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Published: Sun, 25 Feb 2018 08:31:57 EST

Copyright: Copyright Toronto Star 1996-2013 ,

Pyeongchang hands off Games to Beijing after overtly political Olympics winds downPyeongchang hands off Games to Beijing after overtly political Olympics winds down

Sun, 25 Feb 2018 06:20:00 EST

PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA— The overtly political 2018 Winter Olympics closed Sunday night very much as they began, with humanity’s finest athletes marching exuberantly across the world stage as three nations with decades of war and suspicion among them shared a VIP box — and a potential path away from conflict.Senior North Korean official Kim Yong Chol, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and U.S. presidential adviser and first daughter Ivanka Trump sat in two rows of seats behind the Olympic rings, meant to represent a competition of peace and international unity. In close proximity — though with no apparent communication between Trump and Kim — they watched a spirited, elaborate show that concluded the Pyeongchang Games.Even as dancers performed cultural stories to music before a huge crowd, South Korea’s presidential office released a brief statement saying that Pyongyang had expressed willingness to hold talks with Washington.The North has “ample intentions of holding talks with the United States,” according to the office. The North’s delegation also agreed that “South-North relations and U.S.-North Korean relations should be improved together,” Moon’s office, known as the Blue House, said.International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, just before declaring the games closed, addressed the two Koreas’ co-operation at the closing ceremony, saying, “The Olympic games are an homage to the past and an act of faith for the future.”“With your joint march you have shared your faith in a peaceful future with all of us,” Bach said. “You have shown our sport brings people together in our very fragile world. You have shown how sport builds bridges.”Short-track speedskater Kim Boutin of Sherbrooke, Que., who won three medals at the Games, led the Canadian delegation into the closing ceremony. Athletes were dressed in red Canadian jackets and tuques while figure skater Kaetlyn Osmond of Marystown, N.L., hopped up on another athletes’s shoulders to get a better view of the proceedings.It was all an extraordinary bookend to an extraordinary Olympics that featured athletic excellence, surprises and unexpected lurches forward toward a new detente on the Korean Peninsula. Thrilled athletes marched into the arena around the world’s flags, relaxed after showing their athletic best to themselves and to the world.“We have been through a lot so that we could blaze a trail,” said Kim Eun-jung, skip of the South Korean women’s curling team, which captured global renown as the “Garlic Girls” — all from a garlic-producing Korean hometown. They made a good run for gold before finishing with runner-up silver.That these games would be circumscribed by politics was a given from the outset because of regional rivalries. North Korea, South Korea, Japan and China are neighbours with deep, sometimes twisted histories that get along uneasily with each other in this particular geographic cul-de-sac.But there was something more this time around. Hanging over the entire games was the saga — or opportunity, if you prefer — of a delicate diplomatic dance between the Koreas, North and South, riven by bloodshed and discord and an armed border for the better part of a century.The games started with a last-minute flurry of agreements to bring North Koreans to South Korea to compete under one combined Koreas banner. Perish the thought, some said, but Moon’s government stayed the course. By the opening ceremony, a march of North and South into the Olympic Stadium was watched by the world — and by dozens of North Korean cheerleaders applauding in calibrated synchronicity.Also watching was an equally extraordinary, if motley, crew. Deployed in a VIP box together were Moon, U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s envoy sister, Kim Yo Jong. The latter two, at loggerheads over North Korea’s nuclear program, didn’t speak, and the world[...]

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Bruce Arthur: Germany nearly pulls off its own Miracle On Ice against the Russians Bruce Arthur: Germany nearly pulls off its own Miracle On Ice against the Russians

