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    Citing an urgent need to address gender-based harassment, discrimination and bullying, a group of current and former police officers has established a national advocacy group to support female cops in a workplace where they say women are too often treated as outsiders.

    The National Women in Law Enforcement Association will represent a growing group of women officers alleging discrimination and harassment on the job — and who believe there is little recourse, according to organizers.

    “Women in policing, they’re in distress right now,” says Waterloo police Const. Angelina Rivers, who is part of a proposed class-action lawsuit against the Waterloo police board and its union alleging gender-based bullying, misconduct and more.

    “Women are leaving policing in droves, and there’s a reason for that,” she says.

    Recent research examining the experience of female officers in Canada has raised concerns about the persistence of an “old boys” club’ within policing, even as more women sign onto the force.

    In her study of female police officers in Ontario, Lesley Bikos, a former London, Ont. officer now pursuing her PhD studying police culture at Western University, found officers regularly subjected to verbal harassment — including being called “badge bunny” or a “tomboy” — and having to withstand hearing sexist jokes. Women officers also had to work harder to earn the respect automatically granted to their male counterparts and hesitated calling for backup out of fear of being called weak, Bikos found.

    Officers who become mothers, meanwhile, face another set of challenges, including being passed over for promotions because of a perception they won’t be as dedicated, according to research out of Wilfrid Laurier University.

    The new women’s policing advocacy group seeks to be both a support network for female police officers and group lobbying for change at the municipal, provincial and federal levels, according to its founders.

    Rivers said the group was born out of the realization that the ongoing proposed lawsuit against Waterloo police will take years to work its way through the courts. That’s time female officers be facing discrimination do not have, she said.

    The proposed lawsuit, which is seeking more than $165 million on behalf of past and present female Waterloo police officers, alleges a sexist workplace culture that subjects some female staff to verbal, physical and sexual harassment.

    None of the allegations have been tested in court.

    The Waterloo Police Services Board has said it would challenge the suit, calling it “inappropriate” and saying filing a complaint under Ontario’s Police Services Act would have been “the appropriate means to deal with the allegations.”

    When the lawsuit was launched earlier this year, Waterloo Police Chief Bryan Larkin said some of the allegations had only just been brought to the force, while others had been dealt with through an independent law firm’s investigation.

    Rivers said that among the most pressing concerns for the new group is the lack of remedy for female officers who have experienced anything from verbal harassment to unwanted sexual advances or more. Raising the alarm bells by going to a supervisor and lodging a complaint, she said, can result in retaliation that’s only damaging for the officer herself.

    In her own case, Rivers alleges male officers began spreading rumours that she was having an affair with a colleague. In response, she alleges, her immediate superior sent her sexually explicit texts, including requests for her to send naked pictures.

    When she complained, Rivers claims she was reassigned to an undesirable position. She is currently on leave from the force.

    The retaliation to speaking out can be worse than the original offence, says Const. Kim Prodaniuk, an officer with the Calgary Police Service who helped establish the national advocacy group.

    Prodaniuk says she got a reputation as a “bitch” after speaking out against what she said was gender-based discrimination from a supervisor.

    “It spread around the police service that . . . I can’t be trusted. Basically a lot of prison mentality that you’re a ‘rat.’ That had a whole bunch of consequences for me as a police officer,” she said in an interview Monday.

    That included not being able to find a police partner when she was working in a high-crime area because she wasn’t seen as “trustworthy,” Prodaniuk said. She is currently on leave from the force.

    The Calgary Police Service told its civilian oversight commission earlier this year it would take action in response to allegations of gender discrimination within the force, including a review of its hiring and promotion policies and the establishment of an independent whistle-blowing program.

    Jen Magnus, a former Calgary officer who also helped establish the group, publicly resigned in February at a Calgary police commission meeting after coming forward with allegations of workplace harassment and bullying. Magnus claims her complaints were minimized when she went to superiors, and the subsequent retaliation she faced discouraged others from speaking out.

    “It was clear to me that the culture wasn’t going to change with one sole voice complaining,” she said. “You need a national association like this for people to find that strength and find that voice.”

    Wendy Gillis can be reached at wgillis@thestar.ca

    With files from The Canadian Press


    Canadian female police band together to change ‘intolerable’ working conditionsCanadian female police band together to change ‘intolerable’ working conditions

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    The tepid response from federal leaders to Quebec’s ill-conceived and offensive Bill 62 tells us three truths about Canadian politics.

    They are not comfortable truths.

    It tells us that all three major party leaders may harbour suspicions that the bill forcing face coverings to be removed while accessing public services may be more popular both inside and outside Quebec than what might be expected.

    They may be right. This has all the trappings of a Donald Trump presidential run or a Brexit referendum in that the louder the protestations and the deeper the indignation of the mainstream pundits, editorial boards and the elite, the more popular the candidate or the legislation.

    Read more:

    Quebec women who wear niqab worry about how Bill 62 will affect daily life

    Quebec lawmakers pass religious neutrality bill banning face coverings

    Trudeau says Quebec shouldn’t tell women what to wear and what not to wear

    Secondly, it tells us that the further from power one is, the easier it is to be the champion of rights and liberties.

    And thirdly, because it is Quebec, we know that any federal intervention is seen as a political third rail, which would not be the case if, say, a government in Manitoba or Nova Scotia had passed such legislation.

    This is particularly true when the Quebec premier is a federalist.

    No one wants to poke the hibernating PQ bear, everyone is leery of meddling in provincial jurisdiction, particularly when you have opposition parties who believe Premier Philippe Couillard’s absurd bill does not go far enough.

    Here’s another reason for federal leaders to bide their time and give answers by rote — the bill is almost certain to be challenged in court and will likely wend its way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

    Although Prime Minister Justin Trudeau could ask the court for an opinion on the constitutionality of the face-veil law, political prudence will mean he will wait for the court challenge to be generated from inside Quebec.

    This prudence, however, presumes that Canadians are sympathetic to political gyrations. They deserve full-throated condemnation.

    Trudeau, of course, is not alone. We have not heard anything remotely powerful from Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer or NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, either.

    The prime minister’s indignation over measures which infringe on Canadians’ rights and liberties was hot from his perch as leader of the third party but has significantly cooled now that he exercises power.

    In August 2013, responding to the Parti Québécois charter of values, Trudeau wrote in a Globe and Mail op-ed: “Church and state must be separate. But by what logic should we restrict the freedom of some Quebeckers to express their religious beliefs? Simply because they are not shared by the majority? This is a dangerous road, not just for religious minorities within Quebec, but for all minorities, everywhere.’’

    Early in the election year, 2015, Trudeau delivered a speech at McGill University in opposition to then-prime minister Stephen Harper’s anti-terror legislation.

    He said those who have argued that expanding liberty in this country would compromise our traditional values were wrong, “because working to gain freedom for our fellow citizens is a bedrock traditional value in this country. It is in large measure what it means to be Canadian.’’

    Last week, campaigning in Monday’s Lac-Saint-Jean by-election, Trudeau said he would study the “implications” of the bill. He said no government should tell a woman what or what not to wear, but he stayed far away from any federal intervention.

    Scheer has a more politically advantageous issue to talk about, the government’s climb down on small business tax reforms and Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s stock holdings.

    His is the most milquetoast of Bill 62 responses.

    “Ultimately, this will be up to Quebecers to pass judgment on. It is a provincial law from the provincial legislature,’’ he told a Kitchener radio interviewer.

    “We’ll see what happens in the courts.’’

    Singh has the distance of the third party when he tells the CBC “it’s important we don’t pick and choose when it comes to human rights, we stand up for the rights of all people, all communities, all the time.’’

    But for the NDP, the niqab has become kryptonite.

    Former leader Tom Mulcair’s opposition to Harper’s bid to ban the niqab from citizenship ceremonies cost him dearly in Quebec in 2015 and Bill 62 already roiled the NDP leadership race won by Singh — a man whose head covering could become a challenge for him in Quebec.

    This is what we have in late 2017 — three men weighing political calculations in Quebec.

    It’s great news if you’re big on provincial rights, not so great if you were looking for someone to take on a racist piece of legislation.

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


    Trudeau, Scheer and Singh do the math in Quebec and none champion an anti-racist stance: Tim HarperTrudeau, Scheer and Singh do the math in Quebec and none champion an anti-racist stance: Tim Harper

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    It’s been five years since the series finale of Gossip Girl— a salacious CW television series, based on books by Cecily von Ziegesar. Now, in midtown Toronto, the spirit of the teen drama is getting an unlikely revival.

    Miss Informed is a gossip site, and a social labyrinth for an adolescent world. It gives an outlandish glimpse into the lives of teenagers identified only by first names and initials — though one post indicated that last names were once used, as well.

    “Who am I?” an introductory page reads.

    “Well, I’m one of you, but I’m also only your new favorite source for the latest gossip on the social scene at the Midtown Toronto high schools, as well as it’s parties, gossip, stories, and finally, it’s hottest couples and people.”

    One post asks readers for more information about a fight between two girls, alluding that it may have been over romantic jealousy. The comments range from corrections on what school the teens attend to a play-by-play of one girl being flung away “like a tissue.”

    Notes of friends becoming mortal enemies follow. Other posts are warmer, pronouncing the “hottest couple” or a pair in a “lovely relationship.”

    But the site’s quippy gossip and snarky observations went awry one warm Saturday night in mid-September.

    Emergency calls poured in on Sept. 16 from the area around Rosedale Park. Stabbings, assaults and robberies were compounded by medical calls for unconscious and intoxicated teens. Police reported hundreds had arrived after receiving information across social media.

    All reported incidents involved victims between 15 and 16-years-old, and the suspects were approximately eight to 10 boys and girls in their late teens, wearing hoodies with bandanas covering their faces.

    Multiple parties in a number of weeks followed the same pattern, and police believe the suspects attend for the sole purpose of carrying out robberies and other criminal activity. They also have evidence leading them to believe there have been several unreported incidents of a similar nature.

    Staff Sgt. James Hogan of Toronto Police’s 53 Division says the Rosedale Park party was certainly aided by social media — but it wasn’t caused by it.

    “I certainly went to lots of parties in forests and fields without social media when I was younger. It’s not a new phenomenon; it’s just a different way of organizing it,” he explained.

    Hogan will be a panelist at a Tuesday night town-hall style event, run by the North Rosedale and neighbouring residents associations. The purpose of the evening, at Rosedale United Church, is to discuss Midtown teenagers’ use of social media and their safety in a digital age, given recent events.

    Police will also provide an update on their criminal investigation.

    Lewis Redford, president of the North Rosedale Residents Association, called Miss Informed “sort of a dark site I guess you’d call it — something a lot of adults and school supervisors weren’t really aware of.”

    On Friday, the author of Miss Informed posted a statement addressing several potential concerns, including the “Rosedale Jam” party. The author began by saying they didn’t take responsibility for what happened, but that they’d be altering their posts in future.

