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    Why did the turtle cross the road? Because you helped wheelbarrow it there.

    The ambling animals aren’t known for looking both ways; cars are one of the biggest killers of Ontario’s turtles, which are often spotted along the province’s roadways.

    With seven of Ontario’s eight turtle species at risk, the Nature Conservancy of Canada is trying to teach people how to help the slow-moving critters if they see one on the road.

    Remember wheelbarrow races? The childhood game is an effective way to get feisty snapping turtles across the street.

    As their name suggests, snapping turtles tend to reach their necks around and snap their jaw as a defence mechanism.

    Avoid a biting mouth by grabbing the two “handles” at the back of a snapping turtle’s shell, tipping it up onto its front legs, and “wheelbarrowing” it across the road, said Kristyn Ferguson, a program director with Nature Conservancy Canada.

    “You’re essentially helping it walk to safety,” she said, demonstrating with Junior, a large snapping turtle at Scales Nature Park.

    Ferguson is trying to encourage people to pull over and help turtles across the street, and Nature Conservancy Canada is producing an educational video and blog posts on the topic.

    “Even just saving that one turtle can make a huge impact on the population in general,” she said.

    Painted turtles are another common species you’ll see on Ontario roads. These smaller turtles usually hide their heads in their shells, so the trick is simply to pick it up “like a hamburger” and carry it across, said Ferguson, noting that they have yellow stripes on their face and orange-red patterns on their shell. You should place the turtle down gently and move away, she said.

    And don’t try to turn turtles around!

    “Even if it makes no sense to us, they’re going where they’re going for a reason,” said Sue Carstairs, executive and medical director of the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre.

    Drivers should look out for things that resemble rocks and potholes, she said, especially around water and wetlands.

    The peak time for turtle crossings is June, when females are finding places to lay their eggs, said Carstairs, but males are out all season.

    Ferguson said human safety has to be paramount when people are helping turtles. Last year, a woman was hit by a car and seriously injured after stopping to help a turtle near Peterborough.

    “We aren’t encouraging people to get out along busy 400 series highways or put their own lives at risk,” said Ferguson. “Assess the situation: how busy is the road? Do you have a safe route to get the turtle across?”

    Helping a turtle across the road can have huge benefits to the turtle population, as the animals take a long time to reach maturity and are slow to reproduce.

    “If even a few get hit by cars, it could double or triple the death rate, or more,” said Jeff Hathaway, founder of Scales Nature Park, which has a focuses on turtle conservation.

    “Extend that over 40 or 50 years . . . and the population declines tremendously.”

    It’s been a particularly active summer for Ontario’s turtles, who have been out “en masse” this year, said Carstairs.

    This summer’s weather has been ideal for turtle travels, she said, and there’s been a “huge spike” in injured critters at the conservation centre hospital

    It’s already taken in roughly 800 turtles so far this year, double the numbers from 2016.

    “We’ve seen more already this year than we’ve ever seen in an entire year altogether,” said Carstairs.

    While she’s glad more people are taking turtles to the centre, Carstairs said that also means more turtles are likely dying in car accidents.

    She said the most effective way to save turtles is installing passages under the roads so the animals can safely cross.

    Painted turtles are currently the only turtle species in Ontario that are not listed as “at risk” in Ontario, however survey studies are now being conducted on the species, said Carstairs. She said habitat loss is likely the top cause of turtle decline.

    “Their way of living has worked for almost 200 million years just fine . . . but as soon as we came along, we sort of tipped that balance,” she said.

    “If everybody in the province helped one turtle across the road, that’s saving a lot of turtles.”

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    CHICAGO—Canadian hockey commentator Don Cherry showcased his vocal skills Saturday during the Toronto Blue Jays game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.

    Cherry, wearing a white suit covered in a red cherry pattern, led the seventh inning stretch by singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” into a microphone from the broadcast booth.

    The 83-year-old from Kingston, Ont., added his own twist to the iconic song, replacing the end of the line “root, root, root for the home team” with “the best team.”

    Toronto lost the game 4-3.

    The Cubs have had NHLers singing in the broadcast booth before. Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks sang “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” together last October.

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    CARBONDALE, ILL.—The warning signs hang above hundreds of kilometres of highway, flashing the same message from Illinois to Tennessee: “SOLAR ECLIPSE. AUGUST 21. PLAN AHEAD.”

    On Monday, the moon will pass in front of the sun and cast a shadow over a 112-kilometre-wide cross-section of the continent known as the “path of totality.” It will be the country’s first total solar eclipse in nearly 40 years, and an estimated 12 million people are expected to witness it. That estimate may well be low.

    A good chunk of those people will watch from somewhere along Interstate 24. It’s a smooth, straight highway that cuts across the American heartland, passing cornfields, churches, Chik-fil-As and dozens of billboards bearing stern instructions not to leave your car to look at the sun.

    This is the road to totality. And already, eclipse chasers are congregating here, ready for the moon’s shadow to fall on them.

    Read more:

    Where to watch the eclipse in the Toronto area

    Eclipse is just the latest stop in a star-studded journey

    Rose Gilbert arrived days ago. It took the Columbia, Md., resident 11 hours to drive herself, her husband, three of their daughters and Gilbert’s octogenarian parents to Nashville, where they’ve rented a house with a view of a lake and a wide open stretch of sky.

    “Suppose it’s cloudy?” asks her father, Carl Landi. He’s been skeptical about this whole endeavour since she first proposed it more than a year ago. (“Had it been up to me, I probably wouldn’t be here,” he confides privately.)

    “Then we’ll get in the car and drive,” Rose replies, not missing a beat.

    She and her husband, John, wouldn’t call themselves astronomy buffs. She’s a nurse, he’s a physician assistant. They don’t own telescopes or plan their vacations around celestial events.

    But an eclipse is different, Rose says.

    “It’s two whole minutes of the sun being blocked.”

    “That’s a once in a lifetime experience for most people,” John says.

    “It’s a no-brainer,” Rose responds.

    So here they are, the whole family. Their cameras are outfitted with solar filters. Their eclipse glasses are NASA-certified — Rose double checked. Even Carl is grudgingly looking forward to the event. T-minus three days and ready to go.

    Signs of the coming spectacle are evident to those who look. There’s an unusual abundance of out-of-state plates in Midwestern towns that rarely get tourists. Restaurants have announced economically awkward Monday afternoon closings between noon and 3 p.m. The billboard outside the Park Avenue Baptist Church in Paducah, Ky., asks: “We live on a planet that circles the sun and you don’t believe in miracles?”

    Locals compare the eclipse mania to a fever. It started almost imperceptibly — a date on the calendar, a one-minute preview on the nightly news. Then came the special sections of the newspaper, the cartons full of cardboard solar glasses in every storefront and posters of the sun in every window. The obsession grew and grew. Now, the whole region is half delirious.

    “I’ve heard some pretty apocalyptic sounding things,” said Melanie Cochran, of Nashville. “Cellphones dying. Power lines overloaded. They say you should get all your grocery shopping done now, in case the stores run out of food.”

    “Pfft,” Demeka Fritts, also of Nashville, lets out an exasperated breath. “Every newscast is eclipse and politics.”

    Don’t be fooled by her tone. Fritts long ago made plans to watch the event from her sister’s rooftop. It’s been a while since she spent time gazing at the sky. The 38-year-old used to love looking at the stars, but now her job keeps her busy and the lights in Nashville are too bright to see much. On Monday, she’ll stop and look up again. The whole country will.

    “It’s kind of cool,” she says.

    Businesses are closing for the big event. Schools are sending their students home early — or asking them not to come in at all.

    Shelley and John Henry Wells, of San Francisco, were supposed to be at an artist’s conference in the Smoky Mountains next week. A few months ago, they found out that the organizers had cancelled all of Monday’s events; instead, attendees will be given a bagged lunch and a seat on a bus to a viewing location near Hendersonville, N.C.

    Meanwhile, anyone who can turn the eclipse into a marketing opportunity has done so. The Warby Parker hipster eyewear chain is handing out branded solar glasses. A billboard for Harrah’s Casino in Metropolis promises a $100,000 (U.S.) eclipse giveaway.

    At the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, curators have pulled out of storage an award-winning 1989 work called “Corona II” — a fabric and thread depiction of the sun’s outer atmosphere as seen during an eclipse. On Friday, at least two dozen visitors came into the museum specifically to see it.

    “It’s just magical,” said Laura Hendrickson, the museum’s registrar, her gaze tracing the quilt’s stunning, swirling design. “That’s the only way to describe it.”

    That this quilt happens to hang within the path of totality seems a stunning cosmic coincidence. (Then again, the path of totality also encompasses “Carhenge.”)

