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- 07/25/17--14:34: _Canada Post vows to...
- 07/25/17--15:45: _Internal report on ...
- 07/26/17--04:19: _Teen charged after ...
- 07/25/17--08:44: _Republican senators...
- 07/25/17--10:40: _‘I think he’s crazy...
- 07/25/17--13:34: _Man who took $400,0...
- 07/25/17--17:17: _Former Nazi Helmut ...
- 07/25/17--14:39: _Let the people padd...
- 07/25/17--18:38: _Immigration detaine...
- 07/25/17--21:00: _Groundbreaking in u...
- 07/26/17--06:21: _Transgender people ...
- 07/26/17--03:30: _‘You’re my angel, y...
- 07/26/17--11:38: _Clipping of toe nai...
- 07/26/17--19:33: _Trump values bottom...
- 07/26/17--15:45: _‘Who is human enoug...
- 07/26/17--14:59: _Chief Saunders defe...
- 07/27/17--03:55: _Toronto Islands wil...
- 07/27/17--04:28: _Man dead after cras...
- 07/26/17--13:38: _Markham residents h...
- 07/27/17--03:00: _From Down Under to ...
- 07/25/17--14:34: Canada Post vows to quit blocking Toronto bike lanes
- 07/26/17--04:19: Teen charged after allegedly stolen SUV collides with police car
- 07/25/17--08:44: Republican senators hit snag in fresh effort to repeal Obamacare
- 07/25/17--17:17: Former Nazi Helmut Oberlander stripped of citizenship again
- 07/26/17--19:33: Trump values bottom line more than soldiers’ well-being: Teitel
- 07/27/17--03:55: Toronto Islands will reopen on Monday, city confirms
- 07/27/17--04:28: Man dead after crash in Vaughan
- 07/26/17--13:38: Markham residents have beef with huge cow sculpture
Canada Post vehicles will stop parking in Toronto bike lanes, the Crown corporation announced after a Star story highlighted cyclist safety concerns.
“Canada Post understands the concerns raised regarding safety and bike lanes in Toronto,” the postal service said in a statement Tuesday.
“As a result, we are instructing our employees to not park in bike lanes in the City of Toronto. For pickups or deliveries, they are expected to find a safe location to park their vehicle. If a safe parking location is not available, our employees are expected to avoid the stop, continue on their route and return any undelivered items to the depot.”
Canada Post drivers are told to report any problem areas to a supervisor so a safety assessment can be done to find the best alternative to serve the area.
“We are also asking the city to work with Canada Post and others to find long-term solutions to address this issue,” concludes the statement sent by Jon Hamilton, a senior Canada Post spokesman based in Ottawa.
That is a different message than last week, when Hamilton told the Star that drivers are expected to follow the law and Canada Post is working on changes but “it’s a balance, and there are a lot of people who depend on Canada Post and the work we do so we can’t just make instant changes that have a huge impact on the small businesses that rely on us or the people that have ordered stuff,” online.
The Star on Monday published a story in which Toronto parking enforcement officer Kyle Ashley, who has garnered praise for his work ticketing bike lane invaders and preaching safety on social media, singled out Canada Post as a repeat offender.
“Of all the ones who are still holding out from engaging in the positive behaviours that we’ve started seeing from Beck Taxi, Mister Produce and others, the one that I’m still seeing the most infractions coming from would be Canada Post,” Ashley said in an interview last week.
“The flagrant disregard for the bike lanes is strongest from them. I don’t know if they think they have impunity because the trucks say Canada Post, or if they just don’t care about the public image or the public safety.”
Also last week, Mayor John Tory said a senior Toronto-based Canada Post manager told him that, as a result of Star inquiries, drivers had been reminded to park legally while doing drop-offs. Ashley said he noticed better behaviour for a day or two, but by week’s end Canada Post vehicles were routinely blocking bike lanes and forcing cyclists into traffic.
Other couriers including Purolator and FedEx also block bike lanes, he said, but those companies seem willing to talk to him about alternatives including briefly blocking a lane of vehicle traffic, rather than a bike lane, if vehicles can safely go around it in another lane.
Tory, after an announcement Tuesday about a planned accessible baseball diamond, said he had that morning again called the Canada Post manager in charge of Toronto to request that the postal service “do more.”
“I indicated this is conduct — recognizing they have their job to do — that it is not acceptable to the City of Toronto, and to us as people who are trying to live together and to learn how to share the roads,” Tory told reporters.
“When we create bike lanes it is not with the intention that any vehicles will park there ... It isn’t just a matter of disrespect for the law, it’s a public safety issue because when a cyclist then goes around a truck into traffic and then goes back into the bike lane that is a moment of great vulnerability for the cyclist in particular but also for a (driver) who might not be expecting this.”
Tory added that he will this fall invite representatives of Canada Post and the private courier companies to meet in his office and reinforce the need to keep out of bike lanes but also what else the city can do, such as more designated courier parking spots, to help them.
After Canada Post announced hours later that it will stay out of bike lanes, the mayor praised the postal agency’s decision.
“When I took office, Canada Post was one of the first organizations to demonstrate its commitment to help keep this city moving,” Tory said.
“By adjusting deliveries and drop-off locations, Canada Post showed the impact that an effective partnership can make when it comes to fighting congestion. Once again, today, Canada Post has shown it is prepared to do the right thing.”
Mayor John Tory says a secret report to the police services board on the beating of Dafonte Miller, in which an off-duty police officer and his brother are charged, is cause for concern and called the incident “deeply troubling.”
“I am concerned at some of what I’ve read,” Tory told reporters Tuesday of a report provided to members of the police services board. “There are a number of unanswered questions which remain with respect to the process that was or was not followed here in terms of the notification of the SIU.”
The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), a police oversight agency, has charged Michael Theriault, a Toronto police officer, and his brother Christian Theriault in the assault of the 19-year-old man with a metal pipe in December.
Miller’s injuries are so severe his eye will need to be surgically removed, his family’s lawyer Julian Falconer said earlier.
Michael Theriault was off duty when the assault occurred in Whitby.
Durham Region Police, who responded to the scene in the early morning hours of Dec. 28, charged Miller with weapon and drug charges. Court officials earlier told the Star the alleged weapon was a “pole.”
It was Falconer, not Durham or Toronto police, who alerted the SIU to Miller’s injuries in April. All charges against Miller were dropped in May.
Following an SIU investigation, both Theriaults have been charged with aggravated assault, assault with a weapon and public mischief. The allegations have not yet been tested in court.
Their father, John Theriault, is a detective who has served more than 30 years with Toronto Police and currently works in the professional standards unit, which deals with officer misconduct, Falconer told the Star.
The provincial Police Services Act dictates that a police service must notify the SIU immediately of any incident that falls under their mandate, including cases of serious injuries involving officers.
Tory told reporters there is a “short” report before the police board outlining what has occurred to date. The board meets Thursday, when Tory said the report is expected to be discussed behind closed doors.
There is no mention of the case on the public agenda, and it is unclear if it will be addressed during the public session of the meeting.
Falconer told the Star he can understand why the service has to be able to debrief its board in private.
“But then one hopes that that process becomes less opaque and that they understand the importance of answering serious questions,” he said. “At its heart, the board has a responsibility to do proper oversight . . . This is a policy question: Is this a police service run amok when one of their own — a son of one of their own, two sons of one of their own — does wrong or is this a situation where they’re going to be accountable?”
Much of the information concerning SIU investigations is kept secret.
But reporting by the Star’s Wendy Gillis found a dozen recent cases where the SIU director says the Toronto Police appear to have failed to co-operate with investigators, including delays in reporting serious injuries to the watchdog.
Following a Star campaign for transparency and public pressure, some internal reports, though at times heavily redacted, were released in the high-profile police shooting death of Toronto man Andrew Loku in which no one was charged.
That included a report required by law from the police chief to the police board on matters arising from an SIU investigation. The board promised to consider releasing future internal reports.
The contents and author of the report before the board Thursday are unknown.
Toronto police spokesperson Mark Pugash said he couldn’t discuss confidential board matters. The question remains if Chief Mark Saunders will address Miller’s case publicly at the board. Pugash said, if asked to do so by the board, “I dare say he will.”
