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    DALLAS—Hugh Aynesworth, a reporter for The Dallas Morning News, was watching the presidential motorcade downtown when he heard the shots that killed then-president John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963. Since then, much of his career has been devoted to investigating the events of that day.

    Over the years, Aynesworth figures he’s explored dozens, maybe hundreds, of different conspiracy theories about the assassination. His work will continue on Thursday when the government releases the latest batch of files kept classified for 54 years.

    One thing’s for certain: The new information won’t put an end to the conspiracy theories, said Aynesworth, who is firmly in the camp that only one shooter, Lee Harvey Oswald, was responsible for Kennedy’s murder.

    Read more:Trump plans to release last cache of secret JFK assassination files

    “What will come out of this is something that should have come out years and years ago,” said Aynesworth, 86, who lives in Dallas.

    He expects the files to produce more information about how much the CIA and FBI knew about Oswald before the assassination. In particular, the files could reveal how much the CIA knew about a trip Oswald made to Mexico City a month or so before the assassination.

    “There’s been a lot of speculation over the years about Oswald’s trip to Mexico,” said Aynesworth. While there, Oswald met with Cubans and Russians, he said.

    The CIA had both the Russian and Cuban embassies bugged, said Aynesworth, author of November 22, 1963: Witness to History. “So they knew exactly what he said, who he met with, and they’ve kept this secret,” he said.

    The files may raise even more questions than they answer.

    “It will never stop the conspiracy crowd,” Aynesworth said. “They want to be somebody and make money. And there’s an awful lot of money involved.

    “There are over 200 conspiracy books — that ought to tell you something.”


    Reporter who witnessed JFK assassination says new files will fuel conspiracy theoriesReporter who witnessed JFK assassination says new files will fuel conspiracy theories

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    MONTREAL—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appeared incredulous Wednesday at Quebec’s efforts to clear up confusion surrounding its law on religious neutrality, which is widely seen as targeting Muslim women who wear face veils.

    The province’s justice minister said last week Bill 62 would oblige people riding a bus or the subway to do so with their face uncovered for the entire journey.

    On Tuesday, however, Stephanie Vallee backtracked, saying only those whose fare requires a card with photo ID will need to uncover their face before riding public transit — and that they can put the veil back on once they’ve been identified.

    Read more: Quebec justice minister explains how ‘niqab ban’ would be applied after widespread criticism

    Quebec’s face veil ban may face a Supreme Court challenge

    Asked specifically in Ottawa about Vallee’s clarifications, Trudeau replied: “You call those clarifications?”

    “I think we’re seeing there are still a lot of things to clarify in this bill, including how it will be applied,” Trudeau said. “We will do our homework here in Ottawa. As I’ve said several times, I don’t think a government should be telling a woman what to wear or not wear.”

    Immediately after Quebec passed Bill 62, Trudeau was hesitant to come out strongly against the legislation. He said the responsibility to challenge the law lied with citizens, not the federal government.

    Trudeau, however, has become more critical since his initial comments, suggesting the law violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

    He has also refused to rule out his government’s involvement in any future Bill 62 court challenge.

    “I will always defend the charter,” Trudeau said.

    “I will always stand up for individual rights and I will always stand up for the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and we are looking very carefully at what tools we have and what steps we have to make sure we make this situation better for everyone.”

    In response, Vallee said Quebec has the right to legislate on matters within its jurisdiction.

    “Mr. Trudeau has the right to not share our opinion,” she told reporters in Quebec City. “And he has the right to have an opinion on the law. But I am not going to get into a debate in the media about that.

    “But I am really confident that the law is constitutional and I am convinced that it would withstand any legal challenge.”

    When asked if Quebec is willing to use the so-called notwithstanding clause, which allows provinces to override the Constitution, she said, “We’re not there yet.”

    “The notwithstanding clause is not part of the debate because there is no legal challenge so far,” she added.


    Trudeau does not appear impressed with Quebec’s attempt to clarify Bill 62Trudeau does not appear impressed with Quebec’s attempt to clarify Bill 62

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    When it comes to political scandals, Ontario’s Liberals have made legal history.

    Not just not guilty. Not even close.

    An extremely rare “directed verdict” from a judge throwing out the prosecution’s unfounded case before the defence needed to even defend itself. Because “no reasonable jury” could possibly fathom a conviction in this three-year-old case that the Ontario Provincial Police, the opposition parties and some pundits had described as a slam dunk from the first.

    And so for the first time in the 27-year history of Ontario’s Election Act, a judge has said, in so many words, that the law is an ass. Especially in the hands of the OPP and Crown prosecutors who surely should have known better.

    Read more:

    Judge dismisses charges in Sudbury byelection trial

    PC leader Patrick Brown fires back at Wynne’s libel threat

    Judge questions merits of charge against former top Wynne staffer in Sudbury byelection trial

    Two Liberal party warhorses — one working in the premier’s office, the other a Sudbury kingpin — faced bizarre allegations of bribery and influence-peddling merely for playing politics in a local byelection. Their supposed crimes?

    Persuading and dissuading.

    They tried to persuade Glenn Thibeault, a star candidate from the federal NDP caucus in Ottawa, to run for the Liberals in a provincial byelection. And they tried to dissuade a local aspirant with a far dimmer star — Andrew Olivier lost in the previous general election — from fracturing party unity, instead urging him to go off quietly (because the premier would never sign his nomination papers anyway).

    In a dramatic judgment delivered Tuesday, a judge tried to explain to OPP investigators and Crown prosecutors what they never learned in police college and law school:

    That there’s a difference between wooing and bribing a star candidate.

    And that pacifying a disappointed aspirant — urging him to remain active and involved — can’t be twisted into influence-peddling.

    That may be too nuanced for our opposition parties, who now understand their jobs to be forever opposing everything, even if always overreaching. Smelling blood, it was the New Democratic Party that first called in the cops as part of their continuing campaign, in league with the Progressive Conservatives, to criminalize the governing Liberals.

    When a judge called it all off this week, the NDP and Tories still wouldn’t give up. They claimed the Liberals had gotten off on a “technicality” — if that’s what you call the absurdity that the judge methodically laid out in his decision.

    This was never a complicated case, despite feverish attempts by the NDP, OPP, and Crown to raise it to a higher level. Like many perceived transgressions, this one first went viral on social media, when a disgruntled Olivier revealed in a Facebook posting that he’d recorded Premier Kathleen Wynne’s deputy chief of staff, Patricia Sorbara, and local Liberal activist Gerry Lougheed, offering him volunteer or paid positions if he would play ball.

    It is in the nature of most Ontarians to ignore provincial politics most of the time. Even when people pay attention, it’s usually from a distance.

    The big eye-catching headline was Sudbury bribery. But there less to the case than met the eye.

    Volunteer party jobs aren’t exactly bribery. Being invited to apply for a job as a constituency assistant — which typically pays $35,000 to $45,000 a year — hardly qualifies as big money.

    The tape recordings were certainly awkward, as most private conversations can be when aired in public — just ask the Tories, for example, if they’d be OK with transcripts of their own conversations being released. Out of context, anything can sound like everything, but police and prosecutors are meant to dig deeper than Facebook postings.

    Instead, they laid criminal charges against Lougheed — a prominent fundraiser in Sudbury for the Liberals, but also a famously generous donor to local medical facilities — before having second thoughts and downgrading the allegations to provincial offences under the loose language of the Election Act. They also roped in Sorbara, accusing her of inducing Thibeault to quit the NDP and join the Liberals for the price of a couple of short-term jobs for old staffers that amounted to a few thousand dollars.

    As I wrote last year, when the police were still in hot pursuit: “It’s easy to confuse democracy with criminality, and to conflate take-no-prisoners campaigning with bribery and skulduggery. But any informed reading of the Elections Act makes it clear that it was written to guard against influence peddlers trying to pervert the course of democracy by buying off corrupt politicians, not political operators trying to recruit winning talent to their team (while ridding themselves of losers).”

    By dragging it out for years, the police did undeniable damage to the reputations of Lougheed, Sorbara and Thibeault (who was never charged despite being sullied). And tarnished the Liberal party in the process.

    In so doing, the OPP did the work of the NDP and the PCs — not deliberately, but inadvertently. And the Crown did a disservice to us all by failing to exercise its prosecutorial discretion to crumple up the charge sheet before their case crumbled in court.

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


    Ontario’s Liberals make legal history in Sudbury bribery trial: CohnOntario’s Liberals make legal history in Sudbury bribery trial: Cohn

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    The colourful town square just got noisier.

    Toronto is a minority majority city at last, fully 51.5 per cent of us identify as visible minorities, and almost half, or 48.8 per cent do so in the GTA.

