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TORONTO STAR

How a TTC driver quietly bought up a corner of the city (jeu., 17 oct. 2019)
Neighbours only knew him as “Manny,” a quiet and sometimes cranky landlord who lived in their area. But more details of the life of Manuel Gomes, a single man who never married, had no children and amassed a fortune in real estate in a west-end block of Toronto, are coming to light following his death in July. The Portuguese immigrant came to Canada in 1965 with barely any money in his pocket. But he landed a job as a TTC bus driver and purchased several properties in the Davenport Rd. and Ossington Ave. area starting in the late 1970s, with his younger brother Armando — who arrived in Canada nine years after Manny, broke as well — eventually chipping in money. When Manny died of stomach cancer at age 82, he left behind a collection of nine properties including subdivided single-family homes, storefronts with rental units on top, and a Portuguese restaurant that served “churrasco-style” chicken. The listings for the properties, $15 million in total, went up Sept. 19. He had developed a vision for his properties, and years ago tried unsuccessfully to convince local property owners to join him in adding more density to the neighbourhood. It’s a vision that may only be realized after he’s gone. His brother Armando, 70, the executor of Manny’s estate, is here in the city, working with a Toronto real estate agent in a bid to get the properties sold. “(Manny) came here as a young boy, poor and wanted to prove to himself that he could accomplish a lot. He worked like hell,” says Tony Natale, a real estate agent who knew Manny for over 30 years. Neighbours and business owners in the area remember Manny as a “character” who had his friendly engaging side, but who could also be gruff at times. “Manny was a real character — his mood depended on the day you caught him. In some ways he was like Neighbourhood Watch,” keeping an eye out in the area, remembers Leigh Tynan, who with a partner operates a video production company on Davenport Rd. near Gomes’ properties. “He was actually really good to me. I’d say sell your properties and go retire in Florida. He’d just laugh and say ‘I’m an old man what am I going to do?’ He was emotionally tied to those properties. They were part of his identity and he didn’t want to part with them,” Tynan says. *** Manny Gomes and his family are from Areias, a small parish northeast of Lisbon. Manny was the oldest sibling. There was younger brother Armando, and their three sisters, one who passed away. The two surviving sisters — Maria Cremilde and Maria dos Aujos — lived in Canada for a period of time but have since returned to Portugal and have grown children. When Armando came to Canada, Manny was already working as a driver for the TTC. The brothers lived together briefly, Armando working for an auto parts company in Toronto. In an interview, Armando says he wasn’t happy with the money he was making for the company so he reached out to some friends in the Thunder Bay area. They helped Armando land work that led to him becoming a lumberjack for pulp and paper giant Domtar in the area. “The job was supposed to be a year for some money, but I retired there,” he says. Armando rented an apartment there, never married and had no children, like his brother. The brothers got along well, though Armando jokes: “Sometimes we were friendlier when we were far away from each other.” Meanwhile in Toronto, Manny became interested in buying property. Armando had no family commitments and ended up saving a lot of money, some of which he sent to Manny, who purchased properties in his own name. Over the years, Armando says he sent different amounts, $50,000 or $60,000 or $80,000 to his brother. Manny was the man with the “nose, the vision” for real estate, says Natale, the listing agent for the Gomes properties currently for sale. One of Manny’s early purchases was a two-storey, 1920s-era single-family home on Alberta Ave. that he bought for $85,000 in 1985, according to property records. Now its assessed value is more than $1 million, records show. Natale says Manny eventually subdivided his single-family properties to generate rental income and pay his mortgages. He balanced his busy day job with running around fixing plumbing and doing numerous other repairs at the properties. He purchased properties near each other, as they became available. Manny purchased a corner property at Davenport and Alberta in 1977 for $56,000, records show, and later turned it into a restaurant called Cafe O Abrigo that had a bar in the basement. It’s now listed for $1.6 million. Doing the renovations to convert the home into a restaurant — including building the kitchen and putting in the bar — was a “big job” for Gomes, Natale says. But Manny, who lived nearby on Alberta St., was up to the task, working tirelessly, Natale says. “He was like a bull. A