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- 10/14/17--06:12: _Finance minister ti...
- 10/13/17--15:25: _Another Trump poiso...
- 10/14/17--04:30: _Saturday night Leaf...
- 10/14/17--07:11: _Trump’s combative s...
- 10/14/17--04:00: _In Sarnia’s Chemica...
- 10/14/17--03:00: _Drugs at 4 months. ...
- 10/13/17--16:35: _Joshua Boyle demand...
- 10/16/17--09:10: _Loblaws to cut 500 ...
- 10/16/17--13:40: _Police seize 42 kil...
- 10/16/17--11:10: _Investigative journ...
- 10/16/17--15:17: _Ontario employers w...
- 10/16/17--14:29: _Ontario colleges pr...
- 10/16/17--16:10: _‘A nuclear war may ...
- 10/16/17--12:53: _Actually, Woody All...
- 10/16/17--13:07: _Trudeau and Morneau...
- 10/16/17--12:01: _‘Let’s make the bes...
- 10/16/17--16:17: _Prosecutors allege ...
- 10/16/17--13:12: _Trump lied about Ob...
- 10/16/17--20:09: _Woman whose complai...
- 10/16/17--06:10: _European giant Airb...
- 10/14/17--06:12: Finance minister tinkers with tax-reform proposals
- 10/14/17--04:30: Saturday night Leafs tradition fading away: Feschuk
- 10/14/17--04:00: In Sarnia’s Chemical Valley, is ‘toxic soup’ making people sick?
- 10/16/17--09:10: Loblaws to cut 500 jobs
- 10/16/17--14:29: Ontario colleges preparing for a long strike
- 10/16/17--16:10: ‘A nuclear war may break out any moment,’ North Korea says
OTTAWA—Finance Minister Bill Morneau is expected to lay out possible changes Monday to the controversial tax reforms that have put the Liberals on the defensive.
Liberal MPs have been summoned to a presentation by Morneau on Monday morning at a rare special caucus meeting on Parliament Hill.
In a tweet, Morneau would only say that he’s “looking forward” to the meeting “to listen and keep working together on our plan to grow and strengthen the middle class.”
The finance minister is expected to outline next steps in his plan to bring in reforms to how privately incorporated businesses are taxed.
But Morneau comes to the meeting a wounded finance minister who, over the past several weeks, felt the sting of caucus ire over both proposed changes that triggered widespread opposition and his own inability to communicate the rationale for them.
Morneau, who was an independently wealthy businessperson before he entered politics, has faced steady fire from the Opposition for painting small business owners as tax cheats while not targeting other tax measures that favour big corporations such as his family company Morneau-Shepell.
On Friday, there was renewed interest in Morneau’s ownership of a villa in France through a numbered company in that country. This allows him to pay lower taxes there. He had previously disclosed the villa, but not the ownership structure.
It’s all made for a rough two months for the rookie minister, who unveiled the new tax measures during the summer.
The proposed changes sought to limit the ability of business owners to engage in so-called “income sprinkling,” or paying part of their income to family members, named as employees, to reduce their tax exposure.
Ottawa also wants to crack down on passive income from investments parked within a private corporation, money that can be shielded from the higher personal income tax rate.
Finally, the finance department wants to limit the ability of private corporations to convert some income into capital gains, which are subject to less tax.
While Monday’s meeting is billed as a “listening exercise,” Morneau and his Liberal colleagues have already had an earful on the proposals.
Small businesses, doctors and farmers are among the groups who have spoken out against the changes. They argue they will cost jobs.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business has called the measures the “most significant tax changes in decades” and launched a campaign to oppose it.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Morneau have defended the changes as an integral part of the government’s efforts to make the tax system fairer.
Trudeau has said that the concerns voiced by small business owners, opposition MPs, even members of his own caucus, could result in modifications to the planned reforms.
“We will ensure that we’re doing it the right way, so that hard-working, middle-class small businesses, hard-working, middle-class farmers, do not get penalized by a measure that is aimed at wealthy Canadians,” Trudeau said last month.
That was echoed by Morneau, who said, 10 days ago, the reforms would be adjusted slightly to accommodate public concerns.
Morneau has downplayed hopes the government would ditch the proposals altogether. The measures have enraged many small business owners who say they need to shelter income at lower tax rates within their company to expand the business or get through hard times.
A Liberal caucus source told the Star the final version of the proposed tax reforms will be introduced in the fall fiscal update. But it is possible they could be introduced in a separate bill.
The finance minister said he’d heard loudly and clearly objections in five areas and promised any changes would: not curb the ability of small businesses to grow; still allow other small businesses to remain small; allow intergenerational transfers of family farms or fishing licences without additional penalty; allow small businesswomen to save for maternity or other family-related leave, and would not increase red-tape. Morneau said he would ensure any measures that require family members prove they are doing work for the business are “administratively efficient.”
Morneau said he is entertaining other “technical” changes as well, including ensuring there is no unintended double-taxation upon death for those who have private corporations. (Concerns had been raised about whether small business owners will be able to hold life insurance within their corporations.)
Appearing at a question period in the Senate on Oct. 3, Morneau said government did not want to create “unintended consequences.”
But he has insisted the government’s objective remain; it doesn’t want a tax system that “allows wealthy Canadians to incorporate to get a lower tax rate than other Canadians.”
Finance minister tinkers with tax-reform proposals
The Trump administration has made another demand that could destroy NAFTA talks, this time unveiling a protectionist auto manufacturing proposal considered outlandish and unpalatable by Canada, Mexico, unions and car companies.
The new U.S. proposal creates yet more pessimism about the chances for a successful renegotiation of the continental free trade pact. It is the second major U.S. proposal in two days that Canada and Mexico are unlikely to even consider endorsing.
The latest proposal has experts wondering again whether the Trump team is making unrealistic demands as a bargaining ploy or whether the president who has threatened to terminate NAFTA is deliberately trying to sabotage the negotiations.
“I think it’s one of these poison pills. I just think there’s no way, at all, ever, not-no-how, that Mexico and Canada can accept it. I don’t know what they’re thinking. The auto industry hates this,” said Jon Johnson, a C.D. Howe Institute senior fellow who worked on auto issues during the negotiation of the original North American Free Trade Agreement.
The long-rumoured proposal, discussed at NAFTA renegotiation talks on Friday, would make a car need to be composed of 50 per cent American content to avoid tariffs. At present, there is no American-content rule: NAFTA requires only that a car include 62.5 per cent content from North America as a whole.
The U.S. also proposed to raise that North American requirement to 85 per cent. This, too, is considered an unreasonable threshold by the industry given the importance of Asian electronics and other elements found overseas.
Further, the timeline proposed by the U.S. was extraordinarily aggressive. Companies would have just one year to meet the 50 per cent U.S. requirement, two years to meet the 85 per cent North American requirement — an unusually rapid implementation period for an industry in which it takes years for companies to turn an idea into a product.
The proposal for 50 per cent U.S. content was described as “madness” by Flavio Volpe, president of Canada’s Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association, and “completely ridiculous” by Jerry Dias, president of the Unifor union representing Canadian autoworkers. The Canadian government views it as so bad and so important that Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland’s office issued its first written denunciation of a U.S. demand.
“On NAFTA, we are working for a good deal, not just any deal. That means that we will continue to defend our national interest and stand up for Canadian values. We will not accept proposals that put Canadian jobs at risk,” said Freeland spokesperson Adam Austen. “We will continue to make clear, reasoned arguments based on fact and to put forward pragmatic, mutually beneficial proposals.”
Trump’s negotiators formally unveiled the proposal late Thursday at the fourth round of NAFTA talks in a suburb of Washington. It came a day after the Trump team proposed a “sunset clause” that would automatically terminate the deal in five years if all three countries did not approve it again.
Experts say the proposal is unwise since it would likely lead carmakers to simply choose to get their components from outside the NAFTA zone, killing jobs throughout North America, rather than attempting to meet the overly onerous thresholds.
The tariff on cars that do not meet NAFTA thresholds is a mere 2.5 per cent — hardly enough to compel carmakers to stay put in North America, industry players said Friday.
“They’ll just say, ‘You know what, I don’t need to comply with NAFTA. If my price advantage of sourcing out of South Asia is 7 per cent, why wouldn’t I pay the 2.5 per cent tariff?’” said Volpe.
For that reason, Volpe said, a proposal supposedly designed to protect U.S. jobs would actually hurt them.
“The only ones who are going to win are non-North American suppliers,” he said. “Never mind Canada and Mexico — I know (Trump officials) don’t care. But if you game it out for U.S. industry? Anybody who’s making cars or car parts right now under this scenario, if it was accepted, would be hurt, including workers.”
Johnson said the content proposals are particularly confusing because U.S. demands for auto trade are usually in line with the wishes of the U.S. auto industry. In this case, the industry is aghast.
“Any increase in the rules of origin would add complexity, burden and cost, thus reducing Canada’s competitiveness as well as the competitiveness of the trade bloc as a whole,” the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association, which represents General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler, said in a statement.
Dias said the auto proposal, like the sunset clause proposal, is evidence the U.S. is not really interested in making a deal.
“I spend a lot of time with the Canadian team. They view the U.S. proposals as as foolish as I do. So they’re not going anywhere. This deal is falling apart,” he said. “There’s not going to be a NAFTA.”
The U.S. team also proposed Thursday to include steel, for the first time, on the list of components that count toward the content threshold, an idea designed to boost the U.S. steel industry.
Speaking to the media at a meeting with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada remains committed to the talks and “will not be walking away from the table based on proposals put forward.”
In a speech to the Mexican Senate on Friday, Trudeau promoted gender equality and warned of a rising tide of isolationism.
“Isolationism is taking hold in too many corners of the world, but our people must not succumb to fear. We, as leaders, must not succumb to fear,” he said.
Another Trump poison pill for NAFTA? Ottawa slams demand for 50% U.S. content in cars
When Andy Rielly plans a trip to see his son Morgan play for the Maple Leafs, he prefers to scope out a long weekend. It’s a hefty trip to Toronto from the Rielly home in Vancouver. Identifying a pair of games a day or two apart — anchored around a Saturday night game at the Air Canada Centre — provides the framework for a worthwhile stay.
So when the elder Rielly recently scanned the early part of the schedule for possibilities, he was unenthused by the offerings. Saturday home games, a traditional Maple Leaf staple, are surprisingly scarce in the opening few months of the season. This Saturday, the Maple Leafs are in Montreal. Next Saturday they’re in Ottawa. Two weeks hence, on Oct. 28, they play at home against Philadelphia — the lone Saturday date at the Air Canada Centre in a six-week stretch in which they play Saturday road contests in St. Louis, Boston and Montreal.
This year the Leafs don’t play a single Saturday home game in the month of December. They’ll play just 11 all season, tied for the lowest number in franchise history in a schedule made up of at least 60 games, according to an analysis of historical schedule data by the Star’s Andrew Bailey. This is the first campaign in the Hockey Night in Canada era — which stretches back to 1952-53 — in which the Maple Leafs will play more Saturday nights on the road (12) than at home (11). They’ll play nearly as many home games on Monday and Wednesday, 10 apiece.
“My dad’s trips to Toronto are based around those (Saturday home) games . . . He was not impressed,” said Morgan Rielly. “That’s strange. I don’t know why that is.”
An NHL spokesperson, citing information provided by league scheduling guru Steve Hatze Petros, said in an email that the scarcity is a product of a few factors, including fewer than normal available Saturday home dates at the busy Air Canada Centre; more Saturday requests from other clubs; and an instance or two in which the Maple Leafs decided a Saturday home game coming off a road trip wouldn’t be in the team’s best competitive interest.
Still, an NHL source said the Leafs requested a lot more Saturday home games than they were given. And this year’s allotment appears to be a new normal in the centre of the hockey universe. A year ago, when the Leafs also played 11 Saturday home games, some chalked it up to an NHL schedule compressed by the World Cup of Hockey and newly introduced bye weeks, and to the presence in Toronto of the world junior championship, which gobbled up arena availability for two-plus weeks.
But Saturday home games have been slowly disappearing for a while. As recently as 2006-07 the Leafs played 19 of their 41 home games on Saturday. By Rielly’s rookie year of 2013-14 the number was down to 15 — a month of Saturdays more than currently on offer. There were 14 a season later. And 12 a year after that.
As a Toronto tradition wanes — and at least some of the club’s legend was built on the romantic allure of the Saturday night pilgrimage to a hockey mecca — there are those who’ll tell you it’s a shame.
“I love those Saturday night home games,” said Nazem Kadri, the veteran centreman. “To me, it’s more fun. It’s not like it changes the way I play or changes the way anyone else plays, but it’s just a bigger stage. You feel like more is on the line, even though it’s not.”
Said Zach Hyman, the second-year forward: “Saturday night in Toronto is a special night.”
Others don’t claim as much of a day-specific attachment.
“Toronto is such a good city to play in, it doesn’t matter if it’s a Saturday. Traffic is less — that’s the only good thing (about playing at home on Saturday),” said Leo Komarov, the veteran forward.
