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Toronto man, 66, charged with 2 counts of first-degree murder in missing men probe

CityNews | posted Friday, Jan 19th, 2018

Efforts to assuage fears that a serial killer was active in Toronto’s Gay Village came to a chilling end on Thursday, when police announced the arrest of a 66-year-old man they allege murdered at least two missing men, and possibly more.

 

Bruce McArthur, 66, was charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Andrew Kinsman, 49, and Selim Esen, 44, after Toronto police said new and “significant” evidence came to light on Wednesday.

The bodies of Kinsman and Selim have not been found, but Det.-Sgt. Hank Idsinga said they have a “pretty good idea of what the cause of death is.”

Kinsman has been missing since June 26. Esen hasn’t been seen since April 15.

The suspect in their deaths is a self-employed landscaper who lives in Thorncliffe Park and runs a company called Artistic Design.

“We believe he is responsible for the deaths of Kinsman and Esen,” Det.-Sgt. Idsinga said from police headquarters, adding investigators have evidence that leads them to believe there are more victims

“We aren’t able at this time to identify those victims. We are aware of the other missing men from the village and we are trying to identify if they may have become victims of Mr. McArthur as well.”

Skandaraj “Skanda” Navaratnam, 40, and Abdulbasir “Basir” Faizi, 44, both went missing from the Church and Wellesley area in 2010. Majeed “Hamid” Kayhan, 58, vanished from the area in October, 2012.

Police say all three of the missing men share a similar ethnicity and lifestyle and were active in the Church and Wellesley community.

Police had previously said there was no evidence connecting the disappearances of Kinsman and Selim, or the other men who remain missing from the Gay Village.

 

Chief Mark Saunders was at Wednesday’s news conference, and he defended how police handled the case.

“What I said, at the time that I said it, was accurate at the time,” he stressed, referring to how police had previously tried to downplay fears of a serial killer.

Idsinga said McArthur knew at least one of his alleged victims.

“He did have a relationship with Mr. Kinsman for some time,” he said. “We don’t know what his exact relationship with Mr. Esen was leading up to his (alleged) murder.”

When asked what the nature of the relationship with Kinsman was, Idsinga replied, “sexual.”

 

Helen Kennedy, executive director of the LGBTQ advocacy group Egale, said news of the arrest brought relief after months of fear and apprehension.

“The community, especially in the village, were very, very nervous, and rightly so. Two gay men went missing and the circumstances around their disappearances were very suspect and so people were speculating about what had happened to these two guys,” she said.

“I think that we had every right to be afraid and nervous, but at the same time, the police need time to do their work,” she said.

(Files from The Canadian Press were used in this report)

One-third of Ontario parents believe school zones are unsafe: Ipsos poll

CityNews | posted Thursday, Jan 18th, 2018

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Just days after a five-year-old girl died after being pinned between two cars while being picked up from school, the CAA is out with a new survey that shows one-third of parents believe school zones are unsafe.

The poll, conducted by Ipsos, found that traffic volume and dangerous driving behaviour are the biggest concerns for parents when it comes to school zone safety.

Two in five people asked said they had “witnessed or experienced” an incident in a school zone.

The survey found that the most frequently witnessed dangerous behaviours are adult pedestrians using their cellphones while crossing the street or crossing unsafely at an uncontrolled place midblock. Other dangerous behaviours included drivers double parking, speeding and stopping in undesignated areas.

The survey asked 1,000 parents of school-aged children (kindergarten through grade 8) across Ontario.

CityNews spoke to Matti Siemiatycki, an associate professor of geography and urban planning at the University of Toronto about some of the practical ways to make the areas around school zones safer. Watch below. 

 

Piece of scaffolding falls on girl at Toronto school

CityNews | posted Thursday, Jan 18th, 2018

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The Toronto District School Board has halted a construction project at a school in the Annex after a piece of scaffolding fell on a student earlier this week.

 

 

The incident happened Monday outside of Palmerston Avenue Junior Public School, near Bloor Street and Bathurst Street, when a piece of construction material fell and hit a young girl.

The student was taken for a medical assessment and will be fine, according to TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird.

School staff moved students to a separate building as a precaution until the scaffolding could be checked, Bird said in a statement. “An inspection by the contractor followed and when the school received assurances that the scaffolding was safe, students were permitted to return.”

Work on the project has been paused until the board is certain “it can resume safely.”

Family of Toronto girl who claimed her hijab was cut apologizes: reports

The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Jan 18th, 2018

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Media reports say the family of an 11-year-old Toronto girl whose story of having her hijab cut in an attack last week turned out to be untrue has apologized.

Several news outlets cite a statement from the girl’s family that was released on Wednesday.

Police began investigating last Friday, after the girl said she was attacked twice on the way to school by a man who cut her hijab with scissors.

The alleged attack received widespread media attention, and several prominent figures denounced it while expressing solidarity with the girl and the Muslim community.

On Monday, Toronto police said their investigation revealed that the incident did not happen.

Media reports Wednesday evening quote the family as saying they are “deeply sorry” for the “pain and anger” the story has caused.

Bag containing live eels found in Toronto mall washroom

The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Jan 17th, 2018

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A bag of live eels isn’t something you see expect to find in a public washroom, but that’s what happened Sunday evening at a mall in east-end Toronto.

Scarborough Town Centre Mall marketing director Jai Lee says a customer reported seeing two eels in the washroom and security staff went in to collect the slithery fish.