solidly built man with power to spare,” the agent says. The restaurant would become a popular local spot that Manny ran for years until he recently fell ill. *** In all, Manny’s properties sit on about one acre of land that has residential zoning behind Davenport and zoning that permits residential-commercial uses fronting Davenport. The parcel includes an 11,000-square-foot portion of unused green space that runs vertical to Davenport, that’s home to an apple tree and is at the top of a slope where you get an eye-catching view of the city. Around 2009 Manny wanted to build four or five homes on the green space behind Davenport. But neighbours objected and the plan didn’t materialize. At the time there was a builder that had a deal with Manny to buy the property if the city could approve it. But the city didn’t support the deal in large part due to neighbourhood opposition, Natale says. After a 2005 fire burned down an auto repair shop at the corner of Davenport and Winona Dr., Manny purchased the vacant plot. About four years ago he tried to sell that property, but to no avail. (The plot is included in the $15 million listing). Throughout the years, Natale and Manny had been talking to other owners on Davenport about combining properties and creating a larger portfolio to sell to a developer. “Manuel’s vision was to get a block together that could lead to the creation of something spectacular. He wanted to see something that would improve the neighbourhood,” Natale says. Matt Norwood, a patent lawyer who lives on Winona Dr. near the properties, says, “Manny was an interesting guy. I was friends with him, I may have been one of the few. He alienated a lot of people over the (proposal to develop the green space) and being an ornery guy.” Additional density on Gomes’ property would add further “disruption” to an already tight parking situation in the area, Norwood says, adding that driveways on the street are for houses built in the 1920s that you can fit a mini Cooper on, but that’s about it. Tynan notes that several of Manny’s properties, including a storefront on Davenport that was a bakery, are mostly empty and need work done on them. Gomes’ reluctance or inability to sell his portfolio while he was alive meant the area couldn’t really get a facelift, Tynan says. Now that he is gone there are possibilities, Tynan says. ** Manny’s death came as a shock to those in the neighbourhood who knew him. “I didn’t see him for a while, then when I saw him in the spring he looked like he had lost a ton of weight. I said to my friend that Manny must be sick,” says Tynan. Close to the time of his death, Norwood noticed Manny wasn’t around, so he began asking questions. Norwood’s wife looked into it and learned that Manny had been checked into Toronto General hospital. Norwood works near the hospital and decided to drop by and check in on his friend. He found Manny’s hospital room. “He was in bad shape. Stomach cancer is brutal,” Norwood says of the visit. It was hard to talk to Manny. He was in a lot of pain. Norwood told Manny: “I’ll come back and see you tomorrow.” But there was no tomorrow. Manny died the next day. His vision for the block he hoped for, however, may now one day materialize. Natale and Armando have also listed a “potential assembly” that includes three additional properties owned by others — two on Davenport between Winona and Albert, one on Winona — plus a public lane that could work together as a package. That would cover the entire front on Davenport that could become a future site for or five-storey building, and clean up the strip, Natale says. “Let’s work as a team and everyone will benefit,” Natale says of the potential group of properties. Local city councillor Ana Bailao, (Ward 18, Davenport), who didn’t really know Gomes (she only met him once, recently regarding a minor property concern), says the new listings have potential. “It’s a big piece of land, a good opportunity to do something appropriate that fits in with the neighbourhood, that brings some housing and revitalizes the neighbourhood,” Bailao says. Not a tower, but some “missing-middle” housing (which includes duplexes, triplexes, townhouses and row houses) could be a good fit for the area, Bailao suggests. Valerie Benchitrit, an agent with Sutton Group Associates Realty who is quite familiar with the properties, believes $15 million is a lot to ask for Gomes’ property. “Real estate spread out like this. I’m not sure who will want to buy that,” she said. On the other hand, if the city were to acquire the green space and turn it into a park or something “eco-friendly” and the public laneway and other owners’ properties are added in, something interesting could be done in the area including a lowrise building on Davenport, Benchitrit says. Natale says that since the new listings went up there has been a lot of interest. “We’re hearing from everybody. Investors who want to hold the properties and continue assembling and bringing in more lots. We’re also hearing from bigger developers,” the agent says. Donovan Vincent is a housing reporter based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @donovanvincent
