Clinton, Trump meet to trade jokes at Al Smith Dinner

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 09:21:00 EDT

One day after the final U.S. presidential debate, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump met again, this time to have a laugh while exchanging digs at white-tie charity gala in New York.

The 71st annual Alfred E. Smith charity dinner, hosted by New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, became a showcase for presidential politics Thursday evening. Tradition dictates that candidates deliver humourous remarks, poking fun at each other and themselves — a welcome shift from this year’s highly divisive campaign.

Trump spoke first, beginning with self-deprecating comments about himself — “the truth is, I’m actually a modest person and modesty is perhaps my best quality, even better than my temperament” — comments that were quickly met with laughter.

He later took a shot at the controversy surrounding Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state, saying that after she bumped into him, she'd said, “pardon me.”

Clinton immediately got the joke and tossed her head back to laugh.

He also joked about his wife’s controversial speech at the Republican National Convention that plagiarized a 2008 Michelle Obama speech.

“Michelle Obama gives the speech and everyone loves it… My wife Melania gives the exact same speech and people get on her case. I don’t get it!”

But things took a turn for Trump when his criticism went from light hearted to slightly aggressive, saying Clinton was “corrupt” and was “pretending not to hate Catholics,” comments that were met with plenty of boo’s.

Clinton spoke after Trump, making a few self-deprecating jokes, telling the audience they should be thankful as she usually charges a lot for speeches.

She quickly moved on to her opponent, saying she didn’t think he’d “be okay with a peaceful transition of power.”

Clinton made plenty of jokes at Trump’s expense, including everything from his debating skills to his relationship with Russians.

“Looking back, I’ve had to listen to Donald for three whole debates,” she said. “And he says I don’t have stamina. I have now stood next to Donald Trump longer than his campaign managers.”

Since 1960, at least one of the major party nominees has appeared at nearly every election year dinner, which is traditionally the last time the nominees share a stage before voters go to the polls.

In the end, both candidates made jokes that were sometimes met with laughter, sometimes awkward stares and silences, and people were given some much-needed respite from the reported ugliness of the 2016 campaign. But, rest assured, everything will return to business-as-usual on Friday.

Trudeau reaffirms ‚??deep‚?? commitment to electoral reform

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 18:34:04 EDT

BRAMPTON, ONT.—Justin Trudeau says he remains “deeply committed” to reforming the voting system.

The prime minister reaffirmed his commitment Thursday, one day after he appeared to be preparing to renege on his promise that the 2015 federal election would be the last conducted under the first-past-the-post process.

“I think it’s important that a country as forward thinking and constantly improving and evolving as Canada is alert to opportunities to improve our systems of governance and the way we pick our governments,” Trudeau said after taking part in the official opening of Amazon Canada’s new warehouse and distribution centre in Brampton, Ont.

“And that’s a commitment we made in our election that I continue to be deeply committed to.”

Trudeau’s reassurance was in contrast to an interview published Wednesday in Montreal’s Le Devoir newspaper, in which the prime minister said that any major reform to the voting system will require “substantial” support. At the same time, he opined that the public clamour for reform has subsided since the Liberals defeated Stephen Harper’s Conservatives one year ago.

“Under the current system, (Canadians) now have a government they’re more satisfied with and the motivation to change the electoral system is less compelling,” he told Le Devoir.

The interview touched off accusations that Trudeau is preparing to abandon his campaign promise to scrap first-past-the-post, a widely criticized voting system that resulted in Trudeau’s Liberals winning 54 per cent of the seats in the House of Commons despite capturing less than 40 per cent of the popular vote.

RELATED:Is Trudeau jockeying to avoid fulfilling promise on electoral reform?

NDP democratic reform critic Nathan Cullen told the Commons that the prime minister seems to think “that because he won the last election the system must now be perfect.”

“Canadians are tired of self-serving politicians making promises just to get elected,” he added.

In Brampton, Trudeau noted that the government created a special all-party committee to explore alternative voting systems and sort through the wide range of different perspectives and proposals for reform. That committee is to report back with its recommendations by Dec. 1.

“I’m not going to preclude the arguments that they will be making and conclusions they will be drawing, but I will simply say I look forward to hearing those perspectives and looking at how Canadians wish to move forward on changing our electoral system,” he said.

However, with each party looking out for its own partisan interests, committee members may well find it impossible to reach a broad, cross-party consensus, which chief electoral officer Marc Mayrand has said should be a prerequisite for any major change to election laws.

Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef reiterated Thursday that the government “will not move forward on any reforms without the broad support of Canadians.” And she urged opposition committee members “to work together and provide us with one report outlining the areas where they’ve been able to find common ground.”

That seems unlikely. The Conservatives have vowed to oppose any reform until it is first put to a national referendum, a route the government is reluctant to take and which killed electoral reform initiatives in three provinces in the past.

New Democrats and Greens support a proportional voting system, in which a party’s share of seats reflects its share of the popular vote.

The Liberals profess to be open-minded. But in the past, Trudeau has expressed a preference for a system of ranked balloting, which would be much simpler to implement but which opposition parties claim would work to the advantage of the Liberals.

In the Le Devoir interview, Trudeau said less dramatic changes to the voting system would require less public support — possibly in an attempt to persuade the NDP and Greens to accept that a ranked ballot system would be better than no reform at all.

However, Kelly Carmichael, executive director of Fair Vote Canada, told the all-party committee Thursday that proportional representation is “the only legitimate choice.”

Of the 99 experts who’ve testified during the committee’s hearings, she said more than 90 favoured some form of PR; only five favoured a ranked ballot, which would not result in a distribution of seats proportional to votes cast.