She says one of the eels had escaped from a bag, but was quickly captured and the pair of eels was taken to a nearby pet shop that specializes in fish.

Lee says they don’t believe it was a prank.

She says the eels were a variety that is sold as food and it’s believed a customer simply forgot the bag in the washroom.

Lee says nobody has come forward to claim the eels.

Wynne to shuffle cabinet less than five months before election

Allison Jones The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Jan 17th, 2018

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Premier Kathleen Wynne is shuffling several senior portfolios in her cabinet, less than five months before the Ontario election, The Canadian Press has learned.

Deputy Premier and Advanced Education Minister Deb Matthews, Treasury Board President Liz Sandals and Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid have all said they’re not running in the June election, and Wynne is filling those jobs with politicians who are up for re-election.

Mitzie Hunter is moving from her current post as education minister to advanced education, Eleanor McMahon is leaving her role as tourism, culture and sport minister for treasury board, and Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca will become economic development minister, sources say.

In this shuffle, many of the ministers involved also represent ridings in the Greater Toronto Area, which will be a key battleground in the June election.

Indira Naidoo-Harris, who is currently the status of women minister and minister responsible for early years and child care, will fill the job of education minister, a source said.

And backbencher Harinder Malhi will take on the status of women post, the source said.

In all, there are eight politicians involved in the shuffle, the source said, but Wynne’s office would not confirm any details other than that a shuffle would be taking place. Her itinerary for Wednesday shows a swearing-in ceremony in the afternoon.

Wynne last shuffled her cabinet in July, with a few moves to replace Glen Murray, who left as environment minister to become executive director of the Pembina Institute.

At that time, Chris Ballard became environment minister and Peter Milczyn was promoted to take over Ballard’s former post as housing minister.

Wynne has previously downplayed the effect of several senior cabinet members not running again, saying people sacrifice a lot to enter politics.

Speaker Dave Levac, the Liberal representative for Brant, and Monte Kwinter, Ontario’s oldest MPP, have also announced they won’t seek re-election.

New TTC report shows staggering extent of rush hour overcrowding

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Jan 17th, 2018

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Overcrowding during rush hour on Line 1 is the worst it’s ever been and a new report shows some startling numbers.

 

About 30,000 people travel southbound from Bloor station per hour and Line 1 is near or exceeding capacity for a 90 minute period during the morning rush hour.

In fact, Line 1, from Finch to Union Station is the busiest section, carrying 450,000 customer trips per day.

“I was coming home from work the other day and it was closed between Union and Bloor both directions, both lines” said TTC commuter Carly Churchill. “I had to take the streetcar, it was a nightmare.”

Little more than a decade ago it was a much smaller problem, with over capacity issues only existing at Bloor-Yonge, Wellesley and College stations.

The problem has nearly tripled, with the list growing to the following stations:

  • Eglinton
  • Davisville
  • St. Clair
  • Summerhill
  • Rosedale
  • Bloor-Yonge
  • Wellesley
  • College

For one advocacy group, the ultimate solution is the completion of one of the city’s most anticipated transit projects

“We know that what we need to do to fix this is to fund and build the relief line as soon as possible” said TTCriders spokesperson Shelagh Pizey-Allen.

TTCriders will be handing out “Overcrowding Relief Kits” to commuters starting at 8 a.m. on Thursday morning to raise awareness about subway crowding on Line 1, and asking people to contact Mayor Tory and Premiere Wynne and tweeting out pictures of their commute using the hashtag #can’tgeton.

One of the solutions the TTC is looking at is potentially changing the fare during off peak hours

“If they reduce the fare we think that can be good for some riders” said Pizey-Allen

“If they increase the fare, that’s going to be really bad news, not everybody can choose when they travel to work and not everyone can afford a fare hike”

The report will be presented to the TTC board Thursday when some of the recommendations will be reviewed. As for the timeline for the relief line, that won’t be ready until 2031.

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh engaged to clothing designer Gurkiran Kaur

Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Jan 17th, 2018

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Federal New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh pulled back the curtain on his closely guarded private life, letting Canadians know Tuesday night that he is engaged.

Singh, 38, proposed to girlfriend Gurkiran Kaur, 27, at a private party Tuesday night just blocks away from the Ontario legislature in Toronto where he served as a provincial legislator for six years.

Singh surprised Kaur, an entrepreneur and fashion designer, with the proposal in front of several dozen friends and family members at a vegetarian restaurant where they had their first date.

Singh was elected federal NDP leader last fall and had been guarded about his personal life, but social media posts in December made headlines after it was reported he and Kaur were engaged.

The couple shot down the rumours, saying it was instead a “rokha” – a traditional Punjabi ceremony held ahead of a wedding and usually attended by close family.

Until December, Singh had declined to confirm or deny that he was in a relationship.

Along with friends and family, Singh invited several members of the media, including The Canadian Press, to witness the surprise proposal Tuesday night.

Friends cheered as Singh and Kaur arrived. Singh pulled a ring out of his jacket pocket and got down on one knee to propose to Kaur, who accepted.

A few moments later, the couple waded into the crowd and Kaur shouted, raising one hand in the air, “Every one, I’m engaged!”

Asked why he decided to make this news public and what he wants Canadians to know about it, Singh said he was excited about the engagement.

“I’m super excited to take this step forward – to have a life and future together with my partner,” he said.

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