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    A 53-year-old man is facing multiple charges including two counts of attempted murder after an alleged assault on two children, a boy and a girl, in a North York home Saturday afternoon.

    Toronto police said they rushed to the area of Jane St. and Steeles Ave. W. just after 3 p.m. for reports of an assault. It is alleged the suspect was at home with the children, both under 10.

    Police said he allegedly struck the children on the head with a hammer, then choked them. Both children were taken to Sick Kids Hospital in life-threatening condition. They are expected to make a full recovery.

    The man has also been charged with two counts of assault with weapon, two counts of overcoming resistance by choking or suffocation, possession of a weapon, and two counts of uttering threats.

    The suspect’s identity was not released to protect the identity of the children, police said.

    He will appear in court at 1000 Finch Ave. W. on Thursday at 10 a.m.

    Man charged with attempted murder after two children allegedly struck with hammer, chokedMan charged with attempted murder after two children allegedly struck with hammer, choked

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    An Orangeville man had his drug charges stayed after police claimed they couldn’t find him for nine months when he was already in jail over other matters.

    Prior to his time in custody, police also could have arrested him at the address he gave to them earlier in their investigation but they never checked there, court documents show.

    Because of this delay, Mark Nurse, 25, had to wait 22 ½ months for a trial on three drug charges including trafficking cocaine. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled last year that provincial court trials must be completed within 18 months.

    Justice Richard Schwarzl ruled last month that Nurse’s right to be tried within a reasonable time had been breached, saying the steps Orangeville police took to locate him were “woefully hollow if not non-existent.” Schwarzl stayed the charges.

    In March 2015, police allegedly came across Nurse near an Orangeville scrap yard, according to the court document. When Const. Stephen Fisher approached, he said during his testimony he noticed a baggie containing a white powder near Nurse’s feet.

    Fisher testified he told Nurse that if the powder tested positive for illegal drugs, Nurse would be charged. Nurse gave Fisher his personal information, including his current address in Ajax.

    By the end of May 2015, Fisher had formed reasonable grounds to charge Nurse with three drug-related offences, Justice Schwarzl said in his ruling.

    Even though Nurse had previously given Fisher his current address in Ajax, Fisher ran Nurse’s name in the local records system and found four addresses — three in Orangeville and one in Shelburne.

    Nurse didn’t live at any of them and neither Fisher nor any other officer went to the Ajax address he’d provided, Schwarzl ruled. Fisher told the court he didn’t follow up with the Ajax address because the local ones were more current.

    On July 9, 2015, Orangeville police issued a warrant for Nurse’s arrest and sent out a service-wide email to all local officers about the warrant.

    But on July 3, 2015, Nurse was in custody in Niagara region facing drug trafficking charges. He remained in custody until Jan. 19, 2016, when he pled guilty. He was sentenced to time served plus one day. The day he was sentenced, Toronto police laid robbery and other charges against him and brought him to Toronto. He remained in custody and eventually those charges were dropped. In all, he was in jail from July 2015 to April 2016.

    No one from Orangeville Police Service checked to see if Nurse was in custody with another police service, or in jail.

    “(Police) appeared to be content to sit on the warrant and do nothing,” Schwarzl wrote in his ruling. “Had the police in this case made basic efforts, they would have readily found (Nurse) in custody and could have executed the arrest warrant literally any time after the information was sworn.”

    It wasn’t until the day Nurse was released from Toronto custody, nine months after Orangeville police had secured a warrant, that an Orangeville police officer travelled to Toronto and arrested him.

    “Fisher testified that neither he, nor any other officer as far as he knows, did anything to attempt to locate the applicant (for) a period of 273 days,” Schwarzl wrote. “(Nurse) was in custody the entire time and was incapable of evading or avoiding execution of the Orangeville Police Service arrest warrant.”

    Nurse appeared in court on May 17, 2016. Schwarzl wrote the prosecutor didn’t appear to know of his case and had no file or disclosure to provide. After further delays for Nurse to retain defence lawyer Mark Rieger, a pre-trial took place in September 2016. Nurse was available for all 10 of the dates offered for trial, but the Crown turned down eight.

    The trial was scheduled to proceed in May 2017 — 22 ½ months after Orangeville police had issued a warrant for Nurse’s arrest.

    “They had 18 months for a pretty simple case that, if it had gone to trial, would have taken a day,” Rieger said.

    The trial was eventually adjourned so Rieger, on behalf of Nurse, could file a charter application against the delay.

    “We made the decision late to file the application, but it was important,” Rieger said. “Somebody knew Nurse was in custody, but nobody seemed to put two and two together. A case like this really demonstrates a culture of complacency on the part of the police. Whether this translates to action, I don’t know.”

    Orangeville police said it is working to achieve the provincial standard of completing trials within 18 months.

    When asked about Nurse’s case, spokesperson Const. Scott Davis said in an email, “We take this as a learning opportunity and continue to improve our practices in this area.

    “We respect the decisions of the judiciary and always accept opportunities to make changes in our practices and work in collaboration with our Crown Attorney’s office.”

    Drug charges dropped against Orangeville man in jail — because police couldn’t find himDrug charges dropped against Orangeville man in jail — because police couldn’t find him

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    WASHINGTON—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he is optimistic but “ready for anything” as U.S. President Donald Trump conveyed mixed signals on the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement and Canadian negotiators prepared to be hit with a protectionist Trump proposal on automotive manufacturing.

    Trump sounded indifferent Wednesday about the future of the continental pact, expressing no preference between a revised agreement or the termination he has long threatened.

    “It’s possible we won’t be able to make a deal, and it’s possible that we will,” Trump said during the public portion of his Oval Office meeting with Trudeau.

    “I think Justin understands that if we can’t make a deal, it’ll be terminated, and that’ll be fine,” he said. “They’re going to do well, we’re going to do well. But maybe that won’t be necessary.”

    Trudeau was far more forceful, extolling NAFTA at the White House and at a meeting with influential members of Congress. With everyone from former prime minister Stephen Harper to the top American business lobby group warning that negotiations might collapse, Trudeau shooed away questions about the possibility of failure.

    “My optimism towards NAFTA, towards a renegotiation, isn’t based on personality or reading political tea leaves. My optimism is based on the fact that I know how good NAFTA has been for millions of citizens of Canada, of the United States, and indeed for Mexico,” he said at a solo news conference at the Canadian embassy.

    Trudeau also said, though, that the Canadian government was “braced” for Trump’s habit of making “decisions that surprise people sometimes.” Saying “it’s been clear that circumstances are often challenging,” he repeated the phrase “ready for anything” on multiple occasions.

    Trump is fond of negotiating bluster that does not always translate into real action. But a Canadian government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the talks that began smoothly have taken a turn for the worse as U.S. negotiators introduce hard-line protectionist proposals that match the bellicose tone coming from the White House.

    “This round, we are prepared for some big surprises of that nature,” the official said.

    The fourth round, scheduled for seven days, began Wednesday in a Washington suburb. The hard part is expected to begin Friday, the official said, when the U.S. is supposed to reveal the contentious proposal on automobiles.

    Friday is the 13th, “which is telling,” the official said wryly.

    The U.S. is believed to be preparing to propose that a hefty percentage of cars be manufactured not just in North America, as present, but in the U.S. itself. The “rules of origin” idea is one of the items the U.S. Chamber of Commerce described this week as a “poison pill” that could derail the talks.

    Trudeau would not say if a U.S.-content requirement, or anything else, was a red line for Canada.

