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TORONTO STAR

Ontario Tories pile on against Justin Trudeau at party convention (sam., 17 nov. 2018)
In the eyes of federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s carbon pricing plan shows he considers commuters and families his “enemy.” To Doug Ford, Trudeau’s greenhouse gas reduction initiative places him “next” on the premier’s political hit list. The shadow of the Liberal prime minister, who is up for re-election next year, loomed large over this weekend’s Progressive Conservative convention at the Toronto Congress Centre. During a rousing speech to 1,000 Tory partisans on Saturday, Scheer received a standing ovation when he attacked the federal Liberals’ measures to reduce emissions that contribute to climate change. “What about all those people who have to drive to work, have to commute, to take their kids to activities? What about the small- and medium-sized businesses who have to make payroll with higher regulatory costs? There’s no special breaks for them in Trudeau’s carbon scheme,” the Tory leader thundered. “Of course there isn’t — to Justin Trudeau, you are the enemy,” said Scheer. Read more: Opinion | Bob Hepburn: Andrew Scheer and Doug Ford are copying Trump’s playbook Scrapping labour reforms is damaging Ford’s popularity: poll Investigations launched into allegations against former Tory minister Jim Wilson, key aide Andrew Kimber “The commuter, the office worker, the hockey mom, the retired senior — those are the people that are getting dinged by this carbon tax. That’s why it’s unfair. Everyday Canadians should not be forced to pay more for everything,” he said. With Ford, a millionaire who inherited his father’s successful business, sitting in the front row, Scheer lampooned Trudeau as a wealthy scion out of touch with ordinary Canadians. “Justin Trudeau inherited a great fortune — and I’m not talking about the trust fund,” the federal leader said. “When he became prime minister, he inherited a surplus budget and a booming economy, thanks in large part to our Conservative government, but he’s squandered it.” Scheer also took a shot at top Trudeau aides Katie Telford, Gerald Butts, Brian Clow, and Zita Astravas, who previously worked in Liberal governments at Queen’s Park, where the Grits won four provincial elections in a row under former premiers Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne. “The very same Queen’s Park Liberals who’ve left Premier Ford and his team with the mess that they’ve inherited have moved on to Ottawa and are trying to do the same thing to Canada, that they did to Ontario. We can’t let that happen,” he said. In Ottawa, Eleanore Catenaro, the prime minister’s press secretary, shrugged off the attacks. “The Conservatives have been fixated on Justin Trudeau for years,” said Catenaro. “We’ve always been focused on Canadians, and we’re going to stay focused on Canadians,” she said. On Friday night, Ford warned he “will not sit by and let Justin Trudeau make life more expensive for Ontario seniors and families.” “The carbon tax fight is far from over. We are going to challenge it in court,” the premier said, referring to a $30 million legal fight. “We’re going to force the federal government to show the carbon tax rip-off every time you pay your heating bills or fill up your car,” said Ford. “I’m putting the prime minister on notice. We’ve already taken Kathleen Wynne’s hands out of your pockets — and Justin Trudeau, you’re next,” he said. Under the federal plan, the average Ontario household will pay $244 more annually on gasoline, natural gas, and home heating oil, but will receive $300 back in rebates for a net gain of $56 a year, bankrolled by big industrial polluters. Scheer, who avoided reporters after his speech, did not broach Ford’s decision to axe Ontario’s independent French-language watchdog and scrap a francophone university in Thursday’s fall economic statement. That move, as the provincial Tories scramble to cope with $14.5 billion deficit, has sparked controversy in Quebec and could hurt the federal party there in next year’s election. Along with melding the French-language services commissioner’s responsibilities and those of the Ontario child advocate watchdog into the ombudsman’s office, the government has eliminated the independent environmental commissioner’s job. That function will now be served by the auditor general. Greenpeace Canada’s Keith Stewart said that’s ominous for the environment. “Canada’s conservative movement needs to look up from petty partisanship and recognize the real enemy: the enormous damage that unchecked climate change will wreak on our health, homes, economy and ecosystems,” said Stewart. “Rather than scoring cheap political points by misrepresenting the effect of putting a modest price on pollution, true conservatives should be defending the right of their kids to inherit a world that hasn’t been destroyed by short-term greed.” 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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Police investigate incidents of alleged assault and sexual assault at St. Michael’s College School (Fri, 16 Nov 2018)
This article contains graphic content. Toronto police are investigating “a number of occurrences involving incidents of alleged assaultive and sexually assaultive behaviour” at St. Michael’s College School, according to a media statement released Friday. This comes as officials at the boys’ private school confirmed they took a full day to notify police about a graphic video showing an alleged sexual assault on a student, according to a statement and timeline released by the school. The elite institution on Friday revealed a “third incident” is now being investigated, but did not provide details. In its statement, it also said eight students have been expelled and one suspended for two separate severe violations of the Student Code of Conduct. Toronto police spokesperson Caroline de Kloet would not comment further on the nature of the alleged incidents, nor how many they are investigating. “There are various different things we’re looking into at this moment,” she told the Star. Read more: How could things have gone so wrong at St. Mike’s? The news release by police notes that officers “believe there may be other victims and witnesses and are encouraging anyone who has not yet spoken to investigators to come forward.” The Star reached out to the school’s administration repeatedly for comment on Thursday and Friday, but was unsuccessful. Late last week, two videos began circulating on social media sites. The Star viewed both. One 49-second video, shot in the boys’ washroom, shows a young boy in his underwear — he appears not to be injured — placed in a large sink by other boys, who splash water on him and slap him. Another video, lasting 22 seconds, of a different boy, shows the young teen held down by a group of boys in a locker room while he is sexually assaulted with what appears to be a broomstick. Police have warned that anyone in possession of the video should delete it immediately because it meets the definition of child pornography. Following days of confusion about who knew what and when the school released a timeline on Friday, providing details. The administration says it received the video showing the alleged sexual assault on Monday evening, but did not notify police, nor did it hand over the video until Wednesday, after the school completed its internal investigation. That’s the same day that the allegations about the video went public. De Kloet said officers from 13 Division and the Child and Youth Advocacy Centre were made aware of the alleged sexual assault on Wednesday morning from the media. “That’s what started our investigation and then we attended the school,” she said on Friday. “We went to them.” Asked if the police were considering possible charges for members of the administration for not reporting the alleged sexual assault immediately, she said the priority now is to focus on the current investigations and the “well-being of our victims.” “Going forward we’ll look at all aspects, but, for now, we need to give our full attention to the alleged incidences,” she said. The school says it received a video Monday morning of the boys’ washroom and then contacted police. That evening, they saw the other video, of the boy being allegedly assaulted in the locker room. None of the victims notified administration about what happened. The school had two separate assemblies for parents on Friday afternoon. The principal explained he was busy on Tuesday meeting with parents whose children were involved in the washroom incident, which resulted in the expulsion of four students that day. The next day, he said, he notified police to tell them about the other video of the locker room, by which point media was beginning to make inquiries about it to police. On Wednesday, four boys were expelled because of what happened in the locker room, and one boy was suspended in relation to the washroom incident. According to its statement, the school has brought in crisis counsellors and security. The administration has met with members of the Junior football team and their parents. Hundreds of parents attended the assemblies. Some were demanding answers from administration and expressing frustration with the media attention this has garnered, saying the school is being unfairly tarnished. Some parents blamed the administration, saying it had failed their boys. Some voiced concern for the safety of their sons, saying they don’t feel safe wearing their uniform in public. And a couple of parents spoke of how their sons had been victims of bullying in the past and felt staff didn’t do enough to curb the behaviour. The statement from St. Mike’s says the community has been left “shaken and heartbroken” and the primary concern is “the care, safety and well-being of our students.” St. Mike’s, which teaches Grades 7 through 12, is run by the Basilian Fathers, a Roman Catholic religious order. The school is famous for its sports programs. Prominent alumni include Dave Keon and Tim Horton. Annual tuition costs are about $21,000. “We are deeply saddened and troubled by the events that have come to light over the past days,” said Father Thomas Rosica, spokesperson for the Basilian Fathers. Lawyer Joe Colangelo, who’s not involved with the case, says the school had a duty to report the alleged sexual assault, without delay, under the Child and Family Services Act. That’s because the victim (who’s under 18) would fall under the definition of a child in need of protection. “I think there’s an argument to be made that they should have been off of the mark immediately and reported the matter to a child-protection person,” he said. “If you believe that a child at the hands of any person has suffered sexual molestation or exploitation or has been assaulted, you are obliged to report and you are obliged to take steps to protect the victim immediately.” The events at St. Mike’s have prompted other schools to have discussions about bullying and harassment. At Upper Canada College, a boys’ private school, an assembly was held Thursday, where staff reiterated that the students’ safety and care are their primary concern. “Bullying, harassment, and assault of any kind are not tolerated at Upper Canada College,” said school spokesperson Marnie Peters, adding the principal “has extended UCC’s support to the St. Michael’s community during this difficult time. Anyone with information can call the Child and Youth Advocacy Centre at 416-808-2922, or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477), online at www.222tips.com. St. Mike’s timeline of events: (This timeline has been edited.) Monday, November 12 • School Administration receives on Monday morning a video of the first incident (boys’ washroom) that severely violates the Student Code of Conduct • School begins an internal investigation by gathering in information and by interviewing students involved and their parents • School notifies police about the first incident • School Administration receives on Monday evening a video of a second incident (locker room) that severely violates the Student Code of Conduct Tuesday, November 13 • School continues an internal investigation into both incidents, which includes identifying, notifying, and interviewing all students involved and their parents. • School Administration expels four students related to the first incident (boys’ washroom). • School Administration informs faculty and staff of both incidents. Wednesday, November 14 • School Administration continues investigation of the second incident (locker room) by conducting interviews and notifying families involved that police will be contacted by the school. • School Administration expels four students related to the second incident (locker room). • School Administration suspends one student related to the first incident. • Upon completion of its internal investigation, School Administration provides information related to the second incident to police, and gives the second video (locker room) to police. • School Administration updates faculty, staff, and the student body in an assembly, informing students of police directive to delete related videos in their possession. • School releases a statement to their community and the media. • Toronto Police issues a statement announcing that the second incident involves sexual assault allegations. • School Administration continues to reach out to victims to provide support Thursday, November 15 • Police inform the school about a security threat and provide uniformed and plainclothes officers as extra security on campus. • Police respond with standard personnel required for a reported school threat. • In concert with police, School Administration determines the school is safe for all students. • Additional crisis counsellors brought in to provide counselling to students, faculty, and staff. • School Administration and faculty initiate homeroom visits to provide support. • School Administration continues to reach out to victims to provide support. • School Administration is made aware of a third incident and notifies police. • School updates its parent community. Friday, November 16 • Crisis counsellors and security remain on campus. • Security presence at the school continues for a second day. • School Administration to hold two information meetings for parents at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Isabel Teotonio is a Toronto-based reporter covering education. Follow her on Twitter: @Izzy74 May Warren is a breaking news reporter based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @maywarren11
