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Only one in 20 elder abuse cases reported: Toronto police

Cici Fan and Pam Seatle | posted Wednesday, Jan 25th, 2017

A seniors’ advocacy group is holding a fundraising gala for a shelter for abused elders — who have been loath to come forward when they’ve been victimized.

The Seniors Aid Society says the shelter is desperately needed for the extremely vulnerable and rapidly-growing population.

Venessa Barros started Seniors Aid Society last April. She said she’s met and spoken with many elderly people who have been physically and sexually abused.

“I would ask them, ‘Do you want us to go with you to the police station and make a report?’ And because they’re afraid … they say, ‘No, where am I going to go?’” Barros says.

“That is their biggest fear: Am I going to be left on the street? And the shelters … are constantly full.”

The group says the most common types of elder abuse are neglect (59 per cent), physical abuse (16 per cent), financial exploitation (12 per cent), and emotional abuse (seven per cent).

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According to Toronto police, two to 10 per cent — about 40,000 to 200,000 — of seniors are abused in Ontario alone.

The problem is expected to become more widespread over the next decades, as baby boomers age. By 2030, about one in four people in Canada will be 65 or older.

 

Elder abuse drastically underreported

Only one in 20 elder abuse cases in the city are reported, says Toronto police’s vulnerable persons coordinator Jason Peddle. And the victim’s child is the perpetrator in 43 per cent of cases.

He says victims are often reluctant to report the crimes because they feel dependent on the abuser, they’re protecting the abuser, they feel an unhealthy relationship is better than nothing, or they feel shame, embarrassment or guilt.

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Source: Toronto Police Service

 

“I wouldn’t say it’s a new problem,” Peddle says. “It’s always been there and has always been drastically under reported.”

He says by far the most frequent call he takes from the public is related to financial abuse perpetrated by family.

“Power of Attorney theft is a huge problem and so difficult to prosecute because there is so much grey area in the law,” he said, referring to the he-said-she-said nature of cases.

Peddle notes he has not seen a rise in the victimization of seniors over the past three years.

The Seniors Aid Society’s fundraising gala is on Saturday, Feb. 4.

Queen West streetcar riders loving replacement buses

Ginella Massa and News Staff | posted Wednesday, Jan 25th, 2017

Queen Street West has been plagued by construction, including TTC streetcar track repairs, for months, but some area residents are singing the praises of their alternate transit.

Buses have been running on the 501 line since last summer, and while they carry fewer passengers, transit users say they’ve actually improved service.

“Oh my God — It’s amazing! Night and day. They need to get rid of the streetcars for sure,” transit user Angela Griffith told CityNews.

Ameya Deshpande takes the TTC to work every day and says she’s getting to work quicker thanks to the buses.

“It’s actually more convenient at night,” she explained. “As well, the buses are faster than the streetcars.

“Normally, (it) takes me an hour (by) streetcar, but it takes maybe 45 minutes to reach from downtown.”

Riders say the buses come more frequently and the fact that the vehicles can weave in and out of traffic makes their commute a lot easier.

Their reaction isn’t surprising to one transit expert.

“This is the most well-kept secret about public transit — that buses, in fact in many circumstances, perform better than streetcars given the flexibility that they have,” Murtaza Haider, transit expert and associate professor at Ryerson University, explained.

“Streetcars, by default, are fixed-route guided transit systems, so if one streetcar is stuck, all the ones behind it will also be stuck because they can’t overtake it. So, for all sorts of operational efficiencies, in many places buses have been much more proficient and efficient.”

But would the TTC consider ending its bid for more streetcars and return to buses? Spokesperson Stuart Green says no.

“It’s not something that we’re going to start taking away. We’ve got a bunch of new streetcars on order, as you know, and so we’re quite committed to running streetcars,” he said.

According to Green, each new streetcar delivered by Bombardier takes three buses off the road.

“If we were to replace the new streetcars with buses, we’d be having three times as many vehicles on the road, which only adds to congestion, which adds to gridlock,” he said. “It adds to poor air quality, and that’s not something we’re prepared to do.”

