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- 07/05/17--12:59: _Indigenous students...
- 07/05/17--11:18: _Photographer Ren Bo...
- 07/06/17--05:58: _Firefighters remain...
- 07/06/17--07:53: _Students returning ...
- 07/06/17--05:00: _Céline Dion posed n...
- 07/05/17--18:21: _U.S. soldier’s wido...
- 07/06/17--05:57: _Trump calls on West...
- 07/06/17--08:00: _Toronto marijuana a...
- 07/06/17--12:59: _Sex robots trigger ...
- 07/06/17--11:37: _Helicopter father-s...
- 07/06/17--05:30: _Lull in Toronto-are...
- 07/06/17--10:07: _Toronto cycling adv...
- 07/06/17--10:36: _Second suspect soug...
- 07/06/17--10:55: _Ontario doctors pla...
- 07/06/17--10:36: _Veteran Toronto cit...
- 07/06/17--12:01: _The Scotiabank Thea...
- 07/06/17--17:46: _Council approves Ki...
- 07/07/17--05:32: _Sunwing flight to C...
- 07/07/17--05:19: _Trump, Putin shake ...
- 07/07/17--06:19: _Canadian labour mar...
- 07/06/17--05:58: Firefighters remain at the scene of west-end blaze
- 07/06/17--07:53: Students returning to Toronto after classmate’s drowning death
- 07/06/17--08:00: Toronto marijuana arrests reveal ‘startling’ racial divide
- 07/06/17--12:59: Sex robots trigger debate about gender and sexism: DiManno
- 07/06/17--11:37: Helicopter father-son team attempting record with global odyssey
- 07/06/17--05:30: Lull in Toronto-area housing market expected to linger
- 07/06/17--10:07: Toronto cycling advocate killed after being struck while riding
- 07/06/17--10:36: Second suspect sought in Vaughan café explosion
- 07/06/17--10:36: Veteran Toronto city councillor Pam McConnell ‘gravely ill’
- 07/06/17--12:01: The Scotiabank Theatre escalators are broken again
A student-led campaign at Ryerson University is pushing for the school to change its name out of respect for residential school survivors.
But the proposal from the Ryerson Students Union and the Indigenous Students Association has prompted considerable backlash from the wider student community, who criticize it as being impractical and disrespectful in its own right.
The downtown Toronto university is named for Egerton Ryerson, a pioneer of public education in Ontario who is widely believed to have helped shape residential school policy through his ideas on education for Indigenous children.
The school has previously stated that Ryerson’s ideas did help contribute to the system that has since been described as a “cultural genocide” and acknowledged the need to commit to respectful relationships with Indigenous students.
The request for a name change is one of 11 demands the students union posted on its Facebook page on Canada Day under the hashtag #resist150.
Others include removing a statue of Ryerson that currently stands on campus, creating an Indigenous-only space for students, and implementing mandatory Indigenous content in all programs.
But the demands have sparked controversy both in and out of the union.
Union president Susanne Nyaga said at least one executive member has expressed a desire to rethink his position on the issue, and the union itself may have to revise its stance after further discussions.
Students outside the union, meanwhile, have decried the idea of changing the school’s name. They’ve pointed out the financial costs of a major rebranding, expressed concerns that changing the name could pose problems for previous graduates who hold a Ryerson diploma, and argued that expunging Egerton Ryerson’s name and likeness from campus is not a sound way of acknowledging a dark episode in Canada’s history.
“The statue must remain, and the name of the school,” wrote one Facebook poster identifying herself as Indigenous. “Why? It’s the history of the school. You do not have to agree with it, but it is the history of what people back then were thinking. It is a reminder ... No ones hands are clean when it comes to the history of Canada.”
The demand that drew perhaps the highest number of critical or derisive comments states that the school should “change the name of Ryerson University to a name that does not celebrate a man who supported and created the structures of colonial genocide.”
Other demands include implementing three specific recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, as well as more modest ideas such as hosting at least one annual powwow per year and encouraging the adoption of the orange shirt campaign to commemorate residential school survivors.
Nyaga said it was Indigenous student groups on campus that initiated the campaign, not the union itself, which operates independently of Ryerson University despite being funded by student dollars. She said those groups have long considered Egerton Ryerson’s legacy as problematic.
“These conversations have been happening amongst indigenous students for years,” she said. “The difference is that the RSU is supporting indigenous students and standing in solidarity with them this time.”
But solidarity is not yet established internally, she acknowledged, saying the next union board meeting on July 19 will likely feature some discussion of the issue. It is possible that the union may wind up withdrawing its support for the demands, she said, adding that she personally supports them all.
The university said in a statement that it was looking forward to hearing the union’s concerns so they could work together productively.
“Ryerson University values the equitable, intentional and ongoing engagement of equity, diversity and inclusion within every facet of university life,” the statement said. “As always, we invite any students or student groups with concerns to contact university administration directly.”
The school had previously acknowledged the problematic legacy of its namesake.
In October 2010, the school issued a statement describing Egerton Ryerson as someone who believed in different systems of education for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children.
“These beliefs influenced, in part, the establishment of what became the Indian Residential School system that has had such a devastating impact on First Nations, Métis and Inuit people across Canada,” the statement said. “While Egerton Ryerson did not implement or oversee Indian Residential Schools, his ideas were used by others to create their blueprint. It is important to acknowledge this connection and in so doing emphasize the university’s ongoing and proactive commitment to respectful relationships with Aboriginal communities.”
This is the second time in recent weeks that the names of residential school architects have come under scrutiny.
Late last month, the name of founding father Hector-Louis Langevin was stripped from the building that houses the Prime Minister’s Office on Parliament Hill.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government was responding to feedback that there was “deep pain” associated with seeing the name on a government building.
He said the building would now simply be called the Office of the Prime Minister and the Privy Council.
An amateur photographer was spared a criminal record after posting revealing photos of women he knows and contact information about them on the Internet without their consent.
Ren Bostelaar, a former photography store worker and would-be writer, agreed to a one-year peace bond on Wednesday in Old City hall court that limits his Internet privileges and blocks him from contacting complainants in his case without their consent.
Bostelaar didn’t comment to the court or the press on Wednesday, leaving that to his lawyer, Sam Goldstein.
Goldstein said that his “happily married” client, who has young children, feels deep shame because of the case.
“We underestimate shame as a very powerful force... in the criminal justice system,” Goldstein said outside the courtroom.
Goldstein noted that Bostelaar, who ran the blog Bike Rack TO, was never criminally charged in the case.
“This is clearly inappropriate behaviour but the larger lesson we should all be taking from this... is what you post on the Internet is not private,” Goldstein said.
Two of Bostelaar’s female victims told the Star they weren’t impressed by the peace bond conditions or Goldstein’s comments.
“I think he’s getting off very easy,” said one of the women, who said she has moved from Toronto to avoid bumping into Bostelaar on the street.
“I’m very dissatisfied with the over-all outcome,” said the woman in a telephone interview. She said Bostelaar should have had to pay to have their images removed from the Internet.
She said she was told it would cost $3,000 to have her images professionally removed, and there was no guarantee they wouldn’t be reposted.
She said that Bostelaar should also have been compelled to give the names of all of the women he has victimized, so that they can try to clean their images from the Internet.
Another victim fought back tears outside the courtroom.
“It should never be a woman’s fault... to send a picture to someone you trust,” she said outside the court.
“There are people who need to have the internet taken away from them,” she said.
“The consequences he’s getting don’t match up to what we’ve been through.”
There is a court-imposed publication ban on publication of the victims’ identities, without their consent.
The two women who spoke with The Star chose not to be identified.
Assistant Crown attorney Lisa Henderson told court the publication ban on the women’s names is necessary to prevent further harm to them.
“It does have a significant impact on these women and their ability to go about their lives,” Henderson said.
The victim who attended court said she’s still getting counselling as a result of his actions.
“It’s been scary,” she said. “To know that it was someone I trusted has screwed up my ability to trust other men,” she said.
She said she has had to take time off work because of Bostelaar’s actions.
She said it didn’t really matter that Bostelaar didn’t speak up and apologize to her in court.
He did earlier apologize to the women on Facebook, writing: “It has come to light that I’ve been engaging in a reprehensibly bad behaviour (sic) and I would like to make a public apology and take responsibility for my actions.”
Bostelaar issued his apology on Facebook after he was confronted by at least one of the women involved.
“It feels to me that he’s sorry he got caught and he’s not sorry for what he did,” said the victim who attended his court appearance.
Conditions of his peace bond include an agreement to notify police of any changes in his occupation, employment or address.
He’s not allowed to communicate with any of the complainants in the case or come within 100 metres of them, without their consent.
He’s required to give police all of his online names and addresses. He’s required to delete any revealing images he has of complainants and he can’t make any further revealing images without notifying them of the reasons for his peace bond.
He’s also barred from a number of websites, including Reddit and 4chan.
He must also continue counselling.
The peace bond is in effect for 12 months and includes a $1,000 surety.
Goldstein said that the case has cost his client his job at a photography store and a chance to write a book on Statistics Canada, an online parody account.
The Star earlier spoke with seven women, who all said they know Bostelaar personally and said their photos and contact information were unknowingly shared without their consent.
One of those women told The Star on Wednesday after the court hearing that she has spent hours trying to pull her images from the Internet and still isn’t satisfied they have been removed.
