and ciders made for the couple by Oast House Brewers and West Avenue Cider.
Meanwhile, guests were welcomed with platters of pintxos and tapas: polenta fries with marinara sauce, grilled vegetables, salt cod on crusty bread, rabbit and pork terrine.
There were grilled sausage coils from Vallins, Heinrich and Sheen worked another grill serving bites of thinly-sliced charred skirt steak with chimichurri and flaky Sous-vide trout with corn puree.
A vegetable station offered wraps and beet salads, lighter fare than the late-night poutine truck White arranged from Niagara College.
The dessert buffet included the ginger-vanilla and chocolate-hazelnut cakes, marshmallows, meringues and pâte de fruits made by Michelle Edgar of the Sweet Escape patisserie in the Distillery District. Platters of burfi, a dense and milky South Asian confection typically served at celebrations, from Al-Karam Sweets in Scarborough, rounded out the dessert table.
“There was a point when the sun was going down and I was looking out on the yard, seeing people at the bar and at the tables with a glass in one hand and a plate of food in the other and we were relieved and honoured that Richmond Station was able to pull everything together,” Katzman said.
Guests feasted and drank, celebrating the union, unaware that the wedding of two of the most food-obsessed people they knew almost didn’t have any food on the table.
The couple did concede there was still one hitch that night: they forgot to put out the takeout food boxes for their guests.
How Toronto's chefs came together to save a wedding
The race to be leader of the New Democratic Party has rumbled down a long road since it quietly kicked off in January. There have been twists, but the course of the contest has generally followed a familiar route. Candidates came, candidates dropped out, policies were debated, French proficiency was scrutinized, and reporters speculated about who would win and by how much.
Now, finally, it is coming to an end.
Party members have been voting by mail and online since Sept. 18. On Sunday, the fruits of that effort will be revealed at a hotel on the Toronto waterfront. Charlie Angus, Niki Ashton, Guy Caron or Jagmeet Singh may become leader.
Or we may have to wait another week or two to find out who wins.
Chalk it up to the voting process installed by the party for the contest to replace Tom Mulcair as federal leader.
The NDP is voting by ranked ballot, which means each member will rank the candidates in order of preference from one to four. To win, a candidate must have the support of at least 50 per cent of voters. If nobody hits that threshold in the results unveiled Sunday, the fourth-place candidate will be eliminated, and voting will reopen Monday for a second ballot.
That process will repeat until somebody wins 50 per cent plus one vote.
The campaign, in part, has been a referendum on what went wrong in 2015, when hopes of forming government were dashed by Trudeau’s Liberals, and the NDP was relegated back to its traditional slot as a third-place party. The result was deflating for the party and its supporters given the massive success of the Orange Wave in the 2011 election, when the late Jack Layton led the NDP to its historic zenith: 103 seats and status as the official Opposition in the House of Commons.
Each candidate in this race has presented a different version of how to get back to that level of success. Ashton has argued the key is to veer left and win youthful voters who were seduced by the Liberals in 2015. Angus says the NDP became too cautious and bureaucratic, and believes it needs to reconnect with its grassroots base to regain the trust of working people.
Caron, a Quebec MP and economist by training, has pitched himself as the man with the policy chops who can bring in the most Quebec seats, thus preserving the 59-seat beachhead from the 2011 election that was reduced to 16 seats in 2015.
And then there is Jagmeet Singh, the perceived front-runner. His campaign boasts that it brought 47,000 people into the NDP during the leadership race. He has also raised more money than his opponents. The Ontario MPP from Brampton blatantly asserts he will win the race, and has said he is best positioned to expand party ranks by bringing in new members from areas — such as his suburban GTA enclave — where the NDP has traditionally been sidelined.
Karl Belanger, a former close adviser to Layton and Mulcair, said in a recent interview that each candidate has tried to frame their campaign around their “genuine” personality strengths.
He pointed out that the NDP — and its socialist precursor, the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation — has never shrunk its seat count in consecutive national elections.
“Ultimately winning is what this is all about,” he said. “That is something that is obvious to me.”
Whether that’s possible against Justin Trudeau and the Liberal party remains to be seen. But David Coletto, a political observer and CEO of Abacus Data in Ottawa, said his firm’s polling shows it is at least possible.
Yes, the NDP has fallen from its historic heights under Layton and Mulcair, but many Canadians seem willing to countenance the idea of voting for the social-democratic party.
“You look at the fundamentals and it says to me the NDP is down, but I don’t think they’re out,” Coletto said.
Speaking to reporters outside the House of Commons last week, in what may be one of his last interactions with the media before his successor is announced, Mulcair praised all four candidates in the race.
“I’m expecting us all to pull together and make sure that we support (the next leader) in everything they do, because whatever else happened in the last campaign, we’ve got 44 outstanding Members of Parliament now, really bringing the fight to the Trudeau Liberals,” he said.
Sunday’s first ballot event begins in Toronto at 2:30 p.m.
NDP leadership race nears the end — maybe
It was a week of hard fought competition, inspiring displays of strength, and for many, an important milestone in a challenging road to recovery.
As the 2017 Invictus Games drew to a close Saturday evening, families, dignitaries and hundreds of spectators gathered to celebrate the triumph of the 550 wounded service people and veterans who travelled from 17 countries to compete over the past week.
“Right now, you’re on a high — at the summit of a mountain many of you thought was too high to climb,” said Prince Harry.
“You have done it. This is the moment, right here, right now, shoulder to shoulder: You are Invictus.”
It’s a sentiment that echoed throughout the evening.
“The road here was not easy for any of you, but you were determined to take it,” said Premier Kathleen Wynne. “You proved something to all of us.”
“You showed us what it means to be unconquered,” said Michael Burns, the CEO of the Toronto games.
Saturday’s closing ceremonies, which featured performances by Bruce Springsteen, Bachman and Turner, Bryan Adams, and Kelly Clarkson were a fitting tribute to the competitors.
After a week of pushing to their limits, Invictus athletes, who filled the floor seats of the Air Canada Centre, clapped and stomped and sang along as the Boss belted “You can’t start a fire, you can’t start a fire without a spark.”
Later the crowd happily shared lead vocals with Bryan Adams as he rocked “Summer of ’69.”
But nothing’s better than two rock icons sharing the stage singing Adams’ “Cuts Like a Knife” and Springsteen’s “Badlands.”
Inspired by his own military service to advocate for service people, Prince Harry founded the Invictus Games as a way to help those wounded in war with their recovery. Harry served in Afghanistan in 2008 and in the early 2010s.
Invictus, which means “unconquered” in Latin, is an ode to a poem of the same name by British poet William Ernest Henley, whose leg was amputated below the knee after he became ill with bone tuberculosis.
Over the course of the nine-day event athletes from around the world — including 90 from Canada — competed in 12 sports, among them archery, cycling, wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball and land rover driving challenges.
Founded with an eye to rehabilitation, the games are about much more than winning, Harry said.
“They’re about the journey that you and your families have made to the start line,” he told the competitors.
It was an understanding that created a unique spirit of camaraderie among competitors.
“It’s the first games I saw that you cheer more for the person that finishes last than first,” Maj. Simon Mailloux, co-captain of the Canadian team, told the Star.
“You know they went through a lot just to be there.”
As the 2017 games came to close, Harry challenged the competitors, families, and spectators to carry the Invictus spirit with them.
“Let the examples of service and resilience that you have seen, inspire you to take action to improve something — big or small — in your life, for your family, or in your community,” he said.
“Let’s create a ripple effect of the Invictus spirit across our nations, that will be the real legacy of this extraordinary week.”
With files from Kerry Gillespie, Jaren Kerr and Victoria Gibson
‘Shoulder to shoulder — you are Invictus,’ Prince Harry tells athletes at closing ceremonies
From coffee grounds, to leftover fettuccine alfredo, to the slimy, brown head of lettuce forgotten at the back of your fridge, the Ontario government is aiming to keep all organic waste away from landfills.
It’s an ambitious target for a province that generates nearly 12 million tonnes of waste a year — more than 850 kilograms per person — and only recycles about a quarter of that amount.
If improvements aren’t made, the province’s landfills could run out of capacity within the next 20 years, the government warns.
In 2004, the Liberal government promised to boost the rate of waste diversion — through recycling and composting programs for example — to 60 per cent in four years. But 13 years later, the rate hasn’t changed. Now, the government has set its sights on an even more distant target of 100 per cent.
Hence the Strategy for a Waste-Free Ontario, which aims to create a “circular economy,” where waste is considered a resource that can be recovered, reused and reintegrated.
One area of focus is organic waste, which decomposes in landfills producing gases, such as methane, that contribute to global warming. Ontarians generate 3.7 million tonnes of organic waste per year, and greenhouse gas emissions from the waste sector — mostly organics in landfill — account for six per cent of the province’s total emissions.
The government’s organics action plan, to be implemented next year, includes the possibility of a ban on sending organics to landfills.
More than half the food waste in the province is generated at home, but the residential sector has steadily improved how much of that is diverted from landfills, with a rate now just over 50 per cent. In contrast, only a quarter of the food waste produced by the industrial, commercial and institutional sectors is diverted.
