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- 07/02/17--10:51: _Rapper arrested on ...
- 07/02/17--11:10: _Florida now lets an...
- 07/02/17--08:18: _‘We just need a cha...
- 07/02/17--09:31: _Trump appears to pr...
- 07/02/17--09:33: _Toronto man drowned...
- 07/02/17--07:18: _Toronto police look...
- 07/01/17--06:20: _‘This is Canada. Th...
- 07/02/17--09:19: _Raptors re-sign Ser...
- 07/02/17--06:23: _As the law and soci...
- 07/02/17--13:26: _Man suspected of ki...
- 07/02/17--18:22: _Fear of losing cust...
- 07/02/17--15:05: _Free agent forward ...
- 07/03/17--08:12: _New Jersey Gov. Chr...
- 06/30/17--17:26: _Ontario court order...
- 07/02/17--20:36: _Drake makes surpris...
- 07/02/17--13:09: _Medical resident hu...
- 07/02/17--19:56: _Heart transplant re...
- 07/03/17--09:06: _Donald Trump offers...
- 07/03/17--03:00: _High number of wome...
- 07/03/17--03:00: _What I learned on m...
- 07/02/17--09:33: Toronto man drowned in Lake Simcoe on Canada Day
- 07/02/17--07:18: Toronto police looking for stolen service dog named Princess
- 07/01/17--06:20: ‘This is Canada. This is home’
- 07/02/17--09:19: Raptors re-sign Serge Ibaka to three-year deal
- 07/02/17--06:23: As the law and society evolve, Canadian judges go back to school
- 07/02/17--15:05: Free agent forward Patrick Marleau signs three-year deal with Leafs
- 06/30/17--17:26: Ontario court orders end to secrecy around names of highest-paid MDs
- 07/02/17--20:36: Drake makes surprise appearance at City Hall Canada 150 event
- 07/02/17--13:09: Medical resident hurt in U.S. hospital shooting is from Ontario
- 07/02/17--19:56: Heart transplant recipient dies hours after giving birth
- 07/03/17--09:06: Donald Trump offers help to terminally ill British baby
- 07/03/17--03:00: What I learned on my long, lovely limp along the Trans Canada Trail
LITTLE ROCK, ARK.—A rapper whose concert in Little Rock was the site of a shooting that left 28 people injured was arrested early Sunday on unrelated assault charges while outside an Alabama club where he was performing just 24 hours later, authorities said.
Ricky Hampton, 25, of Memphis, Tenn., also known as Finese 2Tymes, was arrested on outstanding charges of aggravated assault with a gun out of Forrest City in eastern Arkansas, the U.S. Marshals Service said. Little Rock police said on Twitter that no arrests have been made in the shooting at the Power Ultra Lounge in downtown Little Rock. Police have said they believe the shooting stemmed from a dispute in the crowd and may be gang-related.
The Marshals Service said Hampton and another man were arrested at the Side Effects Club in Birmingham, where Hampton was performing. The rapper took the stage in Birmingham just a day after gunfire broke out as he was performing at the Power Ultra Lounge. Twenty-five people between the ages of 16 and 35 suffered gunshot wounds, and three others were hurt after the shooting early Saturday.
A message posted on the rapper’s Facebook page Saturday offered thoughts and prayers for those injured: “THE VIOLENCE IS NOT FOR THE CLUB PEOPLE. WE ALL COME WITH 1 MOTIVE AT THE END OF THE DAY, AND THATS TO HAVE FUN.”
A woman who answered a phone number listed on Finese 2Tymes’ Instagram account for booking said the rapper didn’t consider cancelling the Birmingham show, despite the shooting, because he wasn’t responsible for what happened. The woman didn’t give her name before hanging up.
The volley of gunfire inside the Power Ultra Lounge came so fast that investigators believe multiple people had to have been involved. Police Chief Kenton Buckner credited quick work by first responders for there being no fatalities.
Courtney Swanigan, 23, told The Associated Press that when the gunfire rang out, “I just closed my eyes, got down on the ground and put my hands on my head.”
City officials said they would move Monday to shut down the club under a “criminal abatement” program. State regulators suspended the club’s liquor license Saturday, and a representative for the landlord’s office later posted an eviction notice on a door to the club. The notice stated that the club must move out of the property within three days “due to your failure to maintain the premises in a safe condition.”
Mayor Mark Stodola said the city must “keep guns out of the hands of the wrong people” and suggested that people refuse to patronize clubs that seem to promote violence. Material advertising the concert by Tennessee rapper Finese 2Tymes showed a man pointing a gun at a camera.
“A promotional video with a gun on the front cover inviting people to a concert ... should also be totally unacceptable in our community,” the mayor said.
The shooting capped a violent week in Arkansas’ largest city. Police had responded to a dozen drive-by shootings over the previous nine days.
“I’m sick of all the killing and I’m tired of all the shooting. The kids getting hurt,” said Raida Bunche, who was waiting outside the club after hearing from a friend that her son had been inside. She found out later that he had run from the club when the shooting started and was not hurt.
The shooting occurred around 2:30 a.m. about 1.5 kilometres east of the state capitol building. First-responders are stationed through the central part of the city and hospitals are a quick ride away.
“We had professional people responding to that incident and they did what they were trained to do, and I know they probably had something to do with the fact we didn’t have any fatalities,” Buckner said. He also credited divine intervention.
A Facebook video posted from inside the club included audio of at least 24 rounds fired in about 11 seconds. Darryl Rankin, who posted the video, said a friend of his who attended the concert with him had a bullet “stuck in his spine.” Buckner said police had not yet spoken with the rapper, who he said has outstanding warrants in the state.
Any resident in Florida can now challenge what kids learn in public schools, thanks to a new law that science education advocates worry will make it harder to teach evolution and climate change.
The legislation, which was signed by Gov. Rick Scott last week and went into effect Saturday, requires school boards to hire an “unbiased hearing officer” who will handle complaints about instructional materials, such as movies, textbooks and novels, that are used in local schools. Any parent or county resident can file a complaint, regardless of whether they have a student in the school system. If the hearing officer deems the challenge justified, he or she can require schools to remove the material in question.
The statute includes general guidelines about what counts as grounds for removal: belief that the material is “pornographic” or “is not suited to student needs and their ability to comprehend the material presented, or is inappropriate for the grade level and age group.”
Proponents of the new law say it makes the challenge process easier for parents and gives residents a greater say in their children’s education. And state Rep. Byron Donalds, who sponsored the bill, told Nature in May that his intent wasn’t to target any particular subject.
But Glenn Branch, deputy director of the National Council for Science Education, said that affidavits filed by supporters of the bill suggest that science instruction will be a focus of challenges. One affidavit from a Collier County resident complained that evolution and global warming were taught as “reality.” Another criticized her child’s sixth-grade science curriculum, writing that “the two main theories on the origin of man are the theory of evolution and creationism,” and that her daughter had only been taught about evolution.
“It’s just the candour with which the backers of the bill have been saying, ‘Yeah, we’re going to go after evolution, we’re going to go after climate change,’ ” that has him worried, Branch said.
Based on the affidavits, it seems likely that the law will also be used to request the removal of library books that parents find objectionable.
The Florida statute is one of 13 measures proposed this year that Branch and his colleagues consider “anti-science.” In Idaho, the legislature rejected several sections of the state’s new public school science standards related to climate change — the standards committee was asked to rewrite those sections and resubmit them for approval this fall. Alabama and Indiana both adopted non-binding resolutions on teacher’s “academic freedom,” which are generally understood as encouraging educators to “teach the controversy” around subjects like climate change.
“Whether it be evolution or the argument about global warming, we don’t want teachers to be afraid to converse about such things,” state Sen. Jeff Raatz, a supporter of the resolution, told Frontline.
Similar measures in other states didn’t make it into law, “but a number of them have advanced farther than we really expected,” Branch said. He called 2017 “a busy year” for this type of legislation.
In Florida, a group called Florida Citizens for Science urged people keep an eye on challenges to school instructional materials in the coming year.
“At this point the fight is at the local level,” the group’s communication director, Brandon Haught, wrote in a blog post. “If you’re not there and willing to stand up for sound science education, then we’re done.”
It’s not easy to get robotics equipment through customs in Afghanistan, but that didn’t deter this plucky bunch.
For months, a team of six teenage girls has been scrambling to build a ball-sorting robot that will compete in an international competition. Other teams received their raw materials in March. But the box sent from America had been held up for months amid concerns about terrorism. So the young engineers improvised, building motorized machines from household materials.
They didn’t have time to waste if they were going to compete in the FIRST Global Challenge, an international robotics competition to be held in Washington, D.C., this month. Young teams from around the world face off against each other, in an effort to engage people in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).
To participate, the girls from the city of Herat in western Afghanistan needed permission to travel to the United States. So, after they convinced their parents to let them go, they made the 800-kilometre journey to the U.S. Embassy in Kabul to apply for their visas. They did this twice, even though that location was targeted by a deadly truck bomb.
Things seemed to be lining up. But then the team got some bad news: Their visa applications had been denied. Roya Mahboob, who founded Citadel software company in Afghanistan and was the country’s first female technology chief executive, is one of the team’s sponsors. When the girls heard the news, she said, “they were crying all the day.”
“The first time (they were rejected) it was very difficult talking with the students,” Mahboob told Mashable. “They’re young and they were very upset.”
Fourteen-year-old Fatemah told Forbes, “We want to show the world we can do it; we just need a chance.”
On their competition page, the girls wrote:
“We want to make a difference, and most breakthroughs in science, technology, and other industries normally start with the dream of a child to do something great. We want to be that child and pursue our dreams to make a difference in peoples’ lives.”