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Life coach, free speech champion, Messiah? A Swedish journalist tries to understand Jordan Peterson through the lens of his fans (Sat, 17 Nov 2018)
Jordan B. Peterson wrapped up a wildly successful European tour this past week. The University of Toronto professor and author has spent the past month speaking to huge crowds at sold-out venues across the continent. Ahead of his visit to Stockholm earlier this month, leading Swedish daily newspaper Svenska Dagbladet examined the popularity of a figure who was been called both the saviour of masculinity and an extreme demagogue. Translated into English for the first time, reporter Adam Svanell looks at Peterson’s attraction in Sweden and seeks out people who say their lives have changed because of the controversial psychologist. “It’s like living in the beginning of the Age of Enlightenment.” That’s how Johan Karlström describes his feeling. “I think this is a time of a new direction. A new era is coming and there are enormous opportunities for change.” Karlström, who is 41 years old and unemployed, lives alone in a house outside Sollefteå, a small town in Sweden. We speak on the phone. I have just been watching one of his YouTube videos about political correctness, the PC-ism, a fanatical ideology that he claims is dominating Sweden. The PC-ism has, according to Karlström, created a repression of opinion where it is forbidden to speak the truth about feminism and immigration. Read more: I was Jordan Peterson’s strongest supporter. Now I think he’s dangerous Jordan Peterson documentary ‘Shut Him Down’ an insightful take on controversial prof Peterson is trying to make sense of the world — including his own strange journey “Everybody with the slightest intellectual capacity has been forced away from the public domain to the advantage of people who either are morally reprehensible or daft,” he says in the video. Still, when I, a journalist from Svenska Dagbladet, a daily newspaper published in Stockholm, call him, he is friendly, low-voiced and cheerful. “I feel an unbelievable optimism. Yes, I am almost high, thinking of all the things one would be able to do when the old, false society has been swept away,” he says in his calm rural dialect. His optimism can primarily be attributed to one person: Jordan B. Peterson. “I believe he is some kind of John the Baptist. Someone who acts as a spark, waking up people’s thinking,” he tells me. “I’ve always thought if people really noticed what I was teaching there would be Hell to pay,” Peterson writes in 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. Now, nine months after the book was published, that is just what there is, Hell to pay. It may seem paradoxical. In his writings, Peterson often reverts to the danger of polarization and dogmatism. He warns of simple answers, stresses the importance of open conversations. Yet, there are few issues as polarizing as the opinion of Peterson. For a long time, the 54-year-old was a relatively anonymous psychologist and professor at the University of Toronto. In September 2016, he left his first public footprints with a series of videos where he protested against the proposition that gender identity was to be made a basis for discrimination in Canadian law. A threat against freedom of speech, Peterson thought. His much-debated interpretation was that he could be prosecuted if he refused to address a student with the pronoun the student preferred. He is being cheered for his new thinking in spiritual matters, but he is also being called a misogynist and “the leading influencer of the alt-right” — a white nationalist movement. The debate brought him fans, antagonists and voluntary donations. He used the money to employ a team that started filming his lectures for posting on YouTube. Two years later, Peterson arrived in Stockholm a world-famous star. Tickets to his speaking events there were sold out in half an hour. His YouTube channel has 1.5 million subscribers. 12 Rules for Life, which was published in English in January and in Swedish in May, has sold more than two million copies. He has been mentioned in the New York Times as “the most influential intellectual thinker in the Western world right now.” He is described as a role model for young men. International media are constantly paying him attention. At the same time, many stories have headlines such as “Is Jordan Peterson the stupid man’s smart person?” So, how are we to understand the Peterson phenomenon? What is it that he is arousing? What is his mission? I decided to speak to some people who really ought to be able to explain this: his fans. “Well, that depends...” Anna-Karin Wyndhamn writes in answer to my request for an interview. “What is your attitude toward Peterson? Which of his writings have you read and which courses have you been on?” When we meet at the Faculty of Education at the University of Gothenburgh, Sweden, she says she doesn’t want to be portrayed as an ultra-conservative. “Nor be freakified: ‘here is someone who is obsessed with Peterson,’” she says. “I have broadened my thinking by listening to him, started to question things in a new way, but that does not mean I embrace everything he says.” Wyndhamn is 42, with a Ph.D in educationalist work. At the university, she works with matters concerning equal treatment and equality. In 2017, she hosted the Swedish version of the TV show Super Nanny, where she helped confused parents raise their kids. “I believe that I was, if not the first, at least among the first in Sweden to listen to Jordan Peterson,” she says. It started with a video, of course. Peterson is part of the YouTube intelligentsia sometimes called The Intellectual Dark Web, a heterogeneous bunch of controversialists, among them the brain researcher Sam Harris, TV host David Rubin and the economist Eric Weinstein. What they have in common is the fact they talk a lot about freedom of speech (which they like) and political correctness (which they dislike) and that they have built a large following outside of traditional media channels. Peterson is the opposite of being a conformist and is, in that way, a role model. In the spring of 2017, Wyndhamn stumbled upon a clip where Peterson argued compassion is being used as a tool to promote “postmodern and neo-Marxist, anti-West doctrines.” Interesting, she thought. That summer she was biking a lot, with Peterson almost always in her ear. “It gave me a new way of thinking about what I had been doing myself, what the academy is today and as what it could serve. What happens if the perspectives that become dominant in certain fields are more driven by ideology than coming from verified science? What does that do to those who are drawn to the universities? Will they become capable of reading advanced texts and of writing independent, critical texts? Or are they turned into puppets for a political dogma of what is right and wrong? “This is a central idea of Peterson’s: postmodern theories have created ideologization and value relativism. Morale and truth have been turned into a question of subjective experience. Peterson — who has spent much time studying Stalin, Hitler and Mao — does not only reject the scientific value of, for example, gender studies and critical studies of whiteness, but also claims that they can lead to a new totalitarian society.” For Wyndhamn, his thoughts supported objections she earlier had on, for example, norm criticism. “People are being sorted into fixed groups and being told ‘here is our idea of who is superior and who is inferior. Now go out into the world and see to what extent you can be critical of that.’ For me it is a way of locking one’s view rather than opening it.” Peterson inspired her to see the problems and to dare expressing them. “Somehow I came to a point where I thought ‘why should I not tell that I am critical of certain things?’” What does she see as the gist of his message? “A call to the individual to constantly be moving the limits of one’s thinking and, through that, what is possible to achieve in one’s life.” As a woman, academic and previous chairperson of the department’s committee for gender perspective, Wyndhamn is otherwise almost as far as you can get from the cliché image of Peterson’s audience. He likes to speak about all the boys and men who have thanked him for helping them to overcome destructivity and bitterness and points out that only 10 per cent of those who watch his videos are women. His image smacks of male role models from times gone by. The stern father. The well-dressed, eloquent teacher. The cowboy, “the small-town Peterson from the Alberta hinterland” as it says in 12 Rules for Life. A simple man standing steady on the soil and standing up for himself. And whose only food is beef, salt and water. Men do not have to apologize for their masculinity in order to have a better life. In spite of the many references to Nietzsche, Jung and Solzhenitsyn, his bestseller is also basically a self-help book, designed to usher people out of the chaotic meaninglessness that is living in modernity. Life is suffering, Peterson declares. We are all capable of atrocious things, and we have a calculator inside of us that all the time is keeping track of our status. Dominance hierarchies have existed longer than trees have. Trying to abolish them is impossible. The only thing you can do is take responsibility for your own life, striving upward in a disciplined way, not seeking happiness, but virtue and dignity. Some of the rules: stand up straight with your shoulders back. Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient). Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world. Tell the truth — or, at least, don’t lie. The ideal is the strong self-sacrificing hero. Both men and women want men to become tougher, according to Peterson. If men are pushed too hard to be more like women, they will become more interested in a hard-fascistic ideology. In Sweden, he has inspired controversialists such as Alexander Bard and David Eberhard. “He empowers disillusioned men and shows that responsibility, not blaming others, is the way forward,” Benjamin Kalischer Wellander writes in the magazine Liberal Debatt. “Men are not obliged to apologize for their manliness in order to find a better life. They do not have to cry their eyes out at ‘boys’ dinners’ arranged with the consent of feminists.” “I read your piece on fatigue,” says Alexander Sopov, laughingly. “We have a thing, we the second generation immigrants, that we use to joke about: that fatigue is a Swedish invention. If I had called my mother and said that ‘I am too tired to work’ she wouldn’t understand what I was talking about. My parents never had any alternative. Work or starve to death.” His one-room apartment is on the top floor of an 11-storey building in Sweden’s Hisingen area. A bed in one corner. Leather sofa in another. In a cupboard there are the cups from his years as a heavyweight boxer. Sopov is 28 years old and a self-employed web developer. Very fit, self-assured. When asked to describe his upbringing in an Orthodox Christian working-class family, he says everything always went his way. There are many people out there who are in deep waters, nearly drowning. He can help them. “I was like King Midas. Everything I touched turned to gold. It was evident that I was the one who was going to lift the family. I was good at school, ambitious and driven. Then it was like God grew tired of me.” As a teenager he denounced his faith. He quit boxing and for many years it was all about parties, working as a bartender, giving a course in dating inspired by the book The Game. At the age of 25, he was on sick-leave after knee surgery and he says he received no benefits. At the same time his father fell ill and died. “I couldn’t help my father financially because I had no money, and I couldn’t help him mentally because I was too weak. For a while I couldn’t even fake a smile. One could see tragedy screaming from my face. I knew I couldn’t say to Mum ‘I am broke, I have lost the will to live’ and receive support. So, I started working towards the only future I could consider: being self-employed. I was tough, but slowly I dug myself out of it. I have gone from being burdened by invoices to buying gold watches and owning a BMW. A symbolic achievement. Today I can smile again. “Nowadays, many people have the wrong expectations,” Sopov says. “We believe that life is supposed to be comfortable just because tigers no longer eat us. ‘What excuses do we have for not being happy,’ we say, when we should be saying ‘what right do we have to be happy?’” The turnaround in his life happened before he discovered Peterson, but the professor’s ideas have had a big influence on him. “There are many people in deep waters out there, close to drowning. He can help them. His most important contribution to my life is the importance of guiding principles.” A constant point of reference with Peterson is the Bible. Not because it speaks to a real God, but because it conveys a collective wisdom in the form of archaic stories and principles