Canadians rejected Trump-style politics in the last campaign, but the economic “anxiety” that helped elect the new president also exists in Canada and, if ignored, people will “lash out,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warns.
In a meeting with the Toronto Star editorial board, Trudeau cautioned that the rising tide of populism with Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S., the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom and nationalist movements in Western Europe are not necessarily a foreign phenomenon.
“Canadians faced an election a year ago that was filled with very similar rhetoric as we’re hearing around the world right now, whether it was the barbaric cultural practices line that the Conservatives seem intent on re-engaging with in terms of their own leadership — at least some of them,” said Trudeau in reference to Conservative leadership hopeful Kellie Leitch.
“We as a country chose a different option than some of the other countries seem poised (to) or have chosen.”
Trudeau said his 2015 campaign against Stephen Harper’s Conservatives “reflected better the angst and frustration that so many Canadians were feeling and, quite frankly, people in the middle class around the world are feeling.”
“We didn’t do it to the same degree of anger — we tried to channel it into hope instead — but the recognition of the same issue was there,” he said, emphasizing that Trump resonated with American voters who feel left behind by globalization and rapid technological change.
But the prime minister made clear he’s heard the message and seen the examples where voter discontent has fuelled political upheaval in other jurisdictions.
“We have to understand that a lot of the frustration and anxiety comes from worry and anxiety linked to economic opportunity,” Trudeau said.
“People are feeling that they’re not well-suited for the pace of change that the planet is going through, that our Western economies are going through.
“And unless we make significant changes around who gets the benefit of economic growth — unless we’re much better about including everyone in the success of our country — then people will start to lash out,” he said.
Trudeau won a majority mandate in the October 2015 election with the promise to improve economic fortunes of the middle class. Since taking power, his government has cut income taxes and bolstered child-care benefits to tackle the disparity some voters feel.
“Obviously I think that our prescription for how to deal with it is slightly more anchored in a chance for success than the Republican vision, but that might just be partisan limitations that I have rather than a cool analysis.”
On issues such as trade, immigration, refugees and immigration, Trudeau’s government is at polar opposites to the views Trump expressed during the campaign. But it’s on the economic front where the prime minister sees common ground with the celebrity billionaire businessman-turned-politician, a shared recognition that many citizens in each country are worried about their futures.
“We don’t seem to have exactly the same basket of policy solutions on that but I know that in what we got elected on to do, there’s a connection,” Trudeau said.
“I’m always going to look for ways to align our interests where we agree and work constructively on areas where we disagree.”
In a wide-ranging discussion with Star editors and reporters, Trudeau also touched on:
“We’re continuing to engage . . . but we’re being very cautious and responsible about it,” he said.
“I’m under no illusion about some the challenges that Iran is facing internally and poses on the regional and indeed global stage,” the prime minister said. “But as I’ve said many times, I think it’s important to talk to people you disagree with.”
Having to rely on intermediaries in diplomatic chats, such as Italy and Oman in the case of Hoodfar’s release, was “perhaps less effective than if we had had representation directly,” Trudeau said.
The previous Conservative government closed Canada’s embassy in Tehran and expelled Iranian diplomats from Ottawa in 2012. Asked whether the Liberal government was looking to reverse that decision, Trudeau sounded a cautious note.
“It’s something we are working towards but not something that we’re going to make an imminent announcement on,” he said.
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Seven families have filed a joint human rights complaint against the York Region District School Board for “racial and religious discrimination” allegedly faced by their children while they were at school.
The complaint was filed with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal on Friday by the Vaughan African Canadian Association and National Council of Canadian Muslims on behalf of the families.
“YRDSB staff neglected to follow policy and protocol,” said Shernett Martin, executive director of VACA, speaking at a news conference Friday with a diverse group of parents and community groups calling for transparency and change at the board.
“The culture that exists relies on the code of protecting their system, even when that system is negatively affecting our children,” she said.
The families were not named in the complaint, but alleged incidents are described in detail. Among the complaints cited are:
The complaint also cites the case of a Markham principal who was found to have posted anti-Muslim Facebook posts. While Ghada Sadaka later apologized for the “discriminatory” posts, the complaint says the board “failed to follow its own policy … in carrying out a transparent and fair investigation.” At the time, the board said it could not comment on “personnel matters.”
According to the complaint, “each child no longer felt safe at their school. Their grades were affected, and their social skills were affected. They no longer wanted to go to school, take part in activities and had anxiety when approached by teachers in question.”
