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TORONTO STAR

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Trump blames media for Charlottesville response as tensions flare at Phoenix rally

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 12:07:12 EDT


PHOENIX—U.S.President Donald Trump is blaming the media for the widespread condemnation of his response to a Charlottesville, Va., protest organized by white supremacists that led to the killing of a counterprotester.

Trump opened his political rally in Phoenix with a call for unity, saying, “What happened in Charlottesville strikes at the core of America and tonight, this entire arena stands united in forceful condemnation of the thugs that perpetrated hatred and violence.”

But he quickly trained his ire on the media, shouting that he “openly called for healing unity and love” in the immediate aftermath of Charlottesville and claiming the media had misrepresented him. He read from his three responses to the violence — getting more animated with each one.

Democrats and fellow Republicans had denounced Trump for placing blame for the Charlottesville violence on “both sides.”

Trump spoke after Vice-President Mike Pence and others called repeatedly for unity.

Housing Secretary Ben Carson and Dr. Alveda King, the niece of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr., were among the openers. Franklin Graham, son of the evangelist Billy Graham, led the rally-goers in prayer, saying, “We’re divided racially, and we’re adrift morally.”

Read more:

Stop saying ‘Mexico is not going to pay for the wall,’ Trump urges Mexican president in leaked transcript

Trump’s plan to win in Afghanistan involves sending 3,900 more troops, officials say

Donald Trump again echoes white supremacists over removal of ‘our beautiful’ Confederate statues

Outside the Phoenix convention centre, shouting matches and minor scuffles erupted between Trump supporters and protesters gathered near the site of his latest campaign rally. Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton had asked Trump to delay his political event to allow for more time of national healing after Charlottesville.

Trump teased a pardon for former sheriff Joe Arpaio, asking the crowd what they thought of him. Loud cheers erupted. The former Maricopa County sheriff is awaiting sentencing after his conviction in federal court for disobeying court orders to stop his immigration patrols.

“So was Sheriff Joe convicted for doing his job?” Trump asked. “I’ll make a prediction: I think he’s going to be just fine.”

Earlier, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump wouldn’t discuss or take action on a pardon “at any point today,” even though the president had told Fox News he was considering it.

Trump said at the rally that the only reason he wouldn’t make a move from the stage was to avoid controversy for the moment.In the comfort of his most fervent fans, Trump often resurrects his freewheeling 2016 campaign style, pinging insults at perceived enemies such as the media and meandering from topic to topic without a clear theme.

Neither of Arizona’s two Republican senators appeared with Trump.

Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, a conservative, has been a frequent target of Trump’s wrath.

The president tweeted last week: “Great to see that Dr. Kelli Ward is running against Flake Jeff Flake, who is WEAK on borders, crime and a non-factor in Senate. He’s toxic!” Flake has been on tour promoting his book that says the Republican Party’s embrace of Trump has left conservatism withering.

Ward planned to attend Trump’s rally, sparking talk that the president could take the politically extraordinary step of endorsing her from the stage over an incumbent Republican senator.

In a modest but telling swipe at Ward and, by extension, at Trump, the Senate Leadership Fund, a political committee closely aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, is spending $10,000 on digital ads that say of her, “Not conservative, just crazy ideas.”

Arizona’s other senator, John McCain, is undergoing treatment for an aggressive form of brain cancer. Trump has been critical of McCain for voting against a Republican health care bill.

Tuesday’s events put Trump in more comfortable political territory than in recent days.

He began his Arizona visit with a brief trip to the southern edge of the country.

While touring a Marine Corps base in Yuma that is a hub of operations for the U.S. Border Patrol, Trump inspected a drone and other border equipment on display in a hangar.

Trump shook his head as he was shown a series of everyday objects, such as a fire extinguisher, that had been refashioned to secretly transport drugs across the border. Afterward, he spent about 20 minutes greeting service members in the gruelling, 106-degree heat, signing caps with his “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan and posing for selfies on the tarmac just steps from Air Force One.

Upending a campaign vow to end the country’s longest war, Trump on Monday announced in a national address a plan to maintain to a U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. Senior U.S. officials said Trump’s strategy may involve sending up to 3,900 more troops, with some deployments beginning almost immediately.

Some of Trump’s core voters had already been unhappy about the recent ouster of conservative Steve Bannon as White House chief strategist.

Bannon had made it his mission to remind Trump of what his most fervent supporters want from his presidency. Some conservative strategists have openly worried that without Bannon around, Trump will be too influenced by establishment Republicans on issues such as Afghanistan policy.


Uniqlo workers at Toronto Eaton‚??s Centre reject joining a union

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 20:48:54 EDT


Employees at the Uniqlo store at Toronto Eaton Centre voted Tuesday against joining a union that organizers had hoped would be able to improve working conditions at the Japanese retailer’s first Canadian location.

“I voted yes for better working conditions, for better scheduling and also for respect,” said Jasper Lim, 22, a part-time employee and history student at the University of Toronto.

“I feel disappointed by the results because I definitely thought it would succeed.”

Only 35 of the 120 employees who voted on Tuesday — 169 were eligible to vote — cast ballots in favour of joining Workers United Canada, a union with roots in the garment trade. Eighty-four employees voted against the union and one ballot was spoiled, said Tanya Ferguson, organizing co-ordinator for Workers United Canada Council.

Just a week earlier, the union had the support of more than 40 per cent of employees, who had signed union cards, triggering the vote.

Ferguson and Lim said that after management was notified of the union drive, employees in routine team meetings, held at the start of every shift, were told that they would take home less money if they joined a union because they would have to pay union dues.

