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- 07/03/17--14:09: _Police release vide...
- 07/03/17--18:35: _Toronto police say ...
- 07/03/17--12:58: _Small airplane dest...
- 07/03/17--05:06: _Police identify vic...
- 07/03/17--13:25: _From Kit Kats to be...
- 07/03/17--14:59: _OMA vote breakdown ...
- 07/03/17--16:47: _Students of Canadia...
- 07/03/17--11:30: _Toronto turns out f...
- 07/03/17--15:00: _Stouffville residen...
- 07/03/17--19:12: _Trump to make secon...
- 07/03/17--20:07: _Khadr to get apolog...
- 07/04/17--03:00: _It’s a whopper! Tor...
- 07/04/17--04:20: _Pregnant woman, wan...
- 07/04/17--11:25: _Kim Jong Un will so...
- 07/04/17--03:00: _What happened to To...
- 07/04/17--07:32: _New Jersey Gov. Chr...
- 07/04/17--12:19: _Rona Ambrose offici...
- 07/04/17--09:30: _Toronto officer cha...
- 07/04/17--12:44: _Giant duck gives To...
- 07/04/17--11:20: _Death of Canadian t...
- 07/03/17--18:35: Toronto police say disappearance of Andrew Kinsman is suspicious
- 07/03/17--05:06: Police identify victim in deadly Regent Park shooting
- The economic situation in Ontario.
- The achievement of a high quality, patient-centred sustainable publicly funded health care system.
- 07/03/17--11:30: Toronto turns out for a last look at the duck
- 07/03/17--15:00: Stouffville residents raise alarm over ‘CSI-style’ wall
- 07/03/17--19:12: Trump to make second impression in Europe, first meeting with Putin
- 07/03/17--20:07: Khadr to get apology, compensation over $10M as lawsuit settled
- 07/04/17--03:00: It’s a whopper! Toronto council kicks off huge meeting
- Putting Tenants First: A plan to remake Toronto Community Housing is taking shape slowly at city hall. An updated implementation plan recommends hiving off seniors buildings and making them the responsibility of a new city agency. How that will impact the corporation and city’s finances or benefit tenants has yet to be detailed. Importantly, the plan identifies that TCH needs hundreds of millions of dollars in the next two years to prevent the closure of units and keep track with new development projects.
- Life support: Council will consider what’s been called an ambitious climate change action plan called TransformTO, which advocates have lauded for attempting to achieve an 80 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. It’s estimated to cost $6.7 million next year, which has Mayor John Tory talking about the need to prioritize. That has some backers of the plan worried it will be pulled apart.
- Streetcars are King: Council will vote on a King St. pilot that will give priority to streetcar routes— the busiest in the city. That has suburban councillors anxious over traffic congestion, but has received the backing of the mayor. His executive agreed to ask staff for additional information about giving taxis exemptions from driving rules during the pilot, which could flare up at council.
- War on streetcars: At the urging of Councillor Michael Ford, he and his colleagues will now debate the merits of extending bus service instead of streetcars on Queen St., which the TTC and experts have already outlined is a terrible idea.
- Towering concerns: The staff approval of a 24-storey condo at 90 Eglinton Ave. has not only local residents concerned about their quickly-changing Yonge-Eglinton neighbourhood, but has the potential to undermine several of the city’s key plans for midrise development along Eglinton Ave. Local councillors plan to ask council to refuse the application, against staff advice.
- Pill problems: The city employees being overprescribed deadly opioids and Viagra as part of an updated report on her investigation of drug claims. Council will consider recommendations, including possibly reporting to the regulatory body those doctors that appear to have overprescribed the deadly fentanyl.
- Let the kids play: The ombudsman has found city staff need to work on handling complaints about park permits after it was reported a toddlers summer program was booted from a Beach parkette last year.
- Flood damage: The city is already estimated to lose $5 million in revenues related to recent flooding, not including necessary repairs that will be required when the waters recede. Staff are asking permission to possibly forgive rent and fees for some island tenants.
- Noxious no more?: Staff and the local councillor are trying to move a controversial concrete batching facility from Mimico to the Port Lands. This is the location that has sparked concerns after council approved townhome development near the facility and an active railyard. Staff are recommending negotiations with the company continue to make the move happen.
- Anybody home? The city is considering a tax on vacant homes, but it isn’t at the approval stage yet. Council is being asked to give staff permission to study different options and report back to executive committee in September.
- A wider circle: Council is being asked to consider creating a new Aboriginal Office as other initiatives at city hall, including an internship program, aim to be more inclusive of Indigenous people and their knowledge
- A new face: This will be the first meeting for newly-appointed Ward 44 (Scarborough East) Councillor Jim Hart, who was picked for the seat last week by his fellow council members with 67 per cent of the vote. He replaces former councillor Ron Moeser, who died in April.
- Police presence: Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti has what appears to be a trap of a motion requesting council state their “full support” for the police in the ongoing discussion about Pride, police participation and concerns raised by Black Lives Matter.
- Fighting marginalization: Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam is looking to reinstate the city's LGBTQ2S+ community advisory committee that was disassembled in 2006, a way to deal with policy such as youth homelessness and other key issues affecting those communities.
- 07/04/17--04:20: Pregnant woman, wanted man shot in Kipling Ave. apartment
- 07/04/17--03:00: What happened to Toronto’s ‘Eight-day bride’?
- 07/04/17--09:30: Toronto officer charged after cyclist hit
- 07/04/17--12:44: Giant duck gives Toronto’s waterfront a boost
Toronto police are asking for assistance with identifying a man and a woman that are shown in a surveillance video after a dog named Princess was stolen early Sunday.
In the video, a man and a woman are standing in the area of Bloor St. W. and Ossington Ave. just before 2 a.m. on Sunday at the time the 6-year-old teacup Chihuahua was stolen from a nearby McDonald’s, where its owner had it tied up outside.
The two people are seen having a discussion and they are both holding bicycles. It is unclear if the video is from before or after the dog was taken.
Police in 14 Division received a tip of the dog’s whereabouts on Sunday night 20 hours after she was taken, and she was soon recovered in the King St. W. and Strachan Ave. area.
Princess was later reunited with her owner Ashley-Victoria Martineau, 28. The dog was shivering but seemed fine. Martineau said she left Princess outside the McDonald’s only because she would be in and out quickly, and that she’s had trouble bringing her dog into restaurants in the past.
Martineau, who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder and depression, considers Princess a service dog, but Toronto police noted they are no longer referring to the dog as one.
Martineau said she adopted Princess five years ago when she found it on the street in the city’s east end.
Police are asking anyone with information to contact them or Crime Stoppers.
Toronto police are now considering the disappearance of a 49-year-old man suspicious and say they are concerned for his safety.
Cabbagetown resident Andrew Kinsman has been missing for almost a week after he was last seen near Parliament and Winchester Sts. on June 26.
Police say the missing person report is being treated as suspicious because people who know Kinsman describe his disappearance as “completely out of character.”
Kinsman is the superintendant of his building in Cabbagetown. He was reported missing after a neighbour checked in on his apartment and found his cat unfed, and the building’s garbage had not been taken out.
The Toronto People with AIDS Foundation, where Kinsman works as a volunteer, has made regular posts on their Facebook page pleading for help to find him.
Kinsman is described as about 6’2”, medium-to-stocky build, with a buzz-cut, beard, and glasses. He often wears cargo shorts and brown leather Birkenstock sandals. He has a vertical scar on each of his knees from past surgeries.
He also has having two tattoos: an armband-type tattoo with wording on his right bicep and an armband with an expletive word tattooed on the left side of his chest.
Police are asking anyone with information to contact them or Crime Stoppers.
PHILLIPS, WIS.—A small airplane that went down in northern Wisconsin fell apart in the air, killing the six people on board, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board said Monday.
The Cessna 421 that crashed at 3:21 a.m. Saturday left from Waukegan, Illinois, and was flying to Winnipeg in the Canadian province of Manitoba, NTSB spokesman Eric Weiss said.
“The debris field suggested an in-flight break up,” Weiss said.
Lt. Gabe Lind at the Price County Sheriff’s Office said the debris field from the crash stretched about a quarter mile from a heavily wooded area onto a state highway.
