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Woman accused of fatal drugstore stabbing in the PATH declared fit to stand trial

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Oct 30th, 2018

A woman accused of fatally stabbing another woman at a drugstore in the PATH has been declared fit to stand trial.

Rohinie Bisesar faces first-degree murder for the death of Rosemarie Junor, who was stabbed in a Shoppers Drug Mart in 2015.

A jury declared Bisesar fit to stand trial on Monday after officials who oversaw her treatment also declared her fit this past summer.

Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Ian Swayze has told the jury that Bisesar has schizophrenia, but is doing well after being treated for the past year.

Bisesar’s lawyer, Robert Karrass, says the trial will begin Friday and will consist of a set of agreed-upon facts along with arguments from the prosecution and defence rather than a series of witnesses.

Karrass says he will argue Bisesar is not criminally responsible for the death of Junor.

Junor’s brother, Richard Junor, says the family is ready for the case to move to trial after three years of delays due to Bisesar’s mental health.

A fitness ruling pertains to the person’s mental state at the time of their court proceedings, and is separate from a ruling on a person’s criminal responsibility for their actions, which is based on their mental state at the time the alleged crime was committed.

Mother reunited with son 31 years after alleged parental abduction

NEWS STAFF | posted Tuesday, Oct 30th, 2018

A mother was reunited with her son after an alleged parental abduction 31 years ago, solving a case that she hopes will encourage others grappling with the pain of missing a child to remain optimistic.

Lyneth Mann-Lewis of Brampton met her son Jermaine Mann on Saturday in Connecticut.

In a press conference at Toronto police headquarters on Monday, Mann-Lewis said she was in disbelief when she saw her son for the first time since he was less than 2 years old.

“I grabbed him and I squeezed his head – I wanted to feel if he’s real. I touched him and said ‘oh my God my baby’.” He replied “Oh mummy, you have my eyes.” Jermaine had been told his mother died shortly after his birth.

Lyneth Mann-Lewis describes the moment she was reunited with her son:

While tearfully recounting the reunion, which gave her the chance to cuddle and cook for her son for the first time in decades, Mann-Lewis said she also thought of others whose children are still missing.

“I am the proof that after 31 long years of suffering, one should never give up,” she said. “Be patient, be strong, and believe that all things are possible and that anything can transpire.”

In the emotional briefing, she thanked Amanda Pick, CEO and investigator Ted Davis of the Missing Children Society of Canada for their unwavering belief and support.

“Ted encouraged me to always believe,” she said, thanking him for never giving up till he found her son over the course of an investigation spanning more than 20 years.

“From the moment I first talked to Amanda I knew…she would also be an extremely great person, (she) helped me through this ordeal and kept the positivity throughout the time I have known her, and for that I am very grateful.”

Det. Sgt. Wayne Banks from organized crime enforcement, fugitive squad also commended Davis and acknowledged his tremendous contribution to solving the case.

“(Davis) took this on as a passion. My heart goes out to him…for the amount of work he has put into this investigation,” said Banks.

Banks says Toronto police also conducted investigations but could not find a connection to Canada and their “leads went cold.”

A break in the case came in 2016, when the Toronto Police Fugitive Squad hosted their annual international fugitive investigative training. The conference brings in representatives from 21 countries and over 200 investigators from across the world attend the training sessions.

“During the conference we had the opportunity to introduce Mr.Davis (to) representatives from the U.S. Marshal Service where they were able to start talking about the case in a more in-depth fashion,” said Banks.

Banks says as a result of this meeting and the investigation that followed, carried out by Davis and the U.S. Marshal Service, Jermaine’s father Allan Man Jr. was identified.

U.S. federal agents say Mann Jr. was arrested on Friday in Connecticut, where he and Jermaine had been living under aliases in a quiet suburb near Hartford.

