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    She moves. She menstruates.

    Or she doesn’t move, not as a cognitive motion, a message sent from her brain — despite dramatic video that shows Taquisha McKitty bending her limbs, stretching her toes, rolling her head.

    Nearly a month after the Toronto area woman was declared legally dead.

    Read more:

    Judge grants two-week injunction that keeps Brampton woman on life support

    Brampton woman on life support doesn’t have ‘capacity to breathe,’ doctor tells court

    ‘She’s still alive’: Brampton family goes to court to keep daughter on life support

    And the blood, well that proves nothing.

    “I am aware that there was vaginal bleeding,” Dr. Andrew Healey told a hearing in Brampton Superior Court on Wednesday. “Nobody knows if that was menstrual.”

    Yet neither do they know, definitively, it wasn’t.

    Cadavers don’t bleed, do they?

    Yet Healey, when pressed on his answer to the menstrual questions, responded with palpable tetchiness. “What part of my sentence do you not understand?”

    If a month passes and she bleeds — menstruates again — would that be convincing? A month might not be granted to McKitty, depending on how a judge decides.

    But they — the doctors aligned against McKitty’s desperate family — would have us believe that their interpretation of “whole brain death” is correct. How could they possibly be wrong, those physicians, who signed off on a death certificate on Sept. 20?

    Several injunctions have been granted by the court since then, allowing the family to pursue their case, an interim ruling which has kept McKitty on a ventilator.

    The ventilator, argued Healey — critical care physician and division head at Brampton Civic Hospital — is keeping McKitty alive, or the illusion of alive.

    Her exhalation is a passive response to the air being pumped into her lungs, no different than a balloon flattening when the air is released, an analogy belittled by family lawyer Hugh Scher.

    “She’s breathing now,” said Scher.

    Henley: “No, she is not.

    “The ventilator is doing all the work of breathing and the expelling is a passive reaction,” Healey insisted under cross-examination.

    It’s a circular argument: She’s dead because we say so, because there’s no evidence of brain stem function. Evidence to the contrary is unscientific, but only because that is the definition that has been adopted in most jurisdictions.

    We are apparently not to believe what we can see with our own eyes — the distinct movements McKitty has been making and which have grown more compelling, the family maintains, as time passes, rather than diminishing. They are adamant that McKitty has responded to the stimulus of their voices, that in some way, out of the depths of her darkness, she is voluntarily making her aliveness known.

    Whole brain death, which equals the finality of death, is a legal definition constituting death in Ontario: The absence of clinical neurological function, “irreversible loss of the capacity for consciousness,” said Healey.

    More explicit and absolute than being in a persistent vegetative state, where a patient “would still have some capacity for consciousness.”

    It’s an anguishing state of disagreement, for the doctors who claim to have science on their side but far more so for the family, who have only their instincts and their emotions and their refusal to give up on a beloved daughter, sister, aunt, niece, mother.

    The doctors argue that McKitty’s movements are nothing more than a reflex and shouldn’t be mistaken for signs of life.

    As court has heard, nurses have not documented any of these persistent movements on McKitty’s medical file, though the phenomenon has been discussed with the family by nurses and other doctors who’ve been involved in McKitty’s treatment. Which, frankly, has been scarcely any treatment at all. The drugs which have been administered, her parents say, were intended from the outset to best preserve the woman’s organs for possible transplant. McKitty had signed an organ donor card. Doctors do not dispute that was the reason for giving McKitty L-thyroxine after she was declared dead.

    In essence, patients must be kept “alive” — blood and oxygen flowing to the organs, heart continuing to beat on a ventilator — for organs to be harvested.

    The family accuses the doctors of rushing to harvest, focusing on the organs rather than McKitty as a human being. That view was supported by a retired American doctor who was brought in by the family to testify on Tuesday.

    In most medical circles, Dr. Paul Bryne would be considered a heretic.

    “It’s not a simple reflex, it’s more than that,” said Byrne.

    No, countered Healey. It’s automatism — actions without conscious thought or intention — or spinal cord reflex, which are possible in brain-dead patients. But still, nearly a month later?

    Healey said he wasn’t aware of any “good science” which shows that spinal reflex “cannot happen” after a significant period of time.

    McKitty was brought to hospital on Sept. 14, suffering from a drug overdose. Tests revealed she had a mixture of oxycodone, benzodiazepines, marijuana and cocaine in her system.

    And that, the family contends, influenced the decisions that were made, although no evidence has been produced to support the allegation. (Some of the social media commentary about the case has been appallingly merciless: Pull the plug on the druggie!)

    “Why not her?” McKitty’s father, Stanley Stewart, demanded outside court, pleading for treatment, for a second chance at life for his daughter. “Why not in this case? What’s so special about her that she doesn’t deserve treatment, that she doesn’t deserve all of the best efforts to give her the opportunity to live? Why, because she came in under a drug situation? Is that why? So her life is less valuable because of the circumstances?”

    A dozen family members were in court yesterday. The legal battle, which could run up to $200,000 in bills, is being supported by a GoFundMe campaign started by McKitty’s cousin.

    “It’s been hard from day one,” said Stewart. “It’s almost gotten a little bit harder to hear some of the evidence. A lot of the things we thought are now being actually exposed. The fact that she didn’t receive treatment, any intervention. The fact that some of the stuff they did after (the death certificate was issued) were towards her organs and not towards helping her. We felt that we knew it but now it’s on the record.”

    Stewart claimed that Healey hasn’t even seen his daughter in three weeks.

    He alleges attending physicians have been told not to document McKitty’s movements. “What are they scared of? They (doctors) know that we know the truth and the truth is that those are not reflex, automated reflexes. Those are actual movements that are stimulated by our voices, by our touch.

    “She’s not brain dead. She has brain injury.”

    Alyson McKitty says there are still too many questions about what happened to her daughter. “We feel like we need answers. We feel like this wasn’t done the right way. I don’t think there were enough tests done to be able to determine that she was already deceased. It was done too quickly.

    “Definitely she’s moving her entire body. She’s moving her head, she’s moving her arms, she’s moving her legs, her feet, everything.”

    The family wants the death certificate revoked and a 72-hour video recording made of the patient, a request which would apparently violate the hospital’s patient privacy guidelines and institutional policy.

    The family comes to the medical establishment with their heart in their hands.

    The medical establishment responds with bureaucracy.

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


    Brampton woman on life support is moving, is bleeding, but is dead, doctors say. Her family fights on: DiMannoBrampton woman on life support is moving, is bleeding, but is dead, doctors say. Her family fights on: DiManno

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    This week the Toronto Sun published an article sponsored by our city’s most visible cab company, Beck Taxi. The piece is a predictably fluffy ode to the 50-year-old orange and green cab service, specifically to its renewed commitment to customer service and its development in 2012 of “Canada’s first taxi ordering app.” The article also predictably includes what is presumably a not-so-veiled dig at the popular and controversial ride-hailing service, Uber. In the words of Beck operations manager Kristine Hubbard, who is quoted throughout the piece, “We see ourselves as a company made up of people using technology. Not technology using people.”

    This appears to be the go-to PR tactic of cab companies trying to survive in the age of ride-hailing services: they throw shade at the likes of Uber and Lyft, while at the same time trying to keep up with them. In August, Hubbard told Flare magazine that Uber’s presence was a “wake-up call” because it inspired Beck to improve its customer service with cleaner vehicles and courteous drivers. Diamond taxi, another Toronto cab staple, offers passengers an Uber-like app through which they can rate their rides. And recently, a cab driver in the city offered me a bottle of water.

    Read more:

    The biggest winners and the biggest losers in Toronto’s Uber battle

    All of this makes perfect sense. It’s entirely reasonable that cab companies are trying to adapt to a new urban travel climate in which many passengers are accustomed to getting free beverages and breath mints every time they climb into an Uber. But it’s my belief that in an effort to compete with Uber, traditional cab companies are selling themselves short. Despite all their griping about the new ride-hailing order, cab companies continually neglect to mention that they offer something that Uber, in my mind, cannot: a fleet of drivers who actually know instinctively where they are going.

    I was an Uber addict until I realized that if I needed to get somewhere on time in a pinch, the service failed me. Drivers, in my experience, are kind and courteous and they always have snacks on hand. But because many of them are new to professional driving and unfamiliar with the downtown core, they are sorely lacking a sense of direction.

    Cabbies, on the other hand, have a deep knowledge of the city’s roads and an almost innate ability to problem solve when traffic or construction interrupts a standard route. This knowledge is not based on GPS or Waze; it is based on experience.