A spokeswoman for the York school board said, “Given we have not received the complaint, it would be inappropriate to discuss it.” Christina Choo-Hum said “we cannot speak to the specifics of individual students, nor would it be appropriate to discuss matters that may come before the tribunal.”
Previously, director of education, J. Philip Parappally has said: “We all share a goal to create learning environments that are safe and welcoming for all students and staff. As one of the most diverse and highest performing jurisdictions in the province, our achievement comes in concert with equity and well-being.”
Education Minister Mitzie Hunter said in an email to the Star Friday, “every student — regardless of background or personal circumstances — is entitled to a safe, inclusive and accepting school environment, which is why last week I asked the York Region DSB to provide detailed information on how the board will investigate and address these complaints in writing by Jan. 13, 2017.”
The complaint also suggests several remedies including: mandatory equity training, an equity audit looking at hiring, promotion, protection of religious freedoms, the appointment of an education ombudsman, a public apology by the board and mandatory training and appropriate consequences for any teacher or principal found to have violated the human rights of students and families.
Over the past year, the Star has detailed numerous controversies at the York board, including allegations of racism, and growing discontent among staff and community members who fear equity work and policies are being dismantled.
The Star first wrote about parent Charline Grant’s human rights complaint against the board in February over how her son was treated in his Vaughan school. Her husband Garth Bobb said the complaint about their son, who was allegedly targeted because of his race and religion, is still ongoing.
Last month, the head of equity for the board, Cecil Roach, wrote a scathing letter to senior staff, blasting the board for allegedly failing to properly deal with complaints of racism and fear of reprisals among those doing work in the equity field.
“York has become one of the most diverse regions in the country,” said Bernie Farber, executive director of Mosaic Institute, who was as the press conference. “The board needs to reflect that.”
Sveta Kohli said she couldn’t get out of bed for days after she learned that Ontario’s medical watchdog was again refusing — for the third time — to send her complaint about Dr. Paul O’Connor to a public discipline hearing.
“They’ve discredited me completely,” she said in a tearful interview with the Star. “I feel hopeless. It’s despicable.”
For over a decade, the Toronto woman has been embroiled in a bureaucratic and legal nightmare that she says has taken a severe toll on her mental health, and has led her to lose confidence in the oversight of medical professionals in Ontario.
Her complaint of alleged sexual abuse at the hands of the former St. Michael’s Hospital neurologist has bounced back and forth between the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario’s committee that handles complaints and the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board (HPARB) — the civilian body that hears appeals from that college committee.
O’Connor has always denied the allegations.
Twice, HPARB ordered the college’s Inquiries, Complaints and Reports committee to take another look at Kohli’s complaint. The board found that in those first two instances, the complaints committee focused on Kohli’s interactions with O’Connor when she was no longer his patient, and failed to adequately review her allegations from when she was his patient.
And so the complaints committee took a third look, and just a few weeks ago, Kohli and her lawyer received the news: the complaint would still not be sent to the college’s discipline committee for a public hearing.
The committee said its decision was largely due to the passage of time since the complaint was first submitted, which could make it difficult for the doctor to mount a defence. O’Connor, who told the committee he has a serious health condition, also voluntarily resigned last year and promised not to reapply for a licence in any jurisdiction, which the committee also took into account.
Rosy Rumpal, Kohli’s lawyer, said her client is now considering her options.
“Given the evidence and numerous records available to the college from the first instance of the reporting in 2006, the issue of boundaries was clear, and the matter should have been referred directly to the discipline committee,” she said.
“Had this been done from the outset, we may very well have witnessed a completely different result — and expeditiously. This back and forth between HPARB and (the college) over 10 years has been a pointless exercise in administrative law and has left my client in an even worse position.”
In that most recent decision from the college, there was one particular passage that increased Kohli’s frustration and sadness:
“There has been a considerable societal shift in attitude towards allegations of sexual abuse since the complaints committee first considered this case,” wrote a three-member panel of the committee, chaired by Dr. Carol Leet, former president of the college, in a ruling obtained by the Star.
“And it may well be that if a case with identical facts were to be presented to the (complaints) committee today, the committee would refer it to the discipline committee for a full hearing with live witnesses, cross examination, and so on.”
Instead, the panel ordered that O’Connor come to the college to be cautioned and so they could discuss with him, in person, “aspects of his conduct, for example, making comments to a patient which could be construed as sexualized in nature.”