    Hendrickson confessed that she harbours a secret hope that something special will happen during Monday’s event. She’s a “megafan” of the TV show Heroes, in which characters gain superpowers from watching a total solar eclipse.

    “The nerd in me is like, ‘what if the eclipse happens and someone can fly?’” Hendrickson laughed.

    “I’ll be right here,” she said of her plans for the eclipse. Watching through solar glasses decorated with an image of “Corona II.” Waiting for something magical to occur.

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    John Vyge’s story didn’t start much differently than many others. It finished with history though.

    In the fall of 1989, after graduating from the University of Toronto, he left his rickshaw company behind to be “just your typical Canadian backpacker.”

    Vyge’s parents were Dutch but they settled in Stratford, Ont., and he wanted to visit family in Amsterdam.

    He didn’t know when he left that he’d end up at the top of the Berlin Wall, tearing it down, setting up a shop to sell pieces and working with anti-Communist resistance leader and Checkpoint Charlie Museum founder Rainer Hildebrandt to distribute the largest chunks to museums around the world.

    After stops in Morocco, France, Switzerland and England, he was in Nerja, Spain when he heard rumoursthat the wall would come down that fall and decided to set out for Berlin, with little money left in his budget.

    His story now lives on in the Checkpoint Charlie Museum, telling the tale of John “Vyges” (his surname is spelled wrong on the display) of Toronto, falling in love and tearing down the wall with Suzanne Dykes of Melbourne, Australia.

    It is only partially true.

    The 23-year-old Vyge and 22-year-old Dykes did meet at the wall, tore pieces of it down to sell to tourists and worked with Hildebrandt to preserve the biggest chunks.

    But while they grew close, their young love didn’t last past their travels.

    Before Vyge met Dykes, he arrived at the wall alone and in disbelief.

    At the time, East Berlin border guards still walked along the wall. To pass, he had to travel through Checkpoint Charlie, purchase a set amount of East German currency (exchange rates were so bad that it was mandatory in order to limit the growing black market), and be interrogated in a room full of tables “like going into old Russia.”

    Vyge describes East Berlin as “very, very empty” and East Germans as “uncertain about what was about to happen to them.”

    He arrived in October and didn’t plan on staying long.

    That quickly changed. Vyge said he realized by the “sheer activity” that he was about to be among the first at the scene of history — the wall was coming down, which it eventually did a few weeks later on Nov. 9, 1989.

    “Because I didn’t have a hammer and a chisel, I had to convince two German tourists who had blood on their hands because they didn’t know what they were doing to explain if they gave me their chisel and hammer I would get them some pieces of the wall,” he said, pausing.

    “That’s where it began.”

    After meeting Dykes and her brother Peter at a youth hostel, his trip turned into a month-long stay.

    With enough room for border guards to pass behind them, they started a makeshift store at the wall to finance the costs of hostels and replacing frequently-broken tools.

    Early on, Dykes and Vyge would buy western goods for the East German guards and hand Cokes, Pepsis and filtered cigarettes (which the guards didn’t know existed) through the wall.

    “I just remember saying ‘John, we need to give these people stuff,’ ” Dykes said.

    As time passed, the guards grew more relaxed. Dykes still has chunks of the wall, medals and hats the guards would pass back through (or over) to show their thanks.

    “It was beautiful watching them smoke a filtered cigarette,” she said, laughing. “I know that sounds weird but they were so grateful.”

    It was a visit with East Berlin relatives of an Australian friend that Dykes said was her biggest “eye-opener.”

    The family, which was well off, used stacks of exposed searing red irons to stay warm — like radiators without casing — in their “barren house.” The kids’ play area was down the street at the dump. And the censorship tales were true. The books at the local library had words cut out of their pages, Dykes said.

    “It just broke my heart to think that they were so controlled,” Dykes said. “I’m glad I was there to see peoples’ faces but gee, I felt sad when I saw how they lived.”

    She remembers going to a rooftop restaurant for Communist elites in East Berlin and thinking, “Oh my God, you can see everything; you can see exactly how western people live.”

    “It was two different worlds and the whole time they could see over and see what was going on,” she said.

    Eventually Hildebrandt, 75 at the time, approached Vyge and Dykes to ask in broken English if they’d consider giving the bigger pieces of the wall to him for preservation and redistribution because he couldn’t get them himself.

    “There was a lot of chaos trying to figure out how to continue getting pieces and then other people started catching on,” Vyge recalled. “People were doing crazy things.”

    As word spread, an ambulance was stationed by the wall to accommodate all the people injuring themselves trying to climb it — Vyge once carried an East German there after he fell and broke his ankle.

    When the money ran out and the wall was gone, the trio went their separate ways.

    Years later, Vyge’s father (also John) got a call at his home in Stratford.

    It was Suzanne Dykes. She was looking for her old friend.

    Ever since, Vyge and the Dykes have kept in touch.

    Vyge began dating his wife Sandy shortly after his trip to Europe, and they’ve moved to Virginia with their two daughters to run an investment firm.

    Suzanne and her husband Jeff Baylow, a Canadian from Vancouver, live in Australia with two daughters of their own.

    Peter is now a successful entrepreneur and professional poker player.

    They regularly visit each other in Canada, the United States and Australia, their photos and pieces of the wall enshrined in Berlin and elsewhere.

    Vyge and his wife have since visited the Checkpoint Charlie Museum together. She laughs about Vyge’s exhibit standing next to Ronald Reagan’s. They joke about his exaggerated love story, which Hildebrandt — who Dykes said was a lovely, charismatic man — created.

    “She jumped in my arms like the typical wedding photo and I thought it was funny because we were all having a pretty good time and then I found out that they turned it into a love story,” Vyge said, remembering one of the exhibits’ photos, drawn from a 1989 newspaper story about the pair’s work with Hildebrandt.

    “There was no love story really. There was a friendship.”

    Dykes admitted that she “really liked” Vyge.

    “I remember thinking ‘what a gorgeous guy’ and we just hit it off, we were good mates,” Dykes said, laughing. “(Hildebrandt) must have taken a shining to us. He’d say ‘oh, you guys would make a lovely couple’ all the time and ‘oh, it’s a beautiful love story’ and he was just a bit of a romantic I think.”

    Every so often, Vyge will hear about the exhibit from people who visit Berlin.

    When Dykes worked as a flight attendant for British Airways in her 30s, travellers from Berlin twice told her she looked familiar.

    They both say Berlin changed them.

    “I look back now and I go ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe it.’ We were crazy. Crazy!,” Dykes said, laughing. “It really does resonate with you when you’re young and you just think ‘gosh, they were just trying to have freedom.’ ”

    “I ended up with this wonderful story of meeting these people, with this whole newfound spirit for life,” Vyge finished. “You have to really realize the freedom we have to do whatever we want here whereas in East Berlin people had no freedom.”

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    MONTREAL—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canadians should maintain confidence in the immigration system even as thousands of asylum seekers continue to pour into the country.

    Speaking to reporters Sunday, Trudeau said that none of those walking across the United States border would receive any special advantages in their quest to come to Canada, stressing to Canadians and would-be refugees alike that border hoppers must go through the usual security checks and immigration evaluations.

    Federal authorities say that through the first two weeks of August, more than 3,800 people walked over the border into Quebec, compared to the 2,996 who similarly crossed the border throughout all of July.

    Haitian nationals form the bulk of recent arrivals, believed driven by a change in U.S. policy that many fear would result in mass deportations. Canada lifted the temporary restriction on deporting Haitians last year, set up in the wake of the 2010 earthquake, and many were sent back to the island nation, Trudeau said.

    “We are ensuring that our border services, that the RCMP, civil society that support groups at different levels of government are all working together to ensure that Canadians can be confident in the integrity of our borders, in the strength and rigour of our immigration system,” Trudeau said.

    “That continues to be why Canadians are positive towards immigration, positive towards diversity, because they know that we always apply the rules and the laws that make Canada proud and strong.”

    But when asked if the unprecedented number of border crossers was stoking anti-immigrant sentiments in the country, Trudeau condemned the “intolerant, racist demonstrations” that have been planned in recent days.

    “The small minority, angry, frustrated group of racists don’t get to define who we are as a country, don’t get to tell others who we are and don’t get to change the nature of the open, accepting values that make us who we are,” Trudeau said.

    “I am proud to be Canadian. I am proud to be a Quebecer and I am proud to stand with millions of Canadians who reject the hateful, harmful, heinous ideologies that we’ve seen in dark corners of both the internet and our communities from time to time.”

    Trudeau’s comments came hours before planned rallies in Quebec City involving anti-immigration and pro-diversity protesters that had the province’s premier voicing concerns about the possibility of things getting out of hand.

    Right-wing group La Meute said it was planning a rally in a yet-to-be determined location in Quebec City against the flow of illegal entries into the province from the United States. An anti-fascist group plans to hold a counter-protest.

