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›  Ontario-shot 'Shape of Water' lands a leading 13 Oscar nods


Guillermo del Toro’s lavish Ontario-shot monster romance The Shape of Water fished out a leading 13 nominations, Greta Gerwig became just the fifth woman nominated for best director and Mudbound cinematographer Rachel Morrison made history as the first woman to earn a nod in that category in nominations announced Tuesday for the 90th annual Academy Awards.

The Shape of Water, shot in Toronto and Hamilton, came just shy of tying the record of 14 nominations shared by All About Eve, Titanic and La La Land.

Toronto native J. Miles Dale shares in the best picture nomination for the film.

Oscar voters put forward nine best-picture nominees: The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Lady Bird, Get Out, The Post, Dunkirk, Call Me By Your Name and Phantom Thread.

The cascading fallout of sexual harassment scandals throughout Hollywood put particular focus on the best director category, which for many is a symbol of gender inequality in the film industry. Gerwig follows only Lina Wertmuller, Jane Campion, Sofia Coppola and Kathryn Bigelow, the sole woman to win (for The Hurt Locker).

Also nominated for best director was Get Out director Jordan Peele. He becomes the fifth black filmmaker nominated for best director, and third to helm a best-picture nominee, following Barry Jenkins last year for Moonlight.

Though all of the front-runners — Frances McDormand (Three Billboards), Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour), Allison Janney (I, Tonya), Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards) — landed their expected nominations, there were surprises.

Denzel Washington (Roman J. Israel, Esq.) was nominated for best actor, likely eclipsing James Franco (Disaster Artist). Franco was accused of sexual misconduct, which he denied, just days before Oscar voting closed.

Read more:

Oscars reform envelope rules after last year’s Best Picture gaffe

All the rage at Golden Globes: Oscars prelude night sets a furious tone

More on the Oscars

Last year’s Oscars broadcast, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, drew 32.9 million viewers for ABC, a four per cent drop from the prior year. More worrisome, however, was a steeper slide in the key demographic of adults aged 18-49, whose viewership was down 14 per cent from 2016.

Though the show ran especially long, at three hours and 49 minutes, it finished with a bang: the infamous envelope mix-up that led to La La Land being incorrectly announced as the best picture before Moonlight was crowned.

This year, the academy has prohibited the PwC accountants who handle the envelopes from using cellphones or social media during the show. The accounting firm on Monday also unveiled several reforms including the addition of a third balloting partner in the show’s control room. Neither of the PwC representatives involved in the mishap last year, Brian Cullinan or Martha Ruiz, will return to the show.

But the movie business has larger accounting problems. Movie attendance hit a 24-year low in 2017 despite the firepower of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Beauty and the Beast and Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2. An especially dismal summer movie season was 92 million admissions shy of summer 2016, according to the National Alliance of Theater Owners.

Still, the summer produced one best-picture favourite, Dunkirk, which grossed $525.6 million worldwide. Warner Bros.’ Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman, released in June to $821.8 million in ticket sales, became the highest grossing movie ever directed by a woman, though it did not receive any Oscar nods.

But the box-office hit that carved the most unlikely path to the Oscars is Get Out. It opened back in February on Oscar weekend, and went on to pocket $254.7 million worldwide. Though Get Out and Dunkirk lend a blockbuster punch to the best-picture field — something that has historically helped ratings of the broadcast — the other films in the mix are smaller indies.

It was a dominant if bittersweet day for 20th Century Fox. Its specialty label, Fox Searchlight, is behind both Three Billboards and The Shape of Water, and Fox released The Post. Yet those wins may soon count for the Walt Disney Co., which last month reached a deal to purchase Fox for $52.4 billion.

Both Amazon and Netflix failed to crack the best picture category but earned nominations elsewhere. Netflix’s Mudbound scored a best-supporting nod for Mary J. Blige and Amazon’s The Big Sick grabbed a nomination for Holly Hunter in the same category. The Big Sick also scored an original screenplay nod.



›  Tsunami warning for B.C. cancelled after magnitude 7.9 earthquake off coast of Alaska


VANCOUVER—A tsunami warning issued for coastal British Columbia was cancelled Tuesday morning after people living along parts of the province’s coast evacuated to higher ground when a powerful earthquake struck off Alaska.

Residents in some coastal communities were woken by warning sirens shortly after the quake with a magnitude of 7.9 struck at about 1:30 a.m. Pacific time. The quake struck 278 kilometres southeast of Kodiak at a depth of about 10 kilometres.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said several communities activated their emergency plans and evacuated those at risk as the provincial emergency co-ordination centre and five regional operations centres were also mobilized.

In low-lying areas of Victoria and Esquimalt, officials went door-to-door telling people to evacuate, while elsewhere sirens and text alerts were used to get the warning out, he said in an interview.

An alert was still in place hours after the initial warning, which means there may be higher wave action in low-lying areas along the province’s coast, Farnworth said.

“Although the tsunami warning was eventually suspended, this event demonstrates that coast warning systems do work.”

Patricia Leidl, communications director with Emergency Preparedness BC, said there was a three centimetre wave and a 15 centimetre rise in sea level hours after the quake at Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

The tsunami warning covered B.C.’s north coast, Haida Gwaii, the west coast of Vancouver Island, the central coast and northeast Vancouver Island, and along the Juan de Fuca Strait.

People were told to evacuate inland or to higher ground, or move to an upper floor of a multi-story building, depending on individual situations.

Dan Banks, a public works employee in Tofino, said residents in low-lying areas, including resorts on along the beach, were told to go to higher ground.

“It’s tsunami protocol, everybody is going to high ground and evacuating the low-areas like they are supposed to,” he said, adding people also gathered at a community hall.

Gillian Der, a University of British Columbia geography student who is studying in Queen Charlotte on Haida Gwaii, said she didn’t feel the earthquake.

“I don’t think any of us felt anything,” she added.

“I just heard the fire trucks going around, honking their horns and on the loud speaker saying there is a tsunami warning. It was very apocalyptic. So I was just running up the street to the muster station, up the big hill.”

