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Articles on this Page
- 07/31/17--14:28: _Aviation authoritie...
- 07/31/17--13:30: _Who is the mystery ...
- 07/31/17--06:51: _Wynne shuffles cabi...
- 07/31/17--10:33: _It’s finally ‘start...
- 07/31/17--18:12: _Losing Liriano hits...
- 07/31/17--15:52: _Crash claims cost t...
- 07/31/17--14:31: _Ottawa expropriated...
- 07/31/17--13:54: _Patient ‘shocked, u...
- 07/31/17--11:45: _Donald Trump fires ...
- 08/01/17--09:01: _Man, 58, and boy, 6...
- 08/01/17--13:45: _TRCA to launch inve...
- 08/01/17--09:58: _Indigenous advocate...
- 08/01/17--13:43: _Supreme Court rever...
- 08/01/17--03:46: _Video shows shooter...
- 08/01/17--14:47: _Mayor John Tory wan...
- 08/01/17--17:50: _Police tell worried...
- 08/01/17--07:49: _Why the latest Dona...
- 08/01/17--14:49: _GTA man sues Brantf...
- 08/01/17--17:00: _Little by little, S...
- 08/01/17--16:22: _Meet the man behind...
- 07/31/17--06:51: Wynne shuffles cabinet after Murray's departure
- 07/31/17--18:12: Losing Liriano hits Jays teammates hard: DiManno
- 07/31/17--15:52: Crash claims cost the TTC $33.6 million last year
- 08/01/17--09:01: Man, 58, and boy, 6, dead in apparent murder-suicide in East York
- 08/01/17--03:46: Video shows shooter in Queen St. E. bar
- 08/01/17--14:47: Mayor John Tory wants TTC fare freeze for 2018
- 08/01/17--17:00: Little by little, Senate Republicans are abandoning Donald Trump
- 08/01/17--16:22: Meet the man behind the artistic formations at the Leslie Spit
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration can no longer ignore what a federal judge called “the Case of the Incredible Shrinking Airline Seat.”
Judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Friday directed the FAA to “adequately address” a petition that raised safety concerns about the increasingly cramped conditions on airplanes.
The court found that the petition, filed in 2015 by Flyers Rights, a consumer advocacy group, had identified a genuine safety issue caused by the combination of shrinking seats and larger passengers. The petition said the reduced space could make it difficult for passengers to evacuate in emergencies.
The petition said the distance between seats from row to row had decreased to an average of about 79 centimetres from an average of about 89 centimetres and that the average seat width had narrowed by about 3.8 centimetres since the early 2000s.
The petition also noted the average American had grown significantly larger. Citing data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it said the average adult man was 191 pounds, a gain of 25 pounds from 1960 to 2002, and the average adult woman had gained 24 pounds, to 164 pounds, in that time.
Passengers in Canada have faced a similar contraction in the size of aircraft seats and the space between them in recent years, said Halifax-based airline passenger rights advocate Gabor Lukacs.
He said that the width of some seats has shrunk by about 3.8 centimetres, while leg room has been reduced even more, arguing that on top of impacting customer comfort and health, the cramping poses a potential hazard in the case of an emergency evacuation.
Lukacs on Monday also said broader human rights issues are at stake, especially in cases where airlines single out passengers based solely on their physical characteristics.
In a complaint originally filed to the Canadian Transportation Agency in 2014, Lukacs took issue with Delta Air Line’s practice of bumping obese travellers from flights or making them relocate or buy two seats on a plane.
The quasi-judicial tribunal dismissed the complaint, finding that Lukacs had no private or public standing in the matter since he was not directly affected and was not himself obese.
The Federal Court of Appeal unanimously disagreed with what Lukacs called the “nonsensical” decision, finding that a slim advocate could stand up for obese people — and ordered the agency to take another look at Delta’s policy.
The Supreme Court in February granted Delta leave to appeal, with a hearing possible before the end of the year. The decision was welcomed by the airline which said in a statement that it was pleased the top court will “decide this issue.”
A spokesperson for Transport Canada did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.
The U.S. ruling, meanwhile, comes as the airline industry continues to be buffeted by concerns about its treatment of customers, exacerbated by high-profile flight-related complaints.
Recent episodes include the violent removal of a passenger from a United Airlines flight and an acidic exchange on Twitter between the conservative commentator Ann Coulter and Delta Air Lines after Coulter was made to give up her pre-selected seat.
Judge Patricia A. Millett wrote that the FAA had denied the petition based on a “vaporous record” of “off-point studies and undisclosed tests using unknown parameters.” She said the agency cited tests that either did not appropriately address seating space or were omitted from the record entirely because the FAA said they were proprietary.
Flyers Rights called the ruling a victory for airline passengers. The FAA said in a statement that it was “studying the ruling carefully and any potential actions we may take to address the court’s findings.”
Arthur Alan Wolk, a lawyer who specializes in aviation law, called the court’s ruling “groundbreaking.”
“This is the first case I have seen where an organization has successfully challenged the FAA’s basically being asleep at the switch and not fulfilling its safety responsibilities adequately,” he said in an interview Sunday.
The ruling does not necessarily compel the agency to set new standards for seating. Wolk acknowledged that the FAA might deny the petition again after further review, something that the court asked it to do only if it had “appropriate record support for its decision.”
Still, he said, the judges had called the FAA’s bluff as it tried to defend itself with data that it would not disclose to the court.
“The court pointed out that it would be impossible for it to make a decision in favour of an agency that decided to withhold the very information upon which it claims to have made its judgments,” he said. “In short, the FAA stonewalled the plaintiff and the court said it cannot have it both ways.”
In 2016, the U.S. House and Senate rejected measures that would have required the FAA to set minimum seat-size standards. A similar bicameral bill was resurrected in March by a bipartisan group of lawmakers. It has not yet been voted on.
With files from Star staff
With files from Star staff
Large pillars made of discarded concrete slabs towered above three young people, forming a semicircle around loudspeakers blaring hip hop.
While impressive, it wasn’t what we were looking for. It took more than an hour of riding through tall grass, prickly plants and unkempt roads by bicycle last week to find the bizarre-looking structures at the Leslie St. Spit.
A video circulated on social media earlier in the day, depicting a large villa-like formation made of heavy cinder blocks and bricks, complete with porches, benches and walkways leading down to the lake. The young people were suspicious when first approached but became enthusiastic when the Star explained its mission to find that formation and the person behind it.
“His name is Robert,” said Ben Walters, who said he saw the builder multiple times this year, but didn’t know his last name.
“He’s an older guy, white dude, said he worked construction. Oddball would be the first adjective that comes to mind. He’s the legend of the Spit.”
Walters, 20, helped locate the sought-after site, flashing pictures on his phone of Robert and his creations along the way.
“It was massive. It was beautiful, unbelievable,” he said. “There was a central column made of cinder blocks, almost like a sharp cone. Around it were curvy walls made of bricks.”
Similar but smaller, structures at the Spit were first reported in the Star in 2010. Nobody back then knew who put them up, either.
Along the eastern edge of the Spit, a few hundred metres past the first structure, debris lay strewn across the ground — a typical sight at the Spit, a peninsula made of landfill and reclaimed by nature on Toronto’s eastern shores. But it was clear what had happened: the complex had been reduced to rubble — all of it.
It was razed because it was erected on uneven ground and posed a risk to visitors, said Jen Brailsford, a communications officer at Ports Toronto, in a written statement.
“Although beautiful, the structures were built without our knowledge in a publicly accessibly area, which is often frequented by visitors of all ages whose safety is our top priority,” she said. “One sculpture was approximately 20 feet high (about two storeys or a little more than six metres) and there was no mortar between bricks to provide stability.”
The smaller-scale pillars that still stand were spared because they didn’t present the same risk, she added.
Walters said he believed the structures were built single-handedly.
“(Robert) had this little cart attached to his bike,” he said. “He must have moved thousands of pounds of concrete. The guy’s just out here all the time.”
The builder himself has proven to be enigmatic: attempts to reach the man referred to as Robert were unsuccessful, despite four visits to the site, a handwritten letter left at the remaining formation, and efforts to scour social media.
Alan Page, an avid walker, has met Robert twice, but said he didn’t ask many personal details because he didn’t want to pry.
“He was tall, wiry, a little bowlegged, certainly weather-beaten,” said Page, 63.
Page found the site by pure happenstance. On one occasion, he said, Robert divulged some of his methods. He would use the horizon as a level or push sand beneath the blocks to make them sit straight, positioning the concrete in such a way so as to climb them like scaffolding, Page explained.