    “At last,” not because this fulfills a dire take-over-the-country prophecy by “foreigners” but because in a capitalist society, this was inevitable.

    One in five people across the country are born outside it, the latest 2016 census from Statistics Canada shows .This isn’t new. In the early 1900s, a similar proportion of people were immigrants to the country. The difference this time is in the vast heterogeneity of their origins.

    People come from 250 different ethnic origins across the country, the data shows. Asia is the biggest source of immigration, while newcomers from Africa, placed ahead of Europe for the first time.

    The census is rarely just about numbers, about counting all the people and making sure they’re statistically correct. The data shows us who we are — not just what the colour of our skin is, or the faiths that we follow, but what values we truly cherish.

    The data tells us stories.

    There was heartening evidence of resilience; the news that Indigenous populations are seeing an unprecedented boom in the modern history of this land. This is due to higher fertility rates but also the willingness of more people to identify as one of the diverse Indigenous groups; either First Nation, Metis or Inuit.

    It used to be that big cities — Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal were the hubs for new immigrants, but that trend is changing, too, the data shows. The wave of recent immigrants to the Prairies more than doubled over the last 15 years.

    Immigrants are going where the jobs are, and visible minorities could comprise fully one-third of Canadians by 2036.

    We talk a good game about multiculturalism, but how representational are we?

    The 2016 snapshot makes for a colourful portrait, and also offers an opportunity to consider: how are we going to get along?

    Who gets to speak and how will voices at the margins of the town square move towards the centre? How will we make it work for everyone and not just to prop up a few?

    The data offers a clear pointer to our first priority.

    Non-Indigenous populations, or around 95 per cent of us, complicit in settler colonialism, owe much to those whose lands we enrich ourselves from.

    While 1.7 million people identified as Indigenous in 2016, that number is projected to cross 2.5 million in the next 20 years.

    Indigenous children account for more than half of kids under 4 who are in foster care. Twenty per cent of Indigenous people live in a dwelling in need of “major repairs,” compared with 6 per cent of the non-Indigenous population.

    Their median personal income is just $25,526, compared with $34,604 for non-Indigenous people, while nearly one-quarter live below Statistics Canada's poverty threshold.

    Fixing these gaps will take billions of dollars. If we’re serious about reconciliation, we have to accept those investments are a moral responsibility.

    They have sacrificed enough.

    Shree Paradkar writes about discrimination and identity. You can follow her @shreeparadkar


    The census makes for a colourful portrait, now how do we get along?: ParadkarThe census makes for a colourful portrait, now how do we get along?: Paradkar

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    With the legalization of pot scheduled for next year, a cannabis delivery company is advertising its services by distributing hot pink flyers to city mailboxes amid complaints questioning its methods.

    Riverdale resident Pauline Stanley received an advertisement late last week from Weedora, offering seven free grams of marijuana with the purchase of one ounce of a “high end” strain. Interested parties would reach out via text message for service.

    Stanley, a mother of two children, aged 9 and 14, reached out to the company under an alias to gather more information. She said prices for an ounce — with names such as “Chemo Kush,” or “UK Cheese 2.0” — are $150 to $250.

    Stanley said there’s a school down the street from her home, adding she’s frustrated that a technically illegal recreational drug market can operate unchecked and indiscriminately appeal to youth.

    “My door is not a nightclub,” she said. “There are all kinds of school-age kids in the neighbourhood, so how many of these (flyers) were nabbed by teenagers? It’s pretty inviting.

    “When I got it, I thought this must be illegal and intrusive,” Stanley said.

    Stanley said the advertisement isn’t for medical purposes. The company’s website doesn’t specify. It does state that buyers must be 19 or older to order.

    “It is our mission to give cannabis lovers the best strains grown by local farmers for the most affordable prices, delivered right to your door in the GTA,” reads the company’s mission statement.

    The federal government is planning to follow through with plans to legalize recreational pot on July 1, 2018. Ontario has signalled that cannabis will be sold from LCBO outlets or through a government-operated server.

    Mark Pugash, director of communications at the Toronto Police Service, said the issue is on the force’s radar, but declined to comment.

    A request by the Star for an interview with the unnamed owner of Weedora was declined.

    By mid-afternoon Tuesday, the company’s website showed that about 750 people had visited.

    “It normalizes drug use, in the eyes of children,” Stanley said.

    Councillor Paula Fletcher (Ward 30, Toronto-Danforth) said Stanley’s concerns are warranted, adding that the crackdown of dispensaries in Toronto has forced the marijuana market to shift its strategy and continue working in a protracted grey zone.

    “It is technically advertising an illegal product for somebody to bring it to your house,” she said. “The marijuana industry is a very smart, savvy, large industry that will find other ways to distribute until the regulation comes into play.”

    Fletcher said her ward has seen dispensaries pop up, tolerated by her constituents for a spell, and eventually shut down.

    “It’s the wild, wild west,” she said. “I believe there must be regulation. This gray area is unfair to everybody, at this point. I think the police need to act a little more swiftly.”


    Toronto parent angered by flyer promoting weed delivery serviceToronto parent angered by flyer promoting weed delivery service

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    MONTREAL—With the law that prescribes that provincial and municipal services be rendered and received with one’s face uncovered, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard has achieved the impossible. His Liberal government has reconciled the two opposite camps in the Quebec religious accommodation debate behind the notion that it is running a gong show.

    A week after the adoption of the controversial law, one would be hard-pressed to find a good word about the just-adopted Bill 62 anywhere in the province’s media.

    Even Quebec Liberal party insiders privately admit that they are flabbergasted by the improvisation that has attended the government foray into the religious accommodation minefield.

    Over the past few days, Quebec Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée has offered conflicting interpretations of her own law, convincing critics that she is making up the rules that pertain to its application as she goes along.

    Last week for instance, Vallée fended off allegations that her bill was discriminatory by arguing that the obligation to uncover one’s face to board a city bus would apply as equally to transit riders sporting large sunglasses as to the Muslim women who wear the niqab or burqa. They all would have to remove their face coverings for what she described as “the duration of the rendering of the public service.”

    On Tuesday, Vallée walked back her talk, insisting that the prescription to uncover one’s face applied only to “interaction” between a citizen and a public servant. On that basis, most people could presumably board a bus or presumably take out a library book without showing their faces.

    In Quebec, library cards do not feature photographs. Neither do transit passes except in the case of students and senior citizens who are expected to show proof of age to pay a reduced rate.

    In any event, the minister assured that no one would ever be thrown off a bus on account of Bill 62 because — she said — someone who did not comply with the law would be left at the bus stop.

    The minister’s convoluted explanations did little to reassure those who feel that the bill is a discriminatory solution in search of a problem. It is estimated that there are less than 300 Muslim women who wear a face-covering veil province-wide.

    Moreover, as elsewhere in Canada it is already impossible in Quebec to obtain government-issued ID cards such as a driver’s license or a health card without allowing one’s picture to be taken with one’s face uncovered

    Vallée’s latest take on her own bill also confirmed the fears of those who feel it is much too narrow

    The PQ opposition is working on a more muscular version of Bill 62. It will feature the imposition of a secular dress code on public servants in positions of authority such as judges or police officers. The party also wants to explore the notion of banning face-covering veils from all public places. A pequiste government would use the notwithstanding clause of the Constitution to shelter its law from the Charter of Rights and Freedoms

    The Coalition Avenir Québec also has proposals that go well beyond the Liberal law. Both opposition parties will campaign on their proposals in next fall’s provincial election.

    Meanwhile, opponents and proponents of state-enforced restrictions on the rights of religious minorities are united in questioning the competence of the Liberal government.

    It is increasingly unclear what constituency Premier Couillard expected to satisfy with the government’s ill-conceived law.

    The premier does have a well-documented tendency to political tone-deafness. Earlier this month he seemed surprised and frustrated that a cabinet shuffle that left his ministerial frontline essentially unchanged did not elicit rave reviews about his government sporting a new face.

    At the time of the shuffle, Couillard maintained Vallée in her justice role even if she had consistently seemed to be in over her head in that portfolio.

    Over the past week there has been a chorus of calls for Bill 62 to be withdrawn in its entirety. It would be pretty unprecedented for a ruling party to shelf a law it has just used its majority to adopt.

    Until it is replaced by a government of a different stripe or possibly struck down by a court, Bill 62 will likely remain on the books where it primarily stands as a token of political turpitude.

    Chantal Hébert is a national affairs writer. Her column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.


