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- 07/11/17--04:18: _‘Close to the great...
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- 07/12/17--18:25: _Memorial goes ahead...
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- 07/13/17--11:12: _Police release phot...
- 07/13/17--16:37: _Potential ‘swatting...
- 07/12/17--14:42: California Democrat launches long-shot bid to impeach Trump
- 07/12/17--07:06: Bank of Canada hikes interest rate for first time in 7 years
- 07/12/17--06:00: Tim Hortons operators fear chain is losing its Canadian culture
- 07/12/17--15:15: Mayor John Tory calls for parking authority salaries to be released
- 07/12/17--13:58: Truck driver in fatal crash sentenced to three years in jail
- 07/12/17--15:15: Rate hike won't discourage home purchases, say realtors
- 07/12/17--12:19: Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor bring trash talk to Toronto
- 07/12/17--14:36: Julie Payette appears poised to launch into Governor General role
- 07/12/17--11:15: Who was the nameless man fatally shot by Toronto police?
- 07/12/17--13:41: Bombardier admits it may miss 2017 TTC streetcar delivery target
Transportation authorities are investigating after an Air Canada pilot nearly landed a jet full of passengers on a taxiway where four other planes were waiting, coming within metres of what would have been a disastrous collision.
The incident took place late Friday night at San Francisco International Airport. According to a preliminary summary released Tuesday by Canada’s Transportation Safety Board, the Air Canada jet was already over the taxiway on a landing approach when a crew member from another airline alerted air traffic control that it appeared to be on a collision course.
The Air Canada pilot pulled up, and overflew the first two planes by just 30 metres.
“If it is true, what happened probably came close to the greatest aviation disaster in history,” said retired United Airlines Capt. Ross Aimer, CEO of Aero Consulting Experts.
“If you could imagine an Airbus colliding with four passenger aircraft wide bodies, full of fuel and passengers, then you can imagine how horrific this could have been,” he said.
Pilots and aviation experts who spoke to the Star described the incident as rare, and said that consequences would have been severe if the pilot hadn’t changed course.
“Certainly the potential was there for something catastrophic to have happened,” said Greg McConnell, chairman of the Canadian Federal Pilots Association.
Flight AC759 took off from Toronto at around 9:25 p.m. and according to Air Canada had 135 passengers and five crew members on board.
Just before midnight, the plane was cleared to land on a runway at the San Francisco airport. But according to a statement from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration the pilot “inadvertently” lined up for a taxiway that runs parallel to the runway instead — where there were four aircraft waiting to take off.
An air traffic controller sent the Airbus A320 around, and the plane “landed without incident” on the second approach, said the FAA.
John Dejak, president of Aviotec International, an airport and aviation consultancy firm, questioned how any pilot could have mistaken the taxiway for the landing strip.
“I’m frankly baffled,” he said “It would be very difficult to confuse the lights of the taxiway to the lights of the runway.”
Runways are “lit up like a Christmas tree,” particularly at night, and look very different from taxiways, said Greg Feith, a former senior air safety investigator with the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
Runway lights are brighter, clearly defined, and a different colour than the taxiway lights, he said. Experts said technology in the cockpit should have also told the pilots they were off course.
Feith said he expects investigators to look at whether all the lighting and guidance instruments were working at the time, determine the procedures the pilots used, talk to the crew about what they saw inside and outside the plan, and determine to what extent human error played a role.
Audio posted on the website LiveATC.net, which catalogues air traffic control calls, offers a window into the incident.
The Air Canada pilot asks if he’s clear to land, saying he sees some lights on the runway.
Air traffic control says he’s clear — there’s nobody else on the runway.
The pilot confirms, and then another voice cuts in:
‘Where’s this guy going? He’s on the taxiway.”
The pilot is quickly told to go around, and the pilot complies.
“Air Canada flew directly over us,” a United Airlines pilot later says.
“Yeah I saw that, guys,” says another voice.
According to the Transportation Safety Board summary, after missing the first two planes by 30 metres, the Air Canada flight overflew the third and fourth aircraft by 60 metres and 90 metres respectively. The report says the “closest lateral proximity” of the Air Canada jet to one the planes on the taxiway was roughly nine metres.
Local weather forecasts indicate that that the sky was clear at the time of the incident. According to the National Weather Service, “no significant weather was observed” at San Francisco International Airport on Friday.
In an email, Air Canada spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick declined to identify the pilot or say how much flight experience he had. He declined to answer questions about whether the pilot has been removed from duty or if he was believed to have been at fault.
“We are still investigating the circumstances and therefore have no additional information to offer,” Fitzpatrick said.
Keith Holloway, a spokesperson for the U.S. NTSB, said the agency was notified about the incident roughly a day after it happened, and is taking the lead on the investigation, with help from the FAA.
“We are collecting flight information and we are going to also talk to air traffic control communicators . . . to see what information they can provide for us,” said Holloway, who added that the NTSB would also likely interview the Air Canada crew.
Holloway said that NTSB probes can take between 12 and 18 months, but because the San Francisco incident didn’t result in any injuries or damage to aircraft, it would likely be completed sooner.
A spokesperson for the Canadian government’s Transportation Safety Board said the agency would act as an “accredited representative’ in the U.S.-led investigation. The agency’s role would be to facilitate information sharing between Air Canada and the U.S. investigators, he said.
With files from Star wire services
With files from Star wire services
An Ottawa-based foot specialist had his licence revoked after he admitted to treating clients with an implant he manufactured, which wasn’t approved by Health Canada, and used without their full knowledge or consent.
The College of Chiropodists has identified 25 people who were treated with Pierre Dupont’s foot stent — an implant used to treat flat feet or fallen arches — between 2014 and 2016, as opposed to the Health Canada approved stent known as HyProCure.
The college also found that before procedures, clients signed a consent form that indicated the HyProCure stent would be inserted, when in fact Dupont implanted his own stent during surgery.
He was also found to have failed to keep an adequate record of the procedures from initial examinations to post-op station visits.
This was the second time Dupont has had his licence revoked. In 2004, he had a disciplinary hearing in front of the provincial body that regulates dentists, which found he had failed to meet the standards of care.
At his disciplinary hearing Tuesday afternoon, Dupont, 60, admitted to several counts of professional misconduct and apologized to the patients and the college for his actions.
“It was inconsistent with my own belief that all patients should be treated professionally and with respect,” Dupont told the hearing. “You have a right to be angry.”
According to the records filed at the hearing, Dupont didn’t believe he needed to get Health Canada approval for his stent because “the nature, composition and design was the same,” and he didn’t have an intention to sell his stent to other health-care professionals.
Clients at the hearing made impact statements to the board to illustrate the negative effects of Dupont’s stent on their day-to-day lives.
Erika Brathwaite, who initially came forward with her case to the CBC, told the college how Dupont’s stent has completely changed her life, putting a strain on her finances, her physical movement and her mental health. She will soon undergo major bone and tendon surgery to get her foot back to normal.
“This experience with Pierre Dupont has impacted my life catastrophically, has left me uncertain of my future, has seen me sacrifice my anonymity,” said Brathwaite. “Ultimately, I just want to get my foot fixed so I can have the happy, active, life I had before.”
Other clients echoed similar complaints. George Morrison, who flew in from Nova Scotia for the hearing, will need two more expensive surgeries to get the implants replaced.
“All my days start with a ‘Calculation of the agony for the chronic ankle pain,’ ” Morrison told the college. “Daily activities revolve around how much ankle pain I can tolerate.”
The college concluded that Dupont’s conduct was “disgraceful, dishonourable and unprofessional,” and violated many provincial health regulations as well as the Food and Drugs Act.
In addition to revoking his licence to practise chiropody in Ontario, the college fined Dupont $30,000 and gave him an oral reprimand, the details of which will be part of the public register and the public record.
“You have brought discredit to yourself and the college,” said the board member reading the decision. “You have put the profession in jeopardy.”
The college’s counsel, Jordan Glick, said that this was a unique case because “he preyed on vulnerable patients and experimented on them without their knowledge.”
Dupont was previously a dentist for 10 years in Quebec, where several patients made complaints against him. Among other things, he failed to diagnose a patient’s broken jaw and prescribed medication that was not required or in inappropriate doses, tribunal documents show.
Dupont graduated from the podiatry program at the Université du Québec á Trois-Rivières and made attempts to legally practise podiatry in Quebec — a move challenged by that province’s College of Podiatrists.
Dupont later moved to Ottawa and was given a certificate of registration to practise by the College of Chiropodists.
Dupont didn’t speak to the media Tuesday but in 2016, he told the Star that when he applied to the college, he disclosed his previous misconduct in an interview.
“They interview me. They do their due diligence,” he said. “Everything has been disclosed and presented to a committee, the admission committee, and they made a decision accordingly.”
His lawyer Megan Savard made clear in the hearing that the college is not pursuing incompetence against Dupont, and any allegations of physical harm heard in the impact statements had not been tested or commented on by expert opinion.
Dupont has agreed to pay a portion of the costs of the college’s investigation into this matter, Savard said.
“This is evidence that he is truly remorseful and understands the seriousness of his misconduct,” she said.
Savard read statements on behalf of Dupont’s friends, family and colleagues that said he was “a caring man, a thoughtful practitioner” and “that he cares about the people in his life.”
