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    Two weeks after Donald Trump clinched the Republican presidential nomination last year, his eldest son arranged a meeting at Trump Tower in Manhattan with a Russian lawyer who has connections to the Kremlin, according to confidential government records described to The New York Times.

    The previously undisclosed meeting was also attended by Trump’s campaign chairman at the time, Paul Manafort, as well as the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, according to interviews and the documents, which were outlined by people familiar with them.

    While Trump has been dogged by revelations of undisclosed meetings between his associates and Russians, this episode at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016, is the first confirmed private meeting between a Russian national and members of Trump’s inner circle during the campaign. It is also the first time that his son Donald Trump Jr. is known to have been involved in such a meeting.

    Representatives of Trump Jr. and Kushner confirmed the meeting after the Times approached them with information about it. In a statement, Trump Jr. described the meeting as primarily about an adoption program.

    The Russian lawyer invited to the Trump Tower meeting, Natalia Veselnitskaya, is best known for mounting a multipronged attack against the Magnitsky Act, a U.S. law that blacklists suspected Russian human rights abusers. The law so enraged Putin that he retaliated by halting American adoptions of Russian children.

    The adoption impasse is a frequently used talking point for opponents of the Magnitsky Act. Veselnitskaya’s campaign against the law has also included attempts to discredit its namesake, Sergei L. Magnitsky, a lawyer and auditor who died under mysterious circumstances in a Russian prison in 2009 after exposing one of the biggest corruption scandals during Putin’s rule.

    Veselnitskaya was formerly married to a former deputy transportation minister of the Moscow region, and her clients include state-owned businesses and a senior government official’s son, whose company was under investigation in the United States at the time of the meeting. Her activities and associations had previously drawn the attention of the FBI, according to a former senior law enforcement official.

    In his statement, Trump Jr. said: “It was a short introductory meeting. I asked Jared and Paul to stop by. We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government, but it was not a campaign issue at the time and there was no follow up.”

    Late Saturday, Mark Corallo, a spokesperson for the president’s lawyer, issued a statement implying that the meeting was a setup. Veselnitskaya and the translator who accompanied her to the meeting “misrepresented who they were,” it said.

    Veselnitskaya said the meeting lasted about 30 minutes and focused on the Magnitsky Act and the adoption issue. “Nothing at all was discussed about the presidential campaign,” she said.

    The Trump Tower meeting was not disclosed to government officials until recently, when Kushner, who is also a senior White House aide, filed a revised version of a form required to obtain a security clearance.

    Manafort, the former campaign chairman, also recently disclosed the meeting to congressional investigators who had questions about his foreign contacts, according to people familiar with the events.

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    A dozen teenagers who have already reached unprecedented heights have one more global goal in sight.

    Canada’s under-19 men’s team rode the delightful talents of its youngest member to a 99-87 history-making win over the United States on Saturday in Egypt to advance to the gold-medal game of the world championships on Sunday afternoon.

    Mississauga’s R.J. Barrett, at 17 the youngest player on the roster, scored 38 points to lead Canada to the win that ensures the country its best-ever finish at a FIBA-sanctioned global event.

    The best finishes ever for Canada at a world championship were a trio of bronze medals: the women’s world championships in 1979 and 1986 and at the 2010 men’s under-17 worlds. Canadian men won the silver medal at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, the only Canadian team to ever mount an Olympic podium.

    This Canadian under-19 team — playing without concussed guard Lindell Wigginton of Dartmouth, N.S., who had emerged as one of the team’s best players through its first four games —faces Italy in Sunday’s gold medal game.

    “What an incredible moment for Canadian basketball,” head coach Roy Rana of Ryerson University told reporters in Cairo after the game.

    Before the team left for Egypt, Rana told reporters that his goals were to reach the elimination round and take their chances in one-and-done in games. The national team is missing a few players who declined to play for a variety of reasons — chief among them is Kentucky-bound guard Shay Alexander of Hamilton who decided getting set for his freshman university season was more important — but the squad had coalesced into a unit that has exceeded expectations.

    Barrett, especially, has been transcendent.

    The son of former national team standout Rowan Barrett, the 6-7 swingman has shone despite playing against opponents who for the most part are two years older than he is.

    His 38 points in the semifinal were the most by any player in the tournament and he made 10 of 18 field goal attempts and was 12-for-15 from the free throw line.

    Abu Kigab of St. Catharines, Ont., had 14 points for the Canadians while Nate Darling of Lower Sackville, N.S., added 13 points and Grant Shephard of Kelowna, B.C., scored 12 points.

    “Now we’ve got to move on and get ready to play for — as unbelievable as it sounds — a world championship,” Rana said in a Canada Basketball release.

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    Masai Ujiri has pulled off some financial magic to give himself some wiggle room to keep altering the makeup of the Raptors.

    The team’s president will deal DeMarre Carroll and the $30 million (U.S.) left on his contract, a first- and second-round pick in the 2018 NBA draft to the Brooklyn Nets for the much-cheaper Justin Hamilton. League sources confirmed the deal first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

    The deal can’t become official until after the Nets are out from under an offer sheet they presented to Washington’s Otto Porter. Once the Wizards match the offer and sign Porter, expected to be about mid-week, the Toronto-Brooklyn deal can be made official.

    Once it is, the Raptors will have shed the $15 million they owe Carroll for each of the next two seasons and acquire the 7-foot Hamilton, who has once season left worth $3 million.

    That difference will get Toronto much closer to the NBA’s tax threshold; getting under that payroll level will give the Raptors access to what’s known as the mid-level cap exception of about $8.4 million to sign additional players. Staying above the tax threshold cuts that available exception to about $ 5.2 million.

    The Carroll-Hamilton move also creates a roster logjam Ujiri will have to address.

    Hamilton is a centre and Toronto already has a surplus of big men; Carroll departure and the loss of P.J. Tucker means the Raptors have a gigantic hole at small forward that has to be addressed.

    Carroll spent two injury-plagued seasons in Toronto after signing a four-year, $60-million free agent contract in 2015. He averaged 8.9 points and 3.6 rebounds in 72 games last season.

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    Trouble With Talking

    The other day, when it was time to say “Thank you very much” to my helper for taking me out and bringing me safely home, the phrase that came out of my mouth was “Have a nice day!” I’ve been working on these verbal set-pieces for ages and ages, but I still can’t master such simple exchanges. Talking is troublesome for me. I’d like to work through what was happening in my head when I made the mistake with my helper.

    1) I wanted to say the correct thing to my helper. (In my head, “Thank you very much” is stored in the “Everyday Phrases” category.)

    2) As soon as I tried to express my thanks, my mind went blank.

    3) I floundered, having no idea what I needed to do next.

    4) So I looked down, and saw the shoes my helper was wearing as he stood in the small entrance hall of our house . . .

    5) . . . which reminded me of seeing my father’s shoes there earlier in the day in the very same place.

    6) The scene of me saying “Have a nice day!” to Dad flashed into my mind.

    7) I remembered that I needed to say something to my helper . . .

    8) . . . so I blurted out the phrase that was already in my head: “Have a nice day!”

    Can you imagine a life where you’re confronted at every turn by this inability to communicate? I never know I’m saying the wrong thing until I hear myself saying it. Instantly I know I’ve slipped up, but the horse has already bolted and people are pointing out my error, or even laughing about it. Their pity, their resignation, or their sense of So he doesn’t even understand this! make me miserable. There’s nothing I can do but wallow in despondency.

    The best reaction to our mistakes will vary from person to person, and according to his or her age, but please remember: for people with autism, the pain of being unable to do what we’d like to is already hard to live with. Pain from other people’s reactions to our mistakes can break our hearts.


    We are taught at school that it’s a good thing to make lots of friends. There are some kids, however, who are just no good at it. And because children with autism are poor at interacting with others, many of them have next to no friends, and we can safely assume that some of these get teased or bullied by their peers. The bullies don’t mean to cause serious harm: they just throw their weight around because it’s fun. Some grown-ups tell the bullied kids simply to put up and shut up, even admonishing the victims and telling them, “Hah, there’s worse than that waiting for you out in the big wide world!”

    As far as I’m concerned, there’s no need whatsoever to “practise being bullied.” Acquiring superpowers of endurance is not something children need to be learning before they enter society at large. It is only the person being bullied who understands the true cost of what they suffer. People with no experience of being bullied have no idea how miserable it is to grow up being picked on the whole time.

    I would like people to stop pressuring children to make friends. Friendships can’t be artificially created. Friends are people whose respect and mutual support occurs naturally, right? Whether or not we have lots of friends, every single one of us is the main protagonist of our own existence. Having no friends is nothing to be ashamed of. Let’s all follow and be true to our singular path through life.