    And when you are trying to get somewhere fast, experience matters. Yes, Uber drivers have access to navigation technology, but when that technology has a glitch or recalibrates, precious time is lost driving around in circles.

    For many cab drivers, their work is a vocation, not a last resort or a way to make a few bucks on the side until a different opportunity emerges. Not long ago, I was running late for a meeting across town that I had intended to walk to. I hopped in a cab and explained my situation. The driver said, “I can get you there in 10 minutes without speeding.” And he did, via a series of alleyways, side streets and short turns only a veteran would know and, most importantly, only a veteran would know how to navigate confidently and quickly.

    And yet cab companies rarely appear to market this veterans’ knowledge, choosing instead to fearmonger about the danger of getting into an Uber. This tactic doesn’t work. Torontonians are not afraid of Uber. But we are afraid of being late. The cabbie motto, therefore, shouldn’t be “Arrive alive.” It should be “Arrive on time.” Or “Arrive in silence.”

    Another cab-specific perk hardly ever mentioned? In addition to knowing where they are going, cab drivers are often aloof. They are content to give one-word answers and listen to talk radio without so much as making eye contact with the person in the back seat.

    I’ve noticed a tendency among Uber evangelists to frame this aloofness in a negative light. “Uber drivers are so much friendlier than cabbies,” they say. And it’s true, they usually are. I have been asked by at least four Uber drivers what my Instagram handle is. One even told me that he began driving with Uber not only to make some extra money, “but to meet people.” That’s nice for him, but for a woman travelling alone, this kind of forwardness isn’t cute; it’s annoying and creepy. I do not get into cars with strangers to meet people. I get into cars with strangers to go places. Therefore, I have come to appreciate the cab driver-passenger relationship, which can be boiled down to a series of “turn here’s” and affirmative grunts.

    Cab companies, take note: you should talk up what you’re actually good at, not what you wish you were good at. Because there are probably thousands of people in this city who would trade all the free bottled water in the world to quietly whip across town.

    Emma Teitel is a national affairs columnist.


    Why I like taxis better than Uber: TeitelWhy I like taxis better than Uber: Teitel

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    Six reasons for optimism as the Raptors prepare to open the NBA regular season:

    Consistency

    There’s something to be said for having groups of players who are familiar with each other. Not only can they figure things out as a group during games, but they have the ability to get on each other away from the games to draw out the best in each other. Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas have been together for six seasons, which gives them a leg up on much of the competition.

    All-star back-court

    There’s always going to be legitimate debate about which back-court combination is the best in the league, in the conference and even in the division. But no matter what style of offence they are asked to play or what their defensive assignments are, there’s no denying that Lowry and DeRozan are legitimate NBA all-stars and have been for three seasons now.

    The schedule

    It’s absolute torture to start — a season-long, six-game road trip right off the bat, and another journey to the west coast before December is half finished — but once it turns, it turns well. The Raptors do not play a game outside of the Eastern time zone after Valentine’s Day. That’s 25 straight games with the longest flight being to Florida. The longest road trip is three games, and two of them — at the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks — don’t require even changing hotels.

    The East

    The Eastern Conference is certainly not as deep as the West, but it’s the only one the Raptors have to worry about winning. There seems to be a clear distinction between the top four teams — Cleveland, Toronto, Boston, Washington — and the rest, and that could be a huge factor when the post-season begins in six months or so.

    The memories

    It’s the “been there, done that” syndrome, and maybe it comes into play next May and June. Having tasted the Eastern Conference final once, knowing what it takes to beat the mighty Cavaliers in a game — maybe not a series, yet, but a game — could give the Raptors the post-season confidence to take one more giant step.

    Diversification

    The Raptors were much easier to guard in the cauldron of the playoffs with such a heavy reliance on the offensive skills of DeRozan and Lowry. If they can make alterations to turn more players into consistent scorers and contributors — and they’ve got the season to figure out how — it’ll help when needed most.


    Raptors season preview: Six reasons for hopeRaptors season preview: Six reasons for hope

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    Right until the end, Gord Downie never looked back.

    We already knew how this song was going to end. Still, when the news broke on Wednesday morning and the country gasped, the heartache we felt last year after learning about his terminal brain cancer came rushing back.

    And this time it won’t go away.

    Stolen from us at the age of 53, Downie is leaving when we need him most. Who will write the songs that cross generations and slice across geography? Who will be our poet laureate and history professor, our spirited raconteur and unflinching critic, our tour guide to the past and cultural voyager of the future?

    Even after the diagnosis of glioblastoma, an aggressive cancer that often leaves no margin of hope, Downie did not retreat to the shadows. There was no hint of self-pity. If anything, the frontman for the Tragically Hip shifted into overdrive as he led his beloved band on a final tour in 2016, filling stadiums and moistening eyes as the country started the grim ritual of mourning what we had not yet lost.

    Downie was dealt the cruellest of hands. And he doubled down on living.

    “Gord knew this day was coming,” his family said in a statement on Wednesday. “His response was to spend this precious time as he always had — making music, making memories and expressing deep gratitude to his family and friends for a life well lived, often sealing it with a kiss . . . on the lips.

    “Gord said he had lived many lives. As a musician, he lived ‘the life’ for over 30 years, lucky to do most of it with his high school buddies. At home, he worked just as tirelessly at being a good father, son, brother, husband and friend. No one worked harder on every part of their life than Gord. No one.”

    What’s amazing about these many lives, and the hard work he devoted to each, is the lack of compromise that defined them all. He was told the end is near and he somehow found new beginnings. In the darkness, he found ways to keep creating in the light, to keep on loving and, ultimately, keep on giving.

    We should all be blessed with such grace, drive and selfless resolve.

    It was like Downie had discovered a kink in the space-time continuum and was operating at full speed for 60 hours per day. It was like he was determined to keep serving as a unifying force while nudging Canada in the right direction.

    His new solo album, Introduce Yerself, comes out on Oct. 27. On Sunday, at 9 p.m., the CBC will air the broadcast premiere of Gord Downie’s Secret Path in Concert, which was filmed last fall at Roy Thomson Hall and is a project that “acknowledges a dark part of Canada’s history — the long-suppressed mistreatment of Indigenous children and families by the residential school system — with the hope of starting a national conversation and furthering reconciliation.”

    On the most primal level, the loss of Downie the Musician hurts because of what the Hip represented for more than three decades. This was a band that scored the sound track to thousands of lives as a generation came of age.

    Regardless of who you were and where you were growing up, the Hip was there when called upon. Their music filled our days and nights. And as if by sonic osmosis, all these years later, even non-fans can hum more Hip songs than they might suspect.

    This is why their best-known tracks — including “New Orleans is Sinking,” “Bobcaygeon,” “Blow at High Dough,” “Courage,” “Ahead by a Century,” “Fifty-Mission Cap,” “At the Hundredth Meridian” — can now feel more like nostalgia than music. That inimitable voice will forever be a gateway to the past.

    Downie’s songs are, in the end, our memories.

    But on an intellectual level, the loss of Downie the Conscience may prove to be the bigger forfeiture. Secret Path started as a collection of 10 poems inspired by the 1966 death of 12-year-old Chanie Wenjack, an Indigenous boy who succumbed to exposure after trying to escape on foot from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School to find his family.

    Downie has crusaded for reconciliation and, along the way, challenged Canada to do more. In the pantheon of popular music today, there is no natural heir apparent, at least not anyone who had the influence and power of Downie.

    His convictions flowed from ideas, and not the other way around.

    His sense of nationalism, often misunderstood, was rooted in equality.

    But at this time of mourning, when our grief feels like looping power-chords, let us just do what Downie never did, which is look back.

    Thank you, Gord, for the songs, the albums and the memories. Thank you for the cryptic lyrics and the madcap performances. Thank you for the crazy dancing and the vivid poetry. Thank you for always wanting to live in a better country and for always wanting that country to be Canada.

    vmenon@thestar.ca


    Gord Downie made us want to fix Canada: MenonGord Downie made us want to fix Canada: Menon

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    Roger Fowler has been fighting for 26 years for compensation for the cancer he says was caused by the many years he worked amid asbestos and chemicals at the General Electric plant in Peterborough.

    His hopes were raised earlier this year when the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board promised to take another look at some 250 previously rejected cases.

    Then, last Friday, Fowler received a call from the WSIB and was told that, yet again, his case wouldn’t be re-examined — because it has been denied in the past.

    “I was so upset I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat,” said the 71-year-old, bursting into tears several times while he spoke, adding he immediately reached out to his MPP but hasn’t heard back.