“Our images are still out there,” she said.
Bostelaar’s actions are what’s known as “doxing” or “doxxing” ― which is the collecting of otherwise private or hard-to-find information, like names, phone numbers, and addresses concerning an online target.
With files from Jennifer Pagliaro
With files from Jennifer Pagliaro
Toronto fire crews remain at the scene of a four-alarm fire that spread through a line of homes in the city’s west end on Wednesday afternoon.
Two fire trucks are still on Argyle St., near Ossington Ave. and Dundas St. W., as firefighters continue to put out hotspots from the blaze that started at about 5 p.m.
The fire “extensively” damaged four homes and affected two more, said District Chief Stephen Powell.
At the peak of the four-alarm fire, more than 30 fire trucks were at the scene.
Police evacuated homes in the area and tweeted that a number of people were treated for smoke inhalation. A firefighter was also treated on scene for heat exhaustion.
“The smoke was thick throughout the entire neighbourhood,” said Powell.
Firefighters worked overnight into Thursday morning to make sure no flare-ups occurred.
Investigators also remain on the scene to determine the cause of the fire.
Argyle St. remained closed Thursday morning from Dovercourt Rd. to Dundas St. W.
With files from Alanna Rizza
Students from two Toronto high schools continue to make their way home Thursday after a 15-year-old classmate drowned in an Algonquin Park lake on Tuesday.
Eighteen students and two staff members arrived back in Toronto by bus early Thursday morning after being flown to the park’s welcome centre by float plane.
The remaining students and staff are making their way out of the park from the remote camp site where Jeremiah Perry drowned on Tuesday, and were expected to arrive back in Toronto later Thursday.
Jeremiah, a student at C.W. Jeffreys Collegiate Institute, was swimming in Big Trout Lake on Tuesday evening when he went underwater and did not resurface.
His body was recovered the following afternoon.
It has been brought to Toronto, where an autopsy was conducted Thursday afternoon, said Cheryl Mahyr, spokesperson for the Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario.
Student Boran Balci, 17, from C.W. Jeffreys told reporters outside the school on Thursday that he went into the lake with Jeremiah before he disappeared.
“We went together to swim because we were dirty,” he said. “He (Jeremiah) went inside the water and then I was swimming and something pulled me down. First something pulled my left leg and then my right leg, it pulled my foot.”
Thirty-three students from C.W. Jeffreys and Westview Centennial Secondary School, including Jeremiah and his older brother Marion, arrived on Sunday at Algonquin Park for the annual excursion. The trip was scheduled to last until Friday.
After arriving in Toronto, several students who were on the trip have been gathering at C. W. Jefferys throughout the day, trustee Tiffany Ford told the Star Thursday afternoon. Many couldn’t sleep last night, she said, and are looking for community and support. Counsellors are at the school, and students have been huddling and “coping together,” she said.
“They’re devastated. They said they can’t sleep,” said Ford. “They are really coming to get some support because they are not doing too well at all.”
Ford said it was emotional and somber late Wednesday night, when the first bus load of students arrived at the school. Parents and community members came out to greet them, she said, and counsellors were on hand.
“It was just a sad occasion.”
Now, she said, it seems like students are “talking about what happened and just trying to get some kind of support...They’re just traumatized it seems like.”
Students who said they were on the trip were seen coming in and out of the school, but said they did not want to speak to media.
The remaining students still in the Algonquin backcountry were portaging back to civilization Thursday, bound for the largest body of water in Algonquin, Lake Opeongo — about six kilometres north of Hwy. 60.
Toronto District School Board spokesperson Shari Schwartz-Maltz said two TDSB social workers and seven family members who have gone to the park to meet them.
“TDSB’s entire focus is to support the family and to ensure the safety of the students with bringing them home. Once all the kids have returned home, in terms of moving forward, there will be more conversation,” said Schwartz-Maltz.
On Wednesday, the students were divided into two groups, with Jeremiah’s brother among those who were brought out of the park by plane.
Evacuating the first group of students took most of Wednesday, partially due to technical difficulties with a plane. Coulas said the officials involved decided as a group to direct the others to portage out of the backcountry instead, taking the quickest route park staff could identify.
Everyone portaging back is in good health, and the group has plenty of food, said Coulas.
“We want to make sure we get everyone else out safely so they can be reunited with their family members.”
“We hate to see these kinds of tragedies happen,” he added.
The excursion was part of a summer school outdoor education program that focused on leadership development, said TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird.
Activities like canoeing and portage were part of the trip, and Bird said that swim tests would have been done prior to departure.
The swim test was described as “quite strict” by Schwartz-Maltz, and included water safety, laps, and a level of underwater endurance. Of the staff on the trip, two are teachers and the others are outdoor education specialists.
Karen Falconer, the superintendent for C.W. Jefferys’s summer school, came outside the school an hour after Jeremiah’s death was confirmed to express her condolences to the family and gratitude to Ontario Provincial Police, principals, teachers, staff and the community “in the face of this huge tragedy.”
Safety, she said, was at the top of mind for the TDSB for all their trips.
“We will continue to learn from each and every trip that we take. There isn’t a single tragic incident that’s happened in the Toronto District School Board that we have not learned from and become better at,” she said.
“But we know every possible procedure and process was in place to ensure the safety of our students and staff . . . The sadness of this is even more profound in light of how seriously we take that safety.”
With files from Victoria Gibson, Vjosa Isai and Emily Fearon
Céline Dion, Canada’s sweetheart and singer of the greatest song ever sung (“My Heart will Go On,” duh) has been having a lot of well-deserved fun in the aftermath of the tragic deaths of her husband and brother, only days apart last year.
You could say that after decades of being a relatively safe diva — the kind your grandmother never had a nasty word for — Dion is finally having her very own Miley moment.
The 49-year-old Grammy-winner posed nude this week for a Vogue Magazine photo shoot. In said photo that appears on Instagram, Dion is sitting cross-legged on a white chair, holding a white garment over her private parts. Of course, like a lot of celebrities who can afford to eat three gourmet salads with lean protein every day, Dion at 49 looks better naked than most women at 16. But this isn’t exactly a surprise. What is a surprise and what’s actually kind of radical about Dion’s posing in the buff is that her nude photo isn’t presented with the disclaimer: “We know she’s old as sin, but boy does she look good!”
Traditionally, when a woman older than 40 does anything remotely sexy in the public eye, this display of sexuality is accompanied by a breakdown of why and how she looks so great (Pilates, chia seeds, cryogenic freezing, etc.) and why it’s empowering to prove to the world that despite getting on in years her loins have not shrivelled up like a couple of prunes in the sun. For proof of this phenomenon, look no further than any mainstream media article about Goldie Hawn — arguably one of the funniest women in the world who has been reduced to a single sentence: “She’s still got it!”
Thankfully, Dion’s nude photo isn’t accompanied by any of this vacuous b.s. Instead, the magazine’s caption underneath the photo is rather technical; it deals mostly with Dion’s preferences in couture and reads like the kind of fashion magazine blurb most people skip over because it requires a PhD to parse. An excerpt: “Micro straps of elasticized chiffon prevent a slit from becoming a sloppy situation mid-squat.” Whatever you say, Vogue.
Another remarkable thing about Dion’s posing in the buff? Her nudity isn’t linked to the promotion of a cause — animal rights for example — nor is she coming out to reveal a long-hidden identity.
Don’t get me wrong: it was extremely brave of Caitlyn Jenner to come out on the cover of Vanity Fair in 2015, wearing nothing but a white negligee. And the overwhelming consensus among non-bigots, even in youth-obsessed Hollywood, was that she looked fantastic.
But I always wondered, how might the public reaction have played out if Jenner wasn’t transgender, but just plain old? What if the senior citizen’s reason for donning lingerie for the world had nothing to do with any kind of cathartic identity reveal, but was borne instead out of a simple desire to be a sex symbol; to appear on the cover of a magazine in an outfit a 22-year-old might wear? What if her stated mission was not to live her truth and change the world, but to turn people on? I highly doubt we would have been so complimentary if this were the case. In fact, I doubt Jenner would have been permitted to pose that way at all.
This is because if women over 40 want to be sexy in the public eye they usually have to have a good reason for doing so. That reason can run the gamut from “inspirational” weight loss to a tight and toned post-baby body to a transgender celebrity’s long-awaited reveal of the figure she paid big bucks for.
But Dion offered no explanation for her nudity this week. She didn’t apologize for it. And perhaps most importantly, she didn’t dress it up as some kind of miracle that a 49-year-old woman could still look good without her clothes on. Whether she intended to make one or not, this was a radically feminist act. And hopefully it’s a signal to other women in the entertainment industry who have been deemed geezers long before their time that they don’t need a noble reason to show some skin.
An attorney representing the widow of U.S. Delta Force soldier Sgt. Christopher Speer filed a court application to try to enforce a $134-million wrongful death claim against Omar Khadr two weeks before lawyers for the former Guantanamo Bay detainee negotiated a confidential settlement in the case.
Court records show the application to Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice was filed June 8. The 11-page application from lawyers for Tabitha Speer and retired special forces soldier Layne Morris, who was injured in the 2002 firefight where Khadr was shot and captured in Afghanistan, requests an emergency injunction to stop the Canadian government from giving Khadr and his lawyers the reported $10.5-million settlement.