Fundamental changes are required in how people think of and treat organic waste, said Environment Minister Chris Ballard.
“Tinkering isn’t working,” he said. “This is as revolutionary, I believe, a plan as the original (recycling) blue box when we rolled it out and got everybody excited.”
Organics should be the next target on the waste frontier, experts say.
“We’re at a bit of a plateau in terms of diverting that waste,” said food and organic waste consultant Paul van der Werf. “We’ve probably tapped out just about everything that people will do on a voluntary basis.”
Zero waste sounds like an “aspirational goal,” but Ontarians have to decide if that’s something worth aspiring to, van der Werf said.
“If we (do), then we need to put some pretty strong measures in place to change what we’re presently doing and change our behaviours,” he said. “If we kept the status quo in our system and just tinkered a little bit, would we get to zero waste? No, not in a million years.”
While nearly all households in the province have access to recycling programs, not all municipalities have organic waste programs. Most of the larger ones — covering around two-thirds of the population — have green bin programs, but not everyone is using them properly.
“In Toronto, audits consistently show that even though people use their green bins, 40 per cent of what they’re putting in the garbage actually should have gone in the green bin,” said Emily Alfred of the Toronto Environmental Alliance.
The City of Kingston consistently has one of the best organic diversion rates, but still battles resistance, said its manager of solid waste.
“Most of the reasons why people don’t want to use it is this perception that it smells and that it’s gross or it attracts rodents,” Heather Roberts said. “(But) consider that all of the things that would go into your green bin would still go into your garbage bag.”
Kingston is also one of just nine municipalities that has extended green bin programs to condos and apartment buildings, but it’s not mandated, so there isn’t a lot of uptake, Roberts said.
The City of Toronto offers organic collection at about 65 per cent of its multi-residential buildings, and a few receive private pickup, officials said. But most Ontario municipalities still send their food waste from multi-residential buildings to landfill.
Municipalities with more than 50,000 people are required to have a leaf and yard waste program, but there is no such requirement yet for green bins.
Mandating collection of food and organic waste is another tool Ontario is considering, but smaller municipalities say that’s not feasible.
Dan Finnigan, environmental services manager for the town of Mattawa, said his community would need provincial support for a composting program.
“For the Town of Mattawa itself it would be a great program, but to be quite honest I think I would need some assistance from the government to maybe get it going and get it started up,” he said.
As Ontario considers a disposal ban on organics, it is looking to the examples of Nova Scotia and Metro Vancouver, which already have them in place.
Nova Scotia banned organics from landfills two decades ago. Even with a disposal rate much lower than the Canadian average, about half of what’s in the waste stream is still banned material, said Robert Kenney, the province’s recycling development officer.
“A disposal ban is ... an incentive for municipalities and the private sector to act,” he said. “You don’t get everything. You can’t get everything.”
Metro Vancouver’s recent ban was eased in, with inspectors targeting only loads with more than 25 per cent visible food waste and issuing surcharges, said Andrew Marr, the director of solid waste planning.
“What we were trying to target was, if you will, the worst offenders right off the bat,” he said. “We weren’t so concerned with getting every single apple core that somebody might be throwing out.”
It has been successful so far, Marr said. In the first year, 60,000 more tonnes of organics were diverted away from landfills and the garbage stream dropped from 36 per cent organics to 28 per cent.
On the commercial side, just a quarter of restaurants diverted organics before the ban, and now that figure is about three quarters, Marr said. But that represents an added cost, which isn’t easy for all to absorb.
“The line you have to cross is: is it more cost effective to compost this material or to throw it in the trash?” said James Rilett, the Ontario vice-president of Restaurants Canada.
The cost for the industrial, commercial and institutional sector to dispose of waste is $118 per tonne to the U.S. and $134 per tonne in Ontario, but $205 per tonne to divert.
The Provision Coalition works with food and beverage manufacturers to integrate sustainability into their business model, aiming to save businesses money by preventing food waste in the first place.
It’s common for food producers to turn waste into animal feed, but Cher Mereweather of the Provision Coalition said her organization will point out the energy, labour, water and raw ingredient costs that went into making that product.
“We really need to move away from this concept of, ‘Well, it’s OK, it gets composted,’ because there’s a significant cost and environmental impact of that wasted food in the first place,” she said.
Some manufacturers send product that won’t sell or is mislabelled to food banks, which is where organizations such as Second Harvest come in.
The food rescue charity picks up the food and delivers it to social service agencies, to the tune of about 4.7 million kilograms this year. But they won’t pick up anything less than 45 kilograms worth of food, said executive director Debra Lawson.
To ensure smaller food donors can participate in similar programs, Second Harvest is developing a web-based platform that would connect them to the closest agencies in need. Lawson said it’s hoped a pilot can be running next spring.
The Retail Council of Canada said grocery stores have a number of initiatives for trying to prevent food waste, including partnering with food banks, selling blemished fruit at a discount, and educating customers.
The restaurant industry points to customer behaviour as a major challenge as well.
Luc Erjavec, the Atlantic vice-president of Restaurants Canada, said Ontario should focus its attention on restaurants’ kitchens. In Nova Scotia, owners found it easier to control the back-of-house waste stream.
“When you get on the customer side it gets very different,” he said. “We can’t start tipping over garbage cans and trying to sort through the waste to make sure it’s not contaminated.”
Universities face the same dilemma too, said Dave Cano, the sustainability manager at Western University.
“If there’s no proper signage or proper education around how to use a composting program, then you most likely will find people putting things in the wrong stream,” Cano said.
Ballard said he sees a large role in the waste-free plan for the private sector, which can come up with innovative solutions and create jobs.
“We need to turn it into an industry,” he said. “Let’s not look at it like waste. Let’s look at it like a resource and treat it like a resource like anything else we pull out of the ground or from the air.”
Ontario considers ban on sending organic waste to landfills
MARSEILLE, FRANCE—A man with a knife stabbed two women to death Sunday at the main train station in the southern French city of Marseille as he reportedly shouted “Allahu akbar!” — an attack Daesh claimed was the work of one its “soldiers.”
French soldiers shot the man to death after the attacks and authorities were working to determine if he had links to Islamic extremism.
Interior Minister Gerard Collomb, who went to Marseille to meet with local authorities and troops on the scene, said police have video that shows the man attacking a woman and running away, then coming back and attacking a second woman.
The video shows the man running toward soldiers who were rushing to Marseille’s Saint Charles train station. The soldiers fatally shot him and both women died of their injuries, Collomb said.
Some witnesses reported hearing the assailant shout “Allahu akbar!” Arabic for “God is great,” Collomb said.
The Paris prosecutor’s office, which oversees all terror cases in France, said it had opened a counterterrorism investigation into the Marseille attack.
The Daesh-linked Aamaq news agency said in a statement Sunday night that the assailant was acting in response to Daesh calls to target countries in the U.S.-led coalition fighting Daesh extremists in Syria and Iraq.
The statement did not provide details or evidence of a direct link to the attacker. France has been part of the anti-Daesh coalition since 2014 and has been repeatedly targeted by Daesh attacks.
Police sources told The Associated Press that one of the victims was stabbed and one had her throat slit. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly about the investigation.
Collomb declined to provide any details about the suspect or identify the victims.
Earlier this month, four American college students were attacked with acid at the same Marseille train station. French authorities said the female assailant who doused the four Boston College students was suffering from a mental illness.
French President Emmanuel Macron said he was “deeply outraged” by Sunday’s “barbarous” knife attack. In a tweet, Macron paid tribute to the French soldiers who responded “with cool heads and efficiency.”
The French government this month decided to maintain the military force of 7,000 soldiers that was created to protect sensitive sites after the deadly extremist attacks of 2015.
The Saint Charles train station was evacuated and closed for several hours after the attack, and Marseille police warned people to avoid the area. The train station was partially reopened in the late afternoon.
Daesh claims credit for Marseille stabbing that killed 2 women
Fifteen months after Metrolinx approved two controversial new GO Transit stations, the agency has released the internal report that recommended against building the stops.
The study, which was prepared by consultants, ranked new stations Metrolinx considered for addition to the GO network last year.
As the Star previously reported, it determined Kirby and Lawrence East stations shouldn’t be considered for another decade. Despite that evidence, the Metrolinx board voted in June 2016 to proceed with the stops.
Kirby is in the Vaughan riding of Liberal MPP and Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca, and Lawrence East in Scarborough is part of Mayor John Tory’s “SmartTrack” plan. Internal documents show the board initially decided not to support the stations, but changed course after being pressured by Del Duca’s ministry.
A draft version of the report was leaked to the Star in June, but on Friday the agency posted it on its website, making the analysis public for the first time.
Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins confirmed board members, who are appointed on the recommendation of the minister, were provided with a draft of the report before the vote “to aid with their decision making.”
Although the version the board saw was not substantially different from the one posted Friday, Aikins said Metrolinx didn’t make the report public until now because it “was a work in progress and needed revisions before it was considered final.”