10 pedestrians hit by vehicles in Toronto Thursday morning

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 10:19:51 EDT

A crazy morning that sent Toronto paramedics rushing to help seven pedestrians struck by vehicles during rush-hour on Thursday, and three more by noon, has advocates saying the city isn’t doing enough to keep its streets safe.

A city official says Toronto has an ambitious road safety plan incoming this winter, but that in the meantime commuters need to be extra careful.

Dylan Reid, co-founder of Walk Toronto — an advocacy group for pedestrians — said the high number of collisions on Thursday morning demonstrates a need for more protection for those walking the streets.

He thinks the plan in place to do so should take into consideration that everyone messes up sometimes.

“The underlying issue is infrastructure, Vision Zero [a Swedish approach to traffic safety that’s been adopted in cities around the world] recognizes that drivers and pedestrians may make mistakes and tries to make sure those won’t result in death and injuries,” he said.

Maureen Coyle, also a member of Walk Toronto, said while the city has name-dropped the Swedish framework in its incoming plan, it doesn’t have enough substance to back it up in practice.

Coyle is also frustrated when the onus gets put on pedestrians to make themselves seen on the roads.

“Observations like it’s up to pedestrians to not wear dark colours to avoid being hit by a car are demonstrated to be nonsense,” she said.

Roger Browne, manager of Toronto’s Traffic Safety Unit said the city’s ultimate goal is to reach zero fatalities on the streets.

Its incoming Road Safety Plan, aiming to reduce traffic-related deaths, is set to start up in January and run through 2021.

“For the city of Toronto this is a fundamental shift that we’re doing in terms of how we deal with road safety,” Browne said.

He said the plan aims to be strategic rather than opportunistic and that it takes a data-driven approach.

Kim McKinnon, a spokesperson for the city’s paramedics, said injuries incurred by the pedestrians who were hit Thursday morning range from minor to serious.

“Obviously, there is something about (the day), the weather and the status of the roads and people rushing that is causing these accidents,” she said.

McKinnon said paramedics tend to see an increase in pedestrians being struck in the fall, when days start to get shorter.

Toronto Police Services spokesperson Const. Clinton Stibbe confirmed there had been six pedestrian collisions and one other between 7:33 a.m. and 8:28 a.m. Thursday — though he couldn’t say for sure if the seventh was a pedestrian or a cyclist.

He said the factors involved in each case, like darkness or rain, will be considered in the reporting, which officers have seven days to the complete.

Canadian Automobile Association’s director of government and community relations Teresa Di Felice said peak rush hour happening when the sun is going up and down can be risky.

“Whether you are a driver or a pedestrian there is an opportunity to be that much more vigilant considering the day is changing out there,” she said.

Shafique Malick, a driving instructor in Toronto for more than two decades, said rush hour poses another risk as well: “Look at the timing, 7:30 to 8:30. What is in people’s minds? ‘I got to get to work’. ‘I’m late.’”

He said both drivers and pedestrians can make mistakes, and that they should be looking out for one another.

“That’s the main thing: keep your eyes moving,” he advised.

Grieving mother urges more oversight for pharmacies that make errors

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 18:54:06 EDT

As she had done so many times before, Melissa Sheldrick helped her 8-year-old son Andrew get ready for bed one Saturday evening last March.

Andrew, who was diagnosed by a doctor with a sleeping disorder, was on a regular prescription for tryptophan, a drug that helped regulate his sleep cycle. After taking his usual dosage, Andrew went to bed at 9:30 p.m.

He never woke up.

“The next morning, we found him in his bed. He was gone,” his mother said. “We were frantic. We called 911 and the paramedics came and said there was nothing, any kind of medical intervention they could do. It was like something out of a nightmare.”

Andrew was mischievous, caring and funny, his family recalls. He loved sports, playing video games on his Xbox, and above all, his family and friends.

Until July, his family didn’t know why he died. Sheldrick, her husband Alan and 14-year-old daughter Samantha found out through a coroner’s report that Andrew died of a toxic overdose of baclofen, a muscle relaxant drug.

The coroner’s report concluded that the bottle of medication Sheldrick had picked up for her son at the pharmacy that same Saturday, March 12, contained no traces of the sleeping drug he had been prescribed.

“Logic would dictate that baclofen was substituted for tryptophan at the compounding pharmacy in error,” the report states. Peel Regional Police are “addressing this issue” with Floradale Medical Pharmacy in Mississauga, where Sheldrick had received the drug for her son, according to the report.

The family is now suing Floradale, seeking $4 million in damages. In a statement of claim filed Tuesday, they allege “that baclofen was substituted for tryptophan at Floradale in error.”

Andrew had consumed about three times the amount of baclofen considered toxic in an adult, according to the coroner’s report.

The family is also asking Ontario Health Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins to implement a law that would increase oversight and tracking upon pharmacies that make errors.

With the hope of effecting change so that no other families face a similar tragedy, Sheldrick is in the process of requesting a coroner’s inquiry, which could produce recommendations for how pharmacies can reduce the risk of human error.

Andrew had taken tryptophan for two years. The only reason Sheldrick had gone to Floradale was because it is a compounding pharmacy, meaning it could take the pill form of Andrew’s medication, which he had trouble ingesting, and make it into a liquid.

The statement of claim names Floradale and its owner and manager Amit Shah as defendants, as well as a “Jane/John Doe pharmacist” who allegedly made the error. The family has been unable to identify who had prepared the medication.

“As a result of the negligence of the Defendants, which includes but is not limited to, their failure to properly compound the prescribed medication, Andrew died,” reads the statement of claim.

After several calls to pharmacies operated by Shah, he did not respond to requests for comment, but told the CBC News in an email “at this time we have no comment.”