For the local team, there’s another good thing about playing on Saturday. It’s a historically successful night, and not simply at the cash box. In the 70 seasons going back to 1947-48, the franchise’s overall winning percentage, home and away, is higher on Saturdays than it is on any other day of the week. It’s even better on Saturdays at home, where the Leafs have won 53 per cent of games over the time period.
“It’s obviously the best day of the week, I think,” Kadri said.
Moaning about the schedule’s quirks is a regular complaint heard ’round the sports world. At times during his tenure, Leafs head coach Mike Babcock has blamed the tough stretches in Toronto’s 82-game grind on the team’s status as a ratings draw co-owned by a pair of telecommunications behemoths, Bell and Rogers.
“Our schedule has a little bit to do with TV, if I’m not mistaken,” Babcock said in 2015.
GM Lou Lamoriello has said in the past he would make it a priority to endeavour to reduce Babcock’s calendar-related angst, specifically the number of back-to-back games on the slate. While the league ultimately sets the schedule, teams have considerable input. Last season the Leafs played 18 sets of back-to-back games. They’ll play 14 this season. It’s conceivable that achieving that reduction sacrificed a Saturday home game or two. A club spokesperson said team management declined a request to comment on the schedule.
Scott Moore, president of Rogers Sportsnet and the overseer of Hockey Night in Canada, said the whereabouts of Toronto’s Saturday games “has nothing to do with TV,” even if, he said, road games typically add to production costs.
“We have in our contract a number of Leaf games on Saturday. We don’t have any input, nor do we care, whether they’re at home or on the road,” said Moore in an interview.
Moore said the geographical location of a Maple Leafs game “doesn’t change the ratings.” A home game draws the same number of eyeballs as a road one.
There was a time when the Maple Leafs played the majority of their home games on Saturdays. For the bulk of the 1950s and ’60s, when the league featured six teams and the regular-season schedule ran 70 games, the Leafs routinely played 24 games at Maple Leaf Gardens — about 69 per cent of its 35-game home schedule. In the 1970s and ’80s, as the league added more teams and more games, the percentage of Saturday home games still hovered above 50 per cent.
Toronto hockey fans hankering for that throwback feeling will appreciate the tail end of this season’s schedule. Each of its final five weekends will see the Maple Leafs playing where they’re famous for playing — on home ice on Saturday night.
“I think the players get a special feeling for those Saturday home games,” said Rielly. “You get excited to play on that stage.”
Saturday night Leafs tradition fading away: Feschuk
TEHRAN, IRAN—U.S. President Donald Trump’s refusal to certify the Iran nuclear deal has sparked a new war of words between the Islamic Republic and America, fuelling growing mistrust and a sense of nationalism among Iranians.
The speech has also served to unite Iranians across the political spectrum — from Trump’s declining to call the Persian Gulf, the waterway through which a third of all oil traded by sea passes, by its name, to undercutting those trying to change Iran’s clerically overseen government from within.
That is also likely to strengthen the hand of hard-liners within Iran, who long have insisted that United States remains the same “Great Satan” denounced in the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
“Under the deal, it was supposed to be that we get concessions, not that we give more concessions,” the hard-line Kayhan newspaper raged.
Iranian officials and media outlets on Saturday uniformly condemned Trump’s comments that angrily accused Iran of violating the spirit of the 2015 accord and demanded Congress toughen the law governing U.S. participation. Trump said he was not ready to pull out of the deal but warned he would do so if it were not improved.
In a televised speech shortly after Trump made his announcement, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said his country would remain in the deal, but criticized Trump’s words, referring to them as “curses.”
Rouhani also said Iran would continue to build and test ballistic missiles, something allowed under the nuclear deal though Americans believe it violates the accord’s spirit.
“We have always been determined and today we are more determined,” Rouhani said. “We will double our efforts from now on.”
The Iranian president also offered a list of moments that showed the United States could not be trusted by the average Iranian, dating back to the 1953 CIA-backed coup that cemented U.S.-backed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s power.
Like many others in Iran, Rouhani focused on the fact that Trump used the term “Arabian Gulf” to refer to the Persian Gulf. Some traded online video clips of past American presidents calling it the Persian Gulf, while one semi-official news agency published a photo gallery with the title “Persian Gulf forever.”
Posts with the hashtag PersianGulf and the Iranian flag circulated on social media.
The name of the body of water has become an emotive issue for Iranians who embrace their country’s long history as the Persian Empire, especially as the U.S.’ Gulf Arab allies and the American military now call it the “Arabian Gulf.” Rouhani even suggested during his speech that Trump needed to “study geography.”
“Everyone knew Trump’s friendship was for sale to the highest bidder. We now know that his geography is too,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter.
Zarif went on, with sarcasm, to mention Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, all hereditarily ruled Gulf nations, saying: “No wonder supporters of Trump’s inane Iran speech are those bastions of democracy in the Persian Gulf.”
Iran’s Education Minister Mohammad Bathai also suggested in a tweet that American teachers allocate more time toward teaching “history and geography” — another dig at Trump.
Recent surveys have shown an increasing majority of Iranians are skeptical that the U.S. will live up to its obligations in the nuclear deal. Meanwhile, most have yet to see the benefits of the deal itself as Iran’s economy still struggles to overcome rampant inflation, few jobs and bad loans to its banks.
“Iran has in no way violated the nuclear deal, and as far as we know it has always remained committed to its promises, but it has always been (the Americans) who have broken their promises and have had other options on the table,” Tehran resident Hamed Ghassemi said.
The U.S. has also levied new sanctions against Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, whose forces fight Daesh, also known as ISIS, in Iraq, support embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad, have tense encounters with U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf and run the country’s ballistic missile program.
However, the U.S. has balked at adding the Guard’s name to a formal State Department list of foreign terrorist organizations. That could have proven problematic, especially with the Guard’s vast economic holdings across Iran.
Gen. Masoud Jazayeri, a Guard commander and spokesman for Iran’s joint armed forces staff, said late on Friday that the country’s military will continue boosting its power and influence.
“We tell the corrupt and evil government of the U.S. that we will continue promoting defensive power of the country, more determined and with more motive than before,” Jazayeri was quoted as saying by the Guard’s news website. “We do not spare a while for defending suppressed people in any point of the world.”
Trump’s combative speech on Iran nuclear deal sparks new war of words
SARNIA, ONT.—In the hours before daylight on Feb. 8, 2014, toxic benzene leaking from a Sarnia chemical plant wafted toward the homes of the Sherwood Village neighbourhood in the shadow of the city’s industrial stacks.
“Yeah, I can smell it,” muttered Dwayne DeBruyne, a plant employee at the Plains Midstream Canada chemical plant who reported the incident just after 6 a.m. to a provincial government hotline for spills.
“So it’s a spill?” the operator from the Spills Action Centre in Toronto is heard asking on a recording of the call, obtained through a freedom-of-information request.
“I wouldn’t classify it as a spill,” he says. “It’s an odour release.”
“I mean, it sounds like a spill to me,” she counters.
DeBruyne concedes with a slight laugh, “OK, we’ll call it a spill … It’s very contained.”
Not so, government records show.
Benzene — which causes cancer at high levels of long-term exposure — was already spreading.
Air quality measurements taken over a few minutes that morning by an independent company hired by Plains Midstream Canada measured benzene levels at 50 parts per billion.
If sustained over 30 minutes, that level would have been 22 times the provincial standard in place today.
This government incident report — along with more than 500 others from 2014 and 2015 — was obtained by a national investigation involving the Toronto Star, Global News and journalism schools at Concordia and Ryerson through freedom-of-information requests.
The documents reveal the details of industrial leaks in Sarnia’s Chemical Valley that released a range of emissions — from a valve left open for three months venting hydrocarbons in 2014 to particulate matter from a boiler stack falling onto cars that year, to a two-hour leak of hydrogen sulphide from tanks in 2015.
Only one public warning has been issued for an industrial incident through the city’s official alert system since it began in 2014. And the ministry has laid charges in four cases in the Sarnia area since January 2013. (One of those was a leak at an Imperial Oil plant in Sarnia the day before the Plains Midstream spill that triggered a $812,500 fine and criticism from residents and the mayor about insufficient public warning.)
“It seems like government oversight is lacking,” says Joyce McLean, senior policy adviser with Ontario’s environment ministry from 1990-95, who reviewed a dozen incident reports.
“There’s basically a toxic soup … Every time that there is an exceedance or a spill, the ministry should be paying attention and prosecuting where necessary. It seems to me … the ministry fell short of their responsibility.”
Around midday Feb. 8, 2014, benzene readings more than a kilometre from Plains Midstream Canada remained twice the current standard if measured for a half-hour, according to the incident report.
The WHO calls benzene “carcinogenic to humans,” and says, “no safe level of exposure can be recommended.”
But Sarnia residents, including those living and working in the immediate vicinity, were never told what leaked that morning.
“First I’ve heard of it,” said Mickey Cvejich, a manager at a motorcycle store nearby. “Completely shocked, I had no idea.”
Reporters visited more than two dozen homes surrounding the plants earlier this year; only one person — who said she worked in health and safety but wouldn’t comment further — knew about that day. The ministry did not investigate or lay charges.
“The incident did not warrant referral to the ministry’s investigations and enforcement branch,” reads a statement from a ministry spokesperson. The spill fell below the regulator’s “emergency screening value” for benzene.
A written response from Plains Midstream Canada says: “There were no injuries or air safety concerns during the event and at no time was there a risk to the public … Third party air monitors … continued to indicate that the air remained safe.”
Dean Edwardson, spokesperson for the Sarnia-Lambton Environmental Association — a non-profit co-operative of 20 industrial manufacturers — says industry is doing all it can to “limit the amount of benzene that might be coming from our facilities.
“We have shown continuous improvement in reduction of volatile organic hydrocarbons, including benzene, over the last number of years. Without regulatory intervention, our companies have strived and made progress in the area.”
Still, newly appointed Liberal Environment Minister Chris Ballard acknowledges the air issues.
“I am so concerned about what I hear that’s happening in this community. This is not right.”
Several experts who reviewed the details of the incident questioned the industry and government response.
Chris Stockwell, Ontario’s Conservative environment minister from 2002-03, called the benzene readings “alarming,” requiring an inspection and possibly charges. “I can’t explain why this would happen frankly.”
Bud Wildman, the NDP minister from 1993-95, said the spill should have raised alarms in the ministry.
“This is the kind of incident where the ministry staff should be on site and should be involved in the investigation,” he said. “Benzene is a very, very toxic substance.”
The ministry did not send an inspector to investigate the site, records show.
“That’s pathetic,” says Elaine MacDonald, an environmental engineer with EcoJustice, who also reviewed the incident report. “They got a free pass, definitely. There seem to be a lot of free passes in Sarnia.”
Some days, you can smell Chemical Valley before you see it.
The odour of chemicals and rotten eggs grows more pungent as you approach the stacks and tanks that dominate the skyline.
Behind the fences of massive industrial plants are companies such as Imperial Oil, Shell Canada, Suncor Energy and Plains Midstream — part of an industry that emerged in the late 19th century when oil was discovered in Oil Springs, about 40 kilometres from Sarnia.
Today, 57 facilities are registered as polluters with the Canadian and U.S. governments, all within 25 kilometres of Sarnia.
The tidy rows of brick homes that comprise south-end neighbourhoods sit across the street, or the tracks, from tanks and flare stacks.
Not far from that neighbourhood is the sprawling Aamjiwnaang First Nation, surrounded on three sides by Chemical Valley. An unlucky swing of a bat on a nearby field would send a baseball behind a fence where the industrial stacks stand.
If current zoning laws had existed when many of these refineries were built, some of the petrochemical facilities wouldn’t be where they are.
“This is a historic failure,” said Gord Miller, former provincial environmental commissioner, on the release of his 2014 annual report. “Current land use rules would not allow such a concentration of industry so close to a residential community.”
Sarnia’s oil and gas companies are required to report nearly every pollutant spill — minor incidents, accidents and maintenance issues — to the environment ministry.
A city-operated, industry-funded alert system called myCNN is designed to reach tens of thousands of people in minutes through electronic messages. In the three years since it began, it’s been used once for an industrial spill.
“I can’t imagine there’s only been one incident that people should be drawing their attention to in three years,” says city councillor Brian White. “We have a responsibility to inform people.”
Cal Gardner, Sarnia’s emergency management co-ordinator, says industry has the initial responsibility of notifying the city of incidents.
“There is discretion from industry that we have to follow,” he said. “They are the ones at the control, they are the ones doing the monitoring, they are the ones that are going to be charged and fined if they are at fault for failing to notify. But we also have municipal fire departments that go and respond and monitor and check in as well and we also make sure Spills Action Centre is notified.”
The province has been tackling air quality in Sarnia, says Ballard.
He noted benzene levels in Sarnia have dropped significantly in 25 years.And last year, Canada’s toughest benzene emission standards came into effect in Ontario.
“Everything that we’re made aware of, we respond to in some way. But it’s a scaled response. I mean if someone spills a toxic material on the ground it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re going to face a charge, right?