The report’s conclusions and data weren’t altered, according to Aikins. Instead “the revisions focused on grammar changes, readability and factual errors or overstatements.”
Ontario PC transportation critic Michael Harris said it shouldn’t have taken so long for Metrolinx to make those revisions. He argued the report should have been ready to publish at the time of the vote.
“I would hope that when a board like Metrolinx is about to render a decision on hundreds and millions of dollars worth of taxpayers’ money, that they would have a report that contained all of the facts, and that would be in its final form,” he said.
Kirby would cost an estimated $100 million to build, while Lawrence East is expected to cost $23 million. They were among 12 new stations the board approved as part of Metrolinx’s $13.5-billion regional express rail expansion program.
Harris, who represents Kitchener-Conestoga, said if the report had been published before the vote, Metrolinx would have had to explain to the public why it was rejecting analysis it had commissioned.
“I still don’t think we’ve had that explanation yet from Metrolinx or the minister on why the decision was made, other than political interference,” he said.
As a result of the Star’s ongoing investigation into the station approval process, Metrolinx said earlier this month that from now on it will publish reports about projects before they are put to a vote.
The report released Friday was prepared by the AECOM engineering firm. It analyzed the business cases for 24 proposed stations and ranked them from best to lowest performing.
Criteria used to rank the stops included whether stations would provide benefits that exceeded their costs, meet strategic objectives, contribute to the overall fit of the network, and allow GO to maintain rapid express rail service.
The report also considered how certain “sensitivity scenarios” — including the proposed redevelopment of the Unilever site and allowing passengers to board at Toronto stops for the same price as a TTC fare — would impact stations’ performance.
After being put through the analysis, Kirby ranked last out of seven potential new stations on GO’s Barrie line. Although the Metrolinx board approved Kirby, it rejected two stations that ranked above it, St. Clair West and Highway 7 Concord.
Lawrence East ranked fourth out of five proposed stops on the Stouffville line. The three stops ahead of it were also approved.
Emails obtained by the Star show that in June 2016, the Metrolinx board met in private and approved a list of 10 stations that didn’t include Kirby or Lawrence East. The following day, Del Duca’s ministry sent the agency news releases showing he planned to announce stops the board hadn’t supported. Twelve days later the board reconvened in public and voted to approve Kirby and Lawrence East.
Del Duca has said he provided “input” into the station approval process, but has declined to answer specific questions about his role, dismissing the events as “historical details.”
He has said he believes “several significant residential and employment developments” planned around the Kirby site will justify a new GO station there.
Earlier this month Metrolinx announced it would review the two stations, and the agency and Del Duca have both stated neither will be built if the additional analysis doesn’t support them. The review is expected to be completed by February. It will not examine the role political interference played in the approval process.
On Wednesday, the all-party public accounts committee at Queen’s Park voted to ask the auditor general to perform a “value-for-money” audit of Kirby and Lawrence East. She is expected to include the review in her 2018 annual report, which will be released around November.
Metrolinx finally releases report on controversial GO stations
An elderly couple has died after their Etobicoke home was found to have a high level of carbon monoxide.
Toronto Fire Services said at 9:26 p.m. at a house on Bywood Dr. and Remington Dr. near Kipling Ave., the man and woman were found in the garage and CPR was performed on scene. They are both in their 80s.
Carbon monoxide is a colourless and odourless gas that is common in household appliances such as heating systems and some cooking appliances. A running vehicle engine can also cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Large exposure to it can cause loss of consciousness and death.
Toronto police said it is too early in the investigation to consider the incident as suspicious or not.
Toronto Fire Services said the carbon monoxide will not affect any of the surrounding homes.
Elderly couple dead after high levels of carbon monoxide found in Etobicoke home
Within days of opening her new bar in west-end Toronto, Carmen Elle had equipped the venue with what she considers a key piece of equipment: a naloxone kit.
Elle, who is also a musician, said it took time to find a pharmacy that carried the free kits, which are used to temporarily reverse overdoses from opioids including the deadly drug fentanyl.
But having one on hand — and making sure staff know how to use it — is crucial to ensure the venue, named Less Bar, is a safe space for all patrons, she said.
“Any possible way to avoid somebody seriously OD-ing and possibly dying, I think it’s the responsibility of everybody who manages and runs these spaces (to do it),” Elle said. “Why wouldn’t we all just do that? It’s so easy.”
As public health officials across Canada seek ways to tackle what they’ve called a growing opioid crisis, some in the nightlife industry are taking steps of their own.
Several bars and music venues in Toronto now stock naloxone kits, and while the Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association does not have a policy on the opioid antidote, its president Tony Elenis said members are taking precautions nonetheless.
The bar owners association of Quebec, meanwhile, said it was weighing a policy on naloxone kits, with a decision expected in the coming weeks. The Alliance of Beverage Licensees of British Columbia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Lee’s Palace, a popular music venue in Toronto, got a kit earlier this year after its assistant manager, Norm Maschke, was advised to do so by a friend who is an outreach worker.
Since then, Maschke has encouraged others to follow suit, saying the kits are “a must, not just a want.”
“People do like to party late at night at bars and music clubs and elsewhere and it would be in our best interest to make sure that if somebody does end up in a compromising position that we can at least help them as best we can. To not do it is negligent,” he said.
So far, there have been no fentanyl-related incidents at Lee’s, Maschke said. Still, he said, “I feel like it’s inevitable and I don’t want to just push it off and then be met with a situation and then I’m not prepared.”
Toronto Public Health said there are no downsides to having access to the kits in bars and other venues.
“Naloxone should be available at any location where there may be people at risk of overdose,” the agency said. “Additionally, anyone who needs access to naloxone should be allowed to carry and administer it, including people who use drugs, their friends and family, or others who may be in a position to administer this life-saving medicine.”
At least 2,816 Canadians died from opioid-related causes in 2016 and the country’s chief public health officer predicts that number will surpass 3,000 this year.
Naloxone is available without a prescription at pharmacies in several provinces, including Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.
The number of kits distributed through Toronto pharmacies has increased since they were made available by the province in July of last year, according to public health officials.
Close to 1,400 were handed out by Toronto pharmacies between January and March of this year, with another 1,039 distributed by Toronto Public Health during that time, the agency said.
One hurdle for those interested in having a kit is that pharmacies can run out, said Elle, who said it took some searching to find one.
“It’s available but it doesn’t seem to be in great enough supply that you can just go into any Shoppers Drug Mart and grab one,” she said.
What’s more, obtaining one can be an intimidating process, she said, noting that she received what she called strange looks from those giving out the kit. It felt awful to experience even a fraction of the stigma that people who use substances must face, she said.
“I don’t want that to happen at Less Bar and I’m looking to create an atmosphere where that doesn’t really happen.”
Toronto bars, music venues begin stocking naloxone kits in face of opioid crisis
A battle over bike lanes is boiling over in Toronto’s east end.
Just three weeks after the city installed separated cycle tracks on a 3.7-kilometre stretch of Woodbine Ave., more than 3,000 people have signed a petition demanding Mayor John Tory have them removed.
Critics complain that the project has caused increased traffic congestion on Woodbine, and drivers are darting dangerously onto side streets to avoid it.
They also charge that the city didn’t adequately consult the community about the plans, and they claim there aren’t enough cyclists on Woodbine to justify designated lanes. According to cycling counts from May 2016, daytime cyclist volume on the street was between 150 and 200 cyclists per day.
Among the more outspoken critics is Warren Kinsella, the former federal Liberal strategist, who lives on a residential street off Woodbine. He’s likened the backlash to “a citizen’s revolt.”
“My street’s turned into a speedway,” he told a talk radio station recently. “And the concern, obviously, is a kid might get hit or hurt, or worse. It’s really created quite a mess of the neighbourhood.”
Proponents of the lanes say such concerns are overblown.
“It’s a knee-jerk reaction. It’s a NIMBY response,” said Mary Ann Neary, a leader of local cycling advocacy group 32 Spokes. She’s one of nearly 2,000 people who have signed a competing petition urging city hall to keep the lanes.
She argued that the cycle tracks have made the community safer for children, not more dangerous.
“I now actually see kids riding their bikes on the Woodbine bike lane... They now actually have a safe option to travel in the area,” she said.
The Woodbine lanes, which run from O’Connor Dr. to Queen St. E., were identified as a key cycling route in the city’s 10-year cycling plan council passed in June 2016.
They’re currently the only north-south separated bike lanes east of the downtown core, and they connect to key east-west cycling routes, as well as to bike lanes proposed on Danforth Ave.
Although the lanes aren’t packed with cyclists yet, Neary argues that, as the connectivity of Toronto’s bike infrastructure improves, they will induce demand.
“The whole thing we’re trying to do here is to get people who want to consider an alternate way to (get around the city) to be able to see themselves actually doing it in a safe way. That sometimes takes a little time,” she said.
The Woodbine project, as well as two much shorter lanes proposed for Corley and Norway Aves., are projected to cost an estimated $400,000 to install.
The configuration of the lanes varies; some sections of Woodbine incorporate a barrier in the form of flexi-post bollards, while others offer no more protection than painted “sharrows” on the pavement.