The State Department does not comment on specific visa denials. According to recent State Department records, it’s particularly hard to get a business travel visa from Afghanistan. Just 112 were granted in May, 2017; 780 visas were issued to visitors from Iraq and 4,067 from Pakistan.
FIRST Global president and former congressman Joe Sestak was disappointed by the news and frustrated that the “extraordinarily brave young women” won’t be able to travel to the United States and instead will have to watch their robot compete via Skype. Teams from Iraq, Iran and Sudan will be at the competition.
Mahboob is frustrated, but she still thinks the teenagers can serve as an inspiration for others. “In Afghanistan, as you know it’s a very man-dominated industry,” Mahboob said, according to Newsweek. “The girls, they’re showing at a young age that they can build something.”
BRIDGEWATER, N.J.—A day after defending his use of social media as befitting a “modern day” president, President Donald Trump appeared to promote violence against CNN in a tweet.
Trump, who is on vacation at his Bedminster golf resort, posted on Twitter an old video clip of him performing in a WWE professional wrestling match, but with a CNN logo superimposed on the head of his opponent. In the clip, Trump is shown slamming the CNN avatar to the ground and pounding him with punches and elbows to the head. Trump added the hastags #FraudNewsCNN and #FNN, for “fraud news network.”
The video clip apparently had been posted days earlier on Reddit, a popular social media message board. The president’s tweet was the latest escalation in his beef with CNN over its coverage of him and his administration.
A White House spokeswoman with the travelling press corps hotel here in Bridgewater, a few kilomres from Trump’s golf club, declined to immediately address the questions about the tweet. Trump has no public events planned for Sunday; his schedule lists phone calls Sunday night with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. He is scheduled to return to Washington on Monday evening and participate in an Independence Day event at the White House on Tuesday.
On ABC’s This Week, Homeland Security adviser Tom Bossert dismissed the idea that the tweet might be a threat, while he praised the president for “genuine” communication.
“No one would perceive that as a threat, I hope they don’t,” Bossert said, referring to the tweet.
In a statement, CNN called it “a sad day when the President of the United States encourages violence against reporters.” The network cited Trump’s “juvenile behaviour far below the dignity of his office. We will keep doing our jobs. He should start doing his.”
The company’s communications department Twitter account responded to Trump’s tweet by quoting White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders during a briefing last week when she said: “The president in no way form or fashion has ever promoted or encouraged violence. If anything, quite the contrary.”
In the statement, CNN said: “Clearly, Sarah Huckabee Sanders lied when she said the President had never done so.”
Trump’s ire at CNN has increased since CNN retracted a story last week that said the Senate was investigating connections between one of his transition aides and the head of a Russian bank; the network fired three reporters and editors over the report, but the White House has continued to denounce the story.
On Saturday, Trump called CNN “fake news” and “garbage journalism.” He also implied that his critics are wrong to suggest that it is beneath the office of the presidency to attack rivals on Twitter. He said he was compelled to weaponize the medium to defeat “fake news” organizations:
“....the 2016 election with interviews, speeches and social media. I had to beat #FakeNews, and did. We will continue to WIN!”
“My use of social media is not Presidential — it’s MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL. Make America Great Again!”
Trump also spent a chunk of a speech at the Celebrate Freedom rally for veterans and religious freedom at the Kennedy Center on Saturday night denouncing and taunting the media.
“The fake media is trying to silence us, but we will not let them. The people know the truth,” Trump said. “The fake media tried to stop us from going to the White House, but I’m president and they’re not.”
He drew a standing ovation from the crowd, which waved miniature American flags.
The video clip appears to be from a WWE appearance in which the president body slammed WWE Chairman Vince McMahon as part of the “Battle of the Billionaires.”
Trump, a New York real estate developer and promoter, has had a long association with the WWE and was inducted into its Hall of Fame in 2013. At the ceremony, WWE chairman Vince McMahon referred to Trump as “a WrestleMania institution” and recalled this episode, which culminated with Trump participating in shaving McMahon’s head in the ring.
Trump’s acceptance speech includes this line: “I will challenge Vince next year to a fight, and I will kick his ass, if he wants. I will kick his ass.”
Trump appointed McMahon’s wife, Linda, as the head of the federal Small Business Administration.
Bossert echoed a line of defence that other Trump surrogates have employed in recent days: that when Trump’s policies are attacked in the media, he has a right to counterpunch — in this case, physically.
“He’s beaten up, in a way, on the cable platforms — he has a right to respond,” Bossert said.
Bossert argued that the tweet might actually a good thing, because “whatever the content of that tweet or any particular tweet, he’s generated a genuine ability to communicate directly” with the American people.
“Importantly here, he’s a genuine president expressing himself genuinely.” Bossert said. He added that he was “pretty proud of the president for developing a Twitter and a social media platform where he can talk directly to the American people.”
When host Martha Raddatz pressed him to weigh in on the appropriateness of the tweet, Bossert accused the media of harping on it instead of focusing on more substantive issues.
“It’s a good example of you or the media producers here deciding what we talk about and what we don’t talk about,” he said.
A Toronto man who was in critical condition after being pulled out from Lake Simcoe on Canada Day has died, police say.
A group of men were in the water at Sibbald Point Provincial Park on Saturday afternoon when one of them went through a deeper area and panicked, said Sgt. Kerry Schmidt of the Ontario Provincial Police.
Another man from the group tried to help, Schmidt said, but both men weren’t able to surface from the water.
Rescuers pulled both men and performed CPR, Schimdt said. They were taken to local hospital where one of the men was revived.
The other victim, aged 19, was pronounced dead at the hospital, Schimdt said. The next of kin has been notified but the OPP isn’t releasing the identity of the victim.
Schmidt said it’s important to always take precautions like wearing life jackets when swimming this summer.
“We don’t want this kind of thing happening. Sadly one person paid for it with their life.” Schmidt said.
Toronto police are asking for the public’s help in locating a service dog they believe was stolen.
Police responded to a call for a stolen dog at 2 a.m. Sunday in the area of Bloor St. W. and Ossington Ave.
Princess, a six-year-old teacup Chihuahua, was secured to a railing by her 28-year-old owner before she entered a fast food restaurant, police said.
Police allege that Princess was unclipped from the harness and taken.
The dog is described as six pounds, with medium-brown hair with blonde stripes. She was wearing a pinky body harness.
Anyone with information on Princess’s whereabouts is asked to contact police at 416-808-1400 or Crime Stoppers.
In April, a Pomeranian/Shih Tzu named Kobe was tied outside a fast food restaurant when a man took it away. The dog was found tied to a post a few blocks from the restaurant four days later.
OTTAWA—It was a grand birthday bash with a touch of royalty, a splash of celebrity, song and dance and a sea of red and white.
Tens of thousands of people, young and old from near and far, braved downpours and massive security lines to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday on Parliament Hill and surrounding streets.
“I wanted to do something to commemorate the year. It had to be a Canuck trip,” said Amelia MacKenzie, who travelled to Ottawa from Vancouver, one stop in a month-long itinerary that has already taken her to Atlantic Canada.
“This is the best country in the world. We had to celebrate,” said Ottawa resident Kulsoom Quasim, who attended the day’s events with daughters Zehra and Mariam.
They joined thousands of others, many with Canadian flags tucked in shirt pockets and backpacks, to mark a milestone that was a century and a half in the making.
In speeches to the crowd, Prince Charles, Governor General David Johnston and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau all paid tribute to a country they said respects diversity and serves as a model for the world.
“We don’t aspire to be a melting pot. We know true strength and resilience flows through Canadian diversity,” Trudeau said.
“We don’t care where you’re from or what religion you practise or whom you love. You are all welcome in Canada,” he said to cheers and applause.
For many Indigenous peoples, Canada’s 150th is more of a painful reminder than a cause to celebrate. That was highlighted by activists who this week are holding what they called a “reoccupation” by erecting a teepee near the main stage to draw attention to the fact Parliament Hill sits on Algonquin territory that is still unceded.
“Our past is far from perfect,” Trudeau acknowledged. “For centuries, Indigenous peoples have been victims of oppression, from the time when the first explorers celebrated their discovery of the new world.”
“As a society, we must therefore acknowledge past mistakes, accept our responsibility, and take action to ensure that each and every Canadian has a bright future.”
Trudeau tripped up at one point when he left Alberta out of a roll call of provinces and territories, a faux pas he atoned for later.
Prince Charles said others look to Canada as an example of “fairness and inclusion, of always striving to be better.”
“Around the world, Canada is recognized as a champion of human rights, as a peacekeeper, as a responsible steward of the environment and natural resources and a powerful and consistent example of diversity,” he said.
He singled out Canada’s efforts at reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, saying it demonstrated “a remarkable determination to forge an ever better society.”
He also honoured Canada’s military sacrifices, noting the recent centennial commemoration of the Battle of Vimy Ridge in France.
“Thousands gave of themselves on those fields, far from their homes. That was a gift to all our futures and one we must never forget,” said Charles, who was on the last day of a three-day visit to Canada with his wife, Camilla.
This one-time lumber town, chosen as the capital by Queen Victoria a decade before Confederation, was the centre for sesquicentennial celebrations that unfolded nationwide on Saturday.
Canadians partied from Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square, to the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City, Saskatoon’s Diefenbaker Park and Signal Hill in St. John’s. Canadian Armed Forces personnel deployed abroad in locales such as Kuwait and Latvia marked the day with ball hockey games, BBQs and Tim Hortons coffee.
Charles and Camilla, who earlier opened a new gallery at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que., arrived at Parliament Hill just before noon in a horse-drawn landau with an escort of RCMP officers in red serge on horseback.
The royal couple was welcomed by Trudeau, and was joined by his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, their three children, Johnston and his wife, Sharon Johnson, at the Centennial Flame — first lit 50 years ago to celebrate Canada’s centennial anniversary.