“We need to continue to drive (pollutant levels) down.”
But cities across Ontario are struggling to meet the new standard. Last year, when it came in, an industry-operated air monitor in Sarnia registered the highest annual benzene level in three years, nearly four times the new limit of .45 micrograms per cubic metre.
A 2016 ministry report on petroleum refining standards found three Sarnia facilities in the top four per cent of 147 facilities surveyed in the U.S. and Ontario for benzene levels measured at the facility property line. That report indicates five of six Ontario petroleum refineries were estimated to be emitting three to 10 times the new annual standard.
The industry has argued the new standard is so “restrictive” it needs time to upgrade equipment and several facilities have been given an amnesty on the new targets.
“Our companies have engaged . . . in a number of measures for the reduction of benzene using best available technology,” says Edwardson, of the industry association.
EcoJustice’s MacDonald says the delays amount to a “loophole” for industry.
Meanwhile, troubling air quality readings persist.
In the First Nation of Aamjiwnaang, a mobile unit operated by the ministry that tests air monthly has captured benzene spikes. On April 26, 2016, for example, benzene levels were logged at 161 micrograms per cubic metre — 23 times Ontario’s current standard for a half-hour.
Ballard acknowledges there is much work to do before industry in Sarnia reaches provincial emission standards.
“We have to have that low goal and we have to be very clear . . . that our goal is year-over-year reductions.”
Weekly, often daily, Ada Lockridge watches smoke or flames billow from the plants that surround her house in Aamjiwnaang. She thinks it is slowly eating away at her health.
“If I fed you arsenic every day… I’m poisoning you. You could charge me,” she says. “These companies, they’re leaking things everyday, and slowly doing harm, and they just seem to be getting a slap on the wrist or nothing at all. Because we have to prove it. Then we have to prove which company. But there’s so many, how can you point out one?”
There is much speculation, but little clarity, on the impact the concentration of refineries and plants has on the health of city residents.
“Obviously, the real question is do [petrochemical companies] alert when there’s an issue?” says Ron Smith, a one-time software programmer at Suncor, now a Sarnia police employee and president of the Sarnia Historical Society. “I really believe that they do. I think there’s a lot of ramifications and fines for them not to . . . Maybe I’ve got the glasses on incorrectly, where I’m thinking … they’re all playing by the same rules.”
When Smith spoke, his wife was expecting their first child. His home is about two kilometres from an Imperial Oil plant.
“I just hope that they’re good corporate citizens and they are doing that. And if not, then there’s the provincial and federal governments that have things in place that manage them and address them if they’re not following those guidelines, you know?”
Since 2007, a group called the Lambton Community Health Study, which includes the county’s medical officer of health, has sought funding for an independent study on the city’s air and water and any public health effects. It was never done.
While industry has offered funding, the province and federal governments have not.
A modest survey released by the group, based on a phone poll of 500 residents, an online survey and five open houses in 2010 and 2011, found concerns.
About 80 per cent felt pollution from local industries was causing health problems for them or their families, most commonly citing cancer or respiratory health. A “predominant” theme in the findings: “a need for better communication and increased transparency on the part of industry.”
Ballard said he would consider funding an independent study.
The public data that exists is inconclusive. Hospitalization rates for respiratory problems are higher in Sarnia and Aamjiwnaang than nearby Windsor and London. There are more lung cancer cases and mesothelioma than the Ontario average, in part because of the region’s asbestos legacy.
But leukemia and blood cancer rates are consistent with the rest of Ontario.
Critics say the data, collected at the county level, misses the impact on people in the immediate vicinity of Chemical Valley.
“The highly exposed population, their risk is diluted,” says Jim Brophy, former executive director of Sarnia’s Occupational Health Clinic.
“Leukemia incidence and lymphoma incidence among the industrial workers could be through the roof but you wouldn’t see it if they’re all in the population as a whole.”
His reading of available scientific evidence is that exposures in Sarnia “pose a cancer risk to the general population and may even be more profoundly dangerous for children or pregnant women,” he says.
“This idea that (government is) on guard and they’re watching what’s going on and they’re protecting people from harm, this is really a naive view.”
Having a First Nation community next to gas, oil and chemical plants amounts to “environmental racism,” he says.
“There’s no way that a white community would be up against the fence line with one of the largest industrial concentrations in the country,” he says. “Anybody who is informed on this issue knows how dangerous this really is.”
Robert Cribb can be reached at email@example.com
The Price of Oil series is the result of the largest ever collaboration of journalists in Canada, from the Toronto Star, Global News, the National Observer and journalism schools at Concordia, Ryerson, Regina and UBC.
Robert Cribb Toronto Star
Carolyn Jarvis Global News
Emma McIntosh Ryerson University School of Journalism
Sawyer Bogdan Ryerson University School of Journalism
Morgan Bocknek Ryerson University School of Journalism
Robert Mackenzie Ryerson University School of Journalism
Patti Sonntag, Michener Awards Foundation
Sandra Bartlett, Global News
Sean Craig, Global News
Stephanie Gordon, Global News
Fallon Hewitt, Global News
Nathan Sing, Global News
Claire Loewen, Concordia University Department of Journalism
Michael Wrobel, Concordia University Department of Journalism
Chris Aitkens, Concordia University Department of Journalism
Jeremy Glass-Pilon, Concordia University Department of Journalism
Lucas Napier-Macdonald, Concordia University Department of Journalism
Patrick Cain, Global News
Patti Sonntag, Michener Fellow/Concordia University
In Sarnia’s Chemical Valley, is ‘toxic soup’ making people sick?In Sarnia’s Chemical Valley, is ‘toxic soup’ making people sick?In Sarnia’s Chemical Valley, is ‘toxic soup’ making people sick?
WHITEHORSE—His mother puts the painkillers in the 4-month-old’s milk bottle to stop his crying and make him sleep. And he does — so quietly that she may have forgotten he was even there. She disappears that December night in 1978 and never comes back.
By the time his grandparents find him, the infant is alone, unconscious, the codeine eating through his stomach lining.
The emergency surgery in Edmonton marks the beginning of 39-year-old Gabriel Smarch’s 2,000-page government case history.
The pages tell a story of repeated failures to keep a vulnerable child safe. Throughout his life, Gabriel asked for help, telling social workers, foster parents, nurses and doctors what was happening to him. He was ignored or not believed over and over again.
By the time he says his school principal, a man identified in court documents only as “J.V.”, raped him as an 8-year-old, the trajectory of Gabriel’s life seemed irreversible.
It’s also the story of a victim becoming a violent abuser, a cycle that is far too common in communities like the Kwanlin Dün First Nation in Whitehorse — communities still grappling with the intergenerational trauma of Canada’s colonial violence.
Indigenous children are drastically overrepresented in the foster care and youth justice systems. Nearly 70 per cent of 161 clients that the Yukon Child Advocate’s Office dealt with in 2015-16 are Indigenous, and the vast majority of those are child welfare cases.
“Many of the children we work with are intergenerational survivors of residential schools,” said Annette King, the territory’s child advocate.
Gabriel shared his entire history with the Star because he wants people to understand the cycles of abuse he was caught up in, and how they continue today.
Gabriel is 6 years old
His family is large. Housing is cramped. The extended family lives sometimes three or four to a room, with siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles all underfoot. In the evenings, most of the adults go to bingo, leaving the children in the care of one of the aunts or uncles.
“One night I woke up to pain,” Gabriel recalled, decades later. His shoulders begin to shudder. “It hurt. My uncle was having sex with me. He finished, and I couldn’t stop crying. Stop crying, he said. Everything will be OK.”
As a child, Gabriel doesn’t tell anyone about the sexual abuse but his medical records show he repeatedly told nurses, doctors and social workers he was afraid of being sent home because he said he’d be beaten. He asks to be sent to a foster home, but every time his social workers insist there isn’t enough evidence of abuse to take him into care.
Gabriel is 8 years old
In his short life Gabriel has been to the emergency room 10 times for everything from pneumonia to facial lacerations, a cut from a table saw, two head wounds, and scars that look like they came from cigarette burns, but are later determined to be impetigo, a painful rash that can be caused by poor hygiene.
Records show he is consistently late or absent from school. When he does arrive, he is distracted and irritable, and often caught stealing food from other children. One of his teachers suspects it is because he isn’t being fed at home.
A local doctor is worried. He writes a letter to Gabriel’s social workers accusing them of failing to collect enough evidence to document his mistreatment and take him into permanent care.
“The game we are playing is extremely dangerous,” Dr. Robert Menzies writes. If something isn’t done, Gabriel “could easily be further brutalized, and perhaps maimed or killed.”
In the spring Gabriel and a group of other children are taken to J.V.’s house for a sleepover, according to the lawsuit he would file years later.
Gabriel says he woke up to J.V. raping him.
“They say when you’re molested as a child your innocence is taken from you and it’s replaced with evil,” Gabriel said. “I was replaced with that.”
Despite repeated requests, including phone calls, emails and a hand-delivered letter, J.V. wouldn’t answer the Star’s questions for this story.
Gabriel is 9 years old
He sits in the pickup truck’s cab with his cousin Adrian. The two boys, not yet teenagers, huddle in the night, trying to ward off the cold creeping through their thin cotton sweatshirts.
“We used to do that all the time, run away from the family,” Gabriel recalled. “When they caught us it was always bad. They’d make us cut our own willow branches for them to whip us with.”
A psychological assessment in March 1988 recommends Gabriel be placed in therapeutic foster care for at least a year. He is sent back to live with his family.
“It wasn’t an upbringing,” says Jane McIntyre. “It was an existence he had.”
Jane was a sort of unofficial foster parent to Gabriel many times over the years, but their relationship never had any legal foundation. When things in Gabriel’s life got desperate, she would take him in. Other times he would show up on Jane’s doorstep, with nowhere else to go. He lived off and on with her for years.
Gabriel still visits Jane occasionally, when he needs support. Sitting in her kitchen decades later, he listens quietly as she fixes coffee.
“Those men in his family, they would be drinking,” she says, “and they would hold him up by his shirt with all of them in a ring. They’d tease him and poke him and pull his pants down. He was just a little boy. It was sick.”
Gabriel became friends with some of Jane’s other foster children. With his temporary family, young Gabriel spends weekends cross-country skiing and eating family meals — distractions from his life of anger and pain.
Gabriel is 10 years old
On account of Gabriel’s behaviour problems he is placed in the Above 60 treatment centre, a now-shuttered residential youth facility outside Whitehorse run by Mike Rawlings.
Almost immediately Gabriel starts running away, “escaping” as his psychological evaluation will later describe it.
He goes AWOL 15 times in three months. Each time he’s apprehended he’s returned to Rawlings’s care.
According to his statements to a psychologist in 2016, Gabriel says he was abused sexually and physically at the group home repeatedly, including at least two incidents of anal rape by unidentified staff members.
He tells the psychologist that after one such assault, he sat in the shower crying for hours.
“They’d take away my boots so I couldn’t run away,” he says.
But that doesn’t always stop him. One time Gabriel and a friend hitchhike as far as Vancouver Island. They are discovered by police after sneaking onto the Vancouver Island ferry. Family and Child Services records confirm the incident.
Gabriel’s records from the Justice Department show that when they were apprehended, Gabriel tells the RCMP officer about the alleged abuse at Above 60. He pleads with the officer not to return him there, and not to tell Rawlings.
Instead, social services records show Gabriel is sent back to the home, Rawlings is told everything, and records say no investigation is done. A case worker makes a note to follow up “if the boy makes more accusations of abuse.”
Gabriel is 17 years old
He is arrested for assault and an attempted break-and-enter.
In the six years since he ran away to Vancouver Island, Gabriel has racked up convictions for a previous assault, stealing a car, assault causing bodily harm and possession of stolen property. His case notes from Above 60 say he is “out of control.”
In January 1996 a nurse makes a note on his emergency room intake form that he’s been admitted twice in 24 hours. “The past history on this young man is abysmal for abuse,” the nurse writes.
By this point Gabriel is drinking heavily.
Between April 1, 1996, and June 30, 2012, Gabriel is treated in the emergency room for broken fingers, multiple head injuries, cuts, contusions and damaged ribs, almost all attributed to getting into fights.
Gabriel is 19 years old
Blackout drunk at a party, he’s arrested for sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl who was passed out. His arrest record says he had to be dragged off the victim. Gabriel says he woke up in the drunk tank with no memory of the assault, greeted with a pair of handcuffs and a ride to the arrest processing unit at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre.
He says, and insists to this day, he has no recollection of the assault. He pleads guilty as a way of trying to take responsibility, he says. He’s sentenced to 16 months in jail, and two years of probation.
Though he couldn’t see it at the time, Gabriel’s first lengthy stint in jail will become a turning point.
Almost immediately he starts collecting jailhouse infractions for bad behaviour — mouthing off, fighting, stealing from the kitchen.
But then he meets guard Harvey Reti, a retired infantry soldier and Olympic boxer working at the jail.
Sitting across the kitchen table from his old coach years later, Gabriel recalled their first meeting.