“He worked very late at night, up until 2 a.m.,” he said, adding that Robert told him he commonly encountered coyotes lingering in the brush nearby. “He showed me this Coleman lantern that he used, and he certainly worked through the winter, too. It’s still really hard for me to imagine how he did it. Weeks and weeks of effort.”
Page said he refrained from publicizing his findings on social media, lest the structure be demolished if discovered by too many people. But it was only a matter of time before it was, he said.
“I only shared it with friends because I had a feeling that if it became well known, that yes, this would happen, inevitably. Maybe we’ll find some more at a different location eventually.”
Julien Gignac can be reached at email@example.com .
Julien Gignac can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Premier Kathleen Wynne has tinkered with her cabinet, promoting rookie Etobicoke-Lakeshore MPP Peter Milczyn after the surprise resignation of veteran Glen Murray.
As first disclosed by the Star, Murray stepped down as minister of environment and climate change on Monday.
He will be succeeded by Chris Ballard, whose duties as housing minister and poverty reduction point-man will now be handled by Milczyn, a well-regarded former Toronto councillor first elected in 2014.
Murray said he would resign as Toronto-Centre MPP on Sept. 1 four days before becoming executive director of the Alberta-based Pembina Institute, a 33-year-old environmental think-tank.
“If Pembina hadn’t come along, I would be a candidate in the next election and I’d be continuing on as minister if the premier would have me,” he said from Calgary.
“I wasn’t looking to leave. These things never come along at the right time.”
Murray, 59, also a former mayor of Winnipeg, has been an outspoken minister, overseeing the government’s five-year, $8.3 billion plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Wynne hailed her colleague who, like her, is a pioneer as one of the first openly gay elected officials in Canada.
“Glen has been a friend. He has been … always a passionate and compassionate activist in government and outside of government,” the premier told reporters at Queen’s Park.
“I will be always be grateful for the unwavering support Glen has shown me,” she said, mindful that Murray dropped out as a candidate in the final weeks of the 2013 Liberal leadership contest to back her.
“I do not see this as a vote of non-confidence. I see this as an individual having to make a decision about his life and he’s a friend and I wish him well.”
His resignation will not trigger a byelection in what is seen as a safe Liberal seat both provincially and federally, where it is held by Finance Minister Bill Morneau.
Under Ontario law, a byelection must be called within six months of a vacancy unless a province-wide election is imminent.
Voters are headed to the polls on June 7, 2018, so there was concern about Elections Ontario spending an estimated $500,000 on a byelection.
“We’re not having a byelection because there are significant costs associated with one and we’re moving into an election period and I think the cost associated with a byelection doesn’t justify having one,” said Wynne.
The premier, who could easily have called a snap byelection for this summer, denied she was ducking voters at the same time as two high-profile court trials involving Liberals begin in September.
“As I said, the people of Toronto Centre … will be served by a community office and by this government as they have been.”
Ballard, the Newmarket-Aurora MPP first elected in 2014, said he planned to follow in Murray’s activist footsteps.
“The file is critical and so important, we can’t turn the heat down on this one, quite frankly,” said the new environment and climate change minister.
“Glen Murray has been a fantastic minister in this role.”
Also involved in Monday’s mini-shuffle was Community Safety Minister Marie-France Lalonde, whose other portfolio at Francophone Affairs has grown into a standalone ministry.
While some Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats privately joked Monday that Murray was like a rat leaving a sinking ship, the Toronto Centre MPP predicted Wynne would have the last laugh.
“I’m going to take them out for a beer,” he said of his political rivals. “They can come to my apartment and help celebrate the re-election of a Liberal government next year.”
The feeling of excitement was palpable across the packed ferry Monday to Centre Island. Tourists and locals were well-prepared — with bikes, picnic baskets, dogs and selfie sticks at the ready.
Three little boys, visiting their grandparents from Scotland, were discussing their attempt to set a record for most forms of transportation ridden in one day. They took the streetcar to the Jack Layton Ferry terminal. Their plan was to rent a bike, maybe ride a horse or a pony. The only debate was whether or not the rides at Centreville Amusement Park counted as modes of transportation.
Their grandparents, Katie and David Coombs, are semiregular visitors to the islands, and sail over from their house in High Park once or twice a year.
“It’s exciting,” said Katie. “It’s finally open.”
Despite the flooding, the islands are pretty much how everyone remembers them.
As of Monday, Centreville and all beaches are open, though some parts of the beaches are fenced off.
The Centreville Train and Far Enough Farm are closed, and the pony ride isn’t quite open yet. High lake levels means the bumper boats and swan rides remain closed. But the restaurants and most rides are open, including the antique carousel that is set to be sold and a new $2 million overhead chairlift.
Bill Beasley, president of Centreville operator Beasley Enterprises, said the closure due to flooding cost the business more than $8 million in sales and more than $1 million in profits, though he added that the losses followed two very good years.
“We’re definitely going to be here for another 10 years at least. We’ll get through it,” he said.
According to Shawnda Walker, Centreville’s director of marketing, the barns and pens at the farm are flooded and rotting, and the animals have been moved. They will return next season after their home has been rebuilt.
More than half the students who couldn’t start summer jobs at Centreville are getting to work, with another 100 hired at a recent job fair.
Hiba Malik, a park employee, said that it’s been hard for the last couple of months with nowhere to work. But she’s sure the rest of summer will go well. “Right now people are here for the barbecue and to check it out,” said Malik. “It will pick up over the next two to three days.”
Walker is expecting the crowds to get bigger. “I think people just thought it may be really busy today because it’s the first day,” said Walker. “We don’t want big lineups today. We want a steady crowd, and that’s what we’ve got.”
“It’s a perfect sunny day, and that’s our motto,” said Walker, echoing the park’s slogan, “It’s always sunny at Centreville.”
On opening day, many picnic benches and swing sets sat empty, but, said one senior resident, “it’s starting to feel like summer.” While many rides sat idle, children were excited to return.
“This is my last moment on Centre Island,” said a 10-year old to his parents as he waited for the ferry to go back. “Can we come back soon?”
With files from David Rider
With files from David Rider
CHICAGO—Marco Estrada has his ear plugs screwed in, still wandering around the clubhouse in that plush blue robe that David Price, Blue Jays passim, got all his teammates.
Not talking because he never does on his start days. Though many observers didn’t expect Estrada to be a Blue Jay anymore come 4 p.m. July 31.
But there he was, a survivor of trade deadline day.
Unlike Francisco Liriano: Gone.
Unlike Joe Smith: Gone.
In both cases, widely expected departures.
Liriano never even made it to the visitors’ clubhouse on Monday afternoon, learning of his immediate fate at the team hotel. A fine fate indeed, dealt to the formidable Astros — 16-game lead on Texas in the American League West — in exchange for utility outfielder Nori Aoki and, more especially, young outfielder Teoscar Hernandez. Who, in a bit of cosmic serendipity, homered off Liriano in his Major League Baseball debut last year.
So Liriano’s tenure as a Blue Jay lasted 364 days. Or 354 days more than Anthony Scaramucci lasted as White House communications director for President Donald Trump.
Smith, who got to the ballpark at 12:30 — “I don’t think I’ve ever been to the ballpark at 12:30 for a 7 o’clock start’’ — got the news of his pronto destination after running sprints, informed by pitching coach Pete Walker than general manager Ross Atkins was trying to reach him on the phone.
But Smith had turned off his phone; didn’t want to field any more calls and texts from friends and family about trade rumours. “I was trying to stop thinking about it. Didn’t want to sit in the clubhouse and listen to all the stuff. Just put some headphones on and get lost for a little while.”
Déjà Indian, and hallelujah. Spent four years in Cleveland, lives in Cleveland in the off-season, has his charitable organization in Cleveland, and a mom with Huntington’s disease within driving distance of Cleveland. “I wanted to stay here,” Smith said, meaning Toronto, which he and wife Allie have absolutely loved. “But if I got traded, I wanted to go to Cleveland.”
A couple of prospects in return for the bullpen horse — until overwork landed him on the DL in June.
So, a reconfiguration of the ’pen with Brett Oberholtzer called up from Triple-A Buffalo and J.P. Howell activated off the disabled list. Couple of southpaws, thus bringing the lefty relief quotient to four.
Oberholtzer, who brings to mind the famous crack by John Kruk — “I ain’t an athlete lady, I’m a ballplayer” — slid easily into the clubhouse vibe, the Jays his fourth big-league club. Mike Bolsinger takes Liriano’s spot in the rotation.
