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Patrick Brown’s bid for Ontario PC leadership approved

Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Feb 22nd, 2018

Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives are allowing ousted leader Patrick Brown to run as a candidate in the spring election, greenlighting his bid to reclaim the party leadership.

 

The decision was announced today by a party committee tasked with vetting Brown, who was forced to resign as leader amid sexual misconduct allegations, and three other candidates vying for his former job.

Since joining the leadership contest on Friday, Brown has been dogged by allegations of mismanagement and corruption, which have led one Tory legislator to file a complaint with Ontario’s integrity commissioner.

He’s also been accused of exaggerating membership numbers after an internal audit found the party has about 67,000 fewer members than the 200,000 Brown has previously taken credit for.

The 39-year-old politician, who was a federal Conservative MP for Barrie, Ont., under prime minister Stephen Harper, has denied all allegations against him and vowed to continue his fight until his party defeats the Liberals in the June election.

Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives will begin voting for a new leader on March 2 with the results announced on March 10.

Other candidates vying for Brown’s former job – Christine Elliott, Doug Ford and Tanya Granic Allen – were also expected be interviewed by the committee Tuesday as part of a vetting process that will look at their social media posts, previous jobs and criminal history. Caroline Mulroney, who is running in the York-Simcoe riding, is the only vetted candidate seeking the party’s top post.

Interim Tory leader Vic Fedeli, who has vowed to clean up the party and “root out the rot,” refrained Tuesday from commenting on whether Brown should be pushed out of the leadership race.

“I trust the process,” he said. “Patrick, like every candidate, will have to go through the provincial nominating committee.”

Sources say the leadership process involves filing the appropriate paperwork to register, paying $125,000 in different fees, and then going through the vetting process. Sitting legislators are not subject to the vetting process, but that rule does not apply to Brown, who was removed from the Tory caucus on Friday.

Some Tory officials acknowledged the complicated vetting process has caused some confusion inside and outside the party.

“We are navigating difficult waters,” one official said. “It might be foreign to outsiders but we’ll come out of this with a new leader and an energized party.”

Brown’s abrupt resignation plunged the Progressive Conservatives, who had been leading in the polls, into turmoil, triggering the kind of infighting rarely seen in Ontario politics.

On Tuesday, Brown warned his supporters to brace for more attacks, saying a small group of party “insiders” were trying to derail his leadership bid.

“Over the next weeks you may hear or see stories questioning my integrity, character and my leadership of our party,” Brown wrote. “This small group of insiders will stop at nothing in their attempts to derail us.”

Brown denied a Globe and Mail report that said he had discussed a $375,000 business deal with a man who would later become a Tory candidate in Brampton, Ont. The Canadian Press has not independently verified the allegations.

Brown said the deal never happened and accused a former senior staffer of leaking personal and financial information to the media.

“This includes bank statements, mortgage information, legal documents, all of which is legally protected and personal information,” he said.

Brown also pushed back against accusations that he inflated party membership numbers. Brown often took credit for growing the party from about 12,000 members after the Tory defeat in the 2014 election to 200,000 in late November. An internal audit ordered by Fedeli following Brown’s resignation found 133,000 members.

The membership numbers were accurate at the time he made the statement to the media, Brown said Tuesday.

“There is one person at party headquarters who looks after every single membership form and verifies the payment,” he said on Facebook. “He should be allowed to speak but won’t be allowed to because he will speak the truth.”

In the coming days, Brown will also have to deal with a complaint filed with Ontario’s Integrity Commissioner alleging he is not fit to be a legislator, much less party leader or the premier of the province.

Tory legislator Randy Hillier, who filed the complaint, alleged Brown had violated the Members Integrity Act, which governs the conduct of members of the legislature, and asked the commissioner to investigate Brown’s financial declarations, his travels to India and what he called “unreported income allegedly related to nomination acclamations.”

As the Tory drama has unfolded over the last few weeks, the governing Liberals have been reluctant to publicly weigh in, while the New Democrats said it’s hard to predict what will come out of it.

“I don’t know what the end result will be in terms of all of this mess but it’s certainly garnering a lot of attention,” said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath. “But I have to say, just because people are paying attention to the Conservatives during this messy process doesn’t mean they like what they see.”

With files from Paola Loriggio and Nicole Thompson

TCHC apartment bathroom covered in black mould

Ginella Massa | posted Thursday, Feb 22nd, 2018

After her vacation in the Philippines, a Toronto Community Housing Corp. (TCHC) resident returned to what her granddaughter describes as “something out of a horror movie.”

 

Adelaida Aneslagon left for her annual trip in late November and came home to a bathroom blanketed in thick, black mould in January.

She says she had made sure her son did a sweep of the apartment to ensure nothing was left running and was stunned to find the walls, ceiling and even her toothbrush covered in mould.