“I was working out in the gym and Harvey just approached me and said, ‘Maybe if you try punching it this way, try moving that way,’ and that was the start of the relationship right there. It bloomed,” Gabriel said.
“We saw a lot of guys like Gabe come through the system,” Harvey said. “When you read part of their past you can start dealing with them rather than just being the boss. You try to be a friend, and a helpful friend.”
Gabriel responded to boxing and to Harvey because they spoke to him in a way that no one had ever tried before. Harvey showed him how to harness his anger.
But aside from hooks and right crosses, Harvey taught Gabriel another lesson. “It takes the bigger man to step back from a fight sometimes,” Harvey said.
After his release, Gabriel starts boxing training with a furious intensity. The heavy smack of knuckles on leather shudders through his apartment building’s thin walls, broadcasting to every tenant the confined fury of the man in unit 5. He starts dressing almost entirely in black: black jeans, black hoodie, black steel-toed boots laced high up his shins like a gladiator’s armoured greaves.
It won’t be the end of his conflict with the law, but along with heavy doses of Tylenol 3s and marijuana, martial arts become a way to help Gabriel keep the monster inside.
Gabriel is 21 years old
Gabriel is released on probation with the condition that he enrol in a sex offender treatment program. Notes from his probation officer, Colleen Geddes, say he is doing well.
Gabriel “seems proud of himself. He is staying sober and learning to control his anger,” Geddes’s notes say.
His first child is born, a son, though it isn’t long before Gabriel and his mother have a falling out. His son goes to live with his maternal grandmother, and Gabriel doesn’t see much of him.
His penchant for minor crimes continues, with a number of arrests for thefts under $5,000 and probation breaches, but his violence and drinking appear largely under control.
In the early hours of Dec. 5, 1999, Gabriel is picked up by the RCMP and brought to the ER after being sexually assaulted by an unknown person in the Kwanlin Dün village.
His clothing is collected for evidence, though no one is ever charged. The hospital conducts an examination with a rape kit and discovers a ragged laceration almost five centimetres long between his legs.
Probation officer Geddes writes in her notes that after the sexual assault Gabriel “took it hard,” and started drinking heavily again.
A month later he’s dragged unconscious from a car by RCMP officers after going off the road and crashing into a telephone pole.
Gabriel is 22 years old
He starts dating Marie Wilcott, and moves in with her and her daughter.
One evening Marie wants to go partying, and leaves Gabriel at home with her daughter. When she comes back late that night, Gabriel is angry. They get into an argument, and Marie tries to leave.
Gabriel chases her into the street. He pulls her by her hair, screaming, back inside the kitchen. Her daughter is hiding in the next room.
The police are called. They find Gabriel in the basement, trying to hide in a clothes dryer. He is charged with assault and uttering threats.
After the assault Marie leaves Whitehorse with her daughter and moves to Vancouver. Like too many Indigenous women fleeing violence, mother and daughter are homeless for a while until Marie gets back on her feet. Now she helps teach colonial history and the legacies of Canada’s treatment of Indigenous people to outreach workers in the Downtown East Side.
Meanwhile case notes from the Whitehorse jail say Gabriel is a “high risk for suicide.” He’s placed in solitary confinement.
A case note from April 24, 2001, written by an unidentified jail employee, says Gabriel is asking repeatedly for gym time.
“He asked to see me in my office and before I could ask what he wanted he burst into tears. I ended up spending an hour and a half with him between the yard and my office, and most of that time he cried,” the note says.
Gabriel is 33 years old
A case note from his probation officer in 2004 hints Gabriel may be getting paid to fight in illegal bare-knuckle boxing matches.
His health records from 2005 say he’s brought unresponsive to the hospital by ambulance, eyes rolling back in his head. He’d been in a fight the previous day, and was kicked multiple times in the head. He tells doctors he collapsed in the shower.
He has two more children, daughters with two mothers, but is only peripherally involved in their lives.
His criminal record continues to grow. He’s arrested and charged multiple times for assaulting another girlfriend, and rotates in and out of jail.
In 2008 he arrives, yet again, at the hospital emergency room. He claims he was beaten up by the RCMP while in custody. “Smashed head against cement wall, dragged across floor, slammed head into floor,” the intake record says.
Notes from his probation officer say he was brought in on an outstanding warrant and was “resisting arrest.”
During this time Gabriel’s probation officer convinces him to start seeing a counsellor, Joseph Graham. Over time, Gabriel tells Graham the full extent of the sexual abuse he’s suffered. It’s one of the first times Gabriel names the thing that’s torturing him.
After the sessions with Graham, Gabriel decides to do two things: charge his uncle with sexual assault, and sue the Yukon government over what he says J.V. and Above 60 did to him.
Gabriel is 35 years old
On the morning of his uncle’s trial, Gabriel dresses in white track pants and sneakers. His armour — the heavy rings, steel-toed boots, black hoodie — is gone. Pinned to his sleeve is a tiny metal cross. He stands in his apartment, staring out the window, not speaking. Tupac Shakur’s “The Way It Is” blasts from the stereo, shaking the thin windowpanes.
On the stand, exposed, Gabriel struggles to maintain his composure, especially under cross-examination. He bristles at every question from his uncle’s defence lawyer. He argues with the judge. As soon as his testimony is finished, he stands and bolts from the courtroom.
In the witness room, behind closed doors, he presses his fists into his eyes.
“There are no more words for this,” he tells a court support worker, his shoulders shaking. “I’ve used them all up.”
Tears stream down Gabriel’s face, landing on the black T-shirt stretched tight across his chest.
There is a knock at the door. The court sheriff pokes his head in to let Gabriel know that his uncle and family has gone. Gabriel walks out of the courthouse and into the spring sunshine. He strides three blocks to a nearby church, checks his pockets for change for the donation jar, and walks inside.
The rows of pews are empty, silent. Gabriel tiptoes towards the altar. He crosses himself, kneels and clasps his hands together.
“Thank you, Lord, for giving me the strength …” he begins, his voice trailing off to a murmur. For 15 minutes he stays almost motionless, head bowed.
“I prayed for my uncle,” he says, back outside the church. “I prayed for his forgiveness and for the family. I prayed for forgiveness, too, for all the people I hurt, and for the family, all of them. You have to. God will judge all of us one day.”
A week passes.
“Hey, brother,” Gabriel says, looking up to the sky and waving. At the sound, the eagle dips its wings and scans the man in black, walking along the road beside McIntyre Creek.
It’s a good omen, Gabriel says. Eagles always are. That’s why Gabriel comes here, to this little strip of marshland wedged into a canyon just off the Alaska Highway. There are eagles everywhere, often a half-dozen at a time. Coming here is a ritual Gabriel has been practising since childhood in one of the only places he feels calm.
Gabriel doesn’t know it yet, but the case against his uncle is about to be thrown out. Gabriel urges a potential witness to come to court and back up his story. He loses his temper when the witness says no.
The Crown decides to withdraw its case.
Walking beneath the eagles in the canyon, unburdened by that knowledge, Gabriel says he can feel the crushing weight of his past lifted away on the winds.
“It feels like the freedom I didn’t get, the happiness, the peacefulness,” he says. “Where no one could f---ing touch you or punch you or lock you behind some f---ing door.”
It’s been more than two years since Gabriel first came forward about his uncle, two years since his family threw him out and disowned him for it, he says. Gabriel figures they were afraid of being tainted by the shame he says he wanted to expose.
“I wanted to be ordinary, like every other kid. I wanted to finish school, do good things, have my own house and a vehicle for my kids. But it was never like that,” he says. “It’s still not like that.”
Days later Gabriel’s probation officer finally gives him the news that his uncle was not convicted.
He starts drinking again. Weeks pass. Gabriel is nowhere to be seen. Loud music reverberates from inside his apartment, but there’s no answer to a knock at the door.
At 6 a.m. one morning, a reporter’s phone rings. Gabriel is on the other end of the line. “Hey. What’s goin’ on?” he says, his customary greeting. He sounds dopey and confused.
An hour later, Gabriel stumps down the stairs from his apartment. He sways, and crashes into the doorframe. Fresh, red scars run down his arms. His knuckles are ravaged and evidence of a fight is written across his face. He winces and holds his sides. He thinks his ribs might be broken.
He got jumped, he says, by a couple guys from the Kwanlin Dün village. There was a baseball bat, he says. There were boots.
He won’t say exactly what happened, who started the fight or why.
“This place is death, man,” he says. “It’s f---ing evil. I need to get out of here.”
Gabriel is 36 years old
He is leaning against a hotel room windowsill, staring out at the neon night. Vancouver’s Granville St. and the entertainment district stretch out before him. It’s early evening, but university students are already starting to fill the bar-lined street.
In the morning, he’ll see Marie Wilcott, the woman he assaulted, for the first time in more than a decade.
After his uncle’s trial, word reached Marie in Vancouver. She says she knew Gabriel’s early life had been hard, but she had no idea how hard.
“It totally broke my heart,” she says.
Despite their violent history, she decided to reach out.
A friend at the Kwanlin Dün First Nation offices told Gabriel about a college program in Vancouver. It’s a course in auto mechanics, and it’s designed specifically for older Indigenous students like Gabriel.
Gabriel flies to the city to visit Marie.
On the SkyTrain from the airport, Gabriel stares out the window, arms clasped tight around his chest. He spends most of the day walking around Vancouver, staring up at the skyscrapers but saying little. Finally, he’s standing outside the downtown Shoppers Drug Mart, the appointed meeting place, but at first he won’t go in. Finally, he steps forward as the automatic doors open.
Marie is standing inside, waiting. When she sees him, her face is unreadable. Gabriel waves faintly. Marie walks forward, her high-heeled boots rapping on the shopping mall floor. By the time they meet, Gabriel is laughing and Marie is smiling broadly. She links her arm through his and leads him back out to the parking lot.
They climb into her van and drive, winding through the city but not really seeing it, lost in talk. She drops Gabriel at Vancouver Community College for his meeting. The head of admissions tells him he needs to get his high school diploma and improve some grades. Gabriel gets a tour of the auto mechanic shop. He shakes hands with the head instructor, and walks out smiling.
The day ends at Jericho Beach, as the sun is setting over the city skyline. Marie and Gabriel walk along the sand. Gabriel pulls a joint from his pocket and walks alone towards a breakwater. Marie watches him go.
“I don’t think honestly in my heart that his family ever wanted to treat him like that,” she says.
“But that’s what was learned. That’s what was taught through residential schools. Now we have generations of people in their 20s and 30s struggling and wondering why this happened to me.
“Will Gabriel ever get why that happened? That’s huge stuff. Who knows if that ever happens?” she says.
She pauses, watching Gabriel standing alone and staring out across the water.
“There’s no timeline on this. All I can say is pure patience. Pure understanding of what’s going on. Aboriginal people are speaking up about this now, and we’re doing it slowly. It took 200 years to do us wrong. It’s going to take 200 years to get better.”
The ocean laps softly at the beach. Seagulls wheel in the sky.
“I want Gabriel to find some peace,” she says, finally. “Find happiness. There is happiness in him. There is a good guy in there that deserves to live a good life.”
Present day. Gabriel is 39 years old
After speaking with the admissions staff at Vancouver Community College, Gabriel returns to Whitehorse, enrols in classes at Yukon College and, though it is occasionally a struggle, earns his high school diploma.
He starts spending more time with his children, going on shopping trips with his daughter and driving his son to school each day.
Things appear to be improving for him, but as potential trial dates for his lawsuit over J.V.’s alleged abuse are set and rescheduled repeatedly, his anxiety begins to rise.
He’s arrested for assault, and ends up back inside the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. While he’s unable to collect his social assistance cheques, the rent on his government subsidized apartment goes unpaid. When he is released on bail he finds an eviction notice taped to his door.
He gets into another fight — jumped again, he says, by three guys. He fights them off, smashing one in the head with a rock and spattering blood across his car’s windshield.
The RCMP issues another warrant for Gabriel’s arrest. He ends up living in his car for three months until the social assistance office gets the paperwork on his apartment sorted out. Eventually he turns himself in to the police, and is charged and released on recognizance pending another trial date.
The Yukon government puts a settlement offer on the table in his lawsuit against J.V. Gabriel rejects it, but when the government says it will put him on the stand in open court, and use his lengthy criminal history against him, he signs a settlement offer. He gets $19,000 in exchange for dropping the allegations about Above 60 entirely. The settlement includes no admission of wrongdoing by the government or J.V.
Most of the money goes to pay off debts that Gabriel has accumulated over the past few years. In no time he has only a few thousand dollars left.
In August 2017, Gabriel says his social assistance is cut off because his settlement money means he no longer qualifies. His toilet is broken. The heat doesn’t work.
“I shouldn’t have to use that settlement money,” he says.
“I nearly died for that money, and what did it get me?” he asks, looking around at the pockmarked walls of his apartment. “This? Is this what it got me?”
Jesse Winter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Drugs at 4 months. Sexual abuse as a child. Now he fights to keep the monster inside
Rescued hostage Joshua Boyle lashed out at his kidnappers, calling for the Afghan government to track down those members of the Haqqani network who raped his wife, Caitlan Coleman, and ordered “the murder of my infant daughter.”