The last devastating tsunami to hit B.C. was 54 years ago in Port Alberni after a 9.2 earthquake off Alaska. Two waves gathered force as they raced up the funnel-like Alberni Inlet in March 1964, hitting the city with forces that swept away houses and vehicles, but caused no deaths.

Scientists in Japan, and Vancouver Island First Nations, have gathered accounts of a huge earthquake and tsunami in January 1700 that wiped out communities and killed thousands of people. A wave the height of a four-storey building hit the east coast of Japan nine hours after the original earthquake off the B.C. coast.

People in Alaska received warnings Tuesday from the National Weather Service sent to cellphones that said: “Emergency Alert. Tsunami danger on the coast. Go to high ground or move inland.”

Lt. Tim Putney of the Kodiak Police Department said the earthquake woke him up out of a dead sleep, and he estimates it shook for at least 30 seconds.

“I’ve been in Kodiak for 19 years that was the strongest, longest lasting one I’ve ever felt,” he told The Associated Press.

The Alaska Earthquake Information Center said the quake was felt widely in several communities on the Kenai Peninsula and throughout southern Alaska, but it also had no immediate reports of damage. People reported on social media that the quake was felt hundreds of kilometres away, in Anchorage.

Keith Perkins, who lives in the southeast Alaska community of Sitka, arrived at the high school early Tuesday morning, after an alarm on his cellphone alerted him of the tsunami warning. He said the city’s sirens also went off later.

Given the magnitude of the earthquake, Perkins said he thought it best to head to the school, the tsunami evacuation point, even though in the past he felt his home was at a “high-enough spot.”

“I figured I’d probably just better play it safe.”



›  School guidance counsellors ?stretched? amid rising mental health needs


The kids are struggling and so are their guidance counsellors, as they try to meet the rising demand for mental health support in high schools across Ontario, a new survey by People for Education has found.

Responses from about 1,200 principals last fall indicate that meeting mental health needs is “a huge challenge for guidance staff,” says the report, released Tuesday.

“Principals are saying ‘we’ve got a crisis here in terms of the mental health piece and we don’t have enough staff to address it, either through psychologists and social workers or through guidance,’ ” says Annie Kidder, executive director of the research and advocacy group.

People for Education has spent years documenting the decline in public school staff who play key roles in educating and helping students outside the classroom and highlighting their importance.

Currently, the province funds one full-time guidance teacher for every 385 high school students, though currently the actual average is 396 students per counsellor.

However, one in 10 high schools is sharing a single counsellor among 826 students, according to the survey. And the picture is particularly grim outside urban areas.

While most counsellors said their biggest role is helping teenagers with academic issues such as course selections and post-secondary options, 26 per cent said providing one-on-one counselling for kids with mental health challenges is the most time-consuming part of the job.

With only half the schools able to regularly access a psychologist, and a shortage of school social workers, “the role of guidance counsellors may be stretched to fill the gaps,” says the report.

It comes on the heels of recommendations from Ontario’s student trustees, who made mental health resources in schools a central pillar of their “student platform” in advance of the June provincial election.

The Ontario Student Trustees’ Association, representing 2 million students, called on the province to mandate suicide prevention training for all guidance teachers and funding for additional mental health training for staff.

Because of the burgeoning need, the student leaders are also seeking funding to train youth about where to turn if they are worried about a friend, and the rights of students to form well-being clubs in their schools.

The explosion of mental health issues among children and youth has been documented by such groups as the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Children’s Mental Health Ontario and Colleges Ontario.

A combination of more willingness to speak openly about it and the evolving role of schools means, “there is an assumption that somehow school will help deal with this,” says Kidder.

But without more resources “schools aren’t equipped for the most part,” she warned.

As principal of R.H. King Academy in Toronto, David Rowan has a birds-eye view of the current pressure on teenagers.

His public school of 1,234 students has the equivalent of 3.5 guidance full-time counsellors, who are attuned to the stress that comes with adolescence and transitions to high school and post-secondary.

“It really is an important role,” says Rowan, whose school was the first in Toronto to have launched a weeklong November break called “Wellness Week” aimed at relieving stress during a traditionally high-pressure time of year.

The three-year pilot project, which started in 2016, means students start school a week earlier in the fall.

Rowan notes that while guidance counsellors are key, other teachers can also be mentors and sources of support and guidance for students needing help.

The People for Education report reiterated its earlier findings about the scarcity of guidance counsellors in Ontario’s elementary schools, where the situation is even worse, with school boards getting enough funds to hire one counsellor for every 5,000 students.

This year, only 14 per cent of elementary schools have a counsellor, working on site an average of 1.5 days a week.

It’s an issue also raised by student trustees, who want the ratio changed to match that of high schools.

Kidder says elementary schools that offer Grades 7 and 8 should be funded so the counsellor-per-student ratio matches that of secondary schools, so kids entering adolescence and high school get the support they need.

The report also recommends evaluating and aligning the role of guidance counsellor — a position Kidder says includes no concrete job description — to clarify responsibilities and training.

It also wants the province to explore cost-effective ways to ensure that students in rural areas with far fewer resources get the same access to guidance services as their urban peers.

While Kidder’s group has been calling for similar changes for years, she says it makes more sense now than ever, given the Ministry of Education’s focus on well-being last fall, and its recognition that a successful education system must go beyond reading, writing and math.

“We need more than just teachers in classrooms and principals,” she said. Guidance counsellors are among the other educators who are essential for students, she added.



›  Accused killer Bruce McArthur?s 2003 assault conviction led to DNA order


Accused killer Bruce McArthur was sentenced for assault more than a decade ago, in a ruling that prohibited him from owning weapons for 10 years and ordered samples of his DNA to be taken and placed in a database.

On April 11, 2003, McArthur — who now faces charges of first-degree murder in the killings of Andrew Kinsman and Selim Esen — was sentenced in Ontario for one count of assault causing bodily harm and one count of assault with a weapon. At the time, McArthur received a conditional sentence of two years less a day (the maximum allowed by law) and probation for three years.

A conditional sentence is served in the community rather than in jail.

McArthur was also subject to a DNA order and a weapons prohibition for 10 years. DNA orders allow bodily substance samples to be taken from an offender, typically through a mouth swab, to add to a database.