It isn’t just the amount of people streetcars move that make them a better choice for downtown streets, according to Green.

Streetcars last a lot longer than a buses do, which means the TTC replaces vehicles less frequently. As well, fewer vehicles are required, which means cheaper operating costs.

Plus there’s the environmental impact.

“The streetcars have no emissions the way a bus would and they actually, in their own rights of way, can reduce congestion quite considerably,” said Green.

The construction on the 501 line — including track replacement on Lake Shore Boulevard and accessible improvements to the Humber Loop — is expected to continue through 2017.

Raonic falls to Nadal in quarterfinals at Australian Open

The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Jan 25th, 2017

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Canada’s Milos Raonic has been eliminated at the Australian Open with a 6-4, 7-6, 6-4 quarter-final loss to Spain’s Rafael Nadal.

Raonic, the third-seed from Thornhill, Ont., was trying to repeat his best showing at the Grand Slam tournament by reaching the semifinals for a second straight year. He lost to Andy Murray in the 2016 semis.

The ninth-seeded Nadal held the advantage heading into the match, having won six of eight previous contests against Raonic.

The 26-year-old Raonic won the last meeting between the two; however, at the quarter-finals of the Brisbane International three weeks ago.

Raonic was the highest remaining seed in the quarter-finals after top-seed Murray lost to Germany’s Mischa Zverev in the fourth round and second-seed Novak Djokovic was upset in the second round by Denis Isotomin.

Trump to order building of wall on U.S.-Mexico border

Julie Pace, Vivian Salama and Rachel Zoll The Associated Press | posted Wednesday, Jan 25th, 2017

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President Donald Trump will begin rolling out executive actions on immigration Wednesday, beginning with steps to build his proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, according to two administration officials. He’s also expected to target so-called sanctuary cities and is reviewing proposals that would restrict the flow of refugees to the United States.

The president is expected to sign the first actions – including the measure to jumpstart construction of the wall – Wednesday during a trip to the Department of Homeland Security. Additional actions will be announced out over the next few days, according to one official.

Trump is said to still be weighing the details of plans to restrict refugees coming to the U.S. The current proposal includes at least a four-month halt on all refugee admissions, as well as temporary ban on people coming from some Muslim majority countries, according to a representative of a public policy organization that monitors refugee issues. The person was briefed on the details of that proposed action by a government official and outlined the expected steps for The Associated Press.

The officials and the public policy organization’s representative insisted on anonymity in order to outline the plans ahead of Trump’s official announcements.

On his personal Twitter account Tuesday night, Trump tweeted: “Big day planned on NATIONAL SECURITY tomorrow. Among many other things, we will build the wall!”

Trump campaigned on pledges to tighten U.S. immigration policies, including strengthening border security and stemming the flow of refugees. He also called for halting entry to the U.S. from Muslim countries, but later shifted the policy to a focus on what he called “extreme vetting” for those coming from countries with terrorism ties.

While the specific of Trump’s orders were unclear, both administration officials said Wednesday’s actions would focus in part on the president’s plans to construct a wall along the southern border with Mexico. He’s also expected to move forward with plans to curb funding of cities that don’t arrest or detain immigrants living in the U.S. illegally, – localities dubbed “sanctuary” cities – which could cost individual jurisdictions millions of dollars.

Trump’s insistence that Mexico would pay for the wall was among his most popular proposals on the campaign trail, sparking enthusiastic cheers at his raucous rallies. Mexico has repeatedly said it will not pay for any border wall.

Earlier this month, Trump said the building project would initially be paid for with a congressionally approved spending bill and Mexico would eventually reimburse the U.S., though he has not specified how he would guarantee payments.

Trump will meet with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto at the White House next week.

In claiming authority to build a wall, Trump may rely on a 2006 law that authorized several hundred miles of fencing along the 2,000-mile frontier. That bill led to the construction of about 700 miles of various kinds of fencing designed to block both vehicles and pedestrians.

The Secure Fence Act was signed by then-President George W. Bush and the majority of the fencing in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California was built before he left office. The last remnants were completed after President Barack Obama took office in 2009.

