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    In the lead-up to a crucial vote during which city council flip-flopped on transit plans to approve a multibillion-dollar subway in Scarborough, Jennifer Keesmaat went on the warpath.

    In July 2013, the progressive chief planner — whose departure after five years at the helm was announced on Monday — was trying to make it known to anyone who would listen that a seven-stop light-rail line the province had already agreed to pay for, and the city had already approved, was still the better option.

    Hundreds of pages of emails obtained by the Star through freedom of information requests over the past two years show how Keesmaat became the subway’s strongest critic on staff and tried — but ultimately failed — to prevent what some have called the biggest boondoggle of Toronto transit politics.

    The number of reasons why the three-stop subway was a bad idea added up, Keesmaat agreed in one such email, to an “embarrassment of riches.”

    The push to build a subway in Scarborough was one of the most controversial projects advanced under Keesmaat’s tenure at city hall, one that has complicated her legacy as a progressive city-builder. A compromise plan she later moved under Mayor John Tory today continues to unravel.

    This is the untold story of how she tried behind the scenes to prevent the subway from being approved in the first place.

    By the first week of July 2013, the future of transit in Scarborough was in limbo.

    A surprise and illegal motion from Scarborough councillor and subway backer Glenn De Baeremaeker at an earlier May meeting during a completely unrelated debate — a move supported by then mayor Rob Ford — saw council sending mixed messages. They had endorsed a subway while having a signed agreement with the province’s transit agency, Metrolinx, to build an LRT.

    Metrolinx, unsurprisingly, demanded clarity, triggering another vote, which was scheduled for a July 16 council meeting.

    City staff began preparing a report to help council decide how to proceed, meeting nightly at one point to meet the tight deadlines.

    On July 2, Keesmaat emailed her superiors, then city manager Joe Pennachetti and deputy city manager John Livey.

    She noted media reports that said TTC CEO Andy Byford was meeting Metrolinx officials to review the costs for proceeding with the subway following De Baeremaeker’s motion.

    But Keesmaat was not convinced the subway should be built at all.

    “As we have discussed, there are different opinions as to the validity/relevance of these motions,” Keesmaat wrote, referring to the re-opening of the debate.

    “I am well aware of the issues,” Pennachetti responded, promising to convene a meeting of staff that day.

    The next day, Keesmaat forwarded a proposed outline for the council report to Livey.

    “This is the outline we are working with,” she wrote.

    Importantly, the outline included an example of what the planning department believed should be recommended: “For the reasons presented, subway is not the preferred technology to meet the future planning and transportation vision for this part of the city.”

    Several days later, Pennachetti asked a senior group of staff for further refinements to the draft report.

    Keesmaat responded to that request to make a point: “The subway option DOES NOT make the list of (ten) priority projects when compared with other projects across the city.”

    It was followed by a warning.

    “The quickness of the turn around has meant that we are struggling with a rationale, fair means of assessment,” Keesmaat wrote.

    Two days later, Keesmaat sent Byford an email with the subject line “LRT/Subway – URGENT.”

    “It is my understanding that your support of a subway for Scarborough is based on the projected increase in ridership,” she began. “I would like a more fulsome understanding of (how) you attained this number.”

    “I have not forecast more riders,” Byford responded. “We didn’t reopen this debate so (it’s) up to councillors to say if funds are available.”

    The emails reference a ridership number that would soon appear in the final version of the July report.

    Though earlier analysis estimated the number of subway rush-hour riders by 2031 would be 9,500. That number had suddenly grown to 14,000.

    That number was rarely discussed in any emailed conversations obtained by the Star before that report was tabled.

    But the increase came as a surprise to Keesmaat. She was unaware it had apparently come from her own planning department, not the TTC, as the final report would later state.

    Keesmaat declined to comment for this story. When asked previously about this exchange, the chief planner admitted the analysis leading up to the July vote was both “rushed” and “problematic”.

    Reached by the Star, Pennachetti said he was relying on Keesmaat, Byford and their teams to come up with the recommendations in the report. As for the ridership number, he said: “I don’t have an explanation for that number because it was a transportation planning key issue to determine.”

    By July 9, staff had a working draft of their report to council. A copy obtained by the Star shows that language warning against the perils of a switch to a subway was toned done significantly in the final report.

    For example, a line that said: “At present, there is insufficient information available at this early stage on the net cost of maintaining and operating a proposed extension of the Bloor-Danforth subway” was removed entirely.

    There were also several additions to the final report.

    An entire section on ridership projections, focusing on the 14,000 figure, was added.

    Importantly, this line was included in summary: “TTC staff have identified that either an LRT or subway can effectively serve the Scarborough RT transit corridor. Each technology option offers distinct advantages.”

    On July 10, Keesmaat emailed Pennachetti with the subject “Subway vs LRT” to offer more evidence of the LRT’s benefits.

    “Are you aware that the LRT travels through 3 priority neighbourhoods and the subway travels through one?”

    “Are you aware that this will double the city’s debt — the cost is 3 billion?”

    Pennachetti appears to not have responded by email.

    The next day, Keesmaat emailed Councillor Josh Matlow’s senior policy adviser, Andrew Athanasiu, who had asked for information to support an opinion piece he was drafting to send to the Star. Matlow had been strongly opposed to the push for a subway from the beginning.

    Keesmaat told him they were still working on the report to council, due the next day, and that it had been a “significant negotiation around the table.” She wanted to know what kind of material he needed.

    Athanasiu responded that the piece had already been submitted. “That’s fine,” he said. “There’s an embarrassment of riches as to why this is a bad idea.”

    “It is an embarrassment of riches,” Keesmaat replied. “It is a significant overbuilding of the needed infrastructure.”

    She also noted the cost for a subway, as spelled out in the report, would be “mind boggling” — much higher than anticipated.

    “Has this changed Joe P’s mind at all?” Athanasiu asked, inquiring about the city manager.

    Keesmaat didn’t answer that question in her subsequent email.

    Emails also show that in July staff were monitoring Keesmaat’s tweets and printing them out for her superior, Livey, to see.

    In an email this week, Livey said: “Since I did not access Twitter regularly, I asked staff to print them for me. Staff regularly receive media and social media updates/clippings from strategic communications to help better inform us of the coverage on topics of high interest to the public.”

    When the report was finalized, the recommendations were not at all what Keesmaat had earlier envisioned.

    Instead, it gave council a choice, presenting the subway and the LRT as potential equals, with some caveats. In doing so, staff told council to choose instead of making a firm recommendation as the original outline had done.

    The 45-member council convened on July 16 to discuss the report and make a choice.

    It wasn’t even close. Council voted instead to build a subway, 28-16 (one councillor was absent).

    The subway was again confirmed in a subsequent vote in October, which approved a tax increase to help cover the more than billion-dollar increase in costs. In the years that followed, Keesmaat worked to create a compromise that Mayor John Tory, who campaigned on building the subway, and his allies could support.

    It involved reducing the number of stops from three to one and pitching that the savings could be used to build an extension of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT to the University of Toronto’s Scarborough campus.

    In presenting the idea she argued an “express” subway — a favoured term of Tory’s — could be beneficial in the context of a network plan.

    But since that plan was unveiled, mounting costs related to the subway have meant the funds already set aside may not even cover the cost of the subway, let alone the LRT.

    And a recently published study on the subway estimates that in 2055, trains will still be two-thirds empty at rush hour — which would mean steep costs for the city to operate it.

    Announcing she’ll decamp from her post at the end of September this year, Keesmaat will be long gone before any of it is hashed out at council and construction green-lighted.

    At that July debate, Matlow, fighting to keep the LRT plan in place, asked Keesmaat to address the bigger question directly, out in the open. Which would be better for the city?

    Keesmaat, on her feet in the cavernous council chamber, tried to make it clear.

    “Based on the criteria that we have for great city-building, looking at economic development, supporting healthy neighbourhoods, affordability, choice in the system, the LRT option is, in fact, more desirable.”

    “I just want to make sure that my colleagues heard that,” Matlow said as his time to question ran out. “So, you’re saying that all of the evidence-based criteria that you’re using, the LRT for this specific route is the preferred option for Scarborough and Toronto.”

    “That’s correct,” Keesmaat said.


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    As Canadians, what is it about the image of a dying child that moves us so?

    You may remember the harrowing pictures of Ethiopia’s starving children 30 years ago during their historic famine. Their plight spurred Canadians on to lead the world in famine relief.

    Or how about the heartbreaking photo two years ago of the lifeless body of tiny Alan Kurdi on a Turkish beach? It encouraged Canada to become a world leader in welcoming Syrian refugees.

    Yes, what is it about the image of a dying child that moves us as Canadians — except, it seems, if these children come from Yemen, the scene of what the United Nations describes as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

    What else are we to conclude?

    According to the UN, Yemen is on the brink of famine. Nearly two million Yemeni children are starving and many have died or have been seriously injured in bombing attacks by the military coalition led by Saudi Arabia.

    Dramatic photos of these children finally became public this week — and have gone viral around the world on social media — in spite of sweeping Saudi efforts to block media coverage.

    As Canadians, we should stare at these pictures and be ashamed. This time, unlike in Ethiopia and Syria, Canada is no innocent bystander. Our support of this criminal Saudi action may not be as direct as that of the United States and Britain. But our hands are as bloodied.

    By becoming a major arms supplier to Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s worst violators of human rights, Canada is very much complicit in the war crimes being waged against Yemeni civilians by the Saudi military.

    Like most everywhere in the Arab world, the story of this conflict is not a simple one – and blame for what is happening should be widely shared.

    In the poorest country in the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen’s conflict began as a domestic struggle between Houthi rebels sympathetic to Iran and a government supported by Saudi Arabia. It soon turned into a proxy war between the region’s two dominant rivals.

    For the past two years, the Saudi-led military coalition has taken the fight to the rebels, bombing civilians and blockading the besieged rebel-held areas. The impact of the conflict on the Yemeni population has been horrific.