    Even when somebody is laughing their head off in front of me, I find it very hard to laugh along with them. It’s not that I fail to find what they’re laughing at funny: it’s that I literally can’t do it, because the moment I see someone start laughing, I forget to join in — I become entranced by the sight of the other person’s laughing face. Then, when I’m not looking at the laughing person, I become ensnared by the sound of them laughing. In this way it slips my mind that I ever wanted to laugh. Not being able to laugh while everyone else is falling about the place is isolating enough, but what makes me feel even lonelier is that my inability to laugh along with others leads people to assume that I don’t share their feelings or humour.

    There are other times when I find the difference between an angry person’s face and their normal face utterly hilarious. I might even want to see the furious expression again so badly that I burst out laughing — despite the anger this generates. Over-the-top scoldings definitely backfire in my case …

    Hitting My Head

    When I fight the demands of my fixations, and when my urge to do what my fixation dictates and my determination to ignore it smash into each other, I can erupt into anger. When I erupt into anger, I start hitting my head. I want to take control of the situation, but my brain won’t let me. Neurotypical people never experience this, I guess. My rage is directed at my brain, so without thinking anything through, I set about punching my own head.

    Once I’ve mastered a fixation, I’m able to set its demands aside, ignore what my brain is saying and act according to my own wishes and feelings. If people try to tell me off while I’m hitting myself, or to forcibly stop me doing it, or yell, “What are you doing?” at me, I become utterly dejected. The more frantic and desperate I become, the more I punch myself: by now, it’s no longer about punishing my brain, it’s about punishing myself for having lost the plot so woefully.

    If, however, people don’t flip out at the sight of me and understand that I’m not fully in control at such times, their forbearance gives me the headspace to think that one way or another I have to stop myself. So the next time you see someone like me in mid-meltdown, I’d ask you to conduct yourself with this knowledge …

    Obstacles, Goals, Blessings and Hopes

    In my life so far, I’ve experienced any number of hardships arising from my autism. These hardships arise in turn from the fact that our society is made up of a large neurotypical majority. You’d be forgiven for assuming, then, that I feel nothing but envy towards the “normal” majority, but that’s not the whole picture, not by a long shot. More and more, I’ve noticed the positives about having autism. Two things make this outlook possible.

    The first reason is that my parents were never in a state of denial about my autism, nor did they ever consign me to a “special needs” pigeonhole. They just strove to help me get better at doing the things I was good at. Working towards independence is really important and is a necessary part of growing up for everyone, but independence — in and of itself — won’t dispel or dilute autism. I attribute the ease I feel in my “autistic skin” today to my parents’ unwillingness to swallow fixed ideas about autism and their resolve to provide whatever education was working the best for me at the time.

    The second reason is that I’ve become better at making decisions for myself. Deciding things for yourself is a vital part of self-esteem. I believe that because my parents have always respected my wishes and feelings, my self-confidence had space to grow.

    Whenever I hear the words “Ah, it’s because he’s autistic,” I feel dismay. That word “autistic” packs a negative punch and this negativity, I think, corrodes the position of people with autism. For sure, functioning in our society is difficult for neuro-atypicals, but encountering difficulties is not the same thing as being unhappy. How has it come about that the word “autism” invokes pity? A part of the answer might be that we see so few role models of people living contentedly with their autism. The fact is, we have no choice but to live in a society where autism is thought of exclusively as a sorrow and a hardship: a fact that triggers further sorrow and hardship.

    Even I, as a child, used to think, “Wow, if only I didn’t have autism, wouldn’t life be great?” No longer. I can’t really imagine myself as not having autism because the “Myself” I’d be wouldn’t be the same Myself that I am now. A Me Without Autism, even one who looked exactly the same, would have an entirely different set of ideas and way of looking at the world.

    It is unfair that even the personalities of people with autism get invalidated because of our differences from the norm. I take it as a given that if I’m no good at something, I’ll have to practise at it. The tough part is when people get riled and reproach us for taking ages to learn what neurotypicals pick up effortlessly. At times like these it really feels hammered into me that I’m a total waste of space. It seems to be not widely enough recognized that there are positives to be found in the neurologies of people with autism. If the world at large would take a deeper interest in how our brains work and research our uniquenesses — as opposed to focusing on our treatment and cure — we could take pride in our neuro-atypical natures.

    There are reasons why people with autism exist in the world, I believe. Those who are determined to live with us and not give up on us are deeply compassionate people, and this kind of compassion must be a key to humanity’s long-term survival. Even when the means of self-expression and/or intelligence are lacking, we still respond to love. Knowing we are cherished is a source of hope — and no matter how tough things get, you can always soldier on as long as there’s hope. Since I came into this world, I’ve benefited from many wonderful experiences. Thanks to friends, family and supporters, I can be grateful for what’s around me and keep a smile on my face.

    Life is precious, so we try to help each other; and as someone who tends to be on the receiving end of this mutual assistance, I feel especially heartened when people stay cheerful and positive as they assist me. Every single time someone treats me with kindness, my determination to live well from tomorrow is rejuvenated. This is how I feel empowered to give something back to my family and society, even if my contribution is modest. Thanks to the people who come to me with questions and ask for my opinions about things — never mind if I can’t always answer — I get to think about what I want. I feel blessed that I’m able to consider what kind of life would bring me contentment, and to exercise choices which might bring this about.

    I love nature, I have an interest in letters and numbers, and I’m fascinated by some things that other people have no interest in whatsoever. If these fascinations are rooted in my autistically wired brain and if neurotypical people are unable to access these wonders, then I have to say that the immutable beauties of autism are such that I count myself lucky to be born with the condition.

    Issues like our obsessions, fixations and panic attacks do need to be worked on, but rather than moaning about problems for which there are no quick fixes, I prefer to concentrate on my self-management skills, even if progress is gradual. To live a life where I feel blessed to have autism: that will be my goal from now on.

    Excerpted from Fall Down 7 Times, Get Up 8 by Naoki Higashida and translated by KA Yoshida and David Mitchell. Copyright in the original Japanese text © 2017 Naoki Higashida and David Mitchell. English translation copyright © 2017 KA Yoshida and David Mitchell. Published by Alfred A. Knopf Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

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    A motorcyclist rushed to a trauma centre after a collision near the Evergreen Brickworks Saturday night has died of her injuries.

    Police were called just after 8 p.m. about a crash between a motorcycle and a car in the area of Bayview Ave. near the Brickworks, Toronto police Const. Victor Kwong said.

    Paramedics say the motorcyclist was taken to hospital without vital signs, where she was later pronounced dead.

    Kwong said the driver of the car involved with the crash remained at the scene and was assessed for injuries.

    Police closed the Bayview Extension southbound at Pottery Rd. but the roads have since reopened.

    It was the second crash of the night involving a motorcycle.

    Just after 7 p.m., a 19-year-old male motorcyclist was taken to a trauma centre with serious injuries following a collision in Etobicoke that involved at least four other vehicles.

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    An 18-year-old Ontario student was found dead in a hotel room during a graduation trip to Cuba, family members confirm.

    The family released a statement Saturday saying Alex Sagriff died Thursday in Varadero, Cuba while on a trip organized by S-Trip, a Toronto-based student travel company.

    Sagriff was a recent graduate of St. Theresa Catholic Secondary School in Belleville, Ont. She was preparing to attend Loyalist College in the fall.

    “Our concern right now is trying to get her home. We don’t know much of anything,” the family said in a statement posted on social media.

    “Alex was an amazing young woman, she had a ton of friends, and has a ton of family who loves her.”

    S-Trip communications co-ordinator Derek Champoux said an emergency response team was dispatched to Cuba immediately to support travellers and supervisory staff.

    “Travel arrangements were made for friends and classmates and at this time the majority have returned home,” he wrote in an email.

    He would not comment on details of the emergency response team, travel arrangements, or how many students were on the trip.

    “Our first priority is the safety of our travellers and at this time I can’t disclose those details,” Champoux said, adding that S-Trip is respecting the wishes of Sagriff’s family to keep private the details of the tragedy.

    A cousin, who asked not to be identified, confirmed that an email was sent to families of those on the Varadero trip and that a doctor at the scene said Sagriff had died of natural causes.

    The federal government has confirmed the death of a Canadian in Cuba, but could not reveal further details due to privacy concerns. The government said consular officials are in touch with local officials in Cuba and with the family.

    Michelle Pautisan said her son was on the same trip when Sagriff died. She said the group arrived in Cuba on Wednesday and they were scheduled to return on July 14.

    Pautisan said her son will be returning home on Sunday.

    Sagriff’s most recent post on Instagram was last week at her graduation. The photo has over 400 comments of tributes from friends and family.

    Also according to her Instagram account, she played on St. Theresa’s basketball team.

    “St. Theresa not only blessed me with a killer ball team for the past four years but friendships I’ll keep for life,” the post says.

    Friends and family of Sagriff also began posting tributes to her on social media Friday. Local media in Cuba are also reporting news of the death.