Because assault causing bodily harm is what’s called a “primary designated” offence, the judge was required to make a DNA order if a conviction was reached, said criminal lawyer Daniel Brown, who is not connected to the McArthur murder case or to the earlier assault case.

The only exception is if a defendant is able to satisfy the court that the effect on their privacy significantly outweighs the public interest in protecting society through early detection, arrest and conviction of offenders, Brown said.

Mark Valois, a former Toronto police homicide officer who is now director of academic training at the Canadian Tactical Officers Association, said the sample is generally mandatory “if you hurt somebody.”

“Basically, that’s what it boils down to. Domestic situations, anything to do with kids, obviously any type of sexual offences,” Valois said, adding that the sample is typically kept on file indefinitely.

In the McArthur case, it’s “absolutely” possible that having the historic DNA sample helped investigators narrow their search and make the arrest last week, Valois said. A DNA sample, he said, “is like a fingerprint.”

Having such a sample can help police investigate crimes by identifying previously unknown DNA found at a crime scene, Brown wrote in an email.

“A DNA order can act as a significant deterrent for future criminality in that offenders will be less likely to commit crimes knowing there is a greater chance they will be identified and prosecuted if their DNA is already on file with the police,” he told the Star.

The murder charges against McArthur have not yet been tested in court.

One count of carrying a concealed weapon was withdrawn on the same day McArthur was sentenced in 2003. The Ministry of the Attorney General was unable to confirm by Monday evening what weapon was used by McArthur at the time, or further information about the nature of the assault. The victim in the assault case is unknown.

Police continued to search multiple properties on Monday in connection with McArthur’s arrest, but told the Star they had no further details to release. They’ve been pursuing information connected to McArthur since at least September, when police reportedly arrived at an auto parts shop, seized a rusted maroon Dodge Caravan sold by McArthur, and had it towed from the yard.

With files from Wendy Gillis



›  Burlington mom delivers own baby along highway in Oakville


Maternal instincts may never have been so keen as they were for Heidi Rand on Monday morning.

With husband Joe bombing down Hwy. 407 just after midnight, the Burlington mother-to-be felt her water break and a head appear just two contractions later.

An anxious situation had just become harrowing.

As Joe was torn between focusing on the road and worrying about his wife and child, Heidi delivered her own baby girl in what felt like an eternity but in reality lasted less than two minutes.

Born in the wee hours of the morning near the Bronte Rd. exit in Oakville, seven-pound, eight-ounce Mila was healthy and in the care of Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital later Monday.

Her intended birthplace was Mississauga’s Credit Valley Hospital, before fate took a U-turn.

“It felt so incredibly surreal,” Heidi told Metroland. “My head was in two places. One, I’m thinking, ‘Is this really happening in my car?’ But then, your instincts kick in and you’re literally doing everything you can to keep your baby safe. It’s a miracle . . . she’s safe, healthy and happy.”

While he calls himself a supporting player in the drama, Joe was much more than a spectator.

After gathering all the clothing he could find to keep Mila warm — including the shirt off his back — he used his shoelace to tie off the umbilical cord, following advice from a Halton paramedic who coached him over the phone.

“It’s been joked about on social (media) that we should nickname her Shoelace or Lacey. (The delivery) was like, ‘What the hell?’” said Joe, who moved to Burlington nine months ago after living for several years overseas with Heidi in the U.K., Germany and Australia. This is the couple’s second baby, joining 20-month-old Jackson, whose delivery — by stark contrast — lasted roughly 36 hours.

“Heidi was like the QB taking the ball from the centre, pulling onto her chest. To think of everything Heidi went through, she did a tremendous job,” Joe said.

With Mila more than a week late, the couple was already a bit antsy come Sunday night when the contractions began.

At first, they were frequent yet irregular, leaving Heidi to wonder if she’d have to wait a little longer.

But “when I called my midwife, she said, ‘Yeah, this is it,’” Heidi says.

In all the commotion, Joe didn’t get the name of the paramedic who offered assistance while an ambulance was en route to meet them.

“It was a guy, that’s all I know,” Joe said. “He was great.”



›  Christopher Hume: Toronto's east side car dealerships ? the good, the bad and the ugly


Now that Grand Touring Auto has moved to Dundas and the DVP, Toronto’s east end is definitely the place to be if you’re looking for a Rolls-Royce.

Whether that means the power and prestige of the west end are moving to the other side of Yonge or simply that there’s more land there not yet slated for condos remains to be seen. Regardless, the lower east side is awash in car dealerships. Architecturally, most are generic structures, almost invisible in their ordinariness and lack of originality. Grand Touring, which sells Bentleys, Bugattis, Jaguars and the like, is no exception.

Indeed, designed by Plaston Architect and Weis Architecture, the new showroom sums up the logic of the downtown dealership nicely; its shiny but empty metallic surfaces and large glass facades are meant to grab our eyeballs and not let go. But in a city like Toronto, where every other building wants us to stop and look, this sort of architectural aggression is doomed to fail. The only heads turned here will be those of drivers stuck on the Don Valley Parking Lot, which the showroom overlooks. To those passing by on Dundas, the building is easy to miss. So is the entrance on Carroll St.

The most interesting aspect of the new structure is its location in the floodplain of the Don River; given the regularity with which the Don bursts its banks, the showroom could well become a visual icon of a city beset by climate change.

Other more retro dealers such as Downtown Toyota at Queen and Broadview are noisy attention-seeking spaces lined with flags. It looks like something you’d expect to see on a suburban highway, not a busy downtown corner. It won’t be around much longer, however, condos are on the way.

On the other hand, some showrooms are intended to blend into the streetscape. The Lincoln outlet at King and Cherry is a good example.

Located in the ground floor of a nondescript midrise condo, it presents the sophisticated image of a fully urban operation, more a car store than a traditional auto dealership. Whether by design or irony, the compactness of Lincoln’s premises stand in stark contrast to the tank-like vehicles it sells.

Still, given the cost of Toronto real estate, this is the way of the future. At the same time, one wonders how much longer cars as we know them will be around. Even in Toronto, where the mayor’s focus is vehicular congestion, it’s clear the auto has taken us about as far as it can.