    “I don’t know where I’m at or what’s going on.”

    “It’s hell” for the hundreds of workers who believe they developed cancer and other illnesses from working at the plant, and whose claims for compensation were dismissed by the WSIB — often despite strong medical evidence — and who are left waiting for reconsideration of their cases, he added.

    Another 70-plus new cases are now also in limbo.

    Fowler, who has had a number of surgeries and now suffers from recurring hernias, was among a small group who came to Queen’s Park on Wednesday to urge the government to take action.

    The labour ministry had promised $2 million in funding for a special, locally based team to help and support workers to build their claims, which they were later told was going to be cut to $1 million. In any event, the money still hasn’t materialized.

    “We are here to demand the government quit breaking its promises,” said NDP MPP Cindy Forster (Welland), her party’s labour critic. “It has made a number of promises to this group of workers, their families and their widows this year. Since March, they have been promised that cases were going to be reviewed and that there was going to be funding” available to help prepare them.

    A 2016 Star investigation uncovered the “lethal legacy” of the plant. Then, earlier this year, a study by Unifor, the employees’ union, found that conditions in the GE plant contributed to an “epidemic” of workplace illnesses for those who were employed between 1945 and 2000.

    The Peterborough employees, the report found, were exposed to thousands of toxic substances— about 40 of them believed to cause cancer — at levels well beyond what is safe.

    Aaron Lazarus, WSIB’s vice-president of communications, said since 1993, about 80 per cent of the 2,400 claims regarding GE Peterborough were allowed. Critics however have raised concerns that the number of approved cancer claims is much lower.

    Given updated information and new science on the risks of exposure, “we have responded to community concerns by launching a review of more than 250 claims,” Lazarus said, adding he anticipates all cancer-related claims will be reviewed by early 2018.

    “We are also encouraging anyone who believes they became ill because of their workplace but does not have a claim with us to file one.”

    “If you look at the history of this, you’ve got a population of people that worked at GE that were exposed to chemicals in a way they simply should not have been,” Minister of Labour Kevin Flynn told the Star Wednesday.

    “They were let down by the health and safety associations that were supposed to help them, by the clinics that were supposed to help them, by their own trade union, by their employer and perhaps by the WSIB at the time.

    “What I’ve tried to do is put in place a process that is going to deal with a majority of the outstanding claims — to deal with about 250 claims that I think we can get to very, very quickly and get the justice that these people deserve.”

    Last month, the WSIB said a review team would look at both cancer and non-cancer related claims. The agency also said it would look at claims from widows, widowers and children of former workers who died without realizing their deaths may have been linked to a workplace illness.

    Flynn said a number of the 250 cases have been processed and benefits paid, and “we are closely monitoring this process to ensure that there is continued progress.”

    He said money for a special team to help workers prepare claims for the WSIB is still being reviewed.

    Some in the community are skeptical about the WSIB handling claims fairly, when it was the very body that denied workers in the first place.

    However, Flynn said the WSIB “is an autonomous agency of the government. Only it can determine the process whereby workers’ benefits will be determined. We do continue to look at other methods of adjudicating claims more efficiently and fairly.”

    The plant has employed tens of thousands of workers over its 125-year history in Peterborough, and their health and safety has always been the company’s “No. 1 priority,” GE has said.

    The plant, which is slated to close, produced appliances, nuclear reactor fuel cells and locomotive engines.

    Forster said the minister has made commitments, and must follow through.

    “You have raised the hopes of all of these people who are ill, and all of these people who are worried about becoming ill, and not taking any action on it in a seven-month period of time” is despicable, she said.

    “Nobody’s listening — that’s the hardest part for us to take in our little tight-knit community,” added Sue James, whose father worked at GE for 36 years, and she herself for 40. Her father died of lung and spinal cancer.

    She said families have been pleading with different governments for years.

    Her hope is that Flynn will allow automatic compensation for any claims from workers who were employed between 1945 to 2000, as he has said he’s considering.


    ‘It’s hell’: Ailing GE Peterborough workers still waiting for justice, group says‘It’s hell’: Ailing GE Peterborough workers still waiting for justice, group says

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    MONTREAL—Gilbert Rozon, the impresario behind Montreal’s world-famous Just for Laughs Festival, has quit the entertainment company over unspecified allegations of abuse.

    He made the announcement on his Facebook page Wednesday evening, adding that he was also resigning as commissioner of the organizing committee of Montreal’s 375th anniversary celebrations and vice president of the Montreal Chamber of Commerce.

    “I am resigning out of respect for the employees and the families that work for these organizations as well as all our partners. I certainly don’t want to overshadow their activities,” Rozon wrote in what he titled an official declaration.

    “Shaken by the allegations against me, I want to dedicate all my time to review the matter. To all those who I may have offended in my life, I’m sincerely sorry.”

    Le Devoir reported interviewing nine women about their alleged experiences of harassment, abuse and sexual assault at Rozon’s hands over the last three decades.

    One woman reported that in June 2016 she awoke following an evening of drinking to find Rozon having sex with her against her will, something that Rozon himself later disputed in an email exchange.

    “I froze, I pushed him away, slammed the door and went into another room,” said Geneviève Allard. Later, Rozon allegedly remarked that both of them had cheated on their partners.

    Allard filed a formal complaint with the police last December, the newspaper reported.

    Read more:

    Quebec television personality Eric Salvail taking ‘pause’ after reports of sexual misconduct

    Weinstein scandal will accelerate Oscar housecleaning: Howell

    Actually, Woody Allen, a witch hunt is exactly what Hollywood needs: Menon

    Among the other alleged victims was a well-known actress, Salomé Corbo, who said she was 14 years old in 1990 when an intoxicated Rozon slipped his hands into her underwear and digitally penetrated her during a party

    The TVA network reported that Montreal police had launched an investigation into a complaint of sexual assault that allegedly occurred in Paris in 1994. The woman was reportedly among a group of Rozon’s alleged victims who came together Tuesday in Montreal to discuss their ordeals.

    The network also reported that another young woman, aged 20 when she worked for the Just for Laughs festival in 2010, had her backside slapped by Rozon as a means of congratulations and was told on another occasion: “Your breasts look great in that dress.”

    Another woman, Marlène Bolduc, wrote on Twitter Wednesday that she worked for Rozon’s festival in the summer of 2016 as a rickshaw driver and ended up one night pulling Rozon home along with a group of his friends.

    Rozon allegedly commented during the ride on her “beautiful arched back” and remarked: “Those thighs have got to be pretty firm.” She said he also used his scarf to whip her as if he was riding a horse-drawn carriage.

    “It’s not insignificant. It’s sexual harassment. Gilbert Rozon, my body belongs to me. You cannot take ownership of it, sexualize me and humiliate me,” Bolduc wrote. “You reduced me to an object. You terrified me to the point that I was frozen.

    Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said in a statement that he was disappointed to learn of the “serious allegations of sexual misconduct.”

    “I totally support all the men and women who decide to express themselves concerning the abuse they have suffered. We have to protect the victims.”

    Rozon pleaded guilty in 1998 to fondling a 19-year-old woman. He said the incident pushed him into therapy and reflection on the transgressions so often committed by powerful people.

    “I looked at politicians here and abroad, like Bill Clinton, and I asked myself, “Does power go with the obligation to seduce and conquer?” he told an interviewer in 2011.

    Rozon received a $1,100 fine and one year of probation, according to published reports.

    In 1999, he was granted an unconditional discharge after a judge ruled that having a criminal record for sexual assault might prevent Rozon from travelling internationally, affect his business and hamper Montreal’s economy, the CBC reported at the time.

    Rozon had also been charged with unlawful confinement involving a 31-year-old woman, but the charge was withdrawn by police due to lack of evidence.

    A Quebec actor, Guillaume Wagner, brought the concerns surrounding Rozon to light Wednesday when he wrote on Facebook: “I won’t work for Just for Laugh so long as an agressor is the boss.”

    Wagner added that he was aware of Rozon’s past brush with the law and thought he had reformed.

    “Then I heard stories. And then others. And recent ones. It’s starting to come out. It will continue to come out,” he wrote. “When men break lives, the least we can do is to break the silence.”

    Rozon’s resignation was the second bombshell to shake Quebec’s entertainment world Wednesday.

    Earlier in the day, television host and producer Eric Salvail was alleged to have engaged in inappropriate sexual behaviour, which resulted in the talk show and radio show he hosts being suspended.

    Montreal’s La Presse newspaper reported having collected the testimony of 11 people Salvail is alleged to have sexually harassed, improperly touched or to have shown his penis.