Really, though, it didn’t add up to a huge hill of beans, amidst speculation Toronto management might go teardown manic.
Jose Bautista still in situ. “Any trade deadline questions whatsoever — no comment.”
Atkins, however, in his media conference call later, did indicate that Bautista’s name had come up in the “hundreds” of phone calls conducted with other teams in recent weeks. Of course, Bautista would have to waive the no-trade protection in his contract as a 10-and-five player. “We kept him in the loop and talked with him about the potential of what could happen or could no happen. Nothing came to fruition where we had to say to Jose: Is this something you would do or would not do? We did include him in the process of not specific deals. But it was more out of respect for him as a person, as a human being, and certainly what he’s accomplished as a member of this organization.”
Was he open to being traded? Atkins wasn’t going there.
And Bautista isn’t going anywhere, at least not until this season is done, with both player and club having mutual options for 2018.
“I hate to lose friends,” said Bautista of Liriano’s exit. “I consider him a friend. He’s a great teammate. He’s a great competitor. The Houston Astros are getting a quality person and a quality player that’s going to hopefully — unless they play us — help them down the road.’’
But isn’t he just the teensiest bit envious, the Astros a good bet for the World Series?
“No. I don’t envy friends.”
The Jays have been buyers the last few years, of course, and splashy with it. Monday they were moderate sellers.
The shadow passed almost unnoticed in the clubhouse. Went right by, for instance, Justin Smoak, clearly an attractive commodity but the Jays kept him close. Seriously, how would they have justified moving the big slugger — a long-ball treasure this breakout season — to a restive fan base?
Smoak has been through it before, traded a week before the deadline in 2010, from Texas to Seattle, Cliff Lee the shiny trinket going the other way. “I really wasn’t expecting it, honestly. I was on a team that went to the World Series that year and went to a team that lost 100 games. It was just weird, a weird day for me.”
Would have shocked him, Smoak admitted, had the Jays auctioned him off. “We have guys who are going to be here next year. And we still have two months left. A lot can happen in that time.”
He didn’t pay much attention to the trade buzz Monday, or the overheated Twitter tom-toms, until he got to the park. “It’s definitely not easy losing teammates. Liriano’s an awesome guy, a really good pitcher, a really good teammate. Joe Smith the same.
“You root for those guys, you know?”
In fact, it was somewhat surprising to learn — too late — how highly regarded Liriano had been in the Toronto clubhouse. Sometimes you just don’t know these things from the outside.
Smith said of his fellow evacuee: “I love that guy.”
Smoak: “He’s an awesome guy. A guy who buries his head and just works his butt off every day.”
It sounded at times vaguely like a eulogy for the dearly departed, as if there’s anything downbeat about Liriano as an Astro. In three months, he could well have a ring after ratcheting up his value in recent good starts.
“Probably one of the nicest guys on the team and he’s ferocious on the mound,” observed battery-mate Russell Martin. “Type of guy that could neutralize any type of offence when he’s on.’’
Martin has been credited with bringing out the best in Liriano.
“I think he felt comfortable throwing to me. I definitely felt like I had a good idea how to call a game when he was on the mound. But he was the one throwing the ball. I’m just back there giving suggestions.’’
Otherwise, no anxiety for Martin on trade-deadline — a.k.a. team-demolition — day.
“It feels like any other day to be honest. But you’re definitely scrolling through the papers to see which teammate you’re going to lose. It’s never fun. It’s like having a couple of friends changing schools.”
Yeah, headed for Playoff Academy while the rest of these Jays repeat their year.
The TTC’s insurance costs surged last year, pushing the amount the transit agency spent to settle accident claims involving its vehicles to $33.6 million.
According to figures provided by the transit agency, the money it paid out in 2016 was a 50-per-cent increase compared to 2014, when the TTC settled $22.3 million worth of claims. It was also higher than the $29.4 million it spent in 2015.
Agency spokesperson Stuart Green said that the number of annual accident claims is actually declining slightly, but the higher payout for 2016 was the result of a number of particularly costly settlements.
Green wouldn’t say whether the rising costs were a concern for the TTC, which pays for the claims out of its operating budget. But he asserted that “all the claims are looked at on an individual basis” to ensure they’re reasonable.
“We have experts in areas of claim settlement who determine whether or not these are fair claims, and then once the claim is reviewed … what would be deemed a fair payment is paid out,” he said.
The settlement figures were included in collision data that is not publicly available but that the TTC provided after the Star requested it.
The numbers cover the three-year period between 2014 and 2016. During that time, the agency’s buses, streetcars, and Wheel-Trans vehicles were involved in 11,498 crashes.
Green said that the “vast majority of these would be of a minor nature” and resulted in no significant injuries or damage to property. They include collisions with pedestrians, cyclists, motor vehicles, and fixed objects.
He stated that while the number of crashes has risen in recent years, that’s because the TTC has increased service and put more vehicles on the road. The rate of crashes — which is measured by the number of collisions per kilometres travelled — has not increased.
The TTC classified roughly three quarters of all the collisions as “not preventable,” a term the agency uses to denote that the transit operator wasn’t fault.
The percentage of collisions that involved pedestrians and were deemed not preventable was higher than for other categories. Of the 187 collisions with pedestrians, the TTC determined that its drivers weren’t at fault in 80.7 per cent of them.
The figure stands in contrast to a pedestrian safety review conducted by the city in 2015, which found that motorists of all types were at fault for roughly two-thirds of pedestrian injuries.
Green could not immediately explain the discrepancy.
In 2015, following a spate of fatal crashes, the TTC instituted a 12-point plan to enhance bus and streetcar safety. The new policy includes random GPS checks to detect whether operators are speeding, earlier interventions for drivers involved in multiple collisions, and daily “safety talks” from supervisors to alert vehicle operators of potential hazards like bad weather or construction on their routes.
The TTC says the plan has reduced the number of deadly accidents involving its vehicles.
That figures provided by the agency show some drivers have been involved in a high number of collisions since 2014. Thirty-five vehicle operators were involved 10 or more collisions, including one bus driver who racked up 19 crashes. The TTC determined that none of the 19 was preventable.
The most preventable crashes incurred by a single driver was five — a figure reached by three bus drivers and one Wheel-Trans operator.
Green couldn’t say whether all of the operators with high numbers of collisions were still working for the TTC, but he said the agency has protocols to deal with potential problem drivers.
“If there is an operator who’s involved in something serious, or a number of less serious incidents, we do have options ranging from reassignment to retraining,” he said.
“If we need to, we will reassign an employee from an operator to another duty.”
When Joyce Anna Scott died in May, she died a tenant of a home she’d spent half her life trying to buy back from the government. Now, her kids are making a last-ditch effort to keep the four-hectare farm they grew up on.
Sitting in the house Monday, Joyce and John Scott’s daughters combed through a lifetime of photographs, paintings, statues and teacups.
As of Sept. 1, everything has to be moved.
Despite living there since 1958, the house hasn’t belonged to their parents for 44 years. It was expropriated by the federal government as part of the Pickering Airport and North Pickering Community development project.
Though an airport was never built, the land is still federally owned — so, the family explained, the government is taking it back unless daughters Laura Alderson and Melissa Preston can argue their case next week. Their sister Kate Collver was also at the house Monday lending a hand.
The family hasn’t been told what will happen to the house after September.
The sisters argue that the home’s land was transferred to the Ontario Land Corporation in October 1979 without what they say was a promise of an opportunity to repurchase it. It was then transferred again in 2004 to the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.
A conservation authority spokesperson told the Star that nobody was available Monday to comment.
“In an attempt to restore equity, fairness and finally make right the past, we would like to have our family home at 14 Pickering Town Line returned to us,” Alderson and Preston wrote to the conservation authority on July 4.
A date was set for Aug. 11, when the sisters will plead their case to the authority’s executive committee.
The first piece of evidence they’re pointing to is a pamphlet dropped in the 1970s from the Ontario government, which said if the government didn’t end up needing their home, “you will be offered the chance to recover ownership at the same price you were paid initially.”
That second is a letter from Minister of Industry and Tourism Claude F. Bennett, saying that any homes that were compatible with their plans for redevelopment “which is scheduled for completion by the end of 1974,” would be available for repurchase by the owners at their original price.
In March 1989, the Scotts wrote to the Ministry of Government Services and asked to buy their home back. No airport had been built, they argued.