After running off with his then 21-month-old son on June 24, 1987, following a visitation in Toronto, Mann Jr. entered the U.S. and obtained fake identification for himself and his son, including bogus Texas birth certificates, officials alleged.

U.S. officials said Mann Jr. has dual Canadian and Ghanaian citizenship, and was found living under the name Hailee DeSouza in subsidized housing in Vernon, about 20 kilometres east of Hartford.

He appeared briefly Friday in federal court in Hartford, where he faces charges including making false statements in transactions with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The Hartford Courant reported that Jermaine sobbed quietly in the front row as his father appeared in court on Friday, and left the courthouse without commenting. His alias has not been released and he has asked for privacy as he reconnects with his mother.

Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham says the suspect is alleged to have “lived a lie for the last 31 years.”

“We thank the many law enforcement agencies, in the U.S. and Canada, that have investigated this matter, worked hard to apprehend this fugitive and finally provided some answers to a mother who has suffered with her son’s absence for far too long,” said Durham.

Police chief Mark Saunders said after the charges are dealt with in the U.S., Mann Jr. is expected to be extradited to Canada to face one abduction charge.

The investigation has involved multiple U.S. agencies as well as Toronto police and the RCMP.

With files from The Canadian Press and The Associated Press

Office of Ontario ombudsman reviewing cannabis delivery complaints

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Oct 30th, 2018

The Office of the Ontario Ombudsman says it has received complaints over delays in the delivery of cannabis in the province, almost two weeks since the drug was legalized across the country.

In an email Monday, spokeswoman Linda Williamson says there is no formal investigation, but staff are reviewing all complaints against the Ontario Cannabis Store and resolving them informally wherever possible.

She says the office has been receiving complaints “over the past several days,” but did not say how many have been filed.

The online Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) is the only legal retailer of cannabis in the province, and private retail brick-and-mortar stores aren’t set to open until April next year.

Williamson says if the ombudsman decides to pursue a formal investigation, the process is to first inform the organization in writing and then announce it publicly.

She adds the ombudsman has been in contact with OCS officials and is monitoring developments.

Ontario residents have expressed their frustrations on social media at the delays, saying consumers have no other legal means of purchasing cannabis while they await their orders.

The provincially run OCS warned on its website last week that delivery times for their orders may be longer than expected due to “unbelievably high demand” and labour action at Canada Post.

It said in a statement Thursday that it has processed more than 150,000 orders since Oct. 17 and has added “additional capacity” to its processing facility to meet the “unprecedented demand” for legal marijuana.

The OCS was not immediately available for comment Monday night.

Fragmented bus service market emerges as Greyhound exits Western Canada Oct. 31

DAN HEALING, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Oct 29th, 2018

A hodge-podge of public transportation services are already starting to fill the gap as Greyhound Canada moves steadily towards its midnight Halloween disappearance from most of Western Canada.

The venerable national motor coach operator is being replaced by a mix of provincial government-subsidized services, Indigenous-owned bus lines, locally owned startups, flexible fleets of shuttle buses and a scattering of formal and informal ride-sharing services.

And passengers aren’t waiting for the last Greyhound next Wednesday to check out new options — according to Stuart Kendrick, senior vice-president of Greyhound Canada, ticket sales have already fallen off to the point that some route frequencies are being reduced.

“Demand is quite low as we run into this last week or 10 days,” he said in a recent interview.

“You’ve got single-digit riderships on the schedule that we have left throughout Western Canada, so that’s probably about a 50 or 60 or 70 per cent decline based on what corridor you look at.”

The company plans to stop selling tickets on long-distance routes a few days before the buses stop running to help ensure passengers aren’t left stranded and holding the unused half of a two-way ticket, Kendrick said.

The loss of Greyhound spells opportunity for Regina-based Rider Express, a company that began operating a handful of 15-passenger minibuses on inner-provincial routes shortly after government-owned Saskatchewan Transportation Company shut down its bus services in the spring of 2017.