Employees were also led to believe that they would no longer be able to speak directly to managers about their working conditions, Lim said.

“They created a campaign that was based on fear and they disseminated some misinformation,” said Lim.

Scheduling emerged as a key issue. Employees are scheduled to work shifts that include an unpaid hour-long lunch and an unpaid half-hour break later in the shift, which means they must be available for 9.5 hours of work while only being paid for eight.

Yasuhiro Hayashi, Uniqlo Canada chief operating officer, said the success of the store to date has been due to the hard work of employees and that he sees the vote as an opportunity for the company to improve how they engage with employees moving forward.

But there are no plans to change the scheduling system.

“We want the employees to be productive and energized and feel recharged,” said Hayashi. “I would say that working this 9.5 hours works best for not just employees, but also for the store as well.”

He said employees were not told they would not be able to engage with managers if they unionized.

“We were just one step away from having a union,” said employee Chicheng Wat, 35.

“I hope this encourages other people to unionize — not just those at Uniqlo, but others in the retail sector. This is not something undoable.”


Trump: ‚??We‚??ll end up probably terminating NAFTA‚??

Wed, 23 Aug 2017 07:03:29 EDT


WASHINGTON—Donald Trump has threatened to blow up NAFTA less than one week into the renegotiation of the trade agreement, providing an early indication that the upcoming talks might occur under a cloud of menace.

The president’s threat itself is no surprise. A common topic of hallway chatter at last week’s first round of talks last week was just when he might deploy that withdrawal threat, which many view as his principal source of negotiating leverage.

The only surprise is how quickly it came.

“Personally, I don’t think we can make a deal,” Trump told a campaign-style rally in Arizona late Tuesday night. “Because we have been so badly taken advantage of. They have made such great deals — both of the countries, but in particular Mexico — that I don’t think we can make a deal.

“So I think we’ll end up probably terminating NAFTA at some point.”

He repeated it: “I told you from the first day, we will renegotiate NAFTA or we will terminate NAFTA. I personally don’t think you can make a deal without termination but we’ll see what happens. You’re in good hands, I can tell you.”

He’s made the threat numerous times, but this is the first time he’s done it since Canada, the U.S. and Mexico began talks last week.

Read more:Trump to rip up NAFTA? Not so fast: Olive

Trump’s NAFTA list is long but does not signal massive changes, Canada’s U.S. ambassador says

What to expect at the NAFTA talks

Mexico’s foreign minister shrugged it off as a leverage play: “No surprise: we’re in a negotiation,” Luis Videgaray tweeted in response. “Mexico will remain at the table with calmness, firmness, and in the national interest.”

Insiders say they expect him to keep making these threats. It’s his main source of power to force the other countries to reach an agreement. One well-connected Washington lobbyist at last week’s talks said he was convinced the threat was coming: “Almost 100 per cent.”

The former deputy trade czar under Barack Obama said it’s an obvious move and he thinks the president made it too early. In an interview several weeks ago, Robert Holleyman said it was a serious tactical error when Trump made the threat in April.

He said Canada and Mexico gained valuable insight that will render Trump’s threats less powerful at the negotiating table: in April, the U.S. Congress pushed back against him, the business community fumed, and his own cabinet members pleaded against it.

“It was, at a minimum, terrible timing,” said Holleyman, Obama’s deputy United States Trade Representative.

“You do that at the 11th hour in the negotiation — not at the throat-clearing stage . . . I suspect President Trump will be unable to play that card again. And if he does play it, it won’t be as strong as it would’ve been . . . The Canadians and Mexicans will say, ‘You . . . will face a huge backlash in your own Congress.””

That episode in April underscored the complexity of ending NAFTA.

Without the support of Congress, a president might withdraw the U.S. from the international agreement, but he could not singlehandedly wave away the law on the U.S. books that implemented NAFTA.

An international economic law professor and former State Department lawyer said he believes it would ultimately end up in court. And he said U.S. courts would ultimately conclude that the president can’t rip up NAFTA without congressional support.

That’s because the president can’t just erase the 1994 NAFTA Implementation Act passed by Congress. Only Congress can pass laws. In addition, the U.S. Constitution makes clear that Congress has power over international commerce.

“If the president were to rip up NAFTA, and then sort of jack tariffs way up, I think somebody would be able to come in and say . . . ‘You’re actually violating U.S. domestic law,’” said Tim Meyer, a Vanderbilt professor, former government lawyer, and onetime clerk for Neil Gorsuch, whom Trump appointed to the Supreme Court.

“I think courts are going to be sympathetic to the idea that the president can’t ignore the legislation that implements these trade agreements. Congress has not repealed that legislation, and they’ve given no indication they intend to.”

That being said, several observers suggest a presidential attempt to withdraw could set up a legal and political tug of war with Congress over the setting of new tariff schedules — and that would foster economic uncertainty.


Province tries to block Dalton McGuinty testifying at lawsuit

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 18:20:55 EDT


The province and Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. are trying to block a ruling that orders former premier Dalton McGuinty, his finance minister and other senior officials to answer questions under oath about the 2012 cancellation of a lucrative slot machine revenue-sharing program.

The case centres around a $65-million civil claim by a group of horse breeders who argue they’ve been unfairly cut out of revenues from slot machines at racetracks. A 1998 slot agreement allowed for money from the machines to be shared among the province, horse breeders and racetracks annually.

But the province announced on March 12, 2012, it was ending the plan with a year’s notice, opting to reallocate slot revenues for health care and other government initiatives.

The breeders allege that before an important February 2012 cabinet meeting on the revenue-sharing plan, some powerful people met secretly and resolved to get the slots deal axed.

