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TORONTO STAR

Court to rule Wednesday morning on whether to allow 25-ward Toronto election (mar., 18 sept. 2018)
A court decision on whether Toronto election preparations will continue with 47 wards or return to a smaller 25-ward scenario is set to be released Wednesday at 10 a.m. But the effects of that decision may be fleeting — less than 48 hours — if the province plows ahead with plans to introduce new legislation that would enforce a cut to the size of city council. Even then, the legal challenges won’t be over. A panel of three Court of Appeal judges — Associate Chief Justice Alexandra Hoy, Justice Robert Sharpe and Justice Gary Trotter — heard arguments Tuesday at Osgoode Hall on whether they should put an earlier court ruling on hold and order the city to continue preparing an election with 25 wards. Because of tight timelines leading up to the fast-approaching election on Oct. 22 and the expected legal challenges to the province’s new legislation, the Court of Appeal decision on the stay could permanently establish the ward structure for the election, making it a milestone in the ongoing council cut saga. The hearing Tuesday, which again pitted the province and city’s legal teams against one another, began with an unexpected statement from Premier Doug Ford’s government. It came from provincial lawyer Robin Basu, who said he was given instructions to say newly-introduced legislation, Bill 31, would not be brought to a vote at Queen’s Park if the province got its way in court. That was a troubling position for the province to take, city lawyer Diana Dimmer argued. “It’s almost in the nature of a threat — if everybody doesn’t back off the province will continue with this chaos,” she said, adding — “the chaos that they’re responsible for.” The hearing centred on whether the judges should grant a “stay” of a Sept. 10 decision from Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba that deemed the province’s previous legislation, Bill 5, was unconstitutional. Ford launched a double-pronged response after Bill 5 was struck down — an appeal in court and the introduction of the new Bill 31. Before the appeal is heard, the province argued a stay should be granted, which would essentially allow Bill 5 to continue to be in force — meaning the notwithstanding clause would not need to be used — and the law of the land to still be a 25-ward election for Toronto. Bill 31 is essentially a copy of Bill 5 with one important difference: Ford’s government took the unprecedented step of invoking the notwithstanding clause which would override many charter rights and insulate the new bill from certain legal challenges going forward. Donald Eady, whose firm Paliare Roland is representing several candidates and community groups that intervened in the earlier court case, argued the onus is on the province to prove the stay is necessary and said on Tuesday they failed to do that. “They didn’t provide any evidence . . . as to the sorts of things that a court would normally require to grant the stay,” Eady said outside the courthouse. “Really, I think what they did was they held the court hostage — either you grant the stay or we’re going to bring in Bill 31; if you grant the stay then we won’t. We’ll see if the court buys that.” The province argued Justice Belobaba erred in several ways in his decision and said not allowing the stay would cause “irreparable harm.” Basu argued there is “only one path” forward for the clerk to have any certainty about which election to hold and that is allowing the stay and putting Bill 31 on the back burner. In blistering remarks, Dimmer said the province has failed to make the case that it is acting in the public interest. “The province hasn’t come forward with satisfactory evidence to justify what they’ve done,” she said. “The residents of Toronto deserve better.” Howard Goldblatt, whose firm is representing a candidate, volunteer and community group, called the province’s last-minute submission on Tuesday an “affront.” “The public interest is in protecting the integrity of the process,” Goldblatt said. That, he said, should prevail over “one government’s right to seek to enforce legislation which has been deemed to be unconstitutional.” At the International Plowing Match west of Chatham, Ford was taking a wait-and-see approach to the decision on the stay request. “Let’s see what the courts decide,” he told reporters. “I don’t want to jump ahead of things. We thought we were going to win last time, and we didn’t.” The timelines in the ongoing saga are incredibly tight with the fast-approaching election. The province could ultimately lose the appeal it has launched of Belobaba’s decision, but Basu and his team are arguing that hearing should not be held until after the Oct. 22 election to allow time for lawyers to prepare. Bill 31, if it goes forward for a vote at Queen’s Park, is expected to pass Thursday following rare weekend and midnight sessions of the legislature. Last week, council instructed the city’s legal team to challenge Bill 31 in court if it becomes law. Winning the stay and not proceeding with the bill would allow Ford to avoid ongoing condemnation from protesters, legal experts and politicians of all stripes for his use of the notwithstanding clause. The city’s ward boundaries have been a contentious issue for several years. Council, which is currently made up of 44 councillors and a mayor, hired independent consultants to study ward boundaries in 2014. The problem then, as it is now, is that rapid growth in some parts of the city have created imbalanced ward populations and skewed the weight of votes. Council approved the recommended 47-ward structure in 2016. That decision survived earlier challenges at a provincial tribunal and later in divisional court. Ford introduced Bill 5 on July 27 after his party came to power in a June election without warning or consultation. By then, the election campaign had already been underway for three months. The city and others then successfully challenged that legislation in Superior Court. If the city and the other legal teams opposing the province lose the stay request Wednesday, they could appeal that decision to the Supreme Court of Canada. It’s not clear if the court would consider the case or how quickly it could be heard. With files from Rob Ferguson Jennifer Pagliaro is a Toronto-based reporter covering city politics. Follow her on Twitter: @jpags
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Is Toronto council inefficient? Maybe not compared to other levels of government (mar., 18 sept. 2018)
Soon after Toronto council passed a construction dust bylaw and dog tag pilot project, the provincial government considered 14 bills about zebra mussels. The zebra mussel bills account for about half the legislation considered in the first session under the Progressive Conservative majority government that began July 11. The NDP’s Gilles Bisson introduced the zebra mussel bills, naming almost every lake and waterway in Ontario as needing to be investigated to determine the extent of the problem, to try and stall Premier Doug Ford’s Bill 5 legislation in August that proposed cutting the number of Toronto wards to 25 from 47. Despite the apparent inefficiency of his own legislature, Ford has stuck to the assertion that cutting the size of Toronto’s city council mid-election is necessary to ensure the city can get more done faster. It’s a justification Ford used when invoking the notwithstanding clause to override a judge’s ruling that the unexpected ward cuts were unconstitutional, and when holding a midnight session Monday to ram through revised ward-cutting legislation, Bill 31. The Star took a look at what council was able to achieve in the past two years with 44 councillors, and how that compares to another major Canadian city, and the provincial and federal governments. Toronto council From Sept. 2016 to Aug. 2018 there were: 56 days of regular