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Published: Fri, 19 Jan 2018 02:40:36 EST

Copyright: Copyright Toronto Star 1996-2013 ,

Who is Bruce McArthur, the man charged with the murders of two missing men?Who is Bruce McArthur, the man charged with the murders of two missing men?

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 20:11:57 EST


Friends of 66-year-old Bruce McArthur were left shocked and speechless to learn the Toronto man is facing two charges of first-degree murder after the disappearances of two men.

McArthur, a self-employed landscaper who lives in Thorncliffe Park, was arrested by police at 10:30 a.m. Thursday.

A friend of McArthur’s from Lindsay, Ont., immediately began sobbing when confronted by the news.

“No!” said Marion Clark Luchies, “Oh my goodness, I can’t believe it, she said, stifling sharp gasps. “I’m just flabbergasted is all I can say. I have nothing to say. I’m just flabbergasted, that’s all.

“I’m just absolutely shocked, beyond shocked.”

Luchies attended Fenelon Falls Secondary School, located in the Kawartha Lakes. McArthur also attended the school, according to his social media profiles.

McArthur’s Facebook account offers a glimpse into his life, which appears to be filled with family get-togethers and time out in the city’s gay community.

But a closer look at his friends list reveals he also appears to be connected with missing man Skandaraj “Skanda” Navaratnam.

Read more:

Councillor calls arrest in disappearance of men validating to community

Gay Village residents react with anguish, relief at news of arrest in case of missing men

Toronto police to review handling of missing persons cases

Navaratnam went missing in Sept. 2010. He and two others, Abdulbasir “Basir” Faizi, and Majeed “Hamid” Kayhan — all middle-aged members of the Church and Wellesley area community — disappeared between mid-2010 and late 2012.

The disappearances of these three men are being investigated by police through Project Houston. Information in that investigation was referenced by police in relation to McArthur’s charges, police said in a Thursday afternoon press conference.

None of the men have been found, although police are looking for links between the Project Houston disappearances and those of Selim Esen, 44, and Andrew Kinsman, 49, for which McArthur is facing charges.

In many other photos on Facebook, McArthur is shown dressed as Santa and posing with families, suggesting he worked as a mall Santa.

In 2016, he posted a photo of three York Regional Police officers on Wellesley St. during the Toronto Pride Parade. He’s shown attending a number of the city’s arts and sports venues, including Roy Thompson Hall and a Blue Jays game at the Rogers Centre.

Bruce McArthur, identified by friends, was arrested on Thursday morning.

Media Files:

Fiera Foods, subject of Star investigation, fined for illegal expansionFiera Foods, subject of Star investigation, fined for illegal expansion

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 19:46:37 EST

A North York industrial bakery that was the subject of a Star investigation last year has been convicted under the Environmental Protection Act and fined $65,000, after pleading guilty to illegally expanding its facilities.Fiera Foods, which is one of the region’s largest food manufacturers and was investigated by the Star for its use of temporary agency workers, was charged last year after Ministry of the Environment inspectors found the plant undergoing construction without the required environmental permissions in 2015. Fiera’s offences took place between March 2014 and February 2016, the ministry added. The company will pay a victim surcharge of more than $16,000 in addition to the fine issued under the Environmental Protection Act. Fiera’s counsel David Gelbloom did not respond to the Star’s requests for comment on the conviction, but has previously said the factory took a “series of noise mitigation measures” following ministry investigations and that it strives to be a “good corporate neighbour.”Since 2016, local residents have lodged around a thousand noise complaints about the newly-expanded facilities, according to the ministry.Fiera Foods was also charged with failing to implement noise control measures at its facility, but those charges were withdrawn as part of a negotiated plea agreement.An investigation conducted two years ago by ministry inspector Linda Cioffi found Fiera and its sister company Marmora Freezing Corp. had expanded without ministry approval and had failed to install noise barriers around recently constructed cooling towers as required by the terms of its Environmental Compliance Approval, the reports obtained by the Star show.In her investigation, Cioffi described visiting a nearby home and hearing “an audible hum of noise” upstairs, even when the windows were closed.“During this time, operation of equipment was observed directly … which was believed to be (the factory’s) western cooling towers,” the report says.The result was an “adverse effect on health” and “material discomfort” for local residents in violation of environmental protection laws, the report said. Several months later, she investigated again and found that the company had taken some measures to reduce noise but “continues to cause off-site impacts.”The factory has since built noise barriers and has complied with all orders against it, the ministry confirmed. A separate application by the company to receive retroactive approval for its factory expansion, which also did not receive the required municipal permits, was approved in December by the Ontario Municipal Board. The board ruled that the factory’s expansion met provincial criteria for “good planning,” and found there was no excessive noise generated specifically from the parts of its expansion under appeal.Four local residents also appeared as participants before the board asking it to deny the appeal. They cited ongoing noise issues disrupting the community and argued that many of the jobs on offer at Fiera were temporary, precarious positions.“Nowhere in provincial policy do we promote low-paying precarious employment,” testified Paul Zamperin, whose aging parents live behind the factory.Last year, the Star sent a reporter to work undercover at Fiera, whose clients for its baked goods have included the likes of Tim Hortons, Walmart, Costco, Metro, Sobeys and Loblaw. The Star’s reporter, who was hired through a temp agency, received about five minutes of safety training, no hands-on instruction and was paid in cash at a payday lender without any documentation or deductions.Fiera and Marmora Freezing Corp. have been convicted under the Occupational Health and Safety Act in relation to the death of three temp agency workers since 1999.In the wake of the Star’s investigation, Fiera announced it would conduct an internal audit of it use of temp workers, as well as its health and safety [...]