    One of Eric Salvail’s alleged victims, Marco Berardini, said in an interview that he has been inundated with messages of support and inquiries from others who have had encounters with the host and producer since coming forward with the story of his alleged abuse, which dates back to 2003.

    “There’s no satisfaction in this,” Berardini said by telephone from Los Angeles. “I wish that there was and maybe there will be but for now it’s just sad.”

    “In a meeting he stood up, he took out his penis and he asked what I would do to excite him,” said one person who spoke to La Presse on condition of anonymity.

    The Star has not been able to independently verify any of the alleged claims.

    Salvail’s lawyer, Jacques Jeansonne, refused to comment on the allegations, shortly before Salvail himself addressed the matter on his Facebook page Wednesday.

    “I was shaken by what was published this morning. I’m approaching this situation with an enormous amount of empathy for those who I may have made to feel uncomfortable or hurt. I never meant to bother anyone,” he wrote.


    Just For Laughs founder Gilbert Rozon resigns over abuse allegationsJust For Laughs founder Gilbert Rozon resigns over abuse allegations

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    A 26-year-old woman is dead following a single-vehicle rollover in Brampton Wednesday night.

    Ontario Provincial Police says it happened just after 11 p.m. in the southbound lanes of Highway 410 near Steeles Ave.

    Peel paramedics said they rushed the woman to hospital with life-threatening injuries, where she later died.

    No other injuries were reported. The cause of the crash has not been determined.

    The southbound lanes were closed for a police investigation, but they have since reopened.


    Woman, 26, killed in Highway 410 crashWoman, 26, killed in Highway 410 crash

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    WASHINGTON—It’s known as some of the saddest ground in America, a six-hectare plot of Arlington National Cemetery called Section 60 where many U.S. personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan are interred. On Memorial Day this year, U.S. President Donald Trump and the man who would be his chief of staff visited Grave 9480, the final resting place of Robert Kelly, a Marine killed Nov. 9, 2010, in Afghanistan.

    “We grieve with you. We honour you. And we pledge to you that we will always remember Robert and what he did for all of us,” Trump said, singling out the Kelly family during his remarks to the nation that day. Turning to Robert’s father, then the secretary of homeland security, Trump added, “Thank you, John.”

    The quiet tribute contrasts with Trump’s messy brawl this week with critics of his handling of condolences to Gold Star families who, like Kelly, have lost people to recent warfare. Trump brought up the loss of Kelly’s son as part of an attack on former president Barack Obama, dragging the family’s searing loss into a political fight over who has consoled grieving families better. Kelly has not commented on the controversy, but it was exactly the sort of public attention to a personal tragedy that the reserved, retired Marine general would abhor.

    White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders acknowledged Kelly was “disgusted” that the condolence calls had been politicized, but said she was not certain if the chief of staff knew Trump was going to talk about his son publicly.

    Trump sparked the controversy during an interview Tuesday with Fox News Radio. Asked whether he’d called the families of Americans killed in Niger nearly two weeks before, Trump replied, “You could ask Gen. Kelly, did he get a call from Obama?”

    On Wednesday, a CNN report citing multiple unnamed White House officials said Kelly was caught off guard by Trump’s comment. Kelly had told Trump that Obama did not call, but had never thought the president would raise that information publicly, the report said.

    Trump’s remark set many in the military community seething. Kelly is the most senior U.S. military officer to lose a child in Iraq or Afghanistan.

    “I would be surprised if he comes in and starts allowing people to use his family as a tool,” said Charles C. Krulak, a former Marine Corps commandant who has known John Kelly since the mid-1990s.

    There was a sense among some that Trump’s words were not an appropriate part of the national political dialogue.

    “If there is one sacred ground in politics it should be the ultimate sacrifices made by our military,” wrote Chuck Hagel, a defence secretary under Obama and before that, a Republican U.S. senator. In an email to The Associated Press, Hagel added: “To use General Kelly and his family in this disgusting political way is sickening and beneath every shred of decency of presidential leadership.”

    Trump has had a fraught relationship with grieving Gold Star families since the 2016 campaign, when he feuded with the parents of slain Army Capt. Humayun Khan, who was killed in Iraq in 2004.

    Now the commander in chief, Trump ranked himself above his predecessors on such matters, insisting this week that he’s “called every family of someone who’s died,” while past presidents didn’t place such calls. But The Associated Press found relatives of soldiers who died overseas during Trump’s presidency who said they never received calls from him, and more who said they did not receive letters.

    As for whether Obama called Kelly, White House officials said later that Obama did not call Kelly, but White House visitor logs show that Kelly and his wife attended the Obamas’ lunch with Gold Star families.

    The public controversy has to have been painful for Kelly, whose son had been awarded the Purple Heart. The White House chief of staff is a military veteran of more than four decades who has rarely discussed his son’s death and refused to politicize it.

    Robert Kelly, 29, was killed when he stepped on a land mine in Afghanistan’s remote Helmand province. His father, aware that Robert Kelly accompanied almost every patrol with his men through mine-filled battlefields, had just days before warned the family of the potential danger, according to a report in The Washington Post. When Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr. rang the elder Kelly’s doorbell at 6:10 a.m. on November 9, 2010, John Kelly knew Robert was dead, according to the report.

    Four days later, the grieving father with the four-decade military career asked a Marine Corps officer not to mention Robert’s death during an event in St. Louis. There, without mentioning Robert, John Kelly delivered an impassioned speech about the disconnect between military personnel and members of American society who do not support their mission.

    “Their struggle is your struggle,” Kelly said.

    “We are only one of 5,500 American families who have suffered the loss of a child in this war,” Kelly wrote to The Post in an email. “The death of my boy simply cannot be made to seem any more tragic than the others.”

    In March 2011, Kelly accompanied his boss, Defence Secretary Bob Gates, on a visit to the Sangin district, in Helmand province — the scene of some of the most intense fighting of the war and where Robert Kelly had been killed.

    As Gates’ senior military assistant, Kelly stood silently among young Marines gathering under a harsh sun as Gates applauded what they had accomplished.

    “Your success, obviously, has come at an extraordinary price,” Gates said without mentioning names.

    Ahead of Trump and Kelly’s visit to Robert’s grave on Memorial Day, Kelly’s voice caught when he was asked on Fox & Friends to describe his son.

    “He’s the finest man I ever knew,” Kelly said. Asked to elaborate, Kelly struggled at first. “Just is. Finest guy. Wonderful guy. Wonderful husband, wonderful son, wonderful brother. Brave beyond all get out. His men still correspond with us. They still mourn him as we do.”


    John Kelly kept his own tragedy out of politics. Then Donald Trump brought it upJohn Kelly kept his own tragedy out of politics. Then Donald Trump brought it up

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    Some had just celebrated marriages of half a century or longer. They spent their time volunteering and playing with grandchildren. A few had lived through both world wars.

    The majority of the 42 people killed in the wildfires that have ravaged Northern California were senior citizens, most in their 70s or older. Several were couples who died together, including childhood sweethearts who had grown old together.

    A 95-year-old man and his 75-year-old wife spent their final moments huddled in the wine cellar of their home where they had lived for 45 years.

    Read more:

    California residents return home to altered lives, communities after wildfires

    Homes spared by California wildfires bring joy and sense of loss

    Firefighters battle to save historic Sonoma from California wildfire

    The oldest victim — 100-year-old World War II veteran Charles Rippey, who used a walker — is believed to have been trying to make it to his 98-year-old wife, Sara, who had limited mobility after a stroke. Their caretaker barely escaped alive before the roof collapsed and the blaze engulfed the house.

    An 80-year-old man never made it past his driveway after getting his 80-year-old wife into the car to escape. The two were born four days apart and died together.

    Some simply clung to each other until the end.

    Armando Berriz, 76, held his wife of 55 years, Carmen Caldentey Berriz, afloat in a swimming pool as walls of fire burned around them. He let go only after Carmen stopped breathing and the flames had burned out, laying her on the steps of the pool with her arms crossed over her chest. He then walked 2 miles to find help.

    “This situation has been so tragic on so many levels,” said Caroline Cicero, an assistant professor at the University of Southern California’s Leonard Davis School of Gerontology. “Couples who have been living together for 30, 40, 50 years, especially in their 80s and 90s, definitely might have just realized this is the end. ‘There is nothing we can do, so we’ll go out together,’ which is a beautiful thing. But it’s tragic for those left behind.”

    If a spouse survived, it will be an extremely painful road to recovery, especially for older people who may never heal, said Cicero, who has worked as a geriatric social worker.