council meetings 3,565 items approved 64 items approved per meeting day on average These numbers from the City of Toronto don’t include decisions made by the four community councils on items such as fence bylaw exemptions and appointments to local boards and business improvement areas. Items city council considers range in their impact. One day councillors could be voting on relatively mundane items like adjusting street parking rules, permitting pedestrian crosswalks, or protecting heritage properties. Next, they could be debating items with broad implications, such as the future of the Gardiner Expressway or how best to expand transit. Read more: Province says Bill 31 vote won’t go forward if stay is granted as council cut court fight continues Philip Cross | Opinion: Is Toronto better off with 25 councillors? Yes Tories’ Toronto council bill clears hurdle after lively all-night debate Vancouver council From Sept. 2016 to Aug. 2018 there were: 32 days of regular council meetings 561 items approved 18 items approved per meeting day on average Vancouver, with a population of about 631,000, has 10 councillors. Each councillor represents on average roughly 63,000 residents, similar to Toronto’s current 44 councillors who represent more than 62,000 residents. In a 25-ward system, Toronto councillors would be responsible for more than 109,000 residents on average. The figures come from the City of Vancouver and Statistics Canada’s 2016 census. Queen’s Park legislature From Sept. 2016 under former Liberal premier Kathleen Wynne to Aug. 2018 under PC Premier Doug Ford there were: 193 days of sessions 306 bills carried 1.6 items carried per session day on average Not all of the 306 bills were passed into law, but were at the very least successfully introduced into the legislature for further debate. At Queen’s Park, bills have to be carried, or approved, through three readings, the second and third of which include debate. If the majority of MPPs vote in favour of the bill after the third reading and debate, it is presented to the lieutenant-governor for royal assent. Many of the 306 bills did receive royal assent, while others were only read once or twice, or deferred to a committee. These numbers come from to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, and do not include private members’ bills. With a population of 13.6 million, the province’s laws in theory impact more people than bylaws passed by the city with a population of 2.8 million. For example this summer, an MPP successfully introduced a bill to allow municipalities to ban the sale of handgun ammunition, and the legislature carried a bill through its second reading to end the cap and trade program. On the other hand, there are the zebra mussel bills, and another bill intended to require organizations to securely attach movable soccer nets to the ground. As a comparison, the Star also looked at the efficiency of the provincial government when the PCs last held a majority, under former premier Mike Harris. During his first term in office, from September 1995 to May 1999, there were: 342 days of sessions 377 bills carried 1.1 items carried per session day on average House of Commons Since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was elected in 2015 there were: 324 days worth of House sessions 64 bills passed by the House 0.2 items approved per session day on average Some of the bills passed by the House are currently at the Senate for consideration, or have been passed into law. Bills have to go through three readings before they go to the Senate for final approval. These numbers were provided by a House of Commons spokesperson. Trudeau’s Liberals operate at a slower pace than when the Conservatives were in power, with the current government passing half the number of bills in its first two years as the government under former prime minister Stephen Harper. These often sweeping laws, such as amending the Criminal Code to legalize marijuana, take longer to draft, debate and get approved than many provincial laws, or city bylaws. Trudeau’s government has also passed less complicated bills to do things like respect National Sickle Cell Awareness Day and to recognize Charlottetown, P.E.I., as the birthplace of confederation. Correction — Sept. 18, 2018: This article was edited from a previous version that mistakenly said Vancouver has 10 councillors representing 10 wards. In fact, the councillors are elected at large. Samantha Beattie is a city hall reporter based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @samantha_kb
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A look at what might happen next in the battle over the cuts to Toronto council (mer., 19 sept. 2018)
Last week, Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba ruled that the province’s Bill 5 — which cut Toronto’s wards to 25 from 47 — was unconstitutional, and that the Oct. 22 municipal election should proceed with the original 47-ward system. The province turned to Ontario’s highest court, the Court of Appeal, on Tuesday asking a panel of three judges for stay of Belobaba’s ruling. A stay, if granted, essentially means that Belobaba’s ruling would not take effect pending the outcome of the province’s appeal. The judges will return with their decision on the stay at 10 a.m. Wednesday. Read more: Province says Bill 31 vote won’t go forward if stay is granted as council cut court fight continues Will there be 25 or 47 wards? Toronto city clerk at the centre of electoral storm The cost of fighting Ford? Good question In the meantime, the government has also introduced in the legislature Bill 31, which would allow the election to take place with 25 wards, but which overrides the rights that Belobaba said were infringed in Bill 5. That bill has not yet been passed. City of Toronto clerk Ulli Watkiss has intervener status at the stay hearing, but takes no position on the outcome. What happens if the province is granted a stay of Belobaba’s ruling at the Court of Appeal? Bill 5, with its 25-ward structure, will stand, and the clerk will be expected to hold an election on Oct. 22 accordingly. The province’s lawyer said in court that if the stay is granted, it will not proceed with Bill 31. The question then becomes when will the province’s appeal of Bill 5, which could overturn Belobaba’s ruling, be heard? The province has argued it would be virtually impossible for an appeal to be heard before the Oct. 22 municipal election. It has said in its factum with the Court of Appeal that it would agree to an expedited appeal hearing, as early as the first week of November, before the new council is sworn in. From the province’s point of view, if the appeal is heard and allowed, the province argues that nothing further needs to be done, as the 25-ward election will have already happened. If the appeal is dismissed, the province argues the court should give the legislature time to respond to the ruling through legislation, but says the court should not order that a 47-ward election be held. The province argues that Belobaba’s order for a 47-ward election “was an inappropriate exercise of the remedial jurisdiction of the court.” It would also be open to the province to seek leave to appeal the Court of Appeal’s decision to the Supreme Court of Canada. From the city’s point of view, if the Court of Appeal grants the province’s request for a stay, the city could ask the Supreme Court for permission to hear its argument that the stay be lifted before the election. Alternatively, if the stay remains in place through the Oct. 22 election and the province wins its appeal, the city could ask the Supreme Court to hear its argument to overturn it. Current councillors’ term of office ends at midnight Nov. 30. If there has been no election by that point, the province can step in and appoint councillors, according to the city’s lawyer. What happens if the province is not granted a stay of Belobaba’s ruling? The province has said it will move to pass Bill 31, which creates a 25-ward municipal election. The clerk has said she will continue to prepare for both 25- and 47-ward elections until Bill 31 passes. This is because Belobaba’s ruling, ordering a 47-ward election, will remain in effect until Bill 31 passes. Should Bill 31 pass, that will establish a 25-ward election. But it remains unclear whether that will take place on the Oct. 22 municipal election date, as it could be open to challengers including the city to ask a court for an injunction suspending Bill 31, as the province acknowledges in its factum with the Court of Appeal. The city has said it will mount a legal challenge to Bill 31 should it pass. Jacques Gallant is a Toronto-based reporter covering legal affairs. Follow him on Twitter: @JacquesGallant Samantha Beattie is a city hall reporter based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @samantha_kb