Media Files:

Toronto is the only Canadian city on Amazon's short list of HQ2 candidatesToronto is the only Canadian city on Amazon's short list of HQ2 candidatesToronto is the only Canadian city on Amazon's short list of HQ2 candidates

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 09:25:00 EST

Thrilled and wide open for business.That’s how Toronto Mayor John Tory, the Ontario government and regional politicians are describing the bombshell announcement Thursday that Toronto was the only Canadian city to make Amazon’s list of 20 finalist locations in North America to locate its second headquarters.“We are excited to have this opportunity and to be able to tell Toronto’s unique story,” Tory said in a statement.“The Toronto Region has emerged as a global centre of innovation and technology because of our talented, diverse and inclusive workforce. There is no other city region in North America that can boast the same talent, the same quality of life, the same vibrancy and economic strength,” he said. The retail behemoth plans to invest more than $5 billion into the project and hire 50,000 highly paid employees in the city housing it. “It’s outstanding news for Toronto. It’s outstanding news, of course, for the province of Ontario,” Economic Development Minister Steven Del Duca said at cabinet on Thursday.“I’m really thrilled. Clearly we still have work to do, but to know that we finished in the top 20 out of 238 original applicants — to know that we’re the only Canadian … jurisdiction to make the list — is truly phenomenal news,” he said.The minister noted that unlike many other applicants, Toronto did not need to offer any financial incentives to Amazon.Instead, the Ontario government pledged to boost support for students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and those studying artificial intelligence (AI).Read more: More than 100 cities have put forward bids for Amazon’s HQ2. Here are the weirdestSeattle knows all about the downsides of an Amazon headquartersToronto’s tech talent being used to woo AmazonThe list of finalists released on Thursday includes the cities of Atlanta, Austin, Texas, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Philadelphia, Toronto, Washington, Pittsburgh, Raleigh, North Carolina; Nashville, Tennessee; Newark, New Jersey; Columbus, Ohio. It also listed northern Virginia and Montgomery County in Maryland as potential sites.Although it received bids from regions in Mexico, Seattle-based Amazon narrowed its finalists to just Canadian and American cities.When the unusual public contest was announced in September, it set off a public charm offensive by the applicants, with many local officials trying to entice the company with tax breaks and other benefits.The process will now shift into a new phase, with Amazon representatives communicating more directly with finalist cities as they prepare to select a winner later this year, and perhaps with cities being even more outspoken about why they should be chosen.Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said in a statement that she has tapped Ed Clark, business adviser to the premier, to chair the government’s response. Clark, former CEO of TD Bank Group, will help guide the bid in collaboration with Toronto Global, federal and local governments, along with business and community stakeholders.With files from Queen’s Park Bureau Chief Robert Benzie, the Canadian Press and the New York Times Toronto has made the list of 20 cities being considered by Amazon for its second headquarters.[...]Toronto entered a tight race to become home to Amazon’s second headquarters. Toronto is on the list of 20 cities being considered.

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‘If there is no Wall, there is no Deal!’ Trump threatens in advance of NAFTA talks‘If there is no Wall, there is no Deal!’ Trump threatens in advance of NAFTA talks