“The family has retained counsel. The matter is being addressed,” he stated.

The lawsuit alleges the pharmacy permitted “unqualified and incompetent staff” to attend to patients and failed to keep accurate records.

Sheldrick is in the process of filing a complaint with the Ontario College of Pharmacists, the regulatory body for pharmacy practice in the province.

“There has to be a body that oversees this,” Sheldrick said.

Hoskins told reporters on Thursday he would look into the request along with the Ontario College of Pharmacists.

“I will be looking specifically, in light of this tragic situation, to see if there’s more that can be done in a transparent and accountable way,” he said. “Certainly if there are any allegations or complaints or suggestions of misconduct or errors that have been made, I would encourage Ontarians to report that to the college. It’s their responsibility to investigate.”

In Nova Scotia, pharmacists must report all errors to the Institute for Safe Medication Practices Canada. It’s the only province in the country that requires such reporting and Hoskins said he would look to Nova Scotia to determine if it’s the right approach.

Julie Greenall, the institute’s projects and education director, said she’d like to see Ontario adopt the same process.

“I think that would be helpful, particularly for critical incidents,” she said. “I think the more information we have about errors that are happening means the more we can learn about how to prevent them in the future.”

The institute is co-ordinating with the Ontario Coroner’s Office to investigate Andrew’s case to determine contributing factors and how to prevent future harm in pharmacies across the country. A report will be delivered to the coroner’s office in the coming weeks.

“This is a terrible situation,” Greenall said.

With files from Robert Benzie

Vaughan couple arrested in brazen New Brunswick diamond theft

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 09:17:20 EDT

Police have arrested a couple in the Toronto area in connection with a brazen diamond theft earlier this month in New Brunswick that was captured on surveillance camera.

Saint John police said Thursday morning that their counterparts in York Region had arrested 70-year-old Grigori Zaharov and Natalia Feldman, 44, in Vaughan on charges of theft. The arrest came following a Canada-wide warrant for the couple’s arrest.

A spokesperson for the York Regional Police, Const. Andy Pattenden, said the couple was arrested at a condominium complex and are in custody. They were to appear Thursday in a Newmarket courthouse and are expected to be transferred to Saint John.

“I’m ecstatic,” said Wayne Smith, owner of W. Smith & Co Fine Jewellers in Saint John, N.B. “Because of our tape we were able to bring something to light.”

Smith told the Star Thursday that after he decided to release the footage of the robbery to the public he was contacted by an informant who recognized the couple and was able to identify them.

He passed that information along to the police, who, according to Smith, were able to determine that a couple with the same name had stayed overnight at the Delta Hotel, which is directly upstairs from Smith’s jewelry store.

Zaharov has a number of previous criminal charges in Ontario going back decades.

In January 2004, Zaharov, then 57, was reportedly charged after police found cash, gems, silverware, blank credit cards and allegedly altered Canadian passports.

The discovery was made while police were investigating a home invasion and brutal beating that sent Zaharov to hospital.

In August 1994, the Windsor Star reported that Zaharov, then 47, had been arrested for allegedly “capping his bets”— an offence in which a gambler increases the size of a blackjack bet knowing that he or she possesses a winning hand — at the newly opened Casino Windsor.

In 1992, Zaharov appealed a robbery conviction at the Ontario Court of Appeal, arguing that police had illegally searched his vehicle following the robbery of a Radio Shack store.

According to the court’s Oct. 27, 1992 judgment, police found six pairs of surgical gloves, a “jimmy” tool, lock picks, a bent clothes-hanger, two bolt cutters, a wire cutter, a mini-crowbar, a pry-bar, a 14-inch spike, a screw head and fencing pliers, among other tools.

Police also found a map with X’s indicating a hotel where Zaharov had stayed and the store where the robbery was committed. The Crown prosecutor in the appeal hearing argued that there was evidence indicating the man was “professional thief.” In dismissing the appeal, the judges wrote: “We agree.”

The court judgment described Zaharov as “an immigrant” and “a well-educated man and conversant in English.”

Property records show that Feldman transferred half of the value of the couple’s $453,899 Vaughan condo to Zaharov — described in the document as “my spouse” — in October 2011.

According to Saint John Police spokesperson Sgt. Charles Breen, the couple is also suspected in similar theft investigations in Charlottetown and Fredericton.

Earlier this week, Charlottetown police released surveillance camera images of a couple suspected in the Oct. 12 theft of diamonds valued at about $20,000.

A spokesperson for the Fredericton Police said the force was unable to comment on any possible investigation that may be linked to the arrest.

Smith, the Saint John jeweller, said he has been contacted by other jewellers across Canada regarding similar thefts. He told the Star Thursday that Montreal police had also contacted him because officers were aware of the couple but were seeking information that would advance an investigation.

Smith said one case he had been contacted about involved a jewelry store that has been robbed of $70,000 worth of diamonds, while another store in Vancouver claimed to have been robbed of gems totalling $21,000.

On surveillance-camera video, the couple can be seen looking at necklaces, earrings and other jewelry before being presented with the loose cut diamonds. While the sales representative walks away to grab a mirror for the couple, the man switches the real cut diamond for a fake that he has received from the pocket of his female accomplice. With the switch done, he stuffs the gem into his back pocket.

Smith said that his crystal-clear surveillance footage of the robbery had allowed investigators in Saint John to determine that the couple were not passengers on a cruise ship as they had led his sales associate to believe, but were instead travelling in a car.

With files from the Toronto Star Library

Andre De Grasse keeps promise to mom as he finishes his degree

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 18:17:39 EDT

Andre De Grasse is on a break between classes at the University of Southern California, and for once he has nowhere to be.