In general, car traffic has been reduced to one lane in each direction, with dedicated left-turn lanes at major intersections.
The design was “anticipated to provide sufficient capacity for accommodating traffic-flow,” according to a report that went before council. But longer traffic cues were expected at four major intersections, which staff have attempted to mitigate by retiming signals.
Jacquelyn Hayward Gulati, the city’s director of transportation infrastructure management, said her department is aware thousands of people oppose the bike lanes and “we’re working to mitigate their concerns.”
She acknowledged city staff have observed congestion at the afternoon rush hour, but said some of the problem is a result of water-main work and streetcar track replacement at nearby Coxwell Ave. and Queen.
Her department plans to conduct a traffic study on Woodbine next spring and “make additional changes, as deemed necessary,” Gulati said.
“We’re not just slapping them down and walking away; we absolutely will monitor the situation,” said local Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon (Ward 32 Beaches-East York), a vocal proponent of the lanes.
In response to claims that public consultation was inadequate, McMahon said the city sent out more than 35,000 flyers and held two public meetings, and she and the other councillor representing the project-area knocked on every door on Woodbine.
“I can’t see what else we could have done besides actually sitting down for dinner with every resident,” said McMahon.
While cities such as Montreal and New York have pursued new cycling infrastructure aggressively in recent years, there is precedent in Toronto for removing bike lanes; most famously, in 2012, under then mayor Rob Ford. the city spent about $300,000 to scrub out the Jarvis St. bike lanes. Under Ford, who campaigned against the “war on the car,” the city also removed bike lanes on Pharmacy Ave. and Birchmount Rd. in Scarborough.
McMahon is adamant there won’t be a repeat on Woodbine; the new bike lanes are “locked and sealed into our 10-year cycling plan,” she said, which she added is key to improving bike safety and meeting the city’s climate change goals.
“We’re not ripping anything out from the cycling plan,” said McMahon.
“They’re going to stay put.”
Woodbine bike lanes here to stay despite controversy, councillor says
IQALUIT—There is, admittedly, rarely a perfect occasion for an unseasonable blizzard, but the storm that blew into Iqaluit with a vengeance on Saturday afternoon could not have picked a more unfortunate moment to shut down the entire town.
The conference portion of the first-ever Nunavut Music Week had just ended on an emotional high note, with the intimate group of northern musicians and southern delegates who’d spent the previous four days sharing ideas, soaking up music and forging friendships embracing in a giant group hug after an appreciative post-mortem session that left most in the room with tears in their eyes.
The stage was set for an explosive final night out on the town: ferocious Inuk rising star Tanya Tagaq would demolish the nearby Inuksuk High School with an early-evening performance, then everyone would move to Iqaluit’s Royal Canadian Legion hall for a second night of Nunavut Music Week showcases climaxing in a headlining performance by festival creator/curators the Jerry Cans.
As it turns out, however, the power outage that had a couple of hours earlier briefly forced the conference’s media panel (of which this writer was a part) to conduct its discussions in semi-darkness at the Nunavut Francophone Association building was but a faint harbinger of things to come.
Just as everyone was about to part ways and ready themselves for the fun to come, word came down that the Legion would not be opening that night due to the weather, cabs were being taken off the icy roads and Tagaq’s performance had been cancelled. A thick veil of windblown snow had descended upon the city, Frobisher Bay had been rendered invisible and a slick layer of ice underneath the drifts made walking nearly as treacherous as driving.
Even in the north, such a whiteout in late September is uncommon. As frazzled Jerry Cans frontman Andrew Morrison put it: “This is unheard of.”
Northerners are nothing if not resourceful, however, and within the hour it was decreed that the closing-night festivities would move to the home of genial Jerry Cans drummer Steve Rigby — a chap so generous with his time and energy that, after chauffeuring Nunavut Music Week guests around in his truck for much of the week, he still had it in him to whip around the dark, deserted streets on a snowmobile tugging a caribou-pelt-lined qamutik (or “sled,” if you prefer the less elegant expression) picking up those partygoers unwilling to risk cracking their skulls open on a walk to his place.
Rigby’s living room became an impromptu stage, an assortment of instruments left over from his high-school days served as “gear,” disco lights were unleashed upon the ceiling, everyone piled whatever booze they had into a big bin by the door and … well … a proper rager ensued. Meanwhile, Tagaq and violinist/producer Jesse Zubot arrived with the very good news that they’d postponed their flights out of town and that their Iqaluit show would happen on Sunday instead. All was suddenly right with the world again.
As it turns out, it was the perfect way to end Nunavut Music Week. Morrison and his partner and Jerry Cans co-vocalist Nancy Mike had said from the beginning that they wanted visitors to the conference to experience the northern way of life as much as they did the Inuktitut music they’ve been championing with their recently established Aakuluk Music label, and Nunavut certainly delivered that experience on Saturday, emphasizing in fine meteorological style just one of the many logistical barriers that make it so difficult for northern music to be heard in the rest of Canada and around the world.
Mainly, though, the impromptu house party — which featured enjoyably loose performances by boffo local blues-rockers the Trade-Offs, most of Igloolik’s legendary Northern Haze and, of course, a thoroughly whiskey-soaked Jerry Cans, not to mention a demonstration of traditional competition throat singing between local singer/songwriter Riit and a young woman named Avery — fit the informal vibe of the small, friendly and unpretentious Nunavut Music Week gathering as a whole. “Northern hospitality” is a very real thing.
Moreover, Saturday night’s joyous denouement demonstrated just how close-knit and resourceful this tiny yet mighty scene really is, and just how much talent has been able to thrive here against the odds.
Five or 10 years from now, when Nunavut Music Week has grown into whatever it will grow into — and it will grow because there’s far too much world-class music being made up here for it not to grow — everyone in attendance will speak fondly of that almost-disastrous first year and the house party at “453” that saved it all.
A musical conduit between north and south has been opened. I don’t see it closing.
A snowstorm shut down Iqaluit, and that's when the real party started A snowstorm shut down Iqaluit, and that's when the real party started A snowstorm shut down Iqaluit, and that's when the real party started A snowstorm shut down Iqaluit, and that's when the real party started
A Toronto man, who was held in immigration detention for five-and-a-half years, has launched a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against Ottawa.
Abdirahmaan Warssama, 54, was detained at two maximum security detention facilities, first in Toronto and later in Lindsay, Ont., from May 2010 to December 2015 while waiting for his deportation to Somalia.
Over 2,042 days behind bars, he underwent more than 70 detention reviews but each time an independent panel sent him back to jail, convinced he was likely to flee and fail to appear for his removal — until a Federal Court judge overturned his continued detention and ordered Ottawa to explore the possibility of returning Warssama to Somalia and consider alternatives to detention.
“The sole purpose of his detention was to facilitate his removal from Canada to Somalia. Yet for the totality of his detention, removal to Somalia was never attempted,” said Warssama’s statement of claim against the federal government filed with the court Thursday. He is seeking $55 million in damages.
“Despite the fact (that) he suffered from mental health issues, his detention was solely administrative not punitive, and he was not considered a danger to the public, yet at all material times, Warssama was detained in a maximum-security prison.”
The claims have not been proven in court. The Attorney General of Canada, the defendant, has declined to comment because of the ongoing court process. No statement of defence has yet been filed.
While incarcerated, Warssama alleged in the lawsuit, he was subjected to “humiliating and degrading experiences,” including being strip-searched, physically assaulted, robbed, denied warm clothing and health care, forced to endure freezing temperatures, unsanitary living conditions and lengthy and numerous lockdowns.
Warssama came to Canada for asylum in 1989 but the claim was denied in the same year. He was allowed to stay in Canada on humanitarian grounds — partially due to his diagnosis with post-traumatic stress disorder. However, he kept moving around and never obtained his permanent residence status.
In 2005 and 2006, he was arrested and charged with assault, failing to appear and uttering threats, for which he received a suspended sentence and 18 months’ probation, as well as a day in jail and 87 days pre-sentence custody. Since he’s neither a permanent resident nor citizen, his criminality made him inadmissible to Canada.
Warssama’s lawyer, Subodh Bharati, said the Canada Border Services Agency had a policy of not forcibly removing people to Somalia and would only deport someone to African country if the person was willing to sign a “voluntary statutory declaration” indicating one’s genuine desire to return.
“He is not the same person he used to. He is angry and upset . . . He still can’t sleep properly. When he is outside, he feels people are following him,” Bharati said in an interview.
In his statement of claim, Warssama said his “unlawful” detention was the result of malicious prosecution by the border agency and negligence by the detention review tribunal that was under the Immigration and Refugee Board.
“The Immigration and Refugee Board ignored evidence and used detention as a means to punish the plaintiff for not signing what it knew or ought to have known was a false statutory declaration,” according to the lawsuit.
“The infringement of (Warssama’s) liberty became arbitrary and contrary to the principle of fundamental justice that prohibits limitations that are not related to the legislation’s purpose.”