    With files from The Canadian Press

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    Deborah Cross was just 56 years old when she left her Ottawa apartment and moved into a nursing home in Maple, Ont.

    Secondary progressive multiple sclerosis has limited her mobility, but her mind is still sharp. She does not consider herself to be in the final stages of her life, as so many other residents are. But moving into a home for seniors was her only option.

    Now 61, Cross estimates she is at least 15 years younger than nearly everyone else there. She loves her home, but it’s hard to be surrounded by people so much older, who function at a different level, and struggle with all manner of end-of-life illnesses and issues.

    “I kind of suck it up and I do my best to be happy because I know that I could be horribly unhappy if I gave myself half a chance,” Cross said.

    More than 90,000 people spent time in “long-stay” beds in Ontario long-term care homes last fiscal year, according to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

    Those residents’ average age was over 83. But about 6 per cent of them were under the age of 65, including nearly 2,500 in their early 60s, more than 2,300 people in their 50s, and about 500 in their 40s.

    Doctors and residents say they have seen people as young as 21 entering nursing homes, to live with people older than their grandparents.

    “Essentially it’s a default scenario because there is nowhere that a young person can go for long-term care, except a nursing home,” said Dr. Abraham Snaiderman, director of the Neuropsychiatry Clinic at the University Health Network’s rehabilitation institute.

    “As a society, we’re not prepared to deal with younger patients with cognitive or physical impairments.”

    David Jensen, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, confirmed to the Star that Ontario has no long-term care homes specifically geared to adults under the age of 65.

    Younger people end up in long-term care when they require ’round-the-clock assistance or can no longer cope in their own home, whether it’s the result of a stroke, a serious brain injury, developmental disability, progressive types of MS or other degenerative illnesses.

    “Long-term-care homes are required to do their best to meet the needs of their residents,” Jensen said, adding that every care home resident has a written “plan of care” based on their needs, which dictates medical treatments, personal support, diet, recreation, social activity and more.

    The problem, Snaiderman said, is that long-term care homes are designed for elderly residents. They are “suboptimal” places for treating conditions like MS.

    Even if the care and services of the home are perfect, there is a psychological toll to being decades younger than your peers.

    “Not only are you around people that aren’t like you, who don’t necessarily have the same capacity as you, but you’re also dealing with . . . a lot of grief, a lot of anger like, ‘Why did this happen to me?” said Julie Kelndorfer of the MS Society of Canada, which is lobbying governments across Canada to place patients in “age-appropriate” facilities.

    The challenges of care home life can be as basic as not wanting to eat breakfast at 6 a.m. when the seniors do, or wanting to have pizza instead of an old-fashioned dinner of roast beef on Sundays, Kelndorfer said.

    There are more serious considerations, too, like the lack of opportunity to form friendships or even romantic relationships with people your own age.

    Cross said the activities her home plans, like bingo games and very easy crossword puzzles, don’t stimulate her the way they do older residents.

    “I work really hard at finding things to keep my brain in gear,” said Cross.

    Most of her recreation comes outside the home, whether it’s going shopping, visiting friends at her church, attending an MS support group or seeing her family.

    Cross said she is close with the staff at her care home and makes a point of getting to know people. But it’s been difficult, she said, to befriend residents who are nearing the end of their lives.

    “I’ve watched friends that I’ve made pass away over and over again, and it’s really distressing,” she said. “I never wanted to get used to people dying, and it happens all the time. I can’t help but be aware of it, because it’s right there in front of me.”

    The reliance of young adults on long-term care is a problem for senior citizens, too, say representatives of the long-term-care industry.

    “Over the next 20 years, there will be a doubling of the seniors’ population across Canada and, by extension, increasing demand on long-term care homes for support,” said Candace Chartier, CEO of the Ontario Long Term Care Association. “We believe that long-term care needs to be available to these seniors, to ensure that these resources are available at a time when they need may need it the most.”

    Chartier said her organization, which represents over two-thirds of the private, public and non-profit care homes in Ontario, “believes that long-term care is not the most suitable environment for those under 65.”

    For an alternative model for helping younger adults in need of care, Kelndorfer pointed to the Boston Home in Dorchester, Massachusetts, a long-term-care facility that caters specifically to people with MS and other progressive neurological illnesses.

    Billed as a place for “intellectually curious” adults who want to live “full lives not defined by their disabilities,” the Boston Home offers residents and outpatients exercise, recreation, rehabilitation and social programs. The average age of their clients is 58.

    “It’s the difference between a house and a home,” Kelndorfer said of the struggle faced by young care home residents. “A home is where there are people like you, where you have a sense of belonging, that you feel comfortable and safe. I think those are all challenges for young people living in long-term care.”

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    ALGONQUIN PARK—Tucked into a jet-black track suit, his neck comfortably swathed in a thick fluffy towel, Paul Walde surveyed the black waters of Canoe Lake early Saturday morning with a look of mild concern.

    “It’s a little windier than I would like,” he fretted, observing the choppy ripples rushing onshore from a brisk north wind. A jagged array of grey and black clouds, the leftovers of an overnight thunderstorm that had left most of the region in a blackout, hung heavily overhead.

    Walde shrugged. “Well, the water’s fine — warmer than you’d think,” he said, and strode briskly off to the nearby beach to stretch.

    Not 15 minutes later, Walde, clad in a black triathlon singlet, his head snugged into a black bathing cap, would enter the root beer-coloured water with a goal in mind: To swim its entire length, all the way to the memorial cairn to Tom Thomson at its distant northern tip.

    That the beloved painter had died on this very day, drowned in this very lake, 100 years earlier, was of course the point. “It had to be today,” said Walde, who, at 49, is wiry and boyish. An overnight spate of lighting and a deluge of rain gave pause, but no thought of cancellation.

    “We were going out there, no matter what.”

    Walde’s regalia indicated as much: His suit, bathing cap, a banner and the nautical flags of an accompanying flotilla of canoes were all festooned with a logo: The Tom Thomson Centennial Swim, slick and bright-blue on a background of black.

    On the beach, a troupe of synchronized swimmers, each of them in matching caps and suits with the insignia emblazoned on them, entered the water first. As a canoe-bound brass band began a mournful dirge, the troupe arranged itself in a circle, rotating slowly counter-clockwise. At just before 7 a.m., Walde, goggles in place, slipped into the lake, slicing through the troupe with great ceremony, and began his long front crawl to the other end.

    To understand just what Walde was up to, it helps to understand where he’s coming from. An artist with a long history of performance, Walde, now a professor at the University of Victoria, has mounted several site-specific projects in recent years, most of them around environmental concerns.

    For Alaska Variations, from 2015, he arranged a dance performance, an array of simultaneously boiling kettles and a ski pole outfitted with a record-player needle as different ways of interacting with the surfaces of frozen lakes. In 2013, for his Requiem for a Glacier, Walde trekked a makeshift orchestra of several dozen musicians up to the Farnham Glacier in British Columbia to perform a mournful piece regarding its inevitable demise from global warming.

    At Canoe Lake, the symbolism is more loaded, at least culturally. Thomson, a close associate of the Group of Seven, perhaps Canada’s most-loved artists, died before the group could be formed. But he remains perhaps its most revered, a status that has made his work both sacrosanct and, in the eyes of many, a symbol of mass-market Canadiana kitsch.

    “It’s really Tom Thomson mania up here,” said Walde after he towelled off, noting the array of Thomson memorabilia opportunistically displayed at the Portage Store, a large-scale outfitter at the foot of Canoe Lake. (The store had gone so far as to introduce a new series of canoes, painted “Tom Thomson green” and adorned with his name, for the centennial).

    “There’s an industry around him — Roots even had a clothing line based on him a few years ago — so we’re doing that in our own little way. We wanted to dress it up like a sporting event, and brand it.”

    While he makes clear the swim is not mere homage — it’s “Centennial,” not

    “Memorial,” partly for that reason — he’s careful not to position it as a satirical project, either. When he was growing up in Sault Ste. Marie, “that was art, period,” Walde said, referring to Thomson and the Group. After living in New York in the mid-1990s, he came back to northern Ontario and struggled to conceive how a contemporary artist there could interact with the overpowering presence of the past.

    In 1997, he made a work called Index 1036— the number assigned to the alleged skull of Thomson, exhumed when rumours of his drowning death being the result of foul play prompted further investigation — that allied the painter with more avant-garde artists whose lives had mysteriously ended in water: Arthur Cravan, a Dadaist forebear, whose sailboat never reached Mexico, as planned; or Bas Jan Ader, an early conceptual art icon, whose boat was found, unmanned, four months after he embarked on a solo crossing of the North Atlantic.

    “When I was a younger artist, Thomson and the Group were something to react against,” he said. “And there is an element of dark humour to doing a swim on the anniversary of his drowning, for sure. But he is my favourite of that gang — anyone who cares about painting can appreciate his sketches. The fact that he could make sense of this landscape, work in this landscape, and then have it consume him — that was compelling to me.”