The breeders say they launched their claim after the province and OLG paid $80 million in compensation to track owners, but refused to discuss compensating breeders. The breeders say that before the cancellation they’d been encouraged by the province to keep breeding horses.

The matter is being heard in the Superior Court of Justice in Guelph by Justice Michael Emery.

The suit against the province includes claims of breach of contract, negligence and unjust enrichment. The province and OLG are trying to have the suit tossed out, claiming in statements of defence that they’ve done nothing improper.

Earlier this month, over objections from the province and OLG, Emery ordered that McGuinty, former finance minister Dwight Duncan and 11 others including their chiefs of staff, economist Don Drummond and Rod Seiling, the former chair of the Ontario Racing Commission, give evidence under oath relating to the cancellation of the revenue-sharing.

But this week the province and OLG filed a motion seeking leave to appeal Emery’s decision, and in the meantime, a stay of the summons that calls on McGuinty and the others to give evidence.

In their motion, set to be heard at Divisional Court in Toronto, the province and OLG argue in part that Emery didn’t apply the proper legal test when it came to their bid to quash the breeders’ requests for McGuinty and the others to come forward.

Emery had suggested that the onus was on the province and OLG to prove the summonses should be quashed, which effectively reversed the onus in established case law, lawyers for the province and OLG argue in their latest motion.

Jonathan Lisus, a lawyer for the breeders, said Tuesday that Emery applied the law correctly and gave a “balanced sensible decision” that the witnesses being asked to come forward were connected to the decision to cancel the revenue sharing, and therefore have relevant evidence to give to the court.

In an email, Tony Bitonti, an OLG spokesperson said “as the matter continues to be before the courts, it would not be appropriate to comment.”

Ministry of the Attorney General spokesperson Emilie Smith issued a similar statement.


The Rebel open to a reboot after controversies, founder Ezra Levant says

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 22:06:14 EDT


OTTAWA—The founder of the online news site The Rebel admits its content and management need more oversight in the wake of a string of controversies.

One reporter was fired, another founder quit and two other contributors resigned last week after the outlet came under intense criticism for its coverage of deadly riots in Virginia.

Ezra Levant is now admitting things need to change, saying he’s been a flawed leader who has made mistakes.

He says he’s going to bring in better oversight of both the business and editorial side of the operation and hire new journalists.

He’s also pledging greater transparency for the outlet’s finances, after two other former contributors levied a string of allegations over where The Rebel’s largely crowdsourced budget is actually going.

Levant detailed the proposed changes in a statement late Tuesday, following a memo last week where he sought to distance The Rebel from allegations it’s aligned with the so-called “alt-right.”

Read more:

Why did conservative politicians wait so long to renounce The Rebel? Steward

Scheer says he’ll reject interviews with The Rebel until it changes editorial direction

Co-founder of The Rebel, Brian Lilley, leaves the conservative media website


Study questions why thousands with developmental disabilities are prescribed antipsychotics

Wed, 23 Aug 2017 00:01:00 EDT


Thousands of people with Down syndrome, autism and other developmental disabilities are being prescribed anti-psychotic medication by Ontario doctors despite a lack of evidence that the drugs actually help them, a new study has found.

Researchers with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences have called for “guidelines and training around antipsychotic prescribing and monitoring” for doctors, pharmacists and care home staff after finding that nearly 40 per cent of people with developmental disabilities were prescribed antipsychotic drugs at some point over a six-year period.

One-third of the patients prescribed antipsychotics had no documented diagnosis of mental illness, according to the study which tracked over 51,000 people with developmental disabilities who are eligible for provincial drug benefits.

“We don’t know, with the data, why this one person was prescribed or this (other) person was prescribed so we’re trying to almost guess at why,” psychologist and lead author of the study Yona Lunsky said.

“It could be behaviour, aggression, self-injury, agitation.”

For people with developmental disabilities who live in group homes, the rate of antipsychotic prescriptions was even higher.

About 56 per cent of developmentally disabled group home residents were prescribed antipsychotics. Of those, around 43 per cent had no documented mental health issues.

There is “inconclusive” evidence that antipsychotics are effective in treating the behaviour of developmentally disabled patients who do not have a mental illness, Lunsky said.

While some studies show antipsychotics can be effective in individual cases, over a short period of time, there is no reliable evidence on long-term use of antipsychotics by people with developmental disabilities, Lunsky said. And it is unlikely that all antipsychotic users found in the study need to be taking them, she added.

“There’s no way every single one of those people is on that drug for the right reasons and being very carefully monitored.”

It’s overly simplistic, though, to assume doctors are just prescribing antipsychotics as a “quick fix” for challenging behaviour, Lunsky said.

One of the major factors behind the number of prescriptions could be the fact that medications are often the most affordable and easily accessible method of treatment for families and caregivers struggling to manage the aggression, agitation, self-injury or other challenging behaviours of a person with developmental disabilities.

The majority of adults in the province with intellectual and developmental disabilities are covered by the Ontario Disability Support Program, which offers benefits for prescription medications, Lunsky said.

While a person with developmental disabilities may benefit from seeing a psychologist, psychiatrist, behaviour therapist or other specialized professional, they will either have to spend months on waiting lists or pay out of pocket for faster access.

Certain behaviours of people with developmental disabilities can also be misinterpreted by doctors or caregivers as signs of psychosis, Lunsky said.

“You could think somebody who is talking to themselves all the time is hearing voices (but) it may be just the way that person rehearses or thinks things out, or something that calms them down when they’re anxious,” Lunsky said.