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We went undercover as ticket scalpers — and Ticketmaster offered to help us do business (mer., 19 sept. 2018)
LAS VEGAS—Inside a Caesars Palace conference room filled with some of the world’s most successful ticket scalpers, a row of promotional booths pitch software programs that help harvest thousands of sport and concert seats to be resold online at hefty markups. Clustered around demonstration tables at the three-day Ticket Summit 2018 convention in July, discussion among scalpers inevitably centred on Ticketmaster, the world’s largest ticket supplier that has a near monopoly on major event seating in North America and the United Kingdom. As gatekeeper to the entertainment industry’s most coveted events, Ticketmaster implements strict purchasing limits designed to prevent scalpers from using bots to buy tickets on a mass scale. In the past, company officials have publicly disparaged the resale ticket market, calling scalpers “pirates” and a threat to fans — even urging governments to criminalize the activity. But in one corner of the Las Vegas convention floor sat a conspicuous Ticketmaster booth welcoming scalpers with a solemn reassurance: Ticketmaster wants to share in the profits of the resale market by facilitating the mass scalping of its tickets — in direct violation of its own terms of use. Reporters from the Star and CBC, posing as small-time scalpers from Canada, listened as sales staff pitched a proprietary Ticketmaster software program designed to help bulk buyers resell thousands of tickets. “I have brokers that have literally a couple of hundred Ticketmaster accounts,” said a sales executive with Ticketmaster Resale speaking to the undercover reporters. The web-based tool — called Trade Desk — allows scalpers to seamlessly sync their Ticketmaster accounts (where they buy their tickets) with their online resale operation, quickly posting each seat to ticket reselling websites including StubHub, Vivid Seats and ticketmaster.com. It also gives Ticketmaster a new revenue source: a second commission on every “verified resale” ticket sold on Ticketmaster.com (on top of the commission it collects on the original purchase of each ticket). Ticketmaster’s terms of use prohibit customers from buying “a number of tickets for an event that exceeds the stated limit for that event.” That limit, which is posted when tickets go on sale, is typically six or eight seats per buyer. “If we identify breaches of these limits … we reserve the right to cancel any such orders,” read Ticketmaster’s general terms and conditions. “Use of automated means to purchase tickets is strictly prohibited.” Read more: We tracked every ticket for Saturday's Bruno Mars concert to uncover how fans are being gouged Montreal scalper scooping up tickets by the hundreds at lightning speed — then selling them back to you at huge profits Jays getting a cut from online scalpers Price cap on ticket resales delayed by new Premier Doug Ford But ticket resellers who break those rules have no reason to be concerned, the sales executive reassured. A blind eye will be turned. “We don’t spend any time looking at your Ticketmaster.com account. I don’t care what you buy. It doesn’t matter to me,” said the Trade Desk sales executive. “There’s total separation between Ticketmaster and our division. It’s church and state … We don’t monitor that at all.” Trade Desk staff are aware their users harvest tickets using multiple Ticketmaster accounts, the sales executive said. “They have to because if you want to get a good show and the ticket limit is six or eight (seats), you’re not going to make a living on eight tickets.” Star and CBC reporters asked what happens if staff at Ticketmaster headquarters detect unusual activity in the purchasing patterns of a Trade Desk user, such as the use of bots. Will they ask for information from the resale division? “No,” he said. “We don’t share reports. We don’t share names. We don’t share account information with the primary side, period.” Reporters from the Star and CBC attended the ticket scalpers conference in Vegas undercover because media were not allowed into sessions where the collaboration between Ticketmaster and scalpers was to be discussed. For months, Ticketmaster has declined interview requests to address these issues. After attending the conference, the Star and the CBC gave Ticketmaster an opportunity to review what their sales people had said and comment. They declined. In response to a detailed list of questions, the company provided a statement. “As long as there is an imbalance between supply and demand in live event tickets, there will inevitably be a secondary market,” wrote Catherine Martin, a spokesperson for Ticketmaster. “As the world’s leading ticketing platform … we believe it is our job to offer a marketplace that provides a safe and fair place for fans to shop, buy and sell tickets in both the primary and secondary markets.” Ticketmaster has previously claimed to have stopped five billion purchase attempts by bots in 2016 alone. “In addition to our work fighting the use of automated bots, we have also taken the most restrictive stance on speculative ticketing, not allowing any seller, professional or otherwise, to post tickets we have not validated to our TM+ pages,” Martin added. Richard Powers, associate professor at University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, said publicly criticizing scalpers while quietly helping them is “misleading” and “unethical.” “Helping to create a secondary market where purchasers are duped into paying higher prices, and securing themselves a second commission, should be illegal,” he said. The monopoly Ticketmaster enjoys “allows them to do pretty much whatever they like and, until a government has the will to end this practice by appropriating resources and establishing significant penalties for transgressions, the practice is likely to continue,” Powers said. Reg Walker, a leading British expert on ticket scalping, questioned why Ticketmaster would make a program for scalpers. “Why on earth would you design software to list tickets in bulk on your secondary site for people who could be reasonably suspected of having attacked your primary site?” said Walker, who runs a security consulting firm in London. “They are facilitating or turning a blind eye to (scalpers) with multiple accounts harvesting tickets in bulk and reselling them, despite the fact they pontificate they do everything to stop this. That needs investigating by the authorities.” Allegations about Ticketmaster courting scalpers with preferential treatment recently emerged in California court filings as part of a 2017 lawsuit the company filed against three ticket brokering companies accusing them of using computer bots to “improperly procure tickets for the purpose of reselling them at a substantial profit.” In response, Prestige Entertainment West Inc. alleges that Ticketmaster uses its website to “deceive consumers and line its pockets from double-dip commissions.” “The vast majority of ticket reseller activity is