    Halfway up the lake, the wind stiffened as Walde fought his way into the narrows, between an island and Camp Wapameo. The synchro troupe splashed back into the water from a waiting boat, and formed its circle again. Walde swam in and stopped in the middle, the troupe this time circling clockwise around him as he disappeared under the choppy surface.

    Here, a moment of silence was observed, before Walde resurfaced and began the final leg of his quest (Walde had entered the water in 2017, he later explained, had swum back to 1917, and then, as the troupe reset the clock, swam back to the present).

    But just outside the narrows, the past seemed not quite ready to let him go just yet. Walde veered west, off course, the cairn growing further, not closer, with each stroke. Startled, Walde flipped over on his back and course-corrected, turning sharply towards the point and the end of his journey.

    Pulling himself slowly from the water, he climbed the steep stones up the cairn, where a memorial plaque to Thomson had been installed. Breathing sharply, water dripping from his body, he put a hand on the rough mound of stones and closed his eyes.

    “I didn’t mean to veer that way, but we were really getting thrown around in there,” he said. “But where I ended up — that’s right where Tom’s body was found. And that’s where I got lost.”

    Thomson had achieved a certain mastery over his environment, but only on canvas, and in the end, there was no mistaking where the balance of power lay.

    “Landscape painting is about beauty,” Walde said. “But the landscape is dangerous. It doesn’t care if you live or die. That was the very limit of what I could do. For me, to be in the water where he died — that was powerful.”

    0 0

    More than two decades after a hydro plant changed the face of a major river in their traditional lands Constance Lake First Nation will start receiving financial benefits from the electricity it generates.

    Starting this year, Constance Lake First Nation, about 30 kilometres west of Hearst, Ont., will receive about $1 million annually in benefit payments under an agreement signed with the provincial government in late May.

    Those payments will continue until January 2047 as long as the 19-megawatt Shekak-Nagagami hydro plant continues to produce electricity for the province, a ministerial directive to the Independent Electricity System Operator shows.

    “It’s not the saving grace but it does provide some extra dollars to do some extra things that we want to do for the community” said Constance Lake Chief Rick Allen.

    What it doesn’t do is make up for chronic underfunding by the federal government, the significant changes the dam has caused in the Shekak River, or the fact that the community hasn’t received any payments through its initial partnership agreement, Allen said.

    The Shekak-Nagagami project is owned by the Algonquin Power (Nagagami) Limited Partnership between Constance Lake First Nation and subsidiaries of Brookfield Renewable, which acquired the facility in 2006. It sells electricity to the province through a power purchase agreement with the Ontario Electricity Financial Corporation.

    The new benefit agreement signed with the province was the first to be formalized under the Ministry of Energy’s grievance table process — a forum for Ontario and First Nations to work out historical energy infrastructure grievances.

    “The reliable revenue stream from this project will go a long way in improving economic development opportunities within the community,” said Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Minister David Zimmer in a May press release.

    “This is one of many steps on Ontario’s journey of healing and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.”

    Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault added that the agreement “is an important example of the 2015 Political Accord between First Nations and the Government of Ontario coming to life.”

    “Together, over almost two years, we participated in an open respectful and innovative process that will now result in long-term benefits and increased prosperity for Constance Lake First Nation,” he said.

    Several other First Nations are also negotiating benefit agreements with the province over historical energy projects like the Shekak-Nagagami hydro facility under its grievance table process.

    It’s a positive step, Allen said, but one that’s long overdue.

    “Yes there are agreements out there that are starting to happen but that should have happened on Day 1,” he said.

    “These are our resources this is our livelihood and I think it’s time that we get our equal share back.”

    For Constance Lake, which has 1,650 members, the newly minted agreement is just “the first bite of the apple” in 20 years, Allen said.

    He hopes to also address the project debt that has prevented Constance Lake from benefiting from its partnership agreement with Brookfield.

    While Constance Lake has been a partner in the hydro project since 1994 the community didn’t support the dam initially.

    “At the very beginning it was forced upon us,” Allen said, adding that the partnership agreement they were offered was a “take it or leave it” deal.

    The project’s financial history is complicated. When it became mired in debt, due to lower than expected electricity production and high interest rates — challenges that predated Brookfield’s interest in the project — the Ontario Electricity Financial Corporation had to step in to help cover repayments to financial backers under the power-purchase agreement.

    While the financers are now paid off the OEFC still holds about $48 million on the project and any profit is used to pay it back.

    As a result there have been no dividends to share between Constance Lake and Brookfield.

    Brookfield declined to comment on the project’s finances.

    At the same time, the dam has caused significant changes to the Shekak River that have affected the community’s livelihoods and traditions, Allen said.

    “It’s right in the heart of our traditional territory,” he explained.

    The Shekak is “a major river that many of our elders and many of our people still utilize — I utilize it.”

    “It’s on my uncle’s trapline and he wasn’t negotiated with during that time. They didn’t ask him what the impacts were going to be,” he said.

    But the impacts have been significant. The dam has “dried up the river” affecting the community’s hunting and fishing grounds, Allen said.

    “It’s not the same river it used to be.”

    The new benefit agreement with the provincial government is a step in the right direction but “there’s no money in the world that would bring back that river,” he said.

    It’s also not enough to make up for a chronic funding shortfall that affects everything from education to infrastructure in Constance Lake.

    Ontario provides $11,500 per student in the public school system, Allen noted, while students in Constance Lake receive $4,500 per student from the federal government.

    “That’s the kind of thing where our money will go to offset being still treated like we’re not important to Ontario or Canada,” he said.

    While the federal government committed new funding for First Nations’ education programs and capital investments in the 2016 budget, a report from the Parliamentary Budget Officer said the difference those commitments make depends on how the funding is allocated and if the federal government addresses “the historical trend of lapsing significant amounts of capital funding.”

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    President Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., was promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton before agreeing to meet with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign, according to three advisers to the White House briefed on the meeting and two others with knowledge of it.

    The meeting was also attended by his campaign chairman at the time, Paul Manafort, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Manafort and Kushner recently disclosed the meeting, though not its content, in confidential government documents described to The New York Times.

    The Times reported the existence of the meeting on Saturday. But in subsequent interviews, the advisers and others revealed the motivation behind it.

    Read the latest news on U.S. President Donald Trump.

    The meeting — at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016, two weeks after Trump clinched the Republican nomination — points to the central question in federal investigations of the Kremlin’s meddling in the presidential election: whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians. The accounts of the meeting represent the first public indication that at least some in the campaign were willing to accept Russian help.

    While Trump has been dogged by revelations of undisclosed meetings between his associates and the Russians, the episode at Trump Tower is the first such confirmed private meeting involving his inner circle during the campaign — as well as the first one known to have included his eldest son. It came at an inflection point in the campaign, when Trump Jr., who served as an adviser and a surrogate, was ascendant and Manafort was consolidating power.

    It is unclear whether the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, produced the promised compromising information about Clinton. But the people interviewed by The Times about the meeting said the expectation was that she would do so.

    When he was first asked about the meeting on Saturday, Trump Jr. said only that it was primarily about adoptions and mentioned nothing about Clinton.

    Read more:

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    Trump tweets that U.S. should ‘move forward’ with Russia

    But on Sunday, presented with The Times’ findings, he offered a new account. In a statement, he said he had met with the Russian lawyer at the request of an acquaintance from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant, which his father took to Moscow. “After pleasantries were exchanged,” he said, “the woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Mrs. Clinton. Her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense. No details or supporting information was provided or even offered. It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information.”

    He said she then turned the conversation to adoption of Russian children and the Magnitsky Act, a U.S. law that blacklists suspected Russian human rights abusers. The law so enraged President Vladimir Putin that he retaliated by halting U.S. adoptions of Russian children.

    “It became clear to me that this was the true agenda all along and that the claims of potentially helpful information were a pretext for the meeting,” Trump Jr. said.

    Two people briefed on the meeting said the intermediary was Rob Goldstone, a former British tabloid journalist and the president of a company called Oui 2 Entertainment who has worked with the Miss Universe pageant. He did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

    Mark Corallo, a spokesman for the president’s lawyer, said Sunday that “the president was not aware of and did not attend the meeting.”

    Lawyers and spokesmen for Kushner and Manafort did not immediately respond to requests for comment. In his statement, Trump Jr. said he asked Manafort and Kushner to attend, but did not tell them what the meeting was about.

    Political campaigns collect opposition research from many quarters but rarely from sources linked to foreign governments.

    U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russian hackers and propagandists worked to tip the election toward Donald Trump, in part by stealing and then providing to WikiLeaks internal Democratic Party and Clinton campaign emails that were embarrassing to Clinton.