Then there’s the intersection of Front and Parliament; it tells a complicated story about the awkward relationship between past and present. Some may remember that the Porsche dealership now at Front and Parliament used to be on Front at Berkeley. It moved to Parliament after a land swap involving the province, the city and the land owner who, in return for the Berkeley site, got the one at Parliament. The city and province wanted his site because it was close to the Ontario’s historic first parliament building. In 2012, the original Porsche showroom became a provincial interpretive centre dedicated to the War of 1812. That was closed after a few years, and now the building houses a Nissan showroom. Where there was one dealership, today there are two.

Another row of car retailers, on Front east of Parliament, make no pretence at anything more than basic utility. They are occupying space until the condo builders show up.

The two exceptions — the BMW and Mini showrooms on Sunlight Park Rd. — stand out from the crowd by virtue of architectural excellence.

Their function is the same; but although both were designed to sell cars, they do so indirectly. This architecture engages passersby for its own reasons; it isn’t a bright shiny object, but a statement of value and tastefulness. Like Grand Touring, BMW faces the DVP. The top two-thirds of the six-storey facade form a screen, divided into sections, but the 2004 building also takes its civic duties seriously.

In short, it is a landmark.

So is the Mini showroom. Designed by Roland Rem Colthoff, then of Quadrangle Architects, who also did BMW, this one presents a striking arrangement of glass cubes outlined in yellow, green and orange panels. There’s more to a building than meets the eye, of course, but at the same time, what you see is what you get.

Christopher Hume’s column appears weekly. He can be reached at jcwhume4@gmail.com



›  Neil Diamond retires from touring after announcing Parkinson?s diagnosis


NEW YORK—Neil Diamond, one of the world’s most enduring songwriters, best known for his singalong hits “Sweet Caroline,” “America” and “Cracklin’ Rosie,” announced Monday that he has Parkinson’s disease.

Diamond, who will turn 77 on Wednesday, said he is retiring from concert touring as a result of the diagnosis.

“It is with great reluctance and disappointment that I announce my retirement from concert touring. I have been so honored to bring my shows to the public for the past 50 years,” Diamond wrote in a statement on his website. “My sincerest apologies to everyone who purchased tickets and were planning to come to the upcoming shows.”

Diamond said he will continue writing and recording music.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that can cause tremors in the hands and arms, rigid muscles and speech changes such as slurring, according to the Mayo Clinic.

He made the announcement while in the middle of his “50 Year Anniversary World Tour.” In March, Diamond was set to visit New Zealand and Australia on the third leg of the tour. The tickets will be refunded in full, according to the singer’s website.

Diamond, who has been nominated for 13 Grammy awards and won one, will be given the coveted Lifetime Achievement Awards at Sunday’s Grammy Awards. Diamond, who has sold more than 125 million records, was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2011.

“My thanks goes out to my loyal and devoted audiences around the world. You will always have my appreciation for your support and encouragement,” Diamond said in the statement. “This ride has been ‘so good, so good, so good’ thanks to you.”



›  Coalition of unions challenging Ontario?s campaign finance law as unconstitutional


The Working Families union coalition, which has spent millions on attack ads over the past four provincial elections, is challenging Ontario’s new campaign finance law as unconstitutional.

That’s because the reform legislation — triggered in part by a series of Star stories — imposes strict spending limits before and during writ periods.

The unions feel that is an unlawful curb on freedom of expression guarantees in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“We are asking the court to look at these provisions and rule on their constitutionality as they relate to how groups and individuals can effectively participate in the election process,” said Working Families’ Patrick Dillon.

“The way the current law is written raises serious concerns. The restrictions placed on groups like Working Families are designed to stifle free speech and participation at the most crucial time, during an election,” said Dillon.

Under changes in effect for the June 7 election campaign, so-called “third-party” advertising is capped at $600,000 in the six months before a scheduled election and $100,000 during the writ period.

In the 2003, 2007, 2011, and 2014 elections Working Families spent millions of dollars on ads attacking the Progressive Conservatives.

That advertising played a big role in helping the Liberals win those campaigns.

While Working Families aired a blitz of commercials blasting Tory Leader Patrick Brown last fall before the six-month cut-off deadline, the unions’ Charter challenge targets the Liberals they have helped elect the past 15 years.

Dillon said the new law passed in 2016 serves as “a gag on free speech by allowing only government and corporate media to have unfettered access to Ontarians.”

“The Ontario government has no such restrictions during the six months leading up to an election and neither do the media. How are ordinary Ontarians and the organizations they support to get their concerns known?”

Filed by lawyer Paul Cavalluzo, Working Families’ 21-page application to the Ontario Superior Court argues that the “political advertising” provisions on the amended Elections Finances Act “violate the fundamental right to free expression guaranteed under section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

That section enshrines the “freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication.”

Cavalluzzo is hoping the courts will ultimately issue “a declaration that the impugned provisions of the act are unconstitutional and of no force and effect.”

He said the law impedes unions and others from “effectively presenting their views and concerns publically during the six month pre-election period in a fixed-date election, while the Legislature is in session, thereby restricting the reasoned political discourse which ensures that government policy choices are sensitive to the needs and concerns of a broad range of citizens.”

His application to the court says the coalition, which is supported by 250,000 private-sector and public-sector union members, exists “to make voters aware of policies that threaten the well-being of working families across Ontario.

“Its supporters include a broad and diverse range of interests and backgrounds ranging from teachers to nurses to auto and construction workers,” Cavalluzzo wrote.

Participating unions are: Unifor; the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation; the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association; the Ontario Nurses’ Association; and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, among others.

Attorney General Yasir Naqvi has always maintained that the legislation, which passed unanimously at Queen’s Park on Dec. 1, 2016, could withstand a constitutional challenge.

The Tories’ Brown was especially pleased with the restrictions on the third-party advertising spending.

“It’s better for our democracy that the most powerful person is the voter now and not big financial interests,” the PC leader said the day the bill passed.

In the wake of a series of stories in the Star, Premier Kathleen Wynne banned union and corporate donations to political parties, outlawed MPPs and candidates from attending fundraisers, and lowered contribution limits from $9,975 per person to $1,200.

The new law also publicly subsidizes the four major political parties based on their vote tallies in the previous election.