    The call for a counter-protest comes after at least two Quebecers were identified participating in a white supremacist rally last week in Charlottesville, Va., that ended in violence and the death of a 32-year-old woman. La Meute suspended one of the two men from the group’s activities with a spokesperson saying the La Meute dissociates itself from white supremacist and racist groups.

    Thousands of people demonstrated Saturday in front of Vancouver’s city hall as part of an anti-racism rally after reports earlier in the week that an anti-Muslim protest was planned, although it didn’t materialize.

    Trudeau also expressed condolences to the families of Canadians killed in terror attacks this past week in Burkina Faso and Barcelona. He called the attacks “despicable” and attempts to pit neighbour against neighbour.

    “These cowards will not win. We will continue to do as we have done, standing united and stronger in the face of hatred. We will be emboldened in our values, values of love, acceptance and strength through diversity. My friends, in the wake of terror, let us never lose sight of who we are.”

    Read more: Montrealers rally outside Olympic Stadium to welcome asylum seekers from U.S.

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    A Twitter post from the account of Jason Kessler, the far-right activist who organized the Charlottesville, Va., “Unite the Right” rally, insulted the protester who was killed at the event, saying late Friday night that her death was “payback time.”

    Heather Heyer was a fat, disgusting Communist,” the post said. “Communists have killed 94 million. Looks like it was payback time.”

    The post linked to a story on neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer that also insulted Heyer in crude terms and appeared to take glee in her death.

    Kessler did not respond to messages seeking comment.

    Police say Heyer was killed when a rally attendee, James A. Fields, drove his sports car into a crowd of counterprotesters at the event Aug. 12, which drew white nationalists, neo-Nazis and other far-right figures from around the nation.

    Fields has been charged with her murder. Kessler had blamed city officials for not providing sufficient security for the rally, which was organized to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a Charlottesville park.

    Kessler’s Twitter post sparked denunciations from other far-right rally attendees, who quickly distanced themselves from him, accelerating a spiral of recriminations that have been brewing among far-right leaders over who was to blame for the chaos behind last weekend’s violent “Unite the Right” rally.

    On Saturday morning, the post had been deleted from Kessler’s account, which initially claimed he’d been hacked, but then backtracked and said he’d been on a mixture of drugs.

    “I repudiate the heinous tweet that was sent from my account last night. I’ve been under a crushing amount of stress & death threats,” the post said. “I’m taking ambien, xanax and I had been drinking last night. I sometimes wake up having done strange things I can’t remember.”

    Kessler’s posts then were switched to “private” mode before his account was deleted entirely.

    “I will no longer associate w/ Jason Kessler; no one should,” Richard Spencer, a white nationalist who was scheduled to speak at Kessler’s event, said on Twitter. “Heyer’s death was deeply saddening. ‘Payback’ is a morally reprehensible idea.”

    Another far-right figure who attended the event, Tim Gionet, who goes by the name Baked Alaska, also criticized the remarks.

    “This is terribly wrong and vile,” Gionet posted. “We should not rejoice at the people who died in Charlottesville just because we disagree with them.”

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    The owner of Snakes and Lattes doesn’t play games when discussing the coming minimum wage hike in Ontario.

    “A living wage should be guaranteed for everyone, especially in Toronto, which is a very expensive place to live,” says Ben Castanie, owner of three popular board game cafés in the city.

    Unlike many in the food service industry, the entrepreneur thinks the increase is a win-win for workers and the economy, since more people will have more money in their pockets to spend.

    Castanie already pays his 80 service staff between $12.50 and $14.50 an hour, far above the current legal minimum of $9.90 an hour for those who serve liquor — mainly bartenders and wait staff who make most of their income from tips.

    “We will all just have to adapt,” he says.

    However, the overall business community is growing anxious and has started to make some noise lately over the hikes, which the province outlined as part of sweeping labour reforms last May. The increase includes a boost from $11.40 an hour to $11.60 in October, then to $14 on Jan. 1 and to $15 the following year.

    The issue was on the front burner during the recent second-quarter earnings season, during which Loblaw CEO Galen Weston bemoaned the “aggressive” raises on a conference call with analysts. He estimated that company expenses will balloon by $190 million at Canada’s largest grocery chain, and warned of coming cost cuts to accommodate the mandated increase.

    Similarly, Metro Inc.’s chief executive Eric La Fleche said Tuesday that grocers are under the gun with little time to adjust to the added expense of what amounts to a 32 per cent wage increase for most of its employees in under 18 months.

    Discount retailer Dollarama Inc. also said that it won’t rule out raising prices if labour costs continue to climb, while Magna International has warned that higher costs could affect its business investments in Ontario.

    But Premier Kathleen Wynne paints a rosier picture; saying that giving more than a quarter of employees in the province a pay increase means more workers will benefit from Ontario’s economic growth; the province has outperformed all G7 countries over the past three years.

    At the announcement of the increase, she said that new technology, a shrinking manufacturing sector and fewer union jobs have left about one-third of Ontario’s 6.6 million workers vulnerable at a time when people are working longer hours and doing more precarious, low-paying work to make ends meet.

    The $15 hourly wage will match the upcoming increase in Alberta, scheduled to go into effect in October of next year. Ontario’s labour overhaul also ensures equal pay for part-time workers and an increase to the minimum vacation entitlement.

    “It’s a fairly steep increase over a brief period of time,” says Pedro Antunes, deputy chief economist at the Conference Board of Canada He also points out that the move is “politically favourable” since the timing coincides with next year’s Ontario election.

    Lou Russo, director of operations for the Shoeless Joe’s chain of sports bars, says the timing is particularly brutal for the restaurant industry, which just went through an expensive menu overhaul to include calorie counts on menus — also mandated by the provincial government — last January.

    “The wage increase is posing a big risk to our industry. Restaurant owners will be forced to cut costs and to pass (the added expense) along to our guests,” he says.

    Russo agrees that workers deserve a fair wage, but says that increases should be based on performance rather than legislation. He adds the company is looking at everything from technology to utility savings to new deals with suppliers to avoid making customers pay more in the end for their popular wings and alcohol.

    “It’s a complicated issue,” says Larry Isaacs, spokesman for The Firkin Group of Pubs. “You want the working population to earn a fair wage, however businesses need to make a profit. At the same time you don’t want to upset customers by increasing prices — a conundrum to say the least,” he says.

    The restaurant industry generates $32 billion a year and employs more than 470,000 people in the province.

    Facing industry backlash, Wynne hinted last month at providing some relief for both small businesses and restaurateurs this fall, but so far has not provided specifics.

    A coalition of business groups opposed to the changes released a report on Monday that warned the wage hike will cost the average household $1,300 a year and put 185,000 jobs at risk. Industry association Restaurants Canada recently released a survey of its members that found 95 per cent of owners believe the wage hike will hurt them. It found 98 per cent will raise menu prices and 81 per cent will lay off staff, while more than one-quarter would close one or more locations.

    The province says half of the workers in Ontario who earn less than $15 per hour are between the ages of 25 and 64, and the majority are women.

    Dave Bryans, CEO of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association, also notes the increase will “undoubtedly mean fewer retail jobs, particularly for students and other part-time workers,” and that owners are already burdened with high hydro prices.

    However, an open letter from about 40 economists, mostly from Canadian universities, says such talk is “fear-mongering” that is out of line with the latest economic research.

    “While Canada escaped the harshest impacts of the 2007-08 financial crisis, our country has also seen a slowdown in growth. We risk further stagnation without reinvigorated economic motors. As those with lower incomes spend more of what they earn than do those with higher incomes, raising the minimum wage could play a role in economic revival,” it says.

    As for Castanie, he admits it will be an adjustment, but one that betters society as a whole.

    “I grew up in Europe where the minimum wage is higher, as it should be,” he says.

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    Police are probing whether a dissolving business partnership involving the London, Ont., Hells Angels is behind two failed murder attempts in the GTA this month.

    The latest shooting took place on Wednesday outside a coffee shop at Sherway Gardens near The West Mall and Evans Ave. around 7:30 p.m.

    The shootings are the latest in a string of more than a dozen unsolved violent incidents this year in southern Ontario, including killings, explosions and arson.

    Organized crime experts say the GTA is undergoing a power struggle that pits established criminals against younger, up-and-coming ones — often from outside the province.

    They’re fighting for control of drug networks and online gambling dollars, experts say, adding they don’t expect the fighting to end anytime soon.

    Read more:

    Organized crime’s interest in the illegal pot business is going up in smoke

    Back to the future: Satan’s Choice biker club reappears on Ontario roads

    On the organized crime front, several shots were fired in the Wednesday attack that left Mark Peretz of London seriously injured.