On his regular call-in show on CP24 Tuesday night, Saunders said he couldn’t speak to the case, but he defended his service on the reporting process, saying it was determined that the incident involving an off-duty officer didn’t meet the threshold to report to the SIU despite the SIU determining charges were warranted. Saunders specifically noted reporting requirements concerning off-duty officers and whether they identify themselves as officers or display any police-issued equipment at the time of the incident.
But Durham police were the responding officers, not Toronto police, who appear to have been involved after the fact. It’s unclear why Toronto police would have been involved at all if it was unknown that one of their officers was involved.
“When you read the instruction on when it fits within the mandate, it didn’t fit with this particular occurrence.” Saunders said. “This wasn’t taken lightly. There was no overlooking, there was nothing nefarious, there was no coverup.”
Acting police board chair Councillor Chin Lee told the Star that because it concerns a “personnel” issue, he couldn’t discuss the report or provide any details about it. Lee said he was “kind of surprised” the mayor mentioned it at all.
Tory said he couldn’t speak to specifics of the case as it now makes its way through the legal system.
“Toronto police officers, all of them, are expected — as most of them do all of the time — to adhere to a very high standard of conduct. Whether they’re on duty or off duty, they’re representatives of Toronto and of the Toronto Police Service.”
He said he remains concerned about anti-Black racism in the city, adding the facts of the assault on Miller are still unclear.
“I don’t really understand how any of this cannot be labelled as anti-Blackness. I don’t know if the mayor is paying attention,” said Black Lives Matter co-founder Pascale Diverlus. “This is the person that was attacked, obviously attacked, right? And they are the person that is charged.”
How the assault on Miller was reported, Diverlus said, shows promises made about greater accountability surrounding police-involved incidents have not resulted in meaningful change.
“What other incidents have been brushed aside?” she asked. “How many more people do we not know about?”
A Mississauga teenager has been charged after vehicle that is alleged to have been stolen collided with a police cruiser in Mississauga Tuesday night.
Peel Const. Harinder Sohi says police received a call around 6 p.m. reporting an incident near Camilla Road Senior Public School. That’s when a group of teenagers in a black SUV allegedly approached another person and hit his bicycle with a bat.
When police arrived, Sohi says one person attempted to flee the scene in an SUV, which then collided with a police cruiser.
Police say the driver tried to flee again but crashed not to far from the school. There were no injuries to any of the officers or any of the involved.
A couple of teenagers fled on foot but police say they arrested two individuals.
One teenager has been charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, possession of property obtained by crime, and possession of a weapon for dangerous purpose.
Another person was arrested but released without charges.
WASHINGTON—The U.S. Senate voted narrowly Tuesday to begin debate on a bill to repeal major provisions of the Affordable Care Act, but hours later, Republican leaders suffered a setback when their most comprehensive plan to replace former president Barack Obama’s health law fell far short of the votes it needed.
The Tuesday night tally needed to reach 60 votes to overcome a parliamentary objection. Instead, it fell 43-57. That the comprehensive replacement plan came up well short of even 50 votes was an ominous sign for Republican leaders still grappling with a formula to pass final health-care legislation this week.
For Republicans, the failure ended the day on a sour note, hours after a more triumphant scene in the Senate. Lawmakers from both parties had risen to their feet in the afternoon and applauded when Arizona Sen. John McCain showed up in the Senate chamber despite his diagnosis of brain cancer. He cast a crucial vote in favour of opening what promises to be a freewheeling, hard-fought debate over the future of the Affordable Care Act.
The 51-50 vote to start debate, with Vice-President Mike Pence breaking a tie, came only a week after the Republican effort to dismantle a pillar of Obama’s legacy appeared all but doomed. It provided an initial win for President Donald Trump, who pushed, cajoled and threatened senators in recent days to at least begin debating the repeal of the health-care law.
But the victory could be fleeting: Senate Republicans still have no agreement on a repeal bill that they can ultimately pass to uproot the law that has provided health insurance to millions of Americans.
The Senate is now moving ahead with debate, amendments and ultimately a final vote in the coming days on legislation that would have a profound effect on the American health-care system — roughly one-sixth of the U.S. economy. But it is entirely possible that by week’s end, they will have passed nothing.
“Now we move forward towards truly great health care for the American people,” Trump said from a news conference in the White House Rose Garden, where he was holding a news conference with the visiting prime minister of Lebanon. “This was a big step.”
Only two Republicans, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, voted against the procedural motion, although at least several other Republicans had been seen as possible holdouts. No Democrats voted in favour of the motion.
The Tuesday night vote was on a comprehensive amendment that included disparate proposals calculated to appeal to conservatives and moderates in the Republican caucus.
One proposal, offered by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, would have allowed insurers to sell stripped-down health plans, without maternity care or other benefits required by the Affordable Care Act, if they also sold plans that included such benefits.
The amendment also included money to help pay out-of-pocket medical costs for certain low-income people, including those who buy private insurance after losing Medicaid coverage as a result of the Senate bill. This proposal was devised by Ohio Sen. Rob Portman and other senators from states that have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
But nine Republicans defected from the package, from all ends of the party’s ideological spectrum.
WASHINGTON—At the end of a Senate subcommittee hearing on Tuesday morning, Republican Chairman Susan Collins didn’t switch off her microphone. Apparently speaking to Sen. Jack Reed, the ranking Democrat of the committee, Collins discussed the federal budget — and U.S. President Donald Trump’s lack of familiarity with the details of governing.
After Reed praises Collins’ handling of the hearing, held by the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, she laments the administration’s handling of spending.
“I swear, (the Office of Management and Budget) just went through and whenever there was ‘grant,’ they just X it out,” Collins says. “With no measurement, no thinking about it, no metrics, no nothing. It’s just incredibly irresponsible.”
“Yes,” Reed replies. “I think — I think he’s crazy,” apparently referring to the president. “I mean, I don’t say that lightly and as a kind of a goofy guy.”
“I’m worried,” Collins replies.
“Oof,” Reed continues. “You know, this thing — if we don’t get a budget deal, we’re going to be paralyzed.”
“I know,” Collins replies.
“(Department of Defense) is going to be paralyzed, everybody is going to be paralyzed,” Reed says.
“I don’t think he knows there is a (Budget Control Act) or anything,” Collins says, referring to a 2011 law that defines the budget process.
“He was down at the Ford commissioning,” Reed says, referring to President Trump’s weekend event launching a new aircraft carrier, “saying, ‘I want them to pass my budget.’ OK, so we give him $54 billion (U.S.) and then we take it away across the board which would cause chaos.”
“Right,” Collins replies.
“It’s just — and he hasn’t — not one word about the budget. Not one word about the debt ceiling,” Reed says.
“Good point,” Collins replies.
“You’ve got (Budget Director Mick) Mulvaney saying we’re going to put in all sorts of stuff like a border wall. Then you’ve got (Treasury Secretary Steve) Mnuchin saying it’s got to be clean,” Reed continues. “We’re going to be back in September, and, you know, you’re going to have crazy people in the House.”
In a more salacious part of what was recorded, Collins then addressed a radio interview in which Rep. Blake Farenthold suggested that if Collins were a man, he’d have challenged her to a duel for opposing the Senate Republicans’ Obamacare overhaul bill.
“Did you see the one who challenged me to a duel?” Collins asks.
“I know,” Reed replies. “Trust me. Do you know why he challenged you to a duel? ‘Cause you could beat the s--- out of him.”
“Well, he’s huge,” Collins replies. “And he — I don’t mean to be unkind, but he’s so unattractive it’s unbelievable.”
“Did you see the picture of him in his pyjamas next to this Playboy bunny?” she continues, referring to an infamous photo of Farenthold.
At that point, the mic went dead.
Steven Sokolowski has paid back $400,000 he took from a charity that raises funds for children with cancer, but the entrepreneur was visibly shaken Wednesday when a judge sentenced him to 14 months in jail, rather than the house arrest he hoped for.
“It is not just (the charity) that has suffered from Mr. Sokolowski’s crime but every child that might otherwise have been the beneficiary of the large sum of money diverted,” said Ontario Court Justice Katrina Mulligan in her sentencing decision.
The impact on charitable donors who will now be even more wary is also significant, she said.
