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- 08/12/17--21:40: _Man in life-threate...
- 08/12/17--20:04: _Shapovalov magic ru...
- 08/12/17--03:00: _Toronto TV personal...
- 08/12/17--15:43: _The ‘many sides’ of...
- 08/12/17--19:39: _Dozens of flights c...
- 08/13/17--04:00: _‘We’re not a treatm...
- 08/13/17--04:00: _Rains, then floodin...
- 08/13/17--06:49: _Critics slam Trump ...
- 08/12/17--14:08: _Home sellers strugg...
- 08/13/17--07:51: _Woman killed in Cha...
- 08/13/17--08:50: _‘Our pastor’: Relea...
- 08/13/17--11:23: _Addison’s disease a...
- 08/13/17--12:03: _Unlike Trump, the U...
- 08/13/17--03:00: _Art students set si...
- 08/13/17--10:25: _What we know about ...
- 08/13/17--18:06: _Paralegal found gui...
- 08/14/17--09:56: _GoDaddy boots neo-N...
- 08/14/17--08:31: _Judge blasts Toront...
- 08/14/17--06:25: _Canada wants ‘progr...
- 08/14/17--11:48: _Toronto police ask ...
- 08/12/17--20:04: Shapovalov magic runs out in Rogers Cup semifinals: DiManno
- 08/12/17--15:43: The ‘many sides’ of injustice in Charlottesville riot: Paradkar
- 08/13/17--04:00: Rains, then flooding, killing crops for many Ontario farmers
- 08/13/17--07:51: Woman killed in Charlottesville white supremacist rally identified
- 08/14/17--08:31: Judge blasts Toronto cop’s ‘false testimony’ in drug case
- Accommodate the technology revolution and the rise of the digital economy
- Make the deal more “progressive” through five key provisions, including putting stronger labour safeguards into the core of the agreement; strengthening environmental provisions to protect the right to address climate change; adding a new chapter on gender rights; adding an Indigenous chapter; reforming the investor-state dispute settlement process to protect governments’ right to regulate “in the public interest”
- Cut red tape and harmonize cross-border regulations
- Open up access to government procurement contracts to exempt Canadian suppliers from “Buy America” policies
- Provide for freer movement of business professionals
- Ensure fair processes around government moves to impose anti-dumping and countervailing duties, and exempt Canadian culture and Canada’s system of supply management.
A man in his 50s is in life-threatening condition after being shot in a robbery near the Eglinton GO station Saturday night.
Police from 43 division said the man was shot in the head and was taken to hospital in life-threatening condition after he was robbed just after 11 p.m.
Const. David Hopkinson said police are looking for three suspects who fled on foot. He said they should be considered “armed, violent and dangerous.”
Police said they were investigating reports that the incident happened near the parking lot of the station, near Eglinton Ave. E and McCowan Rd.
Paramedics said the victim was rushed to Sunnybrooke Hospital.
Hopkinson said police had previously arrested three people, but they were later determined not to be the suspects.
MONTREAL—Both floppy-haired boy-band blonds.
Both sons of Russian émigré parents.
Both the youngest players ever into a semifinal of a Masters 1000 ATP event, in their debut seasons.
Both free-swinging millennials, fearless and freewheeling and flamboyant.
Send in the clones.
Looks like the start of a beautiful rivalry for Denis Shapovalov and Alexander Zverev, the 18-year-old Canadian and the 20-year-old German.
Zverev the man in black, a headband holding back his thick tresses; Shapovalov in his signature white ball cap, spun around backwards.
But only one would get to square off against Roger Federer on Sunday in the men’s final of the Rogers Cup.
To the chagrin of a nation — this one, which has suddenly quickened to tennis again — it won’t be sensational Shapo.
Under a starless sky, and with the sellout crowd lustily encouraging but ultimately helpless, as spectators always are, the magic ran out for the teenager from Richmond Hill, falling in straight sets: 6-4, 7-5.
Well, straight but zigzag sets, as momentum swung back and forth, with Shapovalov hanging in tough — that’s one thing we’ve learned this past week, this kid has got sand — through a final game that went to deuce five times, the homeboy fighting off two of three match points but unable to convert three break chances of his own, before a wide forehand and long return settled the matter.
“It’s an unbelievable week for me, a completely life-changing week for me,” Shapovalov said on court immediately afterwards, even as the audience at Uniprix Stadium — nee Jarry Park — embraced him in a standing ovation. “I just hope to take this confidence and keep going forward.”
The kid did not quit, which certainly was a hallmark of his tennis gumption throughout the past week in Montreal.
The other kid, a bit less of a kid, was just that smidgen better.
Graciously, Zverev paid tribute immediately to his vanquished opponent.
“Today is not about me. It’s about Denis.
“He will probably win this tournament one day. We will play a lot more times and probably some really great matches.”
It’s the message — promise — he conveyed to Shapovalov as they met at the net to shake hands at the end of their one-hour, 43-minute encounter. “I’m looking forward to this rivalry,” said Zverev.
Not as dramatic a tilt, perhaps, as some of the Canadian’s earlier matches, most especially his stunning upset of top-seeded Rafael Nadal. But it had its moments, some of which Shapovalov will likely be seeing in his dreams, or nightmares, for a while to come.
There were evident nerves on both sides, too, with an affliction of double-fault yips. More damaging to Shapovalov, however, as he dropped the first set after Zverev backhanded a return from a lofty height, smashing a winner, then benefitting from a Shapovalov DF in the fifth game. Zverev served out for the set efficiently, despite a whiff swipe at one ball.
The crowd did its best to lift Shapovalov back up, especially after he was broken in the first game of the second frame, again on double faults. And he did break right back, utilizing a series of nervy volleys that passed and froze and even drew racquet-tapping applause from Zverev.
Shapovalov had said, earlier in the week, that he was learning new things about himself through this dizzying experience. Learning new things about the game too, and how the matches can go longer, unsettled, compared to juniors. Because stuff keeps happening.
On this night, though, too much of that stuff was breaking against the teenager, even as he battled hard to hold service, even as he let Zverev off the break hook after some remarkably long rally points. Recovered from 0-30 in game 11 of the second set, as Zverev put increasing pressure on his serve, then had Zverev’s back to the wall in game 12 before it went down as most experts had predicted it would.
Shapovalov had taken out No. 1. He couldn’t take out No. 4.
“It was a dream week for me,” the drained teenager said afterwards. “Obviously I didn’t expect it. Saved four match points the first round. Just played loose after that, just went with it. I mean, beat one of my idols.”
Yeah, still awestruck over that Nadal match.
What’s the difference, what was the tipping point this past week, he was asked. Except Shapovalov couldn’t put a finger on it.
“I’ve kind of seen that I’m capable to push these guys,’’ he said, harking back to grass-court season. “Maybe the serve is getting bigger.’’ New racquet, bigger pop. “But also, I just think I’m improving every week. I’m playing a lot but I’m also working a lot (with his coach). This is still a transition year for me. I’m really trying to improve my game so that I can anchor myself in the top 50, top 20, top 10.”
Some nine hours he’s spent on the court over four days. Maybe a bit of the energy had seeped out by Saturday night.
But the kid’s name seemed to be on everyone’s lips across the city, his memorable moments replayed on TV screens in the subway.
“I wasn’t expecting, like, to hear my name every two minutes,” he laughed. “It’s like, all right guys, enough, enough.’’
And here’s a rarity: The Fed Express was shunted into the afternoon slot with centre court given over to the duelling young guns for the night spectacle.
Which maybe indicates a generational shift in tennis, the eve of a new era dawning, now that vintage tennis is starting to get a tad old as a compelling narrative.
Can’t remember the last time a Federer semi got short-shrifted on the live broadcast. Though he too seemed a bit bemused by his gentle nudging away from the prime-time spotlight. Endlessly chivalrous, of course, because that’s the Federer brand, and apparently genuinely delighted by young’uns seizing the public’s imagination. He can take the avuncular view — 1,113 match wins. Shapovalov? Um, seven, on the big boys circuit.
“To have a player at 18 or 20 years old in the finals of a Masters 1000 is not something we’ve seen very often, very rarely, except when Andy, Novak and Rafa were coming up.” Murray, Djokovic and Nadal.
“They were such great teenagers that maybe we saw it more often. Not even I probably achieved finals of Masters 1000 at that age.”
Federer set aside his overmatched semi opponent, Dutchman Robin Haase, in straight sets, 6-3, 7-6(5).
“It’s the biggest stage we have in the game on the ATP Tour,’’ noted Federer, who quietly celebrated his 36th birthday in Montreal. “To have young guys like this be there, it’s a good opportunity for them.”
Shapovalov and Zverev will doubtless be going mano-a-mano on the big courts for years to come. Maybe even at the U.S. Open, ’round the corner. Hasn’t yet been invited to Flushing Meadows. Surely there’s a wild card in the offing though for a guy who began the year ranked No. 1,132, began the week ranked No. 143 and will skyrocket to the mid-60s in the next wheel-spin.
His head’s spinning too.
“My whole life has changed in the past five days,” marvelled Shapovalov. “It’s crazy. I mean, I go from being not known to being so known in the tennis world, in Canada in general. It’s going to be a little bit of a change to me. I’m going to have to adapt.”
Disappointed by the outcome but hardly crushed, after all.
“Sascha played too good in the big moments. I don’t think I played that well in those moments.’’
Head to head now: 1-0 for Zverev.
Just the beginning.
He owned a four-bedroom house with a pool in a ritzy York Mills neighbourhood and enjoyed all the perks of the affluent: winters luxuriating at his family’s two-storey beachfront condo in Palm Beach, idyllic summers at an island cottage in Parry Sound, a ski chalet, a golf club membership and so many trips to Las Vegas, he was on a first-name basis with casino executives.
Cash wasn’t just his nickname, it defined him; he came from money and his own annual earnings topped $400,000.
Michael (Cash) Pomer even had some prominence in Toronto, certainly within the city’s gambling community, due to his frequent appearances on television and radio as an NFL handicapper. In the ’90s and early 2000s, he could be seen trading quips with Jim Tatti on Sportsline or heard on The Fan on Sunday mornings, hosting his own two-hour gambling show.
Now the money, and some $6 million in assets, is gone. All of it.
Cash Pomer is penniless.
Even if you don’t recall Pomer as a quirky on-air personality, his is a remarkable story of loss; a tale of how the grip of drug addiction can cause a man who seemingly had everything to squander it all.
But it is also a story for which Pomer — with the help of some loyal but exasperated friends — is trying to write a final, redemptive chapter.
At 60, after a lifetime of careening from one dependency to another, Pomer is trying to rebuild his life and be an inspiration to other addicts.
The Star met Pomer several times through the spring and summer, interviews framed around a rehab stint at a Toronto treatment centre. It was his fourth try at becoming clean and sober but, this time, he believes he might be giving himself a chance.
“I haven’t gone this long without drugs or booze in my life, since I was 17,” he said, six weeks out of rehab and emanating a hopefulness that was once as absent as his wealth.
“I feel great. I’m getting my swagger back. I learned the tools (to stay sober). I didn’t care before. You’ve got to want it, plain and simple. I want it.”
Pomer once lived the high life as the charming, fun-loving epicentre of every party. And if there wasn’t a party, he’d make his own. Opioid painkillers and a few rocks of crack cocaine always took him where he wanted to be.
