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Published: Tue, 25 Oct 2016 20:37:21 EDT

Last Build Date: Tue, 25 Oct 2016 20:37:21 EDT

Copyright: Copyright Toronto Star 1996-2013 ,

Nurse charged with murdering eight Ontario nursing home residents

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 10:14:00 EDT

WOODSTOCK, ONT—Five elderly women and three men. All parents, grandparents, or beloved friends and all allegedly killed in two long-term-care homes by a registered nurse who police say acted with intent.When the Ontario Provincial Police announced the investigation on Tuesday, with officers from Woodstock and London police, they gave scant details beyond the fact that 49-year-old Elizabeth Tracey Mae Wettlaufer was charged with eight counts of first-degree murder. Wettlaufer gave unidentified drugs to seven residents at Caressant Care Woodstock and one resident at Meadow Park long-term-care home in London, Ont., police said. The first case victim they identified was 84-year-old James Silcox, in Woodstock, who died on Aug. 17, 2007. The last was 75-year-old Arpad Horvath, on Aug. 31, 2014. No bodies will be exhumed, police said.Information about the alleged killings came to Woodstock Police on Sept. 29 and a short time later a joint task force was created, with the OPP taking the lead. Wettlaufer gave up her nursing licence on Sept. 30.Wettlaufer was arrested on Monday night. On Tuesday morning, when reporters gathered at a Woodstock community centre for a press conference, the former nurse made her first appearance at the downtown courthouse. She was remanded into custody.Two residents are alleged to have been killed in 2007, three in 2011, one in 2013 and the final two in 2014.That much is known. Police won’t release more details, saying additional information is protected as evidence in the investigation.What is known, however, is that this case is yet another hit on Ontario’s 630 long-term-care homes, which experts say are severely underfunded and short-staffed.Doris Grinspun, CEO of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario, said, “There’s not enough brain power. There’s not enough leg power to give residents the care they need.” The 77,000 residents are coming into homes older and frailer, but, Grinspun said, their fragile condition doesn’t mean “it’s in the hands of the health professional to make (life and death) decisions.”Police wouldn’t identify the type of drugs they say the residents were given, nor would they say whether the checks and balances for nursing-home drugs records were followed. Nurses are expected to follow a code of ethics when signing off on drug administration to residents. But, as one industry source said, it’s difficult to find wrongdoing or errors when, for example, someone correctly fills out paperwork but elects to withhold a drug from one resident to double up on another. It is not known what police believe happened in the Wettlaufer case.Wettlaufer is being investigated by the College of Nurses of Ontario, confirmed Denise Riposati, communications adviser for the college, which is the regulatory body for nurses in the province.Records from the college show that Wettlaufer was first registered as a nurse in August 1995. She resigned Sept. 30 of this year and is no longer entitled to practise as a registered nurse.Fred Spina, 57, said he’s seen Wettlaufer at the nursing home before while visiting friends there.“She was always polite, so when I heard the name it was a shock,” Spina said. “It can’t be.”He said the nursing home is known for being one of the best in Woodstock.“I just couldn’t believe it because this is Woodstock. It’s a small town. Things like that happen very rarely,” he said. “It doesn’t happen here.”In a statement, Trevor Birtch, the mayor of Woodstock, said: “This is a very sad moment for the city of Woodstock. Our hearts go out to the families, and I want to assure them that the community will assist them through this tough process.”Charlene Puffer, who said she lives down the hall from Wettlaufer’s apartment, described her neighbour as a decent person.Neighbour Derek Gilbert said, “She seemed like a very normal person. She came by[...]

Media Files:

Is a 10-week suspension enough for lawyer who slept with a client?