Under the $2.71-per-vote subsidy, the Liberals, who received 1,863,974 votes in 2014, get $5.06 million annually; the Progressive Conservatives with 1,508,811 get $4.09 million; the New Democrats with 1,144,822 get $3.1 million; and the Greens with 232,536 get $630,000.



›  Ontario landlords want right to ban pot in rentals immediately after legalization


Ontario landlords want the right to immediately ban the use of pot in rental properties when recreational weed is legalized this summer, arguing they should be allowed to change tenants’ existing leases to stop the drug from being consumed in their units.

Some marijuana users say, however, that the situation would leave renters with few places to legally use weed, given the province’s already restrictive rules around the drug.

Under rules announced in the fall, the province plans a ban on recreational pot consumption in public spaces and workplaces, allowing it only in private residences. Medical marijuana use will be permitted anywhere that cigarette smoking is allowed, the legislation says.

Landlords will be able to spell out a ban on smoking marijuana in rental units for new leases post-legalization — the same as they do for tobacco use — but the province’s tenancy laws make it illegal to change a lease before it ends.

That means in some cases, until an existing lease runs out, landlords would be unable to regulate marijuana use in their properties, said John Dickie, president of the Canadian Federation of Apartment Associations, adding that landlords are concerned about the impact a spike in pot smoking will have on other tenants in rental properties.

“(The province is) not going to allow marijuana to be smoked in public areas, so where the heck are people going to smoke marijuana? Well they’re going to do it in their apartments,” he said. “The problem is, just like when they smoke tobacco, the smell goes to neighbouring apartments. Buildings are not hermetically sealed.”

It can cost $5,000-6,000 to get the smell of marijuana smoke out of apartment walls and floors, said Dan Henderson, president of the DelSuites property management firm in Toronto.

“It’s not the stigma (of marijuana use), it’s just the number of expenses to maintain the unit and the complaints landlords receive from the neighbours,” said Henderson, whose company manages rental units for approximately 2,000 landlords in the Greater Toronto Area.

Dickie and Henderson both argue that Ontario landlords should be allowed to immediately prohibit tenants from smoking marijuana in their units, even if the tenants are mid-lease.

“As it stands (before) legalization, tenants are banned from smoking marijuana in a building and you don’t have to write it in the lease because it’s the law,” Dickie said. “It would be ideal if the province automatically (made it part) of leases, unless the landlord and tenant agree to take it out of the lease, because that would continue the status quo.”

The Ontario government says its Residential Tenancy Act does not include explicit rules about smoking substances of any kind in a rental property, and the new pot laws do not contain any rules for renters engaging in recreational use.

Landlords have the right to include stipulations banning tobacco smoke when drafting a lease, but if they do not, a tenant can smoke in their own unit. Those rules will likely apply to marijuana when it is legalized, the government says.

Read more:

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The province is also currently seeking public feedback on a proposal to allow designated outdoor smoking or vaping areas in multi-unit residences, an idea welcomed by some marijuana users who argue some tenants may otherwise have few places they can consume pot.

“It (would be) really leaving people with nowhere to go,” Natasha Grimshaw, a manager at a Toronto marijuana dispensary, said of landlords banning pot in units. “You have more freedom (to smoke) now when it’s illegal than you will when you’re supposed to be free to smoke it.”

Having a dedicated marijuana space for a rental property could provide a suitable compromise, Grimshaw said.

“Condos have theatre rooms, party rooms, so why not have marijuana rooms?” she said. “They could even make restrictions that you need to use vaporizers (instead) of smoking a joint so it’s not a smoke and you’re not going to necessarily be upsetting too many people in the building.”

Designated marijuana lounges would be “a great idea” if landlords could then also ban smoking in rental units, Dickie added.

“People haven’t rushed to do that with tobacco in part because it’s not inexpensive to set up a separate ventilation system, but in a bigger building it would make sense,” he added. “We’ll just all have to weigh out the demand for it with the cost of doing it.”



›  Three more women accuse Brampton?s Dr. Brian Thicke of groping


As Dr. Brian Thicke prepares to face a public discipline hearing for allegedly sexually abusing a patient, three other women have come forward to the Star alleging they were also groped by the prominent Brampton physician during a period stretching back 40 years.

Critics have also questioned how the province’s medical regulator, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, dealt with Thicke’s case, given that it was aware as early as 1994 of an allegation that the doctor performed an inappropriate breast examination, after the patient in that case went to the police.

But the college today refuses to say what — if anything — was done, saying legislation prohibits it from doing so.

Thicke, father of the late actor Alan Thicke and grandfather of singer Robin Thicke, retains an active licence to practise and privileges at Brampton Civic Hospital, according to his profile on the CPSO website.

Once dubbed Brampton’s “most valuable physician” and fêted at a gala attended by former mayor Susan Fennell, Thicke has no history of being disciplined by the college, according to a spokesperson for the regulator.

The 88-year-old doctor was ordered in December to face a hearing before the college’s discipline committee for allegedly sexually abusing Lisa Fruitman by groping her breasts in 1993 and 1995 during a physical required for a private pilot’s licence. The hearing has not yet been scheduled.

The regulator also said Thicke is under investigation “in addition to the pending discipline hearing.”

As reported by the Star in November, the college’s complaints committee, made up of doctors and members of the public who screen complaints behind closed doors, had at first dismissed Fruitman’s allegations rather than send them to the discipline committee.

The complaints committee was ordered to review the case by a civilian appeal body, which criticized nearly every one of the committee’s findings.

“Given that Dr. Thicke is before the college, he has no comment on any of these allegations,” Thicke’s lawyer, Paul-Erik Veel, told the Star, referring to the Fruitman case and the allegations made by the other women in this story.

Two of the three women who spoke to the Star consented to their names being published. The two have also filed formal complaints with the college.

Cheryl Thorpe had been out of nursing school only a few years when, in the mid-1970s, she started working in obstetrics and gynecology at Peel Memorial Hospital in Brampton.

She can recall Thicke at the nursing station. “He’d be bragging about what his son was up to, yakking about his famous daughter-in-law, Gloria Loring, the famous country western singer. I wasn’t quite frankly interested in what his son or daughter-in-law were doing. It wasn’t something I was following. I was more into Led Zeppelin,” Thorpe said.