He made the statement to journalists gathered at Pearson International Airport just hours after landing in Toronto. His hands shook as he read the script he had carefully written in a small notebook.
While Boyle did not take questions, his comments confirmed what the couple had darkly hinted at in the letters home and “proof-of-life” videos his captors released during their five years in captivity.
Coleman said in one video that her children had seen her “defiled.” Boyle suggested cryptically in a letter that Coleman had a forced abortion.
While he spoke to the press, the rest of his family was loading into an RCMP van — with baby seats bought by Boyle’s mother already installed — and preparing to drive to their Smiths Falls, Ont., home.
Joshua’s parents, Linda and Patrick Boyle, along with Boyle’s three sisters, who had brought their nephews cellophane balloons with Canadian flags, had a chance to meet the young couple and the children privately in a small room inside the airport shortly after they landed.
Boyle told journalists that one of his children had required medical attention during this time.
It is hard to fathom the shock Friday must have been for the children — Jonah, Noah and Grace — who know no other life than being held hostage. Just the plane rides from Islamabad to London to Toronto would have been one of the many firsts they will now experience.
Their arrival in Toronto ended a five-year-long kidnapping ordeal that has captured international attention.
But even before their plane touched down, questions already had been raised.
What were the exact circumstances of their rescue?
How will these children cope?
Why did the couple go backpacking in Afghanistan in the first place?
Friday night, Boyle told journalists he was there to help “the most neglected minority group in the world, those ordinary villagers who live deep inside Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.”
Earlier Friday, Coleman’s father, Jim, told ABC News that he was angry with his son-in-law: “Taking your pregnant wife to a very dangerous place, to me, and the kind of person I am, is unconscionable.”
Coleman, 31, and Boyle, 34, were travelling across Central Asia when they crossed into Afghanistan in October 2012 and were kidnapped. Their families did not know Afghanistan was part of their itinerary.
The powerful Taliban-linked Haqqani network held them captive until Wednesday’s dramatic rescue by Pakistani forces, which was reportedly based on intelligence provided by the U.S. All three of their children, boys aged 4 and 2, and an infant daughter, were born in captivity.
Boyle spoke to the Star Thursday from a guesthouse in Islamabad and again briefly at the airport Friday night. He said his family was “psychologically and physically shattered,” but they were looking forward to “restarting.”
But if the Boyle and Coleman story follows the narrative of other hostage cases, then moving on means looking back, and public celebrations about their freedom will quickly turn to recriminations about their character.
An eight-part Star investigation, titled Held Hostage, found that hostages are either hailed as heroes, derided as foolish, or worse.
And rescues are always political, while determining the facts about them is always difficult.
The most detailed account so far of what happened Wednesday in Pakistan, near the border of Afghanistan, comes from Boyle earlier this week.
He told his parents in a Thursday morning phone call that he was in the trunk of the car with his wife and children when shooting began.
He said he was hit by shrapnel and five of the kidnappers were killed. The last words he said he heard his captors yell were: “kill the hostages.”
Later Thursday, when speaking with the Star, he said some of the captors fled and he was desperate to help investigators find them so they could face justice.
Boyle and Coleman will have quite a story to tell.
But so do their relatives — stories that include the years of negotiations that moved from Ottawa to Washington and New York to Doha, Kabul, Islamabad and a few places in between.
Linda and Patrick Boyle say they have met people over the last five years they never thought they would now have on speed dial.
Just this year Ambassador Omar Zakhilwal, the Afghan ambassador to Pakistan, became an important member of an unofficial team of advisers, which included diplomats, security consultants, government officials, journalists and other professions more difficult to categorize.
Zakhilwal, who is also a Canadian citizen, reached out to the Boyles after watching a December “proof-of-life” video that showed their grandsons for the first time while Joshua and Caitlan pleaded for release.
“I was surprised that women and children were held hostage for so many years and I had not even heard about it,” Zakhilwal told the Star. “I wanted to help with their release if I could, or if not, at least better treatment of them.” On his visits back to Canada, he met with the Boyles to discuss what could be done.
In January, back in Pakistan, he quickly helped get letters and videos from the Boyles and Colemans to the kidnappers. In reply, Coleman and Boyle sent a video in which Coleman says it will be a “miracle” if her family is freed and Boyle praises the speed with which the letter was delivered. Whoever this “Zakhilwal” is, Boyle said, he puts Canada Post to shame.
Boyle’s parents believed at that time there could be a miracle, clinging to a New York Times report that suggested a rescue could be former U.S. president Barack Obama’s parting act.
It was under Obama that U.S. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s release was negotiated with the Haqqanis; a politically unpopular deal that set Taliban detainees from Guantanamo free, in exchange for a soldier who had deserted his post.
Donald Trump, on the other hand, had called Bergdahl “a dirty rotten traitor” on the campaign trail, falsely claiming “six young beautiful people were killed trying to find him.” He even lamented the “old days” and pretended to fire a gun twice. “Bing bong,” he said.
As the inauguration neared, officials from Global Affairs Canada and the RCMP flew to Qatar — always a big player in hostage negotiations — then on to Kabul.
Then on Jan. 20, Trump became the 45th president. And there was no news.
“We’re just hanging on,” Patrick Boyle told me when we met a few weeks later. “It’s so hard when you get your hopes up.”
“We had never felt closer to getting them home. And we’ve never been more scared of losing them.”
Flash forward to Friday and Trump heralding their rescue as a sign of Pakistan’s new respect for America.
“I have openly said Pakistan took tremendous advantage of our country for many years, but we’re starting to have a real relationship with Pakistan and they’re starting to respect us as a nation again and so are other nations,” he said.
Details beyond what Boyle has said about the rescue are slowly emerging in media reports — although some are conflicting and most are from unnamed sources.
There was much speculation Friday as well about reports that Boyle had refused to board a U.S. flight once freed. Boyle’s father said he believed his son was fearful of getting on a flight that was bound for the U.S. base at Bagram.
But Boyle appeared Friday to dispute the claim that he turned down any transportation.
“I assure you I have never refused to board any mode of transportation that would bring me closer to home, closer to Canada and back with my family,” he said.
Joshua Boyle demands justice from Afghan government after returning to Canada
About 500 jobs are being cut at Loblaw Companies Ltd., beginning Monday, the company has confirmed.
The cuts are being made in corporate offices and include executives, members of management and employees across divisions and functions that support Loblaws, Shoppers Drug Mart and other retail stores, including No Frills, Joe Fresh and Zehrs.
“This will have no effect on hourly store roles,” said Loblaw spokesperson Kevin Groh, who added that the job losses are not related to any single fact, including the announced increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour in Ontario and Alberta.
“Our industry is facing a range of pressures. This isn’t related to any single one. In fact, it’s really about our future. To invest meaningfully in promising areas means saving meaningfully in others,” Groh said.
“While this is a difficult time and process, there is a future that includes considerable job creation,” said Groh.
In a memo to staff on Monday, obtained by the Star, Sarah Davis, president, Loblaw Companies Ltd., said the move was being made to control costs.
“These decisions are difficult but necessary. Our business is at an inflection point, with growing pressures – from new costs and new competition – and with many opportunities to grow and evolve. As always, we continue to focus on our future,” Davis wrote.
The internal memo goes on to say that the company is committed to cost reductions and running the business efficiently.
Groh said the company is investing in areas including digital initiatives, online commerce, health care initiatives and financial services and is creating new positions, as it does so.
Loblaw Companies Ltd. announced in July 2013 that it had acquired Shoppers Drug Mart in a $12.4 billion deal.
Loblaws is one of Canada’s largest private employers, employing 200,000, according to Groh.
Loblaw chair and chief executive officer Galen Weston told analysts during a quarterly earnings call in July that the increase in minimum wage to $15 an hour in Ontario and Alberta was going to increase the company’s labour expenses by about $190 million next year.
Loblaws to cut 500 jobsLoblaws to cut 500 jobs
Durham Region police have seized 42 kilograms of the deadly opioid carfentanil, saying it’s believed to be the largest seizure of the drug in the country.
Carfentanil is a synthetic opioid similar to fentanyl but 100 times more potent, and an amount weighing less than a grain of salt can kill someone.
Police said they seized 53 kg of unknown substances from a Pickering, Ont., home on Sept. 20 and Health Canada has confirmed 42 kg of that was carfentanil.
Maisum Ansari, 33, of Oshawa, is charged with possession of carfentanil for the purpose of trafficking.
Police also seized 33 guns and other prohibited devices in their search of the home.
The man was charged last month with 337 weapons-related charges, including careless storage of a firearm, unauthorized possession of a firearm and possession of a restricted or prohibited firearm.
With files from Alina Bykova
Police seize 42 kilograms of deadly opioid carfentanil from Pickering home
About 30 minutes after publishing her final blog post Monday, Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed in a powerful bomb blast that tossed her car off the road.
Her work was instrumental in cracking open the island nation’s connections to the Panama Papers document leak.
Caruana Galizia, 53, described by Politico as a “one-woman WikiLeaks,” had just driven away from her home in Mosta outside Malta’s capital, Valletta, when the bomb exploded, sending wreckage spiralling over a wall and into a field.
The Guardian reported the blast was close enough to her home that one of Caruana Galizia’s sons heard the explosion.
Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who described the slain journalist as “one of my harshest critics, on a political and personal level,” said her death resulted from a “barbaric attack” that also assaulted freedom of expression. He denounced the attack as “unacceptable” violence.
Muscat said he has asked the U.S. government and the FBI for help investigating the car bombing.
Malta Today reported that opposition leader Adrian Delia called the incident “political murder,” hanging blame on Muscat in Parliament on Monday night.
In Caruana Galizia’s last entry, posted at 2:35 p.m., she called Muscat’s chief of staff, Keith Schembri, a “crook,” asserting that he, with the help of others, established a clandestine operation in Panama to store money to insulate it from taxation, then searched for “shady” arrangements in other countries for the same ends. The piece was centred on a libel claim the prime minister’s chief of staff had brought against a former opposition politician over comments the latter made about corruption.
“There are crooks everywhere you look now,” she wrote. “The situation is desperate.”
Caruana Galizia presumably feared for her safety: two weeks ago she filed a police report, notifying them that she was receiving threats.
Caruana Galizia was named by Politico as among the 28 Europeans who are “shaping, shaking and stirring” Europe. She had exposed that Muscat’s wife, Michelle, as well as Muscat’s energy minister and the government’s chief of staff, held companies in Panama. Muscat and his wife deny any wrongdoing.
Caruana Galizia has racked up libel suits through her popular website, Running Commentary. Opposition leader Delia sued her over a series of stories linking him to a prostitution racket in London. Economy Minister Christian Cardona claimed libel when Caruana Galizia wrote that he visited a brothel while in Germany on government business.
Caruana Galizia often castigated the prime minister and his aides in her work. In a post dated Aug. 25, she takes aim at a photograph of him and his wife, sarcastically relating life under his leadership as one set in a crime novel.
Another calls into question Muscat’s use of what appears to be an unofficial email server. Commentary on an anti-laundering bill reading in Parliament ends with Caruana Galizia rhetorically asking, “Are we supposed to laugh, or what?”
Caruana Galizia is survived by her husband and three sons. One son, Matthew, was on the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists team that won the Pulitzer Prize for its work on the Panama Papers scandal.
Writers, politicians, news organizations and others extended their condolences to the controversial figure known for her dogged reporting and rabble rousing.
The World Editors Forum and the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers weighed in on the incident, too, denouncing the violence.
“We condemn this shocking attack, which targeted not just one of our bravest and brightest but also our very mission as truth seekers,” said David Callaway, president of the World Editors Forum.
Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, chimed in on Twitter, offering a reward of about $30,000 to secure more details pertaining to the attack.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which co-ordinated reporting on the Panama Papers with journalists around the world, said in a statement it is shocked by Caruana Galizia’s death.
“ICIJ condemns violence against journalists and is deeply concerned about freedom of the press in Malta,” the statement read. “ICIJ calls upon the Maltese authorities to investigate the murder and bring the perpetrators to justice.”
The Panama Papers project, which involved the collaboration of 100 media outlets, including the Star, won a Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting this spring. The team of journalists from 80 countries poured over 11.5 million leaked files amassed from Mossack Fonseca — the law firm at the pit of the international white-collar crime scandal specializing in the development of offshore agencies.
The stories exposed more than 140 politicians from more than 50 countries with alleged connections to the tax havens, including 14 current or former world leaders, according to a statement by the consortium of journalists, released this spring. The Star published more than 50 exclusive stories; Star reporters Robert Cribb, Marco Chown Oved and Tanya Talaga contributed.
In June, Muscat was sworn in for a second term following snap elections he called to reinforce his government, as the Panama Papers’ leak indicated his wife owned an offshore company, which she denies.
Caruana Galizia’s family has asked the courts of Malta to replace the magistrate assigned to conduct the inquiry into the journalist’s death.