“Every charity loses because of his actions,” Mulligan said, adding that this was a well-planned deception that relied on Sokolowski’s inside knowledge and position of trust in the charity, she said.
Sokolowski, 67, pleaded guilty to fraud over $5,000 in January.
He was one of the founders of Coast to Coast Against Cancer in 2002, a registered Toronto foundation that has raised tens of millions of dollars to support childhood cancer charities and hosts several cycling and other activities every year. The fraud began when he took on additional responsibilities for day-to-day operations as a director of the foundation.
Between January 2012 and August 2014, he took $400,000 from the charity by filing fraudulent invoices for services never provided or expenses for personal matters, Mulligan found. The fraud was uncovered through a routine audit.
In a separate, civil case before Superior Court Justice James Diamond in 2015, Sokolowski was ordered to repay about $700,000 to Coast to Coast. The judge in that case — which has no bearing on the criminal matter — found Sokolowski spent the money on girlfriends, expensive wine, and hosting a gathering at the Royal Canadian Yacht Club, among other expenses.
One of those girlfriends was Philippa “Pip” Herrington. Diamond made no findings against her.
Herrington was charged criminally with fraud along with Sokolowski. Her charges were withdrawn once Sokolowski was sentenced.
Diamond also ordered Sokolowski to pay a further $50,000 in punitive damages, and $150,000 in court costs.
As part of the criminal sentencing hearing, a lawyer for Coast to Coast filed a letter outlining Sokolowski’s “tremendous co-operation” so far in the collection of the civil judgment and his apparent recognition of the harm he has caused to the charity.
Mulligan said the $400,000 that was part of the criminal proceeding has been repaid following the sale of Sokolowski’s matrimonial home. His expensive wine collection was also auctioned off, court heard during a previous court appearance.
Crown attorney Michael Lockner sought a sentence of two years less a day in jail.
“I trusted him implicitly,” said foundation chair Jeff Rushton in a victim impact statement read by Lockner. “I never questioned his ethics or moral compass.”
Rushton said the foundation spent well over $400,000 in legal and accounting costs related to the fraud and recouping the funds, meaning there was less money available to be shared with charities.
“This is the perverse and sickening reality of what Sokolowski’s actions have meant to the brand and reputation of Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation,” Rushton said.
Sokolowski, who represented himself in the criminal matter, asked the court for a conditional sentence.
“I have to say, I feel like I’m fighting for my life here. This was a very difficult time for me,” Sokolowski said, at times getting emotional. “I was under financial distress, borrowing money from the foundation, putting it back. Then it crossed the line. At one point I wanted to be caught. I felt guilty.”
Sokolowski described the criminal charges as “a bit of a blessing,” because he stopped drinking and started making other improvements in his life.
“It is a period of my life that I don’t even recognize myself,” he said. “I really, really want to make good.”
On the issue of deterrence, he said he and his partner Herrington, “have been in a prison already,” given their bail conditions and the level of harassment he said they’ve faced since newspaper reports of the civil case involving Coast to Coast were published in 2015.
“That then sparked all the crazies coming out, all the stalkers,” he said. “Websites have gone up with crazy accusations, there have been threats, harassment, physical violence.”
A person allegedly involved with the harassment is now before the courts, Mulligan said.
Mulligan said Sokolowski’s remorse was genuine and applauded him liquidating his own assets to repay the funds.
She also noted that at the time the fraud took place Sokolowski said he was reeling from the deaths of his stepfather and his mother, the breakdown of his marriage, depression and chronic pain caused by sciatica resulting in self-medication through alcohol and prescription drugs.
“Unfortunately the death of parents, the breakup of a relationship and chronic pain are facts of life in almost every citizen’s existence at some point or another,” she said. “It appears he had the resources to . . . manage and cope with the stress.”
In addition to his jail sentence, Sokolowski faces 16 months of probation and was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service.
WATERLOO—Canada has once again stripped Helmut Oberlander, 93, of his citizenship for serving in a Nazi death squad and lying about it to enter Canada.
It’s the fourth time the government has taken this step after Oberlander defeated the government in court three times to restore his citizenship.
For the fourth time Oberlander is going to court to overturn the political decision, made this time by the federal cabinet of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“We are determined to deny safe haven in Canada to war criminals and persons believed to have committed or been complicit in war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide,” Pierre Deveau, spokesperson for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, said in a statement.
Liberal and Conservative governments have been pursuing the retired Waterloo developer since 1995 in a case that’s into its third decade and fourth prime minister.
Oberlander’s lawyers suspected the government was poised to announce its decision when two RCMP officers surprised Oberlander last month by appearing at his door and asking to speak with him.
“I suppose they were trying to determine if he was still of sound mind and health and could receive the decision,” said Ron Poulton, Oberlander’s lawyer.
Poulton said Oberlander felt intimidated and called his daughter to his home. The pair asked police why they came. “They were kind of cagey about it and we couldn’t really get any answers on it, but we knew something was coming,” he said. The police left.
In 1995, the government announced its prosecution days after two RCMP officers surprised Oberlander by visiting him at home to talk about the Second World War.
Oberlander is an ethnic German born and raised in Ukraine under Soviet rule. He served as a decorated, low-level interpreter in a mobile death squad that murdered at least 23,000 civilians, mostly Jews, between 1941 and 1943.
He says he was conscripted by invading Germans the month he turned 18 in 1942. He denies participating in war crimes and denies lying about it to immigrate in 1954.
Oberlander was made a German citizen in 1944 to honour his service. Canada made him a citizen in 1960.
No evidence was presented to a court that Oberlander personally participated in war crimes. In 2000, a court found that he lied about his membership in the death squad before entering Canada, where he pursued a successful career as a developer.
“We thank and applaud the Government of Canada,” Shimon Koffler Fogel, chief executive of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said in a statement.
Fogel said Oberlander has “been exploiting our judicial process to avoid prosecution in Germany. There is no statute of limitations for such heinous crimes, and the government deserves credit for its tireless efforts in this case.
“This latest development is an important milestone in bringing a measure of justice to his many victims and their families.”
The decision distressed Ernst Friedel, a director with the German-Canadian Congress, who said Oberlander is being unfairly prosecuted for translations he provided as a young man without a choice.
“This has nothing to do with justice,” Friedel said. “I compare it to the Middle Ages, to declare someone something bad, and to go after that person relentlessly.”
Trudeau said in 2016 that his government is committed to prosecuting immigrants such as Oberlander who lie about their past to become citizens.
“There is one condition in which citizenship can be revoked, and that is when it was acquired based on fraud, misinformation and not representing clearly who one was,” Trudeau said while visiting Waterloo.
“And that is at the core of this case I’m sure . . . Canadians are rightly proud, not just of our citizenship, but of the values that are articulated by that citizenship, and we have to make sure that we’re doing everything to defend the principles and values that it mean to be Canadian.”
Poulton said it’s remarkable the government is still pursuing Oberlander after he defeated them in court three times.
“Given his age and the number of times they’ve lost, I’ve never seen the government pursue someone like this to such a degree,” he said.
While the federal cabinet argues it has the right to strip Oberlander’s citizenship because he lied to get it, courts have repeatedly told cabinet it must also weigh other factors, such as Oberlander’s level of complicity in the death squad.
Poulton said the government’s latest decision “ignores and misstates evidence. They really stretched this time to try to find him complicit.”
Last fall, the government gave Oberlander 90 days to respond to a government report and to explain why his citizenship should not be revoked. He did this and cabinet chose to revoke his citizenship again, on June 20.
“We also know the value of Canadian citizenship and cannot allow anyone to defraud the system or diminish its integrity,” said Deveau, spokesperson for the government. “We don’t take citizenship revocation lightly, but it is necessary in cases of fraud and serious misrepresentation.”
Oberlander is seeking a judicial review of cabinet’s decision, as he has done previously. A court hearing is expected in the fall or early 2018.
Bernie Farber, former chief executive of the Canadian Jewish Congress, blames Federal Court of Appeal rulings rather than government failures for a case that’s dragged on for decades. He’s heartened that governments have not given up, but expects Oberlander may die before the prosecution concludes.
“The government sends a strong message in this day and age to would-be war criminals and would-be alleged war criminals that they will be hunted ’til their dying days,” he said.