Prescription rates in group homes could be higher because people tend to have a more complex set of issues or be under more stress, Lunsky added.

Even for people with developmental disabilities and mental health issues that are commonly treated with antipsychotics, careful monitoring is vital.

“It’s really important to recognize that there is a place for antipsychotic mediation, (to) help patients in crisis to come back to base line,” said Roger Oxenham, whose daughter has developmental disabilities and has been diagnosed with personality, anxiety, bipolar and obsessive compulsive disorders.

“But . . . it really takes a significant amount of consultation to understand what these drugs are about, not just the positive impact of the drug but what the negatives are.”

It can be “hit and miss” trying to find a medication that works for a patient with a dual diagnosis of developmental disabilities and mental health issues, and doctors should speak with family members and caregivers to get a better sense of what drugs might be most effective for a patient, Oxenham said.

Side effects are a serious concern for anyone who takes powerful antipsychotics, which can, for instance, cause problems with movement and dramatic weight gain and raise the risk of diabetes and hypertension.

But people with developmental disabilities may be more sensitive to side effects while at the same time, less capable of articulating to doctors how they are experiencing them.

Ultimately, more information is required on the reasons why antipsychotics are being prescribed to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, Lunsky said. And more knowledge on the needs of people with developmental disabilities is required across the board.

“Everybody needs to be educated about this, whether it’s the person who is taking the medication, staff who work in group homes, families and all the people who look after a person with intellectual disabilities,” Lunsky said.

“How can we educate our pharmacists who play a role in this, and for sure our physicians?”


Suspended Hamilton officer arrested by Toronto police is facing more criminal charges

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 20:01:14 EDT


A suspended Hamilton police officer awaiting trial after a 2015 Toronto police raid saw him charged with allegedly helping a drug trafficking organization is now facing 16 new criminal charges.

On Tuesday, Craig Ruthowsky, who worked on the Hamilton police department’s gangs and weapons enforcement unit, was charged with bribery, two counts of breach of trust, two counts of obstructing justice, public mischief, two counts of weapons trafficking, fraud under $5,000, trafficking marijuana, perjury, two counts of conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, robbery and two counts of trafficking cocaine.

It was pre-arranged that Ruthowsky would turn himself in at a police station Tuesday morning and then appear in a Toronto court, where he was released on bail, said his lawyer, Greg Lafontaine.

The 43-year-old is already committed to stand trial on charges of corruptly accepting moneys, attempting to obstruct justice, trafficking cocaine and criminal breach of trust. That trial is set to begin Feb. 20, 2018.

Lafontaine described the newest charges, which will be tried separately, as “historical” from Ruthowsky’s time as a guns and gangs investigator in Hamilton before his suspension in 2012.

“They’re effectively more of the same,” he said, noting more “full-time criminals” have come forward since Ruthowsky’s criminal case has been in the news.

Ruthowsky was arrested in a June 2015 raid during Toronto police’s Project Pharaoh and accused of being part of a Hamilton criminal group connected to the Toronto street gang Monstarz. He was initially denied bail and spent five weeks in jail before being released.

Hamilton police confirmed the latest charges in a news release issued Tuesday afternoon but declined to comment further as the case is before the courts.

As part of his guns and gangs investigative work, Ruthowsky worked closely with informants in the criminal underworld. Lafontaine said dealing with people “at the bottom of the social barrel” was a hazard of the work Ruthowsky did and left him vulnerable to these types of accusations.

Ruthowsky was “disappointed” to learn of the new charges, but he and his legal team feel “confident” they will prove his innocence, Lafontaine said, questioning the credibility of Crown witnesses.

In an interview Tuesday, Mark Dobrowski claimed at least one of the new charges is related to allegations that Ruthowsky had an informant set him up with a gun in his former home.

Dobrowski claims he served 51 months in prison after police found a gun in his then Hamilton home on April 30, 2010. He was sentenced to four years, three months and 20 days on Nov. 5, 2010.

Dobrowski admits to being a former leader of the gang Original Blood Brothers and has a criminal record. “I was a bad person. I’m out of the lifestyle now,” he said.

He claimed Hamilton police officially informed him Ruthowsky had been charged Tuesday morning. “I lost a lot of time in my life … nothing can bring it back,” he said.

Ruthowsky remains suspended with pay.

Hamilton police first suspended him in June 2012 amid an investigation into allegations that he improperly disclosed licence plate information from the Canadian Police Information Centre.

He was charged with breach of trust and obstructing justice, but those criminal charges were stayed in October 2013 over concern that the case could identify an informant. The related disciplinary case was still pending when Toronto police burst through his door and arrested him in June 2015.

Ruthowsky’s former partner, Robert Hansen, was suspended and charged at the same time in 2012.

Hansen was convicted of perjury and obstructing justice after he encouraged an informant to plant a gun at a suspected drug trafficker’s home in 2012 and then lied to secure a search warrant.

Hansen was sentenced in June 2016 to five years in prison and resigned that August.

Darren Mork, the man targeted by Hansen, filed a $1.5-million lawsuit against him and Hamilton police. Mork’s lawyer, Nick Cake, said they are working toward setting a trial date.

Anyone with information about the Ruthowsky case is asked to contact Det. Troy Ashbaugh at 905-546-4951.


Toronto psychiatrist stripped of licence for romantic relationship with patient

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 16:59:35 EDT


In a display of its tougher stance on misconduct involving patient-doctor relationships, the discipline committee of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario has revoked the licence of a psychiatrist who entered into a romantic relationship with a patient he intends to marry.