Sun, 25 Feb 2018 06:10:38 EST

PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA—There is a reason they call them miracles. With four minutes left in the men’s Olympic hockey final, Germany had the lead. Yes, Germany. They were AHL guys, European league guys, a hockey minnow in an ordinary year. They were not in Sochi, back when NHL players were involved; this time they barely qualified. They were playing a stacked Russian team, the team the tournament was all but rigged for, and they had four minutes to gold. Then three. Then two. Holy hell, Germany.And then, we found out how hard a miracle can be. This tournament, in some ways, was like going back in time. Russia was the favourite, whatever they were called. They had to be disappointed to get Germany in the final: How do you tell the legend of an Olympic gold when all you had to do was beat Germany? As Russian fan Alexander Ruban of Novosibirsk put it before the game: “We want to play with Canada, only Canada, in final. Only Canada. It’s classic game. We have only one team, how say, rival. One rival in the world. Who is this Germany? I don’t know one player.”Still, when you have been robbed of your flag and colours because you ran a state-sponsored doping scheme, you have you take what you can get.And then came the game, and holy hell. Russia couldn’t get away. They went up twice, and twice Germany scored. And with 4:16 left, German forward Jonas Muller was left alone in the slot on a rush, and he beat Russian goaltender Vasili Koshechkin. Good god. It was right there. “I thought we had them,” said forward Marcel Goc. “We got the gold. But they didn’t stop, they kept coming.”With 2:11 left Russia’s Sergei Kalinin was called for tripping, and German coach Marco Sturm said to himself, Oh no. He worried his players would relax. But all they had to do was play keepaway. Just hold the puck, and kill the clock. Gold was there, over the next hill.“We just said on the power play, we want to spread it out and run the time down,” said forward David Wolf.But then Yannic Seidenberg, the brother of Islander defenceman Dennis Seidenberg, loosed a shot. Why? Why wasn’t Christian Ehrhoff, their best defenceman, out there? Why in God’s name did Seidenberg shoot?The shot hit shinpads. Russia chased it. They had skill guys on the ice, killers. They pulled their goalie. The puck was in a crowd in front of the German net and nobody could clear it, and a shot hit a German and bounced to Nikita Gusev, who chopped it over the shoulder of Danny aus den Birken. 3-3, with 55.5 seconds left. And in overtime, at 4-on-4, it was no contest. Germany’s Patrick Reimer took a high-sticking penalty; the Russian power play was precise, lethal math. Gusev to 20-year-old Kirill Kaprizov, top shelf, and the Olympic Athletes from Russia celebrated like they never had in their hockey lives. Vladimir Putin called coach Oleg Znarok on the bench to congratulate him. All the Russian fans in the crowd howled, waving their flags. The team’s goal song, Mary Hopkins’s version of “Those Were The Days”, played out. “Those were the days, my friend, we thought they’d never end, we’d sing and dance forever and a day.” Russia, in hockey, probably prefers its past.But this was a new glory, however hollow it might have been. The Russian fans in the stands sang the anthem as the Olympic flag was raised instead of Russia’s, and the players did as well.“We knew that we would do it if we win,” said Pavel Datsyuk, 40, who said it was better than winning a Stanley Cup. “So it’s great. I have achieved my dream. Now, I have no dream.” Read more:Canada's medal winners at the Pyeongchang OlympicsScott Moir and Tessa Virtue, the faces of the Pyeongchang GamesAthletes bring Canada’s top export, Celine, to PyeongchangSome Germans took pictures with Ilya Kovalchuk, and Datsyuk. They got over it, mostly. But they were so close.“You can’t even look back and think[...]

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NRA responds to boycott movement after United and Delta cut ties in wake of Florida school shootingNRA responds to boycott movement after United and Delta cut ties in wake of Florida school shooting

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 07:20:19 EST

The National Rifle Association lashed out at corporations rushing to abandon it on Saturday, as companies from United Airlines to Best Western have cut ties with the gun lobby group under pressure from a boycott movement following the Feb. 14 high school shooting.Without context, twin announcements from Delta and United Airlines on Saturday morning might look trivial: The end of flight discounts to the NRA’s annual convention, which few outside the gun rights organization likely knew existed before they became boycott targets.“Delta is reaching out to the NRA to let them know we will be ending their contract for discounted rates through our group travel program. We will be requesting that the NRA remove our information from their website,” the airline announced on Twitter.“United is notifying the NRA that we will no longer offer a discounted rate to their annual meeting and we are asking that the NRA remove our information from their website,” United said on Twitter.Read more:NRA credit card, car rental discounts terminatedU.S. companies cut NRA ties as pressure mountsWill Wall Street ever give up on guns?But in abandoning the NRA, the airlines followed car rental giants Avis, Hertz and Enterprise, the Best Western hotel chain, the global insurance company MetLife, and more than a dozen other corporations that have severed affiliations with the gun group in the last two days.In a statement released Saturday afternoon, the group accused companies of “a shameful display of political and civic cowardice.”“Let it be absolutely clear. The loss of a discount will neither scare nor distract one single NRA member from our mission to stand and defend the individual freedoms that have always made America the greatest nation in the world.”While it’s unclear what effect the corporate snubs will have on the NRA, they have given the nascent #BoycottNRA a string of rapid, prominent victories and exposed vulnerabilities in a gun rights lobby that had seemed untouchable before 17 students are Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., were gunned down last week.The NRA claims five million members and takes in tens of millions of dollars each year through supporters, which it uses to fight gun regulations in the name of the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees Americans the right to bear arms.The group has faced public anger before — after the massacre of schoolchildren at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, for example. But it has always fought back against pushes for new gun laws, and efforts to significantly restrict firearms inevitably die out as public fury over the shootings ebbs.But outrage over the Parkland shooting — sustained in part by politically active teenagers who survived the massacre — has shown no signs of fading. Police say a former student killed 17 people with a legally purchased semi-automatic rifle, one of at least 10 guns he owned. As calls for gun control have spread, the NRA has increasingly become a target of activists, with social media hashtags urging boycotts of any corporation found to be linked with it.Delta and United are the latest to submit to the pressure.First National Bank of Omaha, one of the largest private U.S. banks, may have been the first to respond publicly to the boycott calls. The bank had previously advertised the “Official Credit Card of the NRA,” according to the Omaha World-Herald — a Visa card with 5 per cent back on gas and sporting good purchases.“Customer feedback has caused us to review our relationship with the NRA,” the bank said in a statement published Thursday, eights days after the Parkland shooting. “As a result, First National Bank of Omaha will not renew its contract with the National Rifle Association to issue the NRA Visa Card.”Enterprise followed suit a few hours later. “All three of our brands have ended the discount for NRA members,” effective March 26, the car rental company wro[...]