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 06:00:00 EDT

In the medical profession, a doctor who has sex with a patient automatically loses his or her licence.In the legal profession, a lawyer who has sex with a client can face a mere suspension.The case of Toronto lawyer Antonio (Anthony) Macri, who was suspended for two and a half months Friday for having sex with a client and failing to inform his firm, demonstrates the stark contrast between how such conduct is handled by the self-regulating bodies that govern doctors and lawyers in Ontario.“Lawyers who have sex with their clients should be subject to mandatory penalty of disbarment, the ultimate penalty that law societies can impose on lawyers,” said University of Ottawa law professor Adam Dodek, speaking generally.“It is surely time to revisit the issue in the public interest.”The case against Macri was outlined in an agreed statement of facts filed at the Law Society Tribunal. As well as being suspended, he was also fined $2,500 and ordered to pay a further $2,000 in costs.He was found to have acted in a conflict of interest by representing the client in her family court proceeding while also engaged in a sexual relationship with her. He was further found to have acted “without integrity” by failing to inform his firm of the relationship and that he had loaned her $50,000.Macri, who was called to the bar in 1997, was also found to have “behaved dishonourably” by sending “a series of uncivil text messages and emails to Client A, some of which implied he may use solicitor-client and/or privileged information against her should she fail to reimburse him funds he loaned her over the course of their personal and professional relationship,” according to Law Society documents.The lawyer apologized to a three-member panel at his disciplinary hearing.“I am deeply sorry for my actions,” Macri said, at times becoming emotional. “I crossed a line that should have been clearer… I’ve paid a price for my actions. I am the only person to blame. The line is clearer to me now, and I will never cross it again.”Lawyer Lisa Freeman, representing the Law Society, told the panel there is currently no outright ban on lawyers having sex with their clients.“I think we probably need a rule change,” she said. “I don’t understand why there is a prohibition in the health profession and not in the legal profession.”The ban on doctors having sex with their patients, along with the penalty of mandatory revocation of their licence, has been upheld by the Ontario Court of Appeal, which has stated that there is a clear power imbalance between a doctor and a patient.Medical malpractice lawyer Paul Harte, who is familiar with that prohibition, told the Star a lawyer should be subjected to the same penalties as physicians when there has been a finding that the lawyer took advantage of a vulnerable client.“Many lawyers work with vulnerable individuals. For example, personal injury lawyers, criminal lawyers and family lawyers,” he said. “In my view, in these circumstances there should be no physical relationship during the lawyer-client relationship and for a reasonable period after ending the relationship because of the potential vulnerability.”Law Society rules in place at the time of Macri’s misconduct say that a lawyer engaging in a sexual relationship with a client “may conflict with the lawyer’s duty to provide objective, disinterested professional advice to the client.” The lawyer should consider several factors, including whether the client is vulnerable and if the relationship could create a power imbalance.In the Macri case, the client was found to be particularly vulnerable. She was a stay-at-home mother to two small children in an unhappy marriage who was financially dependent on her husband, a man who was charged for allegedly vandalizing her personal property, according to the agreed statement of [...]

Media Files:

Donald Trump ties his record: 37 false claims in one day

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 13:01:15 EDT

WASHINGTON—Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump had one of the busiest days of his campaign on Monday, Oct. 24. He did two Florida rallies, two Florida round tables, two radio interviews, an interview with Christian conservative Pat Robertson, and an interview with the Palm Beach Post newspaper. And he said 37 false things — tying the record he set at the third presidential debate, by far the most of any nondebate day since we started counting in September. The list:1. Falsely said of Clinton’s email deletion: “Sophisticated people, people that really know the Internet and this stuff, said they never even heard of bleaching, because it’s such an expensive process.” (Clinton aides used a software program called BleachBit — which is a free download.)2. Falsely said, of an allegation that he violated the trade embargo with Cuba, “I mean, I’m hearing this for the first time but I’ll check that.” (Trump was asked about this very subject the day prior, and his senior aides have been asked since the story came out in September.)3. Falsely said, “And I’ve been endorsed largely, at least conceptually, by the military.” (The military does not issue endorsements, and it is nonsensical to say he has been “conceptually” endorsed by the military. Trump has endorsements from retired officers, but so does Clinton.)4. Falsely said, “Wow, just came out on secret tape that Crooked Hillary wants to take in as many Syrians as possible.” (No such tape has just come out. In an undercover video by a conservative group in 2015, Clinton aide Huma Abedin benignly agrees with a provocateur’s suggestion that the U.S. should accept Syrian refugees, as Clinton has said publicly.)5. Falsely tweeted, “Why has nobody asked Kaine about the horrible views emanated on WikiLeaks about Catholics? Media in the tank for Clinton but Trump will win!” (Democratic vice-presidential candidate Tim Kaine was asked in various interviews about Clinton aides’ comments about Catholics.)6. Falsely said, “She got the debate questions in advance. Think of it. Did you hear this? Hillary Clinton got the debate questions in advance from Donna Brazile!” (This is false in more than one way. Clinton appears to have been given one question by Brazile, not questions plural, and it was for a CNN town hall during the Democratic primary in March, not a debate. And certainly not a general-election debate, as Trump was implying.)7. Falsely said, “Hillary Clinton gave Russia 20 per cent of American uranium. And you know, she was paid a fortune.” (Clinton didn’t personally give Russia uranium — the State Department was one of nine government entities that endorsed the purchase of Uranium One by a Russian state-owned enterprise. Investors in the deal made big donations to the Clinton Foundation, but “at least two years before the deal,” Politifact reports. There is no evidence that Clinton personally profited at all.)8. Falsely said, “New Hampshire was my first win. Then I went on to win 42 states.” (Trump won 36 states in the Republican primary.)9. Falsely said of the Clinton campaign, “They’ve given up in Ohio.” (They have not. Clinton and her top allies have made repeated October visits to Ohio.)10. Falsely said of North Carolina, “In your state, I’m one point, two points and even in three polls. One point, two points and even.” (Clinton has led in at least 13 consecutive North Carolina polls.)11. Falsely said, “All I know is we’re leading in the polls.” (Trump trails by an average of more than five points nationally.)12. Falsely said, “The new poll that just came out from Investor’s Business Daily, which was the most accurate poll from the last three presidential elections, has us up two points nationwide[...]