The six people killed were identified Monday as 70-year-old Kevin James King, 56-year-old Thomas DeMauro, 21-year-old Kyle DeMauro, 63-year-old James Francis, 69-year-old Charles Tomlitz, and 45-year-old George Tomlitz. The sheriff’s office has said they were headed to Canada for a fishing trip.
The DeMauros and King are from Bensenville, Illinois. Francis is from Norco, California. Charles Tomlitz is from Addison, Illinois, and George Tomlitz is from Brookfield, Illinois. Authorities did not say how they knew each other or the DeMauros relation to each other.
NTSB investigators say there was a discussion between the pilot of the plane and air traffic controllers about “local weather phenomenon” in Catawba, Wisconsin, which is near the crash site just southwest of the city of Phillips. Soon after, the aircraft dropped off radar.
Weiss said investigators are still trying to determine what type of weather the plane encountered and whether it caused the crash.
Thomas DeMauro was a physical education teacher at Tioga Elementary School in Bensenville, Illinois, and Charles Tomlitz was a maintenance director for the district, according to a Facebook post from the school.
“Mr. DeMauro and Mr. Tomlitz will be missed by all the Tioga Community,” the school’s co-principals wrote in the post on the Tioga Elementary School Facebook page.
In a statement to WSAW-TV, the DeMauro family expressed gratitude for the outpouring of support.
“We would also like to express our heartfelt condolences to the other families affected by this tragedy. Tom was our beloved son, husband, father, brother, uncle, friend, teacher and coach,” the statement said. “Kyle was our dear son, brother, grandson, nephew and friend; a compassionate young man who had a promising future.”
Toronto police have identified a man who was fatally shot in Regent Park on Sunday evening.
Lemard Champagnie, 30, of Toronto, was found with multiple gunshot wounds when police were called to the area of Regent and Cole Sts. around 9:10 p.m.
Champagnie was rushed to a local trauma centre, where he was pronounced dead.
Speaking at the scene Monday, Det. Andy Singh said investigators believe Champagnie was deliberately targeted.
Singh said Champagnie was walking along Regent St., approaching Cole St. when a black SUV pulled up and at least two people opened fire.
On Monday, a faint bloodstain marked the spot on the sidewalk outside of a Cole St. building in the densely populated residential neighbourhood.
Angeline Arevalo and Pablo Jaramillo, who live on the 11th floor of the building with their young son, were cleaning dishes when they heard two shots, followed by a number more.
They weren’t sure whether the sounds were gunshots or fireworks at first. Then they saw fire trucks, paramedics, and police vehicles arrive.
“He loves fire trucks so he was trying to see what was going on,” said Jaramillo, referring to his son. “That’s when we realized, obviously this was not fireworks.”
Arevalo said they saw paramedics performing CPR for “a long time.”
“We thought, that doesn’t look good,” said Jaramillo.
A second person was also fired upon but was not injured. Singh said it is not clear whether there was any connection between Champagnie and the other person.
“He is co-operating but unfortunately there is not enough clarity where we can say if they were together prior to this,” said Singh.
Investigators believe separate shooters may have focused on each of the targets.
The second person ran for shelter into a Regent St. house, which was not his residence, through an unlocked door. At least three bullets hit the house, but nobody inside was injured.
Bullet holes could also be seen in at least two residential buildings nearby.
Police are continuing to talk to witnesses and review surveillance footage.
Inside the walls of Nestle’s Toronto factory, the smell of chocolate is inescapably thick.
Its six floors and four buildings produce more than 3.5 billion Smarties, as many as 500 million Kit Kat fingers and 23 million Coffee Crisp bars a year.
In all, 18,000 tonnes of confectionary are made here every year, around the clock, 364 days a year — closing only for Christmas.
The plant, located at 72 Sterling Rd., stands as a symbol that Toronto is still a place that not only makes and manufactures things, but does it proudly.
Massive long sinks and lint rollers line the hallways that feed into each chocolate bar’s floor. Hair nets, plastic glasses, slip-on shoes, hard hats and coats further protect from unwanted hair falling into the product. Earrings and wedding bands aren’t welcome, either.
Everything that comes into the factory is swabbed and tested to preserve its peanut-free environment.
The process is complex, overseen from central control rooms that map out floor plans with green and red lights that indicate malfunctions.
“It’s like a nuclear station,” jokes factory director Jamie Geddes.
The chocolate’s liquor (not in the alcoholic sense but rather meaning “liquid” or “fluid”) is imported and then custom-made for Canadians.
Not all Kit Kats, the company’s largest brand, are created equal — recipes vary by country, and Canadians prefer a lighter eat than their neighbours to the south, staff say.
“I’m not a big fan of American chocolate, let’s just leave it at that,” said Geddes.
“Once we get it (the profile) right, which we have, then it rarely changes,” echoed Chandra Kumar, who runs the confectionary side of Nestle’s business in Canada.
As a result, all of the chocolate made at 72 Sterling stays in Canada.
The Smarties undergo a 12-hour process that ends with spraying, coating and glossing in a floor-to-ceiling drum and begins with liquid chocolate pouring into cold, dimpled rollers before being shuffled down a conveyer belt to tumble in rotating buckets that remove rough edges like cement mixers.
The final product’s eight colours are volumetrically weighed and dumped in 45-gram batches into a turnstile of boxes, which machines then fold and seal.
Down a floor, the Kit Kat team prepares for Halloween. Thousands of bite-sized red packages flow off of conveyer belts and into industrial carts. Across the room, massive trolleys are stacked five feet high with fresh, yet-to-be cut wafers.
On the fifth floor, the smell of coffee from Nestle’s uniquely Canadian Coffee Crisp brand intoxicates. Here, a belt slices the wafers and feeds them under dripping warm chocolate and into a cooling tunnel.
Machines take care of a lot of the work, but more than 500 Torontonians work at 72 Sterling, packaging boxes, cleaning and monitoring. They rotate on 30-minute shifts to limit boredom and repetition.
And they are proud.
Lila Naraine and Mark Gouthro speak of “living five minutes away” while they pull defective bars that cooled too quickly or stuck together off the line and into soon-to-be recycled tubs.
Kumar glows speaking of the generations of people who have come and gone on the Nestle manufacturing lines since the early 1900s.
“The line is like your home. This is the place you work — you own the line, you see what’s happening and you try and course correct. It’s your house and you’re taking care of it,” he said.
They’re considering opening an outlet store in the city to give back and provide fresher chocolate to Torontonians than the products that end up on retail shelves.
And Nestle isn’t alone.
French’s has been manufacturing its restaurant ketchup in Toronto for years and began making its retail ketchup in North York this spring.
“It was a commitment to local, to closer to the farm, and to the communities that we work in, said French’s president, Elliott Penner. “It’s this whole sense of community, and Toronto’s got a great community. Our employees, when we talk about it, they lean in.”
And local breweries old and young are thriving, too.
Mandie Murphy lives in the east end of the city and started Left Field Brewery in 2013. Two years later, they moved into an old brick factory at 36 Flagstaff Dr., a couple of blocks from Murphy’s home, to meet demand.
“We’re literally embedded right in a residential neighbourhood. When you look out our front door you see the backyards of homeowners across the street, and that is quite rare,” Murphy said. “I think there’s a big resurgence right now of consumers that are interested in knowing where the things that they consume are made and meeting and knowing the people that make the things that they consume.”
Bellwoods Brewery owner Luke Pestl, who has lived in the Ossington area for 12 years and grew up in North York, now has business ties to both of his “hometowns.” Bellwoods opened on Ossington in 2012 and expanded to an industrial brewery in North York last year.
“Beer blurs the line between a straight commodity. It’s something you’re consuming and in a way it’s a romantic product people want to be tied to,” he said. “It’s not some prepackaged product that’s shipped across the world.”
Great Lakes Brewery’s roots go back much further. They’re celebrating their 30th anniversary, most of them in Etobicoke.
Troy Burke, Great Lakes’ spokesperson, snakes through mazes of beer fermenters wearing a Blue Jays jersey because he’s going to the game later. He jokes about how Great Lakes’ 40-plus employees have fun drinking the Kool-Aid their “fiercely independent brewery” makes just off of the Gardiner Expressway at 30 Queen Elizabeth Blvd.