But when he first sat down with a Star reporter in May to share his story, it was a gambit by a desperate man flailing for a quick remedy to a complicated situation. Pomer was living on welfare and his application and subsequent appeal for disability support had both been rejected. He’d also been cut off by a private social service that had been helping.
Five months behind in his rent and just days before eviction from his North York apartment, he hoped exposing his dependencies to the world might elicit sympathy and that could, in turn, lead to public support. Friends, though skeptical of this latest Pomer scheme, offered to establish a GoFundMe web page.
At that first meeting, the former broadcaster seemed distracted. He would drift to the next story before the first was completed; the details often muddled. Over lunch at a North York diner — a meal Pomer said was, other than some fruit, his first in three days — he outlined how he had gone from gadabout to down and out. He then asked if he could order a bacon burger to go. That way he’d have something to eat the next day.
When Pomer walked there was a shuffle in his stride because of an arthritic left ankle. Even sitting, he frequently shifted uncomfortably due to chronic back pain. Anger roiled just below the surface.
After rehab, however, Pomer seemed a different person. His grey pallor was gone. He was more focused, remembering details of his life quickly and clearly. Pomer was less agitated, less beaten down, less bitter. He said he was no longer interested in applying for disability. He wanted to find work. He said he is getting control of his life. He joked often.
The primary motivation for sharing his story now, he said, was in hopes it might encourage other addicts to seek treatment or talk to their family doctor.
It was a remarkable transformation especially when you consider the heights from which Pomer had fallen.
“How many people have everything and lose everything?” wondered his childhood friend Steve Simmons.
Indeed, how does a smart, affable rich kid — the kind of free spirit who would fly his mother to Hawaii on a whim — become a broken man surviving off welfare and handouts from friends, their kindness really all that’s keeping him from living on the streets?
The high life
“I was a functioning addict,” said Pomer. “I never thought I’d end up this way but I point fingers at nobody except myself. I’m not proud of it.”
Pomer said he started using drugs the way a lot of kids did in the early ’70s, experimenting at middle school and then at York Mills Collegiate Institute, where he was on the varsity wrestling and track teams.
“Some kids smoked pot, I loved black hash,” he recalled. “I was into sports but I still liked to smoke my hash late at night. When my parents went to bed, I’d crawl out the front window, have a couple of puffs and crawl back in and go to bed.”
But while the other kids grew up to have jobs, families and mortgages, Pomer, who had girlfriends but never married, was unfettered by those day-to-day demands. He had no responsibilities and no need for self-control. His hard-driving father, who died in 1994, built a fortune through fashion retail, owning John Pomer Menswear stores and Bi-Rite outlets. At one point he had 34 stores.
Pomer’s casual drug use escalated to a dependency at some point in his 20s. Then, until he was 50, he was high virtually every day — even when he was on air.
Pomer figures he spent $3 million on recreational drugs. That number, he concedes, may be low. For years, the dependency cost him between $500 and $800 daily.
In his heyday, Pomer spent his winters in Florida golfing or hanging out with his mother. He’d fly to Tampa for his TV hits and do his radio show remotely from Palm Beach. He didn’t need a regular job, though he did work at times both for his dad and for a computer company in those early days. His engaging personality made him an excellent salesman.
So glib and charismatic was Pomer that, as a 15-year-old, he once showed up unannounced at the hotel suite of Muhammad Ali — in Toronto to do TV commentary — carrying a reel-to-reel tape recorder, and talked his way in to interview the champ.
Pomer shared his wealth and good nature and collected friends easily. Some of them — even those that disapproved of his habits — stuck with him.
Twice the Simmons family took Pomer into their home after he’d been booted out of other lodging.
“All along people have supported him,” said Sheila Simmons, Steve’s wife. “People didn’t give up on him because he was charming and fun and they remember him as this kid; this 19-year-old who was just full of piss and vinegar … there is something in him that these people feel the need to look after him.”
With those pals, in those younger years, Pomer revelled in being the fun-loving smart-ass at the centre of things.
“Then it became the late ’70s and early ’80s and all hell broke loose — that’s when cocaine really hit its peak — if you brought coke to a party and dumped it on the table, you were the coolest guy at the party,” he said.
“It was so popular, so loved, so status.”
And Pomer couldn’t resist the high it gave him.
“I enjoyed drugs. I loved drugs. I found my equilibrium in drugs,” he said. “I never blacked out. I never woke up and said, ‘Gee, I don’t remember what I did last night.’ Ever. I never had shaky hands. I never missed a show.”
Pomer’s cravings went from hash and marijuana to cocaine to painkillers to crack, with plenty of overlap and mixing and matching. It was crack cocaine, though, with its quick hit of euphoria that became his go-to.
“I enjoyed it better. It took the edge off,” he recalled. “I took a piece and crunched it up, mixed it with tobacco and rolled it in an Export paper. Put a filter in, lit it up and it was … yowser.”
Along with the crack, Pomer said there were days when he would take as many as 20 Percocets — which contain an opioid pain medication — sometimes kickstarting his morning by washing down three of them with orange juice.
So dependent was Pomer, he said his dealer would hide five days’ worth of purchases in five spots around his house. That way he could just phone his supplier to find out where that day’s stash was cached. Eventually, Pomer was making the call before breakfast. Once, when he unexpectedly decided to extend a stay at the Parry Sound cottage, his dealer made the drive north with a $2,000 supply of painkillers.
“I had a drug dealer I trusted; he never did me wrong,” said Pomer. “He bought himself a cottage and a motorcycle off me.”
A high school friend, Sheldon Jafine, believes that because Pomer came from money, there was never any motivation for him to be serious about education or career building. He did graduate from York University but his passion for sports and a knack for sports wagering put him in a position where he only had to work, Jafine figures, about 10 hours a week doing his broadcasting hits and phone line recordings. That downtime mixed with large amounts of disposal income and a lack of obligations allowed Pomer to live behind a veil of drugs.
But even as his drug use continued unabated, he managed to function in the real world. He made frequent appearances on Global-TV’s Sportsline. His football prognostications (“he was very good,” said Simmons) were a weekly fixture. He operated a popular 1-900 tout line for which punters paid $5 a minute for his football insights; some years he said that line earned him $400,000. He also had private clients to whom he’d provide gambling advice. He hosted a local charity golf tournament to raise money for an electric wheelchair sports association. The likes of former Blue Jay Buck Martinez or radio personality John Derringer stepped in to MC.
“I guess I had control of an out-of-control situation, if that makes any sense,” he said.
But while Pomer said he “loved every minute of it,” his life began to unravel. Even though he was bringing in big money, he never paid taxes. Eventually, he said, Revenue Canada came after him for $1.7 million, and he settled with a $540,000 payment. That still meant he had to sell assets, including his home, during a down market.
He got fired by The Fan in 2001 — the Globe and Mail reported he was canned for complaining on the air about the disappearance of intro music, a rights issue he’d been told not to mention — and then Sportsline was cancelled in 2006. That eroded his public profile, which dramatically hurt the popularity of his 1-900 phone line as did the growth of internet gambling websites and online wagering information.
“As I try to weave through this maze of drugging, everything came down,” he said. “I didn’t pay my taxes. I didn’t care. I didn’t give a s---. I was an idiot. I was an addict. I was irresponsible and that’s that.”
Even his mother, Camilla, who now lives in a nursing home, sold family assets to help her son.
Jafine said another friend put it perfectly: “Every time you think Mike’s hit bottom, he finds a way to get lower.”
Pomer tried rehab three times but twice found an excuse to bail. After completing one session — paid for by a friend when he was 50 —Pomer was clean for a while and took up marathon running. A broken ankle put him back on painkillers, to which he again became addicted.
Pomer’s income eroded to a monthly welfare cheque for about $700. His rent was $1,150 a month. The math wasn’t working. Friends chipped in with some cash now and again. Or they gave him grocery store vouchers or TTC tickets, to help control how the money was being spent; sometimes, though, he’d use those vouchers to gamble on Pro-Line. A friend once gave Pomer his wife’s car but he sold it to pay rent.
While he still smoked the occasional joint, his latest dependency was alcohol. It’s what he could more readily afford. Some mornings he’d have a $2.99 breakfast at Wendy’s and then wait for the LCBO to open.
Pomer said the alcohol abuse started last year when, while working the last job he had as a clothing salesman, he got into the habit of buying a bottle after work. He soon left the job but not the booze.
“Within five minutes of getting home, the shots were being poured — vodka or Southern (Comfort). One ounce shots; I’d have four of them. Then another and another …”
Pomer said he drank almost every day for nine months — a 750-millilitre bottle would typically last two days — and on the rare day he didn’t have any booze, he’d think about how much he wanted a drink.
Jafine said Pomer was always hitting friends up for money and they started to abandon him.
“I was ready to walk from him,” said Jafine, a veterinarian who owns five animal hospitals in the Toronto area. “I told him if he didn’t go to rehab and straighten his act up and try to rebuild his life, I’m done.”
Though he pushed back, saying he didn’t need it, Pomer began a four-week rehab stint paid for by OHIP in May.
Pomer asked his landlord to delay his eviction for a few days so he could go directly to the treatment centre. He had no idea where he’d live once he got out.
Pomer said the counsellors viewed him as a long shot for rehab success and someone who was a master manipulator with his friends.
“As an addict, we all lie, we connive, we cheat,” said Pomer. “I don’t want to say steal but I lied a little and embellished a lot. ‘I need this for groceries.’ Well, I’ll be damned if I spent it all on groceries. I’d make sure there was a bottle, then the groceries.”
Some of his friends resent that Pomer, with his fortune gone, still maintains a sense of entitlement and an expectation that his pals will look after him.
Simmons, a newspaper sports columnist and broadcaster in Toronto, said at one point, several of Pomer’s friends put together a pool of money to cover his expenses and one of them administered it.
“What happens is, after a while, you get tired of paying because you’re not really accomplishing anything,” Simmons said. “All we were doing really was enabling.”
Once at the treatment centre, Pomer said his attitude was different from previous stints. He wanted to earn back the respect of people he cared about.
Before morning and afternoon classes — where addicts learn the 12-step program to overcome their dependencies — Pomer said he would complete the assigned reading, typically an inspirational story about someone working through trying circumstances to beat alcohol or drugs. Previously, he’d just as likely sit and read the newspaper sports section.
In the evenings, when patients go off site to attend Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous or Cocaine Anonymous meetings, he said he found those gatherings captivating.
So at night, when he would normally be partying, he was now getting “a spiritual high” from guest speakers. Pomer continues to vigilantly attend meetings, often going seven nights a week and occasionally doubling up at lunchtime. He’s been asked to become a speaker at those gatherings.
Pomer is now walking 10 to13 kilometres a day and sleeping better because of it. He said he “got his skinny little legs in shape again” and he is ready to work. Pomer said his priority is to stay active. He said he did little, other than drink and watch TV, in the months leading up to rehab.
“I was just a stupid loser, isolated and feeling sorry for myself.”
Jewish Family and Child is helping, too, he said. It gave him 20 $10 gift cards for groceries and a TTC Metropass for August, which is helpful for job hunting. Pomer also reconnected with his older brother, Henry — a relationship he described as wavering between strained and estranged — and said he has been “incredibly supportive.”
Pomer hopes to eventually find an affordable basement apartment in the Bloor and Spadina area, walking distance to most of his meetings. For now he has no home and is staying with friends.