which, according to him, have survived for so long because they express something true. For Sopov, this has made many pieces fall into place. Nowadays he wears a cross and prays every day. “We live in times when we know enough to know that literal interpretations of religion are wrong, but if you look at it metaphorically there is no end to the wisdoms. Just because a magician has put a rabbit in the hat, that doesn’t mean that there actually isn’t a rabbit in the hat. What does he see as the gist of Peterson’s teachings? There is a catastrophe waiting around the corner and the only guarantee to avoid being obliterated is to live as it has already happened. Lift the heaviest stone you can lift and move it to a better place. Again, and again. Survival mode, constantly. Is Peterson, in fact, a religion in himself? That may seem to be too simple a thought. Most movements that engage people are habitually accused of being “sects” where leaders are “being worshipped.” But, in the case of Peterson, the parallels are more than him having devout followers and resembling a preacher when he speaks. Already in the foreword of his book 12 Rules for Life, psychiatrist Norman Doidge compares the rules in the book to the Ten Commandments. It has been claimed Peterson has had plans to buy a church where he wants to speak every Sunday. His arguments for the need for rules for life start with how a common faith system gives meaning and makes the world understandable. He writes that maybe there is nothing more important than to preserve this institution. “Here is this summer’s harvest,” says Barbro Liberg. Six-metre-tall Yuca palm trees are standing on the floor in this second home outside of the small town of Skövde. It was previously only used as her summer house but now it is her annex surgery. “Sometimes,” she says, “when a patient has given up hope, I say ‘look at these trees. A short while ago they were just dry sticks, and look at them now!’” She is 74 years old and had been planning to retire a long time ago but her work as a psychiatrist was too meaningful. She says colleagues have called her “a wise old lady” and “one who knows how to deal with spiritual issues.” Last spring, when Svenska Dagbladet published the article “This is why young people are attracted to a guru who despises weakness” by Carl Cederström, an associate professor at Stockholm University, there was a flood of emails in support of Peterson. In working on this piece, I went through the emails. The senders formed a long list of male names — and one woman. In her email, Liberg says she has listened many times to Peterson’s lectures: “It takes quite a big mental effort to understand his thinking, but for those who are not frightened by his special style, but are really listening in earnest, there is, I feel, much to embrace in his analysis and synthesis of old truths in a new light. His earnest pursuit of honesty and his wish not to dissimulate leaves him sometimes emotionally stark naked in front of the listeners. “Long before I began listening to Jordan I had thought ‘thank you, dear church for the evangelists!’” My experience says evangelists are a tremendous treasure for humanity, particularly their hopeful message that every human being can mean something, that there is something good to strive for. But I have experienced an incapacity for tying together the church’s message with people’s existential needs. In the Christian sphere, some who have embraced Peterson are astounded by the fact someone has succeeded in getting young men to start Bible study circles. Others have pointed out that he is rather far from the Christian message of love. Because for Peterson it is the individual who is divine. Redemption is reached through development of the self. But the archetypal death of Christ exists as an example of how to accept finitude, betrayal and tyranny heroically ... and not as a directive to victimize ourselves in the service of others. Alright then, perhaps God does not exist, he more or less confesses, but, contrary to the neo-atheists, he does not want to substitute the Lord with science or humanism but introduces a middle road; a belief system where you don’t have to believe in anything but yourself. Liberg is smiling as she describes how Peterson usually answers the question of whether he believes in God. “I think it is so lovely, because he is writhing like a worm on a hook. He does not want to answer.” What does she think is the gist of his message? “That he is his words. How you live must be consistent with what you say. If there is anything that I have learned, from my profession, that is life-giving, it’s self-knowledge. People who dare to be themselves are role models.” Is Peterson a political thinker? No, is his own answer. At the same time, it is not hard to understand why opinion-makers on the left, right and centre perceive him as their opponent. When he brings up that the 85 richest people in the world own as much as the 3.5 billion poorest people, it is not a criticism of inequality, but an expression of the opinion that hierarchies are a natural part of life. Where some people see a champion for free speech seeking an open debate, others see a reactionary, even fascistic, agitator. When he writes about the liberalizing of divorce laws in the 20th century, it is to question whether the children whose lives were destabilized thought that was a good thing. He goes on to say fear and terror are lurking behind the walls that wise ancestors put up for us and that we tear them down at our own risk. We are unknowingly skating on ice with deep cold water underneath, water where unimaginable monsters roam. What monsters is he talking about? What does he mean when he says fear and terror are better than the alternative, or when he expresses concern that children might fare badly from having same-sex parents? However subtle he is in his writing, there is also another Peterson who, in debates and on Twitter, is making drastic remarks on everything from climate research to connections between race and IQ. Bernard Schiff, a psychology professor, wrote an article in the Toronto Star with the headline “I was Jordan Peterson’s strongest supporter. Now I think he is dangerous.” Schiff, who used to be a colleague of Peterson’s — for a period their families even lived together — describes him as something of a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde figure: charming and considerate but also aggressive and paranoid. To draw conclusions about who he is based only on the good and thoughtful Peterson, not the evil one, becomes misleading and potentially dangerous, according to Schiff. He accuses his old friend of using the same methods as the authoritarian demagogues he has been studying. His opposition to rights for transgender people cannot be reduced to a question of freedom of speech but is a way of baiting the masses against a minority, Schiff claims. He feels Peterson is driven by fear that the LGBTQ movement and the dissolvent of the nuclear family creates chaos and is threatening the whole order of society. In a conversation between the two men in 2016, Peterson reportedly said his wife has prophetic dreams and that she has dreamt that doomsday is near. According to Schiff, Peterson seems to believe this — and looks upon himself as the saviour who must prevent the end of the world. The recurring accusation that Peterson is an alt-right philosopher seems to be a case of guilt by association. If the extreme right is pleased with his thoughts, it is more because of what they read into his writing than what those words actually say. At the same time, if they do, isn’t there something important in that as well? “It is understandable that liberals, cultural Marxists and actually everybody leaning to the left, turn a deaf ear when Peterson is talking,” the Nordic alt-right says on its site. In “Samtiden,” a newspaper loyal to the far-right populist party Sverigedemokraterna (SD), editor-in-chief Dick Erixon sees a connection between Peterson and the SD leader Jimmie Åkesson: both are an example of the new kind of leadership that is needed in the cultural struggle against the leftist liberal hegemony. I join the Facebook group Jordan B. Peterson Sverige, which has 2,200 members. When one person asks the others what party they are going to vote for in Sweden’s general elections, 60 per cent put an X either for Medborgerlig Samling, Sverigedemokraterna or Alternativ för Sverige (all very small and conservative). Out of 300 answers, not a single vote is given to the parties in the coalition government: the Social Democrats and the Green Party. Of course, this does not necessarily mean a majority of those who like Peterson are sympathizing with the anti-establishment parties. But it should probably say something. I find Johan Karlsson through the Facebook group. He is among the most active, writing about whether Peterson’s world of ideas fits with Confucianism, and which thoughts he has borrowed from Jung. And, of course, PC as in political correctness. Over the phone, he explains to me how the changes happening in society can be explained by the boiled frog metaphor. “A frog that’s cooked slowly doesn’t notice that the water is getting warmer. You don’t notice what is going on as society is getting a little more crazy all the time. Karlsson lists examples. “We distort human nature forcing boys to be like girls. We import grown-ups to Sweden, pretending they are children.” In the election he voted for Alternativ för Sverige. He finds the more established Sverigedemokraterna too nervous. One of Karlsson’s latest YouTube videos is called “Election results likely to have been manipulated and why that can be something good.” I ask him what proof he has. “There are as many reports as you could wish about ballot papers being hidden away and so forth. No doubt about that. Then I find it wrong to say that we have to have proof. I don’t think that the politicians we have are particularly honest people so how can you believe in a result that is simply presented to you? They should prove that there was no fraud. “For example, I made a video where I am saying that voting rights for women weren’t such good idea. When you do such things, you earn respect for yourself.” His video has 54,000 viewings and has been liked 1,400 times on YouTube. Karlsson does not want to appear in a photo. While I look for his phone number, I learn the average monthly income in his area is SEK 14.700 ($2,150) and that nearly half of the population vote for the Social Democrats. He tells me he has brain damage from a blow to his head when he was 3 years old. After that incident, his memory is weak and his mental energy low, which has made it hard for him to get a job. He has been out of work or on sick leave for depression for most of his grown-up life. But things have changed since he discovered Peterson. Inspired by his hero, he started a YouTube channel. The result: self-esteem, drive and a feeling of being able to make a difference. In one video, Karlsson says he thinks Peterson has been chosen by history and that it is not a coincident that he is white and male. “He is like Satan to the politically correct, but to us normal people he is the archetypical wise man or even Messiah, or at least a prophet.” Peterson’s philosophy, he explains, represents a whole new way of thinking at the same time leaving much room open for interpretation. I think there is some kind of allure in that. That you do not quite understand what he means, or what it leads to, while at the same time the things you do understand are so bewildering. Somewhere here I begin to see at least part of an explanation as to why Peterson strikes a chord in large groups and causes rage in others. He has so many opinions, some of them contradictory, on such a wide range of topics that one can choose where to put one’s emphasis and interpretation. Champion of free speech, life coach, authoritarian reactionary or Messiah? No wonder his critics and supporters cannot hold a discussion in a calm manner. They can’t even agree on who he is and what he is saying. I ask everybody I interview where they see Peterson in five years’ time. “I think The Intellectual Dark Web will merge into some kind of secular organization, a religion 2.0 for the modern human being,” Sopov says. Wyndhamn is hoping Peterson will be able to make certain academic areas a bit more open and less self-confirming. Karlström is looking forward to a time where there’s opportunity to form new thoughts. “Democracy, for example, is it really that good? That is one of many self-evident things that must be questioned as people start thinking in a critical manner.” “Hope,” says Liberg as we step into her Toyota. “Peterson can give people hope. I see much earnest, disorientated searching, both in men and women. “Today there are not any ready-made moulds really, for good or for bad. I believe that Jordan stands for a forceful, honest wish to have a responsible masculinity.” She gives me a ride to the station. I tell her about the vote in the Facebook group and I ask her if it is obvious that a responsible masculinity is stern and heroic rather than permitting and caring. “I am thinking that if Jordan’s message that one must pull oneself together could be conveyed in a friendlier manner, masculinity would not have to be an armour but more like a walking stick. So that searching young men have something to hold on to. And if he is attracting extreme people I hope they take all of his message to heart. That might just be what they need.” She turns silent. There is a high wind outside. She says: “I tend to turn everything to something positive. I hope that Jordan will be able to bring hope, that it will actually turn out well.” This article originally appeared in Swedish daily newspaper Svenska Dagbladet on Oct. 19. It has been translated into English for the Toronto Star.