Khadr’s lawyer, John Phillips, said Wednesday that he has not yet seen the legal challenge but confirmed that private mediation with representatives from the Department of Justice took place June 21 and 22. The results of the mediation remain confidential, he said.
Reached in Utah, Morris declined an interview request. His Toronto attorney, David Winer, also said he could not comment on any aspects of the case.
The Trudeau government once again remained quiet Wednesday, refusing to acknowledge reports that began Monday night claiming Ottawa will apologize to Khadr and pay more than $10 million to compensate him for the years of abuse he endured as a teenager in Guantanamo Bay and Afghanistan.
No date has been set for the application to ask an Ontario court to enforce the Utah judgment but any payout for Khadr’s civil case, which began in 2004, could once again be delayed if the injunction is granted.
Toronto lawyer Paul Cavalluzzo said the Ontario court would have to consider specific criteria in deciding whether to uphold the huge settlement.
The fact that Khadr was still in custody when the application began and the sheer amount of the default judgment — a figure never seen in Canadian cases —would be part of the argument and make it difficult to enforce, he said.
But the facts of the case would not be re-tried here, Cavaluzzo said, which means “they could bring a motion on an expedited basis within six months or so; it should not take a long time.”
Khadr, who was 15 at the time of the firefight, is the only captive the Pentagon has prosecuted for the death of an American service member. He was accused of throwing a grenade that fatally wounded Speer in Afghanistan.
The 30-year-old is now living in Edmonton, free on bail pending an appeal of his Guantanamo conviction. He said once he returned to Canada that he agreed to plea guilty in 2010, as he believed it was his only chance to ever leave the notorious U.S. prison in Cuba.
Once again breaking with tradition by attacking U.S. leaders and institutions while abroad, Trump told a friendly Polish crowd, including loyalists the governing party had bused in from the more-conservative countryside, that “radical Islamic terrorism” threatened “our civilization and our way of life.”
In Warsaw, a city rebuilt after it was razed by the Germans in the Second World War, the president declared rhetorical war on a broad array of foreign and domestic forces that he said were aligned against him, even criticizing President Vladimir Putin of Russia in his strongest terms to date, before their first face-to face meeting, in Hamburg, Germany, on Friday.
But the blunt force of his words were not matched by new specifics. Pressed about Russian interference in the U.S. election, he said that “nobody really knows” if other countries might have been involved. He also vowed a “very severe” response if North Korea escalated its military threat, but he did not go into detail.
Trump delighted his Polish hosts by recounting a popular narrative about the country’s resilience in the face of centuries of partition and oppression — including Nazi invasion and communist domination — but he said next to nothing about the right-wing government’s crackdown on judges, journalists and opposition parties, which has deeply alarmed other European Union leaders.
And although he spoke in Krasinski Square, where a monument commemorates the 1944 Warsaw uprising against the Nazis, he skipped a visit to a museum devoted to a 1943 uprising by Jews who had been forced into a ghetto. His daughter Ivanka went there Thursday instead.
Trump praised Poland, a NATO ally, “as an example for others who seek freedom, and who wish to summon the courage and the will to defend our civilization.”
He went on to employ the same life-or-death language as in his inauguration speech, which promised a war against the “American carnage” of urban crime.
“The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive,” he said. “Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost? Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders? Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?”
Trump also denounced “the steady creep of government bureaucracy that drains the vitality and wealth of the people,” citing the value of individual freedom and sovereignty.
The U.S. president also had harsh words for North Korea, after its recent test of a new long-range missile, but he refused to say during a short news conference with his Polish counterpart, Andrejz Duda, what steps he would take to punish Pyongyang.
“We’ll see what happens — I don’t like to talk about what we have planned — but I have some pretty severe things that we’re thinking about,” Trump said at the news conference. “They are behaving in a very, very serious manner, and something will have to be done about it.”
Trump — who is under pressure to confront Putin on his attempts to sway the election — delivered a mixed message on Russia, one tailored for his Polish audience, the other straight out of his Putin playbook.
The president, acknowledging Polish concerns about Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, said, “We are working with Poland” to deal with “Russia’s destabilizing behaviour.”
But he also said he was still not entirely convinced that Russia was solely responsible for interference in the 2016 election, breaking with American intelligence agencies that have agreed that the efforts emanated from Moscow and were directed by Putin.
“I think it was Russia, and it could have been other people in other countries,” Trump said when asked for a yes-or-no answer to the question about Russian meddling. “Nobody really knows for sure.”
Trump also came with an announcement intended to emphasize his commitment to defending Poland against aggression — possibly from Russia — and to helping American workers. Duda’s government has agreed to buy the Patriot missile defence system from the United States, a senior administration official said.
Trump emerged from a Marriott in Warsaw on Thursday a little after 9:15 a.m., his sprawling motorcade of flag-flapping black sedans, police escorts and shuttle buses riding along the Vistula River to a back entrance to the presidential palace. He was greeted by Duda, and disappeared for closed-door meetings after a session with photographers, emerging only for the news conference.
Unlike what is expected in Hamburg, where leaders of the Group of 20 economies will meet Friday, there were no major protests in Warsaw, although there were signs of dissent.
Wednesday night, around the time Air Force One arrived in Warsaw, environmental protesters projected a message on the side of the Palace of Culture and Science, reading “No Trump, Yes Paris,” a dig at Washington’s plan to withdraw from the Paris climate accord.
And Michael Schudrich, Poland’s chief rabbi, and other Jewish leaders criticized Trump’s decision not to visit the monument to the 1943 ghetto uprising.
Every U.S. president and vice president who has visited Warsaw since the fall of communism in 1989 has visited the monument. “We deeply regret that President Donald Trump, though speaking in public barely a mile away from the monument, chose to break with that laudable tradition, alongside so many other ones,” the statement read. “We trust that this slight does not reflect the attitudes and feelings of the American people.”
But Trump’s appearance in Krasinski Square, a setting that symbolizes the Polish people’s resistance to tyranny, was well received, as was his message linking the fight against Daesh, also known as ISIS and ISIL, to Poland’s resistance of German invasion and occupation from 1939 to 1945.
“We must stand united against these shared enemies to strip them of their territory, their funding, their networks and any form of ideological support,” Trump said. “While we will always welcome new citizens who share our values and love our people, our borders will always be closed to terrorism and extremism.”
The pro-Duda crowd at Krasinski Square, where many waved U.S. and Polish flags, serenaded reporters from both countries with periodic chants of “fake news.”
That came about an hour after Trump tag-teamed with Duda in a transnational denunciation of journalists who write negative stories about them.
The American president criticized CNN and defended what he suggested was a lighthearted tweet of a video depicting him body-slamming a figure whose head was replaced by the CNN logo.
What made Trump’s sermon against the mainstream news media different this time was that Duda’s center-right party, Law and Justice, proposed restricting the media’s access to Parliament last year. The government backed down after street protests.
“They have been fake news for a long time,” Trump said of CNN when asked about the tweet, adding that the network had been covering him in “a dishonest way.”
“We don’t want fake news,” he continued, as Duda nodded vigorously in agreement.
Duda, responding to a U.S. reporter’s question about his own actions toward the news media, blamed Polish journalists for intentionally distorting his record and for failing to include his positions in articles critical of his government.
After chastising CNN — a go-to move on both sides of the Atlantic — Trump went after NBC, his former employer. “NBC is nearly as bad, despite the fact that I made them a lot of money on The Apprentice,” he said.
Krasinski Square is considerably smaller than Zamkowy Square, outside the Royal Palace, where President Barack Obama spoke in 2014.
Worried that crowds would not show up on Thursday — Trump is less popular in Poland’s liberal capital than in the conservative countryside — the authorities chose a smaller, though still symbolically rich, site.
Black people with no history of criminal convictions have been three times more likely to be arrested by Toronto police for possession of small amounts of marijuana than white people with similar backgrounds, according to a Toronto Star analysis.
They’ve also been more likely to be detained for bail, the data shows.
The disparity is largely due to targeting of Black people by Toronto police, according to criminologists and defence lawyers interviewed by the Star, who note that surveys show little difference in marijuana use between Black and white people.
Anthony Morgan, a human rights lawyer and community activist, called the statistics “another example of the failed war on drugs.”
As Canada moves toward the legalization of marijuana, the Star examined 10 years’ worth of Toronto Police Service marijuana arrest and charge data, obtained in a freedom-of-information request.
From 2003 to 2013, Toronto police arrested 11,299 people whose skin colour was noted — and who had no prior convictions — for possessing up to 30 grams of marijuana. These individuals were not on parole or probation when arrested.
According to how police recorded skin colour, 25.2 per cent of those people were Black, 52.8 per cent were white, 15.7 per cent were brown, and 6.3 per cent were categorized as “other.”
For Black people, the rate of arrest is significantly higher than their proportion of Toronto’s population in the 2006 census, which is 8.4 per cent. Whites represented 53.1 per cent of people in the city.
“I can’t say I’m surprised by the glaring disproportionality,” says Danardo Jones, director of legal services at the African Canadian Legal Clinic, “but these are just startling numbers.”
The Star matched “brown” and “other” skin colour categories used by police with ethnic backgrounds used by Statistics Canada. That put the city’s “brown” skinned population at 14.7 per cent and those in the “other” category at 23.8 per cent.