    A special prosecutor and congressional committees are investigating the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with the Russians. Trump has disputed that.

    Trump has also equivocated on whether the Russians were solely responsible for the hacking. On Sunday, two days after his first meeting as president with Putin, Trump said in a Twitter post: “I strongly pressed President Putin twice about Russian meddling in our election. He vehemently denied it. I’ve already given my opinion ..... “ He also tweeted that they had “discussed forming an impenetrable Cybersecurity unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded ...”

    On Sunday morning on Fox News, the White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, described the Trump Tower meeting as a “big nothing burger.”

    “Talking about issues of foreign policy, issues related to our place in the world, issues important to the American people is not unusual,” he said.

    But Rep. Adam B. Schiff of California, the leading Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, one of the panels investigating Russian election interference, said he wanted to question “everyone that was at that meeting.”

    “There’s no reason for this Russian government advocate to be meeting with Paul Manafort or with Mr. Kushner or the president’s son if it wasn’t about the campaign and Russia policy,” Schiff said after the initial Times report.

    Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer invited to the Trump Tower meeting, is best known for mounting a multipronged attack against the Magnitsky Act.

    The adoption impasse is a frequently used talking point for opponents of the Magnitsky Act. Veselnitskaya’s campaign against the law has also included attempts to discredit the man after whom it was named, Sergei L. Magnitsky, a lawyer and auditor who died in mysterious circumstances in a Russian prison in 2009 after exposing one of the biggest corruption scandals during Putin’s rule.

    Veselnitskaya’s clients include state-owned businesses and a senior government official’s son, whose company was under investigation in the United States at the time of the meeting. Her activities and associations had previously drawn the attention of the FBI, according to a former senior law enforcement official.

    Veselnitskaya said in a statement Saturday that “nothing at all about the presidential campaign” was discussed. She recalled that after about 10 minutes, either Kushner or Manafort walked out.

    She said she had “never acted on behalf of the Russian government” and “never discussed any of these matters with any representative of the Russian government.”

    The fact of the Trump Tower meeting was disclosed to government officials in recent days, when Kushner, who is also a senior White House aide, filed a revised version of a form required to obtain a security clearance.

    The Times reported in April that he had failed to disclose any foreign contacts, including meetings with the Russian ambassador to the United States and the head of a Russian state bank. Failure to report such contacts can result in a loss of access to classified information and even, if information is knowingly falsified or concealed, in imprisonment.

    Kushner’s advisers said at the time that the omissions were an error, and that he had immediately notified the FBI that he would be revising the filing.

    In a statement Saturday, Kushner’s lawyer, Jamie Gorelick, said: “He has since submitted this information, including that during the campaign and transition, he had over 100 calls or meetings with representatives of more than 20 countries, most of which were during transition. Mr. Kushner has submitted additional updates and included, out of an abundance of caution, this meeting with a Russian person, which he briefly attended at the request of his brother-in-law Donald Trump Jr. As Mr. Kushner has consistently stated, he is eager to co-operate and share what he knows.”

    Manafort, the former campaign chairman, also recently disclosed the meeting, and Trump Jr.’s role in organizing it, to congressional investigators who had questions about his foreign contacts, according to people familiar with the events. Neither Manafort nor Kushner was required to disclose the content of the meeting.

    A spokesman for Manafort declined to comment.

    Since the president took office, Trump Jr. and his brother Eric have assumed day-to-day control of their father’s real estate empire. Because he does not serve in the administration and does not have a security clearance, Trump Jr. was not required to disclose his foreign contacts. Federal and congressional investigators have not publicly asked for any records that would require his disclosure of Russian contacts.

    Veselnitskaya is a formidable operator with a history of pushing the Kremlin’s agenda. Most notable is her campaign against the Magnitsky Act, which provoked a Cold War-style, tit-for-tat dispute with the Kremlin when President Barack Obama signed it into law in 2012.

    Under the law, some 44 Russian citizens have been put on a list that allows the United States to seize their U.S. assets and deny them visas. The United States asserts that many of them are connected to the fraud exposed by Magnitsky, who after being jailed for more than a year was found dead in his cell. A Russian human rights panel found that he had been assaulted. To critics of Putin, Magnitsky, in death, became a symbol of corruption and brutality in the Russian state.

    An infuriated Putin has called the law an “outrageous act,” and, in addition to banning U.S. adoptions, he compiled what became known as an “anti-Magnitsky” blacklist of U.S. citizens.

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    Two siblings in their early 20s have been charged after getting into a dangerous predicament on the Scarborough Bluffs, all for a selfie.

    At 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Toronto Fire Service tweeted they were attempting a rope rescue to retrieve two people, a brother and sister, who had become stranded near the top of the bluffs.

    The siblings were lowered with harnesses and ropes one at a time and reached safety at about 8:30 p.m., according to Toronto fire services. The pair were not injured.

    Toronto Police Constable Victor Kwong said the siblings climbed the bluffs to take a photo.

    “Dangerous & waste of resources all for a #selfie,” Kwong tweeted.

    He said the siblings climbed the bluffs despite multiple signs that warn people not to climb the bluffs.

    The two were later charged with bylaw offenses, according to Kwong, who said police, fire and paramedics were all involved in the rescue, making it a resource-heavy operation.

    The bylaw offences include city park bylaws of trespassing and activity in prohibited areas.

    Kwong said whenever a situation occurs where someone has to be rescued, police, fire fighters, and EMS have to be on scene which can use up resources.

    He said paramedics usually aren’t needed but they have to be on scene in case anyone is injured during a rescue.

    Kwong said the siblings’ names will not be released because they were not criminally charged.

    The bluffs stretch for about 15 km from the Eastern Beachers to East Point Park along the shore of Lake Ontario. Fines for trespassing in the area can reach up to $5,000.

    Restricted areas of the bluffs are even more dangerous due to landslides that have occurred because of recent heavy rainfalls.

    The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) warned residents in May that the frequent and heavy rainfall has caused almost 15 landslides of the bluffs and that makes the area unstable.

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    LIMA, PERU—Peruvian officials say a double-decker tour bus went out of control and rolled over on a narrow road in the hills, killing at least nine people and injuring 25.

    Firefighter Cesar Suito told The Associated Press that the injured included a Canadian and a Chilean.

    Peru’s Ministry of Health says the accident Sunday night happened about 2 kilometres from the presidential palace in Lima. Its statement says the local bus was driving on San Cristobal hill to give the passengers a panoramic view of the city.

    The ministry says the bus appears to have been moving at excessive speed.

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    WIMBLEDON—It’s supposed to rain. Thank the heavens above.

    That’s right. They’re praying for precipitation in a country where the sun rarely shines.

    While downfalls have caused havoc with scheduling at Wimbledon in many years past, the lack of any moisture — beyond that pouring out of sweat glands — has severely impacted play at the All England Club.

    Or so participants have been claiming, though officials counter: Bollocks.

    Sunday was the traditional maintenance day for the grounds, otherwise completely shuttered in advance of Manic Monday, with everybody who has survived into the second week of the tournament in action. Wall-to-wall tennis.

    While groundskeepers insist otherwise, it seems quite obvious that the pristinely and lovingly groomed lawns at SW19 have been rendered dry and desiccated, maybe dangerously so.

    Canada’s Genie Bouchard, ousted in the first round last Monday, said afterwards that she was afraid of moving around the court athletically because of skidding perils underfoot. She’s been far from alone in criticizing the quality of the grass surfaces.

    Andy Murray, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and many others have concern and bewilderment over what lies beneath, given that Wimbledon is famous for sod perfection. Too soft and slow, say some; too sere and ball-blunting say others.

    “I think the courts this year are really, really bad,” Italy’s Fabio Fognini stated bluntly.

    What head groundsman Neil Stubley says is that “hardness readings” are well within the usual margins and fret-free playable.

    “There’s not a doubt in our minds that the courts will not be as good as they need to be for the end of The Championships,” he told reporters on Thursday. “Obviously we’re dealing with the extreme heat, which we’re not used to every single championships. From one championships to another you will get variations in temperatures which will actually have an effect on how you manage the courts. We go into The Championships with as healthy of grass as we possibly can be so we can endure the extremes. So if we get extreme heat, or last year with the extreme wet, we can deal with it.

    “More slippery? I don’t know if there have been more slips this year or there has just been a couple of high-profile ones. Obviously we listen to players because their feedback is important. But the data shows to us those courts that are in question are within range of the other courts and they are within range of previous years.”

    By high-profile, Stubley was surely referring to the ghastly incident on Thursday when Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the U.S. crumpled approaching the net as her knee gave out, then screeched in pain. There’s been no indication, however, that purported slipperiness contributed to her calamity. Certainly she has not alleged that.

    On her Facebook Live page, on Saturday, Mattek-Sands revealed that she will need surgery after dislocating her right knee and rupturing her patella. “One of the most painful injuries I’ve had and I’ve had a few in my career.