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The City of Toronto is loading more costs on to new development, costing consumers thousands (Fri, 16 Nov 2018)
I’m sure that as you sip on your Saturday morning coffee and flip through the paper or your phone, looking at new home ads, that you had no idea the City of Toronto increased development charges by $20,000 on a new single family home. From the $41,251 fee set this past May 1, development charges for a single family home increased to $60,739 this past Nov. 1. That charge will increase to $71,432 on Nov. 1, 2019 and then to $80,227 on Nov. 1, 2020, adding $38,976 to the cost of a new home in just three years. So, what are development charges? They are a tax imposed by local municipalities on new homebuyers, as well as GO Transit and education boards. They contribute to the capital costs of municipal services such as roads, water services, sewers, parks and recreation and emergency services. The building and land development industry supports the need for new homebuyers to pay their fair share of these costs. New homebuyers pay their fair share for infrastructure and services, but municipalities like the City of Toronto are loading excessive costs on to new development. The bottom line is that these costs are pricing new homebuyers out of the market. Development charges have increased exponentially and it has shifted the burden of paying for critical infrastructure onto the newest residents and businesses moving into a neighbourhood. This past May, BILD commissioned a study by Altus Group that calculated all government fees and charges on a new single family home in six municipalities across the GTA. The study found that, on average, all government fees, taxes and charges amounted for 22 per cent of the cost of a new home. The biggest contributor was development charges, which accounted for 30 per cent of all charges. Since 2004, development charges have increased between 236 and 878 per cent across the GTA. Once the City of Toronto finishes the phase-in of its latest round of increases in 2020, the increase over 2004 levels will be a whopping 1,700 per cent. To provide a comparison over that same time frame, the Consumer Price Index (CPI – Inflation) rose by 22 per cent and the average new house price in Toronto increased by 143 per cent. Development charges are increasing 10 to 40 times faster than inflation over the same period. Existing City of Toronto homeowners faced a property tax increase of 30 per cent per household during that same period. When we talk about affordability of new housing, we must ensure that development charges do not become a barrier to new home ownership. David Wilkes is president and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) and a contributor for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @bildgta
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This Syrian refugee is living the classic Canadian dream. ‘We are so proud of Canada and want to make Canada proud of us’ (Sat, 17 Nov 2018)
Three years after Canada opened its doors — and heart — to almost 60,000 Syrian refugees, Yaseen Alshehadt has a job he loves, his wife is learning English and their children are getting “the world’s best education.” He’s living the classic immigrant’s dream. Although settling in a new country can be difficult, Syrian newcomers who were sponsored by the federal government and community groups are slowly setting down roots in their adopted country, according to a new survey by COSTI, the agency tasked by Ottawa to settle government-sponsored Syrians in the GTA. The survey found many are thriving, with a third having found jobs and some 87 per cent reporting they feel happy. “I can speak English now and have a job. My kids are in school. We feel 80 per cent Canadian,” said Alshehadt, 44, whose family fled Daraa in 2011 when the Syrian civil war broke out. They spent five years in Jordan before coming to Canada in January 2016 under a government sponsorship. “We are so proud of Canada and want to make Canada proud of us, but we need some time to grow.” The COSTI survey of government-assisted Syrians in Greater Toronto found they are faring better than immigrant service providers would have expected. Read more: Is Canada in the midst of a refugee crisis? Experts say it’s important to keep things in perspective ‘I screamed, but no one came’: The horrifying sexual violence facing Syrians Canada to resettle dozens of White Helmets and their families from Syria “As a settlement sector practitioner who has been working at this for 30 years, I believe this particular group, which is (so early) into their settlement, is ahead of the integration process,” said Mario Calla, executive director of COSTI. “Half have had paid employment and many are still committed to their language training. They have made friends with non-Syrians and are not just retreated to their own community, which slows down their integration. These are all very good signs.” Millions of Syrians have fled their homeland since the start of the bloody civil war that has left more than 350,000 people dead. Since November 2015, Canada has welcomed 58,650 Syrian refugees, about half sponsored by the Canadian government and others sponsored by community groups who came together in response to the massive humanitarian crisis. The integration of government-assisted Syrians has always been more difficult because this group faces greater barriers due to lower education, poorer English and larger households. A previous study by the immigration department found a higher proportion of government-assisted refugees relied on food banks and were unemployed compared to their privately-sponsored peers, who have a social support network to ease their integration and settlement. In the fall, COSTI interviewed 351 families — about 80 per cent of the Syrian refugees it has assisted. They were asked about their language acquisition, employment, housing, health, children’s education and civic engagement. Participants responded to 61 questions in Arabic. The surveyed households represented some 1,755 Syrian adults and children. Among the findings: 33 per cent of the heads of households are employed, up from 12 per cent in a similar survey done a year after their arrival. Previous research found that six out of 10 government-supported refugees were employed after five years. 63 per cent of adults are enrolled in English classes, down from 86 per cent in the previous survey. Many quit after they felt their language skills had improved and that they were ready to work full-time. 21 per cent have moved from their first homes in Canada, with most wanting to be closer to friends, and others requiring a bigger unit or less expensive housing. 87.3 per cent reported that their family feels happy or very happy in Canada, but 9.4 per cent expressed sadness while 3.4 per cent said they feel depressed, with many citing family separation as the cause. 92 per cent of children participate in sports or after-school activities. About 25 per cent are involved in soccer, 35 per cent in swimming, 10 per cent in hockey, football or gymnastics and 30 per cent in other activities. 100 per cent said they plan to become Canadian citizens in the future. An experienced chef, Alshehadt, the self-proclaimed “shawarma master,” began working on the serving-line at Adonis, a retail grocery chain, shortly after his family moved to Mississauga in the spring of 2016 from temporary shelter at the Toronto Plaza Hotel. He worked part-time while studying English during the day. When the one-year government financial support ran out, the family was forced to go on social assistance for about a year while Alshehadt continued to work and improve his English as his wife, Iklhas, stayed home to look after their five kids — a boy and four girls, all under 11. After the stint at Adonis, Alshehadt worked at two restaurants, including one where he helped develop the menu and train its franchised cooking staff. Earlier this year, he quit his English class and began working full-time, recently landing a job as the manager of a shawarma restaurant in Oakville. “I finished at level-4 in my English. The classes are good for the grammar and basic, but I needed to go out and practise my English through work,” said Alshehadt, who should make just short of $60,000 a year in his new job. “We are all happy being here. We all feel safe. We come here for our children and we know they will have a future here.” Alshehadt said his children are enrolled in sports and other after-school programs, interacting with other kids through soccer, dancing and swimming classes. He says the family loves socializing with their non-Syrian neighbours. His wife restarted English classes in September after they found a daycare space for their 18-month-old Canadian-born daughter, Noorseen. “The Middle East is a very closed society. In Canada, I get to know how big the world is and I love meeting people with different experience. We meet people from other religions and learn from each other. Everyone lives in peace,” explained Alshehadt, whose family attends a mosque in Mississauga. “This still feels like a dream. I tell my children they have to work hard and give back to Canada. Everything is possible here. Even if they want to become the prime minister, they can.” While his immediate goal is to help his family and his wife’s family — still living in limbo in the Middle East — be sponsored to Canada, Alshehadt said he hopes to save enough money and one day open a fusion shawarma restaurant as a tribute to Canada. Nicholas Keung is a Toronto-based reporter covering immigration. Follow him on Twitter: @nkeung
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Heather Mallick: Let the Stupid Games begin (Fri, 16 Nov 2018)
Queen’s Park right now is a wild game of 52 Pickup. You take a deck of cards, fling them into the air and everyone scrambles like mad to pick them up. I used to love this game — skill-free, chaotic and a big waste of time. But I was six. Mayor Patrick Brown is 40. Premier Doug Ford is 55. Finance Minister Vic Fedeli is 62. Perhaps they are playing another game, the nature of which eludes me. A man accused of sexual misconduct accuses another man of “inappropriate behaviour” who reports to a premier who has just ousted two men after allegations of sexual misconduct. Then each man rolls a six-sided die and whoever gets to Baltic Avenue first has to guess who murdered Mr. Boddy in the library with a dagger and it turns out that Brown is Mr. Boddy and everyone stuck a dagger in his back and then they all sue each other, game over. It’s a stupid game. In real life, you have to wonder if the Ontario Conservative Party is a cabal of incoherent, paranoid, sexually incontinent men with shadowy pasts filing lawsuits, issuing threats and hurling unforgivable insults at each other. And it’s all good fun until someone gets hurt, which turns out to be the environment watchdog and the helpless Ontario children in public care whose independent provincial advocate may vanish thanks to Fedeli, now distracted by misconduct accusations and his threats to sue Brown. All this burst open after Brown’s eccentric and tantrum-driven book, Takedown: The Attempted Political Assassination of Patrick Brown, popped up on Wednesday from Optimum Publishing International, a peculiar entity relaunched this year from Maxville, Ont. with “approximately one employee” and a website littered with spelling errors and grammatical impossibilities. Read more: Patrick Brown’s explosive tell-all lashes out at Progressive Conservative ‘enemies’ Ford rallies Tory faithful to celebrate electoral victory as incendiary book by former PC leader Patrick Brown appears Ontario Tories cut taxes and oversight protections for environment, vulnerable children, and francophones Takedown is relentlessly petty. I haven’t encountered such a bridge-burning publication since Valerie Trierweiler, girlfriend of former French president François Hollande, wrote a 2014 book about her husband’s affair with Julie Gayet, a woman so lovely that even I had a crush on her. Titled Thank You for This Moment, it was described in reviews as “a triumph of self-obsessed raving,” an emotional storm in which Hollande “became a chilly, duplicitous, tyrannical rotter who said nasty things about disabled people.” Cue Patrick Brown. Brown’s memoir is dripping with venom, calling his former advisers “rats” and his caucus “hyenas.” He snitches on Caroline Mulroney being her father Brian’s puppet, on Christine Elliott who “romanced” him with a job offer and then dumped