Are you the publisher? Claim or contact us about this channel

Embed this content in your HTML


Report adult content:

click to rate:

Account: (login)

More Channels

Channel Catalog

Channel Description:


older | 1 | .... | 967 | 968 | (Page 969) | 970 | 971 | .... | 1035 | newer

    0 0

    Police in Regina are investigating and Canadian Tire has apologized after an Indigenous man live-streamed an altercation between him and one of its store employees.

    On Wednesday, Kamao Cappo posted a live video to Facebook that shows a Canadian Tire employee grabbing Cappo in an attempt to lead him out of the store and then pushing him up against a shelf.

    Cappo told the Star he was at the store to buy a chainsaw, which he was about to purchase along with a can of oil, but wasn’t sure of the necessary fuel mix ratio for the machine.

    After opening the chainsaw case to find out, he said he placed the oil inside, took it to customer service and went to look at other chainsaws.

    He said a store employee then approached him and accused him of trying to steal.

    In the video posted to Facebook, Cappo tells viewers the employee was refusing to sell him a saw, and was kicking him out of the store. The video shows Cappo asking the employee his name, and the employee grabbing for the camera.

    “You can’t take a picture of me. It’s against the law to take a picture of me. You better delete the picture off the phone,” the employee says in the video. “I’m not giving you my name, you’re leaving the store. Get out. It’s private property, get out.”

    After Cappo refused to leave, the employee pushed him up against a shelf.

    Capp says he believes he was targeted because he is Indigenous.

    “Indigenous people experience this a lot,” he said. “I knew that if I allowed him to do this, if I just comply and say I’m going, basically I’m saying ‘what you’re doing is right, this is fine’ and he will do this to somebody else again.”

    Regina Police Staff Sgt. Shawn Fenwick said police have viewed the video in question and are investigating.

    Fenwick said it’s unclear if Cappo’s race played a role.

    “I don’t know the answer. I suppose it’s possible,” he said. “It is under investigation right now but I don’t have a lot of other information. It’s a priority for us right now.”

    Police have not laid any charges.

    In a statement, Canadian Tire said it regretted the incident.

    “We sincerely apologize for the experience that occurred in our store and we are actively reviewing all of the facts surrounding this matter,” the statement read. “We are communicating with Mr. Cappo directly, and we hope to resolve this matter as quickly as possible.”

    Cappo said he has not heard from Canadian Tire since the incident and that the company has not called him to offer an apology. He says he wants Canadian Tire to train its employees to be more racially sensitive in the future.

    “I want to send a message to all store owners that this is not acceptable,” he said.

    0 0

    Canada’s busiest airport is braced for delays after more than 700 ground crew workers walked off the job after rejecting a contract offer Thursday night.

    Their last collective agreement expired on Sunday.

    The workers who are employed by Swissport, handle baggage and cargo, tow planes, clean cabins, and perform flight operations tasks for more than 30 airlines, including British Airways, Air France, Lufthansa, Sunwing, and Air Transat.

    Air Canada said it won’t be affected by the strike as it operates its own baggage handling.

    “We've been in negotiations with Swissport since March, both parties are very far apart on a lot of key issues, monetary and non-monetary.” said vice-president of Teamster Local Union 419 Harjinder Badial.

    Read more: 700 baggage handlers, ground crew at Pearson Airport on strike

    Expect a longer wait at Pearson Airport as enhanced security begins today for U.S.-bound flights

    “We want to get back to the table and hammer things out, but we'll be here as long as it takes.”

    Pierre Payette, Swissport Canada’s vice-president of operations, said the company is shocked that the workers rejected their offer. He said the proposal presented was well above what their direct competitors at Pearson provide their employees.

    “It included compensation increases for all employees; equal pay for equal seniority; faster access to competitive group insurance benefits; and provisions to promote a better work life balance,” Payette said in a statement.

    Badial said passengers should expect to deal with lost luggage, significant delays and flight cancellations during the strike.

    The Greater Toronto Airports Authority earlier said it had a contingency plan in place in the event of a strike or labour disruption.

    A few passengers said there has been no significant delay and services continue to run smoothly.

    Hungarian basketball player Justin Edwards said it was “actually pretty quick.”

    According to the union, Swissport is trying to impose a three-year wage freeze on most of the workers. It said the company also wants staff to work a minimum of 30 hours a week to get full benefits, and the right to change schedules with 96 hours notice.

    Jay Nariyan, a crew member for 16 years, said the Swissport workers are striking because they are not being respected.

    “They're cutting our benefits, they want full control of our scheduling, which means one day you could work mornings, next day you could work nights, next day you're working overnights. They want to have the power to change our schedule with 96 hours notice.”

    Nariyan said the workers don’t want to hold back the public but the strike is the only way to get their voices heard.

    As someone who’s been working at Pearson for 34 years towing planes, Peter Sazvari said he feels the company has treated everybody poorly.

    “I’ll be taking a $3 an hour cut in wages” on the final offer, Sazvari said. “We’re actually the heart of the system, we keep this operation going.”

    The union has also taken issue with the company’s decision to hire 250 temporary workers last May.

    “We’re shocked at how Swissport is willing to sacrifice airport safety and jeopardize travel plans to gain an upper hand at the barraging table,” said Badial.

    According to the union, crew members are required to train for three to four weeks. It said temporary workers only received three to four days of training that led to several accidents, cases of lost luggage, and even damage to a plane.

    “Definitely not (up to par), even when we were working with them. We had no choice, we had to work with them, they’re causing damage to aircrafts, some of them are getting injured,” said Nariyan.

    Teamsters’ spokesperson Chris Monette said the union brought up these concerns to the company, which threatened to terminate workers who did not work with the temporary workers.

    However, Payette denies the allegations of temporary workers being undertrained, cases of luggage lost, and damages on a plane.

    “All of our workers – employees and agency workers – receive the training that is appropriate for their roles,” he said. “All workers go through the same process that is mandated by Transport Canada and managed by the GTAA.”

    Airport officials are asking for passengers to check with their airlines on the status of their flights before heading to Pearson.

    Related story: 700 baggage handlers, ground crew at Pearson Airport on strike

    0 0

    A Toronto-based member of the Canadian military has been charged with seven counts of voyeurism.

    Master Warrant Officer Mardie Reyes of the 7th Toronto Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery was charged Friday by his commanding officer after allegedly recording video of Canadian armed forces members between May 2012 and June 2016.

    He faces criminal charges and will be tried under Canada’s military justice system.

    “Any form of inappropriate sexual behaviour is a threat to the morale and operational readiness of the CAF and is inconsistent with the values of the profession of arms,” Commanding Officer of 7th Toronto Regiment Ryan Smid said of the charges in a press release Friday.

    “Eliminating harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour within our ranks remains a top priority.”

    At the time that Reyes’s video camera was discovered in June 2016 he was a full-time reservist with the 4th Canadian Division Headquarters.

    Reyes was arrested in October 2016 following a military police investigation, and his full-time contract was terminated in February 2017.

    Capt. Cameron Hillier, a spokesperson for 7th Toronto Regiment, said that Reyes is currently a ‘Class A’ reservist who is only paid when he is ordered to report to Moss Park Armoury or Denison Armoury.

    He has been barred from service since February 2017.

    Hillier said that, while the charges against Reyes do not fall under Operation Honour, an ongoing military-wide initiative to eliminate sexual misconduct in the Canadian ranks, the division’s response to the incident stems from that operation.

    Reyes has served in the military for 26 years. He deployed to Afghanistan twice, and once to the Philippines as part of the Canadian Disaster Assistance Response Team following super typhoon Haiyan.

    0 0

    Premier Kathleen Wynne is hinting at something appetizing for restaurateurs anxious about looming changes to Ontario’s labour laws.

    With the government raising the $11.40-an-hour minimum wage to $14 on Jan. 1, and $15 in 2019, and improving employees’ rights on scheduling, Wynne has been trying to allay the fears of restaurant operators.

    “We want to be fair to businesses and, as well, to employees,” the premier said Friday at St. Clair College in Windsor.