“He may have to start over in a new line of work at an age most people retire,” she said.
A fight that broke out early Sunday morning at a Pizza Pizza and posted on YouTube began with a complaint that an order was taking too long, a witness told the Star.
Paul Michael, 23, was at the restaurant when the brawl began at around 2 a.m. He said it started when a woman entered the restaurant on Queen St. E., at Broadview Ave., and complained that her pizza order was late.
“They didn’t call her to tell her it was ready so in the middle of the Pizza Pizza, she started screaming how she wasn’t satisfied,” Michael said.
“She was making this big scene and then someone else said something and one person just started grabbing another. The big thing just started happening when she jumped over the counter and started throwing the chips on the floor. So everything just started going crazy.”
That’s when Michael started recording. The video has been watched almost 10,000 times on YouTube as of early Tuesday afternoon.
“Everyone started pushing each other,” he said. “I don’t know how those other people really got involved. I just sat there and filmed the whole event.”
Toronto police were called at 3:04 a.m. Const. Caroline de Kloet said one person was charged with public intoxication.
She said there were about 10 people involved in the fight, but there were no criminal charges laid.
“At first police weren’t really sure what they were fighting about,” said de Kloet. “It’s difficult to know when there’s this many intoxicated people.”
Michael said after police were called, the group calmed down.
And as for the woman who made the complaint: “She did get the pizza. She was yelling about it as she got it. She ended up throwing it on the floor.”
THUNDER BAY—With his collection of clown dolls as a backdrop, high-profile lawyer Sandy Zaitzeff faces the video camera, his emotions erratic.
During the next six minutes, he pulls off his T-shirt, parades his bruised torso, alleges unnamed assailants tried to steal his fortune, expresses anguish over his dead son, then gets on his knees to propose marriage.
The video is part of the dramatic and public fall of the class action litigator who built a reputation as a confident winner — the man who took on the RCMP.
This rambling, cryptic monologue — recorded by an acquaintance at one of the lawyer’s many houses and then posted to YouTube — has been viewed more than 40,000 times and has fuelled gossip as locals wonder how it might explain what immediately followed: a breakneck series of criminal and civil allegations that not only saw Zaitzeff arrested on sexual assault charges but have also drawn in the mayor and police chief.
Only slivers of information about the cases have been made publicly available. This means the strange YouTube video offers one of the few clues about a scandal that has increased scrutiny on a city already under pressure from a series of unrelated investigations.
The Star went to Thunder Bay to learn more about the video, talked to police and one of Zaitzeff’s alleged sexual assault victims, reviewed court documents, and visited six Zaitzeff properties, including the cottage near where his wife disappeared 17 years ago.
Since Zaitzeff’s on-camera outbursts, he has been arrested and charged with multiple counts of sexual assault, including allegedly inviting a minor to touch his penis.
“Sandy Zaitzeff denies the allegations that have been made against him and looks forward to the day when all the evidence can be heard in the appropriate forum,” said his lawyer Scott Hutchison.
There are five accusers. Most of the assaults allegedly happened last fall, before and after the video was reportedly recorded.
“Sandy, being a person of authority and a well-known lawyer, used that to his advantage to assault all of us,” one of the alleged victims told the Star. Her identity cannot be revealed because of a court-ordered publication ban, common in sexual assault cases.
“I’ve never seen a psychiatrist before all of this. I now see a psychiatrist. He made me feel so small,” she said.
The Zaitzeff charges marked the beginning of a turbulent few months at Thunder Bay’s new downtown courthouse. None of the Zaitzeff allegations, nor any of the other allegations that follow in this article, have been proven in court.
While Zaitzeff sat in the MacDougall St. jail awaiting bail, he was sued for defamation by Mayor Keith Hobbs. On the same day, Zaitzeff was sued by lawyer Chris Watkins, who once worked with Zaitzeff and claimed Zaitzeff took his clients and threatened his life.
Zaitzeff’s lawyer, Hutchison, said that neither lawsuit “has ever been served.”
Two months later, Thunder Bay police Chief J.P. Levesque was charged with breach of trust and obstruction of justice for allegedly disclosing confidential information about the mayor. Exactly what information was disclosed and to whom, and whether it is connected to the Zaitzeff allegations, is not publicly known.
Court-ordered publication bans and meagre details in court documents do little to untangle the legal mess. Zaitzeff and the police chief refused to comment for this article. Mayor Hobbs told the Star by email that as he is a “witness” in the Zaitzeff case, and as there is a publication ban, he will not make any statements.
All of this is unfolding against a backdrop of simmering racial tension in Thunder Bay, with the police force under investigation for how it has handled Indigenous deaths and disappearances. The police services board, meanwhile, is under investigation over how it supervises the police force. And York Regional Police was recently brought in to investigate the deaths of two Indigenous teens.
Alexander (Sandy) Zaitzeff Sr., 68, is a self-proclaimed millionaire who has worked on some major class action cases. He gained national attention as one of the main architects of a successful class action lawsuit filed by women against the RCMP, alleging workplace harassment. The Mounties established a $100-million fund to settle claims.
Involved at the earliest stages of the case was former Mountie Heli Kijanen — the woman in the YouTube video facing Zaitzeff as he kneels and asks her to marry him, according to the lawsuit filed by Hobbs, who was one of those in attendance to watch Zaitzeff’s “intoxicated” proposal.
“Baby, I love you. I have always loved you, and I promise you I will marry you,” the woman in the video says, before kissing Zaitzeff.
Kijanen refused to comment for this article. It is not known what, if any, relationship she currently has with Zaitzeff.
Also present at the bizarre scene unfolding in Zaitzeff’s house on Farrand St. are the clown dolls — about 20 to 30 of them on shelves in a large room.
“Every one of these is at least a million-dollar case,” Zaitzeff says in the video, pointing at the figurines. “These are my clowns for only half of my career. Only half.”
If Zaitzeff’s boasts are true, the longtime lawyer has come a long way since 1951. That’s when his parents, Ann and Victor, fled Communist China, where his grandfather owned a vodka distillery, with $50, two rugs and 2-year-old Sandy, according to Ann’s obituary.
The Zaitzeff video was recorded on or around Oct. 25, 2016, according to court documents. Twoof the sexual assaults had allegedly occurred the night before. Another allegedly occurred two nights after. None of the victims can be named because of publication bans on their identities.
Zaitzeff had been grieving his son’s death two years earlier, said a man who answered the door at another of Zaitzeff’s houses and who identified himself as “Guy.” The man said he was asked to look after the house for Zaitzeff.
In June 2014, Sandy Zaitzeff Jr., then 33 years old, was on crutches, hobbled by a broken ankle, when he slipped and fell while getting a snack from the fridge, suffered a severe head injury and died instantly, the obituary said.
Visibly distraught in the video, Zaitzeff shakes his head and breathes deeply as though to regain his composure, then says: “I have PT f-----g SD. Why? Because my son died.” He cries. “That’s a big f-----g event, in anybody’s f-----g life!”
His lawyer, Hutchison, told the Star: “There is no doubt that Sandy has experienced tragedy in his life and like few other persons has suffered enormous pain. It would be profoundly unfair and cruel if that pain were now somehow used as an excuse to vilify him.”
Zaitzeff has a drinking problem, says a lawsuit filed by his former law partner. The alleged sex assault victim interviewed by the Star said Zaitzeff prefers expensive vodka.
At one point during the bizarre video, Zaitzeff takes off his black T-shirt and raises his arms to reveal what look like bruises around his midsection.
“Watch the bruises on me,” he says. “That’s only half my f-----g body … They took me down. I’m not going to say who. I’m not going to press charges. I don’t want that. I just want the world to f-----g know they took me down, they kicked me around and now I have absolute f-----g proof that they tried to fraud (sic) me. They have a forged f-----g will, where, where, where, they claim, they allege, I left my fortune … to them.”
The YouTube video — it is not known who uploaded it — is titled “Sandy Zaitzeff in what seems like a rather shady production.” In the video, it appears to be nighttime, and Hobbs is shown sitting with others, including a woman introduced as one of Zaitzeff’s lawyers and a man named Gerald, who tends to his houses, lawns and cars. Hobbs is heard cracking a joke; he seems relaxed, but otherwise says little. Hobbs told the Star this week, “I am not (Zaitzeff’s) friend.”
In March, as Zaitzeff sat in jail, Hobbs sued the lawyer, detailing how their relationship had soured. Based on Hobbs’ statement of claim, it seems that some time after the video was recorded, Hobbs may have been involved in building the sexual assault case against Zaitzeff.
Hobbs’ $950,000 defamation claim suggests the video was posted as retaliation. Zaitzeff, the suit alleges, told the mayor he would “submarine and bury him as a result of Mayor Keith Hobbs indicating that he would be contacting the police with information concerning serious allegations of sexual impropriety.”
The first charges were laid against Zaitzeff on Nov. 21.
After a text from Zaitzeff saying the mayor “would regret the day that he was born,” the video was uploaded, the lawsuit alleges.
The suit was filed against both Zaitzeff and Kijanen, as Hobbs said he believes one or the other posted the video. Though the lawsuit does not make it clear exactly how he has been defamed, Hobbs said he has been “held up to ridicule, contempt and hatred by the public,” his personal and professional reputation has been “severely damaged” and his prospects for another term “impaired.”