    “Obviously, there are proposals that we disagree with. But these are negotiations, and we stay in good faith on them,” Trudeau said.

    MP Andrew Leslie, parliamentary secretary to the foreign affairs minister, was more direct in a separate appearance in Washington.

    “I would say those are pills which don’t taste very nice. Really quite unpleasant,” Leslie said when asked if the auto proposals were poison pills. “But the final decisions, will not, cannot, be made, until you get to the end of the NAFTA negotiations.”

    The prime minister’s Washington visit appeared designed to hedge against the possibility that Trump follows through on his threats. Trudeau visited Capitol Hill before the White House, paying an unusual visit to a House committee that would have a major role in attempting to shepherd a revised deal through Congress or in deciding what to do if Trump begins the withdrawal process.

    Trudeau reminded the committee that Canada is a bigger export market for the U.S. than China, Japan and the U.K. combined.

    “So we are already pretty much your biggest customer, and we want to make sure that that becomes easier for you and more profitable for your corporations and companies,” he said.

    Even the short public portion of the meeting underscored the complexity of the talks.

    Trudeau was seated next to chairman Kevin Brady, a pro-NAFTA Republican who, after pleasantly greeting Trudeau, said he wanted better Canadian protection for U.S. intellectual property and more Canadian access for U.S. dairy.

    Trudeau received a warm welcome from the president upon his arrival. “Great prime minister,” Trump said. In the Oval Office, Trump said, “We have a great personal relationship, and we have a relationship now as two countries, I think, that’s as close as ever.”

    Trump appeared to express openness to dumping Mexico from the deal and seeking a bilateral arrangement with Canada. Trudeau said a three-way pact “is better for our citizens, is better for economic growth,” but he added: “So saying, we are ready for anything, and we will continue to work diligently to protect Canadian interests, to stand up for jobs.”

    Trudeau is scheduled to visit Mexico on Thursday and Friday.

    Making a rare turn as a pundit, Harper, who also supports NAFTA, spoke on a Washington panel as Trudeau visited Trump. Trump’s threats to withdraw from the deal, Harper said, should not be dismissed as mere rhetoric, and companies should prepare for a post-NAFTA future.

    “I believe Donald Trump would be willing to take the economic and political risk of that under certain circumstances,” he said. “I would not want to simply bet that this is just all going to work out.”

    Trudeau says he’s braced for a ‘surprise’ as Trump’s NAFTA proposals grow more protectionistTrudeau says he’s braced for a ‘surprise’ as Trump’s NAFTA proposals grow more protectionist

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    Who’s afraid of a higher minimum wage?

    Despite the scare stories, a proposed $15 hourly wage in 2019 is proving wildly popular. By all accounts, it is a vote-winner.

    The usual suspects are upset: TD Bank, Loblaws, Metro, the Chamber of Commerce and the small business lobby are warning higher wages will hit hard, and hurt the working poor by costing them jobs.

    It’s a recurring tale of two competing victimhoods — businesses at risk and jobs in jeopardy — but people aren’t buying it. The old fable about the boy (or business) who cried wolf is a hard sell when few believe the wolf is at the door.

    The big change is not just in new economic thinking, but a broader societal consensus. The ground has shifted.

    Perhaps people are waking up to the impact of poverty amidst plenty. And are prepared to pay more at their local Dollarama — rebrand it Toonierama if need be.

    Canadians who were content to live alongside the working poor are increasingly sensitized to the argument for a living wage. Times change.

    For the longest time, people put up with second-hand cigarette smoke, drove while drunk, forgot their seat belts, or sneered at nerds who wore helmets for motorcycling, cycling, hockey or skiing. Now, cigarettes are taboo, drunk driving is anathema, seat belts are the law, and helmets are de rigeur.

    Once society reaches a tipping point, it’s hard to turn back. Against that backdrop, politicians aren’t so much leading the change as reading the change.

    Changed attitudes may be a reflection of increased inequality, but also reduced insecurity.

    Our unemployment is dropping rapidly — StatsCan announced last week that Ontario’s rate had declined to 5.6 per cent, the lowest level since 2000. With 170,000 new jobs over the past year, scare stories about job losses don’t add up.

    The provincial economy has been on a roll for the last few years, leading the country and much of the industrialized world. Yet income inequality keeps increasing.

    A previous column about the business lobby pointed to the flaws in outdated econometric modelling that vainly tries to foretell future job losses from doomsday scenarios. Their conclusions are contradicted by more advanced research that looks retrospectively at recent history, showing negligible or unmeasurable impacts from minimum wage hikes.

    Yet major retailers keep warning that automation is the inevitable result of higher wages. Been to a Loblaws, Sobeys, or Canadian Tire recently? Seen those automated check-out counters, even at today’s minimal minimum wage?

    Automation is inevitable. Lowering the minimum wage won’t bring back full-service gas station attendants, or persuade the banks to remove automated tellers from your local branch.

    Economic disruptions are also unpredictable. Even if business scaremongering about a wage hike were remotely true (at the margins), the reality is that a rapid increase in interest rates would have far more impact, as would a collapse in the housing market.

    Let’s give at least partial credit to the politicians who have been paying attention to recent changes. But not too much credit, for they are merely playing catch-up.

    The last time Ontario debated a minimum wage change in 2014, Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals and Andrea Horwath’s New Democrats dragged their feet — and played footsie. Both parties paid lip service to higher wages while mouthing platitudes to small business lobbyists, leading to the half-measure of $11 an hour.

    The Progressive Conservatives reliably resisted that increase then, just as they do now. Opposition Leader Patrick Brown flatly opposes a proposed $15 hourly wage in 2019 (he purports to support it in principle at some future point — though without a timeline it’s a mere press line).

    With an election looming, the Liberals have breathed new life into the living wage. But the heavy lifting happened outside Ontario, with Alberta’s NDP government leading the way to a $15 target in Canada.

    The maximum push, however, has come from our American friends — never mind Donald Trump — who have broken the barrier without breaking the back of big banks or small business: San Francisco’s non-unionized minimum wage is now U.S. $14, (about $17.50), and will hit $15 by 2018 ($18.77).

    That’s the economic reality that recent research relies upon, that business is blind to, that Ontario voters are waking up to, and that smart politicians are paying attention to. The only thing we have to fear about the minimum wage is fear-mongering itself.

    Martin Regg Cohn’s political column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday., Twitter: @reggcohn

    Time to follow America’s lead on minimum wage: CohnTime to follow America’s lead on minimum wage: Cohn

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    Trustees at Peel District School Board are asking the Ministry of Education to suspend EQAO tests for all students this year in the wake of its plans to review curriculum and how pupils are assessed.

    In a motion approved at a board meeting Tuesday night, the trustees also urged other school boards throughout the province and the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association to support its request.

    Given the province-wide review, the motion to cancel EQAO tests in math, reading and writing for students in Grades 3, 6 and 9 “makes perfect sense,” says Peel chair Janet McDougald.

    Ontario’s second-largest school board has become increasingly worried that current tests administered by the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) don’t accurately reflect what its students are learning in the classroom, McDougald said in an interview Wednesday.

    The trustees’ move comes a month after Ontario announced an “education refresh” that will include revamping curriculum and report cards as well as rethinking standardized testing.

    While Education Minister Mitzie Hunter indicated in a statement that the tests will proceed as planned, the Peel motion has already reignited the debate about the explosive topic of standardized testing.

