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Man charged with murder of 2 missing men was barred from Gay Village

CityNews | posted Friday, Jan 26th, 2018

A 66-year-old charged with the murder of two missing men last week had been barred from Toronto’s Gay Village due to an assault almost two decades ago.

Bruce McArthur was arrested and charged with first-degree murder last week in the deaths of Andrew Kinsman and Selim Esen, and police believe there are more victims.

Court documents show almost 17 years ago, on Oct. 31, 2001, McArthur assaulted a man with a metal pipe.

He was convicted in 2003 and received a conditional sentence of two years less a day and three years’ probation.

As part of the sentence — except for work and medical appointments — McArthur was barred for three years from an area bounded by Bloor Street to the north, College and Carlton streets to the south, Sherbourne Street to the east and University Avenue to the west — an area encompassing the Church and Wellesley neighbourhood.

He was ordered not to have contact with his victim, or any male prostitute, or go near the victim’s home. Plus he had to undergo psychological counselling, including anger management, and provide a DNA sample.

McArthur was banned from possessing weapons for 10 years — including firearms, crossbows, ammunition or explosive substances — and ordered to abstain from non-prescription drugs, including amylnitrate or “poppers.”

Selim Esen, 44, went missing near Yonge and Bloor streets on April 14, 2017. Andrew Kinsman, 49, was last seen near Parliament and Winchester streets on June 26, 2017. Their bodies have not been found.

McArthur remains in custody and will appear in court on Feb. 14 by video link.

Senior politicians step aside, prompt MPs to reflect on changing attitudes

Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Jan 26th, 2018

The swift sidelining of two prominent politicians jolted MPs into reflecting Thursday on the societal shift in attitudes about allegations of sexual impropriety, and how to ensure their parties handle the issue in the best possible way.

Patrick Brown resigned as leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives after CTV News reported that two women have come forward with graphic sexual misconduct allegations against him _ allegations he denies.

The Brown case prompted a woman who once worked at the Alberta legislature to state publicly that Liberal MP Kent Hehr made sexually suggestive comments about her when he was an MLA a decade ago _ an accusation that cost him his job as sport and disabilities minister, pending the outcome of an investigation.

Harassment of any kind is unacceptable, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement.

“As a government we take any allegations of misconduct extremely seriously, and we believe that it is important to support women who come forward with allegations and that is exactly what our government will do.”

For his part, Hehr echoed the sentiment, saying the current conversation about harassment is a very important one.

“Throughout my career I have always tried to conduct myself with respect towards others, and I understand the most important thing is how each individual feels.”

Earlier Thursday, Trudeau applauded the courage of those who levelled allegations of sexual misconduct against Brown.

“My thoughts turn immediately to the women who came forward, knowing how difficult it can be, to salute them for their courage and their leadership,” the prime minister said at a news conference wrapping up his visit to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Trudeau said he hopes the women who have spoken out about Brown retain support among their friends, families and communities at large.

“I certainly hope their example will resonate.”

Brown was a Conservative backbencher under Prime Minister Stephen Harper from 2006 to 2015, when he stepped down to run for leader of the Ontario PC party.

Current federal party leader Andrew Scheer said the allegations against Brown must be investigated fully.

At a caucus meeting in Victoria, Scheer said he never heard any allegation of any kind about Brown, until now.

“I certainly invite anybody who feels that they have been a victim of these types of things in the past to reach out to our office. We’ll certainly do our best to make sure that any program or service that could be made available to them will be,” Scheer said.

“I’m encouraged by the spirit that this is happening now, where you have all-party agreement in the House of Commons to deal with these issues seriously.”

Brown “did the right thing” in stepping down, said Ontario Conservative MP Lisa Raitt.

Fellow Ontario MP Marilyn Gladu said she believed the provincial party should take the lead on the Brown issue, but added the federal party would also likely become involved since Brown was an MP at the time of the alleged incidents.

Conservative MP Tony Clement was more blunt, calling the behaviour utterly unacceptable.

“Our staff had to be treated with dignity and respect. We should always keep our policies and procedures respectful.”

Clement said he expected the federal party to have “more discussions about this.”

