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Pearson expected to be packed Friday as travellers head home for holidays

BT Toronto | posted Friday, Dec 20th, 2019

Whether it’s the trip home for the holidays, or the escape to warmer weather, thousands of people will move through Pearson airport on Friday, in what’s expected to be the busiest day of the holiday travel season.

Poinsettias decorate the terminals as Christmas carols pipe through the speakers, welcoming the estimated 138,000 people expected to travel through the airport.

Because of the high volume of people expected, airport officials are advising travellers to give themselves lots of extra time for check-in and clearing security.

And remember, if you’re packing Christmas gifts don’t wrap them because all of your hard work could get unwrapped through security.

Displaced residents of Gosford fire weeks away from returning home

BT Toronto | posted Friday, Dec 20th, 2019

Some good news for hundreds of residents left displaced for more than a month after a fatal high rise fire in North York, many of them may be able to return home sooner than anticipated.

At a holiday dinner Thursday night for the fire victims meant to bring little holiday cheer to those who won’t be able to go home for Christmas, Mayor John Tory revealed that the first batch of doors that were damaged in the five-alarm blaze have been delivered and many more are expected to be delivered in the next day or so.

“For the majority …we’re very close to people being able to move back in,” said Tory. “I would say that for many of the units in the building we’re down to weeks.

“There’s a number of them that were much more severely damaged that is going to take longer. That may be a matter of a few more months.”

Tory says he’s heard the frustration in the voices of many residents who are temporarily living in hotels and looking for answers.

“We are going to make sure we stay on top of the landlord to make sure those people who are out longer are looked after,” said Tory. “Our expectation is that the landlord will have those people continue to stay in the hotel on the arrangements that have been put forward until such time as they can move back into their apartments.”

There is still no official word on the cause of the five-alarm blaze that started in an eighth floor apartment unit which claimed the life of one man. Preliminary reports said the fire did not look suspicious and the Ontario Fire Marshal’s office had narrowed the source of the fire down to one of the two bedrooms in the unit.

3 injured after shooting on Hwy. 401 in Pickering

BT Toronto | posted Friday, Dec 20th, 2019

Three people are injured — one in critical condition — after a drive-by shooting on Highway 401 in Pickering.

It appears the shooting happened in the westbound collector lanes near Whites Road around 4 a.m. on Friday.

According to police sources, four people were in a car at the time — two males and two females.

One male was shot in the chest and is in critical condition. Another male was shot in the arm.

One female has minor injuries after she grazed in the head.

The second female was not injured. She is believed to have fled the scene on foot.

The collector lanes are closed in the area.

Judge to rule on assault charges against former Afghanistan hostage Joshua Boyle

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Dec 19th, 2019

A judge is slated to rule Thursday whether former Afghanistan hostage Joshua Boyle is guilty of assaulting his wife Caitlan Coleman.

Boyle, 36, has pleaded not guilty to offences against Coleman including assault, sexual assault and unlawful confinement in the period from October to December 2017.

The incidents are alleged to have taken place in Ottawa after Boyle and Coleman returned to Canada following five years as prisoners of Taliban-linked extremists.

The couple was seized in 2012 in Afghanistan during an ill-fated backpacking trip through Asia.

In urging Ontario Court Judge Peter Doody to find Boyle guilty, prosecutor Meaghan Cunningham said during closing arguments that Boyle used a calculated mixture of kindness and cruelty to ensnare Coleman in an emotional web.

Lawyer Lawrence Greenspon, who represented Boyle, said reasonable doubt about his client’s guilt amounted to a defence against all of the criminal charges.

A judge is slated to rule Thursday whether former Afghanistan hostage Joshua Boyle is guilty of assaulting his wife Caitlan Coleman.

Boyle, 36, has pleaded not guilty to offences against Coleman including assault, sexual assault and unlawful confinement in the period from October to December 2017.

The incidents are alleged to have taken place in Ottawa after Boyle and Coleman returned to Canada following five years as prisoners of Taliban-linked extremists.

The couple was seized in 2012 in Afghanistan during an ill-fated backpacking trip through Asia.

In urging Ontario Court Judge Peter Doody to find Boyle guilty, prosecutor Meaghan Cunningham said during closing arguments that Boyle used a calculated mixture of kindness and cruelty to ensnare Coleman in an emotional web.

Lawyer Lawrence Greenspon, who represented Boyle, said reasonable doubt about his client’s guilt amounted to a defence against all of the criminal charges.

3 former St. Michael’s students to be sentenced in sex assault case

LIAM CASEY, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Dec 19th, 2019

Three former students of an all-boys Catholic school in Toronto are expected to be sentenced Thursday for their roles in an assault and two sexual assaults on campus.

Court has heard that the three incidents occurred in a locker room at St. Michael’s College School last year.

The three teens pleaded guilty in October to sexual assault with a weapon and assault with a weapon. One of the teens, who recorded the sex assault on his cellphone, also pleaded guilty to making child pornography.