    The death toll has surpassed 10,000 — with many of them children — and more than 40,000 people have been wounded. According to observers, most of the injuries and death can be traced to the Saudi coalition, and many of them come from direct Saudi airstrikes on civilians, which would constitute war crimes.

    What fuels Saudi Arabia’s regional ambitions is a massive military buildup in recent years. Like feeding drugs to an addict, the U.S. and Britain have led the way in arms sales to the Saudi military, and they have also provided logistical support and intelligence to the Yemeni mission.

    Canada is not officially a member of the Saudi coalition in Yemen but we have been an enthusiastic arms supplier to the Saudi military.

    A government report in June indicated that the Saudi government purchased more than $142 million of Canadian arms in 2016, and this made Saudi Arabia the biggest recipient of Canadian arms other than the United States.

    Although the government claims these sales impose restrictions on how the Saudis can use Canadian combat vehicles, there are indications that these limits are being ignored.

    Recent video disclosed by The Globe and Mail and the CBC suggests that the Saudis may have deployed Canadian vehicles against Saudi citizens. And in 2016, it appeared that Canadian-made armoured vehicles were operating in Yemen.

    Is this a surprise? Of course not. Only the naive and delusional would believe that Saudi Arabia would treat Canada’s “restrictions” seriously.

    So, if we look closely at the pictures of the Yemeni children being circulated this week, we have a choice as Canadians.

    We can admit our complicity in these crimes, and move on.

    Or we can remember what Ethiopia in 1985 and Syria in 2015 revealed about Canadians — and conclude that we can do better.

    A starting point would be to do what Amnesty international is urging of Canada: to call upon all states — including Canada — to stop supplying any weapons and military equipment to all the warring parties in Yemen.

    I wonder what these Yemeni children would want us to do.

    Tony Burman is former head of Al Jazeera English and CBC News. Reach him @TonyBurman or at tony.burman@gmail.com .


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    Game in, game out, Mike Morreale always knew what was expected of him when he stepped onto the football field.

    His job as a receiver was to grab the tough yards, get the first downs and take the big hits in the middle of the field.

    Morreale played 12 years in the CFL — that’s 216 regular-season games — and he never missed one of them.

    Over his career, the Hamilton native says he was never diagnosed with a single concussion, which seems astonishing.

    Now that he can look back on his career, how many concussions does he think he suffered?

    “I would have had one every game,” said Morreale, now 46. “Every game.

    “Every game I would have seen stars. Every game I would have had light-headedness. Every game I would have had an issue for a few plays in the huddle after a big hit.

    “I just thought it’s part of the game, that’s what happens,” Morreale added. “I never missed a game my whole career, so add ’em up.”

    He doesn’t blame the team’s medical staff because he says he never told them about the damage he was absorbing.

    “There were many times — probably 30 or 40 games in my career — where I probably shouldn’t have played,” said Morreale. “But I did. You felt you had to be invincible.

    “And I was always scared of someone taking my job,” he added. “That’s the culture that existed in sports.”

    Every former player has at least one story of being knocked senseless on the field at some point and then picking up — or trying to — as if nothing had happened.

    “It was ‘Gladiators,’” said Ticat Hall of Fame linebacker Ben Zambiasi, known throughout his 11-year career as a ferocious hitter.

    “You wanted to eliminate as many of the other players as possible,” said Zambiasi. “The more guys you got out, the better.”

    Kerry Smith, a receiver who played six CFL seasons, including four with the Ticats in the late ’70s and early ’80s, said the tactic in those days was for a defender to wrap up the ball carrier and hold him upright, rather than trying to tackle him to the ground.

    That way, other defenders could take a run at the player, inflicting as much damage as possible.

    He remembers being held up one time by another player, completely defenceless, and having the left side of his head smashed at full speed by a tackler.

    “One of my fillings popped out,” he said.

    After a few plays, he was sent back in.

    He couldn’t see out of his left eye, he said, and the vision in his right eye was garbled “like when the vertical hold used to go in those old TVs.”

    Lee Knight spent 11 seasons in the CFL with the Ticats as a receiver and running back.

    He recalls a time playing in Winnipeg when he jumped to catch a pass and then a defensive back came from underneath and took his legs out. Knight landed on his head.

    One of the Winnipeg players guided Knight back to the bench and told the Ticats’ trainer that he “wasn’t right.”

    The next thing Knight remembers is being on the bench. He started giggling because a rush of childhood memories were flashing through his mind, like a video of his life.

    He tried to go back on the field, but someone had hidden his helmet as a precaution.

    Here are the stories from some of the players who took part in the Spectator’s concussion project:

    When Dan Ferrone watches football now and sees a vicious hit, he shudders.

    “Because I go ‘I did that?’ I can’t believe it,” he said. “I don’t normally watch highlights of myself but when I do, I go ‘Holy sh-t, what the hell was I thinking?’

    “When your aggressiveness is there, you don’t even recognize how you use your head,” Ferrone said. “Other than your hands, it’s probably your No. 1 weapon in the game of football.”

    As an offensive lineman, Ferrone said his head was taking punishment on virtually every play.

    “A running back might not get the ball or a receiver might catch six or seven balls and get tackled and that’s the extent of a great game,” said Ferrone. “Whereas, 60 or 70 offensive plays or however many offensive plays there were in a game, on 98 per cent of those plays as an offensive lineman you were hitting something.

    “And if you weren’t, you weren’t going to be on the team much longer.”

    Ferrone says he was diagnosed with one or two concussions, but suspects now he may have had as many as 10.

    “Do I remember having nausea? Yes,” he said. “Do I remember having the spins or not being able to stand or practice the next day? Yes.

    “Back then the remedy was to stay in a dark room,” he said. “But then when practice started, you had to come out and watch practice.

    “I can remember twice, once in college, once in the pros, that I had trouble standing and watching practice.

    “The concussions were something that could actually give you a break during the week,” he added. “You wouldn’t practice so you didn’t have to hit the rest of the week, so that was always a blessing.”

    Ferrone said he hasn’t experienced symptoms of depression or irritability and calls himself “a happy person.”

    “I don’t think I worry more than any other person,” said Ferrone.

    “The scenario of walking into a room and forgetting why you walked into a room is shared by many of my friends that never played any sport,” he said. “The issue that I fear is walking into a room and not knowing where that room is.”

    “Today, I’m confident that I’m not worse for wear but that could change very quickly.”

    It was just the second game of Bob MacDonald’s university football career when he suffered his only diagnosed concussion.

    He was an 18-year-old offensive lineman for McMaster during the 1986 season and lined up opposite him was a University of Guelph defender he describes as “giganto” — 6-foot-7 and 285 pounds.

    “I went out to cut him and I took his knee right to the side of my head,” said MacDonald. “I dropped and as I started to get up on my hands and knees and raised my head, everything was blue and green. It was just bizarre.

    “I started walking toward the bench and the guy who was playing guard beside me said ‘Bobby, where are you going?’ I said ‘I’m going to the bench.’ He said ‘We’re the other way.’”

    MacDonald played the second half of the game, but he doesn’t remember anything about it.

    After the game, he went back to his parents’ house in Burlington and spent most of the next day, a Sunday, vomiting.

    “But then Monday, I strapped them back on and was back at practice,” said MacDonald.

    Back then, MacDonald said, he was taught to employ three points of contact — punch out with two hands, and then he taps the middle of his forehead, “right here, where your cage and your helmet meet.”

    “I would try to knock snot out of my nose every single contact,” he said. “If I saw snot on my face mask, I thought ‘that’s fantastic.’

    “It’s craziness.”

    MacDonald, now a teacher at Saltfleet Secondary School, is also one of the coaches of the football team.

    He admits he’s really struggling with that role, particularly now that he has participated in this project.

    “It’s a real moral conundrum,” he said. “This might be the final straw.

    “When there are big hits, I’m almost triggered off, like a PTSD response,” MacDonald said. “Like, ‘Oh my God, what just happened to that kid’s brain?’”

    A retired Argonaut receiver, now in his 50s, spent 16 years playing football, starting at age 11, and he admits he now has concerns about the future.

    (As part of the research project protocol, participants were guaranteed anonymity if desired.)

    “Some of it may be natural aging of the brain, but a lot of it I’m wondering ‘Would I be forgetting this? Would I be acting this way if it wasn’t for football?’” he said.

    He was never diagnosed with a concussion, but he does recall a couple of times when he suffered short-term blackouts from hits.

    “Back in those days, you weren’t really seen by medical staff or kept out of play for long,” he said. “The old ‘How many fingers am I holding up?’ and then you’re back in within a few minutes.

    “I can’t even count the number of times where I had impacts where I didn’t necessarily black out, but you’re dazed and just kind of shake it off and get back in the huddle.

    “It was part of the culture,” he said. “The whole peer thing, the whole macho thing.”

    The player said he refused to allow his children to play football, and if he could turn back the clock, he probably wouldn’t have played either.

    “Had we known this information back when we were playing or thinking of playing, that would have changed a lot of our minds and certainly our parents’ minds,” he said.

    “What parent would want to have their kid participating in a sport where there’s a near certainty of having a brain injury if they played for a number of years?”

    It was 1975 and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Rodgers, the “ordinary superstar” as he described himself, was electrifying the CFL with his long punt returns.

    “So what opposition defences would do is say ‘To hell with the penalty on no yards, we’ll just take him out,’” said Don Bowman.

    That was bad news for Bowman, who was playing his rookie season in Winnipeg and ended up returning punts himself.

    He was playing in B.C. and back waiting for a punt, with his head up. A B.C. linebacker came racing at him.

    “He’s run 50 yards, he has a towel taped on his arm, so it’s kind of like a cast, and as I’m looking up for the ball, he hits me in the face with a clothesline,” Bowman recalled. “I haven’t even touched the ball yet and I’m down.

    “My face mask is broken, my nose is broken,” he said. “I’m pretty sure I was out for a bit.”

    The trainer ran out and snapped Bowman’s nose back into place with a click. He went to the sideline, cotton swabs were jammed in his nostrils and he thinks he missed one series of plays.