    “I have made the decision not to post about parties, but instead to SMS blast them only to the group of confirmed subscribers who are actually students in the grades invited,” the anonymous author wrote.

    “The last thing I want is a disaster.”

    They also wrote that they maintained a set of morals around the gossip they shared (using the example that they wouldn’t share a tip outing someone’s sexual orientation), that there was a site feature to request a post be taken down, and that “believe it or not, most people ask me to post about them.”

    Tracking the owner of the site leads to multiple stops: a listed phone number was previously used to advertise escort services in Vaughan, as recently as June 2016. The site itself is registered with a company based in Panama.

    The site focuses on five schools: North Toronto Collegiate Institute, Northern Secondary School, Lawrence Park Collegiate Institute, Rosedale Heights School of the Arts, Forest Hill Collegiate Institute and “BHHS,” which may be an acronym for Branksome Hall.

    Toronto District School Board said they’re aware of the gossip site, but don’t have control over the content posted to it.

    “It’s important to note that content posted online that has a negative impact on the climate of a school can result in possible disciplinary action in cases where the poster’s identity is known,” spokesperson Ryan Bird wrote.

    “In this specific case, the identity of the poster is not known by staff.”

    And though the meeting was spurred by the public-park parties in September, Hogan says that’s just the starting point.

    “It’s actually a much broader discussion. We get that that’s just a useful catalyst. It’s a much broader discussion about social media, and young people, and the implications of it.”


    Toronto’s Gossip Girl website scrutinized after ‘Rosedale Jam’ park party stabbingToronto’s Gossip Girl website scrutinized after ‘Rosedale Jam’ park party stabbing

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    This is part of an occasional series on zero-waste initiatives.

    Imagine, producing only a jar’s worth of trash every year. To many, that seems an out-of-reach goal.

    But for Bea Johnson and her family of four, fitting all 365 days’ worth of garbage into a single glass jar is simply the end result of having a zero-waste home.

    “It’s a life based on experiences instead of things,” says Johnson, who grew up in France and now lives with her husband and two teenage sons in California. “By going zero-waste, you make room in your life for what matters most to you.”

    The path to waste-free living started in 2008, when Johnson and her family moved into an apartment while waiting for the right family home to become available in downtown San Francisco. They put 80 per cent of their belongings in storage and found, at the end of their apartment stay, they didn’t need them or miss them. So, Johnson says, they let go of their excess stuff and embarked on their zero-waste lifestyle.

    Since then, she has honed her waste-free skills and shares tips and inspiration on her blog and in her book — both called Zero Waste Home— and during speaking engagements that have taken her to 30 countries.

    Read more:

    Etobicoke condo adds organic-only garbage chute

    Green Halloween makes holiday waste vanish

    Scarborough condo leading way toward ‘zero waste’

    Johnson, who is in Toronto on Thursday to talk about the waste-free movement, spoke to the Star about how a zero-waste home is easier, healthier and cheaper than you might think.

    You sealed your most recent annual jar of trash on Oct. 15. You have it nearby; can you describe some of its contents?

    Every year, we have the bristles of our toothbrushes. We buy compostable toothbrushes, but the bristles are not compostable. I see some photo paper — it’s not recyclable — because my husband recently went through his memory box and let some photos go. I have caulking from the back of our sink that we replaced because it gets mouldy over time. Every year, we have fruit and veggie stickers. We can eliminate those if we shop at a farmers market, but sometimes we can’t go. We also have the foam pad of my son’s earphones, the gasket of a jar. Every year, we have the backing from our licence plate sticker, which is not recyclable; the backing of every sticker goes into the jar.

    And for everything else that you no longer need in your life, you are able to use your five Rs — Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot — rather than relegate those items to the trash. All the Rs must be used together, but is there one that’s most important for a zero-waste lifestyle?

    What’s very important is to follow them in order. The more you refuse, the less you have to reduce, the more you reduce, the less you have to reuse, etc. For us, zero-waste lifestyle is not all about recycling or composting, though that’s important. It’s actually about preventing waste from coming into our home in the first place. The first thing you can do to adopt a zero-waste lifestyle is to simply learn to say no. Today, in this consumerist society, we are the targets of many things. Every time we accept them, we are creating a demand to create more. By refusing these things, not only do we stop the demand for more to be created, but also we stop them from coming into your home and creating a trash problem.

    You’ve spoken all over the world and you insist that almost anybody can do this. But I’m sure not everyone is convinced. What is the most common protest you hear from skeptics and what is your advice to overcome it?

    There are a lot of misconceptions associated with this lifestyle. Ten years ago, if I had heard about a zero-waste family, I would have thought these people must be hippies, living in the woods, that this must be a stay-at-home mom with way too much time on her hands. This is not at all the truth. People also think this will cost a lot more and take too much time. But what we have found is the zero-waste lifestyle creates the opposite. It’s not just good for the environment, it’s also good for our health because we’ve been able to eliminate all toxic products from our life; we clean with white vinegar, on my face I use food items. This lifestyle is also saving us a huge amount of money. My husband made the calculation and found we are saving 40 per cent on our overall budget. More importantly, we found it has been saving us a huge amount of time.

    I can understand how adults can get behind this. What about your kids, do they find it more difficult to be zero-waste than you or your husband?

    My kids do not even notice. Kids actually have very simple needs. It’s the parents that complicate those needs. It’s the parents who consume for the household, who have the choice to either not consume or consume differently by buying food unpackaged or buying the necessities second-hand. Growing up zero-waste is like growing up with a certain diet or certain religion; you don’t question it, you take it for granted. You might only question it when you become an adult and you have to make those decisions yourself.

    So much of this goal is tied up with geography and opportunity. Here in Toronto, for example, there are food deserts, where people are forced to do the bulk of their shopping at convenience stores. Or in some parts of rural Ontario, recycling is limited. What are people who live in these places to do?

    If you think about the five Rs, they are applicable anywhere in the world. Zero-waste is not just about buying your food unpackaged. It’s about learning to say no to the things you don’t need. Anywhere in the world you can say no to the things that are handed out to you. The second rule is to reduce what you actually need. Of course, we need a roof over our head, a few pieces of furniture and some clothing. But it’s important to learn to let go; to let go of the things you don’t fully use or need to make them available to others. You can do that anywhere in the world. The third rule is to reuse. For us, that is swapping anything that is disposable for a reusable alternative. For example, using old t-shirts instead of paper towels or using reusable containers to buy your foods unpackaged.

    You’ve been living this lifestyle now for nine years. Do you and your family get closer and closer to zero-waste each year?

    I would say our trash output has been the same since 2010. We’re not producing less trash, we’re not producing more. It varies between a pint-size jar of trash to a quart-size jar a year. For us, zero-waste is completely normal and automatic. What was difficult (in the beginning) was to find a system that worked for us. At first, I got a little bit too wrapped up in homemaking; I made my own cheese, my own butter, my own soy milk until I realized that these were not solutions I could see myself doing for the rest of my life with two full-time jobs and a family of four at home. So we let go of those extremes and it took us two years to find a system that worked for us. What becomes easier over time is to learn to say no.

    This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

    Three tricky trash problems solved by Bea Johnson

    Toilet paper comes wrapped in plastic, which often can’t be recycled. What’s the zero-waste solution?

    I found that I can buy toilet paper from restaurant or hotel supply stores. It’s wrapped in paper, not plastic. Now this is a place that is not near me so when I go, I buy enough toilet paper to last me a really long time.

    Other bathroom things also seem tricky, such as menstrual products or condoms. What do you do with those?

    I now use a menstrual cup and there are also reusable napkins. I personally like the cup. It’s one of those items I wish I had known about earlier because now I realize I wasted a lot of money and lot of trash space with (menstrual products) in the past. As for condoms, we don’t use them. My kids are not sexually active yet and my husband and I don’t use them. However, this is something I am concerned about because I know my kids will become sexually active soon and it would be embarrassing if our jar of trash was filled with condom packaging. That said, there are reusable condoms.

    What about shoes? Even if you are in the habit of re-soling your shoes, there comes a time, despite your best efforts, when they wear out. What do you do?

    In the 10 years that we’ve lived this lifestyle, I’ve only had one problem like this. I had one pair of boots that I had re-soled, re-soled, re-soled by an awesome cobbler. Maybe three years ago, I made a hole in the toe and my cobbler said they were not repairable any more. So I thought, who would be interested in this material? I found, on Etsy, a woman who buys second-hand boots in order to make purses and different items. I contacted her and donated the boots.

    Bea Johnson is speaking in Toronto on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Church of the Holy Trinity. For tickets, go to zerowastehome.com.


    This family only produced enough waste in a year to fill a jarThis family only produced enough waste in a year to fill a jar

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    Activist investor Land & Buildings is calling for a special meeting of shareholders at Hudson’s Bay Company following the announced departure on Friday of chief executive officer Jerry Storch.

    “We are evaluating a number of proposals on which we believe the voices of shareholders should be heard – including the removal of directors from the Board – and will announce the full slate of proposals and next steps in the Special Meeting process shortly,” according to a statement by Jonathan Litt, founder and chief investment officer, Land & Buildings Investment Management, LLC.

    Late Friday afternoon, it was announced that Storch was stepping down as CEO at HBC to return to his advisory firm, Storch Advisors.

    Storch had been bullish on the future of department stores.

    HBC also announced Friday that Richard Baker, governor and executive chairman of HBC, would resume the duties of CEO – a position he previously held – on an interim basis.

    That wasn’t enough for Land & Buildings, which has been calling on HBC to find ways to surface the value of the real estate in its holdings.

    Hudson’s Bay real estate has been valued by the company at three times the current share price of $11.96, or $35 per share, according to Land & Buildings.

    “It is typical for undervalued and struggling companies such as Hudson’s Bay to try to position the exit of top executives as a reason for investors to give them more time to right the ship – while choosing to ignore the fact that the true decision makers and those at the Board level who have been complicit in the decision making remain in power. We believe this is what is happening at Hudson’s Bay. Jerry Storch is only the most recent casualty at the Company, joining several other senior executive departures including Paul Beesley, the Company’s former CFO, and Brian Pall, the Company’s former President, HBC Real Estate,” according to the statement from Land & Buildings.

    Officials at Land & Buildings and HBC could not be reached in time for comment on this story.


    Hudson’s Bay Company under fire after CEO Jerry Storch quitsHudson’s Bay Company under fire after CEO Jerry Storch quits

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    OTTAWA—Opposition critics are hammering Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s decision to retain shares in Morneau Shepell, the big pension firm he used to run, saying he faced a “minefield” of potential conflicts.

    Those may have included the Liberal government’s decision to financially back Bombardier last winter to the tune of $372.5 million in interest-free loans for its CSeries and Global 7000 aircraft programs.

    Morneau Shepell, which bills itself as Canada’s largest administrator of retirement and benefits plans, administers “some” group insurance and pension benefits for Bombardier, a knowledgeable source who declined to speak on the record told the Star. The contract has been in place for over a decade and there has been no substantial change since the 2015 election, the source said.