him, and on Fedeli who he calls a “duplicitous” supplicant who always over-egged his lavish praise. And then Brown mocks Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod, saying she was “angry with everything, with everyone and with her situation in life” — for Conservative women must be muted in tone and modest in aspect — and said “members of caucus hated her.” He writes that local organizers “believed that MacLeod made up the mental health issues she claimed to have suffered during the nomination races in order to endear the public to her.” MacLeod had, with considerable courage, been open about suffering through a long spell of clinical depression that reached the depths in the winter of 2015. I do imagine that the alleged victims of all these men are profoundly frightened, anxious and depressed. At this point, Brown lost the sympathy of his readers, and pretty much everyone else, too. Depression is by its nature hidden, part of the reason many suicides are inexplicable to those left behind. What is a mentally hurting person supposed to do, sever a digit or two in caucus to convince the Browns of this world of their hidden pain? And here we also are at the depths. Constant vengeful firings, allegations of sexual misconduct, acres of spite, a largely unqualified cabinet, the Ford family octopus, lavish adoration of the leader (Ford’s 21 standing ovations during Question Period, with everyone popping up and down like the State of the Union address), a Conservative fake news network, hate directed at journalists, climate change on the back burner, being nice to business and nasty to the working poor, a yearning for the 1950s, a lack of social skills, oddly dressed people with terrible hair … you can see where I’m going with this. Or can you? Did Ford have to inherit his dad’s company, gerrymander Toronto’s wards and burn with hate for the urban elite before you notice the parallels with a certain global village idiot? We will reach total Trumphood on the day Ford sends troops to the border to repel migrants. It will be Air Cadets. It will be the Quebec border. Or perhaps it will happen when turbo-grievanced hysterics like Brown — and Maxime Bernier — lower the public tone, the Canadian expectation of civility, to a level below which it can never be repaired. Heather Mallick is a columnist based in Toronto covering current affairs. Follow her on Twitter: @HeatherMallick
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‘Hallway medicine’ and opioid crisis getting worse, Ontario health watchdog warns (Fri, 16 Nov 2018)
The latest report card on the quality of health care in Ontario shows a system under increasing strain, with hallway-medicine getting worse and the opioid crisis growing. The report from Health Quality Ontario — the arms-length agency that monitors the quality of the health system — signals that the province is once again heading into a flu season with overcrowded hospitals. As well, it shows that Ontario has experienced its largest annual jump in opioid-related deaths, indicating the epidemic has not yet crested. Both patients and workers are paying the price for increasing pressures, warns the 76-page report, titled Measuring Up 2018, tabled in the Legislature late Friday afternoon. “It is not that these are new pressures but we are seeing them get bigger,” remarked HQO interim president Anna Greenberg. “When we see the trends for some of these issues going in the same direction that we don’t want them to, it is concerning.” The report, which comes out annually, notes that many Ontario hospitals regularly operate at more than 100 per cent capacity. Read more: Doug Ford repeats vow to end ‘hallway health care’ One solution to hallway medicine: outpatient hip-replacements Canadian doctors are suffering from burnout at an ‘alarming’ rate, survey finds “(This) can lead to compromised care for patients and burnout among doctors, nurses and other health-care providers,” it warns. Demographic changes, including an aging population and more people with complex health needs, are increasing pressures throughout the system, particularly hospitals. Hospital overcrowding is a “symptom and a source of cascading pressures throughout the health system, which includes longer wait times, insufficient access to mental health and addictions care, wide variation in quality of care among long-term care homes and rising levels of distress among unpaid caregivers,” the report says. Of every seven days that patients spent in hospital in 2016/17, more than one was taken up by patients awaiting transfer elsewhere, for example, to long-term care homes or rehabilitation facilities. That’s the highest rate in five years and the equivalent of more than 10 large hospitals being occupied every day by patients waiting for care elsewhere. The overcrowding creates bottlenecks in emergency departments. Wait times for admission to hospital from the ER hit their highest peak in six years. In 2017/18, patients spent an average of nearly 16 hours in the ER before being admitted, more than two hours longer than in 2015/16. ER visits increased by 11.3 per cent over the past six years, to 5.9 million in 2017/18 from 5.3 million in 2011/12. Visits by high-acuity patients — those with more serious conditions — rose at an even higher rate, up by 26 per cent to 4.1 million from 3.3 million. Compounding the problem of overcrowded hospitals is the ongoing opioid epidemic. The report shows that visits to the ER due to opioids more than tripled to 54.6 per 100,000 people in 2017, from 15.2 per 100,000 in 2003. As well, it reveals that Ontario saw the highest annual jump in opioid-related deaths between 2016 and 2017. Two years ago, the death rate was 6.2 per 100,000 population, while last year it was 8.9 per 100,000 population. The death rate has nearly tripled since 2003, when there were three deaths per 100,000 population. Premier Doug Ford campaigned in the run-up to June’s election on a platform that included making headway on hallway medicine and the opioid crisis. While the time period covered in the report precedes Ford’s victory, it nevertheless reveals an unfavourable trajectory. “Trying to fix the problems in any one single setting is not going to be enough,” Greenberg said, explaining that transitions between various parts of the health system need to be improved. “What it will take is different parts of the system working together so that patients are able to be cared for in the right place as their needs change,” she added. The stresses within the health system are resulting in increased caregiver distress, the report shows. Among clients who received home care for six months or longer, in the first half of 2017/18, more than one in four had a primary family or friend caregiver who experienced continued distress, anger or depression in relation to their caregiving role. That’s up from 20.8 per cent in the first half of 2012/13. The increase represented 13,244 additional caregivers experiencing continued distress, anger or depression. Toronto resident Craig Lindsay knows this kind of distress all too well. The retired paramedic had a tough time being caregiver to his mother as she was dying of cancer six years ago. “She wanted to die at home and I tried to manage her at home until it overwhelmed me,” he explained. It was a difficult juggle, he recounted. He did the overnight shift at his mother’s home in the weeks leading up to her death. The family paid out of pocket for private nursing help during the day. Their bad experience is reflective of disparities in availability of palliative care services across the province. At the time, service levels were spotty in Scarborough where Lindsay’s mother lived. Lindsay also had his own health problems to contend with. Suffering from kidney failure, he requires three weekly visits to hospital for dialysis. On top of all this, he had his immediate family to care for. “It was very stressful. It compromised my health. I felt depleted,” he said. In the end, Lindsay was unable to cope. His mother ended up dying at Providence Healthcare where she spent the last three days of her life. “To be blunt, I think I failed her,” he said of being unable to meet her wishes to die at home. “I think about that often. I don’t think that is how she envisioned her last days.” HQO’s report contained some good news. For example, longevity is increasing. The life expectancy for someone born in Ontario between 2014 and 2016 is 82.5 years. That compares to 80.8 years for a person born between 2005 and 2007. Additional bright spots cited include a decreasing rate of hospital-acquired C. difficile infection and a meeting of wait-time targets for most cancer and general surgeries. Theresa Boyle is a Toronto-based reporter covering health. Follow her on Twitter: @theresaboyle
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Man suing TTC claims violent assault a case of ‘racial profiling’ (Fri, 16 Nov 2018)
In early May, Reece Maxwell-Crawford jumped out of his mother’s car and climbed onto the railing of the Scarlett Road bridge. Through a blur of tears, the distraught 19-year-old stared at the rocks and treetops below and debated whether he should jump. “I just wanted to give up, I really did,” he says. “I felt like a burden to everybody. I just wanted everything to stop.” He was eventually coaxed down by police and taken to a hospital, where he stayed for four days and received treatment for major depressive disorder. Now 20, Maxwell-Crawford is no longer in crisis but the soft-spoken Black man remains haunted by the painful experience that brought him to the edge of that bridge. Maxwell-Crawford is speaking publicly for the first time about that precipitating incident, which occurred on Feb. 18 and was captured by cellphone videos that have been watched tens of thousands of times. In the videos, Maxwell-Crawford can be seen lying facedown on a streetcar platform near Bathurst St., where he is being forcefully pinned down by three TTC officers. As a concerned crowd gathers, Maxwell-Crawford can be heard sobbing and screaming repeatedly that he “didn’t do anything.” “You’re hurting me. I’m in pain,” he shrieks. After Toronto police officers arrived and handcuffed Maxwell-Crawford, he was released without charges. He says the scuffle left him with a concussion, dislocated shoulder and back injuries, which he continues to treat with painkillers and physiotherapy. But the deepest wounds have been psychological, his family says. When Maxwell-Crawford got on the streetcar that day he was an independent and athletic young man with a girlfriend, downtown apartment, two part-time jobs and plans to pursue a career in law. Today, he has lost his girlfriend, apartment and both jobs, as well as his capacity to continue his paralegal studies at Humber College. Maxwell-Crawford says he struggles with depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress and has moved back in with his mother, Cheryle Maxwell, who has become consumed with the full-time task of helping her son reassemble his life. Maxwell-Crawford is now suing the TTC and Toronto Police Services Board, alleging he was “assaulted without justification” and illegally detained because of “racial profiling, racial bias and discrimination.” Filed on Wednesday, the lawsuit — which also names the three TTC officers and two unidentified Toronto police officers — is seeking $750,000 in damages. “Mr. Maxwell-Crawford states that he was specifically targeted for no reason other than the fact that he was a young Black man with his hood up,” according to his statement of claim. Maxwell-Crawford’s lawsuit replaces an earlier one from March, which the family is discontinuing due to issues with the original statement of claim. The allegations have not been tested in court and the respondents have yet to file a statement of defence. A TTC spokesperson also declined to comment on the lawsuit, stating the transit agency does not comment on matters before the courts. The Toronto police did not respond to questions by deadline. Maxwell-Crawford says he is coming forward now to shed light on the issue of racial profiling. Data is scarce when it comes to racial profiling in the context of public transit but a Star analysis of data from the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario shows that between 2009 and 2017, 128 complaints were filed against the TTC alleging discrimination on the basis of race, colour, ancestry, ethnic origin, place of origin, or citizenship. Maxwell-Crawford also wants to show people who he really is. He doesn’t recognize the hysterical person on the cellphone videos