    Authorities identified two more elderly victims on Wednesday: Monte Neil Kirven, 81, and Marilyn Carol Ress, 71.

    The heavy toll on older people has raised questions about whether more could have been done to alert the most vulnerable in time to escape.

    Among the victims were those who had survived strokes, cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. They could not move fast enough to escape the speeding flames. Others likely never heard the frantic calls of friends or honking of neighbours’ cars — possibly the only warning that they were in danger.

    It’s only been since Hurricane Katrina in 2005 that cities began drawing up emergency preparedness plans that specifically take the elderly into account, Cicero said.

    Some cities, such as Culver City in suburban Los Angeles, now allow people to put their names on a list that notifies officials they need priority because they are hearing impaired or have other issues that may limit their ability to evacuate quickly.

    But Cicero said she is not sure what could have been done in places like Santa Rosa, where a wildfire sprung up quickly and overtook homes in suburban neighbourhoods and remote woods at night, giving people only minutes or, in some cases, seconds to escape.

    George Powell, 74, said he does not know what woke him early Monday. He looked out the window to flames and immediately woke his 72-year-old wife, Lynne Anderson Powell. She grabbed a laptop, her border collie and was driving down their mountain road within minutes.

    He went for his three border collies and fled 15 minutes behind her in his own vehicle.

    There was a huge wall of fire along the road. Powell said he realized later that he had driven past his wife’s Prius, which had gone off the road and plunged into a ravine in the thick smoke. Lynne’s burned body was found steps from her car; the dog was found burned to death inside.

    The couple had been married 33 years and lived in the woods in the Santa Rosa area. She had recently overcome cancer.

    “If I had known, I would have gone down there with her, even if it meant I would have died with her,” Powell said. “I don’t know how I’m going to cope. She was my life.

    “She was my life,” he repeated.


    Elderly couples die in each other’s arms during California wildfiresElderly couples die in each other’s arms during California wildfires

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    Ontario will have to dramatically raise taxes or slash spending in order to meet its long-term financial targets, the province’s fiscal watchdog warns.

    In a 63-page report to the Legislature released Thursday, the financial accountability office (FAO) warned that Ontario’s aging population will put a squeeze on provincial coffers.

    “Over the next three decades, as the baby boom cohort transitions from working age to retirement and eventually into old age, Ontario will experience significant changes in its population and economy,” said J. David Wake, the temporary financial accountability officer.

    “Without government action, these demographic changes will slow revenue growth and increase spending, leading to large and rising budget deficits,” he said at Queen’s Park.

    Read more: Ontario economy outpacing G7 nations, finance minister says

    Canadian incomes jump, Ontario residents hit by manufacturing downturn: Statistics Canada

    One of Canada’s fastest growing economies is in … Oshawa

    “The baby boom generation, accounting for over one-quarter of Ontario’s population, will be between 55 and 75 years old by 2020 and in the process of gradually transitioning out of the labour force. This transition is expected to lead to slower growth in employment and overall income,” Wake’s report noted.

    “As the baby boomers continue to age, they will require more resources from Ontario’s health care system, increasing pressure on government spending.”

    The independent legislative officer said that Ontario’s current net debt-to-gross domestic product ratio of around 40 per cent will skyrocket to 63 per cent by 2050-51.

    That’s far in excess of the Liberal government’s target of a net debt-to-GDP ratio of 27 per cent.

    The FAO estimated that to meet that target, Queen’s Park would have to fill an annual hole of around $6.5 billion.

    “This … is roughly equivalent to removing funding for about 40 per cent of the province’s hospitals, or raising the harmonized sales tax rate by 2 percentage points or a 25 per cent increase in federal government transfers to Ontario,” the office said.

    Finance Minister Charles Sousa conceded “the FAO is correct in recognizing that changing demographics will have an impact on the Ontario economy.”

    “This is a reality that is faced by many other jurisdictions, including most OECD countries,” said Sousa.

    “That’s why we took a leadership role in negotiations with the federal government to enhance the Canada Pension Plan and to increase health care transfers in order to transform our province’s health care system to better respond to the evolving needs of the people of Ontario.”

    But Sousa pointed out that last year Ontario’s GDP grew by 2.7 per cent, which is “better than all the G7 countries and almost twice the rate of growth of Canada.”

    “Balancing the budget has added stability to Ontario’s finances and positions the government to better respond to demographic challenges and unexpected global economic shocks that the province may face in the future,” he said.

    “We will continue to manage any global economic challenges that arise along the way.”


    Ontario will have to hike taxes or cut spending to meet fiscal targets, watchdog warnsOntario will have to hike taxes or cut spending to meet fiscal targets, watchdog warns

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    In a rare show of unity, all three major Ontario political parties have denounced Quebec’s controversial new law that targets Muslim women.

    One day after Quebec’s Liberal government passed a law prohibiting anyone from getting or performing a public service with their face covered, MPPs at Queen’s Park expressed their collective outrage.

    “We have a very close working relationship with Quebec. But on this issue, we fundamentally do not agree,” Premier Kathleen Wynne said Thursday.

    “Forcing people to show their faces when they ride the bus, banning women from wearing a niqab when they pick up a book from the library will only divide us,” Wynne told the hushed chamber.

    “Sometimes life in a diverse society is uncomfortable and that is exactly when it is even more important that we work to understand each other. Religious freedom is part of our identity,” she said.

    “Every one of us should be able to live our lives and go about our days and practice what we believe without discrimination and without fear. This is the kind of actions that drives wedges in communities.”

    While Wynne is close to Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, she said his province’s Bill 62 “would disproportionately affect women, who are sometimes already at the margins, and push them into further isolation.”

    “They are our neighbours — the grandmother who, if she lived in Quebec, would no longer be able to drop off her granddaughter at a city-run daycare or a mother who would not be able to bring her children to a hospital to see the doctor. That is not the kind of society that we stand for in Ontario.”

    Progressive Conservative MPP Lisa MacLeod (Nepean-Carleton) said her party stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Ontario’s governing Liberals on this issue.

    “The law brought in by the Liberal government in Quebec has no place in Ontario — indeed, it has no place in Canada,” said MacLeod.

    “All Canadians have a legal right to their religious beliefs, including in the province of Quebec,” she said.

    MacLeod emphasized that “there is no place for two-tiered citizenship in Canada.”

    “Whether you wear a cross, a turban, a hijab, a kippah or any other religious symbol, you should never be denied any public service in the province of Ontario or anywhere else in Canada.”

    NDP MPP Peggy Sattler (London West) called the Quebec law “an unprecedented action in Canada.”

    “Many academics and legal scholars across the country have raised concerns that Bill 62 is a fundamental violation of human rights that will be found to be unconstitutional under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” she said.

    Sattler said the law is misogynistic and undermines “women’s rights to autonomy over their own bodies.”

    “There is no circumstance in Ontario in which anyone should ever be able to tell a woman what she can or cannot wear, whether high heels at work or a veil on a bus,” she said,

    “Despite the guise of religious neutrality, Quebec’s legislation appears to be targeted primarily at Muslim women wearing the niqab or burka. This is a dangerous law that compromises rather than protects public safety.”

    Officially, Bill 62 is the Quebec Liberals’ bid to underscore that that province is a secular place that does not promote any religion.

    That ignores the fact that there is a massive Christian cross hanging in the National Assembly chamber in Quebec City where the legislation was passed.


    Ontario MPPs denounce Quebec law targeting Muslim womenOntario MPPs denounce Quebec law targeting Muslim womenOntario MPPs denounce Quebec law targeting Muslim womenOntario MPPs denounce Quebec law targeting Muslim women

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    Sears Canada began its liquidation sales at its remaining stores across the country Thursday, but many shoppers found the deals to be underwhelming.

    While signs suggest discounts of 20 to 50 per cent off — with a note that exceptions apply — relatively few items at a Toronto store appeared to be offered at half off.

    Some big ticket items such as snowblowers and treadmills were only 10 per cent off.

    But dozens of shoppers still braved long check-out lines to make their purchases as Sears prepares to shut its doors for good after 65 years in business.

    A joint-venture group — which includes Hilco Global, Gordon Brothers Canada, Tiger Capital Group and Great American Group — is running the liquidation sales at 74 remaining department stores and eight Home stores.

    Discounts are available on all Sears's own brands, including Kenmore, as well as brand name men's and women's apparel, and a variety of other categories including home decor, toys, furniture, and major appliances.

    “Selected fixtures, furnishings and equipment in the closing stores will also be for sale,” said the joint-venture group.