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Ontario basic income ‘is giving me back my independence,’ says this recipient. Others report less stress, better healthOntario basic income ‘is giving me back my independence,’ says this recipient. Others report less stress, better health

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 17:12:10 EST

Margie Goold, who suffers debilitating arthritis, bought a new walker.Lance Dingman, who lost his right leg to a chronic bone disease, is no longer running out of groceries by the middle of the month.Wendy Moore, who has been homeless for almost two years, is looking for an apartment.The three Hamilton residents are part of the first wave of participants in Ontario’s experiment with basic income, a monthly, no-strings-attached payment of up to $1,400 for people living in poverty. Those with disabilities receive an additional $500 a month.Read more:Handing out money for free harder than it looksOpinion | Jennifer Wells: Wynne’s basic income experiment deserves to live a full lifeOntario launches basic income pilot for 4,000 in Hamilton, Thunder Bay, LindsayThe three-year pilot project, which began in the Hamilton and Thunder Bay areas last summer and in Lindsay last fall, is testing whether unconditional cash support can boost health, education and housing for people on social assistance or earning low wages.Information gleaned from the three test sites will guide future provincial policy on how to better support all Ontarians living in poverty.The province is among several areas in the world experimenting with the idea of a basic income, including Finland, which began a two-year pilot last January. After couch-surfing for almost two years, Moore, 60, is using her basic income payment to look for stable housing.“My biggest focus is getting my own place and giving poor John his apartment back,” said Moore, who has been sleeping on her friend’s living room sofa for about a year.Before joining the program in October, the single mother of six and grandmother of 12 was “barely surviving” on $330 a month in basic needs allowance from Ontario Works, the province’s welfare program for people without disabilities.Her total income for 2016 was $4,247.Because Moore was homeless, she was not eligible for a shelter allowance that would have brought her monthly Ontario Works payment to just over $700.But under the basic income experiment, Moore receives $1,416 a month, an amount that remains constant no matter where she lives.“It is giving me back my independence,” she said. “I don’t feel so backed into a corner. If I want to eat, I can afford to buy something instead of going to a food bank or a soup kitchen.”Moore and the others are among almost 3,000 people enrolled so far in the test sites. The province hopes to recruit 6,000 participants, including 4,000 who will receive a basic income, fill out surveys and participate in focus groups as part of the study.A further 2,000 won’t get the monthly payments but will be paid to complete surveys and tracked as a control group.Thunder Bay heating and fireplace installer Taras Harapyuk, who hasn’t worked since 2015 when he fell lifting a ladder out of his truck, signed up for the pilot project last September. He learned last week that his application was randomly selected as part of the control group.“I was very disappointed to hear I wasn’t chosen to get the extra money,” Harapyuk said. “But I will fill out the surveys. I am happy to help.”Adults in the three test sites age 18 to 64 with after-tax incomes under $34,000, or couples with incomes under $48,000, are eligible. The income cut-off for individuals with disabilities is $46,000.If participants find employment or get a better job, their basic income payments are reduced by 50 cents for every dollar earned until they are no longer financially eligible. But unlike social assistance, which is adjusted monthly, basic income payments are calculated once a year, based on the participant’s previous year’s income tax return.Project administrators can make mid-year adjustments if participants lose a job or go back to school, change a living arrangement or become disabled. After a slow start last summer, enrolment topped 2,544 at the[...]