    A second male victim also suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

    The suspects, who were wearing black masks and all-black clothing, fled in a black SUV. The vehicle was later located — burned and abandoned — in Mississauga near Hurontario St. and Queen Elizabeth Way, police said.

    Peretz is one of four men who served prison time for a botched Mob hit in 2004 that left an innocent mother-of-three paralyzed from the waist down.

    In the other attack, a 35-year-old London man was shot Aug. 4 after he was approached by three men outside a Sunset Grill breakfast restaurant in an Oakville shopping plaza at Cornwall and Trafalgar Rds. around 9:30 a.m.

    One male suspect was arrested after fleeing on foot, and two other males are still being sought by police after fleeing in a black pickup truck.

    A police source said a dissolving business partnership involving the London Hells Angels and online gambling has contributed to recent underworld tensions.

    Peretz was sentenced to nine years in prison in April 2006 for his role in a drive-by shooting attack at a California Sandwich shop on Chesswood Dr. in Etobicoke on April 21, 2004 that left bystander Louise Russo paralyzed from the waist down.

    Court heard that Peretz was the driver of a stolen van in the shooting and that the motive was an outstanding $240,000 online gambling debt owed to him.

    Peretz took part in a controversial plea bargain that provided Russo with $2 million in restitution, along with Peter Scarcella of York Region, described by Corrections Canada as a Mob figure; Paris Christoforou, who was then sergeant-at-arms for the London Hells Angels; and gunman Antonio Borrelli.

    Peretz, Scarcella and Christoforou each were sentenced to nine years in prison while Borrelli received a 10-year term.

    Court heard that the target of the botched murder attempt in 2004 was Michele Modica, who was in the restaurant at the time of the shooting but was not injured.

    Court heard that Modica entered Canada on a forged passport and, with an associate, ran up online gambling debts of about $240,000 owed to Peretz.

    Court heard that Christoforou was Peretz’s partner and head of collections.

    Their associate, Raffaele Delle Donne, later became a police agent. He is quoted in the agreed statement of facts on the case as saying that Peretz and Christoforou met with Modica shortly before the shooting and left no doubt they expected payment in full.

    “I didn’t see it but I heard that uh, Mark (Peretz) . . . and uh, his bodyguard (Christoforou) I guess . . . kicked (Modica) in the face and put a . . . gun in his mouth,” Delle Donne is reported as saying.

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    WASHINGTON—If Donald Trump deploys the big bomb during upcoming NAFTA negotiations, and threatens to blow up the continental trade agreement, a unit within the office of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be assigned to try disarming it.

    The Canadian government has created an election-style nerve centre to handle White House-related challenges and officials who describe its operations say it has about eight regular staff: two former trade officials, two senior PMO officials, an ambassador, a writer, a cabinet minister, and it’s run by a young staffer with a reputation for staying cool while smothering political fires.

    The most blistering inferno it’s preparing to confront is a scenario where the president threatens NAFTA. Everybody involved anticipates the threat level from Trump will rise with the heat of negotiations.

    A well-connected Washington lobbyist milling about last week’s talks said a Trump pullout threat is virtually assured: “Almost 100 per cent.” Trade lawyer Dan Ujczo said it’s a logical play for the president: “The threat of withdrawal is his key negotiating leverage.”

    However one former U.S. trade official says the president has shown himself too eager to play his best card. He said the president has weakened his hand with an April tactical error, when he threatened to blow up NAFTA four months before negotiations started.

    Read more:

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    Robert Holleyman said Canada and Mexico got a valuable heads up on what would happen next: the business community panicked, lawmakers were miffed and Washington made clear it preferred saving NAFTA.

    “It was, at a minimum, terrible timing,” said Holleyman, Barack Obama’s deputy United States Trade Representative.

    “You do that at the 11th hour in the negotiation — not at the throat-clearing stage ... I suspect President Trump will be unable to play that card again. And if he does play it, it won’t be as strong as it would’ve been ... the Canadians and Mexicans will say, ‘you ... will face a huge backlash in your own Congress.’”

    Congress definitely holds some power: it could refuse to cancel the law implementing NAFTA, which would set up court fights between the various parties including the president, industries and possibly lawmakers.

    It’s the job of that Ottawa unit to prevent that messy scenario.

    The Canada-U.S. unit resembles, in several ways, a campaign war room — though its members hate that term. It gathers data on key constituencies — for instance, it collects American politicians’ opinions on issues and plugs them into a database.

    It plans outreach efforts. It co-ordinates rapid response.

    All the relationship-building in recent months involving ministers criss-crossing the U.S. for hundreds of meetings would be deployed in the event of a crisis. For example: Should Trump try ending NAFTA, instructions might quickly go out to Canadian minister X to call U.S. state governor Y to lobby friendly Washington official Z.

    That order would come from the centre.

    The idea for a dedicated unit came before Trump’s inauguration, from PMO officials Gerald Butts and Katie Telford, longtime Ontario provincial political officials who had used the approach before on top issues.

    “This is the unit that spends 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, thinking about this — trying to anticipate every possibility,” said one official.

    “The U.S. file is ... so superhot that you can take the slightest thing and turn it into a huge story that’s in every newspaper in North America. It’s really important to have the right person (handling it).”

    Enter Brian Clow.

    He was chief of staff to Chrystia Freeland when she was trade minister, but that’s not the principal reason he was brought in. What senior officials like was his penchant for staying cool, and working fast, in the Liberal election war room in 2015.

    Clow would not speak for this story.

    But someone who trained him in working war rooms was happy to share some thoughts about him and the job. It was Warren Kinsella who brought the modern campaign war room to Canada in 1993, modelled on Bill Clinton’s 1992 run, and who also authored, Kicking Ass In Canadian Politics.

    Kinsella demands three attributes from war-room staff: Keeping your mouth shut about the war room. Working fast. Doing thorough research.

    These campaign operations shape news coverage by providing key components of a story, quickly, to journalists operating in a tougher environment of 24-hour news and declining research budgets: quotes, facts and people willing to be interviewed.

    “(Clinton aide James) Carville told me, ‘The media atom has split’... you can’t just take (reporters) out to lunch and spin them and the story appears two days later,’” Kinsella said.

    “(A war room is) basically a newsroom.”

    It also provides a central hub so different offices are in contact, and don’t contradict each other. The Canada-U.S. unit includes the PMO’s Butts and Telford, Freeland, ambassador to Washington David MacNaughton, and writer Michael Den Tandt.

    Kinsella was impressed with his speed, cool and ability to pump out video content while he worked on the 2007 and 2011 Ontario Liberal campaigns.

    The Trump mission is infinitely harder, Kinsella said.

    Kinsella joked that in elections, all his job entailed was pulling pins from grenades and lobbying them. This team must prevent explosions, while working with thousands of officials, multiple government departments, two countries, industry groups, one global economic superpower and an unpredictable president.

    The unit got to conduct early test runs.

    When Trump complained about Canadian dairy and lumber, and threatened a NAFTA pullout, it handled the response. The Canadian side kept the temperature down; it responded to heated rhetoric with statistics and telephone calls, and things quickly cooled down.

    “They can’t declare war on Trump,” Kinsella said. “In this situation you can’t throw hand grenades — we’re David, they’re Goliath.”

    NAFTA negotiations last week offered a glimpse of the unit’s work.

    The U.S. government began by complaining about Canada’s historic trade surpluses. Canadian officials were later in the lobby, handing out fact sheets showing a trade deficit.

    “We used to call those ‘heat sheets,” Kinsella explained. He’d have his team slip them under hotel-room doors while reporters were sleeping, so they might shape the next day’s news.

    “You build an incremental case,” Kinsella said.

    “That’s how you win a campaign.”

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    Vaden Earle first met Mari-Thérèse Pierre, a Haitian refugee, in the Dominican Republic in 2005 when he was on a humanitarian mission with a youth group he founded in Canada.

    The Hamilton man would see the woman with her newborn child, Widlene, scavenging for food around a giant dump site near Puerto Plata and would often chat with her.

    One day in 2009, the mother and girl disappeared, and he learned that Pierre had died and the child was sent back to Haiti to live with a relative. Worried about the well-being of the girl, Earle and his wife set out to find her. They eventually tracked her down in Haiti and have been her primary care providers ever since.

    Eight years after Earle and his wife initiated Widlene’s adoption — and after a series of mishaps — the now 12-year-old is stranded and stateless in the Dominican Republic, waiting to come to Canada with her adoptive parents. To do that, the couple is asking for co-operation from immigration officials.

    “It has been a nightmare in a perfect storm. It’s just unbelievable,” said Earle, 42, who moved to the Caribbean country in 2009 to look after Widlene full-time, while his wife, Christl, travels monthly from Toronto to see her family.