Due to repeated jail lockdowns, Warssama claimed in his lawsuit, he was unable to contact his family and lawyer or receive visitors. On two occasions — on May 20, 2014 and August 10, 2014 — he was assaulted by other inmates causing him injury and the loss of two teeth, the lawsuit claimed.
Warssama, who now lives with his sister, said he still suffers from physical and psychological problems: headaches, nightmares, dizziness, shock, anxiety, depression, emotional trauma, chronic pain, insomnia and weakness.
“I still have bad dreams from the detention. It’s hard to start your life again. You just can’t get your life back,” he told the Star in an interview. Warssama is still without status pending removal and must report to the border agency every three weeks.
He has applied for permanent resident status based on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, as well as an assessment of the risk he could face if removed to Somalia. Both decisions are pending.
Asylum-seeker sues federal government over ‘humiliating’ 5-year imprisonment
BRANCHBURG, N.J.—President Donald Trump on Sunday scoffed at “politically motivated ingrates” who had questioned his administration’s commitment to rebuilding Puerto Rico after a pulverizing hurricane and said the federal government had done “a great job with the almost impossible situation.”
The tweets, from a president ensconced in his New Jersey golf club for the weekend and set to attend an international golf competition near New York City before returning to the White House, sought to defend Washington’s attentiveness to recovery efforts on a U.S. territory in dire straits almost two weeks after Hurricane Maria struck.
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz on Friday accused the Trump administration of “killing us with the inefficiency” after the storm. She begged the president, who is set to visit Puerto Rico on Tuesday, to “make sure somebody is in charge that is up to the task of saving lives,” and appealed for help “to save us from dying.”
Cruz said Sunday that “there’s only one goal, and it’s saving lives,” adding that all she did “was ask for help.”
“I know the good heart of the American people and I know that when a mayday sound goes off, they come to the rescue,” she said in a television interview.
Trump’s weekend tweets have shown him to be contemptuous of any complaints about a laggard U.S. response to the natural disaster that has imperiled the island’s future. He has repeatedly blamed the press for what he sees as unfair coverage of the situation on the ground, where power is out and many people are without food, water and fuel.
“We have done a great job with the almost impossible situation in Puerto Rico. Outside of the Fake News or politically motivated ingrates ... people are now starting to recognize the amazing work” done by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the military, the president tweeted.
The day before, Trump had lashed out at Cruz, deriding “poor leadership ability” by her and others in Puerto Rico “who are not able to get their workers to help.”
He added, without elaboration: “They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort.”
In times of disasters, leaders often shelve partisan differences. But Trump has a penchant for punching back against critics, whatever the circumstances.
“When the president gets attack, he attacks back,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said, who adding that the mayor’s comments were “unfair, given what the federal government has done.”
But to Sen. Bernie Sanders, Trump’s tweets were “unspeakable.”
He characterized the president as “speaking from his fancy golf club, playing golf with his billionaire friends, attacking the mayor of San Juan, who is struggling” to bring electricity, food, water and gas to the island. “I don’t know what world Trump is living in.”
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who challenged Trump for the GOP presidential nomination last year, said “when people are in the middle of the disaster, you don’t start trying to criticizing them. I just — I don’t know what to say.”
The Trump administration said it had more than 10,000 federal officials on the ground, and that urban search and rescue teams have covered the entire island, searching more than 2,649 structures. Fifty-nine hospitals are partially operational, and 45 per cent of customers have access to drinking water, officials said. Stores are also opening, with nearly half of grocery and big box stores, and more than 60 per cent of retail gas stations open for business.
FEMA chief Brock Long said the agency has worked to fix roads, establish emergency power and deliver fuel to hospitals. He said telecommunications are available to about one-third of the island.
“Oh, I believe the Puerto Ricans are pulling their weight. I mean, I think they’re doing what they can,” he said.
Trump’s administration has tried in recent days to combat the perception that he failed to quickly grasp the magnitude of Maria’s destruction and has given the U.S. commonwealth less attention than he’d bestowed on Texas, Louisiana and Florida after they were hit by hurricanes.
“The bottom line is at least for the first week and a half the effort has been slow-footed, disorganized, and not adequate,” Sen. Chuck Schumer said.
He urged Trump “to stop calling names, stop downgrading the motives of people who are calling for help, but roll up his sleeves and get to work.”
Cruz was on ABC’s This Week, Long and Mnuchin spoke on NBC’s Meet the Press, Sanders was on CNN’s State of the Union and Schumer appeared on CBS’ Face the Nation.
Trump calls his Puerto Rico critics ‘ingrates’
Two men are dead following an early Sunday morning shooting in the Port Lands.
Toronto police rushed to a parking lot outside Rebel nightclub, near Cherry and Polson Sts., around 3:10 a.m. for reports of a shooting.
When emergency services arrived, they found two men in their 20s with gunshot wounds.
Paramedics said one man was pronounced dead on scene. The second victim was rushed to a local hospital in life-threatening condition, where he later died from his injuries. Both men are believed to have been patrons of the nightclub.
“There was an altercation that occurred in the parking lot of Rebel nightclub, and we believe that altercation is what led to the shooting,” said Detective Kathy Stephenson from Toronto’s homicide unit.
She said a black vehicle was seen speeding away from the scene and last observed heading north on the Don Valley Parkway. No suspect information is available at this time, but Stephenson said they are speaking to witnesses and reviewing security footage provided by the nightclub.
Forensics are on scene. Anyone who might have information about the shooting is encouraged to speak to police.
Two men dead after shooting outside Rebel nightclub in the Port Lands
OXBOW, SASK.—The two-storey cedar home where Shirley Galloway lives with her family was a solitary dot on the Saskatchewan prairie when they moved here 21 years ago.
The view from the front porch, once a landscape of rolling hills, horse pastures and lush river valley, has been transformed.
Today, Oxbow is surrounded by bobbing, black steel pump jacks and flare stacks burning off hydrogen sulphide and other dangerous gases that rise with the oil and trail off in ribbons of flame over green fields.
Late in the afternoon of Oct. 30, 2012, Galloway, a 53-year-old registered nurse, heard screams from the front yard.
Galloway dashed out to find a teenage family member vomiting and the air thick with the rotten-egg smell of sour gas — hydrogen sulphide (H2S).
Galloway, who trains oil workers to survive these same events, knew what to do.
She pulled the teen inside, grabbed an air monitor and held it out the door. The reading was off the dial — more than 100 parts per million — a level immediately dangerous to human health.
Saskatchewan’s oil boom has brought jobs for many. For others, it has brought fear, injury and one death.
The number of “fracked” wells in the Bakken shale oilfield alone increased from 75 in 2004 to nearly 3,000 in 2013, according to a 2016 paper by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. The promise of prosperity, similar to its southern neighbour North Dakota’s Bakken boom, has been embraced by a province struggling to diversify its economy.
A national investigation by the Toronto Star, the National Observer, Global News and journalism schools at Regina, Concordia, Ryerson and UBC has uncovered failures by industry and government to respond to — and warn the public about — the serious and sometimes deadly threat of H2S gas wafting across Saskatchewan.
Documents obtained through freedom-of-information requests and from whistleblowers — internal correspondence, meeting minutes, presentations and inspection reports — disclose findings of failures in performance by oil and gas companies, including serious infractions, failed safety audits, daily H2S readings beyond provincial air quality standards and a death in 2014.
Yet regulatory standards remain largely unchanged and H2S incidents and risks remain hidden from the public.
The teen overcome in Galloway’s yard eventually recovered but missed school for several days with nausea and headaches.
H2S can be an insidious killer.
Heavier than air, it tends to settle in ravines and valleys.
Just above the level Galloway’s monitor detected — 100 parts per million — H2S causes olfactory paralysis, leaving a victim unable to detect the rotten-egg smell. Continued exposure at that level may cause death within 48 hours.
A person exposed to a highly concentrated plume of the gas — at 1,000 parts per million — may die rapidly from respiratory paralysis, or over the course of days, from an inflammatory reaction in the lungs.
Victims effectively suffocate.
The government issued no public warning after Galloway reported the plume at her home because “there was no evidence that this was a widespread failure.” But inside government and industry offices, documents indicate the seriousness of H2S issues that led to years of meetings, audits and proposed regulatory reforms.
On April 7, 2014, government and industry officials deliberated about releasing data that showed H2S “hotspots” across southeastern Saskatchewan.
“Government may be accused of hiding information,” the notes read. “Public will want to know: 1. What are the areas? 2. How is it managed? 3. How is the government making sure it’s managed?” one unnamed official told the meeting. “Are we creating a risk by not releasing this data immediately?”
Despite acknowledging “significant” public health risks from H2S, at least some officials present expressed concern about “sensitivity in this data (because) there are residents living in these areas.”
No release followed.
Three weeks later, government-proposed fines for emission breaches — up to $1 million in penalties — were rejected by two major industry groups. In a letter to the ministry dated April 29, 2014, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) and Explorers and Producers Association of Canada (EPAC) called the proposed penalties “unsuitable.”
A former ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of losinghis current job in the industry, says “almost every amendment was being rejected.”