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Ontario’s deficit jumped to $7.4B last year, fiscal watchdog says (Thu, 17 Oct 2019)
Ontario’s budget deficit doubled in size last year due to mostly to “policy choices by both the previous and current governments,” says the province’s independent fiscal watchdog. The Financial Accountability Office says the $3.7-billion deficit in former premier Kathleen Wynne’s final full year in office ballooned to $7.4 billion under Premier Doug Ford due in part to cancelled climate-change initiatives and subsidizing hydro bills. “This sharp rise was largely the result of policy choices by both the previous and current governments — including the cancellation of the cap-and-trade program and higher spending on electricity subsidies,” the FAO said Thursday. That’s a reference to Ford’s decision to withdraw Ontario from its carbon-pricing alliance with Quebec and California, which cost the treasury $1.9 billion in revenues that were earmarked for environmental programs. The FAO also noted the previous Liberal government’s sell-off of the majority share in Hydro One “temporarily” bolstered the bottom line in 2017-18. “Fewer asset sales in 2018-19 resulted in a $900-million reduction in sales and rentals revenue when compared to 2017-18,” the watchdog said. “A further consequence of Hydro One’s partial sale was an Ontario Energy Board ruling that resulted in a one-time, $400-million reduction in the province’s revenue received from the corporation in 2018-19,” the office added. “In addition, the debt retirement charge was removed from non-residential electricity bills on March 31, 2018, which permanently lowered non-tax revenue by $600 million beginning in 2018-19.” The fiscal office said “Ministry of Energy expenditures increased at the fastest rate, largely due to the sharply higher cost of electricity subsidies. “The government spent $4.2 billion subsidizing electricity prices in 2018-19, an increase of almost 50 per cent from $2.8 billion in 2017-18.” While Ford’s government has promised to decrease hydro bills by an additional 12 per cent, the government has yet to determine how that will happen. In Kenora on Wednesday, the premier stressed his focus is on “putting money back into people’s pockets.” Robert Benzie is the Star's Queen's Park bureau chief and a reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @robertbenzie
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‘Money goes by so fast’: Culinary students talk jobs, cost of living at St. Lawrence Market (Thu, 17 Oct 2019)
Five conversations on five hot button election topics in five spots around Toronto. Join us as we make our way through the city chatting with young Torontonians about the issues they’re watching this federal election. In the first of the series, we speak to a group of George Brown College culinary arts students having lunch at St. Lawrence Market about the rising cost of living and the grind to get a good job. Minimum wage may have gone up over the years, but that hasn’t necessarily made life more affordable for young students in Toronto. “Yeah the $14 an hour is nice but, at the same time, again, all the prices are getting jacked up,” says Leonel Rivera, 19. “You’re paying more on your bills rather than expenses that could be paid (somewhere else) like maybe trying to get a new home or maybe trying to put food on the table.” The economy and jobs remain one of the top issues to Canadians in this election, according to a recent Forum poll. The Star caught up with Rivera, along with two fellow George Brown College culinary arts students, on a recent weekday at St. Lawrence Market to chat about the struggles they have faced building a career for themselves. “We all plan to vote and our focuses will include education and employment,” says Alyssa Crocco, 24. “I haven’t made a decision but I know a little about each of the platforms. It’s definitely really accessible. There are a lot of articles circling social media that break each platform down. Seems like a lot of people are interested more so than other elections, at least people my age.” She and her friends say they chose the culinary arts industry in part because they felt it offered more opportunities than other industries that are oversaturated and full of older workers who aren’t retiring at the same rates. The students say they’re working minimum wage or slightly higher-than-minimum-paying jobs in the food business while aiming to work their way up. “Money goes by so fast, plus the cost of tuition, if I have a car,” Erica Li, 20, says. “It’s tough being in Toronto.” Li and Crocco both live at home with parents in Richmond Hill. Sometimes they take an Uber home from the city, and that’s still cheaper than trying to pay rent in Toronto, they say. Instead of saving up for a big-ticket item, like how her parents may have saved up for a home, Li is trying to scrap together enough for a vacation in 2020. “It’s not going so well,” she laughs. “Things like owning a home, owning a car, that kind of stuff, it feels like so far out of the realm of possibility based on our salaries that we need to save for short-term goals because it’s a bigger motivator,” Crocco says. Sahar Fatima is a breaking news reporter based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @sahar_fatima Evelyn Kwong is a digital producer based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @evystadium