Hobbs is not the only prominent Thunder Bay resident to claim Zaitzeff hurt his career.
At the same time as the mayor’s lawsuit was filed, Chris Watkins, a former law partner of Zaitzeff, alleged breach of contract and “purposeful infliction of emotional harm” in a $28-million lawsuit. The suit claimed that over several years, Zaitzeff took Watkins’ clients and made a false report to the law society that Watkins forged signatures on legal documents.
Watkins said that in 2011, he agreed to work with the “washed up” and “retired old lawyer” to jointly pursue class action cases. He claimed Zaitzeff took control of three cases that Watkins says his firm was instrumental in developing, including the RCMP suit, then froze out Watkins and left him, his firm and family “abused, broke and bereft,” the suit alleges.
Watkins said Zaitzeff’s behaviour was possibly driven by “drinking and alcoholism” and “malice, greed, (and) mental health issues.”
The lawsuit also alleges Zaitzeff threatened Watkins’ life, telling others he would “take him out.”
“(Zaitzeff) had hired a highly trained CDN military person with war service and placed him on his payroll during the relevant period,” the lawsuit claims.
Meanwhile, Zaitzeff has hired Marie Henein’s law firm, which represented former radio star Jian Ghomeshi, to deal with his considerable and lurid list of charges.
Those include four counts of assault; eight counts of sexual assault; and one count each of sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching, mischief under $5,000 for allegedly damaging a door, breach of recognizance, unauthorized possession of a firearm and improper storage of a firearm, according to court documents.
The gun charges stem from a police visit to one of Zaitzeff’s houses on Nov. 20, when an officer allegedly found two 12-gauge shotguns and a semi-automatic rifle, all allegedly unlicensed.
His law offices have been cleared out, said a receptionist who works in the same building, and his licence to practise law has been suspended. Zaitzeff did not tell the Law Society of Upper Canada about his charges, the regulator said.
As a condition of his bail, Zaitzeff had to give up his passport, cannot drink or buy liquor, and was ordered to attend the Bellwood addiction treatment centre in Toronto. He recently returned from Bellwood to Thunder Bay and is living with a friend who posted bail.
Zaitzeff is allowed to visit his cottage on nearby Amethyst Harbour in the company of one of the two people who bailed him out of jail.
It was at the cottage, on the night of Oct. 2, 2000, that Zaitzeff’s wife Marilyn, then 50, was last seen, reportedly leaving the cottage and getting on her Sea-Doo around 9 p.m.
By 11 p.m., Sandy Zaitzeff had called 911 and the coast guard. He and Marilyn had been alone in the house that night, the OPP said.
Marilyn Zaitzeff was a physical fitness enthusiast who often rode her Sea-Doo, sometimes at night and sometimes without a life-jacket or wetsuit. On that night, she was reportedly not wearing a wetsuit, and no life-jackets were missing from the cottage, according to the OPP, which investigated the case at the time.
The waters, shoreline and neighbouring islands were searched, and the next morning the Sea-Doo was found a kilometre away, overturned in the water not far from shore. The Sea-Doo was “undamaged, inspected to be mechanically sound and had a third of a tank of gas,” according to the OPP.
While Marilyn is presumed drowned, OPP Det. Supt. Dave Truax told the Star: “This is an open missing person investigation where the individual has not been located.”
“At the time, the circumstances were deemed suspicious, yet there was no evidence of foul play,” added Truax, who is the head of OPP criminal investigations.
Zaitzeff’s lawyer Hutchison said his client is “a respected lawyer, has battled the loss of his beloved son, addiction issues and health issues. He will answer these charges in court at the appropriate time and continue to work towards his own wellness.”
WASHINGTON—A California Democrat has followed through on threats to file impeachment articles against U.S. President Donald Trump, but there remains little indication that the effort will progress in the near future.
The resolution filed Wednesday by Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., is largely identical to a draft Sherman floated last month — one that accuses Trump of obstructing justice by “threatening, and then terminating” former FBI Director James B. Comey and includes language lifted from the impeachment charges against President Richard M. Nixon.
The four-page resolution garnered a single co-sponsor upon introduction: Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, who has also been an outspoken proponent of impeachment proceedings against Trump but has not filed a resolution of his own.
The filing of an impeachment resolution against a president in itself is not terribly uncommon. Since Nixon, individual members of Congress have sought the impeachment of presidents Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. What is much more serious is the launch of a formal inquiry by the House Judiciary Committee, and the subsequent adoption of impeachment articles by the House, resulting in a Senate trial.
In an interview Wednesday, Sherman said his decision to file the resolution Tuesday has driven by the House calendar and the timing of his own review process — not by the revelation Tuesday that Trump’s son accepted a meeting with a lawyer tied to the Russian government with the understanding that the lawyer might have information damaging to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to share.
But, Sherman said, the emails released by Donald Trump Jr. “add credibility” to the notion that Trump fired Comey in order to derail the federal investigation — one that now appears certain to envelop his son.
“Clearly you can no longer say that collusion is an unsubstantiated fantasy of crazy leftists,” Sherman said.
But it remains fantastic to think that the impeachment push might proceed in any meaningful way in the coming months. Highlighting that reality is the lack of Democratic support for the push, let alone backing from Republicans. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has called for the completion of the pending investigations by congressional committees and by special counsel Robert Mueller before entertaining the notion.
Green said Wednesday that he signed on “to see how the House responds” and reserved the right to file impeachment articles of his own.
Two other key Democrats said Wednesday they had doubts about Sherman’s push.
California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which is probing Trump’s Russia ties, said he was “keeping my focus on following the facts.”
“From my point of view, it’s far too early to be thinking about where the investigation will conclude,” he said.
And Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., a law professor who sits on the House Judiciary Committee and has talked since January about the likelihood of a Trump impeachment, said he was surprised by Sherman’s move. He said he would review the resolution but might not sign on.
“Impeachment is a mixed question of law, facts and politics,” Raskin said. “The law and the facts are beginning to crystallize, but the politics are just not there yet without Republicans willing to break from partisan discipline.”
Sherman downplayed the lack of support from his Democratic colleagues, and he said the next step was to convince the Republican-controlled Judiciary Committee to hold hearings.
“It’s always nice to have cosponsors,” he said. “But I don’t think that’s the key thing here. The key thing is to get the ball rolling.”
Sherman filed the article a day after the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., acknowledged that he met with a Russian lawyer during the campaign. An intermediary for the lawyer promised damaging information from the Russian government about Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Trump Jr. said he received no information about Clinton at the meeting.
The president has questioned his own intelligence agencies and whether the Russians actually interfered in the election. However, federal authorities say they have definitive evidence that the Kremlin meddled in the U.S. presidential election.
When John Tory first announced his team in 2014, his executive committee from among city councilors, I wrote a column about how he’d excluded downtown progressives from positions of influence.
Except Pam McConnell, whom he’d named a ceremonial deputy mayor.
It was a move about which I was dismissive: “One token gesture,” I called it. I said she and two other ceremonial deputies were “human props to be trotted out for events that require ribbon-cutting and civic-unity platitude uttering.”
Shortly after that, in a committee room at city hall, while I was chatting with another councillor, McConnell sneered at me from across the room: “I’m nobody’s window dressing,” she said.
In the wake of her death late last week, I’ve been thinking about how she was right about that.
She hasn’t been mere window dressing during John Tory’s term of office, and she wasn’t in her more than three decades of public service.
Instead, she leaves a formidable legacy that shaped her ward and the city.
By now, many who are most interested will have read many remembrances and appreciations of her life and work. These include, in a bit of charming eccentricity, Joe Warmington of the Toronto Sun, who quoted Donald Trump’s 2012 take that “Pam was a tough negotiator,” and musician and writer Dave Bidini, who revealed that McConnell had been a friend of Neil Young’s and had a permanent spot on the guest list of every show he ever played, and a few of us who recalled how she was tackled (accidentally) by Rob Ford during a city council debate at the height of those scandalous years.
But McConnell was a serious presence at city hall and a deliberate speaker, not often a participant in the bits of monkey business and jokey banter that sometimes overtake that body during long meetings.
Her record as a city councillor was substantial.
Most of what you’d consider her legacy is in what she got done, much of it fixing mistakes of the past.
Remembrances in this newspaper and one by John Lorinc at Spacing magazine recalled her steady hand as chair of the police board during a turbulent time and her work to build a community centre in St. James Town after that neighbourhood had suffered years of neglect.
You can look at the new neighbourhoods that have started to spring up in the south end of Corktown and in the Distillery District to see her efforts at overseeing the building of vibrant places, communities with magnificent spaces in them.
The Corktown Common park, built by Waterfront Toronto in her ward, with her help, is a stunning example of a park that can be the centrepiece of a community. When it opened, it seemed scarcely possible to imagine penny-pinching Toronto had actually built a place that nice. The same could be said of the newly revamped Berczy Park and its dog-sculpture fountain, reopened just days before McConnell died.
Perhaps there’s no bigger example of her legacy, nor a more influential one, than Regent Park, Toronto’s largest housing project and its oldest. The project to redevelop those units and rebuild a community with private market units both financing the work and joining the neighbourhoood is one she worked on for years. She worked on a “social development plan,” as part of it, to ensure the neighbourhood would have the kind of resources and amenities that would enable its population to thrive, and help make it a great place to live.