patently obvious to (Ticketmaster), and yet (Ticketmaster) does nothing to prevent this activity, failing to block or terminate accounts … where account-holders are purchasing tickets in quantities that are obviously not for personal use,” reads the responding filing. “(Ticketmaster’s) willing embrace of ticket reseller activity on its website is a core part of its business model as is the enhanced profits that (Ticketmaster) obtained from double-dip commissions.” None of the allegations have been proven in court. Walker reviewed a transcript of the conversation with a Trade Desk salesperson and concluded: “I think it strips away the PR and the hype and the spin that Ticketmaster acts to protect consumers and give them a fair crack at getting the ticket at face value … and basically exposes what could be extremely dubious activity that disadvantages genuine music and sports fans.” During a video conference this spring, another Trade Desk sales executive, speaking with Star and CBC reporters who posed as brokers, explained how Ticketmaster does not want to catch scalpers using multiple accounts. “We’ve spent millions of dollars on this tool, so the last thing we’d want to do is, you know, get brokers caught up to where they can’t sell inventory with us,” he said. “We’re not trying to build a better mousetrap. I think the last thing we want to do is impair your ability to sell inventory. That’s our whole goal here on the resale side of the business.” Using Trade Desk brings an immediate 3 per cent discount on Ticketmaster’s usual 7 per cent selling fee on a resale ticket. And the more users scalp, the greater the incentives become. Once they hit $500,000 in sales, a percentage point is shaved off their fees. At $1 million, another percentage point falls off. “Scalpers get preferential treatment over consumers,” says U.K. expert Walker. “An average consumer would not need this software to list the ticket they could no longer use … This is simply done to assist touts (scalpers) in processing more and more tickets faster and faster and faster.” In a session closed to media, Ticketmaster Resale senior director Casey Klein stood in front of conference room packed with hundreds of scalpers. An image of a sharply ascending graph illustrating broker registrations over the past five years loomed behind him. It was headlined, “We Appreciate Your Partnership: More Brokers are Listing with Ticketmaster than Ever Before.” “(We want to) make sure brokers know that they have the ability to sell on Ticketmaster Resale but also that we’re committing significant resources to help you do that,” he said. “I’m confident there is no company more capable of helping you succeed in a mobile world than Ticketmaster Resale.” That language contradicts what company officials have said about the resale industry over the past decade. In a 2007 written submission to a U.K. House of Commons committee examining ticket scalping, Ticketmaster U.K. argued that the “unauthorized resale of tickets for profit does not promote fair and equitable distribution of tickets, and drains tickets away from the primary market, thus restricting the opportunity for genuine fans to purchase them legitimately.” The company urged British lawmakers to make the marked-up resale of event tickets a criminal offence. That didn’t happen. Early the next year, in an apparent effort to join the resellers if it couldn’t beat them, Ticketmaster purchased two online resale websites, TicketsNow (Canada/U.S.) and Get Me In! (U.K.). That move was the subject of regret by 2009, according to company testimony before U.S. lawmakers. Irving Azoff, former CEO of Ticketmaster, told a U.S. federal hearing he never liked the idea of Ticketmaster being in the secondary ticket sales market. “I never would have bought it,” he told the hearing. “The whole secondary area is a mess. In a perfect world, I personally would hope that there would be a more transparent, accurate primary that would do away with the need for any secondary whatsoever.” During discussions of a merger between Ticketmaster and Live Nation, Azoff told the committee: “I believe that scalping and resales should be illegal … I don’t believe there should be a secondary market at all.” The Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger was allowed in 2010 based on an order that the new company enter into a consent decree to avoid anticompetitive conduct. Four years later, in 2014, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission settled charges with Ticketmaster for using “deceptive bait-and-switch tactics to sell event tickets to consumers.” The federal agency alleged Ticketmaster steered unwitting ticket buyers to its TicketsNow secondary site where seats were sold at inflated prices of up to four times their face value. Ticketmaster agreed to refund consumers who bought tickets to 14 Bruce Springsteen concerts in 2009 through TicketsNow, and to be clear about the costs and risks of buying through its reseller sites. In April, the New York Times reported Ticketmaster’s parent company, Live Nation, is under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department for possible antitrust violations. Last month, Ticketmaster U.K. shut down the Get Me In! and Seatwave resale sites even as it recruits scalpers in North America for its burgeoning resale division. “Our number one priority is to get tickets into the hands of fans so that they can go to the events they love,” Andrew Parsons, Ticketmaster U.K. managing director, said in a statement. “We know that fans are tired of seeing tickets being snapped up just to find them being resold for a profit on secondary websites, so we have taken action. Closing down our secondary sites and creating a ticket exchange on Ticketmaster has always been our long-term plan.” U.K. ticket expert Walker has four words to account for Ticketmaster’s contradictory business approaches on either side of the Atlantic when it comes to ticket reselling: “hypocrisy at its finest.” Robert Cribb is a Toronto-based investigative reporter. Follow him on Twitter: @thecribby Marco Chown Oved is a Toronto-based investigative reporter. Follow him on Twitter: @marcooved
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Susan Delacourt: Ottawa worried Ford’s Washington visit could impact NAFTA talks (mar., 18 sept. 2018)
Ontario Premier Doug Ford reportedly let Ottawa know late last week that he was headed to Washington on Wednesday to pay a call on the Canada-U.S. trade talks. Ford also assured reporters on Tuesday that he continues to stand “shoulder to shoulder” with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government in the negotiations over NAFTA’s fate. But privately, there is some nervousness within the Trudeau government about what Ford hopes to accomplish with his flying visit into the U.S. capital — especially as Donald Trump and prominent Republicans are ramping up the rhetoric this week against Canada. Any suggestion that Canada doesn’t speak with one voice, or that it’s anxious for a deal at any cost could work against this country at the negotiating table, one federal source close to the talks said on Tuesday. “We’re only close to a deal because the Americans think we won’t take a bad one,” the source said. “And they think that we can take that stance because the country is united behind us.” Read more: U.S. lawmaker ramps up NAFTA pressure as Freeland heads to Washington for more talks Ford heads to Washington to talk trade amid NAFTA negotiations Susan Delacourt | Opinion: With the White House in turmoil, Canada’s NAFTA team studiously avoids the daily drama That’s the big question, then, as Ford heads to the U.S. capital on Wednesday — is there enough goodwill between the Trudeau Liberals and the Ford Conservatives to pull off this diplomatic dance in D.C.? So far, Liberals and Conservatives generally have been making a great show of patriotic solidarity when they’re talking trade — at least when it’s taking place in the United