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Estate of Barry and Honey Sherman part of Toronto police murder probe, detective tells court (Wed, 16 Oct 2019)
The multibillion-dollar estate of murdered philanthropists Barry and Honey Sherman is part of the police investigation into their deaths, a homicide detective has told a Toronto court. “The information from the (Sherman) estate files is embedded … it is embedded within the ITO,” Det. Const. Dennis Yim told the Ontario court of justice during an application from the Toronto Star to unseal hundreds of pages of search warrant documents called an “ITO,” or “information to obtain.” Yim told court that as a result of the sealing order by Judge Leslie Pringle, he was not allowed to explain why the financial estate information —which details Barry Sherman’s plan for his fortune — is included at various points in the police investigation documents. Barry Sherman, 75, the founder of generic drug giant Apotex, and his wife, Honey, 70, were found dead in their Toronto home almost two years ago, on Dec. 15, 2017. They were strangled, held in a seated position by men’s leather belts looped around their necks and tied to a metre-high railing near their basement swimming pool. After both police and a private detective team searched the house, the family had the home on Old Colony Road torn down. The Star has previously reported that Honey Sherman died without a will, and Barry Sherman’s own will left his entire holdings to the couple’s four children — Lauren, Jonathon, Alexandra and Kaelen — along with instructions that the trustees of his estate could, if they wish, give financial payouts to the couple’s nieces and nephews. At one point in recent years, Barry Sherman had signalled to friends his intention to give much of his wealth to charity. Sources have told the Star that this plan is not reflected in his will, written in 2013. In a separate case, now before the Supreme Court of Canada, the Star is seeking the Sherman estate files. The Ontario Court of Appeal earlier ruled there was no harm in making the Sherman estate documents public, but the Sherman family wants the country’s highest court to over turn that ruling. A decision is expected later this year. Read more: Barry and Honey Sherman murder probe receives ‘significant contribution’ from Toronto Police intelligence squad, court records reveal Barry Sherman’s son raised concerns about Apotex founder’s investment strategy and business competence: Sources Murdered billionaire Barry Sherman planned to give away or invest much of his fortune, sources say Twenty-two months in, the Sherman murder probe by Toronto police has interviewed 250 individuals and obtained, using judicial search warrants and production orders, a vast amount of information. Yim said the investigation is progressing and it has received a major boost from a recent report carried out by civilian analysts from the Toronto police intelligence unit. As part of its attempt to have at least some portions of the police documents unsealed, a Star reporter questioned Yim for more than two hours. Yim cautiously answered some questions, shedding light on a case that has captured both local and international attention. Is the investigation getting closer to a resolution? Yim was asked. “I am optimistic. Cautiously optimistic,” said Yim, the only full-time officer assigned to the case, along with two other detectives who work on the Sherman case and others. The Sherman investigation previously had its troubles. The Star has reported that detectives initially pursued a murder-suicide theory. Also, detectives were slow to collect some video surveillance information from both Apotex and a house across the street; and did not begin collecting DNA and fingerprints to rule out people as suspects (such as a trainer who was with the Shermans the day they died) until eight months into the case. On the topic of the Sherman family’s private investigation, led by Toronto criminal defence lawyer Brian Greenspan and retired Toronto homicide detective Tom Klatt, Yim said that police received regular handovers of “tips” until early in July. Among the 343 tips the private team has sent to date (the family put up a $10-million reward for