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A vehicle drives into a group of protesters demonstrating against a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. The nationalists were holding the rally to protest plans by the city of Charlottesville to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. There were several hundred protesters marching in a long line when the car drove into a group of them.   /The Daily Progress via AP)

At least two Quebecers attended white supremacist rally in Charlottesville

MELANIE MARQUIS, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Aug 18th, 2017

A vehicle drives into a group of protesters demonstrating against a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. The nationalists were holding the rally to protest plans by the city of Charlottesville to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. There were several hundred protesters marching in a long line when the car drove into a group of them. /The Daily Progress via AP)
At least two Quebec men have been identified after they travelled south to participate in a white supremacist rally last week in Charlottesville, Va.

One of them took to Facebook to express his anger after an anti-fascist group posted a screen capture from the event that showed his face and that of four other men.

“These people are idiots who drive forward the globalist media narrative to silence anyone who is right of centre,” Shawn Beauvais-MacDonald wrote on his Facebook page.

A spokesman for right-wing group La Meute said Beauvais-MacDonald’s membership was suspended pending an investigation into the rally attendance.


Related stories:

Ex neo-Nazi urges parents to talk to kids about their take on Charlottesville
White nationalist group not welcome on campus: University of Toronto
Andrew Scheer’s free speech pledge wouldn’t apply in Toronto case: spokesman
Defiant Trump renews criticism of ‘both sides’ in Virginia violence


La Meute “formally dissociates itself from white supremacist groups, racist groups and violent groups of all political orientations,” Sylvain Brouillette told The Canadian Press in an email.

A second Quebec man, whose photo was also published on social media, said he travelled to Virginia partly for his own amusement.

“I did it mostly ‘For the lulz,’ meaning I expected to be entertained and it was indeed the case,” Vincent Belanger-Mercure told The Canadian Press in a Facebook message.

Belanger-Mercure said while he isn’t a white supremacist, “I’m not ashamed of being white either,” and added that attempts to make all cultures uniform “make the beauty of the world disappear.”

The photos of the men were pulled from a report on the Charlottesville event made by Vice with the collaboration of HBO.

The administrator of the anti-Pegida Quebec Facebook page republished screen grabs from the report and encouraged the public to identify the men.

The “Unite the Right” rally in Virginia resulted in violent clashes between white supremacist groups, including neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan (KKK), and the other camp, which was made up of activists opposed to the policies of the self-described “alt-right.”

One woman was killed and several people were injured after a vehicle plowed into a crowd of people.

The suspected driver, James Alex Fields, is facing several charges, including one of second-degree murder.

The event has prompted provincial and federal politicians, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to speak out against racism and hate.

In Quebec, International Relations Minister Christine St-Pierre has warned that the province’s international reputation could take a hit due to the increased visibility of homegrown far-right groups.

These include La Meute, which is planning a demonstration in Quebec City on Sunday.

Student who drowned on school trip didn’t pass swim test: TDSB director

NEWS STAFF AND THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Aug 17th, 2017

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A 15-year-old student who drowned on a school-run camping trip this summer had not passed a required swim test, the Toronto District School Board said Wednesday, as it apologized to the teen’s family.

The board’s director of education, John Malloy, said that of the 32 students who went on the multi-day canoe trip to Algonquin Park in July, 15 had failed the swim test. There was no documentation for two of the students, he said.

Malloy said all students on the trip were required to pass a swim test set out by the Ontario Physical and Health Education Association, which included a rolling entry into deep water, treading water for a minute and a 50-metre continuous swim.

Jeremiah Perry disappeared under the water after going for an evening swim with other students. His body was found a day later by search and rescue divers.

“I’m deeply troubled by these findings, that such a critical safety requirement in our procedures appears not to have been followed,” said Malloy.

“On behalf of the TDSB, I offer our most sincere apology and regret. I also want to apologize to the families of the other students who went on the trip, even though they did not pass the swim test.”

“The information that we have is the students did not pass the test and should not have been on the trip,” Malloy said.

Two teachers who were on the trip have been placed on home assignment as a result of the incident, he added.

New procedures have already been put in place, according to Malloy, who said that school principals will now have to see a list of students who passed or failed a required swim test before the trip takes place, and that parents will be notified if their child passed or failed the test.

“I know that Jeremiah’s family wants us to take steps to ensure that this will never happen again,” said Malloy.