States. Prominent former cabinet ministers such as James Moore and Rona Ambrose are on the advisory committee and former prime minister Brian Mulroney has been talking regularly to the Trudeau team. But back here in Canada, federal Conservatives seem increasingly eager to take shots at how the Trudeau government has handled the NAFTA negotiations, lumping the lack of a new deal into what they now call a “summer of failure” by the Trudeau Liberals. Ford, meanwhile, has not been shy about mixing it up with Trudeau, almost from the moment he took office — willing to take on everything from the carbon tax to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. One might be tempted to conclude that the premier is taking that “nation” part of his “fordnation” Twitter handle literally; that he sees his real rivals as the Liberals in Ottawa. Trade seems to be the exception for now — Ford has even managed, like the other premiers, to keep quiet about any updates he’s getting from the federal government. But people in Trudeau’s office took note last week when the Star’s Queen’s Park bureau chief, Robert Benzie, reported that Ford was making his controversial move on the Charter of Rights to contrast himself with Trudeau. Sources told Benzie that Ford’s people were keen for people to contrast the premier’s “bold leadership” against Trudeau’s leadership style — specifically on how they handle negative court rulings. While the prime minister’s pipeline plans have been thwarted (at least temporarily) by a court ruling halting construction on the Trans Mountain pipeline, Ford has pulled out all the stops, legally, to go through with his plans to cut Toronto city council. Trudeau, meanwhile, clearly sees Ford as the Ghost of Elections Future. While he didn’t mention Ford by name in his town-hall interview with Maclean’s Magazine’s Paul Wells on Monday night, the prime minister took some shots against Ford’s brand of play-to-the-base politics (which is also Trump’s brand.) “When you’re not too worried about constitutional niceties and courts and what have you, you can take a mandate and make those grand gestures and satisfy your base in a very loud way,” Trudeau said. These are glimpses into what’s emerging as a gaping, relational abyss between the Ford and Trudeau governments; one that’s only going to get deeper as the 2019 election looms. It’s worth noting that many of the people around Ford’s new government trace roots back to Stephen Harper’s decade in power, and that Trudeau’s Ottawa has many veterans of Kathleen Wynne’s former provincial government. Very recent grudges and defeats are all part of the current mix of Ontario-Ottawa relations. Throwing that dynamic into the trade-negotiation pressure cooker in Washington on Wednesday could make things unpredictable — or more unpredictable than they already are. The Ford and Trudeau governments will say they are solely focused on the trade talks in the U.S. capital on Wednesday, but they’re also keeping one eye on each other. Susan Delacourt is the Star’s Ottawa bureau chief and a columnist covering national politics. Reach her via email: sdelacourt@thestar.ca or follow her on Twitter: @susandelacourt
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Man dead after shooting in Scarborough (mer., 19 sept. 2018)
A man is dead after a shooting in Scarborough Tuesday evening, paramedics say. Toronto police responded to a call about reports of gunshots in the area of Brimley Rd. and Sheppard Ave. E. around 9:50 p.m. A male victim, believed to be in his mid-20s, was found without vital signs and later pronounced dead on the scene, according to paramedics. No suspect information has been released at this time. Just after midnight Wednesday, police received a call about possible gunshots heard in the area of Markham Rd. and Eglinton Ave. E. in Scarborough. Police are still searching the area for evidence of a shooting. TOP STORIES. IN YOUR INBOX: For the day’s top news from the Star’s award-winning journalists, sign up for our daily headlines newsletter. With files from Bianca Bharti
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Realtors allowed to post sold prices — finally (mar., 18 sept. 2018)
The Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) has turned on the sold data tap, officially allowing brokers to post the selling prices of homes on their password protected websites, it told its members on Tuesday. That means consumers should soon be able to access the selling prices of homes directly through a broker’s website, rather than calling a real estate agent. The move, announced by the real estate board to its 50,000 members on Friday, came following a seven-year legal battle that ended more than three weeks ago. On Aug. 23, the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed TREB’s application to appeal earlier rulings that said it must allow sold data and other information to be published online as long as consumers used a password to get to the data. TREB had originally announced it could take until Oct. 22 to establish a new data feed with sold, withdrawn, expired, suspended or terminated listings — information that was part of its dispute with Canada’s Competition Commissioner. So the announcement that the delay would end Tuesday was “amazing” said John Pasalis, a Toronto broker who helped the Competition Bureau argue that by restricting the information, the real estate board was stifling innovation and competition. Read more: Toronto Real Estate Board to make GTA home sales data available Real estate companies threatened by TREB after posting GTA sales data TREB looking to ‘protect’ home sales data, despite realtors already posting it “There’s just been so many delays. Even TREB’s lawyers in recent media (reports) are making it sound like they’re trying to find ways to protect sellers’ privacy,” he said. “They might still try to introduce some measures to restrict the sales data but it’s just mindblowing that it’s actually happening right now.” Since the Supreme Court dismissal Aug. 23, realtors have expressed frustration about the delay and the confusion surrounding the sold prices. Some brokerages posted the data on their websites only to receive cease-and-desist letters from the board, prompting them to pull it down. Desmond Brown of Royal Lepage sent an email to his clients last week telling them precisely how to search solds on his website, which is hosted by a company called Fourwalls Digital, only to receive a letter from Fourwalls saying that it had to turn off the solds until TREB turned on the official feed. “For some reason (TREB has) this prehistoric notion that a realtor’s value ties into information and the more they hold back the information the more value a realtor will have,” he said. On Monday, Interim Commissioner of Competition Matthew Boswell released a statement saying he would be watching that the real estate board was complying with a June 2016 Competition Tribunal order addressing TREB’s “anti-competitive conduct.” But some real estate executives downplayed the significance of providing public access to sold information. “With the speed the market changes and the great variances you can have with two properties even side by side, the data is interesting but it’s not that useful on its own,” said Phil Soper, CEO of Royal LePage. “The real test will be, do (real estate brokerages) invest the time and effort to train their agents and build the systems to make it useful for agents to explain to consumers or for consumers to use themselves,” said Soper. Sotheby’s International Realty Canada CEO Brad Henderson said his company doesn’t plan to post the sold prices “for the time being.” “Our clients aren’t looking for that data. They’re looking for a more bespoke approach,” he said. Henderson said he thinks some of the real estate board’s statements about protecting consumer privacy are legitimate. “Why should I know the value of your home any more than your income tax or stock portfolio?” he said.