Toronto police did not dispute the Star’s analysis but in an email response, the service said it continues to believe the Star’s use of census data for comparison to carding and charge data is “misleading.”
“This is not to suggest that there is not a continued need for education and training on the issue of disparity and fair and impartial policing, of which the TPS is committed,” police said in the email.
The police marijuana data also indicates Black people are more likely to receive different treatment after an arrest — a finding consistent with Star analyses that date back to 2002.
Most of the 11,299 people without prior convictions were released at the scene when caught with small amounts of marijuana. But 15.2 per cent of Black people — the highest rate among the racial groups — were detained for a bail hearing. That compares to only 6.4 per cent of whites.
The data released to the Star does not indicate whether the marijuana charges were accompanied by a second, more serious offence, which can affect how people are released or detained. It’s likely that people held for bail are facing another charge.
In response to Star queries, police said 54 per cent of the marijuana possession arrests in the data involved at least one other criminal charge.
Young people, ages 12 to 18, represent 22 per cent of arrests for possession between 2003 and 2013.
The disparity in police treatment is even greater when it comes to youth with no prior convictions who are 12-18. Among Black kids, the proportion detained for bail remains at 15 per cent. But the rate for white kids falls to 3.2 per cent.
Morgan, a lawyer with Falconers LLP, describes the “over-policing” of Black people as a consequence of racism.
Yet, looking at the proportions of people of all ages released unconditionally — meaning a marijuana offence was noted in a police database but the charge not formally laid — there was little difference by skin colour.
About one in five people arrested were released unconditionally with no charge, say police.
The 2015 Ontario Student Drug Use Survey, conducted by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, found 19 per cent of 1,000 Toronto high school students reported using cannabis at least once in the past year. Of those, 39 per cent were white; 14 per cent Black; and 47 per cent “other” or mixed race. (The Black proportion for ages 12-18 in the 2006 census was 12 per cent.)
“There’s very little evidence to suggest that Black people actually use more drugs,” says Scot Wortley, a University of Toronto criminology professor, whose Toronto Youth Crime Victimization Survey in 2000 showed similar marijuana use for Black and white youth.
If monitoring by law enforcement were equal, you would expect similar charge rates for Black and white people, Wortley adds.
Yet an analysis of all marijuana possession offences noted in the police data from 2003 to 2013 reveals greater disproportionate results.
A third of the 40,635 marijuana charges during that decade — 33.8 per cent — were against Black people. The charges were for possession of no more than 30 grams, and for possession for the purpose of trafficking.
Marijuana possession arrests and offences noted in the data steadily increased during that decade. The trend parallels the police practice of “carding” people not involved in crimes. A 2010 Star investigation found that Black people in Toronto are 3.2 times more likely to be stopped, questioned and documented by police than white people. The ratio remained constant in three subsequent Star examinations of carding data.
“I think the overlap is clear,” Jones, of the African Canadian Legal Clinic, says of the rise in carding and marijuana charges. “If you over-police, or you over-surveil, you are going to find particular kinds of offences kind of shoot up.”
The Star shared its analysis with Toronto police in May and provided an updated version in early June, along with findings it sought comment on. In late June, the service emailed a response that did not address most areas the Star sought comment on.
Aggregate stats for the years after the decade covered in the data, released to the Star by police, show marijuana charges peaked in 2012, at 5,200, and decreased steadily through 2016, when only 2,303 were recorded.
“This (decrease) can be attributed to a number of factors including a decrease in the number of interactions police are having with the community and the reassignment of resources to other (illegal drug) priorities, such as trafficking and other substances,” the service said in the email.
“It is also possible that officers are choosing to exercise their discretion when it comes to arresting individuals for marijuana possession,” it continued. “Generally speaking, more of that can be expected as the TPS uses a diversion program specific to young people who are found to be committing less serious crimes.
“However, as long as the possession of marijuana continues to be illegal, the Service will continue to lay charges as appropriate.”
Criminal defence lawyers and criminologists say it’s no coincidence that marijuana charges increased along with carding stops during the decade covered by the data. The stops often result in searches, and charges if marijuana is found.
The now-disbanded Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy (TAVIS), a police tactical unit set up in 2005, carded Black people more disproportionately than any other police unit. The provincially funded program was deployed in neighbourhoods where recent violence had taken place, and where populations tend to be poorer and more diverse.
“It’s really sad when you realize the effects of TAVIS and what they call pro-active community policing,” says Daniel Brown, a Toronto lawyer who has regularly defended clients on marijuana charges. “What it’s really done is criminalize an entire generation of young Black males, over something that’s now on the verge of being legal.
“What TAVIS taught officers to do is shake down young black males, because if you look hard enough you’re probably going to find something,” he adds.
“They didn’t go into the parks of Forest Hill to shake down the rich white kids. They spent their time in the parks and community centres of the Jane and Finch corridor, and it was like shooting fish in a barrel.”
The data obtained by the Star shows that neighbourhoods with the fewest marijuana charges are typically whiter and wealthier. Kofi Hope argues pot smoking in these places has gained a “quasi legalized” status, with police often saying little more than “put it out.”
“There is not the same interest of police in controlling young people in Rosedale or Forest Hill,” says Hope, executive director of the CEE Centre for Young Black Professionals, which provides skills training and career development programs for young Black people.
Liberal MP Bill Blair, police chief in Toronto during most of the time period covered by the marijuana data, has in his new role as the government’s point person on legalization acknowledged the disparities.
“I think there’s a recognition that the current enforcement disproportionately impacts poor neighbourhoods and racialized communities, and there’s something unjust about that,” Blair was quoted as saying in a 2016 Maclean’s profile. He has also described the disparity as “one of the great injustices in this country.”
The Star provided Blair, parliamentary secretary to the justice minister and attorney general, a copy of the marijuana analysis in early June and asked for an interview. At publication time, he had not responded.
The government has so far released no plans regarding Canadians saddled with criminal records because of marijuana.
High numbers of marijuana charges and high levels of carding generally overlap in the city’s poorer, more diverse neighbourhoods, the Star analysis found. Areas that are wealthier and whiter see lower levels of both.
“One of the things I find most troubling, although not surprising, is that cannabis possession arrests increased in tandem with the practice of carding in Toronto,” says Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, an assistant sociology professor at the University of Toronto with an extensive background in criminology. Like others interviewed for this story, the Star shared with him its analysis.
Carding, he notes, was used as a measure of performance and officers professionally benefited from filling out more contact cards and were encouraged to do so by their superiors.
“As carding was so concentrated among the poor and racialized, they have disproportionately experienced the negative consequences — including criminalization,” says Owusu-Bempah. “So what we have is a situation where police officers benefited personally from the further marginalization of vulnerable Torontonians.”
Between 2003 and 2010, the neighbourhood where Toronto residents were most likely to be arrested for possession was in police patrol zone 144, on the western edge of downtown. (Police reclassified and reshaped some zone boundaries in 2011, including zone 144, making it difficult to examine and compare anything after 2010.)
Police documented at least 580 pot possession offences in the area bordered by King St. W. to the south, Bloor St. W. to the north, Bathurst St. to the west and Spadina Ave. to the east. It is home to Kensington Market, Chinatown, hip Queen St. W. and Alexandra Park, a community that has struggled with drugs and violence.
One of more than 70 police patrol zones in the city, the area is also where police were busy carding people, on average, about 15 times each day, from 2008 to 2013. The Black population is 7 per cent, white 53 per cent in the zone, which attracts a lot of people from other areas.
Alexandra Park, a rent-geared-to-income community for much of its history, is a socially vibrant place where people “live a lot of their lives in the outdoor spaces,” says Bridget Sinclair, director of community services at St. Stephen’s Community House. It also has a history of tension with police.
In late 2009 and into 2010, police kept close watch on a dispute between rival gangs — one based in Alexandra Park, the other in Regent Park. Members of both gangs were “actively involved in drug trafficking, assaults, robberies and firearms-related offences,” according to minutes of a community police liaison committee. The dispute played a role in a 2012 shooting at the Eaton Centre that claimed two lives and injured six.
Police flooded the area with officers, including those from TAVIS.
TAVIS was “very much a part of the neighbourhood in ways that were not positive for many people,” says Sinclair, whose organization provides supports to Alexandra Park residents. “And there were some very big incidents that happened between police and young people during the years that data has been collected.”
Much has changed since then, including a redevelopment project that has displaced many of the subsidized housing residents whose homes were demolished or renovated, and market-priced condos built.
A dramatic growth in marijuana dispensaries in the last two years has attracted partiers from the nearby Entertainment District and ensured a visible police presence. But Sinclair says police are trying to rebuild their relationship with the community.
In June, the provincial government, in conjunction with Toronto police, announced funding for a “pre-charge” diversion program allowing officers discretion in laying charges. Youth would avoid court and a record by working in community-based programs. St. Stephen’s is one of those programs.
The area of the city with the next highest number of pot possession charges between 2003 and 2010 is zone 121, a pocket of the Weston-Mt. Dennis neighbourhood that has, proportionately, the largest Black population in the city at 27 per cent, and where police also carded heavily. Police averaged 22 contact cards per day from 2008 to 2013. It was the highest carded area in 2009 and 2010, with close to 30 contact cards filled out each day. From 2003 to 2010, police recorded 550 pot possession offences in the zone.