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 21:08:13 EST

OTTAWA—U.S. President Donald Trump called the North American trade deal a “bad joke!” as he made an oft-repeated threat Thursday to force Mexico to pay for a border wall.“The Wall will be paid for, directly or indirectly, or through longer-term reimbursement, by Mexico,” Trump wrote in a tweet in which he slammed the trade imbalance between Mexico and the United States. “The $20 billion dollar Wall is ‘peanuts’ compared to what Mexico makes from the U.S. NAFTA is a bad joke!” Two hours later, Trump threatened, “If there is no Wall, there is no Deal!”In Toronto for meetings with Finance Minister Bill Morneau, Mexico’s Secretary of Finance and Public Credit Jose Antonio Gonzalez Anaya retorted Mexico’s position is equally clear — there can be no deal if the U.S. insists on payment for a wall. He told reporters it is an “issue of national sovereignty and dignity.” With the next round of NAFTA talks looming in Montreal, Canadian officials are increasingly concerned about the U.S. agenda.One government source said the White House may be looking to claim a collapse of NAFTA talks as a “victory” — however hollow — and vindication of Trump’s claim that trade deals are “unfair” to the U.S. The senior Canadian official told the Star the hardened U.S. positions at the NAFTA table — or “poison pills” that U.S. negotiators put forth in the last two rounds — show “victory for them looks like getting us to walk away from NAFTA.”However, the source said Canada will not walk away, and intends on remaining at the table with “whoever is there.”Speaking on a background-only basis, the official added that in the past two weeks the president got “an earful” from U.S. agriculture industry leaders, state governors and senators about the benefits of NAFTA — arguments bolstered by last week’s stock market jitters over NAFTA uncertainty.But few are making predictions about the outcome of the Montreal round.Another senior government source said it is “hard to get clarity” on what the president’s intention on NAFTA is. “I don’t think he’s made up his mind what he’s going to do. He’s looking for any signs of weakness,” said the insider. It is possible, he suggested, the president would “make a splash” on NAFTA in the upcoming State of the Union address, but Trump could just as easily do that in a tweet.Publicly, Canada is trying to keep calm and carry on. Canada expects a larger presence of American trade association, industry representatives and business leaders at the Montreal talks.After meeting his Mexican counterpart in Toronto, Morneau said the federal government is still focused on “Plan A” — nailing a new North American free trade deal, and he declined to discuss what any Plan B looks like. Nevertheless, federal Finance officials are mapping out which sectors of the Canadian economy would be hardest hit if, as seems increasingly possible, talks fail.“We, of course, plan for every scenario,” said Morneau who downplayed the significance of his department’s analysis. “It’s the job of the Finance Department is to run models on everything.”In consultations with Canadian business leaders, Morneau said he has simply urged them to make the case for NAFTA to the “other countries in this discussion.”Canadian officials say the Montreal negotiations have been extended, and will start earlier and end later then previously scheduled.Preliminary negotiations will start with discussions Sunday and Monday around financial services, energy, investment, textiles, procurement and agriculture.The main negotiations start Tuesday and end the following Monday, Jan. 29, with the key government ministers from all three countries attending the final day[...]

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Edward Keenan: King St. middle-finger approach seems like an odd way to deal with lost businessEdward Keenan: King St. middle-finger approach seems like an odd way to deal with lost business

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 20:35:12 EST

If you were riding on a streetcar on King St. W. through the Theatre District this week, you might have noticed a strange marketing gesture aimed at you. A giant ice sculpture on the patio of the Kit Kat restaurant, in the shape of a raised middle finger.Why would this restaurant be flipping you the bird? A handwritten sign on the door of the restaurant cleared up any doubt about who the “profanity” was aimed at. “The King Street Pilot Project is hurting our business,” it reads. And by mid-week, the fingers were multiplying as more of them appeared, flipping off potential customers along the route.For people who say business is down because of streetcar traffic, I gotta say the owners have chosen a really bizarre way to try to welcome riders in.Despite the TTC’s reporting on the ridership and transit-travel success of the pilot project, recent headlines have been dominated by the complaints of business owners about sales declines they say correspond to the yearlong pilot’s launch in mid-November. These business owners say the elimination of street parking and imposition of local-traffic-only car travel restrictions are responsible for the downturn.Fred Luk, owner of Fred’s Not Here, another Theatre District restaurant, wrote an op-ed in the Star recently making the case that transforming the street into an “urban freeway for streetcars” has turned the strip into “a wasteland. No vibrancy, no pedestrians, no culture . . . and soon to be inhabited by ‘Closed’ and ‘For Sale’ signs.”It’s worth noting that Luk has a bit of a habit of declaring that the end is nigh for his restaurant and the businesses around it. My colleague Shawn Micallef recently enumerated how often Luk has cried “wolf” in the media: last year Luk called the increase in the minimum wage a “small business killer,” and said that businesses like his “cannot survive” their Toronto Hydro bills. In 2011 he said the G20 threatened his business, in 2006 he said SARS and parking rates and the theatre season were “a killer.”And the Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association (ORHMA), whose members have been vocal along with Luk about business declines they attribute to the pilot, has a similar record of doomsaying: at various times in the past few years they said that a hotel tax, a liquor tax, improved employment standards and banning smoking were all things that threatened their industry. Back when the health department first started posting inspection reports on restaurants where customers could see them through the DineSafe program, the ORHMA took them to court to try to stop it.And Al Carbone of Kit Kat, originator of the icy middle finger? When he said condo development would destroy King St. in 2014, local political representative Adam Vaughan told my colleague Jennifer Wells, “Al likes a fight, and he’s having one.”Indeed he is, again.All this does not mean these people are lying, or even wrong, necessarily. It just means no one would accuse them of ever understating their fears about change.It may well be true that business is down. The city is tracking point-of-sale data (from King St. and for other areas for comparison purposes) and will report it later this year. Meanwhile, I think it’s fair to take the complainers’ claims of year-over-year sales declines at face value.But is it necessarily obvious such a decline is related to the pilot? I’m not sure it is. Last year at this time, the Theatre District was home to the record-smashing run of the Broadway-bound Come From Away. This year it is not. Not only that, but urban planner Gil Meslin (a frequently vocal cycling and transit advocate) pointed out on Twitter that the main theatres of the district were dark on more than twice as many days in 2017 as they were in 2016. Following Meslin’s lead, I checked historic[...]