Farber argues against seeing Oberlander as 93. “We ought not to think of him as he is today. We ought to remember him and those others who participated in the murder of tens of thousands of people as they were: young, vibrant bullies and alleged murderers,” he said.
“To think about them in their old age denies really the sweet lives of those that were caught up in the web of mass murder that the Nazis perpetrated. They never got to live. He did.”
Toronto’s east end “Beach” neighbourhood is home to more than a few yoga studios, but this doesn’t mean its residents are particularly flexible.
For proof, look no further than the paddleboard-kiosk dispute plaguing the boardwalk at Balsam Ave. and Hubbard Blvd.
It’s here that a small group of residents who live directly across from the lake are upset about the present location of iPaddle Adventures, a new business that rents paddleboards and kayaks to beachgoers, a business the residents say is obstructing their view of the water.
“Paddleboard kiosk dispute” may sound like the lowest stakes event in human history, but I assure you, it’s of great consequence to anyone who believes a city’s main attractions should serve all of its inhabitants, as opposed to a lucky few.
Among those who hold this view is Brian Quinn, the CEO of iPaddle Adventures. The city recently granted Quinn permission to park his kiosk on the grass behind the boardwalk. Today, that business is thriving. He says he rents paddleboard and kayak equipment to a minimum of 40 people everyday, beachgoers from all over the city and several tourists as well. (I looked at the binder in his office and it was jam-packed with rental slips.)
But, says Quinn, some residents continue to complain that their view of the lake has suffered as a result of his being there. One resident in particular, a woman named Viola Bracegirdle, a beach resident with a formerly unobstructed view, described the situation to the CBC like this: “It’s terrible. He (Quinn) should have been down someplace else. They can go down further. Why are they picking on us? We are the most expensive houses here and the taxes are the highest here. I’m fed up.”
Quinn alleges that some residents are so fed up they’ve “screamed profanities” at him and frightened his customers; he even called the non-emergency police service, and told the complaining residents to expect a letter from his lawyer if they continue to interfere with his business.
I took the streetcar to the Beach this week, so I could see for myself the alleged blight that is iPaddle Adventures, but here’s what I saw instead: Quinn sitting on a bench eating a sandwich, a Bluetooth radio of some kind humming quietly beside him. And behind him, the kiosk itself, modestly sized, decorated with Canadian flags and upright kayak paddles. It was hard to believe this was the blemish on the horizon that beach residents are so incensed about.
But then I remembered I was in Toronto, possibly the NIMBY (Not in My Backyard) capital of the world. “(Residents) came out with a sign saying they wanted us removed from the beach and that I was an eyesore,” Quinn told me.
An eyesore! God forbid anyone should have to abide an eyesore from his or her porch, so that families from all over the city and, presumably, all over the world can enjoy a boat ride on a public beach. NIMBYism of this order makes me think Torontonians are so averse to so-called “eyesores” we’d probably reject a city proposal for a giant ray gun if an asteroid were hurtling toward the downtown core, because the thing might obstruct somebody’s view of the CN Tower.
In other words, in Toronto, we seem to love nothing more than cutting off our nose to spite our face.
It doesn’t help that in addition to NIMBYism we have an obsession with so-called “villages.” In his book Frontier City, urbanist and Toronto Star columnist Shawn Micallef writes, “Toronto has what might be called a village fetish, where neighbourhoods insist, despite all evidence to the contrary, that they are indeed a village.”
You could argue that one of Toronto’s most attractive features — its network of distinct neighbourhoods — is also the very thing that stalls its progress. If you have a village mentality in a big city, as some residents in the picturesque Beach evidently do, you forget that your “village” belongs to a sprawling metropolis and the populace at large is entitled to the attractions and resources therein.
You forget that your view of the lake is not in fact, your view. It’s everybody’s view. The Beach is a neighbourhood in Toronto, it’s not Muskoka.
“They don’t own this boardwalk,” Quinn says about the residents who want him to move his kiosk out of their line of sight. “The city owns this boardwalk. This is for people. This is to get people out doing things.”
Amen. Let the people paddleboard.
Emma Teitel is a national affairs columnist.
Emma Teitel is a national affairs columnist.
Canada’s practice of indefinitely jailing immigration detainees does not violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, a Federal Court judge ruled Tuesday.
“The question of when detention for immigration purposes is no longer reasonable does not have a single, simple answer,” Justice Simon Fothergill wrote in his 58-page judgment. “It depends on the facts and circumstances of the case.”
Lawyers representing former immigration detainee Alvin Brown — who spent five years in a maximum-security jail before the government was able to deport him to Jamaica last September — had argued that Canada’s entire immigration detention regime was unfair and unconstitutional. They called upon the court to set a maximum length of time the government could detain non-citizens while trying to deport them, as is the case in some other countries.
Fothergill dismissed their application, writing that the system’s “shortcomings” were due to the misapplication of the law, not the law itself. When “properly interpreted and applied,” he wrote, existing regulations comply with the charter.
Jared Will, Brown’s lawyer, said the fact the law can be misapplied and does not protect detainees against its misapplication is the problem. Existing laws put “too much confidence and too much power” in the hands of immigration officials, he said. “What we’re looking for is a resolution that will provide the adequate, necessary protection.”
Will said he intends to appeal the judgment, and a key part of the court ruling allows that to proceed, as Fothergill certified a question specifically about establishing a time limit on immigration detention.
“The Federal Court of Appeal and maybe one day the Supreme Court will hear and decide these issues,” Will said.
In addition to Brown’s case, the court also heard evidence from five other former immigration detainees and their families. Their stories were shared by the End Immigration Detention Network, which was granted third-party standing in the case.
Every year, Canada’s border police detain thousands of people who have been deemed inadmissible to the country and classified as a danger to the public — usually because of past criminal charges or convictions — or unlikely to show up for their deportation. The average length of detention is about three weeks, but many cases drag on for months or years.
Although the detainees have not been charged with a crime, many are sent to maximum-security provincial jails, where they are treated the same as those serving criminal sentences or awaiting trial.
A Star investigation earlier this year into immigration detention in Canada found a system in which hundreds of unwanted immigrants were languishing indefinitely in conditions meant for a criminal population. The Star found that detainees are also poorly served by the quasi-judicial Immigration and Refugee Board, which reviews their detentions every 30 days.
The relative fairness of the detention reviews was a key part of the Federal Court case, with Will and lawyers representing the End Immigration Detention Network arguing that the hearings were inherently unfair.
Citing many of the same complaints that more than a dozen immigration lawyers raised in interviews with the Star, Will argued that the detention reviews are stacked against detainees because, among other reasons, the government’s submissions are taken as fact, disclosure is not provided to detainees and there is, practically speaking, a “reverse onus” on the detainee to justify release rather than on the government to justify continued detention.
But Fothergill found these problems do not mean the system itself is broken.
“If the (Immigration and Refugee Board) does not respect these standards in practice, this is a problem of maladministration, not an indication that the statutory scheme is itself unconstitutional,” he wrote.
Unlike some other countries, Canada has no maximum length of immigration detention, an aspect of the system that has been widely criticized. Two years ago, the United Nations Human Rights Committee called on Canada to set a “reasonable” time limit for such detention.
In the European Union, most countries have set an 18-month limit on immigration detention, while several countries have set even lower thresholds.
Courts in the U.S., meanwhile, have ruled that if after six months deportation is not likely in the “reasonably foreseeable future,” the detainee should be released.
Will had asked the court to declare immigration detention unconstitutional when it extended beyond six months, and that detainees be immediately released after 18 months. Lawyers for the End Immigration Detention Network sought a 90-day limit.
Scott Bardsley, a spokesman for the federal Public Safety Ministry, which oversees immigration detention, said the government is currently reviewing Fothergill’s decision. He reiterated the government’s previous commitment to create a “better” and “fairer” immigration detention system by expanding alternatives to detention, improving conditions at federal immigration detention facilities and reducing the use of provincial jails.
Bardsley pointed out that under the Liberals the number of immigration detentions has decreased and that the government “continues to work on real improvements to our system.”
An anatomy scan is routine for pregnant women at 20 weeks. That was when Kristine Barry learned her baby had a heart defect that would require what’s believed to be the world’s first use of in utero surgery to treat this condition.