    Quebec’s face-covering bill unites rivals who together question the government’s competence: HébertQuebec’s face-covering bill unites rivals who together question the government’s competence: Hébert

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    A senior Toronto police sergeant accused of twice picking up a woman in the Entertainment District while on duty then groping her once alone inside his police vehicle has been found not guilty of two counts of sexual assault at a Scarborough court Wednesday.

    Sgt. Christopher Heard, a veteran Toronto police officer, stared straight ahead as Ontario Court Justice Russell Otter read out his lengthy decision in the judge-alone trial.

    Heard, a married father of three with 27 years on the Toronto force, pled not guilty to two counts of sexual assault stemming from separate incidents in the fall of 2015, while on duty and on patrol.

    The officer was accused of twice picking up young, solo women in the area of Blue Jays Way, offering to take them home, then sexually assaulting them once they got into his car. The charges were laid last year by the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Ontario’s civilian watchdog that investigates police.

    The assaults were alleged to have occurred in the span of less than six weeks in 2015 — the first, involving a 27-year-old woman, on September 24, the second, involving a 25-year-old woman, on November 1. At that time, Heard was supervising a group of constables in downtown Toronto’s 52 Division, but had been working alone on the shifts in question.

    Heard’s June trial heard from both alleged victims, the second of whom went to authorities only after she saw news reports of Heard being charged with sexual assault. She says she recognized his photo, recalled that the officer who picked her up was named Chris, and realized she had been picked up in a similar spot.

    Her complaint prompted Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) to investigate and resulted in the second sexual assault charge.

    Both women, whose identities are covered by a publication ban, testified that they had trusted Heard when they accepted his offer of a ride home, believing they were safe with a police officer.

    “I expected to trust an officer of the law,” said one of the alleged victims.

    The women told similar accounts of what transpired inside the police vehicle each alleged Heard had touched her inner thigh, prompting each to immediately tell him to stop. One claimed she slapped Heard’s hand away.

    Crown prosecutor Roger Shallow said the fact that both women, who are strangers to one another, gave similar accounts “obliterates any notion of coincidence.”

    Taking the stand in his own defence, Heard denied all allegations of inappropriate touching. He offered both women rides for their own safety, saying they were intoxicated.

    “At any time, when she was in that car, did you touch her thigh?” Gary Clewley, Heard’s defence lawyer, asked in his client in reference to the first complainant.

    “Not once,” Heard, 46, responded.

    Heard also denied inappropriately touching the second complainant, who alleges the assault occurred as she was about to exit the vehicle.

    Phone records show Heard and the complainant communicated after the drive. Heard said he took the woman’s number only to ensure she made it into her apartment safely because her neighbourhood was prone to “crack users” and people “doing other terrible things.”

    In both cases, Heard did not inform Toronto police dispatch that he was transporting a young woman home. “I should have. It just didn’t seem like a big thing . . . . I wasn’t going to be gone for long.”

    Heard is also facing misconduct charges under the Ontario Police Services Act in connection to the alleged September assault, including failing to activate his in-car camera, a failure that means there is no audio or video evidence of his contact with the first complainant.

    During the trial, it was revealed that the SIU told Toronto police that Heard had become the subject of a sexual assault investigation three weeks before the second assault is alleged to have occurred.

    Lucille Chan, the lead SIU investigator on the case, testified that she informed the Toronto police chief’s office on Oct. 7, 2015 that Heard was being investigated in connection to a sexual assault allegation; the second alleged sexual assault occurred in the early hours of Nov. 1, 2015.

    Toronto police spokesperson Meaghan Gray told the Star last year that, after the first charge was laid, Heard was initially suspended, but was later reinstated and “assigned to other duties.” He was suspended with pay after the second charge was laid, she said.

    Heard has been suspended with pay since the second charge was laid in May, 2016.

    Heard also faces a misconduct charge related to his failure to record all of his interaction with the 27-year-old woman in his police notes.

    “When you became aware that (the woman) filed a complaint about your conduct you began a new memorandum book and recorded information about your contact,” read the documents.


    Toronto police sergeant found not guilty on two counts of sexual assaultToronto police sergeant found not guilty on two counts of sexual assault

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    OTTAWA—Most people in Canada’s biggest city now identify as visible minorities, as new census data shows increasing diversity in Toronto and many of its neighbouring suburban areas.

    More than half of respondents to the 2016 census in the City of Toronto — 51.5 per cent — said they’re from visible minority communities, a milestone that was narrowly missed when 49 per cent identified that way in 2011.

    The news comes as part of a tranche of census data, released Wednesday, that paints a multifaceted portrait of a country where more than one in five people was born outside its borders. Canada is now home to millions of people who claim more than 250 distinct “ethnic origins,” with historical lineages through Indigenous groups and countries all over the world.

    “We’ve been seeing this for 20 years now, that Canada is becoming more and more diverse,” said Jean-Pierre Corbeil, Statistics Canada’s assistant director of social and Aboriginal statistics.

    “It’s not surprising that we see the share of people identified as visible minorities … increasing for sure,” he said.

    Almost 22 per cent of the Canadian population is foreign-born, while 1.2 million people immigrated here between 2011 and 2016, the census data shows. Forty-one per cent of Canadians, meanwhile, lay claim to more than a single ancestral group, the most frequent being English, Scottish, French or Irish.

    In Canada overall, more than 22 per cent of people reported being from visible minority communities in 2016, up from 16.3 per cent in 2006 and 4.7 per cent when the government started gathering this information in 1981. Statistics Canada attributes the increase in part to an increasing proportion of immigrants from non-European countries. For example, Africa surpassed Europe as the continent-of-origin for the second-highest number of immigrants between 2011 and 2016, the data shows.

    The release showed a similar trend for two groups: the largest overall increase in the Indigenous population was in western Canada over the last decade, while the share of recent immigrants to the Prairies more than doubled over the last 15 years.

    “Immigrants are diffusing across the country,” said Michael Haan, a sociology professor at Western University in London, Ont.

    “What it's forcing us to do, collectively, is think about our entire nation as being composed of immigrants, rather than just major cities.”

    Nearly half of major metropolitan areas are comprised of visible minorities, noticeably Toronto and Vancouver, said Doug Norris, chief demographer at Environics Analytics. But the figures are also on the rise in places like Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg, and Calgary, he added.

    “Places that people didn't think were culturally diverse are becoming now culturally diverse.”

    The release is just the latest — and second-to-last — in a year-long series of statistical snapshots of Canada. It also marks the return of the long-form census for the first time in a decade.

    The data also shows a marked difference in diversity between the multicultural heartland of the Greater Toronto Area and the rest of the country. Twenty-nine per cent of Ontarians and 22 per cent of Canadians overall reported being visible minorities, versus a thin majority in the Big Smoke.

    Five of the suburban cities around Toronto — Ajax, Mississauga, Richmond Hill, Brampton and Markham — had majorities of people identify as visible minorities. Markham posted the highest proportion (77.9 per cent), followed by Brampton (73.3 per cent) and Richmond Hill (60 per cent).

    Across the GTA, almost half (48.8) per cent of census respondents identified as visible minorities.

    Read more:

    Toronto still top-choice for recent immigrants, as more people flock to the Prairies

    Home ownership rates drop as more young Canadians opt to rent: census

    Ontario now home to Canada’s largest Métis population, census shows

    But while diversity — in terms of visible minority populations — increased in every census division in the GTA from 2011 to 2016, the numbers vary widely. Burlington and Oshawa had the lowest proportion of visible minorities for cities with more than 100,000 people, at 16 per cent each in 2016, followed by Whitby at 25 per cent and Oakville at 31.

    The numbers also varied in the City of Toronto. The higher proportions of diversity — more than 50 per cent — were clumped in the inner suburbs of Scarborough, North York and Etobicoke.

    Several areas showed proportions of visible minority communities as high as 90 per cent, with concentrations of people who identified as Chinese, for example, in places like Scarborough’s Agincourt neighbourhood and the city of Markham. Two neighbouring Toronto census tracts with almost 4,000 residents off Steeles Ave. E. even showed a combined 99 per cent Chinese population, one of the highest proportions of a single visible minority in the GTA.

    In terms of ethnicity, the largest visible minority in the city of Toronto was South Asian, at 11.9 per cent of the population. That was followed closely by Chinese at 11.5 per cent. Blacks accounted for 8.1 per cent of the city population, and 5.6 per cent was Filipino, the data shows.

    In Canada overall, the largest visible minorities communities were South Asian (1.9 million people), Chinese (1.6 million) and Blacks (1.2 million).

    Highlights:

    • In 2016, 7.5 million people — about 21.9 per cent of the total population — reported being foreign-born individuals who immigrated to Canada. In 1921, the census reported that proportion at 22.3 per cent, the highest since Confederation. Statistics Canada projects that proportion could reach between 25 and 30 per cent by 2036.