The entourage then greeted First Nations leaders, including Assembly of First Nations Grand Chief Perry Bellegarde, Métis National Council President Clément Chartier, and Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.
Indigenous performers led the party with songs and dancing, guiding the dignitaries to their seats in front of the main stage.
On July 1, 1867, Canada was three provinces with 3.3 million people. Today, the nation has 10 provinces, three territories and 35.1 million people. Looking at the lineups hoping to get into the show on Parliament Hill, it seemed at times that all 35.1 million were in Ottawa for the celebration.
By noon, the wait to get through the two security checkpoints was hours-long with lineups snaking through downtown streets. It seemed certain that thousands would be left disappointed and frustrated.
Carolyn Shedden said she had moved just two blocks on Queen St. in two hours, but still hoped to catch the tail end of early entertainment.
“It’s actually over?” Shedden asked, laughing when the Star broke the news she had missed the midday show.
“I’ll stick it out . . . . There was a family of four adults and four children (who left). The kids, they were just really tired of standing around. It’s too much for young families.”
Security was tight. With recent attacks in London, officials were taking no chances. All visitors to the Hill had to undergo airport-like security screening. Police officers, some armed with carbine rifles, were out in force. Garbage trucks and other heavy equipment blocked off downtown streets, a stark reminder of terrorist attacks in Europe where vehicles were used to run down pedestrians. A field hospital had been set up in a nearby park.
The day got off to a sodden start as torrential rains soaked visitors, turned Parliament Hill’s front lawn into a muddy mess and left puddles so big fire crews were called in to pump them out.
But by noon the rain had abated and spirits were high as the noon-hour kicked off the festivities.
Opened by the legendary Buffy Sainte-Marie, the afternoon show included performances from Marie-Mai, Patrick Watson and Walk Off the Earth. One half of U2, Bono and The Edge, performed a scaled down acoustic version of the band’s hit “One.”
Serge Ibaka is headed back to the Raptors.
NBA sources have confirmed a report by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that the free agent power forward/centre has agreed to a three-year, $65 million (all figures US) contract with Toronto.
The deal won’t become official until the NBA’s moratorium on free agent signings is lifted Thursday but it will keep the 6-foot-10, 27-year-old in Toronto and is a major step towards keeping the Raptors roster intact for at least the short-term future.
Ibaka was paid $12.25 million last season, when he was acquired in February from Orlando for Terrence Ross and a 2017 draft pick.
In 23 regular season games with Toronto, Ibaka averaged 14.2 points and 6.8 rebounds per game; he averaged 14.3 points and 6.5 rebounds in 10 playoff games.
Signing Ibaka was a key off-season move for Raptors president Masai Ujiri, who remains in discussions with representatives of free agent guard Kyle Lowry.
The Raptors saw one free agent — forward P.J. Tucker — leave for a four-year deal with the Houston Rockets on Saturday.
Ibaka’s return means it’s highly unlikely the Raptors will have any interest in retaining free agent Patrick Patterson.
The woman in the witness box is defiant and clear as she recounts a litany of abuse to the court, including being sex trafficked, raped and held against her will.
She is an actress. So is the Crown, the judge and the accused men — one played by the son of one of the real judges who helped make this video. The script is taken verbatim from transcripts from a real case and it was made to educate judges about human trafficking, domestic violence and why a victim may not leave an abusive partner, may not call the police and may have an emotional connection to their abuser.
The goal was to learn to address these issues “institutionally as judges, individually as judges and individually as people,” Alberta Court of Appeal Justice Sheilah Martin told a group of about 45 judges in a conference room at a downtown Toronto hotel.
The Star was given access to the conference as debates continue around what education judges receive about issues such as gender-based violence, how effective it is and whether education in sexual assault law should be mandatory — questions sparked by the inquiry into Alberta judge Robin Camp, who infamously asked a sexual assault complainant why she didn’t just keep her knees together, and by a number of high-profile cases, including most recently an Alberta judge’s shocking decision to jail an Indigenous sexual assault complainant for the duration of her testimony at a preliminary hearing.
At the conference, after watching two segments of the video, the group was invited to write down one word that describes how they feel about what they saw.
The responses read later by Martin included “horror,” “sadness,” “disillusionment” and “helpless.”
During a break the judges submitted questions to a panel moderated by Martin and including fellow Alberta Court of Appeal Justice Sheila Greckol, U.S. judge Ann Goldstein from the International Association of Women Judges, and Nicole Barrett, an expert on law and human trafficking from the University of British Columbia.
The first question — how common is the woman’s explanation for why she did not leave?
Barrett said the story is all too familiar.
“She is isolated from others, she lacks financial independence, she has broken self-esteem, she has a fear of escalated violence, she has a fear of retaliation, that they will tell her family, a psychological bond with her abuser,” she said. “Once you start listing the reasons she doesn’t leave, it becomes fairly overwhelming.”
This particular complainant is somewhat of an outlier because of the clarity and detail of her memory, she noted.
The next question struck at the heart of why judges were in that room on a Thursday morning.
“Until this job and judicial education,” the question began, “I had no way to be aware this happens to ordinary folk.”
In the wake of the Camp inquiry and other high-profile cases, Ontario made it mandatory for new judges to be trained in sexual assault law. The Canadian Judicial Council, which oversees judicial education, made training for new judges officially mandatory in March.
A fast-tracked federal bill proposed by former Conservative leader Rona Ambrose is now before the Senate. It would require lawyers applying to be judges to have completed sexual assault law and social context education. It would also require the Canadian Judicial Council to report annually on what sexual assault-related education they provide, how many judges take part, and how many judges preside over sexual assault cases but have not taken such a seminar.
“Canadian courts are failing to send the message that sexual assault and all forms of violence against women are unacceptable,” says Lise Martin, executive director of Women's Shelters Canada, in her submission to the Status of Women Committee in support of mandatory and ongoing education for judges in gender-based violence and the impacts of trauma.
“We continue to see our work undermined by Canadian judges, who label domestic violence as a private matter and misunderstand the basic ideas and laws about consent and sexual assault,” Martin says.
This particular conference in June was unusual because it was only for women judges who make up just 38 per cent of the total number of federally appointed judges. The sessions on the topic “Safety and Security of Women,” which included a seminar on the issues presented by sexual assault trials, were organized by the federally-funded National Judicial Institute and the Canadian chapter of the International Association of Women Judges.
In an interview Superior Court Justice Patricia Hennessy, who is based in Sudbury and is currently working on judicial education for Indigenous issues, referred to the human trafficking case discussed earlier.
“The first step is to recognize that is not our reality,” she said, of the woman involved.
“Does it make sense that she would not have left. Does that make sense? That is what the defence would like us to conclude, it makes no sense that she would not have left. But we don't know her reality.”
Hennessey said judges do need ongoing education in various areas of the law and in changing social context — and that the training courses being developed by the National Judicial Institute and taught courts across the country are crucial.
“The criminal laws have changed as societies have changed,” Justice Martin said, adding that it is important for judges to understand how and why those changes happened.
Training for judges has shifted away from “talking heads” and instead is focused on problem-solving and group work, she said. That includes videos and expert analysis as in the Thursday seminar and “experiential learning” such as spending time with Indigenous communities.
“It’s the most effective thing we’ve ever seen,” Martin said. “Can it solve all the issues? No, it can’t.”
The goal of the “social context” education, specifically cited in the federal bill, is to help judges understand diverse life situations of the people that we serve, said Justice Adele Kent, who heads the National Judicial Institute. “Judges have to understand the people they are judging.”
That training examines race, disability, region, poverty, mental illness and gender-based violence and is designed, like the human trafficking seminar, with input from academics and community groups, she said, addressing criticism that the training doesn’t incorporate the experiences of those impacted.
“I think we all carry with us a certain amount of prejudice or stereotypical thinking,” Greckol said. “We all do and it’s defined by race and gender and . . . class, economic class is a big factor. So we come with that baggage and that is obviously going to weigh into our thinking about things. So I think what judicial education is about is disabusing our judges of predispositions to thinking in certain ways and the broadening of the mind to accept there are no predetermined answers to questions.”
She said it has been very useful for judges to have frank and open discussions about their prejudices and have educators explain why it is a myth or stereotype.
Then the question is, when training is given at optional conferences like this one, “are we preaching to the converted?” said Toronto Superior Court Judge Julie Thorburn, the organizer of this conference.
Ongoing training for judges in specific areas is not mandatory by law, but she said the education programs organized at each court twice a year are effectively mandatory. And those education courses are constantly improving, she said.
“At the end of the day I think we are talking about decency and sensitivity to people and situations, and sometimes it is difficult to train people to be decent and to be sensitive to others,” she said. “We try.”
At the conference in Toronto skepticism was expressed by judges about how effective sexual assault law training for applicants would be if it were just offered online to preserve anonymity. A better suggestion they said is requiring applicants to commit to ongoing judicial education. One judge questioned why sexual assault education is being singled out as compulsory, when training in other areas such as Indigenous law may be just as important.
There is an acknowledgement that there is a need for more diversity on the bench.
They said more also needs to be done across the board to tackle sexual assault — from the police and lawyers to alternative models from the criminal justice system.
In the courtroom “we can start from the very basics,” Kent says. “To be polite to people . . . to make sure people feel comfortable. To make people feel they are valued even if it ends up in an acquittal.”
Thorburn said it can be helpful to judges to hear expert evidence in certain cases in order for them to have something to rely on when assessing credibility.
Martin too stressed the importance of social science research. “Judges should not rely on untested assumptions about human behaviour,” she said.
There is no one way for people who have been traumatized to react. Victims of sexual assault do not have to have screamed or resisted to be credible.