EPAC officials declined comment.
Terry Abel, CAPP’s spokesperson, said the letter was intended to explain that, “in some cases, fines aren’t appropriate at all … If there’s an unsafe operation, it should be shut down. It shouldn’t be operating. That’s the best way to ensure the public safety is protected.”
The proposed fines were dropped.
The next month, Michael Bunz, a 38-year-old salesman supplying chemicals to oil and gas facilities, lay in a shack 80 kilometres from the Galloway house, dead after being exposed to H2S.
The official incident report filed with the Ministry of the Economy, which regulates Saskatchewan’s oilfields, makes no mention of Bunz’s death.
These regulators “are really thinking about the economic health of the province,” says Emily Eaton, a professor at the University of Regina who has studied the relationship between the oil industry and the government. Eaton is a member of the Corporate Mapping Project.
A shift in 2012 — from the Ministry of Energy and Resources to a new Ministry of the Economy tasked with regulating natural resource extraction and promoting economic development — changed the ministry’s role from watchdog to partner, she says.
“They’re thinking about returns on investment … The industry should really be regulated by those that have the interests of the environment first.”
Ministry field staff raised this concern at a meeting on July 1, 2015, between government and industry.
“The role of the regulator needs to be adjusted,” the meeting’s minutes read. “The regulators are acting as consultants in some situations. The role of the regulator is to enforce the rules and if the rules are clear and if enforcement is consistent and clear then, ‘cultural’ changes can be made.”
In its statement, the ministry rejects criticisms of conflict of interest or lax enforcement.
“Within the Ministry of the Economy, the petroleum and natural gas division carries out industry regulation,” wrote the department’s spokeswoman, Deb Young. “It is not involved in investment attraction, royalty and tax assessment and land sales. It is solely focused on well, facility and pipeline regulation.”
That regulation has not included fines or prosecutions.
The ministry has not issued a single fine against any industry company “for well over a decade,” Doug MacKnight, assistant deputy minister responsible for petroleum and natural gas, said in an interview.
“Generally, we don’t have to resort to that,” he said. “It’s usually just a notice to the operator to bring themselves into compliance.”
Prosecutions have also not been part of the ministry’s enforcement practices because non-compliance was dealt with “through other enforcement actions,” reads the ministry’s statement.
Other enforcement actions include increased inspections and staff, high-tech equipment for detecting emissions and a $69-million inspection reporting database (which can’t be accessed by the public).
Still, complaints of illness from residents and workers continue.
“I will sometimes get faint, like I will fall over and I have to find a seat quickly,” says Lori Erhardt, a United Church minister and musician living near Oxbow who believes her chronic illness is related toemissions.
“I have had a variety of diagnoses, most of them end with “i-t-i-s,” which means inflammation … If something gets inflamed, if it’s blood vesicles, you feel it through your body.”
Among the five years’ worth of documents obtained by this investigation is an April 2012 PowerPoint presentation to CAPP members by the director of the province’s petroleum and natural gas division. It includes a map of southeastern Saskatchewan showing a bloom of red and orange circles, labelled “critical sour gas locations.”
Sources say ministry staff pushed to make the data public but senior government officials said “there’s no goddamn way that is going to be released,” according to the former ministry source.
“There’s an institutional reluctance to make this information public,” he said. “The public should be able to see all the information that legislators have identified as public information such as sour gas and inspection reports.”
The ministry statement says the map was never approved for release because some data was out of date, not comprehensive and “could provide the public and industry with a false understanding of risk associated with a particular well or facility.”
After the Galloway incident, the ministry inspected 11 oil and gas facilities. All failed “with serious infractions,” including releasing H2S at lethal levels “that may be exceeding 150,000 (parts per million),” Brad Herald, CAPP’s Saskatchewan operations manager, wrote to the board of governors in December 2012.
Those levels are 150 times the amount that could cause instant death.
Among the causes: “It is believed that inadequate training on the installation and operation of equipment is … contributing to the air quality issues.”
CAPP’s Abel said in an interview the “unsafe” facilities responsible for those breaches should not have been operating.
“They should have been shut down,” he said. “When you follow the rules, processing and production of sour gas is absolutely safe. If you don’t follow the rules, it can pose a health risk. So ultimately, those operators at those facilities were responsible.”
Neither CAPP nor its industry partners made the health risks public. And no ministry fines or prosecutions followed.
Internally, CAPP quickly mobilized to develop a public relations and damage control plan:
“There are growing public concerns regarding the air quality issues in southeast Saskatchewan,” Herald wrote, noting a petition and a Facebook page.
“The Ministry fields one to two public complaints concerning odours per week and the issue is garnering increasing political attention . . . This has the potential to become a broader industry reputation/social license concern and warrants immediate attention by operators in the region . . . Communications is preparing key messages in the event that there is media profile.”
CAPP received a warning the next month after consulting a scientist with expertise on managing toxic substances, internal emails show. The scientist expressed disappointment noting that H2S failures were “so easy to avoid.”
The scientist urged the industry lobby group to develop and implement a new code of practice to control dangerous emissions and get ahead of the problem by publicly denouncing unacceptable practices. The scientist also recommended that the industry group pressure the province to step up inspections.
The ministry, in meetings with industry, proposed similar reforms.
In a letter sent in March 2013 then-energy minister Tim McMillan — now president and CEO of CAPP — warned companies to meet “compliance obligations” or face “escalated enforcement, penalty and/or prosecution.”
Ministry and industry met four times between 2012 and 2014 to plot strategy, including emergency planning zones, a public communications document, a code of practice and a licensing regime for high-risk, single-well batteries.
Those plans were never adopted, a ministry statement confirms.
“Instead, the Ministry chose to take a risk-based approach to managing the sour gas issue that included increased field inspections and improved data collection.” Eighteen wells that had been venting sour gas were ordered to be “shut-in” in 2012/2013.
From 2013 to the summer of 2014, the ministry began implementing “an aggressive inspection and enforcement schedule to reduce sour gas emission” that included suspension orders against 30 facilities owing to “H2S management issues,” the statement reads.
During that effort, H2S would claim its most high-profile victim in Saskatchewan.
Michael Bunz, a salesman for Nalco Champion, died on May 22, 2014, while taking samples in a shed located in a provincial park between Carlyle and Kipling. A valve on the tank broke and oil, water and H2S spewed into his face.
An incident report submitted by the tank’s owner, Harvest Operations Corp., states simply: “Spill occurred as a result of a failed valve.”
Nowhere does it mention Bunz’s death.
Instead, his death is marked by a gravestone in a small cemetery near Wawota, where the father of two young daughters lived a few doors away from his parents, Dianne and Allan.
The black, polished stone, with an image of Bunz wearing his Saskatchewan Roughriders jersey and hat, calls him “Bunzy” and reads: “In loving memory of Emma and Olivia’s Daddy.”
“He didn’t really talk about those dangers,” Dianne says. “We knew what it’s like to work in the oil industry. My husband did for 20 years. We knew about H2S but I wasn’t aware that he was going on site and doing the testing.”
The summer before he died, Allan drove his son to the Nalco office to quit. Michael’s brother-in-law, who had worked there, had left and “things had been pretty tough,” Michael said, marked by long days and heavy workload.
“He was going to hand his company truck in, and his boss was there … he talked (Michael) out of it,” Allan says. “This company wanted him because he never ever phoned in sick or anything. He’d just go to work. And they offered him more money, so he stayed.”
Nalco Champion is facing three charges under the province’s occupational health and safety legislation for failing to provide Bunz with a respirator and to ensure he entered a dangerous situation with a second worker. A conviction would result in a fine.
The family says they were told by Nalco that the concentration of H2S in the fluids was estimated at 40,000 parts per million, more than enough to bring near-instant death.
The company sent reporters a written statement, declining further comment.
“We remain deeply saddened by the loss of our colleague, Michael Bunz. The safety of our associates, customers and communities is vitally important, and we remain committed to our robust safety policies, protocols and training programs, which include those related to hydrogen sulfide,” it reads.
Allan, who spent most of his working life in the oil industry, says he learned more about H2S protection when he worked on a pig farm.
“Every person had to wear an H2S monitor. And I’m talking about the pig industry,” he says. “To me, they were protecting us … more at this simple small hog operation in Saskatchewan than the oil industry ever did the entire time I was working out there.”
The couple reviewed the records documenting years of discussions between government and industry about public health risks and failed audits that were never made public. The couple called it “devastating.”
“I go to work every day and I drive down the highway and I talk to my son sitting beside me,” says Allan. “I say to him “tough day there, son” and I tell him how I feel . . . I feel him sitting there beside me.”
How often H2S incidents happen or happened in Saskatchewan remains a mystery.
Officially, ministry officials count one death and five “documented incidents where a member of the public was exposed to unsafe levels of sour gas near a well or facility site.”
None of them triggered a public statement by the government.
“There was no need for public notification since the incident was quickly dealt with at the site,” reads the ministry statement.
But after dozens of interviews it is clear that H2S incidents involving residents are more common but go unreported or are not recorded properly. This is also true for workers in the oilfield.