information) was at least one from a psychic. The tips, in the form of emails or synopses of voice mails left at the tip line, were sent to the Toronto homicide unit on a USB key. Asked if he had ever seen a situation in which a criminal defence lawyer acting for a family had provided this sort of co-operation with police, Yim said, “I have never seen it before.” Greenspan has told the media that he would like his team to work with the Toronto police in a “public-private partnership,” an offer the police declined. Yim also revealed that both the Ontario Provincial Police and the RCMP provided assistance to Toronto police on the Sherman probe in the early days of the case. He said he could not describe the nature of the assistance. Yim told court that the Toronto homicide squad had searched not only the Shermans’ Toronto home, but also their (now sold) condominium in Florida. Yim answered questions about the “voluminous material” police received from a production order earlier this year. He said that material — he called it “data” — was sent to police from an “entity” on May 7, 2019, and on July 18 “the data was in possession of the intelligence unit with instructions to analyze it.” That analysis was completed in early September, Yim said. He said police will be seeking court approval to issue more production orders to obtain additional information as a result of the intelligence unit report. “For the record, can you tell the court what type of data this is? Is it GPS data? Cellphone data?” Yim was asked on the witness stand. “I can’t,” Yim said, explaining that to do so would harm the investigation. He said the homicide squad needed the analytical expertise of civilian employees of the police department who work as analysts and are adept at “managing and analyzing large amounts of data.” “The report will assist us in advancing the investigation significantly,” Yim told court. Yim also spent some time explaining a concern of the homicide team that the person or persons whose records police have obtained not find out police are snooping around. Of the 38 judicial orders police have obtained, the identity of the majority of the entities that have been ordered to produce information has been kept secret from both the general public and the person who is the “owner” of the records. Yim told court that in most cases police obtained a “non-disclosure order” from Judge Pringle, who also signed off on all the judicial orders in the case. That means that, using the hypothetical example of a cellular phone company, or an automobile company that has GPS locational records, there is a court order in place to prevent the company from telling the individual that his or her records have been searched. “There may be a harm if the entities divulged to the individual who owns the record … there may be a harm to the investigation,” Yim told court. (Yim uses the word “entity” to describe a company or organization that maintains records.) “They can’t let anyone know they have produced this information,” Yim said. As part of its questioning of Yim, the Star explained that it had reviewed numerous ITOs from other, unrelated cases. Each one had, the Star found, a section at the start of the ITO that identified “suspects” or “persons of interest.” Yim, asked to differentiate the two, said a person of interest is “someone that may be involved in a crime, but there’s not enough evidence or proof to elevate them to a suspect.” A suspect is someone believed by police to have committed the crime. Yim said that even though he has said police have a “theory” and an “idea of what happened,” he cannot reveal if they have a person of interest or a suspect. “If I speak in general terms I may be able to explain it. If in a case there is only one perpetrator and that perpetrator knows that he is the only one, if I answer that we have a person of interest or a suspect then that may alert the perpetrator that the police are onto him. That’s why when you ask me that question, I am reluctant to answer.” Pringle is expected to rule within a week on whether any parts of the ITO documents can be revealed. Kevin Donovan can be reached at kdonovan@thestar.ca or 416-312-3503
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Peter Howell: ‘Zombieland’ sequel feels half-alive — and could use more brains (Thu, 17 Oct 2019)