“Fully 16 years after their expropriation for a project that never happened, a reply was sent on April 6, 1989 from the ministry advising that while our parents had expressed interest in purchasing the property, they had not yet declared it surplus,” the sisters wrote in their letter this month to the conservation authority.
“How is it possible that in June of 2017, fully 44 years after we entered into what we thought were honest, fair and equitable dealings with the provincial government, we are still waiting?,” the sisters asked.
Joyce’s lawyer Stephen D’Agostino advised the siblings to send a letter to the authority pleading their case.
“If land is expropriated for a purpose and that purpose is no longer being pursued by the authority, the authority is required, subject to some requirements of the expropriations act, to offer that land back,” D’Agostino said.
But, while a final decision is on the horizon, there’s been no indication whether the Scott’s children will be successful. Either way, they say they had to make an attempt.
“With the passing of my parents, we thought, you know what? It seems to us to be such an unfair thing,” Preston said. “If there’s any possibility, this was my parents’ legacy, right? And we thought, ‘well, why don’t we just try?’ ”
“Now you know more about me than most of my patients.”
These were the last words spoken in person by Georgetown family physician Dr. Nigel Mark Phipps to Patient A as she fled his office after he showed her photos of himself naked, the woman testified Monday.
The patient, whose identity is covered by a publication ban, is one of eight, along with three female employees, who are part of the discipline case against Phipps at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. All say they were shown naked or seminaked photos of the doctor, who has been practising since 1985.
At the first day of his discipline hearing Monday, the five-member discipline panel heard that Phipps will admit to showing four photos of himself in various stages of undress to patients and staff and that his conduct was disgraceful, dishonourable or unprofessional. He denies the college allegation that his conduct would be considered sexual abuse of patients.
College lawyer Elisabeth Widner told the panel the photos — “selfies, as they are termed” — are as follows: one where he's naked with his penis visible, one of Phipps' naked buttocks, one where he's naked from the groin up, but where the genitals are not visible, and a fourth showing him naked with a towel over his arm.
The first three photos were attached to an agreed statement of facts describing them. Phipps admitted he deleted the fourth photo from his cellphone.
One photo that Patient B said she saw brought to mind an image of the band Red Hot Chili Peppers, famous for performing naked with nothing but socks covering their penises. But upon further reflection, said Patient B, who also testified Monday, it's possible the doctor was naked in the photo, and that she got the image conflated because he may have been wearing black socks on his feet.
Widner said Phipps would typically show the photos to the women while recounting “a supposedly amusing story” about going on a golf trip with his friends and how they had come across the photos on his phone, which he had said were meant as a joke for his wife.
“Their reactions range from shock to anger to acceptance to rationalization of their physician's conduct,” Widner said of the patients, some of whom testified Monday.
Widner told the panel she does expect Phipps will contest allegations that he showed patients other photos than the four already admitted, that he told some patients not to tell the college, that he made sexualized comments — “words to indicate that he was well endowed,” Widner said — and that he had an erection in at least two patient encounters.
The defence is not expected to present its case until October because an unspecified medical condition makes it difficult for Phipps to testify, Widner said. He is also on a medical leave of absence from work.
The doctor mostly kept his head down during testimony from his patients, some of whom have remained his patients along with their family members. Patient A is not one of them. She said she burst into tears in her car after Phipps showed her the photos in the examination room, and later texted him to say she never wanted to see him again.
“I really liked him, I trusted him. I did not have an issue with Dr. Phipps at all,” Patient A said of the nearly two decades she spent as his patient.
But at her last appointment with Phipps, Patient A said he recounted his “amusing story” mentioned by Widner in her opening statement, and showed her three photos of himself, including pictures where you could see his penis and buttocks.
“I was completely shocked, upset, uncomfortable. I didn't understand what had happened, I hadn't experienced that type of scenario before,” Patient A testified.
She remained adamant under cross-examination by Phipps' lawyer, Jenny Stephenson, that the photos she saw are different than the ones the doctor admits showing to patients and which Patient A was asked to look at Monday.
“I can assure you 100 per cent that the photos I saw today . . . are not the pictures” she saw in Phipps' examination room, Patient A testified.
“The penis I recall seeing was in a downward position as well, but slightly more engorged.”
The discipline hearing continues Tuesday.
WASHINGTON—Donald Trump has fired someone for making vulgar remarks and being a loose cannon.
Anthony Scaramucci swaggered into the White House as a golden boy empowered to “fire everybody” to clean up the communications operation of the administration that couldn’t talk straight. Ten days later, the belligerent financier was swept away himself.
Scaramucci was ousted on Monday afternoon, uncoincidentally mere hours after a former marine general, John Kelly, was sworn in as the president’s chief of staff. Kelly is attempting to impose some level of discipline on an operation widely perceived as dysfunctional.
Trump tried to challenge that perception on Monday morning, claiming on Twitter that there was “no WH chaos!” By the end of the day, he had lost his third senior aide in a week and a half.
“A great day at the White House!” he tweeted in the early evening.
Scaramucci’s tenure, if one can call it that, was the shortest of any White House communications director ever. It was also one of the most memorable, a gong show from start to finish. His fatal sin may have been a colourfully profane rant to the New Yorker magazine last week in which he insulted then-chief of staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Steve Bannon.
He sounded like Trump is known to sound in private, and Trump, who had appeared to authorize the assault on Priebus, was initially untroubled by the tirade, according to U.S. media reports. But Trump grew agitated, reports suggested, when the negative coverage piled up.
“The president certainly felt that Anthony’s comments were inappropriate for a person in that position,” press secretary Sarah Sanders said Monday.
The ouster is another black mark on the judgment of a president who promised to bring in “the best people.” Trump has now lost all three of his picks as communications director, plus a press secretary and a national security adviser.
“The hiring never should have happened. It was a disgrace, it was ridiculous, it was indefensible for someone with no experience to be hired for a senior role like that,” said Matt Mackowiak, a Republican communications strategist. “And then to be sort of totally unshackled the entire time, doing whatever he wanted, reporting directly to the president: it was untenable.”
All three of the departures of the past two weeks were connected to Scaramucci. Press secretary Sean Spicer quit when Scaramucci was made his boss; Scaramucci then helped pressure long-embattled Priebus into leaving; Scaramucci was then fired himself.
Mackowiak said the firing is a positive sign about Kelly’s reign as chief of staff, a move that suggests the former homeland security secretary will be empowered to make necessary changes. Sanders said all of Trump’s aides would report to Kelly, a marked departure from the Oval Office free-for-all of the Priebus days.
But the termination extends one of the worst stretches of Trump’s rocky six months. In addition to the Senate’s dramatic decision to reject his effort to replace Obamacare, Trump has suffered through an unusual series of rebukes from people who do not tend to criticize the president.
Over the past 10 days, Trump has been chastised by the Boy Scouts for an aggressively political speech at their national jamboree, by the Pentagon for attempting to ban transgender soldiers via Twitter, by senior Republican senators who fear he is angling to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and by the International Association of Chiefs of Police for appearing to endorse the injuring of arrested suspects.
Trump was “making a joke” when he said officers should feel free not to protect suspects’ heads, Sanders insisted on Monday.
Scaramucci was improbably supposed to get the dormant White House message machine functioning. An aggressive and well-dressed hedge fund executive who had never served in government, he impressed the president through appearances on Fox News.
Trump hired him over the objections of Spicer, Priebus and Bannon, and he showcased his polish in a hyperbolic but cheerful debut in the White House briefing room on July 21 — during which, the Daily Show pointed out, he appeared to mimic Trump’s mannerisms. But the veneer faded fast. Scaramucci proved almost immediately to be out of his depth, demonstrating a rare mix of bravado, anger and incompetence.
On Tuesday, his fifth day, he told the website Politico that he was going to fire press aide Michael Short. But he did not tell Short himself. When the story was published, he accused other aides of maliciously leaking the news he had himself disclosed.
In a call to a CNN show on Thursday morning, he raged against leakers while drawing yet more attention to himself.
“As you know from the Italian expression, the fish stinks from the head down,” he said. “What I can tell you two fish that don’t stink, OK, and that’s me and the president.”
In fact, Trump was about to sour on him. Later that day, the New Yorker published its summary of an unsolicited Wednesday phone call to a journalist in which Scaramucci offered up a variety of unprintable insults about his veteran colleagues and accused Priebus of committing a felony over a leak that did not actually occur.