Whereas similar conduct in previous cases was typically met with suspensions, the decision to strip Toronto doctor Nagi Ghabbour’s licence is likely a response to criticism that the committee was being too lenient in the past, critics say.

Ghabbour is only the second Ontario physician to lose his licence for beginning a relationship with a patient too soon after the end of the doctor-patient relationship.

“The very nature of the relationship, the profound vulnerability of this specific patient and Dr. Ghabbour’s lack of insight into the egregiousness of the misconduct led the committee to decide that revocation is the only suitable penalty to fully protect the public in the circumstances of this case,” a five-member panel of the discipline committee wrote in a decision released Tuesday.

“Sexual relationships with prior psychotherapeutic patients are likely never advisable, nor likely ever in the best interest of the patient. Public trust and protection must be the guiding principle for the profession to do no harm.”

Ghabbour, 55, will be eligible to reapply for his licence in one year, but will have to prove that he has learned from his misconduct, the panel said. His lawyer did not return the Star’s request for comment.

Ghabbour admitted at his discipline hearing in February to professional misconduct in that he began a relationship with Patient A, whose name is covered by a publication ban, about a month after he stopped being her psychiatrist.

The panel heard in February that the pair are living together — Patient A even attended the discipline hearing — and that they intend to marry.

The college had argued that Ghabbour’s licence should be revoked, but the doctor’s lawyer pushed for a nine- to 12-month suspension with a condition that Ghabbour receive therapy.

While admitting during the penalty phase of the hearing that dating a patient so soon after the end of their professional relationship was a serious boundary violation and a “huge lapse in judgment,” Ghabbour also testified: “I love her, I adore her, and I respect her.”

Ghabbour’s penalty hearing took place while the provincial government was looking to strengthen the law around sexual abuse and physician-patient relationships in the wake of a Star investigation into doctors still at work after being found guilty of sexually abusing their patients.

The government’s Bill 87 became law in May. It stipulates that a person is still considered a “patient” for one year after they stop seeing the physician. Therefore, any sexual activity within that year would lead to the mandatory revocation of a doctor’s licence. Colleges would also be permitted to extend the period beyond one year.

The bill was not yet law when Ghabbour’s conduct and hearing took place, but the college’s lawyer drew the panel’s attention to it while arguing for revocation. “It’s an indication of where our society is moving in Ontario with regards to this type of conduct,” Elisabeth Widner told the panel.

The discipline panel acknowledged a “shift in societal values” in its decision to revoke.

“The public expects and deserves professionalism and integrity from Ontario doctors and that the college will regulate the profession in the public interest,” the panel wrote. “The committee is very aware of the shift in societal values that is highlighted by the Ontario government’s amendments to the Regulated Health Professions Act (Bill 87).”

Medical malpractice lawyer Paul Harte, who was not involved with the case, said the panel’s decision sends a message that the type of conduct Ghabbour engaged in will not be tolerated, but that it is a message that should have been transmitted long ago.

“They seem to be responding both to the concerns expressed in the media and also concerns expressed by the Minister of Health,” he said.

Patient A had been experiencing stress at work as well as marital difficulties, and was seeing Ghabbour for anxiety and depression, the panel heard in February. Ghabbour provided prescriptions for antidepressants. He also documented suicidal ideation.

She eventually began displaying romantic feelings for him in sessions, which he testified he resisted. Ghabbour maintained he didn’t want to refer her to someone else because he felt she was lacking support in other areas of her life and he wanted to help her.

After one session, she hugged him, and at one point he noted in his charts that the patient was “idealizing him and is seeking a real/physical bond with him,” according to an agreed statement of facts filed at the hearing. He said he made attempts to make clear to her that he was her psychiatrist.

In one of their last sessions, Patient A kissed him on the mouth, Ghabbour testified. Within weeks of Patient A deciding she no longer wanted Ghabbour as her psychiatrist because of her personal feelings toward him, the two began to see each other socially, and the relationship soon became sexual, the panel heard.

“Dr. Ghabbour testified that he was concerned about abandoning Patient A if he referred her for appropriate therapy once the transference was evident,” the panel wrote, referring to when Ghabbour became aware of Patient A’s feelings for him.

“It is atrocious that he chose to terminate treatment and made no attempt to transfer her to another psychiatrist, despite his conclusion that she was suffering from serious psychiatric conditions that included suicidal ideation. His misconduct in pursuit of his own needs has led, in the result, to many patients being abandoned.”

The first doctor to lose their licence for starting a personal relationship too soon after the end of the professional one was Mehdi Horri, whose licence was yanked in March, as a different panel of the discipline committee was still deliberating Ghabbour’s punishment.


Students left to scramble after Islamic high school shuts down

Wed, 23 Aug 2017 05:00:00 EDT


With just two weeks before the school year begins, students at a private Islamic high school in Toronto are “devastated” and scrambling to find other options after they were informed over the weekend it was abruptly shutting down.

Management of the Islamic Foundation School, on Nugget Dr., said the sudden closure of the high school is related to “financial issues.” But the union representing teachers believes the move is a form of “reprisal” against employees who recently unionized — something the school denies.

News of the closure came as a shock to parents and the 150 affected students, many of whom have attended since they were in elementary school, and others who were hoping to graduate from one of the GTA’s oldest Islamic high schools, which opened its doors two decades ago. The foundation’s elementary school will remain open.

“This is so unfair,” said Anas Thakor, who is entering Grade 12. “It was supposed to be such an important year for us,” said Thakor, who inquired at the local Catholic school on Monday after hearing the news, but was told there might not be space to register so late in the summer.

“Chances are I will have to go somewhere far from home, and my friends,” he said.