Thirty years later, they still take pride in a local brewery’s little details; the “packaged on” dates at the bottom of their cans, the cartoon characters a Toronto artist creates for each of their brews, and the malt, hops and yeast they pay more for to get locally.
Great Lakes recently bought seven, 5,000-litre fermenters from a manufacturer four kilometres down the road, rather than cheaper Chinese alternatives.
“It’s one of my proudest things to be able to support another local business by buying these tanks up. It’s amazing that we can be so close,” said owner Peter Bulut.
“It cost more money, but at the end of the day we feel the quality is better and we’re supporting a local company the way we always tell people to support a local brewery,” echoed Burke.
In 2017, they’ve already released 55 one-of-a-kind brews from their three new experimental fermenters, taste-tested before hitting the market by loyal regulars on their new patio.
“If they say, ‘Oh, I think you’re onto something,’ then we’ll ramp it up,” Burke said, smiling.
Inside, they’re constantly expanding while still attempting to hold it together in a 1950s building.
Much of their kegging still isn’t automated, which is now the industry norm, leaving Torontonians to work long night shifts lifting 200-pound kegs for cleaning and tapping. Their “event room” can’t currently welcome guests. It’s overflowing with excess parts and packaging.
“We’re not a spit and polish brewery, we’re a nuts and bolts brewery. We’re a real working brewery and there are some warts to the building,” Burke said.
Like Nestle, none of the things they make are sold outside Canada.
Cheers to that.
The OMA has released a breakdown of how 48 physician specialty groups voted on new rules of engagement for contract negotiations with the province — and to the surprise of no one who follows Ontario medical politics closely, radiologists and cardiologists were among the minority who opposed the deal.
The agreement, which sets out a framework for how the two sides will reach a new fee contract, was endorsed by 65 per cent of the 10,261 physicians, residents, students and retirees who cast ballots in a ratification vote last month. (Only 24 per cent of the almost 43,000 eligible to vote did so.)
The deal includes a provision for binding arbitration, something the government had long resisted because it didn’t want to turn over to a third party control of an $11-billion-plus physician services budget.
But with an election on the horizon, the government capitulated on this point earlier in the year. It did so after Premier Kathleen Wynne personally reached out to the Ontario Medical Association’s leadership, the Star’s Queen’s Park columnist Martin Regg Cohn recently reported.
Of eight specialty groups that rejected the deal, radiologists were the most strongly opposed. A voting breakdown report, released last week by the OMA, shows 84 per cent of diagnostic imaging specialists and 80 per cent of neuroradiologists voted against it.
Next came the cardiologists, 71 per cent of whom were opposed.
More than 50 per cent of physicians in the following specialty groups also gave it the thumbs down: plastic surgeons, geneticists, nuclear medicine specialists, gastroenterologists and chronic pain doctors.
The 41 specialty groups that supported the deal included ophthalmologists, a surprise to many. They voted 63 per cent in favour.
Also endorsing it was the largest specialty group — general and family practice doctors. Of 2,274 who voted, 66 per cent gave it the nod.
Negotiations are expected to start in September. If the two sides fail to make headway on their own — which is highly possible — the dispute would be referred to mediation and arbitration.
“This is something doctors have asked for, for years,” Dr. Shawn Whatley, the OMA’s new president, said of binding arbitration.
In an interview, Whatley said that 65-per-cent voter approval for the framework agreement is strong enough to give the OMA’s negotiating team “clear direction” on how to proceed.
“But we also have to acknowledge that 35 per cent . . . voted against it. So that shows us that we have work to do and we have to engage all of our members to support whatever work happens this fall,” he said.
“We cant be presumptuous here. We have a lot of members who spent many hours informing themselves about this framework and we can’t discount their opinion as we go into negotiations,” he added.
Ontario Health Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins declined to comment for this article.
The ratification of the framework agreement is the latest chapter in the stormy relationship between the province and doctors, and within the medical profession itself.
Doctors have been without a contract for more than three years. During that time, contract negotiations fell apart, the government unilaterally imposed payment cuts on doctors, a tentative contract failed to pass a ratification vote and the OMA board was essentially overthrown in a coup.
The Ontario Association of Radiologists and Ontario Association of Cardiologists both actively campaigned against the framework agreement. Among concerns they and other opponents cited was that it singles out “relativity” as an issue that an arbitrator could have the final say on.
Relativity refers to the large variations in payments to different medical specialties. Radiologists and cardiologists are among the highest paid.
(From their OHIP payments, physicians cover the cost of overhead expenses, for example, staff salaries and rent. Specialists who work outside hospitals and purchase equipment can have particularly high overhead costs.)
Addressing relativity would involve recalibrating the OHIP fee schedule, lowering fees considered overvalued and increasing those considered undervalued.
“Giving prominence to relativity is unfair and will pit groups of doctors against each other,” warns the Ontario Association of Cardiologists on their website.
Dr. James Swan, president of the association and chair of the OMA section on cardiology, said in an interview that his group disagrees with the OMA’s approach to tackling relativity.
Even though cardiologists were disappointed with the outcome of the June vote, they still hope to exert influence by being actively involved in negotiations and in ongoing reforms of the OMA, Swan said.
On a recent blog post, Whatley wrote that “relativity has plagued medicine for a long as doctors have had fees.”
Changing fee codes for work done by different specialists will involve looking at issues of merit, effort, value, equality and democracy, he said.
“Heady concepts, but we must wrestle with them all,” Whatley said.
The Ontario Association of Radiologists did not respond to requests for an interview.
But a concern with the framework agreement cited on the association’s website is “the perpetual entrenchment of the OMA as the exclusive bargaining agent for all Ontario physicians with no alternative mechanism if this (binding arbitration) model does not work.”
The radiologists haven’t always been happy with how the OMA has represented them. In 1998, they tried unsuccessfully to sue the OMA because they were unhappy with a new fee contract, which limited how much they could bill OHIP for technical fees.
Opponents of the new framework agreement are also concerned that it directs an arbitrator, in making decisions of physician compensation, to take into account:
The vote breakdown report also shows that 70 per cent of women voters supported the deal, compared to 63 per cent of men.
The age breakdown shows that voters ages 25 and younger were most supportive, with 76 per cent voting in favour. Least supportive were those ages 46 to 50, with 39 per cent rejecting it.
Of 11 geographical areas, district 10, which includes northwestern Ontario, was most supportive with 75 per cent voting in favour.
Most opposed was district 5 which includes parts of Peel Region, Simcoe County and Dufferin County, and where 39 per cent voted the deal down.
How physician specialty groups voted
Six specialty groups most supportive of new negotiations framework (percentage of voters in favour)
Infectious Diseases (87%)
Palliative Medicine (86%)
Geriatric Medicine (86%)
Public Health (85%)
Laboratory Medicine (84%)
Six specialty groups least supportive of new negotiations framework (percentage of voters opposed)
Diagnostic Imaging (84%)
Plastic Surgery (69%)
Nuclear Medicine (61%)
Police in New Mexico are investigating after a woman was found dead with her husband inside a truck beside a U.S. interstate highway.
The bodies of Ursula Tammy Kokotkiewicz, 32, and her husband Jacob, 31, were discovered near Albuquerque, N.M. Thursday morning in a blue Dodge truck. Both had been shot in the head, said New Mexico State Police.
Police said the woman was found in the passenger seat, while her husband was on the driver’s side. A handgun was also found in the man's lap.
Officers found the couple while responding to the unrelated crash of a tractor-trailer carrying radioactive waste nearby.
New Mexico State Police spokesman Carl Christensen said police are not actively looking for any suspects, but he notes the investigation is ongoing.
Kokotkiewicz was from Canada but she was living with her husband in Flower Mound, Texas, which is about 45 kilometres northwest of Dallas.
Local media reports say Kokotkiewicz was a teacher working in Dallas and her husband served in the U.S. army.
Kokotkiewicz was certified to teach English, language arts and reading for students in grades 4 to 12, according to records from the State of Texas. She received the qualification in July 2016.
According to the Ontario College of Teachers, Kokotkiewicz graduated from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto in 2014, and was registered to teach in the province that September. Kokotkiewicz also received an Honours Bachelor of Arts from U of T in 2013.