that captured his takedown by the TTC; he also despaired over online comments that assumed he had skipped out on his fare. (He says he paid it.) He says he is angered and saddened by how he was characterized by the TTC officers as someone who was aggressive, intimidating and possibly even carrying a weapon. “They saw me as a threat, mainly just because of the fact that I had a hood on and I was Black,” he says. “(But) I’ve worked so hard not to become that, what they think I am.” There were nine important witnesses to the events that unfolded inside the 512 St. Clair westbound streetcar that day, all of them perfectly impartial: the nine CCTV cameras installed throughout the vehicle, which recorded the entire streetcar ride leading up to confrontation. But this footage fails to reveal the competing narratives that unfolded in the participants’ heads that day — stories that differ wildly, depending on the storyteller. Three TTC fare inspectors are named in Maxwell-Crawford’s lawsuit, Patrick Bruce Henry, Mark Anthony Alarcon and Puneet Kumar Mahi. The job of a TTC fare inspector is to check for proof of payment and, if necessary, issue tickets. When it comes to use of force, they are only authorized to apply it when “reasonable” and in “defence of an unprovoked assault,” according to TTC spokesperson Stuart Green. The Star tried unsuccessfully to reach the three fare inspectors and requested interviews through the TTC, which said it would be “inappropriate” to make its employees available to the media since the lawsuit was only recently served. But the fare inspectors shared their versions of the event with the TTC’s “unit complaint co-ordinator,” which opened an internal investigation in the wake of the incident. In a July 10 report — which identified the TTC employees only as Respondents 1, 2 and 3 — the investigator concluded that the officers’ use of force on Maxwell-Crawford was “reasonable, justified, consistent with the training provided, and did not constitute an assault.” According to the report, the three fare inspectors were technically off-duty and commuting to their office at Hillcrest Yard when they embarked the 512 streetcar. Respondent 1 said Maxwell-Crawford — who was identified in the TTC report as the “customer” — boarded the streetcar and immediately began fixing him with a “dead stare.” While other transit enforcement officers later told the TTC investigator they knew Maxwell-Crawford from previous interactions, this fare inspector couldn’t recall seeing him before. (Spokesperson Brad Ross told the Star in an email the TTC has no record of previous interactions with Maxwell-Crawford.) The fare inspector said he spoke to Maxwell-Crawford several times, asking if he was OK and reassuring him he wasn’t checking for proof of payment. But he said Maxwell-Crawford didn’t respond, which, together with the staring, made him “very uncomfortable.” “Respondent 1 believed the behaviour of the customer was bizarre and not typical of a TTC customer,” the report said. A second fare inspector, who was standing farther back in the streetcar, said he noticed Maxwell-Crawford staring unblinkingly at his colleague, who was returning his gaze. He said he walked over out of concern for his colleague’s safety; shortly after, Respondent 1 beckoned a third fare inspector to join them, because his “presence could help alleviate the stare.” When the streetcar stopped at Bathurst St., all three TTC inspectors disembarked behind Maxwell-Crawford, who got off the streetcar and stood to the left of the doors before getting back on. According to Respondent 1, the doors then began to close but Maxwell-Crawford started “anxiously” pressing the button to reopen them, while his “eyes widened as if in a panic and his jaw clenched.” He says Maxwell-Crawford then “lunged” towards him with his fists clenched and entered his “personal space.” “Respondent 1 was ‘fearful,’” the TTC report said. “He believed he was about to be punched. Respondent 1 instinctively reacted by giving the customer a quick push using his two hands on the customer’s chest.” Throughout the report, the TTC inspectors described themselves as “scared” and “intimidated” by Maxwell-Crawford. They characterized his expression as both “neutral” and “blank” as well as “agitated” and bearing a “bothered emotion.” One TTC inspector described Maxwell-Crawford “flaring” his eyebrows and tensing his arms “to project a larger body frame.” In an interview with the Star, Maxwell-Crawford says he wasn’t staring at anybody on the streetcar. In fact, he says, he barely even noticed the TTC officers. “I wasn’t looking at them. I took note of them, but I wasn’t staring,” he says. “I had no idea I was in a staring contest.” Here is how Maxwell-Crawford says he experienced that Sunday streetcar ride. It was the Family Day long weekend and he was travelling to his girlfriend’s house, where their mothers were planning to meet for the first time. CCTV footage shows a young Black man with a slim but athletic build boarding the streetcar at 4:27 p.m., wearing a black winter jacket with the hood up. Respondent 1 told the TTC investigator that Maxwell-Crawford had headphones around his neck. Maxwell-Crawford insists they were actually under his hood and covering his ears. His headphones are black “Beats by Dre” wireless headphones with a noise-cancelling feature and Maxwell-Crawford remembers listening to the rapper Kendrick Lamar, with the volume on full blast. “They were very loud and I was just in my own world, thinking to myself,” he says. The CCTV footage shows Maxwell-Crawford standing just inside the streetcar door, at first leaning on the Presto card reader and then holding onto the pole. The fare inspector identified as Respondent 1 in the TTC report stands directly across from him, though Maxwell-Crawford says he barely registered him. “I was just looking through the window, minding my own business.” As the streetcar trundled towards Bathurst St., Maxwell-Crawford says he started thinking about food; he wanted to buy something to eat but money was tight, so he was feeling indecisive. He says he didn’t notice the TTC officer looking at him or talking to him. When the streetcar made its first stop, Maxwell-Crawford stepped off to let other passengers disembark. The CCTV footage shows all three fare inspectors getting off behind him but instead of walking onwards, they stop on the platform and look at Maxwell-Crawford, who also looks in their general direction while reboarding the streetcar. But once the doors closed, Maxwell-Crawford says he had a change of heart and decided to buy some food after all, thinking he might go to the nearby Harvey’s. The CCTV footage shows him pressing the button to open the door, stepping onto the platform, and getting shoved by one of the fare inspectors. In the video, Maxwell-Crawford flies backwards into the streetcar before quickly leaping to his feet and taking a wild swing at the TTC inspector who pushed him. He then gets back on the streetcar briefly before jumping back out towards the fare inspectors. “Instinctively, I fought back because I was just like, where is this coming from? I didn’t know who pushed me,” he says. Seconds later, he is taken down by all three fare inspectors. In his statement of claim, Maxwell-Crawford alleges the fare inspector “took an immediate and targeted interest in (him.)” “Throughout the entire journey, Mr. Maxwell-Crawford had done nothing to attract the attention or concern of the TTC Fare Inspectors or anyone else,” he alleges in the lawsuit. “He did nothing other than stand passively with his arms by his side with a neutral expression on his face.” Maxwell-Crawford’s lawyer, Cory Wanless, believes the CCTV footage demonstrates that Maxwell-Crawford was calm and non-threatening the entire time, and did not push the button “anxiously” to get off the streetcar or lunge at the fare inspector prior to being pushed. The lawsuit alleges the fare inspector’s actions were “motivated by racial stereotypes.” In the TTC report, the fare inspector who pushed Maxwell-Crawford recalled him “possibly” placing his right hand in his pocket. He said he did not think Maxwell-Crawford had a weapon in his pocket, but he was “mindful that there was that possibility.” A passenger interviewed by the TTC investigator — whose testimony was deemed credible — also described Maxwell-Crawford as having an “angry” stare and placing both hands inside his pockets. The surveillance video shows Maxwell-Crawford never placed his hands in his pockets, however, and the fare inspector later acknowledged in the report that “his initial perception was incorrect.” In his statement of claim, Maxwell-Crawford alleges his civil rights were violated by the respondents’ “discriminatory and racially biased actions.” But the TTC’s internal investigator concluded there was “insufficient evidence” to support allegations of racial discrimination and the fare inspector’s push was “not unreasonable.” “At no time does Respondent 1 use any force that is not in direct response to the action of the customer,” the report concluded. “The behaviour of the customer in this incident is not typical for a TTC customer and was such that it would — and did — cause several people to be concerned for their safety.” The Toronto Ombudsman is now reviewing the TTC’s investigation into this incident to examine whether it was fair and thorough and if its conclusions were reasonable. The TTC investigation did find one example of discreditable and unprofessional conduct on the part of the fare inspector who pushed Maxwell-Crawford — that he “smiled at the customer during a tense interaction.” This employee has since resigned for “unrelated reasons,” according to the TTC. For Maxwell-Crawford, this offered little comfort. He said reading the TTC report felt like a second trauma, serving only to fortify the public narrative that he was a troublemaker who got what he deserved. “It felt awful, it felt like I was another person,” he says. “There were so many things that were just not correct.” Maxwell-Crawford was detained for at least 20 minutes before he was finally released from the scene by police. He collected his broken earphones, busted cellphone and missing shoe, then got back onto the 512 streetcar and continued the rest of his journey in a daze. When he arrived at his girlfriend’s house, he pushed past her and locked himself in the bathroom, where he started to cry. His mother arrived to find her son acting “wobbly” and distraught. “I started to get very nervous because he’s not a kid that cries for no reason and when I came he was somewhat hysterical,” she says. “I was asking him about the incident, ‘What happened?’ and he couldn’t tell me. ‘Somebody pushed me, mummy. I don’t know what’s going on!’ That’s all he could tell me.” When she later watched one of the cellphone videos taken by a bystander, she was stunned by what she saw. “My son is screaming and everybody is ignoring him,” she says. “I’ve never seen him like that. “This is my athletic, strong one,” she continued. “What I saw that day was heartbreaking.” When the story hit the news, Maxwell-Crawford felt humiliated and the family struggled with how to handle the public attention. He was also diagnosed with a concussion and required treatment for both his physical and psychological injuries. The most insidious consequence of this experience has been its impact on Maxwell-Crawford’s mental health, his mother says. He has become anxious, prone to anger and often cried himself to sleep in the months after the incident, which also took its toll on his relationship with his girlfriend. Maxwell-Crawford was devastated when they broke up. But the low point was that day on the Scarlett Rd. bridge. “That time was hell,” she says. “I started wondering if he would come back.” Maxwell says her son’s broken state made it difficult for him to continue working or attend college, so he quit both and moved back in with her in March. The incident has been hard on the whole family and she says she has become consumed with helping her son get back on his feet. “One of the phrases he uses often now is, ‘I’m a good man, mom. I’m a good man.’ He goes around saying that,” she says. “He never used to do that before.” Almost exactly nine months after his encounter with the TTC, Maxwell-Crawford says he is still working on getting back to his former self, but he still thinks about the streetcar incident every day. He hopes his lawsuit will bring change and awareness over the way young Black men are stereotyped and surveilled in this city. He was just riding the streetcar that day, he says. Then suddenly, his life was irrevocably changed. With files from Melanie MacDonald Jennifer Yang is a Toronto-based reporter covering identity and inequality. Follow her on Twitter: @jyangstar