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Del Duca attempted to win approval for two more GO stations that were rejected by MetrolinxDel Duca attempted to win approval for two more GO stations that were rejected by Metrolinx

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 21:09:52 EST

The former provincial transportation minister sought the approval of a total of four new GO Transit stations that studies recommended against, amid what Metrolinx staff acknowledged internally could be seen as an “outside push” to alter planning evidence at the agency. As the Star has previously reported, documents obtained through a freedom of information request show that in June 2016 the transportation ministry, which was then led by MPP Steven Del Duca, pressured Metrolinx, the arm’s length agency responsible for transportation planning in the GTHA, into approving the construction of Kirby and Lawrence East GO stations. A report commissioned by the agency had recommended neither be considered for at least another 10 years. Those documents were partially redacted. The Star has since obtained unredacted versions that indicate Del Duca attempted to win approval for two other new GO stops that weren’t supported by studies: Park Lawn in South Etobicoke, and Highway 7-Concord in Vaughan. Read more:What is the Kirby GO station and why did it get approved?What is the Kirby GO station and why did it get approved?‘Concerns raised’ about two new GO Transit stations, Del Duca acknowledgesMetrolinx finally releases report on controversial GO stationsThe Star has also obtained internal Metrolinx correspondence about the newspaper’s initial information request, which was filed last year. The correspondence includes drafts of briefing notes prepared by agency communications staff in 2017 that flagged potential issues that could arise from documents about the station approval process being published.Taken together the documents paint a clearer picture of how Metrolinx’s planning process was derailed by Del Duca’s directives, and how the agency prepared to deal with the fallout of the interference being revealed in the media.Following the pressure from the transportation ministry, Metrolinx altered reports to recommend Kirby and Lawrence East, and the agency’s board approved them as part of a proposed 12-stop expansion under GO’s $13.5-billion regional express rail program.Kirby is in Duca’s riding in Vaughan, and Lawrence East in Scarborough is a critical part of Mayor John Tory’s SmartTrack plan.However, Metrolinx did not change its stance on Park Lawn or Highway 7-Concord, and those two stations were not approved. Del Duca is no longer at the transportation ministry. In January, Premier Kathleen Wynne appointed him minister of economic development as part of a Liberal government cabinet shuffle.The minister would not answer specific questions put to him by the Star about the station approval process.“A couple of months ago, Metrolinx began a thorough review of all new GO stations,” he said in an emailed statement. “I look forward to seeing the results.” As the Star has previously reported, by June 2016, after spending a year and a half studying potential new station sites, Metrolinx had landed on a list of 10 that staff planned to recommend to the agency’s board. Kirby, Lawrence East, Park Lawn and Highway-7 Concord were not on the list.Three weeks before a June 28, 2016, meeting at which the Metrolinx board was set to decide on the new stations, agency officials briefed Del Duca on the plans. On June 9, 2016, Bruce McCuaig, then Metrolinx’s chief executive officer, wrote an email to Rob Prichard, chair of the agency’s board, saying the briefing had gone “so-so.” McCuaig believed Del Duca was “disappointed” by the exclusion of Kirby and Highway 7-Concord. Two days later, McCuaig wrote that he was “trying to see if there is a credible way to improve the business case” for Kirby. In a draft briefing note prepared in 2017, a Metrolinx staffer analyzing the correspondence acknowledged that from McCuaig’s statement it “can be perceived that there is an outside pus[...]

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Patrick Brown files notice of libel against CTV News over report on sexual misconduct allegationsPatrick Brown files notice of libel against CTV News over report on sexual misconduct allegations