In 2012, the Star profiled the neighbourhood that had been plagued by gun homicides and targeted by the TAVIS unit.
The relationship between youth and police was “toxic,” said one youth worker at the time. Mark Saunders, now Toronto’s police chief, had been brought in to run 12 Division, which includes zone 121. Violent crime decreased but tensions ran high, with young people reporting they were routinely stopped. Often, the stops involved searches.
Saunders was working on improving relations.
“I get it when you’re talking about toxic,” Saunders told the Star in 2012. “But I’m getting phone calls from people who are very excited. They're going, ‘Great, when are you coming out into the community?’ ”
By mid-2013, carding had plummeted amid increasing controversy and a rule that required police to issue a carding “receipt.” The practice was suspended Jan. 1, 2015, by Saunders’s then boss, Blair. New provincial carding regulations kicked in this year.
From 2003 to 2013, police noted only 111 marijuana possession charges in patrol zone 325, the lowest number. The north Toronto area includes Hoggs Hollow, home to multimillion-dollar homes, and the Rosedale Golf Club. Nearly 80 per cent of the people who live there are white. Between 2008 and 2013, police carded about four people a day.
The second lowest number of marijuana charges noted — 123 over 10 years — was in zone 533, which includes tony Yorkville and university frat houses. Three-quarters of residents are white. Police carded on average 13 people a day between 2008 and 2013.
Annamaria Enenajor, a Toronto criminal defence lawyer with a focus on civil rights, sees what she describes as policing bias on her walks to her office near University of Toronto student housing.
“I don’t see them doing raids on those frat houses,” she says. “It’s all drunken white boys over there. I walk by and I definitely smell weed.
“It comes from the legacy of racism and the reality of racism,” she adds. “Mistakes by white Canadians are forgivable and mistakes by Black Canadians are deviant and require punishment.”
Morgan says the drug statistics “expose what many in and outside of Black communities have recognized as a war on Blacks.”
He notes that for many Black teens, getting searched for marijuana is their first interaction with authorities. Those charged often can’t afford a lawyer and rarely get the option of settling their charge with a donation to charity, for example.
They instead appear in a courtroom where everyone, from the judge to the administrative clerk, tends to be white. “The sense that ‘the system is out to get me’ ends up having a very visual representation,” Morgan says.
Court appearances get missed and bail conditions broken, often something as minor as breaking curfew by a half-hour. That forces a downward spiral into the justice system followed by more serious charges, and the humiliation and possible job loss that comes with jail time.
A criminal record “further entrenches an underclass status,” Morgan says. “It’s almost like a scarlet letter that they feel they carry around. And it increases the sense of being watched and targeted by systems, a sense that systems are waiting for them to fail.”
The Star obtained Toronto Police Service marijuana possession arrest and charge data for 2003 to 2013 in a freedom-of-information request.
The data includes information about 34,646 arrests of 27,635 individuals, and 40,634 associated offences for simple possession and possession for the purpose of trafficking. Some people were arrested multiple times for marijuana offences over the timeframe examined.
Instead of names, police released randomly generated unique numbers for individuals. Included in the data are gender, age, skin colour, exact charge, the patrol area where the arrest occurred and how people were released. Also included were indicators for whether people had previous convictions, or were on bail, probation or parole at time of arrest.
Police identify people as having one of four skin colours (black, brown, white and other). The Star compared arrest and charge rates by skin colour to Toronto’s population, using Statistics Canada data from the 2006 census. This is far from perfect, since the census data does not have categories for “brown” and “other” in its ethnic and racial breakdown.
As the Star has done numerous times since a groundbreaking 2002 series into race, policing and crime in Toronto, and subsequent examinations of carding data, ethnicities and racial categories were placed into either “brown” or “other” based on clues in the police data, including birth countries where the country was other than Canada.
Associated non-marijuana charges were not included in the data. For example, if an individual was simultaneously charged with simple possession and a firearms offence, the firearms offence is not present in the data requested. An associated, more serious charge can affect how an individual is released, or held for a bail hearing.
Also not included in the data are outcomes for cases that headed to court, which the police do not track.
Data for the year 2013 is incomplete, as the police service switched over to a new records management system late that year. That was the cut-off point for the Star’s request.
The Star shared its findings with police before publication. Police expressed no concerns with the analysis but have historically been critical of the Star for using census data for baseline comparisons. In many such comparisons, it is the only baseline available.
In an emailed response to the Star, the service said it “continues to believe the comparison between the ethnicity of those charged with a crime and the ethnicity breakdown of the city based on census data is misleading.”
The Star has made available by PDF, below, a detailed findings package. To obtain the underlying dataset contact reporter Jim Rankin at email@example.com .
LONDON — Wandering around Paddington at 8 o’clock in the morning, asking if anybody can direct me to the Fellatio Café.
Raised eyebrows and “you must be joking.”
But I’m thinking it doesn’t actually exist, despite the splash of publicity surrounding its promised opening last December. No coverage since then in media databases and surely there would have been, had the “erotic cyborgs” venture allegedly planned for a location on Praed St. actually got off. A clone venue was allegedly planned for Geneva, based on the notorious “b--- job cafes” in Thailand, preferred sex-tour destination for trolling pedophile creeps from around the world.
We’ve had naked restaurants, blackout restaurants — guess the food! — lie-down-in-bed restaurants (not that different from the lounging vomitoriums of ancient Rome), vampire (suck-my-blood) bars, zombie bars, ice block bars, watering holes with skeletons lining the walls, bathhouse taverns and no shortage of swingers ‘n’ swappers saloons, so I suppose there’s nothing inherently wrong with a bob knob café — latte with a hummer instead of dipping cookie. Though many would doubtless consider such an enterprise the end of civilization as we know it.
“What could be better than meet your friends around a café and to enjoy a nice b--- job from a sex robot,” the Fellatio Café founder told the Sun last summer, adding he intended to charge 60 pounds for a coffee and oral.
More likely the businessman was just another huckster wanker.
The robot sex angle, however, is quite real — 2.0 version of inflatable sex dolls. Actually 3.0 because the air-pumped companions have since been overtaken by bendy-fleshy renditions. In fact, there are at least four manufacturers now exporting “lifelike” beta sex robots (both genders) around the world, purportedly not merely catering to fetishists but, at least as envisioned by industry defenders, as intimacy partners for sexual therapy and companions for the lonely, disabled, elderly and, let’s be frank, strikeout pimply nerds. Which has triggered a whole new debate about whither the “relationship” between robots and humans, insofar as robots — machines — are capable of having a relationship.
“Robots do not and cannot have emotions,” stresses Aimee van Wynsberghe, who has a PhD in ethics and technology, hails from London, Ont., is an assistant professor in The Hague and, this week, presented with two co-authors a report in London (U.K) entitled: Our Sexual Future with Robots.
The consultation report, prepared by the Foundation for Responsible Robotics (FRR), raised and addresses seven areas of discussion which the authors say will need to be resolved in the near future — within five to 10 years.
1. Would people have sex with a robot? (Yes, according to surveys.)
2. What kind of relationship can we have with a robot? (Humans are the masters, so whatever they wish.)
3. Will robot sex workers and bordellos be acceptable? (Doll bordellos are already popular in Japan and one has recently opened in Barcelona.)
4. Will sex robots change society perceptions of gender? (Gender and sexual stereotypes are driving the current market, with manufacturers hugely favouring the “ideal” female replicant. And these “females” — although machines have no gender, strictly speaking — don’t make any demands, like post-coital snuggling.
5. Could sexual intimacy with robots lead to greater social isolation? (Probably. There are already countless social misfits who don’t come out of the basement.)
6. Could robots help with sexual healing and therapy? (Why not?)
7. Would sex robots help to reduce sex crime? (Anybody’s guess, but an incendiary issue. In the U.K. a man was last month convicted of importing an obscene item — a sex doll in the image of a child — with child porn later found at his house. In Newfoundland, a similar bewildering case is still before the courts; a man charged with possessing child pornography for having an unassembled child sex doll shipped from Japan.)
Robots and androids aren’t the stuff of Blade Runner science fiction anymore, moving rapidly from, say, the surgical world (known as a master-slave setup, where surgeons sitting at a console manipulate robots through medical procedures), to the everyday domestic world and the minefield of sexual interplay.
“The advantage of a robot over a doll is that the doll doesn’t talk back to you,” van Wynsberghe told the Star, pointing out that sex robots can already be programmed with “functionalities” that extend the fallacy of a “reciprocal relationship” — data fed about likes and dislikes, virtual reality apps tapered towards a person who might like to be touched, “maybe someone likes to be touched rough,” and spatial recognition algorithms. More advanced sex robots should be able to process information from a simple conversation and adjust — give you what you want. At this point, those wants and desires are more physiological in nature, with the purchaser, the human, checking off preference boxes — a fetishist can request, for instance, elf ears, hair colour, pubic hair thickness. There are sex-bots that can transition from flaccid to erect penis. “Fellatio heads if you don’t have enough money for the whole robot,” says van Wynsberghe.
And one would have to position the robot to get it on.
What about the emotional stability of the human half of the equation — or threesome, because that’s apparently an oft-cited use for sex robots? “Where do we want to go with this technology?” asks van Wynsberghe, in contemplating the next stage, where robots can Hoover in passive information — like noting its human’s accelerating heartbeat when the person is talking about, oh, S & M. Translated to, oh, that’s what you like.