Trump, frequently criticized for his own incendiary comments, was said to be unfazed, angry only at Priebus for declining to fight back. But coverage of Scaramucci turned sharply negative in even Trump-friendly outlets like the website Breitbart, which Bannon once led, and Trump went from “amused to annoyed,” according to an official quoted by Politico.
Scaramucci’s week was comprehensively terrible. The New York Post tabloid reported that his wife had filed for divorce, allegedly in part because of his devotion to Trump.
He resorted to pleading on Twitter for the media to leave “civilians” alone.
Three days after that, he was a lowly civilian himself.
The last time Pearse Vujcic’s dog ran circles around the balcony of his East York apartment, it was because of a small earthquake. So when the 57-year-old observed the same behaviour Monday evening, he knew something must be amiss.
That’s when Vujcic heard signs of distress coming from the apartment of his longtime neighbour and friend, Zlatan Cico.
“I heard yelling and screaming that I heard only in war, and I knew somebody was dead,” Vujcic said.
Police found Cico, 58, and his 6-year-old son, Simon, without vital signs in the building near Gamble and Broadview Aves. shortly after 7 p.m., after an apparent murder-suicide.
Upon hearing the screams, Vujcic left his apartment and saw a woman he recognized as Cico’s wife in distress, screaming, “My son is inside. What will I do without my son?”
The door to Cico’s apartment was open, and Vujcic entered to find the man who had been his friend and neighbour for 11 years dead, with a note on his chest.
He also saw Simon there. Vujcic knew instantly, looking at him, that it was too late to help. Toronto police said the boy had suffered physical trauma.
Diana Maslova, who lives on the floor above, said she saw Cico’s wife later, after the bodies were found, and she “looked like a zombie.”
“At that point she didn’t talk or cry or react,” Maslova said. “Somebody tried to hug her and she didn’t even move. She was just looking straight ahead.
“She looked like she was in shock.”
Vujcic said that Simon Cico lived full-time with his mother, and visited his father regularly.
Neighbours didn’t know much about the mother, who doesn’t live in the building, apart from occasionally seeing her in the elevator.
Vujcic described Simon as a “happy kid.” Just a couple of weeks ago, Cico had taken him to see a film at the Hot Docs Cinema on Bloor St. Vujcic joked that the young kid probably wouldn’t like the documentary, but Simon said he had a good time.
“My point is, until the last moment, they had a good time together,” Vujcic said.
Maslova also said the father and son were in good spirits whenever she saw them.
“They were always talking, laughing and looking happy,” she said.
Vujcic said that he regrets having missed signs of depression or distress in his close friend.
“All my life I will blame myself that I didn’t notice that he was suicidal,” Vujcic said. “I miss him dearly.”
Police said they are not looking for any suspects, but wish to speak to anyone who has background information that may give them some “clarity” about what happened.
“Based on what we have, we know who the suspect is: he’s the male involved in it,” Toronto police Sgt. Allyson Douglas-Cook said. “However, there’s still questions that … remain unanswered at this point.”
Police are interested in speaking to friends, family or anyone who was in the area at the time of the incident. They are asking anyone with information to call 416-808-7400.
A post-mortem was being carried out Tuesday to determine the cause of death.
With files from Alexandra Jones and Alanna Rizza
With files from Alexandra Jones and Alanna Rizza
A complicated patchwork of regulations governs the land at 14 Scarborough Pickering Townline, and untangling it falls on a review taking place after next week’s meeting of the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.
The last tenant of the home, which sits on expropriated land that’s transferred ownership several times, was Joyce Anna Scott. After her death in May, the conservation authority offered a continued lease agreement to her family — but if they don’t want to become rental tenants, they have to leave the house by Sept. 1.
Now, Joyce’s daughters are picking up their mother’s crusade to re-purchase the house, and they’ll make a presentation to the conservation authority next week.
In response, the conservation authority will launch an investigation, Associate Director Rick Sikorski said. But decisions aren’t theirs alone.
“From TRCA’s perspective, the property in question is TRCA owned,” Sikorski said. But the conservation authority is bound by other contracts.
When the land was transferred to them in 2004 as part of a “land holding agreement,” the province retained an option to purchase and a first right of refusal, or exclusive rights to enter business agreements before a third-party.
“Even though we own it, we are not free to do whatever we want with it,” Sikorski said.
In 2012, the land’s ownership became even more complex. The property was included within the boundaries of the proposed Rouge National Urban Park. According to a memorandum of agreement on the project, land included within the park’s boundaries would be transferred to the federal government.
To allow the family to re-purchase the land, the conservation authority has to consult each of the stakeholders in that tangled process. “That’s sort of the big picture background in terms of that property,” Sikorski said.
The house in question sits on the town line between Pickering and Scarborough. It was first expropriated by the provincial government in the 70s in support of a simultaneous federal expropriation for the proposed Pickering airport, transferred to the Ontario Land Corporation and later to the conservation authority.
Laura Alderson and Melissa Preston grew up on the four-hectare property, which their parents rented out post-expropriation. Since the 80s, the couple had made inquiries into re-purchasing their home to no avail.
Mary Delaney, the chair of the Land Over Landings advocacy group, said that while dealing with federally expropriated lands can be messy, dealing with lands that have been transferred between political bodies is even worse.
“They’re dealing with lawyers at every level of government,” she said. While Land Over Landings now primarily communicates with Transport Canada, the Scotts’ home has jostled between provincial, municipal, and federal jurisdictions — each with their own spokespeople.
Delaney also noted that she spoke with Joyce’s daughters several weeks ago. While she couldn’t help, Delaney said she offered her sympathy over the bureaucratic tangle at-hand — their confusion, to her, is familiar.
The meeting between the sisters and conservation authority executive committee is slated for Aug. 11 and a staff recommendation will be presented back to the committee at a later date.
“There is no designated timeline for staff review and submission of recommendations,” Sikorski added later in an email.
Sikorski was unable to comment on why renting out the home was more compatible with the government’s plan than independent ownership.
VANCOUVER—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he “regrets” comments he made about Sen. Patrick Brazeau in Rolling Stone, but an Indigenous advocate wants him to express his remorse in a letter to the popular U.S. magazine.
Trudeau told Rolling Stone in a story titled “Justin Trudeau: The North Star,” that his choice of Brazeau as an opponent in a March 2012 charity boxing match “wasn’t random.” Brazeau is from the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation in Quebec.
“I wanted someone who would be a good foil, and we stumbled upon the scrappy tough-guy senator from an Indigenous community. He fit the bill and it was a very nice counterpoint,” Trudeau told the magazine.
“I saw it as the right kind of narrative, the right story to tell,” he said about the cancer-fundraiser fight he won in Ottawa when he was a member of Parliament.
On Tuesday, Trudeau said in a CBC radio interview in Vancouver that he regretted his choice of language in describing the Independent senator.
“The way I have personally engaged with Indigenous leadership and Indigenous communities over the past years and certainly as we’re doing it as a government, recognizes that there are a lot of patterns to change,” said Trudeau, who has made reconciliation with First Nations a top priority.
“I try and make sure that we’re staying focused on recognizing that true reconciliation involves changing approaches and changing mindset. The way I framed it and characterized that doesn’t contribute to the positive spirit of reconciliation that I like to think and I know my government stands for.”
Brazeau declined to comment.
Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, said she’s glad Trudeau apologized for his comments, saying the image of “the savage and the civilized” has dominated Canadian government for too long.
However, it’s important for the prime minister to set the record straight in a letter to Rolling Stone “so the same people who read that article actually get to learn from the humility of him saying what he did was wrong and why it was wrong,” she said.
“The idea that you would go searching for an Indigenous person to engage in an exercise with the aim, really, of making yourself look good, as that seems to imply, is disturbing.”
In February, Trudeau was criticized by NDP MP Roméo Saganash, a former Cree leader, about remarks the prime minister made in response to a question on funding to First Nations communities.
Trudeau told a town hall in Saskatoon that he’d spoken with a number of First Nations chiefs who said young people need youth centres with TVs and sofas so they can hang out.
“When a chief says that to me I pretty much know they haven’t actually talked to their young people,” Trudeau said at the town hall.
“Most of the young people I’ve talked are asking for a place to store their canoes and paddles so they can connect back out on the land and a place with internet access so they can do their homework in a meaningful way because their homes are often too crowded and they need a place to work and study.”
Saganash called Trudeau’s comments ignorant and insulting. He wrote a satirical letter saying a national canoe and paddle program must have been a “secret” recommendation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
In what is being described as an unprecedented move, the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada changed an order this week from one of her colleagues that would have excluded all LGBTQ groups from participating in two upcoming appeals that deal with discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Justice Richard Wagner had decided Friday that the groups would not be permitted to intervene in the cases involving Trinity Western University.