    Then he played the rest of the game, “spitting and swallowing blood.”

    Bowman was never diagnosed with a concussion, but he now thinks in hindsight he may have suffered between six and 10 of them at all levels of football.

    As the interview concludes, Bowman asks a small favour.

    Despite the startling results from the Spectator’s concussion project, despite the damage he may have sustained from the violence of the game, he doesn’t want to be portrayed as being anti-football.

    He’s happy with the choices he’s made and he’s happy with his life.

    “The reality is, you make your decisions and they come with consequences — some good, some bad,” he said. “How you handle them is up to you.

    “You had a chance to excel at something you dreamed about doing and you made it. That’s pretty cool.

    “Out of that whole thing, you developed a personality and a drive or a discipline that helped you do other things in your life,” he added. “So why would you change all that?”

    Jokingly — maybe half joking — Rocky DiPietro says he’s going to post the findings of the Spectator’s concussion project on the fridge so then he can just point to it the next time he forgets something.

    The results, though, are no laughing matter, he admits.

    “Even though you hear about on the radio and read it in the paper, it’s still surprising to see the facts in front of you,” he said. “I didn’t know it was that bad.

    “If you knew the results would you do it all over again? I don’t know,” he said. “But it’s certainly sobering to see all the facts in front of you and know that there’s something to it.”

    DiPietro played 14 seasons, all with Hamilton, and became one of the CFL’s best-ever receivers. Despite absorbing hundreds of punishing hits, DiPietro thinks he managed to escape the sport relatively unscathed.

    “I’d like to look at the positive and think that maybe I’m one of the people who wasn’t affected too much, but I guess I don’t really know,” said DiPietro.

    “I think about it more and more,” he said. “You’re always questioning.

    “If I forget something is there more to it? But I also realize that I’m aging, too.”

    Like Morreale, DiPietro says he was never diagnosed with a concussion. Looking back, he now thinks he may have suffered as many as a dozen.

    “I had my head dinged quite a few times,” he said. “I never really lost consciousness but there were a few times I saw stars and saw black, or getting up wobbly because your head was kind of spinning.”

    For him, the expression “getting your bell rung” was accurate.

    “Hearing the bells, oh yeah,” he said. “Hearing that pitch and then just trying to shake it off as fast as you could and get back to the huddle.”

    DiPietro coached high school football for many years and he still enjoys watching the game, but it bothers him when he sees a violent collision on the field.

    “You get that feeling back when someone gets hit really bad,” he said. “When two guys collide, it kind of brings back some of those memories.

    “You kind of know almost what they’re feeling and it’s not a good thing. Especially now with slow motion — you can see the impact.

    “And I think TV likes that,” he added. “They like the viewers to see that.”

    A year and a half ago, Marv Allemang, 64, was watching Super Bowl 50 when they marched out all of the previous MVPs from Super Bowls past.

    “I remember saying ‘Hey, I’ve got something in common with all those Super Bowl MVPs — we all walk the same,’” Allemang said. “Everybody hobbled out there almost, or tried not to show it.”

    Allemang spent 14 seasons in the CFL, half of them with the Tiger-Cats. He then went on to have a second career as a firefighter, a profession that carries a different set of risks than football.

    “I feel blessed to have been able to be a professional football player and a professional firefighter,” he said, “but you also have to be aware that those are occupations that have side effects and dangers.”

    Allemang said he was never diagnosed with a concussion, but believes he may have suffered a couple from football. He says he was fortunate to have never lost consciousness on the field, but he does remember having headaches.

    “Sometimes I would think it was from wearing my helmet too tight but who knows?” he said. “I’d have headaches and sometimes a bruise on the outside of my skull from the helmet.”

    Allemang admits he worries about what the future holds for him but he tries not to dwell on it.

    “It’s not something I’m depressed about and it doesn’t really affect my mental state,” he said.

    “You ask yourself honestly ‘Would you still do it?’ and if the answer is yes, then you’ve just got to accept it.

    “That’s the decision you made and you go with it,” he added.

    Bob Macoritti, 66, remembers he had just booted a kickoff and was running down the field.

    It was the mid-’70s and he was playing for the Saskatchewan Roughriders against Winnipeg, his former team. One of his friends was on the field for the Bombers.

    “He comes by me and goes ‘Boo’ and he just keeps running by,” Macoritti said. “I’m thinking ‘OK, he didn’t hit me, that’s good.’”

    Then the play changed direction and Macoritti turned to get in position to make a tackle.

    “Well, he’s come from behind me and he’s waiting for me and as I turn, he just lays me right out,” said Macoritti. “Blindsided me.

    “The guys had a good laugh at me going ass over tea kettle on the film.

    “He hit me so hard that my insides felt like they were moving around, like they weren’t part of me, for about three or four days,” he said. “I’ve never felt that before or since.”

    Macoritti thinks he’s had three other concussions — two as a kid and one when he was on the field lacrosse team at university.

    “It was a three-hour bus ride back to the university throwing up the whole way,” he said.

    “They dropped me off in the hospital and I was in the hospital for five days.”

    Like other players, he says he now has some concerns about his short-term memory.

    “I’ll get up and go to do something and in the middle of it ‘What was I going to do?’” he said.

    “Don’t even give me your phone number because I won’t remember it. Names are tough.

    “But I think I’m still functional,” Macoritti said. “Sometimes it’s difficult to ascertain if your injuries are causing this or if it’s just the normal process of aging.”

    Would he do it again? There’s a pause.

    “Ummm … ahhh … it offered me a lot of opportunities,” he hesitates, then tears begin to flow.

    “I don’t know,” Macoritti said, wiping his eyes. “It’s one of the issues I have — I’ve become very emotional. Overly emotional.

    “And I know that can be one of the effects of concussions, an imbalance of your emotions.”

    After a horrid 2-16 season the year before, Mike Morreale and the 1998 edition of the Tiger-Cats suddenly found themselves among the CFL’s elite.

    It was the first year in Hamilton for quarterback Danny McManus and receiver Darren Flutie and with three games to go in the regular season, the Ticats were trying to clinch first place in the East Division.

    They were playing in Saskatchewan and it was second down and 22 yards to go. As luck would have it, Morreale was about 20 yards shy of having 1,000 yards in receptions for the season.

    “Danny threw kind of a line drive over the middle and I went up to get it, left my feet and before my feet could touch the ground, I took a shot in the face,” said Morreale.

    He hung on to the ball, jumped up and stretched out his arm to signal first down.

    “Holy, I didn’t know where I was,” he said. “I could have pointed the other direction — I just happened to land in the proper direction.

    “It’s one of the most hellacious hits I ever took in the head.”

    But there were also lots of random hits, he said, that hurt just as much — a forearm to the face mask, a knee to the temple during a pileup, or his helmet bouncing off the turf during a tackle.

    “The back of the head was always the most painful for me because instantly you’d see stars,” said Morreale. “Everything goes dark and you just kind of shake it off.

    “Can you imagine? Shaking off a brain injury? That’s what you’d do.

    “It’s crazy,” he said. “How do you shake off something that’s already shook in the first place?”

    Now, Morreale says he can’t go on roller-coasters, he can’t spin his daughter around and he doesn’t like anything that involves a lot of motion.

    “There’s a lot of things I can’t do because they make me feel nauseous, so I just avoid them,” he said. “What does the future hold? I don’t know.”

    And yet despite all the “hellacious” hits, despite his estimate he suffered a concussion per game, if someone gave him a chance to strap on the pads again for one more series of plays on the field, Morreale says he’d be tempted to say yes.

    “Physically, I think I could manage one series,” he said. “But that one hit I take could ruin my life.

    “That’s scary,” he said. “Because I think I have a lot of life ahead of me.”

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    MEXICO CITY—Mexico “won’t accept anything that goes against our dignity as a nation,” its president said Saturday, a direct barb against Donald Trump’s repeated denigration of Mexican immigrants, threats against NAFTA and promises to have Mexico pay for a wall between the two countries.

    In the annual state of the union address, Enrique Pena Nieto defended free trade and said North American Free Trade Agreement must be strengthened. A second round of talks between Canadian, U.S. and Mexican trade negotiators to update the accord began on Friday in Mexico City, and will continue through Tuesday. Trump, who as a presidential candidate met with Pena Nieto in Mexico, again this week threatened to tear the deal up.

    “The relationship with the new government of the United States, like any other nation, must be based on irrevocable principles: sovereignty, defence of the national interest and protection of our migrants,” Pena Nieto said.

    “We won’t accept anything that goes against our dignity as a nation,” he told a crowd of politicians and the country’s elite gathered at the National Palace, who rose at that point to deliver the most vigorous standing ovation of his address.

    NAFTA is a necessary vehicle to integrate the region, Pena Nieto said.

    “The negotiating team has precise instructions to participate in this process with seriousness, good faith and a constructive spirit,” he said, “always putting first the interest of Mexico while reaching for a result where all three countries win.”

    On Saturday, Trump said he would discuss with his advisers this week whether to withdraw from a trade deal with South Korea that he has also long criticized. Such a move could stoke economic tensions with a U.S. ally at a time both countries confront a crisis over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

    If Trump withdraws from NAFTA, Mexico, which is Latin America’s second-largest economy, has indicated it would pull out as well.

    Among the thorny issues negotiators are dealing with are what are called rules of origin, which set what percentage of parts in goods need to come from NAFTA countries in order to get tariff breaks, according to a schedule.

    Trump seeks higher U.S. content in goods like automobiles made in Mexico.

    Pena Nieto defended free market reforms passed on his watch and also took a jab at the candidate who leads in polls to succeed him in June 2018 presidential elections: leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who has espoused more statist, nationalist positions such as building more government refineries to replace U.S. imports of gasoline.

    “There are visible risks of going backward,” Pena Nieto said.

    “Mexico has not faced such a decisive and determinative crossroads in years,” he said, adding that the country must choose whether to continue down the path of trade and economic liberalization “or surrender to a model from the past that has failed.”