But, she said, attitudes may not have changed with the law.
“We can work on those kind of underlying assumptions that may undercut credibility in a manner that isn’t fair and equal,” she said.
WEST CHESTER, PA.—Police have arrested a Pennsylvania man suspected of fatally shooting an 18-year-old driver in a fit of road rage because, a prosecutor said, he “didn’t want her to merge into a lane of traffic.”
David Desper, 28, is charged with first- and third-degree murder, possession of an instrument of crime and reckless endangering, according to Philadelphia ABC affiliate WPVI. He surrendered to authorities around 2 a.m. Sunday, ending a three-state manhunt.
The shooting occurred during rush hour on Wednesday, as Bianca Nikol Roberson was returning home from a shopping trip for college clothes.
The teen and another driver started to merge into the same lane, “jostling for the position” on Route 100 in West Goshen Township, more than 30 miles from Philadelphia, said Michael Noone, first assistant district attorney for the Chester County District Attorney’s Office. Roberson’s vehicle veered from the roadway and crashed into a tree, police said in a statement.
But the officers who responded to the crash soon determined that the teen had been shot in the head, police said. She was pronounced dead at the scene. The other driver was nowhere to be found.
“We’re doing everything we can to catch this suspect and bring him to justice,” Noone told The Washington Post on Friday.
West Goshen Township is at the southeastern tip of Pennsylvania, near the border with Delaware and New Jersey, so authorities searched for the suspect — described in initial reports as a white man between 30 and 40 years old in a red pickup truck — in three states.
The truck was last seen exiting Route 202 onto Paoli Pike.
Roberson had graduated from Rustin High School in West Chester, Pennsylvania, and was set to attend Jacksonville University. She had hoped to one day work for the FBI, according to WPVI.
“She was a good girl, honor roll student, looking forward to going to college,” her father, Rodney Roberson, told the news station.
He pleaded with the other driver to help close his daughter’s case.
“If you don’t even think it was your fault, and have a conscience, come forward and give us some closure and explain in your own words what happened,” he said, according to the news station.
While speaking to reporters on Thursday, Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan also directly addressed the other driver.
“To that man who fired that shot, turn yourself in now,” Hogan said. “Every second you are out there, you are only making this worse for yourself and making this worse for this young lady’s family.”
Read more: It’s time to rise above road rage, Toronto
Samantha was 18 and living in a shelter when she gave birth to her eldest daughter — just one of an estimated 300 babies born each year to homeless or underhoused women in Toronto.
Pregnant and living between the streets and a shelter, Samantha, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, said she was scared of losing her baby before she’d even had the chance to meet her.
“I was working my hardest to get a place before I had her,” she said.
If she found a home before she gave birth, she wouldn’t have to answer questions about her living situation, she said.
It’s a common fear among pregnant and underhoused women, experts say, and not an unreasonable one.
Child protection services can become involved when there are concerns about housing, said Maritza Sanchez, the executive director of Jessie’s: the June Callwood Centre for Young Women, a Toronto-based resource centre for pregnant teens, young parents and their children.
That fear is one reason that the data, which relies on pregnant women and mothers to self-identify as homeless or underhoused, has shockingly under-represented the scope of the issue in Toronto.
Now a group of front-line health workers is trying to change that.
In a commentary published this month in the journal Paediatrics & Child Health, five medical professionals from Sick Kids, an epidemiologist with Toronto Public Health and a University of Toronto medical student called for a more collaborative model of data collection to get a clearer picture of pregnancy and homelessness.
“Homelessness is so stigmatized, members of this community will often try to conceal their homeless status,” said Joyce Bernstein, one of the commentary’s authors and an epidemiologist with Toronto Public Health.
“In the case of a homeless new mother, who assumes her status will mean immediate loss of custody, there is added incentive to not disclose her homelessness,” she said.
According to Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, in the past six years the number of babies born to homeless parents in Ontario each year ranged from fewer than five to eight.
The numbers show there were fewer than five babies born to homeless or underhoused women in Ontario in 2011; six in 2012; six in 2013; fewer than five in 2014; six in 2015; and eight in 2016.
Those figures are based on data that is self-reported by women who give birth in hospital and collected by the Canadian Institute for Health Information, which is then provided to the health ministry. The numbers don’t include babies that may have been born in a shelter or elsewhere.
A collaborative effort by the organization Young Parents No Fixed Address and 17 of its member agencies in Toronto has found that the numbers are much higher.
Between 2012 and 2014, the participating organizations tracked births among their underhoused clients, compared the data, and found there were roughly 300 babies born each year to homeless mothers in Toronto alone — women who may be living in detention facilities, shelters, refugee centres, couch surfing or temporarily staying with family or friends.
“We suspect that this is if anything an underestimation given the fact that it’s not an exhaustive review of all agencies serving the population,” said Dr. Ashley Vandermorris, the commentary’s senior author and a doctor with the young families program at Sick Kids.
“Understanding the magnitude of this issue is the first step” toward finding solutions for families, said Vandermorris, who believes this should be an ongoing data collection effort.
The group is looking for more partners.
“Ongoing effective monitoring of this at-risk group will require assistance from the (Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care) or other established surveillance programs, as community-based networks may be affected by changes in individual agency policies, management and staffing,” the authors wrote.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health said the government recognizes self-reported data is “subject to bias and under-reporting.”
“The ministry is inclined to continue using this data since it is as accurate as possible and follows a standard format used by other provinces and territories as well,” a ministry spokesperson, David Jensen, said, adding that it provides a way for provinces and territories to benchmark against each other.
Data collection is just a first step, said Sick Kids’s Vandermorris, who wants to see more collaboration in the services and supports offered to vulnerable women and their children.
“There isn’t going to be a one size fits all solution and there’s not a one size fits all entity that can support these families, it needs to come from all of us,” she said.
For Samantha, who had her second baby girl two months ago, it’s the people rooting for her who have made all the difference.
Finding an apartment was a challenge, one she may have given up on without the support and advocacy of her housing worker at the time, she said.
Sanchez agrees the services and support workers available to pregnant women and mothers in vulnerable situations are important — but the issues are more complex than that, she said.
“The problem is there isn’t enough affordable housing in the City of Toronto,” she said.
Patrick Marleau has spent 19 years in a fruitless search for the Stanley Cup. He wants his name on it badly.
Marleau believes the Maple Leafs — and not the San Jose Sharks, who made it to the final just two springs ago — give him his best chance.
“It was the team, I think, the excitement that’s around it, the youth, the coaching staff, the coach, the management, the way they see the game going, the players that they have on their roster,” Marleau said on a conference call with the Toronto media Sunday. “It’s extremely exciting to be a part of that.”
The long-time Shark signed a three-year deal with the Maple Leafs worth $18.75 million that contains a full no-movement clause. Marleau turns 38 in September and becomes Toronto’s oldest and highest-paid player.
“I think I’ve worn out a few carpets pacing around the house trying to make this decision over the last couple days,” Marleau said. “I’m extremely excited and happy to be part of the Maple Leafs organization. It’s definitely an honour to be able to call myself a Maple Leaf, obviously being a Canadian-born player.
“The decision took me quite a while to come to, but I’ve made it and I’m happy with it and I can’t wait to get started.”
Marleau, one of coach Mike Babcock’s favourites from their days together with Team Canada, could very well be the left winger for Auston Matthews, who was 14 days old when Marleau played his first NHL game.
Marleau has 1,082 points in his 19 seasons and hasn’t missed a regular-season game since 2008-09. More to the point, he has 177 career playoff games and could be a difference maker there.
Marleau can also take faceoffs — he took 215 last year — but is most comfortable on the wing. That means changes to the Leafs forwards are in the offing, whether it’s as simple as Zach Hyman finding a new spot in the lineup, or more complicated with perhaps James van Riemsdyk being offered in a trade for a defenceman.
The Leafs signed a couple of other older players Saturday — centre Dominic Moore and defenceman Ron Hainsey, both 36 — as the team clearly is turning to older players to help guide their stable of young stars.
“You only have one chance to do something like this and we would not have done it if it was not the right player. The timing is perfect,” said GM Lou Lamoriello. “Coming off the season we had last year, the year that our young players had, the difficulty of taking the next step, that giving them a veteran who can be put into any position in the lineup and support these players, help these players, it’s hard to explain how excited we are to have Patrick here.”
Prying Marleau from the only team he’s ever played for took some doing.
“It was extremely difficult,” Marleau said. “The owners, Hasso Plattner and all the other owners here, the organization’s been first class to me over the 19 years that I’ve been here. My wife and four boys, it was extremely tough to finally pull the trigger and have them to move to a new country, one coast to the other, but everybody here in our house is extremely excited to be a part of the Maple Leafs and where they’re going. I’m ecstatic to be a part of that.”
Marleau has represented Canada several times, capturing two Olympic gold medals with Babcock (2010, 2014) as well as one World Cup gold medal (2004), and one gold (2003) and one silver (2005) at the world hockey championship.
The Leafs have had an uneven history lately with signing older free agents. Stephane Robidas played only one of his three years, meaning his final two years were a drag on the team’s salary cap.
The Leafs have built some protection into Marleau’s contract. Marleau will take home $8.5 milllion this season, $6 million next and $4.25 million in the final year, meaning a cap hit of $6.25 million annually. And $14.5 million of his $18.75 million is in signing bonuses. In his final year, Marleau will be paid only $1.25 million, while still carrying a $6.25 million cap hit. That can be valuable to some teams trying to reach the league’s mandated salary cap floor. The veteran has a full no-trade clause, but those things are often negotiable.
TRENTON, N.J.— Gov. Chris Christie got blistered online Monday after he was photographed sunning himself on a New Jersey beach that he had closed to the public over the Fourth of July weekend because of a government shutdown.