Jafine said Pomer, who rarely thought beyond his immediate desires, is finally acknowledging he needs an aftercare program. That would give him accommodation, two meals a day, counselling and drug testing for the next two or three months.
While Pomer said he didn’t go through physical withdrawal in rehab or afterwards, he did have one slip-up. One afternoon, 23 days after graduating, he bought a bottle of Southern Comfort. He took a couple of sips, and said he cursed himself and then dumped the rest down the drain. Pomer said he went back to the treatment centre, explained what had happened and received encouragement for his response.
Pomer has been looking at getting work as a waiter but as his self-confidence returns, he’s thinking about how he can use his handicapping skills again. He said he had an interview and believes he has a chance to land a job with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp., working as a sports wagering adviser. He’s also going to look at trying to get back into broadcasting in some capacity.
“I don’t envy his situation, at age 60 trying to start from square one again,” said Jafine.
“But think of the alternative. If he didn’t do what he did in terms of getting help, going to rehab and trying to turn his life around, he wasn’t going to make it another five years. He was going to be homeless, in the street with nobody to help him. He would have probably died between 60 and 65.”
Pomer recently spent a day with his old friend, Steve Simmons.
“I thought it was the best I’d seen him in years, the most realistic,” said Simmons. “I just thought he was mature about what he was dealing with, which he hasn’t always been.”
“I think this probably was rock bottom for him, losing his home and going into rehab. I think it’s a pretty stunning change of life. You either deal with it and accept it or you continue on your path. It looks to me that he’s in a better place than I’ve seen in for a very long time.”
Despite being keenly aware of everything he’s lost, Pomer said he — and he knows many won’t understand this — looks back with no regrets. He remembers his “fun in the sun” with fondness.
“Most people would say, ‘C’mon, you’d take back all that money.’ No, I wouldn’t change a thing. That’s who I am. That’s who I was,” he said.
“I’m still Pomer. The only difference is, I don’t live in a big home with a pool or a tennis court or anything like that. I don’t have my Palm Beach place. I’m generous psychologically now. I listen better. I don’t have my wealth but I don’t care. I’ve been there, done that. I had my time.”
This is it, then.
We can officially drop the pretence of equality after violent protests by white supremacists, “heritage” groups, neo-Nazis, KKK members and armed white terrorists slammed that charade this weekend.
Their deadly brand of racism was effectively endorsed by the United States president when he failed to call out supremacists, anti-Semites, xenophobes and homophobes and instead rebuked the “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.”
On many sides. Which sides would those be, Mr. President, when there were just two: white supremacy — and equality.
Donald Trump wants to “study it,” he said, “to see how such things can happen.” He might want to start with studying the “many sides” of injustice at play.
Take a moment to think about what these people were protesting as they marched through the University of Virginia campus Friday night carrying torches and breaking into fisticuffs. And again, whey they showed up Saturday morning, waving Confederate and Nazi flags, carrying semi-automatic weapons, helmets, spears and shields, throwing punches, water bottles and spraying chemicals. A car plowed through counter-protesters flinging bodies in the air, killing one person and injuring dozens.
These savage people were not protesting white lives lost to police brutality. They were not protesting disproportionate incarceration of white people, or stricter sentencing than people of other races, or being denied housing or education for the colour of their skin. They were not protesting any of that because it is not their reality.
They were not protesting. Period.
They were rioting.
Their tempers were inflamed by the possibility of the removal of a statue of Civil War-era Confederate general Robert E. Lee. The city council voted for the removal in April, but it is pending litigation.
Not only was Lee the general who led a war to defend the ownership of Black people as property, he was also one of its more cruel enforcers — breaking up families and hiring them to other plantations, ordering the enslaved to be whipped and brine poured on their backs, as detailed in an eye-opening profile in the Atlantic in June.
The Saturday protesters had gathered at Emancipation Park, the new name of what was once Lee Park, where the statue stands.
Jason Kessler, a right-wing blogger, told media the protests were also about free speech and “advocating for white people.”
This, they believed, entitled them to chant things such as “White power,” “White Lives Matter,” “You will not replace us” and “Jew will not replace us.”
It was a mind-boggling show of white fragility, by people threatened not because their rights are being trampled by any measurable means but because a few voices of those they historically oppressed are starting to be heard again.
Where were the police ominously beating back protesters in the numbers they did in Ferguson, in Chicago, in Charlotte, in Baltimore, in Cleveland among other places when Black people protested deaths at the hands of police? Where are the calls for white people to denounce this disgusting display of hate in their name? Why is the driver of the car that plowed into people not being called a terrorist? Will we now ask that white people be the eyes and ears on the front lines of white hatred?
Remember Mark Hughes, the armed Black man called a suspect by Dallas police during protests in July last year? They called him a suspect even as he was helping them evacuate people and they did not take down their tweet with his photo even after it was established he was innocent.
In this gathering, white men armed to the teeth roam freely, with the privilege of knowing their rights will be protected.
The flags they were waving signify death and devastation to significant groups of Americans. Yet, they were allowed because, democracy. Would these democratic rights be granted to anyone wanting to wave the equally reprehensible Daesh (ISIS) flags?
Trump, a normally avid tweeter who releases foreign policy details in 140 characters, was silent until later in the day when he tweeted out a vague denunciation of the events and gave his insipid speech.
In all fairness, his blandness was not a surprise. Why would he disavow his friends?
Former KKK “imperial wizard” David Duke said, “This (protest) represents a turning point. We are determined to take our country back. We are going to fulfil the promises of Donald Trump. That’s why we voted for Donald Trump.”
Over at the Daily Stormer, the white supremacist website, there was jubilation. “Trump comments were good. He didn’t attack us.... No condemnation at all. When asked to condemn, he just walked out of the room. Really, really good. God bless him.”
Not all Trump’s buddies were pleased with his speech, though. Richard Spencer, the founder of the “Alt-Right” hate group, who was not shot at, not beaten, not punched, but maced by police, was miffed.
“Trump should not have praised the state and local police,’ he tweeted. “They did the opposite of their job. Total disaster.”
Total disaster. Never thought I’d agree with anything that revolting man said.
Shree Paradkar writes about discrimination and identity. You can follow her @shreeparadkar
TORONTO—Weather and reduced staffing of air traffic controllers at Toronto Pearson International Airport is causing delays and dozens of flight cancellations.
NAV Canada, which owns and operates Canada’s civil air navigation service, says weather has affected flights to Montreal and Newark, N.J., from Toronto.
In an email Saturday, spokesperson Jonathan Bagg says flights scheduled to land in Toronto are also affected by weather and reduced staffing levels at Pearson’s control tower.
He says a ground delay program has been implemented, which is a traffic management procedure where flights are delayed at their departure airport to manage demand and capacity at their arrival airport.
NAV Canada did not explain the reason for the reduced staffing levels, but says it is working to get aircraft “on their way as quickly as possible.”
About 80 flights scheduled to arrive at Pearson had been cancelled as of Saturday evening.
In a tweet Saturday afternoon, the airport was warning passengers that lightning could affect their flight schedules.
Demand for mental health services at Ontario universities and colleges has reached an all-time high.
With another wave of students about to begin a new academic year, the pressure on campus health providers shows no signs of diminishing. And schools are struggling to keep up.
More than ever before, students are being referred by campus health staff to services off-campus.
School and government officials say it’s a necessary step to handle the volume and complexity of student needs. But mental health advocates and students themselves say transitioning from on-campus to off-campus mental health services can leave major gaps in care, forcing students to navigate a confusing system in a sometimes strange city, often with the added barriers of long wait times and high financial costs.
For many of those involved, the solution is for university staff to provide strong support and guidance to students as they access off-campus resources. But that kind help is often missing during the transition process, critics say.
“We will fill in the gaps where we can, but we’re not a treatment facility,” said Casey Phillips, assistant vice-president of students at Nipissing University in North Bay. “We’re meant for that brief therapy, we’re meant to handle some of that lower level. (For) more complex cases we are reliant upon the community.”
Beginning post-secondary school often means moving away from home for the first time, and being far from family and friends.
The majority of mental health issues begin to surface during a person’s teens or 20s. But age restrictions on youth programs force many young people to abandon the mental health services they have accessed for years around the age of 18 — leaving them on their own to find new sources of help in the adult health-care system.
In May, the Ontario government pledged to boost annual funding for college and university mental health services by $6 million per year — bringing the total provincial investment in campus mental health services from $9 million to $15 million, to be split by approximately 45 institutions.
A decision has not yet been made about how much each school will get of this new money. But, if the total $15-million budget were apportioned equally between all universities and colleges in Ontario, each would receive a little over $333,000, a paltry sum compared to overall university budgets.
Despite the cash injection, campus services will not be able to meet everyone’s mental health needs, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development Deb Matthews said in a statement to the Star.
“Mental illness is a spectrum,” Matthews said. “For some students, on-campus resources such as counselling and/or peer support may be the best and most helpful provision of care. For students with more complex mental health needs, the institution can serve as a point of referral or information in helping that student access the appropriate community supports and get the help that they need.”
The growing demand for mental health services has sparked a debate about universities and colleges’ level of responsibility when it comes to caring for their students.
Some argue schools should take an almost parental role, guiding and advising their students as much as possible. Others, however, argue that universities are educational institutions and should not be called upon to help students with personal or health-related problems, particularly once students leave campus.
Markham native Alicia Raimundo began struggling with anxiety and depression in childhood, but it wasn’t until she went away to the University of Waterloo that she was able to really pursue face-to-face help on a consistent basis.
Mental health staff at the university referred her off-campus, but did not help with the transition, she said.
“They gave me a number and a pamphlet and said good luck.”
It can be daunting for students in need of help to venture off-campus, Raimundo said.
“Schools are their own communities, especially ones that have huge populations of students that move to that city or town for that school. When you refer somebody out . . . it’s basically like referring somebody to another town.”
To ensure students follow through and get the help they need, mental health staff on-campus should have strong relationships with off-campus care providers, and take the step of booking students’ first appointments with off-campus services, said Raimundo, who graduated in 2012 and now works as a peer support provider at Stella’s Place, a mental health organization for people in their teens and 20s.
Other students, however, say the logistics of leaving campus at all can be difficult for those balancing a full course load, a part-time job, or other commitments.
“A long transit ride somewhere isn’t necessarily possible . . . and a student who is in crisis is probably unlikely to go to great lengths to reach these services if they are a 45-minute bus ride away,” said Alyssa Logan, a University of Guelph student who has looked for mental health services through the school.
To make access easier for students, off-campus mental health professionals should make regular visits to campuses to supplement school resources, said Taryn MacDonald, a recent graduate of the University of Guelph who sought on-campus mental health services while a student.
“Just like there are dental and medical outreach programs that will come to schools, we need mental outreach programs to come to schools,” MacDonald said. “Having psychologists, professional counsellors, or even social workers come in once a week to hold walk-in sessions for students who need the help — but aren’t getting it at school — would be beneficial.”
University and college staff must understand what community services are out there so they can properly inform the students they refer, said Erik Labrosse, director of student life at Laurentian University in Sudbury.
“(We must) be knowledgeable about the services, understand what the waiting times are and make sure that we’re giving good advice and making good referrals to the community,” he said.
Universities in smaller, more remote parts of the province face their own challenges and benefits in the collaboration with community mental health services.