    • The census counted 1,212,075 new immigrants who permanently settled in Canada between 2011 and 2016, 3.5 per cent of the total population last year.

    • 60 per cent entered under the economic category, 26.8 per cent to join family already in Canada and 11.6 per cent as refugees. During the first four months of 2016, refugees accounted for one-quarter of all immigrants admitted to Canada, thanks to an influx of refugees from Syria.

    • Asia, including the Middle East, remains the largest source of recent immigrants to Canada at 61.8 per cent, followed by Africa at 13.4 per cent. Europe — once dominant in this category at 61.6 per cent in 1971 — ranked third at 11.6 per cent.

    • More immigrants have been settling in the Prairies. The percentage of new immigrants living in Alberta reached 17.1 per cent in 2016, compared with 6.9 per cent in 2001; In Manitoba, it went to 5.2 per cent, up from 1.8 per cent, and four per cent in Saskatchewan, up from one per cent in 2001.

    • Visible minorities numbered 7.7 million in 2016, 22.3 per cent of Canada's population. 30 per cent were born in Canada.

    • In 1921, more than 70 per cent of the foreign-born population reported English or French as a mother tongue, while fewer than 30 per cent reported a different language. In 2016, the precise opposite was true: more than 70 per cent reported a different mother tongue, compared to less than 30 per cent for English or French.

    • In 2016, nearly 2.2 million children under 15 — 37.5 per cent of all children in Canada — were either foreign-born themselves or had at least one foreign-born parent.

    • Some 1.9 million people reported being of South Asian heritage, fully one-quarter of the visible minority population. Chinese was the second-largest group at 1.6 million or 20.5 per cent of visible minorities, while blacks — surpassing the one-million mark for the first time — were third at 1.2 million, a share of about 15.6 per cent. Filipinos and Arabs rounded out the top five.

    • More than 9.5 million of the 14.1 million households in Canada owned their home in 2016, a rate of 67.8 per cent, down slightly from 69 per cent in 2011. However, rates varied widely depending on age: 70 per cent of homeowners in 2016 were aged 35-54, compared with 20- to 34-year-olds at just 43.6 per cent.

    • Condos are most popular in Vancouver, where they comprised 30.6 per cent of all local households. Calgary was second at 21.8 per cent, followed by Abbotsford-Mission, B.C., at 21.5 per cent, Kelowna at 21.3 per cent and Toronto at 20.9 per cent.

    • In 2016, 24.1 per cent of households — down from 24.4 per cent in 2006 — were spending 30 per cent or more of their average monthly total income on shelter costs, such as rent or mortgage payments, electricity, heat and property taxes or fees. Of those, the highest proportions were in Toronto (33.4 per cent) and Vancouver (32 per cent).

    • The census counted 1.67 million Indigenous people in Canada in 2016, accounting for 4.9 per cent of the total population — up from 3.8 per cent in 2006 for a growth rate of 42.5 per cent over the last 10 years, four times the rate of the non-Indigenous population.

    • The number of people who identified as First Nations reached 979,230 last year, up 39.3 per cent over 2006, while the Metis population grew by 51.2 per cent over the same period to 587,545 people. The census recorded 65,025 Inuit, 29.1 per cent higher than in 2006.

    • Winnipeg (92,810), Edmonton (76,205), Vancouver (61,460) and Toronto (46,315) reported the largest Indigenous populations, while the highest proportion of Aboriginal people were in Thunder Bay (12.7 per cent), Winnipeg (12.2 per cent) and Saskatoon (10.9 per cent).

    With files from Canadian Press


    A majority of Torontonians now identify themselves as visible minorities, census showsA majority of Torontonians now identify themselves as visible minorities, census shows

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    A witness in the trial of two men accused of murder is testifying that one of the defendants confessed to him about burning a woman’s body and tossing it in a lake.

    Desi Liberatore has told court that Mark Smich performed a rap in 2012 in which he described “torching a body.”

    After the song, Liberatore says Smich told him that he did, in fact, burn a girl and dump her body and a cellphone in a lake.

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

    Smich, 30, of Oakville, Ont., and Dellen Millard, 32, of Toronto, have pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of Toronto woman Laura Babcock.

    The Crown alleges the pair killed the 23-year-old at Millard’s Toronto home then burned her remains in a commercial incinerator found on Millard’s farm near Waterloo, Ont.

    Liberatore says he was in Smich’s mother’s garage in 2012 smoking marijuana with a few friends when he says Smich confessed to a killing.

    The Crown then played a video where Smich is seen rapping.

    In the video, Smich is looking at an iPad with music playing in the background.

    “The b---h started off all skin and bone, now the b---h lay on some ashy stone,” Smich sings in the video. “Last time I saw her she was outside the home. If you go swimming you can find her phone.”

    Liberatore said he had never seen the video, but the rap Smich performed for him in the garage was “something like that.”

    After Smich performed the rap, he asked his girlfriend to leave, Liberatore said.

    Then Smich told Liberatore and two others: “Yeah, we burned a girl and threw her in the lake. We killed someone.”

    “Did he say he killed somebody?” Crown lawyer Jill Cameron asked Liberatore.

    “I don’t think he said it exactly like that,” Liberatore said. “He said ‘we burned a body and threw it in the lake.’”

    The Crown contends Babcock was killed for being the odd woman out in a love triangle with Millard and his girlfriend.

    Babcock vanished in the summer of 2012 and her body has never been found.


    ‘We burned a body and threw it in the lake,’ Laura Babcock’s murder trial hears‘We burned a body and threw it in the lake,’ Laura Babcock’s murder trial hears

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    A 13-year-old boy has been arrested after a woman was sexually assaulted in Mississauga.

    Peel police said around 8:30 a.m. on Sept. 8, a 45-year-old woman was sexually assaulted near a roadway by Wharton Way and Dundas St. E.

    Another woman, 22, was assaulted around 4 p.m. the same day in the area of Dundas St. E and Universal Dr.

    The boy has been charged with one count of sexual assault, as well as two counts of assault.

    Const. Lori Murphy said police “put out a news release and it was the public that responded, and ended up assisting us and identifying the individual.”

    Murphy added that because the boy is under 18, his identity has been protected under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.


    Boy, 13, charged in sexual assaultBoy, 13, charged in sexual assault

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    One person is dead after a two-alarm fire in the Junction on Thursday morning.

    Toronto paramedics confirmed the person, whose age and sex is currently unknown, was pronounced dead on scene around 9 a.m. Toronto Fire Services said the victim was found on the second floor of a low-rise building at Sarnia Ave. and Campbell Ave.

    Cpt. David Eckerman said when firefighters arrived on scene, someone told them a person was inside on the second floor.

    “The building’s alarms were working and on the second floor we found heavy smoke coming from a door of a unit. When we entered there was fire in the walls going up to the attic.”

    Eckerman said the victim was found in life-threatening condition, but later died.

    After the fire was extinguished, firefights conducted another search and found no one else in the building.

    Eckerman said fire investigators are responding to the scene to determine the cause of the blaze.

    Toronto police said Campbell Ave. northbound is closed from Wallace Ave.


    One person dead after apartment fire in the JunctionOne person dead after apartment fire in the Junction

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    Airbnb is calling its new partnership with a Toronto condominium a milestone arrangement that is designed to improve the short-term rental market experience in the building near the city’s waterfront.

    But critics are crying foul, suggesting Airbnb’s deal with the board at Neptune Waterpark Condominiums (209 and 215 Fort York Rd.) is further proof Airbnb is in the business of turning residential developments into hotels.

    “Countless studies have shown that short-term rental services like Airbnb make cities even more expensive to live in by reducing long-term rental stock,” said Thorben Wieditz, of the Fairbnb, a coalition started by a union representing hospitality workers.

    Buildings such as Neptune condos were designed, zoned, approved, and built to be residential condos, not hotels, he added.

    “Hotels have different zoning laws, design needs, safety requirements, regulatory obligations, and tax burdens than residential condos. If Airbnb and the Neptune condo board want to be in the hotel business, they should follow the same rules as the regulated hotel industry.”

    Under the arrangement with Neptune, Airbnb will provide its hosts with primary property insurance up to $1 million and extend liability insurance — also up to $1 million — to cover the building’s common areas.

    The building will also have its own online portal showing short-term rental activity, including a record of how many guests are staying in a unit and when they are checking in or out.

    And Airbnb will help establish rules, such as those relating to parking and pets. The building will receive a cut of each booking, anywhere between 5 and 15 per cent, an Airbnb news release said.