    “I just remember trying to take a step, my leg not being able to hold me, and I just went down. I remember my knee just feeling really tight and I took a look at it and something was wrong . . . something looked so wrong with it and I knew it was either dislocated or broken. I think at that point, I kind of freaked out.”

    On Sunday, a day of tennis rest, grounds personnel were working hard to restore conditions on all the courts, from spot treatment for trouble areas to hand-watering surfaces on outside courts.

    Of particular issue has been court 18, the fifth show court. Nineteen matches were played there last week. During one of them Britain’s Laura Robson yelled out: “It’s too soft!”, while 12th seed Kristina Mladenovic of France told reporters she was thankful to have escaped injury when she played, and lost, in the second round on Thursday. Mladenovic and her opponent, American Alison Riske, both asked the chair umpire to have their match moved to another court, two games into the encounter. The Frenchwoman described the court as damaged.

    Britain’s James Murray, who lost his Friday doubles match on court 18, said the surface has been all the talk in the locker room. “The courts this year were different in the way that you could see where people put their foot in. It was almost like the turf had come up,” he told The Times.

    Following his Saturday match, the always measured Federer said he’d slipped on the court but didn’t think that the surface was unsafe.

    “When it does get very hot, the sun beats down on the court for the entire day, I do feel the courts get a tad slippery because there’s all this dead grass, in the middle in particular, because it’s not attached anymore.”

    Murray: “There’s quite a few spots on the court, like just behind the baseline and just in front of the baseline, where there’s quite big chunks of grass, sort of almost like divots.”

    Djokovic: “I could see there is a difference in grass, in the turf itself. It was a bit softer, I would say, especially around couple of feet inside and outside, around the baseline area.

    “I haven’t had that kind of experience before in Wimbledon, to be honest. I mean, the courts are always perfect here.”

    They certainly like to think so, of their grass in captivity.

    So sod off.

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    Ontario’s bid to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour — a move that is feared by businesses but has the support of some prominent economists — is being put to the public this week.

    The Liberal government’s proposed legislation on labour reforms, which also includes equal pay for part-time workers, increased vacation entitlements and expanded personal emergency leave, starts committee hearings Monday that will travel the province.

    The bill would boost the minimum wage, which is currently set to rise with inflation from $11.40 an hour to $11.60 in October, up to $14 on Jan. 1, 2018, and $15 the following year.

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    Businesses are strongly opposed to the increase, particularly the quick pace of it. A coalition of groups including the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, Restaurants Canada and the Canadian Franchise Association are sending Premier Kathleen Wynne a letter Monday, slamming the “arbitrary” increase.

    “Many Ontario employers, especially small businesses, are now considering closing their business because they do not have the capacity to successfully manage such reforms,” they write.

    “The business community was wholly aligned with your government’s previous approach, which allowed for increases to the minimum wage that were predictable and protected against arbitrary political decision-making.”

    Business groups had been calling for the government to first perform an economic analysis, and have now commissioned their own, which the coalition said will be complete next month.

    “To plan effectively and protect jobs, employers need predictability and time to adjust the cost of other inputs where we can,” the coalition writes. “There is no way to absorb and adjust to a 32 per cent hit in less than 18 months.”

    Karl Wirtz, the CEO and founder of a packaging company in Brampton, Ont., said he may have to consider bankruptcy.

    “This is something that has got me scared out of my mind,” he said.

    The minimum wage increase will mean an extra $1 million for WG Pro-Manufacturing’s 200 — soon to be 245 — employees, Wirtz said. About half of them make minimum wage and the rest will have to get commensurate pay bumps, he said.

    The company, which does co-packaging for foods and confectionery products, is focused on growth, Wirtz said, and as such is operating within tight margins. He hasn’t budgeted for an extra million dollars a year and is locked into contracts with big customers. The only way he sees out of the pricing structure is bankruptcy.

    “I want all of our workers to have a good income and good ability to have a good lifestyle,” Wirtz said. “I respect that. Truthfully, I do. But you have to give businesses an opportunity to phase it into their program. So yes, let’s shoot for $14, let’s shoot for $15, but scale it over the next coming years.”

    Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid said the government is sensitive to the needs of businesses, smaller ones in particular.

    “We want to ensure there’s not unintended consequences, because these are complex policies,” he said.

    “If there’s more work to be done in terms of the details and potential unintended consequences, that’s something we’re certainly happy to do with our business community.”

    A recent study out of Seattle made headlines for concluding that its minimum wage increase was actually detrimental to low-income workers. But its methodology has been criticized and it bucks the trend of similar studies concluding the opposite, noted Canadian economist Lars Osberg.

    He is one of 50 economists in Canada who just signed a letter in support of a $15 minimum wage.

    “For many years, many in the economics profession were also very concerned about this possibility of disemployment of people with minimum wage jobs,” said Osberg, an economics professor at Dalhousie University.

    “A whole raft of new studies in the last 20 years have indicated that disemployment effect is very small...On average you could say it’s small to negligible.”

    While businesses’ concerns are understandable, he said, studies show that increasing the minimum wage increases people’s purchasing power, as well as consumption and economic activity in general.

    “So in that sense it’s stimulative to the macroeconomy,” he said.

    Ontario’s legislative committee will travel this week to Thunder Bay, North Bay, Ottawa, Kingston and Windsor, and next week to London, Kitchener, Niagara Falls, Hamilton and Toronto.

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    Moments after a woman was struck and killed by a GO train in Scarborough, police responded to reports of gunshots nearby.

    The woman, 65, was struck and killed east of the Guildwood GO station. Passengers were held on the train west of the station for more than three hours so police could investigate the death and reports of gunshots nearby on Scarborough Golf Club Rd.

    Police tweeted a message to passengers telling them their train had “struck a pedestrian” at about 9:40 p.m. Sunday night.

    “Seconds later however, we received multiple 9-1-1 calls for sounds of gunshots. Your train came to stop right in the middle of that scene. We have not confirmed the threat has passed,” the message read.

    At 12:25, police said the reports of gunshots were not connected to the person who was struck and killed by the GO train.

    The train and its passengers got going again at around 12:50 a.m. after police investigated the woman’s death. Toronto police Const. Victor Kwong said the death was a suicide.

    Kwong said there were reports of people fleeing after the gunshots. But when police searched the area they did not find suspects or victims.

    Train service on the Lakeshore East line was delayed and trips between Oshawa and Union Station were cancelled. Regular service on the Lakeshore East line resumed Monday morning.

    With files from Alanna Rizza

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    It was the Tuesday after Victoria Day weekend and high school teacher Jenny Chen was wondering what to tell her class about a terrorist attack that took place in Britain.

    A bomb had been detonated at Manchester Arena the night before, killing 22 people, many of them teens. It was all over the news.

    “You’re having this internal debate. ‘Do I talk about it? Do I not talk about it? Is the school going to talk about it?’ ” said Chen, who has taught in Toronto since 2003.

    With high-profile attacks dominating social media and news coverage around the world, Canada’s elementary and high school teachers increasingly find themselves addressing students’ questions, fears and stereotypes about terrorism and violence.

    But those are difficult conversations, especially when teachers are trying to inform students without frightening them, or to explain complex political and religious issues in a digestible way, without making generalizations or otherwise hurting kids from varying cultural backgrounds.

    “Children are exposed to (terrorism) whether they hear about it on TV or from other children . . . or from overhearing adult conversations,” said Richard Messina, principal of the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study Laboratory School at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

    “It’s important to provide avenues where we can be reassuring to children and answer any questions they may have,” he added.

    Chen, who teaches law and civics courses, said she feels comfortable talking to her students about topics like equity, oppression, power and privilege.

    “But not everybody is,” she said, adding that she has received some training from her teachers union on facilitating challenging discussions. “The assumption is that every (teacher) comes with those skills and I’m not sure that is a fair assumption one can make.”

    In any given class, there could be students whose families are directly affected by a terrorist attack, Chen said. There could be kids who emigrated from countries where the incident took place, or whose family fled violence in their home country.

    Aafia Talib grew up in Canada and now teaches elementary grades at a private school near Washington, D.C.

    “I’m not very religious but I was raised Muslim, so for me it’s very personal,” she said in a phone interview.

    “Kids will make comments like ‘Oh, Muslims hate us,’ or ‘Islam is this or that.’ . . . What they’re saying is what they’re hearing at home, or what they’ve heard in the news.”

    Talib tries to teach her students that terrorism is separate from religion, no matter what the perpetrator says.

    “With Muslim kids in my class . . . I’m very careful to make sure they’re not offended and they don’t feel isolated. But I also want other kids to understand that this is not what Islam is.”

    Sometimes discussions about terrorism fit organically into the curriculum. When Talib teaches her Grade 5 students about the U.S. civil rights movement, or her seventh graders read To Kill a Mockingbird, she uses events like the racially motivated 2015 shooting at a Black church in Charleston, S.C., to offer students a modern context.