    Read more:

    Morneau gets chippy as the light is shone on his finances

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

    Two years in, Trudeau’s rookie ministers have accounted for much of the government’s grief: Hébert

    Neither Morneau Shepell nor Bombardier would discuss their contract, but Morneau Shepell’s copyright stamp is on the website portal for Bombardier employees to access information about their benefits.

    However, it is unclear whether Morneau participated in any of the government discussions around Ottawa’s repayable contribution for Bombardier or whether a so-called conflict-of-interest “screen” set up at the urging of the federal ethics commissioner Mary Dawson prevented Morneau from participating in those decisions.

    Dawson advised Morneau his chief of staff should act as his “screen” and advise when the minister cannot participate in discussions due to potential conflicts.

    Morneau’s office declined to answer directly whether Morneau participated in Bombardier discussions, and will only say the conflict-of-interest “screens” Dawson recommended “are in place and have been applied several times over the course of the last two years.”

    Dan Lauzon, communications director for Morneau, said “the screen protects against conflicts arising from dealings specifically with or related to Morneau Shepell, and each instance is reported directly to the Ethics commissioner.”

    Morneau said last Thursday he remembered “at least two times” being taken out of meetings, and was unaware of any requirement to report the recusals. There are no formal reports of “recusals” by Morneau published on Dawson’s website but the commissioner said Friday she only publishes instances when the screen fails to work in advance, and a minister has to step out of — or recuse from — a meeting or discussion.

    Morneau Shepell has worked with a range of clients in the public and private sectors. A news release from 2012 says the company had recently inked contracts to perform disability management services for Canada Post, provide pension administration technology to the Alberta government, and deliver pension administration services for small and mid-size clients through TD Bank.

    The Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which has been critical of the Trudeau government’s proposed tax changes for private corporations, offers its 109,000 members access to voluntary retirement savings plans designed by Morneau Shepell. CFIB spokesperson Andy Radia said the organization also has a workplace safety program with Morneau Shepell with “several thousand” participants in Quebec.

    The Toronto Sun reported Friday Morneau Shepell similarly administers insurance and benefits for Bank of Canada employees — an institution Morneau indirectly has influence over because he appoints people to its board. However, in that case the bank had signed off last February on a four-year extension of the contract with Morneau Shepell.

    Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre said in an interview it is “extremely troubling” Morneau continues to hold shares “in a company with some vast tentacles in the Canadian economy.”

    “He is the most powerful financial decision maker in the government. He controls $300 billion of expenditures. He is the shareholder of the Bank of Canada, sells bonds to banks and other financial institutions and is one of the people in the government who approves massive subsidies to businesses like Bombardier, for example. These vast powers mean he should have no vested interest in any individual publicly traded company.”

    NDP ethics critic Nathan Cullen said in an interview Morneau ought to have recused himself from any dealings or conversations about government support for Bombardier.

    “If Bombardier is getting a forgivable loan, it’s going to help Bombardier out; if Morneau Shepell’s working for Bombardier, then it’s helping Morneau Shepell out.”

    Cullen said even if it is unknown whether Morneau participated in any conversations about Bombardier, it shows the finance minister’s poor judgment at the outset to keep his interests in a company “that has dealings right across the government of Canada.”

    Cullen said it amounted to Morneau “making the decision that he was going to be dodging a conflict-of-interest minefield every day.”

    The NDP has also put forward a motion in the House of Commons calling on Morneau to apologize for misleading Canadians about how his private assets were handled.

    With a file from Jenna Moon


    Morneau Shepell ties to Bombardier flag ‘minefield’ for finance minister: Opposition criticsMorneau Shepell ties to Bombardier flag ‘minefield’ for finance minister: Opposition critics

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    The U.S. may have the “worst president” it’s ever had, but feminist icon Gloria Steinem says she has seen progress in her fight for equality.

    It was clear, though, throughout Steinem’s speech to an almost full house at the University of Toronto’s Convocation Hall that the work of challenging hierarchy is far from over.

    Slavery may have been abolished in the U.S., she said, but the racism that fuelled it hasn’t been addressed.

    Now in her 80s, Steinem has spent decades advocating for women’s rights and issues of equality around the world.

    Earlier in the day, she shared her experience with more than 600 students in Grades 7 to 12 at Toronto’s Branksome Hall, an all-girls private school, as part of its annual Rachel Phillips Belash speaker series, which features renowned women. Last year, Arianna Huffington addressed the students.

    This was the first year the school organized a complementary evening event open to the public.

    Throughout the evening, Steinem answered questions from both the audience and moderator Amanda Lang, a business journalist with Business News Network, entertaining and no doubt inspiring a rapt audience with her insights and dry sense of humour.

    Asked at one point what she thinks about the notion that women can have it all, Steinem said, “You can’t have it all if you have to do it all.”

    The structure of work is still set up for households with a sole male earner with someone at home cooking the meals, she said. “It’s not human nature to live in the hierarchical way we do,” she said.

    One solution is to give economic value to work in the home through tax deductions or refunds.

    For Grade 11 student Charley LaFayette, Steinem’s morning speech at Branksome Hall was “inspiring.”

    “I was mesmerized, it was phenomenal to see her speak. We were all so inspired,” she said. “It makes you feel like you need to do more.”

    The students were able to ask Steinem questions and LaFayette, who is a co-leader of the school’s gender studies club, asked about the effect U.S. President Donald Trump has had on women’s rights.

    Steinem, LaFayette said, told them that seeing someone who’s so against women’s rights has ignited a fire in both men and women and pushed them to start advocating for their rights.

    In that way, the movement has been strengthened, despite some concerning new bills, LaFayette said, recounting Steinem’s response to her question.

    “I really liked that answer,” she said, commenting on the optimistic way Steinem approaches her advocacy.

    “She’s very tenacious in the way that she fights for rights and the way that she advocates for women, but it’s also a very positive,” LaFayette said.


    Gloria Steinem on fighting Trump, and women ‘having it all’Gloria Steinem on fighting Trump, and women ‘having it all’

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    After 26 years, Roger Fowler finally has hope.

    The retired General Electric worker, who believes his cancer was caused by the two decades he spent working among toxic chemicals in the company’s Peterborough plant, received a call late last week saying his WSIB claim is being reviewed.

    But the roller-coaster ride he’s been on since the 1990s — having his claim turned down, being rejected again on appeal, then informed he would get a review, only to be told no because of the previous rejection — means the 71-year-old is still wary.

    Read more:

    Ailing GE Peterborough workers still waiting for justice, group says

    GE Peterborough plant was a symbol of opportunity. But did it make workers sick?

    WSIB to review more than 250 General Electric plant claims in Peterborough

    “After what I’ve been through, you can’t trust anybody until you see it in writing, or somebody calls me and says, ‘You are in,’ ” Fowler said in a telephone interview. “I’m worried in a hopeful way. I’m really nervous.”

    Fowler, a colorectal cancer survivor who worked at the plant for 22 years, is among hundreds of former employees between 1945 and 2000 who say their cancer or serious illness was a result of exposure to thousands of chemicals at the site.

    Their claims for compensation were earlier dismissed by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. But in recent months, new research has found they were exposed to the toxic substances at unsafe levels — and about 40 of those chemicals have been linked to cancer — so the board decided to reconsider some 250 cases that had previously been denied.

    The WSIB has since looked at 16 of those cases, and so far 10 of them have been overturned, with six denials upheld. The rest of the 250 claimants have been told to expect letters in the mail this week as the reviews get underway.

    “It’s taken a while to get to this point, but I think we’re doing it the right way because we are now going to see an orderly progression,” Labour Minister Kevin Flynn said.

    In the past, he added, “there were no claims being dealt with … when you look at how far this dates back, now that the WSIB is starting to move through the process in an orderly way … if they can keep this pace” all should be dealt with by the end of the year or early spring.

    Last week, Fowler was part of a group who came to Queen’s Park to say the Ministry of Labour was dragging its feet and failing to make good on promises, such as $2 million in funding for a specialized team based in Peterborough to help workers with their WSIB claims.

    In 2016, the Star chronicled the “lethal legacy” of the Peterborough plant and, earlier this year, a study by the Unifor union found an “epidemic” of workplace illnesses for those who worked at the plant up until 2000, when it was decontaminated.

    The GE Peterborough plant was the area’s largest employer, and made diesel locomotive engines, nuclear reactor fuel cells and hydro generators, as well as appliances and other items. Over its 125-year history, the plant has employed tens of thousands of workers, and GE has said health and safety has always been the company’s “No. 1 priority.”

    The WSIB says that since 1993, about 80 per cent of some 2,400 GE claims were allowed, though critics have said the number of approved cancer claims is just one-quarter. Given the new findings, the WSIB is now looking at more than 250 rejected claims and urging workers who haven’t yet put in a claim to come forward.

    The WSIB says it has received more than 60 calls in the past month, and 30 new claims are now being processed.

    “New scientific research and information from the community is helping to shed new light on the substances people were exposed to,” said Aaron Lazarus of the WSIB. “We are working to thoroughly review each claim as quickly as possible so that people have answers and the benefits they may be entitled to.”

    The additional cases that have come forward may be reviewed under a different, expedited process, Flynn has said, and advocates have been urging automatic approval.

    Last Thursday during question period, New Democrat MPP Cindy Forster (Welland) asked why the workers and their families haven’t yet received compensation. She noted that while the WSIB has been rejecting claims, it has continued to give businesses a cut in premiums.

    What the workers have gone through is tragic, added NDP Leader Andrea Horwath. “A lot of their colleagues have passed away over the years with terrible cancers and illnesses — it’s just horrifying.”

    She said the government needs to act much faster.

    “What they shouldn’t do is keep stringing them along,” she added. “What they shouldn’t do is give them false hope and make false promises and I think that’s why they are so frustrated — they really did believe that the government was going to step up to the plate and get the WSIB to proactively get these claims resolved and start ensuring that those who are left are able to get the compensation they deserve from the toxic exposures in the workplace.”


    GE Peterborough workers’ cancer cases get second lookGE Peterborough workers’ cancer cases get second look

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    “Dad, here’s Dellen.”

    From that winter day, maybe seven or eight years ago when his daughter introduced him to her date, standing in the doorway of their home, Clayton Babcock had never spoken to the young man again.

    Until Monday morning, in a downtown courtroom, with Babcock in the witness stand, recalling a daughter he last saw alive in June, 2012. No one has seen or heard from Laura Babcock in the past five years.

    The thin fellow asking the questions — lank brown hair, jeans resting on his bony hips, bookish spectacles — is Dellen Millard, on trial for first-degree murder in Laura’s presumed death.

    Read more:

    Laura Babcock killed for being odd woman out in love triangle, court hears

    What happened to Laura Babcock? Mystery leaves family in ‘a horrible situation’

    Laura Babcock: Can it be first-degree murder without a body?

    He is representing himself. Thus Millard could cross-examine Clayton Babcock, first witness called in a trial which is expected to last a couple of months. Just as if he were a real lawyer, afforded all the courtesies of the court and the witness compelled to answer, whatever thoughts may have been running through his mind, whatever he was feeling in his gut.