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Her teen daughter left Montreal to join Daesh. For three years, she made it her mission to get her outHer teen daughter left Montreal to join Daesh. For three years, she made it her mission to get her out

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 06:30:00 EST

MONTREAL—Saeeda was at work when she got the message: “Mama, I’ve left to join ISIS.”There are no words, Saeeda says, to describe how she felt on that November 2014 afternoon. It was as if her teenage daughter had just died and Saeeda’s life would now be defined in two acts: Before she learned her daughter left Canada for Syria, and after.“I, I cried out. I yelled,” she says. “I didn’t know what to do. I started to slap my knees . . . I just kept doing it.” As concerned colleagues surrounded her, Saeeda went numb. But the next week, when her daughter called and sounded desperate, saying she regretted what she had done, another instinct clicked in. Rather than mourning what felt like a death, she realized she might be the only person who could keep her daughter alive.“I knew my daughter regretted everything . . . she realized from the beginning that what she had done was not good for her; she would pay for her mistake.” Saeeda embarked on what would become a three-year mission to get her home. She would not break down again until this past November, when she got word that her daughter had finally escaped ISIS territory. Her daughter, now 22 and a mother of two, is still in Syria, but in the custody of the coalition-allied Kurdish forces. Canadian officials are preparing to bring them home. “(When) I knew she was with the Kurds, that’s when it hit me. That’s when I cried. I screamed all over again,” says Saeeda.“Everyone thinks I’ve been strong and courageous. No, I haven’t been strong or courageous. It’s only because I was looking for a solution and I forgot the problem.”Saeeda’s mission to save her daughter and granddaughters — a journey that took her from Canada to Germany and Turkey and introduced her to Syrian militias, activists, dissidents, and Canada’s security establishment — is portrayed in The Way Out, a documentary airing Sunday night on CBC TV. Saeeda is a pseudonym and her daughter is identified in the film as “Amina.” Her story is a rare and intimate portrayal of one mother’s fight to get her daughter away from Daesh, the terrorist group also known as ISIS or ISIL.Daesh lost nearly all its territory last year to a coalition of Iraqi, Syrian, Kurdish and Arab forces, backed by international partners. But the conflict is far from over and while Daesh no longer occupies the land they once ruled, the group’s ideology dangerously lives on. Countries whose citizens joined Daesh and now want to return home are grappling with how to handle those who lived among one of the most feared groups in the world. There will be straightforward cases where former members are prosecuted and jailed. But for others, where there is insufficient evidence to lay charges, authorities may seek rehabilitation programs or community-based options.The federal government has said cases of “returnees” will be determined on an individual basis, but the issue, when publicly debated, rarely moves beyond politics into pragmatism. When the Star first reported in December that Amina was in Kurdish custody, the case erupted during question period, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended his government’s “multi-faceted approach.” “The prime minister is using a broad spectrum that includes poetry and podcasts, and all kinds of counselling and group hug sessions,” Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer replied to a chorus of cheers and jeers. Amina’s role with Daesh is unknown. But according to Saeeda and the information she has received from police, nothing suggests Amina went beyond being a wife and mother. If she were charged upon her return, prosecutors would need to present evidence that she joined Daesh to “for the purpose of enhancing the ability of any terrorist group to facilitate or ca[...]

Media Files:

Wynne gets an earful in Ottawa town hallWynne gets an earful in Ottawa town hall

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 22:11:40 EST


It was no leisurely skate on the Rideau Canal for Premier Kathleen Wynne as she took her town hall road show to Ottawa.

As at previous forums in Toronto and Brampton last fall, Wynne faced some tough questions from the public Thursday evening on a slew of policy matters.

“The violence in our schools is beyond control,” fumed a retired teacher named Pat, who said her former colleagues are frightened for their safety and that of their students.

“We’re losing our jobs all across the province,” said one man, noting his girlfriend lost hers as a result of a store closure triggered by the recent increase of the hourly minimum wage increase to $14 from $11.60 and likening Ontario to “Soviet Russia.”

“What about elder abuse?” said a 76-year-old senior named Shirley, referring to problems in Ontario nursing homes.

An Algonquin College student named Brett worried about the “disturbing trend of anti-Semitism” on campuses.

Another man, who had been aggressively heckling, delivered a rambling screed about how the province’s investment in child-care spaces was tantamount to the government wanting to supplant parents in raising kids.

Looking slightly incredulous, Wynne wondered if he were asking her about “the evil of child care.”