    Unions representing elementary and high school teachers, who want the current system of large-scale testing eliminated, applauded the Peel request, while other educators stressed that while no test instrument is perfect, the EQAO is an important measure of what skills students are mastering.

    “During this review, it’s important that parents are still receiving information about how their child is doing at school,” Hunter said in a statement. “That’s why EQAO will continue to provide relevant information to better support student achievement and well-being.”

    The Ontario Public School Boards’ Association did not respond directly to the Peel trustees’ request for support because it needs more information, said president Laurie French.

    “However, the reality is that EQAO has been in place for 20 years and a comprehensive review is overdue,” she said in a statement.

    That was also the message in the association’s discussion paper on EQAO testing released last spring, which, among other recommendations, called for the province to consider alternatives to across-the-board tests such as randomized testing of a sample of students.

    “This is an important issue and we look forward to participating in that conversation,” said French.

    McDougald said the Peel board has long been concerned about “a disconnect” between student report cards and EQAO scores, particularly in math, and met with EQAO staff earlier this year to try to get to the bottom of it.

    While a strategy to improve literacy results led to significant improvement, three years of intensive focus on math has not improved scores on the provincial test, she said.

    “We do not believe the test is capturing what the children are learning.”

    While reading and writing results improved at the board this year, math results have declined in line with the provincial trend. Last year, only 63 per cent of Peel students met the standard in Grade 3, dropping to a dismal 49 per cent by Grade 6. Province-wide, 62 per cent of Grade 3 students were successful while only half of those in Grade 6 met the standard.

    McDougald said putting the tests on hold during the review is reasonable because of the weight put on the results by everyone from parents choosing schools to real estate agents using them to attract homebuyers to certain neighbourhoods.

    “It’s the only public assessments people see and we’re fine with that … as long as those assessments are relevant and fair to students.”

    The Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario welcomes the motion, said president Sam Hammond. The union has long supported eliminating EQAO testing, arguing it is costly, puts stress on students and diverts resources and teaching time that could be used more effectively to engage them in the classroom.

    “If they suspended it for this year, teachers across the province would not be teaching to the test as they always do and would have much more time to teach in a much deeper way,” he said.

    Harvey Bischof, president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, said Peel “has taken a very responsible position on this at a time when the dubious value of the EQAO is being called even more into question.”

    However, Wilfrid Laurier University economics professor David Johnson argues the universal tests are a cost-effective way of measuring student achievement in basic skills.

    All measurement instruments are imperfect, says Johnson, a policy scholar with the C.D. Howe Institute, who says it’s important to audit any public system for its effectiveness, whether it’s health care or education.

    He says, on balance, EQAO “still provides a good index of how a school is functioning in terms of meeting curriculum demands” and allows schools and boards to compare results.

    Peel Board wants province to cancel EQAO tests this yearPeel Board wants province to cancel EQAO tests this year

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    Being the wife of an alleged sexual predator is far better than being a victim of that predator but it’s not a role to be desired. Case in point: Georgina Chapman, the 41-year- old English fashion designer who was, until very recently, the committed spouse of fallen Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. Chapman announced Tuesday that she is leaving her husband after bombshell media investigations by the New York Times and the New Yorker revealed he allegedly harassed and assaulted more than a dozen women in the entertainment industry over many years.

    “My heart breaks for all the women who have suffered tremendous pain because of these unforgivable actions,” Chapman said in a statement to People Magazine on Tuesday. “I have chosen to leave my husband. Caring for my young children is my first priority and I ask the media for privacy at this time.”

    Fat chance. Chapman’s business already appears to be suffering as a result of her husband’s alleged actions. On Wednesday, jewelry retailer Helzberg Diamonds announced it was severing ties with her fashion label, Marchesa, and some former fans of the brand have begun boycotting it. Chapman is not only an ongoing subject of media fascination, she is the target of outsized online vitriol. In times like these, everyone wants to know: Who is the wife? Was she aware of her husband’s alleged behaviour? How could she have been married to such a pig? Did her silence enable him?

    We know that Weinstein may have been instrumental in the success of Chapman’s fashion line, allegedly pressuring famous actresses to wear Marchesa on the red carpet. But of Chapman’s motivations for staying by Weinstein’s side for years, and now, for leaving him, we don’t actually know anything.

    Of course it’s entirely possible, as online haters of the fashion designer have suggested, that Chapman knew about every violation allegedly committed by her husband. It’s also entirely possible she had no qualms about keeping quiet so that he could help her business succeed.

    But those quick to condemn Chapman ought to remember that there are other possibilities in this equation, and though they are less scandalous they are worth considering.

    For example, it’s entirely possible that revelations about Weinstein’s alleged abuse came as a complete surprise to her. It’s possible that Chapman was under the impression her husband was merely creepy (the kind of guy who makes a pass at a female subordinate) but was totally unaware that his actions may have veered into the territory of rape. It’s also entirely possible that she was a victim of sexual assault in her own right, at his hands. Some of the women who say Weinstein allegedly assaulted or harassed them also report that they were terrified of him. Who’s to say his wife wasn’t equally terrified? The point is, we simply don’t know.

    What we do know, however, is that the spouses of fallen powerful men are rarely able to redeem themselves. Real life is not as forgiving as The Good Wife. If Chapman says she knew nothing, she will not be believed. If she says she knew something, she will be loathed. Hers is a lose-lose situation.

    Of course, being sexually assaulted is a far graver lose-lose situation than that of the wronged spouse, but victims of sex crimes have a protective force behind them that Chapman and women like her most certainly do not: the sisterhood. In other words, where victims of assault are rightly believed, women who appear to give themselves willingly to domineering men are judged and shunned. Though Chapman is no Monica Lewinsky, the former White House intern’s slow, painful climb back to respectable public life after her affair with Bill Clinton is a perfect example of the cognitive dissonance some feminists exhibit in situations where women aren’t clear-cut victims.

    Perhaps the most telling example of this cognitive dissonance was Beyoncé performing in front of a gigantic “FEMINIST” backdrop at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards after she sang “Partition” — a song in which she turns Lewinsky’s name into a verb for ejaculation. “He Monica Lewinsky’d all on my gown,” Beyoncé sings on the song. (Lewinsky later shot back at the pop star in Vanity Fair, stating: “If we’re verbing, I think you meant ‘Bill Clinton’d all on my gown.’ ”)

    All this is to say we don’t know if Georgina Chapman was a victim of her husband, but she is most definitely a victim of our judgment. This is unfortunate because when a man appears to have abused his power in a cruel and heinous manner, as Harvey Weinstein has allegedly done, our outrage should remain fixed on him. When we shift it to his spouse we achieve nothing more than to extend his path of destruction.

    Harvey Weinstein’s wife a victim of our judgment: TeitelHarvey Weinstein’s wife a victim of our judgment: Teitel

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    The list of suppliers left in the lurch by the Sears Canada insolvency reads like a who’s who of retail and it circles the globe.

    It has debts to businesses in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Gazipur, Bangladesh, Gurgaon, India, New Jersey, Ohio and Mont-Laurier, Quebec.

    It owes money to small contractors and conglomerates: Canada Post, Coca-Cola, Clinique, Crocs Canada, Google Inc. and Upper Canada Soap and Candle.

    It owes Adidas Canada Ltd. $871, 537. It owes Barbara Engram of Milltown, NL $1,134. Dican Enterprises, of Brampton, which supplied forklift parts to a Sears warehouse in Vaughan, is owed $17,000.