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 09:17:40 EST

Patrick Brown has filed a libel notice against CTV News following a report last month that alleged sexual misconduct against two young women, calling it “false” and saying it subjected him to “ridicule, hatred and contempt.”The notice calls on the network to retract and apologize for what it says are “false, malicious, irresponsible and defamatory” stories that accused a sober Brown of improprieties involving inebriated teenagers when he was a federal member of parliament. Brown, who resigned as Ontario PC leader just hours after the Jan. 24 report and was later kicked out of the Ontario Progressive Conservative caucus, has vehemently denied the allegations and has been fighting back publicly in a bid to clear his name. Last week, he was approved by the party to run for his old job as leader.The libel notice — the first step in a defamation suit — names the network, owner Bell Media, anchor Lisa LaFlamme, and reporters Glen McGregor and Rachel Aiello. It also cites Toronto’s CP24 news, also owned by Bell Media, and reporter Travis Dhanraj, though his surname is misspelled as Dhanjar.“CTV News has received a notice of libel. CTV News stands by its reporting and will actively defend its journalism in court,” said Bell Media spokesperson Matthew Garrow. Read more:Your 5 Ontario PC leadership candidates: A Ford, a Mulroney, an unknown, the former leader and the favouriteOntario PC turmoil is bad for all of us, Liberals and NDP sayPC party in ‘crisis,’ says Caroline MulroneySince the accusations of sexual impropriety, the 39-year-old Brown has faced a number of other controversies, including questions about inflated party membership numbers under his leadership, and how he affords the taxes and payments on the $1.72-million mortgage for his Lake Simcoe mansion if he was making only $180,000 as party leader.Last week, MPP Randy Hillier launched a complaint with Ontario’s integrity commissioner about those issues, and also raised questions about several overseas trips Brown took, accompanied by an intern, who may have been involved in a personal relationship with him at the time.The Star revealed Thursday that prior to Hillier requesting an investigation, the integrity commissioner had already reached out to Brown, demanding he provide details on any income he earned renting out the sprawling five-bedroom property on Simcoe’s Shanty Bay using Airbnb, as an aide had told the Star. Brown has said that “everything is in compliance with the integrity commissioner,” called Hillier’s allegations “fabricated,” and said that all trips were paid for by the PC party. Brown’s current 23-year-old girlfriend, his former intern who travelled to India and Lebanon with the then-leader, has also defended him to the Star, calling him the “one of the most respectful, decent and caring individuals I have ever met.” But the ongoing controversies have left the party in “crisis,” said leadership hopeful Caroline Mulroney, urging Brown to “do the right thing” and leave the race. “Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen allegations of misconduct, wrongdoing and fighting within our party,” she told reporters Friday. “Any candidate for leader — and for premier — needs to provide Ontarians with a way forward,” she said. The party, she added, needs someone “who will stand up for our values — with integrity.”Brown’s libel notice says the CTV report and subsequent stories “have caused and will continue to cause damage to his reputation personally and in the way of his office, profession, trade and calling.”It says that the defamatory words in the report, “by innuendo, falsely and maliciously” gave viewers the impression that Brown “illegally provided alcohol to a perso[...]

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Wynne ‘very worried’ about threat of Trump tariff on steel and aluminum Wynne ‘very worried’ about threat of Trump tariff on steel and aluminum

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 20:05:54 EST


WASHINGTON—Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says “we’re very worried” about the possibility that U.S. President Donald Trump will impose a tariff on Canadian steel and aluminum.

“It would hurt us,” Wynne said in an interview Saturday in Washington, saying it would “increase the cost of cars.”

Wynne was visiting to promote free trade at a meeting of the National Governors Association. She said her meetings with governors confirmed her belief that the prospects for reaching a North American Free Trade Agreement deal have improved since the fall.

On steel and aluminum, Trump is contemplating a variety of options: a global tariff or global quota, which would hit Canada; a tariff only on specific countries, which would exclude Canada; or a mix of tariffs on some countries and quotas for others.

Trump’s complaint is the “dumping” of low-cost steel from countries such as China. Wynne said Canada is also a victim of dumping.

“To the degree that’s a challenge for the United States, it’s a challenge for Canada. So I think we need to have a North American strategy around dumping steel, and have a partnership on that, as opposed to being in competition with one another,” she said.

On her last visit to Washington, two weeks prior, Wynne announced that Ontario would retaliate against New York state if it did not give the province an exemption from its “Buy American” law that requires certain state agencies to use American-made steel and iron for their projects.

An exemption is unlikely, since the law has already been signed. Wynne said Saturday that she has not heard anything from New York since she issued the threat.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said Saturday that her meetings with governors in Washington confirmed her belief that the prospects for reaching a NAFTA deal have improved since the fall.

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He's a Green backer voting in the Ontario PC race. Should we care?He's a Green backer voting in the Ontario PC race. Should we care?He's a Green backer voting in the Ontario PC race. Should we care?He's a Green backer voting in the Ontario PC race. Should we care?He's a Green backer voting in the Ontario PC race. Should we care?