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Darren McKim died after a fire in Rosedale. Police ruled it an accident. His family says it wasn’t (Fri, 16 Nov 2018)
The fire roared amid the long shadows beneath the Mt. Pleasant Rd. bridge. A jogger changed his path and ran toward the blaze. A woman driving on Rosedale Valley Rd. pulled over; her female passenger jumped out and sprinted towards an engulfed green tent. In the heart of one of Canada’s wealthiest neighbourhoods, around dinner-time on the last Friday in April, Darren McKim — a well-loved father, son, brother, cousin, friend — was burning inside. The jogger pulled McKim from the tent. The frantic rescuers, soon joined by an off-duty paramedic, saw horrific damage. McKim’s trousers had been seared off. He was charred from the waist down. His upper body had no apparent burns but there was a fresh-looking gash on his forehead; blood covered his hands, face and pooled in his mouth. The woman from the car, Anna Cooper, tried to comfort him, gently stroking his arm as sirens grew louder. McKim looked at her and whispered: “Can I go home now?” Four days later, on May 1, McKim, 50, died at Sunnybrook Hospital. Alone. The coroner on duty that day called the death “suspicious.” Hospital staff referenced an assault in several entries in McKim’s medical records. The police taped off the area as a crime scene and treated McKim as a victim of aggravated assault — a witness told police he had heard a woman shouting at McKim in his tent shortly before the fire. Police would later change their minds. They ruled his death an accident and closed the case, saying there was no evidence to support another conclusion. The decision devastated McKim’s family who say his name should be on Toronto’s homicide list. His family believes he was attacked, then set ablaze after an altercation with a woman with whom he shared the tent — a woman police never located. Dr. Kumar Gupta, the coroner, hasn’t released his final report but McKim’s 80-year-old mother Carroll McKim Castle, said Gupta told her during a recent phone call that her son’s cause of death was “undetermined.” He did not describe it as accidental, she said. “The more you learn about it, the less you think it was an accident,” said McKim’s sister, Lori McKim-Lang. Carroll laid out her concerns in a blunt letter to police, copied to Chief Mark Saunders, in which she requested her son’s personal items six weeks after he died. She wrote that she was disappointed that there seemed to be “no effort” to find his next of kin and that his few belongings weren’t promptly given to her. “I have a feeling that had Darren not been ‘just an Indian living under a bridge’ that things would have been handled differently. I hope that I am wrong about that.” The police dispute the allegation. “The case was conducted as thoroughly as possible and the only time the victim’s race was considered during the investigation was when officers requested the assistance of others in identifying and locating next of kin,” said spokesperson Meaghan Gray. She said police closed the case after receiving information from first responders, the Centre of Forensic Sciences and the coroner’s office. Det. Stephane St. George, the lead investigator, did not return a call and emails from the Star. The Star obtained McKim’s hospital records, investigation reports by police and the Office of the Fire Marshal; examined personal effects recovered from the fire scene, including McKim’s cell phone that held phone numbers, texts and photos; interviewed his family, friends and witnesses; and found gaps in the police investigation. It was a probe that seemed to lack urgency; McKim’s family wasn’t notified that he was injured in a fire until the day after he died. Even then, police did not positively identify the charred man until they fingerprinted his corpse. Darren McKim was rushed to Sunnybrook Hospital with 42 per cent of his body’s surface area burned. There were fourth-degree burns to his legs; second-degree burns to his thighs, buttocks, and scrotum. He had been intubated, soot was found in his mouth, and doctors noted a forehead laceration. Police tried to interview McKim over the weekend but were told by hospital staff that it wasn’t possible because of his condition, according to police records. The first entry in McKim’s hospital records notes that he had been “assaulted, pushed into tent, tent set on fire. Pulled from tent by bystanders.” The hospital told the Star it got this information from paramedics. The police report also notes he had consumed alcohol. Sunnybrook surgeons tried to mitigate the burn damage, amputating one of McKim’s legs above the knee, then the other below it. But it was not enough. His organs began to fail. By Monday, a hospital social worker contacted police, advised them McKim was in critical condition and that locating next of kin was urgent, according to the police records. Det. St. George requested assistance from the Toronto police Aboriginal liaison officer, who reached out to a local Indigenous cultural centre. Police found a bank card with McKim’s name on it under the bridge. It was one of two potential names for the victim. Cooper, a Vancouver lawyer visiting Toronto who rushed to McKim’s side during the fire, had asked McKim his name. Cooper, who specializes in defending the rights of the homeless, thought she heard “Garrett” and passed that detail to firefighters at the scene. That information may have initially slowed the search to identify McKim, because “Garrett” was not a name on the bank card. McKim had been identified in Sunnybrook hospital with help from a social worker who also provided a phone number for Carroll, but it was out of service, and she wasn’t reached. McKim’s cell phone, which was not password protected, had also been collected but it’s not known who found it — paramedics and firefighters also raced to the fire scene — or what happened to the phone before it ended up in a police evidence locker along with McKim’s keys and earbuds. What is known is that his family was not contacted the night of the fire or the day after that. Or the day after that. Or the day after that. Darren John McKim was born Darren Earl Petawayash into the Long Lake #58 Band in Kenora District on Jan. 13,1968. His mother, Shirley Skead, was Ojibwe, as was his father, Richard Petawayash, later known as Richard Bedwash — an acclaimed artist who studied under legendary Ojibwe painter Norval Morrisseau. By the age of 3, the boy had been in two French-speaking foster homes, with the local children’s aid society offering him for adoption. A picture of McKim — in a short-sleeved yellow shirt and striped trousers, his dark hair is brushed neatly to one side and his eyes wide as he looked at the camera — was mailed to a white couple in Lucknow, Ont., a town about 125 kilometres north of London. “We loved him before we met him,” said Carroll, smiling at the old photograph cradled in her hands. She and her husband, Jack, had three small children of their own and wanted to adopt a son. It wasn’t until decades later that McKim, his older brother and countless other Indigenous children, would become defined as part the “Sixties Scoop.” The term refers to the removal of Indigenous children from their homes, birth parents or communities by child welfare agencies and adopted out or placed in foster care between the 1960s and the 1980s. Last year, the federal government agreed to pay a $750-million class-action settlement to survivors. In 1971, such adoptions carried no stigma, said Carroll, who was a nurse. Jack, now deceased, was a doctor and coroner. When asked by Bruce County Children’s Aid if they’d accept a “mixed race” child, the McKims said yes. The couple flew to Winnipeg, then Kenora to meet McKim at the children’s aid office. Carroll says she and her husband were taken aback when the social worker suggested they take him to their motel room for the night. They agreed, took a cardboard box with the boy’s belongings, ate, bathed him and tucked him in. The next morning, the social worker brought adoption paperwork, and said “You can take him,” Carroll recalled. They returned to Lucknow with their new son. There, his English skills improved quickly while surrounded by attentive siblings Kathryn, Lori and Scott. “Of all my children, he was the most expressive of his love,” said Carroll, standing at her daughter Lori’s kitchen counter in Waterloo, looking at photos of her son. “I don’t remember us ever thinking that as kids, he wasn’t one of us,” said Lori, a teacher in Waterloo. The McKims were Christians but Carroll said they encouraged McKim to explore his Indigenous heritage. Carroll was friends with the wife of the Cape Croker chief, who selected the name Gahwenobin — the Chosen One — for the young boy. As a youth, McKim ran, skied, played hockey and tennis, played in the school band and attended local powwows. Carroll said “it only started to go wrong” when he was about 15 and like many teenagers, started experimenting with alcohol. His rebellious streak coincided with Jack’s death in 1984. McKim would leave home for periods of time. He dropped out of school after Grade 9 (he earned his high school diploma in 2011) and worked as a waiter, then a chef. His drinking became a source of tension in the family, though McKim always kept in close touch with his mother — living with her on and off, even after she moved to Port Colborne when she married her second husband, Roy Castle. At 21, McKim married and had a daughter (who lives in Vancouver). The marriage was short-lived and he began to roam afar — a lifestyle that connected him with blood relatives across Canada but periodically led to him living on the streets. McKim often travelled to Vancouver, where his older brother lives. For a large part of his life, he called Toronto home. “He loved to go to the theatre; he saw Les Mis every time it played,” his mother said. In the city, McKim discovered distant cousins on his birth mother’s side and found his birth father: Richard Bedwash, now deceased. Father and son reconnected, even spending time with Carroll and Roy Castle. McKim was an industrious, well-liked worker. In Toronto, he was employed as a chef, a bicycle courier, shovelled snow and cleaned yards. He also collected bottles. “He was very humble,” said Melanie Montour, an Indigenous artist who in the early 2000s volunteered with McKim to cook for community gatherings. McKim tried to control his drinking as an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous. There were minor scrapes with police. Some jail time, the result of fights. Probation periods — in Toronto and elsewhere. He was chronically underhoused; often couch surfing or living outside. When he slept on Toronto park benches, Carroll said mother and son would spend time on those benches when she visited “because he had no place else to take me.” In the summer of 2017, McKim celebrated. He had been matched by a city social service to an apartment at 550 Kingston Rd. in the Upper Beaches neighbourhood. Carroll took a photo of her son in his new place last December. He held that apartment for eight months, until the day of his death. Around 5:30 p.m. on April 27, Roger St. Louis, who sleeps rough in the Mt. Pleasant Rd. bridge area, told police he was walking past McKim’s green tent and heard a woman shouting. St. Louis told the Star that McKim and the woman were “in love” and seemed to be arguing about another woman. “Don’t you ever touch my friend again,” St. Louis says the woman yelled twice before opening the tent flap and looking at him, according to the heavily redacted police report obtained by the Star. He also told police a woman had “moved in” with McKim earlier in the week but on that Friday, the pair “were arguing all day.” Within about an hour of the argument, McKim was on fire. St. Louis described the woman to police: “Aboriginal, mid-20s, small build, with light brown/dark blonde shoulder-length hair, and wearing a blue/grey baseball cap.” He gave the Star the same information, plus a nugget more: Since the day of the fire, she hasn’t returned to the valley under the bridge. Police spokesperson Gray told the Star that officers went to the fire scene to look for her on April 30, the Monday after the fire, “and again for several days after that.” McKim’s family says that delay would give any potential witness plenty of time to