There are no track practices or lifting sessions for the 21-year-old, who hasn’t run down the track since his stunning Olympic debut at the Rio Games. It’s all about the books as he finishes his sociology degree — fulfilling a promise he made to his mom Beverley.

“I made a promise to her and a lot of people, even here at USC, that I would come back and finish what I started because I didn’t want to leave that chapter of my life behind,” De Grasse said after class, from Los Angeles. “I enjoyed my time here at USC so much, and a lot of people see me here putting in a lot of work and effort, and I didn’t want to let that go to waste, and I thought this would be the perfect time now that the Olympics are over.”

De Grasse captured a silver and two bronze medals in Rio after opting out of his final season of NCAA eligibility at USC to turn pro.

He’ll finish his degree in December, and then move back to Phoenix where he trains with Altis, home to 100 or so of the world’s top track and field athletes.

The plan was to take two months off after Rio, and he’s kept active playing pickup basketball or soccer with friends. He’s hammering out a plan with coach Stu McMillan to perhaps travel to Phoenix on weekends until he’s finished his schoolwork.

“It’s been going by pretty fast, I can’t believe it’s the end of October already,” he said. “Only a month left and then exams. I thought it was going to be a little bit stressful, coming back after the Olympics, but time has actually been going by pretty fast.”

De Grasse’s career has skyrocketed since he left the USC campus last winter, but his college friends were quick to bring him back down to earth.

“A lot of people joke around because they knew me before that happened, so they’re always trying to tell me, ‘Hey, don’t get too big-headed now, we knew you before all that happened,’ ” De Grasse said, laughing. “They keep me humble.”

He’s posed for plenty of pictures, though, and has done some Q&As and student-athlete panels at the request of his professors.

The Markham, Ont., native was one of Canada’s most captivating storylines of the Rio Olympics, his relationship with Jamaican superstar Usain Bolt painting some unforgettable pictures.

Bolt will race at next summer’s world championships in London in what’s being billed as his “farewell” meet. De Grasse can’t wait for another shot at the 30-year-old.

“If it is going to be his last time, I’ve got to just try to enjoy the moment and have fun and go out there and give it my all against him one last time,” De Grasse said. “It’s going to be interesting to see where I’m at next year, and see where he’s at.”

As far as unseating the world’s greatest sprinter, however, De Grasse is measuring his words. The young runner said his confidence has sometimes been misinterpreted.

“I’ve noticed that in the past year, people tell me about interviews I do, and they say, ‘They make you sound like you’re cocky but you’re not really a cocky guy,’” De Grasse said. “I don’t want to rub people the wrong way where I sound cocky and say I’m going to beat Bolt. At the same time, I’m confident I can go out there and compete with him, and beat him.”

Besides his studies, De Grasse is working on developing his own charitable foundation, saying “That’s pretty important for me, because I want to give back to the community.”

He’ll travel to Chile with Puma — the company with which he signed his historic $11.25 million (U.S.) shoe deal last winter — on Oct. 27. There are also early plans for a “street meet” this coming summer that would see him race in downtown Toronto.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version had the incorrect age for Usain Bolt.

Baby Jesus statue faces second beheading in downtown Sudbury

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 14:36:00 EDT

There’s a new head on the Baby Jesus statue in downtown Sudbury, but it may soon be lopped off.

The head’s part of a Baby Jesus and Mary stone statue on the front lawn of the Ste. Anne des Pins church in the city’s downtown.

Someone severed and stole the original stone head earlier this fall.

The terracotta replacement head has been turning heads, because it’s an orangish hue on an otherwise white statue. Its spiky hair has moved at least one observer to say it looks more like Lisa Simpson of cartoon fame than the classic Baby Jesus.

Worse yet, it’s changing shape in the rain and turning the rest of the statue an orangish hue.

“I have noticed that, with the rain, the clay is eroding,” Father Gerard Lajeunese said in an interview. “I may have to have it removed.”

“Right now, it’s staining the statue,” Lajeunese said.

The terracotta head is the work of local artist Heather Wise, who told Lajeunese she plans to replace it with a stone one eventually.

She volunteered to do the job for free, even though she has never sculpted in stone before and doesn’t belong to the parish, Lajeunese said.

The plan was that the orange terracotta head would serve as a temporary replacement until she could do something in stone, Lajeunese said.

“The initial plan was to paint it, but it was never dry enough, and we’re starting into the rainy seasons,” Lajeunese said.

He said Wise did the work out of the goodness of her heart.

“She’s not Catholic,” Lajeunese said. “She was upset with what was done.”

The baby Jesus head had been knocked off before, but it could always be found nearby.

This time, it was taken away, Lajeunese said.

There has also been paint thrown on the church and graffiti.

“It’s not quite common, but it happens a few times a year,” Lajeunese said. “It’s a shame. It’s a nice oasis of greenerie.”

Windstream pushes to finish stalled wind farm in Ontario

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 18:37:56 EDT

The U.S. firm awarded $25 million in damages after the province stalled its Lake Ontario wind farm says it’s hoping for an “amicable” solution allowing the $5.2 billion project to go ahead.

“We’ve never found ourselves in a situation like this,” David Mars of Windstream Energy said Thursday of the Liberal government’s 2011 moratorium that halted development of offshore wind projects.

“We’re willing to reach out to them and find an amicable solution,” he added. “We never thought the Ontario government would be so difficult to deal with.”

Windstream filed a $568 million complaint under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) over the moratorium and was awarded $25 million in damages, as the Star first reported last week.

Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault was non-committal on Windstream’s project Thursday, saying the moratorium remains in place while the government studies research into the environmental impact of offshore wind turbines.