Commenters mocked the governor as selfish and arrogant and cracked wise about the sight of Christie in a beach chair in sandals, shorts and a T-shirt. The photo soon found itself inserted into an Oval Office picture and scenes from Planet of the Apes, From Here to Eternity and The Sopranos.
Christie defended his use of the beach, saying that he had previously announced his plans to vacation at the state-owned governor’s beach house and that the media had simply “caught a politician keeping his word.”
The deeply unpopular Republican was photographed Sunday by NJ.com at Island Beach State Park. He and his family had the sun and sand all to themselves.
“I didn’t get any sun today,” Christie told reporters at a news conference later in the day in Trenton. Then, when told of the photos, his spokesman told NJ.com that what the governor said was true because Christie was wearing a baseball hat.
Online, one user joked that Christie was promoting the state’s whale-watching industry. Another shared video of a simulated tsunami, saying it was the aftermath of Christie jumping into the water.
Others likened the beach closing to the 2013 scheme by Christie allies to cause huge traffic jams at the George Washington Bridge. Some said Christie was trying to outdo U.S. President Donald Trump in low approval ratings.
“SON OF A BEACH,” screamed London’s Daily Mail.
Christie’s lieutenant-governor, who is running in November to succeed him, said Christie’s beach time was “beyond words.”
“If I were governor, I sure wouldn’t be sitting on the beach if taxpayers didn’t have access to state beaches,” said Republican Lt.-Gov. Kim Guadagano.
Christie ordered the shutdown of non-essential state services over the holiday weekend — including parks, beaches and motor vehicle offices — in a stalemate over his demand that Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield be overhauled so that the state can tap into the non-profit insurer’s surplus to finance drug treatment.
Christie, who is heading into his final six months in office with approval ratings at an abysmal 15 per cent, made supporting the $34.7 billion state budget contingent on the overhaul.
Christie has blamed a top Democratic lawmaker for the shutdown, with the state plastering CLOSED signs at parks with Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto’s picture and office phone number.
“That’s the way it goes,” Christie said Saturday about his family’s use of the beach home. “Run for governor, and you can have the residence.”
Later, after he was photographed on the beach, he sarcastically called it a “great bit of journalism.”
“They actually caught a politician being where he said he was going to be with the people he said he was going to be with, his wife and children and their friends,” Christie said in an interview with the New York Fox TV station. “I am sure they will get a Pulitzer for this one.”
Christie’s ratings nosedived after three of his former allies were charged in the George Washington Bridge political revenge scandal, after he threw his support to Trump, and after his own presidential campaign fizzled.
In the past year, he was passed over for vice-president, demoted as Trump’s transition chairman, and denied a top-level administration post of his liking.
But Christie regularly says that the only time popularity counts is when you’re running for something — and he’s not. “I don’t care,” he said recently when asked about the fall in his ratings.
Among those affected by the shutdown were Cub Scouts forced to leave a state park campsite and people trying to obtain or renew motor vehicle documents.
Liberty State Park was closed, forcing the suspension of ticket sales and ferry service to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. But the two sites remained open.
Prisons, state police, state hospitals and New Jersey’s bus and commuter railroad remain open. The vast majority of beaches are open as well, since most are controlled not by the state but by towns up and down New Jersey’s 130 miles of coastline.
“Come and enjoy them,” Christie tweeted Monday, “but use sunscreen and hydrate.”
Ontario’s Divisional Court has ordered an end to the secrecy surrounding the province’s highest-billing doctors.
A three-judge panel dismissed an application to quash an order from Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner to make the names of the highest-paid physicians public, ruling that the order was a reasonable one.
The court accepted that the names of the doctors, in conjunction with the amounts they receive in OHIP payments and their medical specialties, are not “personal information.” They are, therefore, not exempt from disclosure under the province’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
The Star has been trying to get physician-identified payment data from the province for more than three years. The effort started with a freedom of information request to Ontario’s Health Ministry in 2014.
The ministry refused to release the names, arguing that doing so would be an unjustified invasion of privacy. The Star successfully appealed to the privacy commissioner, but then three groups of doctors, including the Ontario Medical Association, sought a judicial review.
In an unanimous decision released late Friday afternoon, the court rejected the doctors’ argument that the Star had failed to establish a proper rationale for the disclosure.
Justice Ian Nordheimer, writing on behalf of the majority, said the argument ignores the well-established rationale that underlies access to information legislation.
“The rationale is that the public is entitled to information in the possession of their governments so that the public may, among other things, hold their governments accountable,” the decision states.
Nordheimer said the Star did not require a reason to obtain the information. The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act mandates that information is to be provided unless a privacy exception is demonstrated.
Once it is determined that the information is not personal information, there is no statutory basis to refuse to provide it, he wrote.
“The proper question to be asked in this context . . . is not ‘why do you need it?’ but rather ‘why should you not have it,’ ” the decision states.
The top 100 OHIP billers took in a combined $191 million in 2012-13, according to the limited information supplied by the ministry in response to the Star’s FOI request.
The highest biller alone claimed more than $6 million, while the second- and third-highest billers each claimed more than $4 million. Nineteen doctors received payments of more than $2 million each.
The court’s ruling is important because it will affect how the Information and Privacy Commissioner deals with another appeal by the Star, this one seeking the release of physician-identified billings for all Ontario doctors. The commissioner put that appeal on hold, pending the outcome of this case.
It is not yet known whether the doctors will appeal the latest ruling.
“I don’t know yet. I just got decision and sent it to my client,” said lawyer Joe Colangelo, who represents the OMA. “We are going to study it, digest it and make a decision early next week on what we intend to do.”
Lawyer Linda Galessiere, who represents a group known as “Affected Third Party Doctors,” said she was out of town and had not yet spoken to her clients.
Lawyer Chris Dockrill, who represents a group that describes itself as “Several Physicians Affected by the Order,” could not be reached for comment.
Other jurisdictions release this kind of data annually: New Brunswick began to do so earlier this week; the United States started in 2014; Manitoba in 1996, and British Columbia in 1971.
Ontario already makes public the names and salaries of doctors employed in the public sector — for example, at hospitals — in its annual Sunshine List of public servants earning more than $100,000.
But they represent only a small fraction of Ontario’s 29,000 physicians, most of whom work as independent contractors.
In opposing the release of the names, the three physician groups argued that John Higgins, an adjudicator with the office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, had erred in departing from previous commission orders that found such information was personal.
Higgins had concluded that physicians receive OHIP payments in relation to a business or profession. The monies do not reflect actual income, as physicians themselves argued, because doctors pay for overhead expenses out of them. OHIP payments, therefore, do not reveal personal information about the doctors.
The doctors complained that Higgins failed to justify his departure from previous commission rulings. But Nordheimer wrote that he did not view the “applicants’ criticism on this point to be a fair one.”
Not only was Higgins not bound by earlier decisions of the privacy commission, but he explained his departure from them “head on,” Nordheimer said.
Toronto-born rapper Drake shocked the masses with a surprise concert on Sunday night at Nathan Phillips Square.
City Hall has hosted numerous events for the Canada 150 celebrations, including fireworks and concerts every night in the square. Acts have included Barenaked Ladies, the Born Ruffians, Ron Sexsmith, Shad and Buffy Sainte-Marie. However, Drake was never announced as being a participant.
The R&B duo dvsn performed Sunday evening as planned, and instead of a full concert, gave fans a shorter set to make time for Drake’s appearance on stage.
The duo shares a Toronto producer with Drake and is also part of Drake’s OVO Sound label.
A photo from the stage showing Drake watching the evening fireworks at City Hall was later posted on his Instagram page.
Fans at the square took to Twitter to share their surprise and excitement, while other fans also took to Twitter to share their dismay that they had missed it.
Drake is next scheduled to perform in Toronto on August 7 at the Budweiser Stage.
A Canadian shot at a New York hospital was completing his residency there, his father says.
Justin Timperio, 29, of St. Catharines, Ont., was one of six people wounded during a shooting at the Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center on Friday. He is being treated at Manhattan’s Mount Sinai Hospital and is in stable condition in the surgical intensive care unit.
“The most damaging was straight to the liver,” said his father, Dr. Luciano Timperio, a dental surgeon in St. Catharines. “He had several in his intestines, one in his stomach, and one grazed his lungs, as well. He was basically sprayed with bullets.”
Timperio said his son’s condition has stabilized enough that he can receive an operation on Monday. The younger Timperio is heavily sedated and can’t speak because of a tube in his throat to aid his breathing.
The barrage of gunfire claimed the life of one doctor before the shooter killed himself.
Timperio says his son was doing his residency in New York because he hadn’t got into an Ontario medical school or residency program in the province. He said the provincial system highlights a lack of opportunity in Canada for young, aspiring doctors.
“If we could somehow fix the problem of getting our own homegrown kids to go to medical school in Ontario, this wouldn’t have happened,” he said.
His believes son “couldn’t get into an Ontario school because of so few spots,” he said. “He graduated with a 90-per-cent average.”
After graduating from Brock University with a degree in biochemistry, Justin Timperio went to American University of the Caribbean for his medical degree before beginning his residency at Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center.
The issue is twofold, Timperio said. Aside from a lack of space in medical schools, there are also few spots available in residency programs in Ontario.
The Star reported last month that Ontario cut 25 residency posts for the 2016-17 training year. The provincial Health Ministry said the number of doctors in Ontario is projected to grow faster than the population, resulting in an average net increase of 650 physicians each year until 2025, even with reductions to the number of residencies.
This year, the number of unmatched students hit a record high of 68. Thirty-five of them were from Ontario, according to the Canadian Resident Matching Service, which runs the application process and the algorithm used to assign graduates to programs. Competition to get into medical school and subsequent residency programs is fierce.