    Earle, who quit his position as CEO of the youth group Live Different and now runs a car rental business and café in Puerto Plata, said he and his wife were drawn to Widlene partly by their belief in empowering youth for social change.

    “Widlene just finished Grade 6 (at a private school). She is an avid soccer player and loves watching hockey. She is a big Edmonton Oilers fan,” said Earle. “She wants to become a pediatrician and work in developing countries.”

    It’s a future that would not have been imaginable when Earle first found Widlene in Gonaïves, in northern Haiti, where she was on the verge of being sold as a child domestic worker in 2009.

    He and his wife, who have no children of their own, applied to Haitian authorities for Widlene’s guardianship in order to bring the girl home to formalize the adoption in Canada. They completed a government assessment in Ontario of their skills and talents as potential parents.

    Then the 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Port-au-Prince in January 2010, causing widespread devastation — and destroying all the documents necessary for Widlene’s adoption, including proof of her mother’s death and the signed consent of her biological father, whose whereabouts are still unknown.

    The couple then attempted to carry out the adoption in Haiti, but in 2013, the Haitian government suddenly put a moratorium on international adoptions.

    In 2015 the family encountered yet another hurdle when a new law was enacted that revoked Haitian citizenship for anyone born outside Haiti, even to Haitian parents.

    Earle said Widlene subsequently had her Haitian passport and citizenship stripped, and became stateless in the Dominican Republic, because that country does not grant citizenship by birth on its soil.

    “As a Haitian, she is living in a country where Haitians are not welcomed and are targets for exploitation, racism and deportation,” said Earle. “As a Dominican-born child, Haiti refuses to recognize her as a citizen. Today, we, as Canadian citizens, are effectively exiled from Canada by virtue of our decision to save the life of a child.”

    Being stateless, Widlene does not have a valid travel document.

    The family’s Toronto lawyer, Chantal Desloges, has asked immigration officials to issue a temporary resident permit to let Widlene into Canada so the couple can complete the adoption — and the immigration process — in this country.

    Immigration officials have yet to decide on the matter. They say they’ve been responding to correspondence from Earle since September 2016.

    “We understand the rules are there, but this is a humanitarian case. We need the exceptional discretion applied in this case,” said Desloges, adding that the permit, unlike a tourist visa, is designed for the entry of an otherwise inadmissible foreigner because of “compelling needs.”

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    Health Canada has approved the immediate opening of a downtown supervised safe injection site to combat the opioid crisis in Toronto, but it’s not nearly enough, according to one of the founders of an unsanctioned pop-up site at Moss Park.

    “It’s not a crisis response,” registered nurse Leigh Chapman said in an interview.

    “I think it’s great that they have accelerated the opening of the sanctioned safe injection sites,” Chapman said, adding that it would be useful for the site to have extended hours.

    “It would be great if they could expand their hours and have much longer hours than we have,” Chapman said.

    She said there are absolutely no plans to shut down the Moss Park pop-up site, which currently runs seven days a week, with volunteers working from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

    “We can’t abandon these people who are visiting our tent in Moss Park,” Chapman said. “We are building trust and allowing them the opportunity to feel safe with volunteers who care about their wellbeing. The city should care too.”

    More details on the facility at 277 Victoria St., near Yonge and Dundas St., are expected from the Medical Officer of Health on Monday morning.

    The interim site there has approval to run until at least Feb. 28, 2018, according to Health Canada.

    The Moss Park group has received funding from a GoFundMe campaign In addition to supervising injections, it has handed out more than 200 kits of naloxone to block the affects of opioids.

    Toronto Mayor John Tory met earlier this month with harm reduction workers to talk about how to respond to the city’s opioid problem.

    Health Canada has already approved safe injection sites at the South Riverdale Community Health Centre and at the Parkdale Queen West Community Health Center but those sites remain closed pending renovations.

    There were reportedly 2,400 deaths in Canada in 2016 blamed on opioid-related overdoses.

    Chapman said her group has successfully responded to five overdoses.

    “Generally, every day we see 12 to 25 people,” Chapman said. “These are people that are injecting in the medical tents.”

    Volunteers take daily walks through Moss Park looking for discarded drug-injection kits and reaching out to drug users, she said.

    “We’ve reached out to a place where there is open drug use and the population there is underserved,” Chapman said.

    The problem comes as heroin, which is grown from poppies and illegally imported, is replaced by fentanyl, which is laboratory produced and has high potency.

    “People are overdosing in alleys,” Chapman said. “They just don’t know what they’re taking.”

    Chapman praised the response by police to the Moss Park clinic.

    “We’ve had a ton of police support and community support,” Chapman said. “They were amazing. Very supportive.”

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    FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE—Churches across Sierra Leone held special services Sunday in memory of those killed in mudslides and flooding earlier this week, as hospital officials announced the toll had risen to nearly 500 bodies collected.

    More than 600 people remain missing and rescue officials have warned that the chances of finding survivors are decreasing each day. The death toll earlier stood at 450.

    The Inter-Religious Council called for the services to be held Sunday in honour of the deceased, as special prayers and recitals were offered in mosques Friday and Sunday.

    The preacher at Buxton Memorial Methodist Church in Freetown, the capital, offered a sermon that looked at mankind’s contribution to the disaster, as a gospel band rendered the song “Papa God Sorry for Salone (Sierra Leone).”

    Large-scale-burials have taken place all this week amid rainy weather that threatened further mudslides.

    Read more:

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    Sierra Leonean community in Toronto organizes relief fund

    The government of the impoverished West African nation in recent days has warned residents to evacuate a mountainside where a large crack has opened. Thousands of people live in areas at risk and the main focus is making sure they leave before further disaster, authorities have told local media.

    Aid groups are providing clean water as a health crisis looms.

    “Water sources have been contaminated” and that officials “fear for an outbreak of water-borne diseases,” said Saidu Kanu, country director for World Hope International.

    Foreign aid from the rest of the world is being sent to Freetown, said authorities.

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    For the third time in its history the Royal Canadian Air Force will receive new colours on Sept. 1, a “once-in-a-generation event” the RCAF plans to celebrate on land and in the air.

    The colours, or flags, reflect the RCAF’s “loyalty and fealty” to the Queen and Canada, said Lt. Col Holly Apostoliuk, the air force’s director of public relations.

    On the day, which will be declared Royal Canadian Air Force Day in Toronto, Torontonians will see about 25 historic and current RCAF aircraft fly by above the city’s skyscrapers to mark the occasion.

    Alongside the famed Snowbirds and a specially painted Canada 150 CF-188 Hornet, a CH-146 Griffon helicopter will fly from east to west along the direction of Queen St. across Nathan Phillips Square, where Governor General David Johnston will present the new colours.

    For RCAF members, the colours represent their history, service and ideals, said Apostoliuk.

    “On the first of September, we will actually reaffirm our responsibilities to Canada and to the Royal Canadian Air Force with those colours as the symbol,” she said.

    The RCAF’s existing flags carry its old name, Air Command, which was changed back to the Royal Canadian Air Force in 2011.

    There are two colours: The Queen’s Colour, a flag that carries a Canadian maple leaf with the sovereign’s cipher in the middle and symbolizes loyalty to the Crown, and the Command Colour, a blue flag carrying the air force’s badge in the middle, which symbolizes the RCAF’s “pride, cohesion and valour.”

    There will be a parade and music in Nathan Phillips Square to celebrate the consecration of the new colours starting at 12:30. The fly-by will take place at 2 p.m. and last about 10 minutes. The fly-by will be rehearsed on Aug. 31 between 2:15 and 2:45 p.m.

    On Friday, two Griffons offered media a first look at the flight path. They flew across downtown, where the military aircraft must be 500-ft above the highest obstacle in their flight path: the 1,000-ft Bank of Montreal building.

    The helicopters flew above kayakers paddling the brown waters of the Don River, and back over the treetops, houses, and highways of Mississauga.

    For Capt. Sean Crites, a member of the 424 Transport and Rescue Squandron based at 8-Wing Trenton, it must have been easy flying; there were no tricky landings in tight forest clearings, no nighttime rescues over Lake Ontario.

    He recalled one of his “hairiest rescues.”

    It was the middle of the night and a sailboat on Lake Ontario was taking on water. Crites and his co-pilot managed to drop the search-and-rescue technicians in the water where they swam to the boat to assist an hypothermic occupant.

    The conditions were challenging. There was no way to hoist the patient back up, he said.

    It was only when the boat washed ashore that they could pick up the occupant and rescuers.

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    CHICAGO—The weekend at Wrigley Field was surely memorable for the thousands of fans that made the trek from the Great White North to the great North Side. On the field the Blue Jays may have been swept in three games, but they battled to the end, including an agonizing 6-5 extra-innings loss on Sunday.