    Sears Canada gift cards will be honoured throughout the sale as well, the group said. However, Sears Canada stopped honouring extended warranties as of Wednesday.

    Liquidation sales at 49 Sears Hometown stores were expected to start Thursday, or sometime soon, but discounts there will vary, according to Sears Canada spokesman Joel Shaffer.

    Some items are also listed for clearance on the Sears Canada website, including a four-piece outdoor furniture set discounted from $499.99 to $299.95. However, not everything online has been marked down just yet.

    The sales are expected to last between 10 to 14 weeks. Sears Canada timed its liquidation sales to take advantage of the busy holiday shopping season to maximize the value it could attain for the inventory.

    The retailer has been in creditor protection since June, but was unable to find a buyer which would allow it to keep operating.

    Sears Canada received court approval to proceed with its liquidation sales last week. A group led by its executive chairman Brandon Stranzl had been in weeks-long discussions with Sears Canada to purchase the retailer and continue to operate it. However, no deal was reached.

    Stranzl resigned from Sears Canada's board of directors on Monday.


    Deals scarce in Sears Canada liquidation saleDeals scarce in Sears Canada liquidation sale

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    OTTAWA—Finance Minister Bill Morneau has committed to sell off all his shares in his former company and says he will place his assets in a blind trust to go “above and beyond” Parliament’s ethics rules to avoid any conflict of interest.

    The declaration comes after days of accusations from Conservatives and New Democrats that he stood to potentially profit from his government’s pension reform bill, which could create business for his family company Morneau Shepell. He was also blasted for not placing his assets in a blind trust, like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has done with his personal wealth, and his belated disclosure of a French company that he co-owns with his wife.

    “I need to do more,” Morneau told reporters in Ottawa Thursday afternoon.

    “This is a way to ensure Canadians, with the highest level of confidence, that there are no conflicts of interest.”

    Morneau also repeated what he said during an earlier news conference Thursday: that he feels the controversy about his personal wealth has been a “distraction” when he is trying to roll out changes to controversial tax proposals.

    Morneau maintained that he hasn’t broken any rules by not having a blind trust, but outlined three steps he will take nonetheless. He said that he will place his assets in a blind trust. He will also sell off his and his family’s assets in the company founded by his father in 1966, Morneau Shepell.

    After his office declined repeatedly to say how many shares Morneau has in that company, the finance minister revealed that he has “about a million” shares that he will now sell. As of Thursday afternoon, Morneau Shepell shares were selling for roughly $21 each on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

    According to regulatory filings for corporate insider, Morneau had more than 2 million Morneau Shepell shares when he resigned from the company after the 2015 election.

    The third step he committed to taking was to maintain the conflict of interest “screen” recommended by the ethics commissioner when he was elected, so that he is not involved in how his existing shares are sold off.

    At the earlier news conference Thursday morning, Morneau insisted that he followed the advice of Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson “to the letter” and is not in a conflict of interest, as alleged by the Opposition.

    Read more: Trudeau defends Morneau over failure to put assets in blind trusts

    Morneau walks himself into a political crisis: Tim Harper

    Morneau open to changing financial affairs as Conservatives, NDP demand ethics investigation

    However he refused to answer more questions about the handling of his personal wealth at a news conference in Erinsville, Ont. Thursday morning, suggesting he will make an announcement about the controversy later in the day.

    “I’m happy to say that we have a system that allows people to come into public life having already had careers outside public life. And it allows us to go through that system to make sure that we put ourselves in a position where we don’t have conflicts of interest. And I am going to have more to say about this later today, so stay tuned.”

    Morneau is expected to make his first appearance all week in the Commons Thursday afternoon.

    While he was absent for three days, the Conservative and New Democrat Opposition slammed him for failing to sell his shares, putting them in a blind trust, or publicly disclosing details of his personal financial portfolio all while, his critics contend, drafting tax measures that don’t hit him, and other bills that will aid his family company.

    Dawson and Morneau said this week she originally told the finance minister that because he does not directly hold shares — valued now at an estimated $40 million — he was not required to either sell them or put them in a blind trust.

    Dawson told reporters that only “controlled” assets must be sold or put in a blind trust under the Conflict of Interest Act, and recommendations she set out in 2013 to close that loophole — to cover both direct and indirect holdings — were never adopted.

    Morneau said Thursday, “I followed the rules, I followed her opinion and I can explain thus that I am not in a conflict. But I will be talking about this later today to ensure that everyone fully understands the situation.”

    “I set forth my assets, I followed the advice of the ethics commissioner to the letter, and I think what that does is it allows us to continue with the work we’re going to do free of conflicts.”


    ‘I need to do more’: Morneau says he’ll place assets in blind trust to avoid conflict of interest‘I need to do more’: Morneau says he’ll place assets in blind trust to avoid conflict of interest

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    An Ontario Superior Court has issued an interim injunction allowing the city of Toronto to close down Canna Clinic pot dispensaries for contravening zoning bylaws.

    “Not only did it grant the order effectively directing that the operations close at those locations, but it also prohibits Canna Clinic and its directors from continuing to operate or sell marijuana in the city of Toronto,” said Mark Sraga, director of investigation services for the city’s municipal licensing and standards division.

    The injunction also orders that the property owners are prohibited from allowing the use of their property for any person to sell, store or distribute marijuana.

    The city and Toronto police have tried to shut down illegal pot shops, including the B.C.-based Canna Clinic chain, in a series of raids across the city over the last 18 months. Shop owners and clerks have faced criminal and bylaw charges.

    Canna Clinic has had as many as seven storefronts operating in Toronto. Its two remaining sites operating in Toronto have now closed, Sraga said.

    “Our legal department is still reviewing the decision then we’ll determine what next steps need to be taken should they not comply with the order.

    Canna Clinic opposed Toronto’s application to shut them down so their dispensaries could continue providing reasonable access for patients needing cannabis for medical purposes.

    A hearing for a permanent injunction is scheduled for December 2018 – almost six months after recreational marijuana is set to be legalized in Canada.

    Toronto pot lawyer Paul Lewin, representing Canna Clinic, said Thursday he had “no instructions to provide comment” about the court ruling released Monday.


    Toronto given the go-ahead to shut down Canna Clinic pot dispensariesToronto given the go-ahead to shut down Canna Clinic pot dispensaries

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    A Brampton man is charged with six counts of fraud after he allegedly scammed a woman looking for an apartment online.

    Toronto police say a 27-year-old woman responded to an online advertisement to rent an apartment on Sept. 29. It is alleged that she met with a man, signed a lease and handed over a cash deposit.

    Police say the woman later realized that she had been scammed.

    On Tuesday, responding to another online advertisement, police arrested the man, 33.

    Police say he allegedly posted online advertisements using an alias. (The details are not being disclosed as the investigation is continuing.)

    Goran Drozdek is charged with two counts of fraud under $5,000, possession of property obtained by crime under $5,000 and three counts of failing to comply with probation.

    Drozdek was scheduled to appear in a Toronto court on Wednesday.


    Brampton man hit with six charges in alleged online rental scamBrampton man hit with six charges in alleged online rental scam

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    “I don’t think I’ve been down here before,” Bill Morneau said as he strode to the podium Thursday afternoon,

    He was talking about a subterranean news conference room on Parliament Hill, but he might as well have been talking about his political fortunes.

    Morneau had been everywhere this week — Stouffville, Erinsville, and Markham, Ont., Montreal and Hampton, N.B., — everywhere but where he should have been, in Ottawa, taking action and answering questions if the Liberal government had proved more adept at desperately needed damage control on a burgeoning conflict-of-interest crisis.

    Morneau finally did the right thing, placing his substantial assets in a blind trust and announcing he would begin divesting his interest in the family business, Morneau Shepell.

    Except this was 2017.

    This should have been done a couple of years ago, because, to paraphrase Justin Trudeau, it was 2015.

    That was the year Morneau was named the country’s finance minister and Thursday’s decision doesn’t erase the previous two years.

    So, Morneau still had some uncomfortable questions hanging, even as he embarked on his divestment strategy.

    Why now? One is left with the unmistakeable sense that he got caught by some enterprising reporting. What if the Globe and Mail had not found that Morneau’s substantial holdings were not in a blind trust?

    One could easily believe that Morneau would have continued on his path, using a loophole in the conflict-of-interest legislation allowing him to hold shares in the family company through an arm’s-length holding company.

    Why did he tell the CBC shortly after his election that he was going to put his assets in a blind trust? And why did Morneau Shepell believe his assets were in a blind trust?

    It must have been tough to counter that impression when you put it out there yourself.