Zombieland: Double Tap 2.5 stars Starring Woody Harrelson, Jessie Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, Zoey Deutch, Luke Wilson and Rosario Dawson. Written by Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick and Dave Callaham. Directed by Ruben Fleischer. Opens Friday at theatres everywhere. 99 minutes. 18A In the sketchy zom-com sequel “Zombieland: Double Tap,” Jessie Eisenberg’s nerd-warrior character Columbus visits a decaying mall in search of scented candles. His voiceover narration explains that Z-land’s stench has gotten worse in the decade since he and fellow zombie-apocalypse survivors Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) forged a shotgun family out of society’s last stand. Columbus actually smells the funk, but we can feel it. “Double Tap” manages that rare sequel feat of reuniting all of the major cast members of the original movie, as well as director Ruben Fleischer and screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, who are joined by Dave Callaham from the “Godzilla” franchise. Then the film almost squanders its blessings by settling for a story that is more Zzz-land than Z-land. It revisits most of the original jokes — except for the Twinkies — without adding much more beyond bucketloads of extra blood, gore and vomit. (Suggested movie slogan: “I Returned to ‘Zombieland’ and All I Got Was This Bloody T-Shirt.”) The “almost” qualifier is mainly because of the four leads, who are a jolly group of bickering zombie killers to hang around with, even if they aren’t up to much. This goes double for redneck avenger Tallahassee, who gets to channel both his inner Donald Trump and his inner Elvis, as the story stumbles from the White House to Graceland. Along the way, in various segues, they encounter new characters played by Zoey Deutch, Luke Wilson, Rosario Dawson, Thomas Middleditch and Avan Jogia, who don’t advance the plot much but mostly earn their keep. The best of them is Deutch’s bubbly Madison, a Valley Girl type who, someone observes, managed to avoid being eaten by zombies because zombies only want to eat brains. The zombified script really is the problem here, suggesting that 10 years of foot-dragging did this project no favours. The story opens by introducing three new zombie types that have evolved over the past 10 years: a brainless Homer, a wily Hawking and a stealthy Ninja. Then it mostly discards these creations while later introducing a super zombie called the T-800 (ahoy, “Terminator” fans!) that it takes a lot more to kill than the “double tap” head shots of Z-land rules. The T-800 adds welcome notes of fear and suspense to the movie, but you can feel Fleischer and company pulling back from making things too scary. That’s always the challenge in the zom-com genre: finding the balance between yuks and yecchs. “Double Tap” ultimately staggers to the finish line through a combination of personal chemistry and audience good will — this was a sequel most fans of the original actually wanted — but there are so many instances where it could have been better. You go to the White House and Graceland and this is the most fun you can have? I know I’m dreaming here, but how I wish they’d found a way to include the Elvis and “JFK” characters from “Bubba Ho-Tep,” an earlier undead cult comedy that likely inspired this franchise. Note that I haven’t answered the question that every fan of “Zombieland” is asking, but I will say this: Stick around for the end credits, or you’ll feel like a Homer. Peter Howell is the Star's movie critic based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @peterhowellfilm
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Election campaign marked by ‘unhealthy’ polarization, and it may be about to get worse (Thu, 17 Oct 2019)
OTTAWA—No matter who emerges the winner from Monday’s election, the prime minister will take charge of a country divided by an acrimonious election. And those divisions won’t evaporate once the ballots are counted. Indeed, the election results threaten to further exacerbate political fault lines, along geography, gender and the key issues at play. Experts point to a few reasons for the divisions. For starters, the issues at the core of this election, such as climate change, have been divisive. Liberals and Conservatives in particular have sought to highlight those divisions to their advantage. And experts note a new trend with partisans identifying emotionally with their party with the result that political debates take on an “us versus them” tone. “Not in my career have I seen it so polarized in such an extreme fashion,” said veteran pollster Frank Graves. “You can see clear evidence in the way this election is playing out. The polarization is evident in the key issues underlying the election … I just don’t see any common ground. The gaps are massive, much bigger than they’ve been historically,” said Graves, founder and CEO of EKOS Research. And many Liberal and Conservatives harbour a disdain bordering on hatred for the rival party’s leader, he said. That polarization was underscored on Saturday when Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau was forced to delay a Mississauga rally by almost two hours because of a security threat. When he did appear, he was wearing a protective vest under his dress shirt with extra security personnel in place for his protection. In the days that followed, he lamented the tone in this election, suggesting it happened despite his focus on “bringing the country together.” “Yet we find ourselves now in a more