The Trump administration also must adhere to a decades-old border treaty with Mexico that limits where and how structures can be built along the border. The 1970 treaty requires that structures cannot disrupt the flow of the rivers, which define the U.S.-Mexican border along Texas and 24 miles in Arizona, according to The International Boundary and Water Commission, a joint U.S.-Mexican agency that administers the treaty.

It appeared as though the refugee restrictions were still to be finalized. The person briefed on the proposals said they included a ban on entry to the U.S. for at least 30 days from countries including Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, though the person cautioned the details could still change.

There is also likely to be an exception in the refugee stoppage for those fleeing religious persecution if their religion is a minority in their country. That exception could cover Christians fleeing Muslim-majority nations.

As president, Trump can use an executive order to halt refugee processing. President George W. Bush used that same power in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. homeland. Refugee security vetting was reviewed and the process was restarted several months later.

Other executive actions expected Wednesday include bolstering border patrol agents and ending what Republicans have argued is a catch-and-release system at the border. Currently, some immigrants caught crossing the border illegally are given notices to report back to immigration officials at a later date.

If Trump’s actions would result in those caught being immediately jailed, the administration would have to grapple with how to pay for jail space to detain everyone and what to do with children caught crossing the border with their parents.

Zoll reported from New York. AP writer Alicia A. Caldwell in Washington contributed to this report.

Video shows suspect Tasered, kicked by Toronto police during arrest

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Jan 25th, 2017

 

The Toronto Police Service is defending the actions of officers who Tasered and stomped on a prone man, but admits police had no right to threaten to seize the cellphone of a civilian witness who recorded the arrest.

The incident began when police received a call about a man spitting at an employee at the Seaton House homeless shelter on George Street in downtown Toronto.

An officer responded to the call and approached the suspect. That’s when witnesses say the man began punching her in the face.

With the help of passersby, police managed to tackle the man near Dundas and Church streets.

Bystander Karsa Dehghani told CityNews he helped police detain the man after he attacked the officer.

“His behaviour was aggressive,” he explained. “He immediately assumed a fighting stance and he started throwing punches … He hit (the officer) a couple of times.”

“It seemed pretty bad so I jumped in and tackled him … I was grabbing both his arms for about a minute or so until the police backup arrived.”

When that backup arrived, the suspect was placed in the back of a cruiser. But the situation would only escalate.

According to police spokesman Mark Pugash, the man kicked out the window of the cruiser and then bit an officer.

Pugash believes the subsequent force used by officers, who Tasered the man twice and stomped on his legs several times, was justified.

“We put him in the back of a police car, he kicked out the window of the police car,” Pugash said. “We got him out of the police car, he was on the ground, he still had an officer’s hand in his mouth, and so we Tasered him a second time to deal with that situation.

“He wouldn’t disengage and that’s why they Tasered him a second time.”

“He wouldn’t disengage and that’s why they Tasered him a second time.”

Pugash did admit, however, that police appeared to be intimidating witness Waseem Khan, who captured part of the dramatic arrest on his cellphone.

Khan says he was shocked to see police using such aggression when the suspect seemed to be immobile.

“The police officer starts stomping on him,” he said. “I’m thinking … that this guy is going to die. He was laid out. He was not moving whatsoever. I don’t even know if this guy was conscious.”

But it’s what happened next in the video that Pugash says crossed the line.

The officer holding the Taser hollers at Khan to “move back” and instructs another officer to “Get that guy out of my face.”

“I am not obstructing your arrest,” Khan replies.

Another officer approaches Khan and tells him to move back, to which Khan replies, “I’m a witness. I’m a witness.”

Two of the officers then say if he is a witness, they will have to seize his phone as evidence.

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“He’s going to spit in your face, you’re going to get AIDS. Stop recording or I’m going to seize your phone as evidence,” one of the officers says.

Pugash said Khan was within his rights to film the takedown from a reasonable distance.