    “I think it’s a lot of money for anybody in soft times,” said owner Sayed Mohammed, who is waiting to see what kind of settlement he’ll get after the liquidation sales are done and the money from asset sales is distributed to creditors.

    He had been supplying Sears since 1995.

    “Like anything else, when you have a big account and things like this happen, you tend to feel it.”

    For more than 27 years, Toronto based Ahearn & Soper Inc. supplied Sears with inventory management tools, from warehouse automation products to printers, mobile scanners and labels.

    While Ahearn sometimes did as much as $500,000 a year in business with Sears, in recent years it was closer to $250,000, said Danny Di Marco, Ahearn’s vice-president of finance and chief financial officer.

    “We basically saw the writing on the wall. We scaled back the terms and the amount of credit we gave them,” said Di Marco.

    Ahearn is owned $53,020, and Di Marco is not sure how much it will be able to recover. The bigger concern is how long it will take to replace the lost income.

    “To find another customer like Sears, who was loyal and bought as much product as they bought from us is not an easy task,” said Di Marco.

    Sears is not the retailer it once was, employing 41,000 people and doing $6.7 billion in sales, but the effects of the insolvency will ripple far and wide, according to experts.

    If the liquidation plan is approved in court on Friday, about 12,000 people will be out of work by the time all the Sears locations across Canada are closed between Oct. 19 and Christmas, including 74 full-line department stores, eight Sears Home stores and 49 Hometown stores.

    Malls will be faced yet again with the task of filling in empty spaces left by a prominent retailer, a little more than two years after discount department store retailer Target decamped following a failed launch in Canada.

    When Target closed its 133 Canadian stores in the spring of 2015, Walmart was expanding its grocery superstore concept in Canada and swooped in to buy 13 of the Target leases. Lowe’s Canada and Canadian Tire bought about a dozen each.

    There isn’t the same demand for retail real estate today.

    “The ‘B’ malls are going to have a tough time,” said retail consultant Ed Strapagiel.

    Not all of the effects will be negative.

    The liquidation sales at Sears during the holiday season may attract customers who would otherwise be shopping at Costco, Walmart and Hudson’s Bay, said Strapagiel.

    But the effect will be temporary. In the long term those same merchants stand to gain market share as they fill the space left by Sears Canada, which did $2.6 billion in sales in 2016.

    Apparel retail consultant Randy Harris said that in the apparel sector, Hudson’s Bay, Winner’s and Marshall’s stand to benefit the most. Reitman’s may also pick up sales.

    “If you kind of think of who goes to Sears, these people aren’t going to all of a sudden turn around and go to Nordstrom’s — a lot of them are on fixed incomes,” said Harris, president of Trendex North America and publisher of the industry newsletter Canadian Apparel Insights.

    Retailers in the home improvement sector stand to benefit too, according to Michael McLarney, founder and editor of Hardlines, a trade magazine that focuses on the retail home improvement industry.

    “There’s no question that Home Depot and Lowe’s Canada have that appliance business squarely in their sites, and in the smaller markets, Home Hardware,” said McLarney.

    The difference between the Sears insolvency and Target’s insolvency is that most suppliers this time around had an idea it was coming, said Lou Brzezinski, a partner in Blaney McMurtry's commercial litigation group, representing suppliers and landlords.

    “Sears caught nobody by surprise and Target caught everybody by surprise,” said Brzezinski.

    Many Sears suppliers purchased insurance against just such a thing happening although not all of them could afford it or thought it was worth the money.

    “It’s a significant amount of money off the bottom line,” said Brzezinski.

    Target creditors got more than 80 cents on the dollar for monies owed, said Brzezinski, which is almost unheard of. Currently some Sears creditors are selling what they are owned for about 30 cents on the dollar.

    The difference is that Target Canada’s debt was held by its parent corporation in the U.S., and it decided to subordinate its claim, allowing other creditors to be paid first, said Brzezinski.

    That’s not the case with Sears.

    Sears collapse will ripple through the economySears collapse will ripple through the economy

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    A couple accused of killing their 13-year-old daughter in 2008 has been cleared on appeal, following a court hearing in India on Thursday.

    Rajesh and Nupur Talwar, both dentists in New Delhi, were convicted of murder in 2013, after their daughter Aarushi Talwar was found dead on her bed in New Delhi in 2008.

    According to The Hindu Times, the Talwar’s lawyer Rebecca John said: “I am happy that the Allahabad High Court has allowed the appeal filed by Nupur and Rajesh Talwar against their conviction and sentence. The case against them was untenable in fact and law, and their prosecution and subsequent conviction resulted in grave miscarriage of justice."

    In November 2013, the couple was given a life sentence.

    The Star has covered the Talwar case extensively from the perspective of columnist Shree Paradkar, who is the cousin of Nupur Talwar,

    Paradkar’s 2013 chronicle of the investigation became one of the Star’s most-read stories.

    A bestselling book on the case, titled Aarushi, was released in India in 2015. That same year, a film on the murders, called Talvar— released internationally as Guilty— premiered at TIFF and is now on Netflix.

    Couple accused of killing daughter Aarushi Talwar has been acquittedCouple accused of killing daughter Aarushi Talwar has been acquitted

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    RCMP officers have been screening Muslim refugee claimants entering from the U.S. at Quebec’s Roxham Rd. crossing, asking how they feel about women who do not wear the hijab, how many times they pray, and their opinion about the Taliban and the Islamic State, a questionnaire obtained by the Star shows.

    The 41 questions appear to specifically target Muslims, as no other religious practices are mentioned, nor terrorist groups with non-Muslim members.

    Refugee lawyers representing the more than 12,000 men, women and children who have crossed from New York this year at the informal crossing on Roxham Rd., near the Quebec town of Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, have heard stories of profiling, but it wasn’t until a client of Toronto lawyer Clifford McCarten was given his own questionnaire last month — seemingly by mistake — that there was proof of the practice.

    RCMP spokesperson Annie Delisle told the Star Wednesday that these questions were part of an “interview guide” that was used by officers in Quebec.

    “Due to the high volume of irregular migrants in Quebec, an interview guide was developed as an operation tool to streamline processing and provide consistency in the RCMP’s preliminary risk assessments,” Delisle wrote in an email to the Star.

    Answers from the questionnaire were entered into RCMP databases, Delisle wrote. That information could then be shared with the Canada Border Services Agency or other security partners “in accordance with Canadian legislation,” she wrote.

    Scott Bardsley, spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, told the Star Wednesday afternoon that the RCMP has suspended use of “that version” of the guide.

    “The minute we became aware of the interview guide, we were immediately concerned and contacted the RCMP,” Bardsley wrote. “Some of the questions were inappropriate and inconsistent with government policy.”

    But civil rights advocates, refugee lawyers and Muslim leaders said the document highlights the larger problem that Canada’s security services disproportionately target Muslims.

    “Getting rid of the evidence doesn’t get rid of the problem,” said Faisal Bhabha, the legal adviser for the National Council of Canadian Muslims. “The document itself isn’t the problem. The problem is the mindset. It’s not an anomaly.”

    The refugee claimant represented by McCarten, who is fleeing a Muslim-majority country, said he was shocked by the questions and feared how information he gave — such as the fact that his wife wears a hijab — could be used against him.

    The Star has agreed to protect his identity.

    Question 31 on the form, typed on RCMP letterhead in both English and French reads: “Canada is a very liberal country that believes in freedom of religious practice and equality between men and women. What is your opinion on this subject? How would you feel if your boss was a woman?”