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 22:32:01 EST

Stephen Best’s choice for Progressive Conservative leader has changed almost every week since the whirlwind race kicked off a month ago. At first, Caroline Mulroney was a no-brainer because she was the only candidate supporting a carbon tax.When Mulroney switched her position, Best did, too. The Guelph resident decided to cast his ballot for Doug Ford in the online leadership vote running March 2 to March 8.Cue Patrick Brown. The former and now-aspiring leader’s controversial bid to replace himself caused a new shift for Best. If Brown sticks to the carbon-pricing pledge that’s embedded in his People’s Guarantee platform, Best says he will vote for him.But he doesn’t actually want Brown or any other Tory to take the premier’s seat in the June 7 general election. Best is trying to best the system — like a Trojan horse in the PC camp.In fact, he is a Green party supporter.Best explains he generally wants to see party leaders looking out for the earth. “It would be good for the environment and dealing with climate change if all three (major) parties were on board with carbon pricing,” he says. (The Ford flirtation reflected a different tactic: he figured a Ford-led party would lose the election, benefiting the Greens and other parties.)“It costs $10 to vote,” he says. “I thought it was a pretty good deal.” The rules set by the Tories allowed Best to buy a $10 membership, fill out an application form and have a say in who becomes the next chief. Best’s machinations are not illegal and will likely not distort any result. But such gaps in the system, combined with other membership concerns in a party under scrutiny, could raise questions about the integrity of the leadership race.Membership and voting rules vary widely across parties, and the process to choose a leader is only as transparent as a party wants it to be. The stakes are particularly high in the PC race.The Tories have led for months in most polls, even after the recent mayhem. It’s more than plausible that members will be effectively voting for the leader of Ontario’s next government.Brown’s candidacy was approved Wednesday, exactly one month after CTV reported allegations of sexual impropriety that Brown denies, and which triggered his rapid ouster. Party members have also raised questions about Brown’s personal finances.Interim Conservative leader Vic Fedeli has been investigating apparently inflated membership rolls: 67,000 fewer members than the 200,000 Brown boasted of earlier this year. There have been allegations of misspending; a hack into the party’s database; and accusations of voter fraud and ballot-tampering in some local nominations. Fedeli booted Brown from caucus last week, hours before he registered his bid to lead it again. Brown’s rivals are Mulroney, Ford, former MPP Christine Elliott and social conservative activist Tanya Granic Allen.Trust among provincial PCs is at an all-time low, says Georganne Burke, a longtime Conservative adviser. She most recently worked on Andrew Scheer’s victorious federal leadership campaign.“The (membership) list itself is in such question for most members,” says Burke, who’s backing Ford. “We don’t know how many people are still in the system as actual current members … I really have minimal confidence in that.”Is this any way to pick a potential premier?“We have complete confidence in the reputation and practice of a nationally recognized accounting firm that we have chosen to serve as our independent auditor in this process,” says Hartley Lefton, chair of the party’s Leadership Election Organizing Committee.The party is using a new two-step verification process, and members will cast ballots through a “secure remote electronic voting&#[...]

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Four found dead in home in Ryerson Township, OntarioFour found dead in home in Ryerson Township, Ontario

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 17:03:19 EST


A central Ontario community was searching for answers on Saturday as police investigated the suspicious deaths of four people.

Ontario Provincial Police offered few details, but said they received a 911 call at 7:30 p.m. Friday from someone who found the bodies in a home in Ryerson Township, Ont., about 300 kilometres north of Toronto.

Officers who arrived on the scene found two men and two women dead inside, said OPP Sgt. Carlo Berardi.

“The deaths are suspicious,” he said. “I don’t know whether it’s all four or just a portion of them.”

He said all four bodies — two men and two women — showed signs of trauma.

Berardi said police are still trying to identify the bodies and do not know what, if any, relationships existed among the victims.

He declined to comment on the cause or time of death, but said there is no threat to the public.

An official in Ryerson Township said she was shocked to learn about the grisly discovery.

“This is just horrible,” said Deputy Reeve Barbara Marlow. “I feel so sorry for the people.”

She said little information was available nearly 24 hours after police arrived on scene.

“You just don’t hear of this sort of thing going on that often,” she said.

Ontario Provincial Police say they received a 911 call at 7:30 p.m. on Friday from someone who discovered the bodies.

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Federal claim of Indian interference in Trudeau event is ‘dangerously irresponsible,’ says Andrew Scheer Federal claim of Indian interference in Trudeau event is ‘dangerously irresponsible,’ says Andrew Scheer