Attachment to a compliant machine — sheesh, just look at teenagers with their smartphones — could mutate into a person “falling in love” with a robot, says van Wynsberghe. “You think it’s interacting with you, that the feels are reciprocal. But robots don’t have feelings.”
Not yet, anyway.
Especially worrisome to ethicists and sociologists is that, just as the internet has turned into a porn paradise, so too will sex-bots promote the sexist attitudes and the commodification of female body parts to robotic orifices. “There’s a very specific image of what you should look like,” says van Wynsberghe, describing the sex robots already on the market. “It seems clear they’re reinforcing those cultural norms. At this point, the sex robot industry is being led by the pornographic (industry).
“But maybe that will change. Maybe we’ll see robots that are more normally human looking — robots with cellulite, robots with a chubby belly like a woman who’s given birth a couple of times.”
OK, now we’re really talking science fiction.
Rosie DiManno usually appears Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
Rosie DiManno usually appears Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
Bob and Steve Dengler’s 39,000-kilometre trip begins in true Canadian fashion with terrible weather, Guy Lafleur and remote landscapes.
The Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) expects the lull that has fallen over the housing market since April will continue with single-digit year-over-year price increases for the duration of 2017.
The board issued a revised annual forecast on Thursday along with month-end statistics showing that the average selling price in the Toronto region was 6.3 per cent higher in June year-over-year, even though the market experienced another month-to-month drop.
The average price of a home in June was $793,915, about 8 per cent or roughly $70,000 lower than the May average.
The number of transactions also fell again last month — 37 per cent year-over-year and 22 per cent below the average June for the past decade.
Listings were up about 16 per cent, but that was far less dramatic than the 49 per cent surge in re-sales homes that hit the market in May.
TREB is now calling for an annual price gain of 13 to 18 per cent this year compared to last.
It has lowered the number of home sales it expects in 2017 to between 89,000 and 100,000 transactions, after forecasting 104,500 and 115,500 at the start of the year.
The revised forecast takes into account the double-digit increases of the first part of the year that peaked at 33 per cent in March, and also the likelihood that the Bank of Canada will raise lending rates, as early as next week.
TREB’s May consumer research shows the number of potential buyers has gone up since November, but the proportion of first-time buyers likely to enter the market has fallen, said Jason Mercer, director of market analysis.
Where prices and sales land within the forecast range depends on whether buyers, who have stepped back from purchasing since the province introduced its foreign buyers tax in April, are ready to get back into the market. It will also depend on how many re-sale homes come on the market, he said.
Vancouver experienced a similar lull after it launched a 15 per cent foreign buyers tax last year, said Mercer.
“You’re starting to see people moving back in (Vancouver) because, if you’re not a foreign buyer, you’re not really affected by this move except psychologically,” he said.
But one realtor thinks TREB’s forecast could be optimistic. John Pasalis of Realosophy, who tracks Toronto region sales weekly, says it’s possible that prices will actually be lower year over year by the end of 2017.
Although most buyers aren’t affected by the province’s new Fair Housing policies, the psychological effect of the climbing cost of housing runs deeper.
“It’s like the market is saying, ‘This was stupid what happened in the first quarter.’ We look at the 33 per cent and it’s insane. But that’s an average. A lot of areas in York region were actually up 50 per cent,” he said.
“People saw that and it freaked them out,” said Pasalis.
“If prices had gone up 5 per cent rather than 33 per cent, we wouldn’t be here right now.”
Pasalis thinks some of the decline is due to an exodus of local property investors — buyers who bought second homes by leveraging their principle residence. Many have taken a loss on rent, thinking they would make it up by selling in the overheated market. But with a second consecutive month-to-month price slide, the numbers just keep looking worse, he said.
Although detached homes are taking longer to sell, given that buyers have so many more choices, Steven Green of Royal LePage Partners Realty says he still sees multiple offers on homes in desirable locations.
TREB reported the biggest declines in home sales were higher-priced detached houses, where the number of transactions was down 45 per cent year over year in June. The smallest decline in the number of sales was in condos, which dropped 23.4 per cent.
“The condo market is still very hot because people can’t afford houses,” said Green, who has been selling property for 30 years.
He expects an interest rate hike will actually spur more buyers back in the market.
“When the bank rate goes up, people like to jump in. If they’ve been looking for a house and they were in multiple offers in February, March, April and never got a house, now they have twice as many homes but the rates are going up — they want to jump in now. They’re getting a better deal on a house now too,” he said.
An RBC Economics bulletin on Thursday said the June numbers show how quickly housing market psychology can change. RBC said it expects a soft, rather than a hard landing, from Ontario’s new housing policies.
“While there’s a risk that a negative feedback loop for prices might be triggered by the current market correction, we believe that is remote at this point,” said the statement.
TREB’s benchmark index still showed a 25.3 per cent year-over-year price gain in June despite a 1.3 per cent decline between May and June. The index showed that condo prices rose 1 per cent.
The benchmark is considered a more accurate measure of home prices because it compares homes of similar size, location and age and isn’t as skewed by gains or losses in one or more particular categories.
Gary Sim was a tireless defender of cyclists in Toronto.
The 70-year-old had deftly mastered Twitter, tweeting about everything from snow in bike lanes to street safety.
But last week the husband, father and grandfather of six was hit by a driver while riding his bike just minutes from home. He died of his injuries Sunday.
It was his family who decided to send one final Twitter message to his followers and the cycling community he loved.
Daughter Heather Sim said her father was a very experienced cyclist who'd biked across Germany and had just returned from a cycling trip in Fort Erie.
“I didn't want this to go by without people knowing what happened,” she said, explaining the family's decision to send the tweet.
Const. Clint Stibbe said Wednesday that the investigation into Sim's death is ongoing and no charges have been laid against the driver.
Sim is the second cyclist killed on Toronto's roads this year. The first was five-year-old Xavier Morgan, who was hit after he fell into traffic while riding on the Martin Goodman Trail in late May.
Sim was born and raised in Toronto, near where he was hit at Jane Street and Alliance Avenue. He was a retired chartered accountant and loved playing guitar at The Jam, a North York club for musicians, said his daughter.
“Music and biking were two very, very important things to him that defined him,” said Heather, adding her dad cycled every day, was “extremely healthy” and could have easily lived another 15-20 years.
“It was very senseless, and he lost his life, and we lost him,” she said.
A police media release from earlier this week did not name Sim but said a 70-year-old man was riding his bike westbound on the north sidewalk of Alliance Avenue approaching Jane Street. He was struck by a male driver in a 2012 Ford van attempting to make a right turn into a driveway on Jane.
Jared Kolb, executive director of advocacy group Cycle Toronto, said he met Sim though the biking community.
“These circumstances are tragic and they have an impact far beyond the individual that's killed and the person who's involved,” he said.
“It ripples across families and shatters lives. It's devastating.”
Heather did not want to comment on the investigation but said her father would have wanted to get out the message that drivers need to share the road.
He'd been threatened, run off the road and even physically assaulted by drivers, she added.
“The vehicle's always going to win,” she said. “That's something that we'd like to get across because that's something he was an advocate for.
“He was an advocate for it and it ended up killing him.”
York Regional Police are now seeking a second suspect in an explosion that blew out the wall of a Vaughan café last week.
The first suspect was arrested at the scene on June 29 shortly after the early morning blast at Café Corretto, near Hwy. 7 and Weston Rd.
A man suffering from non-life-threatening injuries was spotted nearby and taken to hospital before being charged with arson and public mischief.
Juan Eduardo Munoz, 33, of Toronto, remains in hospital and made his first court appearance via video hookup on Wednesday.
He is scheduled to appear Friday via video for another court date.
Investigators haven’t released a description of the second suspect.
They are appealing to the public for anyone with video of the area around the plaza at the time of the explosion.
Debris from the blast sprayed bricks and pieces of gambling machines onto the neighbouring parking lot.
The Corretto was one of 11 cafés in Toronto and York Region where investigators found 74 illegal gaming machines in January 2016, during multi-police force sweep known as Project Oeider.
The Ontario Medical Association has announced that it wants to appeal a court ruling that would make the names of the province’s top-billing doctors public.
The organization, which represents Ontario’s 43,000 working doctors, residents, students and retirees, issued a communiqué Thursday morning stating that it plans to file a motion with the Ontario Court of Appeal, seeking leave to appeal.
A week ago, a three-judge panel of the province’s Divisional Court dismissed an application from the doctors to quash an order made by the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario (IPC) to release of the names.
The justices said that it was reasonable for the IPC to conclude that the names of the doctors in question — along with annual payments from OHIP and medical specialties — were professional information and therefore not exempt from disclosure under the province’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
The IPC decision, issued last year, departed from previous IPC orders, which found that the names of doctors are personal and therefore exempt from disclosure.
The OMA’s board of directors met Wednesday evening to decide on next steps.
“The board continues to strongly disagree with the IPC adjudicator’s ruling that physician payment information is not personal information protected from disclosure. The board overwhelmingly decided that we must stand our ground and exhaust every possible avenue to fight for our members on this matter,” the communiqué states.
Billing information does not reflect the actual earnings of doctors and “provides no useful information regarding the health care system,” it continues.