    “I never expected this in Canada,” said the middle-aged teacher, whose family still lives in his birth country. “My country has a lot of problems about human rights and democracy but these questions are not the kind of questions I’d be asked even in my country.”

    Mitchell Goldberg, head of the national association of refugee lawyers, noted the similarity between the RCMP’s questionnaire and the widely lampooned campaign pledge by Conservative MP and former leadership candidate Kellie Leitch to screen immigrants for “Canadian values.”

    “The job of the RCMP is to protect national security, not to issue a value test and that’s all I can call this,” said Goldberg.

    The Roxham Rd. crossing has taken on mythological significance among refugees seeking a path to freedom, as has Canada as a hospitable haven. In response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s January travel ban on Muslim countries, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted, “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength. #WelcomeToCanada.”

    Read more:

    Migrant flight to Canada has big impact on Miami’s Little Haiti

    For hundreds fleeing Trump, this dead end at Roxham Rd. has become the gateway to Canada

    Fleeing to Canada, asylum seekers’ old lives revealed in the scraps found along New York’s Roxham Rd.

    The “Safe Third Country Agreement” between Canada and the U.S. stipulates that those seeking asylum must apply in their first country of arrival. But there is a loophole if refugee claimants enter at an unofficial border crossing — such as Roxham Rd.

    This summer saw a massive influx of mainly Haitian claimants, fearful of what would happen to them in the U.S. when their special immigration designation, known as a Temporary Protected Status, expired. The Trump administration told Haitian citizens living and working in the U.S. to prepare to return home as their status would only be extended until November.

    Canadian officials are bracing for a second wave of asylum seekers from Central America, who worry they also will be expelled from the U.S. if their status is not renewed.

    Other claimants from Muslim-majority countries feel they would have a better chance finding refuge in Canada than the U.S. under Trump.

    McCarten said late Wednesday that while he was thankful for the quick reaction from Goodale’s office, more answers are needed about federal oversight and what will happen with the data collected by the RCMP.

    “I’m heartened to hear from the leadership that they take this as seriously as we do,” he said. “But what possible purpose could someone’s opinion about female employment or religious head coverings have to bear on an assessment of risk?”

    “If someone’s religious opinion is sufficient to place them in an RCMP database for potential future monitoring, we need to be concerned about that. If they recognize those questions are inappropriate, then they need to destroy all the information that was gathered.”

    McCarten also said he found it hard to fathom that federal officials from Public Safety or the Prime Minister’s office were unaware of the screening process being used at Roxham Rd., when Canada’s influx of asylum seekers has been such an important and politically fraught story.

    “I find that incredibly hard to believe that the site of incredibly vexed immigration and refugee policy in Canada, the site of probably the biggest clash of values between Canada and the U.S. right now, and the site of the largest irregular border issue in the country, is being managed exclusively by a local detachment without any federal oversight or higher level approach?”

    “If there isn’t, then there’s a huge problem.”

    RCMP officers screened Quebec border crossers on religion and values, questionnaire showsRCMP officers screened Quebec border crossers on religion and values, questionnaire shows

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    The Toronto area needs 8,000 new rental units a year — more than four times the number it built last year — to restore the region to a healthy vacancy rate.

    It also needs to wean itself from a growing reliance on the private condos that represent about a third of rentals in the city, says a report published Thursday by the Ryerson City Building Institute and Evergreen, an urban sustainability charity.

    “Unless we’re going to make (home) ownership a lot more attainable, 8,000 is where we need to be at now and in the future,” said Graham Haines, research manager of the Ryerson institute.

    Read more:

    Toronto housing price ‘correction’ eases: Report

    Rental squeeze tighter in 3rd quarter, report says

    At that rate it would take five to 10 years to restore the region to a vacancy rate of at least 3 per cent, says the report called, “Getting to 8,000: Building a healthier rental market for the Toronto Area.”

    That level would permit tenants to find suitable, affordable housing. But the Toronto region’s vacancy rate has been below that for years. The most recent Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation figure is 1.4 per cent.

    Rents for available one-bedroom apartments increased 6.3 per cent between 2015 and 2016 and 8.8 per cent in the last year, says the report.

    “One of the things that would be positive would be if we can get back towards rental buildings and rental supply versus condo supply because we can get back to the place where condos are an affordable entry way into home ownership,” said Haines.

    “Right now we see condos are still going up by 20 per cent because they offer this investment opportunity for people who have spare real estate money sitting around,” he said.

    While 76,000 condos have been built in the last decade, only 2,400 new purpose-built rental units have hit the market, according to the report.

    Investors get a decent rate of return on rent and that puts the purchase price of condos further out of reach for home buyers, said Haines.

    “You’re looking at something like $600,000 for a two-bedroom condo. That’s unaffordable for a young family that’s trying to get into the market,” he said.

    The report recommends governments incentivize rental development by:

    • Expanding the development charge rebate in the Ontario government’s fair housing policy that, in April, prescribed $125 million over five years.

    • Providing municipal incentives to rental development.

    • Developing a one-stop shop for federal and provincial development incentives.

    • Changing HST rules so that rental developers can claim credits to offset the tax they pay on construction materials in the same way condo developers recoup their HST expense when they sell the units.

    Haines downplayed a report last month by the Federation of Rental Housing Providers of Ontario that showed developers, who had been planning to create rentals, had switched 1,000 of those units to condos in light of the province’s decision to extend rent controls to newer buildings.

    The odds are stacked against rentals and those buildings were probably on the edge, he said.

    “The numbers are just there for condos. The finances make more sense and that’s ultimately the challenge with or without rent control,” said Haines.

    The city is already looking at other policies recommended in the report, including a vacancy tax and restrictions on short-term rentals.

    Haines says the city also needs to open up areas of the city to multi-residential homes where currently zoning makes it difficult to build anything other than single-family houses.

    It wouldn’t make a huge difference in the number of rentals short-term but, he said, “With the vacancy rate as low as it is, providing any amount of rental supply will help improve the situation.”

    Ryerson report says Toronto needs far more new rental apartmentsRyerson report says Toronto needs far more new rental apartments

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    The Blue Jays fired a reported 23 employees Wednesday from various departments on the business side. The club insisted it was not a cost-cutting measure but more a shift of resources to address evolving needs. The streamlined front office is merging and re-organizing fan engagement and media relations.

    Gone from the former media department are Mal Romanin, the manager of baseball information, Erik Grosman, the coordinator of baseball information, and communications coordinator Sue Mallabon. The only leftover is communications vice-president Jay Stenhouse.

    The Jays expanded their existing fan engagement department last season, an area that includes business-led PR initiatives and Blue Jays social media. That department, led by Sebastian Gatica, has now merged with media in reporting to Gatica, who transferred from Sportsnet to the Jays in 2016 to coordinate personal affairs for president Mark Shapiro.

    “In recent years, our business has become more focused on engaging fans through compelling experiences, unique content and personalized service,” Gatica said. “Today’s changes reflect that evolving nature of our business as we shift to meet these needs through a new structure and resources aimed at delivering memorable experiences to our passionate fan base.”

    The new setup, with a one-person media department, is unique to Major League Baseball.

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    John Farrell’s dream job ends following ALDS loss to Astros: Griffin

    Blue Jays fire 23, including most of media departmentBlue Jays fire 23, including most of media department

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    OTTAWA—A proposal for a multi-billion dollar transit hub at Pearson International Airport is getting serious consideration by the federal and provincial governments, the Star has learned.