Rider has acquired five full-sized 50-seat buses and plans to begin passenger service on a Vancouver-Calgary-Winnipeg route on the Trans-Canada Highway this week, followed in November by a Highway 16 route linking Edmonton and Saskatoon, said manager Shauna Hardy. Both routes will directly replace Greyhound routes.

The interest from Saskatchewan residents has been “overwhelming,” she said, adding the company is being asked to take on more routes but has so far declined.

Late last May, Calgary-based Pacific Western Transportation was hired by the province of British Columbia to operate its BC Bus North service after Greyhound cancelled service to communities including Prince Rupert and Dawson Creek.

Greyhound’s announcement in July that it would exit almost all of Western Canada convinced the company to offer its own inter-city services in B.C. for the first time, said John Stepovy, director of business development. He added the company is also expanding its Alberta offerings.

He said he thinks his company can provide the hub in a hub-and-spoke business model as Greyhound closes — it’s already in discussions with operators of small-scale shuttle bus and transit operators about establishing connections with his firm’s routes.

“Overall, long-term, where the needs are, where there’s demand, we would anticipate voids will be filled but it could take a little bit of time for those things to shake out once the landscape changes,” Stepovy said.

“Discount airlines coming in will probably take on some of that longer-haul (Greyhound demand),” he said. “For bus travel, That one-to-five/six-hour travel time is kind of in the sweet spot.”

He added “disruptors” — new travel options such as Poparides, an app that matches passengers with drivers who happen to be going to the same destinations — are also expected to fill the gap.

Indigenous-owned charter service Kelsey Bus Lines is being renamed Mahihkan Bus Lines and has announced plans to offer daily passenger routes from Thompson and Flin Flon in northern Manitoba to Winnipeg, as well as freight service.

In Alberta, the provincial government has launched pilot programs at a cost of $2.8 million to help five rural municipalities start inter-city bus services. One, centred on Camrose, about 100 kilometres south of Edmonton, has already started and the others are expected to begin over the next three months.

The fragmented inter-city transportation model that is emerging can be a positive change, said Barry Prentice, professor of transportation economics at the University of Manitoba’s Asper School of Business.

Greyhound likely failed in Western Canada in part because its costs were too high and it lacked the flexibility to respond to changing markets because it carried freight as well as passengers, he said.

“As long as they were in the market, it was hard for anyone else to come in. Now that they’re gone, it creates an opportunity,” he said.

Most new services are planning to pick up and drop off passengers at hotels, gas stations or tourist information centres. Prentice said that means they won’t be burdened with the costly terminal network Greyhound had to maintain.

Kendrick said shutting down all routes from northern Ontario to the West Coast involves a “significant cost’ to Greyhound Canada.

He said it’s expected to take several months to sublet its leased real estate and sell its few owned facilities, which include maintenance shops in centres such as Edmonton, Red Deer, Prince Rupert, Prince George and Winnipeg.

The company is laying off about 420 employees. It will move 70 or 80 of its 110 western buses to its ongoing operations in Eastern Canada and sell or scrap the rest.

A Seattle-Vancouver route operated by Greyhound U.S. will continue to use a Vancouver terminal leased by the Canadian arm. Kendrick said the company plans to ask other bus companies to come in as tenants to fill unused capacity there.

Follow @HealingSlowly on Twitter.

Vigil in North York to honour victims of Pittsburgh synagogue shooting

THE CANADIAN PRESS AND NEWS STAFF | posted Monday, Oct 29th, 2018

A vigil will be held in North York on Monday night to honour the victims of a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

Joyce Fienberg was among the 11 people who were killed on Saturday when a gunman opened fire on worshipers at the Tree of Life Synagogue. Fienberg grew up in Toronto and was a member of the Holy Blossom Temple before moving to the U.S. with her husband.

The vigil takes place at 7 p.m. at Mel Lastman Square.

Over the weekend, vigils and rallies were organized in a number of Canadian cities, including Montreal, Ottawa, Halifax and Vancouver.