This case originated more than three years ago with a freedom of information request made by the Star for physician-identified data on the top 100 billers to the Ontario Health Insurance Plan. The Star requested the most current data available, going back five years — 2008-09 to 2012-13.
The ministry granted partial access — payments and most medical specialties — but withheld physician names, deeming that their release would be an unjustified invasion of privacy.
The data provided showed that the top 100 billers were paid a combined $191 million in 2012-13. The highest biller alone received payments of 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.
Other jurisdictions already make this information public, including British Columbia, Manitoba and the United States. New Brunswick started going public with the data last month. P.E.I. and Newfoundland have also taken steps to do so.
Ontario already makes public how much it pays to salaried doctors who work in the public sector, for example hospitals, in its annual Sunshine List of civil servants earning more than $100,000.
The Star successfully appealed the ministry’s decision to withhold names to the IPC. Doctors then sought a judicial review of the IPC’s order at Divisional Court.
Star lawyer Iris Fisher said last week’s Divisional Court ruling was a strong one that confirms that doctors “should be treated like everyone else who gets paid from the public purse.”
She said payments to doctors comprise a huge government expenditure, which needs to be transparent.
“Now we have both the IPC and the Divisional Court affirming the public’s right to know how much government spends and on what. There is no basis for overturning two levels of decisions and I think the OMA will have a tall hurdle to clear to convince the Court of Appeal to hear the case,” Fischer said.
A subsequent appeal to the IPC by the Star, for the release of payment data on all doctors in the province, was put on hold by the commissioner’s office, pending the outcome of the judicial review.
In its statement to members, the OMA said: “Legal counsel advises that given the court’s determination that OHIP billings are not personal information, if our appeal is unsuccessful all physician billings will be released.”
It goes on to say that the OMA will continue to “develop strategies for dealing with subsequent releases of information in the future.”
Veteran city councillor and social justice advocate Pam McConnell is “gravely ill,” Mayor John Tory said Thursday afternoon.
“She is getting the very best care from the very best people we have in Canada,” said Tory, who’s spoken with the hospital where McConnell is being treated.
“She is a fighter and we’re all going to be rooting for her, as I’m sure will be many, many people whose lives she’s touched over decades of service to the city of Toronto.”
McConnell, 71, is married with two children and four grandchildren. She has been suffering from an ongoing lung issue, her constituency assistant said, noting it is not cancer.
Tory, who said he’s “very fond” of McConnell, named the long-time councillor a deputy mayor and appointed her to lead the development of the city’s poverty reduction strategy.
“Pam McConnell is a person that I have grown to respect immensely in my time here,” he said.
Following Tory’s comments a number of people tweeted words of support. Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam said McConnell is a “dear friend (and) mentor. She’s tough and giving this fight all she has.”
Phil Pothen, an environmental and planning lawyer, tweeted that McConnell is a “tremendous force of good on (city council).”
McConnell, who represents Ward 28, Toronto Centre-Rosedale, was first elected to city council in 1994, after serving for 12 years as a school trustee.
She has been an advocate for social justice issues throughout her political career — leading the way for the city’s poverty reduction strategy in her seventh term on council.
“Poverty is everybody's business,” McConnell told the Star in 2015 after the strategy was released.
“The survival and prosperity of Toronto demands that we pay attention to moving as many Torontonians as possible down the road from poverty to prosperity,” she said.
McConnell’s fight for poverty reduction is decades-long. Back in her days as a school trustee she helped found Parents for Better Beginnings in Regent Park, an early childhood learning programs that continues to serve families today, alongside numerous other initiatives.
While youth poverty and education issues have been a considerable focus of her career — McConnell has advocated for better education at all ages as well.
In 1985 she and school trustee colleagues Doug Little and Beare Weatherup, proposed a task force to address low adult literacy in the city.
That year the city committed $1.3 million to address the issue, becoming the first city in the country to develop an adult literacy policy.
Tory said McConnell’s family has welcomed messages of good will, saying the councillor would find them “uplifting.”
Those messages can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org .
“She’ll be fighting this as hard as she possibly can and so I hope that the people of Toronto will join me in sending their thoughts and prayers to her and to her family,” Tory said.
With files from Laurie Monsebraaten and Toronto Star file.
Those epic escalators at the Scotiabank Theatre are out of service yet again — but Cineplex maintains they’ll be up and running in time for TIFF in September.
The escalators broke down during last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, giving visitors an unwelcome burst of cardio as they climbed 75 steps to catch a screening. Local and visiting media made the issue a cause célèbre, at times attracting more social media attention than the celebrities or movies themselves.
Why the constant breakdowns? It’s partly due to age but also because the original design was poorly considered.
“The escalators at Scotiabank Theatre Toronto are now nearly 20 years old and we are in the process of replacing them,” explains Sarah Van Lange, director of communication at Cineplex.
“The escalators at the theatre were state-of-the-art 20 years ago when the theatre was built, but unfortunately the design of them was such that its mechanics could never really support the length of the escalator itself.”
According to Van Lange, when the theatre was originally built, the owners wanted to make a grand entrance. Two standard escalators were basically jury-rigged together to form one extra-long escalator, rather than separating them with a landing. That means a landing cannot now be accommodated into the design.
The work is being handled in phases — with a new down escalator running by the end of August — although both directions were out of commission this week.
“Though it may look as though we are replacing both escalators at the same time, that is not the case,” Van Lange said. “Unfortunately, the ‘up’ escalator remained in service until last week, and we are doing everything we can to have it repaired as soon as possible.”
She confirmed that all should be well by September, though replacement of the escalators won’t be completed until next spring.
“The ‘up’ and the ‘down’ escalators will both be running for TIFF, with the replacement of the ‘up’ escalator scheduled for after the festival.”
Van Lange stresses that the new escalators will be specifically designed for the four-storey height, and will also take advances in technology since the first set were originally built. The company apologizes for any inconvenience and reminds that there is an elevator just to the right of the escalators.
Of course, you could also just take the stairs and use the calorie burn as justification for a larger-sized popcorn.
City council gave the green light to a pilot project aimed at improving streetcar service on King St., but under pressure from the taxi industry, councillors agreed to alter the plan and exempt cabs from the project’s traffic restrictions at certain times of night.
After a four-hour debate, council voted 35 to 4 on Thursday to go ahead with the pilot project on a 2.6-kilometre stretch of King, between Bathurst and Jarvis Streets.
The pilot will be implemented this fall.
It will last for at least one year. During that time, there will be no through-traffic allowed for private motor vehicles on King. Instead, cars will be forced to turn right at the end of major blocks. Left turns will also be prohibited.
The traffic reconfiguration and modifications to the street are expected to make service on the 504 King streetcar more efficient. The line carries 65,000 people every day and is the TTC’s busiest surface route.
But in a last-minute amendment seen as a compromise aimed at winning over the pilot’s council critics, Mayor John Tory moved to exempt taxis from the prohibition on through-traffic between the hours of 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. The motion passed 38 to 1.
“There’s no question in my mind, and, I think, many of the minds in this room, that the cab industry does represent an important part of the overall transportation system to get people around, especially at that time of night in that part of town,” said Tory in a speech to council.
Tory said his motion, which also instructed staff to double the number of planned taxi stands, would improve the pilot, which he praised as “something that a 21st Century city must do to move people effectively and to protect the livability and the economy of the city.”
The exemption will only apply to licensed cabs. Uber and other ride-sharing services will have to follow the rules.
The amendment came despite the objections of TTC CEO Andy Byford and a report from city transportation staff that recommended against giving taxis special consideration.
Byford told councillors that King, which crosses through the heart of the downtown entertainment district, is busy even into the small hours of the morning. “Which is why we’re saying, from a TTC perspective, don’t water this down. Let’s keep the pressure on, because the streetcars still struggle to get through even late at night,” he said.
A report from transportation staff published on Wednesday warned that exempting taxis from the rules might “undermine the transit-first objective of the pilot project.”
The report recommended against an overnight exemption, noting that average speeds for streetcars between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. are between 4.6 and 6.8 km/hr. It said that while giving special consideration to cabs could help disperse nightlife crowds on King, it could “add complexity” to the project and potentially confuse other drivers, “resulting in reduced compliance” with the pilot rules.
Asked whether the watered-down version of the pilot could truly be considered a bold move to improve transit, Councillor Joe Cressy, a vocal supporter of the project that will run through his ward, replied that if the taxi exemption didn’t work, council can re-evaluate it.
“It’s radical incrementalism, as we do it in Toronto,” said Cressy (Ward 20 Trinity-Spadina).
Sam Moini, President, Toronto Fleet Operators Association, said the taxi industry was hoping for a 24-hour exemption, “but you’ve got to get what you can get.”
“The council did recognize that we’re an integral part of the transit system, especially in the evening,” he said.
The city revealed the proposed details of the $1.5-million pilot project in May, the latest in a series of efforts to unclog one of downtown’s major thoroughfares.
According to city reports the 504 King streetcar is so impeded by traffic that its service is “slow, unreliable, and erratic,” and walking is often faster. Currently private cars take up most of the space on the street, but carry only 20,000 people a day, less than a third of the ridership of the streetcar line.
In addition to the turning restrictions, during the pilot, King St. will be reduced from two lanes in each direction to one, with the curb lane reserved for streetcar boarding zones, public space, and areas for loading, deliveries, and taxis.