Nipissing University, a school of about 5,000 students, has fewer options when referring students off-campus, as compared to schools in large cities, where multiple hospitals and community resources exist, said Phillips.
The advantage of being a smaller school in a smaller town, though, is the ability to build relationships with the community resources that do exist, and really understand what services they provide, Phillips added.
“We might do a really good job of being able to collaborate and make those referrals out but . . . we might not have as many community resources to refer them out to, and so sometimes you’re trying to fit that circle into the square to provide the service as best we can.”
The fact that more students are coming forward and asking for help is a positive development said Ann Tierney, vice-provost and dean of student affairs at Queen’s University.
But the increase in demand has forced universities and colleges to rethink the way they work with outside services to address students’ mental health needs.
“I see it as a partnership role,” Tierney said. “Certainly we have resources on campus but there are times when the student needs some expertise that is best available off-campus. Those community services are really key.”
This summer, when it rains, it pours — and the wet conditions have left many Ontario farmers struggling.
Beginning with a rainy spring that in some areas delayed planting and then flooded crops, the full extent of the damage won’t be fully known until the fall harvest — but the Ontario Federation of Agriculture estimates it will easily be in the “hundreds of millions” across the province, especially in eastern Ontario and the Holland Marsh area.
“This is the second year in a row” of volatile weather, said president Keith Currie. “The areas most hit with drought last year are getting hardest hit with rain this year.”
The back-to-back bad conditions have prompted PC MPP Jim Wilson to call on the government to provide additional aid to farmers. He toured affected properties in his Simcoe-Grey riding with staff from the agriculture minister’s office, but said he was “very, very disappointed” to hear that no new funds are forthcoming, especially when about one-third of farmers have no crop insurance.
Years ago, after a tornado, the then-agriculture minister started a special program to help apple growers replant all their uprooted trees, Wilson said, and he wonders why something similar is not now in the works.
“There is great uncertainty and it is far too early for the Wynne government to be turning its backs on farmers,” Wilson said. “There are billions available when there’s trouble or there’s a Liberal scandal, and they have nothing for what, in the big picture, is (one of) the backbones of our economy.”
This year eastern Ontario in particular has suffered, with the region on its way to record precipitation after 705 millimetres of rain from April 1 to the end of July. Last year, during the same time period, it was 193 millimetres, and the normal amount is 340 millimetres. Toronto has seen 388 millimetres of rain, compared to 160 millimetres last year during that same four-month period, and an average of 291.
“I don’t know what’s happening in Ottawa,” said David Phillips of Environment Canada. “We think it’s wet here, but it’s nothing compared to Ottawa. It’s almost as if it’s become a monsoonal climate.”
North of Toronto, Beeton farmers Barry and Bonnie Dorsey lost hundreds of acres after a torrential storm in late June, estimating $2.5 million in damages to crops including potatoes, onions and carrots.
“That morning, we had 20 to 30 acres under water,” said Barry Dorsey. Hours later, “we had 500 acres two feet under water” as overloaded local rivers and drainage ditches flowed onto their property.
There was so much, his nephew went kayaking across the fields. When the water was finally drained, workers found a number of fish. A farmer nearby lost 100 of 175 acres.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Barry Dorsey, who has farmed for decades. “I’ve never had this ever happen to me.”
The government says it is “too soon to determine the full impact this year’s unpredictable weather will have on crops across the province” and Agriculture Minister Jeff Leal plans to continue to keep a close eye on the situation.
“Farmers have a tough job but they do it well, even during difficult times,” he said via email to the Star. “This season, several parts of the province have been hit with unseasonable weather which has impacted planting and growing conditions for some Ontario farmers. I have been monitoring this situation and recognize the stress that severe weather events cause for our farm families.”
He said the government has programs available, including insurance, spending “more than $230 million every year … to help producers cover loss and damage due to risks that are beyond their control, like extreme weather.”
There are provincial and federal programs that can help some farmers, and while they may take time to pay out, “there are opportunities that they can take advantage of, and every little bit helps,” said Currie of the agriculture federation.
But extra measures wouldn’t have to mean “a cheque in the mail,” he added, but maybe letting financial institutions give farmers a break on interest payments “to help them get back on their feet.”
Currie also said farmers should be included in the government’s climate change action plans, given the impact of the weather changes on their livelihood.
When crops are harvested this fall, the impact of the rain could show up in the quality and quantity of the yield, said Professor Dave Hooker of the University of Guelph, a field crop agronomist who is in continual contact with farmers across the province.
In April and May, too-moist soil in the east half of the province meant corn and soy bean crops could not be planted — though areas west of Toronto continue to be “exceptionally dry,” he said. That delay pushes the season later, as does replanting fields after rain damage, “and results in a number of different consequences,” he said. Later planting can make crops more susceptible to flooding, and root rot can set in affecting growth or even killing them.
Too much water can also lead to a loss of nutrients, in particular nitrogen, considered crucial for high crop production, Hooker added.
“It’s clearly been night and day compared to last year … last year, it was all about ‘where is the rain?,’ this year it’s all about too much rain,” said Phillips of Environment Canada.
“ … That is the thing, this is what just upsets farmers, dismays them, how do we deal with this back to back?”
And it’s not just rain, but a lack of warmth this summer. In terms of days above 30 degrees, Ottawa has had six this year, compared to 26 in 2016; Toronto just eight, and 29 last year.
Phillips said while the focus is typically the extremes of climate change, “but another mark is variation” in weather. While weather forecasts have become more accurate, he said, farmers rely on typical seasons with few outliers, and now, “you can’t count on it being a normal season or a normal year.”
After days of genially bombastic interactions with the news media on North Korea and the shortcomings of congressional Republicans, Trump on Saturday condemned the bloody protests in Charlottesville, Va., in what critics in both parties saw as muted, equivocal terms.
During a brief and uncomfortable address to reporters at his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, he called for an end to the violence. But he was the only national political figure to spread blame for the “hatred, bigotry and violence” that resulted in the death of one person to “many sides.”
For the most part, Republican leaders and other allies have kept quiet over several months about Trump’s outbursts and angry Twitter posts. But recently they have stopped averting their gazes and on Saturday a handful criticized his reaction to Charlottesville as insufficient.
“Mr. President — we must call evil by its name,” tweeted Sen. Cory Gardner who oversees the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the campaign arm of the Senate Republicans.
“These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism,” he added, a description several of his colleagues used.
Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and the father of the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, did not dispute Trump’s comments directly, but he called the behaviour of white nationalists in Charlottesville “evil.”
Democrats have suggested that Trump is simply unwilling to alienate the segment of his white electoral base that embraces bigotry. The president has forcefully rejected any suggestion he harbours any racial or ethnic animosities, and points to his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, an observant Jew, and his daughter Ivanka, who converted to the faith, as proof of his inclusiveness.
In one Twitter post Saturday, Trump nodded to that inclusiveness.
“We must remember this truth: No matter our colour, creed, religion or political party, we are ALL AMERICANS FIRST,” the president wrote, a statement that had echoes of his campaign slogan, America First.
But like several other statements Trump made Saturday, the tweet made no mention that the violence in Charlottesville was initiated by white supremacists brandishing anti-Semitic placards, Confederate battle flags, torches and a few Trump campaign signs.
Trump, the product of a well-to-do, predominantly white Queens enclave who in 1989 paid for a full-page ad in The New York Times calling for the death penalty for five black teenagers convicted but later exonerated of raping a white woman in Central Park, flirted with racial controversy during the 2016 campaign. He repeatedly expressed outrage that anyone could suggest he was prejudiced.
When he retweeted white supremacists’ accounts, he brushed aside questions about them. When he was asked about the support he had been given by David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan leader, he chafed, insisting he didn’t know Duke.
Finally, at a news conference in South Carolina, Trump said “I disavow” when pressed on Duke. He later described Duke as a “bad person.”
When his social media director, Dan Scavino, posted an image on Trump’s Twitter feed with a Star of David near Hillary Clinton’s head, with money raining down, Trump rejected widespread criticism of the image as anti-Semitic. And after years of questioning President Barack Obama’s citizenship, he blamed others for raising the issue in the first place.
In an interview that aired in September, Trump said “I am the least racist person that you have ever met,” a statement he repeated at a White House news conference in February.
In Bedminster on Saturday, Trump said he and his team were “closely following the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville,” then tried to portray the violence there as a chronic, bipartisan plague. “It’s been going on for a long time in our country,” he said. “It’s not Donald Trump. It’s not Barack Obama.”
Trump did not single out the marchers, who included the white supremacist Richard Spencer and Duke, for their ideology.
While Democrats and some Republicans faulted Trump for being too vague, Duke was among the few Trump critics who thought the president had gone too far.
“I would recommend you take a good look in the mirror & remember it was White Americans who put you in the presidency, not radical leftists,” he wrote on Twitter, shortly after the president spoke.
The president remained silent on the violence for most of the morning even as House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Trump’s wife, Melania, and dozens of other public figures condemned the march.
Melania Trump, using her official Twitter account, wrote, “Our country encourages freedom of speech, but let’s communicate w/o hate in our hearts. No good comes from violence. #Charlottesville.”
Ryan was even more explicit. “The views fuelling the spectacle in Charlottesville are repugnant. Let it only serve to unite Americans against this kind of vile bigotry,” he wrote on Twitter at noon, around the time that Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia declared a state of emergency in the city.
“As @POTUS Trump said, “We have to come together as Americans with love for our nation... & true affection for each other.” #Charlottesville” — Vice-President Mike Pence on Twitter.
With files from the Associated Press
Barrie teacher Cheryl O’Keefe doesn’t know how she would have survived the stress-induced sleepless nights of July had school not been out for the summer.
O’Keefe is among Toronto region home buyers and sellers who got caught in the spring real estate downturn.
When the sale on her house finally closed a month past the originally agreed-upon date, it was the end of an expensive nightmare for O’Keefe.
Others who sold their homes in this year’s once frenzied real estate market, are still struggling to complete their transactions.
Lawyers, realtors and mortgage brokers report a surge in calls from distressed sellers whose buyers purchased in the heat of the market, only to find that the subsequent drop in the home’s value is more than the cost of walking away from a deposit.
Others, who bought unconditionally, have discovered they can’t get the financing to meet their purchase obligation. In some cases, the bank appraisal has come in at a value below what a purchaser agreed to pay, leaving the buyer scrambling to make up the difference.
O’Keefe’s real estate agent, Peggy Hill of Keller Williams, says closings have been stalling since the end of June. Barrie home prices may not be as high as some closer to the city, but the drop has been precipitous.
“Our average price for a home in Barrie is $471,822 for July. In March it was $570,199. We’re talking about a $100,000 difference,” she said.
That is still $40,000 above the average price of July 2016. But back then, 208 of the 260 homes listed sold. “This July we have 201 sales so the sales are still there but with 683 active (listings),” said Hill. “That’s the real picture.”
The GTA-wide picture is similar. When the regional market peaked in April, the average home price — including every category from condos to detached houses — was $919,449. By July, it had fallen to $746,216, although prices were still up 5 per cent year over year.
There were 9,989 sales among 11,346 active listings in July of 2016, according to the Toronto Real Estate Board. This July, listings soared to 18,751 listings, with only 5,921 sales.
O’Keefe had lived in her bungalow for only about two years when she decided to sell it in February, about the time property prices were peaking. Her basement apartment was standing empty and she wanted to downsize.