McConnell believed in it enough that she, herself, bought a market-rent condo in the revamped Regent Park.
By every account, the pool and park she helped get built at the centre of the neighbourhood is wonderful.
The project, itself, has become a model for the revitalization of other neighbourhoods in the city.
Much of what she did could be a model for others, explicitly so in her biggest project as deputy mayor this term. John Tory gave her the task of preparing an anti-poverty strategy for the city, a project he said was his chief reason for being in public life and which both he and McConnell said countered the perception her appointment amounted to mere window-dressing.
Indeed, the poverty-reduction strategy she came back with, endorsed by most prominent social agencies and anti-poverty groups in the city, is no token gesture; it is a sweeping 20-year plan, containing 71 concrete proposals, adopted in principle by city council.
It is only partly implemented, and the prospect of fully funding it has sometimes been seen as a hurdle. “Aspirational,” Tory called it when it first passed in principle. Budget processes since have had nail-biting fights about whether the dollars would come through.
At a memorial service for McConnell on the weekend, Tory suggested the implementation of the rest of that plan should proceed to honour her memory. “Her real legacy will be the work she did to help other people,” he said. “We’ll have to move forward, and I think it will be an extra impetus behind this, knowing she would want us to implement (the poverty-reduction strategy) as quickly, and to do as much for people who are struggling, as we can.”
There could be no more fitting tribute to McConnell’s career than to see her plan carried on, and see the goals behind it embraced more fully by her colleagues every day at work.
She left quite a legacy. And a big incomplete project for her colleagues to complete. It is a great life’s work from a public servant, one it’s now up to others to carry on.
Edward Keenan writes on city issues email@example.com . Follow: @thekeenanwire
Edward Keenan writes on city issues firstname.lastname@example.org . Follow: @thekeenanwire
The Bank of Canada raised its key interest rate Wednesday for the first time since September 2010, but said there is “no predetermined path” for further increases and that rate policy would be examined on a quarter-by-quarter basis.
Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz called the rate increase to 0.75 per cent, which will immediately impact adjustable-rate mortgages and home equity lines of credit, “a symptom” of a growing economy that is now expected to reach full capacity by the end of the year.
Soon after the announcement, Royal Bank of Canada, the Bank of Montreal, TD Bank, Scotiabank and CIBC all announced they were increasing their prime rates — the rate banks use to set interest rates for variable-rate mortgages and other loans — to 2.95 per cent from 2.7 per cent, effective Thursday.
Canada’s central bank had cut interest rates in 2015 to help the economy navigate a plunge in oil prices, but Poloz said recently that those rate cuts had done their job.
On Wednesday, Poloz cautioned that forecasting any future rate trend is hampered by heightened geopolitical uncertainty for trade and investment due to such factors as U.S. policy under President Donald Trump and the outlook for world oil prices.
The bank must also consider any potentially negative impacts of rate hikes on the oil patch and on consumers, who Poloz called especially vulnerable due to historically high levels of household debt.
The bank said its new outlook for real GDP growth is 2.8 per cent for 2017 (up 0.2 of a percentage point from April), 2.0 per cent in 2018 (up 0.1 of a percentage point from April) and 1.6 per cent in 2019 (down 0.2 of a percentage point from April).
The hike comes as inflation remains below the central bank’s target, although it said lower food prices, electricity rebates in Ontario and changes in automobile pricing are expected to fade.
The Bank of Canada said it expects inflation to return to its 2 per cent target by mid-2018. Inflation is expected to average below 2 per cent this year and next, and reach 2.1 per cent by 2019, slightly above target.
“We need to be targeting inflation in the future (since) any action we take is only going to have its full effect in 18 to 24 months,” Poloz said.
“Growth is broadening across industries and regions and therefore becoming more sustainable,” the bank’s governing council added in a statement. “As the adjustment to lower oil prices is largely complete, both the goods and services sectors are expanding.”
Jean-Paul Lam, an associate professor of economics at the University of Waterloo and former assistant chief economist at the Bank of Canada, said that even with a rapidly growing economy and the labour market performing well “there is no urgency to raise interest rates.
“Inflation and inflation expectations remain well below their target of 2 per cent. There are risks to growth and inflation coming from potential trade barriers, geopolitical events and a U.S. economy that is facing slower growth due to the uncertainty coming from the Trump administration.”
Arlene Kish, senior principal economist at IHS Global, said that although rates remain very low by historical standards, “diverse growth, the temporary pass through of weak inflation and the labour market slack absorption supports another increase in the overnight rate later this year, in October 2017.”
And while there was no additional guidance on the timing of further rate hikes, the Bank of Canada said withdrawal of some of the monetary policy stimulus in the economy is now warranted. Kish noted that there was also no indication that the bank would pause.
The Bank of Canada’s next rate announcement is set for Sept. 6.
Tim Hortons coffee and doughnuts are about as closely linked with the Canadian identity as hockey and universal health care, but the institution is under attack.
That’s the view of many of the chain’s franchisees, who are chafing under the corporate ownership of Restaurant Brands International Inc., the fast-food conglomerate that also runs Burger King and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen. They claim that efforts to squeeze money from restaurant operators are destroying Tim Hortons’ nice-guy image and forcing them to scale back community programs, including youth hockey.
Restaurant Brands, which subsumed Tim Hortons in 2014, is backed by the Brazilian investment firm 3G Capital — famous for pursuing hard-nosed deals and then aggressively managing expenses. At Tim Hortons, corporate is now charging franchisees more for everything from rent to bacon, which they say is hurting their bottom lines, boosting prices at the register and irking customers.
“We won’t be able to give the service that we’re known for,” said franchisee David Hughes, who owns five Tim Hortons in southern Alberta. “These guys have turned everything into a profit centre.”
Tensions between franchisees and corporate bosses are common throughout the restaurant industry. But the rift at Tim Hortons has been especially contentious. Hughes and about half of the chain’s Canadian owners formed a coalition in March called the Great White North Franchisee Association, aiming to amplify their concerns.
Last month, the group filed a class-action suit arguing that Restaurant Brands executives have breached their obligations to local operators.
As Tim Hortons management charges higher prices for coffee and other supplies, restaurants have had to lay off workers, the franchisees say. Store owners are stocking up on bags of sugar at Costco, where it’s cheaper than what the corporate parent charges. Even knives and scissors are more expensive under 3G.
Daniel Schwartz, a 3G partner who serves as Restaurant Brands’ chief executive officer, said that the company has met with the Great White North Franchisee Association. But he doesn’t want to argue with franchisees in public.
“There’s been a lot of change,” Schwartz, 36, said in an interview last month. “With change comes anxiety and uncertainty.”
Tim Gilks, a former Tim Hortons executive who runs a commodities-consulting firm, says the company is now charging each restaurant about $13,750 more for coffee a year. While commodity costs have gone up for everyone, corporate is pushing prices well beyond that increase, he said.
Diners are noticing the changes, especially the higher menu prices, Hughes said. In Alberta, cups of coffee are now 2 cents more expensive than they used to be. That doesn’t sound like much, but coffee drinkers are creatures of habit — and even a small uptick may register with them.
Franchisees have been increasingly vocal since 2014, when 3G and Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway first combined Tim Hortons with Burger King. That deal created Restaurant Brands, which located its headquarters in Tim Hortons’ longtime home of Oakville.
Wade MacCallum, who owns six Tim Hortons in Canada, said he was told things would be “business as usual” when Restaurant Brands took over. Instead, 3G has overhauled everything, he said.
“The 3G business model is based on cost cutting,” said MacCallum, who serves on the board of the franchisee association. “I don’t think there’s a part of the business they haven’t touched.”
It’s not just restaurant operations that are affected, franchisees say. Restaurant Brands also has cut local marketing from a franchisee-funded advertising pool. Hughes said his area used to get between $60,000 and $100,000 a year to spend on community programs such as hockey, camps for children, swimming days and local barbecues.
“You’ve got three or four generations that have been brought up with Tim Hortons,” said Hughes, who runs the Great White North group. “We were involved in the community. Restaurant Brands, they’re not interested in that. All those things that we are famous for — the kids’ camps — those are the things that make us different than everyone else.”
Restaurant Brands said that there’s a dedicated team that supports franchisees across North America, and the company has been focused on cultivating the Tim Hortons brand over the long term since it took over in 2014.
“We are very proud that in each year since, we have been able to grow same-store sales and franchisee profitability in both Canada and the U.S.,” the company said in an emailed statement.
Restaurant Brands also has rewarded investors, with the stock gaining 28 per cent last year and about 30 per cent so far in 2017.
But there have been recent signs of a slowdown. Tim Hortons’ same-store sales slipped 0.1 per cent last quarter, missing analysts’ projections. That could add pressure to mend ties with franchisees.
The chain was founded more than 50 years ago by hockey legend Tim Horton, who first sold coffee and pastries for 10 cents each. The operation — known by customers as “Tims” — has since grown to about 4,600 locations globally, becoming a ubiquitous presence in Canadian shopping centres, airports and street corners from Vancouver to Halifax.