The private Christian university in British Columbia is facing challenges in having its proposed law school accredited in some provinces due to what critics say is a homophobic “community covenant” that bans students from having sex outside of heterosexual marriage.
Wagner’s order Friday faced backlash throughout the weekend on social media, with lawyers and LGBTQ activists expressing outrage over the exclusion of LGBTQ groups.
Some groups representing religious interests were granted leave to intervene, including the Christian Legal Fellowship and the National Coalition of Catholic School Trustees, although other religious groups were excluded.
As is customary, Wagner did not provide reasons for his decision.
Then on Monday, Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin surprised the parties by issuing a new order that “varied” Wagner’s order, declaring that the appeals would be heard over two days, Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, and granting leave to intervene to all 26 groups, including those representing LGBTQ voices.
She also provided no reasons.
“We’re quite delighted that we can continue this case forward to its conclusion,” said lawyer Paul Jonathan Saguil, who represents Start Proud (formerly Out on Bay Street), which supports young LGBTQ professionals including lawyers, and OUTlaws, a coalition of LGBTQ student groups at Canadian law schools.
“Our focus at this point is on next steps,” said lawyer Marcus McCann, who represents LGBTOUT, a queer student association at the University of Toronto. “Our clients are looking forward to putting their perspective before the court in a way that’s useful and provides assistance to the court.”
It is the chief justice’s responsibility to manage the court’s calendar, including adding a second day for an appeal hearing that would make time to hear from more interveners, said lawyer Owen Rees, former executive legal officer at the Supreme Court.
“This is not an overruling,” he told the Star. “It was a varying of an order, and I fully expect that in this context, this would have been a collegial decision and one where the judge who made one order and the chief justice would have been on the same page.”
Lorne Sossin, dean of Osgoode Hall Law School, also pointed out it’s possible that more interveners were added simply because an extra day was set aside for the hearing.
“It may also be that the impression left by Justice Wagner’s initial decision, which granted intervention to some groups bringing additional perspectives on religious freedom, but not groups whose focus was more aligned with LGBTQ and equality rights, could have deprived the court from having the fullest possible array of perspectives for a case that has and will generate significant scrutiny,” he wrote in an email.
“Whatever the rationale or rationales, it is always preferable, in my view, to have some reasons provided where an initial decision is modified.”
The Law Society of Upper Canada, which regulates the legal profession in Ontario, voted 28-21 in 2014 to deny accreditation to Trinity Western because of the community covenant, meaning potential graduates would not be able to practise law in this province.
Law societies in Nova Scotia and British Columbia made similar decisions, but they were later overturned by the courts in those provinces. Meanwhile, the Ontario decision has been upheld by the province’s Court of Appeal. The Appeal Court endorsed the criticism around the covenant last year.
“My conclusion is a simple one,” wrote Justice James MacPherson for a unanimous three-judge panel in a 50-page judgment. “The part of TWU’s community covenant in issue in this appeal is deeply discriminatory to the LGBTQ community, and it hurts.”
Trinity Western appealed that decision to the Supreme Court, while the Law Society of British Columbia appealed from its loss in the B.C. courts.
Interveners are not parties to a case, but have an interest in the matter and can bring a certain perspective to help the court in its decision. They are not permitted to raise new issues and have only five minutes each to present their case before the justices.
McLachlin’s decision Monday to change Wagner’s order regarding interveners left lawyers wondering if this had ever been done before. It would seem not.
“It was a very unusual reversal,” said Ottawa criminal defence lawyer Michael Spratt. “The chief justice’s act certainly left many court watchers and experts scratching their heads … But decisions on leave to intervene or appeal should be more transparent. This may be an opportune time to reconsider some of these procedures.”
A shooting in a Queen St. E. bar Monday night that left one man dead and four others injured could have been even more serious, Toronto police say, because the gunman was “not in control of his firearm” and the other victims were hit by stray bullets ricocheting.
The shooting took place on the patio of the Libertarian Public House, at the corner of Queen and Sherbourne St., just before 11:20 p.m.
The two tables the five victims were sitting at were in close proximity, but police said the shooter had just one target.
“Knowing the location of some of the wounds, I would say we’re very lucky we don’t have three murder victims here,” Det. Sgt. Hank Idsinga said. “Innocent people shouldn’t be getting struck by bullets when they’re simply out having a drink at a local bar.”
Two videos released Tuesday by police show a man wearing a hoodie and a mask over his lower face walking into the bar with his hands in his pockets and continuing to the patio, where he opens fire.
The hoodie appears white in the video, but is actually black, police said, with what they believe is a “Hollister” logo.
Idsinga said there were at least five to seven shots fired, and that the suspect began shooting as soon as he entered the patio area, focusing his attack on a 32-year-old Toronto man who later died in hospital.
Idsinga said the bar’s security footage shows that the suspect fired in “very close” proximity.
“He’s probably 10 feet away from the target when he begins shooting, but he ends up standing right over him and continues to fire,” he said.
Despite the suspect’s attempts to cover his face, Idsinga said that “ultimately, we should be able to identify him.”
The suspect was last seen heading east on Queen. Idsinga said police “have witnesses who indicate he got into a vehicle on Queen St.”
There was no description of the vehicle.
All of the victims were Toronto men in their 20s and 30s, police said.
Idsinga said police would not be releasing the name of the dead man at his family’s request.
One man is still in hospital in serious, but stable condition.
There was “a bit of a mish mash getting to the hospital,” Idsinga said, with some of the victims taken in an ambulance from the scene, and some picked up on the street by ambulance after attempting to walk to the hospital.
One man “definitely did walk in by himself,” which made it initially difficult for police to figure out the number of victims connected to the shooting.
Police said they searched nearby garbages for a discarded weapon, but have had no luck as of yet.
Until about noon Tuesday, police tape surrounded the bar.
Across the street at Alfie’s Bar and Grill, patrons discussed the shooting, some alleging that they saw the shooter in the area often, and that he was a drug dealer.
Police told the Star at the scene that the shooting was related to “street gang” activity.
“We’ve got some links to some street gangs, but as far as any drug trafficking, I don’t have any information to assist that,” Idsinga said. “I believe the target was known to the assailant.”
Alfie’s was the scene of their own shooting earlier this year, when a 16-year-old was shot in the neck on Jan. 13.
Police ask anyone with information about the shooting to contact 51 Division or Crime Stoppers.
After successive fare increases during the first three years of his term, Mayor John Tory says he wants the TTC to freeze the cost of riding transit next year.
Fielding questions at a news conference at the TTC’s Hillcrest Complexon Tuesday, Tory said he expected TTC staff to hold the line on fare prices when they table the agency’s preliminary 2018 financial plans, which could happen within a matter of weeks.
“The work is underway now on the budget and it will be presented as it is. But certainly my wish as the mayor, and I have one vote on the city council when it comes to the budget ultimately, is that it will be presented with no change in the fares,” he said.
The city manager has asked that the TTC and all other agencies make board-approved budget submissions by Oct. 1.
Last November, the TTC board approved a 10-cent fare increase for 2017, pushing the cost of adult ride using a token or Presto card to $3, and an adult Metropass to $146.25.
At the same meeting the board voted in principle to freeze fares in 2018, which is a municipal election year. While the board’s decision on next year’s rates isn’t considered binding, Tory said it was his “expectation” that it would be honoured.
The price of TTC tokens has increased every year for the past six years, and since 2009,the cost of tokens and monthly Metropasses have both gone up by roughly 33 per cent, far outpacing the rate of inflation.
During the 2014 election, Tory promised not to raise fares during his first year in office. He broke that pledge weeks after becoming mayor however, announcing a 10-cent increase the same day he unveiled plans to invest $95 million in transit service and let children 12 and under ride free.
Balancing the TTC’s $2-billion operating budget without a fare increase won’t be easy. Even if the agency doesn’t improve service levels, its costs are expected to increase by at least $126 million next year, according to a May report from the city manager.
Council has already voted to freeze all 2018 department budgets at 2017 levels. In order to make that target without resorting to a fare hike, the TTC would have to offset the expected $126-million increase by cutting costs elsewhere.
“The challenge becomes, how do you balance a budget without (the revenue from a fare increase)?” TTC chair Josh Colle said Tuesday, calling the budget process “a very difficult balancing act.”
The 10-cent fare increase instituted this year was expected to generate $28.7 million in revenue.