    He said he expected the blind trust was the way to go, but he agreed to accept Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson’s advice that there were other options, including the conflict-of-interest screen he put in place.

    When he left Morneau Shepell, he held 2.2 million shares in the company, but Thursday said he had about a million shares. But when did he unload the other 1.2 million shares?

    Here’s the nub of the conflict charge, as raised by New Democrat Nathan Cullen, an unproven allegation that nonetheless brings some smoke.

    When Morneau introduced Bill C-27, legislation to make it easier for federal employees to move to a targeted benefit pension, a move which would benefit Morneau Shepell, the company’s stock went up 4.8 per cent within days, Cullen says. Morneau, he said, would have made $2 million in five days from that jump. But it’s not known that Morneau was holding or selling stock at that time.

    The prime minister’s office would have been well-advised to let Morneau climb down from his tax reform package in a single day, hustle him back to Ottawa, and try to put a lid on this sooner.

    Perhaps referring to this matter as “a distraction” is not the word you want to use to demonstrate an understanding of the severity of the matter.

    A day earlier, Trudeau seemed to wilt while taking 30 questions on Morneau, falling back on familiar tropes — referring to opposition questions as “mud-slinging,’’ accusing Conservatives of trying to sully Morneau’s good name, of “shrieking,’’ and playing “petty politics.’’

    Accusing opponents of getting down in the mud doesn’t work here — the charges against Morneau were sufficiently serious that they deserved more substantive answers.

    Morneau said he believed, perhaps “naively,’’ that following the rules and following the advice of an officer of Parliament would be enough.

    Naïve? That’s a hard sell, whether the minister was a political neophyte or not. He certainly knows business and commerce and you don’t get where he got by carting around a bunch of naivete.

    He has done nothing illegal, but has badly sullied his own reputation, pushed his government far off message at mid-term and played into a dangerous narrative for the Liberals, that they are not only out of touch, but also not above of using numbered companies to exploit loopholes for their advantage.

    As he wrapped up a media event in the morning in Erinsville, Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay was heard to tell Morneau: “I can’t imagine they (reporters) weren’t interested in the (tax) measures. Go figure.’’

    One can only assume that was a minister who has been around the block a few times slyly telling the rookie he was in deep.

    Tim Harper writes on national affairs. tjharper77@gmail.com, Twitter: @nutgraf1


    Bill Morneau does the right thing two years too late: Tim HarperBill Morneau does the right thing two years too late: Tim Harper

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    A Toronto police task force investigation into missing men Andrew Kinsman and Selim Esen has been extended after police received over 150 leads and interviewed over two dozen people—but they still can’t find a link to the two disappearances.

    Police said they will continue to keep an open mind to any possibilities of connections to the disappearances and a tip line for the investigation dubbed “Project Houston” has been set up.

    “It’s excruciating to know there’s more information I don’t know and that there’s an explanation for the most confusing and alarming experience of my life,” Kinsman’s housemate Meaghan Marian told the Star.

    “I’m super grateful for the task force and I’m more confident that we’re finally going to get some answers into the disappearances.”

    She said she met with two task force officers Thursday morning and that she’s grateful to the officers’ dedication to the search and the continuation of the extensive community outreach.

    Kinsman was last seen in June near Winchester and Parliament streets and Esen was last seen in April near Bloor and Yonge streets. A task force was created to investigate any links between the two disappearances after police met with over 200 concerned community members in August.

    Peter Code, lead inspector on Kinsman’s case, told the Star that the community’s concern and outreach initiatives “brought a lot of crucial information and tips flooded in to police” but there’s still nothing that suggests foul play.

    Marian first noticed Kinsman’s disappearance when she woke up to a “strangely quiet” house one morning back in June. She said she didn’t hear Kinsman’s loud footsteps, the banging of pots and pans or him talking to himself as he usually does every morning in their house that is shared with 12 other occupants.

    After he wasn’t replying to her texts or showing up for work at the People With AIDS Foundation, Marian called 51 division.

    Since Kinsman’s disappearance, his friends, family and members of his Cabbagetown neighbourhood have scheduled regular searches and have updated the community in a Facebook group of over 500 members—and they don’t plan on stopping.

    “My way of coping is to mobilize. I couldn’t stop if I wanted to,” said Marian.

    Dwight Ferguson met Kinsman about 20 years ago in Hamilton, Ont. That’s also when Ferguson’s brother went missing in Texas.

    “I was miles away so I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t fly home until my brother had been found, which was a week later. He was dead. He drowned.”

    So when Ferguson got a call that Kinsman was missing, his feelings were all too familiar. Except this time he could take action. “I had a big break down early on because I felt like I wasn’t doing enough. But doing something helps me deal with my brother’s loss a lot more,” he said.

    Marian said the focus now is organizing community outreach initiatives during Halloween when the Cabbagetown and Church and Wellesley areas are busy.

    “There’s only one way that this resolves, and that’s finding Andrew,” said Marian.

    Toronto police are asking anyone with information to call 416-808-2021.


    Toronto police continue search for two menToronto police continue search for two men

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    It’s natural to look at the last act of Gord Downie’s life and bow your head in admiration. Given a terminal brain cancer diagnosis in 2016, the great Canadian rock star spent his remaining time putting a crown on his life’s work, doing the things he loved doing, and that he was beloved for: touring one last time, writing and recording more new music, publishing a book that told an important and overlooked Canadian Indigenous story, nudging us and our prime minister to start righting our collective wrongs. We could all only wish that when our time comes, we’d be armed with the will and determination to go out like that. And grace, too.

    Forgive me. The song references come too easy, and maybe seem too pat in the raw days of grief after his death. But these are the words he gave us — the perfect words, so often — a gift that is always there, on the radio or our iPods or just bubbling up in our memories to the tips of our tongues, seemingly unprompted. A soundtrack to so many Canadian lives. A part of who we are.

    A lot of other people have already written about what he meant to Canada, trying to get a finger on it, or on a part of it. I recommend pieces by the Star’s Vinay Menon and Ben Rayner published immediately after we learned he’d died, and what is likely the authoritative obituary from Michael Barclay of Maclean’s. I don’t know that I have anything big to add to the collective understanding except personal impressions, because his death seems oddly like a personal loss.

    Odder still because there was never a point in my life when I would have described myself as a Tragically Hip fan. I liked them, owned a few albums, but I was never into them, in the way I got into bands and compulsively listened to them and read up on them over the years. And yet there was never a time since the early 1990s when I went a week — or even a few days — without a Hip lyric popping into my mind, a melody getting caught in my head. There is probably no other band — except maybe the Beatles — who have so many songs I can sing from memory. There was no need to be a fan. Since I was a teenager, the Hip were just there. Like a member of the family. Or a childhood friend.

    In 1993, when Doug Gilmour and Wendel Clark’s Leafs went deep in the playoffs — as close as they’ve come to winning the Cup in my lifetime — some longtime close friends and I went to a cottage in Wasaga Beach to watch the last two make-or-break games of the drive. It was a stage of our lives, poised on the edge of adulthood and all of its responsibilities, when everything was going to change but when the games we were watching could still seem to mean everything in the world. We listened to “Fifty Mission Cap,” Downie’s tale of the disappearance of Leafs hero Bill Barilko, on repeat, over and over again, for hours and hours — firing up the CD player even during intermissions, as if that story, told in Downie’s voice, might act as a prayer.

    Maybe it is some kind of mediocre whitebread Canadian cliché that the memory of that series — ultimately it ended in a betrayal by Wayne Gretzky, and with the kind of heartbreak Leafs fans know too well — should seem formative to me, but it is no less true that I recall it as sacred. And the words to the hymn are Downie’s, from that song, inseparable from the rest of it in my mind.

    There are memories like that for so many Hip songs and albums: A dancefloor full of people singing along in full voice to “New Orleans is Sinking.” A friend suddenly brought to tears by “Fiddlers Green.” A summer where everyone seemed to suddenly be memorizing and reciting the Ry Cooder monologue part of “Hundredth Meridian.” Cruising a highway at night across the American rockies listening to “Day for Night” over and over in the dark.

    Name a Hip song, there’s probably a memory to go with it. This is our life, and Downie was there for it, helping define it.

    As a writer, I always admired Downie’s ability to sketch a sense of place, to set a scene, in a few words or lines. The pattern on the table, clock on the wall. The checkerboard floor. The high school walls “yellow, grey, and sinister / hung with pictures of our parent’s prime ministers.” Famously, he took us across the country with these lyrics, to Bobcaygeon “where I saw the constellations / reveal themselves one star at a time,” to the “smudge of moon over Glenora / Ferry’s spotlight on the ice ahead,” to the “coffee coloured ice and peeling birch bark” of Springside Park.