He said that there will be a third-party review of all TDSB excursions that, like a canoe trip, are classified as ‘high care’ activities.

Perry’s parents could not be reached for comment on Wednesday, but at the time of the incident, his father, Joshua Anderson, said the he had expected the school would keep Jeremiah and his brother, who was also on the trip, safe.

“That was the least on our minds thinking about the safety because we know the school is supposed to have proper supervision, proper protocol, everything in place,” he told a Toronto TV station.

Malloy said that an internal investigation is currently taking place to better understand how this incident could have happened. He said that the investigation is still ongoing because some members involved, including the two teachers on the trip, have “exercised their legal right not to speak” at the advice of their legal council.

He added that the TDSB has scrutinized every trip scheduled to take place before Sept. 5, and confirmed that there are no similar issues with any of those trips.

2 suspects wanted in Sherway Gardens shooting

NEWS STAFF | posted Thursday, Aug 17th, 2017

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One man was critically injured after a shooting in the parking lot of Sherway Gardens near a Starbucks on Aug. 16, 2017. CITYNEWS/David Misener
Toronto police are searching for two suspects after a shooting outside a coffee shop at Sherway Gardens in Etobicoke.

Police were called to the plaza around 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday following reports of shots being fired.

A man had been shot in a parked car near the Starbucks. Paramedics say the victim was taken to a trauma centre with critical injuries.

A second man who was also in the car at the time of the shooting was hit by shattered glass. His injuries are not life-threatening.

Both victims are in their 50s.

Police say the suspects fled the scene in a black SUV, which they said they had recovered a short time later. The vehicle had been stolen and was burned.

Initially, police released a description of two suspects but later corrected that report, saying they are looking for two suspects who were dressed in black and had their faces concealed.

Baggage system glitch resolved, operations ‘running well’ at Pearson

NEWS STAFF | posted Thursday, Aug 17th, 2017

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Travellers leave Pearson International Airport with their baggage on Aug. 17, 2017. CITYNEWS/Bertram Dandy
A glitch with the baggage system at Pearson International Airport’s terminal 3 that caused delays for departing passengers has now been resolved.

Early on Thursday morning, a tweet from the airport said “operations are running well and the baggage contingency experienced yesterday in Terminal 3 has returned to normal operation.”

The issue started around 6 p.m. on Tuesday and continued until Thursday morning.

Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) spokesperson Robin Smith said Wednesdsay there was a problem with the induction conveyor belt, which meant crews were not able to get the baggage from the terminal and into the plane.

Travellers reportedly waited several hours on Tuesday night due to the glitch at the baggage drop-off. Extra staff members were brought in to help with the baggage backlog and crews worked throughout the night to fix the issue.

Around noon on Wednesday the GTAA said the vast majority of luggage had been cleared and the remainder would be gone within the hour.

However, as of 4 p.m. the GTAA said the system issue had not been completely rectified.

“We continue to work towards stabilizing the baggage system issues affecting flights departing from Terminal 3,” Smith explained in a statement.

“The GTAA team is operating with our airline partners under a contingency plan that means that significant delays have not been noted for this afternoon, and our intent is to continue with this plan to reduce any impact on flights this evening until we can be certain that the system is operating at proper capacity.”

 

Defiant Trump renews criticism of ‘both sides’ in Virginia violence

JULIE PACE AND JONATHAN LEMIRE, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Wednesday, Aug 16th, 2017

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President Donald Trump defiantly blamed “both sides” for the weekend violence between white supremacists and counter-demonstrators in Virginia, seeking to rebuff the widespread criticism of his handling of the emotionally-charged protests while showing sympathy for the fringe group’s efforts to preserve Confederate monuments.

In doing so, Trump used the bullhorn of the presidency to give voice to the grievances of white nationalists, and aired some of his own. His remarks Tuesday amounted to a rejection of the Republicans, business leaders and White House advisers who earlier this week had pushed the president to more forcefully and specifically condemn the KKK members, neo-Nazis and white supremacists who took to the streets of Charlottesville.

The angry exchange with reporters at his skyscraper hotel in New York City laid bare a reality of the Trump presidency: Trump cannot be managed by others or steered away from damaging political land mines. His top aides were stunned by his comments, with some – including new chief of staff John Kelly – standing by helplessly as the president escalated his rhetoric.