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Rosie DiManno: At a plowing match in Ford country, the premier is a rock star (mer., 19 sept. 2018)
THE STICKS—Ahhh — big breath — that fresh country scent. Manure. Honest fertilizing s---. Not to be mistaken for the malodorous stuff that’s been slung around the Ontario legislature in recent days. The city girl fills her lungs. Probably the only person among thousands present who has arrived at the International Plowing Match and Rural Expo by cab. Here, on Tuesday, as a fly on the wall. Or a fly on the dung. Read more: Doug Ford dismisses protesters at International Plowing Match Opinion | Susan Delacourt: Ottawa worried Ford’s Washington visit could impact NAFTA talks Former attorney general urges Mulroney to reconsider using the notwithstanding clause “You can catch the shuttle,” suggests a volunteer. Wow, a shuttle? How very accommodating on a scorching September morning. Except it’s a wagon, hauled by a tractor, bouncing over the rutted path. Makes sense, the city girl figures. This is tractor country after all. At many nearby farms, tractors are parked in front yards as decorative displays, along with all the harvest adornments, whimsical scarecrows and such. The city girl finds herself humming “Farmer’s Song” by Murray McLauchlan: “Straw hats and old dirty hankies/Mopin’ a face like a shoe/Thanks for the meal here’s a song that is real/From the kid from the city to you.” Dismounting into the middle of a parade, right behind the NDP wagon, where Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath and her lefty colleagues, in bright orange windbreakers, wave at the crowd and toss apples. Trailed by vintage Cougar, atop which perch the Queen of the Furrow and the Chatham-Kent Queen of the Furrow. Horwath, the city girl is told, is reigning champion of the pol plowing contest. She’s more than just a chronically furrowed brow. Greeted with homespun warmth at the main stage tent where a band of geezers has been entertaining the audience, stomping country tunes. (The city girl reminds herself — still, younger than the Rolling Stones.) But Horwath and the Greens — and, somewhere, the rump that is all that’s left of the Liberals — are not the main draw at the vast farm, owned by Jean-Marie (“King of Brussels Sprouts” and Lucille Laprise, hosts this year of the 101st Expo, purportedly the largest event of its kind in the world, and never missed by provincial politicians. Indeed, blocked out on the schedule, forcing an overnight session at Queen’s Park on the weekend for emergency reading of Bill 31, because we can’t have MPPs sending their regrets to farmers. Premier Doug Ford is the rock star. Tramping around the grounds of Tented City — not to be confused with Tent City in Toronto, the now-and-then homeless bivouacs that sprout up downtown — in jeans and event polo shirt, posing for endless selfies with well-wishers, shaking hands and patting babies. We forget, those of us who live in the centre of the universe, most especially the “downtown elites” Ford reviles, that the premier isn’t so dimly viewed elsewhere in the province. Ford is having a very good day. “He looks better in person,” one fellow tells a reporter. Very much a Ford-crowd: White, elderly, conservative, a rural microcosm of Ford Nation. Which is kind of weird because Etobicoke-raised Ford has zero in common with these good folks, the businessman-turned-politician-turned-premier although he slangs a good game. The Ontario that’s in Ford’s wheelhouse. No record number of murders here, in a place called Pain Court where even the crabgrass grows in tidy rows. No gangbangers. No support for gun bans. No raucous protesters either, condemning the government running roughshod over democratic rights by threatening to invoke that “notwithstanding” stuff, although presumably Ford is being kept apprised of matters unfolding at the Court of Appeal, where the government is at this very moment requesting a stay of last week’s lower court ruling which (fleetingly) threw a wrench into Ford’s plan to slash Toronto city council. Just a couple of guys unfurling a banner that reads: DON’T PLOW OUR CHARTER. Heads pivoted when a solitary heckler shouted something or other. Ford plowed right through it. “They hopped in their car from downtown, the NDP, and drove up here,” Ford declared accusingly. Which seems an odd dis for someone who’s so devoted to automobiles over cycles. Not a single pedal-head in sight. “If you want to see the lifeblood of Ontario’s economy, all you have to do is drive through Southwestern Ontario,” Ford told his audience from the stage “You can see it for yourself, the farmers, the factory towns, small-business workers, local workers working hard to pay the bills, to create jobs and to make ends meet. These are the industries, the farmers and the workers who put Ontario on the map. “I love farmers.” Says the man with the strangely big head who’s likely never turned a clump of sod in his life. Really, who doesn’t love farmers, subsidized or not? They put food on our table. This area alone — No. 1 producer of carrots, seed corn, tomatoes, pumpkins and of course brussels sprouts — kicks $3 billion into the provincial economy. And the porta-potties are gender-neutral. The pols then descended on the plowing fields to take their turns in the furrow match, heartily cheered for their competitive style by generously non-partisan spectators. While the city girl pours over the seven-pages of rules for mules, horses and humans, trying to make sense of “splits” and “crowns” and “sighting stakes” and “leave stones plowed up where they are.” It’s not all about the furrowing, of course. There’s a rodeo, auctions, quilt exhibits, a bewildering display of farming implements, hand-tooled leather kitsch and, this year, several attempts at setting Guinness World Records: Yesterday, Largest Egg and Spoon Race. Over the next four days, largest sugar cube structure, most people bobbing for apples at one time, most people eating corn on the cob at one time, longest quilt binding and world’s largest Caesar, which the city girl is sorry to miss. But she’s particularly charmed by the dancing tractors, manipulated by men in women’s dresses. In Toronto, we call that cross-dressing. The city girl sits on a bale of hay, sticks a straw in her mouth — wiping it down first with a tissue — to ponder events thoughtfully. Mostly, she would like to come back here under cover of darkness and mow crop circles, throw all those rigid rows for a loop. City girl is an alien.