Media Files:

Teen candidate no joke at Queen's Park

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 16:25:54 EDT


Amid the quips about “Doogie Howser, MPP,” a 19-year-old Progressive Conservative candidate is being taken very seriously at Queen’s Park.

Sam Oosterhoff, a first-year student at Brock University, jolted the Progressive Conservatives over the weekend by defeating PC Party president Rick Dykstra for the Niagara West-Glanbrook nomination.

He will carry the Conservative banner in the Nov. 17 byelection triggered by the retirement of former PC leader Tim Hudak, who was first elected two years before Oosterhoff was born.

Both the Liberals and the New Democrats privately admit it will be difficult to beat the teen Tory.

While they insist Liberal lawyer Vicky Ringuette and NDP retired police officer Mike Thomas are strong candidates, they concede Niagara West-Glanbrook is a PC stronghold.

Oosterhoff — who has ignored requests for media interviews since telling the Star on Sunday he was “really busy” and promised to be in touch on Monday — left it to PC Leader Patrick Brown to speak for him on Tuesday.

Brown, who is close to Dykstra though he remained neutral in the nomination contest, insisted his new social conservative candidate wouldn’t undermine the Tories’ shift to the political centre.

“Sam has told me he absolutely supports the direction I’m taking the party and he’s excited to be part of the new, modern inclusive PC Party,” said the Tory chief, who recently broke with social conservatives over his support for the modernized sex-education curriculum, same-sex marriage, and abortion rights.

“He has told me unequivocally he is enthusiastic about the direction I’m taking the party.”

The PC leader said Oosterhoff’s toppling of Dykstra was “absolutely not” a case of social conservatives hijacking the Tories.

“It’s healthy to have open, big, transparent, democratic nominations — it rewards work ethic and hustle,” he said.

Brown, who was elected as a Barrie city councillor at 22 while he was at law school, said he hoped Oosterhoff continues his political science studies if he becomes an MPP.

“That’s a personal decision, but, yeah, I think that would be appropriate,” he said, noting other politicians have managed to juggle schooling and their public service.

“If you want something done, ask a busy person.”

Because Oosterhoff would be the youngest MPP in Ontario history — eclipsing Reid Scott, who was 21 when elected in 1948 — that has prompted wags to liken him to Doogie Howser, MD, the title character from the 1990s sit-com about a teen genius doctor.

Sam Oosterhoff, 19, won the PC nomination for Niagara West-Glanbrook on the weekend.

Media Files:

It’s not close: Hillary Clinton the overwhelming favourite to win presidency

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 21:59:51 EDT

WASHINGTON—America’s presidential election is dramatic. It is not close. There are two weeks of shouting to go, but know this: Hillary Clinton is overwhelmingly likely to win. Donald Trump’s chances are tiny. “He’s in a lot of trouble, that’s just all there is to it. And they know it,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. Polls suggest that Clinton leads by about six percentage points nationally, a giant margin in modern presidential politics. When Barack Obama crushed John McCain in 2008, he won by seven points. Clinton had a double-digit lead, unheard-of in America’s modern political climate, in at least four recent national polls. More importantly, she leads in every major swing state.In Pennsylvania, a state Trump needs to seize to have any chance, the Democratic candidate has prevailed in every poll since July. In Florida, another must-win for her Republican opponent, she has led in 12 of the last 13.The race is so lopsided that Clinton is at 262 electoral votes, just eight shy of victory, counting only the states where she leads by five or more points. Add the 10 electoral votes of Minnesota, where she leads by four and no Republican has won since 1972, and Clinton is elected even before the votes are counted in Ohio, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Iowa and Arizona.The momentum is all on Clinton’s side. States where she had trailed narrowly, like Nevada and Ohio, have moved in her direction. Supposed swing states, like Virginia and Colorado, have moved out of Trump’s reach. States where Democrats have long lost handily, like Utah and Texas, have become competitive. Clinton is even up in Arizona.“I can’t think of a single state that has clearly moved from a battleground to a Trump advantage,” said Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette University Law School Poll.Trump continues to have a sturdy lead in Iowa and a narrow lead in Ohio. Monday’s news of a hefty ObamaCare price increase may help him. And, of course, some shocking event could occur at any time. But the odds are stronger that he will lose in a landslide than that he will win at all.Prominent data-crunching websites give Clinton a 97-per-cent chance (Princeton Election Consortium), 92-per-cent chance (New York Times) and 86-per-cent chance (FiveThirtyEight).In polls that include the two prominent third-party candidates, Trump averages a pitiful 39 per cent. Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee, was never below 40 per cent in any poll in the last two months.“It’s quite remarkable,” said Franklin. “Even in recent blowout elections, the losing candidate is typically at or just above 40. So falling to 39 would be beginning to flirt with the level of George McGovern in 1972.”McGovern won only one state and the District of Columbia. In today’s America, which is more polarized by geography, Trump is certain to win a higher number. But he is doing so badly that Clinton could conceivably do as well in the race to succeed a two-term Democrat as Obama did during an economic crisis under an unpopular two-term Republican.Trump’s comeback chances are limited by his unusually weak ground-level campaign, which some experts believe will cost him at least one extra percentage point. And polls suggest a majority of voters is not even willing to consider him, saying he is unqualified and lacking in basic decency.“Every from-the-gut voter marker that you look at, he is doing badly,” Malloy said.Stuart Stevens, chief strategist on the Romney campaign and a vocal Trump critic, said Trump’s only good option to salvage his standing was to use the debates to express regrets and ask Americans to give him a second look. His favourability rating is so bad, Stevens said, that voters are now unwilling to listen to the case he is attempting to pros[...]

Media Files:

Trudeau heckled, booed at youth labour forum in Ottawa

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 10:05:15 EDT

OTTAWA—Dozens of delegates at a youth labour forum turned their backs Tuesday on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, using body language to express their frustrations with everything from global warming to so-called precarious work.As Trudeau began taking questions from two of the forum’s hosts, some delegates began to heckle and jeer while several rows of young people turned to face the back of the room, prompting harsh words from the prime minister himself.Their actions sent the wrong signal to the other young people in the room, Trudeau told his detractors.“It is a little bit frustrating for me to come in, sit down, look forward to hearing from you, talking with you, and seeing a room full of people who are standing in a way that shows they’re not listening,” he said.“And I think it reflects poorly on everyone who does want to listen and engage.”While Trudeau was applauded and cheered by some for defending himself, several delegates shouted back, calling the PM a “hypocrite” and holding signs reading “Keep the Promise.”Many of the delegates were upset with the Liberal government’s support for the controversial Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal, as well as Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s recent comments about “job churn.”This past weekend, Morneau told Liberal party insiders in Niagara Falls that the government needs to prepare for high turnover and short-term contracts among youth because such jobs are here to stay.“How do we train and retrain people as they move from job to job to job? Because it’s going to happen. We have to accept that,” Morneau said.The comments prompted cries of arrogance from the opposition Conservatives and New Democrats, who accused the finance minister of lacking an understanding of Canada’s youth unemployment problem.Many young people at Tuesday’s forum, which was organized by the Canadian Labour Congress, voiced frustration about their employment prospects, and booed as Trudeau also suggested that precarious work — including jobs with no pensions — is a fact of life.“It’s simply unacceptable when the minister of finance is saying young people need to get used to precarity, young people need to get used to not having the same opportunity as other generations have had,” said Briana Broderick, a youth delegate representing the United Steel Workers union at the forum.“This concept that we won’t have as much as other generations had, that’s really frustrating people.”Trudeau said the issue of precarious employment is a major concern for his government, and why the Liberals pushed so hard to reach a recent agreement with the provinces to make improvements to the Canada Pension Plan.The youth unemployment rate in Canada is almost twice the national average and has been since last year’s election campaign, when the Liberals promised to create 125,000 jobs annually for young people by spending $1.5 billion over four years on a youth employment strategy.Employment numbers for August showed the youth jobless rate was little changed from a year ago at 13.2 per cent.Vass Bednar, who chairs a new federal panel on youth unemployment, has warned the country could see economic and social ripples in the future without a clearer picture about where and how young people are failing in the labour market. Many of the delegates were critical of the Liberal government for considering signing onto the Trans Pacific trade deal, even turning their backs while Trudeau was speaking. [...]