The family said the magistrate, Consuelo Scerri Herrera, “in her personal capacity, had launched judicial procedures against (Caruana Galizia) regarding comments she had written.”
Caruana Galizia for many years was a harsh critic of Malta’s Labor party and government. More recently she had expanded her criticism to include the opposition Nationalist Party.
Her slaying drew swift denunciations in the tiny EU nation.
“Daphne played a vitally important role in unearthing serious allegations of money laundering and corruption in Malta, including those involving senior figures in the Maltese government,” said Sven Giegold, a Greens member in the European Parliament.
Italian newsweekly L’Espresso, which has also written about alleged corruption linked to Malta, said the reporter’s murder demonstrated that a well-documented expose “is perceived as a danger by the powerful and by organized crime.”
European Parliament President Antonio Tajani in a tweet called the development a “tragic example of a journalist who sacrificed her life to search for the truth.”
With files from The Associated Press
Investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia filed her final blog post criticizing Maltese government officials. Thirty minutes later she was dead
A Liberal MPP is putting her foot down with a new private members bill banning employers from forcing workers to wear high heels on the job.
The proposed legislation follows a move earlier this year in British Columbia, where, for health and safety reasons, heels can’t be a mandatory part of any uniform.
Toronto MPP Cristina Martins (Davenport) will formally announce her “Putting Your Best Foot Forward Act” on Tuesday, which will make changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act and “prohibit employers from requiring an employee to wear footwear that is not appropriate to the protection required for their work.
“As the law currently stands, footwear protections … deal with confined spaces, construction projects, health care, residential facilities, industrial establishments, mines and mining plants which ensure workers who may be susceptible to specific hazards or foot injury in these workplaces are protected by these regulations,” said a release from Martins’ office.
“There is also a general duty for employers … to take every precaution reasonable for the protection of a worker. The Putting Your Best Foot Forward Act 2017 would further enhance these protections for workers” and “specifically include protection for all workers … from being required to wear unsafe footwear as part of dress and uniform codes.”
Martins’ bill already has the support of Ontario’s foot doctors, who say they see all kinds of injuries “caused by wearing footwear that is inappropriate or outright unsafe.
“Clinical evidence demonstrates that wearing high heeled shoes causes a much higher incidence of bunions, musculoskeletal pain and injury than those who do not wear high heels,” said James Hill, president of the Ontario Podiatric Medical Association.
“Podiatrists treat foot pain and deformities in women twice as often as foot disabilities in men, often due to having to wear high heels in their workplaces,” he said in a written release.
In the United Kingdom, a bill was introduced — though later rejected — after a woman was sent home without pay after showing up to work in flats.
And last year, the Ontario Human Rights Commission issued a report on gender-specific dress codes, saying women should not be forced to wear skimpy or tight uniforms and high heels, and noted the demand is typical for servers in bars and restaurants.
Ontario employers won’t be able to make workers wear high heels if proposed bill passes
Ontario colleges are bracing for a “fairly protracted strike” after 12,000 faculty hit the picket lines Monday despite last-ditch proposals that still saw the two sides far apart on key issues.
At Queen’s Park, the post-secondary minister and opposition MPPs were urging the two sides to get back to the table so that about 300,000 students can get back to class.
“Of course we want both sides to get back to the table,” said Deb Matthews, minister of advanced education and skills development, at the legislature. “We want students back in the classroom as quickly as possible … I wish, of course, that both sides will get back and resolve this dispute.”
Speaking to reporters after Question Period, Matthews said it is too early to speculate on when or if the government would consider back-to-work legislation.
“We have to let the collective bargaining process work and give it the space to do that,” she said. “But it’s very important for students that they do get back to the table and find a resolution and get students back in the classroom.”
For students, the job action has already been “absolutely confusing … what the strike means to students varies from one campus to another and depends on the program, said Joel Willett, president of the College Student Alliance.
In general, academic programming, apprenticeship training, part-time studies courses and seminars are cancelled while co-op, online learning and internships — which don’t involve college faculty in the day-to-day activities of students — continue to operate.
But “some things that may work at Humber aren’t the same with what’s going on at Conestoga,” said Willett. “It makes it very confusing when students look to the media and social media for information. Our big message is pay attention to what’s happening on your campus.”
He said the lack of reliable information about the strike being shared with students is causing a lot of anxiety.
“It’s very frustrating for any student, no matter what program you’re in, to be able to navigate it all.”
Faculty members — including full-time professors, instructors who teach anywhere from seven to 12 hours a week, counsellors and librarians — walked off the job first thing Monday, after the bargaining team for the province’s 24 public colleges rejected the union’s final offer.
The Ontario Public Service Employees Union wants half of faculty to be full-time, is looking for increased job security for part-timers as well as more academic freedom. It had dropped demands for university-style “senates” at colleges to give teachers a bigger say.
“We have been seeing incredible shows of solidarity of support from the public, from parents, from students for it because our issues are really about quality and fairness within the college system. This isn’t a wages and benefits round,” said JP Hornick, a professor at George Brown who heads the union’s college bargaining team.
The colleges have proposed improvements to benefits as well as a 7.75 per cent wage boost over four years. The union is seeking 9 per cent over three.
Don Sinclair, CEO of the College Employer Council — which bargains on behalf of the colleges — said no student has ever lost a school year because of a strike.
“Our settlement offer is good or better than what’s been accepted” by other public sector unions, he said, adding he “doesn’t get it, why they pulled the plug … It’s one thing to take a union out when the employer is demanding concessions. That is not the case. They are actually demanding changes to the way college operate and that’s just not on.”
He said the colleges can’t promise a 50-50 staffing ratio — bringing the number of full-time staff up to half — because it’s too rigid amid declining demographics, and too costly. Sinclair said the union’s demands come with a $250 million price tag.
Depending on how it’s calculated, full-time faculty represent about one-third of all teachers strictly by head count, and by teaching hours they represent half.
Sinclair also said partial-load instructors have job security once they have been teaching for a certain amount of time.
A Change.org petition for college student fee refunds in light of the strike has reached about 45,000 signatures.Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown said the college system is in need of “provincial leadership, so we have students in the classroom.”
“ … I know that one day of a strike is too long. The government can just ignore this and allow it to go on, but I want, and what I’m pushing for, is that we get a commitment that the premier is going to take this seriously and the premier is going to do everything she can to get both sides back to the table and get students back in class.”
NDP education critic Peggy Sattler said “faculty want fairness and students want opportunities to learn. What is this Liberal government doing to get both faculty and students back into classrooms, while making sure that students are not forced to carry an increased financial burden because of the strike?”
Willett says a lot of people are at college for second careers or to boost employability.
“If students are indeed a priority, then missing out on critical work experience is not helping them any further on finding that career.”
With files from Andrea Gordon, Vjosa Isai, Alexandra Jones and Bryann Aguilar
Ontario colleges preparing for a long strike
North Korea’s deputy U.N. ambassador warned Monday that the situation on the Korean Peninsula “has reached the touch-and-go point and a nuclear war may break out any moment.”
Kim In Ryong told the U.N. General Assembly’s disarmament committee that North Korea is the only country in the world that has been subjected to “such an extreme and direct nuclear threat” from the United States since the 1970s — and said the country has the right to possess nuclear weapons in self-defence.
He pointed to large-scale military exercises every year using “nuclear assets” and said what is more dangerous is what he called a U.S. plan to stage a “secret operation aimed at the removal of our supreme leadership.”
This year, Kim said, North Korea completed its “state nuclear force and thus became the full-fledged nuclear power which possesses the delivery means of various ranges, including the atomic bomb, H-bomb and intercontinental ballistic rockets.”
“The entire U.S. mainland is within our firing range and if the U.S. dares to invade our sacred territory even an inch it will not escape our severe punishment in any part of the globe,” he warned.
Kim’s speech follows escalating threats between North Korea and the United States, and increasingly tough U.N. sanctions.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday that his country is curtailing economic, scientific and other ties with North Korea in line with U.N. sanctions, and the European Union announced new sanctions on Pyongyang for developing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday that diplomatic efforts aimed at resolving the North Korean crisis “will continue until the first bomb drops.” His commitment to diplomacy came despite U.S. President Donald Trump’s tweets several weeks ago that his chief envoy was “wasting his time” trying to negotiate with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, whom he derisively referred to as “Little Rocket Man.”
North Korea’s deputy U.N. ambassador called his country’s nuclear and missile arsenal “a precious strategic asset that cannot be reversed or bartered for anything.”
“Unless the hostile policy and the nuclear threat of the U.S. is thoroughly eradicated, we will never put our nuclear weapons and ballistic rockets on the negotiating table under any circumstances,” Kim said.
He told the disarmament committee that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea — North Korea’s official name — had hoped for a nuclear-free world.
Instead, Kim said, all nuclear states are accelerating the modernization of their weapons and “reviving a nuclear arms race reminiscent of (the) Cold War era.” He noted that the nuclear weapon states, including the United States, boycotted negotiations for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons that was approved in July by 122 countries at the United Nations.
“The DPRK consistently supports the total elimination of nuclear weapons and the efforts for denuclearization of the entire world,” he said. But as long as the United States rejects the treaty and “constantly threatens and blackmails the DPRK with nuclear weapons ... the DPRK is not in position to accede to the treaty.”
‘A nuclear war may break out any moment,’ North Korea says
Most celebrities know when to keep their mouths shut.
Woody Allen does not. This weekend, amid the swirling horrors of the unfolding Harvey Weinstein scandal, the bespectacled director unwisely opened his maw.
“The whole Harvey Weinstein thing is very sad for everybody involved,” Allen told the BBC. “Tragic for the poor women that were involved, sad for Harvey that (his) life is so messed up. There’s no winners in that, it’s just very, very sad and tragic for those poor women that had to go through that.”
His sympathy for the victims is clear. But the bundled hint of sympathy for Weinstein was a real head-scratcher. It triggered instant blowback. Rose McGowan, who alleges Weinstein raped her — there are now more than 30 women who say the movie producer sexually assaulted or harassed them — called Allen a “vile little worm.”
That was one of the kinder testimonials tossed his way.
Under siege from all sides, Allen then clarified his comments.
“When I said I felt sad for Harvey Weinstein I thought it was clear the meaning was because he is a sad, sick man,” Allen said, in a statement to Variety that only underscored just how unclear he was on the first attempt. “I was surprised it was treated differently. Lest there be any ambiguity, this statement clarifies my intention and feelings.”
Does it? I’m not so sure.
In that original BBC interview, Allen also lamented the possibility, post-Weinstein, of a “witch-hunt atmosphere,” one that might mean “every guy in an office who winks at a woman is suddenly having to call a lawyer to defend himself.”
As he concludes: “That’s not right either.”
And with that, Allen is dead wrong.
I’m generally against witch hunts, but only when a witch hunt entails wrongful persecution. When my wife wrongly accuses me of leaving dirty laundry outside the hamper, this is most definitely a witch hunt.
But on the matter of sexual harassment, we are long overdue for a witch hunt. In fact, we can’t have enough witch hunts. As Weinstein just proved, the lack of good witch hunts in the culture only helps to create newer and scarier monsters.
One of the more exhausting parts of the dialogue we keep having after these outrages rattle sensibilities is the bleak realization that too many people still don’t grasp the systemic depths of the problem.
When someone as depraved and reprehensible as Weinstein rears his ugly head in the news cycle, there is a tendency to completely miss the soft underbelly of the issue. We fixate on the extreme and ignore the banal.
Yes, of course a workplace wink is benign compared to what Weinstein is accused of doing. But here’s the thing: what he was doing, in his demented mind, was no different from winking.
It was just more extreme to everyone else.
Exposing himself, asking actresses to watch him shower, begging for naked massages, stripping down and masturbating while preventing terrified women from escaping — all of this was his deranged way of winking.
But in Allen’s outdated worldview, a wink in the office is an innocent flirtation, maybe even a compliment. He does not see the connective tissue between the wink and the hurt. A wink, to him, is an innocuous volley in the first stage of courtship, real or imagined.
A wink says “I’m interested,” and what could possibly be wrong with that?
The problem is situational context. An office is not a pickup bar. In a workplace, if a wink is perceived as an unwanted sexual overture, you can’t just say “buzz off” or douse the winker with a glass of water if the winking persists or morphs into something else.
You are stuck with one another and there is only one outcome: that wink becomes toxic. The ephemeral blink creates an indelible violation.
And the notion that a “woman in the office” is there to, you know, do her job and not fend off the romantic entreaties of male colleagues is precisely the starting point that leads to Weinstein-grade revulsions. It’s the start of every slippery slope.
First, it’s an unwanted wink. Then it’s unwanted sexual innuendo. Then it’s unwanted dinner invitations. Then it’s unwanted offers for shoulder rubs. Then instead of just working, the woman is forced to juggle her professional responsibilities with the exhausting and wholly unfair personal distraction of having to find ways to rebuff a male colleague.
Then she must deal with the awkward feelings that inevitably result, which only adds new poisons to her work life.