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh also said Brown was right to resign based on the serious nature of the allegations.

“With Mr. Hehr, I don’t know. I don’t know the details to that extent. What I do know is you have to believe survivors. That’s the starting point.”

Trudeau has repeatedly said his government has zero-tolerance for sexual misconduct, and he used his keynote address at the World Economic Forum earlier this week to urge companies and politicians to do more to confront the problem.

“Me Too, Time’s Up, the Women’s March – these movements tell us that we need to have a critical discussion on women’s rights, equality, and the power dynamics of gender,” Trudeau said Tuesday.

“Sexual harassment, for example – in business and in government – is a systemic problem and it is unacceptable. As leaders, we need to act to show that truly, time is up.”

Ontario Tories to pick interim leader on Friday

The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Jan 26th, 2018

TORONTO – Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives say they will select an interim leader on Friday to replace Patrick Brown, who stepped down amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

 

The party’s deputy leaders would not say, however, whether the person they choose would lead them in the scheduled June election or if a leadership race would be held before then, saying only that caucus members would need to have those discussions.

Deputy leader Sylvia Jones says the party is moving on and is focused on getting ready for the campaign.

Brown announced he was stepping down in a statement issued early Thursday morning, following a hastily called news conference in which he “categorically” denied what he called “troubling allegations” about his conduct and his character.

The allegations, which have not been proven in court, were made by two women who spoke to CTV News.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, meanwhile, says she will not seek a snap election, noting that it’s too early to know what impact Brown’s resignation will have on the province’s political landscape.

The premier would not comment specifically on the allegations levelled against Brown but broadly denounced sexual assault and harassment.

When asked if she would consider changing the date of the provincial election, she said: “No. This is not about politics.”

“I think that many of us feel very shaken by what we heard last night,” Wynne said. “There are obviously lots of political questions that are going to come forward. I honestly feel that right now I’m thinking about this in my role as a mother, as a daughter, as a community leader.”

“It is really, really important that we understand how deeply troubling this is to human beings, to people. This is a human problem…this is about creating safety.”

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath also said there was more at stake than the upcoming election.

“This is not about me and it’s not about my campaign,” she said. “This is about women coming forward and calling out behaviour that they experienced and I have to say I was pretty disgusted by what I heard in terms of their story.”

Ontario school board restores funding to produce play depicting gay teen couple

Peter Cameron, The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Jan 25th, 2018

A southwestern Ontario school board says it has reversed a decision to pull funding from a local youth theatre program over a play depicting the true story of a gay teen couple fighting to attend prom.

The Thames Valley District School Board says it will restore its $15,000 sponsorship of the Grand Theatre’s production of “Prom Queen,” which officials had earlier said contained inappropriate content.

Organizers of the Grand Theatre’s High School Project in London, Ont., said last week they were disappointed when the Thames Valley District School Board and the London Catholic District School Board decided to withhold a combined $30,000 from the theatre’s production of the play.

The London District Catholic School Board said Wednesday in a statement that it would not be reversing its decision.

The Grand Theatre’s board of directors says a community-driven fundraising effort has raised enough money for the project to go ahead without the support of the Catholic board.

It says as a result of the community support, it will offer two student matinees, completely free of charge to students.

“We want to assure donors that the funds raised will be used exclusively to support the 2018 High School Project, a program that costs $250,000 to produce annually,” it said.

The Thames Valley District School Board said it would be requiring parental permission for any student attending a performance of “Prom Queen” and that schools would be required to notify parents of the nature of the play’s subject matter and language.

“The play’s use of adult themes, stereotypes and offensive language were considered inappropriate for the High School Project, whose audience has traditionally included thousands of elementary school children,” it said.

The board said guidelines will be developed for staff to determine the play’s suitability for different grade levels and materials will be developed for pre- and post-play discussions with students to help them understand the play’s context and content.

“I am delighted our administration has listened to the concerns of the community and has reconsidered its decision,” board chair Matt Reid said in a statement. “The play is part of an uncomfortable conversation that we must have.”

Every year, Grand Theatre’s High School Project helps about 70 London secondary students produce and star in a stage musical.