    The agreement under Airbnb’s Friendly Buildings Program is the first in Canada and outside the United States, said Aaron Zifkin, regional director for Airbnb in North America.

    It also comes just as the city of Toronto moves ahead with plans to licence and regulate short-term rentals, limiting them to a person’s principal residence.

    “We’ve been working with buildings … and just really trying to understand what the opportunities are,” Zifkin said Wednesday. “We think that with this new program we’re going to really increase our involvement with these buildings.”

    Airbnb, which has listings for properties in 63,000 cities around the world, has struck similar deals with buildings in Jersey City, San Jose, and Kissimee, Florida.

    Nick Bednarz, owner/resident and vice-president of the Neptune Condo board, rejected the characterization that the Airbnb deal turns the property into a hotel. It goes into effect Nov. 1.

    “Short-term rentals have been allowed and been in place since the building was constructed,” he wrote in email. “This doesn’t change that, it puts a framework in place whereby we now have some controls to better manage the situation.”

    Renters live in 75 per cent of the complex’s 871 units while the rest are owner occupied. Bednarz said Airbnb told him 80 units have appeared on the platform.

    At a town hall meeting, building residents — both renters and owners — complained about noise and cleaning issues due to the high volume of traffic, though “both equally apply to standard rentals,” and Airbnb, he wrote.

    As a result, the board initially sought to ban short-term rentals but that vote, requiring 80 per cent of owner support, failed.

    About 100 owners attending an annual general meeting made it “very clear” they preferred the status quo allowing short-term rentals, leading the board to work directly with Airbnb, Bednarz said. The five-member board unanimously voted in favor of the deal.

    At city hall on Wednesday, Mayor John Tory said he had some concerns about the Airbnb/Neptune deal, including the impact it has on the supply of housing for permanent residents.

    “We need every available housing unit to be available to people who are going to live in them, as opposed to staying in them on a transient basis or having them as hotel rooms or leaving them empty.”


    Historic Canadian Airbnb-condo deal makes it a hotel: criticsHistoric Canadian Airbnb-condo deal makes it a hotel: critics

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    More than 56 years after a plane crash killed Dag Hammarskjold, the secretary general of the United Nations, an authoritative report released Wednesday said it appeared plausible that an “external attack or threat” may have downed the airplane carrying him and 15 others on an epochal peace mission in Africa.

    The finding by Justice Mohamed Chande Othman, a senior Tanzanian jurist who was asked by the United Nations to review both old and newly uncovered evidence, gave weight to a long-standing suspicion that Hammarskjold may have been assassinated.

    The crash, which happened in the overnight hours of Sept. 17-18, 1961, remains a painful open wound in the history of the United Nations and one of the 20th century’s most enduring mysteries.

    Othman’s report, which was released after repeated delays, offered a further rebuttal of the idea, advanced in inquiries soon after the crash, that pilot error or some other accident had caused Hammarskjold’s chartered DC-6 airplane to crash in woodlands in what is now Zambia.

    Moreover, Othman’s conclusion reinforced the theory that the plane had been deliberately brought down, either by what the judge called “direct attack” or by a “momentary distraction” that took away “the pilots’ attention for a matter of seconds at the critical point at which they were on their descent.”

    At the time, Hammarskjold was flying to Ndola, in what was then Northern Rhodesia, for negotiations to end secession and civil war in the neighbouring mineral-rich Congolese province of Katanga. The Katangese separatists were supported by Western political and mining interests not eager to see Hammarskjold’s diplomacy succeed.

    In recent years, much attention has focused on the extent to which Western governments and their intelligence agencies, including those of Britain, the United States and Belgium, the former colonial power in Congo, have withheld information relating to Hammarskjold’s death.

    Othman said in a summary of the report that these countries had provided some “valuable new information” in response to his requests.

    At the same time, he said, the “burden of proof” has now shifted to member states of the United Nations to “show that they have conducted a full review of records and archives in their custody or possession, including those that remain classified, for potentially relevant information.”

    His remarks seemed to reinforce many earlier suggestions that, for whatever reason, Western governments were loath to disclose their full knowledge about what had befallen Hammarskjold, a Swedish diplomat who died at a tipping point in African history between colonial rule and independence.

    At the time, Congo had achieved a fraught independence from Belgium, while British and Portuguese colonial rule still prevailed farther south. The secession of the southern Congolese province of Katanga illuminated the competition among rival superpowers and commercial interests for influence over the course of Africa’s future.

    For supporters of Katanga’s secession, Hammarskjold was a reviled figure.

    Such were the concerns about his safety that, in the hours before he died, his airplane, call-sign SE-BDY, flew a circuitous route, skirting Congolese territory and observing near-total radio silence before it began its approach to Ndola.

    In the attempts to reconstruct the final moments of the flight, myriad theories about the causes of the crash have emerged, including miscalculations by the pilots of their altitude and the sudden appearance in the nighttime skies of a secessionist jet warplane flown by a mercenary pilot.

    Othman’s report said, “There is a significant amount of evidence from eyewitnesses that they observed more than one aircraft in the air, that the other aircraft may have been a jet, that SE-BDY may have been on fire before it crashed and/or that SE-BDY was fired upon or otherwise actively engaged by another aircraft. In its totality, this evidence is not easily dismissed.”

    While the judge’s report is not a precursor to opening or reopening a formal investigation, he expressed hope it would help generate momentum to uncover more facts, “which is now more than ever necessary to allow us to fill the remaining gaps in the narrative.”

    Susan Williams, a British academic whose 2011 book Who Killed Hammarskjold? inspired the latest phase of high-level interest in the crash, said Othman’s report “reinforces my strong suspicion of foul play.”

    “The onus is now on the U.K., the U.S., Belgium, France and South Africa, to release all relevant documents, including the secret records of their security and intelligence agencies and all intercepts” of radio traffic relating to the case, she said in an interview. She also urged multinational companies operating in the area to “release relevant records.”

    One issue focused on the capability of Katangese secessionist forces and their foreign hires to attack Hammarskjold’s plane.

    At the time, the secessionists were using French-built Fouga Magister warplanes. Earlier inquiries had discounted their deployment because they lacked flying range, despite witness testimony about a second plane seen that night as Hammarskjold’s DC-6 approached Ndola.

    But more recent evidence suggested that one or more Fouga Magisters could have flown a combat mission or harassed the DC-6 at a critical moment on its approach.

    Othman also said there had been evidence that the British colonial authorities had sought to ensure that early inquiries ascribed the crash to pilot error. But, he said, that conclusion should now be considered “logically unsound.”

    He noted that, in the past few years, the United States had acknowledged the activities of CIA officers in the Congo region and changed the narrative about the presence of Fouga Magisters in Katanga and U.S. DC-3 Dakotas on the ground in Ndola at the time of the crash.

    “Judging from history and the manner in which potential new information has emerged over the years,” his report said, “it is still likely that additional information will be located, unearthed or made available.”


    Hammarskjold crash likely not an accident, UN report suggestsHammarskjold crash likely not an accident, UN report suggestsHammarskjold crash likely not an accident, UN report suggestsHammarskjold crash likely not an accident, UN report suggests

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    The director of Canada’s spy service publicly acknowledged Wednesday that his agency suffers from a workplace climate of “retribution, favouritism, bullying and other problems,” which he said is “categorically unacceptable in a high-functioning, professional organization.”

    David Vigneault’s statement was accompanied by an executive summary of a “workplace climate assessment” conducted at the Toronto office of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, which uncovered low morale and a possible exodus of employees who said they felt “disillusioned and disheartened.”

    One employee described the Toronto office as “the region progress forgot.”

    The report’s findings were specific to Toronto, but Vigneault said in his statement that information gathered in the assessment would benefit the entire service of more than 3,000 employees, with its headquarters in Ottawa.

    “Only by putting these kinds of issues on the table, and dealing with them directly, will the Service be able to continue to evolve as a strong, mission focused, and unified organization,” Vigneault wrote.

    The five intelligence officers and analysts who launched a $35-million lawsuit against CSIS this summer said they felt “vindicated” by the report’s findings and the director’s statement.

    “It took our group to come forward, at great personal cost, to finally get CSIS to admit that the organization is rife with harassment, discrimination and bullying. The place was toxic, and they have finally admitted it after years of denial,” wrote “Alex,” one of the complainants in the lawsuit, in an email to the Star.

    Alex alleged that he had faced years of homophobic harassment as an intelligence officer, including offensive emails sent by managers. One allegedly read: “Careful your Muslim in-laws don’t behead you in your sleep for being homo.”

    “Bahira,” a Muslim intelligence officer who had worked in Canada and abroad, thanked her Toronto colleagues for their candour and risking “the wrath of their senior management” in participating in the assessment. She also praised Vigneault for his transparency at what has traditionally been one of Canada’s most secretive organizations.