    A high-level meeting involving stakeholders from all three levels of government was held at Queen’s Park Tuesday to provide an update on the proposal and map out next steps.

    That meeting — which also involved the operators of Pearson airport and Metrolinx, the regional transit agency — brought together both transportation planners as well as the infrastructure officials who can provide the public funding needed to make the project a reality.

    “There’s definitely serious interest,” said one source familiar with the meeting who spoke on background because of the sensitivity of the discussions.

    The Greater Toronto Airports Authority has pitched its proposal for a transit hub as part of its strategy to help fuel further passenger growth at Pearson.

    That transit centre, located on airport lands, would be served by the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, Finch West LRT, Mississauga Bus Rapid Transit, GO Transit rail lines, UP Airport Express and perhaps even high speed rail in the future.

    The hub has been dubbed “Union Station West.”

    The afternoon meeting, held in a boardroom in an Ontario government building adjacent to Queen’s Park, was organized by the federal government.

    The goal of the meeting was to hear updates related to the regional transit centre. Listed as outcomes were the “identification of next steps, to advance studies and discussions on potential working groups to facilitate integrated planning.”

    Those invited to the meeting included the deputy minister of Transport Canada and three other senior department officials; senior bureaucrats from Infrastructure Canada, the finance department and the Canadian Infrastructure Bank Transition office.

    The province was represented by officials from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure Ontario. Officials from the cities of Toronto, Mississauga and Brampton were also present.

    Gianni Ciufo, who heads Deloitte’s public private partnership team, provided an overview of transit funding and financing options.

    The heavyweight presence at the meeting is a signal that it’s getting serious attention, the source said. “You don’t get those people out unless there is significant momentum coming behind a project,” the source said.

    Metrolinx — represented at the session by Phil Verster, its new chief executive officer, and senior planning staff — has made improved transit to Pearson one of its priorities.

    The agency’s draft regional transportation plan notes that the airport area has the second-highest concentration of jobs in the Greater Toronto Area and says that cutting down on auto use will require “more attractive and integrated transit services.”

    The draft document says that support for Pearson’s regional transportation centre should be a priority to improve transit access to the airport and better enable the airport region to support economic growth.

    The Greater Toronto Airports Authority declined to comment on Tuesday’s meeting. But it has been an advocate of its plan, presenting it to political decision-makers. It has issued a request for proposals for the design and phasing of the transit centre.

    According to the authority’s website more than 44 million people traveled through Pearson airport in 2016.

    A report done for the airports authority in 2016 described the need for a transit hub as “urgent” but said it would be “potentially one of the most effective, efficient and productive of transit investments in the region.”

    Both the federal and provincial governments are said to be interested in the proposal because of the opportunities to improve access to Pearson — Canada’s busiest airport — and improve access to transit to reduce congestion in the airport region.

    One next step will be to set in motion planning for the multiple transit lines planned to serve the centre — and how they would be funded.

    Momentum builds for new Pearson airport transit hubMomentum builds for new Pearson airport transit hub

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    A $6.1-million lottery prize is in limbo after a court injunction prevented an Ontario man from cashing in a Lotto 6/49 ticket that his former live-in girlfriend claims is half hers.

    Maurice Thibeault showed up at OLG’s Toronto prize centre recently with one of the two winning tickets in the Sept. 20 jackpot worth $12.2 million.

    But before the Chatham resident could collect the money, Denise Robertson, 46, obtained an emergency court injunction and alerted OLG not to hand over the disputed millions.

    Read more:8 of Ontario’s most notorious lottery scandals

    Sources close to Robertson say she had asked Thibeault days earlier if the ticket — with the numbers 6, 17, 29, 37, 45, and 47 — had won and he responded it hadn’t.

    Friends say she thought nothing of it until he moved out of her house five days after the draw.

    Over their two years and one month of living together in her house — along with her teenage daughter from a previous marriage — the couple frequently played the lottery, alternating each week who would buy the tickets, said a source close to the long-time federal public servant.

    Thibeault’s associates dispute that there was any such arrangement, pointing out he purchased the ticket at a Chatham convenience store using a debit card linked to his personal bank account.

    Sources said the surveillance footage of him buying the winning ticket has been erased, but there is a bank receipt of the transaction.

    They also said she texted him to ask only if he had bought a ticket, not whether their numbers had come up.

    His friends also maintain he had been planning to separate from her for months and only managed to do so when he “got lucky” and won the lottery.

    On Sept. 25, Robertson arrived home from work to find Thibeault, a 46-year-old father of three, had cleared out all his belongings from their shared home, according to three people who know the couple.

    She then learned from mutual friends he had also quit his job at a local granite and glass supply company. A colleague had emailed the entire office that Thibeault had won, which is how she learned of the windfall.

    “She couldn’t believe it,” said a person close to her, who, like others interviewed for this story, spoke on condition of anonymity.

    Robertson contacted Windsor lawyer Anita Landry, who immediately phoned OLG headquarters in Toronto and obtained an injunction in a Windsor courtroom on Sept. 28.

    “This motion, made without notice, by the plaintiff for an order that the defendant Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation not distribute the proceeds of the winning 6/49 lottery ticket from Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017 in the amount of $6,146,722.60 until the ownership issue can be disposed of ,” the court document reads.

    But the legal injunction wasn’t necessary — everything was put on hold as soon as the Crown gaming agency was aware there was a dispute surrounding the ownership of the ticket.

    That means Robertson, who declined to comment through her lawyer, could be entitled to more than $3 million of the prize.

    Thibeault — who is “laying low” in an undisclosed location until the matter is resolved, according to a friend — also declined to comment.

    The other half of the $12.2 million bonanza was won by a ticket holder in Quebec.

    OLG’s senior manager of media relations Tony Bitonti said there are very strict procedures surrounding the awarding ofprizes.

    “The prize claim process is a process OLG would have followed regardless of whether there was an injunction or not,” said Bitonti.

    “Anyone or group presenting a ticket worth $1,000 or more is subject to the prize claim review process to determine ownership of the specific ticket. For prizes of $10,000 or more, this review process includes a mandatory in-person interview of the claimant conducted by an OLG prize claims investigator,” the spokesperson said.

    “While OLG has key information about the ticket — where and when it was purchased, was it purchased with other lottery products, etc. — in addition, we ask the claimant certain questions about the ticket and the circumstances surrounding its purchase in order to confirm ownership,” he said.

    “If, for any reason, our prize claim review team cannot confidently determine the ownership of the ticket from the answers to the questions from the interview, then the claim is sent to OLG general investigations for further review. This further review can include interviewing other individuals with relevant information surrounding the prize claim.”

    A prize is awarded only after OLG — which has revamped its procedures after ascandal surrounding questionable insider wins a decade ago — completes its investigation.

    OLG investigators sometimes examine months-old surveillance video from variety stores and gas stations where tickets are sold to determine buying patterns.

    They use computerized“data analysis and retrieval technology” to analyze billions of transactions per second and can identify ticket purchase characteristics to thwart fraudsters.

    But changes in human relationships can be tricky to track.

    $6.1M Lotto 6/49 prize in limbo after couple splits$6.1M Lotto 6/49 prize in limbo after couple splits

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    Canadian Joshua Boyle, his American wife Caitlan Coleman and their children are on their way home after five years held hostage by the Haqqani network.