A pamphlet from Kokotkiewicz’s OISE graduation ceremony — when she went by her maiden name, James — notes she received an award from the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario.
Tributes have been pouring in on Kokotkiewicz's Instagram account, with some people calling her “Ms. K.”
“I can’t believe Ms. K is gone still,” one person wrote. “Looking at her pictures makes it seem so unreal, especially because I had just talked to her before she left.”
Another person wrote: “My heart breaks ... it will not be the same to look across the hall and not see you there in August.”
After ruffling a few feathers and creating waves, the giant yellow duck turned tail and sailed into the sunset Monday evening.
The six-storey tall rubber duck “waddled” in Friday morning to kickoff Canada Day celebrations and the Redpath Waterfront Festival.
It is scheduled to migrate to its tour’s next stop in Owen Sound next weekend. Before flying north, the duck will be deflated, a process that will take at least two hours.
Lea Parrell, co-producer of the Redpath Festival, said the duck helped the festival break an attendance record on Saturday.
“On Saturday, we had more than we usually have in three days,” Parrell said. “It’s been unbelievable. It’s been half a million people on Saturday alone.”
She estimated that by Monday evening over 750,000 people had come out to see the duck.
“Have you seen her?” she asked, pointing to the duck. “You can’t look at her and not smile.”
Late Sunday afternoon, crowds began to gather around the big duck’s nesting site as word fluttered of her departure.
“It’s a little sad,” said Lina Maria of Toronto. “It’s a big, giant duck. Come on. It’s not everyday you get to see one.”
Cameras, phones and selfie sticks waving, people jostled their way over to the pier, most of which is barricaded because of increased water levels, to get as close as possible to the giant faux fowl.
Lisa Fong said she was happy she made it in time to see the duck, having been in Washington DC for a wedding over the weekend.
“It’s a great way of celebrating the 150th,” she said. “I know people are saying what does it have to do with Canada celebrating its 150th year but by having the duck you’re going to remember the 150th year.”
The duck created a wave of controversy over its price when the plan was announced and the fact that it wasn’t related to anything Canadian.
Parrell said the Redpath Waterfront Festival will be doing an economic impact study of the Ontario 150 duck tour, and release the results in fall.
A store selling duck souvenirs, t-shirts and baby duckies had a steady stream of customers. Renee Mattson, merchandiser for the duck, said they did not anticipate the interest the big bird generated.
“It took even us by surprise,” said Mattson.
The most popular of the four styles of t-shirts was a duck face t-shirt in yellow with the Ontario 150 tour dates on the back. Some 600 baby duckies, which were exact replicas of the mama duck, were sold out.
As the sun faded, and the duck’s ropes were untied, Vanuja Sree and Samantha Vasanthan watched from the barricades. They were at the waterfront to bid the duck adieu.
It would have been good if the duck could’ve found a permanent nest in Toronto, said Sree.
A single seagull stood sentinel as the big, sunshine yellow fowl sailed into the sunset.
“Goodbye, duck,” floated three-year-old Aarushi Aryal’s voice, although the inflated creature did not seem to hear or care.
Residents and former politicians are raising alarm about dysfunction in the town of Whitchurch-Stouffville after staff found a “CSI-style” wall in the mayor’s office washroom that displayed dozens of photos and names of fellow and former councillors, members of the public, and town staffers who have either been dismissed or resigned from their jobs in recent years.
The discovery, which sources say sparked an ongoing integrity commissioner complaint against the mayor by staff, is the latest controversy to hit a town grappling with an unprecedented staff exodus, a deeply divided council and concerns around how town business is conducted.
“The first thing that comes to mind is: why are all these people leaving?” said Sue Sherban, who was mayor from 2003 to 2006 and estimates a quarter of the staff have left since the term began.
“But overall it’s the mismanagement of the town that is the problem,” she said, adding many of the staff haven’t been replaced. “It comes down to a lack of leadership.”
One of the fastest-growing towns in York Region, Whitchurch-Stouffville made national headlines last summer after Mayor Justin Altmann invited the entire town to his wedding, sending out invitations for the big day to dignitaries on mayoral letterhead.
But the success of the day only briefly turned the focus away from the ongoing turmoil. Since 2014, four city managers and four human resources managers — including the HR manager hired last year to find a solution to the staffing crisis — have left or been dismissed.
In May 2016, human resources manager, Pavlina Thompson, found that since 2014 there had been 42 staffing changes out of a staff of 470, with 30 people leaving their jobs due to “dissatisfaction” and “a lack of trust.” As of February, Thompson, herself, was no longer employed with the town.
But in recent months, staffing concerns have taken a back seat to a discovery made by a town staffer in March when she entered Altmann’s office.
According to one account shared with the Star, a staffer tasked with checking which offices needed to be repainted, came across “three walls covered in a large crime scene style mural” that had photos of more than 30 people with their names written underneath. Some pictures had black lines drawn between them.
Long-time councillor Ken Ferdinands confirmed he saw the display.
“It was a very orderly series of photographs,” he said, when asked to describe it. “I don’t know why it was up there. I couldn’t see any purpose for it, but certainly I wasn’t disturbed by it. I had a very neutral reaction to it.”
“I didn’t draw any conclusions from it,” Ferdinands added.
Integrity commissioner Suzanne Craig, recently hired by the town, confirmed she is investigating a complaint, but would not say if it is related to the wall.
Altmann did not respond to repeated requests from the Star for comment about the display, why it was put up, or any of the questions around staffing concerns plaguing the town.
“Mayor Altmann will not be commenting at this time,” said his executive assistant, Debi Paterson, after town spokesman Glenn Jackson said to reach out to the mayor’s office directly for comment.
This is not the first time Altmann’s name has been raised in reference to staff conflict. Last December, acting Chief Administrative Officer Rob Raycroft penned a letter to the mayor, which was leaked to the public, tendering his resignation and asking to go back to his position as director of leisure services.
“Sorry, but I won’t accept aggressive behaviour or threats of being sued/harassment charges on the phone,” Raycroft wrote in the email, which was also sent to council members. “It’s very disappointing that this is what staff have to endure at the municipal offices . . . You also told me I should learn my place. Agreed.”
Jackson responded by email to questions sent to Raycroft, noting that he was helping the town and assisting council until the new CAO was in place.
There has been high turnover in the post — often referred to as city manager — with Raycroft’s immediate predecessor sending in his resignation letter to Altmann just one day after starting the job.
After an extensive search, the town hired Roman Martiuk as the new CAO last week. Martiuk, who is expected to fully assume his duties in August and will be the fifth person to hold the job in three years, recently served as chief executive officer of Walkerton Clean Water Centre.
“I look forward to working closely with the mayor, council and staff to tackle the town’s challenges and create an environment where staff can grow, excel and produce superior results for the taxpayer,” Martiuk said in a news release.
Beyond the staffing crisis, some town hall watchers shake their heads at how Stouffville is being run, including: sole sourcing of multiple municipal contracts, huge legal fees and severance pay for staff who have been dismissed, and a lack of vision moving the town forward.
Ferdinands, who has been a councillor under the past two mayors, called the current situation “unique,” saying some of the issues at the town come down to “inexperience” and “misperceptions about the nature of one’s role.”
Among the unusual things council has had to deal with: passing motions to restrict Altmann’s use of his mayoral chain, a new security protocol for town facilities after the building’s master key went missing, and an incident where the mayor refused to sign a motion he disagreed with, forcing another councillor to step in.
Ferdinands says while there has been some “disharmony” in the past, council has been operating in a “civil environment” and that members “are trying to do the best we can.”
But the dysfunction has been costly for local taxpayers.
Former CAO Marc Pourvahidi was “dismissed without cause” last November, according to a media release, after being put on administrative leave since May 2016. But despite his absence from the job for most of the year, Pourvahidi was the highest paid city manager in Ontario, with a salary of $447,289.27, according to the province’s salary disclosure list.
In a news release, officials said “all issues related to Pourvahidi’s employment with the town have been amicably resolved,” and attributed the payout to his 17 years of service.
When contacted, Pourvahidi said he had “moved on” and didn’t want to talk about his departure.
The town’s 2017 budget shows that more than $220,000 — — far more than the $20,000 that was allocated — was spent on legal fees for human resources. The town said it would not comment on HR issues, nor did it offer specifics on the discrepancy in the budget.