Doctors at the Hospital for Sick Children and Mount Sinai Hospital were quick to assure Barry, 25, and her husband, Christopher Havill, 27, that they could fix the problem.
They diagnosed the couple’s first child, Sebastian Havill, now 9 weeks old, with severe complete transposition of the great arteries (TGA). It’s a congenital heart defect that occurs when the pulmonary artery and aorta are switched, and the heart can’t adequately circulate blood through the body.
Barry said her first thoughts were “Why me, why my baby?”
To fix the problem, surgeons normally perform open-heart surgery on the infant to switch the arteries within a week of birth. But there was a complication in this case.
All the walls in Sebastian’s heart were closed shut, meaning his blood wouldn’t get oxygen after his birth, which could have led to severe brain damage or death within minutes.
“Previously, doctors had the baby born by C-section and then rushed it over to Sick Kids for a balloon procedure,” Barry said. “If he was born over at Mount Sinai, he wouldn’t have enough time to be moved to Sick Kids. He likely wasn’t going to make it.”
So the doctors — Edgar Jaeggi, Rajiv Chaturvedi and Greg Ryan — devised a different plan to save her baby.
On May 18, Barry went into the operating room, and Sebastian had what’s believed to be the world’s first balloon atrial septoplasty surgery in utero to treat TGA.
With ultrasound guidance, the doctors inserted a needle into Barry’s uterus and into Sebastian’s heart to blow up a tiny ballon, making a hole about 3.5 millimetres wide in his atrial septum. This allowed the blood and oxygen to circulate properly, a temporary fix until they could perform surgery after birth.
About 30 medical staff were there to assist in the procedure, including surgeons, cardiologists, a person with an incubator and a doctor to do a caesarean section in the likely case that Barry had to give birth early.
“I was weirdly calm. I put all my belief in that it was going to work, but I went in with the mindset that I was having a baby that day,” Barry said. “The way they described our options for that day, I had a two-out-of-three chance for having a baby, so I went in thinking, ‘I could be meeting my son today.’”
Just 20 minutes later, the surgery was over and the room erupted in applause, said Barry, who cried when she realized that her baby could be born healthy.
Five days after the surgery, Barry was induced into labour and gave birth to Sebastian only 10 minutes in.
“He came out pink and screaming, and I was just in shock. I didn’t believe that was what was going to happen,” she said.
A week after his birth, Sebastian successfully underwent the open-heart surgery that babies with congenital TGA must have, and he was sent home the week after.
About three babies a year in Ontario have the same extreme case of congenial heart defect that Sebastian has.
His parents will take him to a neuro-development program at Sick Kids to make sure he’s hitting all his milestones at 6, 12, 18, 24 and 36 months old.
Barry and Havill have been told that Sebastian may run into issues at any stage in his development, but in general he is expected to lead a normal life.
If Sebastian has any development problems, Barry said, the doctors at Sick Kids can help by teaching them exercises to do at home, or sending a support worker to help with speech or physiotherapy.
“They want us to let him be a kid and run around and get his blood pumping and his heart working really well. They don’t want us bubble-wrapping him and being too protective,” Barry said. “They want him to live a normal life as much as possible.”
WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump says he will bar transgender individuals from serving “in any capacity” in the U.S. armed forces.
Trump said on Twitter Wednesday that after consulting with “Generals and military experts,” that the government “will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.”
Trump added that “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
Transgender service members have been able to serve openly in the military since last year, when former Defence Secretary Ash Carter ended the ban.
Military chiefs recently announced a delay on allowing transgender people from enlisting. But transgender troops are already serving openly in the military.
More to come.
The woman at the centre of an extraordinary case, in which a split-second decision left one man dead, says she would not be alive today if it weren’t for the “angel” who ran her alleged assailant down with his car.
Alicia Aquino says that Anthony Kiss, the man who hit and killed Dario Romero in June, and who now faces charges of manslaughter in his death, was the only passerby to answer her calls for help.
“I owe my life to him,” Aquino told the Star in an emotional interview Tuesday. “He has four children, and it’s not fair to charge this man.”
Aquino, a hotel room attendant who was on her way to work in the early hours of June 7, said she decided to speak to the Star after hearing how the charges have negatively affected Kiss’s life.
She felt compelled to tell her story, she said, because she could not imagine Kiss being sent to prison, away from his four children, for several years. She also wanted to add her perspective to a story that has been playing out, and debated, online.
In a previous interview with the Star — details of which were corroborated by his girlfriend, who was in the car at the time — Kiss, 31, said he ran Romero down because he saw him wielding a knife and chasing a woman into the street. He did it, Kiss said, to save her life.
Neither Kiss’s nor Aquino’s version of events have been tested in court.
Kiss is charged with impaired operation of a motor vehicle causing death, over 80 mgs operation of a motor vehicle causing death and failure to stop at scene of accident causing death. Kiss told the Star he had a few beers at a concert that night, but wasn’t impaired.
He said he blew just over the legal limit. He said he left the scene of the crash before he was arrested because he was in “straight shock” and panicked. He is out on bail and will return to court Aug. 3.
In her telling of the story, 59-year-old Aquino did not provide granular details of what happened during the alleged attack out of respect for police requests to not compromise evidence in the case. She was advised by criminal lawyer, Daniel Brown, whom her family reached out to after seeing his comments on the case in a Star article.
“She wanted a lawyer to help her tell the story within the boundaries of what she was allowed to share, but without compromising the integrity of the investigation,” said Brown, who is not being paid for his work.
Romero’s brother-in-law, who didn’t want to be named citing the nature of his work with children, said the public can’t know the full story because Romero is dead.
“People should remember that Dario isn’t here to give his account of the story,” he said. “These stories can influence potential jurors.”
The alleged attack took place around 4:30 a.m. at the bus stop near Eglinton Ave W. and Black Creek Dr. Aquino said she was on her way to work at a downtown hotel, where she has been working for 27 years. She had been taking this particular route for seven years. At the time, she was standing by the bus stop texting with her girlfriend, who was asking her to pick up two coffees — one black, one double double.
“Usually I will go and stay in the shelter, but this time something told me ‘no, stand at the bus stop don’t go to the shelter,’ ” she said.
That’s when she noticed a man approaching. Initially, she thought nothing of it.
“When I see this gentleman coming towards me, I don’t think (anything) because I meet all kinds of people in the morning,” she said.
Romero, 37, spoke to Aquino, she said, but “he wasn’t making any sense.” Romero’s family has previously told the Star that he was a wonderful father to a young son, and that he had been diagnosed with extreme paranoia.
He said two sentences to her, Aquino said, adding she did not respond to him. She had never seen him before.
Aquino said that Romero then pulled out a knife and tried to slash at her. She says she ran away from him, but he knocked her to the ground on the street and kicked and stomped her.
“I’m screaming and I see cars passing by, nobody stopped,” she said, through tears. “I was calling for help.”
She fought with Romero on the ground and managed to get away. Romero continued to chase her and tripped her, and she fell down again, this time on the median, she said.
“And I hear this thing, ‘boom!’ behind me,” she said. At that point, Aquino, a single mother of five and grandmother to seven, said she thought it was over.
“I just crossed my arms, and I said ‘I’m dead, I’m not going to see my grandchildren and my kids,’ ” she said, adding that she had not yet seen her youngest granddaughter, who had just been born and was still in the hospital.
“A few seconds later I open up my eyes and I can feel that I was in a lot of pain. I have no idea what had happened.”
Aquino was not stabbed during the altercation. Her injuries to the lower half of her body were caused by the attacker kicking and tripping her, she said. The “boom” she heard, she now knows, she said, was Kiss driving into Romero.
The next thing Aquino said she remembers were three men surrounding her, two of them construction workers.
“It’s okay, you’re okay,” she remembers one of the men telling her. She asked them to call the police, and they told her they already had.
Aquino said she then asked one of the men helping her to take her to the driver of the car, but he told her to wait for an ambulance instead. She says she yelled in the direction of where she believed Kiss was — but she doesn’t know for sure if it was him because her glasses were knocked off and she could only see shadows.