The real estate frenzy in Barrie mimicked Toronto’s and most of the 43 showings of O’Keefe’s house were, in fact, people from Toronto.
Like many homes at the time, O’Keefe’s sold in about a week for more than the listed price. The buyer put down a $25,000 deposit and requested a longer-than-usual four-month closing date of June 28.
“That was fine. It just gave me more time to do what I had to do,” said O’Keefe.
What she had to do was find a new home for herself in the same fiercely competitive market. She lost a couple of bidding wars and turned her back on a century home she loved because she knew it would go at a price she could never justify.
When she happened on an open house that fit her needs, O’Keefe bought it with a May 28 closing — a month ahead of when her own home sale was to be finalized. She arranged bridge financing to cover both mortgages for that month.
It all looked good on paper. But as the spring wore on, O’Keefe grew uneasy. The buyers of her house had not requested the usual pre-closing visit. Usually, excited new owners want a look around.
O’Keefe got her realtor to call. No response.
A week from closing, she had still heard nothing. At 4:50 p.m. on closing day, her lawyer talked to the purchaser, who admitted he was having difficulty with the closing.
By then, O’Keefe had been living in her new place a month and was paying two mortgages.
She agreed to extend the closing to July 14. When that didn’t happen, O’Keefe agreed to a second extension to July 31. The date came and went. Finally on Aug. 2, her lawyer called to say the buyer closed.
“Every step of the way everything that could be a headache has been a headache,” she said.
O’Keefe’s realtor says that so far, in her office, even problematic closings have been finalized. But some have been disappointing.
“There have been deals where we’ve had to take less commission. The seller had to take less money to make it close because at that point they’re euchred.
“It’s usually $40,000 to $50,000 because of our price point. In other areas I know it’s in hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said Hill, referring to areas such as Richmond Hill, Newmarket and Aurora, also hard hit by the market’s downward slope.
Some buyers have requested extensions on new home purchases because their old places didn’t sell, said Hill.
“That’s understandable,” she said. “In March, you wouldn’t dare go in with an offer conditional on the sale of a home. The problem is, in April, when all hell broke loose, everybody started putting their houses on the market fearing they had missed the top.”
Many have arranged bridge financing and moved on. But others haven’t been as fortunate, said Toronto lawyer Neal Roth.
He has been getting about five calls a week since mid-May from home sellers struggling to close on transactions.
“There is this horrendous domino effect going on where people in the spring were rushing into the market for a variety of reasons, committing to prices that in some instances were well beyond their means,” he said.
Most of his callers represent one of two scenarios.
First, there’s someone paid $1.5 million for a house that has since become worth $1.4 million, so they want to get out of the purchase.
“The other type of person says, ‘The bank promised me 60 per cent financing. Now that I’m at $1.5 million I should still get the same 60 per cent, not realizing that you have to come up with the 40 per cent of your own cash, or that the bank said 60 per cent when you were at $1.2 million, not $1.5 million,” said Roth.
While he thinks some sellers got greedy and some buyers should have been more careful, he hasn’t encountered anyone who got caught playing the property market.
“They’re all average people. None of them have been speculators as far as I know,” he said.
It’s not uncommon for mortgage brokers to hear from home buyers struggling with financing, said Nick L’Ecuyer of The Mortgage Wellness Group in Barrie
“But what we’re getting now is people who are in sheer turmoil. They don’t know what to do at all,” he said.
Some sellers, who planned to use their equity to put down 20 per cent or more on another home, don’t realize they can’t get bridge financing from a bank if they don’t have a firm purchase agreement on their old house.
Then there’s the hard truth that the house they’re selling isn’t likely to go for as much as they expected earlier in the year.
They can put down just 5 per cent and apply for a government-insured mortgage, but that’s more complicated and costly, said L’Ecuyer.
The Appraisal Institute of Canada doesn’t have statistics on the number of lender-commissioned appraisals that come in short of the agreed-upon price of a home.
But based on anecdotal accounts, it’s happening more now in the GTA, said institute CEO Keith Lancastle.
“Any time you go into a situation where you make an abrupt change from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market — where you see a slowdown for whatever reason — you can encounter this situation,” he said.
The role of an appraiser is to provide an unbiased opinion of a property’s value at a given point of time.
“A heated market does not automatically translate into a true market value. When you take away the heat, all of a sudden it settles down into something that is perhaps more reflective of what true market value is,” said Lancastle.
He says he’s still surprised by how emotional what is routinely now a million-dollar home buying experience can be.
“It’s arguable that mortgage lending should not be underwriting that emotion and that notion of a sober second thought is really important, not only for the purchaser, but also for the lender,” he said.
Buyers tempted to walk away from a deposit need to realize that they may still face a lawsuit, says L’Ecuyer. If you bought a house for $500,000 and decided to forfeit the deposit, and the seller gets only $450,000 from another buyer, you can be sued for the difference, he said. There is also the possibility of being sued by a realtor who isn’t getting a commission, and for additional legal and carrying costs.
Roth said there are people who don’t even realize that when they back out of a sale, their deposit is automatically lost.
O’Keefe believes that because she priced her home on the low side, it hasn’t lost any value. “You start talking to people and this is happening to so many,” she said. “I’m lucky that my house closed.”
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA.—A car rammed into a crowd of protesters and a state police helicopter crashed into the woods Saturday as tension boiled over at a white supremacist rally. The violent day left three dead, dozens injured and this usually quiet college town a bloodied symbol of the nation’s roiling racial and political divisions.
The chaos erupted around what is believed to be the largest group of white nationalists to come together in a decade — including neo-Nazis, skinheads, members of the Ku Klux Klan — who descended on the city to “take America back” by rallying against plans to remove a Confederate statue. Hundreds came to protest against the racism. There were street brawls and violent clashes; the governor declared a state of emergency, police in riot gear ordered people out and helicopters circled overhead.
Peaceful protesters were marching downtown, carrying signs that read “black lives matter” and “love.” A silver Dodge Challenger suddenly came barrelling through “a sea of people” and smashed into another car, said Matt Korbon, a 22-year-old University of Virginia student.
The impact hurled people into the air and blew off their shoes. Heather Heyer, 32, was killed as she crossed the street.
“It was a wave of people flying at me,” said Sam Becker, 24, sitting in the emergency room to be treated for leg and hand injuries.
Those left standing scattered, screaming and running for safety. Video caught the car reversing, hitting more people, its windshield splintered from the collision and bumper dragging on the pavement. Medics carried the injured, bloodied and crying, away as a police tank rolled down the street.
The driver, James Alex Fields Jr., a 20-year-old who recently moved to Ohio from where he grew up in Kentucky, was charged with second-degree murder and other counts. Field’s mother, Samantha Bloom, told The Associated Press on Saturday night that she knew her son was attending a rally in Virginia but didn’t know it was a white supremacist rally.
“I thought it had something to do with Trump. Trump’s not a white supremacist,” said Bloom, who became visibly upset as she learned of the injuries and deaths at the rally.
“He had an African-American friend so ...,” she said before her voice trailed off. She added that she’d be surprised if her son’s views were that far right.
His arrest capped off hours of unrest. Hundreds of people threw punches, hurled water bottles and unleashed chemical sprays. Some came prepared for a fight, with body armour and helmets. Videos that ricocheted around the world on social media showed people beating each other with sticks and shields.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Charlottesville Mayor Michael Signer, both Democrats, lumped the blame squarely on the rancour that has seeped into American politics and the white supremacists who came from out of town into their city, nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, home to Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s plantation.
“There is a very sad and regrettable coarseness in our politics that we’ve all seen too much of today,” Signer said at a press conference. “Our opponents have become our enemies, debate has become intimidation.”
Some of the white nationalists at Saturday’s rally cited U.S. President Donald Trump’s victory after a campaign of racially-charged rhetoric as validation for their beliefs.
Trump criticized the violence in a tweet Saturday, followed by a press conference and a call for “a swift restoration of law and order.”
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides,” he said.
The “on many sides” ending of his statement drew the ire of his critics, who said he failed to specifically denounce white supremacy and equated those who came to protest racism with the white supremacists. The Rev. Jesse Jackson noted that Trump for years questioned President Barack Obama’s citizenship and his legitimacy as the first black president, and has fanned the flames of white resentment.
“We are in a very dangerous place right now,” Jackson said. McAuliffe said at Saturday’s press conference that he spoke to Trump on the phone, and insisted that the president must work to combat hate.
Trump said he agreed with McAuliffe “that the hate and the division must stop and must stop right now.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced late Saturday that federal authorities will pursue a civil rights investigation into the circumstances surrounding the crash.
The violence and deaths in Charlottesville strike at the heart of American law and justice,” Sessions wrote. “When such actions arise from racial bigotry and hatred, they betray our core values and cannot be tolerated.”
Oren Segal, who directs the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, said multiple white power groups gathered in Charlottesville, including members of neo-Nazi organizations, racist skinheads and KKK factions. The white nationalist organizations Vanguard America and Identity Evropa; the Southern nationalist League of the South; the National Socialist Movement; the Traditionalist Workers Party; and the Fraternal Order of Alt Knights also were on hand, he said.
“We anticipated this event being the largest white supremacist gathering in over a decade,” Segal said. “Unfortunately, it appears to have become the most violent as well.”
On the other side, anti-fascist demonstrators also gathered, but they generally aren’t organized like white nationalist factions, said Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
In addition to Fields, at least three more men were arrested in connection to the protests.
The Virginia State Police announced late Saturday that Troy Dunigan, a 21-year-old from Chattanooga, Tennessee, was charged with disorderly conduct; Jacob L. Smith, a 21-year-old from Louisa, Virginia, was charged with assault and battery; and James M. O’Brien, 44, of Gainesville, Florida, was charged with carrying a concealed handgun.
Just as the city seemed like to be quieting down, black smoke billowed out from the tree tops just outside of town as a Virginia State Police helicopter crashed into the woods.
Robby E. Noll, who lives in the county just outside Charlottesville, heard the helicopter sputtering.
“I turned my head to the sky. You could tell he was struggling to try to get control of it,” he said.
He said pieces of the helicopter started to break off as it fell from the sky.
Both troopers on-board, Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen, 48, and Berke M.M. Bates, one day shy of his 41st birthday, were killed. Police said the helicopter had been deployed to the violent protests in the city, which has been caught in the middle of the nation’s culture wars since it decided earlier this year to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, enshrined in bronze on horseback in the city’s Emancipation Park.
In May, a torch-wielding group that included prominent white nationalist Richard Spencer gathered around the statue for a nighttime protest, and in July, about 50 members of a North Carolina-based KKK group travelled there for a rally. Spencer returned for Saturday’s protest, and denied all responsibility for the violence. He blamed the police.
Signer said the white supremacist groups who came into his city to spread hate “are on the losing side of history.”
“Tomorrow will come and we will emerge,” he said, “I can promise you, stronger than ever.”
Six-hundred kilometres away, the mayor of Lexington, Kentucky, hinted that the white supremacists might get the opposite of what they’d hoped for.
Mayor Jim Gray announced on Twitter that he would work to remove the confederate monument at his county’s courthouse.
“Today’s events in Virginia remind us that we must bring our country together by condemning violence, white supremacists and Nazi hate groups,” he wrote. “We cannot let them define our future.”