It was during the day in 1977 when she alleges Thicke groped her breast while she was sitting alone in the nursery feeding a baby with a bottle.

“All I remember is him walking in, he might have said, ‘Hi,’ then all of a sudden put his hand down my scrub dress,” she told the Star. “He just nonchalantly reached down and grabbed my breast. I was so taken aback. What the heck was that all about?

“I was rather vulnerable, because I had this baby in my arms. What I would have wanted to do is walk up and smack him across the face.”

Thorpe said “the thing that really stuck in my head” was that Thicke was wearing rimless glasses with the initials “BT” inscribed down the side of the frame. She said she can’t recall him saying anything to her before leaving.

She said she went almost immediately to the head nurse, and the two then complained to the director of nursing.

“And then I waited for action to happen, and absolutely nothing happened. No discipline, no conversation, no confronting him about it. I don’t think anything came of it because they told me they would get back to me, and I have a feeling it was just basically swept under the rug,” Thorpe said.

The thought may have crossed her mind to go to the police, Thorpe said, “but at 23 you have a very different mindset. As a newly graduated nurse, you feel it’s an imbalance of power, sort of your word against the doctor and there never will be any action.

“There was always this sort of subculture that the doctors were the highest ones on the ladder, and nurses were subservient. There was this pecking order. We were told to give up your chair to a doctor, if they entered the nursing station, we were told to do that in nursing school. That was the kind of mentality back then.”

Thorpe, who now works in a sexual medicine practice in Victoria, B.C., that includes victims of sexual abuse, married in 1978 and moved to Waterloo with her husband.

Peel Memorial Hospital became, in 1998, part of what would eventually be William Osler Health System. It was closed in the late 2000s and subsequently demolished. Osler refused to say whether anything was done with Thorpe’s complaint in the 1970s.

“William Osler Health System does not tolerate assault or harassment of any type within the workplace. We recognize the seriousness of these matters, and investigate all reported cases,” said an Osler spokesperson, Alineh Haidery.

“However, as this is an internal personnel matter, we are unable to offer any further public comment.”

Thorpe said she told her boyfriend (now her husband) at the time about the alleged assault, and discussed it again with friends last October when they were talking about the #MeToo movement to denounce sexual assault and harassment.

She decided to go public and complain to the college when she read about Fruitman’s case in the Star in November. She said she was “mortified” when she realized patients were also reporting assault allegations against Thicke.

“I felt I had to do something as a professional nurse,” she said.


Thicke is also a civil aviation medical examiner, a designation granted by Transport Canada, and has performed physicals on pilots over the decades. Flight attendants have reported seeing him for their physicals, though flight attendants are not certified by Transport Canada.

Miryana Golubovich, a former flight attendant for Zoom, a defunct discount airline, was 26 when she saw Thicke at his Brampton office in 2005.

“They said (Thicke) does all the physicals, go see him,” Golubovich said, referring to the airline. “There’s an expectation you’re not going to get molested.”

Golubovich said she unbuttoned the top two buttons of her shirt, as she normally did for her doctor, so Thicke could check her heartbeat.

But she alleges Thicke unbuttoned the last two buttons, “went up under my shirt with the stethoscope, slid under my bra, and then held it on my breast with his hand on my nipple. I was shocked and really creeped out.”

She alleges that Thicke also had her bend down to touch her toes, and that he touched her buttocks.

“With the whole #MeToo campaign going on, I had thought about all the times I was touched inappropriately, and what came to mind was Brian Thicke,” she said. “I really do regret not having said something to the Ontario College of Physicians.”

Golubovich did recently file a complaint with the college. She also said she told human resources at Zoom in 2005, and recalls a message being sent to staff saying they would no longer use Thicke for physicals.

An individual who worked in HR at the time, who asked to remain anonymous because the person had no knowledge of specific cases involving staff, told the Star that the airline stopped using Thicke around 2005 as their Toronto region doctor for physicals because flight attendants had reported feeling uncomfortable.

Another woman, who asked to remain anonymous because she still works as a pilot and fears reprisals in the aviation industry, said she saw Thicke for her aviation physical around 1994.

“I knew he was on the board of the Brampton Flying Club,” at the time, the woman said as to why she went to see him.

“He reached in and groped both of my breasts with his hands, a squeeze for a few seconds on either side. I just sat there, and he said ‘OK, you can do up your shirt. We’re done.’ ”

The woman said she had been receiving breast exams since she was a teenager, as her mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer as a young woman, but she said this exam felt different.

She was also instructing at the flying club at the time, and said she told her female students not to see Thicke for their physicals. The woman said she didn’t report to the College of Physicians and Surgeons at the time because she had no confidence in the regulator.

“On top of that, Dr. Thicke was at the time on the board” of the flying club, she said. “I’m a female in aviation, which is fairly male-dominated. I wasn’t about to rock any boats because, who knows, I could have possibly lost my job if I complained.”

The current president of the Brampton Flying Club told the Star that after it was made aware of Fruitman’s allegations about two years ago, the board instructed its general manager to check if there were any records of complaints about Thicke.

“We have no records of anything about Dr. Thicke, in terms of any alleged sexual misconduct or anything like that,” said Allan Paige. “The club has no knowledge of any alleged sexual misconduct of Dr. Thicke, so we have nothing further to say.”

While Paige said the general manager was asked to look through records regarding Thicke, he also confirmed that the review did not include reaching out to members.

He said Thicke, who was also a pilot, was on the board of the club in the 1990s, but would not say if Thicke is still a member because the membership list is “private.”

Transport Canada, which grants the designation of civil aviation medical examiners to doctors who conduct physicals on pilots and air traffic controllers, also said it had not received any complaints about Thicke.

Spokesperson Marie-Anyk Côté said Transport Canada provides specialized training for the aviation examiners. She said they are required to regularly attend seminars, and their performance is monitored by specialists in aerospace medicine.

“As there is no federal licensing body that exists, Transport Canada is wholly reliant on the provincial licensing bodies (in this case, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario) with respect to physician qualifications and fitness to practice,” Côté wrote in an email.