Tim Hortons is critical to Restaurant Brands, which got more than 70 per cent of its revenue last year from charging the franchisees for food, equipment, royalties and rent. That makes it more lucrative than Burger King, whose franchisees don’t have the same purchasing deal.
Sales are also higher at Tim Hortons, which last year averaged $1.39 million a store, versus $1.16 million for Burger King.
In its lawsuit, the Great White North association is seeking $500 million in damages. The group said it filed the complaint because of the parent company’s “lack of transparency and unwillingness to answer important questions.”
Last month, the association announced that about half of U.S.-based Tim Hortons store owners had also joined the movement. There are about 700 Tim Hortons shops in the U.S.
“We built this brand one store at a time, and it was based on that community thing,” Hughes said. “Somehow, we’ve got to get back to that.”
Mayor John Tory says a loophole preventing disclosure of top executive salaries at the Toronto Parking Authority should be closed and those figures released.
“All the money in the Toronto Parking Authority is public money,” he told the Star Wednesday. “I asked today that they just find a way to make this information public.”
His comments were prompted by a Star story Tuesday about how the salaries of executives, including President Lorne Persiko, who is currently on administrative leave pending an ongoing investigation, are kept secret.
Official requests for salary information have been denied by the parking authority and fought with a hired employment law firm. The Star has appealed to the province’s information commissioner.
While the salaries of many heads of city agencies and corporations appear on the provincial public disclosure (Sunshine) list, Persiko’s does not.
The city says that’s because they are exempt under public disclosure rules. As a self-sufficient agency they receive no public funds.
But the arms-length agency, which manages the city’s more than 200 Green P parking lots and 17,500 on-street parking spaces is responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars of city assets. According to TPA documents, 50 cents of every dollar it earns is transferred to the city.
“This notion to me that there aren’t any public funds . . . to me is incredibly lacking in transparency,” Tory said. “They’re all public funds.”
City spokesperson Wynna Brown said the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act outlines what is an unreasonable invasion of personal privacy, and that an individual’s salary is “generally seen” as an unjustified invasion. Salary ranges and benefits are not protected information.
Brown provided salary ranges in an email Wednesday.
For Persiko’s president position, the base salary range is $246,500 to $333,500 — which is in line with what the heads of other city agencies earn.
That range does not include taxable benefits, which can include things like bonuses and parking. It’s unclear what, if any, taxable benefits Persiko and other executives receive.
In 2016, Dianne Young, CEO of Exhibition Place earned $231,629 including taxable benefits, the Toronto Zoo’s CEO John Tracogna made $252,361 and TTC CEO Andy Byford was paid $354,810.
The base salary range for other top executives at the parking authority is between $168,969 and $202,772.
In representations responding to the Star’s appeal, the parking authority also argued that the information should not be released because it was held in a software system used for human resources purposes and should be excluded from disclosure rules.
Tory called the inability to disclose the salaries a “loophole” — one that should be closed and the rules changed.
“What I’ve asked is they just find a way to fix that, because I think it should be public.”
The parking authority is currently under new direction, with interim president Andy Koropeski appointed by a temporary watchdog board on Monday.
The board, now chaired by City Manager Peter Wallace, was put in place by council last week after the city’s auditor general presented her findings into a North York land deal that has since been halted.
Auditor General Beverly Romeo-Beehler found the deal being pursued by the parking authority for a parcel of land at Finch Ave. West and Arrow Rd. would have seen the parking authority overpay by $2.63 million.
Brown said Wallace is “committed to ensuring appropriate transparency.”
Jennifer Pagliaro can be reached at 416-869-4556 or email@example.com
Jennifer Pagliaro can be reached at 416-869-4556 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The delivery truck driver who killed a woman and injured more than a dozen others when he crashed his vehicle into a TTC bus four years ago has been sentenced to three years in jail.
Vicente Arbis’s sentence, delivered Monday by Ontario Superior Court Justice Kelly Wright, also carries a 10-year driving ban, an attorney general ministry spokesperson confirmed.
Arbis was convicted of one count of criminal negligence causing death and two counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm late last year.
He was charged in 2013 after crashing his food delivery truck into a TTC bus at Steeles Ave. E. and Middlefield Rd. in north Scarborough shortly before noon on Aug. 13.
Court heard evidence that Arbis was driving the wrong way just before the crash at speeds of up to 85 km/h as he tried to beat a red light, while holding a phone to his ear.
Arbis was driving east on Steeles when he veered into the westbound lane, entered the intersection and crashed his truck into the bus, which was stopped to pick up passengers at the northeast corner.
Manoranjana Kanagasabapathy, a 52-year-old Scarborough grandmother, was killed as she was stepping onto the bus. Others on board were injured, including the bus driver, who had to be rescued from the wreckage.
The Crown argued during the trial that Arbis deliberately crossed into the oncoming lane of traffic to bypass the left turn lane, which was backed up with cars, in an attempt to beat the red light and make a left turn onto Middlefield.
Witnesses said they saw Arbis holding a phone, although cell phone records didn’t show he was on his mobile at the time of the crash.
The Crown declined to comment Wednesday. Arbis’s lawyer also didn’t return a request for comment.
A quarter-point interest rate hike won’t sideline potential homebuyers in the Toronto region, who are still enjoying historically low lending costs, say realtors.
It could even push a few off the fence where they have been sitting since the Ontario government introduced its foreign buyer tax in April, prompting a flood of new resale home listings in May.
Canada’s five biggest banks announced they would boost their prime lending rates by 25 basis points to 2.95 per cent from 2.7 per cent, following an interest rate hike from the Bank of Canada on Wednesday. Those rates are used to set mortgage terms.
The first central bank rate hike in seven years had been expected for weeks.
It comes as the bank predicts 2.8 per cent growth in the economy this year — up from a 2.6 per cent forecast in April. At the same time inflation remains below the 2 per cent target.
In his announcement Wednesday, bank governor Stephen Poloz offered no hint as to whether further increases are pending.
The new interest rate kicks in immediately for the minority of mortgage-holders who are borrowing at a variable rate. It also impacts Canadians with home equity lines of credit believed to account for $211 billion in debt.
“We are talking about $50 per month more on a $450,000 mortgage. People still need somewhere to live, and it’s not like the rental market is cheap. If anything it may adjust buyers price expectations downwards somewhat, but I don’t see it turning many people away from buying,” said Andrew Harrild of Condos.ca.
It could mean a few first-time buyers decide to save longer for a home but the overall impact of higher lending rates on the Toronto property market will be moderate, said Christopher Alexander, regional director of Re/MAX.
He said consumers are more likely to cut back on other spending such as dining out or retail purchases.
“Fifty dollars a month isn’t enough to cause any drastic change in people’s affordability. It’s such a small increase, I think the majority of Canadians will be able to handle it,” he said.
But Alexander is among those warning that it’s time for a break in government intervention in the housing market.
It would be “irresponsible” to implement any new mortgage restrictions that the country’s bank regulator announced last week it was considering.
The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, which ordered tougher lending rules last fall, is looking at extending stress tests to all uninsured fixed and variable mortgages.
The Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) also cautioned Ottawa on changes to the capital gains tax exemption on principle residences, which might eat into the profits of home-sellers.
“It’s time for governments to hit the pause button on more demand side policy interventions and take a wait and see approach,” it said in a news release.
In the short-term, it is possible that buyers who fear further rate hikes could jump into the housing market so they’re not faced with even higher loan costs later, said Queen’s University real estate professor John Andrew.
Rates have been so low for so long, there’s a generation of consumers for whom sub-3-per cent lending rates are normal, he said.
It is also possible, said Andrew, that Toronto area buyers, already financially stretched, will be even more hesitant to pay higher mortgage rates.
“Prices have escalated so much people are borrowing every dollar they can possibly borrow. There’s not much of a margin for error. Even when people did that 15 or 20 years ago, income levels were rising. Now they’re falling,” he said.
Royal LePage CEO Phil Soper said he might buy that argument if the rate had been raised 2 per cent, rather than .25 per cent but he doesn’t think the slight interest rise will have much impact and he doesn’t expect another rate increase any time soon.
“Future hikes will depend entirely on the country’s economic performance through the coming months. We haven’t seen any wage inflation. Wage inflation is the big no-no as far as the economy overheating,” said Soper.
If anything, he said, the bank is sending a positive economic signal that should strengthen consumer confidence as people feel more secure in their employment.
Zoocasa CEO Lauren Haw points out that variable rate mortgage-holders tend to be more mature buyers at less financial risk.
“The percentage of people that have variable rates is much higher as you get into higher equity levels in your home because, the reality is historically, that variable rates actually save you a lot of money on interest over the years,” she said.
“First-time homebuyers or anybody buying in the first 10 years of their career, they’re also in the first years of parenting and have a lot of expenses at the same time, just don’t take the risk,” said Haw.
Even with higher interest on home equity lines of credit, many Torontonians will opt to renovate rather than move because of the city’s double land transfer tax, she said. Toronto is the only municipality that has its own tax in addition to the provincial land transfer fee.
“As soon as you put 4 per cent against the average price of a Toronto home, that’s a pretty significant start to a renovation. When you add the land transfer plus realtor fees you end up with a pretty good chunk of money that could be put to a renovation as opposed to a move,” said Haw.