“Women can’t get into the workforce if there’s no child care in their community,” she told him, before touting the 100,000 new child-care spaces her government plans to deliver.

Several others in the capacity crowd of 360 people at Ben Franklin place in suburban Nepean expressed alarm about the looming legalization of marijuana.

“What’s your plan to control all these things,” asked one man worried that children will have even more access to weed.

“I appreciate the concerns,” said Wynne, explaining that the LCBO will control all recreational marijuana in 40 standalone stores and online when federal legalization takes effect in July.

“The education that is going to happen is going to be critical. We need to make sure that our streets are actually safer,” she added.

It was the first town hall Wynne has hosted since the Jan. 1 launch of the higher minimum wage and the new free pharmacare program for everyone under 25, and the premier frequently circled back to those two issues.

“Having a living wage creates a stronger society,” she said, defending the hike.

Wynne also said she was hopeful the “OHIP+” prescription drug plan would serve as a model for other provinces to expand health services.

Moderated by Algonquin College president and CEO Cheryl Jensen, and with costs covered by taxpayers, it was a government event instead of a partisan Liberal rally.

Indeed, Wynne never once mentioned her party, her political rivals, Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, or the June 7 election.

The premier said she would do her next town hall in Thunder Bay on Jan. 31.

Will Hickie, a member of the public in attendance, asks a question as he interrupts Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne as she speaks during a town hall meeting in Ottawa.

Media Files:

Toronto police board asks for report on sexual harassment policies following sergeant’s human rights complaintToronto police board asks for report on sexual harassment policies following sergeant’s human rights complaintToronto police board asks for report on sexual harassment policies following sergeant’s human rights complaint

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 18:20:01 EST

In the wake of a female Toronto sergeant’s allegations that she worked in a “poisoned, sexist” environment, the Toronto police board has asked for a detailed report on the force’s sexual harassment policies — and asked the chief to determine if changes need to be made.“I think we can all agree that the community context around workplace sexual harassment is zero tolerance,” said police board member Shelley Carroll, who moved a motion at Thursday’s board meeting for an update on Toronto police sexual discrimination and harassment policies.Carroll’s motion came after a Toronto Star story detailing a veteran female police officer’s complaint to Ontario’s Human Rights Tribunal alleging sexual harassment and discrimination.Sgt. Jessica McInnis, 43, who has served nearly 20 years with the Toronto police, filed a complaint last month alleging that she was subjected to demeaning and discriminatory treatment, including a “steady barrage” of unsolicited sexually explicit text messages from her former police partner, Det. Mark Morris.McInnis alleges that when she complained to a senior manager about her colleague’s behaviour she was told to “suck it up.”None of the allegations have been tested at the tribunal.David Butt, Morris’ lawyer, has said that McInnis’ allegations are “either false or deliberately misleading” and will be “vigorously contested,” adding that Morris will respond in detail in the appropriate legal forum, “and at that time he will have plenty to say.”Toronto police spokesperson Meaghan Gray said in an email last month that McInnis’ claim would be carefully reviewed once it was received, and the service would consider its response. Until then, Toronto police would not be commenting, she said.Noting that complaints such as McInnis’ can take a “very, very long time” to work their way through the tribunal system, Carroll said there was action the board could take immediately to ensure officers are adhering to Toronto police sexual harassment policies.“To my mind, that news media story came at this very volatile tipping point time (during) #metoo. This is very much top of mind for everyone in the community,” Carroll said, in reference to McInnis’ case, though noting she could not specifically comment on it.Carroll’s motion, passed unanimously by the board Thursday, asks Chief Mark Saunders to provide a report on current, ongoing efforts to make sure service members are adhering to workplace sexual harassment policy. It also asks whether those policies should be reviewed.Saunders said he was happy to provide a report and said he understood the spirit in which the issue was being brought up, but wanted to make sure there was “no connotation that there is no ongoing training when it comes to that subject matter.”There is continuous training, he said, “right from the employment level right through to supervision all ranks, all levels.”Saunders was asked to prepare the report for April meeting of the police board.McInnis’ 15-page complaint includes more than 100 text messages or group chats through messaging app WhatsApp that the sergeant alleges were sent to her over more than two years beginning in 2015. The messages include sexual comments about McInnis and Morris and images or videos of partially or fully naked women and men, according to the complaint.The sergeant’s complaint also alleges there is a broader problem within her former police detachment — 14 division, in downtown Toronto — and alleges there is a “general culture of sexism.”That includes an environment that the claim alleges discourages women targeted by sexist behaviour from coming forward.“Often when a woman wou[...]