“Prom Queen,” the play chosen for 2018, tells the true story of Marc Hall, an Oshawa, Ont., high school student who took the Durham Catholic District School Board to court in 2002 and won the right to bring his boyfriend to prom.

“This is a Canadian musical about true events that happened to high school students, when one boy stood up and said, ‘I can make a difference in the world,’ and (succeeded),” Grand Theatre artistic director Dennis Garnhum said.

Privacy breaches paving way for new frontier of cyberwarfare: expert

CityNews | posted Thursday, Jan 25th, 2018

Amid news North Korean hackers targeted Ontario transportation agency Metrolinx, a security expert said he believes the next global wars will be fought online.

 

Cyber expert Mick Bhinder with IamI Authentications said when it comes to online threats, privacy is just the tip of the iceberg.

“I have to ask the question if it was a distraction,” he said. “I would ask the question and investigate (if it) was Metrolinx as the specific identified target or if it was an opportunity. Often hackers scour and run across the Internet looking for vulnerabilities, looking for points in.”

Metrolinx said the cyberattack did not access its safety systems or computer systems that operate its trains.

The agency said it was able to stop the malware attack, and no private information was breached.

Spokeswoman Anne Marie Aikins said the company is constantly updating its systems which are built to detect viruses like this one.

But Bhinder said even though the North Korean breach was thwarted, the public needs to stay vigilant and educated about the very real threat that could be caused by cyber breaches.

“Today’s real concern is what could hackers do to cause chaos, harm and a lot of grievance,” he said. “Hospital networks, power grids, policing system or networks, and it goes all the way from societal infrastructure services all the way down to banking, public services and retail.

“The list doesn’t stop. Not to paint a bad picture — the reality is we are all vulnerable.”

Tourist in your own town: Locals share their Toronto secrets

CityNews | posted Thursday, Jan 25th, 2018

Anyone who’s travelled knows what it’s like to be a stranger in a strange town. You can feel a bit lost, trudging from tourist trap to tourist trap snapping pics while locals snicker and saunter to all those secret spots that give a city its true character.

 

Visitors to Toronto, and there’s a lot of them, could use a hand.

So we asked you, along with CityNews reporters and staff, to think outside the box, and share some of your local gems.

Here’s some friendly advice for how to have an authentic Toronto experience.

 

 

Ontario plans elevator availability law; report makes 19 recommendations

Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Jan 25th, 2018

TORONTO – Ontario plans to pass legislation in the spring aimed at addressing elevator availability and reliability as part of its commitment to tackle what has become a growing vertical mobility issue across the country, The Canadian Press has learned.

The planned legislation is in response to a report to be released Thursday that aims to define and enhance elevator reliability by ensuring building owners perform preventive maintenance — seen as key to minimizing thousands of annual entrapments and other unscheduled shutdowns.

“There are currently no minimum preventive maintenance standards in Ontario to minimize future availability issues,” retired justice Douglas Cunningham writes in his 57-page report obtained by The Canadian Press. “Compliance with minimum maintenance standards for safety, shown to signal more effective preventive maintenance practices, is at an all-time low.”

In fact, Cunningham reports, only one in five residential buildings are meeting minimum rules for scheduled maintenance tasks.

Other recommendations include forcing contractors to report outages over 48 hours or when half the elevators in a building are out of service — 80 per cent of buildings have only one or two lifts — and having a defined plan to restore service. Outage information should be publicly available, Cunningham says.

Cunningham says that while the four big elevator companies have painted a somewhat rosy picture of the situation — some critics have referred to multinational giants Kone, Otis, Schindler, and ThyssenKrupp as an oligarchy — there is widespread concern about elevator availability, which he wants to see defined as “the ability of a building’s elevating devices to transport persons as and when required.”

Overall, Cunningham finds a “diverse and complex set” of interrelated issues underlie outages, including maintenance, capacity problems and labour shortages. He also notes in passing cases in Europe, Israel and Japan involving systemic anti-competitive practices by the big elevator companies.

The Ontario government last year ordered the provincial safety regulator — the Technical Standards and Safety Authority — to commission the study after The Canadian Press found increasing problems with residential, nursing home and other elevators across the country and a private member’s bill aimed at addressing the issue gained all-party support.