“I want to make sure this gets done right,” he told reporters after Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown raised Windstream in the Legislature’s daily question period.

“The Liberals have two choices — build the project and pay out $5.2 billion or enter into settlement negotiations to try to convince Windstream to take less. Either way, Ontario is on the hook for billions,” Brown charged.

While the NAFTA arbitration panel ruled the Windstream contract remains in force, Mars downplayed the possibility of further legal action for the project off Wolfe Island, near Kingston.

The electricity was to be worth $5.2 billion over a 20-year contract in 2012 terms, but the value would now be $5.5 billion adjusted for inflation, Mars said.

The moratorium came just six months after Windstream was awarded a contract to build the 300 megawatt wind turbine installation.

The halt came amid community opposition to the project just seven months before the 2011 election that saw then-premier Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal administration reduced to a minority.

His government also cancelled natural gas-fired power plants in Oakville and Mississauga, prompting charges from opposition parties that the measures were to save Liberal MPPs from defeat.

“What we have now is basically the same thing that happened with the gas plants,” NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said Thursday.

“For the purposes of saving a couple of seats, the Liberals put the brakes on this potential operation and who knows what the people are going to be on the hook for?”

Progressive Conservative MPP John Yakabuski, his party’s energy critic, said the PCs oppose offshore wind power. The New Democrats have no objections to it, but Horwath said “at this point I don’t know that it’s necessary.”

Last month, the Liberal government cancelled plans for another $3.8 billion in renewable energy projects, saying the province has a surplus of electricity and doesn’t need them as it tries to reduce skyrocketing electricity costs.

The government has been under fire for rising hydro costs and passed a law Wednesday that will waive the 8 per cent provincial tax on electricity bills starting in January.

Pearson airport presses Ottawa to fix security backlogs

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 19:08:40 EDT

OTTAWA—Officials at Pearson International Airport are pressing Ottawa to cough up more funding to ease backlogs at security and customs checkpoints that have left thousands of air travellers fuming.

The problem even has the attention of the prime minister’s office after Gerald Butts, the principal secretary to Justin Trudeau, took to social media to express his frustration at recent lineups.

“Friday of Thanksgiving weekend and half the security lines are closed at Pearson. #fail,” Butts said on Twitter on Oct. 7.

But the long lines at peak times are testing more than the patience of passengers — they mean delays, even missed flights that give the Canada’s busiest airport a black eye and ultimately cost the economy.

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on flights with international travellers who have talked about that. They’ll try it once but it’s just so painful that they are going to find other routings,” said Jan De Silva, president and chief executive officer of the Toronto Region Board of Trade.

She notes that Pearson, the country’s biggest international hub, is a huge contributor to the economy and warns that is at risk.

“It’s really not on par with what one would anticipate an international hub airport would have,” De Silva said in an interview Thursday.

“The unintended consequences are going to be horrific for us at a time when we’re looking for global growth to stimulate our economy,” she said.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau told the Star this week that he’s heard the complaints and is looking to act.

“It’s probably one of the issues that come up the most often when you talk to people about the air traveller experience. So all that to say that we are looking at that very, very carefully at this point in time,” he said.

Garneau could hint at proposed solutions in the coming weeks. In what is being billed as a landmark speech, Garneau will use an address to a Montreal audience on Nov. 3 to outline the department’s policy direction on a number of fronts, such as transport infrastructure and safety as well as the “passenger experience,” a source said.

Certainly Ottawa has been feeling the heat on the issue. The Toronto Board of Trade has joined has joined forces with its counterparts in other major cities to demand Ottawa fix the problem.

And now the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, which operates Pearson airport, is adding its voice too.

In a Friday presentation to the Commons’ finance committee — which is conducting prebudget hearings — the authority will press Ottawa to invest millions of dollars more to improve security and border services.

Scott Collier, the authority’s vice president of customer and terminal services, will call for at least $5 million in extra funding for the Canada Border Services Agency, responsible for customs and immigration screening of arriving international passengers, to improve services at Pearson.

During May, authority staff were forced to hold passengers outside a jammed customs hall an average of twice a day with wait times topping 30 minutes.

The authority is also urging Ottawa to earmark another $20 million to the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority to improve security screening at Pearson alone. This would allow 95 per cent of passengers to be screened in 10 minutes or less.

“Additional staff resources are essential to handle current and future growth,” the airport authority stated in its submission to the committee.

Pearson falls short of other global aviation hubs such as London’s Heathrow, where 95 per cent of passengers are screened in five minutes or less, the authority says.

Of the 17.6 million passengers screened at Pearson in 2015, almost three-quarters got through the checkpoints in 10 minutes or less.

But 4.8 million passengers had to wait longer than 10 minutes and half of those were stuck waiting more than 15 minutes.

At peak times, passengers have waited more than 60 minutes, the authority says.

The problem is that while passengers are paying upwards of $25 a flight for security screening, that revenue goes into the general federal coffers and not all of it is passed along to the security agency.

CATSA got a one-time infusion of $29 million from Ottawa earlier this year to help it keep pace with rising passenger levels.

Unless the federal government loosens the purse strings further, the security lineups are likely to get worse. That’s because CATSA is facing budget restrictions even though passenger volumes continue to grow at Canadian airports.

“Next year, if our budget is as planned right now, wait times will increase. That’s what we’re trying to address with Transport Canada,” agency spokesperson Mathieu Larocque said Thursday.


The agency that oversees airport security is testing a new way of screening that it hopes will ease the backlogs and hassles endured by travellers.

Known as CATSA Plus, the new system features motorized rollers to help move bins, a remote room where agents monitor the X-ray images, and an automatic return system that ensures a steady supply of bins.