    Boyle called his parents early Thursday morning to tell of their rescue. He also told his father that they’ve had a third baby in custody, a little girl who was born two months ago.

    “Josh said he was doing pretty well for someone who has spent the last five years in an underground prison,” Patrick Boyle told the Star early Thursday, about his conversation with his son.

    Boyle, 34, and Coleman, 31, were kidnapped by the Taliban-linked Haqqani network in October 2012. Coleman was five-months pregnant at the time and the couple was backpacking through Central Asia.

    Their families did not know they had crossed into Afghanistan.

    Coleman gave birth to her first son in custody, followed by a second boy a few years later.

    Their daughter was born this summer.

    More to come.

    Read more:

    Canadian hostage, children seen in just-released Taliban video

    Delivering his own son by flashlight: Kidnapped Canadian’s correspondence gives glimpse of life in captivity

    Family keeps hope alive for son, daughter-in-law kidnapped by Taliban

    Kidnapped Canadian family released after 5 years of being held hostageKidnapped Canadian family released after 5 years of being held hostage

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    Peel Regional Police have charged one man with manslaughter following the death of a 23-year-old Mississauga man on the weekend.

    Const. Mark Fischer said police received a call at 2:47 a.m. on Saturday from someone claiming to be a friend of the victim who was found suffering from blunt force trauma injuries from a physical altercation near Queen St. South and Tannery St.

    Alan Connor Drew was taken to a local hospital and he died from his injuries on Sunday.

    Fischer said he believes Drew was taken to hospital not long after the physical altercation. Fischer also said there wasn’t a weapon used in the assault.

    Cameron Bakker, 21, of Mississauga was arrested and charged with manslaughter on Wednesday.

    This is Peel region’s 13th homicide of the year.

    “It’s all to do with intent. We believe the accused did not plan to kill the victim but that’s what his actions caused,” said Fischer.

    “We believe the two people did not know each other prior to the incident.”

    Fischer said police are currently not looking for other suspects.

    Mississauga man charged with manslaughter following death of 23-year-old manMississauga man charged with manslaughter following death of 23-year-old man

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    WASHINGTON—U.S. President Donald Trump was having a relatively quiet week of dishonesty. Then he did a couple of interviews.

    Trump made 11 false claims in a 50-minute interview with Forbes magazine last Friday. He made 11 more in a 28-minute quasi-interview with ardent supporter Mike Huckabee, which aired Saturday on Christian television station Trinity Broadcasting.

    All in all, Trump made 34 false claims last week. That is not quite the record he set the previous week, 40, but still a whole lot.

    All together, he made 688 false claims over his first 262 days in office — an average of 2.6 false claims per day.

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

    Read more: How Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale fact-checks Trump

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

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

    Last updated: Oct. 12, 2017

    Donald Trump makes 11 false claims in Forbes interview, 11 more in sit-down with HuckabeeDonald Trump makes 11 false claims in Forbes interview, 11 more in sit-down with Huckabee

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    Bombardier will miss yet another target on its troubled TTC streetcar order, falling at least five cars short of the 40 it was supposed to deliver this year.

    In a statement released Thursday, the Montreal-based rail manufacturer said it will supply 35 streetcars in 2017, for a cumulative total of 65 since the order began. The company blamed the latest delay on “issues with the supply chain.”

    “This is not the result we worked towards and this is not the result we will accept for ourselves and for the people of Toronto. We own this challenge, and we fully intend to do everything necessary to mitigate the impacts,” said Bombardier spokesperson Eric Prud’homme.

    The company said it is enacting “forceful and far-reaching measures” to improve production, including opening up a second sitefor final assembly of the vehicles, which are currently manufactured and assembled at its plant in Thunder Bay, Ont. The company also said it would add additional suppliers, and work with current contractors to increase their capacity.

    The 35 cars Bombardier is pledging to deliver this year is a more optimistic figure than one published Wednesday in TTC CEO Andy Byford’s report to the transit agency board. In that document, the TTC estimated Bombardier would deliver just 30 cars in 2017.

    In a joint statement, Byford and TTC board chair Josh Colle appeared to accept Bombardier’s 35 car estimate. But they called the latest blown deadline “extremely disappointing and frustrating.”

    “There should be 146 new streetcars in service today; instead there are just 45. This is completely unacceptable. The TTC is having to continue to use buses on streetcar routes to meet ridership demand,” the statement said.

    Since the TTC placed the $1-billion, 204-car order with Bombardier in 2009, the company has repeatedly blown delivery schedules, and revised its yearly targets downward four separate times.

    According to the latest schedule, which Bombardier gave the TTC in May 2016, the company was supposed to ramp up production and deliver 22 cars in the final three months of the year, for a total of 70. That would require building at least seven streetcars a month, a rate the company has never achieved.

    In July,Bombardier alerted Byford it might not be able to meet the 2017 target, due to what it described as a “very limited, short-term issue.” It said it was “deploying extraordinary resources” to keep delivery on track.

    Confirmation that the company will miss the target for 2017 represents yet another blow for both the transit agency and Bombardier. While Byford has previously berated the company for overpromising on how quickly it could deliver, the relationship improved last year when Bombardier appointed Benoit Brossoit as its new president for its Americas division.

    Byford has praised Brossoit for at least providing the TTC with realistic timelines, but the company has now failed to meet even the lower benchmarks it provided under his watch.

    In its statement Thursday, Bombardier asserted “it is still fully on track to deliver the entire fleet of 204 streetcars” by the original contract deadline of the end of 2019. To do so, the company will have to build an average of more than 69 cars a year, twice the number it says it will supply in 2017.

    Mayor John Tory expressed what he described as his “immense frustration” with the company on Thursday morning, telling reporters at a SmartTrack news conference that “this has got to the point of almost farce.”

    “Having said that, I think we’re taking all reasonable steps,” he said, noting the TTC is suing the company for millions of dollars in penalties for late delivery. The TTC board is also seeking alternative suppliers for its next streetcar purchase.

    Tory said it would be impractical to abandon the Bombardier order at this point because it would take a long time to find another supplier.

    “I think people would be fooling themselves if they thought we could just cancel the Bombardier contract and move to some other person tomorrow morning and start getting streetcars by Christmas. It’s not going to happen.”

    “We’re just going to have to press forward” he said.

    With files from David Rider

    Bombardier to miss year-end streetcar delivery targetBombardier to miss year-end streetcar delivery target

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    Call it the WOW factor.

    A well-financed, new organization called Working Ontario Women (WOW) is set to launch a new ad blitz to prevent a Trumpian outcome of next June’s Ontario election.

    Bankrolled by the powerful Service Employees International Union, which has 2 million members in North America and has supported the governing Liberals in the past, WOW will be advertising on television and online in the coming days.

    It appears to be modeled on — but is separate from — the Working Families coalition of unions that has helped swing the past four Ontario elections to the Liberals with ads attacking the Progressive Conservatives.

    While campaign financing rules imposed in the wake of a Star probe have placed spending limits on so-called third-party groups like Working Families, new organizations such as WOW are springing up.

    “What happened in the States was the catalyst really for putting together this organization,” said WOW’s Megan Lorius, referring to Donald Trump’s unexpected 2016 presidential election victory over Hillary Clinton.

    “That is a great cautionary tale and (I hope) that people are paying attention in Canada,” Lorius said Thursday.

    “We don’t want to be complacent ourselves. We can get into our own bubble and think ‘oh, it won’t happen to us.’ We don’t want to make that same mistake here,” she said, noting many Americans sat on their hands, enabling Trump to win.