An agreed statement of facts says there were two separate incidents at the private school last fall where boys on one of the school’s football teams pinned down two different victims and sexually assaulted them with a broom handle.

The Crown is seeking a sentence of 12 to 15 months in jail for two teens and 10 to 12 months for the third boy. The lawyers for each teen have asked for two years probation with no jail time.

None of the accused or the victims can be identified due to provisions in the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

The scandal erupted in November 2018 when Toronto police launched an investigation into allegations of sexual assault and assault on campus. Investigators said they uncovered eight incidents and proceeded with charges against seven boys for three of those incidents.

All three incidents were captured on cellphone video, and two of them were widely shared both within and outside the school.

The allegations sparked a national conversation about bullying and had a profound effect on the school’s community.

One boy could not bring himself to write a victim impact statement because it would force him to relive the experience, court heard last month.

The boy’s parents said the teen struggled since he was sexually assaulted with a broom handle by a group of boys on Nov. 7, 2018.

“He now feels he carries a very heavy stigma,” they wrote in a victim impact statement read out in court. “We have had to carry this burden alone.”

The other victim declined to provide a victim impact statement, but his plight became public after he and his family filed a lawsuit against the school, three former students, the board, the Basilian Fathers who run the institution, the coaches and administration.

The boy said in court documents the bullying and sexual assault he suffered at the hands of his schoolmates left him struggling with depression and severe mental health issues.

The fallout hit the school’s administration, with the principal and the board president resigning amid criticism of its handling of the case.

An independent committee set up to examine the culture at St. Michael’s found that bullying remained a “systemic” problem despite extensive measures taken by the school in wake of the scandal. It also found that hazing was not a problem.

The committee issued a 123-page report in August that offered 36 recommendations, including developing a comprehensive strategy to address bullying and robust staff training to deal with the issue. The school promised to adopt all the recommendations.

The charges against two other students have been dropped, while another one has pleaded guilty and received a two-year probationary sentence with no jail time.

The seventh teen is scheduled to go to trial next year.

Man found with gunshot wounds following Scarborough crash

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, Dec 19th, 2019

A 32-year-old man is in hospital with a gunshot wound following a crash in Scarborough.

Police say they responded to a crash in the area of Scarborough Golf Club Road and Ellesmere Road at around 7:45 p.m. Wednesday.

When officers arrived at the scene they discovered a car had struck a pole and the male driver was slumped over the wheel and unconscious, suffering from a gunshot wound to the chest.

Paramedics transported the victim to a trauma centre in serious condition.

Police say they are uncertain at this point where the shooting took place and the vehicle had no gunshot damage. He was believed to be travelling westbound on Newark Road towards Scarborough Golf Club road when the crash occurred.

Police said the victim has no criminal record and they don’t have a suspect description at this time.

U.S. House votes to impeach President Trump

LISA MASCARO AND MARY CLARE JALONICK, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Thursday, Dec 19th, 2019

President Donald Trump was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday night, becoming only the third American chief executive to be formally charged under the Constitution’s ultimate remedy for high crimes and misdemeanours.

The historic vote split along party lines, much the way it has divided the nation, over a charge that the 45th president abused the power of his office by enlisting a foreign government to investigate a political rival ahead of the 2020 election. The House then approved a second charge, that he obstructed Congress in its investigation.

The articles of impeachment, the political equivalent of an indictment, now go to the Senate for trial. If Trump is acquitted by the Republican-led chamber, as expected, he still would have to run for reelection carrying the enduring stain of impeachment on his purposely disruptive presidency.

“The president is impeached,” Pelosi declared after the vote. She called it “great day for the Constitution of the United States, a sad one for America that the president’s reckless activities necessitated us having to introduce articles of impeachment.”

Trump, who began Wednesday tweeting his anger at the proceedings, pumped his fist before an evening rally in Battle Creek, Michigan, boasting of “tremendous support” in the Republican Party and saying, “By the way it doesn’t feel like I’m being impeached.”

The votes for impeachment were 230-197-1 on the first charge, 229-198-1 on the second.

Democrats led Wednesday night’s voting, framed in what many said was their duty to protect the Constitution and uphold the nation’s system of checks and balances. Republicans stood by their party’s leader, who has frequently tested the bounds of civic norms. Trump called the whole affair a “witch hunt,” a “hoax” and a “sham,” and sometimes all three.

The trial is expected to begin in January in the Senate, where a vote of two-thirds is necessary for conviction. While Democrats had the majority in the House to impeach Trump, Republicans control the Senate and few if any are expected to diverge from plans to acquit the president ahead of early state election-year primary voting.

Pelosi, once reluctant to lead Democrats into a partisan impeachment, gaveled both votes closed, risking her majority and speakership to follow the effort to its House conclusion.

No Republicans voted for impeachment, and Democrats had only slight defections on their side. Voting was conducted manually with ballots, to mark the moment.

On the first article, abuse of power, two Democrats, Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, who is considering switching parties to become a Republican, and Collin Peterson of Minnesota voted against impeaching Trump. On the second article, obstruction, those two and freshman Rep. Jared Golden of Maine voted against. Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who is running for president, voted “present” on both.