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Air Canada to conduct ‘immediate safety review’ following San Francisco close callsAir Canada to conduct ‘immediate safety review’ following San Francisco close calls

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 22:07:16 EST

SAN FRANCISCO—Following two alarming close-calls at San Francisco International Airport last year, Air Canada has agreed to an immediate safety review of its entire operations, including increased pilot training and a closer look at the airline’s arrivals and departures at SFO.The airline’s agreement — worked out with Transport Canada — comes amid a spike in incidents involving other airlines during takeoffs and landings at SFO. The National Transportation Safety Board is also investigating a December 2016 incident where a passenger jet almost pulled onto a runway in front of a departing jet, as well as a February 2017 incident where a plane aborted a landing when it learned another commercial jet was on the runway.But the sweeping Air Canada reviews show how serious the two SFO incidents with the airline were, including one which aviation experts have said could have caused one of the deadliest aviation disasters ever.“Many airlines have gone through this type of scrutiny after a major problem,” said Ross Aimer, a retired United Airlines pilot and CEO of Aero Consulting Experts, who has followed the SFO mishaps. “These are all good and welcomed measures. However, I don’t see a crucial part, which is a look at pilot fatigue issues in Canada.”Aimer said he believes fatigue played a role in both Air Canada incidents at SFO. In July, an Air Canada jet nearly landed on four passenger jets awaiting takeoff after the flight crew mistook a crowded taxiway for its intended runway. In October, an Air Canada jet ignored repeated orders from the tower to abort its landing because air traffic controllers feared a different plane was still on the runway. The Air Canada plane landed safely, and later explained that it was having problems with its radio.“Transport Canada continues to work with Air Canada as a result of these incidents,” said Transport Canada spokesperson Marie-Anyk Côté. “To date, the department is satisfied with the review conducted by Air Canada of their Airbus program as well as the corrective action plan they have put in place to address identified issues.”The measures include:Conducting an immediate safety review of Air Canada’s operations;Reducing intervals between pilot training and evaluation from eight to six months for the next three years;Conducting four inflight surveillance flights into and out of SFO;Appointing a technical adviser to observe the ongoing SFO investigations;Enhancing surveillance activities on the airline’s narrow body Airbus fleet and;Air Canada conducting a complete review of its operations.Air Canada did not respond to a request for comment. Côté said Air Canada’s operations audit is ongoing.Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson Ian Gregor said his agency is “satisfied with the actions (Air Canada and Transport Canada) have taken.”Last week, an Aeromexico plane lined up to the wrong runway, where a Virgin America plane was waiting to depart. That plane dropped to about 76 metres (250 feet) and was about 1 kilometre from the start of the runway before aborting the landing and flying over the other aircraft, according to data reviewed by this news agency.The NTSB is also investigating a Feb. 15 incident at SFO, during which Compass Airlines Flight 6081 had been cleared to land on the same runway where a Virgin America plane had been cleared to wait for takeoff. The Airport Surface Detection System radar alerted the tower of the mistake and the Compass flight successfully aborted its landing.Federal investigators are also probing a runway incident on Dec. 14, 2016 at SFO when a SkyWest Airlines flight entered the runway as another jet taking off raced past, according to the NTSB.[...]In July 2017, an Air Canada jet nearly landed on four [...]

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Rosie DiManno: Carleton study proves TDSB was wrong to remove cops from schoolsRosie DiManno: Carleton study proves TDSB was wrong to remove cops from schools

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 17:33:39 EST

It can be excruciating to admit error. Especially when certainty is habitual.This is a character flaw acute in pedagogues and pedants.The Toronto District School Board, as an example, is awash in moral certitude. What I would call OISE-itis, with that fanatic’s glint in the eye.We saw the trouble that zealous conviction caused in the past week after the board was complicit in pushing forward an 11-year-old student who claimed her hijab had been cut off by a stranger-assailant wielding a pair of scissors.The incident, which garnered worldwide attention, never happened.But the board was so palpably eager to make a statement of its own that it ignored the ethical implications of putting an 11-year-old in the media spotlight, at a press conference with police held at the girl’s school.And you can see why: A distressing incident, reeking of Islamophobia, is right in the progressive board’s wheelhouse, to righteously (and rightly) condemn.Schools — although in this instance the figment snipping occurred off-school premises — should of course be, as a board spokesperson commented after-the-fall, places of safety and respectful relations where any type of racism and bullying must not be tolerated. The school and the board, reacting to what appeared a deplorable event, had been motivated by “compassion, care, concern and support.”I don’t dispute that.They will argue that their instincts were right even if the facts turned out to be wrong.I might dispute that but won’t.Here’s the thing: They’re making a habit of it. Getting it wrong before all the facts are in.What’s worse, facts can be ignored when the board doesn’t much like what the data is telling them; when the facts present a picture which belies the message they choose to promote or the unquantified theory they’ve embraced.If the board had an ounce of integrity, it would admit wrong-headed, non-evidence-based thinking in its regrettable decision last year to ditch the School Resource Officer program.That thumbs-down rushed verdict was disproportionately influenced by muscle-flexing Black Lives Matter — an activist organization that has much to commend itself for (though far more in the U.S. than up here) — and the concerns of minority parents that they’re kids were being unduly targeted, over-scrutinized and prematurely criminalized.In its haste to be seen as kids-first empathetic and diversity-vigilant, the board accepted a staff report recommending elimination of the suddenly controversial program, even though that very report — a survey of 15,000 students slapped together in six weeks — shows that a majority of students had a “generally positive impression of the program.”That cut off at the pass a separate independent SRO evaluation, to have been conducted by Ryerson University at the request of police Chief Mark Saunders. The review has been cancelled. And honestly, what would be the point since the board bossy-boots had already made up their mind, obviously not to be dissuaded by a potentially conflicting assessment.Yet now we have the results of yet another longitudinal probe — three years in the making — “multi-method (quantitative, qualitative, and ethnographic analysis), along with a Social Return on Investment (SROI) analysis case study — that throws dark shade on the TDSB dug-in posture.This comprehensive research project — a deep-probe on the value of having a police officer school presence — was undertaken by two Carleton University professors, Linda Duxbury (a professor in the Sprott School of Business) and Craig Bennell (psychology professor at the university) and their PhD students, with funding from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council.Their [...]