The latest available figures, for example, show firefighters in Ontario responded to 4,577 calls by people trapped in lifts in 2016. Industry figures peg entrapments that year at 9,649. Additionally, the report notes, elevator outages are enormously problematic for people with mobility issues, and can hamper first responders in emergencies.

Part of Cunningham’s study — carried out by consulting firm Deloitte — involved a survey of building owners. Condominiums reported the biggest availability problem. Overall, one in five respondents reported having an elevator out of service for 18 days or more in any given year. Elevator age appears to play little role.

The study also reviewed jurisdictions such as Vancouver, New York and Singapore.

Liberal backbencher Han Dong introduced his private member’s bill last year that would punish contractors for extended elevator downtime and mandate “traffic studies” to ensure new residential buildings have sufficient elevator capacity. No standards exist at the moment.

Cunningham, however, asserts Dong’s bill is based on anecdotal rather than “robust” evidence. The problem, he finds, is the “acute absence” of reliable data that undercuts efforts to comes to grips on the extent of the problem and potential fixes.

Gathering needed data and tackling the issue will take years, involve several ministries, the safety regulator, contractors and building owners, the report finds.

One issue is that no regulatory authority is responsible for elevator availability — as long as the devices do not pose an active safety threat to users.

Nevertheless, sources have told The Canadian Press that Consumer Services Minister Tracy MacCharles — also responsible for accessibility issues — was expected to announce on Thursday plans to begin tackling the issue by introducing enabling legislation this spring and regulations in the fall.

Longer-term government plans call for setting timelines for returning devices to service — which Cunningham and the province say would make the province the first jurisdiction in the world to do that. Other planned initiatives include stronger enforcement tools and fines around maintenance, and tackling a shortage of qualified elevator mechanics.

Building code amendments would ensure new highrise buildings have a suitable number of elevators, according to the government.

The government also plans to ensure data on elevator uptimes are publicly available, sources said, suggesting would-be tenants for example would have information about a building, and authorities would have a better idea of where the problems are.

The government is also looking to develop education and awareness materials for building owners and residents on compliance with requirements for notice of service disruptions.

One thorny issue is whether the current safety authority should be given responsibility for availability. The fee-for-service authority, seeing itself caught potentially in a conflict between enforcing safety and ensuring availability, opposes taking on the extra mandate.

Cunningham was given an earful from disaffected contractors and owners about their lack of trust in the safety agency, which he said needs to act as a “modern regulator” that incorporates broad and frequent industry input into its decision-making.

Ontario Tory Leader Patrick Brown resigning amid allegations about conduct

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Jan 25th, 2018

Ontario’s Opposition leader is stepping down amid allegations of sexual misconduct, dealing a severe blow to his party just months before the province heads to the polls.

 

Patrick Brown announced the decision in a statement issued early Thursday morning, following a hastily-called news conference in which the Progressive Conservative leader “categorically” denied what he called “troubling allegations” about his conduct and his character.

In the statement, Brown said that after consulting with caucus, friends and family, he decided to step down as leader but would stay on as a member of the provincial legislature to clear his name.

He said “these allegations are false and have been difficult to hear” and that defeating Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne in the upcoming provincial election is “more important than one individual.”

 

Brown’s political future as Ontario’s Opposition leader was thrown into turmoil Wednesday as the allegations of sexual misconduct levelled against him prompted calls for his resignation.

In his late-night news conference, a visibly emotional Brown said he was made aware of the allegations hours earlier, but did not provide details on what those allegations were. He said he would defend himself in the court of law.

“I can’t speculate on the motive of my accusers, I can only say that what they are saying is categorically untrue,” the 39-year-old politician said.

CTV News reported that two women have come forward with graphic sexual misconduct allegations against Brown that date back to when the Opposition leader was a federal MP. The broadcaster did not name the women, who alleged the incidents happened at Brown’s home in Barrie, after they had been drinking in his presence. Brown was not drinking at the time, the women told CTV News.

The report said one of the women, who is now 29, claimed she was still in high school when Brown allegedly asked her to perform oral sex on him.