When Hyeon Soo Lim walked through the front doors of the Light Presbyterian Church and looked at a crowd he hadn’t seen since he was taken captive in North Korea in early 2015, the room erupted into applause and chants of “our pastor” in Korean. Lim, dressed in a black suit and tie with his hair closely shorn, raised both hands and smiled. And the crowd yelled louder, craning for a photo or a glance of the pastor they had been praying for.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Junghwe Kim had said minutes before, positioning herself next to a potted tree in the hopes of taking a photo of the 62-year-old Lim. “Oh my god,” she said expectantly, clutching her phone and smiling, as all around her, people held hands and waited, giddy and excited. She talked of her prayers and her fears, and how happy she was that North Korea, which normally “does everything bad,” did a “very good” thing in releasing her pastor. “I hope he’s recovering.”
More than an hour before Lim arrived, church members stared out the window at the parking lot where Lim was due to arrive, waving at the phalanx of photographers and reporters who stood underneath a banner with their pastor’s smiling face and a message: “Welcome home Rev. Lim”
Anna Shin, who has been praying for Lim since the church found out he was captured during mission work in North Korea in January 2015, said she was “way too excited” for Sunday’s reunion with the congregation. She said the pastor is known for his sense of humour and his ability to connect with all ages.
Lim will not give the Sunday church service, but is expected to thank the congregation, according to church spokesperson Richard Ha.
Outside the church before the service, Lim told a group of reporters that he’s proud to be a Canadian.
“We are extremely happy,” said Lim’s son, James, addressing the media at the church on Saturday. “We’re ecstatic and joyful that my father is home. It was surreal in the beginning to witness my father coming off of an airplane after 2 ½ years.”
While he was in prison, Lim had only ever seen his not yet 1-year-old granddaughter in pictures, James Lim said. “It’s been amazing to see him hold my daughter for the first time.”
James Lim said his father is in good health and is recovering after the “ordeal.”
The elder Lim arrived in Toronto in the morning hours on Saturday. A spokesperson wouldn’t specify his route back to the city from North Korea.
“Everyone was excited when we heard the news” that he was freed, said Sam Shim, operations manager at Lim’s church, Saturday afternoon. “There was crying, joyful crying.”
After Lim was detained he was sentenced to life in a labour camp, with the regime there saying he had been conducting subversive actions against leader Kim Jong Un.
“He loved North Korea,” said Shim, adding that the congregation was “shocked” when Lim was detained.
Lim’s charitable work in North Korea was focused on food security and sustainable farming, the younger Lim said at the news conference.
North Korea’s Central Court granted Lim “sick bail” on humanitarian grounds on Wednesday.
Sweden helped facilitate his release as Canada does not have an embassy in North Korea.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed Lim’s freedom Thursday afternoon in a written statement: “The Government of Canada was actively in engaged on Mr. Lim’s case at all levels. In particular, I want to thank Sweden, our protecting power in North Korea, for assisting us.”
It has been reported that Lim was in poor health and had lost a lot of weight.
In a video provided by a spokesperson Saturday, a thin-looking Lim can be seen exiting what appears to be a government jet, smiling and hugging his family.
A photo also provided by family shows him hugging his granddaughter on the tarmac.
At the press conference, James Lim joked that his father welcomed the weight loss, adding that he is “in good spirits and is excited to come to church tomorrow. He hasn’t seen the congregation in many years”
A professor of dentistry and his colleagues have published a theory that seeks to explain why Inuit who encountered members of the doomed Franklin Expedition in the 19th century noticed the men had hard, dry and black mouths.
Russell Taichman at the University of Michigan says several explorers who interviewed Inuit who encountered the British sailors after they had abandoned their icebound ships noticed strange dental symptoms.
Taichman, who is from Toronto and has long been fascinated with Sir John Franklin’s failed mission to locate the Northwest Passage, said the symptoms didn’t seem to fit other theories about what befell the crew, such as scurvy, lead poisoning or spoilage in the tinned food they carried.
So, he and a librarian at the university, Mark MacEachern, began combing through medical literature to figure it out.
“What kept coming up several times was tuberculosis,” said Taichman in an interview from Ann Arbor, Mich.
“It was pretty common in British sailors at the time, living in close quarters.”
Taichman, who typically examines how tumours spread to bone marrow, said he discussed the finding with an oncologist and hematologist Frank Cackowski, who explained that tuberculosis can cause adrenal deficiency, or Addison’s disease.
Addison’s can produce the symptoms that were observed by the Inuit, Taichman said, although he noted it rarely progresses to that point in modern times.
He said that long term, it can be fatal.
The theory was published earlier this year in the journal Arctic.
Franklin left England in 1845 with 129 men to search for a northern sea route between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. No one from the two ships ever returned, and search missions determined that both ships became icebound and were abandoned.
Remains of some of the sailors have been found. The ships weren’t located until 2014 and 2016.
Taichman said the descriptions of the Inuit are particularly valuable because he believes they would have noticed and remembered small details.
“They’d never seen white guys before. So any weird looking things besides their skin would have been picked up. They were keen observers of nature,” Taichman said.
“It would be like seeing Martians. They weren’t functioning like the people you normally knew. So it would have stuck in their minds really clearly.”
Taichman said Addison’s is often a side-effect of steroid use today, but it was mostly caused by tuberculosis in the 19th century.
Evidence of tuberculosis was noted in three Franklin crewmember’s bodies that were exhumed near where the ships were abandoned.
Taichman said people with adrenal deficiency can’t regulate sodium well and have dry mouths from dehydration. They also have trouble keeping weight on.
“The Inuit couldn’t understand why (the men) were so thin because they were carrying with them cans of food,” he said. “And the Inuit opened it up and tasted it and said, ‘Hey, it tasted pretty good.’”
The Addison’s theory isn’t perfect. Even though tuberculosis may have been common in the close quarters of ships at the time, Taichman said Addison’s disease wasn’t widespread.
However, he said medical literature indicates tuberculosis combined with scurvy or lead poisoning, can bring on Addison’s.
High lead concentrations were observed in the recovered bones, which could have come from lead that was used for the tinned food, as well as from lead pipes on the ships that distilled drinking water.
Taichman said the men were also likely suffering from scurvy and that Addison’s could have been brought on by a combination of factors.
“It adds another dimension about what could have possibly happened,” Taichman said.
WASHINGTON—While the U.S. president trashes NAFTA as a one-sided, job-killing disaster possibly worth scrapping, the man who will lead the American negotiating team when talks start this week is an old proponent of the accord.
U.S. chief negotiator John Melle has sung NAFTA’s praises in the past.
He’s a career bureaucrat and unlike the boss in several ways: mastery of details, encyclopedic knowledge of Canada and Mexico, understated sense of humour and a work vocabulary that forgoes talk of good guys versus bad.
Melle’s worldview, according to friends, is that nobody’s a saint when it comes to free trade; everyone’s a bit of a protectionist sinner, and, if their mutual interests align, they just might get along to a get a deal.
He once praised the three-way pact with Canada and Mexico before the U.S. Congress.
“NAFTA partners today are not only better customers of one another, but better neighbours, more committed partners and more effective colleagues,” Melle told a Senate hearing on NAFTA’s 12th anniversary, in 2006.
He listed positive developments in the United States since NAFTA, which he worked on earlier in his career at the office of the United States Trade Representative.
He cited a major unemployment drop — from 7.1 per cent in the dozen years pre-NAFTA, to 5.1 per cent in the years after; a near-doubling in the growth rate of U.S. industrial production; even a five-fold increase in the growth rate of manufacturing output.
The first round of negotiations for a new NAFTA begins Wednesday in Washington.
A Canadian friend says both countries are lucky Melle is at the table. Laura Dawson said talks will be less problem-prone than under someone with superficial knowledge of the trade file who needs a primer on every issue.
Melle apparently carries a trade encyclopedia in his head.
“I’ve been doing trade for 20 years,” said Dawson. “And John has forgotten more than I ever knew. On an issue like softwood lumber when I would be like, ‘How does this work? And what happens there?’ he could go back through all the iterations of softwood and explain how this worked, and that, and why. Just a depth of knowledge.”
A former supervisor says the depth of experience gives him hope the countries might achieve the otherwise impossible mission handed them: completing a trade negotiation in just a few months, before the Mexican election.
The negotiators know their files and each other and can start working quickly, said Robert Holleyman, a former deputy U.S. trade representative.
“John Melle is a great guy — a longtime hand,” said Holleyman, now president at C&M International in Washington.
“There’s less posturing (with these professionals); they can roll up their sleeves, get down to business. ... They can avoid the small talk and get down to, ‘Okay, how do we work this out?’”
Chris Sands, a Canada-watcher at Johns Hopkins University, said Melle won’t mind being tough with Canadians.
Sands said the northern neighbour has a habit of resorting to the victim card in talks with the U.S., arguing for a better deal because it’s friendly or harmless to the U.S.
That won’t work on Melle, Sands said.
Unlike some in the U.S. government, he said, Melle does not see the neighbour through rose-coloured glasses. Rather, he’s a clear-eyed realist for whom nations act in their own perceived interest.
Sands says he sees all countries as guilty of hypocrisy on trade — preaching open commerce, while practising protectionism. That includes the northern neighbour, with Canada’s import controls in dairy, telecommunications, banking and alcohol.
“He’s a bit of a cynic on that kind of thing — I think, with justice,” Sands said.
“Every deal is transactional (to him like), ‘If you do that, it’s because it’s in your interest. If we do this, it’s because it’s in ours. We’ll try to do a deal.’ But from the position that nobody’s innocent here ...
“You almost have to do that with the Canadians. Because if you fall for their lovability they had you at, ‘Hello’.”
Canada-U.S. trade lawyer Mark Warner employs a more vivid metaphor: “He knows where all the bodies are buried.”
When Canadians claim to be free-traders, Warner said, Melle can quickly point to restrictions on U.S. wine in Canadian stores.
“You’re not going to put one over on him.”
In addition, the most sensitive decisions won’t be made by the negotiators. They will turn to their bosses, the ministers responsible for trade. The ultimate sign-off on any deal, eventually, comes from the big boss.
In Melle’s case, that means Trump.
Katerina Davies was just a kid when she broke her arm cartwheeling off a bench. But the 17-year-old still remembers a few things about the hospital. Throbbing pain. Hazy moments before surgery. And a lot of time spent staring at a blank white ceiling.
So when she and fellow students at Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts were asked to brighten the view for hospital patients lying face up, she was captivated.
“I thought it would be an amazing way to use our art,” says Davies, one of 65 visual arts students who created hand-painted tiles that now adorn the ceiling of the emergency department at North York General Hospital.
“I felt like it would be helpful to patients to realize, ‘Someone else was thinking of me.’ ”
Davies’ tile, created with a partner, depicts flowers and butterflies on a turquoise background, because “nature soothes so many people.”
The 50 pieces of ceiling artwork, roughly two feet by two feet in size, range from classical to impressionistic in style and include scenes from a starry night sky to underwater seascapes.
“I learned that doing something little can make a big impact,” says Davies, who saw her tile in its permanent place for the first time on Friday — in a gynecological examination room.
In a nearby hallway, a woman receiving oxygen on a gurney glanced up amid her distress to see a glowing landscape of a mountain and sky reflected in a lake. It was a moment’s distraction in the middle of a bustling hospital.
Around the corner, patients gazing upward got other visual treats: snowy evergreens and birch trees, and, a few paces away, palm trees on a beach and a deer and fawn in the forest.