    Pena Nieto also called for Mexico to redouble efforts against violence, saying that restoring peace to the country is the biggest demand of society and top priority of his government.

    After falling in the first years of his administration, the rate of killings is on the rise again. That requires improvement in security forces at the local level across the country, Pena Nieto said. He urged the Mexican Congress to pass an overhaul to turn 1,800 local police forces into 32 state units, an initiative that has been stalled for years, saying Mexico can’t depend on federal forces to permanently provide security in towns and municipalities.

    “We still have much to do,” Pena Nieto said. “Today, a great part of homicides aren’t related to organized crime but with common crimes, for which states and municipalities are responsible. It’s imperative that we address this weakness and the historical lags that exist in our local security forces.”

    Homicides have soared this year, reaching the highest rate this century, as drug cartels spar over trafficking routes. The drug war has also spread to top beach resorts like Cancun and Los Cabos, triggering a U.S. State Department travel advisory for both resorts and endangering a tourism industry that generates $25 billion (Cdn) annually.

    The president’s reference to the spiralling violence signals the severity of the problem, and its likely importance in the upcoming presidential election to choose his successor next July.

    Although the Pena Nieto administration is credited with passing key economic reforms that have ended the state’s oil monopoly and triggered a plunge in prices for mobile-phone service, its record on security has been widely criticized. Successes at taking down drug kingpins like Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman may have only backfired by triggering bloody battles among traffickers fighting to replace them.

    The Mexican president also voiced his support for immigrants illegally brought to the U.S. as children. Trump plans to announce on Tuesday whether he’ll scrap protections for them as he comes under new pressure from top congressional Republicans and hundreds of business leaders to keep the program. The young immigrants are known as “Dreamers” after a proposal to shield them from deportation.


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    A man in his twenties is dead after a shooting in Etobicoke Saturday night.

    Toronto police said the man was shot at around 8:48 p.m. near Tandridge Cres., and Arcot Blvd., near Braeburn Woods Day Care Centre.

    Paramedics said the man was pronounced dead on scene.

    Const. Caroline de Kloet said police received multiple calls for gunshots around that time.

    There is no information on suspects.

    Anyone with information about this shooting is asked to contact police at 416-808-2300 or Crime Stoppers at 416-222-8477.


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    WASHINGTON—An upbeat Donald Trump landed Saturday morning in Houston to get a firsthand look at a flooded and mud-choked metropolis devastated by Hurricane Harvey’s record rainfall and storm surge, declaring himself “very happy” with rescue and recovery efforts.

    The U.S. president was in an optimistic, nearly exuberant mood during a stop at the NRG Center, a convention building converted into a temporary shelter housing 1,200 children and adults displaced by the waters. Touring the facility with television cameras in tow, Trump threw his arms around storm survivors — and they hugged him back — while posing for selfies and hoisting one young girl in his arms.

    “There’s a lot of love. As tough as it’s been, it’s been a wonderful thing to watch,” Trump said before heading into a room where he handed out cardboard boxes with hot dogs and potato chips to residents. “I’m going to do a little bit of help over here.”

    Trump, making his second trip to the region in the past week, also visited with emergency responders and others in Lake Charles, La., who helped during Harvey.

    At a Louisiana guard armoury, Trump thanked the emergency responders for their efforts.

    The trip to Houston and southwestern Louisiana, both of which were affected by Harvey, was part of an effort by the White House to highlight Trump’s empathy and personal connection with people in the region, after he was criticized for not meeting with hurricane survivors during his visit Tuesday.

    The president, wearing a broad smile and a blue windbreaker with the presidential seal Saturday, said shelter residents had given the recovery effort, and him, good reviews. “They’re really happy with what’s going on,” he told the reporters. “It’s something that’s been very well received. Even by you guys, it’s been very well received.”

    He added, “Have a good time, everybody!”

    Floodwaters are receding, and Mayor Sylvester Turner of Houston declared his city, the fourth largest in the U.S., “open for business.”

    Still, many Houston streets remain more than a metre underwater after being pelted by 125 centimetres of rain over the past week. An estimated 100,000 houses have been damaged or destroyed, with tens of thousands of displaced residents seeking shelter in local schools, in government buildings or on the couches of friends and neighbours lucky enough to live on higher ground.

    The reaction inside the shelter to Trump’s visit was mostly positive, with a quieter undercurrent of anxiety and skepticism.

    “Is he going to help? Can he help?” asked Devin Harris, 37, a construction worker. “I lost my home. My job is gone. My tools are gone. My car is gone. My life is gone. What is Trump going to do?”

    During his visit to Texas on Tuesday, the president met with emergency management officials in storm-brushed Corpus Christi and Austin, but he kept clear of nearby Rockport and other areas that bore the brunt of the storm, saying he did not want to interfere with early rescue and recovery efforts.

    A few days later, by contrast, Vice-President Mike Pence met storm victims when he joined Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas in clearing fallen tree branches and other debris on the Gulf Coast.

    On Saturday, Trump visited with families at the NRG Center, part of a complex that is home to the Houston Texans of the NFL. He chatted with parents and bent down to play with a few young children drawn to the president and his bustling entourage of Secret Service agents and camera-toting journalists.

    “I’m a Democrat. It raises the morale,” said Kevin Jason Hipolito, 37, an unemployed Houston resident who was rescued from the roof of his flooded Acura after fleeing his swamped first-floor apartment.

    “When he went to Corpus, I was like, ‘Man, he just forgot about us.’ This shows a lot of support,” Hipolito added.

    A largely supportive crowd of about 100 people waving U.S. flags and pro-Trump signs gathered outside Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base on Saturday morning to watch Air Force One land.

    But not everyone thought Trump should be making a visit — much less a second one — to an area still very much in disaster mode, where cities are still flooded, people are lining up for bottled water and homes are being evacuated.

    “This has taken a lot of resources from the emergency medical workers,” said Connie Field, 62, a retired oil accounting worker from Sugar Land, a Houston suburb, who voted for Trump. “We still need them out there.”

    Field, who waved a small U.S. flag at passing military vehicles, did not suffer any damage in the flood. She praised the flood response from local officials, especially Houston’s mayor. She said Texas did not need Trump on the ground.

    “Be at your command post,” she said. “The police need to be out watching these neighbourhoods.”

    White House officials, acutely conscious of such criticism, greenlighted Saturday’s trip after being given assurances by Texas officials that the visit would not disrupt recovery efforts, according to senior administration aides.

    The trip came hours after the administration submitted its initial hurricane recovery funding request to Congress, a $14.5-billion plan that is expected to be a down payment on a much bigger package that could exceed $100 billion, according to estimates by state and local officials.

    Trump was travelling to a region newly free of the storm’s clutches but still suffering in its wake. Flooding has knocked out the water systems of Beaumont, with a population of nearly 120,000, and local officials said they had no idea when service could be restored.

    Late Friday, a chemical fire tore through a plant near Houston, sending a huge column of thick, black, noxious smoke into a sky finally clearing of clouds after days of rain.


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    BALTIMORE—The Blue Jays won a game but lost a starter on a rainy Saturday, when Marcus Stroman was forced out of a 7-2 win over the Orioles early after taking a line drive to the elbow.

    Kevin Pillar’s solo home run to right field broke a scoreless deadlock in the fifth inning — and ended a string of 18 scoreless innings going back to Thursday — before the Jays added a couple more homers: a no-doubt three-run dinger to left field by Josh Donaldson in the seventh and a two-run shot by Darwin Barney in the eighth.

    But the concern came well before the power outburst, when Stroman exited the game in the second inning with a right elbow contusion.

    Stroman retired five of six batters before coming up against Baltimore’s Mark Trumbo. The designated hitter’s hit came off the bat at 107.5 miles per hour, according to Statcast, and deflected off the outside of the right hander’s pitching elbow.

    Stroman immediately dropped to the ground and rolled off the mound, writhing in pain. Preliminary X-rays taken during the game were negative for any broken bones. Stroman is considered day to day.

    “It’s just scary, right at first,” Stroman said. “Trumbo hits the ball unbelievably hard. It just caught me right on my elbow, so obviously you panic . . . It just felt like my arm exploded. It's a 108-mile-per-hour line drive.”

    Stroman said he felt better once he realized he still had strength in his wrist and hand. He even lobbied bench coach DeMarlo Hale, filling in for manager John Gibbons, to let him take a couple warm-up pitches. But his arm was already swollen and bruising, so Hale opted to play it safe.

    “He wasn’t getting that far,” Hale said. “I understand he’s a competitor; that’s what we love about Stro. Maybe if he got hit somewhere else but, in my experience, when you get hit on the arm you better be cautious.”

    That meant another busy night for a bullpen that put in six innings Friday. In came left-hander Matt Dermody, who allowed just one hit over 2 1/3 innings, followed by right-hander Luis Santos, making his big-league debut. Toronto added the 26-year-old Dominican to the roster on Saturday while designating one-time rotation fill-in Nick Tepesch for assignment.

    Santos, a starter with the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons this year, went 3 1/3 innings, allowing one run on two hits while striking out three.

    Hale called it another outstanding performance by the bullpen.

    “Can’t say enough of what these guys did, keeping this team, with the offence that (the Orioles) have and . . . the game relatively close until we had a couple of good innings,” he said.

    Those started with Pillar’s career-high 14th homer in the top of the fifth, meaning Santos arrived with a one-run lead. Kendrys Morales cashed in Steve Pearce in the next inning with a sacrifice fly. The leadoff hitter had reached third base with a walk and back-to-back singles from Donaldson and Justin Smoak, who returned to the lineup after three days off with a sore right calf.

    Donaldson opened up a 5-0 lead with his 15th long ball in the past 33 games. That scored Darwin Barney, who had doubled to left field, and Luke Maile, on first after getting hit by a pitch.

    Barney added a two-run shot to left field in the eighth inning.