Rumours about the closure had been swirling for weeks, but the news was confirmed at a heated parents’ meeting Sunday evening.

“We’re still absorbing the shock. We’re sad. We’re very disappointed,” said Jawad Jafry, who has had two children graduate from the high school. His daughter Nafeesah, a lifer, was to start Grade 12 this year.

On Monday, school officials sent parents an email saying “administrative and financial issues” led to the closure.

“The foundation regrets to inform you that unfortunately we will be closing down … due to low enrolment as well as other issues related to the foundation’s administration and finances,” said the letter, signed by principal Viquar Ahmed. “We have been trying to establish a way to keep the school operable in the face of some challenging administrative and financial issues that have arisen, however, despite our best efforts it has become clear that we are unable to do so.”

But students and parents also heard the closure was linked to recent union negotiations.

“The teachers have opted to bargain collectively with the school which is their legal right,” said Jafry. “I think the mosque administration is afraid that employees outside of their schools will want better working conditions and better wages as well. The rationale seems to be that mothballing the high school will send a clear message.”

In May, teachers at the school voted overwhelmingly to unionize, and became one of the first Islamic schools in the country to do so.

At the time, UFCW Local 175 President Shawn Haggerty said 35 full-time teachers sought union representation to address a range of issues including: “a lack of respect in the workplace, time limits on vacations, poor job security, and an inadequate compensation package.”

Another Islamic school in the GTA followed suit, but teachers at others are believed to be watching closely to see how the negotiations play out.

In a release sent out Monday, UFCW accused the school of being “anti-union.”

“It’s upsetting and petty for this employer to put the children in this community at risk rather than treat their employees with dignity and respect,” said Haggerty. “It’s clear this employer is anti-union and will do whatever it takes to prevent their employees from exercising their legal rights,” he said, adding the union was not given any notice about the closure.

“UFCW Local 175 will pursue every legal action possible to prevent the closure of the school, the expulsion of these children, and the termination of these employees,” he said. Ten high school teachers are expected to lose their jobs. The elementary school employs 25 teachers.

But Islamic Foundation School president Mohammed Anwar said this is not a case of union-busting.

“If we are union busting, we would have closed everything,” he said. “But we are continuing the JK-Grade 8 classes, and we will continue to negotiate with the teachers in those grades,” he said. “We have simply decided to keep the sustainable part of the school open for now. The high school is not sustainable,” he said, adding low enrolment was a concern.

Anwar said management has met with the union three times in two months, and was increasingly concerned about the additional costs they would incur in order to meet union demands, and the negotiation process itself.

“We are all volunteers, not experienced union negotiators or anything … but now we will have to hire professionals to accommodate the proper running of a school in a unionized environment,” he said, estimating it will cost $600,000.

He said the decision to close the school was made last week after talks with the union did not produce “concrete financial numbers” as to how much costs would go up for the school year. He said one idea floated, to increase school fees, currently around $450 per month per student, was not feasible.

“The community can’t pay it,” he said. “Our family gross income is between $60,000-80,000, the majority of them. We know the parents who send their kids here … working two jobs, living in basement apartments, and making a sacrifice so their kids get an Islamic atmosphere and a good education.”

Muneeza Sheikh, a partner at Levitt LLP Employment & Labour Law, and legal counsel for Islamic Foundation says: “There is nothing that precludes any employer who is faced with unionization from taking a step back and evaluating if the business can financially survive — and Islamic Foundation is a business — a cost associated with unionizing an entire workforce.”

But Jafry says the financial argument doesn’t add up.

“I don’t know of any parent who was informed about financial problems. That sort of news travels real fast,” said Jafry, adding parents were involved in recent fundraising efforts to expand the school and help purchase a 12-acre property in Ajax for another primary school.

“Now, at the end of August, they suddenly don’t have money and they’re shutting down the high school,” said Jafry. “I think a lot of parents and students feel that our trust has been betrayed. It’s like being slapped in the face for all the years we’ve supported the school with our hard-earned money.”

His daughter Nafeesah says instead of graduating and celebrating alongside her lifelong friends, she will “now have to spend my last year adjusting to the hallways of a new school.”

In a letter to the community, members of the student council said they are still hoping for an amicable resolution.

“Students who believed they were returning to IFS are now scrambling to find a new option, at an hour when the status of enrolment and course selection elsewhere seems bleak,” they say in the letter. “We hope that this decision will be reversed, as it primarily affects our futures.”

But Thakor, believes it may be too late.

“All my friends are enrolling elsewhere,” he said. “I don’t think anyone can risk just waiting around”


Uber's self-driving cars hit Toronto streets ‚?? in manual mode

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 15:01:00 EDT


Uber put a pair of self-driving cars on Toronto streets Tuesday after winning approval from the province for on-road testing of its autonomous vehicle technology.

Two autonomous vehicles (AVs) operating in manual mode will be driving around the University of Toronto campus and surrounding areas starting Tuesday and continuing for the rest of the week. “Manual mode” means that although the cars have self-driving capability, they will be operated by human drivers.

The cars aren’t available for rides: they will be conducting mapping tasks. Uber says it hopes to test the cars in autonomous mode by the end of 2017.

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“This data will support our engineering efforts as we prepare for official testing later this year,” says Susie Heath, a spokesperson for Uber Canada.

Uber announced in May that it would open a research group devoted to driverless car technology in Toronto, creating a third hub and its first outside the U.S. for the company’s AV ambitions.

Last year, Ontario became the first province in Canada to allow on-road testing of AVs. The Ministry of Transportation’s pilot program permits approved companies and research groups to test their vehicles providing that applicants follow certain criteria, including keeping a human in the driver’s seat to monitor vehicle operations at all times.

A spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of Transportation says that seven groups have been approved for on-road testing under the pilot program: Uber, the University of Waterloo, the Erwin Hymer Group, QNX, Continental, X-matik Inc., and Magna. Uber’s two AVs join a fleet of conventional sensor-equipped cars that began collecting mapping data from Toronto’s streets last September.

Uber’s self-driving car tests elsewhere have been accompanied by regulatory disputes. In California, Uber initially refused to apply for permits for the self-driving cars it was operating in San Francisco, arguing that the vehicles don’t meet the state’s definition of autonomous. The New York Times also reported that Uber’s AVs in San Francisco ran several red lights.

The state revoked the vehicles’ registrations, and Uber responded by moving its testing to Arizona, where regulations are more permissive. (An Uber AV in Arizona was involved in a crash, but police said the other driver was at fault.) Uber later obtained the California permits and put its self-driving cars back on the streets.

The cars in San Francisco are also involved in testing and development, not picking up passengers. In Pittsburgh, where Uber’s biggest AV research hub is located, self-driving cars have been picking up passengers — with a safety driver in the front seat — since September 2016.

The company has had a tumultuous year. A former engineer alleged that she had been sexually harassed at work, prompting an investigation into Uber’s workplace culture. Waymo, Google’s self-driving unit, is suing Uber, claiming that a former engineer stole thousands of files on a critical piece of hardware before founding a company that was acquired by Uber (Uber later fired him). Dogged by controversies and grappling with his mother’s death in a boating accident, CEO Travis Kalanick stepped down in June and has not yet been replaced.

Ontario has said it wants to position itself at the forefront of the emerging autonomous vehicle market, which some — including Uber — believe will be worth billions of dollars. The province also cites the potential for more environmentally-friendly and safer roads, since automated drivers are not prone to distraction or drinking and driving, like humans are.


It doesn‚??t get butter than this: Sculptors make butter Trudeau, capybara at CNE

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 20:21:12 EDT


When David Salazar leaves the Canadian National Exhibition, his hands are incredibly moisturized and his whole body smells like butter.

“Your arms, your body is glistening,” said Salazar.

“Everything you eat, everything you handle, you can feel the butter on it.”

Salazar is the lead artist at this year’s butter sculpture exhibit at the CNE. So far he’s made a butter version of a High Park capybara and the infamous Ikea monkey — and he’s collaborating on a buttery Justin Trudeau cuddling two baby pandas.

Salazar crafts his high-calorie creations behind a glass screen in a refrigerated box, while fairgoers gawk and take photos.

It’s slippery and cold inside the sculpting fridge — about 10 C — but it smells delicious. As a butter lover, Salazar says it can take willpower to resist sneaking a taste.

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“Of course I’m tempted! I love butter!” he said, laughing. During the Ex, Salazar will spend about six hours a day handling globs of unsalted butter, but he’s not sick of it yet. “So far I still butter my toast in the morning.”

By the end of the fair, there’ll be more than a dozen butter sculptures by 11 different artists in the box, said Salazar — including the rest of the capybara family and the doughnut-stealing raccoon who made headlines in 2015. The artists will use 2,700 pounds of butter in total, which all gets composted at the end, a CNE spokesperson said.

Salazar wears a coat and hat inside the chilly fridge — but the butter still seeps through his sturdy work gloves. When he pulls them off, his hands are shining and remarkably soft.

“It’s pretty funny working with butter. It’s a little surreal,” said Salazar, who says dealing with the cold is one of the hardest parts of butter art.

Butter sculptures are a long-running tradition at the CNE, dating back to the 1950s. Memorable past sculptures include Rob Ford reading a Margaret Atwood novel, Yoda and Toronto’s favourite dead raccoon — all created by Olenka Kleban, who organized this year’s show.

The theme this year is “Wild in the 6,” and features famous GTA animals. On Tuesday, Salazar started work on a giant hog — an homage to Hogtown. He first builds an internal frame out of wood and metal lath, before sculpting around it with dozens of kilograms of buttery goodness.

The unsalted butter comes in 25-kilogram boxes (nutritional information included), and has to soften for a day or two outside the fridge before it’s ready for sculpting.

On Tuesday afternoon, Sean Kosonic carved detailing into Justin Trudeau’s face using a small butter knife with “Spread Love” on it. He’s one of several artists working on Butter Trudeau over the course of the Ex, slowly adding details to perfect his creamy likeness.

“Chiselled faces are always easier,” said Kosonic, as he smoothed the prime minister’s buttery lips. “When someone has a good nose, it’s a good place to start.”

He and Salazar are both graduates of OCAD University and don’t usually work in such a high-cholesterol medium. Kosonic is a metalworker, while Salazar sculpts with clay and works on public sculptures. The CNE butter artists are often OCAD grads and come from a diverse range of backgrounds.

Both Salazar and Kosonic like working with butter; it’s a fun, versatile material that’s a lot like clay, in a sense.

“We produce a lot of butter, so it’s nice to see what else we can do with it,” said Salazar, who last did butter sculpting in 2007.

As the artists work, people clamour outside the box, pointing and taking pictures. Many ask questions or share their memories of past exhibitions, and Salazar loves seeing kids react with glee.

People often bang on the glass, however, which gives him a lot more empathy for zoo animals.

“At times you feel like a monkey,” he said.

As he worked on the hog, a man stopped by to chat, fondly remembering seeing the butter sculptures as a child.

“I love them, they’re great,” said Steve Beattie. “I don’t know if it’s much to anybody else, but to me it’s part of the CNE. It’s our heritage.”