“The man taking the video was clearly some considerable distance away,” Pugash said. “He was not interfering in any way, and the officers have no legal authority to seize the phone and they shouldn’t have said that was a possibility. It isn’t a possibility.”

The situation is under investigation by the Toronto Police Professional Standards division, but the Special Investigations Unit will not be probing the arrest because no serious injuries were reported.

Coun. Shelley Carroll, who sits on the Toronto Police Services Board, said she was dismayed by the video.

“I have a lot of questions and I’m going to need answers,” she said. “It’s a troubling video … but I do want to assure people that this means these officers are going to go through a long, long process.”

Mayor John Tory’s office released the following statement in response to the incident:

“The mayor has seen the video and finds it disconcerting. It’s important to keep in mind that we do not know the full context of what happened before or after the video footage. The mayor believes it is appropriate that the Toronto police will be reviewing the matter internally.”

Black Lives Matter Toronto co-founder Sandy Hudson said the video was further evidence of the need for change within Toronto police.

“This is outrageous,” she said upon viewing the video. “This man is not moving. He’s being kicked. This is exactly the type of stuff that we’ve been talking about. This city needs to do something about it. The province needs to do something about it.

“We need systemic change. We need policy change and we need a complete culture shift.”

Trump makes good on promise to pull U.S. out of Trans-Pacific Partnership

Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Jan 24th, 2017

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OTTAWA — Setting itself apart from a never-say-die Japan, Canada resigned itself to the death of the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Monday after President Donald Trump made good on his promise to pull the United States out of the trade pact.

Trump called getting out of the TPP “a great thing for the American workers” as he signed an executive order formally removing the U.S. from the controversial 12-country Pacific Rim deal.

There was no immediate comment from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, who are in Calgary for a two-day cabinet retreat where how best to deal with the Trump team is the main preoccupation.

Canada had been taking a wait-and-see approach to the TPP, with the Liberal government launching a sweeping consultation that appeared designed to postpone a decision until the U.S. resolved the question of whether or not to take part.

Asked whether the government believes the deal can be salvaged, Freeland spokesman Alex Lawrence would only say, “The agreement cannot enter into force without the United States.”

Japan, however, continued to cling to the hope that there was room to salvage the deal by changing Trump’s mind.

“A TPP without the U.S. would be incredibly difficult, but we do have a window until 2018, when the treaty needs to be ratified,” Yoshihide Suga, a top adviser to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, told American broadcaster CNBC.

“We believe we still have an opportunity to convince the U.S. about the importance of free trade.”

Abe has personally met Trump to push the merits of the deal. Japan has also urged fellow TPP countries, including Canada, to push Trump to reconsider.

That’s a message the Japanese reinforced earlier this month to the Liberal chairman of the House of Commons foreign affairs committee during his visit to Japan.

Japan called on Canada and other countries to ratify the TPP in their respective parliaments “as soon as possible and have everybody on board, and through that have a form of pressure on the American administration,” Liberal MP Bob Nault said in a recent interview.

Canada has instead told Japan it would like to reopen talks on bilateral trade deal, Nault said.

Japan isn’t reopening any bilateral trade talks with TPP countries because that wouldn’t help it press its case with the new Trump administration.

Abe and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull affirmed their support for the TPP during a Jan. 14 meeting, said Tony Negus, Australia’s high commissioner to Canada.

“Both leaders said that it is premature to dismiss the TPP and that some time is needed to gain a clear picture of the new U.S. administration’s trade policy,” Negus said in an email prior to Monday’s order by Trump.

After it, Negus would only say he had yet to be told that his government’s position had changed.

One Canadian trade expert said Trump’s decision heralds more trouble on trade, including the North American Free Trade Agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

“It reflects a disdain for open markets and liberalized trading arrangements and the manifestation of Mr. Trump’s ‘America First’ policy,” Toronto trade lawyer Lawrence Herman said of the decision.

“It signals storm clouds ahead for the NAFTA. Canada needs to be prepared if the U.S. decides to pull the plug on that deal.”