Media Files:

Pot producers welcome Shopper’s application for licence

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 12:10:00 EDT


Shoppers Drug Mart confirmed Tuesday it had submitted an application to become a licensed medical marijuana producer, a move that medical marijuana producers welcomed.

“On the whole, it’s a really good thing because it shows that there is a level of credibility of the industry that might not have existed just two or three years ago,” said Jordan Sinclair, a spokesman for Tweed, a producer of medical marijuana with operations in Smiths Falls, Ont.

“I think when you see a player like Shoppers Drug Mart take notice and then decide they want to be a part of that industry, it really speaks volumes to how far cannabis as a medical option has come.”

Though the drug store chain announced Tuesday it had applied to become a licensed medical marijuana producer, it did so only in order to distribute the drug, according to a spokesperson.

“As we have indicated in the past, we believe that allowing medical marijuana to be dispensed through a pharmacy would increase access, safety, quality and security for the thousands of Canadians who use the drug as part of their medication therapy,” according to spokesperson Tammy Smitham.

“We have no intention of producing medical marijuana, but we do want the ability to dispense medical marijuana to our patients in conjunction with counselling from a pharmacist and we are hopeful that the Government of Canada will embrace that opportunity for enhanced patient care.”

Shoppers Drug Mart is owned by Loblaw Companies Ltd.

A government task force on marijuana legalization and regulation in Canada has concluded public hearings and is working on a submission to the federal government. Under Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the government has made a commitment to legalize marijuana, while strictly regulating and restricting access to the drug.

It is anticipated that the task force will finish its work by late fall 2016, and submit its final report to the ministers of justice, health, and public safety at the end of November, according to government spokesperson André Gagnon.

Currently, patients with prescriptions are only permitted to buy medical marijuana directly from licensed producers and have the product delivered by mail.

“I think it’s a good thing for the industry, overall,” said Deepak Anand, executive director of the Canadian National Medical Marijuana Association, representing licensed producers.

“I don’t think it’s a threat to licensed producers and I believe it opens up access to patients as a whole,” he said, adding that there is room for multiple players in the industry, especially with the legalization of marijuana for recreational use on the horizon.

Jeff Jacobson, a spokesperson for Peace Naturals, operating out of Stayner, Ont., said if Shoppers Drug Mart is able to supply marijuana, it will increase access, which will be beneficial to patients.

“As long as it remains patient-centric, we’re thrilled that more Canadians can get access to the treatment that they require.”

Shoppers Drug Mart says it has submitted an application to Health Canada to become a distributor of medical marijuana.

Media Files:

Joe Oliver to run for Ontario Tories in 2018 election

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 06:00:00 EDT

Former federal finance minister Joe Oliver will be running for Patrick Brown’s provincial Progressive Conservatives, the Star has learned.Oliver — prime minister Stephen Harper’s treasurer until losing his seat in Eglinton-Lawrence in last October’s vote — plans to seek the Tory nomination in York Centre for the 2018 election.“I really believe that we have a problem here in Ontario,” he said in an interview Monday.“In my opinion, Ontarians have been suffering far too long from the waste, incompetence, and political scandals of the Kathleen Wynne government.”As Harper’s right-hand man in Ottawa, he was not shy about sparring with the Liberal premier on issues such as pension reform, climate change, and infrastructure spending.Now, Oliver acknowledged, it’s time to put his money where his mouth was by coming to Queen’s Park.“I do believe there’s an opportunity to change things and if I can contribute to that in the election and later in the government by using my experience in finance . . . it would be a great honour,” said Oliver, adding he feels a “sense of obligation” to serve Ontarians.Oliver, 76, plans to square off against veteran York Centre Liberal Monte Kwinter, 85, the oldest MPP in Ontario history.Kwinter, who has been recovering from an unspecified illness at a Toronto retirement home in recent weeks, has not been seen at Queen’s Park for several months. But he was working in his constituency on Friday and he was part of Wynne’s trade mission to Israel in May.While the next election is not until June 7, 2018, the Tories expect to nominate a York Centre candidate between December and February.Oliver is one of many former Conservative MPs who want to join Brown, himself an MP from 2006 until 2015, in provincial politics.Other names being mentioned include defeated parliamentarians Paul Calandra from Markham and Mississauga’s Bob Dechert.PC Party president Rick Dykstra, St. Catharines MP until losing his seat in the federal Liberal sweep last fall, had his hopes of becoming an MPP dashed on Saturday.Dykstra, 50, lost the Niagara West-Glanbrook nomination for the Nov. 17 by-election to Sam Oosterhoff, a 19-year-old freshman at Brock University.Oosterhoff, a social conservative who was backed by anti-abortion activists and those opposing the updated sex-education curriculum, did not return messages seeking comment Monday.Campaigning in Ottawa-Vanier with his other Nov. 17 by-election candidate Andre Marin, the former Ontario ombudsman, Brown insisted the teen was onside with his progressive views.“I’ve spoken to him, he certainly supports my direction of the party,” the PC leader told the Ottawa Citizen’s Brian Platt.“On marriage equality, on sex education, I’ve made my position very clear, abundantly clear, around the province. He told me he supports my position,” said Brown.While Tories are publicly welcoming Oosterhoff’s candidacy, privately they are worried about the signal that Dykstra’s defeat sends about their leader’s grip on the party.There are concerns social conservatives could take over other ridings just as Brown is trying to recast his party — which leads in public-opinion polls — as a moderate mainstream alternative to the Liberals.Wynne, for her part, sounded almost gleeful that the Tories have nominated a teenager against Liberal lawyer Vicky Ringuette.“It’s a very cool thing that a 19-year-old would want to step up,” the premier said.“Now, we have a very strong progressive woman running in Niagara West—Glanbrook and there will be a clear distinction between the ideas of this young man and the ideas of our candidate. But that’s[...]