The notion of collaborating on a ceiling tile project with local students was hatched earlier this year by Andrea Ennis, nurse and clinical team manager of North York’s emergency department.
She’d seen a tile painted by a volunteer years ago “and it got me thinking,” she says.
Ennis was determined to lift the spirits of the nearly 400 patients who come to the ER every day and to bring warmth to the stark hospital environment. After talking to a relative who taught art, she approached nearby Cardinal Carter, an arts-based school in the Toronto Catholic District School Board.
A month later, Ennis presented her idea directly to students, who were moved by descriptions of patients she had seen — an elderly woman with hours to live who longed to see the outdoors, a distraught woman whose pregnancy was at risk lying on an examination table, and a frightened young child who had to be held down while being sutured.
As the students listened, “you could hear a pin drop,” says Aurora Pagano, one of two visual arts teachers overseeing the project.
The hospital provided the fire-retardant tiles; the school provided the primer, acrylic paint — and talent.
In June, the creations were strategically mounted where they will have the most impact.
On a busy night, staff can tell patients “you may not get a room, but you get a tile,” says Ennis, who was blown away by what the students delivered.
“My idea of what they were going to do was not even close to what they produced,” she adds. “I thought we’d get cute little drawings. These are works of art.”
Not only do they calm and distract, but they can also be conversation starters between patients and staff, “reminding us there’s always a person behind the diagnosis.”
One elderly man recently brought in by ambulance was quickly intrigued by a tile depicting legs dangling from a dock with a view of a lake beyond. For a few minutes his misery gave way to his memories, as he recounted his summers spent in the outdoors.
“This gruff man came in uncomfortable and we started talking and when I walked away he wasn’t gruff anymore,” says Ennis.
The idea of enhancing hospitals with art — including “healing ceilings” — has caught on in recent years, in line with research that has found positive images can reduce anxiety and stress among patients.
A ceiling tile project that started 15 years ago at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre turned into a fundraiser, with sponsors paying for specific tiles painted by volunteers.
Similar projects have sprung up in Scarborough, Kingston and elsewhere in Ontario.
The unique idea of partnering with local students made sense to Ennis and was also in line with Pagano’s commitment to encouraging community involvement among her budding artists.
Their techniques and concepts were evaluated as class work. But marks weren’t a motivating factor for Phyllis Lam, 17. She was more interested in the opportunity to make a difference.
“This definitely stands out as one of my favourite projects and one of the most meaningful,” says Lam. All the students put their hearts and souls into it, she adds, sometimes staying in the studio for hours after school to polish every detail.
She and her partner created a soft scene with a kitten, recognizing that pets can be a huge source of comfort. That tile is now placed in a corridor where seniors are treated, many of whom don’t have families and are devoted to their animals, says Ennis.
Lam says when the completed tiles were assembled as a gallery, “I was really amazed to see how everyone could come up with something so different, yet unified as a whole.”
For Eve-Lareine Dandan, 16, there was a special poignancy to the project. She’s been treated at North York General for broken bones and more recently pneumonia, and stared at that same ceiling.
The playful tile she co-created of two dolphins swimming above a vibrant coral reef is seen by about 120 adults and children a day, Ennis tells her.
“Hopefully it’s just making things a little easier for someone,” says Dandan.
Meanwhile, Ennis is dreaming big. She wants the partnership to continue and grow, possibly involving other schools down the road.
“I’m really hoping to fill every space of the emergency department,” she says. “And I’d like this to cross over to the operating rooms, post-anesthetic care unit, the ICU (intensive care unit) and eventually the whole hospital.”
James Alex Fields Jr. of Ohio was charged with second-degree murder in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday after he smashed a car into a line of cars in an episode that left a 32-year-old woman dead and injured at least 19 other people who were protesting a rally staged by white nationalists.
What we know
— Fields, 20, was born in Kenton, Kentucky, to Samantha Lea Bloom.
— He was living with his mother until “five or six months ago” when he moved to his own apartment in Maumee, Ohio, according to an interview that Bloom gave to The Toledo Blade. They moved to Ohio from Kentucky about a year ago because of her job, she said.
— Fields’ father died before he was born, an aunt, Pam Fields, said on Sunday.
— Pam Fields said she had not seen her nephew, whom she remembered as a “very quiet little boy” more than five times in the past 10 years.
— Military records show that James Alex Fields Jr. entered the Army on Aug. 18, 2015, around the time his mother wrote on Facebook that he had left for boot camp. Less than four months later, on Dec. 11, his period of active duty concluded. It was not immediately clear why he left the military.
— Fields had been photographed hours earlier carrying the emblem of one of the hate groups that organized the “take America back” campaign. In a photo taken by the New York Daily News, Fields stands with a handful of men, all dressed similarly in the Vanguard America uniform of khakis and white polo shirts.
— Vanguard America denied on Sunday any association with the suspect.
“The driver of the vehicle that hit counterprotesters today was, in no way, a member of Vanguard America,” the group said in a statement on its Twitter account. “All our members had been safely evacuated by the time of the incident. The shields seen do not denote membership, nor does the white shirt. The shirts were freely handed out to anyone in attendance.”
— Fields was driving a Dodge Challenger “at a high rate of speed” in downtown Charlottesville at about 1:45 p.m., a spokesperson for the city said in a statement. He drove the car into a sedan, which hit a minivan that was in front of it.
The impact of the crash pushed the sedan and the minivan into a crowd of pedestrians. Fields fled the scene in the Challenger but was stopped a short time later by the Charlottesville police.
— The city identified the dead woman as Heather D. Heyer of Charlottesville.
— Caitlin Robinson, who attended Ockerman Middle School in Florence, Kentucky, with Fields, suggested that his interest in far-right ideologies dated back years.
“On many occasions there were times he would scream obscenities, whether it be about Hitler or racial slurs,” Robinson wrote in an email on Sunday.
She said Fields “mostly kept to himself” and “didn’t start fights or try to fight,” but she described him as “exceptionally odd and an outcast to be sure.”
“He wasn’t afraid to make you feel unsafe,” she said.
With files from The Associated Press
A Toronto paralegal has been found guilty by the legal profession’s watchdog of defrauding clients of over $1 million and providing immigration services for which he was not licensed.
Victor Manuel Castillo Garcia, who was licensed as a paralegal by the Law Society of Upper Canada in 2010, worked with clients from around the world — including Taiwan, Cuba, El Salvador, Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Peru — for their permanent residence and work permit applications.
The paralegal also failed to provide statements of account for money received from clients and instead, established a company, VIPA Financial, to receive payments and offer “financing” and credit to clients — an apparent conflict in interest, a law society disciplinary tribunal found.
Not only did the clients lose their money, they were unable to retrieve their original documents submitted to the paralegal for their applications, said the tribunal in its decision.
In one case, the paralegal partnered with an agent in Taiwan in 2013 to bring in 180 applicants for jobs in Canada at a price of $5,500 each.
More than $1.1 million was deposited into the man’s account, which was not a trust account as required by the law society, according to the tribunal.
Immigration laws stipulate paralegals can only represent refugees for their asylum claims, and must register with the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council to offer other immigration-related services. Garcia was not a member of the group.
“The paralegal misappropriated over $1 million; relied on fraudulent documents; failed to serve his clients; practiced beyond the scope of his licence; acted in matters where there was, or was likely to be, a conflict of interests; and failed to co-operate with the (Law) Society’s investigations,” tribunal chair Lyle Kanee wrote in the tribunal’s 26-page decision.
“The paralegal appears to be on the run from the law. His whereabouts have been unknown since the summer of 2014 ... Nonetheless, it is important to the public’s confidence in the profession that we convey this tribunal’s condemnation for the paralegal’s reprehensible conduct by imposing the most severe sanction.”
According to the regulator, some of the victims have filed complaints with Toronto police, who have been unable to locate Garcia. Police fraud investigators did not immediately respond to the Star’s request for updates on the investigation.
In the Taiwanese case, the complainant, identified as Agent A by the tribunal, said she came to learn the employment contracts and approved labour market assessments provided by Garcia were fake when immigration officials rejected her clients en masse for misrepresentation and submitting bogus documentation.
Authorities also said their employment offers were fraudulent, and banned them from Canada for two years.
Complainant Client B paid Garcia $6,000 in 2013 to obtain a work permit for her fiancé who lived in Cuba and an additional $5,000 for “the final stages” of the work permit application, said the tribunal.
The paralegal said he would meet with the fiancé in Cuba for his medical checks and police clearance, but never showed up and his phone number was no longer in service. By the time the complainant attended the paralegal’s office on St. Clair Ave. W. in 2014, it had already been abandoned, said the tribunal.
The tribunal said there was no record of a work permit application being submitted to the Immigration Department for the woman’s fiancé.
In 2013 another complainant, Client H, paid Garcia $5,500 for a permanent residence application and provided him all of his original documents: work permits, study permits, employment contracts, school transcripts, English language exam, pictures, birth certificates and pay stubs.
The complainant emailed the paralegal repeatedly for updates on the application, with no response.
“Thank you so much for running away. Can I at least get my papers because I need my papers . . . the original documents,” Client H wrote to Garcia on WhatsApp after filing a complaint with the law society and Toronto police.
In response, the paralegal said he had been sick and working from home but promised he would give the client an update later. Client H never got his documents back.
Toronto immigration lawyer Sergio Karas, who is not involved in the case, said he was not surprised by the complaints but was shocked by the hefty fees the paralegal charged.
“The amount of fees he was charging was incredibly high, over and above what lawyers would charge for the same kind of work,” Karas said.
“This case really highlights the need for Ottawa to revisit the issue over who can practise immigration law in this country.”
Earlier this year, a government committee completed a study of the immigration consulting industry and recommended Ottawa take over the policing of the profession. The report is under review by Parliament.
In Garcia’s absence, the tribunal revoked the paralegal’s licence and ordered him to repay the law society compensation fund $33,680 and to pay costs of $15,555.
With Garcia missing, the tribunal acknowledged its decision “likely would have little impact on him.”
A leading neo-Nazi website is losing its internet domain host after its publisher posted an article mocking the woman who was killed in a deadly attack at a white nationalist rally in Virginia.
GoDaddy tweeted late Sunday night that it has given The Daily Stormer 24 hours to move its domain to another provider because the site has violated the Scottsdale, Arizona-based company’s terms of service.
GoDaddy spokesperson Dan Race said the move was prompted by a post on the site about Heather Heyer, who was killed Saturday when a man plowed his car into a group of demonstrators in Charlottesville. The post called her “fat” and “childless” and said “most people are glad she is dead, as she is the definition of uselessness.”
“Given their latest article comes on the immediate heels of a violent act, we believe this type of article could incite additional violence, which violates our terms of service,” Race said in an emailed statement.
Shortly after GoDaddy tweeted its decision, the site posted an article claiming it had been hacked and would be shut down. It wasn’t immediately clear if hackers had truly taken over The Daily Stormer or if that was just a prank post from a website known for its trolling tactics.
Andrew Anglin, the website’s publisher and author of Sunday’s post about Heyer, said he couldn’t immediately comment Monday on GoDaddy’s move.
“I don’t have time to talk, we’re trying to regain control of the site,” he said in an email to The Associated Press.
Auernheimer, known online as “weev,” said GoDaddy hadn’t contacted The Daily Stormer to explain its decision. He said the site has an alternate domain name that it can use if GoDaddy cancels its service.