    “Restaurant owners, in particular, have talked to me about other fees that they pay . . . other things that come off their off their payroll cheques; some of the fees that they pay to some of the . . . , you know, to the LCBO, for example,” said Wynne, referring to the province’s liquor monopoly.

    “We don’t know exactly what those will be, but there are a number of suggestions that are coming forward. We’re looking at everything, because, as I say, I want us to find this balance.”

    As part of the proposed wage changes, liquor servers, who make most of their money from tips, will see their minimum hourly wage jump from $9.90 now to $12.20 on Jan. 1, and $13.05, the year after that.

    James Rilett, a vice-president of Restaurants Canada, which represents 30,000 businesses across the country, said the industry is watching Wynne’s moves closely.

    Rilett, who is meeting with Small Business Minister Jeff Leal next week and will be talking soon with Finance Minister Charles Sousa, said there is much the government can do to offset the impact of the reforms on business.

    “I think they’re realizing that the economics of this aren’t as straightforward as they one thought.”

    Asked if he is sensing flexibility on the part of the Liberal government, he said: “I hope so. I still don’t know.”

    “I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. I hope they intended to give us some assistance, and we’ll continue to work with them and see how it pans out,” he said.

    Last week, Restaurants Canada released a survey of its members that found 95 per cent of restaurateurs believe the wage hike will hurt them. The poll found 98 per cent will raise menu prices; 97 per cent will reduce labour hours; 81 per cent will lay off staff; 74 per cent will embrace more automation, and 26 per cent would close one or more locations.

    The restaurant industry is a major part of Ontario’s economy; it generates $32 billion a year and employs more than 470,000 people in the province.

    Rilett noted some restaurateurs are already slowly raising prices to lessen the chance of sticker shock for consumers in next year.

    Wynne said she appreciates the concerns of business, but stressed that people “can’t live on $11.40 an hour” and they deserve a raise.

    “By increasing the minimum wage, we’re actually creating a situation where businesses, I suggest, will be able to retain their workers because the playing field will be more level,” the premier said, conceding she is trying to strike a delicate balance.

    “We have to be careful that we don’t come up with unintended consequences.”

    0 0

    Durham Police Chief Paul Martin has ordered an internal review of his officers’ actions surrounding the 2016 beating of Black teen Dafonte Miller, in which an off-duty Toronto police constable was charged.

    But a former head of Ontario’s police watchdog says a probe of Durham officers by Durham officers will not be a “true” investigation.

    The internal review, led by Deputy Chief Uday Jaswal, will examine whether Durham police acted correctly in arresting Miller on the day of his assault, and in failing to report the incident to the Special Investigations Unit, which investigates deaths, serious injuries or alleged sexual assaults involving police, Martin said.

    “There’s obviously some information out there about things we did or didn’t do, and I want to make sure that I’m satisfied in my mind that, based on the information we had that night, we did everything we should have done,” Martin told the Star.

    The Durham chief could not say for certain whether the findings of the internal review would be made public.

    Internal police reviews are not effective, and the public is unlikely to believe otherwise, “because the police are investigating themselves,” said former SIU Director Howard Morton, who now works as a defence lawyer.

    “I don’t think this will be a true investigation and even if it is, the public’s perception will be that it is not,” Morton said.

    “Public interest and perception about a cover-up in Durham requires them to be completely transparent with the entire results of their internal review,” he said.

    All findings of the review should be made public, Morton said, except for information that might prejudice the trial of Toronto police Const. Michael Theriault and his brother Christian Theriault, the men charged in Miller’s beating.

    The Star sent interview requests to Durham Police Services Board Chair Roger Anderson on Thursday and Friday, but he was not available for comment.

    The Theriaults’ lawyers were in a Durham court Friday, attempting to have the conditions of the brothers’ bail changed. Michael and Christian Theriault face charges of aggravated assault, assault with a weapon, and public mischief.

    On Dec. 28, 2016, Miller was punched, kicked and hit repeatedly in the face with a metal pipe, said his lawyer, Julian Falconer. One of Miller’s eyes will have to be surgically removed, Falconer added. When Durham Police arrived on scene, it was Miller who was arrested, and charged with assault, weapons and drug offences. His charges were later dropped without a trial.

    Durham officers interviewed multiple people, collected evidence and took photographs during their investigation of the Dec. 28 incident, Martin said in a news release Friday.

    “As a result of our investigation, we charged ... Dafonte Miller, with several offences,” he added.

    Neither Durham nor Toronto police disclosed Miller’s injuries or Michael Theriault’s involvement to the SIU. The watchdog was only informed when Falconer contacted them in April.

    The Theriaults’ father, John Theriault, is a longtime detective in the Toronto police professional standards unit, Falconer said.

    Under Ontario’s Police Services Act, which regulates law enforcement, a chief of police must “notify the SIU immediately of an incident involving one or more of his or her police officers that may reasonably be considered to fall within the investigative mandate of the SIU.”

    The responsibility to contact the SIU should lie with whichever police force is first notified of an incident, Morton told the Star.

    Martin told the Star he “appreciated” Morton’s opinion, but that the responsibility to inform the SIU lay with Toronto police.

    “There’s nothing to say we can’t do things over and above the legislation, so we’re going to take a look at our procedures and policies on that,” Martin said. “But the legislation is not ambiguous that we notify the (other) service and it is the service or the chief that employs that officer that informs the SIU.”

    Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders has repeatedly defended his service’s decision not to contact the SIU. Members of his professional standards unit decided, based on the information they had at the time, that the Theriault case did not meet the threshold to report to the police watchdog, Saunders told reporters.

    Saunders announced Thursday that Waterloo police had been called in to conduct a third-party investigation into the circumstances of Miller’s beating.

    “At this stage of the game I don’t have any plans for (an external investigation),” Martin told the Star. “But that doesn’t mean I won’t change my mind at some point.”

    0 0

    Think of it as Reefer Awareness, not Reefer Madness, an over-the-top 1936 film preaching the evils of marijuana.

    With less than a year until the federal government legalizes recreational marijuana, Ontario is starting work on a public education campaign to highlight health and other dangers of pot – particularly to young adults.

    Health Minister Eric Hoskins wants the effort to hit the airwaves, newspapers and social media well before the new pot law kicks in next July 1 with 19 the likely age of majority in this province.

    “There’s strong evidence that the brain continues to develop up until roughly the age of 25 and evidence that cannabis use can negatively impact that,” he says.

    That means possible memory problems, struggling with math and reading, general learning difficulties and a higher likelihood of becoming addicted to marijuana the younger someone starts, depending on usage levels, research suggests.

    “The key to all of this is very strong public education so that parents and kids understand what the risks are, like with alcohol,” adds Hoskins, a physician himself.

    “It’s about informed decision-making.”

    The Canadian Medical Association and other health-care groups have been ramping up warnings about the use of cannabis by people under 25 as policies are being developed in Ottawa and provincial capitals.

    “Children and youth are especially at risk for marijuana-related harms, given their brain is undergoing rapid, extensive development,” the association wrote in its latest brief to the federal government.

    “Our understanding of the health effects of marijuana continues to evolve. Marijuana use is linked to several adverse health outcomes, including addiction, cardiovascular and pulmonary effects (e.g., chronic bronchitis), mental illness, and other problems, including cognitive impairment and reduced educational attainment. There seems to be an increased risk of chronic psychosis disorders, including schizophrenia, in persons with a predisposition to such disorders. The use of high potency products, higher frequency of use and early initiation are predictors of worse health outcomes.”

    Pot use in the 15 to 24 age group is double that of the general population, the CMA noted in an earlier submission to the House of Commons, warning “awareness of Canadians to the harms of marijuana is generally low.”

    Hoskins promised “a substantial public education campaign” to point out the dangers of pot, and is taking a leaf from policy makers in Colorado, where marijuana is already legal.

    “One of the things that they have pointed out is that they wish, in retrospect, they had moved on the public education significantly before it became legal. They didn’t and so I’m taking that principle to heart. We can’t wait until July 1,” he adds.

    “It doesn’t necessarily need to be hard-hitting. It needs to be memorable but, again, it’s what is the best way to get information across?”

    Colorado’s Department of Public Health & Environment’s campaign includes online tip sheets with advice for youth, parents, pregnant women and on health impacts in general.