    “Are you nervous, sir?” Millard, who’s pleaded not guilty, asked, to begin the tense exchange.

    Yes, he was.

    Millard: “Do you find this difficult?”

    Babcock, tersely: “Getting better at it.”

    Millard: “This can’t be easy for you, being asked questions by me, considering I’m the accused. Does this make it extra difficult?”

    Babcock: “No.”

    But how could it not be? So much time has passed since Babcock’s last conversation with Laura, on the phone, June 30, 2012. Parents never stop grieving the loss of a child, though, made all the worse when there’s no body to lay to rest.

    She was 23 years old.

    And this man is accused of having done ghastly things to her.

    The prosecution maintains that Millard and co-accused Mark Smich killed Laura on July 3 or 4, 2012, mere days after she left her beloved Maltese dog, Lacey, and an envelope stuffed with about $1,000 at her parents’ home while they were attending a family function. While she was still nominally living at home, Laura had for months been “couch-surfing”, crashing with friends, unwilling to abide by her parents’ rules, but popping in and out.

    A few weeks later, according to the Crown’s narrative, the two defendants disposed of Laura’s body in an incinerator intended for animal carcasses, dubbed by its manufacturer “The Eliminator.”

    In her opening address to the jury Monday, Crown attorney Jill Cameron quoted from a July 23, 2012 text message Millard sent to Smich: “The BBQ is ready for meat.”

    Twenty days earlier, Millard had set a reminder in his iPhone calendar: “Barn smell check.”

    It is believed Laura Babcock was cremated inside a hangar at Millard’s rural property near Kitchener.

    The jury was shown photos of Smich standing in front of “The Eliminator” and of an object wrapped in a long blue tarp — taken on Millard’s phone July 4 — the inference that Laura’s 5-foot-10 body was contained within.

    During the opening, the jury also watched a short segment from a video (not yet introduced into evidence) which court was told was made in September of 2012, depicting Smich performing a rap song. But the lyrics, said Cameron, had been composed July 23 on an iPad which had recently been loaned to Laura by an ex-boyfriend.

    The lyrics:

    The bitch started off all skin and bone,

    Now the bitch lay on some ashy stone.

    Last time I saw her’s outside the home

    And if you go swimming you can’t find her phone.

    Smich — who at one point Monday asked for a break because he was feeling ill — has also pleaded not guilty. He has his own defence lawyer.

    Millard and Smich had been best friends.

    Not that motive is necessary but the prosecution has a theory for why Laura Babcock vanished: She was allegedly the odd-woman out in a three-way love triangle, had told his current girlfriend she was still sleeping with Millard — many years after they’d first briefly dated — and the other woman, Christina Noudga, was upset about it.

    “First I am going to hurt her. Then I’ll make her leave,” Millard texted Noudga in April, two months before Laura disappeared. “I will remove her from our lives.”

    He asked another friend to keep tabs on Laura. Then he sent a message to his mechanic. “Soon I’m gonna want you to put together a homemade incinerator.” By May 25, it was ready for a test run. From Smich to Millard, via text: “We gotta bring something with bones in it.”

    Turns out the jerry-rigged thing allegedly didn’t work to their satisfaction. So Millard instructed his mechanic to buy a commercial version, paying $15,000 for it.

    There were so many dreadful details coming fast and furious on Day 1 of the trial that the core of it — a murdered woman — was almost obscured.

    Clayton Babcock tried his best to put some flesh on the bones — bones which have never been found.

    Laura, he said, was a bubbly young woman who had graduated from the University of Toronto and had ambitions of becoming an actress. Theirs was a happy family, he insisted, playing games together, taking trips; Laura and her dad even watched Say Yes to the Dress together.”

    Until things began to fall apart in 2011. She began rebelling against what he considered modest restrictions and, simultaneously, indications of mental health issues arose. “We couldn’t figure it out. She seemed agitated, couldn’t sit still.”

    Laura saw several therapists. “Nobody could pinpoint what was wrong with her. But you could tell she was not herself.”

    His daughter started spending nights away, claiming she was at her sorority house or with girlfriends. “She would never be gone for any length of time without letting us know where she was.”

    Laura’s peripatetic habits by 2012 — and a claim to her parents in late June that she was likely going away on a trip — was why the family waited for about a week before reporting her missing to police, her father explained.

    What Clayton Babcock didn’t know — and court heard Monday — was that Laura had begun working for an escort agency after breaking up with a yearlong boyfriend over the Christmas holiday in 2011. She seems to have been partying hard and doing drugs, running with the wrong crowd.

    The disintegration — like her manic mood swings — happened rapidly.

    On cross-examination, Millard attempted to allege figment of a happy home, picking up on the witness’s evidence that the Babcocks had their locks changed during the period when Laura was coming and going.

    “It wasn’t done to keep Laura out,” countered Babcock, noting that his daughter knew where the spare key was kept.

    Millard pivoted. “You’ve met me before?”

    Babcock: “Yes. You seemed decent. You stood there not much dissimilar to now. And then you left.”

    Millard: “Did she ever tell you she worked as a prostitute?”

    No, she had not.

    Millard: “You said she had a bubbly personality?”

    Babcock, glaring: “Would you say she didn’t?”

    Justice Michael Code directed Babcock to just answer Millard’s questions. He also admonished Millard for repetitive questions.

    Millard: “Did you ever hit her, abuse her in any way?”

    Babcock: “No I didn’t. It just wasn’t in my nature. Hitting my daughter is repugnant.”

    Millard suggested that Babcock was there to “give us a happy perfect image of the family in your home.”

    The witness acknowledged there were stresses, especially as his daughter’s personality shifted and she cast about for a cause.

    “I was really happy with our family. It was a good family. I was blessed for 53 years. And then this happened. So, I’m not as happy now.”

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


    Dreadful details come fast and furious on Day 1 of trial into Laura Babcock’s murder: DiMannoDreadful details come fast and furious on Day 1 of trial into Laura Babcock’s murder: DiManno

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    OTTAWA—Caitlan Coleman, the 31-year-old American woman who gave birth to her three children while held hostage by the Haqqani network, says she is breaking her silence to dispute statements made about her family’s captivity and the day they were rescued.

    “Right now everybody’s shunting blame and making claims. Pakistan says, no they were never in Pakistan, until the end. The U.S. says, no they were always in Pakistan; it was Pakistan’s responsibility. But neither of those are true,” she told the Star.

    During her first interview Monday since being rescued 12 days ago, Coleman added crucial details about the kidnapping case that has captured international attention and led to widespread speculation.

    While she said she is not ready to speak publicly about all aspects of her captivity, she is certain they were held in both Afghanistan and Pakistan and claims made by Islamabad and Washington, that they were rescued Oct. 11 after crossing the border are false. “We were not crossing into Pakistan that day. We had been in Pakistan for more than a year at that point.”

    Read more:

    After a lifetime in captivity, the children of Joshua Boyle and Caitlan Coleman begin to heal

    ‘We’re looking forward to a new lease on life,’ Joshua Boyle tells the Star after five-year kidnapping nightmare

    What we know about the rescue of Canadian Joshua Boyle, his wife and their three children in Pakistan

    Coleman was kidnapped with her husband, Joshua Boyle, a Canadian, in October 2012 in Afghanistan. They were held for five years by the Taliban-linked Haqqani network before their dramatic rescue by Pakistani forces. She was pregnant when she was taken captive.

    Until reaching out to the Star, Coleman has shunned publicity, with the exception of Saturday night emails to her hometown paper about her memories of growing up in Pennsylvania. “Good friends and great times are not forgotten, even now,” she wrote to the York Daily Record.

    Her 34-year-old husband, however, began speaking just hours after landing in Toronto, telling journalists at the airport that his wife had been raped and one of his daughters murdered.

    His statement confirmed what the couple had darkly alluded to in letters and “proof-of-life” videos the captors released. Coleman said she had been “defiled” in front of her children and Boyle wrote vaguely of a terminated pregnancy.

    Coleman said Monday that the forced abortion was in retaliation for Boyle’s refusal of Haqqani network efforts to recruit him. “They were very angry because Joshua had been asked to join them, to work for them, and he said no,” she said. “They killed her by dosing the food. They put massive doses of estrogen in the food.”

    High levels of estrogen in a pregnancy can force a miscarriage and Coleman says once she lost her baby, whom the couple named “Martyr,” the kidnappers boasted about what they had done.

    The Taliban last week issued a statement refuting the claim, saying she miscarried naturally.

    Coleman said they kept her other two pregnancies secret, and Boyle delivered both her youngest son and daughter by flashlight as she quietly laboured in pain.

    Coleman spoke to the Star Monday alone on the grounds of Ottawa’s Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, as her husband cared for their sons, who are 4 and 2.

    All three of her children, including her months-old daughter, who slept in her lap for part of the interview, have been undergoing tests at the hospital and still adapting to a life free from captivity, which includes trips to a playground on the property. Coleman was also receiving medical attention but said she had been recovering.

    She said she’s aware of criticism on social media and elsewhere calling both her and Boyle reckless for travelling in Afghanistan while she was pregnant and then getting pregnant three more times while captive.

    “It was a decision we made. We did think about it and talk about it and it’s difficult to explain all the reasons, but, for me, a large part was the fact that it has always been important to me to have a large family,” she said. “This took our life away from us — this captivity with no end in sight. And so I felt that it was our best choice at that time. We didn’t know if we would have that opportunity when we came back. We didn’t know how long it would be. It was already unprecedented, so we couldn’t say, ‘Oh we’ll only be here a year or six months.’ ”

    During the interview, she at times laughed at the ridiculousness of a memory — at other times she grew quiet or simply said, “No comment.” She has continued to wear a hijab since returning to Canada but declined Monday to speak about whether she has converted to Islam.

    The couple’s willingness to talk so early after their harrowing ordeal is part of what makes this story unique, along with the fact that Boyle was once married to Zaynab Khadr, the sister of former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr. Canadian Colin Rutherford, who was released in January 2016 after five years in captivity, has still not spoken publicly about his captivity. Amanda Lindhout, who spent 460 days held hostage in Somalia before her release in 2009, would eventually write a bestselling book and give talks about her survival. But she was hospitalized and underwent intense therapy — which she continues today — for many years before speaking openly.

    But Coleman said she hoped by speaking out she could help temper the politicking that is shaping the narrative of their kidnapping and rescue.

    Pakistan’s army issued a statement hours after the young family was freed and safe in Islamabad that claimed they were alerted by U.S. agencies that the kidnappers were crossing from Afghanistan, at the Kurram Agency border, into the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in northwestern Pakistan.

    The next day, U.S. President Donald Trump hailed the rescue as “a positive moment for our country’s relationship with Pakistan.”

    “The Pakistani government’s co-operation is a sign that it is honouring America’s wishes for it to do more to provide security in the region,” he said in a statement.