“When I opened the washroom … it’s terrible,” she said. “I’m scared. I called my son-in-law to pick me up because I cannot stay … it smells.”

To make matters worse, she said it’s been three weeks since she complained to property management and the TCHC still hasn’t dealt with the issue.

CityNews asked an expert to inspect the bathroom and he said it looks like toxic, Category 3 black mould which can cause serious health issues.

“This is not safe, definitely,” said Tony Lleshi, a technician with GTA Restoration. “I would say this whole apartment is contaminated.”

Lleshi said the extent of the damage was so severe that it was not safe to be in the bathroom for more than a few minutes, even with masks.

“We took steps to address the problem as soon as we learned about it from the tenant, and have since completed an assessment of the work needed to remove the mould and hired a vendor to do the repairs,” TCHC said in a statement. “Repair work will start on Friday and take about a week. We are meeting with the tenant [Thursday] morning to arrange for temporary accommodation.”

Meanwhile Aneslagon continues to stay with her children, where she’s been living ever since she returned to Toronto.

Big air leads to big bruises, disappointments for Canadians

Shi Davidi, Sportsnet | posted Thursday, Feb 22nd, 2018

Competing at the Pyeongchang Games quite literally beat up Laurie Blouin, her shiner from a slopestyle crash gone only to be replaced by a badly bruised buttocks that limited her performance in Thursday’s inaugural Olympic big air final.

The snowboarder from Stoneham, Que., had trouble getting up after dropping on her posterior during the first jump at the Alpensia Ski Jumping Centre and, out of contention, she decided to skip her third jump after falling again on her second run.

Still, surviving the dangerously windy slopestyle event with a silver medal is a pretty solid consolation for the 21-year-old, even though physically she paid for the entire experience.

“Practice went pretty good. I did all the tricks I was supposed to do in the final,” said Blouin, who qualified in fourth spot, but ended up 12th out 12 in the final with a two-best-jump score of 39.25. “I guess I wasn’t stressed enough. I think I was just too chill at the top. I don’t know; I just couldn’t put one down.

“After falling on my first one, that was heavy for my bum.”

The big air final was moved up a day because of heavy winds forecasted for Friday, a decision that should have been made for the initial slopestyle final, too, when only a small handful of runs were completed without a fall.

At the time, Spencer O’Brien of Courtenay, B.C., said 90 per cent of the women didn’t want to ride that day, and that FIS had pushed forward without considering input from the snowboarders. She ended up 22nd in the slopestyle and capped her second Olympics with a ninth-place finish in big air.

“Slopestyle definitely put a damper on things for us. I feel like we got robbed of an event over there,” O’Brien said. “But the big air definitely made up for it. The ladies definitely showed the world what we were capable of and where women’s snowboarding is at, so, really honoured to be a part of this big air event. It’s incredible.”

Austria’s Anna Gasser won the big air gold with a strong third and final jump that pushed her score to 185 points, past slopestyle winner Jamie Anderson of the United States at 177.25. New Zealand’s Zoi Sadowski Synnott took the bronze at 157.50.

“The last trick, that was a little risk I took,” said Gasser, who was among the snowboarders frustrated that FIS didn’t push back the slopestyle competition. “I wasn’t sure; should I keep it safe, should I just do (the second) trick again and get a better score, or should I risk it? But I watched the girls and everyone was so good, so I was like ‘OK, I’m going to try to do this trick,’ and I was so happy when I landed it.”

Less happy was O’Brien, who qualified 11th for the final and ended up ninth, landing a couple of conservative jumps on her first and third runs to finish at 113.25.

She had struggled to land tricks in practice and when it came to competition day, she didn’t feel her best, shedding some tears at the end of the competition.

“Sometimes you’re off,” is how O’Brien described it. “I ended up going with a lot safer runs than I would have liked to, but that’s just kind of the way the day panned out for me. I’m pretty disappointed I couldn’t have put down my best, but that’s what I had today and that’s how it goes.”

O’Brien was also emotional after a 12th place finish at the Sochi Games, which she had entered as the defending world champion but was still coming to terms with a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis as she competed.

These Games didn’t go to plan for her either, but she’s among the pioneers who helped get slopestyle into the Olympics in the first place.

“It feels really good to see the inclusion of both slopestyle and big air into the Olympics as a sport. I’m so proud of these women and where we’ve taken it,” said O’Brien. “A little bit of a disappointing performance for me. I’m happy to have made the finals and landed a few jumps, just really excited about the level of riding here today. It’s incredible. All the girls are throwing down.”

Canada settles for silver after shootout loss to U.S. in women’s hockey final

The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Feb 22nd, 2018

Canada’s gold-medal streak in Olympic women’s hockey ended Thursday with a 3-2 shootout loss to the United States at the Pyeongchang Winter Games.

Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson scored the deciding goal and rookie American goalie Maddie Rooney stopped Meghan Agosta to end the game, forcing Canada to settle for a silver medal.

The win was redemption for the Americans, who lost in overtime four years ago in Sochi.

Hilary Knight and Monique Lamoureux-Morando scored in regulation for the Americans.

Marie-Philip Poulin and Haley Irwin replied for Canada.

Canada had won four straight golds in women’s hockey, losing only in 1998 when the sport made its Olympic debut.

No final had ever been decided by a shootout.

Canada was third in the overall medal standings with 22 after Thursday’s game, including nine gold, six silver and seven bronze.

Canadians failed to make the podium in women’s snowboard big air. Spencer O’Brien of Courtenay, B.C., finished ninth while Laurie Blouin of Stoneham, Que., was 12th.

O’Brien scored a combined 113.25 points over her three runs in the sport’s Olympic debut.

“I ended up going with a lot safer of runs than I would have liked to but that’s how the day panned out for me,” O’Brien said. “Pretty disappointed I couldn’t put on my best but that’s kind of what I had today and that’s how it goes.”

Blouin, who won a silver medal last week in slopestyle, fell on her first big air jump, scored 39.25 on her second and opted not to take her third run.

Blouin said she had been nursing a bruise on her left buttock since Wednesday and aggravated it when she fell on her first jump.

Austria’s Anna Gasser won gold, scoring 96 on her final run for a combined 185 points. American Jamie Anderson took silver with 177.25 points and Zoi Sadowski Synnott of New Zealand earned bronze.

Canada also finished off the podium in the men’s ski halfpipe, won by defending Olympic champ David Wise of the United States. Noah Bowman of Calgary finished fifth while Mike Riddle of Sherwood Park, Alta., the silver medallist from the Sochi Games, was sixth.

Bowman scored 89.40 points on his first run but struggled on his last two.

“I knew I could step up the run — I had more to show and did not get to show it,” Bowman said. “I was mainly planning on going bigger … It could have been done, but it did not happen.”

Evangelist Billy Graham dies at age 99

The Associated Press | posted Wednesday, Feb 21st, 2018

The Rev. Billy Graham, counsellor to presidents and the most widely heard Christian evangelist in history, has died at age 99.

Spokesman Mark DeMoss tell The Associated Press that Graham died Wednesday morning at his home in Montreat, North Carolina.

He had been treated in recent years for cancer, pneumonia and other ailments.

His wife, Ruth, died in 2007.

Graham reached more than 200 million through his appearances and millions more through his pioneering use of television and radio.

Unlike many traditional evangelists, he abandoned narrow fundamentalism to engage broader society.

His message and service to U.S. presidents from Dwight Eisenhower to George W. Bush earned him the nickname “America’s Pastor.”

In 1995 his Evangelistic Association designated his son William Franklin Graham III as the ministry’s leader.

Pacific Mall tackles counterfeit, pirated good sales after U.S. report

The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Feb 21st, 2018

A Toronto-area mall’s management says they’re taking measures to stop imitation goods from being sold there after a U.S. government report claimed it was among the world’s most notorious sources of such products.

Markham, Ont.-based Pacific Mall management says in a statement that they are deeply disturbed and disappointed by a recent report suggesting its vendors sell imitation goods.

In January, the U.S. Office of the Trade Representative named the predominantly Chinese-Canadian shopping centre in its annual review of so-called “notorious markets” that included 18 brick-and-mortar locations and 25 online retailers.

The mall’s preliminary steps to tackle the illegal activity include issuing written advisories and warnings to store owners and tenants partaking in such activities.

Pacific Mall says it is also partnering with manufacturers to assist in identifying imitation products and commissioning a private investigator to conduct internal audits and monitor for imitation goods.

It also launched a website where shoppers can report suspected imitation goods at reportimitationgoods.com.

Management says it hopes “to reaffirm the public’s confidence in Pacific Mall as a place where consumers and families can find a wide array of cultural opportunities and products at great value.”

Judge rules ‘vulgar’ slur against reporter was not a public disturbance

Sue Bailey, The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Feb 21st, 2018

A notorious sexist slur aimed at a reporter in St. John’s, N.L., was vulgar and offensive but not a crime under the circumstances, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Provincial court Judge Colin Flynn dismissed the single charge against Justin Penton, 28, of causing a public disturbance.

Penton acknowledged he yelled a phrase commonly abbreviated to FHITP at NTV reporter Heather Gillis last April as she taped an interview outside the St. John’s dump.

But Flynn ruled the incident – part of a crass phenomenon that has plagued journalists in the United States and Canada since it started as an online prank in 2014 – did not meet legal precedents for interfering with the public peace.

“Something more than emotional upset and a momentary interruption in a conversation is needed to constitute the criminal offence of causing a disturbance in a public place. And that more is not present in this case,” Flynn wrote.