    In many cases, the warnings are blunt: “Brain development is not complete until age 25. For the best chance to reach their full potential, youth should not use marijuana.”

    The tip sheet for parents says “do not allow smoking in your home or around children. Marijuana smoke is not healthy. It has many of the same cancer-causing chemicals as tobacco smoke.”

    Pregnant women and new mothers are cautioned about pot use, given that marijuana can pass into the womb and make it harder for the child to pay attention and learn. The active ingredient in marijuana, THC, can also get into breast milk.

    Colorado also debunks some myths in its campaign, such as arguments like “since it’s legal, it must be safe” and “since it’s natural, it must be safe.”

    While Hoskins has heard the push from some quarters to make the age of majority for marijuana higher than 19 for health reasons, he says that risks leaving a larger black market the federal legislation is intended to quash.

    “If it’s too high…that age group is going to continue to find it in the illicit market.”

    0 0

    A Toronto man has been accused of spying for both Taiwan and China by Ottawa, which is trying to strip him of his permanent residency in Canada.

    Yang Wang, 39, came to Canada from China as an international student in 1998, first at Seneca College and later at York University, before he became a permanent resident here in 2006.

    In 2014, the Canada Border Services Agency initiated the revocation of Wang’s permanent resident status claiming he was inadmissible for allegedly engaging in espionage activities for the Military Intelligence Bureau (MIB), Taiwan’s spy agency, and China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS).

    According to border enforcement officials’ submissions to the immigration tribunal, Wang was offered money by a Taiwanese student “Mak” at York to provide information on the Chinese government. Over the course of time, he was alleged to have received $3,000 for his services.

    When Wang visited China in 2006, Canadian authorities claimed, he was taken to a motel by Chinese agents and later kept in touch with the MSS agents up until 2010.

    “This is totally wrong,” Wang, a small businessman in recycling and father of two, told the Star in an interview. “I have never been a spy. In my 19 years in Canada, I have always avoided to have anything to do with any community groups, associations or parties.”

    In a decision to dismiss the federal government’s request to revoke Wang’s permanent resident status, tribunal adjudicator Harry Adamidis said committing an act of espionage did not automatically render Wang inadmissible.

    “Espionage requires the gathering of information by spying, or by acting in a covert way. Information gathering that does not involve spying or covert means cannot constitute espionage,” Adamidis wrote in his decision.

    “It must be shown that the act of espionage was against Canada or against Canadian interests.”

    Although Canadian officials said Mak was “likely” an MIB recruiter, Adamidis pointed out it was based on their “belief” that Mak was Taiwanese and wanted to buy information about the Chinese government.

    Authorities also argued that Wang was questioned by Chinese spy agents for almost 16 days and volunteered the names and biographical details of people he knew, including Mak. They said answering questions during interrogation constituted espionage — an argument the tribunal rejected.

    “During the interrogation, (Wang) did not spy or covertly gather information. He was detained by state security officials and compelled to answer their questions,” wrote Adamidis. “Under these circumstances, it cannot be said that he engaged in espionage.”

    According to the tribunal decision, Chinese spy agents met with Wang in 2008 and asked him to join Chinese associations in Canada, engage with the community here and report back to them. Though they did stay in touch by email and phone until 2010, Wang said he did not accommodate their repeated requests.

    “If Mr. Wang had infiltrated Chinese groups in Canada, then it may be possible to make the inference suggested by the (Public Safety) Minister,” said Adamidis, who rejected the notion that Wang was member of China’s spy agency.

    “In the absence of such information, it would be entirely speculative to find that Mr. Wang has indeed joined Chinese associations in Canada and is spying on people for the MSS.”

    The federal government is appealing Adamidis’ decision to the immigration appeal tribunal.

    0 0

    What goes up must come down — until the city puts it up again.

    A park staircase in Etobicoke that’s been embroiled in controversy for nearly two weeks is set to open Saturday afternoon.

    The staircase at Tom Riley Park near the intersection of Bloor St. W. and Islington Ave. was built by city workers after they tore down a hand-made version constructed by a local resident.

    “If you have steps, that’s all I care about, safe steps for the people to use,” said Adi Astl, the 73-year-old man who became a local celebrity after building the makeshift wooden steps for $550 when he said he was told by the city that it could cost between $65,000 to $150,000.

    “Mine were better looking, however that’s not the point.”

    Astl said he built the steps with the help of a homeless man on June 22. They were dismantled by the city on July 21.

    The parks and recreation department said work on the steps started Monday, and welders were putting the finishing touches on the metal handrail Friday afternoon.

    “Within five days we got the steps, which is unheard of, for the government to do something from A to B in a week,” Astl said.

    “Everybody says that they were not safe, they were safe,” he said, and mentioned that a city official threatened to fine him $5,000 for building without a permit.

    Nonetheless, he noted that if his stairs had been left untouched, they’d have to be replaced every two to three years.

    The new stairs run between the park’s garden and the parking lot, where there was previously a steep grassy incline. That’s what motivated Astl to take action, who said it too was difficult to climb.

    He never thought he’d become a local celebrity though, but since his feud with the city over the stairs made the news last week, Astl said he’s had an avalanche of media requests, including from international outlets like BBC. He also said his $550 cost for the stairs was reimbursed by local radio station Newstalk 1010.

    0 0

    New White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci’s wife has filed for divorce, according to the New York Post.

    The paper, citing multiple sources, reported Friday that Deirdre Ball, 38, is giving the Mooch — with whom she has two children — the axe after three years of marriage. Apparently, Ball is not quite as sold on the Washington political lifestyle as Scaramucci, 53.

    “She liked the nice Wall Street life and their home on Long Island, not the insane world of D.C.,” an unnamed source told the tabloid.

    Another anonymous source claims clashing loyalties toward the commander in chief caused tension. Ball has been less than enthused about Scaramucci’s ascent in the ranks of Donald Trump’s White House. “Deidre is not a fan of Trump,” the source said.

    Scaramucci was photographed sans ring at the White House Friday.

    Read more:

    Meet Anthony Scaramucci, the fierce Trump loyalist who sparked Sean Spicer’s resignation

    Anthony Scaramucci calls Trump’s chief of staff a ‘paranoid schizophrenic,’ tosses foul insults at top strategist

    Who will ‘Saturday Night Live’ cast as its Scaramucci?

    0 0

    “There it is! Mommy, I see it!” yells one young boy, screaming around the bend of Charity Crescent ahead of his trailing younger sisters Friday morning.

    “I can see the cow!”

    Across the park, Theresa Pacariem holds her daughter in her arms on the front steps of her house, watching groups of people on bicycles and in cars come and go from her once-quiet street near Woodbine Ave. and Elgin Mills Rd. E.

    Less than two weeks after Charity was installed eight metres — or three storeys — above the centre of the crescent’s parkette, Markham’s giant stainless steel cow on stilts has become a tourist attraction.

    As soon as you turn the corner at the end of the street that boasts her namesake, she’s there, staring down at you. You can’t mistake her, with her bronze-leafed wreath, towering over the trees.

    The city has now put up a fence barricade to protect Charity from the crowds. A sign has also been installed, telling the famous cow’s story (she was a nine-time all-Canadian or all-American show cow, said to be the most productive milking cow in the world in the 1980s) and her pending September completion.

    “There was probably 200 people here yesterday taking selfies and pictures. They walk their children here and they’re in their strollers,” she says. “My angle isn’t as bad as some people. The people right in front of it have it even worse.”

    “This morning there was two big groups of women out here taking pictures,” chimes in her partner, Thomas Servellon, stepping out from the house to join her on the steps and watch.

    “Every few minutes you’ll see cars going by and people getting out to take pictures.”

    Around the bend, Lita Santiago plays with her granddaughter outside one of the 19 other homes that look directly at Charity.

    “It’s crazy, it’s crazy. It’s a tourist attraction now! Everyone comes over here,” she says, shaking her head and laughing.

    Tom Phillips told his partner Gayle they were going for lunch and an afternoon drive when he brought her to see the controversial monument.

    “If there’s any reason I would be pissed off here, it’s because idiots like us who live in Aurora who came down to see it,” he says, laughing about their 25-minute trek.