Sometimes a wink is no big deal. Sometimes the feeling is mutual. I’m sure there are people out there who’ve been happily married for 50 years in relationships that started with a wink. But in a workplace, if that wink is unwanted, it can make someone feel uneasy, maybe even threatened.
The solution is clear: don’t wink at your colleagues.
You’d think Allen, who has faced accusations of sexual abuse in his own life, would understand this distinction or at least have the good sense to take a vow of silence.
His insights are not helping anyone.
Actually, Woody Allen, a witch hunt is exactly what Hollywood needs: Menon
OTTAWA—As the crow flies — or in this instance a government jet backed up by a string of chauffeur-driven vehicles — it is doable to travel from Parliament Hill to the town of Stouffville, northeast of Toronto, in about 90 minutes.
A person using more conventional means of transportation on the other hand would take at least double that time. In either case, the travel there and back will use up most of a normal day’s work.
If that sounds like a long way for the prime minister and a gaggle of ministers to travel as they did Monday — and with Parliament sitting — just to use the backdrop of a family-run restaurant to announce a reduction in the small business tax rate, it’s because it is.
A charitable explanation would be that it may have been hard, in the midst of the small-business backlash that has attended Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s plans to change some of the rules that govern private corporations, to find a friendly venue for the announcement.
A less charitable take would be that Stouffville has the not-insignificant advantage — given the pummelling the finance minister had endured at the hands of the Conservative opposition in the House — to be so located as to make it logistically difficult to be back in time for question period.
Be that as it may, it is to Stouffville that Trudeau, Morneau, Small Business and Tourism Minister Bardish Chagger, who happens to double up as the government House leader, and her Indigenous Services colleague Jane Philpott, who happens to be the MP for the area, repaired Monday to eat some pasta and then some crow.
For, were it not for the headwind that the government has faced over its fiscal reform, chances are Canada’s small businesses would not have received an unexpected mid-mandate gift from the federal government.
Notwithstanding some breathtakingly brazen prime ministerial talking points, Monday’s announcement was first and foremost testimony to the force of that wind and to the communication weaknesses of the reform’s chief salesperson, the minister of finance.
That’s because the fix Trudeau is relying on to try to take back the initiative in the fiscal reform debate is straight out of the ever-expanding scrapyard of broken Liberal promises.
In 2015, the Liberals committed to maintaining the small business tax rate on the downward course the outgoing Conservatives had set it on in their pre-election budget. Under the plan Morneau inherited when the Liberals took power, the rate was already scheduled to be down to 9 per cent by 2019.
But once in government he curtailed the rate cut. It neither reappeared in last spring’s second instalment nor in any of the projected spending laid out at the time.
Instead, the last budget signalled the government’s intention to move on private corporations, a plan Morneau has attempted to execute since late July.
This is a government that treats the business of well-calibrated optics like an art form.
In the lead-up to its last budget, Trudeau’s office even got involved in a discussion over whether the model posing as a boy on a bridge on the document’s cover should be wearing eyeglasses.
Had the government been contemplating an imminent return to the downward path charted out by the Conservatives for the small-business tax rate, surely Morneau’s controversial fiscal changes to private corporations would have been coupled with that announcement.
What government would not choose to sugar-coat its intentions to reduce the tax benefits of some by offering a break to many others?
Will Monday’s intervention combined with a weeklong climbdown from some of the more contentious aspects of the planned changes to the private corporations rules appease the biggest public relations storm this government has endured to date? Possibly, but it remains to be seen whether Morneau himself will find his way out of the hole he has dug himself into.
If the goal of Monday’s Stouffville theatrics was to reinforce the minister’s credibility, it missed the mark.
This is the kind of sectorial announcement that would normally be part of a budget, a fiscal update or a ministerial speech to a business venue. In any of those scenarios, the finance minister would have the lead role.
But in Stouffville, Morneau was relegated to a cameo role. And even the small role was apparently not silent enough for the prime minister. As if he was doing the world, or possibly his government, a favour, Trudeau twice insisted on answering media questions directed at his minister before begrudgingly letting him come to the microphone.
This comedy of errors might yet end on a political tragedy for the government.
Chantal Hébert is a national affairs writer. Her column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
Trudeau and Morneau’s efforts to sugar-coat tax reforms turns into comedy of errors: Hébert
Former Canadian hostage Joshua Boyle said Monday he and his wife decided to have children even while held captive because they always planned to have a big family and decided, “Hey, let’s make the best of this and at least go home with a larger start on our dream family.”
Boyle, his American wife, Caitlan Coleman, and their three childrenwere rescued in Pakistan Wednesday, five years after the couple was abducted in Afghanistan on a backpacking trip. The children were born in captivity.
“We’re sitting as hostages with a lot of time on our hands,” Boyle told The Associated Press in an email Monday. “We always wanted as many as possible, and we didn’t want to waste time. Cait’s in her 30s, the clock is ticking.”
Boyle said the kids are now 4, 2 and “somewhere around 6 months.”
“Honestly we’ve always planned to have a family of 5, 10, 12 children . . . We’re Irish, haha,” he wrote.
Coleman was pregnant at the time of their abduction and had the children while she was a hostage.
After landing at Toronto’s airport on Friday, Boyle said the Taliban-linked Haqqani network in Afghanistan killed their infant daughter and raped his wife during the years they were held.
In the email exchange, Boyle did not respond to a question about the fourth child. The Taliban said in a statement on Sunday that it was a miscarriage.
Boyle has said conditions during the five-year ordeal changed over time as the family was shuffled among at least three prisons. He has described the first as remarkably barbaric, the second as more comfortable and the third as a place of violence in which he and his wife were frequently separated and beaten.
After returning to his parents’ home in Smiths Falls, Ont., Boyle emailed the AP a statement saying they had “reached the first true ‘home’ that the children have ever known — after they spent most of Friday asking if each subsequent airport was our new house hopefully.”
He also emailed two photos of his son Najaeshi Jonah Makepeace Boyle and said the boy began “raiding the first refrigerator of his life.” The picture shows the boy sitting on the floor in a dark corner with food in his hand. The other shows him napping with a blanket covering part of his face and surrounded by stuffed animals.
Boyle later played with one of his sons in the garden of his parents’ home. The boy appeared happy and healthy, digging in the grass as his father showed off the different plants and later spoke on a cellphone.
Boyle, a former call centre worker, said in an earlier statement that he had gone to Afghanistan with his pregnant wife to help villagers “who live deep inside Taliban-controlled Afghanistan where no NGO, no aid worker and no government has ever successfully been able to bring the necessary help.”
Boyle was once briefly married to Zaynab Khadr, the older sister of Canadian Omar Khadr, a former Guantanamo Bay detainee. Officials had discounted any link between that background and Boyle’s capture, with one describing it in 2014 as a “horrible coincidence.”
‘Let’s make the best of this’: Ex-hostage Joshua Boyle explains why he and his wife had kids in captivity
It was a bone collector’s bonanza.
A bunch of long bones and more scattered bits strewn about.
Michael Paquet took them home because that’s what he does, strange as the hobby might seem to most of us.
And, got to say, Paquet — with his long mournful face, the shaved scalp and sprout of dreadlocks — looks like someone who might sleep in a coffin.
A week later he returned to the area, in the Junction. “It’s pretty fruitful for finding dead things,” he said on Monday from the witness stand.
Mostly animal bones that Paquet harvests for his morbid collection — rodents and raccoons and birds.
Because there was an abattoir located nearby, he assumed the long bones came from slaughtered livestock.
But second time around, Paquet noticed a plastic bag resting against a tree in the woodsy section along Lavender Creek Trail.
“There were bones sticking out of it, part of a skull, ribs.”
Clearly human remains.
Collecting the haul, Paquet moseyed home, dropping the skull on the way; stuffing the detached mandible into his backpack.
The jaw he took into his bedroom, setting it down near the taxidermied cat, the giant ceramic vulture and the mounted . . . antelope heads? That’s what they look like, with their straight horns.
Only then did Paquet call police.
Never know what you’ll learn about the human species at a murder trial.
These bones, turned out, were the remains of Rigat Ghirmay.
Paquet found them on April 27, 2016 — three years after retired roofer Francis McNullen had discovered a duffel bag in the Black Creek Flood Control area, resting on a grassy knoll near the channel. “I kicked it. It didn’t move.”
The zipper was broken so he stuck a finger inside and practically reeled away from “the smell of death.” Maggots covered the plastic bag inside the plastic bag.
That was the partial torso of Rigat Ghirmay, her identity determined by following the clue from a receipt also found in the bag.
Police believe 28-year-old Ghirmay was killed on May 15, 2013, murdered and dismembered in her apartment tub.
And that was seven months after another woman — Nighisti Semret — was viciously stabbed to death in Cabbagetown, as she walked home in the early morning rain from her night job as a hotel cleaner.
Semret and Ghirmay knew each other. Both had resided for a time at Sojourn House, a shelter for refugees. Both were immigrants from Eritrea.
And both had crossed paths with Adonay Zekarias, also Eritrean. Semret had helped him fill out documents; Ghirmay had attended English classes with him and, for a short time, they shared an apartment, apparently in a “brother-sister” relationship.
In June, 2015, Zekarias was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in the death of Semret, who’d fought hard for her life, as Zekarias wielded the knife, striking him with her umbrella. He fled the scene when a Good Samaritan attempted to intervene.
Zekarias, 45, is now on trial for the Ghirmay murder.
No motive for the Semret slaying has ever been determined. But the prosecution has a theory for why, months later, Ghirmay was killed: She knew too much. She had — the theory goes — begun to put together the pieces. She had to be silenced.
These are interconnections a jury might never have heard, the details severely prejudicial to Zekarias. But last week the defendant changed his mind and asked to proceed with a judge-alone trial, the Crown agreeing. So now, although Justice Michael Brown has yet to rule on a motion to exclude “discreditable conduct evidence” — including the murder conviction, the entire murder narrative flowing out of that — there are no jurors’ ears and eyes to protect, thus the evidence record can be reported.
One unforeseen consequence that jumps out from the prosecution theory, as outlined in the Crown’s factum, is that Ghirmay’s grotesque fate may have been sealed on the day that a Toronto homicide detective revealed crucial details about the suspect they were then seeking. Contrary to what police had earlier said, the person they were looking for was not white, according to DNA found on Semret, and it was likely the man had suffered slashing wounds to his arms or hand during the attack.
A $50,000 reward was offered.
At that time, Ghirmay was a poor woman, living in subsidized housing, with $500 credit in the bank.
That press conference was held on May 6, 2013 — nine days before Ghirmay was last seen alive on video surveillance, entering her apartment building with Zekarias.
She would leave, says the Crown, in pieces, stuffed into that duffel bag McNullen later discovered. Zekarias is seen, on surveillance video retrieved by investigators, leaving Ghirmay’s apartment on the morning of May 16, returning an hour later with what appears to be an empty suitcase, leaving again rolling the suitcase which now looks heavy and leaking.
He returns to the elevator minutes later to wipe away spots using a rag.
The Crown maintains that Zekarias killed and dismembered Ghirmay in the preceding 12 hours. Police found cutting marks in the tub.
Between Sermet’s murder and Ghirmay’s vanishing, the latter was often seen in company with Zekarias at both of their apartment buildings. With him by her side, she bought a TV for her new flat. They both obtained cellphones.
For a time — between December 9, 2012 and February 20, 2013, Zekarias was in Germany. Ghirmay went with him to buy the plane ticket. When he returned to Canada, police were still looking for a white man with a limp. And while away, as police would learn when they later seized his laptop — which both Zekarias and Ghirmay had used — he’d searched for stories about the Semret murder investigation.
Most crucial to the prosecution’s theory, there is this: On the morning Semret was killed, Oct. 23, 2012, Zekarias called 911 from his apartment on Humber Ave., claiming he’d injured his hand lifting something. Ghirmay was with him. She stayed with Zekarias as he was transported to hospital by paramedics. At the hospital, he told medical staff he’d been injured by a door slamming on both his hands. But staff was suspicious because he didn’t have “crushing” type injuries which would have resulted from such an incident. They presented like sharp force injuries, as if made by a knife. Zekarias was unwilling to provide further details. The following day he underwent surgery on both hands.
It didn’t add up for the medical team.
But it might have started adding up for Ghirmay, if not then — she didn’t yet know that Semret had been murdered — perhaps later.
Theoretically, all Ghirmay had to do after her suspicions were aroused, was make a call to police about a friend who came home with extensive wounds on his hands mere hours after their mutual friend had been killed.
And then, months later, police announced that enticing reward.
For a wary man who’d already killed once, that might have loomed as temptation too far.
Rosie DiManno usually appears Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
Prosecutors allege Toronto murder victim was silenced over previous killing: DiManno
WASHINGTON—U.S. President Donald Trump told a lie about predecessor Barack Obama.
Then something unusual happened. He took it back.
Only partly, only when challenged, and without an apology or admission. Nonetheless, Trump’s de facto retraction was a rare acknowledgment of his own inaccuracy.
Trump, holding an unscheduled press conference in the White House Rose Garden on Monday afternoon, was asked about his public silence on the killing of four Army Green Beret soldiers in Niger on Oct. 4.