Standing in the lobby of Trump Tower, Trump acknowledged that there were “some very bad people” among those who gathered to protest Saturday. But he added: “You also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.”

The rally was organized by white supremacists and other groups under a “Unite the Right” banner. Organizers said they were initially activated by their objections to the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, but the larger aim was to protest what they saw as an “anti-white” climate in America.

In his remarks, Trump condemned bigoted ideology and called James Alex Fields Jr., who drove his car into a crowd of counter-protester killing a 32-year-old woman, “a disgrace to himself, his family and his country.” But Trump also expressed support for those seeking to maintain the monument to Lee, equating him with some of the nation’s founders who also owned slaves.

“So, this week it’s Robert E. Lee,” he said. “I noticed that Stonewall Jackson’s coming down. I wonder, ‘is it George Washington next week and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after?’ You really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?”

He continued: “You’re changing history. You’re changing culture.”

The president’s comments effectively wiped away the more conventional statement he delivered at the White House a day earlier when he branded the white supremacists who take part in violence as “criminals and thugs.” Trump’s advisers had hoped those remarks might quell criticism of his initial response, but the president’s retorts Tuesday suggested he had been a reluctant participant in that cleanup effort.


Related stories:

Trump condemns KKK, neo-Nazis as ‘thugs’

Demonstrators rally in Toronto to protest Charlottesville violence

Protests, vigils decry Charlottesville white supremacist rally

Man accused of ramming protesters in Virginia pictured with racist group


Once again, the blowback was swift, including from fellow Republicans. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said Trump should not allow white supremacists “to share only part of the blame.” House Speaker Paul Ryan declared in a tweet that “white supremacy is repulsive” and there should be “no moral ambiguity,” though he did not specifically address the president.

Trump’s remarks were welcomed by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, who tweeted: “Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth.”

Some of the president’s comments Tuesday mirrored rhetoric from the far-right fringe. A post Monday by the publisher of The Daily Stormer, a notorious neo-Nazi website, predicted that protesters are going to demand that the Washington Monument be torn down.

Trump’s handling of the weekend violence has raised new and troubling questions, even among some supporters. Members of his own Republican Party have pressured him to be more vigorous in criticizing bigoted groups, and business leaders have begun abandoning a White House jobs panel in response to his comments.

White House officials were caught off guard by his remarks Tuesday. He had signed off on a plan to ignore questions from journalists during an event touting infrastructure policies, according to a White House official not authorized to speak publicly about a private discussion. Once behind the lectern and facing the cameras, he overruled the decision.

As Trump talked, his aides on the sidelines in the lobby stood in silence. Chief of staff John Kelly crossed his arms and stared down at his shoes, barely glancing at the president. Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders looked around the room trying to make eye contact with other senior aides. One young staffer stood with her mouth agape.

Kelly was brought into the White House less than a month ago to try to bring order and stability to a chaotic West Wing. Some Trump allies hoped the retired Marine general might be able to succeed where others have failed: controlling some of Trump’s impulses. But the remarks Tuesday once again underscored Trump’s insistence on airing his complaints and opinions.

Democrats were aghast at Trump’s comments. Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine said on Twitter that the Charlottesville violence “was fueled by one side: white supremacists spreading racism, intolerance & intimidation. Those are the facts.” Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii said on Twitter that he no longer views Trump as his president.

“As a Jew, as an American, as a human, words cannot express my disgust and disappointment,” Schatz said. “This is not my president.”

When asked to explain his Saturday comments about Charlottesville, Trump looked down at his notes and again read a section of his initial statement that denounced bigotry but did not single out white supremacists. He then tucked the paper back into his jacket pocket.

Trump, who has quickly deemed other deadly incidents in the U.S. and around the world as acts of terrorism, waffled when asked whether the car death was a terrorist attack.

“There is a question. Is it murder? Is it terrorism?” Trump said. “And then you get into legal semantics. The driver of the car is a murderer and what he did was a horrible, horrible, inexcusable thing.”

Trump said he had yet to call the mother of crash victim Heather Heyer, but would soon “reach out.” He praised her for what he said was a nice statement about him on social media.

As he finally walked away from his lectern, he stopped to answer one more shouted question: Would he visit Charlottesville? The president noted he owned property there and said inaccurately that it was one of the largest wineries in the United States.