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Meet the B.C. man who has been banned from the U.S. for 40 years because of a cannabis fine (mer., 19 sept. 2018)
VANCOUVER—In 1990, newlywed Leonard Smith approached the American embassy in Bogotá, Colombia, to obtain a waiver for entry to the United States. Having spent the better part of a decade and a half studying and working in Colombia, Smith, who was born in Alberta, had fallen in love with a Colombian woman. He thought the two of them might honeymoon at Walt Disney World in Florida, where his mother lived. It would be his wife’s first trip to the U.S. Thereafter, he thought, they could travel back to Canada to visit the rest of his family. But Smith had been banned from entry to the U.S. in 1978 after being caught with a single joint by an RCMP officer. After being fingerprinted, filling out stacks of forms and undergoing a series of interviews that diagrammed what seemed like his entire life, Smith was told by the embassy agent to sit tight while they waited to hear back from the State Department. “Three years later,” Smith says, “she gave me a call out of the blue.” If you can provide a letter from the RCMP that proves your drug possession charge was because of a single joint, and that the only punishment you received was a $50 fine, they told him, we can provide you with a temporary waiver to enter the United States. “Really?” Smith remembers thinking. “You got everything else. Now you want a letter from the RCMP?” By then, he says, his honeymoon was a three-year-old memory. Now 65 and a computer support analyst living in South Surrey, B.C., Smith recalls that moment as a distinct low in a four-decade period of inadmissibility to the United States, a country where friends and family live and to which he may never return again. “It was really, really frustrating,” he recalls. As reports continue to emerge of businesspeople being banned from the U.S. for even tangential association with the cannabis industry, and in light of a recent suggestion from an American lawyer that, come legalization, all kinds of government employees could meet the same fate, Smith’s travails may reflect a reality that many Canadians are unknowingly headed toward. Smith’s drug possession charge stems from a trip he was taking in 1978 by train from Oakville, Ont., to Calgary in between terms at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, where he was studying law. Smith says that, in the late 1960s, he had smoked an occasional joint on weekends with friends but went no further in experimenting with drugs. “I smoked grass while I was in high school,” he says. “Who didn’t? There was nobody in class who didn’t try it.” By the time of his cross-country trip, he says, he’d long given up using the drug. But he had a single joint in his suitcase: a gift for the longtime friend he was on his way to visit. On that train ride, he says, people were piling in and out of the washroom as if it had a revolving door, regularly exiting in a huge cloud of pot smoke. So when a young man sat down next to him, commented on the number of people getting high and asked, “You got any stuff?” Smith told him, I just have one joint, and it’s a gift for a friend. That young man turned out to be an undercover RCMP officer, who hauled him off the train in Wetaskiwin, Alta., and searched his luggage. When he discovered Smith had been telling the truth, the officer was shocked. “He said, ‘If I’d have known, I would have spent my energy getting somebody else,’” Smith recalls. Smith was let off with a $50 fine and no jail time. But at the end of that summer, on a road trip to Miami on his way back to Colombia, he made the error that would change everything: he told the truth at the border. “I thought, well, (law-enforcement officers) have a theoretical reputation for appreciating the truth, so I said, ‘I have a $50 fine for being in possession of one marijuana cigarette.’” He was told he was an undesirable alien, that he was no longer welcome in the U.S. and that they never wanted to see him at a border crossing again. Smith, at the time, was 25 years old. For many years, Smith says, he was embarrassed of his past. He’d made a simple, silly mistake and, because of it, he had never been able to take his wife cross-border to visit the nearby and faraway places they’d heard about from friends: Seattle and its lights, the windblown coast of Oregon, the peanut farms of Georgia. When his mother remarried in her adopted hometown of Miami, he couldn’t obtain a waiver to attend. Perhaps most exasperating, Smith says, is that he was granted a pardon by the Canadian government more than 20 years ago. He no longer has a criminal record in Canada, nor does the RCMP maintain any file on him. But the border agents don’t care, he says: “They said, ‘That’s just an internal Canadian process. It has nothing to do with us. As far as we’re concerned, you’re still a criminal.” Smith’s recollection aligns with statements submitted to the Star from spokespeople for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s office. “U.S. Customs and Border Protection enforces the laws of the United States,” one statement reads. “Although medical and recreational marijuana may be legal in some U.S. States and becoming legal in Canada, the sale, possession, production and distribution of marijuana remain illegal under U.S. federal law.” So, regardless of what the status of cannabis may be in Canada, it’s the status of drugs under U.S. federal law that determines whether travellers will be allowed to pass through ports of entry. On the off chance that the rhetoric might not match the reality, Smith says, he tried several years ago to cross into the U.S. from his then-home in Tsawwassen, B.C., to visit a friend in Point Roberts. He’d caught a ride with his friend’s daughter, an American citizen. Smith was hauled in for questioning, and after roughly two hours was told he would be jailed and have his car expropriated the next time he tried to cross the border. And while his friend’s daughter had long been sent on her way, Smith was turned out on the Canadian side to walk home. After four decades of inadmissibility, Smith says he has come to a place of acceptance. What he’s not OK with, he says, is messaging from federal politicians like Justin Trudeau, who recently commented that he would never lie to a U.S. border officer — an interview Smith says he listened to in astonishment. “Of course,” he says, “the high-level politicians go back and forth (across the border). It doesn’t matter what they’ve taken or done in their past. It’s the common person who has trouble.” Actions should have consequences, he adds. But Canadians deserve better leadership when it comes to issues that could affect their lives permanently, he says, and they should know their rights. As retirement slowly comes into view, Smith says he and his wife have begun to look further abroad — to places such as France, Italy and Ireland — as they plan their travels. “I’ve come to terms with it,” he says. “I can’t get in that door? Fine. I’ll open another door … The world is a really big place.” Perrin Grauer is a Vancouver-based reporter covering Canada’s cannabis economy. Follow him on Twitter: @perringrauer
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‘People just suck sometimes:’ Uproar over a big red sunflower being ripped from Nova Scotia field (mar., 18 sept. 2018)