While some councillors contacted by the Star claim the business of the town is not being affected by the drama within, long-time resident Arnold Neufeldt-Fast, disagrees.
“Council has been so divided and unable to make progress on key files. There’s a lot of infighting,” said Neufeldt-Fast. “It all has to come down to the fact that the leadership is deficient,” he said, adding all major projects and milestones, including plans for upgrades to a new leisure centre and public library and other community parks came to fruition under former councils.
But beyond that, Neufeldt-Fast sees this term as a lost opportunity for a “town in search of an identity.”
“This term was really about re-inventing who we are,” said Neufeldt-Fast, talking about the town of 45,000, made up of mostly commuters, which has doubled in population over the last decade. “That’s why this current term of council was so critical … because at this point, we needed new centres and new ways of connecting with each other,” he said.
Instead, he says, the current drama at the town has left residents “deflated.”
But Ferdinands said this term, which ends in the fall of 2018, is not a lost cause.
“I think that would be a mischaracterization,” he said. “We have certainly plodded along, and made sure the needs of the municipality have been addressed,” he said. “Despite the liabilities, we kind of just soldier on.”
WASHINGTON—U.S. President Donald Trump will learn this week whether he gets a second chance to make a first impression as he returns to Europe and has his first encounter with Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
Trump’s first visit to the continent in May stirred anxieties among his European allies when he declined to endorse NATO’s common defence treaty explicitly and scolded world leaders for not spending more on their armed forces. This time, Trump will use stops in Poland and Germany to try to pull off the tricky balancing act of improving ties with Moscow at a time of particularly fraught relations while also presenting the U.S. as a check against Russian aggression.
Trump is leaving Washington for Europe on Wednesday. In what may be the most-watched event of the four-day trip, the president will meet Putin on the sidelines of an international summit meeting in Hamburg, Germany. Every aspect of the meeting between the two unpredictable leaders is sure to be closely scrutinized as investigations press on into alleged Moscow meddling in the 2016 election and potential Trump campaign collusion.
With those investigations hanging heavy in the air, there is little expectation the meeting will produce significant progress on difficult issues such as the crisis in Ukraine or the conflict in Syria.
“I can’t imagine any issue they can actually make major headway on, given the poison that surrounds the relationship,” said Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow in foreign policy at the Brookings Institution, who suggested it might lay the groundwork for future co-operation.
The Trump-Putin encounter will be one of at least nine meetings the U.S. president will have with foreign leaders while in Hamburg for a Group of 20 summit of developed and developing nations, beginning Friday.
But first Trump will stop in Poland, where leaders are looking for reassurance that the presence of U.S. and NATO troops there will continue as long as the region’s security is threatened by a resurgent Russia. In return, Trump will be expecting a warm reception as he pays homage to Polish resolve with a speech Thursday in Krasinski Square, his first major outdoor address in a foreign country.
Poland’s leaders are closely aligned with Trump’s world view, and ruling party lawmakers and pro-government activists plan to bus in groups to help ensure an enthusiastic crowd for Trump after his rather awkward European debut in May.
Previewing the trip, White House officials said Trump would reiterate the U.S. commitment to NATO’s Article 5, which says an attack on one member is an attack on all — something he didn’t do at NATO headquarters in Brussels during his first overseas trip but eventually endorsed last month. The president is also expected to cite the need to develop “a common approach to Russia,” his advisers said.
“He’d like the United States and the entire West to develop a more constructive relationship with Russia,” said the White House National Security Adviser, H.R. McMaster. “But he’s also made clear that we will do what is necessary to confront Russia’s destabilizing behaviour.”
Preparing for the trip, Trump spoke Monday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni. Earlier in the holiday weekend, he had conversations with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the leaders of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
After this trip, the president will be back in Europe soon for a mid-July visit to France to celebrate Bastille Day alongside new French President Emmanuel Macron. And in late July, he’ll send U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence to Estonia and Georgia — two former Soviet satellites straddling the Russian border — and new NATO member Montenegro.
Poland has been a staunch U.S. ally in Iraq and Afghanistan and is home to about 5,000 U.S. troops serving in separate American and NATO missions.
“They’re betting that this relationship with the United States on defence will balance their concerns about the possible directions of U.S.-Russia policy,” said Jeff Rathke, a senior fellow and deputy director of the Europe Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Sharing a border with Russia “is of the highest concern for Poland.”
U.S.-Russian relations remain tense — Trump said in April they may be at an “all-time low”— and Moscow has denounced the recent decision by the U.S. to impose sanctions on more than three dozen Russian people and firms over Russian activities in Ukraine. But Trump has expressed hopes of improved relations with the global power.
White House aides said Trump did not have a specific agenda for the meeting with the Russian president and they have yet to provide details on the staging for the encounter. Trump has had three phone calls with Putin since taking office. In the past, he’s offered contradictory descriptions of his connections with Putin, insisting during the campaign he had no recollection of meeting him but earlier stating that they spoke around the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow.
Trump’s overseas trip will be his first since he announced that he was withdrawing the U.S. from the landmark Paris climate agreement, to the regret of a number of world leaders who had lobbied Trump to remain in the 2015 pact. The White House said Trump and Merkel discussed the climate issues in their conversation Monday.
Merkel, host of the G20 summit, has been open about her disappointment in Trump’s decision and told the German parliament “we cannot expect easy talks in Hamburg” on climate issues.
The Canadian government will apologize to Omar Khadr and has settled a multimillion-dollar lawsuit with Toronto-born former detainee for abuses that occurred during his U.S. detention in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, the Toronto Star has learned.
Khadr’s lawyers met with the Department of Justice attorneys behind closed doors last month to reach the deal.
While the details of the settlement are not yet disclosed, it is reportedly less than the $20 million sought in the civil suit, but more than $10 million, which was what Canadian Maher Arar received following his yearlong detention and torture in Syria in 2002.
Lawyers Dennis Edney and John Phillips had argued in the case that has been ongoing since 2004, that Canada, a world leader for the rights for child soldiers, violated international law by not protecting its own citizen and conspiring with the U.S. in its abuse of Khadr. The allegations span years where both the Liberals and Conservatives have been in power.
Khadr was only 15 years old when he was shot and detained by U.S. Special Forces following a firefight in Afghanistan. The Pentagon charged Khadr with “murder in violation of the laws of war,” for the death of Delta Force soldier Sgt. Christopher Speer, who was fatally wounded in the July 2002 firefight.
Thousands of American service members were killed in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but Khadr remains the only captive the U.S. has prosecuted for murder under the Military Commissions Act, which the U.S. drafted following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Prior to 9/11, it was not considered a war crime to kill a soldier in a war zone.
Khadr accepted a plea deal in Guantanamo in 2010 in return for being able to come back to Canada. But he said in a 2015 interview with the Star that he doesn’t know if he threw the grenade that ultimately killed Speer and saw the deal as his only way out of the prison.
Speer’s widow, Tabitha, and former soldier Layne Morris, who was wounded in the firefight and lost sight in one eye, sued Khadr in a Utah court for damages. In 2015, a Salt Lake judge handed down a $134.2-million (U.S.) default settlement after receiving no reply from Khadr or his lawyers.
The claim cannot be enforced in Canada without legal action here and at the time of the settlement, Morris and Speer’s lawyer, Laura Tanner, said it was “really more of a statement case, I think, than a desire to collect this.”
The government apology ends what has been a legal saga for Khadr in Canada for nearly 15 years. The United Nations and international human rights groups harshly condemned both the U.S. and Canada over the years for not recognizing Khadr’s age during his detention and prosecution before Guatnanamo’s controversial war crimes court.
Khadr’s lawyers took the federal government to court Three times over his constitutional rights, and three times the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in favour of Khadr, writing in an unanimous 2010 decision that the participation of Canadian officials in Khadr’s Guantanamo interrogations “offends the most basic Canadian standards about the treatment of detained youth suspects.”
The settlement will be split between Khadr and his lawyers, who have fought for the Toronto-born former detainee for years, with little compensation for their work. Edney and his wife Patricia have supported Khadr since his release on bail two years ago.
Khadr, now 30, recently moved into his own apartment in Edmonton and hopes to attend classes in the fall to become a nurse.