Only months after Bunz died, Trina Hansen, an oilfield worker and part-time voice actress, was clearing a pipeline near Carlyle, Sask.
“I could have died,” she says. “It’s almost like you could feel like a heavy air hit your face. It’s a really weird feeling. Your first reaction is to inhale. When it hits your face, you breathe it in. It’s the weirdest thing. You don’t think to hold your breath. It happens so fast. I stumbled backwards. I was so shocked.”
Disoriented, Hansen got back in her truck and drove a couple of kilometres until she noticed she was losing her peripheral vision.
“There were white sparkles, iridescent, swirly, super-shiny and bright. I jumped out and started feeling nauseous and couldn’t breathe very well. I was trying to catch my breath and dry heaving. My head started pounding.”
Hansen, suffering debilitating headaches, nausea and sickness, lost her voice for two weeks.
“This happened three years ago and I still have a hard time catching my breath if I talk too fast. I’m very short of breath. I’ve never in my life felt like that. It was horrible.”
Her voice has changed for good — it is far deeper and lower than before.
“I do a cartoon on APTN network and they said my voice totally changed. It changed two octaves pretty much. It used to be high and now it cuts out.”
Hansen never reported the incident, fearing she would lose her job.
“Nobody wants to say anything. We know it’s bad and dangerous. But no one wants to raise a fuss. And being a woman and trying to prove yourself out there, I never claimed WCB (Workers Compensation Board). The economy went down and I have to pay off debt with my trucking money.”
Four months after Bunz’s death, a secret ministry report listed 161 facilities “that may be in violation of (the ministry’s) sour gas emission control.”
The catch: “time and resources required to investigate and verify violations would take all available field officers over a year.”
In 2014, inspections of 60 suspicious wells in 2014 turned up 36 — more than half — that were leaking so badly they had to be shut down.
Another audit found 11 out of 12 facilities failed inspection “due to H2S venting” and found 29 locations that are too close to facilities with high levels of H2S concentrations. Of the 1,352 active sour gas facilities, only 421 — 31 per cent — had “proper emission control systems.”
“Almost every site had improper gas measurement,” the report reads. “Discovered major contamination at two facilities as a result of spill which were not reported” to the ministry.
The ministry believes that the H2S issue is under control, saying air quality standards are being met and that inspections confirm that companies’ sour gas management practices have improved. Today 27 full-time inspectors are responsible for the province’s 126,000 wells and its estimated 118,000 kilometres of pipelines and flowlines, operating with a budget of $3.9 million.
In 2016-17, ministry staff inspected 18,340 wells, facilities and pipelines.
Last month, a team of researchers from Harvard and Northeastern Universities collected data in collaboration with this investigation using the same instruments employed by ministry inspectors to detect emissions invisible to the naked eye.
“In my experience measuring oil and gas activities in Texas, what struck me was that about a third of the sites we looked at had what we believed to be fugitive emissions and the high density of pump jacks,” says Lourdes Vera, a doctoral student in environmental sociology at Northeastern University.
Drew Michanowicz, a post-doctoral researcher at Harvard University’s School of Public Health who led the survey in Saskatchewan, said about one in five of the facilities they visited showed black smoke rising from the flaring stacks of production facilities.
“If there is black smoke, there is particulate matter that if inhaled is certainly associated with human health effects,” he said. “If sources of these air pollutants are constantly impacting individuals where they live, work and play, there is the worry that they are experiencing health effects.”
In interviews with landowners and records in the government database, this investigation has found recent H2S accidents, including three people who say they were sickened by H2S clouds near their homes in the past year. One said they required hospitalization after a near-fatal incident.
In January, more than four years after the H2S incident in Galloway’s front yard, she and her husband were driving home when they encountered a plume of what she believes was H2S gas.
She fell ill and stayed home for three days.
“I’ve had arrhythmias, really wicked headaches … I’ve had bouts of nausea. I wake up at night and have heart palpitations.”
Galloway wrote to public officials demanding a response.
There were no consequences or fines as a result. And no official report of an incident anywhere near the Galloway property that day was filed.
That, says Galloway, is just the way it works in Saskatchewan.
“As a person living in the middle of the oilfield, you have no protection. The government doesn’t care. Your MLA doesn’t care. The oil companies don’t care.”
Robert Cribb, The Toronto Star
Patti Sonntag, Michener Fellow
P.W. Elliott, University of Regina
Elizabeth McSheffrey, The National Observer
Data and documentation journalist
Michael Wrobel, Concordia University
Jennifer Ackerman, University of Regina
Madina Azizi, University of Regina
Janelle Blakley, University of Regina
Cory Coleman, University of Regina
Mike De Souza, The National Observer
Josh Diaz, University of Regina
Brenna Engel, University of Regina
Matthew Gilmour, Concordia University
Celine Grimard, University of Regina
Jared Gottselig, University of Regina
Lauren Kaljur ,University of British Columbia
Rebbeca Marroquin, University of Regina
Matthew Parizot, Concordia University
Katie Doke Sawatzky, University of Regina
Michaela Solomon, University of Regina
Kyrsten Stringer, University of Regina
Caitlin Taylor, University of Regina
Steph Wechsler, Ryerson University
P.W. Elliott, University of Regina
Trevor Grant, University of Regina
Patti Sonntag, Michener Fellow, based at Concordia University
Concordia University, Department of Journalism
Ryerson University, School of Journalism
University of British Columbia, Graduate School of Journalism
University of Regina, School of Journalism
The Michener Awards Foundation
Corporate Mapping Project
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
University of Victoria
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council
Watch the televised investigation: Sunday and Monday on Global National at 5:30 CT/MT/PT & 6:30 ET/AT. Robert Cribb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
That rotten stench in the air? It’s the smell of deadly gas and secrecyThat rotten stench in the air? It’s the smell of deadly gas and secrecy
Police and politicians urged Canadians to be vigilant, but called for calm and unity in the wake of a terrorist attack in Edmonton that injured five and led to the arrest of a 30-year-old suspect who had previously been investigated for espousing extremist views.
It is the second major terrorist attack in Canada this year, following January’s shooting at a mosque in Quebec City that killed six and injured 19.
CBC News identified the Edmonton suspect on Sunday as Abdulahi Hasan Sharif. Police and federal officials would only confirm that the man in custody is a 30-year-old refugee from Somalia and had been interviewed by the RCMP’s Integrated National Security Enforcement Team in 2015. But RCMP Assistant Commissioner Marlin Degrand said there had been insufficient evidence to charge him or issue a peace bond at the time and he was not considered a national security threat.
The man is now facing terrorism charges and five counts of attempted murder. Police also confirmed that the black flag of Daesh was found in the suspect’s car Saturday, but he is believed to have acted alone. According to Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, the accused was on a police watch list, and yet when Edmonton police Chief Rod Knecht was asked if there had been any warning of an impending attack, he responded, “absolutely not.”
Earlier Sunday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement calling the crime “another example of the hate that we must remain ever vigilant against.”
“We cannot — and will not — let violent extremism take root in our communities. We know that Canada’s strength comes from our diversity, and we will not be cowed by those who seek to divide us or promote fear,” he said.
An Edmonton police officer, Const. Mike Chernyk, was among the wounded and was praised for his actions, along with other first responders who arrested the suspect just after midnight. Chernyk was released from hospital hours after the attack, despite suffering stab wounds to his face and body. Two of the four injured pedestrians were also back at home Sunday.
Chernyk was on a routine shift controlling traffic outside an Edmonton Eskimos football game near Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday night when the attack began. It was a “military appreciation night” where Canada’s chief of defence staff, Gen. Jonathan Vance, had conducted the pre-game coin flip and two CF-18 fighter jets soared overhead before the kickoff. According to The Canadian Press, more than 800 Boy Scouts were expected at the game and many were planning to camp out on the field afterward.
Around 8:15 p.m. local time, a Chevy Malibu crashed through a traffic barrier and struck Chernyk. Knecht said the car approached “suddenly, without notice, and at a high rate of speed,” sending the officer flying five metres into the air.
The suspect then got out of the car, ran to the fallen constable and repeatedly stabbed him. Grainy video footage of the crime was released Sunday and appears to show Chernyk struggling with the man, then following him as he flees.
Found in the car were documents that identified the suspect, along with the distinctive black flag that the group Daesh erected over its so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in 2014.
A few hours later, a U-Haul van was stopped at a police checkpoint north of Edmonton’s downtown. An officer, who asked the driver for his licence, noted that the name was close to that of the registered owner of the white Malibu, Knecht said. The van then sped off, while the officer returned to his cruiser to call for backup.
Knecht told journalists it is “always a difficult decision to make — to chase a vehicle or let it go,” but, fearing that the U-Haul would be used as a weapon, police pursued the van. During the chase, the four pedestrians were hit. Knecht said the suspect intentionally swerved to hit pedestrians at crosswalks and in alleyways.
As is often the case following terror attacks, the viciousness of the crime quickly gave way to a vicious discourse on social media — peaking when reports emerged that the suspect was a refugee claimant. (Later reports clarified that he was a refugee.)