“The department has never had a policy or procedure with respect to breast examinations. There is no requirement for civil aviation medical examiners to conduct breast examinations during a medical exam.”

After Fruitman, the complainant in the case for which Thicke is facing a discipline hearing, appealed the initial dismissal of her complaint by the college, it became public that a different woman had complained to Peel police in 1994 of an inappropriate breast exam conducted by Thicke during an aviation physical.

Excerpts of the police report are contained in a decision of the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board (HPARB) ordering the college to review Fruitman’s complaint. (Following that review, the college decided to send the complaint to discipline.)

“During the examination, (Thicke) stated: ‘Now we are going to look at your boobies,’ ” the complainant alleged, according to the police report. “He then raised her shirt, undid her bra, raised her bra and then squeezed her breasts. (Thicke) then stated: ‘You have full healthy breasts and you should get them checked regularly.’

“The victim subsequently made inquiries and feels the examination of her breasts was inappropriate for an aviation medical examination and reported it to Peel police.”

According to the police report, Thicke was arrested on June 29, 1994, and admitted to police to doing breast exams as part of the aviation physical for the past 38 years, but denied using the word “boobies.” He was not charged as police concluded there was “no intent” to commit sexual assault.

A supplemental note from the investigating officer, also contained in the HPARB decision from the Fruitman case, indicates that officers contacted other doctors who do not routinely conduct breast exams as part of the aviation physical.

“(Thicke) was apprised of procedures for conducting breast examinations to assist in preventing any further uncomfortable feelings in his patients,” the investigating officer’s note said. “The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario . . . has been advised they will deal with any alleged inappropriate conduct by (Thicke). The victim was satisfied with the police investigation.”

According to the HPARB decision, the College of Physicians and Surgeons did receive information from Peel police, and the file on Thicke was closed in 1995 at the college “on manager’s approval.”

Today, the college will provide no further details.

“The CPSO is not able to provide information about or answer questions related to specific investigations, in accordance with the legislation,” said a college spokesperson, Kathryn Clarke.

Medical malpractice lawyer Paul Harte said if that is indeed the case, then the legislation should be changed.

“I think the minister of health should do an investigation. He’s got oversight responsibility, there’s enough information in the public record to justify an investigation of how the college handled the 1994 complaint,” Harte told the Star.

“The minister of health is ultimately responsible for oversight of the college, and this record calls out for an explanation.

“There has to be some level of accountability and ultimately, there has to be some information made available to the public so that the public can be reassured that the college works,” he said.

Jacques Gallant can be reached at jgallant@thestar.ca



›  King St. business owner appeals for shutdown of streetcar pilot project


A group of King St. business owners is ramping up its fight against the pilot project aimed at improving transit service on the downtown street.

Al Carbone, owner of the Kit Kat Italian Bar & Grill, held a press conference outside his restaurant at King and John Sts. Monday morning to ask the public to support his push to cancel the pilot.

The event didn’t quite go as planned however, as the assembled media soon turned their attention on a transit rider who confronted Carbone to voice his support for the project.

The pilot, which gives priority to streetcar traffic on King, is scheduled to last until December, after which council will decide whether to make it permanent. But Carbone and other business owners say decreased driver activity is driving sales down, and they can’t afford to wait until the end of the year.

“We’d like the mayor to reverse it immediately. It’s hurting too many businesses all at once,” said Carbone, who claimed revenue for some establishments has dropped by almost 50 per cent.

“We can’t afford to lose every day. They want to do a pilot project for a year, I’ll do a campaign for a year.”

The city started the pilot in November in order to improve the travel times and reliability of streetcars on King, which is the TTC’s busiest surface route and one of its most congested.

New traffic rules restrict drivers’ movements, forcing them to turn right off of King at most major intersections. The city has also removed all 180 on-street parking spaces on King in the project area, which runs between Bathurst and Jarvis Sts.

Carbone has been among the plan’s most vocal opponents. In a show of defiance that provoked the ire of many transit riders, earlier this month he erected an ice sculpture of a raised middle finger outside of his restaurant.

The hash tag for his new social media campaign calls on the city to end the “King car ban.” However, cars are not banned from King. When a reporter pointed this out, Carbone acknowledged, “they’re not banned,” but said the pilot was not “friendly” to drivers.

Carbone also faced questions about a figure he included in a press release, which claimed travel times for drivers on adjacent routes like Richmond and Adelaide Sts. had “increased an average of 12 minutes.”

According to city figures, in December average rush hour driving times on Adelaide had increased by 1.8 minutes at most compared to before the pilot went in, while car trips on Richmond were about 30 seconds quicker.

Carbone accused the city of publishing misleading statistics, and claimed he had derived his 12-minute figure “from actual experience.”

As Carbone defended his position, a transit user named Trevor Dunseith who had been listening nearby interjected. He challenged Carbone over his refusal open Kit Kat’s books to prove its losses were as substantial as he claimed, something the restaurant owner had said he wouldn’t do.

At least the city published “open” statistics, Dunseith said.

“I’m not lying,” Carbone shot back. “The city is.”

Moments later, after Carbone retreated to his restaurant, Dunseith told reporters he decided to crash the press conference in part because he was offended by Kit Kat’s profane ice sculpture.

“I’m angry because every time I go past this stretch of King St. I see that middle finger, and I feel like it’s directly at me,” he said. A student and regular transit user who lives near King St. and Jameson Ave., Dunseith said that in his observation streetcar service has significantly improved since the pilot began.

“This is a test, and it’s a test that from my experience seems to be working. And I’d like to see it through and decide at the end of it,” he said.

A spokesperson for Mayor John Tory said his administration has no intention of ending the pilot early.

“The mayor…will focus on real data and meaningful actions that will ensure that we are improving the movement of people along one of our busiest transit routes, while keeping the corridor vibrant and supporting local business,” wrote Don Peat in an email.

In response to businesses’ concerns, the city has already taken steps to attract customers to King, including an unprecedented offer of two hours’ free parking at roughly 2,300 city-owned spaces in the area for the duration of the pilot.

The latest figures released by the city show the pilot project has improved service for the 72,000 people who ride King streetcars every day.