    “We talk about all kinds of people who are impacted by (violence), and about the fact that some people hate people who are different from them,” Talib said.

    Schools and school boards take different approaches to responding to attacks in the news.

    Ryan Bird, a Toronto District School Board spokesperson, said the board has no “set procedure” for addressing terrorist incidents, but it does post messages on its website after certain high-profile events, like the Manchester bombing or the 2016 Orlando, Fla., nightclub shooting, offering condolences and advising parents how to discuss the incident with their kids.

    “Within (our) schools, there is no . . . direction to staff to proactively speak with students about the incident,” Bird said. “However, should students have questions, staff respond in an age-appropriate way, as they would with any tragic event.”

    The Peel District School Board posts similar letters containing tips for parents on their website. Board spokesperson Carla Pereira said the PDSB will sometimes distribute a standard message for teachers to deliver to their students after a terrorist attack.

    “Recently, we’ve sent out fewer messages, as our social work team would suggest this may heighten anxiety and panic for many students, especially those who recently suffered a trauma and who may be vulnerable,” she added.

    Standard messages could be helpful, Chen said, but individual teachers need to be prepared to field followup questions from their students.

    The government, school boards and teachers unions must come together to train teachers, added Chen, who was recently elected to an executive position with the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation.

    “I don’t think (discussion) should be the responsibility of an individual teacher, but rather a school coming together and thinking about what would be best, for the children of our school so that everyone feels supported,” Messina said.

    “I’m remembering way back when 9/11 happened during the school day, we had an emergency meeting to think about what we were going to say about this, if anything.”

    For Talib, the main goal of these class discussions is that students don’t feel they’re in danger.

    “The bottom line with kids is to make them feel safe,” she said.

    “We let them know that our school is safe that they are protected.”

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    As Ontario’s police watchdog continues its systemic review of police strip search practices across the province, a Belleville judge has come down strongly on an OPP detachment for failing to follow the law around the controversial practice.

    Ontario court Justice Elaine Deluzio stayed impaired driving charges last month against Jillian Judson, who was told by officers to remove her underwire bra, when there were no reasonable grounds to do so, after she was taken to the police station in May 2016.

    Deluzio said she was not only concerned with what happened to Judson, but also with the fact that the officers involved testified that they would continue to ask female detainees to remove their bras.

    “The indifference expressed by both Officers (Amanda) MacFadden and (Janet) Allaire to their obligation as police officers to abide by the legal constraints surrounding strip searches is very concerning,” Deluzio wrote.

    “And the apparent willingness of both officers, and possibly other police officers at Quinte West OPP detachment, to continue with a practice of removing at least every underwire bra worn by female detainees, knowing that this practice, when implemented automatically and without exception towards every female detainee, is illegal, is an egregious abuse of police power.”

    Strip searching is “inherently humiliating and degrading,” the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in a landmark case 15 years ago, and should only be done when there are reasonable grounds to do so, such as looking for weapons or evidence related to the arrest.

    Yet police officers across the province have continued to conduct what judges have deemed to be illegal strip searches, where there were no grounds to have detainees remove their clothes. The illegal searches have resulted in lawsuits against police and criminal cases being tossed.

    The situation became so bad that the Office of the Independent Police Review Director announced last July that it was launching a province-wide, systemic review into police strip search practices. The review is ongoing.

    “I’ve had enough,” Gerry McNeilly, the independent police director, told the Star last year. “There is no regard being given to the rules.”

    Judson’s lawyer, Pieter Kort, said police cannot argue that the law isn’t clear around strip searches given the judicial condemnation of police conduct in the past, and again in Deluzio’s ruling.

    “The police can no longer take the position that they were unaware of what the law was,” he told the Star. “There’s no uncertainty now. It cannot be said that there’s any question with what the law is with respect to strip searches.”

    A spokesperson for the Ontario Provincial Police said the force accepts Deluzio’s ruling and is reviewing it, but that the officers would not be commenting.

    Aside from the general training all police officers receive at the Ontario Police College, the OPP’s procedures on searches of arrested individuals are also covered “regularly” in training sessions at the Ontario Provincial Police Academy, said OPP Staff Sgt. Carolle Dionne.

    “While I can’t anticipate the results of the OIPRD review, the OPP will certainly take into account the findings and take the necessary steps to remedy any identified issue(s),” she said.

    In a sworn statement filed in court, Judson said she was told she had to remove her bra for safety reasons, and said she felt “extremely uncomfortable.”

    “Having to be in that state in front of strangers was intensely embarrassing,” she said. “Having no control over being made to remove personal items or where or how to remove them as a 35-year-old woman was degrading and humiliating.”

    Officer Amanda MacFadden testified that she has female inmates remove their bras “for their safety and ours,” and said that in the past she’s found objects in underwire bras including bear mace and crack cocaine.

    She also testified that she was unaware at the time of her encounter with Judson that asking a woman to remove her bra is a strip search. She said she has since been told by a senior officer that the removal is indeed a strip search, but MacFadden also said she has not changed her practice.

    “She says that she was taught that the removal of an underwire bra is a ‘normal part’ of searching someone in police custody and so she still does this,” Deluzio wrote. “She believes that anyone wearing an underwire bra poses a danger to police.”

    After removing her bra, Judson entered a room to give breath samples with a white blanket wrapped around her chest area, as shown on video that was presented in court. The readings on the breath samples were 150 mg of alcohol in 100 mL of blood, nearly double the legal limit, according to the ruling.

    The breath tech officer, Janet Allaire, testified that she knew Judson wasn’t wearing a bra “because she expects that every female prisoner she deals with has removed her bra.”

    She said she had been trained to have female detainees remove their bras, and was unaware until this case that the removal constituted a strip search.

    “Officer Allaire said she had not changed her practice,” Deluzio wrote. “She said she had not been asked to change her practice and she said she is not aware of any new training at the detachment dealing with the searching of female prisoners.”

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    Patients whose emergency surgeries are delayed due to a lack of operating room resources have an increased risk of death or a need for extra recovery time in hospital, a Canadian study suggests.

    Researchers at the Ottawa Hospital found that patients who had delays getting surgery for serious injuries or life-threatening conditions such as a hip fracture, appendicitis or an aneurysm had a higher risk of dying compared to those who received more timely treatment.

    The study, published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, showed that patients who didn’t get into the OR within a standard time frame for their condition had an almost 5 per cent risk of dying, compared to a 3.2 per cent risk for those whose surgeries weren’t delayed.

    On average, delayed-surgery patients also stayed in hospital after their operation 1.1 days longer and cost the hospital $1,409 more than patients who did not have to wait.

    “For the first time, we have strong evidence that the sooner you get to the operating room for an emergency surgery, the better off you are, regardless of your condition before surgery,” said senior author Dr. Alan Forster, vice-president of quality, performance and population health at the Ottawa Hospital.

    Urgent surgeries are those considered necessary within 24 hours of a patient being diagnosed, in most cases at a hospital emergency department. Such surgeries represent 13 per cent of all operations performed in Ontario, according to the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

    “Some surgeries need to be done very promptly,” said Forster, an internist and researcher. “The hip fracture is a really good example because that’s one that really should be done within that 24-hour time frame.”

    The reasons for delays were known in 39 per cent of cases. The most common causes for delay were that operating rooms were already in use or surgeons, anesthetists or surgical nursing staff were not available, he said.

    “If you only have minutes or hours to plan, then you really have to have those resources available,” said Forster, adding that it’s difficult for patients and their families when an urgent surgery has to be put off.

    “People are obviously very worried about their loved ones, they’re obviously worried about themselves, they’re often in discomfort as a result . . . . The best thing is to get folks into the OR immediately when they’re supposed to be and minimize those anxieties, minimize their pain.”

    To conduct the study, the researchers examined data from 15,160 adults who had emergency surgery at the Ottawa Hospital between January 2012 and October 2014. They found that 2,820 of these patients, or almost 20 per cent, experienced a delay.

    Researchers spent the first three months of the study collecting data on the demand for emergency surgeries. In January 2013, the hospital began using a new method for scheduling such operations, including dedicating OR time specifically for emergency procedures and spreading elective surgeries more evenly throughout the week.

    After the hospital implemented this new model, there was a significant decrease in the number of urgent surgeries that had to be delayed.

    “There was a massive improvement in patients getting to emergency surgeries on time with this new model,” said Forster. “It might seem counterintuitive, but having unused time in expensive operating rooms could save both money and lives.”

    Still, he said there are certain barriers to implementing a system with operating suites designated for emergency surgeries — which may at times sit unused.

    “People running operations are always looking to make sure their budgets are maintained. It’s difficult to create capacity and then plan not to use it.”