“We’ll get it taken care of,” Auernheimer said. “If we need a new domain, we’ll get a new domain.”
GoDaddy isn’t The Daily Stormer’s host, which means the site’s content isn’t on the company’s servers, according to Race. “Only the domain is with GoDaddy,” Race added.
Anglin’s site takes its name from Der Stürmer, a newspaper that published Nazi propaganda. The site includes sections called “Jewish Problem” and “Race War.”
The Daily Stormer is infamous for orchestrating internet harassment campaigns carried out by its “Troll Army” of readers. Its targets have included prominent journalists, a Jewish woman who was running for a California congressional seat and Alex Jones, a radio host and conspiracy theorist whom Anglin derided as a “Zionist Millionaire.”
In April, a Montana woman sued Anglin after her family became the target of another Daily Stormer trolling campaign. Tanya Gersh’s suit claims anonymous internet trolls bombarded Gersh’s family with hateful and threatening messages after Anglin published their personal information in a post accusing her and other Jewish residents of Whitefish, Montana, of engaging in an “extortion racket” against the mother of white nationalist Richard Spencer
The Daily Stormer used a crowdfunding website, WeSearchr, to raise more than $152,000 in donations from nearly 2,000 contributors to help pay for Anglin’s legal expenses.
Other internet services have taken similar action against The Daily Stormer since Anglin founded it in 2013. In 2015, Anglin said PayPal had permanently banned him from using the service. And he complained in January that a Ukrainian advertising company had banned them, leaving an Australian electrician as the site’s only advertiser.
Drug charges against three men have been thrown out after a judge ruled that a Toronto police officer had been “deliberately misleading” in his testimony and notes in an attempt to “strengthen the case” against one of the accused.
Const. Bradley Trenouth “falsely attributed” a large piece of crack to Toronto man Jason Jaggernauth, Judge Katherine Corrick wrote in her Aug. 8 decision, staying the charges against Jaggernauth.
Because of Trenouth’s actions, Corrick excluded evidence gathered by him and other officers from the trial of Jaggernauth’s co-accused, leading the judge to find them not guilty in the same decision.
“The false attribution of evidence to an accused’s possession, and false testimony by a police officer constitute precisely the type of state misconduct that undermines the integrity of the judicial process,” Corrick wrote.
Jaggernauth, Jordan Davis and Jimal Nembrand-Walker were charged with possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking and possession of the proceeds of crime in 2014, after police found them in a Scarborough apartment that contained multiple types of drugs and drug paraphernalia.
Police officers found several grams of crack on Davis and crack, powdered cocaine and other drugs in Nembrand-Walker’s pockets at the time of the arrest, Corrick wrote in her decision.
Police did not find any drugs on Jaggernauth, Corrick said.
Trenouth testified in a pretrial hearing that he saw a large piece of crack fall from Jaggernauth when officers got Jaggernauth to stand up from his chair — testimony that was backed up by the notes Trenouth said he took at the time of Jaggernauth’s arrest, according to the judge’s decision.
But at the trial several months later, Trenouth told the court that he did not see the crack fall from Jaggernauth, Corrick wrote. Instead, Trenouth testified that he found the piece of crack on the floor near Jaggernauth and assumed it had fallen from him.
Corrick noted other discrepancies between Trenouth’s pretrial and trial testimonies in her decision.
At the preliminary hearing, Trenouth said he picked the large ball of crack off the floor after forensic officers had taken photos of the scene. But the photos taken do not include images of that specific piece of crack, Corrick wrote.
Trenouth told the court that might be because the piece of crack had been moved or stepped on before the photos were taken.
The large piece of crack was also missing from evidence photos taken by police about three hours later, in Trenouth’s presence, the judge said.
Trenouth’s story changed at trial, where he said there were no photos of the piece of crack because he had already picked it up and put it in his pocket before the photos were taken, Corrick wrote.
Corrick ruled on Aug. 8 that Trenouth did not find the crack near Jaggernauth, as the police officer had claimed.
“I have concluded that Officer Trenouth was deliberately misleading when he prepared his notes and testified at the preliminary hearing, in an effort to strengthen the case,” Corrick wrote.
It is unlikely that Trenouth, who has eight years of police experience, would pick up unwrapped drugs and put them in his pocket at a crime scene, Corrick said.
And if Trenouth had merely been mistaken in his pretrial testimony, he should have informed the Crown before the case went to trial, the judge added.
An investigation should be immediately opened into Trenouth’s conduct in the case, Jaggernauth’s lawyer Chris O’Connor said in an interview.
“The bottom line is . . . an officer falsely attributed an exhibit to my client that never was on my client,” O’Connor said.
Toronto police spokesperson Meaghan Gray said she “can’t say whether (Trenouth) will face any discipline.” All disciplinary matters are confidential until the officer in question has appeared before a police services tribunal, Gray added.
“Generally speaking an investigation into allegations of an officer providing false evidence in court could lead to criminal charges (such as) perjury or (internal) discipline under the Police Services Act,” Gray said.
Corrick was scathing in her decision about the effects of Trenouth’s false testimony.
“It is difficult to imagine how public confidence can be maintained in the rule of law when police officers present false evidence against accused persons,” Corrick wrote. “Our justice system cannot function unless courts can rely on the willingness of witnesses to . . . tell the truth.”
OTTAWA—On the eve of trade talks with the United States and Mexico, Canada is pushing back at U.S. President Donald Trump’s claim the North American free trade agreement is a disaster.
Instead Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland touted the benefits of the NAFTA, saying the 23-year-old trade pact has been an “extraordinary success” to all three economies.
Freeland used a Monday morning speech and parliamentary committee appearance to lay out the broad strokes of Canada’s objectives going into negotiations for a new North American Free Trade Agreement, and to emphasize Canada goes into the talks with a strong hand.
“The electricity in Trump Tower comes from Quebec,” said Freeland, asked how provinces will be involved in the talks. “So our American colleagues must always remember the importance of our economic ties.
Freeland said “Team Canada” goes into negotiations that formally begin Wednesday in Washington with six overriding priorities for a revised NAFTA. The aim is to:
Freeland gave a strong defence of the need for free trade and a modernized agreement, but delivered a strong warning that, unless deliberate steps are taken to spread the economic wealth of improved trade, divisions will grow in Canadian society.
“There are too many communities in our prosperous nation where people do not feel prosperous, where they instead feel left behind by an economy that is increasingly divided between the wealthy one per cent at the very top, and everyone else,” said Freeland, according to a prepared text of her remarks.
“If we don’t act now, Canadians may lose faith in the open society, in immigration and in free trade, just as many have across the Western industrialized world,” Freeland told an audience at the University of Ottawa.
“This is the single biggest economic and social challenge we face. Addressing this problem is our government’s overriding mission,” she said.
In sketching out Ottawa’s objectives, she said that the 23-year-old trade agreement needs to be modernized to address the changes in e-commerce and the digital economy.
She said it must be “progressive” through safeguards for labour, enhanced provisions for the environment, a chapter on gender rights and improved relations with Indigenous peoples. She did not provide detail on just what those chapters or protections would look like, except to restate that Canada will be committed to the fight against climate change and ensure that is in the new agreement.
Freeland said Canada will seek to improve the investor-state dispute settlement in Chapter 11 of the deal, which has long been criticized for allowing foreign companies to undermine elements of government policy.
She said a sovereign and democratically elected government must have an “unassailable right” to regulate in the public interest.
Canada pushed for such protections in the Canada-European Union free trade deal, and will use that as a model in this renegotiation.
The U.S. has not put Chapter 11 on the table. Instead, Washington is taking aim at Chapter 19, the state-to-state dispute resolution process, where successive U.S. administrations have filed and lost complaints against Canadian softwood lumber.
Freeland said Canada will seek to preserve elements of the current deal that it sees as “key,” including the country’s system of supply management for certain agricultural products, such as dairy, and a process to ensure anti-dumping and countervailing duties are applied fairly.
“But we are committed to a good deal, not just any deal. That will be our bottom line,” Freeland said.
Freeland took aim at one argument that has hung over these trade talks: the concern that NAFTA has cost Canada and the United States well-paying manufacturing jobs that have gone to Mexico.
She warned against what she called “scapegoating the ‘other.’ ”
“Although economic globalization has put pressure on some of our jobs, automation and digitization have been far greater factors,” she said, adding that even more technological changes lie ahead.
While such innovations are innovations are “broadly positive,” it can only happen if the “gains of trade are fairly, broadly shared. She cited lower taxes for the middle class, investments in education and training and the Liberals’ child benefit, by way of example.
“This is the all-important, connecting piece, the tie between free trade and equitable domestic policy,” she said.
She said that free trade has not always been accepted as a good thing, noting the opposition that surrounded the original Canada-U.S. free trade deal in the late 1980s.
“Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, to give credit where due, staked his prime ministership on getting free trade passed. And he was right,” Freeland said.
“Two decades on, in our country, that debate is settled because the results are plain,” she said.
Since 1994, when NAFTA took effect, trade among the three nations has tripled, creating a $19-trillion regional market, said Freeland, who added that Canada’s economy is “2.5 per cent larger every year than it otherwise would be, thanks to NAFTA. It is as if Canada has been receiving a $20-billion cheque each year since NAFTA was ratified.”
“Thanks to NAFTA, the North American economy is highly integrated, making our competitive in the global marketplace and creating more jobs on our continent,” she said.
Freeland spoke to an audience of 80, including senior Global Affairs officials, invited stakeholders, and students and faculty at the University of Ottawa’s Centre for International Policy Studies.
Among those in the audience was Derek Burney, a former ambassador to Washington, who warned, last week, that Canada could be in for a bumpy ride in the negotiations due to the political rhetoric of President Donald Trump. Burney advised the government to keep in mind that “no deal is preferable to a bad deal,” and to be prepared to know “when and how to say no.”
Burney said afterward Freeland’s speech and her tone were “right on,” but he warned the big unknown in the talks now is Trump.
“I don’t think there’s going to be disagreement about modernizing NAFTA. The issue for me is, what’s the price of victory for Donald Trump?”
In the first negotiations for the Canada-US negotiations, and, later, NAFTA, there was political consensus at the time among country leaders. Now, he said it is not at all clear the U.S. leader wants a deal among all three.
In her appearances Monday, Freeland stressed that Global Affairs began laying the groundwork for the coming talks a year ago, when NAFTA become a hot topic in the U.S. election, not just after Trump got elected.
Since then, Canada has mounted a “full-court press to preserve everything good about NAFTA for Canada, and also to find what elements of the deal can be improved,” Freeland said.
Toronto police are asking for the public’s help in identifying a woman pulled out of Lake Ontario in Etobicoke last week.
Police say they responded to a call for an unknown trouble on Aug. 10 at 5:15 p.m. in the area of Humber Bay Shores Park.
Paramedics say the woman was without vital signs when she was extracted from the water. She was later pronounced dead on the scene.
Toronto police Const. Craig Brister said police are not considering her death suspicious.
The woman is described as white between the ages of 55 to 70 years old, 5 foot 4 to 5 foot 6, 135 to 150 lbs., short grey hair, and brown eyes.
Police say she was wearing a red tank top and navy blue pants.
Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-2200, Crime Stoppers.
Police are also investigating after a man’s body was pulled from the water near the Argonaut Rowing Club on last Friday.