Had a discipline hearing been ordered, O’Connor would have faced a range of penalties if he was found guilty of sexual abuse, up to revocation of his licence and an order to pay Kohli’s counselling costs.
“I have a feeling they just don’t want to hear it,” Kohli told the Star after deciding to go public with her story. (HPARB lifted a publication ban on Kohli’s name at her request.)
O’Connor, who is well known for his work in the field of multiple sclerosis, has always denied the allegations against him, and recently issued another denial to the Star through his lawyer, Keary Grace.
“He has no further comment on this matter,” she said.
College spokeswoman Kathryn Clarke pointed out that HPARB did not direct the complaints committee to come to a specific disposition in reconsidering the case, and so it was up to the committee to come to its own.
Dispositions can include taking no further action, providing advice or recommendations, cautioning the physician, or requiring the doctor to complete a continuing education program, she said.
“In a small number of very serious cases, the committee may refer a specified allegation of professional misconduct or incompetence to the college’s discipline committee, where it believes that referral is in the public interest, and that the available information has a reasonable chance of supporting a successful prosecution,” she said.
According to the most recent complaints committee decision, Kohli had seen O’Connor as a patient on several occasions between 1998 and 2003, although she’s adamant it was until 2004. She had been seeing him with concerns about a potential diagnosis for multiple sclerosis, a disease she now knows she does not have.
Her complaint includes allegations that during her medical visits to O’Connor in spring 2003, he suggested she “looked only 28 or 29 and aged like a bottle of wine and he would like to drink her,” according to the most recent complaints committee decision.
She also alleged in the complaint and in her interview with the Star that kissing and touching was sometimes involved, that O’Connor rubbed his genitals against her, had her give him a massage at the hospital and asked about her sexual history when it was not medically necessary to do so.
After she was no longer his patient, they continued talking over email until early 2006 and occasionally saw each other in person until late 2005, Kohli said, when she alleges O’Connor tried to pin her down in her home and kiss her.
In previous responses to the complaints committee, O’Connor said he did meet Kohli on some of the occasions she mentioned, but nothing improper happened and his comments were made in a “joking and teasing” way.
He said boundaries were “strictly maintained” while she was his patient, and that nothing sexual or improper was said or done, and that they became casual friends after the doctor-patient relationship ended.
The complaints committee, in its first ruling, decided to “counsel” O’Connor on being more vigilant on boundaries and to take a boundaries course, which he did.
In its first decision to send Kohli’s complaint back to the committee, HPARB noted that she was not given time to reply to O’Connor’s responses. HPARB also found the complaints committee did not follow up on its request to view Kohli’s report to Toronto police about O’Connor. (No criminal charges have ever been laid.)
This year when the complaints committee again decided not to send the matter to the discipline committee, it also found that O’Connor provided evidence that he has a serious medical condition “that would significantly impair his ability to defend himself in the event that the committee referred these allegations to the discipline committee.”
Kohli is demanding to know why the complaint was never sent to the discipline committee in the first place nearly 10 years ago and to know more about O’Connor’s medical history. She is ready to testify about her interactions with O’Connor in a public hearing, but feels her attempts at being heard by the regulatory body have always been dismissed.
She wants O’Connor’s licence revoked — which the discipline committee has the power to do even when a doctor has resigned — and to know if more patients have similar allegations against him.
“I want (the college) to tell me why in 10 years — forget this societal shift in attitude — why did they barbarically invade my credibility and dehumanize me and treat me as if I don’t exist?” she said.
“I want zero tolerance. I want government regulation. Somebody needs to hold them accountable.”
In the beginning of the long complaints process, Kohli wanted to remain anonymous. She felt ashamed and isolated. But with time and education, and through her work as an addictions counsellor and trainer and facilitator with assaulted women, immigrants and refugees, she said she realized none of what she alleges was her fault.
She said she still does not feel comfortable being alone with a male doctor today, or even in the elevator alone with a man, and probably never will. But after many years of anguish, which she said included being institutionalized, she has come to a place where she is ready to speak openly about her experience.
Every morning, she reads a card that says “No Shame,” and does her chanting and meditation. Some days are better than others.
When other women tell her of their own traumatic experiences, she sometimes forgets her own. She wants to tell them she believes them, because she said almost no one said the same to her.
“Why come out publicly now? Because it took 13 years to realize that it was never my mistake. Never.”
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Air Miles Canada says it won’t reimburse collectors who spent their points in anticipation of an expiration policy that will no longer take effect at the end of the year.