City council will consider a whopping 265 agenda items starting Tuesday — from the future of Toronto Community Housing to a climate change action plan — before regular business pauses for the summer break.
What’s expected to be a four day meeting will include debates on a long list of potentially contentious items along with routine community matters.
Here is our guide to the meeting ahead:
Council typically meets once a month to approve the decisions made by various committees and also to consider new business along with motions brought by council members. Because several items were deferred from the last meeting when council ran out of time, and there is no other council meeting until October, this round is jam-packed with both major policy and things like neighbourhood disputes over fences. Expect some fireworks (post-Canada Day).
The big stuff
A man wanted by police for attempted murder and his pregnant girlfriend were shot in their Rexdale apartment early Tuesday.
The 20-year-old woman, who is three months pregnant, was shot in the chest and bleeding heavily but there were no direct injuries to the fetus, Toronto police Supt. Ron Taverner told a news conference at 12 Division Tuesday morning.
The 23-year-old man was shot in the hand and thigh.
Both victims were taken to hospital, where they are listed in stable condition.
“It’s unbelievable when shootings happen, but particularly when there’s a pregnant woman that is shot in her home,” Taverner said.
“These are despicable, despicable crimes.”
The male victim was being sought by police on a charge of attempted murder after a home invasion last week in which another person was shot, Taverner said. He would not provide details about the home invasion.
The man is facing more charges but the details will not be released until there is an update on his injuries.
Police did not release the name of either victim in Tuesday’s shooting, which Taverner described as a targeted incident that was gang-related. “We suspect this is a retaliation type of crime,” he said.
Three men in disguises entered the apartment at Kipling Ave., near Steeles Ave. W., and shot the couple while they were in bed around 1:30 a.m.
Taverner said two children, aged 4 and 8, were in another bedroom in the apartment when the shooting occurred, but that it was not immediately clear if they were related to the victims.
He also said police don’t know how the three assailants got into the apartment, but it did not appear that the apartment door was forced open.
With files from Alexandra Jones
When then-President-elect Donald Trump said on Twitter in early January that a North Korean test of an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States “won’t happen!” there were two things that he still didn’t fully appreciate: How close Kim Jong Un was to reaching that goal, and how limited any president’s options were to stop him.
The ensuing seven months have been an education for Trump. With North Korea’s July 4 launch, the country may, analysts say, have crossed that threshold, with a missile that could potentially reach Alaska.
Kim’s aggressive testing shows that a more definitive demonstration that he can reach the U.S. mainland cannot be far away, even if it may be a few years before he can fit a nuclear warhead onto his increasingly powerful missiles. But for Trump and his national security team, today’s technical milestone simply underscores tomorrow’s strategic dilemma.
A North Korean ability to reach the U.S., as former Defense Secretary William Perry noted recently, “changes every calculus.” The fear is not that Kim would launch a pre-emptive attack on the West Coast; that would be suicidal, and if the 33-year-old leader has demonstrated anything in his five years in office, he is all about survival. But if Kim has the potential ability to strike back, it would shape every decision Trump and his successors will make about defending America’s allies in the region.
It would, as one former top U.S. intelligence official noted recently, colour every military decision and put enormous pressure on U.S. missile defences that few trust to work.
Trump still has some time. What the North Koreans accomplished while Americans focused on Independence Day celebrations was a breakthrough, but not a vivid demonstration of their nuclear reach.
Their missile travelled only 933 kilometres, by itself no great achievement. But it got there by taking a 2,700-kilometre trip into space and re-entering the atmosphere, a flight that lasted 37 minutes by the calculation of the U.S. Pacific Command (and a few minutes longer according to the North Koreans).
Flatten that out, and you have a missile that could reach Alaska, but not Los Angeles. That bolsters the assessment of the director of the Missile Defense Agency, Vice Adm. James Syring, who told a congressional hearing last month that the U.S. “must assume that North Korea can reach us with a ballistic missile.”
Perhaps that is why Trump has not issued any “red lines” that the North Koreans cannot step over.
He has not even repeated the policy that George W. Bush laid out in October 2006 after the North’s first nuclear test: that he would hold the country “fully accountable” if it shared its nuclear technology with any other nation or terrorist group. Trump’s advisers say they see little merit in drawing lines that could limit options and they would rather keep the North guessing.
So what are Trump’s options, and what are their downsides?
There is classic containment, like the U.S. used against the Soviet Union in the Cold War. But that does not solve the problem, it is just a way of living with it.
He could step up sanctions, boost the U.S. naval presence off the Korean Peninsula — “we’re sending an armada” he boasted in April — and accelerate the secret U.S. cyber program to sabotage missile launches. But if that combination of intimidation and technical wizardry had been a success, Kim would not have conducted the July 4 test, knowing that it would only lead to more sanctions, more military pressure and more covert activity.
He could go the next step, and threaten pre-emptive military strikes if the U.S. detects an imminent launch of a intercontinental ballistic missile — maybe one intended to demonstrate the potential reach to the West Coast. Perry argued for that step in 2006, in an op-ed in The Washington Post that he wrote with a future defence secretary, Ash Carter. “If North Korea persists in its launch preparations, the United States should immediately make clear its intention to strike and destroy” the missile on the pad, the two men wrote then.
But Perry noted recently that “even if you think it was a good idea at the time,” and he now seems to have his doubts, “it’s not a good idea today.”
The reason is simple: In the intervening 11 years the North has built too many missiles, of too many varieties, to make the benefits of a strike like that worth the risk. It has test-flown a new generation of solid-fuel missiles, which can be easily hidden in mountain caves and rolled out for quick launch. And the North Koreans still possess their ultimate weapon of retaliation: Artillery along the northern edge of the Demilitarized Zone that can take out Seoul, a city of approximately 10 million people and one of the most vibrant economic hubs of Asia.
In short, that is a risk the North Koreans are betting even Trump, for all his threats, would not take. “A conflict in North Korea,” Trump’s secretary of defence, Jim Mattis, said on “Face the Nation” in May, “would be probably the worst kind of fighting in most people’s lifetimes.”
Which leads to the next option, the one that South Korea’s new president, Moon Jae-in, talked about in Washington on Friday when he visited Trump: negotiation. It would start with a freeze in North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests in return for a U.S. agreement to limit or suspend military exercises with South Korea. China’s president, Xi Jinping, has long urged that approach, and it won an endorsement on Tuesday from President Vladimir Putin of Russia, after he met with Xi.
That may be the best path available. But it, too, carries risks. It essentially achieves the North Korean and Chinese goal of limiting U.S. military freedom of action in the Pacific, and over time erodes the quality of the U.S.-South Korean military deterrent.
Negotiations with the North are hardly a new idea: Bill Clinton tried it in 1994, and George W. Bush in the last two years of his term. But both discovered that over time, once the North Koreans determined that the economic benefits were limited, the deals fell apart.
Moreover, a freeze at this late date, when the North is estimated to have 10 to 20 nuclear weapons, essentially acknowledges that the North’s modest arsenal is here to stay.
Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson said as much when he visited Seoul in mid-March and told reporters that he would likely reject any solution that would enshrine “a comprehensive set of capabilities” in the North. He has since softened his public comments. Administration officials now suggest that a freeze would not be a solution but a way station to a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula — in other words, an agreement that Kim would give up all his nuclear weapons and missiles.
But it is now clear that Kim has no interest in giving up that power.
As Kim looks around the world, he sees cases like that of Col. Moammar Gadhafi of Libya — an authoritarian who gave up his nascent nuclear program, only to be deposed, with U.S. help, as soon as his people turned against him. That’s what Kim Jong Un believes his nuclear program will prevent — a U.S. effort to topple him.
He may be right.
Murky water laps gently on a secluded stretch of the Severn River bank where Christina Kettlewell’s floral pajama-clad body was found seven decades ago, lying facedown in a shallow pool.
Investigators suspect the Toronto woman was already dead by the time the final licks of fire sputtered out among the charred remains of her honeymoon cottage just up the hill. There were no burn marks or signs of violence on her body, a post-mortem later showed.
An inquest into the 22-year-old woman’s death unravelled a confounding tale of elopement, life insurance policies, a possible love triangle, suicide letters, and attempted murder.