    Orioles right fielder Seth Smith hit a solo home run off Santos to get Baltimore on the board, and Tim Mayza gave up an RBI single to Trumbo in the final inning.

    Following the game, Stroman said Stroman said he had never been hit by a comebacker that high up. “Definitely lucky and thankful for how it all played out.”

    And he was already looking forward to his return to the mound.

    “I’ll be good. I’ll lobby to try and get back out there on Wednesday, to be honest with you, being that I only threw 30 some pitches. But if not, I’ll be back out there on Friday.”


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    SEOUL—North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspected a new “super explosive” hydrogen bomb meant to be loaded into an intercontinental ballistic missile, Pyongyang’s state media said Sunday, a claim to technological mastery that some outside experts will doubt but that raises the possibility of an imminent nuclear bomb test.

    Photos released by North Korea showed Kim talking with his lieutenants as he observed a silver, peanut-shaped device that was apparently the purported thermonuclear weapon destined for an ICBM. What appeared to be the nose cone of a missile could also be seen near the alleged bomb in one picture, which could not be independently verified and which was taken without outside journalists present. Another photo showed a diagram on the wall behind Kim of a bomb mounted inside a cone.

    Aside from the factuality of the North’s claim, the language in its statement seems a strong signal that Pyongyang will soon conduct another nuclear weapon test, which is crucial if North Korean scientists are to fulfil the national goal of an arsenal of viable nuclear ICBMs that can reach the U.S. mainland. There’s speculation that such a test could come on or around the Sept. 9 anniversary of North Korea’s national founding, something it did last year.

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    As part of the North’s weapons work, Kim was said by his propaganda mavens to have made a visit to the Nuclear Weapons Institute and inspected a “homemade” H-bomb with “super explosive power” that “is adjustable from tens kiloton to hundreds (of) kiloton,” the state run Korean Central News Agency said.

    North Korea in July conducted its first ICBM tests, part of a stunning jump in progress for the country’s nuclear and missile program since Kim rose to power following his father’s death in late 2011. The North followed its two tests of ICBMs, which, when perfected, could target large parts of the United States, by threatening to launch a salvo of its Hwasong-12 intermediate range missiles toward the U.S. Pacific island territory of Guam in August.

    It flew a Hwasong-12 over northern Japan last week, the first such overflight by a missile capable of carrying nukes, in a launch Kim described as a “meaningful prelude” to containing Guam, the home of major U.S. military facilities, and more ballistic missile tests targeting the Pacific.

    Vipin Narang, an MIT professor specializing in nuclear strategy, said it’s important to note that North Korea was only showing a mockup of a two-stage thermonuclear device, or H-bomb. “We won’t know what they have until they test it, and even then there may be a great deal of uncertainty depending on the yield and seismic signature and any isotopes we can detect after a test,” he said.

    To back up its claims to nuclear mastery, such tests are vital. The first of its two atomic tests last year involved what Pyongyang claimed was a sophisticated hydrogen bomb; the second it said was its most powerful atomic detonation ever.

    It is almost impossible to independently confirm North Korean statements about its highly secret weapons program. South Korean government officials said the estimated explosive yield of last year’s first test was much smaller than what even a failed hydrogen bomb detonation would produce. There was speculation that North Korea might have detonated a boosted fission bomb, a weapon considered halfway between an atomic bomb and an H-bomb.

    It is clear, however, that each new missile and nuclear test gives the North invaluable information that allows big jumps in capability. A key question is how far North Korea has gotten in efforts to consistently shrink down nuclear warheads so they can fit on long-range missiles.

    “Though we cannot verify the claim, (North Korea) wants us to believe that it can launch a thermonuclear strike now, if it is attacked. Importantly, (North Korea) will also want to test this warhead, probably at a larger yield, to demonstrate this capability,” said Adam Mount, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.

    North Korea is thought to have a growing arsenal of nuclear bombs and has spent decades trying to perfect a multistage, long-range missile to eventually carry smaller versions of those bombs.

    South Korea’s main spy agency has previously asserted that it does not think Pyongyang currently has the ability to develop miniaturized nuclear weapons that can be mounted on long-range ballistic missiles. Some experts, however, think the North may have mastered this technology.

    The White House said that President Donald Trump spoke with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan regarding “ongoing efforts to maximize pressure on North Korea.” The statement did not say whether the conversation came before or after the North's latest claim.

    A long line of U.S. presidents has failed to check North Korea’s persistent pursuit of missiles and nuclear weapons. Six-nation negotiations on dismantling North Korea’s nuclear program in exchange for aid fell apart in early 2009.

    The North said in its statement Sunday that its H-bomb “is a multi-functional thermonuclear nuke with great destructive power which can be detonated even at high altitudes for super-powerful EMP (electromagnetic pulse) attack according to strategic goals.”

    Kim, according to the statement, claimed that “all components of the H-bomb were homemade . . . thus enabling the country to produce powerful nuclear weapons as many as it wants.”

    In what could be read as a veiled warning of more nuclear tests, Kim underlined the need for scientists to “dynamically conduct the campaign for successfully concluding the final-stage research and development for perfecting the state nuclear force” and “set forth tasks to be fulfilled in the research into nukes.”

    The two Koreas have shared the world’s most heavily fortified border since their war in the early 1950s ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. About 28,500 U.S. troops are deployed in South Korea as deterrence against North Korea.


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    There’s a bit of the wide-eyed 4-year-old in Charles Pachter as he strolls down the Midway at the Canadian National Exhibition.

    Each blast of light and sound and colour from this roller-coaster or that chance to spin the wheel and win a prize stops the celebrated artist in his tracks, and it’s “Oh, I need a picture of myself with this,” or “Oh, isn’t that something?”

    It’s a trip 70 years into the past, to the summer Pachter spent at the Ex, playing the title role in the National Film Board short Johnny at the Fair.

    “I was a movie star for one year and it’s been downhill ever since,” Pachter says.

    Pachter went on to forge a career as one of Canada’s best-known pop artists, with a penchant for celebrating, and sometimes tweaking, classic Canadian iconography. The hockey player murals at College subway station are his work, as are a wide array of images of Queen Elizabeth II riding or petting a moose.

    But in 1947, he was just an energetic little kid from midtown Toronto whose aunt heard the NFB was looking for a boy to star in a movie about the Ex.

    The CNE had been closed before its 1942 season and converted into a military barracks and training ground for the rest of the Second World War. But by 1947, it was set to reopen and poised to show Canadians all the wonders of the modern, postwar world.

    To mark the Exhibition’s triumphant return, the National Film Board assembled an 11-minute film about a little boy who goes to the CNE with his parents, gets lost and winds up seeing all the wonders the Ex has to offer — in between brushes with Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, heavyweight boxing champ Joe Louis and figure skater Barbara Ann Scott, the “Wondergirl of the Ice Rinks.”

    Pachter recalls “doing somersaults and picking my nose and blowing bubble gum” at the audition.

    The producers hired him almost immediately, for a fee of $101, and Pachter’s real-life mother and father were brought in to play Johnny’s worried parents.

    Every day for two weeks that summer, Pachter ran amok at the Ex for the cameras.

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    Back in those days, Pachter says, the CNE was more like an educational fair.

    “They had all the newest things that came out,” he remembers. “The women dressed in cocktail dress and high heels and the men were in suits. The Ex now is a whole other ballgame.”

    The film’s narrator — actor Lorne Green, who went on to star in TV’s Bonanza and Battlestar Galactica— heralds glamourous new gadgets like electric typewriters, “television receivers,” plastic bathroom sinks, rear-engine cars, fireproof ironing boards and jet planes.

    There’s a “Chemical Wonderland” where scientists cook up “1,001 substances never before seen in nature.”

    Johnny sees it all, visiting the hall of mirrors, a fashion show, a speedboat race.

    Scott plants a kiss on Johnny’s cheek that the nonplussed Pachter quickly wipes off.

    “It was a dream, with all these crazy characters that I just accepted as normal at the time and I went around watching it all with great glee,” Pachter said.

    The big dramatic scene comes at the end of the film, when Johnny is led away in tears to the “Lost Children Area.”

    Except the director couldn’t get the young actor’s tears to flow.

    “My mother said, ‘I know how to make him cry,’ ” Pachter recalls, “and she picked up a hunk of mud and swatted me across the face.”

    Johnny at the Fair has, like many NFB shorts, become a kind of kitschy classic over the years, introduced to new generations in the 1990s, when an edited version was featured in an episode of the cult TV show Mystery Science Theatre 3000.

    But the moment that shaped Pachter the most ended up on the cutting room floor.

    “This eccentric old guy from northern Ontario named Joe Laflamme used to go to fairs all around North America with his pet moose,” Pachter says.

    “I can still smell the fur.”

    Years later, images of moose would become a major focus of Pachter’s art, an enduring symbol of Canadiana that dominates his work.

    “(Filming) was just a sensory blast for two whole weeks,” Pachter said.

    “It must have impacted me in a way that I wasn’t able to understand until I became much older . . . So much of it is now part of my vocabulary as an adult painter, how I spent most of my life trying to search out the Canadian psyche.”


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    Two separate and serious overnight stabbings have left two men in hospital, with one in life-threatening condition.

    The first incident occurred outside of RJ’s Grill, near Danforth Rd. and Eglinton Ave. E. in Scarborough at 2:13 a.m. Paramedics located a man in his 30s who had been stabbed multiple times. He was transported to hospital in life-threatening condition.

    Twenty minutes later, a man in his 20s was found with a stab wound in his torso in the area of College and Bathurst Sts. While details of incident are not clear, Toronto police confirmed his injuries are considered serious, and possibly life-threatening.

    Police have not released any suspect information for both stabbings. Investigations into both situations are ongoing.


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    Toronto police have identified the man who was fatally shot near an Etobicoke day care on Saturday night.

    Police say Awad Hurre, 34, of Toronto, was the man shot and killed near Braeburn Woods Day Care Centre at Tandridge Cres. and Arcot Blvd., east of Albion Rd., around 8:48 p.m.