Trump said he had written “personal letters” to the soldiers’ families, then that he would call the families “at some point.”
Then he falsely claimed Obama, unlike him, never made such calls.
“Now it gets to a point where you know, you make four of five of them in one day, it’s a very, very tough day. For me, that’s by far the toughest. So the traditional way — if you look at President Obama and other presidents — most of ’em didn’t make calls, a lot of ’em didn’t make calls. I like to call when it’s appropriate, when I think I’m able to do it. They have made the ultimate sacrifice. So generally I would say that I like to call,” he said.
Obama regularly called the families of soldiers killed in action, former aides said, and he met with those “Gold Star families” whenever he visited a military base. One of the former aides, former deputy chief of staff Alyssa Mastromonaco, reacted to Trump’s smear with public anger.
“That’s a f---ing lie,” Mastromonaco wrote on Twitter. “To say president Obama (or past presidents) didn’t call the family members of soldiers KIA — he’s a deranged animal.”
By the Star’s count, Trump averages more than two false claims per day, and he has almost never been willing to retract any of them. This time, though, he was challenged to defend his claim by NBC reporter Peter Alexander.
He backed down immediately.
“I don’t know if he did,” Trump said. “I was told that he didn’t often, and a lot of presidents don’t.”
He continued: “President Obama, I think, probably did sometimes, and maybe sometimes he didn’t, I don’t know, that’s what I was told. All I can do is ask my generals.”
Trump also blamed unnamed advisors for a false claim Alexander challenged him on at a news conference in February. When Alexander pointed out that Trump had not, in fact, earned the biggest Electoral College margin of victory since Ronald Reagan, Trump said, “I was given that information.”
On Monday, Trump’s press secretary, Sarah Sanders, issued a statement claiming Trump was simply “stating a fact” that former presidents did not call the families each and every time a soldier died. Apparently to the former Obama aides, she said, “Individuals claiming former presidents, like their bosses, called each family of the fallen, are mistaken” — though the former aides had not said Obama called each and every time.
“President Obama spent time with families of the fallen throughout his presidency through letters, calls, visits to Section 60 (for soldiers killed in the War on Terror) at Arlington and regular meetings with Gold Star families,” former aide Tommy Vietor told the Star.
Trump’s comments on Obama came during a chaotic 45 minute press conference at which Trump was accompanied by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whom he has criticized repeatedly and whom his former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, has vowed to take down in favour of Republicans he sees as friendlier to Trump’s agenda.
“Despite what we read, we are probably now, I think, at least as far as I am concerned, we are closer than ever before and the relationship is very good,” Trump said of himself and McConnell. “We are fighting for the same thing, we are fighting for lower taxes, big tax cuts, the biggest tax cuts in the history of our nation. We are fighting for tax reform as part of that.”
In a show of support for McConnell and his caucus, Trump said he would try to talk Bannon out of running primary candidates against certain “great” Republican incumbents.
Trump again cast blame on Puerto Ricans for the ongoing Hurricane Maria crisis, claiming Puerto Ricans, not his government, are at fault for hunger and thirst on the island. Told that many Puerto Ricans still lack clean water — 28 per cent, according to the federal emergency agency — Trump said, “Well, we delivered tremendous amounts of water.”
“Then what you have to do is you have to have distribution of the water by people on the island,” he said.
Trump declined to condemn Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore for his desire to make homosexuality illegal. Trump said the people of Alabama like Moore.
Trump repeated a promise to reduce prescription drug prices. This time, he noted that Canada, among other countries, has much lower prices than the U.S.
Trump was asked for the first time to address the battles around Kirkuk between Iraqi forces and Iraqi Kurdish forces, both U.S. allies in the fight against Daesh, also known as ISIS and ISIL. He said: “We don’t like the fact that they’re clashing. We’re not taking sides.”
Trump again could not resist mocking Hillary Clinton. In a tweet earlier in the day, he had urged Clinton to run against him again in 2020.
“Hillary, please run again,” he said at the news conference.
Trump made a variety of other false claims, most of them repeats. Among other things, he said that the U.S. is “the highest-taxed country in the world” (it is below average for the developed world), that Puerto Rico’s power plants need to be rebuilt (they were barely damaged by Hurricane Maria), that China has a 15 per cent corporate tax rate (it is 25 per cent except for companies in advanced industries in certain cities).
Trump lied about Obama in another wild news conference. Then he did something unexpected: Analysis
Two years after Marcel Aubut’s resignation, Leanne Nicolle is speaking out publicly about her experience working for the former Canadian Olympic Committee president, who was accused of sexual harassment by multiple women.
Nicolle, the former executive director of the Canadian Olympic Foundation, filed a formal complaint against Aubut in 2015 and said he resigned seven days later.
“I was scared of him. I was alone,” she said in a CTV interview on Monday night. CTV reached out to Aubut for comment, but he declined.
Nicolle, who is now the president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto, told CTV that many people working under Aubut who knew what was going on were also being harassed, abused, and yelled at all the time.
“They were being harassed and they were being yelled at all the time and living in constant fear of reprisal,” she said. “The whole organization was based in fear.”
On Oct. 3, 2015, Marcel Aubut resigned as president of the COC and left the BCF law firm where he worked after he was accused of sexual harassment.
“Although I assume full responsibility for my effusive and demonstrative personality, I would like to reiterate that I never intended to offend or upset anyone with my remarks or my behaviour,” he said in the statement at the time.
“Unfortunately, the current situation is a major distraction that obscures the COC’s real goals, especially with the Rio Games fast approaching,” he said. “For these reasons, I announce today that I am stepping down as president of the Canadian Olympic Committee.”
Aubut lingered over hugs and kisses, called staff his girlfriends and made comments about women and their boyfriends and husbands, according to a former COC employee who spoke to the Star at the time but did not want her name used.
“People did warn him . . . ‘Marcel, you shouldn’t say that,’ or ‘That’s inappropriate,’ ” she said.
But that’s all they did, an independent review carried out after the scandal discovered.
Nicolle told the media this week that she documented his inappropriate and unsettling comments from the first days she started working with him in 2013.
“I did it on my phone in the notes page,” she said. “I started documenting where I was, who I was with.”
Her records proved “crucial in the end,” she wrote in the Globe and Mail on Saturday, when she finally decided to start a legal process against him.
After working under Aubut for several years, Nicolle said she felt broken by his behaviour and by the silence of other employees whom she said saw what was happening but looked the other way.
The alleged verbal abuse got particularly bad around the Sochi Olympic Games in 2014, but there was also an inappropriate “physical connection” involved, Nicolle said.
She wrote that she relied on medication to sleep and alcohol to get through the day, and was on the verge of quitting her job — but changed her mind after she told someone about her experience and he said he believed her.
Nicolle’s complaint led to an investigation in which more than 100 people came forward to share similar experiences.
The three-month review by employment lawyer Christine Thomlinson found the majority of staff interviewed had “experienced or witnessed harassment, both sexual and personal” during Aubut’s tenure.
Staff also believed “the board and the (senior leadership team) were aware of information that suggested harassment was occurring in their workplace and they were unable or unwilling to take steps to address it,” stated the report released in January 2016.
Aubut did not face criminal charges but apologized for his behaviour.
Before his dramatic fall from power, Aubut had effectively taken over the organization dedicated to supporting Canadian Olympic teams to the point it was often dubbed the “Marcel Show.”
He had been president for nearly six years and an active board member since 2005, and during his tenure, the COC transformed into a glitzy brand that attracted top corporate sponsors, held lavish events and doubled annual spending to more than $50 million.
His inappropriate behaviour toward women was simply treated as part of the Marcel package, former employees allege.
Nicolle said Aubut’s power and connections within the organization shattered her confidence, and said she didn’t speak up earlier because she didn’t know whether she’d be supported.
She decided to talk about her experience after two years of silence because of recent world events and because she feels more confident now.
For women caught in similar situations, Nicolle said she recommends gathering evidence and documenting it meticulously, telling someone trustworthy, and knowing your worth.
She said men who want to be part of the solution should be empathetic and believe victims, and shouldn’t be afraid to act.
With files from Kerry Gillespie
Woman whose complaint started Marcel Aubut sexual harassment scandal speaks out
MONTREAL—European aircraft giant Airbus Group is shaking up the global airline business by buying a majority stake in Bombardier’s CSeries program and assembling the plane in the U.S. to avoid import duties.
The two aircraft manufacturers announced the partnership Monday evening, weeks after the United States announced 300 per cent preliminary duties on exports of the aircraft following a complaint from Airbus rival Boeing.
The partnership is expected to result in significant CSeries production costs savings by leveraging Airbus’s global supply chain expertise, but the company won’t be paying any money for the acquired stake or absorb Bombardier’s large debt.
Airbus will acquire a 50.01 per cent interest in the CSeries Aircraft Limited Partnership, which manufactures and sells the plane in exchange for access to Airbus’s sales, logistics, procurement and support expertise.
Bombardier will own 31 per cent and the Quebec government’s investment agency will hold 19 per cent, down from 49.5 per cent when it invested US$1 billion in the program.
Airbus can buy out Bombardier after 7.5 years and the Quebec government in 2023.
Bombardier CEO Alain Bellemare said Airbus is the perfect partner.
“Combining the CSeries with Airbus’s global scale creates a remarkable business, and together we will take the CSeries program to new heights,” he said in a conference call.
He said the partnership should more than double the value of the CSeries program by accelerating sales momentum.
“It brings certainty to the future of the program so it increases the level of confidence that the aircraft is there to stay, which means that we will increase volume.”
The way the federal government sees it, the Airbus takeover gives the CSeries a real chance at not just surviving, but making it big, said a government source.
Although there will be debate over the “symbolism” of a Canadian product now being controlled by a European company, the alternatives were not promising, given Bombardier’s financial and trade challenges.
Airbus chief executive Tom Enders called the partnership a “win-win for everybody.”
“Our partnership will accelerate the commercial success and it will ensure that the program comes into a position to realize its full potential,” he said from Europe.
The company is taking out ads in Canadian newspapers on Tuesday that end with “Thank you Canada ... for welcoming us to our newest home.”
Enders said the partnership will secure industrial operations in Canada, Britain and China, and bring new jobs to the U.S.
Unlike when talks between the companies failed a few years ago, Enders said the CSeries is certified and recognized by customers as a great plane that can expand its narrow-body product line. He noted that Airbus hasn’t made an A319 the size of the CSeries for years.
With this deal, Canada would become Airbus’s fifth home country and first outside Europe.
The CSeries headquarters and main assembly line will remain in the Montreal area, but a second production line for the 100- to 150-seat plane will be set up at Airbus’s facility in Alabama to meet demand from U.S. customers and avoid duties.
Airbus has promised to maintain 100 per cent of those employed Mirabel, Que., and to keep production at the Mirabel plant, where production will be ramped up far beyond its current rate.
The union representing many Bombardier workers said it’s too early to celebrate even though Airbus’ stake could strengthen the CSeries.
“It is a sad day that a high-tech Canadian treasure is ending up in European control, but we can take some satisfaction that the CSeries is getting some needed stability,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.
“The attempt to weaken Bombardier has pushed it to join with one of its competitors, which should not have had needed to happen,” Dias said. “Ultimately, the U.S. actions have created a stronger Bombardier.”
Even though talks began in August, months after Boeing challenged government subsidies to Bombardier, Enders said the partnership wasn’t motivated by the trade dispute.
“It was motivated by the clear recognition that the stars were kind of all aligned this time,” he said.
Bellemare added the companies aren’t circumventing anything by joining forces. He added that Delta Air Lines is prepared to wait for delivery of its planes to avoid duties.
“When you produce an aircraft in the U.S. it is not subject to any import duties under the current U.S. rules.”
Even though some assembly work will be done in the United States, Bellemare believes more jobs will be created in Quebec because Airbus will help to augment sales.
The big losers are Boeing and Brazil’s Embraer, said industry analyst Chris Murray of AltaCorp Capital.
“Certainly this makes a much, much stronger program and certainly more competitive against anything Boeing would want to offer,” he said.
Boeing described the partnership as a “questionable deal between two heavily state-subsidized competitors to skirt the recent findings of the U.S. government.”
“Our position remains that everyone should play by the same rules for free and fair trade to work,” spokesman Dan Curran said in a statement.
Quebec economy, science and innovation Minister Dominique Anglade said the strategic partnership will ensure the sustainability of the CSeries and consolidate Quebec’s aerospace cluster.
“In the current context, the partnership with Airbus is, for us, the best solution to ensure the maintenance and creation of jobs in this strategic sector of the Quebec economy,” she stated in a news release.
Federal Minister Navdeep Bains said the government will review the deal under the Investment Canada Act due to the significant proposed investments in Canada by non-Canadians.
“On the surface, Bombardier’s new proposed partnership with Airbus on this aircraft would help position the CSeries for success by combining excellence in innovation with increased market access and an unrivalled global salesforce,” he stated in a separate news release.
European giant Airbus to buy majority stake in Bombardier’s CSeries program