    After decades in the area, he’s familiar with the Roman family — who donated the $1.2-million cow statue to the site after developing the Cathedraltown neighbourhood and insisting it remain there despite local complaints.

    Still, he doesn’t understand the cow.

    “There was a dynasty here. Roman was famous for spending a lot of money on livestock,” he adds, while Gayle gets closer for a picture on her phone. “A million bucks eh, good lord. Just to think if you had a million bucks, you’d spend it on something wiser.”

    Pacariem says she’d be fine with Charity in her front yard if she weren’t on stilts.

    “I can see it from my window,” she says, shaking her head.

    “People around here don’t like it. It’s sitting right on top of those houses. You look out you see a cow and it’s on stilts,” echoes Theresa Yu, who has lived in the neighbourhood for more than a decade.

    But the stilts, that’s the part Phillips gets.

    “You could imagine if it was down here people would be spray painting and climbing on it — she’s a realist if nothing else,” he says of Helen Roman-Barber, who is developing the neighbourhood in honour of her family’s deep history in the area.

    “She can do whatever the hell she wants.”

    Some Charity Crescent homeowners are concerned the “eyesore” will diminish the value of their homes.

    Longtime Markham real estate agent John Procenko says that’s a matter of buyer preference.

    “One person would say ‘Oh, I’ll never buy this house’ and another person could say ‘where do I sign? It doesn’t bother me.’ It’s 50/50 really,” says Porchenko, who has sold homes in the area for 31 years.

    Still, eyesores often affect the value of a house, from cell phone and water towers to backing onto retail dumpsters, he says.

    “It’s not something you can put a dollar value on, maybe someone else loves it,” he says. “The neighbours don’t like it that are currently there.”

    0 0

    WASHINGTON—U.S. President Donald Trump advised police officers Friday to stop protecting the heads of arrested suspects they are putting in their cars, drawing a rare rebuke from the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

    “When you see these towns, and you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon — you just see ’em thrown in, rough. I said, ‘Please don’t be too nice,’ ” Trump told a group of federal, state and local officers in Brentwood, N.Y., address focused on the MS-13 gang.

    “Like when you guys put somebody in the car, and you’re protecting their head — the way you put the hand over — like, don’t hit their head, and they’ve just killed somebody, don’t hit their head? I said, ‘You can take the hand away, OK?’ ”

    His remarks were greeted with a brief moment of silence, then laughter and applause.

    Read More: Trump forces out embattled adviser Reince Priebus, as White House chaos grows

    The local police force, however, issued an official rejection of Trump’s guidance, writing on Twitter: “As a department, we do not and will not tolerate roughing up of prisoners.”

    And the police chiefs’ association released a statement saying “law enforcement officers are trained to treat all individuals, whether they are a complainant, suspect, or defendant, with dignity and respect.”

    “This is the bedrock principle behind the concepts of procedural justice and police legitimacy,” the statement concluded.

    Trump made “law and order” a centrepiece of his campaign, and he has long called for a merciless approach to crime that dispenses with “political correctness.”

    But he had never before, as president, given his blessing to the casual injuring of criminal suspects.

    Minutes after that remark, he declared, “Under the Trump administration, America is once more a nation of laws.”

    Trump was immediately condemned by human rights groups and civil liberties advocates.

    “Police cannot treat every community like an invading army, and encouraging violence by police is irresponsible and reprehensible,” said Zeke Johnson, senior director of programs at Amnesty International USA.

    “Causing intentional injury to a handcuffed suspect is not only against police procedure, but is a federal crime for which police officers have been sent to prison,” said Jonathan Blanks, managing editor of the National Police Misconduct Reporting Project at the libertarian Cato Institute.

    Blanks said, “the president made a mockery of the rule of law.”

    Trump also praised the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Thomas Homan, for appearing “rough.” Just as he wanted a rich man as his commerce secretary, he said, he wanted a rough man as the head of the agency responsible for deporting illegal immigrants.

    Trump has regularly criticized Chicago’s leaders for the city’s homicide problem, claiming it could be solved if officers there were allowed to be “much tougher.” On Friday, he told a story about an unnamed officer who supposedly declared the problem could be eradicated in “a couple days.”

    Trump has followed his words with actions; his administration, led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has moved to reduce federal scrutiny of rights-abusing local police forces the Obama administration investigated and sought to reform.

    Trump vowed to destroy MS-13, a multinational gang founded in Los Angeles, and to deport the members who are in the country illegally. He continued to describe MS-13 members as “animals,” discussing their murders in graphic terms: “They like to knife ’em and cut ’em and let ’em die slowly,” he said. He added: “Burned to death. Beaten to death. Just the worst kind of death. Stuffed in barrels.”

    The speech was light on substance, and Trump repeatedly meandered into other subjects. Addressing Republicans’ failure early Friday morning to pass a Senate plan to replace Obamacare, he said, “They should’ve approved health-care last night, but you can’t have everything. Boy, oh boy.”

    In another remarkable declaration, Trump said he now wants to “let Obamacare implode,” a move that would hurt the health-care of tens of millions of people.

    0 0

    Let’s talk about a few bad apples, and what they do. Or, about “a few bad apples” — in permanent quotation marks, almost audible in the manner it is spoken — the go-to cliché invoked whenever an episode of apparently unjustified police violence or misbehaviour becomes public.

    I’ve heard it, and the phrase has sprung to mind, after news this month about an off-duty police officer who is accused of using a metal pipe to beat Dafonte Miller, a Black teenager from Whitby, so badly he will lose the use of one of his eyes.

    Most cops are good people, many say. This is a just a case of “a few bad apples.”

    My sense is that people repeating it mean to suggest that the alleged bad actions we’ve become aware of don’t indicate a wider problem, don’t show a system-wide problem, shouldn’t reflect on entire police departments. From the context of the arguments it is used in, that’s what it seems to mean. My colleague Shree Paradkar took on the “bad apples” contention this week, arguing against exactly that interpretation.

    But what jumps out to me is that those using the cliché this way seem to be ignoring the rest of the old saying — perhaps they’ve used it so much and so often they forget what it is supposed to mean. And that’s particularly sad because police misconduct is one case in which the cliché seems particularly apt.

    “One bad apple spoils the bunch.” Its metaphorical meaning comes from a literal truth: a rotten apple in a bushel full of apples will cause the rest to rot, because overripe apples emit a gas that will hasten the ripening and eventual rotting of all the others around them.

    This is not a saying that warns against letting the behaviour of one or two members of a group affect your impression of the whole group. It is a saying advising you to remove bad members of a group before their toxicity contaminates everyone and everything around them.

    Let’s look at what we have learned about the case of Dafonte Miller: one night in December, around 3 a.m., Miller and some friends were walking down the street near where he lives in Whitby. It is alleged that Michael Theriault, an off-duty Toronto police officer, and Christian Theriault, a civilian said by Miller’s lawyer Julian Falconer to be his brother, approached the boys as they passed the house where Theriault’s father (also a Toronto police officer) lives, according to Falconer. It’s alleged by Falconer that Theriault identified himself as a police officer and demanded to know what Miller and his friends were doing there. When the boys refused to answer, the Theriault brothers allegedly chased them down, caught Miller and beat him with a steel pipe, breaking bones in his face and wrist and injuring his eye in way that means it will have to be removed. None of these allegations have been tested in court.

    According to Falconer, the teen called 911 and attempted to bang on the door of a neighbour to get help. When the Durham regional police arrived, they did not conduct much of an investigation — they took no witness statements, for example. Instead they charged Miller — the teen who had been beaten — with a series of crimes, including assault. Those charges were later dropped by the crown.

    Another thing Durham police did not do is call the Special Investigations Unit, which is responsible for handling investigations in which a police officer has seriously harmed or killed someone. They did, apparently, advise the Toronto police department that one of its officers had been involved in the incident. Toronto police did not report it to the SIU either.

    It was Miller’s lawyer, Falconer, who finally alerted the SIU to the alleged violent attack. In mid-July, the SIU laid charges against both Michael and Christian Theriault for aggravated assault, assault with a weapon, and public mischief.