Her husband, Jack, a war veteran stationed in the dental corps, and his friend, Ronald Barrie, escaped the blazing cottage alive on May 20, 1947. Now 70 years later, the death of Toronto’s “eight-day bride” is an echo in Severn Falls folklore and a suppressed memory for living Kettlewell family members who almost never knew she existed.
“It was just like a door opening into another world...I often wondered, why is this top secret?” said Richard Kettlewell.
His father Jack remarried three years after the incident, starting a family in the same Mimico home he once shared with Christina. Jack later moved his family to the home across the street, where his son Richard still lives with his wife, Sharon.
“I call it our JFK. The unsolved mystery. What really happened?” Sharon said.
The mystery began with Jack and Christina’s secret wedding on May 12, 1947, which came after a suspicious two-week disappearance from her family home.
Christina’s father, a Polish immigrant, initially opposed the marriage because the groom was not a Roman Catholic. Though the 26-year-old Jack Kettlewell converted, the couple’s elopement was unsettling for Christina’s family, who couldn’t understand the looming presence of his best friend, Ronald Barrie.
“When Jack and Christina got married, we thought it was very strange that Barrie went along on the honeymoon. That’s what made us wonder if Ronnie was also in love with Chris,” her sister Helen Mocon said at the time.
Barrie, formerly known as Ronnie Ciufo, came to Canada from northern Italy and tried to establish himself in the construction and insurance businesses, to little success.
The 28-year-old professional ballroom dancer owned a cottage in Severn Falls, about 40 kilometres north of Orillia, Ont., where he would later join the Kettlewells for their honeymoon.
The newlyweds spent the first few days of their honeymoon at an apartment on Tyndall Ave. in Toronto with Barrie before moving to the Severn Falls cottage on May 17, 1947.
Three days later, Christina’s lifeless body was found in nine inches of river water.
A dramatic inquest into her death began almost a month later on June 19, and drew large crowds to the courthouse in Bracebridge, Ont. Photos of the inquest show spectators sitting outside, unable to get a spot in the packed courtroom, and even lining up to get autographs of the two men. The interest came in part from sensational media coverage of the case, and it was splashed all over the front pages of the Toronto Daily Star.
C.P. Hope, the special Crown counsel at the inquest, zeroed in on Barrie’s shady presence from the outset. Hope called him, “a liar of the most blatant kind whose sinister figure permeates the whole of this tragedy, but whose purpose and design are shrouded in mystery.”
The inquest revealed a number of inexplicable and dubious money transactions connecting back to Barrie at a time when he was broke.
Barrie was named as the beneficiary on two separate $5,000 life insurance policies for Jack and Christina, taken out before they eloped. The policies carried a double indemnity provision, meaning two times the amount would be paid out to Barrie in the case of accidental death. When adjusted for today’s inflation, it would work out to $260,000.
He also purchased $5,000 of insurance on the cottage, or $65,000 today.
Jack turned over his wartime gratuities to his friend, and a ring he borrowed from a married friend to propose to Christina was never recovered after her death. It was worth about $13,000 in today’s dollars.
But why did Jack cut his family out of his will, hand earnings to Barrie, and let his friend tag along on his honeymoon?
Jack’s weak answers to these questions did not satisfy Crown lawyer Hope, but a statement he made to police after the fire offered a small window into a possible motivation: Love.
In this statement, entered as an exhibit in court, Jack admitted to a long-term affair with Barrie. But when faced with the exhibit, Jack testified that he was pressured into the admission, saying, “That is what the police were trying to make.”
Still, Hope was not convinced.
“When Kettlewell, after vigorous questioning, agreed with Mr. Hope’s repeated suggestion that he and Barrie were ‘male lovers,’ the fantastic triangle of twister and thwarted emotions took shape,” according to a June 20, 1947 story in the Star.
Wayne Turner, present co-owner of the Severn Falls Marina, said the men’s close relationship and frequent trips up north was talked about by the locals, including his uncle, who was 10-years-old when the inquest happened.
“Nobody in the family could figure out why the guy would want to get married,” Turner said.
Barrie was instrumental in helping the Kettlewells elope, the inquest heard.
Could it be because he was also the keeper of Christina’s dark secret?
On April 6, Easter Sunday, a suicide letter revealed Christina had allegedly tried to kill herself by “poisoning,” the inquest heard.
Jack said his fiancée was ill that day, but what he did not know is that she had written a suicide letter addressed to Barrie detailing her uncertainty of receiving a proposal, according to his testimony.
“This will be the best way out, as I cannot bear to see another girl have him,” the note said. An RCMP handwriting expert testified that the suicide notes were “undoubtedly” written by Christina.
At the end of April, she made an attempt on both her life and Jack’s, as per the suicide notes.
“When you love someone you really love him, and I know there is no one for me but Jack, and if I cannot have him, I do not intend anyone else to…I waited as you might say, in the hope that Jack would ask me to marry him, but I now realize I am just a passing fancy,” she wrote in another letter to Barrie.
The final letter was written the day before her death and addressed to Mrs. Thomas, the woman who owned the home in Mimico where she briefly stayed with Jack. Christina asked Barrie to mail it.
“Ronnie is in the boat outside somewhere,” the note said. “By the time he gets back everything will be all over with. He must have been afraid something would happen because he is staying an extra day, to make sure we go back to Toronto with him.”
Barrie saved suicide notes from the fire, and did not tell Jack about Christina’s disturbing behaviour until it came out in the inquest.
Jack suggested his tall, dark-haired best friend was operating in the shadows to protect him.
But Jack’s son Richard and his wife, Sharon, don’t believe it.
The couple says Jack was an easygoing person who actively avoided any situation where he had to assert himself. This meant always going with the flow: avoiding confrontation, never returning items he bought from the store even if they were defective, and leaving things like unevenly spaced tiles just as they were despite his second wife’s protests.
With his quiet and reserved personality, Richard and Sharon think the senior Kettlewell, who passed away in 1998, could have been strung along on a grand scheme.
“I think this Barrie guy sort of manipulated my dad, just dominated him,” Richard said.
What they don’t understand to this day is why Jack never told them.
Sharon, an amateur archivist with a passion for family history, was scrolling through microfilm of a local newspaper called The Advertiser at Richview Library one day in 1992. That’s when she saw it.
“In the library, when somebody finds something…you’ll hear all of a sudden somebody go ‘Oh!’” She said, slamming her hands on the table.
The couple never brought it up to the senior Kettlewell, whose health was in steady decline. His second wife, from whom he separated in 1969 but never divorced, passed away last August.
Barrie disappeared to New York in 1956, leaving behind a Pekingese dog named Ling for Jack’s then two-year-old son, Richard said. The family never heard from him again.
A coroner determined the official cause of Christina Kettlewell’s death as drowning. There were traces of codeine found in her stomach.
Because of this, and “the suspicious fact that she was found drowned in nine inches of water,” the jury delivered an open verdict in the case, unable to agree on whether foul play was involved in Christina’s death.
Not 200 metres up the hill from where she was found, a red-roofed cottage is now perched in a half-halo of trees, replacing the structure that burned to the ground on the Toronto bride’s short-lived honeymoon. The exposed brick base of the original cottage appears to have been preserved in the remodelling.
“I remember when I was a kid…there was a stone chimney that stayed up there,” the marina-owner Turner said. “Everybody used to say it was haunted, but it was just one of those stories, right?”
It will always be a story with no conclusive ending for the living Kettlewells, like Jack’s son, Richard.
“My parents went to their grave saying nothing.”
TRENTON, N.J. — Gov. Chris Christie, by his own admission, entered lame-duck territory on Tuesday, signing his final budget after a bruising three-day state government shutdown that included a viral photo of him lounging on a state beach that was closed to the public because of a budget impasse.
The two-term Republican governor signed the $34.7-billion (U.S.) budget early Tuesday and sounded an unapologetic tone over the aerial photos snapped by NJ.com that showed him at the state governor’s residence at Island Beach State Park.
The pictures sparked a global reaction: countless memes featuring a Photoshopped cut-out of Christie in a beach chair, headlines on international news sites and a full-scale media blitz from Christie’s spokesman.