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 07:28:02 EST

OTTAWA—The suggestion by a senior government official that rogue political elements in India were behind the invitation of a Sikh extremist to an event with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is “dangerously irresponsible” and risks eroding diplomatic ties, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says.Scheer criticized the government’s damage control efforts that saw unnamed officials — perhaps one or more — suggest in some news reports that officials in India were somehow behind the embarrassing invitation of a convicted Sikh extremist, Jaspal Atwal, to an event with Trudeau during his India visit.Even as Trudeau and his family were winging their way home Saturday from their weeklong visit to India, the political reverberations of the star-crossed trip were still being felt.Scheer challenged the prime minister to either back up the anonymous claim or renounce it.“I believe the prime minister either needs to substantiate these claims, that elements within the Indian government have played an active role in embarrassing our prime minister, or he needs to disavow these statements,” Scheer told the Star in an interview Saturday.“The implications of saying that elements in the Indian government have played a role in this are profound.”Read more:Conservatives want committee meeting on security screening over invitation error in IndiaIndian PM ‘appreciates’ Trudeau’s commitment to ties despite party invitation embarrassmentOpinion | Why was Trudeau snubbed on his visit to India?Trudeau and his political delegation were already facing questions about an India trip that appeared light on substance and heavy on photo ops when news emerged that Atwal had been invited to Mumbai event with Trudeau.Atwal was sentenced with three others to 20 years in prison after a Canadian jury convicted them of attempted murder in the 1986 shooting of an Indian cabinet minister who travelled to B.C. for a wedding, a sentence upheld by an appeal court.There was already concern in India over Trudeau’s trip, and the view among some there is that he’s sympathetic to Sikh separatists among his voter base in Canada. News of Atwal’s invitation only heightened those concerns.The Canadian government rescinded the invite and scrambled to contain the fallout.British Columbia Liberal MP Randeep Sarai (Surrey Centre) took the blame, saying the invitation was his responsibility.And as part of the damage control, a senior government official then suggested to some Canadian media outlets, including CBC News and Global News, that political elements in India may have had a hand in Atwal’s invitation in a deliberate bid to make the Canadian government appear sympathetic to Sikh extremism.The Star also talked to sources about the circumstances around Atwal’s invitation but that same claim was not laid out in those conversations. However, as the Star reported, a senior government official said Atwal had been taken off a blacklist of people banned by India from entering the country by the Indian government, and not at the behest of Canada.Scheer charged that the official was levelling a “very serious allegation” and the government now has an obligation to back it up.“Either there are reasons for Canadians to be very concerned and obviously the prime minister and other officials have known about this for some time, in which case I think it needs to be expounded upon and Parliament needs to be advised,” Scheer said.“Or this is a wild accusation, not based on facts, in which case the prime minister has allowed a major diplomatic incident to happen.”Indeed, media outlets in India noted that the Canadian explanation was not well-received.The Times of India savaged the trip, calling it a “disaster [...]

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Calls for justice for Tina Fontaine echo at rallies across the countryCalls for justice for Tina Fontaine echo at rallies across the countryCalls for justice for Tina Fontaine echo at rallies across the country

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 22:11:36 EST


REGINA—Rallies in Canadian cities that were sparked by the acquittal of a man accused of murdering an Indigenous teen in Winnipeg continued Saturday, including one that briefly blocked an intersection for a round dance.

Marchers in Regina edged their way out into traffic at the intersection of Albert St., and Victoria Ave., as traffic zoomed past, and they eventually blocked all four sides while chanting “Justice for Tina” and “Tina’s Life Matters.”

A half-dozen drummers and singers made their way to the centre. Then many of the people around the edge clasped hands for several minutes while the drumming and singing continued.

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“I choose not to feed hopelessness. I feed being hopeful,” Brenda Dubois told the crowd moments before they walked to the intersection.

On Thursday, a jury in Winnipeg found Raymond Cormier not guilty of second-degree murder in the 2014 death of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine, whose body was pulled from the Red River in the summer of 2014.

Fontaine had been wrapped in a blanket and weighed down by rocks.

Hundreds marched in Winnipeg the following day, where Indigenous leaders reiterated that social services and the justice system are failing Indigenous youth.

Fontaine was in government care and was staying at a hotel when she disappeared.

Dubois, whose grandmother, as well as friends, were murdered in Regina, said it’s time for social services to return Indigenous children. She told the event on Saturday there are more kids in the care of social services than were in residential schools.

“You know what they’re doing now? They’re taking away the children of the children they raised,” she said.

Cormier admitted on undercover police tapes that he had sex with the teen and was heard saying he bet Tina was killed because he found out she was only 15.

The defence had argued that the tapes were hard to hear, that the transcriptions could be wrong and that Cormier’s denial to police of any involvement was the real truth.

There was no DNA evidence linking him to Tina and experts could not determine how she died.

Rallies were also held Saturday in Montreal, Vancouver and Victoria.

Signs at many of the rallies also called for “Justice for Colten,” linking Cormier’s acquittal with a similar one earlier this month in the fatal shooting of 22-year-old Indigenous man Colten Boushie in Saskatchewan.

A sign that was held up at the Vancouver event on Saturday said: “Canada is a serial killer of Indigenous people.”