    “For 15 years as I was working to advance national security investigations, I was also fighting racism and bigotry. Today, I feel somewhat vindicated. I believe CSIS needs a workforce that is strong, engaged, and diverse at all levels. Canadians deserve that,” she wrote Wednesday in an email to the Star.

    “We have been harassed and bullied and beaten down for so long while CSIS managers denied that was a problem, that it is hard to believe that CSIS is finally admitting the truth. I hope it means that real change is possible, but I’m cynical now. I know too much about the organization to trust that anything will be done.”

    In an interview last month with the Star, both Alex and Bahira said they had suffered by the stress of publicly confronting their employer, but felt they had no other choice.

    In both court documents and during the interview last month, they used pseudonyms, since 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.

    Alex had launched an internal complaint last year before taking a leave, which resulted in a third-party investigation and report. According to their statement of claim, that report found CSIS had an “old boys’ culture” and noted a general fear of managers’ “reprisals, retribution and punishment.”

    But Alex said the findings went nowhere and he alleges his career suffered, forcing him to take a stress leave and seek legal action.

    Although the lawsuit, first reported by the Star, wasn’t filed until July, lawyer John Phillips said the government had been aware of the allegations of his five clients for months.

    This latest workplace assessment at the Toronto office was conducted in April and June and about 30 per cent of the staff participated. It includes testimony from intelligence officers, non-intelligence officers, and managers.

    Other findings in the workplace assessment include:

    • “Frequent rotation of positions does not allow people to get a good handle on the files and managers have no time to make their mark or recover from their mistakes.”

    • “The culture of the organization is described as one where you are harshly blamed for mistakes and penalized; you do what you are told.”

    • “(S)ome pockets where jokes and discriminatory comments are still being made with regards to ethnicity and communities being monitored. There is still some bias against women and a general lack of thoughtfulness toward cultural differences and sensitivities.”

    • Weekly drinking sessions of “the in-group,” either at the office or a nearby pub where “decisions — often staffing decisions — were made.”

    • “Decisions regarding advancement are solely based on relationships and not competencies or experience. Reputations and relationships are therefore everything, but at the same time very fragile.”

    In describing a history of an “old boys’ club” climate, those interviewed spoke of behaviours that “included yelling, swearing, disrespectful, demeaning, misogynistic, offensive and inappropriate comments and jokes about employees from other employees but also managers.”

    The report did not address any of the specific allegations of the five employees suing CSIS. Those have not been proven in court.

    As the Star reported Tuesday, a federal judge slammed the Department of Justice for not responding faster to the claim.

    “(T)here is a course of action to be followed and you are no different from any other parties in Canada,” Justice Simon Noël said told government lawyers, according to a transcript of a September teleconference call. “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.”

    Noël said the government had until Friday to file a statement of defence.

    According to the transcript of the Sept. 13 call with Noël, the government is attempting to “resolve the claim.”


    Head of spy agency CSIS admits ‘retribution, favouritism, bullying’ in workplaceHead of spy agency CSIS admits ‘retribution, favouritism, bullying’ in workplace

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    Ontario electricity rate hikes will be held to the rate of inflation over the next four years, according to the province’s latest Long-Term Energy Plan.

    In the first energy blueprint since 2013, the Liberal government said prices will actually be lower than forecast four years ago — thanks to the 25 per cent rebate known as the Fair Hydro Plan that took effect this past summer.

    Read more:

    The truth about hydro in Ontario: an updated fact check

    Energy regulator orders Hydro One to cut administrative budget by $30 million over two years

    Hydro One revenue down as milder weather impacts demand

    The average monthly residential bill this year is $127 — down from $170 predicted in the last Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP).

    In 2027, that monthly bill is anticipated to be $181 — lower than the $200 estimate from the 2013 plan. By 2035, it should be $193 a month.

    “The projected residential price electricity will remain below the outlooks in the 2010 and 2013 LTEP,” the government said in the 155-page outlook.

    “Projected electricity prices for large consumers will, on average, be in line with inflation over the forecast period,” it said.

    Between 2021 and 2027, rates are expected to gradually rise by an average of 5 per cent annually.

    “The 2017 Long-Term Energy Plan outlines our investments to date and how we plan to continue building an energy system with fairness and choice for people across the province,” Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault said Thursday at Queen’s Park.

    Facing widespread outcry over rising hydro prices — and with an election set for June 7, 2018 — the government launched the so-called Fair Hydro Plan earlier this year.

    Thibeault said it spreads the costs of $70 billion in electricity infrastructure improvements from the past decade over a lengthier repayment period.

    He likened it to refinancing a mortgage to have lower payments now but with those spread out over a longer period of time.

    “The Fair Hydro Plan is a policy that reduces rates immediately and effectively,” said Thibeault.

    “We’ve heard from families that they can’t handle the sharp increases that were taking place in previous years and are working to ensure that does not happen again,” he said.

    With an election looming, Thibeault lashed out at the Progressive Conservatives and the New Democrats for not providing viable alternatives to the Liberals’ plans.

    “Both parties voted against Ontario’s Fair Hydro Plan — the single largest rate reduction in the province’s history.”

    Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk has estimated the $39.4-billion scheme could cost Ontario ratepayers an additional $4 billion in higher interest charges over 30 years.

    Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown warned Ontarians not to buy the “Liberal spin” being peddled by Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government.

    “Every single time they’ve played games with the electricity sector it has left families working harder, paying more, and getting less,” said Brown

    “The 2017 LTEP does not show the real costs of their unfair hydro scheme. It is nothing but a Wynne Liberal re-election campaign document that does nothing to calm the nerves of families worried about their future.

    NDP MPP Peter Tabuns (Toronto Danforth) dismissed the energy plan as a “political document” designed to get the Liberals through next spring’s election.

    “This was written for the election — this is not a planning document,” said Tabuns.

    “I wouldn’t give this government any credit for this plan,” he said.

    There is some good news for many condominium residents in Thursday’s blueprint.

    The Ontario Energy Board (OEB), the independent regulator that controls prices, will be given authority over 326,000 condo and apartment units in 2,500 buildings across the province that currently pay their bills to private companies that meter usage.

    “Consumers have told both the province and the OEB that they would like to know more about how these decisions are made and what they are being asked to pay for,” the LTEP said.

    “Improving consumer protection and strengthening the OEB’s regulatory powers ... would ensure that their fees and charges are just and reasonable and that customers served by these companies receive value for money.”

    Francesca Dobbyn, executive director of the United Way of Bruce Grey, said that change could be especially helpful to low-income apartment dwellers.

    “It’s lower bills — definitely in our rural communities. We have companies that charge $25 a month if you haven’t paid off the previous bill and for low-income people that’s a horrendous amount,” said Dobbin.

    Overall, Ontario’s current electricity supply mix includes 53.5 per cent of generation coming from nuclear power, 21.3 per cent from water, 7.5 per cent from natural gas, 6.2 per cent from wind, and 2 per cent from solar.

    The government estimates that the equivalent of 8.6 per cent of supply is coming from conservation efforts.

    There are no new major energy projects announced in the plan — the Liberals believe existing infrastructure as well as increased small green-energy, such as roof-top solar panels, will be enough to meet demand over the next 18 years.


    Hydro rates to remain stable through 2020: energy planHydro rates to remain stable through 2020: energy plan

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    DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES—New security screenings for all passengers on U.S.-bound flights began on Thursday, with airlines worldwide questioning flyers about their trip and their luggage in the latest Trump administration decision affecting global travel.

    However, confusion still remains about the new regulations, which come at the end of a 120-day period following the United States lifting a ban on laptops in airplane cabins affecting 10 Mideast cities. The new regulations cover all the 2,100 flights from around the world entering the U.S. on any given day.

    Some airlines said they had received permission to delay implementing the new rules until January.

    Read more:

    Trump allows refugee admissions to resume under ‘enhanced’ screening procedures

    U.S. lifts ban on laptops in airplane cabins on flights from Middle East

    At Dubai International Airport, the world’s busiest for international travel, long-haul carrier Emirates began questioning passengers about their luggage, liquids they were carrying and where they were coming from. Passengers also had to have their carry-on bags searched, along with their electronics.

    Emirates declined to discuss the new procedures in detail on Thursday. On Wednesday, it said it would conduct “passenger pre-screening interviews” for those travelling on U.S.-bound flights in concert with other checks on electronics.

    Elsewhere, things did not appear to be going so smoothly. In China, an official in the Xiamen Airlines press office, who would only give his surname as Qiu, said that the airlines received a “demand” about the new U.S. regulations and planned “to take some security measures, including security safety interviews from today on.”