Media Files:

Oil prices continue downward slide, loonie regains some ground

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 12:10:26 EDT


Oil continued its downward slide this week on Tuesday amid continued uncertainty around crude supply, while all major North American markets recorded losses.

December crude contracts fell to $49.96 (U.S.) per barrel on Tuesday, shedding 56 cents US. Since Monday’s close, oil has lost a total of 89 cents US.

The price of oil teeters as some days deliver positive news and others negative news, said Kash Pashootan, a portfolio manager at Ottawa-based First Avenue Advisory.

On Monday, Iraq threw a wrench into OPEC’s preliminary agreement to cut oil production when the country’s oil minister said it wished to be exempt from the arrangement.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Energy Information Administration will release its weekly petroleum status report. Last week’s report showed a drop in production for the week up to Oct. 14, which contributed to high gains that day for the price of oil.

For the past six months the market has been trying to figure out what the price of oil should be in the short-term, said Pashootan, as the commodity bounces back from lows of roughly $26 a barrel earlier this year in February.

“It’s been trying to understand the supply and demand fundamentals and place a new normal for oil prices,” he said.

The commodity-sensitive loonie, meanwhile, recorded a slight gain, rising 0.20 of a U.S. cent to 74.90 cents US. It ended the day Monday at 74.70 cents US, the lowest close since March 8.

Toronto’s S&P/TSX composite index was dragged down by the energy sector, falling 52.38 points to 14,870.63.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average shed 53.76 points to 18,169.27, while the S&P 500 fell 8.17 points to 2,143.16. The Nasdaq composite dropped 26.43 points to 5,283.40.

Despite the day’s losses, Pashootan said that over the last few months equity markets have trended higher at a time when economic productivity has been dismal and uncertainties remain over a number of factors — including a potential interest rate hike by the U.S. central bank and oil prices.

“There’s a disconnect between economic growth and the enthusiasm in the equity markets,” he said, adding that global growth is not validating the equity market’s rise over the past year.

Pashootan attributed this rise to investors turning to equities as they look for ways to earn a return on their investments in the current low interest rate environment.

Elsewhere in commodities, December natural gas fell 17 cents to about $3.15 (U.S.) per mmBTU, the December gold contract rose $9.90 to $1,273.60 (U.S.) an ounce, and December copper contracts gained 4.55 cents at $2.14 (U.S.) a pound.

The commodity-sensitive loonie recorded a slight gain, rising 0.20 of a U.S. cent to 74.90 cents US.

Media Files:

Ben Smith inserted into Maple Leafs lineup tonight

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 12:31:10 EDT


Ben Smith will go directly from the waiver wire into the Maple Leafs lineup Tuesday night when Toronto hosts the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Air Canada Centre.

“This is my seventh year in pro hockey, I’ve learned not to question, just hope,” Smith said after the morning skate, less than 24 hours after being claimed off waivers from the Colorado Avalanche.

“I got a bonus from the Leafs here, they picked me up, so I’m not questioning. I just want to go out and work as hard as I can to help this team.”

Smith’s arrival came at the same time the Leafs placed 31-year-old veteran Milan Michalek on waivers. Michalek is expected to clear waivers Tuesday — he is earning $4 million (U.S.) in the final year of his deal, a tough contract to fit under any team’s cap space — and report to the Marlies.