It has also has a redesigned area where passengers can collect and repack their belongings after screening.

“This was designed to improve the passenger experience and the flow of passengers through the checkpoint,” Mathieu Larocque, spokesperson for the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority.

The agency installed the new arrangement on a single security line at Montreal’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport in mid-August. Reports from the test are encouraging.

“Early results show it’s very positive of the flow of passengers and passenger satisfaction,” Larocque said.

The new process will get a bigger workout later this month. That’s when six security lines begin operating in the new international terminal at Calgary’s airport.

Larocque said that CATSA took advantage of the new airport building to help design the space from the start for the new screening process, which has a bigger footprint than existing security checkpoints.

“We’ll have a better idea of how a full checkpoint with that type of technology can impact throughput,” he said.

He said the goal is to install the new system at major airports across the country.

The overhauled screening process comes at a time when concerns are growing about the lineups at security checkpoints that have left passengers fuming.

The Greater Toronto Airports Authority, which operates Pearson International Airport, estimates that CATSA needs $60 million in capital funding to implement the improved screening system across the country in 2017 and 2018.

Republicans call Trump‚??s refusal to endorse election outcome ‚??stupid,‚?? ‚??frightening‚??

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 20:09:00 EDT

WASHINGTON—Jim Moseley is buying extra ammunition and stocking up on canned goods.

He is a Donald Trump supporter in South Carolina, and he is preparing for “war.” The civil war he thinks will start if Hillary Clinton is elected president.

“Once the trucks stop rolling, the grocery shelves will go empty and gasoline rationing will go into effect,” Moseley, who calls himself a “Christian soldier,” wrote in a Facebook message early this week.

“Liberals will have targets on their backs, as their behaviors are pretty much evident ... race wars will begin as well, as your skin color will be your uniform!”

The Star first met Moseley, a 59-year-old retired salesman, outside a Christian bookstore during the South Carolina primary in February. He was shopping for an anniversary card featuring Bible verses. He was friendly and polite.

It is the existence of people like him that has contributed to the widespread alarm over Trump’s unprecedented remarks Wednesday about the legitimacy of the election.

At best, politicians and academic experts said Thursday, Trump’s comments will reduce public faith in America’s democratic institutions. At worst, they could contribute to some form of unrest or violence on election day, or soon after, inciting aggrieved supporters into action.

“I think it’s frightening beyond my ability to describe,” Republican Utah Sen. Mike Lee, who is on Trump’s list of potential Supreme Court picks, told the student newspaper at Brigham Young University. “It’s almost an anticipated repudiation of the outcome of the election ... It delegitimizes the entire process in a way that is really dangerous.”

Trump’s remarks were perhaps the most astonishing of his entire campaign, stunning even from a Republican candidate who has made a political brand of bigotry, sexism and conspiracy theories. Rejecting a foundational element of democratic governance, Trump refused at the final presidential debate to say he would accept the outcome of the vote if he loses.

“I will look at it at the time. I’m not looking at anything now. I’ll look at it at the time,” he said. When pressed by moderator Chris Wallace, he added, “I’ll keep you in suspense, OK?”

Trump has always been untethered to the norms that underpin the country’s politics. As his chances of winning have plummeted, he has lengthened his own thin leash.

For much of October, which has seen him fall to a daunting six-point deficit in the polls, Trump has been insisting with no evidence that the election will be “rigged,” corrupted by the “voter fraud” that is actually exceedingly rare. Cries of protest from Democrats and from scholars of elections, who warned that he sounded like a foreign authoritarian, produced only a muted response from most Republicans.

The dam burst on Thursday. Trump’s latest remarks were a bridge too far even for right-wing radio personality Laura Ingraham, who spoke at his convention, and Maine Gov. Paul LePage, a Trump endorser known for his own ill-considered outbursts.

“Not accepting the results, I think, is just a stupid comment,” LePage told a Maine radio station. “I mean, c’mon. Get over yourself.”

Some Republican allies, like party chair Reince Priebus, insisted Trump was simply saying he was not willing to abandon his right to request a recount in a tight race.

But Arizona Sen. John McCain, the Republican who lost to Barack Obama in 2008, said a concession is a “duty” and “an act of respect for the will of the American people, a respect that is every American leader’s first responsibility.” And experts said Trump had sunken to previously unseen depths.

“His decision to keep us ‘in suspense’ about whether he would recognize a victory by Clinton really takes us to a new low in this presidential campaign. It’s effectively calling into question the sanctity and legitimacy of the United States electoral process,” said Mark P. Jones, a fellow at the Baker Institute at Texas’s Rice University who is involved in the White House Transition Project.

“Even if Trump ends up recognizing her, some segment of his supporters will remember his initial reticence, and continue to foster the belief, in their minds at least, that the electoral process is rigged. And that’s just as pernicious for the entire democratic system, because the voting process is the bedrock of our democracy.”

The controversy over what Trump will do if he loses makes it more likely he will lose. Even if it does not turn off many voters, it is eating scarce time. There are only 18 days until Nov. 8, and no candidate has come back from a deficit this big with this little time remaining.

Pippa Norris, a Harvard University lecturer and director of the Electoral Integrity Project, warned earlier in the week that Trump’s remarks about the “rigged” election could lead to protests or violence. She said his “anti-democratic” debate remarks could add more fuel to the fire.

“Nobody in established democracies says that they don’t accept the rules of the game such that if they don’t win that they’re not going to respect the result,” Norris said. “I saw that he’s just now said that of course if he wins, he will accept. That’s not the point.”

Trump’s walk-back Thursday was typically defiant, but it did at least open the door to a concession.