“If they had flown that plane over that beach and I was sitting next to a 25-year-old blond in that beach chair next to me that’s a story,” he said. “I wasn’t sitting next to a 25-year-old blond. I was sitting next to my wife of 31 years.”
The photos are part of a bruising finale for the term-limited governor, who had been a regular on late-night TV and a Republican superstar after Superstorm Sandy hammered his state in 2012.
Christie’s job approval in New Jersey has sunk to 15 per cent, tumbling after the convictions of three former aides in a scheme to deliberately cause traffic jams at the George Washington Bridge, his failed presidential run and his backing of U.S. President Donald Trump.
He’s become such a political liability in New Jersey that his top deputy, Lt.-Gov. Kim Guadagno, running to succeed him, hammered him over the beach photos: “Beyond words,” she said.
People in New Jersey and beyond seized on what many saw as a let-them-eat-cake gesture by the state’s chief executive.
“Taxpayers can’t use the parks and other public sites they pay for, but he and his family can hang out at a beach that no one else can use?” asked Mary Jackson, a Freehold resident. “Doesn’t he realize how that looks, how people will see it as a slap in the face?”
Christie acknowledged his lame-duck status on Tuesday after the budget signing but predicted that if Guadagno wins he still might have some influence with lawmakers — but less if Democrat Phil Murphy wins. The Legislature is expected to leave Trenton to campaign since all 120 seats are up this year.
Christie denied the beach photos played a role in how he negotiated with lawmakers and said it was “the pressure of a shutdown” that contributed to the budget resolution. He also has said he only worries about polls when he’s running for office — and he’s not.
But experts said they think the pictures all but did him in.
“The photos are likely the nails in Christie’s political coffin that drive his approval ratings into the single digits,” Montclair State University political science professor Brigid Harrison said.
The deal Christie struck late Monday with Democratic Senate President Steve Sweeney and Democratic Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto calls for a $34.7 billion budget that includes more than $300 million in Democratic spending priorities and is part of an agreement to overhaul the state’s largest health insurer, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield.
The Horizon legislation calls for annual audits of the non-profit’s reserve level, sets a range for reserves and requires excess to be spent on policyholders. The budget stalemate centred on Christie’s desire for legislation to overhaul Horizon, but the deal includes none of the initial use of Horizon’s surplus for opioid treatment that he set out to get in February.
Without a budget, state parks were shut down along with other non-essential state services, including state courts and the motor vehicle offices where people go to get driver’s licenses. Tens of thousands of state workers were furloughed.
Christie said he requested to give state workers a paid holiday on Tuesday and would discuss back pay with lawmakers.
OTTAWA—Former interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose is officially out of federal politics.
Ambrose formally resigned her House of Commons seat today by way of a letter to the Speaker.
Ambrose represented an Alberta riding for the last 13 years and took on temporary leadership of the party in the fall of 2015.
She had already indicated plans to resign her seat once a permanent leader was chosen and the Commons rose for the summer; Andrew Scheer was elected in May and MPs went home late last month.
Among other things, Ambrose will be working on Canada-U.S. relations with a D.C.-based think tank.
In her letter, she says it was the privilege of her life to serve and she hopes she has inspired women and girls to aspire to public office as a way to make the world a better place.
She says her message to them is, “You are equal, you are worthy, and you can do it.”
A Toronto police officer is being charged after a man was struck riding his bicycle and seriously injured near McCowan Road and Lawrence Avenue East.
Toronto Police Service Const. Cole Robinson faces one count of dangerous driving causing bodily harm, according to a Special Investigations Unit (SIU) press release.
“The Director of the SIU, Tony Loparco, has reasonable grounds to believe a TPS officer committed a criminal offence in January,” it reads. “As a result, Director Loparco has caused a charge to be laid against the officer.”
The SIU is an independent body investigating police misconduct, including incidences that cause serious injury.
Robinson will appear in a Toronto court on July 18.
Toronto’s infamous duck has floated away, but not before inflating the city’s bottom line.
Waterfront businesses say this Canada Day long weekend was their busiest ever. And the duck is to thank.
“It was definitely the busiest Canada Day long weekend we’d ever seen,” said Trevor Brodie, Amsterdam BrewHouse’s director of operations. “Everyone was coming down to see the duck so it’s 1-0 for the duck I think.”
While the Toronto islands were closed, pushing crowds to the waterfront, Brodie says everyone who showed up at Amsterdam asked the same question: “Where’s the duck?”
“It was definitely a busy week for everyone down here. Everybody on the patios got up and was taking selfies. They were loving it,” Brodie added. “It was pretty cool to see all the young kids get up close to the big duck – it was the coolest thing they’d ever seen. All-in-all it was a great addition to the waterfront.”
Redpath Waterfront Festival organizers say they cleared half a million visitors on the first day, smashing previous three-day records. Lea Parrell, the festival’s co-producer, expects 2017’s economic impact study to far exceed the $4.2 million they helped generate from non-local tourists in 2015.
She says the Radisson Hotel’s Starbucks had to close down on Saturday after selling out.
“I have been in this business a long time and I have never, ever seen crowds like that,” she said. “You couldn’t move. It was unbelievable. At one point, it was like ‘oh my goodness, I’m a little worried, there’s so many people down here’.”
The city’s water taxis, struggling this summer due to the island’s closure, got a boost.
“Massive duck made a massive lineup,” said Tiki Taxi’s Luc Cote. “It was easily three times the amount of business we would have had.”
While most Canada Day long weekends only provide the water taxis a boost on July 1, Cote says he had his full fleet running 30-minute trips onto the water for all three days.
“We were actually busier on the holiday Monday than we were on Canada Day,” he said. “It compensated for the island being closed, that’s for sure. We actually really, really needed something like the duck to get people out on the water.”
Eleanor McMahon, Ontario’s minister of tourism, culture and sport, said in a statement that the duck was a success.
“The crowds lining up to see the duck and the economic boost for local economies indicates that our investments are effective and critically important for our tourism sector.”
Parrell says the duck was money well spent and that all but a US$21,000 rental fee of Redpath’s $121,325 grant went to marketing, fencing, a crane, a tugboat, and security they needed anyways.
The local businesses agree.
“It was massively busy down here and it was people coming to see the duck,” said Cote.
The deaths of a beloved teacher from the GTA and her husband beside a New Mexico highway have been ruled a murder-suicide, state police said Tuesday.
Ursula Tammy Kokotkiewicz, 32, was found dead in the passenger seat of the couple’s blue Dodge truck at about 9 a.m. Thursday. Her husband, Jacob, was on the driver’s side with a gun between his legs.
Both had been shot in the head. The car was still running when New Mexico State police officers found the couple on the side of the Interstate 40 highway near Albuquerque.
In a news release Tuesday, state police said they found “no forensic evidence indicating an external party to be involved,” and investigators would be examining a number of electronics found in the car to help determine a motive for the death.
Officers found the bodies while directing traffic for a nearby crash involving a tractor-trailer carrying radioactive materials.
Kokotkiewicz was from Canada, but the couple lived in Flower Mound, Texas, about 45 kilometres northwest of Dallas. Her husband served in the U.S. army, according to local media.
Kokotkiewicz, who went by Tammy or Ms. K, taught at a high school in Dallas. She was certified to teach English, language arts and reading for students in grades 4 to 12 since last July, records from the State of Texas show.
According to the Ontario College of Teachers, Kokotkiewicz graduated from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto in 2014, and was registered to teach in the province that September. Kokotkiewicz also received an Honours Bachelor of Arts from U of T in 2013.
A pamphlet from Kokotkiewicz’s OISE graduation ceremony — where she went by her maiden name, James — notes she received an award from the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario.
Tributes for the teacher began rolling in via social media Monday night as news of her death began to spread.
“I can’t believe Ms. K is gone still,” one person wrote. “Looking at her pictures makes it seem so unreal, especially because I had just talked to her before she left.”
Another person wrote: “My heart breaks . . . it will not be the same to look across the hall and not see you there in August.”
Family and friends are also trying to raise money to help Kokotkiewicz’s mother with funeral costs. The GoFundMe page has raised over $9,000 so far.
“Tammy was always smiling and made the best of every situation,” said the author of the page.
“Those who had the pleasure of knowing her will always remember her smile and bubbling personality.”