“ ‘You’re my angel, you saved me!,’ ” Aquino said she remembered shouting. Of Kiss, she added, “he’s the only one who put his family on the side to save me, to do something for me.”
An ambulance took Aquino to St. Joseph’s hospital, where she stayed for a couple of hours. She says that she has trouble walking and that her physical injuries have prevented her from returning to work — a job that requires physical exertion. The hotel where she works provided her sick leave at a portion of her salary for six weeks, but it has now expired and she is struggling to pay basic bills. She has had to give up her weekend jobs cleaning houses.
The incident has also taken a drastic toll on her mental health, she said.
She is not eating or sleeping properly and is afraid to leave the house alone.
“I’m 59, I feel like 80 now,” she said. “I have sweats, I wake up sweating, I have to have someone around 24/7.”
Adding to her stress is her knowing that Kiss is facing jail time for what he did, she said, adding she would be “devastated” if he was convicted: “It’s not fair when somebody stood up to the plate.”
In response to online comments the public has made that Kiss should have just honked his horn, Aquino said she does not believe it would have made a difference.
“I was the target, so no matter what other people did, I don’t think so,” she said.
Brown, the lawyer who advised Aquino, said he believes that what Kiss did was “well within the boundaries of the law.”
“In Canadian law, the use of deadly force is only permitted in very rare circumstances — for example, where it is necessary to protect someone from death or serious bodily harm,” Brown said in an email to the Star.
“Some of the factors a judge will consider in assessing this defence include whether the use of force was imminent and whether there were other means available to respond to the potential use of force. In this case, Mr. Kiss could not have done anything less to stop this vicious attack. While tragic, the facts completely support Mr. Kiss’s response to this violent encounter.”
Toronto police declined to comment on the case.
Aquino said she has made it clear to the Toronto police officers investigating the case that she would like to meet Kiss. The police told her that would compromise the case.
Said Aquino: “I feel this (interview) is the only way for now to get it out there so people can understand why he did what he did.”
Catching someone clipping their toenails on the GO train may be gross, but it’s not a reason to push the emergency alarm.
Nor is realizing you’ve forgotten your lunch. Or seeing someone put their feet on the seats. Or being annoyed by the smell of another passenger’s food.
Yet amazingly, these are all reasons that riders cited over the past year for why they hit the emergency strip and stopped the train, according to Metrolinx, the provincial agency that operates GO Transit.
Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins published a list of 10 bizarre excuses in a series of Twitter posts on Wednesday. They were culled from a canvass of GO control centre employees, transit safety officers, and train staff that she performs each year.
Other strange justifications included passengers talking in the train’s “quiet zone,” the washroom running out of toilet paper, and “testing to see if it works.”
The list is unscientific, but Aikins makes it public each year in order to educate passengers about the consequences of not using the emergency strip appropriately.
Each time someone presses the strip, it can cause a delay of five to 10 minutes as staff attend to the coach and make sure nothing is seriously wrong. Pulling the emergency brake, which brings the train to a sudden stop, can cause delays of 30 minutes or more.
In 2016, there were over 650 train trips affected by emergency alarms or emergency brakes, causing close to 150 hours in delays. It’s not clear how many of the alarms were for illegitimate reasons, but Aikins said a majority weren’t genuine emergencies.
“Honestly, it’s pretty shocking,” Aikins said, of the excuses passengers give.
She said one man who recently pushed the strip told train staff he simply wanted to test their response time.
“He congratulated our staff that they arrived very quickly, and he got an appropriate lecture,” she said. “He was very apologetic.”
That passenger got off with a warning, but not everyone is so lucky. Customers who hit the alarm without legitimate cause can be fined at least $150. The penalty can be into the thousands of dollars for more serious cases, such as if pulling the brake results in an injury to a passenger.
Some people who mistakenly pull the alarm are genuinely confused about what it does. Customers often say they were trying to request the train to stop at the next station — which is appropriate on a TTC bus or streetcar but not on a GO train, which only makes scheduled stops.
In other cases, passengers seem to instantly regret what they’ve done. GO staff report that in many instances when they attend to an emergency alarm, no one wants to own up to pressing it. “You get there and everybody’s looking out the window, up on the ceiling, down on the floor,” Aikins said.
There are legitimate reasons to press the alarm or pull the train’s emergency brake, such as if a passenger needs medical attention, witnesses vandalism or a fight, or sees a suspicious package.
But if the situation doesn’t fall into one of those categories and customers are still considering pushing the alarm, Aikins has a message: “Don’t do it.”
“All it’s going to do is delay everyone, including yourself. It can cause a dangerous situation, and you could be fined. It could cost you money.”
Last April, when I interviewed Jennifer Pritzker, the world’s first openly transgender billionaire and a retired U.S. army colonel, she told me “knowledge dispels fear.” This was a motto Pritzker borrowed from the British Royal Air Force, a motto she hoped might warm Americans to the idea of transgender men and women serving openly in the U.S. military.
The prospect didn’t seem so radical at the time. A number of major corporations, including PayPal, had recently voiced support for transgender rights in light of so-called bathroom bills that sought to bar trans people from using the restrooms of their choice. And only a few months later, the Pentagon, under president Barack Obama, would end a ban on transgender people serving in the U.S. military.
It appeared as though the United States was living in a moment when knowledge might actually dispel fear.
Unfortunately, that moment has passed. Today, Americans are living in a moment of cruel opportunism in which knowledge is incapable of dispelling fear in the Oval Office, because it can’t even make it through the door. In fact, the current president of the United States appears to be allergic to it. Despite credible research indicating that transgender people pose no threat to military cohesion, or the health of the military budget (one study puts the number of trans service members in the U.S. military at about 2,450 people — not nearly high enough to burden the system), Trump announced this week via Twitter that transgender people are no longer welcome in the nation’s army.
“After consultation with my Generals and military experts,” the president tweeted on Wednesday, “please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
It would have been bad enough had Trump just told the truth about why he made this announcement, an explanation that I imagine might sound something like this: “My friends and I needed a convenient scapegoat to distract from all that collusion stuff and rally support among social conservatives, so we decided to pick on transgender people because we think they’re gross and weird. Sad!” But Trump’s cover for his cruelty — that he won’t allow transgender people to serve because their medical needs will financially burden the system — is uniquely disturbing. It sets a dangerous precedent in which people who risk their lives for their country are disposable to that country when their health care becomes costly or difficult.
This isn’t an issue that affects only transgender Americans who wish to serve in the military, but potentially anyone whose health-care may be perceived by some as an unnecessary encumbrance. Think, for example, about mental health, an area prone to enormous stigma that the U.S. military already struggles with. According to a study from 2014 by the RAND Corporation, an American military think-tank, “Despite the efforts of both the U.S. Department of Defence (DoD) and the Veterans Health Administration to enhance mental health services, many service members are not regularly seeking needed care when they have mental health symptoms or disorders.”
It’s hard to believe this reluctance to seek help will diminish anytime soon, when the president of the United States has made it crystal clear on Twitter that he values the military’s bottom line more than he values the health and well-being of its service members.
But what else can we honestly expect from a man who was granted five draft deferments during the Vietnam War and yet doesn’t hesitate one bit to label a burden those people who risk life and limb for their country?
Nothing good. Jennifer Pritzker’s hope that knowledge might dispel fear will remain as is — a hope, for at least another three years.
WASHINGTON—His grandfather served and his older brother served. He’s a natural helper and leader. So when two recruiters from the U.S. Marines came to Lucas Rixon’s English class last year to make their patriotic pitch, he was a quick sell: he decided he would become a soldier, too.
His tattoos got him rejected when he tried to sign up in the winter. He planned to try again.
Until the president declared him permanently unfit for duty.
Rixon, an 18-year-old in North Carolina, learned Wednesday that he would need to pursue some other career goal. In a three-tweet morning statement, Donald Trump announced that he would not “accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.”
Trump’s abrupt decision left Pentagon officials, Congress and transgender advocates scrambling for answers. When would the policy take effect? What did the policy actually say? What would happen to transgender soldiers currently serving? Trump’s press secretary had no further information, pledging that the details would be worked out later.
Rixon had heard enough. The president, he said, is a bigot.
“It makes us seem like we’re not humans. Any human can get into the military. But we can’t,” he said. “Now we can’t go into the military, so people are going to look at us like, ‘Oh, they are really much, much different from us.’ When we’re really not.”