    Now, let us assume — and hope — that there are very few police officers who would do what Theriault is alleged to have done: chase down and savagely beat a teen for no apparent reason other than, perhaps, that he was walking through the wrong neighbourhood at night — though it appears it was his own neighbourhood too, or close to it.

    Most cops I don’t believe would do something like that. Maybe just “a few bad apples.” But look what happened next: the on-duty Durham police called to the scene charged the alleged victim. Two different police departments failed to investigate and take action against the officer involved, and failed to alert the SIU who are supposed to independently investigate such allegations.

    It is becoming harder to believe that this type of behaviour — covering up for misbehaviour or violence, looking the other way or refusing to co-operate in investigations of alleged police officer misconduct — is uncommon or accidental.

    “It’s not fumbling ‘Keystone Cops’ here, it’s a consistent — and I’ve seen it in hundreds of cases — consistent thought process: Avoid the SIU at all cost,” former SIU director and Ontario ombudsman Andre Marin told the Star recently.

    My colleague Wendy Gillis reported this spring on more than 150 letters from the SIU to Toronto’s police chief complaining of actions by police that “appear to have violated their legal duty to co-operate with the provincial watchdog, including allegations police failed to immediately notify the SIU of a serious civilian injury or interfered with a scene after the watchdog took over an investigation.”

    The apparent code of silence in the protection of officers extends to the highest levels, where reports on problems and investigations are routinely kept secret from the public.

    Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders has called in Waterloo police to investigate the circumstances around the assault on Dafonte. Mayor John Tory has promised to make the findings public. Durham’s police Chief Paul Martin told the Star’s Peter Goffin he has ordered an internal review of his force’s response to the beating. Martin could not say if the findings would be made public.

    Some police or police supporters may think that anything that would make one officer look bad is bad for all police. So making sure it never becomes known, they might think, serves some greater cause.

    But shielding bad behaviour allows it to continue, and to spread. It makes those with bad intentions certain they have licence to act on them. It makes others less inclined to suppress their own worst impulses. It makes everyone involved — not just those who may have initiated bad actions or made mistakes — part of a coverup that perpetrates injustice. It takes an isolated rotten act and allows it to infect the whole system. The police department is an organization set up to uphold the law — if they start undermining it for their own purposes, they have already failed.

    And when such apparent coverups come to light, they rot out public confidence in the whole system, for good reason.

    A few bad apples? Maybe to start. But the only way to ensure they remain “only a few” is if they are identified, removed, and discarded from the rest as soon as possible. Otherwise, the cliché tells us surely enough what’s bound to happen.

    Edward Keenan writes on city issues . Follow: @thekeenanwire

    0 0

    WASHINGTON— U.S. President Donald Trump has ousted long-embattled chief of staff Reince Priebus, replacing him on Friday with homeland security secretary John Kelly, a retired four-star Marine Corps general.

    Trump announced the decision on Twitter, calling Kelly a “great American and a great leader” and a “true star of my Administration.”

    Priebus’s departure is another indication of the turmoil roiling a struggling administration plagued by infighting between its competing centres of influence. It leaves the White House even more firmly in the hands of people without conventional experience in politics.

    Priebus, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, is the second top Trump aide to depart in just a week. Press secretary Sean Spicer, who announced his resignation last Friday, had also been a senior official at the party committee.

    Though the news broke on Friday afternoon, Priebus told U.S. news outlets that he “resigned privately” on Thursday, the lowest point of a tenure that was rocky from the start.

    Read more:‘Please don’t be too nice’: Trump tells cops it’s fine if suspects hit their heads

    Trump’s press secretary pointedly refused to say whether the president still had confidence in Priebus. Then the New Yorker magazine released an interview in which Trump’s new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, insulted Priebus at length, calling him a “paranoid schizophrenic.”

    Trump has a fondness for generals. Kelly, who quickly earned his trust by attempting to salvage the flawed execution of his January travel ban policy, will now seek to impose order on the disorganized operation of a leader accustomed to instinctual improvisation.

    The military is an unusual but not unprecedented training ground for a chief of staff. During the Watergate scandal, Richard Nixon appointed Army general Alexander Haig, who later served in the same role for Gerald Ford.

    Kelly served 46 years in the military, including a stint as a top commander in the Iraq War. His new challenge is also formidable.

    Trump’s White House has been less formal than any in modern history, with senior aides walking in and out of the Oval Office as they please. The administration just failed to pass its flagship legislative initiative, a push to replace Obamacare. It is struggling with the growing reach of a special counsel’s probe into Trump’s campaign.

    It is notably short on legislative experience, though Kelly did spend time in the 1990s as a military liaison to Congress. And none of the president’s current aides have been able to rein in the impulsive behaviour that congressional Republicans say is impeding their agenda.

    Kelly joked gently about Trump during an interview two weeks ago. When his phone rang, he said, “It might be the president, so I do want to miss the call.”

    Priebus’s ouster was long in the making: he had been rumoured to be hanging by a thread since the first month of Trump’s presidency. Trump had appeared to authorize a public campaign by Scaramucci, a Wall St. financier hired just a week ago, to humiliate Priebus into quitting.

    Priebus still flew on Air Force One with Trump and Scaramucci to Trump’s Friday speech on Long Island. Trump tweeted the news of his ouster shortly after they landed back at a military base in Maryland. Priebus’s car then separated from the presidential motorcade as journalists snapped photos.

    “I would like to thank Reince Priebus for his service and dedication to his country. We accomplished a lot together and I am proud of him!” Trump said on Twitter.

    “I will continue to serve as a strong supporter of the President’s agenda and policies. I can’t think of a better person than General John Kelly to succeed me and I wish him God’s blessings and great success,” Priebus said in a statement.

    Priebus clashed at the beginning of Trump’s term with chief strategist Steve Bannon and more recently with Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the president’s influential family members. The president himself had never seemed fond of Priebus, frequently scolding him and undermining him behind the scenes.

    “I’m happy for Reince,” Republican strategist Katie Packer Beeson‏ said on Twitter. “He is a decent man who got caught up in this mess and didn’t deserve the treatment he received.”

    The New York Times and other outlets reported that Trump blamed Priebus for their initial failure to get their health bill passed and for the general dysfunction others believe has been caused by the president himself. At one point, according to Politico, Trump gave Priebus an implausible deadline of July 4 to clean up the administration.

    The Times reported that Trump scornfully reminded Priebus that he had advised Trump to drop out of the election after the release of a tape in which Trump appeared to boast about groping women.

    “If you’ve lost the confidence of the president, people smell it, feel it, know it within seconds — and you become an overblown scheduler,” Erskine Bowles, one of Bill Clinton’s chiefs of staff, told author Chris Whipple for The Gatekeepers, his book on the men who have held the job.

    Chiefs of staff generally do not last long; the average tenure is less than two years. At just six months and a week, Priebus’s term was especially brief.

    Only the widely respected James Baker’s second tenure in the job was shorter, at five months, and he was covering off the end of George H.W. Bush’s administration. Priebus is the only the second chief to leave in less than a year as the president’s tenure continued.

    It’s “the toughest job in government,” Baker told NPR in April. Priebus, he said, was being undercut by Trump’s decision to give various aides “broad and rather undefined responsibilities that cut across both domestic and foreign policy.”

    “It’s very difficult under those circumstances to have a co-ordinated, single, focused message, and that’s something that’s very important to the success of an administration,” Baker said.

    Trump’s allies outside the White House, such as political operative Roger Stone and Newsmax chief executive Chris Ruddy, had been calling for Priebus’s ouster since February, when Stone said“it’s time for the little man to go.”

    Priebus’s power had waned further in the subsequent months. His hand-picked deputy, former RNC official Katie Walsh, was pressured out of the White House in March, and another ally, communications director Mike Dubke, quit in May after just three months. One of Scaramucci’s first acts was forcing out yet another ally, assistant press secretary Michael Short.

    0 0

    Witnesses say they saw “a big ball of fire” coming from an Air Canada flight that took off from Pearson Airport Friday night.

    Air Canada said the flight bound for Ottawa turned back shortly after taking off because of engine issues.

    Anwar Haq told the Star he was at his friend’s backyard barbecue in the Rexdale area in Etobicoke when he heard a “big bang” around 7:50 p.m.