Timperio said his son started working at Bronx-Lebanon about three years ago, for the clinical component of his medical training. He was then accepted to the hospital’s family residency medical program, where he has worked for the past year.
“He was just finishing up, he was going to start second year,” his father said. “Well, he was supposed to start second year.”
“I imagine he will return to his residency program once he’s fit,” his father said, adding that people love him at the hospital.
“He’s a great family resident,” he said. “He’s so helpful and young. We need him here (in Canada).”
After the shooting on Friday, the assailant, identified as Dr. Henry Bello by New York police, turned the barrel of an assault rifle and fatally shot himself. Bello, a family doctor, was a former employee at the hospital.
A law enforcement official told The Associated Press that Bello arrived at Bronx-Lebanon Hospital with an assault rifle hidden under his lab coat and asked for a specific doctor who he blamed for forcing him to resign. The physician wasn’t there at the time.
Authorities said Bello went to the 16th and 17th floors and started shooting anyway, killing Dr. Tracy Sin-Yee Tam, also a family doctor. Hospital officials said that Tam, 32, normally worked in one of the hospital’s satellite clinics and was covering a shift in the main hospital as a favour to someone else.
“The individual was initially brought on as a house physician in August of 2014,” said a hospital spokesperson, Errol Schneer. “He subsequently resigned in lieu of termination in February of 2015.”
Bello resigned because of his “inability to meet the performance standards and policies of the hospital,” Schneer added.
Before the shooting, Bello sent an email to the New York Daily News, blaming colleagues he said forced him to resign two years earlier.
“This hospital terminated my road to a licensure to practise medicine,” the email said. “First, I was told it was because I always kept to myself. Then it was because of an altercation with a nurse.”
His former co-workers described a man who was aggressive, loud and threatening. Bello had warned his former colleagues when he was forced out in 2015 that he would return some day to kill them.
“All the time he was a problem,” said Dr. David Lazala, who trained Bello. When Bello was forced out in 2015, he sent Lazala an email blaming him for the dismissal.
Of the six who were injured, one remained in critical condition Saturday and the rest were stable, hospital officials said Saturday.
Detectives searched the Bronx home where Bello was most recently living and found the box where the gun came from. Investigators were checking serial numbers to determine where it was purchased.
With files from The Associated Press and The Canadian Press
With files from The Associated Press and The Canadian Press
Not long after Megan Johnson gave birth, her husband posted a picture on social media, welcoming their daughter into the world.
Years earlier, Johnson had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure and given a new heart and another chance to live. Her husband, Nathan, announced early Tuesday on Instagram that “her heart worked perfectly” during the delivery, and their daughter, Eilee Kate, “introduced herself quickly and smooth. I am a rich man!!!”
For the next six hours, the Johnsons loved their newborn.
“They were so excited, they couldn’t sleep so they spent time with the baby and talked all morning,” Josh Wilson, a friend of Nathan Johnson, said recently.
Johnson gave birth about 2:40 a.m. Tuesday and, for the next several hours, “held, fed, and burped little Eilee,” Wilson, Nathan Johnson’s bandmate, wrote on the GoFundMe crowdfunding page.
Then Megan Johnson started experiencing complications and, by late morning, she had died, Wilson later wrote.
“Needless to say, Nathan is devastated,” Wilson wrote. “There are no words for this, so I won’t really say much more. Here is what I know. Nathan is a wonderful man and an amazing father. He loves his daughter dearly.”
Wilson said Johnson took his daughter home Wednesday and has been “up and down” but surrounded by family members and close friends.
Wilson said he started the GoFundMe page, which had raised more than $345,000 by Friday afternoon, to get Johnson, a Christian music artist, “off the road. To buy him some time.”
It’s not yet clear what led to Megan Johnson’s death. The American Heart Association warns that women who have had heart transplants could develop complications during pregnancy; for example, immunosuppressive medications could pose a risk to an unborn child and, after the child is born, there is a greater risk of rejection for the mother. But it is not known what caused Johnson’s complications.
In 2002, Johnson, then 15, was a student and athlete at North County Christian School near her home in Ferguson, Mo., according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She played basketball, volleyball and soccer, until she unexpectedly lost her endurance, according to news reports and a blog post that appeared to be written by her father.
“I’d just finished basketball season and I was starting soccer and I couldn’t walk up the stairs without getting out of breath; I couldn’t run the laps,” she told the Post-Dispatch in 2011.
The diagnosis was myocarditis, an inflammation caused by a virus that can lead to heart failure. Johnson was given medications and strict orders to give up sports, she said, but she survived.
But more than seven years later, Johnson’s symptoms returned, and she was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, according to the blog post.
In 2010, the then-23-year-old underwent a heart transplant at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, the newspaper reported.
“I am extremely grateful for her gift. However, I am so saddened for the family that lost their dear loved one. I ache knowing that I am here and she is not,” she later wrote on a blog, chronically her journey.
“I have a part of that person in me,” she added. “I can feel her heart beat in my chest. It is a remarkable, yet difficult feeling knowing I am here because of someone else’s life. I ache for her. My heart is sad for her and her family. I truly hope one day her family will know how much I appreciate her/their special gift. I can never repay. I am forever grateful. Thank you.”
The year after her transplant, she married Nathan Johnson and moved to Nashville, she wrote online.
Over the years, Johnson has spoken passionately and publicly — both on her blog and to local news media — about organ donation, telling the Post-Dispatch a year after her transplant, “I never thought about being an organ donor until I needed one. My family didn’t think about it until they had a daughter who needed it.”
“That’s a huge thing in my life,” she added at the time. “It can save lives. It saved mine. It’s the gift of life.”
Wilson, the family friend, said Johnson’s organs are going to more than 50 recipients.
BRIDGEWATER, N.J.—U.S. President Donald Trump offered to help to a terminally ill British baby on Monday, saying on Twitter that “if we can help little #CharlieGard, as per our friends in the U.K. and the Pope, we would be delighted to do so.”
The White House did not immediately answer questions about what Trump meant by help.
Charlie Gard suffers from a rare genetic condition and is unable to breathe unaided. Last week, his parents lost a legal battle to take him to the U.S. for trial therapy. His parents and a London children’s hospital said Friday that the 10-month-old boy will be given “more time” before life support is withdrawn.
There is little Trump can do to help, because U.K. and European courts have deferred to the hospital’s decision not to allow Charlie to be sent to the U.S. for trial therapy.
Pope Francis on Sunday called for Gard’s parents to be allowed to do everything possible to treat their child.
In a statement, the Vatican press office said Francis “is following with affection and sadness the case of little Charlie Gard and expresses his closeness to his parents. For this he prays that their wish to accompany and treat their child until the end is not neglected.”
On Tuesday, the parents lost a bid to take Charlie to the U.S. for trial therapy when the European Court of Human Rights sided with earlier rulings that continued treatment would cause “significant harm” and that life support should end. Specialists have said the proposed therapy wouldn’t help Charlie.
Born in India to Tibetan parents in exile, Tsesang Wangmo never went to school until she was sponsored to Canada in late 2013 by her husband, who arrived in Toronto earlier under Ottawa’s refugee sponsorship program.
The 39-year-old woman immediately enrolled herself in English classes, began working as a cleaner at a downtown office building by night, and took a second cleaning job on the weekend to support her family — her husband is also a labourer.
Although Wangmo has been taking English classes five days a week for more than three years, her progress has been slow — she is still at level two or three out of seven, according to the government assessment system — because of the demands of her work and lack of previous education.
Even though she has already met the residency requirement to apply for citizenship — 1,095 days under a new legislation passed by Ottawa — Wangmo doesn’t have the minimum level four in her English proficiency to qualify or the time to attend community citizenship coaching programs that are only offered on the weekend.
“It’s my first time going to school. It is hard. If I don’t work, we have no money to pay rent and food,” Wangmo said through an interpreter. “You can’t play flute and eat tsampa (traditional Tibetan roasted barley) at the same time.”
Wangmo is not alone.
According to data obtained under a freedom of information request, far more women than men have their citizenship applications rejected because they are unable to meet the knowledge or language requirements.
Although the Liberal government passed a bill this month to relax some of the more stringent citizenship requirements imposed by its Conservative predecessor, critics say the changes fail to address the barriers faced by immigrant women hoping to acquire Canadian citizenship.
Between 2007 and March 2017, more than 56,000 people had their citizenship applications refused, the majority of them for failing the language and knowledge requirements, said Jennifer Stone of the Neighbourhood Legal Services, who requested the data after spotting a rising number of women coming to her office for help with their applications.
“Women and refugees are disproportionately affected by the language and knowledge requirements. Now we have data that could bear that out,” Stone said. “For them, it’s not a matter of won’t. It’s a matter of can’t.”
Stone said that in recent years the number citizenship cases received by her clinic has skyrocketed and the majority of clients having difficulty obtaining citizenship are refugee women or sponsored spouses.
A gender breakdown of the refusals showed that 24,286 or 60 per cent of the 41,071 who failed the citizenship knowledge test were women. Of the 14,779 who failed the language requirement, 66 per cent or 9,754 of them were female, according to the data.
Refugees appear to be disproportionally affected by the tightened citizenship requirements introduced by the former Conservative government: raising the passing mark for the citizenship exam, demanding proof of language proficiency and drastically increasing the non-refundable citizenship application fee to $530 from $100.
The number refugees who obtained their citizenship dropped by 25 per cent to 20,059 between 2010 and 2015 from 26,725 between 2005 and 2009.
By comparison, the citizenship conversion rate for those who came under family reunification declined by 19.6 per cent while the number of new citizens who immigrated under the economic class went up by 0.9 per cent.