First, Trump said, at a rally in Ohio, “I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election — if I win.” He added, though, “Of course I would accept a clear election result. But I would also reserve my right to contest or file a legal challenge in the case of a questionable result.”

Trump’s past suggests he would have difficulty accepting a loss. As Clinton noted at the debate, he reacted with accusatory dismay when his reality television show, The Apprentice, did not win an Emmy. The night Obama was re-elected, he called the election a “total sham and a travesty” and called on people to “fight like hell” and “march on Washington.”

The potential bad news for America’s democratic health: Trump now has more influence over more people. The semi-good news: absent violence or disruptive protests, the short-term significance of a refusal to concede could well be nil. As a non-incumbent, Trump would have almost no ability to impede a Clinton transition.

“There’ll be no consequence for Hillary Clinton,” said Jones, “other than a lower level of legitimacy among some voters. Who, especially if Trump refuses to recognize the result, will for the next four years refer to Hillary Clinton as the candidate who stole the election.”

Young Leafs struggle to close out games: Feschuk

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 22:49:11 EDT

ST. PAUL, MINN.— The games, at the very least, had been eventful.

As the Maple Leafs readied to play their fourth date of the NHL season here against the Wild on Thursday night, nobody could say they hadn’t provided their long-suffering fan base with plenty to talk about in their opening trio of contests. All three games saw the Maple Leafs play well enough to hold third-period leads. And all three saw the Maple Leafs score precisely four goals.

That was hefty production for a team that, a season ago, averaged a little more than two goals a game. So maybe it was worth asking: Could this higher-output offence be the product of a new-and-exciting game plan devised by head coach Mike Babcock? Um, no.

“We’ve scored. But we’re not interested in racing you to 10,” Babcock was saying Thursday morning. “The game in the NHL, no matter what’s going on right now, is going to be 3-2 or 2-1. We all know that.”

As if on cue, Babcock’s squad produced a rough approximation of the coach’s desired game. The final score was 3-2 — albeit a 3-2 loss to the Wild. And yes, it featured a third-period Toronto lead that disappeared into oblivion. But considering it came a night after the Leafs saw a 4-0 lead in Winnipeg dissolve into a 5-4 overtime loss, it amounted to the steadier kind of performance the coach had been seeking. Toronto outshot the home team 33-27 and had plenty of chances to score down the stretch. And if not for the stellar work of Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk, the Leafs might have been heading to Chicago for Saturday night’s game against the Blackhawks coming off a victory.

“I thought we played well tonight. I thought we controlled a lot of the play … You’ve got to give their goalie a lot of credit,” Babcock said. “I didn’t think it was like the other night (in Winnipeg). In the end, they shot it in our net and we didn’t shoot it in theirs.”

The tighter-checking game, to Babcock’s point, went against some early-season aberrations going on around the league. Heading into Thursday’s slate of games, the typical NHL team was averaging more than three goals a game — nearly half a goal more than it did a year ago. And goaltenders were failing to stop pucks at a rate that hasn’t been observed over a full season in about 20 years. It’s likely a small-sample blip that may or may not be explained by the World Cup of Hockey’s role in upending the league’s usual early-season rhythms.

Whatever the cause, it’d been fun enough to watch. Of course, “fun” isn’t the three-letter word that ends in “n” the Maple Leafs are striving for. That’d be “win.” And considering Babcock is of the mind they could have emerged with a victory in each of their previous three games — that the team that finished 30th overall a season ago could have easily been 3-0 heading into Thursday — he presided over a Thursday morning team meeting designed to help “fix” some of his squad’s deficiencies. Positivity, mind you, was the overriding sentiment.

Ditto the mood in the dressing room during Thursday night’s second intermission, when Toronto held a 2-1 lead.

“The game plan was simple – just go at ’em. Don’t slow down,” said Roman Polak, the veteran defenceman. “Well, we tried it. We’ve just got to lock the door a little bit. We’re going to learn from it.”

More intense competition for playing time on this season’s roster saw a couple of NHL veterans making their regular-season debuts for the Maple Leafs. Polak, playing in his first game in place of the injured Martin Marincin, made the most of his opportunity, scoring the game’s opening goal on a second-period point blast that beat Dubnyk over the glove-side shoulder. And Jhonas Enroth, starting in goal to give anointed No. 1 Frederik Andersen a rest, acquitted himself well.

Enroth couldn’t be faulted for being beaten on the partial breakaway by Eric Staal that made it 1-1. And maybe his only sin on Minnesota’s second goal – lifted over his short-side shoulder by Zac Dalpe on an early third-period rush the Leafs unsuccessfully challenged as offside — was being a few inches short.

Earlier in the game Leafs rookie Auston Matthews scored the power-play goal that gave the Leafs a 2-1 lead. But the decisive blow came with about seven minutes left in regulation, when Staal slid a puck through net-front traffic and past Enroth on a power play to make it 3-2. The final frame, mind you, saw the Leafs pelt the Wild net with multiple chances. William Nylander hit a post. Matthews pinged a crossbar. Nothing went in.

“Geez, we had chances down the stretch there,” Babcock said. “That’s unfortunate. But that’s life, too.”

That’s life against Dubnyk. In his four most recent starts against Toronto he has four wins and a .976 save percentage, stopping 114 out of 118 combined shots. Still, considering the Leafs were playing the second of back-to-back games and the Wild hadn’t played since Tuesday, the visitors provided a solid enough response to Wednesday’s gutting loss.

“Kind of the same story as (Wednesday night), but a little bit better,” Matthews said. “I think we were getting to the front of the net more, not giving them as many chances. They were able to capitalize on the very few we gave ‘em.”