“The plan right now is not to increase (fares) and I think commissioners will hold to that commitment,” Colle said.
Jessica Bell, the executive director of transit advocacy group TTCriders, said that a fare freeze is a “step in the right direction,” but argued that the cost of taking the TTC should be slashed.
“We have people all across Toronto who are working on minimum wage, who have difficulty paying all their bills and paying for public transit,” said Bell, who is also the Ontario NDP candidate for University-Rosedale.
Worried friends, families and co-workers of two missing men in Toronto’s LGBTQ community received few answers from police at a Tuesday night meeting at the 519 Community Centre, raising concerns over the pair’s whereabouts.
Officers from a Toronto police team tasked with finding Andrew Kinsman, 49, and Selim Esen, 44, met an overflowing crowd of more than 200 people in the Church and Wellesley neighbourhood.
Toronto police say they have yet to find any criminality in the pair’s disappearances, or connection to three other missing persons cases from 2010-2012.
Among those at 519 Church St. were Kinsman’s two sisters, Patricia and Karen.
Patricia praised her brother’s friends and co-workers for going “above and beyond” in their ongoing efforts with police.
“Keep searching,” she urged the audience.
“All the hours spent and all the miles that have been walked, the police are searching,” echoed Karen, crying. “Andrew’s not alone. There are many more people who are missing.”
Parallel investigations are now being carried out so that officers can share information.
“We do not have a lot of information for you. I understand how frustrating that must be,” said Peter Code, the Toronto police inspector tasked with leading the investigation, who credited the community for sending an abundance of information.
“The police want to know everything. All information is important because we just don’t know what the next piece will lead us to.”
Harold Barnett, a member of the gay community who lives near The 519, attended the town hall after he became worried when someone slipped a note under his door asking him to meet.
“Is it a pattern?” Barnett, 74, wondered, pointing to the pair’s similar appearances.
Both men used internet dating apps and hung out in the Church and Wellesley area, according to police.
Esen, described as 5-10 and 150 pounds with brown eyes, a beard and brown hair, was last seen near Bloor and Yonge Sts.
Kinsman, described as 6-4 and 220 pounds with brown hair and a beard, was last seen near Wellesley and Parliament at 71 Winchester St., where he’s the building’s superintendent.
Code says the investigation never stopped, but that it is now being ramped up with exclusive staffing.
“We thank you for your involvement,” he told the crowd. “Assume whatever you know, we do not know.”
Town hall organizer Greg Downer says the LGBTQ community now needs to work together to build its own task force, one that can plan to better help spread the word about any disappearances.
WASHINGTON—U.S. President Donald Trump hates leaks. He hired Anthony Scaramucci 10 days ago to very publicly root them out, and he has even attacked his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, for not investigating them aggressively enough.
But oftentimes with Trump, a leak isn’t just a leak; it’s an effort to save him from himself.
Such is the case with the latest big scoop out of Washington Monday night that Trump personally dictated the highly misleading initial statement about Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer in June 2016. Anonymous White House advisers told the Washington Post they had settled on a plan to be transparent about the meeting, only to have the president come in at the 11th hour and decide to try and withhold the whole truth. The result, at Trump’s personal direction, was a statement that claimed the meeting was about adoption, when in fact the stated purpose of it was opposition research — supposedly from the Russian government — about Hillary Clinton.
“(White House director of strategic communications Hope) Hicks also spoke by phone with Trump Jr. Again, say people familiar with the conversations, (Jared) Kushner’s team concluded that the best strategy would be to err on the side of transparency, because they believed the complete story would eventually emerge.
“The discussions among the president’s advisers consumed much of the day, and they continued as they prepared to board Air Force One that evening for the flight home.
“But before everyone boarded the plane, Trump had overruled the consensus, according to people with knowledge of the events.
“It remains unclear exactly how much the president knew at the time of the flight about Trump Jr.’s meeting.
“The president directed that Trump Jr.’s statement to the Times describe the meeting as unimportant. He wanted the statement to say that the meeting had been initiated by the Russian lawyer and primarily was about her pet issue — the adoption of Russian children.”
And now look at these comments from anonymous advisers:
“‘This was ... unnecessary,’ said one of the president’s advisers, who like most other people interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal deliberations. ‘Now someone can claim he’s the one who attempted to mislead. Somebody can argue the president is saying he doesn’t want you to say the whole truth.’”
“Trump, advisers say, is increasingly acting as his own lawyer, strategist and publicist, often disregarding the recommendations of the professionals he has hired.
“‘He refuses to sit still,’ the presidential adviser said. ‘He doesn’t think he’s in any legal jeopardy, so he really views this as a political problem he is going to solve by himself.’”
“Because Trump believes he is innocent, some advisers explained, he therefore does not think he is at any legal risk for a coverup. In his mind, they said, there is nothing to conceal.”
The White House’s first six months, of course, have been littered with internal leaks. Many of them are owed to the warring factions within the West Wing and dissension in the broader administration. But every so often you see this kind of leak: the send-a-message-to-the-boss leak — the spreading of unhelpful information about the president because advisers see no other way to make it stop.
And even in that line of reporting, this is a pretty remarkable cry for help. In this story, they’re admitting that he is personally responsible for deliberately misleading the American people about a major topic of the Russia investigation. They’re saying that he did something that could very well be construed as a coverup and could damage his legal defence. The reason? Because they apparently can’t prevail upon him in person and they think he simply doesn’t get what kind of jeopardy he is putting himself in.
Part of it may simply be exasperation, as well. When you, as a White House staffer, continue to have to put up with the boss’s unpredictable whims and furthering of unhelpful story lines (i.e. Russia was on my mind when I fired FBI Director James Comey), it’s liable to lead to this kind of leaking.
Trump will surely view this as an effort by the deep state and-or the media to undermine him. He’d be better off understanding it for what it is: a desperate effort to help him help himself. After all, in this case, the advisers were right. The truth all came out in rather short order, and Trump only made it worse.
A man left in pain and naked in a Brantford police station holding cell for hours has filed a $2.5 million lawsuit against the Brantford Police Services Board, the chief of police and six police officers.
Ontario Court Justice Kenneth Lenz stayed Philip Alafe’s criminal charges in April after ruling he was subjected to “cruel and unusual treatment” over the July 2015 night in the cell.
Security videos of the cell were made court exhibits at the hearing and released to the Toronto Star.
Lenz criticized Staff Sgt. Cheney Venn, one of officers named in the lawsuit, for taking away Alafe’s mattress, blanket and, after a violent struggle, his police-issued jumpsuit.
Lenz also found the police officers failed to provide Alafe with the medical attention he requested and his medication, despite Alafe informing the booking officer that he had mental health issues as well as sickle-cell anemia, a hereditary disease that causes him excruciating pain and is exacerbated by cold temperatures.
A statement of claim filed with the Superior Court in Toronto alleges the defendants “maliciously, intentionally, unlawfully and/or without justification subjected the plaintiff to an escalating course of punishment, deprivation of basic needs, physical assault, infliction of mental anguish and other infliction of harm.”
The allegations in the statement of claim have not been proven in court. No statement of defence has yet been filed.
A spokesperson for the Brantford Police Service said no comment would be made due to the pending litigation.
Police board chair Deb Cockerill said in a statement that the board will be undertaking a review of material related to the case and has asked the chief to report back on his findings as they relate to training, and prisoner care and handling. The statement said the board couldn't comment further because of the lawsuit.
An internal police investigation sparked by the criminal court ruling remains ongoing.
The allegations in the lawsuit include the use of excessive force in taking away Alafe’s jumpsuit and that he was made to spend the night “in extreme pain due to his sickle cell disease.”
Alafe entered the cell with no suicidal thoughts, according to the statement of claim. But after more than 10 hours in the cell, three with no clothes, blanket or mattress, he attempted to tie his socks into a noose around his neck. Two minutes later, an officer took his socks away.
The officers were negligent for not swiftly intervening despite a “plainly visible suicide attempt,” then they failed to offer him any assistance, leaving Alafe “alone in his cell, stark naked, and visibly in physical and mental distress,” the lawsuit alleges.
Alafe claims that as a result of his treatment that night his sickle-cell anemia and depression are worse and he now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.
The lawsuit also claims Alafe was discriminated against based on his “race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, and/or disability.”
Alafe, who lived in Etobicoke at the time of the incident, is from Nigeria and is seeking refugee status in Canada.
The statement of claim alleges one officer, Const. Jason Barber, told Alafe he “didn’t speak African.”