    Roberto Osuna struck out two batters in the 10th inning and both reached base, one on a wild pitch and one on a brain cramp by catcher Raffy Lopez who corralled the ball but forgot to throw down to first base for the out with the tying run perched on third. The Cubs scored three times against Osuna to complete the sweep.

    The Cubs’ winning rally included two hits, one of them a two-run single by Justin Heyward, a walk, a hit batter and two strikeouts that resulted in baserunners. The biggest of the mistakes was failure by Lopez to execute the throw to first base that would have been the second out and given the Jays a chance to escape.

    “It was definitely a tough inning,” Lopez understated. “A block has to be made and I just have to make a better throw to first, with the guy on third after I checked him. I was checking the runner and just made a bad throw and had to adjust my feet. I didn’t get my body in the best position to turn and throw to first.”

    The Jays had taken the lead in the top of the 10th. With runners on first and second against Koji Uehara, Kevin Pillar ripped an opposite field single scoring shortstop Josh Donaldson, who slid head-first around the tag of Alex Avila. It was Pillar’s sixth hit of the series. Outfielder Nori Aoki walked with the bases loaded for an add-on run that ended up not mattering.

    For Pillar, it was a great game and a great weekend from a personal standpoint, tempered by the fact his team was swept. The acrobatic centre fielder collected six hits in three games including the go-ahead RBI on Sunday, plus he made a highlight catch in the seventh inning on a dead sprint into the brick wall to haul in a drive by Kris Bryant. It was one for the ages.

    “It was just an amazing weekend for me, personally, being able to go out there and play the way I feel like I should play every day,” Pillar said. “And to be able to do it in front of a lot of fans that travelled a long way and in front of my family that made the trip out here is something I’ll always remember.”

    Jays starter Marco Estrada continued his game of Catch-22. He wants to stay with the Jays and he wants to pitch well. But the better he pitches, the more likely he will be moved in a trade before the end of August to a team like the Astros that missed the non-waiver trade boat.

    As has happened to Estrada more often than he would like to count, it all came down to one crumbly inning Sunday for the 34-year-old free agent-to-be.

    Estrada waved the trainer back to the dugout, but hit Jon Jay with a pitch and threw wide on a bunt by Kyle Hendricks to load the bases. Albert Almora Jr. doubled past third baseman Jose Bautista, who was even with the bag, to clear the bases.

    If Bautista had been positioned four steps deeper, he may have been able to start a double play. Instead, Estrada trailed 3-0 with just one ball out of the infield.

    The bottom line for Estrada on Sunday is that, with another quality start, his fourth in his last five outings, he again pitched well enough to win the game, well enough to stay with the Jays and well enough to be traded. He allowed three runs and five hits in six innings, with a walk and four strikeouts.

    The Jays’ offence, meanwhile, hung around and clawed back to tie the game in the sixth inning.

    Justin Smoak led off the fourth with a double and Jose Bautista singled to centre field. Smoak delayed to make sure the ball landed but third-base coach Luis Rivera surprised the Cubs by waving him home. Anthony Rizzo was late arriving at the cutoff position and when he turned with time to throw Smoak out at the plate he slipped and went down as if shot by a sniper.

    In the fifth inning, Nori Aoki doubled leading off. Estrada took a strike with Rizzo charging hard for the bunt. Estrada then faked a bunt and slapped a grounder to Javy Baez who flipped to third, but Aoki slid in safely. An Ezequiel Carrera double-play grounder scored Aoki.

    In the sixth, catcher Miguel Montero proved that, actually, you can go home again, slamming a solo homer deep into the left-centre field bleachers to tie the game. It was his second homer with the Jays. Montero, a World Series Game 7 hero for the Cubs a year ago, had been designated for assignment after he criticized some of his own pitchers for not holding runners on base.

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    Clouds may also be in the skies when you try to catch the solar eclipse on Monday, and in fact, they may outright block your view.

    Environment Canada is forecasting a 30 percent chance of showers so when the moon partially blocks the sun— which is expected to peak at 2:22 p.m. — your view may also be obscured by cloud clover, says senior climatologist Dave Phillips.

    Monday is expected to be the warmest day of August. It will be hot and humid with a high of 28 C, feeling closer to 33 C. The heat will continue on Tuesday with an expected high of 29 C but a 70 per cent chance of showers may affect that.

    Read more:Where to watch the eclipse in the Toronto area

    There is more bad news. You may want to carry a sweater with you for the rest of the week. Temperatures will leave it feeling more like fall rather than summer, says Phillips.

    Expect temperatures in the low-20s on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, which will drop as low as 9 C in the evenings.

    “The temperatures are cool and pleasant, but these are temperatures that are about three degrees cooler than normal,” says Phillips.

    The reality is this: fall is not that far away.

    “I wouldn't write the obituary on summer-like weather,” he says. “But we know that the days are getting shorter and that we are exactly one month from the beginning of fall … There is no frost (in the forecast), but you may need to grab a sweater at night because temperatures can reach single digits.”

    With files from Bryann Aguilar

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    Police have identified the woman whose body was found in a park near Jane and Finch Saturday.

    Toronto police Const. David Hopkinson said police rushed to Derrydowns Park near Jane St. and Finch Ave. W. at around 12:45 p.m. after a report that a person was in the water.

    Police said the woman was pronounced dead on scene after she was pulled out of the water without vital signs.

    The victim has been identified as Virgil Jack, 31, of Toronto. She lived near the area where her body was found. Signs of trauma were found on her body.

    Toronto police homicide Det. Sgt. Terry Browne told reporters on scene Sunday an initial examination revealed Jack was stabbed multiple times.

    “Whoever did this to Ms. Jack, this was a very violent act,” said Browne.

    Police said Jack was last seen at around 2:30 p.m. in the Jane and Finch area on Aug. 18.

    Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-7400, Crime Stoppers anonymously.

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    Former Hells Angels enforcer Paris Christoforou was one of the targets of a failed murder attempt at Sherway Gardens last week, the Star has learned.

    Christoforou suffered non-life threatening injuries after a gunman opened fire on him around 7:30 pm Wednesday evening outside a coffee shop at the shopping centre near The West Mall and Evans Ave.

    His longtime associate Mark Peretz was seriously injured in the shooting.

    Christoforou and Peretz made the news a dozen years ago when they were both sentenced to nine years in prison for a botched 2004 gangland murder attempt that paralyzed Louise Russo, an innocent bystander and mother-of-three, from the waist down.

    In the 2004 shooting, court heard they had been attempting to kill Sicilian mobster Michele Modica at a sandwich shop over an unpaid online gambling debt when Russo was shot by mistake.

    Police are probing whether the Sherway Gardens shootings are connected to another shooting this month when a 35-year-old man was seriously wounded while leaving a breakfast restaurant in Oakville.

    Police are investigating whether those murder attempts are connected to a dissolving business partnership involving a member of the London, Ont., Hells Angels charter.

    That relationship crumbled over allegations that the London, Ont. biker skimmed proceeds from an online gambling enterprise and invested the money in Muskoka real estate, without telling his partners.

    Sources also tell the Star this month’s two failed murder bids are the latest in a string of more than a dozen unsolved violent incidents this year in southern Ontario, centred around a struggle for drug trafficking and online gambling revenues.

    The online gambling business was once controlled by Montreal Mafia boss Vito Rizzuto, who died of natural causes in December 2013.

    There are now more than a dozen violent unsolved underworld incidents this year from Woodbridge to Hamilton, including killings, explosions and arson.

    In the Oakville attack on Aug. 4, the 35-year-old man was shot around 9:30 am after he was approached by three men outside the Sunset Grill breakfast restaurant in a shopping plaza at Cornwall and Trafalgar Rds.

    A man from Montreal was arrested nearby while two other men are still being sought by police after fleeing in a black pickup truck.

    When Christoforou was sentenced for the Russo shooting, court heard that he had a criminal record that spanned more than a decade and included four previous assault convictions.

    At the time of the Russo shooting, he was bound by two prohibition orders and was on probation.

    Court heard that Christoforou was Peretz’s “partner and head of collections” at the time of the 2004 murder attempt.

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    WASHINGTON—Canada, the U.S. and Mexico are pledging to keep a “rapid pace” for the renegotiation of NAFTA, agreeing in a joint statement to keep exchanging proposals and comments on the content of a new deal ahead of the next round of talks in Mexico.

    The communiqué was endorsed by the three NAFTA partners at the conclusion of the first round of negotiations on Sunday, in which representatives from each country gave “detailed conceptual presentations” and discussed more than two dozen topics over five days, the statement said.

    “The scope and volume of proposals during the first round of the negotiation reflects a commitment from all three countries to an ambitious outcome and reaffirms the importance of updating the rules governing the world’s largest free trade area,” the statement said.

    Negotiators will return to their respective countries for consultations, having continued to engage with labour, private sector stakeholders and other levels of government during the talks, the statement said.