Associated Press writers Darlene Superville and Richard Lardner contributed to this report.

Baggage system glitch causes delays at Pearson’s terminal 3

NEWS STAFF | posted Wednesday, Aug 16th, 2017

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Baggage piles up at Pearson International Airport’s terminal 3 on Aug. 16, 2017. CITYNEWS/Bertram Dandy
A glitch with the baggage system at Pearson International Airport’s terminal 3 continues to cause delays for departing passengers on Wednesday.

The issue started around 6 p.m. on Tuesday.

Greater Toronto Airports Authority spokesperson Robin Smith said there was a problem with the induction conveyor belt, which means crews were not able to get the baggage from the terminal and into the plane.

Travellers reportedly waited several hours on Tuesday night due to the glitch at the baggage drop-off.

As of Wednesday morning, Pearson said the technical issue is ongoing and will affect some departing flights.

Extra staff members have been brought in to help with the baggage backlog and crews worked throughout the night to fix the issue.

Smith said crews are continuing to work to repair the system.

Electrical fire breaks out in CN Tower’s antenna

NEWS STAFF | posted Wednesday, Aug 16th, 2017

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A fire broke out in the antenna area of the CN Tower in Toronto on Aug. 16, 2017. CITYNEWS
Toronto firefighters are on the scene after an electrical fire broke out at the top of the CN Tower early Wednesday morning.

Crews received a call for a fire at the antenna level just after 4:15 a.m.

There was burning inside the conduits, which caused a tar-like substance to drip onto the observation deck.

The fire is now out, and the antenna has been de-energized.

Toronto trying to open interim injection sites by end of week: councillor

BRENNAN DOHERTY, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Aug 15th, 2017

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A registered nurse holds a tray of supplies to be used by a drug addict at the Insite safe injection clinic in Vancouver, B.C., on May 11, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Officials in Toronto are trying to partially open three safe injection sites months earlier than anticipated, due to a rise in overdoses and deaths.

Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s medical officer of health, said “interim safe injection sites” will be opened at three Health Canada-approved permanent sites until renovations to the long-term facilities are complete.

“We’re trying to open them as quickly as possible,” she said, adding that, while she didn’t have an exact date, the sites could be up and running in a matter of days.

Coun. Joe Cressy, a member of Toronto’s board of health, said he’d spoken to city health officials about the accelerated opening.

“We are hoping, at this point, to be in a position to have them open within a week,” he said.

Toronto Public Health is opening one of the interim sites. It said in a statement that the sites will be a safe, hygenic place for people to inject drugs they’ve bought beforehand under medical supervision.

The other two interim sites will be at community health centres that are not run by the city.

The effort comes after harm reduction workers began setting up an unsanctioned safe injection site in a downtown Toronto park, saying the space is needed as the city grapples with a string of overdoses and suspected overdose deaths.

“Yes, we have been seeing an increase – and that’s why we’re talking about accelerating and expediting the plans we already had in place,” da Villa said.

As the interim sites open, she added, staff will work to ensure that the permanent safe injection sites open as quickly as possible.

“There are lots of logistics, lots of things that need to be taken care of,” she said – both in opening the interim sites, and preparing for longer-term facilities.

Da Villa didn’t have details on exactly how many staff members would be present at either interim or long-term facilities.

Last week, harm reduction workers said immediately opening interim drug use spaces would save lives while the city’s three supervised injection sites were constructed.

The three permanent safe injection sites were originally slated to open in the fall. Earlier this month, the city announced it would speed up the opening of all three sites, as well as widening the distribution of the opioid overdose antidote naloxone to public health staff, community agencies and first responders.

It also asked local police to consider having some officers carry naloxone.

A statement from Toronto police deputy chief Mike Federico advised anyone dealing with an overdose to call 911.

“To the Toronto Police Service, an overdose call is a medical emergency, not a law enforcement issue,” it read. “Our job is to get treatment to those who need it as soon as possible.”

Toronto Public Health’s most recent data on opioid fatalities indicates that 87 people died from opioid use in the first half of 2016, with 135 deaths in 2015.


Related Stories:

Unsanctioned, pop-up safe injection site opens at Moss Park

Health Canada approves 3 safe injection sites in Toronto

Ontario agrees to fund Toronto supervised injection sites amid opioid crisis

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