    For some, the rescue was hailed as deft diplomacy and a direct line drawn from Trump’s hardline stance with Pakistan this summer, when he threatened that Islamabad had “much to lose” if it failed to co-operate on security issues in neighbouring Afghanistan.

    Coleman said they were moved quickly from Afghanistan to Pakistan after being kidnapped and the first six or seven months were among the most difficult.

    “They first took us out of Afghanistan; it was several days’ drive. They took us to Miran Shah, in Pakistan, where we were kept for more than a year,” she said, adding that Boyle understood some Farsi, which helped them understand at times where they were. “It was very bad. My husband and I were separated at that time. He wasn’t allowed to see Najaeshi or spend any time with us.”

    They named their oldest son Najaeshi Jonah.

    “Then we were moved to the north of Miran Shah, to the house of a man who said he was called Mahmoud. He was very nice to Najaeshi and would provide us with amenities we wouldn’t have otherwise,” she said. “He would take Najaeshi out to get him sunlight and nobody else did that at any other point.”

    In 2014 and 2015, the family was moved often. It was during this time, Coleman says, she had the forced abortion and was raped. “We had a pen they didn’t know about and we were taking little scraps of paper and trying to hand out notes to anyone and everyone that wasn’t one of the guards or commanders involved in killing Martyr,” she said. “But then they took us, separated us, and beat us and that was when the assault on me happened because they wanted us to stop.”

    From there, she says, they were moved to Spin Ghar, just over the border in Afghanistan, southeast of Kabul. They were often drugged for the transport and put in the trunk of a vehicle.

    “They were always saying you’ll go free in one week or two weeks and this was one of the times they said, ‘We’re going to this new place and one day, two day, maybe a week, you go free, you’re released.’ ”

    They gave the houses nicknames, so the Spin Ghar home became “House of One Day.” They were there for months.

    “Then they built a custom-built house for us. It was still close, in Spin Ghar. It was not good, not bad. It had problems, but no big problems … After that, we just stayed in a house for a short time, a day or two, because they were clearly running from something. One of them we called Dar el Fake Osama because one of their small commanders came but he was yelling that he was Osama bin Laden and we had to do everything he said,” Coleman said, shaking her head. “It was so bizarre.”

    In a place they called the Cat Hotel, as they believed it was a hotel, they could see the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. It was there that Coleman says the kidnappers acquired a “jingle truck,” one of the brightly painted trucks adorned with bells that are ubiquitous on Pakistan’s roads. They were taken back into Pakistan in an area between Kohat and Bannu, she said.

    They spent their final months there in what they called “Dar el Musa” (House of Musa). “Outside every day they were doing some training, or something was going on, and some guy was shouting and we laughed because whoever Musa was, he was not doing a good job,” she said. “He was always yelling, ‘No, no, no, Musa Musa.’ ”

    She said they were held mainly in that house from about November 2016 until just two days before the rescue, when they were transferred to “the Mud House,” where the windows were covered with wet, packed dirt.

    On Oct. 11, Coleman said, she was put in the trunk of the kidnappers’ car, after which some sort of car chase and gun battle broke out before they were freed.

    “Our first fear — why we were not poking our heads up and yelling for help — was our fear that it was another gang trying to kidnap us. Possibly just part of the Haqqani network fighting with another part. They’re all just bandits,” she said.

    “You’re a prisoner for so long, you’re so suspicious, I was still thinking we don’t know these people, we don’t know where they’re taking us.”

    When she finally realized they were Pakistani forces and she was free, she doesn’t remember breaking down, or exactly how she reacted.

    “I think I was mostly just in shock.”


    In first sit-down interview, Caitlan Coleman tells of forced abortion, disputes official account of her rescue in PakistanIn first sit-down interview, Caitlan Coleman tells of forced abortion, disputes official account of her rescue in Pakistan

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    The Ontario government has come to the rescue of overwhelmed hospitals with more money and beds — just as flu season is starting and pressure on the sector is growing even greater.

    Health Minister Eric Hoskins announced Monday that $100 million is being spent to open 1,235 hospital beds throughout the province. In Toronto, the plan includes reopening and repurposing two shuttered hospital sites: the University Health Network’s former Hillcrest site and Humber River Hospital’s former Finch site.

    The 1,235 new hospital beds are the equivalent of six medium-sized hospitals.

    Read more:

    Far too many hospital beds occupied by patients who don’t need to be there: report

    Health minister pledges more help to ease hospital overcrowding

    Will Finch Ave. site of old Humber River hospital reopen?

    “That will have a tremendous impact,” Hoskins said, noting that hospitals today are accepting more patients who are staying longer, particularly those who are vulnerable and aging.

    The Finch site of Humber River is being turned into a 150-bed rehabilitation facility, renamed the Reactivation Care Centre.

    Among the services to be provided at the Hillcrest site are some offered by community agencies, aimed at keeping patients out of long-term care and helping them return home, where they would rather be.

    Hoskins said some of the new beds will open in as soon as two weeks while all of the initiatives will roll out by the end of the calendar year.

    An additional $40 million is being spent on home care to prevent people from being admitted to hospital in the first place and to care for others after they have been discharged.

    Much of the announcement is aimed at moving “alternate-level-of-care patients” out of the hospital. They are typically seniors who no longer require acute hospital care and are waiting for long-term care, rehabilitation care or home care.

    For example, the ministry is helping to fund 207 affordable housing units for seniors who require additional community supports when after being discharged.

    Anthony Dale, president of the Ontario Hospital Association, welcomed the announcement.

    “Today’s announcement of a surge strategy will help address the unusual capacity challenge that hospitals and the wider health-care system is facing, in the short term,” he said, adding that it will allow for greater flexibility in dealing with what is expected to be a tough flu season.

    Because Australia has had a worse-than-normal flu season, it is expected that North America will also.

    “This winter, ongoing, extremely close collaboration and hospitals, government and the home and community sectors is essential – perhaps more than ever,” Dale continued, echoing Hoskins’s call for Ontarians to get a flu shot.

    This past year has been a particularly tough one for hospitals. They were forced to open beds in“unconventional spaces” such as meeting rooms to handle the large volume.

    Many of the province’s 143 hospitals were well over 100 per cent full last winter, and for some, the demand has not subsided.

    “While it is normal to see an increase in patient volumes in winter months, it is uncommon, if not unheard of, during the summer,” Dale said.

    Hoskins’s announcement comes just days after the release of Health Quality Ontario’s annual report, Measuring Up 2017, which highlighted “hospital capacity” as a significant problem in the province.

    The organization, which monitors the performance of Ontario’s health system, noted that patients spent on average 90 minutes longer in the ER this past year before being admitted to inpatient beds.

    It also warned that wait times are increasing for hip-and-knee replacement surgery.

    In question period on Monday, New Democrat MPP Gilles Bisson (Timmins—James Bay) said the government has underfunded hospitals for too long. He accused the government of taking steps now only because there is a crisis and because an election is coming next year.

    The Ontario Health Coalition said the government’s plan is only a “temporary band-aid” solution.

    “Ontario needs a long-term plan to rebuild capacity in our public hospitals to meet population need,” said coalition executive director Natalie Mehra.

    Ontario has been cutting hospital beds for decades to the point that it has the fewest beds in Canada per 1,000 population, and among the fewest in the developed world, she said.

    The coalition charges that the province is shrinking the publicly funded hospital sector while expanding health-care privatization.

    With files by Robert Benzie


    Hospitals getting more beds, more fundingHospitals getting more beds, more funding

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  • 10/24/17--21:06: Article 7

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    A federal judge has slammed the Canadian government for not responding faster to a lawsuit launched by five intelligence officers and analysts who allege that they were bullied and harassed while working at Canada’s spy service because they are gay, Muslim or Black.

    “You can’t act as if the Court is not there,” Justice Simon Noël told Department of Justice lawyers during a September teleconference call regarding the case.

    The Star obtained a redacted transcript of the call, which was filed with the federal court this week.

    “(T)here is a course of action to be followed and you are no different from any other parties in Canada,” Noël said. “It is not because you are the Attorney General of Canada that you can act as if the Rules do no apply. This is not acceptable.”

    At issue is the government’s delay in filing a statement of defence regarding the $35-million lawsuit, which provided detailed accusations from inside one of the country’s most secretive organizations.

    The 54-page statement claim was filed in July and alleges that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service is run like an “old boys’ club,” creating a toxic work environment. One email cited in the claim, allegedly sent by a manager to a Toronto intelligence officer reads: “Careful your Muslim in-laws don’t behead you in your sleep for being homo.” The complainant, who goes by the pseudonym “Alex,” is gay and has a Muslim partner.

    Read more:Five CSIS employees are accusing the spy agency of Islamophobia, racism and homophobia in a $35-million lawsuit

    A statement of defence is usually filed after 30 days unless an extension is granted. Department of Justice lawyer Gillian Patterson told the judge that there was a misunderstanding about filing deadlines.

    Noël shot back, “give me a break,” later stating, “I think there is something unusual happening here, and I am polite in my language.”

    While the Department of Justice may be slow to respond, reaction from CSIS’s director to the allegations was swift.

    David Vigneault had only been on the job leading the spy service for a few weeks when news broke about the lawsuit. He quickly issued a statement saying CSIS does “not tolerate harassment.”

    Soon after, he invited the five complainants and their lawyer to his office.

    According to those who attended, he listened intently for nearly three hours, as boxes of Kleenex were shared around the table.

    “It was unprecedented quite frankly for us to be invited in to talk,” said “Alex,” one of the five complainants, who alleges he had tried unsuccessfully for nearly four years to have his concerns addressed. “He listened. It was very heartfelt.”

    Alex and “Bahira,” a Muslim intelligence officer with more than a decade of experience who is also part of the claim against CSIS, agreed to speak with the Star on the condition that their identities were not revealed. In both court documents, and during the interview last month, they used pseudonyms.

    Under Canada’s Security of Information Act, identifying a spy can be considered an offence.

    All five of the complainants are still CSIS employees, but are on medical leave due to mental and physical conditions.

    “Some of them are not being paid anymore; they were on disability, some are no longer being paid their disability amounts,” their lawyer John Phillips told Justice Noël on the conference call. “And I know things don’t move at a quick pace in litigation, but they need to have a resolution of this case.”

    None of the allegations against CSIS, which was recognized by Mediacorp Canada Inc. as one of Canada’s top 100 employers for 2017, have been proven in court.

    Justice Noël has given the government until Friday to submit a statement of defence. According to the transcript of the Sept. 13 call with Noël, the government is attempting to “resolve the claim.”

    Alex and Bahira said the stress of suing CSIS and the publicity it has generated has taken a toll. In the only interviews they have given, they said they felt they had no choice but to sue in order to get the attention of the government.

    Both said they were optimistic after their meeting this summer with the director. “That was our hope. He’s going to take care of this. He’s a new fresh face, hopefully not supportive of the managers who refuse to do anything about this,” Bahira said. “So we had hope and we waited week after week.”