The overflow crowd at the Budweiser Stage rained boos on Floyd (Money) Mayweather as the champion boxer strutted to centre stage, where UFC champ Conor McGregor stood, waiting and scowling.
Within seconds the two principals in the biggest combat sports event of the year stood nose to nose, barking at full volume.
The men edged closer. Temperatures rose. Crowd noise leveled up.
Nearby, boxing power broker and Mayweather ally Sam Watson sidled up to UFC president Dana White. The pair shared a few words and wide grins.
And why wouldn’t they smile?
On Wednesday, Mayweather and McGregor arrived in Toronto as part of a four-city press tour hyping their Aug. 26 boxing match, which purports to settle questions about whether boxing or mixed martial arts is the pre-eminent combat sport.
Purists may hate it but Mayweather, McGregor, White and Watson all got the point as the face-to-face unfolded.
The spectacle is selling.
Curiosity about a cross-genre fight between the biggest stars of their respective sports is morphing into genuine demand. And when that happens everyone involved gets rich.
“This is not a normal fight,” McGregor said at the end of a sizzle reel that played just before his introduction. “This is big, big business.”
Throughout the 16,000-seat amphitheatre, fans unfurled Irish flags, jeered Mayweather and serenaded McGregor with cheers and chants.
At 28, McGregor is in his athletic prime, and finalizing the Mayweather bout shows he’s also at the peak of his in-ring earning power. After lobbying the UFC for bigger paydays, McGregor went outside the organization to secure the biggest windfall in combat sport — a bout with Mayweather.
Among UFC fighters McGregor has earned a reputation as a powerful puncher with a creative offensive mind. In his most heavily-hyped UFC bout he starched Jose Aldo in 13 seconds.
But his skills in the octagon didn’t earn him a shot at Mayweather. His flair for self-promotion did. And when he took the stage Wednesday, preening and grandstanding for fans who came to see him do just that, he was reluctant to cede the spotlight to the 40-year-old boxing great.
“I’m not getting off this mic unless you take it from me,” McGregor bellowed. “Otherwise, I’m taking over this whole s---.”
After kicking off in Los Angeles, the tour arrived in Toronto and provided the fighters a chance to refine material they debuted out west. On Tuesday, McGregor ordered Mayweather to “dance for me, boy,” and critics quickly pointed out that calling an African-American man “boy” could easily be construed as racist. McGregor repeated the line Wednesday.
The Toronto crowd was loud and wild. Organizers knew they would be, which is why the media tour stopped here.
“Toronto has been a massive MMA market, so it made sense,” said Steven Espinoza, executive VP of Showtime Sports, which will broadcast the fight. “We got the most bang for our buck here.”
As a sporting event, the bout presents McGregor with big obstacles.
Mayweather has ridden sublime defence, timing and accuracy to a 49-0 record while McGregor, 21-3 in MMA, has never boxed professionally. Leaked footage of him sparring with fringe contender Chris Van Heerden shows the South African pot-shotting McGregor. The clips illustrate how painfully complicated it can be to cross over to boxing from MMA.
“It’s really about (MMA fighters) learning to defend themselves, and their defence is not that good,” said Troy Ross, a former Commonwealth champion boxer who attended the event. “Boxers have to learn how to defend ourselves to last long in the sport. With the MMA guys, they just want to learn how to punch.”
But Wednesday’s event also made clear that sport is secondary to spectacle. So when McGregor teased Mayweather about the boxer’s unpaid taxes, Mayweather pulled stacks of cash from a knapsack to show he’s still rich. And when Mayweather draped himself in an Irish flag, McGregor threatened to make off with the money bag.
In August they’ll both get paid.
The three best-selling boxing pay-per-views in history all involve Mayweather, while McGregor headlined the UFC’s four best sellers. Mayweather’s 2015 bout with Manny Pacquiao sold a record 4.4 million pay per views and promoters are hoping this bout, which retails for $100 (U.S.), can surpass that number.
But Mayweather, whose company will promote this fight, figures to make more. Where McGregor earns seven-figure guarantees for his UFC bouts, Mayweather is reported to have made $200 million for the Pacquiao clash.
As Toronto fans booed him, Mayweather made clear he doesn’t see McGregor as a peer.
“Don’t even talk to me,” he sneered, “about a $3 million fighter.”
A memorial for a lawyer who counted accused neo-Nazis and white nationalists among her clients went ahead at a Toronto Public Library branch Wednesday evening, despite calls from local politicians and human rights advocates for the library to cancel the event.
“It certainly will discredit the Toronto library system,” said Bernie Farber, former CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress, who said he was “stunned” that the library agreed to rent space at its Richview branch in Etobicoke for a memorial in honour of Barbara Kulaszka.
“Barbara Kulaszka was a fellow traveller in hate groups in this country. She provided legal counsel to neo-Nazis, racists and bigots, and in fact ensured, through some of the work that she did, that hate laws and neo-Nazis and even Nazi war criminals would not be prosecuted in this country.
“Her legacy, if she has one, is one of increasing and permitting hatred in Canada.”
Kulaszka represented some of Canada’s most famous far-right extremists, including German-born Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel, who was deported back to his home country in 2005 after a Canadian judge deemed him a security threat. Zundel was later sentenced to five years in German prison in 2007.
The lawyer also worked for Paul Fromm, a self-proclaimed white nationalist, who organized the event Wednesday night. She represented Marc Lemire, who used to be part of the Canadian neo-Nazi group Heritage Front.
Kulaszka, 64, died from lung cancer on June 15, according to the Canadian Association for Free Expression website which posted about the event.
A library spokesperson said they’ve heard the concerns about Wednesday’s event “loud and clear,” and was taking them very seriously.
But the library couldn’t deny the booking because it didn’t contravene any laws, said Ana-Maria Critchley, the Toronto Public Library’s manager of stakeholder relations.
Library staff were in the room monitoring the event for any racism or discrimination and ready to intervene, she said.
Fromm, a spokesperson for the Canadian Association for Free Expression, said he doesn’t understand the controversy and called those who pushed for its cancellation, free speech opponents.
“I think this is really, really sad that some people would take it upon themselves to shut down a meeting, a memorial,” he said.
Fromm described as Kulaszka as “a very quiet, dedicated woman.”
While media were not allowed inside the event, one attendee said there were about 25 people inside the room.
Max French, who attended the event and said he had helped on Zundel’s Holocaust denial cases, said “it was a fitting tribute to a great woman.”
“There was no Holocaust denial going on in there, and if there was, what of it?,” he said.
No one in the room had ties to neo-Nazi groups, French added. But one man who attended was wearing a Blood and Honour T-shirt, a neo-Nazi music promotion group.
Farber said one silver lining of the whole thing has been the united response from multicultural organizations across the city calling for the event to be cancelled and expressing their concerns.
Among the emails complaining about the event was one from 89-year-old Nathan Leipciger, a survivor of Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps.
“My entire family was murdered by Nazi regime and I was outraged when I learned that a number of white nationalist leaders, including Paul Fromm and Marc Lemire, have rented space at a Toronto Public Library in Etobicoke . . . despite their long record of promoting bigotry and their disturbing ties to the neo-Nazi movement,” he wrote in an email, an excerpt of which was provided to the Star by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.
Mayor John Tory, who said he was “deeply concerned” about the event, said his office will ask the library to review its room-booking policies going forward.
While the mayor had asked the library to consider cancelling the event, he was told they’d received legal advice that they couldn’t deny the booking.
Councillor James Pasternak (Ward 10 York Centre), had also called on the library to cancel the booking.
“It is truly shocking that individuals who spread hatred, deny the Holocaust and have ties to neo-Nazi groups are being provided a permit by the Toronto Public Library to host an event inside a public building,” he said.
Critchley, who noted the library only realized who had booked the event Tuesday, said they are going to have a full discussion going forward.
With files from Emma McIntosh and Jennifer Pagliaro
With files from Emma McIntosh and Jennifer Pagliaro
The head of Hydro One makes double the salary of his next highest-paid provincial counterpart, and 10 times that of some CEOs in smaller provinces.
At $4.4 million in salary and bonuses in 2016, Hydro One CEO Mayo Schmidt is well above the Alberta CEO, whose pay package topped out at $2.2 million in 2015.
On Wednesday, Ontario PC Leader Patrick Brown said if elected, he would clamp down on salaries at Hydro One and electricity producer Ontario Power Generation, through legislative or policy changes, though he was not specific.
“It’s time to stop rewarding the people who are presiding over the Wynne Liberal hydro rip-off,” Brown said in a written statement. “These are the same people who have presided over a system that has tripled our hydro bills since 2003.”
In a statement to the Star, Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault said the “government recognizes that every dollar of public money should be spent with good intention and thorough consideration — both need to be taken into account whenever proposing salaries.
“We recognize that executive salaries are high compared to the vast majority of Ontario salaries, and we’ve introduced new regulations that require rigorous review of executive compensation frameworks. Our guidelines also create more stringent executive benefits, and we’ll continue to focus on ensuring that salaries are fair to the public purse.”
For five years, the NDP has been calling on the government to rein in public sector CEO compensation, said MPP Catherine Fife, who criticized the PCs for initiating the move toward hydro privatization when in power under Mike Harris.