HALIFAX—Instagram and Facebook are full of fun photos featuring a sea of sunflowers from Nova Scotia’s Dakeyne Farm, but between Sunday and Monday night one special flower was plucked and the internet is reacting. Big Red was an unusual deep red sunflower who stood out in a sea of yellow at the Mount Denson farm field. The sunflower maze where she once swayed is now hosting an “online memorial service” encouraging visitors to post their photos of the fallen flower. The most liked or loved photo wins two free passes to the farm’s zombie chicken maze. “We are sad to announce. an unkind soul selfishly picked the one beautiful red flower in the back for themselves,” notes a Dakeyne Farm Facebook post. “We are so sorry that human didn’t love you enough to leave you to live and become seed for next year or care enough to leave you be so that others could love your beauty too.” While not on par with the disastrous crowd of more than 7,000 selfie seekers who overran a sunflower farm near Hamilton, Ont. forcing it to shut down, visitors to the Nova Scotia farm reacted with disappointment. “Unreal. People just suck sometimes,” Merle Rose wrote on the farm’s Facebook page. “Not only sad but stupid. A smart person would have asked if they could have or buy a seed from this flower which would allow them to grow their own,” Appleby Davidson said. “What?!!!! This is so sad! It’s awful that one person ruins it for everyone,” wrote Josette McCauley. Jen Wilson and her husband own Dakeyne Farm and started the sunflower maze seven years ago. Each year, she and her children pick out a few different seed varieties to throw out in the field while planting the bright yellow sunflowers that draw huge crowds every fall. The only unusual sunflower to pop up this year was Big Red, and Wilson said she left an impression. “It is nice to see that I wasn’t the only one who thought that she was a bit special … She was different. There are so many people in this world and we all feel a little different sometimes,” Wilson said. “Big Red was out there reminding you that you know, you’re not the only one. Other people are different too, right? It made you smile to see her proudly standing up out there. It was beautiful to see her red colour against that yellow back.” Wilson first noticed Big Red was missing while on her nightly stroll around the maze Monday night looking for things visitors may have dropped or lost. “It was sunset so I was hoping for a really nice photo and so I get there and she was gone,” Wilson said. “Where she was living, it was all trampled. So somebody went in there and they broke her head off and walked away with it.” Wilson said if given the opportunity to speak to the person who took Big Red, she’d ask “why they felt they deserved that flower over everybody else who’s come to visit us.” She would also invite them to return next year to help her family plant the maze. “I would want them to see how we put our love into our field for our kids and for our family so that they understand,” she said. “I think whoever took it was probably someone who wasn’t taught that you shouldn’t take things that aren’t yours.” Wilson’s youngest daughter, who’s 8, asked her mother if it was possible to have a photo contest in honour of Big Red. Using it as an online memorial and an opportunity to give free tickets to the farm’s upcoming Halloween-themed maze seemed fitting. “We love turning lemons into lemonade,” she said. “People need a little bit of education as to why you shouldn’t take the special one and this is a good way to do it. We’re just trying to be a little spot of positivity.” Once the sunflowers are done, the field will become a zombie chicken maze that will welcome visitors every weekend throughout the month of October. “We’re going to let guinea hens go in the field and as you’re walking through the (sunflower) seed heads, they’re going to pop out and squawk out at you so it’ll be scary but it won’t be too scary,” Wilson explained. Yvette d’Entremont is a Halifax-based reporter focusing on health and environment. Follow her on Twitter: @ydentremont
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Cancellation of Ontario’s basic income project sparks global outrage (mar., 18 sept. 2018)
The premature end of Ontario’s basic income pilot project is a serious breach of Canadian and international research ethics that harms Canada’s reputation on the world stage, say academics and activists from across the globe. “Standards for the ethical conduct of social experiments involving humans have evolved significantly in recent years,” says University of Manitoba health economist Evelyn Forget in an open letter to Premier Doug Ford and Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod. “Not only is the cancellation inconsistent with international best practices, but it violates your own Canadian policy for the ethical conduct of experiments involving humans,” warns Forget in the letter signed by more than 20 researchers and stakeholders participating in basic income initiatives around the world. “Canada’s continuing leadership on balanced and humane economic policy has always mattered deeply to the international community,” the letter continues. “We ask you to reconsider. The world is watching.” MacLeod pulled the plug on the three-year $150 million pilot project July 31, despite campaign assurances it would continue if Ford was elected. The initiative provided low-income individuals in three Ontario communities up to $17,000 a year and $24,000 for couples with no strings attached. The experiment’s demise — three months after enrolment was complete and before the first annual followup survey could be conducted — left 4,000 vulnerable research subjects reeling, Forget said in an interview. Read more: Opinion | Jennifer Wells: Wynne’s basic income experiment deserves to live a full life Photographer puts a face to people hurt by cancellation of Ontario’s basic income pilot project Ontario minister admits she broke election promise when she axed basic income project “People made decisions about their lives. They made decisions to go back to school, rent larger apartments, do all kinds of things on the basis of the promise they would receive this funding for three years,” she said. MacLeod was not available for comment Tuesday. However, in a statement Aug. 31, the minister said the government was ending the project in a “compassionate way” by allowing payments to continue until March 31, and by helping individuals access welfare, if eligible. But Forget, one of 40 academics and researchers hired by the previous government to evaluate Ontario’s experiment, is still shocked it has been cancelled. So are those working on basic income projects in Finland, the Netherlands, Scotland, India, Spain, Kenya and the United States, who signed Forget’s open letter. In Canada, all federally-funded social science research involving human subjects must adhere to strict ethical standards outlined in a 218-page policy document, she said. The policy mandates respect for human dignity through three core principles of “respect for persons, concern for welfare, and justice,” she noted. Provincial lawyers may have inserted “escape clauses” in contracts Ontario’s basic income participants signed, but they can’t override basic ethics, she said. “Words that lawyers add to contracts don’t excuse researchers from taking these concerns seriously.” Sarath Davala, co-ordinator of the India Network for Basic Income, is appalled by Ontario’s behaviour. “It is one thing to fight legally and one thing to fight politically, but we have to fight this morally and ethically,” he said, referring to a proposed class-action lawsuit and a judicial review of the cancellation. “It’s an ethical question.” Davala, who has evaluated basic income projects in rural villages in India in 2011 and 2013, says he fears for Canada’s international reputation in the wake of the Ford government’s action. “This is just not done,” the researcher said from Hyderabad, India. “What is the signal Canada is sending? The world looks to Canada and its ethical protocol on research.” Although MacLeod has extended benefit payments until the end of March, Davala said participants are still being shortchanged and should receive the stipend for the promised three years. “With morals, there is no bargaining,” he said. “In politics you can bargain, in business you can bargain, in wages you can bargain. But on the question of morals you have to take a stand. This is not fair to the poor people who have made their plans.” Researcher Jurgen De Wispelaere, who has worked on Finland’s basic income experiment and has consulted on proposed projects in Barcelona, Scotland, Portugal and Corsica, said research ethics exist to protect human subjects from harm. “The immediate stress and its impact on mental and physical health and well-being caused by the government … cutting off a secure income stream is very easy to grasp,” he said in an email. “On top of that, we must include the harm of long-term opportunities and plans scuppered — several participants had registered to obtain a three-year degree and no longer have that option, while already having incurred costs in most cases,” said De Wispelaere, a political economy research fellow with the U.K.-based Independent Social Research Foundation. Ontario got a lot of good press for the initiative and was being watched internationally as an example of political stakeholders and researchers collaborating in evidence-based policy-making, he said. “Now it will go in the books as a leading case study of how politics pretends to be interested in social research but in reality bypasses the scientific community in its policy process,” he said. “Important lessons will be learned by others, but Ontario’s reputation is in tatters.” Laure Monsebraaten is a Toronto-based reporter covering social justice. Follow her on Twitter: @lmonseb
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