    To that end, WOW’s ads will urge voters to vote for progressive candidates who “elevate women’s issues and advocate for women’s rights.”

    Lorius said the non-partisan group is particularly concerned about protecting a woman’s right to choose — even though all the major political parties currently support abortion rights.

    “Women understand what the potentials are for losing some rights in the next election,” she said, emphasizing WOW wants to keep “access to health care and the right to choose top of mind.”

    That has resurfaced as an Ontario political issue because when Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown was a Conservative MP in 2012 he voted in favour of a motion to reopen the abortion debate.

    Although Brown actively courted social conservatives during his successful 2015 campaign for the Tory leadership, he has since changed his stance and is now pro-choice.

    To underscore that, the Conservatives will not allow any such divisive social issues to be debated at their policy convention in Toronto on Nov. 25.

    “Any policy that attempts to limit a woman’s right to choose or the ability of same-sex couples to marry are off limits, period,” Brown said in an interview with Canadian Press earlier this week.

    “I’m not going to say it’s even up for consideration when I personally could not defend that or support it,” he told CP.

    Indeed, the 139 resolutions Tory members can vote on at the party’s website between Nov. 2 and Nov. 6 steer clear of anything controversial.

    PC activists can debate cutting taxes, liberalizing booze laws to make then more “consumer friendly,” stopping rural school closures, and dozens of other more anodyne motions.

    But there will be no discussion of a carbon tax, even though Brown has promised new measures to curb greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

    Liberal Deputy Premier Deb Matthews warned voters should be wary.

    “You can’t run from your record,” Matthews said of Brown’s past votes in the Commons opposing abortion and same-sex marriage.

    “It’s fascinating to look at what’s not there (in the PC resolutions). The word ‘woman’ is not mentioned, the word ‘doctor’ is not mentioned, the word ‘nurse’ is not mentioned,” she said.

    “So I think it’s really telling what’s not there.”

    Ontario women’s organization plans pre-election ad blitzOntario women’s organization plans pre-election ad blitz

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    Police say a doctor — who allegedly paid to have unprotected sex with a 15-year-old girl in his office at a Toronto hospital — is facing multiple charges.

    Toronto police say investigators looking into the alleged trafficking of the girl learned a man met the teen in December 2016 after responding to an escort ad for sex on an online classifieds site.

    It’s alleged he had unprotected sex with her and met with her at different hotels in the Toronto area over the next few months and paid to have unprotected sex with the girl.

    Investigators allege that after the encounters he would prescribe birth control and inject the girl with the medication.

    They allege that on one occasion he had sex with her in his office at Toronto General Hospital.

    Ernest Chiu, 32, of Toronto, is charged with sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching, obtaining sexual services from a person under 18 and sexual assault.

    Investigators say Chiu is a doctor of nephrology and is associated with St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto General Hospital, Toronto Western Hospital, Princess Margaret Hospital, Toronto Rehab and Sinai Health System.

    Toronto doctor had sex with 15-year-old girl, injected her with meds, police allegeToronto doctor had sex with 15-year-old girl, injected her with meds, police allege

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    Provincially owned Ontario Power Generation is in talks to potentially sell the hulking, long-decommissioned Hearn Generating Station on Toronto’s east waterfront, city councillors were shocked to hear Thursday.

    “I’m gobsmacked,” Councillor Paula Fletcher said after her intense questioning of two OPG representatives appearing before a city committee confirmed negotiations to sell the landmark publicly owned waterfront site to private owners.

    “It’s very disturbing because the province should be stewards for that land, for when the spectacular redevelopment of our waterfront moves eastward.

    “It’s a unique building in the world to have on your waterfront — it’s big, it’s beautiful, there could be a fantastic repurposing like we have seen of similar buildings in New York City and other cities.”

    Ray Davies, OPG’s real estate strategy manager, and Mary Flynn-Guglietti, a McMillan LLP lawyer representing OPG, appeared before the planning and growth committee considering future plans for the Port Lands.

    The OPG representatives repeated past objections to city redevelopment plans, saying new roadways, intersections and public space impinge on OPG’s Portlands Energy Centre at 470 Unwin Ave. and the neighbouring Hearn, which is leased to Studios of America for film production.

    Fletcher asked if there is any truth to talk that OPG is in sale talks with Studios of America to sell the 16-hectare (40-acre) Lake Ontario site.

    “I’m not aware of that,” Davies said, adding the Hearn is not among his files but he knew that, under its long-term lease, Studios of America would have first crack at buying the site if it is sold.

    Davies said he believes the land title is in the name of OPG, a “private corporation,” but conceded OPG is wholly owned by the Ontario government and “we wouldn’t make a decision without their blessing.”

    Fletcher continued pushing. “Are you telling me categorically that it is not up for sale, that the Ontario government is not planning, your shareholder, is not planning to sell that? ... Has that been offered up, as many people have heard, as the province is now looking to sell the Hearn and it’s being offered first?”

    Flynn-Guglietti jumped in. “I believe there has been discussions in that regard,” she said. Recently?, Fletcher asked. “Yes,” Flynn-Guglietti said.

    Studios of America, owned by partners including company president Paul Vaughan and prominent real estate developer Mario Cortellucci, has a lease on the massive building, decommissioned as a power plant in 1983, that runs from 2002 to 2041 if all extensions are exercised.

    Asked in a phone interview Thursday if he is aware of sale discussions, Vaughan said he was but could not talk about it.

    “We have to defer to others to make that decision, I can’t do it on my own. What can I say?,” Vaughan said.

    “I have to defer to (OPG) because I’m under a gag order, I really can’t say anything. You should be talking to OPG. They are the land owners, obviously.”

    Neither OPG nor Cortellucci have yet responded to the Star’s request for comment.

    In June, the province announced it was putting up for sale the old Lakeview generating station site on Mississauga’s waterfront. The developer or consortium that buys that property will have to remediate the industrial lands before transforming the area into a mixed-use community expected to house up to 20,000 residents and 9,000 jobs.

    Many proposals for the Hearn have been floated over the years, including ice rinks, other sports facilities and demolition. It is used for specialized film studio work and, in recent years, has hosted events including the Luminato Festival. Proximity to the Portlands Energy Centre, a 550-megawatt natural gas electrical generating station, makes it unsuitable for housing.

    Fletcher said the OPG representatives’ portrayal of the land ownership reminded her of 2011 when a city agency leasing out Port Lands property launched, with the blessing of then-councillor Doug Ford and then-mayor Rob Ford, a doomed redevelopment plan including a giant Ferris wheel and megamall.

    “The public owns that land, not OPG, and I’m concerned OPG doesn’t see their job is to introduce this land into waterfront planning at some point the same way Toronto’s lands will be staged and introduced, even though we have leases on them,” she said.

    The Ontario government is a partner, along with the city and federal government, in Waterfront Toronto, the agency overseeing waterfront redevelopment.

    Mira Shenker, Waterfront Toronto’s communications manager for the Port Lands, said in an interview: “We’ve known that Studios of America, which has a long-term lease, has been in discussions with OPG but we are not privy to those. We hadn’t heard about a sale.

    “Whether we support (a sale) or not depends on the longer-term vision of the Port Lands, what the proposed re-use is. We know there is an interest from the community in some creative adaptive reuse of the Hearn.”

    Province’s waterfront Hearn site subject of sales talksProvince’s waterfront Hearn site subject of sales talks

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