    In a related CMAJ commentary, Dr. David Urbach of Women’s College Hospital, said the study findings provide the most credible evidence to date that long delays to emergency surgery are harmful.

    “These findings will ring true for many of us who have worked in an operating room in a Canadian hospital,” writes Urbach, surgeon-in-chief at the Toronto hospital.

    “Global hospital budgets in an era of constrained public financing force surgical departments to strive for maximum efficiency; most optimize utilization of operating rooms and staff at maximum capacity for elective surgery, while assiduously avoiding any unbudgeted activity.”

    The authors note that even though the study was conducted at one centre, the findings are likely generalizable to other hospitals across the country.

    “We need to think about how we make OR resources available for urgent surgery differently,” said Forster.

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    When it became known last week that Canada was to issue an apology worth $10.5 million to former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Omar Khadr, a Canadian, it came to many as a no-brainer.

    After all, it aligned with Canadian values of freedom, ethics and social justice.

    Morality aside, it wasn’t as if the government had a choice.

    The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in favour of Khadr three times after his lawyers took the case to court, and in 2010 had unequivocally stated that Canadian officials had violated Khadr’s human rights under the Charter and that his treatment “offends the most basic Canadian standards about the treatment of detained youth suspects.”

    There was no chance of the government winning the $20 million civil suit Khadr’s lawyers had launched in 2004.

    “The only question that remained was how much to settle for,” says Star national security reporter Michelle Shephard, author of Guantanamo’s Child: the untold story of Omar Khadr and co-director of an Emmy-nominated documentary with the same name.

    It didn’t seem possible that any Canadians would look askance at making reparations with a man whose life has been shaped by repeated betrayals: his father Al-Qaeda fundraiser Ahmed Said Khadr who took him, an 8-year-old boy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, his mother Maha Elsamnah who supported this, the American military who instead of treating him as a child soldier (he was 15 when captured), detained, tortured and subjected him to an unfair trial, and Canada that — under Jean Chretien and Paul Martin’s Liberals and Harper’s Conservatives — abandoned him in the illegal hellhole that is Guantanamo Bay.

    Oh, but the rage.

    The calls for Omar Khadr to be charged with treason, calls for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to be charged with treason, the outrage that a “terrorist” has been turned into a millionaire, even the spitting on of Canadian hero Lieutenant-General Romeo Dallaire, who has devoted his life to championing the rights of child soldiers.

    So much opinion based on sensationalized perspectives of those against the settlement.

    Anybody out there have an 8-year-old child? One of mine is 9. You know and I know that it’s an age when kids adore their fathers and try to please them. Why would we think that such a child, exposed by his father to violent ideologies, was old enough to have known better by age 15? With that grooming, that child would have no chance.

    It’s opportunistic to turn around now as Conservative leader Andrew Scheer did and call the settlement “a slap in the face to the men and women in uniform.” If the country was so concerned about the impact of Khadr’s role on our troops, why didn’t it simply pull Khadr out of the U.S. and try him here? Our citizen, our justice.

    It’s easy to tear people down when you’ve dehumanized them, easy to condemn those whom you’ve already demonized with a stereotype. Beyond the association with an infamous family, Khadr’s Islamic background seems to be at the root of the facile throwing around of the “terrorist” label.

    In 2015, after an Edmonton court granted Khadr bail, his outspoken lawyer Dennis Edney bluntly told reporters about then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper: “Mr. Harper is a bigot, and Mr. Harper doesn’t like Muslims. I once said publicly to Mr. Harper, ‘When you put your children to bed, ask yourself if you would like your children abused like Omar Khadr?”

    Canadians would not have been indifferent to his fate if Khadr had been a white minor shot in the chest, shackled, made to carry heavy buckets of water, forced into stress positions, made to urinate and used as a human mop, punched and slapped, thrown into solitary and deprived of sleep for weeks, and spent years detained in legal limbo.

    That there is opposition to Khadr’s settlement in the U.S. is expected, even though the soldier it tragically lost was in an act of war; to accept otherwise is potentially costly.

    That Canadians are divided is puzzling. Does the opposition imply that we protect only those citizens we identify with? Does it mean we don’t protect Canadian children who do wrong? How are you a terrorist if you, say, launched a grenade during war? (and in Khadr’s case, this is not definitively established). Must you be in uniform to be a soldier?

    There is a reason the United Nations defines child soldier as any child associated with an armed group below 18 years of age and why, in 2012, the UN called for Khadr to be repatriated to Canada.

    “Regardless of how children are recruited and of their roles, child soldiers are victims, whose participation in conflict bears serious implications for their physical and emotional well-being,” the UN says.

    The settlement sends a strong message that such violation of rights of Canadians will cost us.

    “I’m not celebrating it. It’s a time for reconciliation and I hope that this chapter is closed.” Khadr told Shephard last week.

    While Khadr embodies Canada’s failure to protect its own, he is also a symbol of Canadian compassion.

    There is Edney, and lawyer Nathan Whitling, who worked pro bono for years, there is Dallaire, and there is Muna Abougoush, the Alberta human rights activist who campaigned for his Khadr’s release whom he is engaged to marry. Hopefully not drowned out are the multitudes of ordinary citizens, who have been calling in to radio shows and taking to online forums to express their relief at the news of the settlement and support for Khadr.

    For once in this sorry story, Canada has done the right thing.

    Shree Paradkar tackles issues of race and gender. You can follow her @shreeparadkar

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    A Woodbridge food distribution company has been found guilty of forging food certificates and passing off run-of-the-mill cheese as kosher.

    Creation Foods has been ordered to pay $25,000 for contravening the Food and Drugs Act and selling falsely labelled, non-kosher cheddar to two summer camps for observant Jewish children in 2015.

    This marks the first time in Canada that a case has been brought before a provincial court in relation to the misrepresentation of a kosher food product, according to a statement released by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

    “The fine is significant and may lead to improved future compliance under this statute,” said the notification on the food regulator’s website.

    “This case, and the conviction, reinforces the CFIA’s commitment to food safety, and demonstrates how the agency takes issues related to food fraud seriously. Investigation and legal action will be taken, when warranted.”

    The term “kosher” refers to food that follows Judaism’s strict dietary rules that dictate not only what observant Jews can eat, but how the food is prepared and handled.

    In the case of kosher cheese, a rabbi would be responsible for adding the coagulation enzyme at the first stage and certifying that no non-kosher products touched the kosher cheese on the line. Food certified as kosher often bears a symbol, such as “COR,” that indicates it has been certified as kosher by a mashgiach — a specialized rabbi — and is acceptable to consume.

    Companies that comply with and pay for kosher certification charge a premium to customers. For instance, kosher Gay Lea cheese is about two to three per cent more expensive than non-kosher varieties, Gay Lea spokesperson Robin Redstone told the Star earlier this year.

    The CFIA’s investigation found that the cheese Creation Foods sold to the two summer camps, one in Peterborough and the other in Haliburton, did not meet the requirements of Jewish dietary laws. It also found that the company forged kosher certificates to make the cheese seem like a kosher product.

    These provincial offences charges against Creation Foods were laid in October 2016 after the forged certificates were brought to the CFIA’s attention by The Kashruth Council of Canada, a non-profit that provides kosher certification to about 1,000 businesses across North America — including Gay Lea, the maker of the cheese.

    Kefir Sadiklar, vice-president of the family-owned Creation Foods was also charged criminally at the time, but the charges were withdrawn in June.

    A Kashruth Council employee discovered the phoney kosher certificates in June 2015 when he noticed some of the boxes of cheese that Sadiklar delivered to one of the two overnight camps bore a COR symbol while others did not.

    When the employee asked Sadiklar to send in kosher certificates to verify the “kashruth” of the cheese, Sadiklar sent in a kosher certificate for the wrong food, at first. A few hours later he sent what appeared to be the correct one, said a Kashruth Council synopsis provided to the federal inspection agency and used in the case.

    Other employees scrutinizing the certificates noticed that a single digit in the product code on the kosher certificate had been photoshopped — from a “5” to a “6” — altering the number to make it match the one on the box, and making a non-kosher box of cheese seem kosher.

    In an emailed statement to the Star, Richard Rabkin, managing director of the Kashruth Council of Canada, said he is “pleased” this matter has come to a conclusion.

    “We are thankful to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Canadian judicial system for their diligence in prosecuting this crime. Their efforts demonstrate the severity with which Canada takes its kosher labelling laws and how far it is willing to go to protect kosher consumers. This is a milestone.”

    Sadiklar did not respond to questions relating to the conviction and fine. Earlier this year, Sadiklar told the Star in a brief interview that he has “so many things to say,” but cannot say them while the matter is before the courts.

    He said he thinks the council is “doing the wrong thing against us. They want to see us closing the business, they don’t look for anything else but revenge . . . . We say we didn’t do, and they say we did do. I don’t want to put myself in jeopardy.”

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