In Ottawa, more than 300 people packed into the Soloway Jewish Community Centre for a Sunday evening memorial service, lining the walls and taking every available chair — except 11, left vacant on the stage, each bearing the name of one of the victims.

Dena Libman, whose cousin Joyce Fienberg was among those killed, addressed the crowd of residents, religious leaders and politicians from all parties and levels of government.

She said that in the Jewish world, it feels like everyone is a member of the same family — it’s just that some are closer than others.

Afterwards, she said there is healing that comes from gathering as a community.

“I felt the collective grief, and the collective vision to go forward,” she said.

Several armed police officers stood sentry over the event, although Ottawa Police Chief Charles Bordeleau told the crowd there are no existing threats against the community.

Federal Liberal cabinet minister and local MP Catherine McKenna called it sad that such security was a fact of life for Jewish communities.

She pointed to Statistics Canada data showing that Jews were the most targeted minority for hate crimes, saying anti-Semitism is not just an issue for the United States.

“It is times like this that we stand together, that we are outraged together … and that we remember that we are better together,” McKenna said.

Montreal-based Rabbi Reuben Poupko, who is originally from Pittsburgh, said no Jewish community was left untouched by the shooting, which left 11 people dead and six injured, including four police officers.

A vigil set for Monday evening at Montreal’s Beth Israel Beth Aaron synagogue will be a chance for community members to draw hope and strength from each other, he said in a phone interview.

“All of us can relate to what happened,” Poupko said. “We go to synagogues that look just like (Tree of Life) synagogue. Our ties and bonds of history and of solidarity and our values are very strong.”

Poupko said Jewish people have always been targets of hate crimes, both in Canada and elsewhere, but he said they’ve never experienced anything like Saturday’s mass shooting.

“Eleven people murdered in a synagogue in an outrageous act of evil,” he said, becoming emotional as he spoke about 97-year-old Rose Mallinger, a Holocaust survivor who died in the Pittsburgh shooting.

“To survive the Holocaust and find refuge in a free country and lose your life doing what you’re supposed to do, going to synagogue on a Saturday morning … is not a thing that is easily understood,” he said.

Poupko said Montreal’s synagogues were remaining open and the community would continue to fight acts of hate in the only way they know how, “which is to lead lives of tolerance.”

OCS blames Canada Post for lack of cannabis deliveries

NEWS STAFF | posted Monday, Oct 29th, 2018

The Ontario Cannabis Store says it has shipped thousands of online orders to customers and the reason many haven’t recieved them yet is due to Canada Post.

OCS says in the first week of post-legalization, over 150,000 online orders were made. However, CityNews has been inundated with complaints from viewers about the delays in receiving their cannabis. In a statement released Sunday, OCS said while it has adequate product supply, the delays in shipping are “partially due to the mail and package backlog at Canada Post created by rotating work stoppages in the Greater Toronto Area.”

“With over 9,000 workers off the job last week, as well as Canada Post picking up a limited number of orders from OCS, delivery times have been impacted and many customers will continue to see delays,” the statement read. “OCS is working closely with Canada Post and distribution centre staff to ensure packages are moving as quickly as possible.”

When asked about potential delays in delivery back on Oct. 18, Finance Minister Vic Fedeli insisted a postal strike would not derail deliveries and that the government had a “backup plan” but failed to provide any details at that time.

OCS indicated that customers should see an improvement in delivery this week as tens of thousands of packages were picked up by Canada Post this weekend.

OCS says it has also increased its capacity to speak respond to customers following complaints of long wait times on the phone with customer service reps.

“Our staff continues to work around the clock to fulfill customer orders, and respond to customer inquiries from calls and emails.”