The National Council of Canadian Muslims quickly condemned the “senseless” attacks.
Executive director Ihsaan Gardee said that such incidents call for solidarity.
“The issue of backlash, you can’t help but think about, of course, but first and foremost our thoughts are with the victims and families,” he said. “The community stands shoulder to shoulder with all Canadians in condemning this horrific kind of act, regardless of who perpetrates them. We need to look at this together and stand united.”
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley vowed to do all in her power to stop terrorism in its tracks. “Freedom and liberty are core to who we are as Albertans, and that core can never be divided by those who know only fear, violence and hatred,” she told media Sunday morning.
Alexandra Bain, an associate professor of religious studies at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, N.B., and the executive director of Hayat Canada Family Support, lamented the fact that violent extremism “seems to be a hallmark of the modern world.”
Before leading Hayat, a family counselling group that offers programs for relatives and friends of those involved in violent extremism, Bain researched extremism by following 1,500 jihadist Twitter accounts and conducting lengthy interviews with 30 members of Daesh and Al Qaeda affiliates fighting in Syria, as well as another 30 online jihadist sympathizers.
But Bain notes that, “when you look at the statistics, Canada has far more to worry about (with) violent extremists from the far right, such as white supremacists or neo-Nazis” than with groups like Daesh, also known as ISIS or ISIL.
She said Canada remains unique, compared to Europe, which has suffered multiple attacks in the past few years and where thousands of young Muslims succumbed to Daesh propaganda.
“Canadian Muslims, much like their counterparts in the U.S., have a much different experience than their fellow European Muslims. Muslim immigrants to Europe usually come from countries that have been previously colonized. Their status as second-generation immigrants has resulted in their being marginalized, and they suffer from a great deal of discrimination,” Bain said.
“In Canada, many of the young people who are recruited or influenced by groups such as ISIS are often either converts to Islam … or second-generation Muslims who have rejected their parents’ traditional Islam. A great number, if not most, of these young people have suffered from some form of mental illness.”
Suspect in Edmonton attack faces terrorism, attempted murder charges Suspect in Edmonton attack faces terrorism, attempted murder charges Suspect in Edmonton attack faces terrorism, attempted murder charges
Jagmeet Singh, a former criminal defence lawyer and Brampton MPP who rose to prominence as an upbeat opponent of police carding and precarious work, will lead the New Democratic Party into the next federal election.
The 38-year-old who brashly predicted his own victory won the party’s leadership race on Sunday with a commanding 53.8 per cent on the first ballot. He will now leap into national politics without a seat in the House of Commons, as leader of a third-place party that’s still reeling from its dispiriting defeat in the 2015 election, when it appeared on the cusp of power for the first time.
Singh, whose parents are from India, is also the first leader of a major federal party who is not white.
“Canadians deserve a government that understands the struggles that people are facing right now,” Singh proclaimed before an audience of party faithful at a Toronto waterfront hotel on Sunday afternoon, where his victory was met with thunderous cheers.
“It takes an act of love to realize we are all in this together, and an act of courage to demand better, to dream bigger, and to fight for a more inclusive and just world,” he said.
Singh dominated the first round of voting to replace outgoing leader Thomas Mulcair, who has led the NDP since 2012, when he took over in the wake of Jack Layton’s death. Of the 65,782 members who voted — a 52.8-per-cent turnout — Singh received the support of more than 35,000.
Charlie Angus, a veteran MP from northern Ontario, placed second with 12,705 votes representing 19.4 per cent of ballots cast. Manitoba MP Niki Ashton, who ran the most left-leaning campaign of the race with pledges for free tuition and universal pharmacare, closely followed Angus with 11,374 votes (17.4 per cent).
Finishing fourth was Guy Caron, the lone Quebec MP in the race, who argued the province is integral to the NDP’s electoral chances and proposed creating a basic minimum income for all Canadians, among other ideas.
But Singh, whose campaign slogan “Love and Courage” was regarded by many as a nod to the “love, hope and optimism” expressed in Layton’s last public statement, fulfilled the hopes of supporters who saw him as a fresh candidate with the potential to expand the party into new constituencies, such as Singh’s own suburban enclave of Brampton.
In an interview with the Star on Sunday evening, Singh said his breakthrough as the first person of colour to lead a major federal party will inspire other people who feel left out or disadvantaged.
“Because other people have broken barriers, it gave me in my life a capacity to even dream of achieving something,” he said, pointing to Rosemary Brown, the first Black woman elected to a provincial legislature.
“Hopefully this next big step” — his leadership win — “will inspire a whole host of new leaders across the country, people who never saw themselves represented in positions of power,” he said.
Singh highlighted four priorities for the NDP under his leadership: fighting climate change, curbing income inequality, pursuing Indigenous reconciliation and changing the electoral system. He railed against the Trudeau Liberals in his victory speech, accusing the party of campaigning as a progressive force and then failing to deliver once in government.
Singh told the Star that he believes he can win voters on the left side of the political spectrum by actually following through on his promises.
“Easy,” he said when asked how he will differentiate his NDP from the Liberals. He said they’ll actually change the voting system — Trudeau repeatedly promised to do so but dropped that pledge earlier this year— and stop a court challenge of a human rights ruling that ordered the government to provide adequate funding to health and family services for Indigenous children.
“It’s going to be very easy to point out all the dreams and hopes that people had, that the Liberals touched on, and just didn’t implement,” Singh said.
In terms of seeking a seat in the House of Commons, Singh repeated that he’s “open” to taking advice on when and where he could run, but made no commitment to try to enter Parliament before the next general election.
Singh said he will resign his seat at Queen’s Park as soon as possible and plans to use his time to engage with Canadians across the country, comparing his situation to when Layton took over the party in 2003 and didn’t have a federal seat.
“I’m confident I can follow in those footsteps,” he said.
Olivia Chow, a former MP and Layton’s widow, also brushed off concerns about a seat. She told the Star after Singh’s victory that she’s certain he can be a strong advocate for NDP priorities, because he has experienced hardships that many Canadians face, such as racial discrimination and struggling with his family to make ends meet.
“When that shapes your life, it means we have a leader who will connect and who is true to his values, and he will deliver what needs to be done,” Chow said.
Adam Vaughan, a Liberal MP from Toronto’s west end and a former city councillor, congratulated the new leader but quickly added that his policies are “thin.” Vaughan defended the Liberals against the NDP claim that they’ve failed progressive voters. He rhymed off policies such as increased children’s payouts to most Canadian families and raising taxes on the rich.
“I will stand with anybody in this country and put our progressive results against their promises to be a progressive opposition,” he said.
Another issue that has dogged Singh during his leadership campaign related to state secularism and religious symbols. The issue is being debated in Quebec, a key electoral battleground for the party, where a bill is before the national assembly that would ban people from wearing religious face coverings when giving or receiving public services.
Singh, who wears a turban and kirpan knife as a practising Sikh, is staunchly opposed to the bill, arguing it would breach individual rights. His stance has drawn opposition from the NDP’s federal caucus; Quebec MP Pierre Nantel recently suggested he may sit as an Independent if the next leader doesn’t respect the will of Quebecers on secularism.
On Sunday, Singh told the Star that his NDP will present a “united front” on these issues, ensuring that members of his party would support individual rights and social democratic values.
Near the back of the hotel ballroom where Singh was declared leader, a 48-year-old Toronto man named Binder Singh watched with a smile. He said he needed to be here “watching history happen,” even though six weeks ago he had bypass surgery on his heart.
“It’s about the dream,” he said, describing Singh’s victory as proof that anyone can achieve greatness in Canada, regardless of their religion or appearance.
“Canadian politics needed a shift. They needed fresher, younger faces to come in now. And Jagmeet is part of that change,” he said.
“A beard or a turban means nothing now.”
Key facts about Jagmeet Singh
Hometown: Singh was born in Scarborough; lived in St. John’s, N.L., until he was 7; and then moved to Windsor, Ont.
Family: He is the oldest of four kids in his family. He is not married and doesn’t have children.
Occupation: Before entering politics with a failed bid for a federal seat in 2011, Singh worked as a criminal defence lawyer in the Toronto area, after graduating from Osgoode Hall and passing the bar in 2006. He later opened his own law practice.
Political trajectory: Singh was elected provincially as an MPP from Brampton just months after losing in the federal campaign, and still holds that seat at Queen’s Park. He stepped down as the Ontario NDP’s deputy leader after entering the federal leadership race.
Hobbies: Singh is known for his proclivity for martial arts: he’s into Brazilian jiu-jitsu and has competed in the past. He’s also a big bike rider. His rides in different parts of the country through various places across the country are often featured on his Snapchat and Instagram feeds, which he updates constantly. In 2012, he told the Mississauga News that he’s an avid reader, saying he went through more than a dozen novels that year.
‘It’s about the dream’: NDP supporters hail Jagmeet Singh’s leadership win‘It’s about the dream’: NDP supporters hail Jagmeet Singh’s leadership win‘It’s about the dream’: NDP supporters hail Jagmeet Singh’s leadership win