What Pelosi called a sad and solemn moment for the country, coming in the first year after Democrats swept control of the House, unfolded in a caustic daylong session that showcased the nation’s divisions.

The House impeachment resolution laid out in stark terms the articles of impeachment against Trump stemming from his July phone call when he asked the Ukrainian president for a “favour” – to announce he was investigating Democrats including potential 2020 rival Joe Biden.

At the time, Zelenskiy, new to politics and government, was seeking a coveted White House visit to show backing from the U.S. as he confronted a hostile Russia at his border. He was also counting on $391 million in military aid already approved by Congress. The White House delayed the funds, but Trump eventually released the money once Congress intervened.

Narrow in scope but broad in its charges, the impeachment resolution said the president “betrayed the nation by abusing his high office to enlist a foreign power in corrupting democratic elections,” and then obstructing Congress’ oversight like “no president” in U.S. history.

“President Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office,” it said.

Republicans argued that Democrats were impeaching Trump because they can’t beat him in 2020.

Said Rep. Chris Stewart of Utah: “They want to take away my vote and throw it in the trash.”

But Democrats warned the country cannot wait for the next election to decide whether Trump should remain in office because he has shown a pattern of behaviour, particularly toward Russia, and will try to corrupt U.S. elections again.

“The president and his men plot on,” said Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., of the Intelligence Committee that led the inquiry. “The danger persists. The risk is real.”

The outcome brings the Trump presidency to a milestone moment that has been building almost from the time the New York businessman-turned-reality-TV host unexpectedly won the White House in 2016 amid questions about Russian interference in the U.S. election.

Democrats drew from history, the founders and their own experiences, as minorities, women and some immigrants to the U.S. spoke of seeking to honour their oath of office to uphold the Constitution. Rep. Lou Correa of California spoke in Spanish asking God to unite the nation. “In America,” said Hakeem Jeffries of New York, “no one is above the law.”

Republicans aired Trump-style grievances about what Arizona Rep. Debbie Lesko called a “rigged” process.

“We face this horror because of this map,” said Rep. Clay Higgins of Alabama before a poster of red and blue states. “They call this Republican map flyover country, they call us deplorables, they fear our faith, they fear our strength, they fear our unity, they fear our vote, and they fear our president.”

The political fallout from the vote will reverberate across an already polarized country with divergent views of Trump’s July phone call when he asked Zelenskiy to investigate Democrats in the 2016 election, Biden and Biden’s son Hunter, who worked on the board of a gas company in Ukraine while his father was the vice-president.

Trump has repeatedly implored Americans to read the transcript of the call he said was “perfect.” But the facts it revealed, and those in an anonymous whistleblower’s complaint that sparked the probe, are largely undisputed.

More than a dozen current and former White House officials and diplomats testified for hours in impeachment hearings. The open and closed sessions under oath revealed what one called the “irregular channel” of foreign policy run by Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, which focused on investigating the Bidens and alternative theories of 2016 election interference.

The question for lawmakers was whether the revelations amounted to impeachable offences.

Few lawmakers crossed party lines.

Van Drew, who is considering changing parties over his opposition to impeachment, sat with Republicans. Rep. Justin Amash, the Michigan conservative who left the Republican party and became an independent over impeachment, said: “I come to this floor, not as a Republican, not as a Democrat, but as an American.”

Beyond the impeachments of Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, this first impeachment of the 21st century is as much about what the president might do in the future as what he did in the past. The investigation of Richard Nixon ended when he resigned rather than face the House vote over Watergate.

Rank and file Democrats said they were willing to lose their jobs to protect the democracy from Trump. Some newly elected freshmen remained in the chamber for hours during the debate.

Top Republicans, including Rep. Devin Nunes on the Intelligence Committee, called the Ukraine probe little more than a poor sequel to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Mueller spent two years investigating the potential links between Moscow and the Trump campaign but testified in July that his team could not establish that Trump conspired or co-ordinated with Russia to throw the election. Mueller did say he could not exonerate Trump of trying to obstruct the investigation, but he left that for Congress to decide.

The next day, Trump called Ukraine. Not quite four months later, a week before Christmas, Trump was impeached.

Man faces second-degree murder charge in alleged Downsview shooting

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Dec 18th, 2019

Toronto police have charged a man they allege is connected to a fatal shooting in Toronto’s Downsview neighbourhood last Sunday.

On Dec. 15 at around 11:25 p.m., police allege two men were sitting in a car in the Keele Street and Wilson Avenue area.

Police said a third man approached the car and all three of the men began talking with each other outside of the vehicle.

“The third man [then] fired a handgun at one of the other men, then fled the scene,” police said.

The victim, Dwight Angus, 38, of Brampton died at the scene.

On Monday, police said they arrested and charged a Toronto man in connection to the alleged incident.

Edgar Stalin Brown, 38, of Toronto, has been charged with second-degree murder. He appeared in court on Tuesday.

This is Toronto’s 69th homicide of 2019.

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