But not everybody shares his sentiment.

“That’s disgusting!” one man exclaimed as he walked by.

Probably a margarine fan.


Rule-breaking realtors should face stiffer penalties, says OREA

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 15:06:24 EDT


Fines for rule-breaking realtors should be double what they are now so the potential penalties keep pace with the province’s rising housing market, says the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA).

Last year, realtors found guilty of violating the code of ethics faced an average fine of less than $6,000 from the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO), the industry regulator.

The existing penalties were set when the average resale Ontario home cost $211,000. That has now increased to $619,000. It is $759,000 in the Toronto area.

“For those who willingly break the rules, these fines are ‘the cost of doing business,’” said OREA.

In a discussion paper published Tuesday, OREA recommended fines be doubled for violating the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act (REBBA) Code of Ethics. That would put the maximum penalty for salespeople at $50,000, while brokers and brokerages would face fines of up to $100,000.

The discussion paper is meant to elicit feedback from OREA’s 70,000 members to the Ontario Liberal government’s two-part review of the real estate act.

New rules are expected in the fall for agents who represent both a buyer and seller in a single transaction. But a more comprehensive review will continue next year.

“The act is 15 years old. A lot has changed since 2002,” said Matthew Thornton, OREA vice-president of public affairs and communications.

He said the review is an opportunity to look at how the industry can “make sure it’s representing best practices that are in place in other provinces, that it is strengthening consumer protection and really just modernizing it.”

In addition to the higher fines, OREA says RECO needs to be able to order realtors to return profits made through breaches of the act.

“Fines may not cover the entire fee earned as a result of unethical activity. In other words, even under a system of higher fines registrants could still profit from unethical behaviour,” said the OREA paper.

It also wants RECO to have the authority to revoke or suspend a realtor’s registration to practise, a finding that can be overturned by an appeals tribunal under the current system.

In an emailed statement from RECO registrar Joseph Richer, the regulator also supports higher fines and the ability to make realtors repay profits achieved by unethical practices. It also agrees with the need to have the authority to revoke registrations.

There were 70,284 registered realtors in Ontario in 2014 and 73,751 in 2015. But that number shot up to 78,780 last year, according to OREA. Of those, 48,117 were real estate salespeople.

The number of inquiries (for information) was down last year to 25,497 from 26,346 in 2015.

Earlier this month, OREA officials held an online town hall pledging to hold RECO to account for industry standards and practice.

The Ontario association is rebranding itself since RECO awarded its core mission as an industry education provider to Humber College.

OREA will issue three more white papers before the end of the year on education and realtor ethics.

Continuing education is a particular concern, said Thornton. Agents have to take a $44 online course every two years to maintain their registration.

“The sentiment in the industry about continuing education is that the process that RECO is offering is not where it should be,” he said.

Most registered realtors pay a $390 annual fee to RECO and $110 annually to OREA.


Martha Henry to play Prospero in new Stratford version of The Tempest

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 14:56:29 EDT


From Martha Henry as Prospero to Robert Lepage’s directing debut to The Rocky Horror Show, the Stratford Festival’s 2018 season, announced Tuesday, sees the company taking risks and pushing boundaries — even if it may be functioning with one theatre fewer than usual.

In keeping with the current international movement to cast women in Shakespeare’s great male roles, festival stalwart Henry will play the lead role in The Tempest, helmed by artistic director Antoni Cimolino.

There is a feeling of full circle to this casting: Henry, who in recent years has worked for Stratford primarily as a director and educator, first appeared at Stratford as Prospero’s daughter Miranda in a 1962 production of The Tempest.

As previously announced in the Star, famed Quebec director Lepage will direct Shakespeare’s Coriolanus in a production that will include real-time video and elements of social media.

Julius Caesar, directed by Scott Wentworth (who helmed this year’s solid production of Romeo and Juliet) and The Comedy of Errors directed by Keira Loughran round out the festival’s four 2018 Shakespeare offerings.

Donna Feore, who has become the festival’s go-to musical theatre powerhouse and whose Guys and Dolls is drawing raves this season, is for the first time directing both of the musical offerings — sure to be a logistical as well as creative feat given that they will rehearse during the same time period in order to run for the entirety of the season.

Feore’s production of Meredith Willson’s wholesome family favourite The Music Man will run in the Festival Theatre while the cult classic Rocky Horror Show will play in the Avon Theatre.

“Those of us who came of age with Rocky Horror are thrilled to have it as part of the season,” says Cimolino.

Two modern American classics also feature in the season: Eugene O’Neill’s A Long Day’s Journey Into Night, directed by Miles Potter, and a dramatization of Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird helmed by actor Nigel Shawn Williams in his Stratford directing debut.

Besides The Tempest, first-generation Italian-Canadian Cimolino will direct Napoli Milionaria by Eduardo De Filippo, a comedy set in Naples at the end of the Second World War, in a commissioned translation by John Murrell. Lezlie Wade, who directed this season’s HMS Pinafore, will return to helm Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband.

Two new female-led writing projects round out the season: Brontë: The World Without by up-and-comer Jordi Mand (about the literary sisters) will be directed by Vanessa Porteous, and Erin Shields’ new version of Milton’s Paradise Lost will be helmed by Jackie Maxwell, who directed The Changeling for Stratford this season and served for 14 years as the Shaw Festival’s artistic director.

All 12 productions are currently scheduled for the Festival, Avon and Studio Theatres, as the Tom Patterson Theatre is planned for reconstruction. Should municipal approval and federal funding not come through, some productions will shift into the Patterson.




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