It remains unclear if Trump would seek individual deals with the 11 other countries in the TPP, a group that includes Canada and represents roughly 13.5 per cent of the global economy, according to World Bank figures.

Canada’s trade department said in a study last year that the TPP would generate more than $4 billion in long-term GDP gains for the Canadian economy but would lead to the loss of $5 billion if it did not join the deal.

Canada’s participation in the TPP was cemented by the previous Conservative government two weeks before they lost power in the October 2015 federal election.

The incoming Liberals affirmed they, too, were ardent free traders, but said they wanted to consult widely before the deal was implemented. The Liberals have also said the TPP would not survive the withdrawal of the U.S.

With files from The Associated Press

Toronto police searching for teen missing since Sunday

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Jan 24th, 2017

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Toronto police are asking for help finding a missing 13-year old boy.

Tyler Yanaky was last seen Sunday after 2 p.m. in the Bathurst Street and Lawrence Avenue area.

He’s described as 5’8″, with a thin build, and shoulder lenghth black curly hair.

He was last seen wearing a grey sweater, jeans or black track pants, red-and-black shoes, a stud in his left ear, and was carrying a grey backpack.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police or Crimestoppers.

Study suggests third of cigarettes sold in Ontario are contraband

Michelle Mcquigge, The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Jan 24th, 2017

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A new study suggests nearly a third of cigarettes sold in Ontario are purchased illegally.

The National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco commissioned research that tracked the cigarette-buying habits of people in Ontario.

The study found 32 per cent of respondents purchased contraband cigarettes, a figure that the coalition says is the highest in the country.

They say contraband purchases are most common in northern Ontario, where more than half the respondents — 51 per cent — reported buying illegal cigarettes.

They say the province needs to implement stronger enforcement measures to clamp down on the trade, which they say supports organized crime.

The online poll surveyed 1,500 adult Ontario smokers over 12 weeks ending on December 10, 2016. The polling industry’s professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.

The coalition said Ontario’s contraband cigarette market has remained constant for years even as other provinces have taken action to curb the problem.

Coalition spokesman Gary Grant cited Quebec as the most striking example, saying legislation that gave local law enforcement agencies more power to tackle the illegal tobacco trade cut contraband cigarette purchases in half.

“There is no reason to accept high contraband tobacco rates as a given,” Grant said in a statement. “Clearly, this is a problem that will not go away on its own. It is also clear that meaningful anti-contraband tobacco measures can reduce illegal cigarette incidence.”

The coalition’s figures align with those released by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute for Public Policy last year.

The think tank’s study combed through a number of public data sources, including tax revenue and trade figures, and estimated that illegal sales made up about a third of Ontario’s tobacco market.

Researcher Christian Leuprecht, who is also a professor at Queen’s University, estimated those sales cost Ontario up to $1 billion in revenue annually, accounting for a third of the roughly $3 billion Canada as a whole loses to contraband sales.

Leuprecht also praised Quebec’s efforts to crack down on illegal activity, saying recovered tax revenue gives the province a nearly 16-fold return on the money they’ve spent to implement their enforcement measures.

The illegal trade in the province was even greater than Ontario’s about 15 years ago, he said, adding that it has now fallen by 50 per cent while Ontario’s has stayed put.

But he cautioned against over simplifying the issue, saying any solution would have to account for the province’s legal tobacco growers and indigenous communities involved in the trade.

“I’m trying to avoid the inference that Ontario just needs to do what Quebec did,” he said. “Yes, Ontario needs to do what Quebec did, but Ontario needs to combine that with a whole series of other policy measures for that to be effective.”

The Ontario government, the provincial police force and the RCMP did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco said most of Canada’s contraband smokes come from about 50 factories based primarily in Ontario and Quebec.

Ontario has taken measures targeting smokers in the past, raising cigarette taxes by about $3 a carton in last year’s provincial budget.

But the coalition has historically decried such an approach, saying higher prices drive people towards the black market and only fuel the problem.

An RCMP estimate suggests at least 175 organized crime groups dabble in the contraband tobacco trade and use proceeds to fund other enterprises such as drugs and human smuggling.

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