The company that runs the Air Miles loyalty points program, LoyaltyOne, announced Thursday it was cancelling plans that would have seen collectors lose miles older than five years.
While some celebrated the news, others — who had scrambled to redeem their miles ahead of the expiry — were angered by the about face.
Air Miles Canada’s Twitter account told two customers the company would not be reimbursing collectors who spent their points to avoid having them expire.
The account sent tweets saying the company would not accept returns, cancellations or exchanges due to the cancellation of the expiry policy, once booked.
The Air Miles reward program launched in 1992 and has more than 11 million active collector accounts.
WASHINGTON—When Donald Trump named his Treasury secretary, Teena Colebrook felt her heart sink.
She had voted for the president-elect on the belief that he would knock the moneyed elites from their perch in Washington, D.C. And she knew Trump’s pick for Treasury — Steven Mnuchin — all too well.
OneWest, a bank formerly owned by a group of investors headed by Mnuchin, had foreclosed on her Los Angeles-area home in the aftermath of the Great Recession, stripping her of the two units she rented as a primary source of income.
“I just wish that I had not voted,” said Colebrook, 59. “I have no faith in our government anymore at all. They all promise you the world at the end of a stick and take it away once they get in.”
The prospect of Mnuchin leading the Treasury Department drew plaudits from many in the financial sector. A former Goldman Sachs executive who pivoted in the early 2000s to hedge fund management and movie production, he seemed an ideal emissary to Wall Street.
When asked on Wednesday about his credentials to be Treasury secretary, Mnuchin emphasized his time running OneWest — which not only foreclosed on Colebrook but also on thousands of others in the aftermath of the housing crisis caused by subprime mortgages.
“What I’ve really been focused on is being a regional banker for the last eight years,” Mnuchin said. “I know what it takes to make sure that we can make loans to small and midmarket companies and that’s going to be our big focus, making sure we scale back regulation so that we make sure the banks are lending.”
But the prospect of Mnuchin leading the Treasury Department prompted Colebrook and other OneWest borrowers who say they unfairly faced foreclosure to contact The Associated Press. Colebrook wishes she could meet with Trump to explain why she feels betrayed by his Cabinet selection after believing that his presidency could restore the balance of power to everyday people.
“He doesn’t want the truth,” she said. “He’s now backing his buddies.”
The Trump transition team has been sensitive to preserving trust with its voters. Senior adviser Kellyanne Conway publicly warned that supporters would feel “betrayed” if former critic Mitt Romney was named secretary of state, for instance.
For Mnuchin, the fundamental problem stems from the Great Recession. His investor group was the sole bidder to take control of the troubled bank IndyMac in 2009. The group struck a deal that left the Federal Deposit Insurance Commission responsible for taking as much as 80 per cent of the losses on former IndyMac assets and rebranded the troubled bank as OneWest.
The combination of OneWest’s profitability, government guarantees and foreclosure activities drew the ire of activist groups like the California Reinvestment Coalition. It found the bank to be consistently one of the most difficult to work out loan modifications with even though OneWest never drew a major response from government regulators.
By June of 2014, five years after taking over OneWest, Mnuchin sold the bank for $3.4 billion at a tremendous profit.
Colebrook said she learned the hard way about OneWest’s tactics, after the regional bank acquired her home lender, First Federal Bank of California, in late 2009.
In 1998, she bought a triplex for $248,000 in Hawthorne, California, not too far from Los Angeles International Airport.
She rented out two of the units and lived in the third. Colebrook refinanced her mortgage in order to renovate the property and help buy additional homes to generate rental income.
By the time the financial crisis struck in 2008, she had an interest-only mortgage on the triplex known as a “pick-a-payment” loan. Her monthly payments ran as high as $2,000 and only covered the interest on the debt. Then she got ensnarled in the economic downturn.
“All my tenants lost their jobs in the crash,” Colebrook said. “They couldn’t pay. It was a knock-on effect.”
Over five years, she tried unsuccessfully to adjust her loan with OneWest through the Treasury Department’s Home Affordable Modification Program. But she said that One West Bank lost paperwork, provided conflicting statements about ownership of the loan and fees and submitted charges that were unverified and caused her loan balance to balloon. By the time she lost her home in foreclosure in April 2015, the payoff balance totalled $517,662.
Colebrook said she is still challenging the foreclosure in court.
She now lives with her boyfriend in the small California city of San Luis Obispo. She volunteers at a homeless shelter, knowing that she could just as easily have ended up there.
“I cook at the homeless shelter because there but the grace of God go I.”
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