The other woman said she was a university student working in Brown’s constituency office when he sexually assaulted her at his home after an event she helped organize, CTV News reported. The woman said she did not report the alleged incident to authorities.

CTV News said it had viewed records of correspondence between Brown and the women. None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Politicians of all stripes were quick to weigh in, with the leader of Ontario’s New Democrats calling for Brown to step down.

“I’m disgusted and disturbed by these sexual misconduct allegations,” Andrea Horwath said in a statement. “Patrick Brown must resign, immediately. He deserves his day in court, but no person can lead a political party in this province with allegations like these hanging over his head.”

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne praised the women who made the allegations, saying on Twitter that it is “a difficult and brave thing to do to come forward in the way these young women have done tonight.”

Wynne said her government has made it clear that sexual assault and harassment are not to be tolerated but did not comment on Brown directly.

Provincial and federal Conservatives also denounced sexual misconduct and harassment.

“The allegations against the leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives are extremely serious and should be investigated fully,” federal Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer said in a statement.

Progressive Conservative Lisa MacLeod, a member of the Ontario legislature, said everyone “has the right to be free from unwelcome behaviour or advances.”

Even before Brown’s decision to resign, speculation began swirling as to who might replace him as PC leader should he step down. MacLeod, Christine Elliott and Caroline Mulroney were mentioned as possible candidates to take on Wynne in June.

Brown’s comments were also followed by a flurry of resignations from his top staff members, who said on Twitter they were stepping down over the leader’s handling of the situation.

“Earlier today, all three of us became aware of allegations about Patrick Brown. After speaking with him, our advice was that he should resign as PC Party leader. He did not accept that advice,” his chief of staff, deputy campaign manager and campaign manager said in a joint statement.

“Since our view is that this advice was in the best interest of the PC Party, we have therefore resigned our positions.”

The party’s press secretary also announced he was leaving his post.

Ontario PC deputy leaders Sylvia Jones and Steve Clark later issued a joint statement on the party’s website saying they “unanimously agree” that Brown cannot continue as leader. They said while Brown is entitled to due process, “he cannot lead us into an election.”

Jones and Clark said the PC caucus would “immediately consult with party officials and members on best way to move forward.”

Brown repeatedly denied the allegations against him and said he had instructed his lawyers to ensure that they are addressed in court.

He noted that “it’s never OK” for anyone to feel they have been a victim of sexual harassment or feel threatened in any way.

“I reject these accusation in the strongest possible terms,” Brown said. “This is not how I’m raised. This is not who I am.”

He did not take questions from reporters and left immediately after making his statement.

Brown has been leading in the polls as Ontario heads to a provincial election this summer.

He was first elected as federal MP in 2006 as part of the Conservative government after serving as a Barrie city councillor. He was re-elected twice, once in 2008 and again in 2011.

During his time in Ottawa, Brown served as a backbench MP in Stephen Harper’s government and has been frequently criticized by political opponents for voting in favour of reopening the abortion debate.

He won the PC leadership in 2015, beating long-time Ontario legislator and favourite Christine Elliott.

Since he has become party leader, Brown has attempted to broaden the appeal of his the party, going as far as to say social conservative issues were off-limits at the PC policy convention last fall.

Brown says he is pro-choice and more recently has led Pride parade delegations.

Below is the text of Ontario Progressive Leader Patrick Brown’s statement to the media Wednesday night.

“Ladies and gentlemen.

A couple of hours ago, I learned of troubling allegations about my conduct and character.

I’m here tonight to address them.

First, I want to say: these allegations are false. Every one of them.

I will defend myself as hard as I can, with all the means at my disposal.

I can’t speculate on the motive of my accusers, I can only say they what they are saying is categorically untrue.

It’s never ok for anyone to feel they have been a victim of sexual harassment or feel threatened in any way.

Let me make this clear.

A safe and respectful society is what we expect and deserve.

We need to move forward to eradicate sexual violence and harassment across the province _ across the country. Everywhere.

I know that the court of public opinion moves fast. I have instructed my attorneys to ensure that these allegations are addressed where they should be: in a court of law.

In short, I reject these accusation in the strongest possible terms.”

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