    They plan to reconvene in Mexico to resume negotiations from Sept. 1 to 5, and hold a third round of discussions in Canada later in the month. The renegotiations will then return to the U.S. in October, with six more rounds of talks being planned before the end of the year, the statement said.

    “While a great deal of effort and negotiation will be required in the coming months, Canada, Mexico and the United States are committed to an accelerated and comprehensive negotiation process that will upgrade our agreement and establish 21st century standards to the benefit of our citizens,” the statement said.

    The U.S. and Mexico have indicated that they would like negotiations to wrap up by the end of the year, with key elections in the offing for each country. A Canadian official told the Star Sunday that the government is fine with that timeline.

    All three countries have said they want to modernize NAFTA to take into account technological progress since it came into effect in 1994.

    Although negotiators from the Canadian delegation did not comment as they left the discussion venue on Sunday, there are many issues of disagreement as representatives from the three countries work to change a slew of tenets in the 23-year-old trade pact.

    A Canadian government official speaking on background told the Star Sunday that the U.S. and Canada are at loggerheads over the inclusion of climate change measures in a new NAFTA agreement, which is a stated priority of the Liberal government. The official added, however, that the Americans haven’t said anything to indicate the disagreement is irreconcilable at this point.

    “It is a very initial conversation to understand where each side is coming from,” the official said of the first round of talks, adding that there are areas of agreement on certain environment provisions as well.

    “There’s nothing that we see as insurmountable.”

    Other areas of divergence include an American push to create Buy American rules for government contracts in the U.S., while opening up these bids to U.S. companies in Canada and Mexico, and remove the state-to-state dispute resolution mechanism—which Canada strongly favours—from the agreement.

    The U.S. has also said it wants to cut its trade deficit and update the rules of origin on products like auto parts to ensure that more of their content is North American-made.

    Confirming a report from Reuters on Saturday, a source close to the talks told the Star that the U.S. has not yet made any specific demands on how it wants to update rules of origin, a policy widely considered crucial to the auto industry in North America.

    “On rules of origin, the focal point is going to be on auto,” said Laura Dawson, director of the Canada Institute at the Wilson Center in Washington. She said if the Americans try to raise the rules of origin level too high — it is currently at 62.5 per cent for auto parts — manufacturers could lose their incentive to play by the NAFTA rules, opting instead to pay tariffs or even moving factories to other jurisdictions.

    “They’re really dancing on a knife-edge,” she said of the Americans’ position.

    Canada’s push for a greener NAFTA, meanwhile, is part of the “progressive” goals outlined last week by Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland. These include new chapters on gender and Indigenous peoples, as well as commitments to strengthen labour standards and environmental provisions to protect the right to address climate change.

    Trump has previously denounced the science that supports human-caused climate change, famously calling the idea a Chinese hoax on Twitter. He also pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord this year, which includes commitments from more than 190 countries to limit global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions over the coming decades.

    Tracey Ramsey, the NDP’s trade critic in Ottawa, said “it’s promising” that the Liberal government has made labour and environmental standards a priority for a new NAFTA, but added that she thinks any measures to improve them need to be enforceable.

    “It’s not enough to say, ‘We respect this,’ ” she said. “The language has to be extremely clear and explicit, and it has to be enforceable.”

    Aside from its “progressive” goals in the renegotiation, Canada has indicated that it wants to protect NAFTA’s dispute resolution mechanisms, cut down on red tape and make cross-border travel easier for business professionals.

    Looking ahead to the second round of talks, Canadian officials are expected to return to Ottawa and update various stakeholders on how the negotiations are going. Perrin Beatty, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, said in an interview on the weekend that he expects to get a briefing from government officials on Wednesday.

    Dawson said the typical next phase will be for negotiators to use the information gathered in the first round to reconsider certain positions and potentially revise them in pursuit of a deal.

    “It’s still very, very early days,” she added.

    Lawrence Herman, a trade negotiation expert and fellow at the C.D. Howe Institute in Toronto, predicted in an email that more details of what is being negotiated will come out now that the closed-door talks in Washington have wrapped up.

    “Since Washington is the leakiest ship on the seas, these texts will rapidly find their way into the public domain. There are no secrets kept for long at either end of Pennsylvania Ave.,” he said.

    “This is going to make these negotiations exceedingly difficult for all governments to manage.”

    0 0

    If you flew over Lake Erie on Sunday afternoon, you might not have noticed the distress below.

    You’d have seen boats, of course, the distinctive red-orange of Fort Erie Fire Department vessels, coast guard boats and perhaps the 25 mismatched watercraft moving across the 25,744-square-km Great Lake.

    What you wouldn’t have seen were the details that turned a fundraising swim race from Sturgeon Point, N.Y., to Crystal Beach, Ont., into a frantic search-and-rescue mission: swimmers alone in choppy waves, crew members vomiting over boat rails, vessels losing their propellers and any ability to steer across the lake.

    In the end, it was a call to the coast guard to find a missing swimmer — who’d been lost in the open water for 40 minutes already — that ultimately ended the race. Not one of the 41 swimmers made it to the other side.

    “I’ve had better days,” organizer Miguel Vadillo said about 4 p.m., as he walked to meet swimmers who’d since been taken to dry land. Earlier on Sunday, Vadillo spoke to the Star from aboard one of the race’s accompanying boats. He wasn’t blind to the day’s rocky conditions, but was still optimistic.

    “Right now? It’s pretty daunting,” Vadillo said about 10 a.m. The wind whipped in the background while he pointed out a current pulling east. Vadillo has been an open-water swimmer himself since his youth in Mexico.

    “It is very challenging, knowing where you’re going, what you’re fighting, what you’re doing,” he said.

    He wasn’t worried about the youngest swimmers — four 11- to 14-year-olds braving the water to raise money for Red Roof Retreat, a respite care facility in the Niagara region.

    “Those guys are better swimmers than many others here. I worry about some of the adults that are behind that are not making it very far,” he admitted.

    Some swimmers came to the race with high-profile causes. Dr. Sherri Mason, a key researcher of Great Lake pollution, was aiming to draw attention to how micro-plastics contaminate the freshwater. Carlos Costa swam against the odds of a double-leg amputation, looking to become the first male para-swimmer to cross the lake.

    The event had taken significant planning and co-ordination, including liaising with both the U.S. and Canadian jurisdictions on the route.

    But at 2:33 p.m, five-and-a-half hours after the race began, Vadillo revealed the day had gone awry: “Hang on it is not looking good.”

    A propeller had broken on one of the boats, and as it was no longer able to steer, its respective swimmer veered off alone. Vadillo went back with his boat in an attempt to step in as a crew. But the waves had got even more turbulent and the crew members started “puking down the side of the boat.”

    “It was very clear to me that she wouldn’t be able to make the cutoff at half time, of 10 kilometres at five hours,” he said. The swimmer made the decision to call it a day, and was taken on the boat to Canadian waters.

    At that point, they learned that another swimmer — Michael Kenny — was missing in the open water. Organizers had been searching for 40 minutes fruitlessly; it was time to call in the coast guard.

    At that point, Vadillo said, “the swimmers abandoned their own race to help a fellow swimmer.” All boats were re-allocated to the search, and the wayward swimmer was located an hour after he disappeared.

    But although he had been missing for a full hour, Kenny, who goes by the nickname “Swim Diesel,” was in high spirits. By his account, his boat crew had left to refuel, and were meant to catch up with him after.

    But there were “huge waves,” he said, “so I couldn’t hear or see them.”

    When he realized he was lost on the lake, Kenny decided that either going back or staying put would only mean more effort against the waves. So he eyeballed a white lighthouse in Canada and a distinct building in the U.S. and swam straight down the middle.

    “I know how to swim,” he noted cheerily. “Whether the boat’s beside me or not, it’s the same swimming. So I just said to myself, well, ‘I’ll keep going, and either they’ll catch up with me or they won’t!’ ”

    About an hour later, one of the search vessels spotted him and called out to him.

    “The coast guard came along and said, ‘Sir, you have to get out!’ And I said, ‘Well, I don’t want to end my race! Can I wait until my boat shows up?’ ” he said.

    “And they told me, ‘No, you have to get out. We are extracting you from the water.’ ”

    By the end of the day, when the weary swimmers found their land legs again, Vadillo said the race will be given another go next year.

    “It takes plenty of courage to even try,” he said of the day’s attempt.

    “We’re different because we have courage.”

    0 0

    Jerry Lewis, the comedian and filmmaker who was adored by many, disdained by others, but unquestionably a defining figure of American entertainment in the 20th century, died Sunday morning at his home in Las Vegas. He was 91.

    His death was confirmed by his publicist, Candi Cazau.