“We’ve been calling for greater oversight, independent oversight, of those salaries, but we’ve been on the record for at least five years now to address the public sector compensation issue, because the public considers (the high salaries) a slap in the face, as they should,” Fife said in a telephone interview.
Rafael Gomez, director of the Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources at the University of Toronto, agreed, saying the former Tory government’s moves, as well as the recent selling of shares under by Liberal government, encourages utilities to start acting more like private sector corporations.
And when they look to set CEO pay levels, they turn to private sector comparisons “because there’s no company large enough that you can find in a public setting … so they go to the private sector and the comparables become GM and that sort of thing.”
In a statement to the Star, Hydro One said its “executive compensation package reflects the company’s need to attract and retain the highest level of expertise in a marketplace where it is competing for talent with large private-sector companies across North America, including other investor-owned utilities.”
Natalie Poole-Moffatt, vice-president of corporate affairs, also said 80 per cent of the CEO’s salary is based on meeting performance targets.
Julie Payette, who rocketed into space as Canada’s second female astronaut, appears poised to become the next Governor General.
Payette, who left Canada’s astronaut corps four years ago, appears likely to be named as the Queen’s next representative in Canada on Thursday.
The 53-year-old Montreal native would replace David Johnston, who has held the office for seven years, becoming the fourth woman to hold the governor general post after Michaëlle Jean, Adrienne Clarkson and Jeanne Sauvé.
The Prime Minister’s Office was not officially commenting Wednesday on the choice of the next Governor General. But a senior government official confirmed that Payette appeared certain to take on the post.
The identity of Johnston’s replacement has been a closely guarded secret. Traditionally, the viceregal job rotates between anglophones and francophones, with all indications pointing to a francophone filling the portfolio beginning this fall.
If confirmed, Payette would bring an impressive resumé to Rideau Hall, one that already includes a commercial pilot’s licence, credentials as a deep-sea diving suit operator, the ability to converse in six languages — French, English, Spanish, Italian, Russian and German — pianist, and orchestra singer.
In 1992, the Canadian Space Agency picked Payette and three others from a pool of 5,330 applicants to become astronauts.
She went on to fly two missions on the space shuttle in 1999 and 2009, missions that included stops at the International Space Station. She has logged a total of 611 hours in orbit. She has also served as capsule communicator, responsible for communications between mission control in Houston and astronauts in orbit.
Payette holds a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Montreal’s McGill University and a master’s of applied science in computer engineering from the University of Toronto. She told the Star in 2014 that the deficit of women in science is a “multi-faceted issue.”
“It has to do with recruitment, retention, promotion within the system, which may not be always equal, accommodation and then the fifth one is what I call image,” she said.
“There is a bit of an image that is tagged to scientists and engineers, and I don’t think I fit that, but I am through and through very much an engineer and proudly so. I’m a total geek and I love it.”
The Governor General also serves as commander-in-chief of the Canadian Armed Forces. As part of her 1,300 hours of flight time, Payette has experience flying CT-114 Tutor jet — the same aircraft used by the Snowbirds aerobatic team — and has earned her instrument rating with the military.
She has been honoured with more than a dozen honorary degrees from Canadian universities.
During Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill, Prince Charles paid tribute to Johnson’s” impeccable service as her “majesty’s representative.”
“He has earned great respect and gratitude as a modern nation-builder whose commitment to the youth of Canada and reconciliation is exemplary,” Charles told the crowd.
Multiple officials say Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will make the announcement at 1 p.m. in the foyer of the Senate, and is expected to be flanked by the new viceregal, just as Johnston stood alongside Stephen Harper when he was tapped for the job in 2010.
Johnston, who had a long career in academia, was chosen for the position off a short list presented to Harper by an ad hoc committee of experts struck with the express task of selecting a non-partisan person with constitutional knowledge.
At the time, Harper had a minority government and so who held the post of Governor General was essential to maintaining the stability of government. Johnston’s term is set to expire in September, after Harper extended it by two years ahead of the 2015 federal election.
The names of those on the selection committee weren’t published until after Johnston’s nomination, but Harper would go on to make the committee a permanent body, saying a process to ensure a non-partisan approach to appointments was important.
When asked late last year how he’d pick the next Governor General, Trudeau was noncommittal about what process he would use.
“I’m not going to change things just to reinvent the wheel,” Trudeau said in a year-end interview with The Canadian Press.
“If there is a good process that we can improve by making (it) more open and transparent and more diverse, that I will probably do.”
Johnston is currently on a visit to China and is expected to have an audience with the Queen next week when he travels to the U.K. for Canada 150 events, likely marking the last time he will sit face-to-face with the monarch he represents.
In his farewell speech on Canada Day, Johnston said he has learned much in his seven years on the job.
“These are challenging but exciting times,” he said. “And together we can show the world what a great country looks like. To me it looks like Canada, a country that strives, always, to be smarter and more caring — to do better, together.”
With files from Alanna Rizza and The Canadian Press
With files from Alanna Rizza and The Canadian Press
No one knew John Doe.
Not his real name, not his birthday, not where he came from. More than a year after Doe ambushed Toronto police officers with a kitchen knife in a dusty rail corridor in North York, leading one of them to fatally shoot him, all investigators can say is that he was a sex offender with a violent past.
The province’s police watchdog released the results of its investigation into Doe’s death Wednesday. Special Investigations Unit director Tony Loparco decided not to charge anyone in the shooting, saying the officer’s fear was reasonable.
“The officer was faced with a dangerous and dynamic situation that unfolded quickly over mere seconds,” Loparco wrote in the report.
This wasn’t the SIU’s first brush with John Doe, who also went by the aliases of Roy Norman, Chung Nu and Jonathan Grant. His true identity has remained a mystery to law enforcement for as long as they’ve known him.
“For at least the last decade, the complainant in this case has been known to police as John Doe with a specified date of birth,” SIU spokesperson Monica Hudon wrote in an email to the Star.
“During our most recent investigation, we learned that the complainant’s date of birth had actually been assigned to him by police.”
Hudon didn’t say how police knew Doe was the same man without a name or birthday to identify him.
The SIU investigated another encounter between Doe and Toronto police five years ago, when Doe approached officers with a “large butcher’s knife” and ignored their requests to drop it.
Doe had been rummaging around in a dumpster behind a plaza in Weston at about 12:30 p.m. on Jan. 6, 2012. He refused to answer questions, silently pointing the knife and walking towards the officers instead.
“As additional officers began to arrive, Mr. Doe walked west toward Weston Rd. with the knife in his right hand, partially covered with a sock,” read the SIU’s report on the incident.
When Doe came within two metres of one officer, he shot Doe four times, the report said. The officer wasn’t charged.
The bullets hit Doe’s hand, thigh, chest and abdomen, but he survived.
The shooting that killed John Doe happened on a stretch of Canadian Pacific Railway land near Weston Rd. and Hwy. 400 on June 17, 2016.
Though Toronto police were there to serve Doe with notice that he’d failed to register as a sex offender as required, railway police also wanted to arrest him for trespassing and building “makeshift shelters” along the tracks.
Railway police also arrested him in March, 2015. At the time, Doe threatened them with a baseball bat and carried a knife in a sheath near the small of his back, the SIU report said.
Now, however, he was back.
Before arresting him in June 2016, Toronto police had been worried about the state of Doe’s mental health, the SIU report said, consulting with a psychiatrist to figure out the best approach.
However, as police tried to approach him the day he was shot, Doe jumped out of bushes next to the train tracks and charged toward the officers with a large knife in hand.
As Doe raised the knife over his head just metres away from the officers, one of them shot Doe four times.
One bullet travelled through his jawbone. Another fatally wounded his heart, while two more pierced his left and right lungs.
Though paramedics tried to revive him, Doe was killed. Investigators later found Doe’s knife still lying under his left hand.
The TTC’s much-delayed streetcar order could be headed for another setback.
After months of assurances from Bombardier that the company was on track to meet its latest delivery targets, the Quebec-based rail manufacturer warned the transit agency this week that it will be a “challenge” to supply 70 cars by the end of 2017 as scheduled.
TTC CEO Andy Byford revealed the latest snag with the $1-billion vehicle purchase at a meeting of the agency’s board on Wednesday, where commissioners also voted to seek out other potential suppliers for future streetcar orders.
“They (Bombardier) have said to me that the 70 by year-end is still possible, but it’s at risk and that it’s increasingly challenging,” said Byford, who discussed the order Tuesday with Bombardier’s president of transportation for the Americas, Benoît Brossoit.
“They have not ruled out that 70, I am not letting them off the hook for that 70, but they have flagged that there is a risk that we may fall a few vehicles short.”
Byford said the TTC won’t know “for another couple of months” whether the company will miss the deadline.
As of this week the TTC has 40 of the new streetcars on its property. Under a timetable the two sides agreed to in 2012, the agency was supposed to have about 130 by now. Some of the vehicles that have arrived are experiencing reliability issues, mainly related to their doors.
A Bombardier spokesperson confirmed that the company told the TTC that the latest delivery schedule could slip, but he said the corporation made the disclosure of out a desire to be transparent and he described the potential delay as a “very limited, short-term issue.”
“This does not mean Bombardier will not reach its target for 2017,” wrote Marc-André Lefebvre in an email.
“We are still fully on track to deliver the entire fleet of 204 streetcars by the original contract deadline of 2019.”