    “We’re not going to interview all passengers, but focus on those with a certain degree of risk when checking the passengers’ documents on the ground,” he said, without elaborating.

    An official with the Eastern Airlines publicity department said that she saw media reports about security safety interviews but didn’t have immediate details on what her company was doing. An official at the Beijing Airport press centre would only say: “We always strictly follow relevant regulations of the Civil Aviation Administration when conducting security checks.” Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity under regulations.

    At Air China, the country’s flag carrier, an official who only gave his surname, Zhang, said it would comply.

    “We will meet the demands from the U.S. side, but as for the detailed measures (we will take), it is inconvenient for us to release,” he said.

    South Korea’s Transport Ministry said that the United States agreed to delay implementing the new screening for the country’s two biggest carriers, Korean Air Lines Co. and Asiana Airlines Inc., until next year on condition they deploy staff at boarding gates to monitor travellers.

    Royal Jordanian, based in Amman, also has said it would introduce the new procedures in mid-January.

    Other airlines with U.S.-bound flights at Seoul’s Incheon International Airport brought in as many as seven extra staff Thursday to question passengers under the new rules but there were no major delays, airport spokesman Lee Jung-hoon said.

    Singapore Airlines passengers may be required to “undergo enhanced security measures” including inspection of personal electronic devices “as well as security questioning during check-in and boarding,” the carrier said on its website.

    Other carriers who announced the new regulations on Wednesday included Air France, Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., the airlines of Germany’s Lufthansa Group and EgyptAir.

    In Hong Kong, passengers described some of the questions they were asked.

    “They asked me if I packed my own bag, where I packed it from, where I came from, they looked at my itinerary, verify where I was, who I was, from where I came from,” said Fran Young, who was travelling to Los Angeles.

    Some showed displeasure.

    “It’s a little inconvenient, I kind of just want to get my printed ticket and then just go inside,” passenger Gavin Lai said. “I don’t want to wait on people to interview me like that. So it’s a little annoying.”

    U.S. carriers also will be affected by the new rules. Delta Air Lines said it was telling passengers travelling to the U.S. to arrive at the airport at least three hours before their flight and allow extra time to get through security. United declined to comment, while American did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    In March, U.S. officials introduced the laptop ban in the cabins of some Mideast airlines over concerns Islamic State fighters and other extremists could hide bombs inside of them. The ban was lifted after those airlines began using devices like CT scanners to examine electronics before passengers boarded planes heading to the U.S. Some also increasingly swab passengers’ hands to check for explosive residue.

    The laptop ban as well as travel bans affecting predominantly Muslim countries have hurt Mideast airlines. Emirates, the region’s biggest, said it slashed 20 per cent of its flights to the U.S. in the wake of the restrictions.


    Passengers on all U.S.-bound flights face new security screeningsPassengers on all U.S.-bound flights face new security screenings

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    A 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy has been detained by federal immigration authorities in Texas after she passed through a Border Patrol checkpoint on her way to a hospital to undergo emergency gall bladder surgery.

    The girl, Rosamaria Hernandez, who was brought over the border illegally to live in Laredo, Texas, when she was 3 months old, was being transferred from a medical centre in Laredo to a hospital in Corpus Christi around 2 a.m. Tuesday when Border Patrol agents stopped the ambulance she was riding in, her family said. The agents allowed her to continue to Driscoll Children’s Hospital, the family said, but followed the ambulance the rest of the way there, then waited outside her room until she was released from the hospital.

    By Wednesday evening, according to family members and advocates involved in her case, immigration agents had taken her to a facility in San Antonio where migrant children who arrive alone in the United States from Central America are usually held, even though her parents, who both lack legal status, live 240 kilometres away in Laredo.

    Her placement there highlighted the unusual circumstances of her case: The federal government maintains detention centres for adult immigrants it plans to deport, facilities for families who arrive at the border together and shelters for children who come by themselves, known as unaccompanied minors. But it is rare, if not unheard-of, for a child already living in the United States to be arrested — particularly one with a serious medical condition.

    Immigration agents have, however, detained some teenagers who are suspected of membership in gangs like MS-13, a gang rooted in Los Angeles and El Salvador that President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have repeatedly condemned. As a general matter, the Trump administration has hardened immigration enforcement across the country, lifting guidelines established under President Barack Obama that made it unlikely that any undocumented immigrants other than recent arrivals to the country and those with serious criminal records would be deported.

    Between Trump’s inauguration and early September, the number of immigration arrests rose more than 40 per cent compared with the same period last year, according to data released by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

    Rosamaria’s cousin, Aurora Cantu, a U.S. citizen who was riding with her in the ambulance and accompanied her to the hospital, told Rosamaria’s mother and others working on the case that the agents had at first tried to persuade the family to agree to have the girl transferred to a Mexican hospital, pressing the family to sign a voluntary departure form for her. They declined to do so. The entire time Rosamaria was in surgery and then in recovery, several armed Border Patrol agents stood outside her hospital room, the family said.

    Her mother, Felipa de la Cruz, 39, said in an interview that her family had moved to Texas from Nuevo Laredo, the city in Mexico just across the border from Laredo, when her daughter was still an infant, hoping to get better treatment for her cerebral palsy.

    They had not been able to afford her therapies in Mexico, she said, but in Texas, Medicaid paid for her daughter’s treatment, which included home visits from therapists.

    “I’m a mother. All I wanted was for her to get the surgery that she needed,” de la Cruz said. “It never crossed my mind that any of what is happening right now could happen. When you’re a mother, all you care about is your child.”

    Rosamaria’s doctors have recommended that she be released to a relative because of her illness, said Alma Ruiz, a San Antonio-based lawyer who is part of a team representing the family. But the immigration agency has not yet consented to release her.

    Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar who represents the Laredo area in Congress, called Wednesday for the girl to be released back to her family.

    “I understand that CBP has a tremendous duty to protect our nation,” he said in a statement, referring to Customs and Border Protection, “but we should be devoting our resources and focus on bigger threats.”

    A spokesman for the agency, which oversees the Border Patrol, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday night.

    “The fact that they spent so much time and resources to follow this girl, to treat her like she was the highest-priority criminal that ever walked on this earth — the way they’re treating her is just beyond what a 10-year-old special needs child should be treated,” said Priscila Martinez, an immigration activist at the Workers Defense Action Fund, which is helping to plan rallies for Rosamaria in Laredo and Corpus Christi.

    Rosamaria’s case is perhaps the most extreme example in recent memory of a dilemma that stalks unauthorized immigrants who live in the Rio Grande Valley, south of the Border Patrol checkpoints: Getting specialized medical care often requires going to doctors and hospitals farther north, but crossing the checkpoints could mean detention and deportation.

    That, Martinez said, is why Rosamaria’s parents were absent from her side when she was rushed north to Corpus Christi, leaving her cousin, Cantu, to accompany her to the hospital.


    U.S. immigration agents detain 10-year-old girl after stopping her on the way to emergency surgeryU.S. immigration agents detain 10-year-old girl after stopping her on the way to emergency surgery

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    WASHINGTON—U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday plans to declare the opioid crisis a nationwide public health emergency — a step that won’t bring new dollars to fight a scourge that kills nearly 100 Americans a day but will expand access to medical services in rural areas, among other changes, White House officials said Thursday.

    Trump intended to use an afternoon speech to announce that he was directing his acting health and human services secretary to take those steps, according to the officials, who weren’t authorized to publicly discuss the matter in advance and briefed journalists on condition of anonymity.

    Officials made clear that the declaration, which lasts for 90 days and can be renewed, comes with no dedicated dollars. But they said it will allow them to use existing money to better fight the crisis. Officials also said they would urge Congress, during end-of-the year budget negotiations, to add new cash to a public health emergency fund that Congress hasn’t replenished for years.

    The Public Health Emergency Fund currently contains just $57,000, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, a negligible amount. Officials would not disclose how much they were seeking.

    But critics said that wasn’t enough.

    “How can you say it’s an emergency if we’re not going to put a new nickel in it?” said Dr. Joseph Parks, medical director of the non-profit National Council for Behavioural Health, which advocates for addiction treatment providers. “As far as moving the money around,” he added, “that’s like robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

    Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi also was critical, calling the new declaration “words without the money.”

    Read more: Trump’s pick for drug czar drops out over reports he helped weaken opioid controls amid national crisis

    Trump officially declares opioid crisis a ‘national emergency’

    Trump’s audience Thursday was expected to include parents who have lost children to drug overdoses, people who have struggled with addiction, and first responders whose have used overdose reversal drugs to save lives. Officials also hinted that the president might choose to speak more personally about his own experience with addiction: His older brother, Fred Jr., died of alcoholism. It’s the reason the president does not drink.