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Asian supermarket giant reverses decision to cut paid breaks Asian supermarket giant reverses decision to cut paid breaks

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 06:00:00 EST

Canada’s largest Asian supermarket has backpedalled on a plan to cut paid breaks, following public furor over some Tim Hortons’ franchises decision to slash perks in response to Ontario’s $2.40 minimum wage increase, the Star has learned.But a Toronto-based legal clinic is sounding the alarm after what it describes as a sudden an uptick in complaints from T&T Supermarket employees in recent months. The grocery giant — which has seven locations in the GTA — told the Star it implemented a “number of changes” last year to make its operations “more competitive and attractive to talent.” These included better “pension conditions,” higher starting wages and pay increases for existing workers — as well as the elimination of paid breaks. The company said that decision was reversed after “listening sessions” with employees in December and January.The grocery giant also initiated a round of terminations late last year — an issue the Toronto-based Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic has now raised in a letter to Labour Minister Kevin Flynn along with a number of other “serious allegations.”“These allegations include laying off older and long-time employees, cutting hours of part-time workers . . . and cutting back benefits for full-time long term workers,” the letter seen by the Star says.Clinic director Avvy Go said the clinic rarely received complaints about the company prior to November 2017, when lawyers “started to get a number of calls from T&T staff who were being terminated.” Since then, Go said, about a dozen complaints lodged with her staff from long-time workers, some of whom say they were terminated shortly before becoming eligible for employer contributions to their Registered Retirement Savings Plan.T&T told the Star that the dismissals “had nothing to do with tenure” and that almost half the people recently let go had less than five years’ service with the company.“The changes we’ve made are in an effort to ensure our business remains competitive, can continue to grow, and to be attractive to new talent,” it said.While the employees laid off late last year received termination and severance pay in accordance with the law, Go said at least some were asked to sign a confidential release form in exchange for an additional sum of money that constitutes a “final settlement of any outstanding claim by you for wages, severance of otherwise.”The release seen by the Star states that if workers have not sought legal advice before signing the document it is because they “did not feel they (sic) needed (it).”Go said confidentiality agreements after termination is not unusual — but that the language on seeking legal advice is. “The legality of this clause is highly suspect, particularly in light of the fact that almost all of the employees of T&T are racialized immigrants . . . who do not speak English as their first language, if they speak any English at all,” says the clinic’s letter to the Ministry of Labour.Asked about the releases, T&T told the Star its “termination agreements would be considered standard and likely similar to what your employer or other like businesses would use.”Go said almost all the terminated workers who contacted the clinic late last year had already signed the release document, meaning they now cannot take legal action against their former employers, such as unjust dismissal suits or human rights complaints. She said the letter raised concerns about “how people understand their rights at the time they are being terminated.”“Since the Employment Standards Act sets out only [...]

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Peter Howell: At Sundance, Harvey Weinstein is the elephant that’s no longer in the roomPeter Howell: At Sundance, Harvey Weinstein is the elephant that’s no longer in the room