 

Indonesia Lion Air flight with 189 on board crashes into sea

ACHMAD IBRAHIM AND STEPHEN WRIGHT, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Monday, Oct 29th, 2018

A Lion Air plane carrying 189 people crashed into the sea just minutes after taking off from Indonesia’s capital on Monday in a blow to the country’s aviation safety record after the lifting of bans on its airlines by the European Union and U.S.

Indonesia’s disaster agency posted photos online of a crushed smartphone, books, bags and parts of the aircraft fuselage that had been collected by search and rescue vessels.

President Joko Widodo ordered the transport safety commission to investigate and urged Indonesians to “keep on praying” as rescuers search for victims. A transport official said the flight requested to return shortly after takeoff from Jakarta. Weather conditions were normal but the brand new aircraft had experienced a technical issue on its previous flight.

Lion Air said the jet, on a 1 hour and 10 minute flight to Pangkal Pinang on an island chain off Sumatra, was carrying 181 passengers, including one child and two babies, and eight crew members.

Distraught friends and relatives prayed and hugged each other as they waited at Pangkal Pinang’s airport and at a crisis centre set up at Jakarta’s airport. Indonesian TV broadcast pictures of a fuel slick and debris field in the ocean.

The National Search and Rescue Agency’s deputy chief, Nugroho Budi Wiryanto, said about 300 people including soldiers, police and local fishermen were involved in the search and that so far it has recovered no bodies — only ID cards, personal belongings and aircraft debris.

“We are waiting for the miracle from God,” said Wiryanto, when asked if there were any hope of survivors.

At the agency’s headquarters in Jakarta, family members waited desperately for news.

Feni, who uses a single name, said her soon to be married sister was on the flight, planning to meet relatives in Pangkal Pinang.

“We are here to find any information about my younger sister, her fiance, her in-law to be and a friend of them,” said Feni.

“We don’t have any information,” she said, as her father wiped tears from reddened eyes. “No one provided us with any information that we need. We’re confused. We hope that our family is still alive.”

Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani also arrived at the agency and met with its chief, seeking information about 20 ministry staff who were on the flight after attending a ministry event in Jakarta.

The search and rescue agency said the flight ended in waters off West Java that are 30 to 35 metres (98 to 115 feet) deep.

The agency’s chief, Muhammad Syaugi, told a news conference that divers are trying to locate the wreckage.

Weather conditions for the flight were safe, according to the Indonesian meteorology agency. It said the type of clouds associated with turbulence was not present and winds were weak.

The Boeing 737 Max 8 was delivered to Lion Air in mid-August and put in use within days, according to aviation website Flightradar24. Malindo Air, a Malaysian subsidiary of Jakarta-based Lion Air, was the first airline to being using the 737 Max 8 last year. The Max 8 replaced the similar 800 in the Chicago-based plane maker’s product line.

Lion Air president-director Edward Sirait said the plane had a “technical problem” on its previous flight from Bali to Jakarta but it had been fully remedied. He didn’t know specifics of the problem when asked in a TV interview. The pilot of Flight 610 had more than 6,000 flying hours while the co-pilot had more than 5,000 hours, according to the airline.

“Indeed there were reports about a technical problem, and the technical problem has been resolved in accordance with the procedures released by the plane manufacturer,” he said. “I did not know exactly but let it be investigated by the authorities.”

Boeing Co. said it was “deeply saddened” by the crash and was prepared to provide technical assistance to Indonesia’s crash probe.

In a statement, the Chicago-based manufacturer expressed its concern for the 189 people onboard and offered “heartfelt sympathies to their families and loved ones.”

The Transport Ministry said the plane took off from Jakarta at about 6:20 a.m. and crashed just 13 minutes later. Data from FlightAware showed it had reached an altitude of only 5,200 feet (1,580 metres).

The crash is the worst airline disaster in Indonesia since an AirAsia flight from Surabaya to Singapore plunged into the sea in December 2014, killing all 162 on board.

Indonesian airlines were barred in 2007 from flying to Europe because of safety concerns, though several were allowed to resume services in the following decade. The ban was completely lifted in June this year. The U.S. lifted a decadelong ban in 2016.