The biggest gains have been for westbound riders during the evening rush hour, for whom average trips in the pilot area were 2.5 minutes, or about 13 per cent, faster last month than before the project started.

In addition to reduced average travel times, the city says that the number of excessively slow streetcar trips has been significantly reduced.



›  Trump signs bill to end 3-day government shutdown as Democrats relent


WASHINGTON—U.S. President Donald Trump signed a bill reopening the government late Monday, ending a 69-hour display of partisan dysfunction after Democrats reluctantly voted to temporarily pay for resumed operations. They relented in return for Republican assurances that the Senate will soon take up the plight of young immigrant “dreamers” and other contentious issues.

The vote set the stage for hundreds of thousands of federal workers to return on Tuesday, cutting short what could have become a messy and costly impasse. The House approved the measure shortly thereafter, and Trump later signed it behind closed doors at the White House.

But by relenting, the Democrats prompted a backlash from immigration activists and liberal base supporters who wanted them to fight longer and harder for legislation to protect from deportation the 700,000 or so younger immigrants who were brought to the country as children and now are here illegally.

Read more:

Why a U.S. government shutdown holds risks for Democratic senators facing re-election

U.S. government shutdown spoils Trump’s first-year celebrations

U.S. Embassy in Israel will move to Jerusalem by 2019, Mike Pence says

Democrats climbed onboard after two days of negotiations that ended with new assurances from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that the Senate would consider immigration proposals in the coming weeks. But there were deep divides in the Democratic caucus over strategy, as red-state lawmakers fighting for their survival broke with progressives looking to satisfy liberals’ and immigrants’ demands.

Under the agreement, Democrats provided enough votes to pass the stopgap spending measure keeping the government open until Feb. 8. In return, McConnell agreed to resume negotiations over the future of the dreamers, border security, military spending and other budget debates. If those talks don’t yield a deal in the next three weeks, the Republican promised to allow the Senate to debate an immigration proposal — even if it’s one crafted by a bipartisan group and does not have the backing of the leadership and the White House, lawmakers said. McConnell had previously said he would bring a deal to a vote only if Trump supported it.

Sixty votes were needed to end the Democrats’ filibuster, and the party’s senators provided 33 of the 81 the measure got. Eighteen senators, including members of both parties, were opposed. Hours later the Senate passed the final bill by the same 81-18 vote, sending it to the House, which quickly voted its approval and sent the measure on to President Donald Trump.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders predicted that operations would return to normal by Tuesday morning.

The plan is far from what many activists and Democrats hoped when they decided to use the budget deadline as leverage. It doesn’t tie the immigration vote to another piece of legislation, a tactic often used to build momentum. It also doesn’t address support for an immigration plan in the House, where opposition to extending the protections for the dreamers is far stronger.

The short-term spending measure means both sides may wind up in a shutdown stalemate again in three weeks.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer lent his backing to the agreement during a speech on the chamber’s floor. “Now there is a real pathway to get a bill on the floor and through the Senate,” he said of legislation to halt any deportation efforts aimed at the younger immigrants.

The White House downplayed McConnell’s commitment, and said Democrats caved under pressure. “They blinked,” principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah told CNN. In a statement, Trump said he’s open to immigration deal only if it is “good for our country.”

Immigration activists and other groups harshly criticized the deal reached by the Democratic leadership.

Cristina Jimenez, executive director of United We Dream, said the members of the group are “outraged.” She added that senators who voted Monday in favour of the deal “are not resisting Trump, they are enablers.”

Other groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union expressed disappointment and shared similar criticism.

A block of liberal Democrats — some of them 2020 presidential hopefuls — stuck to their opposition. Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Dianne Feinstein of California, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Cory Booker of New Jersey voted no, as did Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Feinstein said she wasn’t persuaded by McConnell’s assurances and did not know how a proposal to protect the more than 700,000 younger immigrants would fare in the House.

Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana voted no on the procedural motion to reopen the government — the only no vote among 10 incumbent Democrats facing re-election this year in states won by Trump in 2016. Tester said in a statement that the 17-day budget did not include any funding for community health centres that are important to his rural state, nor did the deal include additional resources for border security.

The short-term funding measure includes a six-year reauthorization of the children’s health insurance program, which provides coverage for millions of young people in families with modest incomes. It also includes $31 billion in tax cuts, including a delay in implementing a tax on medical devices.

The votes came as most government offices cut back drastically or even closed on Monday, as the major effects of the shutdown were first being felt with the beginning of the workweek.

Republicans have appeared increasingly confident that Democrats would bear the brunt of criticism for the shutdown. The White House and GOP leaders said they would not negotiate with Democrats on immigration until the government was reopened, and White House officials boasted that Trump didn’t reach out to any Democratic lawmakers during the shutdown.

In fact, Trump, who regularly disrupted negotiations in recent weeks, had been a relatively subdued player in the weekend debate. On Monday, he accused Democrats of prioritizing services and security for non-citizens over U.S. citizens. “Not good,” his first tweet said. In a second tweet, he said, “Democrats have shut down our government in the interests of their far left base. They don’t want to do it but are powerless!”

Trump’s first tweet appeared to undercut comments by his legislative affairs director, Marc Short, who told CNN that the immigrants in question are law-abiding and “productive to our society.” Short said the administration wants to “find a pathway for them” to stay in the U.S.

Although the Democrats initially dug in on a demand for an immigration deal, they had shifted to blaming the shutdown on the incompetence of Republicans and Trump. The Democrats seemed sensitive to being seen by voters as willing to tie up government operations to protect immigrants in the U.S. illegally.

In an impassioned closed-door meeting, Schumer told his members that McConnell’s pledge was the best deal they were going to get.

On the Senate floor, No. 2 Senate GOP leader John Cornyn of Texas said that for shutting down the government, the Democrats “got nothing.” He added that even though McConnell promised to take up the immigration bill by February, “he was going to do that anyway.”

While lawmakers feuded, signs of the shutdown were evident at national parks and in some federal agencies. Social Security and most other safety-net programs were unaffected by the lapse in federal spending authority. Critical government functions continued, with uniformed service members, health inspectors and law enforcement officers set to work without pay.


 

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