    “I’ve worked hard in the last 15 years and I’ve done some incredible work for them,” Bahira said as she began to cry. “I wanted my legacy to be the first Muslim hijabi who fought for her country and contributed. They robbed me of that. My legacy is Bahira, the discriminated, the victim … I feel betrayed; I feel angry. Something is wrong when someone like me can’t walk into that building.”

    Bahira said she was often praised during her performance evaluations for having “unique access” in the Muslim communities where she worked. “I understood the culture, I understood the background. I know a lot about religion and can talk about it with credibility,” she said about her work on the counterterrorism file concerning extremist groups recruiting Muslims. “I was able to build trust and credibility, to have a son report on a father, and a father report on his son, or a mother compel her son to sit down and talk to me.”

    But inside CSIS, she claims managers regarded her with suspicion once she began wearing a hijab in 2004. “I still remember going home and wanting to cry my eyes out at time, thinking, ‘Why is this so hard because it’s not me, I get along with people … colleagues seem to have respect for me,’ ” she told the Star. “It’s what I represented and I knew I couldn’t do anything about it … no senior manager is going to stand up for me.”

    Alex alleges that he had tried since 2013 to get his concerns addressed inside CSIS and never wanted to go public. In 2016, he launched a formal complaint that resulted in a “third-party” investigation. According to the statement of claim, the investigation noted that CSIS was “old school” and that employee complaints about managers were “dismissed and disregarded.”

    But Alex said no action was taken about the report’s findings and his situation got worse. “So who was punished? No one. Come back to work now, and by the way, you get to report back to your accused. Oh, and you’re not going to be in your plum position anymore,” he said. “My career was done by that point.”

    Read more:Read the explosive allegations of Islamophobia, racism and homophobia levelled against Canada’s spy agency


    Judge slams Ottawa for delays over $35-million CSIS lawsuit alleging workplace Islamophobia, racism and homophobiaJudge slams Ottawa for delays over $35-million CSIS lawsuit alleging workplace Islamophobia, racism and homophobia

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    Toronto police issued a handful of warnings about the risks of social media for teens at a town hall event Tuesday that drew more than 50 concerned parents and residents to Rosedale United Church.

    The event, organized by the North Rosedale and neighbouring residents associations, was an opportunity for the community to discuss safety and social media use among midtown teenagers following a series of park parties in the neighbourhood that turned violent.

    Staff Sgt. James Hogan of Toronto Police’s 53 Division said slower response time to complaints about noisy parties is largely a result of stretched resources. The police spend thousands of hours responding to mental health calls, which is important he noted, but can tie them up for hours at hospital because they can’t hand over custody. Those types of things can delay response to events like noisy parties, which he described as a mid-priority call.

    Read more:

    Toronto’s Gossip Girl website scrutinized after ‘Rosedale Jam’ park party stabbing

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    However, police responded to a call about a robbery that took place at one park party this fall in five minutes, he said.

    Providing as much information about a call can help police determine its priority listing. A call about drug use or intoxicated or unconscious teenagers will be given a higher priority than one about a noisy party, Hogan said.

    “We can’t be effective if we don’t know what we need to know,” he said.

    While teen parties themselves are nothing new, both Hogan and his colleague, Const. Alex Li, who works in crime prevention and community relations at 53 Division, said news of parties can spread much further through social media.

    “The internet and social media have no boundaries,” Li said, adding that people with even a little tech savvy can find out where they are and people from outside the local area are making their way there.

    “I am concerned about it,” said Victoria Elliott, who brought her 13-year old son, Kalen Gibbons, to the event with her so he could hear what the police and others had to say.

    “When you hear of a child being stabbed who’s only 15 in your neighbourhood, yeah that’s a little bit worrisome I would say,” Elliott said, noting she has two older stepdaughters who used to attend parties in Rosedale and the ravine.

    “They said there were a lot of kids who would be really messed up,” she said.

    “As a parent, especially now with social media you don’t always know where they are, they can tell one friend about something and then the next thing you know a hundred of those people’s friends and other friends end up showing up,” she said, adding she wished more teens had come to event Tuesday evening.

    A handout provided at the town hall shows the number of robberies in the Rosedale-Moore neighbourhood in the last year has increased. By this time last year 12 robberies had taken place, versus 19 this year, a 58 per cent increase. The number of break-and-enters and assaults have also increased by 18 and 5 per cent respectively. The year-over-year rate of reported sexual assault, meanwhile, decreased by 50 per cent and auto theft went down 60 per cent.

    Jessica Green, who runs a public relations company, offered tips for how to use social media safely and positively.

    Always think before you post, she said. Ask yourself is it true? Is it helpful? Is it inspiring? Is it necessary? And finally, is it kind?

    Nothing on social media can ever be truly deleted, she said, adding they’re either stored on a server somewhere or may have been screen-capped.

    “We can see how deleting tweets has worked for Donald Trump,” she said. “Not so well.”

    The town-hall followed a series of parties in the area that resulted in robberies and other criminal activity, including one that local teen gossip site Miss Informed dubbed the “Rosedale Jam” on Sept. 16.

    Several emergency calls were made that night from the Rosedale Park area reporting stabbings, assaults, robberies and unconscious teens. The party had been advertised across social media.

    The suspects include eight to 10 teens wearing hoodies and bandanas across their faces and police believe they’ve attended several parties to conduct similar robberies.

    Fifteen-year-old Isaiah Witt was stabbed and killed at another party on Oct. 7 at Stan Wadlow Park, which police confirmed Tuesday is being investigated as part of their larger investigation into park parties in the area. Four men were arrested and two men aged 18 and 19 are facing second-degree murder charges.

    A statement posted to Miss Informed on Friday said though the site doesn’t take responsibility for the parties, it wouldn’t be posting about the events anymore.

    With files from Victoria Gibson, Samantha Beattie, and Tamar Harris


    Toronto police warn of social media risks for teens after string of parties turn violentToronto police warn of social media risks for teens after string of parties turn violent

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    OTTAWA—Finance Minister Bill Morneau says he “of course” participated in government discussions around the decision to give Bombardier’s C Series and Global 7000 aircraft programs a $372.5-million repayable loan last winter.

    Morneau dismissed as absurd comments made to the Star by Opposition critics that he should have recused himself from those discussions since he continued to hold shares in Morneau Shepell, which has the contract to run some, but not all, of Bombardier’s pension regimes.

    Morneau Shepell, the company the finance minister used to run, is one of Canada’s largest administrators of pension and benefits plans, a point underlined by Morneau.

    Read More:

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    In brief comments to the Star in a lockup for reporters on his fall economic update, Morneau said that when he stepped down as executive chairman of the company after he was elected in November 2015, Morneau Shepell had some 20,000 clients across Canada.

    He suggested he didn’t know all of the corporate clients, and a communications adviser standing with him added that in any event the conflict of interest screen that Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson had urged upon him was in place.

    That screen, Morneau’s office said on Monday, “protects against conflicts arising from dealings specifically with or related to Morneau Shepell, and each instance is reported directly to the Ethics commissioner.”

    A source told the Star that Bombardier’s contract with Morneau Shepell to administer benefits for some of its workers has been in place for more than a decade and there has been no substantial change since the 2015 election.

    Neither Morneau Shepell nor Bombardier would discuss their contract.

    Morneau says he remembered “at least two times” being taken out of meetings, and was unaware of any requirement to report the recusals. Dawson’s office confirmed to the Star Tuesday that Morneau’s office has reported no recusals to it.

    Dawson only publishes “recusals” or instances when the screen fails to work in advance to prevent the minister’s participation in a discussion in which he could have a conflict of interest — and he has to step out of, or recuse, from the discussion.

    Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre said in an interview Tuesday Morneau “exposed himself to a long list of real or perceived conflicts of interest” in hanging onto his $20 million in Morneau Shepell shares, and the Bombardier loan raises concerns in his view.

    “When a finance minister forks over $372 million to a corporation like Bombardier, Canadians deserve to know he’s doing it in their interests, not because of some other unknown reason.”

    “The Bombardier bailout has turned into an absolute disaster,” Poilievre said. “Since it was announced, the executives have given themselves pay increases and they’re laying off 14,000 people. Now, we learn that their most cherished plane is being sold off to European investors.” (Airbus is taking a controlling interest in Bombardier’s C Series program, with no money or debt exchanging hands.)

    “It’s very hard to see how all of this handout to Bombardier was in the public interest. So whose interests were involved in this terrible decision?”

    NDP ethics critic Nathan Cullen echoed similar concerns.

    “I’m not sure what’s worse: the transgression or refusing to admit there was a problem in the first place.”

    “When it appears to be a conflict to everybody else except the person involved, you know you have a problem with the person involved and with the so-called ethical screen you could drive a truck through. He receives benefit from the decisions he’s making. He’s involved in conversations that he should not be involved in,” said Cullen, adding Morneau refuses to answer whether he was recused on C27 (a pension reform bill).

    Last week, Morneau announced he would place his all his assets in a blind trust and move to sell some one million Morneau-Shepell shares — worth about $20.6 million and held by an Alberta numbered corporation — in an arm’s length transaction under the guidance of Dawson.

    He meets with her Wednesday to discuss his next steps in that process, he told CBC.


    Bill Morneau dismisses objections to his participation in Bombardier loan discussionsBill Morneau dismisses objections to his participation in Bombardier loan discussions

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    For two tense minutes on Sunday night, an Air Canada flight bound for San Francisco mysteriously went silent.

    Fearing there was another plane on the runway, an air traffic controller frantically instructed the plane to abort landing. The order was issued six times. Each time, Air Canada did not respond.

    A supervisor was then dispatched to flash a red light gun towards the jet to try to get the pilot’s attention in a desperate bid to alert the crew not to land.

    The plane landed anyway — at 9:26 p.m. local time. The pilot explained they were having a problem with their radio.

    “That’s pretty evident,” the controller at San Francisco International Airport responded.

    Details of the incident involving Air Canada Flight 781 from Montreal were heard in a recording posted on the website LiveATC.net , and recounted by the Federal Aviation Administration.

    It’s the second time in three months Air Canada has come under fire for an improper landing at the same airport. Sunday’s flight involving an Airbus A320 is being investigated by Canadian and U.S. aviation officials for a serious communication failure.

    “I don’t understand it,” said Greg McConnell, chairman of the Canadian Federal Pilots Association. “If air traffic control tells you to pull up and go around that’s a directive and you simply do it.”

    After this incident, McConnell believes Canada should conduct an audit of the aviation industry, “before something catastrophic happens.”

    FAA spokesman Ian Gregor told the Star in an email the inbound Flight AC781 was initially cleared for landing — this instruction was acknowledged by the crew when they were approximately 10 kilometres away from the airport.

    Peter Fitzpatrick, an Air Canada spokesperson, also said the flight proceeded to land normally, after receiving proper clearance to do so.

    “Upon landing, the crew was informed the tower had attempted unsuccessfully to contact the aircraft,” he said in an email to the Star. “However the message was not received by the crew.”