    “I looked up and saw an airplane and then there was a big ball of fire coming from the left engine.”

    Haq said the fire went out and then he heard three more loud bangs.

    “It was pretty loud, but the plane seemed to be flying OK.”

    Air Canada spokesperson Angela Mah said flight AC476, which took off at around 7:30 p.m., landed safely back at Toronto Pearson International Airport with an emergency response team standing by.

    According to Air Canada, no one was injured and the aircraft is being inspected to determine the cause of the issue.

    “We’re getting our customers on their way as quickly as possible; the flight will resume with another aircraft shortly,” Mah told the Star in an email.

    Sara Dalla Guarda also saw the plane flying over the Rexdale area around 7:50 p.m.

    “I was on my driveway and then I heard loud popping noises.”

    Dalla Guarda said when she looked up she saw flames coming from the left engine followed by black smoke. She then heard five to ten “loud pops.”

    “There was fire coming from the engine and then it stopped, and then there was black smoke,” she said. “But the plane didn’t look like it was out of control.”

    0 0

    A Toronto man has been charged with second-degree murder after a fatal shooting in Vaughan on Friday morning.

    York Regional police responded to an call at around 7 a.m. on Tall Grass Trail, near Pine Valley Dr. and Highway 7.

    Officers found a man with serious injuries. He was taken to hospital where it was discovered that he had a gunshot wound.

    Roy Khan, 24, of Vaughan, succumbed to his injuries Friday afternoon, police said.

    York Regional Police have arrested and charged Kevin Khemraj Deonath, 29, with second-degree murder.

    He is being held in custody and will appear for a bail hearing at a Newmarket court on Monday or Tuesday.

    Police said the investigation is ongoing and anyone with information is asked to contact the homicide unit or Crime Stoppers.

    0 0

    The union for 700 striking workers at Canada’s busiest airport says the strike caused significant baggage handling delays Friday evening.

    Friday’s delays lasted anywhere from 20 minutes to three hours, because experienced ground crew were walking the picket line, said Harjinder Badial, a spokesman for the Teamsters local representing the workers.

    “There were significant delays,” said Badial. “The [Greater Toronto Airport Authority] hasn’t been reporting it, but we have been watching the tarmac as well.”

    Swissport handles ground crew for 30 of Pearson’s 74 airlines, including Air Transat, Air France, and Sunwing, but WestJet and Air Canada are not serviced by the company.

    Read more: Pearson airport ground crew workers on strike

    700 baggage handlers, ground crew at Pearson Airport on strike

    The Greater Toronto Airports Authority said in a statement Saturday that there were “some early departures and some delays with scheduled flights” on Friday.

    Swissport promised passengers in a statement issued Friday night that it has brought in properly trained staff to keep its operations moving at Pearson during the strike.

    “So far, it is business as usual and we will be keeping a close watch to ensure that it remains this way,” the company said.

    But Badial predicted that Sunday could see greater delays than Friday, noting that all of Swissport’s contracted airlines will have flights landing at Pearson.

    “It’s a challenging day for our members when they’re on the job on a Sunday,” Badial said. “We’ll see what happens with these guys.”

    Badial said Swissport had reached out to him on Friday and offered to continue talking, but wouldn’t budge from its latest offer.

    The workers walked off the job Thursday evening after rejecting Swissport’s latest proposal.

    Among their concerns are pay and benefits cuts, as well as Swissport’s hiring of 250 temporary workers last May.

    0 0

    CAMP HUMPHREYS, SOUTH KOREA—This small American city has four schools and five churches, an Arby’s, a Taco Bell and a Burger King. The grocery store is offering a deal on Budweiser as the temperature soars, and out front there’s a promotion for Ford Mustangs.

    But for all its invocations of the American heartland, this growing town is in the middle of the South Korean countryside, in an area that was famous for growing huge grapes.

    “We built an entire city from scratch,” said Col. Scott W. Mueller, garrison commander of Camp Humphreys, one of the U.S. military’s largest overseas construction projects. If it were laid across Washington, the 3,454-acre base would stretch from Key Bridge to Nationals Park, from Arlington National Cemetery to the Capitol.

    Read more: North Korea’s latest missile test puts Toronto, much of U.S. within range, experts say

    “New York has been a city for 100-some years and they’re still doing construction. But the majority of construction here will be done by 2021,” Mueller said. (New York was actually founded nearly 400 years ago.)

    The U.S. military has been trying for 30 years to move its headquarters in South Korea out of Seoul and out of North Korean artillery range.

    Since the end of World War II, the military has been based at Yongsan, a garrison that had been the Imperial Japanese Army’s main base during Japan’s occupation of the Korean Peninsula. It is in the middle of Seoul and just 40 miles from the demilitarized zone that separates the two Koreas.

    The South Korean and American governments have been talking since 1987 about moving the base away from Yongsan, but political and funding issues had slowed the process. Protests broke out a little over a decade ago when the Pyeongtaek, a sleepy rural city 40 miles south of Yongsan, was chosen as the new base site.

    Now, the $11 billion base is beginning to look like the garrison that military planners envisaged decades ago.

    The Eighth Army moved its headquarters here this month and there are about 25,000 people based here, including family members and contractors.

    There are apartment buildings, sports fields, playgrounds and a water park, and an 18- hole golf course with the generals’ houses overlooking the greens. There is a “warrior zone” with Xboxes and Playstations, pool tables and dart boards, and a tavern for those old enough to drink.

    Starting this August, there will be two elementary schools, a middle school and a high school. A new, 68-bed military hospital to replace the one at Yongsan is close to completion.

    That is in addition to the airfield, the tank training areas and firing ranges.

    When it is finished, the base will be able to house precisely 1,111 families and a total of about 45,500 people.

    But it’s not just bigger; it’s much more modern than the garrison at Yongsan, Mueller said. It has state-of-the-art communications technology and is a more “hardened” site to protect against a possible North Korean attack.

    “Down here we’re a little bit further from the action, and that helps buy us some strategic decision space should anything happen,” Mueller said. “We’ve been able to create the facilities needed to keep up with the pace of modern warfare and modern communications technology.”

    Although the recent concerns about North Korea have centred on its rapidly evolving ballistic missile capability, the Kim regime has a huge amount of conventional artillery lined up on its side of the border that would be able to inflict significant damage on Seoul in a short space of time. It is this concern that has restrained American presidential administrations from launching a pre-emptive strike on North Korea’s nuclear weapons facilities.

    But the new Camp Humphreys is out of range of North Korea’s multiple rocket launchers, although that hasn’t stopped the North Koreans from making threats.

    “The larger the U.S. military base is, the more effectively our military can hit its targets,” a North Korean military spokesman said this month after the Eighth Army moved here, according to the North’s Korean Central News Agency.

    Under an agreement with the South Korean military, one U.S. Army brigade will remain at Camp Casey, right near the DMZ, even after the Yongsan garrison has closed.

    The construction of Camp Humphreys had raised hopes for the local economy, which had not exactly been flourishing before the area was selected for the base.

    Local authorities have built a $13 million train station and a new four-lane highway bridge, and invested $55 million in a new substation to deliver power to the base. The main roads in Pyeongtaek are lined with new apartment towers.

    Immediately outside the base, local businesses are vying to prove how pro-American they are. There are dozens of real estate agencies with American flags on their windows and names such as “Komerican Realty,” while two of the new housing developments outside the base are called “Lincoln Palace” and “Capitolium.” The parking spaces in the developments are bigger, to fit American cars.

    There are restaurants offering all-you-can-eat Korean meat dinner buffets for $11, Tex- Mex joints and even a Hooters rip-off. The barbershop offers flat-tops and “skin fade” cuts, and there are other services you don’t find in an average South Korean town, such as “All African American Caribbean style” hair braiding.

    Because soldiers below the rank of staff sergeant are not allowed to drive in South Korea, even off base, young Americans on bicycles rigged up with small motors sputter through the streets.

    But there is a sense of frustration that the base hasn’t produced a gold rush.