Trump announced the decision on the 69th anniversary of Harry Truman’s decision to desegregate the military, in the middle of his administration’s “American Heroes Week,” and the month after his White House declined to acknowledge Pride Month.
If the decision is indeed implemented — and there was lingering uncertainty about the outcome given that there was no formal policy ready to go — it will reverse a decision made one year ago by Barack Obama.
That decision allowed existing transgender soldiers, who number somewhere between 2,500 and 15,000, to serve openly for the first time. As of July 1 of this year, openly transgender recruits were supposed to be allowed to enlist.
Instead, Defence Secretary James Mattis gave the military another six months to study the issue. Then, with Mattis on vacation, Trump reversed the entire initiative via Twitter.
“After consultation with my generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military,” he wrote. “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
U.S. allies including Canada, Israel, the U.K. and Australia all welcome transgender troops. A 2016 study by RAND Corp. found that research on the subject was limited but that these countries had experienced “little or no impact on unit cohesion, operational effectiveness, or readiness.”
Shane Ortega, a transgender Marine and army veteran who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, said he was “outraged, disgusted and heartbroken” by the suggestion that transgender people are impeding military success.
He said Trump, who obtained student and medical deferments to avoid serving in Vietnam, “has no authority or knowledge base to make any sort of tactical decision.”
“All you have to do is look at my military record. I’ve deployed five times, in two combat zones, I had no tactical issues. Zero,” said Ortega, 30, who joined in 2005. “I’m completely furious because: here’s a man who isn’t willing to step up himself to sacrifice his own body, and yet he wants to police the bodies of people who are willing to do that very sacrifice which he holds in supposed high regard.”
Ortega said his military peers knew he was transgender for years. He came out to his commanders in 2014, he said, then served as a staff sergeant until 2016.
He said active transgender soldiers were “panicking” Wednesday. He worried about whether troops booted from the military under Trump’s directive would receive honourable discharges.
“Who is good enough?” he said. “Who is human enough to be human in this government?”
Trump’s decision was widely seen as a strategic attempt to excite the social conservatives among his political base. One senior official in Trump’s administration told the website Axios that they were attempting to force Democratic candidates in the Rust Belt to “take complete ownership of this issue.”
But it also seemed possible that Trump had blundered into a problem. Several Republican senators came out against the move. House Republicans, Politico reported, had sought Trump’s help with their attempt to get the military to stop paying for gender reassignment surgery — but never asked him to ban transgender troops entirely.
Regardless of his motive, Trump set alight any goodwill he had managed to earn in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities with his campaign promise to “fight for” LGBT people.
He had differentiated himself from his Republican rivals by expressing support for the right of Caitlyn Jenner, the transgender Republican former Olympian, to use the bathroom of her choice at Trump Tower. And he had boasted of becoming the first Republican nominee to have an openly gay person, businessman Peter Thiel, speak at his convention.
But LGBT communities were always skeptical.
Activists noted that he mentioned LGBT people almost exclusively in the context of justifying his policies to discriminate against Muslims. He surrounded himself with social conservatives hostile to LGBT interests. And his words of support were always followed by criticism and hesitation.
In October, Trump declared Obama’s policy on transgender troops “ridiculous.” Despite his comfort with Jenner, he deferred to party activists who wanted to deny transgender people the right to use the bathroom matching their gender identity. In February, he rolled back Obama’s bathroom instructions to schools.
“I knew the entire time. He’s with the Republican Party, and that is the party that — while some of them are more moderate — stands against everything that trans people and LGBT people are,” said Destiny Clark, a transgender woman who is president of Central Alabama Pride. “That was just for TV, to try to get a little bit of publicity.”
Rixon will soon enter college to study criminal justice. If he can’t serve in the military, he said, he will try to serve in another way: joining the FBI.
Chief Mark Saunders is defending a decision not to notify a police watchdog after one of his officers was charged in the assault of a Black teenager, saying the off-duty officer didn’t identify himself as police at the time of the incident.
“The officers that were investigating from an SIU perspective were dealing with the information that they knew at the time, and they thought it through, and at the end of it their decision was that he did not identify himself as a police officer to the person that he was in contact with,” Saunders, told reporters — whom he accused of “manufacturing stuff” — after an event at police headquarters.
That contradicts the version of events detailed to the Star by 19-year-old Dafonte Miller’s lawyer, who says Const. Michael Theriault made known he was a police officer both before he allegedly attacked the teen and in a 911 call.
The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), an arm’s-length body that probes cases of death, serious bodily harm and sexual assault involving police officers, charged Theriault and civilian Christian Theriault last week with aggravated assault, assault with a weapon, and public mischief after the early morning attack in Whitby last December.
Miller was punched, kicked and hit repeatedly in the face with a metal pipe, said his lawyer, Julian Falconer. Miller was beaten so badly his left eye will need to be surgically removed.
According to Falconer, Christian Theriault is Michael Theriault’s brother. John Theriault, the father of the two accused, is a longtime detective working in Toronto police’s professional standards unit, which investigates police misconduct internally.
Neither the Durham Region police, who responded to the scene, nor the Toronto police, notified the SIU. It was Falconer who told the watchdog of his client’s injuries in April.
According to Falconer, Theriault identified himself as a police officer at least twice during the course of the Dec. 28 incident.
The Theriaults were in the garage of a Whitby home when they saw Miller and two of his friends walk past, Falconer earlier told the Star. The group of friends, the lawyer said, were heading to another friend’s house near the home Miller shares with his family.
The Theriaults approached the young men, and Michael Theriault told them he was a police officer, asking them where they lived and what they were doing in that neighbourhood, Falconer said.
When Miller and his friends continued walking, Falconer said, the Theriaults chased them and when they caught up to Miller, started beating him.
Miller managed to dial 911, Falconer said, but Theriault grabbed the phone out of his hand and told the operator he was a police officer who had made an arrest.
When Durham police officers arrived, they arrested Miller and charged him with weapons and drugs offences. All of the charges against Miller have since been dropped.
Meaghan Gray, a Toronto police spokesperson, earlier confirmed to the Star that Toronto police were notified of the Dec. 28 incident on the day it occurred.
Saunders said Wednesday that Toronto police “would have been called, obviously, by Durham” about the incident.
“Obviously at some point in time it was revealed it was a police officer, but the question is, when the occurrence took place, who knew what?” Saunders said.
Saunders said although it may seem confusing, the threshold of when to report is clear.
On its website, the SIU says it normally does not investigate incidents involving off-duty officers acting in the course of their private lives.
“If, however, an officer is off duty and police equipment or property is involved, or the officer identifies himself/herself as a police officer in the course of the occurrence, the SIU will investigate the incident if it involves serious injury, death or an allegation of sexual assault,” the site says.
Saunders promised a “fair” and “transparent” internal investigation following on the SIU’s investigation. He committed Wednesday to releasing an internal report to be prepared for the police board, which is required by law to address issues such as officer discipline arising from an SIU investigation.
After reporting by the Star and public pressure to improve transparency, the Toronto police board, which oversees the service, has previously promised to make such reports public.
“To say that this is a coverup is misleading,” Saunders said. “It was not a coverup. My officers acted in good faith.”
Although Toronto police did not report the incident to the SIU, it’s unknown what, if any, action was taken internally once Toronto police became aware one of their officers was involved. Following the criminal charges, Theriault has been suspended with pay.
Mayor John Tory said he remains concerned after reading information he is privy to as a member of the police board. One such report is scheduled to be discussed in secret at a board meeting on Thursday.
“I think there are some unanswered questions and it’s not so much what the chief said, but the entire history of this event,” Tory told reporters outside police headquarters. “I continue to have a concern about this both in terms of the process and obviously the fact that someone was assaulted by a police officer either on or off duty.”
Premier Kathleen Wynne said the way in which Miller’s case was reported to the SIU needs to be examined.
“At that juncture where the police officer should have reported to the SIU, that’s where the question is, you know, because the SIU can’t take action if the SIU doesn't have information,” she told Newstalk1010.
With files from Vjosa Isai
With files from Vjosa Isai
The Toronto Islands will reopen on July 31 after it was closed to the general public since May due to extensive flooding.