    Gun shots were heard by several people in the area at the time of the shooting. Const. Caroline de Kloet said police received multiple calls afterward.

    When emergency services arrived, they found Hurre with gunshot wounds. He was pronounced dead on scene.

    Police are also looking for the driver of a taxi cab — believed to have spoken to Hurre minutes before the shooting — to assist with the investigation.

    Anyone with information about this shooting is asked to contact police at 416-808-2300 or Crime Stoppers at 416-222-8477.


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    Two men are dead and three others are seriously injured after a multi-vehicle collision in Vaughan on Saturday evening.

    York Regional Police said the collision occurred around 5:15 p.m. on Rutherford Rd. just east of Highway 50 and involved an Audi, a Honda CRV, and a commercial van.

    The passenger of the Audi, a 27-year-old man from London, was pronounced dead on scene and the driver was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries.

    The driver of the CRV, a 61-year-old man from Brampton, was pronounced dead in hospital, while the two passengers suffered serious injuries.

    The driver of a van was assessed for minor injuries and released.

    The road was closed past midnight for investigation.

    Inspector Dave Riches said it is currently not known what caused the collision and police are asking anyone with information to contact them.

    With files from Alexandra Jones


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    TOKYO — North Korea on Sunday claimed a “perfect success” for its most powerful nuclear test so far, a further step in the development of weapons capable of striking anywhere in the United States. President Donald Trump said the latest provocation reinforces the danger facing America and that “talk of appeasement” is pointless.

    “They only understand one thing!” Trump said in a tweet, without elaboration, as he prepared to meet later with his national security team. It was the first nuclear test since Trump took office in January.

    The precise strength of the explosion, described by state-controlled media in North Korea as a hydrogen bomb, has yet to be determined. South Korea’s weather agency said the artificial earthquake caused by the explosion was five times to six times stronger than tremors generated by the North’s previous five such tests. The impact reportedly shook buildings in China and in Russia.

    Trump warned last month that the U.S. military was “locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely” and that the U.S. would unleash “fire and fury” on the North if it continued to threaten America. The bellicose words followed threats from North Korea to launch ballistic missiles toward the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, intending to create “enveloping fire” near the military hub that’s home to U.S. bombers.

    The North’s latest test was carried out at 12:29 p.m. local time at the Punggye-ri site where it has conducted past nuclear tests. Officials in Seoul put the magnitude at 5.7; the U.S. Geological Survey said it was a magnitude 6.3. The strongest artificial quake from previous tests was a magnitude 5.3.

    “North Korea has conducted a major Nuclear Test. Their words and actions continue to be very hostile and dangerous to the United States,” Trump said in the first of a series of tweets.

    He branded North Korea “a rogue nation which has become a great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying to help but with little success.”

    China is by far the North’s biggest trading partner, but Trump appeared to be more critical of South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who has attempted to reach out to the North.

    “South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing!” Trump said.

    North Korea’s state-run television broadcast a special bulletin to announce the test and said leader Kim Jong Un attended a meeting of the ruling party’s presidium and signed the go-ahead order. Earlier, the party’s newspaper ran a front-page story showing photos of Kim examining what it said was a nuclear warhead being fitted onto the nose of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

    Sunday’s detonation builds on recent North Korean advances that include test launches in July of two ICBMs that are believed to be capable of reaching the mainland U.S. The North says its missile development is part of a defensive effort to build a viable nuclear deterrent that can target U.S. cities.

    China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the Beijing government has “expressed firm opposition and strong condemnation” and urged North Korea to “stop taking erroneous actions that deteriorate the situation.”

    South Korea held a National Security Council meeting chaired by Moon. Officials in Seoul also said Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, spoke with his South Korean counterpart for 20 minutes about an hour after the detonation.

    Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the test “absolutely unacceptable.”

    Read more:

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    Nuclear-armed N. Korea a reality to deal with: WalkomEND

    Nuclear tests are crucial to perfecting sophisticated technologies and to demonstrating to the world that claims of nuclear prowess are not merely a bluff.

    The North claimed the device it tested was a thermonuclear weapon — commonly called a hydrogen bomb. That could be hard to independently confirm. It said the underground test site did not leak radioactive materials, which would make such a determination even harder.

    At the same time, the simple power of the blast was convincing. Japan’s Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera said it might have been as powerful as 70 kilotons. North Korea’s previous largest was thought to be anywhere from 10 to 30 kilotons.

    “We cannot deny it was an H-bomb test,” Onodera said.

    North Korea conducted two nuclear tests last year and has been launching missiles at a record pace this year. It fired a potentially nuclear-capable mid-range missile over northern Japan last week in response to ongoing U.S.-South Korea military exercises.

    It said that launch was the “curtain raiser” for more activity to come.

    Just before Sunday’s test, according to state media, Kim and the other senior leaders at the party presidium meeting discussed “detailed ways and measures for containing the U.S. and other hostile forces’ vicious moves for sanctions.”

    The photos released earlier showed Kim talking with his lieutenants as he observed a silver, peanut-shaped device that the state-run media said was designed to be mounted on the North’s “Hwasong-14” ICBM.

    The North claims the device was made domestically and has explosive power that can range from tens to hundreds of kilotons. For context, the bomb dropped on Hiroshima by the U.S. had a 15-kiloton yield.

    North Korea’s recent activity has been especially bold.

    The North followed its two ICBM tests by announcing a plan to fire intermediate range missiles toward Guam. Kim signed off on the plan, but is watching the moves by the U.S. before deciding when or whether to carry it out.

    Guam is a sore point for the North because it is home to a squadron of B-1B bombers that the North fears could be used to attack their country. The U.S. on Thursday had sent the bombers and F-35 stealth fighters to the sky over South Korea in a show of force — and North Korea strongly protested.

    Options to pressure Pyongyang would appear to be limited. Further economic and trade sanctions, increased diplomatic pressure and boosting military manoeuvers or shows of force would likely all be on the table.

    The two Koreas have shared the world’s most heavily fortified border since their war in the early 1950s ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. About 28,500 American troops are deployed in South Korea as deterrence against North Korea.


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    The majority of homes in the Annex and Rosedale neighbourhoods are still without power after an outage that started around 6 a.m.

    Of the 7,000 homes originally impacted, Toronto Hydro said about 850 customers in the area have had power restored. They are still hoping to get power back to all customers by 1 p.m.

    The hydro distribution company, which serves over 750,000 customers in the Toronto area, tweeted the outage ranges from Mount Pleasant Rd. west to Ossington Ave., and from College St. north to St. Clair Ave.

    Toronto Hydro said the cause of the outage is not yet known.


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    Motorists are getting some relief at the pumps after gas prices saw an average two-cent decrease on Sunday.

    As of Sunday morning, the average gas price in Toronto is at $1.30, down from $1.329 on Saturday. Drivers saw a nine-cent increase a litre on Saturday due to the continuing price surge in the wake of Hurricane Harvery.

    Prices are expected to hover around the $1.30 until Thursday, said petroleum analyst Dan McTeague.

    Major gasoline refineries in the U.S. were shut down by Harvey, which also caused the temporary shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline — what McTeague calls the “aortic artery” of gasoline transportation for the U.S. Atlantic Coast.

    In Canada, prices are also affected by a lack of competition among gasoline wholesalers and taxes, McTeague said. It could be two to three weeks before refineries are up and running again.

    As of 9:30 a.m., here are the Toronto pumps with the cheapest gas, according to torontogasprices.com:

    • Go-Go Gas Bar, 483 Sammon Ave. – $1.089

    • Global 331 Sammon Ave. - $1.159

    • XTR, 875 The Queensway - $1.198

    • Esso, 4660 Kingston Rd. - $1.199

    • Costco, 1411 Warden Ave. - $1.209

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    From Queen’s Park, they face outwards down University Ave.

    Elevated above the path walked daily by Ontario politicians, the historic statues look down with steely eyes. They have done so for decades. Down the road, at city hall, there are even more of the figures.

    The impact of such statues has been the subject of growing debate in recent weeks. An argument over Confederate statues in the United States took a bloody turn in Charlottesville, Va., recently, when a white nationalist drove into a crowd of counter-protestors, killing one of them, 32-year-old Heather Heyer.

    Closer to home came a call from the Ontario teachers union to remove the name of John A. Macdonald, the first prime minister of Canada, from schools.

    On a recent afternoon, Adam Bunch, who is writing a book about Toronto’s history, sat on the steps of Queen’s Park to talk about some of the complex legacies the city’s statues immortalize in metal and stone.

    (Bunch penned a string of tweets that garnered substantial attention, as he provided commentary on the historical context of some of the city’s monuments.)

    “Their stories are more complicated than just putting a person on a pedestal and adding a little plaque with a date would suggest,” he said.

    John Graves Simcoe

    “John Graves Simcoe is over there behind the trees,” said Bunch as he gestured from Queen’s Park’s front steps. Tucked behind foliage, the inaugural lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada and founder of Toronto leans jauntily on a walking stick, a sash around his waist and hat tucked under-arm.

    Simcoe, to Bunch, is “a good example of how complicated things get when you start to dig (into things).”

    Although Simcoe was an abolitionist who worked tirelessly to eliminate slavery in the province, he later took command of British troops in Haiti, fighting against the slave uprising of the Haitian Revolution.

    Simcoe didn’t free any existing slaves with his Act Against Slavery. It prohibited new slaves being brought into Upper Canada, but also kept existing slaves in captivity for the remainder of their lives, with their children enslaved until they reached age 25.

    Shannon McDeez, the organizer of the Toronto Unity Rally and a fellow at the University of Toronto, pointed out that Simcoe’s contributions certainly have a place in Canadian history.

    But she believes the monument is better suited to a museum than a public space.

    “Art or statues in a public space should be non-partisan for the benefit of all of the community,” said McDeez, who added that giving citizens the chance to learn about figures of Canada’s political past on their own time would avoid hurtful histories being forced upon minority groups on a daily basis.