Tenzin Tekan, a community legal worker with Parkdale legal clinic, said she was not surprised by the statistics.
“For someone with no formal education, it’s hard,” Tekan said. “We welcome the news about the changes (by the Liberals), but it’s not going to help everyone.”
Although there is a provision in the Citizenship Act that waives the knowledge requirement based on medical opinions that applicants will “never” pass the exam, it’s a long, tedious process.
Deli Hussan, a single mother of three children, twice had her citizenship application rejected. She attempted the knowledge exam six times, but the best she ever scored was 60 per cent, missing the 75-per-cent mark.
A dropout at Grade 5, the 33-year-old Iraqi woman was diagnosed with adjustment disorder, with anxiety and a depressed mood — partially a result of past domestic abuse.
“I studied very hard, but I was sweating and shaking at the exam. I felt like I was going to die. I got more nervous every time because I was afraid I would fail again. It was crazy,” said Hussan, who was resettled to Canada in 2008 under Ottawa’s government refugee sponsorship program and applied for citizenship in 2011.
“I don’t feel safe to go anywhere without the citizenship. As a permanent resident, I am not protected. I would like to be able to vote in elections.”
Despite medical evidence from several psychiatrists, immigration officials refused to grant Hussan the waiver. She appealed to the Federal Court and the Immigration Department agreed to reconsider the decision. Hussan finally received her citizenship in late 2016.
Since taking power in late 2015, the Liberal government has granted more knowledge and language waivers than the previous government, but Stone said it is not enough and the process is open to applicants only after at least three failed attempts to pass the citizenship test.
Under the Conservative government, between 200 and 400 waivers were granted yearly. In 2016, the Liberal government issued 2,378 waivers.
Take it from someone with the sore feet of experience: If you walk far enough in this country, you’re going to pass through more than a single Canada.
This gigantic land of primordial remoteness and sky-scraping mountains, snow that never melts and prairies vast as oceans — I saw none of that on my journey.
The Canada I walked through on a recent monster hike was one of rural roads and motel rooms, paved-over rail lines and asphalt parkways. Suburban homes and barn-strewn pastures covered most of my vistas, and the people I met were so generous that one man offered to (ahem) help me unwind.
That’s the beauty of the Trans Canada Trail. It has everything from Group of Seven splendour to roadside propositioning.
Timed for completion in this 150th year of Confederation, with a fresh infusion of money from the feds to boot, the trail is a long sequence of regional pathways connected under one banner, offering travellers an ostensible route by foot to all three coasts and across the whole of Canada. The project has some satisfying historical echoes of the great continental railway of the 19th century and the cross-country highway that runs from Victoria to the tip of Newfoundland.
And like those celebrated precursors, the trail can be seen as a thread across the breadth of the land, something tangible to point to and bring us together in all our geographic and cultural differences.
To mark the occasion of this country’s birthday, and to ruminate for long, lonely hours about what it means to be Canadian, I walked a 260-kilometre stretch of the trail, from Queenston Heights in Niagara-on-the-Lake to downtown Toronto. It was a relatively tiny jaunt on the trail that snakes through Canada for 22,000 kilometres but it took me a whole week, while my FitBit clocked my exhaustion at about 50,000 steps per day.
Being from B.C., I thought of it as a chance to slog through a stretch of this country that I don’t know much about.
Many of us don’t get to do that, and spend most of our lives in our own corners of Canada. But the trail is an invitation, a new conduit to connect with each other. So I took a walk.
The first dawn broke moments before I emerged from the woods onto the dew-slick grass at the top of the bluffs in Queenston Heights.
Sunlight touched the statue of Isaac Brock, who stood on his towering spire 56 metres above. I watched the light expand through the foliage of the maple, elm and other deciduous trees and soon illuminate the whole park where one of Canada’s first nationalistic myths was born.
It was an October morning in 1812. American soldiers had crossed into British territory to occupy these forested heights at the south end of what is now Niagara-on-the-Lake.
The story goes that Brock jumped on his faithful steed, whose name was Alfred, and galloped south from Fort George to lead a charge against the invaders from the foot of the heights. He hopped off Alfred and tore into the bullet-buzzing melee, where he was promptly shot in the chest and died.
Thus began his journey to posterity, for Brock’s troops — a band of British soldiers and volunteers joined by Haudenosaunee and other Indigenous fighters — took the hill back from the Americans, who scuttled across the nearby Niagara River whence they came. And though many others died that day, including Alfred the horse, it was Brock who was lionized as the “Hero of Upper Canada” and awarded a prime spot in the firmament of Canadian legend.
It’s a good story with which to begin my journey, because it highlights two things. The first is that our sense of nationalism has always been opaque. Is Brock’s story a tale of British pride at having preserved the colonies from American takeover? Was there even a sense of “being Canadian” at that time, and if so, how did the French and Indigenous peoples fit into that?
How do we all fit into that now?
The second thing the story shows is that, even before this country existed as “Canada” — a distinction we got in 1867 — our existence as a physical entity, and more recently as a cultural one, has been threatened by the United States.
I walked the paved path through Queenston Heights along the edge of the gorge that drops to the frothing Niagara River. On this side was the Canada that Brock and his troops helped preserve; on the other was our leviathan neighbour.
Canada has long been a precarious enterprise. With the threat of Quebec separatism roiling through the last half of the 20th century, and still burbling at a lower temperature today, the shadow of American influence has always prompted questions about what it means to be Canadian.
It’s been more than 50 years, after all, since George Grant famously eulogized Canada in his seminal book, Lament for a Nation.
He argued that not only our sovereignty, but our distinctive British Tory ideology of “peace, order and good government,” was eroding in the face of economic and cultural integration with our American neighbour and its attendant tide of modern individualism.
We were destined, in his view, to become little more than a “branch-plant” society, a provincial outpost of the U.S. global empire.
Our answer to this has often been that we’re the “mosaic,” the collection of peoples and nations with various histories that are assembled in the shape of a country. None other than Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said there is no “core identity” here, and most of the people I met on the trail agreed that one of the key markers of Canada is its ethnic and linguistic diversity.
I walked past the mind-blowing spectacle of Niagara Falls and carried on south toward Fort Erie. I found Dave and Wendy Wyatt, a retired couple, smoking cigars in camping chairs by the river, enjoying the shade and staring across at the U.S. side.
I sat on the grass between them and asked how we’re different from the people over there. Wendy quipped that she’s not visiting while Donald Trump is president. She said Canadians are different because we’re more accepting and open. I thought of Trudeau, photo opportunity or not, hugging Syrian refugees at Pearson airport.
Dave added that we’re different from Americans because of the way people act abroad when you tell them you’re Canadian. Plus, he said, there’s our health care system.
“You feel that you’ve helped people, right? You’ve been in a country that’s thought of other people.”
Our communitarian spirit versus their cowboy individualism — that might be the biggest difference. Who’s to say? We’re speaking in generalities here.
I trundled down the road for several hours. My bag was swollen with 30 pounds of camping gear, clothes and dried food, and it was starting to feel heavy.
I must have been a pitiable sight, because near the end of the day, as I passed a row of homes outside Fort Erie, a voice called down from the balcony of a home beside the pathway. It was Anne Yurkiw, who sat on a swinging love seat with her husband, Larry.
She said she’s a registered nurse, and insisted that I stop right there and come in for some ice water. It was some good, old-fashioned Canadian communitarianism.
The next day I walked in the beating sun along an old rail line west of Fort Erie. A cluster of cyclists approached. One of them was a man in spandex with a bushy moustache. He called out: “How far ya walkin’?!”
“Toronto!” I said.
“GOOD for you!” responded a woman who was biking in the group. She said it in the way you’d congratulate a teacher’s pet for acing a test that doesn’t matter.
I watched the cyclists get smaller on the path ahead, which was flat and dead straight, until they disappeared into the blurred-out horizon.
The immensity of Canada is one of its undeniable characteristics. Northrop Frye, the famed thinker from the last century at the University of Toronto, called it “our huge, unthinking, menacing and formidable physical setting.” The wild that surrounds us provokes a sense of “deep terror,” he argued.
Those of us who’ve walked alone in the woods at night or been lost in the backcountry, far away when it’s cold, will know what he’s talking about.
Frye thought the terror of our natural setting actually gave us the distinct Canadian quality of looking out for each other. The land itself, in other words, accounts for the communitarian quality that Dave and Wendy told me makes us different from Americans. Frye called it our “garrison mentality.” This country is scary and inhospitable, so we need to stick together to get by.
Bud Heussler was resting on a bench beside the trail just east of the town of Ridgeway. At 84, he had a gentlemanly air in his blue shirt and beige pants. He told me that after he retired more than 20 years ago, he started walking the trail to pick up the trash that people left behind. He’d do 150 bags a summer, he said.
He only stopped a few years ago when he got mononucleosis and suspected it came from the garbage.
I walked for a while with Bud as he finished the stroll he does every second day to loosen up his back after surgery a few months ago. He waved and said hello to everyone we saw.
“Whether it’s Canada or anywhere else,” he said, “I think people enjoy being out in the woods.”
It certainly wasn’t terror of the land. Like a vacuum, maybe the wild space of this country has a way of drawing us in.
I hobbled through the centre of Port Colborne on the third morning. The town sits on Lake Erie at the south end of the Welland Canal, that 19th-century engineering marvel. Hulking freight ships floated offshore as they waited to take the series of locks north to Lake Ontario.
Jo-Ann Karn waved me over to where she sat smoking cigarettes with her friend Nancy Green outside the local taxi garage. They were cleaning and had taken a smoke break.
When you’ve been walking in the sun for days, and you’re sunburned and your backpack has too much stuff in it, friendly little conversations can seem like monumental gestures of humanity.