    “Business is so-so,” said Suh Hee-yeon, the owner of one U.S. Forces Korea-approved real estate agency on the main drag, which offers housing for those who will live off base. She has been here for a decade and doesn’t welcome the new firms that have arrived as the base gets closer to completion. “There’s too much competition now and we have to share the limited amount of business,” she said.

    Some here worry about increased crime and that American soldiers will be on the prowl for local women. The U.S. Army has developed an app so troops can check which bars have been deemed off-limits, either because they’ve been caught serving drinks to minors or because they’re selling sex.

    Others complain that the new arrivals don’t learn Korean and expect local store owners to speak English.

    But worse than that is the fear that the soldiers just won’t patronize their businesses.

    “They rarely come out from their bases,” said Park Jong-ho, who has run a shoe shop here for the past three years. “They have everything they need there on the base.”

    0 0

    The Ontario Provincial Police have identified the victim of a fatal stabbing in Bolton early Saturday as a 36-year-old Toronto man.

    Around 2:33 a.m. police responded to the corner of Highway 50 and Ellwood Dr. for a report of a stabbing near a gas station.

    When officers arrived, they found a man in obvious trauma. He was taken to an area hospital where he later died of his injuries. He has been identified as Alexander Lemon, 36, of Toronto.

    A post-mortem is scheduled for Sunday in Toronto.

    Police said the preliminary investigation revealed that the victim and four people, two men and two women, were involved in a physical altercation before the stabbing.

    Two men and one woman are in custody and police are still looking for the other woman involved.

    Police ask that anyone with information regarding this homicide is being asked to contact the Caledon OPP or Crime Stoppers.

    0 0

    Unlike the roadside attractions he catalogued, Ed Solonyka was not attention-seeking. He worked for the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, was slightly taller than the national average, and had a moustache from the time he could grow one.

    During a family vacation in the early 1990s, the Sudbury geologist became fascinated with the monuments that interrupted the Canadian landscape. The internet was young and Ed, then in his 40s, made a website chronicling roadside attractions, like the big nickel in his hometown. People sent along their photos, and it became a never-ending census that captured monuments like the Wawa goose, and more obscure finds like the “World’s Largest Endangered Ferruginous Hawk,” in Leader, Sask.

    In January 2015, I emailed Solonyka, believing his site could be a way into a series about small towns: “That sounds like a dream project,” he replied promptly. “Unfortunately I have a cold presently, however perhaps sometime later this week or next week I’ll be in touch to arrange a time.”

    The series didn’t happen, and this summer, I noticed Solonyka’s website had changed. It looked modern, and there was a note:

    “For more than 17 years, Ed regularly maintained and updated the site, which is now the authoritative list of large roadside attractions in Canada … For some of us, the challenge was to find a roadside attraction not yet listed on the site — take the photo and send it to Ed to be added to the list. And it was fascinating to keep track of the expanding list of roadside attractions — even, and perhaps especially, those that we weren’t likely to see in real life.

    “On December 19, 2015, Ed passed away.

    “This website will go on, in memory of Ed.”

    When people travelled by rail and stage coach in the 1890s, “roadside attractions” were lakes, villages, and even a patch of finely cut grass. One of the earliest references in the age of the automobile was a pile of stones stacked in an Illinois field and noted in Bloomington’s Pantagraph newspaper in 1924. By the time Ed Solonyka was born in Winnipeg in 1946, the car was king, and communities throughout North America were building more showy displays of local pride, using concrete, wood and steel.

    David Stymeist, a retired anthropology professor from the University of Manitoba, spent many summers in the ’90s living in his van as he drove across Canada to research the folk art phenomenon, speaking to people about their town’s giant coffee cup or Plexiglas mosquito. He often turned to Solonyka’s site. “I found things I didn’t know about or wouldn’t have ever found,” he says.

    He found monuments weren’t as abundant in southern Ontario, but they appeared more frequently on the edge of the Canadian Shield, and into northern Ontario. The “true heartland” was the prairies. Some were made by professional artists, others by locals, and they were a part of the Canadian consciousness in a way that hadn’t happened in the U.S. They were affirmations — a sign of settlement, history, economy and achievement, but sometimes they were contested symbols, and occasionally people got mad about all the money being spent.

    Take the pysanka in Vegreville, Alta., for instance. Its construction in the 1970s was delayed and people began to criticize the cost. “There were rumours that some local youth were planning to blow up the partially constructed statue with dynamite, and the project’s designer began to spend nights at the site to ward off an attack,” Stymeist wrote in the Journal of Canadian Studies in 2012.

    Ed Solonyka, who grew up in a Ukrainian family, had a soft spot for that big Ukrainian Easter egg, decorated with equilateral triangles and stars. (“The first computer modelling of an egg,” the town website notes, calling it one of the “premier tourist attractions on the Yellowhead Highway.”)

    Solonyka studied at the University of Manitoba before moving to Toronto to work in geology and mining. That’s where he met Phil Hum, who would steer him toward the world of web design when the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines relocated to Sudbury in the 1990s.

    Because he owned a computer and knew how to use it, Hum became the ministry’s webmaster in those innocent days of chat rooms and page counters. With a limited budget, Hum asked each department for a “champion” who wouldn’t mind learning HTML. Solonyka was a joiner, and of course, he was in.

    Together, the friends experimented on the ministry’s internal development site, copying and pasting bits of code they admired. They found a graphic of Indiana Jones in a mine car that was tantalizingly on brand, but “we can’t put cartoons on a government of Ontario site,” Hum recalls from his Sudbury home, laughing.

    They enjoyed a good laugh, but they were analytical types who thought things through.

    “When we were in the office, even on casual days, we still wore office casual attire,” he says.

    Hum passed the exciting graphics to Solonyka, who had created two websites at home. The first honoured his uncle, Ukrainian-Canadian poet Volodimir Barabash, and the second was dedicated to roadside attractions. It had two spinning maple leaves and a Canadian flag blowing in the breeze of the information superhighway. In the beginning, there were two dozen photos from his family vacations.

    In the pictures, Tanya Solonyka, now 35, can watch herself grow up beside objects she will never reach in height. The earliest photo is pixilated, but she must be 11, standing under a moose, wearing a striped T-shirt and pink shorts. She remembers how her dad stopped the minivan where the Trans-Canada jogs north outside of Dryden, Ont., on a family trip to Winnipeg.

    Stymeist visited the same moose during one of his research trips. They are a popular animal in the roadside attraction game, with about 30 statues across Canada.

    “Some kid chiselled off his genitals, which was remarked to me as being a terrible thing to have happened,” Stymeist says. “They were kind of outraged by this.”

    (A town official told the anthropologist that while Moose Jaw, Sask., may have a bigger moose, Dryden’s was more realistic. “It’s true,” says Stymeist, which is big of him, as a Moose Jaw resident.)

    Tanya Solonyka remembers how her dad would sit at the oak desk in their living room for hours. When the computer whirred to life, he marvelled at the questions and photos in his inbox. He categorized the attractions by location, alphabet and type, and had a special group for “planes on pedestals.”

    “Anytime he’d be driving somewhere for work, he’d always have to detour to go find those planes,” his daughter says.

    He kept the site immaculate, like the backyard garden he nurtured with his wife. The couple were private people, and the website became this “weird social activity for him,” Tanya says. He liked the connections.

    Dale Redekopp, a retired air force pilot from Alberta, was a frequent correspondent. He liked documenting ghost towns and grain elevators, and during his drives on the prairie back roads he often came across oddities like the giant fibreglass man, “out standing in his field” near Moose Jaw.

    “We call him Bob,” says Gord Gadd, who owns Mid Prairie Body Centre. “In the ’90s, there was a Doritos commercial, and it was, ‘Where’s Bob?’ So we named him Bob.”

    Gadd found the giant in an auto wrecking yard, smashed and broken, a relic of a fibreglass moulding process that created muscular men as advertising gimmicks. Gadd sculpted him back into shape and set him up in the field in the 1990s. In Saskatchewan, where people often navigate by landmark, Bob is helpful to locals.

    When Redekopp saw Bob, he pulled over, walked into the field, and stood beside the man’s legs for scale. Then he sent the photo to Ed.

    Lorraine Hirning, who lives in British Columbia, bought her first digital camera in the early days of the site so she could do the same thing.