For Smith, the Leafs saw value in having a veteran, right-handed forward who specializes in the penalty kill and can take faceoffs. The Leafs felt their penalty kill was vulnerable, with Leo Komarov and Connor Brown taking all the faceoffs when the team is short handed.

“For me, my game is all work ethic, and faceoffs are about 80 per cent work ethic,” said Smith, who played in 16 games with the Leafs last season, and also played with the Marlies, where he killed penalties with Brown and Zach Hyman.

“You realize in your career you are not going to get much power-play time, there’s just so many players with skill and talent. You realize you have to do something more to stay here, so penalty kill became an opportunity for me right from the start of my pro career.”

The 28-year-old Smith, who also has played for the Chicago Blackhawks and the San Jose Sharks, had signed with the Avalanche in August. His one-year, two-way deal calls for him to be paid $675,000 in the NHL and $150,000 in the AHL.

“Adding Smith today gives us a right-handed faceoff guy who can penalty kill too,” coach Mike Babcock said. “That was a concern for us. (Zach) Hyman and Leo are taking all the (PK) draws and they don’t play centre. We wanted to shore that up.”

Smith averaged one minute 53 seconds of ice time in four games with Colorado while the club was short handed. Of the 15 faceoffs Smith took with an Avs teammate in the penalty box, he won five.

In the meantime, the Leafs moved Nikita Zaitsev up to the top defensive pairing with Morgan Rielly at the morning skate. Coach Mike Babcock said Martin Marincin — Rielly’s normal partner — has a “bump” and is questionable for Tuesday’s game.

Matt Hunwick, who had been paired with Zaitsev, has Connor Carrick as his new partner. The third pairing will see Roman Polak and Jake Gardiner working together.

Ben Smith has been inserted into the Toronto Maple Leafs lineup tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Media Files:

Ontario’s electricity system operator reports ‘previously unrecognized’ $80M loss

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 10:30:12 EDT


Ontario’s efforts to ease the upward pressure on electricity rates has been dealt a setback by a change in accounting practices.

In the government’s public accounts for 2015-16, the Independent Electricity System Operator reported a “previously unrecognized actuarial loss and past service costs” of just over $80 million.

The provincial agency which oversees Ontario’s electricity market says it will raise fees it charges the power industry to recover the losses as part of its accumulated deficit charge.

Progressive Conservative researchers discovered the $80 million loss in the public accounts and the Opposition plans to raise the issue in the legislature today.

The Tories point out the loss more than offsets the $70 million the Liberals said would be saved over seven years under Ontario’s new deal to purchase two terawatt hours of electricity annually from Quebec.

The Liberals are also removing the 8 per cent provincial portion of the HST from electricity bills, and scrapping plans for more wind and solar power projects, to reduce system costs and ease upward pressure on rates.

The IESO, which combined operations with the now-defunct Ontario Power Authority in January 2015, had an accumulated deficit of $74 million and a net debt of $184 million, with revenues of $187 million.

Progressive Conservative researchers discovered the $80 million loss in the government’s public accounts for 2015-16.

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Trump took $17 million for hurricane damage that staff, officials do not recall