    Gregor said a radar replay showed the previous arrival was clear of the runway when the Air Canada flight landed.

    “I find it very strange that an aircraft that’s been cleared to land on the runway suddenly has some kind of radio failure,” said McConnell.

    McConnell, and Ross Aimer, CEO of Aero Consulting Experts, explained that modern aircrafts have two or three radios working at all time in a plane: a primary, a secondary, and a back up.

    “[Pilots] try to maintain a very strict radio discipline,” said Aimer. “When I don’t hear a transmission within 30 seconds in a very busy airport like San Francisco, like Toronto, I know something’s wrong.”

    McConnell agreed. “Generally you switch to the other radio,” he said. “If you notice there are no radio transmissions being made, you simply call for radio check.” McConnell said this was part of a pilot’s standard protocol.

    Aimer hypothesizes that this may have been “a man-made failure.”

    “Perhaps, they may have inadvertently switched their frequency to the ground control, for example,” he said. “Radios these days don’t fail that easy unless we mess with it.”

    In an emailed statement to the Star, Chris Praught, spokesperson for the Air Canada Pilots Association, said the flight crew is working with the FAA to determine what happened.

    Transport Canada has also been made aware of the incident. In an emailed statement, they told the Star they are “in contact with Air Canada to establish facts and verify compliance with safety regulations.”

    In July, at the same airport, an Air Canada jet with 140 people on board nearly landed on a taxiway where four other planes were waiting to depart, avoiding a near catastrophic collision.

    In that instance, the flight mistook the taxiway for a runway and pulled up and missed two planes by just 30 metres.

    “Perhaps this is systemic in nature,” said McConnell. “With the frequency with which these things are happening, perhaps it’s time for a full-scale assessment and audit.”

    In June, the federal government’s Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities released a report on aviation safety in Canada and made 14 recommendations asking Transport Canada to make a thorough review of flight training, safety inspections, and pilot certifications.

    One recommendation asks Transport Canada to “invite the International Civil Aviation Organization to conduct a comprehensive audit of Canada’s civil aviation oversight system.”

    Transport Canada agrees with this recommendation and has planned the audit for 2020.


    Aviation officials investigating after Air Canada flight landed despite being repeatedly told to abortAviation officials investigating after Air Canada flight landed despite being repeatedly told to abort

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    “You don’t like me, do you?”

    It probably would not have required being under oath for Shawn Lerner to give an honest answer.

    “No.”

    Lawyers don’t give a fig whether witnesses under cross-examination like them or not. It’s an adversarial process.

    But Dellen Millard, who is representing himself in court, is one of the two defendants on trial for first-degree murder in the death of Laura Babcock, whose remains have never been found.

    Read more: Laura Babcock murder trial hears of her struggles with drugs, mental health

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    Laura Babcock killed for being odd woman out in love triangle, court hears

    The prosecution says Millard and Mark Smich killed her five years ago, then disposed of the young woman’s body in an incinerator.

    “You find me sketchy.”

    More a declaration than a question but Lerner responded. Yes, he does.

    When Babcock went missing in early July, 2012, it was Lerner, her former boyfriend, who raised the alarm.

    Just as it had been Lerner, still fond of his ex in a close friend way, who put Babcock up in a west end Toronto motel for a couple of nights, just before her vanishing, because she had nowhere to stay, had been couch-surfing and quarrelling with her parents. And, as Lerner discovered when they met for dinner at a food court — the last time he saw the 23-year-old alive, their final texts exchanged on July 1 — had been working for an escort service.

    It was Lerner, too, who loaned Babcock an iPad that night — the same device on which investigators would later find rap lyrics which appear to allude to her murder. “The bitch started off all skin and bone, now the bitch lay on some ashy stone . . . ” In a brief video segment shown to the jury earlier this week, Smich is seen singing that repugnant ditty.

    Both Smich and Millard have pleaded not guilty.

    The last eight phone calls Babcock made on her phone were to Millard, Lerner told court. He learned this when examining the phone bill that Babcock’s mother had given them after family and friends became deeply worried about her unknown whereabouts. After those calls to Millard’s number, there was no further activity on her phone.

    In the early days of Babcock’s disappearance, Lerner testified, police seemed not to take the matter seriously. Just another missing adult — most of them show up eventually. When Lerner provided details of Babcock’s life — the escort connection, her drug use, the bizarre behaviour over recent months — police interest waned further.

    But Lerner, who’d dated Babcock for about 18 months — they’d broken up around Christmas, 2011 — would not let it rest. Indeed, he ended up making a formal complaint about the investigation to the Office of Independent Police Review Director.

    If there is an admirable individual in the whole sordid and grim mess that has been unfolding in court, it’s Lerner.

    He cared.

    A 27-year-old businessman by profession, he turned himself into an amateur sleuth.

    Lerner knew Babcock’s phone password so he accessed it for messages, a clue. He created a group page on her Facebook account to share information with friends — he’d retrieved their names — anything to assemble a trail. Nobody had heard from her. Babcock, who had been keenly active on social media, had gone silent.

    Crucially, Lerner called Millard. “I’m not looking to point a finger at anyone,” Lerner texted, “but we’re concerned about Laura and it looks like you were the last person to correspond with her.”

    After ignoring the first few texts, Millard answered that he’d “heard” about Babcock being missing. “Don’t know where she is.”

    Not accepting the brush-off, Lerner urged they meet to talk.

    They did so, at a Starbucks, on July 27.

    During that conversation, as Lerner recalled under direct examination earlier, Millard told him that Babcock had been using drugs, developed a cocaine addition and had been bugging him to get her drugs, which he’d “vehemently” refused. “He implied she’s gone,” said Lerner. “She got mixed up with the wrong people. And I should have no reasonable expectation of finding her.”

    It was not the first time Lerner and Millard had met. In February, 2011, Lerner had planned a surprise birthday party for Babcock. Millard — whom he did not personally know — was invited. Afterwards, a group of them went back to Millard’s condo.

    This was one of the areas Millard pursued in his cross-examination Tuesday; his assertion that Lerner found him “sketchy” dated back to that evening.

    “I don’t recall if I found you sketchy immediately upon leaving (the party). But by the time I left that evening I certainly did find you sketchy.”

    Lerner recounted that, in their conversation at his condo, Millard had given inconsistent details about what he did for a living. He also observed Millard giving drugs to Babcock that night — he thought it was ecstasy.

    “You’re against the use of hard drugs?” Millard asked.

    Lerner: “I was against her getting her getting pills from you, unsolicited by her. You made it clear that it was a birthday present.”

    Why should Lerner care, Millard continued.

    “Because she (was) my girlfriend and I cared about her and I loved her.”

    Millard asked whether, at their Starbucks meeting, he’d informed Lerner that Babcock had been working as a prostitute.

    “No. I had to that point understood that she was working as an escort.”

    He’d admittedly not been thrilled when Babcock told him about that, at their dinner. “She did say there was no sex involved. She seemed brand new to the business. The way she explained it to me, it was sort of . . . men looking to have a pretty girl on their arm. She may have believed it. I was obviously not convinced that might be all there was to it.”

    Had he, Millard, not expressly stated, at Starbucks, that he wasn’t providing drugs to Babcock? “I had witnessed you giving her drugs in the past,” said Lerner.

    Millard: “You asked if I was having sex with Laura at that time. I said no and that I have a girlfriend.”

    Babcock and Millard had dated briefly several years earlier, court has heard. It is unclear when or how their paths crossed again. The prosecution theory is that Babcock had boasted to Millard’s current girlfriend that she was still sleeping with him. The woman became upset. In the opening address on Monday, Crown attorney Jill Cameron quoted from texts Millard had sent his girlfriend in April: “First I am going to hurt her. Then I’ll make her leave.” And: “I will remove her from our lives.”

    It was at that point, the prosecution maintains, that Millard set about getting an incinerator. The Crown believes Babcock was killed July 3 or 4.

    Millard suggested to the witness that Babcock had “a number of strange men in her life” at the time she disappeared.

    Millard: “Are you trying to shift the case one way or another?

    Lerner: “No, absolutely not.”

    Millard: “Are you trying to shift suspicion on to me?”

    Lerner: “No, I’m trying to answer your questions.”

    And this exchange:

    Millard: “How do you feel about Laura today?”

    Lerner: “I miss her.”

    The trial continues.

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


    A good guy emerges at grim trial into Laura Babcock’s murder: DiMannoA good guy emerges at grim trial into Laura Babcock’s murder: DiManno

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    WASHINGTON—U.S. President Donald Trump talks about terminating NAFTA as if that would be as easy for him to do as firing off a tweet or ordering a second scoop of ice cream.

    Some experts agree with him. But a bunch don’t.

    These experts say it is only Congress, not the president, that has the authority to kill the North American trade pact. If Trump tried, in other words, they believe he could be blocked by pro-NAFTA legislators.

    The vigorous debate is taking place in corporate boardrooms, legal offices and think tanks across the continent. Once a matter of mere academic interest, it may now have huge stakes for Canada. And everybody involved agrees on just one thing: it will probably be decided by judges.

    “I think the only certainty is that if Trump were to go ahead and withdraw, or purport to withdraw, there would be lawsuits immediately. And probably injunctions. And this thing will be tied up in courts for a while,” said Matthew Kronby, a Toronto trade lawyer with Bennett Jones and former director general of Canada’s Trade Law Bureau.

    “I have spoken as recently as yesterday with a lawyer at a prominent U.S. law firm where one lawyer has looked at it and had a particular view — he thought the president did have the authority to do so unilaterally — but he acknowledged that there were several other people in his firm that came to the opposite conclusion,” Kronby said.

    The question is especially important because of the vast gulf between the views of Trump and many of his Republican colleagues on the subject. As Trump has derided NAFTA as the worst trade deal in world history, several senior Republicans have been outspokenly supportive of the agreement.

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his ministers have courted American legislators, but they say they aren’t counting on Congress to save the day. The government’s read of the situation, an official said on condition of anonymity, is that Trump could probably dump the deal with a stroke of his pen.

    “That is obviously just completely uncharted legal territory. So it’s difficult to know what would exactly happen … But for our purposes, we do kind of believe there’s a pretty good chance that he could just do this,” the Canadian official said.

    Read more:Thousands of Canadians live in the U.S. on NAFTA permits. So what happens if Trump kills the treaty?

    There is yet more disagreement on a related subject: what would happen next if the agreement were indeed terminated in one way or another.

    The official said the Canadian government has concluded that the old Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, which contained many of the same provisions as NAFTA, would snap back into force if NAFTA went away. They point out that the Canada-U.S. agreement was merely suspended with an exchange of diplomatic notes, rather than deleted, when NAFTA was created.

    Jon Johnson, a C.D. Howe Institute senior fellow who worked for Canada on both agreements, agreed that the old deal would snap back automatically if NAFTA vanished — but he said “it would be a mess” requiring further action, since some important provisions, such as those on auto manufacturing, are different. Kronby, meanwhile, said he was not convinced the snap-back would be automatic; Trump, he said, might have to issue some sort of executive order to make it happen.