    “It’s awesome to just go wander,” she says. “A lot of people wander to museums, to art galleries. I tend to wander to the smaller towns.”

    Like early cartographers, Solonyka’s internet friends fanned out across the country to create their new map. Hirning planned her vacations around the task and emailed the last of her photos each fall with a cheery “see you next year.”

    It was like a family without the baggage, “because nobody threw much baggage out there,” Hirning says.

    Like Redekopp, Hirning only communicated with Ed by email. She invited him and his wife to Melita, Man., for the unveiling of the town’s big banana in 2010, but Ed wrote back to say they wouldn’t make it. (It was another divisive landmark: “I guess some people think maybe money could be spent on health care or roads and streets instead of building bananas,” Mayor Bob Walker told the Winnipeg Free Press, “I think anything that attracts people to the town of Melita is good for the town of Melita.”)

    When Solonyka was diagnosed with leukemia the following year, he didn’t tell many people. He didn’t want people to treat him differently. The doctors said it wasn’t an aggressive form and he didn’t need treatment until 2015. Chemotherapy went well and Hum would often pick him up for the weekly lunch with his coworkers.

    Solonyka enjoyed work, but looked forward to more free time in retirement. He wanted to modernize the site, and drive an RV across Canada to every attraction. His wife laughed; not for her. Tanya said sure. She’d go and see “all those crazy things.”

    Her favourite was the “Happy Rock” in Gladstone, Man. Back when she was a kid, they would pass it on the way to visit her cousins: a smiling fibreglass rock wearing a top hat, giving the thumbs-up on a neatly manicured lawn.

    In November 2015, her father rang the remission bell. He was back at work, and happy to have a powerful new computer at home. He emailed Redekopp to ask about the exact location of a dragon and a Minion statue, and added a few new photos.

    In mid-December, he didn’t feel well. His children rushed home as his cancer became very aggressive very quickly. Everybody was shocked by the change, including Ed. He died less than a week before Christmas.

    Amid the grief, Canada’s supply of roadside attractions was unceasing. Nobody knew Solonyka was unwell. Some learned he had died when his wife emailed them for the first time.

    Redekopp, who learned about Ed’s death from Hirning, had never heard Ed’s voice. The webmaster was a mystery. “I had no idea what he had done before,” he says. “I assumed he was retired. I’m not even sure where he lived.”

    He had a sense from years of respectful, prompt emails: Ed was a real nice guy.

    “He was following his dream, and allowing many of us to live it with him,” Hirning says.

    Redekopp sends photos of grain elevators to a man in Nova Scotia for a different website, and they banter back and forth about grandchildren. But Ed didn’t veer off track from his solution-oriented correspondence. Redekopp once spotted a homemade plane in his travels in Alberta. A man had built it, he died, and his widow didn’t know what to do, so a friend raised it high on a pedestal. He emailed the details to Ed.

    Ed had a separate category for “planes on pedestals,” but they had to be planes with real flight hours.

    “I said, well, let’s put it on large roadside attractions — and he did,” Redekopp says.

    Lorraine Hirning didn’t have the time or skills to take over the site. Worried it would disappear, she printed a full copy.

    Mira and Mike van Bodegom noticed the site was stale in the winter of 2016, and they too found out what had happened. They had been followers since 2002, when they were a couple of newlyweds looking for adventure. Back then, they hit the road in their Ford Tempo to see an old plane and police car on the roof of the Cainsville, Ont., flea market. The site had been the source of countless road trips.

    They didn’t want it to disappear. With the Solonykas’ support, the van Bodegoms agreed to take over. Their 12-year-old son, Smith (Smitty), is a computer programming whiz, and it has become a family project. This summer, they added the site’s 1,500th attraction: a silver maple key in Cambridge.

    Ed Solonyka would have been humbled and honoured. He had been so proud of his website that, in a rare instance of self-promotion, he ordered a red baseball cap with “Large Roadside Canadian Attractions,” embroidered in white thread. It was his favourite hat.

    His daughter would tease him. “This is going to be your claim to fame,” she’d say, and he’d stick his tongue out. But she was right. It was noted in his obituary, alongside his love of gardening and his volunteer work with the Out of the Cold program. For a small but passionate segment of the Canadian population, it is impossible to see a roadside attraction without thinking of Ed Solonyka.

    He didn’t get the chance to take his final road trip, but he laid the groundwork in more than 1,000 co-ordinates that dot the country like a bad case of chicken pox on the site’s new map. Maybe you’ll remember him if you find yourself in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. It’s between the flagpole and the gazebo in Montmartre, Sask.

    Ed Solonyka’s favourites

    • Wawa goose (Wawa, Ont.)

    • Big Nickel (Sudbury, Ont.)

    • World’s largest pysanka (Vegreville, Alta.)

    • 12.8-metre sausage (Mundare, Alta.)

    0 0

    Hello, I’m Rob Refsynder.

    And so it went for Toronto’s newest Blue Jay. While the utility infielder didn’t exactly wear a nametag in the dugout, he did spend much of Saturday afternoon introducing himself to his new teammates.

    Made it to the ballpark from Buffalo barely in time for the first pitch, after a 90-minute cross-border stall, given the third degree by customs agents.

    “They were pretty tough. A lot more questions than I was anticipating.”

    Only when the work permit was confirmed was the 26-year-old — born in South Korea, adopted as a baby by California parents — allowed to step foot in Canada.

    A sellout crowd at the Rogers Centre got their first gander at Refsnyder when he trotted out to pinch run for catcher Miguel Montero in the bottom of the ninth. Never got beyond second base, though, when Jose Bautista grounded into a game-ending double play.

    “It was nice to get in and get the jitters out of the way a little bit.”

    A little bit of speed on the bases would be nice for the phlegmatic Jays, too. Sluggish sluggers might best describe them this season.

    With Troy Tulowitzki starting another stint on the DL after crumbling across first base Friday night — made bad contact both with the bag and first baseman C.J. Cron — Refsnyder was summoned from the Triple-A Bisons.

    A one-time highly regarded prospect with the Yankees, then designated for assignment, Refsnyder is hoping to rekindle his major-league dreams with the Jays, acquired from New York last Sunday in a low-risk trade that sent minor-leaguer Ryan McBroom the other way.

    He’d spent time with the Yankees in each of the past two seasons — 20 games this year — but had clearly fallen out of their long-term plans. In 41 Triple-A games this year, he has a slash line of .318/.398/.459.

    The Jays have no shortage of utility players but Refsnyder has recently seen service all over the infield, and with Tulowitzki on the 10-day DL (for now) he’s getting an opportune shot in Toronto.

    “It was pretty exciting,” Refsnyder said about learning that he’d become Jays property. “I was at my in-laws’ in Illinois, kind of just relaxing and trying to stay in shape. Wasn’t really anticipating another AL East team, to be honest. Obviously I’d played in Buffalo a couple of times throughout the year (in the Yankees’ minor-league system). It seemed like a better opportunity than what I was getting the past couple of years in New York.”

    Upon reporting to the Bisons, Refsnyder liked what he heard from the Jays about his immediate future.

    Versatile, which made him attractive to Toronto. Hard-pressed to say where he feels most comfortable, though it’s been mostly at second. “Man, I can’t even dial down where exactly I was playing. I was more of an insurance policy, if somebody got hurt or something like that. I was bouncing around a lot.”

    Savouring his return to The Show, even if Saturday was a brief cameo appearance.

    “Coming here, late in the season, electric atmosphere. I look at players I’ve admired from the other dugout for a couple of years. I’ll see where I kind of fit in. Right now I just want to be one of the guys, put the work in, get here early, stay late, all the clichés.’’

    He got chatting with Aaron Sanchez in the dugout and, if nothing else, was relieved that he won’t have to face him from the mound.

    “Man, I think I’m 0-for-30 against Sanchez.”

    Toronto also optioned reliever Chris Smith to Buffalo, swapping him for Mike Bolsinger, who would have started if Francisco Liriano had been traded by game time. Which he wasn’t. Stay tuned.

older | 1 | .... | 967 | 968 | (Page 969) | 970 | 971 | .... | 1035 | newer