disappear. “They’ll be long gone,” said McKim’s sister, Lori. “Because they didn’t investigate right away.” Two of McKim’s cousins, Ronald Momogeeshick Peters and Stephen McGillis, who were close to McKim and spent time with him in Toronto say there was little word in the Indigenous community about a police investigation. McGillis said he was storing his belongings at McKim’s apartment when McKim died. McGillis questions the scope of the investigation. “I really feel that there was really not very much done because I wasn’t even interviewed,” said McGillis, whose phone number and photograph were in McKim’s cell phone. The police report does not indicate officers visited McKim’s apartment. Carroll and Lori said they were surprised that McKim was living in a tent during the last week of his life but understood that sometimes he liked to drink with friends who lived downtown. Still, they wrestle with how their son and brother came to suffer such horrific burns. An investigator for the Ontario fire marshal’s office, James Gillespie, conducted his own probe and came up with two scenarios that “could not be eliminated”: careless smoking — cigarette butts were found near the tent — and “combustibles being placed too close to an open flame.” Gillespie’s investigation focused on the cause of the fire, not on any injuries McKim may have suffered. Gillespie’s report speculates that clothing could have acted as an insulator for a lit cigarette resulting in a “smoldering fire” that allowed the tent’s cardboard lining to ignite. Or, McKim may have lit a fire inside or near the tent and flames spread to his clothing or the cardboard. No volatile ignitable liquids were identified in tests. Gillespie’s report says the cause cannot be determined because both ignition sequences — which he called hypotheses in an interview with the Star — are possible. Nevertheless, the fire was classified as accidental. McKim’s sister, Lori, is skeptical. “Don’t you think that if someone is beaten up badly, and then within hours of being beaten up badly they accidentally catch themselves on fire, does that not sound suspicious to you?” she said. Police spokesperson Gray said “the decision was made that he died as a complication of the burns and that he had no other injuries or indications of injuries that would impact the cause of death.” When asked specifically whether police concluded McKim’s head wound did not play a role in the cause of his death, Gray wrote in an email that “we didn’t (and can’t) make that determination, only the coroner can.” By all accounts, McKim was happy. He had left his job as a chef because of anxiety and was on medication. He received provincial disability payments and emotional support from his family. McKim had lots of friends and was planning a trip to see his daughter. The night before the fire, Carroll said her son phoned and they discussed her plan to rent a private box at the Rogers Centre for a family party at a May 12 Jays’ game: Carroll was turning 80 later that month. “Darren loved the Blue Jays,” she said. Carroll said her son didn’t call from his own cell phone — she noticed it came from a different number. He explained to her that his phone battery had died. Carroll doesn’t know whose phone he used. The next evening — the night of the fire — she texted him: “Hope you have had a good day. Love you. Mom.” Dr. Kumar Gupta, the coroner who came to Sunnybrook on May 1 — the day McKim died — deemed the death “suspicious” and ordered a post-mortem, according to police records. The records also noted “a large cut to his right forehead and swelling in his face was observed.” Gupta would not comment when reached by the Star. The police report states it’s unknown if McKim was “recently assaulted.” The Star spoke to Henry Kataquapit, a soapstone carver and McKim’s friend. Kataquapit recalled seeing him either the day of the fire or the day before, when the two smoked some marijuana at Paul Martel Park near Bloor and Spadina in the early afternoon. Kataquapit says McKim had no head wound. If Kataquapit is correct, this means the laceration that Anna Cooper and others saw on McKim’s forehead the night of the fire was a new injury. Cooper told the Star it appeared to her that McKim had been assaulted. “It looked like he had been attacked because he was bleeding from his forehead and he had blood in his mouth,” she said. At the hospital, photos were taken by a forensics officer, and McKim’s body was driven to the Ontario Coroner’s Office near Wilson and Keele. Carroll didn’t find out until the next day that her son was dead. The police never contacted her directly; she phoned them wondering if McKim was in some sort of trouble after she received a Facebook message from an Indigenous community member urging her to get in touch. That’s when St. George told her a man had died but his identity needed to be confirmed through fingerprinting. Carroll said St. George called her back about an hour later. It was her son. “My biggest heartache is that he went alone,” said Carroll, whose contact information was in her son’s cell phone. “If we had known, we would have been there … That’s the part of the whole story that hurts the most.” When police ruled the death accidental three months later, Carroll had doubts. Carroll, who awaits the coroner’s final report, hopes that by speaking publicly about her son and her concerns about how his death investigation was handled, that no other family will experience the anguish hers did. “It won’t help Darren now but it might help the next street person who’s found,” she said. Mary Ormsby is a reporter and feature writer based in Toronto. Reach her via email: mormsby@thestar.ca Kenyon Wallace is a Toronto-based investigative reporter. Follow him on Twitter: @KenyonWallace or reach him via email: kwallace@thestar.ca
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Canada Post offer ‘not good enough,’ says union ahead of midnight deadline (Fri, 16 Nov 2018)
VANCOUVER—The union representing Canada Post workers across the country is saying a time-limited offer made by the Crown corporation still falls short of their demands, as workers from five different provinces hit the picket lines Friday. Canada Post issued an offer Wednesday to the union representing its striking workers that included 2 per cent raises for four years, a $10-million health-and-safety fund and job-security measures for rural and suburban workers. The postal service set a deadline of Saturday at 11:59 p.m., at which point the offer will be off the table. Canada Post is particularly concerned about resolving the labour dispute on time for its holiday delivery rush. But the union says the offer isn’t good enough anyways and that the parties are still far apart. Read more: Canada Post sets three-day deadline for renewed offer to striking workers In a statement posted to the CUPW website, bargaining representatives Nancy Beauchamp and Sylvain Lapointe wrote that the job-security measures offered by Canada Post were superficial because under the measures offered rural carriers could end up being assigned to work that pays less. The union still wants Canada Post to commit to setting minimum hours per day and making hours worked up to eight hours per day eligible for pension benefits. “There has been some movement on a few issues, but we have a long way to go,” Beauchamp and Lapointe wrote in a statement. “Obviously this does not constitute a basis for settlement.” The union has been on a rotating strike schedule since Oct. 22, with more than 150 Canadian communities at some point hit by a strike. Canada Post said the biggest pain-point of the strike has been shutdowns at its major processing facilities, including the Pacific Processing Centre in Richmond, B.C., and the Gateway facility in Toronto. On Friday, 15 communities were on strike in parts of B.C., Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick. Alex McKeen is a Vancouver-based reporter covering wealth and work. Follow her on Twitter: @alex_mckeen
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Ford government moves ahead with plans to redevelop Ontario Place (Sat, 17 Nov 2018)
Ontario Place is fading into history as the Doug Ford government moves ahead with plans to turn the lakeside family playground into a “world-class attraction” that could include a casino. The Progressive Conservative government is moving to dissolve the board and corporation that oversees Ontario Place, transferring control of its 51 prime waterfront acres to the province. Finance Minister Vic Fedeli was asked Friday on CBC Radio about his government’s plans for the site which opened as a family-friendly theme park in 1971, but was shuttered by the Dalton McGuinty Liberal government in 2012 to save money. “I think we want to see that become a world-class attraction. We’re going to spend a considerable amount of time looking at what we can do there to make the best use of that jewel,” Fedeli said. When asked by Metro Morning host Matt Galloway if a casino is possible on the site south of Exhibition Place, Fedeli said: “Look, everything’s possible down there. “I’m not saying that (casino) is one that has been discussed, because, quite frankly, it’s not one that has come up in my file, but I think we’re going to look at every single possibility to make that a world-class centre, and I would say nothing is off the table. “We’ve got to start looking at everything. We can’t be afraid to look at a bold vision for the former Ontario Place.” The Star revealed in September that Ford has a personal interest and plans for Ontario Place, where his Liberal predecessor Kathleen Wynne in 2017 unveiled a $30-million, 7.5-acre waterfront park on the site of a former parking lot. For now it’s “business as usual” at the site, Ontario Place officials said Friday, with winter activities running from Nov. 23 to March 17, including an artificial skating rink on the West Island, community bonfires, a light festival and films in the Cinesphere. During his one term as a Toronto councillor — his late brother, Rob Ford, was mayor — Ford envisioned a vast redevelopment for the Port Lands to the east, including the world’s biggest Ferris wheel modelled on the London Eye in Britain and a 1.6-million-square-foot “megamall.” In 2013, Doug Ford told the Toronto Sun: “I don’t see why we can’t get a casino downtown,” before city councillors rejected Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp.’s casino push amid a strong public backlash. “How can people say ‘no’ to this?” Ford asked at the time. Downtown Toronto city councillors Joe Cressy and Mike Layton issued a statement Friday saying Fedeli’s comments raise “many concerns regarding the liveability of our city and the use of valued public lands. “Any potential changes to Ontario Place must be made in the public interest, and must include a rigorous public consultation process. Ontario Place is for all Ontarians,” they said, adding its future must be decided “in public, not in backrooms,” and the city must be involved in deciding the site’s future “And let us be clear: a casino at Ontario Place does not represent the responsible use of valued public lands. No good can come from it,” Layton and Cressy said. John Tory, who authored a report on Ontario Place before becoming Toronto mayor in 2014, has not yet been consulted by the Ford government on the site’s future, his spokesperson, Don Peat, said Friday. “He hasn’t been consulted up to this point, but the Mayor, as he said in September, wants the city and province to work together on the future of Ontario Place,” Peat said. Tory opposes a casino on the site. Ford’s move to dissolve Ontario Place, meanwhile, has blindsided people who do business there. Business operator Aaron Binder told the Star’s Francine Kopun that he was shocked by the decision. Binder, the chief experience officer of a tour company called Go Tours Canada, said that he just opened a third location at Ontario Place this summer, based on the Ontario Place board’s long-term commitment to develop the area into a tech hub and small business entertainment centre. “We are hoping that the provincial government will continue the operation of Ontario Place, so that my business doesn’t have to lay off the employees that we hired specifically to work at that location,” said Binder. Go Tours Canada, which has one location in the Distillery District and one in Barrie, offers guided walking tours and tours on Segways. David Rider is the Star’s City Hall bureau chief and a reporter covering Toronto politics. Follow him on Twitter: @dmrider
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