And so it was with Jo-Ann and Nancy.
Jo-Ann, who is 56, spoke with a rasp in her voice that made me think of my grandma. She had the same warmth, too. We spoke about Canada and the cost of beer and how Jo-Ann loved the prime minister’s father. Nancy joked about how drunk people get in town during the summer festivals, and told me she’d been to Ottawa once on a school trip in Grade 8.
When I left, I was hit with a self-conscious feeling. Jo-Ann had said she dreamed of moving back to Toronto, but that rents are too high. “I can’t afford it,” she’d said.
I walked along the lakefront neighbourhood of the town and on to the forested outskirts, and started wondering how they saw me, the reporter expensing meals and motel rooms to a media corporation, wandering a long road just for kicks and a whimsical story. Was there a gap between us, and if so, was there a way to bridge it?
Nancy had mumbled something before I walked off about coming back for the Canal Days festival this summer, and then scrawled out a note for me. At the edge of town I pulled it out. She had written, “Come spend time with us.”
The trail veered back onto an old rail line. The path was bounded by leafy trees and clumps of fragrant lavender and daisies. Birds tweeted in the branches and bushes, sometimes flitting across the track before me and jumping from tree to tree as I walked.
That afternoon the trail merged onto a series of country roads, where signs at the end of long driveways advertised free scrap metal, firewood for sale, and opposition to the wind turbines that dot the area and sound sort of like landing planes.
There was a lot of roadkill. Festering raccoons were the most common. Frog corpses, too, smushed thin as cardboard and baked into the asphalt by the heat of the sun. Birds with necks twisted at disgusting angles popped up occasionally on the road’s shoulder, sometimes with wings flayed across the gravel where they had died.
The most interesting specimen was a turtle about the size of a rugby ball. Its shell was cracked open, presumably from the impact of a car, and flies buzzed around its face.
The scene was a fitting companion to my gathering dread at having taken this walk. I wasn’t even half done yet and my feet were swollen and blistered. Pain rang with each step, up the Achilles tendon of my left foot and through the out-facing ligaments of my right.
I somehow got to Dunnville without trying to hitchhike, and checked into the Riverview Motel. It was the 45th birthday of the proprietor, Chirag Kumar Patel, who moved there from India last year to buy the business and live with his mother, wife and two children. He told me with a glint of mischief in his eye that walking between towns is much more common in India.
I grunted, said thanks for the room and hauled my body to bed, where I slept like road kill until morning.
If you ever find yourself wandering for hours in the gravel on the side of a rural highway in southern Ontario, and you’re beaten and bedraggled and barely keeping it together, I implore you to stop in on the good people of Cayuga. They’ll get you sorted out.
In my case it was the lady at the local pharmacy, who only needed a second to look at me before I was shown the extra strength Advil and had a set of soft boot insoles pressed into my hands. Also the women working the post office: They helped me mail back the mound of stuff I’d overpacked — two-man tent; camping stove; sleeping bag; propane canisters; bags of dried food; steel pot — and gave me a couple of cold bottles of water.
It may have been the exhaustion, but these people inflated my spirits like a Wacky Waving Inflatable Tube Man.
I floated on that high into the Back 40 Tap & Grill, where I slugged back a can of pop and devoured a chicken burger. Five men in their 70s and 80s sat around a wooden table drinking tea and coffee. Having inhaled my meal, I walked over and asked to join them.
Lloyd Kindree, a 74-year-old farmer in shorts and a T-shirt, told me that since they all retired they’ve come here five days a week to “shoot the breeze” and share a warm drink. His friend, a man named Bruce Miller who drove a truck he calls the “Kerosene Cadillac,” interjected about their retirements: “Put it this way, nobody’ll hire us!”
The men explained how they’d worked the land around here as farmers for decades. “Fella used to make a living off 50 acres,” said 80-year-old Sam Rounce, bemoaning the rise of industrial farming that has squeezed out smaller businesses.
Miller riffed on the sentiment. “To me, computers belong in spaceships. Maybe hospitals.”
I left town not long after that, still feeling the buzz from my lighter backpack, the Advil, and the kind people of Cayuga. The trail continued for a while on the side of a country road, which snaked north up the west side of the Grand River, through a rolling landscape peppered with barns and crops, grazing cattle and bales of hay. The sky above was smothered with billowing grey clouds, which let through shafts of light that cut across the surrounding hills.
The men in Back 40 clearly felt a kinship with this land. It was the centre of their lives, and they’d earned the right to grouse about how it has changed.
But like every millimetre of Canada, this land has a deeper story.
Since at least the Beaver Wars of the 17th century, the entire area was the territory of the Haudenosaunee, or Six Nations, at least until it was gradually occupied by people from other places. Colonizers, you’d have to say.
The Haudenosaunee were a confederation before Confederation. The union of five, and later six, Indigenous nations occurred centuries ago — researchers have pinned their government’s creation to the year 1142 — and the group is believed to have been sovereign at one time over the land from what is now St. Louis to the Toronto area.
The nation also joined the British in the War of 1812, with a prominent leader named John Brant fighting with Brock at Queenston Heights. They were later promised tracts of land on both banks of the entire Grand River, from its mouth at Lake Erie to as far north as Orangeville.
And yet today, the region’s Haudenosaunee territory is officially confined to a much smaller reserve west of Caledonia. I had hoped to hike the area with one of the nation’s clan mothers, who are respected leaders in the community, and had tried to interview people who live there, but arrangements fell through in the end.
I figured, as I passed along a wooded path by the river, where a boy fly fished and a heron took off in the orange light of dusk, that it’s not like anyone would need to explain their connection to this land to me.
But does this diminish the Back 40 guys’ bond with this place? I don’t think so. It just makes things complicated.
Let’s not forget that, while Canada’s 150th is an innocent birthday bash to many, to others it’s a celebration of colonialism and decades of forced assimilation, the anniversary of the political system that created residential schools and generations of trauma.
There’s a relevant and evocative phrase written by the Coast Salish poet, Lee Maracle: “Where do you begin telling someone their world is not the only one?”
We have different worlds in this country.
I plodded along the leafy escarpment that bisects Hamilton on the following afternoon. Two men approached walking their bikes. I saw that they wore matching hats with Scottish flags on them, as well as blue shirts that said: “Keep Calm and Eat Haggis.”
John “Foxy” Fox and Dave Muir grew up in Glasgow on opposite sides of the River Clyde, but didn’t meet until after they both moved to Hamilton in 1974, Foxy to work 33 years in the Stelco plant and Muir to ply his trade in electrical motor manufacturing. Their daughters were in the same class at school, and they’ve been friends ever since.
“It’s the best country in the world right now,” said Foxy.
“I wouldn’t be anywhere else,” Muir added. “This is where I chose to live the rest of my life, and this is where I’m going to be. I just love it. My kids have excelled here, done great. Yep.”
And while Foxy conceded that there’s no “black pudding or haggis or Glenfiddich” to serve as cultural touchstones here — that’s debatable, by the way: poutine, bacon and beer, anyone? — he thinks it’s great that you can feel at home in Canada no matter where you’re from.
Below the escarpment where Cannon St. runs through downtown Hamilton, Alex Gibaldo and Peter Hanson sat outside a café drinking coffee.
“We’re a cultural mosaic, right? That’s what they call it,” said Gibaldo, a 26-year-old who has lived in Hamilton most of her life.
“I don’t think there’s an overarching identity for Canada. Everyone associates with it a little differently.”
I asked them what they think holds us together, and Hanson told the story of when he moved to Hamilton from Nova Scotia when he was a teenager. It was the mid-’90s, and he took up with a group of skateboarders in town, who welcomed him and became a supportive group in his adopted city. They even gave him a nickname, “Popeye,” because of his sizeable biceps and origins in the Maritimes, where sailors live.
In other words, they were nice, he said. Most of us are.
“I think that’s one thing that does hold us together,” he said.
A storm broke that evening as I crossed the bridge into Burlington. Buffeted by wind and rain, a man who appeared unassuming and ordinary emerged from a park and offered an intimate encounter. Apparently, or so he told me after I had politely declined, the area is known for that sort of thing.
After wading through shin-deep puddles near the lakeshore, I found my motel. Once inside, I discovered a couple of deer ticks gulping blood from my lower limbs. Then I noticed my jacket pocket had filled with rainwater and short-circuited my iPhone. My recorder was soaked, too, but somehow survived the trauma.
On the last day, a thin mist pervaded the air and smudged out the line between the sky and Lake Ontario. The trail wound through Oakville and Mississauga and into Toronto, where I saw the CN Tower poking through the cloud-enshrouded cityscape of my destination.
I had asked maybe three dozen people what it means to be Canadian. Brittany Hall, who was eating a shawarma in a park in Burlington one day earlier, told me she thinks it’s how our plethora of cultures and traditions allows each of us to cherrypick elements of how we live — from the cuisine we enjoy to the god(s) we worship.
Jessica Pan, who moved here from China, said it means a better life and education for her daughter.
And Giovanni Ling, a 24-year-old who’s saving up to open a hostel in South America, told me that being Canadian is to be open-minded and polite, and to enjoy the opportunities we share.
I felt they were onto something, but figured Canada and what it means to be Canadian are elusive and multifarious concepts. The land, the people and our varied pasts mingle in some unknowable way to make us Canadian.
The trail, then, is a symbol not so much of how we are connected as one people, but of how we have the potential to learn about each other if we want to.
I met a lot of people on the trail, and though they were all friendly, I barely scratched the surface of who they are and what it’s like to live in their skin. It was the same with the path itself. The stretch I had travelled was but a sliver of the entire thing.
The rest of it is out there waiting to be walked and discovered — like an invitation.