polarized, more divisive election than even the 2015 one. I wonder how or if I could have made sure we were still pulling Canadians together,” he said. But on Wednesday, he pointed the finger squarely at the Conservatives, blaming them for what he branded the “dirtiest, nastiest campaigns based on disinformation that we’ve ever seen in this country.” “We are, I think, all of us as Canadians, a little saddened to see the polarizing, negative nature of the campaign being run by some or our opponents, which is directly imported from the challenging electoral situations we see in fellow democracies around the world,” he said, while touring Quebec. Yet few are blameless and certainly not the Liberals, who have made going after Ontario Premier Doug Ford a central part of their strategy from before the election even started. Trudeau has declared that he needs a strong mandate to “push back against those Conservative premiers who don’t want to do anything for our future.” He’s claimed that his opposition includes unnamed “oil barons.” Gerald Butts, a friend and former top adviser to Trudeau, drew flak for tweeting a photo of Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer shaking hands with a worker wearing a yellow construction vest. “Well, this is subtle. Sometimes a yellow vest is just a yellow vest?” Butts said on social media. Scheer did speak to protesters who gathered on Parliament Hill earlier this year. But Conservatives saw the Butts tweet as an attempt to link Scheer with the less savoury elements of the yellow vest movement, known for voicing a variety of legitimate concerns but also anti-immigration sentiments. “That’s just despicable,” Scheer said in reaction to the tweet. Graves said the divisions are broadly seen along gender lines (women favour Liberals, men back the Conservatives), education (college-educated voters for Conservatives, university-educated for Liberals) and geography. If an election was held only from Ontario east, the Liberals would win a massive majority, Graves said. From Manitoba west, the Conservatives would win. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney underscored those regional divisions when he travelled to Ontario earlier this month to campaign against Trudeau, warning that a re-elected Liberal government would be “absolutely devastating to my province.” “This is, for us, almost existential that we have a change in the federal government,” he said. Issues too have played a part. Climate change — and the political strategy to deal with it — has divided voters. (Ontario’s Ford government opposes the Liberal plan and even ordered anti-carbon-pricing decals slapped on provincial gas pumps.) Maxime Bernier, leader of the People’s Party of Canada, has condemned diversity as a “cult” and made cuts to immigration a key part of his election strategy. Bill 21, Quebec’s controversial law on secularism, has put the issue of religion on the campaign agenda. And NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, the first leader of a major federal party who is not white, has had to personally confront issues of race and racism in this campaign. Taken together, it has made for an ugly campaign cocktail that has often overshadowed debate about ideas and political vision. Graves suggests several reasons for what he calls a “new unhealthy polarization.” The first is economic concerns among Canadians who don’t see themselves getting ahead. Tied to that is what he calls a “cultural backlash. “(It’s) particularly strong in those groups who have seen their status and identity threatened by the changes in the new economy,” he said. Academic Melanee Thomas adds yet another element that she says is being tracked by political scientists in this election — “effective partisanship.” “This idea that there’s a social identity that is attached to being in your party,” said Thomas, associate professor in the department of political science at the University of Calgary With that deeper attachment comes hardened, uncompromising attitude towards political rivals. “This is the idea of us versus them, I’m an in group, they’re an out group and because they’re the out group, they’re bad,” Thomas said an interview. It feeds the sentiment that political rivals are “out to harm you, it’s an existential threat if they win.” And she said, the parties have been playing this to their advantage, even though it carries democratic risks over the longer term. “I am alarmed that there are political elites that understand this is going on and they are deliberately stoking it for short-term electoral gain,” Thomas said. “I think there’s this assumption that they can just stuff this back in the box. I don’t think they can. I think there is real danger in this,” she said. Those divisions and the bruising campaign trail rhetoric and acrimony could make it difficult for the parties to find common ground, which will be critical if none of them come up with the 170 seats