Lion Air, a discount carrier, is one of Indonesia’s youngest and biggest airlines, flying to dozens of domestic and international destinations.

In 2013, one of its Boeing 737-800 jets missed the runway while landing on Bali, crashing into the sea without causing any fatalities among the 108 people on board.

Wright reported from Jakarta. AP writers Niniek Karmini and Ali Kotarumalos in Jakarta contributed to this report.

‘Twas the weekend before Halloween in Toronto

CHRISTINE CHUBB AND PATRICIA D'CUNHA | posted Friday, Oct 26th, 2018

‘Twas the weekend before Halloween, when all through the house, all the creatures were stirring and even a mouse. Okay, that is a bit dramatic, but c’mon it is Halloween!

This is not a trick, but a treat. The Gardiner Expressway was supposed to be shut down this weekend for annual fall maintenance, but with rain in the forecast, the closure will now take place next week.

To add to the fun, there are a bunch of events taking place this weekend — some Halloween in nature. Below are some suggestions.

If you planning to take the TTC this weekend, a portion of Line 1 will be closed and section of Line 2 will open late on Sunday.

Events

Beetlejuice
“Day-o, day-o …” It is hard to believe that 30 years ago Michael Keaton scared and dazzled us with his portrayal of the ghoul Bettlejuice. The Tim Burton movie, with a superb soundtrack by Danny Elfman, was not only a cult classic but was one of the usual go-to movies during Halloween. If you haven’t seen it, or want to watch it again for the 100th time, “Jump in the Line” at the Revue Cinema, which will be screening the movie from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. Now everyone sing! “Shake, shake, shake, Senora … jump in the line, rock your body in time.”

Day of the Dead
Hallowe’en isn’t the only celebration quickly approaching. This Sunday, Evergreen Brickworks will be celebrating Dia de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, with food, music, live performances and family fun activities. The Artisan Market will incorporate traditional Latin celebrations, fun family activities and delicious food and drink. Tamales, carnitas, atole and churros will be among some of the yummy treats available. Kids can enjoy skull face painting as well as crafts. There will also be live music, dancing and storytelling. The event will he held on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Weedstock
Weed is legal in Canada so why not find out everything you can about cannabis this weekend at Weedstock — the Cannabis Living Expo. The Better Living Centre will host this three day event starting Friday, which will feature a marketplace with a full array of cannabis lifestyle products and services. Medical experts will be on hand to answer all your questions about the health benefits of cannabis. Seminars will be held through the day on such topics as learning to make edibles, how to grow your own plants and starting a small businesses in the cannabis industry. The event welcomes both the curious and the connoisseur.

Pedestrian Sundays
It is the last one until next spring, so head down to Kensington Market on Sunday for the street party. Enjoy the unique shops and vendors, while you soak up the live music and dance. Be sure to stop by the art fair as well. The event runs from noon to 7 p.m. Road closures will be in effect in the area.

Run to Quit 5k
Quitting smoking is extremely difficult so why not celebrate the accomplishment this weekend by giving your lungs a workout. The Break Free 5K is Walk or Run to Quit at Ashbridges Bay Park is a way to bring friends and family together to promote healthy and happy lifestyles. There will be areas to play along the way — in case the kids get a little bored. Register a family of 2-5 participants for $50, individual $25 and kids under 12 are free. For more details on the run, click here. The race takes place on Saturday and starts at 11 a.m.

TTC closures

Subway closures
If you are planning to take the TTC weekend, subway service will be affected on two lines. Trains won’t be running on Line 1 between Lawrence and St. Clair stations on Saturday and Sunday due to work on the Eglinton Crosstown LRT.

On Sunday, subway service on Line 2 from St. George to Broadview stations will start at 10 a.m. due to beam replacement work on the Prince Edward Viaduct. Shuttle buses will be running.

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