Lefebvre said that the company is “deploying extraordinary resources” to meet the year-end goal. Measures the company has taken include extending the work week at its Thunder Bay plant from five to seven days, and adding resources at its other production facilities in Mexico and Europe.
Bombardier has also chartered a large Antonov cargo plane to ship streetcar cabs from Vienna, Austria, instead of sending them by sea. Lefebvre said that the flights cost $750,000 and will save the company a month on shipping time. All additional investments being put into streetcar production will be borne by Bombardier, he stated.
“All cards are on the table. No stone will be left unturned,” Lefebvre said.
Deputy mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong, who sits on the TTC board, did not appear convinced by Bombardier’s assurances.
“I’m a little bit disappointed that this word ‘challenging’ is used,” he told reporters after the meeting.
“Given their past performance, I think they may be getting ready to give us more bad news about the delivery of streetcars, because we’ve received a lot of bad news in the past.”
Minnan-Wong moved a motion at the meeting to conduct a “market sounding” exercise to seek out other potential streetcar suppliers. The motion, which Minnan-Wong drafted before learning about the latest potential delay, passed unanimously, which the deputy mayor said reflected the agency’s “frustration” with Bombardier.
The TTC has conceded that it is effectively locked into the current Bombardier contract for 204 vehicles, but the agency says it will eventually need an additional 60 cars to meet ridership demand.
The TTC ordered the accessible, low-floor streetcars from Bombardier in 2009 to replace its aging fleet, but Bombardier has failed to meet deadlines and repeatedly revised delivery schedules downwards. The company is currently on its fifth schedule since the order was signed.
The delays to the order prompted the TTC to sue the company in 2015 for liquidated damages. Under the terms of the contract the agency can seek up to $50 million for late delivery.
A Star investigation published in May documented a litany of production problems that have plagued the order, including poor workmanship, design failures, and persistent difficulties the company has had in managing its global supply chain.
Bombardier’s inability to meet even lowered delivery targets despite executives’ public and private assurances contributed to the near complete breakdown in the TTC’s relationship with the company last year. It was only partially restored when Bombardier replaced its head of its Americas transportation division in April 2016.
Around the same time Bombardier launched a “get well plan” aimed at improving production, and it was able to meet the revised schedule of supplying 30 cars by the end of 2016.
It has also met delivery targets for the first six months of this year, but the most vehicles it has delivered in a single month was in May, when it supplied three.
To meet the 70-car target, the company would have to manufacture a total of 40 cars this year, and the schedule calls for a production rate of at least seven cars in each of the last three months of 2017. In the three years since production began, Bombardier has never achieved a production rate that high.
An even more challenging task awaits the company next year. In order to keep the latest schedule on track, Bombardier would have to produce an average of 6.3 vehicles a month throughout 2018, for a total of 76 cars next year. That’s nearly double the number of vehicles it is struggling to supply in 2017.
A Canadian judge wasted precious few minutes on Thursday in refusing to freeze a reported $10.5-million payout to Omar Khadr so the widow of a slain American soldier he was accused of killing in Afghanistan can have more time to go after the money.
In his ruling, Ontario Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba said he had heard nothing to show Khadr planned to hide assets to thwart possible enforcement of a massive American court award against him.
“People might have a lot of opinions. But this is not a coffee shop. This is a court of law,” Belobaba said during the hearing. “We don’t, thank goodness, in Canada have one law for Omar Khadr and one law for all other Canadians.”
Tabitha Speer, widow of U.S. special forces soldier Sgt. Chris Speer, and a former American soldier Layne Morris blinded in one eye, wanted an injunction freezing Khadr’s assets pending their battle to have a Canadian court force him to pay the $134.1-million (U.S.) judgment from Utah.
Their Toronto-based lawyer David Winer found himself struggling to persuade Belobaba to hand down what the judge called an “extraordinary and very drastic remedy” and a “nuclear weapon.”
Grabbing someone’s property, the judge said, demands solid, credible evidence that the person planned to thwart creditors or flout court orders.
“We’ve got to deal with that,” he told Winer. “If you can’t clear this criterion, we’re done.”
Winer’s evidence, however, amounted to media reports on Khadr’s recent settlement of his lawsuit against Ottawa, announced last week, for breaching his rights during his 10 years as a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay. Sources said the deal with Khadr, 30, included a government payout of $10.5 million — money the Americans want to get their hands on.
In one article, the Globe and Mail cited an anonymous source as saying Khadr had already legally sheltered the money, court heard.
“Everything that he has reported on this matter has so far turned out to be correct,” Winer said of Globe reporter, Robert Fife.
“Newspapers get it right a heck of a lot of times; they have great people working for them,” Belobaba allowed. At the same time, he said it was difficult to rely legally on one anonymous source, a point Khadr’s Edmonton-based lawyer, Nate Whitling, pressed home during his brief submissions.
“There’s just nothing here for Mr. Khadr to respond to. There’s just a bare allegation that assets will be dissipated,” Whitling said. “The parties simply wish to deprive Mr. Khadr of the benefits of his property.”
At one point, Belobaba asked why Khadr would not “for goodwill” put the money aside pending trial on the Utah judgment.
Stacking $10 million against the $134-million judgment made little sense, Whitling replied.
“Mr. Khadr has plans for his property, like everybody else does. It’s his property. He’s got the right to do with it as his wishes,” Whitling said. “There’s no reason it should be tied up. It’s as simple as that.”
Belobaba also saw little merit in Winer’s second point: Khadr’s refusal to promise the money would be available to the Americans suggests something nefarious. If Khadr had no plan to hide his assets, Winer said, it would have “been so easy to say so.”
The judge said he recognized the American families had been “horribly devastated” by death and injuries but said he saw no evidence Khadr would be “jumping on a plane to Venezuela” or somehow putting his money beyond their reach. Ultimately, Belobaba needed just a few minutes to reject the injunction application.
“You have to be really careful when you go around freezing people’s assets before trial,” he said. “This is not a difficult decision in law.”
The two sides are now expected back in court in the fall — likely October — to begin working toward a trial on the Utah judgment.
Legal experts say it will be difficult to have a Canadian court enforce the Utah award given that it is based almost entirely on Khadr’s 2010 confession before a widely condemned U.S. military commission that he had, as a 15-year-old, killed Speer in Afghanistan in July 2002.
Khadr later said he pleaded guilty to five purported war crimes as the only way to get out of Guantanamo and return to Canada, which he did in 2012.
CAMBRIDGE, ONT.—Police have released a photo of a shoe in the hope that it will help identify a body discovered in a rural area near Cambridge, Ont.
Waterloo regional police say the body was found Wednesday in a farmer’s field in North Dumfries Township and an autopsy is expected to be conducted Thursday in Hamilton.
They say preliminary information suggests that the body is that of a male.
There will be an increased police presence in the area as investigators continue their work.
Police are asking for anyone who recognizes the shoe and can identify the deceased to contact police.
After an apparent fake call about a shooting, police surrounded a house in Rosedale early Thursday—but when they broke down the door, nobody was home.
“On its face, it seems as though it was not a legitimate call,” said Mark Pugash, director of communications with Toronto police. “But we are investigating.”
Just after midnight, somebody called police saying there was a shooting in a house on Elm Ave. and Dunbar Road, said Const. David Hopkinson.
Video from the scene shows armed Emergency Task Force officers in the area with dogs.
But when officers forced their way inside, there was nobody there, Pugash said.
The hoaxers often use spoofed phone lines, so that it seems like the call is coming from inside the targeted building.
Pugash would not use the term “swatting,” saying it has no legal meaning. But he called hoax calls “dangerous and very serious,” because they take significant police resources away from real emergencies.
It was a distracting night for Toronto police, who also received a 911 call Wednesday from a man complaining that someone hadn’t flushed the toilet in a restaurant.
Pugash said they are investigating that call as well.
“That is dangerous. It’s reckless. And it endangers people who are in genuine emergencies,” he said.
Toronto police don’t keep statistics on swatting calls, but Pugash said they’re not common in Toronto. Anecdotally, he’s only heard of one or two incidents.
But Const. Andy Pattenden, spokesperson for York Regional Police, estimates they get swatting calls at least once a month.
“We don’t often publicize all of them, because it just creates that sort of copycat type behaviour,” he said.
Pattenden said 911 call-takers are getting better at identifying hoaxes, and in some cases they’re dispatching fewer resources to those calls.
In 2015, a family in Richmond Hillbecame a target of swatters. York Regional police received a realistic 911-call from a man, claiming that his schizophrenic father had shot and killed his mother with an assault rifle.
But when police broke down the door, they found two adults and two children who had no idea why police were in their home.
Pattenden said nobody was charged in the incident—and that’s typical. He said that it’s often hard to track down the person behind a swatting call. The calls could come from anywhere in the world, he said, and people often use different IP addresses and disguise their voices.
Beyond tying up police resources, Pattenden said swatting calls can also put innocent people at risk. When police blast into a home with guns out, “very horrible things could happen,” he said, adding that it’s also emotionally traumatic for the victims.
Pugash would not speculate on specifics, but said hoaxers and reckless 911-callers could face criminal charges. He asks anybody with information about the incident to contact police.
With files from Bryann Aguilar
With files from Bryann Aguilar