needed for a majority. “It’s going to make it extremely difficult to find a consensual framework to move forward,” Graves said. “It will be governable but with tremendous levels of alienation and unhappiness from whoever is not running things.” “I think whoever wins has got to really think about where are the possible areas of consensus, where can we start building common ground again,” he said. But there’s little of that happening in the dying days of this election. Rather, with polls suggesting a minority government might be in the cards, Liberals and Conservatives have been trying to rally support with dire predictions about what will happen if their rivals win. On Wednesday, Scheer claimed the Liberals and New Democrats will do a “coalition” deal that would mean “higher taxes, more deficits, fewer jobs and less money in your pockets.” Trudeau had his own warning, highlighting the Conservative vow to scrap the federal carbon pricing plan. “Once he’s done that, there’ll be more and more cuts. Cuts to programs, cuts to services,” he said, claiming that Scheer had a “hidden agenda.” Bruce Campion-Smith is an Ottawa-based reporter covering national politics. Follow him on Twitter: @yowflier
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Legal edibles explained: Here’s what you need to know about Canada’s second wave of cannabis legalization (Thu, 17 Oct 2019)
CALGARY—Edibles and other cannabis products will be legal on Thursday, but you won’t be able to find them on shelves for several weeks at least. Regulations governing the legal sale of cannabis edibles, extracts and topicals will officially take effect on Oct. 17 — a year to the day after the federal government legalized recreational cannabis use. So what exactly changes? Will you be able to pick up special brownies at the corner store? How strong will your THC gummies be? Could you enjoy a cannabis-infused chocolate bar in a public park? While you won’t be able to pick up any new cannabis goodies on Thursday — they won’t be ready yet — we’ve got the lowdown on what to look for when edibles do hit the shelves: What’s on offer? Cannabis-infused edibles, cannabis extracts and cannabis topicals — think lotions or creams — will all be covered under the new regulations. The range of products is huge: Everything from CBD-infused shampoo to THC chocolate. There are Health Canada limits on potency. Certain products, like cannabis edibles with added alcohol or nicotine-infused cannabis extracts, won’t be allowed at all. How much will be on store shelves on Oct. 17? Technically, none. Canada’s regulations for topicals, edibles and extracts take effect on Thursday, but that doesn’t mean weed-infused treats will spring from the ovens of bakers fully-formed. Anyone with a Health Canada license can start production on Oct. 17. The government agency doesn’t expect to see anything on shelves until mid-December. Where do I buy it? It depends on where you live. As with the legalization of dried flower cannabis last October, how cannabis edibles and topicals are sold is determined by provincial governments. Alberta’s hands-off approach to sales is fairly different from the government-controlled regime seen in Quebec. In either case, anyone looking to buy cannabis products will need to be 18 or older in Alberta and Quebec, and 19 or older in all other provinces and territories. Read more: How Alberta emerged as Canada’s unexpected pot capital, one year post-legalization Also worth noting: Buying cannabis online from anywhere besides a licensed, provincially-run website, such as albertacannabis.org or the Ontario Cannabis Store, will still be illegal. Honestly — how stoned will I get? Despite what you may have read about cannabis overdoses in the United States, Canada’s regulations will be fairly strict. Edibles are limited to just 10 milligrams of THC per package — so a bag of four brownies could only have 2.5 mg. each. This is roughly a tenth of what’s allowed in weed-legal U.S. jurisdictions like California and Washington State. Other forms of cannabis will be allowed to have far more THC. Inhaled cannabis extracts and topicals will be allowed up to 1,000 mg of THC per package. Is getting high on edibles different from smoking a joint? Absolutely. Not only is your body processing the THC differently, but the wait time between consumption and effect is also far longer. In short, if you’re not feeling the effects of a special brownie in 30 minutes, don’t grab another. Just wait. It could take up to 90 minutes for the high to take effect. Can I eat an edible in public? It depends on where you are. Municipal bylaws on cannabis consumption can vary. Calgary doesn’t allow any recreational cannabis use in public whatsoever, while Toronto does. Check out your city or town’s local laws. Brennan Doherty is a work and wealth reporter with Star Calgary. Follow him on Twitter: @bren_doherty
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