Indigenous women sing and drum during a rally for Tina Fontaine in Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday.People attend a rally in memory of Tina Fontaine in Montreal on Saturday.

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White nationalist endorses Tanya Granic Allen’s Tory leadership campaignWhite nationalist endorses Tanya Granic Allen’s Tory leadership campaign

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 18:33:19 EST


Tanya Granic Allen’s campaign to be leader of the Progressive Conservatives has received the endorsement of a self-proclaimed white nationalist.

Paul Fromm tweeted Friday “Check out Tanya Granic Allen for PC Leader. I just joined,” and included a link to a registration form on Granic Allen’s website.

Fromm is director of the Canadian Association for Free Expression, which is “dedicated to free speech, immigration reform, and restoring political sanity,” according to its website.

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The Southern Poverty Law Center, an American civil rights organization that tracks hate groups, describes Fromm’s association as working “against the Canadian Human Rights Commission to defend anti-Semites, racists and Holocaust deniers from persecution under hate crime and human rights legislation.”

Fromm’s teaching licence in Peel region was revoked in 2007 due to his participation in white supremacist groups and events.

“All of us have a right to participate in the political process,” Fromm told the Star, and said he’s looking to become a member of the PC party.

“I admire someone who comes more or less from the outside, who has taken a strong stand.”

He said the PCs under Patrick Brown “have strayed far, far, far from the feelings of many people in the grassroots,” mentioning among other things the support for “that ridiculous sex-ed program, which I think is offensive to all sorts of people,” referring to the Liberal government’s revamped sexual education curriculum introduced in 2015.

Granic Allen, a social conservative, has been outspoken in her opposition to the new curriculum. Her campaign did not return the Star’s request for comment Saturday regarding Fromm’s support.

The PCs will announce their new leader on March 10.

Paul Fromm is director of the Canadian Association for Free Expression, which is “dedicated to free speech, immigration reform, and restoring political sanity."

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Search for toddler swept into Grand River will continue SundaySearch for toddler swept into Grand River will continue Sunday

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 20:07:00 EST

After four days of desperate underwater and above-ground examination, the Ontario Provincial Police will continue to search for Kaden Young. The three-year-old boy was pulled from his mother’s arms after their car swept off a flooded road into the raging Grand River near Orangeville earlier this week and OPP said the search would go on, despite unstable weather conditions.OPP Const. Paul Nancekivell said that the team has exhausted their search of the Grand River, and want to move their efforts to the banks around the area, as the boy may have been carried away by the current.Due to freezing rain forecast for Sunday, OPP had earlier said they would hold off on their search, however, they later decided it was “important to go back out there.”“The command staff changed their mind … there will be the OPP emergency response teams and the dive crew out there and ready for tomorrow,” Nancekivell said Saturday night.He said the team suspected they might have luck searching the edge of the bank or under the ice flows. “. . . they’re just too dangerous for us to get onto right now so we’re hoping we can spot him with the copter.”K9 units and helicopter crews will continue to join the search on Sunday.Meanwhile, about 100 kilometres from Brantford, a state of emergency and flood warnings remain in place in southwestern Ontario — though officials say damage from a local river appears to be less than expected.Officials in Chatham-Kent say the Thames River, swollen by days of heavy rains and melted snow, is reaching its peak in most areas covered by the state of emergency.In a statement, they said water levels in the municipality of Thamesville caused less street flooding than anticipated and peaked early this morning.Officials with the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority say the peak is expected in Chatham this evening between 7 and 9 p.m.They say that while the rate at which the river is rising has slowed, low-lying homes are still at risk of flood damage.Many streets near the river remain closed as a precaution, and officials say the Thames itself is dangerous for those in the immediate vicinity.“There have been many individuals drawn to the river bank but we’re urging extreme caution,” Chatham Mayor Randy Hope said in the statement. “A current of this magnitude can sweep you away in a second.”Fire and Emergency Services Chief Bob Crawford also warned that the water levels could put pressure on riverbanks and dikes, adding there’s also a risk that debris building up in the river could exacerbate the flooding.Days of mild temperatures and heavy rain have caused flooding in other parts of southern Ontario this week, including Brantford and Orangeville.The city of Brantford issued a state of emergency Wednesday when warm weather and torrential rain caused an ice jam on the Grand River, forcing nearly 5,000 people from their homes. The state of emergency has since been lifted.With files from the Canadian PressOPP Const. Paul Nancekivell said Saturday that police searching for Kaden Young, a toddler swept into a flooding Grand River near Orangeville earlier this week, have exhausted their resources in the search for the boy. “We’ve searched the complete river … he has not been found anywhere.”[...]

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