    Leading up to the announcement, Trump had said he wanted to give his administration the “power to do things that you can’t do right now.” As a candidate, he had pledged to make fighting addiction a priority, and pressed the issue in some of the states hardest hit.

    “When I won the New Hampshire primary, I promised the people of New Hampshire that I would stop drugs from pouring into your communities. I am now doubling down on that promise, and can guarantee you we will not only stop the drugs from pouring in, but we will help all of those people so seriously addicted get the assistance they need to unchain themselves,” Trump told a crowd in Maine weeks before last November’s election.

    Once in office, Trump assembled a commission, led by Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, to study the problem. The commission’s interim report argued an emergency declaration would free additional money and resources, but some in Trump’s administration disagreed.

    Christie, in a statement, said Trump was taking “bold action” that shows “an unprecedented commitment to fighting this epidemic and placing the weight of the presidency behind saving lives across the country.”

    Officials said the administration had considered a bolder emergency declaration, under the Stafford Act, which is typically used for natural disasters like hurricanes. But they decided that measure was better suited to more short-term, location-specific crises than the opioid problem. Drug overdoses of all kinds kill an estimated 142 Americans every day.

    As a result of the public health emergency declaration, officials will be able to expand access to telemedicine services, include substance abuse treatment for people living in rural and remote areas. Officials will also be able to more easily deploy state and federal workers, secure Department of Labor grants for the unemployed, and shift funding for HIV and AIDs programs to provide more substance abuse treatment for people already eligible for those programs.

    Trump was also expected to direct other departments and agencies to exercise their own available emergency authorities to address the crisis.

    But Sen. Richard Blumenthal, said the effort falls far short of what is needed and will diverts staff and resources from other vital public health initiatives.

    “Families in Connecticut suffering from the opioid epidemic deserve better than half measures and empty rhetoric offered seemingly as an afterthought,” he said in a statement. He argued, “An emergency of this magnitude must be met with sustained, robust funding and comprehensive treatment programs.”

    Democrats also criticize Trump’s efforts to repeal and replace the “Obamacare” health law. Its Medicaid expansion has been crucial in confronting the opioid epidemic.

    Adopted by 31 states, the Medicaid expansion provides coverage to low-income adults previously not eligible. Many are in their 20s and 30s, a demographic hit hard by the epidemic. Medicaid pays for detox and long-term treatment.

    Nearly a year ago, Congress also approved $1 billion to tackle addiction as part of the 21st Century Cures Act. States got half their Cures Act grants in April and will get the rest next year.

    Places such as Fellowship House in Birmingham, Alabama, are using drugs like Suboxone, a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone, with patients for the first time.

    “When I took Suboxone, it was like a miracle,” said one Fellowship House patient, 43-year-old John Montesano, a former long-haul truck driver with a 20-year pill addiction, chronic pain and no health insurance. “I’d be dead now” without it, he said. “Or worse, not dead” and still using.

    Montesano recently marked six months without a relapse. He attends daily recovery meetings, works at a sandwich shop and plans to reunite with his wife. As long as the money goes for treatment “the way Fellowship House does it,” he said, Congress “should release all the money they can spare.”


    WATCH LIVE: Trump declares opioid emergency, but won’t pledge new money to solve problemsWATCH LIVE: Trump declares opioid emergency, but won’t pledge new money to solve problems

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    OTTAWA—Three Canadians who were tortured in Syria have received just over $31 million in federal compensation.

    The Liberal government said in March it had settled long-standing lawsuits filed by Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati and Muayyed Nureddin over the federal role in their ordeals, though details of the settlement were not made public.

    Recently released public accounts note the $31.25-million payment to three unidentified individuals and The Canadian Press has confirmed it refers to the settlement.

    Read more:Ottawa compensates and apologizes to three Canadians tortured in Syria

    In October 2008, an inquiry led by former Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci found Canadian officials contributed to the torture of Almalki, El Maati and Nureddin by sharing information with foreign agencies.

    Iacobucci concluded the men were abused in Syrian custody and, in the case of El Maati, in Egypt as well.

    The former judge cited the RCMP, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and Foreign Affairs for mistakes in the cases.

    All three men deny involvement in terrorism and none has ever been charged.

    The office of Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said Thursday it could not discuss any monies paid to the individuals, but noted they had been seeking $100 million in compensation.

    In March, Goodale and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland apologized to the men on behalf of the government “for any role Canadian officials may have played in relation to their detention and mistreatment abroad and any resulting harm.”

    “We hope that the steps taken today will support them and their families in their efforts to begin a new and hopeful chapter in their lives.”


    Three Canadians tortured in Syria receive $31-million settlement from OttawaThree Canadians tortured in Syria receive $31-million settlement from Ottawa

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    It comes as no surprise to Anna Agha that the condo she rents is part of a neighbourhood with one of the highest percentages of residents putting too large a portion of their income toward housing costs in the city.

    “It is quite expensive,” said the 31-year-old as she walked her baby in a stroller around Alton Towers Cir. — a condo-laden area in Scarborough where she and her husband moved six months ago to be close to his work.

    Read more: The Star looks at the present and the future of Toronto housing

    “We are thinking of moving after the lease is up,” she said, adding that they chose the location because the older, more spacious condominiums on Alton Towers Cir. were a better option for her family than the newer ones they looked at downtown.

    Shelter costs are taking up about 50 per cent of their household budget at the moment, she estimated on the spot.

    Census data from 2016 released Wednesday show the small community contained by Alton Towers Cir., east of McCowan Rd., is one of the two places in the city where 60 per cent of households spend 30 per cent or more of their income on housing costs — the highest percentage in Toronto.

    The other neighbourhood was at Woodbine Ave. and Hwy. 7 in Markham.

    Statistics Canada uses 30 per cent of income spent on housing as a benchmark to determine whether households have an “affordability” problem. In Toronto in 2016, 33 per cent of households spent more than the benchmark on shelter, compared with 28 per cent in Ontario and 24 per cent in Canada.

    That’s a slight increase from the 2011 and 2006 census numbers, both of which showed approximately 32 per cent of Toronto households overspent the benchmark for affordable housing.

    Read more:

    Highlights from the 2016 census

    Home ownership rates drop as more young Canadians opt to rent: census

    Housing repairs are most badly needed in these two GTA communities

    University of Toronto geography professor Deb Cowen said a number of factors contribute to what she called “the current affordability crisis” in Toronto.

    “While most people struggle to pay rent and keep shelter over their heads, housing has also become an incredibly lucrative market — a commodity,” she said.

    Cowen said part of the reason for high housing costs lies in aggressive lending by large mortgage financiers. “But it is also true for a growing number of small-scale home or condo owners who buy housing in order to accumulate wealth,” she said.

    Geordie Dent, who runs the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations, said his organization constantly gets calls from renters who are struggling to find affordable accommodation in the city.

    “There's really two things that are happening: People are suffering and people are moving,” Dent said.

    He’s familiar with cases of people moving out of Toronto to Hamilton, Windsor, and even other provinces in search of greater affordability.

    “Not everyone wants to do that and not everyone will do that,” he said.

    Those who choose to stay in Toronto may have to lower their housing standards, or dedicate more of their budget to housing rather than things like leisure, Dent said.

    For some residents, spending a lot on housing is worth it.

    Dominic Chung, 77, said the high cost of living on Alton Towers Cir. is worth the condo’s proximity to the grocery store, restaurants and his church.

    “I love it here,” Chung said, who doesn’t drive anymore due to age.

    Molly Tyson has lived in a co-operative townhome on Alton Towers Cir. for 17 years. She praised the community, and the governance structure that sees neighbours working together toward improvements to their homes.

    Cowen warned that, as housing becomes more expensive, those who are in the most precarious positions are most likely to be negatively impacted.

    “In a city like New York we see the highest rent burdens in areas facing rapid gentrification — areas where people with lower incomes are concentrated but which have experienced often dramatic valorization,” she said. “I imagine we will see similar patterns in the Toronto data too.”

    The other Toronto pockets — called “tracts” in the census data — with the highest percentages of households spending more than 30 per cent of income are scattered throughout the city.

    Of the 10 with the highest proportion, three of them are directly east of the University of Toronto, an area with many new, upscale condos. They’re also located in the Wallace Emerson, Niagara, Willowdale and Thorncliffe Park neighbourhoods.


    The Roof Over Your Head: Residents of these GTA neighbourhoods struggle the most to pay for their homesThe Roof Over Your Head: Residents of these GTA neighbourhoods struggle the most to pay for their homes

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