    Historical figures aren’t either heroes or villains, she said, they have nuances, and can be capable of both beautiful and terrible acts. “What if someone wanted to erect a statue of (Stephen) Harper? What if someone wanted to erect a statue of Rob Ford?”

    “Public space is not the place for partisan art.”

    George Brown

    On a tall, dowel-like platform by the Queen’s Park front steps, George Brown reaches out his hand and steps forward, just inching off his pedestal.

    “Father of Confederation, founder of the Globe newspaper,” Bunch said. “He passionately supported and did work on behalf of turning Toronto into a relatively safe haven at the end of the Underground Railroad.”

    Although Brown fought for Black rights, he espoused hatred towards Irish Catholics.

    “He said horrible things about them, and used the Globe as a propaganda machine to incite hatred against Irish Catholics,” Bunch said. One column from the time read that “Irish beggars are to be met everywhere, and they are ignorant and vicious as they are poor.”

    Notwithstanding his prejudice, some members of Toronto’s present-day Irish community do not object to the statue.

    “I think he was a product of his time,” said Sandra McKeown, who emigrated from Ireland in 2002 and is the founder of the Irish Association of Toronto. Given Brown’s involvement in Canadian politics, a commemoration of his work belongs at Queen’s Park, she said.

    “You cannot rewrite history by removing statues. We should remember history and learn from it, instead of pretending it never happened.

    “True progress is being able to accept the past.”

    James Whitney

    “That’s James Whitney,” said Bunch, pointing to an imposing statue to the right of the steps. As if to steady himself, Whitney leans on a cloth-draped pedestal to one side, and reaches out a hand in front of him.

    Whitney, the sixth premier of Ontario, came into office in 1905 and stayed for nearly 10 years. His work in securing the public ownership of hydro utilities was a “very big moment,” Bunch said.

    But Whitney’s legacy, too, is tinged by prejudice; in 1912, he passed a regulation prohibiting teachers in elementary schools from speaking to students in French beyond Grade 2.

    In 2016, Kathleen Wynne issued a formal apology for the decision, which she called a “wound” on Ontario’s francophone community.

    Michel Prévost, chief archivist for the University of Ottawa, called Whitney’s actions “traumatic” for the Franco-Ontarian community.

    But he doesn’t believe the statue should be moved.

    “People know less about history if it’s in museums,” he said, explaining that passing a monument on a daily commute piques curiosity and conversation.

    “He is part of the history of Ontario.”

    In February this year, the Ontario government announced a monument dedicated to the francophone community will appear alongside Whitney as a feature of the Queen’s Park grounds in early 2018.

    Winston Churchill

    “Churchill is down at city hall, and he’s a pretty good example,” Bunch said. The British prime minister is revered as a great political leader and vanquisher of Nazis during the Second World War.

    Churchill also had a vested affection for Canada, which he declared freely.

    “He’s celebrated for good reason,” Bunch said.

    “But his story is deeply woven into colonialism and the empire and fighting wars against Indigenous people around the world, which he certainly revelled in.”

    Churchill once went so far as to state his strong favour towards using “poisoned gas against uncivilized tribes.”

    He also called the inhabitants of India, then a British colony, a “beastly people with a beastly religion.”

    The bronze installation outside city hall depicts a scowling Churchill, and was moved in 2014 from the south to the north side of Nathan Phillips Square. McDeez also spoke to Churchill’s contribution to colonialism, but reaffirmed that the debate shouldn’t be around statues or their merit.

    “What I do care about is if their presence is hurting fellow citizens of the city,” she said. “Then? Yeah, we should have a discussion about it.”

    What now?

    Bunch believes that a certain clenched-teeth approach to the statue debate comes from a feeling some people may have that their heritage is being eclipsed.

    “For a long time, only one side has had a voice and I imagine (they) feel threatened when anyone else wants to share the platform,” he said.

    A statue freezes time, and reflects the values a culture or government had at the time it was erected. Difficult conversations emerge when those values have changed.

    Taking a critical look at Toronto’s statues isn’t easy, he said, nor is it all bad. “This is a place that’s had failed revolutions and plagues and war, and brave figures doing good things, too,” he said.

    But to tell the full story of the city’s history, more voices need to be heard.

    “I think the most important thing is we need to do more listening to Indigenous voices, people of colour, women’s voices,” he said. “This is a house, a legislature that belongs to all Ontarians.”


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    A group of Ontario bikers is having second thoughts about calling themselves the new Satan’s Choice Club after a harsh Facebook condemnation of their club by a senior Hells Angel.

    The new club is taking a Facebook slamming by online friends of GTA Hells Angel Donny Petersen.

    “Those who take a patch from a respected club, one that has history, courage, who has paid their dues, died, done time and all the rest . . . like what are you thinking?” Petersen himself wrote.

    “You are pretenders,” Petersen wrote.

    Petersen’s comments received resounding approval from his Facebook friends.

    The old Satan’s Choice was on the road for four decades before it ceased to exist when it was absorbed by the Hells Angels in December 2000.

    They were once the world’s second largest outlaw motorcycle club, known for their grinning devil patch and their proud Oshawa roots.

    “We’re evaluating everything,” a spokesperson for the new club said on the condition of anonymity.

    That ranges from changing the name to pulling the club off the road, the spokesperson said. He maintained that the Facebook criticism isn’t a factor.

    The comments come a few days after the new club was ridiculed online by Petersen, a longtime GTA biker.

    The Hells Angels had previously been silent about the emergence of the new club, which sprouted up in early July in the Ottawa area, where the Hells Angels shut down their clubhouse last fall.

    “THE MAN MAKES THE PATCH,” Petersen posted. “THE PATCH DOES NOT MAKE THE MAN.”

    Lorne Campbell, a longtime Satan’s Choice member, said he agreed with Petersen’s comments.

    Campbell predicted that members of the new club run the risk of public humiliation and beatings if they didn’t immediately fold and stop wearing their grinning devil patches.

    “They’ll be laughed at,” said Campbell, who was a member of the Satan’s Choice for 35 years. “They’ll be punched out. They’ll be jumped.”

    Campbell stressed that he was not threatening the new Satan’s Choice members himself — just warning them that they can expect a rocky ride from other members of the outlaw biker world if they appear in public wearing the patches.

    “It’s an insult,” Campbell said, adding that formation of the new Satan’s Choice is huge news in outlaw biker circles.

    The old club was known for frequent clashes with the law, which landed some members in prison.

    The new club planned to be law-abiding and participate in community-minded charity events, its spokesperson said.

    It has kept a low profile this summer, Det. Sgt. Len Isnor of the OPP biker squad said.

    “We’ve only had a few sightings of them,” Isnor said.

    Isnor earlier said police would be watching to make sure there isn’t a threat to the general public.

    The new club is made up of Durham- and Ottawa-area bikers.

    They moved into the Ottawa area last month and have 48 members and two “strikers” — or prospective members — the spokesperson said.

    Campbell said they can’t just put on patches modelled upon the old club. Members of the old Satan’s Choice fought — and sometimes died — because they cherished their patches and being a part of the club, he said.

    “I’ve been involved in shootings, stabbings, beatings, the whole gamut,” Campbell said.

    Campbell said he thinks the new club should hand in its patches to him and then apologize to the Hells Angels, whose members still include former Satan’s Choice members.

    “These guys can’t be proud of who they are,” Campbell said.


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    Harvey’s filthy floodwaters pose significant dangers to human safety and the environment even after water levels drop far enough that Southeast Texas residents no longer fear for their lives, according to experts.

    Houston already was notorious for sewer overflows following rainstorms. Now the system, with 40 waste water treatment plants across the far-flung metropolis, faces an unprecedented challenge.

    State officials said several dozen sewer overflows had been reported in areas affected by the hurricane, including Corpus Christi. Private septic systems in rural areas could fail as well.

    Read more:

    Houston is ‘open for business’ despite Harvey disaster, mayor says

    Post-Harvey problems still plague Texas as Trumps arrive in Houston

    Trump’s request for $7.9 billion in Harvey aid expected to be swiftly approved

    Also stirred into the noxious brew are spilled fuel, runoff from waste sites, lawn pesticides and pollutants from the region’s many petroleum refineries and chemical plants.

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported Sunday that of the 2,300 water systems contacted by federal and state regulators, 1,514 were fully operational. More than 160 systems issued notices advising people to boil water before drinking it, and 50 were shut down.

    The public works department in Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest city, said its water was safe. The system has not experienced the kind of pressure drop that makes it easier for contaminants to slip into the system and is usually the reason for a boil-water order, spokesperson Gary Norman said.

    In a statement Thursday, federal and state environmental officials said their primary concerns were the availability of healthy drinking water and “ensuring waste water systems are being monitored, tested for safety and managed appropriately.”

    About 85 per cent of Houston’s drinking water is drawn from surface sources — rivers and reservoirs, said Robin Autenrieth, head of Texas A&M University’s civil engineering department. The rest comes from the city’s 107 groundwater wells.

    “I would be concerned about what’s in the water that people will be drinking,” she said.

    The city met federal and state drinking water standards as well as requirements for monitoring and reporting, said Andrew Keese, spokesperson for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

    Keeping it that way will require stepped-up chemical treatments because of the flooding, Norman said.

    It’s prudent to pump more chlorine and other disinfectants into drinking water systems in emergencies like this, to prevent outbreaks of diseases such as cholera and dysentery, said David Andrews, senior scientist with the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization. But doing so poses its own risks, he said.

    There’s often more organic matter — sewage, plants, farm runoff — in reservoirs or other freshwater sources during heavy rains. When chlorine reacts with those substances, it forms chemicals called trihalomethanes, which can boost the risk of cancer and miscarriages, Andrews said.

    “Right now it’s a tough time to deal with that, when you’re just trying to clean the water up and make sure it’s not passing illnesses through the system,” he said. “But we should do better at keeping contamination out of source water in the first place.”

    Federal and state officials said about two-thirds of approximately 2,400 waste water treatment plants in counties affected by Harvey were fully operational. They said they were monitoring facilities with reported spills and would send teams to help operators restart systems.