    And then there’s a third possibility.

    “Obviously, I guess (Trump) could theoretically withdraw from both at the same time,” the Canadian official said.

    The unresolved questions have taken on increasing urgency as NAFTA talks have faltered on account of Trump demands the Canadian and Mexican governments consider unreasonable. Canada and the U.S. traded public criticism at the end of the fourth round in Washington last week.

    Trump has consistently promised to terminate the agreement if he cannot secure a new deal. In a television interview on Sunday, he sounded slightly less enthused than usual about the possibility of termination, saying: “It will probably be renegotiated. But if it’s not successfully renegotiated so it’s fair for the United States, it will be terminated.”

    Trump regularly makes dramatic threats he does not plan to carry out. But he has repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to make sharp breaks with existing international agreements. In his first nine months, he has abandoned the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Paris climate accord while taking steps to weaken the Iran nuclear deal.

    The confusion over his threat to kill NAFTA is a product of the uniqueness of the situation. No court has ruled on the powers involved in terminating trade deals because the first and only time the U.S. terminated a deal was in 1866, the year before Canada came into existence.

    The issue is so complicated because it involves the U.S. Constitution and multiple ambiguous laws.

    NAFTA itself says “a party” can withdraw from the agreement after giving the other countries six months of notice. But it does not say whether the president himself counts as the U.S. “party” or whether he needs the endorsement of Congress.

    The U.S. Constitution gives Congress the power “to regulate commerce with foreign nations.” (Point: Congress.) It also gives the president various powers over foreign affairs more generally. (Point: Trump.) Section 125 of the 1974 Trade Act, in which Congress grants various trade powers to the president, says “every trade agreement … shall be subject to termination” — but that sentence, unlike others, does not specifically identify the president as the person who can do the terminating. (Point: who knows.)

    The only thing that seems certain in the event Trump begins the six-month notice period is the kind of uncertainty businesses hate.

    “Companies are going to become much more conservative in their business planning. And we’ll see those impacts all the way down the supply chains,” said Dan Ujczo, an Ohio trade lawyer with Dickinson Wright. “Uncertainty equals conservative business planning.”


    Can Donald Trump actually kill NAFTA? You’re not the only one who’s unsure: AnalysisCan Donald Trump actually kill NAFTA? You’re not the only one who’s unsure: Analysis

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    WASHINGTON—A Republican stood on the Senate floor Tuesday and delivered a detailed indictment of just about everything about the Republican president.

    Declaring that he must answer to his children and grandchildren, Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake said he could not “stay silent” about Donald Trump’s “reckless, outrageous and undignified behaviour” — or about his party colleagues’ “complicity” in supporting a president who is a threat to America’s values and future.

    “None of this is normal,” Flake said.

    “We must never meekly accept the daily sundering of our country,” he said. “The personal attacks, the threats against principles, freedoms, and institutions; the flagrant disregard for truth or decency, the reckless provocations, most often for the pettiest and most personal reasons, reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with the fortunes of the people that we have all been elected to serve.”

    Trump’s “anger and resentment,” Flake said, “are not a governing philosophy.” Invoking Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan and cries of “fake news,” Flake said, “We were not made great as a country by indulging or even exalting our worst impulses, turning against ourselves, glorying in the things which divide us, and calling fake things true and true things fake.”

    “Mr. President, I rise today to say: enough,” Flake said.

    It was an extraordinary moment, seemingly written for the history books, that might, under other circumstances, have suggested that Trump was losing control of the party he took over.

    But the day as a whole might have actually demonstrated that Trump’s grip is strengthening, not weakening. Flake gave his speech minutes after he effectively conceded defeat to Trump by announcing he would not be seeking re-election in 2018 — and, afterward, he received little support from fellow senators.

    Read more:Key Republican senator calls Donald Trump an ‘utterly untruthful president,’ says he is ‘debasing’ the U.S.

    Flake, a seven-term House member in his first term in the Senate, is a traditional conservative who has boasted high scores from right-wing advocacy groups. But he had alienated many of his own voters by criticizing Trump in a book he published earlier in the year. And he acknowledged that his pro-trade, pro-immigration stances, once standard in the party, put him out of step in the Trump era.

    “There may not be a place for a Republican like me in the current Republican climate or the current Republican Party,” he told the Arizona Republic.

    Flake’s poll numbers in Arizona had plummeted, and pro-Trump Republican strategists like Steve Bannon had been plotting to defeat him. He acknowledged Tuesday that it would have been hard to win his party primary.

    “He had pissed off so many of the conservatives here,” said Laurence Schiff, a psychiatrist and self-described “Trump guy” who chairs the Republican committee in Arizona’s Mohave County. He said Flake was too supportive of illegal immigrants; voters there, he said, want a hard line, including Trump’s giant wall on the Mexican border.

    “I don’t think Jeff Flake is particularly conservative,” Schiff said. “I think that Flake had pissed off so many of the Republicans that an awful lot of people who weren’t going to vote for (Democratic candidate) Kyrsten Sinema were going to sit home.”

    Republican members of Congress who do plan to run again have been reluctant to criticize Trump, even as they have been privately scathing, out of fear of alienating such voters. Just as they remained largely silent in response to former president George W. Bush’s criticism of Trump last week, they did not did not appear moved by Flake’s call to vocal action.

    “As a Republican, I’m proud of our former presidential candidates and retiring senators. About our active politicians, I’m not so sure,” conservative writer Bill Kristol, a Trump critic, wrote on Twitter.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has avoided criticism of Trump, called Flake a “very fine man.” But neither McConnell nor other Republican leaders endorsed any of the substance of Flake’s remarks. Nor did they offer backup to the other retiring senator who castigated Trump hours earlier.

    In a lengthy attack of his own, Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, lambasted Trump as “utterly untruthful” after the president tweeted a false claim about the senator’s role in Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. Trump, Corker said, is “debasing” the country and “obviously not going to rise to the occasion as president.”

    House Speaker Paul Ryan brushed off Corker’s words as part of a mere Twitter feud. He urged people to focus on the Republicans’ legislative priority of the moment: tax reform.

    “That’s what matters. So all this stuff you see on a daily basis on Twitter this and Twitter that, forget about it. Let’s focus on helping people,” he said.

    Flake’s decision to abandon the Senate leaves Trump to contend, for a year, with three Republican senators who strongly dislike him and no longer need his support. (The other Arizona senator, John McCain, has terminal brain cancer; Corker has also announced he will not run.) With a 52-member caucus, Trump can only afford to lose two party members on any given vote to execute his agenda.

    In the long run, though, the departures of Flake and Corker will almost certainly move the party closer to Trump’s own views. While Democrats have a chance to win Flake’s seat, the top candidate for the Republican nomination is a staunchly pro-Trump former state senator, Kelli Ward.

    “It’s not like Corker was this liberal trapped inside the Republican Party. He was a moderately conservative internationalist. And that he can’t find a place in the Republican Party is bizarre by historical standards. That’s what the Republican Party stood for in the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s,” said Terry Sullivan, a University of North Carolina political science professor who studies the presidency.

    Trump’s press secretary, Sarah Sanders, dismissed Flake’s criticism as petty “grandstanding.” And she celebrated his decision to leave the Senate with a pointed jab, saying it was “probably a good move” in light of the “lack of support that he has from the people of Arizona.”

    Trump, meanwhile, attacked Corker again on Twitter — mocking his height once more.

    “People like liddle’ Bob Corker have set the U.S. way back,” the president wrote. “Now we move forward.”


    ‘None of this is normal’: Republican Sen. Jeff Flake delivers a blistering indictment of Donald Trump’s presidency‘None of this is normal’: Republican Sen. Jeff Flake delivers a blistering indictment of Donald Trump’s presidency

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    Daveed Goldman and Nobu Adilman wanted to pay tribute to late Tragically Hip singer Gord Downie after learning of his death.

    And so the directors of Choir! Choir! Choir!, a Toronto-based singalong collective, invited fans to Nathan Phillips Square on Tuesday night to honour Downie the best way they could — through his music.

    “When we lose some of the great ones, if we can provide a space where people can come together and share the music and feel connected in a difficult time, then we’ll do it,” Adilman said. “It just felt like the right thing to do and I feel like these tributes are happening all over the country and big or small, they all matter.”

    Downie died last Tuesday at age 53. Nearly two years ago, he was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an invasive brain tumour with one of the poorest survival rates of any cancer.

    More than a thousand people gathered to sing about a dozen songs from the Hip as their tribute to the legendary Canadian band.

    People braved the brisk, windy, 10 C weather to belt out songs such as “Wheat Kings,” “Bobcaygeon” and “Courage.” Downie’s “The Stranger,” off his solo album “Secret Path,” was also played.

    Stylish suit jackets and hats similar to the ones Downie wore on the Hip’s “Man Machine Poem” tour in 2016 were worn. There were also people sporting hockey jerseys bearing the Hip’s name.

    Children were placed on their parents shoulders to get a better view, while others lit candles in honour of the late musician.

    Downie’s older brother, Mike, made an appearance on stage near the end of the set to thank those in attendance, which was met with a rousing applause from the crowd.

    “I have to say that over the last week, the outpouring of emotion, grief and love has been overwhelming,” Mike said. “And my family and I have felt it and its made things easier and its made things harder.

    “Made it easier because you showed how much you loved our brother and harder because we realized how many people were hurting and how many people were really affected by this.”

    Mike also took the opportunity to talk about the Secret Path project, which he and his brother worked on. Choir! Choir! Choir! had asked that those in attendance to make a minimum donation of $5 to the Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund.

    Mike said that “it’s up to all of us” to help the reconciliation efforts.

    “I don’t think the government can fix it, I don’t think there’s a program big enough to fix it, I think it’s going to take everybody doing their part,” he said.

    “We think we’re a young country, but we’re not. We think we’re 150 years old, but we’re not. If we tried a little harder, if we brought in the Indigenous people that have been here for 12,000 years, we could be something so much different. And we would be better for it and I think we would be the envy of the world.”

    Choir! Choir! Choir! capped off the show with some audience members onstage to sing “Ahead by a Century.”

    “Gord Downie has meant so much to this country, he’s given so much and we just wanted to celebrate him and his music,” Adilman said.


    Mike Downie says fan support has 'made things easier' at choir tribute to late Tragically Hip frontmanMike Downie says fan support has 'made things easier' at choir tribute to late Tragically Hip frontmanMike Downie says fan support has 'made things easier' at choir tribute to late Tragically Hip frontmanMike Downie says fan support has 'made things easier' at choir tribute to late Tragically Hip frontmanMike Downie says fan support has 'made things easier' at choir tribute to late Tragically Hip frontmanMike Downie says fan support has 'made things easier' at choir tribute to late Tragically Hip frontmanMike Downie says fan support has 'made things easier' at choir tribute to late Tragically Hip frontmanMike Downie says fan support has 'made things easier' at choir tribute to late Tragically Hip frontman

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