MONTREAL—A Sunwing Airlines flight bound for Cuba had to return to Montreal’s Trudeau International Airport on Thursday evening under a fighter jet escort due to an “unruly customer.”
An airline spokeswoman said flight WG604 had departed for Cayo Coco but turned around due to the passenger making “non-specific threats.”
“The flight arrived back around 7:25 p.m. and the disruptive customer was taken into police custody,” said Rachel Goldrick in an email to The Canadian Press.
The passenger’s name was not released, nor was the specific nature of the threats.
NORAD spokesman Lt. Commander Joe Nawrocki said a pair of U.S. Air Force F-15 jets were dispatched from Barnes Air National Guard Base in Massachusetts and intercepted the aircraft near Albany, N.Y.
Canadian CF18s were also reportedly scrambled but did not take part in the operation.
Goldrick said it would early Friday before the 170 passengers would be able to board the next flight to Cayo Coco.
“Unfortunately the next viable departure slot to operate into Cayo Coco is 4:30 a.m.,” she said.
“Sunwing has provided affected customers with accommodations and meal vouchers and is very apologetic for the inconvenience.”
This was the second such incident involving a North American flight on Thursday night.
Officials say a Delta Airlines flight bound for Beijing returned to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport after a passenger assaulted a flight attendant.
Airport spokesman Perry Cooper says a man in first class assaulted a flight attendant about 45 minutes into the flight and that passengers then helped restrain the man until the plane landed back in Seattle.
Officials say two people, including the flight attendant, were injured and taken to a hospital.
With files from The Associated Press
HAMBURG—With broad grins and a warm handshake, U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin warmed up for their historic encounter on Friday under the shadow of U.S. outrage about Russian election-meddling and nagging questions about potential Trump campaign collusion.
Ahead of a formal, sit-down meeting, Trump and Putin were seen exchanging pleasantries as a leaders’ retreat got under way in Hamburg. A brief video clip showed Trump outstretching his hand to Putin as officials gathered around a table, then patting Putin’s elbow as both men smiled. In another clip, Trump casually patted Putin on the back as they stood side by side.
Video of the brief exchange was posted to Facebook by the German Cabinet. It was the first known in-person interaction between the two men, who have spoken by telephone since Trump was inaugurated in January.
The two leaders planned later Friday to hold longer talks on Syria and other issues on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit of industrialized and developing nations. The White House said it has scheduled 35 minutes for the meeting.
“Much to discuss,” Trump tweeted in advance of the encounter.
The heavily anticipated meeting is being closely scrutinized for signs of how friendly a rapport Trump and Putin will have. Trump’s predecessor, President Barack Obama, had notoriously strained ties to Putin, and Trump has expressed an interest in a better U.S.-Russia relationship. But deep skepticism about Russia in the U.S. and ongoing investigations into whether Trump’s campaign co-ordinated with Moscow during last year’s election have made a U.S.-Russia detente politically risky for Trump.
As leaders gathered at a summit hall in Hamburg for a group photo, Trump and Putin stood on opposite sides of the tableau. Putin chatted casually with German Chancellor Angela Merkel before taking his spot for the photo next to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. After the cameras snapped away, Merkel, in the centre, dismissed the group with a firm nod of the head.
Outside the summit site, anti-globalization protesters were causing problems for first lady Melania Trump, who was kept from joining other leaders’ spouses for their own program of events. Mrs. Trump’s office said that because of the protests, local police hadn’t cleared her to leave the government guest house where she and Trump were staying. Demonstrators set dozens of cars ablaze a day earlier.
In the lead-up to the meeting, Trump used a speech in Warsaw on Thursday to voice a list of grievances about Russia. He urged Putin’s government to “cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere and its support for hostile regimes — including Syria and Iran — and to instead join the community of responsible nations in our fight against common enemies and in defence of civilization itself.”
But much of the focus — both in Washington and Moscow — will be on whether Trump broaches the issue of Russia’s meddling in the election. Putin, a former Russian intelligence agent, is known to come to high-profile meetings like this well-prepared.
In a news conference before he flew to Germany, Trump again refused to unequivocally accept the conclusion by multiple U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia interfered to try to help Trump win last November. Trump said it could have been Russia, but that other countries could have meddled, too.
“Nobody really knows for sure,” Trump said.
Trump, who likes to have neatly packaged achievements to pair with high-profile meetings, may seek some concessions from Russia to show he’s delivering progress and helping restore a once-productive relationship that he recently described as being at an “all-time low.” Putin would almost certainly want something in return.
The list of issues ranges from Syria to Iran to Ukraine, and now North Korea, following Pyongyang’s test this week of a missile capable of striking the U.S.
Russia wants the U.S. to return two compounds in New York and Maryland that were shuttered by the Obama administration as punishment for election meddling. It also wants the U.S. to ease Ukraine-related sanctions. The U.S. seeks a resumption of adoptions of Russian children by American parents, an end to harassment of U.S. diplomats and other measures.
In Washington, Trump is under intense pressure from both parties to confront Putin directly over the election interference. Several senior Democratic U.S. senators served notice in a letter Thursday that Trump would be in “severe dereliction” of his presidential duty if he fails to make clear that Russia’s interference in U.S. democracy will not be tolerated.
“The upcoming elections cannot be a playground for President Putin,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and others, including the top Democrats on the Intelligence, Armed Services, and Foreign Relations committees.
And Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican and House Foreign Affairs Committee member, said this week that he will “raise holy hell” if Trump goes soft on Putin.
With emotions running so high, every detail of the Trump-Putin meeting will be parsed for deeper meaning, from their facial expressions to how they shake hands.
“The big thing to watch will be what Putin asks for and what he offers in return and whether there’s a sense of receptivity on the president’s part,” said Derek Chollet, a former Pentagon and State Department official now at the Washington-based German Marshall Fund.
The Trump-Putin tete-a-tete was the highest profile meeting that Trump was holding while at his first G20 summit, where was also meeting Friday with President Enrique Pena Nieto of Mexico, another nation with a rocky relationship with Trump’s young administration.
Pena Nieto had been scheduled to visit the White House shortly after Trump took office, but scrapped the trip at the last minute to protest Trump’s insistence that Mexico pay for the border wall he has vowed to build to deter illegal immigration. Pena Nieto insists Mexico won’t pay, and Trump has been vague about how he’ll force the U.S. neighbour to cover the costs. Another issue is the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Trump has vowed to renegotiate.
The Putin meeting comes midway through a hectic, four-day European visit for Trump, who addressed thousands of Poles in an outdoor speech in Warsaw, Poland, on Thursday. He met in Germany with Chancellor Angela Merkel, the summit host, and had dinner with two Asian allies — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in — to discuss North Korea’s aggression.
The Group of 20 gathering of wealthy and developing nations is the first since Trump announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, deeply disappointing Merkel and other U.S. allies who had hoped to maintain momentum in battling climate change. Undeterred, European leaders have vowed to press forward.
OTTAWA—The Canadian labour market beat expectations yet again last month by adding 45,300 positions, Statistics Canada said Friday.
The vast majority of the new jobs in June were in part-time work, although the number of full-time positions also rose.
The fresh data nudged the national unemployment rate down to 6.5 per cent from 6.6 per cent the previous month.
A consensus of economists had expected an increase of 10,000 jobs in June and for the unemployment rate to stay at 6.6 per cent, according to Thomson Reuters.
The June increase adds to a series of positive job-market gains over the last year and comes amid widespread speculation that the Bank of Canada will hike its benchmark interest rate of 0.5 per cent next week. Central bank governor Stephen Poloz has made increasingly positive statements about the state of the economy in recent weeks.
“We had held on to our October forecast for a Bank of Canada rate hike, but concede that’s likely to end up off the mark, as today’s jobs numbers cement the case for the central bankers to raise rates in the coming week,” said Avery Shenfeld of CIBC Economics in a note to clients.
“In sum, the jobs market is tightening, and not that far from what historically has been judged as full employment. Over to you, governor Poloz.”
Months of stronger-than-expected employment numbers have helped fuel rising expectations the central bank is on the verge of lifting rates.
In recent weeks, a shift by senior Bank of Canada officials towards more “hawkish” public remarks has also suggested the bank is moving closer to its first rate increase in nearly seven years.
Last month, Poloz said his two 2015 rate cuts had done their jobs of helping the economy counteract the effects of the oil-price slump, which began in late 2014. He also said the reductions helped accelerate the economy’s adjustment.
The Bank of Canada’s rate announcement is set for next Wednesday.
Compared to a year earlier, Statistics Canada said Friday that 350,800 more people were employed last month and that 248,200 of those new jobs were full-time positions.
Quebec and British Columbia saw the biggest employment gains among the provinces in June. Quebec gained 28,300 jobs and its unemployment rate held at six per cent — its lowest level on record since 1976.
Alberta, which has been hit hard by the collapse in oil prices, added 7,500 positions last month and its jobless rate dropped to 7.4 per cent from 7.8 per cent the previous month.
Across the country, both the goods-producing and services sectors saw employment gains. The goods sector added 16,000 jobs, mostly in agriculture, while the services sector added 29,200 positions, thanks to a large employment boost in professional, scientific and technical services.
Hourly wages for all employees grew 1.3 per cent year-over-year in June, matching the same increase reported for May, the agency said. The number of hours worked last month increased 1.4 per cent, up from a 0.7 per cent gain in May, it added.