“It was a vulgar and offensive comment which was offensive to all right thinking people, but is not caught by the criminal law as presently enacted.”

Flynn noted it’s open to Parliament to broaden the law as was done in England where statutes protect against intentional harassment but also “alarm or distress.”

The judge also said his ruling on the specific facts “does not mean that these noted words can be said to persons, in particular female reporters out doing their jobs, with impunity.”

Flynn said it depends on context and circumstances. Gillis said in an emailed statement she understands the judge has to work within the law but is disappointed in the ruling.

Calgary police charged a man in 2015 after a female journalist covering bad hockey fan behaviour had the phrase hurled at her from a truck. She got the licence plate.

The man, who was not named, was charged with stunting under the Traffic Safety Act – a non-criminal offence defined as distracting, startling or interfering with other users of a roadway. It now carries a $543 fine.

Mark Dwyer, NTV news director, said the process wasn’t easy for Gillis.

“She’s a very proud journalist and we just admire that she stood up for herself and brought it forward,” he said in an interview.

“Another reporter who is in our newsroom just last night had that same obscenity yelled at them during a live hit at city hall. It continues, unfortunately. In our newsroom, almost every female reporter has been subjected to it.”

Gillis testified she was “humiliated, embarrassed and disgusted” with the remark, particularly because it happened as she was interviewing then city councillor Danny Breen, now the mayor of St. John’s. She posted a widely shared photo of the truck to Twitter, saying she was “publicly shaming” the heckler.

Gillis then received a message from the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary saying they’d follow up if she wished to make a complaint about what police said could be crime. She did.

Breen testified it wasn’t the first time he’d been in the middle of an interview with a reporter interrupted by the same slur. Penton’s lawyer Ellen O’Gorman said the case goes to the heart of criminal law.

“The purpose of criminal law is not to police politeness or protect us from hurt feelings,” she said in an emailed statement. “It’s not illegal in our country to shout or swear or make vulgar, insensitive comments to another person. But, if your shouting and swearing causes a disturbance, you could be charged under the same section of the Criminal Code.”

Criminal charges are a blunt tool where a “nuanced conversation” about changing attitudes and behaviours is needed, O’Gorman said.

“I can tell you that Mr. Penton would not recommend that anyone repeat his conduct,” she said, adding he feels remorse and embarrassment for what he said and how it affected Gillis.

“It was an action that was thoughtless in the moment but ended up giving him a great many sleepless nights.”

St. John’s lawyer Melissa Royle, who was not involved in the case, said it speaks to a lag in the law.

“I was disheartened but not really surprised,” she said in an interview. “The judge can only apply the law as it currently stands.”

“I think it’s really important that this conversation is happening – whether it’s Parliament, whether it’s judge-made law, that something happens to say this behaviour is not okay.”

Co-workers showed their support for Gillis on social media.

“She was steadfast in her effort to show that ignorance, misogyny and degrading slurs hurled at (often) female reporters will not be tolerated,” NTV reporter Jodi Cooke said on Twitter. “It’s offensive. It’s wrong. Heather demanded accountability. We all have to.”

‘Doobies make boobies’, officer reportedly tells teens

The Canadian Press and News Staff | posted Wednesday, Feb 21st, 2018

York Regional Police are trying to clear the air after an officer reportedly told a group of teens that smoking marijuana lowers testosterone and “doobies make boobies” or “enhanced mammary growth in men.”

YRP spokeswoman Const. Laura Nicolle says the erroneous information was included in a presentation by officers for high school students last week.

In an emailed statement to CityNews, the York Catholic District School Board (YCDSB) says the presentation was part of the annual Drug Awareness Power Conference attended by approximately 100 secondary students from the Board’s 15 secondary schools. The conference is aimed at helping students make smart choices and discussing how they can promote those responsible choices among their peers.

They say during the conference, a panel discussion led by members from York Regional Police, York Region Health and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) was focused on drug awareness and the upcoming legalization of cannabis and its possible impact. The misinformation was shared during this panel.

Const. Nicolle says the police force was contacted on social media by several people who were at the session, questioning the link between cannabis and growth in men’s breasts.

In a tweet Friday afternoon, police say marijuana does not cause “enhanced mammary growth in men,” adding that the force is “working to address” the misinformation by the officers.

The officer’s comments also caught the attention of pot activists who say that misinformation encourages kids to question all health information about drugs.

“The biggest danger of exaggerating fears and lying outright is that young people won’t trust you when you’re giving them true information and legitimate warnings,” says cannabis activist Jodie Emery. “We need honest authentic information, not fear mongering.”

Const. Nicolle says police are looking into exactly what the officers told the students and where they got that information.

“The YCDSB is currently communicating with the partners on the panel to address the misinformation shared,” the board said in a statement. “Our secondary school superintendent will then communicate with staff and students who attended the conference to address the misinformation.”

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