    Sewage plants are particularly vulnerable during severe storms because they are located near waterways into which they can discharge treated water, said Autenrieth of Texas A&M. When they are flooded, raw or partially treated sewage can spill from pipes, open-air basins and tanks.

    A report by the non-profit research group Climate Central said more than 10 billion gallons of sewage was released along the East Coast during Superstorm Sandy.

    The Houston Chronicle reported last year that Houston averages more than 800 sewage overflows a year and is negotiating an agreement with the EPA that would require system improvements.

    Norman said Houston didn’t have a running tally of overflows during Harvey.

    “Anytime you have wet weather of this magnitude, there’s going to be a certain amount of sanitary sewage that escapes the system,” he said. “That’s one reason why we advise people to stay out of floodwaters.”

    A Texas A&M analysis of floodwater samples from the Houston area revealed levels of E. coli — bacteria that signal the presence of fecal matter — 125 times higher than is safe for swimming. Even wading through such tainted water could cause infections and sickness, said Terry Gentry, an associate professor and specialist in detecting tiny disease-producing organisms.

    “Precautions should be taken by anyone involved in cleanup activities or any others who may be exposed to floodwaters,” said a statement from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state environmental quality commission.

    They said they were developing a plan to sample residential wells.

    Hazards will remain as waters gradually recede. Puddles, tires and other spots for standing water will attract mosquitoes, which can spread viruses such as West Nile and Zika, Autenrieth said.

    Much of the dirty water will flow through rivers, creeks and bayous into Galveston Bay, renowned for its oyster reefs, abundant wildlife and seagrass meadows. Officials will need to monitor shellfish for signs of bacterial contamination, said Doug Rader, chief ocean scientist for the Environmental Defence Fund.

    The waters also may be rich with nitrogen and phosphorus, which feed algae blooms. When algae die and rot, oxygen gets sucked from the water, creating “dead zones” where large numbers of fish can suffocate.

    “You have a potential for localized dead zones in Galveston Bay for months or maybe even longer,” Rader said.

    The bay opens into the Gulf of Mexico, where a gigantic dead zone forms in summer, powered by nutrients from the Mississippi River. This year’s was the largest on record, said oceanographer Nancy Rabalais of Louisiana State University.

    Ironically, Hurricane Harvey may have done the environment at least one favour by churning the Gulf’s waters and sending an influx of oxygen from the surface to the depths. “A temporary silver lining,” Rabalais said.

    But that also happened after 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, she added. “And within a week, the low-oxygen area had redeveloped.”


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    Diana, Princess of Wales, was a good person. And look what happened to her.

    She was a wonderful parent, and beautiful, and athletic, with an esthetic sense that changed the look of an era and a talent for ambassadorship that served Great Britain well. Everything she touched she made better.

    Twenty years ago, she died horribly at age 36. Wednesday will be the anniversary of her burial.

    Diana was something of a disappointment when she was born. Since girls couldn’t inherit the estate, her parents needed a boy. Prince Charles didn’t want her after she gave birth to his male heirs. Her in-laws removed her full royal title after her divorce.

    And then there was nowhere to bury her. Her body couldn’t be placed in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle with the rest of the royals because she had been cast out. It was a blessing. It seemed too grisly to imagine her among those who had mistreated her.

    As for her birth family, the Spencer vault in a church near Althorp was too open and vulnerable for someone of her fame. So out of love and a duty of care, they put her body on a tiny island in a lake on the Althorp estate so no one could ever violate her privacy again.

    And there this dear good loving person lies, in a lead-lined coffin in an unmarked grave, never to see her children grow up, never to know her laughing grandchildren, George and Charlotte.

    Women who stick their head above the parapet should expect to lose it. It’s as true today as it was in 1997.

    Diana’s life was beautiful in some ways, nightmarish in others. Despite doing so much good — campaigning against land mines, helping change attitudes toward people with HIV — she was trapped in a horror movie.

    The 2017 American drama Get Out, about a young Black man invited for a weekend with his white girlfriend’s parents, is about a young person picking up clues, bit by bit, that he is in terrible danger. The servants are haunted and semi-frozen. It’s an echo of Diana’s experience with the royal family, full of unexplained tears, blank stares, strange tastes, imponderables.

    Did anyone whisper “get out” to Diana? Her marriage had become a trap. Her children were hostages. She feared that leaving the powerful, secretive and massively funded royal corporation would mean losing her boys.

    Monarchy seems unnatural to Canadians, and it is, post-Diana. But look at what’s on offer. Prince Charles is an awkward, stilted man whose country gave him almost unimaginable luxury but who sacrificed nothing in exchange, nothing. How did Mrs. Parker Bowles, whose virtues elude everyone but him, create this mess?

    Diana said in a filmed conversation that the Queen had been unsparing when she went to her for help after Charles returned to his mistress. “Charles is hopeless,” the Queen had told her.

    If we must have a monarchy, let’s make way for Prince William. Great Britain might get back what it lost with Diana. Never underestimate soft power. Canada has it. We have landscape to spare, a reputation for fairness, a habit of apologizing, and then the magic personal bit, which is basically Hadrien Trudeau, 3, cheerfully hopping around with his hands in his pockets.

    People matter. Temperament matters. Human warmth matters. Consider Trump. There, I’ve made my case.

    Great Britain, clumsily Brexiting, is a shadow of its former self, by which I mean the nation that saved the planet from tyranny in the Second World War.

    The core institutions, the NHS and the BBC, are starved of funds. Universities degrade and journalism withers as the EU tries to contain its laughter. Towers burn. Prime Minister Theresa May looks foolish and Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn lives in a distant era.

    It is a nation in rapid decline. Britain is the United States writ small. There is no central figure in British life once the Queen reaches her end. Diana could have been that person but she was destroyed.

    Rewatching her funeral brings the same shock I felt in 1997, with the singing of “Libera me” (“Deliver me”) from Verdi’s Requiem sounding eerily like a young woman screaming in pain.

    I’m trying to choose which particular aspect of Diana’s nature sent her to her bloody end in a Paris tunnel, almost pre-buried, with paparazzi touching her and photographing her as her torn heart flooded her with blood.

    It was her relentless hopefulness, her belief that the people who surrounded her were good. They were not.

    Her last words were, “My God, what has happened?”

    hmallick@thestar.ca


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    Labour Day always feels like the pressure is on to squeeze every last bit out of summer. It’s a most laborious way to “end” summer, with a dark cloud looming over the long weekend like being on the beach on an overcast day. The usual Sunday doldrums — or dread, depending on your situation — shift to Monday and this Tuesday becomes the Mother of all Mondays. Monday, the holiday, is a little ruined in the mix.

    What a strange and terribly confused long weekend we’ve collectively created. All that pressure distracts from the reason for the long weekend itself: to celebrate workers, the eight-hour workday and the notion of the “weekend” itself.

    The Canadian holiday can be traced back to 1872 and the Toronto Typographical Union’s printers strike that fought for a nine-hour workday. In April of that year, there was a march and 10,000 people gathered at Queen’s Park. The workers won and eventually, in 1894, Labour Day became official each September in Canada.

    Since there isn’t a particularly strong reason to celebrate labour in September, perhaps it would be better to celebrate all of what it represents on May 1 — International Workers Day — as so many other countries around the world do. Since many precarious workers work more than nine hours a day, maybe it’ll kick-start a new call for workers’ rights, without the distraction of the arbitrary and false end of summer that Labour Day currently represents. Oh, and make May 1 a holiday, too.

    Instead let’s call this fine weekend the “Two-Thirds-or-Thereabouts-Way-Through-Summer” holiday. It would be a reminder to everyone to embrace the weeks of summer to come, and respect, for once, the long-suffering autumnal equinox. How must that equinox feel on its special day, Sept. 22, when everybody is all “Oh hey, autumnal, we celebrated you three weeks ago. Sorry you weren’t there.” By its nature, the equinox is quite even-handed, so it doesn’t put up a fuss, but let’s not let it down again.

    Fall is good and great, and it will come in time. But September’s summer days are wonderful: a kinder, gentler summer without the scorching heat waves. (For now, at least. Climate change could make September the new August soon enough.) There’s less sweating, so the city smells better, transit rides are more pleasant, and we can sleep with the windows open and hear the city rather than the hum of an air conditioner. September is full of surprises too. Sometimes the temperature will dip into the teens on sunny afternoons, and people will declare Winter Is Coming! But then it’ll go back up again.

    The lake doesn’t care about any of this. It retains warmth the way subway tunnels hold heat and humidity days after a heat wave is over, and so it’s the nicest time to go for a swim. A decade or so ago, during a particularly warm Thanksgiving Day, we swam in the near-bathtub-warm lake at Hanlan’s Point as the leaves were changing colour, perhaps the most wonderful cognitive dissonance I’ve ever experienced. Somebody even brought a roast turkey to the beach.

    September summer is also summer when the city is at full force again. So much of the middle classes depart for cottages or vacations during July and August that parts of the city can feel downright deserted. But everybody’s back in town this week.

    Forget talk of the end; join the beginning of the One-Third-More-Summer movement this weekend and throughout September. Show your support by continuing not to wear socks in your shoes, leaving your coats at home even if you’re the only one and keeping your pastel-coloured clothes in rotation even if you stick out like a chalk-covered thumb. Defy the crowd. Embrace the whole season. Most of us worked through the summer so there’s no reason Tuesday should be any kind of harsher Monday. But it’s telling how impressionable the rigid school year is on us that that old-school September feeling lasts our entire lives.

    More people are remaining single and the millennials are said to be putting off having children, so there are more people unshackled from the rigour of the school year anyway.

    “Do not go gentle into that good night,” wrote Dylan Thomas. “Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

    Embrace each summer day we’ve got left, hold it tight, and then go gently into the fall when it decides to come around.

    Shawn Micallef writes weekly about where and how we live in the GTA. Wander the streets with him on Twitter @shawnmicallef


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