    They are there, like memories, places vivid in my mind. With characters equally well and quickly drawn. Summoned by enigmatic phrases that resonate even if their straightforward meaning is often a puzzle.

    Downie was memorable for more than just the lyrics, of course. The rockstar frontman charisma and the endearing, unmistakable hint of hoser in his accent. The principles he wore on his sleeve and wove into his work, without seeming sanctimonious, instead coming across as the voice of obvious common conscience. The impulse to reach down the ladder to elevate his Canadian musical peers. The manic dancing.

    American obituaries struggled to find analogies to summarize the place Downie and the Hip occupied in mainstream Canadian culture. Even for a Canadian, it can be hard to put it into words. The relationship many of us felt with him through his music and performances transcends fandom — even for those of us who were never really fans. He was one of us, part of us, with us: rocking out at parties, telling stories in moments of quiet reflection, or just on the sound system at the mall. Just there. Until he wasn’t.

    What an ending to a life. What a life. What a friend we’ve lost. What a body of work he left woven into our culture. All that music. “Oh isn’t it amazing what you can accomplish, eh,” he sang. “Oh this one thing doesn’t have to go away.” Amen.

    Edward Keenan writes on city issues ekeenan@thestar.ca. Follow: @thekeenanwire


    Downie was one of us, part of us, with us, even for those of us who were never really fans: KeenanDownie was one of us, part of us, with us, even for those of us who were never really fans: Keenan

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    WASHINGTON — Former president George W. Bush on Thursday delivered a scathing warning about Donald Trump, saying his “America first” philosophy portends a dangerous inward turn that is eroding democracy at home and threatening stability around the world.

    “The health of the democratic spirit is at issue,” the 43rd president said during a speech in New York. “And the renewal of that spirit is the urgent task at hand.”

    “Since World War II, America has encouraged and benefited from the global advance of the free markets, from the strength of democratic alliance and from the advance of free societies,” Bush said. “Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry, and compromises the moral education of children.”

    He also warned of the dangers of a worldwide pattern of countries — including some in Europe —“turning inward.” And though Bush did not name Trump by name during his remarks, his warning about the current U.S. chief executive was clear.

    “America is not immune from these trends,” Bush said. “Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.”

    Several hours before Bush spoke, Trump delivered a conspiracy theory via a remarkable tweet in which he suggested Russian officials, the FBI and the Democratic Party worked together to create a dossier of potentially incriminating information about him during the 2016 presidential election.

    One line of Bush’s speech appeared pointedly aimed at Trump: “And we know that when we lose sight of our ideals, it is not democracy that has failed, it is the failure of those charged with preserving and protecting democracy.”

    It contained two words “preserving” and “protecting” that appear in the Oath of Office both he (twice) and Trump have taken.

    Read more:

    Trump suggests FBI may have ‘paid for’ dossier alleging Russia ties

    Trump offered a grieving military father $25,000 in a call, but didn’t follow through

    ‘Somebody screwed up here’: Why did Trump take 12 days to address the deaths of four soldiers, and why did he attack Obama?

    (The opening of that pledge reads this way: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”)

    The former Texas governor and son of the 41st president, George H.W. Bush, also spoke of a “casual cruelty” that has seeped into American politics and culture. Trump’s critics have slammed him for what they view as cruel comments about individuals from Mexico, Central and South America, and African-Americans, as well as women and his political foes.

    “We’ve become the heirs of Martin Luther King, Jr., by recognizing one another not by the colour of their skin but by the content of the character,” he said. “This means that people of every race, religion and ethnicity can be fully and equally American. It means that bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed.”

    The audience, which remained silent during most of the remarks, cheered after that portion. Trump has given cover to white supremacist groups that organized a rally in Charlottesville, Va., in August that turned violent and left one counterprotester dead, saying both sides were at fault and that among the white supremacists some were good people.

    Bush, a pro-trade and pro-immigration Republican, also went right after Trump on those policy issues.

    “We see a fading confidence in the value of free markets and international trade — forgetting that conflict, instability and poverty follow in the wake of protectionism,” he said. “We’ve seen the return of isolationist sentiments, forgetting that American security is directly threatened by the chaos and despair in distant places.

    “(Past) presidents of both parties believed American security and prosperity depended on success of freedom around the world. They knew that the success depended, in large part, on U.S. leadership,” Bush said, later adding: “We need to recall and recover our own identity. We only need to remember our values.”


    Former U.S. president George W. Bush slams Trump’s ‘America first’ policy in scathing speechFormer U.S. president George W. Bush slams Trump’s ‘America first’ policy in scathing speech

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    In Parkdale’s red-hot rental market, four units in a seven-unit residential building at King Street West and Cowan Avenue sit empty.

    And they’ve been vacant for months — collateral in a dispute between tenants who don’t want to leave and a landlord who wants to renovate.

    The building is owned by Paval Kanagathurai, who according to property records, purchased it in August 2017 for $2.85 million. Three remaining tenants — occupying a two-bedroom and two bachelors — have received notice to end their tenancies, so the landlord can begin major renovations.

    The tenants told the Star they don’t intend to leave.

    Kanagathurai showed the Star the ground level and basement of the building, pointing out things he called unsafe — rotting pipes, cables to nowhere, wet walls. Repairmen and pest control were present when the Star visited, and construction and repairs are underway.

    He declined to speak further, while his tenants have been adamant about their determination to stay.

    “I don’t want to leave,” said Brandon Kennedy, who’s lived in the building for three years. “Right now we are organizing together and we’ve already held one demonstration against the landlord.”

    On Oct. 13, the tenants delivered a letter to their landlord’s store, stating that they don’t plan to vacate by the requested date of Dec. 31.

    Kennedy occupies a two-bedroom unit, but signed a lease for only one of the rooms. He pays $575 a month in rent. The occupants of two bachelor apartments, Phil Mac Innis and Kelly Goldfeder, pay $700 and $750 each a month, respectively. All utilities, except internet and cable, are included.

    Goldfeder said her unit’s heat didn’t turn on until March, and she’s encountered mice and roaches.

    The tenants live on the upper two stories of the building. The ground floor is commercial, and tenants say a restaurant is being constructed there.

    Toronto realtor April Williams called monthly rent payments at those rates very low, since a bachelor goes for $1,100 on average.

    A nearby residential building’s ‘for lease’ sign on the front lawn advertised a bachelor from $900 and a one bedroom from $1,300.

    Innis said he’s fighting the eviction because the apartment on King St. W. is his home.

    “If I lose this place, I’m homeless,” he said. Innis is an Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) recipient, and estimates that if he’s forced to move, 85 to 90 per cent of his monthly income will go directly to rent.

    Cole Webber, a legal worker at Parkdale Community Legal Services, is assisting the tenants.

    “What we’ve been seeing a lot of in Parkdale is small investors coming in and buying up the smaller buildings and houses, and then pushing out the longtime tenants in order to renovate and raise the rents on units,” he said.

    The N-13 eviction notice issued to the tenants and provided to the Star by Webber, outlines the planned renovations: replace electric panels and cables, replace smoke and fire alarms, replace the roof and windows, separate the hydro meters, construct a laundry facility accessible to tenants and completely renovate all the units, including the bathroom and kitchen.

    Major repairs or renovations — if they require a building permit and can’t be done unless the unit is empty — are a no-fault reason for ending a tenancy under the Residential Tenancies Act.

    Tenants that are evicted for renovations have the right to move back in once renovations are complete.

    Steven Love, a volunteer with neighbourhood advocacy group Parkdale Organize, said Parkdale is being “rebranded.”

    “We’re so close to Liberty Village that they’re trying to rebrand it as a Liberty Village West,” Love said.

    “There are a lot of landlords that are starting these renovations, they’re starting to jack the rent, they’re trying to get a new clientele — a different demographic,” Love said. “Not the demographic that’s here, that exists in Parkdale and has historically existed in Parkdale. It’s always been a working class neighbourhood.”

    Love said he’s paying $649 for a bachelor in a Parkdale apartment building he’s lived in for five years. Today, a renovated bachelor unit in his building is $1,049 a month.

    “Parkdale is just the last stand,” he said. “Once you take over Parkdale, there’s really not another affordable neighbourhood in Toronto.”


    ‘I don’t want to leave’: Parkdale tenants protest eviction as landlord says renovation is needed‘I don’t want to leave’: Parkdale tenants protest eviction as landlord says renovation is needed

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