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 13:59:00 EDT

PALM BEACH, FLA.—Donald Trump said he received a $17 million (US) insurance payment in 2005 for hurricane damage to Mar-a-Lago, his private club in Palm Beach, but there is little evidence of such large-scale damage.Two years after a series of storms, the real estate tycoon said he didn’t know how much had been spent on repairs but acknowledged he pocketed some of the money. Trump transferred funds into his personal accounts, saying that under the terms of his policy, “you didn’t have to reinvest it.”In a deposition in an unrelated civil lawsuit, Trump said he got the cash from a “very good insurance policy” and cited ongoing work to the historic home.“Landscaping, roofing, walls, painting, leaks, artwork in the — you know, the great tapestries, tiles, Spanish tiles, the beach, the erosion,” he said of the storm damage. “It’s still not what it was.”Trump’s description of extensive damage does not match those of Mar-a-Lago members and even Trump loyalists. In an interview about the estate’s history, Trump’s longtime former butler, Anthony Senecal, recalled no catastrophic damage. He said Hurricane Wilma, the last of a string of storms that barrelled through in 2004 and 2005, flattened trees behind Mar-a-Lago, but the house itself only lost some roof tiles.“That house has never been seriously damaged,” said Senecal, discussing Mar-a-Lago’s luck with hurricanes. “I was there for all of them.”Just over two weeks after Wilma, Trump hosted 370 guests at Mar-a-Lago for the wedding of his son Donald Jr.While part of that celebration did have to be moved away from the front lawn due to hurricane damage, wedding photographs by Getty Images showed the house, pools, cabanas and landscaping in good repair.Valuations for Mar-a-Lago are subjective, but Forbes estimated the 10,000-square-metre property’s value at $150 million in its most recent appraisal of Trump’s net worth. The estate’s historic nature would add to any repair costs, but Tim Frank, Palm Beach’s planning administrator at the time of the hurricanes, said $17 million in work would have required “dozens, maybe scores of workers.” In 2004, Trump built a 2,000-square-metre ballroom from scratch for less than $6 million, according to building permits.Palm Beach building department records show no permits for construction on that scale after the storms. Permits reflected smaller projects, including installation of new grease traps in the kitchen and tree trimming along the road. The only permits that appeared hurricane-related were for $3,000 in repairs to storm-damaged outdoor lighting and the vacuuming of sand from the property’s beachfront pool. Likewise, records of the city’s Landmarks and Preservation Commission reflected no repair work conducted following the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons.The $17 million Mar-a-Lago insurance payment surfaced during a 2007 deposition in Trump’s unsuccessful libel lawsuit against journalist Tim O’Brien, whom Trump accused of underestimating his wealth. As part of the case, O’Brien’s attorneys were permitted to review Trump’s financial records, including some from the Mar-a-Lago Club. They asked Trump to quantify the damage and explain why he had pocketed money instead of spending it on repairs.Trump said repairs were ongoing, but acknowledged he could not remember which hurricane had damaged Mar-a-Lago or when it hit.“We continue to spend the money because we continue to suffer the ravages of that hurricane,” Trump said. “We’re continuously spending money. It[...]

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Mississauga Chiefs keep their name with First Nations blessing

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 06:00:00 EDT

In the heated debate over teams with indigenous names and logos, one Mississauga team is keen on keeping theirs — and it has an indigenous community’s blessing.The Mississauga Chiefs, who play in the Mississauga Girls Hockey League, have had the name since the team’s inception, but their logo, an arrowhead, was designed more recently after a dialogue with the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation.“I don’t believe they have to change (their name),” said New Credit Chief Stacey Laforme. “They’re not the only people who have chiefs. We have police chiefs, fire chiefs …“I don’t find it offensive and they represent themselves in a good way and they have met with us to talk. I think it’s an opportunity to educate them and to educate the fans.”The Chiefs were among five hockey teams in Mississauga cited in a complaint to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario over team names and logos deemed “racially insensitive.” Brad Gallant, of Qalipu Mi’kmaq ancestry, filed the complaint, which asks the city of Mississauga to end its “subsidy” to five hockey teams using indigenous names or logos, and for the city to remove their mascots and banners from municipal property. “I realize that the mascots are the most visual and constant barrier to change,” Gallant said. “So long as you think you can do what you want with another person’s culture, then it’s kind of hard for them to get respect for that culture.” The hearing for Gallant’s complaint is set for Nov. 21-23, but the Mississauga Chiefs are hopeful that the tribunal will let them keep their name. Mississauga Girls Hockey League president Marian Jacko, an Ojibwa woman whose daughters play on the team, said she doesn’t find the name offensive. “We wear the logo with pride, we carry the name with pride … There’s nothing disrespectful, there’s nothing derogatory about it,” said Jacko. “We try to have the kids from the organization learn about the culture.”Last summer, she added, the Jr. Chiefs team and league players were invited to attend the New Credit First Nation’s powwow. Laforme also attended the league’s Annual Jr. Chiefs Day and welcomed everyone to his community’s traditional territory.In her statement to the Human Rights Tribunal, Jacko wrote: “It is only through these positive relationships and positive promotion of our Indigenous background and identity that our children and future generations will see reconciliation become a reality.”But, Laforme cautioned, “not all logos are that way. Certain logos by their nature are automatically offensive.”Of the remaining four teams in the complaint, two have made efforts to change their names and logos.The Meadowvale Mohawks and the Lorne Park Ojibwa, both of which play in the Mississauga Hockey League, a member organization of the Greater Toronto Hockey League, have changed their names to the Meadowvale Hawks and the Lorne Park Clarkson Wild. But the move was not strictly in reaction to the upcoming tribunal hearing, said MHL executive director Jeff Leavens. “It was a coincidence that it worked out, but in actual fact the Lorne Park Clarkson group is going to go to the tribunal hearings in an effort to try to retain some degree of the Ojibwa name,” he said.“They feel it’s important to the history of their club and I think for this season they have a patch on the shoulder of their new jersey with the logo,” he said. “I believe they’re going to drop that for next sea[...]

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