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 17:35:18 EST

PARK CITY, Utah—A Sundance Film Festival without Harvey Weinstein is a good and necessary thing, but also a strange one.As the festival he helped make famous commenced its 2018 edition on Thursday, he’s the elephant that’s no longer in the room — and everybody’s talking about him.The fallen movie titan has been accused of multiple acts of rape and/or sexual harassment over recent decades. At least two incidents are said to have occurred during Sundance fests, including the alleged 1997 rape in his hotel room of actress Rose McGowan, who has become a leading voice of the #MeToo movement.Read more:Opinion | Peter Howell: Sundance 2018 seen as Ground Zero for age of rageHarvey Weinstein slapped in the face, cursed out at Arizona restaurantLos Angeles prosecutors reviewing 2 cases against Harvey WeinsteinWeinstein has now been declared persona non grata by Sundance officials, who call his alleged offences “abhorrent and profoundly disturbing.” But for nearly 30 years, Weinstein was a gigantic and inescapable presence in this former silver-mining town.Weinstein’s marketing savvy and boundless energy helped turn Sundance from a tiny showcase for American independent film into a must-do event for cinephiles and Hollywood heavyweights alike.He and his quieter brother Bob championed and marketed bold new filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs), Steven Soderbergh (sex, lies and videotape) and Kevin Smith (Clerks), making themselves rich and their mini-studios Miramax and later the Weinstein Co. major players in Hollywood and around the world.Outspoken and pushy, Weinstein was the brute corporate opposite of Sundance’s founder Robert Redford, who conducts himself at all times as a gentlemanly patron of the arts, reluctant even to raise his voice or to make a headline-grabbing statement.People appreciated Weinstein’s relentless boosting of indie film, although he was a man more tolerated than liked.Stories abound of Weinstein’s bullying ways, including a restaurant fistfight with a rival distributor at the 1996 festival over who would get to handle the Oscar-bait musical drama Shine.Harvey would pop up everywhere at Sundance. During a screening once at the Eccles Theatre, the main festival venue, I suddenly became aware of a bulky presence in the aisle right next to me, talking into a cellphone in the dark. It was Weinstein, trying to work an acquisition deal for a movie in the middle of its world premiere.The downside of Weinstein’s Hollywoodizing of Sundance was that the festival became almost too successful, risking its indie mandate and credibility in the rush to show and sell the latest star vehicles. Redford said as much in a 2013 Men’s Journal interview, in which he complained of Weinstein’s “merchant mentality” and what it had done to Sundance: “I felt at a certain point that we were being engulfed.”There was no love for Weinstein Thursday at Redford’s traditional show-opening press conference at the vintage Egyptian Theatre on Main Street, where the actor/director was joined on stage by Keri Putnam, executive director of the Sundance Institute, and John Cooper, director of the Sundance festival.They all expressed disgust at what Weinstein is alleged to have done, but they insisted that the Sundance Institute had no knowledge of his actions — and no control over them, either. They’re also convinced that Weinstein won’t irrevocably taint the Sundance brand.“Harvey Weinstein was like a moment in time and I think that we’re going to move past that,” Redford said. “I don’t think he’s going to stop the show.”But “exciting” things are happeni[...]

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Family offers ‘sincere apologies’ for 11-year-old girl’s false hijab-cutting story Family offers ‘sincere apologies’ for 11-year-old girl’s false hijab-cutting story

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 18:33:28 EST

The family of an 11-year-old girl who falsely claimed that her hijab was cut by an attacker in an incident last week that captured national attention has expressed their “sincere apologies to every Canadian.”At the time, the family said they “assumed it to be true just like everyone else.”The family shared a statement of apology with the Star. It came two days after the conclusion of the police investigation into the allegations, finding that the events “did not happen.”The incident prompted a widespread backlash on social media condemning the false story.The family said they were “deeply sorry for the pain and anger caused in the past several days.” They declined requests for an interview. The Star has chosen not to name the girl. The family expressed gratitude toward Pauline Johnson Junior Public School which, they said, “reacted with compassion and support.”They were called to the school near Birchmount Rd. and Sheppard Ave. E. on Friday morning with the news of an alleged assault against their daughter and the family spoke to the media a few hours later at the school’s library.Read more: Attack on a girl wearing a hijab didn’t happen, police say. But why did the TDSB let the tearful 11-year-old face the cameras?Opinion | Shree Paradkar: A girl’s hijab story isn’t true. But we’d be fools to believe anti-Muslim hatred doesn’t exist in CanadaTDSB did not discuss implications of letting 11-year-old face media over hijab storyThe girl, her 10-year-old brother and her mother spoke to reporters. Her grandmother was also present. The 11-year-old’s public appearance was unusual — victims of crime under the age of 18 are usually not identified by police or the media.The assaults that she claimed happened just before 9 a.m. rapidly drew the condemnation of all three levels of government, and were written about around the world. In their statement, the family said they chose to make the story public, “horrified that there was such a perpetrator who may try to harm someone else.”Now, days later, they hope to move past, what they describe as “a very painful experience.” “We look forward to closing this difficult chapter and providing support to our children.”The full statement: “We are deeply sorry for the pain and anger that our family has caused in the past several days.When our young daughter told the school that she was attacked by a stranger, the school reacted with compassion and support — as did the police.When we arrived at the school on Friday, we were informed what happened and assumed it to be true, just like everyone else. We only went public because we were horrified that there was such a perpetrator who may try to harm someone else. This has been a very painful experience for our family. We want to thank everyone who has shown us support at this difficult time. Again, we are deeply sorry for this and want to express our sincere apologies to every Canadian. We look forward to closing this difficult chapter and providing support to our children.”[...]TDSB spokesperson Shari Schwartz-Maltz, left, stands with an 11-year-old girl who claimed her hijab was cut by an adult man while on her way to school Friday. The story later turned out to be false.

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