The city confirmed that Toronto Island Park, including Centre Island, Centreville Theme Park, Ward’s Island and Hanlan’s Point, will be open and regular summer ferry service will resume on Monday.
“All beaches on the island will be open with lifeguards on duty. However, portions of some beaches will be in a reduced state. Signs will clearly indicate areas that are closed to the public,” the city said in a statement.
Olympic Island will remain closed due to high water levels.
“I know that for many Torontonians summer isn’t complete without a visit to the Toronto Islands, which is why I’m so pleased that the park is being reopened for residents and visitors to enjoy,” said Mayor John Tory in a statement.
“I want to thank City staff for their tireless and ongoing commitment to preserving and restoring the island park and to residents for their patience throughout this unprecedented event.”
Mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus have been found on the Toronto Islands, but the city says the risk of acquiring the virus is low and that’s no reason to avoid the area.
The city recommends wearing light-coloured, long-sleeved shirts and pants when outdoors and applying bug spray. Residents should also make sure their homes have tight-fitting screens on windows and doors to prevent mosquitoes from getting inside.
City of Toronto recreation programs and businesses on the island are also expected to resume normal operations on Monday.
One attraction that won’t open this year is the Far Enough Farm petting zoo. Extensive damage to the farm and pens, as well as remaining water in the area, will keep animals on a farm in Schomberg, Ont., for the foreseeable future.
Centreville’s swan ride and the bumper boat ride, which make use of Lake Ontario, also won’t reopen this year due to high water levels, according to spokesperson Shawnda Walker. The train ride will remain shut for the season because of damage to the tracks.
The first ferry departing from the mainland for Ward’s Island will leave at 6:30 a.m. and the first ferry for Centre Island will leave at 8 a.m. City of Toronto recreation programs will also resume on Monday.
With files from Sammy Hudes
A 27-year-old man has been pronounced dead at the scene of a collision in Vaughan Thursday morning.
Paramedics said the crash occurred just before 6 a.m. near Major Mackenzie Dr. and Islington Ave. No one else was injured.
York Regional Police said the crash involved a car and a truck.
The intersection is closed for the police investigation.
The cause of the accident is unknown.
With files from Alina Bykova.
Residents of a Markham neighbourhood want a towering cow sculpture installed 10 days ago by the city to just moooove on.
The unhappy people gathered Tuesday night to give local councillor Alan Ho, who voted last year to approve the chrome statue, a piece of their collective mind.
Ho was in huge backtrack mode as resident after resident slammed him for supporting the statue in a large parkette on Charity Cres. in the Cathedraltown neighbourhood. He urged them to gather a petition opposing the artwork and to head to council at its first meeting in September to tell elected officials exactly what they think.
The cow, called Charity, Perpetuation of Perfection, was apparently a prize-winning milker for the donor and the statue is dubbed “Brookview Tony Charity.”
Under intense questioning from residents at the site of the statue, Ho admitted the donation of the statue was valued at $1.2 million.
But he insisted the donation cost the City of Markham and taxpayers nothing.
Residents were udderly unimpressed.
Tammy Armes, a member of the Cathedraltown Ratepayers Association, said the sculpture caught everyone by surprise.
“This is really a shock for us; it’s not a small cow. It does not belong in this community,” Armes said.
Danny Da Silva, who lives right in the sightline of the sculpture, was blunt in his assessment of it: “I hate it. I don’t like to be forced to look at this, but I have to unless I don’t want to come out of my house anymore.
“I think it’s actually kind of disturbing looking. I come from a Christian background and this is actually one of the worst things you can do, is to raise a calf; it’s facing the cathedral. Who’s going to want to buy the house, there’s very little to admire,” he added.
Da Silva suggested it be moved to another location, like the carousel in downtown Markham.
Ho said he believed the statue belonged in another location but that the donor insisted on the current location and council agreed. He said if the statue does get moved it’s not clear whether the donor or the city will have to pay the cost.
Markham Economist & Sun
It’s a celebration, this conference on education, for which some 2,700 Indigenous people from around the world have gathered in Toronto.
You might notice them around the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Or, you might not.
“There’s no ‘Made on Reserve’ stamp on our forehead,” says Dr. Verna Billy-Minnabarriet, a B.C. educator and vice-president of the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology.
Every one of the leading Indigenous educators from B.C., Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand I spoke to this week agreed: it’s insulting to say to an Indigenous person, “But you don’t look native.”
While this emerged as a footnote in an hours-long rich group discussion on how these geographically disparate groups were brought together by a common history, it tapped into a larger issue that inextricably links them together.
“Colonization is a common cancer that afflicted Indigenous people across the world,” said Bob Morgan, a professor at the University of Newcastle, Australia.
It’s easy to see how being colonized by the same people has resulted in some of the same outcomes — higher poverty, lower health indicators, suicide crises, disproportionate rates of incarceration and removal of children from families. It has also given them a common language with which to mobilize, to exchange ideas.
But riddle me this. How do people with no known connections for centuries all interpret land the same way?
“In my culture, we don’t own land. Land is a gift. And our job is to take care of that land and to ensure that that land is there for those who come behind,” says Billy-Minnabarriet. “Whereas in dominant society land is a commodity.”
“Our largest relationship is to the land,” said Dr. Noe Noe Wong-Wilson, a native, or Kanaka Maoli, from Hawaii. “It’s not a commodity. It’s in essence an inseparable part of ourselves. If you remove a native from the land, they struggle to survive physically, spiritually, economically.”
“Our connectedness is to country and to our waters and land,” says Peter Buckskin, professor at the University of South Australia.
The soreness about having your identity doubted is at least partly linked to this connectedness to land.
When you tell a native person they don’t look native, not only are you saying they don’t fit your stereotype of them, you’re also suggesting they are not entitled to their own land.
At one time, to qualify for Hawaiian land, you had to have 50 per cent native blood. Given all the intermingling of cultures, this year, the state legislature changed the blood quantum required to inherit native lands to 1/32.
This blood logic or the idea of measurable blood purity is a colonial construct historically used to override traditional norms that defined Indigeneity. It was a tool to determine ineligibility for benefits and rights reserved for white people. Now it’s used to reduce Indigenous populations by recognizing fewer of them, to cut off access to land and undermine Indigenous sovereignty.
The solidarity of this group also springs from the struggle to be allowed to live as Indigenous people.
“Our greatest challenge is to live as Maori,” said Bentham Othia, deputy chair of the Waikato Endowed Colleges Trust in New Zealand. “The second challenge is the survival of Maori as a people.”
“We are not asking for permission,” said Morgan. “We assert our fundamental right and freedom to be Indigenous. That is our basic human right before all else.”
“The sad thing is modern society doesn’t even work for non-Indigenous people,” he says. “So why do we assume it’s going to work for Indigenous people?
“And why is it that in every city I’ve visited internationally, there’s an increasing number of people living in poverty that live on the streets that are homeless that are marginalized. What type of society allows that to happen?
“In the modern world I’m shattered to see that young people are turning away from life and choosing death . . . so what type of society allows that to happen to their young?”
The natives also found a commonality in the misconceptions and stereotypes.
“We’re not happy natives in hula skirts dancing seductively around coconut palms,” says Wong-Wilson.
“We’re seen as dysfunctional,” says Buckskin. “All we’re asking for is respect and a sense of place at the table. But that’s hard to continue that agenda when you continually come from a deficit model. There’s a lack of trust that Aboriginal people can solve our own problems.”
“One thing that’s consistent is the whole attitude of being less than,” says B.C.’s Billy-Minnabarriet. “You don’t have good education, you can’t keep a good job, you don’t, you don’t, you don’t. That stereotype is consistent in the fabric of everything we do.”
“We will never surrender to injustice,” says Morgan. “The day we do, all that our forefathers fought for will mean nothing.”
It is a celebration of resilience, this conference.
“If there’s one thing that we can celebrate it is that we’ve survived,” says Morgan. “That is our greatest achievement. We always have to see ourselves as people that are of this land . . . And we’re not going away.”
Shree Paradkar tackles issues of race and gender. You can follow her @shreeparadkar
Shree Paradkar tackles issues of race and gender. You can follow her @shreeparadkar