Barber, who is also named in the lawsuit, firmly denied saying this according to Lenz’s decision.
The lawsuit also claims Brantford police Chief Geoff Nelson was negligent for failing to ensure his officers carried out their duties lawfully and in accordance with the policies set out by the Brantford Police Services Board.
“Our client hopes this case will improve the way police deal with people in medical distress. He also hopes it will improve police accountability. These events did not happen in a dark alley. They happened in a brightly-lit police cell, in plain view and on camera,” said Alafe’s lawyer Kelley Bryan who represents him in his civil case.
The lawsuit claims punitive damages of $500,000 are necessary to deter this kind of conduct by police officers in the future.
WASHINGTON—There wasn’t a dramatic public break or an exact moment it happened. But step by step, Senate Republicans are turning their backs on U.S. President Donald Trump.
They defeated an Obamacare repeal bill despite Trump’s pleas. They’re ignoring his Twitter demands that they get back to work on it. They dissed the White House budget director, defended the attorney general against the president’s attacks and passed veto-proof sanctions on Russia over his administration’s objections.
They’re reasserting their independence, which looked sorely diminished in the aftermath of Trump’s surprise election win.
“We work for the American people,” Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina said Tuesday. “We don’t work for the president.”
Those are surprisingly tough words from a Republican whose state Trump won easily less than a year ago. But after six months of controversies and historically low approval ratings, it’s clear Trump isn’t commanding the fear or respect he once did.
Some Republicans no doubt are giving voice to long-held reservations about a man whose election was essentially a hostile takeover of their party. But it is notable that the loudest criticism is coming from the Senate, where few Republicans are burdened with facing an electorate anytime soon. The situation is different in the House, where most Republicans represent conservative districts still loyal to Trump. For those lawmakers, the fear of facing a conservative primary challenger, possibly fuelled by angry Trump followers, is real.
In the most remarkable example of public Trump-bashing, Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona is taking aim at the president and his own party in a new book, writing that “Unnerving silence in the face of an erratic executive branch is an abdication” and marvelling at “the strange spectre of an American president’s seeming affection for strongmen and authoritarians.”
The criticism from Flake is especially striking since he is one of just two GOP senators facing competitive re-election races in next year’s midterm elections, the other being Dean Heller of Nevada. The other 50 Senate Republicans are largely insulated from blowback from Trump’s still-loyal base, at least in the short term, since they won’t face voters for several years.
That is likely contributing to their defiance, which is emerging now after an accumulation of frustrations, culminating in the failure of the health care bill Friday. In particular, senators were aghast over Trump’s recent attacks on their longtime colleague Jeff Sessions, the former Alabama senator who is now attorney general and facing Trump’s wrath over having recused himself from the investigation into possible collaboration between Russia and Trump’s presidential campaign.
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina deemed Trump’s treatment of Sessions “unseemly” and “a sign of great weakness on the part of President Trump.” The comments were echoed by other Republican senators.
Then, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, a former House member, suggested on a Sunday show that the Senate must pass health care before doing anything else. No. 2 Republican John Cornyn didn’t hesitate to go after him.
“I don’t think he’s got much experience in the Senate as I recall, and he’s got a big job,” Cornyn said. “He ought to do that job and let us do our jobs.”
The ill will flows both ways. At Tuesday’s White House briefing, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders pointedly blamed lawmakers for the president’s failures to deliver. “I think what’s hurting the legislative agenda is Congress’ inability to get things passed,” she said.
Trump has been ignoring past warnings from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to stay out of the Senate’s business, tweeting relentless commands in the wake of Friday’s failure on health care that the Senate should eliminate the filibuster rule that requires 60 votes to move forward on much major legislation.
“Mitch M, go to 51 Votes NOW and WIN. IT’S TIME!” the president said over Twitter.
That ignored the fact that Republicans tried to pass the health care bill under rules that required only a simple majority.
So Republicans, in turn, ignored Trump.
“It’s pretty obvious that our problem on health care was not the Democrats,” McConnell said drily on Tuesday. “We didn’t have 50 Republicans.”
Some Republicans say Trump and his administration only made it harder to pass health care by ineptly pressuring Sen. Lisa Murkowski with threats from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke about consequences for her state, which rankled the Alaska senator. She proceeded to postpone votes in the Energy committee she chairs on a group of administration nominees, while saying it was for unrelated reasons, and voted “no” on the health bill.
“I think most Republican senators have their own identity that’s separate from the president,” said Alex Conant, a GOP strategist and former adviser to Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. “If you look at the elections last fall almost every Republican senator who was up for re-election ran ahead of Trump and that’s not a fact that’s lost on Congress.”
The House has been a friendlier place for Trump. Republicans there pushed through a health care bill in May.
“For the most part our caucus is still in support of the president,” said Rep. James Comer of Kentucky. “That doesn’t mean we agree with everything he says and does, but we still support his agenda, his presidency, and we’re not going to fumble the ball.”
In the Senate, though, lawmakers and the president appear to be going their separate ways, with some senators talking as though Trump is almost irrelevant.
“Ever since we’ve been here we’ve really been following our lead, right?” said Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee. “Whether it was the Supreme Court justice or the Russia sanctions bill, attempting to do health care and obviously we did so unsuccessfully, and now we’re moving on to tax reform, but most of this has, almost every bit of this has been 100 per cent internal to Congress.”
Robert Zunke was gentle and soft-spoken, offering a weathered hand and an open door, a Star reporter’s reward for a long search — he had been as elusive as a spectre, but was now as welcoming as an old friend.
Zunke says he’s the artist responsible for crafting lofty structures made of discarded materials, wowing passersby for years, at the Leslie St. Spit.
“I just wanted to get away from Toronto, do something different,” he said, when asked why he was building these structures. “I saw the materials, so I thought I would make something for the people.”
He was the creator of an elaborate complex that had curvy walls, granite benches and walkways winding down to the lake.
His masterpiece appeared on social media and prompted a search for the builder, but the structure had since been demolished — in its place, large tracks criss-crossed parched earth. Last week, a spokesperson for Ports Toronto told the Star it was razed because it posed a risk to visitors.
“Those guys were jealous,” Zunke said about the workers who toppled his work over the edge of the shoreline. “Nothing was gonna knock it down.”
Zunke, who is in his 50s and does maintenance work in downtown buildings, said he called the main structure “Eagle’s Point,” because the top resembled a bird with outstretched wings. There have been multiple versions of the top — including a flaming torch and an arrow — because he has rebuilt the structure 26 times, he said.
“It was shaped like the eagle of the United States army crest,” he said. Surrounding the central column were other wavy structures of brick, made to look like a snail without its shell and a martini glass with a monkey’s head, he said.
The Spit, home to Tommy Thompson Park, is a place that gives him solace.
“It’s quiet out there, peaceful. I don’t like crowds,” said Zunke, who lives alone. “Doing something constructive is more important. Talk is cheap.”
Reaching Zunke, who has been building a variety of structures for the past five years, was difficult. A Star reader sent a tip providing a rough idea of where he lived, and a search of the area revealed concrete blocks rubbed smooth and round by tidewater in front of a downtown apartment building. It seemed the materials had come from the Spit.
As Discovery Channel’s How It’s Made played on a television in the background, Zunke offered a tour of his apartment, including the granite work table where he assembles miniature buildings and greenery for large model train tracks that he sells.
Model trains were everywhere in the small space.
“Trains are what started Toronto,” said Zunke, explaining that he’s had a fascination with locomotives since he was a child.
“They’re antiques,” he said.
Zunke uses few tools to construct his structures at the Spit, aside from a cart affixed to his bicycle to transport building materials and a hammer, he said. He uses the horizon as a level and, with the formidable muscles of his arms, packs sand in tight between joints. The formations are top-heavy so that weight is distributed through the structures down to the ground, which keeps them stable, he said. Heavy support blocks are used to build the towers up — literal stepping stones — in a process Zunke likened to that used in ancient Egypt.
“You feel your way through it: tactile contact,” he said. “I feel quite strongly about that, actually.”
Zunke looked visibly discouraged when asked if he would return to the Spit to rebuild.
“I just don’t know yet. Maybe for the freak of it,” he said.
Despite his low profile, he has admirers: Zunke played his voicemail messages aloud, and at least two were from people asking about his work. Someone was writing poetry on rocks and leaving it for him at Eagle’s Point, he said.
Support like this could give him a second wind.
“That makes me feel good, ’cause then I’ll build more.”