    Lewis knew success in movies, on television, in nightclubs, on the Broadway stage and in the university lecture hall. His career had its ups and downs, but when it was at its zenith there were few stars any bigger. And he got there remarkably quickly.

    Barely out of his teens, he shot to fame shortly after the Second World War with a nightclub act in which the rakish, imperturbable Dean Martin crooned and the skinny, hyperactive Lewis capered around the stage, a dangerously volatile id to Martin’s supremely relaxed ego.

    After his break with Martin in 1956, Lewis went on to a successful solo career, eventually writing, producing and directing many of his own films.

    As a spokesman for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Lewis raised vast sums for charity; as a filmmaker of great personal force and technical skill, he made many contributions to the industry, including the invention in 1960 of a device — the video assist, which allowed directors to review their work immediately on the set — still in common use.

    A mercurial personality who could flip from naked neediness to towering rage, Lewis seemed to contain multitudes, and he explored all of them. His ultimate object of contemplation was his own contradictory self, and he turned his obsession with fragmentation, discontinuity and the limits of language into a spectacle that enchanted children, disturbed adults and fascinated postmodernist critics.

    Jerry Lewis was born on March 16, 1926, in Newark, N.J. Most sources, including his 1982 autobiography, Jerry Lewis: In Person, give his birth name as Joseph Levitch. But Shawn Levy, author of the exhaustive 1996 biography King of Comedy: The Life and Art of Jerry Lewis, unearthed a birth record that gave his first name as Jerome.

    His parents, Danny and Rae Levitch, were entertainers — his father a song-and-dance man, his mother a pianist — who used the name Lewis when they appeared in small-time vaudeville and at Catskills resort hotels.

    In 1944 — a 4F classification kept him out of the war — he was performing at the Downtown Theater in Detroit when he met Patti Palmer, a 23-year-old singer. Three months later they were married, and on July 31, 1945, while Patti was living with Jerry’s parents in Newark and he was performing at a Baltimore nightclub, she gave birth to the first of the couple’s six sons. The couple divorced in 1980.

    Between his first date with Palmer and the birth of his first son, Lewis had met Dean Martin, a promising young crooner from Steubenville, Ohio. Appearing on the same bill at the Glass Hat nightclub in Manhattan, the skinny kid from New Jersey was dazzled by the sleepy-eyed singer, who seemed to be everything he was not: handsome, self-assured and deeply, unshakably cool.

    When they found themselves on the same bill again at another Manhattan nightclub, the Havana-Madrid, in March 1946, they started fooling around in impromptu sessions after the evening’s last show. Their antics earned the notice of Billboard magazine, whose reviewer wrote, “Martin and Lewis do an afterpiece that has all the makings of a sock act,” using showbiz slang for a successful show.

    By the summer of 1948, they had reached the pinnacle, headlining at the Copacabana on the upper East Side of Manhattan while playing one show a night at the 6,000-seat Roxy Theater in Times Square.

    The phenomenal rise of Martin and Lewis was like nothing show business had seen before. Partly this was because of the rise of mass media after the war, when newspapers, radio and the emerging medium of television came together to create a new kind of instant celebrity. And partly it was because four years of war and its difficult aftermath were finally lifting, allowing America to indulge a long-suppressed taste for silliness. But primarily it was the unusual chemical reaction that occurred when Martin and Lewis were side by side.

    Lewis’s shorthand definition for their relationship was “sex and slapstick.” But much more was going on: a dialectic between adult and infant, assurance and anxiety, bitter experience and wide-eyed innocence that generated a powerful image of postwar America, a gangly young country suddenly dominant on the world stage.

    Among the audience members at the Copacabana was producer Hal Wallis, who had a distribution deal through Paramount Pictures. Wallis signed them to a five-year contract.

    He started them off slowly, slipping them into a low-budget project already in the pipeline. Based on a popular radio show, My Friend Irma (1949) starred Marie Wilson as a ditsy blonde and Diana Lynn as her levelheaded roommate, with Martin and Lewis providing comic support. It was not until At War With the Army (1951), an independent production filmed outside Wallis’s control, that the team took centre stage.

    At War With the Army codified the relationship that ran through all 13 subsequent Martin and Lewis films, positing the pair as unlikely pals whose friendship might be tested by trouble with money or women (usually generated by Martin’s character), but who were there for each other in the end.

    The films were phenomenally successful, and their budgets quickly grew.

    That’s My Boy (1951), The Stooge (1953) and The Caddy (1953) approached psychological drama with their forbidding father figures and suggestions of sibling rivalry; Lewis had a hand in the writing of each. Artists and Models (1955) and Hollywood or Bust (1956) were broadly satirical looks at American popular culture under the authorial hand of director Frank Tashlin, who brought a bold graphic style and a flair for wild sight gags to his work.

    Tashlin also functioned as a mentor to Lewis, who was fascinated with the technical side of filmmaking.

    As his artistic aspirations grew and his control over the films in which he appeared increased, Lewis’s relationship with Martin became strained. As wildly popular as the team remained, Martin had come to resent Lewis’s dominant role in shaping their work and spoke of reviving his solo career as a singer. Lewis felt betrayed by the man he still worshipped as a role model, and by the time filming began on Hollywood or Bust they were barely speaking.

    After a farewell performance at the Copacabana on July 25, 1956, Martin and Lewis went their separate ways.

    Lewis saved his creative energies for the films he produced himself. The first three of those films — Rock-a-Bye Baby (1958), The Geisha Boy (1958) and Cinderfella (1960) — were directed by Tashlin. After that, finally ready to assume complete control, Lewis persuaded Paramount to take a chance on The Bellboy (1960), a virtually plotless homage to silent-film comedy that he wrote, directed and starred in, playing a hapless employee of the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach.

    It was the beginning of Lewis’s most creative period. During the next five years, he directed five more films of remarkable stylistic assurance, including The Ladies Man (1961), with its huge multistory set of a women’s boardinghouse, and, most notably, The Nutty Professor (1963), a variation on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, in which Lewis appeared as a painfully shy chemistry professor and his dark alter ego, a swaggering nightclub singer.

    With their themes of fragmented identity and their experimental approach to sound, colour and narrative structure, Lewis’s films began to attract the serious consideration of iconoclastic young critics in France. At a time when American film was still largely dismissed by American critics as purely commercial and devoid of artistic interest, Lewis’s work was held up as a prime example of a personal filmmaker functioning happily within the studio system.

    The Nutty Professor is probably the most honoured and analyzed of Lewis’s films. (It was also his personal favourite.) For some critics, the opposition between the helpless, infantile Professor Julius Kelp and the coldly manipulative lounge singer Buddy Love represented a spiteful revision of the old Martin-and-Lewis dynamic. But Buddy seems more pertinently a projection of Lewis’s darkest fears about himself: a version of the distant, unloving father whom Lewis had never managed to please as a child, and whom he both despised and desperately wanted to be.

    His blend of physical comedy and pathos was quickly going out of style in a Hollywood defined by the countercultural irony of The Graduate and M*A*S*H. After “The Day the Clown Cried,” his audacious attempt to direct a comedy-drama set in a Nazi concentration amp, collapsed in litigation in 1972, Lewis was absent from films for eight years. In that dark period, he struggled with an addiction to the pain killer Percodan.

    He enjoyed a revival as an actor, thanks largely to his powerful performance in a dramatic role in Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy (1982) as a talk-show host kidnapped by an aspiring comedian (Robert De Niro) desperate to become a celebrity. He appeared in the television series Wiseguy in 1988 and 1989 as a garment manufacturer threatened by the Mob, and was memorable in character roles in Emir Kusturica’s Arizona Dream (1993) and Peter Chelsom’s Funny Bones (1995). Lewis played Mr. Applegate (aka the Devil) in a Broadway revival of the musical Damn Yankees in 1995 and later took the show on an international tour.

    In 1983, Lewis married SanDee Pitnick, and in 1992 their daughter, Danielle Sara, was born. Besides his wife and daughter, survivors include his sons Christopher, Scott, Gary and Anthony, and several grandchildren.

    Although he retained a preternaturally youthful appearance for many years, Lewis had a series of serious illnesses in his later life, including prostate cancer, pulmonary fibrosis and two heart attacks.

    Through it all, Lewis continued his charity work, serving as national chairman of the Muscular Dystrophy Association and, beginning in 1966, hosting the association’s annual Labor Day weekend telethon. The telethon raised about $2 billion during the more than 40 years he was host.

    During the 1976 telethon, Frank Sinatra staged an on-air reunion between Lewis and Martin, to the visible discomfort of both men. A more lasting reconciliation came in 1987, when Lewis attended the funeral of Martin’s oldest son, Dean Paul Martin Jr., a pilot in the California Air National Guard who had been killed in a crash. They continued to speak occasionally until Martin died in 1995.

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