In other words, goal-trading, rush-swapping, fan-thrilling hockey wasn’t being encouraged here, even if it was being played. On Thursday, at least for one night, the wild swings were replaced with a steadiness that was more predictable, if not victorious. And Babcock, two points or not, liked what he saw.

“I think we’ve played pretty well, to be honest with you. I like the way we play. I like how quick we play,” Babcock said. “As we grow up here, we’ve just got to hang in the hunt the best we possibly can, because we’re going to get better fast.”

Toronto police spending set to drop in 2017 halting upward trend

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 19:21:18 EDT

The Toronto Police Service is asking the city to approve a $1.002 billion operating budget in 2017, two million dollars less than this year’s record budget and halting a more-than-decade-long upward trend.

Mayor John Tory, a member of the civilian police oversight board, called it a “huge accomplishment” because the service found $47.4 million in spending reductions, almost half from a hiring freeze.

“This is the first police budget in the last eleven …that actually shows a reduction in the police service budget,” Tory said Thursday after the board approved the budget request. The proposed spending plan now moves to the city’s budget committee.

The TPS budget request, however, fell short of council’s requested 2.6 per cent reduction, which would mean another $24 million would need to be cut. Last summer, council voted to reduce all city budgets by 2.6 per cent.

“I think we have to look at the glass as being half full instead of otherwise,” because the trendline is going down, Tory responded.

“It’s a beginning, because as we are able to implement the recommendations of the transformational task force and modernize policing…(there are) opportunities for further rationalization and further opportunities to have better policing for less money.”

But the Toronto Police Accountability Coalition was unimpressed. “The case has not been made for why the police should be awarded any funds above and beyond what city council has requested, namely $978.6 million,” former mayor John Sewell wrote in a letter to the board.

The so-called transformational police task force has identified $100 million in reductions and savings over the next three years. The average number of deployed officers is set to drop from 5,072 in 2017 to 4,767 in 2019.

Tory said he would continue to press the province not to withdraw $14.9 million, annual funding tied to a larger complement of officers. The service should not be “penalized” for trying to contain costs with a modernization plan and hiring moratorium, he said.

In its budget document, the service said that since 89 per cent of the budget relates to salaries, “further reduction options simply do not exist.” The salary settlement in last year’s contract – signed by the board and police association - added an extra $17 million to the 2017 budget.

“Furthermore, until current service delivery transitions completely to the new model, further reductions would significantly risk the Chief’s ability to provide adequate and effective policing.”

Ferry breakdown highlights isolated reserve‚??s urgent need for all-weather road

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 17:41:52 EDT

SHOAL LAKE, MAN.—The chief of an isolated reserve under one of Canada’s longest boil-water advisories says construction on a road linking his community to the outside world must begin now.

Shoal Lake 40 First Nation land straddles the Ontario-Manitoba boundary and was cut off from the mainland a century ago when an aqueduct was built to supply fresh water to Winnipeg. The reserve has no all-weather road and has been under a boil-water advisory for 18 years.

Chief Erwin Redsky says the First Nation’s only aging ferry broke down three weeks ago, cutting off the community entirely.

This time, it was the ferry’s engine. In May 2015, the ferry failed to pass a federal inspection and was taken out of service, which prompted the reserve to declare a state of emergency and fly out its elders.

The ferry resumed operation on Wednesday, but the most recent breakdown underlines the vulnerability of the reserve and the need to get an all-weather road built, Redsky said.

“The ferry is not too reliable. Hopefully it will hang in there,” he said in an interview.

“We want to do something fast. We want to do it as soon as we can while the weather is in our favour.”

People who live on the reserve use a treacherous ice road in the winter and people have died falling through the ice.

In the summer, the reserve’s ferry runs up to 18 hours a day.

Health-care workers and ambulances won’t risk going to the community and children have to leave the reserve to continue their education past Grade 8. A water treatment plant is prohibitively expensive, as are housing and sewer upgrades, without a road to transport the necessary equipment.

Ottawa, Manitoba’s former NDP government and the City of Winnipeg all promised last December to split the cost of building what residents have dubbed Freedom Road. At the time, the project was expected to cost about $30 million, based on an old estimate.

Construction costs have since been reassessed at about $45 million.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who called the reserve’s lack of road inexcusable during the federal election campaign a year ago, has reiterated his government’s commitment to construction despite the increased cost.

Manitoba’s new Conservative Premier Brian Pallister has said he’s committed to the project as well, but provincial funding is still being reviewed.

“We recognize that this is an important project,” he said Thursday. “We’ll get it built.

“We’ll do that by working with our partners and I won’t do that through the media.”

Pallister said he expects work to get underway this winter, but said the project’s price tag is still a concern.

“Taxpayers are paying for it,” he said.

Redsky said he’s in talks with the federal government to move ahead with construction on reserve land this winter while waiting for the province to follow through on its commitment.

Two-thirds of the road is on provincial Crown land but the other one-third is on the reserve and under the jurisdiction of the First Nation and the federal government.

“Why can’t we do the federal portion right away while we’re waiting?” Redsky said. “We’re ready to go. The federal commitment’s there. The federal dollars are in place. Let’s get ‘er going.”

Sabrina Williams, a spokeswoman for Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett, said in an email that the government continues to be committed to construction of the road.

The statement did not address whether construction could begin on reserve land without a firm commitment from Manitoba.

“Our government is committed to improving the quality of life for Shoal Lake No. 40 First Nation residents,” the statement said.

“Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada is working with its funding partners, the province of Manitoba and the City of Winnipeg, as well as the first nation, to finalize funding commitments for the construction of Freedom Road.”